Life update. Spoiler alert: Plot twist ahead.

So, a new lifestyle will soon begin.

A life update is a must. Although I know I don’t owe anyone a story, a ramble or even a tweet, I haven’t been in touch with a lot of people in awhile so this is a good way to connect.

I graduated almost a year ago and felt terrified. I booked a cliché “trip in your 20s” to Europe, but only for three weeks. My contract with my municipality job ends at the end of May. Yes, life happened in that order.

I was a little scared of graduating from school because that was a string that tied me to my youth. I know I’m still young, blah blah blah, but life is different when you’re done with your university days and now have to pay “adult” tickets. Screw you student card that expired in November 2013!

Next, I booked a trip that I’ve been preparing for, for almost two years. I’ve read about it everywhere and it seems like a lot of fun. And so I did. I booked my trip to Europe for my 24th year of life, in the summer. I’m flying to London (no, not alone…) but don’t know where it goes from there. I hope no one judges me, but this makes me really happy and excited. (Even if you judge me, that’s technically none of my business.)

Also, my contract for a certain municipality, working in a department that’s in line with my profession, is coming to an end. It was supposed to be a three-month gig that started in October 2012 and boy, am I lucky that I convinced them to keep me for this long! Maybe the hilarious puns and Tim Horton runs worked! I love my job in corporate communications, working with the people I look up to and enjoy being with. I love my job and what it does for the community. I love my profession in communications and how it gives me hope that it will always be a job meant for humans, in spite of self-check-outs and online generators. Sigh…will everyone now stop randomly talking to me in hopes that I’d get them a City job?! Lol…just kidding… :$

Now what’s in store for me?! I have no clue. I have never been in a situation where I’d (soon) be in between jobs, out of school and on my way to a trip of a lifetime! Exciting—it sure is. But I am friggin’ scared of uncertainty. But I hope I make something happen. Suggestions are welcome. Be kind. Adulthood is not too bad, right?! (Please nod.)

Ohm into yoga

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JK Naturals

I would love to be able to do the Dancer’s Pose with no difficulty!
Photo from JK Naturals Blog

It’s like when Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone first came out. I tried it, but didn’t get the hype. Years later, I am still spewing jokes and spells from the Wizarding World as if I was a member of Dumbledore’s Army.

Yoga.

I’ve tried it last year at Steve Nash Fitness Club, but felt more stressed not relaxed after my first class. I need to put my legs where for how long?! I was more tensed, comparing my (in)ability to hold a pose against the surrounding yogis who were so focused on their practice that I probably did not exist to them. Then, I attended another class led by an instructor who asked us to do the cat pose and made us hiss and meow. Riiight. I was holding myself from cackling like a hyena.

Recently (aka in January 2014), I got more into yoga! It was definitely a new year’s resolution that I didn’t ask for. I was doing yoga at work with a few other colleagues during our lunch time, helping out our fellow colleague who is on her way to becoming an instructor. I signed up thinking that I should give yoga another chance and I really enjoyed it at work! Sure, why not go for more?!

Then, I tried it again at the Cambie Community Centre with a yoga teacher who barked at me for mirroring her as she demonstrated the next pose. Don’t copy me, just watch! Okay, I will not return to this one.

So far, I’ve also tried hot yoga at Chopra Yoga (click for review) and hatha at Perfect Hearts in Steveston. Hot (hatha) yoga has been enjoyable as I like the fact that it can count on it as a fat burning workout given that your face and other parts of your body (ew) are raining sweat on your mat, hallelujah! I also enjoy yin yoga (ooh, it’s like an eight-hour sleep!) and lots of hatha. Well, that’s all I’ve tried up to this date.

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Passport to Prana…hope it is useful!

What I like about yoga so far is that it really clears your mind, if you think about doing that (ha, what?!). You really must be in the moment as you go through your practice to get the most of your experience. You need to breathe properly (in and through your nose unless otherwise instructed), which can help you with being mindful and in tune with your body. This is necessary especially since we’re always so busy! In addition to being mindful, I also like how yoga can help you become more flexible, leaner, stronger and live a healthier lifestyle by eating better, being kinder and breathing good karma into your life.

My goal is to be able to perform each pose without any difficulty. Such as the dancer’s pose, perhaps? I do not intend to become an instructor, but by next year, I wish to become an avid yoga practitioner. My dream is to go on a one-week trip to Bali to celebrate my 25th birthday–by myself–and practice yoga there.

To reach my goal, I have vowed to try different yoga studios every week or at least practice yoga at least twice a week.I like how Steve Nash Fitness Clubs have yoga classes! To complement my gym membership, I discovered a pretty cool card (thanks again to that lovely colleague) called Passport to Prana,  which allows you to try one yoga class from over 30 studios in B.C. (and other cities that you are subscribed to). Too bad there’s only Bikram in Richmond though. The card is worth $30 and is good for the rest of the year. I hope to chronicle my yoga journey in this blog (but I have yet to use the card).

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Retail therapy helps! I have added a couple more to this collection.

Also, I made a commitment by buying the proper yoga gear such as a yoga mat (1/4″), yoga towel, yoga bag and of course, yoga pants and tops. Retail therapy is always motivating, ain’t it?!

No pressure though. I am able to forgive myself for the poses that I have yet to become available to me. And I also like that I am reminded to be good to myself. Yay! I hope this works out :). Namaste.

Any tips for beginners? Any class suggestions? Any studios to try out? Comment below or email justinne.rz[at]gmail.com.

Today is day one.

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ImageToday is day one of two thousand fourteen. With the strike of midnight, we all find new hope, a fresh start, new opportunities…and sometimes, a new ‘do (or don’t!).

Last year was symbolic for me. A role that I’ve identified myself with for the past 22 years had come to a close, in a formal manner. I’ve obtained a professional communications degree from Royal Roads University…a student I no longer am (besides the fact that “you’ll always be a student of life”).

With that said, this year marks my first year as a “real adult” (whatever that means)! My anxiety over the past months since graduation once again stares me in the eye. What responsibilities lie ahead?! Thankfully, I am sans one stressful item; I have paid off all of my student loans the last few hours before 2013 was no more.

But today is day one.

A day when I can feel a bit hopeful. A day to take charge. A day to redefine myself. But of course, it doesn’t take one day or two to change this. Whatever it is that I decide in 2014 will be a process before it becomes a lifestyle!

Here are some of the things I wish to accomplish or get started.. By identifying them, I feel that I’ve started day one in a way where I will feel committed to myself.

  • Read at least 12 books for the year. This will take over the hours and hours of essay writing and required readings.
  • Work out at least three times per week. All those times I’ve been Pinterest-ing those fitspirations, I could’ve also been one myself. Health is a lifestyle.
  • Eat more healthily. Following the point above, it’s important to change those junky habits. At least I rarely eat fast food nowadays anyway.
  • No more makeup shopping. I have too many of these already!
  • Limit clothes shopping to what’s necessary. By necessary, I mean torn clothes, shoes with holes, etc.
  • Travel as much as possible. At least five new cities. Revisit the old ones too.
  • Get my N. I have a test in March 2014. I need to get this done.
  • Donate blood. It’s in me to give,as they say. This one is from 2013 too.
  • Go to church more often. In 2013, I missed out a lot. I hope this year, my personal faith would be strengthened.
  • Experience more new things. I don’t want to live with regrets! No “what if’s” please.
  • Be more consistent. Either it be by blogging once per month at minimum, tweeting more often and more consistently, etc.
  • Find the strength to start new things. There are a few things I’ve always wanted to try, start, etc. But I hope this year is the year for me to actually get going and see where things take me when I look back next year.

I feel as if time is the most valuable thing I have and I ought not to waste it! That’s why last year’s theme was “You’re only young once” as I felt as if I won’t always have the luxury of doing things at a certain time. Of course you can do whatever at whichever age, but it’s a different experience every time. I want 2014 to be a year full of Fs – fun, fitness, flight, French (maybe I’d learn more of this), fruits, friends, family…whatever the Fs I am missing.

Cheers to a new year! May this year bring you something (or someone) you’ve always hoped for.

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

– Mark Twain

Gifts that give back

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Give gifts that give back this Christmas! Good feelings all around, from giver to receiver PLUS whoever is benefiting from the purchase too.

Here are some things that I found:

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TOMS (Unisex, for all ages) - With every product you purchase, TOMS will help a person in need. One for One.® TOMS sells shoes or eye wear and promises to give a pair to those in need in different countries of the world. This product has become very popular over the past couple of years and the shoes are actually very comfortable too.

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“Adopt” an endangered species (Animal lovers, grandparents, siblings, etc.) - Give a gift that will help protect the future of nature. Your symbolic adoption supports World Wildlife Fund’s global efforts to protect wild animals and their habitats. It only takes $50 to “adopt” and you will receive a plush animal (your choice of animal), adoption certificate, photo, species info card and a gift bag.

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LUSH Charity Pot (girlfriend, friend, teacher, mentor, coworker) – With every purchase of Charity Pot, LUSH donates 100% of the price (minus the taxes) to small, grassroots organizations that could use the helping hand to continue the incredible work that they do.

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Bluenotes Billy Talent T-Shirt (male and female friends, Billy Talent fan, music lovers, baby sitter) – All proceeds from the sale of this ten-dollar t-shirt will go towards the Kids Help Phone.

ImageHosting for Hope Piggy Bank (broke friend, little sister, that person you don’t really know but need to give something to, Secret Santa) - This is from the Hosting For Hope collection and the net proceeds from this gift will help women and children rebuild their lives after abuse by supporting local shelters and violence prevention programs in your community. Find this from your nearest HomeSense or Winners store.

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Ring, “After the rain enters the sun.” (someone you know who was affected by Typhoon Haiyan either directly or indirectly, friends, significant other) - 100% of the proceeds go towards Red Cross for Typhoon Haiyan Relief.

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Design by Humans T-Shirts (friends, parents, siblings) – 100% of the proceeds from these t-shirts designed by different artists will be donated towards the American Red Cross Typhoon Haiyan Relief fund.

OR, you can also give a gift that directly gives back on behalf of someone:

OR, you can buy from this retailer:

If you have other suggestions, please email me at justinne.rz[at]gmail.com. Thanks!

How Canadians can help the Philippines in light of Typhoon Haiyan

There are over 11 million people affected directly by Typhoon Haiyan (about 1/3 of Canada) and the Philippines is in desperate need of aid from around the world to battle the impact of the world’s largest typhoon to hit land.

Many Filipino-Canadians along with other Canadians are looking for ways to help those gravely affected by the recent disaster.

As a Filipino-Canadian myself, I find that it’s my duty to connect Canadians with ways to help those in the Philippines, who are in dire need of our attention and assistance.

The Canadian government has just announced that they will match every dollar that Canadians donate to aid typhoon Haiyan victims via registered Canadian charities between November 9 to December 8, 2013. This is on top of the $5 million the government is already donating.

The Government of BC will also be matching British Columbians’ donations through BC Liquor Stores and directly on Red Cross Canada’s website until December 9, 2013. They will match up to $300,000.

I urge you to share your fortune with others and urge your loved ones to do the same. Your help is always appreciated, so thank you on behalf of the Philippines.

Donate money:

  • Unicef Canada – To send emergency supplies to Filipino children affected by the disaster
  • Canadian Red Cross- To help with emergency supplies
  • Save the Children -To help with disaster relief efforts for children and families affected. 10 per cent of donations will be put aside for the next emergency.
  • Global Medic Canada – To help mobilize the Global Medic team with supplying Aquatabs for clean water for victims
  • World Vision Canada – To provide life saving essentials and emergency supplies to victims
  • Salvation Army Canada – To provide assistance to the thousands of people affected by Typhoon Haiyan
  • The public can also drop off donations at any Sears retail location across Canada starting Nov. 12 or by phone at 1-800-26-SEARS starting Nov. 13. In-store donations of $1-$10 can be made by cash or credit card and a receipt will be provided.
  • FIRST Society (Filipinos in Richmond Support Team) will be accepting cash donations on Saturday, November 16 and Sunday, November 17, 2013 at Real Canadian Superstore on No. 3 Road at Leslie Road in Richmond, BC. Donations will be given to the Canadian Red Cross.
  • Text to donate:
    • Canadian Red Cross: Text REDCROSS to 30333 to donate $5.
    • UN World Food Programme: Text RELIEFNOW to 45678 to donate $10.
    • World Vision Canada: Text WORLD or AID to 45678 to donate $20.

Donate goods and food:

  • Donate non-perishable foods through St. Joseph the Worker’s School in Richmond, BC, by making arrangements with the school at 604-277-1115.
  • LBC Mundial Cargo Corporation will be providing free boxes, shipping and delivery for all goods earmarked for its relief efforts.LBC works closely with the Red Cross and will ensure the donations get to the hardest-hit areas. Requests for cardboard boxes can be made to lbcvan501@gmail.com or butch@lbcusa.net, and they will be dropped off. Boxed goods ready for shipment can be dropped off at LBC’s Richmond office at 105-3840 Jacombs Rd. For more information, call 604-303-0199.

Attend:

Location: Continental Seafood Restaurant, 11700 Cambie Rd., at No. 5 Road.

By the Richmond Chinese Community Society, Filipino Friends in Richmond, Vancouver Diamond Lions Club, Vancouver Metropolitan Lions Club and the Vancouver South Lions Club.

For more information, e-mail info@rccs.ca or call 604-270-7222.

  •  Fundraising Dinner – Richmond, November. 23

Richmond Mandarin Lions Club, in partnership with Richmond RCMP is hosting a fundraising luncheon at Continental Seafood Restaurant. It is also a Typhoon Haiyan disaster relief fund effort.

Volunteer:

  • Join current digital volunteer projects. – If you’re a techie person, here’s a great way to help from the comfort of your bed. They’re looking for all skills: from social media helpers, developers, designers, etc.

Spread the word:

  • Use the tracing form by Philippine Red Cross to help people find missing loved ones.
  • The Canadian government has set up numbers to help Canadians find information on loved ones affected by the typhoon: They are 1-800-387-3124 or 613-996-8885.
  • Viber- Temporary service allows Filipino users to call regular (non-Viber) numbers outside of the Philippines for free.
  • The Philippines Red Cross is using social media as much as possible to coordinate their efforts. Follow @philredcross or use the hashtag #tracingPH if you are looking for friends or family.
  • RT @ShawInfo: All long-distance calls to the Philippines will be offered to all Shaw Phone customers at no additional cost until further notice.
  • RT @ShawInfo: To help our customers get more info on the typhoon in the Philippines, The Filipino Channel (ch. 509) is available to all for a limited time.
  • RT @TELUS: Our thoughts are w/ those in the Philippines. BC/AB: to help stay connected – all home phone calls to the country are free Nov 8-14, 2013.
  • PhilCAS of BC is a local Filipino folk dance group and is ready to help out and provide their services for FREE. Contact AJ 604.379.9112 or Rachel at 604.348.5389 or email racheltara.ambrosio [at] gmail.com.

If you’re a registered Canadian charity: Registered charities have until December 23, 2013 to submit their declaration forms indicating the amount of eligible donations they collected.

Other information on how to help:

This list will be constantly updated with more ways for Canadians to help.
If there’s anything you’d like to be added to this list, please email justinne.rz@gmail.com.

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I did it!

I did it! I finally officially received my BA in Professional Communications from Royal Roads University.

After a continuous journey in attending school, it feels amazing to finally take a bow and exit stage left :D

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My biggest thank you goes to my parents for making the biggest sacrifice of leaving everything and everyone they love behind in the Philippines just so my sister and I will be given the opportunity for a better future here in Canada.  Without them taking that huge risky step, I wouldn’t be where I am today, have met the great (and not so great) people in my life and experienced the adventures I have been so blessed with and lucky to have.

For all of life’s experiences I’ve had so far, I always think about the people who’ve helped me grow in the past 23 years. All of the relationships I’ve had so far–whether still existing or have passed– taught me that one doesn’t achieve things without the help of others. Thank you for contributing to my story. I am no more deserving than others and I feel so lucky for all the privileges I’ve received so far.

Life is good and the best has yet to come.

“Today is where your book begins and the rest is still unwritten.”

Breaking Bad…Habits

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According to HowStuffWorks.com (hey, it works!), it is a common belief that a habit takes 21 days to break or make. In my case, I challenged myself three weeks ago, first days of September 2013 to break a nasty habit that’s been giving me head-splitting headaches. This habit was so terrible that it had cost me so much money, affected my health and also wasted my hours countless times.

I already explained and sought out help in a previous post and here I am, I have actually succeeded this time.

I have stopped splitting my ends for the past 21 days or so!

It was challenging, frustrating and satisfying all at the same time. The fact that I’ve stopped a stupid habit that I thought would plague my life forever accentuates the saying that “if there’s a will, there’s a way.”

Here’s how to end the splitting ends or other habits that pull on you like crazy:

Take it seriously and think about the consequences of that nasty habit
This time, I took myself seriously. After my glasses were once again replaced as my eyes had gone drastically worse just in the past year, it dawned on me that my split ends won’t all disappear, but my eyesight could (or something like that). Splitting my ends was such a therapeutic habit that allowed me to concentrate on doing just that, yet at the same time, gave me all the time to think in general. However, at the end of the day, I could have alternatives to thinking and feeling relaxed. Splitting my ends was killing my eyesight, wasting my time and shows a lack of self-control…it just didn’t cut it anymore (lol) especially when I was losing too much!

Start with step one
I got a hair cut to start off, shorter than usual, to the point where I can’t even split my ends even if I tried since I wouldn’t be able to see anything.

Resist, sistah (or bro)
I still ran my hands through my hair –what was once the start of my hair splitting ritual— but that ended there. There’s a reason why you must resist and you have to stick to it and distract yourself. I’d do this by looking somewhere else. This totally worked for me because I am easily distracted.

You’re closer than you think
My hair grew a little (as hair sometimes do :P) that I could sometimes see the ends of my hair, yet I held back from repeating those habits, reminding myself that I was closer to my 21-day challenge. This in itself kept me from going astray…I hate losing. I hate losing challenges, especially ones that I set for myself. Plus, the fact that I had a deadline kept me going and knowing how close it was…aah, rewarding.

The next level to this challenge comes when my hair grows longer. I know that seeing how far I’ve come will motivate me, but of course, there would be times when it would just be hard to keep away! It is a habit that’s accompanied me for almost a decade now but I know that a new habit can be formed for the next decade.

You can’t stop things overnight. But it sure looks like you can stop it for 21 days…or start it ;)

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Book Review: Crazy Rich Asians

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Crazy Rich Asians is Kevin Kwan’s first novel, released on June 2013. It is described as the following:

Crazy Rich Asians is the outrageously funny debut novel about three super-rich, pedigreed Chinese families and the gossip, backbiting, and scheming that occurs when the heir to one of the most massive fortunes in Asia brings home his ABC (American-born Chinese) girlfriend to the wedding of the season.

When Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, she envisions a humble family home, long drives to explore the island, and quality time with the man she might one day marry. What she doesn’t know is that Nick’s family home happens to look like a palace, that she’ll ride in more private planes than cars, and that with one of Asia’s most eligible bachelors on her arm, Rachel might as well have a target on her back. Initiated into a world of dynastic splendor beyond imagination, Rachel meets Astrid, the It Girl of Singapore society; Eddie, whose family practically lives in the pages of the Hong Kong socialite magazines; and Eleanor, Nick’s formidable mother, a woman who has very strong feelings about who her son should–and should not–marry. Uproarious, addictive, and filled with jaw-dropping opulence, Crazy Rich Asians is an insider’s look at the Asian JetSet; a perfect depiction of the clash between old money and new money; between Overseas Chinese and Mainland Chinese; and a fabulous novel about what it means to be young, in love, and gloriously, crazily rich.

You can imagine how much fun this book is, and how especially enticing it is to Asians. Finally, a book that talks about a different aspect of being Asian, released in mainstream media. No longer are we portrayed as a struggling minority group, a wave of immigrants and nothing else, a cluster of super geeks, the exotic other or even the model child.

A complete summer chick-lit, Crazy Rich Asians was a promising read–a page-turner even–in the first 250 pages, only to end with a sudden disconnect from the audience. I almost felt like I was dumped in a “I loved you but let’s just be friends” kind of way. Where did I go wrong?!

The designer label name-dropping was hilarious…the excessiveness of luxury put the Western phrase #FirstWorldProblems to shame. Being from Richmond, BC made it so easy for me to imagine the characters, especially their lust for basking in all things LV and (insert a car that cost enough to feed a country) super cars. As a matter of fact, Whistler, Vancouver and UBC were all mentioned, so it isn’t a shock that these crazy rich Asians are known to live among us.

The parties, the glam, the drama — expect it all, but in an an explosive manner that puts My Super Sweet Sixteen into a pile for the downtrodden. The book was a delight to read as every chapter features a family member and the shameful stories they carry, hidden from the rest of a seemingly perfect family.

The protagonists, Nick and Rachel however, were a little dull. They weren’t necessarily memorable characters, as their manners in the book were a bit flat and didn’t show how dynamic a person can be. They were a bit unrealistic and uninspiring. Poor them.

The ending was unsatisfying, unfortunately. After reading 200 pages of excitement, I was reluctantly reading the last chapters, especially the last one. It was as if everything was just thrown at me at once, just so the author can move on to his next projects. I wanted it to all be tied up together in a pretty little bow, but instead I had a “who cares?” kind of look in my face (priceless but not the look I go for!).

With that said, I would still recommend this book to all the crazy (some rich) Asians out there, who lust after a light read after a long day of calculating equations (ha, just kidding!). And of course, I recommend this to my bros and sistahs from all around the world, just because it is a sinfully entertaining (til the last part) book that does give you a glimpse of wealthy Asian families and the culture that most Asians understand—saving face, for example. Kwan made me chuckle enough to choke on a pearl in my bubble tea.

Apparently, a lot were pleased too. As a matter of fact, this book will be turned into a film by the producer of The Hunger Games. I wonder which Asians would appear on the silver screen? Definitely breaks the barrier of ethnic misrepresentation in the media, so I look forward to my Vera Wang fittings while Instagramming my lumpia with sweet and sour chili sauce (gotta represent!) before the film premiere ;)

Read more about the book: Crazy Rich Asians

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