The Swim Athlete’s Future

Lap after lap. 3, 4, 5 kilometers a day in the pool. Day after day…week after week…month after month.

At 9 years old, wanted to be world champion. Forgoing parties, events and other fun things.

In the water, lap after lap after lap. 20 meters…50 meter lengths.

School holidays and other holidays – the same.

Personal times for her 50 meter and 100 meter pet events kept dropping… So did the times of her other events. Kept on improving. Kept moving up the heats… From the 1st heat in the very beginning… Kept moving up the heat charts. When she reached the last 3 heats in her events at each championship race, the state athletes at that time started paying attention to her. A new kid on the block as competition.

13 years old. A big responsibility added on. Selected to represent the state team. Swim and training was now an average 9 times a week (twice each on Saturday and Sunday).

Kept on at it. Times kept improving. Was a contributor towards the team’s many championship wins. Within a short period of time, reached the top 3 in the country for her age group. Broke individual and relay records all along the way.

Graduated from high school. Went on to further her studies in the U.S.

Was on the university’s swimming team. Helped the university move up the swim charts. Set individual and relay records for the university.

There were many ups and downs, bumpy roads, disappointments, total excitement and joy throughout her swim athlete, school and university story. She held fast to her belief in herself and her goals. She had fun. It was not so much just about the “winning”. It was the “experiences” take away: winning yes, also teamwork, sharing and building relationships with various people along the way.

The role of parents? Support, love, care, support. Always be enthusiastic for your children. Driving them to 3-hour daily training and then back.

As parents, we have to continuously encourage them, even on the days they may be tempted by non-athletes to skip training. My wife and I use to tell our daughter, “your fiercest competitor will be training while you are thinking of missing it. The decision is yours. What is the end result you want?”

Be with them, cheering them on; even if it means spending 15 hours at a swim meet, each day on a three- or four-day championship.

Past and current swim athletes, when looking back; can relate to this “grueling lifestyle” during their swim career. When looking back they can smile, joke about the times their energy was completely spent and they still had 25 meters of the race to go, times when they lost and the many times when they won both in the pool and out of the pool. About the times they literally had fun.

Now, graduated – B. Sc. Entrepreneurship. Looking for a job in the U.S. With 16 years of swim athlete experience and an Entrepreneurship studies degree; she wants to share her experiences by applying them in the work that she will be doing.

Now, she takes with her a way of discipline in doing things, a “never give up” character and the bright side of things when she goes employment hunting.

~ Dedicated to Laura Atkinson

The 15th Day

Chap Goh Mei which is today, is the last day of the Chinese Lunar Year celebrations or Chinese New Year. The day is celebrated similarly to the day before Chinese New Year, it is celebrated with much joy and festivity. This is the year of the Rabbit. The rabbit (兔) is the fourth in the twelve-year periodic sequence (cycle) of animals that appear in the Chinese zodiac related to the Chinese calendar. (1) The sign of Rabbit is a symbol of longevity, peace, and prosperity in Chinese culture. (2)

On the night of Chap Goh Meh, unmarried girls will throw tangerines (oranges) in the sea or river in the belief that they will be able to marry good husbands. I don’t know how the guys could identify which tangerine belonged to which girl “in those days”. Today, maybe the girls will write their name, telephone number and Instagram or TikTok ID (Facebook is for senior citizens, so they’ll skip adding their Facebook ID) on each and every tangerine with permanent ink pen markers.

Jeannie and I decided to celebrate this last day of festivities in a small way. We went to Sunway Pyramid Shopping Centre in Subang Jaya. (3)

Since Laura is away in the U.S.; we decided to stop by at one of her favorite stores in this shopping Centre – Popular Book Store. Laura loved to shop for stationery especially in this store – pens, pencils, color pencils, magic ink, glitter ink, various types of writing and note books, and drawing pads. She had hundreds of these writing instruments in various shades, sizes and color. She is quite the artist, too; follows after her mother. Me? I can’t draw two straight lines with a ruler. We had quite a good time. Jeannie and I purchased a few items.

We had coffee at the Oriental Kopitiam (4) (naturally. It wouldn’t have been so traditional if we had coffee at Starbucks, The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf or at the mamak (5)). We had to have Oriental Kopitiam’s signature coffee. It was pretty good. We had butter with kaya on toast bread – one of the usual eats when one drinks kopitiam coffee. I had to also have Black Glutinous Rice or in aspirated local terms, “Pulut hitam”. Simply one of my favorites. It had two sort of glutinous balls with black sesame paste inside. People: it’s worth the try.

Jeannie spent a bit of time at her favorite stores; too. I…yes; at the gadget stores. Nothing really much going on in this area. You can find loads of interesting and cool new gadgets on the web, but they hardly seem to make their way to this part of the world.

5 hours later, we were on our way home. It was a great way to spend our Sunday afternoon, relaxed and had fun.

Jeannie and I with three gold boat-shaped ingots (part of the deco).

Year of the Rabbit.

I know, I know… I am not suppose to be on the bridge, but under it, waiting to collect oranges…er.. I mean find “that special orange thrown over by a lenglui” (6). I figure that since I am already spoken for; I might as well collect as many oranges from the lenglui(s). The guys aren’t waiting under the bridge. They are at home on their phones or PS5 games.😁

NOTES:
1. Wikipedia
2. Chinahighlights.com
3. Subang Jaya is a city in the state of Selangor, Malaysia.
4. “Kopitiam”: a coffee house serving traditional Malay and Chinese fare.
5. “Mamak”: Mamak stalls are indoor and open-air food establishments particularly found in Southeast Asia, such as Malaysia.
6. “Lenglui”: Pretty girl.

FUSION FOOD?

It was a busy and tiring evening. The evening started by us (Jeannie and I) having to endure the traffic crawl for an hour in P.J. to Subang Jaya. A couple of drops of rain and almost everyone stops to take pictures of the raindrops.

Got back home with our sanity still in tack. Oh. Just kidding about what I said earlier about a couple of raindrops. It was a wee bit more than that.😉

Since the whole evening had promised loads of work to do in advance; I had to have a quick dinner. So, Jeannie helped rustle up something almost to go, after she asked if I was ok with the choice of food. Which I was, wa-a-y-y-y more than ok:

Main serving: German chicken sausages with roti canai. The side dishes were green cucumbers (unpeeled dark skin), KFC whipped potato and cherry tomatoes. Don’t know why they are called “cherry tomatoes”. They are bigger than cherries and almost always in the color of orange; not red or green. Beverage was hot (not piping or boiling hot; just drinkable hot) Ovaltine.

The meal was great. Managed to get some work done. Never ending. One of the mysteries of life. Not complaining.

The Lavender essential oil which is very gently filling the room with its beautiful aroma; is being diffused through the diffuser (of course) in the corner of the room…

CHANGE YOUR FUTURE

For some of us on this side of the world, half a day of the last day of January of this new year is upon us. How has this month been?

I believe it is good for us to take stock of what we have achieved, on our way to achieving it / them; or have not yet achieve them. Some of these may be New Year’s resolutions, some may be medium to long term goals which we begun some time back.

Sometimes, we need to take a step out of what we are doing and reassess or re-evaluate the situation.

I don’t know if it is age catching (caught up? overtook?) on me, for me to question and keep questioning
1. Why did he do it this way?
2. Why did she do it? What does she gain in doing this?
3. What is going through the mind of that person sitting quietly in the corner of the room?
4. How did the architect first conceive the idea of building the 118 storey high building?

aronscoaching

I think what intrigues me the most is how best we see ourselves and are willing to adapt to change to improve our life and the lives of others. Something I learnt several years ago, maybe over 5 years ago; was a U.S. Navy Marine Admiral giving a speech to a large group of marine cadets. He said, “Each morning when you wake up, and get out of bed; the first thing you should do is to make your bed, tidy it. That will give you a sense of accomplishment…you have started the day on a positive, having accomplished something.” We (Laura, Jeannie and I) still practice that rule. No matter how important or busy that day is going to be, making our bed and tidying up is the first thing we do.

Simon Sinek sums it up to 5 important rules that will change our future. Some of these I have watched from other videos, heard or read of them. I like them all. A couple that stands out most to me is about Nelson Mandela’s father who was a tribal chief. Another was about the styrofoam cup. Nevertheless, all great lessons.

We may be motivated by this video to change our lives. A few months, weeks or maybe days later, we forget and fall back into our old ways. Nothing says we can’t make an attempt at change or many attempts at change in our lives. We just pick ourselves up and start over again. Are we too old for this? Are we too rich or important for this? That is entirely up to you decide.

While we keep getting bombarded over all types of media that the world is heading for a recession or is already in one, let us focus on our lives, families and surroundings. If it has to be, it is up to me. There is no try. Just do. I wish everyone a fabulous 2023. Reach out and grab that bagel. Have fun.

Healthy, Simple Dinner

After what was a very sweet coffee evening on Saturday, with the white chocolate cake that at one glance looked like a serviette dispenser; which tasted very nice, the white chocolate cake, that is; at The Social in Empire Gallery Shopping Centre; Jeannie and I decided to go for very simple food at Kar Heong “Restoran” (the Bahasa Malaysia spelling for the word “restaurant”) at dinner time.

Describing the picture above clockwise, I had the plain noodles & soup since I don’t eat rice (I stopped eating rice 15 years ago), two plates (1 each for Jeannie and me) of steamed chicken breast meat, toothpicks (in the red capped dispenser), sweet black sauce in the green dispenser with black vertical lines, soy sauce, red chili sauce (a must have when you eat steamed chicken with or without rice), a little container of what looks like white pepper, a plate of towgey (bean sprouts) that is a delicious side dish for a meal like this (to the left of my iced coffee, more popularly known as “kopi peng” in these parts); two small saucers of the red chili sauce. a bowl of ginger (the ginger adds the balance in flavor to the chicken), my iced coffee and Jeannie’s hot coffee (at the top of the picture).

I found eating my noodles and soup which I think was “hor fun”, with plastic chopsticks and soup spoon quite tricky. I couldn’t seem to get the noodles and soup to stay on the spoon with the pair of chopsticks. The noodles just kept slipping off the spoon no matter what I did to try keeping it on. I picked up pieces of chicken with the chopsticks to put on the slippery noodles on the spoon, and then add the chili sauce and ginger to it. I had to use an ordinary commoner’s (haha 😁) spoon and fork, which didn’t make all that much of a difference. I ended up with splashes of soup drops on my shirt. Quite an adventure. This happens all the time. I have yet to master these skills.

Jeannie and I came to the same conclusion: the food was delicious. We finished every bit of it and we were full. Yes, we enjoyed our meal.

As for my soup-splashed stained, shirt; it happens all the time. There’s a funny little saying😏 between Laura, Jeannie and me: “Can’t take you out anywhere” 😂 whenever any of us spill something. 😁Jeannie was egging me on to come to have this meal for over a couple of months. Finally, we did.

There are two or three Kar Heong Restoran within the same vicinity. The restaurant that we had our dinner at is located in SS14, Subang Jaya.

When I got home at about 8.30pm, I had to go for my 10,000 step walk. I met with my neighbor Sim and his wife. They had just begun their walk, too; which they do after dinner. We had a nice chat along the way. The weather was good, quite cooling. We completed our walk within the hour. A good short workout.

NOTES:
1. Jeannie and Laura are family.
2. Subang Jaya is a city in the state of Selangor, Malaysia.
3. Jamie Oliver and I are not on the same level as food critics. He is for the cameras, audience and the moolah. I am just a plain simpleton, telling it as I see..em..taste it. Hahaha😂😂😋

Exercise by Retail Therapy

Quite and eventful outing. It was about 3.00pm. Jeannie and I decided to go to Mid-Valley Shopping Centre. I still had not gone for my daily 10,000 step walk at that time.

So, I decided to window-shop all the shops in The Gardens and Mid-Valley Shopping Centre itself. Managed to complete the 10,000 steps while Jeannie went to several stores, the last being Metrojaya.

On our way home, we decided to swing by The Social at Empire Gallery, Subang Jaya; for cake and coffee. Good thing I did the 10,000 steps. The white chocolate…something cake which Jeannie chose; had a kezillion calories in it.

Initially, when the cake was first served; I not having paid much attention to it, thought it was a serviette dispenser. 😂

Be Brave

Step out of your comfort zone for new possibilities.

Be
Brave

Take risks. There is no “try” if you don’t take action. It may not get you the results you are looking for. Keep on at it until you get the result you want. Nothing can substitute experience.

Great things never came from comfort zones.

And experience always has a story to be told.

~ ALAN IAN ATKINSON
Writer, Author, Storyteller


The Third Day. The Festivities Continue…

Its the third day of the new year, Chinese New Year, that is. Malaysia being Malaysia; the choice for food is endless, regardless of festivities. Having said that, at festivals, as it is now, Chinese New Year or Lunar New Year; cookies and certain types of food are specially prepared only during this festivity. Love it.

However, today; Jeannie and I joined her parents, her sister Judy who is here in Malaysia for the holidays; and Jeannie’s and Judy’s cousin, Cecilia; her husband Siow and their son, for lunch at Kayu Nasi Kandar in Taipan, USJ Subang Jaya; today. The food was good. I abstained from rice…of course. Stopped eating rice since 2007.

Before long, it was dinner. I said to Jeannie, “It’s been a long time since we have had satay”. So, off we went to the Taj Curry House in SS12, Subang Jaya. The diva took our order of roti canai and Nescafe kurang manis (less sweet which means less sugar). We placed our order for 5 sticks each, of chicken and beef satay with the satay chef, or the griller…better known as “boss”.

The meal was very nice. The satay was well marinated, the beef more on the sweet side. We were kind of full by the end of the meal. Delicious! Total cost of the meal US$6.30.

The 5 sticks each, of chicken and beef satay (skewed on the sticks), in the middle. It came with cucumber, onions and kutupat (rice cake); all of which is dipped in the somewhat sweet peanut sauce, which in some restaurants may serve a more spicy version.

As soon as I got back, which was about 8.15pm; I went for a short 7km walk to work off some of this meal. I joined Sim, my neighbor from a couple of streets away for the walk. It started to rain about 10 minutes after I started walking and then became intermittent. Our walk was cool and pleasant, though a bit wet.

Enjoy and have a great day ahead.

JAMS AND LIQUORED ICE-CREAMS

Time: 4.15pm. Left the house in USJ Subang Jaya, enroute to P.J. At the traffic light intersection near USJ 4/1; a container trailer and truck (Cab head), was creating a scene. While doing a U-turn maneuver at the intersection; the trailer dislodged from the truck and buckled on its stand legs, tipping over to the left dangerously, with the possibility of flipping on its side.

I thought that this incident (not accident), was sure to cause a massive traffic jam on my way back home later in the evening.

I did the couple of things I wanted to do in P.J.. Then, I picked Jeannie up from her office just after 5.00pm.

I informed her about the truck and container trailer incident and the “for sure” jam we would face. Bad enough, we had to snake our way through the fastest routes or least amounts of P.J. traffic jams.

I suggested we go for some ice-cream as a pre-celebration to her birthday tomorrow (Jan 19th). So, we went to The Ice-Cream bar which was sort off on our route to go home.

To calm our nerves a bit and set us in “relax-mode”; our ice-cream came with a bit of liquor. We ordered “Chocolate Baileys” and “Crunchy Coffee Whiskey”. Both flavours were excellent, with the Chocolate Baileys coming in a bit strong. The “Crunchy Coffee Whiskey” was more balanced and less strong in taste. The crushed nuts in it seemed to have created the balance.

The Chocolate Baileys on the left, and the Crunchy Coffee Whiskey on the right.

We spent about 45 minutes at The Ice-Cream Bar. When we got into Subang Jaya which was about 6.30pm, the traffic jam did not seem to let up. So, we made a “B-line” to The Taj Curry House in SS12.

I had a couple of roti canai and Jeannie had a tosai. Both our orders came with the usual 3 small side dishes of curry and sambals. We also ordered “chicken very well” more commonly know here as chicken varuvell which was spicy at just the right level. Food was great as usual.

And for their new waitress who thought she was some kind of diva…

The Ice-Cream Bar is definitely a great way to get off the beaten traffic snarls and stress of Petaling Jaya and Subang Jaya.