As the story has it, one day I headed to the opposite side of the globe – the Flipside. I arrived in Korea on February 16th, 2005 and thought I’d do a year, then leave. I went from being some random foreign girl to taking on labels I never imagined – university professor, film extra, professional boxer, reality TV star, CEO of my own girls-only fitness company (Flipside Fitness), CEO of my own boxing club (Hulk's Club, formerly known as Hulk's Boxing), and now I'm launching my 3rd business -- Empowered Clubhouse.

After 11.5yrs in Korea, I then picked up one day and returned to Toronto, Canada. But then I left again. This time it was for the Philippines. That's where I am now, living in the land of the happy people. The struggles are real and the struggles are many but I'm living life on my terms, I'm calling the shots, and I'm doing what I love. Life is an amazing adventure and this is my story of yesterday.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Paying it Forward because I Can and I Want to... Wednesday, November 9

When I first moved to Canada one of my sponsors had asked me to integrate myself into the community -- get involved and give back.  He suggested volunteer work but with living out of the country for such a chunk of time it was hard to give any kind of reference or background info on my jobs and whatnot because all my contacts are Koreans in Korea.  Moreover, I lived in Korea for 11 years and I was my own boss.  Throw in the fact that I was all over the place juggling my training -- running, boxing and weights -- and ya, trying to lock me down with a set volunteering schedule was another obstacle I had to deal with.

My way of "dealing with" it was to create my own thing.  After a month of living here I then created my own means of "volunteering", a way I could give back.  You see, at church they take up tithes and offering and it's kind of a standard thing to give 10% of what you make to the church, as a member.  However, I had no earnings, only money from my sponsor in Korea, no real cash flow.  At the 6th month mark though, what limited money I was getting from Korea was then cut in half because of promised fights from my former coach that never evolved into anything more than false promised and crashed hopes.  It was tight for awhile, no lie about it, but I am a fighter.  I'm a survivor.  Eventually I did get random jobs here and whatever I made via such jobs I put aside 10%.  It wasn't much and ya I could have given the full 10% to the church but I ended up only giving some of my money from my sponsor.  What I did with the 10% from my part time random jobs was then buy coffee and food for random street people I'd see on my way to training.  At Dufferin and Bloor there was a couple with a dog whom I use to always buy coffee and bagels for and then at Bathurst and Bloor there was a middle aged man I used to buy coffee and a meal for.  I had my "regulars" that I reached out to on a weekly bases and then if I had money left over I'd extend my reach to others along my path. 

This time last week I ran into one of the men I use to always buy coffee for here in Cabbagetown.  I was heading to the Toronto Reference Library when I stopped to buy a coffee at Tim Horton's and was interrupted by a man who wanted to pay for my coffee.  It was him, the man from Cabbagetown that I used to buy coffee for every Monday at the McDonalds at Sherborne and Bloor.  He was still looking a bit rough compared to the average person but, compared to what he used to look like, he now looked like a shiny new penny.  He told me he now has a part time job and can now buy his own coffee... "and the occasional coffee for a pretty face", he added. 

I thought about him today when I was rushing off to work.  I'm now working the early morning Wednesday shift at the woman's only gym.  I thought of him today when I was leaving the subway station and saw a man sitting on the floor, begging for money.  There use to be a time where I felt one inch away from being in a similar situation -- being penniless and homeless -- and it scared me but it made me work harder.  It would have been so easy for me to return to Korea, to avoid having to start all over in Canada.  In Korea I ran the country's largest boxing club -- an 11,000 square foot club that was very successful, a club that took my worries related to money away.  But I don't live in Korea any more and I'm doing my thing here in Canada.  I don't ever want to be an inch away ever again though and every day I am constantly reminded when I see someone roughing it out, asking for food or money. 

Today I received a most unexpected gift -- a bag of groceries.  It would have been so easy for me to simply take that home and put the contents of that bag in my fridge and cupboard but I didn't. I knew someone needed them more than me so I went back to the subway and gave them to the man in the station.  He had been there all morning and it was now afternoon.  I didn't say anything to him, just walked up to him, put the bag down and then I walked away.  The man yelled out thank you to me as I continued on my way. 

I'm proud of the struggle I went through with building Hulk's and I'm proud of the struggle I went through with restarting a new life here in Canada.  The struggle is real and the struggle continues but I have overcame some amazingly high obstacles that even some of my closest friends questioned whether or not I could and I continue to do so.  There was a time when the shop keepers who shared the same street I was building Hulk's on used to stand around taking bets on when they thought my business would crash.  Years later and my club is still going strong.  It's now bigger too, 3,000 square feet bigger.  The struggles are a part of the story though.  They're to be acknowledged, respected and learned from.  My story isn't over, my story is fantastic but it's not over.  Similarly my struggle isn't over too but it's molding me into the stronger person I'm needing to be so that I can reach my potential and launch myself forward. 

I really don't care why that man I gave that gift of groceries to is homeless, it's irrelevant to me, but I can relate with his struggle.  We all have struggles but I don't share his struggle anymore and what a beautiful thing it is to be able to lend a helping hand and give back.  Today I gave back something that I didn't even expect to get myself, it was a gift to me, but it felt good to pay it forward.  The struggle is real but that doesn't mean we can't help each other out.

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