The "Wu Word" Blog
“Do you know how to
I had to be around 9
or 10-years-old. I was wary. This question was from my first and closest
childhood friends who always pulled me on some new adventure and to some
mystical land that ignited fear, excitement, and curiosity. With her, I tried buttered lobster for the
first time, drank chalky bright pink Pepto Bismol after overeating junk food,
rode in a bright fire engine red convertible with hands up and then had to
stumble out of the car to puke, and sunk in the water after she shoved me in
because she said: “The only way to learn how to swim is if I push you in. You sink.
Or, you swim.”
Nearly drowned. Her stepfather
had to drag me out of the pool sopping wet, shaking, and sobbing.
She was a
mean-spirited bully, but I clung on to her because she treated me like I was
just like everyone else and not ‘different’ because of my health challenges
that hung over me. She brought out a
rush and risky rebel in me to see if I could survive and be the best in the
worst circumstances she threw at me. It
was always dares rather than truths with her.
cradled a deep and rich brown board with squares. Gingerly, she laid it on the table and placed
the intricately carved pieces on each square.
The pieces were beautiful works of art.
The only piece that was
recognizable was what looked like a horse.
“No,” I responded,
“How do you play?”
“I’m not really sure,
but my stepfather says it is the game of the minds. This is his chess set.”
I paused and looked
around her parents’ room. Her parents
were often nowhere to be found and her grandfather seemed to be the one to take
care of everyone and everything. “Are we
allowed to be in here?”
She stared at me like
I was stupid, and then taunted me, “We are just learning a new game. What are you scared of? ”
I met her gaze and
simply said, “Nothing. I’m not scared of
That day, I never learned
how to play chess. But, I was hooked. I
wanted to learn. What was this game? How could one game that my friend introduced
me to enthrall me so? How could 64 squares and 16 pieces pose such a challenge
with the desire to be conquered for hours on end?
Fast forward to the
last couple of years to new and real ‘friends’ in fulfillment and not only title who
finally taught me the basic moves of chess. I was grateful and hopeful that I would
finally win one game. Just one game.
That’s all I asked for. Time and time
again, they beat me. “Checkmate!” was
crowd with exuberance. Out of all the
board and card games that I had learned and eventually won, I could not win a chess
match. I did not even know why I wanted
so badly to win. I was not a competitive
person, but I certainly liked to be challenged and especially challenge
Well, this past week,
I finally resorted to a chess club that I happened to discover at one of the
local libraries. Four gentlemen that
ranged from ages 30-70 looked at me with intrigue when I walked in and sat down
to watch with intent and intrigue at them playing chess. They were playing “blitz chess,” meaning that
they only had 10 minutes to make a move. The pressure was on. Their eyes, hands, fingers, and, most of all,
minds zipped at lightning speed as each perfectly and beautifully carved chess
piece was moved.
Barely looking at me,
each gentleman told me their views on chess:
§ “Chess is like
life. In a battle or when threatened,
you are forced to make a move to defend, protect, offend, retreat, or, most of
all, sacrifice, for the greater good.”
§ “Chess is like a
dance. The board is the dance
floor. The pieces are the people. Make sure all your pieces of moving. Make sure all your pieces or active and
§ “The most important
pieces that we do not give credit to are the pawns. They mean EVERYTHING at the endgame.”
I was exhilarated,
curious, and scared to even try to play chess with one of these gentlemen. They were clearly highly advanced. An 8-year-old girl who had competed in
tournaments ended up playing a match again me.
Her nails were a midnight sparkly
blue and she chewed loudly on pink wads of bubble gum. She ended up letting me win.
I heard my childhood ‘friend’
taunt me in my mind as I silently observed these gentleman in their chess dance
and ensued in my chess match with this 8-year-old girl: “What are you scared of?”
Thinking of her made
me think of other people in my life who had hurt or challenged me and, most of
all, how I had responded. This goes for
all of us. There are people who come
into our lives who challenge, dare, and even hurt us, forcing a response. People and their words and actions will make you
cry, feel like you are less than and as though you will break, question, and
maybe even believe all the belittling. We
crave and learn from the kindness of others, but we learn just as much and more
from the ‘bad’ role models and about ourselves with how we respond. There are the people in life who test us with
the worst to find a way to be the best.
Who has hurt you to have to rise above and play the game of life just
like the game of chess of ongoing learning, defending, moving, retreating, or fighting? How have you responded/reacted? Do you
retreat and hide? Do you confront to
Life is a game. Make your move. Checkmate.
Keep smilin’ until we meet
In about June 1995
and about two months shy of my official 13-year-old official crowning teenage
milestone, I had a rejection of my second kidney transplant. Just when I had
hoped and believed that everything in my life was maybe back on track, all came
crashing down. Leading up to my second
kidney transplant, everything seemed to have gone wrong. My health problems were at its worst with me
on crutches and using a wheelchair as needed and I was on the roller coaster
ride of ready to confront my fear of living my life on a machine that my first
kidney transplant could no longer live up to.
My family had fallen apart: my mom had left by then, my sister was at
college and a complete stranger to me, my Dad was juggling the single parent
role, and the introduction of a new woman that my Dad was befriending was
slowly coming into our lives (this lady would later be my Stepmom). The rejection was the final straw that broke
the camel’s back, and I was too self-centered and self-absorbed to even find
the beauty and blessings in receiving the gift of life of my second kidney
transplant that I was sure I was on the brink of losing. So, I did what any prepubescent
puberty-induced preteen did.
I completely and
utterly lost it.
Not in the way that
you would probably think. Rather than
scream, cry, and go hysterical with explosive angsty teenage anger, I went
numb. I had nothing left in me. I hit complete rock bottom. Fury brewed and boiled furiously inside me on
the edge of explosion because all I could hear in this dark abyss of a place
that thumped mentally torturously at me was: “Why me?”
I think all of us, at
some point or another (and multiple points at that), reach the very end of our
rope, wander lost, and even enter a dark places in our life where we fight and
struggle to dig our way out and be free again.
Anger is one letter short of danger.
Despair and depression are drowning.
The mind and the depths of you can be your best friend, worst enemy, and
pulverizing bully. I was convinced that
I had all the problems in the world. No
one cared. No one’s problems could
After a week of heavy
steroids and infusions, my second kidney transplant had survived and has thrived
for 21 years and counting. In all these
years that I’ve been blessed to have these baby beanies, I’ve seen how life
appears for the majority: the marriage,
the children, the well-paid job, the grandchildren, retirement, a house, and
what seems to be the rather routine daily monotonies. The health problems typically come for the
later and the older instead of for the younger and even youngest as it was for
me. There have been many times that I
have wistfully stood on the sidelines as the minority I know I am, feeling that
the grass was greener on the other side and wishing for the surfaced simplicity
of the majority. The simple things that
people take for granted and seem to have so effortlessly, I have always
somewhere deep inside wanted. Like
learning to ride a bike. Like falling in
love. Like belonging and even getting in
a little bit of trouble when I was a teenager.
I will never have a baby shower.
All these majority milestones, I will not have. I’ve accepted and welcomed that there is a
different calling, plan, and purpose for me and that, somewhere along these 21
years, I’ve realized that underneath the surface, people have stuff. Lots of stuff. Heavy baggage. Multiple matching sets of baggage. Perhaps even owning all the conveyer belts of
the entire baggage claim department in an airport. Yes, there will always be those who SEEM to
have it better. Then, there is always
someone who has it bad. Finally, there
is always someone who has it even worse.
I was given a great
gift upon this realization: Gratitude.
Gratitude for everything and everyone I was blessed with that can be
gone. Life is like that, you know. Life can be going as smooth sailing as ever
when, suddenly, there will be brutal storms only to turn everything upside
down. Just like that. Blink of an eye. Drop of a hat. Life is a journey and it takes those wicked
storms and darkest of times to climb out of to be free and happy that is found
within and not from anyone or anything.
People would never
guess about the miserable, negative, and selfish person I was. People would never guess about the wistful
wishes I have to be like the majority every now and then. People see me as the positive and perky with
a bright smile on my face. This is
because people do not really know my ‘stuff’ until they get to know me and how
all that ‘stuff’ brought me to who I am now and will be. That is because we never really reveal our
‘stuff’ until we are at a place of complete trust and comfort with
seems ‘normal’ until you really get to know someone and their ‘stuff.’
Everyone has crosses
to bear, battles to fight, and experiences encountered and endured that it is
not our place to judge, blame, or assume the worst. While it may always look on the surface that
someone has it better and that we may even want and wish for what this someone
has, we never know what lies beneath.
We all have ‘stuff.’ We all go
through ‘stuff.’ We do not see the stuff on the outside, nor will we ever feel
what the other is going through on the inside.
Maybe we will never see them.
Life is not and never for the weak. What on the surface have you seen in
others that you perhaps wanted because that ‘stuff’ seemed simple? What is YOUR ‘stuff’?
Keep smilin’ until we meet
In the last few
months, the majority of my dreams are about houses, rooms, opulent and ornate
home decorations, and, most of all, furniture that I am rearranging only for
the furniture to return to the placement that I was dissatisfied with in the
beginning. Anyone who knows me even the
slightest knows how intrigued and enamored I am with the sleeping time dream
world left for interpretation when awake as well as making the literal dreams
and goals I have in my mind a reality.
Well, last night, I
had yet another dream about houses and furniture and, in particular, a pale
blue soft sofa with faded pink and white lily prints. This
was a real couch from when I was a little girl.
I remember my tiny feet sinking into the sofa when I tried to stand up tall
and without falling to sing into my yellow toy microphone when I was a little
girl. I woke up remembering that couch
and then thinking of my mother.
That simple pale blue
sofa was the first out of many household items that my mother had removed and
took with her when she walked out the door on our family. I still remember walking into a nearly empty
home with all the familiar furniture that I grew up with all gone.
I cried to my dad: “Why
did she have to take everything when she was leaving everything and everyone?”
Of course, my dad did
not have an answer. Of course, my mother
was gone. The thing is that furniture
can be replaced. People cannot. Especially your own mother.
A couple years after
my mother left, I finally bluntly asked my mother these three burning
questions: “Why did you take everything like the furniture with you? Why did you leave? Why did you have an affair?”
Without missing a beat,
she gave me one answer to three questions, “The devil made me do it.”
It was right then and
there I made an internal decision and promise about truth versus lies: “I would
tell and receive truth no matter how much it may hurt, because I rather the
real that contains hurt and pain than the false to feel good and only be lied
Fast forward to over
twenty years later when my half-sister gazed at me with her big brown eyes and asked
me: “What happened with mom and you? I
want to know the truth someday. I have a
right to know.”
Truth? Where would I start? Where could I possibly begin? Did she really have the right to know, and was
it me that had to tell her? I could have told her every single truth that
came from lies. I could have told her everything. And, I do mean EVERYTHING. But, when I looked at her so vulnerable and
innocent, I saw myself when I was a little girl asking my parents about truth
from their mistakes and from lies, and felt this strange sense of a protective
pull in me. I did not have the right nor
was it my responsibility to crush her and, even worse, her relationship with
our mother. It would not be right of me
to hurt her, no matter how much I had been hurt by our mother. It was not my place to tell her the truth.
So, I told her that
and then concluded, “If a truth is meant to come out then it will.”
Who I was when I was
10-years-old about telling the truth no matter how much it hurt to the people I
loved the most is now who I am becoming through what I am learning about truth
and lies. Over the years, I have had a
roller coaster ride of experiences that have put me in places of unasked and
unwanted truths and lies to myself as well as to the people I love and care
about. Reactions to my honest opinions have been that
I am a human frying pan or blunt thumbtack, resulting in my own understanding
that people usually want to hear what they want to hear and not listen to the
truth because it hurts too much. I’ve
learned in life with people to not to share your ‘truthful’ opinion until you
are asked and most wish for a sounding board and to be listened to without
judgment and with an open mind and ears.
I also think that people most often know the truth but it is too hard to
face it, say it, digest it, and, especially, accept it and be true to yourself.
Over twenty years
later and my determination about truth versus lies is that it is more important
to be kind than to be right—even if that means withholding the truth for the
greater good. If nothing good is to come
out from the truth and there will only be hurt and harm, then what is the point
to telling the truth? Have you ever been
in this situation of the weight of the world on you and keeping quiet to try to
be the better and bigger person for that greater good?
‘Truth’ possess many
different perceptions and angles. What is your truth may not necessarily be the
truth of another. Do we see our truth as
we want it? Or do we see truth as it
really is? When do we actually tell the
‘truth’? Do we tell ONLY when asked for
it? What truths have you had to face
and tell others, or, even harder, perhaps keep to yourself for the greater
good? Is NOT telling the truth the same
as lying? Are lies ever OK?
Keep smilin’ until we meet