Simple Self-Care Ideas to Implement Today

It’s time to put yourself first. As a fellow creative (illustrator and professional landscape designer), I grew up with a lot of anxiety. I was also chasing dreams that were not my own and putting my needs last. I finally started confronting my mental health a few years ago and prioritized my time to do the real, deep work in finding myself again and practicing self-care. This has positively changed my life. I’m living so much more fully and happily. I still get anxious, but it’s not crippling anymore and the constant self-doubt and worry is not holding me back from doing things I wanted to do.

I started practicing self-care in baby steps. I needed to do more than just routinely using face masks and keep a good skin care regime – I needed to actually do the deep work. Below are the tiniest steps I took to make it to where I am today:

1.) Meditate for 3 minutes, at least 4 times a week.

I know how woo-woo it sounds and, as a skeptic myself, I didn’t believe sitting still would reap any benefits. But after listening to Tim Ferris saying that at least 80% of successful people meditate over and over again in his podcast, I was convinced to try meditation myself.

I simply started meditating 3 minutes in the morning whenever I can. Then I made a space and time to do it during the work week, which involves sitting in my car and meditating right before I head to the office (if I am not running late). On the weekends, I do it right after I make my bed. I use the Calm app (not sponsored) for it’s simple mobile interface and I also enjoy the positive quote after every meditation session.

From the outside, it looks like meditation does nothing and the person appears to be sleeping. In reality, when you’re the one practicing meditation, you are actually centering yourself, calming your chaotic thoughts, and clearing your mind by taking deep breaths. It can do so much in so little, and it is by far the easiest way to feel more present and at peace with yourself. You will feel more focused and productive after.

Now, the caveat is that meditation only works if you do it consistently and over a sufficient period of time. Everyone has different results, and it took about 8 months for me to finally be able to see and feel the effects of meditation. I still have hard days and go through emotions like a normal human being, but the difference is that I don’t get too overwhelmed or overthink over a prolonged period of time and I am at a healthier state of mind much longer than before. The benefits of meditation has been a game-changer for my life and I believe it can transform your life too.

2.) Take 15 seconds to be brave everyday.

I don’t mean jumping off of a cliff, but scaling it down to something super simple and easy. It can be asking another question besides the typical “How are you?” question whenever you greet someone or have a different response than the normal, “I’m doing well.” Or try having a conversation with a stranger or actually make eye contact with someone when you are talking.

These small moments of bravery can lead to big results. Once you get into the habit of doing things that are uncomfortable and scary, you will do them a lot more. Even if you are afraid of doing it, you will start to gain confidence as you take the initiative to be brave. Part of being brave doesn’t mean you won’t have fear, but you will do it anyway with the fear inside. When you start to do brave things, you will start to do brave things for yourself, such as actually do things you love, learn to say no, and accept the rejection and challenges. You will be brave enough to get back up even when the odds are against you and have the brave mindset to keep moving forward.

3.) The 5 Second Rule

I recently learned about this from another podcast I was listening to. It was created by Mel Robbins, a now successful author and motivational speaker, during a time when she was at her worst, bottom moment of her life – a marriage on the the brink of divorce, a lost job, in debt, and becoming alcoholic. One day, she watched a rocket launch that counted 5-4-3-2-1 and launched live on television. She for some reason decided to apply this one day to help her get out of bed and it worked. So she did this in secret for several years before telling anyone about it. This 5 second rule extended to other moments of her life too.

I’m always interested in learning about simple ideas to practice self-care and time will tell if this 5 second rule will work for me. Still, I wanted to include this idea because it may help you with your own struggles and be something you can apply today or now even. I have heard stories from Mel Robbins about how this 5 second rule prevented someone from committing suicide or helped someone out of life’s most toughest moments. If this is something that can make a difference in someone’s life, then yes I’ll put it here so you know about it too.

These ideas show that self-care doesn’t strictly have to be so serious or hard to implement. It also doesn’t have to be lonely either. Sometimes, it’s even better to do a fun and festive self-care activity in a collaborative environment so it can help spark joy and ideas. A group setting can also help provide clarity in your next steps with many more minds to help you figure out your next thing.

I would like to invite you to a free virtual event that will take place on Sunday December 12th from 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM (US Pacific Time, GMT-7). It’s my new Sparking Joy in Self-Care Virtual Event Series and December month is Cocoa and Coloring! Every event will be themed, feature a Creative, have a self-care activity, and an easy homemade recipe. A creative will be featured in the monthly event, which helps support small business owners and creatives out there. Sign up here if you’re interested in attending!

Sparking Joy in Self-Care Virtual Event Series

The event is featuring a self-care calligraphy artist based in Singapore and we will be using her self-care coloring sheet she made exclusively for this event. You can learn more about her here. See you then and have a jolly day!

Short, Uplifting Quotes That Will Inspire You to Keep Hustling and Feel Less Anxious

Sometimes, it takes reading a simple, positive quote that will make your day feel lighter and inspire you to keep on hustling. If it were not for these daily affirmations, I won’t be the positive, happy person I am today.

I’ve been known to be an optimistic person, but I wasn’t always like this. Before, I was a very anxious person with extremely low confidence. I had many cycles of doubt and uncertainty about myself, my skills, and my work. I was also very negative towards myself and constantly beating myself up about not being good enough and that I should simply to stick to my lane.

A few years ago, I made the change to collect positive quotes for me to read through every morning. This was a gentle reminder to myself to stay optimistic throughout the day, no matter how tough and hard it gets. I am not positive 100% of the time and I do experience other emotions like a normal human being, but I try not to dwell on those emotions too long. I do my best to stay focused and keep moving forward.

Being happy is an investment – to you and for other people. Happy people make more money, live longer, are more successful, have healthier relationships and, most importantly, have a positive influence on the people around them. Happiness is infectious and can create a chain reaction of good energy. The more joy you are able to spread, the more abundance you can create for others. It’s free and you can easily make someone else’s day, especially to a stranger who is going through a difficult time and needed it the most when they least expected it.

Here are my favorite inspirational quotes to help me get through mental roadblocks and empower me to keep moving forward:

If you are looking for more inspiration, take a look at five inspirational podcasts I selected to help kick-start your business and maximize results. As a huge podcast junkie, I have listened to many hours (65,000 minutes last year!) to figure out what the best, inspirational podcasts that will strategically help you move forward with your business.

Life is too short to not make the investment in yourself today. I want you to reminisce (not regret) about the things you DID to make your dream life possible.

Me & My Wellness Journey…So Far

I may look put together in the photo, but in the 24 hours before this was taken, I was in a completely chaotic state.

I had to prepare and co-host a public community meeting the evening before and for the most part it went okay with a few of my mistakes. I was also in a rush to finish packing for a family trip to go on the next morning. I am the type to start packing early, but I still tend to pack extra clothes and essentials at the very last minute.

I try to be as prepared as I can, but I do have moments where things go wrong, which is part of life – nobody is immune to this. The good news is that after being in a state of panic, I have learned to not overthink too much and calm myself down during stressful situations. It’s been a life-changing journey to acknowledge and deal with my crippling anxiety and I am still learning and building better habits every day.

To commemorate my one year into my wellness journey, I wanted to share this is who I am and that I am an actual human being behind this blog. I still struggle too and, while I am not always smiling like this, I’ve never felt better and more alive. Feeling free of my mind has allowed me to be more myself. I don’t worry as much about whether I said the wrong thing, or if I’m too this or that, or if my work isn’t enough. I simply focus on doing the thing and improve from there. This has also really helped build my courage and confidence, which are great perks for an introverted, shy person like me.

I actually really dislike showing my bare arms to the world – it’s the body part I am most self-conscious about and I would most likely be reeling about it after I post this. But I want to let go of this fear and for others to have courage to do the same. By this I mean slowly starting to take risks and building the confidence to be more comfortable with and about yourself. You are an amazing person, but maybe you don’t know it yet.

A good tool is to actively ask yourself, are you revealing or concealing yourself? It’s okay to be a lurker (I very much am on Reddit), but it’s also okay to step out and show yourself too. The more you do it, the more others will too.
Also, just because you take a lazy day, it doesn’t mean you are lazy. It just means you are human and need to take a break too. It took me some time to figure this out, and I hope this helps you too.

This post is more of an introduction of the blogger behind the blog. I will be sharing more upcoming topics soon. Have a wonderful Wednesday and good luck!

Live Lightly to Live Fully

I have felt the heaviness too. The pressure to meet my Asian parents’ escalating expectations, the societal weight to be a strong yet never an inconvenient female, and the mental load to be normal and sane throughout it all and everything in between.


It’s lot to carry, I know. But for a long time, I kept carrying this weight. I didn’t actually realize how much of this weight was holding me back from being myself. And gradually, the weight was getting heavier to hold and after years of accumulated weight, I couldn’t hold it anymore.


At first, I was scared my biggest fears and worries would all come to fruition when I started to let go, but they never happened. When they didn’t, I simply stopped trying to live up to what my parent’s and society wanted and started to live life for myself. As I slowly started to mentally take the weight off, I instantly felt lighter and feeling the mental “weight” off my shoulders. I felt the freedom to do whatever I wanted. After 30 years, I finally felt the permission to be myself and live life on my terms. 


What I have learned is that a lot of this weight was mostly in my head. Sure, my parents would constantly remind me to get good grades and succeed, but they would still love me even if I messed up. Maybe part of it was also the constant drilling (and even borderline brainwashing) from school learning and society’s image on what it means to be a female, but I have chosen to un-learn this and, instead, learn to be more outspoken, to take up space, and to be brave about being unapologetically myself.


This is what I think it means to live fully: to be able to live truthfully and authentically as your truest self. I believe you can do the same by living lightly and slowly taking the mental load off of your mind. It’s okay to have a bit of pressure, as long as it comes from you and nobody else. Have the courage and willpower to live on your own terms, so you can achieve more, do better, and dream bigger. 


I wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t. I would have been stuck at a dead-end job with a toxic manager, my crippling anxiety would take a greater control over my life, and I would continue to live life on other people’s terms. I wouldn’t have started sharing about my journey on this blog or created art for healing and positivity.  


So I encourage you to live, like really live. You can start by taking the mental weight and pressures off in your mind. In reality, nobody is really pushing you to do something. There’s always going to be external voices and opinions, but you should quiet those down and listen to your own internal voice instead. Your internal voice is the one that matters anyway. And I totally get that your inside voice may consist of self-doubt and worries, but I believe that just being aware of those feelings can really help you start the process of building confidence and uncovering who you are truly meant to be.


Living lightly has given me the opportunity to live fully. I am in a much better headspace than ever before and I live life everyday doing things I love. Even when things go wrong during the day, I don’t sulk too long and I do my best to move forward, as this is all part of the human experience anyway. 


There is no real need to carry all this heavy weight anymore. Slowly let it go and you’ll find yourself so much lighter and feel so much fuller than ever before. Good luck!

Think Big With a Happy Mind

Wynwood Wall in Miami, Florida

My design professor one day showed students his fantasy master plan amusement park design if it were ever to be built. He designed this amusement park so it would be bolder and cooler than Disneyland and thought of the rides, attractions, and themes for each. It was a hand-drawn, complete set of construction drawings and plans where he figured out every little detail. At the the time, I naively thought it was silly of him to waste so much time and energy to do all this work for a park that would probably never come to life. Why would a 50 year old guy spend so much work on this crazy pipe dream? 

Maybe I was a little jealous that he was able to do this in the first place. But truthfully, it was because I was used to thinking small. I never did anything that bold, that different, or that big. On top of teaching and having a professional job, this professor did something for himself and was happy to work on his dream side project, regardless of what his 19-year-old students or anyone thought about it. He didn’t need anyone’s permission to go do the thing he wanted to do and just kept pursuing his dream anyway.

I never found out if his amusement park ever got built, but I do know this: if there’s anything I learned from his class, it is to not be afraid to think big. This professor wasn’t even a well-known landscape architect and his expertise was grading engineering, not amusement park design. But he followed his dream that made him happy and whether it comes true or not, all that effort was still worth it to him.

I used to do the right, “small” things that got me somewhere in life, but not where I wanted to be. I did things within my comfort zone and never thought that I was capable of doing more. I felt unfulfilled and unhappy. Though, as I looked deeper into myself and rediscovering who I was and wanted to be, I realized being comfortable and doing possible things wasn’t enough for me. My newfound mental clarity and calmness helped me figure out what made me happy and redefined my purpose. My purpose wasn’t to go to college, get married, and have a 9-to-5 job. I found out my true purpose was to use my creative work to help others heal and rediscover themselves so they can live a fulfilling life. This is what I was meant to do be doing and even if I don’t make a huge profit or reach millions of people, at least I did something that made me smile every day. 

We can pursue big things simply because they make us happy, feel alive, and be ourselves. Doing big things give us a bigger purpose and adds a lot more meaning to our work. It’s okay to do small things, but I encourage you to try to think and do bigger with a happy mindset. This professor didn’t let his academic or professional role define who he was; he defined himself by thinking and doing big in his own time.

When you build something on your own, you are building yourself too. So the more you do this, the more courage you have to do big things. It’s not to say that you won’t still be absolutely terrified every time you put yourself out there; I get the jitters too, every single time. But I keep doing it because I have a little bit more courage each time.
So, don’t be afraid to go wild with your ideas and don’t forget to have fun while you’re at it. That’s what life’s all about: positively disrupt the world and dare greatly!

The Side Effects of Vulnerability

Be honest, when was the last time you had a real, deep conversation with someone about what’s really going on with your life?

On a regular basis, we prefer to talk about positive things in our life with our loved ones instead of the actual issues going on with our lives. We are also afraid to talk about taboo topics such as divorce, depression, and mental illness because it would not only make us lose cultural face, but it would also make us become losers in life. It’s even scarier to have this talk with ourselves, so we keep turning our heads the other way and just live life without ever living fully. 

You would think being vulnerable in front of others would make you look weak, annoying, or trying to seek attention. But it’s mind-blowing to see what happens when you open up. Becoming vulnerable and sharing my vulnerable experiences online with others did not result in negative reactions or social exclusion that I have so feared. Instead, the complete opposite happened. Strangers would relate to my experiences and comment on my posts about how overwhelmed, stressed or anxious they were feeling too. As I shared more of my mental wellness journey, my own friends began to open up and talk about their own mental health issues with me. These were friends who I knew a long time and I never knew about their mental health struggles until now. 

Being comfortable about sharing your own struggles and vulnerability helps other people to be more comfortable to do the same. They relate to you more and your relationships with them also become deeper and at a level you probably have never thought it could reach. You would also be surprised about what they are going through, even if everything looks picture perfect on the outside.

Now that I have shared, I can’t seem to stop talking about it! It’s freeing to let go and to be a small part of a cycle that positively changes how mental health has been traditionally viewed. As you share your vulnerability more often, you also gain confidence and courage to do other things, be authentically yourself, and live a fuller life. Eventually you can find joy in doing this work, as I have by creating cute positive affirmations on a regular basis.

Good luck on whatever journey you are on and I hope you continue to build courage. As Brené Brown always says, “Stay awkward, brave, and kind.”

Happy Ending: Finding Yourself and Crafting Your Dream Life

From the outside, it seemed like I was living the dream life. I got a graduate degree, I had a decent paying job, and I was part of many social circles. Based on society’s and my Asian parents’ standards, I did everything right by achieving academic, professional, and personal success throughout my 20s. I followed a path like many others had done before me and I thought this was the ideal life I was meant to be living. At the time, I assumed my personal well-being didn’t matter, even as my anxiety levels and my mental state were getting progressively worse, since in the external world, everything else was going fine.   

As I was achieving success, I was going so fast and nowhere at the same time. I felt empty, unhappy, and unfulfilled. The two years of graduate school in another state put a strain on my long-term relationship. I loathed the job I was in after graduate school and I became incredibly anxious and depressed working with a toxic manager. I went to every social gathering to show my support to my loved ones and friends, but I wasn’t really present when I was physically there.

For so long I assumed my happiness would positively correlate with all the things I have done right in life by being a good daughter, a good student, a good employee, and a good partner. I just accepted things as it came to me and obediently stuck to my lane. I never did anything to step on anyone’s toes or out of my comfort zone. But I was nowhere near happiness and I was getting further away from being my authentic self. I was slowly disappearing and I couldn’t admit this to myself because I was too scared to face my own troubled mental state. I used other things like work, social gatherings, and other “busy” distractions to keep me from ever confronting my mental health. I thought my worries, anxieties, and fears would just eventually go away if I kept going with the flow of life. This was the ideal life anyway, so this would work itself out right? 

It didn’t. The cracks of this seemingly ideal life started to crumble into noticeable pieces. I was in a terrible mood a lot of the time, I was in a constant state of worry, and I was exhausted from meeting everyone’s expectations. My relationships soured, my work suffered, and my mental health declined. I was losing myself and I didn’t know what to do. 

In 2019, I didn’t have a breakdown, but I had a breakthrough. For the first time in my life, I made the decision to start doing things for myself, not just to please my parents or to impress an employer. I started to work on projects I liked and enjoyed. I went on trips for myself, not for social obligations. I was rediscovering who I was and finding out who I really wanted to be. For once in my life, I was finally taking ownership of my life. I left the toxic workplace for a new one with a position I wanted and a salary I negotiated for. I improved my communication skills with my partner and fostered stronger relationships with friends. I even started a side business of designing and selling cute greeting cards. I was making things happen my way and was finally becoming myself again.

As I gained confidence to do the things I loved, I gained the courage to confront my mental health and took action to do something about it. I started meditating, slowing down, stretching, and experimenting with all sorts of mindfulness activities. I read books and listened to many hours of podcasts related to self-help topics. After putting in “self-work” consistently, the results were magical. The newfound clarity and sense of calmness was incredibly freeing. For a person who had experienced a lifelong crippling anxiety, this felt like a dream. And this new dream became my new reality. 

I am starting to live my dream life now. I am learning to be my authentic self and I am so much happier than ever before. I live fully with less anxiety and do things I love without anyone else’s permission. As I gain more courage, I am able to take risks and try new things, like taking a real hard look at my finances and my unhealthy lifestyle, and making changes that I have avoided for so long. Interestingly, the more I give back to myself, the more I am able to give back to the world at a much greater capacity than ever before. I am continuously using my creativity and art to help others heal and began their journey of self-discovery, while staying true to myself and my values.  

I am sharing my story so one day you can find yourself and live your dream life too. You have the right to live happily and make your dreams happen, no matter what age you are. Be willing to let go, take up space, and live authentically. It does take real work, time, and consistency, but I guarantee that it is incredibly rewarding, feeling this other way. This may make other people uncomfortable at first, but realize you need to put your own life above others’ expectations. By the end of it all, you have lived your life, not someone else.  

A happy mind is a happy life. You deserve to be happy and live your dream life, so go make it a happy ending.

(And here’s a free mood tracker I made to start. Good luck!)

Have an Ox-cellent Lunar New Year 2021!

When asked in an interview of how she felt when she lost the 1998 Olympics Gold medal, Michelle Kwan said, “I still won the Silver.”

You can still win, even in the most unlikely of circumstances. In 2007, my team and I competed in a college-wide dragonboat championship and our team didn’t even make it to the final top three. But I still won a first place medal that day with half the team that wasn’t our own.

Here’s my story: I was a freshmen in college and this was my first ever college dragonboat championship. There was a women’s division round and my team actually didn’t have enough women to participate. Our team, made up half men and half women, just had barely enough people to make a full boat. Interestingly, another college team also didn’t have enough women to participate either and were in the same boat as us too (pun intended). It was suggested that we pair up – half of the women from our team and half of the women from the other – to compete in the women’s round.

It was a crazy idea to be in the same boat with women we barely knew and most likely trained with different paddling styles. The odds were against us too, since we were going against teams with women who trained with each other for months and probably even years. But we decided to go for it anyway. Once the race started, I gave it a 120% and just kept paddling forward, no matter how wet or cold I got in the wintery day. I remember I instinctively didn’t want to let this group of women down, even though half of them were strangers. So in the midst of the loud cheering, screaming, and shouting during the whole race, I kept charging forward. And we won.

You can think that we were unlucky to compete with women we barely knew. Or you can think we were the luckiest group of women to be on the same team together and win first place that day. So, when you see the glass half full or half empty, it’s up to you. I believe you can have an ox-cellent year if you open your perspective and figure out how to keep going.

You still gained something in the end, like work experience, new colleagues, and maybe finally figured out how to use the office printer properly. Or you realized you had a terrible boss, a shitty job, and didn’t even like the work to begin with. Losing a job or a chunk of your salary doesn’t mean you lose everything. It may feel like it initially, but remember that you still have control over your life. You can figure it out and eventually things work out. Everything is figureoutable.

I hope you carry this mindset with you in 2021. Have the willpower to move forward, do bigger and be better. You can still win and the year is just beginning, so get MOO-ving!

My 1st place medal that was achieved in the most unlikely of circumstances

A Small Act of Kindness Goes a Big Way

thank you signage
Photo by Giftpundits.com on Pexels.com

The Bay Area has been hit hard lately. The COVID-19 pandemic, along with the on and off county restrictions, has already devastated our economy, our social life, and our mental health. We still have ongoing earthquakes and power outages too. And the sweet cherry on top of all this, is the 400-plus wildfires blazing through the precious natural areas of the Golden State. Yes, it has been a very difficult time for Californians in 2020 and none of really know when we can get back to normal again

Even in the midst of all this, I have encountered a small act of kindness that I am so happy to have experienced a few days ago. I currently live in a home located in an active evacuation warning zone for the 2nd largest wildfire in the state. Fortunately, I have extended family and good friends who have generously offered their own home in case my family and I needed a temporary place to stay. What I did not expect was the same offer from an owner of a local shipping and mailing store in my city, who I have only met recently and twice to date.

For the past few weeks, I have been using this local mailing service, as opposed to USPS or FedEx due to terrible Google reviews, to mail out free greeting cards to my local community. When I first met her, we instantly clicked and shared our admiration of plants and details about our careers. She found out I was a full-time landscape designer with a new greeting card side business. She was genuinely interested in getting to know about my side business and also getting landscape consultation advice for her back yard. I told her I was happy to help give her advice, pro bono.

A few days ago, she sent me a text of her back yard and photo examples of what she wanted. I told her I will come up a few ideas for her, but not right away because my family and I are currently located in an evacuation warning area and we could evacuate at any time. She responded to not worry about her yard and that if I needed a place to stay, I would be welcomed in her home and use an extra futon at her place.

I was kind of blown away from this generosity, from a woman who I barely know and just met only two times in the past few weeks. Maybe she did this out of a niceness, or the fact that we are both Asian American women, or a bit of both. Whatever the reason is, I am so glad to have experienced such a kind gesture from someone like her. It re-instills my faith in humanity that there are good people in my local community, no matter what’s going on in the outside world. Even with all the terrible things going on in my state, our nation, and the world, there are still good people out there willing to do good things for people.

Just a small act of kindness can be huge for others. I know that the times we live in aren’t great and we often hear about the bad news more than the good ones. When I ended up receiving more gratitude than I was giving away, it made me feel emotions of excitement, fulfillment, and joy all around. So, I hope this story inspires you to do something good for another stranger and it doesn’t have to be of any monetary value. Practicing just a tiniest inch of gratitude can go a long way. And, you might receive something back when you least expect it.