Hello Beautiful

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Hello beautiful,

This blog has been a neglected space on the internet. I stopped writing when my day-job became unbearable. I was terrified that in some frustration that someone would search me up and utilize my blog against me. I’ve been pretty kosher about what I write about. There are topics that I refuse to discuss openly on the internet. It is not worth losing my livelihood to discuss controversial topics. When you are going through your teenage angst, everything you write is significant and earth shattering. (Not true)

I am at the cusps of my adulthood – at least far enough removed from identifying as a post-graduate any longer. When I was interviewing for a job, this blog was discussed. I never shared the link on my resume and my blog was not even relevant with the position that I was applying for. We discussed my Nike half-marathon post but never got around to discussing my many posts about pursuing happiness and entrepreneurship. It was the most important thing you learn from my blog besides my love for running.

I started this blog out of frustration. I wanted to get out of the re-blogging cycle of Tumblr. There was an audience but I felt out of place there. I was looking for a ‘safe-place’ on the internet to openly discuss my quest to find (a) my career and (b) my own business.  (Jokes on me considering that the blog comes up in a deep internet query for me) Hola, HR folks!

No one ever tells you that life after college is a lonely one. For those who didn’t end up a medical professional, engineer or lawyer – we’re just hoping that we were doing okay by today’s standards. We don’t want to end up on that ‘entitled millennial’ list. We all know that ‘list’ and no one aspires to be on it.

Of course you have your childhood and college friends but everyone gets caught up with their own lives. The catch-up dates/dinners can only give you a glimpse of what we experience every single day.

I started writing again after a few faithful readers asked about my blog’s whereabouts. I never knew that my little window in the internet matter to anyone besides me. Most of them said, ‘I miss your honesty and sincerity.” Thank you, really.

Cheers to another chapter on Sincerely, Malissa.


In Memory of Papi

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Six years ago, we lost our rock – the center of our universe. We miss you, Papi.

Back in July, I was randomly selected to run in the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in San Francisco. I leaped at the chance to run in this half marathon despite it being in Northern California. The Nike Women’s Running Series has been on my bucket list since I started training for half marathons back in college. I spent the next few months running 5Ks and 10Ks around my neighborhood after work. At times, I found it difficult to commit to the long runs on my days off. There were days where I just wanted to come home and lie in bed instead of putting on my running shoes to do hill runs. I somehow managed to get some miles in every week.

When it came down to race weekend, I was nervous. My normal cheerleaders for my half marathons, my mom and siblings, were back at home. I was grateful that Tim was able to join me for this super quick trip to San Francisco. We stayed at the Taj Campton next to the race line. The hotel had wonderful staff and excellent customer service to accommodate with our early check-in and late check out! We placed our things down and headed out to the packet pick-up location.
(race re-cap below)





The air around Union Square was filled with excitement. Everyone was sporting their athletic gear and smiling ear to ear. The packet pick up location was very efficient. Nike eliminated personalization of race bibs to expedite the pick-up process. We bumped into Vimore and Ruby, friends from Southern California, and hung out a bit to take pre-race photos. They are true athletes (Spartan Runs, Ragnar, FULL-MARATHONS, and the list goes on).

For the rest of the day, we spent exploring famous San Francisco. Tim navigated the streets and public transportation systems on his phone. (For some reason or another, I do better navigating in cars than I am on foot) Surprisingly, we managed to walk from our hotel through Chinatown towards Fisherman’s Wharf. We logged in about 10-12 miles of walking that day.

NWM2015-5 NWM2015-6

We tried Sushirrito in the Financial District and it was quite tasty! Although I’ve tried versions of this type of ‘sushi’ in SoCal, I believe this company was the original.





Chinatown in San Francisco was so large! It was an interesting walk through history.


Fisherman’s Wharf had the usual crowd of tourist. We were unable to consume most of the food there – shellfish allergies 🙁

After an entire day of adventures, I hopped into bed with my compression leg sleeves, a bag of ice, and a nice cup of coffee… I really hated the idea of having stomach issues before the half marathon… This is probably a little more than you needed to know. I woke up at 4:50 a.m. and started preparing myself mentally for the long run ahead. This would be my third half-marathon, but I still get nervous at the thought of losing momentum. I had a light breakfast and headed to the starting point – right in front of our hotel.

For the first half of the race I was running between a 10:30/mile to 11:20/mile pace and feeling pretty good about myself. During the last part of training I was hitting the 12:00/mile pace for my run (SoCal has a late summer…). I decided to ditch my plastic bottle at the 3 mile marker because it was cramping my arm. I said my farewell and prayed to God that I had enough water in my system to get through. For the most part, I drank all the water I could when I had the opportunity.

When I approached mile 10, I decided to conserve my energy and power walk towards the end of the hill. I figured that I could sprint the last 3-4 miles without thinking.  At mile 11 where the course loops towards a flat area next to the marina, I got a Charley horse in my foot. For those fortunate to never receive a Charley horse, it’s a muscle spasm on your leg and it hurts like a mother. The only way to get rid of it is to massage it out and stretch the muscle. The muscle spasms continued from mile 11 until the end of the finish line. I stopped and got help from a medic twice. I decided to bite the bullet and walk the rest of the way… even though I really wanted to sprint. It wasn’t worth a ride in an ambulance vehicle and an incomplete race. So I walked and cried a bit due to the pain and the feeling of defeat. The photos below are after the hill. I decided to leave in the photo of my emotional finish line crossing because this was a hard race.

I am glad that I was able to run it and if I am in better shape next summer, I’ll sign up again to challenge my race time.



It’s less than two weeks before Christmas and I’ve haven’t touched my Christmas list. I am apart of the exclusive club of  “Last-Minute Shoppers” that retail companies despise. Oops.

In the midst of my last minute research, I compiled a mini-list of favorite items to give this season.


1. Christmas cards! A handwritten and thoughtful card can be best gift to give and receive. Before you rush out to buy Christmas cards at your local big retailer, consider buying from a local small business based in Orange County. Stress Less Press cards are ideal for the yogis in your life. The cards have cute characters illustrating peace and tranquility in various yoga poses. These cards are guarantee to give an instant smile to a yoga enthusiast because it’s not too often you will find a ‘yoga-inspired’ holiday card in your mailbox!

2.  Moleskines are the Holy Grail to notebooks/journals/planners! I’ve have purchased my fair share of notebooks over the years and Moleskines remain my favorite for jotting down ideas or sketching out photo shoots. It’s one of my favorite things to give people who enjoy drawing or writing! Yes, it’s a very hipster item but the quality of Moleskines are hard to match!

3.  Share a good book! I know it’s pretty silly to have books on a wish list in this day and age. However, I still think books still have a place in our digital society. The words can’t be deleted or edited, it’s there forever!

(I didn’t want to divulge too much since some of my gift recipients read my blog)

#30days #quartercentury

I met Lidi several years ago. We instantly clicked over our interests. We are both Asian American women with a strong interest in photography and food. The thing is – Lidi and I have never met in real life. Lidi lives in Massachusetts and I live in California.  A majority of our conversations happened over Facebook and occasional on Google+ hangout. We’ve always talked about meeting some day but it was uncertain when that day would come.

One thing lead to another, Lidi was on her way to Southern California for a relative’s wedding. Miraculously, we found a way of meeting up (thanks to Emilee). I planned an afternoon trip into the heart of Los Angeles. I am terrified of driving in Los Angeles. The unprotected left turns during peak hours, impatient drivers, parallel parking, mind-numbing traffic at random hours of the day, and lack of familiarity scare me.

I found the courage (somewhere in my back pocket) and drove us into DTLA. Luckily, there was very little traffic in the afternoon. We enjoyed lunch at Urth Caffe and spent the rest of the afternoon exploring Los Angeles through our camera lens. It was a  nice treat to stroll the streets without feeling rushed and bothered by crowds. I hope to have another blog entitled, “When Los Angeles Meets Boston” because Lidi describes Boston as a city worth visiting. (Boston Marathon anyone?)






















This question often meant life or death in my old neighborhood. It was a question that came before a ‘jumping‘ or a shoot-out.

You never wanted to be caught saying the wrong thing.


When the street lights came on, you can hear the popping sounds of guns going in the distance. Sometimes they were illegal fireworks and sometimes they were gunfire. For the latter, the sirens from firetrucks and ambulances would follow if the bullets landed in their intended ‘ targets.’  It was normal.

For a long time, gang violence puzzled me. I never understood what could compel a young man/woman to take part in such heinous crimes and activities. When I moved away for college, I spent a great deal of time researching Southeast Asian gangs. I read graduate theses, watched documentaries, and interviewed former gang members.

In my findings I discovered a common word, survival. 

They needed each other to navigate a world of disadvantages: poverty, poor education, and lack of parental guidance.

Whenever I ask: Would you become a gang member if you can do it all over again? Most responded with regret and shared their childhood dreams.

It was water under the bridge for most former gang members who turned their life around after their teenage years.

(This is a small snippet is from my ongoing project addressing the phrase: Where Are You From?)

Photo taken: Battambong, Cambodia, May 2013

My engagement and promise ring. Credit: Jeannie Mutrais 


More than a year ago, I accepted my boyfriend’s marriage proposal. Like any newly engaged woman, I hopped onto Pinterest and started creating boards for my dream wedding (mason jars, burlap, lace, chalkboard, DIYs, flower arrangements, and the list goes on). I watched every imagined wedding show/movie offered on Netflix.  I spent most of my college years (prior to the engagement) window shopping on bridal websites like, StyleMePretty, TheKnot, and so much more! I even went to great lengths to research and contact “culturally friendly” reception venues.

Then it dawned on me.

We needed to get our priorities straight. I was so wrapped up on creating and planning this fantasy wedding that I ignored the biggest aspect of getting married, a solid foundation. We’ve been in a committed monogamous relationship for over 6 years now.

That’s not our issue. A solid foundation for us is having stability and balance between our work and private life.  I am not a relationship specialist of any sorts but when sh*t hits the fans, I want to be ready for it. I think a ‘longer engagement’ would benefit us in the long run.

The Mister brought up a great point,  “We should enjoy this new stage in our relationship as long as we can.” It totally clicked – despite my incessant need to get married, this will be the only time in our lives we can truly enjoy ourselves, without a mortgage or children.

So we’re taking our sweet time with this stage. Don’t get me wrong, we are still getting married! Just not in the immediate future.

(Still available for a bridesmaid  position until then!)



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Several months ago, my friends went on a ‘100 days of happiness‘ challenge. I loved the idea but I could never commit to something like that. I still have that issue with managing countdowns for social media. I decided to do a countdown until my 25th birthday. No, I don’t celebrate my birthday for an entire month. I  find the idea of scheduling lunch/dinner outings a bit tedious? I rather have everyone over for old fashion BBQ and a good board game. OR I can run another half-marathon for my birthday… That’s my fun for you. My 100 day challenge is to finish what I started:

1. Writing out a 5-year Business Plan

2. Writing out a 5-year Life Plan (Career, Wedding, Pregnancy – all in that particular order)

3. Pitching my ideas to magazines/online publications that I’ve dreamed of

4. Re-doing my portfolios (writing and photography)

5. Hanging out with people I’ve lost contact with

6. Running faster and stronger than ever

7. Getting into crow pose (life goal)

8. Writing every single day in whatever form (digital or print)

9. Spending quality time with my loved ones

10. Thanking people who have supported me 110% through my identity crisis (seriously, who AM I?)

I’ve been in this weird funk lately and I am hoping to get my act together in the next 100 days.  Scary.

I am a data junkie! I want to know the stats, trends, and frequencies of everything I am doing – including my fitness routines! I decided to invest in a heart rate monitor after learning how inaccurate my calories “burned” really was on exercise equipment. polar_ft40_2 Prior to purchasing a Polar FT40 Heart Rate Monitor (HRM), I had an iPod Nano and iPhone with the Nike+ app installed. In general, I really enjoyed using the app for my runs and half-marathon training. I was able to sync my runs online and see a chart of how my runs were progressing. The technology remains exceptional in my book. However it lacked one major feature – a heart rate monitor.

Why does it matter?
For folks who are trying to lose weight regardless of the amount, the rule of thumb is that you would need to have a deficit of 3,500 calories to lose 1 lb. of body fat. It’s a lot trickier than it seems. Depending on your body type, age, and gender, you will need to adjust your weight loss methods to meet your goals. The watch will offer some insight to how many calories you burn during a particular workout. We naturally burn and metabolize calories throughout the day so it goes beyond your workout session! polar_ft40 Why I chose to buy a HRM?
I really debated my choice for several months before hitting the “Add to Cart” button. My other choice was a Garmin GPS watch with a HRM because I used to run 3-4 times a week outdoors. However, the watch was outside of my post-grad budget. It’s nice to have but my iPhone can do the GPS part. I sacrifice the fancy gadget and went with the bare essential Polar HRM that I can use for different workouts beyond running.

The neat thing is that a lot of local gyms have equipment that uses Polar synchronization. Just hop on a Polar integrated equipment and the display will link up with your watch! I have worn this watch out during my runs and even at my half-marathon in January. I burned about 1920 calories in 3 hours (warm-up, half-marathon, and cool-down)! I enjoyed comparing effective calorie burning vs. fat burning exercises! I found out that yoga burns more fat than running despite the low “calories burned!”

Buy the watch if you:
a) Enjoy making personal challenges to meet your health/fitness goals
b) Plan to wear the watch when you exercise
c) Need motivation to get off the couch
d) Are a fellow fitness data junkie

Don’t buy this watch if you:
a) Are a minimalistic gym goer/athlete
b) Are forgetful when it comes to bringing gear to the gym (i.e. headphones and/or iPod)
c) Are not calories conscious


My earliest memory of my childhood was sitting beside my mother as she recited a story that she knew by heart, her life in Cambodia. Everything about it fascinated me. I wanted to know more about the life she left. She willingly told me the grave details of her family’s survival and their journey to America.

Last year, my mother and I visited her hometown in Central Cambodia. My mother had not seen her village since she escaped from Cambodia during the 1970s. The feeling was so surreal. It finally hit me that I was visiting the location of where most of my mother’s stories took place.

Cambodia_May2013-11My uncle drove us in his pick-up truck to a remote village far from the main road and into a desolate region with a few homes and neglected rice paddies. The spot where my mother’s childhood home once stood, now lay barren with sparse patches of grass and a tree that my grandfather planted nearly six decades ago.

We hopped out of the truck and took a moment to reflect on the journey that our family took since leaving this small village. In that moment, I felt that I connected with my family’s history and discovered the root to my passion.

I discovered that I’ve been given this ability to document and share my family’s history with future generations in more ways than one. It’s a powerful gift that continues to give beyond my family. I hope to share more stories with you all in the future.