How to Plan a Simple Retreat

Last Thursday, my best friend Melina and I went to Fort Worth for an overnight retreat. We had tons of things planned for the 24 hours that we were going to be gone (The Stockyards, Fort Worth Botanic Garden, Sundance Square, and a long walk by the river), but our plans changed because IT WAS RAINING THE ENTIRE TIME! 😭 At first, we were a bit disappointed, but we quickly accepted it and decided to make the best of it… and we both realized that God was giving us exactly what we needed: A retreat to decompress, relax, and spend some quality time with God. It was such a simple trip, but it was a wonderful experience, so I wanted to share it with you.


Here are the steps to planning a simple retreat:

1. Invite at least one friend to join you.

Doing solo trips are okay, but when you plan a trip with others, it helps you to make this an actual event and not just “a thing you did” at one point in your life. I generally like to keep the number of people in even numbers so that no one feels like the third wheel. You can hand-pick the friends you would like to invite, and you can keep the invitation as casual as sending them a text message or if you have an artistic flair, you can create an invitation to give them. A great pandemic-friendly way to send out the invitation is through evite.
Melina and I made plans while we were having lunch, so the invitation was kept very casual for us.


2. Everyone should book their own rooms in the same hotel.

The simplest way to handle lodging for everyone is to have them book their own rooms. Most hotels offer group room block at a discounted rate, and this would be one of the very few coordinating tasks you would have to complete. Having everyone booking their own rooms also keeps it easier for everyone to practice social distance.
Initially, Melina and I were going to stay in the same room, but we decided that in order to stick to the point of our retreat, it would be best for us to stay in separate rooms (more on this in #3 below).


3. Everyone should decide what they’re going to do during their alone time.

This is so important. Let me say that again. THIS IS SO IMPORTANT. Because you and your friends may have different goals for this retreat, it is important to plan what you will do during this time. You can plan to read that book you’ve been trying to finish (which was my case), schedule a massage (most hotels will have recommendations if they don’t have an on-site spa service), sleep, exercise, go for a walk outside… the possibilities are endless!
For me, my plan was to unplug from social media, finish reading a book, exercise, and watch a short movie. If Melina and I shared a room, we would not have gotten anything done other than chatting the entire time. (which we both knew since that’s why we couldn’t study together in college!)


4. Eat all your meals together.

Since most people generally eat three meals a day, this will give you and your friends time to socialize for at least 3 hours each day. I recommend you block out 1-2 hours for each meal so that you can enjoy the times of bonding over delicious foods without feeling rushed. You can set an alarm on your phone or watch to go off 10-15 minutes before the planned time is over so that everyone could wrap up and get back to their personal retreats.
Melina and I had dinner at HG Sply Co. in Fort Worth (check out their menu here), breakfast at the hotel (take advantage of hotels with complimentary breakfast; since I have food restrictions, I brought my own dairy-free yogurt and almond milk to make sure I would have something to eat something for breakfast.), lunch at Jason’s Deli (I had the salad bar as usual), and we stopped to get some boba as dessert after lunch.


5. Plan one group event in the beginning or the end of the trip.

Doing a short group event before or after will allow the flow listed above in steps 1-4 above to not be disrupted. Additionally, if any of your friends can’t arrive on time or have to leave early, they will be able to still enjoy their alone time and the meal times with the rest of the group. To keep it pandemic-friendly, you can always plan an outdoor outing such as an arboretum, a farmer’s market, or even an outdoor yoga or workout session at a park. Since we couldn’t enjoy any of the outdoor activities, we stopped at a bookstore on our way back home. I know that doesn’t sound too exciting, but I can spend a whole day at a bookstore and be happy! 🤓


Lastly, be flexible! If things don’t go as planned (in our case, scattered thunderstorms), don’t stress over the changes and just go with the flow, reminding yourself that it’s going to be an opportunity to make great memories with your friends! 💖


With Gratitude,
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Becoming You

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve pondered over philosophical questions such as, “What is the meaning of life,” “What is my purpose,” “Who am I,” or “Am I the sum of my experiences?” Okay, so I didn’t ponder that last question until I was going through my initial 200-hour yoga teacher training program… but I have always thought about deeper matters of life (which kind of made me look weird in the eyes of my fellow classmates in preschool). I’ve been on a spiritual journey of Svadhyahya (Sanskrit for “self-study”) on a deeper level ever since I became a Christian in 1994, and I’ve come to realize that the more I learn, the more I realize that I don’t know anything to its deepest level. One of the ways I progress in my journey is through Bible sermons.

Yesterday at church, we had the privilege of hearing a sermon from a guest speaker, Daren Overstreet, who is the Lead Evangelist of Seattle Church or Christ in Washington State. The title of his message was, “Eight Words for 2021” and the eight words were, “For we live by faith, not by sight.” (II Corinthians 5:7). One of the points he made from his sermon — that grabbed my attention — was that, “what you fix your eyes on becomes you.”

My iPhone gives me a report of my phone usage, and yesterday, the breakdown was as follows:

  • Health & Fitness: 3h 9m
  • Social: 1h 28m
  • Productivity & Finance: 54m
  • Information & Reading: 38m
  • Travel: 26m
  • Utilities: 24m
  • Creativity: 15m
  • Shopping & Food: 1m
  • Entertainment: 2s

According to my report, the apps that I spent the most time using was Health & Fitness, and Information & Reading was only 38m; and just 20 minutes of that was reading my Bible. Not that spending time in Health & Fitness apps is wrong, but I really had to ask myself what my eyes are fixed on. What is becoming me?

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses,
let us throw off everything that hinders…”
Hebrews 12:1a

What is hindering you from becoming the Authentic You?

Several years back, my husband and I went to a festival in Grapevine, TX. I wanted to dress up a bit that day, so I decided to wear a pair of heels with my outfit. Everything was going well until we arrived at the event and realized that the nearby parking lots were full. I wasn’t too worried, since I was used to wearing heels for an extended period of time. But what I didn’t count on was the uphill walking we had to do after we parked the car. By the time we were done at the festival, we started heading back to the car… going downhill, with my heels on! I’m not sure if you’ve seen anyone walk downhill with heels on, but it’s not a pretty sight. Halfway into our walk back, I decided to take my shoes off and walk barefoot. So that day, the hinderance to walking comfortably was my choice in footwear. The smarter thing would have been to wear different shoes, but I did the next smart thing and eventually took my shoes off.

So often, we continue to hold onto things that hinder us from being the best version of ourselves even though throwing those hinderances off would lighten our burdens — all because we don’t want to put in the effort to let them go. It could be our attitudes about politics/current events, obsession to be right on social media, critical attitudes toward others… the list goes on and on.

At the end of the day, we all want to love and be loved. We all want to feel connected. We all want to live a life of freedom from addictions, bitterness, arrogance, and tension. So what will you do in order to become the most authentic YOU that you can be?


With Gratitude,
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Behind Procrastination

I can’t believe it. The first quarter of 2021 is already behind us. As I begin the second quarter of this year, I feel tempted to just coast through it because frankly, I’m tired. I feel like I was on hyper-fast mode from January to March, mainly because of a homeschool co-op that my daughter and I were a part of. When the co-op ended two weeks ago, I felt like running through an aisle dancing and singing! It’s been nice to actually get decent amount of sleep and not grade papers, edit articles (I was teaching a Journalism class to middle school and high school students), and drive almost 2 hours roundtrip weekly. I gave myself a week to relax and recover, but I found myself filling up my schedule, which made the goal of getting replenished a bit challenging. I think deep down inside, I knew all along that the reason why I was staying busy is because I didn’t want to get back to preparing for my podcast launch on May 4th. To put it bluntly, I was procrastinating.

“One of these days, is none of these days.”
H.G. Bohn

There are so many reasons behind why people procrastinate, such as fear of failure, fear of success, misplaced priorities, or just plain apathy. For me, it’s definitely fear of failure in regards to my podcasting. All the steps necessary to make a good podcast feels overwhelming. It’s not just about recording a segment or interviewing someone. It’s the fact that you’re committing to doing this on a regular basis. It’s also the fact that I have to put in the time to create good content that generates interest. As overwhelming as it is, I’m willing to commit and put in the work because this is all for God. Podcasting — just like writing and publishing a book — is not something that I desire to do for my own glory. I’m perfectly fine just teaching fitness, yoga and meditation classes, but God continues to put big dreams on my heart that I can’t shake off of my soul.

He has a way of giving us dreams that burn in our hearts until we accomplish them for His glory.

So now, I must continue to pray. I must continue to listen to His voice through His Word (The Bible), and messages (from nature, people, anything and everything). Lastly, I must put one foot in front of the other and do the next right thing… all for God’s glory!

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Colossians 3:17

I pray that your week is productive and pleasing to God!

With Gratitude,
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Know Thyself

Have you ever met a person who just seems to have no self-awareness?  Of course, there are the obvious indications of behaviors that lack self-awareness, such as arrogance, obnoxiousness, and hypocrisy; but today, we’re going to look at three subtle forms of lacking self-awareness and how they may apply to anyone (including myself):


1. TALKING ABOUT YOURSELF TOO MUCH

I grew up as a performer.  I’ve been acting, singing, dancing and playing the piano since I was in Kindergarten.  Not that I was ever famous, but I’ve had my share of strangers coming up to me after performances to chat. I remember this one time where two ladies came up to me after I performed a song I wrote for a women’s event.  They were very generous with their compliments and asked me questions about my musical training and some general questions about my life.  I walked away from that conversation feeling great… until that evening.  I thought to myself, “I don’t know anything about those two wonderful ladies that I talked to today.”  I realized that I missed a great opportunity to know about their lives and a chance to learn from them (we can learn something from everyone we meet).  So, now I have a rule that I follow: When people ask me questions about myself (especially people that I meet for the first time), I make it a point to ask them questions as well.  I also make sure that I end my responses within 3 minutes.  Lastly, if I notice that the only voice I’ve been hearing for the past 5 minutes is my own, it’s time to wrap it up and ask others some questions about them.

“Proud fools talk too much…”
Proverbs 14:3a

2. NOT KNOWING THE RIGHT TIME OR THE PLACE

Oh boy.  This sums up my adolescent years.  I used to throw out my opinions to anyone and everyone, whether or not they asked for it.  I once talked about a cute boy at a memorial.  I wanted to hang out with my crush during lunch at school instead of being there for my friend whose dad was hospitalized. (My excuse was that she said she wanted to be alone, even though I knew she didn’t really want to be alone.)  I would bring up an inside joke to my friend, knowing well that the girl standing right by her was already feeling left out.  I was very immature as a young teen.  As I became a young adult (age 19 or 20), I was confronted (in a very loving way) by some great friends about my behavior and how it affected people.  When I stepped back and imagined watching myself acting this way, I was mortified!  I realized that what I did and said — good or bad — had a lasting affect on people.  From that point on, I decided that I was going to err on the side of consideration and not assume that “it’s no big deal.”

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.”
Proverbs 18:21
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control…”
Galatians 5:22-23a

3. ENGAGING IN NEGATIVE SELF-TALK

This one may seem odd to be considered not having self-awareness; but when we engage in negative self-talk, we’re no longer aware of the truth about who we are.

The other day, I was struggling with feeling like I’m worth anybody’s friendship.  Having had  a Birthday recently, I’ve received countless birthday wishes on social media, numerous text messages, a few Birthday voice messages (including an annual birthday song by one of my dear friends, musician Marcus A. Johnson), and even friends who insisted on taking me out to lunch.  As the day approached for my lunch dates with my friends, I started to wonder why they’re friends with me.  I thought to myself, “What do I really bring to the friendship?  They are such loving people who care about everyone. That’s probably why they consider me their friend.”  This thought began a downward spiral, down a rabbit hole of negative self-talk.  About 5 minutes into it (a lot of thoughts can occur in 5 minutes), I took a step back and assessed myself.  I became aware of who I am in Christ once again.  According to John 1:12, I am a child of God.  According to Romans 8:1, I am not condemned (therefore, I should not condemn myself).  According to Ephesians 2:10, I am God’s handiwork, created in Jesus to do good.  And according to1 Thessalonians 1:4, I am loved by God and have been chosen by Him.


Self-awareness isn’t just nurturing to our souls; it’s essential for our spiritual survival.  Without being aware of who we are in Christ, we can not be aware of our true selves as children of God. 

May we all walk in self-awareness on the road to our individual authenticity.

 

With Gratitude,
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My Day is Ruined!

It was just like other Sunday mornings where I’m trying to grab all my stuff to get into the car quickly so that my family and I can make it to church on time. The very last thing I do is to fill up my tumbler with hot water for my roasted dandelion tea (I stopped drinking caffeinated drinks, so dandelion tea has become my go-to drink in the mornings). After getting settled in the car, I took a sip of my drink and realized that IT WAS LUKEWARM!!! Actually, it was more on the cooler side than lukewarm. I immediately thought to myself, “Ugh! Now my day is ruined! Why wasn’t the water in the electric kettle hot?” But two seconds after my initial thought, I laughed at myself. I mean, how weak of a person am I that I’m going to let a lukewarm drink ruin my entire day? I visualized comparing the size of the cup next to the size of my day. 16 oz. to 24 hours. 16. oz. to 1,440 minutes. 16. oz. to 86,400 seconds! Is my life so insignificant that I’m going to let a 16 oz. beverage dictate an entire day?  How about you?  Do you allow one thing/person/situation “ruin” the rest of your day?

“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.”
1 Corinthians 10:4 

Sometimes the “strongholds” we feel seem so much greater in significance or power.  Maybe you took a sip of your coffee/tea and noticed that it was the wrong temperature.  Maybe you received a text from a friend that left you feeling upset, annoyed or angry.  Or maybe you got cut off on the road and the other driver had the audacity to honk at you, yell at you or even give you a “hand gesture of disapproval.”  Maybe you felt wronged or disrespected.  Whatever the thing, person, or situation it may be, I invite you to ask yourself why you’re willing to give away your time, energy, and even your power over to something or someone.

One time, I was driving to an appointment and I started slowing down so that I can make sure I would not miss the driveway to the house.  Because it was a single lane road (going one way and another lane going the other way), the convertible behind me had to slow down… and he did NOT like that.  He decided to speed up and quickly drive around me.  As he cut me off, he gave me that famous three-finger salute and then peeled off.  At first, I got annoyed, but shortly afterwards, I prayed for him to make it home safely and that if he’s having a bad day, God would bring about a sense of peace in his heart.  I was amazed at how quickly I was able to let go of letting that ruin the rest of my day. 

But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you…”
Matthew 5:44
“A man’s insight gives him patience, and his virtue is to overlook an offense.”
Proverbs 19:11 

So as we go into a new week, I encourage you to live a life of great significance… and a life that’s bigger than a 16 oz. hot beverage.


With Gratitude,
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Who Am I?

My Birthday is approaching.  In 3 days, I will be taking another step toward turning half a century.  If you’re wondering, I will be 47 years-old!  I’ve always looked forward to my birthday every year because there’s a certain wisdom that can only come from living life year after year; but 47 is hitting me in a different way because this is going to be a year of transition in my life as a mother.  My daughter is now driving her own car, making her own money, and she’s getting ready to do some traveling this summer without me or my husband.  The reality of her not needing me as much has hit me hard.  I feel as if I’m grieving the end of my daughter’s childhood.  I’m grateful for the fact that she is responsible, mature and has good sense of judgment; but — just like any good parent — there’s a part of me that wants to protect her from all harm.  So as I live this year of transition, the one question that keeps repeating in my mind is this: Who am I?

If you asked me who I was in the first 27 years of my life, I would’ve said, “I’m a dancer.”  After I got married, my identity became “Shawn’s wife.”  Two years later, I became “Jade’s mom.”  It seems like whatever/whoever took up most of my time became my identity.  I’m pretty sure that when I was in the corporate world, my identity was “Business Analyst,” “Project Manager,” or “Corporate Policies and Procedures Writer.”  But are any of these identifiers who I really was (or am)?

You may be surprised that I didn’t say, “I am a disciple of Jesus Christ.”  I’ve always believed that me being a Christian/Disciple was a given and that I wouldn’t even have to say that, kind of like how I don’t need to say I’m Asian because I think that’s pretty obvious (see my photo on the left 😆).  If I said, “Hi, I’m Asian,” when meeting someone, they would probably be confused since that’s obvious, or they may just wait for a punchline.  So what is the correct way to identify myself?  How about my name?  Am I Jheni?  Not quite.  

The names we go by serve as identifiers to establish individuality and uniqueness; but our names are not who we are.  I may also be a wife, a mom, a daughter, a sister, a cousin, a friend, a student, a teacher… but none of these are who I am either.  These roles that we play here on earth are all temporary.  As I peel off the layers of temporary earthly roles and tangible titles, I am reminded that who I am is not the body that I reside in; the body that I get to live in is a vessel for who I really am, which is a spirit; and that spirit — which is the core of my truest form — belongs to God because I was created by God.  A song that comes to mind is Hillsong’s “Who You Say I am” (here’s part of the song):

Who the Son sets free, oh is free indeed. I’m a child of God, yes, I am.
In my Father’s house, there’s a place for me. I’m a child of God, yes, I am
I am chosen, not forsaken. I am who You say I am.
You are for me, not against me. I am who You say I am.

When I get tempted to focus on things that bring me immediate — but temporary — security and identity (such as trying to hold on to a youthful appearance, exercising to get back to the size that I was during my physical best, etc.), I remind myself that, “though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” (2 Corinthians 10:16) 

So who am I?
I’m a Child of God, yes, I am.

 

With Gratitude,
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Deactivating an Emotional Bomb

Enneagram is a personality typing that  dives deep into one’s core motivations, fears, passions (tendencies that get you farther away from your authenticity), etc.  I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts about enneagrams (my favorites are Typology, Your Enneagram Coach, and The Enneagram Journey), but the other day, I decided to watch a YouTube video by a personality typing coach who I haven’t heard of before… and half way into it, I regretted my decision.

She started out with some great information (which I had already learned from my personal enneagram studies), but then she started to make harsh comments about a certain enneagram type.  Her tone was very condescending and downright mean.  She even went on to say that she knows she’s harder on Type 4s because of some character things that she sees in herself that are Type 4 characters and that it makes her mad and frustrated.  I kept on watching, hoping that she would turn it around… but it just kept getting more and more offensive to me, so I stopped watching it.  I was so upset that I could feel a knot forming at the center of my chest.  I had to stop everything I was doing and become still to do some inner work:

1.  BREATHING PATTERNS DON’T LIE

I closed my eyes and focused on becoming present:  I allowed myself to become aware of the ground underneath my feet that supports my entire body up to stand.  I then moved on to the awareness of my breath.  I felt the cool air going in to my nostrils and then going out of my nostrils.  I created an evenness in my breathing (inhales become the same length as the exhales), and then focused on the rise and fall of my belly while I consciously stopped my shoulders and chest rising each time I inhaled. (When we’re under any type of stress, our sympathetic nervous system gets activated and increases the cortisol level; these factors cause our bodies to become tense and start taking shallow breaths in the chest and not the diaphragm.)  Next, I placed my hands over my heart to send it energy of healing.  (The power of visualization is quite amazing.)  Lastly, I breathed in God’s Words in Philippians 4:6, as I chanted silently: (Inhale) “Peace that surpasses all understanding…”  (Exhale) “Guide my mind and heart in Christ Jesus, our Lord…”  After several minutes of this practice, I felt balanced, at peace and empathetic.

2.  DO THE INNER WORK FOR OUTER RESULTS

Once I was back to homeostasis, I was able to begin the the practice of svadhyahya (“self study”).  I realized that the reason why I reacted so intensely to a comment made by a complete stranger was because I felt threatened and attacked for the negative tendencies of my enneagram type.  I allowed her biases to cause within me a growing desire to defend myself and retaliate against what I saw to be an expression of her own perceived superiority.  I also realized that because I hold myself to a standard of inclusivity as a Yoga Teacher and Meditation Coach, I expect others in the field of therapy and wellness to live by the same standard.  In a perfect world, all Yoga Teachers, Meditation Coaches, Life Coaches, Typology Coaches, Counselors, etc. would leave their biases out of their professional platforms; but I know that we’re all in this process of growing and getting closer to our authentic selves.

The more I thought about the challenges and hurdles she might have had to overcome in her life, the more compassionate I felt towards her.  With a peaceful heart, I was able to pray for her journey to bring her closer to who God has created her to be and for her to be blessed in her life.

Next time you’re in a situation where you feel offended or angry, I encourage you to go against your desire to fix them; Instead, choose to fix yourself so that you can enjoy the rest of your day.  🙏


 

With Gratitude,
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Humanity in the Eye of the Storm

I’m a frequent visitor of Wikipedia.  I also donate to the Wikimedia Foundation Inc., which is the non-profit organization behind Wikipedia.  I will explain why I mention Wikipedia after the following Disclaimer 😆:

DISCLAIMER:
Because of my financial situation (my wellness business took a big hit due to the pandemic), I have to be selective of which non-profits I donate to, but I make sure I donate a portion of my income to the causes that I strongly believe in.
(Please do not contact me to ask for donations at this time.  Thank you.🙏)

Did you know that the recent winter storm from a couple of weeks ago already has a page on Wikipedia?  It’s titled, February 13–17, 2021 North American winter storm.”  According to this article, the winter storm — unofficially known as “Winter Storm Uri” (I call it SNOVID-21) — affected many states across the U.S., with Texas experiencing the worst of it.  (I’m bringing it for a landing here now…)  Being that I live in North Texas, I was part of the millions of Texans that experienced rolling power outages, no WiFi, spotty cell reception, several days of below freezing temperature, frozen pipes, and other related situations that come with living in a state that was not built to handle such freezing weather. 

But in the midst of it all, I had some great realizations about myself and my community.

I woke up on Monday morning to a very cold house.  My face felt frozen, so I immediately buried my face under the thick blanket that was over me.  My husband walked in shortly afterward to tell me about the power outages and that our heater was acting up.  The next several days consisted of us having to manually turn the heater back on every time the power came back on (which resulted in a couple of sleepless nights as my husband and I took turns staying up to reset the heater throughout the night).  Because we had power for about 45 minutes on and 90 minutes off, we would take every “power-on” opportunities to boil water, cook meals (thank God for our Instant Pot!), and recharge our cell phones (mainly to use as flashlights).  I also took advantage of daylight to finish reading my January book, and I even started reading my February book (My goal is to read one book every month). It was a very uncomfortable week and consistently wearing four layers of clothes, but it was also a week of slowing down and detoxing from electronics.

I was reminded that electronics can distract me — more than I realize — from completing tasks and accomplishing goals.

I also saw some amazing hearts of service come out of many people. I had neighbors clearing snow off of people’s driveways (including the driveway of an elderly couple), some risking their safety by driving through multiple cities (in the snow) to collect warm clothes for those in shelters, and hosting friends and family who lost power completely.  I saw post after post from people on NextDoor, Facebook and Instagram, offering whatever resources they had to anyone that may be in need.  This reminded me of what the First Century Christians did in Acts 2:44-45:

“All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts…”

It was a week I will never forget.  My heart goes out to those who lost their loved ones due to the Winter Storm as well as those still recovering from the damages that the freezing temperatures left behind.  But in the middle of tragedies and losses, I’m grateful and proud to be a part of a community that bands together and looks out for each other.

When things get tough, may we all step up to extend our love and service to those in need.

 

With Gratitude,
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Things I Learned From My Bestfriends – Pt. 4

As the final part of my 4-part series about “Things I Learned from My Best Friends,” I am dedicating today’s blog to all of the guy best friends that I’ve had throughout my life; but before I introduce you to all of them, let me give you a little background of why I had so many guy best friends.
I was born into a familial generation of all boys. I have an older brother and, other than one older female cousin, all of my cousins – not counting 2nd or 3rd cousins – were boys. In the Korean tradition (at least when I was younger), your cousins are your best friends. So, whenever we had family gatherings, I was the only girl under the age 16. I got along with most of my cousins, so I became comfortable being the only girl in a group of many boys. Once I got over the socially awkward stage of being a pre-teen, I found myself gravitating toward guys for friendship once again.

High School

I met M.G. in my geometry class during my sophomore year. I immediately developed a crush on him for his good-looks, quiet nature and the fact that he was an athlete. I made it very obvious that I had a crush on him by writing him notes and always finding ways to talk to him or flirt with him. Being that he did not feel the same way towards me, I decided that I’d rather have him in my life as a friend than nothing at all… while secretly hoping that I could win him over. About a year into our friendship, our feeling for each other became mutual, and we officially became a couple in the beginning of our junior year. We dated until the end of our college freshman year, and although we tried to stay friends, we just couldn’t make it happen. I was sort of the wild child who preferred to go clubbing while he was the down-to-earth, “dinner and a movie” type of guy. We were each other’s first love, so we made a lot of mistakes… but I’m so grateful for the lessons I learned while he was in my life. One of the greatest things I learned from having M.G. as my best friend was appreciating the simpler things in life.

J.K. and I started hanging out toward the end of my sophomore year. We both attended summer school (He was taking a class to get ahead academically while I was there to re-take Geometry because I got a D; I guess I should’ve paid attention in class instead of staring at M.G. and writing him notes 😬), and we just somehow ended up in the same group that would hang out in between classes.  He was every girl’s confidant; but he wasn’t “friend-zoned” because of his looks or social skills.  In fact, he was quite good-looking and had a great personality.  (And he did have plenty of girls that had crushes on him; I just wasn’t one of them probably because I was hung up on M.G.)  He became the guy that I would always call to vent about all my boy drama, and he would patiently listen and — without being judgmental — give me great advice.  We still keep in touch, and it warms my heart to get a text message from him once in a while.  I will forever be grateful for having him as one of my high school best friends and for his example of being grounded and emotionally consistent.

College

I met J.C. shortly after I became a Christian in college.  We were part of the same campus ministry, and we became best friends instantly.  We talked about everything and anything, and I felt safe and secure in my friendship with him. Just like J.K., he was very emotionally stable, sweet, and a loyal friend.  Whenever I was feeling sad about anything, he would play his guitar for me… and from time to time, I was successful at getting him to sing for me too!  I felt very protective of him, so I became that friend who would approve or disapprove of any girl that he was interested in. (When he met his future wife, I was so happy for him because she is one of the few girls that I approved of for him!)  The word that comes to mind when I think of J.C. is faithfulness.  He is a faithful Christian through and through, and I’m so grateful that we had the friendship that we did.

After College

D.G. moved from our sister church in St. Louis to help strengthen the singles ministry in our church.  One of my first memories of him is when he asked me out on a date… which I turned down because I had a boyfriend at that time!  I ended up breaking up with my boyfriend a couple of months after, and during my time of healing, D.G. became my best friend.  He was wise, fun and a great listener.  We have experienced so much of our single lives together, and I was so happy to be the one to set him up with his (now) wife.  It’s been a few years since I have seen him and his family as they live several states away, but I know that if I picked up the phone to call him anytime, we would just pick up where we left off.  I learned many things in my friendship with D.G., but one word that pops up in my head is LOYALTY.

G.C. and I had been good friends since our college years, but it wasn’t until after college that we became best friends.  He and I shared in our goofiness, sense of humor, and our love of salsa dancing.  In fact, he is the one who taught me how to salsa dance in college!  At one point, we became co-workers which actually strained our friendship temporarily (because we were constantly getting on each others’ nerves).  But even through that challenging time, G.C. was there for me.  Being that he was wise beyond his years (and a few years older in age and as a Christian), he saw past the temporary annoyance and extended grace and mercy in our friendship.  I will always be grateful for his example of spiritual maturity… and teaching me how to salsa dance!

The final one on the list is Shawn.  He needs no abbreviations because he is my husband.  He is the perfect combination of all the good qualities in my previous guy best friends.  He is uncomplicated and values the simpler things in life.  He is emotionally consistent and grounded.  He is faithful in every way.  He is loyal.  He is spiritually mature… and he let me teach him how to salsa dance!  😊  I can go on forever about my husband who is truly my better half… but I will save that for a future blog!

As I end my 4-part series on best friendships, I can’t help but to feel grateful for having been blessed with some amazing people in my life who helped me change for the better!


With Gratitude,
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Things I Learned From My Bestfriends – Pt. 3

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.”
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

Last week, I mentioned that I went through a “dry spell” in best friendships during my 30’s.  There were several factors that contributed to my lack to bestfriends during that time: I was a new mom (I gave birth to my daughter when I was 30 years old) struggling through postpartum depression for months, and just as I was beginning to feel better, my dad passed away from lung cancer.

During my pregnancy, I was working full-time while taking my dad to chemotherapy, meeting with his oncology team (I was the translator at many of the appointments because my dad spoke limited English), and going to my own prenatal appointments.  These things filled up my schedule pretty quickly, and by the time I gave birth, I stopped making time for bestfriends.  By the time my mental health and emotional health improved, my husband, daughter and I had already moved out of California and had started building our new lives in Texas.  I lived in Texas for almost 10 years with a lot of great friends (including T.W. that I mentioned last week), but none of those friendships felt like the ones from my 20’s.  Even though I saw other women with their “ride or die” besties, I told myself that I probably wouldn’t have those types of best friendships as an adult… but that all changed when we moved to North Carolina.

We moved to Charlotte, North Carolina at the end of 2015 (you can read about the reason for our move here), and shortly afterwards, I met L.P.  L.P. was one of the moms that served in our middle school ministry in The Charlotte Church, and we bonded quickly.  She was (and still is) a drama teacher at a private Christian school, and I could tell right away that we were going to be really great friends.  Our first hangout was going to the Twenty One Pilots concert together.  Shortly after that, we made it a point to hang out as much as our schedules allowed.  Being that her younger son and my daughter became bestfriends also made it easy for us to spend time together.  L.P. is truly one of the most amazing women I have ever met.  She and I are both creative souls, but we’re opposites in many ways.  She has taught me how to be more compassionate and vulnerable, where I — according to her — have taught her how to have better boundaries in relationships.  We have made some wonderful trips together to Georgia, Tennessee, and California.  Although we now live over 1,000 miles away from each other, L.P. is someone I know will be my bestfriend for the rest of my life.  She has shown me that it is possible to have the kind of best friendship that I once had in my 20’s.

Another bestfriend I have in Charlotte is C.M.  C.M. and I have the kind of friendship where we don’t talk often; in fact, our keeping in touch averages about 45 minutes every other month… but when we do talk, it’s as if no time has passed between us.  She is never afraid to speak the truth in love to me, and I’m grateful that I can do the same with her.  I have learned to really push myself in loving people in spite of how they may treat me.  She is a woman who will love people with all her heart, not because of them but because of God’s love for her.

Now we come to 2021. My current bestfriend was one of my closest friends in my 20’s, but it wasn’t until my family and I moved back to Texas last year that our friendship became what it is today.  M.R. and I went to college together.  I have spent numerous nights at her house, and we have made many unsuccessful attempts to study together (they all ended in her falling asleep and me watching T.V.).  Even though we were close friends back then, I don’t think we really considered each other best friends because she had her circle of besties and I had my own circle of besties.  She and her family moved to Texas shortly after her second son was born, and once my family and I made the move to Texas in 2005, we tried to grow our friendship; but being that we were both moms to young child(ren) and lived about an hour away from each other, we found it a bit challenging to really invest in becoming bestfriends.  Fast-forward to today; we actually now live about 25 minutes away from each other, and her boys and my daughter are now grown… so this makes it much easier to spend time together.  I love how she is so down-to-earth, approachable and sincere.  I’m grateful that she and I share over 25 years of friendship and that God intended for us to be in each other’s lives for all this time — and for me to learn how to be a best friend as an adult — before M.R. and I became bestfriends.

One lesson I’ve learned as to why I didn’t have many best friends in my 30’s is because I didn’t know how to be the type of best friend that I longed to have.  I couldn’t have deep friendships because I closed off a huge part of my heart when my dad died.  Because I felt hurt by a lot of people that I felt weren’t there for me when I was grieving my dad,  I closed my heart from having vulnerable and deep friendships.  Of course, this is all in hindsight and I’m still working on these things, but I have been  seeing a huge shift in the quality and depth of my friendships because I am finally willing to open up and be vulnerable.

Next week, I will introduce you to all the guy best friends that I had and the impact they’ve had on me!

 

With Gratitude,
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