Last Year I, This Year I (24 gone to 25); p.s. I'm in Durham!

Dear you,

My doodling hands have been busy of late - but for good reason.  2015 will be a new year. I've already marked off my first milestone of the year...


I turned 25!


Yes, yes.  I've officially become a 1/4 century old.  Hm. Ok... now what? While everyone around me seemed to have put together their list of resolutions, I still sat spinning my wheels.

And then I had a thought.

Hey.  I had a pretty good run of being 24.  A really good year.  So why not look at last year, review data (ha), reflect on experiences ... and see what things I can bring into this upcoming year? Who knows, maybe this quarter century year will "measure up" to the last one. But how does one measure a year?

or rather.

How does one measure a life?


In lessons learned or dollars made? In projects completed or experiences experienced? In friends made, conflicts resolved (or unresolved), in good done or received? Or, as the Rent cast would have it... in love?

'Scuse me as I sing outloud...

"Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes... Five hundred twenty-five thousand moments so dear!  Five hundred twenty-five thousand minuuuuutes, How do you measure, measure a YEEEEAAAAAR???

... Words fail me to describe how much I LOVE this song (see what I did there? *eyebrow waggle*). 

But seriously. How DO you measure a life?

At this point, I suppose it's a combination of everything above. And part of the reason I doodle these letters to you is this: they are my measuring sticks.  The are my way of continuing to say thank you for having been part of my life... and a way for me to reflect upon my own journey, with fresh eyes. 

with that says, here's what's up:

2014 Last Year I...

2014 Last Year I...

2014 was a big year for me (though I s'pose if I'm doing this thing right, every year will be a big year... right?).  A year is made up of so many things, moments, laughs had and tears shed... that not everything makes it into a tidily doodled grid. 

But what's to stop me from trying?

In short, 2014 was a year spent in flux - both emotionally, developmentally and geographically.  I questioned where I was going in life. I confirmed that what I wanted to do was some combination of art and education (while also keeping myself clothed and fed). I returned to China (2x). Got sick (3x). Got stuck in snow (2x). And started and finished - in some capacity or another - book projects that took me one step closer to being a published author/illustrator (3x).  


(for the curious, click on the captioned square/project you'd like to learn more about! )

心花  A Hart's Journey

心花 A Hart's Journey

Beautiful Lives Project

Beautiful Lives Project

DukeEngage & Job Search  ing in Education

DukeEngage & Job Searching in Education

Ocean's Pear  l

Ocean's Pearl



Little Penguin's Moon

Little Penguin's Moon

Bottlerocket & FACES

Bottlerocket & FACES

Pand a  Cub and a Crossroads

Panda Cub and a Crossroads

... so that was 2014 - heading towards a crossroads, 

and 2 months into 2015, I made a decision:

2015 This Year I...

2015 This Year I... well among other things, decided to illustrate my personal modus operandi & general goals for this year. Maybe I'll make this a thing... would make for a nice wall poster:)

Major 2015 updates thus far:

1) New Job: Duke TIP | New place: Durham, NC

In January of this year, I officially accepted a job with Duke TIP (Talent Identification Program) as China Programs Coordinator.  I'm incredibly excited to begin this next leg of my journey. It was a very difficult decision to leave panda Cub Academy.  In the end, I couldn't pass up this opportunity to work at the intersection of China & the U.S., with a team dedicated to expanding the forefronts of gifted and talented education (which I see as student focused education). For my Durham/Duke based friends - I'm here! China based friends: I'll reach out as soon as I have my China travel schedule confirmed...

2) launched!

Ha.  Meta right? It's the website you're currently reading my letter on! Big big fan/converter to Squarespace (the platform I'm using to host/build this site!)

3) panda cub story time #1

I already miss the students at Panda Cub. When I left, I said that I "wish I could write them letters like I write letters to you... but how do you write letters to 2-5 year old kids?". I thought about this a lot.  And the yeti-ish me has started a video blog! Amateur quality for now... but I hope the panda cubs will like it:)

My first video:

Why there is no Cat in the Chinese Zodiac" or "12 生肖里为什么没有猫

subscribe & support me here:

Where to next?

A) Learn on the job: create new goals

I arrived in Durham on Valentines day (2/14 for the unaware). Starting at TIP Feb 16! Very excited and a little bit nervous. What will the new workspace like, the pace, the environment? Buckle down and get to work *determined face*

B) Kickstarter for Hua Dan Book

The last step behind this labor of love is to publish! My goal is to print 20 copies (10 in English and 10 in Chinese) of this book.  2 to keep in my personal portfolio, 2 to send to the HART fellowship team that supported me in my year of research and 16 copies back to Hua Dan.  Currently putting together my first ever Kickstarter that I've been dying to try out.  So, future potential crowdfunder, please keep an eye out for my next update!  The final birth of this project is counting on you!

C) gre study plan

'nuff said. Planning to take the test this fall. Standardized Testing.... it's been a while.

D-E-F-G.) Drawing Practice (Ocean's Pearl) | Panda Cub Storytime 2 | Explore Durham | start contacting mentors for grad school

And some combination of the things above:) Not sure which one I'll get to first... maybe a little bit of everything. 

So how does one measure a life? My life? Your life?

As this letter may attest to, I gravitate towards projects and accomplishments.  Hard work coupled with passion, that's got to get you somewhere right? But now, I take a deep breath and concentrate on the fingers now clacking at my well worn keyboard.  And remember.  As much time as I spend on my projects, my work, and my (now) blog... the true measure are you.  The people I write this for, write this to. 

so. How about love?

I think love will do.


(Happy belated Valentines Day!)


Sun February 15, 2015