live your heart out
Move purposefully. Love Wholeheartedly. Be present
"To live-your-heart-out is to live a vibrant and healthy life - one with uninhibited joy, courage, and expression of true self."
Nancy Ma - yoga coach & women's health physiotherapist
"THE PLAIN FACT IS THAT THE PLANET DOES NOT NEED MORE SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE. BUT IT DOES DESPERATELY NEED MORE PEACEMAKERS, HEALERS, RESTORERS, STORYTELLERS, AND LOVERS OF EVERY KIND. IT NEEDS PEOPLE WHO LIVE WELL IN THEIR PLACES."
What fills my heart and soul is the collection of stories I have gathered from my ancestors, parents, family, friends, patients, and even strangers over the years. I store them close to my heart with gratitude for all the lessons I've learned and all the joys and struggles I've experienced and shared with others.
My story begins in Vietnam. Half of it in the busy, bustling Saigon and the other half in the rural villages of Bac Lieu. My paternal grandparents ran a lucrative cattle business in Saigon and my maternal grandparents ran a successful catering business. Both were able to provide well for their family of 10 children - each coincidentally with 7 girls and 3 boys. In 1979, after communism took over in Vietnam, their businesses struggled and they had decided it was time to leave their home country.
They each made their way separately to Canada. Both had similar stories of struggle, hunger, and danger as they encountered pirates and diseases at sea and had to learn to build their own shelter on the shores of Malaysia. After a year on the island, their families got sponsored from different churches in Toronto. These sponsors assisted them with getting jobs, buying clothes, furniture, and learning English. My parents actually met in ESL (English as a Second Language) school. They fell in love, got married, and had me in 1983.
I grew up with parents that saved every single penny they earned and never spent a dollar unless absolutely necessary for survival. We lived in a house where every nook and cranny was rented out to other Vietnamese refugees to help pay the mortgage.
My parents wanted to make sure that my brother and I never had to struggle, so they sheltered us from the world as best as they could - so we would never have to bear any heartache.
I always tried to make my parents proud. I became a physiotherapist, and that was the best possible outcome for me. Through this career path, I truly learned to listen to what people had to say. I learned from others' struggles. I heard and felt their pain. I tried my best to help with the experience I had.
The best way I knew how to help people, is to show them that I heard what they were saying. And they believed what I had to say when they felt a connection with me. How did I develop that connection? I found a way to relate to every single one of my patients. By being a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a former teenager, a future elderly, a 2nd generation immigrant, an Asian,a yogi, a music lover, a foodie, and a traveler to many foreign and local destinations. And if I couldn't find a way to relate to them (which is extremely rare), I asked to hear their story. And people love to tell their stories! It is true what they say - every single one of us has a book in us.
I found that after 8 years of practising, I was running into the same road blocks. I had solutions for people, and most of the time it would fix the symptoms or problems, but not the root CAUSE. So what's the universal cause of people's problems (at least in the western world)? People's situation. The rat race. When I came up with strategies, exercises, or lifestyle changes, I often ran into the same response: "I can't find time." As if time is a magical treasure chest that we can only find if we are lucky. So being the person I am, I tried to lead by example. I wanted to prove to them, that there is enough time to do it all. To have it all.
How did I create time? Am I super human? A magician? An alien? No. I simply followed my heart, slowed down, and did what felt right. I got years of training from my high school sweetheart, who got many years of training from world-renowned personal developers. The secret was to make the choice to change my situation.
So what was wrong with my situation? I had a career I loved, an amazing social support network, a brilliant and kind husband, parents who were proud of me, a seemingly balanced life....
and then I had my beautiful daughter, Nyla.
She rocked my world. Literally. I had enough time for everything before she came along. I had time for me, time for my husband, friends, family, time for personal and career development...where was I going to squeeze in time for this little new creature? How was I going to handle it when I went back to work?
The only thing I could do was to change my life!
So at a Yoga Conference, during my maternity leave, and after returning from a red eye flight from Vegas, an opportunity came up for me to buy a yoga retreat! That got my wheels spinning like crazy. I could still be a physiotherapist, teach yoga, be in nature, have time for myself, not have to commute, have time for my husband, kids, family, friends, AND the freedom to start my own blog! What a perfect solution!!!
My parents did not think it was the perfect solution.
They were furious, worried, and bewildered that I would take a chance, risk giving up my perfect life in the city, and move to the country?!?!! My parents owe everything they have to the big city life. They were able to work hard and provide an amazing life for me and my brother and I wanted to give that all up? They felt like it was a slap in the face. They thought I was being impractical, selfish, nonsensical.
It made me doubt my decision.
But my wonderful husband reminded me to follow my heart. I couldn't live my life, our life, based on what my parents wanted for me. No matter how much I wanted to make them proud.
So we moved. And we couldn't be more happy. And my parents are happy now too! (They gave in when they saw how happy my daughter was racing around in the vineyard foraging for grapes and berries).
So this is how I ended up on the beautiful Niagara Escarpment in Ontario. Against my parents' wishes, and the encouragement from so many people who weren't balsy enough to make the move themselves, my husband, my little daughter and I moved to Grimsby, Ontario with dreams of helping even more people make real life-directing changes in their life.
I still have a job. I still am a mom. I still am a wife. I still am a friend, a daughter, a yogi. I am still everything that I want to be because I created a life-work balance for myself by living my heart out. And I don't believe I'm special. I believe that it is possible for every single one of us, if you're open to learning how.
I was once told that people are like oysters. We are closed most of the time, but if you happen to catch us at a time where we are open, you'll find the most beautiful of pearls. I get that I can't help everybody. I can only help the people who want to be helped. And if I catch you at a time where your shell is open, then we can hopefully make a connection. Your story will become part of mine. And my story will become part of yours.
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