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,


for soul songs, kindred spirits and serendipitous days,


for those who smile despite their circumstances,


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

Spirit | Destiny



Beauty lies in a spirit come alive, in the way light

cascades out our eyes

and things begin to grow.

Things like heart, art and soul.




What is more beautiful than a girl who feeds her spirit first?




For a full spirit can’t hide;

it pours out of souls the way

rainbows pour out of the grey.




So inhale in the fire of desire.

Let it fuel you,

feed you,

free you.




~ Sufey



3rd degree black belt & taekwondo champion