Wednesday, December 17, 2008

My Favorite Blogging Friend of the Year

Bree Wee: My Favorite Blogging Friend of the Year after finishing Ironman Japan with a stellar performance

While I have very much enjoyed the friends with whom I have shared experiences and corresponded through the blog since I started it in March this year, I have not had the slightest hesitation in deciding who is my favorite blogging friend for this year. There is also no need for most of you to guess and so I will mention her name up front: the one and only Bree Wee!
It was through reading Bree's blog very early this year that I decided to start my own, and she was the first person and maybe the only person to read my blog entries in those early stages. It was because of her encouragement that I persevered with the blog, so much so, that the time spent in the blogging world has had quite an impact on my life.
Through Bree's blog I read about many wonderful friends of hers, many of whom I had known fairly well in the past. With our love for triathlon, etc., it seemed we had so much in common. I would follow Ironman race live broadcasts (often at night due to the time difference) in which Bree was almost always a major contender, and see her either finish really well or else, on a few occasions, struggle towards the end of the race and fail to win her slot for Kona for this year (fortunately she has already qualified for next year). I shared in her joys and struggles, as well as some of the hardships she faced. In all, it was a really good and enriching experience, and, in spite of being a continent away, I sometimes felt I could just have been living in Hawai'i itself.
It was through Bree's blog that I made most of the other friends I have either regularly or not so regularly maintained contact with. I was amazed after writing about some of my childhood experiences how one of her sisters gave me a very positive comment and went on down "Memory Lane" to share some of her own precious experiences. I corresponded with other members of Bree's family, and I am sure they an others in her family were reading the many comments I left on her posts.
A trip down "Memory Lane" (the focus of an earlier blog posting this year)

Still, many of the other people I gradually came to correspond with, most of whom I have never met, have become good friends and people I would certainly like to meet some time in the future. L. was an old friend from my Hawaii days and it was interesting how we could share and joke about our mutual love for swimming. P. was hilariously funny but a man with very good values, someone whose forebears probably lived near mine, but who eventually settled on the other side of the Atlantic. R. was always preparing for big races and posting breathtaking photos, but what struck me most was his friendliness and humility. S. replied to every comment I posted on her blog, had the most wonderful races you could imagine and in the end I am not surprised how many comments she received on each of her postings. M., a fellow countryman, found my blog by chance, and then I ended up learning a great deal about how Channel swimmers train and the difficulties they face.
Busyness prevented me and many others from really having enough time to smell the roses. Hopefully, there will be more time for this next year.

There were others who would occasionally correspond with me in Chinese and Japanese (hence the increased use of Chinese in my postings), which made my blog a little more international in flavor, something that I intend to pursue further in the coming year.
Probably because I was not meeting many bloggers in Taiwan and possibly because fewer people within my own generation maintain such blogs, I invariably would read the blogs of several of Bree's friends who were a lot younger and living in a completely different world to me. I frequently read of accidents that sometimes resulted in serious injuries, of debilitating illnesses, and of bouts of depression that they so openly shared. I know at times I was like a lurker and maybe should not have left comments on their blogs. However, I was concerned for them, and at times would have gone to quite significant lengths to help them. Just skipping swimming today because of a common cold brought home to me the fact that I have been so fortunate this year. This is probably the first time I have missed a swim this year as a precaution in case my cold gets worse.
The week before Christmas - nice to see the flowers in full bloom outside this MRT (underground) station.

I also came to realize that certain other people look at my blog besides those whose blogs I frequent or who attach comments to my posts. Some of these are people I work for in Taiwan, and on one occasion one such lady recognized me (from reading the blog) when we passed by each other in a Taipei hospital.
There are many other people I could single out who have made my blogging experience what it was this year. However, at the end of the day I realize that, had it not been for Bree's initial encouragement, I may never have got started on this thing. It is to her that I owe an eternal debt of gratitude.
In closing Hsiu-chin and I would like to wish you all a Happy Christmas!


ShirleyPerly said...

Yes, Bree's a wonderful inspiration to me too. I'm glad she got you into blogging as well. I hope you are over your cold soon (probably wise to skip swimming in a cold pool!).

Best wishes to you and your family!

Randy said...

Hey Bruce, great post and Bree did the same for me when I started blogging. I'm still amazed you can swim in that cold of water. Our pool dropped to 74 and I quit swimming their until they turned the heat back on. Now it's a toasty 77-80 most days.

My breathing shuts down when I hit cold water, even in the ocean when I hit a cold patch I have to hurry through it so I can breathe. That's funny because I grew up in cold water country. Maybe that's why I waited till I moved here to learn to swim.

Happy Holidays.

Dolphin Boy said...

Mele Kalikimaka Bruce! Always enjoy reading your blog posts.

Bree starts everything doesn't she? Is she contagious? Perhaps!! But in a good way!
She's a great person with the warmest heart! She's been there for me during some of my difficult times and I'm lucky to have her as my friend.

All my best to you in 2009. See you in Kona someday?

Eileen Swanson said...

Happy Holidays Bruce! Enjoy and keep blogging....

BreeWee said...

This is soooo0o kind! you made my day and melted my heart!
Kainoa and I just got back to Kona last night so I am catching up on all the blogs I love to read & when I saw this is totally gave me chills and a smile!

I really appreciate you just so you know and hope you return to the islands soon!

Happy Holidays to you and your family!