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How to be happy and healthy for life

© tinylittletea

When you peel the layers of a person, it just comes down to skin, flesh, and bones. At least, this is what most people would agree.

We often forget that further still, right underneath our rib cage, there is the beating heart, and further beyond the heart seats the soul.

Considering the skin is the largest organ in the human body, it’s easy to think that it’s everything. Our looks, our image, our reputation. People go crazy these days, doing everything they can to make their skin tight and appear “right” and inject artifices with all their might, but they still perish. What happens to the flesh? It lusts after a particular appearance and envies those particulars of others. While it’s busy lusting and envying and greedily hauling the latest technologies to operate their skin, the flesh loses its density over time, as constant as gravity pulls, and all these sagging mass won’t be able to support itself with weak, drying bones.

All the while, everything beyond the heart is neglected. People would nod in agreement with the adage, the heart is fragile. But you know what’s even more fragile? These layers above it that’s supposed to protect it: Our bones, our flesh, our skin. It’s one big vessel that withers with age, and someday, layer by layer, it will turn back into dust.

The soul, on the other hand, is eternal. Where it may go after the rest of you died is up for question. Regardless of your choosing1, it’s where true healing begins. It’s the center where your spirit23 sovereigns over all the layers of your self, the impartial atom of your very being. That moment you feel empty inside? That’s when you forget the soul’s existence, after too much complying, complaining, and compromising. As your vessel undergoes the copious operations you let it through, the light within you wanes and wrinkles and wastes away. It vanishes, even, when you neglect it long enough.

So what’s a girl to do from hereon?

Be true to your soul, first and foremost, always. Walk in the spirit4, and it will protect you from all forms of dis-ease.

Guard your heart5, keep it safe, avoid toxins from penetrating6, and pace yourself7 accordingly, as your life depends on it.

Fortify your bones, because you don’t wanna become deformed8.

Discipline your flesh9. You want to stay focused and keep yourself upright for good10.

Protect your skin. It’s the only channel your light permeates through11.


  1. Luke 13:3 []
  2. Genesis 1:26-27 []
  3. John 10:34 []
  4. Galatians 5:16-18 []
  5. Proverbs 4:23-27 []
  6. 1 Thessalonians 4:3 []
  7. Proverbs 3:6 []
  8. Levicitus 21:18-23 []
  9. 1 Thessalonians 4:4 []
  10. 1 Corinthians 9:25-27 []
  11. Matthew 5:14-16 []
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37 totally legit reasons why you should take up tennis


© tinylittletea
© tinylittletea

1. Tennis engages you physically as well as both mentally and emotionally – an all-rounder for your health.

2. It helps you stay in shape. And no, round is not a shape.

3. You’re less likely to get sick too, obvs.

4. You’ll burn fat and build muscles simultaneously. #timesaver

5. That said, you become more efficient with your time at the gym, ’cause you already get both cardio and resistance training in one game of tennis.

6. Which is why it’s an excellent, non-boring cross-training for those of you specializing in any other particular sport.

7. I mean, you ever watched Federer play? His movements are fluid and his limbs are flexible, pretty much all the requirements you need to do yoga.

8. Or what about Rafa? His hits explosive, his core strong, his strikes consistently powerful, his feet constantly moving. These are the hallmark skills of a true boxer.

9. You also get to understand your own pace and rhythm in your movements (long-distance runners, anyone?).

10. Tennis reduces stress. Something about running around, sweating it out, moving around, changing directions, sometimes lunging, often dashing, constantly reaching and jumping and striking the fuzzy yellow balls … that loses the appeal of yoga classes and hitting punch bags.

11. The more you play it, the more agile you become. You know when and where to start, stop, and pivot in unpredictable directions.

12. In between watching the oncoming ball and determining the perfect contact point, you’re improving your hand-eye coordination faster than playing Flappy Bird.

13. You simply become more alert than most people, especially in today’s ADHD-driven world.

14. You’ll develop an impressive reaction time. It’ll come in handy in daily life as well.

15. You’re more coordinated than non-tennis-playing people, ’cause you need to move quickly into position and adjust your body accordingly to hit the ball.

16. You a become a better decision-maker. There’s a longer anticipation between your opponent hitting the ball and you hitting back compared to other racquet sports. This allows for a timeframe to plan and act on a powerful countermove immediately, as the game is all about quick maneuvers (and not just hitting back and forth mindlessly).

17. This way, you’re going become a much more disciplined person, because as long as you’re on the court, you’re constantly practicing control.

18. Over time, you’ll also fail better. You learn that in order to win, minimizing errors is critical.


19. It’s a social sport. “Hanging out” with your buddies is interchangeable with “playing tennis”.

20. Plus, you increase your social skills. In between pre-match, switching sides on court, and after play, you chat, listen, laugh, help, take turns and just getting along with your playmates.

21. You become more confident about yourself. Hitting with power, increased fitness, anticipating problems, efficient problem-solving, learning from mistakes, improved overall performance, better mood, social validation, hello?

22. THE shot. Nothing feels better than hitting the ball the way you do in your head.

23. For as long as you play doubles, you learn the true meaning of teamwork.

24. You’ll master the art of fair play.

25. Consequently, you’ll also get more business connections. I mean, c’mon, golf? You’re barely burning calories.

26. Speaking of which, you burn an average 520 calories an hour playing singles1. Sounds better than a solitary HIIT sesh, eh?

27. As physicians and scientists always say, it’s THE sport for a lifetime. You can no longer to kick, dunk, hike, dive or score a touchdown 50 years later. But hey, you can still swing your racquet with style.

28. You’ll also live longer, btw. Scientists have proven this.

29. And play with your kids.

30. And get leggy like Ana and Maria and Daniela.

31. Not to mention that it’s the only sport where you get to wear a cute dress.

32. You’ll have stronger bones later in life.

33. And you learn that it’s important to keep moving – in tennis and in life. #footwork #resilience

34. You also learn how to remain gracious, both in victory and in loss.

35. And you will form lifelong friendships, ’cause those who sweat together,  stick together.

36. That said, you no longer feel the “work” in working up a sweat.

37. Because it’s recreational, it’s competitive, and it’s just plain fun.


Are you watching the Wimbledon this year?



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  1. An estimate for the 155-pound person. [The Healthy Eating Guide] []
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Make ’em hate you: 3 essential oils that repel mosquitoes


As you may know, I’m a big fan of essential oils. They’re like little bottles of elixir that can heal every health and beauty need you can possibly imagine.


Now you might also know that I’ve been experimenting with mosquito traps and repellants. As promised, I’m sharing the ways that work and dismissing those that won’t.

Essential oils is just one way, and by far the best one IMO. This is because these plant concentrates are so versatile that you can use them to your advantage: Inhale the fragrance using a diffuser, ingest the essence with a dilution, and directly applying the oils across your skin.

My favorite way is the last – using them topically. It’s not your room or your internal organs that’s concentrated with the aromas – it’s every inch of you where mosquitoes can bite. All the places they can suck blood is tainted, and this ultimately makes mosquitoes hate you. Just remember not to overdo it, because we’re going full-on undiluted with volatile oils here. But trust me, it works.


For the untrained nose, patchouli smells like your granny’s clothes. But the musky essence is my go-to scent whenever I’m looking to calm my mind or just looking to ground myself. In ancient Asia, silk traders used to pack patchouli leaves with their silk cloths to prevent moths from laying eggs, while in the 60s, patchouli was the rage when it comes to incense. Some even use it as an aphrodisiac, but I’m afraid you perfumed with patchouli could repel both the mosquitoes and your boyfriend (true story).

Based on this 2005 study, patchouli was one of the 4 fragrances that provided 2 hours of complete repellency from mosquitoes (along with clove, citronella, and makhwaen). While I haven’t tried makhwaen before, I can testify that citronella also works, but patchouli is better when you’re easing yourself to sleep. Citronella is for when I’m out playing tennis and sweating, and we all know all that heat and sweat and CO2 are evermore delicious for mosquitoes.

Alternatives: Citronella, catnip, thyme

This scent you’ll associate most with cough syrups, medicated oils, and Fisherman’s Friend. If you’re a fan of minty freshness, then eucalyptus is your friend, only much stronger. Contrary to popular belief, eucalyptus does not belong to the mint family. It belongs to the myrtle family, from where other woodier scents such as cajeput, clove, guava and allspice also belong.

You’re probably already using eucalyptus for throat, breathing, and digestive problems, but now you can also cash in on it to avoid the harmful side effects of DEET-based repellants (eucalyptus-based repellants works better) and to prevent mosquito larvae from growing in the first place.

Alternatives: Lemon eucalyptus, lemongrass, peppermint

I have a theory on why cloves are so warm and spicy: They have the highest antioxidant capacity of most, if not all plants (1,078,700 µTE/100 g) on earth. I found this fact when I found the ORAC chart from the USDA Database, so if you’re looking for the most powerful antioxidant activity from the inside-out (and in this case, vice versa), go with the cloves. The spice remains an important commodity in the trade from ancient times till today, and as an Indonesian I’m proud to say the myrtle plant is native to Indonesia.

Today, aside from cooking, people are also using cloves as mouthwashes and for overall dental health. Not to mention that of all the essential oils we’ve covered so far, clove oil worked the best on me to keep myself free from mozzie bites all night. Based on the study we mentioned earlier, clove oil provides the longest time of 100% repellency, up to 4 hours compared to the 2 hours of other oils (as well as the other oils in this 1999 study). Bottom line: Clove oil’s efficacy against mosquitoes is proven legit. So start hauling the spice before food and drug companies mark up the price.

Alternatives: Fennel, vanilla, garlic

Still not convinced? Try going one night with any one of these oils to sleep. Rub just 1-2 drops of the oil on your face and neck. Not only are you going to sleep tighter, the nasty midgets are going to flee from you all dusk and all dawn.



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My 6 morning habits



We’re still in the season of resolutions-making, so I thought it fitting for me to share some of the things I do in the morning. The more I grow older, the more I realize it’s easier to make changes if we take things one day at a time. While some aren’t a daily habit, I’ve been pretty consistent that most of them have become second nature:


But first, water


I simply can’t get up without sipping H2O. Every morning I wake feeling dehydrated, and I guess that’s a no-brainer for someone who guzzles about 4 liters a day. You actually lose more than a pound of water weight during sleep, so it’s important to replenish the system after it’s lost so much.

As to why I have a kiddy water bottle, it’s because my previous 2 Rubbermaids spill easily even after I secured the cap. They were fine the first few months I got them. And then after that they’ll drench everything in my bag, on my car seat, and then over my clothes some more.

I bought this 1-liter bottle from a Toys Kingdom store. It was pleasant a surprise – you won’t expect to find quality water bottles here (out of all places). For months I’ve looked for something to replace my Rubbermaid. I’d go hardware stores and dishware stores – nothing. At least, not one 1-liter BPA-free water bottle that’s durable. I was looking for something along the lines of those from Camelbak, so it’s great to find that my kiddy bottle was perfect: It’s made from Eastman Tritan copolyester, meaning it’s really 100% BPA-free and not just labelled “BPA-free” for marketing reasons.


And yes in case you wondered, I’ve been ridiculed quite a few times, but who cares? Safety first. Honestly, the chillaxing frog is also part of the reason why I picked this up from Toys Kingdom. If only they have pigs.


Read the Word


I’m so guilty for not reading the Word every single day even though I have an incredible app for that (DailyBible). But aren’t we all like that? When everything’s fine and going well in our lives, we stop talking to God – not even when worry. Only when trouble comes then we find God for help and ask for “miracles”. The verse today resonated with where I am today as well as where I am in my life right now. I wouldn’t have the ability to type these words if He didn’t sculpt my fingers and my brain.


Have a fruit


Longtime readers, you know I was force-fed with an apple and a boiled egg every single day. It wasn’t that hard with eggs because I love dairy, but with fruits, my mom had fought a long but worthy battle: She tried slicing it, juicing it, sneaking it in my lunchboxes and so on. Now that I’m a full-grown woman, I cannot start a day without an apple. I even have apple cravings.

Recently, I was hit with a fever and a diarrhea (January 1st to be specific … depressing, I know). The fever part got away quickly with some prescriptions from the doctor, but for someone who’s easily a fruit queen, this means I haven’t had any mangoes or papayas or kiwifruits in the last 5 days. The only fruit I was allowed was apple, because pectin. So far it feels like a newfound appreciation for the fruit, and Fuji’s juiciness has become an indulgence.

So if you only have 1 serving of fruits today, make it an apple.


Make a to-do list


I never understood productive people who functions without a list: How do they do it? Even if they’re not using the easiest-possible-to-use app on their mobile phone, they must have some kind of a pen-and-paper post-it somewhere in their pocket.

Over the years I’ve been doing just that – doing a brief rundown of all the things I have to do that day and ticking them away as the day goes by. It gets messy because I had so much paper waste. Now I just make a private list on the go on this social list-making site because I don’t want others to know that I’m this OCD when it comes to making lists … but now you do.



Get sweaty


Okay. Another private list that I keep is a weekly mileage that will compound to so much in a year. The fact that can I see how many miles I can run in 50 minutes this year and last year (as well as the previous year) itself is a motivation to get some serious sweat. As to why this habit doesn’t feature a gym selfie, it’s because I tend to avoid the mirror during a sweat sesh (and also, read this). It can make or break your workout, depending on your personality. My tendency is going Sherlock with every imperfection I have on the image, so you get the point.


Drink tea


Like most people, I can’t function without caffeine. Tea is the second most widely consumed beverage in the world after water, so ironically it feels redundant for me to share this as an additional habit … because everybody drinks tea, right? However, most people around me aren’t exactly everyday tea drinkers, even though drinking as many cups of tea as the average Joe would have his daily coffee offers tons of benefits (Lifehacker: The coffee lover’s guide to tea). I mean, this couple switched from coffee to green tea entirely and ended up calling the beverage the panacea.

Though you will not get the caffeine kick from teas immediately, anything red, green, and white works excellent to keep my energy up and stabilize my mood all day. If you’re not as tolerant with caffeine like I do, you may already be drinking teas, and black tea might even be your exception like it is for me. Black tea (ceylon, english breakfast, lapsang souchong) is the tea variety that’s most oxidized and therefore contains the most caffeine. I actually suspect the diarrhea came from drinking this Chinese black tea I’ve had in my cupboard for months, as the tin still got about 2 ounces of tea leaves left. It’s the first black tea I’ve downed in ages … and I shivered like I do with coffee.


What about you? Are you a coffee or tea drinker? Is there a healthy habit you’re trying to cultivate this year? Tell me how you’re planning to change your habits in 2015 in the comments section below.



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More energy, better mood: 2 herbal remedies




The last time I covered on adaptogens, I posted about how I try to take ginseng and jiaogulan on a daily basis. They’re also 2 of TCM’s most beloved herbs up to this day for a reason, so I suggest you take a look at the post before reading more on this. Right now I’m going to delve into the 2 adaptogenic herbs I promised at the end of that post that boosts overall mood and energy levels: Licorice root and cordyceps.

Continue reading More energy, better mood: 2 herbal remedies

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2 powerful herbs for vitality



In most Asian households, meals are often prepared with herbal ingredients that have long been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Mine was no different – while as a kid I used to hate the weird dates, the black chicken essence and all those bitter roots in soups she prepares, I eventually learned to love them since I started cooking. This soup was one example, but there are many more herbs in the Materia Medica that I now ingest regularly. The following are just the 2 I try to take everyday.

Continue reading 2 powerful herbs for vitality