Friday, September 30, 2016

EAT | Downtown San Mateo,CA

This is the 1st post in a photo series I'm going to call "EAT". If you follow me on Instagram, you will know that I LOVE FOOD! I love the taste, the smell, and most importantly, beautiful plating. I don't skip any opportunity to create new #FoodPorn for my Instagram feed. FOLLOW ME: "_denisejoyce"

In my three years at ipsy, I've eaten all over Downtown San Mateo, and here's a collection of my favorite dishes from my favorite lunch spots in alphabetical order. I'm always hungry and looking for new places to eat on Yelp. I hope to share my food adventures from all over the world, let me know what city you'd like me to share next! Austin, TX, London, Paris, Rome, San Francisco, and San Jose are definitely doable! :D

Assorted Bruschetta
B Street & Vine

Mango Chicken and Garlic Noodles
Best of Burma

$1 Oysters and Sangria
Block 34

Sangria, Hongos al Jerez, Ceviche, and Papas Fritas
Cha Cha Cha Cuba

Sexy Fries and Ginger Mint Lemonade

Tzaziki and Vegetarian Mousakka
Hummus Mediterranean Kitchen

Mini Chirashi Don
Izakaya Mai

Joy Sushi

Roasted Duck

Duck Noodle Soup

Yellow Chicken Curry and Thai Iced Tea


Cabo Shrimp and Steak Tacos

Chipotle Chicken Salad

Grilled Salmon Salad

Steak and Prawn Nachos

Extra Spicy, Garlic Pork Ramen

Assorted Sliders

Mandarin Orange Salad. Fry Trio, and Mushroom Swiss Slider

Kobe Beef Lunch Special

Fried Chicken Buttermilk Waffle Sandwich and Guava Mimosa

Potato Pancake, Smoked Salmon Benedict

Fried Chicken Club Sandwich

Brown Buttered Beet & Citrus Salad

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

BALANCE, not perfection

 "a happy life is not built upon perfection, but BALANCE"

I am a proud work in progress. Instead of striving for perfection, I focus on achieving balance. If I lived every day trying to be perfect, it would only be a matter of time before I went crazy from disappointment. 

There are so many things in life that are out of our immediate control, so instead of focusing on keeping it all together, I choose to concentrate on managing my emotions, knowing what is truly important, and maintaining balance in all aspects of my life. 

Without balance, it's easy to lose perspective. You can become anxious, angry, upset, sad, or lonely. You can lash out and act irrationally, ultimately making poor decisions that you deeply regret. When your life is balanced, it's easier to accept things exactly as they are and to not let your emotions control you. 

Here are things you can do in order to maintain balance in the different areas of your life: 

Listen to everyone's ideas. Act as a mentor or an advocate for others who may feel lost or not comfortable enough to speak up. Help where you can by identifying issues and collaborating on innovative ways to solve them. Majority of my career growth has been fueled by my ability to encourage and inspire others, putting the importance of their growth before my own. 

Monitor your spending habits and be more conscious about cutting back on frivolous spending. Have you been eating out too much? Do you really need the latest Tech gadget? In a nutshell, brainstorm ways to save more and spend less. Your relationship with money will improve overtime, if you stay mindful. I'm sure you'll be ecstatic with your more stable account balance. 

Expand your mind and embrace learning. I actively seek guidance from others who know more than I do, whether it's asking for advice or book and blog recommendations. I never miss an opportunity to learn something new or gain more insight. 

You also need to keep your body functioning at an optimal level. Do your best to eat as clean as you can, workout, and get plenty of rest. I won't lie. I do get lazy and skip a workout every now and then. I'm also known to throw clean eating out the window to indulge in unreasonable amounts of Dim Sum (or anything else that I may be craving). BUT I always make up for it! I squeeze in that extra workout or double up on days when I know I've been slacking to make sure I burn off the extra calories. 

Stay connected with your family, friends, and significant other. We all have busy lives, but you should make time for the people who are important to you. Simply asking how their week is going or letting them know when you've been thinking about them can make all the difference. It always brightens my day when someone I love reaches out to me out of the blue.    

Be spontaneous. Try new things. Do things that scare you! Life should be an adventure, and you should do things that make you feel happy to be alive. On the flip side, pay attention to your body and take the time to relax and recharge when you're feeling exhausted. 

I'm still learning to be more daring, and I don't want to look back on my life and regret all of the chances I didn't take. But when I need it, I'm not ashamed of spending an entire Sunday lying in bed watching Netflix and cuddling with my dogs. 

The necklace (pictured above) I wear around my neck every day is a reminder for me to keep striving for balance. The different areas of my life would be chaos without it. Maintaining balance is my way of loving myself and choosing to focus on what makes me happy. 

Balance is how I measure my self-awareness. My life may never be perfect, but it doesn't have to be. I will continue to do my best to be more self-aware, because I think it's essential to understand why you think, say, and do the things that you do. How else can you improve and grow as a person if you don't know where to start? 


Monday, September 26, 2016

I'm not one to sit still and look pretty

***Inspired by a compliment from my sister & the song "Sit Still, Look Pretty" by Daya***

I'm not one to sit still and look pretty. I have a pretty face, but do not think I'm just a pretty face. I am so much more than that. 

I rule my own universe. I don't need a knight in shining armor to come and rescue me. I'm not a helpless Princess, nor do I ever want to be. 

I don't look in the mirror to ask who is the fairest one of all. I look myself in the eye and recite affirmations

I'm not looking for my other or better half, because I am not half. I am whole as I am. Approach me with good intentions. Love me as I am. Give me your trust and respect, and I will return it tenfold. 

I love to smile and laugh. I'm prone to spontaneous dancing. I love receiving and arranging flowers. I melt when I see dogs. Seeing my food coming in a restaurant makes me giddy. I take pictures of EVERYTHING. I'm silly and light-hearted. 

I curl my hair, perfect my winged liner, and step into a pair of killer heels for ME, because looking good allows me to conquer each day with confidence. I could care less about the unwanted attention and compliments I get from strangers as I walk down the street. I ignore the catcalls and whistles.

My value isn't determined by superficial entities. I have my own dreams and aspirations, and I'm not going to let anyone tell me what's important. I am ambitious and driven. I set goals and crush them. I will create a benevolent empire, by loving myself and showing the world exactly who I am. 

The sound of my heels on the pavement is my personal version of Darth Vader's Imperial March. I won't avoid eye contact. I don't care if I intimidate you. 

I'm not too pretty to think for myself. I can make my own decisions. My thoughts and opinions matter. You don't get to judge me. Don't tell me to lower my voice. Don't tell me to sit down.

I am kind, caring, and loving, because it makes me happy to see those around me happy. 

I walk, run, and eat as clean as I can, because maintaining a strong and healthy body is important to me.

I think, read, and learn, because I want to keep expanding my mind. My thirst for knowledge and my capacity to grow and improve as a person is infinite.

I hope, dream, and inspire, because I want to make my life and my existence in this world worthwhile. 

Everything that I am, I've worked hard to become. You cannot tell me who I am otherwise. I'm not one to sit still and look pretty, and you don't have to be either.


Friday, September 23, 2016

Dead End Dreams | Surviving Your Quarter Life Crisis

***Dedicated to my brother, Bentz. You got this!*** 

"I've got nothing to show for these dead end dreams. My heart will ache again, it seems. Cause you're not in my arms and all I want to do is keep my promises to you."

Dead End Dreams - Man Overboard

A week before I turned 26, I heard this song sitting in the passenger seat of my brother's car for the first time. My brother and I don't necessarily have the exact same taste in music, but this song will forever resonate with me as the anthem of my quarter life crisis. 

Growing up, I imagined that I would be so much further along in my life by the time I was 25. I thought I'd be married, ready to start a family, with a thriving career. Instead, I still held the same bank teller job that I got right after graduating from college, and I had just broken up with my boyfriend of one year. 

It was the absolute lowest point of my existence. Every day, I felt anxious and panicked, and I'd constantly berate myself with questions. Why am I still a bank teller? Will I ever find a career that I love? Why did I break up with him? Is what he did to me really THAT BIG of a deal breaker? 

Instead of enjoying the career opportunities that still awaited me and celebrating my new freedom as a young single woman, I was left frozen, questioning whether or not I was good enough. I felt absolutely worthless and pathetic. 

Up until this point in time, my life was a series of joyous accomplishments. I lived each day with optimism and positivity. I'd set goals, crush them, and make new ones. As someone who grew up so idealistically driven, it was only a matter of time before the reality of the economy and workforce I had been thrown into would catch up to me. It was the first time I had ever genuinely felt depressed about where I was in my life.  

If you're experiencing your quarter life crisis right now, the key thing to remember is: YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

Experiencing a quarter of a life crisis is inevitable nowadays. I went through it. My family and close friends of mine went through it. I even know others who are going through it right now. Most of the happiest and successful people I know have had their own quarter life crisis stories to tell, which leads me to my next piece of advice: TALK ABOUT IT. 

I personally LOVE stories! Talk to your friends. Talk to your family. Talk to strangers. Everyone you meet has a unique story to tell, and I enjoy hearing the experiences of other people's lives whenever the opportunity arises. What was your childhood like? How did you become the person you are today? What inspires you? What do you want to achieve in your lifetime? 

You may not be where you want to be right now, but talking to people who have been in a similar situation can help a lot. You never know whose story may inspire you or lead you to your next venture.

The way I see it is things tend to balance themselves out overtime. You can only pull an arrow back so far before it has to be released and launched, which brings me to my next point: THIS IS TEMPORARY.

Once I accepted that my situation was only temporary, I focused on strengthening my emotional intelligence. I became more self-aware of how I dealt with my emotions, and I did my best to empathetically and judiciously weigh my decisions involving others. I wanted to understand why I felt the way I did, and I wanted to accept them as they were, without letting them control me.  

As long as you keep moving forward, new opportunities will present themselves in time. You don't have to have everything figured out right now. Believe me. I sure didn't have anything planned out the way I wanted it to happen. But with time and deciding to live mindfully and enjoying my life exactly as it was... I found YouTube. I created this blog. I found ipsy. 

The next steps you take in life will reveal themselves as they are meant to. The lyrics of "Dead End Dreams" still resonate with me to this day, but they have a different meaning now than they did when I was 25. I want to keep dreaming, even if I have nothing to show for it. I'm not afraid of getting my heart broken, because I'm strong and I don't need to be in a relationship to be happy. I want to keep my promises to everyone that I love, especially the promises I've made to the person I love most, MYSELF


Wednesday, September 21, 2016


Is it weird to say that I admire my childhood self? 

When I was younger, I did whatever I wanted without fear or hesitation. I didn't let my emotions cloud my judgement. I wasn't afraid of the dark. I wasn't anxious about getting lost when exploring new places. I wasn't overly conscious of how I carried myself when meeting new people and making friends. I wasn't afraid of getting hurt, physically or emotionally. I just did what made me feel HAPPY. 

My favorite fearless memory that I still reflect on quite often was the day I learned how to confidently ride a bike. I was ecstatic to be riding steadily, so I decided to explore my neighborhood. Little did I know, I'd return home about an hour later with a broken bicycle, sprained fingers, and a hideously bloody right leg. 

I still picture my freckled, smiling face pedaling with all my might in the warm afternoon sunlight. I still remember the thrill of going down hills with my hair flowing and slowly becoming a tangled mess beneath my helmet.

Then, the euphoric moment turned into disaster. I was going too fast around a corner, and my depth perception of how close I was actually riding next to a building was WAY OFF. My left hand, wrapped around the handle bar, smashed into the corner of a building, crushing my fingers. 

My handle bars spun counter-clockwise, and I was tossed from my bike into the air. I had a brief out of body experience, watching myself being thrown through the air. I realized how blissfully stupid and careless I had been. I landed on my knees, slid a few feet, and didn't stop until my right leg was trapped beneath a chain linked fence. 

I still remember pulling the fence off my thigh and sliding my leg out from beneath. Despite the obviously dreadful state I was in, I didn't shed a single tear. I composed myself, limped back to my bike, and slowly made my way back home literally laughing out loud at how much of an idiot I was. 

I still have a faint scar on my right thigh from the chain link fence, and whenever I look at my scar, I'm always reminded of my innate fearlessness as a child. 

I want to be that way again. I want to live fearlessly. And I know it's possible, because it once was ME. I don't want to feel anxious anymore. I don't want to be afraid to express myself. I want to be completely and unapologetically ME.

Now, when I find myself paralyzed by fear, I do my best to remind myself that the fear only exists in my head. I've done so many scary things already, and I managed to make it through everything unscathed. 

I refuse to let fear stand in the way of my happiness. I've learned this past year that everything I want in life is on the other side of fear. It's beyond my reach, outside of my comfort zone. If I want to live my life to its fullest and have everything I've ever wanted, I need to believe in myself and do it in spite of my fears and hesitation.

I know I won't become fearless overnight, but I can start by fearing LESS


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

MEAN GIRL | Why I got into self-improvement

My name is Denise, and I am a MEAN GIRL. 

At my very core, I am a mean girl(This is also probably why I relate to villains and seem to attract people with similarly shameful pasts.) 

I can come up with sassy quips and sarcastic comments at the drop of a hat. I don't always watch my tone when expressing my opinions, and I've even made people that I love cry. If you're finding this hard to believe, then I'm really glad because it means that I've done my job. Every day, I find myself actively going against my initial instincts and innate behaviors. I'm definitely not proud of it, but I've grown to accept it as part of who I am (and hopefully one day was). 

Growing up, I never had issues getting what I wanted. My parents provided me with an amazing childhood. I excelled in school. I was accepted on every dance and sports team that I wanted to join. I was asked out on dates regularly. I got invited to dances and parties. People were just naturally drawn to me without much effort on my part. A friend of mine, who has a degree in Psychology, categorized me under the "What is beautiful is good" stereotype. (It felt like a backhanded compliment at the time, but I understood his intentions.)

To make things clear, I've never been an outright bitch. (Or at least I hope that I haven't...Because of the privileges I had been given, I was blind to my own faults. I was placed under an unrealistic spotlight that inevitably lead to complacency.

I was too smart for my own good, and I'd never known what it felt like to fail. I'd never been rejected. I'd never been someone's second choice. I didn't know what it felt like to not be good enough. I was always putting myself first and doing what was in my best interest.

I expressed myself and made decisions without considering how it would affect others. I broke hearts without remorse. I thrived on proving that I was right, even if it meant making someone else feel stupid. (/sigh Ok... maybe I was a bitch.)

As I got older, I actively worked to become more self-aware and considerate of others. Now, I consciously weigh every pro and con and consider the benefits and disadvantages for every person involved in my decision making. I also do my best to take every unfortunate situation as an opportunity to learn and grow as a person. Not only do I want to keep my inner mean girl in check, but I want to become as good of a person as most people perceive me to already be. 

I take a genuine interest in every new person I meet. I want to consistently benefit the lives of my closest friends and family. I want to be kind to strangers. I want to be more compassionate and patient. I want to boost the self-esteem of others and not be afraid to open up and feel vulnerable.

I aspire to know better, do better, and be better. I may never be perfect, but I like who I am becoming. 


Sunday, September 18, 2016

It's okay to feel vulnerable

Vulnerability is terrifying. 

A good friend of mine convinced me to put you before myself when writing. Going forward, I want to consider how my thoughts are going to benefit you before myself, even if that means taking a risk. 

Last Tuesday's blog post was the first time I've ever given a glimpse into my past. No matter how vague you may feel I described my experiences; I want you to understand how hard it felt to reflect on old wounds and how their impact influenced who I am today.  

Though I'm not ashamed of my story, publishing that blog affected my entire week, which also lead to several additions and edits as I spiraled deeper and deeper into a never-ending stream of consciousness in the days following. It was the first time I've ever felt exposed by my own writing.

My content previously lacked depth, because I was scared to give too much insight into my darker past experiences. It takes a lot of courage to expose yourself to others and in my case, complete strangers. Maybe if I still created content under my pseudonym "MorganFreeman7" I would have let you in sooner?  

I promise to be vulnerable when I write. The more it scares me to click "Publish", the better. I've already expressed how hard it is for me to open up to others, but I want you to know who I am and more importantly why I am this way. I don't want to be a hypocrite. I'm not going to lie to you. My life hasn't been all rainbows and sunshine. You need to know my darkest moments in order to understand why I'm so grateful and appreciative of my brightest epiphanies. 

I want to continue to live fearlessly. I want to be authentic. I want to share my thoughts and opinions without fear of being judged. I want you to see who I was because it's easier to bridge a connection and have compassion for someone when they show you exactly who they are.

Vulnerability is terrifying, because it should be. Having the strength to feel vulnerable changes you. Growth requires being willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable. It's okay to feel vulnerable. The fear that accompanies vulnerability is powerful. It sparks change, growth, and deeper connections, because you're forced to be your most sincere and authentic self.