10 Things I’d Tell my 20 Year Old Self

About a week ago, I recalled this list I read from Serena Dyer (Wayne Dyer’s daughter). I was 21 years old, doing little with my life except consuming personal development books/blogs/forums/videos, and cooking meals for a household. Serena was 29 years old at the time, and she had written a blogpost of 29 things she would tell herself entering her 20’s. While I only recalled the note on how your metabolism isn’t the same at 29 as it is at 20, I thought to myself, what would I tell myself now that I’m also finishing my 20’s? What are 10 things I would truly want myself to know when I was 20, after having gone through 9 of these formidable years?

I took this question pretty seriously, imagining if I were to get advice from my 38 year old self right now, how different my life could be. If I could truly receive a letter when I was 20 from my 28 year old self, what would I say to her, knowing for sure that she would listen?

I spent the week gathering the top 10 things I would tell my 20 year old self, knowing she really would take it seriously, listen, and change. These are things I deeply, deeply desired she know, from what I know today, and what I hope all 20 year olds know in order to avoid and make use of the mistakes I made in my 20’s. Here is what I came up with:

  1. You can screw it up
  2. A job isn’t just money, and money isn’t just money
  3. Don’t play with your feelings
  4. You need to take care of yourself before you can create true relationships with others
  5. There is no such thing as good or bad people in the world
  6. You don’t know how they got there
  7. Don’t get too excited about your spiritual awakening
  8. Value everything only by its opportunity cost
  9. Learn politics
  10. You (do but you) do not create your own reality
  11. (Bonus) Life is serious

They’re not in any particular order, aside from when they came to me over the past week. Here’s my explanation on each of them.

You can screw it up

Yes, you can. Don’t ever make the mistake thinking you’re young and it doesn’t matter, that you have time. You don’t. The choices you make in your 20s can really, really screw the rest of your life up.

Take for example, a job. In your 20’s, no one really has a job yet. But by the time you’re 26, there are people who have four solid years of work experience, which helps them get better jobs with higher negotiation power. Those four years matter. If you want to spend your time on what really matters in your 20’s, you need to learn to think bigger.

If you do mess it up, you will have to count on some gigantic sources of grace and second chances, which may or may not come to you. Then, you have to count on yourself to not screw up your second chances.

Discard the lie that no matter what you do, you’re not going to mess up because everyone has a different path, and you’ll be fine. You will be “fine,” but you will miss out on everything you thought you were going to have if you don’t make the right decisions in the early 20s.

And if you get a second chance, stay hyper focused, and don’t waste a drop of anything. Literally.

A job isn’t just money, and money isn’t just money

I know you have no idea what a job is right now, just admit it. You think people sell themselves out to have money so they won’t be humiliated in society, and they waste their whole lives chasing this false image of themselves to prove to others they’re worth something. Sure, this is a big part of it, but a job is much, much more than money, and money isn’t just about money. 

Money, true actual money, is about your production capacity. You cost x amount of money to live on this earth, by basic physical and societal standards. A job is about producing at least as much as you consume in society, and compensating for the 18 years where you did not produce, and only consumed. You don’t get to be free without zeroing this out.

Don’t think of a job as a ticket to get you lavish experiences, or stuff that honestly does not matter (only matter to people who have no sense of what matters) – it is about producing at least as much as you consume/have consumed. If you can produce much, much greater than you consume (true production out of your labour and thinking), you get to use your power and that extra production capacity to potentially change things in society – maybe.

Also, you need a job to stay in touch with society. The reason people go down paths that “look like the answer” and turn out to be huge mistakes is ignorance. You need to be involved in the economy – involved in the actual buying and selling of real goods and services. This is the only way to know what is actually going on when it comes to society – what people are willing to put their money to is the only true indicator of what they value – nothing else.

A job not an option. Unless you have an incredibly strong partner who is more than involved in the economy and you’re willing to take his word for everything (which doesn’t sound like you at all), you need to have a job. Not to mention, you’d have to provide something equal in value to this strong partner… this is a high risk gamble compared to learning to work a sustainable long-term job.

It doesn’t matter what job, but make it sustainable, maintain cash flow, and reach for something better when you get the chance and have prepared yourself for it. It will teach you what society is demanding and where you can improve it. Not to mention, have a life, friendships, oh and yes, money.

Don’t play with your feelings.

You will always, always, always, 100% of the time, look back on things you knew all along and say, “I knew it at the time!” If anything feels off, do not attempt to justify it.

You know what you know; don’t lie about what you feel for some hidden agenda because the reward is tempting. This is how sociopaths get into your life, and how people end up working for exploiters who promise you lies. It CAN (and will) happen to you, but your feelings know all along the way, so don’t lie.

You need to take care of yourself before you can create true relationships with others

You were always right to value relationships and people, everything you said was right. But, you have to prioritise taking care of yourself first in order to create true relationships that are not built on someone else’s support.

No, not the self love massage and manicures bs of “taking care of yourself.” It’s the “you know you aren’t financially pulling it on your own, so get that together before you work on anything else!” Because so long as you are financially under another person or thing, you cannot create from your own creative energy and life force, so it is not your true creation.

Your relationships were always about creation, and your creations are not genuine until you are entirely financially independent. It is only then that you can create true genuine relationships with others.

There is no such thing as good or bad people in the world

This one is so confusing. I know you don’t believe in evil (yet), and I know you always viewed people as good people or bad people. You really have to get that this is a pure lie and illusion.

The people who conducted the atrocities of the prison camps were people like anyone else. They were not some horrible subhuman people with brain damage; they were literally people like you, who are either not aware of what they are up to, or became desperate and were seduced by the joy in torturing others. While this is an extreme example, the choices you make have ripple effects that go much beyond what you can see, and you don’t know what damage you are causing the world by turning a blind eye for the sake of your own ego.

Get rid of the idea of good people. They don’t exist. We all have a line that divides our hearts, and an unconscious agenda based on lies will push you to the darkness if you do not know you have darkness within you.

You’ll have zero idea of what dark things you’ve created until years later, when you understand this. Only when you begin to repent will you begin to realize the truth that everyone has equal capacity to evil, and if we deny this about ourselves, we become the darkness ourselves.

You don’t know how they got there

When you look at someone who has “what you want,” you really don’t know what they did to get there. You will admire many people throughout your life, but you won’t realize that many of them traded their integrity for what they have.

You really do not know how people did what they did or got to where they got to. Never assume they got there clean if it looks too easy. And yes, it does matter how they got there. Don’t lie to yourself otherwise just so you can have the same kind of “success” easily.

Don’t get too excited about your spiritual awakening

At this point, age 20, you’ve either already experienced this spiritual awakening, or are about to. It seems like an antidote to a lot of the pain you experienced growing up, but don’t get excited about it at all. 

It is actually the heaviest burden you’ll ever carry – at least for the next 9 years (ie, thus far). It was never intended to make you special, rather, it was to give you more work. Also, you will be isolated and alone, because you’ll realize no one actually works to understand this (do not try to find them – they don’t exist) and this is just life.

So don’t get excited, because you have only work and isolation ahead of you, and anything you do that attempts to leverage that greater spiritual perspective in hopes of moving forward faster will fail and be a waste of time. So do not try. Seriously.

Value everything only by its opportunity cost

This is by far the best piece of advice I can give in terms of navigating choices. Life is not about choices that are “good” or “bad” – discard this view. Look only at “what is your next best option” (and hopefully not an option that requires you to be dependent on anyone else) to determine whether that decision is the best decision you can make. 

If the opportunity cost has higher value, leave it and get that. Do not get sentimental or point to morals, and never look at something alone and think “that looks good.” Always look at it as “what is my next best alternative, and is it better to go for that, or stick with this?”

Learn politics

Yes, hate me for this one, but I’m sorry, it has to happen. Play the game. Learn power and power plays, or you’ll never get anywhere. No, I didn’t sell myself out; this is actually part of the spiritual navigation, and just base laws of power. There is a difference between being good at politics and losing your integrity/being dishonest.

Do not use it for harm, but you must know how to use it, and always consider things from their power shifting perspectives. Know what is going on, and beat the system. Make sure you are not getting unnecessarily manipulated and controlled. 

You’ll never get there by placing yourself in a glass dome and singing kumbaya and never getting screwed over. Instead of trying to hide and keep these things at arm’s length for years, learn the game, and play it well. You’ll become really good at it once you decide to, and help many others develop this as well.

You (do but you) do not create your own reality

I know you currently love the “you create your own reality” creed, but it’s trouble to base your life view on that. You do create based on your thoughts, feelings, and emotions, however, you hardly know what those are, and you have no choice over many of these things. You cannot change your background and upbringing, which immensely affect how you think and feel about certain things for the rest of your life.

This is a Divine Plan we’re playing out, and your best bet is to surrender and be humble enough to admit you will not know what’s best for you. There is a predestined path you can either follow and succeed or reject and struggle. When you do what you’re meant to, it will just work out. You will still have problems and power issues to overcome, but it will still be there.

And if you’re not meant to have or do something, no matter how much mind-control and thought-control you achieve, it will only be temporary and it will fade away, no matter how much you try.

(Bonus) Life is serious

I know you’ll be debating this one for a long time. I can’t tell you the answer for sure, but I can tell you that life goes much smoother and good things happen much easier when you realize life is serious, dark, and is not for fun.

Look at who takes it seriously and who takes it for fun. No one who takes it for fun is actually doing well. Fun and happiness come along the way when the responsibilities are fully taken care of. There is a dark side of the world that is constantly seeking to gain power, and it feeds off people who believe it doesn’t exist. Don’t let yourself become a conduit of evil by thinking life should be fun. Life is serious; the reward is in creating a life with purpose and meaning – and finding people along the way with whom to do it. 

Final note to self

It’s going to be hard. Strive to see the Truth. Don’t cover things up. Do not assume you’ll have a great life ahead of you because you’re a good person. You have a lot of growing up to do, first by arranging a sustainable, honest financial independence, then figuring out how to create something to sustain you long-term, without the help of anyone else – not even your family. I think even with all my warnings, you’ll still have to go through the painful experiences I went through. But hopefully, you can get out of them quicker by learning to absorb these lessons as the problems they resolve arise. Best of luck to my 20 year old self, keep that spunk alive.

One Year of Bullet Journal Journey

A year ago, I sat in the public library and opened my first Moleskine notebook, with so much excitement and nervousness. I had shelled out my birthday money to buy an A5 Moleskine notebook, a Staedtler fineliner pen, and a twelve-inch ruler – which at the time, with very little disposable income, felt like such an investment. It took me an hour in the library to set up my first Bullet Journal (BuJo) – the page with my intentions, the Index pages, the Future Log, the Monthly Log, and then finally, the Daily Log. It felt exciting, anticipatory, and a lot more emotions I could not even put to words. I was listening to the sounds from an app called Wild Journey to calm all my jittery energy.

Why do I have all the details of this moment? I BuJo’d it, that’s why! This is what is recorded in my first ever daily log; they are the rapid logging notes under [x Start my bullet journaling journey]. I can recall this day easily, with no distortion, as well as an accurate understanding of the person I was then, and who I have become after a year’s experience of bullet journaling.

Even this reflection I have just done is useful. It’s like looking at old photos and realizing how far along we’ve come, but done in rapid logging notes, we can access more details. After a year of using the Bullet Journal method, I’ve achieved a new level of focus in the pursuit of my goals. It has become a necessary way of life to keep myself in check, and organize my interior landscape with sharpness and clarity. I highly recommend this system for anyone to become more aware, conscious, organized, and deliberate in their lives. In this post, I’ll explore a few aspects of my bullet journal journey, and provide inspiration for those who are considering this method and approach to life.


How I discovered Bullet Journaling

It was June 2019 – my parents and I last visited together, here in London. I took them to visit the British library, and we explored on our own for a while. At the time, the featured exhibition was Writing: Making Your Mark and in the gift shop, the book, The Bullet Journal Method by Ryder Carroll, was on display.

My first impression was that it was much bigger of a book that I had imagined – I had thought it would teach you the system of organization and that was it, but instead, it was filled with a lot of content – the genesis story, descriptions on each system and what they are designed to do, the intentions behind each of its systems, and rich examples and stories of user experiences. Prior to that, I had only seen examples of bullet journals on Pinterest, incorrectly believing that  bullet journaling was about making things pretty, and designing your own planner.

What I realized from flipping through those few pages that day was that this was a system and method to approach your life in a completely different way – it is a choice to live consciously and deliberately, and make no excuses for yourself. It would sort out your life in a way that would have you look at everything you are doing and everything you are up to, which I knew would change my life. I started researching all the information I could get (there is a lot of it), and started wondering how I might save up to get a nice bullet-paged notebook (thanks to my mom and dad for wire-transferring me some birthday money a month later!).


What the system has given me

At the time of discovering the bullet journal method, I was working as a waitress at a restaurant in Covent Garden. It was a hard life, but it didn’t have much continuity. Planning isn’t an aspect of the nature of that job – day to day, once I got home, I could drop whatever I was working on at work. However, that month, I finally had accumulated one months’ worth of expenses (without housing) in savings, and thus I was ready to consider what else I might go into, and begin applying to other opportunities.

This was why I felt so excited, nervous, and apprehensive about incorporating the method into my life – I knew that this would catapult me into a different way of relating to myself and my life, in a way that allowed for more planning and continuity. I knew that I’d be leaving the more day-to-day survival existence mode of being, into a way of life that would allow me to live more long-term, and create my life in that way. The journal would serve as my canvas for this endeavour.

If I were to go through everything about how the bullet journal changed my life, it would be a very long blogpost. Instead, I’ll highlight the number one most valuable feature to me, and how it has changed my life.

The most important feature of the bullet journal method that has transformed my life and continues to do so today, is the technique of rapid logging events. This is how I have the content with which I opened this post – I had recorded in rapid logging form a clear picture of the exact scene of starting my bullet journal journey.

This was actually the first page I opened to when I picked up Carroll’s book The Bullet Journal Method in the British Library, which really made me pay attention – a sample rapid logging entry of a first date with a girl this guy had asked out. With a few simple detached notes, when he and the girl stopped seeing each other months later, instead of holding a woe-is-me victim story or creating unnecessary fantasies around the situation (we were so good together though, what happened, such a pity it didn’t work out), he was able to go back to the rapid logging notes on his first date, and see what had really happened – they weren’t a great match, and in hindsight, there were signs from date one that this was the truth.

As humans, we think we remember the events of our lives accurately, when we actually have terrible memories, and our present mood is constantly changing the story we tell ourselves about the past. Rapid logging creates a mental accountability system – we can no longer indulge in the false fantasies we create in our minds of how we wish things were. We are held to a higher standard of viewing events in our lives in more accurate truth, and required to acquiesce to the story that actually happened.

The practice of rapid logging events has changed my life significantly. It is such a bad habit to view the past with rose-colored glasses, or to make up stories about what happened then, to justify our current less-than-emotionally-mature state of being. I have used these logs to recalibrate myself regularly. There have been times where I mistakenly remember the difficulty of going through a certain period of life, and as a result permitted myself to hold excuses about why I am not pursuing my goals. Another time, I was unable to deal with the painful emotions of an experience, and told myself I must have had negative intentions for that situation, when really I just couldn’t face how much it hurt. Each time I look back on my rapid logging entries, they’ve helped me to see the truth and hold myself accountable to live in the truth, and act according to the truth.


How I use BuJo today

Today, I have two bullet journals in active use that are crucial to keeping myself accountable, responsible, and properly organized. One is for work, and the other for my personal life. My personal BuJo is less used during the week and more on the weekends, and my work BuJo is the other way around.

Because I work for a remote startup company, I’ve adapted the personal BuJo method into one that fits my specific work – less of a mental accountability system, my work BuJo has a structure to hold all my different hats and responsibilities, all the active tasks that are currently ongoing, and pages of meeting notes for any of the many calls we have as a remote team. I would not have a proper system to keep up with my responsibilities at work without this system. Also, it gives me a clear idea of all the items I could be working on, and the impact it would have on my various roles, allowing me to consciously and deliberately shape my position.

My personal life BuJo is the host to one of my most treasured practices – it is the canvas of my life, and the pages hold space to move me from where I am, to where I’d like to be. Inside there are goals, rapid logging of events, spirituality notes, study notes, channeling notes, angel card readings, and other useful references, like my archetypal wheel.

I just opened to a page in late November 2019, where I wrote the term for IoT in Chinese (物聯網). I don’t even remember this, but my bullet journal does. I enjoy regularly discovering these kinds of treasures, and remind myself how faulty my memory can be, so as to not take anyone’s memory too seriously, including my own.


What changes I’d make/limitations to the system

While solid, it is not a 100% perfect system. Here are a few limitations I’ve found from using the system.

  1. It’s physical. Yes, that’s the point, but I have to carry it everywhere and these notebooks are heavy. Sometimes my bags don’t fit them, and it really benefits most when you’re always able to log things as they happen.
  2. While there is a future log, there is no calendar, unless you create one yourself. I still buy a weekly planner that has calendars on it where I record my daily events in advance. The nice part is that the calendar can be pretty small compared to the ones I used to have, but still it’s an extra book I own.
  3. Using the method takes up a lot of time. It’s definitely an investment that is well-worth it, but depending on circumstances, I may not always get to it every single day, and that can limit its value potential. Some months are just missing completely, where I was too swallowed up in projects at work and only had a chance to do weekly and daily logs. Consistency and continuity becomes compromised. For it to be useful in the way it was intended, you have to review quite regularly as well.
  4. I don’t use it for everything, so it is not a “one thing holds all” solution. For instance, I study languages and I still have separate notebooks for this, so it still brings me the multiple notebook issue. I decided to put my language notes in other books because I want them all together in one place, rather than using the index and threading method to put it together. Saving space and pages may create blank pages, which can also bother me.

Apart from these points I mentioned above, the system has given me my life as I know it today. It is an integral system that organizes, tracks, and recalls information for me, with the promise that I may ameliorate my human limitations by creating a system of accountability that allows me to course-correct a little faster to achieve my goals.


Without the bullet journal method, my days job searching a year ago would have been an absolute mess. I probably would have to do three of the same interviews to find my issues and patch them out. Whereas with my goals clearly laid out, rapid logging, and daily reflections, I was able to find what to change in order to align to my goals. I intend and act, life brings the experience, I get the feedback, I return to my canvas to adjust my behaviour, and continue to intend and act.

I deeply thank Ryder Carroll for creating and sharing this incredible method that has completely transformed my life. Being out on my own in London, away from my family and support systems, I really needed a way to rely on myself and create from scratch the pages of my life. The Bullet Journal has been this system for me, and has given me a life I could not have had without it. It is my intention that my experience inspires others to be more conscious, deliberate creators of their own lives as well, by adopting this method in transforming their own lives.

Why it is Never About ‘Balance’

Many people have one word they would like to remove from the language to make the world a better place. Some good ones I know include the words ‘luck,’ ‘deserve,’ ‘try,’ ‘blame,’ ‘hope,’ ‘want,’ and ‘perhaps.’ Language is indeed important in shaping our thoughts and hence creating our worlds, so it pays off to choose our words carefully.

If there were one word I would seek to remove from our everyday parlance, it’s the word ‘balance.’ I could never stand that word; it bothered me that it was framed as such a positive personal development beacon of truth, yet I would see so many problems with it. I’ve explained to my friends a few times why I dislike this word and why it shouldn’t be used, and to save from me explaining it each time to them, I’ll do a writeup to explain the downside in using the word ‘balance,’ and what it should be replaced with instead.

When do we use the word ‘balance’

We usually hear the word ‘balance’ used in ways such as ‘eat a balanced meal,’ or ‘you’ve got to have a work-life balance.’ In high school, we had to do an exercise called ‘balance of life’ when applying for courses, to ensure our life was ‘balanced.’

To this day, I can’t understand that thinking. If I am taking six courses vs eight courses, how does that ‘balance’ my life? It just determines whether I have more free time, or less free time. That’s it. How is it about ‘balance’?

Take the ‘eating a balanced meal’ example. Usually people like the 80/20 rule to define ‘balance.’ So for a meal you eat 20% of the oiliest chips/fries, and the other 80% you have raw fruit juice. I don’t think that’s a pleasant expression, but it does achieve ‘balance.’

My sister and I noticed this when we were living between the US and Taiwan – the US has a much wider selection of health foods because there’s a demand for ‘balancing out’ all that extremely unhealthy food. The food in the US is insanely tempting, and thus to ‘balance’ it, we eat all these healthy foods to make us feel better – henceforth the demand for these products and the supply to meet it.

The problem with focusing on ‘balance’

From my perspective, focusing on balance has been a detrimental perspective for us to work toward – it justifies our bad habits and actions as somehow alright if we are able to ‘balance them out’ with better ones. Instead of learning not to gossip and bad-mouth others, we’ll do something nice to their face to ‘balance it out’. Instead of learning to release our negative relationship or addictions to foods that are not great for us, we stuff in the ultra healthy health-maximizing superfoods to ‘balance it out.’ Instead of realizing that we may not be present in both our work and our home life, we ‘balance’ the amount of time we spend in each and call it a day.

Using the word balance can also shroud what we need to look at, because through the lens of balance, we incorrectly believe that all we need to do is make sure we are balanced. Let’s say you achieve a perfect work-life balance, but you’re not in the right job for you – then you can’t explain what’s wrong when you’re fatigued and exhausted by a few hours of work. Or you eat a well-balanced meal, but in actuality, your body really needs more of a particular nutrient that isn’t on your perfectly balanced plate.

Replacing the perspective of ‘achieving balance’ with the perspective of ‘choosing expression’

Instead of looking at things through the lens of balance and always trying to manically achieve a balance, I vouch for looking at the expressions we’re creating, and the relationship to those expressions. We need to wholeheartedly choose an expression, creation, and vision of who we would like to be, and express that in full alignment in our everyday lives. Instead of seeking to achieve a balance, we should seek to define and create a specific expression.

For example, you can choose an expression of food and eating that includes an assortment of vegetables and meat, being heavier on the meat side overall, if that’s what serves your body most. You can choose an expression of work-life that may include much more time spent at work, but the fulfillment and satisfaction from that allows you to be much more present and happy when you’re at home with your kids. You can choose an expression of friendship that is about God first, or highest love first, and let that dictate your actions within your relationships accordingly.

When we choose and define an expression first, balance will naturally be achieved.

Life without the need to ever ‘balance it out’

For me, ‘balance’ has always been a problematic way of looking at things. I’ve found that when I choose ‘expression’ instead of ‘balance,’ I’m also forced to define what expression is in my highest good, which holds me to a higher accountability for my actions than achieving or maintaining ‘balance’ is able to.

So, by getting rid of the word ‘balance’ from your vocabulary, what expressions might you create moving forward? How do you think your life would change if you scrapped viewing your life through the lens of balance, and instead, forced upon the perspective of choosing an expression to regulate your everyday decisions?

I can assure that ironically, life is much better balanced with using expression.


The covid diary: moving forward from the pandemic

This is the fifth draft I’ve written in attempt to write something about the Covid19 situation in London since March. I outline, draft, tweak, scrutinize for hours on end, resulting in all but zero posts in the last five (five!) months. So today, my mission is to write – no outline, no final destination, no thesis. Just flow, and the intention to connect and document.

It has been an extremely challenging past five months. I’ve had to adjust my lifestyle and spending habits, while working full-time. Even though my company is remote, as an office and team coordinator I’ve had to adapt a lot of processes. I remember waking up to dread, from the helplessness I felt in response to the handling of the pandemic in the UK.

Having lived through SARS I in Taipei, it was horrendous and scarring to go through the pandemic here. Despite the clear evidence – current and historical – for what had to be done, we decided we were above it all, and that a virus wouldn’t come affect us in particular. This mentality felt more like a disease than the actual virus, which was traumatizing to witness. I’ve felt heartbroken for humanity and how we’ve come to view ourselves with such pride and arrogance. This doesn’t even take into account the juvenile behaviours that happened on a daily basis, such claiming rights on the basis of “I got here first,” or public officials doing getaways during lockdown.

Now at three full months of lockdown, we’re lifting restrictions in about a week. We still have to wait in line before entering the supermarket or visit the post office. The restaurants and barber shops are still closed. But apart from that, my refrigerator is finally looking a little more normal, and I’m able to buy eggs when I need them. Things are loosening up, and while I’m still going to wear my mask (always anyways!), it has got me thinking – what now? What’s next?

What do I want to keep from going through this global pandemic, and what am I letting go of moving forward?

We struggle with change. That’s why we saw so many people resist the changes Covid19 forced onto us. Yet change is the way of things, and nothing was ever made to be permanent. The only constant is what is inside us, and it is our duty and responsibility to tend to the world behind our eyes.

As I look back on this period and bid it an emotional farewell, I ask myself, what maturation have I experienced, and what must I work on moving forward? Did this period teach me anything that indicated the forward strides I must take?

Evaluating myself from a distance, I’d say that everything I had thought about and worked on in 2019 was essential. It was shocking to see the restaurant I had worked at in 2019 disappear in operations in a blink of an eye. While I would have gotten an 80% salary, it would have been very challenging to consider my next move in that economic climate, and I would have stagnated. The life lessons I learned were all crucial in keeping me going. 

Moving forward, I would like to keep a few things. First of all, minimal travel. This began for me in 2018, but I’m focusing even more on figuring out where to settle down so that I can travel less. Ever since travel became more accessible, we haven’t developed a responsible model when it comes to travel. What is appropriate? How much is too much? What downflow effects does it have – not only with our travel, but what other people see through our social media? What if we all chose to settle down a little more? What could happen then?

Second of all, I’m beginning to recognize the importance of living in Truth and sharing it more. I’m not saying this in a “holier than thou” way – if I come across this way, please understand that it is not my intention. The model we’re living and playing out in the West is not working, and we cannot keep it going. Call it ideology, religion, philosophy, mental models – whatever we name it, our approach to life is dysfunctional. From my evaluations, the greatest impediment to our collective evolution is our lack of faith in God and spiritual order. Lack of faith is a dangerous epidemic in our current generation, and I’m beginning to sense a stronger, more urgent need for me to “come out of the closet” with my beliefs and faith. At the very least, I’d like to show another way of doing things, another story we can choose that may work out better, both on the individual and collective level.

There’s so much more I could write about on the subject, but if I do, I’ll continue on for ages. For now, I’ll leave it here for a good edit, then finally publish my second blogpost of the year! I’ve been wanting to produce a lot of content, but never had the attention-span to do so, or the space to take care of my personal expression during this period. I’ll pray that I get a chance (and the courage) to share more of my beliefs and faith, and that it may inspire others to reconsider their ideas as well.

In the meantime, it’s summer in the UK, the pollen is less severe on my allergies, and the peaches, nectarines, and cherries are seriously in season. I am in desperate need of a haircut as well. Who knows what else is next – I ask is that I’m able to flow with these changes, and except for the grace of God go I.


London, after a year of living here!


Just over a year ago, I sat in the EVA Airways VIP lounge, having porridge (well, congee, since porridge in the UK means oatmeal), waiting for my flight. I felt so nervous and uncertain about what was going to happen next, as I was about to board a one-way flight to London, knowing literally nothing about the city – the people in the city, the food, the crime levels, the job market, the areas – none of it. If people asked me, “why London?,” I had no answer, because I literally knew nothing about London, except that it is expensive.

A year later, after fully settling into London, some friends have asked me, “What do you think of London?” and I find myself with a deep, rich story of love and affection for this amazing city that created the greatest change I’ve experienced in my life thus far.

But this blogpost is not about me and my story of change. It is about London, and the amazing, unique experience of living here that you won’t get anywhere else in the world.


What do I think of London? It’s a fascinating city.

The first unique aspect of my experience in London was that I approached it knowing nothing about it, so while I was searching for it to give me an answer, it gave me none.

This is the beauty of London and an aspect I find so intriguing, so fascinating about London – it doesn’t tell you who it is. Instead, you tell London who you are. It asks you who you are.

This was very confusing for me, as the last time my brain was stretched was when I lived in Milan. Milan tells you exactly who it is – this is the city, this is how things are done (this is how we eat!). Los Angeles – even more so; in fact, if you’re a hopeful Hollywooder knocking on doors, LA will also attempt to tell you who YOU are. You better be strong enough to establish yourself within it without getting lost.

London said to me, “Who are you? Are you strong enough to live in a big city? Show me how you express your strength to live in a cosmopolitan, international city of nine million other people from all over the world.”


I came to London with very limited resources, so I didn’t have time to figure out who I was – I just had to get a job ASAP, so I was very, very focused in the first three weeks, looking for a job so I could find a place to live.

I had two options here – my profession, which was marketing and copywriting, or restaurant work. One of my fondest memories of first arriving to London actually were the first times I rode on the tube and saw the advertising. It was so good – it was witty, entertaining, and thought-provoking. I thought I love this place, as I love the marketing in London. I worked pretty hard job searching in advertising, however without success. Thankfully, I landed a job as a waitress, in the nick of time before my finances dried up.

I had prior experience as a waitress in both the US and Taiwan, so combining Asian diligence with American-style service, I had something I could focus on building. As they never trained us on service style, I realized I was pretty much doing my own thing, and as the only American staff, my style seemed to stick out like a sore thumb. To my surprise, I was being rewarded greatly for the way I was different.

This was extremely unusual for me. I had just moved from Taipei, where sticking out excluded me from employment opportunities (except for a few lovely clients who appreciated the different way I worked). Daily I was complimented by the locals for my attentive service, and received regular accolades (and tips!) from my customers for my American-style service (which is currently not common in London, believe me!).

Being rewarded for being different made me realize that London was a very unique, special place. While there were some unspoken standards in place (hence not landing copywriting opportunities), I essentially could play out my own character, and it would pay attention to me, and shape itself around me, finding the right people, places, events, employment opportunities that would match who I was.


While the free-for-all was nice in helping me get started, it came with its challenges. I had to be extremely disciplined to find order within that chaos. The chaos is difficult to navigate in, as even in the city, one out of every few people usually don’t speak a word of English.

One of these memories was early on, I was in a rush to get to work one time, and at some point, the bus driver, speaking poor English, was attempting to communicate to an insistent, persistent family who spoke no English. They held the bus up for a good five minutes, and being new in London, I didn’t understand this behaviour. Now I understand that it’s the way the city doesn’t demand you to be in a certain way, and will shape itself to fit the mold of the person before them. This is why people can live for six years in London, and literally not speak a word of English (this is someone I personally know).

Which while it’s like, great, London is so welcoming, it is absolutely mind-boggling to me, and being honest, I feel frustrated about it, as I adore the English language to no end, and I’m in love with the UK because it is where this beautiful language originated.

The other difficult aspect of this free-for-all energy is I sense people can feel a little helpless within the chaos. I imagine being a local, native UK citizen, having the city continually shape and change based on external factors can feel unstable, and possibly as if something was being taken away. For whatever reason, the British don’t impose and ask people to adapt to their local ways, unlike Italy or Taiwan, where I’ve lived. According to people I spoke to, most native locals who used to live in London have moved out of the city to the suburbs, as it got too expensive and too many non-British people had moved in (London is also the city with the fifth largest Italian population. I can attest to the fact that my Italian served me more than my English early on).


Now I’m not saying that this city is a you can do whatever you want place and there are no rules and anyone can make it – American Dream 2.0! No, that is definitely not the case. London is a tough city – it’s a highly competitive, international market, and its beauty comes with a high price to pay if you’re living in the city. It is still bound to the economics of supply and demand, however, you have a surprising level of influence in shaping how that supply is delivered, and how people receive what they’ve demanded. And you watch things shape and change as you push your energy into it.

A city like Los Angeles, in contrast and in my experience, is much more unyielding with its existing structures – you either make it or you don’t, and there’s not always a place for you. It’s also pretty standard to expect, especially if you’re in the labourforce, that you would know English, so you can communicate for things like healthcare and our favorite – visiting the DMV.


Closing the discussion up though, what I have really, really appreciated so much about London is that I’ve been able to be self-expressive, while at the same time learning to adapt. I’ve had to adapt to surviving in the city (with my personal flair!), and I had to do a lot of adapting (and am still adapting) to the global job market, which has changed so much from hiding out in Taiwan.

What I have come to use as a guiding force in navigating living in London has been to be grateful for being appreciated for being me, and in turn, take that as a responsibility to follow through with integrity and work with greater principles to make London a better place. I’ve chosen only to do what is truly aligned, and slowly build whatever influence I can have to grow the city in positive ways.

Other things I find fascinating about London:

  • Customer service is really, very bad here, and I’m not entirely sure why. In part, it could be the more reserved culture, or the fact that it’s hard to establish a standard with so many different cultures perceiving the service without context (if you’re coming from a particularly economically poor country for instance, it is a little off putting to experience that warm American, enthusiastic customer service…you might even get scared off I suppose).
  • People use credit cards a lot less compared to Americans. I noticed this when I was working daily taking up to hundreds of payments a day, and most Londoners were paying by debit card. Could definitely say something about the culture compared to the US as well, where we have ten credit cards for all the different retail stores we frequent. But my hypotheses are definitely inconclusive – it could mean they have massive credit card debts already as well!
  • There are these ethnic, cultural huddles – one of my friends here says he hardly gets an opportunity to speak English, because he’s living with people from his country. His situation is definitely not uncommon, as I know multiple other people who live in this manner in London and feel they never get to speak English.
  • And of course the standard expectation – it’s expensive here. Just imagine everything you’d see in dollars in central Los Angeles (or Irvine), but in pounds instead. It is expensive here. Rent is comparable to what I saw in Los Angeles a few years ago – not sure if it’s gone up by now though.

So there’s a little insider look into what my thoughts of London after having lived here for a year. These are just my own experiences and how I’ve perceived them, and I’m extremely grateful to be here. I’ve been able to establish my own little world through my discipline in my work life in London, having gone from knowing literally no one to having such beautiful friendships and connections, and a fantastic job in the industry I love. Having done this in a work context, I’m excited for the next piece I write on what I think about London – Relationships & Dating Edition. 🙂 

Super happy to be writing and publishing another blogpost – the first one of the year! Now if I can get my goals together, I’ll put together another piece on my 2020 goalsetting – though the year is already coming close to being 10% over! What a January it’s been yeah? Let’s see what’s in store for February 2020.

Until then!

Life Lessons 2019

It’s officially the last month of 2019, and I really wonder how that happened. It was just yesterday I was in Taipei preparing (and worrying about) my move to London. At the same time, when I look at who I was at the start of this year, so much has happened that I wonder how it hasn’t been at least three years since I was the person I was in December 2018.

Before I go into the main lessons I learned in 2019, I wanted to recap the year, what I accomplished and where I fell short – and the biggest goal I fell short of accomplishing was working on my creativity, mainly writing. I had a goal to write at least forty published blogposts, and I wrote three. Yes, large fail. However, one of my other goals (I had eight with the Future Authoring program), came to manifest six months in advance, and that one was arguably the most far-fetched goal I had set when I wrote them down. To keep things in perspective, I could always sit down and force myself to write forty blogposts, but some other goals are much more subject to outside forces and take a lot more work to make happen. So, while I fell short on four of my goals, I had accomplished the other four pretty well, which I think is already a miracle. The four I accomplished certainly were much more stretching than the other ones, and required a huge leap of faith (whereas, accomplishing writing forty blogposts doesn’t really take a leap of faith for me at this point).

So suffice to say, this year has gone much better than my wildest expectations and wildest dreams – and I don’t say that lightly! I’m genuinely impressed, and now, I can finally speak with some authority to myself from a year before, about the challenges I was facing in this section of my life and how to conquer them. This is what I would advise myself a year before on what I would come to learn in the year that followed.


Lesson One: Principles exist, and they work.

It’s easy to have integrity when you have everything at your feet – shelter, food, finances, etc. Well, easier at least, though it ultimately depends on what you perceive you lack. However, when you really might not have a place to sleep the next day, or are not even sure if you can afford the Tesco Meal Deal for the rest of the week, your integrity can really be tested. Will you sell yourself so that you have shelter and food? Will you compromise on principles, turn your back to God (or the principles/values that guide the Universe – not the ones you hold, but the Laws that govern the greater system), so that you can experience physical security, and worse, not feel humiliated?

My experience is that when these are tested, if you stick to them, you come to find that principles truly do exist. People sometimes wonder, how to have faith in something – just because someone tells you something, will you have faith in it? No, the only way to have faith anything is if you test them out yourself and see the outcome. I find that since a lot of us have become really scared to try things, out of fear of what others may think of us or just not wanting to give up what’s comfortable, we’ve lost something much more valuable in return – faith.

Thanks to my leap to come here with minimal amounts of finances this year, at the times where I was tested, instead of attempting to salvage the problem with patterns of choices I made before, I prayed. Not because I felt powerless, but because I knew (had faith) there had to be a way without needing to default back to the ways of life I had before that weren’t working out for me. I just didn’t yet know what that was, and by prayer and faith, the ways were revealed to me. This, in turn, grew my faith in ways I never imagined possible. It allows less room for me to bought/sold by the allure and security of even primal security, or to be traded by shiny fancy objects, knowing that I have experienced having nothing and was still able to make my way through things, and I’m ultimately going to be alright.

Anyways, I definitely learned that principles exist and they work – if you ever feel like you’re doing something kind of dirty/wrong, it’s because you are, and you will have to pay for it at some point in the future. Economics is ultimately precise, just that we don’t dictate the scope or timeline of that precision.


Lesson Two: You know more than you admit.

A year ago over the summer, I dated the first guy that really “cheated” on me – I put it in quotations because he wasn’t my boyfriend, but we had agreed to be exclusive. The whole time, I felt something was really off, and I had continually confronted him about it, and he continually denied my concerns, and even turned to blame me at times. However, in the end it came out that he was lying – he indeed had been hooking up with girls at parties, and was still messaging a lot of new prospects along the way. Lovely.

This has happened so many times in romantic relationships, work situations, relationships with family, friends, and coworkers. Why do we have this instinct to doubt the impressions we receive? If I count the times my impression was off compared to the times it was en pointe, it is a very low number in comparison – and often only because those people were busy with something else I was not a part of and didn’t know about. We really know a lot more than we admit, and this year I trusted myself and these impressions lot more than I usually do. I turned out to be right in my impressions, and they helped me navigate very uncertain situations.

I began trusting my intuition and impressions more – not just the ones that came up, but also, in decisions that hadn’t been made yet, I would really pay close attention to whether I felt something off about what someone was saying or a choice I was facing, and was able to follow through on a lot of harmoniously serendipitous events and situations that supported me in getting me places I needed to go. 

As long as we’re not clinging onto a specific agenda for the way we need things to be, I’ve found that not only do we already know the answers to a lot of the questions we have, but also, we are able to access a lot more information than we think we can, and can know what’s going on in most situations.


Lesson Three: I’ll never be finished.

Over seven years ago, I took a leap similar to the one I took at the start of this year, and landed in Europe for the first time, in Italy, speaking absolutely zero Italian. I was also having a personal spiritual crisis after realizing I had fueled my entire self-worth based on what my ego could build, so I was in a very fragile state with my self-image as well. I spent all my waking hours peeling the layers back, learning to walk humbly, and absorbing the beautiful culture in Italy. Within three months, I was a completely new person – I was speaking Italian, I had an Italian boyfriend who loved me dearly, and for the first time in my life, I had developed true self-esteem and self-love.

Here’s where it then all messed up: I thought I was done. So for the next seven years, my growth rate was zero for the most part (hey, I learned to cook and raise a cat), and I was wondering why I was so unhappy. No one else could figure it out either, because I had accomplished much more than what most people accomplish in a lifetime – speaking multiple languages fluently, creating a loving partnership, healing wounds from decades and likely even centuries back, and developing proper self-esteem.

When I came to London, even though I had already lived in Italy for four years before, I realized I knew nothing about the Eastern European countries, for example. I had never even met anyone from the smaller, post-communist countries, and I realized I know nothing! I studied and learned to read the Cyrillic alphabet on my commutes. While I already speak Italian and Spanish to a decent fluency, I now want to learn Bulgarian and Russian, and the cultural history behind these countries, understanding them in a way I understand Italy.

I took a trip to Portugal two years prior – and I said to my friend, if I ever move to Portugal, I’m not learning Portuguese. Why? What on earth was I thinking? Of course I want to learn Portuguese too. Quero falar portugues!

Now I’m working in a tech company, I want to learn computer languages, hardware hacking, and just about everything I can about the industry and its economics. I want to know what’s going on when I connect devices together, and I want to be able to command my computer to do things for me like my colleagues can.

We’re never going to be finished. Just because compared to other people I’m worldly and a dainty little well-travelled [spoiled] globe-trotter, it doesn’t mean that I’m done, and moreover, these privileges are not entitlements from which I’m to gain. They’re for me to be in greater service to the world, to exercise greater power and integrity in this world, and with this directive, I am never, ever finished.

It’s been humbling to say I know nothing of your world, show me please, and that I follow through in whatever way I can to continue to develop myself, to harness and take advantage of whatever opportunities Life places before me, and to use them to be of greater service to the world.

I’ll never be finished with being who I am, and I’m so grateful that I even have the opportunity to be who I am, being free of problems I had created before by having atoned for them last year. It’s not something exclusive to me at all, we all have to bring out who we are into this world, and never think we’re finished with being who we are.



So there we have it, three of my greatest life lessons of 2019 that I would tell myself at the start of this year to embody, as they would help me get to where I need to go much faster than I had ever thought possible. What I would like to learn and accomplish for next year is getting myself further involved and entangled with what’s going on in the world, and see how my participation in it can be a good influence with the same principles I learned this year. My goal is that I’ll be ready for them as this year comes to a close, and I start on my journey of creating into reality my intentions and goals for 2020 (which by the way, still have to get done).

It’s really been a fulfilling year, and I’ll be deeply grateful if I can have just as fulfilling of a year to come. Thank you 2019, hats off to you, and let’s get 2020 together.

Three Books I Read This Year

It’s the halfway mark month of the year, and this year has been flying by like no other. With that said, I’ve also accomplished much more than I have this year than in any other year. I think part of it has to do with having pushed myself to be out there a lot more, but another part is just the level of focus I’ve been giving to the things that matter. When it comes to survival, you really want to be on the right side of all of it. It’s been a great experience so far.

One thing that has been wonderfully different this year is that I finished reading some books. I used to be in the middle of at least fifty different books – and I still am – but I could hardly recount finishing just one book at the end of a year. I would also attribute part of this bad habit to the writers as well – they seem to get tired about the three-quarters way of the book, and the writing and focus gets fuzzy, repetitive, and unclear. I found it hard to get through most of the books I read this year as well because of that.

With that said, I still got through three important books this year that I really loved and wanted to share, in the order of having completed them.


The first book I finished reading this year is Jordan B. Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life. It’s a popular book and has a lot of controversy because of him as a person. Placing any political views aside and avoiding taking sides on the personal attacks people made on him, I really found his book helpful at this point in my life to read and absorb. I’ve actually begun re-reading it as well, because I enjoyed especially the first few chapters a lot.

Peterson gives us twelve guidelines to follow for living life – I would describe it as what he calls a righteous life, one that can have a greater meaning beyond oneself. I absolutely loved this idea from the first moment I came into contact with it, because prior to that, I thought my life was about being happy. By the time I got to this book, I was pretty much sold on the fact that a life well-lived was nothing to do with being happy,

I was first introduced to this author by a friend of mine who shared a video clip of Peterson speaking about how we shouldn’t make it a goal to shelter and protect our children. It was a new idea for me, as I thought a lot about how I would protect my kid growing up, not realizing that the feathered nest is the most dangerous nest of all.

I observed people who shelter their kid – making sure the kid feels encouraged about everything, they protecting the kid, and finding reasons to not bring them outside or do certain things. I observed other people doing exactly the opposite – let the kid go out and live, get hurt, make his/her own mistakes, and see how they learn from them. I have ambivalent feelings toward this. On one hand, I felt like lack of loving encouragement creates a lot of issues for people growing up, but at the same time, I feel even more uncomfortable with the level of nurturing support some people demonstrate to their kids.

I don’t have a clear answer for it, but I can say that I do feel more comfortable with the idea of letting the kid make his/her own mistakes, and handling my own insecurities and fears around letting my kid be off on their own and leaving the nest. I would hope to be able to allow as much hand-letting-go as possible at any point of development for the kid, while passing on the best principles and values I can. But my ideas may change as I approach that time as well, and it will have a lot to do with my partner and how we choose to raise kids as well.

Anyways, back to the book – I gained a lot from the discourse in the book related to the principle I just laid out: is life about being happy and joyful, or is it about a kind of shouldering the darkness through the sacred act of responsibility? Through a series of events in my life over the past few years, I came to realize that the world isn’t a happy place to be in, and that the sooner I accepted that, the sooner I could change that in better ways. I had the deep blessing of developing a strong spiritual connection early on in my life, and with this, I gained a curse of believing the world was a friendly place to be in – naively stumbling into horrible situations and not being able to comprehend at all what was wrong, refusing to give up the “friendly universe” paradigm. One of the graces and most important lessons I received from the difficult experiences is that the world is a dark, harsh place where evil does exist and operate – no, it’s not just the ‘absence of the light,’ it’s a real physical force that causes a lot of destruction.

The solution to my paralysis came in the form of spiritual direction, as well as Jordan B. Peterson’s insights. Investing my time, money, and energy into studying this book was a real lifesaver as I moved into unchartered territory and had to work to let go of everything I gained from before, starting from nothing as much as possible. I would not be here without the principles laid out in this book, and I am really glad I read this book this year.


Second book – Love from Heaven, by Lorna Byrne. This book is a really, really simple read, but it also turned out to be really meaningful and impactful for me. Lorna’s approach is a lot more in line with ‘the universe is a friendly place’ idea, but I was more focused on the way I personally was impacted through the reading of the book.

My greatest takeaway from this book is that love is an unseen, physical force that for whatever reason, Lorna can visibly see. The way she described many cases of people loving or not loving themselves, what that looks like in the nonphysical realm, what the angels say about it – all of it helped me to personify and physicalize the concept of love to me as a force I could remind myself of each and every day. I already do have strong faith in Love and Power, but this book served as an important reminder of that to myself, and helped me to release more of the love I have. I prayed a lot throughout the reading of this book, as well as with 12 Rules, and was guided back to the love that resides within me, and how I could apply it to many areas of my life. I was also brought to this book after setting an intention of knowing I am love, so it was a beautiful weaving of the manifesting of that intention.


The final book I finished reading this year (so far) is Give Up to Get On, by Peg Streep and Alan Bernstein. This book was one that was jumping out at me when I saw it, and I’m so glad I picked it up and read through the whole thing. Like the other two books, at times it got repetitive, but the message was so crucially important. The authors write about how we live in a culture where persistence and pulling through is encouraged, and quitting is discouraged, but there are serious downsides to this approach. From early on in the book, the ‘wrong ways to quit’ were also detailed – so it was clear that this isn’t a case of giving up whenever you encounter something difficult. Rather, it is more about the idea of properly disengaging with goals that do not work for us, so that we can set different goals that are in alignment with who we are. It shares a lot of psychological experiments on the subject which shed light on the illusion that we didn’t make something happen because we aren’t good enough – a pervasive cultural myth.

One of my greatest takeaways from this book was in a section that discussed the difference between a ‘state-oriented’ individual and an ‘action-oriented’ individual. I definitely fall into the ‘state-oriented’ type of individual – one that can get paralyzed by an exterior situation inducing a specific state in us (as well as easily uplifted by an exterior event), and those who are state-oriented find it very difficult to quit situations that are not good for us. It has a lot to do with childhood rearing and the level of attachment and security a child feels growing up. ‘Action-oriented’ people, on the other hand tend to move on pretty quickly from one situation to another through applying action and not getting stymied by their state.

I identified my sister to be much more action-oriented than I was – certain things that our parents would say to us wouldn’t affect her as much as it would affect me, and she seemed to go out and do things without too much trouble, whereas I would plan, prep myself emotionally and mentally, then go do it – maybe, depending on my state at the time. She on the other hand, tends to prep herself physically a little, and then just goes out to do it. I found the revealing of my type of orientation to exterior events to be very helpful, as being aware of it helped remind me it wasn’t something I should let stop me, only to be aware of the kind of person I am and help me move through things as they came along.

State-oriented people, by the way, enjoy deeper connection with those around them because we tend to share our feelings and open up to a deeper dimension. This is definitely true of me, so there’s so much good to it as well, as long as we learn how to manage these tendencies and develop ourselves accordingly.

So those are the three books I read and finished this year so far. I’m currently reading a couple others, and it does help that I usually have a commute when I get myself around in the city. I presume it will be more difficult later on to be able to spend so much time reading – as I have a partner and kids and what not – so I’m intent on making the best use of my time now to enjoy what I have.

Let me know if you get a chance to read any of these books, and what you think of them. I’m excited to read more this year and get a major dent going on in my reading list.


Elite Cafe Westin Dining Experience in Taipei

A few months ago at the end of 2018, I had the opportunity to exquisitely dine at the Westin Taipei – once at the Elite Cafe, standard Western cuisine, for a full five-course meal, and another at Liu Yuan, Shanghaiese fusion cuisine, for an impressive nine-course meal. The experience I’m writing about here is my five-course lunch at Elite Cafe.

I went on a Friday afternoon, after 1PM where usually people have already finished eating, so most people there were having tall-decked tea cake stands for high tea, and I was enjoying my five-course lunch set. Once I ordered my main course – the rest of the menu was set – I enjoyed myself in a comfortable, relaxing environment. There was calming music (live classical piano at one point!), a comfy green armchair, and a view of a serene, placid fountain pond outside, with maple leaves drifting upon the surface. It was really rejuvenating to sit there, writing, contemplating, and reflecting on my feelings about what had been in 2018, and what was coming ahead for me in 2019.


The first dish that arrived was the garden salad on a bed of lightly fried crab cake, embellished with fresh pink grapefruit and a sparkling vinaigrette dressing. I loved the way the crab cake was so lightly fried that it was just crispy enough at the edges, but still light and refreshing to go along with the salad and grapefruit slices. I was initially a little dubious about the dressing – it had sparkles in it – but it added to the visual experience of a dancing, fresh appetiser to open your meal. It was a classic, delicious vinaigrette dressing, with sparkles, which I truly adored and finished every drop.

Those have lived with me know that I love cooking with pumpkin, and I make some really delicious pumpkin dishes. However, I don’t cook in Taiwan, so to be served a hearty, well-made pumpkin soup is always nostalgic and very soothing to my soul. I hardly ever have a great pumpkin soup because I don’t visit these restaurants so often, and this was a deliciously pumpkin-creamy and light soup, with crisp water chestnut pieces and roasty flavors to complement the beautiful, naturally rich taste of creamed, blended pumpkin.

The next dish, a risotto, I was intially also dubious about, just because I don’t take to cheeses so well. Having grown up in Taiwan where cheese is not particularly popular, the quality of cheese is not great, and you end up with a bad stomach. In 2012, I had risotto in Italy, for the first time after a nightmare risotto in a Taiwanese restaurant serving “Italian” food over a decade prior. I realized from living in Italy that when the produce is high quality, it won’t upset your stomach, and it tastes amazing. Italy truly has the best food produce in any country I’ve been to.

Anyways, as for the dish, it was fantastic as well. The braised scallop juices melt onto the risotto, sitting upon a fresh marinara sauce. It was like having a classic seafood tomato pasta dish, but with much more class and elegance. The plating was amazing on every dish – and I completely and thoroughly ate through all of it with pleasurable appreciation.

Coming into the main, I knew it would be an amazing dish – and it was. First of all, I love a good steak, and veal always adds this additional quality of tenderness to a classic rump steak – it’s soft, velvety, and naturally has the delicious flavors of a perfectly done pink-hued steak. It tastes like a steak being cooked rare without being undercooked – perfect for those of us who are irrationally paranoid about the myoglobin in muscle tissue.

The veal was exactly as I hoped it would be – tender, juicy, delicious, perfectly paired with outer encrusting of dijon mustard breadcrumbs. The fried bread on the side was a perfect complement – rather than a creamy mash that fills you up too much, a fluffy, crispy lightly buttered bread tasted perfect with the veal. I truly savored and devoured this dish with great appreciation.

At the end of the meal, there was a chocolate dessert cake – they actually didn’t tell me what it was, but it had a core of what tasted like a thick honeyed chestnut cake, covered by classic thick chocolate cake dusted with dark cacao powder and marron glacé at the top. It was a typical cake – nothing particularly spectacular I have to say – but I always enjoy having something sweet – and best yet when it’s chocolate – to end a beautiful meal and let me know it’s time to go.

Living in Taiwan, you end up accepting that when it comes to Western restaurants, you never know what to expect (and you rely heavily on TripAdvisor). I would say Elite Cafe is not a high-end Western dining experience, but it really hits the spot for when you want a solid, classic Western five-course meal, and can expect the dishes to be well done, produce to be well-sourced, and enjoy a relaxed, calm dining experience where you can also sit and chat easily. I also have to say the service was definitely spot-on – they were always attentive, and I truly felt welcomed. It was clear that all their staff want their guests to have a great dining experience, and I really appreciated that level of service.



I am eager return to Elite Cafe, and would take people I do business with or just friends for a lunch out to enjoy. It’s great to know there’s places we can rely on to go to in Taipei for well-done, well-managed, delicious dining experiences.

Okinawa trip, and the fragility of life

In November last year, I took a trip with my mom to Okinawa to visit her older sister, who lives there. From when I was young, living in San Jose, I remember receiving large boxes from my Japanese aunt (she is Taiwanese, but married to a Japanese) with goodies from Japan, especially the Shiroi Koibito White Chocolate Langues de Chat biscuits from Hokkaido. I always had such a fond impression of my aunt, Japan, and Asia, even before I had ever visited, and always felt close to the Japanese culture.

I had gone to Okinawa ten years before, in 2008. That trip, we went as a family and visited all the tourist attractions, as a vacation – beaches, hotel resorts, food, museums, and sea caves. My fondest memory that trip was having “sea grapes” – a green algae seaweed that pops like champagne grapes with fresh sea water when you eat them. And of course, Kokuto – delectable brown sugar produced from a slow-boil heating of raw sugar cane juice from Okinawa. It’s truly a wonderful place.

But my intention this time wasn’t to enjoy these pleasures, even though I did. It was to accept the fragility of life, and see the strength and grace that comes in holding the truth of our mortality.


Intentions and the Unfolding of Life

My primary intention for the Year of the Dog was to reinstate my faith in God. The Year of the Dog Chinese New Year dinner was the last dinner we had with my paternal grandmother. It’s still difficult for me to think about it, because while we didn’t get along personality-wise, she was genuinely a good person. And when a genuinely good person leaves this planet, you feel a light go out.

Along with that hardship my parents and I went through for two years in Taipei, an unexpectedly high number of other irreversible illnesses came up in my extended family. It made us all feel quite vulnerable, and changed a lot for my cousins and parents.

That I had made this my primary intention and stuck fiercely to my commitment and decision really tested me that year, but it became foundational to the path I’m on today. What I experienced from the past year was that life is very fragile, regardless of what you believe about illnesses and disease. While I believe that there is a lot we can do to improve ourselves and our lives, I also came to hold true that we don’t control anything. Our Soul has its nature, and we do not have command over that, nor can we prevent something in our contract. I had to learn to not judge the path of another, no matter what, and instead, to trust the path laid out before me, living with a higher integrity for my actions and staying focused in this direction.


Strive to Live with Integrity

Going to Okinawa this time, I wanted to visit my aunt before I left Taiwan, and enjoy my time with people while they’re still around. To appreciate them for who they are, to learn not to judge, and to experience how I could be of a greater light in people’s lives while we’re all still here. I found that the single greatest accomplishment we can strive for is to live in the highest integrity we can, as this will affect everything that happens in your future. And never, ever even think you can get away with anything – you can’t.

Over the year, I dropped a lot of dead weight around youthful diversions and things that do not truly matter when looking through a longer time frame. Death and disease really puts those things in perspective for you. I started asking myself if my decisions today would lead me to who I wanted to be in years’ time, and whether what I did today would make those who taught me my principles proud of my character. I began to look for orient myself in ways that could make my life more meaningful, and I stopped feeling cheated out of my integrity by others.

This quiet trip to Okinawa really helped see how much I changed from ten months prior, and it definitely felt good to me. A lot of grace goes into decisions like that, and I’m truly humbled to be a recipient of it, and pray to honor it in every step along my path.


2019 Goalsetting

When was the last time you said you really wanted to achieve something, then actually made it? It’s a pretty amazing, satisfying feeling, isn’t it?  Given that it’s the new year, I thought to share some reflections on my experiences with goalsetting, when it didn’t work out, what I changed, and how it has progressed for me over the years. My intention is to inspire you to set your goals for this year, as there is still time to set them for Lunar New Year of the Pig (Boar. Whatever.).

Earlier today, I was chatting with my friend about setting goals and intentions for the lunar new year (which I deem to be more of a “real” new year than that of the Gregorian calendar), and how last year I set intentions for the Lunar New Year of the Dog instead for a change. She asked what I had set, and I remembered my main intention, but I decided to have a look and review at my goals in more detail. I had written five pages detailing the goals I wanted to create, and around 75% of the goals came together, and certainly the most important ones came to fruition.

Why does this happen – what is the mechanic behind setting goals and having them manifest? Once we set our sights on what we really want, we begin orienting ourselves towards that goal. Day after day, decision after decision, it comes into reality as we take steps in that direction. However, it doesn’t always happen that we create the goals we set out for. When goals are set out of insecurity, lack, filling a void that you don’t want to face, or if you have an operant sin occuring in your life at the time, your goals won’t be able to manifest.


My Personal Journey of Goalsetting

The first goal I officially set was in Kindergarten (I remember because I told my Kindergarten teacher about it) – I wrote about having two beanie babies in my Hello Kitty journal. I got them a few weeks later from McDonald’s, and a trip to the local beanie baby store with my mom and older brother. I thought this was kind of cool, but I didn’t think much of it.

Later on growing up, I was in fifth grade when we had an assembly in the high school gym, and I saw the banners of Hall of Fame sports players. I remember the exact moment I said to myself, staring at the banners, I am going to have one of those when I graduate this school, no matter what. I had just started playing badminton, but I knew I wanted my name on a huge banner above the word “BADMINTON.” This was a truly clean goal I had, and it carried me through some extremely brutal endurance trainings with my former coaches and training with local sports schools.

Once I hit middle school, I began setting goals on the grades I wanted to have on my report cards. I dreamt of the pride I would feel about my own intelligence – always feeling like I never measured up to my brother’s intelligence – and finally being able to prove that I was one of the smart kids, too. These goals were harder to achieve, because they were highly driven by what other people thought of me.

This miserably carried on for a while, until I was in my two-month internship at Starbucks Taiwan where I was first introduced by my coworkers to “The Secret” and the Law of Attraction. I had always, always wanted a boyfriend growing up. But I didn’t think there was anything I could do about it really, until I learned about this method of goalsetting. I decided I would focus on it, now that something could be done about it! But nothing happened in that department for me until more than two years later. This goal was fully driven by a deep fear and the greatest insecurity of the possibility that deep down inside, I am not lovable. Having a boyfriend, it seemed, would stand as the irrefutable negation of that fearful thought.

The process of pursuing this goal over three years drove me out of a lot of illusions and into a greater expansion of truth. Definitely a quantum leap, as once you truly erase the idea that you’re not lovable, your life changes in incalculable ways. Your perspective of everything changes, and people’s bargaining power and command over you and your energy shifts immeasurably as well.

Until you then commit a sin. Then it gets complicated again.


My Year of the Dog Goalsetting

My main intention in my goalsetting work for the Year of the Dog, was to remove a sin I had committed years prior, and all the ways it was still operating in my life. I’m happy to say I live free from this wrong turn today, from having removed everything I had gained from this choice and letting go of the attachments I had to the “benefits” that came from the wrongdoing.

What I learned from constrasting my 2017 and 2018 goals is that when we commit a wrongdoing, life will not let us continue in a “normal” way until we correct for that wrongdoing. My 2017 goals were full of great ideas, great plans and dreams to continue my life in a more positive direction after I had experienced the most emotionally crippling breakup in 2016. I decided I would just “forgive” and “move on,” but after a year of attempting everything and finding myself still fighting the same problems, I realized that we can’t move on until we remove what we had done wrong and deeply processed what took place.

Facing this was the most challenging fear I have had to face to date – I think it was even worse than facing the deep-seated fear we all have that we might not be lovable, because this was about deep, dark shame of acting out our shadow energy. This was me deliberately having done something against what my better judgment required of me, and creating much more damage than if I had held back my dark desires to manipulate the fabric of reality.

It took an entire year – well, almost an entire year, still a week from Year of the Pig! – to remove it from my life. I’m on my knees in grace that my 2018 intentions were to focus on clearing this sin, despite not having stable work and the fears that crept in on my financial situation. I somehow was supported by Life to keep going without needing to resort to depending on someone else. But my main 2018 intention was to reinstate my faith in God, or a greater order of Life if preferred, rather than my own ability to manipulate/”create” reality.

In February 2018, I began praying and working on a spiritual practice. I studied materials on spirituality again. In March and April 2018, I began studying the Catholic sacrament of confession, and penance, and putting it into practice in my own way. In May 2018, I went to Los Angeles to clean up everything I had left behind there since 2016, to clear up the mess. I returned to Taiwan feeling twenty pounds lighter. In July 2018, I held, with the help of my event-planner friend Jenny, my “21st birthday party” a few years late, in a way I really wanted to, including performing music to my friends. I also [very] short-term dated a guy, while holding to one of my Year of the Dog intentions that I love:

Without this intention (which I obviously don’t remember that I wrote when I was dating this guy), I would not have moved forward positively in the way I did, and would have gotten into unnecessary messes. They’re powerful words, and I can say that this was not true of me when I wrote the goal, and today, it is.


On the Subject of Goalsetting

So, in this long blogpost, I’ve discussed a lot – goalsetting, when it’s not effective, what happens when you’ve done something wrong and cannot push forward, and clearing the path to have proper goals. Goalsetting is a seriously complicated process. It’s confusing for me as to why we simplify goalsetting into, “Set SMART goals!” Or “Get past the first 21 days of your new year’s resolutions, and it is well on its way!” Mhm, call me when that works out for you.

No, rather, goalsetting takes the most brutal honesty with yourself you can muster up the courage to encounter. It requires you to take full stock of where your life is today, and be willing to change directions where appropriate, with complete disregard of what you think you want. It certainly isn’t about the car you’ve always wanted, or the partner that will prove you’re not an unlovable loser. Done right, by enough people, it can transform the world from the horrors we’ve experienced in the 20th Century and the recent past few years.

My Year of the Dog intentions structures looked like this:

  • Spiritual Goals (7)
  • Emotional Goals (6)
  • Mental Goals (5)
  • Physical Goals (5)

Areas of Life

  • Health (3)
  • Relationships (3)
  • Lifestyle (2)
  • Career (5)
  • Finances (3)
  • Music (5)
  • Education (3)

I then had a breakdown of goals for the months, starting February 2018, up to September 2018.

With this structure, I was able to clear my past wrongdoings and move in a better direction for myself. I hardly compared myself to anyone else in that time, because I just couldn’t, given I had committed this wrongdoing I had to clean it up. It is extremely liberating to see how 2018 unfolded with so much grace and atonement.


My 2019 Goalsetting Processes

This year, my sister and I set intentions while eating cakes (mm by the ocean? Kidding) and white wine during countdown. It was great; we really channeled solid intentions that are still in effect for both of us today.

After that, I followed a more structured program for goalsetting this year, with Jordan B. Peterson’s Future Authoring program. It took a total of about twelve to fifteen hours to write the almost thirty pages of goalsetting details for just eight main goals, over the course of two weeks. I had to face a lot of fears about myself and who I am, and course correct a lot from where I was, after detailing out the goals. I stuck to every section of it however, and when I completed it, it truly felt very complete as a set of goals. It is a really powerful process that took what I already did for so many years to much greater heights. I’m looking forward to see how it will run its course.


The Human Journey of Becoming

I used to approach goalsetting as if it were my time to get out everything that I want, but after my experience from the previous year, I came to a much higher level of self-accountability and responsibility, requiring a different level of who I am. Goals and setting them is and has always been about the person you become in the process, and that’s the place we should be focused on. Our entire life consists of us creating ourselves as individuals in the relative world – and who we choose to be has always been up to our choice in what to pay attention to. I am profoundly grateful for the fact that I’ve been setting goals since I was five years old, and developed the muscle over the years in the way I have.

As I encourage everyone to pick up goalsetting as well, wherever you’re at, and I offer a lead for where you can start. Start with this simple question: If nothing else were to happen this year for you, what is the one thing you would like to see happen?

If you just get that together, your year will be better than if you paid zero attention to the life you wish to create. While we don’t dictate the outcomes in our lives, I do hold to the truth that we harbor tremendous creative power in the decision to follow our greatest destiny, or to stumble into fated tragedies.

I’ve set my goals for my year, and I’m really, really looking forward to how it plays out. Praying in grace.