Story time with Jackie: The Flowerless Pot

My mom told me this story a long time ago and it hangs out in my mind palace until it needs to resurface and remind me that if you are a good and honest person, things will turn out well for you.

Long ago, a king was troubled as he was trying to decide who his responsibilities and lands will be passed to as he had no heir. He wasn’t long for this world, and he wanted to ensure his kingdom would be left to someone who was pure of heart, someone who wasn’t corrupt or of ill nature. After a long time of contemplation, he held a competition that was open to all his subjects.

In one of the smaller villages lived a young man. He was poor, but he was hard working and he cared for his mother. News of the king’s competition reached their village and the young man’s mother urged him to participate. The challenge was simple enough: everyone who entered will be given a pot and all they had to do was water it and grow whatever was planted inside. The person who had the most majestic plant in one month’s time will be chosen as the king’s successor.

The young man didn’t think he would win, but he wanted to make his mother happy, so he entered and received his pot. Every day he cared for his pot. He made sure he watered it and that it received enough sun, but no plant grew. As the days went by, he became saddened and upset. No matter what he did, his plant would not grow. His mother begged him to plant their own seeds in the pot so he would be able to display something at the palace. She didn’t want her son to be embarrassed when it was time for the people to show off their hard work. The young man refused. He continued to water the pot until the very last day of the competition.

When it was time to enter the palace and present to the king, the young man clutched his flowerless pot to his chest and waited his turn. Everyone around him had wonderful flowers to display and he was filled with self-doubt and sadness. He wondered what it was he did wrong, why nothing grew no matter what he did. When it was his turn to meet the king, he took a deep breath and showed the king his pot. “I am sorry, majesty. I could not grow anything. I have failed.”

When he looked up from his pot, he saw a huge smile on the king’s face. “My boy, you shall be the next king.” The young man was confused and baffled. “How? I failed!” The king shook his head. “I want my successor to be someone who has an honest heart, and you have just that.”

The young man looked down at his pot, still confused. “But there are so many beautiful flowers to choose from. Why choose someone who couldn’t even accomplish the simplest task?”

The king laughed. “Because all the pots we sent out had no seeds! Therefore, anyone who came in with flowers was dishonest and not trustworthy. You come here with nothing, but now I shall give you everything.”

And the young man ruled, well loved and adored by all his subjects, for many years.

It’s a scary thing when you condition yourself to be who you are not

When the lies you tell yourself become a reality and begin to condition your perception, drawing you away from the person you really are. There are different reasons why people do this to themselves. Most times, I’ve found, is that people do it to protect themselves. They tell themselves that if they think a certain way and behave a certain way, they place themselves in the best position to not feel pain or hurt later down the road. Example: someone’s dream come true would be to marry the love of his/her life. Because they’ve been hurt so many times, they convince themselves that marriage is wrong for them and there is no Mr/Ms Right.

I joke around saying that I have the physical appearance of a teenager but the cynicism of a 60 year old. Somewhere along the line, the latter stopped being a joke. I actually did convince myself of certain things and recent events made me realize that I’m not the person I really am supposed to be. I want to be a hopeful person, someone who looks forward to the future (and the people in it), someone who thinks about the unknown and is fearless. I used to be that very much when I was younger but my naïveté taught me very harsh lessons.

During recent years, I became numb to matters of the heart. And I’ve recently become that way even moreso and it didn’t hit me until the last few days. That’s not really who I am though life has conditioned me to be the exact opposite of my natural self. I convinced myself that if I just shut down, then no one could really hurt me. This spans across all aspects of life, not just the romantic side. What I didn’t realize until recently is that yes, I have protected myself from a certain type of hurt but I have also exposed myself to a complete different form of it. I’m not who I want to be, who I naturally am. Essentially, I am hurting myself rather than others hurting me. So now I am taking steps in figuring out how to get back to my natural self while also protecting pieces of me that only should be shared with those who both treasure and deserve them.

And that’s me adulting right now. There’s no way around it. That’s life and that’s growing up and wanting to continue on this crazy path, trying to figure out where the adventure will lead you. Being this old does also have pros. I did have a red velvet cupcake for dinner last night. So there’s that.

What cause do you stand for?

We all have a part to play in this world. Some choose to play a positive role, some choose negative, and some prefer to be indifferent. That will always be the case so long as we have free will. To those who want to make this world a better place, I thank you. We all come from different backgrounds, and we all have had different events, experiences, and people affect us. It is an amazing thing that no two people are exactly alike in every way. There is always something that separates us, something that makes us unique, and we should embrace that. Our differences should be things we learn and grow from, not fight and bicker about constantly.

Technology and social media has allowed us to spread our beliefs and opinion across the world in a matter of seconds. In minutes, thousands can rally to a cause and provide much needed support for those in need or bring awareness to an issue that’s been swept under a rug too long.

What is painful to see are the people who rally and target others who do not share the same level of drive and passion as they do. “You don’t care about this cause? You’re heartless and you’re a horrible person” is the general concept. Just because someone doesn’t pour their entire being into something you believe, it doesn’t make them a bad person.

You support a cause that fights to get rid of domestic violence? That’s great and your efforts should be commended. And what about the person who is pouring the same amount of effort into a cause that’s directed at stopping pollution that is killing our food and water supply? Or the person that fights for gay rights? Or the person who wants to see a world where animals are no longer abused and left for dead? What about the person who hopes to see a cancer free world? And the person who wants a better education for the future generations? Or how about those who never want children to go hungry? And what of the person who does all he/she can to support our troops?  ALL of these causes have one thing in common: to make the world a better place.

Each of us will gravitate toward certain causes based upon our own life experiences. Personally, I want to see every dog in a happy home, a place where they don’t have to fear being left behind or tortured or beaten. I want families who have children diagnosed with terminal illness to be able to afford treatment. I want men to stop beating the women in their lives. I want bullies to be held responsible for the treatment they have bestowed upon others. I want misogyny to stop. I want women to be fearless when chasing their dreams. I want people who have suicidal thoughts to know they are not alone. I want my gay friends to be just as happy as anyone else.

Is a cause you stand for not in my personal list? Do you believe I am a bad person for not sharing your passion? Just because I may not have the same drive for something as you do, it doesn’t mean we both cannot work together to improve the state of our world. More than anything, I want people to have empathy. I want someone to be able to step back, look at my list, and apply some thought as to why these items are important to me. You may learn something, not just about me, but possibly of yourself as well.

Everyone has something they want to fight for. It is impossible to devote all of one’s energy and life to everything in this world that needs improvement. Exert your energy to the cause you want to see become a reality. No one fight is better than the other when the goal is the same. We may be on different teams, but we have the same dream. Let’s make this world a better place than when we first arrived, shall we?

My horrible morning didn’t dictate how the rest of my day would be, and I am grateful for that

Today started out horribly. I had my heart set on donating plasma this morning; I even woke up at 6am to beat the rush. After two hours of paperwork, tests and blood work, I was rejected. I had glucose in my system and they can’t accept that in any donation. I was heartbroken. I had no idea that I would be sent into such a sad mood. I’m the second rarest blood type, so this really put a damper on my spirits. Later today, the DMV site locked me out and I couldn’t register my car online, so I had to visit an actual DMV office. I became even more upset. Even did a vine about it all.

Be happy

But who would have thought the DMV of all places would put the biggest smile on my face?

I got my car registered just now. And the lady handed me the new plates. They looked weird only because they were a set of numbers and letters that I had never seen before and suddenly, they were mine to display for probably the next 15 years. I can’t tell you guys how incredible it felt to hold on to those thin metallic rectangles. I just thought “holy…, I bought myself a car.” I remember when I thought earning $20 for teaching piano lessons was a big deal. Now here I am, and I spent thousands on a new car that was paid for with money I earned and saved on my own. I didn’t ask for help (other than choosing the actual car) and I didn’t have to go into debt in order to pay for it. My savings and checking account are nowhere near what they used to be, but I was saving up for a car for many years, and I did it!

I feel…incredibly proud of myself. This is figuratively and literally the biggest purchase of my life and it’s really mine.

Dang.

I’m awesome at adulting. It’s time for some mf-ing cereal.

I have few memories of Monty Oum, but they are all good and treasured

All of the staff members at Rooster Teeth are so giving of their time to their fans and community that it makes you wonder how they possibly had the energy to add a unique 40+ hour job to their weeks. That can really be said of Monty Oum more than anyone else. I saw Dead Fantasy 2 first before I saw any of his other work. Even now, that video is still mesmerizing and my mind is blown every time I try to process how much creativity and effort it took to make just one of his videos.

Social media has always been a sanctuary for my mind (which is a watered down way of saying I’m addicted to it), so I naturally followed as many RT staff members on Twitter as I could. It wasn’t just their work work that was fascinating but each of them were their own person and had vastly different personalities. When you step back and see them as separate people from their camera embodiments, you see them in a whole different light. Monty in particular, however, was quite the same although it was apparent that he would have hundreds and probably thousands of 140 characters conversations if he could. It was there that I started interacting with him, and I was always surprised when he would respond back. He has admitted on more than one occasion that he wished he had more time to connect with his followers, but he hoped that pouring himself into his work for everyone’s enjoyment helped make up for that.

My first impressions of Monty (prior to personally meeting him) was that he was stoic and robotic. I thought work was all he cared about because it was all he did. But as I observed his work over time, I realized other things about him. He loved to dance, he loved macarons and Cambodian Chicken Stir Fried Curry, he affectionately trolled other RT staff, and holy shit was he fashionable. I went through my Twitter archive trying to find little interactions here and there I had with Monty. And while they were very short and fleeting moments in the grand picture of life, I cherish them. I will not hide the fact that I fangirled a tiny bit at the beginning of our friendship.

rtx

I attended RTX 2012 as a regular attendee. I wasn’t able to see everyone I wanted or get their autographs/pictures, and I missed Monty completely. That was going to change at RTX 2013.  Of course, like every RTX attendee, I was excited to head over to Austin and enjoy the festivities. So when the time came again to prepare for RT related shenanigans:

hug

I met Monty for the first time at the RT Sidequest charity auction, and I made good on my promise to hug him. I literally ran across the room, shouted his name and promptly glomped him. Part of me was afraid I would trip over something and fall flat on my face, but I was going to see someone I admired and adored, so I didn’t care. During this time, I was becoming more involved with the RT community and even hosted my first RT Vegas event. This community became my family. I saw the staff members as actual friends, fun people I could talk to and have a good time with. I don’t remember what I said to Monty, but he laughed and it was an awesome, genuine laugh. It was then that I realized how down to earth he was. Brilliant mind that he had, he was very easy to talk to. Fellow RT community member BaghdadBean caught the moment and I am beyond grateful.

kriss54cc6b521c9ce

RT Sidequest Charity Auction 2013

First impression after meeting Monty was HOLY F*** this guy dresses so much better than me. Everything he had on was utilized to perfection. I don’t even know how he came up with that collaboration, but he was classy and he wasn’t afraid to show it. It was my first time being a Guardian at RTX that year and I was honored to be chosen as part of the PA team. The ongoing joke was that Monty probably had an elaborate outfit for each day of the con. That totally was not a joke when RTX rolled around. I grabbed one final picture with him when RTX officially ended. The staff stayed behind to spend time and talk to all the Guardians when the con closed. It was their way of showing appreciation for all the work that was done over the weekend. My interaction with Monty was short, but unforgettable.

kriss51de43d6db078

Fast forward to PAX East 2014, I ran into Monty again through mutual friends and that was the first time I met Sheena. Pictures of them together cannot possibly convey how adorable they are in person. Monty was always private about his romantic life, and it was at that time I saw an affectionate side to him, so it was pretty obvious that Sheena was very special to him. He introduced us, and I remember thinking “wow… Monty Oum knows my name.” It sounds silly, but when someone you highly respect acknowledges you, there is a feeling of elation. I was helping out a friend with a Mass Effect panel and photoshoot, and Monty and Sheena mentioned they would try to stop by the shoot to say hi. They did. RT had a booth at PAX East, so they were busy, but they took the time to chat for a bit. Few words were exchanged due to time, but the gesture remained. In the back of my mind, I thought, “geez, you guys don’t have to take out of your day for someone like me. I’m a nobody” but their actions proved they never saw people in their community that way.

Then came RWBY. The team was always working late, working around the clock to meet their deadlines. There was so much love poured into RWBY, and I think I enjoyed it more than a lot of anime/animated shows out there because I essentially saw it born. I knew the talented minds behind the show and they shared quite a bit of the creative process with us. Later that year, I attended DragonCon, and I was so happy to see RWBY cosplay. RT didn’t have a presence since PAX Prime was happening at the exact same time, but I tried to remind Monty, Miles and Kerry any time I could that their work was appreciated.

rwby

Vine can be found here. The cosplayers were so happy that there was a chance for Monty to see their cosplay even if only via video. I wish Monty was there to see them in person. It was quite adorable. When I think about it, that must be a creator’s ultimate joy, no? To make something and to see people gravitate toward it, embrace it, and display their love for it in various ways.

On to RTX 2014. I was chosen as a freelancer PA, so I helped out staff wherever and whenever they needed assistance. Monty was the only one to cause me a slight heart attack. Basic summary, he had an animation panel to speak at, and he was nowhere to be found. Frantic, I was running around the convention center trying to find him while his PA stayed at the panel room in case he popped up. Head Guardian, SailorTweek caught up with me and asked me if I was okay. Frustrated, all I could yell was F***ing ASIANS! and ran off again. At least that got a good laugh. Finally, Monty text that he was going to panel room. I informed his PA to wait in the back hallways to stand by and minutes pass… she responds she still hasn’t seen him. I poke my head into the panel room, and I see someone in a blond wig sitting in the center of the stage. Apparently, Monty went through the front door. That dude loved to make an entrance.

RTX 2014 was the last time I saw him. It’s taken me a bit of time to write all this. I scroll up, reading the rough draft, and I am grateful to have these memories of him. They are so few compared to the close friends he had, so I cannot even imagine what gems they have to talk about. There will never be another Monty Oum. What he achieved in his short life, many could not achieve in three lifetimes. Not only that, but he encouraged that same type of passion, even demanded it of those he worked with. He was kind and he was also a hard ass depending on what was needed of him. He brought hope to those who were down on themselves, he motivated others when they needed that extra push. Like a sneaky ninja, he would swoop in and bring a smile to your face, then smoke bomb away for a few weeks.

pretty

He had a good sense of humor. Troll that he was…

Screen shot 2015-02-03 at 8.28.54 PM

He was appreciative when kindness was bestowed upon him even though you kinda wonder what the hell happened to his grammar (I sent macarons to the RWBY team).

unnamed unnamed-1

Most of all, he left us all with such an awe-inspiring legacy. His passion is unmatched and his influence on others is impossible to overlook. He brought out the best in everyone around him. He wanted to inspire, to create, to raise the bar each time because he wanted more than the sky’s limit. And in his short life, he achieved that. If you love him, that’s fantastic, if you don’t care for him, most likely, you at the very least respect his work. He is probably one of the most successful people I will have ever known. And he is probably one of the wealthiest. Based on the reports from RT, he was surrounded by those who loved him very much. To me, that is greater than any monetary value one can possess. To be surrounded in love, to do what you love, to be loved for what you do, and to express love to those closest to you… that is a successful life. And beyond that, he may be gone, but thousands of memories of him are being written and they are creating paths for other creative minds. That’s the Oum legacy.

And when he wasn’t tweeting about work, he showed great wisdom.

photo

One of these days, Monty, we will meet again. And I cannot wait to see what you’ve been cooking up while you were away.

When I find myself wondering why things happen as they do, I am reminded of this story

Two spirits journeyed through the human world, for one spirit was younger than the other and therefore was to learn from its mentor. They took human form and ventured out. When night came, they sought shelter at a residence that was home to an unkind, ill-mannered man. The man reluctantly invited the two spirits in, but demanded they leave the next morning. He did not share his food and he only allowed them to spend the night in the basement. The older spirit saw that a wall in the basement was falling apart, and took it upon itself to repair the wall. The younger spirit asked why bothering helping such a horrible man, and the older spirit merely replied, “things are not always as they appear.”

The next morning, the two spirits left the man’s home and it wasn’t long before night fell upon them again. This time they took shelter at a farm. The farmer warmly welcomed them, offering what little food he and his wife had. The seasons were not treating them well, but they salvaged what they could on their land and were thankful for what they had. The farmer and his wife left the two spirits stay in a second bedroom, all the while, the younger spirit continued to learn what it could from these interactions.

The following morning, the farmer and his wife were grieved to find that most of their livestock had died overnight. The younger spirit wondered why this happened, but its mentor replied “things are not always how they appear.” The farmer was saddened, but determined to make the most of what he had.

When the two spirits left the farm, the younger spirit lost its patience. It angrily shouted at the older spirit. “Why? Why didn’t you help them? Why let them suffer? They are good people, yet you help that horrible man yesterday.”

The older spirit waited until the younger spirit could say no more. “I repaired the wall yesterday because there was a great treasure hidden in that wall that the man was unaware of. He does not deserve such generosity from his ancestors.”

The younger spirit was less angry. “And why let the farmer and his wife suffer?”

“Because the angel of death came for the wife. Instead, I gave it their livestock, so they may struggle now, but they will overcome such hardships together.”

The younger spirit continued its journey with a far more open mind.

Obligatory Thanksgiving post, but seriously… thank you for being in my life and ultimately saving it

Cliche opening statement: IT’S THAT TIME OF YEAR AGAIN!

Many of us Americans celebrate today differently. Some of us get the old Christmas tree out of storage and set it up, some of us begin cooking for family and friends at 6AM, others prefer to be alone on this holiday, and some of us are camped outside retail stores to get their hands on the best deals. To non Americans, this is just another Thursday.

So for those of us who are enjoying the Thanksgiving holiday, I do want to ask you, do you spend the rest of the year being as grateful as you are today? I think it’s safe to say that I’ve hit the midpoint of my life, and there is one thing that I have been determined to do: to leave a legacy. Now making an impact in the world doesn’t mean you have to be someone who has won a Nobel Prize or become CEO of a Fortune 500 company. While that influence is amazing, you can change the world slowly in your everyday life.  Think about your decisions, how you affect people. Your existence has a very far reach whether you realize it or not. Every word you say, every gesture you make, every interaction you have influences people. As today is Thanksgiving, I want you to think about the following:

The people you are currently texting and reaching out to on Facebook/Twitter/other social media platforms… when was the last time you really had a conversation with them? Has it been a while? Why not take some time to catch up after the holidays?

How are you treating strangers?

Are you more focused on presents or people?

Are you more focused on money or family?

What are you most thankful for at this moment in life? Is it different than last year? Why?

Lots to think about, and you don’t have to comment or answer here. Those are questions I hope you take with you through not only today but every day of your life. I have come to a realization in my recent years and I have accepted the nature of my being. I am most happy when the people in my life are happy. The feeling you have now, being incredibly thankful for all that you have, please don’t lose that after the holiday season. Feel that way every day. Don’t take the people in your life for granted; don’t take what you have for granted. Feel this way every day for the rest of your life and you will feel that much more fulfilled.

And I won’t lie, going down this path is not without its hardships. It can be difficult, especially if it is not reciprocated, but trust me when I say that you personally are rewarding yourself to the fullest. Be a good person, be grateful, treat others as you would want to be treated, and be the change you want to see in this world. When you are gone (and we all will be one day), what will your legacy be? What influence will you leave behind in this world? Me, personally? I hope that I will have taught future generations empathy because my personal belief is that the world will be a much better place with it around.

I have met so many people in the last few years, and I cannot imagine my life without them. My life is enriched, it’s more fun, it’s become less empty. I have had many low days and without any regard for themselves, the people in my life have lifted me up. That bond is so precious to me and I will never be able to fully express how thankful I am for it. You guys ARE my life. So thank you.

May you always give thanks, may you always be thanked, and may you always lead a fulfilling life.

Cheers.

IMG_0459