Monthly Memories: July – A Month of Identity, Empowerment and Shared Joy

We have reached past the halfway mark of the year, which means I have been keeping up (even if barely) with my monthly memories for 6 months! I’m deciding to make some changes. This Monthly Memories for July is going to be very brief since it’s already September and because I want to spend more time on the projects and hobbies I write about instead of spending so much time and energy on my Monthly Memories. I also was thinking about possibly trying out weekly memories instead to see how that would be like but I may need to catch up to the present first or maybe I could try that for August. Weekly tracking could help me with tracking goals better and see progress and change from week to week within the month. Sharing reflections and accounts in the Monthly Memories has it’s own value too. Hmm…maybe I’ll do a weekly and monthly mash up.


The highlights of July were:

  • Getting a transformative haircut and donating my hair for the second time
  • Getting a MacBook Air
  • Joining a new dance class (it’s like a New Age Zumba class)
  • Learning to speed read
  • Having interesting social encounters through Pokemon Go
  • Finishing the book Mrs. Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
  • Trying Joylent
  • Going to my high school reunion
  • Finding out that my friend is getting engaged
  • Going to Isotope comics
  • Training a new staff
  • Seeing the clients participate in a gardening class that supplies the food for the cooking class
  • My client illustrating and writing the story of Mulan on a scroll in ancient Chinese
  • Reuniting with my Samba Troupe and eating a lot of dim sum
  • Having a long conversation with a client in ASL

There are a few points I want to elaborate on. One is the Pokemon Go experience. First off, I missed the boat when it came to enjoying the Gameboy games, the card game, and the TV show in the 90’s. But I wanted to see what the hubbub was about and be part of the fun. I wanted to send friends funny, creative pictures with the Pokemon and know what all the fuss is about. During that week I was shamefully addicted, but I had some very interesting encounters including a little boy coming up to me and leading me around the park and teaching me how to catch the one of rarest Pokemon, Dragonite. It was so sweet! Another was when my client and I hopped into a taxi and our Brazilian driver handed me her iPad to help her kids level up and catch Pokemon as we drove around Downtown. That experience was so funny and surprising! Other encounters were getting submersed in other people’s social circles and joining a group on a common quest for Pokemon. People were so friendly and eager to connect and help each other. It was such an interesting social experiment for me. The last straw though was the app consistently crashing and not paying attention to the real world. But I defiantly had some good takeaway experiences.

A lot of changes happened at work, including one of my supervisors moving back home and leaving the company. This makes me the most experienced person with my client in our program. My supervisor was the one who trained me and now I’ll need to train everyone else before waiting until they get enough experience to be able to train others. My supervisor used to be the one I would call for advice and help about how to handle certain situations. For most things now, it’s on me because none of my supervisors have worked with her extensively like my previous supervisor. What’s also interesting is that I was the first person my previous supervisor hired and I was hired specifically to help my supervisor move to her position and have her previous position covered. Hearing the news that she was leaving made my time and experience at my job come full circle.

My haircut had a whole blog of its own. You can read about its lasting impact here.

The high school reunion was at first challenging because I was initially feeling shy and awkward to approach others but once someone started talking to me it was really interesting to learn about everyone’s lives. Learning about other people’s lives gave me perspective about my own life. There are so many possibilities and everyone is slowly learning about themselves through their careers and experiences. We’re all figuring out what we want most out of our lives, what issues and populations we care most about and what we want to make an impact on. Seeing people I haven’t seen in a decade acted as an unexpected mirror because they made comments about me based on the person they knew back then. It surprised me to know that someone who I hardly talked to in high school remembered that I was creative and my art and thought I should always keep up with that. For a moment I thought “I was?” as if I forgot that I made a lot of art in high school and then second thought, “How do you know?”, baffled by her ancient observations. People also were pleasantly unsurprised that I work with people with disabilities. They said how it suits me, I was always a caring person. It felt great to hear these affirmations from people who I didn’t realize knew me from afar or in passing.

Cooking Class

Cooking Class

I know I say this every month but it’s so hard to grow and maintain seven different dreams and parts of yourself. Friends will ask how’s my drawing or sign language doing and be so surprised that I haven’t kept up with it.

I know what I want but what do I need?

I know I want to write children’s books and comic books, I know I think it would be cool to lead a Zumba class for my clients at work, but what do I need to do? I need sleep and exercise, food and a clean space, and an engaging and meaningful job that satisfies my financial, intellectual, and emotional needs. I also need to be outside and social as well as have leisurely relaxing time when I’m tired.

So next month I’m hoping to focus and track weekly my needs and personal goals.

A Fruitful Encounter


Monthly Memories: April – Attempting to Priortitize

In the month of April I realized how I want to organize and possibly simplify my life. I have been staying up too late, getting 6 hours of sleep on average, feeling exhausted and not exercising enough. Sometimes, even though they are my own self created goals, I feel too overwhelmed or tired to do them or feel guilty when I don’t keep up with them. To give you an idea, here are all the things I try to self-impose:

  1. Work journal
  2. Doodle journal
  3. Color journal
  4. 7-minute workout
  5. Weights
  6. Run
  7. Monkey stretch
  8. Structured rest
  9. Moment diary
  10. MyFitnessPal
  11. Eve/Clue
  12. Portuguese
  13. ASL
  14. Read book
  15. Read CEU
  16. Read OT magazine
  17. Coursera comic course
  18. Record expenses
  19. Practice samba
  20. Shower
  21. Wash lunch containers
  22. Bed at 10:30pm

On average I probably do 5-10 of those things a day, which is pretty good considering the days when my phone turns into a lamp and sucks me in like a genie or a bug.

By the time April was coming to a close, a new era of priorities had rose to the surface. In the coming months I hope to focus on:

  • Going to bed at 10:30pm
  • Exercising for 30 minutes a day (specifically dance because that’s my favorite form of exercise)
  • Learning about pediatric OT
  • Reading comics
  • Practicing drawing from life
  • Turning off my phone when I get home
  • Getting in touch with my spirituality through non-screened activities

This means I will need to step away and let go of some other things for a little bit perhaps like ASL and improv. I’m going to keep writing poems and doing many of the things I usually do but I’ll have a basic foundation to provide a way to simplify my options and guide me toward being more specialized.


I was pretty consistent with my doodle journal this month. I started getting more flexible in terms of what I drew. Sometimes I drew things I didn’t necessarily observe but were more like exercises where I practice interpreting an emotion through various expressions. It was inspired by my indecision of what expression would best portray the emotion of the person I was trying to draw. It also has been challenging trying to find the extra time to color these doodles in so many of these doodles are still left in black and white. That’s why I made it a separate task in my daily to-do list.
I also joined the making comics Coursera course. We’ll see how that goes. Often I sign up for Coursera courses but then come back to it to realize I’ve missed half of it. Either way it doesn’t hurt to join!


Toward the end of this month I started using a to-do list app called and a fitness app called MyFitnessPal. They both have been motivating me to accomplish my goals to get down to the basics and to prioritize my health. Marking things off and seeing my numbers rise when I exercise or walk makes the things I need to do for myself a rewarding game. I already feel the difference in my energy, muscle tone and sleep quality. I learned that I probably feel best when I eat two 500 calorie meals, one 600-800 calorie meal, and then burn off 400-600 calories doing at least one of the following; Zumba for 60 minutes, running for 30 minutes, hooping for 60 minutes, and doing the 7-minute work out (which is actually 9 minutes for me).


In the beginning of April, I made three attempts to go to deaf events to practice my ASL but two of them didn’t work out either because I thought it was held on the wrong day or because it was a no show. The one I was able to make was a open mic night at Haus Coffee. I was definitely lost and had trouble following everyone. It didn’t help that I was exhausted from the bad sleep habits that I was mentioning earlier. I have learned recently that when I go to bed late all week Friday nights are my prime time for napping. Even though I was tired and having difficulty following it’s always good to be exposed to the language.

In the last day of April I performed a hula hoop dance at my Samba troupe’s fundraiser for the first time ever! I at first was stressed out about it because I didn’t have a choreography prepared and would be relying on improvising. I also was having difficulty deciding on a song. Finally once I chose a song I had technical difficulties with my iPod. After all this concern and worry about trying to prepare a song and some moves, at the party I decided to hoop to the live drummers who were there. The music was right and any song ideas I had would clash and not be as festive or in key with the theme. However, at the last minute I had my doubts about everyone watching me. I don’t like the feeling of a crowd waiting and expecting to be impressed. I was thinking maybe I could just sneak in and hoop dance along with the other people dancing. But nope! My friend who was hosting the party announced my name and I was hooping on a small platform doing my best to avoid the hot tub, beer bottles and planters. I thought I would have more space since the house owner said it was fine to stand on the closed tub, but the audience warned me not to so instead I sent beer bottles flying with the indefinable rhythmic drumming, not knowing when I should end my cyclone. But I did my best to observe the audience and feel when they were ready for something else and smoothly transition into a final bow. Overall, it was exciting and fun. The audience seemed to enjoy it.
Other adventures are I bought something from Craigslist for the first time (an iPod shuffle from a really friendly lady who hugged me with gratitude for taking it off her hands), had a hilariously bad restaurant experience with my mom at an Italian restaurant in Davis, swam two miles at my mom’s gym, helped a girl who knocked on my door find a dog owner for a dog she found, saw a dad in the park dance around and play the harmonica for his daughter as she swung on a swing, walked two hours from the Sunset to the Mission, and revisited my favorite childhood park (Mountain Lake Park) to briefly celebrate my friend’s daughter’s 2nd birthday.


Many of my friend’s had birthdays in April, including my dad. I reconnected with friends from high school and college and visited my mom. I met my blogging friend for the first time offline and walked around Alamo Square and introduced her to bubble tea as she introduced me to the MyFitnessPal app. At my friend’s birthday party I met someone who lives near me and went to Barney’s Gourmet Hamburgers with him. I spent some one-on-one time with a friend from work for the first time exploring a crystal store, a comic store, a local clothing store, a taxidermy store, and a toy store in the Mission.


One of these friends had a birthday party where she did a white elephant book exchange game that was a lot of fun. I was able to clear out a lot of space by giving away a lot of books. At the party we watched a video montage of all her friends and family talking about how much they love her and why. It was really touching. I met some cool people there who I later met up with. We met the national beard champion and talked about volunteering to help adults with disabilities go white water rafting, doing improv in the forest, being a sign language interpreter in a drama class, and Camp Grounded. Earlier that day I was trying to figure out a vacation and after hearing people’s experiences it convinced me that Camp Grounded would be easiest, cheapest and most fun trip! So I’m going in May!


This month I read and took notes on Music Groups For Adults With Developmental Disabilities and So Good They Can’t Ignore You. They were useful and practical books that act as good resources. The latter one taught me a lot and resolved a lot of my confusion about my pursuits. I’ll explain more about this in the education section of this blog.

In terms of shows I started watching Season 2 of The Legend of Korra. I enjoyed the different art style that was introduced in the flashbacks and mythological stories that explained why the world around Korra was the way it was. Season 2 was highly spiritual and other worldly. It seemed to really complement the first season where connecting with her spiritual side and learning to airbend was one of Korra’s biggest struggles. Once Korra was able to learn the lesson of what really makes the avatar magical and powerful she was able to use her latent and hidden abilities in the second season to self-actualize into the avatar she was meant to be.


Restaurants I went to were Boba Guys, Curry Up Now, Mateo’s, Street Juice, Devil’s Teeth, and this Brazilian store on Valencia. Many of these places have fun and hip atmospheres and very creative ways of interpreting classic foods. For example Curry Up Now has Indian burritos which are really good. After going to the Brazilian store I was drinking a couple of ounces of Active every morning which was a good experience. It’s a strong fruit drink that has medicinal qualities because of the dense amount of vitamins it contains. It woke me up.
In cooking class, we made ratatouille, chicken fried rice, and fudge brownies!


At work my client and I learned about registering a pet as a service animal, celebrated her cat’s half birthday, and managed a new and rewarding schedule that balances her desire for screen time but motivates her to do chores along with things that benefit her body and spirit. With the groups we explored Chinatown, Embarcadero, the Hyatt, and Dolores Park. We worked on how to read the face of a non-digital clock and knowing what time it is. We also played ASL bingo to increase our knowledge of ASL numbers and letters.

Another new thing worth mentioning is that when I walk to my client’s house and when I walk back to the bus stop a cat often follows me! I find it so endearing how he gives me company. He’s my new friend!

The writer of So Good They Can’t Ignore You said that the main thing about having a great career that you love and being good at it is to let go of the speculation of what your true calling is and to jump and plug away at whatever you are already doing. However, you need to feel that what you are currently doing can connect you to people you like, make you feel you are doing something positive and useful for the world, and provide you with opportunities to develop valuable and unique skills.

It was really good to reinforce the idea of sticking to what you are doing and not getting derailed because I know that shiny new pursuits often attract and distract me. This made me wonder which interests I have given most of my time to and have had the most formal training in. Unsurprisingly and surprisingly it was occupational therapy, writing and guitar. Second to that was adults with developmental disabilities, kids, and psychology along with the informal experience of dance, photography, drawing, and hula hooping. The book inspired me to get so good at OT that I can find connections in the adjacent possible to my other hobbies.

I learned that diving into that dedication is its own reward, as well as the difference between being productivity-centric and craft-centric. One is the busy work to get things done and the other is the mental strain of learning, researching, exploring, experimenting and testing. I have spent way too much time being busy trying to grow but feeling like a hamster in a hamster wheel and never getting anywhere. Furthering my growth through learning means not focusing on getting things done but getting new things known and understood. This was seemingly obvious but very clarifying.

April was a month of encounters, doodles and cats! My samba and ASL adventures are coming to a close and I’m letting go of new endeavors I was daydreaming about last month, like the online journal store, until a time where I will give them more deserving attention. I hope to be like Korra and get in touch with what’s already fundamental to me. I look forward to being disciplined and focused in developing my strengths in such a way that I find myself in my element and actualizing my full potential and watching my exploration unfold.

Returning What Was Lost

It was after work several weeks ago where a simple event warmed my heart with sentimental happy feelings. I was going on BART to go to a friend’s house when I saw a phone on the first row of seats. Right away I thought of my experiences with my clients losing things on public transit and the feelings of worry and responsibility in attempting to retrieve them. I’ve been on the other end and it is not fun.

There were some teenage girls chatting in the seats behind the one with the cellphone who saw me. I was on the phone at the time asking out loud what I should do and one of them told me to go check it into the lost and found.

I got off on the very next stop.

When I walked out of the BART train and was at the next station, I tried seeing if I could get a hold of anyone associated with the phone but the screen was locked. As I walked up the stairs, however, I noticed the words “Mommy” was on the screen. Mommy was calling! I answered the phone.

“Hi! I found the phone! You can pick it up at the BART station I’m at,” I said, maybe a little too enthusiastically.

The woman on the other end seemed surprised, confused, relieved, cautious. I walked up to the ticket booth where a man was sitting. He was over hearing me talk to the woman on the phone and told me that he needs to write down her name and that she will need to bring her ID when they come pick up the phone. The woman sounded very relieved saying that her daughter is only thirteen and was so upset about losing it. The man wrote her name down and was very indifferent about the situation. I told her the station and she said they will be there soon. We hung up and I gave the man in the ticket booth the phone. I couldn’t keep track how many times the woman said thank you and “you are an angel!”

Downstairs at the platform, I was waiting for the next outbound train. But then a thought occurred to me.


Soon the next outbound BART train arrived but I didn’t get on. I watched the people get off the train and go up the multiple stairwells to street level. I went up the stairs too and watched two curly long haired women, one taller, one shorter, walk up to the ticket booth.

It was them!


They stood there seemingly with crossed fingers, waiting for the man at the ticket booth to okay the ID card and to hopefully give them the phone. When he did I could see the weight from their shoulders lift. The daughter was holding her phone, looking at it reverently, as her mom put an arm around her daughter’s shoulders, an affectionate gratitude teased with forewarning.

They walked to the stairwell where I was standing and I went down with them. The next outbound BART train pulled up to the platform. I got on, they got on.

They sat right next to me. I wondered if I should say anything. The mom was going through the safety protocols to follow after losing a phone with her daughter. Maybe they would be happy to meet the person who found the phone, the “angel” as the mom had said. Or maybe that would ruin the story.

One stop later I get off the BART train and see them zoom pass me. I smiled as I walked to my friend’s house.




Haven’t drawn for a very long time. I recently watched Frozen again and not that it’s my favorite Disney movie, but seeing the reactions of all the kids watching it and feeling the love that they had for the all characters made me realize the beautiful power that animation can have. How would it be like to know that you made the best friend or hero for thousands of children and inspired magic in so many lives? Hearing them laugh or cry with your characters or talk about your characters way after the movie is done. 

That seems incredible.

Also, imagine the process of bringing to life this personality. What would it be like to have a vision of who a character is and knowing how the shape of the nose can make all the difference? Imagine collaborating with other people to express this character through the character’s setting, lighting, music, all knowing that these little details impact this little character and how the audience is going to emotionally respond when watching the character in action.

That seems pretty cool. A lot of talent, a lot of passion, a lot of hardwork, and a lot of rewarding friendships in the making.

So I started drawing again, inspired by these feelings and ideas about animation. 

And here’s a little doodle I did last night!


It all started with the shoes…I really want her shoes. Look how confident she looks! Not to mention her dress, which makes her look pretty powerful in an 80’s superhero slightly scifi cheerleader way. She also seems ethnically ambiguous which was a great surprise to realize afterward.

Well thanks for reading! I would love to see what drawings capture the heart of why you love drawing or animation! Maybe it will inspire me to draw more!

Element School


They sit there unaware
In the chaos of their wooden chairs
Playing with words and colors
And the thoughts of the world
Leaning on each other
Assembling how it all works
Questioning moonbeams
Bonding over daydreams
And stories untold

She flickers, a shape shifter
Always making and destroying
Silent decisive action
Glowing and spinning
A moving abstraction
A burning attraction

He flows, a morphing wave
With weight and power
Depth and strength
The white noise grows louder
With every length
A tower devouring everything

She flies, a freeing speed
Wise and stealthy
Her eyes full of clarity
Not afraid of possibility
Invincible, invisible
She rises with every dive

He creates, a nurturing hand
Mending what’s broken
Giving life another chance
A shoulder, careful and tender
For every creature and friend
A defender of the land

They seek each other
Alone in their pursuit
For purpose and wonder
Gliding by, passing through
Stretching to reach the blue
Morphing to touch the roots
To connect like they used to
When they were youngsters
In element school

Willow Pulse


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