Why Chinese New Year is One of My Favorite Holidays

By far, Chinese New Year is one of my favorite holidays.

You may be thinking that Chinese New Year is only one of my favorite holidays because I receive a good amount of red envelopes that have money inside of them, but no, that is not the reason behind why I love CNY, though a very small percentage of that can and does play a role into my reasoning behind all of this.

For starters, no matter what day of the week Chinese New Year falls on, Dad takes off! Coming from a family with a small business owner as a father, I appreciate and try to take advantage of the small number of days that my dad takes vacation days because there are only a few of them.

Secondly, this is probably the main reason why I love CNY. I love CNY because my whole family (that’s in America) from Dad’s side gathers together at my fourth uncle’s house. This includes my grandma, all my uncles, aunts and cousins. Throughout the year I don’t see them much so it’s so nice being able to sit and pig out together and catch up on life. Family means a lot to me because at the end of the day, family is blood and family will always be there for you.

Besides seeing my family by blood, we also celebrate with our God family. My God family includes one of my childhood best friends, my God brother, and their parents (my parents are my God siblings’ parents). Last night we broke bread over a ten course meal and it’s always so nice to sit and chat because we don’t really see them too often either.

Also, this year is the year of the Rooster. I was actually born in the year of the Rooster (you can check what year you were born in by googling your year of birth), and to be honest, as much as I don’t believe in luck or anything because I believe everything happens for a reason, I can already tell this is going to be a great year.

Good health and prosperity to you all, and Happy Chinese New Year!

Speak soon.

Best,

Brett

The Grass IS Greener On The Other Side

For the longest time, I felt an empty void, I felt lost. Was it my depression speaking? Was it because I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life? I’ve always felt like something was missing, like I was a small fish in a big pond. This is especially to be true when I dive deep into a depressive state, or when I’m confused about what God wants me to be in life (because there is so much that I want to accomplish.)

Why is it that us millennials always feel the NEED to know what we want to do, who we want to be? The age old question was and is, “what do you want to be/do in life?” We’ve been taught to answer this always. And if you didn’t have an answer, you were already deemed unsuccessful.

What about for those who have mental illnesses? People similar to me with anxiety and bipolar disorder? Has anyone ever thought to listen to what we have to say, and how hard it is for us to live a “normal” day-to-day life? This is not to say that my life is so difficult in any way more than yours, but sometimes it can be a little challenging.

After researching my mental illnesses, I can now say that I believe that I have lived with anxiety my whole life. I’m not sure if I’ve been bipolar my whole life, but I know for a fact that I had a real manic episode back in April of 2016 when I was working my first full time job, which also then led to me having another manic episode this December.

Anxiety.

I think anxiety is oftentimes overlooked as a mental illness because people think that being “anxious” means that you’re extremely “shy” and “awkward.” But anxiety really is an uneasy, apprehensive feeling. To me, anxiety is living and breathing in your own head, overanalyzing every situation. My anxiety oftentimes prevents me from performing well and thinking straight, because too much is going on and I cannot focus because of my heightened senses. I’ve had anxiety and panic attacks previously before (and in those moments, I didn’t even know they were attacks) – my whole body begins to overheat, I feel like I can’t breathe with shortness of breaths, and my mind just overflows with so many thoughts and I feel like I cannot function.

Bipolar disorder.

As stated above, it is safe to say that I’ve had two manic episodes. One back in April and one this December. A lot of things trigger me – everyone and everything can trigger me. Certain people trigger me, colors trigger me, sounds trigger me, the dark triggers me. It’s definitely all a form of PTSD (I wrote about this before). Going from depression to recovering from depression to being manic to recovering again is so exhausting to be honest. This is what happened this time – I was recovering from depression then I became manic again because of certain events. That is why I checked myself into the ER, that is why I felt the need to go to the hospital. I wanted answers. I wanted help. I needed help. I still need help.

Underneath it all, though, I am a fighter and I am a survivor. I will not let my anxiety and my bipolar-ness define me.

The grass IS greener on the other side, sometimes you just have to keep fighting the fight and keep walking down this road we call life. Things may surprise you. I will continue to be the individual I was raised to be. I will continue to be as honest and as transparent as I can be.

I think it’s normal for us millennials to NEED to know what we should be in life. But it’s also okay to not know, too. We’re so young and there are so many years ahead for us to LIVE. Why don’t we just start living in the now? Why don’t we start being comfortable in our own skin? I, for one, am so blessed to have such beautiful people surrounding me, who are always constantly give me great advice, great memories, great conversations – these are the people that I live for each and every day. With that, I am so thankful and I am so privileged to live a beautiful life.

That’s all for now, folks.

Till next time.

– B.

Don’t Judge A Book By Its Cover

Don’t judge a book by its cover.

We’ve been taught this saying since we were little. What does this even mean? Who came up with this saying?

I can’t answer the second question but I can definitely answer the first question. To me, “don’t judge a book by its cover” means that we should not judge others by what they look like, by what they say, by what they choose to dress like, etc. I say this because a lot of times I tend to judge people immediately by what they say and how they act, and that’s wrong. In a conversation, in the workplace, at church, at home, in a relationship, whereever you may be where it involves more than one party, I think we should always consider both (or more) sides of the equation instead of jumping to conclusion so quickly.

I say this because I’ve been in sticky situations quite recently and I may have quickly jumped to conclusions too soon (before gathering any information).

Who am I to even judge others, though? What right do I have to say something about someone else when I’m not them? I think a lot of the times, we tend to jump the gun. We tend to forget that others are actually quite similar to ourselves. We are all perfectly imperfect.

You never know what people are going through till you walk in their shoes. You never know what’s going on at home, you never know if someone is truly depressed because they could be hiding it.

This is a friendly reminder for myself to be kind to others always no matter the circumstance. This is a reminder for me to stay positive and negate all negative thoughts. Like the yellow rose in the image above, there is still beauty in the world – sometimes you just gotta look over your shoulder.

Stay humble and hungry.

Best,

Brettany

My First Blog Post was for “Coolest Handmade Costumes”

My first ever blogging experience was for the website, www.coolest-handmade-costumes.com. My “cool” costume was a couple costume idea that I had executed for Kevin and I during my sophomore year of college, his junior year of college.

I loved this costume because it was so easy to make! We dressed up as Popeye and Olive Oyl and I just remember having a blast getting into character and taking pictures with one another and our friends.

For my junior year and super senior (my ninth semester bc I graduated a semester late) year of college, I also DIY-ed mine and Kevin’s costumes! My junior year we were Wenda and Waldo, and in October 2015, we were Wonder Woman and Clark Kent. Pictures also found below:



I really like Halloween because you’re able to dress up as a character or a jubilee of characters (if you’re doing a group costume). I know, I know. A lot of Christians don’t like Halloween because of the story behind it and what it represents, which I get and I respect. But underneath it all, besides the negatives, I think Halloween can be celebrated (to a certain extent and these are just my personal views) if you turn to the positives of the holiday. In high school actually, my favorite group costumes were with my five close girlfriends. In total, there were six of us. We called ourselves AS6 (short for Asian Sisters 6) and we always handmade our costumes as well. Our junior year of high school, we dressed up as soda cans which was awesome. Then during our senior year, we dressed as the cast from the Pixar movie, UP. That was one of my favorites as well.  Pictures can be found right below:



And just for ish and giggles, here’s me and my siblings with my stylish looking mother back when  I was in pre-school and they were in elementary school:

Anyway, the link to my blog post for the Popeye and Olive Oyl couple costumes on www.coolest-handmade-costumes.com can be found here. Hope you enjoy! And please let me know if you ever get to use this for next Halloween!

See ya later, alligators.

Blessings on blessings,

Brettany

Gluten-Free Chicken Lettuce Boats

I recently discovered that I have a sensitivity towards gluten, so much of my diet needs to be changed. Today I had a therapy appointment and right after on the way home, I was thinking of what I should eat for lunch. My mom and I went to King Kullen and I immediately saw packages of hearts of romaine so I immediately thought of making chicken lettuce boats. These are definitely gluten free because I am substituting bread with the lettuce! Below you can follow my step by step instructions so that you, too, can make them yourself at your own free will. Trust me, you’ll want to make these. They’re fresh, crunchy, tasty, and extremely healthy all at the same time. Lettuce jump right into it.

The ingredients I purchased for this recipe can be seen above. To list what I bought: organic packaged hearts of romaine, baby carrot sticks, chicken tender strips, broccoli slaw, boathouse yogurt and cucumber dill dressing, basil, and mild salsa. I bought the salsa just to have at home, and I had carrots on the side of my lettuce boats. You’ll see what I did with them below. Moving on.

Here, I began to cook the raw chicken tender strips. I first turned the stove on medium heat, poured some grapeseed oil (my mom loves cooking with this kind of oil) and I placed all of the chicken into the pan one by one. Spices used include salt, cilantro, garlic powder and lemon pepper. Pretty simple and light. I was debating if I should use the wet basil paste but I decided to use that later on instead. You’ll see.

After all the chicken was cooked, I used a scissor to cut it all up into small chunks. I prepared two packs of chicken tender strips – mainly because I know I can use the chicken for other recipes as well. Anyway, here I began prepping all of the other raw ingredients. I washed my hearts of lettuce (I ate three total), and I prepared the broccoli slaw by portioning it into a bowl of the amount that I wanted for this recipe.


Almost there! As you can see in the top right corner, I added a good amount of chicken into the same bowl that I had the broccoli slaw. I then put some of the yogurt & cucumber dill dressing in the bowl, along with the wet basil paste. After that, I took some baby carrots out and put it into a small dish so I can have them as a side to my chicken lettuce boats.


And that’s a wrap! The rest is pretty self explanatory – I used a fork to put a good amount of the chicken/slaw/dressing into the lettuce boats and I ate them just like that. You can see that I put some additional yogurt dressing on the side for my baby carrots. Also, I poured myself some water.

Cost of all ingredients: $33
Taste: 8/10

The cost may seem a little high but you can definitely split this up into three or four more meals. This recipe came out to be very delicious and tasteful. Though it seems very minimalistic with the ingredients, it still tasted great. The textures and the taste profiles of the spices along with the dressing and the paste formed a beautiful marriage that made my stomach happy.

Pro tip: If you’re trying to lose fat and weight, 80% is diet and 20% of it is exercising.

I’m not a professional or anything, but this tip comes from experience. You are what you eat, right? That’s what they say at least.

Till next time. Enjoy!

– B. T.

My Experience with Psychiatric Departments in Hospitals

The first night I went to the ER for a psych evaluation was December 2, 2016. I remember feeling really manic and the feeling was all too familiar (I had my first manic episode back in April when I was working full-time) because I’ve read up on the symptoms of bipolar disorder and I remember how I was back then so vividly. I immediately asked my friends what they thought, and I then texted my psychologist (at the time) to gather her opinion. We came to the conclusion that in that moment, there would probably be no psychiatrists that I could see so quickly.  We then decided that going to the ER was the best option available. I was at Hercules’ house actually with Peanut Better and Tender Kare, but I decided to go home and wait for Kindness (Kevin) to come pick me up after work so me and him could go together. Upon arrival, I was admitted to the psych department  pretty quickly. The whole time I was self-coaching in the sense that I constantly reminded myself to stay calm and that I’m fully aware of my symptoms, that I am not crazy. The nurse practitioner saw me first and asked me why I was there, asked me of my medical history, etc. Then the waiting game began – I had to wait for the psychiatrist to see me, probably because they were observing me. Anyway, the doctor finally came and we talked for thirty minutes or so. He came to the conclusion that since I’ve only sat with him for such a short period of time, he couldn’t really gather much about me in the time being. I was however, diagnosed with adjustment disorder. They then discharged me because they felt that I didn’t need to be there for the time being.

The following week on Saturday, December 10, 2016 I again found myself back in the same place, at the same facility. This time it was after my third therapy session – you see, during my second session, my psychologist back then (I have a new one that I see now that takes my insurance), drew up a new hypothesis and gathered that I may just have depression, anxiety, adjustment disorder and a high reactivity to things. But after this last session, she concluded that my condition may be very severe and that I needed to be fully diagnosed by a psychiatrist again. This time, though, when I went to the ER, I was seen for medical conditions as well because I often times have chest and abdominal pain, along with headaches too. After doing multiple tests and talking to multiple doctors and nurses, I was finally diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I got discharged again, because I guess they felt that if I continued to go to therapy and continued doing what I was doing, I would be okay.

Life is funny. Why you may ask? Because I actually self-diagnosed myself with bipolar disorder back in July (when I was starting that depressive state) – I just chose to ignore it and I chose to not seek professional help. A couple of my friends also had this inclination as well. Regardless, I am glad that I was finally diagnosed by a group of professionals who I trust fully.

I went to the ER again on Tuesday, December 20, 2016 but to NY Presbyterian Cornell this time. I know, my medical bill is probably through the roof – yikes.  I was feeling pretty bad the day and week prior, probably because of yet another anxiety attack. A lot of the times, my brain moves way faster than my body and that has its serious pros and cons. Sometimes I think the cons outweigh the pros, but to be honest, I kind of love that my brain moves so quickly. I digress. I went this time more so because of the physical pain that I was having (listed above) and oftentimes my eyes hurt too. So, my wonderful boyfriend drove me and my mother to the city so that I seek even more help. I could have gone to Northwell LIJ again, but someone recommended to us that NY Presbyterian would be a great place for me to go. After spending some time on a stretcher for blood work, medication, x-rays, etc., I was transferred to the psych department. I spent the night there (my first time spending the night) and to be quite honest, I didn’t mind it at all. Since I’m pretty restless when I’m manic, I was able to create conversation with the staff and the patients! I love that about being in a hospital. Also, when admitted, you get your phone taken away so you’re pretty much living the life of a hippie inside a hospital’s psych department, ha ha. I met this one friend who stayed up with me the whole night. We talked about topics that ranged from music, politics, technology, our lives, history, everything. It was great. We also made art together! I’ll post the picture below. It was awesome. I ended up sleeping somewhat, and the next day my brother came to visit me. I was so happy. Then, they transferred me over to the psychiatric ward in Gracie Square Hospital probably because the living space is much bigger there.

Moving on to my week long stay in the psych ward of Gracie Square Hospital. What can I say? My time there was absolutely humbling and amazing (for the most part). Of course there were days where I REALLY did not want to be there mainly because I hated being stuck indoors within one floor of a hospital, and because of the fact that I wanted to be home for Christmas with my family and friends – but other than that, I didn’t mind being there because I guess I needed it. My favorite part about being in a psych ward (to be honest, it felt like a mini vacation because I was fed four meals, I could shower whenever I wanted, you get your own room or you share a room, etc.) was definitely being able to create conversation and community with the staff and the other patients there. I love learning new things so I love picking people’s brains – especially older people and people from different backgrounds/walks of life. I sat alongside drug addicts, alcoholics, and I sat in AA meetings (even though I am not an alcoholic). The main thing that I learned though was that we all wanted to better ourselves. Not for anyone else, but for ourselves. I learned a lot of therapeutic coping mechanisms, and they have become all things that I try to incorporate in my daily life.

I had some favorite individuals that I liked talking to because they taught me so much within our conversations. I was able to even practice my Spanish and Tagalog (the Filipino dialect – my friends taught me phrases) to the nurses and technicians and even the other patients! I learned a lot about Greek mythology and the ways of the Grecian, how it’s like to be a nurse, I learned a lot about pills, etc. I just learned a lot and it was so awesome.

In conclusion, this goes back to me saying “everything happens for a reason”. I think a lot of the times I become irritable and impatient because I just want to get things done my way. But why not live in the moment? Why not be where you’re supposed to be at that very second? I believe that the past is the past, and the present is the present. You can’t change the past but you can control your future. If you don’t like something, change it. Keep your goals dear to your heart for the future, but know that things may not go accordingly to how you wish they may. And that’s okay. It’ll all be okay. You live and you learn.

P.S. the first photo above is a picture of the socks that hospitals give you! They’re so cool because the bottom has grips which prevent you from falling.

🙂

Signed,
B. T.

My First Tattoo

Today was a pretty big milestone because I got my first tattoo! I know, I know. You’re probably freaking out right now and you must be thinking that I’ve acted upon this impulsively. To be honest though, I’ve always wanted a tattoo and the idea of this particular one came to me about a month ago.

You may also be asking how much it cost, who I went to, etc. I get it, the in’s and the out’s of getting a tattoo can be quite tricky. But luckily for me, I went to an old friend from elementary school  who lives fairly close to me and who is actually an independent tattoo artist. Check her out on Instagram – her handle is @silvana_art!

Below I will share with you my personal experience of getting my first tattoo. I’ll also share the meaning behind this tattoo. If any of you tattoo artists are out there reading this, please correct me if I’m explaining the process incorrectly, ha ha. Anyways, moving on.

To begin, Silvana is an amazing artist. We grew up together actually, as mentioned above. It was so nice to have her as my tattoo artist because we were able to catch up with one another and just reminisce about the good ol’ care free days. I knew what I wanted my tattoo to be so I gave her the piece of paper and she immediately went to work. This is her home studio, but you can also find her at Puncture Tattoo Studio in Brooklyn, NY. Here she is tracing the piece of paper with the words that I wanted onto the transfer paper in which she can apply on my wrist afterwards.

After she finished tracing and after she transferred the traced words onto my wrist (and after letting it dry for ten minutes), she went straight into action! She set up all the equipment, got the inks out, put on her gloves, etc. I love how she was able to explain the whole process to me step by step and told me exactly what she was going to do before she was going to do it. At first, Sil went over the lettering in black ink. The pain kind of felt like a sharp (but dull at the same time) needle that was constantly moving. I mean, that’s exactly what tattoo-ing basically is; a vibrating pen on your body. After going over the lettering slowly and surely, Silvana moved onto the next step.

Here, Sil is going over the tattoo with blue ink to create shading. Towards the end of my session, the pain became more prevalent since she had to constantly go over the lettering. But, overall, the pain for me was about a 6.5/10 because I’d like to believe that I have a high tolerance for pain.

Voila! This is the end product. As you can see, the tattoo reads “Stay humble” and I purposefully wanted it facing towards me so that I could read it. This tattoo is special to me because it is written in my mother’s handwriting. Oftentimes, there are instances where I become overconfident (especially when I have a manic episode). Now, I have something to look at and remind me to stay grounded, to stay humble. This tattoo also reminds me of my mother, and how I have drawn my strength from such a beautiful human being who I have the privilege of calling mom.

My experience: 10/10
Pain: 6.5/10
Cost: $80 w/o tip

Now that I’ve gotten my first tattoo, I’m already thinking of the other tattoos that I want already, ha ha. We shall see what happens. But yeah, I can definitely see why people usually don’t stop at just one. Tattoos are a literal form of art – hats off to all you tattoo artists who are able to do this line of work. Y’all are amazing.

Again, don’t forget to check out Silvana’s instagram: @silvana_art

I highly recommend her.

Speak soon!

– B. T.