health Slice of Life Year in Review

Highlights of 2015, Part 3 of 4: Better Health & Crochet

For the month of December, I’ll be posting weekly about a couple highlights from this year; granted, these highlights may very well leave out what happens this month, but we shall see what happens! ;) Also, I couldn’t decide on only four highlights, so each post I will highlight two moments/topics from the year. Enjoy!


Working Out & Eating Better = Healthier Helene!

Pretty nice medals from Rock n Roll!
Pretty nice medals from Rock n Roll!

I’m glad I made the decision in late 2014 to get back on the health & fitness bandwagon: for a few years there, I let myself slide backwards and undo the years of health & fitness I had accomplished in my early twenties. This year, I have made strides to get myself back into shape: it definitely helped that Ryan and I started off 2015 by participating in the Daniel Fast with our church. Since the fast, we have made a point to eat better together and also commit to working out together on a regular basis. As I had mentioned before, we ran our first 5K together back in October and hope to run more in 2016.

Overall, since November 2014, I have lost twenty-five pounds in a much healthier fashion than in my twenties. The road to better health is ongoing, and I intend to lose more weight in the coming year. Obviously, I will continue my healthier habits into the new year….Ryan and I do need more exercise ideas, though.

Crocheting Up A Storm

My current project: a Christmas gift for a family member (hmmmm to whom??!)
My current project: a Christmas gift for a family member (hmmmm to whom??!)

I am also most happy that this year was the year for me to FINALLY progress in my crocheting/yarn craft hobbies! I started off the year attending a Nerdy 30s Ladies of Denver Metro Crafting/Knitting/Coffee meetup (in fact, I just RSVPed for the same meetup event happening at the beginning of this coming January, too!) and have been crocheting pretty regularly since then. Granted, over the past 11ish months, I have also learned A LOT about the whole world of yarn crafts: gauge, different stitches, the size of the crochet hook, yarn weight, yarn material, etc. When I had first learned how to crochet, I thought much of what I listed above didn’t matter much, but this year I have learned that they DO matter….quite a bit! I’ve made hats too big because of the wrong sized hook or the wrong type of stitch…luckily, these were all learning lessons for myself!

Loom-knitting hats is SO easy....even a six-year-old can do it.
Loom-knitting hats is SO easy….even a six-year-old can do it.

I have also spent time learning more about loom knitting, and I do enjoy the round looms nowadays! I unfortunately made the mistake of learning how to loom knit on the long rectangular loom–which I just recently learned is actually harder than the round loom. Still, I love learning about all these different ways to create hats, scarves, etc.

This Christmas, I can confidently say that I am creating pretty much all of my gifts for my family members: several Christmases ago, I attempted this, but ended up with some too-short scarves and a couple of IOUs. Odd, right? But I’ve learned so much since then….and I can’t wait to share these gifts with my family!

This next year, I hope to continue my love of yarn craft hobbies and also make more goodies for my church’s outreach program. Hooray!

Slice of Life

Gratitude Pouring In…

I can’t believe that November is nearly over and that 2016 is around the corner–I know, SO cliche to say, but it’s so true! 2015 has flown by way too fast: many, many ups and several downs throughout the year.

This month has seen both good and bad times, but I’d like to take pause today to say thanks for all that has happened.

Met up with my Spotlight podcast co-host, Jay, while I was in NYC. Just as funny in person as he is online!
Met up with my Spotlight podcast co-host, Jay, while I was in NYC. Just as funny in person as he is online!

A couple weeks ago, I went to New York City for the second time this year. I primarily went to visit family, but I also got the chance to meet with some friends, both old and new. However, it was such a quick trip that I didn’t really get much of a chance to relax! I got back last Monday and feel like even today, I am still ‘catching up’ on work and sleep.

Later tonight, I will be heading up to Fort Collins to celebrate Thanksgiving with my oldest sister and her family: we’ll be with my brother-in-law’s side of the family for the next few days. Weather is supposed to get worse as this day wears on, but hopefully we’ll all have a nice holiday.

Last night, my business coach, Kelly Lynn Adams, sent out an email with a list of 30 things she is grateful for. I’ll end this post with my own list (no real particular order, of course):

  1. God
  2. My very large immediate family all over the country
  3. My very large extended family on both sides all over the U.S. and China
  4. Ryan 🙂 🙂 🙂
  5. Ryan’s family
  6. Passionate Life Church, the wonderful church that Ryan and I have been attending together since July 2014
  7. My health
  8. My cats #crazycatlady
  9. All of the homes I have lived in throughout my life in Virginia, California, and Colorado
  10. My entrepreneurial spirit, most likely ‘inherited’ from my parents
  11. My coach, Kelly Lynn Adams
  12. Friends, both ‘old’ and ‘new’
  13. Social media
  14. Delicious food around the world 😉 #foodie
  15. My leads group at the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce
  16. Lifelong learning
  17. Technology
  18. Books
  19. Smiles
  20. Hugs
  21. The sun
  22. My life in Colorado
  23. Those who may be cruel to me, but they only make me stronger.
  24. My heritage
  25. My father’s decision to leave China and create a better life for all of us
  26. My business colleagues
  27. Airplanes and the ability to travel
  28. My love for writing
  29. Crafts
  30. Kindness from others

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Slice of Life

How Improv Helps Me in Life & Business

Improv is all about being in the flow, staying present, and relying on your teammates. Image credit to hyena reality at
Improv is all about being in the flow, staying present, and relying on your teammates. Image credit to hyena reality at

I started attending an  Improv 101 class at Grafenberg Playschool last month. Before this class, I had an inkling of what improv was (I mainly knew about “Yes, and…”) but did not know what exactly I was getting myself into.

Thanks to the connection between Ignite Denver and Grafenberg Playschool, I now have the chance to experience improv. We are almost finished with the class at this point and preparing for our class show (along with some other improv groups part of Grafenberg) on September 28. Over the course of the past several weeks, I have learned a lot about how improvisation techniques can help me out in my day-to-day life:

  1. Improv has taught me to go with the flow. My class is a group of seven people (including myself), but oftentimes we have to do two-person scenes. I can’t predict what my teammates will do next, so when they throw their lines at me, I have to just go with the flow and think on my feet. This helps me in my life because, well, I am very much the type of person who likes to plan things out. When my plans get derailed, I get frustrated and upset. Improv has reminded me to just go with what happens–things are meant to go that way anyway!
  2. Improv teaches me to focus on the present. If I don’t pay attention to what my teammates have said (or what object work they’re doing), then I’m left feeling lost. I have to stay attentive to what others say or act out during each exercise and setup, or else I’ll just embarrass myself. With all the distractions in day-to-day life these days, I find it VERY hard to stay focused on one task at a time. I am glad that at my improv class, I have to really just pay attention to what’s at hand and not be staring at my phone while listening to Tom (my instructor).
  3. Improv teaches me to not take things so seriously. We have done some interesting exercises and have also said some things in our class that are just way over the top! However, I have found that each class helps me loosen up and not get so high-strung over the nitty-gritty. We all laugh at ourselves at least once in the class, and that’s just a good reminder for me and for all of us: LAUGH! Everything will be okay, regardless of what happens.
  4. Improv helps me get out of my box. In terms of creativity, improv amps things up a notch. To me, improv is like NaNoWriMo: thinking on the seat of your pants and hoping that whatever storyline my teammates and I are developing along the way will actually make sense (or at least be entertaining to the audience). So far, we have come up with very out-of-the-box storylines! I almost want to take a few of the scenes and write them into my next novel…
  5. Improv teaches me to rely on others. I don’t know enough about improv at this point, but I feel that improv is only improv when there is more than one person involved (with a few exceptions). So I rely on my teammates, regardless of whether we are doing two-person acts or doing multi-player scenes. I must trust my teammates that we are all going to do fine in each act, and vice versa. This is an important reminder for me especially in my business and in my volunteer committments that delegation is important in order for me to not overload myself, but also to remind me that we all have different strengths.

I am excited for our show on the 28th, and I hope that you will come support us at the Awesome Improv Show! RSVP for the event on Facebook. Donations accepted and we will have free beer!

Update on October 5, 2015: We had a beautifully funny show last Monday (September 28th), despite the fact that our team dwindled down to only four of us. Team Tomato Soup still had an amazing premiere at Grafenberg! Admittedly, we were nervous beforehand, but Tom got us warmed up and ready to improvise before the show. Last week was also my first time attending an improv show, and I must say, it was VERY entertaining. Although I’ve learned in class that improv is not *always* about comedy, I still laughed the whole night watching the other teams perform.

Alas, my time with improv is short-lived though, as I have several other committments that take up my time. I am sad to end classes with my awesome teammates (we all work so well together in improv!), but I know that there’s a time and place for everything. Grateful to have had this opportunity to try out improv! I’ll probably step back into the scene sometime again (and nobody said that Team Tomato Soup can’t perform together outside of classes either…)

Slice of Life

Happy Birthday to My Ryan!

It’s not yet midnight yet here in Denver, but I might as well celebrate early; hey, it’s almost midnight on the East Coast!

Happy Birthday to My Ryan!

Right before going to see Les Miserables on Broadway in NYC this past June!
Right before going to see Les Miserables on Broadway in NYC this past June!

I am so lucky to have such a wonderful man in my life. Thank you for always being there for me and being the silly, loving guy you are.

Being silly at Yelps' Casino Royale this past February.
Being silly at Yelps’ Casino Royale this past February.

We are going to have so much fun for your birthday!

I love you always!

Photo from February 2014, when we took a trip to Glenwood Springs!
Photo from February 2014, when we took a trip to Glenwood Springs!
Slice of Life

Making Self-Care a Priority.

Exhausting myself and spending too much time on work = No good!
Exhausting myself and spending too much time on work = No good!

Since the start of July, I had been pretty nonstop: two presentations, many consultations, and multiple networking opportunities later…PLUS starting Couch to 5K a second time (the first time I did Couch to 5K was in 2010)….I suddenly found myself last week in a burnt out state.

I had come home from a coaching session last Tuesday and sat down in my living room, a bit numb from the day: as the rest of the evening progressed and I was trying to catch up on work, I found the smallest things bothering and frustrating me.

Finally, at the end of the night, all I could do was lay my head down on my pillow and let the tears fall.

I was beat, but I wasn’t yet ready to admit to myself that I needed a break.

So I pulled myself through Wednesday and Thursday, thinking I could get to the weekend without falling apart. But on Thursday, I found myself unable to do much work…instead, I just sat and stared at my phone blankly, not feeling the motivation to get stuff done.

Ryan suggested I go watch a movie at the theater and just take the rest of the day off. Take the rest of the day off?! I was a little scared about that idea, although I was also VERY interested in it. Still, I plowed through an hour or so of work before I hit the proverbial wall.

Taking time off by going to the movies is fine! No need to feel guilty.
Taking time off by going to the movies is fine! No need to feel guilty.

And that was when I decided to head out to the movie theater after all.

Over the course of the next several days, I spent time away from my computer, watching more movies and spending time with Ryan and our friends. I also spoke with my business coach, Kelly Lynn Adams, and she talked to me about how, especially as entrepreneurs, we need to allow ourselves free time.

I admit, ever since I started working for myself, I don’t allow much time “off” for myself. When I lived in my old apartment, I would spend several days at a time working, not really leaving my apartment until my friend Max came knocking and forced me to go on a short ride around town with him. Even these days, I find myself feeling guilty for taking some time to read or crochet! That’s crazy, isn’t it?

We as humans are not meant to power through days without rest: without some time to relax and have fun, we wear ourselves down and our health suffers because of that. 

I should take a cue from my cats: it's absolutely OKAY to take breaks, even nap breaks!
I should take a cue from my cats: it’s absolutely OKAY to take breaks, even nap breaks!

This week, I have started to intentionally block out an hour each day (Monday to Friday) for self-care: this hour is reserved for NO SCREENS, so I am “unplugged” during this time. I spend it crocheting, writing letters, or leisure reading. I find that having this time to myself–where I get to do something FUN and stay away from my electronics–that it really does rejuvenate me. On top of that, I am aiming to take two days each week where I do nothing work-related; ideally, this would be on weekends, but I do have some upcoming work-related activities happening on Saturdays next month, so I will need to figure out another day of the week to take off on those weeks.

Do you carve out time each day for yourself? Tell me what you do in your free time in the comments below.