Things to do before you get engaged…

I don’t know why people are upset about this young traveler’s post. It’s getting pretty viral or maybe viral among the 20-something engaged and 20-something wives.

She just sounds like a typical 20-something with a bucket list and giving some suggestions to the table because I know when school is over — whether you just want to end in high school or you Ph.D. and you don’t have anything lined up  afterwards then life is pretty directionless.

Her list is a little superficial but I think people are looking into too much and too literal. But maybe deep down you do need a new haircut or learn how to bake and start by I don’t know…maybe BAKING A CAKE! Or is it learning how to get baked?

I did have an ambitious list which I didn’t complete all since they were 101 things to do in 2.5 years after graduation. But at the time, I just was listing whatever needed to be listed because I was a UCLA graduate with a degree in Neuroscience with no intention to go to med school or pharmacy school — no direction.

When I was working San Diego and being around my fiance’s circle of friends and family and extended family, a lot of them did not pursue higher education after high school. None of them pursued a trade skill with a certification. A handful of them did join the armed services but only to return that even though they have the skills an employer is looking for, there is no piece of paper indicating where they went to school. It’s an invisible certificate that no one sees but themselves. A lot of them did get married after college and had kids. People who didn’t have kids and/or get married well…not sure what’s going on. I knew a girl who dropped out after a semester in community college because she wanted to work full time. A year later, she wants a job where she can move up in the world. She didn’t think about going back to school or pick up a new skill.

When I was living in SD, I did wonder how things would go with me if I were not pursue higher education after high school. But then…I just couldn’t see it. Clearly nothing was lined up for me if I decided not go to college.

So here is my list of things to do before you get engaged for any age (since I am 26 and engaged)

  1. Go to school whether it would be a bachelor’s or for trade. It gives you an opportunity to meet a lot of people (if you allow yourself to)
  2. Find yourself in a job you love – ok maybe people might say I’m delusional because the economy is so bad. But the way I see it, think of this bad economy as the new normal unless we place an embargo on all merchandise from China. But in the meantime try to make some (a lot of) effort to be more competitive.
  3. Travel somewhere, anywhere. Doesn’t have to a round-the-world trip, doesn’t have to be extended.
  4. Get on your own (without a boyfriend to supplement you) - I’m not saying you need to buy your own one bedroom apartment. At least be able to afford a room in an apartment without the help of a boyfriend. It’ll make you less needy.
  5. Make big purchases — Other than paying off those student loans, I would say my biggest purchase was buying my good old used car. When I moved to San Diego, I NEEDED a car. When I first bought it, I already knew that I needed to avoid eating for a while which leads me to…
  6. Getting in shape and exercise, eat healthier – Other than slimming down and getting in shape, you’ll be doing yourself a lot of favors. Besides if you’re engaged, you don’t want to work out too insanely hard during your engagement period. Enjoy engagement.
  7. Learning how to save (or is it learning how to be frugal?). For me, being frugal is easy but the saving part is hard for me. I feel I save and conveniently some disaster happens and I have pull out my savings. Yes I am happy that I have an emergency to pay off those disasters quickly like when my PayPal got hacked, I still needed funds because it was going to be a while until I got my funds restored. But anyways I wish had probably multiple savings accounts other than my emergency fund–I would hate to pull it out for wedding related things. I had a travel fund but I already knew I was traveling and I had to save up for that. But anywho…I know a lot of engaged girls who don’t even have an emergency fund. When they get engaged it was pulling out whole paychecks week after week. Ouch.

See? A small list of things to do before you’re engaged and I wouldn’t have it any other way :-).

Your days are numbered San Diego!

Three years of living in San Diego, I decided to move back to Los Angeles. I got a better job with better pay and a better (stable) company. The truth was all year I was looking for a job outside of San Diego. After three years of living in San Diego, I was still in the same job title doing the same work and I felt like I was not growing here. Sure I got scouted by a few companies in San Diego but they were not offering better work or better pay. The work was either the same work I was doing or maybe less challenging work and I felt the people who were scouting me were treating me more like merchandise rather than someone who wants to grow and add more caps to their feathers.

My group leader who I’ve been working with for the past (almost) 2 years told me how surreal that I’m leaving because I do a lot of the work and I’ve always stayed on top of my work. My group leader was telling me how she was happy I was moving on. She’s not upset that I’m moving on to a different part of the industry but she sees where I’m coming from. She saw my salary and what I made for the past three years and she told me for the work I did, I should’ve gotten a much higher raise. Unfortunately, she does not have control of my raise.

I went off tangent about the salary but there’s just so much I want to write to you, San Diego. How you’re so expensive, but yet the employers collectively don’t pay very marketable wages to live here. Is it the sunshine discount you love to hand around so much? Last year, my boyfriend and his sister were considering buying a house in San Diego but it seemed like with the salaries they were making, they could never buy a house that met their expectations and constantly kept compromising but still expensive. I thought, “wow, if I move in I might be stuck here and struggle to pay the bills for the rest of my life if I don’t find better work.” So that was when I expanded my horizons and told my boyfriend to do the same.

Big mistake was when earlier this year, me and Mr. Fish announced that we were thinking of moving out of SD to our friends. The feelings were 50/50. People fully supported us and other people thought we were crazy. The people who thought we were crazy thought we were ready to leave at any minute. At the time, to me I thought the announcement meant “we were thinking about” or that “we were open to the idea of looking elsewhere.” I would have never thought of making a big deal.

About every week I got the question “are you guys still thinking about moving?” I usually answer, “actually I don’t know” or say things like “I’ve been so busy with school” or “I haven’t found anything better.” I tried side-stepping my answers because I was busy with school and getting asked by the same people week after week about our thoughts on finding opportunities elsewhere made me think people were starting to take us less seriously.

Well now it’s happened. The official news have been announced and the people who have constantly asked us week after week about us moving have sadly stopped talking to us. They haven’t congratulated us or wished us luck on our move. That’s another rant, I’ll mention in another post. It is sad but it’s their problem and I guess they were not truly friends to begin with.

Stay tune for my blog posts and my moving adventures this week. I’ll also talk about how to get through your last two weeks of an old job, not burning bridges, my attempts of moving up, and other fun stuff!

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 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!)

For the next four weeks

A month from today is my CAPM exam. Last week I finished my classes and earned my PDUs to apply to take the exam. When my application was accepted from the PMI, I had a year from my acceptance to take the exam. Instead of waiting another 12 months, 6 months, or even 3 months…I decided to take the test next month. I just finished classes and I took quizzes and exams, I might as well take it sooner :-).

So wish me luck folks!

Rest in Peace Janet Liang

This morning I heard the news about fellow UCLA alumna, Janet Liang from her Facebook page:


To all of Janet’s loving supporters, It is with a sad and heavy heart that we announce the passing of Janet Liang. Janet has served as an inspiration to all those who knew her. Her big heart and big smile was something that we all cherished. And although she never fulfilled her dream of being a teacher, she has taught us all one very important lesson: love. Despite battling leukemia for 3 years, she has always found it within her to make her situation more than about herself. Her campaign to raise awareness and advocate for bone marrow donors was for the love of her fellow human. She has certainly taught all of us to love one another, and live each day as if it were our last. After bravely fighting cancer for three years, she has finally found her peace. We ask that you provide her family with privacy and respect during this difficult time. Thank you to all of Janet’s supporters. Your outpouring of love and support has always been a constant source of strength for her. Please help to honor her legacy by continuing the fight for leukemia awareness in her memory. Last week she was suppose to get her bone marrow transplant after 2 years of finding a match — it was called the “Second Birthday.” I’m proud to call myself a bone marrow donor — been one since college. Her life will bring more awareness about being a bone marrow donor and how awesome it is to give the gift of life. Rest in peace Janet.

25 years: Day One

Here’s my list of things to do before I’m 30. Not as a long as my 101 things list but I think it’s still good for me :-). Lots of travels on my list (but really, my wanderlust can’t fit this whole page so I wrote something rather broad). I know as these years pass by, I’d be adding more things on my list (mentally). Anyways here’s my List of the Things to do before I’m 30:

1. Finish my students loans
2. Revisit France and cross the English Channel
3. Go to the Himalayas
4. Revisit to the Philippines
5. Go somewhere South of the Equator
6. Get my pictures professionally done
7. Start up my own fair trade company
8. Finish a marathon or maybe half marathons
9. Go to Italy
10. Go to a country in Africa
11. participate as an audience in a television show
12. Plant a tree
13. Go to the Eastern side of Canada
14. Go to New Orleans
15. Practice more yoga — being able to do crane poses and other crazy inversions
16. Join the Project Management Institute Pass my CAPM (eventually earn my PMP) 17. Spend a whole year doing 30 day stunts (see Matt Cutt 30 day challenges)
18. Learn to Paddleboard (bonus for doing yoga poses)
19. Public speak in large crowd
20. Go on a hot air balloon ride
21. Buy domain space
22. Buy a hybrid car
23. Go to the Antarctic Circle (At 16, I’ve already been to the Arctic Circle)

General and Continuous yet a great reminder:
24. Volunteer
25. Build and keep networking
26. Keep up this blog
27. Find my world inspiring
28. Do more acts of kindness
29. Save more money
30. Shake things up

Real Simple List overview

Last week I posted the “Real Simple Checklist for June 2012. Let’s see how far I’ve accomplished:

1. Start pinning – I do have a Pinterest account but I’ve been neglecting it lately :-/. Wish Pinterest made a Droid friendly app for Pinterest because I find the mobile website to be pretty cumbersome to use on my Asus Transformer. Since it’s summer, I need some summer recipe ideas!

2. Plan an affordable vacation – Check! Can’t call this “affordable ” — next month I’m going to New York City and I’ve never been.

Oh yeah, I’m still in the process of posting pictures of the rest of my South East Asia trip. Last weekend, my boyfriend and I went to LA which was nice because it was the first time in 6 months! I’m still thinking of more mini-vacations (weekends) to spend with my boyfriend. Might be tricky since he’s taking a SATURDAY MORNING CLASS starting in two weeks.

3. Try a new workout routine – I’ve been getting into yoga lately. I’m currently doing the 21-day challenge (intermediate level) and it’s definitely taking my in-home practice to a new level. I still go to the studio once in a while for inspiration but doing yoga at home is more convenient especially if you can find a goo practice whether it’d be youtube, Yoga Journal, your smart phone apps, etc.

At work I’ve been talking into my coworkers to try the 21-day challenge — they also have a beginner’s level.  The thing is with yoga, I can’t say you can lose weight with JUST yoga. Move a little more and eat healthier. I also do a little bit of running and I have to say, yoga has helped me with me running better as far as posture and form is concern. Also it has prevented me from serious injuries.

4. Power up on protein — well maybe I’m trying to cut down the carbs. White rice is a staple to my boyfriend an my roommates.

5. Make everyday tasks easier – I thought it was a nice reminder. I need to tell myself that everyday. What are your daily shortcuts? Mine’s is taking 20 minutes of my day cleaning up the apartment. You’ll be surprised in how much time you’ll get done when you get into the habit doing only 20 minutes everyday.

6. Tame your tresses – I don’t have any crazy hair problems actually.

7. Upgrade your dishware – I need to do this. I don’t have a lot of mugs. I’m thinking of stopping by Marshall’s to get some new dishware. I had 4 plates and 2 broke. I had 4 bowls and I suddenly have 3. I have 3 mugs and one chipped and the second one — I broke the handle. Had the same dishware set for 2.5  years (pretty much when I moved to San Diego.

I’m thinking about just bringing a couple bowls to work so I can just reuse them so I don’t have to eat cereal from a sytrofoam cup :-P.

8. Lighten your load – CHECK!

Today is that day!!

My 101 things in 1001 days is all over. 

I made this list a week before I completed my college classes because I had no idea what was going to happen after when I was going to finish college. I had this on my mind in June after the graduation ceremony, my friend who was going to take another year in college tells me “since you graduated, you can pretty much do whatever you want!”

It’s a really nice idea but I didn’t know where I was going or where I’d up the year after graduation. Kept putting it off until the end of August — the week before I completed all my classes and OFFICIALLY graduated from college.

I wrote the list and basically wrote whatever that popped out of my head and money was no object. At the time, I just wanted the list to be a source of inspiration — a catalyst to my life after college. In college, I was working on campus and as soon as I was going to finish my classes I would become unemployed and now what?

I think uncertainty was my drive behind the list. I knew realistically, I needed a whole lot of money to accomplish everything on the list and a lot of time.  But looking through, I don’t think I was too shabby accomplishing whatever I wanted to do.

I did get a full-time job after graduation, I did pay off my credit cards, I was able to travel, and move out of my relative’s place which i thought were my biggest accomplishments. Definitely a big mark in independence. I’m very happy that I’m credit card debt free too — it’s made saving money a whole lot easier.

There were some things I wrote about such as building my network and learn 20 cooking recipes but I realized how hard it was to keep track. Also I don’t want to stop networking and stop cooking and stop blogging after my 1001 days. By the way, I’m still back logged in some dishes I made a while back, they’re still in my SD card.

Looking through my list from 2009–a lot of things do change in 1001 days. I remembered I listed “consider grad school.” I really thought I would go back to school by now or maybe a year before but now I’m perfectly satisfied putting it aside. I’ll just keep networking and making connections in the real world. I’ll admit, it’s not easy to meet people but I think it’s the way to go to be successful and live a satisfying life.

Speaking of more change, who knew that I’d end up moving to another city after graduation? Didn’t put that in my list but I let it happen anyways.

Even though I didn’t accomplish EVERYTHING of the list, to me all that mattered was that I lived a good life after college and not fall into a rut. I really do think there is more to life than just getting married and having children (or accidentally having children). I thought having the list at first was far-fetched or well…cheesy but after being around many people having children and getting married young, I always have my list to look back to. It’s like a super-long post-it reminder that I’ve got a lot more of life to go.

I’m going to look at my 101 things list and maybe I’ll put the things I didn’t accomplish this time to a list of things to do before I’m 30. No set number like 30 things before 30. Just any number…

Writing a novel in 30 days

So in about 48 hours, I am partaking a pretty ambitious project called NaNoWriM0 – National Novel Writing Month.

50,000 words in 30 days. I think I can do it…I think..

I see writing as to practicing violin or piano and I let my fingers do the flying and that’s after years of practice. To practice writing, I write on whatever possible thing to write on whether it be on my blogs, on notebooks, post-its, sketch pads, etc. I think I can do this.

It’s on my list of 25 things to do before I”m 25 and I get bragging rights that I wrote a novel before I turned 25.

Actually nah…won’t brag because I don’t like braggers. Not at all.