7 weeks without instagram; 5 more positive changes

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I wrote a post 3 weeks after I quit both my instagram channels listing 5 positive changes. It’s now been 7 weeks without instagram, here are 5 more positive changes:

  1. I quit my facebook. Now I’m even MORE productive at work. Funny thing is, I still have the urge to type in facebook.com everytime I open a web browser…but then I remember I don’t have it, and so I just go to work. How many times have you opened up google chrome to research or get something done and you get sucked into a facebook rabbit hole before you remember what you actually went online to do?
  2. I’ve discovered more internet. Funny to say, I know, but it’s true – there is so much more world wide web out there to be discovered, why spend all your time in one place? It’s like moving out of your parents house for the first time and realizing that there is so much more world beyond your hometown.
  3. I don’t live through my phone screen anymore.
  4. I’m more engaged in conversations, I have more things to say, more opinions to try out.
  5. I can create with less anxiety, I feel more confident in what I make; there is less fear of being judged.

My favorite quote this week:

“The key to being happy is knowing you have the power to choose what to accept and what to let go.”


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A Clothes Swap Party: Why it’s important & How to Throw One

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The More You Know

This post is a difficult one for me to write. Mostly because I can’t exactly recall the moment when my perspective changed and became definite. It’s all been a slow awakening and I’m still navigating my way through the facts.

I’d taken an environmental science class during my time at Pasadena City College with a very passionate teacher who didn’t teach one thing out of the textbook. She showed documentary after documentary on the agriculture industry and how it was polluting our water systems. She took us on field trips to the Salton Sea, a once thriving lake resort now an apocalyptic wasteland due to pesticide pollution; and she encouraged us to eat raw vegan, which I attempted but failed many times over.

I then moved up to the Bay Area, and continued to ignore the facts while increasing my carbon footprint. Then I met my fiancé in August of 2015. At the time, he was vegetarian thinking of switching over to veganism. Having a baseline knowledge of the benefits of this lifestyle, but a lack of self discipline, I was interested in trying it again — it’s much easier with a partner. And from there the knowledge just kept pouring in and everything else from then until now is a blur.

I lightly knew the facts about the fashion industry — as they parallel those of the meat industry; and just as I started to avoid certain food corporations on my vegan-ish journey, I also started to avoid certain brands such as Forever 21 knowing that ultimately, they were just bad for my health and my planet.

The connection for me was this:

If it takes 2,400 gallons of water to produce one pound of meat (PETA), and your supermarket has 20 pounds of meat stocked on their shelves for Brand X , times 100 supermarket branches across America then that equals to 4,800,000 pounds of fresh water used to produce this week’s shipments worth of meat. Keep in mind, Brand X’s 20 pounds of meat is sitting next to Brand Y & Z who also have 20 pounds of meat stocked at all times, in all 100 supermarket branches across America. Not to mention the gross amounts of pesticides draining into our water systems, and the amounts of chemicals that are injected into the meat we eat (but that’s a whole different story, and blog post).

THEN, according to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, roughly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year — approximately 1.3 billion tonnes — gets lost or wasted.

That’s a whole lot of resources, pollution, and animal torture for nothing.

Now take that same equation and translate it to clothing. Did you know that it takes 2,720 liters of water to produce one cotton T shirt (Remake.world) and about 40,000 tons of dye gets discharged into the water systems of these poor countries producing these shirts? Think about how many T shirts are stocked at your favorite store, and how quickly they cycle out with the different micro-seasons — 52 micro-seasons to be exact (Huffington Post).

THEN the average American throws away about 81 pounds of clothes equaling to about 26 billion tons of textile waste in our landfills. Most of which is made from synthetic material that isn’t biodegradable.

The people that make our clothes make less than $3/day and have to work insane amount of hours while enduring mental, emotional, and sometimes physical abuse from factory managers.

That’s a whole lot of resources, pollution, and human enslavement for nothing.

Knowing these facts and thinking through these consequences, has made me cringe a little bit every time I think I want to step inside of H & M or Urban Outfitters. Because believe me, I LOVE fashion and I love changing my looks! I now feel trapped in what I know, and this world I live in where every move I make is hurting everyone else down the line. It’s insane.

But just like my approach to veganism, you have to take it one step at a time, and slowly. You can’t expect to make a complete change and be perfect 100% of the time. But we can choose to be aware and make an effort to make the right decision. Which is why I decided to throw a clothes swap party.

Here is How I did it:

  1. I sent out a facebook invite two months in advance because I was planning it during prime summer vacation time and I wanted to get it on everyone’s radar.
  2. Then I had to lock down a location which was the hardest part. I looked at places on Peerspace and consulted with my network to find the most affordable location.
  3. Two weeks leading up to the event, I started to post articles and videos on the event page to give a little reminder to those attending, and spark some interest.
  4. Did you know there are rules to a clothes swap party? I didn’t. But apparently there are many ways to frame a clothes swap party and here are a few that I liked from Pinterest:
    1. You can only hold 5 articles of clothing within the first 15 minutes, then everything after that is a free-for-all.
    2. Separate items by value and swap items based on the value you contributed to.
    3. Everyone draws a number out of a hat and takes turns in the order of which they drew. They get a certain amount of time to shop, where they place a tag on the items they like. Each item has a max amount of tags it can receive and shoppers will have to rock, paper, scissor battle to win that item.
      • I liked this one (although it sounded a bit messy and drawn out) because it reminded me of that Christmas game White Elephant, and could be a bit competitive and fun.
    4. I created a short Powerpoint presentation to share a few facts and video campaigns that really spoke to me (see them below).
    5. *Most importantly* Provide adult beverages and snacks.

Lastly, I made it clear that my hope was that they walked out of the event with a different perspective. Many of them were pumped once I gave them some context as to why it was important we were there. I am not an expert, merely a peer learning along with them. Most importantly, we had fun, and I hope to plan this again in the next six months.






A Week in my planner: Vertical Categories & Weekly Headlines

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Memory keeping and journaling is one way I spend my time off screen during the week. I find it soothing to exercise my brain in a creative way that is functional and expressive. Here are some things I tried in my planner and journal this week.

Memory Keeping & Journaling

Currently Pinning & Other Inspiration

I was very inspired this week! I did a lot of browsing on the train and wanted to log the details. These might come in handy when I need ideas to blog about.

Keeping Up With Current Events

I saw a bullet journal instagram a while back where they wrote down the biggest headlines of the week. I thought it was a great idea… especially with all the breaking news we’ve had!

Functional Planning

Vertical Categories

This week in my planner, I tried breaking down each section in the new mini layout by three categories: personal, wedding, and blog. It wasn’t very effective for me, so next week I am going to use a different vertical breakdown: morning, afternoon, and evening; this will include work and personal plans.

The Hourly Layout

In my work planner, which is a separate section in the same planner, I tried to use the grid layout as an hourly, but didn’t find it very effective since the space was too small. This week I decided to keep it as simple as possible and use the top section for meetings, and leave the bottom grid for note taking and general list making.

Other ways to use a vertical layout:

  • Social media channels
  • Meal planning: breakfast, lunch, dinner
  • Events, to do, and daily highlights
  • Your plans, your partner’s plans, and other family members
  • Work, chores, fitness plans and tracking
  • High, medium, and low priority

How are you using your planner for 2019?

Happy planning!

My 2019 Planner Set Up

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Happy 2019! It’s planner season, my favorite time of the year 😉

As a planner addict, I watch SO MANY planner videos. It’s true that I am deep in the planner world, and I am not ashamed. Ha ha! One of my creative goals for a while has been to create my own planner video, and so voilà, here it is! I hope you enjoy and find some useful tips in here.

A Logo for Academic Resilience Academy

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This post is long overdue. I finished this back in October, right when the holiday craze in my world started to pick up, so I didn’t have a chance to reflect back on this process until now.

The Backstory

This project was sort of a wake up call for me as an amateur artist, realizing that I really have no idea what I am doing. I had to use so many work arounds to get the image in my head onto digital paper. In addition to my technical challenges of not knowing how to use Adobe Illustrator, or any type of illustrator software, there was the fact that this logo project wasn’t as clear cut as my last project. What I mean by that is that the name of the business didn’t have any obvious “drawable” words in the title, or mission.

Designing the Logo

Academic Resilience Academy is a one-on-one tutoring service in the Napa Valley area with a mission to transform student’s feelings about academics from anxiety and stress to curiosity and resilience. I asked the founder to give me a list of words that came to his mind when he thought of ACADEMIC RESILIENCE ACADEMY and this is the list I used to generate doodle inspiration:

  • Resilience
  • Challenge
  • Triumph
  • Growth mindset
  • Struggle is learning
  • Positive
  • Encouraging
  • Playful

The Draw-spirations

I was aiming for a chalkboard look; the airplane symbolized upward movement, optimism, and the light bulb symbolized that ah-ha! moment one gets while learning. But I was so discouraged by the way these turned out, it didn’t look anything like I had planned out in my head.

Then I discovered the instant alpha tool on my MacBook Pro photo editor. This changed up the whole game! Now, I was able to use my own hand on paper and transfer my actual drawings onto my Tayasui Sketches Pro to add color, then transferred that drawing onto Canva to give it the final text and shape touches.

The Final Logo

The final logo has a lightbulb with budding leaves, symbolizing growth and that ah-ha! moment that I associated with learning. I was very pleased that I was able to turn in something that actually looked like a logo. The first two drafts had me worried that I had bitten off more than I could chew.

Photo Source: https://twitter.com/A_Resilience_A

After turning in this project, I started to think that maybe this was the wrong direction, an over ambitious one at that, but then the owner posted this picture of my logo on business swag, and seeing my illustration on the real deal made me feel very excited and ready to take on a few more challenges.

Moral of the story: just keep drawing.

6 Quotes on Forgiveness, an Annual Review.

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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?

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Book Review: Lucky Boy

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Author: Shanthi Sekaran

Pages: 473

Published: 2016

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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.