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Happy Journal – Nothing’s Thicker Than Blood (Not A Vampire Story)

By 29/05/2014 Family & Friends, Family and Friends, Journal, Uncategorized

After our exciting time in New Orleans (watch video here: ) Chris and I were off to make a special stop in Nashville, Tennessee to visit my sister Kathryn. In the last 8 months, Kathryn had been diagnosed with lymphoma (cancer on the lymph nodes), gone through 6 rounds of chemotherapy, and fought her way into remission. Going through a challenging experience like this brought my family closer together. My sister is 5 years older than me and we haven’t been around each other ever since she left to go to college when I turned 13. So fast forward 9 years later and I would end up living 1 month with Kathryn in Nashville supporting her through this period. It ended up being a reconnecting experience for us. We had to learn how to talk to one another as the more grown versions of ourselves. It was like meeting a new friend, but sharing a close connection as the brother and sister we are. Kathryn and Michael Mager in Nashville Chris and I drove 8 hours North of New Orleans through Alabama. It went from swamp to beautiful forests. The sides of the highway were covered with purple, pink, yellow, and white wild flowers. When we arrived to Nashville, Kathryn and her puppy (Ari) we’re waiting for us. I was happy to see my sister and friend again. Kathryn had just come back from a trip to Hawaii where she went through a holistic healing seminar. She looked rejuvenated and healthy. We started swapping stories from our adventures. Gal, Kathryn’s boyfriend, came home later that night and we all got to catch up. During our time together we got to eat good food, kayak, do yoga, meditate and most importantly talk.

I was listening to TED Radio Hour about love and one of the most important relationships they emphasized was between siblings. Siblings have been there from the beginning. They know great stories about you that you might not remember, you can have a trusted ally when facing your parents, and you have someone that can understand you all the way to the root of who you are. I often think we act most like our unfiltered selves when we are kids.

“Blood is thicker than water” :P

My time in Nashville was fantastic and the relationship I am developing with Kathryn became even greater. If you have a sibling, I make one request: reach out to them today. Ask them “how they are doing” and be willing to truly listen. We don’t get to choose our siblings, but you will never have someone who was so closely wrapped to your roots as them. Hold on and grow that relationship because they will be there for you from beginning to end :)

Chris ended up clicking right into the family circle, which made me happy to know that our bromance was meant to be! We left Nashville with full bellies and full hearts headed on our way to Asheville, North Carolina.

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Happy Journal – Troubles to Blessings… Only in Texas

By 16/05/2014 Family & Friends, Journal, Travel, Uncategorized

Happiness101 Car Breakdown

19 April, 2014

Chris and I had woken up that day ready to leave Big Bend National Park. We were camped out in the bottom of a bowl of mountains surrounding us. As we started our car “The Bucket”, Chris drove up the one small road up the smallest hill. Immediately the engine began choking and back shifting. He would push down on the gas pedal and the engine would work, but the wheels wouldn’t. We immediately pulled off the road and got our phones out to call roadside assistance. No phone service… Chris and I started talking to people around us to see what our options were. It looked like we would have to hike to get service. Chris went and hiked while I attempted to see what I could do with the engine. WARNING: Chris and I have little to no knowledge about engines besides checking if there is enough motor oil… So I added a little motor oil and let the engine run while parked. It seemed to have helped as I tested it on the same small hill successfully. As soon as I felt bold to try the hill again, I picked up Chris who tried looking for advice rather than waiting a possible day for roadside assistance. We jumped into our 3 ton car ready to drive up this small, windy, and steep road for freedom! The car jumped back and forth, I felt like I was taming a wild horse. Moving about 20mph up this hill we finally made it. The rest of the way would be down hill and then flat road.

In a small celebration I let Chris take over the wheel as I pulled off one of our mountain bikes to drive down a monster of a hill. Since the RV was just rolling, Chris had no problems going down. I was following behind with my GoPro camera on my helmet as I was flying down at 40mph. It was a sunny day and the road was as free as my mind was at that moment. Re-strapping my bike in at the bottom of hill we had a 100 mile drive to our first city and our speed was capped at 45 mph before the engine would stall. We decided to stop by a hot springs along the way to ease the stressful situation of being stranded in a desert and get some happiness in for that day. We ended up making some friends coming from all around Texas including Austin and Houston. The hot spring was located right across from the Mexican border so we had to take a picture together in Mexico :)

The Big Bend Hot Springs

Once we reached the later afternoon, we made our way to the nearest city 100 miles away. Going at 45 mph and below it took us almost 3 hours to get there. Arriving in Fort Stockton, we had the misfortune of arriving on Easter weekend and all mechanics were closed. We drove another 100 miles at 45 mph to Ozona who managed to change our oil filter, but couldn’t do much more until Monday or Tuesday. This did not help the engine so we finally decided to drive to our destination Austin, TX in the hopes that a big city would have more options and since it was our next surveying city. This 230 mile drive took us a mere 7 hours to complete. Driving on roads with speed limits of 75, I turned on my emergency lights at certain points to try and be less of a hazard than we already were.

We finally arrived in Austin at night and we would have to find a mechanic on Monday after Easter day. One of the friends we had made in Big Bend, Sam, contacted us to take us around the city night life. We counted our blessings to have made it into the city and enjoyed our night out. Sam let us stay at his house the next night and it was Monday morning when we were prepared to drive to the local mechanic that the RV simply wouldn’t start. I called a local mechanic after a few referrals and managed to find a shop, B&M Transmission in north west Austin, that would tow our car in and check out what the problem was for free. The manager’s name was Phillip and he turned out to be the best guy would could have asked to help us. If anyone ever has transmission or other car issues in Austin and you need a mechanic, they are great with their customers.

The car would be in the shop for the next 9 days due to a busted transmission. So the next question was.. where were we going to stay? Chris and I had the option to sleep in the RV in the mechanic’s parking lot, but we had no way to get into the city and do our survey.

Almost as if God was up there listening did an old middle school friend from Hong Kong from 10 years ago wrote me:

“I noticed y’all got towed!! (on Facebook) No bueno haha if y’all end up needing a place to stay for the night or need me to pick y’all up just holla(…)”

And sure enough, I holla’d immediately. After calling and talking to Christine, she picked us up and took us back to her and her roommate, Lisa’s, place where we had a place to stay in the middle of the University of Texas campus! The adventure in Austin had only started there as Chris and I found parties, food, philosophies, religion, music and people that would make this place one of our favorite cities and rekindle an awesome friendship with this friend from the past.


Here are some videos if you had missed them of our activities in Austin!



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Happy Journal – Santa Fe, the land of Art and Love (part 2)

By 01/05/2014 Family & Friends, Journal, Uncategorized

April 12-14, 2014


The next morning, Saturday, Peggy and Jerry took us to a farmers market for breakfast. Here is also where Chris and I started surveying people. We were recommended that this would be a great place to find local Santa Fe people vs. the Plaza where more tourists went. We collected great feedback and even some free snacks for the road. We eventually has to go back to The Plaza to collect our last few surveys. Chris met 2 incredibly artistic girls, Stormy and Joezelle, who wanted to help us record our last surveys. Stormy is a videographer (click here) and Joezelle is a brilliant singer (click here). They invited us to a get together later that night where our friendship would only begin to grow. We met up with Stormy and Joezelle afterwards where we got to hang out with art students vs. the business students we are so used to. There was definitely more creative energy with them than I have ever seen before. It was too much fun hearing about their next projects and simply what their interests were. We shared lots of laughs and planned to meet up the next day to cook dinner for them and their friends and Joezelle’s mom.


Sunday was filled with work and preparation for getting back on the road. We had to clean out the car for dust since I am allergic, clear out our water tanks, clean clothes, and more. So most of our day flew by. Once Jerry and Peggy got back from their day in the mountains with Peggy’s parents, we had to say our goodbyes. We had such a great time with Peggy and Jerry with many laughs that I have to say here, that these are some of the best people I know. They gave us so much love that we can only hope to pass on to others.Thank you both for all that you did for us! Jerry, who is a powerhouse of positivity, shared his wisdom on happiness with us. In a world that is always changing, Jerry told us to “exploit the inevitable”. Take advantage of the good and the bad because when one door closes another one opens. Try using this motto throughout your day and I bet you will see a form of positivity thinking you didn’t before.

IMG_1728Chris and Jerry were always fighting over the Cheerios for breakfast. But they learned how to share :)

Chris and I made our way over to Stormy and Joezelle’s for our Santa Fe send off slumber party. Chris and I cooked up a tasty banana curry for Stormy, Joezelle, Joezelle’s roommate – Cliff, and Joezelle’s mom – Selma. They loved it :) The night continued with drinks, dancing, laughs, and a private performance by Joezelle on her acoustic bass guitar (if you didn’t click before click here! for her song). It was like being a kid again. I changed into PJ’s and we just hung out and all talked till 4:00am. It was the perfect way to end our time there and we made such awesome friends. The next day it was hard to say goodbye. The girls and Cliff made us breakfast and even packed us lunch with a really kind note inside. Chris and I hit the road with happy hearts.


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Happy Journal – Santa Fe, the land of Art and Love (part 1)

By 29/04/2014 Family & Friends, Family and Friends, Fun & Recreation, Happiness, Journal, Uncategorized

IMG_1654April 9-11, 2014

Our destination was Santa Fe, but since I my Mac Book had suddenly had issues we had to make a pit stop in Albuquerque. Albuquerque has the only Apple Store in New Mexico. For California, this is unheard of! Being the only store, I had to book an appointment for the next day since the appointments were overbooked that day. We took advantage of the day and found a bubble tea shop with wifi downtown. We got to get some work done and went over to the local Walmart to set up our home for the night. Albuquerque didn’t seem to eventful, but there were definitely niches to have fun. In the Walmart parking lot, people were playing football and frisbee. If you ever find yourself sleeping in a Walmart for whatever reason, bring a face mask. They leave their bright lights on all night.

Thursday, I made it to my appointment at the Apple Store to find out that it would take them 2-5 days to get the computer fixed. Since I didn’t have time to wait, especially in Albuquerque, I planned to turn my Mac Book in El Paso and set up an appointment a few days later. Chris and I jumped in “Bucket” and drove to Santa Fe where we would be staying with my awesome seconds parents, Peggy and Jerry, who I have known me since I was born and who’s daughter is one of my best friends. We arrived at their place around 5:00pm and it was a great feeling to see familiar loving faces. Peggy and Jerry cooked us an amazing steak meal that left Chris and I full and beyond satisfied. We finally had a bed to sleep in and a shower after too many days than I care to admit. It felt like a home.


The next day, Friday, I woke up in bliss sleeping in an actual bed. Jerry made us breakfast and it felt like we were in a resort. Today would be the first day of our first city to survey. We drove to the city center called The Plaza. There were no high rises, but many small buildings encompassing a fountain that marked the center of Santa Fe. As we began our surveys, it felt awkward approaching people with our mission, but a few surveys later we were in the zone. Initially, the plan was to get all 100 surveys in 4 hours max. 4 hours later we had 32 surveys completed… It was taking so long because people were actually compelled to tell us their thoughts on happiness! We talked to hippies, high school students, parents, managers, and homeless people. Everyone had something to say and we were excited to hear it. We started a video collection of people’s core ideas about happiness that we can’t wait to share.

Chris and I came back suddenly exhausted from the day of talking to people. Jerry and Peggy took us to a great New Mexican restaurant where Chris and I filled our bellies with some delicious chicken fajitas covered in chili sauce. New Mexico is know for their spicy taste pallet. When Chris and I came back to our Santa Fe home to our comfy beds we passed out with determination to see what a whole day of surveying would bring us.

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