What’s standing in your way right now? A relationship that’s no longer working but you don’t dare to end? Parents who won’t support your dream to become a musician because they want you to be lawyer? Your fear of being judged so you don’t show who you really are and live behind a mask your whole life? Whatever is getting in the way between you and whatever it is you’re trying to be or do, you’re probably wishing that you could will it away or that someone would take it away for you.
“He who laughs the loudest, cries the hardest.” Someone said this in high school during lunch as we watched a girl laughing so boisterously that everyone in the cafeteria turned to look. “She’s so going to cry tomorrow,” she declared matter-of-factly. How would she know? I thought to myself. She was only 15, after all, just like me. And yet, somehow, what she said haunted me in the many years to come.
To truly make a difference, you don't need to make a splash: A single drop is enough to cause ripples
“I’m sorry, but I can’t help you. Your book is great. In fact, I love it. Your writing style is really good. But you don’t have social media following or a substantial email list.” This is what a publisher told an acquaintance of mine when she pitched her book. Another acquaintance was turned down to be an affiliate marketer by an online course provider because they required at least 250,000 followers and a website with “very good” traffic for her to qualify.
When I saw this picture on Instagram, my heart just sang with joy. The caption read, “This is the morning Amma popped down the stairs and said: ‘Look! I’m Abby on the top and mommy on the bottom!’” Amma is the youngest child of Glennon Doyle, author of New York Times bestseller Love Warrior and married to two-time Olympic gold medalist and FIFA Women's World Cup champion Abby Wambach. She was given the freedom to be herself by allowing her to wear whatever she wants. While that might seem too simplistic or even trivial for many, this is a type of empowerment that helps a child grow up to be confident, self-assured and secure.
Parents don’t always stay. Neither do friends. Certainly not romantic partners. Then there’s fleeting acquaintances and passing strangers that, for brief but meaningful moments, make an impact on us. Some relationships—in all forms, on this planet in any given lifetime—are not meant to last. While this could be taken as negative and, sometimes, even painful, if we look at it differently, we will see the gifts these people came to bring.
We’ve probably all heard this story. President John F. Kennedy visited NASA in 1962 and came across a janitor holding a mop. He came up to the man and asked him what he did for NASA, to which the janitor replied, “I’m helping put a man on the moon!”
Shaking my head, I heard the words come out of my mouth, “Oh my god, that’s just all sorts of wrong.” Then I realized what I was doing. I was looking at a 62-year old woman on television who was performing on stage wearing a black tight-fitting jumpsuit and showing a whole lot of cleavage through the sheer fabric on her upper chest. I looked at my husband and he was doing the same—not with words but with a look of disapproval on his face. We were full-on judging this woman that we’ve never even met.
Have you ever felt lost? Not in the Google Maps kind of way but in life? Do you sometimes feel like your life is not going anywhere? You feel overwhelmed, you don’t know what to do, where to go, who to turn to—you simply don’t know what to do with yourself. It happens to the best of us sometimes. But why?
Sitting on the couch, I felt it coming. It was late at night and the world was fast asleep. It was slowly making its way to me and I started to feel terrified. “What do I do now?” I asked, addressing no one in particular. And then, it begins: “I can’t do this. I don’t have what it takes!” I was starting to feel overwhelmed and if I didn’t get hold of it, it would lead me down a deep hole the way Alice did when she followed the rabbit.
“I don’t know what to do. I’ve put all my eggs in this law school basket and I just dropped it,” said Christy Plunkett, a character in the television sitcom Mom. Her mother Bonnie yelped in excitement, “That’s why you don’t put all your eggs in one basket. I just got that!”
How often do we learn something and not really get what it means? We read countless books about a particular subject, watch experts talk about it, maybe even take courses so we can put it into practice. We think we understand but at the back of our mind, there’s still a paradoxical layer that leaves us confused, struggling to fully grasp its true meaning — until the proverbial penny finally drops. Most people call this an aha moment, and this is one of mine.
If you embark on a journey of personal growth or spiritual development, at some point, you’d want to have a teacher to guide you through that labyrinth. Some people hire coaches, some look for mentors, and there are those who even travel to places like India or Tibet to seek counsel from yogis, gurus and monks. But many people believe the famous Buddha-associated quote, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” In my case, that teacher came—but not in the form that I expected.
Leonardo di Caprio has it. Often, he feels the urge to walk through doorways multiple times. So does Daniel Radcliffe. It used to take him as long as five minutes or more to turn off a light. Then there’s Charlize Theron who claimed that she would lose sleep thinking about other people’s disorganized cabinets. And of course, there’s Howie Mandel who refuses to shake hands with people he meets. This is what obsessive-compulsive disorder — known simply as OCD — looks like for different people.
My whole life, I had been my worst critic. I was my own judge, jury and executioner. I strove for perfection, sought validation and felt that I have to compete for everything in order to deserve something. This is a result of people - most especially my family- criticizing me, telling me in many different ways how I was not good enough and how I need to be different and do better. Undoing that damage is neither easy nor quick. The solution was both simple and complicated but I am now peeling away the ugly layers that covered up my true self.
Everywhere around me, I see stories upon stories of people who want to become full-time writers publishing their own blogs or authoring books. As someone who wants to make writing a way of life, this is very discouraging. I feel like a drop in the ocean and ask myself, “Will I even make the cut?” How in the world do I even break through this thick crowd of pros, semi-pros and wannabe writers (like me)? I feel like standing in front of a jam-packed subway train in Tokyo reluctant, hesitant and unwilling to board but there’s these otherworldly white-gloved ‘pushers’ that are cramming me in there when it looks like it’s already full. And I kept wondering, in this very saturated market, is there really room for me?
The words ‘marital rape’ never even occurred to me until it happened to someone I care about. It’s not only hard to hear it happened to her, but it’s frustrating when you feel powerless to do something about it; especially when she tells you in confidence and you don’t want to betray her trust. What do you do with this kind of information? What do you do when she feels too embarrassed to even talk about it, simmering in her own feelings of denial, betrayal, anger, guilt and shame?
Anyone who has gone through depression—whether their own or someone they know or care about—would know it is such a dark place in which to find yourself to be. Many people suffer from emotional “dips” from time to time and others go through temporary episodes like Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or post-partum depression but there are those who have been suffering from it for most of their lives. But whatever is the case, not only is the experience the very description of internal hell, its social stigma as a “mental illness” makes it even worse for those going through it. Being classified as mentally ill is terribly isolating as you are made to think that you are not “normal” and that the only way to sanity-land is by way of medication. My experience tells me different.
How many of you have taken a selfie? I’m pretty sure most people had taken many selfies. In fact, in the past I took lots of selfies even before they were called selfies using my camera’s self-timer (yeah millennials, go ahead and laugh), all because of Facebook. That was around 2007 before it exploded to having more than 2 billion daily users. It was back on the day when updating your status was still done in the third person and the newsfeed was called the Wall. These days, even my 68-year old mother takes selfies to post on Facebook. So yeah, we all have done it.
So, what are you actually waiting for? A big break? A miracle? A windfall? Your family’s emotional support? Or perhaps you have some other excuse you haven’t quite formulated yet. Whatever you think those obstacles are, if they are outside of you—people, things or events that you imagine are stopping you from stepping on to your path of purpose and authenticity—you can turn things around because everything that you need for your life to change starts with you.
For many people—especially men—crying creates an effect the way garlic has on vampires. It repels people. Some people don’t know what to do and don’t know how to react around someone in tears. It’s considered a weakness, and in some situations like the office, a taboo. While there are inarguable reasons as to why, when and where crying is appropriate, crying—in healthy doses—is actually a cathartic process that is not only healing, but also builds resilience and strength.
Ah, carpe diem. How many times have you heard this phrase? But have you really paid attention to what it means? It was made popular by the movie Dead Poets Society in 1990 but when I read the blog post Don’t Carpe Diem, I asked myself, “Why not? Isn’t ‘to carpe diem’ a good thing?”
To start meditating, you don’t have to twist yourself into a pretzel, empty your mind or chant like a monk in Tibet at 5 in the morning. Nor do you have to learn Sanskrit mantras and sit like a statue for hours a day.
Tobias Lawson got married twice and fought for her rights as a woman in the early 1900s. The Stonewall riots gave birth to the unified front of the gays, lesbians and transgenders in 1969. From Chevalier d’Eon in the early 1700s, The Danish Girl Lili Elbe in the 1800s, Christine Jorgensen in the beginning of the last century, to Caitlyn Jenner of today — and many others in between and beyond — these brave ‘wayshowers’ are paving the path for a genderless society.
We live in a society where life follows a certain pattern that has us chasing after success defined by fame and fortune and all the “perks” that come with it. We are made to believe that this is the key to happiness and feeling fulfilled. But if that is really the case, why are there so many successful people who are still unhappy, get depressed, or worse, end up taking their own lives? Doesn’t this make you wonder, “Is that really the kind of life that we’re meant to live?”
Often, when things in our life seem to go wrong, we feel as if it’s the end of the world because we can’t see further than what’s right in front of us. It is only when we look back, after we’ve survived the storm, that we realize that those “broken” parts are actually pieces that make up the beautiful picture that is our destiny.