My 2019 in photos

What my top nine photos on Instagram say about me

It’s the beginning of December and you know what that means: prepare for the influx of the Year in Reviews. The most popular recent ones are Spotify Wrapped and Instagram’s top nine photos.

These nine photos perfectly capture the essence of my self-discovery journey this year, but the top 3 photos really stand out as moments that changed my life.

#3: Moving Out of San Francisco

In San Francisco, I had all of the superficial things that one could have — good money, a great career, incredible body, beautiful friends, and a bustling nightlife personality… but it was never enough. It wasn’t until my body had collapsed that I was able to really assess where I was headed towards.

It wasn’t until I left it all that I started to truly find myself, including prestigious job offers at top companies that I had worked so hard for my entire career.

#2: Announcing My Journey

As a part of my journey, I left everything to meditate around the world. Except, when I first started, I didn’t know how to navigate the world of social media.

2019 was my first true foray into becoming a content creator.

When I was starting out, I was trying so hard to create the curated Instagram feed, color-grading all of my photos, creating a perfect layout, and following all of the social media advice I could find. Some of it worked (#8: Smiling on the Miami Shores and #5: Posing with a Bear), and some of it didn’t (my YouTube vlogs documented me shopping, eating, thinking… yeah.)

Ultimately, this was not fulfilling. Over time, my Instagram feed evolved into an unconventional written blog. Before this, I never took myself to be a writer. But in this journey, I’ve also found a love for words in expressing myself.

A bit funny for someone who learned English as a third language. Japanese was my first and Mandarin was my second.

#1: Hospital life

This moment changed my life forever. (Or the culmination of my hospital visits)

After working too hard, playing too hard, exercising too much, and eating too much, my body just gave out. My last trip to burning man in 2017 really sent my body over the edge and my entire digestive system collapsed. I was in and out of the hospital for months unable to digest food and I barely remember any of my visits, because I was under heavy anesthesia for most of my time in the hospital.

I lost a lot of weight, including most of my muscle mass, during this process. Watching myself slowly wither away, unable to do anything about it, was one of the scariest experiences of my life. (Even during recovery, my body consciousness was still extremely hard to face, and I share some of it in #6: Body Positivity at Burning Man)

As a part of my healing, I changed my lifestyle, revamped my diet, and became completely sober (also shared about in #7: First Time Back to Burning Man). I worked with an amazing woman in the bay area that healed my body through holistic means.

Ultimately this experience pushed me to take the journey I did this year, traveling around the world and meditating in six different destinations and sitting in silence for almost two months. (One of the destinations in France was #9: Organic Farming at Plum Village)

In this process, I also had a huge shift in the community around me. During my illness and recovery, most of my friends had parted ways with me. As my perspectives and priorities changed, we no longer saw eye-to-eye with many things, especially with sobriety. A huge part of my work today is creating the community that I wish I had in this process. My mission and content are now dedicated to supporting others who are going on a very similar journey of finding mindfulness, spirituality, and self-identity.

I host a podcast called Yellow Glitter, mindfulness through the eyes and soul of a gay Asian. You can find it on Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, Spotify, iHeartRadio, Stitcher, Overcast, and TuneIn.

Along with a bit of weekly mindfulness, I send out my favorite things I discover each week on my email newsletter at Mindful Moments.

Thanks for reading! Until next time.

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Instruction: Mix equal parts of life hacker, designer, developer and productivity nerd. Sprinkle a dash of coffee and cupcakes. Best served fresh.