Why I Feel Guilty When I Travel

My mother bought me a globe when I was a little girl.

I stared at it for hours, daydreaming of foreign lands while I traced the outlines of faraway countries and memorized their funny sounding monikers. I must have been the only kid in the first grade who knew where was Svalbard was.

I was born to an multicultural family of nomads and globe trotters. My mother’s father was the definition of a rolling stone (he still drives across the country in his early 70’s) and her mother and stepfather were international chefs who trained and cooked around the world. My father grew up caravanning around Europe, the Middle East, and Africa alongside my hippie grandparents and even attended primary school in South Africa. Traveling is who we are.

That is why I never thought I would see the day when traveling would make me feel guilty.

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Why I Changed My Mind About Having Kids

I never wanted children.

They always annoyed me. As a child, I preferred the company of adults. Babies were never cute to me nor did they ever spark any kind of nurturing instinct within me. I never carried around a “dolly”. The idea of getting pregnant was my worst nightmare and I never took any chances. If I had not experienced menstruation, I would have suspected that I was born without ovaries. While my friends daydreamed about baby names, I fantasized about the destinations on my bucket list. Over Japanese teppanyaki during our first date, Dan Kim and I bonded over our mutual desire to never have children.

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Today I’m Grateful for: Fatima Nasiyr

I changed school districts in the 4th grade.

I knew no one, and being shy 9-year-old me, making friends right away was a pipe dream.

But there was another new girl in school. Her name was Fatima. Whether it was due to our mutual newness or our often mispronounced names, we seemed to become best friends overnight.

Together, we carpooled to school. We swam in the ocean. We played Xbox for hours. We watched movies we were not supposed to. We stayed up late talking about boys and Spongebob until my mom shushed us to bed for the third time. Fatima understood the idiosyncrasies of my family — the words left unsaid at the dinner table or during an uncomfortably quiet car ride. What often made me feel so close to her were the words I did not have to say. She just already knew. For the first time in my life, I felt like I had a sister.

And then she moved.

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On Pregnancy

I knew I was pregnant the moment it happened. The pregnancy test was just a formality for me. Even still — when I saw those two pink lines, I could not believe it. I was going to be a mother. It is true that we had wanted a baby, that we had planned for this baby, but the fact that there was actually a baby growing inside my body was a concept that I could not wrap my brain around. Nothing and no one could have prepared me for the experience that is pregnancy.

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My Pre-pregnancy Plan

I was 23-years-old when I became pregnant for the first time.

Youth was on my side.

I made my best attempt at creating a stress-free and healthy pregnancy, but most of my efforts began after conception. This is something I would like to approach differently the next time around.

Here is my plan for preparing for Baby Kim #2:

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Today I am Grateful for: Thanksgiving in Chicago

In 2013, I flew to Chicago, Illinois to spend Thanksgiving with my mother over a long weekend. It would be my first time visiting and I was absolutely overcome with excitement. Chicago had been on my bucket list for quite some time primarily due to The Oprah Show. I had also just started dating Dan Kim who happened to be a big Chicago Bears fan.

For us California girls, it was a strikingly cold weekend despite the lack of snow (to my dismay). Despite the uncomfortable temperature, we tried to hit the major tourist destinations: The Chicago Bean, the Willis Tower and the Skydeck, and Millennium Park.

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Today I am Grateful for: Watching the Sunrise from a Hot Air Balloon

For me, gratitude takes practice.

It is a mindset — a lifestyle, even.

To keep myself accountable, I have decided to share reasons why I am grateful. Some are profound, some are simple. I am going to be sharing them in the format of a “list” with the goal of posting one item per week. These posts are written with intention of grounding myself in the present moment. Something I think we all need more of.

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My Life is Insignificant

Here I am, in my entirety.

65 inches and 120 pounds of stardust taking the form of a fragile package made up of hydrogen, carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, calcium and phosphorus. I occupy a tiny space, on a tiny blue rock, in an enormously wide and vast universe. A couple of hundred years from now, everyone I have ever known will be gone, and with them, the knowledge of me ever existing.

I am simply a drop of water in the cosmos. The universe blinks and my entire life will have been lived. All of my memories. My thoughts. My worries. My fears. My jokes. My adventures. My relationships. My children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren. Poof.

I am no more significant than a cow or a leaf or a pebble skipping across the surface of a lake. Like my buddy Eckhardt Tolle once said, I am just the Universe expressing itself as a human for a little while. And that is just fine with me.

Here is a little secret of mine:

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