Thank YOU for 1,000!

In the end, maybe we must all give up trying to pay back the people in this world who sustain our lives. In the end, maybe it’s wiser to surrender before the miraculous scope of human generosity and to just keep saying thank you, forever and sincerely, for as long as we have voices.

Elizabeth Gilbert

♥︎ THANK YOU! ♥︎

I started this blog on May 5th of 2022, and in some 8 months, we have grown to 1,004 subscribers! I am at a loss for words for all your support and kindness, and most importantly—for the space you’ve held for me and my sometimes overwhelming thoughts and emotions.

I thought I’d reintroduce myself, for those of you who’s joined us more recently and perhaps haven’t had a chance to go back to the earlier entries. Afterwards, if you don’t mind sharing, I’d love to get to know about you, too!

Background & Profession

Hi, I am Andie. I am a Taiwanese Canadian, who was born in Taiwan and immigrated to Vancouver when I was 13. I am a teacher; I have been one for as long as I can remember. I have taught ages from daycare all the way to college! Teaching is something I am deeply passionate about. The students invigorate and inspire me in unimaginable ways.

Interests

When I am not teaching, I love:

  • exercising,
  • reading,
  • learning about investment related topics (real estate, stocks, Crypto, etc),
  • writing,
  • traveling

2023 Goals

As a stoic (albeit an impure one), I am more of an Everyday Girl; therefore, I am not much of a resolutionist. However, I do have some goals for this year! I’d like to learn how to pole dance. My goal is to take my first class on Jan 21. I will report back on this!

Oh, and more adventures! Always more adventures 😊

What else would you like to know about me? Ask me in the comment section below, along with something unique about you!

An epiphany, about death and dying

Early, early Friday morning, instead of celebrating the last day of class with my students at school, I started my day in the ER.

The ER in downtown Vancouver is a despondent place, draped with homelessness and flagrant socio-economical divide.

As I sat there alone, witnessing the suffering surrounding me, I came to a visceral understanding of myself: While I am unfazed by death itself, the process of dying alone is rather daunting.

I went in to the ER for chest pain and heart palpitation that has lasted some 36+ hours (and is still haunting me, 8 days later). However, I was in manageable amount of pain, as well as a clear enough headspace. I wondered how scared I would’ve felt if I were buckled over in pain, and not having anyone to lean on?

Since Grandma passed 6 months ago, I have been thinking a lot about death, about dying. Then when Grandpa passed some almost 3 months ago, I witnessed a vastly different dying experience unfurled before my eyes. I suddenly had to reevaluate my life decisions, particularly the ones that’ll affect how the last chapter of my journey will look like. While I don’t think children are an essential part of the picture I have in mind, but a dependable partner is very much desired.

December has always been an introspective month for me, with how much has happened in this year, I seem to be caught even deeper in thought.

What are typical Decembers like for you? Do you celebrate any festivals during this time of the year? I am currently without my laptop, so I’ll have to edit the layout of this entry later. Hope you’re enjoy the last few days of this year❤️

🍁November🍁

November Update

I feel very sheepish about posting half-baked ideas, particularly the ones that I am still labouring to process. However, I am a practicing imperfectionist, who is learning to embrace the idea that: if I wait for all my ideas and research to be perfect, then I may have missed the most valuable element: time. Or, in the words of Alex Hormozi, whose work ethic I revere: “By the time you have complete information, the opportunity has closed.

So here I am, squirming to post these raw, unrefined thoughts but posting them nonetheless. 🥂 To stepping outside of our comfort zone.

November came and went in the blink of an eye. I am still trudging through my “third-life crisis”, trying to discern which axioms to best live my life by. While I have been holding tightly onto the people who love me and remind me of the essence of who they know me to be, I also know that I have strayed into the company of vague acquaintances and surfaced conversations. My excuse is that: after long hours of working, learning, and deliberating about the directions for the next stage of my life, sometimes my mind just needs a break, an escape. While I am not too proud of those nights out, nor the company that I had kept, I think they just might be necessary to preserve my sanity for the moment.

Besides my struggle to equilibrate between Romanticism and Pragmaticism (as per my October update), I have also been vacillating between living in the present and planning for the future. Specifically:

How Does One Hope for the Future and Live in the Present Simultaneously?

There are countless wisdom and philosophies about the only path to pure and absolute happiness in living in the present,
and just as much teachings about striving for the future. Here’s what I mean:

Present

True happiness is… to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future.

Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have. Make the Now the primary focus of your life.

Eckhart Tolle

You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment.

Henry David Thoreau

Future

We have always held to the hope, the belief, the conviction that there is a better life, a better world, beyond the horizon.

Franklin D. Roosevelt


Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.

Albert Einstein


Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today.

Thich Nhat Hanh


Our human compassion binds us the one to the other – not in pity or patronizingly, but as human beings who have learnt how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future.

Nelson Mandela

If these two concepts weren’t dichotomic, then perhaps I wouldn’t be having such a hard time.

Anyways! Here are some photos for those of you who are more visually inclined:

November in Pictures

Whistler getaway with mom&dad💙
Went blonde again after some years
Celebrating beautiful girl friends💙

That’s it from me! Thank you for reading, and for being part of this journey with me💙 Until next time!

My Andie

In the last month, a couple people have proffered that I be theirs.

“I want you to be mine,” they said, despite not having the slightest clue as to how they’d steward me. We don’t even claim ownership over a pet without knowing how to properly steward them, yet some men seem to think women would require less commitment than a pet?

I think I would have found it more romantic if they were to have first asked me what it’d take for me to remotely consider being theirs. But I guess that would have ended up nowhere either, for I would’ve shared with them this quote from Jane Eyre:

I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will

Jane Eyre

Right. At this point, you probably think I am impossible. But I am not! I was once upon a time someone’s ‘My Andie’; though, it was a long time ago now.

I remembered how he used to call me “My Andie”—more notably, how I allowed him to call me his. I retraced our story back to the beginning, to figure out what was different about him, about that relationship.

He wasn’t the first (or the only) person who tried to call me theirs, but why he was the only one to whom I surrendered my independence?

I remembered the very first time when I landed in LAX, he was already waiting for me, flowers in his hands. He teared up when he saw me—long distance had that effect on lovers. He gave me an American SIM that was already paid for, in case I didn’t have a roaming plan. When I arrived at his, there were snacks and drinks that I had briefly mentioned previously in our conversations, crisp linens and fresh towels, as well as a few other small gifts that he had collected whenever he had thought of me—nothing extravagant but all ever so thoughtful: travel size lotion, a book, resistance bands for working out (because I used to use them every day).

When I come across pictures he’s taken of me, I’d see how profoundly loved I was through his eyes. Although we no longer have the same love for each other, it was the best souvenir he could’ve given me.

At that time he was still consulting for a firm, so every now and then he would have to go into the office for meetings. While he worked, I used to wander the city alone. He gave me his credit card, insistent that he took care of all my Uber and other expenses. I never used the card; it was never about the money. How much could Uber rides have cost? It was his generosity in offering me the best of his resources—time, attention, energy, affection, money—instead of what was leftover of them.

He understood both the hopeless romantic, as well as the pragmatic logistician in me, and meticulously planned our adventures accordingly—remembering all my travel preferences and dietary sensitivities. He took care of me down to every quantum detail.

I think it was in those quantum details that he’d won me over. It was the first, and only time, I felt someone else was invested in taking better care of me than I did myself. So when he called me his Andie, I relaxed into it, without much, or any, protest.

For the best of my life, I refuse to belong to anyone, or even to anywhere. I am ardent about being free. Don’t get me wrong, I have been in a few committed relationships, just not one in which I felt that I belonged to them. Even in my readings, I often resonate with characters that are transient in nature:

Other people were destined to keep leaving, over and over again.—Alix Ohlin

Or,

I should have known even then that the sea was written in him, that there would be some sort of leaving.— Let the Great World Spin

In my heart and mind, I feel unmoored, unanchored. Though, I still am unsure of why.

I wonder if it is because I am never fully willing to relinquish my fierce independence and unfettered freedom? Or, perhaps it is because I struggle to entrust myself to someone else?

And this, is how we have arrived at: Andie Untamed.


The Light We Carry

These days my heart and mind are at war.

While my mind is vehemently trying to rid me of my romanticism, my heart is shrieking in painful protest. As I attempt to re-evaluate the axioms that have governed how I used to best live my life, I have been met with a grave sense of loss, of angst. I am no longer certain that—loving well—is how I want to be remembered by.


My mind wrestles with questions such as:

“To whom does it matter how I loved?”

“What if I choose selfishness this time around, and prioritize my own desires first?”

“What if monogamous romantic relationships are just manipulated social constructs that religions use to puppet their believers? And my obstinate resolve in achieving them is only yielding me endless heartbreak and disillusion?”

When is enough, enough?”

Struggling to find my footing, I haven’t been able to find a book that consoles and anchors my heart, until I came across Michelle Obama‘s The Light We Carry. Her voice has served as a soothing and gentle reminder of the person I aspired to be.

When we are able to recognize our own light, we become empowered to use it

–Michelle Obama

Through her words, I feel seen. I feel more at ease with how much my mind has been oscillating between “it’s all too much” and “I’ve got this”, between “I love LOVE” and “LOVE doesn’t pay bills”, so on and so forth.

I still have no concrete answer to my own questions, which means I am still standing at an impasse—the most psychologically excruciating place for my mind to be. But here I am, learning to sit in this discomfort once again, focusing on small things one day at a time.

So while the light within me may have been temporarily dimmed, I am on a quest to find the fire that will reignite my soul and set it alight once more.

Until then, THANK YOU for being a part of this journey with me. If you, too, are grappling between feeling overwhelmed and “I got this”, know that you are not alone! With one foot in front of the other, we are going to get there. Perhaps not at the timing that we would’ve liked, but we will get there. Keep shining❤️✨

How to Set Achievable Goals

https://www.hydratemarketing.com/blog/the-importance-of-setting-smart-goals

S.M.A.R.T. Goal

S.M.A.R.T. Goal is one of the most effective goal setting strategies employed by a myriad of reputable companies around the world. It is also one of my preferred strategies to equip my students with. The concept in and of itself is rather straightforward: you set a specific, measurable, attainable, realistic goal to be completed within a certain time frame.

Here’s an arbitrary example of how a S.M.A.R.T. Goal would be structured:

Goal: Accrue $12,000 in the emergency fund.

Specific: $12,000 over 24 months, save $500/month
Measurable: at the end of each month, I can sum up all my savings and see if it adds up to $500
Attainable: $500 is equivalent to roughly to $17/day. If I eat at home and pack a lunch to work, I can save $17/day on food.
Realistic: if I am being achingly honest, I will not only eat at home and pack a lunch for two years straight. So the $17/day will have to come from a reduction from other budgets. So if I were to save $400/month from food, $100/month from commute, then it will be doable.
Time-bound: 2 years

Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.

Tony Robbins

2 Major Roadblocks

Overthinking

Over the years, I noticed that one of the biggest obstacle we face when it comes to achieving our goals—is ourselves. So often we are stunted in our mind. Instead of overthinking and preparing for every possible failure, the secret is to start. You can always refine and pivot as you make advancement towards your goal!

Motivation

Growth is uncomfortable. It challenges us to step outside of our comfort zone. Often, it is so much easier to remain cocooned in what is familiar, instead of inching forward—especially when results may be imperceivable at first. It is important that you trust the process, trust the journey. When your motivation is lacking, have your discipline and courage carry you. Stay steadfast in the pursuit of your goals even when you may not feel motivated to.

Thank you for reading! I hope this strategy can be of help to you in achieving new goals! 💙

How to Reassess Your Stagnant Beliefs and Make Your Life Extraordinary?

“This is how humans are: We question all our beliefs, except for the ones that we truly believe in, and those we never think to question.”

― Orson Scott Card

I recently came across this quote that has left my spirit rather restless.
When it comes to beliefs that I feel unapologetically convicted about, my confirmation bias tends to take over, rendering my judgements unreliable. How does one rectify one’s obstinate—and perhaps what ought to be obsolete—beliefs, to improve oneself?

Exhibit A of a Stagnant Belief of mine: My Romantic Ideologies.

I am a romantic, who pretends not to be. My personalities swing like pendulums between idealism and pragmatism. There are my hopes and dreams for people, for my relationships, for the future, and then there are my crude understanding of the reality. Whenever I hear stories about how relationships fail to work, I am reminded of the obsolescence of romanticism. Since I’ve read the quote above a few weeks ago, I have been seriously considering abandoning my romantic ideologies, I just haven’t quite figured out how yet.

And if I may be a hundred percent transparent, a huge part of me preemptively mourns and weeps for the loss of that romantic part of me. After all, if I am no longer a romantic, would I still be me?

Extraordinary accomplishments come from doing ordinary things for extraordinary periods of time.

– Alex Hormozi

This was another quote I came across recently that has really resonated with me. It has succinctly captured a powerful concept that I couldn’t quite articulate well myself; it is the notion that: both the quality AND quantity we invest into our goals define how successful we will be at it. Alex Hormozi said that doing 100 repetition of anything well, will result in noticeable improvements, however incremental it may be. It is not any one workout that we do is impressive, rather, the culmination of workouts that we day in and day out, devote ourselves to, that make a difference.

Have I devoted enough time and energy into the goals that I vehemently care about? Have you? If not, what we some of the accountability measures we can implement to ensure that we are doing our due diligence to be better, rather than waiting passively, praying and hoping that our desired goals would miraculously manifest themselves?

Showing up for myself💪

🎃October🎃

I began this entry mid-October and it has taken many a turn since then. Typically, writing and cooking have been my creative outlets; except, these days, my thought are too fragmented to even be strung into coherent sentences. So instead, I have been deep into art meditation, called Zentangle.

But perhaps this is when I most need to just put pen to paper, and write. Write until I can make sense of what’s going on in my head, write until I can hear my voice again.

So here it is: my vain attempt.

It hasn’t been easy, moving forward in life after losing my grandparents. To the people around me, it has already been a month and a half, but to me, it has only been a month and a half. Time is so fluid, so relative, so personal, isn’t it? Since September, due to the culmination of events that had transpired, something in me just sort of—broke. I reached a figurative, yet incredibly visceral, Rubicon (point of no return). Left behind at that junction were integral pieces of who I was, whom I aspired to be.

Since then, I have evaporated into a seasonless, flavourless world,
with no obvious way back.

    Into the seasonless world where you
shall laugh, but not all of your laughter,
and weep, but not all of your tears.

Kahlil Gibran

Zentangle

Here are my first and second attempts at it. They still have lots of room for improvement but I thought I’d share should you be interested in trying them out as well!

Halloween

It’s been a while since I dressed up for Halloween, partly because it was COVID and most activities were cancelled, partly because I just felt too old for it. But this year I was supposed to go to a Halloween party so I actually put some thought into putting together a semblance of a costume. I was a raven, in case you can’t tell.

Fitness & Diet

Despite my apathetic state, I have been working out regularly still, albeit with much less enthusiasm and rigor. I am glad on the days when I have absolutely zero motivation to exercise, I have my discipline to carry me.

In terms of my “diet”, I am en route to my usual winter 10-pound weight gain. My body, my weight has a natural cadence of its own. As the seasons change and the temperature begins to drop, I intuitively eat more and collect more body fat, which I have now made peace with. I am glad that I have finally arrived at a place where I can amicably coexist with this additional weight and use it to increase my physical strength, and hopefully gain some more muscle definitions for the summer.

So, that’s it for me for October. How was your October? ❤️

Temptations

Friday night—lights dimmed, music loud, slightly inebriated, you saw him walking towards you. “Hey” he leaned in, his voice a rich baritone. “Can I buy you a drink?”

You caught a whiff of his cologne, musky sandalwood. Your favourite. You can feel the tinge of excitement in your chest, the very first telltale sign of a thrilling love adventure. “Sure,” you said, fervently containing your wandering mind.

He put his hand on your waist as he ordered a drink from the bartender. You took a closer look at him: fresh haircut, smooth complexion, understated designer pieces, crisp blazer without so much as a hairline wrinkle. You smiled, attempting to mask how much you appreciated his attention to detail, and taste in the finer things. But most importantly, how he fixed his gaze on you, how attentively he listened, how enamored he seemed—how special he made you feel.

One, then two, then three drinks later, your friends have already gone home. But the conversation was so scintillating, you couldn’t bring yourself to leave. So you stayed. You talked about investment, about travel, about exercise, about books, about all the things that enchant your heart. Before you know it, the bar was about to close.

“Wanna come over to my place for a couple more drinks? I am just a few minutes away.” he asked unassumingly and earnestly.

Your heart skipped a beat, partially at how fondly you have grown of him, partially at the impasse you are now faced with. “Do I go? What will I tell my husband?” What up to then had only been a fleeting flirtatious encounter has suddenly developed into something with potential. “It’s just a couple more drinks. There’s nothing wrong with making new friends as long as I don’t cross the line,” you nonchalantly convinced yourself, muffling out the voice in your head that was screaming, “YOU ARE PLAYING WITH FIRE!”

Chocolate, Vanilla, Choose.

Recently I have learned an acronym “MBA”, which stands for Married But Available, that has unsettled me in unexpected ways. The concept in and of itself is repulsive to me. Being a hopeless romantic myself, raised in a family wherein my parents are engrossed (yes, engrossed, tunnel-visioned, head-over-heels, the whole nine yards) in each other, I am reluctant to imagine marital dynamic in any other fashion.

That said, I am not naive and oblivious to the realities of life. I understand that what my parents have is precious and rare, that in fact, most marriages are not like that. I also understand how easy it is to acquiesce to temptation. How, it is not about choosing to hurt the person you are married to, rather, it is just not choosing them. I’d like to believe that most people are not malicious nor cruel. If they cheat on their spouses, their intention was most likely to follow their heart, to indulge in the heat and to chase thrill of the moment.

What unsettled me was how easy it is to forgo these socially constructed moral guidelines, and how capable we are of unintentionally hurting the people that we care deeply about, just by chasing the desires of our heart.

Do you ever face temptations? Or are you unfazed by them?

What They Don’t Tell You About Death

“He passed peacefully in his sleep,” is what we tell our relatives when we inform them of Grandpa’s passing. It’s not not-true. Grandpa did pass away peacefully. But what was left out was the harrowing process of witnessing his life slowly diminish in front of our eyes. No one really talks about that aspect of death: the laboured breathing, the lips and extremities turning purple, the body cleansing itself of all its bowel contents, the vitals so weak that they cannot be measured by machines and therefore the families having to frequently hold a mirror underneath the nose of our loved one to detect their faint breath—or the lack thereof.

People also don’t talk about the intricate procedures that ensued immediately after the person passes. Who do you call to issue a death certificate? Where does the body go before it gets buried or cremated? What if you want a funeral with open-casket? Where do you find a respectful embalmer? Who will be writing the eulogies? What about religious rituals, if there were any?

How do grief-stricken families navigate all this?

And just when you finally made it through all the ceremonies, grief sets in—prodigiously and mercilessly. You start to notice the stark void that the people whom you loved had left behind.

She understood loss and how it leaves a hole in the soul that can never be filled.

Santa Montefiore

I wrote Grandpa’s eulogy on Saturday. As I recounted all the memories we shared, my brain was stuck in a loop. How can I effectively and succinctly encapsulate such love? How can anyone?

During the process of writing, I also reflected again on my own eulogy; as in, how do I want to be remembered? In teaching, we commonly employ Backward Design when we plan our units. (We take a look at all the curricular goals we want to achieve by the end of the year, and backward engineer our lessons to ensure we cover all necessary grounds.) So perhaps because it is already deeply steeped into my thinking process, I live my life by how I want to be remembered at the end of my life.

I want to be remembered as having love well.

What about you? What governs your behaviour and how you best live your life?

We all die. The goal isn’t to live forever, the goal is to create something that will.

– Chuck Palahniuk