public speaker

Hapa- half. Not whole.

Somehow this feeling of less than-ness is more pervasive here than others pause to realize. I didn’t realize I wasn’t the only one, until I came here. The stories sound terrible. Unbelievably so, but I know they aren’t fiction. I have been there. I have been covered over and pushed under so no one would see my broken self as a reflection of her. 

You would think that after nearly a decade of not knowing her daughter. After years of scattered phone calls and a handful of visits that a summer would be built on bonding. But what I recall is my differentness, my “American” characteristics were brusque and garish. She compared me to my father and not in a good way. I was all the bad traits of a man who I could never compare myself to. Only others could compare us. And somehow I was just as terrible to her as he had been. This white child of a white man who only took and caused pain. 

Then I realized how not whole I truly was. 

I remember when I first saw her basement, thinking it wasn’t a basement at all. It was more a warehouse. I ran across it smiling. I ran and thought, my mom has a basement. MY mom. I can’t recall wanting anything as much as I wanted to be her daughter. So many hateful women surrounding me, and this one, this one gave me life. This one loved me. My mom has a basement. 

It’s where she kept the kimchi fridge. All my Korean friends know about the importance of the kimchi fridge. It’s also where she exercised because health and beauty are important. More than important. We ran, and exercised there everyday. I wanted to stop and she made me keep going. Yelling at me about lazy Americans. I was always too white to her. Not enough Korean in this motherless Korean girl. 

Eventually, the basement became the place where she kept me. Hidden away, told to be quiet and wait. No one knows about you. They don’t need to know about you. 

Fuck. Those words cut me still. 

I feel them deeply. I feel them through that tiny body, entering into that frail little chest, stabbing my breaking heart right in the center of everything. This woman, this “mother,” she only wanted me when no one else could see. Who could love me if she can’t? Hide me away in the basement quietly. Even the dogs get to be seen. Even the dogs get to be loved in the open. But not me. Because I chose to be less than. I chose to be half. I chose to be created in a world that only accepts whole people. I chose to be a half of something on either side. 

Our stories hurt. They aren’t always easy to share, but God, how I wish I had known these stories years ago. How I wish I had known it wasn’t my fault. It wasn’t just me. How I had begged to be accepted by both my halves and never thought it possible. 

So yes, I don’t speak a lot of Korean. But, what I do speak, I learned the hard way. 

Acceptance, Children, Choices, Depression, Fear, Help, hope, Love, mental health, public speaker, Relationships, Strength, Suicide, suicide prevention, Understanding

Bullying a Blinding Issue

Navigating the worlds of suicide prevention can be difficult. It’s definitely a delicate balance when it comes to the many ways people want to be engaged and represented in their individual journeys.

There are some things we have learned through experience, through education, and through the expertise of others. But there are also some very simple beliefs we hold dear to our hearts. Beliefs like, not everyone will always like you, but we can still do our best to be kind. We believe boundaries are part of a healthy self-care regimen. These include the types of people we engage and interact with in our lives. Boundaries that protect our wellbeing. Boundaries that set standards for our safety and the safety of others.

Safety and security are of the utmost importance. We want you all to be safe. To be happy and healthy. But we know we all encounter people who are in pain from time to time. Sometimes their pain spills over into the world around them. It isn’t fair. It isn’t easy. But it happens.

The thing is, we don’t always know what is going on in a person’s life. We don’t always know the tragedies or traumas a person has experienced. These traumas affect us, often deeply. They can alter our ability to be compassionate, to be aware of our impact on others, to be kind. We can hurt others and in that hurt, we can feel less alone.

How terrible, that a person can be in so much pain, that the act of hurting another can lead them to feel less alone.

Nothing in this world is simple. We don’t have all the answers and we don’t know the whole story but we do know, pain magnifies pain. Pain begets pain when allowed to go unaddressed.

Our approach to bullying is this, people are hurting. We do not condone physical violence. We do not agree with emotional, mental, verbal abuse. We do not believe in name calling or pointing fingers.

We believe these behaviors are symptoms of a much larger issue. When it comes to youth and children, we especially believe WE are the adults. It is our role to pause with them, see them, offer support, educate, help them through their pain, and never limit them with so simple and blind a phrase as “Bullying is for Losers.”

Everyday children are hurting. Everyday they are told they will never, are not, cannot… let’s change the way we communicate.

It won’t be quick or easy but in the end, if we put the work in…. we could change so many worlds.

Depression, Help, hope, Love, mental health, Strength, Suicide, suicide prevention


How many losses have you suffered over your lifetime? A handful, more? What if you endured numerous losses in a single week? 

Losing a loved one is hard. Strike that, it’s suffocating. It’s devastating. It’s traumatizing. It’s confusing. It’s unfair. It’s beyond the capacity of being defined by so simple a word as hard. Losing a loved one is losing a piece of your journey, your memories, your laughter, and your love to an intangible enemy. 

We can all agree, losing a loved one is painful in ways words can’t often express adequately. 

But what constitutes a loved one? 

Any person we have loved throughout our life? 

Is love an emotion that can only be shared between people? 

Any person who has ever shared space with a pet wouldn’t hesitate to express the enormity of their love and how valid a feeling it is for both them and their companion. This love, this shared expression of life is as meaningful as any other. 

Love has been categorized as being unconditional, affectionate, familiar, enduring, and playful. It is a connection shared beyond words. A bond made in quiet moments. A joy created when two souls play and dance together in happiness. Agape, Philia, Storge, Pragma, Ludus, LOVE a word so strong the Greeks bestowed it with 8 categories to try and contain its exponential meanings. The love of a pet could fall under many or even all of these categories. 

But where does the love of another’s pet fall? 

The love that is built when we first held you in our arms as a puppy. When we comforted the scared and confused kitten after their life-saving procedure. When we shared giddy moments as you danced about our space hoping for a treat. Softer hearts don’t often fare well against those literal puppy dog eyes and you definitely have the cutest. We are here because of our immense love of animals. We are here to serve you in your big times and small. We are here, loving your animals as though they were our own. After all they’ve been ours in immeasurable ways across countless dog or cat years. 

Life and love are larger and more evasive than we can imagine. In a single day, we can see both halt over and over and over. In a single day, we can come face to face with death until our hearts can’t bear anymore. In a single day we can experience some of the lowest lows known by man’s best friend. Yours, and our best friends. We’ve formed memories, moments, and meaning that can only ever be revisited. We grieve for you, in our way. We also grieve for them, for those souls who never spoke anything but the language of love. The hardest part is our love and our roles don’t end when their lives do, not for them and not for you. 

We push forward with hope. We cling to joy. And we pray you never forget how grateful we are to you for entrusting your precious lives and loves in our humbled hands. 

If you haven’t recently, thank your vet, your techs, and your clinic staff. It means more to them than you may realize.