Modern Love and Deadlifting

I have been a long time fan of The New York Times – Modern Love column, back in university days when some friends and I used to share short essays about love to read. One of the famous ones would be the article on an experiment of making two strangers falling in love by answering a list of 36 questions, based on a psychological research on creating interpersonal closeness and intimacy with someone.

Some Modern Love stories were really good, some were okay, some could be quite strange, although I forgot most of the stories by now. Many are deep, personal, and emotional. Well…it’s about love after all, in a wide variety of different forms. I haven’t read as much as I used to back in the days, but from time to time I come across some essays while scrolling down on my Facebook feed.

Today is one of them. Scrolling down, naturally I had to stop and click when I saw the word “Deadlifting”

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Modern Love and Deadlifting!? Who would have thought?

Beautifully written essay, as usual. It’s a very “Modern Love” style story; always have some symbols in there to represent something. And it isn’t only about deadlifting here, but the meaning deep down behind the lift, which I can relate to it perfectly, although I have no trauma of my own.

Funny enough, my best friend just asked this question about lifting earlier today. Our brief conversation, or you could call it my own rambling, went like this.

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I wrote a lot of my thoughts about powerlifting here and there. Will probably write more in the future. In the beginning it was indeed about learning the movements and focusing on the body. The techniques part will always be there as it really is NOT just picking the weight up, but now it’s become a lot more about the mind, and how this mentality can be adapted in my every day life, even at work.

I’m still mesmerized by this whole new world. It is a big deal for someone like me who despised exercise almost my entire life. Never had I ever imagined going from who I was to where I am now; from barely able to pick up a 4kg kettlebell, to someone who loves and looks forward to lifting almost 2X my bodyweight. I’ve learned so much along this self transformation, knowing that I have this capability of doing and accomplishing anything once I set my mind to it.

since feeling is first – e.e. cummings

Ah, E.E. Cummings, someone I discovered YEARS ago and almost forgot. i carry your heart with me is probably his most famous poem and my favorite one. His poems are often written in lowercase with lots of parentheses and weirdly-looking sentences and grammars. Definitely a signature of what makes him stand out and catches my attention though.

Re-discovered him by digging through old Facebook notes. I suppose I am in this mood of connecting with ALL the feels. This “since feeling is first” probably represents my mood and somewhat who I am – how you persuade your loved one to kiss and love freely and deeply without paying attention to social norms/conventional behaviors (Love how he compares the norms to syntax of things…haven’t heard of the word Syntax since 2nd year of university in Linguistics. Ah, memories).

I think a lot, probably too much, but why even think when you’d better kiss?

For life is not a paragraph, and death I think is no parenthesis. 


since feeling is first – e.e. cummings 

since feeling is first
who pays any attention
to the syntax of things
will never wholly kiss you;

wholly to be a fool
while Spring is in the world

my blood approves,
and kisses are a better fate
than wisdom
lady i swear by all flowers. Don’t cry
– the best gesture of my brain is less than
your eyelids’ flutter which says

we are for each other; then
laugh, leaning back in my arms
for life’s not a paragraph

And death i think is no parenthesis

When Love Arrives

I found this gem that I had forgotten long time ago – When Love Arrives by Sarah Kay and Phil Kaye. I LOVE IT SO, SO MUCH – this Spoken poetry! You need to watch them speak here. I don’t know if it’s just me that I end up crying every damn time I watch/listen to them. It had been like that years ago, listened to them tonight and still cried again. The poem started by putting smiles on your face, until last two paragraphs that got me cry. You could kill me with those verses.

I even think I understand it much better now, listening to it this time; how love is older, you can barely recognize, how love stays and how it can’t, or how it shouldn’t.


When Love Arrives – Sarah Kay and Phil Kaye

I knew exactly what love looked like – in seventh grade.
Even though I hadn’t met love yet, if love had wandered into my homeroom I would’ve recognized him at first glance.
Love wore a hemp necklace.
I would’ve recognized her at first glance, love wore a tight french braid. 
Love played acoustic guitar and knew all my favorite Beatles songs. 
Love wasn’t afraid to ride the bus with me. 
And I knew, I just must be searching the wrong classrooms, just must be checking the wrong hallways, she was there, I was sure of it. 
If only I could find him.

But when love finally showed up, she had a bow cut. 
He wore the same clothes every day for a week. 
Love hated the bus. 
Love didn’t know anything about The Beatles. 
Instead, every time I try to kiss love, our teeth got in the way. 
Love became the reason I lied to my parents. 
“”I’m going to – Ben’s house.” 
Love had terrible rhythm on the dance floor, but made sure we never missed a slow song. 
Love waited by the phone because she knew that if her father picked up it would be: 
“”Hello? Hello? I guess they hung up.”

And love grew, stretched like a trampoline. 
Love changed. 
Love disappeared, slowly, like baby teeth, losing parts of me I thought I needed. 
Love vanished like an amateur magician, and everyone could see the trapdoor but me. 
Like a flat tire, there were other places I planned on going, but my plans didn’t matter. 
Love stayed away for years, and when love finally reappeared, I barely recognized him. 
Love smelt different now, had darker eyes, a broader back, love came with freckles I didn’t recognize. 
New birthmarks, a softer voice. 
Now there were new sleeping patterns, new favorite books. 
Love had songs that reminded him of someone else, songs love didn’t like to listen to. 
So did I.

But we found a park bench that fit us perfectly, we found jokes that make us laugh. 
And now, love makes me fresh homemade chocolate chip cookies. 
But love will probably finish most of them for a midnight snack. 
Love looks great in lingerie but still likes to wear her retainer. 
Love is a terrible driver, but a great navigator. 
Love knows where she’s going, it just might take her two hours longer than she planned. 
Love is messier now, not as simple. 
Love uses the words “boobs” in front of my parents. 
Love chews too loud. 
Love leaves the cap off the toothpaste. 
Love uses smiley faces in her text messages. 
And turns out, love shits!

But love also cries. 
And love will tell you you are beautiful and mean it, over and over again. 
You are beautiful. 
When you first wake up, “you are beautiful.” 
When you’ve just been crying, “you are beautiful.” 
When you don’t want to hear it, “you are beautiful.”
When you don’t believe it, “you are beautiful.” 
When nobody else will tell you, “you are beautiful.”
Love still thinks – 
You are beautiful. 
But love is not perfect and will sometimes forget, when you need to hear it most, 
You are beautiful. 
Do not forget this.

Love is not who you were expecting, love is not who you can predict. 
Maybe love is in New York City, already asleep, and you are in California, Australia, wide awake. 
Maybe love is always in the wrong time zone. 
Maybe love is not ready for you. 
Maybe you are not ready for love. 
Maybe love just isn’t the marrying type. 
Maybe the next time you see love is twenty years after the divorce, love is older now, but just as beautiful as you remembered. 
Maybe love is only there for a month. 
Maybe love is there for every firework, every birthday party, every hospital visit. 
Maybe love stays –
Maybe love can’t. 
Maybe love shouldn’t.

Love arrives exactly when love is supposed to, and love leaves exactly when love must. 
When love arrives, say, 
“Welcome. Make yourself comfortable.” 
If love leaves, ask her to leave the door open behind her. 
Turn off the music, listen to the quiet, whisper, 
“Thank you. Thank you for stopping by.”

Tonight I can write the saddest lines – Pablo Neruda

As a liberal arts student, I used to read some poetry when I was in university. English major friends sometimes shared some poetry with me or I came across some poems I loved and remembered.

I just realized I somewhat lost that side of me since I started working – forgetting emotions and feelings while focusing on more concrete things like career and business books. Hmm, how we have changed. For the better or not, I’m not sure.

“Tonight I can write the saddest lines” was one of my favorites. It’s really fitting my mood tonight.

“Love is short, forgetting is long,” Pablo Neruda said.


Tonight I can write the saddest lines.

Write, for example, ‘The night is starry and the stars are blue and shiver in the distance.’

The night wind revolves in the sky and sings.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.

Through nights like this one I held her in my arms.
I kissed her again and again under the endless sky.

She loved me, sometimes I loved her too.
How could one not have loved her great still eyes.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
To think that I do not have her. To feel that I have lost her.

To hear the immense night, still more immense without her.
And the verse falls to the soul like dew to the pasture.

What does it matter that my love could not keep her.
The night is starry and she is not with me.

This is all. In the distance someone is singing. In the distance.
My soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

My sight tries to find her as though to bring her closer.
My heart looks for her, and she is not with me.

The same night whitening the same trees.
We, of that time, are no longer the same.

I no longer love her, that’s certain, but how I loved her.
My voice tried to find the wind to touch her hearing.

Another’s. She will be another’s. As she was before my kisses.
Her voice, her bright body. Her infinite eyes.

I no longer love her, that’s certain, but maybe I love her.
Love is so short, forgetting is so long.

Because through nights like this one I held her in my arms
my soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

Though this be the last pain that she makes me suffer
and these the last verses that I write for her.

Jumbled, Juicy June

Have you ever felt like when things are happening, it’s all happening at once? But when nothing happens, it’s nothing at all. Hardly find a balance, is it? My June falls under the former category.

The old you

Some conversation I had a couple days earlier made me go back and reread my old blog posts 2-3 years ago and, OH MY GOD, who was THAT lost girl? For once I wanted to tell her, GIRL, YOU GOTTA CHILL! As usual, your old writing makes you cringe, but at the same time it’s such a great reflection of who you once were at one point in time. That was too much. Too all over the place. Too serious. Too overthinking. Too worried. While that hasn’t changed and it probably never will as it’s a part of who I am, I do think I’ve gotten slightly better at it than before. I was not that lost in my career anymore. And definitely had gained more confidence and experience in what I do which is a great thing. Can’t say I’ve figured it all out though, but does anyone ever figure EVERYTHING out?

Funny how you’ve changed in JUST 3 years. I hardly look back and appreciate how far I’ve come. Day to day it doesn’t feel like I’ve done enough and I’m kind of staying still. But I guess it isn’t that way from perspective.

Man, I love my 30s so far. You’ve gained more confidence. You feel like you know your shit more. People come ask you for advice and opinion. Yet at the same time I whine about it and am scared of getting old. A walking contradiction, as always.

Anyway, I got a little carried away talking about the past. Let’s come back to the present. June was, wow, so all over the place, quite dynamic. Someone made me realize the other day how distracted I was these past couple of weeks. My mind was elsewhere almost all the time.

Identity Crisis

I don’t know how to best describe this so I’m just going to compare it from a business point of view. In business, we always need to set goals and objectives to achieve, right? Then we start setting action plans and tracking progress on how to achieve them. While in personal life, let’s say my goal is to have a long-term relationship, yet my action plan totally does NOT match my goal. Doing what I do, being involved in the kind of situation I am in now is not going to make me get what I want. This doesn’t make sense at all. Does this mean I don’t actually want that goal hard enough? Or I don’t know the best action plan to achieve it? Or business thinking can’t be applied to one’s personal romantic life? (Ugh, feelings and emotions).

So, how to fix this? I still don’t know. I guess I never knew either.

Did have a bit of an identity crisis and not sure who I have become. Why I have changed to be someone I never thought I would be, do something I never thought I would do. Talked to close friends and they all say I’m being TOO hard on myself again (Wait, didn’t someone just say she got better with overthinking things? I guess not, HA!), because nothing I have done is harmful for anyone else.

Takeaway for this? Never say never. It’s not about what you say you are, it’s about what you do, right?

And what is it that you keep having guys whom you judge to have no long term potential showing interests? (See, mismatch to the goal and objective!). In digital marketing, we call this unqualified leads. And nope, they can’t go down our customer journey funnel. No conversion occurred (Yep, I compare dating to customer journey, I do think it’s a similar process, no jokes).

Acceptance

Lots of things happened that I can’t get into details here. One thing I know, though, is I can take things as they are better now and am not as surprised or freak out as I once was. I lived my life in such a box, a pattern, for the longest time. Only recently that I’ve gotten slightly more chill, while don’t try to define everything too much.

And I’ve gotten better at accepting the fact that meeting right person at the wrong time means they are the wrong person. Back then I would have been devastated. It used to destroy me in my early 20s and took so long for me to get over it. I would have wailed and whined and gotten so upset and kept asking why, why, and why. But hey, after disappointment and heartaches, your heart got colder and more guarded, you got stronger. When nothing is in your control or power, then what can you do but accept it and move on? Just like many times you did in the past anyway.

Lifting

Ok let’s get out of my head and talk about something a bit more substantial here, like new PR on lifting! Again, day to day it feels like I haven’t made progress. But if you look at the timeline, my deadlift was 50 kgs back in October last year, and now in July I could do 100 kgs for 3 reps! I was so excited that I was repping 100 kgs. In February I could lift 100 kgs only once. It took a long time, I could have done better perhaps, but at least I’m going somewhere.

Squat has gotten better too. 75 kgs or 1.5X my bodyweight shouldn’t be too hard now. Lately my squat has been moving quite nicely, better than just a couple months ago. Love it.

Bench will always be my worst enemy as it’s extremely difficult for me to go up in weight for upper body. But finally I managed to bench 30 kgs for 3 reps. Another PR! It has always been my tiny goal to bench with 5 kgs big plates because it looks more badass (yeah…I’m serious). And I finally did that.

I love that I’ve gotten stronger. Love it even more to monitor and track progress (Digital marketing practice, ha!). So far it’s been linear. Why oh why it isn’t linear when it comes to your personal issues!?

[Edit: Then a few days after I wrote that “Progress is linear” I got proven that I was wrong. It really isn’t, either! See here

Swing dance

You know what, I FINALLY did it! Signed up for Lindy Hop level 1 Swing dance lesson at The Hop. Wow, I really enjoyed it too. Just hearing swing jazz music was enough to make my day. It was so much fun and I enjoyed this feeling of NOT knowing what I’m doing and challenging myself trying something new and fun! We haven’t done much in the past 2 lessons, just a couple steps and turns and movements. But I’ve loved it so far.

It’s such a great community at The Hop. It’s definitely more than just a dance studio but more like a friendly get together kind of place that brings people with same passion together. Teachers were so nice and friendly and fun. It’s also an international setting with quite a few foreigners from all ages. They have social night party after class on Saturday night too. My friends and I will probably join that and see how it goes.

Wrote longer than I thought I would have. Oh, also for some reason I’m getting addicted to getting massage and spa every week again! A bit guilty for that but I’ve felt quite stiff these days. Hmm, maybe lifting can make you stiff? I probably should do something about this, but haven’t read or explored how to fix this yet.

Hopefully I will be LESS distracted. Trying to get back on track and gain my focus back. Get my list of priorities out and just stick to it!

Those leftover emotional scars

This morning I just read this post “The art of pushing people away” from Sophie, one of the fashion bloggers I follow. Whoa. Wow. What a RIGHT timing. It’s been on my mind in the past 2 weeks and resonates to WhatsApp conversation with my friend last night! It’s such an open, honest post and I love how real it sounds, showing the struggle of late 20somethings. Hell, I’m in my 30s and STILL struggling with this.

While I can’t relate to everything she wrote, there are some things that really, really ring true. Let me quote some of her paragraphs here.

I think it’s safe to say when you hit your mid-late twenties you’ve dealt with enough car crashes in relationships and have had to grow a hardened protective layer. Like scar tissue. 

I think the problem is this. You’re single. You’re emotionally independent. And you think you’re fine. Because you are fine. But as soon as you start dating, you realise the scars that still exist.

I want to be adored, but I don’t want to let my guard down and let someone in. I want someone to care about me but I’m scared of the commitment. Are you still following? Because I sure as fuck am not. Who would want to date me? I’m so indecisive! But also, I am a firm believer if you have all of these questions and doubts, that they’re probably not the right person for you anyway.

Everyone says I have high standards – which yes, can totally be a good thing – but what if they are so high they are unattainable? That they don’t even really exist? And well, perhaps the only reason they exist is actually only for yourself, so that you can keep them so very high that it keeps others out of your perfect world where you have control over everything? Your standards become an impenetrable wall to keep anybody else out.

Okay, so I may have quoted half of her post. Damn.

But the thing is, my problem is quite the opposite of her. I’m not afraid to REALLY like someone. And I don’t seek for validation to find some guys to like me AT ALL. In fact, I couldn’t care less. If we hit it off, that’s cool. If we don’t, I never force anything to happen further. It’s easier than ever now to move on, sometimes too easy to disregard any kind of opportunities, when you have a better idea of what you want.

So what’s the issue? I can go on dates, no problem. Once in a while I even initiate meeting up with new people, because meeting new people can be cool! (Doesn’t happen a lot, though). BUT I seem to go on dates and think about all the reasons for this NOT working out. My default thinking is to immediately find flaws of the person and list all the reasons or probabilities of this not being the right one. There are other good things about the person, of course, there are also possibilities we might hit it off, but I don’t look at those.

The older I get, the easier I find talking to someone. I ALWAYS have something to talk about and can connect with people rather easily, especially when it comes to one-on-one conversation. I used to think it was very special when this happened and this person must have been The One. Now I know NOT to mistake the sign. It’s still and will always be really important for me; the ability to have conversation and connection. But it isn’t everything. (See why shit got so much harder now? Duh).

Another thing is, I’m not sure anymore if there’s anyone really looking for a relationship. For some reasons I feel like everyone just wants to have fun these days. No one really puts effort anymore, do they? I know I don’t. How could I expect other people to do so?

What else? I overthink as hell, trying to predict the future, painting all the scenarios and complication of this not being the right guy for me and I’d probably be better off alone, in my safe zone. I’m aware of it, and I REALLY hate how I’ve become. When I was in my early 20s, I was almost the exact opposite; wearing my heart on sleeves and approaching dates with excitement, curiosity, and nonchalant attitudes. I called it my experimenting phase. Even went for relationships without really giving it much thought. And now it’s all about thoughts, where did my feelings go?

It doesn’t help either that I’m quite satisfied with my life right now. My life IS good. It’s not perfect, but I’ve got shit to do while always try to learn something new and become a better, smarter person. I like my job now. I don’t know about passion and all that shit, but I always try to improve my knowledge in digital marketing. ALWAYS. I’ve got my fitness routine that I keep up and want to be better at it. I’m healthy. I’m not a billionaire, but I’m financially independent. I still don’t have debts. I can do whatever I want with no responsibilities much. I mean, what more could you ask for!? And I believe I’m scared to add someone in life as it could make things worse. Seriously though, I gave up hope long time ago to have someone and make my life better. Just be my supportive companion and don’t make shit worse. Even that, it’s still pretty hard to find.

People don’t really believe when I say I’m single. And many conclude that I am picky and have high standards (just like the quote above!). My world isn’t perfect, but I have control with my life for the most part. Adding someone into it is definitely going to change the dynamics. It’s likely that I’m scared of the uncertainty this person could bring. Ah, psychoanalyzing myself here.

Last night WhatsApp conversation with a friend was all about Love, and it made me feel so weird thinking about that word. Romantic love, what’s that? I haven’t felt it in the past YEARS. And really feel ok with not feeling it, this love thing. I told my friend how I could be slightly more emotionally dependent when falling in love, which I suppose natural when you love someone. But I hate that feeling and that word “Dependence” Oh please. Give me a break.

He called me a tough cookie. Not the first time I heard this. And I still don’t have the answer or solution to everything I’ve written here. Aware of it, though. Maybe this could be a good start, for a change, if I want to change, that is.

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