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!

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

The “La La Land” Staycation Experience

Staycations can be the most cost effective way to enjoy your weekend, holiday or vacation. You don’t need to sit through long drives or plane flights, and you definitely don’t have to break the bank to have a relaxing, fun break. Fueled with my one day trip at Downtown LA, I decided to take it a step further this past President’s Day weekend by planning a surprise staycation trip for Austin’s birthday and booking a hotel room in Los Angeles!
If you read my Downtown LA blog, you’ll know that I am loving the idea of being a tourist in my own city. I figured that having an actual place to stay in a certain part of LA would make it easier to explore and gain more exposure to the area. After tons of research, Yelp reviews and phone calls, I made arrangements for a one night stay at the Magic Castle Hotel, a small gem in Hollywood.

GETTING TO THE HOTEL
The Yelp reviews all raved about the hospitality service in this hotel, and those reviews were true to their word. Service at the Magic Castle Hotel is AMAZING. I called in earlier to see if I could arrange for balloons to be left behind in our room to surprise Austin, and they graciously allowed me to dump balloons in their hands and to even check in my bag early. Parking in their garage was $13 per night, which is actually pretty cheap compared to other hotels in the area that charged $35+ for valet parking, so for hotel standards, the price was a steal since I will take $13 over $35 any day. We didn’t get to go inside the club, but the view of it was amazing.

THE MAGIC OF THE HOTEL
When I finally brought Austin in, the hotel concierge handed us champagne glasses with sparkling lemonade and went through a spiel of the amenities and the room service and it was honestly a list that was too good to be true — free unlimited snacks, free beverages, 24 hour pool, complimentary breakfast, free wifi, free board games, free on-demand television…the list goes on. It was a sweet tooth’s heaven.

We got into our hotel room and as expected, Austin was surprised with the balloons I arranged. But that wasn’t the only thing — the room also came in with a birthday card signed by hotel management, two cupcakes and more sparkling lemonade in the fridge. So sweet! The room was small and quaint and definitely not a 5 star hotel, but everything was well kept and tidy when we arrived, and the bed felt super comfy!

Amidst all the stress and the preparations, I managed to snap pictures of the hotel complex interior and the room we had. Staying here honestly felt like I time traveled to a more retro period of Los Angeles. I would definitely check out the Yelpers who reviewed the hotel if I were you because they definitely have proof that this hotel’s service is top notch. We got lots of hot apple cider and snacks, grabbed free breakfast in the morning, and utilized their on-demand television services and DVD player to its fullest.

THINGS TO DO
For the weekend, we hiked at Runyon Canyon, which is a 2.5 mile hike up steep terrain (prepare to be sore afterwards!). If you want a good workout with beautiful scenery of the Hollywood sign and the skyline, I definitely recommend hiking at Runyon Canyon. There was even a love lock gate similar to the Love Lock Bridge Paris!

We also walked around the Hollywood strip and stopped by a cafe called Otus Thai Kitchen and Coffee to do some work and study (because retention is important). I got the caramel latte and their super popular kai kata.

Living on the west side during my whole time in LA doesn’t actually feel like “La La Land” as the media wants you to think. But taking the short drive out to Hollywood and exploring the little treasures hidden in the city really did feel like I was somewhere magical. It was a short yet sweet staycation with the boyfriend, and I can’t wait to keep exploring more of LA after this.
This post was NOT sponsored in any way. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Current Favorites

A lot has happened within the first month of the New Year — a little bit of good, a little bit of bad, and a lot of ugly. But for now, I want to focus on the good things — the things that bring joy in my life and allow me to live with more intention. Even when the world seems like it’s falling apart, I know that I can still focus on me and use whatever resources I can to be the best possible version of myself so that I can better advocate for things that matter. I hope that at the end of the day, everyone has access to the right resources so that they can be their own best versions of themselves.

Without further ado, here are some of my current favorites, which are basically my own personal resources that have allowed me to feel like the best version of myself — or at least, makes me feel that way! This list of Current Favorites is a slightly different version of my Current Favorites video, which you can find at the end of this post!
  • Bullet Journal. I love my bullet journal. This is where all of my daily tasks, monthly goal planning and random lists go. I will probably do a more detailed blog post on my current bullet journal set up, but if you want to learn more about the bullet journal, check out this perfect how to video from the creator himself, Ryder Caroll.
  • Passion Planner. The Planner has always been part of my planning system and routine. I love that it has a weekly display and a monthly reflection section. Before, I used the Passion Planner to schedule my classes, meetings, events, work outs, etc. but now that I work a full-time job and don’t have much of a life anymore, I use it to track my time! The CEO, Angelia Trinidad, is a strong advocate for supporting college students and constantly gives away free Passion Planners on college campuses across California. She is also a fellow Pilipino American who has supported the Fil-Am community at UCLA through her work on the Passion Planner. If you want to learn more, check out the Passion Planner website here.
  • Journal. I have always been and will always be that person who always keeps a journal. I’ve had this beautiful Muji journal since last summer. The main thing I love about it is that there are no ruled lines, so I can be free to write and doodle with no restrictions.
  • Muji Pens. I discovered the beauty of Muji pens during college when my friend introduced them to her pack. Ever since, I have not strayed from my own beautiful gel pen collection. They work so well for my bullet journal, passion planner, regular journal and general note taking!
  • Tombow brush pen. I recently started developing an interest in brush hand lettering and I invested in this very cheap $3 Tombow brush pen from Amazon. I had to watch a couple of YouTube tutorial videos to understand how to use it, but once I got the hang of it, it was easy to use! I hope that with practice I get much better at brush hand lettering.
  • H&M Shoes. I’ve had these shoes for such a long time and they never disappoint. When I want to feel a little fancier and add extra height, I pop these shoes on and feel a little more fashionable than I usually am.
  • Lush Toner Water. I have used about 3 bottles of this already and it always makes my skin feel very refreshed — literally like a breath of fresh air! If you want to start off with Lush products, I highly recommend this one for fresh, soft skin!
  • Tapestry. I love love love this tapestry from society6.com. It’s the statement piece in my room and serves as a constant reminder to enjoy the good times in my early 20s.
  • Canon EOS M3. This new camera beats my old Canon T3i due to portability, higher ISO capabilities and sharper image. I love that I can bring it with me wherever I go and that I can still use my other EF-S mount lenses with the adapter, which comes with the camera.
  • 10 Habits of Highly Effective People. I didn’t get to feature this book in my video since I haven’t finished this book yet, but I have already learned a lot on how to be a more highly effective person and I’ve only read up to habit 3! It’s a lot of information so I suggest taking down key takeaways from each chapter when you read it so you can digest the material.

 

Of course I also want to point out my current favorite movies and memories that have brought so much joy and inspiration in my life.
  • La La Land, film
  • Hidden Figures, film
  • Women’s March
  • San Francisco, CA
  • Las Vegas, CA

What are some of your current favorites? Let me know in the comments below!

Turn Your New Year Resolutions into New Year Reflections

ny-reflection

Happy first Monday of 2017! I love this time of year because you can see a certain glow in people’s faces at the prospect of a new year. It’s an opportunity to start with a clean slate, set new goals for yourself and continue growing and learning from new experiences.
A lot of my friends are especially excited to start afresh with 2017 since 2016 was a particularly difficult year for many. Although I do agree 2016 had its hard moments, I can’t help but feel grateful for all the good things that happened to me this past year. I owe that feeling mostly due to setting yearly goals and complementing them with a process of reflection. After reflecting on this past year, I feel like I have a clearer, deeper understanding of my long-term vision and how I can use my 2016 experiences as a stepping stone for more growth in 2017.
yearly-reflection
I know creating New Year Resolutions is still a common practice, but only 8% of people actually achieve those resolutions. So instead of creating New Year’s Resolutions that may or may not be fulfilled, turn them into New Year’s Reflections!
My two resources for reflection are Passion Planner and Lavendaire. I love the Passion Planner because it has already made reflection a habit for me since there is a monthly reflection space within the planner itself.
 mawhtu
Lavendaire also has a great blog post on 5 ways to create an amazing New Year. Although her blog post was written in 2015, the questions are still very applicable to this new year and inspired me to delve into my own process of reflection.
Based on what I learned from these resources, here are some themes and example reflection questions you can ask yourself!
Accomplishments
  • What are some of the things you accomplished this past year?
    • For this question and for the following questions, you can list out a number of them that corresponds to the year! For example, I tried to write at least 16 accomplishments for the year of 2016.
Highlights
  • What are some of the highlights from this past year?
Lessons
  • What are the lessons you learned this past year?
Time Management
  • Are you happy with how you spent your time this year? What steps can you take to adjust the time you’ve spent?
Evolution
  • How did your life evolve and how is your life different today than it was a year ago?
Invitations
  • What do you want to invite in your life?
Gratitude
  • What have you been grateful for this past year?
Self-Improvement
  • What are some things you can improve on for the next year and what are some concrete action steps you can take?
Theme
  • What is the recurring theme you want to set for the new year?
Regardless of time and new year, it’s never too late to take the time and reflect on your past so that you can shape your present. We are living in the now, but it is important to remind ourselves what we’ve been through and what we can do to better ourselves. I wish you all a 2017 filled with happiness and success. Thanks for reading!