curling shot

Scared To Let Go

May 26, 2024 – Doing what it took to FIT IN


Starting this blog series of thinking about my childhood/adulthood, my ethnic identity, and the person who I have become, I am flooded by many memories I wish to unpack. I’m not going to make rules like… “blog everyday” or force myself into a way of being that is not authentic to me… but I will embark on a story that resonates with me the most, at the time. Today, what inspires me to write is about FEAR.

I don’t have a specific story, per se, but I have many stories that represent the same idea. The first narrative that comes to mind that resonates with me is about my kid and her experience in Grade 4 or 5 and making title pages. In her class, students were required to make title pages for their notebooks (for every subject area and every unit). The making of title pages were relentless and my kid could never get a 10/10.

My kid investigated the 10/10 wall of exemplars hypothesizing how to get 10/10 on one of her title pages. Was it bubble lettering? Was it colouring in circles? Was it using particular colours? Who knew? What she did know is, she never got it despite how hard she tried to achieve this illustrious 10/10. This perceived failure caused her much anxiety, confidence depletion, and doubt. My question is, what did she learn?

I often share this story about my kid and her learning experience with these title pages. Although the teacher made an explicit connection to the curriculum with these title pages, my kid did not understand what she needed to do to get a 10/10. Other students “got it” but she never did. She might have got one 10/10 but getting 10 was something that was mysterious and difficult to achieve. Why the need to comply?

For me, this story captured my attention for many reasons (and for many years). First, I remember my kid in Grade 3 (not so long before) where she questioned why the teacher insisted that she colour the sky blue. She was forced to finish the “turkey drawing” before she was allowed to the the work she wanted to do. In the end, she did neither art project. Honestly, I supported her in that decision. It made sense.

My next thought is, what happened? A couple of years later, my kid was obsessed about doing what other kids were doing. She lost her autonomy and her sense of self or agency to do what best represented her and her thinking. Learning became more about pleasing, achieving, and jumping the hoop to get the grade. I would often share this story to describe the importance of success criteria and formative feedback.

Sadly, it’s more than that. It’s about FITTING IN. This story about the title pages and those damn one-inch boarders was more than compliance and lack of clear success criteria, but more about doing what it takes to FIT IN. As Brené Brown would say, “fitting in” is the antithesis to “belonging.” Fitting in meant to “giving yourself away” or “betraying yourself” with hopes of “belonging to” something you are not aligned to.

This story weighs heavy on me and takes a full-circle. I cannot believe that this story is telling MY STORY. No wonder it resonates with me deeply. I also find it ironic that I chose the image from my collection of the Ukrainian nesting dolls. I used this image and metaphor for a TedTalk I gave in 2017 titled “ALIGNMENT.” The connection is clear and obvious to me. Fitting in has been an ongoing need and want for me.

I can’t do it anymore and honestly, I don’t get the success criteria to achieve them. I’m tired of giving myself away and betraying who I am. Over time, I lost who I was and now I am relearning it. I remember the extreme feelings of fear of “not getting it right” and getting reprimanded for “making a mistake.” I tried my best not to (or at least hide them) for purposes of fitting in, perceived acceptance, and being seen.


This story resonates with me as a child, adolescent, young adult, and adult. I remember driving into a planter with a rental vehicle a few years ago. I damaged the bumper and I was overwhelmed with fear and anxiety. I did not know what to say to the rental office. The entire drive I was going through scenarios in my mind and my heart was racing as if I was running a marathon. The anticipation was excruciating.

I had that aching feel-like feeling often throughout my lifetime and in many different circumstances (i.e., dropping glass during a science class during my first year of teaching, workplace interviews, and making an ICBC car claim). All of these examples do not seem on the surface to relate to my ethnicity or upbringing, but in many ways, it does. Don’t make any trouble. Don’t be a burden. Do not bite the hand that feeds you.

This fear factor (witnessed as unusual behaviour), is learned and deeply embedded in my psyche. It guides my decisions and ultimately, I become my own biggest suppressor so that the “true me” cannot be seen (or heard). As a result, I’m hiding. I’m pretending to be someone that I’m not. I am just too scared to show who I really am. Hence, the Ukrainian nesting dolls is an appropriate image for this blog post.

What I learned from the car accident with the rental car is, NOTHING HAPPENS. After driving the car back to the Vancouver Airport and parking the car, I went to the rental car desk and made the claim. I filled out some forms, they assessed the damaged. And they smiled and said that the bill would come by mail. That’s it. No judgement. No yelling. No shaming. That was a huge lesson for me (except for the $800 bill).

It’s hard for me to be seen… truly seen. As a child to adulthood, I have many layers, armour, or shields to protect me. I can let some of myself be seen, but it’s was most likely not 100% of who I was/am. Too worried to be judged, too worried to be hurt, or too worried to be disappointing anyone. There are undertones of being the youngest, being a girl, and being Chinese… all things (and more) I tried to hide or minimize.

One layer at a time is being opened and exposed. One nesting doll after the other, I am finally reaching the true me. The little doll sitting at the centre of all of these layers. Being exposed, hence sharing my stories and the desire to learn more about my history and ethnic identity as a Chinese-Canadian in BC. This pedagogical journey of mine that started well before the pandemic continues onto the next chapter.

Switch to Happy

May 1, 2024 – Hello to a New Month

On Monday, April 29th, I went to the Justin Timberlake – The Forget Yesterday World Tour concert in Vancouver with my sister. It was the BEST-SHOW-EVER. The creativity, innovation, and collaboration was astounding. And, this was the first show of the world tour. They practiced and rehearsed in Vancouver for the last month. I have no words. If that was the first show, it can only get better. I say that, but honestly, that show was close to perfection. The setlist for the show was outstanding. It was a beautiful combination between the new and old, as well as creative liberty on familiar favourites. I was dancing most of the time. I could not help myself. I also enjoyed the DJ Andrew Hypes. He got the rhythm started. From Stage A walking to Stage B then back to Stage A and the floating stage, the TFYWT was joyful and transformative.

Watching this concert was much like “the perfect curling shot.” I was reminded of an interview with Justin Timberlake years ago saying that people say that he makes it looks easy, but he says that its hard work and practice that makes it look easy. My sister and I saw Justin Timberlake 6-years ago. It was a thank you present from my brother after my mom passed away for all of the hard work and care we took to take care of my mom during her last days. Back then, the concert was a needed boost to the heart and spirit. We loved the concert then… and now. For me, it was very timely to see him again. I needed another boost, such that after experiencing the TFYWT and the love shared with us, and it being reciprocated, made me feel hopeful, joyful, and happy again. It’s been awhile since I felt this way and I can’t stop the feeling. LOL.

Well, what I am doing is, listening to his music. I feel that I can get my happy back again. I am also obsessed with my #OneWord2024 of HAPPY. It’s a shift from the one-words I’ve chose in past. This word is focused on the present (i.e., forget yesterday). I am also learning that I am using this words as a litmus or criteria to self-assess whether or not I am happy. Being happy becomes a principle I can follow to make decisions, listen to myself, and determine if I’m on the right track or not. By doing this, I can align to my integrity, be authentic, and engage in life wholeheartedly. This mindset or way of being might be a reflection of my age (even though I feel like I’m 27) or it might be me learning more about developing that “perfect curling shot” in my life. It takes hard work and practice… and a lot of intentionality and deliberate action.

The aim is not happiness, but rather be happy. Admittedly, this course of action is a huge shift in my mindset. You have no idea how HAPPY I am to be here… right now. I am smiling from the inside. This knowing helps with setting boundaries that don’t have to be harsh or hurtful to keep people away or to protect myself, but rather they are  kind and compassionate for myself and others. Switching to happy guides how I will live, love, be, and work. Just be happy. The goal, much like the “perfect curling shot” is to be consistent. Every step won’t be perfect every time, nor do I expect it to be. But I can strive to be consistent and hone this skill through practice and hard work. Over time, HAPPY will appear easy, when really my actions are intentional and deliberate. And BTW, my newest and most favourite JT song right now is SELFISH.

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.