Living Gamefully

Hello again.

This post is dedicated to the people who feel lost, confused and struggle to find meaning out of something. I’m sure all my fellow twenty-somethings (and other somethings) out there can relate to this.

I recently started reading SuperBetter:  A Revolutionary Approach to Getting Stronger, Happier, Braver, and More Resilient on my commute rides to and fro work. If you’re more familiar with my earlier posts – one of my goals is to fill the ample commute time with reading. I randomly stumbled upon this book in the library and was drawn from the author’s experience of suffering a severe concussion and trying to find the motivation to continue living. The author – Jane McGonigal shares this traumatic experience that led her bedridden while mentally and physically not being able to do things that she once could. One day she realizes that she can either end her life or challenge herself as if she was a character in a game to approach tasks skillfully. She chose the latter. Inspired from her game researching past, setting up her life like a game gave her the invigoration of living again.

For example, she mentions the importance of  “power ups”. Similar to video games, power ups are things you can do to give you the motivated boost of feeling better. Let’s say I have trouble getting up in the morning, a power up can be making a cup of matcha green tea to help me get my day going. McGonigal also sets up a series of quests, which are exercises the readers must do in order to practice the “Super Better” game in life. It’s been really fun doing the series of challenges and feeling some sort of accomplishment. Here are some key takeaways from the book I’d like to share with you:

  • Cultivate new powers of recovery and resilience in everyday life simply by adopting a more “gameful” mindset
  • Being gameful means channeling the psychological strengths we experience when playing video games – such as creativity, optimism, courage and determination to real-world goals
  • Your ability to control your attention, and therefore your thoughts and feelings
  • Your power to turn anyone into a potential ally, and to strengthen your existing relationships
  • Your natural capacity to motivate yourself and supercharge your heroic qualities, like compassion, willpower and determination

The next time you are stuck in a funk, remember to challenge yourself and try to approach a challenge like a game you are motivated to win. It will be rewarding.

 

 

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What I’ve Been Loving

It’s Sunday night and the weekend is wrapping up. I feel like as I’m getting older, I treasure my weekends more. I like to fill them up with activities that are fulfilling and make me happy.

Here are a couple of discoveries I’ve been into lately:

Podcasts

I am OBSESSED with these. Living in New York City, I’ve been gravitating towards listening to podcasts on my iPhone rather than listening to music. It’s convenient and keeps my mind going when I’m commuting on the subway, especially when I’m standing up in the train. There is something humanizing listening to someone’s voice and talk about something that is of interest to them. It may possibly be hearing the variant tones in a person’s voice that really brings a story to life in comparison to reading a book.

I can go on and possibly create a separate blog post of specific podcasts I listen to, but the one I listen religiously to is Chris Gethard’s Beautiful Stories from Anonymous People. The whole premise of the podcast is the comedian host – Chris Gethard opens the phone line to an anonymous caller for an hour and he can’t hang up first – no matter what. What makes this podcast so great is that I’ve listened to a variety of callers share shocking confessions, family secrets to philosophical discussions. Literally anything can happen on this show and not knowing the trajectory of the conversation makes it fun and intriguing. There have definitely been times when I have sympathized with the callers or laughed along to something witty Gethard has mentioned to relate to the caller. Gethard is an awesome host with humility and knowing that he resides in Queens (aka the best borough) makes him even more likable. To check it out yourself, tune in for free here: Beautiful Stories from Anonymous People

Modern Love Section from the New York Times

I must admit, even though I am subscribed to the weekend New York Times, I sometimes find myself not reading every nook and cranny of the papers. However – I never skip the Sunday paper for the Modern Love section. This is my absolutely favorite. What I love about this section is reading from real people and their unique story of love. Sometimes the stories are sweet and tender, sometimes it’s foreign to me. That’s what makes this section so great – it’s like listening to a dear friend open up about something so vulnerable and accepting their loving truth. One that pulled on my heart string is a dying wife’s creation of her husband’s profile on dating sites. Knowing that her husband deserves to fall in love again even when she will no longer be on this earth, moves me. It really opened up my mind in the ways people express unconditional love and how to move forward knowing nothing is permanent. Here is the article: You May Want to Marry My Husband. Reading the Modern Love section has expanded my mind and heart to the trials and tribulations of love.

Peter Pan Donut & Pastry Shop

Who doesn’t love a good doughnut? This is my favorite doughnut shop of all time. Located in Greenpoint, Brooklyn – this place has old-school charm and great taste. The doughnuts are affordable and taste so fresh. My personal favorites are the Blueberry Buttermilk & Sour Cream doughnuts. I know what you’re thinking, sour cream? They don’t taste like actual sour cream, but the consistency is just divine. Oh – and their apple strudels are to die for. Pick one or a couple for the weekend, and cash only.

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Instagram

Instagram is definitely a social media outlet I tend to browse the most. And here a couple of people I’ve been following:

Natalie @_skinbloom – I am lucky to actually be IRL friends with Natalie who has an instagram page dedicated to all things skin care and beauty. She is sweet, honest and pure. Her posts are not only aesthetically pleasing to look at, but she gives great and detailed reviews. I rely on her to give me the dish on what works and what doesn’t work for skin. Whenever she posts something I am always curious to read what she’s been loving because she is beautiful inside and out.

My Modern Met – All things art, design and photography. I love to browse this page for all things imaginative and creative. Often times, they have artists take over the insta page and post their art. I learn so much from the different techniques and styles.

Kiko Mizuhara – I’ve been a fan of her since college. American born, but raised in Japan – this lady is a force in modeling and acting in Asia. She has been crossing over – recently starring in The Weeknd’s new music video (!!!) Her unique style and quirky personality makes her extremely charming and endearing. A quick browse on her page – she has fun fashion, great music tastes and exploratory travel pictures.

These are a couple of things I’ve been loving – would be curious to know what you’ve been into. Always looking forward to discover new things 🙂

Setting Goals

Hello and happy new year! I know it’s been a while since I’ve written a post, but a lot has happened since then. In fact, I’ve been having a writer’s block. Every so often, it would cross my mind that I would have to update my blog, but I wasn’t sure what to write about. I apologize, but I’m back on the grind! Better late than never.

With the new year, it naturally crossed my mind on the idea of goals. I’ve only recently been interested in being responsible on setting goals for myself. In the past, I wasn’t so disciplined in making sure I hit those goals. But I definitely think it’s healthy and gives you something to strive for in this life. And that makes life more interesting and satisfying!

Before I get into what my personal goals are, I recently read this article about how people gain motivation in their lives. That’s when I came across Notes from the Universe. Essentially, when you sign up you receive automated emails written by “The Universe” personalized with your name and your goals and aspirations. You receive encouraging emails that lifts you up and makes you feel inspired. Personally, I believe in the power of words. It gives me strength and clarity. Especially since I’m connected to my phone, whenever I read the emails it’s like a little pep talk to help you get through your good and bad days. Here’s a sample email of what I received: “It’s quite the paradox, Pearly, but the more one pushes themselves into areas of discomfort – gently, just a bit, from time to time – the more comfortable they become. And vice versa.” Short, simple and straight to the point. This leads me to my next point. Goals should intimidate you a little bit, because you’re willing to go the extra mile to achieve something you haven’t before. In the past, this intimidated me in pursuing my goals because they seemed so grand and impossible to achieve. My goals have been created with the thought that they are intimidating, but not impossible to achieve if I put the extra effort.

Here are my goals for 2017:

  • Work out at least twice a week: preferably a weekday and weekend. And no excuses on missing a day, I have to make it up. So far it’s been successful for me.
  • Participate in another 5K. This will remind me that my workouts are not for nothing.
  • Grab a driver’s license book from the DMV and study it.
  • Take & pass the permit test. I’m in my 20s, people get this done in their teenage years.
  • Travel internationally or nationally- get out of NYC and remind myself that the world is huge and look at things with a different perspective.
  • Use my job’s health insurance and set up a yearly check up. I want to make sure everything is functionally internally.
  • Write more.
  • Be more calm and patient when communicating with family.
  • Mentor someone younger than me (or who has less experience than me) who has reached out to me.
  • Read more books. I’m currently reading Mastery, and I’ll let you know my thoughts after I’m done!
  • In relation to the above, but read more when I’m commuting. If I happen to snag a seat, I force myself to read because I am in a more comfortable position to read rather than when I’m holding onto a pole.
  • Read the newspaper on weekends.
  • Improve a relationship outside of my own discipline at work.
  • Give more hugs and say thank you to friends and family when we meet up.
  • When feeling anxious or nervous, smile more. Gently.
  • Practice standing up straighter and improving overall posture.
  • Reduce the urge to check social media and replace with something more productive.
  • Speak with more conviction.
  • Say yes to things that I know will develop me, but I’m too intimidated to do.

The above is quite lengthy, but I am determined to check them off the list by the end of 2017. These goals may change and adapt, but for now I intend to achieve them. I may even write about it, as a end of the year reflection.

I would love to hear what your goals are and what you are doing to achieve them in the comments below!

 

How to Navigate Life with Introversion

What exactly is introversion?

According to Psychology Today, “Introverts are drained by social encounters and energized by solitary, often creative pursuits.” This is a huge defining  attribute for myself and even though it may seem like there aren’t many out there, surely I can’t be the only person that can fully relate with that quote.

How did I know I was an introvert? I always knew, but never put a word to it until later on in life. One of my earliest and fondest memory is thinking of creative stories of imagining how to navigate space as an astronaut by myself in my room, while Mom was cooking lunch. When I look back, I was perfectly fine being left alone. In fact, I felt my absolute best when I was doing solitary activities. My brain feels lazer sharp when I do. In school, I absolutely loved English class, especially when we were given time to just write. Whenever there was an assignment for a creative writing essay, my heart lept. I was hyper focused to write the best story in my room. The process of gathering information and envisioning how the story was going to play out was thrilling. When I read books, I would stay in my room hours end and my other home was my local library. The library is my dream environment to be in. Quiet and filled with stacks of books about every topic I could ever be curious about.

Of course, as life goes on, I started realizing that not everyone finds their energy alone. In fact, the opposite of Introverts are Extroverts and these are people who are energized by social encounters and settings.

Growing up as an introvert posed many challenges. For one, when it came to classroom participation, my classmates shouted and thought out loud a million miles per minute. I preferred to quietly reflect on the question the teacher posed and formed my own opinion afterwards. Socially when it came to hanging out, friends would want to hang out everyday, while the prospect of that overwhelmed me. I felt helpless sometimes because I felt like I was living in an extrovert world.

But as time passed on, I learned a few things to adjust accordingly and set my own boundaries as an introvert. And the following has allowed me to thrive:

1. Plan ahead

I find this my number one tactic when I try to navigate my everyday tasks while satisfying my introvert needs. For example, when a friend wants to hang out in a big group setting, I give myself an appropriate time to accept the hangout so I can prepare my schedule to focus on the big social event. This way, I can satisfy the desire of hanging out with my friend and also giving myself a limit of when I can step out of the big social event. 

2. Act it out

I was terrible at networking for jobs. Simply put, I suck at small talk when I don’t feel inclined or interested in the topic. The prospect of networking in my college’s gym filled with hundreds of recruiters shook me. But, I prepped myself by envisioning myself in being the most outgoing person I could be. In fact, I would pretend I was playing a sociable character and it helped so much in communicating with other people. Obviously, I had my real intentions, but I just presented myself 50x more talkative and open to meeting a lot of people. It’s a fun challenge to bring to yourself because you know if you flub in a social situation, you can not be so hard on yourself because in the end you were playing out your most “social character”.

3. One on ones

I’m personally a fan of one on one hangouts because I can direct my total focus on spending time with that one person. Often times, this is when I can let my true personality shine and that creates more genuine friendships, which my friends have learned to love. If you have a great friend, they will often understand or adapt to a hangout that the both of you can enjoy. 

3. Be Kind

I find that whenever I feel anxious about my introvert tendencies, I try to be really respectful about declining a social invite or situation. This is more of an internal check with myself that everything will be okay because kindness goes so far. I usually thank the person for inviting me or thinking to invite me, and let them know gently. I find that when you do let a person know of your situation kindly, they often won’t berate you about it. 

4. Create time to pursue your solitary activity

When I find that I’m not feeling like myself or drained from a social activity, I carve some alone time to do whatever I want. Whether that is reading a book, writing, or watching a YouTube video. Sometimes when I feel overwhelmed at work from all the noise and side conversations at my table, I take a mini break whether it be walking outside or going to the bathroom alone to collect my thoughts and take deep breaths. Just temporarily stepping away from all the noise helps in recharging my energy. 

5. Surround yourself with other introverts!

Yay, power to the introverts! It’s always encouraging to be with other people who behave in the same way as you, because it creates a normalcy within that group. And there’s never an awkward silence but rather a comforting peace. 

I hope this post helps other like minded introverts out there. Know that feeling and being your ultimate best truly matters.

Brooklyn Color Run 2016 and Thoughts on Fitness

Hello!

I know it’s been a while since I’ve written a post. I’m doing well, and I hope you are too!

When I started this blog, I had the intention of developing myself, learning from the process and sharing any insights that could help anyone out there. This included working out regularly. To preface, I haven’t always been an active person. My family isn’t active as well and this has been influential in the way I viewed or lacked focus on fitness and health.

When I graduated college, it’s as though my mind made room for new concentrations to focus on. Goodbye essays and late night cramming sessions, hello to overall feelings on feeling strong and fit. I’m a firm believer in the little things all add up. I started out with a plan to simply join a gym. This was major because I set out the path for myself to dedicate to utilizing this resource that I saved some of my earnings on. I also set a goal of working out at least once a week. For people out there, that may seem too small of a goal. But this is coming from someone who never took the time to work out. This was a big step for me and was meaningful to me to approach.

My workouts started out with some cardio: running on the treadmill, bicycling and using a stairlift. At first, I was exhausted in merely 10 minutes. But as I became consistent and dedicated to this cardio regime, my body was thanking me for challenging itself to become healthier and stronger.

Once I laid down a good workout foundation, I thought it’d be great to run my first 5K. I was waiting for the subway and saw an advertisement for the color run. I thought that this was a fun and approachable way to tackle on my goal of running a mini marathon. I instantly signed up.

 

I started off my labor day weekend at the color run and it was one of the best decisions I’ve made. It felt great to know all the training I’ve done prepared me for this moment. The day was colorful and eventful. A lot of families, friends, couples came together in their colorful workout outfits. It made me feel happy and unified to be a part of this crowd. It also helped that people of all shapes and sizes were in attendance. It wasn’t intimidating at all! There were also food and beverage vendors that were touting healthy and nutritious snacks. I was hooked!

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When it came to race time, I forgot my headphones at home and was feeling anxious running my 5K without music. I’ve never done that before. However, through that challenge, I was able to focus on the silence and put my mind to motivate myself throughout the race. I was my inner cheerleader. I was in the moment and felt deep gratitude and appreciation for my body carrying me throughout this race. The comfort of my sneakers, the sweat off my face, the pounding of my feet on the pavement as I moved forward and onward. It was fantastic. Of course, I felt tired at times, but my ability to stay on track kept me motivated. When I finally hit the finish line and had color powder thrown on me, I felt victorious and happy. I grabbed my medal and felt like I could do anything. It is an incredible feeling to feel in charge of your body and strong.

All in all, I think I’ve come a long way from my journey of fitness and I look forward to challenging myself in becoming the best person I can be.

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Here’s to many more healthy days of running!

 

 

Things I Love: July 2016

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I’ve always been interested in the things people buy and reach for when they want to feel their ultimate best. It’s uncovering insights about someone that makes them uniquely their own. For anyone curious, here are a couple of items I’ve been loving recently.

The greatest thing someone can share with me is knowledge. I seek ways to improve myself because I understand I have flaws and I am willing to work on them. With that said, someone recommended I read Nathaniel Branden’s “Six Pillars of Self Esteem” because it has a great foundation in explaining how one can improve their overall self esteem. And as we know, having healthy self esteem is essential for everyone in not only feeling their best, but performing their best. Self esteem trickles into the respectful and meaningful relationships we build with people on a day to day basis. Nathaniel Branden’s “Six Pillars of Self Esteem” goes beyond the typical self help books. It actually has actionable exercises one can take to moving forward in becoming your best self. The book goes in depth into different parts of self esteem. Here are a couple of key points in easy digestible text I pulled from each topic:

The Focus on Action – “We must become what we wish to teach”

The Practice of Living Consciously – “A mind that is active rather than passive”

The Practice of Self-Acceptance – “When we fight a block it grows stronger. When we acknowledge, experience, and accept it, it begins to melt”

The Practice of Self-Responsibility – “Taking responsibility for my happiness is empowering. It places my life back in my own hands”

The Practice of Self-Assertiveness – “Self-assertiveness means the willingness to stand up for myself, to be who I am openly, to treat myself with respect in all human encounters”

The Practice of Living Purposefully – “The root of our self-esteem is not our achievements but those internally generated practices that, among other things, make it possible for us to achieve”

The Practice of Personal Integrity – “The challenge for people today, and it is not an easy one, is to maintain high personal standards while feeling that one is living in a moral sewer”

The Philosophy of Self Esteem – “No other individual or group has the power to determine how I will think and feel about myself”

Solid, honest and uplifting words to help us build a healthier self esteem.

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The next thing I’ve been loving is Hanae Mori’s Butterfly perfume. I tend to gravitate towards soft scents and when I smelled this, I was instantly hooked. To add on, Hanae Mori is a fashion designer in Japan who became the first Asian woman to be admitted as an official haute couture design house in France. That’s pretty bad ass, so I was sold. Taken directly from Sephora’s website the scent is described as, “The fragrance is a rare blend of berries and flowers with a distinctive tone of strawberries and almond, and a lingering impression of vanilla. The subtle composition of scents make it a fragrance unlike any other.” The bottle is also very unique and beautiful. The top (which I accidently broke when I dropped the bottle) has a shape of a butterfly with folded wings. I’ve also gotten many compliments on the perfume, so that’s a definite plus.

It’s summer in NYC and I’ve been on the hunt for a good mattifying face cream for my oily skin. I was lucky to find Botanic’s Mattifying Gel-Cream Shine Away at a Duane Reade. It’s a unique jelly like consistency that has a subtle herby fragrance to it. It moisturizes my skin without feeling greasy, and it’s great under sunscreen. As an added bonus, it hasn’t given me any breakouts, so I’m a happy lady.

It’s no secret that I love watching travel videos and vloggers, in particular J-vloggers. These are video vloggers in Japan. I was watching Kim Dao’s video and her friend Laura was handing out these beautiful choker necklaces to her friends. You can find them here: https://www.bambiluna.com/collections/all. I bought the Maru Choker and I love the simplicity and edginess it adds to any outfit I wear.

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I have also been loving the floral trend that’s been mixing with masculine pieces like floral bombers and these Vans x Opening Ceremony collab sneakers. I love Vans because they are so comfortable, especially their slip ons because it is so easy to put on. When I found out Opening Ceremony was continuing their Year of China line with Vans, I was intrigued. The beautiful delicate satin flower details with the intersection of the tough and tomboy feel of Vans instantly caught my attention. I was lucky enough to snag a black pair in the Opening Ceremony NYC shop and I’m looking forward to wearing them with many outfits.

So that’s a wrap with a couple of items I have been loving recently. And as a reminder, items should not define your whole self worth or happiness, but it’s fun to complement our self expression.

I’m interested in knowing what items or non items have been making you feel best in the comments below.

 

Black Lives Matter

No one should be fearful for existing.

With the overshadowing of horrifying atrocities around the world in my family and friends’ celebration for the holy month of Ramadan and the deeply problematic American issue of race bias and violence towards black people, I feel sadness as I have thought about and processed these injustices. These injustices have hit me to the core because they affect my family, friends and people I care for.

Black lives matter. And President Obama says it best, “So, when people say ‘black lives matter,’ it doesn’t mean ‘blue lives’ don’t matter, it just means all lives matter. But right now, the big concern is the fact that data shows black folks are more vulnerable to these kinds of incidents.” This is true for Alston Sterling, Philando Castile and the many black people who have to tragically serve as a reminder.

I am incredibly thankful for the people on my social media news feed spreading light and hope on very troubling issues. I am hopeful by using our voices we can demand social and judicial changes. But we have so much education and action to be done.

Moving forward, I want our community and world in becoming a safe and better place. Here are meaningful assortments of videos, websites, articles I highly recommend in educating ourselves and others on becoming more respectful human beings to one another:

Education:

Why Are We Still Talking About Racism? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NwdJj8InkNc

23 Everyday Actions Punishable by Death if You’re Black in America

https://mic.com/articles/147878/23-everyday-actions-punishable-by-death-if-you-re-black-in-america#.RdEvTw5zx

Test Yourself for Hidden Bias http://www.tolerance.org/activity/test-yourself-hidden-bias

Action:

Black Lives Matter http://blacklivesmatter.com/

Contacting Your Congressman or woman for judicial change: http://www.contactingthecongress.org/

Asian Americans Pen Powerful Open Letter to Their Families about Why Black Lives Matter

https://mic.com/articles/148224/asian-americans-wrote-this-powerful-letter-to-say-why-black-lives-matter-to-their-families#.LAr4iXRHe