My Happier Now

This morning, the air turned ever so slightly cooler.

I was on my way to work. Picked up a coffee while waiting for my uber. The ride felt shorter than when I first started; I’d stopped looking up.

The days felt fuller and harder;  and I was more sure.

 

This year, 2018, I believe, has been one of the greatest years of my life.

Had the best last year of college living with my two best friends. Supported by my core group of friends in every occasion. Graduated college and proudly put a smile on my parents. A company flew me back to San Francisco for an interview and offered me a full time position right after. I got to move back home, work in the field I love, and on something along the line of what I want to achieve eventually.

And in 2018, I learned this, I didn’t become a happier person (new year same me bish) when my accomplishments are realized. Some of the happiest moments of 2018 were surrounded my accomplishments: hugging my parents after graduation, seeing the faces of the friends I love at my house party, killing shots at happy hour after a long day of work.

But so many of the best moments I had this year are the ones that always make me happy: spend time with family, grow closer to my friends, wander around new places, and write when I can.


 

Even so, this year, I’ve coped with a large amount of negativity – a big ego, self-depreciation, the lack of mindfulness, the list can go on and go on. Basically, despite all the accomplishments, I hated myself.

We behave, interpret, and make decision through the lens of our childhood, our upbringing.

While many of us are aware of this, we often neglect how long this process can span.

Moving to the states at a late teen age, I spent so much time adapting to a new language, to an extent where it shaped my self-perception, and I didn’t even notice.

For a very long time, I struggled through multiple identities. I hated myself for not being articulate enough to express my words, for having an accent people would notice the second I opened my mouth. I hated myself for not being good enough. Especially when I was always among the tops as a kid.

I went through days suffocating my emotions, my words.

My vocal would shake before I made any movement. I couldn’t talk for more than 5 minutes without feeling afraid that I was being annoying. I couldn’t look into somebody’s eyes for more than 5 second without feeling embarrassed – a confession would be the end of me.

“Who was it that made you hate yourself so much?”

It was me. Not anyone else. It was my own ego.

 

Here’s the thing. Historically, I have not been a person easily discouraged by life. The sheer tenacity, competitiveness, and persistence were ingrained in me ever since I was a kid – even more evident when I was a kid.

When multiple options are present, I’m naturally drawn to the one I most want (despite how unsuitable that may be to me). But what sounds like a desirable quality in academia does not actually work in real life.

“That’s my only option.”

“He’s too good to me.”

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“It’s not supposed to feel this way.”

My tunnel vision only allowed me to see what was deeply rooted in my head. Every red flag I was blinded to. All the toxic behaviors I allowed others to hurt me. The envy and jealousy arisen when feeling lacking. All rooted in my big ego.

No matter how well aware I was of this tragic flaw. I wanted to keep being wrong.

 

I was digging in people/things for what I didn’t have, out of fears and insecurities from when I was little. I didn’t get the love/affirmation I grew accustomed to and developed this inability to trust that it was going to be okay because I’d never felt this way before.

Identify the feelings. Here’s what I’m learning. Whenever I felt myself spinning, I’d try to go beyond the surface level and ask what I was afraid of and why, just “why, why, why” … until the point I couldn’t anymore.

Usually the interrogation ended with “because if this doesn’t happen, I won’t be good enough.”

But there’s no “enough” or “not enough.”

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Blessings come in many different forms.

On the first day I moved back home, I totaled my car.

I can’t describe how terrifying I was. How destroyed I was at my inability to control the situation in the face of an accident. I couldn’t sleep that night. I was so scared of the consequence until later I figured out, I ditched a huge financial burden by crashing my car.

It was a blessing in disguise, I guess.

You never know what or how many times God would make you go through, but mostly because you have to. Some people would come back to test if you’d grasped the lesson the first time, and it’s okay if you didn’t.

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Despite my desire to see you again, a tiny voice told me I shouldn’t knowing how toxic we can be to or for each other. While we aren’t as young as we once met, I think we are still too young to prioritize love over self establishment.

I’ve made a lot of personal progress this year and I know how easily I could regress. I’m a slower learner in life. I learn by getting lost. I am the person who much fall down the rabbit-hole and rabbit-hole and poke around.

This is the thing about growing up – the brain recognizes patterns faster, since ultimately that is what the brain is meant to do.

With more life behind you, there is more context. And perspective is one hell of a gift.

Today, after work, I cleaned my room, vacuumed the floor, hung up clothes that were lying around, did the laundry. Lit up my fig tree scented candle because I read somewhere about how it helped with mood. Talked to my mom while she was meal prepping.

Today was a good day, and I know it only gets better from here.

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Love always,

Yolie

 

 

 

NYC: This Is Us

Here for my high school grad trip and again right after graduating collage. Returning to New York City, I found almost everything as I left it – as if I’d merely step out for a bit in the middle of a game, then returned, four years later, to resume it. But this time, with more peeps, and a more thorough itinerary. Visited grandma and reunited with the cousin. Tripped down the stairs at the Met. Got a tan at central park, with the friends whom I used to talk about future with. Now the future is there. Time is remarkable. Things come back at some point in your life. Old joy you guys – it comes back, but it’s different, it means more, it’s better.

🙂

On Her

oh her

yeah i know her

when i think of her i see her dancing. but only in the kitchen. music and food to her were love and feeding people was loving them

she carried pasta. babies. boxes and steadiness on her hips the way mothers. movers and queen’s do

i remember that she laughed like a bell. or like windchimes in a storm. piercing tumult with levity that could be heard even in the distance

she had a tendency to look for the eyes in the room that saw the unspoken the same way she did. she found him that way

they heard silence and read undercurrents the same. while those around them heard only spoken words and saw only tangible figures.

she had the ability to curl into the cozy corner of a strangers couch like it was her own and leaves as an already old and trusted friend.

she was comfortable like that – shoeless, makeupless, planless… she had finally settled into her skin once she learned that you can’t feel another’s love fully until you feel your own

she felt the world like shouldering a duffle bag of bricks and when they felt too heavy. she set them down and tried to make something

not always something functional, but whimsical and beautiful and intentional… at the least

she wasn’t great with her hands. but her mind made up for the lack of dexterity. in fact. she was never really the best, but she humbly linked arms with gratitude and recognized that “best” was subjective and perhaps overrated anyhow but humility. integrity. and enthusiasm were. well. unbiased

she was the kind that looked for her reflection in others and was careful that she looked back at someone she wanted to be. if she saw a meanness. she addressed her own. if she saw a lack of awareness. she sought her own accountability.

but really. the reflection was always changing because so was she

and change to her was not just a welcome guest. but a carriage. one she willingly stepped into. because moving anywhere was usually better standing still

so yeah. i know her. i see her heart. because she really tries to show – often and without pretense. it’s confusing to some. but the ones that see it. really do

I am a part of all that I have met.

I am sometimes caught off guard by things that I miss. They are so specific. The purple bouquet on the dining table. The morning commute to my 8am internship when I got to steal a pause and indulge in my cheesy playlist. The nights I came home to my two best friends. We drank wine and poked fun and complained about the most trivial things that had happened during the day. The particular stretch of pavement between my doorstep and the street that I’d walk with equal parts fear and hope before a first date.

Life wasn’t at all stress free, but it felt just the right side of easy. Like faith itself was loose and adept and everywhere.

I had no idea it would feel this way, this place, college, this past year. It never occurred to me that I’d need to miss what I still had – what I’d not yet lost.

Four years of throwing a hook against a stone wall hoping it might catch, quietly panicked it might not.

I’ve come to keep finding some people in parts of me never knew existed – the friends that represent a world in me, a world probably not born until they arrive.

 

Leo

She is one of the most genuine, hilarious, and caring people alive. Ask anyone, and they’ll tell you the same.

She’s witty and sassy and got the most complex jokes that require at least ten seconds of thinking. She loves to buy well curated bouquets of flowers for the house. Particularly with baby’s breath. And she would order her dish different from everyone else’s just so we all can try it.

She is my ENFP twin and I recognize SO MANY tendencies that we share – self-victimizing, liking the familiarity of dramatic occurrences, owning up the secretly dark side of depression in our genes that no one would understand except for us. Our intuitive nature has for more than one time led us down a rabbit hole. We are so similar that I swear if we go to a club, we would undoubtedly hit on the same guy (it has happened twice, actually).

Though we resemble so ambiguously, she has taught me the most about giving, and being kind.

I know by heart that I’m the worst friend ever to anyone, but I’m taking baby steps to try to remember friends’ birthday – people that play a part in my life. I’ve come to share my food more often simply by saying, “wanna try.” And always take the initiative to help others as long as I can.

I refuse to let my bitterness reject and judge others. I refuse to be around anyone for any other reason than to love them.

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I own this more-giving-than-I’ve-ever-been part to Leo.

 

Pieces

I can safely say no one understands my personality better than he does. He is a person with a big heart, and he probably doesn’t even realize it.

I have always like my people a bit damaged. A bit difficult to stereotype. Who’ve seen themselves be cruel. Who’ve felt scary amount of insanity and rage and sadness. Who in all has come to attain familiarity and fluency with both their good and bad parts despite all that.

He is the one who was there for me when I was in a daily battle with depression, by showing me how everyone is tragically flawed, like him, and pushed me through life, anyway. With him, I feel like I am someone who is lucky enough to find someone who shines bright enough to lead me out of the dark.

He sees the best in people. He has always been an active listener to all my first world problems, my mental breakdowns that happen more often than not. He would look past the bad and spot the little things I should first appreciate, helping me see my strengths for myself. He does so effortlessly.

Our conversation runs so fluently, so handily. We would throw out stupid random questions at 8AM in the morning and vow to never speak to each other again, but in reality, he misses hearing his messages blow up at 2AM and I guess I need him in my life, too.

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I always complain about how he doesn’t have an Instagram, because if he does, I could do an appreciation post on all that he did for me, for being there all along. But really, I also don’t think anyone needs to know because I’m certain he does more for others.

Recently I met a person. One time he complained to me about “the obnoxious Asian Asians”. He described them as uneducated, conceited, and ill-behaved based entirely on their one-time behaviors. To me, he appeared as judgmental, contemptuous, and insensitive.

That is not to say he fits into these criteria as a person. But his tone certainly did.

“You gotta accept people for who they are,” I quietly responded.

If one day I find myself solely focusing on the good in people – like this time as I uttered those words, it must’ve been because of Pieces.

I’m thankful to find this capacity in myself.

 

Sagittarius

We are so different.

She is everything that I am not. She possesses everything that I don’t have, – fierce drive, determined discipline, the urge to keep everything organized, and always ask for what she wants to know – all in all, a big personality.

She has a clear list of “non-negotiables,” as I like to call them – the things that she stands for in her decisions and cannot be swayed on.

She likes to make decisions and map out everything in her schedule – like a “control freak” as she would call herself.

Not surprisingly, from her I learnt the most about taking up space, and this is soOoOo important as a woman.

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There were days where all I wanted to do was run myself in circles around lies I couldn’t piece together. I wanted answers but that’s the thing about my nature: it wants me to obsess over things I cannot change, things that I am too afraid of losing, and it wants me to be helpless to move forward.

I remember that one time she was there to push me to don’t play by the rules. Don’t care about the metrics. To send the text, to ask the question. Even though in the end I came to a conclusion that it was better do my relationship my own way. I appreciated it.

There were moments where I came up with all these wild thoughts and she was the one who didn’t see my dreams to be impossible. The one who grounded me in truth but also taught me to reach for more.

There will come a day, in the not so distant future, when I will muster up my courage to be an advocate for all that I want to be. And I will for damn sure know where it all came from.

 

So yes,

“As you grow older, you start to realize you play a role in the becoming of other people. Words either hurt or heal. They build a person up or they cause a person to shrivel. Words hold power and you get to decide, every single day, how you want to use your words. Go for growth. Go that extra mile to encourage someone else. Point people out from the crowd and call out their greatness. You are a grower of people. You get chances every single day to lift others up. It’s an immense responsibility but it can change your whole life. When all else fails: life others up and into the light.”

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As I’m typing this, I’ve just/already graduated. Three weeks into adulthood, and I’m finally able to catch a breath.

Despite all that, I’m mostly surprised by how much I don’t miss. And how so much of what I do miss feels irrevocably lost. As though it’s been packed up and put away.

In fact, it soon will be. In two weeks time I will leave, and I will not look back. I will give thanks for these four years, but my body yearns for what my heart wants.

It’s a decision that I feel deeply and quietly and unambiguously right. Which is to say, I’m excited.

This photo was taken when a company flew me back to San Francisco for an interview, and yesterday they just called to extend me a full time offer. I’ve never thought of my post-grad job search as this easy.

I’m still not sure of most things in life, but one distinct clarity I know of is that, if I stayed in one place, I wouldn’t have much to share or things to write about.

I may never again relive my last year of undergrad. But I am every story I have ever read. And every word I have ever written. I am a part of all that I have met. And I most certainly wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

 

Tying you closer than most,

Yolie

 

 

 

Motherland: Happiness As Simple As That

My mom and I went on a trip away from civilization in a remote area in China. This was for sure not the most glamorous place to visit nor the most quaint town to live in. I wouldn’t necessarily choose this place, if it’s not for my mother.

The trip was hectic, but so worth it.

Hammered silver jewelry and rose petals filled pancakes that repeat themselves on nearly every street. Ethic minorities who pride themselves on their hieroglyphs and exotic cultures. Overnight train where two triple bunk beds are cramped into each tiny compartment.

A liberating and humbling realization of traveling is to experience the differences among people, and learn to embrace them in spite of it. The notion that we are all inhabitants of the same planet yet we live such different lives, pray to different gods, but can still share a raw genuine human connection is just so rad. Here’s some magic to share from a remote part of my motherland, where people lead the simplest and happiest lives.

Yunnan, China

After a week long bus trip, my mom and I flew back to our home city, for my grandma’s birthday.

My mom used to take me to Hong Kong every break to visit my brother and cousins. And Hong Kong has since become one of the places in which I dream of living. A week in this wild city is honestly not enough. And then I’ve come to a realization that you’ll probably never feel that your time spent in one city is ever enough.

Sheung Wan, Hong Kong

Hong Kong, Hong Kong

Shek O, Hong Kong

 

Love always,

Yolie

 

 

 

In Building This Life Pt. 22

2017 has been magic, and not. Or the year of me being 22, as my birthday is only four days away from the end of the year.

All somersaults forward and utter stillness.

All of which, if I had to be honest, was a year-long shitstorm. And I can’t even make it sound pretty.

In 2017, I wanted to walk through the very best door.

In the first two months of this year, I was out of the woods with new perspectives gaining from studying abroad.

I felt recharged. I felt whole. And all until I crashed into someone, falling head over heels.

There are some people who you look at, and you can just tell how the story will end. But when I looked at him, I just knew instinctively, that despite the odds against us and although life would always find a way to test us, I’d look forward to a new day after him.

He isn’t super my type. He doesn’t have the right combination of a 6’ stature and an athletic body. But we met, we clicked. He quickly drew out the long-lost caring and loving side of me. He was the reason why I started to give a fvkc again.

Prettiness aside, we had more than our fair share of ugly arguments. Time and time again we were tested by our differences, idiosyncrasies, and individual flaws that were unavoidably brought to light as any two people move forward.

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When it became clear that our interests didn’t match up, I still held on.

I went from being a confident free spirit to a self-doubting emo cripple staying in an almost-relationship, stagnant and idle.

I couldn’t escape from the feeling that I was unworthy. It was a feeling that taped into almost every other negative emotion I was capable of. I was stuck in a long period of thick depression, fumbling through life half-hearted.

I almost lost it all for someone who had nothing to bring to my table. Who I thought was my very best door.

 

Hope, as it turned out, took quite a lot of work.

Luckily for me, my soul wasn’t going to give up that easily, instead, it led me back to blogging.

Words have always meant everything to me. Words have somehow convinced me that I mustn’t live ordinarily. I must be wild enough to chase after my dreams and then, maybe then, I will become those dreams.

With my first blog created back in middle school, I wrote only in Chinese. I liked to play with words, break conventional grammar rules, which in turned made my peers tilt their heads in confusion – “Reading this is giving me a headache.”

Years later, I still am, surprisingly yet thankfully, embracing writing. For a long while, I’d been seeking my muse, my anchor in English format. As I worked to put together pieces of work, some would comment, “Are you depressed?”

In reality, this is just how I write.

But I don’t find that annoying. I find it rather cute, actually.

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In May, I dedicated myself to this blog. I polished the site to look more professionally, sorting out categories of lifestyle, travel, and more.

I’ve come to own my feelings, take pride in my passion.

Own your stories. Our stories are ours, they belong to us, and we should be able to tell them – not at the convenience of others but when we are ready.

I am a sucker for words, and especially for words that when strung together feel like an entrancing story. Or maybe if I work hard enough the story will sing. It will come out right and strong, it will matter.

You never know.

I remember a time when my cheeks were ablaze, but now the only blaze that flares up is the one in my heart called passion. The passion to move forward. Sometimes the flames dim, like today. But all it takes is a good idea, fuel, to bring the flame alight again.

It’s a tough world out there, but it takes a tougher person to be gentle in it.

 

I practiced forgiveness – for myself, too.

For myself, especially. 

It has taken me a very long time to understand that there are people who are just not good.

This is the time where the whole society is questioning patriarchy, power, and misogyny, #metoo. And for the longest time I withheld the details; I still do to some degree. Out of the fear that people would question me, doubt me. Because I regretted denying my instinct from the beginning which was to avoid him.

For a long while I thought that as everyone aged they’d shed the noise of immaturity to reveal an innate goodness below. They’d be sensitive, soft-spoken. But that in fact takes quite a lot of work and the intelligence to know when it is needed. And some people are so deeply toxic with themselves that it is easier to cast the toxicity outwards and catch others in the net.

It turns out that as one works up the courage to leave the situation all together, it only creates more space to confront it.

Which is why, it is only now, all this time later, that I am loosening my grip. But it is an uncomfortable process. Something very human in me is still reminded of the hurtful snapshots from time to time. Something very human in me is afraid to break free.

 

But through the thick of it,

I’ve come to forgive the people who I love/loved for being as flawed as everyone else, as flawed as I am.

I’ve come to forgive myself for being the one who has to go through all that. There is not one thing you are meant to know before you are meant to know it.

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Despite how open, peaceful, and loving you attempt to be, people can only meet you as deeply as they’ve met themselves. The eyes see only what the mind is ready to comprehend.

I still want to walk through the very best door. 

But I’ve learnt not to make the mistake of choosing the closest available door, as opposed to the best one.

So this is a little PSA (mostly for myself) to say: Try anyway. Do the best you can. Make peace with the imperfection of it. And move tf on. Sometimes your best isn’t quite as great you’d like it to be, but that doesn’t mean it’s not enough.

 

Finally in mid-September, I started to take my life back. Little by little. Piece by piece.

I moved into a new house, living with two of my best friends. Some days were still so damn shitty. But then I was reminded of the women I knew, and I was like. Aite. “We can do this.”

I dug into new possibilities and found myself hooking into data analysis. So much so that transcribing data became my alternative way of translating the non-sense to words. As if writing my own dramas and feelings and anecdotes is not enough and I have to steal the words for other things.

Later in December, I got a job offer at a well-established marketing firm. And that was when I truly reaffirmed that, you attract whatever energy you radiate — again… the Law of Attraction 101. 

 

As life inches forward…

This year was hard. I think I can say that honestly, without addition or pretense. I am so glad this year is ending real soon. And as I’m back home in San Francisco for my last-ever winter break, quietly happy, I couldn’t help but think I’m moving onto 2018, or 23, with everything I might need.

A little bit of grit. A sense of awe. A capacity for both joy and sadness. A clear and meaningful value system. And a deep appreciation for the woman my 22nd year made me – or the woman I became in spite of my 22.

At the end of the day, people don’t really change. But at the end of year, they kinda do.

 

Tying you closer than most,

Yolie

 

 

 

Chicago: Where You Are Your Most Authentic Self

They say that there are feelings you can never find words for, and you will learn to name them after the ones who gave them to you. I’m doing just that, except for me it’s with all the places I’ve been to.

My best friend and I have a few traditions, and traveling every summer is among the most consistent of all. Why are we best friends? I honestly don’t have an answer for that.

We are inherently different in many ways – we have completely opposite personalities, and our logic reasoning contradicts. She, is crazier than I am. I think we can safely say that. Where I am timid or hesitant to make my presence known, she stands right beside me. She makes no apologies and gives zero fvkc. She is a lesson in taking up space – and as a woman – that’s a vital revelation.

Yet we are not so different. We see things from almost identical perspectives. We both come from a long line of fighters, a honest place. There is one doctrine we always hold dear to our heart – on the face of any matter, we act with raw instinct and absolute candor.

Chicago is the sixth city we’ve been to together, and embarrassing stories happened all the time to say the least. They are messy, crazed, and amusing. To mention but a few, in Seattle, we attempted to put in a song request at a club, and of course, no one cared. We then missed our flight back to San Francisco because of a detour to get boba. And during this trip in Chicago, we went out with our Airbnb host and her friends only to get charged extra for the same consequential reason. Just typing these already makes me chuckle a little.

Below I have curated a list of highlights of my time there. Do read on and bookmark these spots if you are planning on a trip to Chicago one of these days.

To do:

  • Willis Tower
    • As an iconic landmark of Chicago, Willis Tower is the tallest observation deck in the city. It offers sensational panoramas of the entire downtown and the extended coastal line. A recent addition – the Ledge – all-glass balconies extending four feet out allows you to look down to the street from the 103rd floor. (Tips: if you plan to take some good photos at the balcony, have your poses ready ahead of time as every person only gets about 30 seconds due to the long line of people waiting.)
  • Navy Pier
    • If you’re a kid at heart, Navy Pier would no doubt be your favorite adventure. This corner city is sort of like a carnival. It contains some rides, a Ferris Wheel, a Shakespeare Theatre, a Children’s Museum, an oddly large number of beer gardens, and even miniature golf.
  • Lake Front Trail
    • A nearly 20 mile recreational area that runs along the Lake Michigan. The waterfront promenade boasts sweeping views of the entire harbor. You’ll find many locals running, walking their dogs , or chilling on the bench.
  • Millienium Park
    • Located right downtown, Millennium Park is one the most stunning bits of urban planning in the city. While there, don’t miss the Cloud Gate sculpture, locally known as “The Bean.”
  • Oak Street Beach
    • We didn’t make it this time due to a time constraint, but Oak Street Beach has always been on my bucket list as it consists of two of my favorites – beach and skyscrapers. If you’re traveling to Chicago in the summer, a beach visit is a must!

To eat/drink:

  • The Hampton Social
    • If you’re anything like us, you’ll probably fall in love with this place as soon as you see the the stylish, nautical interior. Serving up seafood and beach-themed cocktails, The Hampton Social hosts live music events, and offers a breezy hangout space just as the Hampton getaway.
  • Bridge House Tavern
    • Brunch by the river walk. This is the place to go if you like to accompany your meals with a nice view.
  • Lao Sze Chuan (on Michigan Ave)
    • Lao Sze Chuan is known for its modern interpretation of classic dishes. The atmosphere of this place is more upscale than your usual good Chinese restaurants. Not many people can handle the Szechuan hot spicy, but this restaurant is definitely worth a stop.
  • I|O Godfrey Rooftop Bar
    • For an undeniably beautiful view of Chicago, head to the Rooftop Bar, perched on the top floor of the hotel Godfrey. Just keep in mind it can get very crowded on weekends.
  • The Allies at Soho House
    • Very rarely will you find a place that can serve up morning pastries and latte as well as it does evening cocktails, but Allies is one of the few. My recommendation is head over for a cocktail or two after a long day of exploring. A beautiful interior, and a prime location inside the exclusive Soho House are just the icing on the cake.

Chicago is the place where I get to be my most authentic self as I am taking the most steps I’ve taken for myself in a long while.

Plan a trip and hop on a plane, with or without a companion. Go stare at the vast universe. Acknowledge your trivial existence as well as your absolute importance.

I’m doing just that for myself, and I wouldn’t change a thing.

‘Tis all.

Thanks for reading.

 

Love always,

Yolie