Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The Art of Re-Reading: Enter Faust

Reading is one of the great pleasures of life. A book opens up a new window of understanding and that’s what makes reading such a compelling experience and one of the truest pleasures of the human experience.
Something else that ought to get more attention and a stronger proverbial “tipping of the cap” is re-reading.
At the moment, I’m re-reading Goethe’s Faust along with one of my favourite playwrights of all time, Botho Strauss. Strauss' Die Fremdenfuehrerin is a the one and only play I've read more than 3 times. Most quality reading is layered and doesn't fall under the one and done category. For instance, Goethe's Faust, or anything by Goethe for that matter, always awakens new and better perspectives on life.
One Faust quote for you today:
“A man sees in the world what he carries in his heart.”
Part I.

Happy re-reading!

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Why Learning a New Language is Exhilariting

Those who know me IRL tend to associate my name with one thing first: languages, a bunch of them. Frankly, I always tend to take this ability and I'm told that maybe I shouldn't? Maybe.
I've been fortunate to have been given opportunties to study up to 14 languages at this point.

However, as a trained linguist, I immediately offer people an odd disclaimer that says something akin to: do not get too impressed by the fact that I'm now in the double digits, I mean, it's what you do if you study linguistics. Well, not quite. But that's another topic.

If you study, and fully study a language, the next natural step is to acquire all the other languages in the same family. After years of Latin, mastering the Latin-based languages wasn't necessarily a real uphill climb. The same applies to the Germanic family. But, I did it and this is how the languages kept adding to the tally.

Anyway, currently I'm revisiting Hebrew, a language I used to speak fluently over a decade ago but one that I have not had a chance to use much. Thus, getting to revisit it has been a real treat. And I am here to vouch that, yes, if you knew it once, you'll always know it!

But, what's truly exciting about the current linguistic pursuits is that I'm learning two new languages: Mandarin and Hungarian. I'd never want to visit a country without speaking its language first.

So, next time I'm in China and Hungary I intend to interact with the locals in their own language. If nothing else, it's the kinder and better thing to do. Namaste! Ok, its neither Mandarin nor Hungarian but I'm also deep into Moksha yoga so, you know, there's some overlapping. We all only have 24 hours after all and, at times, a bit of overlapping is ok. In the meantime, let's all keep exploring and try harder to get better.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Why Movement Matters

The ideas that get revisited the most in one’s life over a long stretch of time are those that help define one’s existence.
The notion of ‘I move therefore I am” has long been a constant in my life. The basic decision to move is an immediate mood lifter. This is one of the reasons why I love exercise and exploring new sports.
For a while now I’ve been pursuing ocean sports and winter sports - one needs to have all the seasons covered - and yet, the one activity that I always find the easiest to go back to is running.

I have now trained for and completed a number of races and the feeling of running with thousands of other people at the same time and on the same route is truly empowering and utterly liberating.
Similarly, running by myself is one of the things I most look forward to as it gives me a chance to disconnect from a busy, fast-paced, and highly verbal life.
The basic act of putting my shoes on, getting the podcasts ready for the long run, does the heart good: both concretely and metaphorically.
One recommendation I easily make to everyone who asks about energy levels or overall positivity is: move, put some running shoes on and move.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Yoga, Yoga, Yoga

I first discovered moksha yoga and the sequence of flows while on a long summer vacation back in 2009. After going to 10+ classes, I was hooked. I had trouble with the heat the first time around and I blogged back then that I almost fainted in class. Luckily, I didn't. I simply was unaware of how much more hydrated I had to be before, during and after the class.

I'm now on the third year of daily yoga practice and I have never felt stronger. I feel like I get a better workout than even doing my other favorite activities: running and windsurfing.

Yoga is a commitment, however. If your schedule says you're going to a 9p class even though you've had a very busy day and you don't feel like it, you need to simply go. Discipline is an indispensable component of daily life and the more I live, the truer this notion becomes. In a matter of minutes I feel as good as I could possibly feel and I'm always amazed at how quickly yoga boosts the mood.

I also believe in tracking my yoga practice as well much like I track my running (favorite app for that is MapMyRun). For instance, when my yoga studio does challenges, I make sure to end up at the top of the leaderboard. Right, because yoga is meant to appeal to your competitive instincts. Well, I didn't say I was aiming for perfection. For now, I'll settle for more flexibility and stronger muscles.

The average number of yoga classes I go to per year is 230 and I can unequivocally say I'm a much stronger thinker, worker, and all around individual thanks to the time I spent on the mat.

So, this Fall season as we're embarking on another cold winter season, try to balance it all out with some yoga. This is just a quick ode to the sequence of moksha which I can now clearly attest is, by far, the most effective workout I've done as an adult. Namaste!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Practice & Repetition

Practice and repetition are two things that pop up in my head every time I'm out in the ocean surfing.
I am deeply in love with windsurfing. Still. Actually, more than I was when I first picked it up.

As my favorite surfing instructor once told me: "you'll know in your gut when you get it." He was right. 100%. The moment you feel like you've struck a good, functioning relationship with the wind, the sail, and the board, you feel invincible.

But the only way to manage a sport like this is by giving in to practice and repetition. Much like everything else in life, practice makes perfect. In this kind of activity though, there's little to no tedium to constant repetition.

Pick something difficult, get to the point where it makes sense in you gut, and sail on! The music I set this clip to is to Xavier Rudd's Spirit Bird. My yoga teacher made me aware of him. Much of my media listening centers around podcasts now and I've put one of my other loves, music, in the back seat for a while. Time to bring it back to the front seat where it needs to be. Give Rudd's music a listen. Worth it.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Things I'm Liking a Lot This Week - Hamilton, The Americans, and Taste by Tom Vanderbilt

1. As a big fan of Hamilton and Lin-Manual Miranda's work, I love James Cordon's most recent Carpool Karaoke featuring Lin-Manual Miranda.
If you're lucky to have been in Broadway and actually seen the impossible-to-get-to Hamilton, this will be a good treat. He's such a talent and Hamilton is incredibly gripping. This is coming from someone who's staunchly in support of opera and not necessarily a vociferous fan of musicals. Hamilton is in a niche of its own, though. So very good!

2. Ok, how amazing is FX's The Americans!
I have been a fan since the very first season and I couldn't be happier that this astutely written show is getting so much traction and they've been reviewed for Seasons 5 and 6. If you have not seen it, make it a point to do so. Brilliant writing and acting! Keri Russell has never been better.

By the way, if you're interested in geeking out over this great series, check out The Slate's podcast as well. It's riveting!

3. Books:

Tom Vanderbilt's Taste in an Age of Endless Choice. The book explores why we like what we like and what informs our taste. A great summer read and if you're looking for a great birthday present, this is definitely a good choice.

Friday, May 27, 2016

A Good Road Trip Always Makes Life Better

I don't mind driving long distances. I actually like the experience of a long drive.
It allows me to think in peace, even with passengers in the car. There's something about the motion, I suppose. All of my best ideas have come to me while moving. And my whole life I've been a believer in the agito ergo sum adage i.e.: I move therefore I am.

The most recent trip however really opened my eyes to something. And that something is the ability to let things come to us. This way of thinking is foreign to someone who is wired for action and is generally a Type A. But I suppose, you live and you learn.

I got to spend time with someone that used to mean a lot to me a decade ago. The fast pace of life had sort of put a distance between us, both concretely and metaphorically. And when we decided to meet up for dinner, we were both sort of blown away by how naturally we came back to where we last left off. We even managed to reconstruct the last conversation we had in person, almost verbatim it felt like.

Time, I suppose, is indeed a human construct.

So, what I'm saying is, if you have people in your life that have truly left a mark on you, really get you, and from whom you learn a lot, make it a point to let yourself be impacted and guided by them.

Quality influences are not in high quantity in life. And when we're fortunate to get them in the first place, we need to make it a point to allow ourselves to let them come back to us.

I'm demonstrably better as a result of making time to connect with my special friend. We're both better as a result, I'm told. And life is too short to be deprived of the needed influence of quality people.

So, here's to fun, long road trips, the opportunity to think and reflect for a while, and the delectable dinner shared between special friends who share a great history. After all, and when dealing with true friendship, time never dilutes it. If anything, it makes it better!

So, cheers!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Why Exercise Matters and the Key to Fitness - Add Yoga to your Day!

I am a big fan of Mapmyrun. Huge!

It tracks all of my physical activity and it reminds me daily how my best running buddy is doing and how I compare to him.

Yes, I am competitive. Hugely! We both are. One needs to own how one is wired so that one can best understand how the body works and which work-out is best suited for one. Self-knowledge matters. Even when it comes to working out.

My buddy has made me better. He says I do the same for him. And I'm glad. There needs to be reciprocity in exercise too, after all.

I have had a really busy and eventful few months. And, holy cow!, have I loved it!

I've dedicated a lot of time, energy and resources to finding the right physical balance.

The thing is, what I've found in life so far, is that health, for the most part, is a direct byproduct of how much work you're willing to put into your body.

The thing is, this is not something you can buy over the counter or hire someone to do it for you. You just have to do it.

As of today and in 2016 alone, I've already run 799km. I'm 6 months ahead of my projection to hit 1000k in 2016.

And currently, I'm in the top 2% of all runners that are tracking their activity on Mapmyrun. More specifically, I'm #5246 out of 260,894 competitors worldwide in the You vs The Year Challenge that Under Armor is sponsoring for Mapmyrun.

By June 16th, I will have hit 1000km for 2016!

Mapmyrun is meticulously tracking and storing my workout data and I am confident my running game is "on fleek" after a few years of practice, marathons and triathlons under my belt.

Many of my family members and close friends wonder why I try so hard to track everything I do and try new physical pursuits. The answer I give to all of them is unequivocally the same every day: "it's the only way I know how to improve. I compete against myself. And I can't imagine life without competition in it."

And I do believe that working towards personal improvement is our individual moral imperative as people. Competition is at the heart of progress, after all.

I never believed in participation trophies.
I always believed in hard work, sacrifice, and the need to self-ameliorate daily.
And that's what fuels the motor.
That's what makes me work hard to move the needle every day.
And that is why I make it a point to learn from and compete with like-minded folks.

So, with close to 5 months under my belt, I believe I have found a combination of physical activity that gives me optimal health. It's taken a lot of work and a lot of resources as well as research. But I was committed to the pursuit.

Other than running every day - and I cannot imagine not running every day, or at least 6 days a week - I took up a daily practice of yoga as well. Turns out, that's exactly the secret ingredient my workout needed!

Daily activity generally consists of the following:

Option 1:

Power Yoga - Hot yoga (60 or 75 minute class)
10k on cement. 2km of the 10km are progressively uphill.
800m swimming. Laps. 600m Freestyle. 200m breast stroke

Option 2:

Power Yoga
10km on cement and gravel.
15km biking.

The following days alternate between Day 1 and Day 2.

Now, is this time-consuming?
It takes 4 hours of my time. Now, I recommend that one wake up early and take yoga at 6am so that the day can be freed up for work and family time. The rest of the activities can happen as time and schedules allow.

As I am about to turn a year older, I am happy to report that I have never felt healthier. Or better.

If I could bottle how it feels after I'm done with my workouts, I'd have the secret to happiness!

Man, does it ever feel great!

Exercise helps curb stress, gain physical strength, and added overall clarity. So, why isn't everyone doing it?

Well, in addition to it being labor-intensive, it requires a lot of additional planning and added time management. And this is why I decided to make physical activity as important as anything else in life. Once I did that, everything else fell into place.

And, as I write this today, I can vouch that if you keep investing in your health and commit to your physical exercise the way you commit to your work, family and loved ones, you will live a qualitative and happy life.

Time to sign off and get the right amount of rest. Rest, after all, has to go hand in hand with physical effort.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Surfing Season is Over but Snowboarding Is Just around the Corner...

The Fall is here.
The air is crisp.
The trees outside the house have changed color already.
And, surfing season is over.
That saddens me as the weekends were the most special time of the week for me. A time to take the board out, get in the zone, focus my mind on the water and the wind and surf, and surf, and surf...
What a great feeling that is!

But, there are always more things to do between now and April. There's always paddleboarding which in Vancouver I get to do basically the whole year, and obviously the biggest win of the season is snowboarding!

Have board, will travel!

Here are some photos from the end of the season. What a great year!

And the Winner Is....

I started with the Jawbone first.
Subsequently, I moved on to the FitBit and enjoyed some great fun and competition with my friends and colleagues.
The FitBit was there when I ran my first marathon, the whole of 42.2KM in May. It was there as I trained doggedly every day for months. And, as a result, the FitBit will always hold value for me.
Plus, I'm such a fan of their customer service. Whether I broke one while wind surfing, or even lost one in the deep belly of the Pacific, it didn't matter. They sent me brand-new units. Their customer experience is outstanding!

But, as with everything, we tend to move on to other things. This is the side effect of a world that's bursting at the seams with options.

And while I have moved on from the FitBit, I made sure to have family members and friends set up with it. My parents track their activity daily and they always hit their targets. And in the process, they get more conscious of their health and activity. The FitBit is helping them with it. I think it's a great solution for people that don't need to have constant access to a lot of other information while working out.

I switched to the Moto 360 as it can do more than the two devices. The watch gave me access to my emails, texts, BBM, GPS... well, basically every app I had on the Android-powered device. And while I love the watch, it's not really a great match for my other technology. And I have a thing for consistency. Hard as I try, I can't get myself out of the habit of consistency and structure. Having it in life gives me comfort and makes me really efficient.

So, I had to start using the Apple watch. I've been an Apple user my whole life and, as any Apple user would know, it's more than just content, it's pretty much a way of life.

So, the winner is the Apple watch. It basically wins solely out of ease of use: it connects with everything and it goes with all of my other technology.

And now that the surfing season is over - sadness galore - I am switching back to 10k runs 5 days a week for an average of 50k a week. The next marathon is just around the corner and I need to best my May 2015 marathon time.

And the Apple watch will be my date this time around.

If you're in the market for a health-monitoring device, any of the above-listed options are great. My advice: pick something you will use over time.

 Happy Running!