Moving is an emotional workout too

The first time I viewed the apartment back in November 2012. I moved in January 2013.

The last time I looked at the apartment on 20 September 2018.

You grow accustomed to things. I remember really disliking the location of this unit because everyone who walked into the apartment block can look into the laundry and kitchen area. But once I put up the bamboo blind, it wasn’t that bad anymore. I only fully appreciated all the closet space when I saw that my new place has less than half the closet space. At the same time, maybe it’s good to not have so much space so that I won’t indiscriminately accumulate a lot of junk. The old place was also really quiet and I did not share any walls with any neighbours.

The move really zapped all my physical and mental energy in September. I only managed to squeeze out 4 workouts.

September 2018 Fitness Tracker
~ 5 Sep 9:37pm 35:00 FBStrong D15 Total body strength — At least squeezed one in to start the month
~ 23 Sep 6:35pm 27:00 FB Build a better booty workout — First workout in new home, the floor is noisier, the lights are brighter, without any beds this room feels like a dedicated workout gym.
~ 26 Sep 5:05pm 31:00 FB 3 Day Flexibility Challenge Day 1 — Need a nap
~ 30 Sep 6:15pm 35:00 FB Upper body + Abs workout

Isn’t it ironic?!!

The ventilation hose for my dryer broke over 2 years ago. The original ventilation hose is over 2 meter long, when it broke it was only less than 1 meter long. Since my dryer was located in the laundry area, which is kind of outside the apartment, I didn’t bother changing it. However, when I realised I was going to move I knew I had to get a new ventilation hose or else I would not be able to use the dryer at my new place where the dryer will be placed inside the apartment. I went to a few hardware stores and checked out on the internet but couldn’t find one.

Once I moved to the new place, the urgency to get the ventilation hose increased. I contacted the manufacturer online but no reply after waiting 48 hours, so I ended up calling their customer care center and they have the ventilation hose at their retail office. It would cost $55. That office wasn’t near my place and I had to make plans to squeeze time out of my busy schedule to go there.

I scheduled a quick side trip while on my way to a school meeting to get the ventilation hose. But I left work slightly late and ended up would not even make it to the meeting on time without the side trip, but I was kinda desperate so continued on to the retail office to get the ventilation hose but sent a message to tell the others that I would be 20 minutes late. Finally, I got my hands on the ventilation hose and I was so happy I can finally wash and dry my laundry. That night, I figured out how to fix the hose to the dryer and carefully arranged the hose to vent out the window. I did my first load of laundry drying in over a week.

The next morning, I did another load. When the load was almost dry, the apartment experienced a power trip and I detected a burnt smell. I had to call campus security for campus maintenance number. Waited for the electrician to un-trip the power to the apartment (needed to save the Haagen Dazs ice-cream in the freezer). According to the electrician, the power socket is ok but something broke in my dryer. Now I have to call a repair person to come check out the dryer. As if I do not have enough things on my to-do list already!

I was just thinking – Isn’t it Ironic?!! I spent so much time fussing over the dryer ventilation hose. Yesterday, I thought my dryer issue is all over and I can get on with my normal laundry routine. Then this morning, it was like I dropped down a snake in a snake-and-ladder game and fell even further behind. Now I have a broken dryer and a $55 nice shiny flexible aluminium almost brand new “useless” ventilation hose.

Moving is a strength and endurance workout

Just packed and sealed 8 boxes of books. Quite a workout — hulling, pulling and pushing the boxes of books around. This is just the first hill of the moving marathon.

Here is August 2018 Fitness Tracker:
~ 1 Aug 9:57pm 38:00 *249cal Ave119 Max155 FB30R3 D11 Upper body burnout — First workout to start a busy month
~ 5 Aug 5:30pm 40:00 FBStrong Day 1 lower body — Trying a mostly strength training program, and not using the heart rate monitor. The lunges kept my heart pumping.
~ 6 Aug 8:15pm 41:00 FBStrong D2 upper body burnout — cheated a little, skipped burnout round of pullover and hammer curl.
~ 8 Aug 6:17pm 34:00 FBStrong D3 Core
~ 11 Aug 5:52pm 41:00 FBStrong D4 lower body — right knee iffy
~ 12 Aug 4:42pm 40:00 FBStrong D5 functional upper body workout — good one
~ 14 Aug 9:18pm 35:00 FBStrong D6 Relaxing stretching workout 🙂
~ 15 Aug 8:47pm 45:00 FBStrong D8 HIIT cardio butt and thigh — stressful day 🙁
~ 18 Aug 6:10pm 40:00 FBStrong D9 Upper body workout bored easily
~ 19 Aug 6:20pm 30:00 FBStrong D10 HIIT + Abs — I think my abs are a tat stronger, not shaking as much during planks
~ 20 Aug 10:30pm 31:00 FB fluid full body stretch — I should always schedule a stretching session after every evening class.
~ 22 Aug 9:15pm 31:00 FBStrong D11 Strong lean toned arms
~ 26 Aug 8:40pm 27:00 FB Stretching pilates yoga blend — good stretch after a 6-hr bus ride
~ 27 Aug 11:59pm 15:00 FB Restorative yoga pilates workout — video hung in the middle, so did some freestyling stretches instead
~ 31 Aug 6:18pm 41:00 FBStrong D12 Lower body workout — last one for August
Not too bad considering the hecticness of a new semester teaching 3 courses a week.

My slog in the swamp of despair

Back in January of this year, I wrote about my long trek in the valley of despondence to get a literature review published. This time, it’s my slog in the swamp of despair to get my student’s dissertation published. It took 3 years to get this paper accepted for publication. Not sure when it’ll be published.

March 2014: Student completed dissertation
August 2014: Student graduated with her master degree
April 2015: Student presented her research in an oral presentation at CEC 2015 San Diego

September 2015: Student submitted manuscript to Behavioral Disorders
November 2015: Decision – rejected

June 2016: Took over task of revision from student, and made major revision with third author.
October 2016: Submitted to Education and Treatment of Children
March 2017: Checked status with editor-in-chief and was informed that the editor in charge is not well, thus the delay
April 2017: Decision – rejected

August 2017: Submitted to Australasian Journal of Special Education
October 2017: Decision – revise and resubmit
January 2018: Revised and resubmitted
March 2018: Decision – revise and resubmit (Round 2)
May 2018: Revised and resubmitted (Round 2)
6 August 2018: Checked status with editor-in-chief and was informed that one reviewer has not gotten back with his/her feedback
8 August 2018: Decision – accepted for publication in the Australasian Journal of Inclusive and Special Education

Moving

According to random websites, the top 5 most stressful events are (a) death of a loved one, (b) divorce, (c) moving, (d) major illness, and (e) job loss.

I’m reflecting on all the major “moves” in my life.

December 1983
I do not remember this move from KL to Penang. I do however remember the first days of school in Penang — how lost and lonely I felt. Back in KL, the teachers spoke in BM more, and the school in Penang, most of the teachers spoke in English.

December 1992
Moved from grandparents’ place to new flat in Farlim. I have some memories of this move. It’s nice to finally have a bedroom of my own. I remember the friends from church coming by to help out.

July 1995
Moved to university dorm to start undergraduate studies. I remember my parents, uncle and aunt, all helping out with this move. It was a proud moment for the family to have a young family member attend university. I moved in with 2 buckets (for laundry) and some clothing, shoes, etc. I also remember feeling very lost and lonely when my parents left.

June 1996
Moved from university dorm to share a room with two sisters in the housing estate near the university.

June 1997
Moved from this house to an uncle’s (dad’s cousin) place in another housing estate near the university.

June 1998
Moved to an aunt’s (mom’s brother’s wife’s sister) place in another housing estate near the university. This house was the richest and fanciest house in that housing estate.

November 1999
Moved back to Penang after completing undergraduate degree. I remember discarding all my university notes and photocopied textbooks.

June 2000
Moved back to KL to stay with big brother and cousin. Started work at a center for students with autism and then started master degree.

March 2003
Moved back to Penang after finishing master degree and quitting job as a teacher in a center for children with down syndrome. By then I had applied to do PhD in the US and waiting for the results.

August 2003
Moved to the US to start PhD studies. I remember the 3 luggage bags that went with me. One extra large, one medium, and a small rolling carry-on. This was a stressful move because I was leaving family and going into the unknown. I remember the farewell meal that mom cooked, and she had made watercress soup but I could hardly stomach the soup while trying very hard not to cry during the meal.

August 2005
Moved from private rental apartment to university’s graduate student housing. My friends from Ghana and Cameroon helped me with the move. After 2 years, I’ve already gathered a lot more stuff than 3 bags full.

November 2009
Moved from graduate student apartment to share apartment with Marcelita. Roommate from South Korea graduated and I couldn’t afford to pay the full rental for the 2-bedroom apartment. This time it was Clare and Mike that helped me move. I even had a twin bed, a desk, a drawer unit and an Ikea Poang chair to move.

August 2010

Drove with Natalie from PA to TX with all my earthly belonging in the Pontiac Vibe. I had to sell and donate a lot of stuff. Only the Ikea Poang chair went to TX. I shipped two boxes of books via USPS.

November 2011

Moved from TX to SG to start new job. This has got to be my toughest move, both logistically and emotionally, so far. Even with the new university paying for the move, I still had to give away a lot of my stuff. But it was nice to have full service move where the moving company packed all my stuff. However, when I finally flew to SG, I still had 3 large bags and had to pay extra for the third bag. There was also a lot of goodbyes to make, both in TX and PA.

January 2013

Moved from off-campus staff housing to on-campus staff housing. Still not so much stuff yet in SG, except for my treadmill. Moving that through every single doorway gave the moving company workers a nightmare.

September 2018 (Upcoming move)

I’m now packing for my next move to another place on campus. Definitely the most stuff so far. This time I will be discarding the treadmill and the dangerously heavy glass cabinets.

How many moves have you made in your lifetime?

July 2018 Fitness Tracker: Barely moving

Not so hardworking in July. I’m trying out a mostly strength training program in August, see how that will work out.

~ 1 July 6:07pm 38:00 *250cal Ave119 Max152 FBS D9 Cardio + Core
~ 2 July 7:43pm 35:00 *256cal Ave126 Max157 FB Upper body alternating supersets — definitely achy arms tomorrow
~ 9 July 7:45pm 30:00 FB Stretching Pilates Yoga workout — lazy girl workout
~ 17 July 6:39pm 50:00 *380cal Ave129 Max156 FB30R3 D1 — back from eat sleep vacation in Penang, all weights felt super heavy
~ 19 July 6:44pm 32:01 *254cal Ave132 Max155 FB30R3 D2 cardio interval — hamstrings still tight from last workout
~ 20 July 9:41pm 38:00 *287cal Ave129 Max159 FB30R3 D3 HIIT + Strength
~ 21 July 4:46pm 39:01 *215cal Ave110 Max143 FB30R3 D4 Upper body strength
~ 22 July 4:23pm 36:00 *281cal Ave131 Max151 FB30R3 D5 Lower body strength + HIIT — below 300cal seems so low but I got it done instead of skipping if it’s a longer workout
~ 23 July 10:10pm 26:00 No HRM FB30R3 D6 Static stretches — I didn’t cheat, stretches was scheduled as a recovery workout 🙂
~ 25 July 9:24pm 47:00 *361cal Ave130 Max152 FB30R3 D8 Strength supersets — This one is difficult.

Cherish your mobility

I remember back in 2009 when I was training for the NYC Marathon, I would feel so self-conscious when I did my slow penguin wobble run around the cross-country track. The young student athletes and other not so young runners would overtake me easily. Then my left knee developed illiotibial band syndrome (ITBS). It was so painful and I couldn’t run. But in order to continue my marathon training, I walked — sometimes for hours. That was when I realised that my slow running was good, no, it was great!

I shouldn’t have felt bad or judged myself critically. My mobility is a gift from God. Every movement involves multiple muscles, joints, synovial fluid, nerves, blood and sweat. So many things can go wrong, and for some people things do go wrong. And for most people, eventually many things will slowly deteriorate. But while things are still ok, I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. I need to cherish my mobility and be happy for every breathless breath.

June 2018 Fitness Tracker
~ 3 June 4:21pm 17:00 *83cal Ave104 Max126 — Started on an upper body workout and nose started running, decided to stop
~ 10 June 6:08pm 41:00 *288cal Ave 124 Max153 FBSweat Day1 lower body strength + HIIT — feel so lazy!
~ 19 June 5:55pm 37:00 *251cal Ave121 Max152 FBS D2 Upper body & cardio — when I miss so many days, every time I come back I feel so out of shape
~ 20 June 6:33pm 36:01 *240cal Ave120 Max151 FBS D3 HIIT + core — out of breath mostly
~ 21 June 9:27pm 41:01 *204cal Ave104 Max132 FBS D4 Upper body strength
~ 24 June 6:21pm 43:00 *343cal Ave132 Max160 FBS D5 HIIT + Strength — iffy right knee, maybe I should go see a physio
~ 26 June 8:57pm 44:00 *326cal Ave127 Max153 FBS D7 Total body strength
~ 29 June 6:37pm 38:00 *314cal Ave135 Max157 FBS D10 Insane HIIT challenge — Breathless

Budgies update

I always take a photo of the birdcage before I leave the house for an extended trip. The photo reassures me that the birdcage is closed, the water bottle is full, the lights are off (so birds can sleep at night), and the curtains are opened (for as much daylight as possible). I also leave the house feeling some level of guilt leaving the birds on their own for a few days. Sometimes I add a few chew toys to keep them busy. So far the birds have been ok.

I used to get a petsitter to come by, feed and check on them, but it has not always been easy to hire a sitter. So for the last 2 years I’ve asked my colleagues to drop by. My main worry is that the birds do not know how to dig deep into their food cup, bypass all the husks at the top to get to the seeds at the bottom. I’m kind of the problem when I would sift and scoop away all the husks daily so that the birds won’t have to do much work. However I’ve come back from trips to find the food cups with a lot of husks, meaning when the birds are hungry they will dig deep to find the seeds.

One way to solve this problem of spoilt-birds-don’t-know-how-to-dig-for-seeds is to convert the birds to a pellet diet. With pellets, they will not run out of food, and since there are no husks, a tablespoon of pellets is really much more food compared to a tablespoon of seeds. Pellets are also more nutritious.

I recently bought a bag of Roudybush Daily Maintenance pellets (mini size). I wanted the smaller pellets, either crumbles or nibbles, unfortunately I couldn’t find those anywhere. I couldn’t even buy from amazon because they won’t ship that to here. So I gave the mini pellets several whirls in the blender to break them up a bit.

I’ve managed to “force” the budgies to eat the pellets. I leave pellets in their food cups for the whole day. They only get some seeds in the evening during dinner time. They really love the bird seeds. On the first few days of this transition they hardly ate any pellets during the day. When I put in the food cups with the seeds in the evening, they get super excited. One time Maxx was so excited and hungry, he lost his balance standing on the edge of the food cup and fell inside the cup of seeds! He’s too adorable.

I can see that both Maxx and Marshall would eat the pellets now but if they had a choice, they would eat only seeds all the time.

I got Maxx on 19 June 2013 and Marshall on 19 June 2016. Happy belated birthday, my budgie babies!

May 2018 Fitness Tracker

Not too bad considering I started working out mid-May.

~ 15 May 9:22pm 47:00 *230cal Ave104 Max126 FB Upper body + Abs compound exercise — After a 30 day break
~ 17 May 6:27pm 53:00 *408cal Ave130 Max157 FBFit2 Day15 HIIT + Strength — this is a tough one!
~ 20 May 6:04pm 43:00 *273 Ave117 Max148 FBFit2 Day16 Fat burning cardio workout — wore new shoes Nike Air Zoom Dynamic TR
~ 22 May 9:14pm 50:00 *302cal Ave114 Max140 FBFit2 Day17 Strength (skipped the 15min HIIT) — feels good to tire out the muscles.
~ 24 May 6:50pm 39:00 *338cal Ave139 Max162 FBFit2 Day18 Fat burning cardio — considering I had KFC for late lunch I should do another 30 mins of jumping jacks
~ 25 May 9:39pm 40:00 *274cal Ave122 Max153 FB Best butt workout — Supposed to be 1000 calorie workout in the schedule but fitness level not up to it.
~ 26 May 5:30pm 47:00 *209cal Ave99 Max121 FB Upper body strength workout — Got to be careful not to drop dumbbells on my face/head
~ 28 May 5:44pm 1:01:00 *393cal Ave118 Max153 FBFit2 Day 22 Lower body strength — chest and tricep muscles still sore from the last upper body strength workout.
~ 29 May 5:42pm 51:00 *260cal Ave106 Max147 FBFit2 Day23 Upper body strength + 7-min extra credit bodyweight cardio
~ 31 May 9:25pm 45:00 *280cal Ave116 Max143 FB Lower body strength + endurance

What now?

In the courses that I teach I often have consultation sessions with my students to give them feedback or allow them the opportunity to ask questions. Most of the time the 15-20 minute sessions are pretty straightforward but occasionally a session may end up being a counselling session — actually more of a listening session because I don’t have any advice or solution to offer the student.

One month ago, I spoke with three persons, all ambitious wanting to be in positions of influence that allow them the platform to make a difference in the field, but somehow find themselves stuck.

Jason
He is pursuing a master degree but he feels that this qualification alone is not enough of a stepping stone to garner enough respect and recognition to achieve his dream. But due to family and circumstances, pursuing a PhD is not a realistic option. But he believes that with a PhD, his message will be heard, and the population of people that he’s advocating for will get the support that they need. But the sacrifices that he and his family will have to make in order for him to pursue a PhD are too great. There are certain hurdles to pursue a local PhD – lack of research experience, the length and instability of a part-time PhD. But the cost of an oversea PhD is prohibitive.

Jonathan
He feels that he’s currently not in a position where he can have an influence in the school. He hopes a master degree will add weight to his voice but realizes that it may not make a marked difference because the din of tradition and preference for the familiar in the organisation drowns out the voices calling out for meaningful change. He doesn’t know whether in 10 years he’ll be in that position. He feels stuck but going to another organisation may not be a real way out. He thinks that maybe if he can get a position at the teacher training institute, he may have an impact as a teacher trainer. I joked that he’s talking about my job but I often don’t feel like an agent of change at all.

Joni
She is stuck in a position where she does not feel that she’s valued by her organization. Her annual appraisal makes her feel like she’s a mediocre worker in her organisation even though she puts in a lot of effort to keep the giant organisational mechanism running smoothly. But her own career progression are neglected because there’s not enough hours in the work day. She has given up trying to meet the unrealistic expectations that have been placed on her. She contemplates leaving, but lacks courage.

When I hear stories like these, I think back about the time when I first thought of applying to do a PhD in the US, and went on to pursue that and finally achieved that dream. Where did all my chutzpah come from? So bold and courageous. But I sense that this boldness and courage are slowly fading away…