Happiness is a Muscle 💪🏼

Dear Friend,

Hey, how’s it going? After months of indecisions, I finally made a big-boy purchase for a M2 Macbook Air. It’s to encourage me to write more, but so far I’ve just been using it as a big screen YouTube machine. But the potential is there, I promise! All jokes aside, my hope is to be able to write more and better utilize my website to collect my thoughts — on minimalism, productivity, empathy, life lessons, etc. It’s less Ted Talk and more soap box, but what do you think? What’s on brand for me to write about?

In other news, whenever my manager would ask me for feedback at work, he’d say something like, “…based on your decade of experience”. And even though I’ve been doing PM work for some time now, it’s not something I’m used to hearing — to a point where I have to actively remind myself to get over it because it’s true. I’ve always seen myself as the student in a room of teachers, but as I’m increasingly becoming the oldest person in meetings, I understand the importance to acknowledge my skills and worth.

Anyways, here are some of the things I did this month:

  • 🏃🏻‍♂️ Ran 46.92 miles (average 3.6 miles per run) this month, up from 35.05 in July.
  • 🏋🏻‍♂️ Spent 26 hours (~10k calories burned) in all workout exercises, down from 28.5 hours (~10k calories burned) in July.
  • 🧘🏻‍♂️ Meditated 14 days (average 20 minutes per session), down from 26 days in July.
  • 📷 Here are some of the photos I took in August (link should be viewable in any browser).

🧋 Social Gatherings:

  • Walk with Jessica
  • SF Day Trip with Amanda
  • Brunch with Chris
  • Picnic with Homies
  • Dinner with Rick

Here is a quick list of entertainment that brought me joy this month:

  • 📺 TV: The Sandman (Netflix). While the world has largely moved on to The House of the Dragon, we recently just wrapped up season 1 of The Sandman. And you know what, I think the hype for this show is legit. It’s like a better, more modern take of Doctor Who — and like The Doctor, Morpheus is equally as mysterious and weird. But even with the latest surprise episode drop, one question remain: Like, is he supposed to be hot or not?
  • 🎧 Music: Sparrow, by Jump, Little Children (Apple Music). First off, please give Hold Me Closer because Britney needs a win. Then let’s talk about Jump, Little Children. For better or worse, this band defined my twenties when for a few summers I was involved with someone who didn’t always return the affection or the attention. Jump, Little Children was his favorite band, and with that their music was always in heavy rotation in my iPod nano. But drama aside, I’m blessed to be introduced to this awesome band, so color me surprise when I realized they had released a “new” reunion album back in 2018. The second Jay Clifford hits his first note off Sparrow and memories from that era just came rushing back. Not good, not bad, just glad it happened.
  • 🎤 Podcast: Planet Money Summer School (NPR). Planet Money was amongst the first shows I subscribed to when I first started listening to podcasts, like, twelve years ago? While they’re good at talking about economy without being too stuffy or snobby about it, it can be a challenge to catch up to this almost-daily show. That’s what makes Planet Money Summer School so great, where they recut older episodes into educational themes for audiences to catch up and for their staff to take the summer off (or at least have a lighter workload), all while keeping the sponsorship money ball rolling. Coming from the media world at IGN, that’s what we call a win-win-win strategy!
  • ▶️ YouTube Sundries:

🤔 A Moment of Zen: You have one million dollars to spend (only) on yourself. What would you buy? Would these purchases go toward items, experiences, or something else? Will they repay your past, sustain your present, or improve on your future? And after spending this money, who will you become?

And that’s about it for the month of August! I hope it’s interesting for you as it was nice for me to recap for the month. Please also share this newsletter if you think other people can benefit from it! They can also subscribe to the newsletters directly below.

Love wins

I’m not interesting, I’m just ”into resting” 😴

Dear Friend,

Hey, how’s it going? I want to first say a heartfelt thank you to those who reached out to me after my June’s newsletter. I always love hearing from you as it’s the best part of writing these things, and it means a lot to hear not just how you’re doing, but also for giving me great advice and to remind me that my world is not that small nor disconnected. Thank you.

If I may get a bit heady for a minute, I’d love to share with you a realization from my recent meditation practice. During a session where I was focusing on my breath, it dawned on me that “inhaling is just as important as exhaling, and with that resting and self-care need to have as much importance as working and growing.” Just like how we can’t keep inhaling, exhaling, or holding our breath, the only way we stay alive is to keep all parts of the breath in balance. No one part is more — or less important than the other.

Anyways, all that is to say that following last month’s many stress points, I really did try to focus on rest and play this month. Here are some of the things I did this month:

  • 🏃🏻‍♂️ Ran 35.05 miles (average 3.18 miles per run) this month, up from 23.22 in June.
  • 🏋🏻‍♂️ Spent 28.5 hours (~10k calories burned) in all workout exercises, up from 17.5 hours (~6700 calories burned) in June.
  • 🧘🏻‍♂️ Meditated 20 days (average 21 minutes per session), down from 26 days in June.
  • 📷 Here are some of the photos I took in July (link should be viewable in any browser).

🧋 Social Gatherings:

  • July 4th barbecue with the homies
  • Brunch with the Walmart gang
  • Ian and I recently shared our six-years anniversary, and we spent this past weekend at Angel Island — as a revisit of our third date! I really enjoy Angel Island, as it’s not too far but still takes a love ferry ride to get there… It’s feel like a mini vacay without venturing too far away!

Here is a quick list of entertainment that brought me joy this month:

  • 📺 TV: Hacks (HBO Max). Two worlds collided when Ava, the struggling, Gen-Z comedy writer found herself writing for Deborah, a legendary, seasoned (but somewhat has-been) comedian who’s been doing the same standup routine in Vegas for years. What I love most about this show is that it doesn’t diminish the two characters’ very different generational upbringings. Instead the show celebrates the differences, while also showcase how resilient women has and always will be.
  • 🎧 Music: Renaissance, by Beyoncé (Apple Music). I’m not part of the Beyhive by any means, but this album is great! I think a big part of it is the nostalgic house music, something that reminds me of the gay culture I grew up with. But it’s also so fun, familiar, and… cozy? I sound like an old man, but I really like how I don’t have to try to understand it to like it — instead it’s as if Renaissance has always been in the guilty-pleasure part of my music collection.
  • 🎤 Podcast: Project Unabom (Apple Podcast). Speaking of growing up, Unabomber was someone that was so elusive, and was therefore so fascinating to me growing up in the 90s. I always knew he was anti-technology, but Project Unabom helped paint the picture so much more vividly on his maddening ideologies. (Like how he’s almost incel-like before there was even a name to it?) And while we knew his brother turned him in, it was amazing to learn how the key people who solved this case behind the scenes were all women!
  • ▶️ YouTube Sundries:

🤔 A Moment of Zen: Imagine the absolute perfect day — what time would you wake up? Will you be an early riser, or will you sleep in? What will you do or not do, and will you do these things with anyone else, or spend the day by yourself? How’s the weather that day? Is it bright and sunny, or is it raining or snowing outside?

And that’s about it for the month of July! I hope it’s interesting for you as it was nice for me to recap for the month. Please also share this newsletter if you think other people can benefit from it! They can also subscribe to the newsletters directly below.

Love wins

Thanks June, I Hate It 😩

Dear Friend,

Hey, how’s it going? So blame it on planet Mercury, the GOP, or whatever — but June has been a pretty crappy month to say the least. While I often pride myself in being able to find light and levity amidst the dense darkness, there are still moments where I feel hurt and overwhelmed with hopelessness. June has a lot of these moments for one reason or another.

I had a couple scares earlier this month in terms of my health and personal safety. I’m okay, but however minor they may be, I was still unsettled enough to start looking into various aspects of legacy planning. (i.e.: Advance Directive, Estate Planning, and Swedish Death Cleaning for those who are curious.)

More importantly, I’ve been noticing this growing delta between myself and this upside down world we now live in. Every day I scroll through the news, social media, or even just daily text threads and I’m reminded the increasing gap between my ideals and identity with way too many headlines and people’s hot takes. From the mega rich and the politicians, sure, but I was thrown down a mental spiral when these diverging worldviews are also coming from family, friends, and those I once trusted and admired.

There is growing distance even with those I do align with, with friends moving to other cities and caring for families, or with myself leaving a familiar job for a brand new one. The sea of change is constant and inevitable, but its turbulence is dizzying and can get rough at times. I find myself between relying on online spaces where triggering voices thrive or feeling isolated with the screens turn off. Neither choice is healthy.

The one thing I can reliably do is to keep investing and growing in my journey toward resilience — find peace and meaning through meditation, build strength and focus through workout exercises, and satiate my curiosity through continual learning.

With that, here are some of the things I did this month:

  • 🏃🏻‍♂️ Ran 23.22 miles (average 3.31 miles per run) this month, up from 10.61 in May.
  • 🏋🏻‍♂️ Spent 17.5 hours (~6700 calories burned) in all workout exercises, compared to 19 hours (~6000 calories burned) in May.
  • 🧘🏻‍♂️ Meditated 26 days (average 24 minutes per session) in past 4 weeks, up from 21 days.
  • 📷 Here are some of the photos I took in June (link should be viewable in any browser).
  • 🏞 I also started curating old photos specifically to be used as Wallpaper. Feel free download or even contribute to this album!

🧋 Social Gatherings:

  • Breakfast with Chris
  • Ian and I started planning our Saturdays for screens-off day-dates, and in June we went to Ikea, Filoli, Foster City and more!

In lieu of making my typical recommendations across TV, Movies, and whole seasons of podcasts and TV shows, here is a quick list of specific things that carried me through this month:

🙏 Monthly Gratitude:

  • Thank you Chris for always being so good with dragging me out of the house. And you know, Bernal Heights Park.
  • Thank you Ryan for being so gentle and kind, and for your openness to pick our friendship back up after years of silence.

🤔 A Moment of Zen: What superhero would you most want to be? Not superpowers per se, but which specific superhero (e.g.: Storm, Batman, Wonder Woman) do you want to become along with their personality? What super powers of theirs are you most eager to inherit, and what shortcomings are you willing to embrace? How does that compare to the pride for your own strengths or the tolerance of your own weaknesses?

And that’s about it for the month of June! I hope it’s interesting for you as it was nice for me to recap for the month. What are you up to and how are you doing? I know I say this every month, but hearing from you seriously is the best part of writing these newsletters 😀

Please also share this newsletter if you think other people can benefit from it! They can also subscribe to the newsletters directly below.

Love wins

May you be healthy and well 🙏

Dear Friend,

Hey, how’s it going? I’ve been finding myself quite ungrounded this month between the new job, the “everything” market crash, yet another surge in COVID cases, and the horrific shootings in Buffalo and Texas. There had also been other general annoyances and hurdles that placed me squarely at my biggest pet peeve — what I call “at step 3 of 7” — where I’m not quite starting and not quite done. Instead I’m just stranded somewhere neither here nor there.

Like, my new job has a “return to office” policy of up to 3 times a week, but with the latest surge in COVID cases there are now vague expectations (and directions) between corporate, my manager, and my own comfort level. Do I go into the office one, two, or three times a week? And if so, should I drive down with my car with a broken AC (something that’s fixed last week, thankfully) when gas is at $6.30 per gallon, or do I spend 1.5 hour each way in a shuttle full of people?

There are other examples like that, and I know these are annoyances at best — I am healthy and safe at the end of the day. I’m just having trouble finding my footing amidst these ambiguities and last-minute changes, and these “wait and see” moments can leave me feeling a bit impatient, irritated, and uncertain.

But anyways, here are some of the things I did this month:

  • 🏃🏻‍♂️ Ran 10.61 miles (average 3.53 miles per run) this month, down from 13.74 in April.
  • 🚶🏻 Walked 40.63 miles (average 1.84 miles per walk) this month, down from 51.64 in April.
  • 🧘🏻‍♂️ Meditated 21 days (average 22 minutes per session), down from 27 days in April.
  • 🕰 I haven’t been diligent with my intermittent fasting habit, but I’m easing back to 17 hours durations as I find my footing next month!
  • 📷 Here are some of the photos I took in May (link should be viewable in any browser)

🧋 Social Gatherings:

  • Dinner with Livi & Lucian
  • Birthday celebration with Ian

Here are the things I enjoyed and would recommend this month:

  • 📺 TV: This is Us (Hulu). Most of you know that I’ve loved Mandy Moore unironically since the very beginning, yet for some reason I haven’t dove in to this beloved series until now. Even as my IGN friends urged me to watch it back in 2016, I just didn’t want to get “even more emotional” that year. Now that I’m finally watching it, I’m slowly remembering the tidbits my friends told me about, and why my love for Mandy Moore remains decades after Candy.
  • 🎤 Podcast: The Problem with Jon Stewart (Apple Podcast) While the TV series is great and stand on its own, there has only been eight episodes in the past year whereas this podcast has been ongoing. The interviews in these podcast episodes also go way more in-depth, and with people often providing detailed counterpoints to the show.
  • ▶️ YouTube Sundries: Michael Che on comedy and controversy

🙏 Monthly Gratitude:

  • Thank you Dreya for helping me connect with your dad on fixing my car’s AC.
  • Thank you Ian for your patience and your love as we celebrate your birthday month!
  • Thank you to my aunt and my brother for treating my parents so well in Thailand.

🤔 A Moment of Zen: What would you do if you find yourself an extra hour of complete free time right now? Would you take a bath, or go for a walk? Would you water your plants, or play videogames? And is this something you can fit in today or this week after all?

And that’s about it for the month of May! I hope it’s interesting for you as it was nice for me to recap for the month. What are you up to and how are you doing? Let me know what you’ve been up to please — it seriously makes my day 🙂

Please also share this newsletter if you think other people can benefit from it! They can also subscribe to the newsletters directly below.

Love wins

Jittering From Joy (or Coffee) 😬

Dear Friend,

Hey, how’s it going? Quantitatively speaking, my productivity metrics from this month are down compared to March. But it recently dawned on me during one of my daily walks that, no numbers can represent all the flowers I saw or the breeze I felt that day. April was a tough month in the beginning but things took an upswing when I got a job at Apple!

There are way too many thoughts and feelings about this milestone, so of course I sorted them out by writing it out. I’m a blogger, after all!

Here are some of the things I did this month:

  • I started a new job at Apple!
  • 🏃🏻‍♂️ Ran 13.74 miles (average 3.43 miles per run) this month, down from 40.6 in March.
  • 🚶🏻 Walked 51.64 miles (average 1.84 miles per walk) this month, up from 48.01 in March
  • 🧘🏻‍♂️ Meditated 19 days in March (average 22 minutes per session), down from 27 days in March.
  • 🕰 I haven’t been as diligent with my intermittent fasting habit ever since I kicked it up from 16 to 18-hour durations. But it’s still helpful give my body a chance to reset.
  • 📷 Here are some of the photos I took in March (link should be viewable in any browser)

Social Gatherings:

  • Surprise party with Rajvi & Vipul
  • Brunch with Chris, Dreya, and Shannon
  • Brunch with Melissa and Scott
  • Dinner with Esme and Kathleen
  • Quite a few work lunches!

Here are the things I enjoyed and would recommend this month:

  • 📺 TV: Green Eggs and Ham (2nd Season) (Netflix). Yes I’ve recommended this show before, and yes I know Severance is also an awesome show. But sometime it’s also good to just watch a silly show at the end of a stressful day. This season has a great “James Bond” theme to it, and the jokes are just as clever as the first. This is especially great with families (not to mention with Mother’s Day coming up)!
  • 🎬 Movie: Everything Everywhere All At Once (YouTube Trailer). I’m so glad this movie is doing well and gaining more traction by the day. While this movie is truly as its title suggests: everything, everywhere, all at once — what’s fascinating to me is that my friends who’ve seen this all have very different reasons for why this movie is special to them. I’ll spare you my thoughts (for now), because ultimately it’s more meaningful for you to experience this movie and see what emotions may light up for yourself.
  • 🎤 Podcast: Maybe it’s because my parents are still abroad, but I’ve been listening to a lot of Cantonese podcasts this month. For those who understand Cantonese and are interested, check out Not A Romantic Story (conversational from a newlywed couple) or Alohagwa (random topics from an ex-radio DJ). Then let me know what you think about these shows!
  • 🎧 Music: Solar Power, by Lorde (Apple Music) I’ve previously recommended this before as well, but truth be told I just keep coming back to this album. There was a week before receiving the job offer where I kept ruminating about how things aren’t going to end well. The music video for Secrets From a Girl (Who’s Seen It All) came out during this time, which this line of lyric jumped out at me, “Remember what you thought was grief before the call?” Needless to say, I held on to that line and remind myself to please just wait for the call — until it finally did!
  • ▶️ YouTube Sundries:

Sadly I still haven’t touched Peach Blossom Spring by Melissa Fu this month. The book was recommended by Book of the Month Club (a bday gift from my friend Rebecca). I look forward to picking it back up in May! Please reply and LMK if you have a book recommendation for me! I’m currently trying to read more fiction.

🤔 A Moment of Zen: With everything one tap away and immediately within our reach, we sometimes rob ourselves the moments to anticipate, to yearn, and to savor. Close your eyes and picture something you’re looking forward to… this could be a mail package, an upcoming date, a new movie, etc. How does this anticipation make you feel? Exciting? Scary? Joyful? Or something else? What can you learn from this anticipation?

And that’s about it for the month of April! I hope it’s interesting for you as it was nice for me to recap for the month. What are you up to and how are you doing? Let me know what you’ve been up to please — it seriously makes my day 🙂

Love wins

Please also share this newsletter if you think other people can benefit from it! They can also subscribe to the newsletters directly below.

Love wins