An interesting observation from the movie “Crazy Rich Asians”

CRA_FPTB_0164r.0.jpgI saw the movie “Crazy Rich Asians” the other day. Bravo! It was so powerful to see an all-asian cast for the first time on the big screen. I applaud the movie– so fun, poignant and engaging! Plus, the soundtrack was just plain awesome.

At one point near the end of the movie, Eleanor Young, the mother and matriarch of the family, says something that struck me. She is from Singapore, and she is speaking to her son’s girlfriend Rachel, a Chinese woman who was born and raised in America. She says, “All Americans think about is their own happiness. It is an illusion.”

This moment demonstrates the huge difference between the two women’s cultures. Eleanor believes one must put family above all else– career, romance, etc. Happiness is not the top priority on that list. She does not believe the young Rachel will ever be able to make those sacrifices because she was born and raised in a culture that preaches happiness above all else.

What do you think? I am reminded of this quote by Hugh MacKay:

I actually attack the concept of happiness. The idea that—I don’t mind people being happy—but the idea that everything we do is part of the pursuit of happiness seems to me a really dangerous idea and has led to a contemporary disease in Western society, which is fear of sadness. It’s a really odd thing that we’re now seeing people saying “write down three things that made you happy today before you go to sleep” and “cheer up” and “happiness is our birthright” and so on. We’re kind of teaching our kids that happiness is the default position. It’s rubbish. Wholeness is what we ought to be striving for and part of that is sadness, disappointment, frustration, failure; all of those things which make us who we are. Happiness and victory and fulfillment are nice little things that also happen to us, but they don’t teach us much. Everyone says we grow through pain and then as soon as they experience pain they say, “Quick! Move on! Cheer up!” I’d like just for a year to have a moratorium on the word “happiness” and to replace it with the word “wholeness.” Ask yourself, “Is this contributing to my wholeness?” and if you’re having a bad day, it is.
—Hugh MacKay, author of The Good Life

I don’t know about you, but my darkest days taught me more than all my happiest days combines. And while I am tempted to say I am happy right now in life, perhaps I should really say I am feeling whole right now.

I’m curious, what is your take on this topic?

P.s. Photo from here

 

A 2017 Photo Review

IMG_1691Hi friends! Sorry for the radio silence. It’s been a full few weeks. I’m on break right now, soaking up the extra sleep and eating my weight in Holiday sweets. Below is a photo review of the many things 2017 brought my way. Enjoy!Jan 2.jpegIn January, I started the year off by participating in the LA Women’s March with two other friends. We joined over 500,000 people that day. It felt good to do something.Feb 2.jpegFebruary was spent with this little munchkin as my Valentine. She is beyond words adorable and I miss her so much!Mar 2.jpegMarch brought a Spring Break trip to Texas with Jessica to visit my parents. It was so fun to explore a new place with my girl by my side!april 2.jpegApril was a big one. I found out I got the Fulbright to Germany (hello employment) and graduated college!may 2.jpegMay was a chill month of work in Malibu. My parents and I went to Disneyland one day to celebrate my graduation– happiest place on Earth, after all.jun 2.jpgJune was no small undertaking, what with my brother’s beautiful wedding and moving myself across the country to Texas. Oh, and my 22 birthday!july 2.jpegJuly saw a girls trip to San Francisco and a few days spent in El Segundo with old friends.aug 2.jpegAugust was family time. I hung out with the cousins in Iowa on the farm 🙂 They are so funny!sept.jpgIn September I found myself back in Germany! My Fulbright started and I hit the ground running at full speed.oct.jpegIn October I took a much needed vacation to Salzburg, Austria with two friends, as well as London to visit a Uni class mate. The scenery was breath taking and the company was even better!nov.jpgI saw my lovely parents in November and boy was it great! I had fun showing them around my stomping grounds.dec.jpgDecember brought Christmas and my stunning friends Mele and Annie. I feel grateful to have friends who will come all this way to see me!

Here’s to a crazy, whirlwind year! I learned to much, sometimes the hard way, but I’m looking forward to 2018. I will turn 23, probably start a new job or school and possibly move. I can’t wait to see what God has in store. Happy New Years, friends!

Why You Need to See “Zootopia”

Zootopia-Selfie-Wallpaper.jpegWhen the new Disney animated movie Zootopia first came out, I shrugged it off as another mindless kids movie I had no desire to spend money on. Besides, I was still recovering from the “Frozen” craze that swept the nation. But when my eighteen year old brother came home saying it was one of the best movies he’d seen in ages and that it empowered him to achieve his dreams, I decided I needed to give it a chance. It isn’t every day you hear a teenage boy talk about anything with enthusiasm, let alone an animated movie!

Zootopia is set in a world where animals have transcended their predator-prey dichotomy and now live together in relative harmony. Judy Hopps is an intrepid rabbit with dreams of becoming a cop, a profession no bunny has ever entered because of their small size and prey-status. She longs to trade in her small town farm life for that of the big city. After much struggle and hard work, Judy proves the nay-sayers wrong and graduates from the police academy at the top of her class. She soon starts work on the force in the sprawling metropolis of Zootopia, but experiences still more prejudice when she is assigned to parking-ticket duty instead of a real case.

While writing tickets, Judy meets the sly fox Nick, a notorious hustler and world-weary cynic. She coerces him into helping her crack the case of the fourteen missing mammals, despite her boss’s protests. Together with his street smarts and her detective skills, they are led on a wild goose chase to discover the truth and wind up becoming unlikely friends in the process.

Though this plot line sounds simple enough, it is actually chalk full of deeper meaning from beginning to end. By now, we’ve seen so many animal movies that we are familiar with each animal’s ‘stereotype’– the slow sloth, the fierce lion, the dumb sheep. Makers of “Zootopia” wanted to both play into these stereotypes and break them at the same time. According to film director Rich Moore in a recent LA Times review, “So maybe in the world of Zootopia it should be that sometimes they are cliche, sometimes they aren’t. That gives us that gray that better reflects our world. It makes Judy’s struggle and journey more authentic. Are we just who we’re born to be or do we have control over our destiny?” The message is clear: although you may be born a certain way or viewed by the world in a certain light, you can overcome anything to achieve your dreams.

When Judy and Nick eventually discover the missing mammals, they find that they’ve all ‘gone savage.’ They have seemingly returned to their predatory nature and are now unsafe to be around. Judy jumps to false conclusions, announcing that they were simply reverting to their biological instincts. In reality, the politicians injected them with a savage serum in order to spread fear among the public and maintain their political power.

At a time when society is grappling with huge issues like discrimination, racism, sexism, and pervasive mistrust (to name a few) this movie spoke directly to my heart. It was a reminder that no one deserves to be judged prematurely and that kindness is always a better alternative to fear or hatred. Everyone needs to see Zootopia, regardless of their age. Not only will you enjoy it, what with its colorful sets and incredibly relevant humor, but you will leave thinking about the big, important questions it raises. Plus, who doesn’t find bunnies adorable this time of year?!

On the Meaning of the Word ‘Genius’

IMG_8837.JPG    In Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear she describes her creative process and shares her perspective on the nature of inspiration. The whole book has been captivating thus far, but one part stood out to me in particular. Gilbert writes about the original definition of the word genius, and the way we use it differently today. She says:

“The Greeks and the Romans both believed in the idea of an external daemon of creativity- a sort of house elf, if you will, who lived within the walls of your home and sometimes aided you in your labors. The Romans had a specific term for that helpful house elf. They called it your genius- your guardian deity, the conduit of your inspiration. Which is to say, that the Romans didn’t believe an exceptionally gifted person was a genius; they believed that an exceptionally gifted person had a genius.”

There is a subtle but meaningful difference between being versus having. Psychologically speaking, it makes all the difference. If you have an external genius, you are not totally responsible for your work. If it is a success, you are obliged to thank your genius for showing up to help, keeping your ego in check and protecting you from falling into the trap of narcissism. And if you your work is a failure, it’s not completely your fault. You can blame your genius for not showing up to work that day. You can say, “Hey, it’s not my fault my genius keeps irregular hours!” Either way, the fragile human psyche is protected– protected from the perversive influence of praise and the destructive influence of shame.

Why, then, did society start calling people geniuses? Gilbert explains that during the Renaissance, a more human-centered, rational view of life emerged, stripping the world of all unexplainable, intangible phenomena.  Artists were then venerated as geniuses themselves, elevated to a higher class of creators. They had to carefully balance atop their pedestals, and all too often came crashing down under the pressure.  Gilbert lists countless artists who cracked under the pressure of being a genius. One such example is Harper Lee, acclaimed author of the American classic To Kill a Mockingbird. She was so pinned under the heavy boulder of her own reputation that she never published another book during her life time, and only after death was the sequel Go Set A Watchman published. Just think of the many stories she could have gifted the world with if she hadn’t taken her genius so seriously.

Gilbert happens to have personal experience with this issue, her book Eat Pray Love having graced the New York Times Bestseller list for more than three years. She said people would ask her how she continued to write, as if her success was a curse, not a blessing. But she never stopped writing, because writing for her was about the love of creating, not the outcome. She believes her work is a gift from her genius to herself, and if others happen to enjoy it as well, great! If not, also great! Because in the end, it’s not up to her.

What do you think? Can we learn from Gilbert’s words? Please share your thoughts in the comments below! As an aspiring writer myself, I can glean a lot from her work as I prepare to enter the professional world. Have a great day friends!

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My Recent Reads

I’ve always been a voracious reader. In fact, my love of reading is what eventually lead to my love of writing. I enjoy all types of literature- fiction, non-fiction, fantasy, you name it! If reading was a sport, I’d win every time. Since my major requires me to take several english classes, I often have to read extensively for school work, but I also make a conscious effort to read for pleasure, no matter how busy life gets! Recently, I’ve read three books I thoroughly enjoyed, and I thought I’d share them with you today. 20910157.jpg
Yes Please by Amy Poehler
Amy Poehler has been one of my idols ever since I started watching the TV series Parks and Recreation. In her hilarious and whip-smart memoir, she recounts her childhood in Massachusetts, her love affair with comedy, and her career in the public eye. I loved reading about her long time friendship with fellow improv comedian and actress Tina Fey, as well as her thoughts on working for SNL and the screenwriting profession as a whole. Amy emphasizes the themes of female empowerment, not comparing yourself to others, and putting in the hard work to get where you want to go. This book is a must read- plus it includes pictures!

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Bossypants by Tina Fey
Tina Fey also recently released her memoir Bossypants. In this funny and insightful account of her life and career thus far, she shares about her experiences in the male dominated world of comedy and screenwriting, her thoughts on current culture, and her struggles as a new mother. Fey’s fast paced style and masterful story telling skills make for a quick and enjoyable read. This book also include photos- always a bonus!
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The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
I literally could not put this book down. It was glued to my hand. I’m pretty sure I read this 400+ page book in less than a week. It is the story of princess Kelsea’s rise to the thrown amidst the chaos of the dystopian world called The Tearling. It is set in the future, but The Tearling is technologically undeveloped, so it seems more like the primitive middle ages. The character development in this book is extremely well done- Kelsea is both likable and deeply flawed. It leaves the reader on a major cliff hanger, so be prepared to run out and buy the sequel!

And there you have it friends, a few of my recent reads! Will you read them too? What are you reading purely for fun these days? I’d love to know, I need recommendations.

Happy Weekend!

IMG_8169.JPGHappy Friday friends! How was your week? Mine was full of surprises. At 6:30am on Wednesday morning, I was ‘kidnapped’ by my sorority, driven to the beach, and encouraged to jump in the water with the rest of my new sisters! Luckily, it wasn’t too cold, and actually provided a refreshing start to my day. I got more done before 8am than I usually do in 24 hours! Another nice surprise came when I got an A on my test (not to brag or anything, but my essay on Mesopotamia was pretty dang good..haha!). I’m spending this weekend at home to celebrate my dad’s 5?th birthday and to see my cousin and uncle’s baptisms on Sunday.
What are you up to this weekend? Is the weather nice and fall-ish where you live? It is in the 90’s here and it’s making me mad! Where are you Fall? Hurry on up.

See you back here soon friends.