No Room for Seconds

Hello everyone! It has certainly been a while since I have taken the time to sit and collect myself here, and pose more questions for you in hopes that they will bring about that spark of curiosity.

The past few months have been a whirlwind of change, from leaving my job in order to pursue my masters degree, to my sister moving in with me, and finding new hobbies and interests. I feel like everything has gone by so quickly that I can barely keep up with all this change.

Anyone that knows me will tell you that I am a perpetual over-filler. In other words, I bite off more than I can chew. My desire to do everything causes a lot of what I do to be a half-assed effort since I cannot dedicate enough time to each to be great. This has always  been a cycle of decreased self-esteem to rebuilding and committing the same crime in order to redeem myself, which is built on living up to my parents’ example (typical asian first child). It has always left a bad taste in my mouth, so I am working hard to cut down on my commitments and do my very best with the ones that I have.

My grandmother once told me that when you are a kid, you have all the energy and time in the world, but no money. When you are an adult, you have the money and the energy, but no time. Finally, when you become old, you have the money and the time, but no energy. So depending on where you are, use what you have to the fullest. I thought about this a lot, and I came to the conclusion that in today’s world, energy and money comes and goes, but no one has time anymore. Why is this? Because today’s society gives no room for seconds.

As a kid, to be successful, you are expected to get top grades, play an instrument, be a star player on a sports team, be student body president, start your own non-profit or do many hours of community service, along with maintaining a vibrant and healthy social life. With this being the norm for many of today’s youth (American and otherwise), the pressures on our kids and teens today is stifling, since there is always someone out there willing to work harder than you for the same opportunity.

Once you reach “adulthood”, you are expected to know how to pay taxes, manage a budget, take care of yourself mentally, physically, emotionally, and sexually, all without any proper guidance or direction. You’re constantly told that you should be pursuing your career, climbing up your ladder, have a healthy and stable relationship with yourself and with a significant other, manage a family, raise well-meaning kids, all while pursuing your passions and continuing to improve yourself intellectually.

This kind of image of perfection doesn’t exist. And yet, we hold ourselves to an impossible standard. I know I’m guilty of it every day. Life has a way to creating snags in our sweaters, raising speedbumps we weren’t expecting. So, as hard as we try to reach that perfection, there is always something missing.

Pursuing many things isn’t a bad thing per say. However, since time is arguably our most precious resource, it’s high time we treat it as such. Commit our time and energy to things that matter, things that contribute to our happiness and the happiness of others. Nowadays there are so many things that make us “better”. Focus on a few, and only once you find stability in the ones you’ve chosen can you begin to consider adding more. You don’t have to fill your thanksgiving plate to the brim the first time. There should always be room for seconds.

So, I ask you this, how do you choose to spend your time, and it is spent wisely? I’d love to know how you take care of yourself and what your priorities are, timewise. Please let me know!

I hope this stirred your cup of curiosity. It certainly did mine. Have a wonderful day, everyone!

For the Love of Balance

What do you do to better yourself? How do you stay healthy and happy in your own daily life?

One morning during the usual commute, I was listening to Shankar Vedantum on NPR’s podcast Hidden Brain. In the particular episode I was listening to, he had on Elizabeth Currid-Halkett who was discussing her book ‘The Sum of Small Things: A Theory of the Aspirational Class’. As she delve deeper into her theory of this neo-elite societal class that expressed their status through cultural capital instead of conspicuous consumer habits, it dawned on me that we are all not so different in our desires to be “happy and healthy”, but it’s something only able to be achieved by those with a certain level of money. Correct me if I’m wrong, but does this sound like you?

Listens to NPR for your news and podcasts, and reads the Economist when you can.

Loves to shop organic and visit farmers markets to get food straight from the source and support local business.

Practice Pilates, Barre, or Yoga at a very nice gym or studio to be healthy, to stay fit and to find some inner peace in your hectic day.

Can be spotted walking to work or to a cafe with a New York Times or The Economist tote bag with a lunch meal-prepped over the weekend, with your Apple computer and a book that can be found on the NYT bestseller list.

If with kids, definitely plans on breastfeeding for the first year (maybe into the second), and began stocking away money into a college fund the moment they found out they were pregnant.

Does this sound like anyone to you?

In life’s rat race, there’s always been this drive for the perfect life. A happy self, a loving marriage with cute kids, a fulfilling job, and a body that doesn’t give away one’s age. Nowadays, the idea of perfection is more in line with Walgreens’ tagline “the corner of happy and healthy”. This plays into the whole work-life balance idea that’s been much more prevalent in today’s workforce. The expectation of 60hour work weeks when you’re only being paid for 40 has dropped significantly, and the idea that your job is your life is no longer working for today’s millennial workforce.

So what does it mean to be “at the corner of happy and healthy”? This has been going through my mind a lot lately, and the ideas listed above seem to be the common understanding of how to achieve health and happiness. But I come to understand that there’s so much more to it. It’s not just simply eating a homemade salad and posting about it on instagram, nor is it the obligatory muscle pic to show that you’ve checked off going to the gym.  Nor is it staying relevant to what podcast is cool or the netflix show everyone should watch (stranger things, I’m looking at you).

It’s about understanding the relationship between the mind, the body, and the soul, and how to care for each of them.

As intelligent and mindful human beings, it’s our duty to keep our minds sharp. I’ve found that, like a blade, left alone without a tool to sharpen it, it becomes dull and ultimately useless. One must continuously take care of it by putting it to things that challenge it, whether that be through new ideas or simply ideas that challenge your previous notions of normality. Nowadays, this is in the form of what media we choose to consume. But it’s something that each of us must choose wisely, and for our own good.

If there’s one thing I’m glad I learned early, it’s that there is no miracle diet that will change your life. Just by understanding your relationship to food and what your body needs is enough to stay happy and healthy. Exercise is good for everyone, and we all could use more exercise in our lives, but not everyone needs to go to the gym to get ripped. And certainly not everyone can. It’s about what your body can handle and what you are looking to achieve, and how to keep your body healthy, inside and out. You’d be surprised how much the use of sunscreen can do for you, more than any juice cleanse.

As for the soul, this is the most personal of the three, and it is speaks to each of our own sense of purpose. Why are we here and what greater purpose do we serve by being here? That answer might be found through the work that we do, or the relationships we keep, physical or divine, or simply how we choose to spend what little time we have here. In any sense, that is how we measure our impact, and our greater goals.

Now, I’m sure it seems like these things are simple, and it can all be done by anyone and everyone and we all should be ashamed that we aren’t living up to our potential. Newsflash, this dedication is much harder than I ever imagined. We all live incredibly busy lives. There’s work to be done, papers to write, the never-ending supply of emails that come in, and man, do we hate the commute. But in the end, it’s our well-being that takes the hit when we don’t care for it, like a garden without a gardener.

So, those who want to get that 8 hours of sleep, eat vegetables every day, maintain a healthy social life, exercise daily, take care of your skin, drink 8 cups of water a day, have a fulfilling career at work, and still find time to keep up your hobbies, remember this. Take it one step at a time. Keep your chin up, your head held high, and remind yourself that you’re doing your very best. That’s all anyone can really expect, from others or yourself.

As always, keep stirring that cup of curiousity 🙂

person holding white ceramic coffee cup leaning on brown wooden table
Photo by THE 5TH on Pexels.com

 

Lessons from a Jigsaw Puzzle

Ever since I was a kid, one of my favorite pastimes was puzzling. Jigsaw puzzling. Being the home body that I am, jigsaw puzzles were the perfect thing to do over summer vacation, especially on those days where you didn’t feel like changing out of your pajamas. Extra points for rainy days.

I fondly remember working on jigsaw puzzles on breaks or over those long summers. Starting with the easy 50 piece ones, then 100, then 500, and reaching the 1000s by middle school. From then on, my goal was to complete at least one 1000 piece puzzle every summer. Having a jigsaw puzzle going on was perfect for those educational lags in the year, as it kept your mind busy and sharp. It was a perfect solo and group project for the family, as progress could be made by one or multiple people at a time. Lastly, it was inviting, as it’s hard to pass a puzzle and not have the desire to complete at least one piece, since it’s such an easy source of that “I did it” feeling. There were so many great lessons I learned that were about topics bigger than just a jigsaw puzzles, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. This is a step-by-step approach to how to complete a jigsaw puzzle, and the lessons one will learn on the way.

When starting work on a puzzle, what is the first thing you do? Past opening the box and smelling that waft of cardboard smell with the dust falling out of the bag as you dump the pieces on the table, what do you do? I start separating the edges from the middle pieces, then grouping pieces by discernible areas (sky, grass, large objects etc). This makes tackling the puzzle much easier, as you break it down into smaller and smaller puzzles. So, instead of one 2000, you actually have four 500 piece puzzles. In order words, divide and conquer. This can be applied to so many of life’s challenges, whether it be cleaning the house before company arrives, preparing the thanksgiving feast, or checking off all the things on the to-do list. Making large ordeals into smaller, more bite-size pieces, makes finishing the meal so much easier.

Once the pieces are separated into their respective piles, you will want to lay them all flat so that every piece can be seen from a birds-eye-view. This will help you in the search for that one particular piece, as we are visual creatures, and need to see the shape and colors of each piece, to compare to the void we hope to fill. When solving a problem, it is best to get all the information that you can in order to make the most informed decision. However, as any puzzler can tell you, just because the color and size appears to fit doesn’t mean it is going to.

Looks can be deceiving, so it takes a lot of trial and error to find the right combination of pieces. Most of the work of a puzzle is seeing which pieces fit together. Some are easy, with a recognizable image so that all you need to do is fine the other half of the face, or a flat side so you know it is a border piece. Others aren’t as simple, like the sky with the ever so similar gradients of blue, or grass where every blade looks like it belongs with the next. This translates to how I walk through life and find my own happiness. Some things are black and white in what goes where. Food, water, shelter, family, those all fit pretty easily in the big picture. But this new job? This new or old friend? This new experience? Where do these additions fit in with my idea of happiness? There’s always a place for everything, just not where you might think it would be. All one can do is continue to work at it until you find its home. Once every place has a home, you’ve completed your puzzle.

Life’s puzzle may seem much more complicated; the way I see it, it is as simple and straightforward as a jigsaw puzzle. You just don’t know how many pieces there are, and they are constantly changing shapes. Nevertheless, the lessons apply. Tackle parts one at a time. Look over what you know, and prepare for the unexpected. And never give up. Some may seem like they fit at that moment, and later on you’ll find it no longer fits. Keep testing out each piece, and sooner or later, you’ll get lucky.

Next time you find yourself at home on a rainy day, stay  in your sleepwear, brew a nice warm cup of tea, grab your comfiest blanket, and start a puzzle. You never know what you might learn on the way.

 

Photo credit: Watercolor vector created by Freepik

Finding my personal happiness is a never ending journey of mine. It ties together all aspects of my life. My first big girl lesson was that I must find a way to be happy on my own in order for all of life’s downfalls to be worth pushing through. Religion, self-confidence, self-worth, parental approval, I’ve worked to find my own happiness in many of them. However, even when I found what I was looking for, the daily to-dos and responsibilities still made it hard to keep that happiness in sight. So, to stay moving forward, I make it a point to remember the little things that make me smile to remind me of the things that are worth the toils and struggles of life:

  1. That first sip of coffee in the morning
  2. The smell of the morning dew
  3. An organized work space
  4. Waking up to a good morning text from your SO
  5. Finding a lucky dollar in your pocket
  6. Cutting into the avocado and it’s perfectly ripe
  7. The taste of perfectly cooked fresh white rice
  8. The cold side of the pillow
  9. The first blooms of spring
  10. Climbing into bed after a long day

It’s important to appreciate the little things in life. There are too many things to bring us down, so count your blessings, smile at life’s little pleasures, and create your own daily happiness. What do you do to find your daily happiness?