So long, 2016.

I wasn’t going to write this post even though I’ve been doing it for the last 3 years but lots of things can happen in one year so I’ll make this short and sweet.

2016 was rough, I’m not going to lie. It. was. rough. Most of it being in the 2nd half of the year.

Rereading last year’s annual reflection post was hard. I felt like someone else wrote that post. On one hand, I am proud of last year’s me and on the other hand, slightly jealous. I didn’t achieve as much greatness as I did last year. I didn’t do as much as I would have liked and I certainly did not grow into the person I hoped to become. I am filled with disappointment and regret which is honestly really sad but there’s not much to be done now that the year is over.

I interned over the summer and learned that I hate being stuck behind a desk. Then I went to potential future work places and realized that maybe being stuck behind a desk isn’t so bad. The honors program thingy? A total letdown, thanks to a bunch of empty promises made by an irresponsible professor. I worked hard to get into the program – nobody truly understands how much mental work went into simply applying for it – and in the end, it turned out to be like this.

But so as to not be ungrateful and unrealistic, good things did happen. 2016 was the year of discovering KPop. I discovered Teukie who needs to find me so that we can hold each other and have a heart-to-heart. Okay, more than that, I did meet great people (friends and teachers) along the way and I had some enlightening moments. I made mistakes but I will try to learn from them and push myself in the right direction.

We discovered Yogurtland and I ate a lot over summer. I lost a lot of weight but I put most of it back on – half good, half bad thing, I guess. I had some kitchen successes – making my own alfredo sauce, okonomiyaki, foil-wrapped everything aka easy cleanup. What else… More and more gingko trees are being planted on campus; I want to be engulfed in their blazing yellow beauty. Oh, and I did read some awesome books so I guess that’s a plus right there.

As for my birthday, I had cake, lunch at my favorite Thai restaurant, dinner at our usual dim sum place, and I got great gifts – a meaningful necklace from my mom and original artwork from my sister. Can’t complain.

I want to be kinder, I want to be more patient, I want to appreciate the little things, I want to remember that it’s okay to ask for help. I want to stop being so hard on myself, to stop comparing myself to my past selves/others, to stop giving in to negativity. I want to remember that I am responsible for my actions/emotions and that my emotions are not my enemies. None of that is going to happen by itself so it’s going to have to be me making the effort. Most of all, I want to tell myself that I am capable of all this.

I don’t have new goals or resolutions for next year.

Happy New Year. Hopefully you made it out of 2016 better than I did. Let’s take on 2017 together.

Raine
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail

Thank you, 2015. Hello, 2016.

sb-happynewyear I previously put the title as ‘you’ve been real, 2015’ but it sounded like I’m glad 2015 is over. That’s not how I feel about this year though. If I wanted to use ‘real’ in my title, the word ‘surreal’ would be more appropriate.

So how was 2015 for me? is what I always use in my year in review posts.

This year was surreal and filled with lots of firsts. Our biggest first this year was being alone for school over here. When Mom went home right at the beginning of this year, we had to manage on our own and having technically never been away for school alone, we had no idea how we’d do. I’d say we did okay. We fumbled, learned, and grew. For me, the most important thing I learned was to go easy on myself. I’m always very hard on myself and I have control issues born out of fear of things not being done right and also the annoying need to take on burdens by myself but this year I’ve actively tried to let go.

Other firsts: making jams and sauces from scratch (!!), lots of cooking and baking firsts (mishaps and deliciousness all happen in the kitchen, my friends), my sister getting her driver’s license (holla!!), going to our first college basketball game (and subsequently trying to go to all of them this season because we love basketball), taking a flight alone (well, with my sister but it was our first time doing it ourselves), witnessing all 4 seasons in California (fall is gorgeous), first time at a Christmas party, driving through decorated neighborhoods for Christmas, first time going to a craft fair (read about it here), Major’s first birthday (wait, you mean you don’t name your car?), and I really cannot list everything here.

Here have some pictures that I cannot seem to slot into the post appropriately (and please feel free to follow me at my new Instagram handle @raineandraisin because I forgot the password to my other account lol):

sb-ny1

sb-ny2

sb-ny3

sb-ny4

I am rereading last year’s ‘year in review’ post as I write this. Reading the part where I quoted the Barakamon opening theme song, I’m really moved because I feel that I’ve found bits and pieces of myself this year and it’s true that you don’t have to go back to the beginning to find yourself. I compared myself with others less this year and I was kinder to myself (for the most part).

One of the biggest turning points in my life so far has been learning more about Buddhism. Buddhism is something I want to write about one day. Though I have some ways to go, I am determined to learn and practice Buddhism as much as I can. Hustle, hustle, muscle, muscle! (That’s a quote from one of the weirdest, funniest shows we’ve watched this year)

I am also pleased to tell you that this year I stepped outside of my comfort zone and pushed myself more than I ever have. So one of the biggest things that I accomplished this year is getting into an honors program. The thought of doing research is nerve-wracking yet exciting?! These 3 sentences don’t even begin to describe all the feelings I had during, before, and after applying for the program. I wrote 2 long posts about it but never got around to wrapping them up.

I met a number of people this year who have inspired me to do better and learn more. I met new friends and kept up with old ones. I feel like this year I have become a better friend which is nice (oh god my vocab). I am thankful for all the people in my life this year, whether they taught me something or silently motivated me or made me feel like I belong or remained by my side when I most needed it.

As usual, I’m throwing in a bit about my birthday since my birthday is in December and I ended up not writing about my birthday. I turned 22 this month. It was a modest affair (I reread 2013’s year in review post and it seems that ever since I entered my 20s, my birthdays have been really mild). My mom and sister took me out to another fancy lunch AND had dessert just like last year. This time I had a huge chocolate chip cookie topped with ice cream and it was deeply satisfying.

My ninja gift givers also pulled off yet another birthday surprise. My sister got me a keychain which is always nice because I used to be a keychain hoarder (had literally 20 keychains on my pencil case at one point in time) and I still do love keychains. I did NOT expect anything so it was a fun surprise. I asked my mom for lipstick but there have been some hiccups with the site that we want to order from so I’m still waiting for that. I haven’t made birthday wish lists in years because as I’ve grown older, I realize that I don’t need material things to be happy on my birthday. I’m happy with just cake and family.

As for our love for Japanese things, I’m happy to say that it was a successful year of discovering Chemistry, watching sooo many new animes, and finding manga gems. Oh yes, we managed to make a huge step forwards in our Japanese learning which is super exciting. Has it already been 2 years since we dove back into the anime/manga world?! Like I said, surreal.

Random: I took 6 weeks of Korean classes this year during summer but sadly haven’t made time to continue learning it on my own. My retention is likely 15% haha but I want to work on it so that all that time and money won’t be wasted. Also, I just really love languages and want to learn as many as I can. Being in California, I would like to learn Spanish buuut I don’t know how doable that’s going to be if I’m still working on my Japanese. This was so random.

Learning a new language isn’t easy and though it has taken us longer than expected to get to this point, it is still deeply rewarding and I want to tell everyone who is learning a new language not to give up even if you think you’ve fallen behind or that you won’t get to where you want to be or that you won’t actually get to use it so why bother. And whatever you do, don’t feel discouraged by people or books telling you that their way is the best and only way to learn the language. There is no RIGHT way to learn a language and it’s perfectly OKAY to go at your own pace.

There is one main thing that I wanted to do this year which I half-accomplished, half-failed at. That was to control my emotions better. I am disappointed at all the times I gave in to my emotions and did/said things I can’t be proud of.

Overall, this year didn’t feel like it went by super fast. It had all the ups and downs and loop-d-loops but it was also a year of accomplishments and solid life lessons. To quote last year’s post but with a different spin: I stumbled and fell now and then, sometimes I was helped up, sometimes I helped myself up, but ultimately I’m grateful for everything I’ve learned this year and for the less pleasant things, I will chalk them up to experience and grow from there. Probably the wisest thing I said last year.

I don’t have a theme song going into 2016 like I did for last year. I hoped that I would find one but I didn’t. I have been trying to think of my ‘word’ or ‘phrase’ for 2016 because I’ve seen lots of inspiring ones out there but ultimately, here I am on the last day of 2015, still undecided. When I think of next year and some of the things that I know lie ahead, a few words come to mind but if I want to pick a word, I want it to encompass both the known and unknown.

Mindfulness.

It’s been a word that has been coming to me frequently and I can’t think of a more appropriate time to bring it up. Mindfulness used to be a word I didn’t understand and didn’t think about often. It is actually a really simple concept – that is to be fully present – yet it is not as easy to practice as we think.

With that, I would like to declare mindfulness as something I would like to actively practice going into 2016.

Here’s to being present and cultivating more compassion! Let’s meet again soon.

Raine
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail

Birthday idea: giving back

Let’s talk birthdays. Mine’s coming up really soon and here’s the thing: I have no idea what I want. And it’s not even the first time. Last year I also had no birthday wishlist. I just couldn’t think of anything I really, really wanted. Okay, maybe I thought it’d be nice to get some books but then I’d already gotten some bookstore coupons that I could use so I don’t think that counts.

The year before I’m not sure if I had a wishlist – I don’t think I did but even if I did, it probably wasn’t even anything particularly serious. So this year, again I find myself present-list-less. Is that even a word? I sat down the other day and realized that my birthday is around the corner and I haven’t had any particular thoughts about what I want. Then I sat down a little longer, dug a bit deeper and realized that yeah, actually there is something I want.

Before I get to that part, let’s do a recap of what I did get for my birthday last year and the year before.

bdaypr11

A high heel and alphabet charm from my mom and sister to add to my charm collection. Check out the wings on that heel. I was going through a high heel obsession at that point and it was only fitting that I got a shoe charm. I’m just sad that it’s tarnished now. Yeah, me and silver? We don’t go well together, haha. There’s a way to get it all shiny again but I have not tried that yet.

polarboots12Last year I didn’t really want anything but when I saw these polar bear booties I was immediately drawn to them. Did I get them? Uh, yeah, no. My mom said it was ridiculous and impractical and cost too much. She’s right. I probably wouldn’t have worn them more than once or twice. But don’t get me wrong, they are still on my whimsy-purchase wishlist. One day I will own you, polar bear booties.

This year I would like to help people. I’ve seen people set up fundraisers for causes they believe in for their birthday and even though I’ve known that for quite a while, it only just occurred to me that hey, I could do that too. Wouldn’t it be great to raise money for a cause instead of asking for presents?

Which is why this year I’m thinking of hosting a birthday fundraiser on Crowdrise to donate to the World Food Program. I know other people who have hosted their own charities but I don’t know what platform they use so I did my own research. I found Crowdrise and I think it’s brilliant. I’m just not sure how it works yet. If anyone has used it yet, please let me know how you liked it. If not, what fundraising platform did you use or what would you recommend?

Um yes, if you’re wondering why Edward Norton’s face is on the banner, it’s because he’s one of the co-founders. He’s raised a lot of money from running marathons for charity. I would love to run a marathon for a charity one day.

Note: This is not my cake.

Last year I didn’t get the cake I wanted because I kind of mentioned it a bit too late. No matter though. My mom made a kickass cheesecake – you know you want some – and everyone enjoyed it. My dream cake for this year? A Minnie Mouse buttercream cake. Am I 5? Possibly… Am I 20? NO WAY.

Correction: we went to the cake store that used to do all these awesome buttercream cakes and apparently now cakes have pictures printed onto them using sugar paper… I’m disappointed. I love the jelly piping and the uniqueness of seeing a drawing on a cake :/ Yeah, so no cake, I guess.

Ever done a birthday fundraiser? Let me know what you think about my birthday idea. 🙂

zr1

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail