Hi everybody.  I am very happy to announce that my new e-book, One Ounce Gold, is on sale to the public for a “Pay What You Want” price! Please CLICK HERE to be redirected to the purchasing page.

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Profound and personal, One Ounce Gold offers a complex perspective of our physical and metaphysical worlds while exploring the exponential power of human potential. Through the fierce, honest and vulnerable female voice, One Ounce Gold honors a family’s refugee past, critiques American race & politics, and urges all of us to live with the greatest depths of courage and compassion in our hearts.

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I hope you enjoy!

HAPPY BIRFDAY TO ME. CLICK HERE TO READ MY VERY SPECIAL BIRTHDAY BLOG POST.

This is going to be bananas! I’ll be sharing the stage with some of the most respected writers in the game.

Come one come all…

THIS SATURDAY!

IT’S GOING DOWN!

AT SCRIPPS COLLEGE!

YEEEEAAA! :)

In my workshop, I’ll be talking about reimagining our futures creatively and how to make decisions from joy in a culture of fear.

Then it’s mic time at night time :) Come out!

Last summer, I was one of the featured artists for Tuesday Night Project.  They uploaded a few videos from my performance which I’ve never seen til now!! Makes you wonder what else is floating around the interwebz.  It’s weird to watch myself in these videos because it feels like so long ago, even though it hasn’t been a full year yet.  The ticking of time has nothing to do with the rate of transformation inside.  I’m constantly reflecting, challenging and changing—I’ve grown so much since the person in these videos.  Sometimes I think I forgot about the person in these videos.  The truth is, I’m still figuring out what it is that I want in this life and how I can best fulfill my greatest purpose. I recently spent a one week artist/educator residency at UMass Boston (blog coming later) and I played a gang of roles—worked with students to plan and design a 15×6 feet mural for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, visited a few classrooms to talk about community activism and organizing, ran 2 creative writing workshops discussing the conflict and compassion within intergenerational identities, held a spray paint demo and made a presentation to a room full of faculty and staff about my approaches and models to student development and writing counseling methodology. I felt like this guy, wearing a bunch of different hats:

One student said to me, “It’s crazy how much you can do!”  And honestly, in hearing this I felt more conflicted than happy. It’s always been my struggle to find an anchor.  I can do a lot of things, and I feel blessed that I can do a lot of things.  But I crave focus. I want to know what it feels like to give all my energy into my creative career, and not feel like I have to divert my energy into little pockets of time that can only produce little amounts of progress.  I’m beginning to learn the difference between skill and gift.  It’s easy to feel like you’re supposed to be doing something because you’re good at it—skilled at it.  It’s affirming and somewhat rewarding.  But now I realize that just because you’re good at something doesn’t necessarily mean you are meant to do it (if you don’t want to).  It’s more important to honor your gift.  I don’t have answers, just questions.  But in the mean time, I remind myself (and you all) to create from and for joy.  Make decisions from joy, not based on what you think will bring joy.

Thanks for reading!

This one is called, “HELLO DEATH”

This one is called, “THANK YOU PARAMOUNT FOR CHOOSING THE ALL-WHITE CAST”

So I’ve been off my blogging game…………..what else is new!

But I had to hop back on to do a recap on my performance last weekend in Cincinnati for 10th Anniversary of the Vietnamese Interacting As One (VIA-1) Conference. I did a nice 30 minute set of old and new poems and it was great!

Ten years ago, the VSA at the University of Cincinnati hosted the first ever Vietnamese Interacting as One Conference. The theme was “A Standing Start,” marking the beginning of the development of the Union of Vietnamese Student Associations of the Midwest. In honor of the past ten years of continuous hard work, we now come together to where it all began to celebrate the struggles and triumphs of the UVSA community and its supporters to uphold the identity and the culture of Vietnamese Americans in the Midwest.

Real talk, I had the best time in the Midwest, partly because I wasn’t expecting much from the Midwest!! But turns out that Cincinnati has madd character, vibrant buildings and some of the best city murals I’ve seen.  Most of all, I met some of the nicest people out there and everyone showed me nothing but love during my trip.  It reminded me of how much I love Vietnamese people—to see the power, growth and endurance of a young and refugee-based community.  It gives me so much pride to know how far we’ve come in such a short amount of time.  It wasn’t too long ago that my parents and many people from their time fled Vietnam by boat and came to the U.S. with literally nothing.  Now all across the country we see the Vietnamese community thriving in their own economies of restaurants, nail salons, businesses, lawyers, doctors, council members and more.  To build an entire livelihood from nothing in addition to struggling with language and cultural barriers—WOW that shit’s amazing to me. #Nguyening!

I was also deeply moved and inspired by all the organizers, students and OG’s whom made the weekend a huge success. Everyone showed so much dedication, passion and love for uplifting each other.  It got me thinking a lot about the future and while we’ve come a long way, there is still so much more to strive for.  Personally, I felt pushed to continue taking it further, in whatever it is that I choose to do.  I know that I want to widen my impact and deepen my influence. I am only one person in this world, but I strive to imagine ways to multiply my reach to others in a way that stretches my human capacity.  Time to get creative!

Through personal conversations and during my performance set, one of the main topics I engaged in with folks was the idea of seeking security in our lives.  It seems like “financial sustainability” always claims precedence in future decisions.  But we never talk about “emotional sustainability” in our lives—what will allow you to wake up, feel fulfilled, feel happy about life and feel joy?  Money will keep the lights on, but what will keep your heart going?  When people feel unfulfilled and without purpose, that’s when they become self-destructive and miserable. I’m not saying money isn’t important, because it is—student loans, debt, supporting family members, etc.  Wu-Tang’s C.R.E.A.M. was no understatement. The plain truth is that our world operates under capitalism. But even with this in mind, my challenge is for folks to allow themselves to factor in “emotional sustainability” into the equation.

I hope to post some videos and/or photos when I get my hands on them.  I had no camera all weekend and the camera on my phone was broken. Tough life.

Thanks for reading! :)

Check out this DOPE all-expenses paid program for the Southeast Asian community! Please share:

The Southeast Asian Student Coalition (SASC) Summer Institute is a five-day educational program, which takes place in the summer, from Wednesday, June 20 to Sunday, June 24 2012.
The SASC Summer Institute’s objective is to build a network within the Southeast Asian American communities (especially those who are tied to the Southeast Asian refugee experience) amongst high school students, college students, parents, and community members to promote greater access to higher education. Those selected will participate in college workshops, dialogues, and other peer-bonding activities, while staying in one of the U.C. Berkeley dormitories or other accommodations.
This is an all-expense paid summer program that provides a safe and constructive learning environment. SASC Summer Institute is seeking motivated high school students with diverse experiences and backgrounds. Academic performance is not a factor in the acceptance of participants, thus, all are encouraged to apply.

Applications are due (postmarked) by Friday, March 30 at 11:59 P.M. Applicants will be contacted upon receipt of application and selected attendees will be notified by the beginning of May.

Download the application from the SASC website at http://www.ocf.berkeley.edu/​~sasc/?p=530

The following is copy and pasted from TARA SOPHIA MOHR’s blog. It was so great, I had to share with you all.

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10 Rules for Brilliant Women

I coach brilliant women, lots of them. Dedicated, talented, brilliant women.

Most of the time, they don’t know their brilliance. They are certain they “aren’t ready” to take on that next bigger role. They are more attuned to the ways they aren’t qualified than to the ways that they are. They are waiting for someone to validate, promote or discover them. Sound familiar?

It’s time to step up, brilliant women. Here are ten principles for owning your brilliance and bringing it to the world:

1. Make a pact. No one else is going to build the life you want for you. No one else will even be able to completely understand it. The most amazing souls will show up to cheer you on along the way, but this is your game. Make a pact to be in it with yourself for the long haul, as your own supportive friend at every step along the way.

2. Imagine it. What does a knock-the-ball-out-of-the-park life look like for you? What is the career that seems so incredible you think it’s almost criminal to have it? What is the dream you don’t allow yourself to even consider because it seems too unrealistic, frivolous, or insane? Start envisioning it. That’s the beginning of having it.

3. Gasp. Start doing things that make you gasp and get the adrenalin flowing. Ask yourself, “What’s the gasp-level action here?” Your fears and a tough inner critic will chatter in your head. That’s normal, and just fine. When you hear that repetitive, irrational, mean inner critic, name it for what it is, and remember, it’s just a fearful liar, trying to protect you from any real or seeming risks. Go for the gasps and learn how false your inner critic’s narrative really is, and how conquerable your fears.

4. Get a thick skin. If you take risks, sometimes you’ll get a standing ovation, and sometimes, people will throw tomatoes. Can you think of any leader or innovator whom you admire who doesn’t have enthusiastic fans and harsh critics? Get used to wins and losses, praise and pans, getting a call back and being ignored. Work on letting go of needing to be liked and needing to be universally known as “a nice person.”

5. Be an arrogant idiot. Of course I know you won’t, because you never could. But please, just be a little more of an arrogant idiot. You know those guys around the office who share their opinions without thinking, who rally everyone around their big, (often unformed) ideas? Be more like them. Even if just a bit. You can afford to move a few inches in that direction.

6. Question the voice that says “I’m not ready yet.” I know, I know. Because you are so brilliant and have such high standards, you see every way that you could be more qualified. You notice every part of your idea that is not perfected yet. While you are waiting to be ready, gathering more experience, sitting on your ideas, our friends referenced in rule five are being anointed industry visionaries, getting raises, and seeing their ideas come to life in the world. They are no more ready than you, and perhaps less. Jump in the sandbox now, and start playing full out. Find out just how ready you are.

7. Don’t wait for your Oscar. Don’t wait to be praised, anointed, or validated. Don’t wait for someone to give you permission to lead. Don’t wait for someone to invite you to share your voice. No one is going to discover you. (Well, actually, they will, but paradoxically, only after you’ve started boldly and consistently stepping into leadership, sharing your voice, and doing things that scare the hell out of you.)

8. Filter advice. Most brilliant women are humble and open to guidance. We want to gather feedback and advice. Fine, but recognize that some people won’t understand what you are up to (often because you are saying something new and ahead of your time). Some people will find you to be not their cup of tea. Some will feel threatened. Some people will want to do with your idea only what is interesting or helpful to them. So interpret feedback carefully. Test advice and evaluate the results, rather than following it wholesale.

9. Recover and restore. If you start doing the things that make you gasp, doing what you don’t quite feel ready to do, and being more of an arrogant idiot, you are going to be stretching out of our comfort zone–a lot. Regularly do things that feel safe, cozy, and restorative. Vent to friends when you need to. Acknowledge the steps you’ve taken. Watch your tank to see how much risk-taking juice you have available to you. When it’s running low, stop, recover and restore.

10. Let other women know they are brilliant. Let them know what kind of brilliance you see, and why it’s so special. Call them into greater leadership and action. Let them know that they are ready. Watch out for that subtle, probably unconscious thought, “because I had to struggle and suffer on my way up…they should have to too.” Watch out for thinking this will “take” too much time – when the truth is it always has huge, often unexpected returns.

Clear a path by walking it, boldly.

-Tara Sophia Mohr

ILL SOCIETY did a short story on me a few weeks back and it finally went up! Click here to read the article.

Another “New Year” later, and I’ve already failed at my attempt to blog more consistently.  One of my recent goals has been to be more present in the real world rather than the digital world, which would be evident through my decrease in Twitter and Facebook activity.  I’ve been more present with myself, my thoughts, my wants, my desires, my responsibilities and my world around me (NOT in front of my computer screen).  This attitude adjustment has me feeling GREAT!  I’m more in tune with myself rather than falling into constant traps of social comparison and newsfeed matches.  The internet is a powerful tool.  We should use it to supplement our lives, not construct our lives.

Social media non-reliance aside, I’ve honestly been SWAMPED with my full-time job at UCLA and grinding on creative projects.  My program’s 10 Year Anniversary is approaching next week so I’ve been heavy planning on top of running the program and meeting with all my students.

On the art tip, I’ve been painting like crazy.  Preparing for a solo show in LA by the end of the Summer (hopefully) and just doing some walls for fun. I added more Wully mammoths to my original WU-lly mammoth a few months back. Now it’s a WUlly clan!!

I’ve also been experimenting with new forms of writing—playing around with verses, sonnets, sestinas and the haibun! It’s so much and really challenging my creative mind.  I’m working hard to finally wrap up my first book manuscript within the next month or so.

Last weekend I spent Saturday night with two of my favorite ladies and we went to see this great hip-hop infused spoken word duo show, The Word Begins.  As a performance poet myself, sometimes I feel like a lot of spoken word shows are predictable.  But The Word Begins was such a clever, inspiring and at times wonderfully uncomfortable, show! It was powerful, hilarious and moving, hitting on the topics of race, religion, love and hope.  I would definitely recommend it to folks.  I had the honor of being radishly embarrassed in front of the entire audience as the performers singled me out and confessed their love to me (scripted for them, unscripted for me!).  I don’t think I’ve ever turned so red!

I’ve thoroughly been enjoying life.  Keeping a positive attitude and open mind about things. I am faced with a lot of uncertainty about the future (leaving my AWESOME life in LA to discover something new—which I currently have no leads on), but I am committing myself to stay present and continue crafting the best version of me to offer the world. I was reminded of a great Steve Jobs quote today, which I would like to leave with you all:

“Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.”