Self-Worth is Independent

March 31, 2024 – How can you understand your self-worth?

My daughter and I went out for lunch yesterday. It’s Easter long weekend and I really wanted to spend some time with her. In my family, when I was growing up, spending time with family (and showing love) was to go out for lunch or dinner. Initially, I wanted to go out for a big breakfast, but my daughter had other plans. It’s not that I’m trying to please her, per se, but I wanted to have a good time with her. Anyway, we landed on Chinese food. We went to the Fortune House near where we live in Prince George. This restaurant was a bit of a find for us. It’s not a restaurant that serves Chinese and Japanese food. It’s just Chinese food. Albeit, it’s “Canadian” Chinese, there is a small section on the menu that serves Cantonese style food.

We like to order the Cantonese style seafood chow mein, which is the food pic above. They make it really well and it reminds of of the special chow mein we used to order when I was a kid from Galaxy Gardens in Prince Rupert. We also ordered another noodle dish and chicken and cream corn soup. It was a fulsome meal and we had lots of left overs too. Makes for an awesome part two for dinner. Anyway, this blog post is not about what we ate for lunch, but rather what I am learning. Having this meal reminded me that food is one of the only connections I have to my heritage, family, and culture. I am reminded of my mom and how important it was for her to gather around the table to share food, stories, and memories. I have fond memories of this.

I am listening to an audiobook titled, WORTHY. Yes, I was drawn to this book after watching a Reel and Oprah Winfrey was talking to the author of this book. I may have took it as a sign and started listening to it. I just finished Chapter 1 and I am left thinking about my ethnic identity and sense of self. The first chapter of this book attempts to differentiate the difference between self-worth and self-confidence. In essence, self-confidence is dependent on life’s events, accomplishments, and failures. Self-worth is independent from external forces. One’s sense of self-worth comes from the inside and is resilient to the ups and downs of life. What I was left wondering about is, if I denied my ethnic identity for decades, what is my sense of self-worth?

On reflection, I spent much time trying to prove myself to possibly earn the respect that my siblings had or be seen for the accomplishments I’ve achieved to be accepted or belong. What I am realizing is, I had it all wrong. Much of my need to belong, I am learning, stems from my relationships and how I responded to different people in my life. I am dodging naming who and what is, but I have been stepping away from myself for a very long time such that my sense of self-worth was not existent because I believed my self-worth was dependent on what people thought of me. What a mess!! Self-confidence and achievement do not equate to one’s self-worth. Understanding this difference and unpacking my ethnic identity as an Chinese Canadian are helping me to understand an appreciate my self-worth. I am happy.

The more moments I have to reflect on life to make sense of the world and who I am, I am compelled to pursue my research program under the umbrella of an autoethnography, focused on a research question relating to belonging. This work connects to my other research interests in mathematics education, teacher education, and educational leadership. In these contexts, I am engaging in the following research methodologies: survey methods, design-based research, self-study, program evaluation, and community-based action research. I am super excited to embark on next steps now knowing that self-worth is not the same as self-confidence. To connect to my experiences with my ethnic identity, the opinions of others do not define my self-worth. I am a good person. I am Chinese. I am worthy.

Calling for a Spare

March 22, 2024 – Injured

I started to write about this topic last week but felt like I was hypothesizing so abandoned my approach to that blog post. Call it irony or serendipity, the hypothetical became true. I am injured. I spared last night for another team. I didn’t stretch and gradually my left hip and right Achilles heel felt strained. Throwing rocks became impossible. At that point, I saw the clear alignment between the mental game and the physical game. By the end of the game, I had neither. I’m disheartened.

Pain denial is real. I did not want to believe that I was not feeling my best after a couple of ends of play, but persisted and continued to play. Over time, I could not concentrate on my shot mid-slide. It was kind of a “crap-shoot” by the time I released the rock and I hoped for the best. The quality of my play rapidly declined as the game progressed. I was feeling horrible… physically and emotionally. A strong start… lead to a “meh” end. We lost the game. We gave the other team a 4-ender. I played third, and again, I felt out of place. Lots to reflect on from sparing in this curling game.

There is no better learning than the counterexample. I learned that lesson from Dr. Peter Liljedahl in math education. Here we are at the counterexample. I took some Advil last night and a hot bath to warm up after the game before going for bed. I had hoped to wake up this morning with a new outlook… and no pain. Nope. That wish was not meant to be. I woke and send a text message to my Friday night team that I could not play due to injury. I needed a spare. What is disappointing about not playing tonight, besides not playing, is that tonight is our last night of play in this year’s curling season. Luckily, my injured skip said that he is willing to return to the game tonight. Whew. This news brought me some solace. I’ll be watching tonight.

Although this is not the way I wanted to end the curling season, I am so grateful for all of the lessons I am experiencing and learning from. As mentioned, I am out of the game tonight due to an injury. I had to swallow my pride and park my ego to ask for help… a spare for tonight’s game. If I was true to myself, I have to be vulnerable and honest with how I am feeling and act accordingly. Asking for help is humbling. You don’t know how it will turn out, but trusting in oneself, the outcome will always surprise you. I guess this is surrendering to the situation. You can’t control the outcome. I can’t make myself feel better (i.e., heal my injuries overnight). What I can control are my actions. I had to ask for help. I am so grateful that it’s my skip.

A Late Post

March 19, 2024 – Grateful for My Health and Healthcare

A late post, indeed. It’s the middle of the night and it’s a late weekly post. Although this blog was not meant to be a weekly contribution, nor will it be a daily post because I need time to think and reflect, I like to have something written at least once a week. What I am learning is, I need to reflect (and learn) before moving onto the next. I am noticing and honouring this trait and tradition I have made for myself. Thinking about Parker Palmer and self-knowledge, the more I learn and understand about myself, in addition to the subject matter and students, the better I will be at my practice. I am so grateful to connect with some former students and colleagues. I am making time to meet with folks who “fill my cup” and hopefully I do the same for them. If anything, I need to do what’s best for me so that I can serve others.

Today, I was relishing in my #OneWord2024 (HAPPY). I am taking the time and deliberate practice on what makes me happy. I love watching curling on TV. I love playing curling on Friday nights. I love beading on Thursday nights at the art gallery. I love connecting with folks in my learning community. I love being with my kid. I love eating dumplings. I love watching Hallmark movies. I love blogging. I am learning lots about myself and taking the time to engage in these activities. What I learned today is, I love health practitioners and healthcare system. Much of what I’ve been focused on is my mental and spiritual health. I spent very little time on my physical health even though I know it is interrelated with the latter. Willingly or not willingly, I have been deferring and referring to the medical profession for help and assistance.

I take some medication that I have to renew my prescription every 3-months, I have been maintaining my dental health and appointments (with full intentions of flossing everyday), and I have been experiencing some symptoms and conditions that need some tending do. Although I am not being specific with my medical condition in my public blog, I did get a couple of referrals last year and now I am hearing back from some medical professionals. Over the last couple of weeks, I received some phone calls and had a phone consultation and in person consultation. I was so pleased to get these calls and grateful to be taking some action to address some my health issues. Today, I got good news too. I could not be happier. To ask and accept help from health professionals, I am going to feel and be much better… physically.

Body, mind, and spirit… I was wondering how all three would come together for me. Now, I understand. I am also learning how to go to the gym on a regular basis, but also return to a workload that is doable, joyful, and productive. What I learning is about the importance of being CONSISTENT. Although this blog post is not exactly about my autoethnography on “the perfect curling shot.” It’ is focussed on this key word of being consistent. That word struck me after one of my curling games this season. We won the game. I was skipping and our spare curled third. My skip is injured. The team I am skipping have a good synergy or balance that is tough to describe to create, but when you have it… magic happens. For us, it’s curling and being consistent. After winning one of these games, one of the players for the other team shook my hand and told me that I was consistent. I took the complement.

What I should notice is, you can’t play if you’re injured. You play your best when everyone on the team is focused on learning and making the best of every shot. And, what I learned from my last game, getting down on teammates, judging others (or self) in negative ways, and blaming others or getting frustrated negatively impacts one’s performance. I am not saying that this is what happened on my team last week (but have done so at other times and with other teams), I observed that in our opponents. I’m not judging them but merely noticing and recognize that behaviour. Admittedly, I would not got to the doctor’s or healthcare if I did not have to or think that I had too. I was too worried about being judged or worried about what I would learn. I was definitely in denial. Instead of things getting better, they got worse. I guess this is how today’s news impacts my curling metaphor. Get help to be better. 

In the end, what I have learned is, asking and getting the help I need, regardless of how scary I may perceive this experience and future experiences, people want to help, they can help, and I need the help. I am going to feel better. I have never felt happier. I feel optimistic and hopeful. I cannot wait for next steps and I look forward to what life will be like when I have some of my health issues remedied and/or managed. It feels good to have access to this help and I feel privileged and humbled to get this help. Thank you health professionals for your expertise, kindness, and compassion. I am grateful to have access to health care to become a better me.

Making a Decision

March 11, 2024 – “Love Where You Are”

I’m not sure how it happens, but it’s a thought pops into my head that brings some solace and peace into my heart and mind. I’m not sure what all of the deliberation entails, but often it involves something very important to me. During the deliberation process, I’m left in limbo. It’s not a great place to be, but as one person said to me during beading… COMMIT. This is so true. I know that the context at the time was beading at the art gallery and it was about committing to the bead and process, but it resonated with me in ways that lingered and challenged me to make a decision.

My blogging on this WordPress site will explore my learning from curling, beading, and experiences with my mom during her last 20-days. I am feeling more invested in exploring autoethnography and using this platform to document some of my learning and reflections as I work towards a formal study on myself, my practice, and ethnic identity. I am drawn to the idea of identity development (mine in particular) and how our lived experiences formed who we are, what directions we choose to take in life, and what’s important to us in terms of our personal and professional lives.

I started my research program with much tentativeness as well as moving forward with publishing its results. Now with the discovery of the methodology of authoethnography and developing a research question that resonates with me deeply, I knowingly or unknowingly made a connection to my dissertation on non-mathematics specialist teachers, program evaluations in teacher education, and recent work looking at decolonization and my ethnic identity. I did not think it would be possible to bring these ideas together, but I found the thread that ties them.

When I realized that, my mind drifts to the next question about my career and next steps. Part of that depends on where I live. At first, I did not expect to live in Prince George, but I’ve been here for almost 6 years (minus 2-years due to the pandemic and remote learning). Lots of what I’ve been upacking is what’s best for me and what do I want to really do. I am so grateful to take a moment to step back and look to reflect on what that might be. Now that I am unravelling my own “imposter syndrome” symptoms and the “need to please” others, the answer became clear.

I’m deciding to stay. There are challenges, but there are also many sources of joy. When I consider both, the joy outweighs any adversity and perceived obstacles. I am open to any outcome and understand that nothing is permanent or forever. I am learning this the hard way and in many ways. What is certain is making a decision. I am making the commitment and in doing so, I have so much clarity now such that my motivation and excitement are unleashed. I feel free and open to the challenges that are in front of me and ones that I will be looking for very soon to keep learning.

I have not felt this excited in awhile and I am going to take those next steps to make things possible for me. I am my only agent and advocate. I am learning this and I am stoked to make more decisions to stoke my fire. Where I was going to live and make a commitment to weighed on me for quite some time and have been swayed in different directions for many reasons. What I do know is, I feel happy, I’m excited, and I’m ready to live, take risks, and play. How can I be so lucky to do what I get to do and I am so grateful for my friends and family who support me and lift me up.

Off My Game

March 9, 2024 – Learning from the Counter Example

Well… it’s been 5-days since my last post. There will not be a daily blog post. Accept and allow. I’m not sure why I continue to strive for unrealistic goals, but when I think about my #OneWord2024… being HAPPY is also knowing what makes you happy. Admittedly, this last week was an excellent counter example and my curling on Friday was evidence of that. My mind was elsewhere, my body was not 100%, and my spirit was lagging. When you’re not all there and PRESENT, it shows up in your day-to-day life. Reflecting on my game, I was very aware what other people were doing, saying, and possibly thinking. What a horrible place to be. Why did it matter? Why was it important to me? In the end, it was all not important and consequences are real.

I am also reminded by the beading classes I’m taking at the art gallery. I curl on Fridays and bead on Thursdays. As mentioned, this last week was not great for me, emotionally and physically. On Sunday, I just joined the gym and went a couple of times. Unfortunately, I think I’m overdoing it and it’s taking my body some time to recover. My plan is yoga on Sunday. Let’s see how this goes. Anyway, back to beading, when you are not focused, present, or attuned to what you are doing, you stab yourself with the needle. It never fails. You cannot daydream, worry about what other people are thinking, or be too judgemental of your own work. You have to bead from a good place and be present. I love beading on Thursdays. It’s one of my places.

“BELONGING: a feeling of being happy or comfortable as part of a particular group and having a good relationship with the other members of the group because they welcome you and accept you” – Cambridge Dictionary

A lot of what I would like to explore further in my research agenda is BELONGING or the sense of belonging. My overarching research question is about “not quite belonging” and this knowing or feeling connects many aspects of my professional experiences and what interests me the most. In order to explore this idea of belonging (or lack there of) further, my Chair has encouraged me to learn more about myself. This opportunity to delve into self-knowledge and understanding more about myself, possibly in a self-study, autoethnography, or program evaluation, I need to take a moment to unravel and unpack my lived experiences to understand my positionality, identity, and sense of belonging. I’ve started to explore and inquire.

Ideas such as self-doubt, misalignment, and inauthenticity are elements at the core of my investigation. I spent many years of my life trying to be someone that I am not. Some would call it “people pleasing” others might call it “assimilation” while in other cases it was more about “fitting in.” I believed that it was something I had to do to belong. What I know know is, I was wrong. According to Brené Brown, the opposite of belonging is fitting in. Regretfully, I spent many years trying to “fit in” and yet, I never belonged. That’s a harsh reality. The fear of not fitting in or fear of not doing what it takes to fit in misguided me for a long time. Now, I know and I am re-learning my values, my beliefs, and what it means to do what’s best for me. The journey begins

“The truth is: Belonging starts with self-acceptance. Your level of belonging, in fact, can never be greater than your level of self-acceptance, because believing that you’re enough is what gives you the courage to be authentic, vulnerable and imperfect.” – Brené Brown

This is a difficult lesson: I am enough. I don’t have to prove myself, I don’t have to explain myself, and I don’t have to defend myself… anymore. Living in the shadow of others or seeking the approval from others are not ways of living that is being truthful or authentic to me. I saw that in last week’s curling game. The constant worry and self-doubt throughout the game equated to underperformance, lack of clarity, and a losing outcome. I’m not even sure about being so vulnerable in my blog post, but not doing so is not accepting myself for who I am. The last two weeks have been incredible to rest, restore, and find the clarity I need to be consistent, kind, and compassionate to me and my needs. I can do this. I accept myself. I am happy.

Everyday cannot be “the perfect curling shot.” Learn from your mistakes and try again. Focus on consistency. Don’t dwell. Stay in the game and trust each throw.

A Daily Blog Post

March 3, 2024 – Writing as the Method of Inquiry

I love this image of a bowl of Cheerios to complement the text of this blog post. Admittedly, I am a bit overwhelmed by the idea of blogging everyday, but my friend and colleague, Ian Landy, blogs every “work” day. I was cyberstalking his WordPress site – technoloandy – site of Ian Landy – and checked out his record of blogging. He’s maintained this site since 2012 and he has been blogging daily since 2014/2015. That’s amazing!!! I’ve tried numerous times, but could never do it. As a result, I opted to do a weekly blog post. That seemed to meet my needs. I do need some time to reflect on the week and pull out that “nugget” to find content worth writing about.

Looking at this bowl of Cheerios reminds me of daily blogging. There are soooooooo many days and as you can see, only a few Cheerios shaped as hearts are present in this sweet mix of deliciousness. There are so many individual Cheerio-bits, but it’s the whole bowl with a cup of (oat) milk that makes this a yummy treat. A bit of crunch. A bit of sweetness. And hey, a bit of fibre. Why not? I can see the value of writing a daily blog. I believe that Ian was inspired by another Canadian educators, George Couros. Looking at his website – George Couros – Learner, Speaker, Author – it looks like he blogs weekly now. Nonetheless, his blog is under the header “learning.” Makes sense.

March 4, 2024 – Whoops!! The day after…

I did not expect my Sunday to turn out the way it did, but it did. Now I return back to this “daily blog” post attempt the day after. No worries, but clearly I will need some time to adjust to the idea of a daily post as part of my pursuit of understanding the methodology of autoethnography. I am reading a mini-book by APA on autoethnography and watched a YouTube video of the author who provided an overview of this methodology states clearly at the beginning of the book that WRITING is used as the method of inquiry, not as a by-product of the research. This idea is compelling for me as I spend much of my time blogging and reflecting on various ideas related to my personal and professional learning… and research.

When I blog, I find that my writing takes a life of its own. I have an intention to write and what to write about (or sometimes it’s just to keep the writing process ongoing on a weekly basis) and often I find that I meander a bit within the writing and at times it takes me to places I did not realize or intended. In these moments, I walk away thinking… HUH… I didn’t realize that. Blogging helped me to jump into the writing process. I did not perceive myself to be a reader or writer, but apparently, daily reading and writing is essential to autoethnography. Blogging, for me, is more than a reflective practice or journal entry. It’s an opportunity for sense-making and thinking through ideas. And maybe, this writing might help someone else (who reads it).

The tables have turned though… writing as the act of inquiry in this methodology is going to help me with my research agenda. It reminds me when I inspired to do a project in The Science of Curling in Grade 9. I won that year. I just loved that science project. It was something that I was interested in. I loved going on the ice to collect data. And, I can clearly remember the wooden poster board I made for the project. I was so invested in the project and what I would learn… not about winning or losing the fair. Ironically, as I write about it, I’m realizing it also reflected what I want to explore further with my first investigation… THE PERFECT CURLING SHOT.

So simple, yet so complex. What makes a perfect curling shot? The topic seems even more appropriate as I watch the Brier on TV (and last week, the Tournament of Hearts). My commitment is to document some of my memories about curling on this blog site. If you had clicked on the link above, I am also navigating another website too. I remember writing that very post and deliberating which site to make that on. Nor here or there, but I have decided to write these curling blog posts here on this WordPress site. I am very curious of the writing process as a sense-making process. I have already made a few blog posts about curling, but what I’m understanding is, curling helps me to make sense of complex ideas. I look forward to this writing.

Feeling Rested

March 2, 2024 – Onwards and Upwards

Holy moly… Yesterday, my site had ZERO attempts to log into my account. Over the last 24-hours, I had 1800+ attempts. Was it something I said? I changed the title of my last blog post and let’s see how that goes. The last thing I want are bots attempting to get into my WordPress site. I just finally gained access to it (by accident). I almost gave up this site because my access to this site was limited and deteriorating with each update. Not that I have regained access to my site, I never want to let it go. LOL. It was a nice reunion with my WordPress site a few months ago. I hope the number of attempts reduce over time, but my last post was an epiphany, so I can see why folks (or bots) might be attracted to my site. LOL. Just a side thought. Who knows? TBD.

I love this photo. There is nothing more comforting (to me) than a hot bowl of pho. It’s one of my most favourite things to eat and I feel lucky that there is a place in Prince George I can go to and seek this moment of solace. I love the service and I love the familiarity. And, it was delicious. I am finally feeling like myself. I feel rested. I feel aligned to who I am. Ironically, I’m getting a bit dozy writing this blog post, but I woke this morning feeling like I’m rested. Most times I wake feeling tired or anxious. Today, was a good feeling. I made breakfast (refried rice and a sunny side up egg with soy sauce) and had a hot cup of coffee. Ahhhh… my favourite things again (although I would have loved a piece of Spam, but the body can no longer have it… #sadness).

Saturdays… (aka. be a person day)… I recycled, cleaned the house, grocery shopped, vacuumed, and dusted… I’m blogging, watching the Brier or Hallmark movie, and taking the time to make a yummy lunch (i.e., a bagel with cream cheese and lox, a sliced orange, and a diet coke). It’s the first time in a long time that I feel like I’m myself. What a weird thing to say. I feel at peace. I don’t feel like I’m in the hustle and I feel aligned to who I am. I love that I get to think about what platform I would use to document my “stories” to explore the methodology of autoethnography or to pause and think about the “pile of marking” I need to accomplish and complete in the near future. I feel good about this place and way of being. Focus the curling shot… that’s it.

I can appreciate the little things. I’m no longer scared or worried about what people think or will do. I don’t feel compelled to impress anyone, nor do I feel motivated to limit myself or be someone who I am not. I think about my autoethnography of “the perfect curling shot”… none of these factors matter. What matters is knowing the shot you want to throw, executing the technical aspects of the delivery, and staying within the moment to achieve the shot. Moreover, your team also have to be on board with the shot. As soon as there is any self-doubt, worrying about the outcome, or thinking about the opponent in that moment of making the shot, you’ve missed the shot.

The last few weeks have been transformative and I am feeling like my 13-year old self alive an well. I have to admit, this journey of understanding myself (or finding myself) has been one with may up and downs. If anything, you have to have those tough conversations, connect with friends and family, forgive and have compassion for self and others. Huge vulnerability is required as well as a piece of humble pie. I am more about myself and therefore I am learning more about my teaching practice, which in turn contributes to my research program. The goal is to find the goods internal to the practice. I am learning and think I found it. And much like curling, stay consistent.

A New Methodology

I took a hot moment to look for these photos. I looked through my photos, Facebook photos, then back to my photos again. I posted this image onto my Facebook page on February 20, 2020. I had this conversation right before the pandemic. Can you believe that? It’s been more than 4-years ago and this image and conversation had a huge impact on me. It’s almost like I just finished “my degree” in figuring out my research agenda and program. Does that sound pathetic or heroic? Doesn’t matter. I have arrived. It took immense change and unravelling.

As I blog on February 29, 2024, Leap Year, everything that has happened since that conversation I had four-years ago (and then some) led to this very moment. Much like the first image, that’s how life (and my research agenda) had been. Moments or pieces that did not seem to quite fit together. At the time, I was also too busy trying not be be myself. That’s another blog post (which has probably popped up here and there already in my blog, but I’m more awake to it today). I don’t want to discredit any of these individual moments and research/writing opportunities. They are all valid and in their own way valuable. It’s funny to hear my write that statement… “all valuable”… because I’ve been “so lost” with my work that I did not value my own dissertation. It’s silly to say that out loud, but I am more motivated than ever to return to that work and continue investigating my doctoral research at the university.

Wow. It feels so different when I don’t feel like I have to impress (or please anyone) but myself. I get that now. I had a conversation a couple of years ago about being “selfish” and I never understood what that actually meant in the context of academia until recently. I feel more calmer, more confident, and more certain with the direction I want to take. I guess this is where “boundaries” come into play. It’s super difficult to create boundaries, thus make decisions, if you do not know what you value, what’s important to you, and what direction you are heading in. Hmm… I’ve been finding a lot of solace lately with life and work events. I don’t mean to separate the two worlds. They are both interconnected. I will say, I’ve had some catalytic and transformative conversations lately and reached a “tipping point” to move forward and take action.

One of those conversations happened this week, which interrelates to the one I had 2-years ago and 4-years ago. It’s been on my mind for quite some time and I’ve been wanting to find some resolution or clarity to the matter. These glass beads were meant to represent my research program. I have all of these different and wonderful things that I’ve been working on and been interested in, but there was no apparent thread that seemed to tie them together. From time to time, I tried to piece the beads together. It’s like puzzle pieces. You can’t force pieces to fit together. Then I had a wonderful conversation with a new colleague and I was talking about my family, recent experiences, and “the perfect curling shot.” She said I should consider AUTOETHNOGRAPHY as a methodology for research. I was so drawn to this idea that I looked it up the next day and started doodling. The premise of this methodology aligns well with “the perfect curling shot” but also with everything else (separately).

Everything seemed to fall into place (see image below) and the “perfect curling shot” is a counterexample to everything else. It’s the north star, shall we say, and I found a connection with the rest of the beads (and my life) by creating a research question that ties it all together. I just made sense to me, all of a sudden. I’ve found some peace and feel a lot of joy and wonder. I did it. Although I’m not going to disclose my research question quite yet, I will learn more about this methodology and write about the “perfect curling shot.” I love the idea of learning and understanding more about culture through the lens of our own experiences. I can see a very fulsome research agenda and program and I am stoked to delve in. Some of this delving involves reading and writing everyday. I can do that!! #leapyear2024

Six Years

This anniversary is not one that I wish to celebrate, but February 27th is a day that I want to notice, remember, and savour as much as I can. Six years ago, my mom passed away. It was a choice that she made. She died of MAID (medical assistance in dying). I did not realize at the time but my mom was a MAVERICK or TRAIL BLAZER. The nurse said that about her before the “ritual” of dying was about to occur. The nurses were prepping her for her moment. We we waiting in “her room.” It was the same room that she was admitted to after we went to the emergency room on Friday, February 9th. I was there and that day was one of my biggest regrets. I wished I had stayed overnight with her at the emergency room. Everyone in my family wanted to leave and she insisted. After that day, I never wanted to do that again. Sadly, I did (sort of). The next day, I went to a conference/workshop at SFU downtown. I remember sitting in the auditorium listening to the speaker, then networking with folks from BC Education. My family insisted (again) that I should just go on with my day and that they would see mom at the hospital. On February 10th, my mom was admitted to the hospital and stayed on the 3rd floor at Burnaby General. I remember what the emergency doctor said, the paramedics said, and my mom next door neighbour said to me on February 9th… she has cancer of the liver. No one wants to hear this or even think about this over Family Day weekend, but my mom was admitted. I think she was resisting this very moment for years. OMG… my mom was sick for a very long time.

I remember the day that she died as if it happened just hours ago. I was so committed to write about my mom and the 20-days she spent in the hospital. A wonderful way to be inspired to honour my mom, but each time I took the pen to paper, I cried. I could not help myself and I tried for a few years. Each time, tears would dribble down my face. I could not do it. Since her passing, I’ve endured many changes and still try to learn the lessons she was trying to teach me during her last 20-days on earth. Now that I am writing this blog post in memory of her, I am realizing that I am ready to write about her. It’s almost perfect timing, much like my mom’s decision to die. During family weekend, she was not going to be seen by the doctor because it was the long weekend. She was just at the hospital to be taken care of and to manage her pain. She was anxious to leave. We tried to take care of her. I insisted staying overnight with her. Someone had to be with her. My family took shifts that weekend. During the week, my brother and sister had to work. My dad focused on strata council work??? Everything seemed off. If anything, I would be my mom’s advocate at the hospital (and I loved warming up my hands under her back).

Damn, I miss with woman. She was so strong. Monday, February 12th was family day. We made it through the weekend and my mom was not so restless. On Wednesday, February 14th (i.e., Valentine’s Day), my mom decided not to have any more needles. She had invisible veins (like I do) and she wanted the needles to stop. They always took a few tries and she just a hated it. With this decision, she was basically telling the hospital and oncologist that she did not care to find out where the cancer had started from, thus cancer of the liver versus liver cancer. Then on Friday, February 16th (Lunar New Year), our family met with the oncologist to learn about next steps. My mom had a choice between palliative care or MAID. My mom had “Stage 5” cancer. Is that possible? My family started to make plans about palliative care, but my mom was pretty certain what she wanted to do. She wanted to do MAID and she was researching this possibility for more than a year. She knew what she wanted and where she wanted to do it. At the time, the hospital would not perform MAID and she had to pass the cognitive test. She said, “fine,” send me home, but I’m not going to die in my home. We planned another location. It was a care facility just down the road.

For 10-days, my mom lived in her dining room on a special bed, and she clearly passed the MAID test. Ironically, during her time at home, something changed and the hospital said that they would perform MAID. I could not believe it. My mom asked me to go with her in the ambulance back to the hospital (another story to tell, re: number one). I remember driving with her. Talking with her. Taking care of her. I am flooded by lots of memories as I am writing this and believe that this is the beginning of the book. I also talked with a colleague the other day talking about my conversation with my aunty on my dad’s side of the family and she suggested that I should consider doing an autoethnography. YES. I Googled that methodology and it’s perfect. I can capture some of the memories I have of my mom, how that impacted my identity, and to learn more about my family and ethnic identity. I remember being in that room that I started this blog post with. My mom is a MAVERICK. She just new that the catheter was out of place (another story, re: JoLo). She asked me to ask the nurse to fix it. My mom just wanted things to be “right.” I did not appreciate her discretion, high expectations, and attention to detail. She died on the third floor of Burnaby General with grace, agency, and dignity. For that, I am so proud of my mom for her strength, clarity, and willpower. She paved a path for others to follow.

I love you, mom.

A Tipping Point

February 25, 2024 – A Critical Conversation

As much as I would like to say that I’ve celebrated the Lunar New Year with a mini-family reunion in Vancouver last weekend, but I got sick and spent my time isolating myself in a hotel room with hopes of feeling better to fly back on my return flight. Not the best way to spend my time or money, but I did have one critical conversation with one of my aunties that served as a tipping point to move forward with my research program investigating my heritage, family history, and ethnic identity. In doing so, how does this understanding impact my understandings and implementation of policies in BC education relating to anti-racism, decolonization, and curriculum.

I’ve just celebrated 5-years of service at the university. The last 5-years entailed many ups and downs, personally and professionally. In all of that, I had to learn more about myself. I never thought when I had left teaching over a decade ago, that I would be on a pedagogical journey that extended beyond life as a doctoral student and school trustee. It’s almost like I had to unravel in a way to find myself again. Now, I’m in a place where I want to learn more. My co-author and I will be returning to a recently submitted manuscript on our ethnic identity as second-generation Asian Canadian women growing up in northern BC and becoming BC educators to make revisions.

That writing experience opened a pandora’s box. There’s a part of me that is very interested in Chinese immigrants to BC and understanding how Chinese people are perceived in BC. After George Floyd’s death and the pandemic, Chinese people are racialized and marginalized in ways that I’ve never seen before. Even as “advanced” as we may believe that we are with racism in Canada, I have experienced lateral violence, micro-aggression, and hate that I have no words to rhyme or reason why it would happen. I learned in the last year that I’ve been living my life as a model minority and that people don’t get recognized for doing good deeds for others.

That said, I also struggled with the idea of being assimilated into Canadian culture (by my parents) through policy such that I have no language, no culture, and no understanding of what it means to be Cantonese. I was also positioned in my family as “number 3” of three children where I had always perceived my older sister as “number 1” and my twin brother as “number 1a.” Even though I felt this way for more than half a century, it was sadly confirmed by one of my aunties at this mini-reunion I missed most of last weekend. She said that she noticed this “mistreatment” and had once approached my dad about the issue when I was young. It did not go well.

What I know for sure is, this is a journey I need to pursue further. This conversation I had with my aunty was instrumental to understanding that this feeling within my family (and my identity) was not in my head. It was real. My deep desire to seek approval from my father was real and that need sadly transcended into everything else in my life which essentially meant abandoning my values and beliefs to seek the approval of others. This is not belonging. It’s taken me some time to realize that true belonging is to belong to oneself, to love oneself, and to accept oneself. I am now determined to learn more about my family as part of my research program