Blocked and Loaded

On the cusp of... texting
On the cusp of… texting

So I haven’t been writing because I… just don’t feel like it.

I am / my phone is full of pictures, stories, reviews and more and I… just want to not deal with ANY of it.

I think, my friends, this is what you call a rut. I’m in a creative rut and rather than work it out by myself I have decided to air out my not-so-dirty laundry here.

1. I’m in a rut because after a truly exciting and fun birthday (I dragged out celebrations for about one week because #imworthit) a return to normalcy feels a little too normal. Where is my 10th birthday cake? Why aren’t people randomly hugging me anymore? Does this mean I get no more free wine?

2. I’m a rut because a close friend moved away for her PhD – and I miss her. I used to be able to completely deal with saying goodbye to a friend, especially having moved so much as a kid, but the older I get the more I realize I am not the Tin Man. Which is super annoying.

3. I’m in a rut because I have SO many projects to start on – that I don’t know where to start. Do I re-start my failed scrap booking project? Do I start reading about and implementing the terrifying KonMarie method? Do I finally keep the promise I made to myself and readers to amp up the blog with better photography – using the gazillion props my friends have gifted me over my past two brithdays (IGETTHEHINT).

I feel like I am on the cusp of doing some great stuff and yet something, specifically my mind, is holding me back.

Still I know the only solution to this rut, and to most other problems – imaginary or real – that I might have, is to get my head out of my ass and get on with it.

Actually after writing this, I’m already feeling a little less blocked. Excuse the imagery.

Weighed, measured, and found AWESOME

From Style Me Pretty
This post is the first time I have gotten a request to write about something specific.

In this case a friend asked me “So when’s your next blog post?”

“I dunno – tomorrow?” (This was yesterday)


“What do you want it to be about?”

“Overcoming crippling feelings of inadequacy?”

As I mulled that over I was all – shit how am I going to write about that? I don’t feel inadequate – like EVER. Remember, I’ve said before that I suffer from hubris?

But then I started thinking – maybe it’s not that I don’t feel inadequate. Maybe it’s that I just don’t think about it enough and I don’t let whatever feelings I have, prevent me from doing anything.

This resilience comes from a having a relatively rough childhood – when you combine doting parents, gullibility and pudginess – you get a combo that bullies cannot resist. For most of my pre-pubescent life I was ridiculed for my weight, was no where close to the cool kids’ table and was generally a try-hard. But in school I did really well. My grades were high, I kissed-ass like no other and the feedback from teachers was nothing short of glowing. I continued in this vein till now, sometimes succeeding in school, sometimes succeeding socially and now I’ve kind of got a place at work and with friends that I really like.

Still sometimes, when I’m faced with a peer who makes more than me or friends in long-standing, stable relationships – I begin to wonder, what’s wrong with me?

I think it might be that very question, that holds me back. If I’m wondering about what’s wrong with me, or as the Internet defines inadequacy – what’s lacking in quality about me or insufficient or wanting, how can I perform or be present and do whatever it is I need to do? If I constantly think I’m not up to the task or not worthy of something – how will I ever achieve it? That’s self-fulfilling prophecies for you – the eternal annoying as hell chicken and egg situation.

So there isn’t any real solution to overcoming feelings of inadequacy. BUT I think it’s important not to let feelings or perceptions of inadequacy cripple you, especially when you need to perform. I have three suggestions for overcoming this:

1. Be confident in yourself and your abilities by doing the work that is needed to be confident. Basically over prepare. This isn’t my advice, this is from Mindy Kaling.

2. I’m not going to go on this you’re totally adequate and you can do anything rant, because if you were able to convince yourself of that you wouldn’t need this. Instead it’s always helpful to me to imagine that most people are like me and also go through bouts of feeling inadequate and are still generally able to make it in their career, love and life. So you don’t have to beat anyone. You just have to join them.

3. Just do whatever it is that you need to do because what’s the worst thing that could happen? If you’re suffering from nerves before a first day or work or need to make a presentation or need courage to text someone, but think you’re not qualified or a shitty public speaker or not hot enough (OH THE STRUGGLE!), let me just ask, “What’s the worse thing that could happen?” In all these scenarios, you could stumble and mess up and be embarrassed as HELL and it really won’t matter – in the grand scheme of things. So get over yourself and get on with it.

29 and counting

Five years old and surrounded by Barbie Dolls #blessed
Five years old and surrounded by Barbie Dolls #blessed

I am turning 29 pretty soon (TOMORROW!).

29 feels older, not old, but definitely older.

I don’t know what it is but I don’t feel as frenetic as before. I know I would like to change certain things about my behavior/personality but I know that it will take time. I know I’ve got to work on my career but again, time, luck and a little/a lot of hard work, should get me there. I know I want to continue to cultivate the relationships I have with friends and family but I also know that time will change the nature of these relationships and that’s okay too.

So this year, I have a few birthday resolutions but it’s with an in-breath and an out-breath that I genuinely know that these are aspirations for the next year and yeah I’ll probably do them all. But I should be kind to myself in the process. Can you tell I’ve been doing yoga?

So let’s look at last year’s birthday resolutions and I’ve gotta say I did it all except the volunteering bit. Which is pretty shit. But you know at least I can sleep now and I’m quite bendy – which takes me into my resolutions for this year.

1. Build on my YOGA practice

One of my resolutions last year was to start doing yoga regularly and I cannot tell you how CRAZY different my body and mind are before and after I started. It’s not like I’ve suddenly turned into a crazy hot yogi (not that I would mind looking like her) but I’m much stronger physically, sitting-at-the-computer-related pain is a thing of the past and I’m much more positive about my body image. I haven’t achieved a state of zen either but I am able to sleep better and I can let stuff go. If you know me – you know that’s crazy. So, maybe yoga didn’t take away my anxiety but it helps me channel it or deal with it better. Whatever it is, yoga has changed my life and I want to keep building on my practice and making it a daily part of my life.

2. Curb excessive-ness

I wrote a post last week about how I wanted to let go of excessive shopping this coming year and I realized it’s more than that. I want to let go of excessive-ness and it’s not that I want to go minimalist either – coz that sure as hell didn’t work for me. Instead, this next year I want to work on a) curbing the amount of superfluous shopping I do b) curbing the amount of excessive eating I do and c) curbing the amount of over-exercising that I do. Superfluous shopping is hard on my wallet, my sanity and the planet. Excessive eating, especially when it’s fried or unhealthy food is just well, unnecessary. And over-exercising has led me to feel terrible and also look terrible from exhaustion. It’s time I took a breath and was more mindful about what I buy, eat and do.

3. Focus more time AND energy on the blog

I love this blog. I haven’t made money from it but it has enriched my soul and it has been an outlet when I desperately needed one. I love how it has changed the way I view food. I love that it’s brought me closer to people both through the Cooking with column and also just through readership feedback. And I love that it helps me clear my mind. I think it’s time that I devote a little bit more time to the content, look and feel and more than anything else, the pictures that I curate for this blog. Photography isn’t something I’m particularly good at but I know that if I get a decent camera and work on it I can do better. And in this visual day and age, that’s going to count for a lot.

So there you have it – three resolutions for my last year as a twenty-something year old. Wish me luck!

Moments of Absolute Clarity

Like a beam from the sky!
Like a beam from the sky!
80% of the time I walk around with about a billion things on my mind.

It’s either work or friends or that next thing I have to do or, or, or…

So when something is really bothering me, I try to find a billion solutions.

I talk to my friends about it.
I talk to myself about it.
I blog about it.
I go see a counselor about it.
I Google my Astrology sign.
I Google somemore.

In the middle of me trying to solve, or resolve, whatever is bothering me, I sometimes fill my head up with so much noise that I don’t ever really find the answer or the peace I am seeking.

And then if I ever find myself about to walk somewhere, a perfect time for reflection, I choose to plug in my earphones and listen to whatever playlist is striking my fancy (right now it’s Latin Dance – yeah you know it’s good) and dance myself to my next destination.

There is little time for me to really just think about observe a situation and come up with any sort of realization. And when trying to address something, I analyze all reason out of it.

But luckily it seems like my mind has figured out a way to help me out.

When I’m half-awake at night stumbling to the bathroom for a middle of the night pee (All you small-bladdered people do this – don’t lie), sometimes I find I am struck by these BLINDING epiphanies about whatever is bothering me.

I kid you not, halfway from my room to the john the voice in my head will go from “Oh, why is there SO much light” to suddenly “How could you have worried about that inane thing, when in reality you’re being ridiculous and need to just take it easy.”

Funnily enough most of my midnight conversations to myself involve telling myself to chill out. And then my other self tells my clarity self, “Yes, yes I know, now let me pee and sleep, I’m very tired.”

In the morning I’m usually struck by this feeling like I’ve spoken to a fairy godmother or something and that they’ve told me something really important.

I guess I’m lucky – to have a fairy godmother AKA myself – who’s got my back. Maybe I just need to trust myself, a little bit more and Google, a little bit less.

It’s like I visited Mongolia or something…

A wider shot than the original - so you can see the BIG BLUE SKY
A wider shot than the original – so you can see the BIG BLUE SKY

As you all know – I went to Mongolia for a vacation, recently, and I took a lot of pretty pictures.

But the thing is I actually took even more than the ones you’ve seen. So voila! Ils sont ici!

This is a photo story combined with random things I think you should know about Mongolia.

Rocks and sky. There's a story behind this rock. Ask me in person. Used a VSCO filter
Rocks and sky. There’s a story behind this rock. Ask me in person. Used a VSCO filter
Lightly edited shot in the countryside
Lightly edited shot in the countryside
Wide shot of the gyrs we stayed in
Wide shot of the gyrs we stayed in
Shot of the gyr! And my Dad looking badass. Used a VSCO filter
Shot of the gyr! And my Dad looking badass. Used a VSCO filter
That sky!
That sky!
Sky, sky, sky!
Sky, sky, sky!
Me and my father-in-law? I don't know what I'm supposed to call him, but father in Mongolian is "Ow" as in ow!
Me and my father-in-law? I don’t know what I’m supposed to call him, but father in Mongolian is “Ow” as in ow!
I took this shot after a 30 minute solitary hike/walk up a hill in the countryside while listening to 90s tunes. I needed to get away and I got great pictures!
I took this shot after a 30 minute solitary hike/walk up a hill in the countryside while listening to 90s tunes. I needed to get away and I got great pictures!

They are famous for their meat and their dairy. I don’t drink milk, but I did eat a lot of sheep, beef and more sheep. It was delicious. Top three things to eat in Mongolia, horshoo (deep fried meat dumpling), horhog (meat and vegetables cooked in a pressure cooker with the heat from freakishly hot pebbles) and barbecue (you know this). Try and get home-cooked versions of this. Like by making friends with locals.

Mongolian currency is Tugguruk – and it’s about USD1 to MGT1,900. Think about it like Korean won (if you’re familiar) and it’s close. Things in Mongolia aren’t that cheap – you’re looking at pricing similar to Singapore for food and clothing.

Parking lot at the Genghis Khan memorial
Parking lot at the Genghis Khan memorial
Genghis Khan - shot from below
Genghis Khan – shot from below
I don't know what I was trying to show. Maybe that the statue is really big?
I don’t know what I was trying to show. Maybe that the statue is really big?

People are really into Adidas. Like REALLY.

Mongolian sounds like a cross between Korean and Russian. It sounds especially Korean to me because of that one time, I lived in Korea…

The city was modeled after Soviet cities. Whatever that means.

View from the apartment in Ulaanbaatar
View from the apartment in Ulaanbaatar
Streets near the apartment in Ulaanbaatar
Streets near the apartment in Ulaanbaatar
Downtown Ulanbaatar
Downtown Ulanbaatar
Downtown Ulanbaatar
Downtown Ulanbaatar
Sukhbaatar Square in Ulaanbaatar
Sukhbaatar Square in Ulaanbaatar
Sukhbaatar Square - lightly edited
Sukhbaatar Square – lightly edited
Genghis Khan (of course) - processed with a VSCO filter
Genghis Khan (of course) in Sukhbaatar Square – processed with a VSCO filter
Genghis' bodyguards. I used a VSCO filter
Genghis’ bodyguards. I used a VSCO filter
Lightly edited shot from the Sukhbaatar Square. Lot of construction going on in Mongolia
Lightly edited shot from the Sukhbaatar Square. Lot of construction going on in Mongolia

Alcoholism is a problem.

Pick-pockets are everywhere. Keep you money stashed safely on your person and don’t flash your fancy shit around.

Summer doesn’t start till July/August.

Buddha statue and me! I used a VSCO filter
Buddha statue and me! I used a VSCO filter
Soviet WWII War Memorial on what used to be the highest hill in Mongolia. Processed with a VSCO filter
Soviet WWII War Memorial on what used to be the highest hill in Mongolia. Processed with a VSCO filter

The Mongolian alphabet is the Cyrillic alphabet – aka the Russian alphabet.

Good places to eat while in Ulaanbaatar:
Broadway – serves great Western and other food.
Jur Ur – the best chocolate tart I’ve eaten in my life came from this place. There’s either coconut or bits of heaven in the crust.
Korean food is generally great – so you can probably eat that anywhere.

The two best things in Mongolia are it’s BIG BLUE SKY and it’s people. They are straightforward, warm and hospitable.

As we sped to the airport my brother yelled, "Take a picture - that's UB!" This is that picture.
As we sped to the airport my brother yelled, “Take a picture – that’s UB!” This is that picture.

Got my mind on my mind

2015-04-26 19.01.16

“We are all, as Byron put it, differently organized. We each move within the restraints of our temperament and live up only partially to its possibilities.” – Kay Redfield Jamison

I suffer from what I like to call an unquiet mind. Which is also, coincidentally, the title of the book from which the quote above is taken.

It is an affliction that renders me unable to:

  • interact with people without assessing their (and my) ulterior motives
  • make a decision without obsessing about the effect about my future (this includes whether or not I eat a chocolate-almond croissant for breakfast)
  • watch any movie without analyzing why and who it was made for (as as result I can never actually tell you if a movie was “good or not” because IT’S ALL RELATIVE)
  • exist in this moment – here and now

So everyday, I go round and round and round. Interaction after interaction, moment after moment, is felt, processed, and imprinted.

There are times when this feeling of living inside my head is all-consuming and there are times when it’s closer to the surface, manageable, even.

This past month I spent a lot of time living in my head. My loved ones, tolerated this, because see: Love.

When I surfaced from this period of self-absorption and indulgence and sent the, “I’ve sorry I’ve been a douchebag,” message to my closest friends, I realized that everyone around me was also dealing with their own restlessness and disquiet. Their own demons.

And it hit me that sometimes the key to finding peace might not come from within. I think it might lie in realizing that you are not alone and also that someone else might need you.

That simple act of empathy and then if you can find it within yourself, grace and kindness, might free you.

And if that doesn’t work there’s always chocolate.

Weekend Meal Prep YOUCANDO

Prepping for prep
Prepping for prep

Every weekend I set aside about two to three hours, to plan how I’m going to take over the world.

No seriously, because the only way that I can take over the world is if I eat well-balanced, nutritious food that will then give me enough energy to take over the world. Right?

But more seriously this is my post about meal prepping on weekends. I got into meal prepping for two simple reasons 1) Shutterbean and 2) IHAVENOTIME.

Let me explain.

1) Shutterbean is this fantastic blog written by Tracy who cooks these wonderfully healthy and varied meals not just for her blog, but also for her family (her husband and son). And she achieves this by being organized and prepping the ingredients and pre-cooking certain items on the weekend. Check out her awe/jealousy-inspiring meal prep grams here, here and here.

2) IHAVENOTIME. I know, I have a choice in life, I can stop saying I’m so busy and sit down and smell the roses… but guess what? I don’t want to do that. I want to run and go to yoga and hang out with my friends and go to work and read and do my laundry and read a book and get 8 hours of sleep AND eat somewhat healthily. SO. That means being a little organized and getting some stuff prepped over the weekend.

I don’t prep like Tracy, since I don’t have a family, but what I do is that I have a simple rule. I try not to eat more than one meal out a day, so if I’m eating dinner out I’ll pack a lunch for work, if not I’ll eat the dinner for the week.

I hard-boil 5 eggs for breakfast and make either a muesli or granola every two weeks which I enjoy with greek yogurt. That is my breakfast all week – minus the one day I get my chocolate almond croissant from Tiong Bahru Bakery.

I prep a salad for the week by buying spinach leaves or romaine (they keep fresh for about three days), grill vegetables (usually a combo of carrots, beets, peppers, etc), grill chicken, make a salad dressing (loving this one right now) and cook 1/2 cup of dried quinoa (about 5 meals worth for me). That lasts me for about five meals and mid-week I usually re-do the whole process.

This takes me about 2 to 3 hours, with plenty of time in between to dance around my apartment or do more laundry.

Totally doable right? And I’m not advocating an oat and salad filled existence.

Make whatever the hell you want.

Mel, my apartment mate, preps awesome tofu-veggie pasta salads every weekend.

Another good friend puts together protein and fish and fruit every night for her BYOL.

Just think about eating and living intentionally. Because – it’s kind of awesome.