LYJ

Month: December, 2009

Hot Yoga Bliss

I’ve made a special discovery during my holidays in Toronto and that is hot yoga.

I wanted to get some exercise but didn’t want to join a gym and wanted to try something new. So I looked up some yoga studios and found out that many of them were offering one week unlimited trial access for just $20. Then I found the best deal of them all – 30 days of unlimited class for just $30! So in early December, I went down to Kula Yoga Annex and signed up for it.

The studio is very chill and relaxing. Some yoga places can be pretentious but I found people friendly at the desk and in change rooms. The “hot” part of hot yoga is the temperature of the room that we practice in – it’s around 37°, which is bearable (hot enough but still breathable). They recommend bringing a beach size towel to put over the mat and half-way through my first class, I was glad that I took the suggestion because I was sweating buckets. The poses vary in difficulty but your body moving and generating heat in that environment is a serious workout! They don’t do Bikram yoga – which I believe is a set series of poses practiced repeatedly – but they do Anusara yoga, focusing on alignment. I have never left the studio feeling like I did too much or pulled something because they are mindful of proper alignment. Every class that I have been to has been different, which keeps my body and mind guessing.

I also went to one restorative reiki class, which was 90 minutes long. I didn’t know what to expect when I was told to grab two thick blankets, two bolsters, two blocks and a belt. A reiki practitioner asked me to pick a word out of a pouch so I did and my word was “patience”. I agreed to have reiki done during the course of the class but didn’t really know what it was. A restorative class consisted of probably a dozen or so poses and variations using lots of props. We would go into a pose then stay in it for a while before adjusting or doing a different pose. It was very suitable for people of all levels and I was surprised at how fast the 90 minutes passed by. The reiki practitioner went from person to person waving her hands over their bodies and meditating over them. When she came to me, I felt warmth in certain parts of my body but no touch. After the class, I asked what she was doing and she said that she was concentrating on getting all the energy in the room and focusing it on me and meditating on the word that I picked. I am not sure what it all means but I accepted it.

So the verdict is – I absolutely LOVE hot yoga…it is challenging but refreshing and detoxifying. My experience at Kula yoga has been very positive. I love their soaps! Their instructors are professional, patient, and encouraging. With my new Yogitoes towel, I am ready for my hot yoga journey in Adelaide!

Selca?

I heard this term the other day and decided to google it…then I stumbled onto this page about self-camera. While I don’t take pictures of myself on webcam or bathrooms, I sometimes think I should practice taking better pictures.

I posted an album on Facebook containing pictures of get-togethers I’ve been to in the past few weeks and the more I look at pictures of myself, I can’t help but think that I look funny. Funny is not really the word that I am looking for but it will do. I look the same in most pictures. Hell, my face hasn’t changed a bit since I was in kindergarten. One of my cousins went through a phase and became unrecognizably pretty when she became an adult, although plastic surgery was never out of the question. I hoped that I too would go through a phase and blossom into an unrecognizably pretty woman but I think that hope is shot.

Not that I am the type to stress over appearance very much. I only started highlighting my hair when I turned 22 and I don’t invest a lot of time into “getting ready to go out”. I’m usually good to go as long as I’ve put some alba moisturizer on my face and burt’s bees honey lip balm on my lips. Perhaps this lack of attention is to blame but make up can only do so much. Ah whatever, I’m rambling.

Holiday dinner my way

This holiday season, I wanted to prepare an all-Korean holiday meal for my parents, especially for my dad who has raised me as a foodie. Because of him, I ate all kinds of food starting at an early age to develop my palate. I didn’t want to cook up a whole turkey dinner because nobody in my family has an appetite big enough for that, so I decided to do my take on the holiday dinner. Two mentionable items are “sam gye tang” and “su jung gwa”.

Instead of stuffing a turkey with bread and seasonings, I stuffed cornish hens with ginseng, sweet rice, garlic, and jujubes. I then brought it to a rolling boil for 20 mins followed by almost 6 hours of simmering. It is considered to be a health food, as many Korean foods are. While it was simmering, I had to tend to it by skimming off foam and fat that rose up to the surface. Here are some pictures of my sam gye tang.

For dessert, I prepared, su jung gwa, which is a replacement for sugar & carb-loaded ginger cookies. It is a cold tea made from steeping cinnamon and ginger in water, then adding some Splenda and dried persimmons. To serve, I added some pine nuts.

Of course there were side dishes like roasted seaweed, seafood pancakes, sweet fried chicken and kimchi. Sam gye tang and su jung gwa are my Korean substitutes for Canadian holiday dinner favourites and… – yes, I am biased but it’s true – they are much healthier too.

Tis’ the season

Merry Christmas!

However you spend today and the rest of 2009, I hope that it will be filled with happiness and love.

That sick feeling

When I was living in residence, I got sick once with a very high fever. I didn’t bother telling my parents because I didn’t want to worry them. Fortunately, I had really good friends who took care of me day and night and made me lemon and honey tea and a giant pot of chrysanthemum tea non-stop. But I remember thinking back then that I should be more mindful of my health and not shrug off little warning signs so that I won’t get so sick again.

So when my head felt stuffy this morning with a slight sore throat, I went into a healing-mode and ate soft porridge with lemon tea and a shot of ginseng extract, which tastes awful but gave me a boost of energy. I’ve been mellowing out the entire day and I plan to hit the bed with a book before 11p.m., which is super early for me. Hopefully a cup of neo-citron tea will do its usual trick and I will wake up feeling better tomorrow, ready to brave the weather to my hot yoga class downtown. 🙂

Lonely Heart

Smile though your heart is aching
Smile even though it’s breaking.
When there are clouds in the sky
You’ll get by.

If you smile through your pain and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You’ll see the sun shining through
For you.

Light up your face with gladness,
Hide every trace of sadness.
Although a tear may be ever so near
That’s the time you must keep on trying
Smile, what’s the use of crying.
You’ll find that life is still worthwhile
If you just smile.

No Long Distance Relationship

Before I came back to Toronto, Jenn said to me, “You two [Shawn and I] are going to be apart for so long! You are going to miss him so much!”, and I gave her a weak “Yeah…” with some hesitation. The time apart is only for 50 days or so and we planned to keep in touch over the internet so I wasn’t sure that I was going to miss him that much. I was wrong.

Chatting on MSN isn’t enough to really get a feel for how he is doing and an hour on Skype passes by in a blink. Every morning when I get up, it seems like forever since we have spoken. There’s nothing in particular to talk about but just spending time together is impotant. I wonder if he thinks about me during the day. I get nervous about the stability from time to time as it is my nature, but I work hard to fight it off. I am hopeful and anxious when I think of our new adventure in the new year. And above all, I can’t stop being giddy about giving him a big hug at the Vancouver airport arrival gate.

Visiting with Friends

I had two good catch ups with some friends and their babies this week!

On Wednesday night, I went over to Jeremy, Rachel and Sam’s house.

It looks like Sam is doing a funky dance! We had a mac & cheese dinner with salad (and bacon for Jeremy and me) followed by some really good soft shortbread cookies. I am surprised by how fast Sam is growing. I visited him at the hospital when he was “no days old” and now he’s walking around, saying words, and doing sign language. Last time I was over was last Christmas and Jeremy invited me to change Sam’s diaper. This year, I had a chance to watch him take his nightly bath. It was very cute and they give Sam a great environment to grow up in. It was great to share what has been going on and be on the same page with each others’ lives. I am excited for their baby #2!

On Thursday, I spent the day chatting with Nicky and Grace.

We went shopping at Markville mall and picked up a rotisserie chicken dinner to have at her home. They had moved way out to a very nice community in Markham since I last saw them. We celebrated with fancy organic white grape non-alcoholic wine. It was my first time really meeting Grace and she is such a smart and easy-going baby! Although she doesn’t talk coherently, it was clear that her mind was going hundred miles per hour just absorbing everything that was happening. I left with a bag of freshly baked gingersnaps!

This weekend is a meet up with my future classmates at Second Cup. I hope it will be a good time to ease our nerves before making the big step and hopping onto a plane – too late to back out now!

25 more sleeps!

Only 25 more sleeps before I take off!

It’s been almost a month since I’ve been back at home and I have been really enjoying my time. I am actually “busy” doing things, like unpacking at the new house, getting my family’s first real Christmas tree, Christmas shopping, seeing friends, trying out hot yoga, going to workshops, taking care of the paperwork, and reading.

Unpacking is going to take a while, especially given that we don’t really use the bottom two floors – and I’ve accepted that. Whenever I have some time, I try to organize things but my mom usually comes in afterwards and re-organizes things.

Now, I know some people say, “Koreans don’t celebrate Christmas.” While it is true that we don’t all deck the halls in lavishing ways, bake batches of sugary cookies, and prepare ginormous turkey dinners to feed a village of gluttons, we observe the holy day in our own way. Growing up, I decorated artificial Christmas trees, wrote letters to Santa and heard carols. But the real emphasis of Christmas was on baby Jesus as I learned from my parents and Sunday school teachers. The big event for Christmas was going to attend the special church service. I would take being mindful of the true reason behind this season and celebrating modestly in my Korean way over being oblivious and blindly spending money and energy on irrelevant things any day. So take that, culturally-ignorant/insensitive people who don’t know Christmas.

So if you are wondering what I did for my Christmas shopping after reading that rant, I bought some small necessities that my family needs as gifts and I purchased gifts in their honour through Plan Canada. None of us really needs a new big ticket item or anything special so why not spend the money where it’s going to matter? Skylar will be getting/giving a mango tree (yay!), my brother – high energy biscuits to nourish children at times of need, my sister – birth certificate to prevent child trafficking, my mom – clean water for a family, and my dad – farming tools and seeds plus training . All of the money goes directly towards the gifts purchased. Our family did this last year and I feel good to be doing this again.

Freak out!

When I was on the yearbook committee in 2002-2003, one of the editors made an embarrassing mistake on their proof. In an aboriginal folklore text about a celebrated hunter, they wrote, “once upon a time, there was a great worrier…” That was funny at the time so when I go into an unnecessary panic mode, I try to recall that meeting.

It’s not that big of a deal but the housing situation in Australia is stressing me out. Of course I won’t be left out in the streets somewhere but I would still like a nice apartment with all the furnishings. Will I live in downtown (yes!) or in suburbs? How long will it take me to get to the school? Where do I buy food? What else can I do around the neighbourhood? Is the area safe?

Now, I prefer renting through a real estate agency because they have a company integrity to protect and are more law-abiding than private landlords. As much as Colliers in Saskatoon was unpleasant, they knew when they had to listen to us when we used certain magic words (e.g. hazardous, rentalsman, fire safety officer) and certain things did get resolved. And there are hard set rules that make it very easy to understand what each party agrees to. With landlords – even the nice ones – they may not be very quick at responding and when things are not on paper, guidelines can get murky. I would much rather pay the extra bucks to know that the property where my possessions are and I am living in is properly managed and up to par with the latest by-laws.

Shawn tells me sometimes that I worry too much and it’s true but it also has a calming effect. After a session of stressing over finding housing, I can relax for a while because I gave it some intense thought. But less than a month away until I leave! Eek!