@Bali Spirit Fest, March 2017, Bali, Indonesia

Looking back on 2017, it’s been a roller coaster energy-wise! I started off teaching yoga and residing at Pangkor Laut, a 5 star resort on a private island in Malaysia, and came back to KL full of so much love and abundance. Entered February floating in this state, but then, I fell back into my patterns and what I wanted to work on this year – to learn to say “No” and give time to myself. I found Feb/March tested that. I love organizing and putting together new events, but then I found myself overdoing it – in maybe 5-6 weeks, I had one every day except for maybe 7 days… too much!

I run something every month called Unleashing Your Genius, a grassroots and intimate effort to bring poets, spoken word artists, and musicians to an intimate and beautiful space, to show up for themselves and for others. To step up and perform to a safe and loving audience. In rereading a message I sent to the musicians of the March event, I realized I had so many learnings from the crazy times. Just posting here what I shared:
Heyyy guys! Connecting you guys and I wanted to thank you for sharing your talents with us at the last Unleashing Your Genius on March 16th. You all were just SO incredible. You have no idea! Or maybe you do haha. Whether you’re a closet musician/performer or well experienced in music. We all start somewhere. I feel so proud of each of you! And so should you 

Every month, it’s soooo beautiful and unbelievable to me to see how much talent you all have. Every event. This past month, I’ve seen the nerves, I’ve seen beautiful art expressed, I’ve seen people pour their hearts out, I’ve seen tears, I’ve seen vulnerability, I’ve seen support to step up for the first time, I’ve seen harmonizing. We all feel it with you. Thank you. We thrive more in shared humanity.

So I wanted to connect you all and say thank you, yes. But I guess now that it’s so much later, I want to share how much it meant to me! Plus I also don’t think many of you guys know much about me, so storytime about me before/since our Unleash on March 16th! And I can write essays sometimes, sorry! Feel free to skip to the next message to just read about the next UYG on April 19th… Else feel free to read on :)

So March 14 – 2 days before our UYG – I realized was exactly 10 years since 2 of my friends died in a car accident. Months later, I came to a personal realization that I wasn’t afraid of death (though this could still be the naive part of me talking). But rather, my biggest fear was not having enough time – time to do all the things I wanted and could do. I’ve always been one to pack so much things in and over-achieve. Or rather, over-do. Funny, I just realized writing this that we classify people who do a lot as “over-achievers”, a term I haven’t really heard since high school. But sometimes, you under-achieve by over-doing. Maybe we should aim to under-commit initially, to over-deliver. Quality not quantity. Sounds like general client work guideline haha, but maybe it is just that when doing things for others, at least for me given my patterns :)

Fast forward 10 years, and I’m in the middle of major overdo-ing. Squeezing as much as I could out of time, taking time from myself, my sleep, my health, my peace of mind. Isn’t it ionic? Or maybe not lol. I do love organizing community-based events, new events, new experiences, new ways to help find inspire from others, and from within. But, from Feb 12th-March 17th, I had probably 7 days… without an event. Including an event every single day in March til the 18th. Some were tiny, some were bigger. Those 5 weeks included 4 Unleash events: the Feb & March UYG events at Gaslight; the first UYG: Film Screening edition (will be quarterly); and the first Unleashheld outside of the Gaslight venue – at a women’s edition at Love Your Body KL, an 11 days of Women’s Wellness event at a new mall opening I co-organized.

I’m not tooting horns, 100% on the contrary. Rather I’m sharing about the month I overdid it and embodied the person I didn’t want to be. I had to skip one of my best friends’ birthday day trip. When I thought I was just being direct to people I was working with, I actually had pissed them off. I didn’t make time for any of the friends visiting. I didn’t sleep, eat, or nourish myself well. I was a terrible friend and terrible executer at my freelance work!

I mean I love stuff I organize and people I get to meet! But, there’s a point you cross the line to the point it, and people, are not honored. I’m lucky that Unleash events seem to thrive off people’s interest, the Gaslight audience, people you guys bring, who you attract, word of mouth, etc. So, thank youuuu all for that, for making such an incredible night and spreading your inspiration to us all :) 

That day was also day 16 of 18 straight days organizing and running events, of which 11 were 10-14 hour days. I was exhausted. After Unleash, the next 2 days were really tough b/c the pressure felt full on. Pressure from saying yes to them months before. And due to so many things in and out of my control, I learned what it’s like to fail. To manage crisis. You survive. You own it. You pick yourself up, you learn from it, you try to not repeat it. At least if you fail in a similar way, it’ll be better. You bounce. You become solution oriented. You learn, you grow, you become a better human.

Hit a few hiccups and ended up spending April for myself, a blessing in disguise :) I’ll go on a preplanned trip to Toyko, spend time with family in Hong Kong, save some money, try to get some me time. Like when I was in Bali, being here has given me time to: a) remember who I am and who I want to be, b) realize that we are always evolving, that we drive our evolution, c) refresh myself on why I am in KL, 5 years after first moving to KL from my home/life in Chicago, d) appreciate the music, poetry, startup, yoga, etc communities that have come with open arms. For all these things and more, I am so grateful.

I can recall times in my life when I’m careless, lose a lot of things, when everything becomes a mess. It reflects my life in that moment. This was no exception. When I lost my headphones in the madness among 4 plane rides to get to Bali, my friend said: “Maybe it’s another sign, to listen to something that you’re not. Like your body or your life or something.”

This was true. I was constantly listening to music to tune out, to try to get lost in as I transitioned from place A to B, to soundtrack my work, to fill my home… that I forgot to notice what’s around me. I would to tune. I forgot to tune in.

The past 2 weeks have been amazing for just that – tuning back into my mind, my body, myself. The festival, music, nature, dance, friends, new friends, ocean, beach, waves, yoga, Bali… and all that mixed together. Nature has so much natural music. Cities have their music. Even the sound of dishes being washed yesterday was musical. I am learning to tune in again to the music of my surroundings. To be present.

Life is easier, better, fuller when you can live presently.

So ALL this to say, thank you. For who you were for me, for who you are for others.


Oh, and also, to link to my previous story. On March 14th, the 10 years after, 2 coincidences happened. I planned a month prior that my Mar 14 evening yoga class was going to be themed – getting over your fears with inversions. We all shared our biggest fears, and half of them (heights, failing, etc) we tackled by all practicing handstands! Talk about facing your fears. Earlier that day during my class with refugee girls, we also did handstands – they actually first asked me first out of the blue! It led me to theme my English/discussion/life skills class afterwards with 20 students to talk about our biggest fears. And you wouldn’t imagine their stories and delivery. One of them even said that his biggest fear, was actually, trying. He was told his whole childhood that he’d never achieve anything b/c he never went to school. But at this limited yet loving refguee school, at age 16, he had started school for the first time. And you wouldn’t imagine a couple years later now, not only his English skills, but also his self awareness and attitude towards others/life.

All this to say, as I’ve realized, we can always pause, find ourselves again, regain balance, and begin again :) That our fears are there to protect us, to keep us safe. They’re not bad, but they also exist for us to also overcome them. To live so much more, to be so much more of who we know we can be. For ourselves. For the world.

Brevity is not something I know, thanks for hanging in here and reading all this! No offense taken if you didn’t haha. I will just leave you with these 2 things, first from Ian at our Unleash. His message really touched my soul:

“This is a song I wrote about taking pride in who I want to be,
and who I want to become.
Never let anyone tell you what you cannot do.
Never let anyone tell you who you cannot be.
And if you’re ever confused,
don’t let people tell you what you are.
Because it’s up to you to decide.”
~ Ian Tai

We are in control of our decisions. And we can always try again.
Inhale: “This is who I want to be.”
Exhale: “I got this.”

And finally, from street art I saw going by one night in Bali:

“Never Withhold Your Genius.”

With so much love, your admirer,
Cynthia <3