Pink. Pink was everything that mattered tonight. When she accepted her Michael Jackson Vanguard Award, and told us about her six-year old daughter telling her that she is the ugliest girl she knows, because she looks like a boy with long hair I was done for the night and could turn off the TV. Nothing else mattered. First of all, every time the camera panned over to her daughter, all I thought was o my gosh how cute is she. How anyone could tell this six-year old she is ugly is incomprehensible--hearing that was like knives through my own heart. More importantly, Pink's words were so on point, and a powerful statement for her daughter to hear and to hear her mother say that in front of millions. It was a powerful statement for all kids to hear. I actually teared up a little, partly because of the cruelty that exists, and also because Pink's words just moved right through me.
Thank you, Pink. Thank you for being you. May we all open our hearts to see more beauty.
BIG LOVE & HUGS
I lead the Children's Liturgy at my church about once a month, and part of me was thinking of giving up because often times when there's a big group, the kids get out of hand and I struggle to get them to listen to me or not speak and scream over each other. I spend more time trying to get them to be quiet and listen to one another, teaching them about respect and how to show respect, than doing what I'm actually supposed to be doing. I don't how teachers do it. Honestly, I have so much more respect for pre-school and elementary school teachers now.
It's only 20-30 minutes each Sunday though, and I always just think that if I can make even the slightest impact in these kids' lives, then AWESOME. Children's Liturgy is meant to go over the readings with the kids in a way that their developing minds can understand, and let's face it, the Bible can be complicated and boring if you're just reading it straight. So, I try to try to relate it to their lives, and also try to make church less boring for them. I also have them help me read it and sing the psalms and alleluias, so it's more fun for them for sure.
This Sunday, I was hoping there would be a small group, and what do ya know, it's like God heard me and only three little kids ran up to the front when it was time to lead them out of church and into the children's room. Well, two kids ran up, and one, very timidly led by his grandmother, also came to join.
The timid child, who we'll call A, was new to the group and he is just four years old. The other two are brothers, one eight and one five. The eight year old, whom we'll call G, as much as I adore him, is usually the one that drives me nutso; however, while not much less rambunctious today, he really surprised me in a way that reaffirmed what an innately sweet child I know him to be.
As I finished the first reading, I looked up at A and noticed he looked terrified, so I asked him if he was okay. He said, "no." So, I asked him if he was scared. He said, "Yes." I asked if it was because of the reading and he shook his head yes. The reading talked about fires and earthquakes and so I told him not to worry, Jesus was just showing us that no matter what, he will be there for us and he will protect us, even when we can't see him. We have nothing to fear.
What really impressed me and warmed my heart was that G noticed, too, and tried to comfort him and show him there's nothing to be scared of, too. He said his first time in this class, he was scared, too, because he had no idea what was going on and didn't understand anything. The protective brother came out and I just wanted to hug them all.
This occurred throughout the rest of our time together this Sunday, and it was a reminder to me that there is a reason I'm here with them every few Sundays. As much as I hope to touch their lives, they also very much touch and teach me so much. By the end when I was walking them back inside the church, A clung to me, held my hand, and almost wouldn't leave me. After mass I saw him and his family at donuts and coffee, and the way he lit up when he saw me just melted my heart. I wouldn't have been surprised if there was a puddle of heart at my feet. He kept wanting me to go back into the class with him, and had I not also signed up to volunteer to help serve the coffee and donuts, I would have ran in there with him. When he was leaving with his family, he ran up to me and gave me the biggest hug.
He has no idea how much his love meant to me, and I'd chase all the beetles and lions and everything else that scares him away if I could. G also has no idea how big his small gestures to make A feel safe were today. Kids, when you nurture them, they in turn learn how to nurture. They need to feel safe, because when they feel safe, they also learn to be free.
BIG LOVE & HUGS
Does your mom like to momsplain everything? Momsplaining is explaining how to do something you already know, often accompanied by "life lessons" you've heard many times. My mom loves to momsplain EVERYTHING under the freakin' sun. It can really annoy me and get under my skin while I am enduring the momsplanation, but it actually makes me laugh after the fact, because it's kind of pretty funny. Sometimes the things she momsplains are so ridiculous all you can do is laugh. From life lessons, to beauty and health regiments, to household chores, to driving directions, mama covers it all!
Here are my top 6 momsplanatations from my mommy dearest:
It's important to remember that, unlike mansplaining which is an act of egocentric patronization, momsplaining is an act of love...and probably a need to still feel like mom even when her children are grown ass human beings. The truth is, I find myself turning into my mother more and more. So, to any future children I may have, I apologize ahead of time for any momsplaining you will have to endure.
BIG LOVE & HUGS
While Manchester is uniting and healing at the One Love Manchester benefit concert, it seems there's no rest for mourning these kinds of tragedies, as several incidents in London occurred--stabbings and van plowing. On top of that, bodies of children, women, and men found shot by IS as they tried to escape Mosul. This is the world we live in.
Having recently returned from the Cannes Film Festival, where security was heightened to the point of snipers on the rooftops and numerous policemen carry rifles scattered throughout the city center, I wonder...is this to be our norm? Nowadays, you can't even go to a concert to enjoy your favorite artist without worrying about what might happen. Every time I'm in an airport, a train station, or just a crowded public area I find myself on high alert observing everyone and everything around me. As the plane takes off, I always cross myself and say a quick prayer to God and Saint Christopher for a safe and successful journey, and then I do the same thanking them, once we've landed. It's a little habit I picked up from my grandmother; however, nowadays I'm practically superstitious about it and pray extra hard. Yet, we can't hide. We can't stop living our lives.
Every time an attack happens it makes me think of the bomb alarms that would sound during WWII to warn the city that a bombing was coming or taking place. Here in the US, it seems we even have to worry about crazed Nationalists, Fascists, White Supremacists.
How do we fight and defeat terrorism and radicalism? What's happening in London is still unfolding as I'm typing this, and after sending a couple messages to friends in the area, I noticed that I'm sending the same message every few months now. Even when I'm fairly certain that they're not in the areas affected, you just never know.
I get so angry, because I cannot understand why these attacks are the answer for some. How does it make sense to take lives, to cause pain, and to cause fear? I get so angry, because I know some will use these acts to try to further divide us. As questions keep swirling in my head and I try to channel my anger into positive energy, I come back to one thing I'm sure of, one thing I have to be sure of: A Lesson in Love From Little Miss Foo Foo.
Stay strong world. We've got to stick together, now more than ever. Being divisive, imposing things like travel bans, actually only hurts us rather than protect us. We're stronger together, and divisive acts only weaken us and provide the hateful perpetrators their ammunition.
BIG LOVE & HUGS
My husband and I got married three times. I hadn't envisioned it that way, but that's just the way it worked out. You see, my husband is from France where they actually observe separation of church and state, and so we were required to have a civil ceremony before we could be married in the church. So we had a little courthouse wedding first, then we had a beautiful church ceremony in France, and then to accommodate the large number of my friends and family who could not go to France, we had another magical one in LA at our church.
At first, the idea of the civil ceremony in the courthouse was off-putting. It seemed impersonal, and ugly. To be married in a colorless courtroom just seemed so drab and so not me. I almost didn’t want people to know about it, and invited no one—I just didn’t want to make a big deal out of it, especially since marrying in the church was so important to me. So, I just saw it as a step to being married. On the day of though, I put on my most fabulous Versace dress and was excited to bring some color into the courthouse--it was a cream skirt, but the top was multi-colored—a piece from the music line they did a few years ago. When we walked into the courtroom however, I was moved and warmed that it wasn't just a drab courtroom. There was an arch with pretty, fake flowers, and the judge was adorable and had a butterfly pen. It was still tacky looking, but it was as if the courthouse knew how drab and impersonal it could feel, so they made an effort to touch it up and warm it up in the name of love. This little civil ceremony wound up probably being the most meaningful and special to me, because it was just the two of us (other than our witness and the judge), and nothing else mattered but the love we were declaring. Don't get me wrong, my other weddings were incredible. Paris was a regal affair, if I do say so myself. LA was a winter wonderland...or Winter Wentzelland as we called it, and couldn’t be more fun. Still with all the various wedding stresses, I feel like I was most excited when it was just the two of us declaring our love to each other. I was giddy with butterflies fluttering throughout my stomach—exactly how you would imagine you would feel on your wedding day. Although, I have to admit, Winter Wentzelland was just awesome and I was super excited to throw a ginormous Christmas party for all my loved ones, I mean, who wouldn’t be?
So, as you can imagine, I've learned quite a few things over the course of 3 very different weddings, and here are some of those valuable lessons:
If you're planning a wedding, I hope this helps you. Feel free to reach out with any comments or questions!
BIG LOVE & HUGS
Today we celebrated the life of an incredible man who loved his family and his community. Frank is synonymous with father and police officer. To serve and protect was just who he was.
I'll never understand God's plan, but I will always trust in His love. As I listened to the service and realized the psalm and the gospel chosen were the same ones we chose for our wedding, I kind of smiled to myself. That's because through all the stages of life and death, God reminds us to show mercy and to love one another. And while we're on earth, the thing that matters the most is how we treat each other, because that it was stays on earth beyond our time here.
It seems cruel to take away someone we love when they should have more time with us, but no one is ever really gone from us when we have been touched by their love. After a long battle with cancer, Frank is finally at peace, but his greatest gift to us is his love. His legacy lives on in his two beautiful children and they will pass that legacy on to their kids.
So, as we celebrated one man, one hero's life, we were all bound together by his love and reminded that...
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
Rejoice and be glad,
for your reward is great in heaven.
BIG LOVE & HUGS
When I first met Foo, my brother's puppy, I was finishing law school and busy studying for the bar. In pictures she was adorable and looked like a hamster, because she was so small. However, whenever he'd bring her around, I found her so annoying, because I couldn't get anything done around her. She was so hyper and so little, she jumped all over me non-stop, so I couldn't study, or eat, or do anything productive in her presence. So you just had this tiny furry ball bouncing around you and off of you all the time. As such, being a high stress level time in my life, I really did not like her. I mean, I really did not like her at all. I was forced to lock myself in my room anytime I needed to get something done, even to workout. She was a real pain in my ass.
At least, my brother took her back with him to Santa Cruz at the end of the summer when he went back to finish his last year of university, and then I moved to Nashville. I don't remember exactly when it was, but one day I finally broke and gave into her love. She was ferociously licking my feet as she does to everyone, and I just suddenly realized she is so full of love, how could I not love her back? Despite my disdain for her, she loved me so vivaciously. It wasn't a process, I didn't slowly grow to love her. It was more like her love so forcibly penetrated me, my walls instantly crumbled when I realized she wasn't annoying, she was loving. From that point on, I've loved her so incredibly I get so excited just thinking of her and her cute little face.
She has weak lungs and yet when you walk through the door she'll run to you and often starts heaving heavily, but it's as though she ignores that and continues with excitement as it sounds like she's choking on giant gulps of air. She likes to sleep between your legs, and is a terrible running partner because she stops to sniff everything.
She is truly so sweet and full of love, and it is thanks to this little girl that I was shown once more how only LOVE can conquer hate.
While I was out of the country for a couple weeks, it felt like a war had broken out back home, on top of all the violence and terror that continues around the world, and for a moment I felt utterly helpless. Is this what we must grow accustomed to as the norm? Can we truly conquer all the hate and terror in the world? I had to remind myself that only light can chase away the darkness, and only love can conquer hate. Then I thought, how do you remind the world that this is the truth, and not just hopeful words? Well, Foo's face came to mind, and I remembered how I came around to love her like my own blood.
So just love the heck out of everyone, because eventually their walls will fall.
BIG LOVE & HUGS
P.S. In case you're wondering why her name is Foo, it's because her mother's name was Tofu, so my brother thought it clever to name her Foo. I guess it's better than naming her Toe.
I remember a woman talking about her mother once, and how she always viewed her mother as weak. She always wanted to be like her dad, a big business man carrying a briefcase full of important documents. It would be horrible to be like her mom. What did she do? While dad was busy on the phone discussing important business related things, what was mom doing—she was just in the kitchen making sandwiches for everyone. While dad was busy traveling for work, what was mom doing—she was just shuffling the kids around between home and school and extracurricular activities.
Then she went on to say that one day she asked her mother why she never wanted a career of her own? Her mother was originally from Scotland, and grew up very poor. Her mother also grew up in a time when tuberculosis was widespread throughout Scotland, and many people contracted it. As such, her mother was also affected by it, and in particular, she contracted it in her fallopian tubes. This meant she could not have children. Eventually, her mother immigrated to Australia, found work, met and married her father, and when they decided to have children, though she wanted more than anything to have her own career, they made the decision that it would be best for her to stay home to be available to their children’s needs. Since her mother could not bear children, this woman and her siblings are all adopted. So, the woman she thought of as weak all these years, gave up her career to love and care for children she never had to love or care for.
Suddenly, she realized she never knew the woman she called “mom.” Had she never asked her mother, her mother would have passed on and she would have one day gone to the funeral of a woman she pitied.
I was thinking about this story this week, as Mother's Day in the U.S. is today; and as I get older, I have all these questions I want to ask my mom
Like this Australian woman’s family, in my family my dad was always the busy business man and my mother, though she was not a stay-at-home mom, worked a more "under valued" career path. My mother immigrated to the United States with my father, not knowing much English. In her native Taiwan she had gone to university and was in fact on a very different career path; but coming to this country not knowing the language, altered her job choices. So, for the entirety of my life and most of her life, my mom worked in our local post office, and still does.
I always admired her work ethic, and knew she made a great impact in her office as well as with her customers, so I’ve always been very proud of her. People respect her, and they adore her. On career day in elementary school, my brother and I even wore her uniform to school. I admit though, when people used to ask me what my parents do, I very confidently told them what my dad does (to the extent that I understand what he does), but when I got to telling them what my mother does, I admitI felt a bit self-conscious. Would they think less of her or less of me, because she’s not someone “more important”? She’s not a doctor or a business owner, or an executive at a large company. When I realized this is silly for me to be self-conscious about where my mom works, I started talking about how wonderful she is at her job, and what an impact she has on our community. There's a bit of a small-town charm to her job, because she sees my friends and their parents all the time, and that’s fun—but this “charm” about her job is actually a big statement to the charm of her as a person. My mother is a personable, big-hearted woman, and does not take crap from anyone. She is her own woman, independent, courageous, and full of love. People who meet her, love her.
So, lately I've been thinking a lot about how to show my mom more appreciation for all the love and inspiration she provided and continues to provide.
I always look fondly on my childhood, because I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been to be a young mother with 2 young children, trying to keep everything together while my dad was mostly out of the house, traveling overseas for business. She didn’t just keep things together though, there were countless trips to Disneyland, to visit my cousins, roadtrips—my childhood was a constant adventure. My dad always reminds us of this, and reminds us to appreciate her because of this. I honestly do not know how she did it, but I hope I can be as a wonderful a mother as her one day.
We think we know someone, until we really find out who they are. Mom and dad are mom and dad until we discover that mom and dad is a pseudonym for superheroes. I've always looked to my dad to show me the ways of the world, and to be the ambitious, ever curious woman that I am; but my mom is my hero, because she exemplifies strength.
BIG LOVE & HUGS
Last night, as my mom stood in church taking pictures of Chris and I receiving our Confirmation, I laughed, because it took me back to when she'd take pictures of my brother and I at our school functions, Boy and Girl Scouts events, recitals, and various other activities. More importantly, I felt the unconditional love of the sweetest and fiercest woman I know.
It's not easy getting my family to church these days--I usually have to find an excuse of a special occasion, or travel to other parts of the world and make it part of our itinerary. So, last night was one of those special occasions. It was Easter Vigil, and a very important night for Chris and I, as well as hundreds of thousands of people around the world doing the very same thing. I even got my brother into the pews, which meant the world to me.
I see my mom get antsy when we're in church these days, because she rarely goes, so she gets anxious about remembering what to do. I tell her, "Mom, God loves you like you love me. He doesn't care if you mess up. In fact, he probably loves you more when you mess up, because you still show up with love."
Knowing how she feels, I was deeply warmed when it was time for Chris and I and our thirty or so friends to stand up in front of the church, and she had no anxiety about standing up in the pews to snap pictures of us. That was my mother, continuing to capture the big and small moments in our lives with her love and her ginormous iPhone.
This week has been so special, and we continue to receive SO MUCH love. This morning, we woke up and opened the gifts and read all the cards we received from Confirmation. I started to tear up when I realize that many of these cards, prayers, and kind words came from folks we don't even know. Yet, we know they are our family, not just because we belong to the same parish and the same faith, but because humanity means loving each other as brothers and sisters. Chris and I are truly blessed to know this kind of pure and unconditional love. We put all the cards and gifts in a box we've labeled our "God Box" so that we may open it whenever we want to or need to feel the power this incredible love.
May YOU always remember that you, too, are deeply LOVED. You may think it strange that a stranger could honestly love you and wish for your well-being, but I promise you it's true.
BIG LOVE & HUGS
Without humility, there is no charity...
Over the last weekend I was frustrated when a Turkish football derby was cancelled due to a “serious security threat,” and the national team also postponed its training for some international matches coming up. When you cannot play or watch a friendly sporting event, then your freedom is being taken away. What kind of evil feels the need to get in the way of football?
Tuesday morning I woke up to news of a terrorist attack, that occurred in Brussels, and my heart sunk. I immediately checked in with friends there, and thankfully they’re all okay. For the first time, I felt sort of defeated, like okay, this is the life we face and the world we live in--you never know when you wake up which part of the world might be attacked. It's bound to hit my city soon, isn't it? I know that there are parts of the world accustomed to regular bombings and violence, but now instead of trying to help certain parts of the world, it seems as though we all most stand on guard. Still, I have to believe that through love and education we can conquer hate…or can we?
A long, long time ago, say about a couple thousand years ago when folks sat on the floor to eat, it was important to have clean feet, because it would be embarrassing to come to the table with dirty feet. So, usually when you entered someone's house, you would have your feet cleaned--typically by a servant.
At the Last Supper, Jesus asked us to love one another, and then he washed all his disciples' feet. This was a symbol of his love, and an incredible gesture of great humility and service, because without humility there is no charity. By bringing himself down to the level of a foot-washer, Jesus showed us he is one of us and we must love one another equally.
This week is Holy Week, the most important week of the year for Christians, and the tradition of foot-washing continues every Holy Thursday. At my church, we too, carry on the tradition of foot-washing, and last night I participated for the first time. It was a beautiful experience, because not only do you wash someone's feet, you must have your feet washed, too. The beauty in that is that what we give, we must be able to receive as well. Often times, the latter can be more difficult than the former.
No matter your religion, or lack there of, the significance of this tradition is but one powerful and universal message--love.
So, as I think about the terror that continues to plague our modern society, I pray that we all remember to be foot-washers. Throughout mass on Holy Thursday, as I watched people wash others' feet and get their feet washed, I thought how much more love and peace there might be if we all were foot-washers. That doesn't mean going around washing everyone's feet every day. Even something as simple as letting the person behind you in the grocery line go ahead of you, because he only has one item to checkout is being a foot-washer. It shows you are aware of others.
Pope Francis also continued the tradition, and he washed the feet of Muslim, Hindu, Orthodox, and Catholic refugees. As Jesus did, he reminds us that love knows no boundaries and sees every colour.
Be a foot-washer. Remember to be a foot-washer.
BIG LOVE & HUGS