It’s a rainy winter day in December, the perfect weather to reflect on the year and writing a blog post. I have been tinkering with photography lately and love inspirational quotes, hence the birth of this post marrying both. It has been an eventful year for us and taught us not to take each other and life for granted. Life goes on regardless of what happened around us, so prioritize and live life with no regrets.
In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.
2019 will definitely go down as an unforgettable year for me and my family. I hope to inspire you to embark on your own journey of discovery and exploration. I can’t wait to see what 2020 will bring. Happy Holidays to all and see you again in 2020.
Your task, as a human being, is not self-augmentation, but self-discovery. Look at yourself with curiosity. Let yourself explore your interests. Delve into your talents. Face your fears. Accept your faults, and give yourself unconditional love.
I have a lot of fears, fear of deep water (where I can’t touch the bottom), fear of falling, fear of being alone, fear of big dogs, fear of time getting away from me, fear of criticisms, and so forth. If you have been following my blog you would notice that I still participated in activities that involve those fears. I would push myself and tell myself that ‘I can do it’ while I was white-water rafting or scuba diving or doing anything that I was afraid of. I had fun but I’m not sure if I was enjoying myself though. There was always a voice in my head that said ‘get out of there’. Last weekend, I confronted my fear of swimming in deep water head-on. I took a special swimming class and had a totally different view of the water. I still have a long way to go but for the first time in my life, I know that I am in control and I was able to have fun and enjoy myself swimming in deep water. The biggest take away so far from the class is to live in the present. This means when I am in the water, I feel everything at that exact moment and not let my mind wander off to something else. I feel the water lifting me, I feel the tension in my neck, I feel my arms and my legs floating in the water at that very moment. Often times when we are in unfamiliar or fearful situations, our minds wander to past events masking the present. Our minds and bodies are not in the same place and we lose control. I found an interesting article that explains the present concept and mindfulness here. I am hopeful that with my newfound knowledge, I can overcome my fears and practice living in the present; and explore all the new sensations by being more aware of my feelings.
The ability to be in the present moment is a major component of mental wellness
The idea of writing had always been in my mind but I did not do anything about it because I was afraid of failing and being laughed at, even though I thought it would be fun to have my own blog. Writing does not come easy for me, let alone in English since it is not my first language. Sharing it in a blog means I’m opening up my vulnerabilities and flaws to the world to see, and I must learn to accept criticisms. I could not remember what propelled me to start the blog at that moment three years ago but I am grateful that I did. It had become a crucial part of my mental well being. I have also been thinking a lot about the direction of my blog and what my intention was for writing. Over the years, so much has changed within myself and what I want to share seem to be transformed with that. In my early research about blogging, most recommendations or suggestions revolve around having a solid niche for your blog, getting a big audience, increasing and keeping followers, likes and comments, and be an influencer! Yes, those all are true and sound like good bits of advice. I won’t lie, getting new followers and likes definitely bring excitement to my blogging ‘career’. But, was that my intention? What am I sharing that is different than everybody else? Am I just following the social media craze? Ultimately all I want to do is to have a way for me to preserve and document my thoughts and my journeys in life and share my discoveries with others. You might also say it’s a journal and I can always look back to seek reminders and keep myself accountable to my goals. The tagline for my blog ‘Explore, Enjoy, Experience’ is truly the direction I’m heading. I am constantly exploring what the world has to offer and my inner identity, enjoying and experience all the unique moments along the way. With this mission in tow, I revamped my website and updated some posts. Reading through my own posts again from the beginning rekindled the sparks and excitement that I felt when I wrote my first post three years ago. There is no niche in my blog, it is purely a personal blog, a place for me to open up my journeys, offer tips and inspirations for you to create your own experiences, and sometimes I may even rant (just a tiny bit)! Here’s a glimpse of my recent moments. As you can see, all of my fun times are outdoors. I enjoy the openness of the outdoors and especially on the mountains. Breathing in the mountain air often gives me a sense of serenity and calmness. I am truly present to feel every inch of my muscles aching and my knees screaming; and yet it’s the place where I can clear my head, regroup and recharge. It’s my happy place! By the way, one of my goals is to be able to jump in and swim in the lake in that last picture; and I am well on my way!
Are you focusing on the present? What are your fears or worries? Are they stopping you from doing something fun? Here’s a quick guide from Mindful.org if you are interested in starting the practice of mindfulness and living in the moment.
We are all travelers in the wilderness of this world, and the best we can find in our travels is an honest friend.
Robert Louis Stevenson
It has been a while since I traveled back to my hometown in Sabah, Malaysia. Sabah is located in the northern part of Borneo Island. A state surrounded by islands off the coast, plenty of sandy beaches, coconut trees, lush rainforests, beautiful sunsets, amazing food, and friendly people. I grew up in Kota Kinabalu, the state capital which is located on the west coast of Sabah. I have been talking to my friends about climbing the highest mountain in Malaysia, Mount Kinabalu since we met maybe about twenty years ago. We were finally able to coordinate everyone schedules and made the trip together in February. We have gone on hikes and camping trips but this marked our first trip together for two weeks. The highlight of our trip was summiting Mount Kinabalu at 4095 meters (13435 ft.). It was a gruesome two-day hike/climb to reach the summit from 1866 meters (6122 ft.) but we made it despite the difficulty with minor altitude sickness and lack of sleep. With the beautiful islands nearby, we decided to try scuba diving and there’s definitely going to be an under the sea adventure in the future. We also spent our off days wandering around the streets of downtown Kota Kinabalu and trying out all the different street food and local delicacies. We had a blast and our final destination was Nexus Resort Karambunai which is a beachside resort about 30 km (18 miles) north of Kota Kinabalu. This was supposed to be the ‘relax by the pool’ part of our vacation, but there were so much to do at the resort. We spent time kayaking in the mangroves, watching the sunset and luring the fireflies to come out and play, learning to use a blowpipe, adventure fishing with interference from the monitor lizards that live on the grounds of the resort, cooking local food with the chef, yoga by the beach, a relaxing massage at the spa and a bonfire to top it all off. The staff at the resort was amazing and kept us entertained and happy for the duration of our stay.
I was proud to show off my hometown to my friends and happy to see the development and improvement done throughout the years. I love nature and outdoors the most and with the little time we had we were only able to experience a small part of the state and in the future I would like to experience the turtle island, hiking in the rainforest and searching for waterfalls, cave exploration, and many more. Good friends are hard to come by and good friends you can travel with and be crazy with are even harder to find. So go and have fun, and don’t be afraid to try out new things.
Throughout this trip, I think we learned something new about each other and that we have similar values in terms of traveling and immersing ourselves in the culture and mingle with the locals. Our priorities are different than a lot of the tourists who would just be there, took pictures and left. I hope you find some inspiration to go out there and create new experiences for yourselves.
I would like to take this opportunity to show my appreciations to the following people:
Thank you to my friends who encouraged me along the way and carried my pack up the mountain when I was losing steam especially to Howard and Sam.
Thank you, Howard, Kim, Trudy, Sam, Jessilyn, Richard, Carol, and my husband Danny for all the photo contributions and a grand old time.
Thank you to my aunties, uncles, cousins, friends who met with me during this trip. I hope to see you all again soon.
Thank you to our mountain guides, Lawrence and Bonny, our diving instructors Dixon Davies and Fai; and all the wonderful staff at Nexus Resort.
Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.― T.S. Eliot
A few years back I was stuck in a rut and needed a change of pace in my life. I started to read a lot of self-help books and research on clean eating and clean living. Most of all, I discovered the love for outdoors and adventures through some great friends. I wanted to see the beauty of the world and unbeknownst to me at the time, I was embarking on a journey of self-discovery. This is the year I turn fifty, yes the much anticipated five zero and you’ll probably see more posts around the subject this year. Although my son had reminded me that I’m half a century old, I view it as the beginning of a new chapter with new freedom to experience life at a different level.
As we are packing up our house now for our move, I feel a sense of great accomplishment as I browse through old pictures, certificates, and all the sentimental items collected. I also feel a sense of relief as I let them go and take this opportunity to teach my children to let things go. The changes I see in myself is profound. I no longer crave shopping for trendy clothes, instead, I shop for clothing that I can hike and go around town in. I look at hiking boots instead of heels, climbing gears and backpacks instead of handbags, and I really don’t care if I have to go potty in the woods. Recently, I suggested to my friends about snow camping in the winter, which I never thought I would do just a year ago. I am glad that I have a better half who is willing to do all these crazy things with me. We traveled through different continents, experienced different cultures and hiked through some amazing mountains.
Pushing fifty means my body is not as tough as it used to be. I am still in good health but my joints are feeling the wears and tears from the constant ‘beating’. Often times during a hike or climb, I have to keep motivating myself by envisioning the end goal, be it the summit of a mountain, the comfort of the car or a good ol’ hamburger, my favorite after-hike food. Most of the times, the mountain wins but I always bounce back and tackling them slowly but surely. It’s pure bliss when I’m high up there looking at the horizon and reflecting on the journey up. To reach my goals of at least 26 hikes this year, and fulfilling all the challenges and adventures heading my way, I definitely need to take care of myself with plenty of exercise, physical therapies, and healthy eating.
Age is just a mindset. I try very hard not to let it stop me from doing anything. What had helped me to stay on track are;
Writing down my goals on my blog, or just write them down on the calendar.
Don’t wait until the new year to come up with a new year’s resolution which often times failed. You can start at any time in the year.
Find a friend, a family member, or even a community group who share the same goals or enjoy the same experiences as me. It’s more fun and better yet if this person can also push me to reach further.
Be at peace to the fact that I am no longer in my twenties and it just takes twice the time to heal those muscle soreness.
The world is a big place, there are still many things to experience and many more adventures to explore. What are you waiting for?
Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us. ~ Hal Borland
Time flies so quickly and leaves us with another year of exciting experiences and fond memories. After a trying 2017, 2018 was bound to be better and it didn’t disappoint. We had a lot of firsts and celebration last year. I learned to climb in the gym and on real rocks in the outdoors with my son. My husband and I became empty nesters. I checked off almost all items on my to-do list from last year except for the daunting Spartan race. It will require a very rigorous training schedule and I’m still trying to figure out my own strength mentally and physically. However, it’s not completely off the table yet.
I went on quite a few amazing hikes and summit a few mountains. When I was younger, I never pictured myself to be this active at my age and into hiking and climbing. I love the quietness and the serenity of nature and especially enjoy being high up on a mountain.
I am fired up to start this year on the right foot. We began the celebration with a hike up a mountain with our family and friends on New Year’s Eve to welcome 2019. We started this last year and plan on continuing this tradition.
So what’s in store for us this year? Time to set some goals and challenges to keep the fire going. Here’s a shortlist of items that we hope to accomplish.
We want to stay active and will embark on a 26-hikes year. I’m thinking of starting a spreadsheet and tally the miles and elevations with all the hikes. You can follow our journey on Instagram or my Facebook page (links on the bottom of the page).
Continue to improve on my climbing. My goal is to be able to set up top ropes to climb outdoors with my son and to introduce climbing to our friends.
Learn about backpacking and do at least one backpacking trip this year.
Keeping an active lifestyle is not easy regardless of age. It is especially frustrating for me with arthritis setting in and dealing with the constant aches and pain. However, I am determined to beat this and continue to march on. If you are embarking on the same journey, I have a few tips to offer.
Find friends or family members who have the same interests to join your quests. Make sure to motivate and push each other in the right direction.
Keep a healthy diet and lifestyle. We are what we eat and keeping a clean diet will go a long way.
Take time to rest and recharge.
Most of all, spend time together, go outside and enjoy what nature has to offer.
Sometimes you have to disconnect to stay connected. ~Regina Brett
At this day and age, our daily lives consist of everything electronics and online. Computers, laptops, smartphones, video games, social media connections etc. With all the sensory overloads, there comes a time when enough is enough. We must leave time to unplug, disconnect and head to the mountains, both metaphorically and literally speaking. Last week, we joined some good friends and headed out to Ross Lake Resort in the recreation area of the North Cascades National Park. This place totally fits the bill for ‘unplugging’ because it is remote where there is no direct road access, no internet, cell service, or television. One can opt to hike in or ride the ferry-boat. A few from our group decided to hike in and the rest of us took all the supplies such as food, happy hour drinks (no food or drinks provided at the resort) and went with the boat ride. We started with an almost three-hour car ride from the Seattle area to the ferry-boat ride near the Diablo Lake trailhead. The ferry only runs twice a day so be punctual and don’t miss it. The ferry ride took us up Diablo Lake and lasted maybe about 20 minutes and we arrived at a landing waiting for an open-air flatbed truck to take us up Ross Lake. It was an experience of its own riding on the truck up and down a winding road. After another 15 to 20 minutes we were finally at the landing on Ross Lake across from the resort. A water taxi/speedboat from the resort transported us across the lake in less than a minute, or at least it seemed that way. It took us about 5 hours in total to get there.
The ferry that took us in the first leg.
Everyone pitched in loading the flatbed truck
Waiting to go across, our home for the next few days
The weather was perfect all those days with blue sky, blue lake, the trees, the mountains with a dusting of recent snow and the beautiful floating cabins.
Who could resist views like this everyday
Rental boats at the resort
I like to pretend that’s my waterfront property
Needless to say without the interference from our electronics, we spent our days talking, laughing and just relax on the deck in front of our cabin. There is a plethora of awesome activities available at the resort and surrounding. There are boats, kayaks, canoes, paddle boards for rent at the resort, fishing and an abundance of hiking trails in the area. It was a change of pace from the busy city life to days of no schedules. We watched sunrise, sunset, moonrise, moon set everyday. We ate all our meals on the deck with one of the most beautiful backdrops.
A short hiking trail to Green Point
The color of fall in the air
Love this place!
We came home totally happy and recharged. We can’t wait to go back or even find another secluded place like this to get away. I know that time generally slips by us when we are so engrossed in work, family or just the day-to-day living. However, taking the time to unplug even just for a few hours or a day a week will reap more benefits than you could imagine. I hope you find some inspiration and challenge yourself to start this and make it a ritual.
“Unless we take that first step into the unknown, we will never know our own potential!” ― Allan Rufus, The Master’s Sacred Knowledge
Since the beginning of 2018, I have been more active physically and pushing myself to try new things that I have always wanted to do but had managed to find all the reasons in the world to not do. Growing up I was not particularly athletic and I always wished that I could do this and that but never acted upon those wishes. Something inside me changed in the last few months and motivated me to feed that fire. I think as I am getting older, I view life a little differently than before. I learn to put myself first and although it may sound selfish, it is a crucial act that ensures my longevity and happiness.
I have a bucket list in my head for many years. However this past weekend I learned more about managing to-do list and priorities. So my mind was spinning and to me, a to-do list sounds far more exciting and reachable than a bucket list. I found the definitions of to-do list and bucket list and my interpretation is that a bucket list is a wish but a to-do list is something you must tackle and complete.
Definition of to-do list – a list of tasks that need to be completed, typically organized in order of priority. Definition of bucket list – a number of experiences or achievements that a person hopes to have or accomplish during their lifetime.
This realization creates a new sense of excitement and motivation for me. The ‘beast’ in me came out of the shell and penned this exhilarating to-do list. My hope is in time I will be able to cross them off.
Travel and see the world but especially to the world of my ancestors. I have not been very keen on traveling to China until recently. I have been watching a lot of Chinese television shows on YouTube to be more familiar with their culture and their daily lives to prepare myself for our first trip very soon. I want to explore all of China in the years to come. It is a vast country and it will definitely take us quite a few trips to complete the journey.
Be more active and try different types of activities. I am fortunate to have good friends (you know who you all are) who love the outdoors and push me into many new adventures.
Start to run – with the longer days coming our way this is the perfect time to start running outdoors. Our first goal is a family 10K run in August. 10K won’t be a lot to most people but it is going to be a never-ending run for me.
Start to bike – I had never learned to ride a bicycle when I was young. As a beginner, I did a 14-mile journey on my bike and survived with only some minor scratches. Of course, having a winery as the destination is a huge incentive.
Chateau Ste Michelle Winery
My friend started talking about STP 2019 (Seattle to Portland ride) on our way home and it sounds just a tad scary to me. My goal right now is to overcome the fear of riding a bike and especially sharing the road with cars. However, I won’t rule out that possibility when the time is right.
Start to climb – I love climbing. Since I started rock climbing in an indoor gym in January, I have been thinking of climbing outside. It may take a little while to learn the ropes but I believe one day I will reach that goal.
Found a climbing wall
Improve hiking endurance – the goal is to reach Mailbox Peak this year, a favorite among local hikers. If you can hike Mailbox, you are golden.
Ultimate goal – Spartan Race 2019? We will start this process by cheering on our friends this April and a preview tour in September. If my body can handle it, I will do it.
There are a lot of unknowns on this journey but my new motto is “I can and I will” and who knows where this list will bring me in the next few years. Even if I don’t cross off everything on the list, I think by making this list, enjoying and exploring the possibilities out there is just as good as reaching the goals.
All those hours exploring the great outdoors made me more resilient and confident. ~ David Suzuki
After a couple of weeks of rainy and gloomy days, we finally saw the sun this weekend. It was a little warmer than usual, at least for me a two to three layers of clothing day is a warm day in winter. We decided to head out and soak up some much-needed Vitamin D from the sun, a key factor to boost our immune system and fight off winter blues. One of my New Year’s resolutions is to explore more around the areas that we live in for so many years. Discovery Park fits the bill with trees, birds, scenic views and best of all, beaches and lighthouse.
Discovery Park is the largest city park in Seattle on the Magnolia Bluff, with a great view of the Puget Sound, the Cascade and the Olympic Mountain ranges. It has a 2.8 mile loop trail and that connects to a few other trails. We followed the loop trail from the visitor center and was greeted with some amazing views.
The open field on the trail
Overlooking Puget Sound from the bluff
I love those bare trees
It was still foggy in the morning so we could barely see Mount Rainier in the distance. What I love in the winter is looking at the bare trees with their branches extending into the sky, and I definitely saw plenty of that there. About half way into the loop trail, we hiked another half mile all the way down from the bluff to the South Beach where the West Point Lighthouse is situated. Although old, I can still feel the presence of the lighthouse, picturing all those years ago, shining its light and guiding those who were passing through.
West Point Lighthouse
The living quarters at the West Point Lighthouse
Another view of the grounds at the West Point Lighthouse
The word “landmark” is from the old English “landmearc”, meaning ‘an object in the landscape which, by its conspicuousness, serves as a guide in the direction of one’s course. ~ Robert Macfarlane, Landmarks
It was the first time I visited a beach in the winter and the morning sun created the perfect warmth for the day. There were families picnicking by the beach, little kids playing in the sand and looking for shells and sea glass, and quite a few photographers trying to capture the beauty of our city.
A family picnicking
South Beach – walking towards the West Point Lighthouse
The North Beach
After wandering for some time on the beach, we now had to make our way back up. We went up a lot of muddy stairs to join the loop again and completed our visit. This is definitely a must see place in my book if you are visiting Seattle.
I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re doing something. ~Neil Gaiman
Unlike the past holiday seasons, we teamed up with friends and decided to embark on a different version of celebration for this season besides the usual social gatherings. We started with snowshoeing at Gold Creek Pond Trail.
Spotted a snowman on a snowshoeing trip
The day we went was raining and not the best snow condition for snowshoeing but it was still a great outing to inaugurate our winter outdoor activities. Growing up in another part of the world accustomed to tropical climate, I don’t like cold weather and winter is usually the season that I tend to ‘hibernate’. But no more hibernating. In order to enjoy myself outdoor in the winter, I invested in quality clothing and gears that keeps me warm, dry and comfortable. I am able to shop and get healthy at the same time. A definite win-win in my book.
On Christmas Eve, we hiked the Chirico Trail to Poo Poo Point. This is a short trail but because of the elevation gain of 1700 ft in less than 2 miles, it is classified by my friends as their favorite outdoor cardio gym. One definitely needs a pair of strong legs to get oneself moving up those oversize stairs formed by rocks. That was the third time I hiked this trail and I was still struggling. Your reward though for working out those muscles is an amazing view of Mount Rainier in the foreground before reaching Poo Poo Point. The Point offers a great view of all the surrounding cities and a place to watch the paragliders launching.
The perfect place to rest and reflect
Mount Rainier at the foreground
View from Poo Poo Point
A week later on New Year’s Eve, we embarked on a quest to find a true winter wonderland. The result? Waking up at 5:30 am, reaching the parking area for Franklin Falls before 8 am and started our journey. This is not a difficult hike and it is usually just 2 miles roundtrip from the trail head to the Falls. However the road to the trail head is closed due to the icy condition so this time around it is a 7.5 miles roundtrip hike. This trail is truly a winter wonderland with some cabins in the woods, snow-covered grounds and trees, a creek and the grand finale being the half-frozen Franklin Falls. This is on my list of possibility to come back when the Falls is completely frozen.
Adding to the excitement of welcoming 2018 and doing something new, we decided to take on a new challenge. We hiked up to Poo Poo Point again around 10 pm new year’s eve after a few hours of resting from Franklin Falls. We rang in the new year at the top of the Point with a million dollar view. City lights and fireworks twinkling simultaneously above the clouds. Two hikes in one day which is a first and overall we raked up about 12 miles of hiking, another first for me to reach double digits in a day. We finished 2017 and started 2018 on a high note. This is going to be a great year.
New Year celebration at Poo Poo Point
Some personal tips for a successful winter outing:
By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest. ~ Confucius
It’s another cold winter day, the best time to sit in a warm corner of the house and reflect upon the year before the chaos of the holidays. When I started this blog a little more than a year ago, I had every intention of keeping it alive and filling it with vibrant contents at least twice a month if not every week. I did not know what to expect but the encouragement from family, friends and fellow bloggers were so riveting that I wanted to keep going. It is a place where I can share my joy, sorrow and experiences with the world and keep my mind inspired and motivated. After a brief break from all that had happened this year, I will restart my sharing and hopefully continue on for many years to come. 2017 is definitely a roller coaster year for me professionally and personally. It is also a year that I recognize what I/we can achieve with perseverance.
We were challenged by adversity at work in the beginning of the year and took us almost the whole year to recover. No matter how difficult the situation was, our team did not throw in the towel but persisted and grew stronger. Along the way I learned new skills and made new allies to strengthen our business. This experience also changed the course of my professional responsibility into a different direction. I don’t know yet what the future will hold for this new direction but I will take every opportunity there is to learn and enjoy the ride.
Visited the Oklahoma City National Memorial during a business trip.
In spite of discouragement and adversity, those who are happiest seem to have a way of learning from difficult times, becoming stronger, wiser and happier as a result. ~ Joseph B. Wirthlin
My husband’s heart attack at the end of the summer was another situation that brought our spirits down. However swift it came, it left just as swiftly. Although it was only a few months ago, it felt a lifetime away. We carry on with our lives as normal as we can and make small changes each day to deter its presence. We started to hike again and decided to explore some of our neighborhood trails. The next step is to rekindle an old habit of meal planning and strict diet.
Exploring a neighborhood trail on a cold morning.
In spite of all these, there were still some happy and fun times. The short family reunion in Vancouver, B.C., the clamming and camping weekends, the relaxing road trip to Banff National Park and snowshoeing all define how we can still give the good fight and enjoy life at the same time. I always believe that things happen for a reason. It’s all about making the right choices. It is ultimately up to yourself to choose whether to move on from it or dwell into the abyss. You might say that it is easier said than done but remember that practice makes perfect. Life is too short to think about the what ifs, always take time to reflect on what is happening and learn from those lessons.
You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them. ~ Maya Angelou