Beaded ring, Watercolours, and Illustration in May

 

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Bookmarks and cards to encourage friends during coronavirus days

 

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An inspired illustration featuring characters from Ruth Krauss’ book Open House for Butterflies

Inspired illustration from listening to the song Highlands (Song of Ascent) by Hillsong United one morning meditation before work, and I then proceeded to take the illustrated characters from a children’s book I love called Open House for Butterflies by Ruth Krauss to help depict the scene I imagine the song is singing about: to sing when the mountain’s in our way, and to sing when we’re on top of the mountain 🙂

Recycled unused accessories: deconstructed all the materials, organized them in colors, and then began to make things out of them. Here’s a ring, my favorite kind of accessory.

 

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Love letters are the best kind of letters, don’t you agree? 🙂

Part of a love letter I made for my younger sister waiting it out in Cambridge.

 

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Don’t know what’s going on here, looks like some kind of pulmonary situation bearing fruit (a la the tree that reaps) – air to my lungs?

5 Habits I Picked Up in 2019

2019 has been a year: My first brand, ATEM, turned 1 year old, our cosmetics R&D startup is going into our 3rd year, and I turned 27.

In this time and despite my work taking most of my attention on my days (excluding Sabbath, Sundays!), I developed some new habits that have supported my betterment.

1. I started exercising regularly: 3 to 5 times a week!

Result: Exponentially increased physical health, increased mental fortitude (ie. focus), and emotional wellbeing

2. I started flossing daily, after setting up my daily habit tracker in July, 2019: I now floss every day without needing a reminder or a checklist to tell me I have to!

Result: Increased self-control: A developed appreciation for discipline and keeping to some “orders” of the day

3. I started regularly writing down things I am grateful for, or allocating a protected time to visually go down the the things I am grateful for.

Result: Increased mental and emotional wellbeing – rewiring the “space” for automatic negative thoughts to come in to a space for positive, gratitude filled thoughts.

4. I started making my bed more regularly: This is a habit to solidify in 2020 as I still do not keep to the habit.

Result: Increased self-control: A developed appreciation for discipline and keeping to some “orders” of the day

5. I started being more careful and controlled about the things I utter about myself or my life: Saying less “I can’t,” or “I’m not,” and more “I hope,” “I can,” and “I believe.” I hope to continue this habit into this year, and applying this principle as I speak of and to others as well.

Result: Increased mental and emotional wellbeing – rewiring the “space” for automatic negative thoughts to come in to a space for positive, gratitude filled thoughts. As Carl Lentz one said, “change your mind, change your life.”

A habit I would like to change completely in 2020 is not letting my moods dictate my actions as much, particularly in the physical with my waking and sleeping times. I had experienced a season of mild depression, and because of this, it was difficult to get out of bed at times I wanted to on a daily basis over a span of 2 some months. I felt like I was chained to my bed, and sometime woke up feeling like 2 tons of cement were lying atop me and I’d go to sleep again because it felt like too much of a struggle to try to fight it.  During this time, what I lost in time/productivity, I made up for, but this was not great for my overall health. This year, for my wellbeing, I would like to commit to regularly sleeping a number of hours per day, and waking up consistently at an earlier hour of the day. I write these down, as writing my intentions down will incentivize me to action.

 

 

 

 

Poem_love letters to a younger self

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love letters to a younger self //
if i could travel time,
i’d tell my younger self how much she was loved.
how perfect she is
how everything will be okay
how much she’ll laugh and smile
how she’ll fall in love
over and over again
how she’ll be surrounded by people that make her grin uncontrollably
how everything will look beautiful to her again
how she’ll come to love her body
how she’ll come to love touch
how she’ll come to love her mind
how she’ll come to love others
how she will become love.

2019: Mental Health Awareness Month

Let me tell you a bit of my story.
I had some scary things happen to me in my life: I was diagnosed with a neurological disorder in the 7th grade, was sexually assaulted by a family relative in the 10th grade, had my parents divorce after a traumatic narrative that spanned years, and was raped  my first year out of college.

This in tandem with my naturally emotions driven self brought forth a very unbalanced, and very unhappy Susan for a lot of my adolescence and into my early twenties. I could be happy and “on,” yes, but I was also severely unhappy.


I turned to a quick phase of substance abuse in the last year of high school into my first year of college, to control the control I did not feel I had.

There were certain years, when I did not want to live.
There were seasons I’d stand at the platform of a subway station in NYC and despite having just come out of a splendid date with a friend from NYU or with someone I was dating, I’d dissolve inside, trying to hold back the anxiety attack that was coming, only to barely control it or succumb to it and when the train finally pulled in, I’d enter the train heaving for air, so so relieved I was a bit of a pussycat and scared of jumping. There were also more times that I’d just cry in the train ride home, head down.
In 2013-2014, I was suicidal.
I remember thinking simply out of sheer despair:
I’m so scared of dying.
I’m so scared of dying.
But I feel so much pain.
I was also thinking
I don’t want to just live.
I want to LIVE.
God met me in this dark, dark place back then, in the latter half of 2014.
I then with all the courage I could muster, began to open up to some friends and to my family.

In 2015 I made a promise to myself, that I would not live this way, and 2015 was the beginning of my recovery and fight against the depressive thoughts and feelings I felt and heard in my head every single day.
In 2019, I am living and working to fulfill that promise to myself to live life at its fullest.
And now I am happy as a clam 🙂 (is that the right American phrase?)
For the past 4 years I’ve worked really hard to get a semblance of the joy others feel, and I’ve gotten there, even farther than I’d ever hoped.
I made a lot of mistakes in the process, but no one is perfect, and I was really trying.
(for example, falling in love with someone in early 2016, and not being able to handle the intimacy, or 2) not having been able to appreciate pleasure of touch earlier – I’m still working on that now, but feel like I’m on the tail end of it! I enjoy my romances now, thank goodness :)When I was younger, I’d feel tons of fear when a man touched me and would freeze inside and panic).
The healing is slow, and there are a lot more stories I want to share [and some justice I want to see in the world, if God wills it and it’s wise], but I will share them when I am ready to share those stories. All in their own time. One day, I’m going to be strong enough to call my perpetrators by name. For now, I’m going to work on continually healing and helping others lift themselves up too.
I don’t share this story with you because I’m over it, or because I’m stronger than you. Revisiting things like this make me quite sad. But I feel convicted enough and strong enough at this moment to share in order to encourage and stand with anyone reading this. It’s not easy, and for those who’ve had illnesses for a long time, I understand the hardened nature of the heart that comes with.
I believe that the world would be a better place if we all began to share and stand with each other more and hide, covet, and cover a little less. The world will not crumble down and your conservative family or community might gasp and make you feel shame, but who cares. That shame they make you feel is a lie.
It is your life one “wild, and precious life”, as Mary Oliver says.
On an overarching note, for anyone dealing with any present or past trauma, I want to tell you earnestly that there are ways out and you really won’t have to go back, that there are people all around you here to stand with you if you only extend a hand.
I’m with you.
So here’s to mental health awareness month.

Examining Myself Today a la Style de David Evans and Bill Burnett’s Designing Your Life

Health:
Physically, I’m in pretty good shape. I’ve been trying to work out almost every other day, and it really helps me wash out the negativity and the mind wormholes I get into pretty often as someone with a head that has trouble not thinking. While being in shape is important, the need to exercise for me I feel comes mostly from the endorphins and relaxation (rewards!) I feel from getting an engaging workout in and having it demand all my physical and mental attention. It quiets my thoughts, and I really love that.
Food wise, I haven’t been eating healthily and I need to change that. I’m pretty tired from work most of the time, so I need to make sure I’m not eating foods that support lethargy or a weakening of the immune system.
I’m also struggling a lot with memory. Short term and some long term memories are really joggy and it’s getting concerning. At first I thought it was because I’m all over the place, and I’m just someone who needs to implement check lists, plan and such in very concrete, written ways. But I’m beginning to think it’s not just that. I keep forgetting things at an alarming frequency. Something to address and commit to going to a doctor for before it gets worse.
Physically also, I’ve been exploiting my youth by running on a bad foot for a while. The fractures keep recurring, the pain never goes away, and yet I’m still running. A conversation with a physical therapist last weekend really woke me up because she warned me that while my body is giving me all it’s got now, it won’t ever do that as I age, and that this could quadruple into a really serious issue if I’m not proactive and don’t make the decision to stop running as I’ve avoided so now. It hurts my young self: my passion and love for the rush of BREEZE I feel when running, experiencing nature at that kind of speed, and my pride as a 26 year old woman, but I need to work on being okay with stopping.
Work:
Work is pretty intense. I’m realizing more and more in hindsight that there were and are parts that are more intense and hard for me, as I’m still struggling a bit with resisting the unbalance that comes with being entrepreneurial. I kept fighting it. and I’m starting to come to terms with the fact that I’m supposed to be sitting alongside the minion that is crazy startup life and embracing it. Not all of it, but some of it. And that my understanding and personal definition of what it means to be “balanced” is a little rigid and maybe open to revision. It’s crazy hilarious and exasperating just how much I’m resisting the startup life. It’s perhaps very foolish of me. A developing thought, and not a belief yet, but sharing nonetheless. Business this early stage is also not going well at any point in time, and as a small company it’s hard to take the gains and losses of the company at arm’s length. Everything hits me.
I need to mentally be there, in that everything I am doing is understood [by me] that it was the best I could do at every given moment, with the best interests in mind and that I need to be better at bouncing back, being more openminded, and adapting even more so when the variables and circumstance change around me.
In terms of network and and professional life, things are going really great. I’m coming into my own as a professional and as an individual who is really curious, has a lot of things to say and craves deep connection. I’m continuously building upon and defining this multi-faceted, yet-to-be-determined creature that is my public self. I’ve been freelance modeling, started lecturing as a guest lecturer at NYU, consulted a few consumer brands, and advocating for mental health & my main work, ATEM. Life is very good on that front, and it’s amazing being part of a new tribe that’s full of many beautiful, bright, and well-meaning people, and thick in with the entrepreneurial, founder, business-women & men community.
Love:
The love is great. Not without some bumps and minefields thrown onto the plane I live in, but man is it great:
My love for God is amazing right now and rising.
My family, as colorful as our dynamics are, is trending up in the most beautiful, and wholesome ways I’ve never seen!
My romantic experiences, while colorful [in part to my overthinking myself], have been wonderful in their own ways, and I’m growing and learning more about myself: exploring the good sides, examining the needing improvement sides, and am interfacing and growing to know, see and share in the promise of love with someone that I believe and am grateful I have such a natural connection to.
Friendships are great. I’ve really seen this arena defining itself in the past 2 years and friendships are sifting and solidifying in their places as I feel they should be. There is the constant influx of new and old characters of course, and navigating that and my changing feelings and our changing positions is sometimes verging on the disorienting (hello people pleaser Susan, but short on time and life Susan), but this sphere’s developed into something that’s very much a solid ecosystem of peoples that are very loving and awesome and just solid, solid, lovable, trustworthy friends.
Play:
Play for me from experience (and I only have twenty-some years of this thing, experience) is doing or seeing something very creative or emotionally provocative.
That usually means for me seeing art, going to see an opera, being in some very high-nature habitat, maybe going horse riding? (it’s on my bucket list, I’ve never done it!!).
Reading is for certain for pleasure, but most recently I’ve been reading a lot to learn with the intention of helping myself develop as a professional and in more public facing contexts, and I’ve not honestly been allowing myself to pick up much reading for sheer “valueless” (whatever that means) pleasure . Learning though is a direct pleasure channel for me, so this is a little murky. I love to read to learn. But I suppose the topics I would be reading on would slightly change if I was only reading this past season for sheer pleasure. I would be less focused [by my nature] in my choice of subject matter, and would be reading anything from surfing, to horseriding, to vinoculture, to wines in Paso Robles, to the history of an art I have my eyes newly fixed on, to reading on photography, to reading on sculpture making, to reading all the books I have in my personal reading to do list, and rereading Jane Austen on replay over, and over, and over again.
As Bill Burnett and Dave Evans define it in Designing Your Life, play eliminates any and all consideration of “work” that is colored even with a drop of something that is not pure joy:
“Play is all about joy. If you observe children at play, you will see the type of play we are talking about. Play is any activity that brings you joy when you do it. It can certainly include organized activity or competition or productive endeavors, but when those things are done, “for the joy of it” they are play. When an activity is done to win, to advance, to achieve– even if it’s fun to do so– it’s not play. It may be a wonderful thing, but it’s still not play. The question here is what brings you joy purely in the doing.”
While work has required me to pull down on the play, I’ve managed to stay really committed to a really concentrated number of “play” activities I consider my top most priorities and most consistent sources for sheer Susan joy: reading, nature, and art 🙂
In an ideal world, I’d like to have even more leisure to explore more and see if other play activities would actually bring me more pleasure, but unfortunately exploration does require new commitment and more time allocated to things that are uncertain and at best to be determined in their joy-value adds in my life.  At least for now 🙂 And that’s okay.

Little Practices That Improve My Mental Health

  1. Take the time to tie my shoelaces before slipping my feet into my shoes, instead of slipping them or cramming them in using my thumbs to open up the foot hole.
  2. Manually uninstall Instagram for a couple hours to a full day. I do this regularly to encourage a keeping of healthy, controlled Instagram use. Because I love Instagram! And it’s very apparent to me that I can become addicted to it. It’s like other medias, and I worry that there are others don’t see it as such. Imagine if you were in your 20s watching 4 hours + TV a day and also not sleeping from it. This is a value based opinion, so I’m not suggesting someone is wrong by doing that (and maybe you’re the kind of person who can do everything in 24h and still feel really good with little sleep, etc!). I’m just saying I personally don’t want to watch 4 hours of TV a day as a working woman who has limited leisure time, when I can be using that time to do something like being present with people I love or reading or taking my sleep or what have you.
  3. Like homework, and regardless of how awesome I’m feeling, look up at the sky once after work to remind myself in good AND bad circumstances just how vast, strange, and beautiful the world is and just how small, I, my circumstances, my colleagues and my businesses and all the things like that are in contrast. It gives me added perspective when I don’t need it ( who will complain about that), and that way I have perspective when I do. Perspective that’s built into me like a layer of mental armor.
  4. Go to the gym even when I feel like THE LAST THING I WANT TO DO IS GO TO THE GYM and time is just ticking away and it’s approaching 11pm (the closing time for my gym, I go to Equinox) and even when there’s less than an hour left for me to take my bum off my bed because I literally had rather-ed killing time on my bed scrolling on my phone for an hour instead of going. And somehow, I finally just go. Even it’s for clocking in’s sake and I really can’t handle lifting a weight (because I’m lazy or moody or whatever). I go.
  5. Verbally or mentally ask myself how I am feeling every day to check in on myself. Really check in on my self. Meta, I know. But we’re always pressured to be productive, go zoom zoom zoom, and think while we move etc etc,– I mean how can that encourage positive, smart, reflective thinking in many people? It doesn’t for me. I also started asking this of people I care about instead of saying “how was your day?” when I inquire after them. I find I can get to the source of the things I ultimately care about by asking “how are you,” or “how are you doing,” or “how are you feeling”, instead of asking how was your day? Because with how was your day, someone can just list everything that happened without mentioning once that they’re not doing okay emotionally.
  6. Pray. I pray diligently for all the great things in my life, and am also honest in prayer with the things that are not going in my life, internally or externally. By facing those truths every day and during it as frequently and regularly as I can, I stay away from the threat of encouraging and welcoming untruths or narratives that will contaminate the thoughts of my head and the understandings of my heart.
  7. Reflect, often, often, often. Particularly in regards to my interpersonal relationships. While I do know I have a disposition for thinking in excess, I do think _THINKING_ done in moderation is healthy; I revisit [a little too often perhaps, I don’t know] whether I have any rotten branches (people or things) currently chilling out in my life– this I do very often, like weekly homework. Particular emphasis on people evaluation for me. I am fortunately aware of myself, and I know I immediately engage at a deep emotional level with literally anyone who enters my life and as a conversation with me by even 1 degree. I kind of just open-door myself once I let a new acquaintance in (which can be good, and also bad). I don’t do that “let’s leave the door slightly ajar and stay emotionally aloof internally and then open it 90 degrees” thing. So, when someone negative enters my life, it does make an impact somewhere in my life and my overall wellbeing, even if it doesn’t reflect immediately in the mental compartment.
  8. I eat with intention, which visually manifests itself with me eating more slowly than I naturally would prefer.
  9. I also practice sharing with individuals I trust or have identified have a certain level of authority in wisdom over me on x, y, or z. Sharing is a way to share in my pain and joy with others, but it also helps me 1. measure my life and my thoughts more accurately because there are people that are not experiencing whatever is going on in my head or my heart, which means they can give objective feedback on what I am feeling or experiencing, and also act as mirrors when/if I ever reach the point when I can not perceive things clearly and I am skewing experiences, messages, everything.. and it 2) holds me accountable in the healthy desire to always want to be working on getting to that “the better place”.
  10. Self care, mental health self-care, emotional self-care never stops. There is no ceiling, or at least I haven’t found it and I am a pretty! happy person right now. 🙂

Take care yourself. So you can give proper love to others, so you can give proper love to yourself. How can you love thy neighbor as yourself if you don’t know how to do it yourself? Is the question I ask myself.

 

xSoo

Glossy Co. Beauty & Wellness Summit 2018

Attending Glossy Co.’s Beauty & Wellness Summit gave me the wonderful opportunity to connect and discuss issues the wellness & beauty industry is facing with leaders and new players; it was also a moment that made me, a relatively young founder of wellness company ATEM, realize just how disparate the opinions of notable leaders were on:
– what the future looks like in both personal care sectors
– how brand leaders, beauty conglomerates, and partnering software companies have very polarizing views on how to systematically define how a business must scrape customer data [in these modern times of multiple revenue streams across multiple sales channels in digital and offline)
– software companies and b2b companies in beauty not having clear guidelines for clear beauty and taking these murky definitions to the analysis stage
– lack of agreement industry wide on a general process for validating an authentically wellness focused good, brand, or business.
Wellness at the summit was a topic discussed from a product standpoint, rather than a movement or values POV. I believe and hope that in the future, leaders might look to considering and incorporating the full implications of marketing and branding their businesses as “wellness” and take this self-identification with wellness more seriously.
Because I sadly have little time to elucidate these thoughts in writing, I’m just going to leave you with these surface-scraping comments here and my photos from the summit which are more readily available. 🙂

IPSY’s Executive Chairman Jennifer Goldfarb primarily speaking on her company’s strengths: personalization.

NARS Cosmetics ‘s Benjamin Lord, Executive Director of Global Marketing

HUM Nutrition CEO Walter Faulstroh

Taking an hour break with a quick jog on Santa Barbara’s shores

Dash Hudson, a data partner of major companies, researches topics like clean beauty using hashtag identification, when in fact, hashtags are often mis-attributed and mis-allocated by content creators and brands.

 

Thank you Glossy Co. and Digiday for having me on this wonderful and intriguing summit for beauty and wellness.

I look forward to the next year.

 

Bises,

Soo

Trending In Retail & Consumer Goods

The Case For Lower In-season Markdowns:

“YNAP has also seen a deceleration in North America, where overall luxury goods sales growth has been slower in 2017 compared to Europe and Asia, according to Bain & Co. At YNAP, North American sales in the third quarter of 2017 grew 10 percent from 2016, down from 17 percent growth a year earlier. ‘According to management, this was also driven by a slightly weaker performance in the in-season business, where they made a strategic decision to have lower markdowns versus last year,’ Barclay analyst Andrew Ross wrote in a recent note. ‘While this helped margins, it had a detrimental impact on the top line.’ However, he said, “Long term, this approach by YNAP will strengthen relationships with brands.”” – Yoox Net-A-Porter Group, Bof.com

 

Digital & Print Publications for Next Level Branding: 

WoollyCasper, next-gen mattress brand

HereAway, next-gen luggage brand

AirbnbmagAirbnb, sharing economy unicorn

 

Technology: 

Helio: machine learning [via online fundraising platform for early stage consumer brands] Circleup to make investment calls on retail and consumer brands.

 

“Social Media Drives Sales,” They’ve Been Saying…:

What’s next on the affiliate partnership front for consumer goods giant Amazon:

Amazon expands its Influencer Program to include Twitter and Instagram, in addition to YouTube

 

 

 

 

Rituals

 

  1. On Sundays, I will allot 2 hours of my afternoon to read in a cafe with good lighting that makes me happy and keeps me alert. I try not to switch around locations.
  2. Every morning, as soon as I wake up  and before I reach for my phone,  I run a motto through my head: it usually rotates from these three:
    1. By the grace of God I am worthy.
    2. Thank you God for this day.
    3. God, help me to give my day to you.
  3. I read at least a chapter of the Bible every day. Currently I am working through Isaiah. Usually I will read Psalm 95 and dedicate a prayer to God before, so that I can prepare to give my heart and attention wholly to the reading.
  4. I go in for a  video call with my family once a week. Objective: To hear what my mom and my sister has been up to and to actively engage in listening to the people most important to me.
  5. I drip coffee every morning. Grinding coffee and hand-pouring coffee is a therapeutic experience on its own. Having the consistent and dependable reward of drinking better than average coffee always leaves me coming back the next day ready to go into the routine regardless of how snoozy I am.
  6. Before my foot injury, I would wake up at 6 or 6:15 (depending on the day) to run a route of 4 miles at Central Park (north – south from my place to the south entrance cleanly amounts to that much). It was one of the most rewarding and helpful routines I’ve developed in my adulthood. Unfortunately, due to my present state, I satisfy myself with long walks back home from my work place (about 4 miles), and I always work to stretch out my body for about 15 minutes either in the morning or before I head to sleep. I’d like to walk more often.
  7. In the mornings, if I’m extra productive, I try to get to text messages that I haven’t responded to in the previous days.
  8. Throughout the week, I task myself to read the book I am currently on if I ever find myself still fully alert post-work hours. If I’m less than fully alert (had wine; burgers!, tired out of my mind, or feeling unfocused), I will pick up a lighter book (if I have one by the side and at the ready), read articles and studies I’ve pocketed (my go-to sites are on the website tab), or a short essay.

It’s hard to get into a routine, because the word itself implies that you are blocking off a finite resource, time, of yours for an extended amount of time to invest in a variable reward, and sometimes starting one for the sake of doing it for accomplishment or because it aligns with your value-based identity just isn’t that sexy of a pull.

From my personal experience though, investing in the time to develop these practices has probably contributed to the greatest positive changes and developments in my life.

They keep my character, spiritual, physical & mental life strong.

Getting to a point in which you regularly exercise habits that require little to no cognitive effort to initiate (holla heuristics) is also a great reward in itself (less work for increasingly more rewards!).

They also help me keep my positive, optimistic, and energetic demeanor (which are arguably my most marked characteristics)  in a way that’s as close to 100% authentic and sincere.

Anyways, it’s 9, I’d best start my day. Happy Memorial Day. I remember and honor those who gave their lives up for us.

“Don’t  just fill up on things that you’ll have forgotten the next day”- Jonathan McReynolds

“What is the value of a fine watch if you don’t keep winding it and it can’t keep time.?