The Catalogue: No. 8

Saturday, June 23, 2018

I'm into fitness and by that, I mean I love cute workout clothes and shoes! I actually find it pretty motivating to follow fitness influencers on social media and use their "at home" Youtube workouts when I need to do a workout after a long weekend of eating out.

Here are my favorite Asian fitness influencers:

Emi Wong

Emi is from Hong Kong and one of my favorites! Her "at home" workouts are fun and if you get bored easily from doing the same exercises, she really varies her workouts. Her and her boyfriend Chad are pretty amusing on Instagram and she loves to post her healthy lunches and dinners, but also posts her "weekend cheat meals" which helps me find her a bit more relatable. My favorite videos of her are her 15 minute ab workout video and her no equipment "at home" workouts since these are easy to do wherever you are. Every time I'm home in California, I put her videos onto the Apple TV and make my sister, Winnie, work out with me. Do we complete every part of her workouts? No. But do we have fun? Yes. If you want to see all her workout videos, click here! Also check out her Instagram to see her cute dog and her daily meals.

Cassie Ho 

Cassie Ho actually went to my high school (James Logan High School)! While she had long graduated by the time I got there, I still feel like that gives us a certain bond. If you really need the extra push when doing workouts, Cassie Ho is extremely bubbly and will kick your ass with a smile on her face. She has over 550 workouts on her Youtube channel ranging from helping us with our obliques to one hour long POP pilates videos. One of her most popular videos is something she posted over 7 years ago and teaches beginners how to do pilates! Her videos often include links to PDF Workout Calendars which are super easy to print and use. Her website is super easy to navigate and includes all her printables and workouts.

Joanna Soh

Joanna is probably the most popular Fitness and Wellness Youtuber in Asia! I love how she has great blogs on her website ranging from Beginner's Guide to Gym Machines to 8 Week Clean Eating PDFs. Everything you could possibly want if you're just starting out or if you've already been hitting the gym for a while now is either on her Youtube, her website, or her Instagram! One of my favorite videos of hers is the Beginner Low Impact Workout for People 50+, she does the video with her mom and it's something I can't wait to do with my mom (in 29 years when she turns 50 since obviously she's 21 right now). Her life mission is “To love and value herself – and to help others do the same” and what's better than a fitness influencer that wants to help you be healthier from the inside out.


Amsterdam in 3 Days

Sunday, June 17, 2018

After I graduated, I spent some time traveling with friends and family. One of my first stops was Amsterdam and that was actually the first time I’ve ever been to Europe. Amsterdam was such a beautiful place that I can’t wait to return, but I also can’t wait to eventually see the rest of Europe.

I bought the I Amsterdam City Card. It’s definitely worth it because you can get unlimited use of the GVB public transport system for the duration of your card, but I would definitely suggest planning out your days so that you have enough hours to take advantage of the card. The card includes all GVB buses, trams and metros in the city, but doesn’t include the bus that gets you from the airport into the city. You can use this map to see what the card gives you.

Pro-tip #1: Make sure to check what time museums and other sights close to schedule your trip most efficiently.

Pro-tip #2: Book your Anne Frank House tickets right now!

Here’s a sample itinerary that my friends and I made: 

Day 1:
11:00 AM

Check into hotel. We stayed at XO Inner, which was conveniently located near a bunch of museums. You can check or Airbnb for other listings, just make sure it’s near a bus stop or walking distance from the things you want to do.

12:00 PM

Attend a “Free” Walking Tour. TripAdvisor has a list of the Top 10 Walking Tours in Amsterdam. I did the FreeDAM Tour and it was really great! The tours last about 2-3 hours and are a great introduction to the city. While it is free, be sure to tip your guide at the end of the tour.

4:00 PM

Buy some groceries like water and other snacks. It’s nice to have water or juice with you when you’re travelling. I love trying different snacks whenever I go somewhere new.

5:30 PM

Grab dinner at De Foodhallen. This is a great place if you’re in a group of people who might all be at different hunger levels or want to eat different things. While it is open until 11:30 PM, if you come too late a lot of the stalls run out of food or may be closed already.

7:30 PM

Explore the city. The first night is perfect for walking around and checking out the Red Light District and other sights. I loved taking the bus/tram around and just looking at all the different neighborhoods in Amsterdam.

Day 2:
10:00 AM

Eat at the Pancake Bakery. Sadly, they only take reservations for 6 or more people but if you come early enough or on a weekday, you can definitely get seated right away. There is a 25% discount on an international pancake (excl. drinks) with the I Amsterdam Card. (Do note that you need to show your Card before ordering.)

11:30 PM

Check out Jordaan area. This area is close to the Pancake Bakery and close to the next couple items on the itinerary. This is a great place to grab a cappuccino or a latte before you continue with your day. This area was formerly a working-class neighbourhood that has now been transformed with adorable boutiques and cafés.

12:15 PM

Check out the Cheese “Museum”. The Cheese Museum is free, but it’s not really a museum. It’s more like a large two story shop with a mini museum in the lower level. There’s amazing cheese samples here, so if you love cheese be sure to stop by!

12:45 PM

Visit the Tulip Museum. This museum is super close to the Cheese Museum. It’s free with the I Amsterdam City Card (and €5 without the card). I would say it’s worth going to if you have the Card or love tulips, but otherwise it’s pretty small and you can just visit the gift shop.

1:30 PM

After spending time at the Tulip Museum, travel a bit further to get to the Jewish Cultural Quarter. The €15 ticket includes: Jewish Historical Museum, Portuguese Synagogue, and National Holocaust Memorial and Museum. With the City Card, it is free!

3:00 PM

Visit the Hortus Botanicus, which is a Botanical Garden very close to the Jewish Cultural Center. There’s are multiple indoor greenhouses, including one with butterflies, and an outdoor garden. It is free with the pass, otherwise €8.50. There are some great photo ops here, although not very big. I would pass if I had to pay for it, but with the City Card it's definitely worth making a quick stop.

3:30 PM

Next up is the Amsterdam Diamond Museum. This is free with the pass, but €10 without it. It is on the smaller side, but still enough for a quick peek.

4:00 PM

Visit the Foam Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam. I actually ran out of time to visit this Museum as it is ~20 minutes from the Anne Frank House and I had tickets to go there and I absolutely couldn’t miss that.

5:00 PM

Reserve tickets and head to the Anne Frank House. The Anne Frank House is a biographical museum dedicated to Anne Frank. This museum gave me chills the entire time I was there, because you’re actually walking through the house where Anne Frank hid for more than two years. While many areas in the house have obviously been refurbished, many original parts and items remain. You’re able to see photographs, important historical documents, and handwritten notes and letters, including the diaries Anne wrote. This visit probably lasts anywhere from 60 - 90 minutes.

7:00 PM

Go to Kartika to eat some authentic Indonesian food. It’s strange because I’m from the Bay Area which is a melting pot of diverse food and people, but it’s rare even there to get Indonesian food. Surprisingly, there are actually many spots to get Indonesian food in Amsterdam. Kartika is small, so call ahead to make reservations. They have some really great tasting dishes and a lot of vegetarian options.

9:00 PM

Go out and have fun!

BONUS: For Amsterdam fast food after a night out, visit FEBO.

Day 3:
10:00 AM

Check out Albert Cuyp Market, which is a street market in Amsterdam. Try poffertjes (Dutch mini pancakes), bitterballen (Dutch fried meat-based snack), and stroopwafels (two Dutch crunchy waffles with caramel syrup inside, they taste like delicious cookies!).

11:30 PM

Check out the Van Gogh museum. This museum is dedicated to Vincent van Gogh and is a very spacey and modern museum. It’s free with the I Amsterdam City Card (and €17 without the card). You can spend anywhere from 60 to 90 minutes here.

1:30 PM

Eat lunch somewhere! Try broodje haring (raw herring sandwich) or get kibbeling (deep fried fish) from street vendors/food trucks. If you love sweets, try oliebollen (deep fried sweet dumplings).

12:45 PM

Visit the Stedelijk Museum! This was probably my favorite museum!! It’s a museum for modern art, contemporary art, and design and has super cool photo ops. The exhibits are all incredibly fun and well-done. This museum is free with the Amsterdam City pass (otherwise €15.00). I would say it’s very similar to SF MOMA/NYC MOMA/Chicago's Art Institue.

2:00 PM

Next check out the Moco Museum, which is a smaller art museum featuring fun works by Dalí and Banksy. I ran out of time to see this, but have heard it’s really fun! €11.25 Fast Lane with QR code or the Amsterdam City Card gives you 10% off, otherwise it’s €12.50 for adults.

3:00 PM

Take pictures at the I AM Amsterdam Sign.

3:30 PM

Go on the Canal Tour! It’s free with the Amsteree with pass (otherwise €17). If you visit during certain times of the year you can see the Festival of Light which is just a few Euros more. The tour is around 75 minutes long and the last departure is at 6 PM.

5:00 PM

Eat dinner somewhere. Use Yelp or Tripadvisor to find a yummy place to eat.

7:00 PM

Go shopping! I didn’t leave enough space in my suitcase, so wasn’t really able to buy anything from all the cute boutiques and other stores in Amsterdam. The two main shopping streets in Amsterdam's city centre are the Kalverstraat and the Leidsestraat.
I really enjoyed Amsterdam! It’s amazing to be in a city with such rich culture and architecture. Be sure to really take in your surroundings. My first day I actually just rode the bus/tram for a while to check out Amsterdam. If you have any questions, feel free to comment on this post or email us!

Life was meant for good friends and great adventures,


5 Things to Do After Graduation

I often regret not taking a longer break between graduation and starting work full time.
I entered a summer college program before high school graduation, and then held internships every summer thereafter. And once I submitted my last undergraduate final, I packed up and dashed off for a two-week break in London before my first day of work -- again, opting out of the graduation ceremony. I actually don't think this was the best idea. I'll never again have guilt-free vacation time until I retire, and this is a rare stage in our lives where every member of my family has the financial independence, health, and energy to travel together. On a more personal note, my loved ones are scattered around the world (my family and sister in Taiwan, my parents/other family in different states, my boyfriend in the UK, etc.) and it feels increasingly impossible for us to ever congregate in the near future.
Though I am proud of myself for always putting my career/professional development first, I wish I'd spent more time with the people I care about.

Post-graduation isolation, depression, and anxiety are incredibly common, regardless of whether you've secured markers of success like independent housing, a well-paying job, etc. Your tribe disperses and it becomes so much harder to form organic, meaningful friendships. There is no institution invested, financial or otherwise, in your mental and physical health. Stay vigilant. Develop a strategy to safeguard your personhood and happiness. Overgrown adolescence, the sloppy aesthetic, the "I don't have my life together" attitude, it's all so fucking uninspired and stale.  If you don't know how to "adult," you better figure it out. We'll do it together.

1. Evaluate your financial situation, objectives, and priorities.
If you have student loans or credit card debt, assess the damage and figure out how you can pay it off as quickly as possible. I don't think it's my place to give anybody financial advice per se, but I really do encourage you to have an honest conversation with yourself about what you can and can't afford at this point in your life. Choose what's important to you, and let that guide your decisions. For example, I need to have a financial safety net. There is a lot I would sacrifice for that -- I don't eat out, I choose the cheapest commute possible, I have cheap/free hobbies, etc. But this frugality allows me to spend generously on what does matter to me. I travel often to Taipei and London. I pay for therapy out-of-pocket (more on this later). If dining at trendy, expensive restaurants is part of a meaningful life for you, by all means explore that as much as you can. But always be asking yourself: what is this costing me, what is this adding to my life, is it worth it? And if you haven't developed a budget or an expense tracking system yet, check out my favorite personal finance apps: Mint, Prism, and YNAB. For more wiggle room, find programs that will pay you for opening a savings/checking account. For example, I moved a chunk of my savings (minimum $10,000) to Chase, let it sit for 90 days (because I don't touch my savings, ever), and then withdrew it plus the free $350 back to my higher-interest bank of choice. Easy.

Three things that work for me: 
(1) I use my credit card like a debit card. I don't spend money I don't currently have (even if I know it's coming), and I track its balance down to the penny.
(2) I don't develop expensive habits that will be really hard to scale back in the future. For instance, as a general rule, I don't buy drinks -- that includes green juices, coffee, bottled water, alcohol, etc.  (I make an exception for Pret's Yoga Bunny, but only because I can only get it in London and that's not a habitual thing at the moment. Also, it's fucking delicious.)
(3) I create and stick to a budget. If my weekly meals budget is $30 and a Mixt salad is $14, guess what I can't have for lunch? If I've already spent my allowance for shoes/apparel for the month and a super cute pair goes on sale, I generally take the L. Set up realistic parameters, and then commit to them.

But at the same time, just hoarding a bunch of cash is pretty useless. Spend thoughtfully on what matters to you, be generous when appropriate (like taking your elders to a nice dinner every now and then), and treat yourself -- but not so often that it stops feeling special. I used to reward myself with an Einstein's bagel every Monday as an "amazing work bitch, you got out of bed" sort of thing, but then I realized that I was reinforcing super low standards.

2. Protect your mental health.
I'm especially vigilant about staying mentally healthy because I feel like the "adult" world is much less forgiving when you need a break. We don't yet have a corporate culture where it's acceptable to say things like, hey guys, I'm taking a mental health day, I won't be reachable, please cut me some slack. My metaphor for this is like owning a car. With routine maintenance and consistent care, you can reliably expect your car to serve you well. But if you let a bunch of little issues pile up, the problems and associated costs can really blow out of proportion and fuck you up. I do little things, like explicitly schedule in "introvert's alone time" during my workday where I can take a break from human interaction. And make bigger investments, like therapy sessions even when there's nothing immediately pressing. I also practice tactical journaling, which is a term I coined to sound more sophisticated than "gratitude journaling" or "happy journaling." Essentially, I gathered all the key takeaways from positive psychology research and developed a daily journaling routine that helps me "maintain a positive growth mindset and a spirit of gratitude." I know it sounds a little silly, but I've found a lot of comfort and courage in proactively clearing my mind of shitty self-doubt.

A brief overview of a day's notes:

  • 3 things that I am grateful for
  • 3 affirmations (what I acknowledge within and about myself)
  • 3 amazing things that happened today
  • 3 things I would have improved about today
  • Something I am looking forward to

3. Set personal and professional goals.
I set weekly, monthly, yearly, and 5-year personal and professional goals. I've done this since my freshman year of college, and I honestly believe it makes a difference. At the very least, it helps you articulate why you are leading the life you are. If you're in college, what is it that you want to accomplish beyond your diploma? Inversely, it can help you define actionable steps you need to take. If your goal is a promotion and pay grade increase within six months, what are some things that will help you stand out at work? Everything you do should then lend itself towards these goals. If your objective is to afford a six-day vacation to Puerto Vallarta in November, you might need to cut back on your daily Starbucks run. If you want to be married within six years but are having trouble dating, what could you be doing differently? Should you be trying dating apps? Speed dating? Being able to articulate your professional goals will also help your manager empower you to achieve them. If you know you want to earn a certain certification, they can connect you to mentors or study buddies. They'll also be more aware of when you reach these milestones, and they'll be right by your side to celebrate with you. Find your purpose, then your plan. 

4. Stop comparing yourself to others.
Since childhood, my friend group has primarily been smart, ambitious people (including CL, the smartest and most ambitious of all) who were always posed to succeed in traditional ways (via prestigious higher education and careers). We had the highest grades in school, attended the best universities, and then secured the "best" jobs -- as engineers, accountants, consultants, doctors, etc. Well, most of us. I'm not radical by any means, but I do work in a creative-ish industry, which is somewhat rarer among us. For reference, I love my current job; I'm genuinely excited to go to work every morning, and the time flies by. My work challenges both my econometrics background and my hand at design, my zeal for spreadsheets and my undying love for the literary tradition. For the first time ever, I can put all of my energy into excelling at my job, rather than into summoning the enthusiasm to show up. This has never, ever happened before in my life; and would have never happened if I'd continued to compare myself to my peers. In the past, I'd apply for and take on corporate work because it's what my classmates and friends did. I felt like if I did anything different, I would be suggesting that I'd failed at what was "normal." I went for the analytical roles even though all I fucking wanted to do was work somewhere that would appreciate, even celebrate how creative I could be. Once I stopped all that bullshit, I thrived in unimaginable ways. If your friends are brilliant and brave, as mine are, there will be so many points in your life that you feel inadequate. They will get engaged first, make more money, buy houses sooner, go on enviable vacations. If you cannot learn to celebrate their achievements, you will forever think yourself in their shadow, rather than sharing in their light.

5. Keep learning.
"We get it bitch you like to read!" Okay yes, but I also always liked school and its process of assembling, processing, and challenging information ("knowledge is inseparable from the power dynamic producing it"). I double-majored and double-minored without ever getting my diploma (I did graduate, just don't have the paperwork to show for it because I skipped graduation and frankly don't care) because I loved my education for the sake of it. There's also so much I want to learn, like hand-lettering and typography design and philosophy and my heart is often on the verge of exploding because I get so excited about random shit. I'm not unique in this. You know how sometimes college lectures would be open to the public and random people from the community would show up because they just wanted to learn about something new? Be that person! Listen in on the webinars and podcasts, take Skillshare and Coursera courses. Challenge your brain's dexterity. Pick up an instrument -- like my mom, who started learning the violin last year. Or a new language. Read a politician's memoir, and then that of their most vehement critic. Read a newspaper or five. Pick a section you don't normally peruse. There's so much you can do to fill your happy little brain and keep it curious, passionate, thrilled about the infinity of the universe and the human experience. Do it all. Have it all.

Go forth, and do all things with great love.

The Catalogue: No. 7

Friday, June 15, 2018

1. I've Written About Cultural Appropriation for 10 Years. Here's What I Got Wrong. | Connie Wang for Refinery29
What began as a discussion of a phenomenon — the use of another culture’s symbols without permission, which is neither a good thing nor a bad thing, just a thing that happens — has revealed a fundamental misunderstanding of why racism persists. The most vitriolic on the left suggest that any cultural swapping is tantamount to acts of visual racism; that using symbols without permission is always bad, and those that do it should be condemned without mercy. The most sanctimonious on the right believe that cultural appropriation is a meaningless phrase that willfully ignores intent; that people should have the right to celebrate what they find beautiful without criticism or abuse. In its proliferation, the term cultural appropriation has become charged. Conversations about it are radioactive.

2. The Problem With Rupi Kaur's Poetry | Chiara Giovanni for Buzzfeed
 While more female South Asian voices are indeed needed in mainstream culture and media, there is something deeply uncomfortable about the self-appointed spokesperson of South Asian womanhood being a privileged young woman from the West who unproblematically claims the experience of the colonized subject as her own, and profits from her invocation of generational trauma. There is no shame in acknowledging the many differences between Kaur’s experience of the world in 2017 and that of a woman living directly under colonial rule in the early 20th century. For example: neither is any more "authentically" South Asian. But it is disingenuous to collect a variety of traumatic narratives and present them to the West as a kind of feminist ethnography under the mantle of confession, while only vaguely acknowledging those whose stories inspired the poetry.
 3.  Let's Be Real: Asian and Black Artists Aren't "Celebrating" Each Other Through Hip Hop | Andrew Chow for Refinery29
But when the channel flows in the other direction, with Asians and Asian-Americans engaging with hip-hop, the results can be equally dismissive. There’s a history of racism toward Black people in Asian culture that stems from racist colonialist depictions of Africans, and those misconceptions continue to rear their ugly heads, whether in the form of blackface, monkey costumes, or disdain for "Black Panther." And when Asians embrace hip-hop, it often feels like the flip side of the same coin: a blatant commercialized fetishization of “Black characteristics” like barbaric bravado and sexual power in order to cancel out stereotypes of Asian impotence and servility. While Rich Chigga's "Dat Stick" was undeniably technically impressive and funny, it also reduced the genre to a menacing aesthetic from the safety of across the globe. The Korean rapper Keith Ape was less subtle in his appropriation: his "It G Ma" is a blatant rip of "Bitch You Guessed It" by O.G. Maco; its video is full of grills, cups of lean and designer jackets. And the Punjabi rapper Nav and the Cambodian rapper $tupid Young both freely use the n-word, channeling the toughness it implies without carrying its burden.
4. I'm Not Here to Play the Suffering Minority for White Readers | Chen Chen for Electric Literature
I've been socialized to seek alternative explanations for white people's erasure of me. I’ve been taught to see isolated mistakes, not a pattern of harm that began long before graduate school, a history of harm long before I came into the world. At the same time, white readers expect me to write about this harm. White writers say to me that they wish they had this kind of suffering to write about, since it’s what’s “hot” in publishing right now.
5.  Anthony Bourdain and the Power of Telling the Truth | Helen Rosner for The New Yorker
In what is likely the most famous episode of “Parts Unknown,” Bourdain sat on low plastic stools at an unadorned noodle shop in Hanoi, Vietnam, eating bún chả with Barack Obama—at the time a sitting President. The meeting was momentous for both men—both had grown up in the shadow of the Vietnam War, and that conflict, its long shadow, and its human costs suffused the hour-long episode. Bourdain ended the episode on a brutal note, with an infamous quote from William Westmoreland, the commander of U.S. forces in Vietnam, a reminder of America’s racist dehumanization of the culture we at home had just spent an hour celebrating.
6. Why Cultural Critics of Color Matter | Elizabeth Mendez Berry for Hyperallergic 
When an important work is met with thoughtful, engaged criticism, it gains depth and traction. And when each potent piece of writing reverberates as never before — shared, liked, and debated on social media — the critic has new opportunities to shape our increasingly toxic cultural discourse. For communities that have been historically shut out of that process, that power is pivotal. It’s the difference between being spoken about and being the authority on your own experience.
7. Truth, Lies, and Literature |  Salman Rushdie for The New Yorker
In Germany, after the Second World War, the authors of what was called Trümmerliteratur, or “rubble literature,” felt the need to rebuild their language, poisoned by Nazism, as well as their country, which lay in ruins. They understood that reality, truth, needed to be reconstructed from the ground up, with new language, just as the bombed cities needed to be rebuilt. I think we can learn from their example. We stand once again, though for different reasons, in the midst of the rubble of the truth. And it is for us—writers, thinkers, journalists, philosophers—to undertake the task of rebuilding our readers’ belief in reality, their faith in the truth. And to do it with new language, from the ground up.
With great love,

The Career Girl's Toolkit: Planning & Organization

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Above all else: develop a tactical planning system that works for you.
I fucking love planning. I started with a ring-bound planner in high school to organize my college application materials, and then upgraded to a Filofax during college, when I literally designed, printed, and used my own inserts because nothing on the market suited my scheduling needs. I've lusted after Erin Condren planners (but the fonts are garbage, and I don't understand why their design team hasn't opted for more modern typography), Happy Planners (the teacher edition makes me want to be a teacher!), and the metallic Leuchtturm1917 bullet journals. Point is, I am super passionate and thoughtful about how tools like digital and paper planners can help us become productive, happy people. (As an aside, productivity doesn't look like cramming every second of my schedule with work! When I'm most efficient with my time, I'm able to take an entire hour for lunch, which I use to hide from people because I'm introverted, read my book, and Facetime my boyfriend -- all of which restores me enough to really power through the afternoon.) But whether you're a soccer mum who uses her planner as a scrapbook + carpool reminder or a scribbler with shitty handwriting, the most effective system is the one you've adapted to fit your priorities, your lifestyle, and your habits. But in case you're feeling lost, here are some tips from little old me and my psycho planning routine.

Digital Planners: OneNote "Bullet Journaling" 
I use OneNote to sort out pretty much my entire life because (1) the icons and flags are super useful, (2) it syncs with Outlook, and (3) I used a Surface Pro throughout college and hand wrote my notes. So it seemed pretty intuitive to bullet journal with OneNote for work, especially because my plans change so often that it doesn't make sense to commit to anything with pen and paper.
So here's a sample of my weekly layout, with my clients, sponsors, etc. redacted. I work for a creative agency, so I'm balancing multiple accounts/clients on a daily basis and need to make sure every billable minute is well-accounted for (hence the time allotted for each task).

Some tips on formatting and functionality:
1. To-Do List
Keep a running to-do list on the right with tasks that don't have static deadlines. This includes  personal action items and small projects that could use, but don't require, your attention. I like to reference this if my meetings/calls end early and I find myself with a spare pocket of time. Some of my fleeting ideas find their way there, too (like creative pitches, ways to improve office processes, etc.)

2. Color Coding
If you're client-facing, color code your action items and deliverables by account. This helps you visually assess how your time and resources are being allocated. You can also sort by category if you're corporate or by subject if you're a student. I sometimes highlight action items if I'm having a particularly hectic day and need to circle back later in the day. Any questions I have about a specific deliverable can also be noted underneath, flagged with a question mark.

3. OneNote Flags 
Utilize OneNote's flags! I use the checkbox for action items and deliverables, the meeting checkbox for client calls and internals, the phone icon for dial-in information (which is super useful to have on your schedule so you're not frantically searching through your emails), and the "favorite" (star) or "priority" (exclamation point) icons to highlight things that immediately need my attention. The flags are also really helpful when you're writing meeting minutes to highlight action items and key questions.

4. Cheat Sheet
Add a small "cheat sheet" box with important contact information. I have my account managers' and clients' contact information for each account. Just keep it streamlined to only the essentials to avoid information clutter. More detailed client notes can be housed in its respective "notebook."

Bonus: I create a OneNote notebook for each client with a one-sheeter as the first page detailing the client's background, the industry, social media/digital statistics, key contracted activities, etc. Something similar to a college syllabus, but for work.

5. Archive Your Planner
Rather than delete the previous week's tasks, I start a new page or new weekly spread every Friday afternoon (another tip: don't wait until Monday morning to get this together! You'll have a billion emails to check and feel too overwhelmed to plan things out strategically). This helps me migrate incomplete items to the next week, and reference how long recurring tasks generally take me. Make each new page of your planner a subpage of the most recent one, and collapse to avoid clutter in your notebook tab (I take this so seriously!). As for when the bulk of your planning should be done, I like to get recurring meetings set the previous Friday afternoon, and then schedule most of my daily tasks within the first hour of arriving in the office.

Bonus: When I open my email in the morning, I sort and flag each one before responding. Anything that needs to be followed up within the hour gets flagged accordingly. Each email is sorted into its respective folder (client, with appropriate subsections; internal; administrative; media, etc.) When everything is filed away, then I start responding and adding tasks to my planner. This prevents me from getting distracted by the first email I open because there may be something more urgent down the line. By seeing all of the asks and deliverables, I'm able to prioritize and better allocate billable time/resources.

Paper Planners
I don't have a paper planner at the moment, but I absolutely have planner lust. So here are a few on my radar. Many are pricey, but I'm a complete advocate for investing in something you enjoy looking at, because it incentivizes you (I hope) to actually use and work with it. Also including accessories because duh.
Rifle Paper Co. 2019 Bouquet 17-Month Planner
$34.00 "I Am Very Busy" Classic 13-Month Planner
$20.00 Planner Essentials Bundle
$32.00 (originally $38.00)

Day Designer 2018-19 Jungle Out There Academic Daily Planner

kikki.k Leather Personal Planner

kikki.k Daily Notes Planner Insert: Your Story

With great love,

The Career Girl's Toolkit: Underrated Work Essentials

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

You know about the perfect work bag and the classic wardrobe, (and if you're still looking -- CL's got you covered. Stay tuned.) but here are some completely underrated things to invest in before you start your new job.

F O R  Y O U R  C O M M U T E

Kindle Paperwhite
One of my best investments to date. I used to be a physical book traditionalist, but then I realized the statement I was really making wasn't "I am a book purist," but "I like to pay for and lug around heavy books because I am stubborn and resistant to positive change." I also had the 2011 model for about seven years before I prematurely retired it for this bad boy, so you can expect a lot of mileage. Pair with the Libby app to seamlessly download and start reading Kindle books from the library.


F O R  Y O U R  C O M M U T E

Comfortable Emergency Flats
Whether high heels are part of an implied dress code or your personal ethical code, please, please have a backup strategy. Nothing screams "unprepared and underqualified" like a woman who lets impractical shoes fuck with her corporate power walk. By all means, if you can, wear the heels. But tuck a pair of flats into your purse or drawer as a Plan B. These Yosi Samra foldable loafers are a nice alternative to the classic ballet flat.


F O R  Y O U R  W O R K D A Y

Blue Blocker Glasses
Available as computer or prescription glasses, Blue Blocker glasses have clear lenses to filter out HEV blue light and protect against excess UV exposure. I wear this pair by Zenni, which can be customized and start at just $6.95. I've been told I look a bit like an insect with these frames, but that's a personal problem and I think I'd make a cute bug anyways. These are so important if you're spending hours on end staring at a computer screen (especially if you're working with spreadsheets!).


F O R  Y O U R  W O R K D A Y

Glass Meal Prep Containers
If you meal prep your lunches, (1) good on you! (2) it's time to upgrade from the bodybuilding bro plastic meal prep containers to these glass bento boxes. Even plastic containers that claim to be microwave-friendly can still leak harmful materials into your food. These containers have lid-locking technology and despite being heavier, are an environmentally friendlier and safer alternative.


For more The Career Girl's Toolkit: 
Planning & Organization
What to Wear to Work

What LC Read: Vol. 4

Two nonfiction works this week, so we're chugging along nicely on my nonfiction challenge. I also realize introductions aren't necessary when we've known each other for four whole weeks, so let's dive right in. Five books in total. If you only have time for one, make it Genghis Khan or Plum Rains

Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World | Jack Weatherford
I've had an unexplained and unexplored fascination with Genghis Khan ever since I saw an exhibition recreating the Mongols' tents at the San Jose Tech Museum about a billion years ago. (In addition, my favorite pun of all time is this "Genghis Khan, not Genghis Khan't" strip.) But more importantly, Genghis Khan was interesting as fuck -- and not in the way we've been conditioned to expect. AP World textbooks described him as this ruthless barbarian -- how he conquered and established the largest land empire in history, then, is glossed over because he wasn't fancy like our golden-haired baby boy Alexander the Great.
Anybody who pretends to have read Sun Tzu's The Art of War will be blown away by Genghis' prowess and pragmatism. And finally, I know this means little to most, but Anthony would have really liked this book, and that is important to me.

Book synopsis: The name Genghis Khan often conjures the image of a relentless, bloodthirsty barbarian on horseback leading a ruthless band of nomadic warriors in the looting of the civilized world. But the surprising truth is that Genghis Khan was a visionary leader whose conquests joined backward Europe with the flourishing cultures of Asia to trigger a global awakening, an unprecedented explosion of technologies, trade, and ideas. In Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World, Jack Weatherford, the only Western scholar ever to be allowed into the Mongols’ “Great Taboo”—Genghis Khan’s homeland and forbidden burial site—tracks the astonishing story of Genghis Khan and his descendants, and their conquest and transformation of the world. 
But contrary to popular wisdom, Weatherford reveals that the Mongols were not just masters of conquest, but possessed a genius for progressive and benevolent rule. On every level and from any perspective, the scale and scope of Genghis Khan’s accomplishments challenge the limits of imagination. 

When Likes Aren't Enough | Tim Bono
Bonny-boy is a professor at my alma mater, which still doesn't really give me the right to call this esteemed psychologist Bonny-boy. But I've been thinking a lot about the exact science of happiness, especially given the many warnings that our postgraduate lives risk slipping into loneliness and anxiety. This is an easy, quick-ish read that helps you re-frame happiness (or, "happy-er-ness") as something to be pursued tactically and intentionally. Really timely and important.

Book synopsis: When a group of researchers asked young adults around the globe what their number one priority was in life, the top answer was "happiness." Not success, fame, money, looks, or love...but happiness. For a rising generation of young adults raised as digital natives in a fast-paced, ultra-connected world, authentic happiness still seems just out of reach. While social media often shows well-lit selfies and flawless digital personas, today's 16- to 25-year-olds are struggling to find real meaning, connection, and satisfaction right alongside their overburdened parents. 
When Likes Aren't Enough tackles the ever-popular subject of happiness and well-being, but reframes it for a younger reader struggling with Instagram envy and high-stakes testing, college rejections and helicopter parents. Professor of positive psychology Dr. Tim Bono distills his most popular college course on the science of happiness into creative, often counterintuitive, strategies for young adults to lead happier, more fulfilling lives. 
Filled with exciting research, practical exercises, honest advice, and quotes and stories from young adults themselves, WHEN LIKES AREN'T ENOUGH is a master class for a generation looking for science-based, real world ways to feel just a little bit happier every day.

When Life Gives You Lululemons | Lauren Weisberger
Weisberger's Devil Wears Prada and Chasing Harry Winston are my guilty pleasures on par with Vine compilations and Japanese cheesecake, second only to Sophie Kinsella's iconic Shopaholic series. They're decadent and frothy with such self-awareness that I'm tempted to classify them sin-free as anthropology textbooks. So when When Life Gives You Lululemons came across my radar, I was 100% ready. Her The Singles Game hadn't felt as monumental as her previous works (though perhaps they've inherited over time the pop culture ethos of Meryl Streep as Miranda Priestly), and When Life Gives You Lululemons felt equally underwhelming. I still enjoyed it, though. The way one enjoys Vine compilation, in a very short-term, "oh that was nice" sort of way.

Book synopsis: Welcome to Greenwich, Connecticut, where the lawns and the women are perfectly manicured, the Tito’s and sodas are extra strong, and everyone has something to say about the infamous new neighbor.
Let’s be clear: Emily Charlton does not do the suburbs. After leaving Miranda Priestly, she’s been working in Hollywood as an image consultant to the stars, but recently, Emily’s lost a few clients. She’s hopeless with social media. The new guard is nipping at her heels. She needs a big opportunity, and she needs it now.
When Karolina Hartwell, a gorgeous former supermodel, is arrested for a DUI, her fall from grace is merciless. Her senator-husband leaves her, her Beltway friends disappear, and the tabloids pounce.
In Karolina, Emily finds her comeback opportunity. But she quickly learns Greenwich is a world apart and that this comeback needs a team approach.
So it is that Emily, the scorned Karolina, and their mutual friend Miriam, a powerful attorney turned stay-at-home suburban mom, band together to not only navigate the social land mines of suburban Greenwich but win back the hearts of the American public. Along the way, an indispensable ally emerges in one Miranda Priestly.
With her signature wit, Lauren Weisberger offers an alluring look into a sexy, over-the-top world—and proves it’s style and substance together that gets the job done.

Plum Rains | Andromeda Romano-Lax
I once thought to myself in a half-lucid state, "if only there were a tremendous work of fiction pulling together everything I've ever taken an interest in: post-imperial migrant labor, Japanese colonization of indigenous Taiwanese tribes, artificial intelligence, environmental injustice, and the future of geriatric care in East Asia" and Romano-Lax must have heard me because here we have Plum Rains, the book I absolutely knew I needed but couldn't believe existed. What a beautiful tribute to Asia's storied relationships, humanity, and the infinity of science. I rated it five out of five stars, and I so rarely do that.

Book synopsis: 2029: In Japan, a historically mono-cultural nation, childbirth rates are at an all-time low and the elderly are living increasingly longer lives. This population crisis has precipitated the mass immigration of foreign medical workers from all over Asia, as well as the development of finely tuned artificial intelligence to step in where humans fall short.
In Tokyo, Angelica Navarro, a Filipina nurse who has been in Japan for the last five years, works as caretaker for Sayoko Itou, a moody, secretive woman about to turn 100 years old. One day, Sayoko receives a present: a cutting-edge robot “friend” that will teach itself to anticipate Sayoko’s every need. Angelica wonders if she is about to be forced out of her much-needed job by an inanimate object—one with a preternatural ability to uncover the most deeply buried secrets of the humans around it. Meanwhile, Sayoko becomes attached to the machine. The old woman has been hiding secrets of her own for almost a century—and she’s too old to want to keep them anymore. 
 What she reveals is a hundred-year saga of forbidden love, hidden identities, and the horrific legacy of WWII and Japanese colonialism—a confession that will tear apart her own life and Angelica’s. Is the helper robot the worst thing that could have happened to the two women—or is it forcing the changes they both desperately needed?

The Astonishing Color of After | Emily X.R. Pan
I don't ever read YA because I find it draining, but this one was wonderful. Will be interviewing Pan for soon, so saying little about it for now. Stay tuned.

Book synopsis: Leigh Chen Sanders is absolutely certain about one thing: When her mother died by suicide, she turned into a bird.

Leigh, who is half Asian and half white, travels to Taiwan to meet her maternal grandparents for the first time. There, she is determined to find her mother, the bird. In her search, she winds up chasing after ghosts, uncovering family secrets, and forging a new relationship with her grandparents. And as she grieves, she must try to reconcile the fact that on the same day she kissed her best friend and longtime secret crush, Axel, her mother was taking her own life.
Alternating between real and magic, past and present, friendship and romance, hope and despair, The Astonishing Color of After is a novel about finding oneself through family history, art, grief, and love.

How My Friends Helped Me Grieve

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

My high school sweetheart died unexpectedly a few weeks before our senior prom. He was seventeen.
Ten days later, my grandmother passed away after years of prolonged and unbearable suffering. If I thought I was drowning before, suddenly I was without water, without air, without will. Without elemental consciousness. That suspended numbness, nostalgic for any sort of feeling, is no cliche. The two fractures in rapidfire broke me. I feel a little broken, still.

And yet, only four years later, the grief has changed, become a character rather than fastened narrative. I can breathe again.

By the grace of loved ones who were there for me unconditionally, I survived, and continue to survive, every day that feels meaningless without them.

I write this in celebration of those friends -- chiefly among them CL, who was immediately by my side and reminded me that though I felt abandoned, I was never alone. And another, who showed up again and again, with no expectation that I would ever thank her enough. And others still, who offered me silly luxuries like compliments on my lipstick. Or, in meeting me for the first time, “I can tell why he loved you so much.”

I could try to tell you how to live through it. But anybody who suffers unimaginable loss knows that the only way forward is to find not a purpose, but a way to make do without one. You will lose the ones who give your life color, who give you hope, whose very gravities you orbit. And onward, you must still go.

But as you do, I hope you have friends like mine to light your way.

They never told me everything would be okay.
Because it wouldn’t ever be, not in the way I expected. And the last thing I wanted was for my expectations to be decimated yet again. When the loss is sudden and new, to promise a future that is “okay” is to prematurely introduce a condition that is, for now, unbearable. I’m not asking anyone to play along with delusions and denial, but never underestimate how freeing it is to hear, “no, everything is not okay. I am sorry things turned out this way.”

They were patient.
I wore my grief loudly and badly. If someone accused me of being performative (and they did), I could not deny that some part of me needed desperately for someone to acknowledge that I was in pain. I got a tattoo. I published letters to my dead boyfriend. Some people just need to have the depths of their grief validated, for people to see what cannot be articulated or better shared. To be in love with a ghost was no badge of honor, but I didn’t know better and I couldn’t do better. I had no other way of affirming that what I felt was okay, that it was a normal, albeit horrible rite of passage. My friends were patient. They were kind. They thanked me for sharing, for insisting they bear witness to my loss. And in this, without fear of criticism for how I was coping, I coped.

They stayed, even when I lashed out.
Before I finally sought grief therapy, I dealt irresponsibly with my grief. I’d all but dropped out of high school following my grandmother’s funeral, and then relocated directly to a different state for college as my classmates walked the stage at our high school graduation. During what is supposed to be the most difficult transition of young adulthood, I was doubly vulnerable. I hid my strange new relationship status for a while, but then held it as a gatekeeper for new friendships. Nobody was allowed close. My first and dearest friend pushed his way in, sat with me at the first and second anniversary of their deaths, and stayed throughout my endless tantrums. Though we are no longer close, those moments have earned my eternal loyalty to him. On behalf of everybody who has lost their way, I am sorry we are sometimes mean, often cruel, and seemingly thoughtless. When the ground reappears beneath our feet, we promise to be back. Until then, if it’s alright with you, please stay.

They didn’t offer to help. They just did.
Grief made me feel like a terrible burden. I wasn’t interesting in conversations, I lost focus in school, I neglected a lot of the responsibilities and relationships important to me. I felt so undeserving of understanding and attention beyond cordial sympathy. I believed I had no right to ask for favors, especially when I needed so much. I needed someone to hold my hand at his wake, to sit with me at his funeral, to explain to my teachers that try as I might, I could not summon the courage to come to class. My friends, unprompted, did all this and more. I cannot and did not thank them enough. Years later, I barely remember a single conversation, a badly phrased question. But I remember their presence, their determination to participate in my sadness. I am forever grateful.

To the loved ones in my life, old and new, you have saved me so many times and in so many ways. Though I wish you infallibly happy lives, I hope I can one day do the same for you.

With great love,

The Official CL Instagram

© The Official CL. Design by FCD.