I’ve always liked being early. I was that kid that starting working on the homework while the teacher was still handing it out. My thinking: start now and you’ll be that much further ahead, get the hard stuff out of the way, then you can celebrate worry-free later, right?
Left in the mini wake of Thanksgiving thankfulness and preparing for the tidal wave of December holiday chaos only means New Year’s Resolutions and the annual stroke of midnight when everyone is forever changed (at least until the end of January) is right around the corner. The past few months, my life has been somewhat of a rollercoaster and now on day seven of being bedridden, this is probably the strongest sign from God that I need to take a break. More than a physical break, but an emotional break, a mental break, a ‘take care of my whole-being’ break. A reset of sorts, or in other words; a resolution. A resolution to take care of myself better, so that I can take care of others better. You can’t exhale without inhaling. I’m ready to get rid of some old to make room for some new, but why wait until the New Year for resolutions? Rather, I wanted to get a head start on what I’m calling my detox December; a time where I am committing to putting all aspects of my health and wellbeing at the forefront of my life. Some things I’m adding, some things I’m taking away, all meant for the purpose of learning from and listening to my body of how best to take care of myself during a full schedule.
My Detox December
No social media (except for work-related purposes)
Stretch for 10 minutes every morning
Drink more water
Treat myself once a week to something relaxing i.e. massage, facial, sauna, etc.
Read my bible more
30 day food cleanse
Get creative- paint more, draw more, craft more
Act like a child- in faith, in honesty, in laughter, in stress
I’ve always liked a challenge. If I can follow this during the busiest month, doing it during the slowest or most relaxed month will be that much easier. Also if I write it here, I’m hoping to have you all hold me accountable. Feel free to join me if you’re feeling inspired! It can be one simple thing that you give up this month, like not reading your emails before 10 a.m. or meditating a little each day, whatever it is to help keep you healthy, happy, engaged, focused, energized and motivated this holiday season. Give yourself your own best gift by treating your head and heart with the care they deserve, don’t wait until January to make the changes you want to make, and of course, enjoy the holidays!
For the majority of my life, fall has signified the beginning: a settling of schedules and school, the start of routines, a new but known start. Four months ago, having finished my final quarter, I was lying in bed silently freaking out of about what I was going to do, where I was going to be, and so forth for the other 300 quarters of my life. Fast forward, and I am still lying in bed —so I guess that part hasn’t changed— but a lot of other things have so here’s a little quarterly update.
I got a job! I started my first job as a server at Canlis in Queen Anne and I LOVE IT. For a brief overview, Canlis has been Seattle’s iconic fine-dining destination for 67 years, one of the best wine and top 25 restaurants in the nation. Given my somewhat recent interest in a career within the food/culinary/nutrition industry, I am taking advantage of this opportunity with full force and savoring every minute. The influx of information paired with long shifts was a lot to adjust to, but I am learning a vast amount about food, wine, and service at an exponential rate and I truly enjoy everyone I work with. Shoutout to my Canlis family!
I found a place to live! If anyone ever tells you apartment searching is fun, it’s all LIES. Not forgetting Seattle’s creeping rank on being one of the most expensive places to live in the U.S, after weeks of apartment/housing tours, I finally found a cute little townhouse to call home (aka ‘The Zest Nest’). Easy access to all the places important to me, I’d say the best part of living here is who I live with. At first, I was pretty set on finding a one-bedroom to get in touch with my introvertedness, but I am so glad God took the reigns and put me with the most amazing people to share laughter, adventures, and silly stories of figuring out adulthood with. Shoutout to Greta and Leigha!
I’m alive and well! * From a very young age, I have been extremely active and after my skating career, I have discovered different likes and dislikes for being physically active. Running, hiking, and yoga have all become big passions of mine, but now that I have become familiar with those, I thought I would try a new challenge; kickboxing! (It even sounds badass when I type it). It’s good to switch things up and have your body learn a new skill and I’m eager to work on something I know nothing about. If anything, maybe I’ll finally get some upper body strength. On the other side of health, my mental state has been exercised in so many ways I’m not sure where to begin. I’ve taken up more reading and journaling, though I am struggling to balance it with studying for work and other topics. New settings, new stimuli, new schedules, have taken a toll on me physically and mentally, but I’ve been slowly learning to listen to what my body and my mind is telling me, something I have put aside for the larger part of my life. Shoutout to me!
*subject to change
It’s funny how God works. The minute I graduated, I was set on getting the heck out of Seattle and never coming back, at least not for a long while. Then little by little, I was reminded of the pieces of my community, my home, and my self that I have made here over the last four years. And now, without the burden of school, I get to “slow down” and be the post-college, still-trying-to-figure-out-the-world-and-life young adult I have yet to be; eating away at my infinite Seattle restaurants list, crossing off PNW hikes, building relationships with new friends, going deeper with old friends, serving people better, and making my faith in the unknown and myself bigger than any fears I have and any that are yet to come.
Among bittersweet farewells and joyful celebrations, the Class of 2017 has officially graduated. Congratulations! (Or as my brother would say, conGRADulations!) Through many hours of studying —and probably more not— we have all grown and learned together, unaware of the irreplaceable bond being created between us meanwhile. Standing among the sea of personalized graduation caps and picture-taking parents, I had come to the realization how much my classmates have become my community. I would have never thought that that one group I got stuck with in my business communications class would end up being my brunch buddies or that I would go visit a friend across the country with whom I met and worked on a consulting project my freshman year, but it’s these connections that the University of Washington, and now can say alma matter, the Foster School of Business, have so generously left me with.
Now that the festivities have died down, our fresh, bright-eyed generation approaches summer with a mix of emotions: excitement and relief intertwined with fear and uncertainty; eagerness and hope, marked by anxiety and confusion. Here we are, after doing the same job for the last 16 years of our lives, with another diploma to show for it? While some graduates saddle up for their start date at a mega technology or accounting firm and others move back home to figure out their lives, both in their own respective way are unsure of what the future may hold.
This past Saturday I attended the Baccalaureate Brunch put on by University Ministries at UPC to honor and celebrate graduating seniors. The INN, a college-aged ministry at UPC, is one that I have been attending throughout my four years at UW and has become a community that I have loved for its character, mission, values, and most importantly its people. Being in the latter group of the aforementioned graduates, this period of transition has been challenging and hard to accept, especially for someone who loves plans, productivity and anything opposite of rest. But its in these past few months that I am honing in on how and what this critical period means; and I must give a huge thank you to Ryan for sharing these small but much-needed words of wisdom.
Don’t manufacture feelings to make a moment amazing.
It’s been said that social media compares our behind-the-scenes to everyone’s highlight reel, and yet we still try to create the “perfect” moment. Emotions are insincerely felt to fit the occasion and we become so consumed with comparing our own lives that we forget to appreciate all that we are in the moment we have, whether that is being newly-hired for Microsoft or McDonald’s, or just enjoying brunch with our parents talking about the weather. The reality is that not every moment is spectacular, and honestly, you don’t have to act like it is. I’ve learned over the last four years (and am continuing to learn), that the days that nothing happens are just as meaningful as the day that something happens, though it may not feel like it. It is in these “boring” moments that prayer and patience become profound and we come to fully enjoy these plain, simple moments, while also expecting a greater, extraordinary moment ahead.
You have permission to be ordinary.
This struck home with me as I continue to maneuver being in limbo post-grad. When I look at other classmates around me moving to San Francisco to work at an international accounting firm or becoming financial analysts at Nordstrom, I question why I don’t have something grand and exciting lined up. And right there is my own and somewhat of society’s fault. When did successfully graduating with a college education not be enough? When did being a kind, passionate, loving daughter and friend being not be exciting? When did working at a local coffee shop serving others become less than being CEO of Google? Our lives and the expectations we have for ourselves to do better, be the biggest and the best have made mundane moments unworthy of acknowledgement, but living a life in genuine relationship with others and being fully present could not be further from the definition of “boring”. Normal should be the norm and is reality in its rawest form. Ordinary is not boring, and neither are you.
You are the one, unique, irreplicable you.
There will NEVER be another specific and uniquely created YOU. You are the only you that there will ever be! How crazy is that?!
While college degrees make us the same, what makes us different is not the degrees themselves, but what each of you will do with it to become the special, unique and irreproducible person you are meant to be. When you look back at this time in your life, there will be a small difference between not having a job for one month or three months, from starting grad school when you are 21 or 22, or from traveling around Europe for 3 weeks or 4. So for those, including myself, here’s a little inspirational perspective on all that we have waiting for us.
At age 23, Tina Fey was working at a YMCA.
At age 23, Oprah was fired from her first reporting job.
At age 24, Stephen King was working as a janitor and living in a trailer.
At age 27, Vincent Van Gogh failed as a missionary and decided to go to art school.
At age 28, J.K. Rowling was a suicidal single parent living on welfare.
At age 28, Wayne Coyne (from The Flaming Lips) was a fry cook.
At age 30, Harrison Ford was a carpenter.
At age 30, Martha Stewart was a stockbroker.
At age 37, Ang Lee was a stay-at-home-dad working odd jobs.
Julia Child released her first cookbook at age 49.
Vera Wang failed to make the Olympic figure skating team, didn’t get the Editor-in-Chief position at Vogue, and designed her first dress at age 40.
Stan Lee didn’t release his first big comic book until he was 38.
Alan Rickman gave up his graphic design career to pursue acting at age 42.
Samuel L. Jackson didn’t get his first movie role until he was 41.
Morgan Freeman landed his first MAJOR movie role at age 52.
Kathryn Bigelow only reached international success when she made The Hurt Locker at age 57.
Grandma Moses didn’t begin her painting career until age 76.
Louise Bourgeois wasn’t featured in the Museum of Modern Art until she was 71.
Whatever your dream is, it is not too late to achieve it. You aren’t a failure because you haven’t found fame and fortune by the age of 21. Hell, it’s okay if you don’t even know what your dream is yet. Even if you’re flipping burgers, waiting tables or answering phones today, you never know where you’ll end up tomorrow.
Never tell yourself you’re too old to make it.
Never tell yourself you missed your chance.
Never tell yourself that you aren’t good enough.
You can do it. Whatever it is.
So to answer your questions: Do I know what I am going to do after graduation? Nope. Do I know what I am doing this summer? Not a clue. Do I know where I will be living? Can’t say. Do I know where I want to work or what career I want to have? Not exactly. I don’t even know what I am having for dinner. But you know what? That’s all okay.
“One life on this earth is all that we get, whether it is enough or not enough, and the obvious conclusion would seem to be that at the very least we are fools if we do not live it as fully and bravely and beautifully as we can.” ~ Frederick Buechner
Yes, I know what you’re thinking- I was just in Europe. But cheap roundtrip tickets and the annual father-daughter spring break trip and me having finished college and spring in Seattle being rainy and well… is there more explanation needed?
If seeing the world and eating good food isn’t enough to make you want to travel in the slightest, I’d say making friends from all around the world make the act of travel a worthwhile triple threat. As trip number six with dad got underway, this trip was especially fun as Alex and Amber, two very close friends I made on my semester abroad in Milan, joined us for the week.
Rather than recount our adventures day by day, I thought I’d take a little different approach by sharing the highlights of our trip categorized by city (so bear with me).
At the start of Germany’s famed Romantic Road, our first stop was in Wurzburg. Completely destroyed after WWII, this old Franconian city located on the Main River has been rebuilt as a vibrant cultural center and is the capital to one of Germany’s most important wine-producing regions. It’s most impressive Baroque and Rococo architecture is reflected in its main sights like the Royal Residenz, St. Mary’s Chapel in Marktplatz and the Marienburg Fortress. While you can take a taxi up to the top of the latter, our delicious and authentic German lunch at Weinhaus Stachel gave us the energy to walk across the Alte Mainbrucke (Old Main Bridge) and hike to the top of the fortress for spectacular views over the Old City.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber
Next on the Romantic Road, this fairytale-like city is the epitome of German cuteness. Within it’s preserved walls is a picturesque town with colorful, characteristic buildings reminiscent of a quintessential German postcard (Not to mention it’s named after me!). If it couldn’t get any more adorable, make sure to check out Käthe Wohlfahrt’s year-round Christmas shop that has thousands of ornaments, decorations, carousels and holiday decor to delight—and possibly overwhelm— any Christmas lover, tourist, and kid. After this family-friendly stop, finish up your visit with a local schneeball treat to top off that holiday high.
Side note: there are multiple Rothenburgs so make sure you have the correct one typed into your search bar so that you don’t go to the wrong one.
The capital of Bavaria and home to the little known Oktoberfest, I was excited to go to Munich, especially being that it was everyone’s first time and there being so much of the city to be explored. One of my happiest places is at farmers markets so our sunny Saturday morning started with a walk around the Viktualienmarkt, a local and lively center for fresh produce, gourmet products, and the perfect spot for grabbing a bite to eat, relaxing and enjoying the day amongst friendly faces. For a breathtaking (both in effort and result) sight of the city and close to the market, hike up some 300 steps of St. Peter’s Church to the top for a panoramic view that includes some of Munich’s top sights like the Frauenkirche, the Marienplatz, and New Town Hall set among beautiful Alps in the background. Note the small entrance fee and specific opening hours to plan accordingly.
To see as much as Munich as possible with the time we had, we did the typical tourist thing via sightseeing buses around the city. One of my favorite parts in Munich was the English Garden, which is one of the largest parks in the world and the first public park in Europe. Apart from its own natural beauty, this park offers an array of activities like cycling or horseback riding through its many paths, surfing on the Eisbach river, sipping on tea at the Japanese teahouse, enjoying a beer in one of the many beer gardens, or even going “au naturel”, to entertain and delight anyone that spends time on its luscious green fields. A pleasant surprise full of fresh air and liveliness in the middle of the city, I definitely recommend it to anyone visiting Munich to explore, to people watch, to relax and enjoy a sunny day.
While finding beer and bratwurst is no hard task in Germany, Zum Augustiner has multiple locations around the city that gives a no-frills, typical German food and drink experience. I’ll admit right here that I am not a fan of either beer or bratwurst or really typical German food for that matter, but I can sacrifice taste for a fun night with friends and family.
Close in population to Milan, Munich has that small community in a large city kind of feel. A weekend in Munich is certainly not enough time to see or do everything, but it was still nice to get a little taste of all it has to offer.
A sunny stop on our way west, Freiburg is a university town with iconic bächle —small streams of water running alongside the city’s streets — and has lots of cozy cafes, scenic surroundings and relaxed ambiance to highlight its high quality of life for tourists and locals alike. Known as the “Jewel of the Black Forest”, Freiburg is famous for its sunny weather and has a reputation for being a very environmentally and family friendly city.
At the northern foot of the Alps lies this Central European lake, also known as the Bodensee, that borders Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. Meadows, vineyards, orchards and beaches making up Lake Constance’s landscape only emphasize how massive and majestic this body of water is. Lakeside towns and charismatic villages, such as Überlingen, Meersburg and Lindau, all have their own charm and appeal for going around the lake by foot, car, or ferry on a warm sunny day.
On the south shore of the river north of Konstanz is the island of Mainau, a garden island graced with giant sequoias, millions of flowers, a 150 year-old arboretum, castle, and butterfly house, whose natural beauty mesmerizes with color and character. It’s a very family-friendly place with lots of areas to roam for both adults and kids, though take into account the opening hours based off of season and weather and moderately-priced entrance fee to enjoy it to the fullest.
Historically and culturally one of western’s Europe’s most enchanting rivers, the Rhine River has its history as one of the most important waterways. Along its winding path are hillside castles and palaces high above story-book villages hugged by lush, terraced vineyards, quick to captivate and romance all who visit.
Always wanting to treat his girls like princesses, my dad booked us in the Romantik Hotel Schoss Rheinfels that has a sensational location, great food, and stunning view of the Rhine below. It is integrated into the historic Castle Rheinfels which is open for exploring and roaming the grounds. On the other side of the river, which can be crossed by ferry, in the small village of Hattenheim is the Hotel and Weinhaus Zum Krug. This family-run establishment’s friendly staff, historic building, and absolutely fantastic restaurant is a special treat for all who stay, including us.
Heidelberg is Germany’s oldest university town in southwestern Germany with an impressive baroque Old Town, beautiful riverside setting, and captivating castle ruins, which draws millions of visitors every year. It also has a rich literary history and complimentary scene that involves authors, bookshops, publishing houses and festivals year round, naming it a UNESCO City of Literature. Discover alleyways filled with little boutiques, cafes, galleries, and restaurants or take a walk along the riverfront to partake in the hidden treasures of Heidelberg. Less than an hour away from Frankfurt makes Heidelberg a great day trip or stop on any Germany itinerary.
Alsace & the Wine Route: The Alsace region between the Rhine river and Vosges mountains has both French and German roots due to the switching of rule between both. While now under French rule, it still has many strong German influences and it’s this rich history that interests so many. It is one of the most beautiful regions of France for its architecture and most famous for its world-class wine production. From the sommeliers to your average tourist, the Alsace Wine Route combines the best of both worlds, leading visitors through vine-covered hills and picturesque villages with experiencing the natural beauty and tastes of the region.
Riquewihr: This quaint medieval, Alsatian town along the Wine Trail is classified as one of the “most beautiful villages in France” and definitely lives up to its title. Its half-timbered houses set within vine-covered city walls and world-famous Riesling are just a few reasons people are drawn to this wonderful and romantic city. Spring brings sight of fresh flowers and pastel-colored Easter decorations while the magic of Christmas takes over the holiday season, which attract many tourists throughout the year. Our lovely stay at La Maison d’Amèlie was the perfect location from grabbing some frog legs at the all frog restaurant La Grenouille followed by a delicious dinner at La Grappe d’Or and going to bed with sweet dreams of the sweet city.
Colmar: Known as the capital of the Alsatian wine region, this city’s charm can be attributed to its quality architecture along traditional cuisine, delightful floral displays, and cozy country village atmosphere. Take a stroll down the streets lined with shops and boutiques full of local, Alsatian products, walk alongside the peaceful river in “Little Venice” (La Petit Venise), or be enchanted by the sparkling lights of its Christmas market during the holiday season. In addition, Colmar is just a short distance away from cities like the more popular Strasbourg, which is home to a range of European Institutions and the oldest Christmas market in France.
As all good things must come to an end, all “hallo”s must eventually end with a goodbye, and just like that our long, anticipated trip number six was put in the records. But with all things,
“It’s not a goodbye, it’s just a see you later”.
This quote is quite familiar to me as I’ve realized life consists of many new hellos too soon turned into goodbyes, but this trip reminded me that there is “good” in the goodbye and that “later” means taking place after the expected time. Sometimes it’s four months, sometimes its 46 years, but no matter how much time the later is, its the good that you make in the memories with the people that mean the most to you that makes the “good” timeless. That good can carry you far past the later so that when that next “see you” happens, its like you weren’t even expecting it.
Those words echoed through my mind as I packed up my plastic bins packed with too much junk, closed the trunk on my high school years, and headed off into the big girl world of college. My eagerness ran wild with images of how my picture perfect dorm room would be decorated, all the new friends I would make, the tough but worthwhile classes for my pre-determined major, and how I would live up to that attainable phrase within the first month of college.
Then there was change.
I started college. And everything I was thought I was “supposed” to do, be, experience; the complete opposite happened. I became weak in so many areas; educationally, mentally, physically, and emotionally. All those ideas of college “heaven” went to hell. I was at my lowest of lows.
Then there was change.
Before I knew it, the moments I constantly wished away from my memory started changing. I started becoming better, doing better, slowly but surely getting the hang of classes, communities, the Seattle culture and this whole college life. And every time I did fall or fail, I learned to get up faster and fiercer. Happiness went from completely non-existent to something I came to be familiar with and accepting of. As fast as I was trying to run to the end, my heels slowly started digging their way into the dirt.
Because this is change.
College is not a place, an educational institution, a building, or the name of a school. Rather, it’s a time, its a phase, right between adolescence and adulthood, where transformation occurs in the deepest places of your being, without even realizing it. All those words of wisdom; that you’ll meet your best friends, that you’ll make mistakes, and that you’ll “find who you are”, in the least cheesy way possible, are all absolutely true. For me, all those things did happen, but not in the way I had or could ever imagine.
So, has it been the best four years of my life? That depends what your definition of “best” is. To me, I’m not so sure. Because not every moment ever is or was daisies. But was it the most challenging, faith-growing, experiential, self-discovering, world-traveling, lesson-learning, joy-filled-moments four years of my life? That I can say, with absolute certainty, yes.
While this is not an extensive list, looking back on the blink of four years, I thought I’d share some of my “best four” in the last four years….
Being accepted into the Foster School of Business
Running (and completing) my first half-marathon
Getting to be an exchange student in Milan, Italy
Graduating (!!! …am I jinxing it by writing this now?)
1. Sleeping under the stars in the Moroccan desert: On my exchange semester, I went a bit out of my comfort zone and travelled to Morocco with who I now consider some of my closest friends. In the middle of the night, we trekked through the cool, fine sand up to the top of one of the hundreds of dunes and watched the stars light up the wide expanse of what seemed like never-ending Saharan desert. Being completely removed from the world, with nothing but the sky and the stars, I felt swallowed by the universe, but filled with an overwhelming sense of peace. How little and scrawny I am in this big, big world, but how massive and wonderful is God. I am just a tiny speck in God’s huge universe, yet He knows each of us individually, intimately and as specifically as the grains of sand I was sitting on. God is so much bigger, so much greater than all we know. Out of all this, the greatest Power calls each and every one of us His, all we have to do is sit in awe of His majesty, His grace and His love.
2. Meeting Daniel in Peru: While traveling with my parents, something so iconic in our three musketeer dynamic, we came to Peru as three, and left as four. On our way back from Machu Picchu, we sat next to a nice young man on the train; first a stranger, hours later a friend, and now what we would all consider family. All around the world, despite different languages, different religions, beliefs, histories, cultures, there are people. People full of joy, full of love, full of weakness and struggles, full of hopes, and interests and stories, all as similar as we are different. We are all humans, all living beings meant and created to be in relationship with each other. At the root of it all, we are all made up of skin, bones, and a heart, and we get to add whoever we want to add to our family. Fast forward one more year and two visits in two countries later with Daniel, and I am grateful not only for the family I was born with, but for the family I have met, made, and get to continue making as I continue on this new phase of my life.
3. Going to Canada with Makayla: There is something to be said about going new places, making new friends, and yet not forgetting where you came from. Not everyone has had the blessings I have had to grow up in such a privileged home and solid community, but it is really those few, quality friends that I cannot help but be grateful for. This trip with one of my best friends wasn’t just one of my favorites because of the trip itself. Heck, we’ve been to Ireland together and I still choose this trip over that one, the reason being not because of where I was, but who I was with, the sense of home and depth of this friendship to take along with. Having each other as a foundation, through times of strength and weakness, success and failure, happiness and mourning, and not giving up despite our distance, makes friendships like this that much more special to me and something I will hold onto far beyond these four years.
4. Finishing my capstone class: I’m not even sure how this one made the list, but it does. Technically, the definition of this class was “a required capstone course that challenges teams of students to develop and present a viable solution to a Seattle-based business on a current strategy issue”. In my mind, it was a class that I spent more time sending GIFs and laughing at stupid jokes with my team than actually listening to or, I’ll admit, caring about anything going on. Despite making it to semi-finals in the case competition (Go team!), that wasn’t the actual victory. Rather, the true victory was the connections I made, not only in this team, but over my four years at UW that span a wide variety of communities, cultures, and camaraderies. I’ve learned and laughed with many, and every single person has taught me so much. They’ve taught me little things like how to use Google Docs like a pro, to bigger things like not taking life too seriously. Looking back, when I think of whether or not the University of Washington was the right choice for me, I am reminded of all the opportunities I have had to meet all the amazing and talented people I have met, which leaves me with more skills, more friends, and more memories than I had upon entering.
In the end, college was never about the grades or the midterms, the efficiency, the events, dare I say the places or the meals, but the people. Not just the people, but the friendships, the relationships, anyone and everyone that has become a part of my family. Honestly, I could go on forever about all the things that have shaped me in the last four years, but then it would probably be another four years by the time I finished that list. With my last four days of classes left ahead, I am now faced with the inevitable question: “What now?”