Growing up, I realised there was an odd disconnect between my mind and my body.  My mind thinks I can do great things that my body, realistically, cannot. My mind thinks I can achieve great feats, but my body just cannot (without the proper diet and consistent training). My body will signal pains, aches and injuries to me, but my mind will not believe them. Excuses, they say, but I cannot tell what is real from what is made up.

I do know one thing for sure, though: When I sneeze twice in a row, my immunity system is compromised and I will likely be down with a cold/flu soon. I know this because I very rarely sneeze, and this is a consistent  pattern I first noticed when I was in poly: After two consecutive sneezes, I fall ill. And about 10 minutes ago, I sneezed. Twice.

Me falling sick comes as no surprise. The past few days have been direly long and hectic travelling back and forth across the island to various locations for various purposes. E.g. Go home to collect stationary/laptop/spare clothes, go Buona Vista to help out for LCG, go Paya Lebar to catch PF, flittering from site to even further sites for job interviews. In hindsight, it was a mistake to schedule interviews during an eventful weekend, but I didn’t foresee to be so involved in them. Regardless, I finished whatever I could and attended the interviews (both late, both after very busy events, sadly). I don’t think my interviewers were pleased about that, but I did the best I could in such circumstances.

If it is meant to be yours, my mother told me, it will be yours. I suppose this is the Asian mother’s equivalent of the Latin phrase que sera, sera.

Funny enough, in retrospect, I wonder why I dedicated considerable time and resources to an event / purpose I do not bother much about or believe in anymore. It was a sacrifice, but I must remind myself that I ultimately chose to do so to support someone (not so much of the cause). I hope it was worth it for him, in the end.

In other news: Transend coming – too weak, haven’t trained proper, and the spare tyres around my midsection and thighs are solidifying themselves. And my Hanoi post-trip blues are not going away as fast as I’d like. I keep looking out for blue skies, only to be met with grey ones. Still looking, though. There are silver linings everywhere.

 

Of city life, rock and chalk

I know. I’ve got an essay due – what am I doing here? Figured I needed to take a break and write about the fun happenings after my previous post (and my, what a while ago that was). In a nutshell, I found myself touching rock more often and encountering the bustling London life in a self-declared-fuck-everything-reading-week-break-thing after submission of my formative essays (of which I’ve come to regret ever so slightly in hindsight now), but I’m still enjoying myself tremendously here (but yeah, the weeklong in London coupled with essay-hell-rush meant a complete and utter depletion of fitness levels prior to coming here – consistency and discipline is key, of which I still have not mastered.

But that aside: Rocky crags and indoor boulder competitions, new friends made and finding/found my place within this larger place… It’s been enjoyable. It still is.

Chronologically, prepare for the visual vomit.

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Not long after my previous CNY post I came down with a bout of homesickness, to which I cured with googling for answers, talking it out with my other Singaporean flatmates and buying myself a £3.99 world map (little outdated, but it is very pretty). I figure wanderlust would solve uncomfortable and depressing feelings budding within me, and strangely enough it has. Seeing how small Europe is in relation to the rest of the world, and how small I am in the wider scope of things… I’ve got much to do and see in the upcoming days, weeks, months ahead.

Let’s begin with a rocky weekend at Sheffield.

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6b+

Not strong enough to dyno to the top of the rock, handholds too slopey/crimpy to pull myself up to a proper heel hook. I wonder if I was supposed to mantle but aside – Peak District outdoor bouldering in Sheffield. First time I’ve touched natural boulders in a cold and windy outdoors. Completed a few easy climbs, topped out (still fearful) before succumbing to the utter cold and wind. Too much for me it seems – and I was already bundled in four layers and two bottoms.

But it was beautiful nonetheless and makes me psyched for Font that’s coming up in two week’s time.

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Scaling up a traverse rote (grade 4). It’s nothing difficult to be honest, but it’s frightening when you’re up there and knowing when you fall there’s nothing below you but spotters and crash pads and proper earth (not the squishy kind you can roughly scrape from with a sprained ankle – the surface is hard enough to properly fracture something). But I took what Clarice said to heart and trusted my footwork – you sure do learn and grow a lot when there’s really nothing but you and the rock. I guess this is where commitment comes in, something I need to work on.

The Peak District trip happened over a weekend, but the night was the fun part cause the University club had its traditional climbing games. My flexibility got me far into the game but not enough for the final round. Stretch more then, and maybe I could grow just the tiniest bit in Ashima Shirashi’s full split-strength movements. Overall I enjoyed myself though, got to meet more people, open up to the others a little more and not feel so awkward with myself around them – they’re all such supportive and friendly people, and that comforts me when I keep putting myself down because of my perceived lack of ability (I’m okay, but there’s still a tremendous lot to improve still).

I need to shut up and not overthink more often.

And then, the next weekend was a beauty of a trip called London. Skipped a good few days of classes to run off to London and become a full-blown tourist. Splurged quite a bit but I’m insanely happy – I can officially tick it off my list (except I haven’t climbed there yet so… soon).

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Binky at the British Museum. I strongly believe you need at least two days to really cover this place. There’s just far too much to see, but I got to see Egyptian Mummies and so many artefacts that weren’t British at all so I think I covered quite a good bit that I’m interested in.

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St. Paul’s Cathedral on Millennium Bridge. It’s insanely lavish when you stand before it, towering over you with its intricate details and grand presence. I kept turning back to look at it because it’s just too beautiful when I was heading over to Borough Market.

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The London Eye. Well, to be honest I think the Singapore Flyer kind of spoiled this one for me. I can’t seem to remove that image from my mind, but it’s still amazing to see it with my own eyes – the real life inspiration for my home city, sans the cooling weather. Still beautiful.

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The beauty in itself. I think I subconsciously came to London just for this one landmark alone – Big Ben, which isn’t so big in all honesty, but big enough symbolically to represent “all” that is London. I was in awe staring at it because I really didn’t think I’d ever see something like this with my own eyes, when all this was just colour printed on glossy paper. But here you are, staring up at the splendid structure so utterly famous it was crowded with tourists left, right, centre.

I’m reminded of V for Vendetta – what it would have been if it did explode before your eyes but that’s only confined to green screens and visual effects.

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Walking down busy streets: I pretty much walked everywhere and all day really, to save fares on my Oyster card. Also it helped that I planned my itinerary geographically and everywhere in Central London is relatively nearby to each other (about half and hour to an hour’s walk, but hey more to see).

London sure is bustling, nothing new from Singapore but still so different. The weather, the sights/scenery, the people, the food, the atmosphere. You’d get caught up in the whirlwind of enjoying life, if you’re lucky really.

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I bit the bullet and walked the streets at night as well. Though I wouldn’t really recommend it, I just had to (but was wary and cautious the whole way). London sure is different at night at differing parts of the city. In the daytime Oxford Street is a shopper’s paradise, but at night it’s all glowing advertisements and empty streets. While peaceful, the element of danger is still present but lucky me nothing happened. I was prepared to run, on the safe side.

But that aside…

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This place. I adore this place. The Natural History Museum of London, brimming with so many exhibits of animals, plants, rocks/stones, fossils, earth, people and different time periods. I spent a good four hours here but still couldn’t cover everything I wanted but was immensely satisfied with dinosaur exhibits, taxidermised animals and fossils of prehistoric creatures. I’d live here if I could, no kidding.

I spent most of my time in London alone (since no one came with me) but where’s the fun in that? Through Couchsurfing I managed to meet up with some people (I wonder why they were all guys, but that didn’t really bother me) and they are truly interesting and genuine characters who were so nice as to spare me their time and conversations, and offer me cups of coffee as well. It was lovely meeting up with them and talking about anything and everything really, recounting our lives, the fun things we did, the adventures we had – really hope to meet with them again.

But I need to get my shit together first.

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The triple M squad, from left to right: Marco, me and Mark, who I didn’t really plan on meeting together but things happened to fall into place and we all met up for dinner and had fine chats about work, life, and all the fun bits in between.

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Initially we were supposed to grab Mexican food, recommended by le foodie Marco, but the place was closed for a party but we headed down the street to this pizza place that was PACKED. But somehow because we were three people (three’s a crowd they say), we got our table before couples (who were waiting around for their private tables). Fantastic luck and fantastic food as well – this whole pizza (bigger and wider than my fat head) only cost me £7 (SGD$14) and it was so good – fresh out of the oven with melted cheese and melt-in-your-mouth ham and tomato sauce… Ugh.

Yeah I got fat after London. I’m not gonna lie. I conceded my fitness levels have indeed fallen and I’ve gained weight / lost muscle, but I still retain my strength so… I guess this is the tradeoff?

It was a great night though (: Really nice to have company and make new friends (who are interested in the one thing you are in too: FOOD). I wonder what gastronomical delights the next few weeks will bring :9

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One of the days in London. Trying to walk off the pounds, but sadly weight isn’t lost as easily as the financial currency. I was surprised how sunny London was when I was there, except for the last few days before I left where it poured. Well, I’d like to think I’ve grown accustomed to England weather and come to love the grey skies.

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Outside King’s Cross Station where I checked out Platform 9 3/4 – far too touristy and too many people queueing up for a shot with the trolley going into Hogwarts for me, so skipped it and just wandered around the area instead.

These are things I can happily avoid.

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Honest Burgers. Last meal before heading back to Exeter. SO GOOD. Although the caramelized onions was a little too overpowering for my inexperienced palate, the meat was so tender and juicy, and the fries were generous and crispy – down to the last piece when I practically devoured my plate. I didn’t get to try Shake Shack or Five Guys cause… you know I still try to maintain my figure and my stomach has a capacity after delicious and filling market eats. But they’ll be things I’d definitely go back for, as the people ^^

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Back in James Owen Court. I don’t know if this was meant to be an artistic shot or I lost it for a second, but something about this sight captured my attention and I had to grab it. Maybe it’s knowing that things never really changed much even though I left for almost a week.

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Going for a run in the countryside. Though my stamina is considerably weaker, Exeter is flat and such a beaut to run through.

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This was a long time ago, but visited a farm with Mandy. It was beautiful, knowing that the countryside is just a 20 minute drive from the University – and it is glorious.

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Then came the bouldering competitions, the ones I went for even though I didn’t train AT ALL for them because I ran off to London. One was pre-planned, I asked if I could join that competition (and I was asked by the Boulder Sec before if I could compete for the University) so I knew that was coming. It was at Sheffield’s TCA and it was good fun. Unlimited tries, but just trying to score as many points as possible in the 20 so routes they provided.

I found that pretty all right – within my ability range sans the few that were really out of my zone. Overall it was still fun, but then Thursday night came and I was asked if I would like to replace someone who dropped out of an upcoming competition last Saturday. Unprepared, but sure why not. Nobody told me it was the LUBE or London Universities Bouldering Event, which was pretty prestigious in my eyes. These routes were more challenging but still immensely fun.

I surprised myself quite a bit during these competitions. I think bodily I’ve grown more aware of my capabilities and limitations – like there were routes I knew I could do, just required different betas and multiple attempts to get that a certain move when I wasn’t slipping or falling off the wall. Flashed a V5 which surprised me because I’m normally within a V2-V3 range, but that one was interesting and didn’t feel very hard at all.

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This is cool. Why can’t Singapore have this?

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Overhanging lead wall. Also cool, and super colourful.

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Attempting barefoot and being all action for my Instagram shot hahah, but really I’m hopeless without my chalk and my shoes. Chronic perspiration will be my downfall.

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Poser.

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But now the storm brews and I really need to focus on academia rather than stave off and think about climbing, Europe… I’ve got one last essay to complete and exams to study for (I know, I know, who studies while on exchange? Well I realised I’m not happy with minimal effort and borderline-pass-shitty results so I STUDY).

Sadly. Not my best effort as I will put in back in NTU, but it’s enough for me here.

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And of course, more food hahah. Salmon is considerably cheap here compared to Singapore so… spam the fatty fish!

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And a lovely dinner made for us by Quyhnnhu – vermicelli, fried Vietnamese spring rolls and fresh veggies. Her friends and her also shared with us some traditional folk dances in the UK which was eye-opening. Culture sure can be colourful and interesting, and it makes me wonder should I join dance in my final year hahah

Processed with VSCO with hb1 preset And so, my adventure ends. Only for now. One last essay to complete, but even that has to wait cause this weekend I’m technically packed with a 10K mud race in a few hours’ time and a flatmate dinner on Sunday. Then after that, need to plan accommodation and what to see in Europe (transportation all planned, and I realise I only have 1-3 days for each city).

What have I gotten myself into? No idea – time to run. Allez.

You’re here. Good morning.

I write this 4th January 2016, 12:10 AM, days late but oh so happy and calm, perhaps even strangely at peace. The New Year hype is slowly fading away as life carries on as per usual, but the lingering public attention still focuses on “New Year New Me’s” and whether it’s beneficial/detrimental to have New Year resolutions, and the probability of failing or excelling at them.

I figure it’s easier to set achievable goals and objectives. 2015 I managed to hit goals I missed out on in 2014, but they mostly came as a surprise that I didn’t intend for nor did I consciously focus all my energies and training on.

  1. Managed to break 10 pull-ups, hit max. of 12 before exams hit and the numbers fell back down.
  2. Three kipping muscle-ups (of horrendous, unsafe and bruise-worthy form) but I’m amazed I managed them anyway
  3. Got the technique for human flags, still need to train core hard for the float
  4. Became more confident with height and rails parkour-wise – I no longer cry or freak out excessively
  5. Handstands are better, but nowhere near completion
  6. Bid more people adieu, toxic or people I generally grew apart from and don’t really have much impact in my life anymore
  7. Self-esteem and -confidence grew (even if it was a little bit)
  8. Learnt that happiness is a choice that I have and I can make

The last two I deem the most important lessons and achievements I learnt/earned out of the whole list. Truly, no one is responsible for your own happiness and well-being except for yourself, but of course I speak from a position of fortune and privilege. I am blessed and very lucky to have the choice to be with people who I want to be with, and the ability to choose those whom I wish to grow and develop with. But I made it, and the onus is on me to choose how I wish to react and how hard I want to hit.

2015 for me was truly a good, if not great, year if I were to compare to 2014. My being as a person improved heaps, physically, mentally. Not so sure emotionally, but I feel like I’ve come a long way and I feel like I am in a far better place than before. I am only grateful to people for helping me feel so, to feel like I am in control. And I am in control.

There was a time when I felt everything was falling apart and I wasn’t worthy of what I had, of what I did have would crumble and I would be reduced to the 2014 bitter version of myself, and then I realised it was my own choice for feeling that way and self-sabotaging myself. In a strangely warped way, my selfish pride made me seem like a victim of circumstance, where I am helpless and everything that happened was someone else’s fault. I rid myself of my own accountability and rode on my selfish insecurities, but lucky me people fought me and fought for me to see through the stupid insolent fool I was.

2015 I realise that I am beautiful, of my own accord, and that requires my own validation and no one else’s (even though we as social beings see ourselves through the eyes of others – thanks Sociology). But yet, people see the strength and beauty in me that I could not, and they helped me see it (finally).

So here, in visuals: (Just some of) people who helped break me down, rid of the toxins and build me up.

The very eccentric coaches of the Singapore Calisthenics Academy. I am honestly not quite sure what propelled or compelled me to join Calisthenics (when I was running/climbing/parkour already) but somehow it was a contribution of factors, ranging from seeing other guys perform moves to being inspired by a group of secondary school students, who otherwise would become “at risk” kids… And then I took the plunge. And what a plunge it was – from injuring the nerves in my right shoulder (where I felt pins and needles constantly for a week and received electro-acupuncture treatment for it) to breaking down during supersets, to improving my overall fitness level. The conditioning helped me in my other sports, except I went into a hiatus for running (which I shall get back into this year).

Each coach pictured above has their own unique personalities, quirks, traits and specialties. Along with the people involved (but not pictured), I grew to love them as we trained together and died together every session (essentially). As they say, we weren’t there to maintain but to be pushed. And push they did, and pushed we were. Yet, four months in and the results are visible and addictive.

Cheers to 2016: May I do my homework (hahahahahha die liao), improve my upper body strength even more and achieve my human flag, back lever and stable handstand.

And then, him.

I won’t lie, many times throughout this year I felt like giving up on him, on me, on us. Why? Many times I felt like I wasn’t good enough for him, when he was the blazing sun and I was a mere winking and fading LED light, when he was the roaring ocean and I was a muddy puddle. My self-esteem took a hit and I felt the need to run, to cut my losses, take my leave. There was nothing I could offer, but I was blind to the fact I (as my love) was an offering in itself. I count myself lucky I have very, very, direly good friends who helped me see the err of my ways.

After all, he explained to me: It was my voice who caught his attention, and my personality that won him over and made it last. Sounds like a fairytale eh? But somehow it worked out, it is still working out. I learnt to communicate, to open up and be vulnerable… Take that one foot out the door and have faith.

I made a name for myself, and learnt not to rely on him for identity, for assurance. I used to be upset over being known as the “girlfriend” and the “+1” but I learnt over the course of 2015 to accept it and even enjoy it. Am I not lucky to have a partner who cherishes me and entertains my crude nonsense? His friends have said he is lucky to have someone like me, but perhaps the social stakes are higher for me, so yes I am very, very lucky to be the +1.

We’ve grown and come a long way. Come 2016, six months I would be away for exchange in the UK. I will miss him dearly, but I look forward to learning to love and support in other ways, come what may.

And then some. 2015 has been a year of growth for me. The good, the bad, the ugly, the beautiful, the offensive, the hilarious. I look forward to what this new year will bring, to not be a “New Me” but a “Better Me”. To learn and make meaning for myself, to train hard and eat hard, to come out of mi shell (hahahahha punny) and make new friends, confront fears and social anxieties and learn from many others.

I’m excited for 2016, and though I will miss and am missing already, adventure awaits. Stay tuned for Thursday when I finally fly.

An ode to the simple things.

I contemplated being cryptic and indirect in a passive way in writing this, but I realise I’m not exactly being honest with myself, and that is certainly not the intention of which I made this blog (without being overtly revealing as well, of course). Life lessons to myself in the making, so here goes:

Recently I saw posts on Facebook from an acquaintance befriended from parkour. She made her relationship status with her boyfriend “Facebook official” and later posted a photo of them dining at a pricey restaurant, high-end with lush, fine dining decor, glasses, low-lit romantic lighting. They are/were happy and I am happy for them too. It’s a pleasant change from the not-so-nice pasts we all encounter as part of growing up, a sort of compensation for the suffering we give and are given (if you want to see it in that way). Perhaps we finally forgive and are forgiven for our immature sins of our wayward youth.

I will admit there was a little tinge of jealousy and envy in the feelings of happiness upon seeing these posts (ahh, social media proves psychological studies and stats correct). I shamefully started comparing and wondering “why couldn’t I have that”, before I realised I do. I am fortunate in the sense I am in a healthy, mutually-exclusive and loving relationship (if not random, retarded and eccentric at times) and it does not require social media validation…

But that isn’t to say public postings of a relationship isn’t genuine nor fabricated; everything with a pinch of salt when it comes to the online sphere, eh? Many contradictory studies exist wherein couples not posting or overposting their affection to one another is fake/real but that’s too much to think about for me right now at 2:57AM. The way I see it – real life actions account more than immortalised filtered images. I once thought a couple I knew were insanely happy with one another from the Facebook and Instagram posts – apparently one party suffered under the other and they broke up eventually.

That was the wake-up call for me. So jealousy and envy aside, this post is a reminder of the little things I have taken for granted but wish to appreciate about my boyfriend: He cares for me, he asks for my welfare, he has sacrificed for me in my times of insecurity and failure, he wants me to grow and be happy even though it deviates from the path he hoped I would pursue alongside him, he does whatever he can for me to the best of his ability (emotionally, mentally, physically, financially, time-wise) and he loves me.

Whatever other people think of our relationship does not matter and should not matter to us – something he told me and I understand the significance of it now. If I continue to compare, I’m going to lose what I have now and it’s practically close to perfection (cause seriously who else enjoys holding calloused hands and can entertain and even add-on to the crude jokes I crack?). What a tragic mistake I would make if I did that.

So here – an ode to enjoy the lovely, little simple things. I am truly an easy person to please.

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Need to kill this comparison bug in me. But for now, rest. Tendon overstrain from human flag training (sian).

Cathartic.

They say work hard in silence, let your successes speak for themselves, or for me, let your (one) success speak for itself. But it doesn’t come without pain, grinding, struggling and a lot of frustrated screaming and cussing. It grants me some absolution to write this and get it off my chest:

I cried during a Calisthenics session last night. We were doing 30s tucked planche holds on parallettes then 30s bicep above-chin holds, 10 sets (of each) with minimal (15-20s) rest in between. It felt like hell, utter hell.

Gruelling as it was, it was a confusing war in my whole being: There are times my mind and body are in sync, there were times my mental gave out but my body defiantly would not let me drop, and then the reverse, there were times my body dropped but my mind screamed for me to get back up. Somewhere in the sixth or seventh set, after the 30s was up, I dropped and instantly wept.

But I got up and I fought to finish the whole workout, and I did. Failed at the very last set of 30s chin-holds but repaid it later after the lactic acid dissolved. Don’t ask me why I wept, I don’t know. The last time I cried was a couple months ago during another quite intensive workout. I remember them telling me I’ll get stronger after crying – perhaps I needed this again.

Was I becoming complacent? Was I becoming arrogant? Was I too stressed over something that my emotions gave out? Was my frustration at myself for being unable to sustain through the sets too high?

I think these are things I’ll never know, nor will I ever understand. But I’m trying, I’m still trying and being inspired by those like-minded around me, but still trying.

11/11/15: 12 good form + one swimming fish pull ups