Friday, February 21, 2014

Dreams are exciting... right?

It's been a long time since I wrote a personal post, but lately I haven't been wanting to talk openly about anything until now. As of the past few months, I have been turning my dream of five years into a reality - beginning a website & non-profit organization called The Lilac Road for young women in New Zealand who are struggling with issues such as depression, suicidal thoughts, low self-esteem and everything in between. The website is up but under construction, and I have been working a lot on writing up posts derived from my experiences and inspirational women's experiences to go on it for some months now. I aim to spend at least three hours each day writing, and because I feel quite perfectionist when it comes to writing, one post tends to take over three hours long to write. My long-term goal for it is to build a Lilac Road home and retreat for young women where over a course of three months they can receive counseling and therapy to help them on the road to restoration. I also hope to one day run seminars, classes and do public speaking for young women to give them hope and encouragement through my story.
After years and years of personal healing, foundational work and preparing, I am finally beginning to turn my dream into scaffolding, actual scaffolding! I am so excited and honored that I can be one of the people on this earth to say I am actually living my dreams. It is something I want to be doing as a career, full-time, for the rest of my life, and building and seeing it into fruition has been a joy.

However, although I know that following your dreams and the calling God has given you is never easy, I didn't realize it would be as hard as it is for me now. I feel unsupported and almost belittled. When I tell my mum about this, she scoffs a little bit and tells me to find an 'actual' job. I know she is disappointed in me because I did everything a good Asian daughter shouldn't do - I moved out of home, I dropped out of University, I quit my job after three months, I don't want to marry an Asian guy and now I am starting a non-profit organization that will make me no money. I can understand how scared and worried she is for me, but I wish she was more excited that I am following my God-given passion in life.
I feel like I can't tell anyone about this exciting thing happening in my life, especially adults, because I feel like they just don't get it. Sometimes, I'll tell them about Lilac Road, and the responses I get are, 'Oh, I'm sure it will happen for you,' or 'That's a nice dream,' or 'Mmmm, that's great Jenny,' with a little hint of sarcasm. One time, I asked someone close to me if I could read an article to them that I had been writing, and that person asked immediately, 'Is it long?' That cut me deep. It's almost as if they don't believe it's happening or that I'm just a naive girl with a dream that will only last a couple of months at best. What they don't realize is that this has been stirring in my heart for five years and it is happening right now. I pictured that people would be more happy and supportive of me, but it's gotten to the point where I even expect pitiful responses like that whenever I tell them about it.

I feel so humbled that God would want to use me as a vessel for this dream He has planted in my heart. However, I also feel a little dejected about the prospect of it being a career in the sense that I have never really been money-minded. Because it is non-profit, I don't want to make money off of it and the thought of it scares me a little. Sure, setting up a shop to help run the organization is an obvious and responsible thing to do, but to make money for me, even though it can be seen as obvious and responsible too, makes me feel a little icky inside. I tell people that, and they say to me, 'But you need money to live!' It's true, I do. I do need to eat, and I do need a roof over my head. I figured though that I can find a part-time job to pay for the necessities, save as much money as I can for The Lilac Road for the future and work on the non-profit at night and on my days off. I will figure out how I can make this a full-time career later down the track, or I will just find me a rich, dying husband (just kidding!). I think that's one of the reasons some people find this dream of mine a joke. What society believes is that the success of a person depends on how much money they're making. So, when I'm working three to six hours on a post, or putting in a lot of time, effort and energy into building this website and non-profit and not getting supported or paid from it, it can send me on a little down buzz. But, like the beautiful singer Sam Smith said, 'I don't have money on my mind, I do it for the love.' That gives me a lot of hope. However, I'm riddled with the question of, 'Am I not successful or can I even call this what I do for a living even if I'm not getting a cent from it?' Because in many ways, I do feel like everything I am from here on out is going to be committed to this non-profit until God calls me home. I know what matters is that God sees my work and my heart, and His support is all that matters. It's me and Him against the world. Sometimes, it doesn't make it easier though, does it?

It's not to say I haven't been getting any support for it though. A few people have meet my need for support by giving me great suggestions, guidance and advice. Some people have even offered their own talents for free to help me keep turning this dream into reality. The support I have gotten have come from people I didn't expect it to come from, and sadly the people closest to me that I thought I would get a lot of support from haven't come through for me. It's disheartening that those people don't believe in my dreams or aren't willing to walk with me on my journey. I guess it has shown me who really are there for me when it comes down to the dirty work. I swear it's like playing Where's Wally with most of those friends sometimes.

I believe that's all that's on my heart at the moment. At times I feel like my life is a joke, at times I feel like my dream is a joke. The sad thing is, is that the only reason I feel this way is because some people in my life believed that for me. I shouldn't blame. I guess I just feel discouraged, unsupported and lacking in motivation right now. Trying to keep my eyes on God and my heart for all those young women out there I live to help one day.
Also, for those who are interested, I am back in Auckland now! I plan to stay here for six months, and then I hope to move back to Wellington and base The Lilac Road from there. I am also doing Relate, which is a once a week counseling course that takes four months and is run by my favorite teacher in the world, Chris. The things he says stirs me and gets me excited about Christian counseling, and I know the things he teaches are going to be so useful for helping young women through The Lilac Road.

Currently listening to: Latch (Acoustic) - Sam Smith

Thursday, January 16, 2014

A Letter To Men

By Christina Hendricks

We love your body. If we’re in love with you, we love your body. Your potbelly, everything. Even if you’re insecure about something, we love your body. You feel like you’re not this or that? We love your body. We embrace everything. Because it’s you.

Speaking of your body, you don’t understand the power of your own smell. Any woman who is currently with a man is with him partly because she loves the way he smells. And if we haven’t smelled you for a day or two and then we suddenly are within inches of you, we swoon. We get light-headed. It’s intoxicating. It’s heady.

We remember forever what you say about the bodies of other women. When you mention in passing that a certain woman is attractive — could be someone in the office, a woman on the 
street, a celebrity, any woman in the world, really — your comment goes into a steel box and it stays there forever. We will file the comment under “Women He Finds Attractive.” It’s not about
 whether or not we approve of the comment. It’s about learning what you think is sexy and how we might be able to convey it. It’s about keeping our man by knowing what he likes.

We also remember everything you say about our bodies, be it good or bad. Doesn’t matter if it’s a compliment. Could be just a comment. Those things you say are stored away in the steel
box, and we remember these things verbatim. We remember what you were wearing and the street corner you were standing on when you said it.

Never complain about our friends
— even if we do. No matter how many times we say a friend of ours is driving us crazy, you are not to pile on. Not because it offends us. But because it adds to the weight that we carry around about her.

Remember what we like. When I first started dating my husband, I had this weird fascination with the circus and clowns and old carnival things and sideshow freaks and all that. About a month after we started dating, he bought me this amazing black-and-white photo book on the circus in the 1930s, and I started sobbing. Which freaked him out. I thought, Oh, my God, I mentioned this three or four weeks ago and talked about it briefly, but he was really listening to me. And he actually went out and researched and found this thing for me. It was amazing.

We want you to order Scotch. It’s the most impressive drink order. It’s classic. It’s sexy. Such a rich color. The glass, the smell. It’s not watered down with fruit juice. It’s Scotch. And you ordered it.

Stand up, open a door, offer a jacket. We talk about it with our friends after you do it. We say, “Can you believe he stood up when I approached the table?” It makes us feel important. And it makes you important because we talk about it.

No shorts that go below the knee.
The ones almost like capri pants, the ones that hover somewhere between the kneecap and the calf? Enough with those shorts. They are the most embarrassing pants in the world. They should never be worn. No woman likes those.

Also, no tank tops. In public at least. A tank top is underwear. You’re walking around in your underwear. Too much.

No man should be on Facebook. It’s an invasion of everyone’s privacy. I really cannot stand it.

You don’t know this, but when we come back from a date, we feel awkward about that transition from our cute outfit into sexy lingerie. We don’t know how to do this gracefully. It’s embarrassing. We have to find a way to slip into another room, put on the outfit as if it all happened very easily, and then come out and it’s: Look at me! Look at the sexy thing I’ve done! For you, it’s the blink of an eye. It’s all very embarrassing. Just so you know.

Panties is a wonderful word. When did you stop saying “panties”? It’s sexy. It’s girlie. It’s naughty. Say it more.

About ogling: The men who look, they really look. It doesn’t insult us. It doesn’t faze us, really. It’s just — well, it’s a little infantile. Which is ironic, isn’t it? The men who constantly stare at our breasts are never the men we’re attracted to.

There are better words than beautiful. Radiant, for instance. It’s an underused word. It’s a very special word. “You are radiant.” Also, enchanting, smoldering, intoxicating, charming, fetching.

Marriage changes very little. The only things that will get a married man laid that won’t get a single man laid are adultery and whores. Intelligence and humor (and your smell) are what get you laid. That’s what got you laid when you were single. That’s what gets you laid when you’re married. Everything still works in marriage: especially intelligence and humor. Because the sexiest thing is to know you.

I thought this was funny and I surprisingly agreed with everything she said on here... except for the Facebook part, but since this is Christina Hendricks speaking, I am thinking of changing my mind about that.

Listen to: Cavalier - James Vincent McMorrow

Friday, January 3, 2014

Forty-five thoughts for my daughter and my virtual daughters.

By Francesca Lia Block

i always believed if i had blond hair, pixie face
big breasts
everything would be all right
not realizing that culturally idolized beauty
is not only foolproof
but potentially dangerous

if you believe in your own unconventional beauty

when you are young

you will accomplish twice as much and suffer half so

turn off lightbulbs and light a candle

walk don’t drive

plant a tree

wear sunscreen

dancing is an antidepressant

kindness is the new status symbol

every day please try to eat something green

and something orange

that grows out of the ground

tell me how mad you are

that your father and i parted

i will always listen

though i can’t ever take away the pain

expectations are for what you yourself create

they rarely work when applied to others

turn off the television

tv is a depressant

yoga is an antidepressant

don’t feel guilty about wanting pretty things

they would not be so alluring

if you weren’t supposed to want them

just don’t value them over compassion

use your words even when you are a grown-up

and people no longer think it is entirely acceptable

when you say, that hurt my feelings

if you can digest chocolate eat it sometimes

same goes for ice cream

(i don’t really need to tell you those things do i?)

do your homework because it is part of the game but

don’t spend too much time worrying about grades

fall in love with someone kind who loves your body

and your mind

if you have a dream that won’t let you go, that

tickles your solar plexus, heed it

turn dark feelings into paintings or poetry

or dancing

music is a kind of food

if you are sad talk to a happy woman who loves you

it will always help

move your body when you are sad or angry

avoid the following:

genetically modified ingredients

sodium lauryl sulfate

mercury in certain fish

neurotic thoughts about food 
(is that a contradiction?)

love your curls though they tangle

your pale skin though it can burn in the sun

your nose though it is broader than some

your sturdy legs and feet

forget barbie she does not possess imagination

remember you are a botticelli angel

the planet we live on is perfection

love her like a goddess

love yourself as her daughter

there is a planet full of different kinds of beauty

the idea that only one type of woman is beautiful

is blasphemy

of everything i brought to the world in these

forty-five years

you and your brother are by far the most astounding

because of this i will always love your father

matter never vanishes, only changes

remember that when someone you love dies

your round head on my breast when you were born

is the memory

i will keep with me when i leave this body

when i am gone i will still be near you

this is how i know: when you were born

it was not a meeting

but a reunion.

Listen to: The Sound - Ariela Jacobs

Friday, December 13, 2013

Broken dreams.

My little sister had a really hard day today. After only getting a few hours sleep, she went to school, only to be bullied and teased which I have noticed happens quite often. Afterward, my mum became angry at her because she did quite a big mistake, and she felt guilty and cried all day. She stayed in bed and slept, and I felt helpless and heartbroken that I couldn't do or say much to make her pain go away. However, she brightened up considerably later on after talking to a friend of hers.
I came over to her bed later that night and watched her as she slept, and I thought to myself how broken this world is. I almost felt overwhelmed with sadness thinking about my family's broken dreams, particularly my little sister's.

I have watched my little sister grow up ever since she came out of the womb. Since my mum works most of the time and my dad isn't home a lot, I feel like I am her mother, father, friend and sister all tied into one. She has grown up to be such a beautiful girl with a brave, courageous and confident spirit. She excels in academia but she is also athletic and social. I love her for who she is today and I could not be more proud of her. But, sometimes I see her cry or upset because of the things life throws at her, and it really breaks my heart. These things mostly everybody goes through in life - bullying, the person you like being a disappointment instead, the brokenness of family, lost hope and shattered promises - but to see it happen to someone you want to fiercely protect in life and who you love more than anything in the world is hard to swallow.

My little sister is the glue that holds my family together because she is the only person everybody loves and gets along with. It's a heavy burden for her to bear at such a young age, and because she has this unfair responsibility on her shoulders, she has had to grow up really fast. I remember this one time 5 years ago, we took a family trip to China and had got into an argument where Sarah was in the middle. She went to the window and sat down, and I came over to her and noticed she was crying. I asked her what was wrong, and she said to me through her tears in the sweetest innocence, 'Why can't everyone love each other? We are family.'
There have been quite a lot of times when I would see her crying in private because of family troubles, and if that wasn't enough, nowadays she comes home upset sometimes because of troubles at school and with her friends.
It's difficult to see a once worry-free, happy child playing in pools and running around playgrounds grow up realizing that this world is not just rainbows and butterflies, but also one with disappointments.

I want to be a shield around this little girl to keep her safe from the world's utter brokenness. I know that for me, I experienced it early and without anyone breaking my fall, but I don't want to let that happen to my sister. It took a lot of healing and self-discovery to get to where I am today from where I was before, and I almost didn't make it. I worry that she will have to go through similar things that I did. I know, deep in my heart though, that my trying to shield her is probably futile. I am here in between my sister and this world, and I am crying because I know I won't be able to protect her for long, simply because I have no right to. She has to find her own path in this world, and that sadly means knowing all kinds of pain in her life because that's the only way she will learn true strength.

I think of my younger brother as well, who I fear is going off the rails a little bit. We don't ever speak to each other, not even a 'hi' or a 'happy birthday' when the time calls for it, but I know him enough to be convinced that deep, deep down, he's a good person mixed in with the wrong crowd. I know that he could be so much more than he is and that he could do amazing things with his life if he just took control of it and respected himself more. When we were little kids, he told me of a dream he had once. I remember it quite vaguely. He told me there was a snake in front of him, and God had given him the command to crush it, and he did with the tool he had in his hands. I also had a dream about him recently, and I can't remember it much either, but I know that it had to do with my brother and God promoting him spiritually. I feel strongly that God loves him deeply and has an incredible plan for his life, but I also feel like my brother is not responding.

Even though my siblings and I get into arguments, at the end of the day, I take my role as the big sister seriously and with pride. I look out for them as much as I can, and if push ever came to shove, I would sacrifice to protect and provide for them as much as I know how. I love the both of them, and it hurts my heart in so many places thinking about how heavy the world is on both their shoulders. I wish I could carry their worlds for them but I know that they need to pave their own way in life, that they need to fall down over and over again because that's the only way they will learn - learn to love or to hate, to forgive or to hold on to grudges, to hold onto hope or to despair - that is their choice. However, I believe that the best thing I can do for them both is to walk beside them in the most gentle and non-judgmental way I know how, and with my highest hopes show them through my life that despite this broken and shattered world, it is still a beautiful and magical life after all. As for these tears of mine, all I can do is offer them to God and simply know and trust that He loves them infinitely more than I do and that He has their lives under control. My prayer in the past and my prayer now is that He will protect and love them utterly like nothing and no one else can and reveal to them the real Father's heart, the Father's heart which breaks when he sees any of His children in pain.

Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.
Harold Whitman

What’s difficult in life is to stay centered when somebody does or says something that tempts us to close our hearts because their heart was closed. That is hard. But that is also how we grow. We go through those circumstances in order to evolve into people who can hold to our loving center no matter what the world throws us.
Marianne Williamson

I know when I become angry at this world for the wrong reasons, I'm closing my heart and eyes to the beauty left in this world.
Yours truly

Have a listen and be blessed: