December, December, Let’s all Remember the Best of 2021

Dear Friend,

Hey, how’s it going? I hope you had a lovely holiday and are doing your best resting and attempt to transform into your couch. I’ve certainly put aside my usual productive goals for the month to do just that.

I did recently begin dabbling in poetry, though. I wrote this one earlier this week — what do you think?

And in lieu of new recommendations, I’ve put together all the recommendations previously mentioned this year. You can click on the month below to get more context and reason behind the recommendation through the past issues.

📺 TV:

🎤 Podcast:

📗 Book:

  • August: Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
  • September: Bad Muslim Discount by Syed M. Masood
  • October: The Book of Lost Names by kristin Harmel
  • November: Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

🎧 Music

🎬 Movie

  • April: Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
  • October: Wolfwalkers

As I’ve said before, the best part of writing Dear Friend, isn’t the content itself, but rather its invitation to hear from you. Collectively, this year I was blessed to learn about your new business venture, your family drama, your coming out, your imaginary vacation, your road trip, and your everyday hustle.

Through your replies I could sense your anxiety, invisibility, resilience, hope, and joy. Whether we’re miles apart or unheard in years, thank you so much for sharing with me. I’m glad this newsletter can connect us together, and along with your stories to show that we belong and matter.

And that about wraps it up for 2021! I hope you’ve enjoyed my newsletter this year and were able to find some relief, if not amusement from it. As always, please let me know what you’ve been up to — it serious 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

November Update

Dear Friend,

Hey, how’s it going? I hope you had a great Thanksgiving 🦃 and are looking forward to the holidays right around the corner. November is Birthday month for me and this year’s been pretty chill due to everyone’s schedule. That said, it’s still great to have a couple friends drop by to wish me a Happy Birthday IRL.

Here are the things I did this month:

  • I ran 42.08 miles (average 4.21 miles per run), down from 42.45 from October.
  • I finally bought an Asian Art Museum membership! It’s been on my wishlist for a minute to find a meaningful way to support the AAPI community.
  • Animal Crossing released a big 2.0 update and has once again sucked up a huge part of my morning routine.
  • I meditated 13 days in October, with an average time of 21 minutes per session (blame Animal Crossing!)
  • Here are some photos I took in November. (Link expires in a month)

Social Gatherings:

  • Couple friends dropped by to say HBD and Thanksgiving with family, but that’s about it. Anybody around for December?

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

  • 📺 TVDickinson (Apple TV+): While everyone’s on the Ted Lasso train, I’ve been in love with Dickinson from the very beginning. The show is about Emily Dickinson, sure, but it’s moreso the things happening in her world during her time that truly captivates me. From women’s suffrage to slavery to the Civil War, this 27-episode series wobbles from weird to woke from one episode to another — all while showcasing how modern women could be given the limitations during this time period. Wild nights, indeed!
  • 🎤 PodcastInvisibilia (Apple Podcast): The latest season is about Friendships and all its expectations, implications, and ambiguities with those who we call our friends. Whether it’s the pandemic or just getting older, I’ve been finding it increasingly challenging to build and maintain friendships these days. So it’s been comforting to hear from others’ unique experiences with their friends — from getting ghosted, to making friends under the vow of silence, to going to therapy with friends and of course, to exploring Friends With Benefits. Friendships can be so vague and ill-defined, yet it bond us all together such meaningful ways.
  • 📗 BookRed, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston (Goodreads): So here’s the thing, I didn’t love this rom-com of a book for its plot or character developments. But for me it was very refreshing, almost in a foreign way, to read a book with LGBTQ characters and seeing them just experience gay joy without compromise. Unlike most of the LGBTQ media I grew up with, there’s no plot lines related to suicides, AIDS, drugs, family abandonment, or gay trauma or any kind; instead this book is just a rom-com story about two characters that happened to be queer. It’s a marker that I’m from another time and perhaps wow, we’ve indeed arrived.
  • 🎧 MusicLong Ambients by Moby (Apple Music): So this recommendation is less about my love for it than how it helped me recently. For whatever reason, I’m again having sleeping issues and this playlist (comprise of both of his Long Ambients albums) has been part of my remedy. Apparently, Moby also has sleep issues and couldn’t find any music that would help him go back to sleep, so he made his own. He made two albums and I combined them into an Apple Music playlist here.

My next book will be A Little Hope by Ethan Joella, recommended by Book of the Month Club (a bday gift from my friend Rebecca). Please reply and LMK if you have a book recommendation for me! I’m currently trying to read more fiction.

And that’s about it for the month of November! I hope it’s interesting for you as it was nice for me to recap for the month. How are you doing? It’s kinda sad I had mentioned “With Covid calming down…” last month only to see there’s a new Omicron variant in the horizon. Stay healthy and safe, and have a great holiday in December! 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

October is Overnight Oats Month (not really 😅)

Dear Friend,

Hey, how’s it going? Happy Halloween 🎃! October was a pretty productive month for me, as I finally had my annual physical appointment and restarted my meditation routine. It’s been nice to set time aside to just sit still to let thoughts flow through like a rushing stream, while actively practicing calm, focus, and kindness.

Here are the things I did this month:

  • I ran 42.45 miles (average 4.25 miles per run), down from 44.32 from September
  • I meditated 24 days in October, with an average time of 21 minutes per session
  • As we approach winter, I’m winding down my intermittent fasting and began having overnight oats for breakfast again. Here’s the base recipe I use before adding different toppings and flavors.

Social Gatherings:

  • Lunch with the gang: Becky found this great park around Ocean Ave, so we met up for a quick lunch. With everyone living all around the bay with their own lives to manage, it’s getting increasingly difficult to get together these days. But when we do, it always good.
  • Lunch with coworkers: I don’t normally put work stuff here but our team recently launched a product that took more than a year to scope & build, so we decided to meet up for lunch and celebrated the launch like actual human beings.

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

(Note: I try to find and recommend more under-the-radar things, since we all know Squid Game basically took over October.)

  • 📺 TVThe Leftovers (HBO Max) — I once jokingly refer this show as “Depression in a TV show”, but apparently that was only true in the first season. From the co-creator of Lost, The Leftovers offers more questions than answers in this 26-episode series. How would you react in the scenario where 2% of the world’s population suddenly vanished one day without any reason? Would you hope for your loved ones to return, and for how long? Would you grieve for their loss, or how do you make peace with it? Would you be afraid it’ll happen again? And how would you apply meaning to its occurrence — with rationale, religion, psychology, or something else? This series is just so beautiful and perfect for an overthinker like myself.
  • 🎤 PodcastWelcome to Your Fantasy (Apple Podcasts) — This 9-episode series detailed the abrupt rise and unbelievable fall of the Chippendales brand of the 1980s. Though it’s still around today, their ubiquitous fame in the 80s was filled with jealousy, corruption, and sociopathic murder attempts that more extra than the cheesy Chippendale dance routine you may have in your head. Speaking of, check out the podcast’s IG account (you’re welcome). 
  • 📗 BookThe Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel (Goodreads) — While some of the characters and plot lines didn’t hook me right from the start (or maybe I’m just that jaded?), this book transported me into the middle of WWII in a world unknown to me. Away from the battlefields where most WWII books and movies take place, it was interesting to experience the danger of living a hidden life of resistance — all while showcasing the value of “doing what you can” when hope seemed anything but a fantasy. In a way, this book is quite relatable to today when authoritative rule and military coup is increasingly common around the world.
  • 🎧 MusicOptimist by Finneas (Apple Music) — While Billie Elish may be the pop star of today, I’ve always been more intrigued by her lower-key, yet equally talented brother Finneas. His songs in this debut album have a good balance between folk, pop, and rock, while still sharing quite a bit of similarities to Billie. Let’s hope he doesn’t turn into another Ed Sheeran in a few years.
  • 🎬 MovieWolfwalkers (Apple TV+) — The storybook-like art is so unique and far from the Disney style that we all grew up with. Apparently this movie is the studio’s third part of a “Irish Folklore Trilogy”, after Secret of Kells and Song of the Sea. And fun fact — apparently the villain of this story is based on a real person, considered by some as a hero in English history.

My next book will be Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston (Goodreads), recommended by my friend Jessica. (Please reply and LMK if you have any recommendations for me! Especially books since I’m currently trying to read more fiction.)

Community Shoutout:

  • After years of contemplating, my friend Eugene finally signed up for AIDS Lifecycle and will be riding 545 miles from San Francisco to Los Angeles over 8 days in 2022. As a friend, he’s always been there for me to celebrate my highs while support me during my lows. You can read up on his training journey here and please consider donating if you can.

(Do you have something to share as well? Are you working on a project, fundraising, selling / giving things away, or otherwise just have something you want more people to know about? Please reply and LMK — would love to help spread the word. We’re all good people here :D)

And that’s about it for the month of October! I hope it’s interesting for you as it was nice for me to recap for the month. How are you doing? With Covid getting better (at least here in the US), do you have any Thanksgiving or holiday plans this year? 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

September Reflections

Dear Friend,

Hey, how’s it going? September came and went, and the sunrise shifts just a bit later with each passing day. One unexpected perk — it’s been nice to see the sun rises alongside and throughout my morning runs. I still can’t believe 2021 is closing in on us, and I still haven’t had my annual PSL from Starbucks yet!

Here are the things I did this month:

  • I ran 44.32 miles (average 4.43 miles per run), up from 42.66 from July.
  • I’m trying to restart my meditation habit. With everything going on with work and the world, there is a need to actively find stillness in my life. Currently aiming for 20 minutes a day.
  • I’ve also been doing some light research on ebikes. My car is completely fine and the (non-Tesla) EV infrastructure is still years away from being reliable, so I’m curious to see if ebikes would be a good short/medium term solution. I’m not great at riding bikes though, so there will a learning curve involved if I do go for it.

Social Gatherings:

  • Dinner with Shannon, Dreya, and Chris: Shannon was in town! We went to Tacolicious for dinner and for a brief moment life felt normal again.
  • Dinner with Livi & Lucian: Lucian was very sweet to plan a surprise dinner for Livi’s birthday. Always good to see them and their new puppy is a wild one.

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

  • 🎤 Concert: HOCC Shouson Live — Denise Ho (stage name HOCC) is a entertainer in Hong Kong, whose pro-democratic views has gottened her banned in China and now increasingly censored in Hong Hong. She couldn’t book any venues (all managed and denied by the HKG government) for years, until she finally did this year with a small, indie theatre. A week before her show, the theatre cancelled on her and she had to pivot to livestreaming her concert from an undisclosed location. Her songs are all about self-empowerment and inclusivity, and her concert was touching and simply iconic. While the concert is over, you can learn more about HOCC through her TED talkas well a recent documentary about her (both in English).
  • 🎧 Podcast: Dolly Parton’s America — While today’s America is divided at best, for years Dolly Parton has been labeled a unifier that can seemingly bring everyone together. This 9-episode series goes into her upbringing, her rise to fame, her stance on politics (or lack thereof), Dollywood, and even a college course about her!
  • 🎵 Album: Firebird, by Natalie Imbruglia — If Lorde’s Solar Power was Summer captured into an album, then Firebird takes that same energy and extends it into fall. Her last original album was released in 2008 so it’s wonderful to finally hear her silky voice again through a new set of songs, filled to the brim with empowerment and positivity.
  • 📺 TVGameFace — Ian recently introduced this show to me and it carries a very similar energy as Flea Bag. Written and starred by Rosin Conaty, this 17-episode show is a hilarious, endearing journey to see Marcella stumble and her way through a series of very, FML moments.
  • 📖 BookBad Muslim Discount, by Syed M. Masood — Aside from a handful of Muslim celebrities on TV, I simply don’t know anything about the Muslim identity and culture, either here in America or otherwise. Through the eyes of two protagonists from very different backgrounds, this book provided an impactful peek into their worlds. Each chapter alternates between the two characters’ perspectives as the story accelerates and converges into a fascinating read.

My next book will be The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel, recommended by my friend Becky. (Please reply and LMK if you have a book recommendation for me! I’m currently trying to read more fiction.)

Look back ⬅️:

  • Wins: Went to the dentist after 2+ years. Ran more than last month.
  • Aspiration: Improve health by schedule a dentist & physical appointment
  • Results: Went to a new nearby dentist on a whim, but not too sure if she’s as good as I was hoping her to be.
  • Pivot: Still need to schedule a physical, and want to get a new pair of glasses.

Look Forward ➡️:

  • Goal: Decrease time on social media, notably Facebook
  • Action: Setting time restriction social media
  • Plan: Block out evening time for reading instead

And that’s about it for the month of September! I hope it’s interesting for you as it was nice for me to recap for the month. How are you doing? Do you have a (fiction) book recommendation for me? 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

August Reflections

It’s been a while since my last newsletter. Depression, amirite?

The gist was that I was feeling down (even as the world picked up for a few months until recently) and was also making some minor pivots following my 10-week life coaching journey. It’s a bit too much to plop everything down here, but I’ll be writing a blog post about it in the future.

In the mean time here’s a quick summary and reflection of what I did in the month of August, 2021.

Here are some things I did this month:

  • I ran 42.66 miles (average 4.27 miles per run), down from 44.6 from July
  • Canceled my gym membership (and then immediately went to Jollibee)
  • Completed a 3-month Technical Program Manager (TPM) Practitioner course (Oh thank goodness I’m done with it!)

Social Gatherings:

  • Drinks with Rick and Becky
  • Coffee with Terence
  • Brunch with Ms Ozaki and Ka
  • Brunch with Dreya and Chris
  • Dinner with my cousin
  • Picnic with the homies

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

  • Podcast: Stuff British Stole by ABC. The fact that you’re reading this newsletter in the English language, by a writer born in Hong Kong now living in a country that’s not England says a lot about just how much the British had influence (and stolen) from the world.
  • Album: Solar Power by Lorde. Haters gonna hate because I love this album more and more with each listen.
  • TV: My Hero Academia. Between the theme song, recap, and next episode preview, the 22 minute show is more like a 10-minute web series. Super binge-able and enjoyable.
  • Book: Pachinko by Min Jin Lee. I like the slow-ish pacing and how it spans across four generations — and how a decision in one generation can lead to very different paths in another. I was 3/4 into this book before realizing how special Pachinko truly is.

Look back:

  • Wins:
    • Soft reset and completed the time-consuming TPM course.
    • Saw more people to expand my world
  • Aspiration:
    • Keep track and manage my time better and find ways to uplift my world
  • Results:
    • In a recent trip to Barnes & Noble (remember those?), I was inspired to pick up the Bullet Journal Method and restarted a Bullet Journal
  • Pivot:
    • None, keep at it

Look Forward:

  • Goal:
    • Improve health by schedule a dentist & physical appointment
  • Action:
    • Research dentist near me that takes my insurance
    • Schedule physical appointment
  • Plan:
    • Do this when I’m bored at my parents 🙃

And that’s about it for the month of August! It’s a bit long (as always), but what do you think of this format? I hope it’s interesting for you to read as it was nice for me to take pause and recap for the month.

And how are you doing? Please reply and let me know! (Hearing from my friends is by far 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.

So let’s talk about race 🏃‍♂️ ✊🏿 🧧

Dear Friend,

Hey there, how’s it going? Last time I mentioned how January felt like month 13 of the year 2020, and now I’m starting to think perhaps 2021 is shaping up to just be part 2 of 2020. This 2020-vibe, can we not?

Anyways, there’s been a lot of talk about the not-just-recent, but ongoing rise of anti-Asian hate crime happening in the US. People are justifiably outraged about these clips shown on air and via social media, about how the victims are all Asians, then about how the victims are all elderly, and inevitably people start noticing the perpetrators are… Black.

Inevitably at some point, someone will point out this fact and start asking why is the media not giving these terrible crime as much attention as the death of George Floyd. Even if they are, why aren’t they mentioning that these perpetrators are all Black? Why are people not showing up for us when we showed up for them. A lot of Us. A lot of Them. Ugh.

I don’t have a PHD on racism, I don’t have the perfect answer, and I’m not immune to any of this. I do, however, have some experiences in another type of race — so let’s talk about that for a moment.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have trained, ran, and finished a marathon in 2007, a half marathon in 2019, and a handful of 5 and 10Ks in-between. And in all of these cases, I don’t actually remember who were the first place runners of these races. I have zero idea. But I still vividly remember the weather on the day of these races, the sound of the cowbells people were cheering us with, and in one particular moment when I “hit a wall” just 3 miles away from the marathon finishing line — my running mate lent me her watch and said “You’ve got this!” right when I was so sure I wasn’t able to finish the race. (And I did.)

Point is, we’ve been taught since birth that there is only one winner in competition, in contests, in lottery drawings, and in life. If you’re not the winner, then by default you’re the loser. It’s so ingrained to us that it’s become our reflex to see everything in life this way. It can’t possibly be Britney ANDChristina, or Cardi AND Nicki — there must only be one.

But I would never think that in a marathon (or half or 10k) race. I wouldn’t not run the marathon just because Usain Bolt is also going to be in the race. While there’s only one “winner” in marathon, the rest of us is what makes the experience special. And in fact, I would argue that while I’m happy for the winner, I’m actually happier and prouder for everyone else for finishing the race. We’ve all endured the months long training to be there, freezing our butts off before the crack of dawn, just to put our bodies through hell in the goal of finishing the race. We cheered and clapped for each other, even though none of us were realistically going to be 1st place winners.

So, back to the headlines. What can we do? What can I do? First it’s important to unravel ourselves away from the sensational, knee-jerk feelings we may have at the moment. Take a breath and separate the justified outrage of the actual crime with any negative feelings we may have with any given communities. If the phrase “us” or “them” were mentioned at all in our bullet train of thoughts, take note of it and let’s actively work on turning a “winner takes all” into a “marathon race” mindset. Here’s my personal process (again, I am not perfect so your mileage may vary):

  1. Yes, these perpetrators in the videos are Black, but they’re not representative of the entire Black community. Thinking or saying something bad about the whole community is the definition of racism. This is a trap and the most important thing to unravel.
  2. Then, be mindful of the cogs that are so ingrained to us. Why are we reacting this way? Why is it so important for anyone to say “the perpetrators are all Black” when the actual hate crime already speak for themselves? (I’m also skeptical that there are no instances of hate crime done by non-Black perpetrators?) Does mentioning it help solve or reduce the series of hate crime? If so, how? (And if the potential solution is to apply that to an entire community, see point #1.)
  3. Also, as humans we instinctively apply our past experiences as learnings as a way to protect our current selves. Take inventory of media portrayal of Black communities and how it affects the way we see our world today. I also grew up in a Black-majority neighborhood and was often bullied as a kid and into high school. To this day, I can still fall into the trap of relating some of my fears, biases, and prejudices with the traumatic experiences I had in the past. But then I sit for a minute and do my best to unravel — these experiences were caused by specific people (again, not groups), many of whom are different today than they were back then. These experiences do not define them just as they do not define who I am today.
  4. Next, unravel from the mindset of ALL / None / Always / Never — because reality usually take place between all and none, and between always and never. It’s easy to think we NEVER get media coverage, or we’re ALWAYS the punchline to a joke, but that’s just as ridiculous to say ALL or NONE of the Black people are [insert blanket statement here]. A quick scroll on social media or Tumblr will also show plenty of outrage and coverage at things happening in Asia — the Hong Kong protest from 2019, the ongoing protests of Burmese civilians and Indian farmers today, and yes the not-just-recent wave of Asian-targeted hate crimes. (It’s finally gaining traction.) 
  5. Finally, fight discrimination with compassion. The Black voters in Georgia single-handedly gave America a fighting chance for a better future. My Black teachers, friends, and mentors who have loved, supported, and cared for me through the years. The never-ending list of art, food, music, culture, and joy Black people have given humanity. Other things that make me smile every time: Bowen Yang and Ego Nwodim. Black Joy. Black K-pop stans.

What it ultimately comes down to is simply that we can win together only by working together. And instead of thinking of us or them, as media and society LOVES to pin things against one another, we should really think of it as a race; we need to actively shift from “we need to win” to “we all need to finish”.

Geez, every time I write these letters I aim to keep it short, only to keep getting increasingly longer. I do think this was important for me to write it all out though, and hopefully it was helpful for you as well. Again I’m not an expert nor am I immune to any of this, and it does take a lot of active work to reflect and unravel these “What if…” and “How about…” thoughts. 

But through these mental exercises I do find myself landing in a lighter place afterwards — please reply let me know if you have thoughts on all this, even and especially if you disagree so we can all learn together. And please feel free to share this newsletter if you think other people can benefit from it! They can also subscribe to this and future newsletters below:

Love wins

How Time Flies (way too fast or not fast enough)!

Dear Friend,

Hey! How’s it going? The first month of the year is quickly moving along but in so many ways it just feels like we’re in month thirteen of 2020. Hopefully things will start improving once we have a more sane (and less criminal) person leading the country once again. Remember how we used to think that was a given?

So I’ve been thinking a lot about time recently. Specifically, I’ve been losing track of just how much time has past, milestone events I thought happened a mere year or two ago but in reality they took place much farther in the past.

It’s quite shocking to realize it’s almost been ten years since my time living in Los Angeles (before moving back around 2014), and a whopping twenty years ago since I studied at RIT.  This May will mark two years of my leaving IGN and working at Walmart. 

It’s no surprised why lately I’ve been feeling so distant from people I’ve always thought was close to me. Time can drift people apart naturally, but sheltering-in-place and the social media mass exodus can only expedite this process. I suppose this will take more work than ever to actively keep meaningful people close during this time and during this stage of my life.

“So what do you want to do in your career?”, now this is a question that has truly haunted me throughout my life. Whether it’s from college counselors or whenever I’ve reached a crossroad in my career, this question has come up time-and-time again and I’ve never been able to answer this question. Instead I’d stutter and would try to weasel my way out of it — I’ve even quit a job because of it! “Since things are moving so fast, what I’d like is to learn more about the different options before coming to a decision on whether a potential change is needed or right for me”… If that’s not the most non-committal, politician-like response you’ve ever heard, well do I have a bridge to sell you. 🙂

That’s not to say my life sucks, of course, far from it. The fact that I’m even asked this question (time and time again) means I’m given different opportunities, and that I am blessed and privileged. Since graduating from RIT, I’ve also icepicked away career options that are blatantly not for me — finance, design, sales — but what still remain is a vast ocean of opportunities.

Thanks to the many team restructures at Walmart from last year alone, I was recently asked with this #%&$ question. Once again I’ve got no answer, but this time around I’m also aware of the resources available to me. Never in my life do I have access to a mentor, life coach, AND a therapist at the same time — a bit ridiculous, actually! I have the privilege, opportunity AND the resources; what I don’t have is an excuse not to finally sort this out.

Lastly, in addition to a monthly status of my life, I also want to start sharing a couple things I came across in the past month with you. I hope you’ll find them helpful? Let me know and more importantly please share anything you find interesting to me as well!

  • My friend Bruce recently wrote an opinion piece on how witnessing the surge in COVID-denialists is eerily similar to the surge in AIDS-denialism during the height of the AIDS crisis.
  • Ian recently got me this cook book called Cool Beans and since then I’ve been really interested to incorporate more beans into my diet as a source of fiber protein.
  • You can find this and any past Dear Friend, emails here.

Please let me know what you’re up to by replying to this email or feel free to forward this email If you think others can benefit from it! (You can also ask them to subscribe directly below!)

Happy Holidays to you and yours! 🎅🏼 ❄️ 🎄

Dear Friend,

I can’t believe another month has passed, as it finally wraps up an overall miserable year of 2020. I also hope this newsletter has made it safely into your mailbox, as apparently they’re been landing in a lot of people’s junk mail folder instead. Sorry about that!

This year has affected so many people in so many ways, myself included. While I always try to find the bright side with every adversity, a lot of time energy were spent this year trying to combat my self-doubts, anxiety, and depression. I recently asked my therapist if I’m just overusing these terms, like I’m relying on them like a security blanket, and he verified that nothing from this year has been normal. “Plus, you’re anxious when you’re anxious!”

Even so, there have been some good amidst the bad. After my slump for a couple months with close to no exercises, my Apple Watch finally nagged me enough to finally into exercising more. I was able to spend time with my parents for much of this year, that is until last month when Ian and I finally moved in together!

Here’s another thing, for the past decade or so I’ve been attending the Great Dicken’s Christmas Fair — a bay area tradition where they turn a massive indoor arena (called Cow Palace) into a Charles Dicken’s stylized London. Fully decorated and filled to the brim with period actors, carol singers, and dancers and play performers, the Dicken’s Fair has always been a great way for us to escape reality for a couple hours. And what better way to set the mood for Christmas than to nom on some meat pies and haggis?

With COVID ravaging the country more than ever, the Dicken’s Fair sadly had to be cancelled this year. But because of that, they are posting a LOT of their amazing performances, recipes, story readings and more on their website for FREE. Check out this page to experiment a sample of the Dicken’s Fair I know and love. You can even shop for some goods and buy merch to support them and other local stores! I hope this page can bring some joy and holiday spirits to you and your loved ones.

Here’s to having a very safe, yet special Christmas and holiday break. Feel free to reply to this email and let me know what you’re up to. Let’s all stay safe and here’s to a much calmer, happier 2021!

Love wins

How was your Thanksgiving? 🦃🍁🥧

Dear Friend,

Hey! How’s it going? I hope you had a very safe, yet special, thanksgiving earlier this week. I spent Thanksgiving Day with my parents, and with a lot of Turkey leftovers Ian and I then spend much of yesterday making traditional sides for Thanksgiving part II!

So earlier in the month around my birthday, my high school friends and I opened up a time capsule we had sealed back in 2010. While I could remember some of the items I had put in — my original iPod touch, a meaningful book, and a copy of that day’s newspaper — I had completely forgotten we had also recorded a number of videos capturing the event, and that we had each written a letter for future, um… present us.

Upon watching the video and after reading the letter had me very sentimental, just to see where I was and the things I thought was important to me back then. It was also just a bit… foreign to see how genuinely excited I was about the future, while fully able to read behind that optimism to see the nervousness that is still so familiar today.

But there’s the thing: 2010 was a full year before working at IGN, a life-changing career where I ended up meeting some of the people I now call my dear friends. It was also half a decade before meeting Ian, who until then the thought of even having a boyfriend was something I always wanted but never truly believed could actually happen to me. As much as that 2010 version of Obama-era Winson had in optimism (something I can’t say I have much of nowadays), he also didn’t have a full decade of life-changing things, people, and experiences that shaped me to who I am today.

So, what I’m trying to say is that even though we’re living in what may seem like the darkest timeline right now, and that the smallest hope we’re holding on to today can look more like a delusion than a possibility, the time capsule was proof to me that things can indeed get better.

As tough as things are in 2020, what with the world literally torn between hurricanes and wildfires, authoritan ideologies and conspiracy theories, all topped with a global pandemic that is COVID-19, we also don’t know what the future can bring us.

Things can always get better or worse whether it’s politics, climate change, or family life, but It’s worth keeping an open mind (and outliving the chaos) to see how the next ten years unfold. Where were you ten years ago and what would you tell yourself in ten years? Feel free to reply to this email and let me know! I look forward to hearing what you’re up to.

Love wins

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