Oprah’s Commencement speech to Harvard’s Class of 2013…

“Oh my goodness. I’m at Harvard!” Watch Oprah Winfrey‘s Commencement speech – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GMWFieBGR7c

Oprah’s success can be attributed to her ability to genuinely connect with each and everyone of us through her authentic communication and vulnerability.  She is living the best Oprah by having defined her purpose and calling in life.  The clip is long but, I think, well worth a listen as it’s sprinkled with many life lessons from failure as direction changing opportunities to identifying one’s internal GPS for guidance to creating unity as Howard Thurman once said, “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”  To believing in dreams and living a life of passion and truth!

oprah

A story with a soul…let it be yours…

marktwainI distinctly remember the day I walked into a fitness facility November 2007 when my fitness journey commenced and, unbeknownst to me at the time, that it would be a journey…Preceding that day, I struggled to even get there as I had postponed the appointment a few times since it was during the whirlwind of the holidays in mid-November.

The trainer I was assigned to knew that it was important to get the client in while there was a remote interest because delay is the enemy of exercise with those who aren’t yet living the lifestyle.  I wanted to wait until January but he insisted on meeting right away. When we met, I was mortified to discover I had been assigned to a former bodybuilder because I was already intimidated.  Since he was new to the facility, he was the only trainer available to accommodate my narrow time frame from 1-2pm daily while my children were in school.

From that point on, I was encouraged, educated and held accountable for at least showing-up and working-out as hard as I could since it was only 1 hour twice a week.  I did wonder when my body might start changing since I had added a new component.  My trainer kept emphasizing the diet component.  It wasn’t until I contracted a stomach bug and my appetite diminished and I saw change by default that I realized how important diet was to overall results.  Underneath some of the weight, were the muscles that were strengthening and now more visible.  People took notice and asked what I was doing.  I now realize it is a very simple equation of input and output.  Diet comprises approximately 70% of the weight loss and appearance equation. My advice to anyone starting-out is to join a facility, find a class or start a group where you are held accountable.  I need structure and having a personal trainer to get me started was instrumental.

Once I was in a routine, I explored more cost-effective options on my own and found my way to a cardio kickboxing studio.  During the class, I looked around and could easily have been taking an entirely different class as I tried to replicate and execute moves I had never seen before!  What an experience.  The owner asked how I enjoyed the workout and I said, “I’ve never sweat this much in my life”.  I scheduled a private so I could learn the proper form cause I knew for certain my punches and kicks were nothing like anyone else’s.  Slowly I began to fully appreciate the workout and benefits and it became my primary form of exercise. After being asked if I was an instructor myself at a few different facilities, I made it a goal to learn and teach the very class I was benefitting from and enjoyed: cardio kickboxing.  I became group fitness certified and then taught cardio kickboxing at a few facilities.

Today, I am retired from teaching indefinitely as I transition into the next phase of my life as a divorced Mom of two seeking to inspire and help women find their passion as I found mine in fitness.  I share this story because people see me today as someone who might have always lived fitness but I didn’t and hadn’t.  I too struggled with a starting point and motivation and it was a step-by-step process of self-motivation, support and external accountability.  As my children’s school schedule allowed me to devote more time and as I gained momentum in terms of how I looked and felt, it became what it is today.  I am not on a program with an end date or goal but rather living an active lifestyle because of how it makes me feel.  How I look is something that just transpired over the years and which I am thankful for but never imagined what it would be.

I started this blog as friends and family encouraged me to share my story as they all mentioned that someone might find it helpful to hear how I transitioned into an active lifestyle and as a Mom.  The blog today is my public journal of experiences and thoughts of what I am experiencing with the hopes of helping inspire other Moms’/women to make changes to be happy.

The decision to divorce was based on many factors and everyone and anyone who is faced with this decision knows it’s a very personal one…Since the decision has been made, I am committed to living my life of passion and truth whatever that may be.  My dream is to continue with fitness but also to be a part of entertainment. I am in the midst of figuring-out how to make my dreams reality as I continue blogging, reaching-out to celebrity Moms’ for online interviews, applying for a press pass and living dreams like I did when I attended the Billboard Music Awards 2013 in Vegas and made my way to the stage with a 2nd level seat.

Without dreams, life is a series of tasks and, as I quote someone, a story without a soul.  Think of the moments when you feel alive and in your zone, it’s a place you would want to be everyday and as often as you can.  As long as I am doing all I can to propel myself towards my dream, I am living my truth. Believe!!

Balancing passion with goals…

943403_10151628324978701_2109053584_nYesterday was one of the most emotional days of recent memory where I found myself so uncertain of a process and decision I have been living for a year. As an emotionally driven person, I realize how important long-term goal setting is so that my daily actions serve rather than distract me. I live in the moment and believe that life is passion in motion but I also realize that there must be a balance between the two so we aren’t living to do lists and reacting to our day.

Yesterday was my first birthday knowing that I will soon be on my own but we are still living together as a family for another month. Daddy designed a cake for me and our daughter carried it out at our friend’s home where we are all equally friends and who have lived the process of our divorce with us. They have been amazing and supportive but I realize they are in transition as well with how they will interact with us in the future.

Life is a process: we have the power of choices and decisions and, once made, we must move forward. In our case, I am thankful we have been able to maintain a friendship and I think we will appreciate each other far more as friends than partners as sad as it is for all.

Take a moment each day to be thankful, reflect and reassess so that when you look back upon your life, you are smiling! Believe!!

Attached is a photo of one of my favorite athletes, Rafa Nadal, because he epitomizes passion in motion and balancing long-term goals with daily action.  His dedication and passion to his craft define his moments on the court producing the best shots and points of each and every match.  It’s easy to lose sight of where we are going in the midst of our day especially as Moms’.

Today is my truth…

If anyone would have described my life today 6 years ago when we relocated to the Bay Area for Daddy to pursue his dream of a startup, I would not have believed them.

I share my story because it’s one of living my truth which is so essential to being ALIVE!! If we aren’t in our zone, we are most probably not the best we can be in all areas of our life: as a partner, parent, friend, employee…whatever it may be.

Six years ago, I was living what I thought was my truth or the truth at the time but over the course of 6 years, I realized I wasn’t…I am returning home to who I was before my parent’s divorce and before I was led by fear of failure and not fear of regret during my first career.

Today, I am recently divorced with two children embarking on a dream to inspire and help by sharing my journey and to pursue a career related to fitness, entertainment and a life of passion and truth.  They say great things are borne from fear; I am scared and vulnerable but, at the same time, I am excited about the opportunities and choices ahead. To each and everyone one of us as we discover and live our truth!

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Authentic Communication…

leaninI highly recommend “Lean In” by Sheryl Sandberg. Despite her position (COO of Facebook) and upbringing (Harvard grad), she speaks to all women about embracing leadership and authentic communication. Once we are able to express how we truly feel, we can start living our truth.

Humor helps me speak my truth at times because it allows me to connect. Authentic communication is a lot easier when we are able to connect with our audience/the other person. Communicating also includes having the courage to ask with the worst-case scenario back where one started.

My mission as I embark on the 2nd phase of my life is to live a life of authenticity and passion!  By expressing how we truly feel, we are in your zone and in alignment.  Believe!!

“Why you? Why not YOU?!”

Woke-up this morning asking myself the question, “why me then why not me?” as a wise young soul asked me once. My struggle is to BELIEVE in myself despite what I may think people are thinking or not because looking back, I want to say with certainty I assumed full responsibility for the decisions I made and the life I lived.

I started a blog 2 years ago at the suggestion of family and friends to share what they thought was worth sharing: shifting from an inactive to active lifestyle. It’s been almost 2 years since posting in my blog.

My struggle right now is asking myself, who am I to be sharing my journey as there are so many inspiring amazing individuals out there who are living daily battles but if I ask that question I will allow self-doubt and fear to dictate my life. I share with those whom may relate to my journey because I know I’m not unique. I am a middle-aged Mom of two who decided a year ago to change the quality of both my life and someone else’s after trying to make it work. I’ve been asked, “is this the right decision?” And I wonder, what is the right decision. Will I ever know? The right decision is the decision made by choice based on one’s priorities. A decision once made can’t be questioned because then one will always wonder with uncertainty so we must move forward…

My blog is about this journey and how my life has transpired since having our first child…I should be a lot of things I am not because of the definition attached to labels such as Mom, middle age, women…but I am not a label, I am an individual with choices…

Ask yourself what you WANT because only YOU know…The best part of asking this question is that you have control of the decisions and choices to create the life you WANT!!

My strength and purpose is fueled by each and everyone of your belief in yourselves. This is all we could ever ask for…Believe.  I share a photo of my dear paternal Grandmother who was an amazing role model to our family.  She lived a selfless life always thinking of others but she lived it her way. She was one of a handful of women who graduated from Nanjing University for her generation. She went on to find a school for orphans and was asked by the worldwide leader of the YWCA to head the Y in Hong Kong.  She helped so many people because that is the life she CHOSE.  I dedicate this entry to her because thinking of her provides me strength to move on and push through.  To Grandma Tan with love.

Amazing role model to our family

Amazing role model to our family

The Power of Vulnerability…being YOU and living in your ZONE…

Don’t be afraid to be yourself because the beauty of each of us lies in our difference and who we are. My closest friends were made when I was vulnerable as a new Mom. As I’ve matured, living ME is no longer a question but a way of life because I am motivated by the “fear of regret” and no longer “the fear of failure”. I live each moment with my heart on my sleeve because that is ME and living in MY ZONE. Find your ME and ZONE and you won’t want to live your life any other way. Have a great day!!

“courage to be imperfect, compassion with yourself and connection as a result of authenticity (let go of what you think you should be to be who you are) and fully embrace vulnerability as being necessary and beautiful and willingness to share feelings first, and to do something without guarantees”
~ Brene Brown

The transition from 1 to 2 children and a few stories in between…

When our daughter turned 2 1/2 years old, we finally settled into a healthy routine of sleep, meals, activities and downtime. Both of us had established a supportive network of friends: my friends mostly being the Mommies of her friends whom we met at playgroups, activities and through mutual friends.

Ironically, I was the one who wanted children sooner than Daddy but he was the one who inquired about #2.  You can imagine how this was met having just settled into the closest routine resembling normalcy since #1’s birth.  I definitely couldn’t imagine another one at that moment or for a while but since it took us longer than anticipated with #1, we decided to try for #2.  And, as well all know when #1 is met with challenges to conceive, #2 is not so we were well on our way to expanding our family of 3 to 4 members just one month after this conversation.

I experienced severe nausea with #2 and, though it wasn’t as debilitating as with #1, it left me bed-ridden most mornings and lasted for almost 5 or so months versus the 3-4 months with #1.  I enrolled our daughter in a part-time day care program with her friend where she was successfully potty trained with home support and encouragement.

Flash forward to the birth of #2, fortunately Daddy was able to take paternity leave and assume the responsibilities of Mr Mom dropping-off and picking-up our daughter, transporting her to/from activities and keeping her entertained while I settled into a routine of sleep, nursing and changing diapers with #2.

Unlike with #1, #2 spent most of his time in a car seat or swing while we dropped-off/picked-up #1 from school and while I went about errands and such.  As a result, during his 4th or 5th month check-up, the Dr inquired about his tummy time to which I answered, “he loves the swing”: translate, he doesn’t get enough tummy time which is why the back of his head was flat and square.  He was a borderline candidate for the helmut which is used to round-out a flat head.  To my horror, he would be required to wear this helmut at all times during the heat of summer with the exception of removing it for a shower.  Daddy and I decided since he was borderline, a boy and convinced ourselves his hair would mask the shape, we decided he didn’t need a helmut.  He is fine today except because of the shape, he is often a few sizes larger than his friends in a helmut or cap.

On top of this, he ended-up with a cast on his arm for a few weeks.  Almost every where we went, we were met with “it happens all the time” to which I wondered “why is it then that he is the only 2 1/2 year old I see wearing a cast?!”.  A freak accident of bracing a fall from a dining chair (imagine someone leaning and slowly tipping over) is all that was required to fracture a toddler’s fragile bone.

During one week, I recall calling 911 twice for separate reasons: cold-induced asthma and another freak accident that resulted in #2 hitting his chin very hard on a table that left his eyes rolling up and back.  I panicked, called and said, he needs attention immediately.  All I could think of was keeping him awake and as alert as possible.  You know you call too much when the dispatcher recognizes your voice, name and address.

My advice again is to connect connect connect with other Moms’ for support, resources and the social component for both you and your child because every step of the way, you will most inevitably be experiencing something for the first time and there is no experience that can prepare you for parenthood.

Having the 2nd is a lot easier than the 1st but the challenges are accommodating two schedules and trying to provide as much attention with #2 as you did with #1 which is quite impossible so you do your best and #1 helps.Image