This year’s lunar new year celebration was so nourishing and heartwarming, from the video conference with my cute parents and the giant 9-course Vietnamese dinner party, to the guided group meditation, photo-booth antics, and lunar new year themed team trivia (there was a very organized schedule, don’t worry).

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My parents, the first community organizers I’ve ever known, helped me throw a giant dinner party yesterday (possibly the best of all time) for my nearest and dearest Durham community. They drove 12 hours down from NY and spent an entire day cooking and preparing just so that my friends could “know their cooking.”

Also grateful for friends who showered my Mom with flowers and my Dad with red wine (they might never stop talking about how sweet y’all are) and a beautiful summer day to finally christen our giant party porch. Thanks Dad for always reminding me of a simple but vital lesson: “Take care of your community and they’ll take care of you.”

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“In Vietnamese, the nickname for a person’s life partner is “my home”. So, for example, if someone is asked, “Where is your partner?” they might say, “My home is now at the post office.” If a guest said to someone, “That meal was delicious. Who cooked it?” they might answer, “My home prepared the meal” meaning “My partner cooked the dinner”. Every one of us is trying to find our true home … [and] when you’re in a loving relationship, you and the other person can be a true home for each other.” (- Thích Nhất Hạnh)

Grateful to be back in one of our favorite places on this earth, Mui Ne, the land of fairy streams and fairy dreams // layers upon layers and gradients upon gradients of fairy dust // where our off-the-beaten-paths to private sand dune worlds and secret beaches still remain.

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In April 2018, I headed to Vietnam for my first ever sponsored health disparities research / humanitarian photography work trip. It felt like such a personal and professional milestone, to get to go back to Vietnam and do what I love for a place and community that I also love. It was also my 10th trip back to Vietnam in 11 years. That very moment I touch down on land never stops feeling special, like I’m arriving home again and again.

First stop: Saigon.

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Late winter beach trip / vastness & emptiness / iridescent hours / from the beach world to jurassic marsh world / sea textures during l’heure bleue / the earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.

[Travel Diaries from Bald Head Island, NC | March 2018]

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“There are seasons in your life in the same way as there are seasons in nature. There are times to cultivate and create, when you nurture your world and give birth to new ideas and ventures. There are times of flourishing and abundance, when life feels in full bloom, energized and expanding. And there are times of fruition, when things come to an end. They have reached their climax and must be harvested before they begin to fade. And finally, of course, there are times that are cold and cutting and empty, times when the spring of new beginnings seems like a distant dream. Those rhythms in life are natural events. They weave into one another as day follows night, bringing, not messages of hope and fear, but messages of how things are.”  Chögyam Trungpa

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There’s a Japanese concept that I love called ikigai that means “a reason for being” or “a reason to get up in the morning.” According to Japanese culture, everyone has an ikigai. Finding it often requires a deep and lengthy search of self, but it’s usually a sweet spot made from a combination of four things: what you love, what you’re good at, what you can be paid for, and what the world needs.

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“In the end, only three things matter how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.”
I lost one of my best friends this week. I’ve cried more in the last week than I’ve cried in the past ten years. I’ve hugged loved ones longer and tighter than I ever have before. And yet, throughout this full-on grieving process with our close circle of friends, I’ve also experienced such a healing new depth of love.

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