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.
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!