May 24, 2019

How Oprah Inspires the Design of Graduates' Lives

Graduates, hello. Yay, you did it!

Another year, another graduation. Where has all the time gone? It’s been 19 years since I’ve graduated from the University of San Francisco. At the time, I was still trying to find my style, spirit and authentic voice. I’m so impressed by today’s youth — so many of you have your sense of style and are finding what elevates your spirit.

Today’s “Style Your Spirit” is for all recent high school and college grads and the parents/guardians who are helping guide you to your personal, professional and spiritual paths.

May 22, 2019

From Wilt to Wow, What These Petals Can Teach YOU About LIFE

I’ve been in a rosy mood lately — literally. It started during Mother’s Day weekend when I headed to the local farmer’s market at Fort Mason in San Francisco to get flowers for my mom and fave auntie. To my dismay, the good flowers had been picked through and the leftovers made my heart wilt. Dramatic, I know. But true!

I was running out of time before I had to drive two hours to Sacramento to be with Mom, so I headed to the supermarket across the street and bought this lovely bouquet of roses. The colors didn’t go together, but I knew I was going to separate them and get more for my money by making two arrangements. This bunch cost about $18. Score!

Preparing to arrange grocery store flowers

May 20, 2019

The MOST Important Thing to Consider When Decorating Your Home

In one of the most taboo "Style Your Spirit" episodes thus far, "Breaking Up with Your Place," I talked about how having a relationship with your home is similar to having relations with your boo. It's easier said than done, but breaking up with your place or the stuff in it is essential to moving into a new chapter in your life.

I have a few simple tips that will inspire you to create an aligned place that rises to meet your best self.

May 17, 2019

Are You Making an Appointment with Life?

One of the most important things you can do is put yourself on your schedule. Yep, make an appointment with life.

But how do we do this when we’re busy with work, kids and life’s hustle and bustle?

May 15, 2019

Breaking Up With Your Place

OK y'all, today's style and spirit topic and tips are around an uncomfortable subject: breakups. As in, is it time to break up with your place?

If your home makes you sad, mad, confused or frustrated, it's time to adjust, or break up, with it. I know it's not easy getting up and moving out — that's not what I'm suggesting, especially in dense, big cities where the rental markets are as hard to catch as that soulmate. But if the chemistry and energy aren't working, it's time to mix things up.

May 13, 2019

Morning Hack to Help You Breathe Easy

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning? Before you open that IG, Facebook or Twitter app, take a moment to breathe in that fresh air.

I’ve shared some of my morning routines, which include making tea and lemon water, meditating and other self-care tips I do before giving myself to the world for the day. You’ll feel refreshed if you do this one, too:

May 10, 2019

Top 3 Free Mother's Day Gift Ideas

Warning: Don't read this blog or watch this video while mom, grandma or the momma-figure is around. This contains a simple lifestyle tip that will create a big shift if executed well.

Hey y'all, today's "Style Your Spirit" is designed to bring any mom joy from the inside out. To save you time, money and heartache, I did a little research and asked a few of my momma-friends what they would really like to receive this Mother's Day.

Here are the Top 3 honest answers. The best thing about these ideas — they're all free! Yep, you don't have to buy something that will end up being discarded or donated.

May 8, 2019

My Secret Tidying Trick

Let’s be real, keeping a place tidy is hard for us busy peeps. Whether you’re in school, have kids or run a business, it’s hard to keep a home in order, much less read and touch everything you own to see if it brings you joy (for the record, I love me some Marie Kondo).

One of my secret tidying tricks is — using trays. I’m actually obsessed with collecting trays, haaay! I have metal trays, woven trays (baskets), wooden trays and bowls in almost every room of my home.

May 6, 2019

Listen to Your Home and Body

On a scale from 1 to 10, how physically healthy is your body? Chances are, if your body is in poor health, your home’s health is probably unhealthy, too.

Many of us have been taught to listen to your body. But are you listening to your home?

My abode, sanctuary, womb (home’s BODY) in San Francisco

If you’re paying attention, and hear me out, you’ll learn that like your physical body, your home embodies a body, too. This is one of the interior design and life lessons I learned from one of my favorite design books, “Apartment Therapy,” by Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan. Yes, this is the same Apartment Therapy media company/website many of us design geeks adore. I was deeply impacted both physically and spiritually after reading it.

Today’s “Style Your Spirit” takes a page out of the book.

May 3, 2019

One Thing Your Kids Need to Do Before Going to Bed Every Night

Busy mamas, papas and/or guardians of the youth, listen up. Just like it's a good habit to make your bed in the morning, this one important nighttime ritual for your children will bring more zen physically, mentally and spiritually. Ready for it?

Teach your kids that everything has a final resting place before going to bed. This key insight will help you and your young ones lay your heads down better at night, and y'all will reap the rewards of a calmer abode when you awake.

May 1, 2019

How Hygge Can Bring Joy to Your Heart and Hearth

Have you heard of “hygge”? How would you pronounce it? How can the hygge way of life bring more joy and simplicity into your home and heart?

#TeaWithToan anyone? Tea setup in my home.
It’s not pronounced “higgy,” like in the song “Gettin’ Jiggy wit It.” Nope, it’s pronounced “HOO-GA.”

The etymology comes from the Norwegian word for “well-being.” And who doesn’t need more well-being in their lives?

When designing my home, I try to design around the things I’m inspired by, whether it be places I’ve traveled to, books or magazines.

There are a few cultures I am drawn to: French, Danish and Japanese.

The Danish concept of hygge cannot be translated into one single word, but evokes feeling cozy, content and an overall well-being through enjoying “the simple things in life.”

April 29, 2019

Welcoming Wabi Sabi to Your Home

Say it with me: Wabi Sabi, Wabi Sabi, Wabi Sabi.

I love saying this as much as I adore its meaning.

One of my favorite cultures from which I gain a lot of interior design and fashion inspiration is the Japanese. I vibe off of the simplicity, sophistication and natural way of design. Even Apple's legendary former CEO Steve Jobs was inspired by the culture and streamlined simplicity into the Apple devices and packaging we see today.

Wabi Sabi is the Japanese philosophy of "finding the perfect in the imperfect." No matter what kind of design, from interiors to the design of your life, this way of being is essentially, well, being in the flow and making the most of life.

So how can implementing the Wabi Sabi way welcome more beauty, simplicity and flow into your everyday life, in and out of your home? It's simpler than you think:

April 26, 2019

Live in the Moment, Use Your Best Stuff

I want you to be real with yourself when answer today’s design question:

How often do you use your best stuff? Be it your fine bone china or your favorite candle, what is holding you back?

I’ve experienced a lot of loss and grief in my life. In 2001, I lost my dad, aunt and both grandmothers in about a year’s time. What death has taught me is to live more.

Why are you waiting for a day that matters more? The truth is, every day, moment, second is special. That’s because it is the present moment. Time is fleeting, not promised. So today’s message is to use your good stuff, and often, boo.

April 24, 2019

Creating Space to Do What Brings You Joy

I believe the space around you directly affects the place inside you. If you have a cluttered home, chances are there are chaotic things swirling in your personal life, professional life — or both. Dust bunnies can make you more susceptible to allergies or breathing issues. You don’t have to be a feng shui expert to know there is stuck energy in and around those living situations.

Every day, I love to do something creative, otherwise I feel like I’m dying a little bit on the inside. I know it sounds dramatic, but I am a bit dramatic by nature :) Each place in my home serves a purpose.

I was delighted to read even the Obamas believe in creating a space conducive to bringing joy. In Michelle Obama’s book, “Becoming,” she shares intimate details about how, no matter where they live or vacation, Barack has a room or nook where he can write and concentrate. Dedicate an area to do what you enjoy, be it reading, writing or meditating. It’s important to carve out a sacred space for you to do you.

April 22, 2019

How Making Your Bed Clears Your Head

What does making your bed have to do with clearing your head? A lot, actually. No matter how packed my schedule is, there is one thing I do every single morning: I make my bed. I will not sleep in a bed that is not made. Energetically, it feels weird, stressful and is not relaxing.

In the spirit of design and keeping it real, I’m going to let you into my bedroom. I generally don’t post photos or videos of my bedroom since it’s a sacred place. Also, I wouldn’t normally show you my messy bed, but I’ll take one for the team and for inspiration. Here's a tour of my bedroom, a look at my unmade bed and some wisdom I've learned about how it can clear your head and make your day more productive on a physical, mental and spiritual level.

April 19, 2019

Creating a Place for Your Physical and Mental Space

Oprah says the one question she asks every potential employee she interviews is, “What is your spiritual practice?”

She’s often said many people are caught off guard and flummoxed by the question. But there is no reason to be scared away by the word “spiritual” or “spirituality.” She explains that what she means is, “What do you do daily to take care of yourself?” That’s because Oprah wonders how the potential employee would take care of her business if he/she isn’t taking care of their well-being? No wonder why Madame O is queen of inspiring us all to live our best lives.

Taking care of yourself starts right when you wake up.

April 17, 2019

Bringing Nature Inside Your Home and Heart

One of my all-time favorite happy places is … anywhere in nature. The energy she emits. The calm. The natural design of Mother Nature cannot ever be compared to anything man or woman has made. Period.


April 15, 2019

One Question to Ask Yourself Before Tidying

If you don’t know who Marie Kondo is, what bed have you been hiding under? The super popular organizational expert’s mission to “spark joy” through tidying set off a plethora of purgers who learned how to say goodbye to the clutter and clothes that didn’t spark joy. In fact, thrift stores are bulging at the beams with donations, and some have even stopped accepting temporarily donations.

But before you say goodbye to that item that doesn’t spark tingly, emotional excitement, there’s one question your belongings and I are begging you to ask. If you’re being true to yourself when answering, it may set off a spiritual sparkle too:


April 12, 2019

How to Make Your Flowers Last Longer

How many of you are super excited when you treat yourself to flowers — either from the florist, farmers' market or grocery store? Good on you. I've talked about how to pick and arrange flowers, but what about making your flowers last longer?

I always love me a deal and want more for my money. Who doesn't? Here are some simple tips on getting more life out of your bodacious bundle of blossoms.

April 10, 2019

How to Arrange Flowers and Rearrange Your Life

A few weeks ago, I was invited to a Sunday brunch and thought it would be a lovely offering to give flowers, nature's gift of life, to a friend. I also decided to buy a few extra bunches to give as an offering to my home and myself, lol.


While arranging these flowers, I was surprised by the life lesson that blossomed. It was as if the flowers were talking to me saying, "How is this process helping you rearrange your life, Toan? Sharing is caring — I hope this epiphany will impact your life, too.

April 8, 2019

How to Pick Flowers and Things that Matter Most in Life

Flowers are like a gift to your home, yourself and your family. They're a simple, affordable luxury that bring life and great energy to your abode. Picking florals that excite you is very similar to picking furniture and decor that rises to meet your most fabulous self. Here's how:

April 5, 2019

How Candle Care Illuminates Self-Care

How many of you own a candle? Now, how many of you take care of your candles? Maybe I should start by asking you if you even know about Candle Care 101?



Candles literally light up a room and can, in the words of Marie Kondo, “spark joy.” I love how the delightful scent of a candle can liven up your space, change the energy and bring you into the present moment. But if you don't take care of your lovely light bearer, the wick could get wickedly yucky, dangerous, cost you money and burn time. Boo.

So, how should you take care of your candles?

April 3, 2019

Clear Bad Energy with Palo Santo, the ‘Holy Stick’

Holy moly, if you’re in need of clearing out bad juju, feeling stuck energy around your home or seeking to ward off bad spirits or bad energy, you need to get yourself a piece of this sacred wood called Palo Santo. Originally from South America, it is believed to have medicinal and healing properties. Churches, shaman and fabulous people in tune with their spiritual side use it to cleanse the space around them.

April 1, 2019

The Time is Now: Big Announcement from Go Inspire Go

Go Inspire Go is growin’ and changin’ y'all. And that’s thanks to YOU for inspiring me to constantly grow + be better + do better — for myself and for others — for more than a decade.

Today I’m inviting y’all to look inward, look outward and look beyond. There is beauty all around us — outside and inside — and you deserve to see and feel it (Lawd knows the world currently needs to see and feel more beauty to heal).

We’re now expanding with a Life + Style segment called Style Your Spirit.

OMGosh, I’m so excited.

March 8, 2019

Honoring the Female Heroes in My Life on International Women's Day


Heroes come in all shapes, sizes and sexes, but in the spirit of International Women’s Day, I wanted to take a moment to say “hooray” and give a high-five to all of the real-life female heroes in my life. #WeSeeYou

I’ve spent nearly a decade scouring the world in search of everyday heroes, sharing their stories and spotlighting them via my Go Inspire Go platform. In return, I’ve been blessed with true riches in life — meeting people who are tapping into their power to give back. They inspire me to be better and do better and I hope they do the same for you.

People like Kala Shah from San Rafael, Calif., a mother of three adorable boys whose superhero power is community building. When I met her several years ago at a LinkedIn networking event at the snack table (all heroes need nourishment to do our work right?), she and I talked about her yearning to create a ME to WE movement with the youth. I told her that I had a similar yearning, to take my superhero power of connecting people through storytelling on the road and reach the youth.

Weeks later, we activated and met a café to start brainstorming ways we could groom the next generation of community heroes. She invited me to her sons’ school to tell the kids stories about everyday heroes at an assembly. The students were hungry for more. Kala infused her energy and inspired the Community Heroes lunch club and eventually created the Community Heroes nonprofit organization.

The formula was flexible, fun and gave us all the warm fuzzies:
1. Kala and other parent volunteers would show kids Go Inspire Go hero videos
2. Kids talked about how they relate to the videos and the causes (hunger, homelessness, the gap in healthcare between the have and have nots, etc.)
3. Kala would activate the heroes by connecting the kids to the community, joining forces with nonprofits to create real change

Kindness is contagious right? The kids wanted more. They begged Kala for a supersized day where they could all come together. The Day of Giving was born. Sounds fun right? Well, time flies by when you’re having fun. Fast forward to this past week — the 6th Annual Community Heroes Day of Giving.

It’s a treat to witness this magic unfold, as more than 300 kid heroes and their parent sidekicks activated their powers to give back. Within a four-hour window, the kids rolled up their sleeves to do eight service projects benefitting local nonprofits. This year’s projects included:
• Assembling care and hygiene kits for local shelters (Downtown Streets Team, Homeward Bound, Center for Domestic Peace, Butte Camp Fire families)
• Cooking and delivering meals to unsheltered community members (with Wonderbag, for Homeward Bound, St. Vincent’s)
• Making superhero capes and comfort blankets for hospitalized kids for UCSF Children’s Hospital and Children’s Hospital Oakland and families at Center for Domestic Peace
• Habitat restoration and park beautification in open space areas with Marin Parks
• Gardening and farm preparation for Slide Ranch
• Children’s book collection and distribution to expectant moms at Marin Community Clinic
• Raising money and awareness for Camp Fire families with our musical talents
• Making pet toys and beds for Marin Humane Society

The energy swirling around the room was energizing, uplifting and empowering. Words can’t describe the buzz of pure joy that came from the kids who were excited about using their power to give back. Some kids talked about how their family struggled with cancer and how they hoped that the capes would comfort the recipients’ battle.

Nearly every day, I hear people talk about how helpless they feel about the daunting news, from the political climate, environmental changes and real-life battles with another suicide or friend being diagnosed with a life-threatening disease. I am daring you to take on this challenge: Take note from these bite sized heroes and start small, think about one thing you can do to make someone’s day brighter, and bit by bit, we will create a community of change.

The most important lesson these heroes experienced and learned is that true joy comes by giving back to others. Students reflected on the supersized day as the event came to a close and talked about what kindness, empathy and compassion feels like. They realized that it only takes one small act that ripples out to meaningful changes.

To every hero in our universe, thank you for using your POWer for good. And double daps to our girls and women on this special #InternationalDayofWomen. POW!

INTERESTED IN joining forces with Community Heroes? Reach out to us at ComHeroes.org or be an event sponsor for next year’s event.

Onward,
Toan

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February 13, 2019

How to Fine-Tune Your Flow

You, me, we were all born with an internal GPS. Some call it “intuition,” while others call it your “gut.”

This GPS, or instinct, not only helps us survive — making decisions as primal as eating and sleeping — but on a higher level, it’s also here to guide us spiritually. It’s a divine gift that helps us — if we use it — navigate through tricky times and ultimately to become a better version of ourselves.

The operative part of the last sentence is, “If we use it.”

January 18, 2019

4 Tips to Living in the Present Moment

Have you ever sat down with a book and forgotten what you were just reading? It’s happened to me on several occasions. Sometimes, even after rereading the paragraph, I still wasn’t processing the message.

This absent-mindedness is creeping into many other parts of my life: driving, showering and even, on some occasions, while trying to meditate!

As I get older and time seems fly by faster, I realize I’ve often been going through the motions. But during a recent trip to Peru — one of my favorite spiritual places in the world — I distinctly felt in the present moment many of my waking hours. The experience was so striking that I wondered how I could keep this with me when I returned to America.


I’m no fool to think I can always be 100 percent in the present moment, but that’s not the point or the goal. The goal is to realize when I’m no longer in the present moment, whether during an encounter with a rude stranger, when I get peeved or feeling anxious about the future.

So how can we remember to be more present? Here are some life hacks that have helped me be more present every day:

January 1, 2019

Why I Went from New Year's Resolutions to New Year's Intentions

Happy 2019! I don’t remember the last time I made a New Year’s resolution. So much emphasis is put on them even though most fizzle away by Valentine’s Day. So instead, I’ve resolved to replace resolutions with intentions. Things seemed to flow and feel more aligned when I made this shift. I loved it so much that I started doing intention setting sessions every six months instead of just once a year.