Lianna Shen

let's be honest

I’m Bossy


Between Sophia Amoruso’s #GIRLBOSS, Sheryl Sandberg and company’s campaign to #BanBossy, and then last weekend, being called “bossy” for the trillionth time in my life at a dinner party while making guacamole (don’t mash it up too much, leave some chunks. take the seeds out of the jalapeños, otherwise it will be too spicy)…I felt it was time to express how I feel about this funny little word.

I’ve been called bossy my whole life. And I promise, I have called others this word as well (mostly little friends in elementary school, when we were mad at each other). Now that I think of it, most of my close girlfriends today are what one would call “bossy”. Independent, opinionated, strong women - who like to lead.

These days I run two companies alongside my partner who I guess would also be considered bossy, though he is male. It’s my job to make decisions, pay bills, have an opinion, drive a direction. If I’m not boss-like enough, the companies would fail to exist.

So here’s the thing. I don’t mind being called bossy. It doesn’t really bother me because I know that most of the time, the person using the word does not mean that I am overly authoritative; domineering; overbearing; abrasive; highhanded - as is the dictionary definition. I’d like to think that they mean that I am “acting like a boss.” Which I am. Perhaps they don’t see it in as much a positive light as I do, but hey. We all have our own opinion.

And if that bothers you, then…go away. Because I’ve got boss stuff to do.

Eden: A Novelette

Writing Eden was an exploration of soul. It started as a novel - a love story between young Lila and wise Spencer. Soon after I started writing, it evolved into its own form - a short but potent novelette.

People often ask me if my writing is autobiographical. While all my pieces are fiction, I think all fiction writers implement a piece of themselves into their writing - whether purposefully or unconsciously.

The character of Spencer is inspired by a real person - a friend of mine who recently passed away. Our time together was slight but great - as if our souls had met far earlier than our bodies.

Enjoy this quick read. Happy Holidays.

One Day

One day, I’m going to get over my fear of rollercoasters. One day, I’m going to quit my job and start my own company. One day, I’m going to write a novel.

At some point in the past year, I decided to start doing all my “One Days”, today.

YESTERDAY, I submitted my first novel to Amazon’s KDP platform for self-publishing. The book is called: “A Chance of Clouds” ). Not to be mistaken with the children’s series “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs”.

I started writing this novel in June, and it has been the worst thing ever for my social life. When my friend Adam came over to shoot the book cover, I realized it was the most dressed up I’d been in months. And I was still wearing slippers.

A couple things happened within the last 24 hours, since publishing:

-I was so happy to see my book listed as #8 on the Asian-American section of the Kindle store that I nearly cried. It’s very misleading because it’s based on downloads, and I did tell a few people to download it.
-Someone told me they hated my cover and I nearly cried, again
-I couldn’t sleep, worrying about what my parents are going to think when they hit the “sexy” pages
-I emailed Seth Godin, asked him what he thought about my editorial process, cited some criticism I had already received; he pretty much told me to get over it and start writing my second book.

Anyhow, will keep posting on the adventure ahead. And it seems a trip to Six Flags is in order. Right after I write my second book, that is.

Set It and Forget It

Set it and Forget it

Many think that starting a company goes like this:

Step 1: Start company
Step 2: Company is good, relax
Step 3: Success

Starting a company is only paperwork - everything else takes a lot more time, patience, strategy, thinking, and definitely is not as easy as roasting a chicken.

Standing on My Head

In elementary school, I could never make it across the monkey bars on the playground. My hands were too small, my arms too weak, and my plump little body was more plump than little. Watching my lithe playmates swing across the horizontal ladders during recess, I’d drop my chin deep into my jacket collar, stuff my hands into my pockets, and go sit on the tire swings instead. But no spinning the swing, please! Because unfortunately I had an unbalanced inner ear and became nauseated quite easily.

Fifteen years later in the middle of winter, women twice my age are standing on their heads in the middle of a room in the Jivamukti Yoga Studio in downtown Toronto. I had just moved to the city and the apartment I lived in was fatefully across the street from said studio. I had practiced Yoga before but never the head-standing kind. As a matter of fact I’d even been certified to teach Hatha yoga during a quick 2-month retreat but this was quite different.

While the head-standing ladies did their thing I faithfully performed my beginner’s level dolphin push-ups, all the while feeling like the seven-year-old on the playground, watching the acrobats from the tire swing.

After class I trudged through the blizzard and up into my apartment. I Googled “How to do a headstand in Yoga” and watched a YouTube video of an old Indian man floating on his head. I placed blankets on the floor near a wall and went into my “you can do this” zone.

It took a few months but I began to stand on my head when the leaves started to bud in spring.

I didn’t think much of it. In fact I was mildly embarrassed that it meant so much for me to be able to stand on my head, almost like proving something to myself. It’s still a difficult posture for me today because my mind begins to wander. Perhaps the difficulty has always all been in my head.

This past Christmas, seven years later, in middle of winter in the desert, after months of deliberation, my husband of four months and I decided to quit our jobs. On my 28th birthday in January we launched, a company that celebrates independent designers, meaningful retail and thoughtfulness.

It is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, and I’m learning to do things that feel very unnatural. Every day I feel like I am trying to do a headstand. Or doing dolphin push-ups while everyone else is doing a headstand.

But I tell myself – at least I am trying to do a headstand. Because in retrospect, I don’t think I ever actually tried to swing across the monkey bars.