Desde el año pasado he estado trabajando en un gran defecto mío: soy una acumuladora. Ropa, zapatos, libros, materiales de pintura, lápices, cuadernos vacíos y cajas de cosas que no tienen palabra para ser clasificadas más que: basura. Poco a poco he estado reduciendo mis pertenencias y he dicho unos cuantos adiós con mucha duda pero todos, incluyendo estos, llegan al alivio de sentirme un poco más ligera sin tener que sacrificar el postre. Con o sin estas cosas, el día de mañana aún seré feliz, aún tendré mis manos para dibujar, aún tendré a los seres que amo y me aman y aún seré Ericka. Nada de que preocuparse… sí algo realmente necesario se va entre todo eso que estoy botando podré encontrarlo en alguna tienda, en Amazon o la dark web.
Taiwan has been the best experience in my life until now. No doubt. Still I need to accept the journey has not been easy, it has actually been pretty hard. It has lots of ups and downs, and more than a 100 times I have wondered what the hell I am actually doing here… This post is about that: the answer to that question. Why being 14,000+ kms away from home is worth it every centimeter and how every misfortune and mishappening is nothing but a chance, a blessing, a new open door in disguise.
乾杯 to Taiwan, to 蛋餅s and the minutes used in this post instead of studying!~
I left home 2 years, 8 months and 23 days ago. That day I was weeping my heart out, hugging my best friend while he was trying to calm me down by telling me I was going to be back home soon. SOON?! I would think, I am leaving for five years and cannot visit until 2 years later from today. TWO YEARS. At that moment in the airport I was questioning all the set of decisions taken in the past two months. The call in the cellphone telling me the great news about Taiwan and asking me right there in the spot “Do you accept this opportunity?” my shaking voice replying “Yes, yes… of course!” and from that point on it was all a serious rush of events. Documents, shopping, places I wanted to go, a series of farewells, overeating all the food I know I was going to miss (what I did not know was that I was going to miss plantain as soon as I sat down on my first flight… yeah, that was fast.)
One year ago, or well 364 days ago I had my first run experience. I registered myself to the Earth Day Run one random night of March and challenged myself to complete 12.5K when I had not run in any event before. I had less than a month to train but as soon as I received my confirmation e-mail something in me clicked. I had a deadline, a challenging distance for a beginner and no intention of defrauding myself. Next morning I started a four week training in which the track close to my house and me became great friends. I trained by myself every morning or night mixing long runs, short intervals with speed, and some gym sessions.
I completed my race panting and with my legs almost shaking, but when I received my running medal it was all worth it. I loved it and just in 2015 I did other four more. Soon I was full of race shirts, using sport bras in a daily basis, carrying my huge neon pink gym bag around campus every week day and getting way too excited every time I saw the SALE advertisements in any sports store (Nike, to be specific… Yes, I am a Nike fan. I do not even know how it happenned but now there is no going back. Sorry bank account, so sorry)
Without knowing it I became something new: I became a runner.
It was weird for me to accept it at the beginning. When my friends joked about me having a “fit lifestyle” I would shrugged while finishing my second donut. I have never been sporty before, I was the type of kid in school and high school who would worry more about her grade in PE than in Math class… for real. In addition to that, my legs were sticks and by the second squat I would be wondering what had I done to deserve such a punishment. My brother would joke and always tell me “You know, being thin is not being fit”… and I would just laugh and think who the hell wants to be “fit”? Who needs that? Let me couch potato. So, I guess you get the picture.
Ericka and exercise… in the same sentence? Pfff.
But then you start becoming acquainted with the grandpas in the track. You go to the park and even forget you said you would only run a quick 5K and do 10K instead. The price of running sneakers doesn’t seem ridiculous to you anymore and you don’t even think twice before getting the ones you want. A 10K run in the park becomes a nice way to begin a Sunday morning. You go during the Track and Field practice times to the university track just to watch them with great awe (okay, I sound stalker but… have you ever watched them? THEY ARE AWESOME) You don’t understand how people say they “cannot run” (I am the clumsiest person you’ll ever meet, I believe I practice running because it just takes to move your feet at a constant pace… so it is hard to get hit by a ball in the stomach, tumble, roll down a hill, fall in your face, or anything I would definitely suffer in any other sports)… and all of a sudden there you are, 1 year after at 5:29am about to begin your first half marathon.
First of all, I woke up super late… My plan was to be out of my house by 4:00am since the run started at 5:30am. I openned my eyes at 4:11am but since I had EVERYTHING ready it took me just 19 minutes to be downstairs stopping a cab. I found some girls and the boyfriend of one who were waiting also… it was easy to notice they were also going to the Nike run so I told them to come with me. So, yeah… it was 4:30am and I was in a cab with three strangers on my way to the run. When we were almost arriving the sky started to fall… with this I mean THUNDERS and pouring rain. Still… there I was, and I preferred to get soaked in the rain and go and leave my things first… so I left my umbrella in my bookbag and my raincoat (I was not going to run holding an umbrella so.. oh well). There is when I noticed a lot of girls who had a friend/parent/boyfriend with them and they were holding the umbrella for them (ALL BYYYY MYYYSELF started playing in the back of my mind)... so I made a self-note “Convince someone to come with me next year”
I cannot really describe this feeling… Adrenaline, I guess. You are waiting with your cellphone in hand, ready to press play in Spotify to the playlist you created specifically for THIS run (you can listen to it in here) and to press “Start Run” in the Nike+ app as soon as you cross the sensors. One, two, one, two… I look down and look at my left ankle which I bathed in mentholatum an hour before, then cover with a patch and finished putting a ankle-band-support-thing
(yes, I don’t remember the name right now… shh)
Please, just let me finish… I think, and then Sweet Disposition starts playing. And I am on kilometer 0 of 21.
The first 3 kilometers and the last 2 were the toughest for me, the other 16 in between I just went by even singing from time to time or moving my hands to the beat of the playing song. I also loved every pit stop… they were crazy. There were the official pit stops of Nike which included: water, energy drinks, bananas, SPONGES! which were soaked in cold water so you cleaned your face and arms with them and ahhh… refreshing, chocolates, cookies, and so on. But there were also some pit stops from sponsors which had more chocolates, sweets, and one even had COKE… and the most hilarious one: some guys made a pit stop with beer. Yep, beer. People stand at the border of the road just to shout 加油! which is an incentive here in Taiwan which literal translation is “add oil”, but means “Go! Keep on! You can do this!” and offered their hands to receive high fives. I have no idea why but every time I gave a high five I got super pumped up! A million thanks to every person who was there today, for real… you made a difference to me
(yeah, they won’t probably read my blog but shhh)
By the last two kilometer I was dying. DYING. And girls around me were starting to walk, my ankle was starting to hurt way too much but… come on, 2 KM equals to 5 laps in the track… YOU-CAN-DO-THIS-ERICKA. So there I went… jogging like a grandpa but not stopping. When just 1KM was missing there were some guys playing the drums and some heavy music playing and that was all I needed to make the last effort…
21KM, smile… and AHHHHH MY ANKLE!
I walk down, get interviewed and then I pick up my medal, the Finisher shirt and a towel and join the rest of the runners at the finish event. Music, crowd, cameras, food, physioterapic massage! (Nike, you are AMAZING)…
I definitely recommend everyone to join running events. It gives you a purpose to run for! If you are in Taiwan, ask me! Normally I know a couple of events happenning soon, and even though I wouldn’t be able to join you for training (I am taking at least a month of REAL rest) I can always talk to you, give you any of the tips I use (though I am not professional at all, but… it works at least) so yeah…
ONE MORE VICTORY FOR TEAM TURTLE!
(I say team, but it is actually just me. The happy turtle because I am not fast at all but… once I start stopping is not an option)
Thanks to everyone who supported me on this! Who challenged me to this! Who motivated for this!
First of all, today I had this song in replay all day long. No real reason, it just happenned so it will be cool if you read the entry while listening to it!
“Why did you stop painting pretty things?”
When this question hit me a couple of days ago I actually wasn’t sure how to react. Of course my first instict was to feel offended. My drawings are like my babies, or a depiction of how I see the world and myself, therefore it felt as a critic towards myself rather than just to the ink and paper. I paused my drawing process (yes, I was drawing at that moment) and directed all my attention to this humanbeing, but before snapping out an ugly answer I took a second to think and asked back “What do you mean with pretty?”
Hello there! I tend to focus a lot in the topic of emotional health when I write on my blog: appreciating yourself, loving others, being happy, a healthy relationship with family, blah blah. But today I want to talk about the other health. Yeah, the one in which you are supposed to eat boiled broccoli and exercise at least three times a week
(scary, I know).
I should warn you I am no role model for this topic so, if you are someone who’s looking for pro-healthy-tips or how to lose weight in under a week… Well, my tip is: read the next blog. I am the girl who serves herself a whole plate just of desserts in the buffets, sleeps less than 7 hours a night, eats at least 5 servings of Häagen-Dazs at the Korean-All-You-Can-Eat-BBQ restaurant, and has huge OREO cravings at midnight. But because I am THAT type of person, the type which can’t diet or say no to a slice of cheese pizza, I’ve gotten around my way and found a balance (sort of).
First of all: The real struggle. I live in Shida Rd, for those who don’t live in Taiwan let me describe it to you: I live near four pizza restaurants, two burger places, I have two 24/7 convenience stores (full of all the unhealthy quick snacks) accros the street, Starbucks is the first floor of my building (for real), I have three bubble tea shops at less than 5 minutes walking distance, two Mexican restaurants around the corner, plus three cafes, oh and a night market just in front of me where you can find a variety of deep-fried things. I guess you get the idea, right? So I come from university, and there’s no plate of food waiting for poor tired Ericka and I have all these options, which some of them can cost me less than 2USD by the way, and I have to decide between cooking or just “get something downstairs”.
But that’s okay, you get used to it. And having some fruits, diced vegetables, whole-wheat bread, cheese and ham can be even a better lazy option than going 5 floors down and deciding what to eat. (My building actually has an elevator but shhhh…)
Second part. Sleep hours. There’s not much you can do when you are the queen/king of procrastination and your brain starts being functional around 10pm. All of a sudden it is 2 o’clock and you are just halfway of all the things you knew you had to do but… didn’t. Getting 8 hours of sleep is something that happens once or twice every two weeks and it might be after not sleeping more than four hours for three consecutive days. And that’s bad, since that leads to consumption of caffeine or anything you believe that can keep you awake, and sleep hours are BASIC in a healthy life.
And this is not so okay, since I still don’t know how I can make up for sleep hours, and I actually don’t think there’s a way to actually do so. But I have changed my sugar-overloaded cups of coffee by green tea, which is a healthier source of caffeine.
Third. The Potato Tendency. There’s nothing I love more than Netflix and chill… no, seriously. I am a lover of just laying on the flat’s sofa, or my own bed and watch whatever movie or series I find online, or why not even spend all my time reading useless but pretty interesting articles around the internet. Or just talking with my flatmates for hours until one of us brings the words “I’m hungry” up, and we all get something to eat. How you can see this involves little, or no physical activity and… I LOVE IT.
But, that’s also okay. I actually do like exercising as well (not as much as being a potato, but oh well). This semester I’ve not sign up for the gym yet, but last semester you would see me carrying around a HUGE neon-pink gym bag around the whole campus, plus my heavy-laptop-food-notebook-loaded bookbag just to force myself to hit up the gym in any break or after class. Plus, I like running a lot. Besides all the restaurants I mentioned above I live at a 2 minute bike distance from a running track and at a 6 minute bike ride from my favorite park to jog, which is next to a river. (It’s name is Riverside Park, clever name) So I might not be as potato as I pictured myself just in the paragraph above.
Fourth. Those lovely things pieces of heaven named desserts. I am not kidding when I say I love desserts. I love desserts to the point that the way to get to my heart might be through desserts, or at least that’s what some people think. I’ve received cheesecake as an apologetic or romantic gift more than the times it is allowed for to call something just a “coincidence”. And on my birthday week I had approximately… 15 pieces of cheesecake. So, yeah… I have a soft spot for sweets. (I must remember you my sister is an engineer-baker, so just picture how my summer was regarding desserts terms, PAAARAAAADISE)
But then, guess what is also sweet: FRUITS. I love fruits, so I tend to buy lots of them at the supermarket and carry one or two in my bookbag as snacks. I add banana to my oatmeal, and even a bit of cinnamon to give it that sweet dessert-like taste. I drink my tea with no added sugar… and that’s about it. Of course, nothing can replace my sweet desserts, but I can lie to myself from time to time and say no to that Starbucks lemmon pie waiting for me downstairs.
So, how you can see… I don’t do anything out of this world. I still prefer a Swiss cheese mushroom burger over a bowl of salad, I don’t have a runway model body at all, and I am not proud of my sleeping schedule, but I think those small differences account for a lot when it comes to healthy terms. Since that’s actually my goal: keeping up healthy, or at least healthier than what I would be if I didn’t try.
So, let’s list everything up! (I love lists almost as much as I love parentheses)
- Drink water. Carry that bottle around and DRINK IT.
- Don’t underestimate the power of green tea. it’s awesome.
- Add green to your smoothies. I promise that kale or spinach doesn’t even taste over the fruits (add at least a really sweet fruit, like banana).
- MOVE IT. Run, jump rope, bike, walk around the mall at least six times, go to the gym, dance, zumba, kick-boxing, hoola-hooping (I do this, don’t laugh), ANYTHING.
- DO MORE. It’s easy to settle down. “Oh, I’m doing 5k in a really good timing, great! I am the best!” Yes but… nooooo, now do 10K and set yourself a new goal.
- Get a partner. (Did I tell you the big news? I have a running buddy. FINALLY. And it’s so great to receive a call at 10:45pm when I have already lost the hope to go for a run and have Gabriel tell me “Meet you in the track in 10 minutes?”)8
- Motivate yourself. I actually love Nike Plus, it boosts me up everytime that voice tells me I’m marking one more kilometer, or congratulate me because of running 5x in a week. I don’t know about you, but I like a bit of appreciation for my efforts.
- Don’t focus on looking like an Instagram fitness model, the real goal is to be healthy.
- Tryyyyyyy to say no to all the junk food. And cut out the sodas, I swear after a couple of months you won’t miss them.
- Get a good playlist or make your own.
- Invest on yourself. MAKE IT RAIN with the sport clothes!!! Okay, maybe not to this extreme but I did find myself feeling a bit of a commitment when I bought my babies (my running shoes) and then I just get something new every once in a while. My last purchase were some Puma socks and I am sooooo glad about them, they do make a huge difference when running.
- Don’t do this for someone else, do it for yourself.
And probably you have read this tips in a thousand more fitness pages. But maybe it’s not bad to remind you of them and tell you that if I can stick to them (most of the times) you can as well. And why wait until mainstream January to start? Or boring Monday (though today is Monday over here)? Do it now. So you go and do it, yeah you, sexy beast.
I have not written much these past weeks, shame on me. But I got my reasons! So much has been going on lately I can’t even manage to put it all in an entry. First of all, most important of all: I am an aunt, the aunt of a beautiful and charming baby girl who was born on September 3rd. If I ever thought I have fallen in love before, this totally wrecks it. Everything she does seems wonderful to me, I can stare at her for hours, her smiles make me happy, when she cries I would give everything to stop whatever is bothering her, and to my eyes she is the most beautiful human being to
step on touch Earth.
Last night I slept really late finishing a small mini project and writing a letter. Yeay! And well, at some point of the night I read and used this quote:
If I could give you one thing in life, I would give you the ability to see yourself through my eyes, only then would you realize how special you are to me.
Really good one right? Well… the point is what makes us special? What does someone else sees in you that you can’t see in yourself? Wait, does it even matter what someone else sees in you? At some points in life I’ve thought I am special for something and then it’s taken away from me so I think I’m not special anymore. WRONG, WRONG, WRONG. And since I don’t think I am an alien or some lonely weirdo in this planet I will tell you what I needed to hear from myself.