100+ Day Love and Run Challenge

Follow me on my journey of love, running, and becoming an author.


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Challenge Your Potential

IMG_6604I don’t know about you, but I enjoy constantly challenging myself, overcoming difficulties, learning new things, new skills, and gaining new knowledge. I enjoy moving forward in life and “stretching” my potential. I believe I can do so much more and be so much more than I am today, because of the hidden untapped potential within. According to Wikipedia, “potential” usually refers to a currently unrealized ability; potential is like a hidden “treasure” within yet to be discovered. So, how do you discover your potential?

When I was a child, I was involved in a variety of sports, but running became my favorite; though I was good at other sports, I knew I had huge potential as a runner, and I developed that skill through the years. At school, I wasn’t good at math, but I loved humanitarian subjects, I loved reading books, writing diaries, and I continued to develop my potential in the field of reading and writing.

Eventually, I became a journalist, and now I’m also on a journey of writing my first book. I believe some of our potential is inherited genetically; my maternal grandfather was a self-taught visual artist and talent for art runs deep in our family roots. Interestingly, my daughter excels at both: sports and art. As a teacher, my mother has always been good at public speaking, and I happen to be very confident speaking in front of an audience as well.

We all have a tremendous amount of potential within to do something unique and be someone unique. Potential is like that “path within” that will lead you to self-actualization in life that we all long for. Our deep need is to realize our potential. Research says that we don’t use more than 10% of our human potential capacity, so the potential we carry inside has no limits, unless we allow our own thoughts or the thoughts of others to limit our abilities.

Did you know, Spanish artist Pablo Picasso in 78 years produced around 13,500 paintings or designs; 100,000 engravings or prints; 34,000 book illustrations and 300 sculptures! Thomas Edison patented 1100 inventions! Doesn’t it make you think how tremendous the power of our human potential is?! One of the greatest Olympians, Michael Phelps, once trained for five years without a break –  three hundred and sixty five days a year, for at least four or five hours a day in the pool. When someone asked him why would anyone do that, he replied, “Because I wanted to be the best there had ever been, and that’s what it takes.” It takes strong will and determination to discover and fulfill your potential.

Surprisingly, it is never too late to realize your potential. Margaret Hagerty holds a Guinness record for the oldest woman to run marathons on seven continents. She quit smoking and started running at age 64, and now the 90-year-old has done 80 marathons as well as many other races.

Margaret says, “You do not know what is possible until you try the impossible and make a hard fought effort to succeed. You will be amazed at what you can achieve.”

Often, we limit ourselves by our own beliefs or by the beliefs others have about us; or we limit ourselves by the belief system of the society we’re in; or we limit ourselves by the adversities we face in life. Despite all these, your potential is intact; it belongs to you and for you to use it for your own good and for the good of others. You’re so much more than you can think of or imagine.

What do you do to challenge your potential? What do you want to excel at?

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I Stand for Human Rights

Blog0328I think we can all relate to injustice being done to us at different points in our lives. We can experience injustice in our family, or with our friends, or at school, or at work, or in our communities. It happens every day, everywhere in the world; it happens to children, men, and women. Injustice hurts, because we all want to be treated fairly, with love and respect, in spite of our colour, gender, socio-economic or cultural background, religious beliefs or other characteristics. We all want to be accepted just as we are. We want to feel as if we belong, even if we are all so different. As a child, I experienced a lot of abuse at home and I was bullied at school. As a teenager, in my relationships with others, I suffered from very low self-esteem, as I thought I had to somehow “earn” acceptance from other people. I was afraid to be myself and to freely express myself. As an adult, I went through a lot of abuse in my marriage that ended in divorce, because I decided to stand for my rights and stand for my human dignity. I decided I want to be free. Free from abuse, from oppression, and free from fear. That one important vital decision was a turning point that helped me gain my freedom and dignity back, and now I’m on a mission to help others do the same.

As a passionate advocate for human rights, I’ve been involved in combating human trafficking internationally and locally for the last four years, raising awareness in the communities and educating others on how to prevent it. The purpose behind my “100+ Day Love and Run Challenge” book project is to have half of the profit from the sales of the book go to two local non-profit organizations: ACT Alberta and WIN House, to help victims of human trafficking and victims of domestic abuse reclaim their freedom back. At a  recent Annual Diversity, Equity and Human Rights (DEHR) Conference in Edmonton, organized by the Alberta Teacher’s Association, I had the privilege and opportunity to also represent ACT Alberta and spread awareness on human trafficking by talking to people, giving out brochures, and networking. It gives me confidence to know the association fosters equity, human rights, social responsibility, and justice. Human trafficking is the most cruel violation of human rights and human dignity that happens not only throughout the world, but here in Canada and within Alberta. I believe it is mine and your responsibility to say “no” to this injustice. I believe we can unite and gather all the resources we have to stand boldly and protect the rights of those oppressed by human trafficking and abuse. I believe we all have the right to live in a free, just, and peaceful society. I believe we all can make it happen. I believe we all can offer love and compassion. I believe we all can give back peace and freedom to those who lost it, because peace and freedom is for all. Author David Levithan said, “There is no such thing as equality for some. Equality must be for all. That is what freedom is. That is what liberty is. No human being is born more important than the other.”


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Mother and Daughter Sports Team

IMG_6598Just recently, on the last day of my 100 days of running, when I successfully completed my personal challenge, my 8 year-old daughter Rosanna thoughtfully asked me, “Mama, if I run a marathon in the summer, will I get a medal too, like you did?” She was referring to the first marathon that I ran in the summer of 2013. My heart was filled with so much joy to hear her say that, and to know that she wants to follow my example as a passionate sports activist! So I reassured her, “Of course you will get a medal, but you need to cross the  finish line! How about we train together and run as a team? 5k would be a good start for you?!” Full of enthusiasm and excitement, we ran to the store, bought her new runners, and that’s how the ‘Mother and Daughter Sports Team’ was formed.

Though we regularly attend  recreation centres to participate in fun sports activities together, this is something totally different. This is now an intentional commitment to go to the gym a few times a week and train for a marathon together as a family. Our first run together was as much fun as it was exhilarating. To see my daughter run 4k—and run ahead of me!—with such ease and determination was simply spectacular. To see how much effort she puts into running and pushing forward—step, after step, after step, and not giving up—makes me a proud parent.

“Loving a sport will teach children vital life skills – discipline, motivation, commitment, and cooperation,” says Laurie Zelinger, Ph. D., a clinical child psychologist. Since I developed a love for sports in my childhood, now as a mother I choose to nurture that same good habit in my daughter. I want her to learn that leading a healthy lifestyle is your own choice and your own responsibility. Who, if not a parent, is the first person to set an example for their child in terms of sports (and just about everything else)?

When my daughter started to walk at 9 months old, playground were the best place to go and  have fun together. From playing hide and seek to chasing each other, going down the slides, and going on the monkey bars, until I was tired and she was not, we spent countless hours not  only bonding together, but promoting each other’s physical fitness and love for sports. When Rosanna  turned 1 year old, we started going swimming regularly. When she was 5, her grandmother taught her how to ride a bike. At 7, she tried gymnastics and totally fell in love with the sport. In fact, she’s so good at it that they let her skip two levels to challenge her more. As a mother, I encourage her to work hard and I can see that she excels.

While watching the Winter Olympics together this year, and watching Canadian athletes get medals and achieve their dreams of becoming a champion, I imagined one day my daughter becoming a world champion too. Sports expand your child’s horizon, makes them dream big, and helps them to achieve big. Sports build their confidence and self-esteem and their overall well-being in life. So why not build your own family sports team and see where the journey takes you.


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100 Days of Love

IMG_6583“Love & Run Challenge” Day 100

If I asked you what is the most beautiful feeling one can experience as a human being, you would most likely say that it’s “love”, and that would probably be true for all 7 billion people in the world. Though we all have our own definition of love, we all know and understand love when we see it, when we feel it, and when we experience it. With so many different ethnicities, religions, cultures, languages, values, and beliefs in our world, the one universal, most powerful force that transcends all that is love. Love is freedom. Love is peace. Love is healing. Love is kindness. Love is inspiration. Love is not only a source of life, but love is life itself.

Throughout centuries and generations, love inspired authors, musicians, and artists to create masterpieces to keep us all in awe and wonder. Love is the one active force behind so many successful people whether in business, or politics, or sports. Though extraordinary and divine in its nature, love is “ordinary” in that it’s meant for all of us to have and share with each other. Deep down in our hearts, we all want and need love. Love is as necessary as water, food, and air, so we can live a happy, healthy, and fulfilled life.

Here’s something I find very interesting: when I googled “love,” it showed 1 billion and 570 million search results. When I googled “fear,” it showed only 119 million search results. Doesn’t this make you think that love stands out, that love is above all, and that love conquers  fear? You either surrender to love or you surrender to fear. You either live your life filled with love, or you live it filled with fear—it’s up to you.

In my “100+ Day Love & Run Challenge” book project, I purposefully took it upon myself to not only run for 100 days straight, but also to explore and share love with others for those 100 days too. I wanted see how love can really make a difference in this world. If love is wishing well and doing good for others, and if each one of us here on earth were to implement this “love formula” even in a small way, this world could be freed from evil. Though “100 Days of Love” is more metaphorical and taken as only a cut of time, I wanted to see how much impact one human being could bring into a community when acting with and doing things out of love. You’ll be able to read the full account of my love journey when the book is published.

Among many good things I have learned about love, one of the things that really made an impression on me is that love carries so much divine healing power. It can heal not only our hearts, but love has the power to heal the whole world from all its turmoil. The whole world is hurting because of the lack of love, and because love is the answer, guns and wars won’t solve problems and bring peace into the world—but love can. Everywhere love goes, it brings change to those who give it, and to those who receive it, because love is transformational in its nature.

I believe that we are all born into this world with the mission to love. We are to love not only our families and friends, but we are to love and  treat well all of the people that we are sharing this life with. Love is a continuous daily decision to choose to do good to others. Love is always asking, “What can I do to help others and to show that I truly care?” Mother Theresa was a tiny little woman with God’s big heart, filled with so much love and compassion for the whole world. We all know about her. She wasn’t rich, she didn’t have any political power, but she has impacted the whole world with the message of love for all the generations to come. She proved with her own life that love can change people’s lives and it can change the world. She showed what love can do. In the presence of love, evil has to bow down. I believe in God, and if in any way I know and understand God, I will say without any doubt in my heart that God is love. And so I challenge you to embrace love…

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100 Days of Running and Motivation

IMG_6581

“Love & Run Challenge” Day 100

Are you motivated enough? Whether it’s your personal life, your career, your relationships, or your health and fitness— are you looking forward to each day with excitement and enthusiasm, or does it seem like you are lacking motivation in everything you do? I have good news for you: you are not alone. I also was one of the millions of others who desperately struggled to get motivated in terms of my health and fitness. My life felt stagnant, and it seemed like I just couldn’t get back on track to being at the fitness level I was in my teenage years and early twenties—and now I’m in my thirties. Exercising or running once a week when I was in the mood wasn’t satisfactory; attending the gym for a month and then quitting was frustrating; overeating to suppress my feelings wasn’t healthy. I knew I had to make a radical change in my health and fitness style, and I also knew I was the only person to rely on to motivate myself on a constant daily basis. This time I was  determined not to give up, so I had to find some real boost to keep me motivated in developing a consistently healthy and fit lifestyle. Since I’ve always loved sports and running (and I was a good runner), I decided I wanted to start running marathons, and I decided I was going to train myself. Last summer, 2013, after two months of daily  intensive training, I ran my first Edmonton marathon, and it was like a real turning point in my life, because everything has changed since that day. I became a different person with a victorious mentality. But that didn’t seem to be enough; after the marathon was over, I got the idea to challenge myself to run for 100 days straight and make it part of the book project I was going to start working on for a charity project. Now that looked to me like an amazing reason and an opportunity to keep my motivation alive and going. More than that, I believed it was going to be a life-changing experience not only for myself, but I also believed this was going to become a source of inspiration for others.

Today, January 22, 2014, marks the 100th day of my running challenge! I actually did it, I reached my goal! I started running in the fall of 2013 and finished now, January 2014; it was quite a challenge, as almost every one of the 100 days I ran outside in  very cold winter weather. I ran when I wanted to and when I felt like I didn’t want to; I ran whether it was -10 below zero or -42 with the wind-chill; I ran whether I had a good day or a bad day; I ran whether I felt motivated or not; I ran in the morning or very late at night; I ran when I felt energetic and when I felt tired. I just had to make a mental decision every day that, “Yes, I’m putting my runners on today and I’m going running,” and that was unquestionable. Was it easy? Not at all, but I’m living proof that anything is doable if you want it badly enough. Any dream, big or small, will become reality if you go after it passionately and wholeheartedly, and don’t give up. And though the process may be painful and you are going to doubt yourself many times, you will reach your destination if keep your focus on the finish line.

So, what have I learned and what have I become during my ‘100 days of running’ challenge? I have learned that perseverance, determination, and action are key elements in reaching your goals and expanding your potential. I have learned to ignore daily distractions that life brings and to focus completely on what needs to be done. I have learned that discipline is probably the most important character quality, and without it you cannot get anywhere. I have learned that we should embrace challenges that come our way, because they are like “building blocks” for us to grow on. I have learned that it’s totally up to you to be where you want to be in life, it’s all in your hands. You can start following your dreams right where you are and with what you have. I know it, because I did.

I have become motivated, disciplined, and unstoppable. I have become victorious and triumphant when facing life’s challenges. I have become more productive, energetic, and happy. I have become fearless. Will you join me?


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Love Is a Rare Bird

river wallpaper[1]“Love & Run Challenge” Day #88

In today’s world of so much antagonism, wars, terrorism, sex trade, diseases, poverty, and fear, people are desperately in search for love and peace. Love can be as unattainable as a mirage. Love can be like a horizon that one travels to, but can never reach. Love has become a “rare bird”, in danger of extinction. As evil on earth multiplies, we tend to run and hide under the umbrella of fear, though fear is nothing but a false “security blanket” that keeps us in our comfort zone and paralyzes our hearts. Love, on the contrary, is so powerful in its divine nature that it transcends all fear, all human knowledge, and all understanding. Actually, love is the only force that conquers fear, because love is the opposite of fear. Love is one distinctive collective element that binds us all together as humankind. As award-winning author Napoleon Hill wisely notes, “The great minds of every age have recognized love as the eternal elixir that binds the hearts of humankind and makes us all responsible to one another.”

Someone at work mentioned the other day that people in the “old days” knew how to truly love one another, and that nowadays, in the 21st century, love is rare. I know a lady in a seniors home who is 90 years old and her and her husband celebrated their 60th anniversary together before he passed away. It amazes me, because what kept them together, through six decades of “thick and thin” if not true love? I believe that marriages fail because we choose not to love anymore, and love is a choice, it’s a daily  intentional decision we make. As a mother, I love my daughter. It is my responsibility to love, nurture, and care for her, and show her the way in life. From the day she was born, I chose to love her 365 days a year: when I don’t feel like it, when life gets tough, when I get sick, when I’m not happy, or when it seems like I have lost everything, I will still keep loving my daughter all the days of my life. But there are so many unfortunate mothers around the world who give birth to children, but don’t give love or maybe cannot give love to them. These children are abandoned, abused, neglected, and rejected. These children grow without love, they don’t even know what love is, and all they know is fear. Then we have whole societies who are filled with adults that were never loved as children, and we wonder why there’s so much violence in the world, and why love is so rare?

But above all romantic love and above all parental love, above all friendship and brotherhood love, there’s agape love, which is an unconditional love that God has for us and that we should have for one another. I believe that to love unconditionally is to accept each other as we are, and to love one another in spite of our differences and beliefs. I believe that unconditional love has a universal language that all understand, but it takes effort, it takes determination, and it takes constant action for others to see that you care. Love is not a mere ‘I love you’ spoken to someone else, love is action. Love is picking up the phone and calling your friends and relatives to ask how they’re doing; love is volunteering your time and skills in the community; love is saying to someone who hurt you ‘I forgive you’; love is showing kindness to someone who doesn’t deserve it; love is listening to someone who’s hurt; love is praying for someone who’s sick; love is feeding someone who’s hungry; love is visiting someone who’s lonely; love is choosing peace in the midst of a battle…Love is a “rare bird” in today’s world.


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Running Beyond the Limits

IMG_6541“Love & Run Challenge” day #70

It’s an astonishing fact (even for myself) that I’ve been running outside for 70 days straight. For probably 50 days at least, it has been winter here in Edmonton, with heavy snowfalls and daily temperatures below zero—some days -42 Celsius with the wind chill! With 30 more days left to complete my personal 100+ Day Love & Run Challenge goal, I’ve really been pushing my limits. Some days I literally have to “push” myself out the door and into the freezing cold to run; some days I’m very tired; some days I’m upset; some days I don’t feel like I want to continue and want to give up; some days I doubt myself, but I always choose to persevere and go just one little step further. Every day all I do is just put my runners on and off I go to beat the challenge and conquer all the fears that stand in my way.

You may ask what inspired me to take this challenge upon myself or what pushed me in this direction? I think that the turning point came when I realized that my life was stagnant, and I needed to see some real change—more than that, I needed to make this change happen myself. I finally came to realize that I truly want to follow my dreams, do what I love, and hopefully inspire others to reach for greatness too. I decided to start where I am and with what I have, and I have never looked back since, in spite of all the struggles and all the obstacles along the way. I also realized that the time to start is never right and circumstances will never be perfect, but it is a simple combination of will, determination, and action that may change your life once and forever.

I want to develop a consistently healthy lifestyle, and by running every day for 100+ days, I want to see how far beyond the limits, or if indeed there is a limit at all, to the potential that all of us, as humans, carry inside. From my long-term life experience of running and from this personal challenge to myself of running now for 70 days, I’m reassured that you can overcome challenges and reach goals that are beyond the limits set in your mind. Your mind is like a “canvas” and you are like an artist, and truly there’s no limit to your creative potential. Running all these days, I’ve been stretching my mind beyond its limits; I’ve been running towards my wildest dreams and laughing at fear, I’ve been running beyond…