Finding some gratitude

Wow, what a week! All I can say is that I am so happy the holidays are over. I felt I experienced a series of bad luck week after week.

It started with the first weekend of December, when I was planning to do some holiday shopping. I wanted to plan ahead of time. My car battery died. I thought it needed some charging so I had to let it charge for a few hours. The car battery was only good for 4 days and I was stranded at a Trader Joe’s parking lot. Then we had to charge it again — enough to last me for the following day and get a new car battery. I got a new car battery and it cost me 120 dollars. Ouch. That was enough to get me gifts for the family I was sponsoring, my white elephant gift for work, and a white elephant gift for my friend’s dinner party. It would still leave me off with 30 dollars to buy Christmas cards and other fun stuff.

Then the following week I got sick. Enough said.

Then the week after I got my PayPal account hacked and they took out 1100 dollars from my checking account. That was probably the worst of all for the month. I told my fiance how I felt the universe must be doing great because it’s expending on my luck for that to happened. He kept telling me to not dwell on it. It’s so easy just dwell and mope. I mean these people took a lot of money from me and I’ve been trying to save money these past few months. It was a headache trying to call PayPal and my bank back and forth everyday that week and asking for temporary credit and when will I get my money back. I still had holiday shopping to do!

But then I realized something…I realized maybe I shouldn’t dwell on all the bad things and let it get to me. The day I got my PayPal hacked was when our client gave us a gift and took us out for lunch. Also my CTO gave me a gift too. I realized I let a good day go sour — or actually…a good week go sour. When I took a picture of my gifts for my daily photo on Instagram (I know that’s cheesy)..it made me realize that I forgot about life’s details. A year ago and maybe years before that I was treated terrible at work. Last year I almost got fired just to get actually fired a few month later. Last year I started a new job with big pharma fatty who treated me awful and refused to give me a voucher for a pair of steel toe shoes. Then the years before I was just simply put it…I was under a couple of slave drivers. They were always giving me extra work because they have to leave earlier for a blah blah excuse or just didn’t want to do it. The work still had to be done because we worked in cell culture. What sucked was when I needed help because I was sick, they didn’t help me.

But anyways, compared to other years, the holidays for 2013 were probably the better ones. Even though I lost a lot of money during that month, I have to realized, I have the best job ever. I am at a job that I do look forward to every Sunday. I get treated very well. I mean last year, I had a supervisor who didn’t bother to give me a pair of 120 dollar pair of steel toe shoes when I started my QA job — no matter how many times I followed up. Before that in my first job, I got sloppy seconds everything. When I started my Project Coordinator job in July 2013, I got a laptop, an iPhone, name placard, and briefcase. I thought “wow, I get all this? What did I do to deserve this?”A month before that I was let go from my contract job. Weird how life goes… I went from being walked all over for years and one day there was a break and I stood up and just found myself walking. Even though it’s been five months, this feeling still feels new in a very, very good way :-). But I’ll go more about those feelings another time…

My fiance is right…I shouldn’t let these events dwell on me.

“Are you on a diet?”

There has been multiple times when I found myself in this situation where people assume I’m on a diet. Maybe I’m on a budget and instead of buying more food from the grocery store, I am making recipes with spinach before the spinach spoils.

Another situation that happened multiple times was how my former cubicle mate would always give me her snacks and I use to take her snacks but then I would get sick afterwards so I decided to no longer share her snacks. She assumed I was on a diet or that I needed to eat more. I told her “I already ate.”

But she still would try to give me her snacks. I’ve said quite a few things to turn her down like “I don’t eat anything with trans fats” or “high fructose corn syrup” or “aspartame”. It did annoy her and she kept asking me “if I was on a diet” and I said “no, I’ve avoided all those things since I was in high school.”

But then in the end she decided to avoid trans fats, HFSC, and aspartame all-together. In fact, she became very preachy and I did find it annoying like “ooh this yogurt is good (looks at the ingredients in the back)…eww! yuck there’s aspartame! bleh, I’m gonna throw up! (No you’re not…)” If you were a real health-freak, you should have looked at the ingredients first before you buy it because I’m not buying your whole “I’m a health goddess” act. As aggravating as she came out, I didn’t ask her “why are you avoiding aspartame?” I just kept all comments to myself.

I love reading posts and articles about people’s bad fallout from dieting and weight loss because it makes me realize that I’m not alone. You’d think people would be more supportive of reaching their goals. I wouldn’t think that people would try to  sabotage people’s weight loss/healthy eating effort. 

Why am I writing about weight loss and dieting? Well it’s been 6 months since I left San Diego to Los Angeles and I have noticed a weight loss except the thing is I haven’t done anything crazy. My lifestyle is about the same:

  • I drink a protein shake when I wake up in the morning to cut my breakfast preparation. It makes a huge difference since most of my mornings I rush for the door. I use to cook oatmeal every morning but I hated waiting for the oatmeal to get ready. Plus you can’t really drink your oatmeal when you’re on the road.
  • Eat whatever I like throughout the day it could be pasta, salad, sandwiches, etc. Snack on almonds, yogurt, cottage cheese, fruit, bread, chocolate, ice cream, and cheeses. Nothing restrictive.
  • Going to YogaWorks about 3-4 times per week. Been doing Yoga and other mat exercises for the past two years. I don’t really call it “exercising”, more like a “hobby”.
  • I work out more for recreation like running with friends or going out to the pool at my apartment because its hot or kayaking at the beach. I simply like doing active things.
  • Still eat out with friends. Actually Friday we went to Lazy Dog Cafe ordered a beer sampler and an ahi tuna burger and it was yum! Plus I finished the whole plate.
  • Yes, in the end, despite me eating — I still do exercise.

I think I exercised a lot more though back in San Diego and I felt like I had to work out a lot harder to maintain my weight. My lifestyle now is still the same …or actually I exercised a little less. I don’t run 3-5 times per week (plus do youtube workout videos) anymore to burn off Saturday night’s potluck. But lately, I’ve noticed my clothes have felt more comfortable.

My boyfriend thinks the reason why I’m losing weight is because I’m less stressed. True, I’m less stressed but at the same time, I’m more busy. Busy in a good way. I’m more active in the community and pursuing more hobbies. I don’t know. Maybe I’m just less stress because I care less what people think what I’m eating. I guess that’s what a 100 mile buffer between you and San Diego does to you. I don’t have to hear “that’s it? That’s all your eating?”

Anyways the point is that summer is coming up and there are wedding parties and birthday parties to attend in SD. It’s been a while since I’ve seen people in San Diego– the same people who have guilt-ed me for eating salad and doing outdoor sports and yoga. Not sure what they would think with my unintended weight loss and what I’ve been doing lately. It’s misleading that I share pictures of Aebleskivers pancakes, scones, chocolate tarts, sushi burritos, and bratwursts. The best part of it all is that I am not judged here.

I cleared the PMI-CAPM exam!

See? Look what happens when you study really hard and use your resources — it finally paid off.

I took the test on Saturday and I felt relieved that I passed the test and my PMI membership should be coming in the mail in the next few weeks. Sunday, I felt like I got hit by a train because of all the late nights of studying and researching even though I know I have to wake up at 5:30 to start the work day. I guess you could say that I was retrograding on my sleep.

For those who want to know my strategy for passing the CAPM exam, here is what I did:
1) As soon as I finished my classes and earned my minimum 23 education hours in Project Management, I applied through the PMI website and applied to take the exam.
2) When scheduling for the exam, try to do it about a month after you take your classes so whatever you’re studying for during the month is pretty much review. I was thinking about taking the exam in December but instead I decided the sooner I take and pass my test, the better. Also, I tend to get paranoid about overstudying.
3) My study tools was Rita Mulcahy’s book and Brainbok.com. I thought the quizzes were the most help. I did buy the Brainbok study materials.
4) Everyone said to memorize the ITTOs but with Brainbok, I didn’t think I had to. I think after quizzing myself (on Brainbok), I felt that each output that becomes an input to another process made sense. Or why organizational process assets is an input to one process but not another.
5) I think you should memorize were the equations but there were surprisingly not a lot of math problems.
6) During the week, I studied about 2 hours a day and on the weekends, as much as I can.
7) I Googled “CAPM practice exams”, “free CAPM practice exams”, etc. It was a little frustrating that a lot of the practice exams varied in difficulty. I couldn’t figure out the feel if the real exam was going to be easy or very difficult. I had some results from practice exams that made me feel better and other results that got me discouraged to the point if I should really reschedule my exam. I guess practicing as many exam problems would give one more confidence on the day of the exam.
8) Don’t study AT ALL on the night before exam. I’m sure glad I did. Friday afternoon, I drove to Irvine from San Diego. The testing facility was the closest one that was open on the weekends. I was anticipating on the Friday afternoon traffic but being aware of being stuck in traffic didn’t make me feel less frazzled. Friday night, I stayed over at a friend’s place and just ate and watched “How I Met Your Mother” on Hulu instead of studying.
9) On exam day, I brought a couple granola bars, water, and juice. I had three hours to take the exam and I took 5 minute breaks every 30 minutes.
10) I smiled when I felt being under pressure. It works and relieves my test nerves.

It’s been a long time since I taken any form of test so coming up with test taking strategies were pretty hard. I went on LinkedIn, joining Project Management groups and CAPM groups reading their discussions and their advice.

See? Look what happens you use your resources. Without LinkedIn, I don’t think I would have known about Rita Mulcahy’s book and Brainbok. Reading through threads on LinkedIn, I found links to free practice exams and advice on career transitioning to Project Management with a CAPM. I may have gotten my credential, but I still feel I have to work for it to get to where I want to be.

The following day, I thought about volunteer opportunities in Project Management with non-profits and organizations. You see, I’ve been working in biotech for a long time as a Lab Associate. With the skills I learned on the way, I thought maybe moving in Project Management in the biotechnology, healthcare, or technology industry made to most sense with what I want to do next. But the problem was that most of my work was in the lab such as process development and projects and I was looking for more versatility and doing something bigger. If I want to move on to bigger things, maybe volunteering on the side as a Project Coordinator or Lead would be a good way to show that I have interacted with my team and my community on different levels. Plus earning hours towards your PMP doesn’t hurt either :-).

(Hopefully, I hear from Engineers without Borders!)

Coming soon…

By popular demand on instagram and my coworkers, people want me to make a food blog.

This is a personal blog and also you could say a big glorified oversized postcard following my life going through different “stages”. Right now, I’ve got 15 days until the CAPM exam.

Also me and my friend from college wanted to do another blog, but we shall see… Right now I got to focus on my exam!

Happy 25th Birthday to me!

I am the big 25 years old! Wrote a list of things to do before I turned 30. Not as extensive as my 101 things list though.

Anyways looking through my 25×25 list, I did ok. Wish I did keep up with the Traveling Bear Project blog but in fact, I do have lots of pictures from the past year taking Mocha to South East Asia, Anza Borrego, NYC, and more! I’m very back logged.

I wrote “Shake things up” on my list. I’m currently taking Project Management Classes hopefully it would help things out. I believe things just don’t happen, you make things happen.

I think “Shaking Things Up” is more of a daily reminder than just a thing on my checklist. I think people need to “shake things up” more in their life.

Happy birthday to me! I hope 25 is just as exciting as 24 and many years to go!

I remembered back in my senior year in college, if you were sick, people assumed you had swine flu…

At my age of 24, female, working, and living in San Diego; if you’re sick people automatically assume you’re pregnant.

To be precise, I have the common cold. This was from results of studying and going through my Project Management classes, researching my ventures, making contacts, and exercising 3 times per week and travelling between San Diego to Los Angeles this past weekend along with the suddenly cooler, greyer weather from the last two weeks have been very hot and humid. In other words, I didn’t find time to rest when needed.

Back in college, when I stayed up late studying, I took Emergen-C packet. They definitely helped a lot otherwise, I’d be be sick all the time in college. When I would travel, I would take some form of Vitamin C in tablets or in packets. During last week, I only took the Vitamin C tablets when it was too late. When the weather starting changing and my nose started to feel stuffy. I should’ve taken those Vitamin C’s when I knew I was going to have a lot on my to-do list all colliding at once. This week is has just been more studying for Project Management Class (I’m almost done — just two more classes!) and taking care of myself and once in a while, go outside from my apartment or my lab to breathe the fresh air.

Back to the first statement, I don’t understand why people assume just because a girl in her mid-twenties, she has to be pregnant. Maybe it’s because it’s San Diego — during my three years here I have met a lot of young mothers who had kids as young as the age of 19 and now they’re my age with two kids. Never had I encountered the peer pressure and the questions of me having a kid anywhere but here and I reply back “yikes! I’m only 24!” or “oh there goes my hopes and dreams…” Then I think “shoot, he’s 24 and he has a kid. Hope he wasn’t insulted.” When people make that assumption, it is very tempting to say back “has it occurred to you that I work a full time job, study, cook, clean, and pursue multiple hobbies? Well, ALL THIS is a full time job! You guys should try it.” It’s tiring but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love keeping busy especially when I have certain goals in mind. That’s why I keep going.

Well I didn’t tell them THAT part and how my busy life factored to vulnerability to getting sick. Instead, I’ll try to lose ten pounds (or more doable, five pounds!) and tell them “yes this cold definitely got to me.” Got to start running around park on days I don’t go to the Pilates studio.

Will also add learning to surf or paddle board on bucket list…

Did another thing that I did for the first time: going to the La Jolla Caves. Been to the shores many times but not to the caves.

image

On Sunday, I went kayaking with my boyfriend and friends. Just to let you know, when you rent the kayaks, you’re not allowed to go into the cave unless you are in a tour group – the tour group wears helmets for safety. When you’re kayaking in the cave and when the waves get strong you WILL crash into the rocks. The weird thing is, they allow you to park your rental kayak a few meters away from the entrance of the cave and swim or snorkel to the cave. But you need to proceed with caution. It can get dangerous. Didn’t know until I swam to caves myself.

So I swim to the caves and grabbed on to a rock and just sat and people watch from the rock. It felt awesome being able to be at the caves at last — another thing to cross off on my San Diego bucket list. Then the waves happened, though the waves looked small, they were strong enough to push me back.

I was terrified and I tried to cover my neck and my head so I wouldn’t hit anything there. Since the waves were so strong, I was in an enclosed area and it was hard to swim through and grab to another rock (warning: there are some sharp rocks in the cave).

I swim to my friends telling them what happened. Even though I wasn’t too far from my friends, they told me they saw some waves but they wouldn’t have guessed I fell over. They thought I jumped off the rock and swam away. Scary. I don’t think you can scream for “help” underwater.

Overall, the wipe-out didn’t too much damage to me. I have scratches all over my arm, stomach and legs and back. My knees are swollen so it’s kind of painful to stand up from my chair or my bed. Worst case scenario would have been drowning or getting hit in the head by the rocks and got unconscious.

Maybe I should learn how to surf or paddleboard. For some reason, I always got too scared to learn how to surf or stand up on a paddle board for the fear or falling off, but getting pushed by a wave and getting hit by rocks is probably the worst case scenario when you’re at the beach (and any body of water, I must add). Getting pushed by a wave from a surfboard probably doesn’t sound too bad because I’m not surfing in an enclosed area. I would probably just land on more waves and waters.

I have no problem with becoming a Waity-Katie

Some days, when I’m at my boyfriend’s parents’ house, his brother remind us that we were destined to be those couples who will be together for a long time and never marry and have no kids. I thought “well what’s wrong with that?” Then the world answered.

Every week I hear a girl say, “Me and So-And-So have been together for 2 years (3 years or 1 year or  8 months or something like that) and I know he’s going to pop the question. I know it because all his family members say ‘she’s so wonderful, So-And-So, she’s the one!”

Sounds like high school levels insecurities. Why does she need him to propose to make her “problems” go away? When I say “problems”, I really mean “you think that ring defines your self-worth.”

When you get engaged, problems don’t magically vanish as soon as the box opens. Planning weddings are very expensive and they sound so stressful — you have to find the vendor, find a good date when all your guests can show up, fight with another bride tugging the coveted dream dress or asking for a raise at work because you need more money to pay for a wedding.

The day of the wedding is pretty stressful too. I know because my friend is a wedding planner and she gets a lot of brides hiring her at the very last minute and she has to make sure the brides keep their cool and everything is going according to plan.

Then after the wedding, the problems don’t go away either. You still have to face financial problems, quality time you don’t spend your spouse problems, and quality time for yourself problems. I always hear “the house is always a mess” and “I go into the store intending to buy 50 dollars worth of groceries and I come back 150 dollars worth of groceries.” Once in a while, I hear stories about how some girl or boy cheating on their spouse and I hear their more regressive state that them cheating on their spouse isn’t wrong.

This little magical box apparently vanishes all insecurities and doubts.

I have the urge to write this because I do have everything one wants in their twenties. I am a college grad who has a job, has their own place, traveled, and still aspire and works hard for bigger things. I didn’t work and study so hard to let my whole life defined in a little box.

I remembered one week I told a girlfriend “hey did you know that Couple A have been together for 6 years (total 8 years) before they got married?” She goes “really? That’s interesting…” She made it sound so condescending that Couple A were together for 6 years before getting married and she got married after 1.5 years. Not sure what she meant by “interesting.” But if I didn’t know any better, Couple A, sure do sound like they’re newly wed couples. Would have never guessed they were together for 8 years.

To me, it was refreshing that Couple A were together for a while before getting married because being with my boyfriend for almost 2 years. I felt the pressure of having chidren and getting married off and the biological clock off my shoulders. Every day I always tell myself to put your best self forward or at least MAKE YOURSELF to be the best self. Focus on that. Don’t focus on being amazing for someone. Focus on BEING amazing.

How would I describe my blog?

I’m not a fan of labels. I’m really not.

I guess I can’t quite put my blog in a label. My blog actually started as a list — a list of 101 things to do 1001 days after my last day of college. I accomplished some on my list and some I didn’t, but that’s fine. Two years after graduation, I’m not doing too shabby but it could be better and it has nothing to do with crossing off more things on the 101 thing list.

When I turned 24, I decided to write a list of things to do before I turned 25. I’ve only looked at the list during the month of September (my birthday month) and forgot about it in October and beyond. Next month I turn 25. I forgot what I wrote on my 25 things before I turned 25 but that’s all right too, I think I had a great 24th year.

I guess to me, my blog is just a self-realization, a self-improvement blog and just a focus on putting my best self forward. I write these  goals to give myself a little bit of direction but it’s not necessarily a destination. The other day, I was reading an article on the NY Times on letting go of the outcomes and expectations of your goals and focus on the process on getting there and also don’t turn your goals into expectations — it’s a sad and defeating cycle.

My blog is a one-woman show. I cook, I do Pilates, I do yoga, I run, I write, I work a full-time job, I catch up with my friends, I travel, I take photos, I study, I do my homework, I clean the dishes, and do the laundry and I wouldn’t have that any other way. You really can’t put a label on my blog. I love write my rants, share things that inspire me, share my photos of places I’ve been and writing about my frustrations, what I can do better, and of course my accomplishments — recording how far I’ve come.

Question for you: How would you describe your blog?

When was the last time you did something for the first time?

Thursday morning, I felt inspired and awesome because I saw this on my Facebook newsfeed from the Art of Non-Conformity Page:

(source: Daily Positive Quotes)

It made me realize actually the past Saturday in Sequoia, I slid down a whole mountain of rocks. It was either take the trail to get to the abandon house or slide down a pile of rocks as a shortcut. My boyfriend decided to slide down a pile of rocks while everyone else took the trail. I was standing next to the pile of rocks and still deciding whether to catch up with everyone else or slide. I thought “wow, these pile of rocks look painful though.” And then the spur of the moment, I decided to slide down.

Sliding down didn’t require any thinking other than me just coming back saying I slide down a mountain.

When I saw that picture from the AONC Facebook page I decided to share it and told what was MY last thing I did for the first time and I asked people to think the same. I wasn’t sure if my answer sounded haughty but I think maybe, maybe it pushed someone to do something for the first time.

I guess deep down, to me, I feel like everyday is something I do for the first time. Today when I shared and posted away on Facebook bragging about my sliding down the mountain story — I generally don’t brag but that moment I thought, what’s wrong with putting my most awesome self forward? I usually don’t share my moments on Facebook and a lot of people don’t think I have a lot of athletic ability. I complain all the time how there are some people to tell they’re hot stuff and they’re awesome because they act so sassy when I think, I feel I’ve heard better than those braggarts. So I thought today is the day it was my turn to post how I slid down the mountain and not care what anybody thought.

Other days, well… maybe lately since I’ve been studying for the CAPM, it would be each chapter I’m reading during my course and how I’m trying to memorize another ITTO (Input, Tools & Techniques, Output) in my memory bank.

When was the last time you did something for the first time?