Birthday post - Grateful for waking up every morning

 Portrait by  Paper Monday

Portrait by Paper Monday

Hi everyone!

Yes, I know newsletter number 2 for this week, but it is a special one as I am spending the last hour of my 25th year on this planet up and awake, here in Berlin, at my desk, doing the thing that I love doing, writing.

Naturally, as we all do in the winter time, we reflect on the things that happened, on the choices we have made and on the people we have spent time with. But not only that, I also had to think of all the things I had to let go of over the past year. And there were quite a few. 

In an earlier post, here, I mention a little bit... the changes that I went through. Leaving the running team, leaving the job, leaving New York. Major life changes. I have to say, it felt like exfoliating, especially this past year. After many moments of 'taking everything in' and rolling with it, I took the leap and said: you know what, what if I don't have to take it in. What if, there are boundaries. What about my values. And integrity. My own belief system. In the construct of the running team, and of work, at times, I felt restricted. It got to a point, where I wasn't feeling myself anymore. I wasn't feeling free, I felt stuck.

As a freedom lover and yes, as a Sagittarius as well, my guts told me to move. To move on and forward. So I did.

While the year of 25 felt a lot like saying No. No to energy that doesn't feed me. No to people who don't want my best. No to endless hours of working for others. It also felt like a year of Yes. Yes to new opportunities. Yes to life and yes to seeing the bright light again. Yes to creating my own path and yes, to opening up to and choosing the right people, my people. 

Speaking of people. Being able to refocus this past year lead me to one of the best summers of my life. The last 2-3 months in New York were amazing. Knowing... yes even before I spoke it out loud... that I was leaving, every single step and choice I made felt much more intentional. The people I spent time with, the activities I did, the places I visited. In short: I cut out the crab and elevated all the good stuff. 

My horoscope even mentioned it black on white: 'the last two years were incredibly challenging, but only so that 2019 and 2020 can flow.' Yes, I have to say I did indeed go through a ton of f***ed up shit and only kept my sanity through meditation, running, my strong (female) community and writing. Today, I am still processing, but just the other day when I thought about for example: my last relationship which ended about two years ago, all the different feelings came up again. Thinking about that time, the heartache, and then the anger, I am so thankful that I am somewhat over that big mountain of sad and bad feelings, that I can rise above, that I can shine nevertheless. 

YES, as Astrologyzone suggests, I am writing my wish list, because the past year has also been about planting the seeds. And continuing my work. And you know, I fell back in love with it. With the process of creating. With making time for it again. With making it a priority.

Work. Something I also spoke about with Bee and Rog from Paper Monday. The wonderful and intelligent human beings who captured the portrait above (listen to Bee in the current podcast episode). When I visited them in their studio in the Bronx, we spoke about my move from New York to Berlin. On how, at the end of the day, 'it doesn't really matter where in the world you live as long as you can do your work'. Hearing these words in that moment in early September, encouraged me even more to make some moves. To a (head)space and place, where I can focus on my work. 

I am one month in and I am doing it. I am already working more on my own writing, and my own projects more than ever before. I have so many plans and goals. Which leads me to another word. 

Ambition. And this portrait actually reminded me so much of this: as children, we exchanged friendship books. How it works was you literally collected profiles of your friends (and teachers if you liked them) in this book. (Lol, damn now that I think about it... like an analog Facebook!!!) E.g.: I would give my friendship book to you to fill out. You'd add an actual printed photograph, write down your nick name, favourite books, food etc. And in one of the last lines you had to write something about the person the book was from. “What do you think of when you think of Huyen?” Ambition. These are the words my English teacher from 6th grade wrote down when I gave her my friendship book. Once I received it back, I remember asking her: Mrs. Weber, why did you write down ambition? To which she replied: 'Huyen, You are ambitious. You have such a curious mind. You’re fearless and your ambition will take you far.'

Growing up and being raised as a child of immigrants, I felt like I had no choice but be ambitious. There was no way out, but to do the work (whatever it was from babysitting, waitressing, writing for the local paper, working in my parents restaurant etc.) to keep going and I didn't think about it much. I always just saw so many possibilities out there and you just had to get after them. After seeing this portrait, I thought about this wordAmbition again. What kind of meaning does it have to me now? I think I really like it now. For some reason, it does have a bad connotation as in 'Don't be too ambitious.' Something women hear a lot, but how about we change the narrative and tell women and girls that you can be ambitious, that you're allowed to have big dreams and goals? I didn't choose to be born first. To be the first of our Vietnamese community to receive a university degree. To be the first to do xyz. But at 26.. as I am finishing this in the morning of my new year.. I feel confident and feel ready to continue to lead. I am okay with leading now. There is nothing to be afraid of.

I am grateful for waking up every morning. For waking up in a time and space where change is happening. Where I am meeting so many loving and caring people. Big THANK YOU for making me feel loved every day, from wherever you are. 

It's funny that in the U.S. my birthday falls into thanksgiving weekend, I kind of like it. A lot. It's a weekend to be together, with family and friends, to also have the difficult conversations. In it, there is so much potential for growth. I am thankful for that. And I am here for the good, happy, but also for the tough and challenging conversations. For the ones that bring us forward. 

Be well and take good care. Stay up and spread kindness wherever you go!

I do have a birthday wish and if you have a spare dollar or two, I would tremendously appreciate your donation to my current fundraising campaign for the girls and mothers at Girls Gotta Run, a community and organisation dear to my heart. I am half way through!!! and hope to close the campaign within the next 10 days. Thank you to every single one of you who has already donated.

Big big love.
From Berlin to yours,



Note: This post was part of Newsletter #20 — sign up for it here.