Kwong Adventure


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#ChallengeYourself

Sticking to even a small challenge can strengthen the mind. Do it enough times consistently and barriers can be broken. I did not first realize how power the mind could be until I did the 10 day vipassana meditation. The point of where you think sitting on your but for 12 hours is tough to feeling and seeing the benefits of silent meditation is such a rewarding experience. Somethings that we do will push our mind to the edge but if we can vision the end of the light when we think about giving up we can begin to realize that we build up our will power to conquer anything.

I saw an article from a friend and it said an average single mother lived off of 45$ per week. It was a boy named Quinn who the research and challenged people to try to live off 45 dollars for 5 days. Reading the article below really inspired me to do this challenge because I wanted to experience the choices and feelings that I would have to make this budget.

http://calgaryherald.com/news/local-news/could-you-live-on-a-44-food-budget-calgary-kid-issues-challenge-for-charity

As I was planning my meals it seemed easy but I forgot it is was a “single mom,” meaning there was another mouth to field. To start off the challenge I grabbed this weeks flyers and started circling food that was a good deal and started tallying up the dollars. My 1 extra addition to the challenge was that I had to eat healthy, I couldn’t just buy a 24 pack of ramen noodle for 3 bucks… hahaha.

I challenge everyone who reads this post to do this challenge or something different. Keep the challenge bite size at first if you don’t do many or these. Start building the will power.


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2014 Year End Review

Wow 2014 went by fast but when I look back at all that was accomplished I can’t help but smile and think about how great the year has been. There were some failures as well but without any failures how can a person grow? Here is my 2014 year end review:

Successes

1) I found my diamond (Aya), someone who makes me happy and someone who is worth sharing my life with. Since I have met her I have traveled alone a few times but the trip doesn’t seem as colorful or joyful without her. I am excited because she will be coming to LA in 2015 (this will be on the success list for 2015).

2) Signing up with “Live Your Legends” passion builder course which is a step by step process to find what makes you happy and where your passion is. Everyone has a passion but are we aware of what it is and are we living it day in and day out. This is the one X factor that drives people. This course is set up to ask yourself certain questions to yourself and answer them honestly. The questions are as simple as what would you do for free?, What kind of magazines/ books do you read? What are your core values? Understand what your fears are and why they are holding you back? I am on my way of testing a few things out and 2015 will be a year of chartering new territories.

3) Being able to take time out for myself, whether it is time to read, write, reflect, meditate, this is time for the mind to be creative and explore. This time is important to me because without it, the mind is chaotic and running in a rat race.

4) Realizing that I was living in the “How to” state which was restricting me to try new things because I was trying to figure out all the steps before proceeding into something new. More times then not I would not even move forward because I didn’t figure out how it was all going to unfold. Just by changing the How to What is more empowering and is an action. How is more of a brainstorming mode nothing gets done when thinking about the how.

Failures

1) Did not get the Oman tourist website started. Me and a partner got as far as talking to webdesigners to get a website going but it did not seem like a passion for us because things kept sliding and no work was getting done. I realized that there will always be ideas of starting a business but the one that should be pursed is something that fits around my passion/ values. This what will keep a business driving forward because it is something that you love and what to leave an impact.

2) Did not make an impact on peoples lives. I signed up for a few organization in Oman  volunteer but did not get any call backs and I did not follow up. The more that I travel the world I feel like the more humble I become and realize how fortunate I am. It makes me want to help more but with an impact. Finding a ways to create and make an impact will be on my 2015 agenda.

BRING ON 2015

2015 Motto: create and make an impact


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2 yr Relfection

When I think about the 2 year journey I must say it has been such a rewarding personal experience. Being in a whole new environment really changes a persons perspective, and it doesn’t get notice till you come back that you realize how much you have changed. You start to see what was normal living before and after the move to a foreign place. The rewarding part of this journey was being able to get grounded and realize what is important to me in this world. When you don’t have a lot of the things you are use to seeing/ doing/ craving you have time to reflect, slow down, let go of things (work load) realize the impermanence of objects, and building relationships.

Realization #1: the rat race
I have done a lot of things on my own and accomplished many goals and bucket items. But I realize that these individual things will keep on piling up or change which makes it never ending to accomplish. If I didn’t become aware of this think of the perpetual cycle that would continue, we could go thru life not knowing and doing what is most important to us. I noticed that the first few years of my career I was doing above and beyond my normal job and would work at nights and weekends. It hit me when I moved to Oman that this is a never ending cycle and I need to put myself first and also do what is most important during the work times and the rest will have to wait. Time management and prioritizing is very important.

Sometimes we need a little clarity to realize the journey…. I took is picture because it reminded me that life is a journey not full of completing tasks.

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Realization #2: dreaming
The next big realization is the key to having relationships that will allow you to dream, talk, discuss things other than work. Not only does it open up mind, but it helps get ideas out from the brain storming and into action. My friend and I were talking about ideas in Oman and having a website that shows where restaurants are. As a new comer to Oman I felt the lack there of restaurants having website or even opening hours. I discovered places thru friends, driving around, running thru neighborhoods etc. in my mind this would be a good business because tourism is going to be a major growth for Oman in the coming years. People need to eat and they want to try local food. This was the first time I have ever thought about starting my own business and becoming an entrepreneur. This is when I realized the ability to think more horizontally instead of vertically. Growing and expanding the knowledge to unknown areas brings a whole new excitement level. Knowing that an idea could help others and be profitable at the same time sounds great. This is when I started to take more time for myself to reflect and dream of possibilities. Sometimes I feel like I am in a hamster wheel churning away and yet I don’t even know what direction I am going. If I didn’t come to oman I may have still been in that wheel.

Realization #3: meditation
The power of meditation has brought a whole new light to my life. I always thought it was a religious ritual but it is universal and more of a technique to purify the mind, kind of like yoga. Like in ashtanga yoga, you are focused on breathing and doing the movements in a nice flow sequence. You are in the moment, and dedicating the practice to something (at least I am). The biggest impact that I realized is the mind calmness after a yoga practice and meditation retreats. You become more aware of your body, reactions, emotions and surroundings. It really puts into perspective how much our lives are consumed with other desire like internet, materialistic things, phones, wealth etc. we are living for the future based on an assumed timeline that may or may not be there. We are all here on borrowed time. So when I think about the last two sentences, it made me think about why am I so consumed with saving for retirement, making money, work, etc because at the end if the day we have a finite life and it is up to us to decide how and who we want to spend it with. The family is very important because they will always be there for you when you need and we have spent most of our lives together. Family is a value and it can be taken in a couple different ways. Of course there is my family, but it can also mean a sense of community or group with common interests. Like in Oman, majority of my co workers became like family even though most of our interactions were at work. I think without realizing it, I have the skills to bring people together and build a community.

Realization #4: understanding thy self
In oct 2013 me and my best friend decided to take on a life coach. What was planned to have a business coach because we had an idea and did not know how to start turned into life coaching sessions. One of the biggest faults a person can make about starting a business is starting something you are not passionate about. When times are tough, passion is what gets you thru because you live and die by it. I went on this journey to start from the inner core to understand myself before taking ideas into a business. Let’s face it, we all have business’s ideas but how many do we really act on and which one do you choose. When you know yourself (values and goals) then it become easier to say yes and no to the ideas. Passion is something unique to a person and I believe it is the fire inside that ignites the goodness of a person. When you are doing your passion, you hit your core values and this is the unstoppable element that cannot be taught in a MBA program. Finding your core values first and then find out how to live them. My core values are:
1) family 2) fun 3) inspire. The key is to narrow it down to the top 3 and live those because there are hundreds of values (prioritize).

Realization #5: helping others
After traveling to many countries and seeing how others live, you can really feel and see how lucky we really are to live in North America. The things we would consider a waste could be a luxury to someone else (a glass of water, clothes to keep warm, shoes etc). At my work we were saving bottle caps because they can be salvaged for money and the organization would take collect bottle caps and use the revenue to buy wheel chairs for the disabled. Sometimes I think we are so fixed on consuming things that we forget that there is a greater purpose for us. It is kind of ironic that marketers call us consumers. If you think about it our economy and lively hood relies on our demand to consume things. But imagine what life would be like if we didn’t have all these consumable things, maybe we wouldn’t face a shortage on resources, psychological, relationship issues. My uncle told me that as you get older you begin to understand what is really important in life. I guess that is what they call maturing… Hahaha when we finish college we thrive on being independent, exploring ourself and the world. But at some point we need to narrow the focus and truly live the way we want. This is where I am at in my stage of life, and doing good is an area I want to focus on.

Realization #6: sense of community
I did realize the power of having a community until I came to oman. The feeling of having “family” when working abroad helps big time and it is a reminder of how good people really are. When you do things together there are no judgements just fun, laugh, eating, activities etc. I believe the expats are this way is because they are the type of people that can handle expat assignments. At times there may be feelings of loneliness but the community is there. As a community, I had my coworkers, salsa friends, Latin families, and friends to keep my family spirit alive. These people are true friends who are always willing to be there when you need and vice versa. This is something I never really established in the us when I was here, probably because I was too busy in the rat race.


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Day 3 Vipassana – India

Yahoo the last day, I could not stand another day here. The sleeps seem to be worse than the previous nights. Today we meditated for the morning and then we were able to break the silence and talk to others. It is good to meet others and understand what brought them on this meditation journey. There was only 1 other foreigner, he was from the us and was here for a refresher. Like me he was hoping to regain the practice and focus on meditation. At the end of the day the instructor said good bye and then he changed into slacks and dress shirt with an ID badge hahaha. It seemed like he was heading to work. After spending 3 days with the instructor I just envision him as a Buddha and dedicated 100 percent of his time to meditation. But it goes to show that it is meant to be used in our everyday lives.

Here is picture of the court yard area

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Day 2 Vipassana – India

We start the vipassana meditation which is more that just focusing on the breath. At this point we should be able to scan the body parts and recognize any sensations. It sounds easy as I write this but I know that being able to resist the mind from wanting to quit or wander or changing body positions is a tough. I don’t know how I survived a 10 day after only 1 day here, I think part of it is the environment. It was really hard for me to focus when it was so hot during the evenings and the mosquitoes. My ankles looked like I had chicken pox from the mosquitoes.

Have two meals a day felt good, your stomach felt relaxed and it just goes to show that I can eat less especially when there is a set schedule and no distractions. Think about when you drive on a street, all the billboards and and restaurant signs everywhere. The kind is over stimulated and thinking I want food. When we think food our stomach thinks oh I can eat right now. I think marketing people know what makes people urge for something. But with vipassana it gives you the choice and awareness of the mind to make a conscious decision. This is the benefits of meditation that we begin to stop reacting and choose love and compassion in a situation.

Quote: with every difficulty comes opportunity.


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Day 1 Vipassana – India

With no hesitation I wanted to do another meditation retreat before going back to work. I had the choice of going to Spain or India. For some reason I felt daring enough to want to go to India, and it is close and the flights are fairly cheap. We all arrived the evening before the first day and did a couple hours of group meditation. From the time we first sat down I had a feeling that it will be a tough 3 days. We sat in a group hall with only ceiling fans and the temperature was 28 degrees c with Mosquitos buzzing around. I had a horrible sleep (maybe 3 hours) because my dorm room had no breeze of fresh air so the ceiling fan just circulates the air and I was drenched in sweat. It didn’t help at all that I had mosquito bites that were itchy all night.

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The previous nights fiasco did not set a good mood for today because I wanted a comfortable place to sleep and meditate. Here was our schedule (same as my precious meditation retreat)

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The main difference is that our 3rd meal consists of only tea which was at 5:30. I was really happy to tune out from reality and focus on meditation, Because I felt I had lost the inner peacefulness I had gained from the last 10 day retreat almost 1 year ago. To add another element of distraction there was construction going on in the area so noises from jack hammering concrete, hammering wooden floors together, people talking outside it was a challenging meditation practice. It was easy to get back into the meditation when you come to these retreats, I think it because mentally this is what I am hear for and nothing else. Being as old students there is not much instruction, mainly a refresher on the technique and awareness of our body. Today’s focus is monitoring the breath coming in and out of the nose any feelings felt on the upper lip. 12 hours of breathing and accepting that there are distractions but bring the focus back to the breath going in and out if the nostrils. This is a simple yet powerful technique. The point here is that we are sharpening the mind’s awareness without reacting. We may feel an itch, or sweat drop on the fore head or noise from the construction but the task is to bring the mind back to the breath. The lesson from today is accept the feelings, distractions and remain focused on the breath.


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Dare to Dream

I have had 4 days off since my last day if work and wow has my mind ever become more open. I have so much freedom and time that I can make time for the things that are important to me. I was able to make Aya breakfast, meet her for dinner, pick her up to and from work, etc. I would drop Aya off at work in the mornings and hang out at the coffee shop for a few hours to reflect and dream. Visions of my dreams were popping up in my head which I have not had happen before. I honestly think it is due to me having no work obligations except for making sure my moving stuff is taken care of. I guess you could say I am fully checked out of work. When I was on my two weeks I felt like I still had to check emails so that who I came a back it would be easier to catch up. Just knowing I had work when I come back set the mindset that the work pile is there. Some of my dreams are
– opening a cross fit gym
– collecting bottle caps for charity
– life coach for college students
– open a fashion Store with Aya
– meditation/ wellness instructor at Oxy Long Beach
– consulting as an optimization engineer for oil companies
– publish a short book on my life experiences.

The juices are flowing now it is time to tour that into action. It is being able to create something new that excites me about these dreams. It is time to start exploring so of these other options because I feel that this is where my passion is and I can create my own dream, not someone else’s.

Time to start Turning dreams into reality.