2020. We had such high hopes! It sounded so promising! We anticipated it would be a year of vision, clarity, growth, innovation and accomplishment! But WHOA!! What a year it turned out to be! Hope turned to horror when we were faced with a global pandemic, which, due to the virus, spread death, confusion, fear, hardship, misinformation, shock, isolation and trauma, with no apparent end in sight. What a terrible price it exacted from us all. But the year wasn’t finished. We watched political, social, and economic divisions rupture, protests, uprisings and awakenings of conscience explode, wildfires ignite and incinerate states, and an undercurrent of disbelief and rage infiltrate our day-to-day. When I could shift my attention from running my consultancy and helping my boys with their remote learning, I reflected on my years of hardship and all I learned as a child growing up hungry in Malaysia. My experiences taught me that there are two ways of viewing every challenge and setback: as a loss or a gain. As a single mom raising two young kids at home and running multiple businesses, I often ask myself what kind of legacy I want to leave to my children when I depart this world. The year 2020 forced me to face this question straight on. We saw the fragility of life. We witnessed and experienced near-doomsday scenarios with people panicking and stock piling essential goods at groceries stores. We were confronted with quarantines, isolation, empty streets, and shuttered businesses. We watched COVID’s grim statistics rise while people’s employment and income dwindled and disappeared. And then George Floyd was deprived of breath and life, and protests erupted in our streets, in our consciousness, and in our hearts. And there I was, ALONE, doing my best to raise two young sons. My fervent wish is that someday I will see them grow to become men of good character and integrity. I know that everything I model for them, in good times and in bad, fortifies their foundation and value system. I want to lead by example and show them how to have compassion for others, to take only what they need, to stay calm in a storm, to live in gratitude for what they have, to above all be kind, and to always have confidence without ego, strength balanced by gentleness, and wisdom that shines through the heart. And so we met the challenges of each day, living in that state of uncertainty and unknowing, and focusing on thriving in our surviving. We did not hoard toilet paper; we always had enough food stored in our teeny refrigerator; and we were (and still are) our own private COVID pod! Our apartment is barely bigger than our teeny refrigerator, but we are cozy, safe and healthy there together. An awful lot happens in those close, restricted quarters. I work from home running my businesses and logging 100+ hour weeks, holding zoom meetings with clients, strategizing and designing against deadlines, all while helping orchestrate my boys’ remote learning education and after-school activities. This past year has helped turn me into a SUPERWOMAN. Yup. I’m owning it. In spite of and maybe even because of it all, I am still very hopeful. After all, when we cut through all the noise and strip away the extraneous, we get down to what is most important in our lives. For me, it is truth, love, honor and family. I know that must sound like some cheesy Disney (Mulan) movie, but those are the core tenets/principles that my parents instilled in me as a child and that guided me and my sweet boys through a very challenging 2020. Whenever I have to make extremely difficult decisions, whether they are personal or business related, I measure everything against those core tenets: am I acting with integrity and living in honesty and truth; are my decisions based on love or fear; and am I bringing honor, stability and happiness to my family? Call me a traditionalist, but when I follow those tenets, everything else falls into place. They guide my interactions with clients, peers, friends, and of course my children. We all go through hard times. I remember days when I barely had $2.00 to my name and couldn’t afford food for my little ones following a messy divorce. But I had my values and the resilience of having already survived multiple recessions and watching my parents going bankrupt. I knew I had the drive and inner resourcefulness to come back from nothing and provide what we needed to not only survive but to THRIVE. Now it is 2021, a year that began with an ugly insurrection but has shifted to offer a glimmer of light and real hope for my family, my country, and undoubtedly the world. I probably seem like a perpetual CAN-DO woman. But really, I look around and draw inspiration from everyone around me. We are all one another’s heroes, doing the heroic thing of getting ourselves and one another through to the next day, and the next, and the next. There are the Uber/Postmate drivers who drive multiple shifts while holding a day job. There are the moms who work at night after taking care of their little ones all day. There are the frontline grocery workers, the eldercare caregivers, the doctors, the nurses, the teachers, police, firefighters, and EMTs all doing the essential work and rising above the fray. Everyone is an intrinsic part of our survival and renewal, lifting our communities so that we can have some semblance of a “normal” life. Everyone has been transformed by this collective experience and has unleashed their own superpowers, discovering internal strength they never knew existed. It is that persistent drive to improve upon our environment, to make the world better than when we started that makes me wake up every day. That is why I HUSTLE like there is no tomorrow. I embody the tenets I live by, I work hard, and I trust I am instilling the awareness in my children that if there is a will, there’s always a way. At a time of so many losses in the world, these examples, these lessons, these moments of inspiration are real gains.