Now at 40; Now we go again 🔄

Dear friend,

Hey, how’s it going?  After spending so much time last month reminiscing (and creating my playlist Forty, where I picked 40 songs to represent my life so far), I thought I’d be ready to reset for my new decade. Then during November came one headwind after another — nothing too severe —  but consistent enough to throw my balance and ambition off course. Still, in one of my runs (or maybe it was a meditation session?) I realized that this is just how life is — like how there is no still weather, life has no permanence. So now that I’m 40; now shall we go again.

🎶 You can check out the entire Forty playlist and a full rundown on what each song mean to me here. 🎶

Here’s what I did this month:

  • 🏃🏻‍♂️ Ran 65.63 miles (average 6.56 miles per run) this month, up from 42.02 in October.
  • 🏋🏻‍♂️ Spent 27 hours (~10k calories burned) in all workout exercises, up from 24 hours (~8k calories burned) in October.
  • 🧘🏻‍♂️ Meditated 21 days (average 24 minutes per session), down from 26 days in October.
  • 📷 Here are some of the photos I took in November (link should be viewable in any browser).

Social Gatherings:

  • 11/5: Breakfast with Homies
  • 11/12: Asian Art Museum with Becky
  • 11/22: SF Day Trip with Parents
  • 11/24: Thanksgiving Dinner with Parents

We’ve all experienced some very dark moments in the past several years that caused us stress and anxiety. And during those times when it had felt just a bit too heavy, or a bit too difficult for me to breathe, I’d try to simplify and go back to the basics: What can I leave behind that no longer serves me? What can I reduce in order to simplify my life?

I’ve been consistently removing things in my life over this past year that no longer serve me. This year I’ve sold my iMac, stopped drinking, quit Twitter (before it was cool), and also Pikmin Bloom (a Pokémon Go type game). I don’t miss any of these things in the slightest.

And then around October it dawned on me on just how drained I’ve been feeling from all these apps and their algorithms… how they are incessantly “recommending” things to me to do, listen, think, and buy. I can’t remember when I wasn’t doomscrolling on Apple News the first thing I wake up, or the last time I fell asleep without mindlessly flipping through YouTube or the IG feed. So last week I decide to rip off the proverbial band-aid and brutally deleted Instagram, Facebook, and even the Apple News app off my phone… and just see what happens in a month. Do I miss them? Oh absolutely! But perhaps I miss having my own thoughts just a tiny bit more.

And along the same line, when I do feel especially anxious I’d find myself returning to some of the same things time and time again: Animal Crossing, Bullet Journal, Writing, and Music. Perhaps on the flip side of removing frivolous things from my life, these are the things that fill me up and keep me at bay. I may not be using them consistently when life goes well, but it’s good to know these things are there for me when times get rough.

In lieu of recommending things I’ve enjoyed in November, and in the spirit of Thanksgiving and in expressing gratitude, I want to share some of the very nice things you’ve written to me from this past year. My laziness and insecurity persistently tries to convince me that these newsletter are perhaps not worth writing, but getting to hear from you (on your life updates, aka not just nice things about me) really gives real meaning to these letters, as well as the special relationship between us.

🍄 I’m so glad you do this monthly newsletter because it reminds me to get in touch!

🍄 As per usual, your letters are thoughtful and well written. I always look forward to getting them!

🍄 So glad to hear from you. Really appreciate these mails and all your positivity 🙂 keep it up Wins

🍄 Your photos are absolutely beautiful, old man.

🍄 Hope you’re well — and your email updates are always a pleasant surprise in my inbox!

🍄 I love reading about what you’re doing, experiencing and going through. It’s so nice to connect and know others are experiencing similar things!

🍄 I love your newsletters.  Keep it up.  Love seeing what a beautiful man you are.

🍄 Proud of you for keeping up with meditation. That’s the beauty of meditation, you come to many realization… of your body, small little things we take for granted, the law of nature and so on.

🍄 Thank you for your beautiful writings.  I wanted to write because I wanted to let you know I feel the same way – YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

🍄 Hi Winson – so nice to hear from you – these monthly missives are wonderful. 

🍄 While i wish i could offer you words of wisdom, i find myself welcoming you to the club. 

🍄 As always, I really enjoy reading these. It gives me such a window into your rollercoaster of a month.

🍄 This one especially resonated with me (regarding a Moment of Zen)

🍄 I appreciate you and these newsletters.  I truly appreciate reading kind, insightful and rational things instead of the news – which has been really stressful…

🍄 This was an absolute joy to read. ❤ 

(Are you feeling the FOMO? Then reply and tell me how you’re doing 😁)

🤔 A Moment of Zen: Close your eyes and recall some of your to-dos and did-do items. Which of these items absolutely drain you and are without purpose — and which of them absolutely fill you up with joy and meaning? The ones that drain you — can you stop doing them or remove them from your life? The ones that fill you up, what do they bring you… and how can you add even more meaning to them?

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. 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

You Can’t Spell SpOoOky without OoO 😱

Dear friend,

Hey, how’s it going? It’s hard to imagine that this is my last month before turning forty 😱! I’ll go more into it next month, but it’s been weighty month to reflect on my life so far. Aside from that, work has been picking up steam as Ian and I are getting ready for what looks to be a tough winter what with the incoming twindemic tripledemic. Honestly, a lot of my colleagues and friends are going through different kinds of flu-like things lately! Please stay safe (and vaccinated), everyone.

Here’s what I did this month:

  • 🏃🏻‍♂️ Ran 42.02 miles (average 4.66 miles per run) this month, down from 43.85 in September.
  • 🏋🏻‍♂️ Spent 23.31 hours (~8k calories burned) in all workout exercises, same as September.
  • 🧘🏻‍♂️ Meditated 26 days (average 22 minutes per session), up from 24 days in September.
  • 📷 Here are some of the photos I took in October (link should be viewable in any browser).

Social Gatherings:

  • 10/15: Brunch with homies
  • 10/29: Breakfast with Chris

As I mentally prepare for the big 4-0, I spent a lot of time this month going on walks and reflecting my current life; in one of these walks I had the idea to create a playlist, featuring forty songs of the most meaningful and representative of my life (so far, I ain’t dead yet!).

🎶 You can check out the entire playlist and a full rundown on what each song mean to me here. 🎶

Speaking of music, it’s really been the one anchor in my life that carries me through the high, mundane, and low points of my life. Coincidentally, a lot of the artists I follow released new music this year, so I thought to highlight a couple of them below (all links are Apple Music):

  • 🍄 Fossora, by Bjork: While Vespertine will always be my favorite album of all time, Bjork has consistently taught and stretched the definition of what music can and should be for me. Her albums over the years had abstract themes ranging everything from the cosmos to mindful transandence, so I just knew it’s going to be another wild ride when she described Fossora as a fungi album. While rarely an easy listen, her music always opens my mind up for lifelessons, emotions, and otherwise musical things I didn’t know I needed, and Fossora is absolutely no different.
  • 🕺 Homosexual, by Darren Hayes: I have felt a connection with Darren Hayes ever since the very first single of Savage Garden’s To the Moon and Back. In that music video I could tell there was a secret in him, as there was in me, years before acceptance and decades even before having the ability to embrace our own identities. I thought Secret Codes and Battleships would be his last — it’s been ten years, afterall. But turns out he had been working on a new album, mostly by himself (!), and this album is just as imperfect and gorgeous as ever.
  • 👬 Profound Memories, by Röyksopp: It all started with a Geico ad where the music was a bit too good to go unnoticed, and before I knew it I’ve been following Röyksopp for two decades. I absolutely loved their last album before their haitus, so color me surprised when they dropped Profound Memories back in April. While that alone would make any fan happy, turns out that was only the beginning — in August they dropped a brand new album as part two, with another part three album come November. From having zero albums to getting three brand new albums in a year — sometimes profound things do happen.
  • 🙆🏻‍♀️ Hold the Girl, by Rina Sawayama: If only she was around when I was growing up! Growing up, I’d have to look across the world and basically switch to the Asian side of my brain to find any type of representation in music. Fast forward to now where it’s simply amazing to see such a talented, British-born Japanese artist to kick ass and changing up the music scene. Even then, she’s so underrated and under-recognized as this album is so well-made and polished that it could easily be mistaken for one of Lady Gaga’s.

▶️ YouTube Sundries:

🤔 A Moment of Zen: As the cells within our bodies continuously die and replenish, some have said we’re an entirely new person every seven years. So take a minute and imagine who you want to become seven years from now. What kind of person do you want to be? Will you be stronger? healthier? wiser? kinder? What are the steps, big or small, that can take you there along the way?

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. 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

Here’s The Thing About Change 🌱

Dear friend,

Hey, how’s it going? This month has been really busy, and along with it came so much tiredness. I now have to commute down to Cupertino three times a week and it’s going… fine. While having in-person meetings is surprisingly helpful, my workdays are sometimes stretched to 10+ hours in addition to the long commute. But as my no-nonsense friend Judy would say, “they’re paying you, so suck it up”!

Here’s what I did this month:

  • 🏃🏻‍♂️ Ran 43.85 miles (average 4.38 miles per run) this month, down from 46.92 in August.
  • 🏋🏻‍♂️ Spent 23 hours (~8.5k calories burned) in all workout exercises, down from 26 hours (~10k calories burned) in August.
  • 🧘🏻‍♂️ Meditated 24 days (average 25 minutes per session), up from 14 days in August.
  • 📷 Here are some of the photos I took in September (link should be viewable in any browser).

Social Gatherings:

  • 9/10: Birthday Party at Livi’s
  • 9/11: Drinks with Shannon and Dreya
  • 9/24: Breakfast with Chris

Whether it be climate change, social injustice, political turmoil, or the COVID-19 pandemic, all of us had spent the past few years living in an “unprecedented times” stuck on repeat. And whenever I’d felt frustrated or helpless, the one advice I would hear repeatedly is to focus on things we have actual change over, while paying more attention to things happening on the local level. This month, I want to specifically highlight some of the podcasts that’s brought me more clarity — ranging from things I can change on my own to the ability to zoom out to things happening on the local and national level.

  • 🙇🏻 You: Hidden Brain (You 2.0 series): While the overall series explores ways our daily lives are surrounded by hidden societal and human behaviors, their You 2.0 series focuses on ways we can actively change ourselves for the better. Whether it’s befriending your inner critic, overcoming stage fright, or becoming more open minded, the You 2.0 series is helpful to understand ourselves better.
  • 🏫 Local: State of the Bay: Today’s headlines often surround things happening on the national and international level, it’s easier than ever to miss things happening right in our backyard. State of the Bay zooms in on local Bay Area issues like homelessness, monkeypox updates, and other things that actually impact our daily lives (not to mention SF introducing new trash can prototypes that cost up to $20k). This show is also produced by KALW, the other public radio station in SF that happens to locate in my old high school.
  • 🇺🇸 National: Throughline: Like I said, there are endless ways to be frustrated by the news these days. And “unprecedented times” aside, Throughline has been helpful in providing me greater context, in that a lot of things we’re facing today had been discussed and argued over in America’s past. Topics like white racism, student loans, fighting inflation, and Socialism in America remind us just how much we can still learn from our past.
  • 🌞 Something Different: Uncuffed: Another way to affect change is to put myself in someone else’s shoes, and Uncuffed is perfect in that it’s a podcast created by people behind bars in California’s San Quentin and Solano prisons. While our lives are so, so different, the desires to be something more is simply universal. Hearing these inmates share stories of fatherhood, gratitude, and even their resilience during the COVID pandemic is heartfelt and humbling. The show recently lost their funding the state had promised, so any donation is helpful.

▶️ YouTube Sundries:

🤔 A Moment of Zen: Think of something you care deeply about. This can be a person, an object, a place, or even a cause. Now take a minute and ponder the things you can do to express your deep care for this thing. Are there specific actions you can do, or can you donate your time/attention/money toward it? How does this thought of applying your contribution toward something you value make you feel?

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. 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

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