Martial Arts Meets Dance: My Shorinji Kempo-Salsa Fusion Performance

I recently paired up with one of the students at the Shorinji Kempo dojo I help teach at for what may be the very first fusion performance of this particular martial art with Salsa dancing. It was purely for entertainment at a Shorinji Kempo event at a party, and we did accomplish just that.

This was also our first time performing the routine in front of an audience. And needless to say, I watched back the video and immediately knew where we made mistakes, even if no one else noticed in the audience (I also kept it a secret that I had a ribcage injury when I did this number).

The sensation is actually similar to that of when I published my book. Even though I was proud of the fact that I published a book I was still nervous and self-conscious knowing that it wasn’t exactly a pulitzer prize-winning piece. I’m also not the best martial artist or dancer in the world either.

BUT both times, I did something unique. My book is not like other books and this performance is not like other performances. When you do something different, you don’t know how it will be received by the rest of the world. But if you don’t ever put it out there, it will never be given the chance to be shared. And it’s alright if you don’t want to share it with the rest of the world, but don’t not do something because of what others may think of it.

So I keep telling myself that it’s alright to feel nervous or insecure sometimes but do it anyways, be bold and brave in spite of the fear. Make this life count – do something.

-M

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Film Review on Wonder, Book Review on The Best Day Ever, and How They Helped Me Get Out of a Funk

This week I went to go watch the film Wonder on release day and completed the book club read of the month The Best Day Ever (by Kaira Rouda).

I personally don’t mind doing a lot of activities solitarily or with other people as it’s apparent from a lot of my blog postings where I read a lot (but do enjoy discussing the books with the book club ladies) or travel by myself (but also enjoy visiting others or traveling with others sometimes). So while I did ask around to see if anyone wanted to go watch Wonder with me, I did end up enjoying the film on my own as well as the book. And I found these two seemingly very different stories therapeutic.

We all strive to be perfect or want to at least look it, even though we know no one can be [perfect].

Screen Shot 2017-11-22 at 5.43.51 PMWith Wonder, it’s very evident that the story is about a boy who has a facial difference he was born with (Treacher Collins Syndrome) but I was pleasantly surprised to see that the film actually does go into the back stories of the other characters in his life. And while it is heartbreaking to see him go through what he goes through because of the obvious, the way the film shows perspective of the other characters’ lives it’s a lesson that it’s beyond life that revolves around you—- even when things are hard for you, it doesn’t mean other people have it any easier because we all have things we have to deal with.

Screen Shot 2017-11-22 at 5.46.40 PMIn reading the novel The Best Day Ever it was also surprising to know that it was written by a female author but from the perspective of a psychopathic male character. While some of the things this character thought was repulsing, I couldn’t help but be reminded that there are people out there who think these thoughts. And yet, this person thinks that he is “perfect” because he is in denial of his problems.

So may these pieces be a reminder to not be deceived by the facade of things and being able to accept and acknowledge your imperfections.

I admittedly strive to paint this image of fabulousness of myself in sharing things I do in these blog posts. But like everyone else I am vulnerable and feel pain. Even if I appear strong enough to get back up, the pain is still there. While some may perceive that as a sign of weakness, I believe that there is strength in continuously getting back up in spite of the pain and also being able to be kind to others through empathy of understanding or acknowledging other people’s pain/hardships.

Be kind to others and to yourself,

-M

Book and Film Review: The Zookeeper’s Wife

The book club ladies and I read The Zookeeper’s Wife for the month of October. And at the meeting for discussing the book, a lot of the ladies who had seen the film said that the film was better than the book (which doesn’t happen very often). So I decided to put that theory to the test and watched the film myself.

The verdict? Overall, I did like the film better too.

Visually – The book did provide actual photos of the Zabinski Family as well as the zoo animals whereas the film did not have any archived footage or photos even at the end. However, the film did make it easier to follow the different guests that stayed since it does tend to become difficult for me to keep up with too many characters in the written form. I did wish that the book would include a map of where everything was which would have been more helpful.
Historically – Luckily, both the book and the film were done in the style of having things happen in a chronological order. However, the book does have less of a progressing story feel to it in comparison to the film. This is where a lot of the ladies from the book club felt like it was hard to get through the book at times since it had a more history book or documentary feel to it. Though I will say that reading the book did give me a good understanding of what was going on in the film. So I’m still glad I read the book.

With the recent natural disasters that have been happening all over the country lately, it has been a sad reminder that whether it’s a natural disaster or a war innocent lives are taken and endangered, both human and non-human animals. And it is always heartwarming to hear about the selfless kindness and courageous acts to help others that exist amidst such tragedy.

-M

Back to School Grown-Up Style

I recently decided to take advantage of a sale that one of my favorite online websites for shopping ModCloth had and purchased the following without knowing at the time I would be able to put together this “Back to School” look:

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But between the navy blue blazer and the plaid skirt it screams preppy. I wore my previously purchased pair of preppy brown shoes with button embellishments.

I am also a fan of lounging around in my robes and night gowns when I’m at home. And this one I got is good enough to work as a  bathrobe post-showers which I think is a perfect purchase for college dorm-bound kids:

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(The rose embellishment definitely worked for both looks!)

For those high school kids getting ready for the homecoming dance or formal dances to come this school year, I recently purchased a dress on amazon for a economical price of $63.09 and got it shortened to have it be floor length for my 5ft. 5in. height + 3 inch heels to wear to a banquet dinner:

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Click here if you want to purchase the one I wore

(Above photo courtesy of fellowShorinji Kempo kenshi and blogger Finnworld)

I liked what I got for the price but I admittedly did feel like the padding on the breast that it came with was a bit much (though the person who shortened the dress for me forgot to take the breast pads out so I left them in when I wore the dress to the event). I did pair the dress with matching earrings and lacy black gloves.

I suppose this was a celebratory event since I found out a few days later that I did pass my 5th degree black belt exam which coincided with the timing of my birthday that same week. So the dress was this year’s version of my “birthday suit” tradition I have!

It has also been a year now since I published my book amongst other milestones & anniversaries of other related/non-related accomplishments in my life so far. So here’s a reminder to celebrate by simply being proud because it’s perfectly alright to be proud of one’s accomplishments no matter how small or big.

-M

Usage for Decorative Boxes

You may often come across these types of decorative storage boxes that are sold when you go into a store. And I personally have become quite fond of finding different uses for them so I would like to share:

1. Wine Boxes for flowers

I first did this for my mother’s birthday when I had bought some tulips for her at the farmers market and brought them into a restaurant with me. At the time, I had double layered plastic bags and filled it with a bit of water for the flowers, securing the hem of the bags onto the edge of the box opening with a rubber band. But as you can see above, you can also place a glass bottle en lieu of that as well.

2. Photo boxes for toiletries 

The bathroom sink I have does not come with drawers so this is how I store my toiletry items. Since I have an nautical anchor theme going on in this room, I keep decorative boxes on shelves that go well with the theme.  I also prefer keeping the tissue box design to also look oceanic for that reason!

3. Parties and Special Occasions 

Parties too often have some sort of theme to them and I recently helped chip in for a friend’s baby shower by providing party favors that coincidentally also went well with my ongoing anchor and nautical theme I had going on in my bathroom. So I went and got another larger photo box that had the nautical look to it and customized the lid with the baby’s name in hopes of it becoming useful for the nursery since I kept with the look the parents-to-be came up with for the room. I stuffed it with heating/cryotherapy pads I had made to go with the “relaxing” beach theme that was requested for the shower (for which I also used nautical anchor printed fabric to stay consistent).

4. Hat storage 

When people discover my love for hats and gloves and realize how much of it I own, one of the questions that usually come up is how/where I store them. Since most of my clothing shopping is done online, my hats do not come with a hat box like they might if I were to purchase them at a fancy hat store. The deeper rectangular shaped ones are great for storing some stacked sideways (this works for hats that do not have wide brims) and the smaller, rounder shaped ones make for great use in traveling with relatively compact-sized fascinators and hats that you don’t want to have be crushed inside your suitcase by the rest of your items.

These decorative boxes are typically categorized as nesting boxes. Though the wine boxes might be a bit more difficult to find online they can also be called nesting boxes.

Though there’s the phrase “think outside the box”  —- I would like to think that I am thinking about what to put inside the box.

-M

Film Review: Beauty and the Beast

I did get to go watch the currently popular box office hit Beauty and the Beast this week. And I can see why it’s popular:

  • The film’s story line was richer than the original animated version Disney did, explaining details such as the reason behind why Belle didn’t have a living mother.
  • All the original songs were still sung, but there were additional new songs that got added in.
  • The costumes were true to the animated version and I personally liked the take they had on the white/blue dress Belle had in this one which seemed like it would fit in more with the setting.
  • Those who had been turned into household objects in the castle were gorgeous pieces. I thought the metamorphosis of the broom/duster from the animated film being a peacock bird duster in this one was an elegant choice.

It is one of those films that I feel like you can enjoy it whether you are a child or an adult. And you’ll most likely still like it regardless of whether you’ve seen the original animated version or not. So I personally recommend watching the film [if you haven’t yet]. I give it a letter grade A.

I decided to go with the spirit of the film and gifted my friend who went to go watch the film with me a single red rose as well! So just a fun little suggestion if you decide you don’t want to dress up like the characters or do anything too over-the-top.IMG_1579

Enjoy!

-M

 

My Pre-Ocar Films List 2016-2017

Usually when the Oscar nominations are announced, the nominated films become available for viewing in bulk the weekend(s) prior to the award night. However, I am very sensitive when it comes to sensations such as fatigue of my eyes from film viewing for long periods of time or the motion sickness felt from motions of the camera (and often made worse from the smell of movie theater popcorn).

So I have never done the bulk viewing at such events. Therefore, this year I had resolved to make a list early on in the season in November of films I decided I was interesting in watching prior to the Oscars. Of course, the nominations were not announced back then so I did not know which films would get the nominations at the time I wrote the list. Behold “the list” (with respective release dates):

Hacksaw Ridge – November 4th

Nocturnal Animals – Nov 18th

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – Nov 18th

Lion – Nov 25th

Jackie – Dec 2nd

La La Land – Dec 9th

Collateral Beauty – Dec. 16th

Hidden Figures – Jan 13th

Silence – Jan 2017

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(WARNING: Do not read the rest of this blog posting if you do not want any spoiler alerts. )

Like many Oscar-worthy films tend to be, the list is dominated by films that are based on rather serious subject matter. So I did also recently view the film Fifty Shades Darker to indulge on a guilty pleasure moment with a grilled cheese sandwich. And in regards to the Fifty Shades Darker, I did actually enjoy watching this one more than the first one (Fifty Shades of Grey).

Though I applaud Natalie Portman’s transformation into former First Lady Jaqueline Kennedy in Jackie, I was a bit disappointed in the context of the film as it was very much centered around the assassination of her husband which was nothing most of us haven’t heard of (I thought it might go more into her upbringing or other parts of her life).

Nocturnal Animals is the one film I had not been able to cross off my list. However, from watching Collateral Beauty I can see how the films would explore a similar realm in going into someone’s mind in how they see things after a heartbreaking moment. The concept of writing letters to things [in Collateral Beauty] I did find fascinating. And I did think that each “thing” was represented well by the chosen actors – You wouldn’t expect anything less from such an all-star cast.

Andrew Garfield played the main character/protagonist in both Silence and Hackshaw Ridge where he is trying to stand up for his beliefs and they both take place in Japan. But I personally liked Hackshaw Ridge better. It might also be because I’m a sucker for happy endings, but the story of Hackshaw Ridge was also about something I was not familiar with, whereas I had learned about the history of Christianity in Japan in Japanese school (Silence).

Likewise, a lot of people talked about how sad it was that the story of Hidden Figures had not come out until now. But the treatment of black people by NASA and the other characters in the film was something I had become more familiarized with when I binge watched the ABC show Astronaut Wives a few weeks prior to watching the film. Even then, I really did love this film. My girlfriends and I did a lot of cheering for the leading ladies while watching it.

I was also a bit surprised at the ending of La La Land as I thought it was also going to be a happy ending since it seemed like the film was going to be a musical with lots of happy songs (which they still did have a lot of). Prior to watching the film I had heard a few people tell me that they thought the film was overrated but I personally enjoyed the dancing and the artistic color scheme of having everyone wear vibrant solids.

Fantastic Beasts was an adorable film but it might be a bit too adult for a much younger audience as it does also showcase death, abuse, etc. Even if you have never seen a Harry Potter film you should not have any trouble appreciating/understanding the film storyline. I’ve liked a lot of films Eddie Redmayne has starred in and this one seems to also agree with the shy smile-type of personality that he plays well.

With Lion, I liked how you don’t find out what the meaning behind the title is until the very end of the film. I had that experience with the film Arrival back in December (which I also unexpectedly loved). Since Saroo gets lost when he’s only five years old, it did automatically make me think back to my five year old self and what I would be able to recall and piece together had that happened to me. It’s what films do — they make you feel and interpret.

So grab some tissues and get ready to do some crying (and laughing) at the movie theaters if you haven’t already. And to all the Oscar-nominated films — congratulations!

-M