What I Learned About the Future of Design After Taking a Beginner’s Design Course

After I graduated from college, I felt a lack of fulfillment. I graduated with a B.A. in English and a minor in Film, Television and Digital Media from UCLA. I had completed 4 years of sleepless nights pouring over books, writing hundreds of essays ands studying for exam material that would still remain in my memory long after the class ended. But it wasn’t enough. The lack of fulfillment stemmed from a strong desire to learn more and gain from this world. I did not want to be complacent after graduation. I wanted to continue improving myself as a creator, an artist and a human.

I never had the opportunity to learn about design in college even though it was something I was interested in, so when I realized that I could take a FREE UCLA Extension course as a new UCLA alumnus, I took the chance and enrolled. I was hungry to learn more and to hone what little design skills I had.

Little did I know that this small beginner’s class on design fundamentals would teach me major lessons for not only the world of design, but for the future of design and for a creative lifestyle.

1. Every design tells a story.

In every design, there is a grid, a hierarchy and a focal point. The hierarchy establishes a clear structure from beginning to end while the focal point is the part of the design that is most important. Sounds like storytelling to me. Each design has its own unique story. For example, this simple typographic design below has all of the basic story elements and tells a simple and straightforward story of a runner through photographic and typographic design elements.

By: Rui Ribeiro. Design from http://designspiration.net/image/423769913878/

The story of a design can even be as abstract such as this next example, which tells a story through a mixture of photographic and geometric elements. The combination of the bird looking up, the building sky-rise, the mountainous object and the face all create an abstract story of these seemingly random elements coming together in unity and harmony. It’s not a typical story, but it is there, ready for you to take it as it is.

By: Maan Ali. Design from https://www.inspirationde.com/image/70857/

2. Formstorming forces you outside of your comfort zone and into a greater creative space.

Formstorming is an act of visual thinking. It is an unrestricted flow of ideas that are developed from one idea to the next. Before taking this design course, I never knew there was even a term that described this act — I usually just call it “brainstorm vomiting”. But the act of formstorming forces you out of your usual ideas and into more original thinking. My required design reading for the class sums it up well: “This level of immersion yields an unexpected and profound return on the creative investment.” (Lupton and Phillips 13). One of my first assignments for my design class was to create 100 iterations through the process of formstorming. This allowed me to create objects that I didn’t know I could create.

Created by me for my Design Fundamentals course

3. Color is an emotion.

Designs have the ability to evoke feelings and emotion, and part of the reason is due to color, or even the absence of it. The use of color is a way to affect perception and impression. It breathes life to the design and contributes to the storytelling process. The best of thing about color is that there are millions of color schemes and color models to help you create the emotions in your design. My favorite use of color is this example below. It creatively uses color that evokes a dream-like state.

By: LBTOMA. Design from https://www.design-seeds.com/in-nature/heavens/color-dream-11/

4. There is intention in design.

In design, nothing is ever there on accident. The grid, the color scheme, the hierarchy — it is all intentional and is meant to be there to create the story that the designer wants to tell. The lines going down this design is purely intentional.

Design from http://abmsnow.com/great-advertising-techniques/

5. Once you are a master of the rules, learn how to break them.

The fundamental rules of design are all key to understanding what design is and how to use it. However, once you have learned everything you need to know about design, you have the choice to break the rules. The fundamentals of design are merely a mold for budding designers to grow into. Once they have learned everything they need to know, they have the choice to break the rules and the mold. Once they’re broken, that is when creativity and innovation can manifest. That is the future of design.

I am eternally grateful to UCLA for the past four years of my undergraduate education. Without it, I would not have been able to take this design class and learn everything I needed to know about design and that it’s okay to break the rules. The future of design lies in the students who are willing to learn for life. It is only then that we can take the chance and be innovative and creative designers.

This blog post is a part of Design Blogger Competition organized by CGTrader.
Citations
Lupton, E., & Phillips, J. C. (2015). Graphic design: the new basics. New York: Princeton Architectural Press.

10 Things I Would Repeat in Japan

All the months of dreaming, watching travel vlogs, admiring photos and reading every resource I could find on the internet filled my brain as the realization hit me — the dream of going to Japan was finally coming to life.

I could still feel the sensation of the airplane hitting land after 11 hours of being airborne. I was sleep deprived, jet lagged and tired, but I was more than ready to get off the plane. As I finally walked off the plane and onto Japan land, I couldn’t think of a better way to start this trip than with the amount of intention and excitement that I had inside of me.

That happiness and excitement led me to a series of wonderful experiences and moments in Japan. To say the least, my Japan trip was enriching, exhilarating and rejuvenating. Everything about the country is so intrinsically different from the US that I find myself thinking about going back to relive this beautiful country.

I could write about all of the different things I did in Japan, but to sum it up, here are the 10 favorite things I did during my 10 day stay in Japan and that I would 100% do again when I go back to Japan.

1. Go to Tokyo Dome.

When my travel group and I got off the Metro stop, we finally entered the Tokyo Dome area — and I was shocked. Tokyo Dome was a sweeping entertainment city. Not only does it consist of the literal dome, which houses the indoor theme park, bowling alley, batting cage, observatory and SEGA arcade games, it also includes the attractions outside of the dome, which features a roller coaster, ferris wheel, various carnival games and a sizable shopping center with plenty of places to eat and shop. The outer section of the Tokyo Dome reminds me a lot of the Santa Monica Pier, minus the pier and the ocean and the added bonus of being in the heart of Japan. I spent my birthday night exploring, trying the boba, and enjoying the view from the ferris wheel. It was a beautiful end to my birthday night.

2. Eat at every single ramen restaurant imaginable.

The first ramen shop I went to coincidentally was one of the best ramen places I had visited in Japan. We were tired, jet lagged and starving, so we went to the first ramen restaurant we could find next to our AirBnB in the Nakano neighborhood. The ramen restaurant was called Musashiya Nagano Honten, which was made more enticing due to the sign at the front that said, “Foreigners welcome.” It was our very first time using a vending machine to order ramen, which is actually a very popular device in many Japanese restaurants. I ordered the Tonkotsu, which is ramen marinated in pork bone. I took the slip from the vending machine, sat down at the bar and handed the chefs my slip. Before I knew it, I was immediately served a steaming bowl of Tonkotsu ramen. I took one sip of the hot, flavorful broth and, at that moment, I couldn’t think of a better first meal in Japan.

 

My next favorite ramen place was actually stumbled upon by accident. We were walking around Shibuya, hungry, when we spotted a bright red sign and a menu with delicious images of ramen. We were sold! Little did we know that this place was coincidentally one of the most popular, authentic Japanese ramen restaurants — Ichiran. Social media touts Ichiran as “an introvert’s dream”. And it truly is. After I made my order on the vending machine, I was taken to a cubby seat and filled out a form that listed preferences for the ramen (noodle and broth consistency, spice level, etc.). In front of the cubby was small window with blinds. I placed the form and my order slips in front of the window and serves immediately opened the blinds to receive them. In a short amount of time, two sturdy hands served me a fresh bowl of ramen, filled with the preferences I listed. They shut the blinds for added privacy, leaving me alone with my delicious Tonkotsu ramen.

3. Visit Family Mart and Lawson every morning.

My typical morning routine consisted of one main thing: a trip to Family Mart or Lawson. These two are one of the most popular convenience stores in Japan, next to 7-Eleven. What’s different about these convenience stores are the types of food and beverages they offer. I came here because I loved the variety of breakfast items such as sandos (sandwiches) or onigiri, and latte cups, which were easily my favorite things from the store. I also came here a lot for the unique, Japanese snacks, basic grocery items and, of course, the alcohol.

4. Feed the deer at Nara Park.

After what felt like a long day of traveling to Kyoto and Nara, we finally made it to Nara Park, which was one of my Japan bucket list items. Nara Park is home to thousands of wild sika deer, who roam freely around the park and even several parts of the city. They are considered to be “friendly” since they are easily fed by humans, but I wouldn’t necessarily call them friendly. When I bought crackers from one of the vendors in Nara, a swarm of young deer immediately tried to nab away at the crackers. When I ran away, one of them jumped to where my hand was and knocked the crackers out of my hand! So much for “friendly”. However, I learned the trick. You must bow to them, like a hippogriff, and they bow right back in order to take the cracker from your hand. It took me an hour to get used to feeding them, but the process was fun and phenomenal.

5. Play at Taito Game Station in Shinjuku.

The first time we visited Shinjuku, I was elated. It was our first day and I was beginning to experience Tokyo’s vibrance and energy. I was open to explore and try anything in Shinjuku. The first thing my group and I immediately saw was Taito Game Station, which was spelled out in bold white lettering against a bright red, six-story high building. Taito Game Station is an arcade gamer’s dream. There were hundreds of games imaginable — claw games, claw games, multiplayer games, racing games, arcade games and pachinko/slot machine-like games for adults to gamble their money away. I tried (and failed) to win a prize from the claw game, won 2nd place in the life size Tsum Tsum arcade game and played a pachinko medal game for the first time. Despite the money lost, I would do it all over again for the experience.

6. Use the vending machines.

One of the most unique things about Japan is their vending machines, which can be found on every corner. Although every vending machine possesses similar things, each are uniquely different and may carry items that the vending machine across the street may not have. It’s almost like a scavenger hunt when you visit each machine — what does this have to offer? My favorite drinks were Pocari Sweat and their different fruit flavored carbonated drinks. It was like candy in a drink!

7. Visit an onsen.

Left. Left. Right. Left again. After many turns into alleys upon alleyways, we finally found what we were looking for – Jakotsuyu, an onsen. Unlike most traditional onsens, however, this onsen accepted tattoos. We were lucky — Austin found this randomly online while we were researching different onsens to try and we thought, “Why not?” Gratefully, the indoors onsen is foreigner friendly and knew enough English for us to pay at the front desk and grab a towel, which they graciously offered. The process is that you go inside, strip your clothes and place them in a locker, wash yourself in the publish showers using only soap and water and walk out naked into the tub of natural hot spring water. As I let my whole body soak, I felt waves of relaxation caress my body, rubbing away any anxiety away and leaving behind a sense of contentment.

Photo from http://tokyostory.net/sento/jakotsuyu/

8. Visit Shinto and Buddhist shrines.

I was raised Catholic, so I knew nothing about the Shinto and Buddhist religions that permeated Japanese culture. Visiting the Sensō-ji and the Fushimi Inari-taisha shrines in Japan felt very refreshing and even welcoming. Although there were many tourists in each of these shrines, I found comfort in the fact that people around the world were being exposed to something that was not familiar to them. We were all learning and discovering a culture that was much different from what we were used to. I paid my respects to each shrine and followed and learned some of the rituals that were practiced. There was immense power and presence in each shrine and I couldn’t help but feel amazed and blessed at having the opportunity to experience it.

9. Go to Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea.

When Austin and I got off the Metro and walked towards the Disneyland Gateway Station, I knew we were already in for a treat. We weren’t disappointed. Both DisneySea and Tokyo Disneyland were phenomenal attractions. The first thing we saw when we walked in to Disney Sea was a large fountain with an even larger rotating globe in the middle. That globe eluded to the whole park — DisneySea essentially combined multiple parts of the world and placed them into its corner of the park. Instead of a typical castle, there was a large volcano right in the middle of the park that would periodically explode every so often. We rode on a lot of thriller rides such as Tower of Terror and Raging Spirit, and even bought some delicious mochi balls.

After spending some time in DisneySea, we bought a Starlight Passport after 6PM to visit Tokyo Disneyland at a discounted price. Although most of the rides are the same as the Disneyland in Anaheim, the space and decor are very different. Main Street was decked with beautiful strips of color in celebration of Tanabata, a holiday that celebrates two star crossed lovers and their ability to grant wishes. Although they didn’t have a fireworks show like we had expected, we watched a fantastic light show, which was a beautiful thing to witness with my own eyes.

10. Go to Tokyo Tower.

I arrived to Tokyo Tower, not expecting much after several disappointed visits to the Tokyo Government Building and the Skytree. Both were incredible monuments, but I felt they did not warrant another visit from me. However, there was something magical about Tokyo Tower when I finally arrived at the top. The view of the skylines were at a perfect level to take photos and just admire the sunset. The best part was that there were absolutely no clouds. It was a gorgeous moment shared between myself and the Tokyo sunset. For that reason, I would come back in a heart beat.

  

What I Learned One Year After College Graduation

One year ago, I was standing under the lights of Pauley Pavilion, my robe swishing behind me, my decorated cap on my head. A nervous energy was bubbling up inside of me as I was surrounded by likeminded individuals who were all here for the exact same reason as me — to graduate from UCLA as the Class of 2016. The pent up excitement released and drowned my nerves as I turned the tassel on my cap to the left. From that moment, the rest of my life began.

Since then, real life has shown its true colors and provided me with its fair share of life lessons outside of the classroom. Although I owe a lot of what I know now to UCLA, here are some of the life lessons that I learned and cultivated in my first year as a post-graduate that I would not have known as an undergrad.
  1. Invest in yourself.

    College institutions can be draining and exhausting, both mentally and physically. But with college done, you can really spend time to use that mental and physical energy and focus on yourself. Take time to reflect and think about what you want to do now to make your present and future self happy. What are the areas in your life you want to nourish or improve on? Personally, I invest in myself by following a morning routine, practicing mindfulness and doing hot yoga. Whatever it is that you want to do to invest in yourself, just remember that the next couple of years should be all about developing yourself into the best possible version.

  2. Do what brings you joy and eliminate the things that don’t.

    This life is too short to not do things that bring you joy. If you don’t know what sparks joy inside of you, here is a simple exercise: write down everything that makes you happy and joyful, then write down the things that don’t bring you joy. Deep down, you know what you love and what brings you joy, but it takes recognition and acknowledgement to understand them. Ultimately, those will be the things that fuel you throughout the rest of your post-grad days, and will empower you to use your gifts and talents to share to the world. As Marie Kondo said in her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, “Keep only those things that speak to your heart. Then take the plunge and discard all the rest. By doing this, you can reset your life and embark on a new lifestyle.”

  3. Mistakes are meant to be learned from.

    Just because you have a college degree and 4 years of college experience under your belt doesn’t mean you won’t make more mistakes, because you definitely will. And that’s completely fine. As long as you do not dwell on it and instead use it as a lesson in your life, it is perfectly fine to make mistakes. Stephen R. Covey said in his book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, “Our response to any mistake affects the quality of the next moment. It is important to immediately admit and correct our mistakes so that they have no power over that next moment and we are empowered again.”

  4. You will always be a student for life.

    Learning never stops outside of the classroom. There is so much in life to learn, and luckily, we live in an era where education is at our fingertips. Just scroll through the millions of YouTube tutorials that are out there. I personally owe a lot of my knowledge to the internet, and I constantly use it as a resource to learn about things I’m interested in that I couldn’t learn as an English major, such as graphic design and brand building. Recently, I completed my first UCLA Extension course on Design Fundamentals, and it was all for free since I graduated from UCLA (here is the link if you are a UCLA alumnus as well!). There are tons of resources for free online courses besides YouTube, such as Lynda.com, Udemy.com and Skillshare.com (I just recently got 2 free months of Skillshare Premium from Lavendaire, who is also a big advocate of being a student for life. Check out her video if you’re interested!). There is so many resources and different opportunities to take advantage of, so soak it up as much as you can in this life.

  5. Friendships are no longer “convenient”. You truly have to make an effort.

    Sometimes we may be lucky to see some of our old college friends every once in awhile, but the truth is, you are no longer part of a college bubble where your friends are easily accessible. Convenience is no longer something you have when it comes to those friendships. If you want to foster relationships, you have to make a true effort to see and talk to them. It gets more difficult when you start a full-time job and start investing in your life because that means less chances of seeing your friends. As a result, you will most likely not be as close to your college friends as before. To prevent complete erasure though, carve out time out of your week or month to catch up with an old friend and grab dinner to continue building those relationships. It may be hard to find time that works best for both parties but even without the convenience, it’s not impossible to keep those life-long friendships.

  6. Reflection helps create clarity and reach goals.

    The future is not constant, and sometimes things don’t go your way. But reflection really allows you to step back and take a look at what you have been doing so far in your life and how you can adjust and improve. Making reflection a daily habit has been known to develop a clearer sense of mind and self, improved productivity, and higher rate of success. For 2017, I started practicing monthly reflections in my Passion Planner and have always found it helpful to look myself from the inside out and dive deep into how I can better myself.

  7. Find time to live new experiences.

    Life can get mundane once you’re in the work force, so make sure that you spend time to travel and live new experiences. Go to Coachella, check out the free concert series at Santa Monica, be a tourist in your own city, fly out to Portland or Seattle for the weekend. Work should not be meant to only pay the bills and make a sustainable living. You should also use the money to color and enrich your life with experiences and memories. When you think about this long term, carving out time for new experiences refreshes your mind, improves creativity and work ethic, and inspires you to try more new things and explore new passions.

  8. Save, save, save!

    This is something that I still struggle with, but saving is such an important facet of adulthood. You can no longer rely on financial aid every quarter to uplift your bank account every time you’re in a rut. When you get your paycheck, make it a habit to put 10-20% of that money to your savings. Have saving goal buckets so that you have something to pool from when you need it for a specific reason. My paycheck automatically deducts 20% of the money to go towards my travel fund and emergency fund. It’s a bit of a pain, but your future self will send you lots of love for it.

  9. Sometimes serendipity comes out to play. Enjoy it.

    As much as we can plan for our day, our week, our lives, life can still throw curveballs at you and unravel your plans. They can be annoying and discouraging, but sometimes it can be a beautiful addition to the value and meaning of life. Besides, what is life without the struggle? We would just be stagnant and lifeless without anything to learn from. So enjoy that serendipitous moment when it comes and appreciate the fact that it’s happening and enriching your life.

  10. You can live day by day, but don’t forget to think of the bigger picture.

    It’s easy to get caught up in the daily 9-5 and just go home and mindlessly scroll through social media or watch Netflix without a care in the world. Take time during your week or month to sit down and make a plan of what you want to do in one year, in 5 years, and even 10 years. For me, this has always been a difficult thing to do since I can barely plan my week, but it’s so important to think about the vision you have in your life and to not forget about what you truly want out of life. Simply writing down where you visualize yourself in 5 years is enough to help you think bigger picture.

  11. Community is out there, as long as you ask and seek for it.

    Community was the biggest thing that got me through college, so when I graduated, the biggest transitionary struggle I faced as a post-grad was the lack of community. I used to have spaces where I felt grounded in solidarity and comfort. It was a place of belonging. I spent a good deal of my first year of post-grad seeking communities in alumni networks, camp counselor sessions, dance classes, yoga classes, blogs and YouTube channels. Eventually I found a sense of community in places I never thought I would — my old friends and my work team. Community is out there if you are looking for it, it just takes more effort to put in those same community values you’ve learned from your experiences into new spaces.

  12. We have time. Take advantage of it.

    Be proactive and take initiative of your time. It’s hard to believe this, but our 20s is filled with time and space to learn something new, to find a new trajectory for our life, to find and grow new passions. All you have to do is start now. So go out there and show the world your worth!

Thank you for reading, and congratulations to the class of 2017! If you have any other lessons you have learned after graduation, or even from life, let me know in the comments! 🙂

The Biggest Millennial Soul-Searching Question I Asked Myself

When I started this blog, it was meant to be a space to showcase my travels, to express myself creatively and to share the life lessons of a millennial fresh out of college. Right after I graduated, I looked forward to writing about my experiences and putting my thoughts and opinions out there for the interweb on Skyline Soul

However, life has been putting me in a weird funk lately. I have been in a constant period of re-evaluating and re-assessing my life decisions, and I realized my heart was tugging me in different directions when it came to pursuing the things I was passionate about. This led to the decision to take a small break from blogging and social media. I enrolled in an online Design Fundamentals course from UCLA Extensions. I started getting more involved with hot yoga at Core Power and fell so in love with the practice that I extended my membership there. After Coachella this year, I worked on editing a vlog, which was something I hadn’t done in months and what I wanted to pick back up again. I was exploring and soaking in all my learnings and experiences. And why shouldn’t I? As a 22 year old who spent the last 4 years of college balancing multiple extracurriculars, internships and part time jobs, this exploration period was natural to me.

But then one day, I was faced with the biggest soul-searching question of my post-grad life. “Am I an expert at the things that I love to do?”

I was stumped. I thought of everything that I loved to do and what I thought I was good at. Some things that came to mind were photography, videography, editing, writing, storytelling and design. But the love and the levels of expertise were not aligned. To say I was an expert at all would be an exaggeration. I was too well-rounded to be good at anything.

I came to an answer and conclusion: I have no expertise in anything, especially in the things I love the most. I love all things creative, but to call myself an expert in any of the things I loved would be a lie.

The only thing I can call myself is a jack of all trades, a master of none.

At first, my immediate reaction to this new revelation was to internally panic. Most people my age or younger were already so skilled in their craft of choice. I knew plenty of my peers who already spent years working on a wide portfolio of artwork to showcase. They cultivated their interests into something that could be worthwhile.

However, I realized that I was falling for the comparison trap. My peers’ journeys are different from mine. “A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it. It just blooms.” I am still continuing to grow during this process of adulting, and I have no regrets with how I spent my 4 years of college. Every moment of exploration was my own way of cultivating my interests. In the end, I am happy to have learned and dabbled in the things that interested me, and I am proud of myself for taking the leap to try and make this blog a valuable resource to the lifestyle and travel community.

My goal now is to finish my design course, flourish my creative visual photography skills through Instagram, become more involved in the YouTube community, and blog once or twice a month when another travel adventure comes up. For now, I want to prioritize my personal life, my full-time job and my interests and passions that I feel will matter the most to me before I broaden my horizons with my blog.

This is not a goodbye, but rather a departing, stepping stone to become the best possible version of myself.

If you have read this far, I have a challenge for you — what are you an expert at? That’s great! Continue to cultivate that area, or step out of your comfort zone and find something new. You will be surprised at the high level of expertise you can hone in life.

Thank you for reading and enjoy the rest of your days! ❤️

A Weekend at Coachella Valley Music Festival

After 4 years of admiring past line ups, poring over my friends’ pictures of Coachella and watching countless videos of what the Coachella experience is, I finally got to experience it for myself this year. Of course, the media can only do so much to capture these moments since it is honestly something that needs to be truly experienced, but I wanted to document some of the beautiful moments and struggles that made this first Coachella experience something special.

So if you are curious, here’s a break down of what happened!

THURSDAY

PRE-COACHELLA // CAMPING

TL;DR: We left Los Angeles at 5:00AM to get a camp spot at Lot 5, met some really cool and friendly camping neighbors, slept a LOT and explored the Coachella camping grounds.

My boyfriend Austin and I left Los Angeles at around 5AM and managed to get a decent spot in Lot 5, which is only a 5-10 minute walk from the venue. We got two camping spots stacked on top of each other, so we had plenty of room for both of our cars, three canopies and one huge 8-person tent.

One of the best things about camping at Coachella is the sense of community. It seemed that it obvious from the start to our neighbors that Austin and I were camping newbies at Coachella, but they were very welcoming and offered to help us set up our canopies and tent. We learned that one of our neighbors was from Arizona and the others were from near Santa Barbara. It still astounds me that so many people from all over the country, and even the world, come to Coachella.

After we set up the campsite and recovered from our early morning excursion, we checked out the camping grounds and the camping center, which is the central hub for all of the Coachella campers. We found all the amenities such as the general store, food trucks, booths, artworks and an activities tent chockfull of things to do during our weekend stay. They also had a huge dome like structure with millions of lights for their silent and not so silent disco.

FRIDAY

DAY 1

TL;DR: Day 1 SUCKED due to various reasons: a strong special brownie, dehydration, grogginess, hunger and boyfriend almost passing out from all of the above. Aka Coachella: 1 // Us: 0

The rest of my group finally joined us for Day 1, excited for the weekend to start. Little did we know that this day would be a complete shit show.

We left the venue pretty early in the afternoon (around 1 or 2PM). This turned out to be the HOTTEST time of the day. Five minutes into walking towards the venue and sweat was already dripping down my back. In addition to the intense heat, we had also eaten a special brownie before leaving. This made us tired and groggy the entire day.

To get a sense of what the tiredness and grogginess looked like, here is a picture of us napping in the Gobi tent. Shout out to the Gobi tent for being our home base at Coachella!

Because of the heat and the grogginess, Austin almost passed out due to dehydration during Francis and the Light’s set (very cool set, btw. I’m a fan). This was probably the worst thing that could ever happen on the first day of my first Coachella, but luckily the Coachella community looked out for us. Some passersby gave him water and calmed both of us down, while the security guards that were posted told us to get rest in the shade. I guided Austin out of the Gobi tent and into the shade next to the misting fans, which thankfully helped him a lot.

Day 1 was also the day that I blew too much money on unhealthy, overpriced food. I remember eating an oily Cuban sandwich, Monster fries and a corn dog.

To be completely honest, I was so tired and sleepy by nighttime that I hardly remembered the xx’s set except for Intro. I also remember attending Travis Scott’s set and hearing him say, “I better see all y’all mofo’s getting in that mosh pit.”

And that was it. By the end of the day, I could sense that the overall mood of the group was ending on a negative note. Despite the day’s events, I still hoped that the rest of the weekend would be better.

  

SATURDAY

DAY 2

TL;DR: This day was so much better than Day 1! Top highlights for this day were seeing Two Door Cinema Club, Bon Iver and Lady Gaga live. Also, shout out to our “sugar daddy”, Ricky, for hooking us up with drinks.

After the dreadfulness of Friday, my group and I took what we learned from Day 1 and started it on a better note. We drank alcohol and took *other* recreational goods that would not have us tired and groggy like the brownie. We arrived at the venue much later in the day (around 4PM). We were immediately introduced to our “sugar daddy”, Ricky. Surprisingly, he got us all drinks at the Absolut tent (I’m still not sure how we ended up getting there).

Much of the day was spent taking lots of pictures of each other and of the artwork, trying out moscow mule ice cream, hopping on to the massive ferris wheel and experiencing dope sets from Two Door Cinema Club, Future, Bon Iver and Lady Gaga. I made sure to keep myself awake by drinking coffee and only spent money on one overpriced order of two small Pilipino fusion tacos (can’t really avoid overpriced food at this point).

Day 2 was hands down better than Day 1, and by the time I fell asleep, I was excited to see what Day 3’s adventures would bring.

  

SUNDAY

DAY 3

TL;DR: SO LIT! This day convinced me to come back again and re-experience another crazy Coachella weekend. Top highlights: Kendrick’s set, The Antarctica dome and our amazing camping neighbors for helping my jump my car.

Day 3 was honestly the perfect end to a crazy, illuminating first Coachella experience. I’m not sure how to put it into words, but I will try.

We made sure to check out places that we couldn’t get to go to during the past couple of days, such as the Sephora booth and The Antarctica dome. The 360 visual experience inside the dome, Chrysalis, was so incredible that I saw it again at the end of the night.

The line up was incredibly stacked, starting with Mura Masa at the start of our day, and Porter Robinson and Madeon later during the night, which was an incredible last performance even while sober. Austin and I *dropped* during this set and it finally kicked in once it ended. We jumped around from Hans Zimmer, Lorde, Kehlani and finally, Kendrick Lamar. I wish I could fully describe Kendrick’s set into words to recreate the experience, but these things are better experienced in person. AKA go to Coachella next year to experience the wonders of live music while on another level!

Unfortunately, the night did not end without a hiccup. It turned out that the battery for my car died over the weekend, so I turned to a camping neighbor who happened to be awake at 2:30AM. Not only did she have jumper cables, but she also offered to drive her car over to mine and help us figure out how to jump it (we were all had 0 experience with jumping cars). After poring over the manual and getting all the cables to link up to the correct spots, my car was brought back to life.

And so the hiccup faded and as we fell asleep, we left the serendipitous weekend behind us.

THE LESSON

Every trip has a lesson, and as I drove down the 10 Higway with music from the Coachella weekend flooding through my veins, I finally realized the purpose behind this experience. At the Antarctica, the 360* visual experience called Chrysalis shows incredible visuals that replicate a metamorphosis. I realized that Coachella was exactly what Chrysalis was – a metamorphic experience that acts as a vehicle for self-discovery, renewal, and creation of new life and feelings. Despite the obvious struggles at the beginning of the weekend, the music and the good vibes from the great people I was surrounded with uplifted everyone’s spirits. The weekend could not have ended on a more rejuvenated and refreshing note.

Coachella also introduced me to drug culture in music festivals, and helped me fully recognize it on another level. It’s something that is not spoken about explicitly, but it is still silently appreciated and understood.

All of these moments and memories have made me excited to see what the next Coachella will bring.

Overall — Coachella, I am ready for you next year!

If you have read this far, thank you so much for being interested and curious about my journey at Coachella. Please leave a comment below if you went to Coachella this year, or let me know if you’ve ever had a “metamorphic” experience similar to this. I know I have been on a small hiatus, but I promise to have more blog content (and hopefully more video content as well). Stay tuned!

Why Decluttering Your Mind Is Important For Your Mental Health

April is finally among us and I’m so excited to kick off this new month with the things I learned from last month. The overall theme for March was to “be minimal”. I really took that to heart since embracing a more minimal lifestyle is one of my goals for 2017. I learned that being minimal does not necessarily mean upending your whole apartment and getting rid of everything in your life. It goes beyond that through minimizing the clutter in your mental space and putting more intention into your thoughts and actions.

After completing MuchelleB’s Simplify Your Life Challenge and reflecting on this past month, I realized that decluttering your mental space is just as important as decluttering your physical space. Here are some reasons why.

You will know what makes you happy.

To put it simply, figuring out the diversification of your happiness is the first step to sifting through the junk in your mind. This article from YesandYes really opened up my eyes to what diversifying your happiness means and how you can define what that for yourself.

To get an idea of that “diversified happiness”, here are some of the things that make me happy:
  • Walking into an open, spacious cafe, ordering tea or a white mocha latte, and sitting down at a spacious table with plenty of outlets to get work done.
  • Having an intense work out at Flywheel or Core Power and feeling like I destroyed my body but also strengthened it.
  • Editing and completing a video and feeling happy with the final result
  • Engaging in deep conversations with friends at random places like Panda Express

You have a clearer picture of what you should give no f*cks about.

Let’s be real — caring too much about certain things really takes up a lot of mental energy. In reality, it’s better to literally not give a f*ck about what you truly don’t care about. It helps to clear up your mental space and eliminate unnecessary overthinking. The trick to this is to write down everything that comes to mind that you are unsure about, and make the final decision whether to care or not. For me, I have fully decided to not care about what other people think and disregard people that do not add value in my life.

You are grateful for the smallest things.

Gratitude is such an important part of mental decluttering. When you practice gratitude, you see life through a different perspective and learn to understand that although life can get hard, there are still reasons to wake up every day and to still love the life we live. Practicing gratitude helps when you get very specific. It can be simple as, “I am grateful for the smell of candles in the morning” or as specific as, “I am grateful for my mom for cooking Pilipino food when I visit.”

You become smarter with your finances.

Finances is a struggle for everyone, and worrying about money takes up so much mental space. The best thing to do is to tackle it straight on. Engage with your bank statements, figure out what expenses you need to invest in, come up with a robust savings plan and stick to the budget. Keeping to a system will ultimately clear off the weight on your shoulders and free your mind for other important matters.

You eliminate negative attitudes.

It’s so hard to fully take out the negative attitudes and mindsets that infiltrate our brains, but identifying them and targeting them so that they phase out is the first step to eliminating it. Once you identify that negative attitude, figure out the reasons why your brain sticks to it and combat it with evidence that proves the opposite of that negative mindset.

Your goals are clearer and you stay true to your commitments.

I personally have so many goals that sometimes I don’t even know which one to tackle first. There are so many things I love to do and I want to do it all. But the truth is, there is only so much your body can handle without burning out. Respect your goals, commitments and body by prioritizing, figuring out what should take more importance and sacrificing anything that shouldn’t take up time throughout your day or scheduling it for later in the week. Ask yourself what the intention is behind the commitments you have and if it is worth it for you. This will create more long term efficiency and happiness.

You are present minded and mindful.

Sometimes for me, the future is constantly looming ahead of me and the past is always haunting behind me. Honestly, none of it matters because we are living in the now. The future and the past do not affect how you can take action in the present. We sometimes forget that we are in control of the driver’s wheel and that the past and future should only serve as guiding points. Some ways you can practice mindfulness is to check in with your body every once in awhile and try out meditation. (Headspace is a great app if you want to start!)

You take care of yourself and your general wellbeing. 

Mental decluttering teaches you how to take better care of yourself and how to love yourself, which ultimately leads to a well-balanced, beautiful life. Soon you will live the best possible version of yourself after take the time to mentally declutter.

The Simplify Your Life Challenge is officially over for me, but the journey to continue decluttering both my physical and mental spaces is just beginning.

Thank you for reading ❤️ Let me know in the comments if you have any other ways of decluttering your mind and body! I’d love to hear more.

My Top 10 Favorite Podcasts

Ever since I started working full-time, podcasts have become an essential part of my daily work life. As part of my 9-5, I perform weekly and daily tasks with my eyes glued to the computer. This allows my brain to settle into a groove and go about my work routine. Usually I listen to music to keep me focused, but it tends to get repetitive. At some point, the beats just mindlessly pass through one ear and out the other.

And then, I discovered the biggest game changer — podcasts.

Podcasts are an incredible audio outlet for information. Not much effort is needed to digest a podcast. All you do is pop in your earphones and let the voices of different perspectives fill your ears. It’s a whole new world of opportunities to learn and grow. Now I don’t just listen to podcasts during work, I listen to it during long drives, when I’m doing chores, or when I’m casually browsing.

The volume of podcasts is a little overwhelming. Just take a look at iTunes’ massive library of podcasts. So if you want to do some exploring, start by choosing from my list of 10 favorite podcasts, divided into 5 different categories!

For Minimalism

  • The Minimalists Podcast. If you are curious about what minimalism is and how it can change your life, this podcast is a great start. The podcast is led by two self-proclaimed minimalists who shed insight on how minimalism can be implemented in your life. Although some episodes tend to sound like echo chambers, I find really amazing nuggets of information from these guys, which really helps me live a more intentional life. If you want to try this out, my favorites episodes are Career and Creating.
  • Lavendaire Lifestyle. The voice behind this podcast, Aileen Xu, has a beautiful mind, soul and heart. She is mostly known for her YouTube channel, but she also shares some of her knowledge in her podcast by talking about her experiences on life design, growth, minimalism, and love. As an “artist of life”, she strives to share experiences of how to design your dream life. She also interviews a wealth of people who are experts in life coaching, music, financial advising, food sustainability and tech! Not to mention, her voice is refreshing and her words of wisdom are definitely pieces of life advice I want to remember.

For Business Minds

  • Side Hustle Pro. If you want to know more about how to start and grow your own side hustle and want to learn from smart, young women of color, this podcast is for you! The host, Nicaila Matthews, talks about her experiences with side hustling and interviews relevant women of color in different sectors of the industry to talk about their own side hustle/business journey. It’s inspirational and informative!
  • The Asian American Voice. This podcast, told by life coach B.J. Kang, tells the nuanced experiences of Asian American industry professionals and how they aligned their passions with their career. I really love when the creative Asian American community combines forces to share their stories with the world since there is not much representation, so this is a huge favorite!
  • #Girlboss Radio. If you’re a fan of #GIRLBOSS, you’ll love this podcast by Sophia Amoruso. She brings in girl bosses from different industries around the world to share their stories on how they became girl bosses and advice they have for other girl bosses. As a girl boss myself, I love listening to these women killing it in the game and I feel so motivated after listening to an episode.

For Storytelling

  • The Bright Sessions. I recently finished season 2 and loved it! This complex, character driven story really shines in this podcast format. It’s entertaining and suspenseful, and you immediately start rooting for the characters. If you want some good audio drama, this one is for you.
  • The Truth. To me, The Truth is the closest thing to ear candy in the realm of podcasts. Both the story and the sound mixing is SO amazing. Each episode of this fiction storytelling podcast is standalone so you don’t have to watch in sequential order. Every story is different with specific characters, plot and setting. At the end of each episode, you get a feeling of wanting to listen more. If you’re down to try something a little dark, listen to Sleep Some More and The Dark End of the Mall.
  • The MillennialI recently started listening to this podcast by Megan Tan. It follows her story as she combats the struggles of going through your 20s after post-grad, which is exactly what I’m going through! Although Megan Tan has a specific way of looking through life that may differ from everyone (not wanting a corporate job, etc.), her experiences and insights she learns are valuable and relatable to all the millennials who just want guidance in life. This is a sequential series so listen to the first podcast to learn more!

For Audibly Pleasing Information

  • Radio Lab. This was the first podcast I ever listened to and invested time in! Radio Lab tells amazing stories of scientific phenomena and societal/political issues such as the effects of alpha-gal and euthanasia. I really enjoy listening to these topics because they’re things I would not have known unless I listened to this podcast. The structure, storytelling and audio mixing all combine to make one beautiful radio lab episode. If you want to start, I really enjoyed From Tree to Shining Tree and The Girl Who Doesn’t Exist.

For Culture

  • This Filipino American Life. This one is for the people who identify as Pilipino, or honestly just want to learn more about the Pilipino culture through the podcast medium. This podcast is told by a group of down-to-earth Pilipinos who sit down and have conversations about relevant topics that affect the Pilipino community. Some of the topics they discuss are Pilipino names, food, mental health and the Nursing field. I love that they have room to both be fun and serious in this podcast.
Hope this helps you kick off this beautiful journey of podcast exploring! If you have podcast suggestions, please let me know in the comments!
Talk soon ❤️

How to Physically Declutter | Simplify Your Life Challenge: Week 2

Hello lovelies! I’m wrapping up week 2 of the Simplify Your Life Challenge from MuchelleB and honestly — it’s been a long week! From balancing a crazy work schedule and keeping up with my personal and social life, it’s so difficult to find time to simplify. However, I can honestly say that despite the craziness of the week, week 2 is over and completed!

For this week, I prioritized categories and areas in my room that needed the most attention, so there were some items on this challenge I didn’t get around to doing. What matters to me about this challenge is that the most important areas are completed, so skipping on some areas that don’t need much attention is completely fine with me. Always modify challenges to help it better your lifestyle!
Without further ado, here is a recap of the decluttering that went down during week 2!

Digital Space

My main digital spaces are my work MacBook and my iPhone. Both of them were used to their capacity so I knew it was time to minimize. Since a lot of my work involves downloading and uploading large mp4 and PSD files, I started off by deleting most of my irrelevant downloads and freed up some space there. The bulk of my iPhone space was mostly due to old music I rarely listened to anymore and TONS OF PHOTOS. I am a complete photo hoarder and memory keeper, but to combat this I just uploaded all of my iPhone pictures onto Amazon Drive and deleted any unnecessary photos, music and apps.

Social Media

This is something I am honestly still working on. It’s hard to kill the social media addiction when it’s part of the job, but this article sheds insight on how to combat it. For me, I turned off notifications for all of my social media platforms, and unfollowed people that posted toxic or unnecessary things that did not bring me joy.

Makeup

For this category, I divided it in to several areas — my two makeup bags and my drawer. The drawer keeps the makeup that I don’t wear daily, while the two makeup bags hold items I use regularly. The black one holds larger items such as my contour kit and face powder, while the smaller one holds smaller items such as mascara, eyelash curler, eyeliner and brow pomade.

Beauty Products/Bathroom Essentials

I organized most of my regularly used beauty products in my bathroom cabinet. It still looks cluttered since it has limited space, but it does the job in keeping my bathroom counter clear and tidy. Regardless, I have found it easier to just grab what I need and replace it after I’m done. For beauty products I don’t use regularly, I place them in another drawer.

For items that I use every single day, I keep it in this handy basket from the Container Store (if you didn’t notice, I went on a huge shopping spree at the Container Store). This is where I keep some beauty essentials, contact solution, mouthwash and toothbrush.

 

Decor

There wasn’t much change for the decor in my room except for rearranging and buying storage items to make everything look more aesthetically pleasing. I have my painting from PaintNite lying against the wall that I have yet to hang, and a basket from the Container Store that holds my new jewelry box (also bought from the Container Store. Container Store is great, y’all). I also bought a cute fake plant and a warm, Cozy Nights candle from Target.

Sentimental items

I placed all of my sentimental items in a black storage bin on my drawer shelf. It’s accessible and easy to pull out when I want to reminisce.

Cleaning Supplies

My cleaning supplies used to be all over the place, but with the help of the trusty Container Store, I was able to place everything in their own sections so that they would be easier to find whenever I go cleaning. Bless the Container Store!
 

Nightstand Items

Not much changed here except for discarding, reorganizing and storing somethings in a mini basket I bought from Target.
 
Overall, I have to give a shout out to Target and the Container Store for providing me with the proper storage items to keep my room looking both tidy and aesthetic. I also got them at affordable prices since most of it was on sale, which is always amazing in my book.

Now that my room is finally at a place where I feel very happy with, I am transitioning on to simplifying mental clutter. My mind has been filled with project and content ideas, travel plans and future plans on top of work, family and social life, so a lot of things  tend to get lost. I hope that with the last few weeks of March, I will be able to hone things down and focus on the things that matter, which hopefully means more blog content!

Until next time <3

How to Physically Declutter | Simplify Your Life Challenge: Week 1

First week of Simply Your Life Challenge is DONE! If anyone has done challenges, then you’ll know the struggle of trying to keep up with it on the daily. For those that don’t know, I am taking part of the Simply Your Life Challenge, a minimalist challenge mostly created by MuchellebB. You can find my blog post about it here. I am currently Day 8 and I am 1 day behind schedule, but so far I am proud of myself for sticking through this challenge thus far and successfully self-pacing.

Day 2: Wardrobe

Process: I followed the KonMari method of putting each item of clothing in my hand and asking myself, “Does this spark joy?” I then divided it into four sections: “Discard”, “Maybe”, “Sell” and “Keep”. After dividing up the “Maybe” pile into one of the other 3 categories, I placed the discarded pile into bags and rearranged my closet. It is not at its optimal, but it is better than where it was before.

Day 3: Books

Process: This one was pretty easy since I don’t have my whole book collection here in my apartment. I discarded books I had no intentions of reading/sparked no joy (only 1 book) and rearranged the rest so that they were organized by size.

Day 4: Physical Paper

Process: This was the most time consuming category so far. My desk and side drawers were piled with papers I hadn’t bothered to touch for the last 6 months. My whole floor was covered in paper bills, old letters and miscellaneous papers by the time I had gone through all of my desk drawers. After discarding about 80% of it and keeping the important files in a folder, my desk looked and felt so much lighter!

Day 5: Stationery

Process: Fortunately I don’t have too many stationery items. It was just a matter of putting them all together and organizing my drawer so that they fit easily.

Day 6: Electronics

Process: This also wasn’t too bad of a category. Most of my electronics were in this drawer anyway so I just gathered all of my electronics in one place and organized as best as I could. It’s definitely not organized in the best way, but as long as everything fits, I’m okay with it.

Decluttering is NOT a joke. It can take hours, even days, before you have officially decluttered a space. At the same time, it feels very cathartic to trash the things that don’t add value in my life and keep the things that do.

I hope this challenge recap was helpful in figuring out how the decluttering process works! Here’s to continuing on this journey to simplifying life and to getting more of my life together.

March: The Month of Minimalism

February 2017 has officially ended! After my monthly reflection time, I realized February was a very good month for me in terms of keeping up with my blog. Moving forward I hope to keep the momentum going and improving this blog/brand I’ve created. So if you are reading…THANK YOU SO MUCH AND I HOPE YOU’VE LEARNED SOMETHING!

While there were definitely a lot of wins, there were also some setbacks. Basically, I’m at a point in my life where I feel so cluttered. My physical and mental spaces are all over the place right now as I try to juggle my personal life, work life and my side hustle. The only way I will be able to set my life in order is to find a way to simplify.

That is why for the month of March, I have decided to focus on minimalism to focus on things that matter to me. One of my 2017 goals is to embrace a more minimalist lifestyle, so this new focus for March will hopefully lead me in that direction! One actionable item that I plan to do to accomplish this is the 30 Day Simplify Your Life Challenge!

What Exactly is Minimalism?

I think the common misconception is that minimalism consists of monochromatic colors, white space, and possessing very little items. While this has been popularized all over the media, there’s more to it than the appearances. At it’s core, minimalism is living simply and intentionally. It is keeping things in your life that spark joy and getting rid of the things that no longer serve a purpose to you. Although this lifestyle is mainly dominant with white folks, minimalism is a universal philosophy that anyone can adopt. Everyone can benefit from discarding things that have no longer have meaning or do not bring joy. If you want more resources, I highly suggest checking out the perspectives of The Minimalists and Lavendaire, who are key influencers that motivated me to pursue minimalism.

This year I have been slowly embracing this idea of minimalism and creating an intentional, meaningful life for myself. I started listening to several episodes of The Minimalist podcast, reading The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Mari Kondo and following bloggers and vloggers that are experts in the subject. Very recently, I came across a YouTuber named Muchelleb and her 30 Day Simplify Your Life Challenge. Out of all of the minimalism challenges I’ve researched, I thought hers suited my needs the best and was simple enough (haha) to try for 30 days.

What is the 30 Day Simplify Your Life Challenge?

MuchelleB sums it up nicely in her video and blog, but basically Days 1-14 of the challenge will focus on physical decluttering through the Kon-Mari Method (based on The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up) and Days 15-30 will be dedicated to decluttering your mental space.
30 Day Simplify Challenge from muchelleb

If you’re interested in participating in the challenge, it’s not too late to join me! You don’t actually declutter anything on the first day since it is dedicated to setting your intentions, or as Mari Kondo puts it in her book, visualizing the destination. This is crucial before you start simplifying and decluttering your space. That is what I will be sharing through this blog post to keep myself accountable!

Setting Intentions and Visualizing the Destination
  1. Why are you doing this challenge?
    • I am doing this challenge because I see myself benefitting from clearing out the unnecessary junk in my life and practicing my ideal lifestyle, which focuses on creativity, meditation, travel, reading, writing, good food and the people that matter in my life.
  2. What’s your end goal?
    • By the end of this challenge, I want to feel more empowered in my physical and mental spaces, take ownership and control of what I love and help others achieve the same feeling of empowerment. ALSO I have noticed there aren’t very many people of color contributing to the conversation of minimalism, so I hope that I can be someone that motivates my communities to empower themselves through decluttering and simplifying their lives.
  3. What are your blocks?
    • I actually really suck at doing daily challenges since I have a busy schedule, so to combat this, I plan to self pace and use the weekends as catch up since I will have more free time to tidy. I also definitely need motivation, but luckily, there are plenty of resources and vloggers out there such as Lavendaire and muchelleb herself that create videos and constantly motivate others to practice decluttering and intentional living.
  4. What is your ideal space?
    • This is a question I came up with for myself. In my ideal “minimalist” room, I actually want it to be colorful, particularly in pastel blues and greens, with some black and white thrown in the mix. Here are some Pinterest pictures for reference.

Why Should I Keep Reading?
Every week, I will be posting check-in blog posts to show how I have been decluttering and simplifying so that this blog will hopefully serve as a resource to minimalism for anyone that is starting out. Towards the end of this month, I will have a reflection post detailing my honest thoughts about the experience and whether or not you should pursue minimalism if you’re on the fence about it.

Let me know if you will be taking on this challenge with me or if you have something else planned for March (this first day of the month corresponds so well with the beginning of the Lenten season for anyone that practices Catholicism)! Thanks for reading and I hope you will follow along this journey to minimalism <3