Retiring Thirty Years Early

Truth Byte #45


 “Pushing yourself makes things harder.”


This month, my parents visited.  They live in a different city, so having them in town is a huge treat.  Whenever they arrive, there is laughter and joking and a whole lot of crazy-indulgent gifts for the kids.  Nani and Grampa come for a week or two, and I get to relax.   All those big plans of what I would do when I had unlimited babysitting hours get pushed aside as I catch up on my fair quota of sleep, meals prepared by someone else, and long, late night conversations.  They remind me that it’s okay to just be, without a screen, or a book, or a task to complete.


And without any guilt.


I remember when I was a kid, and my mom and stepdad were just as busy as I am now.  They flitted and fluttered around at their jobs and our activities and their full social and religious calendars.  I remember my mom dropping onto the couch exhausted after dinner every night, and falling asleep before our family sitcom had reached the first commercial.  I remember my stepdad filling our weekends and school-breaks with adventures to the mountains, and watched him as he brought his files along to squeeze in a little bit of work where he could.


Every year, my grandma would visit us.  We called her Nanimaa.  She would mostly just sit on her favourite spot on the couch, and hum sweetly under her breath while she clinked her prayer beads.  And every single weekday at four o’clock, my non-English-speaking grandma would ask us to turn on the TV for her so she could watch The Young and the Restless.  Nanimaa moved slowly, and smiled deeply.  Her hand-skin was wrinkled like a soft, paper-thin elephant and she told the most intricate yet humorous stories about her childhood.


Nanimaa showed me, as my parents are showing my kids now, that life doesn’t have to be so busy and serious all the time, and that home could be a place to just be.  She did not push herself, and she did not force herself or us in any way, at any time.


My parents, now grandparents, are living that life now.  Even though my step-dad still runs his accounting practice, his approach to work is so much more relaxed.  He doesn’t take on the high-demand clients anymore.  He has learned to take regular holidays, and doesn’t bring work to the dinner table or on vacation.  My mom has relaxed too.  She has gone back to school in a completely different field for the pure love of learning, and is acing her classes alongside people younger than her children.


I always looked forward to old(er) age, because I thought that was when I would finally get to retire. Or at least relax.  But in the last few months, I have had an epiphany.  I don’t have to wait another thirty or forty years to stop pushing myself!


I could just stop pushing now. 


At first, that created panic in me.  I thought if I stopped pushing, my business would fall apart, my house would be in chaos, and my family would be eating microwave popcorn for dinner every night.


What I have found to be true is actually the exact opposite. 


When I stopped pushing, I stared allowing.  Opportunities that I would never have noticed started to drop into my lap.  Things that seemed hard either fell away or suddenly became manageable because I was brave enough to ask for help without thinking it meant I had failed in some way. I was happier and more connected, and so my friendships deepened and grew.  People I would have walked by before, now became fascinating co-collaborators and mentors.  And like my grandma, there was one daily thing I became totally serious about and dedicated to.  For her it was her soap opera (and through it, learning English), and for me, it’s dancing (and through it, releasing those endorphins I need to maintain positive mental health).


I have learned, in a very short time, the power of relaxing.  I have learned the importance of my home as a sanctuary.  I have learned that pushing creates illness and tension and rifts between people.


And I wanted to tell you that so you could test it out for yourself.


This week, I challenge you to stop pushing.  I challenge you to allow Life’s river to pull you along to the next restful moment instead of always pushing against the current.  If something is hard, maybe it can wait till later, until you have the energy and enthusiasm to do it, or until help arrives.  You may be really surprised how it really can all work itself out when you stop trying to control it all.


Watch our YouTube Show, Today is Your Day to start crafting the life you have always wanted, free from the heaviness of pushing too hard, and let me know if you live in the Vancouver are want to join our Get Happy Club!


Let Someone Else Clean your Toilet


Truth Byte #17: It’s time to re-set.

Yesterday, I hired a house cleaner.  After years of complaining about dirty toilets, I finally figured out I could simply pay someone else to solve that one for me.

Let’s back-track a minute. 

I come from an immigrant family.  Sure, we speak English fluently and we know how to barbeque and sometimes people call me and my siblings coconuts (you know, brown on the outside, white on the inside..?) but the truth is, my family’s transition from “back home” to “the West” has left deep imprints on our family psyche.  And one of the things that children of immigrant parents quickly learn is that there are certain things that we are willing to pay for, and other things that we would rather do ourselves to save a few dollars.

One example of this is taking a taxi.  Taxis have always been a huge indulgence for our family.  Why pay someone to drive you when you can just walk (for hours, but who is counting?), take the bus (with all the stressors and missed connections that involves), or get a ride from someone (back in the days when we had huge in-person social networks and very few families in our circle owned a car).  The taxi-driver friends of ours had never actually used a taxi themselves, they saw it as an unnecessary indulgence.  Unless, of course, they were driving their family members somewhere, and the meter was turned off!

Another example of unnecessary spending was having a cleaner.  I remember Sunday mornings as a mixture of dread, achievement, and exhaustion. We would sleep in as late as we could, only to be woken by my tired mother who had been up for hours already and would get us to help her clean the house.  We would tidy and scrub and disinfect and replace until finally, around 6 pm, my siblings and I would fall on the couches exhausted.  Our reward was always a made-for-TV movie, often with pizza.  You see, my mom could justify spending money on pizza (feeding her children), but not on hiring someone to do a job she felt completely capable of doing (with her army of helpers, that is!) And I don’t blame her.  I know many single moms on welfare that make that same decision every week, as did my mom, a woman doing her utmost to give her kids everything she could while living on a government-supported shoestring.

So we grew up poor, and we grew up pretending not to be poor.

Today is my re-set.

Today is the day where I say it’s actually more profitable for me to hire a cleaner than do it myself.  Today is the day I can say I can spend my time much more productively doing things other than disinfecting.  Today I can choose to snuggle up with my husband for some TV reward time rather than falling into bed exhausted from a day of cleaning a house.  Today, I go from being the daughter of an immigrant mom who had to work damn hard for every dollar she earned, to becoming even more deeply Canadian, raised to believe I can have whatever I am willing to work for, and help others benefit from my success by giving them a job.  (Not to say all Canadians have cleaners! But really, you should think about getting one…)

Today is my re-set.

And maybe it’s time you had a re-set.  There may be some old values that you are holding on to just because they have always been around in your family, like “why pay for something when you can do it yourself?”, or “how can I get a deal on that?”, or “struggle builds character”.  What if today, you actually challenged those old stories, and lived the life that you were really supposed to be living?  That new life has been whispering your name for months, and you keep stalling.  Today is the day to actually own your life, and introduce new, more powerful values that free you up to do what you always dreamed you would be doing.  What I am teaching my kids through hiring a cleaner is this: “Some things can be done by other people, and that makes us all more relaxed”.

What is your re-set going to be?

Join me at to start figuring out your old stories, and begin telling a new one.  Your life depends on it.

Want to Come to my Tea Party?


Truth Byte #15: The purpose of life was never work.

We are all working way too hard.  Well, most of of are.  We wake up earlier than we want to, go to bed later than we should, and drink coffee all day to keep us going.  And for what? Work.

I am tired of hearing people complain about work.

Work was never supposed to be this hard.

Do you remember those lazy summer days of your childhood? Do you remember what it felt like to just play, without any regard for time or activity?  One thing would meld into the next, at some point there would be a snack, and everybody would fall into bed feeling happy-tired.  When is the last time you had a day like that?

Read More

That’s Not Really a Tiger


Truth Byte #14: You are making it harder than it needs to be.

Life was meant to be easy and simple.  How do I know? I learned that from nature.  Nature doesn’t try so hard.  It doesn’t wrinkle it’s forehead in worry and confusion.  In nature, it’s always the path of least resistance that wins.  In the natural world, animals conserve their energy just in case they need a big burst of speed or strength.  And every so often, a tiger shows up and that gazelle runs like the wind.  But generally, the gazelles just hang out, chillin’.

Read More

Do you really know how to stop?

Do you get enough downtime? Downtime is time that is just for you where you don’t have to be doing anything, planning anything, talking to anyone or smiling and nodding. Downtime is that delicious moment when the house is clean and quiet, the kids are napping or at school, it’s too early to start dinner, and nothing good is on TV. Downtime is Sunday morning after you’ve showered and your wife hasn’t planned anything with the neighbors or the in-laws or her cousin from Malaysia that’s only here for a week. Read More