I had the opportunity to perform at Anime Expo this year with the dance project Chemical X! We performed the halftime show of Masquerade, the main cosplay event at Anime Expo. It was my first time, and it was crazy. I had so much fun and it was really cool to be surrounded by people who are so passionate about anime. The energy was real.
In the beginning of the year, I had filled out this Amazing Year Workbook for 2014. One of the exercises in the workbook was to plan a creative retreat for yourself, so back in January, I thought about when I would probably need a creative retreat the most and what I would want to do. I knew that I would be busy with working night market events all summer/fall starting in May, so I decided to plan my creative retreat at the end of June as a breather after completing our second event. I chose to go to the OC Art Museum (which I had never heard of, but just searched online to see if it existed—and it did!) and then the beach to write my heart out. I wanted to go someplace quiet and peaceful, where I could hear my thoughts. I knew that I definitely didn’t want to head towards LA, even if the museums are better, because I did not want to deal with the traffic. Nope, LA traffic will not be part of my creative retreat, thank you very much.
So I slept in and got a late start to my day, but it all worked out because the OC Art Museum was smaller than I had expected, so I spent less time there than I had planned. (P.S. I wouldn’t recommend making a trip out there to see it if you’re not already in OC. I also think that I’m spoiled by the Mets and the Louvres of the world.) After leaving the art museum, I did a quick tour of Balboa Island because I’ve actually never seen the place in the day. Then headed to the beach to walk around, people watch, film, and write until the sun set. It was nice to see so many people gather on the hilltop above the beach to watch the sunset. Like we were all attracted to this glorious beauty that we couldn’t take our eyes off of. It’s amazing how something that happens routinely everyday can still be just as fresh and beautiful each time.
Anyway, I’m so glad that I planned this little field trip for myself. It reminded me that I have the freedom to explore that which is around me; I don’t need to have a reason to go someplace, I can go there simply because I feel like it. And I can go alone, if I feel like it. Because beauty is everywhere, and everyday we have an opportunity to find it.
Ask and you shall receive: you’ve heard it before, but it’s easier said than done. People are generally afraid to ask for things. Why? We’re afraid to look needy or stupid, or we’re just afraid of getting rejected. Learning to ask and being shameless about it is something I want to improve on, and I think it’s something that could help a lot of people out there.
The reality is, when you are too afraid to ask, then you’ve already determined the outcome for yourself—it’s going to be a NO. You already lose if you don’t try asking. If you ask, then there will be at least be a chance that that person will say yes and help you out. What we don’t realize is that most people are actually willing to help when others ask of it. It’s funny because we like to assume that nobody wants to help us when people generally like to help. So, instead of wasting our time speculating on what that person would say or think, the only way to really find out is to simply ask.
How Ask For What You Want
(From The Success Principles)
1. Ask as if you expect to get it
Ask with a positive expectation. Positive vibes lead to more positive vibes. So if you ask as if the answer will be yes, then that’s what’s likely going to happen.
2. Assume you can get it
Don’t start with the assumption that you can’t get it. You have to believe that it is possible to get whatever it is you’re asking for.
3. Ask someone who can give it to you
Make sure this person is qualified to give you what you’re asking for. You don’t want to waste time asking the wrong person. Go straight to the source.
4. Be clear and specific about what you want
It’s so important that your requests are as specific as possible. Vague requests produce vague results. Give specific amounts, a specific date and time, so that everybody is on the same page.
5. Ask repeatedly.
Persistence is key. Someone may turn you down, and it could be because they were busy or had other priorities. It’s not a reflection of you. Keep asking because somebody else (or even the same person on a different day or in a better mood,) will eventually say yes.
You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by asking. So simply start asking! Make a list of things you want but are afraid to ask for at home, school, or work. Ask yourself, what is your fear that stops you from asking? Then, write down what it’s costing you not to ask. And finally, write down what benefit you would get if you were to ask. You’ll find that the benefits almost always outweigh the costs. Give it a try, because you may just get what you ask for!
I believe that everybody has a purpose. Everybody exists for a reason, and we’re all meant to to contribute to the world in our unique way. Each person is blessed with a unique set of talents, skills, life experience, etc. that enable him or her to do something in the world. That “something” is his or her purpose.
Your purpose is essentially your life’s mission. Finding your life’s purpose is not about finding your career, although that can be a big part of it. One purpose can spawn multiple career paths, meaning there isn’t ONE thing that you’re supposed to do. Instead, there are various avenues to fulfill your purpose (ie: through hobbies or your relationships). Your purpose is bigger than your career—it is the backbone of your entire life and everything that you live and stand for. Your purpose is WHY you exist on this world. Once you discover your own personal WHY, your life will become more meaningful and fulfilling because you understand your REASON for being.
Now, finding your life’s purpose is a personal journey. You may not discover it immediately; it can take time. It’s been about three years since I’ve started thinking about my purpose. Over the years, I’ve tried various exercises that have helped me clarify my purpose. Here, I’ve compiled a set of questions that will help get you started on discovering your life’s purpose. It’s a slow and personal process, so be patient and open minded through it all. The first step is to believe that you have a purpose in life and that you are capable of discovering and fulfilling it.
Questions to Help Find Your Purpose
I suggest copying the following questions into a word doc and taking the time to answer them at your own pace. The sub-questions are similar but written to get slightly different responses. Feel free to answer just the ones that speak to you.
1. What brings you joy?
- What activities make you happy?
- What do you love to do?
- What can you find yourself doing for hours on end and not be tired?
- What were your favorite things to do or play as a child?
- What makes you come alive?
- What things have made you feel excited to get out of bed?
These are your passions. They are your COMPASS. Your passions are driven by an innate love and joy. You’re drawn to them for a reason: they lead you to where you are meant to go.
2. What makes you unique?
- What are you naturally good at? What comes easy to you?
- What do your close family and friends tell you that you are good at?
- What is the thing that people admire most about you?
- What problems in others are you good at solving? (What do people come to you for counsel about?)
- What do you do so well that people cannot determine whether you are working or playing?
- What were you doing when you were 100 percent at the top of your game?
Realizing your natural talents and strengths is essential to finding your purpose. These are your TOOLS. You are given this set of talents and strengths for a reason: to use them to help others or to contribute to the world in your own unique way.
3. What does your perfect life look like?
- What is your dream story?
- What would you do with your life if you knew that you could not fail?
- What would you do if money didn’t matter?
- If every job/career/calling in the world paid $15/hour, what would you choose to do as a profession?
- What does your ideal life look like in 10 years? Who is in your life? Where are you living?
- How do you spend your time? What does your ideal day/week/year look like?
Don’t limit yourself here. Dare to write your biggest, boldest, and truest answers because your perfect life is attainable—the first step is to acknowledge what you truly want. This is your VISION. Your vision shows you who you want to be.
4. How can you give back to the world?
- Who do you want to help?
- How do you want to help them? (Teaching, volunteering, charity, etc)
- How can your unique strengths benefit others?
- What were you doing when you made an impact on someone else’s life? How did it make you feel?
- What causes do you care about? What grieves or frustrates you the most about this life and society?
- If you had ten minutes to address the world, what would you talk about and why?
True happiness and fulfillment comes from giving back and helping others. By definition, your purpose includes how you will make a meaningful contribution to the world and those around you. This is your IMPACT.
5. Look for patterns
Now it’s time to go over your answers and look for patterns. What is the common thread amongst all your gifts, talents, and abilities? Think about what connects each aspect of you between your passions, your talents, your dreams, and your impact.
6. Write your purpose statement
Finally, sit in quiet self reflection. Write “What is my true purpose in life?” on top of a page, and let the answer come to you. Keep writing versions of your purpose statement until it feels right to you. The words don’t need to be poetic or pretty, what is important is how inspired they make you feel. You should feel an emotional tug when you come up with your purpose statement, as if you care about each word deeply. Later, feel free to revisit and redefine your purpose from time to time as needed.
Tying this exercise together, I like to believe that in general: your purpose is to follow your compass and utilize your tools to realize your vision and make your impact. Of course, it’s nicer to come up with a concise and unique purpose statement that embodies all of these things, so keep writing until you’ve found it!
To create and communicate beauty and meaning, to promote love and goodness, to share my light and empower others to create the lives of their dreams.
To break it down:
To create and communicate beauty and meaning: through music, writing, speaking, video, design, or any other media. Also, to live a beautiful and meaningful life.
To promote love and goodness: Love = Love yourself, love those around you, love humankind, love the earth, love the universe. Goodness = Do good – for yourself, for others, for the world. Good intentions. Good morals. Social good.
To share my light: To share my values, knowledge, and wisdom with the world. To lead by example.
And empower others to create the lives of their dreams: Show others that they can create a life that is meaningful, fulfilling, and beautiful to them.
In the end, only you can be you. Find the path the allows you to reach your fullest potential and be the greatest version of yourself. When you live aligned with your life’s purpose, it’s naturally inspiring to others. People can sense when you are doing what you’re meant to be doing, and that inspires and encourages others to do the same. Also, when you live out your purpose, you are automatically making the world a better place because you’re contributing your best self to the world.
Imagine if everybody lived their lives aligned with their purpose: Everyone would be happy and fulfilled doing what they do best and lifting each other up. The world would be a beautiful place.
Steve Pavlina: How to Discover Your Life Purpose in 20 Min
Think Simple Now: 15 Questions to Discover Your Personal Mission
WikiHow: How to Find Your Life’s Purpose
Resistance – it’s that weird force that keeps us from doing what we really want to do. Resistance doesn’t want us to grow, it wants us to stay the same. Resistance loves comfort. The War of Art has recently opened my eyes to how resistance can lurk everywhere in our lives, and if we’re not aware of it, we can let it get the best of us. Let’s empower ourselves and regain control over our lives—we have to fight and beat resistance every single day. That’s the only way we can win this war.
I love traveling. My brother is spending his summer in Seattle, so my mom and I decided to make a trip out of it and help him move in! I absolutely love how the city overlooks the ocean—cities on water are so my thing.
The first video covers our arrival and Pike Place Market. The second video covers most of the rest of the trip: Space Needle, Chihuly Garden and Glass, Japanese Garden, driving onto the Washington State Ferry to Bainbridge Island, Microsoft visit, and Elvis’s incomplete speech. Tried out a voiceover for the first time in the second video and I’m digging the style. Let me know what y’all think!
I try to swim at least once a week. I started a “Swim Mondays” tradition in January and have been going pretty consistently since. Although Swim Mondays has turned into “Swim Any Day of the Week Before the Next Monday Comes,” I’m still quite proud of myself for picking up a new habit and getting back into swimming. I even go in full gear in my swimsuit from my high school swimming days, swim cap, goggles, and ear plugs. Yep, I get serious.
When the ear plugs go in and I make my first launch, the world drowns out, and all I can hear is the sound of the water swishing and my own breathing. It’s calming at first, focusing on my breathing as I swim laps. The world is quiet and it’s just me. Then I get tired. As I start to take faster breaths, all I can hear is myself struggling, and then I get slower and slower and eventually find myself chilling in a lazy backstroke as I catch my breath.
But today I tried something new. As I swam, I started thinking about my day and being grateful that I had a productive and healthy day of work, dance, and now swim. I started thinking about my mom and sending her good vibes, acknowledging my love for her and thanking her for everything she’s done. I thought about how I want her to be happy and healthy. Then I turned around for another lap. I moved on to my brother, whom we just left up in Seattle—he’ll be there all summer for an internship. I started wishing him luck with his new job and with living away from home for the first time in a new place with no friends yet. I know he’s uncomfortable right now, but I’m confident he will be just fine, as he always is. I spent two laps sending my thoughts to my brother. Then another lap for my grandma—the queen of our giant family, resilient as ever. And another lap for my other grandma who’s in Shanghai—I haven’t seen her in a while, but I still love her and wish her well. Then more laps as I moved on to other aunts, uncles, cousins.
Swoosh. I got to Shirley, the first of our cousins to be a mother, and just being so proud of her for being the best example of a mother I’ve seen. Swoosh. Then on to Donna, Frank, oh, and then Raymond—thankful for him picking me up from school and swim practice back in the day. I even swam one for my Gemini friends who are having their birthdays over the weekend. “Happy Birthday Allen!” I thought mid-lap.
I kept going and going, because I had more and more people to thank, more people to think of, more people to send love to because they deserved it (I would name them all but I’ll save you from boredom). With each lap, I realized how many awesome people I have in my life, how many people have supported me and loved me and contributed to who I am. And for them, I had the stamina to keep swimming. There were even some laps where I wanted to tear up in my goggles because I just felt so much love.
Eventually, I did start to get tired because my legs were cramping. And then I got to my cousin Kevin. Oh, Kevin. He’s a man’s man: a big guy with a beard, who BBQs, shoots guns, loves cars, and can build machines with his own bare hands. He’s a strong one. I have to be strong too, like Kevin. And so I finished one more lap, just for that.
When I finally stopped for water, I realized I had never swam that many laps nonstop with so much energy. I wasn’t even that out of breath. I could keep swimming because I had a reason to keep swimming. I had people to honor and thank and love. I felt so much energy from focusing my thoughts on the people I love and that really fueled me.
What I learned from this: It can be boring to focus on yourself all the time. Try to focus outside of yourself once in a while, appreciate what’s around you—the people, places, and things that have contributed to your life—and be grateful for it all. Next time you exercise, consider running each lap for a specific loved one, or dedicating each rep to something that you’re grateful for. Just like how people get through workouts by letting music pump them up, see if you can create your own “music” and get pumped up by thinking about who and what really matter to you.
Now my legs are so sore, but I’m happy. And I’m looking forward to get back in the pool because I still have so many more people and things to swim for.
There’s a lot of talk surrounding the UCSB shooting that occurred on Friday. First of all, my heart truly goes out to the victims, their families and friends, all of the students at UCSB and its surrounding community. Also, I do not want to give the shooter any attention so as to mention his name, because he does not deserve any of it. I just want to share some thoughts since I feel this event brings up deep issues in our society that we need to pay attention to, reflect on, and work to improve together. Yes, we could talk about gun rights and mental health issues but I honestly just want to focus on the misogyny and male entitlement that fueled this tragedy. I’m here to talk about the #YesAllWomen hashtag and why it’s so real, relevant, and important. (If you haven’t kept up with the hashtag, please do so now. I’ll still be here when you come back. Go ahead, I’ll wait.)
The UCSB shooter blamed and hated on women for not being attracted to him, as if that attention was something he was entitled to. He objectified women and based his self worth on his ability to acquire those objects/women, adopting an extreme example of a definition of masculinity consistently depicted and reinforced in our own society. Quoting this post from Reappropriate:
For [the shooter], masculinity was defined primarily through sexual conquest: the degree to which a man successfully woos a woman, and the quality (i.e. beauty) of the woman wooed. Disturbingly, Rodger’s sex-based definition of masculinity was not unique: it is a definition prevalent throughout American popular culture, and one embraced by the Asian American community, too. It is reflected in countless popular culture films (for example, Don Jon), and it is a central tenet of the “seduction community” where it is called the “game.” Pick-up artistry refers to self-help workshops (costing thousands of dollars a session) that purport to teach men the seduction skills to “score” a woman (called “targets”) rating 7 or higher on the program’s standardized beauty scale.
Our society is flawed in that men associate masculinity and power with how well they can “get girls;” as if women are objects and courting is a “game” to win; as if they are entitled to “conquer” or “own” women. There’s a real problem when men blame, hate, and punish women for not complying to their desires or for being autonomous with their body, their words, and their life. It’s sad that it’s easier to say “I have a boyfriend” than “no” because men are more okay with respecting another man’s “domain” than respecting a woman’s autonomous decision that she’s simply not interested.
And the double standard for women that arises from such views is so unbelievable and difficult. Read this article on the impossible paradox on women’s sexuality that became deadly this week: Slut Shamed to Death For Saying Yes to Sex, Murdered for Saying No… I just can’t. Those tweets to Alyssa Funke are disgusting and terribly sad. They’re the same people rebutting the #YesAllWomen tag with dumb misogynistic remarks and jokes—it’s all very sickening and I can’t believe people like that exist in our world.
Ultimately, a woman has the right to choose what to do with her body, her words and her life, like every human being should. Women’s rights are human rights. It really should be quite simple. We need to start respecting people for who they are and for their decisions, even if we don’t agree with them. It’s called having love for the human race, AKA justice.
To all the guys out there saying #NotAllMen are like that—yes, you’re right. But these tweets:
“UNFAIR! NOT ALL MEN!” Imagine a bowl of M&Ms. 10% of them are poisoned. Go ahead. Eat a handful. Not all M&Ms are poison. #YesAllWomen
— Martin Wagner (@wagnerfilm) May 26, 2014
Women know that not all men are rapists, murderers, or violent—but the thing is, there’s no way to tell. This article speaks it clearly:
…when a woman is walking down the street, or on a blind date, or, yes, in an elevator alone, she doesn’t know which group you’re in. You might be the potential best guy ever in the history of history, but there’s no way for her to know that. A fraction of men out there are most definitely not in that group. Which are you? Inside your head you know, but outside your head it’s impossible to.
And more importantly, this:
— Jean Johnson (@JeanJAuthor) May 26, 2014
Stop being defensive, because when you’re defensive, you’re not really listening or making an effort to understand. If you want to be constructive, start actually listening, supporting, and speaking up amongst other men. Promote discourse until it becomes more and more the norm.
Here’s a snippet from a solid article Not All Men, But Still Too Many Men:
Instead of telling women that it’s not all men, show them.
Show them by listening and supporting.
Show them by cleaning the dogshit out of your ears and listening to their stories — and recognize that while no, it’s not “all men,” it’s still “way too many men.” Consider actually reading the #YesAllWomen hashtag on Twitter not to look for places to interject and defend your fellow men, but as a place to gain insight and understanding into the experiences women have. That hashtag should serve as confirmation that women very often experience the spectrum of sexism and rape culture from an all-too-early age. Recognize that just because “not all men” are gun-toting, women-hating assholes fails to diminish the fact that sexism and rape culture remain firmly entrenched and institutional within our culture.
Because if your response to the shooting is to defend men (or worse, condemn women) instead of speaking out against this type of violence and attitude, then you best check yourself.
This isn’t the time to talk about nice guys. Or friend zoning. Or men’s rights. Or rejection.
I hope you also share your thoughts on this with somebody, anybody. Just start the discussion. Because when you don’t speak up about misogyny and violence against women, your silence condones it. In order to become better citizens of this world, we all need to open our minds, ears, and hearts and make an effort to understand the issues around us. We can’t change the world alone, but by continuing to share our thoughts and promote discourse on social issues, we can collectively shape a new norm and move society towards a brighter future.