Life in the Fast Lane


I've been thinking about it the past few days.

In the book (and movie) Eat, Pray, Love, a good chunk of the story focused on Liz Gilbert's discovery of how she would define herself in one word. Eventually, she declared that "attraversiamo" — Italian for "let's cross over" — would be her word.

As for me, there are times when random words come to mind in certain situations. After all, I am a writer by profession; words are a part of my life almost as much as oxygen is. This being said, I have a habit of naming or wordsmithing experiences, lessons, circumstances, and the like. And I've been trying to come up with my word for the year 2017.

My word for 2016 was loss. There was a lot of it: loss in terms of death; loss in terms of breakdowns of security blankets and what I knew to be true and foundational; loss in terms of confusion and letting go. It was a painful year for the most part, despite some milestones and blessings here and there, but I think that the drama surrounding that year ultimately prepared me for the following year.

Fast forward to the end of 2017. After reflecting on the year that has been (not yet "was"; we still have a week and a half before we bid this year farewell), I think I have come up with my word for the year.

2017's word is surrender. 

Many, many times this year, I found myself relinquishing control of my circumstances, my situation, my thoughts, my feelings, and my expectations to the Lord. He taught me countless times what it really meant to declare "Not my will but Yours be done".

And there were three major points of surrender this year, which I would like to share.

The first is the surrendering of my body. As I said on many occasions, this was one year that saw me go through several health struggles. Tests, check-ups, consultations, weight loss, weight gain, sleepless nights, palpitations, more tests, more check-ups, more consultations, prescriptions, changes of prescription, a messed up cycle... the list goes on. I had never seen several hospitals, clinics, healthcare centers, doctors, and drugstores as much as I have this year. I did some crying (I'm not a cryer, so when I do cry, I've reached the point of no return), I went through a depression of sorts followed by a funk, and then I experienced numbness; I was kind of angry at the world in an I-don't-care-anymore kind of way. It was during this time that tightened my circles of support, making sure that only the people closest to me really knew what I was going through on a daily basis, though I was open about my condition on social media.

However, as the months passed and I learned to keep surrendering myself to the Lord (particularly, the part of my life that was an athlete), I grew in appreciation of the everyday blessings He would give me, and I learned to be more humble and content. By God's grace, after a painful and trying few months (the last four of which, I wasn't even allowed to train, let alone race), I was finally given the green light to ease back into my regular routine. I will usher in 2018 with hope as I surrender my dreams and plans to Him, praying that He will keep me healthy and strong for His glory.

Last week, when my doctor allowed me to start training again.

The second is the surrendering of my career. While I'm still in the same industry and within the same organization, I moved floors, I moved to a different team, and I also "moved" job description, if that makes sense. Since I am not a fan of change, per se, I had to adjust right away to a different set of dynamics and working style. But thankfully, the adjustment has been smooth and I welcome these new challenges in this new environment with a really supportive and open (pun intended) group of individuals.

My first day with my new team last July.

The third is the surrendering of our home. Not many people knew that we had moved residences, but surprise, we did! In the middle of August until early September, my family and I slowly let go of things we no longer needed, said goodbye to almost 19 years' worth of memories made in that house, packed up our stuff, and said hello to another house not too far from where we lived. It has been an interesting ride for each of us in the family, in different ways. Some were more ready than others to let go, but now, months later, we are enjoying this blessing from the Lord and we look forward to the new memories we will create where He has now placed us. Truly, He gives and takes away.

First night in our new home last September!
I still had hypothyroidism here, hence the obvious weight gain.

2017 has been a journey of recognizing that we don't own anything and that we are not entitled to what we have; the Lord owns everything and chooses to bless as He pleases. And I am thankful for both the trying times and the triumphant ones.

It was throughout this year that I felt my faith was taken to a deeper level; that I realized just how supportive and encouraging people can truly be, online and especially offline; that I learned to and chose to be thankful for even the most mundane of things (like waking up to 22ºC weather); that I got to enjoy lots of time spent with my family (in the trips we took together, the times we'd eat and hang out, and even on ordinary days at home); that I became thankful for the many friends who became a part of my journey this year; that I got to experience God's faithfulness, blessings, and miracles in the lives of people dear to me; that I saw and documented the many witty, smart, and funny things that my nephew would say and do as proof of how fast he's growing up; that I got to try new things, like hiking and boxing, and rekindle other passions, like photography.

While I know that 2018 might not be a perfect year, that there may be trials to come (and I pray that they won't be of the heartbreaking sort, to be perfectly honest; haha!), I claim that He will still be faithful and that His grace will be more than enough for me and my loved ones.

May you have a blessed Holiday season with your loved ones, and a grace-filled 2018!
Some of my many frustrations as a Manileña who loves to bike include not having wide enough sidewalks for pedestrians and cyclists; not having enough and truly dedicated lanes for cycling; drivers (of private and public vehicles) being inconsiderate of and simply not caring about what cyclists have to go through — among the following: avoiding potholes, trash, and obstructions on the road, finding whatever space is available, contending with honking vehicles... the list goes on.

Which is why it is truly refreshing for me to visit countries and cities that not only respect cyclists, but encourage cycling. Taipei (and Taiwan as a whole) is one of them.

Photo from here.

A few months ago, my sister announced that there was a seat sale and that we had to book right now. Before I could even process things, she booked plane tickets for herself, our mom, and me to Taipei. "Girls' trip!" she said.

Weeks later, my brother Chuck decided to make a similar booking for himself, his wife/my sister-in-law, and their son/my nephew. It ended up being a most-of-the-family trip after all (our Dad and youngest brother couldn't make it anymore due to work and school, respectively).

As random as this trip was, I knew we had to be smart about several things since: a) none of us had been to Taipei (or anywhere in Taiwan, except for Chuck, who was only there for work and barely got to walk around); b) we wanted to keep to a budget; and, c) we had to factor in the different "needs" of our family (i.e. we had a toddler with us, we didn't want to tire our mom too much, I had a health condition).

First things first, though. We needed to book where we would stay. After much researching and asking around, the best thing to do was to book a place in a strategic/central area that was near several convenience stores (always a wise move) and close to an MRT station. Chuck and I went back and forth, deciding on several options, until one 3-star hotel from Agoda caught my eye based on pictures, seemingly good reviews, and a workable price range.

I ended up choosing the King Plaza Hotel, which is across a Family Mart, a 7-Eleven, and a Starbucks, had lots of shops around it (including a pharmacy), and was a stone's throw away from the Ningxia Night Market. It was also a 10-minute walk away from the Zhongshan MRT Station, and if you wanted to give yourself even more of a workout, probably a 20-minute walk away from the Taipei Main Station.

Unfortunately, I completely forgot to take photos of our rooms and the hotel itself, but if you've been to 3-star hotels in Hong Kong, then this is fairly comparable. The hotel itself is located only on the 3rd floor of No. 163 Nanjing West Road (don't make a mistake by going to the 4th floor, because that floor houses a different hotel), offers free breakfast (a typical simple breakfast buffet), and had acceptable amenities in the room (the rooms were quite small but not too cramped, and each had a queen-sized bed and a single bed).

Next on our list of priorities were our visas. Chuck and his family had US visas, so all they had to do was to get a US Travel Authorization waiver instead of a Taiwan visa. For my mom, sister, and yours truly, I got each of us e-visas.

The funny thing was, weeks after getting our visas, the Taiwan government granted visa-free access to Filipinos beginning November 1st. Our flight from Manila would be on October 31st, late in the evening, arriving in Taipei on November 1st early in the morning. True enough, when we landed, we didn't need to present our visas to the immigration officers. Yes, you could say that it was a waste of time (and money) to prepare our e-visas, but I would rather be safe and have them just in case we still needed to show them.

Anyway, after a late night flight, we finally landed in Taipei at 1:35am on November 1st. We were able to arrange a pick-up service, c/o a Filipino driver who was recommended by my mom's friend, so we were able to bring all our bags and a sleepy toddler to our hotel in peace.

Here are the things that we were able to do in Taipei. Not all of us were complete for each activity or destination (there were times we would split up, then meet for a meal) and we also tried to group the activities according to what were close to one another. Towards the end of this blog, I will list some tips that we learned along the way, that I feel you will likely benefit from.

1) Din Tai Fung

Anyone who is anyone knows that Taiwan is the land of xiao long bao (soup dumplings). And anyone who is anyone knows that when you say xiao long bao, you are referring to Din Tai Fung. We couldn't not begin our trip without a visit to the nearest Din Tai Fung, which was, thankfully, just a 15-minute walk away from our hotel. We had to wait about 20 minutes in line — which wasn't bad by DTF standards — and once we were ushered in, we were brought to a cozy corner table.

As expected, the food was great, which is why we spent quite a bit for this meal. This ended up being our most "expensive" meal of the trip, since 90% of the time, we were eating street food.

2) Taipei Peace Park

A historic park located near the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, it contains memorials to the victims of the February 28 incident in 1947.

3) Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall

Named after the former President of the Republic of China, this memorial hall is not just a national landmark, but has since become an increasingly popular tourist attraction.

4) Ningxia Night Market

Thankfully, this street (and night market) was a less than 5-minute walk from our hotel. We had dinner here twice, on our first and last nights. We particularly enjoyed the torched beef cubes, their version of an okonomiyaki, their dumpling noodle soup, and their Taiwanese popcorn chicken.

5) Yehliu Geopark

For your outdoorsy fix, make the long trip to this famous geopark, known for various rock formations beside a beach. It took a while before we were able to find the West Bus Station of the Taipei Main Station (we walked around 30 minutes from our hotel, and we had to navigate the entirety of the main station before reaching the West Station).

Eventually, we did find it, and we were able to use our Easy Cards (more on this later) for the bus ride. It took an hour and a half (costing around NTD 95, if I'm not mistaken) to get to the Yehliu Bus Station, then another 10-minute walk to the actual geopark where we paid the entrance fee of NTD 80 each. But the journey was worth it.

6) Taipei 101

While we didn't go to the roofdeck of this famous skyscraper, we were able to have dinner in the foodcourt, walk around for a bit and do some window shopping.

7) Taipei Zoo

Not that I've been to many zoos, but this is easily one of my favorite ones. It's accessible, the grounds are huge, and most importantly, the animals have lots of space and are well taken care of. The zoo is at one end of the Brown Line of the MRT, and the entrance fee is only NTD 60 per person. My three-year-old nephew had a blast. Unfortunately, it would rain every now and then, but there are many places where one can chill (and order food or a drink) while waiting for the rain to pass. Note, though, that the zoo closes by 5pm.

8) Shilin Night Market

From the zoo, we took the train back to the city to hit this famous night market. As with many other night markets (and street markets in general), you could food trip or shop the night away in this place.

9) Elephant Mountain Hiking Trail

An urban trail located within the city, this was really easy to get to by train, and my hiking-crazed sister loved the fact that the Taiwanese had this hiking option. It's an uphill stair climb, and once you reach the top, you can either choose to take on other connected trails, or admire a 360º view of the city. The day we went, it was rainy, cold, and incredibly foggy.

10) Shifen Old Town

Getting here required two changes of train lines and a bus ride (make sure to arrive on time because each bus to Shifen leaves every 20 minutes). We went there on the same day my sister and I hiked Elephant Mountain, and it was still cold and rainy all throughout. We had wanted to light our lanterns and send them flying later in the evening, envisioning really dramatic pictures, but unfortunately, the weather wasn't on our side and we had to rush things so we could get out of there without succumbing to hypothermia.

11) Modern Toilet

Believe it or not, this is a restaurant. Yes, a restaurant wherein you will be sitting on toilets and eating and drinking from toilet- or urinal-shaped bowls or glasses. It's as trippy as can be, and had my nephew cracking up. He didn't even want to eat the poop-shaped chocolate ice cream at first, until we managed to convince him that what was on the bowl wasn't actual poop, but ice cream. Food-wise, the selection was random (from curry dishes to sandwiches), and taste-wise, it was just so-so for me. Really, one would go there primarily for the experience.

12) Ximending

Shopping in Taipei, at least for my sister and me, wasn't as easy as it is for us in Hong Kong or Bangkok. Most of the clothes in the other night markets or side streets weren't to our liking; neither were they cheap. But we found the best deals and styles in Ximending. Sadly, we only discovered and maximized this wonderful shopping haven on our last day. 

Now, for some notes/observations/tips that could be hopefully be useful for you, should you decide to make the two-hour trip from Manila to Taipei:

1) Decide on your money-changer plan ahead of time. We decided not to convert to USD before converting to NTD because of the low exchange rate from peso to USD. However, not all money changer stations in NAIA had enough NTD for us to "buy" using our pesos. We were only able to convert about PHP 2000 each into NTD in the airport, and the rest of our pocket money, we had to exchange when we got there; the only place in Taipei that accepted and exchanged our pesos was the Bank of Taiwan's main branch.

2) The Easy Card will be your best friend. I highly recommend that you get one, which you can reload at any time in any MRT station. It can be used for riding the train/s, the bus, and it can even be your mode of payment in select places like convenience stores. Really handy and it'll spare you from falling in line and having to repeatedly buy single-entry tickets or chips.

3) Prepare for the weather. One day, it would be sunny (Manila-level of sunny); the next day, it would be rainy and cold (colder than Baguio). It's best to layer instead of wearing a long-sleeved shirt as your base (in case the day happens to be a hot one), and always bring an umbrella in case of unforeseen rain.

4) Their shops come alive at night. My sister and I tried to explore Wufenpu (another shopping district) during the daytime, but many of their stores were closed. You might want to try hitting the shopping areas in the late afternoon or early evening. 

5) Double and triple check your accommodation bookings, especially if you will be arriving/checking out late. Most budget flights are red eye ones, which will likely mean that you will be arriving early in the morning and checking out at night. Make sure that your hotel/Airbnb bookings are for the correct dates, and if you plan to check out of your room/s late because of your late flight, that you are willing to pay the extension rate of your hotel. 

6) Get a pocket WiFi. Not just for social media purposes, but for being able to get around the city with much more ease (i.e. Google Maps, downloading Taiwan travel apps). I had two routers on standby (in case we had to split up into two groups); the first, I got locally (EZ Travel WiFi), and the second, from Taiwan (WiFi Taiwan). Both were very affordable, considering our six-day stay. However, I didn't realize 'til our 3rd day that the EZ Travel WiFi package had a data cap (it downgraded to 2G speeds after consuming 4GB worth of data) while the other one had unlimited data. The EZ Travel package was sent to my house and I returned it via LBC the day after I arrived in Manila, while the WiFi Taiwan pack was picked up in the Hi-Life convenience store in the Taoyuan International Airport and brought back there just before flying out.

7) Try as much of their food as you can. Believe me, you won't run out of things to try. Their dumpling noodle soup variants alone are countless. I was actually game to try the (in)famous stinky tofu, but for some reason, didn't get to come across any stall selling that. My sister bought milk tea from every conceivable stall or kiosk that she saw, and my mom became a huge fan of their peanut mochi. Taiwan is also well-known for their pineapple cakes (and their various permutations).

8) You can live off P15K in pocket money. Not counting what you will spend for airfare and accommodations, you will be able to get by with about PhP 15K; this will include all your meals, your transportation, and other expenses. With this amount, I was even able to buy a new pair of Nikes from the Shilin area. It's actually pretty affordable in Taipei; much cheaper than what you would shell out for a trip to Osaka, Singapore, or even Hong Kong.

This trip was definitely a pleasant surprise, considering that it was a spur-of-the-moment booking (darn you, seat sales!). It reminded me of the energy of Hong Kong with the spaciousness of Shanghai's streets and the cleanliness of Singapore. I enjoyed the food (too much!), being able to walk an average of 15,000 steps a day, taking their modes of transport, and exploring what their city had to offer first-timers like me and my family. There's something to do for everyone, regardless of age or interests, and I'm pretty sure I'll be back for more. 

Xièxiè, Táiwān, for the wonderful time that we had!

Missing Dad and CJ, who weren't with us!

P.S. The photos featured here were mostly taken by yours truly using a Canon EOS 550D and an Olympus Pen EP-2. Additional photos were taken by my brother, Chuck, using his Panasonic Lumix GX85.

P.P.S. I forgot to mention that we were able to go to church in Taipei. Thank you to the Bread of Life community for the warm welcome!
Nothing makes you take stock of your life quite like your health. I feel that in many other aspects of one's life, to a certain extent, you can control somehow their outcome: relationships, education, career, finances, interests, etc.

However, when it comes to your health, you really don't know what can/will happen to you. Some eat healthy, work out like crazy, and still get diagnosed with a terminal illness. On the other hand, others manage to live an unhealthy and sedentary lifestyle all the way 'til their 90's. You really can't tell.

As for me, for the longest time, sports have somehow defined me as a person. While I was never a pro athlete, neither was I "beast mode" enough to be a consistent podium finisher, my world always revolved around sports to some extent. From swimming competitively for 10 years as a child all the way 'til high school, to discovering running and cycling as an adult, and later on, combining all three in succession in the form of triathlon, I've pretty much eaten, slept, and breathed these sports for many years now.

One random afternoon of doing sprints.

I've gotten used to a weekly routine that consists of waking up early 2-3 times a week on weekdays for quick training sessions before work, and sacrificing both weekend mornings for longer training sessions or races. Most of my social circles these days involve people from this world; same goes for those I follow on social media.

You could say that I have been a "go, go, go" kind of person in recent years. As if my life has been some kind of a sprint wherein I've had to find a way to juggle my family, my work, my faith, my passions/pursuits, my time with people close to my heart, and other aspects of my life in whatever way I could manage.

However, I am currently in this place where I have had to put my triathlon life on hold — doctor's orders — while my body sorts itself out on a hormonal level. I had never realized until this year just how complicated and interconnected our bodily functions are. What started as a thyroid problem earlier in the year spun into something that managed to affect my menstrual cycle.

Without going into too many details, I am currently under medication to stabilize my hormones, and my body will go through some adjustment period for the next 2-3 months. While this is happening, I am currently experiencing a range of side effects: bloating, mood swings, very particular food cravings only to be followed by a loss of appetite, and at times, lethargy.

I'll be honest: after 5 years of regular workouts and planning an entire year built around scheduled races, it feels really weird not to be doing anything physical. Sometimes I have to think twice about whether or not I should eat something because I am fully aware that my body isn't burning calories the way it always used to. Other times, I feel really bad because I see my friends and teammates training and joining races and here I am not doing what they're doing.

I know my current situation isn't a dead end (I hadn't realized how many women out there are actually going through something similar), and neither is it actually serious enough for me to feel this bad about it; in fact, some people might even think I'm being incredibly overdramatic. Truth be told, if I heard someone tell me this, I'd even agree with them.

But this is where my faith comes in: I know God is putting me through all of this for a reason. 

I have slowly and painfully come to the realization that while I've always known that He was my Savior and my Master, while I've had a personal relationship with Him for many years now, and while I have claimed to have placed my trust in Him for many aspects of my life, I actually hadn’t fully surrendered myself — and when I say “myself”, I mean my body — to the Lord. Instead, I have placed demands on Him, always in the hopes of getting better soon so that I could do the things that I wanted, just like everyone else. Admittedly, I have had a shallow kind of faith in that I would claim healing, but always because of what I wanted for myself, not for what He wanted for me.

I've since started to pray more purposefully, now surrendering to whatever His will is.

While I'm currently in this period of "inactivity", I’ve actually realized that even if I do miss being part of the tri world I've inhabited for many years, I don’t feel as guilty as I used to for missing out.

Rediscovering my love for photography.

Because I now have a different mindset.

I know now that even if working out and racing are technically “good things”, and while it is admirable to engage in a lifestyle of fitness and health, they cannot and should not ever take the place of God in my life. I’ve realized that I don’t have full control over my body and over what it can or cannot do. I’ve also realized that I shouldn’t be rationalizing that my being fit or strong is for God’s glory when, deep inside, it was actually more about me reveling in the temporary high or rush that comes with working up a sweat or crossing a finish line.

Now, I am simply praying to be healthier, to be more whole as a person. When the time comes that God will allow me to healthy enough to do manageable workouts in a week and race every now and then, then praise be to Him. But while I've been asked to slow down and try less strenuous activities, praise be to Him for all the things I'm learning and even for my other passions that I've rediscovered along the way. I am also more appreciative now of the time I have for simple things like catching up on my favorite TV series (and watching new ones!), and getting to enjoy a leisurely breakfast on weekends.

I am looking forward to getting back on track, but slowing down isn't so bad, I have to say. 
Hi, reader/s!

(Are you still there?)

I do apologize profusely; I have now come to the conclusion that I'm a terrible blogger. (By the way, I'll touch on my thoughts about the word "blogger" later in this entry.)

Sadly, my posts are becoming more and more infrequent, and, truth be told, half the time, I don't know what to write about anymore. I've become way too reliant on microblogging in the form of Facebook statuses, Instagram captions, and tweets; ironically, however, I'm extremely talkative on those social media platforms.

It's not that nothing's been happening lately. I just lack the discipline to collect my thoughts and write them in this kind of format. And, you know, make them appear *engaging* and *interesting*.

Anyway, with this unnecessary disclaimer out of the way, I guess I'll go ahead and write about what's been happening. No running theme, no cohesion here; just old school-style journalling.

After my last race in early June, I took a break from racing (and training for a race).

Regent 5150/Sunrise Sprint Triathlon last June 4, 2017

My body was tired (not that I was doing long distance races, but balancing my training schedule with my full-time, highly demanding job, became exhausting after a while). I was burned out from the repetition of doing swim/bike/run almost every day of the week, and I needed to recover.

I decided to go on this self-imposed break to give my body some time to rest, to heal, and to miss training (even our tri team captain told me that it would be good for me to do this, precisely so I would want to start training again once I've recovered). In the meantime, I was encouraged to try other things.

Which I did.

I took several boxing classes and even invested in my own gloves and wraps.

Elorde Boxing, Celebrity Sports Club

I tried indoor climbing (my first time in what felt like forever).

Climb Central Manila, Greenfield District, Mandaluyong

I went on several hikes.

Mt. Balagbag, Rodriguez, Rizal

Taal Volcano, Talisay, Batangas

Mt. Manabu, Sto. Tomas, Batangas

And I rekindled my love affair with photography, entering the micro four thirds world of mirrorless cameras.

Olympus Pen with an 8mm fisheye lens

But I still did some light triathlon-related training every now and then; just not as religiously and intensely as I would if I were training for a particular race. It was also timely that my sister got herself a mountain bike to cross-train for her hikes. So we biked together fairly often.

Marikina Riverbanks

I've been enjoying myself the past few months. Even without intense triathlon training, you could say that I'm still very much still physically active. I've also enjoyed the fact that I didn't need to wake up at 4am for a long run on a weekday and that I didn't need to feel guilty whenever I missed a workout.

It's been a good break.

On the thyroid end, however, it has been a wild roller coaster ride.

Around early July, I noticed that my neck started to swell almost overnight. Pardon the next photo, in case it disturbs you.

Hello, swollen neck!

Since the thyroid gland is located within the neck, I needed to undergo several tests to determine the cause.

It turns out that I developed a form of goiter related to hypothyroidism; the complete opposite of my thyroid condition, which was hyperthyroidism. Because, at the time, I was still on a high dosage of thyroid medication, my TSH level swung the other way towards hypothyroidism.

My doctor told me to stop all my medication to see if my TSH would return to the normal range. Thankfully, after a month, it did, and my neck likewise returned to its normal size.

I am still off medication until today, but my body has been rebooting itself big time. From a high dosage to no dosage (cold turkey), it's been crazy; we're talking sleep problems (sometimes I sleep so well; other times, I wake up every two hours at night), menstrual cycle issues (without going into too much detail, let's just say that my periods now happen more than once a month), slow to fast metabolism, palpitations to steady heart rates, etc. etc.

My doctor did, however, give me the green light to resume training for races, should I decide to join one; in fact, she's curious to see if my thyroid will cooperate, sans medication, given the same intensity and frequency in training.

I'm supposed to go back in October for a follow-up check-up to figure out the next step/s (whether to resume medication and how much of it I should be taking, or if I should still be medication-free). Praying that all continues to go well and that my body will sort itself out ASAP.

Aside from the changes taking place within my body, there have also been changes at work (I'm now with a new team in a different "division", if you will), changes in lifestyle (in way), and changes at home.

So far, the year 2017 has been one of perpetual adjustment on seemingly countless levels. Talk about trusting and depending on the Lord on a daily basis. But I continue to praise Him for His faithfulness despite all the challenges.

Bit by bit, however, I have started to train purposefully for triathlon once again (as mentioned in a previous entry, it's my outlet, especially when things get out of hand). I've missed it, and I feel that I'm ready to start preparing for a race again. I'm just not sure of what the next one is as of now since I haven't signed up for any.

However, my body is the one that needs to tell me when it's good to go. When my cycle is out of whack, or when I feel tired/listless, I blow the whistle and skip training for a day or two. I have now accepted that I can't control everything, so when my body is up to it, I train; when it isn't, I just don't.

Easing back in with my favorite sport of all, swimming!

I really hope to go back to regular training soon, assuming my body cooperates, and even sign up for a race in the near future.

Before I end this, though, I've been thinking about the word "blogger" for some time now.

Once upon a time, when it was practically the only form of self-expression on the Internet, blogging was widely accepted as a hobby that welcomed everyone. You had the likes of Angelfire, Xanga, Blogger, LiveJournal, and later on, WordPress to get you started. You didn't need to know how to code (you could choose from a selection of free templates); neither were you required to be an amazing writer. Anyone could be a blogger.

Nowadays, the term seems to be reserved more for those who monetize their blogs; those who serve as influencers.

Gone are the days when just about anyone could start blogging. Yes, anyone can still blog, theoretically speaking. However, today's bloggers curate their blogs: from the look to the themes of their posts to the photography. The sought-after bloggers are those who write about specific themes consistently in most of, if not all their entries; they have their own niches. (Just look at the difference between a present-day tech blogger's blog versus that of a lifestyle blogger; a blogger from 10 to 15 years ago would have been able to blog about both topics without a care in the world.)

Those niche bloggers who gain a large following are then tapped to be influencers for brands. Hence the sponsored posts.

So now I wonder, if you just want to blog for blogging's sake, can you still consider yourself a blogger?

Or has blogging really and truly morphed from a hobby into a career/profession?

While I don't know the answer to this just yet, I'd still like to call myself a blogger — without all the implications that come with the word in 2017.

So blog away, I shall continue to do (hopefully with more regularity in the succeeding posts!).
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