My Takeaways: Canyon Ranch 2017

Hi guys!

I wanted to check back in and write a little bit about my recent trip to a resort called Canyon Ranch in Tucson, Arizona.

When telling my friends that I was going to a resort for spring break, I described it similar to the one in High School Musical 2; the Lava Springs. After my trip, I noted that the main difference was that there weren’t any wild Javelinas strolling around Lava Springs. At Canyon Ranch, it wasn’t unusual to witness a Javelina scurrying across the path to join its friends while they were snacking on some freshly fallen Mesquite beans.

It’s hard to believe how much we did during our three day stay. We took Zumba classes, cardio workouts (deadly), yoga, meditation, boxing, cooking classes, drumming, and art classes. I know, what a variety! All I can say is, by the end of this trip, my muscles ached but my mind was a ease.

I had tried some meditation at school before (my photography teacher made us meditate for the first five minutes of each class), but I had never really felt centered while meditating. It was mostly just more time for me to continue stressing about the math test I took the period before.

From going to some classes, I saw what meditation really was and I experienced its benefits.

A lot of people think that meditating is the absence of thoughts. While this is quite intriguing, it’s not completely the case. Meditation is about noticing the thoughts that come into your brain, acknowledging them, and letting them go.

Thoughts are natural, and aren’t meant to be looked at as a bad thing in meditation.

Something that really helped me with centering mediation was breathing, and focusing my attention to each breath and how it felt. In my head, I thought of the words rising, for inhale, and falling, for exhale.

Another option is to visualize scenes in your head while you meditate. It’s nice to think things that go well with the words, rising and falling, such as tides in the ocean. Of course, this is not the only way to meditate, and I would encourage you to find out what works for you.

Although meditation may seem intimidating, it really isn’t. It’s just a time that you can set aside to relax and de-stress. And remember, thoughts are not bad, acknowledge them, and move on.

On another, more upbeat note, my mom and I tried ZUMBA! We had so much fun that we’re planning on taking more classes back at home.

It was refreshing to bust out our most crazy-funny moves, and nobody was judging us. In the end, people were more focused on their own reflection in the mirror.

My mom and I ended up taking a total of four different art classes! We learned how to make whimsical paper flowers, how to draw realistically (or somewhat realistically), how to paint with watercolor, and how to make collaged jewlery.

With the brush in my hand, a set of watercolor paints, and a white page in front of me, I let my imagination run wild and put my own creation on paper.

But first, if I’m being totally honest, I actually felt quite anxious. The questions of what I should do and how to make it look good ran through my brain. I didn’t know where to start. Once I realized that I could make mistakes, and whatever I was creating was my own creation, I let the brush do its work.

A few strokes turned into an outline of a hill in the distance, and then soon enough, I created a finished desert landscape.

I didn’t know that I could make something like that with watercolor, and now I’m definitely inspired to do some more watercolor back home!

Although I’m by no means a pro, here’s a tip for any newbies to watercolor.

TIP: Make sure to have a blow dryer in hand to dry your piece during the painting process. Dry each layer before adding another if you don’t want the colors to bleed into each other or blend.

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When my mom and I saw collaged jewelry in the class selection booklet, we knew we had to go!

I’ve always been interested in jewelry making, but I never knew how to make it. This ended up being a perfect jewelry craft for beginners, and it’s great craft for a party.

TIP: If you’re trying to re-create these necklaces, make sure that you don’t use magazine paper! My mom’s design totally bled from the glue 馃槮

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This trip was packed, literally with classes every hour, and we only took breaks for meals (which were super healthy by the way…they don’t use added salt!). I’m happy to come back home with a bag of new things that I’d like to try, and a new perspective on caring for my well being.

Healing comes from listening and loving your body.


Mexicali 2017

Hi guys!

I would love to tell you a little bit about my service trip to Mexicali, Mexico.

Every year, my church (Menlo Church) hosts a trip to Mexicali, a city right across the border. Menlo has been taking High School students on this trip for thirty three years now, and hopefully for many more years to come.

This year was my second year coming to Mexicali, and I can already tell that it will become a yearly trip for me (hopefully even after High School). The relationships formed, the love I witnessed, and the closeness I got to God are all such incredible things to experience.

Many times, it’s easy to think of mission trips as foreigners coming to a less fortunate place to help the people there. That’s fair, but not even half of the whole picture. From being apart of the Mexicali trip, I know that my participation did more service for me than I could ever give to another person.

I learned so many things, I loved so many things, and I saw God through so many people in Mexicali.

My favorite part of the whole trip would have to be getting to play with all of the children.

In the village that I was assigned to (Nuevo Le贸n), there weren’t that many kids there on the first day. We unpacked our vans, and stood in front of the Nuevo Le贸n church with slight disappointment.

“Where were all of the kids? ” we thought.

Our concerns vanished when about fifteen children showed up at the church the next day, all of them excited to see us. It was one big reunion. Many of us from Menlo Church had formed relationships with kids from last year’s trip, and seeing each other again was so overwhelmingly joyful.

A girl named Lucy, who has gone on the Mexicali trip for the past four years, was able to reunite with her close friend named Abby (7 yrs. old). When they saw each other for the first time in a year, they ran to each other for a long-emotional embrace.

I particularly bonded with an eight year old boy named Dav铆d from my last trip, and I really hoped to see him again this trip. My wish was granted. When we were at the yearly BBQ where all of the different villages come together, I was eating my veggie burger, and I saw Dav铆d just a few feet away from me! A jolt of excitement flooded my body, and I couldn’t help but exclaim, “Dav铆d!”

I ran over to him, and something inside of me was sure that he remembered me. My gut feeling was confirmed with his eyes lit up and he timidly came to give me a big hug. That’s a moment I’ll never forget.

I was so happy to see that he was okay, and I was so happy to see his kind face. It was like no time had passed, and we were meeting once again.

The connections that I formed on this trip are set apart from any others that I have experienced. They are so sincere, loving, and good. Not to say that I don’t have great relationships back home, but in Mexicali, it seems like it’s an ongoing frenzy of love for one another.

I think that the main reason for this is because we are all coming together in God’s name. Every high five, every smile, every word shared with one another were praises to God.

I’d like to carry that mindset into every relationship that I have. Back home, It’s so easy to get caught up in all of the everyday stresses, and forget about all of the goals and lessons you have learned.

The day I got back home, I already started having anxieties and moments where I felt far from God. Although this will happen at times, I’d like to constantly keep reminding myself of the “me” in Mexicali.

The true test is if you can continue the great things you’ve learned back at home.

Another amazing highlight of my trip was hearing and sharing testimonies. All of the testimonies were so incredible, and it was interesting to learn how God has intervened and worked through so many people’s hearts, including mine. I learned more about so many different people, and their story really grew my respect for them.

Not quite as good as the amazing testimonies, but close, were the tacos.聽As many of you probably know, Mexico is home to the Taco, and it does it great justice. Just a few blocks from the Nuevo Le贸n church, there’s a taco place called Homey’s. It’s the best place you’re ever going to get an authentic taco. For all those living in the Bay Area, my recommendation would be to take a bus down to San Diego, drive a rental car across the border, and stop for a nice lunch at Homey’s. It’s worth it.

I’m going to leave you with one last memory from my trip. As I was helping to make Empanadas with some other girls from Menlo as well as a few from Nuevo Le贸n, I took a break and walked outside to see what everyone was up to.

The sight was so beautiful. There were kids flying up and down non simultaneously on swings, giggling and having the time of their lives, while others weaved around them trying not to get hit while playing chase. People from Menlo were scattered among them, smiling with joy.

These are the moments where you think, “Wow, this is truly a gift from God.”

Although the trip has come to an end, I will always cherish the many memories made and the people I met. I come out of the trip with so much to be happy about, and I have learned more about who I want to be.

I’m so thankful for all of the people who made this trip possible, and I’m thankful for the people of Mexicali, always opening their arms out to our Church.

Mexicali 2017

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Nuevo Le贸n and Menlo Church

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Lucy and Abby Reunite

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Blowing bubbles @ the BBQ

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Empanada Dinner

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Jump In

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So we got a lot of tacos…155 exactly.

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All group: Menlo Church

Mexicali 2016

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Me & Dav铆d

Photos in courtesy of Kat and and many more!聽

La La Land

After watching La La Land, it’s hard to tell yourself that it’s just a movie. The catchy soundtrack, the dazzling choreography, and the passionate actors make you want to jump inside and live in it for awhile.

Here’s my short review.

Music: Spot on! The soundtrack was amazing, and is well deserving of praise and recognition. Some stick-out songs would definitely be Someone In The Crowd, City of Stars, Audition (The Fools Who Dream). I absolutely loved the catchy tunes; they’ll be stuck in my head for days to come.

Acting: Well done. Mia and Sebastian’s characters were so believable. Their easy relationship and natural connection made it seem like they weren’t on camera in some parts, more like friends hanging out.

I loved that failure was brought to light, and successes were well fought for. Musicals can often lean towards the cheesy side, but this movie was very real. Two people chasing their dreams in a city where everyone is trying to get the spotlight.

When Mia and Sebastian faced challenges and their confidence was put to the test, the viewer could actually feel the exact emotions that they were feeling. I remember one specific scene where Mia was at Sebastian’s car in front of her house, and she deeply questioned her whole decision of leaving school to follow her dreams of being an actress. When she was questioning, the audience too was questioning, but rooting for her all the while. That’s a sign of good acting.

Ending: I’ll be honest, the ending was kind of confusing. It took you on a ride where there was no getting off. You didn’t really know what was real, and what was imagined. That was part of the excitement though, and it really put you on the edge of your seat. I’m not going to spoil the ending for those who haven’t seen it, but I’ll just tell you that it’s a crazy two dimensional roller coaster.

This movie lifts you off your feet and takes you on a journey, and when you land back on the ground, you come out with something new.

Hope you enjoy it!

Listen to the soundtrack!

Spirit Week 2016

What a week! This past week it was spirit week at my school, and it was a lot of fun. Spirit week is basically a whole week of fun and games. Each day, every grade level is assigned a different theme/costume to dress up as, and then at every lunch there is a rally full of cheering and activities out on the football field. I think my favorite part of Spirit Week would have to be how it unifies the school together. Even though we are mildly putting different grade levels down in our cheers, we are all still coming together to celebrate and enjoy ourselves.

So here’s a quick overview on Spirit Week 2016…


Monday was class themes day. Each grade level had their own theme that relates to a specific color. For example, the sophomore color was red, and so we chose our theme to be fire fighters. This theme actually ended up being really great because it’s relatively easy to dress up for, 聽a great theme for making cheers at the rallies, and you could relate lots of things to fire. I was surprised to see that some of my fellow classmates actually wore real fire fighter attire; suit and everything. That was really impressive, and it made my red t-shirt, black pants, and plastic fire hat look a little pathetic. But that’s the thing about spirit week, people won’t judge you. As long as your showing a little bit of spirit, it’s still spirit. And also spirit week gives you an excuse to look totally crazy. Some people even go naked… well at least those streakers do…


Tuesday…Face With Cowboy Hat on Google Android 7.1

Tuesday had kind of a wacky theme. It was salad dressing themed(IKR…). Freshman were Healthy Choice, sophomores were Ranch, juniors were Thousand Island, and seniors were Greek. I have to say, whoever came up with that theme had to have been very creative. For Ranch, sophomores dressed up as cowboys. Simple and doable. We all looked really great with our cowboy hats on.



We didn’t have school Wednesday! Well, the Juniors did because they were taking the PSAT, but all the other grade levels got a nice day off. There was a rally at night, sadly I couldn’t make it, but I heard it was really fun. Each grade level was supposed to dress up according to their class color. I watched a short clip of the rally, and a few lucky people got to run in huge-blow-up hamster balls…now that would’ve been fun. Maybe I’ll ask for one for Christmas馃


This had to have been my favorite theme day. It was generations day. Freshman dressed up as babies, sophomores as teeny boppers, juniors as business people, and seniors as senior citizens. It was so funny to see all of the dedicated grade levels going all out in their themes. For teeny boppers, I wore some hippie-like leg warmers that were actually part of my sister’s old tap dance costume. My mom said that leg warmers were popular back in the 50s-60s so I just took her word for it.

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The last day of spirit week was a lot of fun. It was PALY pride day, so everyone was supposed to wear green and white(the PALY colors). I saw some really spirited costumes, and I’m probably biased but I think that sophomores were best dressed for PALY pride. What can I say? We’re just a spirited class.

Not only was there a lunch rally, but there was also an after school rally too! This was by far the most exciting one because we got to see each grade level’s spirit dance. All of the dances were supposed to relate back to class themes, and so the sophomore dance revolved around the idea of fire and emergencies. Last year I didn’t participate in the dance, but it looked really fun, so I decided to try it this year. We had to practice almost everyday starting three weeks before spirit week. All of the classes wanted to make their dance really good. For the sophomore dance, we included songs like Fireball, Fire Burning, and Girl On Fire. That was another perk of our theme: there were so many good songs that had to do with fire. I really really liked being able to participate in the dance, and I think that it came together really well. Even though I’m almost sure that got 50% of the dance moves wrong(I didn’t know a lot of it馃槄), I think that it was a really great opportunity for our grade level to come together in unity.

Videos in courtesy of The Paly Voice