10 Year Challenge

I’ve been seeing a lot of these “10 Year Challenge” posts on social media lately.  I’m sure you also have seen your fair share of photo posts of your friends (and maybe strangers) of what they looked like in 2009 and what they look like now.  Here’s mine:

Other than gaining about a dozen gray hairs, a few wrinkles and having less elasticity in my skin, I don’t feel like I look too different in these photos; but the person that I was in 2009 is definitely not the person that I am today.

In 2009, I was working full-time as an Analyst for a Fortune 500 Company, songwriting and recording at night, singing in a Christian band… and exhausted, insecure, and unhappy with a lot of things in my life.  I was dealing with feelings of inadequacy in all aspects of my life (feeling like I wasn’t good enough of an analyst, a musician, a wife, a mother, a friend… the list went on and on).  I had gone down from a size 12 to size 2, but I still felt like I was too big. I was obsessed with working out, losing weight, putting strict restrictions on food, etc.  Needless to say, 2009 was a very trying year for me.

2010 was a year of rebuilding myself.  With the support of my husband, I left my comfortable, well-paid job to focus on spending more time with my family.  I decided to do contract work so that I can take summers off to spend with my daughter instead of sending her to summer camps.  I made sure I only worked when her school was in session.  I also started taking Mixed Martial Arts class to work on my inner strength (the outer strength came with it naturally).  I also returned to practicing yoga more regularly.

2011-2012 were spent soul-searching.  I tried my hand at being a consultant for an MLM company (which I realized that I was pretty good at but was not passionate about).  I tried starting a resume-writing business and an event planning business.  I just couldn’t figure out what I wanted to put my energy into professionally.  I experienced a lot of highs and lows those two years, but by the end of 2013, I had successfully gotten back into the fitness industry as a Zumba Instructor and Dance Fitness Instructor.  I also decided that I was going to become a Yoga Teacher.

In 2013, I completed my 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training.  This changed everything for me.  I experienced a transformation from within that shaped the way I began to view life.  I became more calm and grounded.  Life stopped being about DOING but rather BEING.  My relationship with God began to become deeper and more intimate.  I heard God’s voice through His Word (The Bible) so much clearer.  I became more in tune with the Holy Spirit.  I felt more connected to Jesus.

2014 was a year of experiences.  I completed an aerial yoga instructor certification and opened Dallas’ first Aerial Yoga Studio with two business partners.  I learned how to run a studio, train the staff, do payroll… all the while homeschooling my daughter and spending time with my family.  I had to kiss my social life goodbye, but that year was a pivotal time for what was to come.

In 2015, I experienced transitions of many kinds.  The lease was up on our aerial yoga studio, and we had to relocate due to a change in landlord who wanted to use our space for his business.  We tried so hard to find a new location to reopen; but after looking and negotiating with various building owners/management for months, we decided to close our studio.  Around the same time, my husband was offered an opportunity to transfer to their Charlotte office.  After many prayers and a visit to North Carolina, we made the move to North Charlotte in October.

I started to become known as the “Aerial Yoga Master Trainer” (training future instructors) as I began to certify instructors in North Carolina (as well as Texas) in 2016.  By this time, I had “perfected” my aerial yoga teacher training manual as well as my teacher-training skills.  This was the first time since leaving the corporate world that I started to make a decent amount of money.  I loved traveling to Texas to certify instructors while making a lot of money in the process.  I realized that year that I had a knack for training instructors; so I started to pray for greater things for the upcoming year.

I launched my own 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training in the beginning of 2017.  It was challenging to write the manual, teach while learning and researching, but I was eager to meet that challenge.  I learned a lot about myself and others while I ran my 200-Hr YTT and 30-Hr Aerial YTT in 2017 and 2018.  I felt that I found my calling professionally, and I was convinced that teaching, training and certifying future yoga/aerial yoga teachers was what I will be doing until it was time for me to retire (although I don’t think I would ever completely retire).

2019 became the year of accomplishments.  God had placed a desire in my heart to write a book about biblical meditation in 2017, but I pushed that desire aside for two years because I didn’t think I knew enough to actually write a book about it.  But after wrestling with whether or not I should author a book for a couple of months, I started writing it in the beginning of March which the publication goal date of October 1.  I actually ended up publishing my book in September all the while completing a certification training to become an IMX Pilates Instructor!

From 2009 to 2019, I was able to experience many challenges that sometimes tested my character deeply which helped me to mature and become stronger.  I also experienced some amazing things such as going on a 17-day roadtrip with my family (which was the beginning of many long vacations we have been blessed to take), choreographing and leading flashmob dances for high profile events, moving to a new state, gaining wonderful friends, mentoring teenagers, taking a short sabbatical, writing and publishing my first book, teaching yoga and meditation at retreats in beautiful places…  This decade has been awesome!

I may wake up with more aches and pains than I used to; but this has been the most favorite decade of my life because I was able to trade in some of my youth for invaluable experiences, much growth, wonderful memories, and a zeal for life that I have never felt before!  I am in a place in my life where I can decide to be still, listen to God, make some tea, and enjoy everything life has to offer!

As you reflect on your “10 Year Challenge,” I hope you’re able to recognize all the blessings that have come out of this decade.

 

With Gratitude,
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Little Reminders of WHY

As a yoga/meditation teacher, author, writer, homeschool educator, teen ministry leader, business owner and — more importantly — wife and mother, it’s easy to lose focus and forget the reason why I do what I do.  I start each day by thanking God for giving me another day here on earth, and I ask Him to help me to live each moment for Him and to remind me of why I do what I do.  I had one of those great reminders through one of my clients last week.

I showed up to teach a private yoga session that morning with a yoga practice that I had planned for her.  I customize each practice for my private clients according to what their needs are so I always come knowing what I’m going to be teaching; however, I felt led to do something different with her that morning.  When I asked her how she was feeling, she said that she was having some low back pain and that she would prefer to do something more relaxing that day.  I sensed that there was something deeper, so I agreed that she does need something more restorative.

One of the methods that I teach is a myofascial-release technique, so I incorporated using a foam roller into her yoga practice.  We worked on releasing tension in the upper body first which she absolutely loved.  But then the minute we started working on the hips, she took a quick, guarded inhale and proceeded to hold it.  I asked her to slowly allow herself to exhale.  As she released her breath, tears started to well up in her eyes and an apprehensive sigh came out.  I explained to her that when we hold on to unresolved emotions that do not serve us, they get trapped in the hips (which I learned during my yoga teacher training).  I told her that it is completely normal and okay for her to cry, that she was in a safe place to let her guard down.  I felt honored that she trusted me and allowed herself to release what she had been holding on to for years as she allowed her tears to flow.  At the end of our session, she gave me a big, unguarded hug that reminded me of why I became a yoga teacher.

It’s easy to forget why we do what we do day in and day out.  In the middle of running errands, responding to e-mails and text messages, checking our social media, going to work, meeting up with friends for coffee, driving kids to and from school/friend’s houses/activities, etc. etc. etc., we miss so many opportunities to see the blessings in all these things.  We miss opportunities to experience moments that remind us why we do what we do and the reason for our calling.  We get so busy planning for the next thing on our schedules that we miss the quick smiles of thanks and the moments that make us laugh, proud, grateful, and at peace.  I believe that anytime something touches our hearts, we need to pause and allow ourselves to experience that moment so that we can plant it deep into our souls.  When these seeds of reminders are planted, they will be embedded so deep that when distractions and discouragements come (as they always do), you will quickly be reminded to persevere… because your authentic self is counting on you to hear the WHY to what you do.

I’m grateful for moments when God uses the universe and the people in it to remind me of why I do what I do.  That one morning last week, God used my client to help remind me of my authenticity as a yoga teacher.  There are reminders everywhere; you just have to silence your mind and be still in your spirit to notice them.

 

With Gratitude,
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Indie-Author Do’s and Don’ts

I wrote my first book in six months.

I didn’t really think this was a big deal until I started promoting my first book BE STILL: The Power of Biblical Meditation. One question I’m asked the most is, “How long did it take you to write and publish your book?” When I tell them that it took 6 months to write the book, 1 month to edit the book and 2 weeks to design the book cover, I’m usually met with a blank stare or a response like, “Oh my goodness. I’ve been writing my book for over 2 years!” I’ve also been asked about how I did it in less than a year. You can read about the approach I took in my last week’s blog, Dream Killers (And How to Overcome Them).

I wanted to focus today’s post on what I learned along the way of independently publishing my first book (to be completely transparent, I’ve only published one book so far; but I refer to it as my first book because I’m currently writing my second one). After doing some research, I knew I didn’t want to publish my first book the traditional way of getting a literary agent who will shop around for a book deal through a publishing company. I didn’t want to submit my manuscript to dozens and dozens of literary agents. I didn’t want to lose any creative control over the content of my manuscript. I didn’t want to wait a year (or more) before my book is published (provided that I could find a literary agent who would represent me). I didn’t dream of becoming a New York Times Bestseller Author, nor did I dream of becoming a millionaire through this book. I simply wanted to write. I wanted to obey God by writing this book that He put on my heart three years ago.

I’ve been writing my whole life. I learned how to read and write Korean when I was four years old. When my family and I moved to the U.S. when I was nine years old, I became fluent in English within a few years. I wrote all throughout my teenage years, and I became an A&E Editor for the college newspaper. I went on to become a Sr. Technical Writer for several Fortune 500 Companies. With my writing background and project management training, I was pretty confident that I could write and publish my book without any issues. I did publish my book independently before my self-imposed deadline, but here are some do’s and don’ts I learned along the way:

DO:
  1. Create an outline.
    I wrote out my chapter numbers and titles and created a preliminary Table of Content.
  2. Write down a timeline, milestones, tasks and resources.
    See last week’s blog.
  3. Write consistently.
    It doesn’t matter if you feel like you have a writer’s block. Write anything and everything. You can edit out irrelevant things later.
  4. Give yourself some “padding” time
    Allot extra time for the tasks in case unforeseen circumstances come up.
  5. Go easy on yourself
    Show yourself some grace if you don’t finish your tasks in the time frame that you had allotted… Because it will happen.
  6. Remove yourself from distractions.
    I did most of my writing at the local library and Panera Bread with ear plugs.
  7. Have a pre-order sale.
    Holding a pre-order sale started the buzz among my friends (and their friends) on social media not to mention some revenue even before the book was even published.
DON’T:
  1. Edit your own manuscript!
    Initially, my husband was supposed to edit my book (he also has a writing and editing background); however, he started his MBA program this year, so I knew that between his full-time job, MBA program and helping lead the Teen Ministry at our church (which I also have the privilege of doing alongside of him), it was unrealistic for me to ask him to edit my book.
    Because I had experience in editing books for other authors (I edited two books last year), I decided to take on this task. It took an entire month of editing over a dozen times (this includes line editing, content editing and copy editing). I printed the entire book three times before I was able to publish it (and even then, I missed one thing, which I have corrected after publication).
    It is one of the most time-consuming part of publishing a book, and I highly recommend that you get another set of eyes to fine-comb through your manuscript. For my second book, I plan to pay an editor to complete this arduous task.
  2. Bypass getting a group of beta readers.
    I got lucky in that my friend and mentor, Lisa Washington, wrote the foreword for my book. She read my book from cover to cover and gave me some great feedback. Lisa is a fellow yoga teacher and author. She is also a celebrity chef (you may have seen her on Food Network), CEO of B’Tyli Natural Skin Therapies, Life Coach, and a Cover Model among many other things. She gave me a lot of feedback on the content of my book, and having her become my beta reader allowed my book to be so much better than I had imagined it would be!
    Beta readers will be able to provide valuable feedback that will elevate the quality of your book content.
  3. Order too many books!
    I had several book events lined up a few months before my book was published, so I went ahead and ordered 600 books! I ended up selling about half within the first month (which is still very good), but the rest are in my garage where I grab a box whenever I go to my next book event (which I guess isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it probably want necessary to order so many books since there are many people who have purchased copies straight from the website).
  4. Take not enough books to your book events.
    I always take more books with me than the number of attendees. I’ve had several people buy 3-5 copies to give as gifts.
  5. Expect to sell millions of books within the first month (or the first year)!
    Unless you have a million friends and family, you probably won’t sell as many books as you may think.
  6. Sit around and assume people will buy the book through one post on social media.
    I had a lady who purchased my book after seeing about 15 posts about it. She said she kept forgetting to purchase my book, and she needed that 15th reminder to purchase it.
  7. Try to do this alone.
    Go to writer’s conferences, join Facebook groups, listen to podcasts, and become a part of the #writingcommunity on Twitter. We are all here to encourage, motivate, and lift each other up.

Happy Writing!

With Gratitude,

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Dream Killers (And How to Overcome Them)

There are many things that fuel a person’s dreams and passions, and most of us start out strong in running after those dreams and passions. We make plans and goals, and we dream big and envision what the end goal will look like. If you’re anything like me, the excitement and motivation doesn’t last too long.

I have dreams and goals that never came to fruition because I would get discouraged, distracted, or disillusioned:

  1. Discouraged
    I would allow those negative self-talk to stop me from continuing the tasks required in order for me to get one step closer to achieving my goals. I would tell myself, “It didn’t work before,” “You don’t have the discipline to stick with it,” or “You’re not talented/smart enough.”
  2. Distracted
    I would lose sight of my dreams by focusing on tasks that wouldn’t bring me closer to achieving the goal. For example, when I was writing my first book, I would often get tempted to blow off my writing times that I had already scheduled into my day so that I can meet up with friends for lunch or go bargain-hunting at different stores (I usually ended up not getting anything anyway).
  3. Disillusioned
    I found that novelty wears off on everything. Once we see past the “glamour” of a dream, what we’re often left with is all the behind-the-scenes things that aren’t enjoyable. When I co-owned an aerial yoga studio in Dallas about 5 years ago, I was in charge of the operations, training/staffing and payroll. There’s a lot more to owning a brick and mortar business than just showing up to work everyday.
“A goal without a plan is just a wish”
– Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

As I mentioned in my last week’s blog, it’s important to know WHY we do what we do. Without having a concrete reason why we want to achieve that dream, it is highly unlikely that we will succeed. But even with knowing our WHY to our WHAT, we must come up with a plan that will help achieve our dreams and goals. Through experiences, trial and error (and through my former training as a project manager), I’ve learned to always do the following five things to set myself up for success:

  1. Write it down
    Dreams and goals must be written down on paper to make it official and real.
  2. Set a completion date
    Without a completion date set, you won’t be able to manage the next two steps (#3 & #4).
  3. Set milestones within the time frame
    These are small accomplishments within the goal. For example, when I was going through the planning phase of writing my first book, I knew I was going to start writing my book in March and have it published by the beginning of October. So my milestones were to finish writing the book by August 1st, finish editing by September 1st, finish creating the book cover by September 15th, and have it published by October 1st. After meeting each milestone, I celebrated by taking my family out to dinner.
  4. Set tasks within each milestone
    From March to July, I blocked out two hours of writing time twice a week  and even took a week-long sabbatical so that I can focus on getting as much writing as I can. I also scheduled all the interviews as well as the photo shoot for my book (the photo shoot took place in Atlanta, GA and at my home in Charlotte, NC) during that time frame. I dedicated the entire month of August to editing my book over a dozen times (In hindsight, I would never recommend editing your own book even if you’re an editor like me. I will cover this topic in next week’s blog). I finished creating the book cover in one week (I’m good at graphic design, but it still was not an easy task).
  5. Identify the required resources for each task
    As you write down the tasks required within each milestone, it’s important to figure out what you will need to complete the tasks. For example, I knew I needed to be away from my house whenever I would write because there were too many distractions at home (comfy couch, cute dog, my awesome family, Netflix, etc.); so I became a regular at the local library and Panera Bread twice a week. To prepare for my writing times, I would make sure I took my ear plugs so that I wouldn’t get distracted from conversations going on around me. I always took a jacket or a big scarf in case it got cold inside. So my resources during my writing times were my laptop, ear plugs and jacket/big scarf.
“Four steps to achievement: Plan purposefully. Prepare prayerfully. Proceed positively. Pursue persistently.”
William A. Ward

Dream big and plan accordingly!

 

With Gratitude,
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What is your “Why?”

“I believe it’s very important to remember your WHY because it fuels your WHAT.”
Keegan Leiba, Actor/Model/Talent Coach

Two weeks ago, I had my official book launch party. For several hours leading up to the event, I had one text message after another from people letting me know that they couldn’t make it anymore.  I must admit, I struggled with discouragement for a few minutes before I reminded myself that the book launch party was not the end goal. The end goal was to obey God by finishing my book which was already accomplished; so anything else related to the book (book promotions, book events) were all just icing on the cake. Once I changed my perspective, I felt at peace about my event.

How often do we allow challenging situations to discourage us or get us off-focused from our dreams and goals? I don’t know a single person who hasn’t struggled with wanting to give up or to second guess their decision to pursue their dreams. Sometimes we can even become paralyzed with fear of failure which prevents us from persevering through the tough times.

“The best view comes after the hardest climb.”
– Author Unknown

When we’re climbing the steepest mountains in life, we do not see the view which awaits us. This is when we want to quit climbing and just descend down back to the ground. It is at this very point that we must remember the “WHY” in what we do. When we fix our eyes on our end goal and the reasons behind it, all the steps leading up to that “best view” will become more bearable… and we will have grown in our character along the way which will allow us to have the gratitude and the ability to appreciate that view.

Oh and by the way, my book launch event was amazing!  

 

I would love to hear about your “why” to your dreams and goals!

 

With Gratitude,
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Be. Here. Now.

My last week’s blog post was about how life seems to move at the speed of light. As promised, this blog post is an elaboration of my statement, “When we get in the mode of constantly DOING, we forget to live our lives in the present moment.”

Why is it so hard for us to live in the present? Why do we have such a difficult time just BEING instead of DOING? I believe part of the reason is due to our desire for control.

“There are only two days in a year that nothing can be done.
One is called yesterday and the other is called tomorrow,
so today is the right day to love, believe, do and mostly live.”
Dalai Lama

Even for those “two days” that we can not control, we spend so much time trying to fix things that have already happened (yesterday) and control the future outcome (tomorrow). This creates a sense of constant movement both physically and mentally.

“Even if we are able to physically stop moving, our minds are
constantly thinking, problem-solving, organizing, worrying,
rationalizing, irrationalizing, regretting and dwelling.”

Excerpt from my book, Be Still: The Power of Biblical Meditation

Each week, I teach several styles of yoga classes (group and private classes), ranging from physically challenging to restorative and passive, longer-holds. Can you guess which one has a bigger attendance? (If you guessed the more physically challenging yoga class, you are correct!) As human beings, we’re drawn to things that create more imbalance within ourselves. The more driven you are, the more you will be drawn to activities that keep you in constant motion. When was the last time you stopped and experienced the present? When was the last time you consciously stopped your mind from regretting the past or worrying about the future?

“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?”
Luke 12:25

According to Luke 12:25, we can not add more hours to our lives by worrying. In fact, worrying is robbing us of our time, energy, joy, and even our health. So if worrying robs our lives (potentially shortening it), then perhaps the opposite is true: Not worrying (and BEING present) could extend our lives!

As a Yoga and Meditation Teacher, I have been trained to teach others how to be present. One of the most rewarding moments for me is when a student of mine experiences a self-transformation through becoming still. One of the practices that I teach my students is counting their breaths. It may sound funny, but I invite you to give it a shot with the following recorded practice (this one is pretty short) which is one of many techniques I have recorded for my book:


Next time you find your mind regretting or worrying, make a conscious decision to stop and experience the present.

Be. Here. Now.
With Gratitude,

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Life at the Speed of Light

I’ve heard many adults say, “Life just gets faster and faster as you get older.” When I was a kid, I thought that was the most ridiculous thing I had ever heard. I remember waiting — what seemed like forever — for my summer vacation to begin, only to start counting down the days to the first day of school (because I missed seeing most of my classmates). Those long days of summer seemed to go on and on. 

Now that I’m in my mid-40’s (45 to be exact) running my own business as a yoga & meditation teacher, fitness instructor and an author, I see more and more of what “those adults” were talking about. For example, in a single day last week, I taught 2 yoga classes, trained a client, ran errands, spent time with one of the teen girls that I mentor, drove my daughter and her friend to the mall, went to a church midweek service and spent some time on my writing afterwards. In the midst of doing one thing after another all day, I can tend to think to myself, “Where did the day go?” Life is passing by faster than the speed of light… or is it?

Growing up in Los Angeles, I was able to go to a lot of cool places. Once of my absolute favorite places in Southern California is called Glen Ivy Hot Springs Spa in Corona, CA. It’s a true day spa where you pay an entrance fee and you can stay there all day relaxing by the pool, enjoying one of their add-on spa services, taking advantage of everything or doing absolutely nothing. On that particular trip to Glen Ivy, I chose to do the latter. I spent part of that day lying on one of their poolside chaise, underneath a bunch of palm trees (here are the pictures I took while lying down):

 

I did not have anything else to do other than to just relax and feel the gentle breeze while the palm trees provided just the perfect amount of shade on this beautiful summer day in California. I remember this feeling of peace as I experienced how

TIME. STOOD. STILL.

I feel as if God allowed me to experience that day so that I can capture that moment in my heart as a constant reminder to slow down and just experience BEING as opposed to DOING.

When we get in the mode of constantly DOING, we forget to live our lives in the present moment. I encourage you to try sitting/lying still, listening to your breath, and simply be present. Perhaps this is the way we can prevent life passing by us at the speed of light.

I will elaborate on this concept of BEING PRESENT on next week’s blog!

 

With Gratitude,

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