Broken Teeth, Broken Hearts & Healing: MotherScholaring & Holding Joy

Yesterday was a long day to end a week of unlearning.

When we commit to honoring our humanity and embracing joy and healing, I suppose it’s to be expected that our humanity will show up in full-force. I mean, honestly, our humanity is always showing up, but I guess I’m more attuned to it now that I’m not shushing it or judging it and trying to instead, acknowledge and nurture myself.

So this week, plenty of mistakes were made in all the areas that tend to activate my self-judgment the most: finances, mothering, and time. I also did things that were hard but necessary, offering public comment at a commission on teacher credentialing meeting, admitting to myself that not everything was going to get done, and holding my little girl’s hand while she went through an emergency dental procedure.

This last event leads me to yesterday afternoon. I had just finished my last call for work and was looking at a paper revision while waiting for my nail salon date with my dear friend, Anna. My phone rang and the name of my daughter’s school office came up. My daughter has had many a share of accidents in her young life. We generally get 1-2 calls a month about her hitting her head on something and have gotten used to concussion protocol. So when I saw the office number, I was concerned but not alarmed.

When I answered the call, I realized that this accident was more serious. She had tripped on the blacktop and hit her front teeth. There was a lot of bleeding and crying. I rushed out the door and ran down to the school (which is fortunately a 10-minute walk; 7-minute jog) from the house and found my little one in pain and in need of serious dental intervention.

After dealing with the frustration of my phone refusing to connect to the internet to find her dentist’s number which I somehow didn’t have programmed into my phone (or maybe I do, but I didn’t look there in the moment), my husband arrived, found the number, called the office and we were on our way.

My youngest daughter is one of my greatest sources of joy. She brings light, energy, and joy into every space she occupies. She is bold, hilarious, and amazingly self-expressed. She is also kind, caring, and incredibly loving towards those around her. My little one is the one who has always called for me to be home more, to make time for her, to take care of myself. She is goals for me in so many ways and she holds me to high standards as a mother.

Because of all these things, as I was walk-running to her, the inevitable heartache and self-questioning began. Yes, I was there for her in this moment, but what if this accident had happened next week or last week (when I’m traveling)? What if her accident had been more serious? (This is a huge fear of mine because I have extreme trauma from accidents.) What if she didn’t really know how much I loved her?

These are hard questions that I struggle with a lot. Because of my commitment to my professional self, I have missed out on major events for my kiddos, both good and bad, and it doesn’t ever get easier. Even when I’m ACTUALLY there (like yesterday), I still have guilt triggered about the moments when I’m not there. My children have an incredibly competent and loving father in my husband, but I am still often left with not feeling like I’m the best mom they could have.

Fortunately, the immediate fix for my little girl was quick (although not covered by insurance) with follow up in a few weeks to give her teeth time to heal from the trauma (hopefully) and re-root in their place. Depending on how they’re doing in a few weeks, she’ll have additional procedures, and they’ll reconstruct cosmetically a part of her chipped tooth, but eventually everything will be fine. After sleep, she’s feeling better although still adjusting to a tooth splint and some very sore gums.

I’ve realized, however, that the tensions around my MotherScholar life aren’t going to go away (at least not for a while without more explicit unlearning).

Still, I am lucky to take my cues from my little one who slept it off, cuddled with me this morning, and is happily using baby medicine syringes to feed herself mango smoothie this morning. We’re going to go to the library later to check out graphic novels, after my make-up nail salon date this morning. I’m grateful to take my cues from my son who is spending his morning playing video games before his last concert with his high school orchestra. I’m even (more begrudgingly) taking cues from my dog who is always resting, eating, and self-soothing.

This is, I suppose, my full humanity. I continue to work to embrace it. It is not easy, but it is joyful and authentic, and if anything, I know how to do hard things.

Mothering Moments

My son standing at a green chalkboard with a black face mask, holding a piece of chalk

February is an emotional month.

This February, particularly, it has been a metaphorical roller coaster, because of an actual roller coaster (model that my son and his physics group had to design for his physics class) and because, well my son turns 18 today.

I birthed an adult.

This morning, I shed some tears when I thought about this morning 18 years ago, waking up with light contractions. I would go to a local Indian restaurant with my sister in law for lunch, and she would urge me to eat as much as I could since this was likely to be my last meal before the baby came. We were stuck in traffic on the way to the hospital where they were not sure they should admit me because I wasn’t “that far along,” but did because I lived 30 minutes away, “just in case.” Less than 2-hours later, when they came to check on me, my son was imminently on his way. They rushed to call my OB/GYN who had been finishing up a leisurely dinner, sure that I wouldn’t deliver any time soon. He arrived just as I was pushing, in time to cut the umbilical cord and hand me a little boy that was half of me genetically, but held my whole heart.

I can’t fully describe how much I cherish my son. His early years were some of the very hardest of my life, when I was struggling with severe health issues that nearly killed me while also completing a doctorate and going on the job market. He was with me during the most exhausting parts of the tenure process, and sacrificed a lot throughout his K-12 schooling, switching elementary schools 4 times (because of moves and fit) and still never feeling like he quite belonged, even when he found stability in his 7-12 grade secondary school. While he considers himself pretty lucky to have had the life and family he has, things haven’t always been easy. There have been moments where he’s felt lost, including many where he’s felt alone and questioned his decisions, wondering if he’ll ever find his people outside his family.

This hurts my heart because he still holds so much of it.

Today, he turns 18.

We are waiting on college admissions decisions and anticipating the many transitions adulthood will bring.

He is irritated about the many, intense projects in his physics class, one which culminates today, only to shift focus to another due in 4 weeks.

I am irritated because sometimes I can feel his irritation, but I can’t force him to talk about it, and so I can’t help him through it.

We are exhausted from late nights and uncertainty, which neither of us likes, from things we can’t control and things we perhaps should have done better.

We are human.

In the journey of the last 18 years, perhaps no one has helped me to grow in my own humanity, humility and imperfections as much as my son. Few people have shown me as much unconditional love, grace and understanding as he has. He reminds me to care for myself and that I’m doing a good job as much as I remind him of the same.

I love my son with my whole heart.

What a gift to be his mother.

What a gift to journey together.

What a gift to receive his love and grace.

I hope the next 18 years bring all the joy and belonging that he so richly deserves, beyond that which he has in our family, as he moves out into a wider world, and that we continue to journey through those years together.

Legacies of love

Photograph from the bottom of a canyon looking up with a tall tree in the center

29 years ago, my mother died unexpectedly in a car accident.

A year ago, I was interviewing for a job that would be a significant turning point in my academic career and bring enormous change to my personal life.

Although the moments where I can recollect my mother’s physical touch and even her voice become scarcer and scarcer over time, my proximity to her and her guidance to me is as strong now as it has ever been.

There have been so many benchmarks that I wish my mother could have been physically present for:

  • My high school, undergraduate, and doctoral graduation ceremonies
  • My marriage
  • The birth of each of my children
  • The start of each of my professional careers (middle school & university teaching) and positions along with the moves that accompanied several of them

Yet, as I reflect, I know that my mother has always been with me in these moments, that I have been even more aware of her presence through her absence, that she has been guiding me through the choices I’ve made (including the many mistakes along the way). Through her loss, I feel the depth of her love; I’ve come to understand the strength in her sacrifices; and I’ve arrived at a place where I feel that my healing is a healing that spans generations and brings the best of her into the lives of my children, even though they will never meet in person.

Somehow, although to my knowledge, my mother never set foot in Seattle, I feel closer to her when I am on Coast Salish lands. Perhaps it is because of the deep relationships that local indigenous tribal communities have with both the lands and their ancestors. Or perhaps it is because I somehow feel she guided me to this part of my journey, reconciling with a place that caused a rift between us before she passed. Perhaps it is because I am healing and choosing what to bring through the present transition to this new place.

This week, through work with my therapist, I realized that I’ve been holding on to guilt, particularly in relation to my mom — survivor guilt, mainly, but, in many ways also, guilt for many privileges that feel undeserved and guilt for never being able to give back to her when she gave so much for me to be where I am today.

It is a process in letting that guilt go, in embracing that what she would have wanted was for me to live my best life, and in fact, that this was, in her heart, much of what drove her. I understand this, as I feel these same emotions towards my own children.

For perhaps all of these reasons, unlike many years in the past, today, I feel a certain peace, or, at the least, a movement towards peace. It is a peace punctuated with sadness and loss, but overwhelmingly filled with love and gratitude.

That is my mother’s legacy, not one of loss, but one of deep love that I’ve tried in all ways to pay forward to those in my life.

I will never not acutely miss my mother or wish she were here with me physically. But today, I feel her near me, more than ever, reminding me that I am stronger than I think, than the world might think I am, that I carry wisdom of generations, and that I will weather the seasons and transitions ahead.

She is in my heart, and the legacies of love she (and her mother) have passed down to me are as alive today as they have ever been.

Family, Grace, and Thanks

Today, my mother would have been 85 years old.

She is eternally 56, but I often think, and always on Thanksgiving, particularly when it falls on her birthday, about how my life would be different if she were still here, how we would celebrate her, how we would celebrate with her.

I feel (more) acutely her loss, and the longing for 28 years of memories that were not to be.

This is the first time in quite awhile that I’ve celebrated Thanksgiving with my mother’s side (my side) of my family, as I’m with my cousin (my mother’s sister’s daughter) celebrating this year. We’ve had a beautiful and joyful time of laughter and exploration this week with our two families. I’m so grateful.

For a long time, because I was hurting and because I was also the youngest in my family of origin, it had never been my task to keep connected with the family. I didn’t know how to reach out or who to reach out to. I missed out on connecting with my mom’s side of my family, which was, in effect, the only side of my family I had ever known.

These were hard times where I felt incredibly alone. There were periods when I didn’t feel like I had any family that truly knew and loved me. They were there, I just couldn’t feel it.

These feelings have taught me incredible empathy, and an understanding when things happen in my own life and people I love need to distance themselves from me, or when I need to distance myself from them. Sometimes this is just something that happens. It is hard, but sometimes it is what it is. I have learned to trust that when the time is right, if the relationship is meant to be (repaired), it will be.

It has been, in some ways, a very hard week, at the end of a very hard month. And it has also been an incredibly joyful week as I reprioritize parts of my life, and I work hard…at rest.

I am grateful for the generosity of grace and space, of people who are able to make space for me and give me grace in my imperfections and in the spaces we may never agree, for the people who hold on to love for me anyways. I am grateful for the ability to be fully human and to write from a place of that humanity. I am grateful to make memories with my family in the midst of times of grief and loss on so many levels in so many places. I am grateful that we can hold hard things alongside beautiful things.

I know that many people, many who are grieved on many levels, struggle with this holiday season, particularly with a holiday that has a tainted historical origin and that is so connected with family. I am holding space for all those suffering, near and far, today.

It is both this particular day (and holiday) and every day that I am also so incredibly grateful, for the life I am blessed to have, the fullness and light, and the loneliness and darkness.

I am coming into myself and the presence of all the things. I am grateful in the midst of it, even when things are hard, and especially when they are beautiful.

Thank you for being here with me.


Me holding a sign that says "Go _____. Our number one runner" to cheer for my daughter's race Photograph of two grave markers with 4 bouquets of flowers in front of them

May is a beautiful month for me.

May is also a hard month for me.

This year, as it has been for the last eight years, my daughter’s birthday and Mothers Day are within the same week, with the end of the academic year the following week. I am tired. I often wonder if there will be another Mothers Day that does not feel exhausting, as my heart and mind are divided between wanting to celebrate my daughter and the extraordinary gift of her life, deeply missing my mother, particularly as I get closer and closer to the age she was when she died, and the bustle of the end of an academic year.

May is a time of internal and external conflict. Outsourcing birthday parties, while easier, is pricey, and seems to add on to my perpetual discourse of inadequate mothering, even in this busy professional time, full of events and celebrations, for students, staff, and faculty in my college. This year, as department chair, it is particularly busy, as there is more to support and coordinate with less of the heart work and interaction with students that brings so much light to my academic work. This year, I’m also in the midst of final preparations for a grant-funded conference that is the work of my heart, and while I am confident everything will work out, it is a stressful time in terms of coordination according to the timeline that works best for my head and heart. And our college graduation coincides with two awards ceremonies for my son (school-sponsored and countywide) which I will have to miss as a member of the platform party.

In a few hours, my daughter will celebrate her birthday with my husband’s family, our family, and my sister. It will be a beautiful time, and a hard one. It makes me remember how different our lives are. It makes me remember whole families and how mine still perpetually feels broken, even as I try to repair it in this generation. I am so very tired. And I am holding a lot of sadness. I am also holding so much joy in her having this time with her aunties and uncles and cousins and abuelos, swimming and playing, in her full joy.

In these last several years, I have been working on making space where there is none, and holding space for all of the complexities of life, particularly as someone who loves deeply and whole-heartedly.  I have been working on giving myself the grace I so freely give to others. I have been working on being with what is, while working towards what is better.

It is beautiful work, and it is hard.

I hope that if you’re reading this, you will also hold space for me today, for others who are balancing grief, joy, and the myriad other emotions that may come during this time of year. I also hope you’re holding space for yourself. I hope that you will feel the warm embrace of love surrounding you, that you will have moments where you’re able to laugh freely and cry loudly, as you want and need to. I hope you will hold on to better when the moment feels not good enough, and that you will find, make, and take space for yourself in the midst of all you are doing and all that you are for others.

I am, you are, we are beautiful, in this midst of these hard times.

Chosen Family

Photograph of a group of people

I have been thinking a lot about chosen family.

Today, I saw dear friends who we co-owned a triplex with before we moved to Southern California. The time when we all lived together (they lived on the top floor and we lived on the bottom floor of a shared larger home and then we had a third unit on our property which we rented out) was a time of much change and growth and struggle. It was the house where we established a family after many years in which I felt alone. It was the home we lived in after we got married. It was the home my older daughters first visited with us and to which I brought my son home. It was the home where our dog became part of our family.

It was also the home where I felt the lowest in my life, where I sat on the sidewalk outside, sobbing in desperation and what I thought could never be better.

We are in different places now, just over 10 years later, both physically and emotionally, but these friends remain family in my heart, always. Family are not the people you necessarily see each day, but the people that you can quickly find home with again.

I have been thinking a lot about chosen family.

I used to be deeply saddened on Thanksgiving because it’s always close to my mother’s birthday and it used to be such a big celebration in my family of origin (or at least, bigger than most holidays). This sadness was compounded by the fact that we generally celebrated with my husband’s family which made me feel acutely separated from my own experiences growing up (despite my deep love for his family).

This year, our first Thanksgiving meal was with my in-laws, but my second and third were with friends who have become family, and family that I have found from half a world away (namely, my sister). These people, and so many others who reached out via text and messages and calls yesterday, remind me that I am deeply loved. That I am chosen, as much as I have chosen them.

This, of course, doesn’t replace my mother’s presence, or fill the hole in my heart that has been left by her absence, but it brings me a measure of peace that wasn’t a part of my life for so long.

I am grateful for that peace, and for the ability to breathe it in, and hold it close to my heart, where there used to be only loneliness.

What I Learned from 9 Days with my 7 Year Old

Photo of the author and her daughter standing in the reflection on the Mirror d'Eau in Bordeaux France

You can learn a lot from a 7 year old in 9 days.

I just returned from a 9 day trip to France (Paris, Bordeaux & small villages/ beach towns in the Bordeaux area) with my daughter. (I wrote about how going on the trip itself was already a big deal before it happened here.)

I knew I would learn a lot.

I knew I would heal.

But I still was not prepared for what I am taking away from this time and the ways in which it was transformative. Recording these things here for accountability and remembering:

1) There is so much to be gained from presence and an abundance of time

I did close to no work for 9 days, which, for those of you that know me, or read this blog with any regularity know, is transformative and borderline miraculous in and of itself. I glanced at e-mails and sent a few, but I didn’t open my laptop for 8 days, to the point that it was down to 1% charge when I finally checked the battery before our return flight home.

Not working gave me space and time to be present with my daughter, to be fully attentive to her, and to the space around me. It freed me up to breathe deeply, listen to my body, eat mindfully, care for her, spend time fully with others. I was not perfect. There were moments when I got bored and looked at my phone, but I was, to a remarkable degree, there during those 9 days. I remember them. I cherish them. I was not irritated when she asked me to play with her. I just was with her, and enjoyed her.

2) I am actually a really good mother, who is generally doing too much

I have doubted my ability to mother since I first became a mother 16 years ago. This was devastating to me because I have always wanted to be a mother. What this trip helped me to realize is that I can be an excellent mother, when I am present.

I am, on a day-to-day, regular basis, a fine mother, who is extremely overwhelmed with competing demands, but I absolutely know my children, love them, and want the best for them. It is just not easy to be the mother they need me to be when I am on a (often self-imposed) deadline or when I am trying to think deeply. Seven year olds (at least, or especially, mine) don’t like waiting (even a minute). My daughter wants attention and presence all the time, and while that’s not possible in the same way it was for the last nine days, it can be possible.

3) I am human

It was an excellent trip, but not perfect. I messed things up, took wrong turns, got really stressed at one point because things weren’t open and I got locked into a particular idea (while hangry), and my daughter kept reminding me, “Don’t freak out. We’re all human, Mommy.”


And in that humanity, I need space and time to recharge. I need people who I love around me. I need other adults who I can trust and be fully human with.

4) Things that I want are more possible than I allow myself to believe

While we were on our trip, a little boy asked my daughter if she wanted to play. He asked her in French, which she doesn’t understand, and when I translated into English, he said brightly, “Oh, you speak English! I was born in Texas.” I spoke to his mother and learned his family had moved to Bordeaux a couple of years ago, he was in a local nearby school, and they happened to stop by the playground on their way home.

This interaction touched me a lot. It made me realize that community has a way of finding you wherever you are and that living internationally is a real possibility (even when you have a family, and although it’s incredibly challenging). This gave me a lot of hope for a future that I want to believe can be possible, and faith that however things turn out will be okay.

5) I am deeply loved, but I cannot be (and am not, in fact) everything to everyone (or anyone even) and that’s okay

My little girl had a hard time without her Papa. I anticipated being away from him for 9 days would be hard, but I didn’t anticipate how hard. She is much more accustomed to my being away for several days, and while she misses me, she’s generally at home, and I am traveling. This is the longest trip she’s ever been alone with either of us, and it’s the longest time she’s ever been away from home. She was in a country where she didn’t know anyone and didn’t speak the language. It was a lot for her, the whole time, and she handled it like a champ, but it was still a lot.

I could not be her Papa or take his place (nor would I want to), but we made it through, with lots of hugs and lots of love shared between us.

I know I am embraced by community at home. In fact, in less than 24 hours, I’ve had a friend come by, an amazing Zoom call with my sister-friend, felt the love of my family, and had multiple texts that remind me how loved I am.

I’m also embraced by my community in and near Bordeaux, who have showed me so much love, thoughtfulness, grace, and generosity.

This love, across two countries, has allowed me the space to see that however I am works, that I will be loved when I complain, when I am frustrated, and when I am sad, just as much as I will be loved when I share joyful moments and laughter.

What a gift this trip was for me. What important lessons for me to have learned. And one more lesson: that I must embrace the moments I’m given, living in them, not beside them, in my body, and not just my head. This will take work, as I have largely survived through thinking and disembodied movements in the direction that others want me to go, but I have seen the other side, and it is beautiful, even as it brings its own challenges.

It’s All Coming Back to Me Now

Photo of the Eiffel Tower on the Seine. It is a cloudy day.

I was 15 when I first went to Paris. It was the summer between my sophomore and junior years, on a trip with my high school French club. My brother, French teacher and his wife were among the chaperones. Aside from being the first time that I was sexually harassed (at least twice, actually, having my butt pinched as I stood in the entranceway to the mall at the Louvre and then in a shoe store, where the salesman tried to tell me how much he’d love for me to take him back to America and would love for me to come with him to see Paris– it was a lot, but that’s not what this post is about), it was a pretty magical trip.

My mother, for her part, took a trip to the East Coast of the United States to visit friends near Schenectady, where I was born, whom she hadn’t seen in years. I was happy for me and happy for her that she was coming back to a life where she finally had both the financial and mental freedom to travel and to send me to places that we could only afford to dream about when I was little and she was struggling.

As a single mom who hadn’t taken care of the finances previously, she had to figure out how to support a little girl, a college student, a car note, and a house note, and how to do so navigating multiple jobs. It meant we didn’t have much time.

I had no way of knowing that we still did not have much time.

This would be the last summer before my mother died.

In late September/ early October, I returned to Paris. I had come back to France in college, spending a year abroad in Bordeaux and then building relationships that had me come back every six months until I married, and then not again from just after my son’s birth to last year. France was still a magical place for me. It was a place where I was home even though I was not home. It was a place my mother’s death did not haunt me or follow me. It was a place where I felt free from who I was back home in the states.

And when I returned last year, it was all of that again for me. When I returned from my trip, my daughter asked me if I would take her. I promised her that some day I would.

She replied cheerily, “Great, so how about this summer?”

“This summer seems a little soon,” I responded.

“Why?” she asked.

I paused. I didn’t really have an answer for her. My answer typically would have been that she is too young to “get the most” out of the trip. But really, is she? I am good at saving airline and hotel points. I imagined (in October) that the pandemic would be in a better place (if it were now, I may have had a different answer). At any rate, I investigated points conversions, bought our tickets and soon, we will be off.

It is the summer between my son’s sophomore and junior years.

My father died last year, unexpectedly, and ironically when I had returned to France.

I will be department chair in the fall, returning to a 12-month position.

There are many transitions.

I am grateful for these moments, this time, this trip.

I am grateful for the space to take it, and the time to devote to my little girl.

I know that time is fleeting, that it is precious.

And, I know that, in taking time with my girl, I am also healing myself, the little me who wanted so desperately all the time she could get with her mother, as if she knew somehow that time was short.

Time and energy are precious. Mine is so often, so easily, given away.

I am grateful for the gift of time to make memories, for the space of my life to step away.

And the space to come back to myself again.

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.

My Parents’ Daughter

Faded photograph of an Asian woman and man in sepia

I have spent many years claiming that I am, above all, my mother’s daughter, and this is true. My mother raised me alone for as long as I can remember. She loved me far more than she loved herself. She sacrificed everything to give me a chance at a life that was better than her own. She was beautiful and brilliant, kind and generous, but also at times lonely and prone to outbursts of anger. All of this, I have seen or been told is reflected in me.

I did not grow up with my father, but I realize that I am still his daughter, in ways that mirror traits of my mother, and in ways that are distinctly his. I am a charmer and a quick thinker, incredibly impatient, have unreasonable expectations of myself and others, and often struggle with desire and deservingness. I am hard to live with and want things my way. I want all the things, even if I have learned to suppress those wants in fear of judgment of others.

For most of my life, my parents have been polar opposites in my mind — my mother representing all that is good and pure and my father representing all that is bad, above all selfishness. But now that they are both gone, I am left to reflect more honestly and with nuance on who they were and who they are, who I am and how I am a reflection of them. I realize that things are not so simple, that no one is ever all good or all bad, that purity and selfishness aren’t always moral standards to ascribe to or to be avoided.

My mother’s self-sacrifice became such a model to me. Her deep belief in swallowing her own pain, putting everyone else’s needs before her own, and delaying her joy, set me up to believe that I should do the same because I, for so long, believed that to honor these beliefs was to honor her life, to finally give her freedom.

My father’s unwillingness to compromise himself for others and desire to be loved and admired, in spite of all the things that made him impossible to live with, became a subconscious weight in my heart, inescapable but laden with guilt.

I love easily; I give easily; I sacrifice easily — this is my mother’s legacy. I want so much that I have denied myself; I am never satisfied; I can be so hard to live with — this is my father’s legacy.

What is left of those legacies?

For many years, possibly my whole life, I have been almost completely unable to choose myself. I have been so afraid of the judgment of my family, my community (those that I have worked so hard to earn respect from), and even total strangers, that I choose based on calculated risk (leaning always towards safety) and based on the desires of others. I never want to let anyone down.

In doing so, I have settled for so much less than I deserve.

I say this not because my life is not beautiful in so many ways. I am deeply loved, held in my hardest moments. I live a life of contribution. I have had so many incredible experiences and have worked so hard to be where I am personally and professionally.

I say this because I am searching to live a more honest, authentic, and integrated life — a life that dares to ask for more, to dream of the seemingly impossible, to love wholeheartedly, to live freely — after neatly compartmentalizing my whole life into manageable parts of myself that no one sees completely.

It is HARD.

It is especially hard in an academic setting that keeps pushing for more. It is hard in a society that leaves little room for women of color to want, within and without multiple spheres of judgment. It is hard carrying the legacy of my parents.

But, I have been doing hard things for years; it is also a part of their legacy.

I am my parents’ daughter.

But I am also myself.

I am learning and unlearning.

I am choosing my own legacy.