a very happy anniversary

To  my relationship with this amazing city, Bangkok 😉  A momentous year which has forever changed my attitude, outlook and aspirations on life and what’s ahead.

I’d like to begin with finally, a massive update for the month of July.  The past month has been very busy. To say the least.

Momentum, Multi-tasking & Mindfulness, the 3 M’s that has been the most prevalent theme for this month. As I look back on the life I was living prior to my journey abroad, I remember always being “busy” multi-tasking between two jobs and school but mindfulness and momentum was nonexistent as I had no clue where any of my efforts was leading me.

It’s been an an amazing journey from the moment I decided to start a social enterprise. So where am I at now? I have spent the last month continuing to intern and spending every evening (often losing track of time until the crack of dawn) working on various tasks and trying to figure out the next steps. This, has been the most exciting yet terrifying aspect of this journey because every step of the way is brand new. Unlike a conventional job, no one tells me what to do so I must constantly figure out what needs to be done next, making sure each effort takes me a step forward, fully utilizing all my resources, asking endless questions and keeping myself motivated (mostly by rewarding myself with yummies) and constantly reminding myself why I’m doing this.

Other than the desire to live a life that is fulfilling in my own terms; there is my mother. I mean, can you imagine how that woman reacted when I told her I’ve decided not to come home and instead made the decision to sell pillows for peace? Bless her.

My 62 year old, immigrant mother who journeyed to America thirty years ago, only to have her daughter back track and want to work with rural artisans. Due to my limited Vietnamese vocabulary I can not explain the concepts of social enterprise to her, so instead I tell her that I just want to sell pillows for peace and I hope she can be supportive. Besides, her reaction is just priceless.

As a reminder of what I am doing again. I am starting a social enterprise that offers fair trade pillows to promote peace building initiatives in developing communities. The company is called Oimei Co. & our tagline is “pillows for peace”

What we’ve accomplished this month: (I say “WE” because I’ve managed to recruit a couple of people who are just as passionate and excited as I am to at least try….to make a difference) Yea I said it…I’ve got myself a team. woooo hoooo !

So this month, we (Josh & I) endured a rather exhausting but fun nonetheless; 14 hour, 3rd class train ride from Bangkok to Chiang Mai to visit the tribal weaving villages. A primary aspect of our company is to shed light on the beautiful (sustainable) craft of hand weaving and the artisans. We strive to learn how our help contributes to their self sustainability and their community. So, we spent a few days traveling to different villages within the Northern region of Thailand and got to see firsthand, a peak into the lives of the tribal villagers. We learned the natural dying process of the fibers (which is an incredible and quite therapeutic process), treatment of the fibers and then the weaving. We were welcomed into their homes and community. With just a few days spent with them, it reassured us how important it is to keep this craft alive by helping them gain exposure to new markets. To us westerners, their primitive lifestyle may appear worthy of pity but in my eyes they have such beautiful lives. The weavers each have a hand loom right in their homes so they work from home, doing what they love, being close to their spouse and children and if they get hungry they walk right outside to pick themselves fresh produce and fish in their fish pond.

After getting some product in hand (finally some tangibility!!); it felt a little more real 🙂 We spent two separate days this month doing photo shoots at local hotels in Bangkok. Was a great time spent with good vibes, creativity, fun and stunning results!

Meanwhile all of this was going on, I’ve been trying to teach myself how to build a website using a pre-made template, which has been quite daunting because I am no tech wiz. Today, we have registered the domain and our website (with most content unavailable until we launch) at www.oimeico.com. For now, there are a few photos from our photo shoots and a gallery of some of our products. Enjoy!

The next big step for us is to launch our campaign on a crowd funding platform. For what? to get some money! As much as we have enjoyed the journey thus far, we’ve been working with minimal funds and in order to proceed we are hoping to raise awareness and seed funds to keep it moving! We’re in the process of getting approval to post our campaign on Startsomegood.com. As soon as this happens we can open our web shop and start getting our goodies out there!

Here is some footage from our “work” this past month.

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Back to the 3 M’s. Momentum, Multi-tasking & mindfulness. I am constantly reminding myself of this everyday to keep myself motivated, grounded and productive. Personally it’s been a lot easier to say than to practice. Living in such a fast paced society I find it so easy to fall into the multitasking trap.  Suffocating in all the demands throughout the course of a normal day. Juggling phone calls, texting, emailing, facebook, online distractions, family demands and personal needs; it can get extremely overwhelming at times. Not only is it exhausting but I found it difficult to identify exactly what is the purpose of it all? What I’ve definitely learned this year is to have conscious awareness of what I’m doing now, not what happened yesterday or the day before and not worrying about tomorrow or next week (this is the most difficult for me), just being fully aware in the present moment. By adapting to this mindset I get things done quicker and more efficiently, my creativity has increased, things get done (eventually 😛) and I don’t stress nearly as much as I used to. I’ve become a lot better at eliminating certain interactions, activities and thoughts that are not positive and instead gearing my energy towards a direction I’d like to see myself in. And as a result of this, the momentum comes in. Good thoughts, good vibes, good actions = overall good environment. Perhaps I’ve spent a little too much time alone this  year but these have been the reoccurring thoughts in this noggin’ of mine. 😛

By no means do I know what is in store for me next, especially with the social venture. No matter which direction it goes; I am still very enthusiastic of where it’s gone so far, how much I’ve learned, the people I’ve met and the gracious support I’ve received. The biggest lesson I’ve learned thus far is never to let fear hold you back. I’ve been petrified from the moment I decided to go abroad, to travel, to opening myself up to new people, to developing this idea and mostly putting it all out there; but it just feels right. I would’ve never learned as much as I have this year had I allowed fear to get the best of me. So, with that being said I will leave you with this quote & dare you to face your fears.

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’
You must do the thing you think you cannot do. “

~ Eleanor Roosevelt


5 thoughts on “a very happy anniversary

  1. This is lovely, hun! Keep the faith and keep pushing for what you believe in and what is really important you. With enough passion and determination, all naysayers and even your mother would be won over eventually (if she is not already).
    From your other idealist friend (:

  2. You inspire me and I am very proud of you cousin! Keep me posted on your pillow biz and I’ll help you back at home. If my work ever do die down a bit, Jess and I are hoping to visit you and you can share your amazing journey with us! Take care and keep it up.

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