Archives for posts with tag: writing

For the regular reader of this blog, it is very clear that the concept of the “bucket list” is very important to me. Developing a list of things I want to do before I “kick the bucket” has become one of the most worthwhile projects that I’ve undertaken. I’ve learned so much about myself, how far I can push myself, and how far I’m WILLING to test my limits. Bucket lists, especially those that are public (like this blog), are a great way for one to share their dreams. But not only this. Sharing one’s dreams is to openly acknowledge that you possess the confidence  necessary to act upon your words. You open yourself up to potential judgement. You make your failures public. Attempting to make dreams a reality and share them with the world is perhaps the highest form of courage.

Candy Chang made this possible for many people in New Orleans.

“Installation artist and urban planner, Candy Chang recently inspired New Orleans locals to declare their hopes and dreams on a wall in their community for her new project, Before I Die. This interactive street art uses an abandoned house as a blackboard and encouraged passersby to write down the one thing they want to do before they kick the bucket with the chalk provided.

It’s also about turning a neglected space into a constructive one where we can learn the hopes and aspirations of the people around us.

To the artist’s amazement, the entire wall was filled before the end of the first day.”

Check out more photos of Candy Chang’s New Orleans installation at the Kidrobot blog!

– Daniel

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Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” – Leo Tolstoy

Today marks the one year anniversary of Look to This Day. Exactly one year ago I realized that something was missing. I was happy, but I felt like I could be HAPPIER. The happiness project served as a year-long attempt to make myself happier and Look to This Day initially served as a way for me to document my progress. 365 days later, I can tell you with absolute certainty that I succeeded and I am happier than I ever could have imagined. Starting the project ignited a spark in me. An inextinguishable flame in my heart that pushed me to better myself. To paraphrase Clint Runge, not only did I try to think outside of the box, I reflected upon its contents, edges, corners, and flaps. I got a tattoo, camped in the desert, and learned Israeli krav maga; all parts of the list of 100 Things I Want To Do Before I Die. This year was full of romance, heartache, stress, anxiety, fulfillment, new friends, old friends, falling-outs, laughter, and smiles. Attempting to write and complete this list, learn more about myself, learn about the world around me, experience the seemingly frightful, and make the uncomfortable comfortable collectively taught me one important lesson.

We often view happiness as something simple. Something small. I’ve learned that it isn’t. Happiness is something everyone deserves and is worth having. But you can’t expect it to fall into your lap. You need to take it. Happiness is something that needs to be worked for. It’s something to fight for.

But this is hardly the end of my journey. Today simply served as a chance for me to self-reflect, evaluate how far I’ve come, and keep pushing forward. This being said, I now feel that it’s my responsibility to share what I’ve learned with the world. To continue sharing the lessons and wisdom that changed my life for the better. It’s a responsibility I’ve eagerly shouldered. At this very moment, Look to This Day has become a place where I hope others can find solace and inspiration. A starting point from which you can rebuild yourself from the ground up or a place to inspire those with the urge to do something with their lives. Very much I like did. For those of you thinking of starting a happiness project of your own, tell yourself that no matter what happens it will all be worth it. If you ask yourself “do I end up happy?”, I can tell you with absolute certainty that you will. And you will have quite the story to tell – the story of a wonderful year where you realized that you deserved more. A year full of self-reflection, adventure, love, loss, and happiness. A year – a new chapter – that will set the tone for the rest of your life.

– Daniel

A special thanks to…

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Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life – and travel – leaves marks on you. Most of the time, those marks – on your body or on your heart – are beautiful. Often, though, they hurt.” – Anthony Bourdain, The Nasty Bits: Collected Varietal Cuts, Usable Trim, Scraps, and Bones

I seem to return to these words every so often. They’re very true. We make friends, acquaintances, and even enemies. We find romance and sadly sometimes have to watch it fall apart. We lose people to sickness, violence, accidents, and the sands of time. Happy or sad we should be grateful for these opportunities because even in the darkest and saddest of times, we ALWAYS get a little stronger. That is why, regardless of length, time spent with people are moments that changes us for the better – some just more drastically than others. They help us realize what we need from life and others around us. We learn to move on but never forget. This is why I’m grateful for the time I’ve spent with people close to my heart. They’ve made me stronger than the man I was yesterday. This is why it’s worth letting people in.

Look to this day.

– Daniel

Instagram: instagram.com/danielhkwan                          Twitter: twitter.com/danielhkwan


Closing in on the one year mark for my Happiness Project, I decided that it was the right time to update the ABOUT DANIEL  section of this blog.

Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” – Leo Tolstoy

If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.” – Orson Welles

Follow me!

Instagram: instagram.com/danielhkwan

Twitter: twitter.com/danielhkwan


Jesse Barrera is a fantastic musician and has produced for a few of my favorite indie artists (AJ Rafael and Tori Kelly to name a few). His first record Love in Technicolor was steller. Through the Kickstarter platform, Jesse is in the process of completing his sophomore studio album From The Ground Up. Through the darkest and happiest of times, the record is about turning it all around and being 100%  true to be who you are. I’m proud to have been a part of funding this project and look forward to hearing the finished product! 

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11 songs that explain the last 5 years of my life. The darkest of times and the happiest. This is as honest as I can ever be. This record is truly about finding the light in the darkest point of your life. It’s about knowing that we’ll all fall to the floor at some point, but knowing there’s nowhere else to go but up. This is why I called it “From The Ground Up.” – Jesse Barrera

You can pre-order “From The Ground Up” NOW – http://www.jessebarrera.bigcartel.com/

– Daniel


Dante Basco – a true Asian American icon. Famous for his iconic roles as Rufio, leader of the Lost Boys, in Steven Spielberg’s Hook and Prince Zuko in Nickelodean’s Avatar The Last Airbender, Dante is much more than a talented actor. He’s a poet, visionary, voice of positivity, and role model.

– Daniel


Reading is everything. It’s how ideas are perpetuated. It’s one of the ways messages are spread to the masses. Everyone deserves to have the ability to read. Books have the ability to change lives. The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin did just that.

– Daniel

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Although posted today, this post and the events contained within it took place yesterday. Writing is very personal for me. It’s a way for me to express myself through a medium in an unrestricted way. Uncensored thoughts. They are by no means vulgar, but they are the honest truth. And that’s what makes them my words, pieces of literature that cannot be separated from me.

Today I almost died. I spent an hour in the emergency room of a Jordanian hospital suffering from the would-be fatal effects of my tree nut allergy. To keep it brief, because the actual medical events are not what are really important here, I accidentally ingested pistachio nuts during a meeting with my students and staff. I stayed collected and composed. “Chill” if you want to describe it that way. I recognized the symptoms and sought immediate medical help. Despite some localized soreness from the injections, I am fine and out of immediate danger. Responding quickly to the reaction is the reason why I am still able to write this post. It was by far not a pleasant experience, but it is a stepping-stone, albeit unintentional, towards the completion of my happiness project. This was a learning opportunity. An experience that has left a little scar on my conscious. One that will forever change me as all life-altering experiences should. As bad as this is to say, this was a good thing.

Now you might think of me as insane. But hear me out. A good friend of mine told me that my dominating sense of optimism (I’m a very “glass half full” kind of guy) would make me live longer. For those who seek patterns in randomness, no, being relaxed and positive during my emergency room visit did not cure me. It certainly made it slightly more pleasant, but it was the medications administered by the doctor that saved my life. Although it was a nice sentiment, I asked her this, “but what if it was an unfulfilled life? What if, after living a very long life, I didn’t try to do as much as I possibly could with my time on this planet?” I’m certainly not opposed to living a long and healthy life, but I want to make a difference before I kick the proverbial bucket. I want to explore the world, discover who I truly am, and make a positive change to the lives of those around me. Indeed, this isn’t something that came to me as I lay there on the hospital bed; arms and buttocks sore from needles. This is something that I came to realize over the years growing up with a nut allergy. Living everyday with the risk that I could die. But this brush with death, while not my first but certainly my closest near-fatal accident, most definitely reinforced the sentiment. Life is too short. It can end at any moment and that’s a fact of life, but instead of fearing death we should embrace the fact that the mere fact that living is an opportunity to make a difference in the world and develop ourselves as human beings. I sometimes call it a curse with no gifts. But really, it is a means for me to realize that I have all of this untapped potential that shouldn’t be wasted waiting.

Take action. Time is short. Hold onto hope even when times are hard. Life has a way of working out for the best. Make a change in yourself and for others. Live your life and share it with the few who make your day all the more brighter.

– Daniel

 


As the days count down to my trip to Istanbul and Jordan, my ability to procrastinate seems to have been enhanced to superhuman levels. This ceases to amaze me. Although I love travel, nothing is better than home. Despite my intentions on discovering and, to simply say, “rebooting” myself, I look forward to returning home. Travel always leaves scars on you. You meet new people, try new things, and undertake experiences that cause self-reflection. Sometimes these journeys can be hard. I’ve had my fair share of heartache and anger abroad. But most of the time, particularly when I’m in Jordan, I can’t help but smile all the time. Sitting on one of my favorite spots; staring off into the distance. It’s wonderful. When speaking of travel scars, this is what I’m referring to. However, as an archaeologist, I also mean this in a literal sense.

Watching movies is one of my favorite things to do. Films by John Woo, Tim Burton, Jackie Chan, George A. Romero, and Peter Jackson rank amongst my favorites. I love movies for the same reason I love video games, Dungeons and Dragons, writing, and music. Everyone experiences the need to escape. Perhaps not all for the same duration, but everyone develops a longing for something more. For something else within our reality. Tales of characters other than ourselves, those that interest us; allow us to momentarily escape to that bohemian idea of living an unconventional lifestyle unlike our own. They provide an escape. They provide a break.

Most recently, I watched the film adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s novel Stardust. I know it’s a fairly old movie, but it’s fantastic. Swashbuckling, magic, comedy, and romance all make for a great movie. This being said, I turned to the ol’ internet in search of any words of wisdom uttered by Mr. Gaiman.

“Sometimes you wake up. Sometimes the fall kills you. And sometimes, when you fall, you fly.”

– Daniel

Expand this post to read Neil’s thoughts on love and romance

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I remember watching episodes of The Buried Life with my brother when they first aired in 2010. I remember being incredibly moved. At the time, I was a member of the Jane Goodall Canadian Youth Leadership Council and was teaching kids at a local school about wildlife conservation and sustainable living. The project culminated in the students being invited to a youth event the Royal Ontario Museum. Sharing my knowledge with the students and their teacher, and providing them with the opportunity to experience what I’m passionate about was easily one of the best experiences of my life. The feeling was indescribable. The experience, both the project and working on the council, changed my life and I hope I was able to do the same for the people I encountered along the way. This being said, the folks of The Buried Life showed me that it’s never too late to realize that anyone can do anything. Anything is possible.

Duncan Penn, Jonnie Penn, Ben Nemtin, and Dave Lingwood (The Buried Life)…thank you.

– Daniel