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Everypost App

 
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Over the past weekend, I thought to myself, "How nice it'd be to have an app that'll post messages and pictures to all of the social media platforms at once, so I don't have to do it multiple times."  I quickly did a search, found Everypost, tried it out few times and now I have to tell everyone about it. 

I like that the app is simple to use (it took me just few minutes to get the hang of it) and, of course, saved me so much time.  I also like that I get to choose to post either on my personal facebook page or business page or both.  I recently started posting more on Google+ too, which according to the app there might be issue with syncing the two together, but that also took me just a minute to fix (see explanation here).

If you're on almost all of most popular social media platforms like I do, definitely check this app out.

Lory Stripes App

 
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As if we don't spend long enough time processing an iPhone picture already, here's an app to make your Instagram pictures even more fun - Lory Stripes. I started out as a graphic designer, so that side of me quickly got addicted to the app. There's a lot you can do in customizing the stripes (actually, they look more like ribbons to me), so be sure to watch their promo video for ideas.

*images by Bonnie Tsang

Ten Years of Parenthood

 
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Today is a special day because my daughter, Venise, turns ten years old, which means today is also my tenth anniversary of being a parent.  Shall we throw confetti?  ;)  The past ten years had been difficult.  Not difficult in terms of raising my child, but difficult in terms of figuring myself out which directly links to what kind of mom I am.  And that required many many twisting, turning and reshaping...

I grew up with a mom who is very dedicated.  She worked a fulltime job, came home and she'd be busy making dinner, by the evening it was all about homework.  She worked hard and gave out a lot to the family, always making sure to provide my siblings and I with the best things - it's with the best, most loving intention and a traditional Asian culture thinking of motherhood that "you must sacrifice, you must suffer, your kids get the best things and you can no longer think about your own well being."  And I grew up with that, so naturally I became that "sacrifice it all" type of mom too.  It's not anything good or bad, it's just I quickly became unhappy and realized it wasn't something suitable to me.

When Venise was born, I told my ex-husband, "I am going to be a stay-at-home mom.  If I am having a child, I'm going to dedicate my all.  Otherwise, why have a kid?"  For the first year, I was out of touch with the outside world.  My main and only focus was my daughter and all I knew was Barney, Dora The Explorer, kids songs, baby talk...  Slowly, I'd look forward to weekends, which is when my ex-husband could take us out and maybe explore the world.  Unfortunately, I'm the type that loves to go out to see the world while my he is the type that likes to stay home and do house chores.  After many weekends of disappointments (sounds silly, but when you built an excitement for over five days and suddenly all plans were dropped by sixth day, doing that on a weekly basis, the disappointments were more than just "aw, we're not going out?"), I slowly gave up the idea that the person I married to would be someone that will go explore and see the world with me.  During that time, I tried to have a small online business and also developed a hobby - photography.  It was my way of "getting out" of the daily mom duties for brief moments.  Eventually, my brother said to me, "You should get on Flickr."  I didn't know what it was, but I joined anyway.  I started posting photos of Venise, things that happened at home, the sky, the lawn... and I got to "meet" many people from around the world.  One person that I slowly became friends with said to me one day, "I grew up with a mom that was so unhappy and I was never happy. She wasn't happy in her marriage, but she stayed because she thought that's the right thing to do.  I would much rather she chose happiness because at least I might grow up with a happy mom."  What she said helped so much during those tough times toward the end of my marriage.  I was not happy, I became unfriendly, I was always upset about something and that's when I realized - if I wasn't happy, then I couldn't provide happiness for my child.

Divorce.  What I didn't anticipate was how lonely the road toward that decision could be.  My family and my closest friends were all against the idea.  What they saw was that I married to a nice guy, I had a nice little family, "Oh, you have to stay married for Venise!"  I was beyond disappointed that no one was on my side and some friends even stopped talking to me.  How crazy, huh?  It's crazy that people want you to live according to their ideal life.  Everyone was against me, but my little girl was my big supporter.  She knew nothing about what's going on, she was only one, but she would give me big hugs when tears were falling from my eyes.

After the divorce, there was about a year of getting used to share custody, went back to the real world and got a 9 to 5 job, started dating again...  Shortly after that, my ex-husband said to me one day when I was picking Venise up from his place, "I don't think I can see her anymore."  I was puzzled, "Wait, what do you mean?"  He responded, "I just can't.  It's hard for me to see her."  I was in shocked that I didn't know what to say, "Well..., what about.... once a year?"  "No, I don't think that's a good idea." he said.  While we discussed that, Venise was in the car with the door wide opened and probably heard what we said (bad part of me for not thinking straight and close the door!).  When the discussion was over, I got into the car and Venise, in the back seat munching her tiny bag of french fries, said to me, "Let's go, Mommy."  Little did I know, our little adventure had begun.

For a year or so, I was working fulltime at a corporate company and trying to build a photography portfolio.  At that time, my only thought on photography was a possible way to bring in extra income and didn't think much of it.  Venise was happy at her preschool.  Things were going well.  However, this is the age when other parents start to "attack" you the most, with all of their how you should do things, what you should do and "why are you doing that?!"  I'm probably the type of mom that most people wouldn't approve of.  Oh, potty training?  I'll just let her take her time.  Pacifier?  She'll eventually stop using it.  Don't use bottle?  She'll discover cups one day and she'll lose interest of the bottle.  To me, a lot of things we use which we MUST learn are all just inventions by humans.  I didn't want to push my little girl to HAVE to learn what we created.  Since Venise was little, I respect her with her pace.  When she's ready, she'll be ready.  I want her to learn to build trust and confident on her own and not by pressure.  This kind of respect has helped me so much with parenting.  It is never about me, but about guiding her from what I learned and let her decide her own path.  Back to those "attackers", I had to remove myself from them.  How good of a friend could they be when they didn't allow me the freedom to be the mom I wanted to be?

While things were going great, my relationship with a long term boyfriend was not.  Five years ago, I felt comfortable enough to pursuit photography fulltime.  I became real busy, juggling with work and taking care of Venise.  However, there wasn't room to keep up with the relationship.  On top of being busy, maintaining a romantic relationship with someone who wasn't quite ready to have Venise in his life had became impossible to keep up.  As difficult as it was, I had made the decision to end a 4-year relationship.  Oh gosh, I was so sad and depressed.  It took a long time to get over.  I would hide and cry, and Venise would be by my side.  I said to her sadly, "Oh Venise, I miss him a lot."  She said to me, she was five at the time, "It's ok to miss him, Mommy.  You just need to get a life."  How profound!  At the same time I couldn't stop laughing because she was so right.  She continued, "Someday, when he is happy with himself, we will open the door for him again."  That statement of hers, I believe came from her experience with her dad because during that time my ex-husband had returned to reunite with Venise.  Now looking back, I finally understand it was necessary for him to be away from Venise's life for few years.  It was good for him to have alone time and to return as a better dad.  And Venise saw that - "Someday, when he is happy with himself, we will open the door for him again."  And this was a huge life lesson for me that everything happens for a reason.

For the past four years, I began to work on myself - how to love myself, how to have compassion, learn to have patient.  At the same time, I also started meeting many women business owners whom are so inspiring at what they do - a mom, a wife, a friend and running a business.  Through those friendships, I've learned a lot and slowly started to try finding the mom I am suppose to be.  Clean the house every night?  Nah... not me at all.  Baking upside down pineapple cake while making dinner?  Um... I don't cook.  Let's do craft!  My fingers don't listen to me and I can't sit still.  I tried many many things, I shape-shifted many many times, but by doing that I figured out myself more and more.  It's only a year or so ago that I finally came to term that - I'll never be a tidy mom, I'll never be the one that stand by the stove all day, I'll never have enough patience to sit still for an art project and that's ok because I'm the mom that loves to travel, to see the world, try new things and meet new friends. 

Today, celebrating my tenth anniversary with my best friend, Venise, I'm more sure of who I am, I'm a happier person (not to say I don't have emotional times) and I'm thankful.

*Much love and thanks to the family and friends whom have been there for this constant soul-searching mom and her little wise daughter.  I couldn't do it without anyone who has/had been in our lives, even for just a short time.

Work In Progress

 
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Finally got back into putting my office and library/conference room together.  Certainly a lot of work and the progress is slow, but it's a lot of fun to see how things are coming together.

*images from my Instagram

Moment of Slience

 
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Life is on such fast pace now and we are playing many roles (daughter, mother, friend, business owner...) a day that we hardly give ourselves time to breathe.  Sometimes I'd spend a minute or two in the garage before I walk into the house.  That little breather makes such a big difference.

*image from my Instagram

On Pointe

 
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How fun that eBay now let us curate our own collections?  I've been putting together some of my own and I like that it's easier for me to sort things.  One of my favorite collections is On Pointe, which is everything ballerina.  Most people don't know, but ballet was a big part of my early life. I was working toward to become a professional dancer, but one major head injury forced me to quit.  Despite that, I still keep up with the ballet world - like collecting vintage dance wear or posters.

Be sure to follow me on eBay!  *This post is brought to you in collaboration with Ebay.

Coffee Brewing Class with Michael Phillips

 
handsome coffee brewing class
handsome coffee brewing class
handsome coffee brewing class
handsome coffee brewing class
handsome coffee brewing class
handsome coffee brewing class
handsome coffee brewing class

You jump on to an opportunity (immediately) when the World Barista Champion said he'd teach you how to brew coffee.  My dear friend, Julie, and I stopped by Handsome Coffee on a Monday afternoon and hung out in the backroom with Michael Phillips for two hours learning the proper way to grind coffee and do pour-over.  Quick summary: Lots of laughing, screaming (mostly just me afraid of hot water), lots of math and lots of coffee.  Tyler Wells happened to stop by and was kind of him to teach Julie and I how to do french press.  Fun day!

Friends

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I really truly appreciate and love the friends that are in my life right now - some old and some new ones.  Recently, with a chance of (or perhaps it was finally time) releasing an old resentment that took up large part of my inner world, I found myself wide open for new knowledge, discoveries and love.  I can't even explain all the magical things that have been happening to me.  Most importantly, through all that, I have a group of friends that allow me to question, to share and to discuss from career to everything spiritual.

Often times, people would ask how I become friends with such amazing group of people.  I never really have a clear answer for it, but I am a true believer of being genuine with good intention, have faith, just let things happen naturally and the right people will come along.  We are close because we value the idea of helping and supporting each other more than anything and that's important in order to grow together.

I hope you have a group of friends that are there to support you too!

*image source: my Instagram

Visual Voice / SXSW 2013

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It's been a week since I returned from this year's SXSW.  I had such a wonderful time speaking on a panel with Suzanne Schloot of Kate Spade and Natanya Anderson of Whole Foods Market, hosted by Jean Schneidnes of Neiman Marcus.

Sharing my personal story:

I must admit, public speaking is something I have avoided for most of my life.  As an artist, I want my creativity to be heard and seen, but at the same time I want to be away from the spotlight.  However, I'm at a stage where I consciously desire to remove old habits and face old fears.  So, I said yes to the opportunity.  For about a month before the panel date I was struggling so much.  I struggled with, of course, fighting the fear of public speaking.  I struggled with turning my daily creative process into words (Why do I Instagram my breakfast? I don't know!).  And then I struggled with the urge of self-sabotage (the good old "Oh, I'm not good enough.").  Thankfully, I'm surrounded by friends that understood my fear and they believe in me so much.  That alone, knowing you're loved, gives power to courage.  Thanks to Joy, Bri, Jen, Sally, Brett and Joel for being there, means so much.  Sorry to sound like I'm making an Oscar speech, but I just have to give hugs to Michael, Joanna and Jacki of The Soil & The Sun as well.  As nervous as I was and as crazy as the scenes were, the time spent on those Austin streets with the three of them was magical.  And then a chance to have my very first Austin's breakfast burrito with Tyler of Handsome Coffee Roaster an hour before the panel was just amazing.  I mean, you can't beat eating breakfast, drinking coffee and listening to a successful business owner sharing his personal stories.  Last person to thank: Thank you, sis, for secretly being part of the audience!  xo

On Visual Voice:

Our panel's topic was Visual Voice: Branding on Photo Networks.  So what is "visual voice"?  Here's a good recap of what we covered and some "live" tweets for little snippets.  I was on the panel, but I learned so much about social media from the corporate point of view.  Here, I'll share my point of view as an artist, a personal brand.  First of all, with everything you do you should get to know yourself first.  You can't sell yourself without knowing what you're all about.  Have the courage to be your true self, then streamline your work, your personal style, your pins, your Instagram... everything should make sense together.  With that, brands and clients with similar esthetic will approach you.  Keep in mind though, when you shift your brand you'll most likely lose some followers, but that's ok because you're losing those (sadly) that you can't connect with anyway.  Having a clear identity and personality will help set you apart.  Of course, there are other factors too, such as talent and hard work.

I know that social media doesn't quite work with all personalities, but it works for me.  I like to express myself visually, I enjoy documenting life and beautiful people and things, so visual networks are perfect for me.  Find something that works for you, if you share your creative outlet people will respond.  I think being an artist nowadays is a fortunate thing because we can take advantage of social media and broadcasting our work is a lot easier and faster.

*image source: my Instagram

One Fine Day

one fine day

About two or three years ago, I made a point to always make time for myself.  It was difficult in the beginning because 1) the society has conditioned us to think that if we're not busy then we're lazy, 2) I'm a workaholic and 3) I didn't know what to do with myself.  At first, I'd take short breaks - leave the desk for lunch, stop by a bookstore or 30 minutes walk by the beach...  Now I just pick a day or two out of the week and not work.  I'll be honest, even typing this makes me feel guilty.  What would my clients think?!  However, I learn to let that negative feeling go fairly quickly because I know, in the end, the break from work will be beneficial to me personally and professionally.  It's good to go out, get some fresh air, see some friends, talk about things that bother you, hear different perspectives and feel energized again.  I often tell myself this: Even superheroes feel defeated and need to rest sometimes.

image source: Bonnie Tsang's Instagram