Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Leaders in my Life

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.
John Quincy Adams

I used to blog on MySpace and when I did that I had a common theme... gratitude for my friends. I have always been pretty grateful for the friends I have in this world. I am not the most trusting person so those who I manage to trust enough and let into my world... well, they tend to be incredible people with big hearts and open minds. They are oftentimes the source of inspiration and courage in my life.

I'm dedicating my blog today to my friends in whom I have found inspiration and perhaps the courage to follow my own ambitions--I am grateful to them for their presence in my life as a pillar of strength and faith. I am grateful to them for allowing me into their world as much as I let them in mine. Not all of these friends are lifelong friends--some came into my life and left as swiftly as they arrived but will always remain in my heart as someone who inspired me. Those friends are Liv, Colleen and Scott.

Liv is a friend I met in college. She always seemed to be bursting with some type of energy that college just couldn't ocntain. Now she's in DC, working on the hill and helping important pieces of legislature be formed and helping to make important decisions. Talking to her now, she seems to incredibly well suited for where she is. In a time of our life where many of my friends have found comfort in jobs that have led to careers, she is one of the few who has really strived and made the most of herself and her potential.

Colleen and I go way back. Waaaay back. She consistently shows me what inner strength means. Despite her somewhat oppressive parents (yay Asian parents), her rigorous studies and some of the obstacles she has faced, she has graduated from Cal Berkeley and is now finishing pharmacy school at USC and is doing incredibly well--as well as remaining gorgeously smiley, if that makes sense. She is one of my favorite people from our hometown.

Scott is the first person I met in between Madrid and Rome. He had just finished his Bar exam and was "patiently" waiting on a Euro trip for his results. His presence on this trip fortified every moment of Europe for me. His sense of humor about life, his patient perspective on people, and his faith in love helps inspire me to this day, over 4 years later.

Of course I have more friends I could write about--Sara, Sunny, Casey, etc. I should write about family and their heroics. But I can only write so much for now. I was inspired the other day by these friends and I had to mention them. I'm truly lucky to know them and I'll be really lucky if they feel an ounce of that esteem for me.
Their lives are an inspiration to myself, and perhaps others, that faith in our own conviction and hard work, some sacrifice, and perhaps a laugh can pay off. They are leaders in my life by being the leaders of their own....

Monday, August 24, 2009

Practice makes Happy

Practice being excited.
Bill Foster

They say practice makes perfect. I don't think that is true. But practice, of some things, can make habit. And habituation might lead to perfection moreso than just practice.

I learned in a psychology class the mere act of smiling can lead to a boost in one's mood. So maybe, people need to practice being happy. Practice smiling, practice acting cheerfully, practice enjoying life... and maybe we will habituate those things and eventually we will just be good at being happy.

The other night I was talking to a friend of mine... For both the protection of my friend and her downer demeanor and because I have the literary license to do so, I shall call this person Grumbles. The funny thing about Grumbles is that although she has been grumbling about life whenever I talk to her, she is also one of the happiest, perkiest people I know. I love to be with her because it is so easy to make her laugh and that in turn makes me laugh ergo making me happy. But for some reason she has a problem. I once heard of this problem in a movie and I have since adopted the term as part of my vernacular. She, like a handful of my friends and perhaps myself, are afflicted by "chronic dissatisfaction". Although she has many things to be grateful for and many opportunities and blessings in life she can take advantage of, like myself, she manages to find what is wrong with her life instead of looking at what is right. She sees the dead-ends and the closed doors before she sees the detours and open windows.

There is nothing wrong with being chronically dissatisfied... except that it can put a strain on one's own happiness ability as well as their relations with friends and loved ones. People find it tiresome to put up with the chronically dissatisfied. Friends try to help them through their issues but their advice is always met with "but"'s and "what if"'s. Although I am guilty of this as much as Grumbles and I defend myself by saying I am just perceptive of the obstacles, I am also the one who says "every problem has a solution". Because it's true.

Sometimes people just like to vent which is fine. But the problem with venting is it turns into a habit and that habit leads to the tempermant of chronic dissatisfaction. So to counter this, one must practice the habits of a happy temperment. One has to practice smiling for all the little reasons that might make them smile, or to try and laugh at anything that can be laughable (alternatively, making someone else laughs works twice as well because it no doubt makes you laugh but also, it makes someone else happy which makes you happy back.)

One also has to practice finding the solutions. If one's dissatisfaction has real cause, Grumbles for instance needs to learn how to resolve her unhappiness and find hope in opportunities. Practice making opportunities helps too. How many times do you walk along and actually see "open doors"? Pretty rare I find... what happens more often than not is you need to know where you want to go and then knock on those doors and create your own opportunities.

Figure out what doors you really want opened, Grumbles... then find a way to get them to open. <3

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Take Off

It's the heart afraid of breaking that never learns to dance. It is the dream afraid of waking that never takes a chance. It is the one who won't be taken who cannot seem to give. And the soul afraid of dying that never learns to live.
Bette Middler

Like my CrossFit training and my wedding planning, my blog has taken a bit of a backseat to life. I've been sick for a little while and been busy trying to mend the oddities that have happened since returning home... But things are for the most part back together and I've got to get back to writing. An idea has stuck with me since flying home and I wanted to revisit that idea.

While boarding a United flight back home, without Clint, by myself, I was reminded of a once simple yet bold traveler. An old version of myself? I pulled out my book and began reading while observing my fellow travelers in the corner of my eye. The woman next to me, an older Indian woman from Hayward, revealed by an envelope she pulled out of her purse, had aged fingers with once elastic skin sagging around the knuckles. Around her ring finger was a gold ring that remained the same size but hung loosely around the folds.

After about a half hour the plane was finally in line for takeoff. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed this part of the flight-the sudden rush of takeoff, your back being pushed into your seat, and the thrill of going to a new place. You're taking off, the feeling of a new beginning. Life has moments like that. Moments where you feel life is taking off and you're caught up in the momentum of the event and of the voyage to wherever life is taking you. I thrive on those moments and I live for them.

Lately though, those moments have been difficult to find. I suppose I've been in a funk and after arriving back in England, that funk has settled back over me like the clouds over England itself. But I reminded myself... I bought my plane tickets in the past and I made opportunities for every take off I've flown... in life it is the same way. So in the pursuit of takeoffs, I've opened my mind up to the idea that I am traveling and in another leg of my journey in life. I have to make my own takeoff's in life. And so I've reignited my quest for an NGO position at CAMfed. And reaffirmed the ideal that I am my own person: as long as I can accept myself and these choices I've made, no one can knock me down.

You have to pilot your own life and create your own takeoffs...

Monday, August 3, 2009


One of my favorite places in the world is Berkeley... I'm not planning to move there or settle down there or even go back to school there, but every now and then I need to feel refreshed and a bit inspired and I get that in Berkeley.

Last week, I spent the day in Berkeley with my family and future in-laws. Having a different perspective of Berkeley than the average person makes me feel a bit special for having this mysterious appreciation of the city. I'm not sure what the draw is and maybe if I lived there, I would have a different perspective, but as of now, Berkeley is one of the few beautiful cities in this world. You can find any type of cultural treasure there, from the arts and theatre to sports to academics to graffiti "art".

I've traveled to many different cities and many different countries but the strange feeling of familiarity juxtaposed with its raw nature makes Berkeley a bit more special to me. It is one of the few cities where I can walk down its main street and not feel "different". There are so many different faces, ideas, races, perspectives, and backgrounds that you can meet on any given day... that you can feel incredibly unique in comparison to this crowd of people who are all different from you but also feel accepted for being just as different as everyone else. It is one of the few places where I don't feel as immediately judged (or maybe just judged as immediately as any other stooge) for being an Asian, a woman, a student, a non-student, a liberal, a patriot, etc. How many times have you walked down a street or into a room and felt the eyes in your periphery staring at you, sizing you up and down, and judging your for your ideals, for your face, for your color, for your small eyes, for your breast size for your skin shade, for your waistline... ? And how many places can you visit where you don't feel those eyes, where you don't feel judged for being different, where you are just as different as everyone else there and that makes you all the same?

I feel lucky to have a place I can feel like that about. There are many big cities in the world... and there are many small towns... but there is only one Berkeley.