In 2021, color filled my world again

For the past three years, I have written yearly reflection posts summarizing lessons learned and emotions experienced in the past 365 days. Last year in particular was extraordinarily difficult (as we can probably all agree with), and really forced me to rethink my priorities and purpose. And this year, even as restaurants started opening up and people started hanging out again, I found myself lingering in the weight of the lessons learned from 2020— the value of embracing the present, prioritizing my relationship with God and my spiritual community, and cherishing precious time spent with friends and family. I give thanks to God for sustaining and growing me this year in simple, yet indispensable, ways: in Faith, Hope, and Love.

In stark contrast to 2020, I took so many more photos this year as a way to capture and appreciate moments, both special and mundane. And so I thought that this year, I could simply tell a story through the lens of my phone camera.


After I finished writing a book chapter on my thesis work in the first two weeks of the new year, I was feeling very burned out and in need of a retreat to nature. So I planned a spontaneous solo trip to Sedona, Arizona to go cave-hunting and pray.

I ended up finding the most magnificent caves and the most beautiful sunrises–and both lead me to a place of utter worship. In January, I learned how much I needed regular rhythms of rest in my life (particularly in nature) as a reminder that it is God who ultimately sustains all things.


In February, I rented out my room and lived with a friend, cooking meals for her in exchange. We shared many intimate conversations and fun times. I started TA-ing a new undergraduate course on “Artificial and Natural Intelligence,” and had my own little classroom of 12 Harvard students. Ethan and I took a trip to Williamstown. He tried to teach me how to snowboard, and we went to The Clark. And I also learned to ice climb!

In terms of the pandemic, February still felt quiet, yet it was that stillness that allowed me to focus so much more on the relationships in front of me. In February, I learned to deepen my love for special individuals in my life.


In March, I spent more time with friends and family, planned a bachelorette party, and took a wintery retreat to Cape Cod with Ethan. I also applied to become a Resident Tutor at Harvard, which is basically a glorified RA job for graduate students to live in the dorms with undergrads. I also finally got vaccinated!

In March, I continued to lean into moments with those closest to me, and to appreciate the beauty that comes with every sunrise and sunset.


In April, I was a Maid-of-Honor for the first time for a dear friend of mine! With more people getting vaccinated, I started having more friends over for dinner, and also finally got to meet some of my students in person!

In April, I learned to be thankful for opportunities—the honor of supporting my friend in her journey towards marriage, the chance to share food (my truest love language) with friends, and the privilege of getting to know 12 curious and bright minds over the course of the Spring semester.


In May, Ethan surprised me with another trip home. It was our first time back at Rice together since we graduated! It was fun to reminisce in the classroom we first met in. Taking advantage of my work-from-home situation, I took a trip down the East Coast to show Ethan’s sister New York City, and Washington, DC. We ate all the yummy food and saw all the quintessential NYC sights, while co-working from our AirBnBs during the daytime. I saw more and more friends, and with the warming weather, enjoyed more runs around the Charles. My family came up at the end of the month and we took a trip to Maine for Memorial Day weekend!

In May, I learned how close I could get to someone while living with them for 10 days straight—it was a reminder that intentionality is the true path to close friendship.


In June, I did a glamping Getaway trip with my dear friend of 4 years and former roommate, Maya. Over the years living together we’ve gone through a lot—the ups and downs of grad school, breakups, the pandemic. We’re both enneagram 3’s, so it was nice to have space together for “forced relaxation” 🙂

The lab changed with new people coming in, I took a seminar course on teaching, cooked for more friends, checked out new cocktail bars, and babysat with Ethan.

Summer in Boston is truly one of my favorite seasons. Things really started coming alive, and I had a lot to be thankful for.


On July 4th, Ethan turned 25! I threw him a little birthday bash and made a 40-minute long documentary of messages from all his friends. I must be nice to have the same birthday as America…Ethan’s always getting fireworks for free. We then took a trip to his childhood home in Portland, Oregon. It was my favorite trip this year—We spent time with his family, went camping and hiking, and enjoyed the beautiful Oregon coast together. In late July, we had several friends visit us in Boston, which is always a treat.

July allowed me to cherish and celebrate my wonderful partner, and thank God for putting such a thoughtfully kind, diligent, and gentle man in my life.


In August, I moved out of my “adult” apartment—one I had lived in since starting my PhD in August 2018—and moved into my new apartment in the Harvard dorms to become a Resident Tutor.

More friends visited, and Ethan took us all to Tanglewood to see Yo-Yo Ma!

August marked a new season for me—moving is always meaningful to me, even if it’s within the same city. I had a chance to reimagine my new 1-bedroom apartment (my first time living alone!) , re-establish my favorite running routes, and find my favorite coffee shops within a 10-minute walk. In August, I learned to let go, to forgive and move on.


September is when the Fall semester at Harvard began again, with many new students arriving on campus for the first fully in-person semester since March 2020. I settled into my new community at Quincy house, taking students and fellow tutors to the Harvard Stadium to run stairs with the November Project every Wednesday at 6:30am.

I also started taking a course at the Divinity School on Inter-religious Theology– a cross-cultural examination between Hinduism, Christianity, and Confucianism. It was such a breath of fresh air from my usual science reading. My favorite readings were from the Upadesasahasri, and various texts by Augustine and feminist theologian Sarah Coakley.

I gave a little talk at my PhD program’s student retreat (the first one in 2 years!), and on September 15, I turned 25 and celebrated with dear friends who I’m incredibly thankful for.

In September, thanks to my Divinity School classmates, I learned to better articulate my own worldview as I grew in understanding of different perspectives and belief systems. While this is a lifelong process, it was nice to take a formal course on religion that forced me to actually write reflection papers and read critical texts from other faith traditions. As the broad topic of “belief” is something I’ve been thinking a lot about in the last few years, perhaps there will be a future blog post on this soon…


In October, a high school in the nearby town of Manchester-by-the-Sea invited me to come give a talk about my research! My family visited again and I took them leaf peeping in NH, I went apple picking with the lab and camping with church friends, celebrated Halloween with my classmates, and went to a Maverick City Music concert with Ethan.


November is when travel picked up— I went to Arizona for a wedding, Las Vegas for a bachelorette party, and NYC for Thanksgiving!

I also saw my dentist (lol) and one of my dear college roommates that I hadn’t seen in years came to visit!

To be honest, November was a bit of a blur and left me yearning for some downtime and rest…which I was hoping to get in December, but…


…December ended up being just as hectic, with Ethan matching to residency in Chicago, two out-of-state weddings to attend, and the holidays (with both our families) in tow. Yet, I was grateful to be a part of these celebrations, and more grateful to be with friends and family through it all.

In the days before the new year, we saw some friends in Houston and took some time to ourselves at my favorite little whiskey library here in The Woodlands, Texas. When I think about 2021, I see how much time I got to spend with friends and family, and am so grateful to have been able to make up for the “lost time” in 2020. Yes, I probably spent significantly less time working and being productive, but what I gained in relationship could never be replaced by any kind of career achievement or success.

I think that really sums up how I’ve grown in the last few years as well—To recognize that relationships are the most important thing in life: first with God and myself, and then with my partner, my family, and my friends.

Though I’m currently lying in bed sick (as is everyone else in my household—but that’s a story for later), I have big hopes for 2022. There are lots of changes happening, many of which I won’t share now, but one thing I do know: I shall continue to take life day-by-day, beholding Him who upholds all things.

Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is the upholder of my life.

Psalm 54:4

Happy New Year, friends!

With love,


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s