“What are you?”

I am Chinese and Canadian-European (though to be honest I’m not sure if I marked that or the “American European” box on the New Zealand census last week) with both American and Canadian citizenship. Oddly, moving to New Zealand has made me feel more culturally Chinese.

But there are so many other ways that we identify ourselves. People like me often get asked the question I’ve used as the title to this post… which, incidentally, is not usually considered respectful, in case you were wondering 🙂

Americans love to ask “what do you do?” as if that is the only way to define who someone is… and that’s a question I also find really limited.

How do YOU identify?


Getting out of my own way

For years I told myself I wasn’t cut out for a 9-5 job. When I ditched that story, I found a job that ultimately inspired me to move across an ocean. As of last week, this has officially been my longest stretch of employment ever (not counting the years I worked for myself) and I’m not planning on leaving any time soon!

I mentioned Rachel Meyer’s piece, You Are Not Your Story, for Down Under Yoga. I just adore Rachel’s writing; check it all out (and sign up for her e-newsletter!) on her website!


From Scratch: Heart’Heart

Last night Scott and I had the immense privilege of witnessing Heart’Heart, one of six sold-out Auckland Art Festival performances from the musical group From Scratch.

This Radio New Zealand video includes the first part of my favorite piece of the evening:


I really appreciate all the things that other people’s sharing of their creativity brings out in my own! Some things that have come up for me, both during and since the show:

  • What a joy it is to be part of something larger than ourselves! (I felt that vicariously through their performance.)
  • It is such a treat to witness the magic that occurs as the result of both individual mastery at a craft, and dedicated practice as a group.
  • Thank goodness there are institutions that fund exhibitions+performances such as this (egad, I can’t imagine trying to fund such a thing)!
  • While I’m excited to be putting myself out there with the vlog, I do have a sense that I need to further hone my skills so I package up my own work in a way that will make me truly proud. Working on it 🙂

From Scratch has played all over the world, though I’m not sure how much they’re touring these days? If you have a chance to see them, I hope you will!


There are many truths: on multiple perspectives and (too many?) modes of communication

Whatever it is that I’m tapped into right now reminds me a LOT of a similar period I went through back in 1998 (dropped out of University; went to Australia to chart my OWN path; “discovered” art symbols God yoga Buddhism and so many other things that remain very important in my life…)

I still have lot of questions about how to make correspondence work in an era when we have too many communication choices. And I’m still hoping you’ll interact with me via this YouTube channel!

You can read more about the Paradox of Choice and the actual details of the jam sampling study here; I didn’t quite get the details right during the recording.


It’s alive: My first vlog (aka an invitation to collaborate)

Per my last post about how nobody ever reads YouTube descriptions, here’s the description in most of its glory (I took out bits that are irrelevant in this context):

Dear friends: I miss you… and yet my life is so much better without social media. (“But YouTube is also a form of social media!” “I know, I’m embracing the contradiction!”). Can we figure out a way to transcend time zones and busy schedules so we can connect and collaborate around the BIG, JUICY STUFF that’s beyond what can happen via social media? I hope so!

You can sign up for my e-newsletter here.

And here’s a link to my very awesome brother’s Instagram account, where he showcases his very awesome life.

Also a note – just because Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat don’t work FOR ME doesn’t mean they might not do wonders for you! I don’t mean to judge anyone who finds that these platforms do in fact improve your lives. And I’m still hoping you’ll join me here somehow 🙂

Tech details: Continue reading


“I don’t know if I have the guts to put myself on the line for things that I completely recognize I might be wrong about.”

I’ve been thinking a ton lately about how to put myself “out there” more. Start a vlog, for real this time (the one I was going to launch at work has been put on the back burner… again)? Write another (gasp) book?

And also wondering if it’s possible to promote whatever I’m putting out there in a way that doesn’t seem arrogant, or like I think I have the answers, or risks my flying too close to the sun and melting my wings hubris lightning bolts vultures etc etc… AND also keeps me accountable to a higher purpose, rather than sucking me into the corrupt, or even just “fashionable,” version of power that so often seems to take over when people start gaining momentum.

(I really, really want to dig into life coaching as an example of this, particularly in light of this Quartz Obsession piece, but I’m trying to focus on the positive here!)

As I seek role models who have built platforms for their quirky selves and/or ideas in ways that don’t make me cringe, I have grown more and more a fan of Hank Green. Latest case in point: the description for this video (you’ll have to click through to the video’s YouTube page in order to read it).

Wow, EVEN HANK grapples with how to handle (and I’m assuming, not become similar to):

…people who figure out how to capture [a certain type of] energy [that you should read his description to learn more about] for their own gain and do not consider the responsibility that their power brings, or think that they are righteous when they are in fact leaning into culturally destructive ideas.

And: how can we balance the desire to offer some sort of insight into the things we observe without becoming an asshole, and even more complicated, how can we become ever more compassionate toward the full range of humanity without getting attacked for not hating on the people or things “everyone” loves to hate Continue reading


What does the American flag symbol currently represent?

My friend Annie recently mentioned a grocery trip during which her daughter insisted upon wearing her American flag dress. “What does the American flag symbol currently represent?” she asked. “In my opinion, it’s ignorance and greed at best. What can we do each day to resurrect the pillars this county stands on? We’re so much better than this.”

Annie: I hear you! I don’t claim to have any answers, but I love this question, particularly as an American abroad at this moment in history. I also love that children, like your daughter, aren’t caught up in the outer OR inner turmoil.

To further the conversation, I’ve just dug up this article I wrote some years ago for the Bolinas Hearsay (then my local newspaper). If you don’t want to read the whole thing, at least scroll down to the Wendell Berry poem at the bottom!


The Psychedelic Seniors: StuArt and friends

A bit of context for those of you unfamiliar: Bolinas is a town that takes it’s July 4th celebrations Verrrrrrry Seriously. It’s easily the biggest celebration of the year, drawing tourists from far and wide for the parade, a showcase for small-town agrarianism, creative genius, and a heavy dose of progressive politics. The day also features a tug-of-war between Bolinas and Stinson, the small town across the lagoon channel.


Bolinas women about to win the tug-of-war against Stinson 2015

I almost used the tug-of-war metaphor to represent the place we find ourselves in today, as citizens of countries and as humans with hearts, but as Annie says, “we’re so much better than this!” What about something along the lines of… let’s forego sides and ALL take up the rope and use it as a tool to achieve some shared goal? I want to stay optimistic, as angry as I am. Tonight I’m joining a class on Buddhism, social change, and non-violent action. I am curious to see what tools present themselves, and hope to report back soon.


Bolinas Hearsay, July 2011

On the afternoon of July 5th 2010, I was wandering up from the beach on Wharf Road. I followed the stars and stripes painted in red, white, and blue along the road, beaming at the memory of watching them magically appear a day earlier behind the tractor during the parade, our latest gift from the always-inspiring, always-surprising Gospel Flat Farmer-artist-provocateurs.

Just then, Mickey and Sam Murch themselves drove up in the farm truck. Still grinning, I told them that they – the farmers and their art – were the highlight of my Fourth of July!

But Sam’s look was somber. “Some people complained to [name omitted]. We’re here to clean up,” he told me, nodding toward the pressure washer and lengths of hose in the back of the truck. “Apparently people aren’t necessarily mad that we painted on the road – it’s that they don’t want to look at American flags.” Continue reading


Looping back around: music, memory, and meeting Scott

Every time Scott puts Wild Nothing on:

I remember that I had invited him (via the old-and-inferior OKCupid messaging system) to check out Bombay Bicycle Club at the Warfield as a first date.

As it turned out, neither of us ended up going to that show. We did meet in person to see Zakir Hussein at SF Jazz Center the following weekend, easily one of the best dates, much less first dates, I’d ever been on…

…but it was too late. I ignored his texts for a couple days. My stomach knotted with the decision I’d been mulling over, I called to tell him I had chosen to focus my energy into a different (also brand new) relationship.


There’s much more to say, of course, about all the things that happened between then and now. But this afternoon we’re checking out the visuals from that Bombay Bicycle Club tour and trying to figure out the best way to get the album box set to our home in New Zealand.



Becklectric Fail

So disappointed with the new Beck album.

But don’t you think his Dreams – Colors Mix:

…has more than just a little of the Electric Feel motif going on?


Inverness Almanac: a biased review from a contributor

The first volume of the Inverness Almanac moved me on a number of levels. The publishers, a group that coalesced around a dear friend of mine, curated such a delicious collection of photographs and drawings and writings and maps and recipes and seasonal markers! And then they pulled it all together into a stunningly beautiful package, a book that is a work of art in and of itself.


I had been visiting West Marin since before my birth, appreciating its topography and ecology since I’ve been a conscious human, and living there for years when they released Volume 1. And yet the sense of place conveyed within this Almanac opened my eyes to my surroundings in a completely different way. It was as if my powers of observation had been magnified. Everything seemed different, more luminous, containing so much more to discover if I could sit still long enough — or return frequently enough — to receive it.

That first Almanac also shook awake my writer’s muscle. I found myself unable to pass through the landscape without composing Continue reading