Before we dive in here’s an overview of what will be covered:
- A summary
- The five most impactful events
- My Three Words from 2022
- My Year in Numbers
- Eleven First Times
- Nine online courses
- Five Favorite affirmations
- Four Favorite Quotes
- Four Favorite Songs and Lyrics
- Three things I am most grateful for
- Twenty-Two Lessons from 2022
- My Three Words for 2023
- Intentions for 2023
- Shoutouts to the people who impacted and inspired my 2022
I am grateful for 2022.
I started out my year just getting over covid, was unemployed, and in denial about potentially needing to leave O’ahu, Hawaii if I didn’t find a way to make money. I started recording daily vlogs because of this denial and taking mindful moments of my life. I played my life by ear in an effort to be patient and channel more presence in listening to the world and where it led me. I was even so desperate that I went to a full moon manifestation ceremony in March. Oddly enough, everything I wrote down came true in the next month.
This was my year of patience while leaning into my zen practice, uniquely expressing myself with meraki, and finding consonance in my what I do. It was lovely to give myself permission to take my foot off the gas. Patience taught me that I love slow living. That is why I love Sunday mornings.
A look back at 2022
Last year in my 2021 Annual Review, I shared peak memories and troughs that happened throughout the year. They were seamless to come up with, ranging from my near-death experience (NDE) nearly drowning at the MakaPu’u tide pools, to joyous ones like the day that I randomly met my soul sister while surfing who then invited me to move in with her (and out of the hostel).
This time around I’m spicing things up, because why not?! So here we go with sharing all the grey areas and delaying whether this is good new or bad news…
I tend to think of situations in terms of polar opposites. This event is either “good” or “bad”. If I want to change the way that I think, starting with the way I write is a baby step in that direction. So instead of using binary words like “peak” and “rose” or ”trough” and “thorn”, I’m experimenting with more descriptive words.
5️⃣ Key impactful events from 2022
- Job rejections
- Inventing my own job
- Breaking new ground with backpacking
- Anxiety diagnosis
- Six-ish months of sobriety
❌ Job rejections
Well, there’s no easy way to put this, I was rejected multiple times last year. Specifically with jobs, when I ended my sabbatical and needed to start making money again at the start of this year. The three companies that I was dreaming about working for were Write of Passage, Building a Second Brain, and Shopify. I spent days, which added up to weeks, on those applications, thoughtfully reaching out for references, and prepping for interviews. They never came to anything.
At first glance, you could quickly think that all of that was a waste. In actuality, when I applied to these jobs, I was taking a snapshot of one part of myself, and trying to prove that that one small part of myself was the perfect-fitting piece of the puzzle they are trying to fill.
Rather than these experiences being sunk costs, I now view them as journeys where I learned what excited me, got introspective, and learned to creatively craft a story of why I’d fit the bill. In other words: how to effectively pitch myself.
Don’t get me wrong, getting rejected definitely is frustrating, and humiliating, and was a hit to my self-esteem as I moped around like a sad sack. These rejections definitely did a jab to my heart that made me feel incompetent and worthless for a while. Like a hammer who didn’t have a home to build. But then I switched the script.
I figured it wasn’t meant to be. With time, that anger sizzled out into acceptance and peace. I still joined cohort 9 of Write of Passage and do not regret that at all. Seven cohorts in a row showing up for this intensive cohort-based course. Thanks to all that commitment, I’m coming up on three years of weekly writing in a couple of months. I’m so grateful for the connections and curiosity that the community has unleashed within me. It gave me confidence that I could find a job on the Internet if I really needed to. I even tried to invent my own project of creating a community yearbook for the course. Alas, that didn't work out either, as I made the scope too big, became overwhelmed with a lack of resources, and dropped the ball. But I'm still glad I gave it a shot and know I'll be better off because of it.
What did I learn from these rejections?
Shoot your shot. You never know what might come from it.
If I want to live a courageous life, then rejection will undoubtedly be a part of it. I need to get used to it. Since I’m a writer, all these feelings inspired My Letter to Rejection.
💼 Inventing my own job
On February 1, 2022, Bronson Chang reached out to me on Twitter. He knew a friend of mine that I met online during the summer of 2020. I met up with Bronson to connect at Foster Botanical Gardens in Honolulu, HI, and then again at Wa’ahila Ridge State park to meditate together.
We both valued the same things being gungho about the intersections of journaling, community, and education. It was serendipitous at the time that he was creating a sister company to the lifestyle shave ice company, so he needed to grow his team. I had the opportunity to join his team in building and marketing their new ideas for their sister company, an incredibly rewarding opportunity to be part of the HOPA family by operating this new business in the mindful journaling space.
Upon reflection on my previous job rejections, they were a sign that instead of looking for a global Internet job, I could pivot my search. I realized that if I was open to looking for something locally, the right job could find me. I was craving that human connection, learning more about where I lived, and giving back to the community I’ve learned to love.
🎒 Backpacking for the first time
On May 8, 2022, I flew from O’ahu to Big Island, Hawaii along with eight others from my Zen center in the Palolo Valley outside of Honolulu. We were started a ceremony in nature. I felt like a knowledge-less toddler learning how to dress while realizing I had no idea what to pack or how to even pack. Thank goodness I didn’t forget TP. I was so fixated on getting the weight of my pack down from 30 pounds that I didn’t have any worries to focus on the fact that I would be doing the longest meditation session of my life. It was for my first-ever silent meditation retreat called Hele Malie Sesshin, and my first time backpacking as well. It was also my first time taking a break from daily journaling since I started in 2019 so that I wouldn’t break the Zen protocol. A heck lot of first times.
I was terrified. I ended up crying in the circle the first night when I was among strangers about to go into the wilderness and sit silently with them. I cried every night of this trip too. I already left my phone behind but I was so tempted to go find service somehow and book a flight to leave. I came head-on with my fear of forgetting. I was in a foreign place, without my typical way of processing life through writing or speech.
I vividly remember witnessing the beauty of the stars lighting up the whole sky, the shock of my bee sting, the stabbing of my period cramps, and the magical feeling of bathing myself naked in the ocean.
Before this trip, I never realized how quiet I could get my mind by merely focusing my attention on counting my steps or my breath for hours a day. I didn’t have a watch, but my estimate is that about 40 hours of those five days were meditating. So a whole working week. Two hours after waking to the conch horn at 4:30 am, a session after lunch, walking meditation in the afternoon, and two hours each evening after dinner.
My past self would think this is so foolish to take an unpaid holiday to go be silent in the wilderness. My present self is in awe. This is definitely one of the most challenging experiences I’ve ever lived. Physically with 35 lbs on my back, spiritually in silence, and emotionally feeling silently alone and in pain while on my period, this was wild.
I felt empowered knowing I could carry everything I needed to survive on my back. Despite my fear of getting lost, I led the group on the fourth day after having a giddy sense of peace during my morning zazen when I dreaded the chime that ended the sitting. I now choose to journal because I want to, and also because I am attached to my practice. My journal is my best friend.
Oddly enough, I cannot wait to do another Hele Malie trip again this year and chip away at my Zen practice as I find my way.
The only photographic proof of this trip. My Zen teacher Michael is the smiley fella on the front left. I’m the nerd in the back left in my dad’s Indiana Jones hat.
😓 Anxiety diagnosis
On June 30, 2022, I was diagnosed by a healthcare professional with anxiety. Two days prior, I had a panic attack. June 28 is a date that holds a bit more pressure for me as it’s the day I moved to Hawaii in 2021. On top of some covid hysteria, work pressure, and the story swirling in my head that no time had passed in the past year, I lost control.
It felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest. As if I was fainting my vision became pixelated with black and white cubes like I just drove off the road playing Mario Kart, except that this was no fun game at all. I emailed my boss about missing the next Zoom meeting, called my dad, took half a Benadryl, got an ice pack, and laid down. I was 99% sure that I must have asthma because my chest previously felt like it was imploding while paddling out on the surf.
After the doctor told me (and shocked me), I had no idea what to do with this new discovery. Immediately, I tried to invalidate that this was any special circumstance and that everyone must feel this way sometimes. I already had a plane booked to fly 26 hours across the world to the Netherlands to see my cousin get married. I wasn’t missing that.
I’d already quit drinking coffee during my dry January apart from decaf Thursdays, and with this news, I became even more hyper-aware of how caffeine negatively affects me, even with earl grey tea.
Thankfully, I had chosen my main theme for the year to be patience, so I started to take things more slowly and be more thoughtful with experiments. I made sure to more consciously get sunlight, take my sleep more seriously, and journal more actively about what was going on in my body. One of my favorite prompts became: “what is worrying me right now?'“ I listened to 4000 Weeks by Oliver Burkeman to navigate a healthier relationship with time. On Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings, I sat at the Zen Center searching for peace. I shifted recording my daily vlogs to be more mindful moments where I checked in with myself.
It’s still all a work in progress.
🧃Seven months of sobriety
For the past five years, I have completed a dry January. It started the year after college as a way to prove to myself that I wasn’t an alcoholic. I really was not sure. After lying to the doctor, due to shame about my drinking behavior a few too many times, I decided I needed to suss this out for myself.
This past year after January, I started to make rules for myself to be sober-curious and mindfully drink. For instance, I wouldn’t spontaneously drink anymore — only if I planned 24 hours beforehand. I’d bring a case of beer for the crew on the sailboat on Friday nights, but I’d also bring seltzers for myself to drink. I was sick of guys wanting to buy me drinks on dates or needing to explain myself, so I stopped dating and deleted Hinge. The effort didn’t feel worth it. Instead, I focused on deepening the friendships I already had, specifically around friends with that I never felt pressure to drink. I learned to be my playful self and let my guard down without needing an inebriant.
Over the summer, I gave in and drank more regularly while I was in the Netherlands. I tend to do that as a chameleon shapeshifting to my environment to mirror the laidback Dutch folks on holiday. Back when I studied business at the University of Amsterdam, I drank like a fish, so it felt familiar. After all, my dream job back in the day was to work for Heineken. Last summer, on my road trip across the Dutch roaming farmlands in a cobalt blue Mini Cooper, I had my last stop with my cousin Joos in Amsterdam. I was too intrigued to say no to the drop shots (black licorice-flavored liquor that I oddly really enjoyed). I had 24 hours in one of my favorite cities in the world and I was semi-hungover. Huh?
This shame-filled feeling happened yet again as I could only have fun learning to Zydeco dance in New Orleans while drinking. I still thought that I would need alcohol to have fun. It was all in my head and fake signals from society of what I was expected to do.
After these experiences, I moved from being sober-curious when I wrote 🍹Letter 107: Thoughts from a Former Binge Drinker to someone who put up the self-imposed rule to say no to drinking every single time in 🚱 Letter 128: My Breakup with Booze. I’m proud that I went to five weddings with open bars this past year and was stone sober at four of them.
The lessons I learned from this?
- Be aware of the environment you are in — it impacts your behavior whether you are consciously (or unconsciously) aware of it.
- We all have permission to redefine what fun means.
- Be kind to yourself because changing your behaviors is shifting your identity, which comes with a shedding of who you used to be.
All in all, rather than addition, a lot of elimination happened this past year.
(Originally published in 🔙 Letter 142: Looking back at five events that shaped my year)
My Three Words from 2022
I’m in love with words and language, so started a kooky practice of selecting three words that guide my year. For a brief history of how these words have played a part in my life in the past:
- In 2020 → Practice → publishing for 100 days straight, adding up to 100K words and starting my own freelancing business
- In 2021 → Play → after turning 25 I decided to jump out of the familiar midwest to move from Chicago to Hawaii which led me to reinvent myself and redefine fun
In 2022, Patience, Consonance and Meraki were my main words.
- Expectant with calmness, or without discontent; not hasty; not overeager; composed.
- Constant in pursuit or exertion; persevering; calmly diligent; the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.
- Featured in the photo:
I chose this word because something that I learned from my sabbatical the previous year was that whenever I rushed a decisions it would typically not be the best decision. I wanted to lean more intentionally to what trusting myself to be calmer would look like. Just because my mind fires off thousands of neurons off a second doesn’t mean that’s how I need to operate.
Patience showed up in my year through:
- Spacious walks and running without my phone
- Quitting caffeine and waiting for my body to wake up before my brain did
- Taking a daily typing course for four months and improving my speed by double from 30wpm to about 60 wpm.
- Becoming sober and needing to be in the mood to have fun rather than having an inebriant to prompt it
- Using the sun to wake up instead of an alarm clock
- Spending Wednesday nights meditating for two hours
- Enrolling in Building a Second Brain cohort 11 alongside my team
- Operationalizing the previously synchronous team I work with to be asynchronous
- Walk for 12 hours straight
- Being a student in Daniel Vassello’s Small Bets course to plant the seeds of how I can as an entrepreneur diversify the bets that I place
- Sending notes by post mail and waiting for them to be received by the recipient
Definition: describes doing something with soul, creativity, or love — when you put “something of yourself” into what you’re doing, whatever it may be.
I chose this word because after living six months in Hawaii and feeling a sense of living without needing permission, I wanted to unveil and use my creative potential to leave a unique mark of who I am on it.
Meraki showed up in my year through:
- Being a Mentor for Write of Passage Cohort 8 and being unapologetically myself teaching some of my favorite creative writing and journaling practices
- Creating (AND editing) my video resume.
- My weekly newsletters. I consistently insert my personality into them each week so there’s no way Chat GPT could write these babies.
- Whenever someone hosted me, I always made it a habit to leave them with a card out of appreciation for their service and kindness.
Definition: agreement or compatibility between opinions or actions. Synonyms: congruity, harmony, accord, consistency.
I chose this word because after taking my sabbatical, I realized how I wanted to have more overlap in my life.
Consonance showed up in my year through:
- Creating my own job.
- Choosing slower living: snail mail, poem project, zen practice, yoga practice, tea drinking, foam rolling, and daily walking.
- Taking Nate Kadlac’s Approachable Design course.
- Competing in triathlon because it has more variety and that speaks to me rather than purely running.
My Year in Numbers
…. because math was my favorite subject growing up in school and I majored in finance in college but never use numbers much apart from investing or my personal budget.
- Email List Growth: 173 in 2020 → 311 in 2021 → 493 in 2022 (75% → 58% increase)
- Twitter Growth: 824 → 1,149 followers
- New Articles Published: 28
- Letter from a Learn-it-all Emails Sent: 48
- Unique Website Visitors: 4,822 Page Visitors (2022) → Unknown
(because I moved my website away from Squarespace to Ghost. Probably not many since the SEO is horrendous.)
- Most Observational Essay: I am a Triathlon
- Most Popular and Proud Essay: My Breakup with Booze
- Most Playful Essay: Friendzone your Phone
- My Favorite Poem: Down in the Dumps
- Most Viewed Youtube Video: Jen Vermet’s WOP Mentor Bio (cohort 8 Feb 2022)
- Most Popular Tweet Thread: My favorite ways to live curation on Derek Sivers
- Favorite Book: How to Live by Derek Sivers (2nd year in a row)
- Favorite Vlog: Birthday Vlog on my 26th birthday 2/15/22
- Favorite Picture:
Unlike past years in 2020 and 2021, I didn’t really make any travel plans apart from my hasty and huge move from Chicago to Hawaii. That was until I made many plans all at once as five wedding invitations came in the mail, which included me needing to get a new passport and a Hawaii Driver’s license.
So, where was I living in 2022?
Nights slept in:
- Oahu, HI: 229 (63%)
- Grosse Pointe & Petoskey, MI: 61 (16%)
- Oceanside, CA: 3
- Marco Island, FL: 8
- Big Island, HI: 5
- Middelburg, Kerkrade, Nijmegen, Wirdum, & Amsterdam, Netherlands: 21 (6%)
- Denver, CO: 8
- New Orleans, LA: 3
- New York, NY: 15
- Philadelphia, PA: 1
- Kauai, HI: 3
- Planes or airports: 4
- Nine of those nights on Big Island, Kauai, and Oahu were camping. That’s more than I’ve ever camped in my life.
- Six of those weekends were celebrating lifelong partnerships, across five weddings in Denver, Middelburg, and three in Detroit, and one engagement party Zydeco dancing in NOLA.
- Twenty-two of those nights were spent sleeping on the couches of friends
- Five of those nights I walked to my tent using the stars to guide me in silent meditation
- One of those nights was barely any shut eye with race jitters for my triathlon
Days not on Oahu: 135 days or 37% of my year was away from Honolulu. This means that only 63% of my year was living on my little sliver of an island. When I was away, I came back with a deeper appreciated even more of where I lived. I was with my close family for 79 days of the year across Michigan, the Netherlands, and Florida. This is 22%. I care about my family and these stats reflect that my actions are where my mouth is. I made the long flights worth it.
Eleven first times I am proud of
Many first times and surprises from the past year:
- Backpacking two times for the first time in my life:
- Backpacking National Volcano Park on Big Island.
- Backpacking Kalalau Trail on Kauai.
- Mutually giving and receiving love through friendship more than I ever have.
- Meditating for roughly 40 hours in one week off the grid at National Volcano Park.
- Handstands and getting upside down.
- I can live without dating apps and booze.
- Completing my first sprint triathlon.
- Walking the most steps ever in a day: 69,000 steps in one day for my 12-hour walk. The ancillary benefit of this was clarity. It was worth the sore feet.
- Doubling my typing speed. I used to be at from 30 words per minute to 60 by taking online lessons first thing for five months when I opened my computer. Sure I could be faster, but I see this as an opportunity to think more, because I am not the fastest typer.
- Attending five weddings in one year
Nine online courses I took (or retook) & key takeaway
- Write of Passage cohort 8 & 9 —> Being around the community of curious creatives, it gave me space to find belonging and double down on my interests in creative writing.
- Building a Second Brain cohort 10: Taught by Tiago Forte. Previously I took this course in 2019 and relearned the opposite of my previous consumption processing with the acronym EDOC: express, distill, organize, and capture
- Connection Challenge: created off of Joe Judson's Art of Accomplishment. I learned that I can accept all of my feelings as they are. They are each part of the human experience.
- Foundations of ALOHA: Taught by Miki Tomita and guided by the teachings of Auntie Pilahi Paki via the work with renowned storyteller Pono Shim
- Small Bets: Taught by Daniel Vassello. I learned about the power of planting various seeds, actively questioned my risk tolerance and the interesting metaphor of whether I want to live more like a farmer or a hunter.
- Approachable Design: Taught by Nate Kadlac, I learned that constraints will help me flourish and make decisions around what to create elsewhere.
- Ceeds of Peace workshop series: Led by the Maya Soetoro-Ng, Kerrie Urosevich and Scott Nishimoto. This helped me realized I can build peace in my life personally and in the community and I don’t need to do it alone.
- Typing Pal: I completed 68 out of the 99 lessons and 57 out of the 216 practice texts. I could still finish this up. My progress was tracked in Notion here.
- Master the Email Based Course: Created by Will Steiner. I still have yet to complete creating an email course, but this was helpful in getting better at my understanding of how to create emails for teaching concepts.
Five Favorite Affirmations
- I am a billy goat. I can climb this mountain. I am strong.
- Evidence from taking action breeds courage.
- If I make myself happy, I can pour that happiness into others.
- It’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission.
- I am writing my own life story.
Four Favorite Quotes
- “You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” ― Maya Angelou
- “We do not learn from experience… we learn from reflecting on experience.” – John Dewey
- “The most valuable real estate in the world is the graveyard. There lie millions of half-written books, ideas never launched, and talents never developed. Most people die with everything still inside of the. The way to live is to create. Die empty. Get every idea out of your head and into reality. Calling yourself creative doesn’t make it true. All that matters is what you’ve launched. Make finishing your top priority.” – Derek Sivers
- “You can't change the direction of the wind, but you can adjust your sails to always reach your destination.” – Jimmy Dean
Four Favorite Songs and Lyrics
- Moving Sideways by Noah Kahan: “'Cause everyone's growing and everyone's healthy. I'm terrified that I might never have met me. Oh, if my engine works perfect on empty, I guess I'll drive.”
- Aloha Ke Akua by Nahko and Medicine for the People: “Bodies of info performing such miracles. I am a miracle. Made up of particles And in this existence I'll stay persistent And I'll make a difference. And I will have lived it.”
- Saturn by Sleeping at Last: “With shortness of breath I'll try to explain the infinite And how rare and beautiful it truly is that we exist.”
- Truly, Madly, Deeply by Yoke Lore: “I will be strong, I will be faithful 'Cause I'm counting on a new beginning. A reason for living, a deeper meaning. I wanna stand with you on a mountain. I wanna bathe with you in the sea”
One Favorite Music Album
- Keep Going by Mike Posner
Three things I am most grateful for
- My able working body. I can compete in a triathlon. I can do a supported handstand. I can paddle out in big sets of waves. I can lift heavy suitcases into overhead bins on airplanes. I can backpack scary mountains with a 30lb pack on my back.
- Becoming more like a hippie. I love the idea of living off the land. I love the ceremonious process of boiling water and making tea from the essence of plants. The more I listen to the world patiently, the more I get out of my head and less of a thinker to become more of an animal that feels and is present in this moment. Maybe that’s why dogs seem to be so much happier overall
- Being surrounded by nature. (This echoes much of the hippie vibe I just shared but I’m making this as a separate point the outdoors truly are healing.) The amount of time that I used to spend indoors cooped up in the 851 sq. ft. apartment with my two roommates and as a part of three book clubs. I was up in my head all day and that is bonkers. No wonder I wasn’t living, I was never in my body and using the gifts that I was given that can glide through water or walk barefoot across plush grassy fields or climb mountains. I feel more grounded when I hug trees.
Twenty-Two Lessons from 2022
- Cringing is cool. It shows growth. Embrace that and be proud of it. I feel it every time I open a letter from my past self and I secretly love it.
- Validate your feelings. They are all acceptable and meant to be seen rather than ignored or numbed.
- Stop making life black or white. Life does not fit perfectly into boxes so stop expecting your self to fit into either this or that.
- The passage of time is sad yet celebratory. I earned this age. I am not a victim of it. Embrace every season of life,
- Sadness and love are similar feelings. When I couldnt journal for 5 days ever night I cried. Love and sadness are closely correlated. And I couldn't Journal last night all emotions are okay embrace the feeling rather than numbing. Choose to validate it and have it be less intense. Life is all about moments and experiences not either this or that. Stop making it so black and white.
- We need to notice boredom instead of running away from it. Be mindful with how you use your phone rather than having you use it. If something is free, your attention is the transaction.
- Laugh. If you will laugh about it tomorrow, why not start laughing about it today? I don’t mean this to avoid feeling the feeling, but that you can take something less seriously and save yourself some pain by letting it go.
- Feelings add texture to life. They are meant to be touched and felt not latched on to and suffocated or avoided or overthought. Just feel them.
- My role model in life is an unabashedly untamed banyan tree. She has seasons to bloom and seasons to proven with roots growing, stable and grounded into the ground but also from above. So I'm being like a banyan tree. It is content, yet not complacent. Because the rings are being added to the trunk each year. It fully accepts its growth. It's unabashedly about what it needs. Like the sun, soil and water.
- Life without my journal is a much more confusing place. I am attached to my practice. It is okay to have attachments as long as I am aware of the suffering I may cause down the road.
- Dive deeper into envy. Wherever I feel jealous of someone it's because I subconsciously am envious of them. And there's something at the root of it that I need to unravel.
- When you give love, finding love is easier. If I light candles, write letters and eating tasty food for myself, it feels seamless to bring light, write kindness and share tastienss with others around me.
- Beauty is all around us if you choose to notice. Like in the beautiful flowing words of the song like Aloha ke Akua. Or while seeing the smiling face of Hugh Jackman performing The Music Man on Broadway like it was his first time tap dancing. Or noticing how much wonder and imagination went in the cinematography to capture a movie the Avatar.
- Experiences are transferable. You never know how one thing will lead to the next. Trust the trajectory that you're on.
- Competitions can be exhilarating. I get why there's hyper around races. Endorphins are enlivening.
- It's easier to always say no rather than overthink sometimes saying yes. I found myself drinking when I gave myself permission to want to belong impulsively and spontaneously.
- Zoom out on your progress. It's humbling to be next to the pros, but also go next to the beginners and gain some perspective and appreciation for how far you've come along your way. I realized this when I took my sister surfing in December.
- Embrace your needs without shame. I need accountability for my fitness. I need to make money so I need to advocate for myself. I also am okay with being alone. But I can get lonely and I want to have friends who can support me and be my lifeline.
- Lean into your quirks. It's really fun. I love writing letters. I love finding the history of words. And where are they been and how they turned into what they are.
- Learn together. It's so much more fun than going it alone. That's why I started the Poem Project in December. More time to be connected.
- It’s okay to let go. It’s quite honestly brave and not a failure. I don't know how long I'll be on this bus ride of life. Currently, I’ve got a shave ice journaling shop, surfboard in it, and a best friend Emily, or are the journal that I'm designing. I don't know how long all these projects, people are going to be here. So I want to hold on to them tight and embrace them and enjoy them. It’s naive to think that every interest I have will be with me forever. So when I'm doing the thing, I want to be fully present and embrace it because
- Pen pals inject surprise. If you are crazy at all like me, shoot me over your mailng address and I would love to mail you a letter. It brings me so much joy and there’s so much surprise in putting thoughts into words onto paper and sending them to someone new.
- Avg resting heart rate: 55bpm
- Avg high heart rate: 135 bpm
- Steps: 2,851,864 steps
- Miles walked: 1,360.8 mi (9,381 steps daily)
- Miles run 2021: 208.2 mi (average 4 mi weekly)
- Miles run 2022: 130.5 mi (avg 2.5 mi weekly)
- Fastest 5k: 30:12 mi on 11/26/22
- Fastest 10K: 1:05:06 on 11/6/21
- Longest and fastest (and only) half marathon: 2:20:50 on 11/6/21
- The difference in miles run: 36.35% decrease
- Miles biked: 105.1 mi
- Most steps in a day: 69,253 steps on 11/3/22 for my 12-hour walk
- Most steps in a month: 522,539 steps in 7/31/21 (intesting how my old job had me walking so much)
All these stats from last year reflect from when I received my Garmin watch in July 2021
My Three Words for 2023
In 2023, Peace, Courage, and Connection are my main words.
Definition: The ability to do something in the face of fear. Strength to venture, persevere and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.
Four relevant quotes:
- “Courage is like—it’s a habitus, a habit, a virtue: You get it by courageous acts. It’s like you learn to swim by swimming. You learn courage by couraging.” - Brené Brown
- “There is no courage without vulnerability.” - Brené Brown
- “People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously. This is how character is built.” -Eleanor Roosevelt
- “Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice….have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.” -Steve Jobs
Why this word?
For much of my life I have made decisions by keeping my older wiser self in mind. I want to minimize regret and cultivating courage has been the best way for me to become aware of my fear and act in spite of it.
How will Courage show up in my 2023?
- Make writing the most important thing I do all year. Vulnerable and playful. Cozy and exploratory. Bare minimum, I will be continuing at my current cadence with weekly Letters from a learn-it-all.
- Acting 101 course. Currently giving this a whirl and it’s leaps outside my comfort zone. Also, wildly humiliating. Hopefully this will become more fun by the end of the four weeks.
- Launch a Poetry 101 course. This will be with the lovely Ellen Fishbein and promote her poetry collection Spacefaring.
- Create my own credibility through my writing. I would like to do this by publishing a book project of some sort. Some initial ideas: Notes to Self is my current idea. I outlined it here. Alternatively, a compilation of the past three years of my writing themed into sections.
- Compete in my first Olympic distance triathlon. This is in Honolulu on May 21st. Consider the national triathlon in Milwaukee in August if all goes well.
- Visit a foreign country: Malaysia. This flight has been booked for three weeks April to May. This will be my first time going to Southeast Asia for the first time. More specifically Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The dream is to connect with locals to learn about the culture, go scuba diving, test how much spicy food I can eat, and to find some new peace inspiration in the temples.
- Run HOPA journaling workshops. These will be in schools around Oahu, Hawaii. My first one is for an 8th-grade class next Friday on February 10th.
- Sail a voyage. What, when, and where is still to be decided. I’d like for this to be at least a week long. I know that will create a lot of scariness within me.
Definition: Freedom from disturbance. Tranquility.
Three relevant quotes:
- “If it costs you your peace, it's too expensive.” - Nassim Nicholas Taleb
- “Peace is happiness at rest; happiness is peace in motion.” - Naval Ravikant
- “A rational person can find peace by cultivating indifference to things outside of their control.” - Naval Ravikant
Why this word?
I have felt like I am either rebelling again societal norms going against the grain or trying to go with the tides and pleasing other people my whole entire life. I am tired of it. I want to have peace and trust that it doesn’t matter if I please or rebel against anyone. I want, no I need, to find inner peace in hopes that it will ripple out to others around me.
How will Peace show up in my 2023?
- Maintain my ongoing schedule of movement with walking at least 8K steps/ day. Movement makes me feel good and my body to feel seen.
- Continue weekly stretching. This included regular attempts to become more flexible and when possible go to yoga classes.
- Hele Malie Backpacking Zen Sesshin Round 2. This will take place in May with the Diamond Sangha I am a member of.
- Seeing a therapist. I will make my mental health a priority. This will start with therapy. I’d also like to have regular check-ins with other doctors become a part of my adult routine like with chiropractics, massage therapy, and gynecology.
- Create a train-the-trainer education program for the aforementioned journaling workshops. When this process is created to scale the impact of the journaling process, peace of mind will follow.
- Apply to the Peace and Conflict Education Graduate Certificate. This is a one-year program through the university of Hawai’i at Manoa School of Communication. The deadline is coming up. (If I don’t get accepted for the scholarship, I intend to buy the books and find a way to still learn what is taught in the program.)
- Relationship with technology and my phone. At of the end of my week I get notified about my screen time going up or down. My mood shifts based on these numbers. This is an adhoc experiment I want to run.
- Continue writing letters to my future self. It has been a practice I started a couple of years ago that allows me to make decisions more confidently after I know myself more intimately. An ancillary benefit from it has been like a reward for me to cope with the passage of time.
Definition: To join, unite, or cohere
Why this word?
I like to learn in tandem with friends because it makes it more fun. I love “show and tell”. I want to fully embrace and own the fact that connection is a human need that I don’t want to shy away from.
- “The conductor of an orchestra doesn’t make a single sound (he connects people and empowers them).” — Benjamin Zander
- “You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.” — Steve Jobs
- “To develop a complete mind: Study the science of art; Study the art of science. Learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else.” ― Leonardo da Vinci
How will Connection show up in my 2023?
- Show my parents my home. In March, they’re visiting me and I cannot wait to have new adventures in Kauai and Oahu with them. Swimming, long beach walks and eating lots of shave ice together.
- Show friends my home. I know Hawaii is a faraway land but I when my sister visited me last year I felt such a grander appreciation for where I live and simultaneously loearned a lot. I genuinely want to mention to friends to come out to me.
- Finding more true fans. I’m still in shock I’ve made it this far. 500 readers in about three years and over half of my fellow learn-it-alls open my letters. I’m still striving to get to my 1000 true fans. That’s the dream.
- Facilitate tea parties. These will be intimate gatherings with friends to converse about life. I was gifted so much tea that I will have enough to last me until 2024 unless I share it.
- Take a vacation in the summer. I did that last year on a road trip across the Netherlands prompted by my cousin’s wedding and that was lovely. I am open to where that could be this year. I much enjoyed the spaciousness and opportunity to reconnect with friends. Subleasing my Honolulu apartment and bopping around the mainland again would be fun as well as some quality time on Walloon Lake, where Earnest Hemingway used to hang out. Oh, how I love it there. Kid Rock was onto something in his song All Summer Long, “It was summertime in Northern Michigan.”
- Seeing a favorite musician live. Noah Kahan in September. This will be with my dear friend once she gets back from deployment.
- Become a journalist-esque writer. Conduct interviews and start a company HOPA (House of Pure Aloha) newsletter that will spotlight the community members in the One World O’hana.
- To make at least four introductions a month for Q1. Within my network, there are so many like-minded people that I know for a fact would bring joy to one another’s lives. I’ve added a relation to my CRM in Notion that will hold me accountable to making these introductions. Khe Hy calls these “Mutually Beneficial Introductions” or MBIs.
- Calligraphy snail mail. This is something that I would like to start where I have some accountability for learning calligraphy while writing letters to friends and adding something unique and memorable.
- Leave 12 book reviews. These will go on GoodReads with highlights and on my website. Even if the books are not complete. This gives me a point to jump off and reflect on what I have read so far. Last year, many books impacted me but I never typed up or shared my notes. I’m creating a system to be accountable with this. I change my mind often, so this feels daunting, so I’ll be channeling some courage to do this as well.
- Historical figure podcast club. Instead of a book club, why not try a podcast club? My dad loves consuming podcasts more than anyone I know so I’d like to start this with him to make it less daunting.
Intentions for 2023
I’ve spent a fair amount of time sleeping and thinking about what these three words Peace, courage, and connection will be. They are my intentions and the theme that will be the primary levers that I make decisions in my life around. I am stoked to see where these lead me as I live out my life. I trust that these will lead me to fond place that my future self will be grateful for.
If you’d like to stay up to date on my learning journey, you can join along below:
Last, but certainly not least, this is who I am most grateful for
- To my roommate in O’ahu Emily for being my best friend, doing gymnastics to help me get back into my bedroom, and teaching me more about what selflessness is all about
- To my family especially my mom, dad, brother, sister, Aunt Lindy, and cousin Christa for providing their support as I continue living across the world in a foreign place
- To my friends here in Hawaii I've met surfing, in bookstores, and playing beach volleyball, especially Carter Anne, Sara, Hannah, Rebecca, Hannah, Tom, Mel, Eric, Miro, Jenna and many others.
- To my Dutch family for hosting me over the summer with open arms and making sure I never went hungry (quite the opposite with all the cheese and bread).
- To the brides and groom for having me at their weddings: Thomas Ridella, Joosefine Vermet, Katlyn Dannewitz, Kat Trost, & Claire Husaynu
- To Bronson for taking a chance on me to bring into his small business alongside other team members including Uncle Clay, Aria, Quincy, Julie, and Windy.
- The Internet friends I got to meet up with: Matt Yao, Dan McGlinn, Brendan Stec, David Nebinski, Bryan Wish, Jon Borichevskiy, Isaac Lien
- To David Perell, Will Mannon, and the Write of Passage team for hiring me on to be a mentor of their writing school
- To my WOP friends and all the mentors and students I got the privilege to learn alongside and lead
- To the course creators that sparked new learnings for me: Nate Kadlac’s Approachable Design, Miki Tomita’s Foundations of Aloha course, Tiago Forte’s Building a Second brain, and Jee Hudson for creating the Connection Challenge
- To the non-profit organization, Ceeds of Peace for creating such a lovely program of workshops on how people can come together to build peace
- To Foster Writing Community for being a continuous place I feel welcome to share my writing and elevate it
- The meeting of the minds newsletter mastermind group started with
- Lastly, a shoutout to those who helped me bring this piece to light: Heather King, Michelle Varghoose, Theresa Murphy, Sara Campbell, Allie Crawford, Lisa Dawson, Kym Ellis
These are just to list a handful. If I missed you, know that you matter as well. Thank you for making this year the best one of my life. I appreciate you all. I am beyond grateful to call myself a dyslexic reader, writer, creator, and lover of life.
Here’s to a bright future ahead full of joyous play, love, laughter, and learning for the rest of our lives.
If you’d like to stay up to date on my learning journey, you can join along below: