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8 things to do if you woke up alive today

So, unless you’ve been living under a rock, there’s a chance you’ve heard about the most recent string of mass shootings. No doubt you’ve heard about other countries warning their residents against the dangers of traveling to the US. I’m also confident that you are devastated by what has happened, and likely, a little fearful as well. (I considered calling my mother on my way to Wal-Mart yesterday, just-in-case I didn’t make it back out.)

While Crystal and I are absolutely not, I repeat NOT dismissing or diminishing the seriousness of our current situation (we both believe that as a country, we are past the point of “needing to do something” and having a full-on national crisis) we would like to offer a few suggestions that may help us move forward with love. 

In case you happened to wake up alive this morning, here are some ideas to celebrate the beautiful and precious life you get to live today.

  1. Tell someone you love them. Not your partner, your children, your dog, or other immediate family members that hear it all the time, but someone who won’t expect it. Even if you’re not one to throw the “L-word” around, telling someone you genuinely appreciate something they’ve done will make them feel good. And then you’ll feel good for making them feel good, and then everyone will just feel all happy and warm and fuzzy.  

  2. Eat, drink, and be merry! We don’t get nearly as excited as we should about the abundance of food that is available to most of us. There are places in this world, in this country even, where people do not know if they will have access to food. Those people would be elated to have the leftovers or well-intentioned groceries in your fridge. Challenge yourself to avoid the grocery store and deplete your cabinets. It will be fun and cheap! And make you feel a little more resourceful.

  3. Go outside! It’s summer for many of us, take off your shoes and socks and step outside. Feel the earth under your feet and remember that your mother (earth) is always supporting you. She’s right there, underneath it all, holding us up. We should show her some respect for that.

  4. Make up a silly song about something mundane; a musical narration as you get ready for work or an impromptu interlude as you make yourself lunch. You have a voice! You have a brain! You can use them both together to create something! You don’t have to sing out loud, all though it’s more fun. 

  5. Give yourself 60 minutes of free movement. Close the door to your office or bedroom and let yourself go! Whether you’re perfecting your #Narutorun, your dance moves, or riffing on the wacky waving inflatable arm flailing tube-man, you can’t go wrong just moving your body organically. It will make you feel free and we bet you can’t do it without laughing. *Bonus points if you combine 5+6*

  6. Help somebody! We are all capable of helping others and the good news is that we can do this in a variety of ways. Maybe you go big and donate to an NPO you love or volunteer regularly at your local animal shelter. Maybe you run an errand for a coworker or water your neighbor’s plants. Seek out opportunities to be of service because service does not discriminate! Everyone can make a difference. Even small gestures can be extremely valuable.

And then there were two…These last suggestions are critical but can be tough to implement. They will require constant vigilance and call upon the most American of ideals –  that we as individuals are entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  

  1. LOVE YOURSELF. Trust that no one can be you, no one can know you, no one can love and care for you, the way that you do. You matter, you are important, and you are a beautiful part of this world. If a message makes you feel less than, don’t look at it. If someone says something that makes you feel judged, get curious about what THEIR problem is. No one can make us feel inferior without our consent. Stand up fully for the magical awesomeness that is inside of you and others will be drawn into your light.

  2. If you really want to stick it to the man, LOVE EVERYONE ELSE TOO! Sometimes it is hard to do this, especially when people in high places try to tell you what/how to think. It’s hard to avoid judging others, buying into stereotypes or rejecting what we don’t understand. It’s exponentially harder to apply a critical lens to ourselves to better understand our own behavior and prejudice, but it MUST be done. We owe it to ourselves as Americans to SEEK OUT COMMONALITIES that unite us! Make it your mission to be ANTI-HATE, to find good in every individual. We are all, every one of us, somebody’s child. 

We may not agree with some (or many or ANY) of the policies and strategies being implemented by our leadership, but that doesn’t mean we should give up and call it a loss. Let’s take things back to a local level. Treat others; not some, or a few, or just the ones you know, but ALL OTHERS, how you want to be treated. Celebrate the joy of being alive today and find gratitude for all that you have. 

If you do these things, I can guarantee it will make it a little easier to carry on in this crazy world. 

In love and light,

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You are enough

I am of the belief that we are in need of a retraining of our internal monologue. I’ve talked about this before, but it’s a recurring issue. I have lost count of the number of times I have heard others beating themselves up and putting themselves down over something in their lives. The internal negativity can begin to spiral out of control. Rather than stopping it to say what they are doing right, the negativity begins to take deep root.
I am here to tell you today, that you are enough.

How do we retrain our internal monologue?

I liken this to assimilating to a new culture. We are surrounded by images, videos, and various reminders that who we are is not enough. We need more to make us whole. We need to buy more to make us better. We need to be more for others to like/need/want us. We need more, more, more. But I have something else to tell you…

it’s all a lie.

We are enough There are is nothing we need to buy to complete us. We don’t need to do something else to be liked/needed/wanted. We don’t need anything else, because..

Who we are is enough.

Who we are has always been enough.

Who we are will always be enough.

We need to silence the negative voice inside and outside trying to tell us otherwise.

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We have a choice…

We can choose whether or not we want to listen.

We can choose to internalize the negativity, or we can reject it.

Let’s commit to doing one thing today to make this better.

Let’s stop what we are doing, and say this together, “I am enough.” Repeat this as many times as you need. If this isn’t doing the trick, you can try another tactic. Find a mirror, look yourself in the eyes and say to yourself, “you are enough.” You can repeat this process over and over until you believe it. This may need to be done over the course of many days and weeks, but there’s good news…

You are not alone in this.

There is a whole community over here at The91Rewind to support you in flipping the script. Together we can press pause on the negative self talk, hit rewind, and try again. Added bonus, if you’re really struggling with this, you can reach out to myself and Erica. We want to support you on this journey of self-care and being kind to yourself. You can send us a message through our contact link, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. We will gladly encourage you and send you something to help you. We are so committed to this, that we will even send you some old fashioned snail mail encouragement if you’d like it. All you have to do is let us know in the message you send us.

How powerful will we all feel when we reject what the negativity wants us to believe and rise above it?!


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I am sorry for my silence

For years I was silent. Maybe it was out of fear. What would be the consequence if I spoke up? Would I lose my job? What would my friends or family say? But now, all I can say is I am sorry for my silence. 

You need allies. 

Whether you are facing racial, religious, gender, sexual orientation, you name it discrimination, you need allies around you. It’s difficult to know who the allies are among you if we remain silent. You need us to let you know that we acknowledge you for who you are, view you as a whole human being, and love you despite what others are saying. You need us to tell others that we stand in solidarity with you, even if we may not face the same forms of discrimination as you, but we are on your side. I am sorry for my silence when you need me to be your ally. 

You need advocates 

When you were (or still) struggling and unable to speak for yourself, you need those of us with the ability to speak up to do so. You need some of us to be more than allies among you, because you need us to advocate for you. We need to speak up in the places and spaces to say that you matter, you deserve the same rights and protections as everyone else, and that the discrimination you’ve faced, are facing, and continuing to face is wrong. You cannot be the only voice speaking up against the injustices that you’re facing. Sitting quietly by your side while you silently struggled is not enough. There is a reason for your silence, and I’m guessing it’s much larger than my fear of consequences. I am sorry for my silence when you need me to be your advocate.

I will not be silent any more.

At the risk of angering some, alienating others, and standing up for what’s right, I will not be silent in the face or your struggles anymore. I cannot promise that I will be a perfect ally or advocate, but I’m going to do the best that I can. If i’m not doing it quite right, I do ask that you (gently) let me know. The list of struggles by those around me can feel endless, but here are the issues currently weighing on my heart…

Sexual violence
Gender identity/sexual orientation discrimination 
Racial discrimination
Asylum seekers treated inhumanely at the United States port of entry
Gender discrimination
Religious discrimination, particularly against Muslims
(please note this list is ever growing and not all-inclusive)

I cannot promise that I will be a perfect ally or advocate, but I’m going to try and do the best that I can. I hope that together, we can all work to make this place a better world for us all. One step at a time. 



NOTE: The timing of this post is fortuitous, and I cannot take full credit for this coming when it did.
Changes are happening after the outcry over the treatment of asylum seekers at the USA/Mexico border
This week concludes the celebration of Pride month.
This Saturday marks the ordination of someone in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) ,that I admire and respect, as a Minister of Word and Sacrament. Their ordination is historic, as they are the first openly non-binary individual to be ordained in the PC(USA). I am better for knowing them, learning from them, and to know they are serving the church. 

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enough with the thoughts and prayers

In Virginia Beach, Virginia there was yet another mass shooting.

Another day, week, month, year where even more people are dying from gun violence.

I’ve had enough with the thoughts and prayers, it’s time for action.

Step One

The first thing I’m doing is taking the time to remember the names of each of the victims.

Virginia Beach, VA victims: Laquita C. Brown, Tara Welch Gallagher, Mary Louise Gayle, Alexander Mikhail Gusev, Katherine A. Nixon, Richard H. Nettleton, Christopher Kelly Rapp, Ryan Keith Cox, Joshua A. Hardy, Michelle "Missy" Langer, Robert "Bobby…Virginia Beach, VA victims: Laquita C. Brown, Tara Welch Gallagher, Mary Louise Gayle, Alexander Mikhail Gusev, Katherine A. Nixon, Richard H. Nettleton, Christopher Kelly Rapp, Ryan Keith Cox, Joshua A. Hardy, Michelle "Missy" Langer, Robert "Bobby…

Virginia Beach, VA victims: Laquita C. Brown, Tara Welch Gallagher, Mary Louise Gayle, Alexander Mikhail Gusev, Katherine A. Nixon, Richard H. Nettleton, Christopher Kelly Rapp, Ryan Keith Cox, Joshua A. Hardy, Michelle “Missy” Langer, Robert “Bobby” Williams, Herbert “Bert” Snelling

Step Two

The next thing I’ve done and will continue to do, is refuse to know the name of the shooter. Each time I read or see a news report that includes their name, I close it or turn it off. I refuse to have this murder’s name sealed in my brain. I will not let them have a moment of fame, if I have any say in the matter.

Step Three

I will also ensure that my elected officials are doing something to prevent this from happening again. I was a high school student when Columbine happened, and by the time I was eighteen, I didn’t think this needed to be top of my voting priorities. Then the Virginia Tech shooting happened when I was in graduate school. By then, I had voted in multiple elections and began to realize something may need to change in my voting priorities. In the 12 years that followed, countless mass shootings have occurred and one of these is in my home state, AGAIN.

My congresswoman is doing what she can to work towards better gun regulation.

While I fully recognize and uphold our constitutional right to bear arms, I do not consent to the murder of innocent children and adults. I don’t have all of the answers (yet) on how we proceed, but I will not stop until the situation is better. I know that mental health is a big piece of the overall picture, but guns are still the weapon of choice in these atrocities. I want to learn from each side of this “debate” that shouldn’t be a debate at all. If we as Americans believe in life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, we cannot allow our fellow Americans to lose their opportunity for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We need more than thoughts and prayers to make this happen. We need conversations (NOW) and we need actionable change.

The status quo cannot remain or more lives will be lost.

Just last week, a mass shooting was prevented at Cleveland High School, close to where Erica grew up. As his fellow students practiced for graduation, a Cleveland high school senior managed to get a loaded 9mm, multiple loaded magazines, and other weapons onto school grounds. Authorities were tipped off by a student and made the arrest before any violence happened, fortunately.  While I am eternally grateful that the police were proactive, I have to question how a young adult of highschool age was able to obtain all these supplies? It is terrifying to think that a person who can’t even vote can procure an armory of weapons to carry out a plan of mass-execution. It is not important at this point whether guns are a problem. (They are.) What is more important is understanding what compels one human to want to inflict harm upon others. Where is our compassion?

What if…

Instead of immediately jumping to defend our right to bear arms, what if we investigate how this privilege keeps falling into the wrong hands? If we are truly pro-life, then we need to start focusing on helping each of us live. Now. We need to protect and value each other. We owe it to ourselves to try and understand each other better, to be kind, to be compassionate.

To end today’s conversation, I share with you, these words from my congresswoman, Abigail Spanberger:

In the wake of these tragedies, we always offer thoughts and prayers, but people in office – at the state and federal level – can make changes. We can fight this violence, and we must do it to honor the lives of the Americans who are murdered each year.

In the House of Representatives, we passed bipartisan legislation to require background checks on all firearm purchases. We passed bipartisan legislation to close the “Charleston loophole” so that law enforcement has the necessary time to return a background check and ensure that those who are prohibited buyers can’t buy a gun because of timing.

These meaningful efforts would save lives. Both of these bills are being held up for a vote in the Senate. Meaning-> Senate Majority Leader McConnell is simply refusing to bring these bills up for a vote. Our good legislation cannot become law unless he allows a vote.

There are additional bills in the House aimed at addressing risk factors, training in de-escalation, and ensuring individuals in crisis who are a threat to themselves or others can be helped and not able to take their own lives or the lives of others. They are good bills, and we will keep working them.

At the state level, I urge my elected colleagues to continue fighting for basic legislation that would help make our communities safer.

And if your elected representative isn’t fighting for our communities or helping to get good bills out of the committees for a full House of Delegates or State Senate vote, get behind a candidate who will and vote on November 5, 2019.

So what are we going to do?


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The Bucket of F*ckits

Do you worry about others being mad at you about something you might have done or said? Do you get worked up in your head about things you cannot change? Do you stress about the problem at work that you didn’t cause? If you know me in real life and have conversation with me and answered yes to those questions, then the following words are going to be familiar. If you do not know me IRL, it’s okay. Today I would like to share with you a life philosophy that may help free your mind and open you up to what’s most important.

May I now introduce you to: The Bucket of F*ckits.

Oh My Gosh! You Just Cussed!

I know it, and it felt great. If we’re completely honest with ourselves, some words are the only ones to fully articulate what it is that we’re feeling and thinking. Sure, I could refer to this life philosophy in a non-expletive-using way, but it wouldn’t fully articulate what I need to communicate to you. Heck, there are even studies out there that talk about how cursing is good for us, can help us better articulate our emotions or pain, and it’s a sign of greater intelligence.

So, I’m not going to let judgement over my use of the word f*ck get me down. Instead, I want you to understand the freedom and value of the Bucket of F*ckits.

Have You Ever…?

Have you ever been so frustrated that you wanted to storm out and just yell “f*ck it”?
Yeah? !
Me too.

Have you ever been up to your eyeballs in things to do and needed to prioritize that list?
Yeah? !?!
Me too!!

Have you ever felt like other people’s problem were becoming you own, and you wanted to give it back to them?
Yeah? !?!?!

These three examples are a small sample size of why we NEED a Bucket of F*ckits.

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What Goes in a Bucket of F*ckits?

For starters, the Bucket of F*ckits should be filled with the things that matter most to you. We may have lots of things that we care about, but that  is certainly not every little thing in our life. I will go out on a limb and declare that not everything deserves or should have our complete emotional investment. This does not make you a bad person either. If we are constantly giving from our emotional tank, we will certainly become depleted with nothing left to give.

Secondly, our bucket can only contain things that we are able to control. Some of us (*raises hand*) may like to think that we can be the master of it all, but we are NOT in control of everything. Learning to let go and accept that we aren’t in control is part of the bucket-embracing process, and there is a freedom in it. The contents of our buckets may differ from one day to the next based on what’s going on in our life, and that’s okay. It’s also worth noting, that some days it may feel like there is a slow leak in our bucket, and we must do that the best that we can.

The third thing that belongs in our bucket are things that help us accomplish our goals. We all have different needs, plans, and goals in life. These goals are an ever evolving list that changes based on our successes, resources, and abilities. We can’t focus on everything in life, but we should zero in on that which matters, and our goals have value and importance too. Our goals whether big or small deserve to be in our bucket.

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What Does Not Go in a Bucket of F*ckits?

First and foremost, it is the things we cannot control. As much as we want to be the masters of our lives, we cannot control everything. No matter how hard we try, we are not in control of everything. We cannot make our coworkers or classmates complete their part of a project. We can only control how we react to these situations. We can decide to pick up the pieces that others have left, or say, I’ve done what I can and now it’s your turn.

Next, we must learn to accept that we cannot make others care more about the things that matter to us. Just because something is important to us, doesn’t mean it will be of value and importance to others. This doesn’t diminish the value of these things, nor does it make these people @sshats for not caring. They have different things in their Buckets of F*ckits and that’s okay. Hopefully we can learn to have mutual appreciation, but we have to decide how we will react. We have to learn to let go of their judgement, and then treasure what matters to us because it’s of value to us.

Finally, we have to let go of the judgement of others. Their opinion does not have value unless we allow it to have value. We get to choose whose judgement we internalize, how we react, and if we give it any weight. We also get to choose whether we allow the judgement of others into our buckets. Frankly, you’d better be really important (Erica, husband, children, close family or friends) or myself before your opinions get a spot in my bucket..

Let’s Recap

What belongs in your bucket:

  • The things that matter most to you.

  • The things within your control.

  • The things that will help you accomplish your goals.

What doesn’t belong in your bucket:

  • The things that are not in your control.

  • How others feel about the things that matter most to you.

  • The judgement of others.

Living the Bucket of F*ckits Life

To fully live into the Bucket of F*ckits philosophy we have to ask ourselves, “does this belong in my Bucket of F*ckits?” There should be no equivocation when asking ourselves this question. Our bucket belongs to us and us alone. We should treasure it, care for it, and only place in it what we want. Erica and I have used the following formula as a guide:

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If it’s not a f*ck yeah, then it’s a hell no.If it’s not a f*ck yeah, then it’s a hell no.

If it’s not a f*ck yeah, then it’s a hell no.

I hope you choose wisely what goes into your Bucket of F*ckits, because it can get full quickly. When you’re bucket starts running over, it could very well mean you’ve allowed others to fill it up. (ProTip: it’s not their bucket to fill!)

Take care of your bucket, and feel free to throw sh*t out if it doesn’t belong.



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Holding Each Other Accountable

Recently I got into one of those Facebook debates with someone I didn’t know. I wanted to assume the other person was a decent human being because of our shared acquaintance. But, as it happens with most social media debates, I walked away feeling more frustrated and disappointed in the state of our current social climate than anything else. It seems as though we say things on the internet that we wouldn’t say to someone’s face. It also feels as though our sense of common decency is slipping, and that we are no longer willing to hold each other accountable.

The aforementioned debate began over a BBC article about Gillette’s recent video…

My cousin shared this article asking for thoughts. I read it and watched the video and thought it had a good message. I didn’t QUITE see why there was so much outrage, but that didn’t mean others weren’t justified in their feelings. This led me back to my cousins thread, where a couple thoughts had been shared.

I thought the youtube video comment was immature at best, but I was stunned by the second comment.I thought the youtube video comment was immature at best, but I was stunned by the second comment.

I thought the youtube video comment was immature at best, but I was stunned by the second comment.

I took a moment to pause and wondered if it was worth responding.

I had to decide if I was going to engage in an internet debate. After wrestling with whether or not to respond, I felt like couldn’t let this sexism slide and responded. But before I knew it, my mother joined the conversation too.


Hours passed before my cousin’s friend responded…


I chewed on his words, and made one last response…


I never received a response to my comment, and I’m not all that surprised.

What has surprised me most about this, has been the resistance to being held accountable in this #MeToo world we live in. What is wrong with other men holding other men accountable for bad behavior?  This video by Gillette says that some men are ALREADY holding other men accountable, but what’s wrong with more doing this? Women aren’t the ones (typically) teaching boys to beat each other up, to say inappropriate things to women, nor are they the ones (typically) silencing other women in meetings. We as women cannot fix what men are doing, but other men can (and should) speak up to one another.

Now, don’t get me wrong, women should be holding other women accountable too.

We should not excuse women being bitchy because it’s “that time of the month.” When our friends start gossiping about another woman, we have to stop the conversation in its tracks. BTW, Erica, did just this not too long ago while out with a group of her girlfriends. Want to know the best thing about this? No one got mad, the gossip stopped, and everyone STILL had a great time. We can take this even further though! When women hear that a another woman has been the victim of sexual assault or violence, we can stop the conversation from going down the “she deserved it route.” Instead we can empower the victim to speak up, or say that we hear your story, and we can that we’re sorry for their awful experience. We can sit alongside someone in their pain, and we can point out negative behavior even when we’re having fun.

Regardless of our gender, we shouldn’t make excuses for bad behavior.

I think some of the outrage over this Gillette video has to do with the fact that something has struck a nerve for a lot of people. Many of us want to say or do whatever it is that we want, but holding each other accountable makes us uncomfortable. Being held accountable means we have to make changes, and that the way we’ve always done it isn’t the way to move forward.

I hope we can be unafraid of being challenged to be better and do better.

Even if it’s difficult, I believe we need accountability. We are society that can make progress, but only if we are willing to make that progress forward. Society improves when more us improve. There was a time when segregation was acceptable, but it no longer is.  There was a time when voting rights were only for white men, but it no longer is. There was a time when child labor was acceptable, but it no longer is. We still have a lot of work to do as a collective society, but if we all do our part, I’m optimistic we will become greater.

Growing with you,


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that’s the way we’ve always done it

“If it’s not broke, don’t fix it!” “Why ruin a good thing?” We’ve heard this before. It encourages us to let go of our desire for perfection, but does it impede our progress at the same time? It’s easy to give up on something because we feel it can’t be helped, but what if we can help it. What if the answer to what vexes us more simple. Maybe it’s because that’s the way we’ve always done it.


Have you heard the story of the Christmas ham?

A daughter was helping her mom in the kitchen as she was preparing the ham for their Christmas dinner (which was probably going to be at 2:00 PM since southerners don’t really know that dinner is in the evening). The daughter observed her mom prepare the ham and season it and even adorn it with cloves. She also noticed her mother cut off a few inches of the ham on either side before putting it in the oven and tossing the ends of the ham into the trash. That’s when the daughter began asking questions about the cooking process. She asked, “Why did you cut off the ends of the ham?”

The mother calmly responded, “That’s the way we’ve always done it.”

The daughter, knowing not to waste food, pushed for more, “But WHY?”

Her mom responded, “Well, that’s what my mom has always done, and I do it her way. We can call and ask if you like.”

So call grandma they did. Excitedly, grandma picked up the phone to chat about Christmas, not expecting any cooking questions. “Hey, Mom,” her daughter began, “I was making the Christmas ham, and your granddaughter asked a great question. She wants to know why we always cut off the ends of the ham before baking it?”

Grandma thought for a minute and then began to laugh. Through her giggles she says, “Because my oven is too small, I have to cut the ends off the ham to make it fit.”

There’s a danger in doing things the same way we’ve always done it

So many years of wasted ham! It’s a pity. You see, there’s a danger in doing things the same way we’ve always done it. Sometimes it’s just a waste of ham, but sometimes there’s an outdated approach that’s in desperate need of an upgrade. If you have a question about the why, ask it! (Even if you have to dig a little.) Knowing why isn’t a bad thing. There could be a valid reason OR it could be time to rethink the way moving forward.

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being the other

Growing up as the ‘mixed kid’ means I’ve spent most of my life keenly aware that I’m not quite like everyone else. I don’t look as Japanese as my mom, nor do I look as Japanese as my grandmother from Fukuoka, Japan (on the island of Kyushu). I definitely don’t look as white as my dad who lovingly adopted me after my parents were married when I was five years old. As a child in Chesterfield County Schools when there were only one or two Asian kids per grade level, I couldn’t help being the “other.”

By the time I was in middle school and my mom moved us to

Henrico County Schools, I didn’t feel quite as different. I’d sit down in my classes and realize there was a solid handful (or more) of Asian kids in my grade. By high school it wasn’t uncommon to regularly have one or two Asian kids in classes with me. I was still different because I was mixed whereas most were 100% Cambodian, Chinese, Korean, or Vietnamese (only to name a few of the many ethnicities). Most of the time my fellow Asian American classmates embraced me, but sadly no one else was Japanese. I began to feel like the “other”, the odd woman out, once again. Thanks to early forms of social media (shout out to Asian Avenue) I was able to make some Japanese friends.

Overtime I feel like I’ve quieted some of my Japanese-ness so that I would fit in with the group.

Now I have the chance to hear “I just see you as you and not as being different.” I know that that’s meant to be a compliment, to see me as being like everyone else, but we both know that I’m not. I come with a cultural history that makes me uniquely me, just like you do as well. I don’t know what all of your colloquial figures of speech mean, and you don’t know that I cringe inside when you leave your chopsticks in your food. I’ve learned to use the word “y’all,” but I have an aversion to the number four. I can’t help being Japanese, but my hope is that you might seek to understand more about me and my heritage. I have always been intrigued by the others and sought to know them better, my hope is that you may feel the same.

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I was recently at an event where there was talk about

who is the “other” for each of us in regards to making connections with people. The facilitator encouraged us to think about situations where we have to interact with “other” people. Many shared great examples (race, gender, sexual orientation, politics, etc.), but I couldn’t help realizing that I would fit in at least one of their “other” categories. There was great conversation about a desire to push through the “other”-ness and connect with others. There was a desire to know how to break through these boundaries. Some of the conversation was focused on doing what you can or at least praying about it.

BUT then I, the “other” in their midst, spoke up.

I said that we needed to push ourselves out of our comfort zones. For some this is feeding the hungry For some this would be dining with those different from themselves. And for others, it could be as simple as getting to know someone different from themselves. The facilitator of the group quickly dismissed me, and made it clear that I shouldn’t challenge the status quo. They made it clear that they were not interested in digging deeper into this and engaging with the “other” in their midst. Most of my life I’ve tried not to disrupt the status quo, but I’ve learned that none of us benefit from being silent in the face of injustice. I’m also keenly aware that our zone of comfort and discomfort will be different for each of us. I challenged someone to step out and they didn’t like it. But I also don’t like being the “other” all alone.

I have learned to embrace who I am and appreciate the diversity of others.

I have loved learning my grandmother’s mother-tongue, Japanese, but I’ve also loved learning the languages spoken by others. Learning even the tiniest bit of Mandarin Chinese made it easier to communicate with my best friend’s grandmother, who didn’t speak any English. It made it easier for her to feel comfortable in the midst of a life that was confusing and uncertain due to her dementia. I have loved having French as a common language to ease the divide while in Haiti, AND that it eased my learning of Haitian Creole. I have loved learning the words of new foods in the language of new restaurants, whether those words were a language spoken in India, Ethiopia, or Lebanon.

The world we live in is diverse and beautiful.

It took the Army pushing my grandfather out of his comfort zone to leave his tiny town in Minnesota to go to Japan to meet my grandmother. It took my grandmother leaving her family and comfort of the known to marry a man who’s language she didn’t speak. It took their willingness to go the unknown path to create a family that is beautifully diverse. A family that now represents a multitude of cultures (Czech, Irish, German, and Norwegian to name a few) all because you do their willingness to do what was scary and hard. I know that I don’t have the only melting pot family, but I hope you’re willing to get it know it or another one like it for that matter.

Being the “other” isn’t a bad thing.

When people take the time to get to know who you truly are as a person, we break down barriers and walls. We find common ground. Embracing the “other” in your midst is having a desire to get to know them, appreciating their differences, and fully embracing who they are as an individual. We must see beyond the color of our skin, but learn to appreciate and embrace all that makes us different.



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pause + rewind + try again

maybe it is a scary time to be a man

Every now and then an issue arises upon which I feel the need to offer some commentary. This most recent claim that I have seen about times being scary for men seems preposterous at first. I’ve been ruminating on it for quite some time, and I guess if you do take a moment to think about it from the (white) male perspective, maybe it is a scary time to be a man.

Now, with the #metoo movement going strong and countless individuals stepping forward

to confront the people that have raped or assaulted them; and others speaking out to identify known perpetrators in various Industries, men have quite a bit to worry about. Our very own, tangerine-tinted #45 claimed not long ago that this is a time when “you can be guilty of something you may not be guilty of.” Aside from the numerous grammatical issues with this statement, there is something larger lurking in the background. I believe what President Trump is referring to is the idea that you can be held accountable for something that you do not believe you are guilty of. The idea that the law is more powerful than our opinions of ourselves, why for someone like Trump, that is scary indeed.

To that end, anyone claiming that this is a scary time for boys is right.

Behavior that was previously dismissed as boys being boys is now realized as inappropriate, dangerous, and at times predatory behavior. It means that men have to calculate risk before approaching a situation; they have to think before they speak and act to ensure that they do not offend, endanger, or otherwise mislead the individuals with which they are interacting. I suppose it would be scary to discover that those little lewd comments, the gestures, the seemingly harmless banter with the women (or men) in your life could actually be taken the wrong way. Not only that, but that it could blow back on you. I guess it would be frightening to come to the realization that what you thought was innocent fun and flattery were actually damaging. The criticality of men not only understanding but anticipating the impact of their behavior is imperative but it is new territory. (This has been woman’s plight since the dawn of time…)

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The good news in these scary times is

that some of the privileged few are immune from the perils of being held accountable. Don’t be too afraid of the future,  (white) men, because if you’re the right color, and you have the right re$ources, you can overcome your accusers and still be confirmed to the Supreme Court of the United States.  

I’m pissed,

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Pay it Forward

About two months ago I was struggling from a breakup with a man I adored. Our relationship wasn’t perfect but I loved him wholeheartedly. After it ended, I was sad, my self-esteem was at an all-time low, and I felt empty and exhausted emotionally. I gave so much to that relationship that I lost myself along the way. I lost my joy, my self-confidence, and my ability to laugh. I’m used to feeling confident and light and instead I wanted to hide and questioned my worth.

One of the things I always wanted was for my partner to compliment me.

If I had a pretty dress on or if I took the time to get dressed up for a date, I would wait for him to notice and hopefully tell me he appreciated the effort or even just me as a whole. Sadly, words were not his strong suit and in the year we dated, I yearned for a compliment or kind word. After we broke up, I wondered how many other people have the same yearning for those kind words or a genuine compliment that I did. I decided I didn’t want to wait for another man to fulfill that need and sought to fulfill it for others instead. I noticed more when someone would post a pretty selfie on Instagram and began taking the time to let people know I thought they were hilarious, that they glowed, that they were strong, and that they had a sweet smile. I shared how amazing their new haircut looked, or that I loved their outfit, or how radiantly happy they looked. I decided to pay it forward and sought to look for the beauty in others that I wanted someone to recognize in me.

In the time that I started giving love rather than asking for it I have witnessed so much joy.

The reactions﹘warmth and happiness﹘that I’ve received in response to a sincere compliment have given me so much more than I anticipated. Seeing women revel in their strength, beauty, courage, intelligence, and grace has been a gift. I treasure knowing that such an easy gesture can bring so much joy to others. By shifting my focus, I have been able to rely on myself for the things I need but also to be a source of love and light for others who might be struggling like I was. Mark Twain said you could live for two months on a good compliment and I truly believe that.

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Sharing kindness and love is free..

In the time I started to sprinkle it, those seeds have grown. Grown into my own confidence, my own joy, and my ability to bring joy and light to others. I would like to challenge those struggling to pause for a moment and instead of looking for something, look to give something. A kind word, an act of kindness, a small token of affection, be the light for others. If I have learned anything these past two months is that we get more by giving than by receiving. So go out and sprinkle a little love today, light it up!

Thanks for checking out this post by our guest contributor, Rhea!

We are so inspired by her effort to #payitforward that we have created a challenge that will help each of us keep an attitude of gratitude. Using the hashtag #sharingkindnesschallenge, we want to hear your stories about sharing compliments, thoughtful words, smiles, good vibes, and other random acts of kindness with your community!

Rhea is a writer, marathoner, and run streaker. She is currently on an almost 5 year run streak and you can see her out and about Raleigh on her daily run. She is also the proud dog mom to two rescue beagles, Jack and Benson.