Category: Life

February 15 2019

The Best 1.5 Hours I’ve Ever Spent With My Husband

Last night, after the boys went to sleep, Sam and I started talking about the mental health podcast I’ve been wanting to create. This idea of starting one, which would be about successful people who have/had to deal with a mental illness, has been on my mind for months. I’ve been daunted by the task because of several reasons; having to learn the technical aspects of starting up a podcast, finding guests to interview, and the natural fear of being judged by my family and friends. I’ve always been open in sharing that I have bipolar, I’m not ashamed by it, in fact, I think it’s kind of cool. 🙂 Truth be told, I’m probably in a hypomanic stage right now, I only slept about three hours last night yet I’m full of energy and excitement about what the future holds.

I’m now in week 2 of my altMBA course yet I have to say that I’ve been changed. I’ve received so much helpful feedback from my fellow cohorts that it’s given me some clarity as to how I would structure the podcast. The first episode will be about sharing my personal story – starting from when I was young and having to deal with social anxiety to the present day, living with and managing being bipolar. When I look back at my life, now being almost 43-years-old, I can say that I’ve experienced social anxiety, PTSD, depression, and bipolar. Crazy, right?

The second episode would be hearing Sam’s side of the story about how I ended up in a mental hospital. He would talk about what life is like in a supporting role and how we somehow manage to live a life we love. (On a side note, that’s how I’d define success. It’s not about money or power, it’s about living a happy and fulfilling life.)

This got me thinking that I’d like to write a memoir, sharing my difficult life experiences and what lessons I’ve learned along the way. My hope would be that it would give others a glimpse into the life of someone who has dealt with several mental illnesses yet how a person can turn those experiences into something positive. If I can live through my mother’s suicide and being locked up in a mental hospital for six weeks, what can’t I overcome? I’ve learned how to be resilient, how to be the best mom I can be, and that having a mental illness doesn’t have to stop you from pursuing your dreams.

So back to last night. Sam and I were sitting on the couch when we decided to tape our conversation. We just started talking about my first psychotic break and how scary it was both for me and him. I told him what I last remembered, and he filled in all the details. At one point, I started to cry (ok, I cry easily), because I had no idea how much he did for me. Not only did he drive up every day from Temecula to the UCLA psych hospital to visit me (a 1.5 to 2 hr drive, one way), but he also checked in with the doctors, constantly asking for updates. I had family and friends who wanted to visit, so he created a schedule and gave everyone advice on what they should or should not say. He also had to deal with my loving but sometimes crazy sister who couldn’t understand what I was going through. In the hospital, she said, “Why can’t you just snap out of it?” Oh, if only I could.

It has now been five years since that hospital stay and I’ve gone into mania about once or twice a year. Depending on my level of stress, I can easily slip into hypomania, which my therapist correctly describes as “seductive.” In hypomania, you feel on top of the world, you hardly need any sleep, you feel more creative and less inhibited. But it’s a slippery slope, if I don’t increase my medication I fall off the cliff and my brain goes into overdrive. I start seeing patterns everywhere, ones that don’t make any sense, and I’m easily overstimulated. Even the sound of my boys raising their voices makes me extremely anxious so it’s hard to be present and be their mom.

I’m more motivated than ever to start this podcast. Inspired by Tim Ferriss, I’ll create six episodes and then see if this is something I really want to pursue. In the meantime, I’ll start jotting notes down about my life experiences and maybe they’ll end up in a book. One last thought we had was starting a YouTube channel where Sam and I discuss things like parenting, love, gratefulness, self-improvement and entrepreneurship. That one may be hidden for a while. Stay tuned…and thanks for taking this journey with me.

January 18 2019

Where Has Alice Gone?

As much I’d love to keep this blog updated, it’s been a huge challenge. I’ve been working full-time on making Skylar Yoo grow and, I’m proud to say, that she has! October was our first birthday. Sales were great in 4Q, especially in December when everyone was buying our women empowerment tees for their fierce female friends.

I’m starting a new chapter in my life soon. You may have heard of Seth Godin, he’s this marketing guru who has written 18 books, has one of the most popular blogs on the Internet and hosts an enlightening podcast called Akimbo. I took his Bootstrappers Workshop a few months ago, I’m in his Marketing Seminar and Podcasting Fellowship right now and on February 4th, I’ll be taking his intensive, 4-week online workshop called altMBA. Now, let me just tell you people that I was thrilled to have been picked as one of the 100 in this program – but I also had a huge case of anxiety! I started to go hypomanic just last week as I thought about how I’m going to manage my family, Skylar Yoo and altMBA all at once.

Just to give you an idea of the work involved, there are live, mandatory team meetings three days per week. These team meetings will take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays for three hours a night and Sunday for eight hours!

So, basically, in February, I’m screwed. I’ll be a sad hermit with a hot laptop.

On a lighter note, I’ve found a new love for social media, namely Skylar Yoo’s Facebook page, my personal Twitter account, and my Instagram posts and stories. Here’s how I use them:

Skylar Yoo’s Facebook page: Inspiring and empowering articles and photos about girls and women.
My personal Twitter account: Latest news including topics on art, design, politics and female empowerment.
My Instagram posts and stories: IG posts are where I plan to write more about my personal life. IG stories is the fun place where I walk you through my day showing you my latest purchase (usually from Amazon), what I’ve been eating, books I’ve been reading, etc. It’s been fun showing you a peek inside my gratitude journal. (I suggest everyone get this one. It’s a great way to start the day!) I’m getting more daring these days and experimenting with videos of myself, which is HUGE for a shy, introvert like me. (Hey, gotta get out of your comfort zone to grow…can I get a hell yeah?!)

On top of all of this are two more things on the horizon. The first is something I’m experimenting with just for fun. I created a new Instagram account called @styledbyyoo which gives you a peek inside my closet. About two years ago, I fell in love with fashion and I thought it would be fun to see what it feels like to be in front of the camera. Ok, let me just lay it out there people, that shit is hard. Posing like a model is totally new and foreign to me and finding the perfect background is a huge challenge! I probably won’t be able to keep it up every day but I hope to get better and better at it. One side benefit to all of this is that my kids will finally have some photos of their mother. I’ve been in hiding during their whole childhood because I felt too insecure (ok, let’s just say it…fat) to be photographed. I want them to see me as a confident, strong, stylish mom. So boys, I’m doing this for you!

Lastly, I have a BIG project I’m going to tackle this year, 2019. I’m going to start a podcast about mentally ill people who are successful despite of or even because of it. I want to interview business leaders, athletes, and celebrities who have or had depression or anxiety and a person who has bipolar disorder (like me). What prompted this idea were articles I read recently that stated that 49% of entrepreneurs say they have struggled with some form of mental illness in the past and 32% say they have a lifetime illness. Aren’t those some wild statistics?

Mostly, I want to open up the discussion about mental health. I will openly share my own story in hopes that others will find the courage to share theirs. We need to make mental health a priority, people! We need to “Smash the Stigma.” (That’s what my podcast will be called.) Not only do I want people who have a mental illness to find hope in other people’s stories, I’d like those who know someone who has a mental illness learn how they can help. I believe, in my heart of hearts, that this is my calling.

Now, let’s save some lives and change the world!

July 27 2018

Kindness Unexpected: A New Blog and Private Facebook Group

You know I’m a big fan of blogs and starting up new businesses. In fact, I have this idea right now brewing in my head that could disrupt a whole industry! For now, I’ll share with you a brand new blog and private Facebook group that’s all about random acts of kindness. You can read about why I started it here. The Facebook group is private so you don’t have to worry about all your friends seeing your posts or comments. Each person is vetted by three questions. I hope it’ll be a safe, cool place to share ideas on how to make someone’s day. Let’s make the world a better place!

You can apply to become a part of the private Facebook group, here. Hope you’ll join!

July 26 2018

What’s Next For Skylar Yoo? (Hint: Colors! Lots of Colors!)

So lately I’ve been asking myself the question, “What’s next for Skylar Yoo?” Over the last 8 months or so, our customers have resoundingly favored our feminist graphic tees. Aside from “Grit” which has that cool retro vibe, “Girls to the Front,” “Yes, She Can,” and “Fearless Girl,” have been our top selling tees. I don’t want to pigeonhole us to be just a “feminist” t-shirt company, I have bigger dreams!

So what’s my two year plan? Well, right now I’m taking inspiration from the designer Missoni who created this stunning rainbow fringe dress that Mandy Moore recently wore for her guest appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live. (You know I have this thing for rainbows right?! I’m like a five-year-old girl, I know.)

In line with Skylar Yoo’s motto, which is “Be Bold,” I want to create colorful, ultra-stylish clothes that make your heard turn…at affordable prices. Though I love what companies like Everlane and DSTLD are doing with their paired down basics, my heart skips a beat when I see anything in bold colors, color blocked, or in rainbow. If these Gucci sneakers weren’t $980 and this Burberry rainbow puffer jacket wasn’t $1350, I’d snatch them up in a second! Ok, and how pretty is this Oscar de la Renta rainbow choker? I bought this Mara Hoffman rainbow swimsuit last year but my butt is so big I can’t wear it. (Motivation to work out! Goooo Peloton!) Oh, and who can forget Cate Blanchett’s ombre Givenchy gown? I die! I’ve been eyeing these Vans rainbow checkerboard sneakers for myself but they’re sold out everywhere. (Next best thing? I got a pair for Logan.)

My goal? To launch the raddest line of bold, colorful clothes, shoes and accessories on Skylar Yoo. More to come…

July 11 2018

How My Peloton Bicycle (and Their Kick Ass Instructors) Completely Changed My Life

Have you ever heard of a keystone habit? It’s one of the most important habits you can have, it has the power to transform your life. A keystone habit sparks a chain reaction that helps you develop other good habits. In my case, it took me getting a Peloton and riding it every day to get me to stop smoking, eat healthier, wake up earlier, meditate, and write in my journal (regular journal + 5 minute gratitude one). In essence, it has changed my life!

So, peeps, I told you we bought a Peloton bicycle awhile back. For months, I’d just get on and off it, taking a class here and there. I was devoted to Cody Rigsby, he’s this awesome instructor that is as hilarious as he is gorgeous! His classes made exercising fun…yes, fun! So everything was just hunky dory, I was happy I had the bike but wasn’t getting anywhere with losing weight. (This is him on his bike.)

BUT THEN! I decided to challenge myself by riding 30 times in 30 days. What sparked it was the All for One ride, Peloton took 11 instructors and had each of them teach a segment of a 45 minute ride (every instructor got to cover one song). I didn’t ride it when it was playing live but apparently, it broke a Peloton record as a 18,488 riders jammed to the beat of the music in the studio or in their homes, all at the same time. Personally, I’ve taken the class (on demand) two times and time just flies by because you’re having so much fun. Best yet is that I discovered a bunch of new instructors like Ally Love and Alex Toussaint. Now, I’ve been a member of LA Fitness and 24 Hour Fitness in the past and have taken cycling rides by their various instructors but none of them have come close to the ones at Peloton! “How so?,” you might ask!

Peloton instructors are super fit, they have dynamic personalities, they push you to your limit, they’re encouraging and they don’t just want you to get in shape, they want you to be the best person you can be. (As Ally says, “You’re a boss!”) Lately, I’ve been doing two rides a day – one with Cody Rigsby and the other with Ally Love. (See Ally, below.)

So back to the keystone habit. Riding on a Peloton every day makes me want to eat healthier because I don’t want those burned calories to go to waste. Bye bye, late night ramen and and juicy ribeye! I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve been a smoker on and off for years now but I’m committed to quitting. Why? Because exercising and smoking just don’t go hand in hand! This morning, I woke up at 5:10am and, by the time the family started stirring, at 7:30am, I had meditated, read a few pages of a book (Thinking, Fast and Slow), journaled, gotten breakfast and taken a :45 minute Ally Love class.

So, do I love my Peloton!? You better believe it! I’m on my 10th straight day and I feel great. Can’t wait to hit the “century” mark or the 100th ride and get my free tee! (I’m at 25, quarter of the way there!) In essence, when I’m riding my Peloton I feel like it’s “my time.” I come off the bike sweaty and exhausted but accomplished and exhilarated. I was pushing a size 12 but now I’m a solid size 10. Can’t wait to get my pre-baby weight off and whittle myself down to a healthy and fit size six one day.

For now, I just want to say, I love you Peloton! I love clipping into my bike and just riding, hills and all! And to all the awesome instructors out there, thank you for the “Sorry, not sorry” quips. They crack me up!

April 25 2018

5 Life-Changing Lessons I Learned From My A Book A Day Challenge

Well, I lasted about a week. Yesterday, I was reading Simon Sinek’s Leaders Eat Last while my husband was enjoying a late night snack. Suddenly he remarked, “Can we please talk? I’m leaving on a trip, I’ll be gone for a few days, we hardly saw each yesterday and it seems like all you’re doing these days is reading.” Then, it hit me. This 365 day challenge of reading a book a day was not only stressing the f*** out of me, I had neglected other parts of my life. So, even though I feel embarrassed to say it, I am quitting.

My friend Kat always reminds me that can we learn lessons from every experience, especially the ones that don’t go right. So what did this challenge teach me?

1. When you commit to a challenge, make sure it’s something reasonable, attainable. I didn’t give it enough thought before I proclaimed to the world that I could do this. Only once I was knee deep into it, did I realize that it takes a good 3-6 hours to complete one book. I even bought a book on speed reading but who was I kidding? I couldn’t be a speed reader overnight. Why rush through a book? Isn’t reading about enjoying every page? Every word?

2. If your challenge is going to stress you out, it’s not the right challenge for you. Instead of enjoying reading, I instead saw it as “homework.” Throw in the fact that I Instagrammed my favorite quote and wrote a full blog post about each one and you can add a few hours on top of just reading.

3. You can’t let a challenge make you neglect important parts of your life. Reading totally consumed my life, I played less with the kids, I hardly talked to my husband and forget about jumping on my Peloton for an hour of exercise. I miss my Cody Rigsby! (He’s a spinning instructor on Peloton.)

4. Pat yourself on the back for even trying. A lot of my friends, including my husband, were shocked that I even wanted to take on a challenge like this. I honestly believed I could do it. I should be proud of the fact that I even tried.

5. Something good can come out of even a short challenge. Every night I would summarize to Sam the things I learned from each book. When I told him about Thich Nhat Hanh’s philosophy on how our parents didn’t have the opportunity (or even the luxury) to be mindful, that their actions are mostly the result of what they experienced from their parents, it made him understand his parents more. At least something good came out of reading these books!

So, there. I am officially stopping my A Book A Day Challenge. (I hate the words quitting or failing.) I learned a sh** ton, I’m still going to read but I will go back to regular programming here at Adventures of Yoo. What does that mean? Every once in a while I’ll sprinkle in a book review, but mostly I’ll update you on my journey on becoming a better entrepreneur, mom, wife, sister and person. Thanks for sticking with me.

April 23 2018

A Book A Day #5: The One Thing by Gary Keller

I’m always looking for books that will help me live a simpler but more meaningful life. How can I increase my productivity while minimizing my stress?

Gary Keller is an American entrepreneur, he’s the founder of Keller Williams Realty International, which is the largest real estate company in the world by agent count. His books include The Millionaire Real Estate Agent, The Real Estate Investor, and The ONE Thing.

The ONE Thing has been on more than 400 national bestseller lists, including #1 Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and USA Today. It has won 12 book awards and has been translated into 30 languages. It’s been voted as one of the Top 100 Business Books of All Time on Goodreads.

Brief Synopsis: The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results helps you focus on what matters most in your personal and professional life. It’s a simple lesson, focus on the one thing that is going to help you the most. It asks you to zero in on your most important priority and focus in on that. Then, it gives you tips on how to boost your productivity.

Top 5 Quotes:

“Achievers operate differently. They have an eye for the essential. They pause long enough to decide what matters and then allow what matters to drive their day. Achievers do sooner what others plan to do later and defer, perhaps indefinitely, what others do sooner. The difference isn’t in intent, but in right of way. Achievers always work from a clear sense of priority.”

“Instead of a to-do list, you need a success list – a list that is purposefully created around extraordinary results.”

“Success is actually a short race – a sprint fueled by discipline just long enough for habit to kick in and take over. When we know something that needs to be done but isn’t currently getting done, we often say, ‘I just need more discipline.’ Actually, we need the habit of doing it. And we need just enough discipline to build the habit.”

“The surest path to achieving lasting happiness happens when you make your life about something bigger, when you bring meaning and purpose to your everyday actions.”

“I cannot believe that the purpose of life is to be happy. I think the purpose of life is to be useful, to be responsible, to be compassionate. It is, above all, to matter, to count, to stand for something, to have made some difference that you lived at all.” – screenwriter Leo Rosten

A Good Story: As an example of a CEO who believed in “going small” or saying no a lot was Steve Jobs. In the two years after his return from Apple, in 1997, he took the company from 350 products to ten. He explained, “When you think about focusing, you think, ‘Well, focusing is saying yes.’ No! Focusing is about saying no.”

Statistics or Research:

Individuals with written goals are 39.5% more likely to succeed. Individuals ho wrote their goals and sent progress reports to friends are 76.7% more likely to achieve them.

Takeaway Tips:

Do what matters most first each day, when your willpower is the strongest.

Think BIG, aim high and act bold. “Avoid incremental thinking that simply asks, ‘What do I do next?’..Ask bigger questions. Set a goal so far above what you want that you’ll be building a plan that practically guarantees your original goal.”

Rest and recharge. Take that time off. Block out long weekends and long vacations. “You’ll be more rested, more relaxed, and more productive afterward.”

Find time to reflect on where you are and where you want to go. Block an hour each week to review your annual and monthly goals.

My Biggest Takeaway: Find your purpose in life. For me, that means inspiring and empowering women to be bold as well as helping to erase the stigma of mental illness. “When you have a definite purpose for your life, clarity comes faster, which leads to more conviction in your direction, which usually leads to faster decisions. When you make faster decisions, you’ll often be the one who makes the first decisions and winds up with the best choices. And when you have the best choices, you have the opportunity for the best experiences.” It’s taught me to write down my goals and keep them close.

Who is This Book For?: Anyone who’s interested in simplifying their life while still achieving a high level of productivity.

Why Do I Recommend This Book?: This book taught me that life comes down to finding your purpose and setting your priorities. “Purpose without priority is powerless.” Work on the one thing that matters most to you. “Tap into your purpose and allow that clarity to dictate your priorities.” It’s all about purpose and priorities!

March 15 2018

My Very Personal Struggle With Weight

On my Instagram, you’ll find this recent picture of me and my older sister. (We’re in downtown LA having a girls’/sisters’ night out.) Scroll through my feed and you’ll notice that it’s completely filled with pics of my dogs and my kiddos. I have a few pics scattered here and there of me. (And even less of Sam.) Why? Well, first, I hate how I look in pictures. As they say, we are our own worst critic. Second, I’m ashamed of my weight.

For most of my life I was a size six or a medium. It was only after I had kids that I ballooned up to a size 10 or a large. I was one of those women who packed on the pounds during pregnancy (we’re talking whale-style, 70 lbs), I had a “fourth meal” every night that consisted of something incredibly unhealthy like ramen. (Who doesn’t love Sapporo Ichiban?) It didn’t help that soon after I gave birth to Logan, I would be diagnosed with bipolar and put on two medications, one that would make me gain weight! (Yes, there is such a thing!) My appetite increased and I could no longer feel full.

Slowly I crept up to a size 12 and I started noticing all the cellulite accumulating on my thighs. I didn’t want to look in the mirror, my face felt pudgy, my stomach had extra rolls. I only wore two outfits – black leggings with long shirts that completely hid my shape. Although I appreciated fashion, I couldn’t buy anything, I felt too scared to put on a dress and not have it zip up.

Then, I had this major, breakthrough therapy session. (Thank you, Dr. G.) Why couldn’t I love and accept myself just the way I was? How come I couldn’t buy clothes that were larger and feel good in them? And so I did. I swallowed my pride and started buying everything in a size large. I started eating less and whittled my way to a size 10 (which I am right now). Suddenly, I started getting random compliments about my fashion sense. “Gorgeous sweater,” they’d say, or “Beautiful jacket.” My confidence grew. I fell in love with fashion.

For both health’s sake and because I enjoy a good challenge, I’m going to try to get back to a size 6. What does that mean? No late night eating. Smaller portions. Cutting back on desserts. No more soda. I need to stop eating when I’m satisfied, not full. (That was a nugget of wisdom from my therapist. That man’s a genius.)

And exercise! I’m super pumped because we ordered a Peloton. It comes next week. I already joined their private Facebook group, which consists of over 78K members. (Lots of activity in there.) I’m excited to chime in and be a part of that community. In the past, when I would work out at my local gym, I’d only really go for the spin classes. Afterwards, I would always be drenched in sweat. Guess what? I looooooved it! I promise to share with you my Peloton experience. (A full review will come in a few weeks.)

So…here goes! Let’s see if I have the discipline to achieve my weight loss goal. Drop 60 lbs by December 31st.

P.S. You’ll now see more pics of me on my Instagram. Some day, I may even talk to you in an Instagram story! Also, I vow to take more pics of me with my kids. What happens if I suddenly die? (Sorry for the morbid thought.) Time to get courageous! Come along on the ride with me. Hop on board the weight loss train. I need your support! If you’re trying to lose weight too, let’s do it together. We can do this!

March 12 2018

A Quick Interview About the Start of Skylar Yoo

A little while ago, I got hit up for an interview by social media strategist, calligrapher and blogger Anamarie Francisco (@craftedbyanamarie). You all know that I’m the super shy-type but, pushing my fears aside, I figured, “Why not? Let’s live our mantra and be bold!” This would be a great opportunity for people to be introduced to the brand Skylar Yoo. Anamarie asked some thoughtful questions like, “When did you know that this job/career was for you or realized a past job wasn’t working for you?” and “Word of advice for anyone looking to pursue a similar career?”

You can read the whole interview here. (It’s not too long.)

Thanks for the feature, Anamarie!

February 7 2018

The Four Little Words That Haunted Me for a Decade

After writing post after post about products, I thought I’d open up a bit and tell you about the hardest decade of my life. It was around the time my mother committed suicide but that event didn’t trigger it. (Oddly enough.) It was one person (who name shall not be named) that once said to me four little words that completely shattered me. Mind you, I didn’t have much going in – my mother was very tough on us growing up so I never felt that confident, loved or secure. It was only after my success with My Modern Met that I started to feel a modicum of self-worth. Ok, so now you’re asking…what four words?!

One person, someone close to me, simply said: “You are not worthy.” Well, it was more like “You are not worthy of Sam.” (Sam, who is now my husband and who was, back then, my boyfriend.) Now, a person who had a little bit of self-esteem would have roared back, “F— you and your opinion! First of all, I don’t care what you think, and secondly, I know who I am and Sam and I are both lucky to have found each other.” Well, unfortunately, (or maybe fortunately…for my therapist), those words haunted me…for a full decade! Suddenly, an evil devil appeared on my shoulder telling me how terrible, stupid, and unworthy I was as a human being. How could I ever live up to “perfect” Sam? Why would anyone love me? It was a dark time, my friends, a dark, dark time. I had major social anxiety – I couldn’t be around people, especially big groups, for fear of being judged. I avoided people like the plague. To this day, I still don’t have a huge group of girlfriends, you could say I have major trust issues.

So, why am I telling you this? Because somewhere after 40, I decided it’s not my accomplishments in life that define who I am and how I’m going to feel about myself. And, I can’t look to others to make me feel special, that all comes from within me. Don’t give anyone else the power to make you feel unworthy. Let’s give ourselves a break. Hell, let’s be our own best friends and show kindness and compassion to ourselves. I’ve taught my own kids that everyone makes mistakes in life (everyone!), and those mistakes don’t define who you are. You make a mistake, you learn from it. You hurt someone, you say sorry. You fall down, you get back up. Love yourself, goddammit! There’s only one YOU.

That’s my rant for today. Love yourself, you got that? It’s so simple yet I wish someone would have told me that in my twenties! 🙂

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