So it’s been 6 months since I added a new episode to my podcast Smashing the Stigma. Why? Loaded question. First, though I loved hearing people’s inspiring stories of how they are managing their mental illness, something in my gut told me that for Season 2, we needed to do something different. So, I sat on it for 6 MONTHS!!! During those 6 months I had time to reflect and think about where I want to take both Smashing the Stigma, the podcast, as well as Skylar Yoo, the feminist fashion brand.
Well now, there’s a new gal in the mix…Skyhugs. She’s a new character-based company I’m creating that’s inspired by Hello Kitty and Murakami. More on that in the next post.
For Smashing the Stigma, I now have a new video and podcast up. If you’re a visual person, you may want to check out the YouTube video and if you are more of a podcast listener (in the car, doing dishes, I get you), then there’s the podcast.
The gist of this episode is to tell you about what Season 2 is going to be all about. I threw out some pretty crazy dreams but even if I fall flat on my face and fail, at least I tried. AND that’s the most important lesson I think we can teach ourselves and kids. TRY. Not just TRY but TRY YOUR HARDEST.
I leave you with this poem that was shared with me by my coach, Amy Perkins, who I LOVE!
Wow, it’s almost been a full year since I jumped on this blog. Truth be told, it’s not that I didn’t have the motivation to write anymore, I just didn’t know what to write about. I wanted to share stories with you, lessons even, but I was so consumed with making Skylar Yoo a success, I put writing on the backburner.
A lot has changed in the past year. I got this new life coach, her name is Amy Perkins, and she encouraged me to get outside my comfort zone and try making these videos on LinkedIn. Now, I don’t consider myself an expert at really anything. I love dabbling at this and that, I love starting up businesses, and in terms of hobby, I really love taking pictures (but mostly of my kids). So the question was: What the hell do I say in these videos?
Now, in the past few years, I’ve realized that there is some kind of force, for me that’s God but for you it may be the universe, that’s leading me somewhere, I just had to listen. I had to be still. Wasn’t it Steve Jobs who so famously said, “Creativity is just connecting things?”
One sunny day, on the way to meet an old friend for lunch, I was driving down the freeway when I looked up to see a digital billboard. There was no corporate logo. It just said this: “Live with Faith.” I thought, “Hey, that’s a simple concept but one I could easily adopt. I should trust in God that everything will work out in the end.” I searched my big ass purse for a pen and quickly scribbled the sentence on my notebook.
Well, I get to my destination, a Thai restaurant my friend and I are meeting up at, and as I’m exiting the car, I glance down at my notebook. To my shock, I had not written, “Live with Faith” rather I had written “Life with Fear.” I was flabbergasted. Who wrote that? Obviously me, but what did it mean? Well, I thought about it some and I realized that there’s really two ways to live.
You can either believe that the world is a cold, dark, ugly place where everyone is out to get you or you can believe that people are inherently good and that the earth is a friendly, happy place. I choose to believe the latter and that there’s a higher power at work. GOD. The more we open ourselves up to him, have faith, the more he shows himself to us.
Personally, I’ve been struggling to find a new purpose in life. For days, I’ve been asking him, “Please use me. Show me what I can do to make a difference in the world.” Then, I FUCKING HAD A DREAM!!! (Sorry for the f-word, God.) In the dream, I was with a girl from the Netflix show You, she was the badass landlord in season 2, and we were both wearing these glasses and looking at photos and art. When we’d put the glasses on, the scenes would magically turn into something completely different. It was like magic. The “You” girl turned to me and said, “How often do you see the scenes changing because for me it only happens once a day.” I turned to her and said, “It happens to me every time I look through the glasses. Every damn time.” THEN. I took the glasses off, and I didn’t need them anymore. I saw the world through different eyes. What many people see is literally what they see, like trees, mountains, and lakes, but to me the scene has a story, a meaning, a history, a SIGN.
I woke up and had this overwhelming feeling of love and happiness inside of me. A little voice inside of me said, “This was a message from God.” So I wracked my brain for days. DAYS! What did this all mean? I was reading a lot more so did it mean I would find knowledge and meaning in the world through educating myself? No, that didn’t feel right. So three days pass and I put the puzzle in the back of my mind. I jump on my Peloton bike for my daily workout when it hits me.
God made me bipolar for a reason. First, he wanted me to experience hypomania, mania, psychosis and depression so that I could deeply understand what those with a mental illnesses, particularly bipolar, are going through. Next, he wanted to show me that in hypomania, I could feel confident, creative and on top of the world. That means, it’s a possibility that I could feel that way all the time. The glasses symbolized to me “going manic.” You see, when I go manic I see signs everywhere. I feel like God is talking to me through EVERYTHING – like street signs, magazines, conversations. I also notice patterns everywhere, a lot of the time, they don’t make any sense but I’m hyper-aware of patterns.
For the past six months, I’ve been off my meds and I have been regulating myself through eating right, stressing out less, meditating, journaling, praying and exercising. I haven’t gone manic once. In fact, because I’m off my meds, I experienced some pretty high highs and some pretty shitty lows. Now, if you’re on meds, you may need them, so talk to your doctor. Please don’t just get off your meds because I did. I had been on meds for five fucking years and I was ready to try living without them.
So what happened between when I had the dream and when I could finally decipher it? Four important things.
1. I listened to Oprah’s SuperSoul podcast with the Rock and decided I could have a different and better relationship with my mother since she’s now a spirit. I can understand what my mother was going through, while she was alive, and forgive her for her shortcomings.
2. I boldly sent an email to a friend who’s going through depression to check in and see how he’s doing. Now, let me just tell you I have been shit scared of this person for decades.
3. I gave up vaping. Yes, like a sad high schooler, I was addicted to my grape vape. It was damn delicious and it calmed my nerves. However, being an all or nothing person, I became super addicted to it and had to puff every 10 minutes. I was a slave to it and it ruining my health and my self-esteem.
4. I created a vision board and on one of the index cards I wrote, “I am grateful that Gods shows me signs, visions and dreams.”
It was only after I did those things when I suddenly felt FREE. It was like I had all these thick layers between me and God and I couldn’t hear what he was telling me because my mind and heart were consumed by my anger and resentment towards my mother, my fear of feeling stupid in front people and my hardcore addiction to vaping.
Right after I interpreted my dream, I starting bawling on my bike. It hit me like a ton of bricks. Like someone has zapped lightening up my ass. If I put total FAITH in God AND work my ass off, anything is possible. He’ll lead me to my goal: Creating the next big unicorn.
(Art by Lisa Frank.)
“Understand: you are one of a kind. Your character traits are a kind of chemical mix that will never be repeated in history. There are ideas unique to you, a specific rhythm and perspective that are your strengths, not your weaknesses. You must not be afraid of your uniqueness and you must care less and less what people think of you.” – The 50th Law by 50 Cent
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.
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.
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.
As a person who’s obsessed with lighting (see balloon lamp below), I knew I had to have this when I first spotted it on my favorite art blog, Colossal. (Shout out to Christopher Jobson for keeping Colossal so fresh and exciting.) I can’t wait to build this baby with my husband, name him, and then greet him every day and night.
I spotted this beautiful balloon lamp on Instagram and I immediately knew I had to have it. Sammy assembled it a few nights ago and set it up in our living room. Let me just tell you, people, that this thing is even more beautiful in person. It gives off the perfect amount of light! It’s playful and perfect. (The pictures don’t do it justice.)
If I had to choose just one item that I love THE MOST at our shop, Skylar Yoo, it would be this…the pink faux fur coat. I’ve given out six of them out to my friends. (Our model loved it so much, we gave her one!) I wear this coat almost every day. (It gets chilly in our office and the mornings…brrrrr!) Gals, let me tell you that this will be the softest thing in your closet…and it keeps you extra warm and toasty! I wear it dolled up with a dress or down with a black tee and jeans. It feels like you’re being hugged by a teddy bear. Right now it’s on sale for $99 (from $149). We only have a limited supply so when they’re gone, they’re gone! (Not to sound sales pitchy but I’m telling you I swear by this coat!)
I’m excited to announce to that we just launched a whole new set of clothes for you die-hard Skylar Yoo fans. Five new women empowerment tees with designs such as Woman Power and Wild Woman are now available in our shop but that’s not the exciting part. I’M SUPER THRILLED TO SHOW YOU OUR NEW JACKETS AND DRESSES! They are beyond beautiful.
Above: In pastel rainbow stripes, this head-turner is aptly named the Unicorn dress.
Hello, I’m Alice Yoo! I’m founder and CEO of Skylar Yoo, a company dedicated to inspiring and empowering women to be bold. We sell apparel, art prints and accessories to the modern feminist.
In my former life, I was editor-in-chief of the art and culture blog My Modern Met, which I founded back in 2007. I curated and wrote about art, design and photography for more than seven years. (In fact, I published over 7,000 articles which were seen by millions of people worldwide.) I’m also co-author of a book called For Love: 25 Heartwarming Celebrations of Humanity, which is on Amazon and wherever books are sold.
I live in southern California along with my husband and my two toddler boys.
This blog is about what I love, the tough experiences that I’ve learned from, and my journey as a second time entrepreneur. Right now, I’m in the midst of a 365 day challenge, to read one book a day. If you share my passions or want to learn some cool new facts, come along for the ride. I hope to inspire, educate and entertain you!