Thought-Provoking Soup, a blog maintained by Grace Cheung, a Brown University senior who grew up in Forest Hills, is entirely personal, much like Crews’ site. But hers is a world seen through the eyes of a 21-year-old Chinese-American, born in the United States, who hopes to enter medical school in the fall. Meanwhile, she still faces final exams and deadlines for academic papers, all of which she writes about in her blog.
One of Cheung’s entries looks at the pressure she has begun to feel, but in an upbeat, funny style, the manner in which most of her site is written. She is “starting to panic,” the passage says, “and my coughing has gotten exponentially worse from intermittent sleep and shots of caffeine.”
Another entry discusses being indoors for hours, studying and surfing the Web, while the sun is shining. But she discovers another blog and is greatly inspired, the passage says. “Sure, it’s gorgeous outside, but sitting in front of this computer isn’t so bad.”
Interviewed by email, Cheung said she created her site a year ago, during several months of study in Vietnam, as way to “keep in touch” with friends from college. But the site “exploded to much more than that,” now drawing about 350 hits a week.
Cheung, a literature and culture major, likens the blogging “phenomenon” to the public’s growing interest in memoirs and calls herself “a big proponent” of the online journal.
“Blogging,” she wrote, “encourages people to be more philosophical, to dialogue with each other about mundane things … or to discuss why the war occurred in Iraq.”
2013 has been an incredible year. Looking back, I accomplished 2 out of 4 quarterly goals and made a ton of progress on my final goal. Those were:
Q1: Get a boyfriend <3
Q2: Get a new job
Q3: Get healthy (not a SMART goal, by the way, which accounted for its failure - that and I got the flu and an ear infection in Cancun, crippling my third quarter, compounded by lack of health insurance which a whole other story)
Q4: Sign a contract on my first home purchase
I demystified residential real estate in NYC, hooray! All thanks to my awesome broker who figuratively held my hand through the process. I have a great team.
I also made incredible leaps in leadership in the business world - taking my first General Assembly and McKinsey business course, participating in a leadership program at work, learning so much at SXSW 2013 from speakers like Elon Musk and Al Gore, and going to Personal Democracy Forum as a Google Fellow and feeling the progress for women in tech. I also took on my first freelance social media client, which was a fun and informative experience.
I had a great summer: rooftop farming in LIC, learning growth hacking, hanging from a trapeze, walking my first 5K for charity, riding CitiBike, going down to the Jersey Shore every other weekend just like other New Yorkers did. It felt really great to leave the city.
I had the best birthday ever this year in the Lower East Side surrounded by everyone I love, happy hour drinks and a Yunnan Chinese feast. It’s all about the odd years.
I spent a lot of time in casinos this year and visited Atlantic City more than once, enjoying the ocean, boardwalk and its characters. Great all American trips: Tarpon Springs, Florida; Jamaica Plain, Boston; Philadelphia, Delaware Water Gap, Wildwood, New Jersey, and crossed the border to Playa del Carmen, Mexico.
I said goodbye to my Pau Pau, my beloved grandma in July.
Next year’s resolutions:
Discipline. Fit into my jeans, be on time, go to sleep early, go kettlebell kickboxing.
Data. Get really good at Excel, Google Analytics, my budget.
Determination. Work on my house and home.
I also want to go to church more and visit London and Peru.
In doing the previous exercise of listing 100 things that make me happy, there weren’t really any surprises. I know myself pretty well, to the point of boredom at times. However, aside from the obvious desire to work in social media for social good, here were my 5 thematic learnings:
Local/Global. No wonder why I live in Queens - it’s the perfect combination of neighborhoods and enclaves with an ethnic, international flair. I am drawn to the local level, whether it’s local nightly news to Patch-type reporting to municipal innovations. But I’m also interested in global foods, culture and peoples, especially Asia and Southeast Asia. I should become a member of WNYC.
Wellness/Healthy Living. Studying Buddhism in Vietnam and being a pre-med student in college must have left a lasting impact, because I love all things crunchy and am obsessed with wellness. For example, I read all the New York Times articles on how sitting on your couch will take away years of your life. I knew I should’ve interned with Dr. Weil when I had the chance, and doing editorial for something like the Omega Institute also piqued my interest.
Food-Tech. I love eating! Why not combine it with my love for social media? Seamless, Foursquare, Meetup are all startups that I am super passionate about. Should I review food - like every aspiring writer in New York? I remember my Asian foods and Asian films column for the Thai newspaper I used to work at. It could be fun to revive that even casually.
Sensory Stuff and Getting Messy. Hand me my smock. Lately I’m into gardening, cooking, anything tactile that involves getting my hands dirty. I know that I don’t have fine motor skills for building architectural models or surgery, but I do love plunging my hands into a sack of beans like Amelie and mashing up avocado with my bare hands. Perhaps I should learn to bake bread. Get closer to the earth.
Asia. I still have a strong love for Asia, my study abroad and work abroad destination of choice. I’m really happy exploring the land. Maybe a visit to Shanghai or Lhasa, Tibet is in order. Or get more involved in the Asian American Writers Workshop.
Again, no real surprises but a confirmation that my passions are beginning to gel now that I’m a thirty-something.
WAIT. Could my dream job be to work for Whole Foods and doing their corporate philanthropy blog, which would somehow involve business trips to Asia and live demos?
A group of us mid-level women at work decided to come together and meet regularly over dinner and drinks, discussing our careers, leadership and other such good things in life. The first meeting took place at a Mexican speakeasy in Chinatown. (Needless to say it was awesome, with warm chips, five levels of spiciness of salsa and a $35 “pineapple bomb” drink special.) Our first assignment this Labor Day weekend is to come up with a list of 100 things that make us happy and comb through to find 5 themes that could be applicable towards our next job. Here’s my stab at this, in really no particular order.
There’s this place on the corner where I go to get $5 gyros, Greek salads with feta cheese and white onion rings up the wazoo, and hunks of warm spinach pie. On my fifteenth trip for spanakopita I finally said to the Greek man, “Your food is so very good,” and he replied, “Arigato,” very solemnly. Given it was Astoria, I suppose it all made sense.
It’s already been a year of firsts. On a day as cold as today — 18 degrees? with single digits forecasted for next week — I knew I had to try hot yoga and sweat it out. I went to Yoga to the People’s Hot Vinyasa class on 38th Street and most ladies were as flexible as this person above.
The room was steamy like a sauna and we were warned to not keep the door open as the heat would escape. The changing room’s bare lightbulb felt something akin to a prison camp, with profusely sweaty, clammy women crammed into a small space, but we dealt. I always find it interesting that Yoga to the People’s trainers don’t demonstrate any moves and just talk the talk, but I still had a great workout and enjoyed the sweat pouring down my sticky mat.
Doing yoga really keeps me in the present moment and focuses my attention on the task at hand. I can’t worry about what I’ll do the next day or the next hour — all I can do is hold the pose, breathe, expand and channel my physical energy.
I made another resolution tonight: to work out at least twice a week, once yoga, and once cardio/strength-training. This is going to be a good year.
Last year was a doozy. I finished my fellowship, I was unemployed for a week, I got a new job, I dated, I organized fundraisers, I joined a board, I spent hours, weeks and months dwelling on my future.
It just seems like it’s time for a banana break (according to my MailChimp dashboard).
I took a few Anusara yoga classes last year. The teacher would intonate, “Expand your heart into the space to be fully yourself. Allow yourself to be imperfect. Forgive yourself.”
I’m going to take that to be the theme of this year. Yes, I want to be my best, as always — I’m driven, ambitious, motivated, want to kick-ass 24/7, but some days, I just want to learn how to rest and know that it’s OK to do so. To not be driven by guilt.
So, red rocks Sedona, Hudson Valley retreat, here I come.