I was born in Suzhou, China. A beautiful city with stone bridges, pagodas, and domestic rivers. Ancient emperors loved to spend a summer here in their private gardens. Now those gardens become public and many visitors come each year to enjoy a good time.
I came to the States when I was 21 as an international exchange student then I went back to China to finish my last year in college. After graduate I came back to Pittsburg KS to do a 2 year graduate school. During that two years, I worked with professor to set up a tv station focusing on distributing international culture related news and interesting international students on campus ( I have been doing tv related things when I was second grade in elementary school but I stopped doing it as the course work got heavier).
After graduate school, I feel I still don’t know where to position myself, so I put a hold on the acceptance being a doctoral student at Boston University School of Education and became a door to door sales woman. I pitched door to door around Boston from Framingham to foxborough persuading people to switch to Verizon fios for internet, phone, and TV.
After one year of door to door sales experience , I was ready to go back to school with a new focus on doing business. I started many companies while taking a full course load at school. My first business failed as I moved into my secondary year in the doctoral program. I felt that I was dying inside because I did the business just for the sake of making money and chasing after traditional success. I noticed that I at that time I did not have sufficient business mindset and experience and failed not only in business but also relationships with my co founders. I went into a 2 year depression and soul searching and took a leave of absence at school.
During the two years, I didn’t travel the world as most of people would fanticize. I stayed at my apartment and read a lot of phychological books and watched a lot of similar videos on YouTube. I was healing myself. Then I asked myself an important questions: “jiani what did you do to make yourself happy when you were little ?” I remembered gradually though many meditations that I loved organizing my neibors to do activities such as role play or art performance. I would call up all the adults nearby to be audience 🙂 I had trememdous fun.
So I decided to organize my friends in Boston to paint pictures. We fund raised to get all canvas and painting supplies. The instruction for the first workshop was simple: “ what do you want to see in your future ?” Some friends painted a guy on a motercycle , some painted a pair of ballet shoes . I painted a semi-abstract rose garden with pavement and a circle of waters. Then something magical happened. I went to Seattle to attend a friends wedding as a bridesmaid. The house I was staying was on a mountain overseeing a lake. As I walked into their back garden, I saw roses, pebble pavement , and the huge lake down the mountain just turned into a small circle of water. It was like the painting I did at that workshop. I was so happy and excited 🙂 I saw this as a sign for me to continue my journey on this path. Collective art workshops.
I founded the 4th space, https://www.the4th.space/
. The website is still under construction, the positioning is still being discussed. The name for the 4th space means that we need to nurish the 4th space where we truly enjoy doing things, being happy with who we truly are, and doing the creative work without being judged. Once we manage to nurish the 4th space, we will reap benefits in other 3 spaces : work, school, and family.
I have been facing a lot of challenges for the 4th space. On the team side, most of us are part time and working remotely and couldn’t focus on our energy consistently to create momentum. On the business model side, the only source for the income is the workshop tocket sales. And all that money can only beak even with the material and operational costs( not counting in human labor costs). On the mentor side, I was seeking help from SCORE, but all the memtors I found were white male doing hardware business or non profit businesses. I feel that they don’t understand me and what I was trying to achieve. I feel stressed and helpless. Nevertheless , after a few dark and hopeless psychological sessions, I force myself back on my feet and get working (even though I don’t know where to go).
I hope you liked my stories and I would like to hear from your self exploration journal and suggestion on the current challenges the 4th space face 🙂