Personal development in the time of COVID-19

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When I reflect back on what I accomplished during the forced closures and shut downs caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, I have very valid reasons why I did not perfect my bread making skills, learn a new language, pick up a musical instrument, improve my physical health, or become cryptocurrency rich.

However, all across media, we saw reports of how people were able to utilize their free time to learn new skills, indulge in hobbies, explore themselves, and so much more. In its attempt to provide positive coverage of the social conditions, the media insisted that we were given the free time to do as we’ve always wanted. And although it is perfectly acceptable to have taken the time to just relax as well, I couldn’t help but want a slew of personal accomplishments for myself, too!

Better late than never, I set to make a change late last year.

I picked up an instrument: the recorder flute. It is affordable—low opportunity cost, portable—I can practice anywhere, and there are tons of instructions and free material available to keep me interested. Should I feel confident enough, perhaps I will share a song or two.

With the purchase of a Duolingo subscription, I’m on my way to learning (at the minimum) conversational Spanish; and German and Mandarin, too, if I have the mental capacity.

To improve my health, I became a vegetarian. I’ve been making it a point to do a weekly run, with added stretching and exercises during the week. Next week, I’ll be competing against the clock in my first 5K for the year.

On top of a full-time job, mom duty, and being a present spouse, I am already pooped! But more determined than ever to keep it up, all the while wondering how I am going to keep all of those 2022 new years resolutions we just set last month. 

Did you have any accomplishments during the pandemic?

The privilege of my Asian-American identity

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I recognize my privilege everyday when I look out the window of my white-dominant suburban neighborhood and am reminded that I’m guarded by a paranoid neighborhood watch. I recognize my privilege when I can sit and back read about other people’s histories and experiences without being triggered. I recognize my privilege when I can navigate safely into a white space without someone else feeling threatened. I recognize my privilege when I can fade into a crowd as quiet and law-abiding.

However, I don’t know what it’s like to be a member of the majority in a demographic, neither here nor in a motherland across the sea. I don’t know what it’s like to truly belong in one’s country; in fact, I’m not really sure what that really means as a person of color and daughter of refugee immigrants. And I don’t know what it’s like to casually exist in a space, including my own home, without a care in the world. For all of the times I’ve been questioned about where I come from, where I live, if I speak English and how I learned it, and why I exist in this particular space here and now, how could I ever sit comfortably in a place where I have to justify my existence by educating other people of my history and actively change my behavior in order to blend in, in an environment where I’m constantly reminded that my status is up for debate despite the hard facts — which apparently can be alternative at any moment.

Since the coronavirus took over the world in 2020, the legitimacy and fault of Asian-Americans have been in question since the then-president strategically and regularly referred to the coronavirus as the “Chinese Virus.” Somehow, in this “woke” society that exists simultaneously with an abundance of information, those words actually turned emotions into conversations that germinated the seed of Asian hate.

As a cynic, I understand that every action has its own explanation. But how do we justify the recent string of events as single, outlying behaviors derived from the perpetrators’ own demons: when a Chinese-American stranger is stabbed on the street, when a killing spree targeting Asian-owned businesses alleviates a “bad day,” when the District Attorney minimizes the murder of a Thai-American grandfather as a “tantrum,” when Trump’s language is enough to stab a Chinese-American family unit, and when Asian-American elders are consistently targeted. The obvious answer is that the perpetrators feel that their communities compel them to become saviors by attacking those who, in deduced illogical reason, are to blame for the culmination of loss that was 2020. So, in this case, it would be anyone resembling a stereotypical Chinese look?

Asian-targeted hate crimes have been on the rise in the recent past, and are still ongoing. Of those incidents reported, 68 per cent are against women which only adds another layer of fear, in addition to the countless incidents not reported. As I reflect, I know with a certainty that any one of my friends, family members, and even myself, could have been and could be a victim. Unfortunately, we will continue to be victims unless we take back the narrative, speak out and are heard.

As I navigate this world with my dark hair, tan-olive skin and almond eyes, I am aware that despite my privilege, I am not casually safe until this conversation turns into real palpable change — a change that includes people of every color, shape, and size. The Asian-American community and I are not perpetual foreigners and should not be treated as such. I refuse to accept the idea that we are of the model minority. I have to take up space, and I will.

What’s up: an update

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The other night I had a nightmare in which I was unable to form an essay and articulate it in class. I was so disappointed in myself and began to blame the teacher for not giving me enough time to put together a sound and reasonable argument. When I awoke, I realized that I had actually neglected my dreams of being a creative being and writer to no one’s fault but my own.

In particular, I have also neglected this website… for a year and counting! I came to a crossroads wherein I didn’t know how to continue this website and so, I just kind of stopped.

In 2015, I found myself working for a growing and beautiful Spanish resort company; however as much as I enjoyed the opportunity, I needed to leave the position to focus on my small family. Even during the transition from working and constantly being on the move to becoming (mostly) settled and focusing on home life, I still felt an eagerness to learn, discover and be part of something bigger.

Luckily I found enough inspiration to challenge myself through illustration and have been drawing almost everyday since. I picked up my tumblr account and started posting bits of my illustration at chamomile notes.tumblr.com. If you should view them, please leave comments.

As we are moving into 2016, I intend to start writing more, and more often, and I would also like to continue illustration. My hope is to be able to keep this website updated more regularly.

On to 2016… *cheers*

I am unique because…

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While I’ve been swimming in the job market, looking for my next opportunity, I’ve often found myself discouraged and really down. I’ve found myself being passed up for entry-level positions like data entry clerk and receptionist, and I start to feel like my credentials aren’t good enough to be a good candidate for any role. But that’s not true because there are lots of reasons why I am unique and just haven’t found the perfect organization to grow in. For now, we can start with five reasons why I am unique.

1. I’m efficient, especially when I get to call the shots and can keep my team focused. Added that I am punctual and do well with meeting deadlines, my efficiency gets a boost and those daunting tasks are checked off as quickly as it was to write them down. I’ve always been complimented on how quickly I’ve gotten things done.

2. I like to learn new things. And I take the new things I learn and file them in a wrinkle in my brain to be referenced at a later time if/when necessary. Life is a series of building things upon things. People have told me that I’m really “sharp,” but I just take things that are given or said to me to heart.

3. I’m creative. I like learning new things and I also like combining information and new ideas to be more efficient, thus I am creative. In the creative category, I also like to illustrate, draw, photograph, write — pretty much produce my own original pieces whenever possible. I’m actually teaching myself (with the help of lynda.com) Adobe Illustrator.

4. There is always room for improvement. Sometimes I think it would be so great to be so confident that I thought I was the best at everything I do — you know how they say, “Fake it ’til you make it,” but I’m of the mentality that I can become better. I read biographies, self-help books, quotes. I ask strangers for their opinion on random subjects. I will never be perfect, but I can be better. I am always doing something.

5. I’m genuinely and highly motivated. I don’t just want to get a job anywhere, I want to find a position that will contribute to my professional growth. I don’t want to just relish in becoming an assistant, I want to surpass that eventually and take on bigger projects. I truly and honestly want to grow into a career where I can own what I do and where I am.

Want to know more reasons why I am unique? Comment, tweet me, reach me and let me know!

Taking photos

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Last Christmas, I got a Canon T3i for a present and I’ve finally started to really use it. I’ve read books about photography of all kinds, watched some videos online about how to take good pictures, even checked Lynda.com for tutorials about lighting and I’m constantly browsing Tumblr and Pinterest to see what “interesting” photos are suppose to look like.

I decided to stick some of my better photos on a blog so I can see if I’ve finally develop some sort of style and improved if any.

Here’s the link, if anyone’s interested.

photosbygaoli.wordpress.com

Meanwhile, I’ll be accepting free feedback.

Thanks!