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What’s your type? I’m an INFJ: Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)


extrovert (1)

Many times, I thought I understand the world better than I did yesterday. I thought if I did, it’ll help me to better relate to others, but I was fooling myself.

I know it’s humanly impossible to grasp even the slightest idea of how the world works (even though I always try), so the only way to find meaning behind our existence is through the details: its complex inhabitants that is us humans – us as a collective, us as individuals.

My nature tends to look at the outside world in its totality and try to understand it so I can adjust myself accordingly, when instead I should be glancing inward more than I speculate the outside. Since extraverting is a huge source of my stress, given an extended period of time, this constant adjusting always becomes a problem.

For the born-extraverts, it’s usually the other way around.

You thought you know yourself well enough to relate better with the world than before, but you’re only fooling yourself. Because truth is, when you zoom in from the world at large, you yourself as a human being is one of the greatest mysteries in your life.

Continue reading What’s your type? I’m an INFJ: Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)

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2 powerful herbs for vitality



In most Asian households, meals are often prepared with herbal ingredients that have long been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Mine was no different – while as a kid I used to hate the weird dates, the black chicken essence and all those bitter roots in soups she prepares, I eventually learned to love them since I started cooking. This soup was one example, but there are many more herbs in the Materia Medica that I now ingest regularly. The following are just the 2 I try to take everyday.

Continue reading 2 powerful herbs for vitality

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Do names predict success?

I’m halfway through reading Malcolm Gladwell’s “Outliers: The Story of Success” now, which is a bit late since its 2008 hit for 11 straight weeks in the New York Times Bestseller list. The first half made a point on the successful seizing opportunity, while the other half that I’ve yet to read, discusses about the impacts of their legacy.

What I’ve learned so far is that an outlier, meaning “something that is situated away from or classed differently from a main or related body” or “a statistical observation that is markedly different in value from the others of the sample”, becomes successful in the world because they seize opportunities. They have had helps along the way,  “…and no one – not rock stars, not professional athletes, not software billionaires, and not even geniuses – ever makes it alone,” explains Gladwell. They embrace this trait, aside from possessing the personality, the intelligence, the talent, and the ambition. These are qualities that celebrate a person’s individual merit, which is what most of us think of when judging the successful person.

They’re also lucky people thriving in their generations. If they lived in another time in another place, things would’ve been completely different. So much is predetermined, even when it comes to birth dates. It’s not a coincidence that computer whizzes were born in 1955, and business tycoons were born in the 1930s. The best hockey players were most mostly born in January, February, and March. That got me thinking… What about names?

More and more parents are getting unusual names in this generation compared to earlier generations. Why? In the age of change, we are placing individuality and uniqueness as higher values than ever. Almost a decade ago, when we hear Phoebe’s new name was Princess Consuella Banana Hammock from Friends (Season 9), we think she’s ridiculous, as the way Phoebe has always been. These days, you hear celebrity babies named Kal-El, Blue Angel, and Pilot Inspektor. A young man from Oregon changed his name to Captain Awesome. A British boy changed his name to Captain Fantastic Faster Than Superman Spiderman Batman Wolverine The Hulk And The Flash Combined. Can you imagine someone with a name like that working in a mundane secretarial job?

Whenever I order something at Starbucks and they asked for my name, I often say “Michelle” or “Lucy”, just for the sake of simplicity and that I don’t have to spell out my name plus repeating myself.

My name is Stacia, and I’ve always believed that I’m the different one in the family. I’m the youngest child and the only daughter. I have two elder brothers named Vincent and Jeffrey. My name could’ve been Sarah or Stephanie – but it turned out to be Stacia. I asked my mother why, she never gave me a specific answer for 22 years. “We wanted you to be ‘Tracie’, but that sounds kind of like a guy. So we thought ‘Stacie’ would be okay, but then we went for ‘Stacia’. So there you are,” she half shrugged, half smiled.

There are plenty of friendly strangers on the streets of San Francisco who can start up a conversation with you, especially whenever you’re walking somewhere alone and you carry an open body language and walk in good posture. No matter how crowded the streets are, you get that. On one occasion, a stranger said this regarding my name: “It sounds like a stage name.”

Sure, a unique name makes memorable first impressions. But when individualism is taken too far, it can put us right into self-absorption. “I think it is an indication of our culture becoming more narcissistic,” said Jean Twenge, author of “The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement”  and “Generation Me: Why Today’s Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled – and More Miserable Than Ever Before”. Apparently this trend of giving unusual names to newborns began during the baby boom. Now that the world population is over 7 billion, parents are focusing more on their children standing out in the world. Now there’s a strong “drive for distinctiveness” in this era, so it was called in a new study by social scientists Jonah Berger and Baba Shiv. For someone whose name is Stacia walking down the fruits aisle, she would buy something like a dragonfruit or a rambutan to snack on for the week, as opposed to apples and bananas. Well, that’s not the case for me – my favorite fruits are apples and bananas and these days watermelons, actually. But the study tells us that people who are stimulated to think of distinctiveness were more likely to walk much further to get their favorite snack.

How did the researchers know about this? Well, they asked college students questions totally unrelated to food, then instructed them to write an essay on “a time they felt extremely distinctive … separate and different from the people around you.” Besides walking a lot further to get those snacks, they were also willing to pay about 70% more for it. Of course, studies like these are old news for the modern advertisers. Multitudes of mass-produced commodities are sold today that promises consumers that their products express the real, authentic you. Your Hermes Birkin bag, your Louboutin shoes, and your J Crew sweaters make you you. Who are we kidding?

“There’s been this cultural shift toward focusing on the individual, toward standing out and being unique as opposed to fitting in with the group and following the rules,” Twenge tells LiveScience. Before the baby boomers were born, parents placed higher priority on their children being obedient. That was in the 1950s, when Apple founder baby Steve and fellow computer whiz baby Bill was born. Now that we’re living in the midst of Millennial opportunists, society generally placed their values higher on standing out than fitting in.

As to whether these unique names lead to narcissistic traits or not, it’s still too early to tell. Nevertheless, a growing body of research do suggest that a name have long-lasting effects on the baby’s life, whether it’s good or bad, common or uncommon. David Figlio, a researcher at the Northwestern University in Illinois explains that “we’re always trying to think about the first bit of a child’s identity and so if we as a society pay a lot of attention to names it makes a lot of sense that people’s names might influence how they think about themselves and the way in which people might think about them.”

As a kid, I don’t really like my name. Because it’s weird and I always have to correct people how to pronounce it. But then, the belief that I am different in the family, just as my mother has always confess to me that she has higher hopes for me than any of my brothers, I became the most outspoken one and never really been afraid to speak up in a foreign environment or express my opinion in Speech class. As a result, I set expectations for myself and know that I have to work hard to reach them. The problem, however, is setting high expectations that are higher in value for me, but may not be valuable for someone else. That is, in fact, a dose of narcissism. “The relationship is so strong that when people want to measure self-esteem in a more subtle way you can do it with the name-letter task,” said Twenge while indicating a study method involving subjects picking out their favorite letters in the alphabet. Not surprisingly, those with higher self-esteem picked the letters in their name, especially the first letter in their initials.

And of course, I do like S. S stands for a lot of things, like Success (three Ss there!). But I do know that I’m Still Stuck in School, in my Senior year now, Strengthening my Soul and Stamina to Succeed in my Standard.





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Give in and trust


January 2012




sophie-s-worldI’m excited about my current addition to the library, Sophie’s World, the Norwegian classic written by Jostein Gaarder. This is officially the first novel I’m reading in 2012.

The question of Who are you? have fascinated philosophers, religions of the world, and many other curious people for ages, which is a central theme to the book. As we read the pages, historical answers to this question begin to surface, as answered by the geniuses ever lived in the past. Through Sophie’s journey of discoveries, she answers the question in the only way that is meaningful to her, and that’s my purpose of choosing to read this book.

I had one of the best sleeps I’ve ever had last night. I think it’s because I leaned on Him before I go to sleep. So then I woke up this morning and asked myself, What can I give today? What can I give the world today, just the Creator has given in abundance?

I spent the afternoon still brainstorming for more ideas about my logo design assignment for my boss. In the end I came up with 5 distinct looks in addition to what he asked for, 3 designs. He said that’s okay, so I guess that’s okay.

I spent the later afternoon reading the first few chapters of the novel, and then I fell into one of the greatest naps I’ve ever had in my entire life, maybe the last time like this was when I was a child.

I have not given that much today. But I have. I believe it’s not enough just yet, but it’s definitely enough to comfort my friend today so that it prevents him from doing something stupid tonight. What have I given there? I’m not sure, but I think I put my trust in him that he won’t do anything stupid to himself.

Trust. That’s what I have living inside me since I came to existence. There’s a living thing, a Spirit inside me guiding everything in light and darkness. It’s not exactly a voice, but a feeling. A nonjudgmental feeling that helps me navigate through life with all decisions I have to make. Maybe that’s what they call confidence. Sometimes, they say I need to tune it down and be humbler. The truth is, many times, I think I don’t deserve a lot of things that I have. Scientific studies, however, show that self-esteem is never a factor of how well or how worse you will do in life. What matters is self-discipline and self-control. I talked about it with a friend, and I immediately knew that I’ve got the perfect solution for this problem: “Take what’s yours at the right moment.” Most of the time, when your ego overruled His Kingdom, you speak of things you don’t mean. So, I figure, maybe trusting the living Spirit is the best way to show that you’re a confident person.

The worst thing I found out today is that my dad has been having high blood cholesterol and triglycerides levels in his body, and that letter was received in 2006, 6 years ago. I see that he’s a bit smaller in frame this year compared to back then. I caught him eating bananas in the middle of the night too, which is a much better decision than eating all that candies we placed just beside those bananas in our house. I don’t want to give my dad too much pressure anymore financially. I’m finishing school real soon, and then soon I’ll be out making money on my own. I already am, but I think I can do it on my own to support myself. Later on in life, I still have a tiny hope that my dad and my mom will take care of each other, settle their problems they’ve had in these 20+ years, and renew their love that can be as healthy as their daughter. In the meantime, I have a responsibility to make myself happy and healthy. It’s no use for me to worry about things that haven’t happen or might never happen right now.

I hope my dad’s doing better. He has always been the one encouraging me to do things I love, things that I am passionate about.

I think I can give passion in abundance to the world. I can show that passion through my writing.

Happy reading, as I happily read my new novel. Then get some sleep after that, because sleep does really great things for you.


You’ll Be Nicer.
Exhaustion takes a toll on your morals, according to a recent study in the Academy of Management Journal, which showed that a lack of sleep increased deviant and unethical behavior and made people more rude.


 You’ll Be Sharper.
Shorting yourself on rest ages your brain by four to seven years, say researchers in London. Middle-aged women who slept fewer than six hours a night tallied scores on memory, reasoning, and vocabulary that resembled those of senior citizens.


You’ll Live Longer.
Chronic insomniacs are more likely to suffer a heart attack than those who sleep well, according to new research in the journal Circulation. Other studies have linked lack of sleep to a higher risk of dying from a stroke and developing breast cancer.


You’ll Be Slimmer.
Women who slept five hours or fewer per night were 32 percent more likely to experience major weight gain over 16 years, according to a study in the American Journal of Epidemiology. “Too little sleep causes an increase in ghrelin, an appetite-stimulating hormone, and a decrease in leptin, which helps you feel full,” says Northshore Sleep Medicine’s Dr. Lisa Shives.


You’ll Look Better.
It’s called beauty sleep for a reason! Swedish researchers took photos of people when they were well-rested and then again when they were sleep-deprived. Strangers rated the plenty-of-z’s shots as more attractive.


I certainly feel a lot better after having a great sleep and a great nap consecutively. You can too.


You can read the original FitSugar article on the benefits of sleep by clicking here.




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A quarter-life review before death



Of course I thought about death. I thought a lot about death. I’ve lived as if I’m dying everyday for a year. I’ve thought about killing myself, how did I not think of death?



– Image courtesy of weheartit

However, turning my life around it and recovering the emotional damage I’ve caused myself, I found that you come back stronger as a person. I once tell myself stupidly that how I should plot my suicide is: “to leave a legacy, then naturally die.” If I don’t have a legacy yet, I’ll keep delaying my death. That’s why I exercise a lot and eat healthy.

Yet Jane E. Brody, a science journalist who share a similar goal with me (but from the opposite, undoubtedly more optimistic perspective) has the following goal: “to die without regrets.”

She’s recently published an article on New York Times about  important life lessons she learned from the elderly, who’ve dedicated their wise opinions to the Cornell Legacy Project. I feel like I was reading Tuesdays with Morrie all over again, just that at a still-innocent age of 21 (soon-to-be 22), I can still change a lot of things about living a successful and satisfying life that’s personally meaningful.

You are not responsible for all the things that happen to you, but you are completely in control of your attitude and your reactions to them.

I can still remember the time when I was about to have my IGCSE in secondary school. I was thinking about leaving Jakarta for furthering my education, only that I was so determined to major in drawing, art, and the like. My family encouraged me to take that major because ever since I was little I have been drawing a lot of stuff anywhere you can possibly imagine. Ever since I return to Jakarta to finish my secondary school, unfortunately, my school did not set the subject Art as a requirement for their curriculum. I did not draw for some time – I just doodle out my teachers’ faces and some of my friends, but that’s it.

The amazing thing was I started to focus my creative powers into another subject area that equally gives me the freedom to express my thoughts – English. I write a lot. I was a perfectionist about it. I don’t think it’s very difficult – and that I enjoyed writing a lot.

But I took a different path for my college major – I chose Art. None of my teachers knew I had the ability to draw, although most of them knew I have an observant eye because I always choose the descriptive essay as my mightiest sword. Brody wrote on her article: “… many talented young people have denied their true passions, choosing instead to pursue careers that promise fast and big monetary gains.” It struck me. I’ve been so lost for the past couple of years about my school and future career and all that. I knew I’ve made the wrong decision by not listening to my own heart but to my own brain. During my freshman year, I thought working hard was the priority. But now I know that your passion is your biggest priority.

Drawing has always been difficult for me. It requires a lot of research about the human body and the natural proportions of some human poses (and other animals). I think it’s tedious, it takes a lot of physical energy to absorb these things, but I’ve always known that I can do it. I can do it. I’m the youngest in the family and the only girl in the house – my parents don’t exactly trust me for most things out there, especially about taking good care of myself. I spent most of my childhood doing everything that can prove I can do it. I can do it.

But after a while, it gets tiring. I learned that it’s better to put down that pride and let these people who love you take good care of you. There are not many people in this world who genuinely cares about you, not even your friends who you thought would always look out for you no matter what.

I never wholly gave up writing. All schools have fundamental writing classes everyone’s required to take, and I always do my best in these writing classes. I never really knew why.

As I grow up, I try to find all the reasons why I can’t write. Because I’m in an Art Major. Conde Nast won’t want me. I have no professional experience going out and trying it in the media biz. All sorts excuses I tell myself everyday, up till now. I have a newfound habit of sweating the small stuff, until I reconnected with one of my best friends. “It’s not like you to give up,” he said. And finally, I’ve accepted the fact that even though I’m a feminist, a girl has her own physical and emotional limitations. Too much of a burden and you can self-destruct. While thinking about that I immediately back out of my grand plan after college, making my own biz and all, and decided to go freelance for the long run.

It takes a whole lot of willpower, and an extra mile that sets me apart from other accomplished Journalism students, but I think I’m ready just as well. College life spent in America only brings me back home to Jakarta. Because I know I won’t be able to do anything without my loved ones around me.

Conservative, you may say, but I was born and raised in cultures valuing collectivism, even though I learned the value of that independent streak the Western culture has taught me.

This is only a finishing chapter of an aspect of my life. It may not be a small stuff, but there are bigger stuff to sweat for, to run for, to die for.

Like love.

For 3 to 4 years running, I’ve never fallen for a decent guy. Or any guy. Throughout my life in San Francisco, I’ve always been single (except for my first semester being in a long-distance relationship). I’ve always put my love life behind and my own future first. Although deep down I know that I’m not that emotionally fit, and that means when I’m having a heartbreak I know I can’t do anything else (thank God drawing does not require much of your left brain so you don’t have to think too much analytically). However, last summer I turned my love life around by, finally, giving boys a chance. I’ve never been the one who responds to all the guys whenever they text or call. When I’m bored I always find stuff to do. But after a long talk with my mother, she demands me to open my heart. How long am I going to keep my heart closed? Even if I know I will die soon?

So, out of nowhere, I have all the great candidates I started to talk with. But there’s one guy out of all who’s really consistent, super persistent, and still keeps in touch with me every single day. And that’s my current boyfriend, who loves and worships God more than me (to that I’m most thankful of ). I’ve always been afraid to seriously date a guy because I don’t want to be the one who nurture him, nags him, tells him to do this and that, but if a guy is obedient with God, then I know I won’t have to worry anything. Of course there are plenty of wonderful guys out there whom I’ve rejected, whom I thought of the relationship will be like if I did respond and accept to them. Then again, there are other things outside my love life that I have passions about. Those who know me well can relate to the word I’m going to say next: Sexcited.

Here’s a handful list of lessons Brody provided from the Cornell Legacy Project:


ON MARRIAGE A satisfying marriage that lasts a lifetime is more likely to result when partners are fundamentally similar and share the same basic values and goals. Although romantic love initially brings most couples together, what keeps them together is an abiding friendship, an ability to communicate, a willingness to give and take, and a commitment to the institution of marriage as well as to each other.

An 89-year-old woman who was glad she stayed in her marriage even though her young husband’s behavior was adversely affected by his military service said, “Too many young people now are giving up too early, too soon.”


ON CAREERS Not one person in a thousand said that happiness accrued from working as hard as you can to make money to buy whatever you want. Rather, the near-universal view was summed up by an 83-year-old former athlete who worked for decades as an athletic coach and recruiter: “The most important thing is to be involved in a profession that you absolutely love, and that you look forward to going to work to every day.”

Although it can take a while to land that ideal job, you should not give up looking for one that makes you happy. Meanwhile, if you’re stuck in a bad job, try to make the most of it until you can move on. and keep in mind that a promotion may be flattering and lucrative but not worth it if it takes you away from what you most enjoy doing.


ON PARENTING The demands of modern life often have a negative effect on family life, especially when economic pursuits limit the time parents spend with their children. Most important, the elders said, is to spend more time with your children, even if you must sacrifice to do so.

Share in their activities, and do things with them that interest them. Time spent together enables parents to detect budding problems and instill important values.

While it’s normal to prefer one child over others, it is critical not to make comparisons and show favoritism. Discipline is important when needed, but physical punishment is rarely effective and can result in children who are aggressive and antisocial.


ON AGING “Embrace it. Don’t fight it. Growing older is both an attitude and a process,” an 80-year-old man said. The experts’ advice to the young: “Don’t waste your time worrying about getting old.”

Most found that old age vastly exceeded their expectations. Even those with serious chronic illnesses enjoyed a sense of calm and contentment. A 92-year-old who can no longer do many of the things she once enjoyed said: “I think I’m happier now than I’ve ever been in my life. Things that were important to me are no longer important, or not as important.”

Another said, “Each decade, each age, has opportunities that weren’t actually there in the previous time.”

Maintain social contacts. Avoid becoming isolated. When an invitation is issued, say yes. Take steps to stay engaged, and take advantage of opportunities to learn new things. Although many were initially reluctant, those who moved to a senior living community found more freedom to enjoy activities and relationships than they had before.

To those who worry about dying, these men and women said the best antidote is to plan for it: Get things organized, let others know your wishes, tidy up to minimize the burden on your heirs.


ON REGRETS “Always be honest” was the elders’ advice to avoid late-in-life remorse. Take advantage of opportunities and embrace new challenges. and travel more when you’re younger rather than wait until the children are grown or you are retired.

As Dr. Pillemer summarized the elders’ view, “Travel is so rewarding that it should take precedence over other things younger people spend money on.” Create a bucket list now and start whittling it down.


ON HAPPINESS Almost to a person, the elders viewed happiness as a choice, not the result of how life treats you.

A 75-year-old man said, “You are not responsible for all the things that happen to you, but you are completely in control of your attitude and your reactions to them.” An 84-year-old said, “Adopt a policy of being joyful.”

The 90-year-old daughter of divorced parents who had lived a hardscrabble life said, “I learned to be grateful for what I have, and no longer bemoan what I don’t have or can’t do.”

Even if their lives were nine decades long, the elders saw life as too short to waste on pessimism, boredom and disillusionment.

To view the original article, click here.



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Bring it on, woman


January 2012




Mental health experts are beginning to understand that anxiety does not necessarily mean a warning for more worries to come. They discovered that how anxiety affects us depends on how we perceive the stresses in our lives: Do you take it as a “challenge” or break it down as a “threat”? “Anxiety itself is neither helpful nor hurtful,” says Sally Winston, co-director of the Anxiety and Stress Disorders Institute of Maryland. “It’s your response to your anxiety that is helpful or hurtful.” Scholars suggests that simply not feeling anxious isn’t the answer. In fact, people who have too little stress suffers as much physiological damage as those who experienced too much psychological stress.

Common sense suggests that the quieter your life gets, the happier you’ll become. However, in modern-day lifestyles, stress is inevitable. Stress is an integral part of our lives, and women, who are more prone to illnesses as they age compared to men, should accept that challenge and manage their anxieties better to prevent, or, at least delay those fatal diseases caused by their inability to cope with stress, which is learned helplessness in disguise. In a sense, stress itself has a sweet spot. Through proper diet, consistent exercise, and adequate rest, a woman enhances her overall well-being alongside the passion for her work. But first, let’s examine the emerging theory behind the symptoms of clinical depression.

Learned helplessness is a formal term to indicate “the perceived absence of control over the outcome of a situation”, as defined by positive psychology pioneer Martin Seligman in his book “Helplessness: On Depression, Development, and Death”. A widely respected finding among his peers, psychologists have now understood that the more people perceive outside events are unpredictable and uncontrollable, the more stress they will experience, and the less hope they feel to making changes in their lives. Recently the National Institute of Mental Health researchers have published a study in Nature that may link chronic stress, now an everyday experience for most of us, as a lead to depression. The area of the brain that’s responsible for healthy stress response can be damaged if the woman is experiencing chronic stress. The hippocampus, where new brain cells can grow, is inhibited when a person responds slower to triggers of stress over time.

“One way to think about neurogenesis is that it’s a process in the brain that allows you to adapt to changing environments,” said Rene Hen, a researcher at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. “In stressful environments where you have lower neurogenesis, this may be adapting to the fact that when you are in a stressful situation, it’s better to stay put.”

In such harsh economic times and stressful working life today, it’s better to develop resilience rather than staying put and backing out of all the things life has been throwing at you. That is, accepting life’s biggest challenges but knowing when to stop when things are too big for you to handle, especially alone.

Nearly half of the American population, about 100 million people, are unmarried, according to the Census Bureau. “But a huge proportion of the population is unmarried, and the single population is only going to grow,” said Naomi Gerstel, a sociologist at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. “At the same time, all the movement nationally is to offer benefits to those who are married, and that leaves single people dry.”

As women, we feel a stronger pressure to marry at a certain age. Although research shows that unmarried people are the ones who contribute more to their society, studies repeatedly show that these singletons tend to die younger than married ones. A new study published on the American Journal of Epidemiology concluded that compared to married women, single ones face a 23% higher mortality risk across their lifetime, and 32% for the single men compared to the married men. Aside from that, marriage actually alters your hormones so that you, by default, experience reduced stress in the long run.

Naturally, two heads are better than one. As both a homemaker and passionate worker, poor health can get in the way of living our highest potential. Not only does finding meaning outside the home and being engaged with the community challenge a woman to be psychologically more resilient, but long-term commitment with a man provides women support too, and in return, taking good personal care becomes more meaningful, especially when children comes in to the picture.

Working mothers are reportedly happier and healthier than stay-at-home moms, concluded a study in December 2011 issue of Journal of Family Psychology. Cheryl Buehler, professor of human development and family studies at University of North Carolina at Greensboro studied how work impacts the well-being of mothers and their parenting based on three areas: sensitivity toward their children, involvement in their kids’ schools, and learning opportunities that these mothers provide their kids (books, enrichment courses, library and museum visits).

Her results matched previous researches that part-time working moms reported less work-family conflict than full-time working moms. Full-timers did not report more depression or worse health than moms who works one hour a week, so this does not suggest full-timers have lower well-being and poorer health than the part-timers. Apparently 32-hour workweek mothers are able to cope with stress as they are juggling with family life. One theory for the function of employment is to increase social skills and gain awareness of their community and the surroundings. “Maybe that translates to the experience they bring to their children,” says Buehler.

However, this is not to say that supermoms are better off than stay-at-home moms. The key is to keep the amount of stress manageable without compromising too much, as low to moderate amount of stress is necessary for healthy growth. After all, stress within control develops the person’s abilities to cope over time, providing a more established support to deal with stress and makes future adversity less worrisome. Way back in the hunter-gatherer days when a woman’s role is child-rearing and to perform “easy” tasks such as gather plants and other small foods, the deserts were an unsafe and most likely a threatening environment. It was far better to stay put than for a pregnant lady to hunt for food out there in the jungle. However, times have changed. Anxiety is within control, and most of us working behind the computer screens and sitting comfortably on our chairs are within safe grounds, while others choose to accept juggling everything at once – tackling deadlines, picking up phone calls, and eating junk food in between tasks. These challenges take a huge toll for the brain and the body, especially for these supermoms, who are better of spending those extra hours to nap or do light aerobics instead.

Laura Vanderkam, author of “168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think”, is a happy, healthy mom who has a flexible working time and therefore the hours to prioritize her kids. Before having children, she thought the start of it would ruin her career, and she would have no time to exercise and enjoy sex. “Yes, life often takes more planning when kids are involved, but planning ahead is a great way to make sure things get done,” she then suggested. “If you don’t have good time management skills before having kids, life will definitely be chaotic afterwards, but that’s not really the kids’ fault.” She did not give up her job to be a full-time mom, nor did she overthink the difficulty to raise children. Neither are a threat, as she perceived them as her personal challenge. In fact, she’s ran a marathon and had a vacation in India after she became a mom.

“I never would have written my book if I hadn’t had my son, and now my book is opening doors for me, professionally,” Vanderkam told The Happiest Mom. “Which means, by the transitive property, that my baby opened doors for me, professionally. That makes me a happy mom!”

Indeed, the sweet spot of stress enables us to handle our work, children, and sex life into perfect balance, women. There’s nothing threatening about finding meaning outside closed doors.










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Studies on intimacy


January 2011






Dozens of scientific studies illuminate how people fall in love – and hint at techniques for building strong relationships. Here are 10 kinds of investigations that are helping to inspire a new technology of love.


1. Arousal. Studies by researchers such as psychologist Arthur Aron of Stony Brook University show that people tend to bond emotionally when aroused, say, through exercise, adventures or exposure to dangerous situations. Roller coaster, anyone?

2. Proximity and familiarity. Studies by Stanford University social psychologists Leon Festinger and Robert Zajonc and others conclude that simply being around someone tends to produce positive feelings. When two people consciously and deliberately allow each other to invade their personal space, feelings of intimacy can grow quickly.

3. Similarity. Opposites sometimes attract, but research by behavioral economist Dan Ariely of Duke University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and others shows that people usually tend to pair off with those who are similar to themselves – in intelligence, background and level of attractiveness. Some research even suggests that merely imitating someone can increase closeness.

4. Humor. Marriage counselors and researchers Jeanette and Robert Lauer showed in 1986 that in long-term, happy relationships, partners make each other laugh a lot. Other research reveals that women often seek male partners who can make them laugh – possibly because when we are laughing, we feel vulnerable. Know any good jokes?

5. Novelty. Psychologist Greg Strong of Florida State University, Aron and others have shown that people tend to grow closer when they are doing something new. Novelty heightens the senses and also makes people feel vulnerable.

6. Inhibitions. Countless millions of relationships have probably started with a glass of wine. Inhibitions block feelings of vulnerability, so lowering inhibitions can indeed help people bond. Getting drunk, however, is blinding and debilitating.

7. Kindness, accommodation and forgiveness. A variety of studies confirm that we tend to bond to people who are kind, sensitive and thoughtful. Feelings of love can emerge especially quickly when someone deliberately changes his or her behavior- say, by giving up smoking or drinking – to accommodate our needs. Forgiveness often causes mutual bonding, because when one forgives, one shows vulnerability.

8. Touch and sexuality. The simplest touch can produce warm, positive feelings, and a backrub can work wonders. Even getting very near someone without actually touching can have an effect. Studies by social psychologist Susan Sprecher of Illinois State University, among others, also show that sexuality can make people feel closer emotionally, especially for women. There is danger here, however: confusing sexual attraction with feelings of love. You cannot love someone without knowing him or her, and attraction blinds people to important characteristics of their partner.

9. Self-disclosure. Research by Aron, Sprecher and others indicates that people tend to bond when they share secrets with each other. Once again, the key here is allowing oneself to be vulnerable.

10. Commitment. We are not that good at honoring our relationship commitments in the U.S., but studies by researchers such as psychologist Ximena Arriaga of Purdue University suggest that commitment is an essential element in building love. People whose commitments are shaky interpret their partners’ behavior more negatively, for one thing, and that can be deadly over time. Covenant marriage – currently a legal option only in Arizona, Arkansas, and Louisiana – is a new kind of marriage (emerging from the evangelical Christian movement) involving a very strong commitment: couples agree to premarital counseling and limited grounds for divorce. Conventional marriage in american can be abandoned easily, even without specific legal cause (the so-called no-fault divorce).

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Where are you going? What are you going to do?


January 2012




Summary of workout today: Some hip exercises. 45-minutes elliptical machine resistance training.


It feels great to be stronger. I slept  really soundly last night. I woke up feeling great. Not emotionally, but physically great. I didn’t feel any sort of soreness anymore, just still having plenty of those negative thoughts in my mind no matter how hard I push my body. Maybe I haven’t been pushing it enough. Or maybe I just need a good pull.

Maybe I’m just bored and feel really misplaced at this point of my life.

I know what I want to achieve before I die, but how do I cross over from my current state to that haven?

In the last months of 2009, I planned out exactly what steps I have to take to publish a children’s book. But I was too chicken to take those steps, saying that I’m too busy with school. Well, yes I actually am very busy with school. Schoolwork takes over more than half of my time, and besides that I run a lot and my body takes its toll to the point that my mind is in a haze 80% of the time. I lost focus, I risked my health, and it kills my psyche from head to toe.

I grew obsessed with living my dream. I think that’s how I become a journalist-wannabe. You have a piece of writing you’re writing – a shitty draft. You thought of doing something, and you control your situation to make it all happen. Then you put it all down in the shitty draft and your thoughts suddenly becomes real, because you took those actions while you’re editing that shitty draft. So it’s not shitty anymore and it deserves to be published.

I’m a traditionalist when it comes to writing in general – I have to brainstorm my ideas by hand, not by typing on the computer. Same goes with planning the actual draft.  I have to let the words naturally flow as it does in my mind and it should on paper. So, before it’s too late (I’m 22 this year! OMG! I could’ve accomplished so much but ok, whatever. Time waits for NO ONE) I’ve written a calendar/planner on my laptop (because I spend most of my time in front of the laptop; my work/school makes me do so) so that I keep my focus at all times.

It has been a while since I’ve last made something special for my mother. Ever since I have a boyfriend, or, well, ever since I’ve lost my mind in the past couple of years, I haven’t made anything to her. Just a mere “Happy Birthday!” text message to her.

Despite all the trouble I have at home, with my mom and dad acting weird throughout my adolescence up till now, I remember very clearly that there was this one day, when my mom is pouring her heart to me and all I want to do is just listen, she tells me there’s this one year when nobody, I repeat, NOBODY… Not even my brothers, not even me, not even her friends, wished her a happy birthday on time… that my dad sent her a brief message, saying: “Happy birthday!”.

It’s cute. It’s simple. Despite everything, it still shows love. She was so happy while she’s telling me this.

I hate to be the kind of child who forgets her when age takes over. Which is one of the reasons why I want to come back here for good in Jakarta.

So, on top of my head: a piece of art – or a journal. An art that symbolizes a mother’s and daughter’s love. Or a written journal that requires plenty of research about giving birth, hidden “interviews” with her, why she always goes crazy about what I do, and why is it that her passwords are always under my name. My instinct tells me that the latter is a better idea.

I think I can achieve that goal.

Another one is taking advantage of my physical fitness again. I think I can run at least two races within the next 6 months. It doesn’t have to be that great of a distance, but I have an eye for half-marathon, at least, before I leave San Francisco for good.

Thank God I’m taking a writing class next semester. So my dream of publishing a collection of essays is taken care of.

Okay, now, everything doesn’t seem boring anymore. My adventure has already begun! (Plus possible working partnership with my long-time friends, who’s starting new ventures in this growing third-world country economy).

In other news, my brother is back in Jakarta. I see a little change in him. Not just physically, but overall in a positive way. I wish he’s going to take the decision he wishes to take. He has two decisions: Either to go back Japan and work part-time there while still taking Japanese classes, or take a Master’s degree over in the U.S. I know I’m biased with my opinions about the States, but he said it himself that he’s thinking of changing his mind, because he loves his life in Japan so much. He’s met all kinds of people from around the world. He even made a song with another friend of his who’s a pianist. They just need some lyrics and a great recording studio.

Oh well. I’m glad that my family is well.

My biggest goal: I need to focus on finishing school! School is no fun without any adventure. Adventures aren’t only for boys. No girl should allow a stupid boy to interfere with her adventures.

You know, adventures like flying around the world to see new people, new places, and new things you’ve never seen before.

That’s what my mom does all year round, traveling around the world and all.