Door number 1, 2, and 3

** Warning: Long Post **

I just see a person

On Saturday my husband is off to a robotics competition. He’s a coach/mentor for a local high school. BIL #1 and BIL #2 are going to see their mom since it is her birthday. They offered to bring Lana because it would be nice for her to see her grandmother and it would free me up, but I told them she had dance classes and we had other plans. Honestly, I am less enthused about Lana going to MIL’s birthday because I am still bitter about that one spontaneous visit where she compared her with her cousins. But that was only part of it.

Continue reading Door number 1, 2, and 3

The Decade Challenge

So, I did the decade challenge.

It did not occur to me we were going to be in a new decade in a couple of weeks. It’s very exciting. I thought for fun, I could find a photo of me at 22 somewhere in the albums dedicated to old Facebook profile photos. For my “now” shot, I took a selfie in the commuter train going home. I may have also been bored sitting on this train, so why not participate in the decade challenge?

The truth is, I have these mixed feelings about the decade challenge. It is basically sharing the world “look how hard aging has hit you.” Or perhaps, it is to show how aging has been good to you.

I like to think aging has been good to me. Not in the physical traits like wrinkles and weight gain//loss, but rather how far I’ve come in terms of happiness, confidence, and just overall life. I’ve changed my career over the last 10 years. I would have never thought to work in the business of serving people, I did not think I had the soft skills to do it.

I have a better relationship with food. I use to listen to people telling me to avoid carbs, which also included fruit(!). I remembered avoiding it like it was a disease. But my travels changed my attitude towards food. People around the world treasure bread, pasta, rice, and beer. In America, it is much easier to demonize carbs than to moderate it.

Also, I have a better relationship with work and money. As much as I love my job(s), I work to live, not the other way around. I use to be the latter, and I was burnt out all the time. The burn out also sucked out the joy from my job. I also feel more confident about my relationship with money. I’ve always been a proud saver until I started working my first full-time job. People tend to conflate cheap with frugal. I was always made fun of for holding on to my smartphone, car, and toothpaste for as long as I can. Thankfully I learned being in debt is not cool. I quickly realized keeping up with the Joneses’ is fueled by debt. I know I’ll get some questions, “so how are you a homeowner?” Well, I changed my relationship with money. We bought a house in 2014, and it almost doubled in value four years later. A bad relationship with money is buying an iPhone 10 to only throw money the following year for an iPhone 11 Pro.

See, there is more to life than anti-aging products and obsessing over #WaybackWednesday, #ThrowbackThursday, #FlashbackFriday. There is more to life than keeping up with the latest greatest thing. I am glad I left that frame of mind early on; otherwise, I would be in a debt where I cannot get out of.

I know there are a lot of people who were not as lucky in their decade. I know some people have lost their job and still remain underemployed. Some are on the edge of losing everything. That is why I work incredibly hard and credit all the people who have pushed me along the way. I am perpetually thankful. I’ve been fired before, but I quickly gained employment about four weeks after. I remembered that month, I networked and volunteered, then an opportunity came.

It is funny when people only want to know if you’ve been engaged, married, or have kids, or if you found somebody at all. Is life really only these things? Nobody really asks questions about what brings you joy — it may not be a person. Not a lot of people ask about your goals in life — those seem to stop after college. It is quite sad, really.

My decade challenge is more than this side-by-side picture. It is a reflection of how far I have come.

Here’s to the new decade!

1 Class down, 11 more to go!

I am happy to say, I completed my first class in my grad school career with a bang! I got an “A” — I exceeded my own expectations. This is the first time I’ve been in school in ten years. So far, I enjoy the program, and I am learning a lot of things on a deeper level.

What has changed:

  1. Well, I do get less sleep. To do well in an online graduate school program, you get out what you put in.
  2. At work, I still work full-time. At my job, I am the most senior person in my team, aside from my supervisor. Before at my work, I use to take care of things for my subordinates, so it gets done. Nowadays, I do more coaching, so I am not left to pick up the pieces. My supervisor was pushing me to do this for years to more delegating and coaching with my colleagues. It’s definitely helped a lot with my workload.
  3. I use to have that go, go, go mentality. Now I apply the brakes.
  4. I take a more careful look at my planner to judge if I have enough bandwidth to do something whether it’s work-related, school-related, or life-related. In my first class, I had a midterm paper due on a Sunday I had a writing proficiency exam scheduled for the following day. I remembered during that same week building up to those exams was an unusually busy week at work where it involved a lot of driving and doing a large print job. During finals week, the events at work were back-to-back insanity of travel, training, focus groups, meetings, and even news crew interview. At the end of each day at work, I told myself, I need to get to writing that final paper. The lesson learned here: If I can control my own calendar, then take control of it otherwise it controls you. Instead of blindly saying “yes,” review your calendar first.
  5. There’s a little less cooking. My diet has mostly been eggs, bread, potato, Noosa yogurt, and tofu.
  6. Reaching for the sparkling water. There are times when I feel crunched, I crave something sweet. I could stuff myself with candy, chocolate, and ice cream but for some reason, drinking some sparkling water help curb my sugar cravings. The funny thing is, for as long as I remember, we never stock any sweet soda products.

This past week is our week off before we start another 8 weeks for the next class!

I am still getting a feel for my new schedule. For now, I think these random sporadic updates will do for the time being.

A couple of random things to share:

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Yesterday I went to Urban Plates in Thousand Oaks with my friends. It reminds me of a more expensive version of Lemonade, but you get fewer choices of sides. I do like the passionfruit coconut milk. If I find some passionfruit, I’ll attempt to make this drink. I believe there’s also a hint of lemon.

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I purchased a 23andMe kit for myself and my husband for Valentine’s Day last month. We did receive our results this week. Stay tuned. Our breakdown was interesting. For reference, I am Filipino, and my husband is Vietnamese.

One month of grad school — done!

Tomorrow will be official one month where I have been a grad student.

How has that been going for me? Brace yourself, this is a rant.

Despite me being a part-time grad student with a full-time job, despite it being 100% online it’s been tough to juggle. For the last two weeks, I was putting all my energy on my mid-term paper. When I first started my paper, my laptop rested in peace. Thank goodness I did my paper on Google Drive otherwise I’d start over. Now I have my husband’s laptop which he barely uses anyways. His laptop does not have Microsoft Word, so here I go again: Thank goodness for Google Drive. Also, Canvas (the online class interface) allowed cloud drive submissions, so I did not have to download to a WordPad and fix the format. Though the paper was due on Sunday, February 18th, I was determined to finish the paper on Friday night to enjoy my weekend.

I finished the paper LATE Friday night…or early Saturday morning at 3 A.M. I was determined to enjoy what was left of my weekend. Today, though I have a day off for work, I have to go to school to complete my Graduate School Proficiency exam. Yes, I can’t believe I sandwiched this proficiency exam and my midterm during the three-day weekend. But what can you do? I had to take the exam before the end of summer and I anticipate the program would get more challenging as it progressed.

Other things that I happened over the past month?

I got TMJ in late January — it was so painful, it was hard to move the left side of my face. I did get anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxers, and a night guard. Treatment is nice to remove the pain away, but let’s face it, the root of that pain not teeth grinding but from stress.  Though I cannot control what happens to me at night, I know I do clench my teeth when I am hit with stress.

It’s funny how people conclude you get a night guard, the pain goes away, and expect you to go back to business. That’s an awful, unsustainable cycle. People have always praised me for being a hard worker and taking on a lot, but now I am backing off. This jaw pain is a reminder I need to step away from my cubicle and take a walk — which is, by the way, healthier than those who take multiple breaks throughout the day to smoke.

It is a reminder that I put in my 8 hours, I should go home.

Slept in? That’s ok too.

It is a reminder to be kind to myself…to be everything to myself just as I am to everyone. 

It has been a chaotic month especially with TMJ thrown into the mix. I had to balance school, work, recreation, and now…rest — I blame it on the muscle relaxers.

Thankfully I have my dogs, my husband, my family, and friends being supportive by getting me out. I went to Joshua Tree one weekend after completing my first week in grad school. I brought my school readings with the intention to study sometime during the trip — that did not happen.

Last Friday, my husband took me out to dinner with friends. After midterms, I went with my husband and friends to the Pasadena Asian Pacific Museum to celebrate Chinese New Years.

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I — and other people I know — would go against going out. They’ll say, “you don’t have enough time for recreation!” But I have to say, staying in and putting my head down is how I got the TMJ in the first place.

Aside from my past few weeks with TMJ. Grad school has been good, and it’s been challenging. My background is I work in non-profit, I feel I am getting a deeper understanding of the theories around public administration and non-profit management.