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About Me

About Me
CrystalPhuong.net is a Personal Style & Travel Blog based in Singapore, written by Crystal Phuong. The blog was nominated FOUR times in Top 10 Best Fashion Blogs in the annual Singapore Blog Award from 2012- 2015, voted as one of the Best Lifestyle Blogs in Singapore in 2013 by Hotelclub.com, and Best Travel Blogs in 2016 by Foodpanda.com. Crystal hopes to connect and inspire young women to lead a healthy and happy life. Be confident, be positive, and be kind.
Showing posts with label PERSONAL. Show all posts
Showing posts with label PERSONAL. Show all posts
WHAT A YEAR, 2021!

WHAT A YEAR, 2021!

I remember at the beginning of the year, we all said 2020 was tough and 2021 would be better. Little did we know, 2021 was even more challenging than 2020. To many of us, 2021 presented so many challenges and obstacles that tested our strength and resiliency. I experienced an enormous challenge in the business, so much that it felt like there was an invisible person who kept throwing stones at my head as I was trying to climb up to the top of the mountain. I refused to quit even some days it felt like that was the easiest thing to do. 

Now, looking back, I'm still thankful for all that "stones" throwing at me this year. Every challenge is an opportunity to learn and to grow. I wasn't the first one who reaches the mountain top in my career, I was, however, able to achieve many big milestones in my personal life. Some of my long-time dreams come true. For that, I still came out as a winner, even though 2021 was a bitch (sorry for the harsh language, but it really was).  

As usual, I'd like to look at the bright side of things, hence this post is going to be a flashback of all the wonderful things that happened in 2021. Here we go! 

One of the biggest changes I've had in 2021 was the upgrade of my living space. Some of you have seen enough of my new home on Instagram. But in case you haven't seen it, you can have a virtual tour of my new home on this post "Home Sweet Home"

I spend so much time at home even after the lockdown was lifted. When I'm not working from home or sleeping, I'll find time to read, do something fun, and learn new things.  

A new home is also a place where I'd like to catch up with many old friends over tea time or dinners. Why need to go to the restaurant when you can have a candlelight dinner at home every night. Right?

Living near the sports hub inspires me to have more outdoor activities this year. Once in a while, I'd like to go cycling around the East Coast beach. 

Otherwise, on a regular day, this would be my beautiful walk around the neighborhood. This view was an instant cure for any frustration I had last year. 

2021 was also a year of learning for me. I never thought of one day I would buy a piano and start learning those C, E, D major notes, but I did. It's such a great stress-released activity. 

This year, I spent so much time and effort on personal development. I can't count how many nights I've stayed up until 3am to finish the course assignments, simulations, essays, and capstones. It's exhausting to study at night and work during the day. But everything has its price and it's so worth it. I've always dreamed of going to Harvard University to study, but I couldn't. The 18-years-old Crystal would have never imagined one day she'd own the Harvard Business School certificates. Not 1, but 4 of them. This makes me feel emotional and proud. Honestly, without all the lockdowns that happened in 2021, I would never have had time for this. Like I said, every challenge is an opportunity. Sometimes, opportunities come to look for us. Other times, we have to go out and create them. 

Since the Covid dining restriction eased up, I managed to spend time catching up with many good friends. Some I'd call my "guardian angels", the people who support me unconditionally and guide me through many storms in life.   

Health & wellness always stay on top of my list. I completed all of the Covid vaccine shots in less than 6 months thanks to the Singapore government. I exercised more. I went from doing yoga at home one day to going to the gym the next. A healthy lifestyle doesn't start from eating one salad bowl a week, it's the repeated activity that you maintain for a long period of time until it becomes your routine. 

Another proud achievement I've had this year was my contribution to this meaningful charity. I was invited by Multimedia, organizer of Vietnam International Fashion Week to take part in the charity auction event "From the heart to the heart". 2021 was a tough year for my country- Vietnam in fighting the battle against Covid. There were over 10,000 cases reported daily and many cities were struggling to cope with limited medical supplies and resources. With this auction, we hoped to raise money to buy equipment and medical supplies for doctors and hospitals in Vietnam. When I received this invitation, I couldn't say No. 

I was grateful for the opportunity to take part, for the mention of the local media in Vietnam, and most importantly for the generous contributions and donations from my family and friends. Together, we were able to raise USD120,000 in one evening. We bought some breathing machines and donated them to the hospital in Ho Chi Minh city. It was definitely the highlight of my 2021! 
This year, I also made some important steps to build a strong foundation for my retirement future. I was never interested in any investment book before, yet here I was reading it like my life depended on it. The book really motivates me to take financial planning more seriously. Not only was I able to invest, but I also diversified my portfolio into multiple assets. I was lucky to have help, guidance, and encouragement from my friends on this journey. Saying the word "portfolio" out loud feels so good and I can't wait to watch this "baby" grow. 

Before writing this blog post, I thought I didn't have much to share. I didn't travel anywhere exciting. I wasn't on the top of any list. I wasn't at the most fun and fanciful parties, I didn't receive an award. But then I realized that these are also the things that kept me grounded. It's ok not to travel, not to be recognized, not to be at the center of the party, and not to receive an award. What's more important is how you grow from the inside: mentally, physically, and emotionally. 

I took a photo of this tree on one of my walks and it resonated with me so much. I hope it resonates with you too.

Let's hope that 2022 will really be a better year, not like how 2021 had betrayed us. The lessons I learned in 2021 will help to shape me in 2022 (hopefully not in a round shape). I'll keep stretching, learning, and trying. In that process, I'll always be reminded of how lucky I am to still have support from many friends, mentors, and guardians angels.

If you have been reading this blog for years and we have never met in real life, I sincerely thank you for your support and time. Wishing you all a magical and successful year ahead! 
Till 2022!  

Crystal Phuong

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And just like that, my favorite month of the year- November, came to an end. It's the period when I find myself going through the introspection process a lot. My birthday is at the beginning of the month, and Thanksgiving is towards the end. Plus, the rainy weather in Singapore happening in between makes a perfect time to stay in, have a coffee, and reflect.    

Last year, I was lucky that the government lifted the social distancing rule just before my birthday; hence, I could still celebrate with some friends. But, unfortunately, the restriction was extended this year, and only two pax dining and visitors were allowed. So, instead of having five people gathered for dinner or lunch, I had five meals with different friends the entire week. Most of the celebrations were in my new home. It was the first time in 12 years living in Singapore; I hosted birthday parties at home. It was a unique, special, and memorable birthday indeed. 

When I was ten years younger, my birthday didn't mean so much to me. I didn't find joy in celebrating getting older, becoming chubbier, having more wrinkles. I wish I were forever 25. Turning 30 was fun, remarkable, but scary. I have some female friends who are older than me; they responded, "I'm 40 years old already", "OMG, I'm 45 this year," when I wish them "Happy birthday." Some are at 39 years old but already feeling down thinking about turning 40 in 10 more months. I have not heard any male friends complaining about turning 40, 45, or even 50 yet. But women, we do this to ourselves, all the time. Why?

I was the victim of my negative thought and insecurity before, so I understand these feelings very well. But, what could we have done to stop our number from going up? Nothing, unless our time is up and our clock stops permanently. Saying it out loud helps change my perspective completely. I'd rather like my age to go up every year as long as possible. I'm sure you would too, wouldn't you?  
And that's why the older we get, the more we should celebrate our birthday well. Instead of feeling worried about getting old and ugly, we should focus on creating memories, living well, and making the most of every day with people and things that matter to us most.

Despite the Covid restriction, I still had a wonderful time celebrating with some old and new friends, which I appreciated so much. There are still many super close friends that live far away from me. I wish we could celebrate with them in person soon. For now, here are some throwback photos from the celebrations of my 37 trips around the sun. Many more ahead!

Pre-birthday dinner at home with my ex-colleagues.

Steamboat dinner at home prepared by yours truly. Thanks Roger & Benjamin for always supporting me at work. I'm gonna miss working with these 2. 

First birthday cake of the year, thanks to Benjamin!

Surprised breakfast delivered to the home by a mysterious man. :D  

Surprised birthday flower delivery! Love it so much! Thank you Faith! How could I not see this coming when you asked for my home address. So cheeky! 

Birthday staycation at Fairmont Singapore, special thanks to Accor!  

another surprised birthday cake. 

and birthday dinner at Skai Restaurant. Thanks to Emmanuel, the General Manager for the champagne treat. 

Ready for another birthday brunch! 

With Anna, whom I'd like to call my guardian angel. Thank you for always listening and helping me grow over the last 4 years. I can't believe we finished all the food and still stay so skinny :D

Another day, another meal. Brunch with the man in the afternoon

Happy hour and chill with the girls in the early evening. It's so lovely to finally be able to invite my new friends, Sylvie and Chloe to my new place. Three of us went to view the same house at the same time without knowing each other. Then, five months later, we were here. How amazing life brings people to you sometimes.   

Another birthday cake, courtesy of American Express. They really know how to treat their customers. 

I went out to have a lovely dinner with one of my male best friends for the post-birthday celebration.

If only every Monday looked like this.

The last birthday cake this year. 

Dhilip- one of the most kind-hearted, sweet, funny, and silly men whom I've been lucky to know for 4.5 years now. Our relationship has many titles over the year: from colleague to a friend; from friend to a work competitor; from a competitor to brother and sister. Thank you for your unconditional support in work and life. Your loyalty and friendship mean so much to me, especially at a time like this. 

How many more trips around the sun can I take? I don't know. One thing I know for sure is as long as I can still breathe fresh air and see this gorgeous view from up here, it's a good enough reason to celebrate. I promise that I'll never whine about getting old ever again. I hope you'll also have a fresh perspective about your birthday celebration after this post. 

Thank you so much for reading!  
Crystal Phuong

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Crystal Phuong- Home Decor

I couldn't find a more appropriate time than my birthday to share one of the big news about my life with you. If you still follow my Instagram, you've probably already known that I decided to move to a new house mid of this year. When I spoke to some of my friends about this decision, everyone seemed surprised as they knew how much I loved my old place. I even invested time and money to redecorate it and blogged about it here. Then, less than a year later, one day, while I was reading a book about getting out of the comfort zone, all of a sudden, my mind spoke to me, "Crystal, it's time to move." Then the fear held me back and said, "But you've invested so much in this place? How to find such a spacious bedroom elsewhere? Why need to leave when no one asked you to". That conversation repeated in my head for months, plus other factors to consider. I couldn't decide, so I relied on faith. Typical Asian me, I know. But experiences have proven to me many times that if something is meant to be, it will happen. So I keep holding to that thought whenever I have to take the leap of faith. Some people relocate so easily like they change clothes. I admire them. When I left Vietnam for Malaysia and left Malaysia for Singapore, I had only 2 pieces of luggage. 12 years later, I had 30 large carton boxes, 5 pieces of luggage, and dozen pieces of furniture to take with me. Hence, moving house is my worst nightmare. Besides, it reminds me of the teenage memories where we had to move house every year for nearly 10 years. It was sad.   

I tried to stay as long as I could. Then, a couple of things happened that made me feel like it was the right time to change. After a few months of thinking and seeking advice from my most trusted group of people, I finally decided to move out and move forward. That was in April 2021. 

I viewed nearly 20 houses within one month. Tiring, frustrating, disappointing, exciting, drooling, disheartening were the emotions I processed every week whenever I went for house viewing. And yet, in my mind, I was so sure that I'd find the house, or the house would find me. I viewed the last house on May 2nd, and it was not even on my top 3 list. But people often "Save the best for last.", who knew the Universe was doing the same to me. I was curious about the last house. 

As soon as the car arrived at the condo entrance, I heard the soothing sound of the water fountain. Almost immediately, I felt like this could be the place that I call home. By the time I took my first few steps in the house, I knew I no longer had to schedule another viewing after that. It felt right. Right time, right place, right people. 

June 8th, I moved to a new house. It was an auspicious day, as advised by my Dad. The house was empty without any furniture. It's like a blank canvas for me to paint a new artwork. Although I'm terrible at painting, I'm not too bad at home decoration, I think. 

It took me 2 months to turn this empty space 

Crystal Phuong- Home Sweet Home

into something I'm proud to call HOME. 

Crystal Phuong- Home Decor 2

It's much smaller than my last house, but it's cozy, bright, and windy. Exactly how I like it. 

Crystal Phuong- Home Decor 3

I buy fresh flowers every week as they make me happy looking at them. I enjoyed staying home during the lockdown before, but I love spending every minute in my new home much more now. A perfect morning routine to me (if I'm not working) is switching on the water fountain, opening the window, playing soft piano music, having my coffee and breakfast, reading a book, or playing with my piano. It's simple yet so satisfying. 

Crystal Phuong- Home Decor 4

Moving from a big house to a smaller one has turned me into an organized freak, in a good way, of course. You can tell from my work desk with no messy cables around, considering the number of devices I have. Wait until you see how I organized my closet. I'll save that for the Instagram stories maybe, so do follow me if you want to see.  

Crystal Phuong- Home Decor 5

This year, I've taken a big step back from social media. I went completely offline for a few months and didn't miss it at all. As if packing, moving house, and working weren't busy enough, I decided to go back to school. I took a couple of leadership & management courses from Harvard Business School Online to improve my skills and knowledge. More importantly, it was my dream to study at Harvard when I was in college. I couldn't do it then, so I do it now. As a result, I barely had 8hrs a day to sleep, but when these two certificates came into the mail, they made all the sleepless nights worth it. I'm still not done with my study, and I still have two more certificates to earn. But I can finally cross the "Study at Harvard" off the younger Crystal's bucket list. What's on the older Crystal's bucket list? Well, it's for another blog entry. 
For now, here are some more photos from my lovely place. Oh, I also started learning piano. Why? I don't know. Covid made me do it. 
Crystal Phuong- Home Decor 6

May the new home be filled with sunshine, love, and abundance.  
Crystal Phuong- Home Decor 7

A typical breakfast at C's! 
Crystal Phuong- Home Decor 8

Coffee with Crystal corner! 
Crystal Phuong- Home Decor 8

Having a clean, organized kitchen motivates me to cook more at home now. The spice and condiment containers are bonuses.  

Crystal Phuong- Home Decor 9

I have a much smaller bedroom in the new house, and I don't have a walk-in closet anymore, so I had to be super creative about keeping all the shoes and bags. Although it's smaller, it's super cozy, clean, and comfortable.

Crystal Phuong- Home Decor 10

Crystal Phuong- Home Decor 13

Crystal Phuong- Home Decor 14
These babies have a new home and I think they are happy 
Crystal Phuong- Home Decor 11

The beauty corner
Crystal Phuong- Home Decor 12

Once a while when I feel like I need a at-home spa day. 
Crystal Phuong- Home Decor 15

An afternoon walk after work in the neighborhood has become routine every week. I can never feel upset looking at this view, especially with a sunset view like this.  

Crystal Phuong- Home Decor 18

This view never gets old. 

Crystal Phuong- Home Decor 17

Every time I look at this, I feel immensely grateful for many things, especially this year. The global pandemic lasted much longer than we all expected. So many people lost their family members, their jobs, their hopes, and their dreams. Yet, I moved to a bigger house. Saying this out loud made me feel that I'm so spoiled. But the truth is, after 16 years of living abroad, moving from a shared bedroom to a storage room, from a storage room to a partitioned room (picture below), from a partitioned room to a master bedroom.

Crystal Phuong- Home Decor 19

Finally, I moved from a master bedroom to a whole house. 

Crystal Phuong- Home Decor 20

It was a significant change that I didn't see it coming myself. But here I am celebrating my 37th birthday in my lovely home with a grateful heart.

Crystal Phuong- Home Decor 21

Thank you to my family, my guardian angels, for guiding me on my journey! Thank you to my friends for staying with me through ups and downs and supporting me! For now, I need to go to sleep (it's 4.09am) so I can have energy to celebrate tomorrow. 

Thank you so much for reading!

Crystal Phuong

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[name=Crystal Phuong] [img=https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/img/b/R29vZ2xl/AVvXsEie2fJIeV0maiu1iSZBqXUcw3MA0I5aIOIFkNquz-3I9TubKru_nT6RtBidB9SShTMn6L8YRjDf8q3JtWSNcG2Z4aHEUT51k5X5eyzYXHwKUDM_Rglx1_kBrnE0wIbuRq2Gmr6Ngg/w345-c-h245/Crystal-Phuong] [description=Singapore Travel & Lifestyle Blogger, hoping to connect and inspire young women to lead a healthy and happy life] (facebook=https://facebook.com/crystalphuong) (twitter=https://twitter.com/ncrystalicious) (instagram=https://instagram.com/crystalphuong)