A Special Pause In Melbourne

Life always works out if we’re willing to take on the challenges and overcome those obstacles.

When we become “adults," so much of our life turns into a constant “Go, go, go.” Adult responsibilities begin to take over: work deadlines, mortgages, car payments, KIDS… the list is endless. And at the moments when we want to or need to press pause, it seems like the world just can't wait for us.

That’s what life felt like after college in a way. I entered the workforce, had “adult” responsibilities, and went through the motions. Don’t get me wrong, though. I still lived life to the fullest and made sure I had fun. I have no regrets and would do it the same way all over again.

But when I left for Melbourne, I essentially pressed pause on my life. I left the 8 to 5 (or 7 to 4 at Pangea). I left my weekly barre workouts. I left my beautiful apartment. I left my selfless boyfriend… My life in Melbourne was basically a 180 to my life in Boston.

When I first got to Melbourne, I thought I could do what I usually do for a move: find a job, find friends, volunteer… basically build routine. I moved to Melbourne to pursue specialty coffee, so I thought to myself, “Cool, I’ll just get a job at a specialty cafe.” I was wide-eyed, bushy-tailed and felt confident and ready to enter the workforce again.

Even though Australia is an English-speaking country, it is culturally very different from America. And when it comes to coffee culture, Melbourne is in a league of its own.

Things didn’t go as I expected the first month I touched down. It was the peak of backpacker season, so jobs were scarce. I learned having a working holiday visa with no coffee experience wouldn’t get me anywhere in specialty. The place I was hoping to stay for my entire time in Melbourne could also no longer accommodate me. Finding routine was not going to be as easy as I thought it would be.

I believe that life always works out, but someone I met said it more tangibly: life always works out if we’re willing to take on the challenges and overcome those obstacles. Despite the stress, I was meeting new people, open to new experiences, and soaking in as much of Melbourne as possible. By the end of my time in Melbourne, I had a job doing what I love, lived in a two-bedroom house with a fireplace and a yard (!) with my best Australian mate, had a very Australian Holden ute at my disposal, and learned a ton about coffee, perhaps more than I ever would have working at a cafe. If someone would’ve told me those things were going to happen six months prior, I would have shook my head in disbelief, especially driving the ute part.

It sounds so cliche, but life truly is a journey, and on that journey, you meet a lot of people along the way. When I reflect on my time in Melbourne, it was amazing because of the people that made it all possible. The Australian Holden ute, for example, was my friend’s car, who I met at the bar of Aunty Peg’s. I got my marketing job through my Workaway host, who introduced me to her sister who eventually became my boss. I found a volunteer opportunity because I decided to join a coworker for a casual lunch where we ate at a non-profit restaurant. These were all people who helped me establish roots in Melbourne and constantly looked out for me. Although Melbourne was the farthest I’ve ever moved, it was surprisingly the easiest because of these people.

I learned so much from them and in turn, learned so much about myself. It’s the people that make a place, and I’m sure I would have loved any other city if these same people were also there to enrich my life. But since it was Melbourne, Melbourne will always have a special place in my heart.

This coffee and food sabbatical will be coming to an end soon as I make my way home, but I feel so blessed I had the luxury to press pause and re-evaluate my life priorities. I’m excited to get back to the States. I know I’ll have to tackle “adult” responsibilities again, but this time, I feel more ready than ever.

Reflecting on 11/9 Election Aftermath

And to all the young people in particular, I want you to hear this. I’ve spent my entire adult life fighting for what I believe in. I’ve had successes and I’ve had setbacks—sometimes really painful ones. Many of you are at the beginning of your careers. You will have successes and setbacks, too.

This loss hurts. But please, please never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it. It’s always worth it. And we need you keep up these fights now and for the rest of your lives.

To all the women, and especially the young women, who put their faith in this campaign and in me, I want you to know that nothing has made me prouder than to be your champion.

I know that we still have not shattered that highest glass ceiling. But some day someone will—hopefully sooner than we might think right now.

And to all the little girls watching right now, never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world.

I want to post this here because I never want to forget. I never want to forget how close we were to breaking the glass ceiling. I never want to forget if my little girl asks me why it took so long for America to have a female president. I never want to forget to have class and strength even when people want to knock me down. I never want to forget that there is still a lot of good in this country and that more than half of Americans wanted to make history.

After the political fray, we're still here. We're still getting up and going on with our daily routine. The sun is still rising and setting. Heck, even the markets closed higher. But today is a reminder that our country still has a long way to go, and we need to do our best as citizens to move this country forward. And the way to do that is to listen more, care more, and love more.

I wrote in my last post that optimism is at the heart of being American. I still have hope, and I am optimistic that our country will overcome.

Thank you Hillary Clinton for fighting so hard. Thank you for championing young women and girls everywhere. Thank you for being a class act and a model for so many of us. Thank you for sparking a national conversation and starting a fire that will continue to burn bright in me.

A New Adventure Begins!

cōnstantia f ‎(genitive cōnstantiae); first declension

  1. firmness, steadiness, constancy, perseverance
  2. agreement, harmony
  3. (of character) steadfastness, immovability, constancy

My first name is short for Constance, which means "constant, consistent, and steadfast." It's a name that aptly describes my reservations about change. Over the last 26 years, however, I have come to learn that change, though potentially painful, is crucial to my personal growth. I don't think changing for the sake of changing is healthy, but if it helps me gain a new perspective, learn something about myself, or further my skills, then the pain of change is worth it.

Three years ago, I made a huge career and life change by joining an oyster company as its first marketer and moving to Boston to be with Jonathan. Boy, what an amazing ride it has been! Hands down, one of the best decisions of my life, both professionally and personally. I got to pursue my passion in food marketing and build a marketing program from scratch. I got to work for a manager who gave me the freedom to try crazy ideas. I got to spend weekends and holidays with my partner and enjoy Boston summers without college kids! It was three years filled with rare opportunities and amazing experiences I'm blessed to have had, and I will forever look back at that time fondly.

Jonathan super excited to find a horseshoe crab on the farm...

Jonathan super excited to find a horseshoe crab on the farm...


As young people, I think we often take time for granted. "I'll do it tomorrow. I'll do it next year. I'll do it after my next promotion." Lately, though, I've come to accept that time is something we can never get back and soon, we'll be forty with a mortgage, a few kids, and responsibilities we can't neglect. This is not an excuse to shy away from responsibilities, but rather, an acknowledgement that there's less room for risk and error when one has serious commitments.

So, with all that said, I am embarking on another life journey:

For the next year, I will be working and traveling around the world!

Let me answer a few questions right off the bat:

  • I left my job at the oyster company to do this.
  • Jonathan is not coming with me.
  • I will be in Australia for the first 6 months, but I don't have anything lined up yet besides my first month's lodging.
  • After Australia, I plan to travel through Southeast Asia and Europe for the rest of the year, and then return to Boston.

So why am I going?

Before I get into that, I want to mention for the record that deciding to leave my dream job and being apart from Jonathan were really hard decisions. And the fact that I still chose to go on this trip emphasizes how important this is to me.

There are a few reasons why I am going: my desire to work abroad, sightsee, and do something outside of my comfort zone (i.e. not having a plan), but the most important reason is I want to know what's out there. I want to know how Australians prepare their coffee. I want to know how the Japanese appreciate sushi. I want to know what authentic Vietnamese food, supposedly the best food in the world, tastes like! (Can you tell it's very food-focused?) Sure, I could have vacationed to these countries instead, but having a strict return date limits my opportunity to completely immerse myself in a new culture and explore it fully. After all, time cannot be bought.


If you know me well, you know the saying "Curiosity killed Connie" is pretty accurate, so in a nutshell, that's why I'm going. How am I feeling about all this? Ha, scared shitless, but super excited too! Not having a plan or knowing what to expect is not my MO, so this will all be about going with the flow.

As for timing, this goes back to not taking time for granted -- I want to do this while I'm still young. A conversation with my mentor encouraged me to think about it seriously, and I'm so glad I did. I don't want to be the person who will regret not going when I had the chance. I want to be the person who said I did it and was forever changed by it.


Update 9/22/16

Since writing the above post two days ago, my travel plans have already been derailed. Guess I'm being tested to "go with the flow" from the start!

Being a Student of the Internet

Growing up, I was the pedantic and studious nerd. My Asian mother raised me to get good grades, and the modern school system trained me to use textbooks. When I got to college, I continued to strive for those grades on paper, but I knew I was an applied learner. I always valued hands-on or out-of-classroom experiences like internships.

I used to argue with Jonathan about the importance of school. He was always in the camp that school was useless, but I defended it with my honor, arguing that it taught students good work ethic, social skills, and laid a foundation for future learning. As I have progressed farther along in my career, however, I'm starting to see his philosophy. I still don't agree with him completely, but I can't say I’ve used much (or remember much) from my college stats course...

When I started my current marketing role, I had no prior experience developing a marketing program from scratch. I understood what I needed to accomplish and the strategy, but I was unsure of the right tools and tactics. Questions like how many characters are recommended in a subject line or simply how do I do “x” in this application came up all the time. So what did I do?

I Googled it.

Before the internet, I probably wouldn’t have been able to answer many of my questions without taking a class or talking to an expert. It's hard to imagine that age, but these days, so much free information is at our finger tips, and anyone can share an opinion! Yes, it does take time and experience to weed out bad information, but once you develop hound dog senses, the sky’s the limit.

My recent foray into video really got me thinking about how much I learned just by using the internet. With little to no professional video experience (besides operating a DSLR), I decided to take on producing a 24-video series instead of hiring a videographer, whose fees would have blown my budget. I turned to Google and the blogosphere for all the recommended equipment, setups, and techniques. I watched YouTube videos instructing me how to build a cheap DIY teleprompter; I read reviews on the best DSLR lenses for video; I continued to read and watch tons more videos, reviews, and tips for a whole week.

And then it was go time. After purchasing my equipment, I knew there was no turning back. I applied everything I learned (from the internet). And despite my consternation, it’s going really well!

My DIY iPad teleprompter! Made with black foam board, glue gun, a tripod, and geometry. Guess school did come in handy for the measurements...

My DIY iPad teleprompter! Made with black foam board, glue gun, a tripod, and geometry. Guess school did come in handy for the measurements...

Here's my DIY Down and Dirty Lighting Kit setup thanks to Wistia.

Here's my DIY Down and Dirty Lighting Kit setup thanks to Wistia.

I’m currently in the thick of the project – filming every opportunity I have and editing when I have desk time. It’s definitely an iterative learning process, but it’s hands on learning every day. This process has made me realize that unless I was a film major or took a paid course, I probably would not have had the knowledge or confidence to take on this project.

I will be forever grateful for school because there are still many intangible skills the internet can’t teach. I also appreciate and need the accountability that comes with taking a class. But the next time I get an email to attend a seminar I have to pay for, I’m sorry, it’s going straight to the trash.