Mindfulness and other things

Philodendron micans next to dish with picture of dog

I’m currently in the process of demushifying my brain. A few months ago, COVID-19 finally sank its nasty spike proteins into me and rendered me miserable and mucous-infested for weeks on end. While I can’t say if it was due to COVID or the onslaught of holiday deadlines for work, I’ve been slowing down significantly over the last few months and allowing my body to rest. Since my last blog, I’ve been culling my brain worms and working hard on, for a lack of a better phrase, self care. Here are a few aspects that I’ve been tending to:

Buddha necklace 


I was raised Buddhist, but I didn’t practice it much except for the occasional temple visit with my family. In my late 20’s, I came across Thich Nhat Hanh after thumbing through some of Ocean Vuong’s interviews, and I’ve been compulsively listening to Thay’s Plum Village talks and reading his pithy How To books ever since. The crux of Thay’s work is mindfulness, or being able to stay in the present moment.

In The Miracle of Mindfulness, Thay contemplates dishwashing and poses the question, “Are you washing to clean the dishes or are you washing the dishes to wash the dishes?” That has stuck with me and nudged me towards enjoying the little mundane aspects of my life instead of simply ticking off boxes on a to-do list. While I want to avoid watering it down to a Western framework, mindfulness is a beautiful starting point for emotional management and compassionate communication. My baby step into being a more consistent practitioner is doing a loving-kindness meditation at least once a week. I also try to count my in and out breaths right before bedtime, or whenever I feel tense.  

Corner of a room with a vertical shelf, plant shelf, and yellow chair with blanket in the middle


Perhaps it’s a symptom of being in my late 20’s, but I’ve been getting back into cleaning and decluttering. I am not a full-fledged Marie Kondo acolyte, but I really do respect her framework for tidying up. Does this item or arrangement spark joy? While I’m a little hoarding squirrel when it comes to craft supplies, I’ve been paring down my book, plant, apparel, and beauty collections. I’m really at a point in my life where I’m prioritizing comfort and functionality. A clean work desk sparks joy. Cargo pants spark joy.

Painted wood crafts


Maybe it’s due to the scarcity mindset of growing up without much money and being self-employed, but I’ve always been hustling to monetize my interests. I realized last year that I didn’t have to do this! Crafting is a great way to work with my hands and not think in the deeply verbal way that I need to for work. As such, I started making tons of basic but not outright hideous blankets for my dogs. In December, I also started getting into painting wood crafts and mini canvasses with acrylics. Pure hobbies without the intent of monetization give me permission to make imperfect art. And let’s be real: They give me permission to waste money for the sake of personal pleasure.

Roasted vegetables in casserole bowl


I am embarrassed to admit that I find cooking very tedious and exhausting. (Cut to me eating avocados with dino nuggets during holiday deadlines.) I really eat for the sake of energy rather than nourishment, but I’m trying to make homecooked meals feal more satisfying and enjoyable — and yes, I want to practice more mindfulness with washing the dishes! I’ve been really drawn to Martha Stewart’s simple recipes, but I’m looking to expand my culinary chops this year. So far, I’ve been pretty impressed with my baked gourd risotto, one-pan pasta, and portobello mushroom burgers. Specifically, I’ve really been enjoying vegetarian meals simply because I find them easier to make. (Fun fact: I was vegetarian for two years in college after reading Eating Animals…lol.) One of my specific goals this year is to learn how to cook more vegan Vietnamese meals! Maybe I’ll even post some here.

Anyway, I’m planning to be back soon with short reviews and scattered thoughts. Whichever comes first.

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