In 2022 I finally wrote one of my own “Year in Review” posts after years of mulling over the idea. I did it because I finally reached a breaking point when it came to experiencing my own life and was sick of feeling like a bystander to major milestones and events. In my first annual reflection, I had written, “I don’t want my life to be something that just happens to me, and for the last few years it feels like it’s just been whizzing by. So, I am hoping that writing ‘Year in Review’s and intentionally reflecting on the last twelve months will help me feel like that’s less of the case.”

Twelve months later, I can confirm that it’s been an incredibly fruitful experience. This year feels, for lack of a better phrase, very much “lived in.” I opted for a different approach compared to 2022 and wrote a reflection on a monthly basis with the following questions in mind:

  1. What experiences did I have this month?
  2. What did those experiences mean to me?
  3. What major realizations did I have as a result?

Opting for a monthly reflection rather than an annual one that began at the end of November continuing through the last week of December made my feelings and thoughts feel more…genuine and less like I’d miss a crucial detail or two. And it ultimately made this “Year in Review” feel less rushed. Moving forward, I plan to continue with this approach.

Now let’s get into it!


I kicked off the year by participating in Dry January for the first time, and I would say that the most significant benefit that I experienced was having more clarity in my daily life. I felt better equipped to tackle design work and tense situations, and the cloudiness and lethargy stemming from holiday drinking dissipated. Doing this helped me realize that I enjoy a life with no alcohol! I think I used to have a drink once every two to three weeks, and after that I started to believe that drinking once a month was more than enough. I think my no-alcohol stint lasted a bit after Dry January ended, but I fully plan on committing to it again in the new year because I really liked how it made me feel.

I also had a loose goal of running 370 miles this year, and while I didn’t achieve it (I hit 152 instead) I did so. much. walking. Funnily enough, going on a ~3.30mi walk every day—schedule permitting—made me feel much better than doing cardio at a minimum of three times per week did. My favorite time to walk was in spring and summer, when I was able to start my day with an hour spent in sunshine with Runa, our Blue Heeler. This routine was more difficult to maintain come fall and winter since I started having 8:00-9:00am meetings and the sun wasn’t rising until ~7:45am, but checking my Fitness app revealed that I intentionally walked a total of 293.11 miles this year! Going on a 3mi walk every day is a practice that I fully plan to commit to through 2024, and I do want to get back into running. I’ve been itching to run another half-marathon and I’m trying to ease into it with a 10k on January 6! Maybe that’ll be my theme for 2024: easing into things (I can see my friends who know about the enneagram laughing at me already).

2024 GOAL: Log 400 running miles for the year.


Lexi and I gifted her mom and grandma a Mother’s Day trip to anywhere in the U.S. and they both chose to go to Puerto Rico, which was an incredible second time for me and Lexi and a first for them! I think part of me cherished this trip even more than usual because I never got to do stuff like this with either of my biological grandmothers. That, of course, also made the entire trip bittersweet. Spending this time with tita made me miss my grandma (mom’s mom) that much more, especially since this was just five months after her passing, but for me that trip really reaffirmed the principle of celebrating your loved ones while you still have them; believe me when I say that this has never been made more clear to me.

I really thought that I would finally go through an entire year (since 2021) without experiencing more loss, but in December we lost one of our good friends, Chuck Aaron, who had appeared in such good health so his death really took us by surprise. Again, celebrate your loved ones while you still have them. Sometimes there is no next time.

In last year’s “Year in Review,” I also mentioned that Lexi and I were going to Asia in August with my family. For all intents and purposes, Asia was perfect. Language barrier aside, Lexi really showed up and demonstrated her intention to communicate and connect with my family. Through basic phrases learned through Duolingo, pronunciation that was either perfectly on point or wildly off, and the magic of technology like Google Translate, my family fell in love with her. Lexi jumped headfirst into this whirlwind of an adventure and not only tried everything without hesitation, but also made sure to actively connect with everyone. She pushed me to do the same.

Admittedly, it felt slightly awkward reconnecting, but that’s exactly what I had expected. How could it not? Lots of things had changed: I’ve become much more assimilated to an American life in the last thirteen years, I graduated high school and acquired my undergrad degree, I came out, I got tattoos, I started my professional career, I got married, Lexi and I started family-planning, the full gamut. Without a doubt, I came home a much more different person than I was when I last visited back in 2010.

I can’t say I wasn’t embraced, though. I also can’t say that my wife wasn’t embraced. My family welcomed us home with open arms and really poured love into us. In addition to just really great quality time with family, here are my favorite highlights from Asia:

  • I saw my family in Vietnam again after 13 years of being away
  • My family and Lexi finally had the chance to meet. Both parties loved each other, no surprise there
  • I celebrated my birthday with my mom’s side
  • We celebrated the life of my grandmother (mom’s mom) one year after her passing, in addition to my grandparents on my dad’s side
  • I went to a drag show with my parents and aunts and uncles in Thailand
  • My family and I went to a fun adventure park and I kicked some kid off a bridge into a river (It was a fun team sport, okay? I didn’t kick him off for no reason) and my whole family cheered
  • We visited Bali in honor of Alan (Lexi’s brother) almost two years after his passing
  • Lexi and I stayed in a villa posted up in the jungle
  • We had a seven-course chef’s table dinner at a restaurant called Mozaic, where we were able to watch them make our food and ask questions about the methods and ingredients
  • I saw a monkey steal a sleeve of crackers from a woman’s bag at a monkey forest
  • I saw a second monkey pants another forest visitor

Lexi and I walked away from this trip having a game plan for our next visit: summer 2026, after my sister graduates from UCLA with her undergrad degree. It’s wild to think about how we may have one or two kids in tow for that trip. I can’t wait.



Prior to last fall, I had maintained a photo chronicle of my life on Facebook from 2010 up until the pandemic. When the world shut down, all plans were effectively canceled and I didn’t document anything because I felt like there was nothing to document. Our days consisted of the same routine: wake, eat, walk, work, play tennis, play Splatoon, eat, paint, sleep, rinse and repeat.

Come 2021 and the release of the COVID vaccine, our plans and social life returned but my constant photo documentation did not. In a way, this was good because maybe I was being more present in my own life? But this led to a lot of regret following the deaths of my brother-in-law and two grandmas because I had willingly opted out of so many opportunities to photograph them and preserve their memory.

So, last October I decided to work casual photography back into my life and continue my photo catalog on Facebook. A lot of friends who aren’t familiar with my penchant for photography will remark, “Wow, you take a lot of pictures of me/us” and, as morbid as it may seem, I always think about memorial videos and how I want to have photos to share of the people I love if/when they pass. I constantly think about these things because I needed to make a memorial video for Alan, my brother-in-law, two years ago; and while it was a horrific thing to have to do, it made me so, so happy to receive all these photos that captured him at his goofiest, most joyful self.

Since creating my 2023 album in January, I have uploaded 3,782 photos to date. How special it is to have a linear timeline of this entire year, especially with said timeline consisting of snapshots of all the people I love and the fun things I got to do with them. It is so much work organizing all the photos and uploading them on a weekly basis because I take so many, but boy, is it worth it.


I had a goal of filming and editing another short doc, and while I didn’t do that I did make a recap video of the American Foundation for Suicide Awareness’s (AFSP) walk in October. I personally feel like I’m gaining a better understanding of color-grading, which is good. I enrolled in a color-grading course on Udemy and started watching the introduction but need to devote more time to the meat of it.

I didn’t do too much creating this year, save for that recap video, but I’ve been collecting a lot of footage. I know these clips will come in handy one day and, at the very least, I treasure having them now!


2023 probably marks the year that I cooked the least, and that is a big statement considering that I still cooked…a lot.

But something funny happens to a type A planner when their schedule gets thrown out of whack. Any time we hit Monday or Tuesday in a given week without me planning and purchasing ingredients for our dinners ahead of time, our meals for that entire week were effectively shot. And guess what? Due to the sheer amount of travel we did, our schedules were thrown off a lot! This led to a lot of take-out, which I’m not proud of, but it was probably the most take-out we’ve ever done in our eight-year relationship, which is good considering the fact that we were literally in college together. It’s pretty impressive that it took this long.

As funny of a statement as this is, when it comes to this department, I probably need to revert back to College Le. The Le who experimented in the kitchen on a daily basis, who found the joy in pursuing recipes not yet conquered by her knife or pan, who made lobster à la nage on a random Tuesday night just because. Lexi and I have significantly less travel planned for next year and I’ve been collecting recipes to attempt once all the holiday chaos is over, so I’m looking forward to that.


This was a massive year for my career.

In April I had my first speaking opportunity at Circuit, Dialexa’s inaugural product conference, and it was invigorating. I felt shaky onstage at first, but it was a blast when I ultimately found my rhythm! Part of me already knew this, but this event affirmed that I find a lot of enjoyment in making others laugh and being able to share my joy and love for cooking with everyone. Not only that, but it meant a lot to me to see the amount of support I garnered: from my wife, from my coworkers, and even from our client because Crystal and Gabi showed up in-person and Krystal tuned in online.

The month of May marked another professional milestone for me. One of our client’s vice presidents had personally chosen me to walk through the design portion of an initiative for the annual RCE. This meant presenting to our client’s board of directors and, most importantly, the CEO. This was a privilege I didn’t take lightly, but fortunately I felt more than prepared for it since Audrey and I had already walked through the flow a million times before to other audiences. When the day came, our team entered the board room and I plopped myself to the left of the CEO (I’m grateful for my bold and outgoing nature because I think I would have been terrified otherwise). I went through the flow as practiced and people showed an appreciation for my upbeat presentation and the jokes I made, which is always gratifying.

In July I earned a promotion from Senior Associate to Manager at Dialexa! This was a massive milestone for me because, as I had mentioned in my Circuit talk, I never viewed myself as capable of being a competent, relatable, or helpful people manager. I didn’t think I had it in me to effectively guide people through their career or support them through difficult situations at work. And please don’t read this as a symptom of me having a low self-esteem, because that’s not the case at all. I just didn’t think I’d be interested in being a mentor in the formal sense, but it turns out I really, really love it. Heck, that’s why I’m spearheading the EDU program for a third time alongside Liz, Sarah, and Gaby. Apparently I can’t get enough of mentorship!

The beginning of December brought with it another great opportunity. One of my client designers and I had the privilege of presenting our collaborative project to an audience consisting of vice presidents and managing directors, and I took a big bet and cracked a confetti egg over the both of us at the end of our presentation. That bet paid off! Folks loved it, and one vice president in particular said, “This is the best demo I’ve ever experienced.” Starting in March of this year I had developed a reputation as the “human confetti cannon” on the account I’m a design lead for and it’s starting to precede me. I needed to figure out some way to make a 3:30pm meeting on a Monday memorable, and I’m pleased with the method I opted for. 😉

Two other gratifying experiences:

  1. I reached the one-year mark of having my first direct report and had the privilege of advocating for her promotion. It was easy; vouching for someone whose work and performance you wholeheartedly believe in is a walk in the park when you’ve had a front-row seat to their explosive growth after an entire year.
  2. I needed to have a really difficult conversation with someone, and what they don’t tell you about management is that sometimes you need to have discussions about things you never thought you would ever need to address. The entire exchange was uncomfortable, but fortunately this individual took my feedback in stride, requested guidance around another opportunity of growth they had identified for themselves, and did a total 180° in their behavior in the first few days of receiving my feedback. And our friendship and working relationship is still strong, which was my priority.

Overall, I am very, very happy with the trajectory of my career and am excited to throw my name into the ring for a few more speaking opportunities next year.

Content Consumption

The great news is that I was able to get a library card in February. I was beyond excited because I live ~3 minutes driving from a Dallas branch, and shortly after acquiring my library card I started borrowing books like crazy. The bad news is that the Dallas Public Library got hacked in May, just four months later, and any borrowing or returning went on pause.

Fun fact: it is now December and the digital catalog remains offline and my account continues to be inaccessible. I still have two poetry books by Ada Limón that I have yet to return 🙃 On the bright side, I have bookworm friends who are gracious enough to lend me books from their personal library. So, despite the cybersecurity hack and stalled library operations, I’ve still been reading thanks to the generosity of the folks in my life.

But before jumping into my ranked list of #content, another event that made this year memorable: I snagged two second-row seats for Lexi and I to see Jodie Comer perform Prima Facie live in New York earlier this year! My eyes watered as soon as the curtains lifted and I saw her standing on the desk. She is a spectacular performer—arguably one of the best actresses of this generation—and I feel so, so lucky to have seen her in the flesh, especially in a production that raises awareness about sexual assault. Might I add that she also won a Tony award for her FIRST performance (A solo one, at that) on a Broadway stage? You can imagine how speechless her performance rendered me and every other attendee during her ten-week run at the Golden Theatre. This was definitely one of the highlights of my year.

Anyway, here’s a ranked list of my favorite media in their respective categories:


  1. Theater Camp
  2. Bottoms
  3. May December
  4. Barbie
  5. Elemental


  1. Beef
  2. Jury Duty
  3. Succession
  4. Heartstopper
  5. Abbott Elementary


  1. “How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America” by Clint Smith
  2. “Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World” by Cal Newport
  3. “Americanah” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  4. “User Friendly: How the Hidden Rules of Design Are Changing the Way We Live, Work, and Play” by Cliff Kuang and Robert Fabricant
  5. “The Coaching Habit” by Michael Bungay Stanier
2024 GOAL: Read 12 books.

Like I said at the beginning of this post, 2023 was a year that was very much lived in.

Between the 25 flights across states and countries, folks I decided to invest time and energy into building relationships with, tender family moments, career milestones and "unorthodox methods” (Lorie’s words) as a design lead, I am really proud of all the directions I went this year and where I’m headed. I became more skilled at time-boxing my negative emotions, letting the small things roll off my back, and communicating more directly with people.

As I've spent the last few weeks reminiscing on the year as a whole (as opposed to just my monthly reflections), lots of people have asked me in our 1:1s: "How are you?" and my face never fails to light up because I can earnestly say that I am so, so happy. Happy with who I've grown to be, with my marriage, with my relationships, with my career, with all the places I've had the privilege of traveling to this year, with my ability to navigate difficult situations, with the way I bring all of myself to every place I go and every person I meet, with all of it. Just as I predicted last year, my silver linings attitude prevailed. A string of great days led to a string of great months, which ultimately culminated in yet another great year.

On that note: here’s a farewell to the last twelve months. If you made it this far, thank you for reading this novel of a recap and I will see you at the end of 2024!

In case you didn’t get enough, here is also a round-up of my favorite photos from the last twelve months 📸 I really did try to narrow these down but this is a string of ~200 photos out of the nearly 15,000 I captured this year, so consider this my version of “curated.”

P.S. If the photos aren’t loading, please refresh your browser and that should do the trick!

If you didn't get enough and are interested in reading my first "Year in Review" from last year, you can do so here.