I first picked up knitting needles in college, when a classmate taught me how to knit a scarf. I found the craft soothing once I got the hang of the knit stitch, but then quickly became bored as I just kept going back and forth, back and forth (and as most of us know, scarves are rather long…). This scarf was an on-again, off-again project for roughly 7-8 years.
Prior to moving to Denver, I finally completed this scarf and reignited my interest in knitting and met a couple of like-minded individuals who also knit. I bravely ventured into circular knitting, but double-pointed needles (DPNs) intimidated me.
Hello 2020 — as everyone has continued to emphasize, it’s not only the start of another New Year, but also a new decade.
2019 was a series of challenges and important lessons learned, both professionally and personally. Only in the final weeks of the year did I realize that I have had this website and blog for over ten years (launched this website in early 2009).
Feels like for the past week (or perhaps the whole month), everyone has been reflecting upon this past year….including myself.
I admit, this year was one of the more challenging years for me. I found myself getting caught up in some aspects of my professional life that—while teaching me a lot—also drained me.
It was my third year in business with Hashtagitude, and I felt that I “needed” to be at a certain level, reach a certain milestone. Turns out that even trying to keep up with the hypothetical Joneses in the professional realm doesn’t do anyone any good.
I have already mentioned over on my Instagram account, but I am honestly tired of the whole “hustle” mentality so much of the entrepreneurial world has been obsessed with these last several years. I found myself hustling way too much this year and now, sitting here on the eve of 2018, realize that I was working for not too much in return.
I didn’t forget about what’s most important to me, but I did neglect to devote time to those things.
This next year, I am focusing on simplicity, balance, and alignment. Slowing down—clearing out my calendar so that I have more room to enjoy what matters most to me. This isn’t to say that my business will take a backseat, but I will be working on other areas of my life more intently.
Here’s to more joy and balance in 2018 (and, perhaps, more blog posts here again).
I realize now that that was only part of the story.
In mid-2013, I closed down my first business, TAOpivot. During that summer, I was in flux about what my purpose in my life, my career was. Although I hit up the first annual SXSW V2V anyway, I realized that I no longer had much to talk about in terms of what I did for work. I was embarrassed.
And even though I started my second business (Ms. Kwong’s Baked Goods) shortly thereafter, I still didn’t feel like this was in alignment with what I wanted my career to look like. Don’t get me wrong: I loved baking, but it didn’t feel right for me in terms of a long-lasting career.
Therefore, I avoided social or networking events in the Denver area. I was uninterested in doing a 30-second pitch on what my business was about, because I knew I didn’t have the passion for it. So instead of fumbling along with the facade, I just opted out of attending many events. Hence, my absence in the Denver business and startup communities.
Since Hashtag Hustler has been officially established at the beginning of 2015 (I say that HH actually began in mid-2013 as well, but I didn’t have the full-fledged business concept fleshed out until this year), I have felt more encouraged to attend more events in town, to spread the word about my new, better-aligned business. Because I haven’t been so active in the business community the past two years, of course people don’t quite know me nor HH yet.
Luckily, my confidence is building back up from rock-bottom: I am ready to show Denver (and the world!) that Helene and Hashtag Hustler are ready to get back into the groove and build up business relationships again.
My Ignite Denver talk from 2013: you can listen to my voice in this video and see what I’m talking about.
Tonight I went to the First Friday Art Walk on Santa Fe Drive in Denver with Ryan: it was his first time going to the art walk, despite the fact that he’s lived in Denver longer than I have. I hadn’t been back to a First Friday since mid-2012: I used to go with my friends from DU when we were still in school.
At the first studio we went to, we were greeted by the proprietor and then she immediately said to me, “My, you have a deep voice.”
Sigh. First off, how is that a way to greet patrons? She might have meant for it to be just an observation, but it offended me and got me thinking about the many other times others have said things about how “unique” my voice is.
It’s as if they can’t fathom the idea that me, a Chinese woman, would have a “deep” voice instead of…what? What kind of voice do they expect for me to have? A shrill, high-pitched voice because that’s what I’m “supposed” to have?!
I just don’t understand why people feel the need to point out this fact about me as if it’s something I can easily fix. I was born with this voice, this body type, this everything–how do you expect for me to change something that is unchangeable?
On the flip side, I have also received comments from others about how wonderfully unique my voice is: a family friend once said that I have a “radio voice” that is very soothing.
I am proud of my voice and how I speak: I would never change it for anybody else. I just wish that people would accept this fact and also keep a filter when it comes to what they say to others.