How I Choose to Live

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It’s been quite often that I’ve been told… “you’re at the age to explore and try new things!” and “do all that you can before you have more adult responsibilities.”

And of course, this is exactly what I’ve been doing ever since I turned 25. There hasn’t been a single dull moment. On weekdays, I am a therapist conquering mental health problems and by weeknights and weekends, I am a full time adventurer and life researcher. Many people ask me, “What do you do with your time?” and I always answer, “There isn’t enough time to do everything!”

Yes, time has become the evil villain of my life. I’m constantly having to remind myself:

  • to be more present with myself
  • to be more mindful of what I do
  • to live more in the moment

Without adding hints of mindfulness in my life, I have the tendency to constantly move forward and fill all the gaps of time by letting noise take occupancy or always keeping myself busy. Recently this past week, I started to let myself slow down a bit. I noticed how much more present I became with not only my clients, but also with myself and other significant people in my life.

I’m amazed by how one person can really inspire another person like an infinite domino effect. I’m going to take all the knowledge I’ve acquired so far in my quarter century of life, and apply it, make mistakes, and hopefully create something memorable and meaningful for all that is a part of my life.

“If you’re going to live, leave a legacy. Make a mark on the world that can’t be erased.” – Maya Angelou

“What next?”

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This is the question that many many people have been asking me. Honestly, I don’t think anybody really knows what they are doing besides a rough idea of their long-term goals and what they envision for their future. The unforeseen future can be a frightening thought for some people, and this is mainly due to familial pressure and the harsh reality of needing to succeed or survive in today’s society. For others, they seem to appear confident and have a direction; some of these people may have started early on in order to mold and build their foundation for achieving their ultimate dream job and goals in life. As for me, I’m completely comfortable with the unknown. I think this will keep me on my toes and ready to hop on board the upcoming opportunities in my life.

My answer to the question: I don’t just want to join the workforce as a therapist in the mental health field. I want to do so much more than simply work my life away. I’m ready to contribute to society by helping families, children, couples, and individuals in need of practicing better solutions in their lives. Apart from that, I also want to continue my growth as an individual. I intend to do this by traveling to more of the world. Perhaps I may come across the people from various parts of the world and exchange ideas, embark on new experiences, and listen to their stories.

So far it’s been about two weeks since I returned from my trips to Florida and the bay. Although I don’t consider these destinations as really traveling the world, I did meet some foreign faces here and there. I’m extremely thankful that I planned these two trips so spontaneously because they allowed me to learn more about myself in just a short amount of time. I still can’t believe that my two favorite things, traveling and music, has allowed me to have some deep and interesting conversations with people I barely know. Also, being the responsible adult as I am, I made sure to apply for therapist positions right before my two trips and interview during the gap that I was back. It still feels so surreal that time has been flying by so quickly. It’s really true when they say that time speeds up when you’re an adult unlike the endless days when you’re a child.

Who knows what’s next? Expectations can lead to disappointment. Therefore, I accepted my first job offer and I will see where it takes me! I’m slightly ecstatic to say that I’ll be a bilingual, Cantonese-English therapist at your service.

Finding Comfort in Solitude

As an only child, I’ve grown up most of my life knowing what it felt like to be truly alone. This experience has led me to use my creativity to engage in various outlets that helped occupy my time. I recall times among the many things I did involved sitting hours end on a swivel chair reading through books, finding scraps of paper and creating random pieces artwork, riding my bike outside to explore the “vast world” of my neighborhood, etc. These were definitely more simpler times minus the intrusion of technology such as computers, smartphones, and anything with a screen and internet connection. Of course, being alone also involved times when I would sink into boredom and dissatisfaction. For some people, being alone may entail yourself with the absence of friends or people, being without a significant other, or it may even seem like a black hole where you’re dealing with the impending doom of loneliness. For me, finding comfort in solitude has given me the greatest sense of empowerment. I’ve found that accomplishing something completely on your own and without the company or help from others can really give you a more fulfilling sense of satisfaction. Ultimately, I believe that those who have not found comfort in being alone, has limited their full potential to maximize and familiarize themselves with their amazing sense of self. You may become surprised at the epiphanies of life you can encounter if you spend some time or even just a simple moment in solitude.

Self-empowerment

Lately, I’ve been thinking about ways to develop self-empowerment. If you don’t know me already, I’ve been taking the walk of life as an empowered, independent woman. Slowly but surely. There are still many things that I’m afraid of but who isn’t? I’ve accepted my fears as challenges that I want to overcome or find more comfort in. I believe this is how I can find meaning and happiness anywhere in life.

I understand that finding courage to voice one’s opinions, feeling confident to make decisions, and pushing yourself past your usual limit of comfort can all be daunting. That’s why I came to realization that acknowledgement of the matter at hand from various angles, including others’ input if necessary, will allow my mind to begin to tackle these obstacles. Then, patience, planning, and process of elimination usually moves me towards ideas that can expand my sense of empowerment.

All in all, developing self-empowerment is my personal goal, which I know will not be easy. The ultimate battle will be within myself. And I definitely have more to learn about myself.

“When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”

My Journey to Self-Discovery

The best degree you can work on and attain is YOU because you are not defined by the amount of education you can have.

Sometimes you get so caught up in life you forget about yourself. I wonder how people find a good balance between finding time for themselves, their social lives, and important obligations. I’ve concluded that life is too short. Just take chances and follow what feels right to you. All will fall into place when it’s meant to happen.

I’ve been feeling a mixture of thrill and anxiety by the idea of becoming an adult. Luckily, my current circumstances have given me somewhat of a financial cushion and some room to delay adulthood. Before I commit myself to a 9-5 job as a full-time therapist, I definitely want to take a little more time to take some risks and chances that may allow me to venture into different realms of opportunities for me to pursue self-enlightenment and growth. I’ve been low-key obsessed with the idea of searching for quality in my life. What I’ve found in my search so far includes: deep conversations with people, getting out of my comfort zone, and taking in different perspectives.

Lately, I find that I have more room to stretch my mind figuratively, so I’ve been reflecting tremendously  daily on ideas, people, and experiences that I don’t want to miss out on. I’ve always been someone who was afraid to regret my choices, but now I want to become someone who isn’t afraid of taking chances.

I have two flights planned for next month. I’m going to San Francisco and Miami! And I am absolutely not sure what I am doing, which is more impulsive of me than usual. No matter how both trip goes, I am sure THIS is what I want.

“The mind, once stretched by a new idea, never returns to its original dimensions.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

In retrospect…

So so much has changed since the past year. For those of you who haven’t heard or seen me in a while…I completed my Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy back in August 2016. On a side note, I don’t really tell people that I’m a therapist because I don’t feel qualified yet (I’m still working towards my licensure); and I prefer to help people and families without the feeling of entitlement because I truly am passionate about helping those rekindle their relationships with each other. I want to continue becoming a strong advocate for people to create happier and healthier family bonds, relationships, and friendships. Anyways, I didn’t think graduate school would fly by as quickly as I got admitted back in March 2014. It has definitely been what seemed like a super painfully long and gratifying journey. My journey through grad school, as a MFT trainee, and living solo in San Diego has taught me many valuable life lessons. I encourage anyone who is feeling stuck in life (and has the financial means) to either pursue higher education, try living on your own in a city you’re not familiar with, or just putting yourself in any new and uncomfortable situations (even if briefly) because this has been one of my most satisfying yet challenging experiences of my life. I have definitely grown in so many ways that I thought I would never have. I feel and think more independently. According to one of my friends, I still look like I haven’t aged one bit, but I feel like I’ve gained and lost (this includes more than just weight lol) more than I have in the past year. 2016 was a year of many life crises, broken and gained friendships, heartbreak, and new beginnings. I recognize that this is all a part of life, maybe even the beginning of adulthood–people come and go and things happen out of your control. I think with all the life transitions I’ve experienced in these past two years whilst in grad school really has changed me. I’ve made countless mistakes in the past and I don’t regret it because that is how I came to grasp a better understanding of the world and became who I am today. The risk-taking me that applied to grad school on a whim is still here today and I’m extremely thankful because a risk not taken could have meant a path I didn’t give a chance. However, the thoughts in my mind and the way that I perceive people and the world is not what it used to be. My perspective on everything has changed greatly from the time I graduated, moved back home in Los Angeles, reconnected with some old and new friends, and went on my trip to Asia. With that being said, I want to continue to grow and forever be a student of life and strive to find my authentic self.

Will start this by:

  • eating healthier, getting fit and working out
  • getting employed
  • reading (never stop learning)
  • traveling/spending more time in nature
  • self-care

Authentically and sincerely,

-Deanna

Guess who‘s back?!

That’s right, me! I’m starting another new chapter in life while I’m on my grad school school journey. And I think this chapter in life has opened my eyes to see that there are better things and people in my life that I should cherish. I honestly wasn’t expecting to start another one within my time in San Diego… I’ll see where life takes me after I finish grad school. I’ll either be staying to gain more experience and hours towards my MFT licensure or moving back home where I have family and friends to support me.

The update on my past year: I’ve moved two times, I’m officially an MFT Trainee, three more weeks until I will have completed my first year and will continue onto my second year of grad school towards a MA, I’ve reached level 2 of a long distance relationship (that means he’s even further from me now), and last but not least I’ve started a new housing journey with three white housemates!

I’m excited to see what the future has in store for me.