Category Archives: Life

Why I love traveling

I love traveling…because I get to see new things, meet new people, and experience new adventures. However, the main thing I gain from traveling is the journey within.

Whenever I meet new people, it gives me the opportunity to broaden my horizon of different ways of thinking and different life experiences. This makes me question my own assumptions and understanding of how things work. It also makes me reflect on my way of thinking and how most of the time it is flawed. It makes me want to push myself harder to become my ideal self and let go of all the fear that has been haunting me.

I sometimes wonder why some people don’t care so much about traveling and are happy to just stay home and hang out with good old friends. It just occurred to me that perhaps they are satisfied with what they have and are content to be in that environment and routine.

But I’m not content. I’m not content with what I have and my environment and routine and myself. That’s probably why I feel the need to venture out to hopefully find that satisfaction. I have a strange feeling that this need to look without will bite me in the butt and one of those hackneyed advice of “looking within” to find happiness will again prove to be the way.

Until then, I’m journeying on 🙂

“There is only one journey… Going inside yourself.” Rainer Maria Rilke

A Man on a Journey


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Perils of an I/O Grad Student Life

1) Lack of Work-Life Balance

One topic that Industrial/Organizational Psychologists study is work-life balance. However, I don’t study this topic, and I feel that I have no balance. It’s a lot of work, some social life, and almost no personal life.

2) Detriments to Occupational Health

I will probably get carpal tunnel or some form of permanent damage to the forearm muscle on my right arm and the area between the thumb and forefinger soon. Oh, and permanent lower back and trapezius pain.

3) Delays of Payment

As of May and June 2010, I’ve completed 2 paid Consulting Projects (subcontracts). I have received $0 from these endeavors. I’m completing one more at the end of July. We’ll see where I get money from first!


Filed under Consulting, Life, Money, School

Diversity Awareness “Experiential” Learning

Yesterday, I had an unsettling experience with an old lady in a wheelchair (also known as “an elderly with a physical disability”).

I was at the mall by myself to buy groceries. As I was walking from one side of the mall to the other, at one point, the aforementioned old lady in a wheelchair was wheeling herself in the opposite direction. I was walking near the wall and there was some space between her and the wall, so I figured that I could squeeze pass her.

But as I was about to squeeze pass this space, the lady sped up her wheeling, ran her wheelchair into the wall in front of me to block my path, made a face at me (but thinking back, her face was in that horrible grimace the entire time), and pointed to the floor behind her back indicating for me to walk around her.

To an outside observer (who all turned to look because her running into the wooden wall – for construction – was loud enough for others in the vicinity to hear), it would seem like this situation had no effect on me: my steps didn’t skip a beat and when that happened, I agilely and quickly changed my path and navigated my way around her as I kept my eyes fixed in the distance as I was doing before (side note: I don’t make much eye contact with people when I walk around).

However, on the inside, I WAS PISSED OFF. The thoughts in my head were along the lines of, “What is her problem!? I wasn’t going to hit her as I was going to walk pass her! She’s already old and in a wheelchair, and now she wants to piss others off and make enemies? Are all old women in wheelchairs bitter?” This actually went on for awhile in my head. Notice that I used those externally salient features of the woman to judge her actions (“She’s a bitter old woman in a wheelchair.”)

Luckily, alternative thoughts came into my head after I had a chance to calm down a bit. Currently, I am helping to develop a Diversity Awareness Workshop for the staff at my university as part of a series of Inclusivity Workshops. Therefore, I’ve been reading a lot about assumptions, stereotyping, prejudice, attributional biases, and mindfulness. So I came up with an alternative explanation, “Maybe something similar has happened where someone wasn’t aware that the space between her and the wall was too narrow and he or she walked into this lady in the pass, and that has happened too many times so the lady got irritated.” (Side note: are there any alternative explanations to her behavior? Perhaps her husband died the day before? But from my end, she was pretty rude!)

So on both ends, we were making assumptions. (I can only assume that) She assumed I was an ignorant, young girl who didn’t even consider that I might potentially walk into her, and I assumed that she was a totally bitter bitch because of her circumstances. But by me being aware that there were assumptions and potentially inaccurate interpretation of the behavior and situation going on in addition to potential alternative explanations, it made me feel less angry about the situation. Also, at first, I noticed myself generalizing this behavior to everyone in a wheelchair (“I guess I’m supposed to walk at least 1 meter away from them!”) but because I caught myself in this process, I intend to ask my guy friend in a wheelchair what his thoughts are on the “minimum” distance people in wheelchairs need to navigate so that either a) I can be aware of it and follow those guidelines in the future or b) hear from him whether there is a minimum distance at all.

A little more awareness, communication, understanding, and less assumptions would benefit us all.


Filed under Diversity, Life

Wanted: A Gentleman

I am surprised by my brain sometimes; I am surprised by the thoughts that pop up in my head at random times of the day.

This morning, I was brushing my teeth and this thought popped into my head, “I want a guy who will always open doors for me.”

Whenever random thoughts pop into my head, I always try to think why my mind decides to bring that up. I think it’s because, on my few recent dates with multiple guys, none of them have opened doors for me. And I guess that bothered me.

I actually have a guy friend who always opens doors for me, and it’s quite lovely! Call me old-fashioned but I really appreciate that gesture.

But what is it about me being a highly-educated, independent woman that wants someone who wants to open doors for me? Obviously I can open my own doors. I think it’s the feeling I get that he’s a gentleman and that I am and can be taken care of when needed.

Basically, I want a gentleman.

According to, one definition of “gentleman” is “a civilized, educated, sensitive, or well-mannered man.”

Someday, can I have it all?

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I ♥ Autonomy

I had the pleasure of participating in a meeting with the leaders of the University of Waterloo’s Organizational and Human Development today as they have approached my supervisor to help them develop a workshop and also to come up with new workshops regarding culture.

What I loved the most about the session (besides that fact that I’ll get some consulting – well, training/facilitating – experience) was the response one of the leaders gave to my supervisor when she asked how OHD makes decisions to implement something: “We do whatever we want!”

When I heard that, I thought to myself, “I want to be in that position.” I want to be in a position where I can make all my own decisions and have the power to execute them. I want to do whatever I want.

That’s also why I’m doing a PhD.

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Overdue Ignite Waterloo Post

I had the opportunity to attend Ignite Waterloo, and I’ve already “discussed” my issue with the event’s twitter feed projection but I haven’t commented on the speakers! Here are some of the highlights for me.

Renjie Butalid‘s Welcome to UAE – It was very interesting for me to hear someone talk about the Middle East to help dispel its myth. But I thought the phrase “greening the desert” (referring to the UAE) was an oxymoron. To me, building a bunch of skyscrapers in the middle of the desert is not the same as “greening” it. Unless they are including tons of parks in their city planning, I don’t buy it.

Lisa Farlow‘s Staying Sincere Online – It’s great that she founded 20 Something Bloggers, and I’m glad she’s from this region, but I felt that she misused the Ignite platform. According to the Ignite website:

What is Ignite?

Fast-paced, fun, thought-provoking, social, local, global—Ignite is all of these and more. It’s a high-energy evening of 5-minute talks by people who have an idea—and the guts to get onstage and share it with their hometown crowd. Run by local volunteers who are connected through the global Ignite network, Ignite is a force for raising the collective IQ and building connections in each city. And, via streaming and archived videos of local talks, local Ignites share all that knowledge and passion with the world.

Now, she did share her passion, but all I could hear was her promoting her site. Perhaps it was a problem of framing; she could have framed her talk in such a way that promotes the bigger ideas behind her site such as self-expression and connections of like-minded individuals. But she came across as selling her network for the entire five minutes. I kept thinking, “Ok, in the next slide, she’s going to make her point about why this is a good thing,” but Lisa didn’t deliver. It was pretty much an adult version of a show and tell, where I left with a) knowing about the network and b) pissed off that all she did was promote it but gave me no “take home message” or thought provoking ideas. It would be great if she can also “[raise] the collective IQ.”

Alex Matan‘s How to Solve an Accordion in 45 Seconds – was brilliant. I’ve never had a desire to pick up an accordion until that day. The energy was good, and I was amazed at how much I learned about an accordion in 5 minutes (45 seconds?) Thanks, Alex!

Jeff Henry‘s How to Convince a Politician to Change His or Her Mind – Jeff was my Student Leadership Program facilitator, and I was surprised to see him here. However, I thought his timing was spot on, and he made a very interesting point. It makes people like me who doesn’t like politics to think about politics in a different light. I think he should do more of his talk to others to get more experts involved with politics!

Peter Huang‘s Geek Music – The best description of a House DJ ever, “musicians who look like they’re checking email all night” ROTFL! I already appreciate House music, but now I appreciate the artists even more!

Ramy Nassar‘s A Reverse History of Pranks – This talk made me quite nostalgic because I went to UBC. I dated/met/know a few engineers from UBC, but I didn’t know how infamous they were with their pranks! Another great speaker.

Erica Waugh
‘s In a Roundabout Way – I’ve already read about the benefits of roundabouts in Tom Vanderbilt’s book Traffic, which I highly recommend (to the more nerdy types like me who’ll read heavily researched book in an easy-to-read form.) It was cool to see someone so passionate about things commuters take for granted! (From Erica’s talk; Did you know that some roundabouts are designed to be driven over by large vehicles? Awesome!)

Brendan Lowther‘s Geocaching – Best Improvisation and Most Entertaining award goes to Brendan for sure. For some reason, almost none of his pictures showed up on the slides so he did the talk “blind.” But he had such a good humor about it that the audience laughed along with him, and we all ended up having a great time. I’ve done geocaching so this wasn’t new to me, so too bad he couldn’t connect with more people because of the technical difficulties. Nice work though!

Would I go to the next one? Of course! My new goal in life is to do an Ignite talk myself!

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2 Ways to Get Free Desserts

1) The “complain until they compensate” way

Go to a chain restaurant that you always go to where you always order the same thing on the menu. Be picky and particular and don’t just order what’s on the menu; make sure to “spice things up” for the waiter and cook by ordering fries well-done or banana bread on the side or salad dressing on the side. The point of ordering the same thing is so you know how exactly it’s supposed to come out. Challenge the service people so there are chances that they will get your order wrong.

When the order comes out wrong (and you know because you eat here all the time and always order the same thing), nicely complain/state your concerns to the manager. If there are more than, say, 3 things wrong (because you’ve made it complicated or there are more people with you), and you order dessert at the end, you’ll probably get a FREE DESSERT.

2) The “just be positive and happy” way

Go to a small restaurant at the end of the day where you’ve never been to before and order new things on the menu. On your way in, embarrass yourself and then make fun of yourself to the waiter the entire night. Have a good laugh with your friend and actually laugh out loud. Smile and be positive. Enjoy yourself and the excellent food they serve.

Eventually, the waiter will tell you that you’ve been so positive and laughing so that other customers are feeling the positive energy, too, and you’ve rejuvenated him after a long day. Then he just offers you FREE DESSERT on the house!

Both these things happened to me on the same day. My friend did the former (nothing of mine came out wrong and I don’t usually go to this chain restaurant) while another friend of mine and I did the latter. Same results but with a more positive experience along the second way.

Emotional contagion and positivity is good, everyone!

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