My last support group didn't go as planned...

How surrender brings new opportunities, living without pain, departing royalty, and exploring life in rural China

Hi friend!

This weekend, I hosted my second queer Asian support group in NYC. When I arrived at the studio to open my event up, I found the door locked. Due to logistical issues, the room was not booked.

I was not prepared to have a back-up and was at a loss of what to do. As my peers started gathering, I got extremely flustered and, in frustration, started spiraling into the blame game in my mind.

"It was someone else's fault."
"It was my fault."
"If only I did this."

Regardless of whose fault it was (and I take full responsibility for not having the space confirmed), the blaming was not doing anything constructive. It drove me further away from what needed to happen, which was to find a space to accommodate a group gathering immediately. As my support group members stood around patiently, I was running around in circles trying to make sense of what was happening.

And something else happened.

Somewhere between "omg they will never return" and "let's just give up," my maternal instincts kicked in. I realized that I just had to make something happen. It didn't need to be glamorous, spacious, or anything in particular. But there was one requirement my heart told me: warmth.

Coincidentally, I had been frequenting a nearby restaurant, and the staff had just started to remember my face. I vaguely remembered the large sitting area in the back, and I told myself that it was worth a shot. I brought my support group to my favorite vegan Chinese restaurant, and everything ended up falling together perfectly. We got seated during dinner rush hour, had a feast, and collectively dove into a deep discussion on queer Asian stereotypes. I really enjoyed this unconventional style of hosting a support group, and something worth exploring in the near future.

I left the event with a sigh of relief and satisfaction. Whatever happens, things will always work out. In myself and the world around me, I trust.

The lesson this week?

  1. Creating connections in unexpected places will yield superheroes in the most unlikely circumstances.

  2. In surrender, we open ourselves up to opportunities that we would never have thought to explore.

If you are a queer Asian in town for our next support group happening February 9, please come join. Our topic is love and relationships. I promise to have the space sorted out by then. Or at least roll with the flow and partake in another spontaneous field trip. 😏

My next event will be for everyone to attend. I'm looking for large spaces to host a talk/panel. If you know of any affordable space in New York City that can host 50 people during weekday evenings or weekend afternoons, please let me know! 🙏 (You can reply to these emails directly to get in touch with me)

For future note, my events will never be inaccessible to those who may not have the financial resources. If there is ever a price tag on anything I create, please reach out to me to talk about sliding scale payments or scholarships. But as of now, the only event I host is Yellow Glitter Sparkles, which is entirely free and will stay free. No donations. No subscription. Just attendance and attention.


A World Without Pain

What would life be like if we could never feel pain? For Joanne Cameron, that is her reality.

"Because of a combination of genetic quirks, Cameron’s negative emotional range is limited to the kinds of bearable suffering one sees in a Nora Ephron movie. If someone tells Cameron a sad story, she cries—“easily! Oh, I’m such a softie.” When she reads about the latest transgression by Boris Johnson or Donald Trump, she feels righteous indignation. “But then you just go to a protest march, don’t you? And that’s all you can do.” When something bad happens, Cameron’s brain immediately searches for a way to ameliorate the situation, but it does not dwell on unhappiness. She inadvertently follows the creed of the Stoics (and of every twelve-step recovery program): Accept the things you cannot change."

Megxit from Racism

If you haven’t heard already, Meaghan Markle and Prince Harry have departed from the royal family. The Atlantic did a stunning piece on the royal couple’s exit.

"Harry has always been a royal rebel: smoking cannabis, partying in Las Vegas, admitting how close he came to a breakdown. With his wife by his side, he may now be making his most significant contribution to the royal family—by walking away from it."

But even more than that, Buzzfeed News recently published an article showcasing the differences in headlines between Kate Middleton and Meaghan Markle based on almost the same exact news. This is what people of color face every single day.

Traditional Life in China

I first discovered Li Ziqi when she published a video of makeup she had created from scratch. In just a few years, she has grown to over 8.4M followers on YouTube, and over 50M on Chinese social media. She builds furniture out of fresh bamboo, makes a comforter out of silk from silkworms she raised herself and creates traditional desserts and cuisines I've never seen before.

As always, thanks for reading!

P.S. If you enjoyed this, share or sign up here: mindfulmoments.substack.com

Anything else? You can always hit "reply" to email me directly. 💌

Have a beautiful day!

Metta (loving-kindness),
Steven

Yellow Glitter Podcast | IG | YT | FB | TW | StevenWakabayashi.com

My New Year's Resolution for 2020

Finding balance with my work, how to emotionally manipulate, questioning our reality, and finding what we are most grateful for

Hi friend!

As a part of looking ahead and into the new year, I set New Year's resolutions. I pick a single word (or simple phrase) that can be easily remembered and applied to different aspects of my life.

In 2019, my resolution was mindfulness. In 2018, it was letting go. (Wow, flashback videos, right?)

This year, my resolution is balance.

As I dive in deeper with my work on activism and mindfulness, I’ve found myself strapped for resources, without enough time, energy, or money to do everything I want. As a one-man show, a weekly newsletter, podcast, video, social posts on top of my day-to-day design work was simply impossible. I only have two hands, 24 hours, and a body that needs rest and nourishment.

To do the things that I haven’t done before, I have to give up things that are taking up my resources today. And because “giving up” sounds a bit harsh, my resolution this year is to find balance as I introduce new content into my repertoire.

My life is comprised up of seven pillars: career, personal growth, mindfulness, finance, health, relationships, and play. Across all of these areas of my life, I set up time-blocks with minimums and maximums to ensure that other areas of my life don’t go ignored or take over my schedule.

For example, because I tend to spend too much time with others (relationships), setting a maximum weekly allowance ensures that friend and family time doesn’t come as a sacrifice to my career and mindfulness work. And because finance and personal growth get de-prioritized first when I am extremely busy with work, I have daily and weekly check-ins set up to ensure that they are not long-forgotten.

My biggest learning opportunity this year is to balance my content creation with my day-time work. I shouldn't need to leave my job in order to continue my podcast and weekly writings. It just takes a bit of “balance” to find a happy medium. 🙂 

What are your New Year’s resolutions?

By the way, if you are a queer Asian in NYC next Sunday (January 12, 2020), I have a free mindfulness support group happening in Soho. Registration is free and space is limited, so please RSVP to hold your spot!


Emotional Manipulation

YouTuber Bobby Burns made a really great video talking about how we can be emotionally manipulated with videos. As we see more influencers and celebrities hopping on the trend of being more "authentic" (because over-manufactured content was so yesterday), it might be worth asking ourselves... what becomes the distinction between something real and a facade?

The Illusion of Reality

Recently listened to a podcast episode on the Sam Harris show, where he brought on his wife Annaka and author Donald Huffman, to have a discussion about the truth behind our reality.

They discuss how evolution has failed to select for true perceptions of the world, his “interface theory” of perception, the primacy of math and logic, how space and time cannot be fundamental, the threat of epistemological skepticism, causality as a useful fiction, the hard problem of consciousness, agency, free will, panpsychism, a mathematics of conscious agents, philosophical idealism, death, psychedelics, the relationship between consciousness and mathematics, and many other topics.

A great example of how reality “twists” happens when we use our phones. As soon as we pick it up, we are instantly transported into the digital world of our apps. If all we saw was “reality”, we wouldn’t be able to see past the piece of metal in our hands. Very interesting podcast for anyone interested in these types of meta discussions.

Year-End Reviews

Lifehacker has some great tips on how to do a year-end review. The most insightful question of the bunch?

“What were you most grateful for in 2019, and how can you take that into 2020?”

As always, thanks for reading!

P.S. If you enjoyed this, share or sign up here: mindfulmoments.substack.com

Anything else? You can always hit "reply" to email me directly. 💌

Have a beautiful day!

Metta (loving-kindness),
Steven

Yellow Glitter Podcast | IG | YT | FB | TW | StevenWakabayashi.com

Thank you for being by my side this year

My 2019 ending was not a part of my initial goals, one of my favorite books of this year, 52 lessons of 2019, top articles on race, having what it takes

Hi friend,

Has it really been a year already?

We left everything to travel the world, sat in silence, cried on a retreat in Thailand, gardened in the South of France, had so many revelations and walk down memory laneslaunched a podcasttook a last-minute trip to Burning Man, moved back into New Yorklaunched a monthly support group, and had an article on racism go viral.

If you are new to this newsletter, welcome. These are some of the highlights of my travels this year. (TLDR) 2019 in a nutshell: I left my job to study meditation throughout the world this year and ended up back in NYC to start my own mindfulness projects.

If you’ve already been following, especially from the beginning, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I am so humbled to have you on this journey with me.

Looking back when I first left on this trip, I would never have imagined where I would be today. To be honest, I was imagining a very different future. Mindfulness was going to just be one side project while I pursued other tech projects that I have incubated over the past few years.

Will I get to those one day? Maybe. But for now, I have a strong calling in the space of mindfulness, meditation, and spirituality that I want to spend more time exploring.

(2019 goals I wrote in December 2018. Highlighted were my tech startup goals.)

From being extremely burnt out at the end of 2018, unable to survive another week of work, to sitting in two months of silence, I flipped through extremes desperately seeking my purpose in this world.

In these quiet moments, I found answers that my busy “hustle" life could not provide.

My biggest insight from this year?

Being lost is cannot be simply fixed using external interventions like pharmaceuticals, seminars, and life coaches. In fact, the direction we need lies within us all. By cultivating a relationship with ourselves through self-love, acceptance, and compassion, we can begin to hear the familiar whispers of our intuition that can guide us to where we are meant to go. It’s never too late to start listening to ourselves.

I hope you all have an amazing wrap up to your 2019 and I can’t wait to continue sharing my adventures with you this upcoming year.


A book that left me in tears

In 2015, an unconscious woman was raped on Stanford’s campus. Her name is Chanel Miller.

Chanel’s writing first caught the public eye when Buzzfeed published her final words to her assailant. In just a few days, it became a viral sensation and millions had been moved to tears by her harrowing words.

A few months ago, she published her memoir called Know My Name, which captures her journey throughout the court case. It’s incredible. In fact, incredible doesn’t even cut it. Her prose is absolutely breathtaking and I was in tears during a few parts of the book. It’s rated 4.8 on Goodreads, which makes it the highest-rated book I’ve read all year. (Second highest was Draplin’s design book)

52 Lessons of 2019

Stumbled on a list of 52 interesting facts an author learned in 2019.

Some ones I liked:

  1. Placebos are so effective that placebo placebos work: A pain cream with no active ingredients worked even whennot used by the patient. Just owning the cream was enough to reduce pain.

  1. In the US Northwest, rain can damage the fruit on cherry trees. So helicopter pilots are paid to fly over the orchards, using their downdraft to dry the fruit as it ripens. For the pilots, it’s a risky but potentially profitable job.

  1. A man who bought the personalised number plate NULL has received over $12,000 of parking fines, because the system records ‘NULL’ when no numberplate has been recorded.

A look at race

Take a look at the top ten powerful articles on race by the New York Times.

You have what it takes

"The greatest discovery of my generation is the fact that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind.” William James

As always, thanks for reading!

P.S. If you enjoyed this, share or sign up here: mindfulmoments.substack.com

Anything else? You can always hit "reply" to email me directly. 💌

Have a beautiful day!

Metta (loving-kindness),
Steven

Yellow Glitter Podcast | IG | YT | FB | TW | StevenWakabayashi.com

Lessons from a year of writing weekly email newsletters

Advice from traveling, social media marketing, and starting a weekly newsletter, growing up queer and Asian, falling apart tech, holiday feasts in Asia and just keep going

Becoming a content creator has been quite an adventure this year. For almost eight months of this year, I tried to be “that influencer”. I traveled the world, taking beautiful photos of myself in exotic destinations, perfectly curated in an Instagram timeline (you can scroll through my feed and see).

Although I enjoyed shooting photos, the manufacturing an image of myself based on the tips and tricks I read on social media marketing felt extremely hollow. But as I posted content on my Instagram, my captions started to get longer and longer to express myself.

Earlier this year, I created my newsletter, Mindful Moments, to keep my close friends and colleagues updated on my travels. Every week, I shared photos and thoughts to my small community.

The more I wrote, the more I found pleasure in the craft. Writing could not have been more of the antithesis of what I represented. I am a designer by trade and was also trying to break into the visual world of Instagram.

And this enjoyment came as a huge surprise, especially as someone who has struggled with English all of my life. I scored poorly on all standardized English tests growing up, failed out of my first English class in college, and learned English as my third language.

"I can’t like this, because I wasn’t smart enough to.”

I had never realized that Roman letters would be so therapeutic for me.

A cartoon by Benjamin Schwartz. #TNYcartoons
August 9, 2019

And out of all of my content produced this year, my writing has been the most consistent content. Though I explored photos, videos, and audio throughout this year I’ve been able to write and publish every single week. This issue marks the 51st issue/week of my newsletter of 2019.

With that said, if I were to go back to the beginning of this year and give myself some advice, here are some things I would tell myself on writing and creating content:

  1. Stop judging

It’s too easy to be critical of myself when the rest of the world will do so already. Perfection doesn’t exist. It’s just a point of view. Whether people like it or not depends on many factors outside of my control.

If the writing brings value to my life, it’s something worth exploring. And if it helps people in the process, then it’s something definitely worth pursuing.

  1. Perfectionism is a distraction from the bigger goal

Perfectionism is often a way of avoiding judgment. Especially when I am writing about my deepest thoughts and creating my most heartfelt content, it is natural to shy away from having such intimate content being judged.

Embrace the truth that people will have their unwavering opinions. Perfection will not change those unwilling to embrace in the first place.

Love the work first before expecting others to do so.

  1. Have more faith

As much as I can try to manufacture something quickly, hard work and perseverance build the foundation for future success. I could not predict when my Queer Eye Japan article would blow up, but when it did, I had created so many other things (podcast, videos, and articles on queer Asian perspectives) that its success was almost inevitable.

Trust in the process.
Trust in time.
Trust in me.

  1. Move on and let go

On the days I just can’t get myself to produce content, or facing writer’s block, just let it go and move on. Stop focusing on the days I didn’t produce content and focus more on the future than to create or write something new.

Don’t let yesterday be the shackle of today and tomorrow’s progress.

  1. Focus on my own lane

It is too easy to compare myself to others, especially in writing. There will always be someone better, more popular, and more prolific than me. For some of the bigger writers and content producers, there is often an entire team staffed full-time to the work.

Focus on being the best me that I can be. Stop chasing after others. Instead, start running after my own dreams.

As I explore this evolution of myself, I am looking forward to what’s to come in 2020.

Do you have any interesting revelations from this year?

PS - Announcement! The next Yellow Glitter Sparkles gaysian support group session will be on January 12, 2020. If you are a gaysian in NYC - please come by! This event is free to attend, but spaces are limited. RSVP to secure a spot.


Growing up queer and Asian

I just recently published an article with Queerty on growing up gay and Asian and never feeling “good enough”. This is my first publication with a major LGBTQ digital publication and it feels so freaking amazing!

Tech is falling apart

As we create advancements in technology, we have lagging advancements in ethics and mindfulness, as captured in this NY Times interactive post, highlighting flaws in technology over the past 10 years.

Holiday feasts in Asia

VICE did an interesting photo article capturing different Asian cultures and their feasts during the holidays. It also talks about a really interesting tradition in Japan: KFC for Christmas. (yes, it’s true!)

Just keep going

“Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror. Just keep going. No feeling is final.”
-Rainer Maria Rilke

As always, thanks for reading!

P.S. If you enjoyed this, share or sign up here: mindfulmoments.substack.com

Anything else? You can always hit "reply" to email me directly. 💌

Have a beautiful day!

Metta (loving-kindness),
Steven

Yellow Glitter Podcast | IG | YT | FB | TW | StevenWakabayashi.com

Hosting my first support group for queer Asians

How my first support group went, most useful books of 2019, Instagram face, and the state of podcasting

Hi friend!

This week, I hosted the very first session of Yellow Glitter Sparkles, a support group for queer Asians. As part of the work that I do, including my Yellow Glitter gaysian mindfulness podcast, I also wanted to create a safe space for gaysians to come together, share stories, and heal together. And after being in the space of mindfulness for quite some time, I’ve never seen any group like this before.

Without divulging too much, because one of our core principles is privacy, I will say that the event far exceeded my expectations. The discussions moved me and spoke to me in ways that I have never had any support group do before, and I walked away from the session having learned new lessons, even as the leader.

Two hours was not nearly enough to get to some of the topics that came up during the discussions, and so I put in a request to book spaces for the first half of 2020 to continue the discussion every single month. Stay tuned for more Yellow Glitter Sparkles.

It brings me so much joy to be able to create content and spaces for queer Asians. If it can impact another queer Asian’s life, then all of this effort would have been so worth it. For myself at least, this is everything I wish I had growing up, especially as I struggled to navigate the intersection of my queer, Asian, and American identities.

2019 has been quite a transformational journey, and 2020 will be an even bigger adventure. Queer Asian perspectives matter and I’m beyond ecstatic that we can create content and spaces to celebrate these intersections.


Most useful books of 2019

One of my favorite newsletter writers published the most useful books of 2019.

Social media face

A recent New Yorker article describes the age of “Instagram Face”.

Social media hasn't just taken over our attention, it has taken over our faces. People are striving for unrealistic expectations of the best features of every ethnicity. When it can't be done naturally, modern medicine intervenes.

“We’re talking an overly tan skin tone, a South Asian influence with the brows and eye shape, an African-American influence with the lips, a Caucasian influence with the nose, a cheek structure that is predominantly Native American and Middle Eastern...

The face is distinctly white but ambiguously ethnic—it suggests a National Geographic composite illustrating what Americans will look like in 2050, if every American of the future were to be a direct descendant of Kim Kardashian West, Bella Hadid, Emily Ratajkowski, and Kendall Jenner (who looks exactly like Emily Ratajkowski). 'It's like a sexy . . . baby . . . tiger,' Cara Craig, a high-end New York colorist, observed to me recently. The celebrity makeup artist Colby Smith told me, 'It's Instagram Face, duh. It's like an unrealistic sculpture. Volume on volume. A face that looks like it's made out of clay."

This is somewhat aligned with National Geographic's prediction of what we will look like in 2050.

The state of podcasting

For anyone podcasting, or interested in the landscape of podcasts, this Medium article on 20 podcast predictions for 2020 will be quite a great read.

As always, thanks for reading!

P.S. If you enjoyed this, share or sign up here: mindfulmoments.substack.com

Anything else? You can always hit "reply" to email me directly. 💌

Have a beautiful day!

Metta (loving-kindness),
Steven

Yellow Glitter Podcast | IG | YT | FB | TW | StevenWakabayashi.com

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