07 Feb Aileen Xu – Artist of Life (Lavendaire)
Aileen Xu is a Chinese American who spent her early childhood trying to break out of her shell. Little did she know that years later she would become a social media influencer inspiring over 123k people to live their dream life through her youtube channel Lavendaire. Throughout her creative journey Aileen produced and released a musical album: Honestly, a short film: The Night Market, and just in the last two years she’s released almost 200 videos on youtube.
It takes a great amount of wisdom to realize that the easy path in life is not always the right path for you. Aileen Xu embodied such wisdom when she ventured out into the world to explore life instead of just living it. She was on a mission to create her dream life and wanted to share her journey with the world. Lavendaire was then born!
Lavendaire is a lifestyle design and personal growth brand that helps people create their dream life. Aileen describes it best with her powerful tagline “Life is art, make it your masterpiece.”
In this episode Aileen shares stories about her Chinese American upbringing and how she broke out of her shell to lead a happy and fulfilling life. She shares the traditions she’s held on to growing up, and how her culture influenced a minimalist lifestyle. Aileen also talks to us about her Artist of Life concept, and how we could all achieve the life of our dreams.
Follow Aileen at Lavendaire
2017 Artist of Life Workbook
Highlights and Takeaways:
• 01:27 I talk about how I discovered Aileen’s Youtube channel and how its helped me destress at the end of my pregnancy early 2016. I also talk about why I continued to watch the Lavendaire channel and how it’s helped me finally launch the BY DESIGN project. Aileen also talks about why she started her youtube channel.
• 02:33 We meet Aileens 6 year old puppy; Coco. Who was playing with the squirrels on the other side of the window.
If you want to learn something, teach it.
• 03:08 Aileen shares her families backstory and how they made their way to the U.S. She explains that she is full Chinese by blood; her dad is from Shanghai and her mom is Chinese but born in Vietnam. Aileen talks about how her grandma ran away from China and immigrated to Vietnam but then the war happened. Then after a very long journey – traveling to multiple countries and living in refugee camps – they finally made it to the U.S.
• 04:15 Aileen talks about the effects of the Vietnam war on her mothers side of the family and how it caused them to separate for some time. She shares the experience based on her mothers tellings of when she was a teenager. Aileen talks about how she can relate to the refugee’s who are struggling now in the U.S. and how her mothers journey is the reason why.
• 05:05 I share with Aileen my grandparents story of having to leave Palestine during the 6 Day War, living in refugee camps once they reached Jordan and how my grandpa had to leave his wife and 8 children behind, and move to New York to establish a better life for them.
• 05:47 I share my story of moving back to the U.S. after growing up and finishing high school in Jordan.
• 06:15 Aileen shares where her parents met and where she was born. She then talks about the many Chinese languages she could speak and how it’s a struggle to learn the language if you don’t make it a point to practice. Aileen then talks about her moms effort making sure her children learned the mother language by attending Saturday Chinese school.
Refugees come to the U.S. seeking a better life.
• 06:48 Aileen talks about how her mother speaks Cantonese and her father speaks Mandarin; which are the two main dialects in China. She explains that there are hundreds of dialects spoken in China and that if you learn one you won’t necessarily understand the others.
• 08:14 I share my experience with learning Arabic and why it’s so difficult. I explain that it’s written from right to left and that each letter is drawn differently based on it’s location in the word. We then talk about the struggles of loosing the mother language as more generations are born into the U.S.
• 10:19 Aileen answers the question of when she realized she was different growing up as a Chinese American in the U.S. She explains that she had a unique upbringing surrounded by mostly Chinese Americans and how that’s sheltered her as she grew up. She didn’t come to realize that that wasn’t so normal until she entered USC .
• 14:29 Aileen shares where her love for travel stems from.
• 14:53 Aileen answers my questions “What misconceptions do you think people have about the ChineseAmerican culture that you want to bring awareness to?” She encourages everyone to meet people in general and learn about what interests them. We talk about when stereotypes became prominent based on our life journey. Aileen shares how she noticed that the Chinese American stereotype has changes in the span of a few years, from only being good at “math” to becoming more interested in the fashion industry.
Forget the stereotype, there are different personalities in every culture.
• 18:00 Aileen shares her experience visiting China as she grew up, and how with each visit China changed drastically. She talks about visiting the city and her grandparents near by village. Aileen paints a beautiful picture of what she remembers traveling through the village. She talks about the shape of the land and the local villagers spirit. She describes it as “Stepping back in time.”
• 19:47 Aileen talks about how she was recognized as an American (or something other) as she walked through the city in China. She explains how she never felt like she was at home in China and that it felt like she was a tourist visiting.
It's always a struggle to fit in, and it takes so long for you to become accepted by your new culture.
• 22:10 Aileen and I talk about some of our cultural differences, and then stumble on a cultural similarity of how to bargain at the night market.
• 26:42 Aileen shares the different traditions and superstitions she’s held on to growing up. She shares how her mom studies Feng Shui and then goes on to share details of how her family practices it in their home life. Aileen explains when searching for a house, her mom tried to look for a kitchen that didn’t have a sink on an island facing the oven because the elements fire and water are in conflict. Based on the studies of Feng Shui a lot of arguments will result in that space. Aileen goes on to talk about a few more Feng Shui practices.
• 30:30 Aileen talks about Minimalism and how it’s a lifestyle she embraces. She talks about how her mother loves to collect things now, because being a refugee she didn’t have the luxury of owning many things as she travelled. Her mom needed to have the necessities only.
• 32:57 I talk about what it was like growing up in a country (Jordan) that has very little water to distribute to it’s people and how we made ends meet with what we did have. I talk about how California complains about not having water but in reality it’s still luxurious compared to Jordan.
It's amazing what you'll learn about people if only you open up and ask.
• 36:25 Aileen shares the different traditions her family practice during the Lunar New Year (ex: eating long noodles for a long life.) She shares how the traditions differ from one family to the next based on where they’re originally from. Aileen demonstrates one of those traditions in a youtube video.
• 40:22 Aileen explains how was the Artist of Life concept born. She explains how she’s always knows what the next step up was for her as she was growing up; middle school then highchool…etc. And how after college she felt lost. Aileen talks about her journey exploring multiple career paths that would eventually lead her to Lavendaire.com. She realized that she wanted to live a free life, that would allow her to travel and set her own schedule.
• 47:42 Aileen talks about how her upbringing and culture influenced her pursuit towards a life of her dreams. She explains that it did come with some cultural challenges as she was building the foundation for this life.
Building a dream life takes time, patience and persistance.
• 51:34 Aileen talks about the creation of the 2017 Artist of Life Workbook, how she composed it based on years of compiled exercises thats helped her build the life if her dreams and how it’s going to help you do the same. I also share how her workbook has helped me on my journey building the foundation of my dream life with BY DESIGN.
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