June 21, 2015

Homage to My Father and Yours

Good morning Dad. As I wake up this Father’s Day morning, I resist the urge to get on social media to see what my friends and people I follow post in celebration – homages, snapshots of photos old and new and little heart-felt messages to their Dads and father figures alike.

It’s been 15 years since you passed away. It still hurts. The empty hole you left when you disappeared.

My family - I'm in the #12 jersey

I never told you how much I yearned for your acceptance, for you to say, “I am proud of you, I see you and that you are enough the way you are.”

Sure, more than a decade has passed since you fought a long, courageous battle with stomach cancer and other illnesses that slowed down your body. But I find strength in the fact that you never lost your spirit. I hope I never do too, no matter what challenges lie ahead.

Your mind and essence remained strong. So strong I can still feel them more than a decade and a half later as I look up into the sky, during my conversations with loved ones and walks in nature. I’m not going to lie, it is weird here without you. It still hurts deep inside.


We didn’t have the best of relationships, but I know that you did your best to give us opportunities and freedoms. You left your worldly riches and fancy life in Vietnam to bring us to America in hopes of achieving the American dream.

We landed in Sacramento, 10 of us crammed into a small trailer, a few bucks in your pocket – but the riches lie in our hearts and eyes – wide and full of hope. Through your actions, you taught us that we have nothing if we don’t have hope.

Along the way, you were locked in semi-golden handcuffs. You weren’t around as much. Didn’t spend enough time with me. I used to wonder, were you proud of me? That’s all I wanted to hear. Are you proud of me? Did you know that I quit my first TV job so we could spend time with each other before your spirit left your body? I hoped we could make memories that would fill the gaps from all the times you were not home. But as I learned, no time was and is enough.

I’ve grown up a lot since then. I’ve found my passion work through Go Inspire Go. Met many magical people. Miracles unfolded. I found my happy place and joyful place within. The key to joy in life isn’t in material wealth. It was through service and helping others. You taught me that.

As you told us before your passing, “It’s our responsibility to share the music inside of us before we die.” You’ll be proud that that music is being sung loudly every day through the work I do, people I connect with and every experience I’m able to feel because of all your sacrifices.

Today, as I look at the tiny squares, harrowing hashtags and micro-messages online, I know and feel you are proud of me for just the way I am. I am enough. For me and for you and for others we touch.

Onward and upward,
Toan

Follow us: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.

Join our movement & Go Inspire Go

June 13, 2015

This Equation Will Point the Way to Your Future Success

Photo by cocotran.com

“You seem so passionate about what you’re doing with your life. How do you find your passion?” That is one of the biggest questions I’ve been asked during my career as a journalist, founder of Go Inspire Go and university instructor.

I have a woo-woo and practical answer. I’m part spiritual – I believe in trusting in God (some call Universe) but also taking action. Start by taking baby steps that lead to your big goal. Here’s what I came up with in a simple equation:

Trust + Action = TRACTION

In college, I would’ve never believed the trajectory in which my life unfolded. I definitely didn’t believe in the magic of positive thinking/believing. This happened through opportunities and people who have showed up to guide me.

When I was a student at the University of San Francisco, I wanted to be a TV reporter. I remember my old school journalism professor Michael Robertson asking my News Media class, “How many of you want to be TV reporters?”

Statistics show about two percent make it. I was an unlikely two percent. The odds seemed stacked against me. I didn’t have a big network of journalists, I wasn’t born into a family with any journalists and financially, we were poor.

I remember wondering if I would ever achieve my dreams – getting paid to be a TV reporter and host a show on PBS. Unclear about how I would hit my target, my gut told me to TRUST. I am spiritual and knew that I could trust God would use my life for a bigger purpose than serving myself. I knew that I would regret it if I didn’t try to tell peoples’ stories as a news reporter. I’d rather try and figure out that it wasn’t for me than not have the courage to take those baby steps. I said prayers, practiced gratitude and wrote down my goals.

I also applied ACTION. I interned five times at various production companies and local TV stations. I was in it to win it. I recall logging tapes for a whole semester during one of my internships, wondering how this would ever help me with my job as a TV reporter. It did – it helped me identify good soundbites while interviewing people on the street – a critical time-saving skill to have for breaking news situations.

Still not convinced? Here’s one thing you can do NOW to help you reframe your state of mind:

Instead of focusing on how a future job, beefy paycheck or status will make you happy, focus on what you can control. Keep up the hard work, network and be around people you want to be like (I joined the Asian American Journalists Association). Your experiences and hard work will add up to the sum of what you’re supposed to do. Here’s to you being part of that two percent too!

Follow us: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.

Join our movement & Go Inspire Go