More than one way

Leaning into the Journey

Table of Contents

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Can you believe it’s been just shy of a year since we last posted?! When we logged in just now to pick up where we left off, Brian and I were actually shocked. It’s been a mess of a year, one filled with many tough moments, sleepless nights, and never-ending days. Our blog has been on our minds, but we have not been able to bring ourselves to fully and compassionately reflect on what has been a pretty ugly time. When I write, I write my truth.

With the world seemingly entrenched in a continuous state of contradiction and confusion, I chose to retreat internally as I tend to do when I realize I am unable to control situations around me. Working from the inside out, Brian and I widened our own scope and decided to focus on what we COULD control.

‘Lean into the journey’ became our go-to attitude. Really, it was much more palatable than ‘It is what it is’. We changed what we could and tried to find different ways to de-stress, avoid toxicity, and embrace our present. Our efforts translated into a full-fledged exercise commitment, disciplined diets, and intentionally (and safely) spending time with friends and family. As much as we tried to focus on remaining positive through the turmoil of 2020 as it continued into 2021, we just couldn’t shake the somber air and overall exhaustion around us. And you know what? That’s okay.

Treading Water

Brian’s work schedule slows down during the holidays, whereas mine is a perpetual abyss of hours dedicated to…well, treading water. In Saving Money in 2020, I mentioned that I had been donating hours to my job during the first few months of the pandemic. I continued to donate additional hours beyond that, well into the holiday season as we are constantly short-staffed.

The amount of responsibility I was assigned and took on at my job simply took a toll on me. I am grateful for the opportunity to work, but I also need to be grateful for a life I should be living. The pressure of work combined with the emotional distress of my community greatly impacted my heart and well-being.


I’m half-Asian. I never gave my multiracial background much thought until I moved from the north to the south. Culture shock? YES. My parents honestly provided an incredible upbringing that I am lucky to have experienced. Living just outside of New York City allowed for me to exist in and appreciate a blended worldview of culture, class, and education.

As a child, I learned that people came in all forms from all kinds of backgrounds. Through circumstance and ordinary interactions, I realized that it is natural to be different. While my surroundings helped broaden my views, my parents absolutely facilitated an environment that allowed me to be myself and grow into my own experiences. Not once was I pushed to think a certain way about any group of people. It wasn’t long after we moved that I understood not everyone had this perception.

I adjusted as best as I could. At the time, most people in the area we moved to were white and not exposed to ‘others’. This ended up creating a divide. Intentional or not, it was present and felt, despite any kind of attempt to reach out. I was told that I was too different to hang out with the white kids and too white to hang out with the few Asians there were.

I learned how to adapt in my adolescence. The Asian jokes would roll in and I would let them roll off my back. It became less of a headache to simply ignore the comments. My own experiences as a mixed woman have put me in both good and bad situations, from assault, to alienation, to community support, and shared traditions.


I have been in the south for more than 20 years now. Is there still a divide? Of course. It was with a heavy heart that I watched anti-Asian violence hit the news more and more each day. Truthfully, there was always some level of ‘anti-Asian’ sentiment present, but this year seemed intensified by the pandemic. Of course, the mainstream media reporting non-stop also added fuel to the fire. After an extraordinary year of shut-downs, protests, fires, and general mayhem, it was indescribably sad to watch so many suffering. I began to talk about my feelings more with friends and family. To vent and discuss was comforting, and ultimately, it helped me process my own feelings of sadness as I leaned into this journey. In response to the anti-Asian violence, I watched people come together on a national level to support each other. There is still a divide in this country, and certainly in the south, but it has been encouraging to be able to discuss race without it being a joke.

Life Unchained?

Overworked and overwhelmed, Brian and I struggled to stay in high spirits while tackling the maintenance of our old home. We began the year by hiring a local company to replace a few of our exterior doors. We took our time painting our newly installed doors, working through the stress of the pandemic and our jobs. Comically, within the span of 3 weeks in May, a tree fell in our yard, the sump pump in our basement failed, the refrigerator died, and a fan fell from the ceiling…taking chunks of the ceiling down with it! Other than hiring out the tree removal, we rallied and DIY’d our way through repairs. In less than a month of our final YouTube-guided fix, we discovered a small leak from our master bathroom shower that made its way to the basement. Wonderful.

Tiling disaster along the shower floor

Challenge Accepted

Oh, life is HILARIOUS. At this point, we had two choices:

  1. Fix the horrible tiling job in our shower to temporarily repair the problem…OR
  2. Strip the entire bathroom down to the studs and make it our own.

Surprise, surprise…we picked numero duo. Brian and I were NOT fans of our bathroom. In fact, we already had a plan to renovate it by the time we closed on our home. We just didn’t realize this project would happen so soon.

Luckily, our gracefully aging home (combined with our practical nature and my frugality) prepared us for loads of DIY energy. With some of dad’s brains and brawn along with ours, coupled with sweat, courage, and YouTube ed, we are currently managing a COMPLETE bathroom renovation…two months in and counting!

C’est la vie. We leaned into this journey BIG time. I don’t know that we are currently living a life unchained the way we intended…but, at least we still have the freedom to make the choices we make.

Freedom to Choose

Leaning into the journey means making choices. One must choose a direction, to go with the flow, to ease their minds…to find the adventure. It’s been a heck of a year. We have worked hard to find direction and keep going. Despite the weight of negative noise, busy chaos, and sadness, we remain committed to our adventure in life together.

Every challenge reveals a lesson. We learn some of these lessons as we go. Personally, I’ve been treading water for most of this year, but have lately found stability in where we are going. It’s about the journey, after all.

Choices & Outcomes

  • Maintained intentional friendships
    • Embraced difficult conversations
    • Grew closer to our friends
  • Dedicated ELEVEN MONTHS to P90X and maintained a healthy diet.
    • Total weight loss of 60lbs between both of us
    • Serious muscle gains
    • Increased energy and stamina
  • Utilized and developed DIY skills
    • Hands-on experience
    • Quality time
    • Using our own brainpower
    • Leveling up our life skills
  • Intentional consumerism
    • Sought out American-made products
    • Excluded Chinese-made product for our bathroom renovation
    • Purchased quality tools for our current and future projects

From these highlighted choices and more, Brian and I have muddled through this strain of a year, leaned into our own journeys, and have found our footing. No one knows what’s ahead, but at least we know we’ll learn something new.

Education is everything. On-going self-education is a must.

So jump in, read a book or two, and lean into your own journey.

Our custom bookshelf, courtesy of dad

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