Coping with severe RCS (reverse culture shock)

I’ve been back home in California for exactly a month and haven’t written a blog post for over two months –my only excuse is the overbearing reverse culture shock I’ve been experiencing. I won’t even call it an excuse because I don’t believe in those —  rather, it’s a result of my choices. But I’ll tell ya, it really does exist and it’s no joke!

After living and traveling abroad for sixteen months (4 times longer than I initially planned); I decided to go home. Reasons being my mothers’ relentless guilt trips about me being away, one class left to complete at uni, to get rid of all the stuff I no longer need nor want and to see some familiar faces again.

I was already experiencing the reverse culture shock a few weeks before heading back– just through observation of the environment which I once called “home.” A reoccurring message I kept being told from my loved ones  back home was that I must be “prepared for reality” — which was a bit discouraging but I was determined to help them understand my new outlook and aspiration to continue seeking truth and meaning in life.

This determination alone was probably the one thing I was excited most about. I couldn’t wait to share with my friends & family how I’ve self-evolved; hoping they’d be excited and inspired to open their minds to the world beyond themselves.

Okay Okay, so my expectations were a bit high.

I came home and the exact opposite happened — With new eyes, a refreshed mind, a light heart and an abundance of gratitude — I was now deemed a looney.

If you’ve traveled or lived away from home long term; you probably understand exactly where I’m coming from. Before I went abroad I was living my life in accordance to those around me, striving to please my family and “fit in” to the whole of society as I understood it.

Being far away from home and out of my comfort zone for 16 months — I felt a pure sense of liberation where I was able to bare my soul and fully be myself. Where I can wander to seek local foods and flavors to feed my mind, my heart and my soul. Where I was able to gain a new perspective and pursue a fresh vision for my life and my passion. Where I was able to find endless sources of inspiration and motivation.Where I was able to thrive at my own speed while expanding my boundaries. Where I would meet amazing new people; some of whom are now lifetime friends that share similar goals and dreams. Where I was able to play and experiment to my heart’s desire. Where I was able to meet and become acquainted with the most important person in my life – myself. All of which contributed to my personal growth but most of all taught me the true meaning of self love –

the kind of love and gratitude which can only be shaped by developing one’s consciousness (the intangible).

Then, I come home and it’s as if time stood still. Everything appears the same and even topics of conversations haven’t changed much (with the exception of Kim Kardashian’s 72 day marriage (Like, OMG)). I was having difficulty adjusting to the culture which I grew up in! I haven’t had a TV my entire time abroad and decided to check out what’s on TV these days…..I’ll tell you what, Pain killers! lot’s of them!! Do you have a headache coming on? Tranquilizers! If you don’t take them, you’re gonna be nervous! Oh gosh, why am I suddenly so nervous? Anti-aging and anti-cellulite creams, oh shit I’m getting older, I should be using them, NOW! Food, more food, the best food, McFood! Insurances! You have to insure everyTHING, from your toilet paper to your home & life, OR ELSE you’re screwed, because what if…?! Inflation, economic crises, currency ups and downs! We must save, invest, multiply, we have to have more, to have…! — Off goes the TV.

Thank goodness I’m too cheap to pay for cable now…… I can sense this paranoia all around me: don’t touch it! don’t trust! watch out! and I can see why….I observe around and I see people running around stressed, unaware, anxious, unkind, impatient and unloving. We run around racing for delusional “achievements,” fancy titles, bigger and better things, striving to maintain and/or alter our external appearance, racing to appear better, powerful, respected?….  and then, we die.

This is the response I want to tell my friends and family when they ask me why I’m not readjusting to my “old” life or why I’ve changed so much. The truth is — I don’t want to “readjust” and regress because that defeats the purpose of progressing. I believe that life is about moving forward, it’s about living truthfully, doing things and living according to your values. It’s about cultivating relationships. It’s about sharing the good and the bad; doing what we can to help those around us realize their purpose. It’s about recognizing that we are all ONE, everyone — seeking a sense of belonging and empowerment while facing the same struggles.

It’s about REALIZING that life is a beautiful gift and we should seek not only to experience it but to LIVE IT.

People create their own questions because they are afraid to look straight. All you have to do is look straight and see the road, and when you see it, don’t sit looking at it – walk.
Ayn Rand

Despite this tiny obstacle I’m facing with reverse culture shock — I have a clearer idea of how I want to live my life, even if it means being a looney.  – until the next destination, I’ll be enjoying good ol’ California!  ;]

Do you have a similar experience with culture shock or reverse culture shock? Please share!

A good day

a must see!

While I was having dinner with a friend at a street stall last night; we were approached by a middle aged man who was selling miscellaneous accessories and typically I’d refuse but I asked what it was for and he said it’s because his home is flooded. So, I took a look at these little charms and asked if he has a rabbit because that is my Chinese astrology sign. He spoke English very well which was quite unexpected and told me “ah, you are born in the year of a rabbit — you are a very lucky girl and you will live a very happy life.” We continued to chat for a bit and before he left he said to me, ”

“…live everyday as if it was the first day of your life AND the very last day.””

We’ve all heard this before but I think for most of us it’s a challenge to fully embrace it. Coincidentally, as soon as I got home I decided to check out what’s new on TED and the video above was the first video I watched: A TED talk by Louie Schwartzberg on “Nature. Beauty. Gratitude.” Which had the same exact quote within the talk and it was such a nice coincidence — so, I had to share it 😛

Thanksgiving was a couple days ago but it didn’t really feel like it since I am far far away from home again this year. However — I did ask myself a few times what I’m thankful for and I just could not pin point one thing in particular.

After seeing this beautiful TED talk — I’d say, I am just so thankful to be alive.

So grateful for the chance to witness beauty in it’s purest form — all the new places, flavors, people, cultures, languages, colors, sounds, laughter & love.

So, incredibly thankful for life. and all the simple things that make it so beautiful. Including you!

Judge your successes by which you are enjoying peace, health and love

…because these are the intangible things which will remain within your consciousness.

A few photos from a very “successful” year. enjoy.

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Post StartSomeGood UPDATE!

Yikes! It’s been nearly a month since our fund raising campaign has ended — time is going by much too quickly! Finally a long overdue update on our results and what we’ve been up to.

Results of our campaign!

At the end of our 45 day campaign on StartSomeGood.com; we raised a total of $5,660 from 95 contributors!! I can’t say enough how humbled I am by the entire experience. As I’ve said before, I had no idea what to expect when launching this campaign and I am pleased to say that the outcome was a great success not only because we were able to raise some seed funds but because we we able to get some people thinking — a bit differently. At least this is my hope. All in all, the campaign exceeded my expectations and the biggest lesson I learned is simply to keep sharing and giving (genuinely, without any expectations) — you’ll be surprised how much you will receive in return.

Soon, I will be participating in an interview with StartSomeGood.com about the details of our campaign, stay tuned!

In the mean time, I’ve put together a little slideshow with all the photos I could find of the people who donated — (without names). I wanted to make this to show the diversity among our contributors. Our campaign reached various regions throughout the world — we had contributions from Asia, Europe, North America and Australia. It’s been a pleasure to receive support from such a diverse range of people; many of whom I met during very different stages of my life (school, work, social gatherings and travels). I even had a donation from a friend I used to copy homework from throughout elementary school, which I found so ironic! haha (you know who you are 😛).  Also from friends’ parents and families, people I haven’t seen or spoken to in years, a sweet gal whose blog I used to stalk for travel inspiration has somehow found my blog and even made a donation —

times like these throughout the campaign made it so worthwhile.

I made an effort to not mass market my campaign and push it upon anyone; rather, I had many nice conversations with people not just about my campaign but life in general and that was by far the most rewarding part of this experience. It’s unfortunate that many of us have hundreds or even thousands of friends on our various social media networks but just a handful are people we really “know.” For me, this campaign gave me a reason to reach out to many people on a more human level; allowing me to share something I’m passionate about and getting to “know” some of my friends and family as well! 🙂 Thank you all for the love & support.

Many have asked if they can still donate or support since we did not reach our total goal of $8,100 — YES!!

we are still raising funds and your help will allow us not only to get our business going but for us to focus our time and efforts solely to our start-up. Click the photo for more details on how you can help! We still have rewards to give away as well!


I have yet to make any purchases towards our business as I am very cautious about spending the funds!

For the most part, the tasks which I think I can learn — I do it. It’s a lot more time consuming and often frustrating but I know it’s important for me to learn and understand all aspects of starting a business. In the past four weeks since our campaign has ended, the next step was to get our shop up and running. So, I’ve been working on our e-commerce site, learning about eco-packaging, designing our own packaging and promotional materials (tags, business cards), teaching myself (via online tutorials) illustrator and photo shop so that I can learn how to design our own promo material, website, look book and line sheet for buyers, working with my suppliers on our orders, planning another trip to visit the artisan villages AND to top it off…….my tourist Visa is going to expire in December which means I’ve been “planning” my trip home to the states.

Needless to say — I’ve had quite a bit of work to do and very thankful for all your support which is allowing me to do all of this.

Here is a glimpse into some of the things I’ve been up to (the prettier side of things) 😉

Learning about sustainable packaging.


Pretending that I know how to design….because I’d rather not pay for a designer; it’s the Chinese in me. Read more about the status and ideas of our packaging here.


Learning how to create a line sheet using illustrator. I now have even MORE respect and appreciation for those who has helped us in creating our fliers and minor photo edits until now. However, I do love the fact that I can now say I (kinda) know how to use illustrator 😛

What is this for? I hope to have retailers carrying our goodies; so I’ve thrown this together for buyers. We’re already getting inquiries and I can’t wait to send this baby out 😉


As promised — I try to squeeze in a little time each day to write our thank you letters and figuring out the best way to distribute our rewards. We’re very excited to send our gifts out!


Looking through pretty fabric swatches for some Oimei Co. accessories to be made. All naturally dyed — Aren’t the colors beautiful!


Attended a handicraft fair here in Bangkok. The fair had various booths representing different artisans and their crafts throughout Thailand. Always a great place for some inspiration 🙂 Below is a pillow case made by traditional Batik dying method.


In case you have not heard — much of Thailand is currently facing terrible flooding and is expected to hit Bangkok in the next few days. I’ve spent some time with a few friends raising funds for this….and since this is making things a bit slower for us to have our requests processed; I’m headed to Hanoi then on a train to Ha Giang, Vietnam where I’ve discovered there is a weaving co-operative that employs women who have been victims of human trafficking. I’ve always wanted to work with people of my own heritage and am very excited to share what I learn during this trip!

To wrap up this post — I’d like to say again that as things progress — it keeps getting scarier than ever and I’m really beginning to see that entrepreneurship is like swimming upstream. Not only am I faced with the obstacles of starting a small business for the first time with limited funds and knowledge. But I am constantly bombarded with questions about what’s to come next (and sometimes I just want to shout “I DON’T KNOW but I’M TRYING!!”) — especially from my mother who thinks her baby daughter has gone completely bonkers. All this, combined with the various life’s decisions we’re all faced with is……..freakishly overwhelming!

Most people don’t “believe” until they see money  — to put it blatantly. And, this is what I find frustrating but it’s also what motivates me. I know that the concept of building a socially conscience business is still quite new but this is what drives me. I’ve never had this much determination in anything else — I’m often up until the crack of dawn everyday and will continue to work or think about work until late night because I think about the bigger picture. I firmly believe that true success and fulfillment can not be achieved by pursuing money alone.

What keeps me going is reminding myself to take things one at a time. And that no decision is really permanent because at any moment I am able to change or alter my direction and my thinking.

Most importantly, the people who inspired this from the very beginning — the people living in the rural poor. They remind me how fortunate I am to have access to so many resources and the choice to do something I am passionate about even if it means a few failures. They remind me how lucky I am to not just “want” to help others but that I have the capability to do so…even if it means starting small. And of course, the wonderful people who have supported my little initiative! You all give me a HUGE reason to keep making progress! This is what helps me re-focus when the road ahead gets blurry.

Before I get back to work, here is a quote from the late Steve Jobs that resonates with me very much at this moment. Enjoy! and…Happy Monday 🙂

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart. … Stay hungry. Stay foolish.” -Steve Jobs

One week left: What’s next for Oimei Co.?

With just one week left to reach our fund raising goal on StartSomeGood.com; many people have been asking me what’s next for Oimei Co.?

Currently, we’ve raised just over 50% towards our goal with the support of 66 backers!!

A total of $4,210 so far! Our goal is $8,100 to fully implement the project.

  1. So what happens if I don’t reach my goal?
    I can still get things started! And will continue to search/apply for grants and other fund raising methods. Any suggestions? 😛
  2. What are we going to do with the money raised so far?
    The amount raised thus far will cover start up and pre-revenue costs listed on our campaign page. Here.

    I have been very fortunate with FREE help ranging from advice, logo design, media footage such as my campaign pitch, promo material for my campaign (fliers etc.) and even free food & beer from my dear friends who think I’ve gone mad. Though none of them expect anything in return, I’d love to reimburse them with a bit of cash or a nice home cooked meal!

    Aside from all the wonderful help; I’ve been doing everything else alone and it’s about time I get some expert help to pick up the speed! With the funds raised so far, I’ll be hiring someone for web development to get the site fully functioning properly. I will be visiting the artisan villages again (this time with some money) in the North of Thailand to gather more stories, footage and of course; pillows! There, I will also figure out the logistics and all that fun stuff which includes the cost of getting the goodies to the west (distribution). I will get some packaging and promotional material printed to get us started. Ultimately, many steps closer to getting our shop up!Not to worry, I will be keeping you updated each step of the way 😉

    All of this talk is getting me very excited to finally dive into what’s been months in planning and spreading the word. It will definitely be a lot of work BUTI’d like to announce that I’ve got myself a partner!I am very excited to have some extra hands and a friend alongside the journey. Soon, I will write a post introducing her and our plans for Oimei Co!

    For now; visit us on Facebook for a brief introduction of US.

  3. I’ve also been planning…yes, planning. As scatter brained as I am. I’ve been planning for the future; 6 mos. 1 year, 5 years?!? Many ideas in mind but the ultimate goal is getting the business to a point where it is self-sustainable so that we can support more artisans and their craft. Our hope is to gradually add more artisan partners and their beautiful goods to our shop. We will be updating frequently as we learn and grow. I hope this gives you a better idea of what’s next for Oimei Co!

Now, we have ONE WEEK left to reach our goal and

WE NEED YOUR HELP!!!

Please visit our Campaign page. Learn about our initiative. Donate and help us spread the word!

For other ways you can help: (click below)

A Chinese proverb to sum up thoughts for this post,

The journey is the reward.

So true. I will speak specifically about the journey of  this project which has been quite hazy from the very beginning. When I decided to start this project, I was totally lost in my mind not knowing what I should do next with my life; if I should go home, continue traveling or stay in Thailand. I was not able to work here due to my student visa so I was jobless and nearly out of money. A big part of me has been missing home, family and friends but somehow going home and searching for a job didn’t sit well with me.

When this idea came to mind, I have never felt so passionately and excited about anything else before. You hear this all the time; people telling you to do what you love and you’ll do well. It always seems like a load of crap right? Well, I’ve found something that has given me a purpose and something I enjoy. I know the chances of failing are high but I’ll keep trying.

This journey has and still is very confusing, scary and overwhelming at times. But it’s been nothing but beautiful. I’ve given up a lot of the “things” that used to keep me comfortable, I’ve opened myself up and embraced vulnerability and I try to share everything that I can…me. In return I’ve received so much support in this endeavor and I can not express how thankful I am for those of you who believe in me and this initiative.

Though the destination is unclear; the journey has definitely been a HUGE reward. Thanks to you 🙂

Thank you for all the LOVE.