6 Quotes on Forgiveness, an Annual Review.

6 Quotes on Forgiveness, an Annual Review.

This year I have learned a lot about love. Since moving in with my partner, we have faced many ups and downs in our 500 square foot (studio) apartment. There have been rough days, but getting through those road bumps makes our relationship stronger. When people reflect on their life and love on social media, it’s always highlighting the best parts. But what I have learned is that love is the strongest when you’re in your weakest moments. It’s OK to talk about bad moments in life, I think we all need to know that sadness, conflict, and discomfort are normal junctions in any relationship; and so I wanted to embrace the downs of this past year, because it has been these moments that have made me a better person.

To wrap up the year and brainstorm on my new year resolutions, I decided to collect some quotes on what seemed to be the biggest lesson — I’ve learned that forgiveness is hard when anger sits in your throat and hurt pierces your heart. Big or small, learning how to forgive and ask for forgiveness has been my biggest, and ongoing feat.

Here are 6 quotes that inspired me:

  1. Forgiveness simply means loving someone enough to pursue healing instead of punishment when they have wronged you.
  2. Forgiveness is not a feeling: it is a commitment. It is a choice to show mercy. Not to hold the offense up against the offender. Forgiveness is an expression of love.
  3. Communicate, even when it is uncomfortable or uneasy. One of the best ways to heal is simply getting everything out…
  4. We all make mistakes, don’t let that be the reason you give up on somebody.
  5. When someone does something wrong, don’t forget about all the things they did right.
  6. A happy marriage is about three things: memories of togetherness, forgiveness of mistakes and promises to never give up on each other.

Giving and receiving forgiveness is powerful. I realize that reflecting on uncomfortable moments is important if I want to grow. I have always found that journaling has been the best way for me to express myself and understand my emotions.

Writing quotes into my planner is a new practice I experimented with this month and it’s something I want to continue in the new year. It brings clarity to my life when I can see the quotes on a daily basis, and I prefer to refresh them every week or two by choosing a different theme. Try it out!

What are your biggest lessons this year? How will you reflect and remind yourself of that growth?

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Book Review: Lucky Boy

Book Review: Lucky Boy

Author: Shanthi Sekaran

Pages: 473

Published: 2016

image source

I have been reading San Francisco Public Library’s One City One Book – an initiative to get the community to read the same book at the same time and then discuss in book groups. The main mission – “by building bridges between communities and generations through the reading and most importantly the discussion of – one book, the hope is to make reading a lifelong pursuit and to build a more literate society.”

What makes these books interesting is that they are all novels that take place in the bay area, so these are stories with backdrops I have personal connections to.

Back Cover Summary

In this astonishing novel, Shanthi Sekaran gives voice to the devotion of motherhood through two women bound together by their love for one boy. Soli, a young undocumented Mexican woman in Berkeley, California, finds that motherhood offers her an identity in a world where she’s otherwise invisible. When she is placed in immigrant detention, her son comes under the care of Kavya, an Indian-American wife overwhelmed by her own impossible desire to have a child. As Soli fights for her son, Kavya builds her love on a fault line, her heart wrapped around someone else’s child. Exploring the ways in which dreams and determination can reshape a family, Sekaran illuminates issues of class, ambition, parenthood, and immigration.

From rural Oaxaca to Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto to the dreamscapes of Silicon Valley, Lucky Boy offers a moving and revelatory look at the evolving landscape of the American dream and the ever-changing borders of love.

Where I read it

I read this book on the train mostly. I have a 45 minute commute from the city down to the peninsula and back.

How long did it take to read?

A little over a month.

I have a very busy schedule and I was only reading it on the train in 20 – 40 minute increments. There would be a few days here and there where I wouldn’t pick it up, but when I did pick it up, it was definitely a page turner from beginning to end.

Stand out quote(s):

“Don’t be afraid of failing, Rishi-bhai,” Sen said, reading his thoughts. “I led four different companies to the brink of destruction before they hired me at Weebies. Did you know that? It’s not in my company bio. But it’s why they hired me. Failure is knowledge. Nothing more. A little bad luck, some stupid decisions. Nothing more.”


“You don’t believe me.”

Rishi shrugged.

“You’ve been to India? Sen asked. “So you’ve seen those buses, right? The buses with the men hanging off the sides?”


“They hang off like this, no? Three, four, five of them across? And you wonder how the bloody hell they manage to not fall? What are they hanging on to? Who knows? But they hang on. Instead of saying Too full, I’ll get the next bus, they run for their lives and jump onto these overcrowded things. And every time they do it, someone catches them, holds on to them, and they hold on too, until they get to where they need to go. No?”

“Yeah,” Rishi said. “You’re right. They do.”

“Imagine if they didn’t take the chance? If they played the cool guy and stayed on the ground?”

“Yeah. I think I see.”

“What would happen then?”

“They’d never get anywhere,” Rishi answered. “They’d be stuck.”

Sen raised one triumphant finger.

Feeling inexplicably uplifted, Rishi hopped to his feet and walked out.

“Run for the bus, Rishi-Bhai!” Sen called.

My Thoughts

Sekaran did an amazing job of capturing the thoughts and emotions of the two women going through unfathomable experiences. Many times I had to close the book and just sit with the emotions rising up in my heart and throat.

The light she shines on various relevant topics such as immigration, immigration hierarchy, motherhood, and grit, made this book valuable in addition to being a gripping story.

Although the themes are mostly heavy and the experiences the women go through made me want to cry from time to time, Sekaran is funny! Many times I found myself laughing out loud as she writes about Kavya’s indian mother, Berkeley’s hipster atmosphere, Soli’s innocence in America, and the triumphs and struggles of being in a marriage.

Shanthi Sekaran writes beautifully, and I could read this all over again.

Final Verdict

A must read.

A Week in my Planner: Brain Dump Lists & Work Reflections

A Week in my Planner: Brain Dump Lists & Work Reflections

This week I wanted to try a few new things with my planner to help with my work and creative productivity. I use the Happy Planner which is a disc bound planner allowing you to move or add sections to personalize it to your needs. In the planner world (yes, there totally is one) this is called “frankenplanning” when you take multiple planners to create one; the term coined from Frankenstein’s story where his mad scientist took multiple parts to create his perfect beast.  

Not a Happy Planner? Please do read on, these are things you can try in any journal or planner system. 

Brain Dump – Idea List

The Happy Planner Monthly Extension Pack
Other Ideas for this layout: Social Media Calendar, Food Journal List, To-Do per day

I work in front of two computer screens, so the distraction of the internet is one of my daily battles when it comes to productivity. I focused this week on writing down every random thought, idea, inspiration, personal to do item that came to my mind vs. letting the monkey brain take over. 

It took quite a few days to get in the groove of this. For example, one thing I started to think about while working on a financial report was, “hmmm, I wonder if I could outsource someone to turn my drawings into stickers…” and just as I was about to pop open a new tab and “just look real quick” I wrote it down as something to research on the train or at home. These little thoughts and interruptions add up during the day, and writing them down allows me to relish in that little moment of inspiration, without going down the rabbit hole. 

Journaling to Tame the Anxiety

This journal entry happened earlier this month when I was feeling behind, in my personal and work life. I wrote many versions of this that day, and just knew I had to get all the thoughts out of my brain onto paper.

Here are the questions I asked myself to help tame my anxiety:

  1. What are two things that are causing me to feel anxiety?
    • I wasn’t focused at work, I was getting sick, I felt out of control, and I knew it was because somethings was missing. After some reflection, I immediately recognized the two cornerstones of what would make a successful week: my fitness routine and having more time for my hobbies. If I can’t accomplish either one of these two, then I can’t focus at work. My life feels unbalanced. 
  2. What are some things that make me feel productive and successful? 
    • Having healthy snacks available in my bag or at work.
    • Having a clean apartment/ clean laundry to start off the week.
    • Time to journal and think about my weekly goals. 
  3. What causes me to have a bad week?  Or what makes me feel overwhelemed? 
    • Having Sunday booked. Not having a day off on the weekend to just relax and gather my thoughts. 
    • A messy sink. When the kitchen is a mess, I can’t make my morning smoothies. Then I am hungry at work and then I buy a chocolate croissant. 
    • Waking up tired.
    • No exercise. 

This helped me quantify the causes of my anxiety to come up with concrete solutions. As you can see in my reflections below, I was able to take the things that make me feel productive and apply it moving forward. 

Work Weekly Reflection

  1. What are some easy, mindles tasks I can do at home to help me get ahead at work? 
    • Organize my desktop, and spend 10- 20 minutes each night merging duplicate records in our database system at work, which is a pretty mindless task. 
  2. What are some positive things I did this week?
    • Worked out
    • Focused on just “jumping in” with tasks 
    • I completed personal to do’s which made me feel more balanced, like I controlled my time, instead of my commute and work controlling me.

The first question came from a week’s worth or asking myself the same question over and over again – what is causing me to feel overwhelmed at work? I realized that it was the small things that I kept putting off such as properly storing files into the correct shared folders, and slowly chipping away at mindless data tasks that kept growing on the back burner list. These small tasks I realized could be done while watching TV at home. Coming up with this action plan, of spending at least 10 minutes a day, made me feel more in control of the chaos at work. 

This second question was the result of identifying what made a successful week and what made a stressful week? Since I was able to identify them a week prior to this one, I was able to reflect and congratulate myself on the changes I made in my lifestyle that helped improve my workflow.

Wellness Weekly Reflection

In my wellness weekly reflection I asked two similar questions: 

  1. What did I accomplish? 
    • Made it to the gym 3x this week! 
    • Had a better clarity and focus at work and with hobbies.
    • Completed personal tasks and creative projects. 
  2. What could I improve? 
    • Go to bed earlier. 
    • Get back to making morning smoothies. 
    • Eat better meals, I didn’t eat enough vegetables this week. 
    • Take my vitamins 
    • Get back to my daily 10 pushups! 

Closing out my week felt great after getting all my thoughts out on paper. Even when I don’t think I have anything to say, just prompting myself with one simple question opens up so much clarity. Try it out, ask these questions of yourself every day and see what happens! Every day is a new day and even though these questions may be repetitive, the answer is always different. 

Next Week’s Layout 

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

3 Weeks Without Instagram, 5 Positive Changes.

3 Weeks Without Instagram, 5 Positive Changes.

I quit my Instagram(s) three weeks ago and already I have been feeling the lights turn on in certain departments of my brain that have long been idle, and unoccupied. Here are five things I’ve noticed of myself in the past three weeks:

  1. I’ve been able to accomplish more personal/creative tasks. 
  2. I’ve been writing creatively more often. Pen to paper, and it feels so good. 
  3. I’ve been reading more blogs which has been inspiring and informative. 
  4. I’ve had a clearer focus and drive for doing the things I want to do. Instead of thinking I will get to it eventually, or making up excuses that I’m just not ready, I’ve been more proactive with my small windows of time. Instead of finding myself down a scrolling rabbit hole, I’ve been able to put that brain space towards honing in on some creative discipline. 
  5. I’ve been writing out and reviewing my goals, asking myself what I have accomplished?; what was stopping me from doing x,y,z?; and what I can do better? 

My favorite quote this week:

The grass is greener where you water it, not on the other side.


A Practical Gift Guide for the Urban Commuter

A Practical Gift Guide for the Urban Commuter

Living in San Francisco, and working in the Peninsula, I commute by bike and train and carry my whole day on my back. I bring everything from my breakfast, to my rock climbing gear to ensure that I have a seamless, productive day. Here are my top 8 commuter essentials that would make a great, practical gift for the Urbanite in your life.  

#1. Packable, Weather-Proof Jacket 

Having a jacket that I can have in my bag at ALL TIMES that will protect me from the elements, makes this item #1 on my list. 

Brands like The Northface, Cotopaxi, and Patagonia make some of the best (and ethical) gear out there and would be sure to get your money’s worth of usage. 

#2. Phone Case Wallet 

As a commuter, I try to have my hands free, and try to make my transition from bike, to bus, to train as seamless as possible without having to open my backpack. I almost always have my phone in my hand or pocket, as I use it to check bus times and directions; so having my phone with my Clipper Card attached makes commuter life a breeze. 

Giving this as a gift, you could even go above and beyond and get a personalized case from Etsy

#3. A Small Lunch Cooler 

I use this Fiesta PackIt Personal Cooler to pack my smoothie and snacks in the morning. One Magic Bullet cup fits perfectly in this foldable pack, and it stays cold with the insulated walls. Just keep this bad boy in the freezer over night and your smoothie is guaranteed to stay fresh and icy cold. I love how small and compact it is. 

I’ll admit, I received this cooler one Christmas from my mom, and my initial reaction was thinking how lame and unoriginal this gift was;  but I have used this so much and quickly grew to love it! 

Central Park or Dolores Park, this pack will make all your friends jealous when your the only one left with ice cold beers 😉 A six pack fits nicely inside.

Combine this gift with some fun Bento Boxes or Sistema containers, and this would make a great practical gift for anyone! 

#4 Contigo Coffee Mug & Tea Strainer

I know a coffee mug is a staple household item for most people. But I am here to really boast this mug’s ability to keep things piping hot, and spill proof through out my commute. I switch between coffee and loose leaf tea, so I especially love this tea strainer accessory that snaps into the cap of the mug. This would make a great gift for the tea enthusiasts in your life. 🙂 

#5 Compression Packing Cubes

I love these things. It’s better than regular packing cubes because you can really maximize the space in your bag with the compression zipper. I use this on the daily, packing my gym clothes into my backpack.

Before, I used to have my clothes loosely taking up the bulk of my bag, but now they are compressed and my bag is more organized.

For that person on the go, they will love this. It’s one of those things that people don’t think they need until they get it. They come in all sorts of sizes, some small enough for a purse; Pack a cardigan and a scarf into the smallest size and you can still have room in your tote for all the other essentials.

Pair this with other organizational pouches, and your Type A friends will LOVE YOU. 

#6 A Quality Messenger Bag or Backpack

Get your commuter a true city bag by brands who really know what the urban commuter needs. My favorite brand is Timbuk2 – a San Francisco based company. I sport their Jetpack backpack, and have purchased their sling bags and messenger bags for days when I want to pack light. They are gender neutral, which I love, and have a very minimalist style. Other great brands I like are Chrome Industries, and Topo Designs

Timbuk2 always has some sort of sale, if you sign up for their email list, it’s like Black Friday never ended. I HIGHLY recommend this as a gift for someone you love. They are lifetime guaranteed, and my first Timbuk2 bag is 8 years old and in great, vibrant condition. 

#7 Portable Phone Charger 

Everyone needs one of these. Am I right? Or am I right?

This makes a great stocking stuffer. There are so many fun ones out there too. I have one that looks like R2D2. Check out this avocado portable charger … so hip, so cool, so on trend. 

#8 Blue Tooth Headphones

Lastly, a pair of wireless or bluetooth headphones is another one of those items I never thought I needed until I got it. I’ve always preferred these over the earbuds because they are more comfortable and make the music experience so much better. 

Similar to my phone case testimonial, walking around and jumping on trains tangle free of chords makes this item a must while commuting.

If your commuter is a cyclist, I suggest a bluetooth portable speaker.

I do not support cycling with headphones on. Ride safe people!

I love listening to music or listening to the news when I ride my bike. This also comes in handy when I am biking to a new place and need to plug in Google Maps. Be sure to get one with a clip so that it can latch onto the rider, and not fall out of any pockets, causing freakish accidents – trust me, I’ve seen it happen! 

I love all these items dearly because they make cruising on my bike and hopping around the city a breeze. 

Are you a city slicker, train-jumper, cyclist commuter?

What’s in your bag? 

A Voluptuous Vegan Pumpkin Pie

A Voluptuous Vegan Pumpkin Pie

Happy December. Thanksgiving has come and gone and as we dwell in this space right before Christmas starts to rev up, I wanted to share this little vegan recipe that I made with a friend Thanksgiving morning. But as film photography goes, there is always a bit of backlog. 

This recipe is was copied from Isa Chandra Moskowitz blog, but on the day of these photos, we were following her new Vegan Holiday Cookbook. My friend Julia took on the task of making the pie crust and pumpkin puree from scratch.  I was inspired by the bright orange of the squash and the kneading of the dough, I had to get my camera out and capture the perfect Thanksgiving deed. 

Unfortunately, the film didn’t capture the vibrancy of the colors; but I am still happy with the way they came out, a sort of homeliness to them. 

*I copied the blog recipe below (linked above) to accompany my photography.*


~ Agar powder is a crucial ingredient here for getting the perfect texture. It’s similar to a vegan gelatin, but made from seaweed, not whatever gross stuff gelatin is made from. It comes in flakes and powder form, but I prefer the powder because it is so fool-proof and easy to work. Check your local Asian market for Telephone brand, or you can order it from Amazon or Vegan Essentials. One small jar will get you through dozens of pies, so it’s a worthwhile ingredient to have on hand.


Single pastry crust, fit into a 9 inch pie plate

3 cups cooked pumpkin or other sweet winter squash
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup plain unsweetened soy milk (or your favorite non-dairy milk)
4 teaspoons canola oil
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 /4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pinch ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon agar powder


Preheat oven to 350 F. In a blender, pulse together pumpkin, maple syrup, soy milk, canola oil, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, salt, cornstarch and agar powder until very smooth. Pour into the pie shell and bake for 60 to 65 minutes until the center looks semi-firm not liquidy. Check the edges of the crust after baking for 40 minutes; if the edges appear to be browning too rapidly carefully remove the pie and apply crust protectors to the edges to keep from getting too dark.

Remove from oven and onto a cooling rack for 30 minutes, then chill for at least 4 hours before slicing. Serve with Rad Whip, vegan whipped topping or your favorite vegan vanilla ice cream. In the photo, we piped cream around the edges of the pie with a large decorating tip.

I will be traveling to LA to spend time with my family. Growing up baking pumpkin bread before Thanksgiving has been the marker to my senses that the holiday season has begun. It’s funny how I can’t seem to replicate the same magical holiday essence when I bake in my own kitchen, it has to be at my mom’s. Maybe because she has a nicer, bigger kitchen 😉 . 

My sister, mom and I usually own one recipe and bake a dozen of them to give out to family and friends. My recipe is a cornmeal pound cake with rosemary syrup; my mom makes the pumpkin bread, and my sister makes the chocolate chip scones. This year unfortunately, my sister won’t be able to join us, it gets complicated when we all start growing our own families… but I will be sure to share these recipe’s here. 

What will you be making for the holidays?