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Mums We Love: Joyce Star Tan (a.k.a J*)

Mums We Love: Joyce Star Tan (a.k.a J*), author, singer, songwriter, chief content creator at BiG Secret Life and mum to two lovely girls
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By Seraphina Khoo
December 20, 2021

A model, actress, singer/songwriter, loving mama, Joyce Star Tan  exudes creativity and shares her life perspectives to empower everyday people every day in their personal development journey. She began her career in public relations for a publishing company and also dabbled in marketing communications. Thereafter she took on a stint as a stylist which led to a modelling contract plus opportunities to host with various agencies. Joyce’s collaboration with Warner Music and Ministry of Sound as well as an online show featuring musicians and deejays kickstart her journey towards understanding the mechanics of show business. Merging all her expertise in media, entertainment, social media branding and marketing skillsets, her latest passion is creating content to empower people in their journey of awareness. Joyce shares with us her motherhood journey, outlook in life, latest book and plans for her future with BiG Secret Life.

Tell us a little about yourself, about your family and career background.

I believe in honesty and integrity. I want to give love and be loved. I try my best to be kind. I have lots of empathy, sometimes too much. I feel everything.

I am a work in progress. Always learning in the school of life. I am a fast learner. I am open to new ideas and have a non-stop brain that creates lots of ideas, which I used resourcefully when I was working in marketing and public relations in my first jobs, then as a copywriter, host, model and actress later, and now in the different creative projects I am working on.

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I co-created two beautiful girls that are unique individuals and I enjoy watching them grow into their own person. They are like my heart walking outside of me and because of them, I finally know what real love is.

Who or what shaped your character, attitude and approach to life?

So many different people have added value to my life. Some have added pain and hurt. All my experiences with everyone has helped shape me. But ultimately, I have always been who I am at my core, even if I wasn’t so self-aware back then. I guess at every stage of my life, my inner compass is what I base my decisions on, my attitude, and my approach to life that shapes my character.

Do you think your outlook in life has changed once you became a mum?

Definitely. A lot of priorities and perspectives have shifted. I am now not just responsible for myself. I also have a responsibility to love my children and raise them so they grow up into responsible and loving human beings.

What was your first-time motherhood journey like?

Like a journey into the unknown. No amount of research and books can prepare you for the reality that is unique to every new mum and with each new child.

Joyce, pictured here with her husband and daughters, Skyrah and Ava. Photo Credit: Joyce Star Tan (a.k.a J*)

If there was one thing you wish you’d have done better as a first-time mum, what would it be and why?

I would throw away all the parenting books written by nurses or nannies or any adult who is not even a mum or dad themselves, yet selling books on how to get results we want from our kids, which is not necessarily what is best for our kids or our relationship with them. This is especially so for sleep training, potty training or disciplining kids type of books. I felt like a failure every time I followed the books but never got the results that the books said I should be getting. I wish I had been able to realise the what the important things were back then so I could be free enjoy my kids better.

Is there anything you miss doing before becoming a mum?

Being spontaneous and doing whatever I want, whenever I want, sleeping in late and travelling all around the world without having to consider if the activity is safe and kid-friendly.

One thing you love about being a mum?

My kids. I enjoy the time I have with them.

What advice would you give a mum-to-be?

Love. Just love. First make sure you heal your inner child so you can love yourself. Only then will you have true love within you to give to your child. A child is not a burden that you have to take care of. A child is a person you get to love and also needs and wants your love. Once love is the goal, not fear, everything else will fall into place.

Tell us what are the activities that you enjoy doing most with your family.

Exploring new places and doing fun activities to gain new experiences together.

Of the many career hats that you’ve worn and now wear, which do you love the most?

For me, word play is fun. Right now, I am enjoying the process of writing songs and making it ready for radio. I love that music allows me to express myself meaningfully and creatively.

What are the challenging aspects of your work and how do you overcome them?

Having to multi-task and also starting something for the first time is challenging in all ways possible. Long story short, I overcome them one step at a time. I ask myself what I have to do next, then go figure out how to do it, get it done, then ask what’s next.

Sisters Skyrah and Ava, stars of the Joyce’s ‘NIGHT TO DAY’ book. Photo Credit: @bigsecretlifebooks on Instagram

What’s the most fulfilling part about starting your own business or project?

I care about the big questions of life. And about the journey of self-awareness. Now that I have had lots of ‘a-ha!’ moments of my own, I want to share them in a way that is simple to understand. Who knows what difference that can make and who it could make a difference to. BiG Secret Life is about discovering the answers to your questions within you. If you want to find your purpose in life, here is the link to a free e-book I wrote. Now that I have something meaningful to say, it feels good to have it come together using different platforms to express universal life truths and my other skill sets creatively. Hopefully if I put good things out into the world, good things will happen.

Tell us more about ‘NiGHT TO DAY’ – the poem, song and book – we love to hear all about it!

NiGHT TO DAY is a beautiful bedtime book about how change is a natural flow of the cycle of each day, even if the darkest night turns into day. Every day, we get a fresh start. I find such results of change very inspiring and wish to share this message of hope. Originally, I wrote the book to capture how time felt slow yet super-fast, especially when watching your kids grow up. That is the beauty of each moment. You can find out more at www.bigsecretlife.com/bigsecretlifebooks/nighttoday.

Greatest achievement – personal and/or work?

I just discovered I have ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder), but was never diagnosed as a kid. This explains so much! But before realising that, I had already found my own way to overcome the challenges that I faced as a result of it, for example, finishing what I start. I key everything into my google calendar to be organised so that I can prioritise into bite size action steps and get things done.

I have lots to celebrate and be proud of. I managed to stay strong and keep my family running smoothly during the difficult years when my husband was treated for a critical illness. Then I figured out how to self-publish a book from scratch and now I am in the process of another totally new thing for me – making a music album – something I never thought I could do.

Hardest life struggle you’ve had to go through and how you overcame it?

Healing my inner child and making a decision to break the cycle of unhealthy patterns of behaviour I was raised with so it will end with me and not be passed down to my kids. It is so hard. I have not fully overcome it, but I definitely have come a long way from when my parents and I had a toxic estranged relationship. I have since turned it around to a healthier one today. It took many many years of struggling with dynamics that do not serve me, identifying specific areas that needed work through communication and ironing out differences with love.

If there’s one place in the world you would want to travel to right now, which would it be and why?

Wherever is the best place to see the northern lights. I want to experience the magic of being under the blanket of the universe dancing with the stars.

What are your plans for the future? Personal projects? Career collaborations?

A lot of my creative projects started because I figured while I am doing this one thing, “I may well also” do this other thing! So I am hoping to figure out the direction I want to go to create products for my mindfulness website BiG Secret Life and maybe even BiG secret life books. I also want to explore collaborations for my idea of creating a metahuman avatar to represent me as the face of my music. That way it can transcend physical limitations and have unlimited potential in the metaverse.

*Exclusive for all Mummyfique readers, purchase the NIGHT TO DAY book signed by Joyce at a special price of S$22 (usual price S$25)! Simply key in the promo code NIGHTODAYXMAS2021 upon checkout. Applicable from now till 31 December 2021. Purchase here.