Posts Tagged ‘passion’

In search

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , ,

I’ve been watching a bunch of YouTube videos for the past couple of weeks (yeah, I’m only like 10 years late to the game). While much of what I’ve seen is inspirational and/or thought-provoking, it’s actually made me rather sad. So many people talk about doing what you love, being passionate… and they seem to have it figured out. They’ve been driven to do the things they do from something deep inside. They know what they just can’t live without. They know their passion and they embrace it.

Meanwhile, I have struggled. There are plenty of things I am passionate about: business culture, sustainability, animals, technology. I’ve considered career paths in each, but I struggle with seeing myself completely devoting my life to any one of those. So perhaps I’m not approaching it correctly; perhaps I should be considering how I can balance the many passions I have. That’s not easy though, since if you want to excel at something, you really need to dedicate a lot of time and energy to it. And then I get caught up in the little details, like how I want to avoid working in an office because I love being outside or how I want a somewhat predictable yet flexible schedule so I have more control over when I work. Am I asking for too much?

I guess I’ve been stumped all this time because there might not be something out there that is consistently outdoors at least 20-40% of the time, doesn’t generally require early mornings (or any mornings), allows for and might even require periodic travel, and is pretty stable. The criteria for a job that would be ideal might not be attainable. Then again, I’m probably focusing on the wrong things. After all, when you’re passionate about something, all those other details seem to fall away.

So there it is again, that idea that you need to figure out the passion of your life and do it. If only it were so easy for me to decide what that passion would be. Others make it seem effortless. It’s the thing that they’ve loved since childhood. They don’t even need to think about it. They just start talking about it and their eyes light up, they smile broadly, and they could go on for ages. When I think about what my passion might be, the ones I’ve thought of never hit me like a lightning bolt of inspiration. I haven’t thought, “I must do that. My soul needs that.” That’s sort of the moment of enlightenment I’ve been hoping for.

One of the videos I watched today mentioned the things that come naturally. Everyone has talents where things appear effortless. Mine include being cheerful, sharing, noticing details, and (over)thinking. If you count those as talents. They are certainly the traits I have that come naturally, without a conscious effort. I wish I had a more concrete talent like being artistic or being athletic. Those are easily translated into some type of work that you can pursue. But how does something like ‘being cheerful’ tie in to work? I can apply my skills to any job I have, but are any of them something I can do in and of themselves? Not really.

I envy the people in the world who just know what they want. They may not have had an easy time pursuing their deepest heart’s desire, but they had a goal and direction. I feel like I’m in the center of a glob, with too many spokes leading me outward toward the edge. Which one do I choose to go with?


Have you had this sort of challenge as well? What do you think would help?

Kitty cleaning

laelene Posted in photo blog,Tags: , , , , ,

cat peering out window

feeding a cat

anti-social feral cats huddled together
Beautiful eyes, but oh so unused to human contact.
cat sitting on cage

cat eating food

Don’t look so expectant!

sick kitten wearing a special collar
Had to protect him from hurting himself and popping out his rectum again.

frisky kitten about to jump from a pole

kitten climbing scratching pole

lazy cat sitting quietly
Not much of a mover.

cat playing with colorful string

The entrepreneurial bug

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , ,

I’ve been speaking to a lot of entrepreneurs lately and it’s really exciting to hear all the fun, interesting, and innovative ideas they have! Most are still in early development, so I can’t share what they are, but I would like to say that there’s a certain theme running through it all – a need to make things better. Everyone’s focus is in their own area of expertise and passion, which makes for a lot of promising businesses to come! I think the great thing about startups is the drive that people have. You can’t survive without a deep level of commitment to the purpose of the company/organization, unlike in large and established corporations, where you can get away with a lack of interest in what the mission actually is.

For me, it’s motivating to see all the hard workers out there making their dreams come true.  I’ve got a lot that I’d like to make a reality within the next decade and I’m going to start on at least one of them by the time I’m 30.  That’s a promise to myself, and something to make myself accountable for.  One piece of advice I got was to set real, concrete deadlines and that’s exactly what I’m working on.  Too often I like to leave a way out by saying, “sometime around” or “in the next 5-10 years,” giving myself enough leeway to perhaps not quite make it happen.  So I’m going to change my mentality and decide that I am and I will.  No more of that I hope and I want business.  It’s going to be how I choose to make it to be.

At times I was doubtful that I had an entrepreneurial enough spirit to be an entrepreneur, but now that I see those out there, I’ve got no doubt in my mind that I have the passion, drive, creativity, and intelligence to do so.  The important thing is setting my mind to it and then going full force.  That’s not a problem for me – I decided I wanted to start my own business when I was in middle school and that desire has yet to change.  I’ve definitely gotten bitten by the entrepreneurial, if there is such a thing, and I’m excited to develop my plans over the years as I ready myself professionally and personally to handle the tasks I’ll need to for my aspirations to become real.

It’s been consuming my thoughts!


laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , ,

So many of the things I want to do require me to be an expert in my field first.  But see, the problem is, I’m not an expert in any field!  Unfortunately, what I’m interested in (mostly administrative stuff and management) require little education.  Instead, they require a certain way of thinking and behaving that nearly any intelligent person can be trained for and/or develop over the course of years of experience.  I can’t say that I’m a scientist or engineer who later wants to go the management track.  At least that way my skill sets are more tangible initially and the degree I earn, a bit more meaningful.  Instead, I learned two useful majors that will be good for me in the business area, but I don’t want to pursue either of them the way they’re meant to be.

What I’m good at doesn’t really need technical skills that can only be learned from tertiary education and lots of people can pick it up or be trained for it.  I also have broad enough interests and experience that there’s no “one thing” that I’ve concentrated on.  That means that it’s much more difficult to focus one on aspect of what I enjoy and work to make myself an expert in that field.  It also means I lose out on a lot of job opportunities to people who have had 3-5 years work experience already.  I guess it’s a testament to how people are willing to work entry-level jobs for longer now because there’s nowhere up for them to go.  The rest of my skills aren’t deep enough to make a career out of – like my passion for technology.  I am a self-taught programmer, which means I can get by with HTML and some CSS.  PHP still confuses me and forget about the rest.  I know enough to be tech-savvy, but not enough to work for a highly technical company like many of the start-ups these days!

The good thing is that one of my interests is social media and there’s not yet a degree centered around that, so any experience is more personal than professional.  My networks in the sites that I’m active on are respectably large and enough for people to see that I have put a lot of time and effort into them.  Additionally, I got a chance to explore those interests while in Singapore as I worked on a social media plan for the company there.  Much of it wasn’t ready to be implemented yet, but at least I had the thought process completed and a plan ready to implement.  I’m now getting some social media managing experience at my current internship, so perhaps that’s the way to go.  The problem with that field is that because there is a lower barrier of entry, competition is high!  So many people want to go into this area because it’s something they can do without a college degree or certification or something.

So here I am with a dilemma… which interests do I focus on and develop into a noticeable strength?  Which ones do I maintain as hobbies and leisurely pastimes instead?  I suppose that will be partially determined by the job I can eventually land!  I got a second wave of enthusiasm after looking at some more opportunities and there are a few jobs I’ll be applying for in the coming weeks that I’m really excited about.  I just hope I can get one of them!  I think things will probably slow down this month as people start to mentally check out for the holidays and stop working so hard in the time leading up to the break.  I’m still hopeful to line up something for early next year though.  Fingers crossed!

Bleeding Blue & Gold

laelene Posted in photo blog,Tags: , , ,

Belonging to an alumnus whose nickname is Frisbee (because he was on the Ultimate team).

Belonging to an alumnus whose nickname is Frisbee (because he was on the Ultimate team).

Our class gift was far from exciting, but I'm still a proud '08er.

Our class gift was far from exciting, but I'm still a proud '08er.

I'm totally getting myself one of these when I own my own car.

I'm totally getting myself one of these when I own my own car.

My future pets

laelene Posted in photo blog,Tags: , , ,

I made my temporary pet clams a little pool to chill in.

I made my temporary pet clams a little pool to chill in.

Close-up of one of them.

Close-up of one of them.

They're everywhere!  So many potential pets!

They're everywhere! So many potential pets!

Ultimately (in professional terms)

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , , ,

In the struggle to find a job to even begin a career with, I’ve had quite a lot of time to think of where I want to go in my professional life.  I’ve known for a long time that I want to start my own company (or maybe even many).  In fact, I’m going to say I will start my own company.  I just haven’t quite settled on what it will be yet, though I’ve been thinking eco-consulting for awhile now.  But I’ve realized that that is not what I want to do ultimately.  It’s a milestone that I will cross at some point, however well or poorly it goes.  But ultimately?  I’d like to be an angel investor, making sure the solutions I see in life are executed.

Of course that means that I will need to somehow become super rich first.  When I told Ninja that what I really want is to be really rich, he was like, “Duh, don’t we all?”  When I went on to explain why, however, he understood that I wasn’t making just a shallow comment.  I want to make a difference in this world and there are so many places I can see myself doing that, if only I had the money!  I would really just love to spend my time thinking of solutions to problems I see and then finding the best people to execute them.  I’d set them up with the resources they need and give them whatever guidance necessary to get them on their way.  From there, I’d hope they’d be able to take over and run a profitable and socially-conscious enterprise.  If I could do this, then I’d start a company like Mary Qin, Inc., to be a holding company for all those little niche companies I could create.

I’d go about getting a sensible public transportation system, sharing riding system, or something set up for the Los Angeles area to ease the traffic and pollution problems.  I’d get an electronic receipt system going so we stop wasting paper on receipts that most people are unlikely to look at and most will just lose anyway.  I’d also get that system linked to our credit cards so that whenever we check our bills, we can see the receipt associated with each charge.  No more hunting through piles of paper!  I could finally get a vocational school for athletes going both here and in the UK, so we could cultivate athletes who are ready for all stages of life.  Then I could set up a research think tank where people can submit ideas for researchers to carry out.  I guess Google’s kind of already doing this, but it would be free for people to send in ideas and no guarantee on if their submission is chosen (whereas Google’s is contracted).  Really I’d love to tackle my “hopelist” and parts of my “ideaslist.”

So here’s to getting a job, being extremely profitable, then setting up a foundation or something to implement the solutions I so dearly want to see.

A drop in the ocean

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , , , , ,

It frustrates me when people don’t do anything because they think it won’t matter.

“Oh, it’s just a drop of water in the ocean, a grain of sand on the beach, a star in the night sky.  Without that drop, the ocean is still as expansive; without that grain, the beach is still as solid; without that star, the night sky is still as bright.  You’ll never miss it.”

Everything has an origin point.  Don't underestimate just one little thing.  photo credit:

Everything has an origin point. Don't underestimate just one little thing. photo credit:

But you know what?  It does matter!  That one drop creates ripples, affecting its neighbors that then affect their neighbors until a wave builds up.  Besides, actions reflect a mentality, so not making one small change here can lead to not making another small change there.  If you work incrementally, the next thing you know, you’ve made a huge change.  It takes time and patience to see results that are truly worthy of gaining, as well as persistence.

Every time you leave the water running, don’t turn off the lights, don’t donate your time or money, and otherwise deem things too much effort and not enough tangible reward, you are increasing the vicious cycle of inaction and indifference.  Aggregated, each little action adds up to become a trend, a movement.  And thus, nobody should ever give up from the get-go, thinking, “Well it won’t really matter that much overall.”  It can and it will, if you stick to it, then start to affect the people in your life too.  Eventually, you’ll have something on a scale you never imagined, because the power of compounding has taken effect and created something much larger than just you.

And so, I’m going to start increasing the number of registered bone marrow donors (particularly ones of Asian descent), one person at a time until we get a massive database.  It’s pathetic that there’s only 7% of Asian Americans on the US who are currently available to donate when there are thousands of people in need.  I’ve already gotten some friends to enter themselves into the registry and slowly started to educate them not only on the need, but the misconception that it is a painful procedure to extract the marrow.  What are you waiting for?  Go register yourself now!  And also go learn more about one young lady who is fighting the battle against leukemia right now.

I’m also taking environmentalism one step at a time, constantly weeding out the things and habits in my life that are unsustainable, replacing them with more globally-friendly alternatives.

Be the impetus for change.  Start something.  Then keep working hard as the effects ripple further and faster.  This goes for anything you care about, from our deteriorating environment to our broken education system to poverty to deadly diseases.  Everything has got to start somewhere!

Oceanic wonders

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Right before I left Hong Kong, I went on a tour that took us searching for pink dolphins somewhere north of Lantau Island.  Nobody is really sure why they’re pink, but they are undoubtedly so.  When I first heard of them, I thought they’d be a mild pink or something like that, where the scientists who study them exclaim, “Look at how pink they are!” and the rest of us stare and wonder what in the world they’re talking about.  Then, with just the right combination of sunlight and squinting, our eyes would play the right trick on us as the water made odd reflections and then – there!  We’d see it.

DSC06832That’s what I thought, anyway.  Then I saw pictures and it was undeniable; these things are PINK.  Like little girl playing hopscotch and blowing Bubble Yum gum pink.  Like pink rose pink.  Like how flamingos are neon pink, they are baby pink.  Nothing like the “pink” tint of human skin or other such wannabes.  So, I was really excited to go out to see some of these creatures for myself.  I almost couldn’t get on a tour, but we managed to book me for a tour before I was due to leave (though I had to delay my intended departure time by a few hours).

photo credit:

photo credit:

On the bus ride to the boat, one of our tour guides explained the sad state of affairs the dolphins and their natural habitat were in.  They’re hoping to spread the word and make pink dolphins a national treasure, so the dwindling number of 150 or so can continue on strong.  The future is not looking great for them, so they’re trying to raise awareness of the issue to be able to garner enough support to protect them.  After all, where else do you get pink dolphins?  As to why they’re pink, the main theory is that they live in murky waters and need less protection from UV rays.  Babies are still born grey, then they go through a “spotty” period where they start to shed that for the pink until they finally become fully pink and indoctrinated into adulthood.

As we were told about the shoddy tagging and tracking efforts and about the whale that came to the Hong Kong Harbor awhile back, I thought that maybe I should have been a marine biologist.  I would love to explore the things in the ocean and tag these pink wonders to track their population.  I love being out on the ocean or near any body of water and I wouldn’t mind living on an island or in the mountains.  However, I think that profession comes with the same type of down side that deterred me away from becoming a veterinarian – animal die frequently and in this case, much of it is because of human activity.  So just as I couldn’t bear the thought of putting down someone’s pet, I don’t know if I’d be able to not get depressed at the conditions that some animals are living in now, or what their future holds.  Oh well, I’ll just love them from afar and help out through volunteering and donations.

photo credit:

photo credit:

The passion with which the tour guide spoke of the dolphins made me want to be a tour guide too.  I would love to spend my days introducing travelers to that which I care about, whether it’s points of interest in a city, a unique experience, or a special animal.  It’s also why I’d like to run a hostel – to welcome all the strangers who have come to my city to see what there is to offer.  I think it’d be amazing to share what I love best with the myriad of tourists.  I’d hope I’d be able to inspire them to enjoy it as much as I do too.  I wonder if that type of job pays well.  😛

We arrived at the boat and were told that we could spot the dolphins’ fins bobbing in and out when they came up to breathe and that was how we’d find them.  With a quick warning that some rubbish may look like it at first, so look for clear movement, we were off to search for them.  For about three hours we were on the boat, enjoying the breeze and sun as they came and went, our eyes scanning the horizon, trying to pick out a fin emerging.  All I saw was an expanse of white speckles that would come and go as mini waves would break in the choppy waters.  I was so desperate to see one that I even thought I saw glimpses of pink that turned out to be a red warning flag, a shadow in the water, and other random things.  My mind was happily playing tricks on me at every opportunity.

DSC06638When we were first heading out, we were right around the area where the planes were coming in for landing at the airport.  Distracted, I took pictures and videos of them as they roared overhead and came down for a smooth landing.  By the time one plane landed, another was appearing from the clouds, making its descent.  One by one the planes took turns coming in, like clockwork, as others left going in the other direction.  I marveled at how many people and how much cargo I had just seen arriving in Hong Kong.  It was the first time I’d ever spent some time watching the operations of an airport and it was pretty cool.

DSC06656At one point when we were further out, I was sitting in front, staring down at the water when a little fish jumped out and quickly got overrun by the boat.  I continued staring down and soon more came, jumping just ahead of the boat, then falling off to the sides to avoid being hit.  Excited, I started to film and snap away, trying to get a good shot of these little flying fish.  Maybe it was just my imagination, but they looked a lot like mini dolphins.  I spent a long time observing them and noticed that when they are in groups, they all jump at more or less the same time in some sort of coordinated effort.  They also really seemed to like jumping in front of the boat in the rushing water, but once they went off to the side, they seemed to resume swimming more.  I guess they’re looking for the adrenaline rush!


Turns out I did manage one shot!

By and by the boat turned around and did what I dreaded most: headed back to shore.  I sat there thinking to myself, “We better see them now and they better get freakin’ close!”  Dismayed, I tried to enjoy the ride itself and the lull of relaxing on a boat.  Suddenly I heard, “12 o’clock!  12 o’clock!!!”  One of the tour guides had spotted something!  Everyone rushed to the front and looked straight ahead at 12 o’clock and… there!  A single pink dolphin emerged and went back down.  This one came quite close to the boat, but unfortunately I missed a picture of her.  Soon after, another was spotted at 9 o’clock and with her was an adolescent.  I spent the most time with these two, getting some decent footage and cooing happily the whole time.  More single ones were seen at 3 o’clock and back around 12 o’clock, but they were further away and disappeared much more quickly.

DSC06718I so wanted to hop in the water, toxins and all, and go join them.  I wondered if they’d come closer to explore if I had some body parts dangling in the water.  Still, it was so rewarding to finally find them, after so many hours of searching.  I had even begun to entertain the idea of how I could go on another trip (they offer a free retry if you don’t see any on your trip) – perhaps I could get an IOU that wouldn’t expire, so I could use it years down the line, or whenever I return.  Thankfully, I didn’t have to worry about that in the end and we ended the trip on a happy note.

For the sake of it

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
photo credit:

photo credit:

I was born in the Year of the Ox and the month of the Capricorn.  Both are known to be stubborn creatures, which is something that I’ve most definitely inherited, for better or for worse.  Many of the things I chose to do in my life have been out of pure stubbornness – first to be able to say that I did it and second just to be different.  Of course, the more people try to get me to change my behavior, the more determined I get to stick to my principles, morals, and priorities.  I think I like the satisfaction of claiming that I don’t do this or that or that I have done something for this long.  Especially when it’s something most of the population would like to claim as well, I feel all the better about being able to stake my claim.

The three most prominent examples of this are what I will or will not ingest, my frequency of relocations and moves, and my persistence with my journal.  For each, though it may not always make sense for me to stick to my guns so strictly, I do so to preserve the idea that it’s always been that way.  I don’t like to compromise in any of these areas and it’s quite rare for me to do so, though I’ve been working on that lately, since some of what I do is truly unfounded or limiting.  At the same time, certain aspects I don’t plan on ever changing and that can be seen as a good or bad thing.  Ok, let me clarify what I mean by each of these examples then.

Lychee flavor!

Lychee flavor!

First off are my peculiar food and drink preferences.  As many know, I do not drink alcohol, coffee, or energy drinks.  I also refuse to eat rubbery things like calamari, squid, and other such odd creatures.  I stay away from burgers, steak, lobster, and caviar.  I am especially strict with alcohol, also avoiding food cooked in it, chocolates with liqueur, and the like.  Even fermented food is a big no-no in my books, though some of these things have been unavoidably tasted at least once.  The more people try to pressure me to drink, the more resistant I am, even if it’s just a taste or small portion of wine.  I often get the “you know that it can actually be good for you, right?” and pay no heed – the costs far outweigh the benefits in my eyes.  I do, however, like to collect a few mini bottles here and there because they’re rather cute (plus, why would you ever drink it?  They’re too pretty!).

However, last year I did become curious and exasperated enough to try some beer (at age 22) and it was just as nasty as I thought it’d be, plus some.  So that experience only solidified my resolve to avoid alcohol.  I’m sure people will now focus on how I didn’t try wine or something lighter, fruitier, or whatever.  Perhaps one day I will sip some wine just to get them to leave me alone, but as of now I’ll just ignore their pleads that it can be good for my health.  In fact, I cherish an article I read recently about how the link that people draw between moderate drinking and good health may not be a causal effect, but actually be discounting many other possible factors that affect people’s drinking.  Even if there was solid proof, I’m not about to just follow suit.  I can eat blueberries and pomegranates for antioxidants and have fish oil and avocados for cardiovascular health.  No alcohol needed.

I avoid coffee and energy drinks for the caffeine, which I don’t want or need, plus coffee smells disgusting to me.  I like to do things naturally and without artificial aids whenever possible, so if I’m tired I take a nap.  If I’m pulling an all-nighter, I drink lots of water or tea.  I don’t need these extreme stimulants to affect my body in strange ways.

As for rubbery things, I’m not a fan of having to overwork my jaw or swallow large chunks of food.  The texture doesn’t appeal to me, so I stick to crab, shrimp, and scallops, which is seafood that I do like to eat.  This is not for health reasons, so I did try these “dong dong” shells in Singapore, since it’s a local thing.  Now, I’m not quite sure why I don’t like burgers – I think it stems from a gross one I saw in the cafeteria in my childhood.  I’ve stayed away ever since, though I have broken that to have about five in the past 15 years.

photo credit:

This doesn't look appetizing to me at all. photo credit:

Steak is just too thick for me and I hate how it usually comes at least somewhat pink.  I don’t really like meat that much, unless it’s very thinly sliced.  Lobster is something my mom and I have disagreed on for ages – she says I ate it as a kid and I refuse to believe that.  The only time I recall having it was in a dip, where the chunks were minimal.  I’m not interested in ever eating a full one.  And caviar has the same problem that rubbery things have in that I don’t like the texture.  I also stubbornly don’t like food that is high class and expensive (though it’s a coincidence that my taste buds prefer cheaper foods).

Secondly, I am persistent in my desire to move around because that’s how my life has always been.  I like being able to say I’ve never lived in the same city for more than 3 and 1/2 years consecutively.  I like having so many old homes and schools and jobs that I have to keep a list or else I’d forget.  I’m not the type of person to stay put and I enjoy that.  My friends are never really too surprised to hear of my escapades because I’m on the go far more than they usually are.  If for that reason alone, I want to keep moving around and not settle quite yet.  Of course, it also has to do with just being used to that lifestyle.

My most recent journal.

My most recent journal.

Finally, how many people can say they have kept a journal for 14 years?  I want to be able to, but I’m at 13 now and a year behind in catching up on entries.  Most people I tell say they tried to keep a journal, but that only lasted a week, a month, a year… I’ve yet to meet someone who’s managed for as long as I have.  And if only for the sake of being able to say that I have, I want to continue with it, whether or not it may be worth my while.  Ultimately I think it’ll be a great thing to draw from later on if I decide to write an autobiography (or if people want to look back on my life, though it’d certainly be a bit tedious – I’m already reaching 50 volumes and that’s A LOT of reading).

So you see, much of my motivations for these areas if because of my stubbornness to continue to do it like I always have (or at least since my childhood).  Generally, people respect my choices and think it’s good that I don’t drink and don’t rely on coffee or energy drinks for a boost.  They also think it’s crazy that I move so frequently, but respect my ability to do that as well.  And of course, everyone wishes they were able to keep the journal they always meant to have.  I like being the one who does.  The one who is able to stay away from alcohol, coffee, and energy drinks.  The one who doesn’t need or want to spend extorbitant amounts on steak, lobster, and caviar.  The one who has lived everywhere.  The one who has kept a journal for years.  The one who can, who has, and who will.

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