31 Things I learned at 31

Recently my birthday passed, and I wanted to reflect on everything I learned when I was 31. It seems like no matter how old I get I'm always learning more. (And actually one key thing, I'm learning more and more how right my parents were... about almost everything.) While I know I'll never be perfect, I want to always strive to grow in character and know myself better. 

1. Keeping in touch with friends and family takes work, but it’s worth it.

2. Moving a business is not easy, but God can change the direction of my life and business in the most unexpected and wonderful ways.

3. The only way for me to keep a house/apartment clean is to tidy a little every day throughout the day.

4. Living in my own house is a dream.

5. Marriage is better than I could have imagined.

6. I will probably never fully understand southern culture.

7. To reach my goals I have to focus on small, consistent steps. (That’s how I reached my reading goal!)

8. Don’t knock it before you try it. I was skeptical of living of Birmingham, but I actually love it more than anything. 

9. I never knew just how much I loved surprises until I married a man who loved to surprise me.

10. Waking up early, early to drive Lance to work is a good thing. I dislike the waking up aspect of driving him to work, but I love to be awake for the entire morning. I’m just so productive. I love it. 

11. I love shooting film. Who knew? I love instant film, but I discovered how wonderful shooting on a film SLR was.

12. Hiking is really one of my favorite activities.

13. “Buggy” is the southern term for a shopping cart. “Keeping a baby” means babysitting. And “dinner” sometimes means lunch. 

14. Alabama heat and humidity isn’t nearly as bad as I was told it was. 

15. Alabama is incredibly colder than I thought it’d be.

16. I love road trips. In fact I might say that I love a road trip more than international travel. Maybe. 

17. I can’t travel the way I used to (all the time and for long periods of time). I can’t bear being away from Lance for long. Plus… I’m old now. 

18. I don’t have to go to a non-denominational church to be happy. I feel more at home at my current church, which is Lutheran, than any church I ever attended before. 

19. Owning real plants that stay alive make me feel alive.

20. You can never have too many blankets.

21. You can make friends in the most unexpected places and situations. 

22. Fried green tomatoes are delectable. I’ve been missing out my whole life. 

23. Lance has impeccable taste in tv shows and movies. (Thank you for making me watch Mad Max.)

24. Driving is fun (but still terrifying).

25. I like grocery shopping and running errands.

26. How to cook corned beef. Woot!

27. The library is truly a magical place. I’m so sad it took me so long to take advantage of it.

28. I just don’t have the energy to be a night owl anymore. I need to be in bed before midnight. 

29. It always pays to be kind and nice.

30. You can never say “I love you” too much. 

31. It only gets better.


My Lemon Poppy Birthday Cake, Feast & Forest, 212 24th Street North, Birmingham, AL | Canon 5d markii + 50mm 1.2L

Taking Control of What I Share Online

Have you heard of the Sudo app?  It’s a powerful app with a pretty awesome concept based on empowering people while they use the internet and connect with people.  Every day I use the internet, whether it’s to browse ebay for furniture for our new house or to connect with clients for my business.  And while I use the internet, I may unknowingly be sharing my personal information online.  That’s where Sudo comes in.  It’s a “powerful new way to protect your safety, privacy and personal data when you’re socializing and connecting online and off.”

I personally love the idea of Sudo.  With Sudo I can create a free persona with its own phone number and email address.  That information can be used whenever I need to protect my private information. Ever since I started marketing my business online I've received a steady flow of spam calls because I had to list my phone number in the ad. Now that I have Sudo, that doesn't happen anymore! Instead of sharing my personal phone number or paying to create a business line, I can just use my Sudo phone number. I feel like I've been able to take back control of my personal information. I also love that I can give clients this separate phone number. Once in a while I get that one client that wants to contact me at all hours of the night, so Sudo helps me keep balance and boundaries between my personal and business life.  

Some of Sudo’s key features include safe communication; a secure browser for safe online browsing and shopping; private personas to use to call, text and email people; SudoVault which is a safe payment method; and Social: SudoSpace which is more private way to connect with people.

If you're worried about your personal information while using the internet, this is the app for you.  Sudo is available now if you have an iphone; you can download it now.  It's coming to android based phones soon, so join the waitlist, and keep at eye out for their future roll out for the Mac OS desktop app!

Disclaimer: This blog post was sponsored by Sudo. While I did receive compensation for writing this post, all the content and opinions are my own. 


Birmingham, AL. March 22, 2016 | Canon 5d Markii + 50mm 1.2L

Be Bold

Remember my post "My 5 Game-Changing Takeaways from The Collective of Us" with Cyndie Spiegel? Well, she's opening up applications for new members to The Collective of Us.  The Collective of Us is an exclusive community of supportive and caring creatives and entrepreneurs.  You should really read my 5 game-changing takeaways to see everything I learned and gained by being a part of this community. And to get a taste of everything you'll learn by joining The Collective of Us,  Cyndie's putting on an amazing FREE 3-part "Bold: Permission Granted to Thrive" Video Training Series.

Coincidentally, her first video, "Fearlessness is a Unicorn" (I had no idea that was the topic!) came out the day after my post, "It's All at Your Fingertips" about choosing fearlessness. It talks about squashing the idea of “fearlessness” and becoming curious instead. In that first video you'll discover:

  • The truth about being fearless and how to kick butt in ALL areas of your life
  • How to live in the presence of fear and use it to leap forward
  • KEY exercises that will change the way you use fear to live more boldly in everything that you do

If my post about choosing fearlessness resonated with you at all, but you were at a loss as to how to practically overcome fear and embrace fearlessness, this video is definitely for you.  Cyndie is so good about breaking things down into practical, actionable items that you easily apply to your life and business.

Her second video, "“Rock Your Awesome - EXACTLY As You Are" which aired yesterday discusses feeling so empowered that you're confident in creating what you want in life. In this video Cyndie's revealing:

  •  Key tools to accept who you are, flaws and all AND how you can use those perceived flaws as the ticket to your success
  • How to stop comparing yourself to others and become even stronger because of the success of others, rather than in spite of them

So if you want no-BS, legitimate advice that you can listen to and implement right away - then this is series for you!

I'm most excited about Cyndie's third video which comes out tomorrow, March 17.  Cyndie is going to share the key to creating a successful business and life, collectively. For me, being a part of The Collective of Us is everything.  Not only did I get valuable guidance and a kick-in-the-pants from Cyndie, but I got so much support and advice from the community of The Collective of Us. In this video she goes into the nitty gritty detail as to how to stop feeling so alone in our creative careers and how to create awesome instead, together! In this video you'll find:

  • The truth about building a tribe for your small business success
  • How to build the right type of tribe for your specific goals and business
  • Finally, I’ll offer you one key component for collectively aligning your voice inside with the work that you do in the world

Honestly, Cyndie and The Collective of Us totally turned my business around and gave me new perspective about how to run and grow it.  If you really want to know how you can do the same for your life and your business, you should totally watch these videos!  And as a bonus, on March 17, 5pm EST Cyndie will be hosting a LIVE call where you can ask her anything you'd like about these videos and exercises. Grab a seat while you can!

P.S. This is an amazing free video series that I'm sharing because I totally believe in Cyndie and The Collective of Us.  While I do not receive any payment for promoting this video series, I will receive a small commission if you decide to join The Collective of Us. Cyndie is an incredible source of inspiration and strategy for many women including myself and business, and I want to share the love. I'd honestly promote her and The Collective of Us with or without the commission. It's really that good. 


Birmingham Botanical Gardens, 2612 Lane Park Rd, Birmingham, AL 35223. April 2, 2015 | Canon Rebel XSN, Kodak Gold Film processed by Richard Photo Lab

Why Chinese New Year is important to me as an Asian-American

Growing up in California, there was no shortage of culture to expose myself to. I grew up listening to ska music and loving tacos.  I felt like I was just a typical Californian-kid, but at the same time I was very aware that I was both Asian and American.  

On my father’s side, our family has lived in America since the late 1800s, living, for the most part, in northern California ever since.  On my mother’s side, my grandfather came to America in the early-mid 1900s, fought in World War II for America, then my grandmother and uncle came over to join him.  My mother’s family lived in Chicago, Mississippi, then eventually set roots in California where my mother grew up and fell in love with my dad.  I felt like I had the best of both worlds.  A family that was deeply rooted in both American and Chinese culture.  

For as long as my family has lived in America, I’m thankful I still grew up with a lot of Chinese tradition. To this day, I still can’t set a tea pot down if it’s pointing at someone (bad luck) or stick a pair of chopsticks in a bowl of rice (more bad luck).  While my parents and grandparents weren’t remotely superstitious, they instilled in me an appreciation of Chinese culture and traditions.  I have fond memories of Chinese holidays, learning about my heritage and celebrating in traditional ways.

I remember Chinese New Year the most of the holidays. Eating that scaring looking dish that looks like hair but tastes delicious (Jai) and stuffing my mouth with sweets like dried coconut strips covered in sugar, Chinese mochi (Tei), and those fried pastry looking things with sugar and nuts inside. I loved that everyone gave everyone else bags of oranges.  And, let’s be honest, I loved getting red envelopes, too.  

While I am American, it’s really important to me to hold on to my Chinese culture. Chinese New Year always reminded me of the importance of strong family bonds and my connection to my Chinese heritage, and that’s why I loved it so much.  I think it's incredible that after over a century in America, my family is still in touch with their Chinese culture.  If you talk to most families who've lived in America for a long time, you'll notice that the longer their family has been in America the further they are from their original culture. I'm thankful that's not the case with my family. 

Since marrying Lance and moving to Alabama, it’s become even more important to me to stay in touch with my Chinese roots. I'm not sure if or when Lance and I will ever move back to California or a diverse area, so I know it will become harder over the years to preserve my Chinese culture.  I don't want to ever lose that connection to either of my backgrounds.  When Lance and I have children, they’ll have an even harder time being a mix of Chinese and White.  For them I want to hold on to as much Chinese culture as possible so they will always know where they come from. So you can bet, even though I don’t know any Chinese people here, I’m celebrating in my own way (i.e. watching dragon & lion dances on youtube and hopefully acquiring some oranges at some point to feast on.) 

Happy Chinese New Year! Sun Nin Fai Lok! Gung Hay Faat Choy! 


Chinatown, New York. April 19, 2011 | Canon 5d markii