Happy Chinese New Year/Due Date

It’s Chinese New Year today. It’s also the same day Steven was supposed to be born. One of the names on our list was Everett because today marks the day of the pig, and Everett means “brave boar.”

I had a really crazy morning. At 3am, I woke up with a really sharp pain in my stomach. I tried drinking water, walking around, going to the bathroom, but the pain wouldn’t go away. Eventually, Will woke up to my moaning and groaning. We decided to head to the ER where there was a 4 hour wait. After 2 hours, the sharp pains subsided, although my stomach still felt sore. I was exhausted, though, and just wanted to go home and back to bed. So we left.

I don’t get pains or sickness that easily, so it was scary to have experienced that. It took me a while to think of a time I’ve felt pain similar to this morning, and then it hit me, I have: the day I gave birth to Steven. I had to be induced and I asked the nurses how I’ll know when it’s time to deliver. They told me that it would feel like menstrual cramps, but that wasn’t informative because I don’t get those. Another nurse told me it would feel like I had to poop myself. Lo and behold, I ended up waking up in the middle of the night with weird stomach pains and feeling like I had to poop myself.

Anyway, it just feels really weird that, of all days, all that happened today. It seems far fetched, but part of me wonders if that means I would have given birth to Steven at 3am today if his heart continued beating and made it to term. I told my therapist about it; her background is in biopsych, and she thinks that it’s highly possible I’m having phantom contractions. I’m not sure if I really believe that but it’s wild to think about.

Today is a sad day, but Will and I are going to celebrate it. We got a little cake and some candles. My grandma usually makes 12 dishes to celebrate the lunar new year, but I don’t think I can do such a dinner justice. Also, there is absolutely no reason to make 12 dishes for just two people. Instead, I’m just making homemade dumplings and will pray for a year that is prosperous in joy and peace.


good riddance, 2018

I’ve been anxiously waiting for this year to be over for the past few months. When I look back, it’s amazing how much has happened this year and how much of a different place I was in January than I am now. If I tried really hard, I’m sure I could somehow spin a positive note to this end of the year. But why should I? The truth is, I don’t want to and I don’t need to. The end of this year really sucked and it is what it is.

By the end of 2017, I had learned a lot of great lessons and gained this gung-ho, “I can accomplish anything I want!” perspective. I was apprehensive about 2018; I thought it was going to be boring and less adventurous. And in a way, it was. But I was also ready, and I tackled the new year head-on. I finished my thesis and got my degree, I started freelancing and reached full-time hours, and Will and I bought bought and renovated a freakin’ house. So yeah, I accomplished a lot. Then we found out I was pregnant, and we were so excited and ready to start a new family.

But then the year packed itself with events that were 100% out of my control. A friend of mine passed away after battling brain cancer over the last few years. A family member discovered she had stage 4 lung cancer. One of my closest friends lost her best friend in a tragic accident, then had her heart broken as her relationship with a long-time boyfriend ended. We couldn’t find Steven’s heartbeat, and I had to deliver a stillborn child – our firstborn, and our parents’ first grandchild. Six weeks later, we found out everything had been normal; there were no answers as to what may have happened. And, of course, I naturally became surrounded by pregnant women everywhere I went.

It was just blow after blow after blow and all these events made this year seem so long and fruitless. As I contemplated doing the same end-of-year exercise as I did last December, I realized that when it comes to the things I had control over, I really did my best and I did it all. Honestly, there wouldn’t be much that I would actually change. I am capable and I am strong! But…who cares about how much money I make or how many clients I have or if I got my degree or whether or not my new house is in tip-top shape? Who cares about any of that stuff when it’s all worth giving up if it meant I could hear my baby’s cry just one time.

To 2018 – I get it now. I understand that so many things are out of my control. I understand that shit is gonna happen and there is nothing I can do but to deal with it. The lesson is learned and I’m not making any more assumptions anymore. But to 2019 – I hope you are more forgiving and merciful. I hope you teach me how to be less angry at my circumstances. Show me how to better harmonize grief and gratitude, and help me recognize the bigger picture. And please, if you would, give my heart a little break.


Getting Through the Holidays

What a month of celebrations November has been: I had my 28th birthday, one of my best friends got married, and Thanksgiving. Oh, and Black Friday. We bought a new fridge and stove/range during the sale, which will be delivered tomorrow. Yay, we’re finally going to have a kitchen! That’s definitely worth celebrating.

It always feels crazy how so many major holidays are packed into the months of November to January. Everything is one right after the other. In about two weeks, Will and I are traveling back to Philadelphia for Christmas and New Year’s.

I’ve never liked the holiday season that much. I know it’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year but I don’t like the shopping frenzy, the pressure to get gifts for people I don’t know that well, and the music. Ugh, the music! I really don’t like Christmas music. And this year, it feels even more of a drag. It’s not that I don’t want to be thankful, but there’s this excessive message telling me to feel grateful right now. More specifically, it feels like people are telling me to not think of my shitty situation, and to be grateful despite it. In other words, “This is a time to be happy. Ignore the bad stuff for now.”

But I’m not ignoring “the bad stuff” because “the bad stuff” is just part of my life. And I don’t know how to bridge the gap between celebrating with the rest of the world and not faking my way through the holidays. Obviously, I don’t want to be a downer. Really, I just want to crawl into bed and hibernate until Spring.

I am thankful, though, for a lot of things. I got two new clients recently, and I had a new idea for my freelancing that I’m currently testing. I’m thankful that my dog is (slowly) learning how to pee and poo outside. I started therapy, which has been pretty good. Will and I got to spend time with my family during Thanksgiving, and Will is about to finish his semester. Our house is coming together. We also found a small group that we like. So yeah, there’s a lot to be thankful for.


A Trip to the Doctor

Will and I went in for our post-natal appointment on Thursday. We were hoping to find out what could have happened to baby Steven…I guess for some closure. I don’t really know. But everything came up normal and it will forever be a mystery. We asked about the umbilical cord, the placenta, the food I was eating, the exercise I did, and possible environmental reasons, but there was just no answer. They don’t know. We don’t know. Maybe God wants me to trust in this moment, but I think he’s being mean.

The doctor said the good news is that we should be able to continue having children. She said at least she didn’t have to tell me that we would never have children again. I guess that is good news. But Steven is always going to be my firstborn.


One Month

It has been one month since I gave birth to my son.
I am not usually a fan of 1, 3, or even 6-month “anniversaries.” Because, you know, an anniversary is an annual event. But I would have definitely celebrated every one of Steven’s milestones. His first week. His third month. His half year. All of it.
There are still some friends who ask me how I’m doing. I’m grateful, for sure, but I also don’t know how to answer that anymore. I’m always sad, but at least I’m not crying every single day anymore, so I guess I am doing okay. Some days are better than others, but I’m still heartbroken. I think I’m going to be heartbroken forever. There are days when I’m doing my thing when I suddenly realize, “I’m supposed to be taking care of a baby.” which then turns to, “Wait, no, I’m actually supposed to still be pregnant.” Then I cry a little bit, or I cry a lot. And then I stop crying because I have to move on with my day. I still have writing deadlines to make, house chores to do, and now a dog to take care of. I am always tired, but I have to keeping moving.
Whenever someone asks if I’m okay, I don’t know what to say because I don’t want to burden them with my forever-sadness. And that’s exactly what it is: forever-sadness. I’m going to be sad forever. I’m going to miss my son forever. I’m going to feel his absence forever. I’m going to think about him forever.
This past month has passed by so fast, yet it also felt like an eternity. Life is just moving on and dragging me along.

A Letter to Our Friends

Back in May, Will and I were elated to find out that we were expecting our first child, and four weeks ago, we found out we were going to have a baby boy. On Tuesday, we went in for our 22-week ultrasound, and the doctor gave us bad news: our baby’s heart was no longer beating and he had passed on. At around 2:30am on Wednesday, I gave birth to our son, Steven Eddy, named in honor of Will’s close childhood friend.

To say that this is a difficult time is an understatement. At five months pregnant, this was the last thing we expected to happen. We don’t know why or how, and we may never know the answers to these questions. They said there was nothing we could have done to prevent this; I know they said this to stress it wasn’t my fault. Knowing that this wasn’t in my control makes me feel angry and confused. It feels like this baby never had a chance for any other outcome.

I feel sad because my body is recovering from giving birth but my son is not with me. I feel sad that I’ll never get to hear him cry or laugh. I won’t experience feeding him or staying up all night trying to get him to sleep. I won’t be able to watch him grow up or be able to look into his eyes to tell him that I love him.

To be honest, my faith doesn’t feel that strong, but maybe the universe was trying to prepare me somehow. The past two messages I heard at church were about suffering and the redemption of dark experiences. So, in the midst of my grief, I also want to share things I am thankful for.

First and foremost I am thankful for Will – my perfect partner and Steven’s loving father. I could not get through any of this without him by my side. When it was time to give birth, I was so afraid and didn’t feel emotionally or physically ready, but Will was there and held my hand through the whole thing. As hard as this experience is, I am grateful that we have each other. We both lost our child but together we will get through this.

I am thankful that Will and I got to hold little baby Steven and spend time with him. Although he was born four months early and wasn’t fully formed, he looked so perfect in our eyes. He had my nose and Will’s forehead. His arms and legs were long and looked muscular – I think he would’ve been a great athlete like his uncles Aaron and Brian.

I am thankful that my parents and brother came to visit, despite everything happening so quickly. I feel thankful that my mom, Judy, got to hold her grandson. One of the roots of my sadness is that my son will never know the presence and touch from people whom I know would’ve showered him with love. My mom was so excited to be a grandmother and I am so glad she was there to see Steven and experience those moments with Will and me.

I am thankful that my son shares a birthday with his other grandmother, Will’s mom Martina. Any connection my son can have to his family brings me comfort.

I am thankful for the nurses and doctors at the hospital that talked Will and me through the delivery process, before and after. I am thankful for Nora, the nurse that dressed our son up with an adorable tiny knitted hat – it let us see him in a different light. Seeing my baby in that hat caught me off guard but it was something I didn’t know we needed, and I am so grateful that a stranger treated my baby with such love and care.

I am thankful for our families who offered support during this terrible time, and I am thankful for my closest friends – Susan, Aerin, Angelica, Jenn, and Jess – who were there to both support me and mourn with me through this loss.

To my beautiful and precious baby Steven – I loved you when you were in my womb, I love you today, and I will love you forever. Even though you’re no longer here with us, Will and I are always going to be your parents. I wish we could have had more time with you, and that things didn’t turn out this way. Nonetheless, you brought joy into our life, and I can only be thankful for the few moments we were able to spend together. You will always be part of this family and you will forever be in my heart. Love, Mom.


Reaching Goals / Keeping Resolutions

Bah, I can’t believe January is basically over. How is everyone doing with their resolutions? 🙂

Did you know the second Friday of the year is known as “Quitter’s Day?” Apparently, that’s the day most people start quitting their resolutions. 12 days! I sort of understand – when people make resolutions, they also have these grand images of themselves being a better person. A different person. The problem is, change is a process, and progress can be slow. You don’t just suddenly become fit or successful. The imagination of motivation can only get you so far.

After I posted my resolutions a couple weeks ago, I got discouraged pretty quickly. Actually, I’ve been discouraged every week, haha. Mainly because of my thesis. I have 9 weeks to do this thing; I’m already in week 4, and way behind. It sucks to feel like you’re behind. And having a deadline for presentations? It is very anxiety-inducing.

I’ve also felt discouraged about other things, like how I’ve been spending a lot of money this month, even though one of my big goals is to spend a lot less. Granted, 97% of the purchases were necessary and it also includes the amount Will and I spent on our road trip. In my mind, I *know* I shouldn’t feel guilty, but I still do. (Also, how crazy is it that Will and I have only been in Philly for less than a month? Feels like a lifetime already!)

Anyway, there have been many times this month that I felt like a failure, or like I was starting the year off on a bad note.

I know why people give up on their resolutions so easily: we are so discouraged by not living up to the expectations we have for ourselves. We’ve pictured the montage of ourselves working hard and changing into this wonderful and better person, only to be disappointed by the reality. We are still the same as we were, and we aren’t seeing results. We give up because we feel we are unable to be the person we thought we could be, and it’s easier to go back to old habits rather than stick to new ones that may not necessarily produce the results we are looking for.

What to do when you’re feeling discouraged

  • Acknowledge your successes and give yourself a pat on the back
  • Evaluate why your goals are your goals – are you doing it for yourself, for your family?
  • Pinpoint the true hurdles that are keeping you from accomplishing your goals
  • Switch up your routine, add a habit, or do something different that will help you overcome your hurdles

The practical side of me knows what I need to do to change my perspective. Resolutions and goals are about becoming a better person, NOT about being the best right away. Making a resolution does not mean we all of a sudden become a different person. I had/have to learn to stop beating myself up for not living up to the “new me.”

I also realized that, as the first month of the year, January isn’t necessarily about “new year, new me”. Instead, it’s a time of self-evaluation and self-encouragement. It’s good to use the new year to decide what areas of one’s life needs to be changed and improved, but the time can also further be spent self-evaluating the mental (or physical) hurdles that are in the way. It’s about taking the time to pinpoint those problem areas and learn how to move forward and tackle them.

Like I said, the practical side of me knows that. The practicing side of me, however, is slowly learning and still applying. But it’s ok – slow learning is better than no learning at all.

If you’re not achieving your goals in full swing, I want to encourage you to acknowledge what you HAVE done. Maybe you didn’t do it perfectly, or maybe there’s still a ton of stuff on the to-do list that you hoped would have been finished by now, but give yourself a pat on the back for making it this far. I’m not really saying you need to be happy with where you’re at, but don’t let your shortcomings overshadow your accomplishments. Value the work you HAVE done, and then move on to tackle the next.

If you’re thinking of giving up, whether it’s letting yourself skip a gym day or waiting another day to start any creative pursuits, my challenge to you is this: ask yourself if you really want to achieve those goals. If the answer is yes, then figure out what exactly is keeping you from reaching those goals. Is it because it’s hard? Uncomfortable? Are you just being lazy? Is working towards your goals more time-consuming than you thought? Whatever the root issue is, you can’t problem solve until you’ve determined exactly what it is. But the key is to try and stay positive. Easier said than done, yes, but so important. Because the more you feel down, the harder it will be to keep going.

Tomorrow is February, but all we’ve got is time. Don’t get caught up in who you were yesterday, but start being the person you want to be tomorrow. Keep it up, and don’t give up.



It is almost two weeks into the new year and so much has already happened – Will and I have settled into our temporary apartment and bought some winter clothes to match the weather. Will got into a certification program for IO psych and an HR internship (it seriously all happened so fast!) I started my first day back at school at the same time my hours for writing doubled. Wowzaaa!

I’ve never really been into New Year’s resolutions. Actually, I used to really hate resolutions, which started because when I used to go to the gym, January brought in all the resolutioners that crowded the equipment. Then I thought, “Well, people should be trying to improve themselves all year round, instead of just the beginning of the year.” I know, what a snooty and pretentious way of thinking.

It’s true, we should always be trying to improve. It’s important to set goals for ourselves when we need them, not just at the beginning of the year. But I have realized that having a new slate can be really helpful for people to refresh and reset. This year already feels so different from last year, which was only just eleven days ago. I had a really epic year last year, and I already have plans for this year that look nothing like 2017. So it’s kind of scary, but also a little bit exciting.

A few people I know have already posted their goals for this year, and one that I really enjoyed reading was James’ post, where he mentioned SMART goals. I love the idea of creating goals that are more specific and measurable, rather than relative, emotional, and easier to give up on. 2017 was full of accomplishments, including paying off my debt, finding a new job that paid well and allowed me more flexibility with my time, and signing back up for school. I was also able to travel a whole lot, which was awesome, and even though I don’t see myself traveling as much this year, I do want to continue on this “freedom” trajectory!

My 2018 Resolutions

Read 24 books: Not only did I just get a new library card this past week, but Will gave me his old Kindle, which means there is no excuse not to read more books! I also learned about myself that I hate reading computer and phone screens. It hurts my eyes. I used to read so much when I was younger – almost 100 books a year! I hope to change that and start reading more books again.

Read 6 Chinese books: In addition to reading books in English, I have a bunch of books in Chinese that I want to tackle. Even though I can speak Chinese, my reading skills are terrible and definitely something I want to improve.

Keep blogging: This has been kind of difficult with all the road-tripping and getting settled into the new place, but I hope to keep blogging about once a week, both here and BlenderBrain. I actually have a few plans of changing Tinispace around (again…) that I think will make it better fitted for what I’m envisioning.

Make 1 video a month: Blender Brain is a project Will and I have been working on for a few years, although we really started to think more about it towards the second half of last year. We made a couple of videos that have been semi-successful and popular. And even though we don’t post new videos, we keep getting new subscribers to our channel! My mother-in-law’s library actually has a really cool video studio set-up, too! This means there is no excuse for not creating more, and better, video content! It will also be a great skill to hone.

Write 120,000 words: This is 10,000 words a month. I don’t know if I really need 120,000 words, to be honest. Basically, I’m in the middle of writing a book. I hope to have it finished by the end of the year!

Work out 3x a week / be a size 6: Will and I got gym memberships! When I was working out before our wedding, I noticed a lot of positive changes in my breathing and stamina. I want to make sure I’m doing some type of physical activity at least 3 times a week. Eating wise, I do pretty well; I eat lots of veg and don’t snack that much. So it’s important to me to start adding exercise into my routine for ~top notch~ health. Ideally, I want to measure my body fat and reduce my body fat percentage. I just don’t know how to do that right now. So the specifics “measurables” of this goal are subject to change.

Master the Instant Pot: So…I started using the Instant Pot I bought two years ago but never opened. Actually, I started using it last month when Will and I were in a hotel. I felt that we should eat more home-cooked meals instead of restaurants. My first attempt of making simple steamed broccoli turned out terrible. Seriously, a disaster. Second attempt? Also not great. But all the soups and stews have been delicious! My goal is to make 1 Instant Pot recipe a week, which I’ve already been doing so yay!

Spending freeze: I really want to be more conscious of the way I am spending. Before our road trip, I actually minimized my wardrobe to just one suitcase, which felt really amazing. This year, I hope not to spend any money on anything except food and necessities (shampoo, toothpaste, etc.) I am going to allow myself a budget of $150 for yarn, though. Because ya girl needs ta knit!


Goodbye, 2017!

Happy New Year’s Eve! Will and I have been on a road trip from California to Philadelphia this past week. So far, we’ve gotten a flat in Reno, seen mountains in Salt Lake City, ate loose meat sandwiches in Omaha, and hung out with my bff Susan in Chicago! We are currently hanging out with Will’s aunt in Indiana, where it is 1-degree fahrenheit, and we eating food we just made in her new air fryer.

I’m a little bit sad that 2017 is ending – I tied the knot and traveled a lot (yay rhymes); I had a freakin’ epic year. 17 is one of my favorite numbers and I feel like I’m going to remember this past year forever! I think one of the reasons why I’m sad for 2017 is ending is because I’m skeptical 2018 is going to be just as good. Maybe it’s because I know a few things that are up ahead, and it’s just so different from how I started this year, but I am going to stay positive and make the best of 2018!

I’m still contemplating my resolutions and goals for this year, but here is a reflection exercise Susan sent me that I thought was pretty cool. Try it yourself and share your year, too!

The Big Life Events

  • Getting married, woo!
  • Traveling all around Asia for 2.5 months
  • Roadtripping back to Philadelphia

The Highs: What I’m proud of

  • Paying off all my debt – I am now DEBT-FREEEEE!!!!!
  • Job promotion and raises
  • Quitting two jobs that made me feel terrible
  • Starting a new job that gives me location independence
  • Seeing new places and catching up with old friends
  • Seeing one of Blender Brain’s youtube videos reaching 10k views!

The Lows: What didn’t go so well

  • Hitting a curb during our road trip
  • Fighting with my mom

The Wishes: What I wish I did differently

  • I wish I had more confidence in myself in certain situations
  • I wish I had spoken up more when people were being rude or insensitive
  • I wish I had regimented my schedule more so I could’ve accomplished more in my projects

The Worries That Weren’t: What I was worried about that ended up being totally fine

  • Wedding planning
  • Quitting my job
  • Going back to school

Five Coffee Shops in Oakland to Visit

Two and a half years ago, I made the drive from Philadelphia to Oakland. And this upcoming Monday, Will and I are going to making the drive back! Yes, if you haven’t heard already, we are going to move back to Pennsylvania, at least for a few months. Now that we’re leaving, I’ve been discovering a ton of places that I want to explore and eat at. I keep wondering to myself, “HOW have we been here for three years and we never went to THAT place?!” But then I remember – cooking at home saves money, and we actually like to cook! I guess it always happens like that, though. You sort of hate the place you live but then once you’re about to leave, you start meeting new people you could have been friends with and you start finding new favorite restaurants. Womp womp.

One of the things I really loved about being in Oakland is that it actually reminds me a lot of Philadelphia. I find the people in Oakland are more down to earth, and there are pockets of culture all around the city. Many neighborhoods here also remind me of specific neighborhoods of Philly, which is pretty cool. Oakland has a lot to offer, and is a great place to visit or live. There are so many local businesses and definitely many coffee shops in Oakland! I love spending time working in cafe’s, and this year, I’ve learned to enjoy my coffee black, which also means I’ve learned to appreciate the flavors of different types of coffee. There are so many places one could visit, but here are a few of my recommendations for coffee shops in Oakland 🙂

Black Spring Coffee Company

I stumbled across this coffee shop on a walk around the area as I waited for Will to finish a doctor’s appointment. It’s spacious and a great place to come work on your computer, read a book, or meet a friend. If you stay in and get a coffee mug (instead of a to-go cup), you get free self-serve refills! They have two or three canisters that are different types of coffee, so you can try a mug of each flavor if you really wanted to. I’m not a big fan of coffees that are too sour or acidic, and apparently, neither is the store owner, who serves an Indian roasted coffee that is known to be the least acidic. I’ve found the coffees at Black Spring to all be really great! They are also known for their Malabar drink, a shaken drink involving 2 shots of espresso, sugar syrup, and milk. Even though I didn’t get to frequent this shop as often as I’d like, I would consider Black Spring to be one of my favorite coffee spots of all time.  2930 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609 (Pill Hill Neighborhood, near Piedmont Ave) Continue Reading