Dear Yves

Image result for new york postcard

Dear Yves,

Thank you for the lovely postcards! Look at you gallivanting around the world. What an exciting life! As I write this, I sit from across a souvenir store here in Washington D.C. There is a T-shirt with Trump’s face on it and I’m looking directly at his eyes. I try my best not to shake my head of disgust. Tomorrow is his inauguration as President of the United States of America. What have we done, am I right? I still hope the day would come where I can just erase him and his existence from my memory. But for now, I guess I’ll just swallow all this hate. I believe we’ll get through this. We are, after all, a super generation (despite the older people thinking otherwise). I was thinking, I never really cared for who lived inside the White House. Now I realized that because Obama lived there before, someone who I respected and admired, I didn’t really worry because of the safety and peace of mind his leadership gave me. Now that Trump will be living there, I hate the idea of the White House all of a sudden.

I’m going on a road trip with my family to Louisiana in two months. We’re stopping by Tennessee, and who knows, maybe decide to go to Texas while we’re at it. I don’t know why I feel fearful. I just don’t know what to expect from visiting states that aren’t as blue as New York or Maryland. I’m not prepared for racial encounters. I don’t know how to handle stares if we decide to eat at a restaurant full of only Caucasians. I didn’t really worry much about me as an immigrant before. But now I don’t feel as safe as I used to. Anyway, that’s my life.

I’ll try to send you postcards from Louisiana and smear some gravy on it. I can’t wait to taste original Southern chicken and biscuits. Soul food makes the soul good. 😉 Ciao!


Discard and carry on.


Over the weekend, I bid adieu to some of my things. I cleaned up the mess that is my room. Thanks to my BIG TIDYING PROJECT that I did successfully with the help of Ann Mari Kondo, author of ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up’ and creator of the famous Konmari method of decluttering. The Konmari method starts with discarding things first then sorting them out. Ann Mari’s number one rule in deciding whether to discard something or not is to ask yourself, “Does it spark joy in you“? If after that question, you still find yourself going back and forth, she gave this wonderful tip.

To truly cherish the things that are important to you, you must first discard those that have outlived their purpose.

And so I did. I started with things and by the end of the night, I found myself reflecting on my relationships with people as well. It was necessary to say goodbye to some of them.

  • To my lime-green dress. It was the dress my mom gave me as a gift when she found out I’d be doing an internship in Washington D.C. It was also the dress that caused a scene when I wore it to a “wear a red or green” Christmas party at work. It was green to me! But I got flak for it because everyone said it wasn’t Christmas green. I think I have graduated from using this dress.
  • To my snakeskin printed top. It was my always reliable office top. I had a huge crush on this guy that I see at work. For some reason, on the days that I see him I was always wearing this top and it annoyed me because I didn’t want him to think that this is the only top I own. This memory makes me smile. Now I can let it go.
  • To my bright red cardigan that my godmother gave me last Christmas. Even though I hate its shade of red, I wore it a few more times than I wanted to because I wanted to love it. Every time I wear it, I always hope that my feelings would change. But it never does. I realized that you can’t force love. I had to give it to someone who will love it for what it is.
  • To the hoodie/sweatshirt that my dad gave me last Christmas. I wasn’t too excited receiving it. It wasn’t me at all to wear something like that, but my mom and dad liked it for me and so I pretended I liked it and considered wearing it. One year later, I still haven’t worn it. I realized you can’t force yourself to be someone you are not. It had to go.
  • To my Nike black and pink rubber shoes. My first (and for a time being, the only) rubber shoes I had after moving here in the U.S. I had so many memories with these shoes. I wore it almost everyday for more than a year while I worked as a cashier and waitress at a Japanese-Chinese restaurant. I owe those shoes for taking care of me and supporting me in my most stressful and exhausting days. One time I spilled a container of gyoza sauce on it, I considered retiring them. But I didn’t because I loved wearing them. While I was putting it in the garbage bag, I tried my best not to cry being reminded of everything I’ve gone through with them shoes.
  • To that Nicholas Sparks book that isn’t the best I read of him but I finished. Bye.
  • To Lena Dunham’s book that I tried my best to finish, but I really couldn’t no matter how much I love her. Bye.
  • To those Nylon magazines that I promised to read when I get the time. I have never found the time. Bye.
  • To T, who I’ve known for a month now. He taught me that I shouldn’t be afraid to be honest with guys. That I should lose my fear of rejection. That if they don’t respect what I want, then they don’t deserve me. When I met him the first time I was so head over heels giddy of what I thought I felt for him, that I had a self-transformation. Because of what he made me feel, I realized that I like myself when I’m in love. I want to be that kind of inspired all the time. T and I just didn’t click as I’d hoped. I think this is the end for us. Thank you and goodbye.
  • To R, who I met on a whim. He taught me what magical chemistry and connection felt like. What it felt like to meet someone for the first time yet connect like we have been friends forever. He made me realize that perfect moments exist, but that it doesn’t mean we are perfect for each other. And that’s alright. Some things are better left in the moment and I am happy that we had what we shared. Thank you and goodbye.

As I said goodbye to all those things, I felt as if I have welcomed a new me. It feels great to recognize those things that I actually really need and keep only those that matter.

It felt good letting go of what didn’t serve me anymore and pass them back on to the universe. I felt free and I think I just won my true self back. Discard and carry on.

A good hug

We engaged in a full hug before we parted. It was the most intimate thing. A lot of things & worries have been going on in my head that night and I was more emotional than usual. We weren’t in that stage yet where I was comfortable to be my total emotional self, so I settled for a hug. Some bad days, all we really need is just a good hug. He gave me a good hug.

My eyes were closed as I felt my tears welling up. I tried my best to control my heave as he played with my hair. He didn’t know what was going on with me… but he was always full of warmth. We were silent for a second and that moment felt like I was telling him everything and he listened and understood. We hugged and we understood. “Can I just stay here forever?,” I said as I settled more deeply in his embrace. He laughed. Seriously, I meant it.

It was time to part ways. We were both exhausted that day and it was already midnight. It was a weeknight. As he turned his back on me, I felt okay. He made me feel at ease and I was quite on a haze. That day was a good day. He gave me a good hug.

Call me strong one more time.

Sometimes I get offended when people call me ‘strong’. I know some people mean it as a compliment, but there are those people who say it and assume that there will never be an instance that you would need help. When people put you in the ‘strong’ box, they think you are never weak or that you never cry. Or if you do then you cry metallic tears and some monster will erupt from those tears.

Growing up, I was always the responsible one. As a first-born, I manifest the usual first-born traits. I am independent. I tend to lead more than I follow. Yes, I’m also strong. Because when you grow up to have little brothers and sisters, you get this idea that you have to be a role model to them. You have to show them who’s great, who’s tough so you can inspire them to have those traits. And I think I have carried that on to my present life, “strong” becoming a huge part of my self description.

What people forget is that strong people are human beings too, who have their moments of weakness, hopelessness, and sorrow. Just recently, my younger brother moved to a different state. It’s his first time being secluded at a far away place, away from my parents’ warmth and concern. My mom looked so worried I thought she’d be sick for days. Recounting my memory of when I moved out, I remember my mom not even batting an eyelash. She wasn’t worried then and she told me the reason was, “because I knew you would be alright. That you’d make it.” It hurt a little bit hearing it from her. The little girl inside me says, “I understand, mom, but I want you to at least worry about me.” Because what if this is all just an act? That I’m not as strong as I appear to be and I don’t know how to show it because you all assumed that I would be strong like this. Maybe I have faked to be strong for too long, I thought I’m one.

I would never forget this instance back in high school. We were out late partying and my guy friend volunteered to drive all the girls home. When it was my turn, he felt that it was okay for me to be dropped 8 blocks away from my house just because he knows I can take care of myself. So I walked those 8 blocks pissed, offended, and quite confused. How can I be dismissed like that? Believe me, I still have ill feelings unto this day.

People put you in the ‘strong’ box and they think you are always invincible. Just so you know, we are not. And no one is. So next time you compliment someone with “but you are so strong!” make sure that you don’t say it all the time that you dismiss their human frailty. Strong people hurt too.

Late Night

There are things I wish I could do, like a Eurotrip in spring or deep-diving with ocean species, that keep me up at night, making me wonder if I’d be able to do these when my prime has passed me by.

It worries me that choosing my current life situation was a mistake. That I settled. That I chose a path to stability instead of being reckless, being young, and following my heart’s desire even if that meant cutting ties with the world that I knew and the me that I have always been.

I often think about giving this life up to chase after a dream. To be free, to go after intangibles and uncertainty, for the sake of proving to myself that I could be more. That I have courage to release the prisoner of who I really am. That I am independent of anything and nothing anchors me to a place.

Some days I wonder whether I’m too responsible for my youth. I know I would despise myself if in the future I’d look back to something as monochromatic as my life now. I need to take risks more, make mistakes more, kiss guys more, instead of fearing more and overthinking more.

Late night musings on a blank page… I wish I had the guts to live more, than to sleep more.



September: Morning Beauty Routine

This month’s treasure trove is all about my trusted morning beauty products.

  1. Cleanser: Philosophy’s Purity Made Simple



It’s not that difficult to know about this product because it has a lot of rave reviews especially in the Sephora community. As someone who has problematic skin (I have oily and acne-prone skin), it’s quite difficult to try new products with the risk of breaking out too easily. Clearing a breakout is a curse you don’t want to wish on even your worst enemy. However, because the amount of people who are giving this product five stars is exaggeratedly high, I thought to try it. Fist pump in the air, it worked for me! I use this in the shower. I love that it doesn’t foam but you can actually feel how smooth your face is when you massage it all over your face. It smells like pure, clean nothing, if that makes sense. Just a pea-size amount is enough for the whole face and the smallest bottle can last in six months. It feels amazing after every use. It’s also great to use with a Clarisonic. Face feels clean, but not squeaky to the point that it is drying. It restores the face’s natural moisture, I believe. I love it and I don’t think I’ll change to any other cleanser after having tried this. Get it here. I do have an alternate cleanser for days when I feel like breaking the routine or like my face needs something different and it’s Origins’ Checks and Balances, also a wonderful product! I also use Philosophy Microdelivery Exfoliating Wash twice a week to clean those pores out.

2. Toner: Thayer’s Alcohol-Free Witch Hazel and Aloe Vera Rose Petal Water


One day after a visit to my eyebrow threading lady friend, she massaged something on my face before letting me go, like an after-thread, if you call it that. So when I got home, I noticed that my skin looked exceptionally good — supple, moisturized, and close to zero pores in sight. I couldn’t stop glancing in the mirror (sounds conceited, I know, but this happens rarely). Naturally, I had to find out what it was! Rose petal water, welcome to my life. Because my eyebrow lady had it in an unnamed bottle, I didn’t know if it was homemade with her own concoctions. She didn’t tell me where she got it because she wanted me to buy it from her — like a true Indian businesswoman. Um hello, I am friends with and I don’t think she has something they don’t. They should have something similar at least, I thought. I quickly checked Amazon to find something close to what she has… and boom, Thayer’s is their number one brand that sells rose petal water toner since 1880s… How could I not trust this? The rest is history. I got the same effect that I wanted and didn’t stop using since then. I have even convinced my family and closest friends to use this because it’s life-changing. I’m glad they found it effective, too. It’s alcohol-free so there is no tingling sensation or irritation that regular toners give. Ingredient-wise, it looks all-natural. There are different mixtures, one with lemon, one with lavender, but I use the one with aloe vera because it’s best for redness and I need that. I haven’t tried others yet. After a few recommendations, I found out that it works best with oily skin, so oily skin friends, make this a member of your posse. Get it here.

3. Moisturizer: Clinique’s Dramatically Different Gel


I first tried this as a free sample and what can I say, this product made me a loyal Clinique girl. This line of moisturizer comes in various forms — gel, lotion, and cream. The best one to use depends on your skin type. For oily skin, gel form is the most recommended, so it’s the one I’m using. What’s good about this moisturizer is it is fast-absorbing and super lightweight which you need if you have a long list of products to use over it. It’s definitely a day moisturizer. I wish it had SPF, but we can’t always get what we want, right? But it’s good, cause it only means it concentrates on moisturizing alone. Get it here.

4. Eye Cream: Kiehl’s Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado


This is one of the products I didn’t really think I need. But after much research, I thought of giving in to the pressure to experience the difference of undereye pampering. Using eye creams isn’t a practice only to prevent wrinkles. We need a good eye cream as early as we are in our twenties, simply  to care for that sacred skin under our eyes. Eye skincare is vital and requires a different product because it’s thin and very sensitive. After trying this eye cream from Kiehl’s, it’s noticeable how it rids of eye puffiness. It’s so creamy that you really just need to dab a little amount to see how incredibly moisturized it feels and looks after use. It’s not thick and heavy like other creams. At first, I thought it would be oily, since avocado has a good amount of oil in it. But I was wrong. It didn’t grease at all and it didn’t settle in those corners under the eye that become little bumps. I hate that when it happens. It’s pure moisture and makes the skin around the eyes look plump and healthy. You need to start your undereye pampering movement with this one right here.

5. Sunscreen/Tinted Moisturizer: Clinique’s Super City Block Broad Spectrum SPF 40


I trust Clinique when it comes to skincare. I’m a professed fan of their moisturizers. Their Super City Block with SPF40 is the best tinted moisturizer/sunscreen/primer I have ever used. It glides so smoothly and provides light to medium coverage without feeling heavy on the face. My ultimate goal, really, is to have clear and dewy-looking skin that I wouldn’t need to wear foundation when I leave the house. Super City Block makes it possible, no bullshit. I always get the most compliments on my skin whenever I wear this alone, not underneath any type of foundation. It is truly that amazing. Some people find it such a hassle to add sunscreen to their daily routine (it shouldn’t be, because the perks of sunscreen is life-long, you should know that by now!) but to have this product give you sun protection and a sheer nice glow will make you rethink of your morning ritual. This wonder product is on high demand. Whenever I run out (I’m on my 4th tube right now), Macy’s or Sephora is always out of it. I’m almost ready to put it on auto-refill in my Clinique shopping bag. Get it here. #chosenottolivewithout!

August: Treasure Trove II

Okay, let’s just say that I couldn’t wait for September to rave about new finds and some #chosenottolivewithouts!

  1. Caudalie micellar cleansing water


Those who do not appreciate the magic of micellar water must have not used Caudalie’s, because this thing gets A for Awesome. Micellar water cleansing was a 2015 movement, with the slogan “wash with micellar, not with soap and water”. Some people thought it stupid, but I think it’s effective. I won’t lie. I have more lazy nights than not, so on days when I don’t feel like hitting the washbasin, I put a drop of this on my cotton round and dab away. It does what it says it does — clean the face, remove makeup and dirt and grime your face accumulated the whole day. Expect your skin to feel more moisturized after. It’s not drying at all.  It must be because it’s made with organic grape water, which is like wine for the skin, say you not? I’ve tried other brands like Garnier and Dr. Jart, but Caudalie is truly on a league of its own. I would get me a bottle and get on the micellar train because it’s never too late. #chosenottolivewithout

2. The Whitest Boy Alive’s Dreams album

This band flew under my radar. Their songs were constantly on my playlists and slowly did it just come to my attention that I have a “The Whitest Boy Alive” mood where I just fast forward to their songs, catch feelings, and stay mellow. Very subtly, this album has joined my all-time favorites shelf. Play Fireworks and watch those shoulders shake involuntarily to their music. #chosenottolivewithout

3. Harry Potter and the Sacred Text podcast

harry potter and the sacred text

THIS IS THE BEST FIND I HAD THIS WEEK AND I CANNOT HIGHLIGHT IT ENOUGH. THESE ALL CAPS ARE NOT ENOUGH. This podcast is a true gem and a work of genius. First of all, Vanessa Zoltan and Casper ter Kuile, the hosts of this podcast, don’t their names sound like J.K. Rowling named them and they were prominent wizards some time in Hogwarts history? It’s amazing. Anyway, Vanessa and Casper have such perfect conversational English that I think it’s undeserving for us, mediocre English-speaking miscreants, to rub elbows with them on the streets. They’re British English, so I perfectly understand. One can never get tired of listening to them converse. Okay, so what’s the premise of this podcast? Well, they just break the Harry Potter chapters and read them like sacred text using the process of lectio divina. IT IS A MARVELOUS IDEA. THEY ARE MARVELS. You have to listen because explaining it ruins the magic of the idea. Don’t wait when you’re bored. Listen now because you’re missing out.



Danny McBride, need I say more? HBO comedy rarely misses, in my opinion, so I wasn’t surprised to love Vice Principals. It’s about vice-principals who will do everything in the name of good and evil to be the principal of Lincoln High School. Yep, it’s Mean Girls vice-principal style. It is true what some have said though — if you want to know why, how, and where Trump supporters come from, (No, Donald Trump did not spawn them with Satan in his Donald-Trump-poster-walled basement), this show will you give you an idea.

5. Orale Mexican Kitchen in Downtown Jersey City


(via Adam Y.)

The culprit to my taco-lovin’, taco-dreamin’, taco-waking-me-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night-cravin’. I just fell in love with their tacos. You ever find yourself eyes-closed moaning in the middle of taco bites? I’m getting embarrassed now, but their tacos make me do that. My ultimate fave is their carnitas tacos, fried pork belly yummy goodness. Their guac is the best! And their frozen margs are $5 on a regular day. Even El Chapo would choose not to escape this madness. #chosenottolivewithout

August: Treasure Trove

I was inspired to make a list of my favorite things every month. Here’s my trove to be shared!

  1. Call Your Girlfriend podcast

cyg icon

I’m a podcast freak. I’m always in the search for interesting podcasts to kill the monotony of my daily commute life. Finding Call Your Girlfriend (CYG) was a gift, because I found the perfect Team Women, Team We’re Better Together besties who I want to listen to all the time. They’re like my soulmates in the digital world who I have forever been looking. They talk about period (their newsletter is called The Bleed! How smart!) and politics, diversity, consumerism, books!!!, the Kanye and Tay-tay feud, and everything girlfriend-convo-material. There is nothing not to love about them! So just find them on iTunes.

2. Bite Beauty’s Amuse Bouche in Rhubarb

amuse bouche rhubarb

Bite Beauty is a Canadian lippie brand. They make these amazing-tasting highly-pigmented lipsticks a girl would love. Just stay away from munching on the least-lipstick-friendly food because they stick easily. Amuse Bouche is one of their newest lines and after debating with myself day in and day out over the Sephora website, I got myself a Rhubarb, a rich plum rose shade, because neutral lip is my jam. I’m so happy with this buy because first of all, I did not expect it to taste yummy! Amuse Bouche is made with “fresh pressed grapefruit, lemon, lime, tangelo, mint and mandarin extracts” which is so refreshing. I want to dab them on every minute. Also, the color is 10/10.  I also love Fig (nude rose) and I’m thinking of buying Maple (brick red) next.

3. Madewell Bandana

madewell bandana

It’s summer and I always associate this season with spending time near a body of water with a bandana over wind-swept hair. I realized that I was missing this piece in my wardrobe, so I found this one on Madewell for $12.50 and instantly bought it. It’s awesome because on days that I’m feeling bored of my second-day hair, I just put it on and then it totally changes my mood. I got it in indigo because I think it fits my go-to look of a bad-ass vibe yet still girly-girl.

4. Alice’s Tea Cup in NYC

alice tea

(via Kimberlee V.)

I had a girlfriend date last Friday in their Chapter II location in 156 East 64th St and I fell in love with the daintiness of the place. It’s such a cute nook for pastry and tea lovers. We got The Madhatter which included 3 kinds of scones, 2 sandwiches, 2 pots of tea, and some assorted cookies. Yes, that sounded a lot and it was a never-ending delight! My favorite from this trip was their Indian Chai. It’s “Indian tea, spiced with cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and vanilla”. They served it hot with honey and milk and it was so good I still taste in my mouth. I couldn’t stop gushing about it. It was the right amount of spicy and sweet that I like. We also had an iced Rose White Tea which was fabulous. I will definitely go back just for a pot of tea.

5. Lay’s Wavy Roasted Garlic and Sea Salt

Lays roasted garlic

My co-worker, Ms. Carol, shared this to me the other day and I bought one for myself and finished it in seconds while binge-watching Prison Break. I think it’s one of their newest flavors. Boy, it’s so addictive! I was really on the road to giving up potato chips, but who am I to do so?

Thank you for your presence.


Work has been stressing me out lately. I find myself dealing with a scary kind of stress, the kind that has turned me into a machine. No blood in my veins, no feelings whatsoever. In this condition, I’m glad to be saved by a moment that excites me. An unexpected circumstance that lightens me up and makes me believe that there must be more to life than this constant pressure from work. Like a smile from a bearded stranger. A coincidence of sharing mutual friends. A chance that makes the world stop and makes one say, “Hey, I’m feeling glad.” “Hey, I’m feeling something.” This is what it is to be human. To feel and to hope and to think you are crazy for believing that something greater could be created from a coincidence. So to you, thank you for waking up the human inside me. For being present in that exact place and moment in time. I needed you to be where you are. I needed that shake.

15 Points of Advice for Twenty-Somethings from a fellow Twenty-Something


(a 13-minute read) 

Turning 23 this year has made me feel like I have fully transitioned to being a real and legit adult. I moved out of my parents’ house, got a job in a new city, and have been paying my own bills now. I have seen real world, my friends.

In true yearly fashion, I summarized a list of life lessons I have pondered on especially this past year. This list, if not my new personal commandments, is a reminder of my growth. It is a reminder of my ongoing transformation and a guide on how I can be my best self. Some of these insights are inspired by personalities who I look up to and have been following, but most of them are inspired by my own experiences. I may not have the license to give life advice, but my main goal is to share this list to YOU, my fellow twenty-somethings, who are “figuring it out” just like me. Who knows if it will make sense to you or not? Indulge, anyway. This is my way of simply reminding you that we can be in solidarity in making sense of what we’re going through. Remember that you are not alone and we are all here to help each other.


1. Enjoy spending your money. A lot of the older adults encourage saving a portion of your salary every payday. I understand that and I’m not against it. There are emergencies to be prepared for; health, rent, mortgage, future family fund, or retirement to worry about. But my point is, as a twenty-something who is new to earning one’s own money, I tell you to go ahead and enjoy spending it the way you want to. It is a grand and freeing feeling to be able to work hard and buy things and experiences that you have always wanted for yourself. Eat out, drink out, go shopping, go travel. Buy something you want and don’t feel guilty about it. Enjoy this freedom and this new consuming power you gained. Enjoy it because you can. This is a time of your life where you are not responsible for anyone but yourself. Who knows until when this will last? Who knows if the future exists?

Go and spend for yourself today and take delight in it.

Buy those pair of Chelsea boots that are in your online shopping cart for a month now. Be generous to a friend and treat her to a Zac Efron movie with a large popcorn and a large Coke. I’m not saying don’t save. Save if you can. I’m not saying go lose control. Be in charge of your spending still. What I’m saying is enjoy the money that you worked full time for. Spend your money the way you want to, but stick within your means as well. And also, pay your credit card bills ON TIME. FULL PAYMENT. ALWAYS.

2.  Start practicing good habits daily. Out of all of the points in this list, this is the most difficult for me. I am bad at cultivating habits. Me and discipline, we don’t get along really well and I want to change that, which is why I work so hard on these items on my habit list:

  • Do cardio/yoga for 10 minutes in the morning;
  • Floss teeth;
  • Remove makeup before bed;
  • Write on journal;
  • Pray the moment you wake up.
  • Be at work 10 minutes early.

They might sound simple, but these simple habits we accomplish everyday make our character. Not only that but it makes us healthy — physically, mentally, and spiritually. We need these habits.

3. Find a healthy obsession. These are activities that can serve as your daily constant, a reason to smile, a source of energy, and a good distraction when you need to forget your problems for a while. You need this to reconnect with your insides – your heart, your mind, your soul, your spirit. It could be reading about Marvel comic books, running marathons, baking brownies, watching HGTV shows, or any activity really that makes you positive about life. You pick your sweet escape. My constants right now are watching NBA (I finally got into the sport after years of ignoring it), getting updates on The Bachelor couple Ben and Lauren (This is embarrassing but they are the cutest!), and listening to Rob Bell’s podcasts (He is the best!).

4. Commit to your word. If you say you’ll do THIS, do it. When you say you’re GOING to this event, go at all costs. Don’t say YES if you can’t commit 100%. I hate it when people commit to one thing they say they’re going to do and then flake at the last minute and I’m sure you’d hate it too if it happens to you. Now I understand that life doesn’t always go the way it’s planned. If you made plans with someone and something happens out of the blue that you couldn’t control, then let the other person know at the earliest time possible.

Don’t make a habit of making people wait and making people feel that their time isn’t important. This is Human Courtesy 101.

Be appreciative of people’s time. Be appreciative of people making plans with you. Be a decent human being, so respect and be true to your word.

5. Collect older adult friends and friends of various professions. I used to worry about not having enough friends of my age, but it turns out hanging out with older adults is really cool and valuable. I’ve made a lot of friends who are ten years, twenty years, or even thirty years older than me and a lot of them have proven to be really good life mentors. They show me a fresh way of looking at life. They are also a big help in decision-making because they have more light and wisdom and I can turn to them in really tough situations. You also have to make friends of different professional backgrounds. You can really need a doctor/dentist friend, a friend who has a good grasp on the law, and a friend who is not only good with directions but can also give you really good recipes.

6. Surround yourself with smart people. I think I picked this up from Mark Manson. If you haven’t heard about him, he’s one of the most inspiring writers I’ve ever read. He said that the average IQ of the 5 people you hang out with the most pretty much resembles your IQ. Now go look around you. Do you think you are smart enough? I figured that one way of hanging out with smart people without actually being friends with them is by listening to smart people’s podcasts. I listen to a lot of that lately, and I like to believe these people’s brilliance has started to rub off on me! I recommend You Made It Weird by Pete Holmes. Pete Holmes is such an adorkable comedian who has such an endearing laugh and is my current favorite conversationalist. He invites all of these comics over and they just have a blast talking about weird existential stuff. It’s highly entertaining. On faith and spirituality, Rob Bell is definitely a must-listen. He is a Christian pastor who sheds so much light and wisdom on faith and the Bible in his Robcasts. I cannot reiterate how much of a big fan of him I am. Another favorite smart “friend” of mine is Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, who is such an inspiration to me and my creativity. She is the reason why I had the courage and energy to finish and publish this list. I feel like I know her personally just with how much impact she had on my soul, even though I just know her from reading her books and listening to her interviews. Her book Big Magic is the bomb diggity. I can’t believe that all of these people I just mentioned hang out in the same circle. If only they know how they’d make me the happiest human if we all hang out someday. Dream on!

7. Go on dates and explore yourself. Looking back, my last relationship was from 9 years ago. I never dated or engaged in any serious relationship since then. You might think it’s a little sad, but honestly I don’t feel like I missed out on anything. I had the best group of friends in college that I didn’t feel I needed a boyfriend. I’m also the type who wants my next to be my last so that mindset has really put so much pressure to me meeting people. Anyway, fast forward to last year, I came at a point when I felt ready to see and meet people. When you feel ready, you just do. I didn’t have to force myself when I had that urge. I felt the spirit pushing me to do it. So I made a dating profile (it isn’t that bad of an idea), met a number of guys, and had really interesting experiences.

I began to see clearly the characteristics that I want in MY person. More importantly, I found out weaknesses in my personality that I really needed to work on.

I may not be in a relationship as of the moment, because the challenge lives on, but I got something I needed from dating. I got to know first-hand how it is to be meeting people for the sake of trying a relationship. I figured that there was nothing to be scared about because these people are the same as I am who just want to know who is out there or how it is out there. I know it’s scary to meet new people with a certain level of expectation and a growing list of dating no-nos (believe me, there are so many unspoken rules to modern dating and we’d navigate that in another post), but you have to be out there to find out what you’re looking for. If you believe in sticking with one person for the rest of your life, you have to be willing to put the effort and energy to find the cream of the crop. I think people are most afraid of opening up themselves early on and finding out that it isn’t going to work. But how would you know if it’s going to work or not if you don’t risk it?

As my favorite relationship expert Tracy McMillan says, “When you dare to risk something in love, it always pays off. You don’t necessarily get the relationship, but you always get more of you.” Bam shabam! Go on dates and do it for you. And be safe!

8. On procrastination: If it’s a task you can do in two minutes or under, do it now. (Mark Manson) I love this insight because it works. It has minimized my procrastination by tenfold! Whenever I’m faced with a task like washing the dishes after dinner, I ask myself “Can I do this in two minutes? Yes? Okay, I’ll do it now”. The reality is, we have so many tasks we delay to do. We leave them undone until they grow bigger and uglier and everything becomes an urgent task at some point. That’s where stress comes in and we’d rather not entertain that. Don’t even begin with me with stress on doing laundry.

9.  On creative life: Don’t be lazy. Don’t be a perfectionist. (Elizabeth Gilbert) Laziness and perfectionism is the worst combo one can have at the same time and these two have haunted me since. Whenever I think about writing especially, uncountable times I choke up because I know I couldn’t write perfect. I have all these ideas in my head but I couldn’t seem to put it in writing because I don’t have the tools to be perfect and I feel that I have no right to create something if it’s not going to be perfect. And then I lose all enthusiasm to write so I come up with a dozen reasons not to do it. There are times when I find the courage to write but in the middle of it I’d feel that it’s not turning out the way I want to so I choose not to finish it. I get excited for new ideas and end up cowering to perfectionism. It’s such an exhausting process. Liz Gilbert inspired me to think that creation doesn’t have to be perfect. We are not gods, and our inspiration is a gift.

Our ideas are gifts so if it comes to us we have to manifest it. If we don’t, it finds someone else who is not lazy, not a perfectionist, someone who will not choke up, who can and will share it to the world.

When it finds somebody else, then we miss out on what could have been ours. We may not be perfect, but we can work really hard to be good at it and that matters. So tell yourself to start creating. The rest is just excuses.

10.  Do not be your own bully. What a great follow-up to Number 9! I am guilty of this to this day and I’m still working on this myself. You know how a lot of times you think about creating something, doing something new, but because of fear you do not act on it? I have a lot of fear, doubts, and insecurities like the normal person, and most of the time it is the cause of my ruin. Let’s admit it, we are usually the cause of our ruins. We think we’re not smart enough, not pretty enough, not talented enough. We think we are never enough. We scream it from the pits of our stomachs over and over every single time we are about to take off on an adventure and this is our biggest problem. (It is mine.) It’s the overthinking, being too much inside our heads, that hinder us from growing and being our greatest version of ourselves. So listen to me, don’t be your own bully. Take it easy and don’t be mean to yourself.

11. Pick your path. I always tell people, I have an attention span of a goldfish. Today, I want to be a cookie-baking sweater-sewing housewife. Tomorrow, I want to be the president of the United States. I have so many things I want to do that take up all my concentration. Different wants and desires for different moods and different days, and that’s the main reason why we need to settle first. We have to work at something while we’re figuring it all out. You have to pick one. If you’re always shifting, you’ll never build a solid foundation on which you build yourself. Focus on one thing, stick with it, work hard on it, be the best at it. It’s okay to settle for now. You may not want what you have, but it might be one that you need. Whatever it is you are doing right now might be a preparation for something greater that’s coming next. Now if you think that picking one means ending all your other dreams, you are wrong. You can do them all, but not all at the same time. You have to pick one path. Build on it then diversify later.

12. Love where you’re at. It has been three years since my big move to the U.S. and I admit that I hated America at first. I hated everything about it because I couldn’t accept my current situation in life when I first met it. Then one day I just had a breakthrough in my feelings for America. This country has fed me, clothed me, taught me to be strong, independent, and to speak when I don’t agree to something. This country taught me to free my mind and be confident about myself. It helped me grow and now I am in a love affair with it. We might not have a perfect relationship, but we help each other out when we can. Love your country. Love your street and the people in it. Love your city that no matter how much people love to hate on it, you treat it nicely as it does you. I love Jersey City. I love New York City. I love Maryland outside DC.

Love your current situation. You may be dating someone and you feel that you’re not THERE YET emotionally or physically. That’s okay, love where you’re at and trust your process. You may not be financially capable to buy a house or a car yet. That’s okay. Appreciate your current status. Things take time. To get to a destination, there is a journey. Embrace this journey.

13. Never let a day go by without laughing even a little. This is the ultimate life secret that I think is under-appreciated by many. My day isn’t complete without laughing about something and I think it makes life bearable. It must be my favorite activity in the planet, aside from eating. You have to learn to laugh.

Have funny conversations with people. Laugh at the weirdest and simplest things. If you can’t find something funny outside, find it in you. Do something stupid that you would laugh at.

I always laugh at myself. One particular time, I went to rush inside an elevator and the door almost closed on me. My body’s response was this awkward karate pose with my hands and a left side kick. Thank God there was no one around to see. I thought it so funny that to this day it flashes in my mind and I still laugh about it. And that’s just one of a thousand moments that I get to laugh at. Fill your mind with funny things. It’s your choice to make your life amusing, so make it.

14. When you want to turn a bad day around, change your perspective. Perspective changes everything. Whenever I find something to hate about my job and my mood is cloudy gray and I feel like I’m in a rut, I zoom out and realize,

“Hey, I’m still breathing. I can afford food for this week. I have a bed to sleep on tonight. I have an able body. My family is safe. My mind is capable of this kind of thinking. These are reasons to be happy.”

Suddenly, my mindset takes a 360 degree turn. I relax. Now if it’s an extremely bad day, it’s okay to revel in the badness of it. Feel and embrace the pain, because it’s all part of the human experience. But in all other cases, sometimes we just need to take a breath, step away from what’s making us feel bad, and come back with a fresh perspective. We might be just making a big deal of things that would make us feel better if we let it go.

15. Learn to accept grace. (Rob Bell) Last but not the least, one of the best things I’ve learned from the great Rob Bell is that: It’s not a matter of ’if you deserve good things in your life’ or not, but that all of these are gifts and we have to learn to accept them. When someone compliments you, say thank you. Appreciate it when others show you appreciation. When you have lots of free time, don’t feel guilt for being unproductive all day. You don’t have to ’produce’ all the time. Be grateful for the free time that made you slow down and appreciate the peace of life. Accept this grace and practice gratefulness. Learn that despite all your shortcomings, faults, weaknesses, doubts, and insecurities, you are alive.

To be alive is beautiful and to be alive is a miracle. You get to see beautiful things. You get to enjoy food. You get to laugh. You get to love. Every breath is a miracle and we have this life to be thankful for.

Once you accept this grace, share it. Share the grace, the love, the hope, and the happiness.