The "Wu Word" Blog
“You have trust issues,”
she spouted off bluntly to me.
I paused. I prided myself in coming up with a quick
response back, but, this time, I could not because what she said was the God’s
honest truth. The unsettling part was
that this person who said this to me was not a close family or friend. She wasn’t even an acquaintance. More often than not, it takes someone who is
not so emotionally attached and from the outside to really SEE you. Has that happened to you? Maybe strangers are not so strange.
I said slowly, “I admit
it. I have major trust issues. I put up an invisible wall, but who doesn’t? Who can you say has been free hurt, pain, and
rejection from another human being who, naturally, does not intend to inflict
harm? Can you blame me or anyone who is increasingly
suspicious and mistrustful of others in the times we are in? Can you blame anyone who becomes more jaded
and bitter in life? No one is REALLY
going to help you and be there for you at your worst unless they are a family
member, a close and rare and true friend who teeters on a family member status
and who genuinely cares about you or is a caring person, or if you pay them because
money talks. You know who cares about
you and who does not, and the only way you know that is when you are at your
worst rather than your best.”
She looked at me with big
and sympathetic eyes and said, “No, I get it.
And, that’s sad.”
Yes, it is sad. It is even sadder to say, but I trust people
less and less. Has anyone ever said to
you that you have major trust issues? I
rarely ever go to or ask anyone for anything and, when I do, it is because I
REALLY need help AND because I really trust the person. I’ve grown accustomed
to doing everything on my own and depending on myself first and foremost. People have commented that I am fiercely
independent, but only if they knew how difficult it is for me to ask for help
and how I only go to maybe one or two people for help excluding my parents. I probably go to my parents less and less for
help and as a last resort now as that comes with the territory of growing up and independence.
I am understanding now
just how incredibly limited and flawed we are as humans and how we are so
wrapped up with our own problems and issues that we cannot, will not, and, most
of all, are simply unable to even meet people’s certain needs and especially go
the extra mile. We all have different
needs, weakness, and vulnerabilities. You
never know what another person’s history and really what that person endured
and how the person was burnt or hurt.
Your reference point of meeting someone and getting to know them as at
that point and nothing beforehand. Everyone needs help and people do need people.
People also have different
gifts to give and varied purposes to serve in their live and in the lives of
others, and we learn who we can go to for what through the slow development of getting
to know each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
I have also become increasingly
selective with who I go to for what. You
really cannot expect anything from anyone.
I no longer believe in words, and only believe in actions. Anyone can say anything. Not just anyone can act upon easily spoken
words. I also understand how we become
more jaded and bitter of others after being hurt and rejected so many
times. With that said, as much as we
learn from being burnt and the biting truths of reality, I still hold on to
optimism, hope, and the goodness in people that I believe exists in everyone. Being burnt by the many makes me all the more
grateful for the few and far between who not only come through, but exceed
anything I could have ever hoped for or imagined. Perhaps I am naïve, but kindness, optimism,
and believing and seeing the best in people matters. All of this matters in the matter of
I can now understand how people
become increasingly jaded, mistrustful, and suspicious of others after being
burnt and hurt one too many times. Trust
is a precious and delicate beauty that grows and stretches over a long period
of time, yet it will take just one bump that can destroy and bring that
relationship down. Do you easily trust
others? Have you come to trust people
less and less as you have grown older and older? What are your weakness and vulnerabilities
that people know about you and have managed to come through to meet your needs,
or you vice versa? Who do you REALLY trust?
Keep smilin’ until we
Growing up in the Wu
household with a father who was once a chef at a Chinese restaurant in Canada,
I was exposed to REAL Chinese food.
However, I turned up my nose to such food. As an ABC (American-Born Chinese), the ONLY
Chinese food I craved and wanted was from the greasy hole-in-the-wall take-out
Chinese restaurant close to our red brick house. My menu was predictable: chicken with
broccoli, pork spare ribs, egg drop soup, and fluffy white steamed rice. I was also as ‘American’ as could be as I ate
with a fork and knife over a pair of ivory chopsticks and gorging on Velveeta
Mac N’ Cheese over a bowl of piping hot noodles. To make life easier for my dad, he did not
argue with me and just gave in to my very specific and limited taste
My persnickety taste buds
were forced to come to a halt in the summer of 1992 when I went to live with my
aunt and her family in Canada. In her sunlit
kitchen with a yellow canary that whistled while she prepped and cooked food, I
was exposed to live blue crabs, pink salmon, soya sauce and sesame oil, slivers
and slices of ginger, and other odd concoctions that I scrunched up my face in fear
and disgust. I made it clear that the
ONLY food I wanted my aunt to make was her signature spaghetti that was a
unique and tasty blend of saucy and spicy.
I still remember when my
aunt put a bowl of steaming rice and what looked like a pink blob to me in
front of my face. That pink blob turned
out to be salmon.
“I don’t want to try it,”
I whined with my arms crossed over my chest.
“How are you supposed to
know if you like or not like something until you try it?” my aunt asked me.
I paused and tried to come
up with a quick-witted response.
My aunt said, “You won’t
know until you try. Here, try.”
She gave me a pair of
chopsticks. I was 10-years-old and did
not even know how to use chopsticks. I
struggled to pick up the slippery fish.
I finally resorted to spearing a piece on the chopstick. I wrinkled my nose and tentatively bit into
the fleshy pink salmon drenched in fermented and black as ink soya sauce. Salty, chewy, fleshy and fatty….it was
absolutely delicious!!! My eyes lit up
like lights on a Christmas tree. It was
the most delicious piece of meat I have ever had. Not to mention that it was incredibly pretty
After that summer, I was
an adventuring risk-taker with food to try everything and anything. Gone were the days of typical and predictable
chicken and broccoli, spare ribs, and egg drop soup. In were the days of abalone, shark fin soup,
sea cucumbers jellyfish, pork belly, dumplings, fried rice, plump udon noodles,
bok choy, shrimp, hot chili sauce, and a vast array of flavors and tastes that
I was falling in love with. My father
and all my relatives were excited as I was psyched to be a guinea big. Bring on the experimentation!
Since then and with many other
experiences I lived through, I am bold and fearless to try anything and
everything. I was open to screwing up,
making mistakes, and flying to either take flight or fall flat on my face in
failures. We learn from our trials,
failures, mistakes, risks, errors, and experimentation in process. When I’ve fallen and fallen hard, I find
myself saying that at least I tried. At
least I know now. At least I’ll know
going forward to try not to repeat history and to make my future. My trying, learning, and knowing are my
successes. Of course, this is all easy to write down and I do not minimize the
feelings of crap, screw up, and mess up that I have and we all feel. I just do not want to live a limited life of
impossibilities; I want to live a limitless life of possibilities. My aunt’s words have stuck with me: “You won’t
know until you try.
There is a fine
balance of experimenting, taking risks, and trying even with the knowledge that
we could fail and fall hard and when we actually do fail. But, do we ever really fail if we tried? What is failure and what is success? Would you consider yourself a risk
taker? Are risk-taking and trying along
the same lines? When have you tried and
failed miserably, only to get back up again and try again until you got it
Keep smilin’ until we
It seems as though I am
attending more funerals and memorial services lately. Sure thing—I know by now that we all get
older and death is a part of life and birth.
Nonetheless, death has a much more different and devastating impact on
me now than when I was a little girl. When
another death is announced, my own mortality and the mortality of all the
people I love overcome me with such deep and penetrating contemplations and
June was particularly a
bad a month of death. In less than two
weeks, two people who had significantly impacted my life had died. One was a tragic, sudden, and
unexpected. The other, though expected,
was just as upsetting and breaking. It
was a time of deep remorse and reflection.
I attended one of the
memorial services and got that suffocating itch in the back of my throat that
resulted in fat tears rolling down my face and as though I may just explode
from such sadness. It did not help that
I was by myself, but familiar faces associated with the dearly departed wrapped
me up in warm hugs as we viewed pictures and reminisced about this person’s
life. For the other person that died, I
woke up in the middle of the night in a hot sweat with a deep desire to find
long-lost photos of her in her youth.
With these two people, I
thought about how I remembered them, how others remember them, and, most of
all, how did they want to be remembered? Would they be happy with how they have
been remembered and honored? Did they want to be remembered for their ‘roles’
they had almost half their lives as a parent and/or as a mentor? Did they want to be remembered for the money
they made or the time and energy they gave to care deeply about those they
loved and even strangers who could potentially or have become friends? Did they ever felt like they were never good
enough and had not accomplished what they sought out to or hoped to when
growing up into growing old? Did they
die feeling peace with their lives and themselves?
I think about the world
and times we live in and how we measure success and accomplishments with how
much money we make, a paying job, a place of our own, and having our own family
or children. I wonder if all these literal
‘things’ are how we want to be remembered?
In life, we will often get into dark places of a ‘rut’ of feeling we are
‘losers’ of not and never good enough and then fall into the clutches of our
own worst enemy and critic with comparison as the ultimate thief to our joy and
staying focused in the one life we must lead and live. I think we remember others for the immeasurable
and intangible through love of how they made us feel and the time and energy
they gave, or even through pain and hurt.
We remember and see public successes, but not and never private
struggles and all those times people may have felt inadequate and like
losers. We see their smiling and winsome faces and
all their ‘accomplishments’ on the surface, but not their tears or feelings and
thoughts of doubt. It is hard to be
We are truly our own
worst enemy and critic and there are many moments we feel like losers. We feel like we are never good enough and
what we did was never good enough. When
have you felt like a loser? Have you
ever questioned what have you accomplished?
How come accomplishment and success seems to come in forms of the
tangible materialism as money, a house/home, job, etc.? What are some of your public successes that
were laced with private struggles? How
do you wish to be remembered and honored?
Keep smilin’ until we
I am a planner. In fact, I would even say I am a
pre-planner. I am also an over thinker
and over analyzer. There have been so
many times I wished for a temporary off-switch to my brain. I have never made things easy or simple. I have never taken the easy way out. In fact, when there have been such easy
moments and processes, I was suspicious that this was “too good to be true.” Only in certain times is my abundantly hyped
brain quieted, particularly when my body melts and soaks up water when I swim,
when I write, when I cook/book and do anything food-related, when I am with my
closest family and friends, and, most recently, when I am with animals.
Growing up, I was never an
animal lover. Probably because I was
rarely exposed to animals. We never had
pets, mainly because I was immune suppressed and so there was an intense fear
of exposure to germs and foreign substances from animals. Keep away and I would be safe. The funny thing about the immune system is
keeping away ‘foreign’ can also weaken your immune system even more. We need to be exposed to the foreign and
uncertain to try to build up a stronger immune system, tolerance, strength of
character, and understanding. I am not
saying that those who are immune suppressed as myself should go out there and
be attacked by germs and the foreign, but I am saying that it is in small steps
and slow exposure that we can build up the strength and the long-term
I wish I could tell you what
was the catalyst to me deciding to volunteer at an animal shelter. I think it
was a combo catalyst of boredom and curiosity.
I fell in love with one cat after another, but kept putting it off
saying that I would finally bring home and rescue a kitty cat in June. In the meantime, the pre-planner in me went
into high gear with researching possible cat transmitted diseases, kitty litter
boxes, cat scratching posts, etc. The
months passed by and one by one, each cat I fell in love with was taken and
homed by another. It made me sad, but it
made me happy. It also made me learn
I asked the cat manager
time and time again: “How do you continue to love all these cats when you know
they will leave and you will lose them?”
She said: “I didn’t
lose. I loved. I love. The cats are going home to a better place to
receive and give love. How is that a loss?”
Love is knowing that you
will eventually lose or there will be a loss and it will hurt like hell and be
as risky as heck, but to keep on loving and risk-taking because a little love
goes a long way as the greatest gain.
I never ever saw myself
with a pet. A living and moving creature
in my comfortable and secure place.
Then, Ricky came in the
picture. Ricky was not a shelter
cat. On the contrary, he was a friend of
a friend. All his basic needs were met:
Food, Shelter, Kitty Litter, but the one thing that may be the greatest thing
he needed was love. In the two times
that I spent time with him before bringing him to Casa del Wu, he jumped in my
arms and stuck on to me like glue to curl up in a ball and soak up the lap and
love that I wasn’t sure I could give. But,
I’ve learned that you can always give love.
And, anyone or anything living and breathing from the humans that walk
on earth to the plants that sit in soil to the animals that roam are always
happy to receive love. We all need love.
I planned everything down
to the wire for Ricky’s arrival. I was
shocked how ‘easy’ it was and how the timing worked out perfectly for Ricky’s
arrival. Rather than joy and ease how everything
was falling into place so flawlessly, I was suspicious that this was way too
good to be true. Ricky thrived on the
planner in me without any behavioral issues at all by using his kitty litter,
gobbling up any food I put in front of him, curling up on my lap, playing with
toys, and not scratching one piece of furniture. What I didn’t plan was him keeping me awake
for the past week and particularly the two days meowing up a storm and taking
extra minutes and moments out of my time and day for cleanings and
feedings. In the first couple days, I was sleep deprived
and stressed with trying to get used to a new routine and combine it with my
old routine. The mental bully was
definitely out and about.
My well-seasoned cat
friends came to my rescue and chided me gently, “Shows you can plan and prepare
for everything, but there is so much you can’t plan for. It is really not so complicated, Mary. The
cat will tell you. Animals tell you even
more and honestly than humans do. The two
of you will get it. It is easy. It is easy to love once you are really
willing and in it to love, learn, and give.”
So, I’ve been trying to be
like Ricky. I’ve been trying to make it
easy. To be easy. To be simple. There are still times it is not so easy and
it sits with me that anything too overly easy and so immediate is not
worthwhile in the long-term. It is fine
balance of easy and complicated. As
humans, I think we tend to make more complications than simplicities from our
mind that can be the greatest bully or best friend. Animals are happy with the simple and
easy and can do and be just that. When have you made matters much
more complicated? When have you taken
the easy route? Was it worth it in the
end for you or did it mean even less or not as much? Do you tend to over think and make much more
complications than simplicities? Do you tend to over plan and did all the plans
you had fall into place with the unplanned coming in and totally throwing you
It is getting easier. Ricky is happy with the easy and simple of
food, shelter, a kitty litter box, and love.
I never thought an 8-pound furball could teach me so much about love, giving,
and easy. And, really, how easy and
uncomplicated everything really can be and is.
Keep smilin’ until we meet