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

I got a job at Apple! 

Dear Friend,

I’m fully aware how cheesy it is to want to work for a trillion+ dollar company. But before there was the iPad, iPhone, or even iPod, there was my very first Mac — a Blueberry iMac G3. I still remember that fateful day when my friend Tommy helped me unboxing it after school. I was so, so excited but neither of us could even locate the power button! And once we found it, we then spent another hour troubleshooting why the iMac kept crashing upon booting up (turned out it needed to update to OS 8.5.1). Anyways.

I’ve wanted to work at Apple ever since that day, and for so long it has only ever been a dream. I’ve lost counts of how many actual dreams I had about working there, and even more so how many times I’ve applied at Apple. The journey of these applications (and the hopes or dreams attached to them) would end the second I hit submit — into the void they went. It’s honestly more like lottery to me than anything else, but as my aunt once told me, “You’d need a ticket if you want to win the lottery.” Until a recruiter reached out to me one random morning…

My first day at Apple!

What’s actually more interesting to me now is to reflect on the chain of unexpected moments and people that had prepped me for a job opportunity like this. Honestly. If Tobin did not hire me at Research Now despite my lack of work experience in the US, I would not be able to find my footing and know my way around Salesforce. Then if Rick did not hire me at IGN to end my 10-month unemployment gap, I wouldn’t have learned how to put out fires across teams and realize “oh shit, there’s an actual role title for what I do and it’s called… a Program Manager?”

And lastly, If Chad did not hire me at Walmart, he wouldn’t have thrown truly random things at me to sort out (literally on day one right after new hire orientation) so I could meet everyone in the early days of WMG (now Walmart Connect) and to gain their trust. And if he didn’t know about my prior experience with Salesforce, one of those random things wouldn’t have been to work with Kenny — someone who (still scares the daylights out of me) gave me the space to grow and learn how to pull SQL queries, design Salesforce processes, Product Management, and eventually be able to talk the talk with Engineers as a TPM.

I don’t want to imply that this road’s been easy or straightforward. In between these milestones were full of tough moments where the best option was to cut my teeth and lean into the grit, in order to outlive the fires and learn to hope in hopeless times. It’s also true that this road hasn’t been all bad — through these thorny moments were very patient people who gave me space to grow and adapt. I’m lucky, and I’m humbled by their faith in me at times when I don’t necessarily have that in myself.

Looking back, there hasn’t been a job I felt qualified for on day one, and the imposter syndrome for this one is still running high. Just like I did when I started at Walmart, IGN, Research Now, Hallmark, hell even at being an RA back in college — an experience I truly believed was life-changing.

Times are so tough right now, but if a depressed, gay kid who grew up from one of the poorest neighborhoods in SF could dream and somehow stumble his way toward it years later… then maybe there is still room for us to dream today, knowing that Life may take us into a better tomorrow.

Love Wins

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