“Constraints” Fiction. Based on a True Mentor-Mentee Conversation.

“Freeing yourself of yourself of the boundaries, of the constraints. Taking charge. Realizing that you are a powerful being, you are a divine creature, you can be anything you want as long as you have a plan of action and assemble the right people.” -Andrea Saenz


Fiction. Based on a True Mentor-Mentee Conversation.

by Mingjie Zhai

This journal entry is inspired by true events. Some of the characters, names, businesses, incidents, and certain locations and events have been fictionalized for dramatic purposes. Any similarity to the name, character or history of any person is entirely coincidental and unintentional.

Human Boxes

“The box is different than the behavior,” Robin pointed out. “Human Beings will always be Human Beings.”

They were at Starbucks post filming for the Anti-bully campaign at Animo Watts High School.

“Human beings are the vessels,” she said.

“The behavior is separate. You got to be able to differentiate the two.”

It surprised Angelie that Robin, after years of witnessing children’s deaths, sometimes in the most gruesome horrid ways unimaginable to the human psyche,  had come to this conclusion.

Robin and Angelie shared a common language–service. To a point of martyred service. Robin would work full time for the government as a social worker helping foster youths who grew up in broken homes, kids whose fathers and mothers told them they wished they hadn’t existed.

Robin was there to pick up the broken pieces–all thirty plus years of her life. After surviving her own childhood assaults, while pushing through the foster care system, she knew this was her calling–and it was this knowing, rooted upon purple and red–like the color of beets, like the stems of a kale flower, that kept her rooted in the mission. It was the color of pain and power all wrapped in the stains, tucked away inside boxes–the subconscious holds the key, and when the pressure gets too great, the gatekeeper would let out a tiny bit of that purple and red, and let it run havoc so that Robin berserks into Robin hood and Angelie berserks into Angelina Jolie in Lara Croft.

Dead Babies

“Success is measured by what?” Robin gave her a look of “duh” when Angelie commiserated to her newly found mentor that she felt unsuccessful. Angelie was living one disability paycheck to the next, and she would secretly beat herself up for going to that restaurant or buying a ticket to go see the movies. It seemed like a luxury nowadays. But she had to remind herself that this was not a pity party. The number 13 had been planted all around her reality, reminding her that it wasn’t going to be easy, but her choices to choose higher self would lead her to create an inner peace that is embedded among the light workers who have all chosen the right hand path of God.

“Filthy rich people are one of the most miserable people out there,” Robin interrupted her thoughts.

“They offered me a million dollars and I had walked away from it because…”

“Because it’s your baby,” Anglie interrupted.

Robin hovered closer to Angelie as if ready to tell her a secret.

“Let me tell you something,” she said, “You know how many dead babies I’ve seen in my lifetime?” Her eyes were red.

Angelie couldn’t and didn’t want to imagine. She was already traumatized watching Trainspotting and couldn’t begin to fathom seeing a dead baby in reality.

“It’s not my baby. It’s my walk. And when they offered me a million dollars, they wanted me to walk. But you know what? They don’t have my mission. They haven’t seen what I’ve seen, they won’t know where or how to use this for the purpose, for the cause that I use it for.”

Angelie nodded. She knew exactly what Robin meant.

Angelie said, “I was fearful of someone else stealing my idea, but then I realized that this idea will be used elsewhere anyway, but nobody in this world will use it the way I use this tool.” Angelie was talking integrating Augmented Reality to inspire hope for the broken hearted (including the depressed and suicidal like herself). She was talking about the kind of emotional hurt and betrayal that turned pretty Asian girls into the girl from The Ring.

“So long as nobody else prevents me from using it, they have their own walk with it,” she continued, “This is my walk, my calling, and no matter how others do it, nobody will be able to do it the way I want to do it.”  

The realization brought sudden peace in her heart.

“That’s right. You no longer need to feel guilty for being in charge. Like you’re some second class citizen. Take charge. Own it. Own your power and steer that ship,” she said.

Own Your Power

“I need to organize my life. I’m so messy,” Angelie said. She thought about the reasons why Branson perhaps no longer wanted to have anything to do with her. He was a neat, put together kind of dude and she was just the opposite. The time he had grabbed her keys and moved her car to let his dad out of the driveway after they had just made love, he came inside to a foul smelling dirty car. The smell of dirty wet socks and shoes stunk up her car after she had left the snowboarding gear inside, displayed for a full birthday boarding from the day before. The thought of this compared to the clean, well made girls —them model type of girls— made her feel even smaller, like the high school loser compared to the jock-star cheerleader that all the boys were after.

“Why control something that is causing you to be brilliant?” Robin interrupted her thoughts.

Angelie thought about this for a minute. Her car is a mess, her room is a mess, her organization is a mess…yet Robin called her out on this self-destructive illusion of self-loathing. Can she just embrace and accept that she is disorganized in thought, in the way she has her room because of the way she focuses her energy? To someone like Angelie, the world is already in constant chaos, and shifting, and swirl of moving materials circulating centripetal to destruction, and reincarnation, and making the time, energy and effort in arranging for order was, in her point of view, a waste of time. She was one to embrace the chaos by capturing dystrophy for what it is. For some, the action of cleaning is mindful, zen, and therapeutic, but to someone like Angelie, it was energy she could be using to create new synapses of reality in the transmedia format. She has a story to amplify…well…stories to amplify.

“I don’t know. Because I guess being neat is a sign of intelligence?”

“You dismiss yourself you know that?” Robin continued.


“Think about it.”

Angele thought about it. She thought about her mother saying, “Don’t worry about it. This is adult conversation,” when Angelie was curious as to what they were talking about.

“I do?” she asked.


“You do.

“See if you can catch it.”

She knew this woman was speaking truth and calling her out on playing herself small, but it was a different ball game to actually change what she already knows she wants to change. 

Dying Roses

When Angelie was on her period, she bled red and black. She looked into the sinkhole of the toilet bowl and saw that the red spread like the color of The Love Story Journal’s bleeding heart– diffusing out in dancing waters. It looked like layers of rose petals. At the heart of the red rose is black–like the seed of an apple. And as she stared even closely to the red and black, she also saw all the potential of a life that was eager for implantation. Like the Italian man who bought her three red roses, the roses that are now shriveling into dark red like the color in the center of this toilet boil, but those dying roses now feel like paper machete. She saw their baby in that dark pit. Beautiful. Black. Bold. It looked like an avocado seed snug inside the red waters right before she flushed.  

Outside the Box

Where is my anger directed to? Where is it coming from?

What is it about the abuse, the trauma, the neglect? The crying, the vulnerability, the victimhood. Where is this impatience coming from?

How do I allow instead of control?

Where is this impatience coming from?

Where is this need to make people small, make them feel dumb? Was she this insecure that she needs constant reassurance that she belongs to this world?

Where is this coming from?

Matrilineal lineage.

Where is it coming from?

From inside the box


Robin has interviewed over 6000 families that have been or have caused victims of domestic violence.

She looked at Angelie and saw her for the she who cries herself to sleep, who has looked into the mirror many times and found some type of shortage, some fault, some imperfection that just felt like it wasn’t good enough. The irritation. The spell cast by some force that passed down from one maternal bloodline to the next.

But this time, it was Robin who intervened in that reflection. Robin saw Angelie for who she is going to become–a lady of virtue, a beauty that is forming within, growing the bridge that bridges the gap between society’s commercial standard of beauty and the reality of beauty.

Beauty that is more felt than seen.

It is Robin who saw into the beautiful soul of Angelie and Angelie, being an empath herself, recognized it in Robin. Angelie was wearing mismatched socks inside a three year old pair of sneakers, black yoga pants peppered with Roxy’s hair and plaid purple and blue jacket to clash with her purple sweatshirt. She hadn’t brushed her hair in years, letting it run wild, with bags under her eyes from the long hours of staring into LED screens of computers, tablets, and phones, and wears fist sized knots along her trapezoids from typing into a keyboard in hunch over position for long hours everyday, editing, writing and sending messages across virtual space. She felt unattractive, ugly, and square but when Robin had stared into her eyes, initially to size her up, she started to acknowledge her for the inner beauty she has inside. Angelie was becoming moved and tears began welling up and falling in triplets down her chipmunk cheeks.

Robin saw her as a survivor, a victim of domestic abuse, a victim of years of being dismissed for her work, for her energy, for being in the thick of the minority victim race. Angelie was her own worst enemy because the truth is that this is the best time to be an Asian American business woman, yet who was holding her back except herself? 

What is the constraint?

The Fear of Responsibility.

Playing a bigger game means more people who will rely on her.

Why is she holding herself back?

Because there is a part of her that is afraid of letting people down. But the truth is people will be let down no matter what because people, like her, have unrealistic expectations and enough is never enough demands as well. She once read Brian Tracy’s Eat That Frog that discipline and constraint creates a new kind of freedom.

She is ready for that.

Where can I meet people in the middle? Without being the judge or the victim? Where can I find the peace? Where is the third “I”?

The “I” of compassion for humans.

Where can I find the space to create?

The space to be.





Spiritual bindings.

Red Roses.

Thinking Outside the Box is Out-of-the-Box Thinking

She shows Angelie her cell phone. She points at the cell phone and tells her, “That’s the Human.” Then she points at her keys which are within a few inches away from the cell phone and tells her, “This is the behavior.”  

Human Beings are the vessels.

The behavior is separate.

“I’m doing an Artist-Inspired Journaling in the third “I”, revealing the Ego,” she tells Robin.

“You can’t separate the ego from the individual. It should be looked at as a whole,” she says back.

Perfect Beings.

Ryan Hurtgen.


What am I pursuing?

What is this about?

What is this about?

I don’t like this person saying this thing about me.

I don’t like that other person saying that other thing about me.

I don’t like it when I am this way about me.

I don’t like that about me.

She wants to unload all her complaints to Robin, but a few seconds in, Robin has nipped it in the bud.

“Why waste your energy?” she says, “Who is holding you back?”

No one. No one but…

“Me,” Angelie responds.

Robin takes the bottom seam of her sleeve and starts pulling it in the opposite direction of where she was feigning to run the other way.

“Who’s holding you back?” she repeats.

“Me,” Angelie says again, louder.

“Who has that straight jacket on you?” she asks again.

“Me again,” Angelie mumbles.

“What? I can’t hear you.”

“Nobody has put that straight jacket on but myself,” Angelie replies.

Selective Membrane

“You got to make time to sleep, you got to make time for your family, you got to make time for your friends, make time, you feel me?” Robin says.

“Why waste all that energy? Focus on the love. Focus on the commitment.”

Every time Angelie fixates on form, she loses focus on the function.

Every time Angelie focus on what is missing, she feels overwhelmed….cause something is always missing.

Focus on function and the form will show up on its own time, in its own way.

Focus on the blessings and more blessings will show up.

Treat others the way you want to be treated.


Think outside the box.

What is the box?


And then we go into MK, Association with the Box.


Black out drunk.

What happens to Pandora’s box when all that somethingness comes out.

What is that somethingness?

Let go, not yours.

It’s their doubts.

Let go. Not yours.

You’re a transmitter and you’re a receiver

and you transmit other people’s doubts but you have a choice, you can listen but you don’t have to take on their belief system.

Let it pass through.

One ear out through the other,

channel through,

filter through,

perhaps that is the constraint Brian Tracy was referring to.

Let it bounce like a permeable membrane–osmosis out what doesn’t work in her belief system. Filter in what does work in her belief system.

Perhaps constraint is a selective membrane.

What did Robin say?

That she has to allow herself to be,

just know that she has a choice in the matter,

to receive and leave.

She has the power,

Angelie, she has the power to determine how she chooses to react to any situation, any circumstance.

Why does she still need to ask for permission like some second class citizen? She has to believe.

She has to believe. She has to acknowledge what’s so. And what is so?

God has given her power and she can do all things through Christ Jesus.

She has to let go cause when that control comes on, it triggers other people’s control. Remember what Hana said? One triggering the other. One anxiety triggering the other anxiety. One depressive state triggering the other depressive state? And back and forth. Fear triggering fear. Bipolar triggering bipolar. Super sensitive antenna. We all are.

A Woman’s Burqa.

I want to tell stories of women who empower other women.

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