On the Daily

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Photo from Debbie Hudson

My optometrist told me about his Corvette Stingray. He got it from a couple who purchased a brand new car and needed space in their garage. Everything in the Corvette was shot: the engine, upholstery, paint, some of the body was dented. They had it towed to his house.

Two years later, his Stingray is on the road. He fixed the engine himself. The upholstery still needs to be replaced, but the car has come back from the dead.  The doc worked on it every weekend for two years.

Sometimes, our dreams might take years, because we “only have the weekends” to work on them. But with diligence and consistency, they WILL actualize.



Even if You Don’t Want To…

One of my summer school students – I’ll call her Liliana – was woefully deficient in her math skills. Going into 5th grade this year, she should be prepared to work math problems with fractions. However, she was still struggling with simple addition and multiplication. After working intensely for over a week, she grasped basic multiplication quickly.

After successfully solving four multiplication problems, I told her, “OK, you’re ready for division.”

Her eyes grew large. She stepped back from me. “No, not yet.”

“Liliana, you’re ready.”

“Just one more.”

“No, you’re ready. What’s the matter?”

She just stood there, silent.

“It’s ok if you make mistakes at first. That’s how you learn. Look how far you’ve come!”

She looked at me doubtfully. I gave her a problem to sort out, after working one through for her.

She returned with her work. She had made one small mistake. Her brows were furrowed. She was looking at her mistake.

Yet she had successfully worked out several steps correctly before that.

“Look at how far you came, Liliana! Look at how many steps you got right. Focus on that. And now, study your mistake. This is learning.”

She’s still working on division. It will take time. But you and I know that  if she’s determined and works consistently, she will master it.

How many times do we shy away from the next step? How many times do we say, “Not yet”? And how many times do we focus on our mistake and not our successes?

Take that next step, even if you don’t want to.







The Mesa Arts Center


Our daughters’ MYS concerts are held quarterly downtown in the Mesa Arts Center in the Piper Theater. This place astounds us each time with the vibrancy and creativity of local artists. Here are a few pianos that were out a couple months ago.


Art inspires creativity in the viewer/listener,

it sparks dialogue,

and requires dedication,

focus and faith

To all artists everywhere: keep creating!






Telling The Story With Care


This poster came in a box of cereal.

I taped it to the wall near my desk. I’m not even a hard core Star Wars fan, but I taped it to remind me of something: even the best make mistakes. Yes, it made $924,317,558 at the box office. It was a hit, if you consider only the money it brought in. But in terms of quality – critical success – it bombed. It was the fourth film in the Star Wars series, so one can’t make the rookie argument.

Some critiques from reputable sources:

“Part two now focuses on the second biggest problem with the Phantom Menace, the story. The mystery plot lacking direction and emotional involvement was really the other big problem. No tension, no drama, no stakes. Characters aimlessly follow along the events.” – SlashFilm.com 

As a writer, you have to decide whether you’re writing for the craft or for views/sales/tawdry attention.

Marie Myung-Ok Lee – Writer

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

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.

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