Small Talk

Little girl. Big thoughts.

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Big Labels, Small Price Tags

It’s no secret that my eyes are bigger than my wallet. One tactic that I’ve decided to try is to downgrade my designer obsession into a few small, low-cost pieces. That way, I get the same glamor of owning a label, without paying a heavy price. Going into it, I didn’t realize how fun this challenge would be. I was proud of the results, and these pieces are now my favorite finds of all time! Take a look:

Designer Under $50

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Don’t Look Down.

From Etsy seller Champignons

New Yorkers have a habit of always looking down.

I could never explain it; I could only be ashamed that I rarely recognized buildings that I’ve passed by a million times in my childhood.

I never knew why this was, why we were always so afraid of fully realizing ourselves in the context of the city. Maybe it’s because there’s too much stimuli. There are too many other people: moving, talking, Too many possibilities: walking into someone, getting run over by a bicyclist.

Too many risks?

For me, risk was the defining word of 2012. In May, I agreed to marry the man of my dreams. In July, I moved back to my hometown of Manhattan. In November, I left the safety and security of a job I loved to pursue a new opportunity. Each of these changes opened a new and exciting chapter in my life – and every day, the consequences of these decisions help me grow into a stronger, smarter person.

Yet, even in light of all this change, there’s still room for resolution. There are still possibilities to explore and potential to unlock. There are, of course, the usual suspects – eat healthier, exercise more, save money – which all seem more urgent with a wedding right around the corner. But there’s still a bigger story to tell, a New Year’s Resolution that presides over the other resolutions…

I am making “commitment” the defining word of 2013.

Commitment seems like a fitting word, considering that I am committing my life to the man I love in September. Commitment to others and commitment to myself are both very important to me, and here’s how I plan on achieving it: by not only setting goals, but quantifying them and assigning deadlines. (I didn’t come to this conclusion on my own; my new boss, Cristy, inspired this approach.)

Here’s what I’ve committed to so far:

  1. Drink only 3 cups of coffee a week; replace urges for caffeine with tea.
  2. Go to the gym at least 3 days a week.
  3. Write a piece of long form content (blog post, short story, etc.) at least once a week.
  4. Create something (art, music, etc.) at least once a week.
  5. Finish writing a short story – beginning to end – monthly.
  6. Finish reading a book – beginning to end – monthly.
  7. Join a community service project monthly.
  8. Reach out to and make plans with someone I haven’t seen in years.
  9. Write down everything that happens each day in my datebook.

And finally, don’t look down. Not in the literal sense, but in the metaphorical sense: take risks. I’m making a commitment to really experience and enjoy my life, and fully immerse myself in this great city and this big world that we live in without looking down.

From Etsy seller Parachute 425


My Mother Is Not Like Your Mother…And I’m Okay With That.

Try and convince me that this isn’t the most amazing outfit ever.

It’s one of those things that people tell me change with age.

My close friends are well aware of my less-than-ideal relationship with my mother. They’re usually around for the bitter phone calls through gritted teeth, that almost always end in sharp good-byes. They brace themselves for my profuse apology, followed by a brief explanation of the conversation. I feel it necessary to provide this context; after all, I don’t want to appear disrespectful.

To be honest, our relationship has come a long way from where it was in my tumultuous teens. The only way that I can explain that period of rebellion is a combination of hormones and the fact that I was becoming increasingly social – which meant that I was meeting my friends’ mothers, and using them as a point of reference to judge my own.

Anyone who’s met her immediately can tell that my mother’s not the lovey-dovey type. She’s not one to greet my friends with fresh cookies and warm milk. In fact, she’s not even one to greet my friends. My mother was the kind of mother to shoot me a disapproving glare when she saw me having fun – a glare that meant “I hope you finished your homework” or “your time would be better spent studying for the SATs.”

I rarely visited home during college, which afforded me a few years of maturing and soul-searching. Every time I made a new friend was another opportunity to tell the story – my mother’s story – and another opportunity to understand her.

My mother in the Seventies.

My mother was the youngest of ten children, growing up in a very poor part of the Philippines, which we used to visit when I was younger. The house was a two-story concrete structure without proper doors, windows, or plumbing. Neighborhood cats, lizards, and mosquitoes would roam freely in and out of the crowded residence. As a child, my mother knew that her destiny was elsewhere. She wasn’t just going to rescue herself from poverty; she was going to rescue the entire family.

She excelled in her studies, went to college, earned a degree in accounting, met my father (a U.S. citizen), emigrated to New York City, and the rest is history.

Me and my mom, 1984

When I was little, I used to accompany her on shopping trips to Bradlee’s, where we’d load up two carts full of clothes, toys, and toiletries to pack into a balikbayan box. Like any child, I didn’t fully understand the gesture, especially because my mother was not keen – I’m being polite here – on buying toys for me and my brother. When I learned that she was also sending money to the Philippines to put some of my cousins, whom I barely know, through college, I grew resentful. I privately accused her of caring more about her family in the Philippines more than she cared about her family at home because of how stingy she was with us – because of the “no, Richie (my brother), you don’t need a Hot Wheels race track” and the “no, Ricky (my dad), we can’t afford that VCR recorder” and the “why do you want new clothes, Kim; you wear a uniform everyday.”

Needless to say, those sentiments are long gone. And while I can’t claim, like so many people out there, that “my mother is my best friend,” I can surely say that she’s taught me so much about life. While she’ll never say these things, her example no doubt has had more impact than her words ever will:

  1. Find opportunities and set goals.
  2. Work hard and sacrifice.
  3. No dream is too big.
  4. Don’t indulge unless it’s well-deserved.
  5. Give back.

When I look at where I am now in my life, my accomplishments and my passions, I can’t deny that a lot of who I am comes from my mother. She’s the woman I can’t have a proper conversation with unless it’s about Filipino soap operas or family gossip, but she’s also the woman that taught me about strength, persistence, ambition, and dedication…and doing it all in style.