Woman of the Week: Mai


Meet this weeks WOW, Mai.  I met her seven years ago through a friend and she came over for a visit.  We have stayed in touch all these years through the magic of Facebook.  This woman is the one who gave me the nickname "Titanium" and it has stuck with me all these years and in fact has even more meaning now then when she first told me about it.  She runs her own counseling business, is a talented artist and is raising three amazing kids with her husband.  

Thank you Mai for sharing with us!

1:  If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it, what would it say and why?

Practice Acceptance.  I call the Serenity Prayer the most unused over spoken prayer in this world.  So many people say it.  So few practice it.  If more people used it and understood it then I believe there would be less anger in this world.  Learning to accept everything we can’t control and working on those things we can control take work and daily practice.  Eventually, it gives you peace of mind.  I’m sure this is what I would choose because I am in the depths of this practice.  Maybe in 10 years my answer would be different. 

2:  In the last five years what have you become better at saying no to?

This may sound awful but personal requests for help (outside of my professional business).  I have always been a person who gives and wants to ‘fix’ everyone’s problems.  I would take on everyone’s problems and become so overwhelmed.  It took me a long time to be honest with myself as far as what I am able to give and what winds up depleting me or taking me away from my family.  I realized, late in life, I have to be happy, healthy and terrific in order to help other people.

3:  What advice would you give to a smart, driven college student about to enter the "real world"?

Do what you love not what is going to make you the most money…..unless money is what you love and then that’s you’re path and I’m probably not going to be able to talk you out of it.  Then I would say take your time.  These timelines we put on ourselves are ridiculous.  For example, “I have to have a million dollars before I’m 40!”  Says who?  I’ve seen young people stress out about graduating on time in college and it never made any sense to me.  Take your time and get the most out of it!  College is incredible and the knowledge you can obtain, not only in your field but others as well, is amazing!

4:  What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you've ever made?  (it doesn't need be financial in nature)

Leaving a high paying job 3 years ago to balance out my life was the best investment I made.  I am challenged with meeting my bills but it doesn’t stress me out as much as working for a company demanding so much of my time and energy.  My kids are better for it.  My husband is better for it.  My disposition is incredibly improved.  Due to my change the people in my life were able to change as well.  I feel I should have left a long time ago but I’m a middle of road soul so my learning abilities aren’t quick.

5:  In the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your life?

Acceptance.  I grew up in a Buddhist/Christian home but was told to search for my own beliefs.  I was told stories about each of the faiths.  I was allowed to attend any events of faith I wished.  I felt the most in tune with Buddhism and practice many of its teachings.  Acceptance is probably one of the most challenging things for people in our society.  Although it’s not a new belief or behavior it’s one I’m more focused on now in my life.  Being able to accept what we can control and what we can’t and not allowing bad or negative feelings to dictate our decisions is a big key to happiness; yet in our society it is not practiced well at all.  It takes awareness and mindfulness which I feel many people are out of touch with in this society.  I have hope and emit positive vibes towards it though.  I am hoping the newer generations (i.e. Z plus) have a better hold of the concept.  I’ve seen very hopeful signs with the new generations.

6:  How has a failure, or apparent failure set you up for later success?  Do you have a favorite failure of yours?

I don’t know if this is good or bad but I have so many failures in life to learn from that it’s difficult to choose.  I think the ones I think most about are my relationship failures and I mean everything from friends to family to acquaintances.  In my youth I just wanted so much acceptance and only as an adult can I look back and realize the mistakes I made and some of it is just downright embarrassing.  One of the strongest realizations I made in my 30s.  I saw how my gender tore each other down and realized I had participated in that for most of my life.  I decided I wasn’t going to tear down women any more but lift them up and I have been practicing that for almost 20 years.  I teach it to younger women and children in hopes we, as women, become more united and help support each other in all our endeavors. 

7:  What purchase of $100 or less has most positively impacted your life in the last six months or in recent memory?

Learned Optimism by Martin E.P. Seligman, also known as the father of Positive Psychology, changed my life.  Being able to focus on your strengths rather than your deficits to overcome difficulties in life is amazing.  I bought this more than 6 months ago but I purchased it at a time when I was going through a very difficult divorce and I was kind of lost.  It helped me love myself again and find answers to life.

8:  When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, what do you do?

There’s what I should do and there’s what I do do….unfortunately. Sometimes I just zone out and avoid the work for a while but then I cause myself undue stress.  If I make myself meditate, do some square breathing and return to my work it helps immensely.  I also have to think positive thoughts and tell myself I can do this. 

9:  What is the book (or books) you've given most as a gift and why?  Or what are one to three books that have greatly influence your life

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff and It’s All Small Stuff: Simple Ways to Keep The Little Things From Taking Over Your Life by Richard Carlson

Learned Optimism by Martin E.P. Seligman

The Art of Happiness by the Dalai Lama

10:  What is one piece of advice you would give to a woman that you wish you knew earlier in life?

I don’t know if I completely understand this question.  Earlier in my life? Her life?  In my life, even though I probably thought I knew everything, I wasn’t capable of dispensing solid, good advice.  If I could go back in time I would advise all women (even myself) the following things – 1. Be good and support your gender at all times

2. Don’t EVER be ashamed of your love and emotions.  They ARE strengths NOT weaknesses.

3. Believe in yourself and stand strong.

4. The best, most fulfilling but also most challenging (at times) relationship you can have is with other women.  (It’s the saddest thing in the world when I hear women brag about not having women friends).

11:   What do you think about the theory of "the love of your life", what does that phrase me to you?

So many things.  The love of my life could be my children.  It could be my husband.  It could be a moment in time.  Right now, having found someone who is so in tune with me and living a more balanced life it’s all of the above.  To me, I’ve always been surrounded by love but I was taught to be suspicious and negative towards it so only in my adulthood can I appreciate that I have always been a loving person, simply misguided at times.  I think the MOST important love of your life should be yourself….. not in a narcissistic way but in an ‘awareness’ type of way. 

12:  What is something that you would find most helpful in your life right now?  (what would be the best problem solved for you)

I have a real aversion to financial anything and I know it’s a challenge for me.  I think if I learned to have more respect and acceptance to its importance it would improve my life. 

Thank you Mai for your insightful and enlightening responses.  So much truth there and some of what you said is what prompted me to start this site and create this series.  As women we need to uplift and support each other and provide space to be seen and heard.