Category: LLG

Lessons Learned & Gratitude

At the Moment

Say what you mean and mean what you say.

I’ve been on the mend since the beginning of this month, the 1st to be exact. Nothing like not having the ability to taste or hear quite clearly. One thing I did accomplish in the midst of this chaos is to focus on my thoughts and feelings. I’d like to think I mean everything I say at all times — but I fail at saying what I mean most of the time.

How are you? I’m fine…

Yea, I’m not fine. I haven’t been fine. I’m learning to ask myself what’s up? Be aware of where in my body am I feeling the feels. What am I angry about? What am I afraid of? What is irking me? How can I extinguish the small fire inside me, before I do something that’ll make the flame bigger?

Bed rest means lots of sleep and lots of reading/listening time. I finished “Braving the Wilderness” by Brené Brown, “The Art of Communicating” by Thich Nhat Hanh, “Whiskey Words & a Shovel I” by r.h. Sin, “Born to Love, Cursed to Feel” by Samantha King Holmes, “Fail, Fail Again, Fail Better” and “Start Where You Are” by Pema Chödrön, “The Highly Sensitive Person in Love” by Elain Aron, “Use Your Difference to Make a Difference” by Tayo Rockson, and “Unf*ck Yourself” and “Stop Doing that Sh*t” by Gary John Bishop.

All of these books has one common thread and that’s me. It starts with me. So I gave myself permission to feel all the fears, the stillness, the confusion, the frustration, the anger, the emotions. and within that moment of giving myself permission, I found a glimpse of clarity, a warm embrace, a good cry, and a smile in my heart.

Alicia Keys said “I only lose myself when I can’t speak for myself.” Maybe I got lost because I wasn’t speaking. I’m going to share bits and pieces of what I call life’s captions: insight and ah-ha moments.

  • It’s scary to be seen. There’s a difference between belonging and being seen. I need to see myself. Soul searching.
  • I need to study my life rather than be in it. I need to give myself permission to be me. Permission to be goofy. Power of permission. It’s an intention. Set the intention, and then follow through. Attempt to belong to myself and no one else.
  • Believing is so hard. We can believe on hope, but not beyond what we actually see?
  • Friendship: Being vulnerable is the secret handshake to become my friend. People I can talk to about the scariest and honest topics are who I consider to be my friends.
  • P2: is everything complicated? You okay? What is okay? Okay is relative. False Reality? I like you more than you like you. I’ve somehow been reluctant to use the L word around people. It’s a strong word. I’ve been questioning it a lot like when’s the right timing and what if you reject it; but I’ve come to my senses of why not now? Whatever your story is, it doesn’t change my story. Took me a while to see what’s going on, but I get it now. It’s love. To take the words right out of A Walk to Remember “love is like the wind, I can’t see it, but I can feel it.” No more assuming. We f*ck up, we learn, we grow. By the way, you are not a f*ck up.
  • Conflict Transformation: Dr. Michelle Buck uses the term conflict transformation rather than conflict resolution because conflict creates an opportunity to learning something new about the situation. It’s not about winning or losing. It allows for a greater connection whether or not there is agreement. Avoiding the conversation takes you nowhere because our doubts are still there. Show up to the conflict. Explicitly explain the intention of the conversation. Ask what is so important about the conversation.

Nothing can survive without food. Everything we consume acts either to heal us or to poison us. We tend to think of nourishment only as what we take in through our mouths, but what we consume with our eyes, our ears, our noses, our tongues, and our bodies is also food. The conversations going on around us, and those we participate in, are also food. Are we consuming and creating the kind of food that is healthy for us and helps us grow? When we say something that nourishes us and uplifts the people around us, we are feeding love and compassion. When we speak and act in a way that causes tension and anger, we are nourishing violence and suffering.

Thích Nhất Hạnh, The Art of Communicating

Let me end by saying this. I promise to feed love and compassion to anyone who may need it, and try not to forget to do so for myself. Everything starts with me, but doesn’t have to end with me.

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:

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.

Want vs. Hope

Ooof. Today was tough. Breakups suck. I better get writing before tears start overflowing. again.

Before today happened, I told myself I’d write out what’s been circling my mind these last four days. Someone asked me “what do you want from me?” and it really got me thinking. Not only what I wanted from him alone, but any guy, really. My mind also went from — what’s the line between being a friend, and a significant other (SO) — and why do we call it SO? Shouldn’t we be significant in all of our relationships?

If you know me well enough, I googled. I can’t recall what I used for keywords, but it did lead me to the P.S. I love You section on Medium: I kid you not, I read about 50 posts, mainly by and one other author, I had an ah-ha moment when I read @LeonaLoveQuest’s post on her use of ‘hope’ instead of ‘want.’

She writes, “I find that “hope” is exceedingly more useful than “want” because no matter how much I may want from a relationship, I will only ever receive as much as the other person is ready or willing to give…With hope and a little imagination I gain the freedom to shape my expectations into an infinite number of possibilities.” I wanted to share the ones that I deem to be my hope as well, and then add on to the list.

  • I hope that we become best friends.
  • I hope when he meets my friends I begin to suspect they might like him a little more than me.
  • I hope his friends feel the same way about me.
  • I hope the words “I love you” make him feel less like he’s giving up his freedom and more like he’s liberating his soul.
  • I hope that when we plan a vacation, we set aside one day to make no plans at all.
  • I hope amid the hustle-bustle and family gatherings around the holidays we find some time to be alone.
  • I hope we spend less time counting our money and more time counting our blessings.
  • I hope he understands that for most of the winter, I will be bundled up.
  • I hope we’re amazed by how far we made it without having known each other.
  • I hope our mad, passionate love settles into an unbreakable bond of trust, honesty and respect.
  • I hope we are able to lean on each other when we struggle to stand on our own.
  • I hope when faced with difficult choices we remember to keep our promises and lose our fears.
  • I hope when we argue neither of us says anything so hurtful we can never take it back.
  • I hope that if we ever start to grow apart, we fight hard to come back together instead of turning away to someone else.
  • I hope as we grow old, he continues to be my greatest hero and my strongest ally.
  • I hope we decide for better or for worse, life is still better together than it could ever be apart.” [For actual list, visit:]
  • I hope I’m leaving him better off than when I met/started to talk to him.
  • I hope we can always be authentic and genuinely honest — to say what we mean, and mean what we say — despite the fact that it might hurt the other.
  • I hope he shows that he cares — ask me how I’m doing, ask what I had for lunch, ask what I’m wearing — the small inquiries go a long way.
  • I hope he continues to flirt with me, and make me feel like I’m still worth pursuing.
  • I hope he knows that I wish him happiness even if that means I’m not a part of it.
  • I hope he remembers me as the one with creative cooking ideas at 2AM –Chopped style — and not as the one that hurt his feelings.

Last but not least, I hope I can meet him when we’re both at a better place in our lives, ‘cuz let’s face it, it’s hard to pour from an empty cup. I’m a huge believer of ‘timing of life’ and things happening for a reason. I have a hunch that this is simply a pause, but if not, I’m glad I was able to finish what I said I would, and with a smile on my face.

*I’m grateful for his honesty, strength, vulnerability, flirts, and smiles. Here’s to hoping he gets his much deserved rest, decision-making, and self-confidence. Take it one at a time, and you’ll go far.*


Might be the first LLG post in 2019. Might not be. I think it’d do me good to start again.

Learned that it takes energy to focus on myself; to be selfish. Trying not to be reactive takes energy and intentional focus.

I also learned that I want to serve youth. Watching the Japanese show 7 rules about one teacher made me think of why I pursued my career in higher education. It’s too bad the higher ed system failed me, but I’m hoping to find a way to get myself back into serving youth one way or another.

Trying to be honest with yourself is so much harder than being honest with someone else. Someone asked me what I wanted from them. Honestly, I’m at a loss for words. It’s not even about them anymore. I’m having a hard time answering what I want, truly. It’s something I’m going to have to really think through.

Gratitude goes to documentaries, educators, #truestories, writers, and journaling.


This year was rough.

Looking back at my #bestnine and scrolling through my calendar, the year is quite a blur. The year started with anxiety, stress, and a tense body. I can only recall certain moments — certain time frames that occurred before me.

In no specific order, I remember the two deaths too many — the moving dance piece that made me overflow with emotion at the Whidbey Institute — finding a tribe full of interculturalists (people that get me) — hours and hours of girl talk with my wild sisters — an explosion of verbal expression — plethora of tears — self-doubt — lost hope — vulnerability — Project 137 — This is Day One (Drew’s book) — P2P Coaching program — World Cup — overthinking — The Voice Season 15 — self-care — WSU Cougar Football — web of connections — gratitude — numbness — growth — self-discovery — Top Chef/New Amsterdam/9-1-1/This is Us — and truth.

I learned firsthand what it means to build a habit. The Lessons Learned & Gratitude journal (LLG) helped me appreciate what I have and what lessons I learned on a daily basis. Consistency is key to everything we do. Setting a goal and sticking to the goal. It’s as simple as that.

In my head, this year felt like everything and nothing all at the same time. Up until the second week of December, I wanted to simply end 2018. I didn’t have any goals or outlook for 2019, but I knew I needed 2018 to be done with.

Reflecting back, December 12th was the day that changed this year for me. I took on my first shift as Crisis Counselor, helping a texter get through a hard time, and being there for that one person. Gave me hope that I too can be of service to someone in times of hardship. A simple ‘Thank you’ at the end made me feel warm and fuzzy. If you or anyone else needs someone to talk to, Crisis Text Line is available 24/7 at 741741. Yes, it’s text, and no, we’re not robots.

That same day, I got a rather peculiar text from someone I knew. It had been since March 2017, but for some reason, it was time for us to re-connect, and I’m glad we did. 2018 is still hazy, but 2019 looks promising.

My intent word for 2019 is REVEAL. To reveal is “to make (previously unknown or secret information) known to others.” but in order to reveal something, I need to learn or discover it first.  I’d like to think I’m ready to reveal myself in all layers of my life through self-reflection and interaction with others. 2018 taught me a lot about who I am and how to care for myself. I look forward to dig deeper and experience things I’ve never felt or seen before.

In midst of this hazy year, I got moments of clarity participating in Project 137 hosted by Patti Digh. Starting on August 16th ’til today, we were given daily prompts to reflect, create, and journal about. One thing I learned through this project is it’s worth buying a notebook. It doesn’t get more real than putting pen to writing on a white sheet of paper. I’d like to free write the rest of the post using the prompts from the various days.

Did you know you can write yourself a letter to the future you using It’s a rather interesting concept. Many characters in TV shows do it. I just wrote my letter. We’ll see what it reveals when I open it in the next couple of months. Stay tuned.

Day 3: Make a list of 5 things you would do if you truly only had 3 days left to live. Ironically enough, I’m at peace with where I am right now. I might make last minute video chats, or call up friends and family to tell them how much they mean to me, but I’ve learned that I shouldn’t wait to say this to them. I’ve made a real effort this year to express what I want to say to the people I care about these last few months. It’s never too early to share that with someone and I didn’t do it to get anything in return. It puts me at peace that they heard it from me and that they now know.

Day 2: If you could sum up in three words what you learned about yourself this year, what would those three words be?I am enough.

Day 1: How might you continue this focus on mindfulness in the New Year?  I’d like to continue the LLG posts and add Edible Moments, and any other topics I’ve been meaning to writing about.

I’m truly grateful for: my support network who don’t judge me when I spill my emotions out; the timing of life; Duolingo; my sisters near and far (you know who you are); old school conversations via phone call; rekindled connections; and heartfelt encouragements.

This year was tough, but I made it through with your help, and I look forward to what’s to come tomorrow.

It’s been a while since I last posted. Last week, I ended up feeling sick and wasn’t up to par for about a week. It made me realize how much I tried to be physically strong this year. I held in a lot. It’s sometimes so worth it to simply let your body dictate what not to do. Was I the most productive? Probably not, but I was definitely most productive in healing my body.

Learned I can’t force my body to do anything. I need to listen to my body more and keep it in tune. Pausing my life was exactly what my body needed.

I also completed my first shift as a Crisis Counselor yesterday. It was insane and rewarding all at the same time. I hope I can build the skill of not overthinking and apply it to my own life. In the end, I was there to do my part, to be there for someone in need, at that moment. After that moment, it’s not up to me what someone else does.

Gratitude goes to reconnected friends, girl talk, phone conversations, informational interviews, and remembering to continue posting.

Tonight’s episode of The Voice was controversial and it all boils down to chance. It wasn’t the girl’s fault that she became ill and decided to sit this episode out, but the show is called The Voice, and for a coach to throw a team member under the bus to protect another is uncalled for. Not sure if the producers had a solution for an instance like this, but the show must go on, and if a singer wants to sit an episode out, that’s her choice. I sincerely hope DeAndre Nico continues to wow the world with his singing capabilities. Kudos to Coach Kelly for acknowledging DeAndre.

On another note, learned that cooking works with backwards design too. If I have an end visual to how the plate will be, I can strategically cook it in time.

Gratitude goes to lamb, sweet potato gnocchi, harvest salad, trader Joe’s, and TV shows.