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Winter Whispers and Peeling Back the Layers

The beginning of the year marks the gradual transition into midwinter, where our inner and outer lives often echo one another in a collective slowing down— turning inward and rediscovering the depths of stillness and reflection. Here, I feel more sensitive to the subtle, tender moments, little glimmers of renewal. Like when the sun comes out, melting away inches of snow, only for it to come right back the next day. Reminding me that these little bursts of insight and inspiration are often followed by more stillness, more introspection. There are no coincidences, only synchronicities. And this season has prompted the most unexpected, and often forgotten moments from my past to resurface through new experiences and an evolved perspective. Peeling back yet another layer of understanding, acceptance, and healing. It’s never in the ways we expect, and usually that’s for the best.

On our recent trip to the Bay Area, visiting family brought forth a cascade of memories, each a significant thread in my upbringing. As we drove past my late grandmother's home, a flood of emotions arose. The complex duality of my feelings regarding her and my father, who shares so much likeness in personality and tendencies, brought old conflicting emotions to the surface.

From Mom, because you did not call my grandmother, grandma, he learned his love of beauty and aesthetics, never leaving the house without being carefully well-manicured, groomed, and accessorized. My father proudly wore the term 'metrosexual' when it was still a thing. He learned to love fiercely and protectively, albeit through a harshly critical lens. Also from her, he inherited generosity, charm, and the natural ability to flirt with life (and people) quite well. 

We spent our first night out in Chinatown, stirring up even more of my happier childhood memories with my dad. Contrasting against the turbulence that otherwise marked our relationship. The nostalgia of crossing Grant Avenue, singing songs inspired by that very street from the musical that has left a permanent mark on me—one introduced by none other than my namesake, Michael (aka dad). Even more strange was when my sister told me, 'You are your grandmother.'From the way she carried herself to her style and essence, to the way my home somehow mirrors the house she raised my dad and his siblings in—down to the large vintage grapes on our coffee table. A new dimension to my introspection pulled back. Not too long ago, I would have met this slew of experiences with judgments. Little Michelle's expectations and needs not met, and regrets for all the ways I handled my most conflicting and difficult relationships from my own place of preservation.

My first and favorite musical of all time: The Flower Drum Song. Though certainly not devoid of the stereotypes reflective of the time it was created, remains a bright spot in my childhood. From the all-Asian casting to the timeless soundtrack and captivating performance by Nancy Kwan.

As you learn and cultivate the habit of meeting your own needs, you gradually ease the expectations placed on those who were never meant to fulfill them. The term 'self' in concepts like self-acceptance and self-awareness is a multidirectional path. The more you invest in self-care, the more you find yourself extending that care to others. In turn, as you generously give to others, you release the burden of expecting them to be anything other than who they are. This in itself is one of the many ways that freedom manifests.

The wave is free when it realizes it is part of the sea. - zen proverb

I recently got the not-so-random urge to fold wontons. Call it Lunar New Year inspiration, being around family, the dredging up of my past, or all of the above. But as a kid, I spent a lot of time on an assembly line, folding wontons, rolling egg rolls and lumpia while my dad taught cooking classes to women in our community. (L🙄L) Until recently, it was a culinary activity I hadn't cared to revisit in over 20 years.

In healing and learning to expand my capacity to accept, forgive, and hold both pain and joy, I avoided the sweeter memories embedded in the past because too often they were intertwined with sadder ones. 

But in the stillness of wintering, faced with nothing but our own reflection, the good, bad, and ugly all form a tangled tale of understanding of how our perceptions evolve over time, offering new insights and lessons. Whether through a subtle reflection or a familiar ritual, each contributes to the broader canvas of acceptance, healing, and receiving the full spectrum of this human experience.

I’m rusty but they were delicious!


Ancient Thoughts on Authenticity 

Authenticity has become a popular term in the wellness landscape, and with good reason. Amid the perfectly curated feeds and flawless images of ourselves, a collective yearning for something real and genuine is only natural.

But what does it mean to embrace and live authentically?

Authenticity is the practice of presenting one's true self, free from pretense or artificiality, while living in alignment with core values and actively pursuing a genuine and meaningful life. Despite its current status as a wellness buzzword, the concept of authenticity is far from new. The search for selfhood dates back to ancient Greek philosophers, where in his pursuit of self-awareness, Socrates asked, 'How do you yourself, relate to the actions you perform?' and posed the fundamental question, 'Are you the author of your own actions?'

Before our current understanding of authenticity, its essence can also be traced to Aristotle's concept of the 'golden mean.' Reflecting on the idea of balance and virtue, he argued that leading a virtuous life involves acting in harmony with reason and finding a balance between extremes. This early understanding aligns with the essence of authenticity, emphasizing the alignment of our actions with a higher moral purpose and one's true character.

In the 18th century, philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau proposed that social existence can have a corrupting influence on humans. He believed that even though people naturally care for themselves and others, society often makes them focus more on seeking approval and worrying about negative opinions, rather than caring for themselves and others. 

Now, before you start thinking that I have an unusual trove of philosophical knowledge tucked away in my mind (which might be partially true), it's mostly my curious Aquarian spirit that draws me down weird little rabbit holes. It compels me to explore historical roots and find (often unintentionally) connections between ancient wisdom and modern understanding. 

It's not just about having knowledge—it's about the experience of openness and curiosity that brings us closer to living authentically. 

Inspired by my recent deep dive into authenticity from antiquity to today, here’s a few questions to explore what it means to you and how it fits into your own story: 

  • What does authenticity mean to me personally?

  • How do I relate to my actions, and do they align with my true character?

  • In what ways can I find a balance between seeking approval and staying true to my values?

  • Where in my life do I feel in harmony, and how can my actions work together more smoothly?

  • In what ways has society shaped how I see authenticity, and how can I make sure to take care of myself in a real and genuine way, even when facing outside pressures?

When we consider the balance between external validation and staying true to oneself, I want to share from my morning practice today. In the book 'The Radiance Sutras,' within the Yukti teaching on Prana, meaning: Filled, full. Or the Breath of Life. We learn breathing as a rhythm and a play of opposites. Between the universal breath of life, prana, and jiva, the individual soul, notice the way the breath of life condenses into you.

Try this practice. If you can, go outside to feel the sky and earth (or wherever you are) standing straight, as you breathe out, let your hands flow upward along the front of your body to the area above your head. As you breathe in, let your hands float back down toward your pelvis. Like a conductor waving their orchestra. Exhaling upwards, give your breath to infinity. Inhaling downwards, receive the nourishing fullness of your individuality. As you exhale whisper the word: prana and notice your relationship to the mystery of universality, following the motion upwards from your heart into heaven. As you inhale and receive the breath, whisper jiva, and notice your relationship with the mystery of individuality. 

The rhythm of the breath happens twenty-two thousand times a day. When you spend just a few of these times in delight and wonder, it begins to transform the other 99.999% that you take for granted. Breathing out, quietly celebrate, “I am part of the life of the universe.” Breathing in, marvel, “I am a living soul, an individual.” 

If you find yourself nodding along, 1:1 Coaching might be for you. Also, if ...

☑️ You crave more connection with your authentic self. ☑️ Exploring self-acceptance, self-trust, and confidence is a priority for you. ☑️ Your potential and natural gifts extend beyond traditional boundaries. ☑️ You've felt a disconnect from intuition, or struggled with guilt or feeling undeserving. ☑️ Engaging in meaningful conversations to navigate life's complexities appeals to you. ☑️ Rewriting personal narratives and harnessing potential aligns with your goals.

Claim your complimentary discovery call and begin your path to wholeheartedly accepting every part of yourself with curiosity and compassion.

from @words_of_women on instagram


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