Category Archives: Thoughts


Wow – so it’s been over a year since I wrote in here. I have a lot to say, but I was pregnant, started a new job, had the baby, and then somehow am now surviving life in Shelter-in-Place.

People staying at home suddenly find that there is an abundance in time on their hands. The thing about humans is that we always find some way to fill up free time. There is always an unending list of things to do, things to accomplish, etc. etc. Even with the advent of technology that is meant to speed up how things are done, we still manage to fill in the spaces.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about how to prioritize my time. I already do it for some instances. Like, I know I am super behind on what is cool on television (something about a Tiger King? a documentary of Jared Kushner?) But I’m okay with that. I don’t watch a lot of tv and it’s not my favorite way to spend leisure time. I don’t mind that I don’t know what people are talking about or that I don’t understand the latest memes around it.

So what is important to me? I enjoy journaling. I downloaded an app called “Day One” and have started journaling to my baby. I used to journal a lot but my childhood through college age journals mysteriously disappeared after my ex and I broke up. A part of me is sad those journals are gone, but I’ve managed to start many instances of journals over the years. I hope Day One sticks.

What else do I enjoy? I used to exercise in every latest form possible – yoga, Barry’s, megaformer, rock climbing, whatever. Given the time constraints due to baby and nursing, I realized I like yoga and climbing the most. Given the constraints with the coronavirus, I can only really do yoga at home.

I think a part of this is just learning that you can’t keep up with the tide of everything. You pick what you want to spend your time on, and then you enjoy it for it is. Everyone is different – energy wise as well as priorities. My husband has unbounded energy, can watch documentaries until his eyes bleed and can run around doing whatever he wants forever. But that’s his choice and he finds it sustainable, so kudos to him.

I used to think that maybe I wanted to open a yoga studio, or build an online presence or be x or y or z. I’ve come to realize that what makes me happiest is cutting down on what I want, doing well on what I can and to stop chasing things just to make everyone else think I’m relevant.

Which brings me to my closing questions for you: What do you really value with your time? What is it that you want from your life? When you lie on your death bed, was it all worth it?

[Photo: Me and my latest #1 priority in South Lake Tahoe at Van Sickle National Park.]

Antartica: No Internet, No Problem.

I recently was fortunate to take a journey to the end of the world, literally. I took a boat to Antartica, our southern continent. This blog post isn’t about the amazing things I saw (although, quick shout outs to the thousands of penguins I saw, and dozens of Orca and Humpback whales.) This is about the opportunity I had to truly disconnect.

There was actually internet on the boat – at the cost of about $100 for 100MB or something ridiculous like that. I wasn’t sure how I would be without the internet, but it turns out that no Internet is  livable (versus slow Internet, which is just a tease… like “Hey! I’m sorta loading this page. But not. Internet time out. Just kidding! Loading again!”)

I feel like people always tell you to disconnect so that you can connect with people face to face. I still chose to sit in my cabin and read a lot of books. I spent plenty of time walking around on the deck, getting fresh air and checking on the birds following our expedition boat. I joined the daily lectures (when I wasn’t battling dizziness due to sea sickness) on seals, whales and penguins and sat amongst the other passengers. But, during my time on the ship, I completed 5 books on my list. I wrote daily in my journal and just contemplated on all the amazing things I see.

The thing about constantly being connected to the world is that I always felt like I was missing out on something – another country to visit, another thing I wasn’t doing or excelling in. Instagram was filled with images of beautiful people doing Cirque du Soleil level yoga poses, people traipsing around the globe every weekend without being tied to their heavy mortgages, luxury jobs, luxury planes, luxury lives.

To be fair, this isn’t the fault of social media completely. Part of it is due to my own personal will and the constant need to push myself. I’ve met many people who are type A and are completely functional. As a reformed type A person, a part of me still feels the need to strive for more. But a part of me needs to realize that comparing myself will never make me happy. A part of me needs to just enjoy the things that I have. There is nothing wrong with self improvement. Nothing wrong with looking to others for inspiration. Nothing wrong with having goals in life. But when it comes with a caveat that I will not be happy until I am there, then I will forever remain unhappy. This is a constant struggle for me and I just need to remind myself that I am where I need to be.

[Photo credit: Minty, a Singaporean friend we made on the expedition ship. Standing at the top of a hill after a 30 minute hike up Neko Harbour, Antarctica.)

Engaged in Distraction

I’ve been trying to write this blog post for over a year now. I have jotted down half thought out ideas but never really sat down to ruminate over them.

Why has it taken me so long to get here?

I am of a generation with little to no attention spans. A generation constantly addicted to the rush of dopamine from every ping and vibration of our cell phones. Sitting down and writing something remotely meaningful requires the arduous task of focus. It requires dedicating myself to a set block of time to translate the garbage in my head into a coherent strings of words. It requires time to format, find photos, research relevant items, etc.

Who has time for that anymore? Who has time to sit down and read a novel? To have deep meaningful conversations with friends? To spend time doing nothing?

People wonder why I “exercise” as much as I do. In all honesty, I probably spend about 1 hour a day doing something. One hour where I leave my cell phone out of sight because it serves no purpose for me in that moment. It is probably the one hour of my day where I am forced to stew with my thoughts or the (weakness/strength) of my body – to focus on how much my core is shaking in megaformer, to focus on my alignment in yoga, and to focus on plummeting to my death in rock climbing.

I’m not even good at paying attention even then – my mind wanders, I have injured myself plenty, and I have fallen many times.

The secret is this: the moment you notice that you are no longer present is the moment that you become present.

Now that you know this, how present will you be?

(Inspired by this article by Mark Manson.)

Photo credit: Fernando took a photo of me taking a photo in Lapa, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil circa 2014. I had no cell service in Brazil (except for emergency purposes) so we were forced to plan how to get around, and then wing how to survive since we had no idea where we were going or what we were doing. Lack of cell phones meant we were forced to engage in marital small talk and live in the moment.


Try, Try Again.

So I’ve fallen off the wagon in the last few months. While traipsing around the world (some for leisure, but some for work) sounds like magical fun, it comes with a lot of side effects. My sleep was disrupted in so many ways, I ate lots of unhealthy things to survive long meetings, and I pretty much reduced my exercise down to nothing.

And it shows.

I don’t meant to say that I got fat (because I didn’t.) But I got cranky, I got moody, I got sullen. The protective barrier that I put around myself after many years of yoga was taken down due to bad lifestyle choices. Most of the mental deterrents were no longer there and I found myself consumed by anxiety.

I started this new year stressed, unhappy and tired. [Someone once told me how you start your new year is pretty much going to set the tone for the rest of the year. Thankfully, I’m Chinese and I still have lunar new years to give it another shot.]

But I know that I am lucky in other ways. I am not complaining about the opportunities that I had during those last 4 months – I did get to see and do a lot of amazing things. I am lucky because I know that I can get back to the way things were. Exercising comes naturally to me. (I know, I know, I’m weird.) I’ve spent my entire life doing some sort of physical movement (mostly dancing and hiking) so it’s never been off for me to do something every day. I know that I have to start somewhere.

The first day back to yoga and I definitely could not stretch as far as I used to. First day back in megaformer and I felt weak. First day back at rock climbing and I was back at 5.9s. But I know what I am fully capable of. In a few months time (or even sooner) I can get back to where I was before. I know I’m lucky because my body will remember.

For those that are starting off, you have to start somewhere. I know some people who started exercising from ground zero, and now (a few years later) it’s so ingrained in who they are that they are (healthily) addicted to some physical movement. It’s a discipline that you build into your body and becomes a habit. Somewhat like brushing your teeth. Sometimes you really want it (especially when your teeth feel grimy or fuzzy). Sometimes it’s just routine. Sometimes you take it for granted… until you spend 1 week in the desert with no running water and can’t brush your teeth.

[Photo credit: Me! This was our second time riding a camel through the Sahara Desert. The first time was in Egypt near the pyramids. This time it was an hour long ride. Things are always different the second time – you’re a little more comfortable and you know what to expect.]

New Year’s Resolution: Cutting Back

At my last job, during one of my performance reviews, my manager said that I needed to learn to push back against people who ask me to do too much. He says I have a habit of trying to take on more than I should. I never thought that it was a bad thing to want to do more, but I’ve come to realize that it’s a fast track to burn out.

I have spent the 2014 saying “yes” to more (yoga) sub requests and social engagements than I probably should have. I was perpetually glued to my phone and overstimulated by social feeds, news and emails. Towards the end, I started to cringe at the thought doing things that I used to look forward to – just doing yoga, rock climbing with friends, talking with students/friends/people.

At the end of the 2014, I took a trip to South America – land of beautiful landscapes and crap Internet. With the lack of Internet, TV and many modern conveniences, I was forced to unplug and just enjoy being. Enjoy being in nature, biking in the moment, laughing at jokes and suffering through some uncomfortable situations (yes, even those are enjoyable.)

I’ve noticed since I’ve been back I have a lot more enthusiasm to do the things I was once dreading. I’m happy to talk to people again and be social.

In lieu of waiting for my future meltdown (insert references to many celebrity meltdowns), I’m going to spend the next year saying “no” a little more liberally.

What do you plan for the new year?

Photo: Playing with perception on the Uyuni Salt Flats in Bolivia. Quite literally blowing things off. Seemed suitable.

Happy Anniversary

Dear Self-From-Five-Years-Ago,

Relationships are hard and require a lot of commitment and dedication. Some times you get frustrated as hell and want to quit. Other days things seem to click. So goes the natural fluctuations in life. Be mindful of your actions and reactions, since you have control of these.

A truly healthy relationship allows both parties to become better. Keep an open mind.

Tell them you love them every day.


Photo was taken in Egypt the week that Morsi’s government was overthrown. We were sitting in the Port of Aqaba in Jordan [Y’all should watch “Lawrence of Arabia” if you have not] waiting for our ferry. The ferry was delayed since the political situation in Egypt was tense and our departure was contingent on whether Morsi would step down or not. I won’t go into the political details about this since I’m not knowledgeable enough to talk about it.

While in Egypt, we were given the opportunity to ride camels. I originally said no since they smelled and it cost $10… and I was being cheap. But after seeing him mount a camel, I decided why not? I mean, how often can most people get the opportunity to ride a camel in front of the Great Pyramids? If it were not for his enthusiasm to do EVERYTHING (literally, everything), I wouldn’t have these photos. At the same time, he never would have thought to visit this place if I didn’t throw a dart at a map. (He had his eye on more popular tourist destinations in Europe.)

While we have drastically different travel styles, I think we decided that I was the limiting reagent when it comes to energy. It used to frustrate him that I would get tired all the time and it would frustrate me that he wanted to keep going out until the sun came out. He learned to accept my limits. [I tried to go out at night but after some time, I become a sleep-deprived monster. It’s not pretty.]

Compromises are hard. Rarely is it 50/50. More like 60/40 or 70/30. Once you agree to the terms, agree to them without regret.

What Is/Is Not Yoga?

Every time something comes along, backlash isn’t too far behind.

Yoga is/isn’t a community practice, but a solitary one. Yoga is/isn’t a solitary practice, but a community practice. It isn’t physical asana, it’s all mental. It’s some physical incorporated as mental. Include quote from Rumi, a passage from a book, pop music/no music. Fun, extroverted teacher or quiet, contemplative teacher. Yoga is/isn’t hot women doing yoga half naked posting themselves on Instagram. Ashtanga is the original. Iyengar is the original. Bikram? Vinyasa? Power? “Hatha”?

So much judging happens when you say you practice yoga. Depending on where you go, what style and who you practice under, others seem to judge the authenticity of your yoga or the hipness of your practice.

The greatest aspect of yoga is it’s reach and it’s ability to tailor itself to each individual. If you crave the singalong, heart-pumping community feel, try for a Bhakti class. Want to quiet the mind and stretch the body? Try for Yin or Restorative. Yoga for bonding with your partner/baby/toddler? Done. Solely here for silent contemplation? Meditate. Is what you are doing yoga? It is, if you want it to be.

Photo Credit to my husband, Fernando Cheng. Taken in Bangkok, Thailand from one of many many many temples we visited.

Overtraining + Learning to Relax

I’m not sure exactly when I realized I was overtraining – it does manifest itself differently for different people.

It could have been when my muscles continued to feel sore days on end no matter how much time I took off.
It could have been the weight gain (ok, ok, it wasn’t a ton of weight, but it was definitely the heaviest I have ever been) and the increase in body fat (mostly belly fat.)
It could have been the constant feeling of being unbearably cold at work (admittedly, it is super cold in general at work, but it felt arctic.)

In some ways, even though I knew that I was overtraining, I couldn’t stop pushing myself, lest I become weaker. In some ways, maybe I was addicted to the constant high intensity aspect of my regimen. I wasn’t listening to my body [the complete anti-thesis of what yogis preach.] I did try to cut back, but after a day or two of rest, I was antsy to get back to the yoga studio or the climbing gym.

Relaxing halfway up our hike to Sugarloaf. I guess it was a fairly brutal hike, but we rested lots and I had a lot of fun...
Relaxing halfway up our hike to Sugarloaf. I guess it was a fairly brutal hike, but we rested lots and I had a lot of fun. Stayed active without stressing out my heart and spiking those cortisol levels.

During my last vacation, I was limited to 2 whole yoga classes over a course of 2 weeks and lots of walking and hiking. The minimal high-intensity and large quantity of low-impact exercise reset my system. Coming back from my trip, I noticed that I was no longer freezing at work. I had managed to shed the excess weight that had crept on the previous year. I came back to my physical practice stronger.

Now my exercise routine is a lot less intense than it used to be. I used to teach yoga, take power yoga and then go rock-climbing all in one day. I beat my body with intense forms of yoga 5-6 times, climbed 3+ times and did whatever I could to just keep moving. I’ve cut everything in half and just try to get some simple low impact exercise (walking around a lot more) and it works perfectly for me.

Of course, this will vary from person to person. I have a co-worker who can run marathons without training and be 100% okay. Good for him. I would probably die (possibly, literally.)

This was all a recent occurrence/discovery (~2 months ago) so we’ll see how this sticks. If you don’t see me around the yoga studio, I may just be taking a simple walk around the neighborhood or just playing around with some simple yoga at home. I do encourage daily movement, but it doesn’t always have to push you past your boundaries every day. [I am chuckling now because if you had asked me 3 years ago, I would vouched for daily butt-whooping.] Learn to take care of yourself. For some, it means more exercise. For others (like me), I need to learn to relax.

Not One Of Those Days

In December, somewhere off the shore of Ao Nang, Krabi, Thailand, I was paddling my heart out due to the choppy waters while my husband lounged in the back taking photos.  [He survived.] We had to keep paddling otherwise the current would push us further and further away from shore. At some point, I was fairly certain I was getting sun burn and heat exhaustion, but I kept going.

Thailand BeachAfter what felt like an eternity of paddling and paddling, we rounded the final corner and reached the beach. Fresh fruit and shade awaited us. Powering through some rough waters was ultimately rewarding. Not trying would have resulted in us floating out to see and ending up on primetime news.

Unlike yesterday where the stars were aligned or something other utter pish posh, today was like a constant harry of items large (meetings, deadlines, trying to plan for my co-teaching class) and small (dropping off a DVR at UPS, running to the post office), and social events (rock climbing dates). There are a lot of obligations in life that you have to push yourself through because it’s just a part of life. I don’t mean this in a surrendering sort of way, but in a grit-your-teeth raging (in a good way) through the tough moments sort of way.

Of course, not everything in life comes with rewards. Sometimes you just have to work through it just for the sake of working through it. It’s up to you to decide how you want to see the difficult moments. Do you want to face them knowing you tried your best or face them frazzled and overwhelmed?

[Photo credit to my husband, Fernando Cheng. ]

One of those days…

Today was just one of those days when all of my favorite songs came on the radio. It’s not like this every day, but when it comes, I dance along (or sing. I can’t sing so I prefer to dance… Also, I guess it’s hard to dance in the car… You get the point I’m trying to make right?)