Quiet house right now with a cup of tea in hand (and so so rainy outside!), thought it would be a good time to take a moment to look back at the year that I would call one of my hardest but most pivotal, and to put my focus and intention on what may come in the new year ahead. I read a quote recently on Instagram @bossbabetribe which could not be closer to what the last little while has been for me:
“2016 was a year of purging. 2017, restructuring. 2018 shall be the actualization.”
I remember leaving my full-time position at the time still in Shanghai in April 2016 to be more aligned with my personal goals and passion. At that time, I had no idea what I would be doing, or where I would be going — so much risk and uncertainty — but all I knew was there was a strong calling for me to ‘purge’ what I had been doing in the past, let it go, and move forward in a direction that would be more authentic to myself. At the time, with a lot of internal conflict and some health issues, I thought that year would be the toughest; and then came 2017, a year of so many transitions which presented amazing new beginnings, set backs, adjustments and all the challenges that come along evolution.
The transition from living 6 years in China back to Canada in late January was so much harder than we had ever imagined. While I have family in Vancouver, it is a brand new city for my husband and I, and that definitely took some time to settle in and adjust, mostly to culture in general of western society but also to pace of life. It also took longer to ‘unwind’ from life in Shanghai — everything from selling residual furniture, waiting for boxes to arrive, settling bills/payments, etc. My husband also had to technically work his position until late spring which meant frequent trips back to Shanghai, some lasting nearly 5 weeks in a row so most of his time was spent there wrapping up, while mine was here trying to move forward which was really hard on the relationship.
One of the main reasons of moving back aside from that overall feeling that it was time to make a change, was that we wanted to settle down and start a family. Since we are both ‘activator’ profiles, you can imagine the pace of action when we both set our minds to something! It seemed after I went back to Shanghai in May to wrap up my last goodbyes, everything moved full steam ahead and all at once… We found a great place and decided to get into the Vancouver condo market, putting a down payment on a place and scheduling some renovations. We had wanted a puppy for a while and found an amazing breeder of Bichon Frises and luckily got chosen to take a pup home from their May litter (to be picked up in July.) I found a studio which I started spin instructing again and it felt so good to be back on the mic and leading a class. Meanwhile, I was full steam ahead with ideation on my start up concept taking a start up accelerator course — LEAP @Launch Academy and loving the new community. And then in June, I found out that I was pregnant.
The amount of adjustment and lifestyle change that came soon after that for the months to follow were incredible. I actually look back and can’t believe in many ways it has only been just over 6 months since… entrepreneurship has proven to be far more challenging than I ever imagined, with so many emotional swings of ups and downs, and so many mistakes (luckily none too major) I have learned so much. And being a puppy mother has also taught me so much, especially that I had more of a selfish life than I realized before. It has also taught me responsibility, patience and the degree of how much something/someone else may need you. And I can’t even begin on the transitions (physically and emotionally) you encounter throughout pregnancy. The amount of changes your body goes through to adjust for the growing baby is beyond incredible — a whole new appreciation for women! And the emotions you face also, everything from excitement and happiness to anxiety to fear, vulnerability and insecurity.
And through it all, there are moments, days even, where things seem so tough, even grim. The challenges seem so heavy, they feel like they outweigh the positives, and you start to question:
Is it all worth it…?
And the answer is simple. YES.
Taking several steps back and time off over the holidays has made me appreciate more than ever all the amazing things that have happened this year. While at the time, they seemed like challenges, they are also blessings and learnings in disguise. They are real feelings, they are mistakes, they are obstacles, they may be even failures… But they are all part of life and when going through them, we are living. And the outcome of it all, I feel so fortunate to be in the place where I am with all that we have after it all — there is so much to look forward to for the new year and new beginnings.
2017 was definitely a year of restructuring. And a lot of things brewing where maybe externally, to the naked eye, you couldn’t really see or understand how far things have come along, or that I couldn’t really get external validation. And, as someone who normally survives on external validation, this can be really tough.
But all of that hard work will inevitably actualize and I’m really excited for what 2018 will bring — I’m sure it will be full of more challenges and obstacles with the baby and the start up, but I’m finally in a place to accept that this is all part of the process. Because what the last 2 years has taught me is what it means to be truly resilient. And my belief is that resilience is not something innate or something we are born with, but rather a mindset and understanding as we mature within ourselves.
A great friend sent me an article about taking a 'gap year'... which has basically been my life - a series of gap years for as long as I can remember... I have never seen life as something linear. We all get exhausted, and our situations change throughout the years. In thinking about this last year for me especially, this part of the article really stood out - "While I haven’t decided entirely on my next chapter, I have affirmed that my greatest inspiration comes from learning about the journeys of others and that there is nothing I enjoy more than helping others create a life they love. This experience has also helped me recognize that my next chapter is less about what I want to do and more about what I want my life to be filled with. I know I want to be with people who inspire and challenge me to be better, think bigger and see things from a different perspective. I want to love what I do and do what I love, and continue to be open to new opportunities, relationships and experiences."
Often one of the hardest questions one can ask themselves is what is my purpose? It's an innate human quality to be driven by purpose, it is the reason we get up in the morning, it's our motivation for what we do, and it gets us through the times that may be tough. But what if your purpose is unclear and you can't quite figure this out?
If you are anything like me, extremely purpose driven, this could drive you crazy. Recently I have been digging deep to think about this more as I start a new life in Vancouver, after living in Shanghai for the last 5 years and also transitioning out of corporate and into entrepreneurship... With so many changes and adjustments, it's easy to feel clouded with doubt and wonder - what am I doing?
I was extremely fortunate to have some incredible people in my life who encouraged me to have a hard think about what it is I truly love to do. At first, I made a list of all the things I like to do... and that was pretty long... but it became increasingly clear which things stood out, and then which things became what I loved to do.
Because each person has their own unique set of interests, what you are passionate about can define you, and set you apart. If you are lucky enough to truly uncover what it is you are passionate about, it is truly a powerful thing - it's that burning urge deep inside of you, it's unquantifiable, and it can be that force that lifts good to great, ... and I am one of those people who do truly believe it can change the world.
From this, I got the idea to create Passionate Penguin - so that I can combine all of my passions which then became one purpose. With the ultimate purpose to encourage everyone to start with your passion first... bring your dream to reality... and then the rest will certainly fall in place.
"If you can't figure out your purpose, figure out your passion first for your passion will lead you right to your purpose..." - Bishop T.D. Jakes