A busy wedding weekend

bride-and-groom-768594_1920Last weekend, I flew out to the US for my best friend’s wedding. It was a wonderful weekend and I’m so glad I was able to make it. However, it was also incredibly busy.

I flew out Thursday afternoon and arrived around 11 PM after a flight delay. My friend picked me up from the airport and we drove to her place. We talked for a bit but headed to bed around midnight since she had work the next morning. I puttered around for the morning and then met up with her for lunch. After eating, we drove a few boxes over to their new house and I got to see the place. Then we spent the evening with her family.

Saturday was a flurry of activity. Family brunch, social events, family dinner, and wedding set up filled the day. Once tables were set and decorated, sound systems tested, and lights hung, it was time to head home.

Sunday dawned bright and early. I made a quick breakfast for the two of us. Then we dashed out the door around 8 AM, quickly grabbing dresses and accessories on the way out. We started working on wedding hair until 9 AM, then headed down for rehearsal. We ran through things a few times so everyone knew what they were doing. At 10 AM we headed back to finish up hair, steam dresses, and get the bride into hers. We took group photos for about an hour. The ceremony began at noon, with a reception to follow while the bride, groom, and family took photos. The rest of the wedding party grabbed food and something for the toasts.

The bride and groom made their entrance and enjoyed their first dance. The father-daughter and mother-son dances followed. Then they sat down for the toasts. More dancing ensued while people offered their congratulations to the happy couple. Then they left for their honeymoon and those who remained helped with the cleanup. After a couple of hours, things were back to normal. I headed out to catch up with friends. But was back early to pack up my suitcase and prepare for an early flight the next morning.

It was an incredible weekend. I was so honoured to be there for my friend’s wedding. It was wonderful getting to watch her marry her best friend. But by the end of it, my introvert self was extremely burned out. These past few days have included going to bed early, getting lots of quiet time, and taking care of myself. Fortunately, my roommate has been working evenings, so I’ve had the place to myself for the most part.

How was your weekend?

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8 Things I’ve Learned from Dance

dance-1138553_1920It’s been about a year since I first stepped into the dance studio. I was an awkward beginner with little dance experience. Since then I’ve developed into a slightly less awkward dancer with slightly more experience. It’s been a journey full of sweat, hard work, and sore muscles. But there have been so many positive things too. I wanted to share a few things I’ve learned from taking ballroom and latin dance classes.

1. Embrace the process
Learning anything new is hard. You’re put through situations that aren’t mentally or physically comfortable. But don’t fight it. When you accept the discomfort it doesn’t necessarily make it easier. But you can see how each step contributes to making you better. It’s all leading to self-improvement.

2. Making mistakes is okay (and normal)
With dance, you’re learning to move your body in completely foreign ways. You will eventually mess up your footwork or step on some toes. Mistakes are a normal part of any learning process. So try not to get too frustrated. The only difference between you now, and what you can become, is time and experience.

3. The value of discipline
It’s not easy to show up each week and put in the work. It takes sacrifice and dedication. You might not feel like going. I usually don’t, even though I love to dance. This creates positive habits and contributes to building the discipline needed to achieve your goals.

4. Increased social skills
Partner dance provides an excellent opportunity for social interaction. Firstly, dancing is a great icebreaker. Secondly, both of you are interested in dance, so you can skip the small talk and jump straight into an animated conversation about your favourite dance style. This is especially great for an introvert who loathes small talk.

5. More confidence
I used to walk with a slouch, trying to take up as little space as possible. But over the past year, I’ve noticed that I’ve straightened up, and not just when I dance. I feel surer of myself and am more likely to contribute to group conversations. And I’m excited for the continued growth.

6. How to push out of the comfort zone
Taking my first step into the dance studio was nerve-wracking. I didn’t know anyone. I didn’t know if I’d have a partner. I was afraid that I’d mess up and look dumb. But we’re capable of so much more than we think. Taking that first step, regardless of how hard it was, was totally worth it. I’ve made new friends and learned a lot. The positive feedback has encouraged me to push myself even more.

7. The importance of self-care
Dancing uses a lot of muscles you don’t normally use. As a result, you end up with tight and sore muscles after most sessions. To avoid injury, you need to take care of yourself through foam rolling, gentle stretching, hot baths, massage, etc. It’s equally important to make sure you’re well-rested and have quiet time before and after dance class to prep and unwind.

8. How to be vulnerable
Dance encourages you to express yourself through movements and styling. Sometimes it feels uncomfortable to “let go”. As a reserved person, it took a long time before I felt comfortable enough to try latin dance. And even longer before I felt comfortable using arm styling and hip action. Embracing discomfort and expressing yourself honestly helps build connections and confidence.

What are some things you’ve learned through a hobby or sport?

6 Tips to Stay Organized

coffee-1276778_1920Things have been fairly busy lately. With sickness running rampant at the office, tasks have been piling up. I’ve been getting ready for my best friend’s wedding later this month. Add workouts and dance classes and catching up with old friends and you have a very busy mix.

I wanted to share a few things I do to stay organized. If you have any suggestions on being more efficient I’d love to hear them too!

1. Make all the lists
Every time you think of something that needs to be done, write it down. This can be done on an actual piece of paper or on your phone/computer. I like to make a giant to-do list, then create separate lists for grocery trips, trip planning, packing lists, etc.

2. Prioritize your tasks
Break down your to-do lists into two parts. Time-sensitive, must-do tasks. And everything else. That way you can focus on the urgent tasks and do the rest when you have the time. It also ensures you don’t forget about something that needs to be done ASAP.

3. Break it down
When approaching a huge task (like planning a vacation), it can easily get overwhelming, especially for an introvert. Write down all the small steps (figuring out accommodations, find flights, car rental, money exchange, etc) that lead to finishing the big task. Then start working on them one at a time. It’s way less stressful.

4. Use a day planner or organizer
Set aside time during the week to fill out a weekly planner. Start by writing down all your daily tasks first (work, food prep, laundry, workouts, etc). Then add all your urgent tasks (like work or personal projects). Extra spaces can be filled with hobbies, social time, or recharge time. My personal favourite is the Passion Planner, but there are tons out there.

5. Stick to it
Follow the schedule you’ve made up. The first few weeks will be full of trial and error. You may need to make adjustments here and there. But stick with it, it’s worth the effort.

6. Reward yourself 
Treat yourself when you’ve been successful in staying on track. Then keep up the good work!

Do you have any other tips or tricks?

The simple life

architecture-1087820_1920I love a simple life. A quiet existence where I have everything I need and nothing more. Having too much stuff distracts me from what’s really important. It’s the people who matter to me, not the things. I want my mind to be free to focus on what I value: my relationships and self-improvement.

Unfortunately, I have a pack-rat for a roommate. She displays knickknacks throughout the living room and likes to stack her entire tea collection on the kitchen counter. But it’s her space too, so I try to keep things in perspective.

While I may not have complete control over the shared spaces, my room is different. My room is my sanctuary. It’s clean and quiet. There’s no clutter. A few frames adorn the walls, a string of lights, some travel shots. It’s a cute room with matching colours and simple pleasures. It’s very much me. It’s my escape and where I go to unwind.

Since our shift into winter, I’ve had more time to clean and tidy up indoors. I can remove the clutter that slowly piles up and reclaim the quiet corners of my room. This past week I’ve gone through my room, closet, and storage bins, purging them of unnecessary items. It’s a work in progress but clearing out space in my closet is so addicting!

How’s your week been?

And finally, Tokyo

Wow, this was a long time in coming. I apologize for the lack of posts lately and for this one being so late. Work in December and January has been insane and has only just started to normalize. I have another busy weekend coming up, so I wanted to share this post before things get too hectic.

I only spent a couple of days and nights in Tokyo this trip. The photos below are from a few places. I walked through Yoyogi park and checked out Meiji Shrine. I also spent some time in the Harajuku area. I walked through Takeshita street and found a quiet shrine a few minutes away. I wandered through the Omotesando area and through various neighbourhoods. I also walked around near Shibuya station to see Hachiko and the famous Shibuya scramble crossing. There are also quite a few pictures from the Asakusa area, my favourite go-to place!

I hope you have a wonderful rest of the week and a great weekend!! I’ll try to be posting on a more regular schedule once this weekend is over.

What is your favourite place to travel to?

An introvert performs

theater-1477670_1920When I first signed up for dance lessons a year ago, I never thought I’d be performing. In fact, if you had told me that, I would have walked out. But as time shifts, so does our perspective.

My dance studio puts on a showcase twice a year. One in June and one in December. It’s an opportunity for private dance students to perform in front of an audience. But there are also several group dance routines to showcase different styles.

I originally signed up for samba because there wasn’t a showcase piece planned. But after a few weeks, our instructor suggested we perform too. Although hesitant at first, I began to consider it. I would be performing with 10 others, so I wouldn’t be alone and that helped to assuage the anxiety a bit. While the idea of performing was still scary, it was starting to look doable.

Eight weeks flew by and suddenly, it was showtime. That evening I arrived early at the venue. I chatted with a few people I knew to stave off the pre-show nerves. Then I headed to the ballroom and took my seat.

I was a bit jittery as we waited to be announced. But as soon as the music began, my nerves melted away. It was so much fun! I was able to really enjoy the moment. Then it was over and we were bowing and heading back to the foyer. High fives and smiles met us as we walked back through the door. I’ve never had that much fun performing before.

After changing into something a bit nicer, I headed back to my seat in the ballroom. I got to enjoy the rest of the evening stress-free. I excused myself soon after the show ended and drove home. It was a lovely evening but I was feeling pretty burned out. I savoured the silence in the car on the ride home. Fortunately, I had the place to myself the next day which allowed me to recharge and unwind.

How is your week going so far?

One small step

crossfit-534615_1920It’s amazing how one small decision can lead to so many changes. Five years ago, I made an appointment at the gym near my work. As an introvert and overall quiet person, I was pretty nervous (I share a few introvert tips here that helped me get used to the gym environment). So I listened to their spiel, signed up for a membership, and agreed to pay for three discounted personal training sessions. Unfortunately, unless you buy their expensive training packages, you’re pretty much on your own after that.

It took me six months to figure out what I wanted to do. I tried the circuit training machines. I ran on treadmills and rode exercise bikes. I attended a few group classes and attempted yoga. It was okay but I didn’t love it. Then I started picking up heavy weight. I loved it and finally knew I wanted to get stronger. Within a couple of months of switching my routine over, I started noticing positive changes.

My brother obtained his personal training certification around this time. So he created a workout program based on my strength goals. He coached my form and gave me feedback. He was also able to work around my old injuries and strengthen my weaknesses. With his help, I grew capable of moving a lot more weight.

As I increased in strength, my confidence grew. I wasn’t as timid. I started standing a bit straighter (it’s still a work in progress). I felt more confident in speaking my mind and asserting myself. I became more comfortable with myself and around others.

I was motivated to improve other areas of my life too. I’ve worked on maintaining a schedule so I can get to bed earlier. I’m working on drinking more water. I cook all my meals from scratch and try to choose healthier food options. Most recently I started taking ballroom and latin dance classes. Dance class has helped to boost my confidence even more. And it all began with a single appointment at the gym. Below is one of my favourite quotes on fitness.

Going to the gym isn’t a punishment for what you ate or how much you sit, fitness is a celebration of the fact that you are alive and can still move. Fitness isn’t something you only do at a gym; fitness for life means you either approach your body and mind with respect, or you disrespect the gift of your own life and health and then everything that defines a healthy human being, such as the ability to pick up a grandchild or to walk on the beach, is taken away from you.

Getting in shape isn’t something you only do for a wedding or for the newly divorced, fitness is a personal choice where you decide to live your life at the highest level you can possibly achieve, because if you are fit and healthy, then anything in life seems possible. The mindset for fitness isn’t about being perfect or trying to recapture who you were, “back in the day,” but rather becoming the best you can be today.

There is no perfect you, but there is a you within that can overflow with happiness, vibrant health and crazy energy, because you now understand you don’t do fitness, you are fitness. Mindset is everything in the pursuit of personal health, but you have to enter the arena with the understanding that fitness isn’t another hobby you only do when you have time or to relax; fitness is the very essence of how you live 24 hours a day, how you think and who you are.

-Thomas Plummer

What activities do you enjoy?