Five Reasons Why I LOVE Living In America…

I hope you enjoyed the cookouts and fireworks of 4th of July yesterday.  But to me,  it’s much more than just fireworks and cookouts.  As an immigrant, it’s truly very special for me.   As you might have read in my biography, my family and I were just a few of the hundreds of thousands of Boat People who escaped Vietnam after the Fall of Saigon.  It was traumatic for a young child but ultimately helped make me the  person I am today. I am grateful for the love, dedication, and hard work of my parents from the moment we arrived.  My mother found a job within the Singapore refugee camp the day after we arrived there as well as in New Orleans in the early 80’s landing her very first job within a few days of our arrival.  Believe me, that job was not glamorous.  She was peeling shrimp all day and would come home smelling like fish.

No matter how much my mother washed and bathed herself to clean up, she still smelled like the shrimp factory she was working at.  Since my 2 younger sisters and I and my parents shared a small bedroom at the time, I sometimes found myself moving into the closet to sleep instead.   Now, looking back, I feel terrible and very guilty about it.  My father also worked various low paying jobs, from bagging groceries to McDonalds as well as pumping gas, all while going to computer school at night to get a degree.  Such strength and a great example of hard work.  That is why every time I go to the grocery store and see an older man bagging, I always tip him well and smile at him with respect as it often reminds me of what my father went through.

Manhattan Night
Manhattan Night

Today, we are all here, healthy, happy and living in the US and are so very proud to be American citizens.   I want to share with you how appreciative and honored I am to be an American.  There are so many reasons why America is so great and that includes a huge support for women as well as animals among many others.  But I have narrowed it down to 5 top reasons why my family and I love it here in the US, from our very own experiences, as well as those of my friends who are also immigrants from other parts of the world.  The reasons may seem obvious in some ways, but after all that I have been through, they are something that I would never take for granted.  I hope this list will remind you how blessed we are to be living in America.  As always, I would love to hear your feedback!

FREEDOM – As a child my freedoms were severely limited as we were often in hiding from authorities or moving from place to place while attempting to escape from Vietnam and also being a young girl.  There is only so much you can or can not do.  Now, as an adult and as an Asian American female living in the US, I have all the freedom in the world to express myself, do what pleases me, and so much more.  Sometimes, perhaps too much freedom. (smiles)

Bustling Times Square, NYC
Bustling Times Square, NYC

OPPORTUNITY – In my professional career, I have been fortunate enough to work in advertising, PR, and marketing; fashion, retail, and hospitality as well as the creative arts; government; education; real estate; and the nonprofit sector.  In my spare time, I love hosting parties, dancing, traveling, learning about other cultures, cooking and experimenting with foods, gardening, photography, Yoga, meditation, reading, drawing, writing, and spending time with my loved ones.  And that’s not even the complete lists!  My point is that there are so many opportunities around me here in this country that I could spend my whole life learning and trying new things.  No wonder I always look forward to waking up to a new day.

DIVERSE CUISINE – Have I mention that food is one of my passions?  Of course I have!  And as much as I strive for healthy eating, I also enjoy a bit of indulgence (sweets are a favorite) and I truly love exploring food from other cultures.  I have been to many places around the world, but no single country has as many different dining options as the US, especially in the major cities.  Some of my favorites are Greek, Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, French, Lebanese, and much more…

Bryant Park, NYC
Bryant Park, NYC

EDUCATION – I think this is the best part, from daycare, to pre-k, to elementary, to high school, to college, to trade schools as well as in the areas of the arts and online education.   There is no limit on where you can get a good education.  It just takes hard work, focus, and being driven to achieve something if you really want it badly.  My siblings and I paid our way through college working part time jobs and through government loans.  My parents could only afford to give us money for books as it was not easy to take care of 7 children while making such low incomes.

PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT – The self-improvement industry in the US is worth multi-billions of dollars every year.  From Dale Carnegie to Oprah, it seems that everyone wants to share, wants to get help and support, physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually for their personal life as well as professional.  Whatever it is, you name it, and you can get help in it!  Everywhere you look, there is a coach, a therapist, a counselor, an advisor for any areas in your life that you would like to improve.  Not all of it is useful, but the great part is that as Americans we are constantly being presented with opportunities to help ourselves and make our lives better.  This is so opposite of my cultural upbringing where you just let issues sit hoping that time will heal wounds.  A lot of this has to do with losing face and pride and always worrying about looking good in front of others rather than ourselves.  I have engaged myself in many self-improvement programs, courses, and techniques over the years to make my life more productive, more balanced, and free of stress, and I am always open to learning and growing as well as seeking inspiration from those around me.

The calmer side of Manhattan's Battery Park
Battery Park, the calmer side of Manhattan

I strive to make everyday a better day than yesterday and I always look forward to the next.  Currently, I am very inspired and motivated by teachings of the Bible, words of inspiration from Joel Osteen and Deepak Chopra as well as the Dalai Lama.  Other inspirations include applying honest communication wisdom from Steven Gaffney, healthy eating tips from Dr. Berg, and guided meditation sessions with Richa Badami, and lastly, on the business front, I love the teachings and knowledge of Alan Weiss!  These days, my yoga practice and my personal time is very important to me.  They help me get centered and more self aware of who I am, why I am here in this life, and stay focus on what my life’s purpose is…to bring love, harmony, beauty, happiness, and prosperity to all those around me.

P.S. New York City has been a place of hope and new opportunity for so many immigrants and it is one of my favorite places to go. Hope you enjoy the photos I took from one of my previous trips.  As always, keep writing to me and share.  I enjoy that very much.  xo….tu-anh

Want to Stay Energized and Productive at Work? Clean Up Your Diet!

About 7 years ago, I was in the best shape ever when it came to my outer appearance: 5 foot 3 inches,  110 pound beach body- but I had one major problem.  As healthy and polished as I looked on the outside, I was not exactly healthy on the inside.

Why?  Well, to start,  I would get one or two head colds in a given year that would drag out for a month, taking away weeks of my work and life productivity, and my seasonal allergies were even worse!

To make a long story short, I met Dr. Eric Berg who completely changed my diet and my relationship with food.  What I discovered from him was that I was overworking my body and stressing it out.  Working 60+ hour weeks in heels, going dancing and hosting social gatherings at least four nights a week , drinking champagne, indulging in sweets (chocolates and pastries are my favorites), and sleeping less than 5 hours per night was taking its toll.  That lifestyle made me so tired that I would consume on average at least 5 cups of coffee within 24 hours to stay awake and energized.  No wonder I was always sick!  I deserved it, though, because I was not taking care of my body or giving it the right fuel to keep moving.  I went from one extreme to the other, being hyper and full of energy one moment and completely drained the next.  My family and close friends would joke that I was such an actress because it seemed fake to them, but it actually was all real.  It was how I felt at that time.  Some days at work and after lunch, I wished I could take a quick siesta just like when I was in Mexico or Vietnam to get my energy back.

After this complete overhaul, my life changed.  I have not had a cold for more than 5 years (or really been sick at all) and today, I probably have more energy than a bunch of teenagers put together!  Okay, maybe I am exaggerating a bit, but you get the point.

There are many suggestions I can give you from personal experience that would help improve health and energy level and the relationship you have with food, but doing so would entail me writing a book to share all the details.  For now, check out my typical daily diet below for when I am not traveling abroad. (I love food and culture, so when I do go abroad, I am not very disciplined when it comes to what I eat.  I like to try everything, even when I know it’s not the best for my body!)  Here we go…

breakfastBREAKFAST- After my morning rituals and cup of coffee (see #5 from last week’s blog) with just 2% milk, I would go for scrambled eggs with sprinkles of cheddar cheese, a banana, or a yogurt parfait.  (See photo  to the right.)  I like to put it in a wine glass because presentation is important to me, and I think it makes everything taste better.  What is in it?

Nonfat Greek yogurt, granola, sunflower seeds, fresh blueberries, and fresh strawberries.  Keep it simple and all natural, and organic is even better!

appleMID MORNING SNACK – Have you heard that an apple a day keeps the doctor away?  It’s true! I actually eat at least one apple a day and up to about 8 each week.  Apples are great for you and they don’t have that much sugar.  It is the one fruit that Dr. Berg said I could eat unlimited quantities of without worrying about the sugar.

minced chicken salad

LUNCH – I love salads! Especially during the warm weather days.  They are so light and fresh.  Even when I eat alone, I still make sure the presentation looks good because it makes me happy and helps me to enjoy my meal.  (See photo to the right for my spicy minced chicken salad) What is in it?

Fresh lettuce, fresh mint leaves from the garden,  Persian cucumbers, red onion, pepper, salt, fresh lemon squeezed on top, chili powder, and cilantro, one of my favorite herbs.  Oh don’t forget the cooked minced chicken,too!  The drink is actually unsweetened organic cranberry juice with sparkling water mixed.  The roses are from my garden to add a nice visual touch.

almondsAFTERNOON SNACK- Almonds,some raisins and other nuts!  It’s so easy, just pick out ones that are raw and unsalted.

salmon dinnerDINNER- Salmon!  Easy to cook – (see photo) Grilled with sea salt, garlic powder, butter, and fresh dill on top.  Another option I like is grilled shrimp and scallops on skewers and fresh cucumbers.  Same flavoring and for some sweetness, use honey instead of sugar.  I love fish and seafood and I only really eat red meat about once a week.  I also use fresh lemon in everything.  It’s good for you.

green tea boxWHAT TO DRINK – Water, hot green tea with nothing in it (see photo to the left for one of my favorite teas to help keep my immune system up), two small cups of coffee (one in the morning and one in the afternoon), and unsweetened cranberry juice mixed with sparkling water.

I hope what I shared at least somewhat inspires you to start on a new path of healthy eating and living. I don’t get tired after lunch anymore and I have so much energy sometimes that I don’t know what to do with myself!  I may not have the perfect 110 pound beach body like my 34-year-old self, but I know how confident, great and healthy I feel today.  And this, I would not trade for the world! My body feels amazing!!!!  No more toxins and “junk” that contribute to the few wrinkles on my face. 🙂

Remember, when you eliminate unhealthy food from your diet, you will not only feel better and have more energy to help your productivity at work, but you will look better.  Keep it simple and don’t over cook everything, especially your veggies; they are better for you raw.  Some of my favorite places for groceries are  Whole Foods, Healthways, Mom’s Organic Market, Trader Joes, and occasionally the Asian grocery stores to get my exotic spices and certain things that I can not get at the others.

Try it out, have fun with experimenting with the diet.  Share your stories with me and Let me know if you have any questions!  or even suggestions.  Love to hear from you.  And for next week’s post, let’s talk about relationships, everyone’s favorite topic…