Juggling School, Work and Mothering / Stressed Mom, Stressed Child

BEING A MOM, BLOG

Two months ago I’d circled this week of May as my Week of Hell because of school assignment deadlines. Entering into it, however, I noticed that I’m already exhausted from planning and anticipation. Right now I find myself feeling soft and open because I’m tired, but also there’s nothing I can do but surrender.

Now, this might change as I move deeper into this week but I hope to remain this way. I’ll show up to my work, plug in my hours, and let it go when it’s time to submit. To stay soft and open during each moment with the least resistance, especially when faced with hurdles you can’t control like a delayed bus or a toddler who refuses to go to bed. To not stress out or get mad for the loss of how-ever-many minutes thinking that I could have been working. Essentially, to not waste my energy.

On the mom-side of things, if I’m busy and stressed and my little girl happens to be getting fussier every day, it’s not a coincidence. She is sensitive to my stress levels. She senses it when I’m anxious to get away from her, so she fusses, fights and delays going to bed. In other words, when I’m stressed, she gets stressed. Last night I gave in and laid with her, because it’s important to discern (at least take a guess) and take care of her emotional needs which she can’t articulate. When I’m busy it’s even more important that I choose to forget my to-do list and focus on what’s going on with my child.

a poem about hope

POEMS

So this is what hope feels like when we’re feeling hopeless…

it’s a sunny day

i’m still

stuck in this impossible

purgatory.

but since the day has no regard

for how I feel inside
perhaps one day

not today

not tomorrow

not next week

but some day far away

things will feel no longer

feel the same.

Self as a Cultural Being

POEMS

It’s really the first time I’ve contemplated on being “a person of color” here in my now adopted home, the U.S..

One of the assignments for a class in multiculturalism is an art project on the theme of “Self as a cultural being”. My experience of being a “cultural being” often feels like a game of peekaboo with the world. Now you see me; now you don’t – depending how you reacted when you saw me. Every cultural aspect is the context through which I see, and through which I am seen.

In the following poem I wanted to capture a sense of how I get caught between the Chinese and Western cultures, how I perceive my identity as something fluid and dependent upon the cultural background and perspective of others, and a new-found awareness and sense of power to introspect and act against external systemic forces.

 

 

My parents gave me wealth,
a good home, the gift
of an education
across the oceans
to come back with a cultured
tongue
and a bleached
mind and intellect underneath
the yellow skin.
At home I see pride
and envy in their eyes.

But I know
I became a hybrid creature, a
confused chameleon
with two tongues
who need an interpreter
between my inner selves.

Everywhere I go
I have mirrors
made out of the Chinese
and the Western perspectives
monitoring me.

And I know away from home
I’m a tapestry of mixed designs
at once familiar and odd,
woven by as many hands
as I’ve come across.
My mother’s, slow but ever-present.
The schools and cultures from
Hong Kong, Britain or America
sew bold and too-tight patterns
with machines
scrunching up the fabric
of me.

I want to follow the loose ends,
the places where I fray,
where I look messy, out of place.
I want to dissect the layered knots,
to free and examine every thread.
I want to re-braid
according to new rules
that I make.

It’s hard work outside the comfort zone

BLOG

It’s hard work outside the comfort zone

When we’re taking risks and leaving our comfort zone, things will change, and it gets uncomfortable. This makes sense. But when we begin to feel overwhelmed, like everything seems harder, more confusing, stressful and it feels like we can barely keep our head above water, too often we fall back into thinking that the reason we’re struggling is that we’re not good enough. We forget that learning, being in new territory and taking risks are challenging and debilitating by default.

As the discomfort continues, we can accept that this is how it should be, and flow with this new course of life that we worked hard and were brave enough to put ourselves into.

On a related note, living in the new, discomfort zone is exhausting. We can be so great at working hard and meeting deadlines that when we do have free time, we begin to wonder why we are not more productive. We forget that we are already doing a lot. Rest is more than just sleep. We also need idle time to unwind from our mental, physical and emotional hard work.

new year sparkler for you!

BLOG

So, it was my birthday on 12/31 and for the first time I want to say something about it. Having a birthday on New Year’s Eve feels like being at the finish line of a long run where everyone rejoices, or finally relaxes, and everyone who made it deserves to be celebrated. I love that there’s always fireworks on my birthday, and I get to piggyback on the joyful hopefulness of the many people who celebrate this day across the globe.

Thank you for inviting me to this party. Here’s a sparkler for you, courtesy of restaurant Barolo in Seattle who made it for my birthday dinner there.

Wishing YOU a healthy and happy year ahead 🌟🧡✨

self-gratitude & body gratitude

BLOG, body image, Essays and Letters, LOVE

There was a time I was troubled by my inability to feel gratitude towards some people who were supporting me in huge ways, and perceived it as a dysfunction on my part. When I eventually accepted it as a reasonable result of those people also being the biggest source of my pain, any gratitude I tried to muster towards other things and people still felt superficial.

Then someone introduced me to the idea and importance of saying thank you to ourselves. I thanked myself for resilience, courage, patience, and for trying. It felt nice.

Lately I read about how trauma affects the body and the brain. I was brought to my knees realizing just how much our body and brain are infinitely more intelligent and complex than all my conscious thoughts and analyzing and problem-solving skills put together.

Over and over our body and brain go to work automatically, without conscious mental instruction on our part, to protect us, help us survive, and keep us alive. I think about every time the knife slips when I chop carrots and it hits the nail of a finger. I don’t tell my hands to move out of the way. They save themselves during 99.9% of my chopping accidents before I know it. Or when oil splatters from a hot pan and hits a quarter-inch away from my eye but never actually in my eye. Or like the other day I stumbled over a rock. By the time I registered that I was falling, my body had caught me. I was back in one piece and steadied by the time my thought was over. Instinct.

Too often we resent and punish our bodies for their shape, sensations, feelings, moods and emotions, and we forget the immense intelligence and power of our instincts and intuition. Neuroses, sudden flood of tears and even illnesses are often part of the body’s way of trying to regulate or remedy itself.

So, deepest thanks to you, my body. I’m so lucky to have possession and experience of this healthy, exquisite biological machine.

when life feels empty I turn to…

art

When life feels empty and I feel lost or stuck,  I turn to…

Art.

It grounds me with a sense of existence and tells me that everything is still ok. It reconnects me with a sense of agency over my life. Art and life share these same questions: Where did it come from? What does it mean? Where is it going? How else can I do it? What else can I do with it?

Being able to create something out of nothing reminds that I’m alive and being alive is a miraculous mystery, like the birth of a piece of art itself.

I’ve not always been aware of the impact art has on me. But some of my friends have taken up art lately. They have articulated what art means to them, which enabled and inspired me to recognize mine.