TEXT & TRANSLATION | Eugenia Yang
總是勇於挑戰自己的 Melody，於今年又悄悄多了一個品牌創辦人的新身份。談及創立Whatever Whatever 的初衷，她説很簡單，其實就是想做一些自己喜歡且好搭配的單品分享給大家。因為經典不敗，女人的衣櫃裡總是需要再一件白襯衫、牛仔褲、羊毛衫等百搭單品。至於面對身份轉換上的心境變化，Melody 則逗趣地說在「轉換身份」這門課早已練就一身功力，每當她開始覺得人生太單調時，總是忍不住想要再嘗試一個新角色，跳脫舒適圈這件事似乎在無形之中已成了一種習慣。「其實我一直都很喜歡我所有的工作。出書和 podcast 是在自我療癒，和玉琳哥主持節目應對不同來賓是磨練，而演戲則是我內心很嚮往的職業。」問起是否有想挑戰的戲劇角色，Melody 表示想嘗試比較貼近生活、探討女人心理層面的角色，不過一切還是看緣分。在面對不同身份挑戰以及成功與否，她認為都是天時地利人和，外加自身天份，和最重要的因子：努力，屬於你的成就自然有所兌現。
從22歲離開洛杉磯的家，隻身前往台北追逐演藝之夢，到現在20多年過去，Melody 早已勝任多重身份，也成家立業。疫情期間，她帶著已經成形的生活輪廓，再次回到原生家庭。與父母相處之際，聊天內容和尺度反而變得更像朋友，而她也開始學會珍惜父母喜歡分享的那些曾經。談起時間的奇妙之處，Melody 説其實爸爸很久以前就跟她說過每個人一生都需要買一套茶具，當時的她百般抗拒，又不喝老人茶，為什麼要買這些？時光拉到20年後，Melody 發現自己逐漸迷上茶道之美，竟然開始買茶具、逛茶展，她無奈笑說：「真的 never say never（永不說不），因為我們遲早會變成我們的父母。」而這次也有機會與爸爸一起重回UCLA校園，環顧充滿回憶的大學校區，Melody 彷彿又再次與當時腦中滿是天馬行空的自我對話。年輕時期的我們總是急著長大，心中所嚮往的40歲的輪廓也都是成功例子，然而在成長的道路上才驚覺我們忽略了其背後所看不到的龐大責任。Melody 也感慨發現，時間不等人，在一步一腳印之下，自己其實已經蛻變成大學時期眼中嚮往的那些成年人。
從小因為環境關係所受到台式教育的壓抑，到後期與父母亦師亦友的相處模式，這些都間接成就了Melody現在教育孩子的方式。「每個孩子都有他自己表達愛的語言，身為父母的我們要去找到這個語言。」在現今網路發達的世代，她希望女兒們都能在正確的範圍內，自由自在快樂地長大。而面對忙碌生活和陪伴孩子，Melody 直言要找到平衡真的非常困難，一定要狠下心來將兩者的時間做一個明確的分割。「你能塑造、影響他們長大後的個性輪廓也就這十幾年了，因為真正的家教和品行教育是從家裡開始。」因此，不管通告再多，Melody 都堅持小孩放學回家她也都要在家裡，不必要的行程一律推掉。「雖然陪她們做功課也常做到讓我懷疑人生想喝酒，但這是我對她們的承諾。」玩笑之餘，也在 Melody 身上看見對於身教的堅持以及她努力成為理想媽媽的盡心盡力。
作為時尚品牌寵兒，Melody 預測早春應該會充斥著挑戰性的花色，然而最重要的是要先了解自己的身形，再去做剪裁的挑選，任何花色便都能駕馭。挑選包款的部分，除了時下流行的款式一定要入手之外，Melody 仍然會選擇經典、大地色系的包包做搭配。「我覺得 style 是很內斂的東西，了解自己是時尚很重要的態度。」勇於做自己並不侷限於時尚穿搭，更可以延伸至生活各個面向。隨著 mental health（心理健康）的課題逐漸大眾化 ，Melody 表示自己遇到低潮時，反而不會急著跳脫或是抗拒，「我們應該要學會享受低潮，才可以從中有更多收穫和學習。」學會接受負面情緒，並與其共存，這是最真實的消化和放下。疫情之下，居家生活給予人們一點喘息的空間，以及正視自身情緒和精神消耗的機會，而 Melody 在照顧自己的第一步驟是先了解自己，接下來就是要學習接納。「你會看到很多你不喜歡的樣貌，但你要懂的愛惜它，因為這就是你。」像個大姐姐般毫不諱言的分享自我調適的方式和經驗，舉手投足間都感受得到 Melody 的自信魅力，以及這幾年來在面對人生課題上的游刃有餘。
談起自我療癒的方式，Melody 說有很多，其中自己很常靠煮飯來放鬆心情，「因為你什麼都不用想，只要顧好你眼前這鍋菜就好。」從完全不會做菜，自己在家練習並去上課，到現在已經可以燒出獅子頭、魚香茄子、麻辣雞丁、醃篤鮮等經典好菜，是她很引以為傲的一件事。而問起未來想挑戰的目標，Melody 透露現在這樣還蠻自在的。「其實有的時候剛好就夠了，剛好也很好了。」在跨足了多重領域之後，她慢慢體悟化繁為簡的幸福，可能是簡單一句問候，一杯熱騰騰的咖啡，或是細水長流的陪伴，真正快樂的來源往往都是最簡單的因素。對話五年後的自己，她滿足地說：「其實現在的我已經遠遠超乎當初18歲心中想像的自己，可以繼續這樣下去就夠了。」眼神中閃爍著感恩與知足，並帶著這二十幾年來在人生道路上所吸取到的珍貴養分，相信 Melody 在人生道路上依然會秉持最真實的心，在各個領域中持續向前邁進。
Embrace Your True Self
Taking on life lessons with stride—self challenges, family life, child education, facing negativity—Melody Liu stays true to herself even when her roles continue to change. With her confident charm and wisdom, she is like a warm beacon in this cold winter, a role model for all the young ladies out there and the ideal version of how a mature woman should be.
A Brand New Challenge
Always willing to challenge herself, Melody has taken on a new role—the founder of her brand Whatever Whatever. The story behind her brand is simple, she wanted to share what she likes with the world. Every woman always needs classic pieces like an extra white T-shirt, a pair of jeans or a cardigan to add to her wardrobe. Melody jokingly says she had already mastered the challenges of taking on new identities. Whenever life becomes tedious, she can’t help but want to try another new task; it seems like breaking free from her comfort zone has already become a norm. “I like all of my jobs. Being a writer and podcaster is like self-care, while being a host and facing different guests is for self-improvement. And deep down, acting is a profession I really admire.” When asked if there are any acting roles she would want to try, Melody says if the right opportunity presents itself, she wants to do roles that are true-to-life and explore women’s inner psyche. In the face of success and failures, she believes that it depends on being at the right place at the right time, your innate talent and most important of all, the effort you are willing to put in.
Marks of Growth
After leaving Los Angeles at age 22, Melody came to Taipei to pursue her dream. Now 20 years have passed, she has taken up multiple roles and raised her own family. During this pandemic, she got the chance to visit her parents. As Melody got to spend more time with them, she realized their family dynamic became more like friends and that she was gradually learning to cherish the stories her parents shared with her. Indeed, time is a fascinating concept. Melody remembers when she was younger, her dad always said everyone should own a tea set during his or her lifetime. Resisting her dad’s offer in every way, she thought to herself, I don’t even drink Elder’s Tea, why should I get one? Fast forward twenty years, Melody starts to recognize the beauty in the art of tea and finds herself purchasing tea sets and visiting tea exhibitions. Smiling while shaking her head, she says, “Never say never, because there is a chance we’ll become just like our parents.” Meanwhile, she also had the opportunity to revisit the campus of UCLA with her dad. As she walked through the familiar setting, it was as if she saw her younger self again, whose mind was filled with all kinds of crazy dreams. When we were young, we were always impatient about growing up. The forty-year-olds we were aspiring to be were always successful examples. However, as we gradually get older, we will soon realize all the hard work and responsibilities we weren’t able to see on the surface. Feeling sentimental, Melody recognizes that time waits for no man and that with one step after another, she had slowly grown into the kind of adult she aspired to be when she was younger.
From the pressure of Taiwanese education she received as a kid, to getting along with her parents and becoming more like friends, these experiences indirectly affected Melody’s way of educating her daughters. “Every kid has his or her own love language. As parents, we have to find the one that works.” In this digital era, she simply hopes that her daughters can grow up freely and happily within the right set of boundaries. As many parents are juggling between work and family, Melody admits it is difficult to find the perfect balance and the only way to do that is by establishing a clear division of time for both. “There is only a ten-year window in which you can shape and influence who your child becomes, because real education starts within the family.” Therefore, no matter how busy she gets, Melody insists that she needs to be home when her kids come home from school. She chuckles and says, “Even though helping them with school work sometimes does make me question life and want to start drinking, it’s a commitment.” Jokes aside, the way Melody answered with such affirmation shows how much she values a proper upbringing and her dedication to becoming an ideal mother.
Embrace the Low
As the darling of the fashion industry, Melody predicts the early spring season will be filled with colorful, exaggerated prints. However, the most important thing is to understand our own body type, in order to pick out the proper cutting design. As for handbags, besides the trending styles such as mini handbags, she tends to stick with classic, natural colors that go with any outfit. “I think style is extremely introspective so understanding yourself is an important fashion attitude.” The attitude of learning to be yourself does not limit to fashion, but also to the different aspects of life. As mental health issues are gaining more awareness, Melody shares with us how she doesn’t immediately try to break free or reject her negative feelings. “We should all learn to embrace our negative emotions.” Only by learning to accept it and co-exist with it can we truly learn how to process our inner feelings. In the wake of the pandemic, staying at home provided people with a chance to take a break and acknowledge the effects of emotional exhaustion; self-care became a necessity. For Melody, her first step to self-care is understanding herself and the next is to learn to accept it. “You will start to see a lot of things about yourself that you don’t like, but you have to learn to cherish them because that is who you are.” Like a big sister sharing her personal experiences, Melody’s confidence shines bright like a charm, while her every gesture and response reflect her ability to take on any life problems in stride and with ease.
With Content and Gratitude
Speaking of self-care, Melody says there are many methods. Personally, she likes to cook to relax herself and clear her mind. “Because you don’t have to worry about anything, all you have to do is focus on the dish in front of you and that’s all.” From not knowing how to cook, taking classes, to being able to make several classic dishes—braised pork meatballs in brown sauce, Yuxiang shredded pork, spicy chicken, Yanduxian and more—she is very proud of her accomplishments. When asked about the goals she wants to achieve next, Melody says she’s actually quite content with where she is right now. “Sometimes enough is good as a feast.” After trying out different fields and industries, she understands happiness is simple. It can be a warm greeting, a cup of coffee from your favorite place, or a long, enduring company. Either way, true happiness usually stems from the most simple deeds. As for where she sees herself in five years, Melody gives it a thought and speaks with content, “Honestly I have accomplished more than what I had in mind when I was eighteen, so I am happy with everything at the moment.” Towards the end of our interview, eyes beaming with gratitude, Melody sits in front of me as her etiquette radiates with the precious lessons of the past twenty years. Deeply inspired, I believe she will stay true to her most authentic self and continue to shine as she moves forward on this journey of life.