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Cheers to 2023 | Stephanie's Jan 2023

Happy New Year, Cheers to 2023! I feel like every month seems to fly by though interestingly, while January also seemed to go by quickly, it was actually one of the months that felt a tad bit longer than my usual. I wonder why… Maybe you all can help me figure that out after reading my journal entry this month. Let’s get started.

-- Stephanie



After what felt like both a long and short week of winter shutdown time off, I returned back to work at the start of January. I can’t be cliche and say I returned feeling refreshed and ready to kick off the new year though, I actually felt like I would like a longer break LOL. But it’s okay life goes on.

Interestingly this month due to the MLK holiday, and I also took a day of PTO, I had two b2b 4 day work weeks -- though surprisingly -- the month also felt short yet longer than my usual. Perhaps it was how I was spending time.

My grandfather was still in the hospital at the start of this month, though luckily, with the exception of weekly nurse visits to his house, he was able to get discharged and return home. He still has a long ways to go on recovery, but I am just glad he is improving nad on the road to recovery. I can’t say that all is well, but it is much better. It has been a lot of taking on translations, but it has also been a lot of seeing reality and how my mom/her siblings are changing their lifestyles to take care of my grandfather. Part of me feels sad seeing everyone like this, part of me feels sad knowing that one day this will be the reality of my parents, and I wish they’d just stay healthy with me for a long long time. Selfish of me ain’t it.

This month was a very rainy ongoing b2b 2 weeks in California, for the rare times it wasn’t raining (or not raining heavily) + my mental health -- I was very intentional about how I spent my free time. I found myself saying no to hangouts with friends so I could spend time with family, or saying no to hangouts simply to spend more time with myself. This month if I didn’t feel full hearted about a hangout, I was surprisingly pretty honest (made no excuses) and let the other party know that I wasn’t fully present. I do feel bad for being MIA to those, but I think I’d feel even worse if I didn’t listen to what I was feeling. For the days I said no, my heart told me right and I felt pretty good about it. While it’s a good feeling to surround yourself with people, it’s also good to say no to things/people I wasn’t feeling super present with. With that being said, this month I did get to have a couple quality time hangouts! A museum day with Sadie -- I’d recommend you all to go see the KongKee exhibit at the Asian Art Museum (but I think the exhibit has already ended) hands down one of my favorite if not top exhibits I’ve seen at a museum. The artist blended the past, present, and future -- so beautifully well. I also got the chance to set aside a date, and really spend time with Ashley. I hate driving but I busted out 2 hours one way (4 hours round trip, can you believe it lol it was all the roadwork post-rain) to see my coworkers at the new SJ office -- it was well worth it for the friendly bonding! I then ended my friendship hangouts this month with a bang through Lunar New Year weekend with Tammie and a reunion with Sadie and Pearl.

The lifestyle section of this blogpost has to wrap up with a bang -- aka -- Lunar New Year 2023! What a coincidence that both New Years fall in January this year. I didn’t do anything special this American New Year, I was actually visiting my grandfather, and to be quite frank, I didn’t mind not celebrating NYE/NY and instead spending it with my grandpa. I was exactly where I needed to be, and to be there for someone who matters so much to me.

A miracle happened and my grandfather was allowed home before Lunar New Year, the timing couldn’t have better. For one who usually doesn’t go all out for Lunar New Year -- my father always hated the LNY crowds so for the past years -- we’ve always gone to temples and asian plazas -- one week after LNY. This year, with my Ao Dai from socal + Tammie’s family influence -- we ended up going on the actual date of LNY. I don’t remember the last time I was this excited to celebrate LNY. It’s funny because I actually used to hate going to the temple and asian plazas (I’m ashamed to admit I hated it) and this year, I couldn’t be more excited. While I had a gratifying weekend with loved ones and really appreciated my Chinese Vietnamese heritage -- I can say that my dad was right about chaotic crowds and that I will be back to going to temples/plazas one week later lol! Jokes aside, Lunar New Year 2023 symbolized quality time with family and loved ones -- all while embracing the culture my family grew up with. I felt/still feel, very fulfilled in that aspect. Welcoming the year of the rabbit! (my all-time favorite animal :))


Lows + Lessons:

1. Being Intentional with myself

While in the long run, I feel good about my decisions this month on who I decided to say no to, who I decided to say yes to, and when I decided I’d rather just stay in by myself than half-heartedly say yes -- especially on that last part, I can’t say at the moment I immediately 100% felt good about my decision. With friendships being a part of our lives, I can’t help but feel bad that while people are forging friendships and tight bonds with another, here I am rejecting it..It felt melancholy. Not so much for missing the hangout, but behind on where most people my age are probably focused on building friendships, yet here I am pushing back. All to say though, for the people that do matter to me, I did intentionally meet them up or make time to catch up over text. The past year, I’ve grown a lot in solo dates, but this past month I felt like I really grew more intentional with me time (though I still have room to grow). One distinct memory was when I took a random monday off, and instead of inviting people who would usually be down to coffee shop and chill with me -- I decided to spend the day myself, I visited Ariscault and didn’t have to deal with lines, initially I was going to eat out at the public seating in front (but it was way too crowded and I got shy lol so I gots working to do in that end) but I ended up solo picnic-ing at the park instead which was a nice unexpected change, then I went to a cafe to read, and ended the day with a solo walk. While I’ve been doing some variation of these things alone the past year, this distinct hangout where I chose to keep it a secret and not invite people who would usually be down, and instead intentionally create time to spend the day at my own pace, was a lesson that really marked how much I’ve changed (and continue to change) in my relationship with myself.

2. Emotional Flaws.

My career is going well, my grandfather returned home, and I’m embracing solo time -- what can be wrong? Lol. Towards the later half of the month, I had thoughts about my emotional flaws and why I am the way I am. I’m really not a confident person (I’ve improved a lot, but I’m still not that confident) despite how much I achieve. I feel big responsibilities to take care of everyone in my family, especially my parents. And I feel guilty easily. Okay and these aren’t like January 2023 thoughts that just appeared, I’ve been in and out of fragments of these thoughts through my upbringing -- but this month I did start questioning my emotional flaws and why I am the way I am as a person and also mentally. I’m not alone, these are common for others similar in demographic background to me. I started unpacking a bit this month and I won’t get too in the weeds about it, but I see room for self-improvement and much I have to unlearn to truly be at a mindset of solace.

With all that’s being said, life is good! I have a lot to work on, but I couldn’t be more thankful for the health of my grandfather, my career, and the people in my life.


My pick of the month: Lunar New Year

Truly embracing family traditions and feeling in tune with culture this year. I feel even luckier that I got to spend it with Tammie and her family this year + having my grandfather home. Despite all that’s gone on, these have to be positives.

I hope you all had a Happy New Year, regardless of which one you celebrate. Cheers to 2023, may this be our best year yet.

Chat soon in March



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