Tuesday, December 21, 2010

"Where does my money go?"

Hey friends,

Welcome to my blog. As you may know, I am training for the Rome Marathon to raise funds for blood cancer research and patient services. Here's a sample of how your dollars will be used to help those battling blood cancers:
A donation of $25 provides patients and their loved ones with FREE booklets that contain up-to-date information on their disease and help them make informed decisions about their treatment options.

A donation of $50 makes possible a Family Support group with a trained facilitator where comfort can be found and experiences can be shared among patients and family members.

A donation of $100 helps supply laboratory researchers with supplies and materials critical to carrying out their search for cures.

A donation of $1,000 makes possible one-on-one conversations with health care specialists who provide patients with information about their disease, treatment options, and helps prepare them with questions for their health care team.
But ... does my money really help those in need? Where does my money REALLY go?
LLSC is proud to be one of the most efficiently managed non-profits in the country with approximately 75 cents of every dollar spent directly on mission related activities, such as Program Services, Research, Patient Services, Community Services, Advocacy, and Education & Outreach. The rest of the 25% goes to Administrative Costs.
Research: Research funded by the LLS has directly contributed to many breakthrough cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, bone marrow and stem cell transplantation and new, targeted oral therapies such as Gleevec(TM) which might never have happened were it not for the kinds of research funded by LLS.
Patient Services: LLS provides a wide range of services to patients such as family support groups, an extensive educational website with web "chat" support programs, free seminars and conferences.
"So, does my donation make a difference?"
The answer is a resounding, "Yes!" Every bit counts. I've had donations from $2 - $100 and I am extremely grateful to each donor. Every dollar goes towards creating a better future for those battling blood cancers, such as leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease, and myeloma.


Team in Training: Updates

Thursday, Dec 23, 2010: Wow ... I made the 1st milestone: $1,500! I am so excited! I'm confirmed for Rome! "Just" $4500 left :)

Tuesday, Dec 21, 2010: It's been a week since my last update. Just did some cross training this morning and will run later today (7k Easy). Still need to work on fundraising if I'm going to make it to Rome. Another option is to run the Around the Bay 30K race, which has a lower fundraising requirement, but will still need some work.

Tuesday, Dec 14, 2010: Updated photo - group photo from Group Training Session before our 12k long run. Enjoyed my much needed rest days. Time for a new week to begin. Today is a 6 km easy run =) Looking forward to it!

Saturday, Dec 11, 2010: Had a great run today! Today's run was the 12km long run. I paced with Alan, who could have ran much faster. I'm grateful for the running buddy. Now I need to make sure I do all my training during the week so I don't slow him down on Saturday. Oh! And today's run was emergency free (no pit stops required). I blame it on diet =) - thanks, Richard (one of the coaches) for the tips!

Friday, Dec 10, 2010: Today was our Transport Group Christmas Party. For those of you who don't know me, I'm a transportation planning grad student at the University of Toronto. I had some wine and a shot of whisky when I got back home. Then I decided to do my 5K easy run (~12am). I made a stop by the Metro to pick up some running food (smoothie, bananas, energy bar). I'm excited for tomorrow's long run (12km).

Thursday, Dec 9, 2010: Today was my "rest day". So I slept in and "rested" haha. I went for a light jog also just to loosen up and wow it's cold! I have a 5k easy run tomorrow :) Looking forward to that!

Wednesday, Dec 8, 2010: Thanks for the continual support everyone! The donations, personal messages, and smiles mean a lot to me. Today was supposed to be a 5km tempo run. I had a minor injury so decided to take it easier today. I did a 30 min bike workout and some strength training with Jireh (my brother, who visited from Western!). I also just watched an inspiring video on the Boston Marathon (posted on my blog).

Tuesday, Dec 7, 2010: Continually encouraged in my training and fundraising by friends. Feel very blessed. Did my 6K easy run, which consisted of some hill work on a treadmill and easy jogging around the track with Kelvin. By the way, training with others is AWESOME! Also, tested out a new pair of shoes (Newton's) and love them! (Note: After showing up to one of the training sessions in Converses, I was promptly told to go to a running store and get a "proper" pair of runners :p

Monday, Dec 6, 2010: Incredibly grateful to friends who have donated. Today's cross training consisted of 300 burpees. Nothing else, though it was pretty tough. Looking forward to hill/interval training tomorrow. Learned today that the cancer my uncle died from was lymphoma. My training is taking on new meaning with each passing day.

Saturday, Dec 4, 2010: Had a great run this morning with the TEAM. Inspired to be more consistent in my running and fundraising. Remembering the cause is beyond just Rome. Learned what NOT to eat the night before :P Had a bagel from What-A-Bagel for the 1st time after the run - best bagel ever! Made up for the chilly running weather (Weather Network has it at -4 C ... the high was -1 C.)

Saturday, Nov 20, 2010: Group training session this morning. Nice running route in the Yonge/Eglinton area. Run in Chucks (Converses), hoping to run Rome barefoot since I think that would be epic! Was promptly told to go to the Running Room to get a "proper" pair of shoes :p Had a lot of fun though and met a lot of great people! Looking forward to my training this week =)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Santa Story

Here's a moving story sent to me from a friend:

Three years ago, a little boy and his grandmother came to see Santa at Mayfair Mall in Wisconsin . The child climbed up on his lap, holding a picture of a little girl.

"Who is this?" asked Santa, smiling, "Your friend? Your sister?"

"Yes, Santa," he replied. "My sister, Sarah, who is very sick," he said sadly.

Santa glanced over at the grandmother who was waiting nearby, and saw her dabbing her eyes with a tissue.

"She wanted to come with me to see you, oh, so very much, Santa!" the child exclaimed. "She misses you," he added softly.

Santa tried to be cheerful and encouraged a smile to the boy's face, asking him what he wanted Santa to bring him for Christmas. When they finished their visit, the Grandmother came over to help the child off his lap, and started to say something to Santa, but halted.

"What is it?" Santa asked warmly.

"Well, I know it's really too much to ask you, Santa, but " the old
woman began, shooing her grandson over to one of Santa's elves to collect the little gift which Santa gave all his young visitors. "The girl in the photograph... my granddaughter well, you see ... she has leukemia and isn't expected to make it even through the holidays," she said through tear-filled eyes. "Is there any way, Santa . any possible way that you could come see Sarah? That's all she's asked for, for Christmas, is to see Santa."

Santa blinked and swallowed hard and told the woman to leave information with his elves as to where Sarah was, and he would see what he could do.

Santa thought of little else the rest of that afternoon. He knew what he had to do. "What if it were MY child lying in that hospital bed, dying," he thought with a sinking heart, "this is the least I can do."

When Santa finished visiting with all the boys and girls that evening, he retrieved from his helper the name of the hospital where Sarah was staying.

He asked the assistant location manager how to get to Children's Hospital.

"Why?" Rick asked, with a puzzled look on his face.

Santa relayed to him the conversation with Sarah's grandmother earlier that day. "C'mon.... I'll take you there," Rick said softly.

Rick drove them to the hospital and came inside with Santa. They found out which room Sarah was in. A pale Rick said he would wait out in the hall.

Santa quietly peeked into the room through the half-closed door and saw little Sarah on the bed. The room was full of what appeared to be her family; there was the Grandmother and the girl's brother he had met earlier that day. A woman whom he guessed was Sarah's mother stood by the bed, gently pushing Sarah's thin hair off her forehead. And another woman who he discovered later was Sarah's aunt, sat in a chair near the bed with a weary, sad look on her face. They were talking quietly, and Santa could sense the warmth and closeness of the family, and their love and concern for Sarah.

Taking a deep breath, and forcing a smile on his face, Santa entered the room, bellowing a hearty, "Ho, ho, ho!"

"Santa!" shrieked little Sarah weakly, as she tried to escape her bed to run to him, IV tubes intact.. Santa rushed to her side and gave her a warm hug.

A child the tender age of his own son -- 4 years old -- gazed up at him with wonder and excitement. Her skin was pale and her short tresses bore telltale bald patches from the effects of chemotherapy. But all he saw when he looked at her was a pair of huge, blue eyes. His heart melted, and he had to force himself to choke back tears. Though his eyes were riveted upon Sarah's face, he could hear the gasps and quiet sobbing of the women in the room.
As he and Sarah began talking, the family crept quietly to the bedside one by one, squeezing Santa's shoulder or his hand gratefully, whispering "thank you" as they gazed sincerely at him with shining eyes.. Santa and Sarah talked and talked, and she told him excitedly all the toys she wanted for Christmas, assuring him she'd been a very good girl that year. As their time together dwindled, Santa felt led in his spirit to pray for Sarah, and asked for permission from the girl's mother. She nodded in agreement, and the entire family circled around Sarah's bed, holding hands. Santa looked intensely at Sarah and asked her if she believed in angels.

"Oh, yes, Santa... I do!" she exclaimed.

"Well, I'm going to ask that angels watch over you, "he said. Laying one hand on the child's head, Santa closed his eyes and prayed. He asked that God touch little Sarah, and heal her body from this disease. He asked that angels minister to her, watch and keep her. And when he finished praying, still with eyes closed, he started singing softly, "Silent Night, Holy Night.... all is calm, all is bright." The family joined in, still holding hands, smiling at Sarah, and crying tears of hope, tears of joy for this moment, as Sarah beamed at them all. When the song ended, Santa sat on the side of the bed again and held Sarah's frail, small hands in his own.

"Now, Sarah, "he said authoritatively, "you have a job to do, and that is to concentrate on getting well. I want you to have fun playing with your friends this summer, and I expect to see you at my house at Mayfair Mall this time next year!" He knew it was risky proclaiming that, to this little girl who had terminal cancer, but he "had" to. He had to give her the greatest gift he could -- not dolls or games or toys -- but the gift of HOPE.

"Yes, Santa! "Sarah exclaimed, her eyes bright.

He leaned down and kissed her on the forehead and left the room. Out in the hall, the minute Santa's eyes met Rick's, a look passed between them and they wept unashamed. Sarah's mother and grandmother slipped out of the room quickly and rushed to Santa's side to thank him.

"My only child is the same age as Sarah," he explained quietly. "This is the least I could do." They nodded with understanding and hugged him.

One year later, Santa was again back on the set in Milwaukee for his six-week, seasonal job which he so loves to do. Several weeks went by and then one day a child came up to sit on his lap. "Hi, Santa! Remember me?!"

"Of course, I do," Santa proclaimed (as he always does), smiling down at her.

After all, the secret to being a "good" Santa is to always make each child feel as if they are the "only" child in the world at that moment.

"You came to see me in the hospital last year!" Santa's jaw gaped.

Tears immediately sprang in his eyes, and he grabbed this little miracle and held her to his chest. "Sarah!" he exclaimed. He scarcely recognized her, for her hair was long and silky and her cheeks were rosy -- much different from the little girl he had visited just a year before. He looked over and saw Sarah's mother and grandmother in the sidelines smiling and waving and wiping their eyes.

That was the best Christmas ever for Santa Claus. He had witnessed --and been blessed to be instrumental in bringing about -- this miracle of hope.

This precious little child was healed. Cancer-free. Alive and well.
He silently looked up to Heaven and humbly whispered, "Thank you, Father.. 'Tis a very, Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Life's just better with coffee =)

Hey friends!

For those who are new to my blog, welcome! My blog chronicles the journeys I've been having and the exploits along the way. I'll share some of my adventures from two of my recent journeys:
  1. Train for the Rome Marathon to raise money for blood cancer research and patient services. You can donate here.
  2. Living a Coffee-Free Life
Journey to Rome

I started off on this journey with a love for running, an excitement for travel (Rome!), and a desire to run for a cause bigger than my own. As I have continued to train, I am amazed by the stories I hear of people who have lost loved ones to cancer, friends who are fighting the good fight, and stories of survivors, who are the real heroes of this fight.

As the cause becomes closer to home, I've been motivated to train harder and to do the things that my body doesn't always want to do. I realize that there are others who have it far worse than I. And the fight I fight pales in comparison to the fight many fight with cancer.

Saturdays are Group Training Sessions (GTS). GTS starts off with a seminar around 8am and then a long run. Our training is individual during the week and together for the long group runs. Yesterday's seminar was on preventing running injuries. The seminar was given by Dr. Cindy Lewis from Absolute Endurance. She made a few good points and I'll just share some of the key points:
  1. Training Program Progression: Frequency, Intensity, Volume. Progress at a rate of 5-15%. In other words, be patient.
  2. Running Biomechanics / Running Efficiency: think soft =) Some other points are: (a) Foot strike - think mid-foot instead of heel .. this will take some getting used to; (b) Full body forward lean; (c) Hip extension; (d) Cadence - 90 steps per minute per foot
  3. Strength training: This will help you get stronger, faster, and prevent injuries. Running is very repetitive, so some muscles are continually over-used, while some others are under-used.
Post up if you have any further questions or you can contact Absolute Endurance.

As a final note on the adventure to Rome, this Saturday, I was running with another Team in Training member, Alan. His pace is a bit faster than mine, but he held back with me a bit and helped me finish the long run at a good pace. I remember running with others and helping them finish their race. It was good to feel inspired and motivated as well. Thanks, Alan!

Coffee-Free Living

"Now... why would anyone in their right mind want to live coffee free?"

If you share these sentiments, let me share with you some of my reasons for Coffee-Free Living. First, let me say that I am not coffee-free and I love coffee .... a lot! In fact, I believe life is just better with coffee ... wouldn't you say?

But here are a few reasons for me to stop drinking:
  • Drinking coffee is like borrowing energy from the future. And while pleasant at first, coffee charges interest on this energy ;)
  • Coffee = bad breath and fascinating teeth
  • When I'm sick and drink coffee, I feel better (i.e. I don't realize how sick I really am and how much rest I really need)
  • And to echo the first point, I want pure energy (as much as I want pure joy and pleasure). I want to make decisions that will give me the greatest pleasure possible ... but not just temporary pleasure, but pleasure that lasts for eternity. I believe this pleasure ultimately comes from knowing Jesus :) In terms of energy, I want to make decisions that will keep me energized for the long run and not just for the next 2-3 hours.
Questions: I want to hear from you!

I don't know who actually reads my posts, but I'd love to hear from you all. You can either post a comment or send me an e-mail: joshuahy.wang@gmail.com. Here are some questions:

Running / Coffee
Do you run? What's your favorite running route?
Do you drink coffee? If so, how do you like your coffee?
What inspires you?
What gives you energy?

Rome
Will you partner with me in my marathon training and in helping fight blood cancer? If so, you can donate (online donations, cash or cheque accepted), send me a personal message, and/or tell as many people as you know.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Boston Marathon Video

Qualifying for the Boston Marathon has been one of my dreams. Here's an inspirational video of a group of fairly sedentary individuals and their journey to Boston! I ended up watching the entire video and was deeply moved by the story and inspired to train.

Monday, December 6, 2010

New meaning

My training is taking on new meaning. I just found out today (Monday) that my uncle passed away from lymphoma. He passed away a few years ago and all I knew was that it was cancer. The emotions that day are still vivid in my mind, especially my mom's. I love my mom and dad very much. And funerals are not fun. Funerals remind me that life is precious. That I can't waste my life. That I can't keep taking my parents for granted.

Yes, Rome is cool. And in fact, I was drawn at the opportunity to run in Rome. Running for a cause bigger than my own was also another driver, but this cause didn't resonate as personally with me initially as it does now. I'm training for the marathon to fight blood cancers, like lymphoma and leukemia. As I continue to hear people's stories, especially those close to home, my desire intensifies to train hard and raise money to help create a better future for those who battle these deadly blood cancers.

If you're reading this, I'd like to ask you to partner with me in fighting this cause. Here are some things you could help me with:
  • Check out my personal page, and if you have the means, please sponsor me.
  • Leave a personal message on my fundraising page
  • Spread the word to friends, family, colleagues, ... etc
  • Check out my personal page and blog regularly to see if I'm staying consistent with fundraising and training
I'd like to end the post by saying thank you to those who have donated so far. Whatever the amount you've donated, your donation means a lot to me. I appreciate your support in a cause that means so much to me.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Consistency

I'm training for the Rome Marathon with Team in Training. You can find more details and support me through my personal site. I appreciate all the support I have been getting so far, from donations to personal messages.

Chilly run

This morning was our weekly long run with Team in Training. We ran 10k today along this route. It was a beautiful run, passing along Sunnybrook Park and the Blythwood Ravine. The run was in the Yonge/Eglinton area, an area I don't frequent too often. I'm discovering new and exciting parts of the City of Toronto.

But it was cold. As I write this, it's -4 C, with a high of -1 C. I learned to better prepare for next time - choose my layers carefully, hydrate, etc. But I did get there on time (8am) for the seminar. We had a seminar on nutrition, which was pretty good. A lot of us know how to eat healthy, but few of us make it a priority. I just have to do it.

Nutrition

Speaking of nutrition, the night before, I had 3 chinese buns and my leftover pork bone soup shortly before going to bed. Yea, bad idea. For one, I couldn't sleep and ended up going for a light jog at 12am. Also, that midnight "snack" came to haunt me halfway through my 10k run. I ended up stopping in the Starbucks, using the facilities, and then getting a Short Pike Place Coffee (the only coffee I had all day! ... a Short is smaller than a Tall) ... and a banana ... it costed me a dollar, but considering I didn't have breakfast, I thought it was worth it.

Lessons learned:
  • don't eat a heavy meal the night before a long run
  • eat breakfast, but don't overdo it if you're going for a medium-long run
  • high GI foods before a run, low GI / protein after for recovery
  • hydrate
Consistency

This is another lesson I learned, but I figured it deserved a paragraph of its own. Consistency. This is so tough. I've been having difficulty getting in my runs this week, and a greater problem with fundraising. With both of these things, I know what I need to do ... I just need to do it.

Some lessons I learned on how to be consistent:
  • Have a plan - it's pretty tough to be consistent if you don't know what you're supposed to do
  • Know the "why" - purpose energizes and motivates you, especially a purpose beyond yourself. For me, it's been helpful to remind myself that I'm not just doing this to go to Rome, but to help change lives and create a better future for someone
  • Community - find people who share your goals. I find I'm quite prone to peer pressure - I'm easily influenced by the people I'm with ... be they depressing people or optimistic people. This morning's run with other Team in Training participants helped motivate me to do my training runs (since there are a few fast guys there that I want to catch up to) and to do my fundraising (especially after hearing other people's stories)
  • Just do it - think not whether or not you will do it ... but how you will do it. You've already decided to do this. So get to it!
Time to put what I learn into practice :)


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Rome: Post Run Update (GTS 2)

Preamble

Saturday mornings are Group Training Sessions (GTS) with Team in Training. For those who are new to my blog, welcome! I'm training for the Rome Marathon and raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. If you're interested in donating, you can go to my personal online fundraising page. I'll be updating my blog / site as my fundraising and training progresses.

GTS

We ran a 4km route starting around Yonge / Eglinton. It was my first time running in that area specifically. The weather was perfect and the people were fun. I woke up a bit late that day (i.e. 7am) so I didn't make it in time for the seminar on proper footwear, but I did make it in time for the run =)

Basically, the way the training works is that we follow a training plan with group runs on Saturdays. It's more of a casual / fun run and a way to update each other on how our training and fundraising are going. I find this kind of community support to be pretty effective - the bulk of the training is on your own and you meet up once a week to share in training, laughs, crazy runs, etc.

Post GTS

After our run, we went for breakfast together to get to know others better. And yes, I had coffee. In fact, I had coffee before the run and a cup of expresso during breakfast. But I must say, I feel much more in control of my coffee cravings.

Looking ahead, I foresee some exciting challenges:
  • Running in the cold and early in the morning (as our runs get longer, we'll have to wake up earlier ... getting to the training site around 7am .... opposed to today's 8am meet time)
  • Fundraising $10,000 (this is my first time raising this amount of money - I'd be extremely grateful for support of any kind)
  • Training for my first full marathon (Within this challenge, I have two secret ambitions: qualify for Boston and run barefoot ... though I'm not sure I can even convince the coaches to let me run barefoot -- everyone told me to get fitted for a proper pair of shoes)
Do you have any thoughts about:
  • Running early in the morning / in the cold?
  • Fundraising tips?
  • Training tips?
  • Running barefoot?
  • Rome?
I'd love to hear from you!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Journey to Rome

Fundraising Goal: $10,000
Fitness Goal: 42.2 km, full marathon

The journey to Rome will be exciting! I'll be raising money for a good cause and training to run my first marathon.

This week, I'll need to plan out my fundraising and also start training. The key to my training (and fundraising) is consistency.

I missed the first Group Training Session with Team in Training this past Saturday since I was in New York for a Taekwondo tournament (blog). I'll be going to my first training session this Saturday (8:00 AM in the morning!! ugh ><).

Today is my 4km tempo run. I'll do the tempo run for my "lunch break" and read through the fundraising manual tonight. This will help me get it done, as I have a tendency of wanting to do many things, but doing only a few.

Ever since I started drinking coffee, I haven't really stopped. I haven't had a cup today and don't plan to. I'm working on breaking free from my dependency on coffee. I don't like the idea of borrowing energy from the future. Okay! Back to work!

Friday, November 12, 2010

New York!

I recently picked up the sport of Taekwondo. And this weekend, I'll be going to New York with my brother for my first Taekwondo tournament! I'm pretty excited and am looking forward to a great time.

As I have been learning the art, I've been learning more than just martial arts. One of the greatest lessons I'm learning right now is in ruling my spirit.
Proverbs 16:32 says, "He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who take a city."
What does it mean to be truly strong? As I have been training, I have been slowly trying to build up the physical toughness for knuckle push-ups (yes, I'm a bit soft). But what does it mean to be tough all over ... in body, mind, spirit, and heart? Thick skin, soft heart. Tender Warrior. Food for thought.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Rome Marathon with Team in Training


The Basics:
The excerpt below is taken from my fundraising webpage.

About me - Why I run

I love running. Running is an adventure. Running allows me to explore the city, trails, parks. Running connects me with my friends and with my inner self. Running is peaceful yet invigorating.

I was not always a runner and grew up with exercise induced asthma. Over time, running became a lifestyle for me. My journey in pursuit of fitness has inspired me to help others reach their potential as well. My dream, simply stated, is to see everyone smile.

Along the way, I've had the opportunity to influence the lives of others. My personal image (above) shows my various adventures, from being a pace bunny for the Niagara Falls Half Marathon to random adventures with my friends and family.

When I saw the opportunity to run in Rome, the idea of going to Rome caught my attention! Upon hearing their stories, I realized that my fight (in training for the marathon) pales in comparison to the battle many fight for their very lives. I feel extremely privileged to join Team in Training to help raise money and awareness for this life-saving research.

I want to thank you in advance for your support, be it in spirit and / or in your financial support. I would also love to hear your stories, be it running stories, life stories, or survivor stories.

Smile,

Josh =)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Strong mind

Inspiration from Japanese Comics

I was recently reflecting on the characters of Naruto and Luffy (the main characters of two different Anime / Manga series). They start off with relatively little ability or skill but press on with a strong mind. The face enemies despite insurmountable odds and pursue their dreams with relentless intensity.


Strong Mind

There are many areas in my life where I am "weak": academically, spiritually, in discipline, fitness, patience, and so on. I will use the example of running, but this applies to every other aspect of my life.

I used to be a weak runner - and I still am, depends on who you compare me with. I grew up with exercise induced asthma and would make all sorts of excuses to not train or run hard. Then I met someone who also grew up with exercise induced asthma, but was competing at the Canadian Cross Country Championships! It blew me away! He told me he just had to fight. Running was just harder for him.

My journey as a runner started slowly. I remember my first year with the Iron Dragons, I was one of the slowest runners - definitely the slowest male runner. It was sometimes discouraging, but I would still fight. In my third year, I made it my goal to just show up to the gym consistently. Over time, I made running more of a lifestyle opposed to a chore. Running to hang out with friends, to explore shops / different parts of the city, running to reflect, and so on. I grew noticeably stronger when I returned to the dragonboat team in my senior year (well, noticeable to me, anyways).

Running is still a battle for me. And it's something I'm not naturally good at. But this also applies to learning / memory, to focusing, to studying, to whatever craft I wish to master.

Like the childlike characters in those Japanese cartoons, I want to develop a strong mind that has utter laser focus. And with whatever the task is, to do it to the best of my ability. Wherever I end up going, I know that now, in this very moment, the one skill I want to develop with this "strong mind" is in being excellent.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

No Mind ...

The Way of the Samurai

In The Last Samurai, starring Tom Cruise, there is a particular scene where Nathan Algren (Tom Cruise) is learning how to fight, samurai style. After a frustrating defeat, a fellow samurai comes over and tells him, "No mind". He then explains that Algren has too many minds - minds on enemy, minds on people watching, etc. The idea of "no mind" is to clear one's mind of any distractions whatsoever.

This is something I need to work on. To be committed fully to the task at hand. I'm very good at being easily distracted. I'm learning to develop a laser sharp focus and keeping my aim on the target until the very end. To persevere on the right things.

Too often, my mind is littered with excuses: headache, tired, can't do it, frustrated, pointless, too difficult. These excuses permeate my physical discipline, spiritual life, and emotional health. An important lesson that I'm working on is to realize that there is a point for me to choose between stimulus and response (i.e. my response is not a direct function of my stimulus ... or it shouldn't be).

Changing your mind

I am also working on maintaining my resolve. On staying the course. On fighting the good fight (1 Timothy 6:11-12). I had a recent experience with my teacher who said that I change my mind too much. I didn't think much of it at the time, but looking back, I realize that I really need to be careful what I commit to. And for the things that I do end up committing to, to follow through.

Renewing your mind

Now this is different (a mind that is renewed opposed to one that is ever-changing). Romans 12:1-2 speaks of new creations. Of transformed bodies and renewed minds. Not "conforming to the patterns of this world, but being transformed by the renewing of your mind". By "patterns of this world", I interpret this as worldly pursuits or seeking the approval of society. What we do must come from who we are - not who others say we are.

So let me ask you these:
  • Who are you?
  • Where are you going? or What is your dream?
  • What are your experiences with the mind?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Workouts: Finding my rhythm

INTRODUCTION

I've been wanting to workout consistently for a while now. With the recent injuries, illness, busyness, and a plethora of other lame excuses, I've been having a hard time in finding my rhythm. To find a plan that works for me.

Exercise should be fun. This is what I tell everyone I workout with. If it's not fun, let's stop. I find "fun" to be the best motivator. As one progresses, "fun" takes on new meaning, with definitions overlapping with words such as pain, torture, and goals. Having goals help me endure the pain. So I will share my goals and my plan with you. I will also include my weekly log to document how closely I follow this plan. I would love for you to share in my journey.

GOALS

Oct 24: Niagara Falls 1/2 Marathon: 2:30 pace bunny
Mar 20: Rome Marathon*: 1st Full Marathon!! Goal is to qualify for Boston!
May 15: Mississauga 1/2 Marathon: Goal is 1:30. My current time is a bit under 2 hours ... this will need a "bit" of work ;)
*Details will follow soon

PLAN
  • Monday: Speed Work
  • Tuesday: Weights
  • Wednesday: Hart House Circuit
  • Thursday: Weights
  • Friday: Hart House Circuit
  • Saturday: Long Run
  • Sunday: Rest Day

LOG

Week of Oct 18-25 (Niagara Falls Half!)
Monday: 6pm @ AC. 2k warm-up (~8 min). 4x200m sprint. light weights
Tuesday:
Wednesday:
Thursday:
Friday:
Saturday:
Sunday: 21.1 km @ 2:30 pace =)

Week of Oct 11-17
Monday: Thanksgiving
Tuesday: No workout. Idea for this plan was on Thursday.
Wednesday: 8am. Hart House Circuit. Bronze. 35 min. Empty stomach. 5pm. AC. Weights. Deadlifts (100 x ~100lbs) + random other exercises. 7pm. TKD
Thursday: Missed weights in the morning (sore from working out for the first time in a while).
Friday: 8am. Hart House Circuit. Intro I + 10lbs. 18 min. Light weight training. Empty stomach.
Saturday: rest
Sunday: mini-circuit

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Coffee after a month :)

It's been a month since I've had a cup of coffee. At the end of the Day 31 of No Coffee, I went to Starbucks and ordered a Grande Mild (Pike Place).

A fresh aroma of memories this brings. Life's just much better with coffee.

Am I free from it, drinking when I want and able to control when I shouldn't? This we shall see. In the meantime, it's the end of a month of coffee abstinence and to this I raise my glass to you and to me.

This is not symbolic something deeper. It's just ... coffee's a happy man's drink :) .. and tonight, I'm happy :)

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Coffee Purge Reloaded: Day 43

Greetings

Yes, it's been a while. My apologies for being MIA for the past few weeks. Here's an update of my life journey.

Coffee

For those of you who are new to this blog, welcome :) The Coffee Purge Reloaded is my new journey with coffee, where my goal is to get off coffee eventually. The process is important. But cold turkey is not necessary. (My previous cold turkey attempts have failed miserably). Rather, my goal is to be free of this drink, pressing forward, nevertheless. As for some numbers, it's Day 43 since I started this Reloaded Coffee Purge (in previous iterations of the Coffee Purge, I wasn't allowed to drink; now, it's okay .. the count still continues until I'm free).

Also, it's Day 28 of no coffee! During these 28 days, I had one week of no caffeine. I'm not completely free from caffeine, but the fight with coffee is going well so far. And it isn't so much fight as it is flight. Fighting has been futile. Trying to battle my cravings for coffee. I have found avoiding temptation much more effective, fighting only when I need to. But anyways, I digress. So it's been 4 weeks! The last time, I crashed at 2 weeks.

CCF

Another dimension of my life is my spirituality. I'm a Christian and take an active role in the Chinese Christian Fellowship at U of T. I'm learning new things each day. Here's a random list of things I'm learning:
  • Choosing leadership over selfishness. Leadership involves serving. I'm a horrible servant. Choosing to lead - be it in my words or actions - is a constant struggle, especially when trials come your way.
  • Relationships are complicated. This is perhaps why I enjoy research so much. Adding people to the equation makes the problem virtually impossible to solve. Who I am matters just as much as what I do (or what people see).
  • Community and Solitude (not isolation) are vital parts of the Christian life - and even for people in general. There seems to be an inner desire to love and be loved and also a need for some alone time - a space of rest and reflection. Then again, this is just me. One person is a small sample size.
  • God is faithful, sovereign, and good. I see this both through my time with God and also in how He works in the lives of others.
  • "X" marks the spot. At the outset, when I told my committee that prayer was of utmost importance and that people need to know Jesus, I painted a big bullseye ... not only on my back, but on my committee. From the stories I hear from my friends, we have been under spiritual attack. Your prayers are appreciated. I'd like to also say that this is not only for Christians, but for anyone who chooses leadership. When you choose to lead, you open yourself up to attack, to criticism, to unrealistic expectations ... Leadership can be a time of breaking or strengthening or both. Leadership is a choice.
Committee meeting is about to start. I'm nervous excited.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Coffee Purge: Day 23

Fresh Pot of Coffee

I just got into work today and saw a fresh pot of coffee that has just finished brewing. In times past, this was a huge weakness for me, inducing tremendous desire to drink, and often times, breaking my iron will. This morning, I glanced over, smiled, then boiled a pot of water. Routine.

New Energy

Today I woke up early to catch the GO train. I got less sleep, but started my day earlier. I recovered from the weekend on Monday, but I was worried that I would relapse into more tiredness today. It was a fight this morning, however, I'm feeling strong right now.

The Coffee Purge: Next Phase

So to update you, in my last post, I mentioned how I needed to make it to Friday to "earn" my instant coffee. So I made it! And it's now just over a week of no coffee (I have been drinking tea on and off). I now have 12 "vials" of instant coffee, and can only take 1 per week! If I follow through with this, this plan will take me to Christmas, earning me a Christmas present!

The Bigger Picture

The fight to get off coffee is symbolic of a deeper fight that I wrestle with. For me, coffee has been something that has been hard to control. It is indeed a wonderful drink, but like anything, if abused (think 8 cups / day), coffee can wreck havoc on my life. I am training myself to be disciplined. To overcome the smaller battles in life. If I say I won't drink coffee, I want to be strong enough to not give into a craving. Satisfying my body's cravings brings only temporary pleasure. Whether it's surfing the net, sleeping in, procrastinating, drinking coffee, ... What I desire to pursue are cravings that bring eternal pleasure (soul cravings, if you will), satisfying desires with no regrets. And to join in that pursuit, integrity. To have a consistency in what I say and in what I do. For me, this would be what a 4-Dimensionally Fit individual looks like.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Coffee Purge Reloaded: Day 16


The above picture is taken from Nescafe's website (here). This is definitely a smile-inducing page. So, as an update, I had coffee Fri, Sat, Sun, and Mon. One cup each day, but still. My coffee "fast" was great and I look forward to the next round, today being the first day.

The goal? Get to this Friday. Without coffee. Why? Then, I will get packs of "instant coffee" by Nescafe. Okay, admittedly, they may not taste the best and it's much different than freshly brewed coffee. But the "prize" is from one of the "coffee police" and it's more the "idea" of the prize that makes this fun and exciting! Besides, I'd hate to see them disappointed / upset because I "caved". So here we go -- onwards and upwards!

By the way, today.... was ... hard. As it always is. To fight it, I drank some Masala Chai Tea (I have a box of "Tea India" from a grocery store). And throughout the day, I had lemon water =)

I'm feeling better right now ... but it's 9:30pm. Let's try to get Josh awake and alive before work tomorrow :p

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Coffee Purge Reloaded: Day 12

Coffee Purge Reloaded: 12
Days without coffee: 6*
*Would have been 7 today, but I just filled up a cup of office coffee (:

The last time I had coffee was last Friday. To think that it's been a week since my last cup of coffee is amazing. I look forward to this cup and hope to enjoy it. Overtime, I will be "free" from coffee. But until then, I'm going to enjoy the journey.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Coffee Purge Reloaded: Day 10

Coffee Purge Reloaded: 10
Consecutive Days without Coffee: 5

The journey continues. I've been feeling much better recently. My inspiration to continue comes from many places. One of my inspirations comes from Matt Frazier, the no-meat-athlete (www.nomeatathlete.com). He has a few posts on how he quit coffee. One of the things he did was drink decaf, going with half decaf and half coffee.

So I was passing by Shoppers' on my way home today and guess what I found on sale: Instant Coffee, 1/2 decaf, 1/2 coffee. I decided to pick it up as an indulgence. Next time I have an urge or feel I really need it, I have this half decaf to help ease any temptations to go overboard. As it stands, this container remains unopened.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Coffee Purge Reloaded: Day 9

So it's Day 9 into the Reloaded Coffee Purge! Just had breakfast at Starbucks. I'm not yet quite off caffeine yet, admittedly, but I have been off coffee since this weekend. Today's breakfast was a bagel (w/ butter) and ... chai tea. So yes, I'm still drinking caffeine, but I'm moving towards a more natural source of energy. I've been also waking up with a lot more energy.

Coffee Purge Reloaded: Day 9
Consecutive Days without Coffee (including today): 4

Monday, August 30, 2010

Workout: Aug 30, 2010

So it was 11pm, and we just had a little mini-committee meeting. Afterwards, I wanted to shower, but felt like I had to earn it. So I decided to try this workout I saw on YouTube, courtesy of ICE1CUBE (I'm a big fan btw .. good workouts and relationship advice lol). Here's the link to the original workout (Click Here).

So here's the workout:
- Swings (using a kettlebell, dumbbell, "ghetto-bell", or whatever ....etc)
- Pushup Burpees
- Squats (using the same weight as the swings)

1 Round Consists of doing each exercise for 40 sec, and resting for 20 sec. During each 40 sec interval, you aim for as many reps as you can. Tally up your reps and post your score.

Post up your weight (for the swings) and your final score. Here's mine:

Swings (25 lbs)
23-23-23-23-23-23-24

Burpees
11-11-11-11-11-12-12

Squats (0 lbs)
35-35-35-34-35-32-35

23x7 + 11*7 + 35*7 - 1
= 161
+ 77
+ 245
- 1
______
482 (final score)
______
______
NOTE: My scores for the squats were very high since I didn't use any weights. My apologies and thanks, Jireh, for the correction! I'll re-do this workout with the weights as soon as I can and re-post. In the meantime, this workout (without the weighted squats) is still pretty challenging ;)

Avenues of Joy

The past year, I was volunteering at Sick Kids, playing with kids and having fun. I really enjoyed it, but had to stop since this upcoming year is going to be pretty busy. I really miss the kids and the people I work with.

Yesterday, I was at church. After Sunday School, the prayer meeting was getting started and I was lingering reading some books. I overheard that the Children's Ministry was still in need of help. I didn't think much of it, nor did I need to sit in during the service before I decided. I picked up my feet and went downstairs to find the Children's Ministry. I found the leaders and said I'm interested in helping and can do whatever: sit-in, cleanup, help around, set-up, ... teach? sure, anything!

During my time there yesterday, I had a fun time with kids, got to know a few of them, and learned some powerful lessons through Children stories and songs.

Playing with kids has been one of my joys in life. Maybe it's from being an older brother. Maybe it's because they're so cute and fun. Maybe because they're just awesome. Having ended my term with Sick Kids, I was despondent. But now, I have a potential opportunity to invest my life into kids again! I get to reconnect with one of my avenues of joy: kids (:

Do you have any avenues of joy? I'd love to hear your stories too!

The Coffee Purge Reloaded: Day 8

So, here's a quick update: I made it through the weekend without coffee!

Saturday:
- met a friend at the Green Beanery and had Jasmine Green Tea
- went to work later that day and had Milo

Sunday:
- no coffee ... did my best to fight, but really, my attempts to fight have failed so many times ... this success I 'blame' on God's grace
- ah yes, I had tea (Dim Sum etc)

Monday (today):
- went to Starbucks this morning and picked up a multigrain bagel and my drink that I'm now drinking ...
- ...Tazo Awake Black Tea =)

Some people have said that my new approach is a cop-out, and perhaps they're right. To that I say, however, that my goal isn't to get off coffee through cold turkey, but to eventually get off it, period. So I'm taking one step at a time, in it for the long haul. Let's go.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Two Rings

Two rings rest on my right hand. One on my ring finger (purity ring), and one on my pinky finger (iron ring).

Both of these rings are "promise" rings. The first is a promise to my family, my future wife, and my friends. A promise that I'll strive towards purity of mind, words, and action. The second is a promise to society and those I serve through my role as an engineer. That I will work with diligence and integrity.

The past I cannot change. Where I have fallen short of these promises, be it in body, mind, spirit, or heart (4 dimensions). Pure of heart. Working honestly. However, I live in the present moment, learning from my past, and being moved by a vision for the future.

These two rings reminds me of my two calls in life:
1. Follower of Jesus Christ (Purity Ring)
2. Transportation Engineer (Iron Ring)

As I stare at my purity ring, I am reminded of the Cross. And of what He has done for me. I am reminded of the body of Christ, broken for me, and the blood of Christ, poured out for me. As I reflect on my iron ring, I am reminded of my call as an engineer (the exact oath ... top secret!). But this iron ring reminds me to work diligently, to do my best, and to work wholeheartedly.

I still think about calling and where I'm going in life. While I haven't figured it all out yet, I shouldn't be paralyzed from doing good, from doing justice and loving mercy. These two rings remind me of my identity, of who I am and where I'm going.

The Coffee Purge Reloaded: Day 5

So today I had coffee. Yes. Fine okay. I had a Monster drink last night and stayed up till 4am (Thursday, i.e. Wed night). Working. Okay, life's been a bit tough the past few days, but that's okay.

Today, I had a conversation with a friend about this coffee thing. We were at Seor Ak San - the best k-food place ever! And this time, two of the coffee police were there... and I didn't have much good news to report. One of the coffee police (Lorraine) mentioned how I should try to find a replacement. We were brainstorming for a bit, trying to find the root issue. But it's hard to replace coffee... It's so.... *sigh..

Then walking home, I was chatting with my brother (Jonathan). He showed me this drink called Milo. It's some malt / chocolate thing. It was quite tasty AND it's an "energy" drink. They sell it at Lucky Moose. It's also good value for money. So I'm going to give this a try. I'll let you know how long this keeps me off coffee.

So, to summarize: during Day 5 of the Coffee Purge Reloaded, Josh found Milo! Haha :)

First goal: make it through this weekend on Milo (and not coffee -- nor caffeine). Lots of water. Fruits. Good stuff. Then we'll worry about the week. Okay... fight!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Coffee Purge Reloaded: Day 2

Yes, it's Day 2. I just got into the office and poured myself half a cup of office coffee (with a bit of half and half to offset the acidity). My goal for today is to drink no more than this one cup, drinking plenty of water, and snacking on my packed meal of oats / quinoa / chicken.

I feel really good today. This morning I had my usual struggle waking up. It was a stupidly hard fight to get up and have been having a weird time breathing in the mornings the past while. Anyways, after the little wrestle, I put on some running gear and went for a run (around 7:30am). It's been a while and I was feeling quite out of shape. But the thrill of being able to run again was indescribable. With my ankle almost healed, the run was liberating. I feel I can smile again. I think I'm starting to get hooked on a new drug (moving from caffeine to endorphins).

Christian Hedonist. That would pretty much describe me. In pursuit of pleasure and believing that the greatest joy, if found, comes from God himself. We're often too easily satisfied. Cheap joy. Anyways, this term, "Christian Hedonist", I borrow from John Piper. So along these lines, I've also been too easily satisfied, settling from the bag of stale chips when there's an all-you-can-eat sushi buffet 5km down the road. One example has been my energy. I've been "satisfied" with caffeine. But the kick from endorphins is natural and so much better. The flip side is ... it requires hardwork >< So for me, this means, kicking myself and getting up in the morning, focusing on work during work, cutting distractions, working wholeheartedly on the task at hand.

Romans 13:14 says, "But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires." My "flesh" has many desires, among them being slothfulness and laziness. I find that in fighting these small battles in life, I become better prepared to face the larger fights in life - be they in relationships, personal struggles, or stupid stuff that come up in life.

At the end of Proverbs 24 -- I love this! -- it says: "A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man."

I remember the Josh of the Past ... smiling and excited for life... working with diligence ... resolved to quit coffee ... turned the gym into his second home ... and I see this in my heart's reflection ... my body, mind, soul, and heart awakening once again to my call in life.

It's time to finish what I started -- be it big or small. Let's do this (:

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Coffee Purge Reloaded: Day 1

Day 1 starts today. I had a large Timmy's double-double today, but keep reading ;)

I was having a conversation with a friend (James) and he was telling me that it's best to gradually cut your intake. When you're down to about 1/2 cup a day, you don't even need it anymore.

So I'm redefining the Coffee Purge. During this coffee purge, I can drink coffee! Haha LOL! And instead of restarting the count everytime I start drinking again, the coffee purge will be a log of days that trace my journey to being coffee free. How will I know when I'm truly free from coffee? All I know is when I'm truly free, I'll know.

So in my posts on coffee (mixed in with my posts on fitness and reflections on life), I'll be completely open about the caffeinated drinks I consume, how I feel, where I am and where I'm going. So join me as I start this journey afresh.

Epilogue (LOL)

Why today? Anything special about today, Aug 23, 2010? Nope. I was re-reading my old post on strength. While I write for others as well (what I blog about and what I journal about are different), I am realizing that I have much to learn from the Josh of the past (: So, I decided to just do it. Today. So get yo game face on and let's do this!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Steadfastness: It's time to just do it

Proverbs 19:22

What is desired in a man is steadfast love ...

Jeremiah 9:23-24

Thus says the LORD: "Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD."

During CCF Elections, someone asked each person what we'd like to improve upon. For me, I answered, "Steadfastness".

By "steadfastness", I mean developing the character to stay fast. To have staying power. To be constant. Like a rock. This applies in all dimensions:
- Body: Rock solid. Disciplined. Control over diet and fitness.
- Mind: Unshakable resolve. Unswerving dedication to mastering your art
- Spirit: Spiritually solid. Grounded. Rooted.
- Heart: Emotionally stable. Reliable.

Steadfastness and stagnant are different things. Being steady and boring are also different things.

Proverbs talks about steadfast love being desired in a man. Okay, well maybe this doesn't apply to everyone, but I know I want that. To have a kind of love that doesn't change. To be steady. Solid. Reliable. Oftentimes, emotionally-driven love can be amazingly amazing, yet also exist on the other extreme as well. This is not to say that steadfast love cannot have emotion - in fact, it must have emotion. Steadfast love cannot exist without emotion, but it cannot be emotionally-driven.

Jeremiah tells of the best thing to boast about: knowing God. Knowing that he practices steadfast love. God is love (1 John 4:16). He loves because that's just who he is.

This kind of love, I still do not comprehend. This discipline. This staying power. It seems to escape me everytime I pursue it. Trying to break free from coffee, trying to discipline my life (eating healthy, working out, etc...). What is the secret? To simply say the answer is God would be naive of me. Or for that matter, to give any answer would be naive of me. ... if my life remains unaffected.

I have this dream of helping as many people smile as possible. To have them smile because they can start taking control over their lives. Whether it is helping them start businesses, helping them build homes, treating illnesses, showing them Jesus.... I want to see as many genuine smiles as possible. In pursuit of that dream, I need to start taking control of my own life. I need to let my life be under God's control, and not by my natural instincts (be they laziness, pride, selfishness, or whatever).

If I cannot coach myself to become stronger, how can I possibly even entertain the thought of coaching others to their personal best?

So, enough of the words. Despite the difficulties, it's time to just do it. To just:
- take up my cross and follow Jesus (Luke 9:23-24)
- go to the gym
- eat healthy
- manage finances / house
- work diligently

It's time to just do it.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Aug 17: Meals for the day

Eating healthy at a reasonable price can be a challenge. This morning, I made 3 tupperwares of food. Packed it in my lunchbox. And am good to go!

Tupperware 1 & 2:
- Purple Yam
- Green beans
- Mushroms
- Orange Peppers
* The vegetables were washed then lightly seared in a pan. The yam was boiled until soft

Tupperware 3:
- Quinoa
- Chickpea salad (with diced vegetables)
- Spinach
- Chicken
* Everything was leftovers, except quinoa, which I just boiled until it was ready ... a bit over 10 min.

I definitely welcome advice on nutrition, questions on lifestyle, etc.


Over time, I hope to eat out very infrequently, and ... well, drink coffee just as often ;)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Today's lunch (Aug 16)

Nutrition accounts for at least 50% of meeting your fitness goals. Whether it is to build muscle, lose fat, improve performance, the quality and quantity of what you eat plays a major role in this. You are what you eat. Garbage in, garbage out. And so on ... (insert cliches here).

In an effort to eat out less and to eat healthier, I went home for lunch today. Here's what I had:

Chickpea salad (with other vegetables - leftovers from last night)
Chicken (2 drumsticks)
Spinach (about a cup?)
Purple Yam

I'm still feeling full and happy. My general philosophy of eating is this:

The food I eat should make me happy, both emotionally and physically. I shouldn't feel too bloated, nor should I be hungry shortly after. This encourages slow digesting foods, foods that are colorful (packed with nutrients), and a diet comprising mainly of vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats.

Food should make me smile (but not just when it is going down ... but after too!) And today's lunch did just that!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Epic Weekend!

This weekend was pretty awesome! At a glance, it looked something like this:

Saturday
- Work: went to the office to fix some errors, only to find more :P
- Wedding fail: was supposed to go but plans fell through
- Committee meeting: we listened to worship music, and listened to a brief message from Paul Washer on salvation (click here), spent some time in prayer, then had a productive time with planning.
- Committee baking: we then baked 3 cakes - double chocolate, blueberry swirl, and apple crumble for Kelvin's surprise farewell ;)
- Committee Jam: we played worship music with a bunch of random instruments ... and it slowly transformed into a quick violin lesson .. which was so fun! I forgot how much fun it was to play and to teach. I couldn't stop smiling (:

Sunday
- Breakfast with Justin = awesome. We even made a trip to Tim Hortons
- TCBC: service was pretty cool. A medical missionary from China came to talk about her work and open our eyes to the need and the opportunities and what was being done in China. Very inspiring and compelling.
- Lunch - HK Bistro
- Surprise Party for Kelvin (photos on facebook): creamed him and got him some farewell gifts
- We also turned it into a double surprise for Crystal's birthday! haha lol! So epic-super-awesome-fun-sauce!
- Went uptown with a few friends .. had a chance to talk about my dream :)
- Chilled with family and had the best dinner ever! So healthy and tasty! (I even took a photo on my phone)
- Watched a cool movie then had family prayer which was awesome
- Got a ride back downtown and here I am now =)

There is definitely a better way to communicate this (paragraphs, photos, etc...) But it's now 3am, I'm tired, but have a lot on my mind. So for those following / reading, hope you enjoyed this random brain dump =)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Josh's Recipe for the Perfect Woman

1. A full measure of love for Jesus, causing her to be so lost in Him that I'd have to chase after Jesus to truly find her.


2. An overdose of smiles, and a general positive outlook on life rooted in the joy of the Cross.


3. Seasoned with a strong scent of inner beauty, with an infusion of grace and compassion, catching my heart before catching my eye.


(taken from my Facebook comments in response to a friend's note on A Recipe for the Perfect Man)


What are your secret recipe for the perfect man/woman?


Monday, August 9, 2010

No Coffee Day 9: Strength

This morning I went to Starbucks with my brother (Jon) for breakfast. Quite honestly, I was very tempted to grab a coffee. In my mind, the following thoughts were running through my mind:
"This couldn't hurt."

"Stop being so legalistic."

"You could actually use a cup today!"


Then something crossed my mind. I made a resolve to not drink coffee. Yes, I know I made this multiple times, but this time, my resolve is different. And I had the following thought, which made any urge to drink evaporate:
My success in not drinking coffee (or in anything) ... my willpower ... or rather, the willpower of a man, depends not on the strength of his emotions, but rather on the strength his resolve and commitment to his cause.


Monday, August 2, 2010

10+ things that make me smile

What makes you smile? Here's a list of 10 things to get things started:

1. Smiles are contagious
2. Hanging out with friends
3. My brothers and sister, especially when we joke around
4. Running (especially barefoot in sand/grass or along nice trails)
5. Colorful food
6. Freshly brewed coffee
7. Beauty (nature, art, an elegant proof :p)
8. People passionate about their dreams
9. Old couples holding hands and smiling
10. Fond memories
...

Okay, how about you?

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Prayer of St Francis of Assisi

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is discord, harmony;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master, grant that I may no so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Crushing Pride with the Weight of His Glory

Leadership. It's cool. Or so I thought.

"Hey Josh, Congrats on being Chair!" someone would say.

I think to myself, a bit confused. Having barely started, I wonder where the praise comes from. A few years back, I thought it would be so very cool to be Chair of CCF. I greatly admired the past chairs and wanted to be admired myself. Pride. Yes, I was quite arrogant (and am still working on this).

More recently, my perspective on this whole endeavor has changed. By signing up for this position, I'm committing to "take up my cross", to following Jesus Christ with complete dedication. It wasn't easy for Jesus to take up the cross, to bear the shame, to receive our sins and the pain, to suffer and to see his best friends betray him. It isn't easy for today's Christian leader to take up their cross, to be wrongfully accused, to face disappointment, to be open to attack, vulnerable. It's really tough.

I'm not immune to pride. It's something I still wrestle with. However, with my particular calling as Chair for this upcoming year, any pride that may have risen has been crushed by the weight of God's glory. Yes, I'm proud to serve God and feel quite honored to serve in this capacity. However, I'm painfully aware of my inadequacies and weaknesses. And scared of the path that I must walk. To truly take up my cross and follow Jesus, wherever He leads me.

The call to leadership is heavy. As time passes, I'm growing more aware of my responsibilities to God and to others.

I will close this post with the Jesus Creed:
"Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength." The second is this: "Love your neighbor as yourself." There is no commandment greater than these.
In this next season of my life, I need to be wholeheartedly devoted to loving God and loving others, truly. I will pursue this with a single-minded intensity.

P.S. Today is Day 1 of N of No Coffee (Day 1 = Aug 1, 2010). Guess N. Do you think N can reach 365?

Friday, July 30, 2010

The Intensity of Love

"I love you." What does this three word statement mean to you?

This past weekend, I was with the Iron Dragons in Montreal. As a coach, I don't paddle - so why was I there? I wasn't even drumming nor steering. Just coming along to support the team. The answer is quite simple: because I love them. Explaining this love to its fullest is difficult in words. But to give you an idea, here are a few examples. At the beginning of the season, I was considering joining another team to paddle. I wanted to get stronger, become a better coach, and quite simply, I loved being on the water. I joined that team for the first race and had so much fun. But time has been very precious for me this summer and I had to choose between paddling for another team or coaching the Iron Dragons (ID). I've only been on the team (ID) for 2 years, have barely any steering experience, and felt quite inadequate as a coach -- especially in light of the super awesomeness of our past coaches. As you may already know, I chose to coach and I love it! The joy and fun derived from this is ten times more amazing than if I were paddling for another team for my own pleasure. Seeing 20+ individuals go from engineers to athletes, seeing them smile and laugh, seeing them grow as friends ... it's hard to beat that. I get a taste of how giving is better than receiving.

I love the Iron Dragons. I love the team. I love my friends at CCF. I love my family. But I'm far from understanding what love really is. From grasping the intensity of love. The Holy Bible (Christianity) talks about this guy named, Jesus, fully God and fully man. Why? To die that you and I might live. Romans 5:1-8 tells about how God loves us so much that He died for us while we were still sinners. Now that's Intense Love!

In this world today, we have cheapened this four letter word into a commodity (l-o-v-e). But here, we see a picture of a God who loves us that He sent His own Son to die for us (John 3:16). Isaiah 53, especially verses 4-6, gives a graphic picture of what this Jesus did for you and me.

Am I trying to convert you to Christianity? Hmm ... I wouldn't say I'm trying to -- maybe I should. The intention of this discourse has been to give a reason for what I do. That I have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. He is my Lord and Master ... my Sensei, if you will. And His love for me inspires me to love others. My love for others pales in comparison to His. My intensity, mild and weak(sauce). But it's this love that inspires me. That moves me into action. And drives whatever inner strength that I have.

What inspires you? What dictates the rhythm of your life? I'd love to hear your stories.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Living as if today was your last day

I've been sick lately. I don't know how sick. Maybe it's from all the beautiful coffee I've been drinking. But I've been reminded that I won't be living forever. A thought crossed through my mind that I might actually die. And then, my heart sank. I thought about everything I would be missing. I thought about how it would feel like. And so on ... a lot of deadly thoughts (no pun intended). Then I tried to think of the positives .. if any existed. What if today was my last day (like Nickelback's song)? So for anyone who's reading this, here's a question I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts to:
What would you do (or want or say or think or whatever...) if today was your last day?
For me, I'd like to make as many people smile as much as possible. I wonder what it would look like if I lived as if today was my last day, everyday. If, everyday, I sought to bring joy to those around me, whether through a smile, a listening ear, or just helping out.

(Excerpt from journal, 2010-07-23)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Out of identity comes destiny

Calling. How do you know if you're called to be somewhere, to be someone, ...? I was reading an article today in the Star about lawyers and thought about a career in law. Then I began to consider law as a career. Similar streams of thought would occur for medicine as well. And I begin to wonder if I would really enjoy law (or medicine). Would I enjoy practicing law, or am I attracted to the "idea" of being a lawyer? There is an important distinction between one's perception and reality. Do I see myself arguing for my clients? Poring through cases and researching a case? Do I see myself meeting people at their basic needs in human health and spending the time to learn about the human body? What is "the dream"? What is the main thing that I'm to pursue in life? I mean, beyond Jesus Christ and all ... or maybe, it's just as simple as that. Maybe I don't need to worry about the particularities and simply "trust in the LORD with all my heart and lean not on my own understanding" (Prov 3:5). And perhaps, from there, everything else flows. Out of identity comes destiny. At present, this is very much abstract and a work in progress. I'd be interested to hear about your dreams and where you are in your own life journey.

(excerpt from my personal journal)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Two questions

Recently, I have been wrestling with two questions:
  1. Who am I?
  2. Where am I going?
What am I good at? What is my calling? What am I made for? What's my purpose in life?

These questions are examined in light of my work, career choices, research, relationships, and just life. Very often, I have allowed these externalities answer my life questions of identity and destiny. However, who I am should influence what I do, and not the other way around. My life should be missional and my vision laser-focused.

This probably goes without saying, but there are two types of lights: lasers and light bulbs. Light bulbs illuminate the entire room, its energy dispersed throughout the room. A laser's energy is focused on one spot, with enough energy to cut through metal. There are times when we have to be light bulbs and other times when we have to be lasers. When having a discussion with a close friend, being a laser can make it hard for you to understand the other person. However, with your life mission, being a light bulb can seem like you're doing a lot (lighting the entire room), but having no real impact at all. I believe things like your life mission need to be like lasers. Your passion, your calling, or whatever you call it ... takes work. And requires persistence. Courage. Consistency. Dedication.

Hebrews 12:1-3 says,

1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

[Iron Dragons] 5 Minutes to Fame

5 Minutes to Fame
Workout courtesy of Eric Bradshaw


Setup: 4 stations, approximately 30-40 m apart
Station 1: Push-ups
Station 2: Sit-ups
Station 3: Burpees
Station 4: Sister Mary Catherine

3 Rounds for Time
- Round 1: 5 reps, Round 2: 10 reps, Round 3: 15 reps

Suggested variations:
- Pyramid: 5 rounds, 5-10-15-10-5 (or 10-20-30-20-10)
- Explosive/jumping pushups
- Pushup burpees
- Increased distance between stations

Post up times with any variations

Sunday, May 16, 2010

[Body] A Taste of Tabata

I have recently taken up an interest in personal training. I have no formal training, nor am I the best ...yet ;) But I'm very passionate about seeing people become better in all areas of their lives. This includes my involvement with the U of T Iron Dragons dragonboat team and my workouts and adventures with friends.

The workout below provides a taste of Tabata. The Tabata routine takes any exercise and turns it into a high-intensity interval workout. As a general overview, one would take a given exercise and perform 8 sets of 20s ON and 10s OFF. ON periods are used for executing repetitions. OFF periods are for resting. The goal is to execute the highest number of repetitions.

The following workout was done with Lorraine and Fiona. The routine is 16 minutes of high intensity training. There are no rests. Their scores are posted below. Post scores to comment.
  • Squats: depth, hips below knees. weight mainly on heels. stand all the way up.
  • Pushups (*knees): Chest to the ground for guys. Girls have the option of using knees, but must use either knees or feet for all 8 sets.
  • "Break Dance": Start in a pushup position (facing 12 o'clock). Shuffle to kick your right leg out to your left (to 9 o'clock) and balance on your right arm, resume pushup position, and then kick out your left leg to 3 o'clock and balance on your left arm. Both legs count as 1 repetion.
  • Burpees: Squat completely. Kick out. Kick in. Jump up. Land back in squat position. Easy :)
  • Note: The descriptions are merely supplementary. Please post any questions you have or search online for descriptions.
Scores: Record your reps for each 20s set. There are two ways to record scores for Tabata workouts: 1) Total number of reps per exercise, and 2) Lowest number of reps per exercise. When posting scores, use the 1st method (total number of reps).

Do your best!

== Scores ==

Lorraine
Squats: 133
Pushups (Knees): 87
Break: 45
Burpees: 29

Fiona
Squats: 135
Pushups (Knees): 82
Break: 50
Burpees: 28