2020 Goals: Quarterly Check-In

At the beginning of the year, I shared that I had set a few goals for myself (you can read the full post here). Now, given that the first quarter of the year is over, I wanted to complete a quick check-in and share with you all my progress so far… So, here we go!


Check-In: My 2020 Goals

  • Achieve my goal weight of 140 lbs.
    • Progress: In an unfortunate turn of events, I had actually gained quite a bit of weight between January and February. Probably due to the free food at work? Nevertheless, since I started working from home full-time earlier this month due to coronavirus concerns, I’ve been more intentional about eating home-cooked meals, implementing intermittent fasting, and staying active. So I’ve actually lost a few pounds and a couple of inches since the beginning of this month! Still quite a ways away from my goal weight, but I’ll keep moving forward.
  • Publish 52 blog posts by the end of the year.
    • Progress: Given that this is Week 14 of the year, I should have published 14 blog posts by now. Sadly, this post brings my total published post count to five. Don’t worry: my COVID-19 creative sprint actually put me in a good place to publish a bit more content this month, so you’ll be reading more from me in the near future.
  • Practice self-care regularly: daily prayer/meditation, journaling, gratitude, exercise; monthly date nights with Reggie.
    • Progress: I know that I’ve skipped a day or two here and there within my different daily practices. However, holistically, I’ve made these different tasks a priority in my daily routine — even intentionally carving out time in my work-from-home schedule, given that I no longer have my one-hour commute to meditate, journal, and read. Overall, I feel positive that these daily self-care regimens have been helping with my mental and emotional health.
      Monthly date nights with Reggie, however, have not been a priority. Partly because quarantines don’t allow us to go out on dates. But also because, candidly, we’ve been struggling to balance taking care of our marriage with all of our other obligations (i.e., my work, Reggie’s work, our children, our home life, our extended families, this global pandemic, a complete shift in how we manage our family life since being forced to shelter in place, etc.), that carving out time to spend one-on-one didn’t seem like a possibility. Don’t worry: we’re not in crisis mode; however, we’ve realized that being stuck together in quarantine — without work or other people as distractions — is an opportune time for us to tackle some underlying marital woes. More on that later this week.

Check-In: 20 Things to Do in 2020, a.k.a. My Annual Bucket List

(listed in no particular order)

To-DoStatusNotes
Sign up for a library card.PendingUnfortunately, didn’t get a chance to do this before the current shelter-in-place order impacted the local libraries’ operating hours. TBD on whether or not I can do this by year’s end.
Plant and maintain a terrarium with the boys.In progressPlanted a little terrarium kit with Tadashi* and Hiro* some time in January. Terrarium is currently sitting on the window sill by my desk. Is the plant alive? Questionable.
Take a calligraphy class.PendingI was hoping to do this in-person, but I think I should research some virtual options at this point.
Complete a Couch to 5K program.In progressJust started my Couch to 5K program this week! 7.5 more weeks to go…
Run a 5K.PendingI intended to sign up for a formal race. However, I may be a bit more flexible and count an “unofficial” 5K, a.k.a. running that distance on my own time, given the potential that formal races might not occur for the rest of the year.
Go to a live concert.PendingSame concerns as above.
Buy a house.In progressYes, “in progress”!
Get triple lobe piercings.PendingSame concerns as above.
Get a tattoo with Vinh Huynh at Ironwave Ink.CompleteGot this done in mid-January!
Get a tattoo with Sai Li.In progressI initially had an appointment scheduled with Sai this Thursday, April 2nd. However, we had to reschedule due to the shelter-in-place orders. I’ll reschedule as soon as Sai confirms when she can reopen her tattoo studio.
Read at least 20 books.In progressCurrently reading my ninth book of the year! I definitely need to thank my Book of the Month subscription for making this bucket list item so easy to maintain.
Listen to one album a week.In progressFeel free to leave any album recommendations in the comments!
Re-learn (and memorize!) Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in C# Minor.PendingI’m happy to share that I’ve been playing a lot more piano recently, since I have more time to spare during the day. However, have not yet cracked open Rachmaninoff’s Prelude.
Travel to a city I’ve never been to.PendingI was supposed to go to San Antonio last week for work, which would have completed this to-do. We’ll see if I can still make this happen this year.
Take an overnight trip with Reggie (no kids!).PendingSame concerns as above.
Dine at a Michelin star restaurant.PendingSame concerns as above.
Visit Disneyland during Christmas.PendingGod, I hope that Disneyland reopens by Christmastime…!
Complete a 30-day plank challenge.PendingI’ll tackle this after I complete my Couch to 5K program.
Host a private movie screening.PendingHopefully movie theaters reopen by the end of this year…!
Complete my 2020 bullet journal — artistic spreads and all!In progress… And I am oh-so-proud of how my bullet journal looks so far! I’ll share some spreads on here in the coming months.

And that is my progress so far this year. I admit that I haven’t completed as many things as I had hoped to do by this point. But I’m going to give myself some grace and recognize that, within this past month alone, my whole life (and the world, in general) has been completely upended. We all deserve a bit of a reprieve and some allowance to adapt to this new normal.

Looking at the month ahead, I’m committing to a sense of positivity. I’m prioritizing my personal (physical, mental, and emotional) health, focusing on my marriage, and aiming to keep my children healthy and happy. If I maintain this focus, I know that — organically — I’ll make more progress on my goals.

To all of you, readers: hope you’re all staying safe and sane and healthy. If you’ve had any goals set for this year, please let me know how you’re doing, as well, and let me know how I can support you! I know that 2020 has seemed like a dumpster fire of a year so far. But we still have nine months ahead of us and opportunities to create something positive.

My Shelter-in-Place Creative Sprint: How I’m Creatively Dealing with COVID-19

Ah, what an interesting time we live in today…

With the current, constantly escalating situation with COVID-19, my little family and I (just like everyone else in the world) have felt the impact of the pandemic on our home life.

Professionally, my employer decided to temporarily shutter all of our global offices. So I’ve been working from home since last Monday, March 9th. I’ve had different business trips and projects either canceled or postponed until Q3 of the fiscal year – which means that (1) I’ve been tasked with identifying new, virtual ways of getting my job done and (2) a much busier August than I initially anticipated. Plus, I’m grappling with a general sense of uncertainty around how long this temporary remote work situation will last — and when I can expect to return to my work “normal.”

Personally, my home life has been disrupted. I find myself constantly reassessing how I spend my days (What structure can I put into place to make sure I get everything done? How can I make sure that I’m still taking care of myself physically, mentally, and emotionally when my daily routines have been upended?). My little family and I are frequently realigning how we coexist within our three-bedroom apartment: how we can capitalize on spending more time with each other, how we can ensure that we carve out crucial times we need to be by ourselves, and how we can ensure that we’re still providing a sense of normalcy to our toddlers who, quite frankly, have no idea what’s going on.

Continue reading “My Shelter-in-Place Creative Sprint: How I’m Creatively Dealing with COVID-19”

Motherly Confessions: I Like to Be Away from My Kids

Harsh truth time: I’m a mom who likes being away from her kids.

I came to this realization when I was a little past the halfway point of my maternity leave after I had my second son Noah. I was one of the lucky few people in the U.S. whose employer offered a generous maternity leave (i.e. paid and longer than a few weeks): in all, I had roughly six months total of paid time off both to recover from childbirth and to bond with my newborn baby. And throughout that time, I had an opportunity to reflect on my motherhood style.

I undoubtedly cherished every minute of my leave (and, for the record, I would never exchange that time off for anything in the world, and I fundamentally believe that: one, this country needs to mandate paid parental leave for all types of parents, and two, we need to destigmatize parenthood, particularly pregnancy and motherhood, in the workplace… but I digress, as that is a topic of conversation for another, much meatier blog post). However, I realized during that time that I’m a better mom, a better wife, a better head of household, and, in truth, an all around better person when I spend some time away from my kids.

Continue reading “Motherly Confessions: I Like to Be Away from My Kids”

Happy New Year: 2020 Goals

Ah, here we are: at the start of a new year.

It’s funny: thanks to my favorite feature on my Day One Journal, my end-of-year journal entries automatically resurface through an “On This Day” recap, and I’ve had an opportunity to read through all my new year sentiments from the past six years or so.

There definitely were common themes.

I haven’t accomplished everything I’ve wanted to… but I will next year. I’m going to lose that weight. I’m going to get healthy. I’m going to write more blog posts. I’m going to be happy. I’m going to take care of myself.

Forgive me, but this blog post is also going to be filled with some of the same stuff… We’re creatures of habit after all, right?

Continue reading “Happy New Year: 2020 Goals”

On Finding a Rhythm (or, Rather, NOT Finding a Rhythm)

I apologize for being MIA for the past couple of months. Once Tadashi got sick with the flu, Reggie and I, unfortunately, couldn’t get back into a life rhythm. So, understandably, my writing fell by the wayside.

And that’s what I want to focus on in today’s blog post: that struggle for new parents to find a rhythm. More specifically, a rhythm for self-care and self-love.

I wrote on my 28th birthday that taking time for myself and for my (physical, emotional, and mental) well-being was one of my top priorities this year. And that still stands. It’s just been so difficult for a multitude of reasons:

Continue reading “On Finding a Rhythm (or, Rather, NOT Finding a Rhythm)”

On the Importance of Self-Love

Today’s my 28th birthday. And, as I kick off the day (and approach this year), I’m making a concerted effort not only to practice gratitude and positivity but also to practice a lot of self-love.

Honestly, I’ve always been that kind of person who puts other people and their needs first. You can ask my husband. Or my parents. I tend to give and give, without expecting anything in return.

Not that generosity is a bad thing. Or that I expect to become someone who gives only conditionally. But I do recognize that taking care of others is fruitless if you’re not taking care of yourself: you can’t love fully if you’re not full yourself (I’ve unpacked this a lot during therapy so I won’t go into it a lot here…).

Motherhood amplified my tendencies for extreme selflessness. Which makes sense, given that this little person’s well-being is entirely dependent on me. Of course, it’s a lot of responsibility, but it also provides a lot of opportunities to really stop thinking about myself, in even the most minute ways.

Continue reading “On the Importance of Self-Love”

Coming to Terms with My Postpartum Body: My 2018 Fitness Goals

2017 was an intense year, both for the world and for me. All craziness aside, though, the year also brought me one of the greatest blessings of my life: Tadashi*.

Bringing my child into the world meant enduring countless emotional, mental, and physical changes. Emotionally, the first few months of Tadashi’s life were a rollercoaster. Mentally, assuming a new identity as “mother” led to some pretty profound shifts in my priorities: with a child, my intent this year and in all future years is to live my life in a way that makes not only me happy, safe, and fulfilled, but also my little family (especially my son).

Physically, 2017 proved to be an interesting journey.

Of course, pregnancy brought its physical highs and lows. While I didn’t experience any particularly stubborn symptoms (thankfully, no morning sickness or odd food aversions here!), I definitely felt uncomfortable, especially throughout the third trimester. Aching back. Shooting paints of sciatica up and down my thigh and left butt cheek. Swollen feet that wouldn’t fit in anything but Birkenstocks.

Continue reading “Coming to Terms with My Postpartum Body: My 2018 Fitness Goals”

On the Anxiety of Watching My Kid Alone for the First Time

The first time I had to watch my son Tadashi* by myself, he was four weeks old. And I was terrified.

My husband Reggie had a tattoo appointment in San Francisco’s Mission District. The appointment had been on our calendars for nearly a year, and we had agreed that I’d make the necessary arrangements so I’d have some childcare help while Reggie was gone. This was a plan we had agreed upon months ago.

But, of course, in the midst of all the newborn chaos, I forgot to ask for some help.

I realized the unfortunate oversight the night before Reggie’s appointment, and I started to have a panic attack at around 11 p.m. Sensing my anxiety, Reggie offered to cancel his appointment — but I felt bad for making him walk away from something that he was planning for so long. The morning of his appointment, he even offered to call my mom or my sister on my behalf to see if they could come to our apartment last-minute — but I felt guilty for asking them to venture so far into the East Bay to keep me company.

You may ask: why was I so reluctant to accept some help when I so obviously needed it? Well, for starters, I hated the thought of inconveniencing someone so last-minute. And I didn’t want Reggie to give up something that he obviously wanted.

And, to be honest, I despised the fact that I was panicking so much about watching my own child.

I recognize that, as a new mom, I’m bound to have some nerves, since this is uncharted territory. But my nerves seemed to be on an entirely different level.

Continue reading “On the Anxiety of Watching My Kid Alone for the First Time”

On the Anxiety of Venturing Out into the World with a Newborn

My son Tadashi* is officially two months old today, but I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve left the house with him (not including doctor’s appointments and visits with lactation consultants).

I can blame my reluctance to venture into the outside world with him on a few tangible things:

  1. His current lack of immunization. I tell myself that I’m keeping him safe from any airborne pathogens or potential sickness by keeping him indoors.
  2. The fact that it is now flu season. See above.
  3. Pure exhaustion. Getting Tadashi* and all his belongings ready for some time away from home is a huge production, and — more often than not — I simply lack the energy to do so.

But, when it comes down to it, all those excuses (while slightly valid) are still excuses. Sure, there’s a risk in taking Tadashi* out when he hasn’t had his first round of vaccines, but there are still places we can go and precautions we can take that limit his exposure to potential sickness. And, yes, I’m tired — but, as I tell everyone who asks how I’m doing: How can I not be tired when I’m taking care of a newborn? There’s really no reason why I shouldn’t be able to leave the apartment with him.

So, if I’m being 100% honest with myself, I’m not really scared about leaving because Tadashi* might get sick; I’m just scared about being responsible for a young human life on my own, out in public.

Sure, taking care of my son at home, on my own, has its own stresses (more on that later) — but at least home is familiar. I know we have diapers; I know his bassinet is handy; I know that I can breastfeed him with privacy, on a comfortable couch, with something entertaining and relaxing on the television. Outside, there are so many daunting unknowns. If he gets hungry, will there be a place where I can comfortably nurse? Will I have access to a changing table? Will he behave, or will today be another fussy day where it will take every trick in the book to console him? And, of course, the worst: will people judge me if he acts up?

Continue reading “On the Anxiety of Venturing Out into the World with a Newborn”

Welcome: Why This Blog Exists

Dear Reader,

Welcome to “beanbrain,” my personal pregnancy and parenting blog. Before we get things started, I first want to share some things about motherhood and me:

(1) From a young age, I’ve always envisioned myself as a mother.

I know there are some women (and men) who never consider having or simply don’t want to have children. I was never that person. Whatever the reason, I always knew I wanted children of my own. One day.

(2) I had zero expectations in terms of how I would feel about and tackle pregnancy and parenting.

When I first announced I was pregnant, people would ask me the same few questions. What are you excited about? Nervous about? Do you want a boy or a girl? My answer to all of the above: “Honestly, I’m not thinking too much about anything.” As a first-time parent, I knew that I wouldn’t have the slightest clue as to what I would be doing once my child came into the world. My closest friends and family also warned me that the reality of pregnancy, childbirth, and child-rearing would be drastically different from anything I could imagine or expect. So, as I entered pregnancy, I vowed to live my days as open-minded and open-hearted as possible.

(3) There were so many times throughout my pregnancy and during my first few weeks of parenthood where I thought or said, “I wish people talked about this…”

Despite my lack of expectations, there were a few things that happened during my pregnancy and in the early days of motherhood (from a miscarriage scare at the beginning of my second trimester, to my reaction to learning that I would need to deliver via C-section, to the struggle I had with breastfeeding) that made me feel anxious, frustrated, and — above all — alone. Only by talking to other women in my life did I realize that these experiences (and their accompanying emotions) were more common than I thought.

And that’s why this blog exists. This is designed to serve as a safe space not only to share my thoughts and emotions with you but also to confirm that we are not alone when it comes to the less-than-pretty aspects of pregnancy and parenting.

Every week, I hope to share different reflections and personal experiences on a variety of topics, and I invite you to share your own experiences with me. So here’s to figuring out motherhood together!

All the best,
Sarina, a.k.a. beanbrain