5 Reasons to Pole Dance

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Warning: There are some pictures of, um, people on, um, poles. So if you are sensitive towards this type of content, please look elsewhere and come read my next post on Wednesday :’)

Hello everyone!

This is a post that I’ve been planning to write for a long, long time, but I didn’t because… well, even though I love pole dancing, it’s not something that I tell everyone about.

So, deep breaths :’)

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Around this time last year, I started (and fell in love with) pole dancing. This means that it is the one year anniversary of pole dancing for me. I thought that this would be a great time to write about this special hobby of mine.

First of all, maybe I will address some of the stigma that is out there about pole. When we think about pole dancing, we think about… well, stripping.

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In fact, there could be as much or as little stripping as you want. Some facts about pole dancing and clothes:

  1. It’s true that most pole dancers don’t wear much clothes. You actually need some skin on your belly and your thighs to grip the pole. Otherwise, you might just slide right off and hit your head or something.
  2. Pole dance competitions have strict rules about how much skin you can show and what moves are and are not allowed. These competitions promote pole dancing as an art form and as a sport.

Did you know that pole dance is now officially a sport? And that it might just become part of the Olympics in the near future?

Today, I want to tell you guys about why I pole dance, and why maybe you should try it out too.

1. Stay fit (and have fun!)

Before pole, my exercise routine was a combination of abs and cardio. Even though I didn’t like these exercises and they bored me, I made myself do them because I wanted to stay fit.

When I discovered pole, my life changed. Now I am excited for each and every lesson because there is always a new move to learn and a new challenge to overcome. Exercise suddenly doesn’t like exercise, and it is actually fun.

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2. Become stronger.

Two years ago, I couldn’t even do a single push-up (seriously). Now I can do cool stuff like this:

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I remember that time when I bought a 30-pound bag of dog food:

Cashier: [Looks at little Asian me with raised eyebrows] You need help carrying that?

Me: NOPE.

To prove myself, I picked up the bag without batting an eyelash.

3. Meet new friends.

I met some amazing people at my pole dance class. There are some misconceptions about who pole dances and how they should look like. In my pole dancing class, there are people of all ethnicities, ages, and sizes. It is an inclusive group where women can feel comfortable and sexy in their own skin, no matter our age and body shape.

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(Although most of the pole dancers at our studio are women, there are men who pole dance as well!)

4. Love your body.

Growing up, I was never satisfied with the way my body looked. In high school, I dieted (a lot) in a way that was unhealthy for me. Even in university, when I had gained enough weight to be healthy, I always wondered if I should be thinner.

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At my pole studio, I am amazed to see women of all shapes and sizes being proud and happy with their body. As I gained strength, challenged myself, and learned new moves, I grew to love my body for what I can do.

5. Be the pole dancer that you want to be.

There are different kinds of pole dancers. Some pole dancers rock sexy moves and high heels, some swear by slow and flowy moves, while others love to show off their superhuman strength. Pole dancing can be whatever you want it to be.

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How do you feel about pole dancing? What is your favourite type of exercise? Do you have a secret hobby?

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The Fall Activities Book Tag

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Happy Friday, everyone!

This Wednesday I did the road test for my full driver’s license. When I woke up in the morning, it was like this outside:

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With all the snow on the road, I thought I was doomed. Oh, Canada :’)

Despite this, I PASSED!!!!!!

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Anyhow, even though there is snow in my corner of the universe, it is still fall (right!? RIGHT?!) Which means that I can still do…

Sunset chaser

Thank you to Beth @ Reading Every Night for tagging me! It was super fun to brainstorm the answers. Beth is very kind and sweet, and her blog is awesome, so be sure to check out her post, as well!

Apple Picking:
A book on your TBR that looks so great you can’t wait to get into it.

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Apparently this is a parody of Harry Potter! I was a big fan of Harry Potter growing up (and still am!) I also loved reading Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, which tells the story of a fangirl of Carry On. I think this one is going to be right up my alley. 🙂

Corn Maze:
A book to get lost in.

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Once I started reading this book, I couldn’t stop! Just when I thought I got the hang of what was happening, there was another plot twist that blew me away.

Haunted Houses:
A book that scared you.

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To be honest, this one was a toss-up between Illuminae and Gemina. Both were freaky at certain parts of the book and gave me chills up my spine (as I walked my dog in pitch black at night while listening to the audiobook.)

Pumpkin Patch:
The latest book you picked up/purchased.

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I absolutely loved this new book by Jasmine Warga. It is such a feel-good story about love and family that made me feel warm and fuzzy.

Scenic Drives:
A book that is lyrically beautiful.

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Wow :’)

Pumpkin Carving:
A book you didn’t like and wouldn’t mind cutting up.

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Guys, this is going to be an unpopular opinion: There was so much hype around this book a few months back and I was so, so excited to read it. But I couldn’t deal with the cookie-cutter main characters who were attractive and shallow, and the romance that felt forced. The lack of research stuck out like a sore thumb. Without giving anything away, there was some drug research that went on in this novel: That is not how drug research is done. Nope. Nuh-uh.

Drinking Apple Cider:
A sweet book to curl up with.

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Such a cute story. I loved Simon and Blue through and through, from beginning to end.

Jumping in a Leaf Pile:
A book that reminds you of your childhood.

I couldn’t resist these nostalgia purchases ❤

Scary Movie Night:
Your favourite spooky read.

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Gillian Flynn is my newest obsession. After reading Gone Girl (which I absolutely loved, even more than the movie), I couldn’t resist reading another one of her works. Dark Places did not disappoint. It kept me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end. And yes, there were a few moments when the hair at my neck stood on end.

Costume Party:
A book with an eclectic cast of characters.

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I absolutely loved the diverse cast in this novel. Molly is a self-proclaimed “fat girl” (we really don’t see much of that in fiction, do we?) She and her twin sister Cassie (who is gay)  are born via sperm donation and raised by two mothers. Did I mention that Cassie’s girlfriend is a Korean-American who is pansexual?

I tag these awesome people:

Zoie @ Whisked Away By Words

Shanah @ Bionic Book Worm

The Orangutan Librarian

Swetlana @ The Caffeinated Bookworm Life

Lashaan @ Bookidote

If you have already done this tag, or if you don’t like to do tags, (or if it is already winter where you live), no worries! On the other hand, if anyone wants to do this tag, go for it!

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What are your favourite fall activities? Is it snowing where you live? When does winter officially start?

The Writer’s Tag!

The Writer's tag

Happy Wednesday!

But… but… What happened to WIPPet Wednesday, you ask!?

Usually I post a snippet of my WIP on Wednesdays, but this Wednesday, well………. I actually have no snippet for you guys.

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This is because I am still plotting and researching my new novel, and I want to make sure I get all the kinks ironed out before I put pen to paper (or rather, fingers to keyboard.) No worries: I am actively working on it, every single night.

So, instead, I will be doing The Writer’s Tag. Thanks to The Orang-utan Librarian for tagging me. Be sure to check out her post and her blog, because both are absolutely awesome.

What genres, styles, and topics do you write about?

The novel that I just finished is a contemporary fiction about art history and depression. It’s… pretty heavy, and now I am ready for something lighter.

My new project is a young adult science fiction novel about human genomic editing, space exploration, and pharmaceuticals. Did you know that in February 2017, the first human embryo was genetically edited in the US? (Fact.) Can you imagine a world in which editing of the human genome is accepted and even preferred?

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Long story short: A bit of everything! I am still experimenting with which genre(s) jive with me the most.

How long have you been writing?

Ever since I picked up a pencil and learned to make coherent sentences! I remember writing my first short story when I was in my ESL (English as a Second Language) class in grade 3. I used to fold printer paper in half and staple them in the middle to make a “book” :’)

Here is little Asian me:

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Why do you write?

I have people in my head who talk and if I don’t write I will probably go crazy.

When is the best time to write?

All day everyday! However due to adulting demands, that is impossible :’)

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What parts of writing do you love and hate?

I love…

  • Creating characters and worlds
  • Being able escape real life (come on guys, adulting isn’t what it’s hyped up to be)
  • The feeling of being so absorbed into your world and your story that you forget that you are just a writer punching words into a word processor

I hate…

  • Writer’s block
  • Hearing about the plot of another book that sounds similar to your own (Hey, WE had that idea first)
  • Showing my story to other people (“Sophie, I just read this part in your novel and-” “AHHHH NO DON’T TALK ABOUT IT- IT SUCKS!!!!” [plugs ears])

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How do you overcome writer’s block?

I stare at my laptop screen until a word comes out (it works.)

Are you working on something at the moment?

Yes!

What are your writing goals this year?

In the next 40 days of 2017 (What?! 40 days?! Really?! I know right?) I am hoping to finish planning this novel and start writing it. Small steps :’)

Thanks for reading, you guys!

I tag these fantastic folks: Marie, Dani, Beth, CaitJW Martin, Phil Taylor, Jeanne G’Fellers, AM Leibowitz, and Fallon Brown. And of course, any other writer reading this post!

(You absolutely do not have to do this tag, if you have done it before, or if you just don’t like doing tags.)

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How long does it take for you to jump from one WIP to the next? What do you like and dislike about writing? What are your writing goals this year? How is Nanowrimo going?!

Come See China with Me! (Part 2)

Come See China with Me!

Hello everyone!

Wish me luck- I have a driving test this Wednesday to get my full license! (I have been driving for two years now with a learner’s license, so this test shouldn’t be a problem. The hard part is to remember to stop for 3 seconds at each stop sign, and to not drive above the speed limit.)

Today, I want to tell you guys about the second week of my China trip, which I spent in Shijiazhuang. Just a reminder about where this city is in China:

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If you guys want to read about Weihai, China (a beautiful coastal city), check out my previous blog post here. Shijiazhuang is very different (be prepared).

Disclaimer: This won’t be your typical travel post! Since I was born in China and have lots of family there, you won’t see much touristy stuff here. However, you will likely get a sense of what it is like to live as a Chinese person.

Shijiazhuang, China

We flew from Weihai to Beijing, then travelled to Shijiazhuang by bullet train, which can drive up to 300km per hour! This is one of the technological innovations that the Chinese are very, very proud of.

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Another recent innovation? Bike sharing! This is super popular in the big cities in China these days. The yellow/orange bikes (see above) are located all over the city, and are available for rent using a mobile app! One of the neat things is that there are no standardized pick-up or drop-up locations: you can pick any random bike on the street, ride it where you need to go, and leave it wherever you want.

Also, in malls, supermarkets, restaurants, and event farmer’s markets, people pay using their cellphones, which are connected to their bank accounts. Cash is used infrequently, and people don’t swipe or tap credit cards.

On the flip side, unfortunately China has a smog problem. In fact, Shijiazhuang is THE smoggiest city in ALL of China, and China is one of the smoggiest cities in the world :’) If you ever visit a major city in China, you may see people wearing face masks.

On this note, a funny story told by a family friend living in China: When he visited Canada, he began to have breathing problems. “Why do you have breathing problems?” “Too… much… oxygen…” Lol :’)

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We ate a lot of good food in Shijiazhuang. One interesting thing I tried was donkey meat. Apparently donkey can be cooked in many ways – steamed donkey, stir-fried donkey, donkey wrap, donkey stew… It tastes kind of like beef, but less stringy. What is the weirdest food that you’ve tried?

In case you are curious about the people in my picture, from left to right: Uncle, aunt, cousin, grandma, grandpa, mom, me, dad 🙂

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I spent some mornings visiting my grandma in the hospital (she has atrial fibrillation). No worries, she is doing well now 🙂

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We did do one touristy thing in Shijiazhuang, which was to visit the Zhao Zhou Bridge. Built in the early 600s, this is the oldest bridge in China, and the oldest bridge of its type in the world.

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Do you have your driver’s license already? What is some of the cool technology in your country? What is the weirdest food that you’ve tried? Any culinary specialties that you love in your culture? Any burning questions about China?!

 

Here We Are Now by Jasmine Warga // A heartfelt contemporary YA novel

18336972One day, while Taliah’s mother is out of the country, Julian Oliver, the famed rock star, shows up on Taliah’s doorstep. This makes sense – kinda – because Julian Oliver is Taliah’s father, even though her mother would never admit it to her.

Taliah and her best friend Harlow embark on a journey to Julian’s hometown, where Taliah meets Julian’s father – her grandfather – who is nearing the end of his life. But Julian isn’t the father Taliah always hoped for, and revelations about her mother’s past are seriously shaking her foundation. Through all these new experiences, Taliah will have to find new ways to be true to herself, honoring her past and her future.

Young Adult / Contemporary / 304 pages

Ever since reading (and loving) My Heart and Other Black Holes, I’ve been eagerly anticipating this new novel by Jasmine Warga. Here We Are Now did not disappoint- This novel is about love and loss, and hellos and goodbyes. It will pull on your heartstrings, while being grounded in reality.

The characters are the highlight of this novel. They each have their shortcomings and mistakes, which make them all the more real and loveable. I also love how the relationships between the characters change and grow over the course of the novel.

“I think with some people you can just tell you’re going to have a history with them. Even if that history hasn’t happened yet.”

Taliah lives a simple life with her mother. She is a kind-hearted girl, though she builds a wall between herself and the other people in her world. The only people that she lets in are her best friend and her mother, Lena. Taliah has never met her father, though she is convinced that he is no other than Julian Oliver, the lead singer and guitarist of a famous rock band. One day, Julian appears on her doorstep and invites her on a road trip to meet his father who is dying. At first, Taliah is hesitant to trust Julian. After all, how can you trust a father who has never been in your life? As the story progresses, their relationship strengthens.

This novel also tells the story of Lena and Julian’s relationship, how they met and fell in love, and the events that occurred leading up to the present day. Lena was a modern woman who was ambitious and independent. She immigrated to American from Jordan, choosing to pursue her dream while giving up her family and her home. Julian loved music from the bottom of his heart, and he would rather be a musician than carry on his family business. Lena and Julian found solace in each other, because they were both defying their roots in pursuit of a dream. I absolutely loved that there is focus on the parents in this novel- Yes, once upon a time, parents were teens and young adults, and they had their own love stories too.

He reminded her of America. Of her American dream.

There are some elements of romance, but it does not dominate the story. This is refreshing because it is true in real life as well: romance plays a significant part of our lives, but it doesn’t occupy all of our waking moments. I love that there is focus on other important relationships, such as those between family and friends.

I loved Jasmine Warga’s writing style in this novel. There are few characters, and the story is a simple one. Even the scenes and dialogue are written in a simple style that flows. However, it is a story that is rich in meaning, that made me reflect about people and relationships. This novel reminds me that a great story can be written using simple language.

“I like trees.”

“And what do you like so much about them?”

“They’re good listeners. And they know how to let go.”

The Bottom Line:

Here We Are Now is a subtle and heartfelt story that will make you smile, maybe even shed a tear (or two). It is guaranteed to give you the warm and fuzzies.

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Here We Are Now is one of my favourite contemporary YA novels this year, and Jasmine Warga is one of my favourite authors. Do you have any favourites?

WIPPet Wednesday: Harmless Crimes

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Happy Hump Day!

After arriving back from China, I am hit by the super cold weather here in Canada. I am not a big fan of the cold (brrrr), but this singing bear cheers me up:

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Oh, bear, you are a true Canadian. (I am obviously a fake one :’) )

As for the current state of affairs: My manuscript is now in the hands of my trusty beta-readers (people are reading my novel! eek!) And I have been (slowly) researching and plotting my new project, which is a science fiction novel titled Children of the Sun.

Which leads to my question for the writers out there: How do you guys go about researching your novel? Children of the Sun will dabble a bit in astrophysics, genetics, and pharmaceuticals. Though I deal with pharmaceuticals on a daily basis (legally), my Genetics 101 course is a distant memory, and my knowledge of astrophysics is… well, non-existent. I am hoping to find a few good books, and of course, there is always good old trusty Dr. Google :’)

Also! I should mention that Children of the Sun will be a rewrite of a Nanowrimo novel I wrote 10 years ago (when I was 16). You know that amazing feeling when you read something that you wrote a long time ago, expecting it to be terrible, only to find that it’s… kind of… good? That’s how I feel about this one :’)

Because I haven’t picked up the pen yet for this project, I am cheating a bit by sharing a snippet from my original draft, which I may keep, since it captures the essence of the novel:

The best way to deal with this situation, the government said, is to go about it silently, under everyone’s noses. Only through this will the threat be safely eliminated with the least complications.

So much for “a handful of harmless crimes.”

WIPPet Math: 3 sentences for Wednesday.

WIPpet Wednesdays is a blog hop where writers can share a snippet from their WIP. The only stipulation is that the excerpt is somehow related to the date. Be sure to check out some of the other lovely WIPpet snippets here. Thank you Emily Wrayburn for hosting.

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Do you like cold weather, or do you fear it, like me? How do you go about researching your novel? Have you reread any of the works you’ve written a while back?

Come See China with Me! (Part 1)

Hello everyone! I’m back!!

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Some of you may remember me from 2 weeks ago! Yes, I went to visit China, where I was born and raised (can you tell? :P) Now I am excited to share my adventures with you guys.

Disclaimer: Because I am kind of a Chinese person (I say “kind of”, because although I look and speak Chinese, I have a Canadian passport), and I am mostly visiting family in China, you won’t see much touristy stuff here! Instead, you might get a taste of what it is like to live in China as a Chinese person. And you might get to know a bit more about me 😉

Over the past 2 weeks, I visited two cities in China:

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Shijiazhuang is my hometown. It is also the smoggiest city in China. (Shijiazhuang’er’s are almost proud of that. Almost :’) )

Weihai is where my grandparents (from my Mom’s side) live. It is also deemed the city that is most suitable for living in China.

Two very different cities, as you can tell. Today I will show you guys photos from Weihai, because it is the city that I travelled to in the first week of my vacation.

Weihai, China

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Weihai is known for its beaches, blue skies, clean air, and seafood. It is a popular place for people from other parts of China to visit. People often dream of retiring in Weihai (for a good reason!) More photos of the shoreline later!

Two of the middle photos feature one of the many roadside food vendors. In the late mornings and early evenings, you may also spot groups of people crowded around a table on the sidewalk, playing Chinese chess.

I also want to introduce you guys to my co-travellers (aka. my family!) From the left to the right: Mom, Dad, and me. (I know, we all look the same age :P)

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Did I mention that the seafood is amazing in Weihai?! This is one of my favourite photos. (Hint hint: Can you spot the baby crab inside the clam?!)

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We also got to enjoy some amazing home-cooking (courtesy of my oh-so-amazing grandma <3). The dish featured here is called Zha Jiang Mian, which is a noodle dish topped with meat (usually pork) in a soybean paste, and some fresh vegetables (like cucumbers). Did I mention that my grandma makes all her noodles by hand?! This is one of my favourite Chinese dishes of all time.

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One of my favourite activities was to visit the local farmer’s market, where vegetables, herbs, nuts, spices, etc, are sold fresh and at very reasonable prices. You guys get to see my grandma doing some epic bargaining in the photos above.

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Okay, all right, we got to do one touristy thing in Weihai, and that is visiting the Ting Yuen exhibit. (Can you spot me in the line of soldiers?!) Ting Yuen was a battleship that was designed and built in the 1880s, with expertise from shipbuilders in the Great Britain and Germany. The ship participated in the Sino-Japanese war in 1894. (The above picture features a replica of the ship, as the actual Ting Yuen unfortunately did not survive the war.)

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And as promised, one last photo of the beautiful shoreline. Oh! I also get to show you guys one of my favourite fall outfits! As you can see, I am a fan of red and navy blue. That handbag was purchased from a department store in Weihai when I visited 2 years ago (unfortunately the store doesn’t exist anymore!)

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Where have you travelled to recently? Any future travel plans? Do you like home-cooking? What is a favourite dish from your own culture? What is your go-to fall outfit?