motivation · Personal Success

Set Your Mind to It

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Photo by Annie Spratt

When I was five and my sister was four, our babysitter watched us coloring in our coloring books. Where my sister stayed within the lines, I colored slightly (OK, maybe not so slightly) outside the lines. “JoAnne colors nicely and Caroline needs to work on that a little bit.” Her sarcasm was not lost on me, even then.

This bit of criticism colored my world (pardon the pun!) “I am not a good artist.” This was just something I accepted for many years. But I’ve always longed to draw and paint. For someone with no formal art education, I think I am pretty OK. I think I can improve and I very much want to improve.

Thanks to Carol Dweck, we can all sigh optimistically now.

For eons, people believed in the “Fixed Mindset”  – that talents are innate and readily apparent; Believers assert that one should avoid mistakes and failures. In fact, if you find yourself failing at something, people who adopt the “fixed mindset” philosophy say you ought to just quit, because clearly, it’s not for you.

But Dweck, one of the leading researchers of motivation, discovered the truth about achievement and learning: The Growth Mindset. She says you learn from mistakes. You grow! Intelligence and talent are developed and in order to be successful, you must make mistakes. Clearly, this is true. The Wright brothers did not discover how to create a plane on the first attempt and Edison did not discover the light bulb on his first try, either. One needs to make mistakes to learn, grow and achieve.

Growth Mindset believers say “yet”  is the magic word. I can’t draw well yet, but with consistent practice and quality education, I will!

Check out her website: mindsetonline.com. It includes a test to determine where you are on the mindset continuum and ways to change it.

I’m going to start drawing lessons (free) on skillshare.com. Go Growth Mindset!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Health · relationships · writing

declaration

 


May the laughter and love in your life eclipse tears of sorrow.

May your present be so full, that there’s no thought of tomorrow.

May your life’s work – day to day – be notably divine.

May your heart beat loud and full, a veritable goldmine.

I wish great fortune to smile down upon you –

that is – for you to accept all that is absolute.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Health · Personal Success · relationships

Principles

 

One of our vocabulary words in my fifth grade class this week was principle: “a personal or specific basis of conduct or management.” Basically, I told my students, principles are your personal beliefs and values and they dictate how you act.

My sister in Silicon Valley emailed a news article to me. Santa Clara officials have “declared the teen suicide problem an urgent health care problem” due to the episodes of suicide clusters in that area. High school students (many from affluent homes of highly educated parents) are committing suicide in staggering numbers. They jump in front of trains, they jump off overpasses and buildings and they hang themselves. A Yale psychologist who has studied this phenomenon says that, “on average, rich offspring experience serious levels of depression and anxiety at twice the national rates.”

Why are children who seem to have so much promise taking their lives?

The experts have identified two factors: overwhelming pressure to succeed AND a broken or non-existent bond within their families. These youth are showing signs of mental illness and their parents are in denial. The principles, then, of these parents are simply high achievement, excellent education and then successful careers for their offspring. Absent is the principle of unconditional love and acceptance.

At this moment, our country is experiencing high tension: racial violence and racist rhetoric not seen since the civil rights movement is now a reality. The principles in our current federal administration seem to be tax cuts for the wealthy, protect the KKK and bully people into submission. Again, absent is the principle of unconditional love and freedom. Absent is the principle of peace and equal rights (for women, LGBTQ, immigrants, etc.)

With such principles, only disaster can result.

It is up to each of us to do our own part to right this wrong.

  • Vote hate out.
  • Join the NAACP.
  • Join NPR.
  • Subscribe to the NY Times.
  • Volunteer at a community organization that serves people in need.

Any other ideas? Feel free to add!

 

 

 

motivation · relationships

Peace, Not Passivity

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Photo by Jakob Owens

There’s a lot of political strife and fear going around. I keep hearing about people losing sleep over the recent events in Virginia with the supremacist groups and the death of an innocent protestor.

I offer this: Take a deep breath. Do not expect others to feel the way you do. Do not get frustrated and scared. Instead, think of one SMALL thing you can do to feel effective and do it. You’ll feel better. You might even sleep better.

Lead by example.

Show up. We need people to show up for what they believe in.

But fighting and arguing are only going to get defenses up.

And, for your insomnia, I offer this YouTube video of Byron Katie speaking with someone who feels the way you do. Trust me, you need to watch this. It’s magic.

This is not a call for passivity. You need to feel the inner peace before you can help create the peace outside of yourself.

 

Health · motivation · Personal Success

What’s Good About This?

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Sometimes, life seems pretty awful. We dread the tragedies, the upsets, and the disappointments. We try to cling to the successes, the celebrations, and the joy. But life keeps bringing us both. There is no need to fear the “bad” and then dwell on it when it (ultimately) happens.

What you can do is change your thinking.

You can see life differently, and thus, experience it differently. Everything can be good.

It starts with falling in love with reality, warts and all. Accept what is. Don’t judge it.

The other way to change your thinking it to ask the right questions.

One of the most important ones to ask yourself – in the face of adversities and hardship – is:

What is good about this?”

This question really is not that hard to ask. It seems difficult (if not impossible) because we’re programmed to react a certain way to certain events.

There is no changing reality. Your loved one died. You lost your job. You lost your home. You receive a cancer diagnosis. This is reality and no amount of crying or complaining will change it. 

Should you suffer for an extended period of time? Forever? If you suffer, does that do justice to your loved one who passed away? Does it prove you loved them enough?

No. You’re just suffering. And you might be causing those around you who love you to suffer, too.

This is a radical concept in our society. We seem to enjoy drama. But drama is draining.

When you seek the positive, your entire body changes for the better. So does your mind. And when you are light in body and mind, then you can act with clarity and energy. After all, that is what we are, energy. We live and we die, but the energy remains.

Keep asking the question. There is an answer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

motivation · Personal Success

Be a Wild Flower

Photo by Milos Tonchevski

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I have a desert garden in my backyard. A beloved neighbor gave us all of her potted plants when she moved out of state and the plants have thrived. This year, some new wildflowers grew next to the pots. They’re not related to any of the potted plants and they are not being irrigated. Yet, they continue to grow beautifully on the little rain they get.

People can be like wildflowers. They are transplanted from some other place and they just grow. They take advantage of the resources available.  They don’t ask permission. They don’t shrink because the other plants were there first.

They are beautiful in their uniqueness, their peculiarity, and their originality.

We can all be like wildflowers: wild, courageous, strong and proud.

Be like a wildflower. Don’t look for approval or acceptance. Hold your head up high.

 

Health

10/10 – Would Recommend to a Friend

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I fought it for a long time. It seemed too expensive. I can buy my own groceries and cook dinners like that! But…I never did. I cooked the same dinners over and over again. My family and I were uninspired.

A family member (thanks Karen!) sent me a free box (includes 2 meals for 4 people). The box arrived with ultra-fresh vegetables and meats and the cutest tiny bottles of vinegars. Large recipe cards included detailed steps for cooking. My teenage daughters were intrigued and offered to help me cook (Huge benefit #1).

These boxes require actual cooking.  So if you don’t like cooking, don’t subscribe. We got busy washing produce, chopping, measuring, and mixing. Once cooked, the kitchen smelled amazing. We sat at the table with anticipation and we were not disappointed! Dinner was delicious (Benefit #2)!

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BlueApron.com

The meals are designed to minimize waste. We had no leftovers,  yet we felt satisfied. The box is cardboard, = recyclable; packaging = recyclable; the two large ice packs can be resused. But if you subscribe, you’ll quickly run out of room in your freezer should you save the ice packs. I cut the freezer bags open, dispose of the insides and recycle the plastic.

The cost is more than regular grocery shopping, but less than dining out. It’s a lot healthier than eating out so it’s a win-win in my eyes.

You can opt for a 2-person meal plan with 3 meals/box. Price/serving is $9.99 for a weekly total of $59.94.

A 4-person meal plan with 2 meals/box comes to price/serving of $8.99 for a weekly total of $71.92. you could get 4 meals/box for a price/serving of $8.99 and a weekly total of $143.84.

About the food:

  • farm-fresh, seasonal
  • meat has no hormones
  • sustainably sourced seafood
  • vegetarian preferences available

You can cancel at anytime and you can skip a week here and there with no problem (we did that when we went out of town for vacation). They also offer wine (with or without the meal plan).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

relationships

Speak Up

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Photo by tchompalov

Five years ago, I left a corporate job to go back to teaching. I missed the kids more than I wanted the money.

I was asked to teach the 4th quarter with sixth graders in a low socio-economic school. Their previous teacher abandoned the post. He never said goodbye, he just left. Of the 30 students I taught, more than half had fathers in prison. Every child qualified for free breakfast and lunch. One of the male students had very strange eyebrows. Someone told me that his older brother and a gang tied him down and shaved his eyebrows off. They never grew back quite right.

As I got to know the children, I realized most had been traumatized in a number of ways: neglect, verbal and physical abuse and (I suspected) sexual abuse.  One of my students was a sweet, round-faced boy. He wore the same pants every day and they looked dirty, but he was always kind. He was always smiling and he walked and talked slowly. I’ll call him Francisco.

One of the teachers had over 12 years experience at the school. She was extremely strict with all of the kids. I know she cared about them and wanted them to be successful, but she acted as if each child had a bull’s eye on their back. She was constantly barking orders and yelling.

We were outside, lined up to go back inside from lunch. Francisco walked slowly to line. Apparently, too slowly. This teacher yelled at him, “Who do you think you are? What are you trying to prove? Too cool to care?” We all stood, stunned. “When you walk, walk with purpose and walk fast! And tuck your shirt in!”

I wanted to explain that this was the way he always walked.

I wanted to come to his defense and vouch for his character.

I wanted to stop her from attacking him wrongfully.

But I didn’t. I froze.

 

It haunts me to this day. I should have stood up for him.

But he was Mexican-American. She was Mexican-American. I am Korean-American, an outsider, only to be there for 9 weeks.

This was their school, not mine.

I see now, I was wrong. It was our school. Right is right and wrong is wrong.

 

Never just stand by silently. Speak your mind when you see a wrong.

Otherwise, you’re participating in the injustice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

motivation · Personal Success

The Big 5

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A simple tool I learned from Tim Ferriss which has kept my day in alignment to my (true) goals:

Write the 5 most important tasks on an index card each morning.  At the end of the day, discard the card and the next morning, begin again.

In this day and age of highly distractible events, it helps me stay focused on the most important tasks I want to accomplish.

 

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Personal Success

Podcasts & Productivity

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Photo by Jonathan Velasquez

A year ago,  I read the book “The $100 Startup.”

I hardly remembered what I read, but I recently listened to a podcast (Optimal Living Daily) where the podcaster reviewed this book. The big takeaway (among many) is that people spend an awful lot of time trying to blaze their own trails to success when they can simply follow someone who has already achieved what they want.

The reasoning, Justin (podcast host) believes, is because it feels good to try to create our own means and methods. But if you really want to achieve your goal(s), the most efficient way is to simply follow what someone already did.

This makes sense! Why reinvent the wheel?

We feel good and effective as we blaze our own trail, because we feel so busy.

But do not confuse “busy” with “productive.”

Check the podcast out, he covers many great writers and entrepreneurs. Justin’s voice is very even and mellow. It was easy to listen to as I walked my dog.

 

 

Personal Success

He(art)

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Photo by Randy Tarampi

“If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.”

Vincent Van Gogh

The voice might then say, “See? This is terrible!” But great work only comes from practice.
Stop procrastinating.
Creativity is the answer to all the “bad” in the world, because art is a culmination of love over time. It is optimism defeating pessimism.
writing

3 Unchangeable Things

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Photo by Nathan Anderson

“A sober friend of mine from Texas said once that the three things I cannot change are the past, the truth and you.”

Anne Lamott, Help. Thanks. Wow.

 

Why play the past over and over in your head? It’s over.

Why argue with reality? It’s the truth. You can’t argue with actuality.

And people. They are who they are. They have their own stories. You have yours. Do not be concerned with their stories, their opinions, or even them. 

If you accept these three certainties, you’ll be happy.

You want to be happy, don’t you?

relationships

Say What?

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With one daughter out of town,  I thought I’d take the other teen on a lunch date.

She finished eating before I did.

“Are you done?” She asked.

“Um, no. Clearly, I’m not. I’m still masticating.”

“Ew. Mom. Not here at the table.”

 

writing

A Must-Read for All Artists

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Rainer Maria Rilke 1900

“If your everyday life seems poor to you, do not accuse it; accuse yourself, tell yourself you are not poet enough to summon up its riches; since for the creator there is no poverty and no poor or unimportant place.”

Rainer Maria Rilke

I recommend reading  Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke. This book is a collection of letters 27-year-old Rilke wrote to a 19-year-old cadet who was seeking guidance and feedback on his poetry.

His book will ground you and connect you to the true beauty of creating art…of being an artist. He reminds us that the beauty is in expressing our true selves through our craft, not in expecting fame or money.

Rilke died at 51, a successful novelist and poet.

motivation · Personal Success

Bold Moves

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Photo by Stephen Di Donato

Approximately 50% of the population makes New Year’s resolutions. Of them, only 10% realize their goals (Psychology Today).

To make major changes in your life, you need to make some bold moves. But “bold” does not mean drastic and sudden. I like to think of being bold as “being courageous” and embracing a level of discomfort in order to grow.

Waking up a half hour earlier than usual and walking for 30 minutes might be uncomfortable, but doing so on a consistent basis for six months or more will undoubtedly result in favorable change.

One of the main reasons people don’t reach their goals is because they set unrealistic objectives. They plan on making radical changes through extreme acts. In reality, all it takes is a bit of courage to expand one’s comfort zone and to do it consistently…kind of like erosion: slow and steady.

 

 

 

 

relationships

Non-Reaction

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Photo by Harli Marten

Engaging in an argument is futile.

Reacting to offensive remarks and actions is also unproductive.

When faced with distasteful feelings and thoughts (yours or someone else’s), imagine your insides to be transparent. Allow these episodes to go right through you.

Nothing is that serious.

This is why Buddha smiles.

 

 

 

Personal Success

Tiny Beautiful Things

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Photo from Rejoyce Today
Just finished this. It’s a great read with invaluable advice on writing and life. I highly recommend it. There are lingering doubts about the authenticity of some letters and emails to Miss Sugar. Who cares? Each inquiry is realistic if not completely true. Her responses are what really count. Most of her answers include events from her own life. They are compelling! Check it out. 

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I’m also about to read Help Thanks Wow from Anne Lamott. I know I will love this book, because I absolutely adore Lamott!

Personal Success

Unroll.Me

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photo by Domenico Lola

I unsubscribed an email I received the other day. And then another. I don’t even remember signing up for these emails. Sometimes, they are a hindrance. Solution: Unroll.me.

This is a free service. All you have to do is go to their website and submit your email address. You do have to allow them access to your contacts and email (of course) and they will process for a few seconds.

Result:

unrollme

You pick and choose through your current subscriptions:

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If you’re getting too many unwanted emails, check them out!

https://unroll.me/

Periodically, they’ll tell you they found more subscriptions and you’ll get an opportunity to refresh and review. It’s a great way to quickly whittle your inbox down!

Personal Success

Leaders

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Photo by Brooke Lark

I’ve had my share of jobs in my career and consequently, many bosses. I’ve had a couple excellent managers and too many bad ones.

What’s a bad boss? Well, I had one who actually spied on my group while we we met to see if we were working. She treated us like children. She rarely praised anyone yet openly criticized us. As a result, most of us acted like children. When she was off-site, some of her employees came to work late, left early and goofed off during extra long breaks. She didn’t treat us like professionals, so (most of us) did not act like professionals.

One of the best bosses/supervisors I’ve ever had just retired. He treated us like professionals. He believed we were experts in our areas. He gave us respect and in turn, we respected him. He was unshakeable. If a “crisis” occurred, he handled it, with class and if possible, with humor.

Leaders ought to carry themselves the way they want their “followers” to behave. They exude confidence in themselves and their employees/civilians. They are astute observers and possess strong people skills. They do not speak ill of anyone (even opponents or competitors). Instead, they emphasize the positive and instill optimism within their team.

 

 

Personal Success

Grateful for Aging

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Photo by Alex Harvey
She sat across from me at her birthday dinner. She just turned 35. I am almost 49.

“I have laugh lines! I am getting gray hairs that stick straight up on end!”

“Well, it just makes it easier to pluck them out,” I said, trying to cheer her up.

“I am not going to complain about getting old. I LOVE aging!”

I looked at her sideways. This was unexpected. Who loves aging?

She explained, “We’re lucky to get old. Not everyone does. We should celebrate getting older, we’re so fortunate to keep living!”

Indeed.

I’ve decided that even though I live in America, where it is becoming a crime to be gay, trans, Mexican-American, Muslim or old, I hope we will eventually be like Taiwan when it comes to social issues. I’m not gay, but as an Asian-American, I know what discrimination feels like. In Taiwan, gays have equal rights.  The Taiwanese also respect their elders and take care of them. So I’m going to walk around proud in all my Asian and old glory because I know I’m lucky to be alive and kicking.

writing

Dialogue

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Photo by Cristina Gottardi

“One line of dialogue that rings true reveals character in a way that pages of description can’t.”

Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird

Natalie Goldberg recommends that you listen carefully to dialogue and speech when you are in public places. Yes, it’s eavesdropping. But it’s also professional development. You’re not listening to be nosy. You’re listening so that you can be a better writer. Listen carefully to cadences, slang, vocabulary and observe mannerisms, facial expressions and reaction times.

How do people reveal themselves? What are they wearing? What does disappointment look like? What about fear? Joy?

Writers are keen observers. Dialogue is part of honesty that Lamott mentioned in chapter one of Bird by Bird.

The more accurate you are about observing and recording, the more authentic your story will be.

Personal Success · writing

The Key to Writing Great Fiction

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Photo by Paul Brandeo

“The very first thing I tell my students on the first day of a workshop is that good writing is about telling the truth.”

Anne Lamott in Bird by Bird

The truth. It’s clear we want the truth, even in fiction. We can spot a lie within a fiction story instantly.  That character would never do that! And then we get angry. Have you ever watched your favorite TV series and then someone does something completely out of character and it makes you so angry you quit watching? Ahhhh…for the love of ratings!

Great art is about presenting the truth. It has to come honestly from the heart, not from the desire to shock or manipulate emotions or increase your follower count.

Lamott emphasizes throughout her book the importance of allowing the characters to come to you and to reveal themselves to you. She cautions against inserting dialogue, action and plot that doesn’t emanate naturally from the characters. It will sound forced because it IS forced.

I’m not a painter, sculptor, photographer or actor, but I believe this philosophy pertains to all arts.  As a famous sculptor once said,

“…a knot of wood or a block of marble made it seem that a figure was already enclosed there and my work consisted of breaking off all the rough stone that hid it from me”.”\

Auguste Rodin (The Guardian)

Observe. Wait. The truth will reveal itself.

 

 

 

 

Personal Success

Efficiency Tip

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Photo by William Iven

Remove Facebook from your phone.

You’ve probably heard that if you’re trying to lose weight or get healthy, you should not keep junk food in the house.  Will power is depletable. That is, it will work for a certain amount of time before you will inevitably give in.

In the same vein, if you want to be productive, don’t keep time wasters so easily accessible.

Consider replacing that app with a productivity or inspiring podcast you can listen to during down times. Or install a reading app such as Kindle or Audible.

Set yourself up for success.

 

 

Health · Personal Success

At First Blush…

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photo by Evan Kirby

par·a·dox

ˈperəˌdäks/
noun
  1. a seemingly absurd or self-contradictory statement or proposition that when investigated or explained may prove to be well founded or true.

 

I roll out of bed after two days of rest from exercising. I do not want to work out today! Paradoxically, after such a long respite, I feel more tired than usual. But I don my clothes and shoes and start the physical self-flagellation exertion.

Curiously, I feel so much better afterwards. I actually have more energy after expending it: the fridge gets cleaned out, I chirpily run errands with the family and I feel like I can handle anything.

Not everyone feels this way, I know. But if you’re in a slump, give it a try. I’m recommending a challenging workout, not just a walk around the block. See if it works. (It’s better than over-caffeination, eating sugar or complaining!)

 

Personal Success

Reverence is the Answer

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By Vittorio Zamboni

“Let’s think of reverence as awe, as presence in and openness to the world.”

Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird

 

If you wake up grateful for the day – the sunshine, your comfy bed, your loved ones – and you continue this state of gratitude and presence, imagine how happy you would be.

Have you ever been sick with flu or had a broken bone and then realized you’ve recovered completely? Remember how happy you were just to be “back to normal?” This is gratitude and reverence and you can live in this light all the time, if you choose.

 

 

 

Personal Success

Fresh as a Flower

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photo by Annie Sprat

“Don’t go to bed angry.”

This is an ancient sentiment and lives on to this day, for good reason.

Numerous studies suggest that avoiding anger at bedtime is the most common advice given by couples married for life.

Buddhists and other spiritual teachers advocate the sentiment behind “flower fresh” (Thich Nhat Hanh) (YouTube video) not only for relationships with others, but for our own happiness. Approach each day, each moment, with the freshness of a flower. You do not harbor anger, sadness or worry, which is suffering that you bring upon yourself.

It takes 90 seconds for your body to process the anger both mentally and physically. And then it can be released completely. If your anger lasts longer than that, it’s because you’re holding on to it.

Choose happiness and let it go.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

writing

Wanted: Trailblazers

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Artists are powerful because they appeal to people’s hearts and minds. Painters, sculptors, writers, musicians and other artists are changemakers.  Writers, for example, can be drivers for social equity.

Two Asian actors in “Hawaii Five-O” just left the show. When they signed on, they were the big names. No one really knew the two white lead actors (Alex O’Loughlin and Scott Caan). Daniel Dae Kim was coming from “Lost” and Grace Park was famous for her work in “Battlestar Galactica.” The Asian actors were really the draw for the show. Now, seven years later, the Asian actors are still not making as much money as the lesser known leads.

NPR had an intriguing and informative interview with writer Rick Najera and Jeff Yang (podcast host). Najera made the assertion that the power lies in the hands of the writers:

NAJERA: The writers’ room can decide whether that actor is a supporting actor or a leading actor. So it’s very easy to make that decision. So you can sit there and say, well, we have two Asian actors on a show set in Hawaii, which is predominately very Asian, let’s make them leads. They can make that decision early on. I think Hollywood’s kind of catching up to that thought and wants to. It’s just everyone in Hollywood wants to be second, no one wants to be first.

I believe artists outside of Hollywood – the independent filmmakers and artists – are the people who will make (are making) this happen.

Be the first!

 

 

 

 

 

Personal Success

Beltway Bullies

 

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Psycrowe

They are the highway betta fish

angry – ready to fight

acting on a baffling death wish

looking to find a bite

outrage is a mirror to fear

but what is there to dread?

perpetual thoughts prompt a sneer

on these lawless hotheads

 

they won’t stop, those rude road ragers

they’re projecting their mood

when there’s no need to brood

their perspective is skewed

 

 

poetry

Untamed

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photo by Ben Neale

My mane is a primitive vine –

A blind communique –

I’m too lazy to make it shine –

with pomades or hairspray –

 

 

Tie it with an elastic band?

Or tame it with some heat?

Some say pin them down – every strand!

But that looks way too neat –

 

 

I shall remain a loose bun lass.

I even favor plaits –

to styles of some imagined class.

For vines don’t fit a vase.

 

 

 

Personal Success

Opal and Ice

Crrrrrraack! Tingtingting! Is that the ice dispenser I hear?

Run down the hall, from under Josie’s bed

Skid to a halt and plead with eyes

Open mouth and receive icy goodness

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Ice was a chip of ice (not a cube), it looks larger here due to screenshot from a video

 

 

 

 

poetry

Pedal to the Metal

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photo by Samuele Errico Piccarini

We switched places at the gate

for my ultimate test of surrender

her smile and jokes betrayed her cool

take it slowly, speed limit’s 25 here

 

Am I OK?

Yes, you’re perfect

Still?

Yep, doing beautifully

 

As she drove (slowly, oh so slowly) to our cul-de-sac

I remembered my driver’s ed teacher

he was old (probably my age now) and balding

with two student drivers in the car with him

 

Emily T., tall, popular, blonde, took turns with me

She (with the perfect curls) could do no wrong

her mistakes were met with encouragement,

her proficiencies were met with praise

 

but me – with my glasses and foreign mien –

my errors were harshly judged,

and my victories gleaned silence

This injustice – as all maltreatments do – ripened into a gift

 

for his words and demeanor (and all the other abuses I’ve known)

created a wound

which turned into a scar

and thickened my skin

 

everyone knows thin skin bleeds easily

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Personal Success

Ease Up

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photo by Clem Onojeghuo

I’ve mentioned a tense relationship between my daughter and me on this blog. It has gotten pretty distressing at times and when I decided to push my ego aside, I realized I had to surrender. Pestering was not working. I had reflected on my intention. Was my primary motive to help her be “successful” in life? Was hounding her to do homework and practice her violin most important? No. But that was what I was practicing.

I set my priorities clearly. First of all, she must know I love her unconditionally. Secondly, this is her life. I trust her with it. She knows what to do and if she doesn’t do it, she will have to face the consequences. That’s how she will grow. Throughout it all, I will love her, absolutely.

What I DO owe her is a happy mother. Every time I start to resort to my habit of nagging, I redirect my energies to what I want to do: plant lantana in the backyard (even in 100 degree heat), exercise, write, cook and so on.

Since I’ve put this practice in place, a magnificent event has occurred. We’ve become closer than ever. She wanted to get into shape. I took her to a fitness club. We signed her up for a four week membership (realizing there will be NO time for the gym once school starts). The club gave me a 2 week free pass. Organically…naturally…completely unplanned…I’ve become her trainer. We work out together and laugh and (sometimes) partake in junk food afterwards. There is ease and love where angst and friction once were. And if I ask her to do something, she does it. Most of the time. And that’s OK.

The intention came first. Space (a lot of it) came next. And then complete awareness and unconditional love.  I’d say this works for all relationships.

Personal Success · writing

Spotlight on Marie Myung-Ok Lee, Writer

Hello all, I published this two years ago. I thought I’d publish it again for those of you who may have missed it:

 

“If you really want to do something, you’re going to have to go for it.”

Marie Myung-Ok Lee

I first learned about Marie when I was researching Korean-American history for a San Francisco State University’s ethnic studies class I was going to teach for Dr. Grace Yoo (during her sabbatical). Her book, Somebody’s Daughter, expertly covers both the adopted child/adult’s perspective as well as that of the adoptee within two cultures. Marie Myung-Ok Lee is a Korean-American author and essayist, writing often for The New York Times, The Atlantic and Newsweek. She’s been published in Witness, The Kenyon Review, TriQuarterly and Slate. She teaches creative writing at Brown University and Columbia University.

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Marie Myung-Ok Lee

If you’re interested in being a writer, Marie is sure to inspire you. She is not only an accomplished writer, but a loving mother to an autistic teenage boy. Her essay for The Atlantic Monthly “What My Son’s Disabilities Taught Me About ‘Having It All’” is one of the most moving, enlightening articles I have ever read.

Despite her extremely busy schedule (she’s working on her next novel), she graciously and generously spoke with me on the phone. She is a modest, hard-working, intelligent and creative person. When I informed her of my objective with my blog (to help others achieve goals by reading of people who have already accomplished them), she got right to the point:

“I constantly write. Every single day from 4:30am to 6pm. I never take a day off.” She lives in NYC in a small apartment with her husband (a professor), and their son.  Previous to writing, she was an investment banker for five years. Although writing does not even come close to the money she made before, Marie couldn’t be happier with her work, “I love it.”

Another tip: “I get 10 rejections to each offer. You have to be committed to writing. If you really want to do something, you’re going to have to go for it.”

Marie is down-to-earth, honest and practical. When I congratulated her on all of her great work, she was quick to point out that it took her eight years to write her novel, and that she couldn’t live on her salary alone. The family is on her husband’s insurance and she constantly juggles motherhood and her work. When she left banking, she was a ghost writer, a freelancer, an editor. She obtained fellowships and worked hard at her novel.

Wanting it, working hard, sacrificing hours each and every day, utilizing your strengths (and challenges)…going for your passions: these are the secrets to her success.

Marie’s most recent article can be found here, on Salon.com. She provides a careful analysis of the McKinney, TX pool party incident, tying in a personal example of mistreatment by an adult when she was a teenager.

You can follow Marie Myung-Ok Lee on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MarieLeeWriter

Her Twitter handle is @MarieMyungOkLee

relationships

On Marriage

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photo by Petr Ovralov

“Your partner is your mirror…to think your partner is anything but a mirror of you is painful. When you see him flawed in any way, you can be sure that that’s where your own flaw is. The flaw has to be in your thinking, because you’re the one projecting it.”

Byron Katie

Katie tells a story in A Thousand Names for Joy about the time she came home, excited to eat her snack which she carefully placed “on the top shelf, to the right” in her fridge. But it was gone! Her reaction: she chuckled. “If I had believed stressful thoughts such as he’s so inconsiderate! He knew it was mine…he ruined it all, then I would have been annoyed, resentful and even angry with him.” Instead, Katie laughed at her plan gone awry. She chose to not believe those destructive thoughts. “…It turns out, I bought it for him.”

My marriage is a very good one.  My husband and I share plenty of laughs, but I can get into ruts where I am bothered by something he is doing (or not doing). We have four cars right now with only two drivers in the house (him and me). He can’t let go of his Alfa Romeo, which is beyond repair. I tried to think of what I could say to get him to get rid of it. I started to feel a bit resentful as I imagined an argument and then I stopped.

Just let it go.  Do not fall for these thoughts! He’ll release it when he’s ready.

The thought continues to intrude…we have a car outside in the 114⁰F heat, because we have a three car garage and FOUR cars!

So what?  

I decide to chuckle.

My husband is sentimental. He appreciates that car. He loves that car.

And I love him. I love this life.

Katie’s assertion that marriage is really your relationship with yourself is spot on.

 

 

relationships

True Suffering

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photo by Colton Brown

Until I started studying spiritual philosophy, I had a narrow definition of suffering which encompassed mostly physical pain: headaches, cancer, childbirth, broken bones, etc.

But I have realized that suffering is really what we do to ourselves with our (negative) thinking. Anxiety is suffering. Depression is suffering. Guilt and regret are suffering. Worrying is suffering!

In the path to non-suffering, one essential practice (according to the Tao, Buddhists and other spiritual practitioners, such as Eckhart Tolle) is to refrain from resisting reality. For example, if you are planning an outdoor party and it rains as your guests arrive, you do not resist reality (the rain). Instead, you simply move the party indoors and continue your celebration. If you complain and cry out against the rain, will it stop? No. But you pollute the environment for those around you (family and friends) with your resistance.

I propose a concerted effort to watch one’s language in this pursuit: eliminate the words “I wish.”

“I wish it wasn’t so hot in Phoenix!” [forecast: 110°F today]

“I wish my children were better at (fill in the blank)”

“I wish my spouse/co-workers would…”

Wishing for something that is counter to reality is inviting misery, disappointment and anguish.

relationships

Don’t Do This

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photo by Cole Hutson

“Do not take anything personally.”

Don Miguel Ruiz, The Voice of Knowledge

Ruiz explains further, “Whatever happens around you, don’t take it personally… Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves.”

What a shame it is to take what others say personally. You cannot control what others say to you or about you. And they don’t even really know you. So why bother?

 

 

 

motivation · Personal Success · writing

On “Perfection”

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photo by Thought Catalog

On Perfection:

Elizabeth Gilbert, American Author

“Perfection is the death of all good things, perfection is the death of pleasure, it’s the death of productivity, it’s the death of efficiency, it’s the death of joy. Perfection is just a bludgeon that goes around murdering everything good. Somebody once said I was disingenuous for saying this, because surely I try to make my work as good as it can be. And that’s absolutely true — but there’s a really big difference between ‘as good as it can be’ and perfection.” – TED, September 2015

 

 

Personal Success

Wagging Sage #1

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The world is moving faster than ever. Impatience and tempers ablaze. Stress fortifies insomnia. Chaotic thoughts emanate from the computer, the phone, and your mind.

You must deliberately seek the quiet, the stillness, and nature.

Be silent. There is no place to be, but here.