Back Stateside

Not shortly after my second post, I found out about an opportunity to work in a foreign country for an extended period of time. I enthusiastically volunteered. The gapped timing is due to my time away and the criticality and urgency of my work occupied much of my time and energy.

Fortunately, I am back with ample time to renew my domain, provider services, and so on. I do appreciate your advanced understanding of the situation. Although I will not bore you with technical details of my job, I did make note of life lessons from my time there that I will retroactively share with you.

Although there are things in foreign countries I believe we could emulate to improve the state of our country, I am eternally grateful of my return. More to follow!

Leveraging Like a Lifer

I have encountered a tweet that reinforced the importance of leveraging.

Lethargy. We’ve all faced it. It is the consequence of complacency in the convenient hands of unchallenged hedonism and self-indulgence. But what if lethargy resulted from hard work in the form of a “new money” mentality? Wouldn’t that defeat the purpose?

In this post, I will explain the power we have to overcome physical lethargy. Although his tweet covers a broad range of complacency that can be discussed, my focus will be on the physical side through fitness.

Is is a well-established fact that physical movement catalyzes changes in your body. It is also well known that resistance training enhances such benefits. However, what separates relapsers from lifers? Keep in mind that both relapsers (those who fall back in their old ways) and lifers (those who maintain their improved habits) both “did the right things” when in the process of reaching their goals. They both have likely followed certain workout regimen, ate right, hydrated themselves, recovered, and repeated.

So what sets them apart? MINDSET.

Relapsers view their goals as an end. If goals are viewed as ultimacy, complacency sets in because there is nothing left to pursue. That mindset removes a new set of potential challenges, thereby de-incentivize the drive to take risks and achieve more. That mindset also deludes itself into thinking that their respective bodies is also immune from atrophy. Both are wrong. Complacency kills. Always remember that.

Lifers view their goals as a preliminary means. Lifers always strive for perpetual betterment. Lifers are greedy in the sense that there are always rooms for improvement. That mindset converts goals into instrumental tools that maintain hustles the same way knives remain sharp. That mindset provides at a minimum the necessary grind to stimulate resistance. Both are correct because a maintenance workout for a 20-year-old can be used 50 years later, which functions as a new set of challenge.

Bottom line, view whatever physical challenges you encounter as obstacles to overcome. LEVERAGE THEM.  Nobody stops pacing right after they traverse at a 5k FINISH line. Why would you stop working out after you reached that goal weight? Same concept. The sky of challenges and benefits is the limit. Take my personal experience as an example.

One day, I took a long stroll into a convenience store. A relapser will view my arriving at the store as ultimacy. As a lifer, I view arriving at the store as a marker of the grind – walking several miles each way – that tested my will to follow through with the challenge that I imposed for its own sake. I leveraged the situation to test my mindset.

Upon successful completion, I was awarded with a humorous discovery. When you see it, you’ll know it.

Which one are you? A relapser or a lifer? If you consider yourself a relapser, may this inspire YOU to be a lifer.

On that note, I will go do some pushups.

5 Benefits of Living in the Desert

Having lived in a remote desert town for almost two years, I’ve come to appreciate its own quirks that do not exist in the city. If you end up living in an arid paradise or consider moving to this area, consider the following possibilities that may encapsulate your soul.

1. More Homemade Cooking

Nothing screams isolation like limited options for novel culinary adventures. Be it due to distance from lush vegetations or higher cost of transporting ingredients, living in the remote desert town means less outing options. If you still wish to feed yourself, you must “fend for yourself” by preparing your own meals. Although food is more expensive here than in a more coastal area, it’s still cheaper to cook your own since you’re still avoiding the added cost of paying cooks and waitresses. Except here, the restricted option further adds urgency to home cooked meals.

2. Beautiful Scenery

You must see it to believe it. Wait until nightfall where you see clear sky under the starry night, free from urban pollution. Need I say more?

#SentimentalSunday to a nice, cool, much-needed #hike in #JoshuaTreeNationalPark. ?

A post shared by Etta Kong (@conqueretta) on

3. Improved Driving Skills (and Confidence!)

Having lived in a city prior to the move, the maximum duration I spent traversing the freeway to reach the final destination lasted 45 to 50 minutes. Where I currently live, I must drive at least 50 minutes each way to reach an “urban town” of approximately 50,000 residents, 90 minutes each way to reach a miniature city of over 100,000, and at least 3 hours each way to reach a major city (pending traffic) of over 1 million.

This means planning a trip to enjoy urban vibrance in unfamiliar areas requires maintained bearing at the face of detours. Furthermore, it also requires familiarizing rest stops. That last thing anyone wants is an uncomfortable driver.

4. Explore Nature

One of the reasons I revived my blog is to cover my future hiking adventures, even if it means revisiting old routes. The number of possible trails to hike is so abundant, I considered extending the contract of my job just to allow extra time.

Contrary to the popular opinion, the desert is not a flat plain. It has a lot more to offer than what it initially lets on. It brings forth a variety of life forces that subsist on dry heat and is found nowhere else. The geographical structure of the desert forces you to adjust your survival skills during your hike, making you more attuned to the fluctuating temperatures that this climate offers within the day.

It teaches you adaptation.

5. Peace and Focus

When you live in a remote area, you will be physically removed from the urban entertainment. Even for an introvert like me who enjoys staying home most of her time, such isolation is akin to mild withdrawal symptom from the urban energy under which I was conditioned to operate.

Surviving the isolation required a shift in my focus from, for example, studying at a coffee shop and playing in an orchestra to becoming one with the nature through hiking and camping. As manmade distractions gradually dissolve, my mind gradually finds peace with the help of what the peaceful desert has to offer. The desert’s minimalist design affords me peaceful revelations I could not have conceived if I had stayed in the city. For that, I am eternally grateful.