Purple for Lupus Awareness

A couple years back, my youngest nephew had this tiny mosquito bite-shaped bump on his face. Being that it was the dead of August, my family and I shrugged it off as a side effect of summer. As time went on, we realized that the mosquito bite got bigger and rounder, thus a trip to the dermatologist. After some tests, the doctor diagnosed him with discoid lupus, or skin lupus.   Continue reading

FitBit Chronicles: Part II

Two weeks ago, one of my friends sent a mass text about walking a nature trail. I was reluctant to reply because I am not much of an outdoorsy person. The last time I walked a trail was way back in 4th grade on a school trip. I don’t even remember the name of the trail – I think it was in Wissahickon (another section of Philadelphia). Anyway, what I do remember was that we took the trail a day after a rainstorm and everything was muddy. We walked on muddy cliffs with tall trees all around and some of us slipped and fell numerous times – even with boots on. Since then, I haven’t really thought about walking trails until last year when the feeling of walking through nature in the summer crept in.

Back to 2016, the nature trail my friend wanted to go to was close by in Tinicum Township (near the Philly International Airport). The place: John Heinz Wildlife Refuge. I have rode by this place so many times throughout the years and never went inside! For some reason, I thought it was like going to the zoo where I had to pay admission or something. But no, it is free. And they have many different visitor programs like fishing, canoeing, photography and more.

Before I met up with my friends, I looked at the website and noticed the trail was 10 miles long. The first thing I thought was: I wish I was in a FitBit challenge today. Sad isn’t it? 😄 . Then I thought: Oh goodness, I probably won’t be able to get up in the morning. That’s a lot of walking! Regardless of this fact, I walked the trail.

The trail was so peaceful. It was a sunny (but chilly) Sunday afternoon with very limited people there. We crossed a bridge with bench seating and binoculars over Darby Creek which was nice. Speaking of the creek – oh the views were beautiful!

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Accomplishments

Walking the trail was great! Like in my school trip, there was a rainstorm the night before but this time we were on level ground (no muddy cliffs). The trail had lots of twigs, rocks and gravel, as expected. But the main thing was that I did not get tired of the walk until maybe the last mile! Maybe because I was embracing my surroundings? Or was it my self-made FitBit training? 😉 I think the FitBit has helped me with my endurance walking for long periods of time. I still need work on things and have an actual exercise regimen instead of randomly working out.

After the trail, I was tired but could have did just a bit more walking if I rested some. During the whole trail, we did not stop! Next time I go, I will take short breaks and take more pictures. When I checked my FitBit stats, I realized we only walked four miles instead of the 10 I thought we did.

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I did about 3,000 total steps prior to and after the trail but I like my stats for this day! I hope to come back to this trail when the weather gets steadily warmer. What a nice hidden gem in the city!

Disclaimer: I did not receive any compensation or contact from FitBit, John Heinz Wildlife Refuge or Wissahickon Valley Trail on this review. This is my exclusive personal experience at John Heinz and using the FitBit.

FitBit Chronicles: Part I

Yes, I am one of those crazy walkers with an armband counting my steps. I am that one who changes FitBit bands to match my outfit. I admit – I am a FitBitter.

Last year, I wrote a post about visiting the local trails in Philadelphia and had hopes of getting a FitBit to help me walk more. Well, I did get a FitBit Flex a couple of months later and haven’t turned back since. In the beginning, I was super excited but a little nervous of whether this investment was worth it to buy. As time moved on, I realized that it is truly beneficial! I would have never pushed myself to make 10,000 or more steps a day if I didn’t have my FitBit. Continue reading

5 Reasons to Drink Infused Water

When I was younger, I very rarely drank water. I loved juice and sodas and practically had it all.the.time. During college, I developed my coffee addiction (thanks Java City :-/ ) and since then, I have this seemingly urgent need to have a cup a day. I’m not as bad as others…although when I miss a couple days, my head reminds me with a splitting migraine. Continue reading

Behind The Paint: My Experience with Art Therapy

I have always loved psychology. In college, I took numerous courses for science and elective credits – Psychology 101 and 102, youth psychology, growth and development, sociology, consumer behavior, etc, etc. I think it is fascinating to know about the mind, behavior and emotions and how they all interlink with each other in our lives.

I realized a few things about myself and others last Saturday when I went to a Painting with a Twist event. Yes, Painting with a Twist. I’ll explain.

For anyone who doesn’t know what Painting with a Twist is, you attend a venue and are taught how to paint a featured painting for a few hours. The “twist” is bringing your own beer/wine/liquor and drinking it while painting.

Even though I had a slightly difficult time arriving (finding a parking space that doesn’t cost a billion dollars on a Halloween Saturday night near South Street, for example), I had a good time once I settled in. The canvas, palette, brushes and apron anxiously awaited me to test them out. I hadn’t painted in a while so I was curious on how it would turn out and if I would follow directions closely in hopes of replicating the painting.
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The instructors, Hillary and Ann, were very helpful amongst a big crowd. At the start of the session, Hillary suggested that we “relax, have fun” and “use our imagination.” It was the usual cliche terms I expected to hear but little did I know that the more I painted, those words rang true in my subconscious mind.

Unfortunately, I began second-guessing myself when I compared my work to the featured one. At one point, I asked if my sunset was too dark. The instructors sincerely said “no, it’s fine. I actually really like it.” Wow, why did I need that reassurance as an artist?

Somehow that reassurance boosted my confidence and I began to be in my own creative world. No, the two-ounces of Merlot and the four-ounces of Verdi I partook did not give me any type of buzz. I was actually in my authentic creative zone where I felt free with every new color brushed on the canvas. I was like a big kid with a brand-spanking new coloring book awaiting for that colored wax to hit the pages!

There were some people who never really got into “the zone,” but rather compared themselves to others or gave up in frustration. 😦 Some others were extremely meticulous with their paintings, making sure things were absolutely perfect (or getting their money’s worth).

Here’s my result:

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I really like my painting! The picture doesn’t do much justice, of course. Days later, while browsing the Web, I discovered the term “art therapy.” I read about it and boom – it hit me that the Painting with a Twist event was a form of art therapy! No wonder the concept became so popular!

What is Art Therapy?
According to The Art Therapy Blog:
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Yes, I really do feel that everyone in the group learned something about themselves (good or bad) whether admitted or not. Here is what I learned about me:

* Perfectionism: I had a perfectionistic attitude in the beginning. I made sure I followed every step the instructor told us. I wanted it to be RIGHT. But then, I stumbled on one step of the session and became a bit flustered. After this, I realized this is my interpretation, not an exact replication and relaxed about the mistake.

* Fear of Failure: There was a permanence once the paint hit the canvas. It made me hesitant and a little afraid I was going to mess up. A hint of fear of failure came to play for a while. But once I became familiar with the patterns, colors and brush strokes, I became free with little thought to perfection.

* Confidence and Risk Taking: The slight bit of reassurance from the instructor somehow touched me and my confidence was boosted. In my creative zone, I felt confident enough to go a half-step further with my painting. The original painting had a man and girl looking at the sunset. For some reason, I had this need to be different and a little daring. That is why the sailboat and man is on the bottom left. 🙂

Other Things I’ve Learned
Art therapy is probably the reason why the adult coloring book made a big boom this year. If I wanted to color, I would not mind buying a Dollar Tree kids coloring book. But now there’s a “dignified” (for the lack of a better word) coloring book for adults with the same intention. Everyone is stressed about something, especially living in these crazy times. Going back to childhood temporarily with a coloring book gives us a slight escape to the days of no worries.

Bottom line life lessons: Be willing to be flexible. Let go and be free. Make mistakes. Perfectionism creates stress. Don’t compare someone else’s vision with yours – make your own.

Since this event (less than a week ago), I have been itching to paint some more! I have two blank canvasses and a paint set with brushes that has been sitting in a corner of a room for a while. I am raring to go, possibly painting a flower or autumn leaf. Whatever it is, it will be another freeing experience. 🙂

Summertime Motivation: Philly Trails

Hello everyone!!! Geez, I can’t believe it’s been a little over a month since the last post! Summertime is always a busy season for me and I am sure it is for you as well. I appreciate all of you who follow the blog, especially the newbies during my mini hiatus. 🙂

During the past few months, I’m noticing that more and more people have FitBits. If you have been stuck under a rock, a FitBit is a fitness tracker for tracking steps, calories, heartrate, sleep and much more. So what’s with the FitBit craze? Maybe…

  • The curiosity of the number of steps taken per day?
  • The weight loss effects?
  • The motivation of exercise?
  • The “friendly” competition it features?

Well, all of the above appeals to me!
Continue reading

J’apprends Français

To spare the 30 seconds of you copying and pasting to Google Translate, the title says “I’m learning French.” Really, I am learning French! That’s why I’ve been a little missing-in-action lately. I’m so excited about it because I’m really catching on to the language!

I’m presently taking a free class for it but before taking the class, I was trying to learn some on my own. I found two programs (with corresponding apps) that taught multiple languages in a game-like format. If you want to learn French, Spanish, Italian, Chinese, Russian, English, or whatever language I suggest trying these:

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Mango Languages
Besides the app and the website, did you know there’s a way to take full lessons for free? Yup. Just use your local library card!

The local library system here – The Free Library of Philadelphia – is huge and they are part of a program where library cardholders can sign up with Mango Languages through the freelibrary.org site. Pretty cool huh? Check out findmango.com to see if your local library system is included.

I like how Mango Languages gives out cultural references related to the language between answers. Plus, the sections have lively graphics and are categorized by what you would like to know at the moment – conversations, food, around town and more.

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Duolingo
I LOVE this app! It’s in all app stores for free. You can learn multiple languages at one time, earn game life hearts and points. If you get enough points, you can dress up the little Duolingo owl or earn extra turns in the game. While you’re having fun, you are learning step by step common phrases and words in whatever language you choose.

I really like how it alternates between written, oral, audio and visual learning in each level. Also, after each question/answer sequence, there is a comments section for users to talk about an answer or ask grammatical questions to other experienced users. Very helpful because you’re learning in a team format, not neccesarily by yourself.

There are other free apps out there but I chose these because they are interactive, fun and full of pictures which help me, the visual learner. ☺ Currently I’m using these and the Pimsleur approach which is awesome!! So far its been almost two months and I caught on to a lot of French words and phrases.

Did you know that there are health benefits to learning a language and being bilingual? Here’s a handy infographic from Lifehack to explain:

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Do you know any other free language apps or services?