To my middle school choir teacher

I know this is a bit of a tangent, but I had to post about a teacher that had a true impact on me and who I’ve become. Recently, one of my patients brought to my attention that this teacher had recently retired, which is shocking since he was my choir teacher from 1998-2001. He had built this AMAZING music program from the ground up with just a piano and pure dedication for the past 30 years.

Back in middle school, which is a hard time for everyone, I felt extremely alone and pigeoned holed as the “nerdy Asian girl”. Minorities were never the popular ones and no one in my school knew K-pop. What I realized was that in all my academic classes ie Math/ Science etc. I was the quiet Asian girl getting straight A’s. In choir, it felt as though we were all just one voice. There was an even playing field in that multi-purpose room and no one’s voice was a minority or a stereotype.

Mr. Todd Helm held our middle school choir together and we practiced songs from all different genres. He exposed us to Vaudeville, Classical Music, Cinema, and performances at Disneyland. I distinctly remember all of us having to wear a red cummerbund for the first time.

Music is important. Singing is important. Now with kids of my own, I feel that importance on a deeper level. The arts connect us in a different way than the sciences do. As an adult, I don’t see much use in my profession for singing, but today I heard choir music from a recent instagram post of the local school choir and I was transported back to a time when I felt joy at a difficult period of my life.

I feel immense gratitude for this teacher who showed up day to day to bring us together as one voice. I wish I could thank him, and even though there is no way he would remember me, I want him to know I VERY much remember him and the times we sang under his direction. Choir made me a more confident person which contributed to the foundation of who I am today.

Thank you Mr. Helm.


Coke Bottle Glasses

When I was in elementary school, my near sightedness (myopia) increased dramatically. My lenses were so thick and heavy, the glasses would frequently slip down my nose and I’d have to push them up every 10 seconds. At the time, my parents has moved us to the suburbs and not only was I the only Asian girl in my grade, I had black, metal frames with thick lenses to make me stand out even more.

I had a hard time accepting my looks as a kid. Other classmates would make fun of me and I was too young to wear contact lenses at the time. I tried to excel in other ways, like being the best at math and drawing cute Sanrio characters for my friends (anyone else remember all those characters?). But my self esteem was always low. I thought to myself that no guy would ever want to date me or I’d never be pretty and popular.

I sometimes wonder/worry that others are still affected by this “coke bottle glasses” mentality. That somehow glasses make us “ugly” and “outcasted”. Movies and television seem to really play into those stereotypes ie. the glasses-wearing girl gets a make over and somehow becomes this beautiful, popular non-glasses wearing goddess. My kids have a 25% chance of being myopic/nearsighted and I have this deep worry they will experience the same insecurities I had.

Fast forward 20 years and glasses seem to be more of the trend and there are so many new frame style choices for kids. There’s even what’s called “myopia control” contact lenses for kids (more to come about this topic). So ultimately, I have a chance to use my private practice to reach out to anyone who has ever felt “ugly” because of their glasses and give them a new outlook on their own self image. My degrees and certifications qualify me to help kids reduce their chance of wearing super heavy, thick lenses as they reach their teenage years.

Have you ever seen Queer Eye on Netflix? The hosts use their specific skills like hair/fashion/cooking to really lift up the nominated person on their show. It’s not about taking away the glasses-wearing nerd persona and presenting a whole new fake non-glasses wearing person. The hosts are really in tune with staying true to someone’s identity and sometimes glasses are a big part of that.

When you start your own business or private practice, you have a chance to re-define your purpose in life. How will I take care of my community and my patients? How can I use my specific set of skills and talents to lift people up? What can I do to help that kid that may be at high-risk for severe nearsightedness in the future? And also… How do I get on the new season of Queer Eye so I can help those people who need new glasses? Hahaha just kidding.

These are questions I need to ask myself daily.

It takes an army

When it comes to raising a family, it definitely take a village. But when it comes to starting a business, it takes an army. I’ve never spoken / emailed/ texted with so many people in my life. I’ve read books on building a brand and reached out to doctors who have open multiple practices cold. Even looking at the world, I see it a little bit differently now.

The greatest part of this journey has been meeting wonder human beings in person. Personally, I don’t like zoom or virtual meetings. There always seems to be an invisible barrier or filter that blocks true connection. Speaking to someone one on one for the first time, and finding commonality in subjects like luxury eyewear, practice management, and patient care has brought me a lot of personal and professional joy. I love getting lost in conversations about similar passions.

I’ve often wondered how much of success is luck such as, what kind of family connections you’re born into, and how much of it is hard work and grit. Some will say its a little of both, but I think success can look different for everyone, so there can’t be a singular root for success itself.

What is your definition of success? I was asked this and it took me a long time to answer. I still don’t know if my answer is 100% accurate.

I also believe our own definition of success is ever evolving with time. It’s very easy to compare our successes with one another especially in the age of social media. In all honesty, I’ve been jealous of others when I see those posts.

If I was an engineer, I’d create an app that made everyone compete for who could grab the most ”nice points” aka ”noints”. Instead of brag posts about expensive cars and purses, you’d post about doing something genuinely kind for someone, and everyone would vote on how many ”noints” to give you. Top 3 winning posts via picture/video/text would be shared and highlighted the next day. Hopefully it would gain popularity and big name sponsors would actually offer up secret prizes to the top 3 posts. Look out for my app NOI in the app store! hahaha I kid…

I’m a believer in karma and paying it forward. I will do my best to be kind and generous to others because I know there will be those around me who will extend the same courtesy without any hidden motive. Good people are out there willing to help you out of pure kindness. Some may think this naive, but I try to be optimistic especially when times are hard.

Ultimately this post is a big THANK YOU to my army. To all those helping me on my entrepreneurial journey: I’m truly grateful and I thank you.

Working Parents

I really don’t know how people “balance” raising small kids and working full time. The most stressful thing about having kids was how I was going to find time to care for them; be there when they’re sick, pick them up from daycare on time. I had severe “mom guilt” from dropping off my 6 month old at daycare so I could go back to seeing patients full time. I was always blaming myself whenever the babies had diaper rash or any ailment associated with being a raised in a daycare environment.

Maybe we all go through this when they are young, and as they get older we forgive ourselves for being absent by justifying why we weren’t there for them in their childhood. I always thought, if I show my kids that working hard is a skill and virtue, they’ll appreciate all that they accomplish through their own hard work one day. I don’t think that anymore.

My kids always ask me when my next day off is and why am I working every Saturday. They don’t want the financially responsible answer. They just want my undivided time and attention. Deservedly so.

I went into optometry wanting a good work/life balance as well as a more specialized patient care environment. There is a special joy one feels when you can transform someone’s life though vision. I feel privileged to be a part of the profession and ultimately, I want to give back to my community through LUXE Optometry.

So now, I want to show my kids: yes work hard, but work hard for the purpose of giving back to those around you. It won’t feel like work and it won’t feel so hard if there’s a true purpose behind it.

You always hear people say to “write your goals down” and “you’re more likely to achieve your goals if you write it down and look at it everyday”. My goal for LUXE Optometry is to be the best optometric eyecare practice in the area. I want to give unparalleled care/service to all, offer high quality eyewear to patients, use the latest technology and exam equipment, be up-to-date on the most current therapies related to eye care/vision, and inspire future generations of eye care practitioners through mentoring.

I bring this very personal topic to the blog to praise all the hard working parents out there. Trying to start a small business/ raise a family/ reach those goals/ take care of everything around you … I see you!

Day One or One Day…

It was March 2022, and my daughter wanted to go eat breakfast somewhere on her birthday. So I found somewhere close by, that was open at 7 am (my kids wake up super early). After we finish our breakfast pancakes, bacon, and a whole lot of coffee for me, we head out to the parking lot when I realize something… WOW this is a really nice plaza…wonder if a private Optometry practice would do well here.

So naturally I turn to my kids and take a poll. It’s a pretty important question. Probably the most important question I’d ask myself.

“Should mommy open up her own office here??”

In unison, my kids scream “YEAH!!!!!!!!!”

So first things first… Is there even a lease space available?

We walked around the plaza until we came across a unit that looked empty; no sign, empty interior, lock on the outer doors. With some investigating, I found out that Supercuts had left that particular spot and was currently negotiating their exit.

The commercial real estate gods had sent me a sign!

I was always the type to think “One day I’ll do this, one day I’ll do that”. Always wondering how nice it would be to open up a beautiful practice of my own, be my own boss, and build an private optical that had the latest technology in eye care, luxury eyewear brands, and practice the full scope of optometry on my own terms. I was always the person to think “One Day”. But today, I was not that person. Today is not “one day”… today is Day 1.

Future home of my first private practice