Abundance in Time

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Time… is one-directional and a dimension that we can’t control in any way. Yet in our society, we try to obsessively “control” it and track it – with watches, clocks, phones, calendars, reservations, appointments, etc. etc… so that we can feel “safe” in the illusion that we have somewhat of a control over a dimension we don’t at all.

So what a precious experience it was to let go of theneed to track time completely this past weekend at Lightening in a Bottle… What a precious experience it was to feel abundant in time.

My days were long, filled with joy and adventures as I simply let my intuition and pure excitement guide me in the directions of the silent pulls I felt toward the places, people, ideas and adventures the universe wanted me to know. When I saw the sun started to go down, I found myself on this hill, as we all did, by this silent, yet extremely powerful, pull of the sun and its divine beauty. Witnessing this magical transition from day to night before our eyes, we made bubbles, we made music, we talked to and thanked the earth, the sun, the #Universe.

Letting go of needing to track and “control” time, I realized, was me saying to the world, “I #trust you. I let go of the need to control this #gift of time you have granted me because I trust that you will take me to where I need to be right at this moment and that’s all I need to know.”

Like a child playing outside without needing to know what time it is because you know your mom will call you in when you should be home… The Universe nurtured me with all its warmth that weekend and it felt good to #play in its #playground

Helpless

If my tears could take away your pain

I’d cry forever

If my hugs could comfort you
I’d hug you forever

If my prayers could heal you
I’d pray forever

If my many sleepless nights will let you sleep better
I’d give up sleep forever

If my hope cheers you up
I’d be hopeful forever

If my love reminds you to keep fighting

Keep
Fighting

Because I’ll love you forever

No matter where you are and will be
You’re my father
And I’ll be your daughter forever

Fall in love with life…

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Fall in love with life; go on adventures; meet new people and experience new things with them; don’t be afraid to show who you are and befriend yourself; don’t ever ever forget to appreciate every moment that will never come back.

Tell people you love that you love them any chance you get; cherish the love you receive; forgive those who may have done you wrong out of their own insecurities; stay compassionate to all of us who are imperfect.

Now is all we will ever have and always be mindful that you only get one life to live. That way you won’t have regrets, because regrets are the empty traces of you not living to the fullest.

When things get hard, know that they will pass just as fast as any good times. And when things get good, know that you deserve it. Life is all but dull, so don’t forget to live colorfully, color life, color life!

What you say about people now is what you will become in your next life.

My mom’s advice from when I was very young…

“Imagine that in your next life, you will be everything that you ever said about other people whether it’s good or bad. Now tell me, do you want to call anyone ugly, fat or stupid, or whatever? Is that what you want to be? That makes you think twice about ever speaking badly about anyone, doesn’t it? …

Now imagine that in your next life you will be everything good that you ever said or noticed about other people: smart, beautiful, generous, and kind. Talk about people around you in only good ways and you will have all those traits in your next life. Practice noticing only the good in people, and it will become a part of you even in this life.”

My first lesson on empathy and positive thinking. Apparently started when I was very young. Thanks mom. 🙂 I must be getting older… I mean wiser 😉

YC

This Moment

The moment you realize no one is perfect you will
accept yourself
The moment you realize everyone struggles you will
connect with others
The moment you realize you are already more than enough you will
be content

The moment you realize the impermanence of life you will
let go
The moment you realize no one can guarantee your next breath you will
live to your fullest
The moment you realize today will never come back you will
appreciate the memories

The moment you help others you will
benefit more than anyone
The moment you expect nothing you will
gain everything
And the moment you realize you already have everything you will
be happy.

……………………….

Smile. Life is short 🙂 Enjoy each breath and everything you have.

-YC

New Moon

Someone asked me once.. what inspires you to write? To be honest, at the time, I couldn’t answer that. I had to think about it, for weeks and months because I just had never thought about it. And I felt like it was an important question. I felt like I should have a really good answer ready to go, but I didn’t. Until more recently. It was a lot simpler than I made it to be. Sometimes the best answers in life are just that – simple.

So everything does. Everything inspires me. Just as a photographer is inspired by everything that stimulates their senses and captures the moment, when I am in a creative and open mindset and I start to observe the world through an appreciative set of eyes, everything stimulates my senses and I feel compelled to capture those moments, but mostly with my words.

Tonight, I was leaving work at 8 something PM, and as I was walking to my car in the parking lot, and realized that I had no idea where I parked … again…. I just happened to look up at the sky and saw this beautiful glowing full moon. There, at 8 something PM, inching closer to 9 PM, I lost track of time and where I needed to be for a moment. I was completely captivated by the moon and the beauty of it. I stood there, for good 10 minutes or so, to realize I didn’t care how late or tired or hungry I was. I wanted to capture everything I felt, saw, smelled, and heard that moment.

I sat next to my car, still admiring the moon in complete awe, and I started writing down on my phone’s Notes app like a frantic artist. I wanted to capture everything. All at once. A few minutes later, I realize I had written this. And I promised myself I wouldn’t edit it because I wanted it to be organic and real. Here it goes:

 

New Moon

Under another full moon
I am tamed for a moment
By the refreshing summer breeze
It breathes hope into my lungs
And the green grass tickles my senses
Awakening the dull parts of my heart
That temporarily abandoned me
For a vacation away from me

Come back, as I reach out
I feel my heart beat again
Suddenly I remember what it feels to

Feel

The nostalgic pain, the laughter once held back,

They all seem so beautiful now.

But tonight
I breathe to feel
alive again

It’s a new full moon
And just another one for some
But tonight
I am a captive

For all good that it represents.

I surrender
To this
Moment

Under
my new full moon.

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– YC

Four Leaf Clovers: Abnormal is beautiful.

True artists are like four leaf clovers: they don’t fit in, they are different, and hard to find; and you will feel extremely lucky if you find them because they have this innate power to inspire you. The rest of the world glorifies them as they are special and unique when they are “discovered,” but until they are appreciated by the right people and environments, the reality is that they are often just written off as abnormal, weird, and deformed, even. But they they don’t care and that’s what makes them beautiful, and true artists.

The other day, I was walking to my parents’ place for lunch for my weekly visit, and I saw a cluster of three leaf clovers, and for some reason, I felt compelled to kneel down to the ground and look for this mythical four leaf clover in the grass. By the way, being content in your life brings many benefits, and one of them is that you start to feel your senses enhance and you feel more observant of your surroundings. It was one of those days, where I must have passed by these clusters of three leaf clovers many many times before, but that moment, I noticed how green the grass smelled, how blue and open the sky felt, and how interesting these clusters of three leaf clovers were.

So there I was, on the grass, with my work clothes and high heels and all (yes I wear high heels to work, don’t hate), kneeled on the grass because of this instant curiosity to see if I can find this four leaf clover.

And let me ask you this… when is the last time you took the time to really look at the three leaf clovers? Because I noticed something interesting… these three leaf clovers were actually really really pretty; They had these perfect little heart shaped leaves that fit perfectly to one another. I went through maybe 30 of these three leaf clovers, that looked identical to each other, as if they were flaunting their perfect conformity amongst other three leaf clovers. But despite their perfect shapes, and while I admired their unified beauty, I was uninterested in them – I wanted to find the lucky four. leaf. clover.

After 10 minutes or so of looking (one elderly lady stopped and looked at me weird, until I told her I was compelled to look for a four leaf clover, and she smiled brightly and told me, “you know they say they bring good luck!”), I found a four leaf clover…………

……but it was nothing like what I had imagined it to look like. I thought it would be a set of four symmetrical, perfectly heart shaped leaves complementing one leaf to another leaf in harmony, and I would pick it, I would take a picture of it, instagram it, all that crazy shit you would think you would do when you find a four leaf clover! Right? Well I didn’t do any of that. I was consumed by the beauty of the enlightenment it offered me.

So here was the reality… the four leaf clover was fragile, frail, and the leaves had yellow age marks on them. The leaves were nothing close to perfect hearts, but they were all asymmetrical and compared to all the other three leaf clovers, it was… rather not “pretty.”

Then I remembered something my mom had told me as a child… four leaf clovers are actually the “abnormal” three leaf clovers. And 20 some years later, I realized the beauty of this statement. One optimistic, artistic, poetic soul probably witnessed what I saw that moment (and maybe Irish, and had a keen fascination in stories involving pots of gold and midgets), how imperfect, how independent, and how different a four leaf clover was, and thought, why not glorify their uniqueness and call them the “lucky clovers”, rather than shun them for their deformity?

And whoever thought of that was probably a true artist. I remember learning about the definition of “art” in Anthropology in college and being very fascinated by its meaning. Art is something that is not only beautiful, but accepted to be beautiful by the majority.

But in my opinion true artists are people who create art not for the majority because they create without caring too much about what other people care to accept as beautiful or meaningful. They are often written off as different, weird, and even deformed, with their ideas, perspectives, and their creations. Remember van Gogh? His work wasn’t even glorified until after his death really. (And he was missing a f*ckin’ ear! He fits so perfectly to my four leaf clover metaphor!) But he was a true artist always. I hear about stories of even modern day artists and musicians too where they were often written off as the “weirdos” in their childhood or teenage years, and they become big stars when their unique qualities actually seem refreshing to the rest of the conformed world. And who are people who usually “discover” these talents? They are often also fellow artists who have the ability to find beauty in them.

This is what I will end this message on. Next time you see a person or encounter an idea that is out of your own comfort zone, whether it is because of the person’s beliefs, looks, backgrounds, or whatever makes the person or idea “abnormal” to you, remember that they could be your four leaf clover, and you may be extremely lucky to have met them or learned about them, if you look at it with an open mind and an optimistic set of eyes. Find the beauty in them. You have the power to do so. If it takes practice, practice.

Because the beauty you find in them reflects the beauty within yourself.

– YC

Giving, and Gaining More: 6 Things Homeless People Taught Me

All 2013, one of my best friends and I have been trying to find ways to give back to the community, especially homeless people.  Time flew by like it always does, (and always gets faster every year… sigh) and before we knew it, we realized that it was the last week of December and we hadn’t done as much as we wanted to that year (well ok, I guess we did go to the AIDS Walk, but that was a one time event). 

After hearing about an inspiring story of an NFL football player making hundreds of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with his wife to give out to the homeless, our last Sunday of the year, my friend and I decided that we couldn’t wait any longer to participate in some very much overdue plans of helping people.

This operation to feed the homeless started out with minimal planning or expectations. We went to Food4less after deciding that we could probably find the cheapest foods there in LA, we each pitched in 25 dollars to start and got enough food for 66 sandwiches (6 loaves of bread, 2 jars of peanut butter and 2 jars of jam) and about 20 plain rolls (we thought we might run into a lot of people who have peanut allergies – we didn’t). We also got cases of water and 2 bags of Hershey’s Kisses chocolate (we wanted to add a little personal touch – a dessert!).

When we got back to my friend’s place in Los Angeles, we rolled up our sleeves and just started making these sandwiches. After a few less-than-hearty peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that didn’t look too good, we finally got a good feel for a “good sandwich” and we ended up making 65 to distribute (and 1 we tasted to make sure it tasted good).  Making the sandwiches and wrapping them took about 2 hours. (And I will tell you, I am like an EXPERT at making peanut butter and sandwiches now!) We also had additional 20 plain rolls to hand out too, so we were prepared for about 80 people or so.

Then we carried everything  we made and packed them in the car, then we started to just drive towards Skid Row not knowing exactly where to get started. For those who are not familiar with Skid Row, it is an area near Downtown Los Angeles where there are streets after streets of homeless people. Unfortunately, there is a community of them. There are some “better off” homeless people with tents and others with just boxes and sheets. Either way, it is heart breaking.

With our cases of water and sandwiches and Hershey’s Kisses in our hands, we nervously started driving towards one of the most infamous roads in Los Angeles. We didn’t know what to expect. We didn’t know if people would like what we made, nor if this would be enough. We didn’t know if we would get out of the car, or stay in and drive around. We ended up doing both.

When we got to the Row, we saw half of what we expected, and the other half what we hadn’t expected. We saw people sleeping on the streets, others gladly taking the food and water, and some who seemed drunk and others who seemed to be on drugs – which we had expected. What we hadn’t expected were running into a 7 year old child and her family living on the street, people who refused to take the food, and others who seemed even angry or offended that we offered. We just accepted and acknowledged  the range of unexpected scenes and reactions, and we were able to hand out all the food we brought after about an hour and a half or two.

A few weeks later, with what we had learned from the prior trip around Skid Row, we tried again with about 70 more sandwiches. This time we were able to recruit another friend! We went directly to Skid Row this time, but this time in the heart of it, not  just near it. Our comfort and familiarity level of the area had already grown. Instead of handing out water, sandwiches, and chocolate out separately and frantically, we got brown paper bags and organized them in boxes for easier distribution. Instead of just handing out the food, we wrote on every single one of the brown paper bags a nice, hand written note, saying little messages like “Please enjoy this! Hope you have a great day!” or “Happy Saturday! J” Although it was just peanut butter and jelly sandwich, I wanted them to know that each individual that I was helping mattered to me and that they were special.

We saw more of what we expected – people who were hungry, people who were happy to see us. There were also things that we hadn’t expected, nor seen yet– a homeless person with a pet snake and a mouse he was about to feed him with, another lady defecating on the street, homeless people about to shoot up something with a syringe right before our eyes; we saw homeless people who were dealing drugs, those who were singing, and some that well, looked happy and sober.

Every time we encountered something or a situation unexpected, I learned something new. And what I gained from this experience was much more valuable than a few dollars and hours I spent making and handing out the food.

Things that I learned and gained by having the opportunity to help the less privileged:

  1. Practicing non-judgment: Sure, was it alarming when we saw people reaching out for the peanut butter and jelly sandwich with the same hand that had been used to hold a syringe? Yes. Did I go out there to judge and discriminate who “deserves” food and who didn’t? Absolutely not. But initially, when I saw this, I can’t deny that the thought went through my head for a split second – should I be handing out food to these people who are doing shady things on the street? But quickly, I reminded myself that I was not there to practice judgment, but to accept everyone and just help them because they were hungry. This helped me practice non-judgment. Who knows what I would be tempted to do if I were in their position? I am not saying by all means that I agree with their choices in life or support them. But what it did teach me was that I had no right to judge them because I had never, well, have been them. This idea really helped me in my everyday life – why are we sometimes so quick to judge people when we are not them? We never have and will never have the same set of experiences that they had gone through? At the end of the day, we have the right to choose the level of engagement with people who do not have the same values, beliefs and life choices as us; but if they are human, and they need food, I am more than willing to offer who ever a sandwich and water because I don’t get to judge who “deserves” and should be “denied” the right to eat a meal when they are hungry.
  2. Focusing on positive intentions: And this exact realization helped me strengthen my intention for being there. My intention was not to play God and decide who gets food from me or not. My intention was to help those who are not as privileged as me and to be grateful for them for giving me an opportunity to practice this positive intention. Often times, we get into things for the right reasons and we lose the focus of our good intentions and fall into a negative mindset. Have you ever gone out to celebrate something, and you let something rather minor bring you down and let it “ruin your night”? Have you ever had a date night with your significant other to have a good time, then found yourselves arguing? Have you ever tried to hang out with a friend, and got annoyed when he or she was a few minutes late? When we focus on our positive intentions conscientiously, we allow ourselves to enjoy the luxury of our good thoughts and magnify the results of our good intentions more, allowing us to appreciate always the better half of any situation.
  3. Become more aware of spending money on unnecessary things: Before I go to Skid Row, or soon after, I have a hard time going out and spending money on drinks at bars, restaurants, nails, or things that I can technically skip. When I am at a bar, and spending 50 dollars on a round of drinks, now I think about the fact that that could have fed almost 100 people who have not eaten that day. That helps me recognize and differentiate the “wants” and the “needs” in life.
  4. Become more grateful for everything… I mean EVERYTHING! When is the last time that I looked up at my roof, and thought, thank god it is there so when it rains or snows, I have a place to be safe. Or when is the last time I was brushing my teeth and thought, I am so lucky that I have this sink and this clean water to brush my teeth with every night. When is the last time I was thankful that on that “dreaded” Monday, you felt so blessed to have a job? When is the last time that I was glad that I have a bed and blankets to sleep comfortably in? Because I should be grateful for all these things, every single day that I have them! Being around the less privileged opened my eyes for what I REALLY have. If you are reading this somewhere, in a place with a roof, and a computer or a cell phone, and you are not hungry, then you, like me, already have gazillion things to be thankful for compared to some people out there. But often times, we often focus on the negatives over all these great things to be thankful for, because it is easy, because it is thoughtless, and because we are so lucky that we don’t really have more serious things to worry about. Next time my phone dies and waiting for an “important text from my friend” or  “so annoyed that there is nowhere to plug my phone in,” I will try to be grateful that I am so used to having so many people to connect with our phones and that I usually have readily available access to power and electricity (and have a phone that could die at all!). Or next time that we irritated waiting at a bar or a restaurant for drinks or food, let’s remind ourselves that there are people who have not eaten that day at all, and those who may never have a chance to eat or have a drink at a nice place, like we were about to.
  5. Become more modest and happy: Surprisingly, there were people who honestly seemed happier than some people I see every day at work, or at bars, or at parties. They did not have a job, they did not have a fancy drink in their hands, or lots to eat. They didn’t have a car, or a house, or even a family. But some of them, to my pleasant surprise, seemed to still stay happy and seemed to enjoy the positives in the given moment. I had a good laugh with the guy who had the snake pet and the mouse that he was about to feed his snake with (his snake scared the shit out of me and he thought it was hilarious). It honestly made my day when someone told me that they thought our peanut butter sandwich was so delicious that they asked for another one with a big smile. Another homeless lady told me that I had a great smile and her compliment was so genuine it warmed my heart! Some people, even when they monetarily don’t have much, still have the attitude to find happiness and connect with people with laughter and positive energy. If they can smile and laugh at least a few times a day, or say a compliment to a stranger to brighten someone’s day, or truly show gratitude, what stops us from smiling, trying to brighten another person’s day and feeling gratitude every minute of our lives with all that we have?
  6. Become braver to infect people with positivity and the intention to help the less privileged:  My goal in writing about my experience is not to boast about the very minor thing I did for those in need for a few hours a few times. Honestly, compared to what some amazing people do on a daily basis or at a larger scale, what I did is extremely minimal that it is laughable as far as helping people. But if by writing about this and sharing my experience, and I can impact even one other person to spend one Saturday or Sunday afternoon to do something to help someone in need, then that itself more than fulfills my purpose of sharing my story. Because whoever that NFL player and his wife were, because they shared their story with the public, I was able to get that very subtle but meaningful boost of courage and the motivation to do something that I felt was difficult to translate from just a fleeting thought to action.

Do something to make your heart beam with care and love, and help a stranger or 100. And share your story because this world needs more positivity and more people to help those in need; and it can start with you.

At the end, you will realize what I learned – no matter how much you feel like you helped, you walk away gaining more than you ever gave.  And I am already excited to go back in a few weeks to continue learning more… 🙂

 

– YC

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Detach. Realize. Accept.

When life is down, you look up and the hill that you have to climb and get over can overwhelm you; and when life is up, you can see the rough, rocky road you climbed from the top and it helps you feel more accomplished. I, by no means, have achieved getting to the top, just yet, but I feel like I can look back and still be proud of the hill I have climbed so far behind me. This month is about mending, improving and cherishing all the relationships in my life and really appreciating that I have these amazing people by my side. I feel so much joy and gratitude because what I have right now is more than anyone can ask for.

I still worry about my future, where I will be and what the unknown holds, but I realized that dwelling on those worries, or what some call a “waste of imagination”, doesn’t help me get to the future any faster. Everyday is a part of me, and I have to live and love it. I do not live in the moment because I am careless and I do not care about my future, but because I yearn to stay happy by focusing on the now and the present moment.
I felt no sorrow over a broken phone, and I felt no real joy purchasing a brand new computer. It was the fact that the phone being broken temporarily made me unable to connect to those I love that made me feel a little sad. It was the fact that I can get back to writing once I purchase a new computer, which is my passion, that made me happy. It was the fact that I had someone to share with about my shiny purchase, that made me happy. It was the fact that I had people to ask for advice to see what I should to purchase that cared about my decisions in life, that made me happy. It was the fact that my parents were proud of me that I can purchase things on my own, that made me happy.
Materialistic things in life are just symbols that help us realize what we really want and need in life. But the “materialistic things” themselves are not what we really want and need in life. They come and go, “things” break, crash, can be mended, and purchased again. But those relationships, the precious human connections, and the love, hope and joy that I feel among people I care about, don’t easily come and go. They stay with you, help you grow, help you heal, and help you change. They help you through the times when we break, crash, mend or purchase those symbols in life.
I had to do a big effortful turn the last two weeks. I focused all my energy on reconnecting, remembering why life is awesome, and being passionate about love and friendship. I focused my energy on understanding and being compassionate. I also focused my energy on letting others understand me, and allowing myself to accept the compassion that I received from others. It goes both ways – you learn how to be more understanding and compassionate by experiencing it on the other end as well. I have never been good at the receiving end, especially.
I am proud of the hill I climbed these last few weeks. I look back from not the top, but from a place a little bit further upward than I was before, and I am proud of my accomplishments. It is not an accomplishment that is tangible, maybe not even explainable or quantifiable, but it is an internal, emotional accomplishment that resemble growth.
I will read this back to myself when I start to get attached to materialistic things and attach emotions to them so I can detach myself and realize, they are just symbols of real important matters in life. I will read this back to myself when I start to get tired from climbing the hill, forgetting that there will be a moment I can look back and feel accomplished. I will read this back to myself when I forget to continually try to grow by learning how to understand and be compassionate towards others. I will also read this to myself, when I start to refuse to accept the love, understanding and compassion others lend me in my own selfish, false vision of “independence.”
But until then, and for now, I will cherish this moment of true gratitude that I feel for all people in my life whom I love and appreciate very much today.