WL Reflections: May and June 2018

How much can you change in a year? It’s been more than a year after my reflection in May 2017. I have my journal and blog to thank for keeping track of my reflections and goals of in the past, present and future.

As with a lot of things in life, less is more. Here are some things I did the past couple of months!

Highlights:

I moved to Atlanta!

Since last May’s reflections, I have moved out of NYC and onto Atlanta. I have also taken a lot of time to travel and worked remotely in between. I spent 3 months in Vietnam in 2018, and recovered a little bit at home before launching my new adventures in Atlanta.

So I feel like my life is a bit of a mess right now, but at least it’s my mess. I’m doing the things I like to do, and following my guts to get me there. So far, so good. Except for initial panic of being alone.

For the first time in a long time, I was by myself. 

Having no pre-aquainted friends or family in the city, the strange new city was intimidating to me. I was afraid of the crazy traffic, and the notoriously highway I-85 with a horrible accident rate of at least 1x/day. The summer heat of high 90 degrees also didn’t help. I wanted to give up and run away, back to the safe haven of my small mountain town.

Thankfully, with plenty of encouragement from loved ones, I calmed down. I spent the 1 month rent money; if worse comes to worse, I will just pack up my car and drive home. I stayed.

Things I learned in my solitude:

The importance of making connections

I was elated to find out that my classmate, from studying abroad in Singapore, happens to live 20 minutes away from my apartment. I also have relatives going back generations, also living 20 minutes from me. Great news! They want me to move in with them until I can find a job that can support me!

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A time to self-reflect

Being alone allows time to reflect on the things I want to do and my goals in life. I started pursuing my hobbies again- something I haven’t done since HIGH SCHOOL. There’s a good 8 years washing along the waves of life. These days, I have been spending a lot time reading, writing, up-keeping photography, listening/playing music, and exploring the city.

greenisthenewblackOn a Hedonic Treadmill

At this point in life, I’m finding many things I do or want to do quite confusing. Chasing after things will get boring after awhile, as happiness comes down to equilibrium. It’s not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness. I’m struggling with what I want to do.

A Proud Sister and Daughter!

While I enjoy living on my own, I also learned to appreciate my time with family a lot more. I particularly appreciate my parents for their support.

My 12 year old sister and 10 year old brother are animators on Youtube now! I’m so, so proud of them!

Please check it out and I would love to know what you think!

Winthanh, my 12-year-old sister is borderline obsessive with her artwork. Her DeviantArt contains amazing digital art, so proud of how far she’s come!

10-year-old brother takes after his artistic sister, creating his own style of animation. I don’t get the music they’re into these days, but the talent is real!

My parents are taking more time to relax and travel, which I’m very proud for. They have been working too hard in life, and it’s time they let loose a bit and relax.

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Trying New Things

  • Volunteered at a refugee assistance program, something that I’ve wanted to do since coming to the United States.
  • Made artichoke for the first time. It’s so delicious, my favorite method is roasting them! This is the recipe I used for roasting.
  • Gardened for the first time, which is a big deal, because I have a deep-rooted fear of earthworms. I’m now thinking of starting my own hot compost pile!
  • I now have a fitness tracker! At first, I resisted, for fear of becoming too reliant on having fancy technology attached to me at all times. After 2 months of use, I disabled most of my notifications, and now loving the sleep tracking, step tracking, calling/messaging, and waterproof feature!
  • Audiobook of the MonthDante and Aristotle Discover the Secrets of the Universe is an amazing audiobook read by Lin Manuel Miranda, and talks about philosophies of life in the eyes of a teenager.

Inspirational Thoughts:

Studies show people who their deathbeds’ 5 top regrets in life

  1. I wish I’d the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life that others expect of me. 
  2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
  3. I wish I had the courage to express my feelings. 
  4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends. 
  5. I wish I let myself be happier. 

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Habits Retained:

  • Writing my thanks every night.
  • Writing my goals every morning.
  • Reading every day (books, audiobooks, Quora).

Some useful resources:

  • Blinkist (read/listen) – a great site/app for book summaries
  • Quora– general curiosity
  • Medium– my new Quora, coming up with thoughtful articles on life, personal development

Best Quote;

By fighting you never get enough, but by yielding you get more than you expected. – from this amazing book by Dale Carnegie

Thoughtful question for YOU:

What do you want to be remembered for in your Eulogy?


Recent Blog Posts:


Next month’s goals:

  • Find work that I’m passionate about
  • Write 2 blog posts/week
  • Work on 2 more chapters of my book
  • Passive Income Projects

 

Last Post: Travel Blogging Challenge Highlights and What I’ve Learned

I made it!!!!!!!

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For those who have never heard of this challenge, here is your opportunity to read it all the way ’til the end: 21 Weeks of Travel Blogging Challenge (feel free to do a challenge of yourself!).

After over three months of blogging, there are a few posts that I’m quite proud of for writing myself. Here are some of the best:

Challenge Highlights

As I approached this last post, I feel nervous and excited. Nervous because I feel as if I have exhausted my writing topics. What else is there to share aside from all the experiences I’ve had?

With the end in sight, I’m excited because I’ve stuck to this challenge through the end. There were definitely weeks where I did not feel like writing, but this challenge had motivated me to get back into my blogging grind. Furthermore, this challenge was born from one of my monthly goals list, and I’m quite happy about being able to finish it.

I’ve learned a lot from this blogging challenge. I have practiced determination by pursuing a hobby and passion of mine through long, lazy days. I have learned to flow my writing better. Best of all, I’ve made great fun blogging friends along the way.

Again, do check out my 21 Weeks of Travel Blogging Challenge, where you will find the rest of the challenge prompts!


What’s next?

Well, now that I’m out of a 3+ month long blogging commitment, I want to take a break from challenge prompts for a little bit.

I’m hoping to get an actual blog domain for myself in the next few months. This would be a great way to explore uncharted waters and take a dive in the deep blogging pool. Adventures ahead!

What are some of your goals and proud accomplishments?


Thanks for reading! This is a response to the 21 Weeks of Travel Blogging Challenge!

Here are some other posts you might like:

Read more of my posts from the Travel Blogging Challenge:

Week 1:  A favorite travel photo of you and intro
Week 2: Little known tips
Week 3: Funny story
Week 4: Misadventures
Week 5: Top three cultural foods
Week 6: Unusual travel activities/photos
Week 7: Inspiration for traveling
Week 8: Five favorite travel blogs
Week 9: Gross/disgusting stories
Week 10: Best adventures while traveling
Week 11: What’s in your backpack?
Week 12: Happy and sad stories
Week 13: Unique cultures encountered
Week 14: Top three favorite destinations
Week 15: Travel regrets
Week 16: Scary and cool travel stories
Week 17: Things to purge
Week 18: Humbling things learned from traveling
Week 19: Confessions
Week 20: Travel bucket list (countries/activities)
Week 21: Your challenge post highlights and what you’ve learned during this challenge

These awesome people are also doing the challenge!!! Click to see their stories!

Interested in participating in the Weekly Travel Blogging Challenge? Feel free to make your own today!

One Lovely Blog Award!

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I would like to give the biggest, warmest hug to Avid Observer for nominating me for the One Lovely Blog Award. If you don’t know the Avid Observer, go check ’em out! Their blog features thought provoking life lessons, that are both humorous and inspiring! 

A Giant Thank You to you all. These bloggers posses their own unique styles of representing their thoughts. Do make sure to visit their Lovely blogs.

Rules:

  • Each nominee must thank the person who nominated them and link their blog in their post.
  • They must include the rules and add the blog award badge as an image.
  • Must add 7 facts about themselves.
  • Nominate 15 people to do the award!

7 Fun / interesting facts about me:

  • I believe that success in life is defined by: Experiences, Pursuing your Passions, Family and Friends, Learning/Improving/Evolving, Food, Travel, Music. PS: money is not part of the equation.
  • My current hobbies: Blogging, Cooking, Photography, Broadway Shows, TV Shows (Series of Unfortunate Events)
  • My favorite websites to peruse when I’m bored are: Quora, Daily Flight Deals, educational and self-improvement sites and articles. I believe social media is a huge time-drainer- I unfortunately use them more than I’d like. /sigh.

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  • I am Vietnamese, born in the Philippines, and live in the United States. My parents were refugees from the war and I am forever thankful of the life they gave me. I’m hoping to write a book called The Refugees’ Daughter (or The Refugee’s Child – which title is better??)
  • I have been vegetarian/vegan all my life. My mom is best chef in the world, and I’m still learning.
  • Though I’m not a great writer, I love to write. I organize my thoughts through writing, and would be lost without my journal. Most of my thoughts come out as a page full of hectic, gibberish writing, but it makes me productive. I was freaking out on the bus to NYC when I had forgotten my notebook at home (18 hours by bus away). PS: electronic journalism will never replace my physical notebooks. 

My Nominees:

Shout out to all my nominees! You guys are awesome, let’s have some fun!! <3

 

Spread the LOVE 🙂

 

The Time I Almost Fell Off a Coconut Tree

I’ve always been jealous of people who can climb coconut trees. Growing up in the Philippines, I loved the easy access to cheap coconuts. I’ve often sat and watched people climb up the trees with ease, grabbed a coconut from the top, and slide back down like a boss. 

In tropical and humid countries, coconuts are the fruits of choice. They are known for their many uses as seen in this awesome and catchy song in Moana:

On a hot and humid day, thirsty? We drink the coconut juice. Hungry? We eat the meat inside. The leaves are used to fire, basket-weaving, shade, and more! The trees are easily accessible, can be seen everywhere on the streets. I’ve always wanted to climb one. The problem: the coconuts are super high up in the air. Since there are no branches to climb up on, people rely on pure arm and leg strength. /ugh/

Being a less than capable climber, I mostly admire these coconut climbers from afar. While traveling in Central America, locals showed us new methods to help the coconut harvest process safer and go faster, and can be learned by newbies. Yes! The group of Italians who stayed with us were too smart to try something like this and had only watched us from the hut. My boyfriend, Cuong, who has always been more physically fit than me, climbed first on the tree about fifty feet in the air.

How it works: Using two rope loops, wrap them around the tree. One rope loops around your thigh, and the other rope is used to step on. You can lever yourself upwards by shifting the ropes up. See a video of coconut climbing in action here.

My turn. Still in my flip flops, I decided to give it a try. Skeptical of my abilities to go all the way up, I was hoping to maybe climb a few feet. Before I knew it, I was already a fourth of the way up the tree. Wow, it was easier than I thought. The ropes dug into my thighs and the tree scraped against my arms and and legs, but it was do-able! I decided to keep going, despite the lack of proper shoes.

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Two-thirds of the way up!

Two-thirds of the way up, the tree curved to the side, the ropes didn’t have enough friction to grab onto the tree, and slid loose. I lost my footing. My heart jumped out of my chest. 

I was so scared that for the next five minutes, I hugged and cursed myself for climbing so far up in the first place. One fall like that could definitely break a bone. After what felt like an eternity of panic, I realized that no one is going to be able to help me. I have to get out of this mess on my own. I decided to keep climbing up (since I didn’t know how to get down and that was a problem for future Winta).

The top of the coconut tree had dry fibery leaves, which made it difficult for the ropes to grab on. The coconut was more difficult to pick than I thought. I had to twist it a dozen times before it broke and fell to the ground. My first coconut picked from the tree. 

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Reaping the fruits of my labor.

As with any cat that climbs a tree and can’t get down, I looked at the ground faaaarr below me. I realized I didn’t know how to get back down. Great, fifty feet in the air and I’m experimenting on ways to pull the ropes and lever back down. After a series of trial and error, I was finally able to shimmy myself back down.

Here are a couple of celebratory pictures of my difficult climb:

I should also mention that both our climbs took about 20-30 minutes, and the locals probably take 5 minutes to go through the whole process. I imagine that they were highly amused by our determination through this ordeal. Despite my incredible thirst, I spent 15 minutes clumsily cutting open my coconut and drank the sweet, sweet reward.

I’m quite proud of this day, almost falling off a coconut tree, but reaching my goal. I came out with only a couple of scratches, aches, and bruises, but I had learned something new: that it was all possible. Perhaps, in the far future, I will climb for coconuts again.


Thanks for reading!! I would love to hear your thoughts on my dangerous heist in comments below. <3