Update: 2 weeks into the new plan

Since I posted my new 6 Month Plan, I’ve spent more time playing Dragon Age than thinking about personal growth. And I think that’s been good. Playing the game revitalized my sense of accomplishment and purpose while challenging me to be strategic and forcing me into new ways of thinking. All the hours on the XBOX may also reflect a lack of traction with my plan. (Or perhaps this is the chrysalis stage of my current metamorphosis.)

Anyway, here’s the breakdown of my work:

  1. Physical: Complete a workout routine at least 3 times a week. Stretch after each workout. Enjoy the outdoors at least once every two weeks (e.g., hiking, going to the beach).
    1. So far, so good! It’s been a struggle. Even though I picked a short core routine and I limited it to every other day with the weekends “off” I still struggle to start. Speaking of which, I’m due for my second workout of the week today. Yup, a day behind this week. 
  2. Career/Education: Continue checking job postings at least twice a week. Apply to at least one job a week. Interview at least once a month. Aim to have job relating to conservation/ecology/environment by October 12. If not, apply to local “filler” jobs (e.g., Home Depot, Yogurtland). Update contacts at UC Davis and UCLA about plans by October 31.
    1. Still checking the listings, but not applying. Decided to wait it out on the two apps in the works at the moments. More to come! Still looking for the job and to update my contacts. 

Well, after the update I feel better about my progress. I may have set “low-lying” goals, but another way to say that is realistic. Why am I writing this? I want to highlight the benefit of choosing “easy” goals when they involve aspects with little traction. I haven’t had any formal workout routine in 5 years, so starting light is still a huge accomplishment for me.

More to come!

P.S. Here’s a bonus video of the caterpillar-to-chrysalis transformation.


Quote: Caterpillar turns into a butterfly

“Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly.”

– Proverb

Coming across this quote in an email from Good.co, I immediately appreciated the message. How often does it feel like everything is in ruins, and then circumstances align with a breakthrough. (Reminds me of Brene’s “spiritual awakening“.)  Of course, caterpillars do not actually turn into butterflies directly. They turn into chrysalises. (My uncle is cultivating butterflies in his backyard, so my aunt captured the process of caterpillar to chrysalis on her iPad. It’s fascinating.)

Why do I bring this up? Because no caterpillar–and no person–jumps straight to being a butterfly. Monumental changes like that require an intermediary stage. And, the chrysalis is poetic in itself: a state of inner change without outward movement. For people, I see this as analogous to meditation and self-reflection. Of course, it can also take on other meanings. Essentially the pupa is doing the work to make being a butterfly possible. It’s impossible to just become a butterfly. It takes time, energy, and an amazing metamorphosis.

Blog: All bodies are beautiful

Because body image is something I think most (all?) of us struggle with (at least at some point) and because media does so much to distort what “normal” and “beautiful” look like, I thought this blog post was especially beautiful. It’s from a massage therapist who “know[s] what people look like.” Here’s an except:

Let’s start here with what nobody looks like: nobody looks like the people in magazines or movies. Not even models. Nobody. Lean people have a kind of rawboned, unfinished look about them that is very appealing. But they don’t have plump round breasts and plump round asses. You have plump round breasts and a plump round ass, you have a plump round belly and plump round thighs as well. That’s how it works. (And that’s very appealing too.)

Check out the full post here:


Lesson: Do your eyes light up? – Toni Morrison

One of the greatest moments from the Oprah Winfrey Show. See more at http://www.oprah.com/oprahshow/The-Greatest-Lessons-on-The-Oprah-Show_1/4
One of the greatest moments from the Oprah Winfrey Show. See more at http://www.oprah.com/oprahshow/The-Greatest-Lessons-on-The-Oprah-Show_1/4

As someone trying to live with more compassion, I love the idea of making the first thing I do when I see a loved one be to have my eyes light up.

My parents, 2011.
My parents, 2011.

It reminds me of my last 4 years with my dad, after his diagnosis with liposarcoma. Growing up, my mom and I would talk. My dad would listen when need be. But, I rarely said I love you to either of them, and when I left for college I rarely called my dad. Despite this, my dad’s voice was full of pride every time my mom passed him the phone. And every time he saw me he made sure I knew how much he loved me–even before his battle with cancer. Having to face the fear that I could lose my dad, I made an effort in college to alternate which of my parents I called. I added on, “I love you,” because it was true and because I didn’t know how many time I had left to say it. And we never know how much time we have left to express our love.

Shruti and me, Fall 2009.
Shruti and me, Fall 2009.

While my dad passed away at 62, my friend Shruti died 3 days after graduating UCLA at the age of 22. What I remember most about her was how fully she loved everyone. Every time she opened her door, she was smiling. When she hugged, they were full of warmth and sincerity. (And, she liked an scoop of sugar in her smoothies.) She embodied what Toni Morrison says. Her eyes–and her heart and her spirit–lit up whenever she say me or any of her friends.

It is in her memory that I hope to learn to do that for all of my friends. And, it is in memory of my father that I hope to do so for my family and my future children.


With love,


Article: 13 Life Lessons

As a 20-something, I have a natural interest in advice for my age bracket. (In fact, I see a potential future for this blog and myself in life coaching for 20-somethings in college and after.)  My friend wrote this relevant blog post about 13 Lessons You Need to Learn in Your 20s. Having read multitudes of lists for 20-somethings, I nonetheless loved this Maya Angelou quote from the article:

I’ve learned that making a ‘living’ is not the same thing as ‘making a life’ – Maya Angelou

Overall the 13 lessons are sound, but as with most advice it focuses on the destination without mention much about the road there. Still, I believe awareness is the first step towards meaningful change. If you are searching for something in your 20s, check out the list to see what resonates. And then find a trusted friend–or mentor, teacher, family member–and talk to them about it. (Sometimes I “talk” to my journal when I’m not sure who else to go to.) Learn what you can about yourself and the topic. This is step two: insight. After that, make a plan and commit!


Original article: http://www.knowledgeformen.com/the-13-lessons-you-need-to-learn-in-your-20s-to-discover-yourself/

Video: Dealing with Life’s Sh** Sandwiches

Because we all experience tough times, I think this video is powerful. It’s all about dealing with life’s “sh** sandwiches,” aka those situations that seem to suck immensely. If you’re wondering how to deal when everything is going wrong, check out Marie Forleo’s advice. And as a bonus, read on for my personal experience dealing with life’s sh** sandwiches.

Check it out here

My personal note:

From an outside perspective, the last year for me was–and my friend actually told me this–a sh** sandwich. If you’re curious:

  • I worked in a windowless storage-closet-now-office adjacent to a cemetery with brown grass.
  • My apartment was rundown with bars on the windows and little sunlight because of the hotel three feet away from the window.
  • My dad was battling with cancer for the third time in four years. He passed away in May.
  • My new-used car needed service 3 times including one of the tires completely falling apart.
  • And despite paying for an all-day parking pass I was ticketed anyways.

Of course, that’s only part of the story. As Marie suggests, I took stock of all the good things in my life, and the list was way longer. Let’s revisit my “sh** sandwich,” this time looking at life through the lens of gratitude:

  • I had a job. I made money. I was able to pay my rent. And buy food. And put money in retirement. I also had benefits. My co-worker was awesome, and our conversations were some of the best I’ve had. I had my own office.
  • I had a roof over my head. I had my own room.  I had internet and clean drinking water and utilties and trash and recycling and all the comforts of modern Western living. I had great roommates who were and continue to be some of my closest friends. I had a bed and a clean, safe place to sleep at night.
  • I still had my dad, and we had had 22 great years together. My family had great health insurance to help cover the costs of 3 rounds with cancer. He made it through the first 2. Despite his weakened health, we could still talk on the phone multiple times a week. We had lots of support from friends and family both for my dad and for the rest of us. Given the knowledge my dad didn’t have a lot of time left, we were able to use his saving to go to China, something none of us had ever done.
  • I had a car. I had access to maintenance. I didn’t have to do it myself. No one was injured or died. I have a form of transportation. The fact that I was worried about my car breaking down rather than my health breaking down–or my relationships, my house, my food supply, my water supply–that’s pretty awesome.
  • It’s just a parking ticket. And it means I have a car, and the money to pay for gas, and luckily the money to pay for the ticket.

In the end, I have lots to be grateful for. I mean, I’m alive! 

Here’s my action plan for any time I find myself thinking my life sucks:

Be grateful. I aim for 3 things. Usually the first one is the hardest. When I’m really stuck, I think big picture, like “I’m not in the middle of a war zone.” And then more come, and almost always my list just keeps going.

Acknowledge what cannot be changed. While it may not be easy to accept it, there are things we cannot change. My dad had cancer, and now he’s gone. I cannot change that. So what can I do? For one, I can be grateful. And beyond that, I can focus on what I can change.

Change the situation. For the things that can be changed (like my job), I use the same tools as I do for a 6 Month Plan. What is my goal? A job I enjoy. What is my deadline? Finish out my year and then find a new one. What do I want to have done in the next few weeks? Revise my resume, and start looking at openings. 

Or change perspective. This goes perfectly with being grateful, but it can even go further. To use my job as an example again, I shifted my perspective from my job being the main thing in my life to my job providing the money for me to do what I love. My job allowed me to live in L.A., be around my friends, and volunteer for a great organization, UCLA UniCamp. The job also spurred me to take the “Designing Life After College” course (the most influential single course I’ve taken) and to start this blog (which I clearly enjoy).

Thanks for reading this long post. If you have tips for dealing with hard times, I’d love to hear them!