How We Balance Work and Life for Wellness Awareness Month

Change Matrix was founded on an interest in balancing our professional careers and the value of family. We recognize the importance of taking care of our personal selves so that we can bring our best selves into our work. In honor of September’s Wellness Awareness Month, here is a glimpse into what our CM team members do to practice wellness.

Rachele – I incorporate pilates into my weekly workout schedule to help strengthen my core and practice intentional breathing. I also love taking our dog, Rusti, out for his daily walks or throwing the ball with him just to be outdoors. Oh, and I love my massages!

Suganya – I do weight training twice a week with a personal trainer, and hope to integrate more aerobic workouts over the next few months.  My guilty pleasure is long massages and I indulge in them whenever I can.

Elizabeth – I have a solid strength/cardio/stretch routine with my yoga, HIIT class and dog walking.  However, the less formal priority for me is to have some time where I am quiet. Either meditation in the morning or walking without looking at my phone or listening to music or anything other than the outside and silence.

London – I take about 20 minutes for myself each morning, between getting the kids off to school and starting my work day, to eat a balanced breakfast, sip some tea and listen to some music. I also enjoy taking walks around town or hiking with my family.

Jennifer – I schedule time to unplug and I enjoy doing pilates in evening.

Annie – Chasing around a one-year-old is currently my main physical activity. My daughter brings me such joy that I would say she is also what keeps me grounded mentally and emotionally. I also make it a habit to regularly reflect on my life and show gratitude for all that is good.

Alice – I like to make sure I always have healthy and fresh fruits and vegetables in my refrigerator. I have learned to enjoy cooking as it is healthier and it keeps my wallet a little fatter. However, I do like to go out and enjoy delicious food every now and then. 

Shannon – I walk down to the lake,  out on the dock and the great expanse of Lake Superior. I create intentions around the four parts of my being; physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Physical: I walk and do “grow young fitness” exercise and drink water. Mental: I read or learn something new each day. Emotional: connect with family and friends. Spiritual: Participate in a traditional ceremonies.

Sandra – I like to start my day with a walk in the park. When I need to feel grounded, I do yoga and meditate. When I am feeling particularly stressed, nothing is better than spin class. And when I need a longer wellness break, I head to the mountains and breathe in the fresh air. 

Kristin – Taking frequent walks! Without headphones, just a chance to breathe and look at the beauty around me. 

Tennille – I swim as often as possible now. I love the water. I can sit and stare at a body of water and feel completely at peace. Besides swimming, my husband and I try to take nightly walks. It’s our time to unwind from our day, have some quality time and get in some exercise.

Karla – I practice mindfulness throughout the day, especially when I am feeling low. I focus on my breathing and think about how thankful I am to have what I have. Feeling the essence of gratitude in my spirit makes me feel better and provides much needed perspective. This is something I try to do multiple times a day. 

Kazzy – As of late, I have been taking spiritual baths that have helped clear a lot of negative energy around and within me. This has been the perfect end to my days, relaxing and making me take time to focus on me. I try, once a day, to practice grateful journaling, where I can include a little bit of art that also helps my soul. 

Alina – Hiking!  I’m always hiking, it’s a good chance to practice shinrin-yoku, experience incredible natural spaces, and explore new places physically and mentally.  I also try to fill my body with nutrient rich foods, pet dogs as often as I can, and surround myself with genuinely good people.

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Annie’s Immigration Story: Sacrifice from China to Taiwan to the U.S.

No matter what side of the immigration and citizen debate one gravitates to, the inability of our nation’s leaders to find consensus has been distressing to watch. During one of our team meetings, we found ourselves sharing our own stories of what the word immigration means to us. We thought we’d share a little more about our team members over the course of time.

ANNIE

My immigration story begins and ends with sacrifice. At the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1949, my grandparents along with two million others fled to Taiwan. My grandpa had lost one leg during wartime. My grandma had to leave a baby behind. And together, they fled hundreds of miles on foot. 

I grew up hearing the stories of my grandparents, who endured the extreme conditions of post-war life and poverty. My Nai Nai (grandma), who is now my only living grandparent, did whatever she could to make ends meet — from selling dumplings on the street to sewing clothes into the wee hours of the night.

With my mom and siblings in Taiwan

Both my parents were born in Taipei in 1956. Growing up as neighbor friends, they began dating at age 17 and were married at 28. In 1988, my parents made the difficult decision to move to the U.S. with three young children: my sister (3), me (1 and a half) and my brother (6 months). With the help of my uncle, who was studying at the University of Colorado Denver, my grandparents had already moved to Denver. They were urging my parents to come with hopes of providing better lives for us, their grandchildren.

So as all immigrant parents do, my parents gave up everything they knew to immigrate to America. In Taiwan, my dad had worked as a screenplay writer. He was a creative creature and enjoyed theater, films and the arts. Similarly, my mom was a journalist working as a news reporter. She loved being in the community and capturing people’s stories. For both of them, learning the English language would be their biggest challenge. My dad ended up going back to college to study civil engineering, switching gears to working with numbers all day. My mom went into retail and basically sold sunglasses for the next twenty years.

Left: My grandparents in Taiwan. Right: With my siblings and grandparents visiting New York in 1998

My grandparents (on both sides) helped raise my siblings and me as my parents worked. As such, we grew up speaking Mandarin Chinese at home. When I started college in 2004, I left Denver for the University of Missouri to study journalism. Although not a common career choice for Asian Americans, my parents were supportive as both had writing backgrounds themselves. When I was about to graduate, my mom approached me about starting an Asian American community magazine together. She felt that with my degree and interest in journalism, she was finally confident to pursue what she really loved. 

In 2006, she left the sunglass retail business and we co-founded Asian Avenue magazine. The Denver monthly publication has now served the community for 13 years, providing Asian cultural news and information. At times, it has been hard keeping the doors open as the print media industry is evolving and many publications have shut down. But I am always reminded of the sacrifices my mom, my family, and many other Asian immigrant families have made that I truly value the importance of having such a publication in Denver. We persevere, in order to share the important stories of Asian American Pacific Islanders in Colorado.

My grandma and my daughter Cadence

Now as a mother myself, life feels like it is coming full circle. I work to instill the same values my parents and grandparents have passed on. When I see my daughter playing with her toys or reading her books, I can see all of the sacrifices made by my Nai Nai — every cut and burn on her hands from sewing and cooking, and all those nights she went to sleep hungry and tired, but made sure her children were fed. My grandma’s weathered hands have given birth to my daughter’s life as a Chinese-American. Her legacy lives on.

[Picture above: A recent photo with my grandma and her five great grandchildren.]
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Kristin’s Immigration Story: Difficult decisions

No matter what side of the immigration and citizen debate one gravitates to, the inability of our nation’s leaders to find consensus has been distressing to watch. During one of our team meetings, we found ourselves sharing our own stories of what the word immigration means to us. We thought we’d share a little more about our team members over the course of time.

Kristin

Personally, I don’t know much about where my family came from. There are some missing branches from my limited family tree, and I’ve never had a connection to any kind of heritage outside of my nuclear family – which is white and born in the US. 

It wasn’t until I myself emigrated to Guatemala, where I lived for three years as an extranjera, that immigration came into the forefront of my learning and living. In Guatemala I had the opportunity to live and work and play with so many friends and families, nearly all which had someone they loved living far away in the US. I saw how immigration had separated families, had left single mothers working the farming fields alone, had left immeasurable debt owed from communities to coyotes for transporting loved ones across the border. These experiences contradicted many stories about immigration on the news – we never hear about how difficult it is to leave one’s community, one’s family, one’s culture, all for an enormous, lengthy, risky and uncomfortable trip North. We never hear about families ultimately making that tough decision, because the need for opportunity outweighs the perceived risk. 

Now living back in Denver, nearly all of my neighbors are first generation immigrants from Mexico and Central America. My circle of loved ones and friends includes a number of immigrants, many of whom don’t have official documentation to be here.  They are a refuge for me, a place to fill my heart with all the things I miss from Guatemala like cumbia and pupusas and speaking Spanish. I have seen some of the places they come from, and I have heard many of the stories of why they came. I see how difficult the decision was, and how difficult it still must be to stay. Even more, I can see how difficult it must be to live in a constant state of not knowing – what will happen if we stay? What will happen if we ‘go back’? Will we have money for either choice? What about our friends and our communities? 

Personally, I don’t know what any of those questions feel like. I don’t know much about where my family came from and if my ancestors ever had to ask those difficult questions. So what does immigration mean to me? It means a lot of people in my friend and community circle – that share with me such rich and beautiful experiences, food, music and love – are experiencing a lot of difficulty. And like any other friend, I am constantly thinking about how best to support them. 

[Picture above: Lake Atitlan, Guatemala. Photo from Wikipedia.]
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