2014.

From Dec. 26th to January 4th, I traveled Japan solo. I chose to chronicle my trip on Hi — publishing platform — instead of Tweeting, Instagramming, Facebooking and even on my own blog.

People have been asking why, this essay beautifully captures why:

Africa burns my eyes and sets my nerves on edge.

Even if you aren’t interested in Hi, the essay is a must read, for anyone looking to be whisked away to a land far away with…words.

Read Craig‘s essay here.

A photo from one of the many of the small Japanese villages I visited.
You can read my entire trip here: “Epic Trip 2013

Shirakawago
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How a Relationship Dies

Russell Clayton, a doctoral student at the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, who surveyed two hundred and five Facebook users about relationship conflicts related to Facebook. “Our study found that excessive Facebook users are more likely to connect or reconnect with other Facebook users, including previous partners, which may lead to emotional and physical cheating,” Clayton said, according toScienceDaily. He went on, “Facebook may be a threat to relationships that are not fully matured.”

via “How a relationship Dies” — The New Yorker

When trust and security  two of — if not the most — important factors in a lasting, healthy relationship, excessive Facbooking (basically creeping on people’s profiles and photos) can be detrimental. But we are so used to mindless stalking, it doesn’t really register.

I was in a long distance relationship for a while and I agree, it’s really difficult, near impossible not to be jealous when the underlying trust isn’t built yet. A lot of his activity would pour into my feed and his LIKEs of photos of random girls and flirty comments he would leave started bothering me.  The worst, was when I started questioning myself for being bothered by his actions. So I unfriended him.

That said, although I’m well beyond my teenage years, I use the Internet and social networks like one. I constantly have several apps open, have several group chats, one-on-one texting sessions going while browsing Twitter and Instagram so I’m probably biased to the above opinion of this one Russell Clayton. Plus, I have experienced it first-hand.

Ah, social networks — or more like, no more long distance relationships for me. Either way, I learned something about myself and in the end, that’s all that matters.

Mother’s Day 2012: Five Years Later

It’s May again, the month I dread, and every year for the past five years, I’ve written similar blog posts for Mother’s Day.

2012 is exactly the same.

Five years after my Mother’s death, I have nothing new to report, no wisdom to drop, no life changing epiphanies about dealing with grief which sounds somber, but really not. The death of a parent is tricky, but even more, confusing. There is no one magical formula or guideline, step-by-step instructions, something – anything, on how to feel, what to feel and why.

For the longest time, I thought there was something wrong with me. There were no unanswered questions, zero regrets. No confusion, extreme sadness, just logic. My Mother is no longer on the planet and I immediately dealt with that reality which didn’t seem…normal. So I questioned myself. What’s wrong with me? Do I not know how to feel? Am I out of touch with my emotions? Is my coping mechanism abnormal?

I would search deep within for indicators of hidden feelings but nothing. I was simply dealing with my reality. Then, I start questioning myself again: what is wrong with me, this doesn’t seem right. Where are my feelings? Perhaps I am selfish, self absorbed or worse, a sociopath…then I look for feelings again. That process is a bit of nuisance and sometimes, it drives me so batty I want the voices in my head to stop. Then as I am annoyed with myself and the voices, it’d start all over again: stop that, self reflection is important. What’s wrong with me, am I selfish, etc., etc.

Back to square one.

Recently, an important person in my life lost their mother. I wanted to have all the right things to say, but aside from condolences, the words from my heart were: it’s ok to feel however you want. Whether it’s anger, sorrow, confusion, regret, relief that she is no longer in pain or even numbness, there is no one way you are supposed to feel so allow yourself to just…be. I know. I was there. I am still there.

Then I realized, I wish someone had given me that advice.

It took years and someone I deeply care about to lose their mother to see: we are different. We have different relationships with our parents, different coping mechanisms and various life experiences that make it necessary for us to come up with our own answers. It’s scary and unsettling but that’s the way it is. The way it has to be.

Hindsight, perhaps that is the life lesson that comes from death. That as we seek answers, we soul search and face demons that help us grow and become better people.  If anything, my Mother’s death has taught me to be vulnerable and more open with my feelings. Something I always thought of as a weakness but more accurately foreign, as we are not taught to be emotionally attune in our culture. Emotional intelligence is something I force learned and still learning every day. See? We are all different.

So if you or someone close to you is dealing with death, please remember to allow yourselves / themselves to feel however you / they want. It’s ok. It’s the way it has to be.

In closing, I will share the story of my mother’s death which is more inspirational, than sad. Just like I do every year.
Happy Mother’s Day :)

Mother’s Day 2007 to 2008…
…what a difference a year makes.

As some of you may or may not know, I lost my mom to cancer last year around this time. Since it’s Mother’s Day, I wanted to do something for her but wasn’t sure what…

After some thought, I decided to share what I wrote after she passed. I am normally an extremely private person, but her story is so amazing, if anyone (aside myself) is inspired, that would be the best ode to her… :)

Read the rest here.

People have contributed their own stories and feedback on my G+.

F’ing Live

If only I were 5″7 instead of 5″4. I wish I were five lbs lighter. I’d rather have straight than wavy hair. If only my eye sight were 20/20. Shoulda gone to Harvard. Or Stanford. Or maybe Yale. Why didn’t I marry the one who got away? He was and still is the perfect man, you idiot. Would life be easier if I weren’t Asian? Do I lose out on opportunities because I’m female??

…we all have them. Secret desires. Insecurities. What ifs. Traits we wish we could change, because we think of the cards dealt to us as flaws, holding us back from being a CEO. Having the perfect man/woman. Being an A-list actor, famous singer or even a super model.  We are the hardest judges of ourselves, for not being __________ enough and allow so called shortcomings to hold us back.

Stop.

Seriously.

Knock it off.

It is impossible to be Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey, President Obama, Tom Brady or even the colleague, friend or family member we envy. We are all different and that’s what makes life so fucking fantastic.

Do I ever think any of those thoughts up there? Sure I did. But I learned as a child, dwelling on things we cannot change, 99% of the time leads to negativity. I’ve attempted reshuffling the cards that were dealt to me, by trying to be someone I am not. I’ve watched others live as people they thought they wanted to be. In the end, that mentality of our twisted minds leads to endless misery.

Success, only comes with confidence. Confidence is bred through a mindset to know, accept and use our strengths and weaknesses to achieve goals. It’s the only way to live. The only way to succeed.

Why am I bothering to blog about this?

Well the other day, I came across this piece: “Four Ways Women Stunt Their Careers Unintentionally” via HBR. The gist, is how an extensive study via Europe’s Institute of Leadership and Management, found women in the workplace generally have less confidence than men, and how that gap holds women back from achieving our full potentials.

Fair enough.

But this excerpt in particular, resonated:

The study also found that this lack of confidence extends to a more cautious approach to applying for jobs and promotions: 20% of men said they would apply for a role despite only partially meeting its job description, compared to 14% of women.

Lack of confidence, doesn’t apply only to females. It applies to 80% males, too. Sure, with females, we tend to be more timid but if you ask me, the number of people -male and female- going for the ask, is too low.

So if you are one of the % of people holding back from reaching your potential: whatever the mental block may be, tell it to fuck off. I say this over and over and will continue saying:

Life is too short.

We are 1 of 7 billion on the planet. We have nothing to lose, but time.


So screw pride.

Forget your ego.
We only have one life. Just fucking LIVE.

The worst that can happen, is a no. Don’t let fear of rejection ever get in the way of living. Who cares what one, two or even ten people think about you.

There are 7 billion people on this planet.

There is only one life. Don’t ever waste it. LIVE.

(ps: thoughtful comments here, too.)

The Power of Vulnerability #thankyouSteveJobs

It’s been several hours since hearing about Steve Jobs passing away. I am still sitting in front of my computer, stunned.

The last time I felt this numb was when my mother left the planet…which probably sounds silly, dramatic and insane, to compare a complete stranger’s death to my own flesh and blood’s.

Judge away.

You see, I was taught to suppress emotions. To be as private as possible, and sure enough, that is the way I have always been…or was. Recently, I started noticing that I may not be the person I was raised to be, for with every instance I do open myself up, I realize I am growing stronger. The more vulnerable I become the stronger I feel, which is something completely new to me. Fast forward a few months of trying this thing called opening up, and I am now a believer in the power of vulnerability.

With vulnerability, I now have the strength to be honest with myself. That honesty, is enabling me to be more in-tune with myself than ever before…and because I know myself, there is nothing — nothing, that scares me. Don’t get me wrong, I have always lived life with almost zero fear, taken risks, never afraid of failure, followed my gut and found ways to just…figure it out — traits that were passed down from my father. Because of that DNA, I have seen things, been places, experienced more lives that even I at times have a hard time believing.

Then, my mother died.

Continue reading

Mean What You Say. Say What You Mean.

Pick one: love or money?

Seems like such a simple question with a no brainer answer. When I asked my Twitter and Facebook friends, I got a bunch of immediate responses. Of course, most said ‘love’.

After purposely waiting for some time, I then asked:

I’ve had someone choose money (well, a lifestlye) over me – and it sucks. I have and always been a person who places more weight on a person’s abilities to be honest to and with themselves. It’s near impossible for humans to always say what they mean or mean what they say. To me, it’s more about having the courage to be honest with yourselves and those you care about. Though lately, I’m starting to wonder if this is too much to ask of others.

But at the end of the day, I’m with Arrington all the way who expressed it best:

Dear self, permanently bookmark this post as a reminder you choose honesty. That you are honest to yourself and those around you. That there are others like you who can be honest to themselves and those they love. And most importantly, do not ever doubt yourself for having standards and expectations.

#selfreflectionsunday

(ps: I know the math up there is wrong — silly little thing called details ;))

I am human too.

The other day, a friend mentioned in passing how I am very zen-like which made me, well, a little uneasy. Me? The one with no filter? The one who inappropriately curses like a truck driver?? Zen like? ZEN LIKE? Really? REALLY??

After skimming through my Twitter and Facebook, my face flushed. He was right. A lot of my shares lately have been cheesy inspirational crap. An over abundance of Steve Jobs quotes. Tips on minimalistic mindsets. How to find your center, balance, how to hold hands with your worst enemy, etc. etc.

Seriously. I should rename my blog to butterflies-and-rainbow-kumbaya-vomit.

Well. Perhaps it was the rough month of August. Or it could simply be my old age but all the inspirational reading helped a lot. Needed a few reminders about what I knew. Or what I thought I knew as the more I grow-up, the less energy I spend on things that are out of my control. On a superficial level, it’s easy to be and stay composed, as I’ve mastered the art of determining how much time, effort and emotions I want to invest in almost every thing I do in life. That way, if I make a mistake or bad judgment call, I brush it off and happily go on with my day. But on the true, real, where it matters the most level? FAIL.

The one thing that’s helped me, is figuring out long ago: people do not change. Since the only thing I can change is my self, subconsciously, I became well versed in self-control and discipline (or stubbornness) especially when emotions are involved.

But as I become more honest with myself, the more I become in tune with myself. The more I become in tune with myself, the more I see: the majority of my displayed strength is a facade. A defense mechanism, if you will, to never let anyone see my weaknesses. Vulnerabilities. Frailties. Now that I identified, acknowledged and embraced weakness, vulnerability and frailities, the need to work on how to be strong and weak at the same time. To find balance. To remain true to myself, while allowing myself to live. To love…is clear. Crystal frickin’ clear.

So I’m learning. I want to learn. I have to learn, to be the best I can be every second of every day.

So pardon all the cheesy junk that may flow through your streams.
My hope is, if articles that touched or inspired me affects even one person, I will happily take all your smack talking. Because I am still me. The one who has no problems telling people to ‘SHUT YOUR TWITTER/FACEBOOK/INTERNET-HOLES’ ;)

Until then, remember that I am perfectly flawed. A constant work in progress. I am weak and fragile just like any other person.

I am human, too.
(Ok, fine. Sometimes binary. 0101, Mona)