Tag Archives: Happiness

Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies and Post-Guatemala

chocolate gingerbread cookies

I still haven’t blogged about the last couple of days in Guatemala, but since I already started posting recipes, it’s too choppy to go back and finish it off. So, I’ll end that journey off by sharing my thoughts and feelings post-Guatemala.

My first day back in Vancouver

Woke up in bed today with a sinking realization. It finally hit me that I’m not in Guatemala anymore. I’m back in Vancouver and surrounded by inches of snow. No more palm trees. No more rolling hills. No more rooster morning wake up calls. No more Sheily. And worst part of all: no more SOS peeps.

I’m a bit late to this awakening, since most people already cried and spiritually said their goodbyes on our last night in Guatemala City. 

The whole day, I felt like I was just a shell. Empty and hollow. The essence of me was left behind somewhere on the winding paths in Bueno Vista. 

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1 week later

After coming home from Guatemala, my perspective on the world and how I want to live my life has changed. Though I was only there for a little more than a week, the people and culture of that country have left have a huge impact on me that I don’t think will ever fade. 

I think the biggest lesson that I’ve learned is having gratitude and carrying that with you through everyday life. 

A couple years ago, I started my happiness journey. What triggered it? A really unhappy year as a freshman in university. Before that, I never gave much thought to my own happiness. I think I just ran on automode all the time. My goal was to just study 24/7, get the grades, then get that dream job and start rolling in 6 figures. My definition of life and “happiness” was really narrow. Sure, I guess I could go through life living like that, but will I satisfied? Will I ever reach the self-actualization phase that Abraham Maslow was talking about?

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When I embarked on my search,  I started a gratitude journal for me to write one liners and reminders about what I’m grateful for. 

“Today I’m grateful for… emotional learning experiences.”

“Today I’m grateful for… feeling needed and loved by my family.”

“Today I’m grateful for… the sis and bro”

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On shitty days, it’s really hard to find something good to write about. Since I’m a pessimist by nature, I have a tendency to revert to negativity, deconstructing myself in the most harmful way as I critique myself for pages and pages on end.

On good days though, I feel a lot more up lifted after I write. 

These observations tell me two things:

1. The gratitude journal is working.

2. I let external circumstances affect me too much. Bad days I’m sad, angry, regretful, and embarrassed. Good days, I’m motivated, inspired and energized.

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This is where I feel kind of ashamed. One of the things that I noticed about Guatemalans is that they are much happier people than we are. They have less than what we would deem as “the bare essentials”, yet they are some of the most cheerful people I have ever met. Despite having so little, they were more than welcome to share and give, asking for nothing in return. Those three actions, according to writer Gretchen Rubin, cultivate happiness and contentment.

On our last day in Bueno Vista, we visited a small church that was located just uphill of the school we were volunteering at. The pastor said something so beautiful that my friend, Yuki, and I silently held each other as we cried. In his best English, the pastor said: 

Life is about spiritual living conditions, not physical living conditions.

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It’s been 4 years since I began my happiness journey and I felt deeply resonated with that quote. I sat there in the front pew, surrounded by a bunch of new friends who are really more like family at this point, and felt this serene energy grow from within me.

I guess what I’m trying to get at is that I shouldn’t only try to find happiness in one event per day. I should be happy with what I have and find the good in everyday life, not just when I feel like it or when circumstances make it easy for me to do so.

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Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies

1 1/2 cups plus 1 tbsp all purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnmon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg (I used ground nutmeg)
1 tbsp Dutch processed cocoa (any type will do here, it’s just a cookie!)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temp
1 tbsp freshly grated peeled ginger
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar (I used Roger’s best brown)
1/4 cup unsulfured molasses
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp boiling water
7 ounces semi sweet chocolate chunks (I used 8 ounces, just for good measure 😉 )
1/4 cup granulated sugar, for rolling

Sift flour, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves nutmeg and cocoa in a bowl. 

Beat butter and ginger on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add brown sugar, beat until combined. Add molasses, beat until combined.

Dissolve baking soda in hot water in a small bowl.

Beat half of the flour mixture into the butter mixture. 

Beat in all of the dissolved baking soda. Then add in the last half of the flour.

Gently fold chocolate into the dough.

Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. 

Remove dough from fridge and roll into balls and cover with granulated sugar.

Bake for 10-12 minutes and let it cool on the baking sheet before moving. 

Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cookies

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Here comes the waterworks

Soooo… I GOT ACCEPTED INTO DIETETICS!!!!!

I was so happy when I got my acceptance email that I started crying immediately… at work… in front of new coworkers… and I didn’t give a bleep. My friend caught the video of me and I will be forever thankful because that was probably the best moment of my life.

How weird was it for you to finally hear my voice? Ahaha! Was it as you imagined it to be?

Two thoughts after I watched the video:

1. I need to lay off the cake and cookies.

2. 20/5?!?!?! What was I thinking?!?!? It was more like 200000000000000000/5

You guys were some of the first people to hear about my anxiety and nervousness about applying to dietetics. About two years ago, I wrote this post where I fully expressed my self-loathing and feelings of unpreparedness. I hated myself for wasting time and not doing more (volunteering/working etc) to get into the program.

Over these past two years, I kept looking back to that post to remind myself of how bad it felt to be angry at myself. It served as a strong reminder and it was my fuel to keep going because I didn’t want to feel regret ever again. You guys gave me a lot of support and good advice which helped me get through a lot of struggles. Thank you. So so so so so much. I’m really glad to be able to share this good news with you.

I’ve been thinking of ways to reward myself for accomplishing this long-time goal of mine. Cookbook? Nope. Valrhona chocolate? Nah. New set of glass mixing bowls? No. Clothes? Nuh-uh. Not even a new KitchenAid mixer will make me happy because I realized I want something more than materialistic objects.

This ‘something’ that I have been craving is self-worth. For years I have been telling myself that I’m ‘not skinny enough’, ‘not tall enough’, ‘not smart enough’, ‘not pretty’, ‘not deserving of dietetics because there are probably people out there who are so much better’, and the list goes on. I have deprived myself of acknowledgement and compliments because I was afraid that too much confidence would get to my head. I constantly put myself down to stay grounded and continually work towards being better. I was my own and only competitor. I never let myself enjoy any successes because I am a strong believer that there is always more to learn. It’s been really tiring because I never gave myself the chance to stop and look at how far I’ve come. For me, it was always go go go go go, do more, see more, be more. All I want to do is now is to sit back and enjoy the view from here before I start climbing again. 

I’m crying as I’m writing this right now because it feels so liberating to finally tell myself that I AM good enough. I set a goal to become a dietitian, I overcame the pressures of competition, I didn’t let my skeptical parents bring me down, and I thrived through the difficulties of balancing school, volunteering and work. Most importantly, I never lost sight of my goal, even though it took me 3 years to get here.

I did it. I’m finally on my way to become a dietitian and I’ve never been happier. 

 

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