Beginning this year, just like what a majority of us would do, I set some new year resolutions as well. But for a change this time, I took it seriously and set some realistic ones. There were only three things on my list, and I promised myself to try to follow them at least for the next six months. Well, July is here, and I think I have earned the qualification to talk about it, eh?
Firstly, I decided to make some diet changes. Recently I discovered that age is catching up with me by bringing more and more medications into my cabinet. I did not want to overwhelm myself by throwing myself into a strict diet regime that I might end up giving up anyway. I remember attending a health seminar sometime back where a certified gym trainer told me that you never have to eliminate desserts or snack food completely off your diet; provided, you be in a calorie deficit daily. Well, that was what I did. I added more fruits and vegetables into my diet and focused on my protein intake. This way, I could still enjoy a good lunch consisting of a small portion of rice with a large portion of curry chicken and a larger portion of stir-fried cabbages. And let us not forget the small bowl of low-fat ice cream that I absolutely devoured after lunch! With portion control and attention to a calorie deficit, I managed to get into better shape while still being able to eat my favourite foods.
Secondly, I challenged myself to climb Mount Kinabalu! This is sort of an extension of the earlier point. From the seminar, I also learned that a good diet plan must be complemented by a good workout plan. I knew that I have always enjoyed hiking hills around my place. So, when a group of friends invited me on an expedition to Mount Kinabalu, I pounced on the opportunity. I trained hard with my friends. I informed people about the plan simply so that I would not be influenced by fear or laziness to back out. And finally, 3 months later, I was ready with a lighter body and steadier state of mind! Of course, the climb was extremely challenging. But I owe it to my wonderful fellow hikers who kept me motivated all the way. And trust me when I tell you, the satisfaction of completing a climb is unparalleled. I started hiking because I saw it as a good workout. Of course, I am nowhere near Sir Edmund Hillary, but I can assure you that now, it is an activity that is extremely close to my heart that brings me the high of an adrenaline rush and also the calmness of meditation at the same time.
Moving on, as the final resolution, I decided to spend more time with my aging parents. In the last couple of years, I was very focused on my career as I had goals to achieve. For some reason, I have always felt like time was running out. But one day, I was having lunch with my parents, and I noticed my father’s hand trembling as he was enjoying his favourite soup. It was then that I actually saw the old man in my all-time hero. Sometimes, we get a little too occupied with growing up that we forget that our parents are growing old. I decided to visit them more often and spend more quality time with them. They were really excited to see me every time I drop by unannounced. Believe me or not, time started slowing down for me! Well, not technically, but I started feeling calmer because deep down, I was feeling more fulfilled than ever. It was then I realized that at times, we chase after superficial things because we have a void in our hearts, and we have not discovered the right ways to fulfil our emotional, physical and spiritual needs.
These three changes have greatly contributed to my current state of mind which is happy and peaceful. To be honest, at this point in my life, I value calmness more than excitement. This way, I feel like I always have the right energy to focus on everything that is going on in my life including having the maturity to tackle the unrelenting challenges that never fail to visit me from time to time. As Albert Einstein says, “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” Thus, from the bottom of my heart, I wish the same for all the wonderful people reading this. Wishing you a great second half of 2022 ahead!
Dr. Sarala Thulasi Palpanadan
Centre for Language Studies (CLS)
Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia (UTHM)