Category Archives: epiphany

sleep

I’ve been having trouble sleeping lately.

At first I thought it was because I’ve been sick for the past couple of weeks – it’s tough to sleep with a coughing fit.

Next, I diagnosed that it must be my coffee intake.  After all, introducing caffeine into your body after a long hiatus is sure to send it into shock.

Hmm… maybe it’s my late night workouts.  It probably takes some time for my adrenaline to slow down after an intense work out.

J has to literally tear me away from my computer during these restless nights, only to have me toss and turn wide awake.  Anyone who knows me would find this behavior unusual – I typically sleep fast and soundly in an instant.  When J, who is himself an insomniac on occasion, can find sleep more than I can – something is off.

I began to realize that taking Nyquil was only a quick fix.

Last night, I jumped into bed and just stared at the ceiling.

“I think you’re right.”  I said.  That got J’s attention.  He put his book down, and asked, “About what?”

“I’m overwhelmed.”  Still looking at the ceiling.  Not angry, not upset, not in a fit or crisis.  I was simply, calmly acknowledging a very obvious fact.  Obvious to everyone but myself, until that very moment.

“Well,” J started, as he turned to face me, “You’ve been working non-stop all month.  Of course, you’re overwhelmed.”

I tried to mentally list all of the possible culprits for my anxiety.  I’ve been dedicating time to Stella & Dot, my new side business and learning all of the strategies to successfully book and execute trunk shows.  In just my first month of signing up as a Stylist, I had done 4 trunk show events, including my initial launch party!  Wedding planning is just gearing up, with the continuous hunt for a wedding venue and the seemingly never-ending task of gaining my family’s approval.  There are days when I wince at the thought of devoting an entire year just to planning it, with the current stress already forming & the anticipation of more stress.  Job searching is still on the periphery of my mind, especially with lay-offs occurring in the next month or so.  With all of those things, financial security is a big factor in my worries.  And somewhere crammed in the rest of my head are the obligations and expectations to multiple roles in my life: being a good fiance, sister, friend, employee, daughter, etc. etc.

Ugh.  No wonder I’m a mess.

Just from voicing it aloud to myself and to my wonderfully supportive fiance, I decided that the bulk of these issues were not going to be resolved that evening.  If I’m going to have a busy year, I can’t burn out this early in the game.  Something needs to change.  I need to change my game plan.

At that moment, what I decided I needed more than anything else, was a chance to just rest from all of the chaos and noise in my life.

So I made a conscious effort to hit “pause” for the evening, and I finally went to sleep.

3 Comments

Filed under Bridal blues & bliss, epiphany, relationships, simple things, Stella & Dot

breaking the perfectionist

Perfectionism is a cruel trait to have inherited.

It’s a debilitating disease that cleverly disguises itself as being meticulous, competent, and confident.  The desire to always be right and flawless comes from the root of fear.  The fear of failure.

The attempt to write this novel has proven to be an eye opening experience on how perfectionism has ruled my life, for better and for worse.  As a writer and English major, I’ve learned over the years that there a few crucial stages in the writing process: the brainstorming, outlining, writing, editing, and the revising stage.  My writing process may be a bit different from others. I’m the sort of writer who tends to edit as she writes – even at this very moment.  In writing, the idea is for words to convey a message and to be succinct.  This is more so in poetry, with the drastically shortened length, than in any other written form.

That doesn’t sound so bad, at first glance.  Editing your writing is a good process.  What you end up with is a good solid piece of text, with all of the excessive words, articles, and sentences cleanly omitted and deleted.  Trimming the fat.

But what happens when internal editing is all you do?  When focusing on finding the “right words to say” prevent you from using other words or ideas?  Creativity is stifled.  When creativity is halted, for fear of failure or being wrong or not being good enough, what happens?  Nothing happens.  Nothing gets written.  Nothing never gets the chance to even become a something.

Over the past years, I’ve had many fleeting ideas of stories, poems, and articles.  Those ideas eventually collect dust or lie around incomplete because I either grew dissatisfied with the beginning, decided I didn’t have enough skill, or became discouraged with not “having the right words.”  I definitely had a problem, but it wasn’t the problem that I initially thought. My problem wasn’t that I couldn’t write well, or that I wasn’t competent (though I certainly entertained those reasons at that time).  My problem was that I was afraid to fail.  So much so that I gave up even before I gave myself a chance.  I naively believed that if I prevented failure, I was still in the safety zone.  I could still feel good about myself because I haven’t failed yet.

The real failure is not even trying.

With this novel writing challenge, mistakes are encouraged.  Expected, even!  And that’s okay, so long as you WRITE.  It was such a radical way of approaching writing for me, that I was hooked on the idea.  The emphasis is on the act of writing, not on the quality of writing.  And here’s the key behind the success of NaNoWriMo – If the pressure of writing a great literary piece of work was lifted, quantified instead of qualified, would it encourage people to write?  If mistakes are a key and expected part of the writing process, what wonderful things will this freedom allow you to write about?

Taken from Nanowrimo’s FAQ page:

Q: If I’m just writing 50,000 words of crap, why bother?  Why not just write a real novel later, when I have more time?

A: 1) If you don’t do it now, you probably never will. Novel writing is mostly a “one day” event. As in “One day, I’d like to write a novel.” Here’s the truth: 99% of us, if left to our own devices, would never make the time to write a novel. It’s just so far outside our normal lives that it constantly slips down to the bottom of our to-do lists. The structure of NaNoWriMo forces you to put away all those self-defeating worries and START.

2) Aiming low is the best way to succeed. With entry-level novel writing, shooting for the moon is the surest way to get nowhere. With high expectations, everything you write will sound cheesy and awkward. Once you start evaluating your story in terms of word count, you take that pressure off yourself. […] There will be much execrable prose, yes. But amidst the crap, there will be beauty. A lot of it.

**

It’s week 2 in this writing challenge and I am at 3,603 words. I’m still behind, but that’s okay.  I’ve written far more words than I would have in this month otherwise.  Much of it is quite awful.  But that’s still okay.  Learning to break my perfectionist habits is going to be a much longer process than the span of this month. And even when I complete this writing challenge, mistakes and all, it will still take a lot of “unlearning” to translate the acceptance of failure from the novel into other aspects of my life.  But through this writing process, it’s definitely a start.  And starting, as I’ve come to realize, is a much better approach to life than stopping.

1 Comment

Filed under epiphany, writing

one step at a time

Finishing Medal

Finishing Medal

Months of training on the track, surprising myself by actually feeling the urge to run, and staying consistent with my pace finally led to completing last week’s San Jose Rock and Roll Half Marathon.

13.1 miles in 2 hours and 42 minutes!  This coming from a person who was NOT A RUNNER until 2009, who struggled through her first 5k just seven months ago, and who never thought she could push herself this far physically & mentally.  I was proud of myself – not just for the race, but for the months it took to get me prepared to even do it.

And here’s what I learned from my newfound “runner’s status” – it really is all in the mind.  Though it does take some level of physical endurance and fitness to run, I believe 90% of it came from sheer determination and discipline.  Unlike most of my other challenges, I wasn’t trying to deal with another person or circumstance.

With running, I was battling myself.  Do I stop at mile 10 because I’m truly tired or because my brain is telling me I’m tired?  Do my feet really hurt, or am I imagining it so I can stop?  And am I going to give into any excuse my mind can wrack up?  Deep down, do I want to stop because I can’t handle it or do I want to keep going because I HAVE to?  Those were the questions that I faced EVERY TIME I ran.  Even on the marathon day itself.

It’s scary, but enlightening, to realize how much influence your mind has over your body. I’m starting to believe that this sort of thinking – positive thinking according to The Secret – may be the next crucial area to train myself in.  Who knows what more I’d be able to accomplish if I can overcome my internal critic and skeptic?

“Now if you are going to win any battle you have to do one thing. You have to make the mind run the body. Never let the body tell the mind what to do. The body will always give up. It is always tired in the morning, noon, and night. But the body is never tired if the mind is not tired.”

– George S. Patton, U.S. Army General, 1912 Olympian

3 Comments

Filed under epiphany, fitness

triple milestones

Today J and I celebrate the most momentous milestones, thus far in our lives.

Our engagement, our first home together,  and our upcoming birthdays.

That’s all heavy stuff; I’m still trying to wrap my mind around all three at once.  In just two short, yet eventful, months, both of our lives changed dramatically.

The concept of “milestones” intrigues me.  Socially constructed, it’s like a way to mark time.  You don’t really know how much has changed or how long it’s been until you look back on a certain period in your life – be it comparing your freshmen year of high school to college, the friends and lovers who have gone into your life and out, or the first time you left the country and had a new perspective of the life you lived.  If it weren’t for milestones, how else can you distinguish elusive days from others?

Milestones reaffirm the purpose of my “everydays.”  And that I worked hard to achieve some of them.  A milestone like an engagement actually happens in one day, one heart-pounding moment.  But that was over 5 years in the making for J and I to reach that moment.  It symbolized years of love, working through a long-distance relationship, surviving grad school, learning to compromise and listen, and continuing to challenge and learn from each other.  It was a moment that I relished, be it socially constructed.  And the exciting part is that it one of the first major ones that we shared – the first of many.

What better way to celebrate an end of a marathon than with a nice, shiny medal?  Or to commence a brand new journey ahead.

Leave a comment

Filed under epiphany, relationships

focus

I lack it.

This is not to be confused with drive or initiative, which I have plenty of.  But what’s the point of having fuel when you don’t know where to drive the car?

Having “focus” is something that I’ve always struggled with. Either I feel I have too many options, fear that I’m not making the most efficient use of my time, or am not sure what takes priority at that moment.

During middle school in art classes, I always hated the feeling of staring at my blank sheet of paper. I was excited to draw, but overcome with the sudden pressure to excel at whatever I decided to put down.  To COMMIT.  What on earth am I supposed to fill this page up with? Luckily, pencils come with erasers.  I’d spend so much time painstakingly thinking about what original and unique masterpiece I would create, that by the time the teacher announced we only have 10 minutes left, I end up hastily sketching in my default drawings: an ocean, sun, and birds.  Maybe some clouds.

As I got older, it felt the same way whenever “essay time” rolls around.  The same dreaded blank page with a blinking cursor.  Oh my god, what the *&% am I going to write to fill up three pages? Of course, my vocabulary had matured with my age.

I think of my life as somewhat of a blank page; each moment, day, or year brings the opportunity to create something.  But that freedom comes a with feeling of pressure- to make it perfect the first time around.  And that time isn’t something that you can take back if you change your mind later.  And then the “should” game begins in my head – a terrible game to play solo because none of the choices help you make a decision.

Should I stay in this job for another year or two, or gain experience in another field?  Should I spend my time taking another art class or focus on creating photography projects?  Should I spend my summer travelling or stay at home to build relationships with my family?  Should I practice writing or spend more time reading about other writers?  Should I continue to train for marathons or pick up a new sport?  SHOULD SHOULD SHOULD SHOULD…

And I’ve realized that the answer is not necessarily one or the other, but rather refining the focus on just a few.  And as much as I like to think that I can do everything or attempt to (thus part of the rationale behind what this blog is about), I can’t.  Not everyone can be a Renaissance man or woman.

And if I can learn to accept the reality that in my life – in this moment or in the next year or two, there could be hundreds of different scenarios that can play out, I CAN ONLY CHOOSE ONE.  And if I choose wrong, is it really the end of the world?  No, I just move on and try again.  And strangely enough, there’s a sense of freedom in limiting myself – to focus on the few things in my life worth savoring.  It’s a huge relief to know that the mistakes, eraser marks and all, are just part of this “blank page” anyway.

6 Comments

Filed under epiphany

miscommunication

I’ve come to realize that over half of my issues stem from the lurking source of miscommunication. Or lack of communication in its entirety. Or conflicting messages.

And it’s not just my issue; it seems to be an issue of several of my friends, J, family members, colleagues, and acquaintances as well.

We underestimate how easy it sounds to understand another person. And how easy it is to move past it and resolve the issue.

Well, it’s not.  At all.

1 Comment

Filed under epiphany, relationships

finding a home within a home

So I put off writing an entry explaining my whole San Francisco living situation for some time now.  I don’t even like discussing it in person; it’s almost like trying to explain to people why I had to let go of the “potential love of my life.”  Broken up before anything even got started!

It lasted less than a month, but it was a month packed with the excitement of exploring a new city.  A potential new home.  Evenings were fun because I could meet up with friends in the City for dinner to try out some new restaurants or explore a different district.  Weekends were devoted solely to discovering hidden pockets of the City; sometimes with visiting friends, other times alone.

Then there was the commute.  Waking up at 6:30am to catch the Caltrain, relaxing on board for about an hour as the Baby Bullet jetted across the Peninsula, then taking the Dash shuttle to work.  Total time was a grand two hours – each way.  It sounds awful, but was actually a highlight of my day.  I loved being able to spend mornings and early evenings reclined with a book in my seat, blasting the iPod, and not being in traffic.  My commute is what finally forced me to have that peaceful moment alone – to get away from the noise and stress of my daily life.

Of course, I couldn’t whisk away to San Francisco and pretend I didn’t leave a life behind.  I had abruptly taken a middle of the year “vacation” and reality was creeping in quickly.  I had sudden personal family matters to attend to, a boyfriend who was beginning to lose his patience with his temporary “long distance girlfriend”, and a demanding job in its peak program season.  What became clear to me were two choices: I could leave and make a new life, hoping that things will follow me.  Or I could make a new home for myself where my life currently exists.

I know a few friends and co-workers that had the courage to pick up and start a new life elsewhere.  Some a few hours away, some out of state and crossing from the East Coast to the West Coast, and even one who lived and worked in Europe and Asia.  The reasons why my friends moved vary –  school, career aspirations, a significant other, or no obligations.  I admit, I envied them.

Granted, San Francisco does not measure in the same scale as an international move.  But it’s not exactly down the block.  However, I soon found that the allure of SF to begin with – the vibrancy of an urban city, the exciting people, the arts & culture – didn’t quite measure up to the pieces I realized that I’d be missing.  A farther drive from my family & some close friends, evening activities spent calculating an hour commute home, and missing the opportunity to reaquaint myself with my home city.  One or two hours may not sound too long, but it feels painful compared to the proximity of being around loved ones within ten or fifteen minutes.  If I had to choose between commuting to the City to have fun versus commuting to see loved ones, the choice became obvious.  Within three weeks, I moved my belongings back to San Jose.  Everyone was surprised to see me come back so quickly; they all assumed the “trial month” would convince me to stay forever.  Truthfully, I’m still surprised, too.

And as J and I start talking more serioiusly about our rapidly approaching future, the glamour of living alone in the City has started to fade.  Why couldn’t we have a life here in San Jose?  Why not start something new here?  Which leads us to now… Instead of spending my weekends looking for new sights to discover (though I still do on occasion), we’re using that time to wander through model homes, comparing kitchens, wood flooring, and whether or not the walk-in closet is large enough for our taste.  And I’m loving every minute of it.  San Francisco will always be special, but it doesn’t always require moving away to start a whole new life.  As the past few months have shown me, J and I can plan for a new life together no matter where we are – even if it’s located in the same place we’ve always been.

4 Comments

Filed under city travels, epiphany, relationships