Wow, I can’t believe that 2010 is already over! With all the new beginnings and events, I feel like the year flew right by. As I always do at the end of the year, I like to look back, remember, and appreciate all that’s happened over the year. At times, when things get hectic and you get caught up in the “now,” it becomes easy to forget and take granted for some of the things that’s happened during that year. I’m sure I’ve missed a few important things but I’ll try and remember to the best of my ability…
January was a pretty eventful month for me. After spending three months for an abroad program in Japan, I was finally able to submit my work, sign some forms, and get that piece of paper (diploma) that I’ve been longing from Stanford for five long years. While initially a bit reluctant to leave the States (because of time missed from rehab after my ACL injury), the three months I spent in Japan ended up being one of the most influential times of my life. Living and interacting with Japanese people my age helped me get better in touch with my roots. And, the opportunity I had to train with the Japanese not only helped the physical side of my gymnastics but my understanding and mentality towards the sport as well. As for my rehab, I was set up with one of the best physical therapy team in Japan and the condition of my knee continued to progress during my time there.
As soon as I returned from Japan, I started working. It was a new situation for me. No more school but just as much work. Today I hold three part-time jobs, and while I’ll admit that it’s been a bit of a struggle to juggle all of this with my regular training, I feel that after dealing with it for a year, I’ve gotten the hang of it. Not only has working helped me balance my life (otherwise I would’ve just sat around and become a video-game-playing-bum), I’ve learned a ton of lessons that I feel will become of value down the road. Not to mention I’ve met a ton of great people along the way!
In the spring, I was finally released from a long period of rehab after injuring my ACL in the summer of ’09 while competing at the Japan Cup for Team USA. Rehab was arduous, and at times, incredibly boring and mundane, but I knew from the get-go that there was no way around it. When I finally got word that I could return to regular gymnastics training, it was like music to my ears. However, although I remember feeling relieved and happy, I also felt nervous because at that point, I knew it was game time and that I had to somehow prepare myself to compete again in the summer.
The period from spring to summer was full of frustration, pain, and small gains. The fact that I had not competed in over a year and that I was completely out of competition form made the comeback process incredibly difficult. Honestly, I felt like whenever I made some progress, I would end up finding myself a couple of steps back only the very next day. It was a vicious cycle. But despite all of this, the culmination of the miniscule steps and the encouragement I received from the people around me, helped me get back on the competition floor again just in time for August’s USA Championships. Although I was forced to water-down my sets because my knee and body wasn’t yet 100%, and the final result wasn’t what I had hoped for, I’m glad that I competed. Doing so helped me remember what it felt like to compete again, and the rather short timeline I set helped me quickly get my body back into somewhat of a competition shape (of course I was smart about my injury along the way). I think if I had set my comeback meet to a later date, I would’ve gotten lazier in training, saying to myself that I have a lot of time to get back into the swing of things. Regardless of the result of that meet, I saw some value in the simple fact that I was back competing on all six events again.
And here I am now, at the end of the year! While there are still days when my knee aches (especially on cold or rainy days), I’m glad to say that it’s getting closer to normal! Training is going well and I’m currently preparing to compete again in about five weeks. Outside of gym, I’ve had some time off of work during the holidays to rest my brain. Honestly, there’s nothing to complain here and everything to be grateful for. It’s all thanks to my friends, family, and coaches that helped me throughout this eventful year! I have one more training left in 2010 and I’m ready to finish it strong. The Japanese (myself included) believe that it’s important to finish the year properly, as it sets up the way things will be for the following year. Speaking of which, I’ll also be going home after training to do a huge cleaning of my house. Again, the Japanese believe that it’s important to clean every corner of the house before the year’s end so that we can welcome the new year with a fresh and clean slate. At home, rather than going nuts and throwing a huge party, I’ll be relaxing at home with my mother (sadly my sister will not be able to come back from the east coast due to work), reflecting on what happened over the year, being grateful for what’s been given, and eating a ton of traditional/customary food with different meanings and fortune behind them .
With all that goes on, New Years is possibly my favorite holiday. To all the people who have supported through 2010, thanks again and I wish you all a happy 2011!
Hope everyone had an enjoyable Christmas! I spent the day just relaxing and hanging out with my mother. I can’t remember the last time I had the opportunity to sit around, watch movies, and read for enjoyment. I know my body and mind needed this rest for sure.
Funny thing though is when I went back to training today, my body felt slower rather than feeling refreshed. I’m thinking that my body wasn’t ready for the couple of days of rest and was shocked that at the unusual relaxation. I should start a journal on how I feel after certain events to get more in tune with my body. I did some basics today and got my blood moving so I’m assuming I should be good to go by tomorrow!
By the way, took some pictures of Christmas lights over the weekend in Berkeley. Credit goes to my mother. Enjoy.
Wow! I can’t believe Christmas is here already. Time flies when you’re having fun huh (or they fly when you’re busy)? Honestly, I haven’t had the opportunity to relax and truly experience the holidays this year. I think the difference between this year and all of the other years is that I’ve started working. I wonder if I’m actually becoming a responsible adult??? When I was still a student, as soon as winter break hit, I was able to turn my brain off, focus on training, and enjoy the holiday festivities.
However, I’m glad to say that I am done with my work for the rest of the year. Now I can just focus on training and resting when I’m not in the gym. Pretty nice for a change! Definitely looking forward to paying back the sleep debt I’ve built up during the last couple of weeks as well.
Speaking of Christmas and the holidays, I remember that exactly one year ago, I was still in Japan finishing up school. Spending Christmas in Japan was quite a different experience (a bit odd for me also, given that I grew up in the US). A few things that I observed and saw interesting was that the Japanese see Christmas as a couples’ holiday. Couples go on dates and go eat at a fancy restaurants, and all of this is usually done on Christmas eve. No family Christmas time in the land of the rising sun. They also have a tradition of selling specially decorated Christmas cakes. I did my research and read somewhere that this was a strategy started by cake stores to boost their businesses. Pretty similar to the tradition of Valentines I suppose. Finally, the thing that irked me was they started decorating for Christmas as soon as Halloween ended. In the states, Christmas comes after Thanksgivings. However, since they don’t celebrate Thanksgivings there, decorations were up for a two whole months. I’m not saying that I don’t like Christmas. In fact, I’m all about the spirit of giving and spending time with families, but by the time Christmas actually rolled around, the actual holiday didn’t seem all that special because it seemed to have lasted too long.
Well, enough about Christmas in Japan. This year, I’ll be spending time with my family and resting for a couple of days to recharge my batteries. I’m hoping to feel refreshed when I get back in the gym next week and to close the rest of the year strong with great practices!
Happy Holidays everyone!
Swamped! – That’s all I can say about how I’ve been feeling lately. With such a short month with the holidays, I’ve been working a little more than usual (in the office) to hit my quota. Honestly, aside from the cold weather, it really hasn’t sunk in that it’s December and that Christmas is coming up. Yup, that’s how hectic things have been! But let me say that despite how busy I’ve been, I’m also very grateful to be in this situation and to actually have a job, especially in this economy.
On the flip side, gym and training has been going really well. I’ve come to realize that the more things I have going on outside of gym, the better my training becomes…to a certain extent of course. Obviously if I’m too stressed, it butts into my training, but generally training helps me get rid of my stress from my daily life. I suppose it’s the same feeling runners feel when they go out running. Whatever it is, I hope that I can keep this up as I prepare for my next competition in February and that January becomes a little less busy with my outside work.
Either way, it’s nothing I can’t handle. It’s definitely not nearly as bad as things were during my college days. When I think back, I don’t know how I wrote all those papers, read all those books, and trained all at the same time. If college didn’t make me smarter, it definitely taught me how to get my work done.
To all the people that are busy running around this month, whether it’s for shopping or work, please stay safe and I hope you all have a great holiday season.