A “True” Test

(This is blog post #4 on a series looking at True Self/False self.  Click here to read #1, #2, and #3)Two weeks ago at my daughter’s 13th birthday party, I foolishly left my open computer sitting on the kitchen island while 11 girls helped themselves to pizza, cupcakes, soda and ice cream sundaes.  As one of Kai’s friends poured herself a glass of water over my keyboard, in as calm a voice as I could muster so as not to… Read more

Will the “True” Kathy please stand up?

(Blog #3 in a series on True Self vs. False Self.  Click here to read #1 and #2)Growing up, I was the black sheep of the family.  I didn’t drink, take drugs, or sleep around, but my parents thought I was a juvenile delinquent because I failed to meet their Chinese standards for an oldest daughter.  For them, an exemplary oldest daughter shows irreproachable and responsible behavior, both at home and at school.  When asked, she joyfully washes the kitchen… Read more

Voldemort and True Self vs. False Self

The first night of my spiritual retreat last week, Adele gave us a chart contrasting the True Self from the False Self.  I took one look and thought, “Shoot (or some other word)!  I’m completely living in my false self!The more Adele described the true self, the more I wondered whether I even have a true self.  I worried that I’m actually more like an onion—peel all the layers away and there’s nothing underneath.  But then she said, “The true… Read more

Big Kathy/Little Kathy

(This is the first of 6 reflections on True Self/False Self.  Read #2, #3, #4, #5, #6)My 2nd ever spiritual vision happened 19 years ago at a student camp in New Jersey. At the end of the week, we sent everyone out with a bag lunch for what we called a retreat of silence.  Anyone who’s actually spent any time in the disciplines of meditation and solitude would call those three hours a long quiet time, but for students between… Read more

On Food Hoarding and Black Bean Soup

How do you make dinner after a 3 day Chicago work trip followed by a weekend filled with 5 performances of “Sleeping Beauty,” followed by a Monday catching up with work and watching 5 kids after school so there’s been no time to grocery shop?   Be a food hoarder like me.I get food hoarding from my mother, who grew up poor in China despite her father’s Ph.D. from Harvard.  She stocks every nook and cranny of our home with cans,… Read more

A mother-daughter spiritual conversation

“How’re you doing with God?” I asked Ling during our “special time.”I’ve been a “professional” Christian for 21 years, so you’d think I ask that question often, but we usually talk about school and friends.  So imagine my guilt when she said, “Terrible!”“Really?” I said, “What’s going on?  Are you an atheist now?  Are you struggling with believing God exists?  Do you have a lot of big questions?”She looked at me like I was crazy.  “What?!?” she almost shrieked, “Who… Read more

13 years ago today with “How to make a Barbie princess cake” as an added bonus

As of 4:41ish, I have 2 teenage girls.  Today is Kai-Kai’s 13th birthday, and even though she’s acted like a teenager since age 4—from her awareness of the latest fashion trends to her general outlook on life and her parents—today she finally crosses that line.13 years ago today, I awoke at 2 a.m. feeling a twinge.  A few minutes later, I felt another twinge so I got up and went to the bathroom, only to have the toilet clog on me…. Read more

The Coolification Theory of Marriage and Family

I don’t get why my kids think they can barge into my room during a weekend retreat to complain about the others’ behavior when I’m standing dripping in a towel. Between 7 a.m. and 7:15 a.m. on Saturday morning, that literally happened 3 times.  Our whole family was at Toah Nipi at a Cana marriage retreat on the topic “Trusting God in Changing Circumstances,” and these circumstances were just too much for me to do any actual trusting of God.  And… Read more

Reflecting on a Racial Rant

When I was on my first summer urban project back in 1988, just after my first year of grad school, I told an African-American friend who was wearing a headscarf that she looked like Aunt Jemima.  She gazed directly in my eyes and said, “It’s because I love you Kathy that I will forgive you for that extremely offensive comment.”  I can’t remember what I said in response—I hope I apologized.  But I remember not even knowing why I had… Read more

The Joy of Human Development

My former boss used to say he thought I’d end up in management someday because “you like to develop people.”I’d always look at him quizzically because I didn’t really know what he saw or what he meant by that. Other than the obvious fact that I have 3 degrees from Northwestern University in Human Development and Social Policy, I didn’t get what he meant.But I think I do now. Because watching my son’s theater career has been the joy of… Read more