Reverse Bucket List

Here’s a list of 40 things I did by age 40 (a reverse bucket list):

1. Played Suzuki violin at Wolf Trap, VA and the Kennedy center in DC.
2. Met President Carter.
3. Met Jewel.
4. Got my masters degree (4.0 GPA).
5. Had three babies.
6. Married twice. (Divorced once).
7. completed a 95 day semester on the Rockies.
8. Assisted a midwife at approximately thirty home-births.
9. Got arrested for hanging off the Triboro bridge in NYC to protest ocean dumping for Greenpeace.
10. Edited and self-published my dad’s book for him after he died.
11. Travelled to Europe (Rome, Florence, Siena, Venice, Paris, Amsterdam).
12. Travelled to Hawaii (Kauai, Maui, Hawaii).
13. Got licensed to teach all subjects 4-8 and math 8-12.
14. Started my own math tutoring business.
15. Worked as a classroom teacher for eight years.
16. Went rock climbing all over (VA, WV, WY, CO, AZ).
17. Had sixteen surgeries.
18. Spent two winters studying and teaching in Yellowstone National Park.
19. Kayaked around Isla Espiritu Santo in Baja. (Spent a month there).
20. Played college soccer freshman and sophomore years.
21. Spent a month above tree line in Colorado learning about alpine ecology.
22. Saw the Grateful Dead and Jerry Garcia Band many times.
23. Spent a month living on a hippie commune in Northern California.
24. Started writing a blog.
25. Studied French for six years.
26. Learned to play the guitar.
27. Wrote my first guitar solo.
28. Learned how to do yoga.
29. Lived outdoors in Colorado for a year and half.
30. Was featured in a newspaper for a school project.
31. Wrote nineteen episodes of fiction.
32. Survived a fall/slide all the way down a frozen ski run on Mt Rose, NV.
33. Did gymnastics for eight years.
34. Went on a first date to Paris, France.
35. Drove across the country a few times.
36. Saw over sixty live concerts.
37. Hung a banner from a building for Greenpeace in Louisiana (and didn’t get arrested).
38. Grew up without a father.
39. Completed a sprint distance triathlon.
40. Went to Disneyland and Disneyworld.

What does your reverse bucket list look like?

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!



25 Things About Me

I’m flashing back today, looking back over some of the old notes I wrote on Facebook before I started blogging.  Found this list of 25 things about me and got a kick out of re-reading it and thought I would share with updates where necessary.

1.  Like my friend Eve who tagged me in this note, I have a genius IQ, but I knew it when I was a kid and resented the pressure to be an overachiever.
2.  I like beans….and I make a yummy bean salad.  Whatever I cook if I can throw in some beans I will. (Update-I no longer eat beans!  I’ve been following a mostly paleo diet since August (no grains, no dairy, no beans/legumes, no refined salt, sugars, or oils). 
3. I like to cook, and I am obsessed with eating healthy food like lean meats, lots of fruits and veggies, and whole grains. (Update-no more whole grains!  Was diagnosed with gluten sensitivity (click here to read the entry I wrote about it) in May and have been off most grains (except a little rice since August).
4.  I always wanted to be a wife and mother and never really knew what career to pursue when I was growing up.  Click here to read why.
5.  Because of #4, I went to three colleges, took two years off (one to work for GP and do a NOLS semester (click here to read about it) and the other to work as a cook and live in Telluride, CO), and changed my major twice (#1 French #2 Philosphy/Religion #3 Environmental Studies)….didn’t graduate until I was 25.

Telluride, CO from a gondola.

Telluride, CO from a gondola. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

6.  My first ‘career’ was an environmental activist for Greenpeace in Washington DC.

Washington DC

Washington DC (Photo credit: eGuide Travel)

7.  I got my master’s degree in Education and became a teacher after my GP job got moved to Amsterdam;  I was a single mom so I didn’t want to go.
8.  When I was a teacher, I discovered a passion for math, and now that I am a stay home mom I love tutoring math because I can help students learn to love math.  Click here to read about my love affair with math.

Dansk: Dedikeret til matematik

Dansk: Dedikeret til matematik (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

9.  I love to sleep and will sleep until noon if nobody wakes me up.  I also love being pampered like getting massages.
10.  I met my husband, Joe, at the gym when he was working there and going to school and I was his 12:30 appointment for personal training.  We started running together and the rest is history.  Even though he is a lawyer now, we still go to the gym every weekend and love exercising together.

11.  I am lactose intolerant (like most Asian Americans).
12.  I am an extrovert and love to get together with friends, pot-luck style, with good food, drinks and conversation.
13. When I go out, my drink of choice is gin and tonic (Bombay Sapphire) and my favorite shots are Jaegermeister and Tequila. (Update-no more gin or jaegermeister due to food allergies.  The only liquor I drink is Patron silver tequila).
14.  I drink wine (chardonnay) when I’m cooking and with dinner.
15. I am kind of a control freak and always am trying to avert danger and/or accidents, especially with my kids. Like we don’t let them play outside in the front yard without an adult and don’t even get me started on how hard it is to have a 15 yr. old who is about to date and drive etc. (Update-since I wrote this post, I wrote nineteen episodes of fiction. I realized this theme came up in my fiction writing. Click here to read my fiction episodes).
16.  I like heights and exposure, hence my affinity for climbing trees as a kid, my love for rock climbing and high mountains where the earth meets the sky.  When I stand on a cliff or overlook I get the urge to fly like a bird, but of course I don’t have wings so maybe I should take up hang gliding or something?


Split Rock, WY 1989

17.  On the flip side, I am claustrophobic and I would really hate to go scuba diving or caving or anything like that.
18.  I am a big flirt, always have been, in fact I won ‘biggest flirt’ in 8th grade with Bill Schraa who ironically was also voted ‘best couple’ with his girlfriend.
19.  When I go shopping I am all about the sales and hardly ever will pay retail price.
20.  I manage all the money in our household and am good about paying our bills on time or early.
21. I correct people when they use bad grammar (I know that is annoying, but I can’t help it).
22.  When I am going through a hard time, I make music mixes full of songs that reflect whatever it is that’s going on.  Before CD‘s I made mixed tapes.
23.  I always try to complement people and tell them what I like about them (something I learned as a teacher when conferencing with parents).  There is always something nice you can say, no matter who it is.
24.  I spend alot of time on the computer.
25.  I give my kids ‘mommy homework’ if they don’t have any from school and make them do reading, writing, and math all summer (for about an hour a day, it’s not so bad) to keep them challenged.  Click here to read about summer learning.

Perot museum: Animals Inside Out

Check out these pictures from the Animals: Inside Out exhibit at the Perot Museum in Dallas, Texas.  It’s a special exhibit with various animals including humans after going through a process called ‘plastination.’  Bodies are preserved and turned into plastic, making it possible to see anatomy of living things like never before.  It was a fascinating experience to see the complex body systems that make up the diversity of life!20131028-141439.jpg

Above is a picture of an octupus.  Below is the reflection of its underside.20131028-141516.jpg


Close-up of the eye of a giant squid. Beautiful, I think!20131028-143200.jpg

Two giant squids with tentacles entwined.20131028-143218.jpg

A Mako shark, the fastest in the world.  A student volunteer said they can swim up to 88 miles an hour (that we know of).  What a fun volunteer job, working at a nature and science museum.20131028-143308.jpgA



This is a camel, and its neck and head have been sliced into three sections to show different levels of its anatomy.  It was quite large. I’ve never seen a camel in real life before.20131028-143702.jpg




This is the blood vessel network in a dog!  How did they do that?  It’s obviously dyed red for effect.20131028-143749.jpg




I stopped and looked at the human leg for a long time, as well as the entire human body.  I’ve seen human anatomy in books, but that’s it.  My legs are frequently sore, stiff, and painful after seven surgeries on the right and one on the left. So, I found it fascinating to look at the musculature and try to ascertain which ones I feel aching from time to time.  20131030-130738.jpg


20131028-143638.jpgThis was amazing, a cat’s nervous system!  How did they take it out of its body intact like that?  I assume our nervous systems look similar.  Mind completely blown!

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!


I’m not sure exactly when I became so fearful, but I realize I am a completely different person than I was in the past in that regard. This past weekend, I visited Six Flags over Texas with my daughter and her dance studio and had my fears put to the test.

When I was a kid, you couldn’t get me off the rides when we visited amusement parks. The closest park to where I grew up in Virginia was King’s Dominion. We went there a few times a year, and I have many fun memories of long, hot, sweaty days spent there having fun riding the rides. My mom used to let me and my brother bring a friend, and those are some of my best childhood memories. I’ve always loved the adrenaline rush that comes with riding a roller coaster and was the girl who rode “The Rebel Yell” over and over again until it was time to go. My hands flew freely in the air as my stomach dropped and the coaster hurdled down the tracks on the old wooden frame. The log flume was my second favorite ride because it included a refreshing, cold splash of water at the end of the ride. I ate pizza slices and drank snow cones and sodas, carefree like children are.

In high school, I won the “Daredevil” award one year at cheerleading camp. Because of my petite size, I was frequently the one on the top of the pyramids. I wasn’t afraid; it was fun. Although I fell off the top of a pyramid in tenth grade and broke both wrists, I continued to cheer the next year. The district banned pyramids after my accident, so it was a bit tamer after that, but I had just as much fun the next year as I had before. However, in retrospect, I was too afraid to try another back handspring after I broke my wrists.


As a college student, I started rock-climbing and continued that passion for years until finally having seven surgeries on my right leg and deciding it was time to quit as an adult (roughly at the age of 40). I loved the exhilaration of being up high on an exposed cliff with the wind blowing through my sweaty hair. Sometimes, I would be afraid to fall, but I trusted my protection system and my belayer, so I never really feared dying or being seriously injured. In fact, I felt the opposite, empowered like I was capable of doing anything I wanted to, literally. At the tops of the climbs, there was a sense of accomplishment and appreciation of a perspective of the world rarely seen.

I spent 95 days outdoors on a “Spring Semester in the Rockies” with the National Outdoor Leadership School. I led a small group of my peers for a four-day hike through Canyonlands National Park in Utah to meet up with our instructors. I survived harsh temperatures and brutal physical challenges. Never once was I scared.


Not anymore. I’m scared pretty much every day now, and it magnified the other day when I was at Six Flags. I don’t know who this fearful older woman is, but as the kids and some of the other moms were riding the rides, I kept turning them down saying I would wait at the end. I have plenty of good excuses: people with back and neck problems shouldn’t ride the rides, someone has to hold people’s purses, and the big one was that just a few weeks ago a woman died riding the Texas Giant when she fell out of her seat. The accident is still under investigation, but when people are falling out of rides, I think it’s time for me to stop riding them. Yes, I realize I have a greater chance of dying in a car accident on the way to Six Flags. Trust me, I’ve been through all this in my head before. But let me think about it, no.

We stopped watching the news at our house when our son is around because all the non-fictional stories he was hearing started making him scared of bad things happening. Everything from the poor school children in India who died after eating lunch, to husbands poisoning their wives, to children being abducted, gun accidents, and going to war were stories his little ears took in while we thought they were going over his head.

Perhaps having children, experiencing pain and injury, losing loved ones, and our desire to stay well-informed has its way of turning innocent, fearless young people into jaded and fearful adults. Sure, when we sign up to have kids, we sign up to care for them and help them grow into independent adults. We sign up to look around every corner and think of every worst-case scenario that could happen, and then we try to stay ahead of our kids warning and guiding them.

After suffering the physical pain of injuries and surgeries, we learn the hard way what the consequences of our carefree actions are. Our entire lifestyle changes when our bodies no longer work the way they used to.

The loss of friends and loved ones usually teaches lessons in hindsight. We start to trace their deaths backwards and wonder if little things went differently if the outcomes would have been different. Then we learn we can’t rewrite the past. We can only move forwards with the insight we gained.

It reminds me of Aunt Josephine in Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events played by Meryl Streep. She is fearful to the maximum, constantly warning ‘don’t do _____ or ______ will happen.’

While we can take precautions and take steps to keep ourselves and our children safe, that’s certainly no way to live. It’s too extreme. We can’t live our lives in fear. After all, stepping back and looking at the big picture, our lives are not really under our control. We are living on a spherical rock spinning through space in an orbit around the sun. At any moment forces beyond our control can act on our lives. But, we do what we can to feel like we are in some control of our fates. We click the seatbelts, lock the doors, and teach our kids safety rules.

And then there are times like our day at Six Flags when we put ourselves directly in the path of danger. We put ourselves on these rides and say to ourselves, ‘it will be fine.’ And usually it is. But at what cost? The family of the woman who fell out of the roller coaster a few weeks ago surely isn’t fine. But the park is open again and the rides are full with long lines.

I did shy away from the roller coasters (and felt a little bad about being scared), but I did face my fears and ride one ride, the Sky Screamer, a swing that spins around up to 400 feet high in the air. It’s the world’s tallest swing ride. I thought it would be ok since it doesn’t jerk riders around and go up and down at high speeds. The girls who convinced me to ride it assured me it was smooth, fun, and non-stressful. So, I did it. I got in line with them, said prayers to any God who would listen to me and even rode with a stranger because I was the odd person out, and it’s a two person ride.

As you can see, it’s a big tower with sets of two swings attached with chains. One belt goes around the waist, and the metal bar locks in front of you. That’s it. Being a math and science person, I couldn’t help but investigate how it worked as we were waiting and watching other people ride. I kept thinking What if? What if the chains break? What if the belt breaks? What if the screws and bolts come undone? What if?

Much to my chagrin, the guy I was riding with got anxious as we reached 400 feet in elevation. My palms were already sweating, and I was already repeating to myself, “It’s going to be ok.” Then he started saying things like, “Oh no, don’t look down, don’t look down. These chains. These chains aren’t strong enough to hold us. Oh no, the chains.” I was about to punch this guy next to me because he was making my anxiety even worse. I kept repeating it would be ok, and thankfully it was. We spent a few minutes way up high spinning in circles with the horizon jumping around, and the people and things on the ground shifting back and forth into and out of focus. I did the best I could to keep my eyes on the girls in front of me since that’s what made the depth perception and dizziness the best. We lowered slowly, and my sense of equilibrium came back. I did it; I faced my fear and made it out alive to tell about it. Big deal right? To me it was.

I learned not to let the what if mentality rule my life and keep me from doing fun things. What if the sky falls? Not much I can do about that, so I will focus on what I can control instead.

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!




Summer 2013 In Review

It’s been quite a summer. So much going on that I took a bit of a break from blogging for the past couple of weeks. Haven’t had as much time or energy to commit to it lately. But now that it’s the last day of summer, I’d like to take a few minutes to wrap everything up. Tomorrow, another school year starts, and there will be another major shift in our daily routines as a family.

One of the joys of being a stay home mom is having ‘time off’ to take care of the kids during the summers. Early mornings rushing to get to school on time turn into lazy mornings, sleeping late, and mostly unstructured days. The kids have activities, but it’s hardly stressful because there is nowhere else they have to be. I also structure learning into their days, but all in all we have a laid-back, relaxing time during the summers. Staying home with them and being with them all day in the summers also means I’m busy with them all day and taking care of all of their needs. So, it means a busier mommy with more to worry about.

My youngest is a joy. He is eight years old, starting third grade tomorrow. He is so easy-going. From the minute he wakes up, he usually has a great attitude and does whatever he is told or asked. He is still at that innocent age and has such a nice life with both parents who live with him and love him without measure. He has been taking swimming lessons and doing Taekwondo lessons over the summer as well as having private baseball lessons. My husband coaches his baseball team, so he also has lots of daddy time playing sports.

My middle daughter is thirteen years old and is starting eighth grade this year. While parenting a teenager is certainly a tough job, luckily I’ve done it once before. She spent the summer mostly dancing, attending intensive day camps as well as evening classes. After eight years of gymnastics, age 3-11, she switched to dance but was behind the other girls her age. After two years of training and practice, she officially made the Elite competition company at her dance studio this summer. We are super proud of her and recognize all the hard work she’s put into reaching her goal of becoming a competitive dancer.


Oh yea, and she also dyed the ends of her hair hot pink again this summer (with my help).

My oldest daughter is twenty and is starting fifteenth grade this year as a junior in college. She recently changed her major to business accounting, and this was her first summer staying at school during the summer, living, working, and taking classes. I took two trips to visit her there this summer, and she also came home for a week. How nice! When I was her age, I also lived and worked away from home, but I didn’t also stay and take classes, so it really was a new experience. Both weekends I was there, I had a blast, but I also had my first introduction to parenting an adult child. We moved her into her new apartment, and I helped her out with several other logistical aspects of her young adult life. It really made me realize how much time and energy I spend running other peoples’ lives. Just being away from the two little kids for the weekend left me with a feeling I wasn’t used to, and then of course, all the different ways of mothering an adult child were new experiences to me. I’ve never helped one of my kids move and decorate apartments, made a resume, or helped with the logistics involved with finding a job and living independently as an adult. She and her fellow classmates are living a lifestyle where they have almost everything provided for them, and all they have to worry about is themselves and their classes. It’s an amazing window of time on the verge of adulthood.



My visits both made me reflect on my experiences as a twenty year old and on the kind of mother I am trying to be. I aim to be a different kind of mom than I had. I want my kids to be able to talk to me about anything going on in their lives. Kids are going to do what they want to anyway, so I would rather accept that and guide them than to hide my head in the sand and be an unapproachable parent. I would rather have open communication with my kids so I can try to help them navigate the waters of life. However, knowing what the kids are doing can also be quite stressful for moms. We worry about safety and well-being. We want our kids making safe, smart decisions that usually come from a lifetime of experience and a brain that is fully developed; two things that twenty year olds don’t possess. So we worry. Then we communicate and brainstorm solutions, so I think we are on the right track. I loved having the chances to get to know her friends and be part of her life for a few days!


I’ve had a really rough summer with my food allergies. I got diagnosed with gluten sensitivity in May and have been off gluten three months now. But, I keep accidentally getting corn in my diet, ‘corn poisoning’ as I call it. I haven’t been diagnosed with a corn allergy, but I react and get sick every single time I have it, so I think allergy or not, I really need to completely eliminate it from my diet. This summer, it was a margarita (corn in the lemon/lime mixer), a gluten free pizza (corn in the dough) and a protein smoothie powder (xanthan gum – which is corn – used as an ingredient). Each time, I get sick for a couple of weeks, so put those three together and you can see that I’ve been feeling pretty sick all summer unfortunately. I’ve had such bad swelling and eczema that I finally saw my allergist the other day and got a steroid shot to make it all subside. When I have reactions to foods, my stomach hurts, I get joint and muscle pain, and I have a bad rash of eczema. So, it makes me really grumpy. Unfortunately, I’ve felt grumpy for a long time recently.

We did do some fun things too: we took our annual beach vacation in Destin, Florida. I’ve written about this place and the beach in general before. I love what the beach does to my soul. I wish we could live at the beach, but I’m thankful we get to take a yearly trip.


I also went to some fun concerts. My husband and I saw Kid Rock, and my daughter (13) and I saw One Direction. Great times.



Last week, we went to the Perot Museum of Nature and Science as a family. We bought a membership, so we can go back anytime we want to for the next year. There are also special events and other perks for members. I was fascinated by the architecture and impressed by all the interactive activities. I especially loved seeing the dinosaur bones, gems/minerals, and the human body exhibits. There were even slices of real people, one man and one woman, who had donated their bodies to science. They were embalmed, frozen, sliced and displayed in plastic with a light behind them. It was FASCINATING to say the least. We could see all the anatomical parts and compare the younger, healthier female to the older, less healthy male.



I continued guitar lessons over the summer, and my son also started taking weekly lessons. We are learning “Carol of the Bells” to play together at Christmas. He loves the lessons and can’t wait to start rocking out! I am still working on improvising and have been working on a couple hard songs this summer: “Uncle John’s Band” by the Grateful Dead and “Over the Hills and Far Away” by Led Zeppelin.




Watching the MTV VMAs on the last night of summer. Mine was Miley Cyrus “Can’t Stop.” “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke was my second favorite.

What was your favorite song this summer? How was your summer?

Bike ride

These are some pictures I took along a bike ride the other day. I haven’t been able to ride my bike on the paved trails that wind through our city for a few months due to a sprained knee in March. The other day was the first time I got back on it and started pedaling down the path with the intent of seeing if I could go all the way across town and back. I kept it in a low gear and coasted as much as I could, and good news is that I made it! I stopped to take a few pictures along the way because I think it’s such a pretty ride. Although I saw lots of wildlife like herons, ducks, loons, many birds, squirrels, and turtles, I only snapped a few shots. I also took panoramic shots of the three main stops along thew way. Living in suburbia isn’t all that bad when a trail like this one is so close to home. 20130607-105715.jpg


Can you really tell wildflowers where to grow? Doesn’t that go against their wild nature?





The other end of the trail. I made it to the end! It loops back to where I started.20130607-105843.jpg


A picture of my handlbars and front tire. I need a new bike, but this one still gets the job done!20130607-105909.jpg



Lovely isn’t it? This area is kept up by our homeowner’s association. The dead snake is just an extra touch. Yuck! Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!20130607-110222.jpg



30 Day Photo Challenge: Day 5 Nature

Canna Lily

Canna Lily

“Mathematics is the language of nature.” ~Galileo

This is a picture of a canna lily leaf in my backyard.  They are hearty plants and are easy to grow. In fact they multiply over the years so you can dig up the bulbs, separate them, and replant them elsewhere in the garden.  This beautiful spiral caught my eye as well as the striking patterns and colors on the broad, green leaves.  Fibonacci spirals are found in many places in nature. Think seashells and the spiral shape of the galaxy.  Fibonacci spirals are formed following the Fibonacci sequence, where each number is the sum of the two preceding numbers.  Fibonacci numbers like 3, 5, 8 can be seen in flower petals, tree branches, and spirals found on pineapples, pine cones and other natural phenomena.  Have you ever noticed that before?  It’s super cool.  Math is everywhere!

Check out some of these examples:

Disk florets of yellow chamomile (Anthemis tin...

Disk florets of yellow chamomile (Anthemis tinctoria) with spirals indicating the arrangement drawn in. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Aloe polyphylla

Aloe polyphylla (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Fibonacci Spiral generated with the f...

English: Fibonacci Spiral generated with the free software GeoGebra (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A tiling with squares whose sides are successi...

A tiling with squares whose sides are successive Fibonacci numbers in length (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!



31 Day Music Challenge: Day 25 A Song that Makes You Laugh

English: Weird Al Yankovic

English: Weird Al Yankovic (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

White and Nerdy” by Weird Al Yankovic is a song that makes me laugh. I laugh because it’s silly but also because I’m a bit nerdy myself. I love that he wrote this parody and think it’s hilarious.  I’m thinking of writing a similar parody for the song F-ing Problems by A$AP Rocky.  It would say, “Yea I like math; I got a math problem!”  LOL  If you haven’t heard the song yet, I have to warn you the lyrics are explicit.  But it would be funny to rewrite it to be all about math.  Yup, I’m (half) white and nerdy too.

 See the whole music challenge list at DeBie Hive.

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

Dallas World Aquarium

These are some of the critters we saw when we went to the Dallas World Aquarium a few weeks ago. My oldest (20) was home from school and wanted to visit the aquarium before she went back to college for the rest of the summer. I was happy to hear she wanted to go!  It was cool because as we entered the building its started off looking like a zoo with land animals and a large aviary with waterfalls and water below.  We transitioned from land and air animals to water then underwater animals inside the aquarium.  These are some pictures of cool things I saw.20130527-145447.jpg

Yum, I love crab legs!  These crabs were huge!







Just keep swimming!



I wonder how they stand on one leg like that when they are sleeping.


This is me doing a handstand outside the front door for the #handstand365 challenge.

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!


Fiction Friday #18: Good Enough

My Friday Fiction Friends and I write different stories based on the same prompt. This week,Tammy Soong at World’s Worst Moms provided the prompt. This is episode eighteen in an ongoing series. If you missed the first seventeen episodes, here are links:

7. Love


Sometimes is never quite enough

If you’re flawless, then you’ll win my love

Don’t forget to win first place

Don’t forget to keep that smile on your face

Be a good boy

Try a little harder

You’ve got to measure up

And make me prouder

How long before you screw it up

How many times do I have to tell you to hurry up

With everything I do for you

The least you can do is keep quiet

Be a good girl

You’ve gotta try a little harder

That simply wasn’t good enough

To make us proud

I’ll live through you

I’ll make you what I never was

If you’re the best, then maybe so am I

Compared to him compared to her

I’m doing this for your own damn good

You’ll make up for what I blew

What’s the problem…why are you crying

Be a good boy

Push a little farther now

That wasn’t fast enough

To make us happy

We’ll love you just the way you are

If you’re perfect

Alanis morissette

Alanis sang the lyrics that took Amanda back to her childhood and the constant pressure to be better, to be perfect in her parents’ eyes. Despite being divorced and living in separate states, both her parents were disappointed with her for various reasons. First, she was born the wrong sex so that put her at a disadvantage in her father’s estimation from the beginning. First born sons get the respect in Korean culture. Second born children, especially girls are not as valuable to aging parents. Then she didn’t accept the right religion (her mom’s fundamentalist Christianity) or get accepted to the right college (where her father worked) because she didn’t get “good enough” grades. Instead, she rebelled against their advice and set out to create a family of her own that accepted her for who she was.

Looking in the mirror, she saw the same eyes of that young girl and mentally hugged her, saying her mantra to herself. You’re perfect the way you are. Written on a neon green sticky note with a black sharpie, it was hard to avoid seeing it as she went through her daily beauty rituals. Her eyes were the same, but everything else grew up over the years. Her worries, joys, and experiences all carved into wrinkles on her tan skin. Instead of looking for her flaws, she observed with her mind and kept her focus on her golden brown eyes. Another sticky note written by Richard told her, “You are beautiful.”

sticky note

She dabbed concealer under her eyes and on her other imperfections then brightened up her eyes and face with fresh color and black mascara on curled lashes. Careful not to overdo it, she preferred a natural healthy look, plus at this point it was difficult to find the energy to go through her routine. Her counselor suggested it as part of an overall self-care program, starting with basics like hygiene and appearance. So, she woke up early just to take a shower and do her hair and makeup before starting her day. She liked the effects of enhancing her natural beauty with feminine touches, but as with everything in life there is a law of diminishing returns. Too much concealing and too much color makes a woman look fake and desperate for attention. It calls more attention to the flaws instead.

If only it were so easy to conceal imperfections in our lives.

So many things weighed on her mind…Richard, Ella, Anderson, Richard’s affair, life as a single mom, her boys, her granddaughter, her mom in the hospital. Taking care of herself was literally the last thing on Amanda’s mental list, so it really did take effort. Mother’s Day was just a few days away, and she hadn’t had any contact with her mom since her suicide attempt.

Amanda was learning to let go of guilt, and she felt especially guilty that her mom was alone and suffering. Knowing the perfect daughter would fly into town and visit in the hospital with flowers, Amanda gave herself permission to be less than perfect, to be good to herself even if it meant staying away from her mom. Even though it was sad her mom did that, it was even sadder she blamed it on Amanda instead of accepting her problems as her own and attempting to work on those problems with professionals. She certainly wasn’t being and hadn’t been a perfect parent.

I will send her some flowers and a card. That’s something. Better than nothing.

She loved her mom but knew that engaging with her would be toxic, so she stayed away. It was not a utopian mother-daughter relationship. No sense falling prey to a nirvana fallacy. The more Amanda let her mom into her world, the worse she felt and the more stressed and upset she was. Being a mom to her own children took all her energy.

She was thankful for her life and her family and needed to try to stay in a positive place. It was her daily practice to let go of the negative and appreciate the positive. She knew life can change at any moment, and she learned the hard way to love fully while there is the opportunity. Her life was still full of love, and although it felt like the end of the road in many ways, she knew there was beauty in the world. Dwelling on the positive was the best way she knew to keep herself from sinking into deep depression and activating a stress response in her body.


Richard and the boys always made Amanda queen for the day on Mother’s Day. This would be the first time she would celebrate it alone. This year, she would have to see the positive in celebrating it with her boys and her granddaughter. It wouldn’t be perfect, but it would be good enough. Keeping everything in perspective, at least she had three handsome sons and a gorgeous little granddaughter to celebrate.

People in the world are suffering way worse than I am. I am fortunate to have Cassidy and the boys. I am a proud mother and grandmother.

Because of her tense relationship with her mother, Amanda vowed to be a different kind of mother to her own children. And having Cassidy as her granddaughter felt like another opportunity to raise a little girl, one she missed out on when Ella’s life ended unexpectedly. She made it her priority to attend regular therapy and took medication for depression, unlike her mother. She told her boys all the things she loved about them and complimented them for qualities unique to their personalities. She encouraged them to follow their dreams and to believe in themselves. She and Richard tried not to fight in front of the children, and they showed affection in front of them. As far as the kids knew, everything was fine in their marriage except the grief. She tried to shield the kids from her troubles. And she never blamed them for anything going wrong in her life.

I am not perfect, but I’m perfect the way I am.

Feeling Good


Here is the prompt:

Let your characters work through the old saying, “Perfect is the enemy of good.”
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