I am happy it is spring time. It is now a warm 65º degree weather here in New York City. This issue of the “5 Things I Like” is a happy hello to springtime!
The art of writing fiction is far from what I do as a day job (I work in Ed-Tech). I find solace in reading about the focus, dedication, and sheer hard work that writers must have in order to finish a book or story. I enjoy reading about writers reflecting on their craft and one of my favorite writers is Haruki Murakami.
“What I Talk About When I Talk About Running” is partly his memoir but also it is an ode to the demanding world of being a runner. He reflects on how he became an athlete and compares the similarities of athletic training to his writing.
This book is a joy to read. I find myself comforted with Murakami’s memoir. I find it interesting that he started writing late in his life after working as a business owner for years. He owned his own jazz club in Japan and somehow stumbled into writing.
He shares a lot of wisdom on aging, finding your passion, being an introvert, becoming a writer, becoming an athlete, and living a simple life.
Murakami’s writing has always struck me with his clarity (his novels translated from Japanese) reminds me of Hemingway’s minimal and direct phrasing.
This is a great book to read and is a good book on goal-setting. When we set a goal we put rubber to the road, it is just us and the road. Murakami thinks this is similar to writing since both are acts done in solitude. When we run or write we must keep focused by ourselves no matter what.
I will write more about Murakami and his books in the future, meanwhile here are some of my favorite quotes from the book.
“When I’m in writing mode for a novel, I get up at 4:00 am and work for five to six hours. In the afternoon, I run for 10km or swim for 1500m (or do both), then I read a bit and listen to some music. I go to bed at 9:00 pm. I keep to this routine every day without variation. The repetition itself becomes the important thing; it’s a form of mesmerism. I mesmerize myself to reach a deeper state of mind. But to hold to such repetition for so long — six months to a year — requires a good amount of mental and physical strength. In that sense, writing a long novel is like survival training. Physical strength is as necessary as artistic sensitivity.”
“I look up at the sky, wondering if I’ll catch a glimpse of kindness there, but I don’t. All I see are indifferent summer clouds drifting over the Pacific. And they have nothing to say to me. Clouds are always taciturn. I probably shouldn’t be looking up at them. What I should be looking at is inside of me. Like staring down into a deep well. Can I see kindness there? No, all I see is my own nature. My own individual, stubborn, uncooperative often self-centered nature that still doubts itself–that, when troubles occur, tries to find something funny, or something nearly funny, about the situation. I’ve carried this character around like an old suitcase, down a long, dusty path. I’m not carrying it because I like it. The contents are too heavy, and it looks crummy, fraying in spots. I’ve carried it with me because there was nothing else I was supposed to carry. Still, I guess I have grown attached to it. As you might expect.”
“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional. Say you’re running and you think, ‘Man, this hurts, I can’t take it anymore. The ‘hurt’ part is an unavoidable reality, but whether or not you can stand anymore is up to the runner himself.”
“The fact that I’m me and no one else is one of my greatest assets. Emotional hurt is the price a person has to pay in order to be independent.”
“In certain areas of my life, I actively seek out solitude. Especially for someone in my line of work, solitude is, more or less, an inevitable circumstance. Sometimes, however, this sense of isolation, like acid spilling out of a bottle, can unconsciously eat away at a person’s heart and dissolve it. You could see it, too, as a kind of double-edged sword. It protects me, but at the same time steadily cuts away at me from the inside.”
Photography is another budding passion of mine. I am recently re-discovering film photography. For those who don’t have a film camera and still wants to experience film photography, the Fujifilm Instax product lines may be right up your alley.
Fujifilm has done a great job taking advantage of this retro item with its line of Instax Instant film cameras and the Instax SP2 printer is the second version of their original Instax printer.
(Check out The WireCutter’s site for more on “The Best Instant Camera” here: http://thewirecutter.com/reviews/best-instant-camera/).
The Instax SP2 printer improves on its previous brother by improving the print out quality from 254 dpi to 320 dpi so photos come out clearer than the previous version. It also changed the battery from the CR2 batteries (that were hard to find in stores) to one that is a built-in rechargeable battery via mini-USB which ups the convenient factor.
Using an iPhone or Android smartphone, one can download the Instax app and print to the printer directly. The best thing about this route to film printouts is that you can print any photos you have taken via your smartphone to this printer. It becomes more useful as you have the choice on what photos to print anytime.
See this YouTube video (credit: Amy Tangerine) for a good review comparing the older version to the newest SP2 version of the printer.
Using a toner is something that I started doing within the last three years. I can tell you it has done dramatic and positive changes to my skin. It has become part of my daily facial skin regimen.
My favorite toner is an affordable one, the Thayer Witch Hazel Rose Petal toner. It is also alcohol-free, that is important as alcohol tends to dry the skin. It is gentle, and the rose-petal water with aloe helps soften and clear the skin.
Using a toner ensure our skin is primed at the right pH balance. It also helps in the effectiveness of any skin products you apply after toning such as face lotions.
Using a toner is a great arsenal in our everyday skin care regimen.
More product information:
Thayers Rose Petal Alcohol-Free Witch Hazel with Aloe Vera Formula Toner will make your skin bloom. Rose Thayer’s remarkably soothing Toner is made with rose-petal water, Vitamin E and our proprietary Witch Hazel extract.
- Ingredients: Purified Water, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice (Certified Organic Filet Of Aloe Vera), Glycerin (Vegetable), Fragrance (Natural Rose), Hamamelis Virginiana Extract (made from Certified Organic Witch Hazel), Rosa Centifolia (Rose) Flower Water, Citric Acid, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Seed Extract. Alcohol-free, paraben-free, naturally preserved, hypoallergenic.
- Made with organic witch hazel and aloe vera. Natural rose fragrance. Cleanses soothes and tones skin. 12-oz. Bottle
4. Meditation app: Headspace.
I’ve written a lot about meditation. I absolutely love the Headspace app, for beginners who needs some soothing guidance on starting meditation as well as for meditation connoisseurs who needs a refresher. I have written a guide on meditation here also, so check it out: https://www.enlight8.com/guide-to-mindful-meditation/.
This is an amazing app that I fully recommend to any friends who asks: “How do I get started with Meditation?” If you have an iPhone (or Android) then there is no excuse to start this amazing practice for free. Though the app can be converted to a subscription-based option (for more meditation lessons), it contains a huge chunk of free content to start you off. The guidance is invaluable and great! Whether you continue as a subscriber (it might be worth it for many) or not, give this app a try. It is very well executed and provides a lot of value for free!
I love good chocolate. Taza’s Chocolate Mexicano discs are one of the best for chocolate lovers! Their chocolate is made using stone grounding. This is a great method for traditionally making chocolate and the quality of the chocolate is amazing.
Their chocolate is made using traditional Mexican stone grounding (where cocoa seeds are grounded in stone), making the consistency unique.
Taza also incorporates quality innovative ingredients such as Guajillo Chili, Cinnamon, Vanilla, etc. You may find these in stores such as Whole Foods or simply get them online which most often are cheaper priced.