2016: What I really, really want


(c)Kelly @Hemma.ca

After reading that only eight per cent of people achieve their New Year’s resolutions, I’m hesitant to write this post. Heck, I’m proof of the failure of resolutions: last year I only read four of the seven books I committed to reading. And I’m pretty sure I’ve said to myself “I should do more yoga this year” on more than occasion on a New Years’ day.

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“What’s your next challenge?”

2014-10-09 10.20.05

“What’s your next challenge?”

 I got asked this question the other day. Perhaps it’s an odd question, but in Hong Kong – in an expat culture that thrives on challenges and pushing boundaries – “what’s your next challenge?” or “when’s your next race”  are ranked among some of the most common topics of conversation.

And I’ll admit, the last three years of my life have been full of all types of races and challenges: an amateur boxing match, jumping ship from my career as a lawyer to forge a new one as a journalist, ultra marathons, road marathons and climbing mountains. I’ve been a real sucker for a challenge, the bigger the better.

But for some reason when I was asked the question the other day, I fumbled for words. My biggest challenge right now is not having a challenge. 

At the moment I’m dipping my toes in lots of varied interests: road running, cycling, and I’ve finally embraced swimming and hope to do a few ocean swims come summer. And I’ve also signed up for a course to study nutrition.

Here’s the irony: that’s a lot of races and challenges!!! But sized up against what I’ve set for myself in the past, they seemed to pale in comparison. And so when asked the question, I stumbled.

And here’s the silly part: I actually cringed to declare my paltry ambitions. Continue reading

“Find peace” … what does that mean anyway?

2014-11-22 12.15.27 copyWhile my inner thigh trembled in Warrior Pose during my hot yoga class this morning my yoga teacher, urging us to stick with it, said something which struck me: “Find peace with what is and what isn’t”.

Just at that moment an annoyingly large drop of sweat had accumulated on the tip of my nose. I wanted to pull out of the pose, wipe off the sweat, get a drink of water – anything to get me out of that uncomfort of what was, and what wasn’t. But her words struck me.

They were reminiscent of a few things that were going on in my life at that moment – like that drop of sweat, things which were hanging and dangling uncomfortably. And which simply were, without being able to be changed, even though I didn’t want things to be the way they were.

And here she was, telling me to “find peace” with it all.

What does that mean, really, to “find peace”? We throw that phrase around all the time, but what does it really mean? Continue reading

To love and be loved

Love-Is-Why-We-Are-HereIt’s that time of year again and I have been thinking a lot about love recently. Truthfully, I’ve always loathed Valentines Day – often spending the day yearning hopelessly for a flower delivery from a secret admirer that never arrives – but I was surprised to discover this year, in a proper loving relationship for the first time, the day still irked me.

It’s a day of chocolates, flowers and fancy dinners; the one day of the year designated for lovers. A day to fall in love, perhaps all over again.

And here is my vexation: all of these things signal love can be bought and are suggestive of a sole day of effort. Even the words “fall in love” indicate an involuntary hold over the senses.

If I’ve learnt anything in the past year it is this: being in love and being in a loving relationship is anything but involuntary. It’s rarely the product of material things or decadent experiences. And remaining in love is not something you do or think about once a year, but something you work on everyday. Continue reading

Lightening bolts, Green Juices and Potatoes: Three things I can’t live without in ultras

Vibram HK 100 2014 (c) Bernie Kwok

Vibram HK 100 2014 (c) Bernie Kwok

Tomorrow I will be embark on my third Vibram Hong Kong 100 journey (and my sixth 100 km ultra)! It will be a very different experience this time, and one I’m very excited about: I’m running it with my boyfriend. As he stood amongst a heap of plastic bags, energy bars and other equipment last night looking seriously befuddled, I realised that not only do I have race prep down pat, I also have a bit of a routine I’m fond of when it comes to ultras. It’s strange and awesome so, naturally, I thought I’d share.

Here are three things I can’t live without when running an ultra.

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My 2015 Reading List: Why I’m making a reading list this year, not resolutions

the more you will learn

Around this time every year I make quiet promises to myself. No two years are precisely the same, but they usually follow the same tune: to eat better and to slow down. I start off the year so well, my plate draped in greens as I commit to being more mindful. As the year progresses I tend to lose momentum, ending the year kicking myself for returning to exactly where I started. Sound familiar?

This year I’m committing to a promise I am more confident I will keep: I’m making a reading list instead.

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies… The man who never reads lives only one.” Ah, isn’t it true? A good book expands your mind and influences every aspect of your life through your thoughts, your conversations and your dreams. You are the books you read, after all.

So, rather than making promises to myself to be “healthier”, “happier”, “more productive”, to go to yoga more and keeping up my running, I’m committing instead to read the books that will educate and inspire me towards my underlying goals.

Here are seven books, organised into topics, which I will read this year.

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Oxfam Trailwalker: Why you need to be more afraid of this little thing than 100 kilometers

ithinkicanIt is Oxfam Trailwalker time again, and there is one thing way more frightening than 100 kilometres: a negative thought.

Tomorrow marks the third year in a row I will be heading out to the MacLehose trail – this time, however, not to run 100 kilometres (phew!) but to run just a small part in support my incredible friend Nora and her team, “Team Green”, as they take on this feat.

Two thoughts struck me this morning as I started preparing for my own small part of the adventure: firstly, how seriously phenomenal it is that these runners will be travelling 100 kilometres – one-hundred-fricking-kilometres!!!! – on foot, over some of the most challenging terrain Hong Kong has to offer, and secondly, how seriously underprepared I feel to run just a mere 20 kilometres of it.

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