It’s already been about a month since I returned to the Center from winter break. Time flies.

Each time I return home, I’m reminded that my daily lifestyle at the Retreat Center is quite unusual. I live with around 15 people aged 18-70 from different backgrounds. My teacher is a world renown martial arts and Qigong author and instructor. Our schedules are packed with training, studying, chores, and other work. My free time is almost non-existent. We rarely leave the Center unless we’re teaching, grocery shopping, or running errands. We spend half the day outside surrounded by trees and with a spectacular view of the mountains. It’s a strange mixture of grueling challenges, personal development, lack of free time and independence, highly productive days, lack of personal space, community support, humble living, facing personal demons, spiritual awakening, and simultaneously being disconnected and connected to the rest of the world.

Throughout the years, many people have discovered the training program and expressed interest in being a full time student. Life is far from the romanticized version of training with the kung fu master and meditating under waterfalls. It’s extremely different from my original expectations, but it’s still the path I desire. Things change, but I’m making it what I want it to be.

When I re-entered the “matrix” this time, the disconnect was more apparent. (We jokingly refer to life off the mountain as being “in the matrix,” but we’re also in a matrix of our own.) As an introvert, it’s not easy to have small talk with most people. If they happen to be interested in hearing about my unconventional lifestyle, the novelty eventually fades. It’s difficult to relate to their daily lives as well. I’ve also become less patient with people who interrupt each other, don’t listen, talk to fill the silence, and speculate and judge other people. Maybe it’s a sign of age, but time has become extremely precious to me and I want to fill it with positivity and/or productivity. Aside from spending time with friends and family, I’m quite happy to be alone training, reading, cooking, or walking/running outside.

the nature matrix

I like the nature matrix

I spent the first few days of my break in New York City for the premiere and to visit family. It was an 180 degree turn from life on the mountain. There was so much noise, not just in the form of sounds but also in visuals and energy. There were people everywhere, but most of them were on their smartphones or going about their business. We were physically connected by sharing the same space, yet mentally separated. Advertisements filled up most of my peripheral vision telling me to buy, watch, or eat something. The sounds I heard were either unwanted or unintended. I’m not against the city lifestyle; it’s just not for me and the mountain life isn’t for most people. On top of that, I attended a premiere for a movie I worked on, which is not what most people do, even in the matrix. My life has been full of ups and I have a lot to be grateful for, it’s just also been a bit odd.

Home is still different from the mountain life but it’s not as drastic as NYC is. It was good to have my own space and time and see friends and family. I needed the break from the schedule and work but I also felt guilty for not doing more. I didn’t even take a complete break since there were media projects and work to do at the office. I can’t not work for too long or I get antsy.

A conversation with friends enlightened me to the changing landscape of communication. I use email and am a proud owner of a flip phone. I didn’t have text messaging until last year and kept it secret for a while. I have to press many buttons to spell out words so my messages are often abrupt and nonsensical. I see squares instead of emojis. I can’t partake in group text chats, not that I want to. I believe I’m one of the few people who still leave voicemails. Smartphones have their conveniences but I have no desire (or need, in my current situation) to own one. I had a work smartphone for some time and felt paranoid. On the streets, I would made sure my back was to a wall before I looked at it, just in case someone wanted to sneak up behind me. The only app I wish I could have is maps.

Apparently, a lot of people don’t use email so much and prefer to use text messaging. One person said she would sometimes be inadvertently left out of social invitations before she got text messaging. One friend confessed to feeling stressed every time he hears his work phone’s text alerts. There’s apparently a range of time you’re supposed to return a text so you don’t appear too desperate or neglectful. For some people, calling a person is considered bothersome when the message could have been transmitted via text.

All of this was part of a greater conversation about how many people prefer to avoid face to face contact and do things over the internet. It’s a generalization of some demographics, but it left me fascinated and a little disturbed.

When I finish my program at Center, what will I be returning to? Will there be people interested in learning what I want to teach? I’m grateful for online learning opportunities for long distance students, but I enjoy in-person exchanges infinitely more. Exchanging martial arts and Qigong experiences is one of the few times when I’m comfortable and enjoy human interaction.

AC Interviews

The attention was inevitable, but to be frank, I feel weird talking about myself unless the discussion is focused on training. It’s also weird to tell people that I talked about myself. But, at the advice of others, I’m sharing the interviews I recently did.

1) “Michelle Lin on Assassin’s Creed & The Tiger Claw Elite Championships” for Kung Fu (December 21, 2016)

This sums up the most commonly asked questions. Gene Ching, Gigi Oh, and the rest of the team – Thank you for the years of friendship and support. I look forward to the TCEC each year. Who would have thought one would lead to this?

2) “刺客教條” 林欣怡 驚艷聖誕大片 for 世界新聞網 World (December 27, 2016)

3) 林欣怡潛心習武意外上銀幕 (& e-paper version) for Epoch Times (December 30, 2016)


Epoch Times Boston Edition

Geek Review: Assassin’s Creed (December 22, 2016)

Not an interview, but my sister found a mention of my character:

The movie’s other minor saving grace is the unabashed use and display of female stunt actors. Apart from Labed, there is another female Assassin in the mix, Michelle Lin, who plays, well, Lin. It is a possible easter egg that hints at the franchise’s famous female assassin, Shao Jun. Lin is as agile, ferocious, skilled and lethal as her male counterparts if not more so. She’s fast and furious, a joy to watch on screen as she beats her opponents into bloody messes without needing any help from her fellow Assassins.

How was the premiere?

This semester was especially busy with curriculum restructuring, Shining Link, authoring & producing an instructional video, and end-of-semester testing. I didn’t have time to think about the premiere until a few days prior. I wear training clothes 99% of the time so hair, makeup, dresses, and heels are fairly foreign to me. Sunday – flew to Boston. Monday – bought shoes & dress at the mall on the way to driving to NYC. Tuesday – hair cut in the morning, hair done at Drybar in the afternoon, and makeup done at MAC about 1 hour before the premiere. I ended up really liking my sister’s dress (and it has pockets!) so I wore it instead.

The premiere was at the AMC 25 near Times Square. I went up the elevator and as soon as the doors opened, I saw flashes go off and a sea of photographers yelling (nicely) at the stars on the red carpet. I nearly chickened out but I thought, “I came this far, I have to keep going.” It was but another challenge. And this is what I do.


I walked up and Michael K. saw me first and gave me a hug before putting me between himself and Marion. She remembered me and gave me a hug as well. I waved to the others before we had to stand still again for the photos. There’s an Oscar nominee, Oscar winner, Oscar winner, other award winning professional actors, director, and then there’s me. I heard some photographers ask, “Who’s the Asian girl?” haha. (Ariane came a bit later.)

- New York, NY - 12/13/16 -Twentieth Century Fox and New Regency Productions Present a Special Screening of "Assassins Creed" - Pictured: Cast of Assassins Creed - Photo by: Dave Allocca/Starpix -Location: AMC Empire

– New York, NY – 12/13/16 -Twentieth Century Fox and New Regency Productions Present a Special Screening of “Assassins Creed”
– Pictured: Cast of Assassins Creed
– Photo by: Dave Allocca/Starpix
-Location: AMC Empire

I was nervous as hell and walked off after the photo. I probably would have stayed to do interviews if I had a publicist, but I decided to find my family and enjoy the film. It was better than I had hoped and there was even a surprise! (I can’t say it or it will spoil it for those who haven’t watched it.)

Afterwards, there was a reception where I briefly talked to the director and co-stars and met a group of die hard AC fans and Ubisoft employees. I’m really glad to hear that they loved the film.

Ben – Thank you for getting tickets for my sister and dad. It really means a lot to us.

She was lucky!

Part of it started with the 2015 Tiger Claw Elite Championship, but it actually began years before, due to everyone I’ve met and the events that shaped me into the person I am today. I was not lucky to get this role. I trained for myself. I trained for the tournament. I worked on my audition video. I worked off and on the set before and during production. I’m only saying this to encourage people to keep working for their goals and don’t rely on a break. Never stop working. I don’t care if some people think I was lucky. If luck was all it took, I’d have no reason to be proud. (I hesitate to use the word “proud,” since I see all the areas where I could have done better.)

I’m grateful and proud to have been a part of the “Assassin’s Creed” production but it was one small chapter in my life. On to the next chapter.