At age 7, she was shipped off to live with an aunt, Tam said, and from then through age 11, worked with their maid's daughter as a child laborer, assembling 100 plastic flowers for $1 from their living room or on the streets.
Comparatively, many American women were conditioned from childhood to be good daughters, students, wives, mothers and community members, Tam said. “Today, we're still being conditioned that we have to have it all — career, kids, self actualization, the right partner and oh, by the way, we have to look good, too. It's crazy,” she said, “a tremendous burden for anyone.”
Tam advises women to align all of their decisions with the unique life purposes they individually seek, and let go of anything that isn't in accordance. “We don't have to wait, but make a difference where we are,” said Tam, who started as an assistant buyer for May Department Stores.
“Lots of people ask me what my favorite job was,” she said. “My answer always is: the one I'm doing now, or otherwise I wouldn't be doing it.”
Tam founded the Us Foundation, which has collaborated with other nonprofits to aid in Haiti, with New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and elsewhere, and has authored three books. Her latest, “The Happiness Choice: The Five Decisions That Will Take You From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be,” focuses on finding balance in mind and body, personal relationships, one's spiritual core, finances and community.
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