About persistence and new habits…

Beep beep beep… The alarm goes off in the morning. Way too early, like everyday. What do you do? Do you hit snooze a few times before you finally stumble out of bed or do you jump out ready to start your day?

Your action has a lot to do with what you think. If you think about all the tasks that are waiting for you, or that annoying colleague that you have to face or that you have to leave your warm bed and are simply not ready to face the cold yet. Then, for sure you will hit snooze.
But… When you think about the things you are grateful for first thing you wake up, then you will feel more energetic and ready to start! You can be grateful for a lot of things, like being healthy, having a place to sleep, having enough food, etc. You get the picture!

There is another way to jump out of bed as soon as the alarm goes off. One that I apply and it really helps me to take immediate action. One of the new habits I wanted to create, was to start exercising in the morning. To be grateful was good to get me out of bed, but not to make me feel motivated to immediately start running or so.
So, now, whenever I want to hit the snooze button I remember the person that I was (and still am) and picture the person I want to become. I create a lot of pain in my mind, that is, I imagine that if I snooze, I will never realize my goals, will not be fit and be just the person I am today or even worse (getting fatter, getting lazier,…).
I, then, picture the joy I would have to get up, do a healthy morning routine of exercise and healthy breakfast that I just jump out of bed and have enough energy to run 10 km or practice Tai Chi or do any other kind of exercise.

That is how I believe we can achieve our goals faster and be more productive: link pain to your past behavior that didn’t serve you and link pleasure to habits that will help you become the person you want to be!

Check my website for more information about what I do:
http://www.bodymindchallenger.org

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Tai Chi as a lifestyle

What is Tai Chi?
When I ask people this question, they picture old Chinese people doing exercise in the park, so they see it mainly as a health exercise.

Did you ever think that Tai Chi could be like an iceberg? The top you see above the water is what you see people doing. The rest (most of the mountain) is hidden under water, like most of Tai Chi is hidden in our bodies and mind.

How to start Tai Chi practice?
Tai Chi starts with basic movements and meditation. For me, I also didn’t like meditation the first months of my Tai Chi practice. I found I didn’t want to waste time to just standing still. I wanted to learn the Tai Chi movements and focused on how to perform them well. It was only after I really put some effort in doing the meditation every day for 15 to 20 minutes that I felt a huge difference. I walked differently, like my feet were sucked to the ground with every step and my Tai Chi practice took a whole other level: I had better balance, better focus, better… just an overall huge improvement of my movements.

The basic movements in Tai Chi consist of the figure 8 movement to loosen your hips and to improve coordination with your legs and arms. Our hips are very stiff, because we always do exercise in a linear way: walk, run, cycle,… Our hips don’t loosen, on the contrary, they become more stiff. With Tai Chi you have to move your hips in a circular way, you will loosen your hips and release any blockages you have in any of your joints.

Further Tai Chi practice
With every Tai Chi movement, you focus on your Dantian, the energy center in your body, located just 2 fingers under your navel. From there the energy moves all over your body, to every limb and back to your center. When you feel uncomfortable in a certain area of your body, you have a blockage there. With continued practice and the flow of the movements and Qi (as your energy is called in Chinese), you will release this blockage.

Tai Chi is much more than just exercise, it works with your energy and enhances the natural healing process of your body.

I welcome everyone to my workshops to experience it for yourself. If you can’t attend, send me a private message and we can do an online session. I don’t like to make videos, because you need a teacher to correct your movements. If you do the movements wrong, you will hurt yourself.

Visit my website: http://www.bodymindchallenger.org

“Kathy De Leye. originally from Belgium, has been in China since 2008 where she has been studying Tai Chi ever since. In 2013, she won a gold and silver medal at an international competition in Henan, China. She received a high score in both the traditional and sword form at the Tai Chi World Championship in 2014, respectively 8.65 for her traditional form and 8.88 for her sword form.
Her aim is to let everyone know the benefits of Tai Chi.”

Communism and Capitalism

Last Saturday, we went to see the movie 芳华, Youth. It’s about young people growing up in the seventies in China. They are part of an arts group of the Communist army and they are singing and dancing to keep morale up for the soldiers and to promote the communist ideas of Mao.

I am fascinated about that time. How can millions of people be captured by the ideas of one leader and still until this day, Mao Zedong is revered by many Chinese as their Big Savior. When I lived in Yangshuo, I could still see his picture hanging in many houses and even though my husband doesn’t really care, he still knows all the songs and he is singing them with a big smile. So, even though he doesn’t want to admit it, but he has the communist ideas as it was still a big part of his childhood.

China is so different from the West in the sense that everyone is following what others are doing. I have difficulties with communicating with Chinese people as they don’t have creative thoughts and no imagination. When they have been more exposed to the West, I can see that they are thinking differently. So, even after decades that Mao has died, he still holds power over this nation. His ideas are still a big part of Chinese culture and many people are singing his songs with great fervor.

That same Saturday evening we went to a friend’s place and were playing monopoly, a capitalist game, although before I never thought about it that much. Eric, my husband never played it and I guess this is what is happening to China now: going from a very communist setting into an ultra-capitalist setting. We experienced all of it in one day.

It is going to be interesting how the future of China is going to look like, but I think it is already remarkable and something unique in history of what they are doing now. They are a capitalist society with a communist political system. The 2 ideologies that are totally opposite of each other, China knows how to combine. These opposites you see reflected everywhere: big neon signs, but then still older people dressed in Mao’s times clothes. Or, like the movie 芳华, shown in movie theaters and still preaching the communist ideology in Western looking malls. We have to cherish these unique Chinese quirks as they will disappear someday.

Also, because Chinese are getting a taste for the first time of their lives of what real capitalism is. That same day, we saw in front of a mall the newest Cadillac being advertised. It was sitting in a big aquarium with fish swimming around the car. That is some big extravagant exhibition and Westerners are amazed that this happens at such a level. We feel it is too over-the-top and we don’t agree with this kind of extravagance, but Chinese love it! They want the bling-bling.

Who can blame them? They have been denied their piece of the cake for a long time and now they are taking their part – big time!

Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet

I just saw the news that Sinterklaas came to Hong Kong and, like everywhere in the world now, caused much controversy. Sinterklaas, Belgian’s and Dutch’ Santa Claus is surrounded by his servants, white people painted black in Moor’s clothes with a black wig.

I am from Belgium and I grew up with this. I never thought much of it, although when I tell this to all expats who don’t know this tradition, they are shocked and find it racist beyond means. Everyone outside of the Netherlands and Belgium think that we should abandon this tradition. But… it is our tradition. I want my children to know Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet. A Sinterklaas without his helpers are not the same. It would be taking the reindeers from Santa Claus.

I know that it is because it is people painted in black paint, but I never thought much of it. These servants were there to take the bad children with them. I didn’t grow up being afraid of black people (even though, I was not exposed to black people. I never saw a ‘real’ black person until I was a teenager). But, even though these Zwarte Pieten (Black Petes) were always teasing to take you away because you might have been naughty, I was more afraid of this big white man with his long white beard as he had a book in where it was written on how bad and how many times I had been bad throughout the year.

This is the tradition: Sinterklaas (St Nicolas) is coming on 6 December (in Belgium) and on 5 December (in Holland). He comes by ship from Spain together with his servants. He goes through the chimney and gives toys, chocolate and biscuits to the children. He had a white horse to carry all the toys. So, we would put a carrot and some sugar in our shoes and put it in front of the chimney for the horse. The morning of 6 December, we would go downstairs and the living room was full of toys, chocolate and biscuits, sometimes hidden, so we had to look behind the sofa and so on.

It is a beautiful tradition. I remember all the stories around it. We have hundreds of songs to sing around that festival. We really believed everything of it, until the age of 8 and our parents told us that they bought the toys and sweets. Every school, every shopping mall, every company had their Sinterklaas. And even, when I worked at a company, the morning of the December 6, we would have sweets lying on our desk (if you had a generous boss). The whole of Belgium and the Netherlands are very excited and have much fun during that time. We don’t really have a Santa Claus, which is an American tradition that now came to Belgium as well, like Halloween.

So, don’t take away local traditions, we are being Americanized too much already!

Bridge between East and West

On Wednesday evening November 15, my husband and I went to Guangzhou to celebrate the Belgian King’s Day. There was a delegation from Belgium of ICT firms to find a collaboration with Chinese companies.

Our king has come to China already a few times and my country has very good economic relations with China. I am also happy to see that our country is advancing in modern technology and that we are making a great effort to also learn from China and exchange knowledge.

My husband and I started a new business: help Chinese to sell on Amazon, be their agents but also give trainings. I will be responsible for Social Media advertising. So, I will help to advertise on Facebook, Youtube and Instagram for Chinese sellers.

For years, I have been living in China and I see how many things Chinese do different than Westerners. So, when they need to promote their products to the West, they have to adapt the Western style of writing and showing pictures or videos that appeal to Westerners.

When I see a description on Amazon, I can almost immediately see that it has been written by a Chinese. It is careless (has spelling mistakes) and it only describes features. There are no descriptions to get to the emotions of the people. When we want to sell something, we don’t always have to just show the product and hope that people will buy. We have to attract the customers to buy this by touching their emotions.

I like this business, because it builds a bridge between the West and the East and this was always my dream to do. Although, I didn’t know it would have been in this way. I thought I would teach about European culture to Chinese, but now, I am going to teach about European consumerism. Which, you may think, is the new culture of the world.

My updated website

I have been working on this project for more than 2 years – if you count the years I have been practicing martial arts to the level on where I feel myself good enough to teach it, it would be more than 15 years altogether.

I feel exhilarated at this, because this is something I created all by myself and I want to teach people on how to live the life they want! What is a life not lived intensely anyway?

Please comment below on what you think and how I could help you!

http://www.bodymindchallenger.org