Yea. I find myself chuckling a little bit at the title of this post - it was inspired by the short documentary on burlesque I just finished watching, A Wink & a Smile: The Art of Burlesque. It's fascinating. It's real women stripping. It's a tease. I find myself thinking about my own body image - where I am today, and how far I've come.
Growing up and into my early 20s, I was so ashamed of my body. It didn't look right to me. I'd compare myself to the other cute white chicks in my mainly Caucasian school and say, well, I don't feel like I have anything in common with them. I'd compare myself to the girls in magazines and think, well, I don't look anything like them. I'd compare myself to other Asian chicks and say, wow, I don't look like them either. Being an Asian chick - I envied the other Asian chicks with slender narrow bodies, small hips, small breasts, ...they were like asparagus. Cloths just hung from their bodies effortlessly. Sizes 0 and 2. I was a size 4 - crap! I worked for a lifestyle magazine on Fifth Avenue in New York City as a marketing intern, and all they seemed to praise were the slender waify bodies. They would often look past me to the other marketing intern to praise her beauty - also Asian, ... but sans ass and boobs. I covered myself up because I didn't feel comfortable in my own skin. DUDES - I'm Asian and I had these fatty boobs to deal with, ... these hips, curves. I couldn't and still can't shop at Banana Republic because of these lumps on my body. Guys would stare at my chest and make me want to just shrink away - disappear from their curious eyes. I always wore a longer sweater or a longer coat to cover myself up. I hunched over with my shoulders, used messenger bags to hide my ass, ... you have no idea how much I just wanted to hide from everyone.
I'm content with myself now. I don't know exactly when it happened - but it feels like one shiny gorgeous day I woke up, and it was over. I looked at myself in the mirror and said, "Wow. Hello there. I like you. I like me." The anxiety, the fear, the self consciousness, ... I told myself, what's the point? I gots what I gots. Like it and get used to it, babe. Try drinking a glass of some self confidence - it tastes better than hiding. I used to bartend in downtown Seattle, and the fellow bartender I used to work with would say, "Damn Arry! In all the years I've been working behind this bar, your ass is the biggest I've seen behind here - it's the only one I keep running into". Ha. Few years ago, I would have probably burst out crying or just taken it too personally. I shrugged and laughed it off - and I still think that was funny. Or that one day, I'm walking down the street in my camel wool pants, a denim button down, messenger bag on shoulder... and these two African American dudes start hackling me. "Man... check this out! This Asian chick got a booty like a black woman!" And yes, they shouted for me to stop and talk - I continued to stomp on forward. The funny thing about that day was that instead of wanting to die and shrink away, but I found myself laughing as I walked on. Yea - funny story, huh? Somewhere between the age of 22 and 26, I accepted myself. I've grown into liking me, my differences, my weirdness, my quirks, my ass and boobs, all of me... I'm not hiding anymore. Remember - confidence is a woman's inner goddess.
A wink and a smile to the old shy me - I'm here to stay. I'm going to leave my mark in the world - change it for the better. I've got a vision for where I'm headed. In the words of Tony Hsieh, "inspire and be inspired". I'm sitting here wondering, ... thinking ... am I brave enough to do a full on 6 week burlesque course plus put on a show in front of a real audience? One of my current idols in burlesque that teaches Burlesque 101 is the Shanghai Pearl in Seattle - how cool would it be to do what she does, and she's Asian!? ...to be so comfortable in your own skin, to play and tease an audience on stage... maybe you'll see the performer in me come out one of these days... *wink!
I love meeting people. I really love meeting women. I fall for some of them - especially the ones that are pretty, ambitious, smart, independent, strong-minded, opinionated, sincere, open, ... awesome women. I've been proactively working to expand my network of awesome women, and very consciously since 2008. Some of you may have heard me speak of this circle of women I call the Pencil Skirts.
My favorite tool for meeting other really cool women? Twitter. Yes. Twitter. I am @ArryinSeattle. I tweet about personal stuff going on in my life, inspirational quotes I find, the world of love, women, and startups. I love spicy and shiny people with hearts of gold... people that see the big picture - that care and are aware - that are able to put others before themselves BECAUSE they are already secure with themselves. I find that my online persona is similar to who I am - it's definitely magnified a bit and very much exaggerated - and that works for me right now. I like myself - and I'm open to debate, hearing feedback/ideas, learning more about you. I really don't have much to hide - ask, and I have no problem telling you about it.
Here's my list of favorite Twitter women I follow (and most of them I met via Twitter):
Friends call me the walking fortune cookie. They call me the relationship guru. ... I say, just call me obsessed and passionate about this realm of life we call love. It can also mean that the guy I date has got some strong guts, a ginormous heart, and a back pocket full of tricks to make me swoon. I'm the analytical type - and so as I've fumbled my way through my early adulthood, I've taken a bunch of notes and given advice to friends, and most definitely spent countless hours researching and interviewing people on this topic, hence I'd say I'm an expert in this area called love.
Precedent can be set in the world of relationships by a single act, or the lack of a single act. How a relationship unfolds sets the tone for the life of the relationship, and this can happen in so many ways. These are acts of kindness, forgiveness, communication, caring, ... that will help ultimately allow a woman to respect/trust/honor her man, and a man to treasure/respect/trust his woman. Here are some examples:
1. The First Kiss: did he touch you? Was it gentle? Were the eyes closed? Did you like the smell of his breath? Was your heart going 100 million beats a minute with gentle tickles caressing your back?
2. The First Date: Did he call you to set it up? Did he call you right after the date? Was the conversation interesting? Did he open the door for you? Did you say "thank you"? Did he ask you questions about you? Was he listening and smiling?
3. Meeting the Friends: Had the friends heard about you before? Were they excited to meet you? Did he reinforce your value by putting his arms around you/holding your hand? Did the friends try and get to know you?
4. First Set of His/Her Keys: How was the hand-off? Was she hesitant? She's showing you she trusts you - did you accept it?
5. First Fight + Makeup: Did anyone apologize? Was there name calling? Did he seem committed to working it out? Did you care to work it out? How did you reconcile? Was the communication open and honest?
6. First Night Over: Did he ask you to stay over or did he ask if he could stay over? Did you kiss good night before you fell asleep? Did you kiss good morning when you awoke? How did you sleep - in each other's arms or on separate sides?
7. First Trip Together: How did you coordinate the planning? Did you communicate/set expectations beforehand? Does he like a schedule, does she like to play it by ear more? Did he ask to take you away (only accept when you are truly his)
8. First Talk of Money: Was it easy to talk about how much you/he makes? Were you able to talk about your values around money, spending and saving? Do you know his credit score? Do you or does he care about who makes more than whom?
9. First Fight with Family/Friends Where You/He Turns to the Other for Support: Did he listen to you without judgment against your family? Was it easy to share with that person? Did you feel supported and understood?
10. First Stressful Life Situation Together: (this would be the loss of a job, moving, loss of a pet, ...) Did you feel supported and understood? Do you feel like you can go to him at any time to feel supported/understood? Did he show compassion for you? Were you comfortable asking him for advice?
Those are just 10 larger examples of where precedent is set in a relationship setting the tone for how the relationship will unfold. A lot of this should happen in the first three months of a new relationship - and you'll want to put in as many different scenarios as possible together to get the information you want to decide whether or not this relationship has legs to make it past 6 months... let alone... 6 years. The first three months is the honeymoon period ... and as you go into the second three months for the negotiation period, how a pair interacts, the amount of positive experiences you have versus not, how fairly and respectfully you treat each other ---> these will be the telltale signs of the likelihood that a relationship will be forever. Women: note - allow your man to be your hero and take the lead. He should be the first to say "I love you", he should make the first move. You can encourage him - but don't force it. If a man wants you, nothing can keep him away. If he doesn't want you, nothing can make him stay.
This is a post from my business partner (who is and will always be one of my favorite people) on our joint blog, All Things Wishful that I thought was fantastic and thought I'd repost on my personal blog. Her points speak of our startup journey together and some of the things we've learned along the way that can apply to not only our working relationship as partners, but can also apply to the world of love. I'm currently reading a couple of Gottman's books and find them to be absolutely fascinating, and in general, on the nose. Enjoy the post, everyone - and thanks, Mina!
Arry has written several posts on the parallels between the romantic courting process and finding start-up partners. I want to talk about what happens after the courtship process – after the long walks on the beach, big fancy wedding and the honeymoon to Europe, when you unpack your respective baggage (literal and figurative) and realize that this other person is not only imperfect (just like you are) but is going to largely affect your happiness and the course of your life. As the high rate of divorce shows, living with another person long term is not an easy one. Similarly, many founders of businesses cite partnership troubles as the foremost reason for the closures or failures of their businesses.Last weekend, my husband and I attended a relationship workshop in preparation for our baby’s arrival in a month. This two-day weekend workshop was based on the research of John Gottman (formerly a professor at the University of Washington) who has spent decades studying relationships and what makes some work (which he calls “master” relationships) and others fail (the “disasters”). I had first learned of Gottman’s work in Malcolm Gladwell’s book Blink where he talks about how Gottman and his colleagues can look at a couple interacting for three minutes and predict with 90 percent accuracy whether they are going to get divorced. Fascinating! I was eager for this workshop not only at a personal level for its potential to help make my relationship with my husband even better but also at an intellectual level for understanding the dynamics of human interaction. Both of these expectations were met, and as a bonus, I was even able to apply some of the ideas from the workshop to working with business partners.Here are some of my conclusions regarding start-up partners that the workshop helped me articulate.
1. Be friends with your partners. There’s the old saying, “Don’t go into business with a friend.” I disagree. While there are certainly some negative elements to starting a business with a friend, knowing your partners, their preferences, their tendencies and generally what is going on in their lives outside of your business can help you avoid the “fundamental attribution error.” For those of you who don’t remember this from college psych classes, the fundamental attribution error is basically our tendency to attribute behaviors to personality rather than the situation. Think about it. When we believe that a poor behavior is the result of some personality deficiency, the person exhibiting this behavior becomes a lot more unsympathetic and less tolerable than if we believe that this behavior is the result of some temporary external situation (such as sleep deprivation due to taking care of a sick family member). Being unsympathetic and intolerant leads to poor conflict resolution and less effective problem-solving (see next section). Gottman also talks about the “fondness and admiration system” of mutual liking and respect and of building an “emotional bank account.” The idea is that the more you like your partner and the more “currency” you have in your emotional bank account through previous positive, validating interactions, the more able your relationship is to withstand negative interactions that are certain to come up. So, if you are not already friends with your partner, get working on it!
2. Accept that you will be influenced to be influential. Your start-up is your baby. Your future, your ego, and your finances are tied up in it. So it makes sense that you have strong ideas about what your product should look like. But this is true for your partner as well – her future, ego, finances are just as involved in your start-up as yours is. This can lead to head-butting and to a massive waste of time when the issue is probably not all that important anyway (see my earlier post on the folly of trying to create the perfect product). At worst, it can lead to animosity and stagnation of progress. At the Gottman workshop, I learned that research shows the more influence you accept from your partner, the more likely you will have influence on your partner. So, if you feel really strong about your idea, try accepting your partner’s and see how she responds to you. As a further incentive to avoiding major conflict (besides the sheer unpleasantness of it), research also shows that when you are in a conflict or argument, your body reacts as if you are in physical danger. This state is commonly known as the “flight or fight” response or “Diffuse Physiological Arousal,” in which your heart beats faster and blood pressure rises. In this state, you have trouble processing information, listening, and coming up with creative solutions. Doesn’t your business deserve your best problem-solving skills?
3. Avoid the Lake Wobegon Effect. This didn’t come up during the Gottman workshop, but I started thinking about various concepts from my college psychology classes, and this one seemed very appropriate for the start-up world where most partnership troubles essentially stem from issues of perceived fairness and equity (at least based on my discussions with and research on entrepreneurs). Lake Wobegon is a fictional place where everyone in town is above average in this town. Assuming you know what an average is, you know that this statement cannot be logically true. However, this is exactly how we are. Countless social psychology studies have shown that we, when comparing ourselves to others, believe that we are superior (in looks, intelligence, work input, you name it), even when we are not objectively superior as judged by third parties. This “illusory superiority” plagues us all and can be especially dangerous in the start-up setting. You can easily imagine how one partner might overvalue her own work and contributions and become disgruntled and unhappy. Sure, it’s possible that you are actually doing all the work in your company, but before you get into a death spiral of self-pity and resentment for your partner, have a conversation with your partner. Your partner might agree that you have done all of the work, but more likely, she will feel exactly the same about her relative contribution compared to yours and you will leave the conversation having a better appreciation of each other’s role in the company.Related to issues of fairness and equity (and while I am throwing out psych concepts), beware of the “recency effect,” or the tendency to remember what happened more recently as opposed to things that have happened further in the past, as you evaluate the relative contributions of yourself and your partners. As we hear all the time, starting a company is not a sprint but a marathon. Don’t judge your partner based on your recollection of how the last few miles have gone; each mile builds upon the previous and is just as important, even if we are in such a state of pain from running the current mile that we can’t remember the miles we’ve run.
Here's an interesting quote (you know I love quotes):
There are three types of friends: those like food, without which you can't live; those like medicine, which you need occasionally; and those like an illness, which you never want.
Wow. Huh? Here are a couple examples/stories:
Friends through thick and thin: The world knows that I am working on a startup project with a couple of awesome people, and that going into business with someone is like marriage. People say that one should not go into business with friends, but my business partners and I were talking this morning, if you are not friends with your business partner, that's a dead relationship/project too. The world also knows that I love my business partner, Mina, with all of my heart and she means the world to me. I respect her - her intelligence, her integrity, her beauty, her wisdom, her passion, her wittiness, her drive, her compassion, ... this list can go on and on forever. We've had some really difficult discussions along our journey together from friendship to business partners to friends who are business partners... that's for sure. I've hurt her feelings, she's hurt mine, and we definitely don't always agree. I value her as a friend through thick and thin. Loyalty.
Friends you had hopes for, but have let go of: I tend to adopt new girl friends here and there - this happened more especially when I was younger. Not as easily as I've gotten older... But in my younger days, I'd find a girl who was cute, spunky, ... just really awesome to hang out with. I'd take them in, love them and pretend they were like a sister I never had. There was this really really cute half Japanese girl I hung out with 5-8 years ago - she had similar tastes as me, or well, so I thought. And while imitation is said to be a form of flattery, after awhile, it gets just so confusing and frustrating. I think, who are you?, do you not have an opinion?, you don't have to always agree with me?, ... who are you? Then you find her comparing herself to you all the time... then you find her immitating you left and right... kind of like an impersonator... then you find she's hooking up with your coworkers and colleagues and flirting with your boyfriend. Yea. That's enough chickadee - move along. Move along.
Friends you divorce: The above was probably a "divorcing" situation - but I look at it as letting go. A few years ago I started hanging out with a fellow Korean chick with a funny spelled name. I met some interesting other women through her. She told some serious hilarious stories!!! She was up for anything always - going out, bars, hanging out, movies, dinners... we traveled pretty well together too. I'm not sure what happened, but after hanging out with her a bit, ... I found that she was one of those types that just GOSSIPPED alllllll the time, backstabbing - talking crap about all of our mutual friends - it was appalling. I made the mistake of taking her chit chat as truth at first and took it to heart when she said some really awful stuff about some of our mutual friends, it really bothered me. I didn't like that these girls were mistreating her or she felt mistreated by them. I took sides (without knowing the whole story...) AND... After awhile, I wondered, what was she saying about me behind my back? (cuz those other girls started being weird towards me). I introduced her to some of my close friends, and she even said things to them like, "if I told you to, would you stop hanging out with Arry?" ---> You've got to be kidding me, right? Yea, quite mature, huh? She got kicked to the curb in my head after that - I pretty much distanced myself from that whole crew because my image of everything had been so badly tainted. She was like an awful tumor that just grew and grew. I still have to deal with the fact she's alive, hangs out with my friends I introduced her to, ... what a sad petty little woman. No... a woman has class - this one didn't.
But the saying goes, you can really learn a lot about a person by seeing who they are friends with - who they hold close to their heart. A good stable person has at least one very close friend they talk and share with - a person who you can expose all of your innards and scabs and birthmarks, too - a friend who will stand by you no matter what. If you don't have that, ... I'd implore you to invest the time to build these kinds of relationships (they take time and TLC). Women especially, as we grow older, having strong women friends to turn to when life throws its challenges and rocks at you, we need this. I have my go-to list of women I call on, one-by-one down the list when in need. They all know they can call on me any time no matter what. When crisis hits, as a woman, if you cannot turn to your man right away (you should eventually), turn to another woman for support.
If the eyes are the windows to the soul, they should be properly framed. Eyebrow styles have had some variations over the years, but they keep returning to a more natural look. Trendy eyebrow styles come and go, then look dated, but a natural-looking brow with medium thickness and medium arch will always look pleasing. Keeping the eyebrow up in correct position with a slight playful arch maintains a youthful appearance. Small modifications should be made to balance facial features and shape of face. Did you know that so much could be said about eyebrows?
I've had eyebrows on my mind a lot lately - I don't know why, but it's lead me to put together a post about them. Found this funny article about makeup and the face - thought I'd share some of the highlights with you. A person's face, their facial expressions, their grooming habits, the attention to detail and care a person puts into their face can tell you a lot about that person. Let's dissect something as simple as the eyebrows. Most women (and plenty) of men spent a bunch of time sculpting the eyebrow getting it tweezed, waxed, threaded - filling it with brushes to make them look fuller, shaping them. Why?
Look at all the messages that eyebrows can convey:
Remember my last post titled, life of the unemployed - what's life like outside of the corporate job? There have been some changes that I've had to go through in the past month. And remember how insanely busy I was back then - being free-employed (aka unemployed)? ... Well... let's just say, it's worse. I'm sitting here in the purest sense, exhausted.
This post is by request: A few people have written me in the past month also asking me to do a blog post on how in the world do I manage it all (or not): my family, the administration involved with keeping my home/life afloat (cleaning, bills, ...), my [ecommerce] startup, my furniture patent-pending design project, relationships, taking care of my dog, leaving time for myself, attending social obligations, ... and now, working the freelance-job as a contractor at the large software company otherwise known as Microsoft. Yes, I'm back here, again... building a marketing dashboard for them. It's kind of like going back "home" after being away so long... with all of the pros and cons associated with that.
A day in the life of Arry (this has literally been my week - it's my day tomorrow too):