(don’t) Be Yourself

(don't)

Hey guys! Check out my new vlog on this topic! The picture above is me from 10 years ago. I don’t know who she is anymore. Back then, I never imagined that I could me this woman that I am now. That’s what this vlog is all about.

I Am Enough

When people carefully ask me, “What happened?” regarding my marriage, and essentially, how I became a single mom, they are waiting for a simple answer. Instead, I have a narrative that can fill up a novel.

It’s pretty standard, you may think. After all, everyone has stories that can be written into a novel.

What I emphasize is much deeper than that. We often think of someone’s unfortunate or fortunate fate as a result of one instance. We try to find that definite line of when the milestone of change began.

We come into this life with certain wirings and conditioning via our genetics, environment, and family history. The people who bring us into this world and raises us, have a tremendous impact on our brain chemistry and thinking patterns.

So if someone asks me why I became a single mom, I would start to talk about sexism and chauvinism in my family, and many families around the world, especially in traditional cultures. My background is Korean, and as much as it is a very modern society, family patterns and values are slow to change.

Examples: I was never told that I was intelligent, nor encouraged to try advanced academics. In fact, I was talked out of trying advanced courses in high school by my father. I was discouraged from pursuing my talents and desires. Compared to the male counterpart in my family, I found myself constantly pushed to the sidelines.

Instead, I was taught to be a helper, supporter, and a provider for my family. During teen years, I was regularly spoken to about getting married early, having children, to learn to be elegant, pretty, slim, because otherwise, no man will want to marry me, and my life will be over. I was encouraged to pursue education and a career that will fit the purpose of motherhood.

Now couple that with the environment I grew up in, and my natural DNA of adventurism, which I ironically inherited from my father. In my life, he was the main perpetrator of ancient gender roles.

At 21, I was still the same girl from my family. I felt responsible for everything. I had to help everyone. I had to sacrifice and put myself last before anyone else. I was greatly frustrated and angry. I needed male approval constantly because I could never please my own father. I found the first man who seemed to be able to give me these unhealthy approvals, and committed myself to him “forever.” I was 24.

Then, my life changed. At 28, I had a daughter.

I started to see the world through her eyes, and the kind of person I wanted her to become. I was far from the figure who I envisioned my daughter to become. I saw her as a powerful, successful, charismatic, and excellent woman with the world at her feet.

I knew I had to change. And there it began. At 29, still not knowing much about myself, I did the scariest thing. For the first time in my life, I pushed myself to stop being part of the cycle. I will not allow another woman in my family to be a part of the same story.

When our purpose is greater than our own, we do incredible things that we could have never imagined. For our children. Like for many parents, my children became the catalyst for change.

Always know you are enough. You are kind enough. You are smart enough. You are beautiful, caring, important enough for others to love you and reciprocate all that you have to give.

This is the story of my divorce. In a nutshell.

The 80/20 Rule

Have you heard of the Pareto Principle?

Named after Vilfredo Pareto, an Italian economist, it states that the basic principle in business is 80% of your sales come from 20% of your clients. On the flip side, 20% account for 80% of the problems.

Having been self-employed for a whole year now (yippee!) I can testify that this has been true and on point.

Can we take this to other areas in our lives, outside of business? As a conceptual thinker, I started connecting this dot as soon as I heard this piece of theory.

How about your relationships. Your “homies,” before “squad” became the new lingo.

From all the friends you have, I will bet you that 1 or 2 people account for 80% of life satisfaction, and there is a small percentage of people, say, about 20%, who gives you 80% trouble and drama.

It is really an enlightening concept. Once I became aware, I started to wean and fire some of the 20% giving me 80% of trouble out of my life. Consequently, I found myself moving in the direction I want a lot faster. This is really hard to do. What if your “bad” 20% is your spouse or significant other, your mom or dad, or a boss? It may take time, but it is possible to distance yourself and create a shield of protection around your core, mission, and heart. And hey, even though I am not an advocate for divorce and single motherhood for everyone… I do believe that sometimes extreme measures as such are necessary to make our lives better and become who we need to be. Some people find it necessary to divorce their original family for similar reasons.

Nurture and celebrate your 20% who gives you 80% satisfaction! I do every day. This keeps me on point, fuelled, and pulls me up when I stumble.

Who are your 20% power team? Call them or text them, and tell them that you love them, and how much you appreciate them.

 

 

The One Habit That Changed My Life

the one small habit that changed my life

 

Before I start, if you click on the pic above, you can see the video version of this blog! I am learning to be a better speaker, and my camera is my iPad, and improvements are always in progress! So excuse the blurriness and the newbie vibe!

—————————————————————–

There is probably something in your life that you need to work on. What is it?

Many of us think that we need to do something extreme with out lives in order to get better, whether it is career, love life, or friendship.

The truth is so simple. It takes small habits to make a big impact. Big changes start with small steps.

The funniest thing is, I used to go for drastic changes when things did not move in my favour. I would get an extreme hair cut. Move home. Change jobs. When I did these things, I did them because I felt that there was a dark cloud hanging over me that I could not shake off. Funny, things would feel better temporarily, because our brains like novelty and it releases dopamine, which makes us feel good, but then the effect would wear off. I would find myself feeling down right back where I was.

However, after repeating this pattern a few times, I started doing THIS!

I started to be grateful. Not just to think it, but to express it. Every night, before bed. At least 3 things, but every time, once I started it, it started to add up to more than 10.

And I started to get my children to do the same. It is a fabulous way to bond and connect with your family at the end of the night. We would always list what we appreciate about the day and our interaction with others, sometimes even opportunities.

I always start my gratefulness the same way. I am grateful for my family. My children. My best friend, my brother. Our health. Our comfortable beautiful home, and the food we ate today. And the important part is to truly feel why we feel so grateful.

Over the last 2 years, my life improved dramatically. My relationship with people started improving. I became a better influencer in my social circle. I started to attract positive, constructive people. And the negative ones started to slip away from my life. I became more sure of myself and more confident. It is incredible how a small habit like this, done consistently, every day, can make such a huge impact.

This, again, has all has to do with the brain. Our brains are machines with feedback loops. The more we pave the pathways of positivity, we start to act to support those thoughts, and it reinforces that thinking pattern, leading to more actions that will again, take us to feeling positive. Being grateful started to give me more opportunities and makes me a better parent, which is a top priority and a true maker of my happiness level. And if anyone has suffered with some depression, this is one of the ways that can really help you get better, not to say that it is to replace any professional help. I would say, the combination of gratefulness and meditation has exponentially changed my mental well being. 

I challenge you to do something so easy like this even for a week. The trick is to really feel the gratefulness, not just listing a bunch of things. True results start to take shape after 2 or 3 months… and the long term rewards of a year or more, it is incredible what we can achieve.

Be Jealous

greenwithenvy

Do you have a friend who is always doing better than you? Has nicer things, a perfect life, without many worries?

I used to suffer from jealousy a lot. Being a middle child, plus having a high achieving older sibling. I love my older sibling a lot, who was always my hero, and I express that all the time. However, during most of my childhood, I felt incompetent and worse… worthless.

Needless to say, I am an expert in jealousy and how to handle it, because I had to learn it in order to achieve emotional success in life. Now I am at peace most of the times, and my quality of life is better than ever. Let me share some tips on how to control the feeling of jealousy, and even better, how to use it to your advantage.

First of all, jealousy is a great sign, so listen to it. Whatever you envy or are jealous of is a sign that you want the same thing as the person who has it. So that means, the thing you are jealous of is what you need to double down on in your own life. Used correctly, the feeling of jealousy can be a great tool to understand your deep inner desires. Jealousy is a fabulous tool to gain clarity. 

Be aware not allow this sticky, gooey, yucky and ugly feeling to take over your kind nature. You are a creator, not a fixer nor a destroyer. Own the jealousy. You master it, and let it work FOR you, and not have it become your master and you slave to the horrible feeling.

Step 2: Here is how you cure jealousy. You come to clearly understand what it is that makes you jealous about the person, then you are going to go up to that person, look at them in the eye, and compliment them.

Yup.

If you see a stunning woman, and you feel jealous, maybe it is something about her that you are aspiring for. Her looks? Her fit bod? Her fabulous clothes? Her lifestyle? What is it? Talk to yourself. 

If you see someone who is successful, determine what success quality of that person you admire.

So when you feel jealousy, tell them how wonderful they are, and be specific to that thing that triggers the ooey gooey yucky and ugly. Make sure to never use backhanded compliments here! Use plain, clear, to-the-point language. If you like her clothes, tell her. If you like his lifestyle, or how much money she makes, or the car he drives, tell it to them straight up!

The immediate effect: You will sense the jealousy melt away. You are actually doing yourself a favour by now being more clear than ever in what you want, and having a model (this person you are jealous of), and verbalizing it as a compliment has made it positive in your mind. In this mind state, you are already steps closer to achieving that quality that you aspire for. 

The more you lift others like this, you lift yourself out of where you are, to where you want to be. You become kinder and more likeable, which results in attracting great people into your life. From just this one habit, you start building the life that you desire.

Determine what it is that we want from that feeling of jealousy, and put yourself to work to achieve what you want. Before you know it, you will no longer have a reason to be jealous. You have a dream life!

 

The Single Mother Myth Debunked

mom-and-kids-at-play

 

What is the one adjective that comes to your mind when you hear, “Single Mother?

Before I even say what is positive or negative, and negative even going to the extreme of hearing Anne Coulter’s opinion on how children raised in single mom homes is destroying America… the consensus seems simple that there are more negative associations with single motherhood than positive. I have heard, “desperate, poor, sad, crazy, neurotic….”

Wait, I have met people like this who were never married, or are currently married. Just go check out your child’s next parent gathering at their school. People can be in these types of negative states for whatever circumstances.

The words I use to describe the single moms I know are strong, brave, hard worker, courageous.

The judgement may start from the lack of awareness of how one becomes a single mother. Some people think that they are smarter or just made better choices. Maybe you are smart and did make better life choices. However, the odds are that life can twist and turn that your secure marriage and perfect life than be turned upside down at any second. There is no guarantee to anything in life, not even your marriage.

At certain points in my life, I was pretty sure that I made the best choice and that I would never end up being the single moms I was sometimes meeting at work or at school, when I was in university. If it didn’t happen to me, it must be because I am better. That’s a bias many people have towards certain struggles, such as sickness, injury, or accidents.

It was not until I became a single mother that I never realized how much prejudice single moms face. Especially at first, the early days were the toughest, as you are facing with friends who were close who had this judgmental side of them that suddenly starts to show up in conversations. And slowly, you are not so close anymore. Nothing much had changed, except that I was partnerless, often sad and distraught, of course, as it is the case with any life transitions and loss. Friends, some married, some single, don’t know how to deal with this huge “failure”.

Some people asked me why would I do such thing, without any knowledge of the problems I was facing. After all, it costs so much money to have 2 separate households.

Mental sanity is worth more than mountains of money.

Some people believed that there was an affair or extramarital infatuation involved. Clearly not, as I did not date for years after I made the break. And same goes for my ex spouse. We both believed that dating soon after the separation would not be the best for the children. 

I was the decision maker in the separation, so I was made the “bad guy” and was judged by people around me who had nothing to do with the relationship. I made the break because the relationship was much less suited for me than for him. Naturally, the uncomfortable person calls it time out or quits first. It does not make them the “bad guy.”

I could never do anything right. I love fashion and I loved to dress nice. That made me look like I was out looking for a new one. True story, real words.

I got judged by the place I rented, which was actually horrible. It was more than 30 years old, it was in the ground floor, and had a “friend” tell me that it was too big for a single mom. Because a single mom deserves a broom closet.

I got judged by my “financial choice.” I was destined for poverty for the rest of my life, and the kids will be messed up. After a play date, one mom actually said to me. Wow, your kids are really nice, unlike what you might think with them being from a single parent family…

I like this lady, but I was really speechless. It was the politest slap in the face.

————————————————————————————————————

I meet all sorts of families every day. I see married families with countless fights and unhealthy quirks that truly, their kids could use some serious counselling. Married families where kids are left with nannies most of the time. Not that nannies aren’t great, but they are not meant to replace parenting.

I meet families who seem to have it perfect and together, and years after it turns out that one spouse was cheating. Or one spouse has all these things they want to do, and the other spouse doesn’t let them, and that is the source of their frustration and underlying struggle, which caused them to sleep in separate beds and affected children negatively. People struggle with communication whether they are married or single. Marriage allows for the opportunity to learn to conquer your fears and limitations, and just because people stay married, it does not mean that they are growing together. Most cases, quite the opposite is happening.

Then I meet single parents who also struggle with communication. They have the same problem as married or single people, but now, they are more disposed to the “bullying.” Single moms have more limitations, true. I would love to work 24-7 and build my career, except, more than half of my time, sleep or awake, goes to parenting. What people truly lack here is empathy, because they never think that they could possibly end up in this “loser position.” Life is like an ultra marathon, not a sprint. Twists of fate is unpredictable.

I don’t feel ashamed of being a single mom anymore, and I did for many years. I could not tell my family about it, and I realize that this feeling of shame is where it was wrong. There is so much stigma that is outdated from the times we live in. If we can swipe left or swipe right and find someone to date, there is nothing to be ashamed of having given all your heart to someone who betrayed you and you moving on from that. Lesson learned, do not rinse and repeat. The worst are the people who stay in these types of relationships for the sake of comfort and normalcy, while they lead an unsuccessful life full of negativity and lack of growth.

The single moms I know are strong. They take care of themselves. They get up early and do yoga or work out in their living room, make their kids breakfast, lunch, and dinner from scratch, and nurture themselves and their children a way that they perhaps never did in their previous married life. They focus on work, kids, and enjoying life. So what is there to judge? and the possibility of these kids becoming fearful and anxious adults that will only chicken strips and nothing else?

In my observation, no child has more chance of being well adjusted. In fact, the blessing is that as the parent learns, the children learn life lessons early in how to treat people. People and influence is what affects our success rate in all aspects of life. Learn that early, and we are bound to make less grave mistakes, and that is the advantage that these single parent children have.

Whether you are single or married, are you learning, growing, progressing? We need this myth debunked.

Emotional Wellbeing

glacier_iceberg_under_water

 

When we talk about success, we often fail to talk about emotional success. I want to talk about emotional success as a woman and a parent. Emotional success is what lays the foundation for other forms of success. Without it, we may never find ourselves fulfilled, nor be able to reach the goals we aspire to.

Our thoughts are much like an iceberg. The thoughts we are aware of are only the tip of what is truly going on inside. Detrimental thoughts consume us and creates negative emotional feedback loop. It happens every day, when we go about our day, unaware of what is happening in our subconscious minds.

My career has been one of my greatest challenges. I attended university because that is what I was told to do. In fact, I wanted to go to art school. I didn’t have the confidence nor the self belief that I should do what works for me. I never stood a chance against the currents of family expectations. It all started with the fact that my father did not value the arts. He saw it as a waste of time. This started very early on. This belief system became a seed that started to poison my being. As I became older, I started to become the deliverer of that message. I started to not allow myself permission to practice what I loved the most. I had a mental block towards having a creative career. I could not allow myself to do it. Instead, I started to look for other alternatives. And I failed in all of them. I realize now that it all had to do with wanting to be a “good girl” and get approval from my parent.

I realize after all these years, at age 34, and having both my parents gone prematurely, that none of what they thought about me, and what they wanted for me, matters. Happiness is what we give ourselves. Instead, I dug myself into a hole of a life that I don’t like, based on opinions that do not matter in the end. What my parents thought never made my life better. I lived a life that does not suit me. And since going against my own wishes has become such a pattern, I constructed a life of mistakes based on that habit. From the outside, I am a good giving girl. The rest of the iceberg is a conflicted, sometimes suicidal daughter and an ex wife who is tired of giving and living on other people’s agenda, all for their love and approval, and for their purpose.

My first step to stopping this was to leave my ex husband. This is why I say that single motherhood saved me from a life of mediocrity. In that relationship too, it was all based on what he wanted and he thought our life should be. At the time, as a conflicted 21 year old woman, I felt lost about what to do with my life. As an older man, I wanted his guidance, with my parents being gone, I felt that I had no one. I never thought of myself as “the one” for me. He decided for me that I should first have his children, then worry about career. So I did, with trust. This was a failure of a relationship. Anything thereafter had to do with all his agenda, and what he wanted his life to be. Where we lived, how we decorated our house, what we fed to our children was all based on what he wanted. Me leaving that relationship was the first step to standing up for myself, in the face of chauvinism that is a strong force in many women’s lives, as it has been for mine. We sometimes forget that being in North America does not free us of deep gender issues that are rooted many generations back. My ex is not the one to take all the blame. My father and my family instilled in me that a man like this is acceptable. It took me looking into my newborn daughter’s eyes, seeing her as I was seeing myself in my mother’s arms, to make the decision that I will never allow this family to instill that same belief in her. I will never be the enabler who helps to instill belief systems that are self-rejecting and devaluing of her strengths and her desires.

At 29 I found myself in the same exact place I was as my 21 year-old self. Still lost. Confused. Good giving girl. Living for other people’s agenda. Except it is my turn to start bringing in income on top of being a good giving mom. I had not worked in more than 5 years. Careers are tough for young people just out of school. Imagine being that young person, plus two babies to look after. My friends and my brother were finishing their Ph.D. I was changing diapers and working in a low paying job.

It took me time to realize that awareness is the first step to change. Until that point, I never realized that I had been living for other people’s agenda.

The world is full of people who do not know how to love. They have not been loved well, so they do not know how to love. That was my father, and many men I have encountered. When I started to become the one I need the most, I decided that it was time for me to nurture myself, which meant that I am going to do me. It is time for me, my children. Time for ME now.

I meet many single mothers, and even though the reasons as to why they are single are different, it all rounds up to something similar. Many were good girls, and don’t see the betrayal coming their way, unaware and unable to see the little clues that were hurting us along the way. We wake up suddenly when it starts to hurt our children. Our love for them is louder than the love for ourselves. For me, the love for my children was a great catalyst. However, in order to continue to love our children well, is to become a master of self love. 

If you relate to this, this is your time to do YOU. Life is never safe, there is never a guarantee, so only now is the best time to start living free. Free of fear of being judged, not being okay, or not being able to rely on anyone. We only have ourselves in the end. 

The Happiness Study

little-baby-cute-wallpaper1

Are you 100% fulfilled and happy?

Many people delegate happiness to an external source. Happiness is out of their own control, and it is deemed unattainable in the present. The perfect life seem to be far out of reach, and is conditional to achieving a new pursuit.

“I will be happy when I _________.”

Filling in the blank is “have a new job,” “make more money,” “retire,”  “am on vacation,” or, even worse yet,  “if this person, or a circumstance changes.”

The truth of the matter is that if you don’t claim your happiness now, you will not be happy later. Life is always a progress, and perfection does not exist. Happiness is not conditional to your current financial state, marital status, or job situation. You give happiness to yourself at any given moment.

There are countless studies done on happiness. In September 2010, Time Magazine published a study done at Princeton University. The study determined that there are two types of happiness. The first kind if the type of happiness associated with daily mood. The second, is a sense of deep satisfaction. Most people who are unhappy struggle with the latter. Read the study here.

In this study, the amount of income that improves lifestyle, and changes the quality of life, and the money that actually makes people “happy,” is only at $75,000 annual income. This income level is the tipping point where people no longer have trouble with the necessities in life, and have enough to spend on other things they like to enjoy.

Having a good income makes life easier, but does not make us happier. In fact, sadness shows up in more dramatic ways when we have the money. Perhaps this can explain the rich and famous and their drug problems, and ongoing relationship problems with their family and friends.

Thinking that fulfillment is an elusive, ethereal entity that needs to be earned or chased after, is already taking the wrong approach. Happiness is not a phase. It is a constant, underlying force in our character.

You were born happy.

18 Months

We start, and we give up.

It is the case with most transformation. Eating healthy. A  new business. Meditating.

I listen and study various takes of different thought leaders. Many of them talk about 18 months to see dramatic results in a transformation.

It takes 18 months to see whether something will work out.

It can take 18 months to see results in your body with a new fitness regime.

It takes 18 months to see real difference in the quality of life if you are working with a mentor or a counsellor to better your life.

Give a business 18 months to see if you will make it. Provided, that you are not already certain. Unless you are certain that you made a mistake, give it 18 months to get your answer.

18 months is short considering our lifetime. It also feels like forever when we are in the grind.

What is my 18 months? In May, I will start working with a personal trainer. I am excited to feature her here in the near future.

I plan to finish my book and publish.

I plan to build my Youtube platform, which I have struggled to start for the last 5 years.

I plan to nurture more special relationships and have better quality of life with the people I love.

In 18 months, I am closer to living my purpose, and the life of my dreams.

In 18 months, where would you be? How could your life be different? What is your transformation?