29 August 2011

18 Days in New York

18 Days in New York
has meant

hot piping thin pizza
bagels with cream cheese
sweat soaked exhaustion
dreaming in map terms and streets and stops

I have fallen in love with city parks

blunt straight talk
friendly passerby
cute hipster bakeries and pies

longed for home
longed for a home here

20 July 2011

I breathe

I let go
I laugh, I chat
I breathe
I let go
I stop trying so hard
I am in the moment
The moment is me
I am me
It's that simple
and that hard

13 July 2011

Summer is Passing and New Things are Here

Hullo.  It's been so long since we last talked!

May, June, July proved to be challenging months of discernment that left me needing a private space to contemplate and be.  Somehow, blogging was too loud, and I needed things to be as quiet and veiled as possible.

Big changes are coming up.  I'm moving to New York City.  I'm leaving my job.  I'm becoming a graduate student.  And I'm beginning to look forward to the fruit of seeds planted long ago.

I ask for your thoughts and well wishes in this time.  In many ways, I have not been ready for this move and for these changes in my life but it seems that the way has kept opening in this way and the universe is saying take a risk, move beyond your fears, say yes even if this isn't exactly the process you had hoped for.

I'm taking courage as much as I can.  I even heard a good friend tell me, Fake it till you make it.  I'll be taking that to heart too.  Faking the person that I want to be until I become that person.  Confident.  Hopeful.  Grateful.  Optimistic.  Adventurous.  Fearless.

I love you all who've been with me on this wee blog journey and hope to keep you posted in the weeks ahead.

Thank you.

02 May 2011

Summer is here!

Snippets, pieces, thoughts, and fragments.  It's Monday! 

Happy Birthday to my talented and compassionate brother Sam who was born on May 1.  Sam continues to inspire me and has become a good friend in the last several years.  I'm so glad to be part of his life.  May you grow in peace, wisdom, vision, and see the fruit of your labors this year.

Yesterday, J. and I went down to Laguna Beach to lounge in the sun and boy, was the sun fierce and hot.  Hello SUMMER!!!  It was an absolute treat to sit and take naps and wade in the ice cold Pacific waters and let the sand sift through my fingers.  J. actually got sunburned.

When it's really hot and you are thirsty, this can really hit the spot.  I like the one with pulp.

Do something new with your hair.  Twist up the top layers and pin it poofy to the side.  It will be fun.  It works well on Day 3 or 4.

Saturday, I helped celebrate my dear friend Lydia's bridal shower.  We had an afternoon tea under a gorgeous tree tied with pink and purple tissue paper flowers on its branches and bright yellow tablecloths with an eclectic mix of vintage tea cups and plates.  We had tea sandwiches, made couture bridal gowns from toilet paper, won prizes and talked babies.  It was quite glorious in all its feminine coziness.

I just read a short fiction piece by Stephen King in the Atlantic, May 2011 issue called "Herman Wouk is Still Alive."  It was quite a wonderful morning read!  King takes a fictional news article reporting a car accident with 9 dead and writes the back story of the people involved. I'm inspired to try taking a news article and doing the same for practice writing a story.

J. got a volume of the complete works of Kenneth Rexroth this weekend and started reading poetry out loud at our home, while I'm falling asleep, when we are at the beach, at the end of a serious conversation.  At first I'd say, "What, right now?  I'm not in the mood for poetry."  And he'd give me this look like, C'MON.  And I would begrudgingly say, Fine, go ahead and read some (even though I'm totally not in the mood).  And you know what I realized?  To enjoy poetry, to be receptive to hearing it means Letting Go.  It means frankly, just letting go of the need to be in control and to be open to hearing something even if it doesn't make sense, even if you feel like you don't have the energy to listen closely, even if it means wandering in your thoughts and thinking about Prince William and Princess Kate and horse-drawn carriages.  Listening to poetry is teaching me ironically,  to stop being so hyperattentive or feeling like I need t be hyperattentive, to just let the words wash over me, trusting in the subconscious, and to relax.  It's going to be ok.  The world is not going to fall apart if I don't get things.  And this morning, when I did my morning pages on the train, writing from my stream of subconscious, I noticed in a most curious and delightful way the ways in which my words fell down on to the page like poetry with cadence and rhythm and line breaks and swerved and plummetted and lifted into different directions and paths and surprised me with their wisdom and beauty.  Stunning.

May you experience poetry in your words and visions today.  It all makes sense in the intangible way.

25 April 2011

a personal retreat: It's not about what you do, it's how you live

This past weekend, I decided to listen to my heart and go on a personal retreat in Montecito (Santa Barbara).  It was the perfect gift to myself, a way to embrace my darkness and experience my rebirth with Easter.  If you've never been to the Immaculate Heart Center for Spiritual Renewal, go.  It's quite a find.

As soon as I walked into my room with the antique furniture, hardwood floors, and mustard colored curtains, I felt at home.  The walls were covered in original artwork by Corita Kent, the screenprinting artist who inspired me to make my own posters.

I opted to stay in the main house which is a turn of the century estate manor with beautiful architectural details.  Meals were provided, the kitchen was up for use, and Theresa, the chef, made the most incredible wholesome organic meals according to your dietary restrictions.  It was like Chez Panisse meets retreat center with a whole lot of hand made love.  At one point in my stay, I popped a Hershey's special dark chocolate nugget into my mouth and ran to the trash can to spit it out because it tasted so fake.  The food at the center had ruined my palette in a most wondrous way.  One of the highlights was the homemade granola in the mornings--it was so nutty and chewy and mindblowing--I didn't know granola could taste that good.  At dinners, I couldn't help laughing when I would take my first bite of dessert because it was so amazing.  Larry, one of the other retreatants, would break into a laugh too, and we would just look at each other in disbelief.  When I called J. to tell him about my time, he said, "Stay another day if you can.  It sounds like heaven."

I sat at my desk for many hours, journaling, reading, writing and praying.  I took hikes in the San Ysidro trails.  I met with a spiritual director, walked the labrynth, sat by the fountain, and had communal dinners with other retreatants.

Montecito was lush and green and in the mornings, the marine layer would sprinkle mist on you as you walked up the hills.  As I walked up the dirt hiking paths and heaved into the trees and rocks, I became transformed.   I was so anxious and worried about making the right decision and feeling utterly befuddled and heartbroken and discouraged by my inability to see what to do and as I hiked, the books I had brought with me, the words my spiritual director had spoken to me, my own prayers--they converged and hit me.  I realized I had been so focused on what to do with my life that I had completely forgotten how to live.  A mantra emerged--It's not what you do, it's how you live.  As I started to think about how I wanted to live, with joy, with authenticity, with creativity, and with lightheartedness and humour, a path cleared before me.  I asked myself, "Where am I being invited to be authentic?  Where am I being invited to be creative?  Where am I being invited to take courage?" And in an instant, I knew.   It was an experience of grace.

 J. asked me when I came back, "So, you made a decision, huh?" And I said, "It's not so much that I made a decision.  It's more like I just came into being."  I suppose some of the best decisions in life happen that way.  You live into them.  You find simply, that that is where you are.  In gratitude for wisdom and love gained, may you find what you are looking for this week.  xo, h.

19 April 2011

Today's Blessings

A great conversation with a co-worker on learning how to be true to yourself in the workplace and navigate complex interpersonal relationships.  Best takeaway question:  What do you need to do to move forward? 
Another great quote:  What do you need to do to own your own soul and not let an organization or someone else own your soul?

Homemade Mole from Melania.  Oh my goodness.  Rich reddish brown sauce dribbling down my mouth.  Mmmmm.

A compassionate conversation with A.  She gave me wonderful listening and wisdom as well as a packet of meditation cards for self-affirmation.

A fortune cookie dessert with my lunch buddies.  Mine said, "A ship in harbor is safe, but that's not why ships are built."  How apt!

15 April 2011

Dreams change

I remember gulping when reading Mireille Giuliano in Women, Work & the Art of Savoir Faire: Business Sense & Sensibility when she said something along the lines of , "Dreams change. You move on.  You get new dreams."

I used to think dreams were this true spiritual thing that never changed, that was part of our soul makup, and that we needed to achieve them no matter what in order to be true to ourselves.  I lived in fear when my dreams seemed so out of reach.  I'm learning that Guiliano was right.  Dreams do change.  And it's ok.  In fact, it's wonderful.

I've been feeling that keenly this year.  I dreamt so much of far off lands.  I wanted to be a world traveler and be a writer and live in the most beautiful French provinces with patisseries around the corner.  Of course, I'd still love to.  But strangely enough, I feel content, less afraid that I'm missing out and less eager to just pick up and leave with abandon.  And when I look back, I see that indeed I was a world traveler although it may not have been for years on end like I imagined being a world traveler to look like.  I have tromped around India, traipsed around East Asia and Southeast Asia, visited friends all around the States, lived in England, spent the most beautiful white Christmas in Norway, visited France multiple times, caravaned around South Africa, spent a week at the United Nations, and went to a glorious wedding in Italy with some of my best friends, and ate salty chips and got drunk off a shiny red goblet of le Spritz in Venice.

Through it all, I've learned a lot about myself and life.  I've learned that when it comes to the States, I am a West Coast girl at heart.  Plunk me down in any major city along the west coast and I will be incredibly happy.  Vancouver BC, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego.  I've learned that true friendships don't die even when years and distance passes by.  And I'm learning that dreams that seemed so urgent at one time can fade to contentment and new dreams can emerge.  Dreams that seem so far from anything I thought my bohemian spirit ever wanted.  Dreams that involve close family and friends, a community, being grounded in a place, and taking root.  My dreams are about creating a home and daily life that nourishes me and gives me what I need to be happy, healthy, and work on creative projects.

Funny how dreams change.  Funny beautiful.

14 April 2011


Spaciousness.  Rest.  Love.  Forgiveness.  These are the graces I ask for in my day today.

Yesterday at the train station, I found an ipad.  I looked down at my feet and there it was.  At first I thought someone must have dropped a cover but when I nudged it, it had definite heft.

I was of course, tempted, like anyone else to think maybe this was my lucky day to welcome an ipad into my life.  But when I opened it up and saw the person's name that it belonged to, I knew I needed to find a way to reunite her with it.

I emailed her and we decided to meet at the train station on my way back home.  She greeted me at the cafe with gratitude and awe and gave me a gift bag with lifesavers, two pens, and a card.  When I opened the card, she told me about how the ipad was more than just an ipad; it had been a gift given to her by a leadership development program at her work and symbolized much more.  And then she went on to praise me for my honesty and my integrity and ended by saying, you are an angel.  Along with a $50 note.

That encounter with a woman I would have never met taught me so much.  When I found that ipad, I was worried and anxious about money in particular, about scarcity and uncertainty.  And at work, I had a hard day, one of a string of hard days where praise is few and it seems like my work is constantly misunderstood.  She praised me and it felt so good to be recognized for something so simple.  It felt like the most lavish gift.  And the money--it was like a sign--that sometimes in life, we are given what we need from sources that we can never imagine.  It comes to us as gracefully and abruptly as finding an ipad by your feet.

07 March 2011

I love

Sometimes, it's just so good to write about what we love, for our souls and for our future growth.

Off the top of my head and heart:

I love...
- red shoes
- comfortable sexy shoes
- lipstick from Shu Uemura
- Bobbi Brown palettes
- California sunsets
- the sand in my toes
- shopping with a friend
- girl talk
- magazines
- a clean apartment
- healthy, delicious, home-cooked meals
- dinner parties
- flights to somewhere special
- France
- my friends in Europe
- my friends scattered across the US
- my parents and brother
- train rides
- functional accessories
- time to myself

till next time.  xoxo, h

03 March 2011

Sittin' with the Hipsters

This week, I've spent time in Hollywood, Larchmont, Silverlake, Highland Park, and of course, Echo Park.  I even got a chance to eat my fave duck noodle soup at the charming Daisy Mint in Pasadena.

Here's what I've noticed about hipsters.  They might look homeless and not quite groomed, but they will have no problem paying for expensive coffee.  They will also most likely be white and older than you think.

I feel like I've been participating in what it means to be a hipster by virtue of my job's location.  I'm not a hipster, that much is clear, but I do enjoy cute shops and nice ambience and I have to thank the hipsters for helping create those places.
- eating vegan ice cream
- drinking Intelligentsia soy cappuchino
- walking around Elysian Park
- perusing independent fashion

25 February 2011

City Sights: Food Bank

It's my third time riding the train into the city and even though I ran into a major freeway car accident, got off on the wrong exit and got lost, didn't validate my ticket for fear of missing my train, I got on and made it to L.A.  And for the first time, my bus was right there as soon as I got to the bus stop and not 40 minutes late.

There was a light sprinkle of rain and I shared the bus with lots of white haired and eager Chinese elderly that were dragging wheeled carryons and carts.  As I walked down the road to my office, I realized we were all walking in the same direction and then it hit me...they were going to the food bank.  Every friday morning, hundreds of people line up for the food bank in the parking garage of my work.  It's hosted by the Cathedral Center of St. Paul.

Maybe it's my love for food and cooking and fresh ingredients and all that that entails but when I see mountains of yellow onions and bins of cabbages and people lining up to receive a box of produce and pantry items, I am so moved.  It is free food in a hard world and though they pay by standing in long lines and many journey by bus and foot to get there, I can see their excitement.

I grabbed a mug of hot tea and walked around again and when I passed the front of the line, I saw a man sorting through his bin on the sidewalk explaining with excitement that the carton of cream of mushroom soup in his hand could make an amazing steak gravy and sauce.  I could hear them salivating.

24 February 2011

Mikah Vu Baird

I saw this baby, and I was smitten.  When my dear friends have babies, I just fall in love with them.  It's incredible--overcoming fear to bring life and love and a whole new person into the world.

Mikah is just shy of 2 weeks old.  

May you be blessed and know peace, joy, and abundance.

Welcome Mikah!  

08 February 2011

It's been a long long time

I've been thinking about you and this blog.  The last few weeks were a whirlwind.  I gave notice at my UCI job, took another job, and have started commuting to Echo Park, Los Angeles.  I'm getting used to the long drives by listening to Haruki Murakami on my ipod and tweaking with departure times.

How are you?  I'm still getting my feet on the ground.  It's been busy, tiring, new, and kind of wonderful.


21 January 2011

Write Like A

 {via therumpus.net}

Are you into advice columns?  I never was until I came upon Dear Sugar's column at therumpus.net, an online literary community  headed up by Stephen Elliot of The Adderall Diaries.  She made the phrase, "Write like a motherfucker" take on a whole new life.  She is a diva, a goddess, a mother, a sister, a friend, the voice you need to give it to you straight in a loving way.  She's, in short, incredibly good at what she does, and she has quite the loyal following.  Every Thursday, she releases a new column and I usually taking something profound away.  I would like to write like a motherfucker and get that mug too.

18 January 2011




One of my favorite places in the world is Europane in Pasadena, CA, and this is an almond brioche. I hope you try one of these soon with a cup of strong coffee.



Downtown L.A. at sunrise is achingly luminous and beautiful.  Here's a favorite from a weekend shoot.  I took the shot from the roof of a parking garage next to the flower market.

My weekend was full and happy and at the same time full of stress and pressure.  There's a lot going on in my life right now, lots of decision to make, lots of what ifs, lots of grad school apps and trying to keep at it even when all my emotions and fears gets riled up at the thought of things happening or not happening in the future.

I've learned that when I am stressed, I need to go hang out with people which is contrary to how I used to deal with things (holing up in a room, trying to work for hours).  So I hung out with lots of people, talked and listened, got perspectives, laughed, listened to music and ate shaved ice, took naps and went out again on the town.  It was a lovely weekend all in all and it ended with some solo time at a cafe in Laguna Beach.  Side note: I love Laguna Beach.  How could you not.  If you ever want to hang out there, call me.

Today, I will focus on being present to my breath, taking walks, staying grounded in what I know, and tending to the things I need to do even if I want to run the other way.

14 January 2011


In 2010, I
- continued art nights with Jan and welcomed Christine
- bought a dslr
- went to Palm Springs, Norcal, NYC, the United Nations, Boston, Chicago, and made lots of trips to L.A. and San Diego
- fell in love with Crystal Cove State Park
- started working to work and pay the bills
- finished the Ignatian Spirituality Retreat
- learned more about myself
- tried new things and found out what worked and what didn't
- found greater compassion for my self

In 2011, I look forward to
- getting into photography
- designing more layouts and covers
- reading lots more of all the wondrous texts and images out there, especially on architecture and art and sociology and fiction
- practicing my french with Assimil
- playing lots of tennis
- redesigning the blog
- preparing for change

10 January 2011

the Worst thing

I think one of the worst things you can do to yourself and those you love is to not accept yourself and be honest about who you are and what you love.  It catches up to you.  You can't keep it down forever.


Last week:
- I started tennis classes with J
- Attended a dinner/discussion group of women from my church called Wednesday's Women.  I'd like to rename it, the Sacred Circle of Post-Menopausal Women. (I was the youngest person there by many years)  It was an awesome, beautiful evening spent with powerful got-their-shit-worked-out group of women.  Discussed moral courage and praying for our enemies and heard the words "fuck" and "sex life" many times.
- Led Taize service with the gang--we're turning into a regular little band.  Went to a pub afterwards and had pints and fish and chips.
- Made my biggest Korean meal yet for my dear friends Lydia and James.  So proud to make my own banchan.
- Had an artist date with Delirious New York by Rem Koolhaas.  It was so cool to flip through the pages.
- Had an awesome art night with Jan and Christine at the Gypsy Den.

This week, I look forward to:
- another art night.  yay!
- a second week of tennis classes.  yay!
- more news on the job front.  yay!
- finishing another grad application. yaaaaay!
- and starting a Writing for Magazines class with Linda Formichelli.  yay!

03 January 2011

Happy New Year's

More than 2 years ago, I posted on a now defunct blog, The Flying Nun, that one of my goals was to get a DSLR the coming summer.  It took many more months but I finally have my very first DSLR camera, a Canon 60D. 

It's been an incredibly exciting development in my life.  I got it a few weeks ago, and I've become one of "those" people.  You know, the ones that always take pictures when you're trying to eat or have a conversation.  I love it.  I take it with me everywhere in my camera bag/purse, the Domke shoulder bag.

My friends Jan and Dan gave me great advice and counseled me through the big purchase.  Thanks so much J & D!  Couldn't have done it without you.  In three days, I got a crash course on bodies, lenses, crop frame vs. full frame, soft, short, long, wide.... It didn't take much to become a photo geek.

I've been into photography ever since I opened my first issue of the National Geographic as a kid.  In college, I took a film photography course, and I've just been slow to invest and move into the DSLR world.  I also never took my photographic interests seriously enough but no more!  That time is past.

The catalyst?  A 6 am shoot with Jan at Crystal Cove State Park, my favorite place in Orange County.  I was so proud of us night owls for doing something new and early together.  Here's a pic of me with J.'s Canon G9, an awesome point and shoot.

  {Credit: Jantira Keyurrangal}

Here's to a new year of seeing and being through the art of photography.  Hope you had a wonderful new years.