Tag: lifestyle blogger

The Best Way to Spread Christmas Cheer

It’s officially December, guys!!! Time to spread some Christmas cheer for all to hear [or see in this case]!  My favorite time of the year is here, and despite what an intense and emotionally draining year it has been, I am beyond words for how thankful and blessed I am feeling.  With all the sad stories of people leaving this world too soon and the passing of my grandmother, I am so so so thankful for another year with my family and friends and all the support I undeservingly receive.  This year is coming full circle with Christmas around the corner.


Photo credit: Lindsey O’Nele

Christmas is just the best, and I sing out loud and proud.  One of my favorite traditions in the recent years has been taking photos for Christmas cards.  Each year, they evolve.  Our first one was a selfie taken off of Ryan’s dingy old iPhone back in 2013 and printed off a cheap mini HP printer, and this year’s was shot by a lovely lady, Lindsey, I’m especially glad to have gotten to know better this past year.  I think for us, our Christmas photos are even more special just because she took the time to really try and capture what we wanted for several hours at different locations.  Not only that, I’ve been trying to learn the ropes of photo editing with her (even though she is so far ahead of me and so inspirational.)  So the patience and creativity behind our day meant a lot more to both me and Ryan.  (Thanks, Lindsey!!! We are beyond grateful for your talented eye and the time you gave to us amidst a crazy week ahead of you!) She did such an amazing job that it was so hard to choose which ones to post for y’all.

Photo credit: Lindsey O’Nele
Outfit details: Top (it’s actually a dress): Missguided;
Skirt: Morning Lavender;
Shoes: Lulus (also can be found on Vici Dolls)
\\click on the links to go directly to the product. For the original Missguided dress, it was sold out, but I found a very similar dress– also from Missguided.\\

For our first location, we decided to go to the Family Christmas Tree Farm in Santee.  The backstory is that we recently bought our first real Christmas tree there a couple weeks ago, and it was so magical for me.  I’d never gone to a Christmas tree farm before because my dad and brother always went to pick them out, and they were usually in those small lots you see on the side of the road – not that it makes the tree any less magical.  Going for the first time, the smell of the different trees was exciting.  The farm was bigger than any I had seen and there were endless rows of different types of trees.  I felt like a little kid at Disneyland, and Ryan loves when I get that excited for Christmas.  So it was only appropriate that we take photos there. (Plus, I’m a sucker for outdoor pictures – portrait or landscape.)


Photo credit: Lindsey O’Nele

Of course, I’m an absolute sucker for twirling shots.  (Reference my wedding and anniversary photos for proof.) Lindsey nailed these shots!  I’d post every single one of them, but I’ll spare you.


Photo credit: Lindsey O’Nele
Photo credit: Lindsey O’Nele

And we also may have indulged in my silly idea of having Ryan throw me over his shoulder.  Sometimes, a photoshoot needs a little shenanigans, and it was fun to try this out!


Photo credit: Lindsey O’Nele

Photo credit: Lindsey O’Nele

For our second location, we wanted to do a little cozy indoor shoot at our apartment with the newly decorated fireplace and, of course, Lilo!  No family photo is complete unless we’ve got the furbaby.  Although our apartment wasn’t completely furnished with all things Christmas just yet and our Christmas tree barely adorned with just lights and no ornaments, we got some amazing shots that I had been wanting to do for a couple years.  It was really the first time our Christmas pictures weren’t rushed and well thought out, so it was fun and a learning process.


Photo credit: Lindsey O’Nele


Photo credit: Lindsey O’Nele


Photo credit: Lindsey O’Nele

Thank you, again, Lindsey for taking such precious and meaningful Christmas photos of our little family!  You are just the best. This was so much fun, and I can’t wait to create more beautiful memories. On that note, I think I need to watch Elf…

…or maybe Mean Girls, because “You Go, Glen CoCo!” “Aaaanndd none for you Gretchen Weiners.” ;P

 

But What if I Fall?

Fall is finally in the air here in San Diego, and I’ve returned for a new update on my life.  It’s nothing too exciting to the average reader, so I guess I’m writing this more for myself.  It’s more of a reflection I suppose. These past few months have been eventful and eye-opening. Let’s just take a quick look on the past year.

When I first started this blog, I was just married and back from my honeymoon.  Fresh and hot out of law school.  Not long after, I decided to begin pursuing a possible new career because I fell in love with wedding planning while planning my own.  (Never in a million years did I think this was a possible dream I could pursue.)  At the encouragement of my husband, I began contacting countless wedding planning companies and struck gold with the woman I work for now. I had only worked a few weddings before my grandma had a sudden turn in health for the worse, and I had to make next-day flights back home to care for my grandmother.  Around that time, I poured my thoughts and feelings into my blog since it strangely gave me even a glimmer of clarity and a release. (I never wrote an entry of closure since I hadn’t quite processed it at the time, and I intend to at some point.) When my grandmother passed suddenly, I returned to San Diego with a heavy heart I didn’t expect to have; my feelings even took Ryan by surprise. But I carried on and have continued wedding planning. Now, I’m also working for an attorney I worked for last year, and to say that it has been a blessing is an understatement. I couldn’t stop beaming because it was (at least to me) a dream job.

With both jobs, I fall in love even more, and when you work with the right people who push you, inspire you, and are genuinely kind and understanding people, you realize it’s not work if you love what you’re doing. I realize that’s rare after having gone through several jobs over the last few years.

In a strange way, I felt my grandmother’s passing was her nudge at me… telling me that life goes by quickly and that times are changing.  It is possible to do everything I want in this life and that I have to go for it now.  I have to make it happen.  It’s a lot easier said than done, which I’m sure you’ve figured out.  But with my very traditional Chinese background, I felt stuck at a crossroads with tradition and my generation’s views.  To give you a better idea of what I was struggling with, here’s a little background:

My grandma came here from China (essentially a single mom) and worked hard to give my mother and her sister a better life.  In turn, my mother (and father) worked even harder to give me an easier life. All those who came before me had struggles I can’t even begin to appreciate fully.  They didn’t have the luxuries my brother and I were so fortunate to enjoy – watching TV, sleeping in, only having to focus on ourselves and school grades. Their history and the way they were brought up meant working a steady job with good pay and reliable benefits, which to this day is a mindset they have drilled into me.

While I appreciate that it provides comfort, possibly some bragging rights if you can call it that, and the fact that it puts my mind at ease, I am surrounded by dreamers, entrepreneurs, achievers – all of whom are humble and successful. I’m inspired more and more each day so much that might heart might burst, and I just have to do something about. They have each explained to me they have had to take huge risks and have also had naysayers and odds against them.  Their successes were not without multiple failures.  I’ve even read of those who have had similar upbringings and their parents came around to their choice of careers.  Sometimes, I’m afraid my family will say all those dreamers, entrepreneurs, achievers, are all just the lucky few and to not take chances.  But there will be those who always doubt, and I’ve come to firmly believe if you trust in what you’re doing, things will naturally follow. As one of my favorite quotes goes:

“What if I fall?”

“Oh, but my darling, what if you FLY?

Having felt worn out, tired, judged, and looked down upon, I finally decided I am going to pursue wedding planning and other business ventures with Ryan. I’m going to enjoy learning photography, blogging, planning things to do on the weekends with Ryan, stop turning friends down and hanging out more, and continuing to do law. Just living life and enjoying it more. After all, as cliché as this sounds, you’ve only got one life to live and anything can happen at any moment. So, carpe diem!

P.S. Thanks for reading! I can’t believe how many of you actually read a nobody’s blog! I love hearing your feedback. XO!

I’m Fine

It’s been a while since my last post. I’ve been regrouping myself and trying to get back into the groove of things even with a lot of setbacks. But here I am. I’ve been forging ahead and trying to wake up remembering that (1) you only have one life, so don’t sweat the little things, (2) the important things in life are your family and friends, and (3) do what will make you happy.

Sometimes, when you’re going about your day in the midst of something that is overwhelming (like your job, maybe it’s studying, moving, helping a family or friend in need), you forget what you wake up thinking about: “I’m going to have a good day. Keep things in perspective. Etc.” Well, today is one of those days. I woke up having a go-getter mindset. Then I began to get slowly overwhelmed over the day: sluggish, annoyed, and defeated. Nothing really terrible happened. I was just beginning to get frustrated with what I was doing in the moment despite my best efforts; I wasn’t happy with where I was going.

All of a sudden, I just felt stuck in life.

I thought my mindset would change when I got home—change of scenery, a place I was comfortable with. But no, I was even more frustrated. Then I came across a blog entry from a southern blogger who talked about why we go to the default saying, “I’m fine” whenever we’re asked how we’re doing. I’ve seen so many articles on this topic, and each one has felt the same. They’ve all combed through so much on this particular topic that I felt there was nothing more for anyone to talk about, really. But her perspective was interesting: the reason she would say, “I’m fine” was (1) because it was a southern way of life and (2) because, in part, social media and, in some ways, women, are a part of this. (By that, she means, we say we are fine in real life and on social media, because if we say otherwise once or more than once, we get the, “It’s okay. We all have those days,” response and then behind our backs, they say something else.) The blogger goes on to discuss that she’s tired of hearing, “I’m fine,” and that if she were really friends with someone, that someone should lay it all out there honestly because she would want someone to listen to her if she were to have a bad day as well.

Firstly, I don’t think it’s just a southern thing. (Now this is just my opinion.) I think it pertains to anywhere we live. I can’t speak because I haven’t lived all over the country or all over the world. But from where I grew up, to states I’ve visited, as well as other countries, it’s all been the same response. Furthermore, I could say that’s how I feel the culture is in San Diego, as well. I don’t know—I could be wrong. Perhaps being in the law field, I feel that you have to be professional and not let emotions get the best of you to your partner, firm, company, clients, anyone. Maybe other professions in San Diego are laid back and you can just talk about how you’re feeling with your co-workers. (Thoughts, anyone?)

Now as to her latter reason, in theory, that sounds great. I’ve always thought this growing up: that friends should be able to tell friends anything. But let’s be honest. She’s right about women being a part of the problem. I’ll also say what some are really afraid to say, and that I have been afraid to say for a while, as well. Some girls just don’t play like that. I have friends that I feel like I can tell anything to but then feel bad afterwards thinking they’re judging me for complaining, for having a bad day, for feeling crummy over something small (maybe once or maybe often). I’ve seen them talk about their other friends and say, “she complains too much,” “I just don’t have time for that, etc.” (I’ve been guilty of this before, too. Don’t worry. I make conscious efforts to stop doing things like this.) I’ve seen some of them gradually change not only in person but in social media; they don’t tell me about tiny things that bother them when they used to. I understand that we tend to do these things as we grow up, but the extent that some people put these walls up for the sake of “adulting,”– it really catches me off guard and a lot of me finds it unnecessary. Do you really need to do that with friends? Am I the only one that doesn’t mind when a close friend, no matter where they are in life or what circumstances they’re now in, just calls me up and says, “Hey, I want to talk. My life just sucks right now”? Shouldn’t we keep part of that aspect in our lives to stay a little sane and healthy? It’s a strange and sort of insane balance of being a friend, or so I’ve found. We like to appear to have it all together, we’re mature, we’re adults now.

Fortunately, I’m incredibly lucky to have a friend now, after basically my entire life, who I can call up or text any time, any day, and just complain to about anything and everything. I don’t feel bad about it afterwards. And I don’t feel like she’s judging me. (Sure, I say sorry for complaining, but she gets it.) And the relationship works vice versa. (I should also mention that my husband is this exact sort of friend, too, but a girl needs another girl sometimes!) That kind of friendship keeps me sane and feeling healthy. The point is in a man’s world where we women are still trying to fight our way to the top and earn our fair share that men earn, we should support each other at the most basic level — being mentally, emotionally, and physically– if possible,there. There are enough men to judge us when we’re feeling vulnerable, emotional, or even when we’re just going about our day feeling fine as a peach. Ideally, we shouldn’t have to figure out which girlfriend is on our side and will listen to us. Ideally.

But back to my having a downer day and reading that blog post: in a strange way, reading her blog and that particular topic made me feel better. I may not have agreed with her post 100% but I really appreciated her raw and honest perspective on the whole “I’m feeling fine, today” projection to others. It made me think that on days like today, it’s okay to feel down in the dumps. I always knew it was okay to feel that way. I just hate it. I hate acknowledging it. Who likes feeling down? It makes me lose productivity. But today, I’m not feeling fine, and that’s okay. Today, my friend is on the other side of the world in a different time zone, but she’d still listen no matter what the time zone. Today, my husband will tell me it’s okay to feel down because in my position, he has felt the same exact way. So it’s okay. Tomorrow will be another day. Tomorrow, maybe I’ll feel differently and genuinely say, “I’m fine.”

What It’s Like to Provide Hospice Care to Your Own Family

Death happens in so many ways, and many of us handle it in different ways. The first few times I knew of someone dying, I was either too young to understand what was happening or I was intentionally far removed from the situation. I remember trying to get on my tippy toes to see who was on the hospital bed, and I remember how pristine the room was with family crowded around behind these flimsy curtains. I also remember seeing someone I knew — a family friend — who used to be warm, loud, and welcoming just laying peacefully at a funeral. I was too young to process the entire ceremony or even the process leading up to death itself.

The first real death I understood and processed was when I was in my first year of college.  My grandmother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  Every summer, I would go to Hawai’i to visit relatives, and this summer was no exception. The only difference was that now, my grandma couldn’t do the things I was used to seeing her do such as cooking us dinner, walking around, and running chores in the backyard. This time, I had to help my dad wash her on the couch, she had a bag attached to her so she could eat and use the restroom, and my father and I would have to clean this bag often. It was definitely a little hard to see, but it wasn’t anything I couldn’t swallow.  She was hardly tired.  I knew she was a strong spirit, and this wasn’t going to stop her boisterous attitude. By the end of that summer, she seemed to be improving, but just in case, I said my goodbyes. Not long after I flew back to California, she passed away suddenly, and I was not expecting it. Two months later, my grandfather passed suddenly, and of course, that was hard on me.  He was in amazing health when I had said goodbye to him. I’d spent every single summer with them since I was a child, and the period in which they passed wasn’t long enough for me to digest either of their deaths. It was a difficult rest of the year to say the least…

Around that same time, my other grandma was diagnosed with dementia and it progressed quickly each year. I made trips back home often to help my parents care for my grandma– feeding, clothing, showering, walking. It was a ’round-the-clock responsibility that we chose to take on as a family because my mom and aunt were nurses, and I don’t regret it.

Fast forward to ten years later. About four weeks ago, I got a phone call from my mother saying that my grandma had suffered a major heart attack, and the doctor said that before this, she had (over time in the past year) been having minor heart attacks. No one knew because my grandmother didn’t know what was wrong with her and likely forgot almost as soon as it happened so she never voiced anything. Since then, only 25% of her heart has been functioning.  I flew home the next day I received the phone call to help my mother because we were going to begin palliative care as the prognosis was essentially that she did not have long to live, and my dad had just had cataract surgery rendering him helpless as well. No other relatives were around to help care for my grandma. That week, I spent all day every day next to my grandmother. Feeding her, changing her diapers, bathing her in bed, brushing her teeth, taking her on walks when she felt well enough. On those walks, I’d walk her down the same streets she’d walk me every day for seven years to get to school. It was just us two, and I would stroll her in silence taking in the sunlight.  We both love the warmth of the sun.  Those were our moments, and I’m lucky I got those moments. At night, my mother and I woke up every 4 hours to give her medication and change her diapers. During the entire week and a half, she still knew who I was and was able to talk to me, and she seemed more alert than before. As soon as I got to the airport to go back to my new home with my husband, I fell apart. I cried the entire way home and well into the night in my husband’s arms. But I thought at least, I got to say my goodbyes, and she knew who I was when I left.  I didn’t need to go through the heartbreak again.

Then just a few days ago, my mother said she needed my help again because she needed to work. The day arrived, everything seemed just as it was when I left. My grandma was still eating, could sit up, and look at me. But as the night took over and my mother and I continued our four hour routine, we noticed my grandmother had taken a turn for worse breathing harder. At times, we saw her stop breathing for seconds at a time before we could proceed to rotate her. The only time she would open her eyes completely was when she was in pain and couldn’t breath. When my mother would walk out of the room to get water for her, she would look at me wide-eyed when it was just the two of us in this huge living room, and it completely broke my heart. I was so helpless.  She was telling me with her eyes, “Help me, I can’t breathe.” Just her eyes struck at my heart.  At this point, I had never dealt with death this closely, and I could have lost it then and there, but I needed to keep it together for my mother. When my mom walked back into the room and my grandma gasped for air, my mother knew she needed to give her pain medication, and it was the first time she ever needed to use it. By morning, my mother and I looked at each other and knew she was starting to actually go.

My grandmother, as of this morning, can no longer drink liquids or eat baby food. Instead, we have to brush a sponge filled with water to wet her lips and make it easier for her to suck on it. We grind her pills with liquid, and she can barely even take it. She can no longer speak, and her eyes roll to the back of her head and stay closed. Her breathing stops more often, and when she gasps for air, it pierces my heart every. single. time.  With her congestive heart failure, liquid is filling her lungs, and she can’t cough.  When she breathes, you can hear the gurgling. She turns her head left to right in agitation trying to breathe.

After only one day, my heart can’t bear it. I’m ready to collapse, burst in tears, and my heart is panging. But seeing my aunt and mom crying, I know I need to be strong. We know the end is nearer than we thought, and she could go at any moment.  I don’t know how I am going to be able to handle this or move forward. I’ve never dealt with death on this level. Providing hospice care for a family member is incredibly hard– having to watch them suffer like this every second of the day, getting worse every hour and you can’t take away their suffering. Having to provide comfort to them while watching them die. I would not wish this on anyone. I’m not ready to deal with this at all… I didn’t think heart break could get any worse. Just moments ago, I walked into her room to get something and that huge lump in my throat and the tears just hit me.  The piles of clothes she wore were on her bed, her wheelchair that she had used just a few days ago was there, she used to sleep in there, but her clothes… her clothes. As I walked back out of her room and into the living room to sit next to her and seeing her so helpless, I am losing it this second.

I can’t help thinking that she knew I would be back without my even knowing it, and she held on just for me to come back. But that breaks my heart even more. I don’t know how I will face the rest of this night or even tomorrow, but all I can do is pray.

I’m back!

You guys! If you’re here, you’ve no doubt found this via my instagram or you just stumbled upon this post. I am so excited that you’re actually here and reading this and am so grateful that you would even be here. I have been working on this blog on and off since last summer, but it is finally coming to fruition! I’m still experimenting with the pictures I take, post, and how to incorporate them into my post so bear with me for the next several months. Did I mention how happy I am that you’re even reading this post? Well, I am. So thank you, again, and I hope you’ll engage yourselves in these posts with me and with each other because it won’t always be about fashion but rather every day thoughts and situations. (Also, in future posts, my pictures will be more scattered throughout posts rather than at the very end! Not to worry.)

Anyway, for a first post, I thought I’d give you a little teaser of this past weekend with Ryan. (Ryan is my husband for those readers who are new to me and my blog!) With the crazy rain San Diego has been having, the Anza-Borrego Desert now has flowers blooming like crazy! So, we decided our to explore the “super bloom” and have a fun little getaway just for us. Well, it was certainly fun and hilarious because here’s the story:

My car was 3/4 filled with gas before heading out, and I asked Ryan whether we should fill up on gas. I always like to assume the worst and be prepared for anything.

Ryan turned to me and shrugged, “It’s a city there, right? They’ll have gas there. The drive isn’t that long. We’ll be fine.”

“Are you sure? It’s a desert over there…”

“We’ll be fine. We can find one on the way up there if we need to.”

“Okay. You’re right. I think………….. Yea. You’re right. I trust you.”

“We’ll be fine,” he said. “We’ll be fine.” HA.

The entire drive up, there was not one gas place to be seen. As the gas began to drop and we were getting closer to the desert, Ryan and I giggled nervously because it was unbelievable that before we even got to the desert, we saw not one gas station. As we entered the dizzying and winding roads of the desert, Ryan and continued to look at each other and laugh. “We’ll push if we have to.”  It was not a joking matter, but we were in such good spirits because we were just happy to be spending time with each other that it didn’t matter. After we finally made it to the desert, I tried to look up gas on Ryan’s phone which did not have reception. Dun dun dun!

Luckily, my phone, which has Verizon — LIFESAVER– was able to locate a gas station 18 minutes further into the desert. “Gringos Gas Station” it said. “Thank the Lord! Where would you be without me?” I laughed at Ryan. “Dead.” To Gringos Gas Station we went. Upon arrival, what did we see? A whole lot of empty, abandoned cars lined up and the gas station completely abandoned. Now let me just tell you that where this gas station is, it exists just off a tiny roundabout. On the roundabout, there exists a Tiny Wells Fargo, a half abandoned mall, and one other restaurant. It’s called the Christmas Circle. It was NOT a Christmas Circle. Who named that?!

On our search for more gas, we had to go back around the roundabout, past the Wells Fargo and past the half abandoned mall to get to the one other gas station in existence. There were only two pumps available and the only gas available was premium and each person had to go into a liquor store to pay for the gas. Cars were piled up all the way out of the parking lot, cars were leaving because it took too long. Ryan and I just laughed hysterically because this little Christmas Circle roundabout town– or whatever you call it– was seriously something out of a book! People inside the liquor store were just swiping 5-6 bottles of water frantically left and right. Ryan likes to say it was madness like the apocalypse was coming.

Well after that little adventure, we were hungry for lunch, so naturally, we went to the half-abandoned mall whereupon we found one restaurant completely closed, people starving peering inside the windows, and inside, Costco-sized packs of water just packed to the ceiling. Just locked behind those sad doors. It was sad but too funny at the same time. (Good thing we had our hydroflasks.) I felt so nervous leaving my car in the parking lot with our water in sight, but Ryan and I ventured on just behind the mall and found a hidden restaurant luckily. Afterward, we finally had our highly anticipated hiking adventure and picture taking in the desert.

We had a lot of funny things happen on this trip, but this post would go on forever. All in all, it was so worth it, and I wish we had more time and that we could go back out there again… but we have planned some other fun adventures for the next upcoming weekends. So stay tuned! Until then, here are just a few of the many photos we took! I’ll make a separate post about my ouftit. I just figured since this is my first post, I’d make it juicy and fun for you all. Hope you all had a good chuckle like I did. Below are the details of my outfits.

Romper: on sale at Shop Tobi  Thigh highs: Want My Look

Jacket: No longer on sale, but still up on Tobi Shoes: from Missguided but are no longer available. You can find similar shoes there or on Public Desire.