Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Manners and Maps

Of course, they're polite. You're in the South.
Oh, you'll love it there! People are so nice! They say "please" and "thank you." And we all know how you feel about that. *smirk

-___-  Things people said to me when I landed a job in Texas.

Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't realize that it was your place on the map that was keeping you from being a nice person. -__-

Call me naivë, but I didn't know that manners were limited to a geographical location. I am genuinely curious about this now. At which borders do people stop being nice to one another? Stop holding doors? Stop saying "please" and "thank you"? Acknowledging each other's strengths? Knowing that they don't diminish one's own? Is it the west Texas border? Does gratitude seep through to New Mexico? Go as far as Arizona? I must have missed that during geography class.

Or maybe I just don't think that there's an acceptable excuse for not saying "thank you" when someone does something for you. Maybe it's because I was raised to be grateful for the things that I have. Maybe I know that I am not entitled to anything.

Let's do a little analysis here. I mean, really, to me, it's simple. You get something. You say "thank you." Someone opens the door for you; you say "thank you." Answers a question? Thank you. When someone compliments you, you say "thank you," so why wouldn't you say it when they are complimenting you with their time and effort? But it seems like it's not that simple to others.

TWO.WORDS. It is two words.

The cost of a "thank you"? Nothing. Literally... nothing. It takes less than a two seconds to say. It takes slight movement from your mouth, which, unless you've just come back from a grueling session at the dentist, I'm sure you're using anyway. The only explanation I can find is that people feel entitled to everything and grateful for nothing, and so we’ve seen the demise of pure and simple manners.

I encourage you to count your blessings, find joy in your days, acknowledge the kindnesses that others show you, acknowledge your fellow man. There are so many studies out there that demonstrate the health benefits of gratitude and who couldn’t use more of that? So if you aren’t practicing gratitude towards others for the sake of just being a good person, at least do it for yourself. 

Science-y, research-y, resource-y stuff 
(In case you don't believe me when I tell you that it's good for you!)

31 Benefits of Gratitude (Happier Human)

I personally love #2 of this article. Gratitude makes people like us.

I recently approached an old coworker about her ingratitude and one of her responses was that she had been “pretty successful in navigating [her] professional life with this approach.” Successful? Maybe, but that doesn’t mean that people like working with her; this just means that people will tolerate her bad behavior.

So think about it… do people actually like spending time with you, working with you, or are they just putting up with you because they’d rather avoid conflict?

Exercises in gratitude
Here are some quick suggestions on limbering up those atrophied gratitude muscles!

  • Say "thank you"
    • Pay attention to the reaction from the other person. Do they smile? Do they come out of their daze? Do they light up? As a bonus, thank them in front of others. Who doesn't like praise for a job well done? Who doesn't like to be appreciated? This is a pretty foolproof method.
  • Compliment someone
    • How does it make you feel to be complimented? Are you willing to spread that joy to another person? This person may be having a terrible day, but you've noticed something about them, you've helped to validate them, and show that you appreciate them. Branch out from the physical appearance compliments as well. If the person has wonderful penmanship, if they're an artist or a writer, or a great public speaker/presenter, if they have a quick analytical mind, these are all things that can be appreciated
  • Reciprocate
    • This can happen in any number of ways. We all have things to offer each other. Find yours. This person presumably did you a favor or a kindness with whatever tools were in their wheelhouse. Acknowledge your own strengths and offer them something from yours.
    • It could be as simple as a "Thank you! I got the next one!" This sharing of burden can make all of the difference. This lets you both know that you aren't in this world alone and someone has your back.
There are a lot of other things you can do: gratitude journals, gratitude visits, writing notes, list-making, etc. Just try it. The only thing it can do is improve your life.

What are some of your favorite ways to be thanked? What are some of your favorite ways to demonstrate thankfulness?

*Special thanks to the coworkers who didn't bat an eye when I asked and took the time out of their day to answer my questions about how they like to be appreciated.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Look around your world, pretty baby

Is it everything you hoped it would be? The wrong guy, the wrong situation? The right time to roll to me. ♫
* dances in chair

After the last post and after any number of life changes, I took a hiatus from writing... pretty much anything, but I’m back and am hopefully a little more focused!

Here’s a quick list of things that have happened, leading to where I am now:

  • R.A.D. class, leading to the come-to-Jesus experience that had led to the last post
    • Come to me, all you who are toiling and loaded down, and I will refresh you. – Matthew 11:28
  •  Being lied about and consequently, the loss of my best friend close-as-a-sister roommate
  • Ongoing health issues/pain
  •  Repeated bad behavior and emotionally abusive relationships, which luckily begun to turn around at least a little when I realized where it all stemmed from and with a little help from my friends 
  •  The re-centering of my life and my interests, and fostering the healthy and real relationships; really focusing on some amazing people in my life 
  •  Applied and landed a writing internship for the Chancellor’s office, which reignited the forgotten dream of writing and being published, and which is why I’m dusting off this blog again 
  •  Applied and landed a job in Texas, which had been a goal for a couple of years or so I’d believed 
  •  Uprooted my life and moved to Texas, walking away from the writing opportunity and my loved ones

And a million moments in between, moments of tears, laughter, dancing, lunches, dinners, movies, happy hours, picking flowers, moments of peace and grace and moments laying broken on the floor. (< Seriously, great article about brokenness!)

So here I am, settling into a new state, a new job, cultivating new friendship and cherishing the long-distance friends with all of my heart, dusting off old interests and being open to new ones.
I received two especially poignant good luck cards as I started this journey. I hold onto words like lifelines and find comfort in them, so much so that these cards are hanging in my office for inspiration and to remind me of the well wishes and support I brought with me. (Each card also contained a Bible verse. #heartful)

“She did not know where her heart would lead her, but she knew she had to find out.” Numbers 6:24-26
“Change in all things is sweet.” Jeremiah 29:11

Here’s to finding the sweetness and following wherever my heart may lead!

Thanks for rolling with me!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

My Rape Story

I wish it were fiction.

Let me first say that I hope this doesn’t change the way you look at me. I hope that whatever words you would have used to describe me before aren’t going to change just because you’re now going to know a side of my story that’s been buried for a long time. I don’t want your pity. I want your understanding. But all of that is up to you. I know I already sound defensive. I know that I’m about to make myself very vulnerable.

It happened over ten years ago, but like it so often happens with tragedies, we bury how they really make us feel and we ignore the way they continue to affect our lives.

It was a friend, a close friend. I would have considered him one of my best at the time. I trusted him completely, which makes the rest of this feel like such a betrayal. We were drinking at his house with a few other people. I remember that we were playing beer pong. I don’t remember what else we were drinking. I don’t remember why or how I got so drunk. I vaguely remember him leading me upstairs. For all the times I’d been there, I’d never been upstairs. I wouldn’t have been able to lead us up there. I don’t remember how clothes were removed, but only the …vital…ones were from me. All my memories that night are ones of pain. I remember him holding me down and clamping his hand over my mouth every time I screamed out in pain. (Thanks to the RAD class I realize that my nightmares about not being able to scream when I’m being attacked come from this one moment. It took seeing some of the attack situations that we walked through for those deep-buried memories to resurface.) I faintly remember struggling but I do remember him forcefully holding me down and keeping me quiet. I came in and out of consciousness. The pain would wake me up and I’d try to scream out, but then I’d black out again. I remember blood. Everywhere.

The next morning, he went downstairs to finish sleeping on the couch, and I got up to get out. I remember looking down at the bed and just seeing blood. I still don’t think I fully realized what had happened, but I knew I wanted out of the house. I went and slept in the car until I was able to drive. I don’t remember where I went or where I cleaned up. I do remember being sore and bruised from being pinned down and silenced, and from the rape itself.

He didn’t talk to me after it happened. We didn’t talk for awhile. I felt guilty. For being in that situation, for letting it happen. Maybe he didn’t want to? He seemed to blame me for it happening. I must be guilty. It must be my fault. He had been my friend, after all. When he finally did start acknowledging me when we were out in groups, he’d tell a couple of his guy friends to “check out my tits,” and to “grab them if they wanted.” He objectified me and reduced me to a body. He gave me no rights to myself. I was something that he felt he could pass around. A body without a mind, a heart, or a soul. And I was still so broken. I didn’t speak up for myself. I am very, very lucky that nothing else happened during those times.

I’ve told myself for over a decade that it wasn’t rape, that I knew him so it couldn’t be, that I somehow asked for it. I told myself that I wasn’t a victim, because I didn’t want to be. Even last year, when I went to see The Vagina Monologues (c/o Justine!!!) with José and Hanna, I didn’t stand up when they asked who in the audience had ever been a victim of sexual assault. Here I was, in an absolutely safe and supportive place, filled with women and men who had the courage to stand up, and I couldn’t do it, because it’s not who I wanted to be.

But not wanting to be a victim of assault doesn’t mean that you haven’t been. Denying it hasn’t made it go away. Most people think that I’m strong and tough. I am always okay. Do no harm, but take no shit. I let nothing get to me or break me, because like hell I’ll be broken. That’s why messages like these get to me. They are a perfect depiction of the stubbornness, and the unwillingness to show any sign of weakness, and a perfect depiction of the support I do have from the friends who won’t let me get away with pretending:

This friend, in particular, knows all the lights and darks. He knows this story and he knows how it haunts me. Long before now, he’s probably known and realized a lot of the things that I’m just starting to.

So it happened. And now what? Well, now, I’m realizing that I have let it dictate my ideas of self-worth. I’ve believed it. I have continuously allowed myself to be emotionally abused and neglected because all I am is a body anyway. I’ve called people friends and I’ve dated guys who have not looked out for me emotionally because my first lesson in intimacy was that nothing about me mattered.

I try so hard to build others up and to help them see the goodness in themselves, because I don’t see it in me,  because I don't know their story, and I don't know if they'll just need the pick-me-up that day. I don't know what demons they're facing, so I want them to know they have someone on their side. I see others in pain and my heart goes out to them. The worst part is that half the time they end up taking advantage and hurting me too. I expect more, especially from all of us who know pain. We should know better than to make others feel worthless, but that’s a post for another day. I guess what I’m trying to say is that we should build each other up and support each other. Reach out. Check in. There are so many stories that we don’t know and things that we would never guess. I know that, to this day, I wouldn’t have the strength to tell my story if it weren’t for people like Chris (poor thing has dealt with me and those issues for years as he’s watched me destroy myself again and again; there’s a special place in heaven for friends like him), José (who sat there with such empathy on his face while I cried out my story to him), and Michaela (who watched me turn beast mode in the RAD class and then instinctively gave me support and let me share with her some of the realizations), Susan (who got me started on the path to self-defense and who has always been so encouraging and supportive), and for instructors like Tammy and Jeffrey from RAD, who helped me to literally find my voice, and who replied with words of encouragement and advice after the class.

Advice worth sharing and things that we should all remember:

Tammy: Remember that YOU are valuable and YOU are worth fighting for.
Jeffrey: “Self-defense is not just a set of techniques; it’s a state of mind, and it begins with the belief that you are worth defending”-Rorion Gracie Grandmaster of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu
Fight for yourself. Fight for how you feel and the things that you deserve in life. You deserve happiness. You deserve friends and significant others who respect you, love you, and support you. You are worthy of your own love and respect, too.

These are things that I’m still working on and thank God for the friends who remind me of what I’m worth to them.

If you want to ask me questions, please feel free. If you need advice or resources for yourself or a friend, let me know and I’ll help you. If you see me and want to hug me, go ahead. If you want to sit and cry with me about anything, I’m here. I want to know your story, too.

My fear in posting this is that people won’t know how to act or what to say around me anymore. I’m still the person that you’ve known since you met me. Please don’t change. I’m afraid that you’ll look at me and see “victim,” instead of “friend.” Silently, I’ve been a victim of this for a long time. It’s time to change the way it’s made me live my life. It’s time to live outside the shadow of past experiences.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Counter-movement Against Body-shaming

(Some swearing below. NSFW.)

How many times have you been picked on for looking different? How many times have people made fun of you because of your appearance? For me, my youth was rife with kids poking mercilessly at other kids for everything - glasses, braces, bad hair, bad taste in clothing. I could go on and on. But eventually, most people mature beyond the point of criticizing another person's looks.

Except, for whatever reason, people of all ages still seem perfectly comfortable criticizing another person's weight.

Google the term "body-shaming" and you will see numerous articles and stories about celebrities, modelseveryday people, and - most disheartening of all - young women facing bullying. Because that is what "body-shaming" is - BULLYING people for their weight, shape, and size.

But there is a counter-movement of people fighting back. From well-known bloggers to a coalition of Chivers, these people promote self-worth and love, and reject judgment and criticism based solely on weight. Journalists condemn the effect body-shaming has on our youth, spouting horrifying statistics about children and diets. We're seeing a culture of acceptance, we're reading inspiring stories about plus-size models, and we're hearing people encouraging one another to be happy and healthy - whatever shape that may come in.

These are awe-inspiring and courageous acts of rebellion against the idea that thin is in. These are people daring to suggest that all shapes and sizes are beautiful, that "fat" and "healthy" are not necessarily incongruous, that a "bikini-ready body" is a body wearing a damn bikini. This is a counter-movement that I embrace and endorse with every single ounce of my being. (I'm Korean - I know a little something about impossible standards and the utter despair of falling short.) These movements - #stopbs, #eachbodysready, #effyourbeautystandards? To all this, I have two words: FUCK YEAH.

Where the HELL have we come as a society? It's 20fucking15 and we're STILL finding ways to bring each other down over our LOOKS? Why are we setting these ridiculous standards, for ourselves and for everyone else? How have we not accepted there is NO standard for beauty? Beauty is as varied as the number of people who inhabit this earth and their glorious bodies, and FUCK YOU if you try to convince me otherwise.

I am so damned disgusted that we've come to a point where I feel the need to write an expletive-laden blog post about BODY-SHAMING. You want to know how to person? Find something better to do with your time than criticizing another person for their appearance. Leave my body, and every other body, out of it. We're fucking beautiful.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015


I may not ever be the most popular or well liked. I may not get as far as others. But I will have lived my life honestly. I will not have gotten by on being fake.

People will always know where they stand with me and they will always get my honest opinion. I do not lie. I cannot lie. About where I stand on things. And you may not like it but I will never leave you wondering, at least.

I would so much more rather be disliked for who I am than liked for who I'm not.

My challenge to you is to be honest with yourself and with others. Meanwhile I will try to learn how to be more tactful.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Through thick and thin

I believe everyone will agree that when someone utters the phrase "through thick and thin", that person means they will be there for another person when times are good and when times are bad. I also believe that most people would argue that it is more important to trust that your friends, family, and colleagues will be by your side through the difficulties - the end of a relationship, ill health, life crises, etc.

I don't disagree with this argument. I've been through enough ups and downs, in my life and in the lives of my friends, to understand at a soul-deep level that sometimes, it is only because you have the strength of your loved ones to lean on that you are able at all to get through the trials that are thrown your way. But I would argue that it is just as important to have this network of strength supporting you through your moments of incredible joy - the beginning of a relationship, a new career opportunity, the birth of a child, etc.

The column Science of Us published an article on "capitalization", a term they describe as "the process of telling others about our successes and getting a positive reaction". The article explains the effect of capitalization on romantic relationships - more intimacy, well-being, stability - but I believe this is important in all relationships that people care to nurture. When a person runs to their friends to tell them about an amazing first date, does that person want to be greeted with a shrug and lukewarm "great", or do they want their friends to jump up and down and exchange enthusiastic high fives, and be enthusiastic? When a family member tells you they're expecting a child, do you react with cool sensibility or warmth and excitement? When a colleague accepts a promotion, do you tear down their new department and huff because you'll be left short-staffed, or do you send them off with good luck and best wishes?

My hope is to give positive support as freely and willingly as I lend strength when life gets thin. And I know I have much room for growth when it comes to providing support in either direction. It's something I am aware of every single day, how much I have to improve. But my ultimate goal is to be the friend, family member, and colleague that people will run to, with good and/or bad news, because they are secure in the knowledge that I will be there for them, through thick and thin.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Plane and simple behaviours

*Before I get knocked for using the incorrect "plane," it was intentional. Pun intended!

My apologies for the two week break I’ve taken from writing on this blog! Between injury and travelling, I’ve been out of the loop, but I’m back!

Today’s topic:
We’re going to go with how to behave on a plane.

We’ve all been there. We’ve all experienced that person who takes the middle seat right next to you, when there are entirely empty rows, and who slumps over on you halfway through the flight, open-mouthed, drooling on your shoulder. Or the person who coughs violently, spewing their germs across the row and into the ventilation system to just bombard you over and over again…because once wasn’t enough. Or the parents who think that it’s absolutely adorable that their children are climbing over the seats, throwing things, and kicking seats, while smelling of pee, poop, and vomit…not unlike the person who makes walking down the plane aisle their version of a walk of shame. You’re pretty sure that if they just wrung out their hair, they’d have enough alcohol from last night’s party to fill up their complimentary drink cup. And of course, there's the over-sharer, who is usually talking so loudly that they don't even need to be right by you in order for you to hear their life's story. 

So my plea here is... just don't be that person. And don't let your friends be that person. Or your kids, if/when you have them. Be aware that there are one hundred or more people on the plane with you. Form alliances with like-minded passengers so that you can strategically guard your space from those middle-seat-even-though-the-plane-is-half-empty takers. Or so that when that little kid hauls off and kicks your seat like it's a soccer ball and he or she is going for a game-winning goal, you won't be alone in the struggle. And hopefully, you can ally yourself with someone who can offer Patient Zero of the Ebola virus a tissue while you're getting out your hand sanitizer to douse them with.

Make friends, if you want to, but don't infiltrate someone's time and space. Just because you're trapped in a flying can with them does not mean that you are instantly best friends. You do not know what another person may be going through. They may be flying home to be at the bedside of sick parent. They may be flying away from an abusive relationship. They could be facing any number of things, and it is rude to assume that they NEED, nay...MUST hear about the drunken night and the bad-idea-tattoos you got in Vegas the night before or how you have 8 children ranging from 4 to 40 and how you're on wife #5. *true things I've been told on a plane...

I'm not sure if the plane issue has gotten worse or if my patience level has dropped, but I feel like society as a whole is just so self-absorbed and so caught up in their own lives and issues, that they don't even realize what they are doing. And I'm not sure if that's better or worse. Is it worse to know that you're doing these things but just not care or is it worse to be so oblivious to everyone and everything else around you that you don't even notice? A topic for another time, perhaps...