2022: Everything’s OK

What was the best moment that could serve as proof that everything is going to be alright? And how will you incorporate that discovery into the year ahead?

In 2021, it was all the small moments that validates that I’ll be fine even if it was a tiered rejection letter. In 2020, it was when a product leader called attention to the quality of my work. In 2019, it was when I left my job and when Chris comforted me that we are ok. In 2018, it was realizing my own qualities. In 2017, it was giving advice in hopes of inspiring others. In 2016, it was the moment that when immersed in the election aftermath that anything could change. In 2015, it was the moment when I realized that I could finish Ice Cream Travel Guide. In 2014, it was when I wrote a well-crafted piece (that I read to a live audience 11 months later). In 2013, it was when light shone in the face of despair. In 2012, it was when I stood up for myself. In 2011, it was a moment of clarity, sincere belief and friendship. In 2010, it was an action of commitment.

It was the moment that my plan (or really my hopes for the year) started happening. Partly, it was when I was invited to do a part-time job with people that I had admired forever. Then it was being invited to a speak at an international conference (and was surprised that it was fully supported). Then it was being invited to not just one, not just two, but three writing workshops during the summer. There were other little things along the way too.

In the past year, I reflected on the fact that I had built a foundation so that the year wouldn’t be bad. Because of those things that I had planned, if I had not set them in motion from the previous years with intentions, the year could have just been bad. With two medical stuffs. With swirling bad stuff all around us, it could have just been a very bad year. With other things that happened out of bad luck, it could have just been a bad year. (Although in some perspectives, that could have been any year!) But I was fine. Chris is fine.

Of course, if you look at that foundation, it is due to privilege. I have a huge safety net, not only financially, but socially. I was buoyed by the fact that if I failed, it was fine. I was going to survive. And in that respect, I took the risks because failure was actually an option and it would be a soft landing.

If you look at where I was last year, I am about in the same place. I have rarely or probably never backslided. and it’s all subjective if I moved forward. Failure is probably more about self-destructive behavior. And it’s not that at all. I will make it!

2022: Next Step

When it comes to aspirations, it’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen. What’s your next step?

In 2010, it was about dream making. In 2011, it was about sticking to my boundaries. In 2012, it was about being true. In 2013, it was about embracing fear. In 2014, it was sitting my butt down and writing. In 2016, it was about leading. In 2017, it was about persistence. In 2018, it was about seeing the big picture. In 2019, it was about moving on (on my own terms). In 2020, it was about valuing the things (and people) I love. In 2021, it was about deciding the next thing.

My next step is about executing. I did all the things this year to lay the foundation or so I hope. I got my novel going, with some momentum. I got a new job with clear interest, not like tepid interest and it seems like good people. I got people around me that I trust. So quite naturally, it’s about using the foundation to get me closer to where I want to go.

I hope that I will actually finish the next draft and get ready to send it out. Then do the thing with the job with satisfaction and grow the way I want to grow and not feel defined by what they want. And of course, lean into my community and fall less into those fatalistic moments.

Earlier this year, a mentor suggested that I really relish the community, that I am almost need it. I balked at her comment, because I didn’t think that I need people. But I realize that it’s not that I need them, I can do almost all these things on my own. But I do better with them. I do better if I have a community around me for accountability, for validation, and for care. I am not giving person, admittingly, but I am a receiving person. So yeah, I am ready to receive and reach my goals.

2022: Moments

Imagine you will completely lose your memory of 2022 in five minutes. Set an alarm for five minutes and capture the things you most want to remember about 2022.

2021 5 minutes, 2020 5 minutes, 2019 5 minutes, 2018 5 minutes, 2017 5 minutes, 2016 5 minutes, 2015 5 minutes, 2014 5 minutes, 2013 5 minutes, 2012 5 minutes, 2011 5 minutes, and 2010 5 minutes

Sometimes I wonder if this is my favorite end-of-the-year entry…

  • Riding around Amsterdam on bike
  • Speaking at UX Insights Festival in Breda and getting paid/comped to do that
  • Flying business class to Amsterdam
  • Not sleeping in first class back from Amsterdam
  • Having that incredible delay to Amsterdam
  • Attending Kenyon writers workshop
  • Attending Tin House writers workshop
  • Attending Rooted and Written workshop
  • Publishing the Sisterhood podcast and writing
  • Finally getting that forthcoming essay published
  • Getting so much of my novel done
  • Visiting Sedona and doing so many hikes
  • Eating that peach pizza in Sedona
  • Spending time with Jakobe, aka babysitting and he seemed to enjoy it
  • That pregnancy thing
  • That breast thingie
  • Telling a coach that I had all these things planned for the summer
  • And then being told, wait really?
  • Enduring that tornado storm in Ohio
  • Getting a free stay in Seattle on the way back from Ohio
  • Getting the new RAV4 with no markup!
  • Having not one but two fancy anniversary dinners
  • Birthday celebration, my 40th!, at Swanton Berry Farm with yo lady!
  • Doing a holiday video so late
  • Seeing Chris happy with his coworkers
  • Seeing Everything Everywhere All At Once
  • Still masking! And not catching covid, despite all those things
  • Being told that things from my novel really were that good
  • Joining the Ruby
  • Doing the ice cream thing at that fundraiser

2022: Making

What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it?

In 2010, I made xmas photo. In 2011, I made metaphorical thingsthat were intentionally symbolic of relationships and history. In 2012, I made ice cream. In 2013, I made design. In 2014, I made “my room”. In 2015, I made the last line of Ice Cream Travel Guide, literally. In 2016, I made my annual holiday video. In 2017, I made another annual holiday video. In 2018, I made scones (from the Tartine cookbook)! In 2019, I made another holiday video! In 2020, I made some minor things (a chapter and writing prompts), but of course the biggest thing was the annual holiday video! In 2021, it was of course annual holiday video, which was built on little videos that I had made throughout the year.

This year, of course, it was the annual video. But I guess in some way, this year, although it was emerging from the pandemic, there were some things that kept us from being the most creative. Even though I attended all these workshops and classes. So much of that momentum had come from previous years. So it made the year better than it could have been. All that pent up energy during the pandemic.

The annual video though was a rush in the last 24 hours—although I had conceptualized it for several weeks. Something about disastrous stories about couples had intrigued me a lot. Especially with the recent TV show of Fleishman is in Trouble. Although the book came out in 2019, it really highlighted the current times—the way that women are perceived, the way that women are assumed to be hysterical, the way that women even white women are seen as the bully, and of course, motherhood.

There was always a thrill toward the end in the making, but not as much as before. The energy to create something so tight, so perfect, so well-acted, so orchestrated always feels near impossible. Sometimes I wonder if we would ever make the next one. How could we? I barely have the production software, much less the production skills. What captures the 2022 essence? It’s so impossible to know.

But in all, there was this feeling of wanting to bake for people. I miss it always. I miss the desire to host, to create things for people, to make them feel welcome. Maybe if the weather cooperates, we’ll have the brunch together again!

2022: One Moment

Moment. Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail.

In 2021, it was all moments after I finished creating something like after the initial Weddin video. In 2020, it was the moment(s) when I was creating. In 2019, it was the moment that I realized that he was actually…alive and whole. In 2018, it was the moment that we realized that the car would start. In 2017, it was the moment (or moments) that I deeply connected with a group I had just met at a conference where I thought I would have been antisocial (or just horribly socially anxious). In 2016, it was the moment that I felt in the flow in telling the story of Ice Cream Travel Guide. In 2015, it was the moments after my hat was “stolen” in Rio. In 2014, it was a moment in a writing workshop that I had achieved greatness. In 2013, it was talking to Yasar Usta in Istanbul. In 2012, it was using the ocean as a “big toilet” while floating outside Palawan. In 2011, it was my birthday moment. In 2010, it was the success in Journey to the End to the Night.

So I had think back in all my moments. I scroll through all my photos of the year. Because yes, I knew that I did a lot of stuff—those writing workshops, giving a talk in the Netherlands, reading my work, etc. All of it, but as I scrolled, I remembered the many moments when insecurity and loneliness would overwhelm me. Despite the fact that it’s been years since high school, I still encounter moments of whether I am fitting in. I find myself standing on the borders even of spaces where I have been deliberately invited, not excluded, where the conversations are beyond me or that I just don’t get it. Of course, I can easily that in moments where I am lauded for my achievements, it’s the best. But I guess that it’s never good enough. I am not appreciating my achievements then, because of the achievement itself, but it’s almost like I used them to curry favor. It’s stupid to say it, because it’s as if I am seeking the answer to: do they like me?

But I think that it comes with the reentry into the world. The pandemic, especially the early days, allowed me to just appreciate my achievement exactly for what it was. Because there was no reason to seek affirmation, because nobody was around me.

And interestingly, as I really think back about the moment that I felt alive, it really was when I was receiving the unconditional celebration. Like all those moments in Sedona with Chris. That trip was intended to be a reprieve from those hard first few months of the year—to see my sister and her kid…and to rest. In Sedona, Chris and I hiked—something that I had always disliked, especially after doing it in Peru. But in Sedona, because everything was so short, it wasn’t too bad. I remember climbing Cathedral Rock, doing the whole walk around Airport Loop, and the others. I guess Cathedral Rock. Where we were able to climb and climb. And even though I was freaked out at some points (and definitely later too), I did it. I did it as we passed a woman who had decided to not go any further and was frozen on a plateau. I had slowly pushed my way up, maybe with some prodding. And when we reached the peak, I did the whole 360 Instagram view. It was incredible even though it was marked by all the IG filters and those things.

I felt the grandness and the serenity around me. It was a perfect trip even though it was contained to a domestic place.

2022: Letting Go

Let Go. What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why?

In 2010, it was a person. In 2011, it was an idea. In 2012, it was a symbol represented by a person. In 2013, I let go fear. In 2014, I let go of humility (or the desire to appear humble). In 2015, I let go of perfection. In 2016, I let go of expectations. In 2017, I let go of things and people I don’t need. In 2018, I let go of constant discovery. In 2019, I let go of expectations. In 2020, I let go of uncomfortable pants. In 2021, I let go of rejection.

It’s so interesting that I let go of rejection. Because whether I truly let it go, I actually encounter a lot of acceptances this year (albeit with a good share of rejections).

So I first said that I let go of expectations, but I realized that I said that in 2019. Rather as I rewrite this, it’s about the fact that I let go about feeling bad about not meeting expectations. In doing so, all I can see are the expectations that I met and I feel good about them.

Whether or not I met my own expectations, I am happy with all of it. I don’t even remember what I set out to do and didn’t achieve. I just saw something, worked toward and it may have happened…and maybe it never did. But it’s likely that I let go of feeling bad about not achieving. It’s a different kind thing than rejection. Because it encompasses things that I didn’t achieve. The most glaring one is that I still haven’t finished my next draft of my novel.

Sometimes I wonder if it’s not good that I have built up the ability to block uncomfortable things in memory. Like to process those traumatic moments out of my memory. I really don’t remember them. And because I don’t remember them, I have no feelings that linger. Or maybe they weren’t traumatic at all. I saw the rejection/inabilities and just moved on. I don’t want to linger on those things on any more.

2022: Writing

Writing. What do you do each day that doesn’t contribute to your writing and can you eliminate it?

In 2010, I said everything. In 2015, I said fear. In 2016, I said that it’s sitting down and doing it.
In 2017, I said that it was work.
In 2018, I said that it was lack of support. In 2019, it really was the lack of accountability. In 2020, I said that it was about losing my creative space to WFH, but it really was about setting time for it. In 2021, I said that it was work.

In contrast to previous years, I did so much this year in terms of writing—writing workshops, building a community, joining a community, various writing groups (I have like 4 right now). Although right now, a certain of exhaustion is catching up (and work?) is taking up my mental space. I wonder though that, at least for this month, I am worried about Chris’ wellbeing. Is he okay, I think. Will he be okay? Has he been fed? I know that it’s a trope of a female partner, but it shouldn’t be that way.

I know that if I commit myself like when I did NaNoWriMo or 1000daysofsummer, I do it. I dedicate one hour every day to making it happen. But now that I don’t have that challenge, I just let the evening just fly by. Scrolling, watching tee vee, making food, etc.

In order to get past all of that, it’s probably setting the time each day. I remember the advice that someone said—just make the time each day. But maybe it’s about creating the energy each day even if it’s not writing. I don’t believe in writing daily, but I believe in finding the inspiration every day. I need to let myself wonder and ponder. I need to let myself discover. So maybe it’s about reading something each day, a place to write down ideas, and a community to say things. Each day so much that it becomes a habit, right?

2022: One Word

One Word. Encapsulate the year in one word. Explain why you’re choosing that word. Now, imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2022 for you?

From years past: 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010

The one word that captures this year:

Last year, I thought this word’s year would be optimism. And it was in some way. But more than that, I believed that manifested many things. There’s something about outlining hopes and dreams at the beginning of the year. Although I wasn’t exactly creating a whole plan, I believed in each goal and activity so much that it must have been embodied in me.

I wanted a new meaningful job, which I found. I wanted to attend writing workshops and submit work. Did it. I wanted to put more energy in my novel. Done. I wanted to speak at a conference. Done. I wanted to meet people outside of the people I know. Done. And so on and on.

The year started with an incredible stumble, but I survived. I guess you could say that I was at the bottom and the only direction was up. The goals I set for myself weren’t so hard as I had achieved them in small ways previously. But I really made it all happen. Even though I didn’t LOVE every minute.

A coach asked me at the beginning of the year asked me what I planned to do after leaving that job. I listed all of those things. Her reaction was surprise. All of that, she asked. Yes, I said, I will probably do all of them. She paused and said, thank you for letting me come on your journey. I thought that it was annoying, because I would never list all of those things if I wasn’t going to do them. But the thing that people often don’t get about me is that I won’t love those things. I constantly have to make sure that it’s something that I will enjoy and not do it just because I said I would. Although if I reflect back, it’s about reframing those opportunities into something greater, because there’s always a benefit for all of them.

So I hope the next year will be more of the same—with maybe a more thoughtful diligence. There’s a part of me that wants to drop everything that dragged me down. But FOMO comes back, because in the things that I dislike, there’s light. I am not going to sacrifice myself for others. I don’t believe in solipsism, but I will have to make sure that things are still for me.

Next year then: Connection.

I want to build more meaningful relationships. I had envisioned myself building a community, but after some observation this year and reflection, I realize that I don’t have in it. The community building aspect. So maybe it’s about the skill? Or maybe it’s just not me. Like so many people, I just want to belong.

2022: Travel

Now with that whole burnout recovery, I traveled. And did that whole summer of writing!

How did you travel in 2022? How and/or where would you like to travel next year?

In 2021, the second year of the pandemic, we stayed locally although did jet to Hawaii. In 2020, in the first year of the pandemic, I stayed local and only went to a few overnight destinations within a few hours of a drive—one before the pandemic (so it doesn’t count) and down to Central California. In 2019, I made a big trip to Japan and many domestic trips to Phoenix, Portland, and New York. In 2018, I traveled very domestically, mostly local for retreats in Ukiah, Scotts Valley, and Big Sur. Then San Diego for a work thing. And a trip to Squaw Valley. And a crazy long adventure through Chicago and New York. In 2017, I traveled to Minnesota for work, LA twice for “fun”, Las Vegas for a not-so-good fun, and Thailand/Myanmar! Also somehow forgot to mention Cincinnati for MidwestUX! And did I forgot to mention Phoenix? In 2016, I traveled to Finland/Sweden for my first big speaking gig, Portland for a “bachelorette” party, road trip to LA for my sister’s wedding, and Minnesota for work. In 2015, I went to Brazil for a conference, multiple work trips, and a midwest trip. In 2014, I went on multiple weekend trips, increased business trips, and found a destination for ice cream and writing. In 2013, I finished off the bulk of the travel for the Ice Cream Travel Guide. In 2012, I started the journey of a life and went to what I thought was unfathomable (in my life) — six domestic destinations and eight international destinations — for professional and personal reasons. In 2011, I went on one international trip, one domestic…and one super local. In 2010, I went on one international trip and multiple domestic trips.

In 2022, I traveled to:

  • Arizona! First to Sedona for vaccay where we actually HIKED and enjoyed it. Partly because it was nice to see Chris tackling things and maybe a part obsession with Instagrammable moments. And how a holiday can be enjoyable if cool. Then to Gilbert (Phoenix Metro) to visit my sister/Jakobé. We were tasked with babysitting Jakobé which taught me exactly what it’s like to parent (it’s hard!) I have to say that masking was like…less than ideal
  • Netherlands. The impetus was giving a talk at UX Insights Festival. Then I essentially built a trip around it. Seems like anything that I wish into the world (get paid for a talk!) can happen. First, Breda and its sleepy town. Then several days in Amsterdam for touristy moments from cycling to museum hopping.
  • Gambier in Ohio, near Columbus. Kenyon Summer Writing Workshop! So amazing (but also it made me super cautious about covid…which is associated with my social anxiety. Also stopped by Columbus to see Lisa.
  • Portland. For Tin House…finally in-person after having done it online in 2020. It was very good re: covid so I was thrilled and safe in some way. But my social anxiety kicked up in the awful ways.
  • Didn’t get a chance to do New York. But did make it to Arizona and most importantly to a summer writing workshop. And somewhere for fun. AND definitely didn’t go anywhere for work.

    Next year? Well I definitely hope New York for a summer writing workshop. Would like to go just for fun, but I can’t justify it. I had thought about going to Seattle for AWP in March, but it just seems…too much? Fortunately with my current job, I don’t have to travel anywhere (yay!) Considering the limited vacation, I don’t know where exactly I can go, but maybe somewhere locally—Tahoe perhaps?

    2022: Entertainment

    2022. I remember when my sister said it’s…2020 TWO. Like the sequel. Almost, but definitely not at all.

    I recounted the most impactful entertainment pieces for me in 2014. Then I did it again for 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021.

    Movies I Saw

    Still hesitant to go to a theater, BUT I saw THINGS. Even if it’s later on streaming

    • NOPE
    • Everything Everywhere All At Once
    • Bodies Bodies Bodies
    • Prey
    • Blue Island (only because it’s about Hong Kong)

    TV Shows I Watched

    • Euphoria
    • Succession
    • The Bear
    • The Rehearsal
    • Severance

    Books I Read

    • Dept. of Speculation
    • Cat Person and Other Stories
    • Friday Black
    • Dictee (only because it’s like I discovered so many decades later)
    • The School for Good Mothers

    Ways to Pass the Time

    • Setting writing challenges for myself even though it shouldn’t matter
    • Browsing recipes on NYT recipe app and dreaming about what to make next with what I have
    • Cleaning???
    • Going down a rabbit hole on a movie or tv show, which actually is soothing
    • Thinking of ways to keep up with the Joneses like buying a house


    This category, I have to admit, doesn’t amuse me as much as it used to, because sometimes the technology just sucks and doesn’t get to the point of actual need.

    • BeReal (after quitting IG, I wanted to see what all the young people do and this was that, but I don’t really want to get that deep)
    • AI-generated work, but I still have yet to do it on my own photos as not to skirt the ethical line of crediting real artists
    • ADPList, for better or worse
    • Teams (at least for the ONLY good thing like chat actually stays!)
    • Rediscovering how to use Miro/Mural in a way that I didn’t think to do previously