Monday, December 20, 2010

Things I need to work on

As usual I’m not happy with the way I’m living my life right now. I’m permanently tired because I’m not getting enough sleep - for the past three days I’ve had about 3-4 hours of sleep a night. And I’m not even taking long siestas or anything to compensate for it, so that’s one hell of a sleep deficit I’m building.

Here's a list of the things that I really need to work on:

1. Getting to bed early. I can’t function during the day properly and I ain’t doing what I’m supposed to be doing until the last minute before bed. Feeling permanently tired is so old already.

2. Get my exercise in earlier. It has to be done. And no cheating. These days I’ve been working out in the wee hours - around 12 or even 1 in the morning. See, I said I need to get to bed earlier.

3. Write more. Throughout the day and not just 20 minutes before bed so that I can tick the ruddy habitforge update.

4. Quit playing Mahjong Titans. I’m wasting HOURS everyday on this s**t. Seriously, I spent over 10 hours on it last week. (As per my Rescue Time weekly summary - boy did I not like this week's report. Rescue Time, by the way, is an online time tracking program that logs how long you spend on every program that you use, whilst running in the background. It's actually pretty nifty.)

5. Preparing lessons properly and ahead of time. Also, I need to be stricter about logging hours and pay. I’m not feeling the whole teaching thing right now. A large part of my problem is that I teach several one-to-ones, but I prefer teaching groups (more varied interactions and it’s sooooooooo much easier), so I’m not very enthusiastic. This means that I leave my lesson planning until the last minute the night before. It would be so much better if I just did it ahead of time and had one less thing to stress over.

6. Work on my review of 2010. This year was basically an unmitigated disaster in terms of my New Year’s Resolutions and goals, for various reasons. I know that if I don’t want to repeat this next year then I’m going to have to really take a long hard look at what went wrong this year. I also want to do some of the various end-of-year reviews that are out there.

7. Pick goals for next year. I think this one’s fairly obvious.

It’s not much, but it does require willpower, which I’m kinda low on these days.

Anything you need to work on? Or is everyone just gonna wait until the New Year?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

I am a warrior.

I recently discovered habitforge, a site that allows you to list habits you want to form and then sends you an email every day to check up on you. But the best bit? You have to do the activity every day for 21 days straight. If you skip one day, you have to start again from zero. It’s very effective. I'm currently working on two habits: working out for 50 minutes and writing every day.

So far it’s been 5 days since I started and I can say, hand-on-heart, that the previous two days especially, I would not have worked out if it were not for the threat of starting all over again. And you know what? It feels great! Every workout I finish I feel so proud of myself - this is a HUGE accomplishment for me. Consistency isn’t my forte, or so I keep telling myself, but I’m really beginning to think that’s a load of BS. I can do anything consistently, provided I have the right motivation, it’s something I truly believe in and it’s something that I really want to do, and not just something that I think I should be doing.

With regards to my workouts, I’m generally doing whatever workout I feel like doing and/or is convenient. Yesterday, that was yoga. I didn’t follow any set workout plan or DVD or anything, I just did a few rounds of sun salutation to warm up and then did whatever poses I felt like doing, for however long I felt like doing them for. The one pose I kept going back to and staying in the longest was this warrior pose (though perhaps not quite as deep as the picture in the link!). I am a warrior. ;)

After my little yoga sesh, I read through some blogs in my reader, and I came across this post from The Simple Dollar. In it, the author (Trent) shares that his wife writes a very simple daily journal: every day she notes down what the best moment of her day was. It seems so simple, yet so darn useful! I really think that if I were to note down the best moment of my day everyday I’d start to see what I really love to do.

So, what was my best moment of yesterday? When I realised I had about 10minutes left of my workout, I spent the rest of that 10 minutes smiling my way through the poses. I was happy with myself, and I felt strong, successful, centred and in control of my life.

What was the best moment of your day?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Fasting in Islam

I've mentioned a few times on my blog about fasting, usually with regards to Ramadan. After Melanie's comment, I thought I could elaborate a little bit more about fasting in Islam. Because I don't want to complicate things, I've decided to use Rudyard Kipling's poem 'I Keep Six Honest Serving Men' as a guide to explaining the most important things.

Rudyard Kipling wrote:
I keep six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.

So first up: What is fasting in Islam? Basically it's going without food or drink from dawn to dusk. It also involves staying away from all vices (sex, smoking, etc) during those hours, as well as working harder to please God through every act of worship from kindness to prayer.

Next: Why do Muslims fast? For much the same reason that Jews fast Yom Kippur and some of the reasons that Christians fast - to attain piety through humility, and develop a closer relationship with God. You can't show off when you're fasting, because only God knows if you're not cheating.

Thirdly: When do Muslims fast? It's just Ramadan, right? Wrong! Although Ramadan is the one time when Muslims HAVE to fast, it's not the only time that we are encouraged to do so. The other important religious fasts include six days in the month following Ramadan, the first 10 days of the last month in the Islamic calendar (which is the month in which the Hajj pilgrimage takes place) especially the 9th Day (the Day of Arafat) and other days, too.

Also, there are times when fasting is forbidden in Islam, most notably the two Eid celebrations.

Then there's How Muslims fast. Other than the fact that everyone doesn't eat, drink or have sex between sun-up and sun-down, there are no specific rituals involved. This has led to great cultural diversity across Muslim lands, which sparks a lot of curiousity and comparing of notes. All good fun. A lot of people get up early before dawn to have a breakfast, that can consist of anything from cereal to a full, several course dinner. (I’m not kidding, I’ve personally witnessed people eat 3+ courses for breakfast in Ramadan).

And then there is breaking the fast. The Prophet Muhammed (peace and blessings be upon him) said that God says that the two happiest times in a Muslim's life are when they break their fast and when they meet their Lord. This is so true. The pure bliss when breaking your fast is unparalleled. But what to break the fast with? Traditionally, it's dates, but it can be anything, from water, milk, soup, dinner, an entree, anything at all. This is then followed by a dinner, called Iftar.

Next up: Where do Muslims fast? Everywhere ... unless they are travelling. If you're on a journey or are away from home for a few days you don't have to fast, as the toll of travel can make you weaker.

Last, but not least: Who has to fast? Everybody at, or over, the age of puberty, male and female, who will not harm their health by doing so. So kids and anyone with a medical reason not to fast, as well as pregnant/breastfeeding women who fear for their and/or their child's wellbeing are exempt. Also, women on their period don't fast.

Now that I’m done with that, I’ll address one of the biggest misconceptions regarding Ramadan: that fasting for a whole month will make you lose weight. It doesn’t. Trust me on this. My mum once fasted Ramadan before she became a Muslim with the hope of losing weight and she lost nothing. Why? Well, because you can still eating anything you like in the evening. And worse yet, a lot of people put on weight in Ramadan because they think that having eaten nothing all day they can eat whatever they want, and however much of it, they like. Sadly, that’s not true.

And it’s quite common for non-Muslims to try it out, for various reasons. I know one person who did it just to see if they could, and another who lived in an area with a large Muslim community and wanted to join in. Also, there are lots of opportunities for people to meet up for an evening meal.

A member of a fire department participates in an Iftar.source

For some truly amazing photos of Muslims during Ramadan/Eid from around the world, check out the Boston Globe's Ramadan 2010 photo gallery.