It has became an old habit of mine to write Review note every yearend. I treasure the moment of the last day of the year, when time passes very slowly, people become crazily rush, for some reasons, I become peacefully still, looking back the whole year as a slow-motion movie, to see myself, to cherish beautiful moments, to embrace my downfalls, and to love myself. I often clean up my room to make my space fresh, lie on my bed or sit at my desk, with a cup of tea or a glass of water, possibly with flowers. I lock up my room door, turn off my phone, turn on my in-the-mood music, and start to jot down my thinking. I call it #myownromance. Simply because I love to enjoy romance.
1. “Home is not where you leave, but where you come back.”
This is a Vietnamese sayings that my Mom tells me hundreds of times. Generally it means that no matter how rough life becomes, you may fail, you may make unforgiven mistakes, you may not know where to go, what to do, just simply come back home.
This year remarks the year I decided to come back home. For recent 6 years, I moved out 3 times. Every time I came back home, I felt the urge to move out again. The first time I moved out, I had only 300$ in my bank savings. At the same time, I opened a company with a salary for myself at 200$. Life twisted and was very intense. Yet I always stayed cool with it. I always thought that moving-out is a sign of strength and independence. But in a quick, random yet deep conversation with my auntie, whom I respected very much, she said something like “Living independently is easy, living with someone is the real difficult. You have been challenging yourself moving-out, why don’t try challenging yourself moving-in.” Funny enough, it sounded wise to me and made an impact in my thinking at that time. Considering other reasons, within 24 hours, I made up my mind to leave my given condo apartment and came back home. When decision was made, the rest took care of itself. I packed my stuffs, made some arrangement and started to structure a different life in my mind. My Mom was very happy.
I remember for the first 2 months, I struggled to have lunch or dinner with my family. For some reasons, it felt alien to me. I got familiar to eating alone. I often waited for them to finish their meals, then I went down and had mine myself. Many times I stood in my room, trying to feel my feet on the ground, looked 360 around, and talked to myself “This is my HOME. I make a commitment to myself that whatever happens, I will not leave.” And I did it.
Many built-up habits were broken. I often liked to turn on music loud when I cooked or washed dishes. I liked the kitchen set up my own way, I liked to stick a sticky note on the fridge to remind me what inside the fridge without opening it. Sometimes I liked to bake at 2am and then the kitchen became super messy (and my cookies tasted very bad). I liked to iron at 11pm with TV on. I also liked to wear sexy nightwear and cook/ listen to music/ read something cool/ or watch a movie. The companionship with myself was quite pleasant. Sometimes I missed them very much.
But I guess where there is a loss, there is a gain. By coming back, the connection with my family gets improved, all tried to make it work. I easily can visit my grandpa everyday. I spend so much more time with my sister, and at night, I often try to spend time coming to my Mom’s room to watch movies with her. There was a time, I burst out in happiness inside me and scream silently “Yea I feel it. My family is so beautiful.” Time didn’t heal. Love does. Love is magic.
I leverage the chance to picture a life of my own later on. I often practice asking myself what I like and dislike about this and that, what I would do differently if this was my own home with my own man and children. One day, I may get married and build up my very own home, I simply think this experience could be the preparation for it.
2. People though significant becomes small in the system.
This year is not an earning for me in terms of intellectuality or career growth. I get very little improvement on it. But this year is the year I could vividly see how a business idea is transformed into a business system in front of my eyes. My mind did not grow, it expanded.
These are key points I take down for myself through the experience:
- Vision is very important. Like 7 Habits of Highly Successful People says, start with an end in mind. Why? Because it is the reason, the destination, the engine, the fuel to help carry the whole system forward. Because it is the Northern star to guide you, to correct you, to encourage you, to be with you all along the way. Because you will get lost, get challenged, get discouraged, get distracted; and your plan did not work, and things happen as you didn’t expect, people screw up, market didn’t response and you learn that there are so many things out of your control. Then that vision is the only thing that remind you why you have to be through all this. To keep moving. Without the vision, it is like you go to the forest without a map or a compass. You go everywhere but nowhere.
- Everyone is important but everyone is replaceable. The system is created to achieve the vision. And whatever it can create, it can replace. The system allows replacement and requires replacement when necessary. Only the system can help upscale the business. To fully understand and accept it helps me eliminate unnecessary personal thinking, get my mind more rational and remind myself not to be arrogant. I learnt that people, no matter how significant they may be, they are just one in the system. No any individual is bigger than the system.
- What more important than the gap between lost and profit is the business model. This is exactly what my boss answered me when I asked him “how significant is our loss and how far are we from break-even point?” The business model is like a GPS, the roadmap, to identify how we should run our system. Once the business model is made, all the resources are driven on that direction. More important than how we lose and gain now is how we run the business sustainably in the long run.
- Manage it your way. I like a quote from Lao Tzu “Knowing others is intelligence, knowing yourself is wisdom.” There are dozens of times I asked my boss “why don’t we do this and that” in our strategic meetings, as it is the way many people do, the way required, the way supposed to do, that if we can work on it, things would work out. All the times he responded one answer “That is not our strength.” He simply run the business based on the strength and weakness of himself, and of the system. There is no right or wrong, it is just simply a reminding for myself, that even business, also needs to be from inside out.
3. “Why do you chase what you can’t have?”
A friend raised that question randomly when we talked about my past long-distant relationships. And that very unintentional question made me think in 3 months. So it was a quarter of this year I spend to question my dating life. It triggered my mind in a doubtful and painful way. Because I failed terribly hard. The word “can’t” sounds unbearably heavy. There are hundreds of times I hear it in all aspects of my life, I hate it in a positive way, as in many cases, it generates fuel to make me stronger and more determined. But as it comes down to this area, I am not confident. Because it required 2 people to do it. I can’t make it myself. Because I was abandoned. Even though I never betrayed, I was left with a message “you should find someone better than me.” from time to time. And it hurt my confidence, it shook off my faith, it haunted me to every dating.
I spent time cracking my mind and digging my feelings. I reviewed and I reflexed. Maybe he was right that it was something I couldn’t have. Do I need to fix my mind or is it only his belief? But after 3 months thinking and seeking for the answer, I realised it was so unnecessary. I may never find the answer, and the answer may be not necessary. I just simply live the way I am. Think simple. As simple as what thinking makes me feel more positive, more hopeful, more delightful. And live with it. And give it to others. As I can’t give what I don’t have.
My ex dated a girl in different country after blaming the distance on our relationship, my friends got married and moved. As I could not make it, it doesn’t mean it is impossible. I could not give it more power to affect my life. And my friend was wrong, I did not chase distance, I chased love. I followed happiness. I followed who and what made me happy. It is not a matter of what I “can’t have” or “can have”. It is a matter of what is worth. It is a matter of who you are made of. The experience itself was joyful and meaningful. The giving experience was pleasant. It ends when people doubt and fear. Or it could be like my ex that I really really loved said “Sorry, my guts is not there anymore.”
So what is important? I wanna be able to say without shame that “Chau, you gave it all. You gave without any condition, you loved without any expectation. You have no regrets. You have no power to force anyone to stay or leave. Its either free or nothing. And for sure you wouldn’t beg for it. If you were not the choice, you would never be. But what important was, during the time, you trusted and you gave, and you loved. And you’ve done your job beautifully. That was all matters. Move on.”
Que sera sera
4. No matter how short you think life is, it is shorter than that.
End of 2015, my very best friend’s Dad passed away. I got in the hospital before she came. I assisted her Mom to put clothes on his dead body in the ICU room. There was her Mom, me and another friend with a dead body weighed less than 100kg. It was cold, and there were more than 20 patients around unconsciously. No nurse or doctor gave us a hand. In my new year note to her, I wrote: “I remember when I came back from the hospital, the experience haunted me for days and I couldn’t sleep. It was intense and obsessing. In my very complex emotion mix, I thought the strongest one was there, when I was standing next to your Dad in the hospital. But it was not. It was when I came to the funeral, stepping out of the car, slowly walked in and saw you in the crowd, watched you smiling to visitors, talking to people, strongly feeling you were there but you were actually not there. In that very moment, I sensed a huge silence within myself, the voice crossed my mind and my soul “Jancy, she just lost her Dad…” In all our conversations, she and her Mom always repeat “He still has many things to do.” I learnt that, that was actually things that we have not done matters. So do it now!
As soon as I got my mind back, I got another news that my very close relative got cancer at the last stage. She was as young as my best friend’s Dad. She was all healthy, she was always careful and clean. And she was a great giver. Her children didn’t get married yet. I wanna see her in my wedding. I could even pictured we would go shopping and buying clothes for my kids. And we talked to each other that this year we would go to Europe together.
Life is short. Shorter than we think. So what indeed matters to you when you are alive?
5. Take every chance. Drop your fear.
Another habit of mine after yearend review is to create a year theme. On last days of the old year, I would spend time thinking to choose a theme for the year coming ahead, what I would like to make this year, what I wish this year would be about. I write it down, as a way to communicate to the universe that “This is what I want. This is what I choose.” And I ask the force in life to be with me. And when things come to me, the theme would be my compass, my mantra, my call. Slowly through years, I realise that it is such a powerful habit and I keep doing that.
Last year, mine was “Do something you haven’t ever done in your life.” I decided it that way because I suffered very much from my break-up just before Christmas. I set it as a strong commitment to refresh my mind and my soul. It sounded simple, but as I loved experiencing, it was difficult to collect such things like “not ever done in my life”. But as it is said, when your mind decided, it came. I rode around city with my sister on New Year Eve (normally my parents would ask us to sleep after the praying). I did not come to hometown and stayed at home on first day of the year. I took all my cousins for ice cream instead. I watched fireworks with my Mom. I visited seafood factory. I first applied for a visa. I went to a forest when it was 8 degree under the rain. I was praying every day in a week in a pagoda. I rode around the city to give blankets and food for the homeless. I came to a retreat and experienced sound healing. I donated for the people in Nepal. I came to a releasing fish ceremony. I was the stylist for Miss Universe Vietnam. And as unwanted as to date a jerk, or as unexpected as to put clothes on for a dead body. And so on.
So for this year. I decide to make it “Take every chance. Drop your fear.” As I want to encourage myself to be braver, and more proactive to achieve more, to wipe out old energy, to create new life path, to be bold, to be wild after an unremarkable year in personal and career development. I call and ask assistance and support from angles and above, may my pray would be heard, may the force be with me, may the universe manifest.