Vol. VII No. 22 - Tuesday
May 27 - June 2, 2008



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by Saichon Paewsoongnern


Chiang Mai FeMail
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Motivation, motivation, motivation!

Frazzled Farang Lady In Awe of Wat Squirrels

Thank you, World!

OPINION

 

Welcome to this week’s Femail page. A success story, that amazing Canadian couples efforts to help the victims of Nargis - and they were only here on a visit - amazing timing, don’t you think! Another story from our favourite frazzled farang lady - this time it’s those lovely little tree squirrels - in the UK we call them tree shrews although they don’t live there - they are so, so cute. And a reminder to motivate yourselves to continue with your fitness regime!
Good things and bad things this week; the appalling genocide in Burma continues, (no surprise there, then), and here in Chiang Mai, we’re asked again, this time at a major seminar held last Friday, to give our comments and suggestions to the Mayor about ways to improve the city we’ve grown to love! Surely this must be a “first” in Thailand - to be considered by the local authority to be citizens of what is now our home town rather than just “guests”, with the temporary status that word implies? And actually being asked for our suggestions and opinions…Wow! Let’s hope that concept spreads as far as the government, although we won’t be sitting on a hot stove waiting…
Question - why does it seem easier for women to form a community in the real sense, across language and other barriers, than it is for men? Answer???? Maybe it’s because we women don’t need language to communicate. Aren’t we lucky! Have a good week, and don’t forget to email either Khun Boong or this paper with suggestions to improve our local environs here in Chiang Mai. Email addresses are on the Welcome to Chiang Mai page. Go for it!

Motivation, motivation, motivation!

John Bailey
A timely reminder of the most essential aspect of any exercise regime - MOTIVATION. For some people, sadly the minority, no problem; for the rest of us humans, (myself included), coming to terms with the requirements of your exercise regime and following it through is not always as easy as it seemed at first!
The bottom line goes like this - how badly do you want to be an achiever; how badly do you want to lose that extra weight, improve your health and change your lifestyle for the better? That’s it. The rest is up to you.
In my own past experience, setting real, achievable goals from day one is the most effective way to avoid the “I’ll just skip today’s session” hump, which inevitably hits in after you have been exercising for a while. Today’s session become this week’s sessions, and time passes quickly! Setting goals to help you get over this is referred to in the trade as the “S.M.A.R.T” approach - in that your goals should be Specific, Measurable, Agreed, Realistic and Time-Based. For example: Specific - I will focus on losing 20 kg in 6 months; Measurable - I will check my weight every week, my BMI every 4 weeks, and keep a log of my exercise programme; Agreed - I will agree to the above with a) myself and b) my trainer, or doctor, or husband, etc; Realistic - Having thought this through, I believe that I can achieve what I need; Time-based - The time that I give to achieving my goals, (e.g. one hour per day five times per week), will be maintained. The beauty of this approach is that you set your own goals; you can change them if you wish, as long as you stick to your new plan.
Of course, we are all human; some days you may have other priorities, or feel a little stiff, or sore, or even fed up! At this point, even the single-minded amongst us need a coping strategy. Try music - play something which makes you want to move or even dance. Keep your trainers just outside the front door - we get to do this here anyway - find a training partner and agree to call her half an hour before you are due to meet at the gym, then switch your phone off so that you can’t change your mind!
Tell friends that you are at the gym at certain regular times in the week - it’s as good as a “do not disturb” sign. The best coping strategy of all, though, is just to remember how good you feel, both mentally and physically, after your workout! Rome wasn’t built in a day - but it did get finished, and it is beautiful…
If you really are feeling low on energy, do try to get to the gym anyway, s even if you exercise on a reduced level, you are maintaining your continuity - very important. Individuals tend to work out their own motivational tricks and strategies - some very bizarre ideas have been presented to me in the past - as long as something works, no problem! Remember that you are setting out on a journey which will eventually result in a whole new, and much healthier, way of life. There are bound to be ups and downs along the way, the same as in life itself, and I can promise you that the longer you exercise regularly, the more you will feel the benefits, and the fewer problems you will have with motivation!
I had intended to write about diet and upper body exercises in this article as a follow-on from last week, but seem to have run out of space! So - next week we will cover those topics - in the meantime, give your motivation more than one thought!

 

Frazzled Farang Lady In Awe of Wat Squirrels

J. Harcourt
When you think of wat animals, you usually think of dogs. Lying around in the sun, occasionally looking up the skirt of a scantily dressed tourist. Life is slow and peaceful. Their only annoyances are the wat chickens, who intimidate everyone.
The real cartoon characters are the wat squirrels. They lead an enchanted life. That’s because wats have lot of trees, and no little boys with sling shots. We used to live on the fifth floor of a guesthouse that overlooked Wat Lam Chang. It was a show every morning. Wat squirrels are early morning critters, up and running by the time we poured our first cup of coffee. They ran with frantic nervousness, as if their day had started with a double espresso. Their habit is to do all the shopping and household chores in the cool of the morning, and do no work in the afternoon, smart tropical planning.
We always ate breakfast at our window, watching the squirrels’ version of Cirque du Soleil. In the fresh air of morning, they raced up and down, and across the trees, with endless energy. After running from tree to tree, for a grand finale, they always ran to the top of the red tile roof of the temple. With expert balance, they raced along the spine of the roof, at dazzling speed. Pausing at the end, they flicked their tails with tremendous attitude. They had plenty of equipment for their high wire act, as telephone and electric wires are plentiful in Chiang Mai, useful for traveling around the squirrel neighborhood, for outside shopping.
One morning, during breakfast, a squirrel climbed to the very top of the fifty foot palm tree, in the middle of the wat. We watched with awe, our spiraled pineapple halfway to our lips. Blinking only twice, he had a solid look of determination on his face. He paused a few seconds to fuel up his courage. Then, with wild abandon, he threw himself into a tree at LEAST 30 feet below. Flailing wildly through the air, he made a perfect landing. He hung on to the swaying branch, as we gasped with astonishment. As he proudly raced across the temple roof, we realized something shocking. He WASN’T a flying squirrel. What a guy!! What courage!!
A week or so later, while swilling green tea and chasing slippery mango slices around our plate, we saw another squirrel speeding up the same palm tree. We focused on his brave assent, anticipating it to be a repeat performance of the harrowing leap the week before. He paced around in the top of the tree, with all the nervousness of a shoplifter. Then he looked around and sniffed again. Then he turned and sniffed again. We realized he was stalling. He inspected the entire top of the tree, buying time while trying to gather nerve. Suddenly, the little coward ran MORE than halfway down the tree. He made a pathetic jump into a dense branch about 10 inches away. What a disappointment!!! No victory lap on the temple roof for that little under achiever!!
Settling back to our diced mango, wrapped in disappointment, I had a sinister thought. I bet if we stir-fried him, he’d taste like chicken!!!


Thank you, World!

A very welcome report was received late last week from the Canadian Rotarian couple who, during a brief visit to Chiang Mai, became passionately involved in the relief efforts for the victims of Cyclone Nargis. Despite trials, tribulations and bureaucratic chaos and confusion, they inspired 77 organisations and individuals, both Thai and foreign, to contribute towards the total raised of $13,547! Their efforts are now focused on distributing the funds to the disaster victims through the UK Rotary-inspired charity Shelterbox, whose representatives are on the ground in the Irrawaddy Delta. Donations to the website are now closed, and donors will be kept in the loop as regards further progress. A quote from the couple includes this message:
“Thank you again. Without you, we would not have been able to make such a difference to the victims of Cyclone Nargis, which has ravaged a nation, and whose victims are still suffering”.


OPINION

Contrasts are all around us, provided we open our awareness and feel - looking is not enough. Even in our home countries this was true; here in Thailand it is even more true. Everyday journeys provide opportunities; the kids selling garlands at the traffic lights as we drive our extended “Chelsea Tractors” into town for an evening meal with friends at a well-known restaurant; the roadside food vendors, their customers feeding themselves on a budget and providing the nightly meal for the street dogs with the leftovers; the Burmese labourers in their thrown-together huts on the yet uncompleted moo baan, hoping that the rain will stop so that they can get paid a few baht for a day’s work and eyeing the fish in the nearby lake in case it doesn’t stop.
Contrasts - the world and its governments’ amazing, freely given generosity at the time of the tsunami; the world’s less freely given generosity at the time of Cyclone Nargis, logically explained by a fear that money will end up in military pockets, and the goods will end up being sold in markets in southern China. And the biggest contrast of all at this present time - between one closed and non-democratic society’s reaction to a mega-disaster and its dead and desperate, and another’s.
China’s reaction to the need for outside help to deal with the effects of the earthquake in Sichuan province, and its comparative honesty in admitting casualty numbers, has surprised many, particularly after its behaviour during the procession of the Olympic torch around the world, and in Tibet. An emerging world leader, as many experts are tipping China to be, needs to do just that - emerge - and to do it in a manner that the rest of the world does not find threatening.
In contrast, who in the world was surprised at the Myanmar Junta’s reaction to the devastation and death caused by Nargis? Very few, we suspect, and certainly no-one in governments, the UN and aid agencies. Yet, as condemnation and anger grows, both worldwide and in Burma itself, governments and the UN do what they are comfortable with - form committees to form more committees, and talk, talk, talk whilst people die, die , die. All over Thailand, civil groups, small aid organisations, churches, NGOs, and ordinary people who find that they “have to do something”, come together with one aim - to relieve suffering, and prevent, if possible, ethnic cleansing on a huge scale of the 60% of the Irrawaddy Delta’s population who belong to the Karen peoples. In Bangkok, a man sits in government, and accepts a Burmese general’s statement that all is well - his military can handle all that is necessary. Contrasts.



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