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    Creative Lifestyle

    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 ❤️
    Creative Lifestyle

    Last Minute Christmas Gift Ideas That Still Add Value to Your Life

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    Are you scrambling to find Christmas gifts for your loved ones? Are you contributing to the longest lines at the mall? Don’t worry, you’re not alone! Every year I somehow find myself at Target scrounging around for last minute gifts. But rather than buying material items that you’re uncertain people want, consider spending money on things that will bring value to your friends and family. Here’s a list of things I’ve come up with that will add some value for your loved one’s Christmas Day.

    1. Gift cards. I know this seems like an obvious choice, but I honestly see a lot of value in gift cards. It’s basically free money that you can use to buy whatever you want! I recommend an Amazon gift card, which encompasses nearly everything you can think of. One creative way you can package your gift card is by putting it in a jar, filling it up with water and confetti and tying it all together with Christmas colored ribbons. It can get a little wet, but it definitely adds a festive cheer to the gift.
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    2. GroupOn Deals. I have recently learned about the beauty of GroupOn deals. They have many options you can explore, such as spa and massage deals, getaways and special events for a discounted price! One tip is to call the vendor beforehand to make sure they still accept their GroupOn deals since some places may have restrictions on GroupOns.
    3. Self-help books. Although this goes under the “material” bucket, I believe everyone should at least read one self help book in their lifetime. Reading about personal growth and how to become the best possible version of yourself is very valuable. A self-help book that I am loving at the moment is 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
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    4. Theme park tickets. This one is more on the pricier side since theme park tickets tend to get more expensive every year. Theme park tickets are usually an exciting gift since it allows for a great experience! One way you can get around the price is buying gift cards for your chosen theme park! Disney and Universal offer gift cards at various prices ($25, 50, $100, etc.) that can be redeemed for merchandise, dining and even theme park tickets! So even if you can’t buy the whole ticket, at least you can contribute to someone’s experience to a wonderful theme park!
    5. DIY food/drink basket. We all need to eat and drink (#selfcare), so what better way to treat your loved one than with a cute gift basket filled with your loved one’s favorite food and/or drink? Buzzfeed came out with 38 best DIY food basket gifts you can make. My favorites from the list are the s’mores kit and the chai tea mix!
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      Pictures courtesy of Buzzfeed
    Creative

    NaNoWriMo Weeks 3 and 4: Lessons Learned and Recap

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    There’s an absolute joy at the idea of crossing the finish line, after so much hard work and effort into making sure you would make it through. But a lot of the times there are people who don’t manage to get there. Not yet anyway.

    That is me. November has ended and I did not finish NaNoWriMo. I didn’t make it to the finish line. And that’s okay.

    To put it simply — shit happens. It was a rough month. Elections Week sent me in a spiral. I kept myself even busier, thinking that piecing myself back together through travel and music while writing a novel simultaneously would uplift me from the post-elections blues. But in the end it all just piled up into an incongruous mess. It got to a point where writing was somehow squished between cooking dinner and taking naps in preparation for the long day at work. It wasn’t  enough to catch up. Some days I would be inspired and write anywhere between 1K-3K words. Other days I would write a mere 200 words. It was a whirlwind to say the least.

    In the midst of the hectic schedule and workflow, however, I still learned.

    I learned that personally, I love to plan my story in advance, but stories tend to re-shape and re-mold themselves as you write, and planning sometimes ends up becoming obsolete.

    I learned that it’s okay to make as many mistakes because it’s only the first draft.

    I learned that there is a way to make time for writing and for the things in your life. Yes it will still take sacrifice, but it can happen.

    I learned that writing is an important medium to express myself, to use words to paint the canvas of a blank page.

    I learned that if I want to make time to write, I can and I will.

    I didn’t hit the 50K mark. I didn’t make it to the finish line. I ended up passing the halfway mark and trailing off. But because of this, I started a wonderful writing journey that I hope to live out for as long as possible. I hope to continue writing, to continue molding and shaping the stories that will one day have it’s moment of exposure. I hope to do NaNoWriMo every year from now on. It’s only the beginning. And there is still so much joy in a beginning.

    Creative

    NaNoWriMo Week 2: A Loss for Words

    To put it simply, this week was awful. Not just for my word count, but for my well-being. Half of America — and nearly the whole world — reacted heavily to the Elections that transpired this week. I won’t go into too much detail — that will be for another blog post. I cannot deny, however, that it has personally taken a toll on my mood and writing.  I neglected my story and grieved. I cried for myself and for the community, ate too much pizza and shrouded myself in the comfort of my bed, knowing that the outside world was a battleground that I did not want to face. I was at a loss for words.

    However, at the end of the day, you do have to face it, and words need to be the anchor to your voice.

    Addressing the impact of these events contributes to the larger role that writers and artists play in this world.

    Regardless of what stance you take on major issues, regardless of how you feel and how you want to represent yourself, it is vital to express it through your art. If you can’t write because of grievances and sadness, then it’s okay. You are allowed to grieve from any sorrow. But at the end of the day, remember how you feel and channel it to the art form you feel strongly about. It is through art that people spill their inner intricacies to the outside world, and begin to understand and connect with one another through the vulnerability and strength of art.

    Several days later, after many of reflection, I began to write again. It had nothing to do with my plot, my characters, nothing about the story at all. Instead, I channeled something that accumulated from the events and spilled it onto the pages of my story. I colored my story with my own inner emotions and conflicts. It had nothing to do with my story, but it was what my story needed.

    This past week was terrible, but I am grateful for the terrible things that come to our lives. It reminds us that happiness is still around the corner. It reminds that the race is hard, but the finish line will be easy. It reminds us that when we are at a loss for words, we can create them and mold them into something that we stand and fight for.

    Creative

    NaNoWriMo Week 1: “Never Gonna Give You Up”

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    Writing has been a large part of my life for a long time. The first story I remember writing was about a young turtle who lost his beloved mother. When I turned in my story,  the teacher was surprised to find out my story was not one, but three pages long, more than the mandatory one page assignment we were given, and more than what any of the students in my class ever turned in.

    Fast forward  to my life now as an adult. I currently hold a degree in English and a minor in Film and Television. As much as I have almost detested and abhorred the subject during my last four years of college, I know that English and writing will always be something I have a passion for. When verbal language failed me, written language enlightened me. Now that all I ever hope now is to go back to the roots of that passion I had when I was a child and write from the heart.

    This is why I am doing NaNoWriMo this year. For those that don’t know NaNoWriMo, it stands for National Novel Writing Month, which is an event that challenges folks to write a 50,000 word novel in one month. Learn about it on their website, here. Crazy, right? Of course, as a budding writer, I have been wanting to do this ever since I entered the world of the internet, but never had the time or motivation to complete it.

    Until now.

    Since I won’t be traveling too much this month, I have decided to write these check-in posts to assess my progress with NaNoWriMo, to motivate and challenge myself to continue, and to take a break from the massive amounts of fantasy writing that I’ll be doing this month. If you’re interested to learn more about my journey of NaNoWriMo, you’re more than welcome to keep reading.

    Leading up to NaNoWriMo, I didn’t prep as much as I wanted to. It was mostly spent brainstorming, finessing the details of what I wanted to write and why I wanted to write, and then writing a rough and sloppy outline before finally diving in to writing on November 1st. Surprisingly, the first two days were quite successful. I achieved the 1.6K daily goal pretty easily those first two days.

    Then the third and fourth day came and…it completely tanked. All because of my social life. That aspect of my life has already been going downhill since I started working a full-time job, so naturally when the opportunity came to hang out with several of my old college friends, I seized the chance. By the time the fourth day rolled in, I was about 4,000 words behind.

    At first, I was berating myself for losing my focus and self-motivation, and would compare myself to people who already have 10K words under their belt. But after awhile I realized–I don’t regret it. Yes, taking the time to write is important for creative writers, but there has to be a balance. Burn out is very real in every aspect of life. Do not forego the necessities to pursue your dreams, or else you won’t be capable of pursuing your dreams at all. Self care is important. If that means taking a break from writing to nap or do laundry or hit up a friend, then do it! For me being around people and friends who are just as motivated and passionate fuels my drive to keep doing this.

    As of now I am still 2,207 words behind, but I have already written 1.6K words today and I still have a lot of energy left to finish up those 2K words. I’m not giving up. Yes I will admit it’s a tougher challenge when you try to maintain other aspects of your life, but it is a challenge that we all have to face. And it is more than manageable to do.

    To all my NaNoWriMo friends, forge on and write on! And to people who are interested in what I’m doing–thank you. I don’t share my passions enough and I feel this is one way I can break out of that shell and continue doing what I really love to do.