Challenges & Cheer: 2015, in review

PicMonkey Collage2015_a


Oh 2015! It was a challenging year, but full of cheer, too. Let’s recap!

My top 3 nursing stories:

3. Wounded – on help and helplessness

2. You Call that an Apology? – on The View‘s ignorant remarks about nurses

1. Thawing at the Moon’s Feet – on aging (editor’s pick at Yeah Write! weekly writing challenge)

Top 3 characteristics I learned about God:

3.God is with me, in my suffering. (Psalm 22) This past year has been one of the toughest. I faced obstacle after obstacle, but was reminded to seek Christ in my suffering, to trust in Him through it all.

2. With God, nothing is impossible. (Matt. 14:22-33) Just like the disciples being astonished at Jesus walking on water, I too, often fail to recognize the impossible things that God makes possible, in my own life.

1.God commands us to have joy. (Deut 12:18) With such a busy schedule, sometimes I felt overwhelmed, especially when things didn’t go as planned. No matter the circumstances, God wants me to experience joy. I need to ingrain onto my forehead, “rejoice!”

Random 3 photos of treasured memories


The Charles Thawing at the Moon’s Feet

3. Survived Snowmegaddon – Buried beneath an ocean of snow, we reached a record breaking 100 inches of snow by March!


Oh, there’s that sidewalk!

(2.5) -Here’s the sidewalk after it was shoveled! Walking and driving was absolutely miserable. It was also my first year to fall on ice. =(


Watch Those Ankles…

2. Conquering Fear– Jumping through clicking bamboo poles, while counting, extending your fingers, and smiling AT THE SAME TIME is not easy. At first, my dance students trembled with fear, but months later, they performed the bamboo dance (almost) flawlessly, with huge smiles.


“The Hills are Aliiiiiveeee….”

1. Awe Inspiring Alps – When I climbed those green hills at Mt. Rigi, Switzerland, and gazed the taller, snow capped mountains over yonder, I felt a burst of energy that made me want to sing and spin like Maria VonTrap from The Sound of Music.

Top 3 personal stories:

3. The Definition of Home – ‘home’ and why I do what I do

2. Is it the Scrubs? – the things people say when I’m in scrubs

1. Healing Scars – the 40th anniversary of the Killing Fields

Top 3 films/dramas (not new films, just ones I watched this year):

3. The Grandmaster (2013) – by Wong Kar Wai. A breathtaking kung fu film, depicting how people did not fight merely to kill, but there was real honor, knowledge, and wisdom through martial arts. Beautiful cinematography. (might be one of my fav films now!)

2. El Tiempo Entre de Costuras (2013) – A Spanish TV drama about life in Spain during World War II. My first Spanish drama that was great to review my Spanish vocab. and history at the same time. Lovely soundtrack too.

1. It’s Okay, That’s Love (2014) – A Kdrama about living with schizophrenia. It helped me empathize with those suffering from behavioral health and glimpse their tough reality. Compelling, heart wrenching, but redemptive. A must watch!

3 books I read:

3. The Missing Teacher – Written by a fellow blogger, Lani, a delightful ebook which taught me a lot about teaching and also myself. Nonfiction.

2. The Book Thief – written from an unexpected perspective… a suspenseful, fast moving, enthralling page turner based on the Holocaust. Fiction.

3. My GrandFather Would Have Shot Me– a woman discovers she is the granddaughter of an infamous Nazi known for his mass murders of Jews during the Holocaust. Nonfiction.

3 new things I did in 2015:


Kermit, Bambi, and Tony the Tiger (photo courtesy of

3. Dressed as an animal to hang out with animals… at the zoo. (Can you guess which animal I was?) Check out the awesome photos on my friend Esther‘s blog!

2. Whirled in a waltz and sashayed in a swing dance. There was lots of stepping-on-toes but I was delighted to learn the rhythm and style of these different genres of music.

1. Snacked on a new delicacy… silkworm (pupae)! I used to be a picky eater, but now I’ve resolved to try everything at least once (before rejecting it). My coworkers dared me, so I just plopped it in my mouth.

Now I can say I’ll never eat them again because it was disgusting!!

3 random awesome memories:

3. A changed heart – One of the kids was  chatting on her cell phone at a restaurant dinner table. I scolded her, but she ignored me. Our pastor told her to take a time out. When she realized how disrespectful she was, she apologized in tears for not caring for her church family. I saw repentance and humility in a spoiled little girl.

2.Most embarrassing moment – On a trip to Switzerland, we ended up on a really steep hill in a neighborhood, and I had never used that bike before so I didn’t know how to change gears. I had to stand while pedaling, pushing all my weight onto the pedals so it could go up the hill.

Suddenly, I heard a voice. “More power!”

When I looked up, I saw an old man chillin’ on the balcony of his house, raising his fist in the air and cheering me on. “More power!” He shook his fist in the air again, smiling.

I laughed and nearly died of embarrassment of my weak self.

1. A high school sweatshirt – My dance troupe had a busy year, which of course, required countless hours of practice, perseverance, and sacrifice. After a big show, the students called me up to the stage and gifted me their club sweatshirt. *sob*

All those hours of pouring my life into them… do they see how much I invest in their lives? Maybe they do?

3 things I hope to do in 2016:

3. Read 8 books this year. Last year I didn’t reach my goal but this year I’m striving for it. I’m reading Pride and Prejudice right now and the English banter is so fun. =)

2. Learn French (again). I started mandarin last year, which is awesome, but not as practical on a daily basis. I do however, have several French speaking patients, so I really need to revive my French.

1. Write more. I say that every year, but I mean it this time! Hopefully, once a week.

If you’ve read this far, you’re awesome.(Check out my 2014 and 2013 year in reviews!)

Thanks for coming along for the ride, and let’s embrace 2016 with courage and conviction. =)

~ ~ ~


20 thoughts on “Challenges & Cheer: 2015, in review

    • it’s funny, because actually, my coworker is African, and she brought it to work. but what’s even funnier is that she had never tried them before until she visited a Chinese grocery store and saw the Chinese customers buying it- so she thought.. “it MUST be tasty!” so she bought it, cooked ’em, and liked it!

      that’s the deceiving part. they LOOK like they taste good. but… no… ;_;

      to be honest, 2015 was super difficult for me, but i tried to balance it out by highlighting the positives in my post. =) i recognize that people tend to portray a really cheerful, sometimes fake life online, and i try to be authentic as possible (I do write about death a lot, from the nurse’s perspective). thanks for reading girl!

      • I’m glad that she tried something new and liked it. I didn’t think I would like crickets until I tasted it and it tasted like bacon lol. Like, who doesn’t love bacon?
        I didn’t have a positive year either or maybe it’s just throughout my entire life. It was rough, but I try to stay positive always. Also when when I feel a certain way, I couldn’t get myself to write or post anything. I don’t know but anyhow, this wordpress is quite difficult to navigate. I like reading blogs about people’s life rather than something they critique or report on. I miss xanga, lol.

  1. What a great roundup. Probably one of the best I’ve read, which shouldn’t be a surprise coming from you. Hey, thanks for reading and rating it. Means a lot ot me.

    Happy New Year, if I haven’t said it already. Here’s to “more power”! 😉

  2. omg. i have only seen the preview of ‘the grandmaster’ now. it looks spectacular. thanks for sharing. also for the book recommendation. i’m now intrigued by ‘the book thief’.

    • yah!! if you like martial arts films, you should definitely watch it. it’s not your typical “fast action” type of film, but more artsy because it is Wong Kar Wai. watch it and tell me how you like it!

      and the book thief was good. it’s for young adults so its a quick, easier read. some people think the writing is too simple but i appreciated how concise and to -the-point it was. they made a movie out of it too.

  3. Awesome recap. I have yet to read the posts you have linked here but I’ll definitely go and check them out when I’m not reading on my phone. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed reading those highlights of your year. I would love to check out those movies and books you’ve mentioned here too. And your photos; they’re amazing! Sounds like you had a great year with so many adventures and stories to tell. Oh and is that Fern in your photo? I cannot recall how you and I ended up knowing each other on Xanga, but now I’m starting to think that it was via her blog. Anyhow, it was a great post and I can’t wait to read the stories you’ll share with us in 2016. Happy New Year!

    • thanks girl! since my blog title is ‘searching for substance,’ i try to really pull out the meaning from my memories, and relay that to the reader. kinda like boiling soup bones and bleeding out that good tasty marrow from the bone, you know? =) soi tried to do that, even in my annual recap; it helps me to process the past year and be genuinely thankful.

      thanks for the compliment on the photos… my husband took the last photo of me walking in the mountains tho, so he gets the credit there. and YES that is Fern! you know her?! what a small world! it’s funny because she lives on the west coast of the US and I live on the East Coast so how on earth would i have met her right? but we have mutual friends- she is friends with my good friend Esther, and she also interned with Junshien, who was my wedding photographer. (and Junshien, I met through xanga as well.) =)

      happy new year! =)

      • Oh I’ve heard about Junshien from her. I asked a lot of photography tips from her and she once told me that he was her mentor.
        I really miss Xanga. I got to meet a lot of amazing people like you guys because of it.

      • i know!! i miss xanga so much, too! wordpress just doesn’t have the same sense of community. i sometimes submit my posts to “Yeah Write” ( and there is a cool group of bloggers who are really supportive and encouraging writers there, but otherwise I haven’t found that same sense of community online that xanga had. Fern says “Instagram is the new Xanga”… but it’s with photos and not blog posts, not the same.

  4. I am so sorry that I’ve been gone for so long. It seems that I’ve missed your entire year! What a fantastic and soulful recap. I still love your “about” page, too.
    Happy 2016 – may you have many more adventures filled with blessings and happy times.
    PS: Pride and Prejudice is one of my favorites. You’ve sparked me to read it again.

    • it’s all good! thank you so much for reading… i probably spent too much time on this recap but it helps me to sift and process the year in a healthy way. =) likewise.. may your new year be filled with many adventures, much joy, and growth in wisdom. =)

      Oohh… what are your other favorite books? i’m always adding to my ‘must read’ list. =)

      • I loved your recap! It was the perfect post to help me get caught up again. As for books – I just finished “Ongoingness: The End of a Diary” by Sarah Manguso–a short, but poignant and powerful read. Some of my other favorites last year were “Hold Still” by Sally Mann (photographic memoir) and the ever-awesome and funny Jenny Lawson’s “Furiously Happy”I know there’s more, but those popped into my head first. Happy reading!!

  5. haha where is YOUR animal picture? 😛 oh maybe i should read pride and prejudice too!! i would say.. let’s start up a book club again.. but we’re so bad at making sure we read! 😛

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