“That’s when my heart was the saddest”

immigrant-hands-mom

Those are my mom’s hands.

Those hands lifted hundreds of boxes of tobacco, candy, cases of pop and cooked thousands of meals to get this family to where it is today.

My mom and I went out last week to buy a few presents for an upcoming “Ddol”–it’s a huge party for a Korean baby’s first birthday to celebrate good health (back in the day during the wars, making it to a year was a huge feat). We were in the car and my mom pulled out the cute little dress that she had picked out for the baby. She looked at it, smiled and then turned to me with so much sadness in her eyes. This is what she said (translated into english):

“You never got to wear nice things as a baby. I always wanted to buy you guys nice clothes and saw it in the stores, but could never buy it. We saved every penny. You, your sister, your cousins.. you all wore the exact same clothes because we couldn’t afford the pretty dresses. I always looked at them and felt so sad my kids couldn’t wear those nice things. One time when you were just born, your dad was downtown in a meeting, your grandparents were busy so no one could look after you. This was soon after I gave birth and I had to work at our store right away. We couldn’t afford help so I brought you with me. I put you in an empty tobacco box right by the counter so i could watch you and look after customers. That’s when my heart was the saddest… (keu-dae neun oma-gah ma-eum chae-il seul-puh-soh in konglish for those of you who understand korean) When you needed a diaper change I couldn’t do it right away and you had to wait because we couldn’t afford to have help…My heart hurt the most at that moment seeing you in that box… Not being able to provide for you guys, having to leave you there, not being able to change you because people were in the store… we just had no money. I’m really sorry and when you guys have babies, we’ll buy them the nice things we could never buy you… “

If you’ve read any of my previous blog posts, you may be wondering why I write so much about my family (my grandma’s struggles, being a 2nd gen immigrant kid etc…). Well friends, I don’t have a very good answer. Why I chose to write this today is because of a conversation I had with one of my closest friends yesterday. The way our business is currently going, I feel so ashamed and hurt that I can’t give back to my parents for everything they sacrificed so I could get a good education. My parents have always been very supportive no matter what I’ve been up to. They’ve even said they’ll help me financially while I’m still living with them-this made me so so upset and doubled the feeling of failure. My friend (thanks nar) did a reality slap-in-the-face check and said “Listen, if you’re fortunate enough that your parents will help you. Then do them a favour and work hard. Work hard so their sacrifice is worth it” (I’m paraphrasing a bit, but that was the jist of the convo).

I never realized how hard my mom had it until I started interviewing A LOT of moms for our company. Their hardships as Canadians were enough to scare me from having kids, but then I thought about immigrant parents and how much harder it must be for them without the language, support network in Canada or the finances to support their kids. I thought back to that conversation I had with my mom in the car and it just broke my heart. Every mother wants the best for their child and I can’t even imagine how hard my mom was on herself. The thing is, we didn’t need the nice clothes or fancy outfits…

Immigrant kids can all probably relate to this, our parents worked really hard. My mom once told me “do you know how many packs of gum I have to sell to buy that?”

Without a strong command of the english language, she did pretty damn well for herself. Most immigrant kids can relate to this so in conclusion: We have no excuse not to succeed. Laziness is such an awful trait to have and furthermore so disrespectful to what our parents put in.

Be motivated and choose to be great.

Thats all.

Sexy. (Not)

Entrepreneurship is not sexy. It’s not fun happy go lucky all the time. It’s not like the movies.

I admit it, I’ve said it.

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For the longest time, I’ve been afraid to openly admit this. We hear about really cool start-ups like Google, Facebook, Shopify etc… and it seems like it’s so sexy! Young 20-somethings wearing whatever they want to work, filling their offices with cool games so people can have fun, free candy… C’mon, that seems pretty cool.

Did they get it right while we got it wrong?

The answer? I don’t know. What I can say is this: People talk about the cool start-ups and you always hear about the swanky things going on but rarely do we hear about the hard-stuff. I mean really hard stuff. Things like:

  • There’s no road map to success (DUH) so you never know if what your’e doing means anything.
  • Not being able to sleep wondering if this will all be worth it
  • Constantly wondering: did I make the right decision?
  • What have I got to show for all this?
  • Having the highest-of-highs, but also experiencing the lowest-of-lows
  • Financial Security is not there so when everything you’ve based your idea on ‘success’ is ultimately questioned; admittedly to me success has always been tied in with financial rewards, so to forgo a salary in hopes of future gains is really really hard. Emotionally and on a social level. Emotionally you feel useless and somedays even like a failure because everything you know about success is pointing out that you’ve failed. Socially, it’s hard because the lifestyle you’re use to has to be scaled back.
  • Constant fear that you’re not cut out for this
  • Wondering, “What Now” everyday.
  • Feeling useless because somedays there’s nothing to do but everything to do; You always hear that in a start-up you should always have something to do. Honestly, sometimes, I just don’t know what it is that needs to be done next. It’s hard and defeating.

This wasn’t meant to be a rant or anything about this lifestyle I chose for now. It’s more of a rant that no one talks about the ugly side of it. Inc.com, Forbes, National Post, Mashable etc… everyone writes about the great start-ups in the world and all these inspiring entrepreneurial posts. They’re great, really, I get fired up reading them. But the reality is, no one ever dares to expose the ugly side. It’s hard emotionally, physically (it takes extra energy to want to workout, eat properly and to even care to look good these days), and financially. The huge payouts we hear about the “I want to do that too” feeling, well it’s because we hear the successes.

Trust me. It’s not sexy. I’m living it and it’s hard. It’s especially hard when you read all these happy go-lucky stories that makes you question whether you feeling this down means you’re not cut out for it.

Being on your own is not as glamorous or sexy as it seems. It’s hard. You question everything and experience a lot of things that are amazing, but also soul-crushing.

However, with all that said. There is hope.

You have to consciously decide to be positive and put a lot of hope and trust in your team and believe everything will work out.

There is ugly and frustrating moments, but everything comes back to believing in your team. I believe in mine.

how do you know?

this-is-it

where i live to be

no matter how crazy life gets, I think about this place and it brightens my day

One thing I’ve struggled with during the past 10 months while giving the start-up life a shot is this: how do you know when you’re ready to do your own thing?

We hear cool stories about start-ups and the life of entrepreneurs but living it is completely different. Everyday I wonder if someone else would be able to do it better, if “xyz” person was doing it instead of me then this would be so much further. Or maybe it’s because I don’t have the right background or experience just yet. Maybe I’m not cut out for this. A lot of questions squabble their way through my head. Maybe there are right answers to the questions I have. Who knows? Lots of maybes, lots of questions and lots of fears.

I think what I want is a manual for entrepreneurial success. My confidence has always been rooted in being great at doing set-out tasks in school from JK- Undergrad. Life is manual-less.

Life is about writing your own story. I hope my story is going in the right direction.

letter to my halmoni pt.2

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Celebrate in your new heavenly body :)1926-2013.

My halmoni was the greatest, coolest and funniest woman I’ll ever know. Below is the eulogy that was written to try and show the world a glimpse of something wonderful. There really is no way to describe how awesome she is unless you meet her. 

Between the cousins, we joke around that our halmoni was a true Diva and the real Boss of our family.

For such a tiny lady, she had endless amounts of energy and love. Even a few weeks ago, she hopped on the subway to Bloor and Christie to meet up with friends for their “kae” meetings. She always looked her best.

Halmoni always put everyone before herself. She was the epitome of a selfless human being. Even if she was in pain or discomfort, the thought of putting that burden on another person was out of the question. Last week when people came to visit her in the hospital, her eyes widened and she insisted they leave right away because of parking fees. Her mind was incredibly sharp and she remembered everything and everyone right till the end.

She had a knack for making people feel important and she naturally drew people towards her. Constantly surrounded by friends, friends whom I might add were 10-20 years younger than her, her popularity was ridiculous—honestly, her social calendar was so busy we would have to call ahead to see if she could work us into her schedule. I can’t even tell you the number of times we’d run into halmoni and Chang-kwan-san-nim or other friends at Bayview Village.

I remember the day we found out she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Up until then, the idea of life without her was unheard of. I always thought I’d grow old and hangout with my halmoni like one of her younger friends. In true Diva fashion, she decided the rules didn’t apply to her. She lived two years on her own, went out and about with her friends and every time we had to take her to the hospital, she lit up the room. All the staff at NYGH loved Mama Kim. When the doctors thought she was near the end, she shocked everybody and decided to prove them wrong time and time again. Case in point, last week she woke-up from what we thought was the end and with fierce determination she walked down the hall as the Dr. Shetty and my jangeun-oma watched from the end of the hall in complete shock. She was really special that halmoni of ours. Her knack for bending the rules is so like her.

Our Halmoni left behind a great legacy. Having spent a lot of time with her this past week, it dawned on me that we, the generations that follow are her greatest legacy. I see her kindness, selflessness, fiery spirit and love of life in each member of our family right down to the great-grand children.

Halmoni,

You always waited just outside your apartment door and waved goodbye until I had gone into the elevator. So many times I had to look away because you were so cute standing there waving and smiling it made me cry thinking it’d be our last goodbye. It’s only been two days, but I miss you. I miss our very broken konglish conversations, I miss the way you said “kaen-chan-ah Eun-Young ah, halmoni kaen-chan-ah” even though I could see you were in so much pain. I miss every 4’8 inch, pa-ma’ed bit of you. You were always the first one to make us feel better and just thinking about your laugh and brutal honesty makes me laugh.

In 2007 I promised I’d buy you a big mansion but Jesus beat me to it. Have fun partying in your heavenly mansion. You can eat all the food you want without taking another soh-ah-chae. The angels must be really happy to welcome their coolest new resident Diva.

I love you and miss you. See you soon.

————

Part I can be found here.

The history of Korea is something we hear about in history books. It’s an event that had no impact on my life or any relevance to me in this day and age, until my great aunt shared my halmoni’s story. It would be impossible to imagine the hardships she went through if you ever met her. She was constantly smiling and busy hanging out with friends. Her story was heart-breaking and would leave you emotionally drained but her story is a common one among korean women of that generation. I truly believe it’s something a movie/documentary could be crafted from but ultimately it was all part of her great legacy.

For those of you who still have your grandparents. Cherish them everyday and tell them you love them. We live in such a ‘me’ society that we forget about the people who worked so hard so we could be selfish and only lookout for ‘me’. They did the hard-work and looked out for everybody so they could be where they are today.

be great.

“I have had great fear, but my fear isn’t of the failure of the project. It’s looking back later having done nothing. It’s a very serious fear. The fear of not making a meaningful contribution, of being insignificant, of looking back [and thinking] that I didn’t step up. I am honestly petrified of that, or I was, and my pain of feeling like I let myself down, my family down, and not taking the risk to do it was far greater than the pleasure of being calm.”

- Mark Burnett

tell ‘em to shut-up

noise

Have you seen that before? It’s what accompanies the loud “skrrrrrrrrrrrrrr” noise shooting out of your tv… when this happens my ears get all prickly and I aim for the power-button. Then –SILENCE– It’s a beautiful thing.

It’s taken a while, but this is probably something a lot of us should have done years ago:

Tell everyone to shut-up. Turn the white-noise off.

Let your thoughts be your thoughts. Own them and stop being scared.

For those of you who have been following my ramblings these past few months, then you may have concluded the following:

  • this girl is angry
  • poor little confused hedgehog
  • she needs to stop thinking and just be

All of that stemmed from this cliché phrase: I don’t know what I want to do with my life.

Here’s the thing… the more you talk to other people and ask them for their advice, the harder it will be to figure out what you want. To clarify, I think mentorship is great and I’m very grateful for mentors; At the same time, mentors are there to guide you, not make decisions for you–the direction you need to go, only you can figure that out.

What people need to do is to be still and let their thoughts be. Everyone always asks “What would you do if money wasn’t an issue” to try and pinpoint what your passion is. The thing is, sometimes we’re not talented in that area that we want to make lots of money in. For instance, as much as I’d love to sing and sell records, let’s be real, I’m no Beyoncé- my vocals are meant for a Karaoke room.

Growing-up we’re told at a very young-age how to do ‘things’. Things can range from cleaning our room, getting a newspaper route, grad-school etc… we do a lot of things that people tell us are the ‘right’ things to do. They are right, but maybe those ‘right things’ aren’t right for you.

How are we suppose to know what we’re meant to do when we’re busy trying to make everyone else happy with what they want us to do?

So, tell everyone (politely) thank you for your advice, but please shut-up.

Don’t be scared of your own thoughts and wants. It won’t come right away if you’ve spent all these years being trained to think the opposite of what you truly want. So just be still and listen. Ironically that’s also one of my favourite Bible verses.

Girls are screwed. So are boys.

owensEmily Owens M.D the short-lived CW series aired its final episode last night (I.E. the show got axed… my Tuesday nights are now wide-open)

I was a huge fan of this show and recorded it religiously for its short-lived existence, but the final episode last night got me all fired up. The final moments of the series was of Emily about to do the deed with her best-friend Will. The guy that she was in-love with since Med School, professed her love to him earlier in the show only to have him pull the “I don’t see you like that…” and consequently showcasing her pining after him. All the while he ended up with the girl that always gets the guy.

In the mix of things, there’s a good guy. This good guy is Micah, her boss (see above picture… Micah’s cute). The guy who does all the right things, finally tells her he likes her and they agree to try it out. Then in the final moments, she sleeps with Will.

So what’s the problem you ask? Sounds like every other drama-infested tv show.

Well that’s the problem. Yesterday I got so fired up over this because this is the new norm. All this drama in relationships is something that we now expect because that’s what’s on TV. I genuinely feel bad for the good guys out there. You will lose because every girl is trained from the moment she turns the tv on that drama is ok. I feel bad for good guys because as long as there’s a ‘bad guy’ in the picture, the girl is going to be attracted to him and not you because that’s how media’s trained her. I feel bad for good guys because as long as you’re there, you’ll have to watch her complain and cry about that jerk she thinks she’s in love with.

I also feel sad for girls because they have false hope. There are far too many girls out there who like guys with girlfriends/significant others. They rationalize the feeling and over think every text, smile, small gesture etc… You know what? Stop. It’s not ok.

You know what really sucks though? Emily Owens M.D got it right the episode she decided she was over the best friend who was in love with the girl who gets every guy. She stated she wanted to be someone’s first choice. I gave her a standing O….then sat my ass down when she slept with the guy at the end of the series. But I will say this, stick to what she said and be someone’s first choice. Not some loser’s dessert.

“He can’t have his cake and eat it too

cake” 

 

Get that? Be someone’s first choice.

I feel like I’ve opened a massive can of worms. Feel free to disagree, but those are just my thoughts (as are all the other entries below).

the 5 days

Merry belated Christmas!

Thanks to the smurf-sister for the reminder to post on the positive thinking challenge!

For 5 days (and maybe a few more days after…) I tried my best to think positive, happy thoughts, the following points are the mini-lessons and outcomes :)

  1. It’s Hard: IT IS SO SO SO HARD TO BE POSITIVE! It’s so much easier to complain, nit-pick annoying details, give someone cut-eye for royally pissing you off, the list goes on… it’s so so much easier to just be pissed and lash out! But here’s the thing, if it was that easy, then everyone would choose to be positive. If that was the case then the world be much much much much better… (soo saappyy) It’s because it’s hard that the majority don’t do it..
  2. It’s hard but worth it. Let me tell you a story. Everyday for the past few months, I’ve had to pick up the phone and cold call people. Every one of those days I spend a few hours delaying the inevitable because I’m scared. My success rate is not very good and when it continues to slide, I get stressed and miserable and think “what’s wrong with me?!”. This week, I took ever phone call and spun it to see the positive side. If a call went wrong, see it as a learning experience not solely as a failure. If there was a even a shimmer of hope from the other end, take a second and be proud in that moment. Taking those extra seconds to reflect on the good helped save my sanity and spirit. Feeling like a loser keeps perpetuating when you focus on the bad all the time. Give yourself a break… celebrate the good…
  3. Good things happen. It’s like God hand-delivered a lot of great news all at once when I decided to stop being a whiny brat. Within 48 hours of staying positive, I made calls to people I was previously afraid of and scheduled follow-up calls with them. Follow-up/Very interested potential parties started responding back….it was like positive thoughts were the catalyst to everything else!
  4. win-win. More results. Better results. Most importantly, the people around me became easier to deal with. Admittedly, I have a pride issue and hate admitting defeat or that I’m wrong about things. Being argumentative is one of my flaws and something I use in tandem with a shouty-loud-tone of voice. Putting those aside made my relationships with people improve ten-folds.
  5. It’s draining. I guess this sort of goes along with point 1… because I wasn’t use to this way of thinking I had to work extra hard and use extra brain power. Being positive was draining but it got easier.

This was only a 5-day experiment, but I think I’ll keep trying it out…

I Double-Dare You (do it)

Remember this from them playground days?

“Truth or Dare?”

“DOUBLE DARE DOUBLE DARE”

Guess who’s kickin’ it old school today? Yea that’s right, I double dare you to do THIS (i’m building it all up … the this will come in a few moments)

*Ahem*

I double dare you to see the positive in every situation for the next 5 DAYS and while you’re at it, don’t complain about anything. Even if your boss slaps a massive pile of trees on your desk at 4:59PM on Friday. Yea that’s right, I said it: Be positive & don’t complain or whine.

positiveWhy do I double dare you? Glad you asked (but in all honesty, how many of you were thinking that?). The “Why” is because I suck  at it in my own day to day life and I figured, why not do a little experiment to see if this really works with a handful of other people. In a previous post, I was lamenting about books and succesful people- well every one of those books talked about staying positive. Admittedly, in my head of course, that whole notion played out like this: “yea yea yea, get on with it. happy people are happy with life blah blah blah. they’re probably smoking tons of weed and have a secret skill that makes them awesome. screw off”

See the problem? My thought about being positive was negative and incredibly child-like. A few days ago this midgety fiend added another book to the list: Secrets of the Millionaire Mind by T.Harv Eker (can’t believe I just admitted to that…you can judge me… its ok, go ahead)

Here’s the thing, he was the first one that actually outlined HOW AND WHY positive thinking is good. Being a pretty pessimistic broad, being positive = that annoying happy chick that’s so out of touch with reality she’s bound to crash and fail. We all know someone like that. That perky, way too happy and speaks like she’s from small-town bum effing nowhere… the idea is not to be that person, but the whole thing is this: You attract and affect people who are like you.

So let’s take a peak at the flip side: Being negative= you attract negative people= you catch each other’s “Brain Measles” (as they so nicely put it in the book)= endless spiral of unhappy people= your life is angry, full of blame, and full of sucky sucky sucky people.

It’s so sad, but we can’t help but being negative, mean and all drama-y. Look at what we’re surrounded by in media.

Reality TV, we all secretly have that ONE trashy show (Jersey Shore), its all about fighting, drama, who got fat, who slept with who blah blah blah… and that shapes what people think ‘real’ life should really be, so they perpetuate stupidness in real life. TV Shows: all gossipy, about back-stabbing people.. all for the sake of great tv!  I mean, with technology kids have found new ways to DESTROYYY each other.

News outlets: Since when is news suppose to be ALL negative? Flick to any news outlet and the headline is usually something bad- how sad is it that we think positive news won’t sell?

All in all, it’s not any one persons fault that we’re pretty negative minded people. If you think about it, it’s kind of weird that being a ‘positive’ thinker is a characteristic for success. Shouldn’t that be something we all think about? When did it become the norm to be so negative, hurtful–to others and to ourselves–and downright BLAH?

As a pessimistic person, my thought is as follows: If I try this business for 5 days and nothing changes, then HAH, I know I’m right about those crazy happy people.

But hey, what’s the worst that could happen? Being happy would mean everyone (especially family) gets a break from this short-tempered twat. AND IF YOU FOLLOW THROUGH WITH THIS DOUBLE DARE THEN MAYBE YOUR LIFE WILL ACTUALLY CHANGE!

Let’s try it out shall we?

For 5 days I shall try to post about positive things,happy things, the positive in negative things…. They’ll probably be random, but yippeeee doo… thats ok…

and if you share too, i’ll mail you something cool! (maybe after the holidays since the post office is apparently blocked up like a constipated old person)