The Heaviness of Heart Work on the Days After

This morning, I woke up crying.

It is Asian American Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and I am facilitating two discussions (one tonight and one on May 31) related to Asian Americans in educational and literacies spaces. Introducing more people to and centering the voices of Asian Americans in education is at the core of the work I do, based on the belief that when we know one another’s stories, experiences, and perspectives, it makes it harder for us to dehumanize one another. Usually, I use extensive social media networks to promote this work. But most of this month, I have been grieving, for the first part of the month, personal grief around mothering, and since then, particularly in the last 11 days, collective grief and renewed trauma based on my connections to multiple mass shootings.

I was just feeling a little more like myself yesterday, after spending over a week recovering from the shootings that occurred at the Tops Market in Buffalo, New York, and at Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church, just 20 miles from my home. So, I got on social media to tweet about today’s panel discussion.

And then I saw the news about the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.

A friend texted me that there was another school shooting, in Texas, and it looked bad.

It reminded me of the morning my brother texted me on the way to pick up my nephew from Sandy Hook school, nine and a half years ago and I was trying to piece information together. I knew we would not know the true total of those killed until the next day, maybe the next week. I knew that community would become just another place on a list of towns and cities known, first and foremost because a horribly deadly mass shooting had taken place there. And in Uvalde, like Sandy Hook, it would be particularly heartbreaking because it was children and educators killed.

My son was in 1st grade when the shootings happened at his cousin’s school. My daughter was not yet alive. In fact, because there are 9.25 years between them, she is in 1st grade now.

The Monday after the Sandy Hook shootings, I sent my son to an elementary school, one that, at the time, was open in the front and the back of the school. I was sad and I was afraid.

This morning, I woke up crying. I am sad and afraid. So little has changed.

This morning, I walked my daughter to an elementary school.

This morning, she ate Cheerios, with the heart shaped Cheerios interspersed with the regular round Os.

It is hat day, so she wore the raspberry beret I bought her in France and her Paris shirt, pink leggings, and a pink sweatshirt.

I asked if I could snap a picture of her before we left our house for our walk to school. I told her I wanted a picture of her all pink outfit for hat day.

But part of me wanted a picture of her, wanted to remember her breakfast, wanted to remember every detail, in case something happened.

Now, I am home.

In a few hours, I will drive across town to my son’s school where I will help celebrate the 8th & 12th graders.

A few hours after that, our family will see my daughter perform Arirang with her class and two other classes.

I have two papers to revise. Both of them are on centering humanity in the midst of dehumanizing contexts. One of them focuses on motherscholaring.

Tonight, we will have this beautiful panel of heart-centered Asian American educators. They are gifts as humans.

I do heart work.

All of it.

I live a heart-centered life.

And I’m broken. My heart is broken. I have pieced it together so many times. I have tried to fill the cracks with gold.

I have resisted in hard and soft ways, with authentic joy and sorrow, with words and actions.

But today, it is heavy, even in and with a community of grievers, today, the weight of it all is too much.

This morning, I woke up crying.

I cried after my daughter walked in the gates of her school.

I am sure I will cry many more times before the day is done, and on days to come, because that is part of my heart-centered life.

Today, the only resistance I can engage in is giving grace and holding space.

To myself and others. For myself and others.

Perhaps it’s the most important form of resistance there is.

Connecting through Grief

Picture of two grave markers and four bunches of flower

I would never wish grief upon anyone.

Having been well acquainted with grief for the great majority of my life (introduction at 7 losing my maternal grandmother who raised me, with a a crash course in acute grief at 16 after losing my mother suddenly, and being close to death and loss many times since), grief has been a (mostly unwanted) companion for a long time. It has brought with it deep pain, longing, emptiness, and loneliness.

I say “mostly” unwanted, not because grief is anything one wants, but because I have recently gained a slightly different perspective on my grief as a part of my identity that strengthens me and allows me a greater connection with humanity, a greater sense of empathy and love, and a profound perspective on life that I don’t think I could have developed in any other way.

It is perhaps not grief alone that has done this. In fact, it is certainly not grief “alone” because when, for many years, I bottled up my grief, to build success in spite of it, I felt completely alone, disconnected from myself, my communities, and those who truly sought to know who I was.

It is, in fact, collective grief, or perhaps connective grief, that has brought healing in the midst of so much loss.

When my mother died, more than 25 years ago, I do not remember a lot about the period just after her death, but I remember a few things very distinctly: 1) Many people who came to her viewing were people I didn’t know who were part of the Taiwanese American community who loved her deeply, regretted not having more time with her, and shared stories with my aunt and brother, that I couldn’t understand for many reasons;  2)her funeral service had over 400 attendees: people who had flown in from all over the country whom she hadn’t seen in years, people from her job, churches she had briefly or consistently attended, people who were close to my brother, families from my high school, especially other cross-country parents; 3) At her funeral, there was a picture by the gravesite memorial of me half-laughing or perhaps just smiling. My brother had made a joke about my mom and it made me smile. We got in a lot of trouble for that photograph as I wasn’t allowed a moment of lightness in the heaviest time of my life.

I share these things because I am reminded that community bonds sometimes are deeper than the people we see each day. I share them because it was important to me to see my mother as someone who was so deeply loved and respected, even if she did not feel that she was these things much of the time (I was the only one living at home with her at the time of her death, and so became her confidant and saw her struggles with feeling alone and disrespected). I share them because it reminds me that in those moments, I instinctively knew that there was a complexity of grief that held many emotions, before I was socialized to grieve by two societies (Taiwanese & American) that reminded me not to be public with my emotions, good or hard, because it might bring shame to my family, because it might be judged as weakness, because sometimes hard things happen and of course, we’re supposed to take a few days, then move on.

Of course, I’ve learned, after 27 years, that grief doesn’t work that way, that grief is one of the most powerful experiences one can go through, and that grief in community, while not lessening the intensity of the pain, can allow for us to move through it holding another’s hand, knowing that we are not profoundly alone in our experience.

It’s been a week since a shooting at the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, California which killed Dr. John Cheng and injured several other Taiwanese elders. This week has been, not unexpectedly, brought up a lot of grief, and it has resurfaced a lot of questions for me as to my own Taiwanese American identity. I have always felt on the fringe of the Taiwanese American community, as someone who did not regularly attend Taiwanese churches, community events, as someone who speaks only basic Mandarin and remembers just a few childhood family words and phrases in Taiwanese Hokkien.

Yet, strangely (or perhaps not), this week has made me understand that I am more Taiwanese American than I ever knew. As I’ve been soaking in so much information, about the context of the church, the complicated politics of Taiwanese history, many of which are frozen in time for my mother’s generation, but which continue to evolve in Taiwan itself, as I’ve been piecing together many parts of my own family’s landscape within a broader Taiwanese context, I have been able to embrace the ways in which I am and can be proud of being Taiwanese American, with all of the complexities of that identity.

It is certainly not grief alone, or even, I realize in the writing of this, is it collective grief, in and of itself, that has done this for me. It is the generosity of people who know more than me, who in their grief are processing aloud, are sharing their knowledge, who are seeking community on social media. What has finally, after many years, brought me peace about my identity as Taiwanese American is so similar to what has brought me peace around the loss of my mother, finding my place, finding her, through the stories of others, finding new connections that I thought weren’t possible.

Connection is there, in grief, when we are open to it, when we are ready for it.

We are not alone.

Legacies and Layers of Love

Photo of a card with a vase of flowers and a polaroid picture of two Asian American women standing in front of a door

The gifts of femtoring

I am still carrying a lot.

It’s been one of the hardest Mays on record (which is saying something since I didn’t even run a half marathon or birth a child this May). For the last two weeks, I’ve woken up on Monday & Tuesday convinced that it’s the start of a weekend and disappointed that, in fact, I’m only at the start of a full work day. We’re only a little more than halfway through this seemingly endless month.

In spite of this, there have been beautiful bright spots, and today, I want to take a moment to give thanks, and to remind myself that there are legacies beyond loss. There are ways to transform what we didn’t have, but most needed, into contributions to others.

This semester has been a particularly affirming femtoring (mentoring) season.

Dear friend and colleague, Erika, who I have known and walked alongside since I was a Graduate Student Instructor and she was an undergraduate, was offered multiple tenure track positions, a dream of hers that we’ve been working towards collectively for the last 3 years. She has worked so hard to write, publish, think through her important work, develop her teaching while raising her little boy and being a devoted mother, wife, and daughter.

Dear Grace, pictured above, completed her Masters thesis for which I was a lead adviser, alongside an incredible team of women who all deeply love her. In the card pictured above, she called our meeting a turning point. We fought for her to be able to complete a thesis project; we navigated multiple challenges in finding a third member (and a committee chair when I left the program for a year) of her thesis committee; we held space for her during a deep personal loss. She graduated yesterday having been awarded Outstanding Graduate Student in Research, Scholarly & Creative Activities from the university and Outstanding thesis by our college. In a few days, she will cross a good part of the country to start her academic journey towards her PhD. I couldn’t be prouder of her.

Finally, in my EDSE 457 course, sweet and brilliant Joey wrote me a beautiful thank you card that she handed to me at our last session. What a gift to hold space for this lovely future educator in office hours, to help her see herself, and to make space for her family’s Vietnamese refugee histories and stories of resilience within curriculum, stories that she didn’t have access to in her own history courses. In her thank you card at the end of the semester, she said, “As an Asian American woman, I feel an indescribable sense of pride in seeing you be so successful in what you do and claiming space in such an important role at a university.” More importantly, she thanked me for giving her space to feel all the emotions, to be seen and understood.

These women are my heart. They are my community and my reminders that layers and legacies of love are healing.

I am far from perfect. I hold many emotions in and let many more out. I am carrying a lot.

But transforming legacies of loss and isolation, in whatever degree I can, into legacies of love and contribution, are my most powerful form of resistance.

We continue to move forward in community and solidarity.

Legacies and Layers of Loss

Black and white photo of two Asian women, the younger one with many flower leis around her neck, the older one in a white qipao dress

My mother and grandmother at the airport before my mother came to the United States from Taiwan

I have thousands of pictures of my mother’s life in Taiwan, and the beginning of her life in the United States.

But there are only a few faces that I recognizes.

There are only a few places that (I think) I can identify.

I cannot read the writing, my mother’s handwriting in Chinese characters, that were left behind as clues for me when she left this earth 27 years ago, less than 10 years after her mother.

My mother died too young, in an accident.

But now, her generation is getting older.

I am grasping at family, family that my mother, after her divorce from my father, struggled to keep up with. I do not know why. Maybe it was because of shame, divorce being rare in her generation. Maybe it was because there was so much to do, as a single mother, trying to support two children with ten years between them, who were so different, including a little girl who had all the spunk and life that my mother also had as a child, before her life here taught her that she was invisible, passed over too many times for promotions, seen as a hard worker, but never a leader. Maybe it was because she was ashamed of me, the most “American,” by her choice and mine, the least connected to anyone else in her family.

After my grandmother died when I was 7, my mother and aunt kept speaking Taiwanese and Mandarin to one another, but I tuned it out. I didn’t need it to communicate. My mother wasn’t a fan of driving and Chinese school was too far away and cost money we didn’t have. I just wanted to be like the popular kids at my school (which I never was) and that meant because as assimilated as possible into white American culture. I didn’t want to be different. I wanted to belong. So, I turned my back on my identity. It wasn’t hard to do.  I didn’t understand the difference between Mandarin and Taiwanese. I didn’t understand what it meant to be Taiwanese American, to call myself Taiwanese American, and not Chinese American. There was so much I didn’t understand.

It has been challenging trying to reclaim that understanding, in the aftermath of loss. On top of a complicated grief process, having lost my mother so suddenly at such a pivotal time in my life, understanding what it means for me to claim being Taiwanese American is also complicated. How can I be Taiwanese American when I have never been to Taiwan (and don’t know how I would find family that is left there if I went and don’t know who or how would even remember my mother, my aunt and my grandmother), don’t speak Taiwanese (and don’t speak great Mandarin, having only put myself to serious study of it in the last few years), and have had (until late, and even now, mostly through friends and Twitter) a very limited knowledge of Taiwanese history and the Taiwanese diaspora?

The experiences I’ve had with the Taiwanese American community are also incredibly complicated. I feel like a complete imposter. No one has ever been unkind to me, but I feel an invisible distance that comes when you’ve lost your language, lost your family connection to an ancestral “homeland” that also has a complicated colonial past, lost your knowledge of your heritage (immediate and historical).

Despite these complications, there is a deep kinship that remains with the Taiwanese American community, particularly the elders who are near my mother’s age and second/ third generation Taiwanese Americans who are trying to navigate the values and beliefs our parents had and our own which are profoundly Taiwanese American. There’s a lot of diversity in the diaspora as in any diaspora, but I am beginning to seek, and find, community, in embodied ways that go beyond knowledge, but are felt deeply in my heart.

Yesterday, May 15th, there was a shooting at a Taiwanese Presbyterian Church that is a sister church to the church I belong to. It was politically motivated and evidence of increasingly violent tension between advocates of the current Chinese government (and its “One China” policy) and advocates for Taiwanese independence. This is complicated and something that most Americans have a very underdeveloped understanding of. It is particularly complicated for Asian Americans in the United States, for Taiwanese Americans and for Chinese Americans. My own understandings of this (while likely more developed than many people’s) could take up a very long blog post, but I am too tired today to do this education.

What I want to focus on is the fact that the ripple effects of this shooting in community.

When I heard the news about a shooting at a Presbyterian church in Orange County, I knew it had to be a sister church of ours. When I heard it was a Taiwanese Presbyterian church, I knew that someone I was closely connected with would have relationship to the victims, because the Taiwanese American community is small. The man killed was my 2nd cousin’s classmate’s eldest son. They are loose connections, but when you are part of a community that has had to fight for its existence to be recognized, it feels deeply personal.

The day before the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church (ITPC) shooting, there was a shooting at Tops supermarket in Buffalo, New York. I mention this because the Black community in Buffalo is also highly interconnected. The victims of the shooting were lost to their families and to their community.

Every time I hear about a mass shooting, it reminds me of Sandy Hook, a community where my brother and nephew still live. A tiny town where my nephew still remembers the day, 9 years and 5 months ago, when there was a mass shooting at his school. I still think often about how if my nephew’s birthday and my son’s birthday (they are only 3 months apart) were switched, my nephew would have been in 1st grade that day.

It reminds me of Mother Emanuel AME church, where my own pastor lost her best friend to a racist hate crime fueled by white supremacy, a crime that echoed through the shooting in Buffalo this weekend and then again in Laguna Woods for a different reason, but with a similar refrain.

When I heard the news about ITPC, I would not even call my Pastor because I know about these ripples.

I am tired.

This does not feel like a cohesive and coherent blog post with a beginning and an end that make sense. But I have not felt like a cohesive and coherent person much of late. I am carrying too much and making space for many emotions that do not neatly fit into a box.

I guess that’s the point. There are layers of loss, legacies of loss, for us as individuals and for all of us collectively.

Each loss has immediate impact, seen and unseen, but also carries with it a legacy that is often so much deeper.

That legacy of loss runs deep for so many of us, stealing our time, our energy, our focus, our ability to simply be and breathe freely, to walk on the street, to go to school, to the store, to our places of worship, to concerts, to any place, without living in fear, to speak our hearts and minds without fear that we will be harmed.

It is exhausting.

I am so tired.

I am tired of feeling loss. I am tired of feeling lost.

I know that there is much work to do. Advocacy and education, at the forefront of them. I know I will raise my voice in time.

But today, there is grief. There are many words but also profound silence.

And yet, always, there remains love and/in community.

Legacies that cannot be stolen no matter how much we grieve.

And today we grieve.

Coming Home, Finding Community : My Spring 2022 EDSE 457 Final Reflection Photo Essay

At the end of each teaching semester, I have made it a practice to complete a final reflection on the semester. This is the final assignment in the literacies in secondary schools courses I teach. This semester, instead of a traditional 3-5 pp. reflection, I asked students to do a photo-essay after hearing about this adaptation from my dear friend and colleague, Dr. Heather Macias. So, I’m going to try to limit myself to 5 photos w/captions and 3-4 sentence connections/ reflections, but how do you capture so much in so little space, in so few words…? I guess I’ll try my best here.

The author (an Asian American woman) wearing a Black KN95 mask standing in front of her office door pointing at it

There’s no place like…campus?

We began this semester for the first 3 weeks on Zoom, and coming back to my office & in-person instruction felt like opening a time capsule. So much was familiar, but I had changed profoundly. One of our early course readings notes, “lived experience is a pathway to subjectivity that can help to integrate identity phenomena in social, historical, and cultural activities” (Esteban-Guitart & Moll, 2014, p.34). My own lived experiences had changed so much since the last time I taught in person nearly two years before. Just as we can come to the same written text with different lived experiences and take different meaning from that text, I made different meaning from this space and in-person interactions than I had prior to March 2020.

White board with goals written on them

Where did we want to go? What were our objectives?

This semester, although the sequence of topics was roughly similar to past courses, my objectives felt very different. As I have journeyed as an educator, I have realized that it is critical to center our own humanity, cultural and linguistic funds of knowledge (Moll et al., 1992) and funds of identity (Esteban-Guitart & Moll, 2014), and the ways in which literacies can better help us read the world and the word (Freire & Macedo, 2005). For our first assignment, the funds of knowledge presentations, I created two (well 3) models, one which was content-specific (focused on 5-slide memoirs & family recipes, ratios & proportions) and one which shared what being “well acquainted with grief” brought to my teaching. This opened up so much space for vulnerability in our classroom communities & reminded me that embracing even the most challenging parts of my identities and experiences opens up space for others to fully see their experiences and feel a sense of belonging. It is not only okay to be fully human, but asset-based views of humanity can allow for the development of a profound sense of community.

Picture of a wall in an art classroom in France. On the wall is taped vocabulary and pictures.

On partage les pratiques de développement de sens partout dans le monde (We share the practices of sense-making throughout the world)

Over Spring Break, I visited a middle school in France. In the art classroom, I saw many of the practices I teach including this vocabulary word wall, and modeling of visual thinking skills and problem solving. Later in the semester, I gave my 30-minute lecture SDAIE lecture in French. Hearing the sense of empathy that many of you developed was powerful, but perhaps more powerful was the brilliant testimonies of your colleagues who were former emergent bilingual students themselves about the importance of scaffolding strategies, and their contributions of their experiences to each of us. We truly co-constructed meaning, supporting one another in developing skills and new perspectives.

5 people in masks gathered around a table

We engaged in strategies, but most importantly we engaged with one another

Part of the best thing about being together in person is the opportunity to actually engage in the strategies you’re learning about. It is always a joy for me to see the different ways you engage with, think through, and even critique the literacy scaffolding strategies that are a major part of the course. This semester, I particularly appreciated the ways that so many of you highlighted opportunities for interaction as key to supporting your individual learning. Yes, strategies are important, but communication, collaboration and community are equally important to our growth and development.

Individuals standing in a semi-circle connected by intertwined yarn

What do we take with us? What are we leaving behind?

I end every semester with the web of learning. I love the symbolism of the web, a physical representation of the ways we have built connections over this semester, and I also appreciate that when community comes to an end in some ways, when we cut these ties and leave a place physically, we are not the same as when we arrived. While we may not all be together physically in the same place again, we take a part of the experiences of this semester with us. Each of you has changed me, and collectively our community has helped me grow. It is a privilege to have walked alongside you this semester, to have guided your learning in some ways and to have learned from you in others. Thank you for the gift of bringing yourself into this community this semester. I hope we’ll always stay connected.

Works Cited

Esteban-Guitart, M. & Moll, L. C. (2014). Funds of Identity: A new concept based on the Funds of Knowledge approach. Culture & Psychology, 20(1), 31–48.

Freire, P., & Macedo, D. (2005). Literacy: Reading the word and the world. Routledge.

Moll, L. C., Amanti, C., Neff, D., & Gonzalez, N. (1992). Funds of knowledge for teaching: Using a qualitative approach to connect homes and classrooms. Theory Into Practice, 31(2), 133-141.

What is the Cost of Pushing Through?

It’s my little girl’s 7th birthday.

She is amazing. She is light and laughter, love and joy. She is silly and kind, self-expressed and brilliant. She is a gift.

7 years ago, when she came into this world, I was crying. In those moments of birthing her, I felt perhaps most acutely the loss of my own mother. My mother was the one person I needed most in that moment. I wanted her to be by my side, to be one of the first people to welcome my girl into the world, like she had been one of the first people to welcome me into the world so many years before.

I wanted her to be the one to be by my side like she had been in so many of the hardest moments of my life, until one day, she wasn’t there at all.

My mother was omnipresent, then she was gone.

7 years ago, my mother was omnipresent, and she was gone.

Last night, I went to sleep crying.

On Mother’s Day.

Because sometimes when you make room for all the feelings, they show up, in expected and unexpected ways.

This morning I woke up crying.

On my little girl’s birthday.

Because sometimes when you make room for all the feelings, they show up, at expected and unexpected times.

I am a master at leaning into the feelings then pulling back when I must, pushing through when I must.

It’s her day, I thought yesterday, of my mother.

It’s her day, I thought this morning, of my daughter.

They are omnipresent, and sometimes I feel gone.

In waves of grief that consume me even though on the outside, I continue to show up.

For others.

Because I don’t know what it means or how to find a way to show up for myself, in these moments.

I am finding my way back to shore. I am swimming even though the rip tides always threaten to pull me under.

I am so tired of the struggle.

I am so tired of being so alone in this ocean.

People who see me today likely will not know.

I am likely only to share this with far away friends who follow through the lengths of the internet, instead of those who might touch me and watch the carefully crafted sand sculpture that I put up crumble, crumple, into a pile and disappear.

Omnipresent and gone.


So another reminder to us all that we never know what those next to us are carrying, and that some of us are carrying so much, so much invisible weight that we have been carrying for so long, that we do not want to share, for fear it would crush the delicate bonds we have formed.

May we find a way to ourselves and to a community who can hold us when we cannot push through any longer.

It’s Complicated

Photo of a card with the words "you are my shero" on the front

It’s Mother’s Day.

It’s my 27th Mother’s Day without my mother.

It’s my 17th Mother’s Day as a mother, my 16th as a biological mother.

7 years ago on this day, I was on the eve of having my youngest child.

Today, there is much joy.

And I am on the edge of tears.

It’s complicated.

Life is complicated.

Motherhood is complicated.

Mothering is complicated.

Relationships with our mothers and our children can be complicated.

There can much joy alongside many tears.

Today, I’m okay, but there may be moments where I’m not, and that’s okay too.

I’m working on making space for it all.

It’s Mother’s Day.

For almost 2/3rd of my life, it has been complicated.

I am grateful for the journey as it is.

And I wish so many things had been different.

I’m working on making space for it all.

(Happy) Mother’s Day.


Photograph of a little girl in a red dress with a white hat with red ribbon

Image by Hai Nguyen from Pixabay

Sometimes there is not a right or wrong answer.

Sometimes every choice you make has consequences, good or bad, for people you deeply care about, yourself included.

And that is hard.

Sometimes important journeys come to an end to make room for new journeys to begin.

Sometimes those journeys are filled with people you adore, that are a part of your heart. And as you reflect on the moments spent with them, you wonder whether there’s any sense in taking a new path.

There is sense in it.

And there would be sense in continuing down the path you know.

There is not a right or wrong answer.

Sometimes, there’s not even a best answer.

There are just choices to be made.

But when you are someone who never intends to do wrong, it is hard to not have a black and white answer. It is hard when life becomes more complex than good and bad, right and wrong. It is hard when you know that some people will be disappointed or hurt or upset no matter what you choose, even though also, there will be those that will be joyful and have peace in that same choice.

It is hard when you are just learning that you too deserve joy and peace, and then different parts of you see different paths to joy and peace.

It is then that you realize that there is no right or wrong, even for yourself.

I am not good with transitions, at least not in my head.

Yet, it seems I have been constantly in transition for 2/3 of my life.

And I am here. I have survived these transitions. I am thriving in some parts of my life, even with these transitions.

Sometimes you realize that transitions themselves bring emotions, and that these emotions are not right or wrong, good or bad. They just are. And they are who I am.

I am learning that there is sometimes not a right or wrong answer.

I am learning that some days our emotions will not wait patiently for our schedules to have time for them.

And that is not right or wrong either.

It is human.

They are who I am.

I am who I am.

Fully human, fully imperfect, trying my best to honor myself, my community & those I love most.

Full & Empty

Picture of a gas tank meter at empty

I have been on a very long journey of accepting my humanity and giving myself grace when I make mistakes.

It is not easy.

In the past week, I’ve been careless with my words twice and (albeit unintentionally) hurt two people who I think the world of.

In both cases, I was too tired to choose the best words to convey my actual feelings, and ended up saying nearly the opposite of what I meant.

In both cases, the people I hurt were gracious and generous with me, giving me an opportunity to take responsibility, right the wrong as best I could, and forgiving me in love.

I consider myself lucky in this, that their call-ins were quick, allowing me to respond and express what I meant and how sorry I was.

I know impact and intent are not the same thing. I know that responsibility and restoration are possible.

I am grateful for grace.

I also am trying to (without self-flagellation) learn from these situations.

Here’s what I’ve learned today:

  1. I am doing too much. It makes me tired and rushed, and that leads to carelessness with words. Words are important. They can damage relationships and hurt people. So when I am tired and rushed, it is better, sometimes, to be silent, or to carefully reread when I am fresher, because my words deserve my time, as do the people I’m in community with.
  2. I still carry deep trauma of times I was not allowed to explain myself, when someone I cared about did not believe me when I apologized. Or of times that I said something hurtful and couldn’t repair the damage done. Because of this, making these types of mistakes will ALWAYS bring some level of remembrance. It is deep and hard, but my mistakes don’t have to define me, and they actually don’t to most people.
  3. I can grow and learn to forgive myself, particularly when I know I have done what I can to repair the situation. I can also do better and pause when I see this happening more than once in a short period of time.

I am learning that I have a responsibility to speak with care because people are listening. That is a lot but it is also a privilege, one that I must remember to use judiciously and with my full presence.