I started writing...
As a kid, I started writing, when I was mad, sad and happy. Somehow writing had medicinal effect on my mood. Writing when I was mad gave me soothing peace. Writing when I was sad gave me hope. Writing when I was happy gave me a bubbling heart. Before I knew it, I was hooked on writing.
Every curve I turned, I realized there was new laughter, new tears and new joy found. Looking into my own heart, introspecting the dreams that I had as a kid, I wanted to live a life without shame, regret and remorse.
Writing and sharing my story gives me a humility for how little I have accomplished. Yet, it gives me a chill, seeing how far I have come from a little village in Korea with my soul still singing with joy and hope…
I never imagined it would take decades to have the courage to write again. Fear of my mediocre writing and anxiety over imperfection was my excuse. However, I also never imagined being where I am today, CEO of Kodee and Egghart Consulting.
Nonetheless, it’s time. These next ten stories are for me and you.
Story One: In the beginning, there were words…
No child grows up dreaming of becoming an accountant. Children dream of being firemen, ballerinas, presidents, or doctors; never an accountant. When I was a child, I dreamed of being a writer, I was fascinated by stories… all kinds of stories. However, I accidentally fell into the accounting profession and all those childhood dreams ended up being just dreams.
Some of my early childhood memories involve stories I heard from the maids my family had back home in Korea. I called them 'Sister,' a term used to refer to an older woman. These girls were sent by their poor parents from the countryside to cities, as live-in nannies and maids. Although I was only four years old, I adored them like real sisters. They were vivacious, outgoing young teens who treated me like their younger sister who they left at their homes. The best part was that they shared old folk lore and tales with me from their villages. After they finished their chores, assigned by my mother, they would share stories of deep mountain passes, tigers, vast oceans, and how a young girl was sold for her blind father. I would wait patiently all day to hear their stories and at night I dreamed richly of the stories I heard during the day.
One day, there were no more Sisters, and gone with them were their stories. My father had fallen ill, and we could no longer afford anything but the necessities. A couple of years later, a boy came to live with us - Brother. He was the son of my mother's friend who came to live with us when his parents were transferred to a different city. I quickly trained him to replace the Sisters whom I missed so much. Every evening, he faithfully told me a new story. He took his storytelling duties very seriously. He shared tales of sailors and pilots, and magical witches and again, I went to sleep with vivid dreams and endless imaginations. Before I knew it, my love for stories became even stronger and it was increasingly difficult for Brother to meet my demands. I began to realize he had finally run out of stories to make up and had started buying books to read to me. Once I found out his secret; the source of his wonderful, endless stories, there was no end in sight.
While I waited for Brother to return from school, I started reading comic books. I would go to a comic book store in the morning and started “reading.” Actually I didn’t know how to read; but was able to get stories from pictures. My emphatic reaction to books was often interpreted as strokes of genius. People thought I was a child prodigy whose reading ability was impressive. There were times where I got so swept away, I lost track of time. One day, I woke up from one of those reading sessions and found out the police were looking for me. My mother had filed a missing child’s report. I came home and had to face with my mother's fury and relief at the same time. That was the last day I got to go to the comic bookstore.
By then, Brother had become weary of reading and reciting stories to me. It was too time consuming in conjunction to his other duties. Before he stopped, he gave me the ultimate gift - he taught me how to read.
I was now able to get stories whenever I wanted. I read books for their stories and I didn’t know how to stop in the middle; I had to finish a book until I got the whole story. This type of reading was disruptive. I was grounded many times by reading overnight during school nights. I never found a dull story in a book, any story I read I found entertainment and meaning in it. Being scarce resources as a book was, I could not afford to get another book because it was “boring”. If it was necessary, I injected my own characters or events in a story in order to keep it interesting. Stories from books were more real to me than reality itself. My daily life got more colorful when I added spices from what I read in a book. Books were my source of entertainment and escape from real life. They taught me how to find value between the lines, and to look for the hidden wonder in things that seem uninteresting at first glance.
As I begun school, one of my book reports offered me an honor of National Awards, which gave me a first trip to Seoul to receive the prize money. Eventually I started entering writing contests and became the young celebrity in town known for my writing. As the time went by, it was my fundamental belief that I was destined to be a writer. That conviction carried me to college, and I studied Journalism in Korea in order to hone my skills and focus on my destined path.
Fast forward to a decade later. I decided to study accounting in Utah - thousands and thousands of miles away from my home, Korea. My dreams were squashed by the weight of reality - an immigrant, expectant mother with no English skills. Moreover, as I grew, I mourned the loss of my native tongue and the ease I had in conveying my thoughts and beliefs so fluidly. Moving to another country, with the hopes of creating a new life, I found myself in a place where I had no language. I realized I couldn't write either in English or in Korean. Writing - the thing that had come so easily to me - was a struggle that would take years and years to return to. I felt that loss and grief in my heart deeply. I accepted my new reality; trying to forge ahead in a new language. As much as I had lost, I was setting myself up to gain so much more.
I dedicate this story to many unnamed Sisters and the Brother who became a medical doctor later in Seoul.
Story Two – there is a story everywhere even in accounting – coming soon.
Story Two: Lost and Found