Angela Chee is an award winning television host, journalist, motivational speaker and voiceover artist. Her career has taken her across the country and her work has been seen around the world.
As a mother of 2, she is also the founder of TheZenMom.com, a resource to help moms find peace and balance in their journey because motherhood isn’t always so zen. Angela shares with us her experience in the television industry and how she handles those not-so-zen days as a mother.
Tell us about your blog – The Zen Mom
I basically started it when I was a reporter. When I had my son, I started using the Internet to access all the information I needed. I’m a reporter; so I’m all about information. Even though there was so much support and resources on the Internet, it was also so overwhelming. So, I started the blog as my journey to find the best information for me out there at each stage and it was a way to share what I learned. It really started as a resource for moms. And then it evolved into everything I believe in. The Zen Mom blog is now about who you are as a woman, how to stay balanced, how to stay inspired and empowered so that you can be good to yourself and then be good to your family. I also do Zen Mom TV on my blog, which I’d like to evolve into a show. Wisdom, Inspiration and Laughter is my overall theme and I write about interesting things that I’ve learned and what I feel people need to know. I love sharing quotes in the Monday Motivator. I write about women entrepreneurs, inspirational women and also whatever makes me laugh.
I grew up in Los Angeles, but I was never a showbiz or a Hollywoodtype person. I grew up as a normal teenager in Cerritos, California. I never really wanted to be a celebrity or in movies or anything, but I always wanted to go into news. I really enjoyed television just for the medium. As a young child, it was something I always wanted to do. It has been a long journey. After college, I started off in the corporate world in the entertainment industry. I helped launch Entertainment Tonight China. But I always wanted to be on air and create content and share stories as a news reporter. However, to do that, you initially have to go to a really small market and make little money. And so for me, I went about it a different way. I didn’t go right off from college to a small market. I worked for about 3 years in Hollywood at Paramount Pictures. I helped launch a show to see how things worked in movies, in television and production. In addition, I worked part-time on the weekends in Palm Springs to get the skills that I needed to feel comfortable on TV. I worked 7 days a week for about a year and a half. And then I worked my way up to the small news markets in different cities and eventually back to my hometown in Los Angeles, which was my dream.
What do you love about your roll as a news anchor?
In general, what I love about it the most is just the medium of television. It is the opportunity to take a story that someone doesn’t know about and bring light to it. And you hope that in your career you can shine light on stories that are positive. That’s why my blog is interesting to me. Now, I get to choose what I put out there, which are wisdom, inspiration and laughter. And not to say news is bad. It’s necessary. But it’s not the everyday, because news is whatever is newsworthy. I love my job in general as a storyteller and as someone that has an impact through a blog post or a video or through hosting a television show. When I see something either inspirational or interesting whether it comes from my brain or telling someone else’s story and think, “WOW other people need to know about it,” that is what drives me. It’s about sharing information to impact people’s lives. It’s something beyond just me.
First decide what you really want and why. Find the true meaning of why you want to do it. Don’t get into the industry just because you want to be on television or to be famous. Get to the true core of what drives you, because if you go into this with the wrong reason, you may end up falling flat. Also, know that there will be setbacks. But take those setbacks, never give up and just go for it. Know your limitations. Set your goals.
When you experienced setbacks, what kept you going for your goals?
I’ve always been a very driven person. I set a goal for myself and I just go for it. I always felt like I was meant to do something more and do something that was beyond myself. So, when I hit a setback I kept my focus on my intention and my goals, which was to be able to influence and impact people. However, I was also realistic. I didn’t believe in sacrificing everything. Working hard and giving your all is important, but I think sacrificing everything is not always necessary. You need to make your own decision of what works for you in your life at the time. I gave as much as I could as a single woman and it worked for me back then. When I became a mom, I reshifted my priorities. Although I may still have the same goals, my priorities have shifted and I made sure that it all fit. The overall picture is to reach your goals, be happy, be fulfilled, but if you just feel like you’re resenting whatever you’re doing just to make it to the top, whatever the top is, then it’s really not worth the journey.
Being able to see so much joy and love in my kids’ eyes. I love just being there for them, impacting them, shaping their minds and watching them grow into wonderful people. Right now, I’m not a full-time working mom. And the interesting part is the juggle. Being able to be there for them (and that’s why I left the news full-time at this point) and see the moments and do the everyday things. I do the drop-offs at school, I’ve had food covered all over me, I breastfed, I did all that. However, there’s a part of me that I don’t want to shut down. I still want to be able to have something that I can do with my own brain and thoughts and be able to share it with others aside from being a mom. I think that makes you a better mom.
What advice would you give to moms who are struggling to find the balance in their lives?
My top three things to stay zen and balanced is first, don’t judge and don’t compare. Judging is easy. We all do it. And on the flip side is that you also compare yourself with others, because everyone has a different way of doing things. Don’t always try to keep up with everyone else and don’t be the critic. That’s hard on other people because we’re all just trying to get through it. Second, appreciate the everyday. It is said that motherhood is when the days are long and the years are short. So, when you’re in that moment where you’re going crazy and trying to do it all, you really have to take a step back and know that this day is going to be different five years from now or a year from now. And third is to stay inspired. Don’t forget about yourself. Do whatever you need to stay inspired and do what you’re passionate about. It could be as simple as going for 5-minute walks or going on vacation or going back to work.
I struggle with the guilt. I mean, I’m Chinese… C’mon! But I think guilt is natural. I deal with it by remembering the time when it worked out. I let go of the guilt, did what I did and I was happy, the kids were happy and everything worked out fine. And I wondered why I didn’t do it before… why did I feel guilty? We spend time with the guilt, but it really doesn’t help anybody or make the situation any better. Again, the guilt is natural. If you feel it, know that it’s okay and try to do what’s best for you and your family.
Many moms say that balance in motherhood doesn’t exist.
Balance does exist for moments. You have to find those moments. It’s not going to be 100% of your life. That’s not realistic. It’s not about being so happy all the time and that everything is so wonderful every single minute. It’s about when everything is falling apart, when you don’t have time to work out or don’t have time to do the laundry and everything is just so crazy. And, well, you say this week sucks and then maybe next week I’ll get through some of it. And it’s a reminder that you’re a little behind this week and let’s even it out and get back to the other side. So, it’s always remembering how to get back to zen, how to get back to balance… not that it’s always zen and always balanced. I think that’s what’s important. It’s not real to have everything perfect. That’s the whole point. Some days my skin is shiny and I’m happy, life is great. And the next minute, I’ve got food on me and I’m so tired and then I just screamed at my child and then I feel bad. But then it’s taking breathes and remembering that you need to get back to that place of zen and not always getting stuck in a bad place of constantly feeling so overwhelmed, lonely and tired. It’s really easy to get stuck in the bad place.
I do yoga. I try to do yoga once or twice a week, but sometimes that just doesn’t happen. I also started meditating, which is a new venture for me. I am naturally a go-go, Type A person. I’m always doing stuff for my kids and also always thinking about the next thing in my head. I think that comes from my entrepreneurial spirit. I can never shut down my brain. So, I turned to a formal meditation just this past year and it has really helped. However, I have fallen off the bandwagon. I started off with half hour meditations in the morning and at night. Now, I’m down to half an hour in the morning. It’s all about having a quiet space whether it’s through yoga or meditation to really quiet down my brain and just focus for a little bit, because I’m going all day. I think it’s important to start off the beginning of your day with some sort of quiet time and/or the end of the day where you can just unwind. And if it sometimes doesn’t happen then it doesn’t happen because the kids wake up early. So, give yourself that space but know that sometimes you’re going to have some setbacks and not be able to get it done. Just try again tomorrow. That’s just reality.
Tell us more about your background.
My parents immigrated from China to the East Coast in the 70’s and then had me. Shortly thereafter, we moved straight to California. So, I’m very much a Southern California girl, but also very Chinese. I speak Mandarin and I teach my kids Mandarin at home. I really appreciate the traditional values and everything that my parents did for me. It was always about working hard and they were just very grounded people. And I think that’s what kept me going; remembering how hard they worked to make everything happen. For me, it’s so important to have that grounded family and those traditional values. And I’m trying to pass those on to my children. I met my husband in high school at a leadership camp. We weren’t high school sweethearts or anything, but we dated for the summer and then kept our friendship going long distance. We stayed in touch throughout the years as friends. We always had our separate lives. And about 8 years ago, we started dating as adults and the rest is history. And now we have 2 children, a 4-year- old son and a 2-year-old daughter.
Share one thing that would surprise someone that knows you.
I am actually kind of shy. Even though I’ve been on TV and I’m a speaker and I do all these things in the limelight, I necessarily don’t need to be the center of attention in my personal life. I grew up in a traditional Asian household and I think I still have that little girl inside of me that’s a little shy, which has helped me stay grounded.