How to Write Your Best Ever Year-End Review

Life isn’t easy, but The Cosmos is here for you. We’re creating How To Guides for Asian women, by Asian women to unpack and tackle the real shit we go through. Because we deserve to flourish and thrive together.

If you are not required to write a year-end review for your company or client, this guide can still be helpful. Take a moment to reflect on your work year with us to set yourself up for a success in 2019!

Writing your self-review is probably the last thing you want to do before the holidays (I promise to do mine after one more episode of Terrace House...) but it’s one of the most important steps to owning your career success.

F*ck the patriarchy by standing in your power and writing the best ever year-end review. This is your chance to show your manager all the boss moves you’ve been making. Research shows that women are less likely to talk about our achievements, which can hold us back from promotion and leadership opportunities. We know this can feel uncomfortable / awkward / weird / ”omg do I have to” so we put together this custom guide to support you. All you need is Google Docs to get started!

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  1. Write your career goal in big bold font at the top of the Google Doc. "I want to _______."  A promotion? A cross-lateral move? An opportunity to work with a new exciting partner or client?

    1. Cosmos Tip: An impactful review is more than a summary of what you did. It’s your chance to orient your manager around YOUR career goals, to help them become your best champion. By writing it at the top, you can anchor your review around this outcome and get your message across.

  2. Now write a 1-sentence “headline” that describes your work this year. Imagine you’re on the front page of the New York Times. What would it say? 

  3. Identify 3-5 specific situations that support that headline. Consider using the Situation / Behavior / Impact framework:

    1. Situation: What happened? What was the context? 

    2. Behavior: What did you do? 

    3. Impact: What impact did that have on your company, team, customer, user, etc.?

    4. Use “I” statements -- yes, your team helped, but this review is about YOU. Don't hesitate to let your contributions shine!

    5. Cosmos Tip: Start a fresh Google Doc at the beginning of the next year so you can proactively drop scenarios throughout the year. This way, you aren’t stuck wondering WTF happened next time around!

  4. If you’re asked to provide peer reviews, make a shortlist of 3-5 people who’ve worked closely with you. Don’t just choose your friends -- think about the people who worked most closely with you. Grab a coffee with them and let them know your goal (see step 1!). Being more hands-on in the process empowers your colleagues to advocate authentically for you - the first step to helping others help you is to ask, the second step is to show them how!

How To Flourish with Family this Holiday Season!
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Life isn’t easy, but The Cosmos is here for you. We’re creating How To Guides for Asian women, by Asian women to unpack and tackle the real shit we go through. Because we deserve to flourish and thrive together.

1. Make peace with your expectations. While most of us are not coming home to a picture-perfect Hallmark movie scene, it’s likely that we’re holding onto some unrealistic expectations.

Dr. Crane shares why this can backfire: When we build up our expectations to unreasonable levels (like those Hallmark visions), we set ourselves up to be disappointed. Don’t compare your family dynamics, personalities, or traditions to anyone else’s. Comparing can all too often lead to finding your own family lacking or disappointing. Remember, nobody’s family is perfect, no matter how they look on social media.

Before making holiday plans:

  1. Pull out your journal (we recommend Asian-woman created Passion Planner!) 

  2. Set a timer for 15 minutes

  3. Jot down any past holiday memories that come to mind. 

  4. Circle the memories that involved conflict or tension with family.

  5. Notice if this exercise brought up any feelings. Think about what expectations you had in those moments of conflict. Recognize that you have the power to make this holiday season work for you. Scratch out any expectations that no longer serve you!

2. Decide if you want to make the trip home. But let's be real... the anxiety of Mom, Dad, and extended family guilt-tripping you can be enough to throw your own needs out the window.

Take a deep breath and write down 3 points that express your needs and practice saying them aloud to a friend. When it comes time to share your decision with family, speak from an honest and vulnerable place to help them understand where you’re coming from.

When you share what you're going through, you give your loved ones a chance to show up for you. And yes, putting yourself first is going to feel weird at first. But that’s exactly why we all need to do it more often. 

3. Show love your way. Do you know what your love language is? If not, take the 5 Love Languages quiz to understand how YOU like to show love. Buying gifts or giving a red envelope might not feel right to you, and that’s okay. Once you know how you like to give (helping mom peel ginger or going to the market with grandma counts!), expressing love and appreciation for our family members can feel like something to look forward to.

4.  Draw those boundaries! Eating every meal with family. Greeting grandparents. Shopping with cousins. Running to the post office. Buying the ingredient your brother or sister forgot. The holidays sure have a way of draining our positive energy (and ca$h money)! 

Here's Dr. Crane guidance: Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries! This is tough in Asian families where parents and elders might expect you to be available on demand. Consider where you can draw boundaries, especially with regard to answering intrusive questions or reacting to upsetting comments. If you feel overwhelmed, take a bathroom break to breathe and remember that the visit is temporary.

5. Text your sister (or brother!). The holidays have a way of bringing old wounds to the surface. Family members might say or do something that triggers… and next thing you know, you're in tears, a heated argument, or snapping at someone you love. Your eight year old self is still inside along with all the hurtful things you may not have processed.

Find a quiet space and recite these 3 mantras:

  1. I am not alone.

  2. I deserve to ask for support.

  3. I am not a burden.

Before you head home for the holidays, find a brother/sister you trust and ask him/her if you can reach out in case anything comes up. If you're at home, come up with a system of signaling to a family member you're close to when you need support or at least a hand squeeze. We love this reality check by Dr. Crane: Family drives us craziest fastest, so we always need someone on the outside to remind us of who we are.

P.S. You can always email us at hello@jointhecosmos.com if you need extra shoulders to lean on!

This guide wouldn't be possible without    Dr. Leilani Salvo Crane   , Cosmos Community member and recent New York Retreat attendee. She is the daughter of a Filipina immigrant mother and a New England WASP father who is passionate about addressing the unique challenges faced by multiracial individuals in the U.S. You can book an appointment with her at    Zencare   !

This guide wouldn't be possible without Dr. Leilani Salvo Crane, Cosmos Community member and recent New York Retreat attendee. She is the daughter of a Filipina immigrant mother and a New England WASP father who is passionate about addressing the unique challenges faced by multiracial individuals in the U.S. You can book an appointment with her at Zencare!

The Cosmos 2019 Gift Guide!
In 2019, The Cosmos will host our first ever curated market IRL!! This market will exclusively support and showcase Asian women entrepreneurs and creators. If you are an Asian woman based in NYC with products or services that you’d like to share with our community, we are now accepting applications. We want a diverse range of women and products! All are welcomed.     Fill out this brief application    so we can be in touch - more details to come in early 2019!

In 2019, The Cosmos will host our first ever curated market IRL!! This market will exclusively support and showcase Asian women entrepreneurs and creators. If you are an Asian woman based in NYC with products or services that you’d like to share with our community, we are now accepting applications. We want a diverse range of women and products! All are welcomed.

Fill out this brief application so we can be in touch - more details to come in early 2019!

For the slim men in your life:

The Crescent Dress Shirt in white ($80)Our very own Head of Community Tanya Zhang is also cofounder of Nimble Made, a brand focused on creating high-quality, custom-made, actually slim dress shirts for men. She’s like the reverse Jason Wu, y’all. This shirt is perfect for friends, partners, and Dad alike! 

COSMOS SPECIAL: Enter code COSMOS20 at checkout for an extra 20% off!


For the mom/sister/friend/Youtuber who taught you that perfect winged eyeliner:


Celeste Spektra Stick ($26)This highlighter stick by Jolii Cosmetics will keep you glowing holiday party after holiday party. Bonus points for fitting so easily into a clutch too. Jolii is the brainchild of Sasha Suresh, a beauty entrepreneur born in India and thriving in New York. She’s committed to cruelty-free, vegan, and paraben-free cosmetics, making this a purchase you can feel beautiful about inside and out.


For the foodie friend who always has the best Yelp recs:

Nguyen Coffee Supply “Loyalty” Signature Blend ($19): Did you know that Vietnam is the 2nd largest coffee producer in the world and the #1 producer of robusta beans? This is news for many of us, which is what inspired entrepreneur and award-winning filmmaker Sahra Nguyen to put Vietnamese coffee on the map! Her latest project, Nguyen Coffee Supply, is the first specialty Vietnamese coffee company importing directly from family farm in Vietnam and fresh roasting weekly in Brooklyn, NY. The “Loyalty” blend features notes of cacao, pomelo, almond, and smoked caramel… making it the perfect way to stay warm this winter. 

Jia! The Food of Swatow and the Teochew Diaspora ($25)Teoswa is the local pronunciation of Chaoshan (潮汕), the region in China's eastern Guangdong Province comprising the cities of Teochew (Chaozhou), Swatow (Shantou), and Gigyong (Jieyang). We’re already hungry (and homesick) for dishes like the Swatow Beef Kway Teow Soup. These delicious recipes are perfect to try out for family dinners, holiday potlucks, or for your Saturday night in. 

I Am Grounded (Dark Chocolate + Candied Quinoa) Chocolate ($7.75): Finally, we can have our chocolate AND a dose of mindfulness!! Each yummy artisanal chocolate bar is made with an intention by W3, three women (Amanda, Naomi, Sritha) from three different continents. We can’t wait to see more collabs like this!


For the cultured friend who takes you to museums and loves nerding out with you:

Rachel Nguyen's course on business momentum ($68 for Special VIP cohort, course starts Jan 8): SCHOOL is a video-based platform featuring skill-building classes for creative entrepreneurs founded by Internet-born creative Dani Roche. We love their commitment to free education access for all. For every course sold, the same course is made available to a marginalized community for two months. What better way to kick off the season of giving?

Slant’d Issue 2: Light and Dark ($25)Their most provocative issue to date, Issue 2's theme is Light and Dark and features stories in the form of personal essays, poetry, photography, and illustration from 20 #badasians. Spoiler alert: You’ll find an exclusive essay from our founders about the light and dark sides of building The Cosmos, including hard lessons learned! Grab your copy and let us know what you think.

COSMOS SPECIAL: Enter code COSMOS20 at checkout for 20% off Issue 02! Valid until 12/31.

The Rare Orchid: Washi Tape Variety Pack ($27.50): The Rare Orchid specializes in selling hand-silkscreened Japanese paper and paper goods. TRO is owned by Meredith Lee, a 5th generation Chinese-American from the San Francisco Bay Area who started her business as a part-time hobby while doing social work in Hawaii. We’re obsessed over the colorful prints and might end up washi taping everything in sight. 

COSMOS SPECIAL: Use THECOSMOS30 for 30% OFF your entire order from now until December 11th!


For the friend who’s committed to prioritizing her mental health:

Free Therapy Consultation: Dr. Leilani Crane is a Filipina-American psychologist and therapist who has dedicated her career to ensuring therapy is accessible and available to individuals from multicultural backgrounds. If you’re thinking about giving therapy a try or curious whether it’s right for you, a free consultation is a great way to start.

COSMOS SPECIAL: Contact Dr. Crane on her website and mention that you've been referred by the Cosmos to redeem your free 30-minute consultation.


For the friend that can always #makeitfashion:

Dumpling Tote ($25) by Jocelyn Tsaih, an Oakland-based artist by way of Shanghai and Taipei. It’s a dumpling tote. It’s so cute. Do we need more in life??

Organic Indigo Cosmetic Pouch ($40) by Kah Mun Ng. All colored fabrics are dyed with natural wastes using only natural fibers, making this handmade gift truly one-of-a-kind. These pouches are not only easy on the eyes, but super useful for organizing our lives, backpacks, and purses.

Delicate Moon Necklace on 14k gold chain ($40) by Ellen Su’s P I X I U. Delicate, beautiful, and that MOON? YAS.

BNG’s online art shop ($15-300) by Cosmos Creative Director Bianca Ng! Exhausted by the suffocating standards of modern womanhood, Bianca’s latest series tackles the frustrating and often contradictory expectations women are pressured to live by. Her series “Defying Dualities” illustrates 31 individual women’s experiences with these hypocritical social scripts. Through visual storytelling, Bianca found her voice and empowered other women to speak their truth as well. Purchasing her limited edition art prints or original artwork is a beautiful way to support a friend without needing to find the right words. 

COSMOS SPECIAL: Use COSMOS20 at checkout for an extra 20% off original framed artwork from “Defying Dualities”. Does not apply to art prints from “A Better Conversation with Myself”. Valid until 2019.

Holyrad Studio Kickstarter Pledge ($100 or whatever you can contribute): Daryl Oh and the Holyrad team are committed to making freelance creative professions more accessible via the generative power of community. Members at Holyrad Studio get access to a beautiful studio space, video equipment, lighting, and tools that can be cost-prohibitive to freelancers getting their work off the ground. If this resonates with you, check out their Kickstarter campaign to open Holyrad’s second studio space to serve creatives in NYC. A $100 pledge gets you a Limited Edition 11 x 14 Print Of Daryl’s Personal Photo Work (peep her work here) and supports their incredible mission to make more creatives' dreams come true.

Cosmos Book Club: A Conversation with Nicole Chung
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The Cosmos Book Club recently gathered to discuss Nicole Chung’s poignant debut memoir on adoption, All You Can Ever Know, for Book Club #4. Following our gathering, we sat down with Nicole to ask her our most burning questions.

Interview by Carolyn Yoo

The Cosmos Book Club is a community for Asian women to read and support Asian women authors. When did you first find what felt like your community, whether in Asian American or women of color spaces, and what was its role in your life?

I started to form a community (mostly women writers of colors) on Twitter. When I started to pitch and publish, that’s when I started to connect. I got my first editing job at Hyphen Magazine based in the Bay Area. That was my first experience working with writers to shape their stories, and I found it so fulfilling. Hyphen was my first real Asian American online community.

My community is made of writers and editors that I’ve been really fortunate to work with. I often wish I had a real life Asian American community, but even a lot of the writers that I’ve met and feel very close to, we met on the internet. I think I wouldn’t have a community if not for online spaces and writing and editing. It’s another reason I’m really grateful for the work I get to do.

You’ve had a pretty insane 2018. You’ve been coping with grief and loss while going on a nationwide book tour, on top of tending to your other jobs and family responsibilities. What have your self-care strategies been?

That’s a really good question; I wish I had a better answer. My mother was just diagnosed with cancer, which has been the capstone of a really bad year in a lot of ways. My father died in January, so it’s been a really strange year to have a book out—not that there’s any good timing to lose a parent or have a parent get sick, but there were all these things I had to do for the book and also my family. There was no saying pause on anything. I feel like I’ve just been powering through. I don’t know if I’ve thought that much about my own needs or self-care since my dad died, to be honest with you. Which is not good, I don’t recommend it. (laughs) If I were watching a friend go through this I would say, you need to take some time, take care of yourself—but there really hasn’t been much time or space this year.

I have two kids, and a full-time job, and that would be a lot even without these other things. We are not good about grieving or crisis under capitalism. There hasn’t really been any space. I’m very grateful and excited to go out to [book] events and meet people. Writing is such a solitary thing, and it is a true pleasure and privilege to get to meet and talk with readers. I wish I could’ve been at this book club, it would’ve been so amazing! My mom’s coming up for the holidays and the book tour is winding down, so I’m hoping I get some time over the holidays to relax a little bit.

Absolutely. It’s funny since the holidays can sometimes be even more stressful sometimes! I am really hopeful it can provide that reset for you.

Thank you, I hope so. Yeah, life doesn’t stop when you lose a parent, or someone gets sick so it’s been challenging for sure.

I believe you made a choice, to not revise the book after your father passed away?

That’s right. I had the briefest of conversations with my editor. Everything in the book wraps up four to five years ago, so I didn’t see a clear way to bridge that [to the present] and include my father’s death in the book. I did end up writing an essay for Longreads that I think of as an unofficial epilogue to the book. It covers writing this book and editing it while my father had just died, and thinking a lot about adoption, grief, and loss.

During your book tour, you must have met a wide array of adoptees at your events. What was that experience like?

It’s been incredible to talk to any reader of the book; it’s a wonderful privilege. I’ve been especially moved talking with fellow adoptees. On pub day I started getting emails from adoptees. First it was a lot, five to ten a day. Now it’s slowed down but I’m still getting several a week. The youngest so far to write to me was a 15 year old Chinese adoptee. I’ve also heard from adoptees in their 70s. Many have said, “this is the first time I’ve seen anything like my story in literature.” People have been reaching out and sharing their own stories, which has been very moving. I heard from adoptees who grew up in Oregon, or very white communities—and those are the ones who have been like yeah, this was a lot like my experience.

Your book is one of the first to exist from not only an adoptee’s perspective, but a transracial adoptee’s perspective. What kind of pressure and responsibility did you feel?

I felt a great deal of pressure and responsibility, and sometimes felt unworthy, but I know this is only my story. I do want fellow adoptees to read the book and feel seen and honored, but I know I can’t possibly represent every adoptee or even Asian adoptee story.

I know my experience is different from a lot of Korean adoptees, since I was a US-born adoptee. Several articles have gotten that fact wrong, which causes me some angst every time because overseas vs. domestic adoption are two very different types of adoption. I try to be careful not to speak for the Korean-born Korean American adopted community. Of course there is also overlap in these two experiences—we grew up Korean in this society.

The adoptee perspective hasn’t really permeated the mainstream adoption narrative as I think it should. The book was a hard sell in part because it was a perspective on adoption that people were not used to reading.

During our discussion we were struck by the rich family history that you were able to get a glimpse of, including the “ten volumes of family history” spanning centuries that live in a family member’s library. Many of the book club attendees shared the difficulty of hearing our parents talk about any family history. Have you had opportunities since to get to know more of your birth lineage? Do you think culture/immigrant life plays a role in how much is shared intergenerationally?

There definitely is a separation [of history], since most of my family members live in Korea. Some of the separation too is that even if I found [those volumes], I’m not fluent in Korean, and it’s 600 years worth of Korean (laughs).

My birth father has this saying: “it happened in the past, and we need to move forward.” I can relate to it to a point, but I’m an adoptee that lost all her history. I don’t think he quite understands what it’s like to have no access to that, nor can I fully understand his experiences as an immigrant.

I haven’t gotten to meet any family members apart from the ones mentioned in the story. My father has offered to introduce me to his sisters, so I could meet my aunts and maybe some cousins. It’s something [Cindy] and I talk about a lot, and I think we’ll go [to Korea] at some point.

Writing this story, were there any areas that felt off limits?

Not exactly, but there were parts that I had written and cut. I had a chapter on college, which was the first time I got out of my hometown and got to be around people of color. I went from a town where I didn’t know any Koreans to where my suitemate was Korean and half my hall was Asian. It felt very meaningful and worth writing about, yet after I wrote it I couldn’t make it fit in the book. The scope of the book is fairly narrow—growing up adopted, my search, and my reunion (and a little bit about parenting, but not that much).

There were other things I avoided writing about because they didn’t seem to fit in the story. Both my birth parents were married before they met and married each other. The whole story [of that] didn’t really feel like it fit in this story either, nor did I want to get distracted or go down a rabbit hole that I couldn’t see through since I didn’t know too much about it. I also purposefully didn’t go down too much detail about my kids or niece. I figured they’re still kids and they deserve their privacy.

As a memoirist, you know that if you wrote this story in 10 years or 20 years, it’d be a completely different book. Do you envision yourself revisiting your experiences as an adoptee later on?

Definitely, [the book] is a snapshot of your life taken at a certain time. I can see writing additional pieces on adoption, but maybe not a full-length book. If I ever go to Korea with my sister, that would be an amazing thing to write about.


THIS OR THAT:

Twitter or Instagram? Twitter

Forest or sea? Sea

Online or print? Online is where most of my work is, but I’m enjoying being in print as well.

Music or podcasts? Music

Astrology or tarot? I don’t really do either of those. I’ll pick astrology.


Cosmos Book Club would like to thank you for your continued support, and wish you happy holidays with family & friends. We’re off for the rest of 2018, but will see you on January 8, 2019 at AAWW to discuss A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki. Subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on Instagram to be the first to hear about upcoming gatherings, and vote your top two book picks for the spring season if you haven’t already!

Cassandra Lam
We're looking for a Cosmos Social Media Strategist!
 
all the sisterhood team vibes, guaranteed!

all the sisterhood team vibes, guaranteed!

APPLY HERE by Dec 1!

What You’ll Do:

  • Oversee social strategy for The Cosmos’s social accounts (starting with Instagram!)

  • Grow followers and engagement consistently across all accounts, positioning The Cosmos ahead of our competitive set by:

  • Defining key metrics for social media growth, set and track progress towards KPIs goals, and provide monthly reporting of trends and learnings

  • Developing relationships with influencers, brands, and strategic partners, assist in community outreach

  • Work closely with Design, Book Club, Community, and Merch teams to conceptualize, optimize, and execute branded posts and Stories

  • Ideate and evolve the way we approach new content types and formats

  • Art direct collaborations with Asian woman artists for Instagram

  • Produce and execute Instagram-led events in NYC (!)

What You Bring To The Table

  • A record of growing Instagram accounts in a substantial manner, both in followers and engagement

  • A self-starter with a positive attitude and creative problem solving skills

  • Proven ability to handle a high-volume workload and work outside a “9-5” schedule

  • Comfort working with a partially remote team

  • A creative eye and/or creative background to maintain elevated and unique aesthetic

  • Interest in keeping up with social media trends to help The Cosmos stay ahead of the curve

  • Left and right brain love -- love for the creative and accurately measuring what’s working

  • Natural curiosity and passion for current affairs, media, culture, art, women’s issues, and Asian American issues

  • Proactive about pushing the envelope on what’s possible!!!!!

What You Love About Your Work

  • Autonomy to lead your own path and creative vision!

  • Transparency, openness, and honesty - there is no hierarchy and everyone’s ideas/opinions are valued

  • An opportunity to be part of our journey to building the first national (someday, global!) community dedicated to Asian women

  • Supportive Asian women team members who champion you and operate like chosen family

  • Power to influence the creative and social voice of a fast-growing brand

  • Dad jokes and other gif-oriented humor!!!

Cassandra Lam
Introducing SISTERLAND, a delightful pop culture podcast

 

by Karen Mok, Co-Founder of The Cosmos

Every Sunday night I head over to my friend and Cosmos community member Leah Nichols’s home to stream the newest episode of Insecure on HBO. We live 1.8 miles apart. I get that nostalgia for high school days, like you’re just going to your friends house to hang (after that homework is done, I’m Asian y’all), no agenda, time is infinite and everything in life is possible. 

I binge watched two seasons of Insecure one weekend in May. I needed to someone to talk to about it, and the universe gave me Leah. I first met Leah on The Internet when she published the 100s AZNS list, an experiment to test if it was possible to identify 100 culturally influential Asians (it is). I didn’t make the list but I made a lifelong friend and now podcast co-host. 

Until today, I’ve tried to hide my fascination with pop culture. And only until the release of Crazy Rich Asians and the think pieces that followed did I realize why. I had never seen an Asian person talking about pop culture in a thoughtful and decidedly human way. I grew up on a steady diet of Entertainment Tonight, Extra, TMZ, US Weekly, People, Teen Vogue, American Girl, Highlights Magazine. Pop culture was a noticeable escape from the realities of the racism that still lurked the streets in the South. It helped my family feel more normal, more American, but in an escapism kind of way. We never saw people who looked like our family. And so I learned pop culture wasn’t for me. This was further affirmed by my failure to secure an audition to be Cho Chang in the Harry Potter movies. 

Talking about pop culture in Leah’s kitchen is the most fun I’ve had in a long time. And that is due to the brilliant buzz of Leah herself. An award-winning filmmaker, Leah works to celebrate connections across differences and expand media representations of underrepresented communities. She is best known for her short film 73 QUESTIONS (2017) which won the 2018 Social Impact Media Awards (SIMA) Creative Activism Award.

Today I am excited to announce our podcast collaboration SISTERLAND. We just did one episode, sitting on her bed, brilliant and buzzed, so we don’t have the big mission figured out yet. But *we* will be commenting on things pop culture, film, television, media, and celebrities. SISTERLAND won’t explicitly focus on Asian pop culture and media, so no, this is not a podcast for understanding K-pop.  We think it’s important to have Asian commentary on pop culture and media *in general*. 

Episode 1 is “To all the media I loved before”.

 

Here's what you can expect:

  • Being ASIAN IS AWESOME. 
  • Can Asian Women have boobs and curves without slut-shaming and fetish-inducing? 
  • We compete on how many times we can watch To All The Boys I Ever Loved in one weekend. 
  • We coin the term “Asian American escapism”  
  • Lana Condor and Leah Nichols are adoptees with white parents. We discuss how they relate to “Asian American”
  • We friend request Yaeji...

Mentions!

  • To All The Boys I Loved Before (film)
  • Crazy Rich Asians (film)
  • Searching (film)
  • Friday Night Lights (TV Series)  
  • Something New (film)
  • Dear White People (TV Series)

Musical selection by Yaeji (we'll be featuring up and coming Asian artists so send us your recs!). 

Take a listen and tell us what you think. We take comments and questions at sisterlandpodcast@gmail.com. If you send hate or trolls we will banish you, thanks!! 

How do we talk about our Health & Wellbeing as Asian Women?

 

The Cosmos was born when we imagined a community where naming our fears, uncertainties, anxiety, and doubts was not only supported, but normalized. Along the way, we’ve realized the need for a new vocabulary — one that empowers us to celebrate our livelihood, encourages our right to flourish and thrive on our own terms, and welcomes the reality of being perpetually in progress.

This is what makes The Cosmos’s approach to Health & Wellness different. We’re challenging stigma and creating a new way to talk about stigmatized topics like mental health, anxiety, intergenerational trauma, fertility, and sex and pleasure through The Cosmos Health & Wellness Workshops in San Francisco and New York City. Our workshops are a platform for the diverse perspectives of incredible leaders like the founders of BetterBrave, the co-founder of the popular co-working app Croissant, the co-founder of fertility app Carrot, and the amazing instructors at O.School, just to name a few.

Our workshops are intentionally 101 level because we believe easy access to health information is a human right.

Every Cosmos workshop challenges stigma by offering a supportive space to not only talk, but also amplify our voice on topics that affect our community as well as our friends, family, colleagues, and neighbors.

The Cosmos Health & Wellness Series is an unapologetic call to action to practice wellbeing, on your terms. Health and Wellness impacts all pillars of life, and it is a pre-requisite for achieving one’s fullest potential. We’re self-aware that our perspective will not speak to every Asian identity. That’s why we’ve started our Create With Us program to provide a platform for community members to share their unique skills and story with the community. We need more stories at the table, and we want to hear yours.

Why Health & Wellness? Well…

“Asian-American women suffer alone. They suffer quietly, and they die quietly. And even if they die, nobody makes a fuss about it.”
— Dr. Hyeouk Chris HahmAssociate Professor of Social Work at Boston University and Founder of AWSHIP (Asian Women’s Health Initiative Project), a five-year study funded by the National Institute of Mental Health.

Asian women are dying as mental health goes untreated. Asian women suffer in silence when stigma, cultural taboo, and pressure to succeed make it challenging to talk openly about mental health, much less ask for the care one needs. Research shows that Asian Americans are 2–5x less likely than white Americans to seek mental health services, and this statistic disproportionately affects our community, young and old.

This is the kind of news that keeps us up at night. But things are looking up. Internet bloggers, activists, and nonprofits are calling out inequities in the healthcare system and advocating for care that considers cultural differences. National media is raising awareness for the work of individual therapists and organizations like Asian Community Mental Health Services.

Is now the right time? We’re starting to see Asian women on magazine covers,bringing the bread home on Netflix, and working movie billboards. The resounding conclusion:

We need more research and stories of the experiences of different Asian communities, and we need more spaces led by people in our community.

So we got into a room and made a list of every health topic that’s ever felt hard to talk about: sex, orgasms, birth control, intergenerational trauma, egg freezing, mental health, anxiety, stress, imposter syndrome, being invisible, unseen, unheard. We thought about the big elephant in the room: America’s healthcare system is not designed for minorities. What happens when the English language doesn’t offer a vocabulary for immigrants and refugees to express their condition? Communities of Cambodians, Hmong, Laotians, and Bangladeshi Americans, who face higher rates of poverty and less access to health insurance, are met with higher financial barriers to access.

We’ve heard that this type of community is new. And we want to be clear: this is not a sorority. If you’ve been searching for belonging and space to feel celebrated for who you are, hear us: you’re not alone.

If you’re in New York, San Francisco, or Denver, come meet us at one of our workshops. For our LA crew, you can hang with us at our immersive 3-day Retreat in Joshua Tree.

And if you’re in any other city, you can join our community and meet the honest, open, supportive women leading this community. It’s not us — it’s every member who’s led a workshop with us (20 by the end of the summer!), every member who’s out there challenging norms and narratives with her hustle, every member who’s asking herself what it means to flourish and thrive, and helping others in her life do the same. The Cosmos is here for you, and because of you.

Special thanks to David Y., Dr. Lisa C., Stephanie K., and Bessie C. who reviewed drafts and helped us put pen to paper!

“Who is the Asian American Woman?”

 

Being Asian American carries the weight of two worlds.

Each of these worlds is vast in its own right, rich in history, culture, nuance, languages, values, and templates for survival. As children of immigrants and/or refugees, we learned from a young age to navigate the tangible boundary between home and America. Sometimes, this boundary was permeable, allowing us to weave in and out to cobble together our own path. Other times, crossing this boundary came at a cost. These public and private transactions that we engage in daily, by virtue of who we are and what we represent, serve as reminders that we possess some inalienable otherness within.Our multiple identities are separate yet inextricably intertwined. This complex relationship is sometimes illustrated by the hyphen found in “Asian-American”.

For this initiative, Cassandra Lam and I are interested in the single blank space in between. It symbolizes the freedom to create anew, the capacity for fullness in emptiness, the eye of a storm long brewing, a clean slate ripe for definition and color, an opportunity to build a bridge to connect our distinct worlds. Sharing this intentional language is important because we believe that choices — including, but not limited to, the nomenclature we use, the tone we use in conversation, the people we elect to represent us — signal to the world how we’d like to be seen or treated.

Our partnership behind this soon-to-be-announced initiative comes at a time when we’re seeing Asian and Asian American women gain incredible momentum in the public sphere. In 2017, we got an all-Asian leading cast for Crazy Rich Asians with Constance Wu at the helm.

We also got Awkwafina in Oceans 8, Kelly Marie Tran in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and Mindy Kaling in A Wrinkle in Time. These are strong indicators of representation shifting in our favor, but we must continue to be relentless in our resistance and persistent in our demands. We can’t move the needle alone. We need to organize at the grassroots and connect the creators, change makers, entrepreneurs, and leaders across communities, industries, and locations. Together, we have the power, knowledge, and support to build what we need not just to survive, but to thrive. So on Nov 29, we began with a single powerful question:

“What does it take for an Asian American woman to flourish and thrive?”

From the overwhelmingly positive responses to our FB and Instagram posts, we’re optimistic that we’re not the only ones thinking about these issues. We’ve heard from over 60 Asian and Asian American women from New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Shanghai, St. Louis, Vancouver, London, Toronto, and beyond who shared their doubts, questions, and hopes. These voices and conversations became the foundation for our mission statement.

Our Mission

  1. To bring AAPI women together to create a new paradigm that considers our diversity as people, our well-being as individuals, and our right to thrive on our own terms
  2. To form genuine connections within our diverse community, cultivate new friendships and partnerships, and establish a supportive network of AAPI women dedicated to learning and growing together
  3. To realize our potential as creators and harness our collective agency to build new narratives, activate and inspire our communities, and build sustainable infrastructure to drive larger-scale impact

Our Call to Action

If this resonates with you, we want to hear from you. We’re organizing a Kickoff Retreat for AAPI women in Seattle, WA from Jan 26–28, 2018 as a next step in building this collaborative movement.

Get in touch with us for more information: www.bit.ly/LetsTalkAAPI

About Us

Karen Mok is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of Disorient, a media platform dedicated to telling the stories of immigrant and and minority creators. Her expertise lies at the intersection of media, technology, and global communities. Prior to founding Disorient, Karen led international expansion at Stripe, a $9B fintech company; was COO of a global community of creative entrepreneurs called Sandbox; and launched the media news app Timeline, which was named one of Apple’s Best New Apps. Her motivation to build experiences that connect cultures and communities is rooted in her personal experience as the daughter of immigrant parents born and raised in a small town in the American South.

Cassandra Lam is the founder of Akin, a digital storytelling platform that collects, shares, and elevates anonymous short stories. Through storytelling, Akin strives to inspire dialogue and empower the creation of new realities as told or witnessed by our storytellers — ordinary people who endure and achieve extraordinary things. Cassandra’s love for storytelling as a tool for changing lives and narratives flows directly to her work in big data consulting at Opera Solutions, education, and social justice. Earlier this year, she completed an 18-month fellowship with Revive the Dream Institute, where she partnered with Edbuild, a nonprofit focused on bringing common sense and fairness to the way states fund public schools, to author a case study on the current politics of school funding. As a first-generation Southeast Asian woman, proud daughter of Vietnamese boat refugees, and San Gabriel Valley native, she carries a legacy of stories that informs her perspective, activism, and passions.

Definitions

We are constantly reassessing and expanding our definitions to prioritize using up-to-date, intentional, and inclusive language. If you see an opportunity to further expand any of the below, please message us.

Asian American women: Inclusive of self-identifying women, femmes, gender nonconforming, queer, and transgender individuals of Asian, Pacific Islander, and South Asian descent[0].

Creator: An individual who dares to imagine a bigger, bolder, and better world; who refuses to settle for the status quo; who recognizes her power to shape, change, or build a brighter future for herself and her community.

[0] Reference: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/09/08/key-facts-about-asian-americans/

Comments, questions, ideas? Don’t hesitate to contact us directly. You can find us on Twitter @cassielam and @kmok88. Thank you for reading!

Originally published on Medium

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