Adventure #3: Nhi Le

“Success is when opportunity meets readiness.”

Nhi Le  |  Photographer  |  31  |  @noyocreative

Nhi is the very definition of a gentleman.
He picked me up at 6 o’clock sharp with a big smile on his face and a solid plan of action.

I, being new to Vancouver (and a huge fan of Nhi’s work), was super excited to adventure with him.
He just grinned: “I was in your shoes three years ago. I didn’t know anyone either — I’m happy to pay it forward.”

As we strolled down Beaver Lake Trail, I was hooked on his captivating tale:
At fourteen, he was left in Toronto to raise his younger sister alone. “I had to really hustle.
I learned the value of working hard,” he said. “If you don’t see results, work harder.”

And hustling paid off: He skipped — not one, not two, but — three grades. Finished his Masters of Medical Biophysics. Supported his little sister all the way to university. He was doing well… But it wasn’t always easy. “At one point of my life, I was in a research lab and hated what I was doing. I went through a big breakup. And I decided I need to physically move.”

He packed up his bags and moved to New York. Took up photography. Took a pay cut.
“When you’re passionate about something, you make compromises.
That’s the reality you face as an artist— it’s a lot of grinding, but it’s worth it. I knew I had to pay my dues.”

And following his heart also paid off: he runs two kickass companies now, one in New York and one in Vancouver.
He’s booked to the brim. He’s built up a huge community of fans. And he still loves to shoot for fun.

And fun was what we had. We climbed up trees, admired the ducks and took time to smell the roses.
We settled on Third Beach and watched a magnificent sunset — reds and golds streaked through the sky.
And when our tummies couldn’t wait any longer, we finished off the night with an exquisite vegetarian meal at Heirloom.

“I’m hungry,” Nhi shared. “I can always do better.
There’s no ceiling in business and there shouldn’t be. I always have to up my game.”

And that, truly, is the spirit of success.
A thirst for growth. A will to work. A gleeful delight in it all.

I’m hungry too.

 

Adventure #2: Sophie Hsin

“When you have the knowledge that you are really, really loved, you live life a different way.”

Sophie Hsin  |  Artist  |  25  |  @sophie_hsin

I first found Sophie on Instagram, where her stunning (seriously, stunning) artwork captured my heart.
Her use of white space, meticulous creativity and vivid concepts inspired me day-after-day.

So when I met up with her, I was surprised by how incredibly open, down-to-earth and humble she was.
No fancy, no frills. All real.

Originally from Taiwan, Sophie moved to Vancouver less than a year ago.
She was torn  she had just finished medical school, but knew deep down that she wanted to be an artist.
So she dropped everything to chase a dream. “I felt so hopeless in hospitals. I wanted to create.
Sometimes I think I’m crazy, but I have to keep going. There’s no going back for me.”

We spilled open our hearts on Sunset Beach, and I dove layer after layer into her intriguing life.
She’s a pianist, violinist and guitarist. She sings at soup kitchens with her church.
She teaches art therapy to autistic children. And one day, she wants to write books for kids.

She pulled out Eric Carle’s “Mr. Seahorse” and I giggled I had never seen that in a purse before.

Coming from similar backgrounds, we reminisced on our traditional Asian upbringing (and our resulting perfectionist tendencies). She told me stories of scootering down sketchy streets to visit the Ming Tombs and I admired her the way I would a (much cooler) older sibling.

When we left, the sun had already set. We took the bus home and hugged as we parted.

Something she said lingered on in my mind:
“Be bold about trying new things. You never know what’s going to happen.”

And I thought, “That’s the best part.”

Dear Universe:

for the high, high heights we strive to reach,

sufey

for soul songs, kindred spirits and serendipitous days,

sufey

for those who smile despite their circumstances,

sufey

Thank you.

***

Gratitude is the key to happiness.

I am thankful for who I am; for what I have seen, felt, and loved. It’s easy to lose ourselves amidst the chaos of life. Through Dear Universe posts, I remind myself to take time every day to slow down, appreciate, and enjoy the beauty of each moment.

I post often on Facebook here and here, and Twitter as well. Do join in the conversation!

All my love, joy & happy thoughts to you! <3

~ Sufey

Reach ~ Fernanda Lai

I hope I never stop falling in love
With the veins that run through leaves
And all over my body, rushing with
Strength. That allows me to stand.
Tall,
Until the end of my days.
Then may my arms slowly fall in grace,
Until there is a cascade of leaves
Kissing the surface of the Earth,
A tessellation of memories,
Their endless murmuring
Of a life well-lived, and so rich
In blessings
That even when fall comes,
Their gentle descent
Is one of endless giving.

~ Fernanda Lai

***

fernanda-laiFERNANDA LAI is a 17 year old girl from Hong Kong who’s aim in life is to be a ray of sunshine! She believes happiness is an essential human right. She loves yoga, chocolate, writing, books and rain. For more of her eloquent writing, visit her blog!

Green Goodness | Juicing 101

“Let food be thy medicine, and let thy medicine be food.” – Hippocrates

Our bodies are truly magnificent creations.

We are made to survive. We have epic armies fighting battles in our bods to keep us happy and healthy. And these hard-workin’ germ-whoopin’ wellness warriors need our support!

Our greatest responsibility is to keep ourselves bright, inspired and ablaze with life, because our energy affects everyone around us. After all, we can only give to others if we give to ourselves!

So take some time today to check in with yourself: physically, mentally and emotionally. Listen carefully to the signals sent to you by those on the front lines. Dis-ease is a sign of imbalance in the body, and prevention is the best cure!

Nourish your body with nature’s best. Sleep well. Soak up sunshine. Smile!

One ritual that empowers me is starting off every day with thoughts of gratitude, meditation, yoga, hot ginger tea and a fresh green juice (recipe below!).

Personally, I love juicing. It’s a fabulous way to get an abundance of nutrients that we may not consume otherwise, and it makes me feel fresh and clear. I could rave about this forever, but try it for yourself and see how you feel over the course of a few weeks! :D

Think of this superjuice as the ultimate multivitamin, courtesy of dear mama earth. All you need is a juicer, fresh greens, and an honest heart-to-heart with your inner guru about how you want to live the best life for you.

And regardless of whether you decide to juice or not, just make time to re-connect with your beautiful bodies. That’s the most important thing!

Wishing you health and happiness, from the bottom of my heart to yours. <3

Sufey

INGREDIENTS:

I like to mix and match from:

  • cucumbers
  • celery
  • kale
  • broccoli stems
  • lettuce
  • spinach
  • dandelion greens
  • asparagus
  • cabbage
  • bok choy
  • parsley
  • cilantro
  • ginger
  • small piece fruit if needed (lemon, green apple, pear or cranberries)

Sample combination:

  • 1-2 cucumbers
  • 3-4 stalks kale
  • 2 broccoli stems
  • 1 apple
  • ginger
  • a kick-ass attitude!

**Note: My staple juice is made purely out of green veggies and ginger. But if you don’t typically consume a lot of raw veggies, I recommend starting with a pure cucumber juice or a cucumber/ apple mix (which is deliciously refreshing) and slowly adding darker greens as you go to get used to the taste. You may also want to dilute the juices with filtered water if they are too strong to begin with. Always listen to how your body feels!

Lemons cut bitterness and apples and pears add sweetness to juices. But keep your juices mostly green to prevent sugar overload from sweet fruit juices. Also, as juicing removes the fiber, which concentrates both nutrients and pesticides, be sure to buy organic and rinse well!

For optimal results, consume immediately on an empty stomach. Let’s get started! :D

DIRECTIONS:

Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly.

Cut thick veggies in half or thirds lengthwise if needed (depending on the size of your juicer’s mouth).

Push all produce through juicer slowly, alternating different types of veggies. To make it easier, push loose leafy vegetables (e.g. spinach) in at the same time as another firmer vegetable (e.g. cucumber).

Drink up delicious vitality, a delicious day! :D

**Note: Clean the juicer immediately to make it easier for yourself. I push my lemon through last to pre-clean, rinse all the pieces right away, and use dish sponges or old toothbrushes to scrub the filter well!

PS. Thank you to beautiful Éva for inspiring this piece by asking me about juicing. I am certainly not a health expert of any kind, but I am always open to questions and happy to share the little I do know. So feel free to ask me anything, and I’d love to learn from you too!

CHEERS to our healthy, wealthy lives! <3

Party in Paradise | Raw Cake in a Cup

“This tastes like what people eat in paradise!” – My roomie, professional food magician

(It’s true! He is very, very talented at making my desserts disappear).

But in all seriousness, this tastes incredible. Like food-gasmicly, bliss-bloominly, triple-unicornly phenomenal. Forget my other recipes. Make this one. You won’t regret it, I promise.

The crust in this cake is nuttily sweet, slightly salty, and simply divine layered with a creamy coconut cashew filling. I originally made this with a blackberry topping, but it was devoured before I could whip out my camera. So I re-created this with a ripe kiwi, as shown in the pictures, and you can go without fruit toppings or mix it up with whatever you wish!

I highly recommend you serve this up with a side of epic dance-offs, like we did last night. Try a lick of bliss and a LOT of booty shaking! After all, a dance party a day keeps the doctor away!

So get ready to blast those beats, unleash your inner party animal, make your cake and eat it too!! :D

<3 Sufey

INGREDIENTS (makes 8 cute cups):

Layer 1, 3 & 5 (aka the best crust EVER!!):

  • 2 cups macadamia nuts
  • 1 cup dates
  • 1 cup pistachios
  • ¼ cup unsweetened shredded coconut

Layer 2 & 4 (gloriously decadent filling):

  • 1 cup cashews
  • 1 cup extra-virgin coconut oil
  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • ½ cup maple syrup or raw honey

Optional blackberry topping (the original creation):

  • 1 cup blackberries
  • 1 cup dates
  • 1 cup coconut milk

OR try different fruit toppings, like the blended kiwi shown in the picture (I just love the rich green colour)!

Garnish:

  • sliced almonds
  • gogi berries
  • LOVE!!

DIRECTIONS:

Blend all crust ingredients (macadamia nuts, dates, pistachios, coconut) in food processor and happily press a layer into bottom of cups.

Blend all filling ingredients (cashews, coconut milk, coconut oil, maple syrup) and pour on top of crusty layer.

Alternate layers of crust with filling until all ingredients are used up! Try not to eat the whole darn delicious thing at once.

Blend the topping and pour on top. Garnish with pretty lil almond slices and heaps of love!

And the most important step… dig in!! :D Bliss out, my darlings. Go wild! xo

sufeymelon

Melon Melody | A Raw Elixir

How do you like to greet the dawn? :D

My morning routine prepares me for the day: meditation in the dark, an activating yoga flow, and a feast of liquid love potions as the sun stirs.

As a surprise treat to myself today, I indulged in this delicious elixir outside under the rosy rising rays. Simple, sweet, and oh-so-satisfying!

(Because it’s the simple things that bring us the greatest joy, isn’t it? The universe provides us with everything we need, all we have to do is say YES!)

INGREDIENTS (serves 2):

  • 1 cantaloupe
  • ½ seeded watermelon
  • 1” fresh ginger root
  • 3-4 leaves fresh basil
  • 1 sprig fresh mint
  • gogi berries (for garnish)
  • generous amounts of love!

DIRECTIONS:

Blend cantaloupe and watermelon till smooth.

For super silky sweetness, strain out pulp: pour juice into cheesecloth and hold above bowl, using fingers to squeeze all that delicious magic out!

Pour back into blender and mix with ginger, basil, mint, and lots of loving energy.

Serve in cantaloupe shells and garnish with a few floating gogi berries.

Mmm… tastes like a beautiful morning! :D