A Sunday stroll through Ballard with Stephen Baxter, chatting about one of his favorite things: sneakers.Read More
Reflecting on a fully present experience in Cuba.Read More
I cannot emphasize how much meditation has helped me find a little bit of calm in a mind that is constantly bouncing around. Since I'm going through a career transition right now, my mind is racing in 1000 different directions about what my life should be and what I hope to become and all this other existential nonsense. I feel very wound up, almost a little restless cause I've got so much excitement about where my life could go but also exhausted cause I cannot turn my mind off.
On the mornings I'm not late for work, I spend 10 minutes meditating via my Headspace app. I light some lavender incense, and pick up where I left off from the day before. I'm currently working through a "Managing Anxiety" series, which has shown me how meditation is an exercise in awareness of your present environment combined with a focus on the breath. I have found this focus on the breath super helpful in establishing an intentional connection to my body, and this mind/breadth/body connection has really helped ground me in the here and now.
Mediation has helped me realize that there’s nothing more reliable than the present, as it’s here for you now and everyday. The present does not afford you the ability to set any expectations, enabling you to accept and embrace where you are rather than let non-constructive worrying consume you. Meditation has given me the space to discover how these ideas show up in my day to day life, and also serves as a daily practice to remind myself of these truths.
I know I've gotta slow down and embrace where I'm at even if I'm pondering where I'm going. The two aren't mutually exclusive, and they can be in happy balance with each other especially with a meditation practice that gives you space and perspective. It's super easy too with apps like Headspace that provide guided meditations so you can learn the methods as you go (and if you're hesitant about the cost, you can always try it out first). Especially if you're going through any transition, I would encourage you to give it a go and see if it might help you connect more deeply with your present self (and perhaps even experience other benefits like decreased anxiety and increased attention).
Net net - I've been going through some big transitions and meditation has helped me find peace in my anxious mind. Maybe it could help you too.
A soul charging weekend on the beachfront of LA.Read More
Some musings on accessibility, and the role people without disabilities have to make the world a more inclusive place.Read More
Profile and shots of my buddy Max.Read More
Peanut butter and jelly, coffee and cigarettes, moodin and groovin. 5 tracks to energize you this week.Read More
A curated list of events, restaurants/bakeries, local attractions, and new things Jiaxin will be trying out in the month of January.Read More
3 benefits of crystal quartz.Read More
A curated list of events, restaurants/bakeries, local attractions, and new things Jiaxin will be trying out in the month of November.Read More
A recap of my two weeks in beautiful Thailand.Read More
A reflection on some of the things I've learned during the first year in my new home.Read More
5 album covers and a self portrait:
- I Don't Know You by The Marias Psychedelic funk is my new favorite genre.*
- Magic by Rayana Jay I just want to get up and cha cha whenever I've got this playing.
- Overnight by Parcels Reminds me a bit of Daft Punk, with more lyrical diversity.
- Try / Effortless by dvsn Wow I just learned that dvsn is short for "division", which is also how it's pronounced. Huh. Everyday is a school day.
- Summer Days by Rhye This says it all: "Summer days fall away, can I just make you stay?"
Get the good stuff via the player below or in a web browser here.
*Denotes this week's favorite
With their packs filled and excitement high, a crew of 13 young and attractive wanderers set out to find the perfect campsite for their leader Kate’s birthday. Firewood, beer, and foil-wrapped meals lined the insides of their 65L Ospreys as they began the 1.5 mile trek out to Nordhouse Dunes.Chatter fills the air. People weave in and out as walking tempos change, leading to new connections and conversations. We feel our hiking boots softly hitting the sand while catching glimpses of the lake, as well as the familiar burn in our calves that accompanies a dune hike. Everyone’s flirting with the idea of running into sweet sweet Lake Michigan as sweat drips down our foreheads, but we all know the delayed gratification will be worthwhile.Michigan is a magical place. And there’s nothing that characterizes the Great Lakes state more than miles and miles of Lake Michigan coastline kissing sandy dunes. Cotton ball clouds line the upper troposphere and watch over us as we stake out our spot and begin setting up. Tents up, rain covers on, sleeping pads and bags out – we establish some mental semblance of home for our temporary stay in the wilderness. Indeed, this will be our community gathering area for the next 24 hours, where we will eat, drink, and laugh together around a fire.We’ve set up our home base, and we’re ready to hit the water. It’s one of those days, those perfect 70 and sunny days where you spend all daylight hours in your swimsuit on the beach. I sprint out to the water, kicking up sand and little stones in the process. Lake Michigan is sacred. There is NOTHING like swimming in one of the biggest freshwater lake in the world, surrounded by clear blue skies. The beauty and calm combined with unbelievably safe swimming conditions unlocks an overwhelming sense of serenity and peace. There’s nothing more awakening than the constant switching between swimming in the cool lake and laying on out on the warm sand.I soon hit that point where dinner time is on my mind. We cook, we eat, we burn popcorn – our night is young.The seemingly endless sunshine is, however, about to come to its conclusion for the day. Stomachs full and beers cracked open, we find ourselves back on the beach where we were earlier, this time donning sweaters and pants instead of swimsuits. Ahead of us is the blue of the lake and sky, temporarily split by a narrow beam of soft setting sunlight. We share an embrace, a few drinks, and a view of incredible clouds scattered across the sky as the sun completes its baton handoff to the moon.The night is getting darker, and our small community returns to home base where the fire we started for dinner is still going. Collective experiences, storytelling, camaraderie and love shape our final night cap.
Goodnight friends – until our next Nordhouse dream together.
I missed my weekly mood & groove cadence last week and I'm almost certain you didn't notice.
In any case, it's back this week. Some tracks to re energize your commuting and focus mode playlists.
- History by Cosmo's Midnight Nothing more current than some Australian Twins bringing you electronic music infused with R&B.
- Real Life by Duke Dumont Your workweek kicker is here. Here's a stimulant free way of increasing your heart rate.
- City of No Reply by Amber Coffman* Samba-esque beat with resonate female harmonies.
- Hard to Say Goodbye by Washed Out V different from Feel It All Around.
- While We're Young by Jhene Aiko A chill end to your night.
Click click here for this week's magic.
*Denotes this week’s favorite
Been sick all weekend, as reflected in the more mellow picks in this week's lineup. Happy Tuesday folks.
- Days with You by Snakehips Upbeat kicker for your Tuesday morning.
- Broken Clocks by SZA* Her most recent interview with Vogue hinted that this might be both her first and last LP - I sure hope she's just teasing cause this album is FIRE.
- Apocalypse by Cigarettes After Sex Brooklyn based ambient pop group, delivering some top notch tunes for a Seattle rainy day (or really any day).
- Perfect Places by Lorde If you never gave Lorde a chance because you thought Royals was overrated, I sincerely hope you reconsider.
- Don't Believe by Slow Dancer Just a pretty boy with his pretty tunes.
Open the web player here.
*Denotes this week’s favorite
My recent jams have been exploring the vulnerability of stumbling and falling.
- Some Mistakes by Anna Wish* The hook in this song explains it all: "I don’t mind making some mistakes"
- Falling by Drama Duo First off, this album is KILLER. Wow. This was one of those gems that makes exploring new music so freaking enjoyable.
- Falling by Forever Two songs with the same title in one playlist? That’s what I thought and that's what inspired the theme. Working bottoms up. Techno techno techno!
- Undercover (Coucheron Remix) by Kehlani/Coucheron But it don't matter no, cause I got you!
- Biking (Solo) by Frank Ocean
Check out this week's top 5 on my June 2017 playlist:
*Denotes this week's favorite
After a long hiatus we are bringing Man Crush Mondays BACK! Aside from being an Instagram hashtag of attractive men, it is also a featured series on Jiaxin Machine where I showcase some of the awesome guys in my life.
This week highlights a fellow Wolverine, Daniel, who I met my freshman year. Daniel and I brushed shoulders a lot in the Winter garden, the main lobby of our only somewhat pretentious undergraduate business school. We ended up in a lot of the same classes due to our major, and I remember Daniel always chiming in to class discussions with solid contributions (I'm sure you had 100% for all participation grades).
What makes Daniel and I connect is that he's willing to be vulnerable with me. At a time where we're all trying to figure out what it is that we want in life (career? love? grad school? promotion?), Daniel is always happy to get real with me. Every other sentence ends with either me or him locking eyes and saying "YESS!", while laughing of course.
Daniel is both determined and empathetic. I think his way of dressing subtly captures that: dark blues and blacks, combined with soft grays and turquoises. Intense yet calm, you can see it in his eyes.
Daniel currently works as a consultant so I see him once in a blue moon. But that's partially what I'm appreciating in my post graduate adult life right now: friends that you know love you and are thinking about you even if you don't see them all the time. Catch ya in like July Daniel?
5 tunes kickin on my Spotify right now:
- Sleepless by Girlpool (Heads up they're on tour, in Seattle on Fri 5/26) Girlpool knocks it out of the water with some strong and hella playful female vocals.
- Lose My Cool by Amber Mark* If the rhythm doesn't hit you then you're probably an impenetrable human. If you don't find yourself groovin by 1:20 then I have failed you as a tunes curator and I deeply apologize.
- Want You Back by Haim The Rockenhaim trio does it again. The oh so familiar vibes of Days Are Gone.
- Poolside by Baynk Nice, chill, easy.
- Home by J.Lisk Also nice, chill, and easy.
*denotes this week's fave
Metaphors provide relatable and simple frames of reference to help me interpret my life. Understanding a metaphor, however, is a completely separate phenomenon from experiencing a metaphor.
For example, my freshman year I joined the ballroom dance team and learned how to tango. And as I became more and more invested in improving my dancing, going from no dance experience to competing at national competitions, I learned many key lessons:
- You cannot ballroom dance by yourself
- You cannot place in a ballroom dance competition by yourself
- You cannot achieve any sort of dancing success solely by yourself
Indeed, as some might say - it takes two to tango, the takeaway being that prioritizing partnership and collaboration is essential to success. It's a wildly simple metaphor, but it didn't really become meaningful until I actually experienced it.
I had this happen again to me this past week. On a sunny Sunday afternoon, my roommate Carlton and I decided that yes, THIS is the day we are going to take up gardening. A few hundred dollars of plants and soil later, we got to work with arranging and potting. It got me thinking about the gardening life metaphor and the act of uprooting ourselves, of picking up everything in our lives and then transplanting and plopping down somewhere else.
With every lily, daphne, cactus, or whatever plant I was working with, I just couldn't help but think how much I could relate to these plants that were being uprooted from their store packaging and transplanted to a new home. I am literally uprooting these plants, gently coaxing them out of their basic greenhouse packaging and into a beautiful ceramic planter. And I'm just holding my breath, hoping my new babies are having a good transition and will ultimately find their new homes comfortable enough to grow and flourish.
I am a flower in the exact same situation! Or tree, or weed, or whatever plant you can relate to.
8 months ago I packed everything up, said see you later to people I love, and posted up in Seattle. I tried to make sure my growing conditions were optimized accordingly: a comfortable bed, a good social group, somewhat balanced meals, and of course prioritizing work life balance to prevent myself from complete corporate madness. And indeed, similar to my plant babies, I'm holding my breath hoping that I'll find my new home comfortable enough to grow and flourish.
In the next couple of weeks, the weather will get warmer and the rain a little milder. A lot of my new plants will bloom, reaching their full beauty as the joyful anticipation of summer wafts through their petals. As the flowers bloom, I hope you and I do too. You, also being a young 20 something in a transitional life stage, unsure of what the worst could be while still hoping for the best. It's an interesting gray space to be in.