35 things I learned in 35 years

  1. You have a voice, use it—write, sing, speak, blog, film, type, draw, cook, text, call—don’t let anyone else tell your story.
  2. Embrace ambiguity with open arms.
  3. Make time for yourself.  The world can wait.
  4. Cards Against Humanity. Yes, you do want to go there.  Let it loose. Let people take a peek into your twisted mind. 
  5. Get out of your comfort zone as much as you can. 
  6. Bottoms up.  You don’t have to drink to have fun, but knowing how to drink will prepare you for social interactions.
  7. Driving.  It may be more than just a vehicle that gets you from point A to point B.  In fact, it may get you to point C (wherever that may be) if you grab the handle and push the pedal.
  8. Learn how to perfect giving hugs.  There’s no other present you can give that people don’t mind being returned. 
  9. I am trilingual, but I honestly believe that a happy stomach, giddy laughter, and an ah ha moment speaks louder than any language.
  10. FOMO (Fear of missing out) happens.  Our everyday decisions creates missed opportunities—but who is to say that the decision you’ve made for yourself isn’t an opportunity in itself?
  11. Online exploration needs to be done.  I don’t care if you’re single, taken, young, or old—make a new friend via the virtual sphere.  You’ll learn more not only about yourself, but of society’s needs and wants, and you’ll have more questions than answers –but it’ll get you thinking, and that’s all that matters.
  12. I will never be Japanese enough, and I need to accept that.
  13. Don’t be afraid to stray away from what you have been asked to do.  If you have a reasoning for your actions, people will either accept your perspective, or deny it.  I’ve been lucky with my teachers who welcomed my different takes on assignments. I may be off a bit, but at least I’m still me ☺ (Thank you Miss Ramon & Miss Fernandez).
  14. We all have privilege, some more than others.  It’s what you acknowledge, understand, and do with it that matters.
  15. Introverts: Be with extroverts that can pull out the extrovert in you.  Extroverts: Be with introverts that can invite you to reflect on your self-awareness.
  16. Saying no is not equivalent to quitting.  Saying no means you are self-aware and you are empowered to step away before you over commit yourself. 
  17. Never stop dreaming.  Dreams do come true. What would you do next, now that your dream came true?
  18. Job searching is similar to finding a partner.  You lay out what you can do for each other and hope that you are a match.  
  19. Someone must’ve thought of doing a sociological case study on Denny’s. If not, someone should get on it. 
  20. I’ve learned so much watching Felicity and One Tree Hill.
  21. There is something nostalgic about hearing a foreigner sing a song in your native language.  (Referring to のどじまんザワールド)
  22. The best learning happens when you don’t even realize it.
  23. Instead of asking Where are you from? ask What is your story? [Many gratitude to Ruth E. Van Reken]
  24. Being laid off is not the end of the world.  In fact, it’s the opening to a new world.
  25. Learn to pick your battles.  We can’t win it all, and not everyone deserves your time and energy. 
  26. Words. It does an emotion good.
  27. Keep a pair of chopsticks in your car.  You never know when it’ll come in handy. 
  28. Transparency is the state I strive to be. 
  29. The concept of ‘lollipop moments’ have shifted my views on leadership.  [Thank you, Drew!]
  30. I’m thankful for everyone who has weaved the threads in my life – teachers, friends, family, fictional characters in stories/movies/songs/musicals/ photography, strangers, online profiles – you have shaped me one way or another for better or worse.
  31. I will always be a student and with that, an educator.  Let’s continue the reciprocal journey of learning; I insist, after you. 
  32. Gut feeling is reason enough to make a decision.  Trust it.
  33. Walking away from toxicity is the strongest thing you can do.  It’s easier to stay sometimes than deal with the uncertainty or others’ opinions.
  34. Sometimes what you’re looking for comes when you’re not looking at all. (it’s that moment when everything aligns: mind, body, feelings, and thoughts.) [spiral learning at its best.]
  35. The power is within me to control my world. It takes mindful practice but as Buddha says, “Our life is shaped by our mind, for we become what we think.”

The Most Powerful Tool

undefinedToday, err, yesterday was Boss’s Day. I’ve been fortunate to have amazing bosses that enabled me to grow. All this time I’ve been looking for the right tool, right gadget, right app, right person, right coach to help me get out of my funk and it was within a meditation session where it all clicked. The most powerful tool we all have is the ability to practice practice. Let me share what I mean. Read the following passage with intention:

Now gently relax your attention. We can’t force our thoughts to disappear because it’s the nature of the mind to think. Active Monkey Mind. Our minds goes from thought to thought. It hardly sits still.  Our goal is to observe the thought, not to judge it. Let it jump from thought to thought. Idea to idea. Notice the busyness. And when you feel swept away by thought, pull yourself back. Be gentle without frustration. When there are thoughts, you’re not doing anything wrong. All it means is you’re human. Simply come back as you notice with patience and self-compassion. This is the correct way to practice. 

Let there be sound. Let there be thoughts. Let there be discomfort. Let there be emotions. Let everything be. When we learn to observe our experience, without making it right or wrong, that’s when we’re mastering practice.

meditation from Calm app narrated by Tamara Levitt

My coach kept repeating the word compassion and in my head I knew I had compassion already but what I came to realize is that I was lacking compassion for myself. I (you too) need self-compassion to build ourselves up. Creating space within ourselves, free of judgment a place where we can respond with our frustrations with kindness and care. We need to notice what’s happening. Counter them with love. Offer love and compassion to ourselves. Be your own friend. Give yourself permission to be kind, patient, non-judgmental, and aware of yourself.  

The moment I saw myself/my mind without judgement it dawned on me how powerful it is to practice simply being. I don’t know about you but I suffer from information overload, mental constipation, analysis paralysis, you name it. Whatever it is that I was trying to find, I found it. I had the answer all along.

When I allowed myself to be aware of my thoughts, I found compassion. I found the balance I longed for: the alignment of neuroscience, self, mind, and body.

The best tool is one you can use alone, is free, and can use to solve every problem possible. The power of you/me. This is it. It enables wellness and accountability. It allows me show up, fully. My negative emotions are not all or nothing: I’m the sum of all my emotions, thoughts, and awareness.

Watch this video: https://photos.app.goo.gl/Tx8DEUsvQ4oWgKxk6

Enter PL huh? Practice, practice, practice. (Gordon, Barbara, Thomas, & Whidbey Institute: it came full circle yet again.) [PL is a whole other topic I’ll touch on another day].

Next step? Master the practice.

Being the Door Keeper

Today’s learning stems from the idea where all my thoughts: more negative than positive takes over my head, making it extremely hard to get past ‘the thought’ that triggers my emotions. After installing the Insight Timer app which is a free meditation app, I listened to Lou’s guided meditation of “There is nothing wrong with you.” In it, he explains that you need to be the door keeper of your thoughts. Watch it go in and out through the door but don’t engage with it. I listened to it and a light-bulb went off. I need to be the bouncer. If I know that some thoughts are going to pick a fight with my other thoughts, I need to put a stop on it. Keep it out. or at least keep a watch on it. When we’re in the middle of our emotions, it’s hard to not make that emotion the center of attention. Are you following me? Let’s say I had an okay day until I forgot my keys to the house and took longer to enter my house than planned. My irritation and panic of forgetting my keys often times takes over–making me a grumpy, irritable being. But if I could put myself as the door keeper, I can show grumpy out the door. It may seem like a silly thing to read, but it makes sense as a practice. Try it, and let me know what you think.

Another app I found/learned about is Flowbar. Flowbar is a chrome extension, very similar to OneTab which I’ve been using for years. I switched to Flowbar because it syncs between the different computers. You can group the tabs, name the tabs, restore, delete, and move the tabs all in one dashboard. The design needs improvement, but it gets the job done.

Grateful for spontaneous texts from friends, homemade chicken masala, coaching, recommended books, and e-books.


It takes 21 days to create a habit, but it only takes a week to lose momentum. Here’s to rebuilding good habits. It’s been about 4 months since the last LLG post. For my new readers (yes, you!) LLG stands for lessons learned and gratitude. Each day I share what I learned and what I’m grateful for. You might think what’s there to learn when you’ve been out of school for so long, but you’d be surprised. I challenge you to think of one thing per day that you’ve learned. It can be anything. Something you didn’t know yesterday that you now know today. You’d be surprised at how many things we learn on a daily basis. Now imagine if you learned something new by simply reading my posts. That’s at least one new discovery you’re going to encounter.

Hmm, so there’s definitely countless things I learned since my last post, but I’m going to start with today.

I learned that even with a common language of English, there’s still differences in cultural context. (you might be thinking, you out of all people should know that by now) but, I’m talking in the context of industries. I thought I knew food industry lingo but boy was I wrong. To put things into perspective, I’ve been helping a client with starting up a mobile food trailer. Learning about how to get a business license in WA, city license, city permits, UBI, Washington Labor & Industries inspection, health inspection… The whole 9 yards. Not to mention, designing the inside of a trailer, all while going in between English and Japanese. I’ve learned what a type II hood vent is and how it’s different from a type I. I love it when I see a favorite food truck parked nearby but I never knew the processes it took to get there. Takes patience, mission, vision, and understanding of the food industry (in and out), not to mention mullah, and lots of back and forth communication to build a new food trailer.

On a different note, who knew about the bookmark feature in Google doc? Made me happy to realize there’s ways to bookmark sections within a gdoc. Would’ve made creating a table of contents in the past so much easier… But now I know 🙂

Listened in on a how to code webinar today. Coding reminded me a lot of learning geometry proofs and excel functions. Again, it’s English, but different contexts. It’s essentially like learning a new language but with a lot of familiar math concepts. Power to Fly has some great webinars and recordings of past live chats.

Grateful for the ability to smell Indian spices, to know what to do if I were to start a food truck business, the complexity of the English language, free webinars, and running water.


I need to talk to him. I’ve been so close to picking up my phone and texting, but then I remember that voice in my head that tells me, after you’ve accomplished your goals. I need to use this urgency as a motivator. I’m disconnecting from him not because I can’t stand him but because I can’t stand myself. I get the urge to connect with him to excuse myself from getting anything accomplished. I’ve got to stop that. I need to use the time that I’m not talking to him to accomplish my goals. It’s hard to unlearn the urge to want to instantly connect with someone you care about. Someone who makes you smile. (so thankful I still have a photo to reflect back to). I’m trying to build a new habit of not to connect with him so that I can eventually connect with him to summarize all of my accomplishments. I can do this. It’s not going to be easy, but life isn’t easy and I sure as hell am not a quitter. I’m going to accomplish this. I can and I will. It’s urgent that I do.

My feelings

After getting a couple of hours of sleep in and looking at the emotion wheel, the following is what I’m feeling in no particular order.

  • upset
  • disappointed
  • funk
  • incomplete
  • insignificant
  • panicky
  • jumpy
  • unsure
  • trapped
  • unsettled
  • disgraced
  • depreciated
  • put away
  • abandoned
  • shunned
  • demeaned
  • protective

The little positivity I have within me is serene, cool, and collected. I found a new group to fit into and lifted two others during the day. I’d say that’s a win. I’m hoping the colorful water beads will make a difference in my mood, as well as getting rid of the pile of papers I have on my desk. Baby steps. Next up, trying to hone in on job titles, then Linkedin headline and summary, then resume, then job search, then interviews, then the big move. oh, and somewhere in between, reading books, working on side project, watching shows, and feeling accomplished and ready to take on year 35.

Just feel

Often times when we’re in the middle of a situation, our mouths run off before we can process our feelings. Those words can sting, it can hurt, and it can be regretful. There’s certain moments when we’d rather let others’ words speak for ourselves because it’s easier. That moment was today. I’m still processing my feelings and I’m giving myself permission to feel, but the song I keep listening to is I hate you by Issa x SoulJa x Rola. I appreciate songs that are mixed with different languages because as a trilingual, some language expresses an action or feeling much better than the other. I couldn’t find a true translation of the lyrics from Japanese to English so here’s my attempt.

泣きたくて、泣けなくて  I want to cry, but I can’t
叫びたい声 必死にこらえ  I want to scream but I’m keeping it in
苦しくて マジいたくて I’m suffering it hurts for real
この胸から えぐりとれるならば If I can carve this pain out of my chest
いっそ てめぇへの 
思いを消しさりたいけど I’d love to delete all my feelings I have for you, but
どうして写真のように why is it that I can’t let go of you
焼き捨てられないんだろう。。。 like the photo I burnt so easily

Girlマジで今さら意味わからねぇよ、何考えてんだよ Girl I don’t get why now, what were you thinking?
俺とお前つき合いだして、もう遊びのレベルこえてんだろ? Aren’t we long past playing games?
俺の家の鍵もわたしていた、俺の親にも顔を会わせていた I had given you my keys to my place, I even introduced you to my parents
二人冗談まじり “いつかね”のガキん名前も決めたり We even joked about our future baby’s name
してたのに 夜家に帰れば君の and yet when I got home
声がして、一人じゃなくて I heard a voice, I wasn’t alone
声を上げて、知らない名前 A loud voice, I heard an unfamiliar name

叫びたい声 必死にこらえ  I want to scream but I’m keeping it in
苦しくて マジいたくて I’m suffering it hurts for real
この胸から えぐりとれるならば If I can carve this pain out of my chest
いっそ てめぇへの 
思いを消しさりたいけど I’d love to delete all my feelings I have for you, but
どうして写真のように why is it that I can’t let go of you
焼き捨てられないんだろう。。。 like the photo I burnt so easily

hey wait i don’t think i understand i mean… 
i said wait i don’t think you understandマジ really
いつ なぜ どこで? ウソだありえねぇ When? Why? Where? It’s a lie, it can’t be true
顔すら見たくねぇget da fuck up out my face I don’t event want to see your face
after all that we’ve been through you dont threw it all away 
もう二度と戻れはしねぇ We can’t ever go back
思い出も その嘘泣きも the memories, even your fake tears
作り笑いも 全部ウソだろう your fake laugh, it’s all a lie isn’t it?
so fuck you very much although i wish it wasn’t so, 
無駄に過ごした時間ありがとよ thanks for the wasted time I spent with you
思い出 そんなのいらねえ memories, I don’t need any of that
今はただ 二度と 君を girl I just can’t ever

許せなくてbut好きすぎて forgive you but I like you so much
叫びたい声 必死にこらえ I want to scream but I’m keeping it in
苦しくて マジいたくて I’m suffering it hurts for real
この胸から えぐりとれるならば If I can carve this pain out of my chest
いっそ てめぇへの 
思いを消しさりたいけど I’d love to delete all my feelings I have for you, but
二度と君のことを  I never want to fall for you

都合がいい時しか (you only hold me close) at your own convenience
you never hold me close 
なのに どうして 私のことが好きだと言えるの so how can you say that you like me so?
I don’t understand it baby 
おたがいさまなのに it’s you and me both
why do you hurt me? 

今更何を言われても 全てが壊れた whatever you say right now, everything is broken
get da fuck away 

叫びたい声 必死にこらえ  I want to scream but I’m keeping it in
苦しくて マジいたくて I’m suffering it hurts for real
この胸から えぐりとれるならば If I can carve this pain out of my chest
いっそ てめぇへの 
思いを消しさりたいけど I’d love to delete all my feelings I have for you, but
どうして写真のように why is it that I can’t let go of you
焼き捨てられないんだろう。。。 like the photo I burnt so easily 

i love u 
i hate u 
i love u 
i hate u

— ###—

The context of this song is not the same as my situation, but there’s parts of this song that expresses the difficulty of letting go of this one person. It hurts, and it saddens me to no extent to do so, but I think it needed to happen.

Olive oil and balsamic vinegar pairs so well with toasted baguette, yet, olive oil and balsamic vinegar never fully integrates. I’ll leave it at that…for now.