Connected, yet so Disconnected

A few weeks ago, my phone found itself sitting in a pile of water next to the sink (aka I put it there). I was trying to be “disconnected,” and intentionally not look at my phone for a few hours while I was hanging out with my friends. Sure enough, a few hours later, I come back to the kitchen to check on my phone and notice that the screen has noticeable water damage. I immediately power my phone off, panic, ask for some rice, and stick my phone inside, praying that my phone will be resurrected.

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What I noticed throughout the next few days as I “patiently” (not really) waited for my phone to dry out is that, as much as I hate to admit it, I am so dependent on my phone. I rely on it for communication, killing time when I am bored (looking at you Facebook), and filling up the silence during my commute. Without it, I felt extremely naked and anxious that I was missing an important text. In fact, I took my iPad with me for the next few days to hopefully connect to wifi wherever I was and use it like a phone. Yes, I have an iPad and an iPhone and a MacBook. I am the poster child of successful Apple marketing.

Why is it that we are all so connected via Facebook, Snapchat, etc, yet feel so disconnected? Sometimes, I know more about my friends through their social media than I would if I just talked to them. I know that my friend took a random trip to New York for the weekend, and I know that my housemate got a free coffee at our favorite coffee shop.

So many times in big groups, I find myself checking my phone along with everyone else. Here we are, trying to “bond,” but are staring at our phones entranced in this world hidden behind a bright screen. I find myself in my living room with all my housemates, each of us blocked by our laptops watching Netflix, clacking away working, or clicking the refresh button to see if there are any new Facebook statuses.

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And the ironic thing is, I’m doing it right now! I’m in the living room, clacking away on my laptop, while my housemate is on his laptop. I think we’ve spoken a few sentences to each other, maybe.

PS: I’m all about this article. Do not disturb is one of my favorite (next to Night Shift) updates in iOS9. Thank you Apple.

Be your own therapist

Hello hello hello!

Hope your day is off to a great start! I have to say, my favorite part of the day is my bike ride home from my gym. Typically it’s at about 7 am. I’ve just had a great workout, saw my friends, and am on my way home to eat breakfast, my favorite meal of the day, hands down!

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Crispy eggs sauteed in bacon fat, chicken sausage, and kale. Who wouldn’t love breakfast?!

I wanted to quickly share a practice that I’ve been preaching to myself. I call it “being my own therapist.” Now what I mean by this is: not letting your feelings dictate your identity. Feelings are feelings, and they can often deceive us from remembering the truth about ourselves. I do believe that they can sometimes be indicators of how we are really doing, but sometimes, feelings are straight up lies!

Many times, I will wake up in the morning, and I will feel “fat.” I can’t be the only one, right? I hate that I feel that about myself! Intellectually I know that this is not the case, but how come sometimes I just feel that way?! During these vulnerable moments when I am staring in the mirror, I try to be my own therapist. I’ll ask myself, “Why do I feel this way?” And then, I’ll have the internal dialogue with myself:

Is it true? No, it is not. Eann, you are not fat. You are strong. You are capable. You are beautiful. God loves you. He made you in His image. You are worthy.

Now, this isn’t always an instant solution to that feeling of not feeling worthy, but it is a start. I think it is so important to engage with our feelings. This doesn’t mean letting them dictate who we are, but having a dialogue with ourselves can be extremely powerful. It can help us to separate truth from emotions, which can be mutually exclusive.

The next time you feel “weird,” “icky,” jealous, impatient, angry, rather than being controlled by that feeling, try pausing and asking yourself “Why do I feel this way?” Are you jealous that you didn’t get invited to a party, because you are longing for friendship? Are you feeling “gross” because you haven’t been taking care of yourself? Are you impatient, because you haven’t been able to recharge? These are all great questions to ask yourself, and may even help identify the deeper root to many of your emotions.

 

Fitness Goals for 2017

Disclaimer: This draft was 5 months old when I picked it back up today, but it is funny to go back and take a look at my 2016 and 2017 goals, ha!

I’m all about goals. At the end of 2016, I randomly discovered and instantly bought Lara Casey’s Powersheets, which has turned out to be a really great way for me to be intentional about setting my goals, checking in on them on a daily basis, and reminding myself that it’s about “progress not perfection,” as Lara Casey always says.

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Now, I find that setting fitness goals tend to be the easiest for me, because they are easy to measure and take steps towards achieving. For example, if you wanted to get one strict pull up, you could start by taking measurable steps towards getting one, rather than a lofty goal of “be a better friend.” The goals below are mostly fitness related. By end of 2016, here were the goals I wanted to accomplish:

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Fitness:

  1. Get 30 consecutive double unders. –> didn’t accomplish this in 2016, but as of March 4, 2017 I got my 30 consecutive double unders!
  2. Do 8 strict pull ups in a row. –> Can do 5, so tabling this to 2017. 🙂
  3. String together 3 kipping pull ups. –> YES! Not sure if happened in 2016 or 2017, but I’m not going to sweat it, because I can do these, yay!
  4. String together 10 toes to bar. –> Haven’t worked on these, but I can string at least 5!
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Anyone else feel this way? 🙂

Here are my long fitness term goals for 2017:

  1. Consistently do double unders in a WOD. My goal for March is to do 30 consecutive double unders, which I got on 3/4/2017, so now my new March goal is to do 40. 🙂
  2. String together 20 kipping pull ups in a WOD. 
  3. Handstand walk the distance from the rigs to the wall (5 mats). So far, I have been able to walk the length of 3 mats.

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    My brother and I trying to synchronize handstands on the sunny beaches of Santa Monica.

  4. Get a bar muscle up. This may be a stretch, but baby steps! Maybe for the Crossfit Open in 2018. 😉
  5. Do the 3 WODs RX in the Crossfit OpenI’ve RX’d one so far (17.1), so I have 2 more options!

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    “Friday Night Lights” at my gym for 17.1!

  6. String together 20 toes to bar.
  7. Get 5 handstand push ups.

I have many other goals, including no social media past 7:30 pm, stretching before bed, and eating gluten and dairy free, because those do not make me feel well! Maybe, I’ll post something about March goals, but if not, then April, yay!

Go get after your goals!

-Eann

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2016 in Pictures

Happy 2017 to you! I know I am a little late to the game, but I tend to avoid any computer type things over the holidays, so I am just now getting to write a few blog posts that are long overdue. If you’re one of the few readers reading this, I’ve got blog posts for 2017 goals, some recipes (what?!), my favorite cookbooks, the power of a hug, etc. So stay tuned, folks, it’s going to be a wild ride. 😉

As I was reflecting back on 2016, I am mostly amazed by how God turned my sorrow into seeds that I am just now seeing the fruits of. I began 2016 in deep sadness and loneliness that words cannot really describe, which led to my thoughts on friendship. Through persistent prayer and some intentional coffee dates, I can look back and see how God answered my prayer for deeper friendships.

Here are a few highlights:

  • I graduated from graduate school in June.
  • I started a job as a Software Developer in Cambridge, MA.
  • I traveled to Taiwan, Japan, New York, and Los Angeles.
  • I fell more in love with Boston (for the record, I truly hated Boston when I moved here for school in 2011, so this is wildly unexpected).
  • I made lots of yummy food in our new kitchen and learned more healthy recipes that I imagine I will share with you at some point.

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Here’s to the new year!

3 Ways to Strengthen Your Willpower.

Have you ever found yourself trying to eat healthier, start a new job, exercise more, and spend less money all to find yourself mentally exhausted and face first in a box of Oreos?

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No? Me neither.

Maybe you were able to pull it off for a week, but eventually decisions became so hard and your mind just couldn’t stop churning. It seemed like nothing you wanted to accomplish happened.

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Enter the concept of willpower. According to Kelly McGonigal, PhD and author of The Willpower Instinct, “the willpower response is a reaction to an internal conflict. You want to do one thing, such as smoke a cigarette or supersize your lunch, but you know you shouldn’t. Or you know you should do something, like file your taxes or go to the gym, but you’d rather do nothing.”

How willpower gets depleted

Willpower is finite. We only have so much, and it runs out as we use it. Each decision we make and each resistance depletes our one tank of willpower. McGonigal states that “trying to control your temper, ignore distractions, or refuse seconds all tap the same source of strength.”

Willpower is like a muscle. We can fatigue it, but we can also strengthen it by training it.

How to strengthen your willpower

  1. Minimize the number of decisions in the morning. If you start the day already depleting from your tank of willpower, then you’re more susceptible to decision fatigue later in the day. These seemingly simple decisions, such as – What am I going to eat for breakfast? What am I going to wear? Should I go to the gym? How am I going to get to work?, can start to add up. Examples of minimizing decisions include:
    • Setting out your workout and/or work clothes the night before.
    • Meal plan and know what you’re going to eat for breakfast.
    • Pack your lunch the night before.
    • Decide the night before if you are going to the gym. Then stick with it the next morning!
  2. Avoid temptation. If you are tempted, have an if/then plan. If you can’t eat ice cream without eating the whole pint (or tub), then don’t keep it in your house. Know your weaknesses, and make an if/then plan for when you encounter them. Some examples:
    • IF I am craving ice cream and I really want it and decide it is worth it, THEN I need to go out of the house and buy it.
    • IF I get less than 7 hours of sleep,THEN I will sleep in and either go to the gym later or go for a walk after dinner.
    • IF I go to a party where there are sabotaging foods,THEN I will only eat foods that are gluten and dairy free.
  3. Rather than “I can’t,” think about “I choose to.” Instead of thinking about resisting, I find it helpful to tweak my  mindset an think about my freedom of choice. For example, rather than thinking to “I can’t have a brownie,” I have found it beneficial to think “I choose not to have a brownie, because I’ve already had 3 cookies today, I don’t want it.”

Now, I am not saying that I have “mastered” willpower by any means, but these are just a few tips that I try to incorporate in my daily routine. Maybe, they will help you too. 🙂

Your Name is Victory… Right?

All praise will rise to Christ our King.

I went to bed last night in an attempt to get a good night’s sleep and wake up to find out who our next president would be. After all, spending all night watching the red and blue map of the United States seemed pretty stressful, and I’m all about minimizing stress these days.

About every few hours, I woke up, checked the time, then went back to bed, telling myself “not yet.” Finally, about fifteen minutes before my 5 am alarm, I woke up at 4:45 am and decided it was time to check the results of the election…

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You’ve got to be kidding me.

This must be a dream.

There is no way Donald Trump won. How?!

Let me check a few other sites. Maybe CNN is punking me.

Wow. Donald Trump…

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As I slowly got ready for the gym, I was in shock, as I’m sure many of you are. There were very few people, as I’m sure many people stayed up late watching the results and hoping it was all a dream. Or they’re crying in their cornflakes. Probably both.

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New York Times – you had ONE job!

I feel a lot of things, and they are all so conflicting. I am genuinely confused how this happened. How did Trump win nearly half the popular vote just as Hillary did? Clearly, there is a portion of the population that truly believes he will turn things around. I am sad that people in old factory/industrial areas are hurting – how fed up they are and how unheard they have felt for so many years. I am ticked off by the inappropriate, racist, sexist comments that have been made public and acted as a platform to win voters. I am discouraged that this is not over. I am worried that our country is so divided.

Yet, despite all of this, I see many Bible verses and claims that Jesus ultimately sits on the throne, which I believe to be true, but how do I reconcile all of my feelings, especially as a believer? Am I allowed to feel discouraged, sad, and angry? Or am I supposed to be peppy, joyful, and hopeful?

Honestly, I’m having trouble fixing my eyes on Jesus and reminding myself that He is Lord, when I feel so numb inside. I didn’t expect to have such strong feelings about this election, but I think that’s because I never truly thought that this could actually become a reality. And here we are. This is not a dream.

So what do we do? My mind says to hope and dream, to not be weighed down by man (even if he is the president), and to place my hope in Jesus Christ. Yet, my heart is raw, my soul is tired, and my strength is weary.

Today, I will let my feelings be my feelings. I will curl up with my favorite book, sit with my housemates, and cook a delicious meal. But tomorrow (or hopefully soon thereafter) I hope to replace my feelings with what I know to be true.

First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” -1 Tim. 2:1-4

“Please never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it… Never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance to pursue and achieve your own dreams.” – HRC

Weekend in NYC.

Last weekend, my friend and I went to New York City for Columbus Day weekend – more like for 30 hours. We arrived Saturday afternoon at 1 pm and left Sunday at 3 pm, so it really was quite short! We didn’t really have much of an agenda, other than to eat, walk, and shop. Really. We didn’t do anything but those things – no museums, no shows, no clubs, just food, and lots of it!

What I didn’t expect was to feel a strong sense of homesickness, even though we were only four hours away in the “big apple.” In fact, our original train ticket back to Boston left Sunday  night at 6 pm, but after a long day of traveling, eating, and walking around on Saturday, we unanimously decided to change our train ticket to leave New York City earlier and get back to Boston a few hours earlier (and paid money for it…). Also, side note, I realized after booking my train ticket that I actually didn’t get Columbus Day off, what?! #adultproblems

Prior to the trip, I did some research on specific food places I wanted to hit up. I even created a Google map and starred all the places I was interested in. Guys, I don’t mess around. On the list: cronuts, burgers, delicious cookies, boba tea, etc. The problem is, you can only eat so much in 30 hours!

We went to Dominique Ansel Bakery for some cronuts, but were sad to find they were sold out (as of 10 am that morning!), but there seemed to be another line for “cookie shots.” My friend and I decided, “why not?” and we proceeded to wait in line. Man, people in New York love waiting in lines… Long story short, it was a neat experience, though the cookie wasn’t anything to write home about, but at least we can say we waited in line for the infamous cookie shot and got a picture. That’s really all that matters, right? 😉

All in all, we had a great 30 hours in NYC. We ate lots of food, had some soul filling conversations, and walked many many miles (thanks Fitbit!). In my mind, New York has always had this shimmering, bustling reputation, where the “lights are so bright” (cue Taylor Swift). Yet, when we were there, it wasn’t as shiny, dreamy, or breathtaking as it seemed in the movies. I’ve been to New York before, but this time, I missed Boston. I missed my bed. I missed my friends. Most of all, I missed my home. So, we took an earlier train home, watched the presidential debate with our lovely housemates, and had a great night’s sleep in our own beds. Man, it felt good to be home.

The Joys of Graduated Life.

I am coming up on my two month anniversary of working life. I’m pretty sure people don’t celebrate this, as this could likely be two months out of the rest of my life (hopefully not, though), but it’s a big deal to me, okay!?

I graduated in June, after staying in school an extra year to get my Master’s degree. While many of my peers were soaking up Vitamin D in the Bay area, I intentionally chose to stay and learn more about Computer Science, woohoo. What’s wrong with me, you ask? Now, if you know me, you may know that I am not one to talk all nerdy about full stack development and virtual machines. So, the mere fact that I stayed to get a Master’s degree in Computer Science was quite uncharacteristic of me.

 

Anyways, I wrote a thesis, turned it in, graduated, traveled to Taiwan, and said bye bye to MIT, except that my office is about a 5 minute walk to campus. What was I thinking staying this close?!

So, for all you folks out there who hear everyone tell you to “stay in school” and “oh I miss those college days,” they’re wrong! Secretly, “real life” is the best thing, and I am so glad I’m not in school anymore. Granted, I imagine there may come a day where I may want to go back to school, but for now, I am a graduated, young professional and I couldn’t love it more. Here’s a few reasons why:

  1. So much free time! Not only do I have the time to do things I actually want to do (instead of boring sorority chapter meetings), but I have the mental space to think and engage. Rather than being stressed out all the time for fear that my seemingly monumental problem set isn’t going to get finished, I don’t have to worry come Sunday night that I haven’t done any work all weekend.

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    My housemate and I at Cru’s annual Fall Retreat in Lake Winnipesauke, NH.

  2. I actually have the relational capacity to build deeper friendships. Though I do agree that college is a unique opportunity to make long lasting friendships, I will also say that, now, I feel a freedom to invest in relationships on my own terms. I am more intentional with how I spend my time, and it is almost a multiplier effect. The more people I build friendships with, the more time I spend with them, and inevitably the deeper the friendship becomes. Read my thoughts on friendship here. I’m all about that friendship (not that bass :P)

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    My housemates and I on our way to Boda Borg!

  3. My  mind is much less cluttered. No longer do I think about my next problem set, or my next test, or my next meeting with my advisor. Though I do have “adult” things to think about, like budgeting (ew), my mind feels so much more free to think and write about my thoughts, hence the creation of this blog. 😉

I will say, though, I do miss getting random days off. I only found out two weeks ago that I don’t actually get Columbus day off… what?!?! So here, I am, at work, crying inside and staring out the window looking at the pretty river, wishing I could be apple picking. Actually, it’s not too bad, at least I have free coffee. 😉

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Guys, this is my view. *heart eyes*

Netflix and Football (and not about how awesome they are)

Few disclaimers:

  1. I grew up watching football. My high school was like Friday Night Lights (shout out Plano East). Every Friday night, my friends and I would dress up (mostly in “spirit wear”), drive over to our large football stadium, and cheer on our Panthers. Fun fact: I graduated from the largest high school in America.

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    Baby Eann at Homecoming in 2009. What are we wearing you ask? Mums. Aka giant fake flowers with ribbons that guys pay $100+ for.

  2. I used to watch Netflix like no other. I purposely reserved Friday nights in college (rather than watching football) for binge watching and catching up on my tv shows on Netflix. In fact, I would turn off the lights in my room, so my friends couldn’t see that I was home and try to disturb my sacred tv watching time.

As you may know, I am all about friendship and spending time with people. In case you missed it, you can start here.

It is amazing to me that we spend so much of our time watching Netflix, football, you name it. We place so much of our hopes and dreams in teams like the Dallas Cowboys, which inevitably fail us (come on Tony Romo) and rooting for people we don’t even know in our melodramatic tv shows (since when is dating 25 guys okay?!?).

And what baffles me is that, in the end, Jerry Jones does not care about me. Yes, I might buy a Dak Prescott jersey after our win against 49ers, but the Cowboys don’t care what I do. It doesn’t matter if I am a die hard fan or a fair weather fan. In the end, what I do does not make a difference to a football team. Yet, here we are, basing our moods, fantasy football leagues, and hopes in a sport that will, ultimately, disappoint us.

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It only takes so many poor seasons for you to realize you can’t always count on a football team. #riptonyromo

Same goes for television shows – whoever the Bachelor is at the time, he does not care about me! He might be “interested” in the 25 women that producers have hand selected for him to “date,” but come on, ABC is a franchise. While I am considered a “viewer,” I am a nobody. Yet, why is it that after each episode, I find myself reading blogs of former contestants and of people claiming to spoil the “final one,” wasting my time in this fictional world that does not give two hoots about me? (I am happy to report that I no longer do this and have banned myself from watching shows like the Bachelor. :))

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My name is Eann, and I used to be a Bachelor addict.

We spend so much of our time investing our hearts and lives in fictional things that will ultimately let us down. Who really cares if your favorite football team has a horrible season? Who really cares if your favorite tv show character breaks up with the love of their life? Does any of it really matter when you stop and think about it? I get that these are avenues for people to “connect.” Admittedly, I follow sports as a way to initiate and maintain a conversation with some of my coworkers, but to base my mood off of the success of a sports team? Now, that’s just not very stable at all.

What if, instead, we placed our hopes and dreams in Jesus? The only One who will never ever disappoint. The only One who cares about us more intimately that we could ever know. The only One who isn’t flaky, dependent on poor internet connection, or a quarterback who always gets injured. That sounds a lot more reasonable to me.

Race and Reconciliation. And Being Asian American.

If you’ve been following the news (which if you haven’t, I highly recommend subscribing to theSkimm. It’s a daily email that condenses the “need to know” news in an easy to read format) you may have noticed that there is quite of a lot of racial tension going on right now (understatement).

My church had a Race and Reconciliation panel a few weeks ago, and my community group spent the last two weeks talking about these issues. A few things have really struck me and have prompted me to think a little bit more about how I feel and what to do.

Prior to these conversations, I never really felt like I had reason to have an opinion on “black” and “white” matters. I was aware of the black lives matter versus all lives matter tension, and I was aware that there is clear racism and prejudice against black people. I had also read, week after week, numerous accounts of black people being murdered by police officers, but I had also experienced the tragedy of white police officers in Dallas being murdered as well.

Yet, here I am, neither black nor white. What does all of this mean for me, an Asian American woman? Does my opinion even matter? What if, by asking my black friends how they have been affected, I am being “racist”? Will they be offended because I’m not black? Am I even allowed to refer to them as “black”? All of these questions and fears led me to paralysis in the form of silence. Maybe if I didn’t say anything, I wouldn’t offend anyone or say the wrong thing. Maybe, if I pretended I was invisible, I wouldn’t cause any trouble.

You see, growing up, I was always taught not to cause trouble. My parents immigrated from Taiwan, and they taught me that we were imposing and we needed to integrate ourselves with Americans in a peaceful way. When we cause riots and voice our opinions obnoxiously, it is considered “bad manners.” As long as I put my head down, worked hard, then I would “succeed” in life and maintain harmony, which happens to be one of my strengths, though I attribute much of this to my upbringing. Despite this idea of keeping the peace, my brother and I read the newspaper with my dad at the breakfast table every morning growing up. It was important to be well informed and to know what is going on with the world, just don’t be one of those loud-mouth people with a bullhorn voicing your opinion.

However, through conversations with my community group, I was specifically struck by the notion that my silence can be hurtful to some people. My opinion matters, and the fact that I should have an opinion also matters. Rather than portraying ignorance and choosing not to engage in conversations about racism and prejudice (which, by the way, I learned are two very different things), I am called as a believer in Jesus Christ, to reconcile with my brothers and sisters (2 Corinthians 5:18), to instigate conversations with people of all colors about how to reconcile people of all nations. Jesus came down and reconciled himself to us first, so that we may reconcile with others back to God himself.

So, here I am, choosing not to be silent, choosing to engage in these tough conversations, and even enduring through the awkward pauses. Through this, I am choosing Jesus, because He first loved us.

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