Happy March! (2020) Good news

Ok, it’s technically March 2nd now, but I intended this for the first day of March.

Good news- last Tuesday, my Upenn visit actually had improved results!  Barium swallow went ok although it was unpleasant, and then my pfts went up! to 60%!  I think I was wary of being too excited about it like I was last time, because the fact that the doctors don’t know why it goes up or down is really scary.  It could so easily drop again, so I don’t want to celebrate too soon, but I think finally this week it’s starting to kick in and I’m starting to allow myself to dream again and envision a future I want.  The doctors think it could be a combination of anything they threw at me, including a possible delayed effect of the steroids back in December, or the additional medication they tacked on, and the fact that I was exercising more diligently.

Honestly, even though it would be great if pfts went up more, I don’t want to be greedy, and I’ll let myself be satisfied as long as the pfts are maintained over 50%.

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I’ve had this recurring dream that even though I already earned my high school diploma, I keep being stuck and for some reason, because I have no other options, I am repeating the same year of school over and over again, even though my age keeps going up.  It’s a bit of a nightmare in its ordinariness, but I always feel unhappy in the dream, sitting in class listening to some teacher in the background, until I come to the realization that I don’t need to be there, and I don’t need to ace the upcoming test, because I’ve already graduated.

—–

I also have this other thought that kind of concerns me a bit.  I wonder if reversed, if I had a friend like me with the kind of complicated, invisible condition, if I could put up with it.  The little things like letting them have the bed because they have terrible sleep and desperately need every ounce of energy, or being willing to pay more to accompany them in an Uber as opposed to the subway, or getting the weights for her so she can save the actual little bit of energy for lifting rather than carrying the weights back and forth.  All my close friends have done this for me, and I always felt like a terrible burden.  I also realize that I’ve always been a very impatient person.  I was restrained by my health, but now that I am more free, I’m not sure if I could really stand being so patient after being forced into patience my whole life.


I’m also gaining more weight than I’d like.  For some reason, I don’t know if it’s my diet necessarily, or my steroids or what, but the weight gain is bothering me a bit.  I went from 113 to 117 when I weighed in this past Tuesday, and then then next day hit 118, the heaviest I’d ever been.  But the following day, dropped to 115.  Now I’m actively dieting and working out more again because I’d really like to hit 113 by the end of this week, at least.

My ideal weight is 105-110.  I’m pretty sure I can do it, because I know what I have to do.  Last time I lost the steroid weight by eating oatmeal and a banana or boiled egg every breakfast, and just cutting out more sugar.  I don’t like having a weird turkey neck and puffy cheeks, and having a muffintop so that I can’t even properly bend down to pick things up…


The other day, I passed by the vehicle registration center… and I was planning to go in to register myself as a donor.  But then for some reason, last minute I swerved and continued straight.  I’m not sure why I did that, what was I scared of?  I guess I didn’t want to confront the possibility of death so soon, even if it was only a possibility.  But I know it’s what I want to do, but it’s still a scary thought to think about.

Productivity and Savoring

I’ve had a solid good week.  Been feeling pretty good lately.  It’s a combination of I’ve been making conscious choices to keep busy and stay productive, to make the most use of all the energy I have now, and my parents are also in a good mood.  The weather’s been pretty perfect lately, in that 70s range, so I get to go out on walks.  Last weekend, my brother came home and we went to a farm and also hiked.  The day before that, we walked at Duke Island Park, and both days averaged around 2.5 miles, so I felt pretty accomplished as I’d been trying to hit 2 miles for awhile.  The next goal is to stay at 2.5 miles more consistently, and to eventually hit 3 miles, then a 3k marathon.  I’ve been busy grocery shopping, cooking, hanging with friends, spending quality time with my parents and my dog, enjoying the weather, and today, I was pretty productive and proud of myself.

My parents finally went to Sojo Spa, which I was happy about since I was worried they would just never use the gift certificate I got my mom for her birthday last year, and that it would be too cold soon for them to go.  Thankfully, Sojo told me their certificates don’t expire.  What made me happier was that my parents thoroughly seemed to enjoy their time there relaxing in the saunas and spas, and also the beautiful view on the Hudson River.  They also enjoy the food I cook and the things I buy from the grocery stores, and that makes me feel happy to feel useful and to be able to contribute more now that I can afford to health-wise.

I have categories that I have to pay attention to, such as my nutrition and exercise, finances, social/fun activities, and goals towards my career.  I’ve been feeling pretty good in the nutrition and exercise category, although I could do better.  I seem to have hit 104.8 lb today, even though I mostly ate fruit and veggies and chicken noodle soup.  I’m trying to taper off all the sweets I splurged on since I could eat sugar again without being diabetic.  I would be happy at a 101-102 lb range, and also because the steroids I’m on have fluid retention in my cheeks, neck/jawline, back of neck and stomach.  I feel slightly unattractive, but I know there is potential to get stronger and change those things, so I feel hopeful and motivated to be more in control of my diet and exercise now.  The only thing I think I am suffering most in now is finances, but it’s not like I’m living in poverty.  I just need to stay on task for the skills I need to build up in order to eventually get a job next year.  There is a lot I can learn independently these days with the internet and all the free resources.  I can’t wait for the first trip I can take with a friend next year too!!  Been planning out a ton of itineraries lately and bucket list.  It’s so exciting.

I’ve been savoring many moments lately, appreciating every hot shower I take, appreciating that I can wash dishes even after I cook because I now have the energy to, and being grateful that my parents worked hard their whole lives to save up so we could live in a beautiful house with a nice deck, plants, and a big backyard.  It has become more and more apparent to me just how blessed I am, that every single thing I own and have is not anything I “naturally” have a right to.

I started watching the new season of Terrace House, and I really enjoy it so far.  There is something really zen and relaxing about this show.  I also have been making an effort to study and read up on some coding for at least an hour each day.  Today, I spent about 2 hours practicing Op. 10 by Chopin, a piece I’d always wanted to know how to play by heart, and also playing with Moonchi.  I also spent some time reading “The Chinese in America” by Iris Chang, a book I’d borrowed from the library for a few months now and never truly got around to.  It’s very interesting, although not necessarily a relaxing or fun read, it’s very informative.

How to Take Control: The Parallels in Piano and Chronic Illness

As an INFJ, I am often more prone to thinking with my heart than my brain.  Oftentimes, my emotions overran calm logic, but as I’ve grown older, I’ve aimed to create an equal balance between the two in order to lessen anxiety.

Even though I had a difficult piano professor in college, I did learn some really important lessons that I applied to other aspects of my life.

One of the major things she taught me was that I was in control.  The piano doesn’t play you, you play the piano.  Often times, I would attempt to let my fingers fly across the keys, in my younger years depending heavily on muscle memory.  I learned as I grew older that developing a method of 100% precision is not possible with just muscle memory- while useful, the mind is prone to blanking out, especially when overwhelmed onstage with a thousand eyes on you. The only way to ensure no memory fumbles is not to rely on the memory.  Instead, you must perfect control over the keys, and that means studying each note, individually, as each finger plays one and expectantly lands on the next, not just through muscle, but through mind.  In conclusion, sometimes “winging it” is not the right plan – sometimes, you just gotta prepare as much as possible in as many concrete ways as possible.

When you focus your practicing, you are also wasting precious time and efforts if you are playing a piece from beginning to end over and over again aimlessly, with no conscious intention on what particular segment needs to be fixed, or breaking it down by specificities:  what is the greatest technical pattern to practice in this section?  What is the tricky fingering in the left hand here, and do the dynamics between the first and second contrast each other well?  You practice intention as much as the physical action itself, which means you can greatly improve performing your piece by listening to 10 different artists’ recordings and interpretations, studying the pages away from the keyboard.  Basically, exercising intent and logic is just as important as processing your emotions and feelings.  

So that’s what I’ve been applying to in terms of the management of my chronic illness.  Both onstage and offstage, I am susceptible to bouts of anxiety and panic attacks.  There are factors both in your control and out of your control, and the most you can do is prepare to the best of your ability what is in your control, the rest is out of your hands.  What have I taken control over?  I guess I feel the culmination of all my work leading up to this point right now.  I’ve felt overrun to a pulp by all the insurance crap because there are so many complicated pieces to it and it’s confusing af.  I’ve felt completely overwhelmed by the whole decision making on my quality of life, the goals I want to achieve and the health problems that are obstructing my way to those goals being achieved.

As a feeler, I don’t really have much problem talking about my problems and connecting to others emotionally and empathetically.  I actually may have too many feelings for my reservoir for feelings, so the first step in this journey was to control that to the best I could, which led me to a concrete plan of:

  1. Therapy – I have anti-anxiety medication which has helped tremendously despite my hesitation to take it. It has maximized my productivity to tackle shitty feelings when shitty things occur along with boring, complex adult things like insurance, and more emotional control so that I can put more energy into more motivation and focus on completing tasks that are rarely fun or exciting, but necessary.
  2. Education – I have spent a lot of time to inform myself as much as possible on whatever the problem is.  When you have a greater understanding of things, you have a better grasp on things, and therefore will lead to less anxiety.  I have poured hours into reading up on lung transplants, statistics, and asking questions on the internet and to my transplant team, who I trust very much, with my life (literally).  Just like organizing and breaking down a piece of music to conquer it, I have taken time to reflect on mini goals and research.  What are the risks, what is the medical process, recovery time, what can I expect in the beginning, middle, and end?  What are the finances in terms of insurance coverage, who is my support team, and what are medical opinions on how I’m doing?
  3. Non-Medical Goals – social life, family and friends, other goals like work/career, travels, relationships, personal habits and new skills to learn, what are my priorities and how do I break down the steps to achieving them, one day at a time?  What are my passions, what is my mission in life, how do I want to impact the world?

While playing with heart and passion is always an important factor to your success as a musician, conveying emotion also requires technique and technical methods to break it down efficiently.  So here I am, trying to meditate a bit and bring in some calm, and today I completed some insurance tasks.  To give an idea, here are some of the things I did today:

I liaison between my dad’s company adviser, my dad, and my therapist, the insurance company, and my physicians to produce a letter and other documents proving that I should stay on my dad’s insurance plan after the age of 26;

I called my insurance company’s behavioral health department to confirm the steps to receiving teletherapy care with my therapist;

I sent in a request to the insurance company to update my PCP for a new card;

I reorganized my list of medications and verified their approved pick-up dates with the pharmacy, also re-ordering one of them.

I proceeded to watch Hasan Minhaj’s correspondence dinner on Youtube, began reading a new book (“The Bonesetter’s Daughter” by Amy Tan), did my daily 15 minutes of Korean, spent some time chatting with my best friend, and am now going to clean out my bag and organize everything.

The greater process requires equal parts to yield optimal results.

Be your own fucking boss.  Get in control.  Even if often times, it doesn’t feel like it.

 

 

Nov. 11, 2018 Sunday night: The Leaves are almost Gone

I’ve been joking about having a quarter life crisis since I was 20, but I guess 25 is the “official” quarter-life crisis legitimacy age, assuming 100 is the year we would live to on average.  I just Googled it, the average U.S. age lives to a lifespan of 79 years old, apparently a whole four years longer than it was about 30 years ago.

Weather and Season:

For some reason, it seems like fall condensed in the past week- the landscapes exploded into colors of orange, yellow, and red, soon swept to dead leaves in the wind, and finally left the trees in our yard 90% barren.  We went from 70 degrees two weeks ago to 40s this week, with bouts of rainfall scattered throughout the days.

Career: 

On Friday, it was not a fun day.  I was not feeling it, with the dark skies and rain, and I was tired from driving down to Princeton for a UX/UI lecture the night before (more on that later).  The new list I was working on was also more complex and annoying – there were more factors to consider and change in the system, and none of it was as efficient and straightforward as it should be.  I have a vague idea of the role I took on at this job, but I feel like more than anything, I was hired to research and figure out all the arbitrary conditions in this process without having been properly trained.  Someone from another department messaged me, asking me to look into something I had done two months ago to an account.  For comparison, I work through about 2000-3000 accounts per week on average, and when someone messages me on something, I get anxiety on having to understand and defend myself clearly and promptly.  I needed to understand more of the background and relationship of what other departments do and how the system functions, in order to be able to defend myself on what I had apparently done and what they were looking at.  My quick research led me to believe that I had made an error, and an email was immediately sent out informing others that I had made a mistake.  After help from my co-worker, I realized that I had not been wrong in the update I made, and I therefore attempted to explain to my boss why the change had been made.  It’s just a crappy feeling, not being sure if you did make the mistake stupidly, or it was some operational error you didn’t even have clarity on.  I had apologized many times so far, but out the handful times I had been messaged on my errors, I really believe most of them were due to some of the natural margin of errors that happen when you do a lot of manual work in large amounts of data, and also due to some result I was given that nobody had a concrete idea on how to handle.  There was only one time that it was 100% a huge stupid mistake I clearly made.  None of my bosses have yelled at me or anything, but it’s this pressure I feel where I want to work hard and I really dislike having anyone accuse me of mistakes.  I’m still having doubts about my value and my worth.  I’ve learned that it’s important not to apologize, and to always do your best to find out what happened before believing it when someone tells you you made an error.

  • The UX/UI event:  I had heard about this since the last meetup I attended back in the summer, and didn’t think much about it since.  But then I got an email notification and realized that the topic was one I was quite interested in, which includes user accessibility, something that involves improvement for disabled people as well.  The user experience should prioritize that demographic as well, so I definitely enjoyed the lecture, which was given by Elizabeth Churchill, the head of the UX/UI team at Google.  It was the first time I’d been in this building, which was the one right in front of the Princeton fountain.  The auditorium I was in looked similar to the one broadcasted at the UN, and I immediately sat next to a student who had a #builtbygirls sticker on her laptop.  I talked to her, and realized that there were obviously many Princeton students as well attending, and it was hard not to feel a bit intimidated since I was suddenly aware of the high amount of intellect in this room.  I enjoyed how the speaker broke down the way they researched things at Google, and I definitely agree that a smooth interface is all the difference in whether someone wants to download an app.
  • I’ve been researching more online about what courses and topics I could learn more about and be more exposed to.  I also have been reading up a lot on job requirements, particularly those in my town.  I feel more certain now on the skills I want to target acquiring at my current job, especially those that are transferable.  I need to remind myself when I feel anxious and insecure at my job, that it takes time to pick up on all the nuances of responsibilities, and that even if I lose this job, it’s not the end of the world, and I’m sure I am better off now than I was a year ago regardless.  I can only try my best.

Health:  I shuffled my Tuesday work schedule two hours later to stop by the SSI office with my dad to figure out what’s going on with the status of my benefits.  It always gives me anxiety to go, because one time we had this really mean Indian lady who treated me like a criminal who was taking advantage and lying to her.  I put aside two hours for the trip, but thankfully, we talked to one of the front desk ladies and resolved our questions in about 20ish minutes, with probably a 20 minute wait.  I left with a pamphlet of information and more clear instructions on how to report my wages, and then realized I could head into work at 11am instead of 12pm.  I also ended up going to a deli to talk more with a new guy at work, he’s an interesting character.  I also have to figure out some insurance claims I made, and sometimes when I think too hard into things it can be overwhelming. But I’m okay for now.

The good thing is I’ve done so much research, and have a list of notes on what to further look into and learn about now.  At least I have a sense of direction on what to gain more experience on.  Bloomberg Business magazine is also really informative on world news and trends, so most of my weekend was spent between watching The Americans and reading and researching.

Adulting

Hm… so I still feel like I’m behind on a lot of things, like understanding how taxes work and what the right kind of skin ritual I should be doing at night.  But I do feel like I’ve come a long way since college.  To be frank, in the past two years I finally wrapped my head not only around therapy, but accepting that I could use medication to help with the crazy amount of depression and anxiety I had been struggling with.  I felt like I was mentally drowning so much of my life that it almost made me accept that this was the norm, and that either everyone else around me felt the same and was just handling it much better, or that I was very different and there was something wrong with me.

I still feel emotions of course- sometimes I get a bit down or upset, sometimes when I focus on my health and how different my life could’ve been if I hadn’t gotten ill, where I could’ve been.  But it’s nowhere near how I used to feel- hopeless, trapped under this giant heavy cloud that was drowning me of any ambition and motivation.  It’s therapeutic to write on here for how much of my mind is reflecting on the “negative” aspects of my life, which don’t play out too well with everyday conversation and interactions with people.

That said, adulting.  I used to feel completely naked and vulnerable whenever I had to ask someone for help, like talking to professors for understanding and assistance in my grades and absences that go hand in hand with chronic illness.  I used to feel my whole day ruined when I forced myself to trek short of breath anywhere:  to class, to the mall, just because I wanted so desperately to act as normal as I looked on the outside.  It was too much to accept how severe my health was, and that it would always be this way until it got worse.


I’m worried about getting ill and losing my job, it can make me panic to realize that my youth is leaving and my chances at a youthful life are slipping away, and even worse that these struggles will never leave- I have to simply adjust my perspectives.

But for now, I still have my job, I’m still learning to speak up about my health and reasonable accommodations for it without feeling ashamed or acting like a victim, and that so many things are out of my hands.

This week, my parents left for Taiwan.  I hope they’re having a lot of fun and enjoying their 60s.  That said, it does make things a bit harder for me, such as expending a more limited expectation on the mundane chores I have to take care of everyday- cleaning up after my dog, cooking, washing dishes.  But it’s nice being alone, so that I don’t have to talk to anybody, and I can do things at my own pace without judgment.  I rest when I have to, and give a bit of energy here and there to manage it all.  I’m trying to eat up all the food left in the fridge by myself before it all goes bad, so I’m stuffing myself with two bananas a day, eating perishable foods even though they might not be my cup of tea.

I went to UPenn Tuesday, and my lung doctor said the antibiotics appear to be working and the inflamed white lining around the hole in my lungs seems to be thinning out comparing it from April to August, which is great.  I do realize now that I’m getting closer to my usual baseline how it was definitely worse last year.  When I took deep breaths, the ceiling of my breaths were lower, so I got short of breath more severely and quickly, and as a consequence, I got more fatigued and uncomfortably short of breath/dizzy.

I was annoyed by this person who was administering my breathing tests, and he was super cheerful and when he opened up my patient charts, he was all “omg, I can’t believe you have severe COPD?? No way, you don’t look sick at all.”  I wasn’t going to say anything, but it really irks me when I get that.  So a couple seconds later, I told him “I mean, you can’t see lungs on the outside, can you?”  And he said that’s true.  He tried to make amends by saying that some people spiritually seem really low and defeated and carry it with their aura, and that I don’t. So I guess that was a slightly nicer spin.  Having these comments said to me always fed me imposter syndrome and made me feel like I was playing a special card to ask for help, because it seemed like rarely did someone believe me when I asked for help.  It’s really frustrating.

My friend from college came to visit me Friday evening, I really appreciate when friends make an effort to stay in touch with me, even if the time we see each other has stretched to a year apart.  I saw my neighbor/best friend briefly so she could help me eat some food in my fridge Saturday, then she encouraged me to go to the gym before it got even colder Sunday, so I did.  After I returned, I was again thankful that she gently pushed me to go while it was relatively nice outside (60’s).  And now, today is Sunday.  It’s cold, my nose is cold even with my sweater and socks, so I just start to feel lethargic and want to bundle up in a blanket and not move at all.  I’ve managed to be sort of productive though, and have made headway on cleaning up the bathroom and my dad’s room, and then eventually will put away my summer clothes in my room.  I’m throwing away my old pill bottles, making lunch, going to clean up the dishes soon, and then will go back up to finish cleaning and taking a shower.

My dad’s room is full of random things and it’s all over the place at the moment, which is ironic because he’s the cleanest in our house and regularly vacuums the entire house  down.  I know he’s been super busy and overworked lately, so I think now that I have energy to recharge this weekend, I am able to go and organize some of it.  My mom cleaned her room and my room before she left, so it’s nice because I am pretty crappy at folding the bed, and that takes more energy than other things.

I’m also busy cleaning up my dog’s poop, which is like 3x a day but feels so much more frequent.  When I have to raise my body in any sense vertically, like bending down to pick up her poop, I notice that it affects my heart rate much more than other movement.

Anyway, that’s all for now.

Food for Thought (Literally)

Throughout the years, I’ve been exposed to a lot of things I’ve grown to care about and follow closely.  I used to live in my own bubble, and my life mostly consisted of my parents, my piano, my books, and the internet, most of which I used to casually stalk other people on facebook, and watch korean dramas.  During my high school years was when I started to pay attention to movies and film music and start a notebook.  But it wasn’t until college that I ventured out of my bubble,  became friends with gay people, started reading up on news and politics, and discovered through experience how wrong it was to assume people thought, felt, or processed things the same way I did.  I made friends, drifted apart from friends, and learned how it was normal for shitty things to happen, but that it was still important regardless to retain my empathy and sensitivity in a healthy amount. I’m proud that I’ve decreased my level of ignorance, even though I’m sure there are still tons of things out there I’m not aware of.

And now it’s come to the chapter of post-graduation life.  In the three years since college, I’ve continued to grow by becoming more aware of myself as a person as well as building on my understanding of different issues globally.

  1.  I’ve struggled with my one-foot-in-one-foot-out stance on Christianity
  2.  One of my passions have become following the representation of Asian-Americans across the spectrum of different things, particularly media (shout-out to BTS and Awkwafina in particular this week!)
  3. I’m really disappointed in the Kavanaugh-Ford result this week, and find it harder to have faith in our government in general.  I also need to read up on what the current election situation is.
  4.  I’m now a partial-vegetarian:  I’ve been such for about 2-3 months now. I consciously avoid beef/cow and pig/pork now.  I don’t buy it, and if there were other food options I would choose the alternate food option.  The only time I still eat it is if for example, my mom made pork soup and it’s already been prepared, or if I’m at a friend’s house and it’s rude to refuse.  The reason being, from a moral perspective I’m not sure I could kill a cow or pig unless I had no choice, especially being aware that a pig is smarter than a dog, and dogs are so wonderful and intuitive.  I think I’d be okay killing a chicken or seafood though, so I still eat those.  I also understand why people consume meat, but the food should be treated with respect.  My mom used to lecture me on starving kids in Africa and never to waste food.  It gave me a lot of pressure especially since I had eating problems as a kid, but as an adult, I fully understand what she was getting at.  From my perspective, eat it if you want, but don’t just eat a bite and throw it away nonchalantly.  This is particularly for meat, because an animal did have to be sacrificed for you to fill your stomach.  And because the meat industry is so industrialized, we don’t think about this when we purchase a slab of steak at the supermarket.  That’s really upsetting to me.
  5. Related, but Americans in particular are so wasteful, and our environment is in danger.  We’re all conscious now about global warming and entire ecosystems being tainted with pollution, and polar bears drowning or starving because of us.  I know the problems are so convoluted and big that I can’t change things alone, but I’d like to rid myself of the guilt of adding to the problems.  So some changes I’ve made are to always use my refillable water bottle, and I haven’t touched a plastic bottle in the past 3 months or so.  I’ve been nagging my parents to do the same, which is ironic since my mom used to be the one to nag us.  It’s really easy to grab a plastic water bottle on the go, but in my opinion, those are there for exceptions, such as emergencies, or for a guest in need.  You don’t need a plastic bottle to use at home.  I also have been trying to put leftovers in containers so we use less plastic wrap.  We have a semi-compost situation where we throw our rotted vegetables and egg shells in a separate bin.  My next step is to buy a refillable bubble tea container, or at least a silicone or glass straw.
  6. I need to organize my clothes and Marie Kondo the old clothes that do nothing for me.
  7. Some mistakes have happened at work this past week, but not even knowing if those mistakes came from me or something else made me realize I needed to have a talk with my boss about receiving additional training.  I needed to understand from a holistic perspective about the company, and he wholeheartedly agreed and supported my thoughts.  My co-workers encouraged me to stand up for myself and have that discussion, so I feel grateful and proud of myself for again, venturing out of my comfort zone.

I guess life consists a lot about making choices that you’re comfortable with.  I can’t keep focusing on upsetting thoughts like where my potential life could be at if I wasn’t held back by my illness.  Even though there are an infinite amount of things happening around me that are terrible, I feel a bit better in the knowledge that I am trying my best to do my part to make a difference, even if it’s just a tiny bit.  At least I can live with myself, knowing I have no regrets, that I don’t have guilt in my hypocrisy, and that I continue to push through, admit to my mistakes and grow.  That’s what’s most important to me these days.

Spiraling Down Confessions

The other day, I spoke very freely about my therapist and some of the medications I’m on, and I was speaking to a couple friends that I consider myself close with.  Then they casually mentioned their therapist, and it caught me by surprise because all this time, I had never heard them mention it before.  But then again, neither had I.  And the thought occurred to me that it was the mental health stigma that keeps us all wary, even if subconsciously.  I know I always fear being judged even by friends when I do decide to mention it, because I don’t want anyone to think I’m insane or I have some issues they don’t want to be a part of. In college, I had some really deep talks with people I’m not even friends with anymore- you’d be surprised how many people confess to you in private that they are struggling and attend therapy, or feel they need it.

But why do we fear judgment so deeply?  Therapists are wonderful listeners, and they always help me talk out my problems and find the light at the end of the tunnel, after figuring out first what kind of tunnel it is.  Literally anyone could use a therapist, even if they’re doing relatively okay.  That freedom of having someone who is solely there as an objective source to help sort out the mess your mind is in itself priceless.  Especially some dudes, who are worried they don’t seem “macho” if they admit they have emotions and personal issues.  Which one is harder, acting like you don’t have a problem, or talking about it?  Then maybe consider growing a pair, or rather, shrinking your pair so you can become a woman, because women are probably much stronger in that regard.  How do you expect to improve if you can’t even admit the problem exists?

What I wish to work on, is freeing myself of the fear of judgment by others.  How nice would it be to honestly not care?  For me, I go through this constant cycle where I’m sort of okay, to just discontent and dissatisfied, to full out emo, to pretending I do not actually exist and tuning out to become as much of a vegetable as possible.  Struggling with depression ain’t easy.  Just yesterday, I had said one of my goals was to try to be less jealous of others, and have less pity parties.  But literally today, was one of those days where you wake up in a half charged mode in fighting spirit, and every accomplishment or fun experience someone else near you is having feels like a straight up diss to your face, as it was a reminder and reflection of how unswimmingly your own life is going.

I go through these modes where one incident triggers my depression, and then the following incidents, which could literally be anything, build on that, and I start to slip and spiral downwards into a deep, dark hole.   What is the point of doing anything?  People don’t care.  People are terrible.  People suck.  Life feels empty and meaningless.  We all die at the end anyway.  I’m unhappy- how do I make myself unhappy?  What is the solution here?  A lot of it ends up just being strengthening your mindset and ability to overcome.  But every so often, when these triggers happen, I start to think “fuck, not again.”  I’m so tired of being so tired, and sick of being sick, and repeating, rewinding my mood.

Why is it so hard to be happy?  How do I learn to own myself by sharing and being open about my life?  I’m worried nobody wants to be burdened, nobody wants to listen.  I wish I could just think, “Please, I honor you with my presence and my words” but what I’m thinking is “Please don’t judge me.  Please stay.”

 

Merry Christmas (Gratitude) 2017

So I’ve noticed that even though my blog is a personal place to spill out all my thoughts and feelings and emotions, as a result it has also reflected a lot of the dark moments and worries that pass through my head.  Today’s post is about taking it back to what the whole point was of starting this whole blog, which was the intention of focusing on happiness and the journey to it- which brings up gratitude, a neighbor of happiness.

  1.  The obvious basic:  The obvious basic things I have to appreciate living in a developed country is that I am never starving, always have food to go for when I’m hungry, and that I always have a roof over my head with a comfy room.  All my loved friends and family are still alive, especially my parents, who do so much for me.  They support me through my illness, support me financially in terms of living expenses and anything else I need, like paying for medication, picking up my medication, and dropping it off for me right away.  They bought me my laptop and my android phone in the recent years. I get to keep myself clean and well-groomed with hot showers and baths which are especially useful when I feel low.
  2.  The materialistic:  Even though yes, studies show that experiences and meaningful relationships matter a lot in relativity to happiness, the second thing I have to list in terms of gratitude is more materialistic.  I don’t desperately need anything (besides my health lol), but there were a couple things I had on my wish list, and I honestly didn’t expect to seriously get any of those things this year.  However, I got most of them, either gifted by yours truly (to self lol), or by friends and family.  First off, my first pair of Adidas Ultraboost!  (Stella McCartney in clay red) in size 4.5, on sale and notified to me by one of my friends.  I was given a pair of red Beats headphones by generous friends who claimed they didn’t have any use for it.  Third off, this Nordstrom leather jacket I’d been pining after for about two years- it was finally on sale during Black Friday and I saved over $100, although it was still quite pricey.  I bought myself all the Yesstyle products I had in my favorites just as an impulse buy, and these included a Gudetama make up sponge, a cover up mask, a Shu Uemura eyelash curler, charcoal toothpaste, etc.  #Treatyoself I also received A+ class chocolate and the most amazing German mug ever from my childhood best friends.  This mug was my favorite at my neighbor’s house because it’s thin, tiny, and curves outward, which makes pouring and drinking so much easier and funner!  26036991_10156088952223960_1789629163_o I also received more gifts surprisingly.  My two friends bought me a portable white noise sound machine and a wine red laptop sleeve I’d been wanting to protect my Mac with! These were on my wish list, and I honestly did not even remember sharing the list.  My mom’s friend also dropped off a LADY M crepe cake!! Holy moly, those cost $90, I looked it up.  So excited to eat it.  Also, I still have my college secret santa gift to look forward to.  But finally, most precious of all, is that my parents came home last week WITH A PUPPY!!!  My mom fell in love with a schnoodle who is heterochromatic.  She looks like a hybrid between a dragon, bat, rabbit, and alpaca.  Her name is Moonchie and she is a feisty one ^_^25990644_10156088957248960_1147577110_n
  3. Miscellaneous:  We’re going on a Disney trip soon, and even though there are many things to be worried about, the bottom line is I’ll finally get to try butter beer and see The Wizarding World of Harry Potter omg.  I also feel like I have somewhat of a grip on what my goals are, and I’ve outlined them for each day.  Just a lot of self-improvement, self-exploration, even as I’m stuck at home.  Learn to focus on acceptance of self, being less jealous of others, staying hungry and mindful of said goals.  Trying to make the best of it with my time and opportunities to quietly work on SQL, R, Python, and also this International Humanitarian Law course I found on Coursera.  Datacamp is also this wonderful source I found.  I want to work in data science or analytics!  There’s so much to learn, but I actually find it pretty fun to solve each example.  I also borrowed some books to read at home that will hopefully give me some fictional fun as well as knowledge.  In terms of other issues I’m passionate about, Asian representation is actually existing a tiny bit more these days.  Mindy Kaling and Awkwafina are both cast in Ocean’s 8, Jay Park got recruited into Rocnation, and BTS is making waves in the music industry by performing at the AMAs and collabing with other huge artists!

I have so much.  Even though most of the time I can’t seem to be able to make myself look at the positives, right now I feel as satisfied and full as the feeling you get after you stuff yourself with a huge meal + dessert.  Preferably pumpkin pie a la mode.  Or Lady M OHOHO.

 

Wake Up Call: Steps to Motivation

  1.  What I realize is that it’s important to acknowledge what’s not okay, it is therapeutic to take a break and treat yoself, vent your frustrations (to the right people), and then-
  2. If possible, meditate and focus on what’s still solid and good in your life.  And finally-
  3. Also if possible, work on motivating yourself, and-*
  4. (If possible lol), work on improving yourself.

*The Step 3 is important because motivating yourself, whether that means forcing your ass out of bed, giving yourself a pep talk, finding someone else to encourage you, is definitely a step all on its own, but people tend to skip it.  Without Step 3, Step 4 is nearly twice as difficult.

In application to today, my frustrations:

  1.  That hospitals are as susceptible to fuck ups as any other organization or business, except it’s people’s health and lives at stake.  Today, I was almost given an arterial blood gas test when it wasn’t ordered for today- some problems with printing or administration reasons.  Good thing I made them double check.  All the more vital to be aware of your own shit.  Treat yoself:  I spent quality time with my friend, took a moment to be proud that even on a comparably grumpy day, I was productive, and then of course, bubble tea.
  2. The positive:  I have a select few great friends who are willing to help support me and my burdens in this tough journey.  Today, I vented my frustrations, and my friend listened patiently, but also helped guide me gently with her advice, which is always so precious and useful and calming to me.  Secondly, I came home to my mom telling me she got into a car accident, and after initial shock, for a few seconds I tuned out her voice, just being fully aware that she is still in one piece, in front of me, and that I still have a mother.  No one was injured.  Thank God.  I am lucky and still have so much to be grateful for.
  3. Dragging my ass to to Upenn again made me want to complain incessantly, but writing on here is my way of motivation and clearing my head.  I want to keep working with the mindset that if I were to die tomorrow, what is the legacy I have left behind?  Have I made a positive difference in anyone’s life, and have I contributed usefully to this earth while I was on it?
  4. The rest is obvious, in that my friend was proud of me that I have been slowly, but surely so diligent in achieving my goals of studying and eventually obtaining my Google Analytics Certificate.  This is one goal that I will not let go as it is totally doable and there is no excuse for me not to have it.  The rest is being able to forgive my friend, even if it takes a lot of time, something I was and am having a hard time being able to do, because there was a loss of trust and loyalty, and that is everything to me.

#chroniclesofthechronic

 

Thoughts n Questions to Ponder

  1.  What are the main differences between pity, sympathy, and empathy?  Are there two different levels of empathy?  A.  Having gone through the same, or very similar experience where you understand deeply B.  Can understand as explained to you, as you willingly strive to seek out understanding of another’s experiences
  2. What determines what is art and what is not?  Is it enough that it makes one feel an emotion, or an opinion?    What about if something is crudely done in controversy? Perhaps this is how famous celebrities (Kim K, Andy Warhol, Trump, the Pepsi commercial) garner publicity knowingly and manipulatively
  3. Everything in life mainly revolves around the goal of Efficiency, which will lead to Effectiveness.  Example: Why Marie Kondo’s book on tidying and organizing became a bestseller as we have so much waste and crap in our houses.  It is how I learned to memorize my music with intent and away from the piano, more intensely in less time, but more mentally draining regardless.  Creative design should also focus on minimize waste, energy, time.  Should the same concept be applied for empathy?
    1. Things that are wasteful but shouldn’t be… 40% groceries wasted away in the average American household- why??
    2. Taco Bell sauce packets
    3. Throwing away or not having anywhere to place reusable teabags…

What are my strengths and current goals? Curiosity, focus, and intense determination

  1.  Korean / Spanish language, teaching Mandarin to my friend daily and weekly
  2.  Coding for Python
  3. Looking into animation (create short) practicing piano again and writing music (create a great piece)
  4. Empathy, Pondering, Philosophy
  5. Creating greater efficiency in waste, energy, time
    1. Re-organize lifestyle and bedroom
    2. Establish regime – wake up before 12pm, sleep at 2am, take morning/bedtime calcium supplements.  Stretches, drink 37oz liquids, work out, floss, mouthwash, skincare, haircare.
    3. “Is what I’m doing beneficial to me in the long run? Am I learning something right now productive?” –>  TEDtalks, cooking recipes (next up, ba wan), Lynda tutorials
    4. Be better at planning events
    5. Minimize sound pollution, food waste
    6. Develop photography portfolio so I can develop photoshop photos
  6. Passions:  women’s rights, Asian American rights, Disability rights –> how to save energy
    1. Suitcase with wheels/ moving chair
    2. Accessibility (ex:  more elevators in the city, better “wheelchairs”)
    3. How do we increase efficiency in obtaining empathy in each other in a simple, direct manner that makes sense?  –>  perspective of woman translating well for men.  Struggles of Asian Americans and immigrants, their story to become understanding or more relatable.
      1. Watch movies:  50/50 on reality of illnesses, The Godfather on moral dilemmas, Master of None on feminism, immigrants, ageism, hook up culture, racism, etc.
  7. Me:   Sound of heels clicking cleanly across the floor with a slight echo, rustling of a turning page, old smell of sheets of paper, fresh cut grass, moisturizing lip balms, Lupicia cookie tea and chocolate strawberry tea, slicing cucumbers, sizzling oil, matcha bubble tea, onigiri, ramen, glistening sashimi, glutinous gelatinous ba wan, emotional energy channeling through fingertips into keys, deep breaths, whirling thoughts, racing heartbeat, derp.