Overseas Travel: Taiwan and Hong Kong

Last month, I had the opportunity to take a ten-day trip to Taiwan and Hong Kong with my parents and brother. Prior to this trip, I hadn’t traveled abroad in the last decade, especially with the ebbs and flows of my career (and my personal finances). This particular trip was well-timed, since it was right after the Christmas holidays, so I could still stay with my family until we departed overseas. This was also a moment where I saw the huge benefit of working for myself/freelancing: I could work from anywhere in the world (of course, I also see the downside of this–I can work from anywhere, and I must keep working at least part-time to make sure I’m able to pay bills!).

Here are a few highlights from the trip:

Continue reading Overseas Travel: Taiwan and Hong Kong

Mount Bierstadt: First 14er and 7 Teachable Moments

During these past six months, I have rededicated myself to investing in my overall health and fitness: I have a monthly membership to a fitness center and have my own personal trainer, who trains me hard twice a week (hi, Brittany!). When it comes to my health and fitness, these days I am not merely working out for aesthetics: I also know that this time around, I am in it for the long haul, and that this is a lifestyle, not a hobby.

We started hiking Mount Bierstadt before dawn and got to enjoy seeing the sunrise on the mountains.
Along the trail towards Mount Bierstadt: look at the beautiful sunrise behind me!

So, what better way to test my endurance than to hike a 14er (if you had asked me this time last year about hiking a 14er, I would have promptly said, “No thank you!”). This is exactly what I did over this past weekend with Ryan.

For those who aren’t familiar with the term “14er”, the term refers to mountain peaks that are 14,000 feet and higher, and Colorado boasts over fifty of them alone. These mountains vary in difficulty in terms of elevation, length of hike, and terrain.

Mount Bierstadt sits at 14,060 feet and is considered a Class 2 mountain to hike.
Mount Bierstadt in the afternoon, with storm clouds rolling in.

It was only last Thursday (July 5th) when Ryan and I decided to hike Mount Bierstadt, which sits at 14,060 feet and is considered a Class 2 mountain. Before this, we had only driven up Pikes Peak and Mount Evans, so Mount Bierstadt was going to be the first 14er for us to hike. I admit, I was a little nervous about hiking it, even though as Ryan researched about the mountain, he said that overall, other hikers seemed to think that the mountain was an ‘easy hike’. I read over a blog post by Laura Skladzinski at 50by25 about her experience with Mount Bierstadt, and the post helped me prepare mentally for the challenging parts of the climb.

The whole hike up and down Mount Bierstadt took us about 9.5 hours round-trip, for a total of 6.9 miles and 2,729 feet in elevation gain (we already started at about 11,000 feet at the trailhead). The trail is very popular among people of all fitness levels, including families–although I am not sure how many of these families made it to the summit. Needless to say, the whole hike exhausted us out, but we made it to the top with relatively no altitude sickness symptoms. Hoorah!

Anyhow, we did take away some lessons from the whole experience, which will be handy for those of you who are curious to try out a 14er in the future.

Continue reading Mount Bierstadt: First 14er and 7 Teachable Moments

Another Trip Around the Sun

Having a birthday shortly after the start of the year has always been interesting for me: add in Chinese New Year usually occurring around this time of the year, and every year, I have three opportunities to welcome in “a new year”.

This first month of 2018 has been a slow start to get back into a regular routine, yet also allowed me more margin to think about what’s most important in my life. I have been uncovering more of my purpose, and noticing the little (yet very valuable) treasures throughout each day of my life. I am abundantly blessed with beautiful friendships in all areas of my life, and I appreciate them all.

I have also been putting a big focus on my health and fitness, and just today I signed up for three months of personal training at my new gym downtown. It is definitely a worthwhile investment for my overall health, although it’s also a stretch for my budget at the moment.

As the saying goes: we have to get uncomfortable to grow.

Cheers to another birthday: another opportunity to celebrate and love on others more.

Goodbye, 2017. Hello, 2018.

December 31, 2017.

Radford is my hometown.
My hometown, my roots, my humble beginnings.

Feels like for the past week (or perhaps the whole month), everyone has been reflecting upon this past year….including myself.

I admit, this year was one of the more challenging years for me. I found myself getting caught up in some aspects of my professional life that—while teaching me a lot—also drained me.

It was my third year in business with Hashtagitude, and I felt that I “needed” to be at a certain level, reach a certain milestone. Turns out that even trying to keep up with the hypothetical Joneses in the professional realm doesn’t do anyone any good.

I have already mentioned over on my Instagram account, but I am honestly tired of the whole “hustle” mentality so much of the entrepreneurial world has been obsessed with these last several years. I found myself hustling way too much this year and now, sitting here on the eve of 2018, realize that I was working for not too much in return.

I didn’t forget about what’s most important to me, but I did neglect to devote time to those things.

Slowing down and enjoying time with my family will be one of my focuses for this next year.
Time with my family is very important to me.

This next year, I am focusing on simplicity, balance, and alignment. Slowing down—clearing out my calendar so that I have more room to enjoy what matters most to me. This isn’t to say that my business will take a backseat, but I will be working on other areas of my life more intently.

Here’s to more joy and balance in 2018 (and, perhaps, more blog posts here again).

NaNoWriMo for Me: Ten Years Later…

We recently hosted a vendor booth at the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce's Net90 Marketplace. Here I am with our giveaway prizes.
We recently hosted a vendor booth at the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce’s Net90 Marketplace.

On Halloween in 2007, I decided to sign up for NaNoWriMo on a whim; I was inspired by my friend Lesley, who was also participating in NaNoWriMo then. I completed my first novel that year, thanks to NaNoWriMo.

Ten years later, in 2017, I am sitting out of NaNoWriMo in a rather bittersweet way.

Over the course of these ten years, I have participated in the annual write-a-thon seven times, winning (aka writing at least 50,000 words) three of those years (2007, 2008, and 2010). Even though I see that several friends are participating in the event this year, I still am sitting out this year.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy writing anymore: I’ve professed before that writing will always be my lifelong passion. However, I am writing daily as I work on Hashtagitude and its clients: writing constantly, writing more pointedly, with my marketing acumen sharpening day by day.

At the end of the day, my creative writing suffers a bit. Even with this blog, I have rarely updated over the last 2-3 years. At the end of the day, I have few words left in me to write.

But, to celebrate that joyful excursion into the world of NaNo (and, an homage to my friend Lesley, whom I only just recently learned passed away three years ago), I am doing something else for the month of November: I am doing daily Instagram Live broadcasts on my personal Instagram for five minutes.

Since going into business for myself in 2012, I haven’t been as vociferous about my life outside of my career and my businesses. So, on these daily broadcasts this month, I will be talking about various aspects of my life that are NOT business-related; just so, you can learn more about who Helene is.

I plan to broadcast about 8:30am/9am on weekdays and perhaps around 10am or so on weekends (all Mountain Time). The replays will stay up for 24 hours, so you will be able to tune in throughout the day.

I hope you will join me on this month-long journey.