Category Archives: Personal

2009 New Year’s Resolutions

Here are my goals for 2009:
1) Be a good aunt
2) Be a better long distance friend
3) Make a positive difference in the life of someone I don’t know
4) Understand the depth of my non-profit aspiration/dedication
5) Spoil Rocky
6) Take a risk
7) Finish an entreprenureal effort
8) Drink less coffee
9) Read 20 books
10) Do something silly
Wish me luck!

2008 New Year’s Goals

Well, it’s the end of another year… boy time flies!  Here’s how I did on my 2008 Goals:
1) Family & Friends – I think I did only ok here… it was kind of hit or miss.  The more busy my life in Seattle is, the tougher it’s been to stay in touch w/ family & friends back east.  I did reconnect w/ @ this year, which was kind of nice.  And M came to visit me in Seattle recently and we had a grand ol’ time.  I’m gonna still leave this on my list for next year though b/c I know I’m capable of finding a better balance here.
2) Non-profit work – CHECK!  I’m attending more functions, networking with more non-profit folks… all
3) Entrepreneurship – CHECK!  I’ve got 3 ideas brewing and in various stages of development.  I’m also building skills I think are important for success here, so I’m feeling good that I’m on the right track.  The economy tanking is giving me the chance to spend time working on my own skills, so hopefully when the economy has recovered I’ll be ready to make a go of it.  I’ve actually broadened this goal to possibly starting a non-profit organization.
4) Me – there’s lots of other little things I want to accomplish in 2008:
  • Broaden my reading – CHECK! I’ve read 15 books this year so far and in a variety of genres and from a variety of recommendations.  Next year, my goal will be to read 20 books.
  • Travel – CHECK! Maui was a first for me and next year will be a trip to Asia.
  • Better physical shape –  umm… step 1 signing up for a gym membership is complete.  This will need to be taken up in 2009.
  • Swim or Ski – Some progress against swimming was made… I can now float… supervised.  Ok, it’s on the list for 2009 too.

One night after volleyball…

… around 10pm a cop pulled me over.  I knew I wasn’t speeding b/c I saw the cop, so I wasn’t sure what he was pulling me over for.  The cop comes up… he’s a young looking guy… probably hasn’t been a cop that long.  He shines his flashlight in and says, "Good evening, sir."… I’m thinking, "sir??"  Sheesh… I don’t get all dolled up for volleyball but I wouldn’t consider myself butch looking!  He quickly corrects himself and almost timidly tells me my headlight is out. 
so, friday I avoid going out after work so I don’t have to drive at night w/ the headlight out.  the plan was to over the weekend buy replacement bulbs and install it myself.  I think subconsciously I wasn’t convinced i could actually change the headlight myself b/c i ended up staying in all weekend… did 3 loads of laundry, vaccuumed my whole house, cleaned both bathrooms and ran a load of dishes…
driving to work this morning, I knew things would come to a head tonight b/c I had a board mtg and couldn’t stick to driving during daylight hours.  So… i do a little investigation… open the car manual, open my hood (was kind of surprised I had to go through the hood to change the bulb and it was probably the first time i’ve opened the hood to my car… maybe ever).  It look simple enough but as I drove to work and approached the toyota dealership probably a mile from my house, I eyed the Toyota dealership service entrance longingly… how easy it would be to just pull in, pay whatever they’re gonna charge just so I can avoid doing it myself. I don’t know how much they would charge for something like this but whatever it was, it seemed worth it. stuck to my guns and passed the dealership.  then i see the fred meyer and I think, maybe i’ll drop in a buy the bulbs and then play the girl card at work and get one of my co-workers to change the bulb for me… then i realize i left the tools in the garage when i did my little investigation….damn.
after the board mtg & dinner, at 10:30pm, i hit fred meyer on the way home and buy the bulbs–2 of them b/c I figure i may as well replace both.  I get home, let the engine cool down and then rolled up my sleeves.  Bulb number one required only a flat head screw driver… took about 5 mins.  Confidence riding high.  Bulb number two.  This one had bolts…. step 1. identify the tool that would enable me to remove the bolts.  hmm… good thing I’ve got the car tools thinh bought me I don’t know how many years ago.  I actually did know i needed a socket wrench (though admittedly i had to google to just now to know that it’s called a socket wrench…it was the wrench doohickey in my mind)… Step 2. put tool together.  I got the right size… i’m holding the "socket" and the "wrench" and I’m trying to put the two together and it’s just not fitting.  I don’t know how many times I twisted and turned and angled the thing… i’ll bet an observer would get an equal kick out of watching a kid try to fit a square block into a round hole.  i think to myself… looks like there’s a piece missing and voila!  low and behold a piece labeled adapter!  now we’re rolling… Step 3. unscrew the bolts… lefty loosey, righty tighty… i tried turning left but nothing was budging… maybe it’s rusted shut?  maybe i just need more muscle.  then, i figured, "this light still works; i’ll just deal with it when it goes out."  but my stubborn nature takes over and i am determined not to let this thing defeat me.  so in a stroke of "genius" I notice a doohickey on the top of the wrench. I twist it to one end and try again… no budge.  Then I twist it the other way and well what do you know it worked!  It was smooth sailing after that…
So about half an hour later, i turned on my headlights and gazed proudly at the two headlights i successfully changed all on my own.  I even gave the headlights a wipe down w/ the antibacterial wipe i was using to clean my grimey hands.  ah… the beauty in the shimmer and shine of their gleam… they were quite a sight to behold. 
I can proudly say that I now know what a socket wrench is and how to use it.  And 5 years from now when my headlights go out again, and i dust off my all-in-one car tools kit, armed with my knowledge from tonight, I’m sure I’ll have the distinct pleasure of discovering again just how a socket wrench works.  =)

Progress check on 2008 goals

Well, it’s been 6 mos… how am I doing against my goals?
1) Family & Friends
I don’t call home any more often than I did before, but I’m committed to 2 visits back to Virginia plus a trip to Viet Nam w/ my parents, so I think that should count for something. =)
Friends… spending good, quality time with my various friend circles here in Seattle.  Not doing such a great job w/ friends back East.  =(
2) Non-profit work
VNSF has pretty much become my second job.  I probably put in 10-30 hours a week and I haven’t grown tired of it yet!  The website this year has been my chief accomplishment.  I’m jazzed that we have an informative site that’s relative easy for anyone to update.  We even have a volunteer who has been trained and empowered to own certain pieces of content on the site.  Love it!  A close second would be the success of the Volleyball Tournament / Summer Picnic, which hopefully will be out-shadowed by the Annual Benefit Dinner on September 5th — save the date! 
I’m learning a lot about fundraising, recruiting, and just tips on how to "work a room" and talk about VNSF.  Recruiting and just spreading awareness about the organization is TOUGH!  Beyond that, there’s morale of the organization that needs to be maintained.  I’m a naturally organized and analytical person and I tend to lead in that fashion.  However, one of the leadership styles I feel I need to learn to cultivate better is the emotional/social style of leadership.  I first need to understand what motivates/drives people and to use the leadership style best suited for that.  I fully expect it to take years and years for me to truly learn this skill and then years on top of that to apply it successfully.
3) Entrepreneurship
Given the economic climate, this has been put on hold.  A lot of my non-profit work is helping me build skills that I think will apply.  I also just need to focus my efforts and as I find my fulfillment and enjoyment rising in my volunteer work, I’m learning that maybe what I want to ultimately do is be a philanthropist.
4) Me
  • Reading – I’ve compiled a list of reading based on recommendations from friends and ppl I’ve met.  I think it’s a good spread
  • Travel – planning to go to Viet Nam this year and I’m planning a trip w/ Myha for next year
  • Better physical shape – back to playing volleyball 3-5 days a week
  • Swim or Ski – no progress yet, but I still have 6 mos to go

So far… I’m doing ok… not great, but ok.


The only way to spend summer in Seattle…

The last two weeks…
Sat… beach vball tournament (~6hours)
Tue… league volleyball (indoor)
Thu… beach vball on alki (3 hrs)
Fri … beach vball on alki (3 hrs)
Sat… beach vball on alki (3 hrs — the day of the burn)
Sun… lazy picnic & book club, then… beach vball on alki (2hrs)
Tue… league volleyball (indoor)
Wed… beach vball on alki (2.5 hrs — in lightning storm and rain)
Fri … beach vball on alki (2.5 hrs — occasional fireworks)
More vball tomorrow and sunday too!!  If the weather permits, you gotta take advantage!! 
So… if you’re ever looking for me around 5-10pm… best bet is I’m on alki… headed to alki… or heading home from alki.  =)

Go Roomba Go!

Feeling a bit under the weather, so I’ve decided to spend the day at home.  I decided to take my Roomba on a test drive, so I’ve unleashed it on my living room.  I’m trying to stay focused on the VNSF stuff I’m doing but it’s actually really entertaining to watch my Roomba make its way around my room.  It twirls and spins and goes in unpredictable directions until it bumps into some furniture and will roll right off in a different direction in an almost carefree manner. 
Probably more amusing is Rocky’s reaction… he hasn’t taken his eyes off the Roomba the whole time!  He’s settled himself as high as he can (which is on my dining table) and from his safe perch he’s kept a watchful eye on Mr. Roomba, occassionally moving around the table for a better vantage point.  Rocky would make a good soldier. =)
On a completely separate note — Clinton finally conceded her candidacy for president.  That must have been tough — the whole thing… what a tough loss.  I’m a little saddened by it all;  I was behind her up ’til the end.  She would be a great president and maybe this is a flaw in my own logic and thinking but I really believe we need someone who knows what they’re doing and has experience doing it.  For two candidates who share most of the same political positions, it just seems more obvious to me that you’d pick the person who has more political experience.  Obama does speak to some very idealistic changes he’d like to usher into Washington politics and the energy and new interest he’s stirred up is awesome.  I hope he assembles a really experienced and wise staff around him.

Words from the Dalai Lama

Here’s what I have on my wall at work:
When you wake up, make a promise:
"With an open heart and a joyful mind, I promise to practice compassion – to be kind to myself and to others and, especially, to be kind to every child whose life touches mine, from near or far, for today and always."
love encourage
be kind & consistent

Life is Good

I feel lucky that I’ve made good choices and fallen into good luck.  I have awesome friends.  The volunteer work I do brings me meaning and purpose that extends beyond me and my own needs.  That’s so important to me that I feel slightly guilty it took me so long before finally choosing to devote myself to giving back.  I love Seattle.  My new addiction to volleyball is really cool — it’s nice to have something I’m extremely passionate about.  I love that it’s something I can do competitively but know that just getting to play at all is really where the joy is for me.  I enjoy my job and the people I work with.   I love my family and while I do miss being near them I’m glad I’m able to visit them several times a year.
It makes me wonder where my life would be if I had made a couple of different choices in my life.  What would my life be like today if
… I took the job at John Hopkins Applied Physics Lab in Maryland? 
… I never went to Malay Satay Hut for lunch w/ D 5 years ago? 
… I never took a road trip w/ S to Yellowstone?
… I left Microsoft 3 years ago when I got offered that job as a Senior Interaction Designer?  
… I didn’t join S’s beach vball team 2 summers ago?
Who knows… it just goes to show that a small decision that seems so inconsequential at the moment could have such a life-altering impact.  Call it smart choices, call it destiny, call it luck… whatever it is; I’m happy.  Life is Good. 🙂

Memorial Day Weekend Day 2

In the morning, I got some chores around the house done, but I could see the sun peaking out so texted the gang to see if they were up for more vball!  Sadly they weren’t so instead we did the next best thing… played MJ!  I lost some and I won some and it wasn’t until my stomach was growling that we realized we’d been playing for over SIX hours and it was close to 10pm!!  As always, we turned to our comfort food — Chinese food!  Mmmmm.
Our last day off… I started the morning strong with lots of really productive VNSF work… some DB changes to the website but more importantly liability analysis based on the 152 new students we’re taking this year.  I’m really happy that even though we nearly doubled the number of students we had, our program expenses are still manageable and we won’t be overburdened with impossibe fundraising goals.  We’re going to start a policy to keep a reserve so if we don’t meet our fundraising goals in any given year we can still fulfill our committment to our kids.  It was looking overcast and cloudy outside, so I was more than happy to chill at home and get some more VNSF or house work done but then I get a call from D… it’s sunny on Alki!  Beach Vball it is!
The four of us meet out on Alki and we play the hardest 2.5 hours of beach volleyball yet.  That court is HUGE when you’re playing 2’s.  There was another group playing 2’s and they were hard-core.  They started before and ended after us… and they were jump-serving and spiking left and right.  I think at one point I stopped jumping for my hits and just took the ball standing (which was probably more effective since my timing on my jumps is off).  We did a rematch of girls vs boys and this time didn’t fair so well.  We played best of 3 and lost 2-1.  =(  Oh well… can’t win them all.   Next time, we’ll take down the D’s!!
Overall, an awesome weekend!  I’m glad the weather ended up being nice and we stayed in Seattle for it.  It wasn’t quite the relaxing, shopping and eating-filled weekend that it would have been if we went up the vancouver, but I think it turned out even better! 

Memorial Day Weekend – Part 1

Instead of heading out of town, we all decided to stay in Seatlle for some good local fun…
  • Buddha Ruksa one of my favorite favorite restaurants!  Mmm mmm… good!
  • Poker… still mad D made his flush after I fatten the pot with a bunch of people who should have folded… respect the bet!!  =)
  • Golden Compass… good movie… great book
Saturday – a good day for girls!
  • Picnic on Alki… more yummy!
  • Beach volleyball!  Oh yeah!  beautiful weather — perfect for volleyball.  would have played another hour or two if it weren’t for the fact that I had a VNSF mtg.  We played 4’s, 3’s and finally TWO’s!!  Amazing that our legs held up for 2’s.  What’s sweeter is we played girls vs. guys.  S & I were about 5 or 6 points down but came back against the D’s for a 15-13 victory, which made me UNDEFEATED for the day!!  WOOHOO!!
  • VNSF meeting to select the new students for 2008-9.  I got there an hour late (what can I say, it’s hard to pull yourself off the beach when it’s 70’s, sunny and volleyball) and it took 4 hours, but we made our final selection of 152 kids.  We’ll be admitting 91 girls into our program!  Of course, gender had nothing to do with our final selection process, but I was happy to see so many girls get supported.  Overall, we had more girls apply for our scholarship, so it makes sense.  My heart goes out to the young girls because they are sold into brothels, trafficked across the border or sold into marriage more often than boys are.

I had a thought this morning that I’m really happy about where my life is at.  I’ve made some pretty critical, life-altering changes in my life over the past 5 years and I’m happy about all of them.  I made the decision to give back to Viet Nam and my work with VNSF has brought a lot of meaning to my life.  I’ve picked up volleyball and that’s just goodness all around — it’s a good vent for my competitive nature, good exercise and a good time with friends.  And I’ve changed jobs, which I look forward to every day.  I’ve learn to take some time for myself and pamper myself from time to time.  I spend less money on stuff I don’t need and more on things that have meaning either for someone I love or for myself.  If I could work in a gym routine, that would be money.  =)