minling’s story

my story

Hellooooo!  You might be wondering what lead me down this winding road to “the JOY depot”.  So here’s the skinny on my story.

If you want a quick snippet, check out the one pager graphics (click to enlarge).  If you want to know more deets, then keep reading below.


Have you ever had a sinking feeling that something was a little off or not quite right?I did.That sinking feeling resided in me for one year after before I did anything about it.One year, after a life changing trip to Nepal, I was finally ready to say…“I QUIT”.

Quit my job
Quit my life
And quit my old sense of self worth.

It took all the strength and courage I had to utter these two words.

But I did it.

I was living a lie.  My life was never completely mine.  I didn’t feel whole. I was living someone else’s dream.

When asked what I wanted out of life, I said…


I longed for freedom, but freedom wasn’t in my grasp until I quit.

When I was a child, I had lots of dreams.  I used to love playing make believe and watching fairytales because it all seemed so magical.  They sky was the limit.  Anything was possible, no matter how silly it may have sounded.

At three…
my toy cars flew
my toy airplanes couldn’t fly

That’s what I told my grandparents.  They let me dream.

I was a dancing tomato in a ballet recital and had the costume to prove it.   Everyone believed it and loved my “tomato” performance.

Reality or not, I just believed and dreamed.

But as I got older things shifted.

I was repeated told what was possible and not possible.
In essence, I was told cars didn’t fly, planes did and I was not a dancing tomato.

The older I grew, the smaller my imagination got.

My sense of creativity and freedom became a tiny memory giving way to the “real world” and all the responsibilities that came with it.

The result?

I ended up staying in a box of what others told me was possible and impossible.

Possible = safe
Impossible = never going to happen

For the remainder of my childhood and until I turned 28, I spent time trying to fit in a box when in actuality, I wasn’t meant to be in the box in the first place.

A boring life and happiness went away.

At a young age, I stopped dreaming and started going through the daily grind.

I was constantly told, “Fairytales aren’t real,” whenever I dared to dream.  To this day, they remind me of this.  When I dream of finding my “prince charming” and my soulmate, and my parents tell me to stop dreaming and hurry up find someone.   They remind me that I’m getting old and the longer I wait, the less options I have.

I want love.  I want to be swept off my feet.  They want me to just find a dependable guy so I won’t be alone in life.  Romantic right?

I live in “la la land” and they are the reality masters.

They’ve been like that my whole life.  Starting at a young age, practicality and reality won.

My grandfather had Parkinson’s disease and I had to help out after school.  I was in grade school.  No time to play and dream.

School was important and I had to study.  Regular school work + Kumon + Abacus class + Chinese school + Piano.  No time to play and dream.

Quit piano, still no time to play and dream.

“All the hard work would pay off,” my parents would say.  They wanted me to succeed.  I was their only daughter, their only child, and they wanted me to do well.

To them, happiness is the end result.  Once I achieve success I’ll be happy.

So, off I went.  On their path.  Successful too!

Went to USC and studied business.

Went to IU for grad school and got my MBA.

Move to Cleveland, OH and started working for Nestle.

When I got to a “dream job” at Nestle, I wondered if this was it.  If this was all that I had to look forward to.  I achieved success, but I wasn’t happy.

Yoga = union

That’s the traditional definition.

To me, it meant freedom.

Yoga freed me from myself and my past associations.

When I started practicing, I never thought I’d be able to do certain poses like headstand, handstand, crow, etc.  Even touching the floor in a forward bend seemed difficult.

It all seemed impossible to me.   Others could do it, but I couldn’t.  After all, I have tight hamstrings and tight shoulders.

But nothing was impossible.  I just had to learn the technique.  With the help of my teacher, Marni, I was able to get into poses I never thought I would ever get into.

My mind shifted.  My confidence grew.  I felt connected to my body in a whole new way.

I started to think, maybe there is more for me in the world.

Enter, Nepal and Yoga for Freedom…

In the summer of 2010, I traveled to Nepal with a group of people from Cleveland (and 1 person from Hong Kong).

Yoga for Freedom.

The purpose of the trip was to raise money and awareness for Nepal Orphans Home (NOH).  NOH is a safe haven for 120 children who are orphaned, abandoned, or unable to be supported by their parents.  Some of the children were also former Kamalaris (sold into indentured servitude).  NOH’s mission is not just to rescue children from abject poverty, but to enable the children to develop and realize their potentials.

In the brochure for the trip my friend Jesse created, he wrote, “1 trip, 2 lives changed.”  He was right.

I won’t go into all the details of the 2 magical weeks we spent in Nepal, but it changed my life.

I met children who endured so much hardship, more than many people would know in a lifetime.  Even though they experienced the harsh realities of life, their dreams never died.  They wanted to achieve and make a difference.  I met many children who wanted to be doctors, teachers, etc and change their communities.

I was inspired by each and every one of them.

They would not let their past situations cloud their happiness.  In fact, their happiness strengthened and became infectious.

This is life and the meaning of life.  These kids understand it so well.

To be happy right here and right now.  To believe in happy endings and our own fairytale stories.

This is why I QUIT.

To create my own fairytale.  My own happiness.  My own happy ending.  My own life.

This is why I created the JOY depot.

To help you create your own fairytale.   Your own happiness.  Your own happy ending.  Your own life.

I do this because I believe that if we truly tap into our inner essence, passions, happiness, joy, we can create love and peace on this planet.

I do this because I believe in Elevating Human Kind(ness)