March 20, 2018

A Love Letter to Me — and Spring ❀

Dear Toan,

Remember to be bold, share beauty and have fun this year! The words that describe the essence I envisage this new season are BOLD, BEAUTY and FUN.

This winter, as I waited patiently for buds to bloom and spring to arrive, I had a quiet epiphany: Everything leading up to the cherry blossoms and flowers started long before buds emerged from branches and stems. The soil, water and sun all played a part in determining how big the blossoms will billow and how plentiful the yield of flowers and fruit will be. Just like how the intentions we set are the soil, the conversations and baby steps of action we take are the water and sunlight.


Admittedly, I am not the most patient of peeps. I’ve already checked my Instagram and email several times as I type this paragraph. I often feel like the branches of a fledgling tree clambering toward the sun or that next story or project to tackle. I’ve realized, as my spiritual friend Terrie Crowley once told me, when things seem slow, to relax. Enjoy it. Get rest. It’s God giving you time to restore and regain energy because things will become busy again as you continue to do God’s work.

I wrestle with the word “busy.” I hate it because it seems like a cover-up for not being attentive to things such as chores, going to the doctor and doing bills. Resting is not a part of my DNA. I’ve always felt restless when I sit idly too long. That’s why I am trying my hardest to continue a meditation practice. I’m currently doing Oprah and Deepak’s 21-Day Meditation Experience, aptly titled, “Finding The Lightness In Your Life — A Personal Journey.”

Lord, do I need light more than ever. While my interactions with people and Instagram posts are a great reminder of the beauty in life, I have also been sparring with darker issues. And boy, when it comes to the topic of grief, I feel like I’ve been sucker-punched over and over again.

Just when I thought I became an expert at grieving (I lost four family members in about a year’s time early in my career), I was knocked to the ground, spiritually, last summer when my brother-in-law committed suicide. As I often do when tragedy strikes, I wrote to right the insanity in my head.

Last week, I awoke to another terrible tragedy. My creative-spirit-dreamer-sister-friend Fiona Pattison pinged me on Facebook to tell me our friend Jonathan Walker, a well-known street busker in London and gentle spirit, passed away suddenly. The cause is still unknown. My heart sank. I jumped on a call with Fiona — she’s an intuitive — to talk and catch up. I told her I was OK and started talking about projects I’ve been working on.

She stopped me in my tracks and said, “No, how are you?” She sensed I had a deep grief-stricken sadness. She suggested I do some personal writing to heal. She was dead on. While I never have had thoughts of hurting myself, I did recognize I am in a dark place in my soul.

Besides writing, I am doing other things that bring me joy: CrossFit, handstand classes, coffee and tea dates and lots of design. Most days, I am rearranging something in my home to change the energy and change up what my eyes get bored with aesthetically. Oh, I can’t forget my almost daily practices: meditation, yoga and prayer.

Since last summer, I have prayed a lot and wrote in my journal I wanted a creative shift. I sought new ways to leverage audio and video in the nontraditional news style of my nonprofit Go Inspire Go, where, for a decade, I’ve told stories of everyday heroes to inspire the hero in you to help others.

As I’ve had time to reflect, I realized in my quest to help people find the hero in themselves, I, in turn, found the hero in me. I realized more of my true power — my voice and ability to lift, gift and shift people with my words and energy. Yes, that is my power. I’m OK with saying that because at first, I was like, “Who am I to say this? Who do I think I am?” Why do we shy away from our gifts, our magic, our fabulousness?

Now that spring has sprung, I’m taking stock of the seeds of intention I planted on New Year’s Day. I even blogged about it, with the intention to inspire others to take time to plant the seeds of intention and dream big.

So, here’s how I am living out this year’s mantra — BOLD, BEAUTY and FUN.

Being BOLD

In my journal, I wrote, “I want me and others to live and be more of our truth.” I caught myself saying, “I want an easier, free-flowing way to capture audio and video from conversations that I’ve been having with my beloved friends and family.” Be careful what you wish for! I launched my new TruthDare podcast with an All-Star lineup, including a star from Broadway, CrossFit legends and the first Mexican chef to earn a Michelin star.

I realized while I loved putting the Go Inspire Go “newsy”-style superhero videos together, it wasn’t my true authentic voice. Instead, I realized the format I love is more of a talk show-style, and that practice allowed me to rehearse my new TruthDare podcast.

Sharing Beauty in Design

Everybody who knows me knows I love me some design. Whether it’s observing nature’s magic with spring blooms or fall foliage, interior design, fashion or talking to friends about designing a life authentic to them, I’m always game for design of all types.

From strangers on Insta to my soul brothers and sisters, I’ve been urged to share more of my design tips. Within the past year, I’ve been entrusted with the task of totally redesigning the homes of some friends/clients. On a whim, I’ve shared design tips ranging from candle care to choosing that perfect paint color or rug that pulls the room together. I’ve taken on the challenge and will start delivering fun videos that answer your design dilemma questions.

The first question comes from my CrossFit coach and friend, Diane Fu — and fellow pal with a penchant for one too many candles — who asked me how I care for my candles. BTW, you can never have too many candles.
FUN Being Alive and Going LIVE

I have also been obsessed with live platforms — Instagram, Facebook — wow, technology is insane!

I’m not going to lie. Going live on FB is scary because there are no do-overs. Strangely, it’s also a place I feel most alive though. A few weeks ago, I met up with my soul brother Lonnell Williams for tea and we both ended the convo by saying we wished we could have recorded that conversation (actually, we say that every time we chat). Then we thought, wait, we can record our convos through Facebook! So for no other reason than having fun, we created our own LIVE talk show-style Facebook Live chats, appropriately named “YOLO with ToLo: Loving Life with Toan & Lonnell.

Every Wednesday, we vow to get on Facebook and chat about topics that interest us, catch up on what we are doing in life and the little life lessons that challenge us to be our better selves.

Like the branches on a tree, it seems like my projects are going several different directions. However, they’re all rooted in the idea of designing your own life. I decided to use my newsletter to deliver design inspiration to your inbox. I’m calling it, “Design a Life that is True to YOU.”

You’ll get:

1. A short video on a design tip of the week. Again, the first one is about Candle Care 101.

2. I’ll introduce you to someone who has designed a life authentic to them. It’ll be a mash-up of someone I’ve met through Go Inspire Go, TruthDare or a link from an outside source. If you haven’t listened to the podcast yet, here’s Episode 1 — an introduction, intention and how it could help you in your journey to find your personal, professional or spiritual truth.

3. And for fun, I’ll include a link to the “YOLO with ToLo” chat. Here are the first two Facebook live videos:

Very first FB live w/ Lonnell Williams:
Facebook Live convo 2 with my soul brother Lonnell:
What are you doing to be bold and have fun this season? I want to know. Tweet/Insta/FB me at @toanlamtv.

So this season, I’m not looking toward the next. Cue one of my fave Carole King songs: “Winter, spring, summer or fall, all you have to do is call and I’ll be there.” (Side note: If you haven’t seen “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical,” you must! I loved it so much I even interviewed Salisha Thomas, who plays a Shirelle sister in the Broadway musical.)

In the meantime, I’ll be indulging in the simple things: warm laundry from the dryer, snapping a sunrise or sunset, walking in nature, a magical interaction with a stranger. My goal is to enjoy every morsel of every season — even on chilly days, enjoying a wet walk in the rain — instead of longing for spring blooms and summer sun.

Onward,
Toan

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