A Hidden Story: My Mental Health Journey

May is Mental Health Awareness month.

I grew up watching someone I love dearly struggle with mental illness and even to this day refuses to get help due to the stigma. That someone is my mom.

Growing up, I witnessed troubling patterns in my parents’ relationship; my dad’s lack of empathy and my mom’s constant emotional turmoil and their attempts to resolve their conflicts with angry outbursts towards each other. My mom also grew up in a broken home where her mom walked out on her family, and I always knew she struggled emotionally with that trauma all her life. I was always told growing up that mental illness meant you were crazy and there’s nothing you can do about it, which is a big stigma in Asian culture.

Because of this stigma, my mom never got any help in her early adult life to help manage the trauma she experienced. She continues to refuse help because she’s afraid to be labeled as ‘crazy.’ It eventually caught up to her; she started having frequent mental breakdowns and outburst episodes. She’s been hospitalized twice and have had mini strokes that has now altered her behavior and increased the severity of her mental illness. I saw her happiness fade, her personality dim and her social circle shrink away. Our conversations became limited to reminiscing about past memories as well as the traumas she’s experienced in her childhood, and the growing conspiracy theories she’s been reading online.

I, too, grew up struggling with my mental health in my adolescence and early adult years. Not only did I struggle embracing my heritage and family life, but I also lived in the shadow of the stigma. I was emotionally unstable, always very anxious, and have angry outbursts when issues could not be resolved the way I expected. I am very distant to others, but also desperately searching for companionship. I’ve struggled in silence for years, but I don’t want to continue enabling the mental health stigma and don’t want to stay silent anymore.

It was not until these past years that I was able to start breaking through my barriers and began accepting the cards I was dealt with. I made significant progress after I moved out of my parents’ world and into my own. One of the things I’ve discovered that has been therapy to my soul is being able to travel internationally. By being immersed in other countries’ cultures, history and language; I started to finally acknowledge the scars from my childhood, my vulnerabilities, view the world and my surroundings in a more positive light and accept that I may have a genetic disposition to mental illness. But, I don’t underestimate my strength to overcome anymore. By exploring new places and checking off bucket items, it gave me a sense of renewal and hope that I could be whoever I choose to be. Only until a month ago, I took another step towards my healing and started talking to a therapist about my issues. It has been a difficult work-in-progress, but I know I am slowly healing and overcoming obstacles each day.

For those who have been struggling like me, please don’t be afraid to seek help and know that I understand exactly what you’re going through. 🙂

To Be Perfectly Imperfect with Language

While skimming through Pinterest one day, I came across this beautifully written excerpt of the benefit of knowing other languages and it reminded me of the motivation on why I started learning in the first place. To be perfectly honest, I don’t have a God-given talent for languages.. at all. I was born into Mandarin Chinese; but I would say that I am the most proficient in the English language as I moved to America when I was three years old. I’ve taken Spanish classes all throughout high school and college and started taking French classes in 2019, but I wouldn’t say I’m ‘fluent’ in any of those. Although I lack fluency in those languages, I have experienced the building of bridges and the unexpected friendships with people in other countries that I will cherish for the rest of my life.

One of my memorable experiences was when we visited Normandy (France) back in June 2019 for the 75th anniversary of D-Day event. I had just started beginner French classes that year and I was anxiously awaiting the opportunity to use the language. For those who know me, I’m a perfectionist so I knew the opportunity would unexpectedly spring up at me and I wanted to be as best prepared as possible (which is not how any of that works). I would watch Brian casually stir up conversations with the cab drivers while stumbling on words that he did not know and secretly wished I was as brave as him when speaking another language in real life. Surprisingly, the cab drivers responded to us favorably and one even gave us a discount for the ride!

We walked around Caen on one of the days to explore the city and to visit some of the shops downtown. The entire town of Caen was decorated with the American, Canadian and British flags to celebrate the anniversary of D-Day event. I was starting to get hungry and we saw a small Vietnamese restaurant and decided to stop to have some lunch before we continued our exploration. The restaurant was owned by a French-Vietnamese couple; and I could tell the husband kept looking over at us with interest. He eventually walked over to us and asked ‘Chinois?’ He had asked me if I was Chinese. I was overjoyed that I actually understood what he had asked me in French! His wife quickly shooed him away telling him to leave us alone so we could finish eating.

We could tell that he was yearning to talk further with us, so we started a conversation with him after we paid for the meal. We learned that he was half Chinese and half French and his wife was Vietnamese, and he had been taking classes to learn Mandarin Chinese. We stayed another 45 minutes even after the restaurant closed for their mid-afternoon break talking to them about Caen, the D-Day event, their life in France, and how they wished to visit New York City someday. When we struggled with speaking French, we would switch over to speaking Mandarin to continue our conversation. At last, we had to say our goodbyes and wished them well as we continued our exploration of the Caen.

The best people I’ve met in my life are always the experiences I took a chance on, that I never expected to meet and at the places I never expected to end up at. I still smile when thinking of the time when we were at the train station in Naples (Italy) trying to get help from someone to find which train to board to get to Pompeii and barely knowing any Italian. We met so many helpful people along the way on that day. From the Italian train station worker who wanted to be helpful and struggled to understand what we were asking to the passenger (who did not know any English) on the train who reached out to the passenger sitting next to me (who he knew spoke some English) to ask her to make sure we were not lost. I can’t even count the number of times where language has brought a memorable experience or a friendship with a stranger.

So I agree, we should learn languages because language is the only thing worth knowing even poorly.

Exploring New Places Virtually: So Close, Yet So Far Away

I’m not very big on Valentine’s Day and would usually prefer a nice dinner, and that’s it. But, I got the best surprise for Valentine’s Day this year.

One of my best friends reached out to my husband to tell him about Amazon Explore and urged him to purchase a virtual city tour for Valentine’s Day for me. Obviously, I learned these details afterwards. I suppose it’s evident that I’ve been struggling with not being able to travel internationally due to the pandemic, but it makes me smile that my friends and my husband understands me completely.

So what is Amazon Explore? It is a site where you can sign up for a live, virtual one-on-one sightseeing and/or cooking experience from all over the world. Each session is booked directly with a local tour guide who lives in the city and is about $10-$100+ depending on the location. You can see and interact (audio) with the tour guide, but they can only hear you and they cannot see you. You can even take screen shots and interact with other locals onsite virtually if you wanted to.

The one my husband booked on Amazon Explore was the ‘Royal Berlin: a virtual visit to two of Berlin’s most famous squares’ through the tour company Essence of Berlin. This was a 1-hour tour with our guide Sam who virtually walked us through the neighboring Gendarmenmarkt and Bebelplatz squares while pointing out the landmarks and explaining their significance. Sam actually grew up in Scotland and relocated to Berlin to study at the Humboldt University of Berlin. One of the things I’ve missed about traveling was meeting and talking with locals, so we took the opportunity to get to know Sam better.

Konzerthaus Berlin

We started our virtual tour in the Gendarmenmarkt square in front of the Konzerthaus concert hall. Sam pointed out the German cathedral on our left and the Huguenots (French) cathedral to our right. The Friedrick Schiller statue was standing in the middle of the square. Sam explained that this square and the cathedrals were built back in the 1700s under King Friedrick William after issuing the Edict of Potsdam to allow French Protestants to relocate and flee from religious persecution in France.

Next, Sam strolled across the street and into another one of Berlin’s most attractive squares, Babelplatz. My mouth dropped in awe as I gazed into my computer screen of the beautiful buildings and their architecture. Several well-known buildings such as the Staatsoper Unter den Linden (Berlin State Opera House), Alte Bibliothek (library) and St. Hedwig’s Cathedral were located in this square. When Friedrick the Great expanded the Prussia empire, he decided to build St. Hedwig’s Cathedral for the people to express religious tolerance in the land.

The most memorable (and unforgettable) landmark we saw was the Book Burning Memorial in the center of Bebelplatz. On May 10th, 1933, a group of the Nazi German Student Union and their professors burnt books that were written by authors that they believed the ideologies were against Nazism. Sam also pointed out a glass plate in the ground; he said to look closely and see what was underground. There was a white empty bookshelf underground beneath the glass plate. I immediately felt the emotion and stood stunned while I processed the symbolism of this memorial. There were also two bronze plates on the ground with the following inscription in German:

That was but a prelude;
where they burn books,
they will ultimately burn people as well.
Heinrich Heine 1820

As we near the end of our virtual city tour, Sam pointed out the German royal palace shining brightly in front our view. He said that this was a reconstructed building of the royal palace and has now been made into a museum. The reconstruction was completed in 2020 and was supposed to open to the public last year. Unfortunately it was not able to due to the pandemic, but we could take a virtual tour online.

Finally, we had to say goodbye and give Sam our thanks for taking us through this tour. Maybe I’m a bit deprived from travel, but this has been one of the best experiences I’ve had for the past year! It really made me feel like I was there in Berlin and walking through the city squares with Sam.

This experience was the breath of fresh air that I needed and I hope to see Berlin in person someday.

Travel Destinations: Historic Jamestowne, Virginia

One of my most memorable trips was to Historic Jamestowne and the Settlement in Virginia. I’ve been fascinated with Jamestown ever since I was a child and this destination has been sitting idly on my bucket list waiting for its turn. With our 3rd wedding anniversary and the pandemic situation, my husband and I wanted to do something special and decided to do a trip closer to home.

As the history books would tell us, Jamestown is America’s first permanent colony with settlers arriving in April 1607. The expedition was sponsored by a company of investors in the Virginia Company of London who were hoping to reap profits from the new colony. The first 104 settlers set sail in December 1606 on three ships, the Susan Constant, Godspeed and Discovery, from London across the Atlantic Ocean to the new land. They brought over the English language, customs, religious beliefs and government which created the foundations of the settlement and later played a large role in American history.

Entrance to Historic Jamestowne

We decided to first visit the Jamestown Settlement Museum in the morning which was where the re-creations of the town’s buildings, three ships and the Powhatan’s Paspahegh Town were located. The museum was very interactive and definitely put the settlement in perspective. We were able to walk through the re-created buildings and watch the demonstrations of the tour guides who talked about daily life (food, cooking and jobs) in the Jamestown Settlement.

One of the guides described the rough conditions the settlers experienced when they first arrived to the new colony; the men slept outside for the first several months and spent working all day to build the fort and shelter for the residents. They later realized that the land they claimed was swampy and clean water was sparse especially when the temperature started getting warmer.

Afterwards, we headed to the Historic Jamestowne location which was a 5 minute drive from the Settlement. We walked down the pathway leading to the entrance of the Historic Jamestowne and saw the Memorial Church and the Church Tower to our left and John Smith’s statue standing in the center of the outline fort in front of us. I was so amazed that I was actually standing in the original triangular-sized Jamestown fort built up by these settlers.

The 17th Church Tower that sits next to the Memorial Church is the oldest remaining structure from Jamestown. From the Historic Jamestowne website, the Preservation Virginia acquired the Church Tower in 1893 and built the adjacent Memorial Church using the brick foundations similar to what was used in the 17th century.

Life in Jamestown was not easy. Half of the people died from disease in the Summer/Fall of 1607. And, by winter of 1607, there were only 38 people left in the settlement. In early 1608, more settlers arrived in Jamestown and eventually women and children started arriving to the colony. As Jamestown grew, the settlers began to have more conflicts with the Powhatan Indians for territory and food supply. As their relationship with the Powhatan Indians declined and winter approaching in 1609, the settlers began to experience food shortages due to the siege led by the Powhatan Indians. This later became what historians call the ‘The Starving Time’ which eventually led the settlers to resort to eating anything they can find and even cannibalism. Click here to read about Jane – https://historicjamestowne.org/archaeology/jane/

As we continued our tour through Jamestown, we walked towards the open field where we saw thin crosses standing in the grass next to the fort’s wall. Archaeologists had excavated several burial shafts of the early Jamestown settlers and there was even a young boy’s body that was recorded as ‘slaine’ by the Powhatan Indians. We also saw the Chancel’s burials nearby where archaeologists discovered four burials for the leaders in Jamestown: the Reverend Robert Hunt, Captain Gabriel Archer, Sir Ferdinando Wainman and Captain William West.

Ongoing archaeology

Jamestown always had a special place in my heart as a child and today as an adult. My family and I have one thing in common with the settlers; it’s that we both gave up everything in our homelands and took a huge risk to immigrate to a new place with so many unknowns. Obviously, I was not inflicted with disease, starvation or got attacked which I 100% agree they had it a lot worse! Nonetheless, I am very grateful for the settlers for their bravery and for taking a big risk to start over in a new land. They established the foundations of America and the symbol of freedom, and gave hope to people everywhere that they too can achieve their dreams.

5 Best Reasons To Own A Corgi

Gatsby & Daisy

With travel at a halt right now, my husband and I are spending a lot (and I mean A LOT) of time together with our Corgis and taking them on small adventures closer to home. So, I am dedicating a post to tell you about our two best friends!

We have two Pembroke Welsh Corgis named Gatsby and Daisy. Gatsby is a 5 year old red-headed tri-colored Corgi and he’s my little royal superstar. And, Daisy is a 3 year old red Corgi with snack time as her favorite time of the day, and she is daddy’s little girl. They’re both full of energy and can be a handful at times, but they bring so much joy in our lives!

In the way of background – There are two types of Corgis: the Pembroke Welsh Corgi and the Cardigan Welsh Corgi. The most popular is the Pembroke Welsh Corgi which is most well-known by Queen Elizabeth II. Welsh legend says the fairies and elves of the land would use Corgis to pull their coaches to travel through the land and you can even see the saddle marks on their bodies. The Pembroke and Cardigan Welsh Corgis each have their own distinct color patterns and markings, and even some differences in personality. If you are thinking about getting a Corgi, I recommend checking out the AKC website for more information on Corgis and reputable breeders. So…what are the best reasons to own a Corgi?

  1. Corgis are wonderful family dogs and companions.

I tell people that Gatsby and Daisy are our fur children and we’re their PAWrents. They’re super loyal and always strive to please their humans. Since we have been working at home, our pups keep a close eye on us. We often find them laying next to our chair while we work or staring at us intensely with puppy eyes hoping we would give them a piece of our snack.

2. Corgis are your own personal home alarm system and/or guard dog

Understandably, they can become very protective of their family. They do not mess around when it comes to their home and humans’ security. Even package deliveries are announced. Gatsby and Daisy alerts us daily when the UPS and/or Fedex truck has arrived in the neighborhood. They like to stay in the same room and rarely lets us out of their sight. If you were approaching our front door and didn’t know they were Corgis on the other side of the door, you would think they were two large dogs barking and ready for invasion. We rarely use our apartment installed security system!

3. Corgis need a routine and can help you stick with yours

Training and discipline are a must in your Corgi’s day-to-day lives. Our Corgis have also trained my husband to wake up at 7AM every morning (including weekends) to feed them breakfast. And they only wake up my husband because they know mom needs her beauty sleep. I find it hilarious, but my husband does not. Gatsby and Daisy also helps us stay active even during pandemic quarantine times. We try to take them on two 30+ minutes long walks each day and to the dog park when the weather is nice. Ohh be careful how loud you say ‘doggie parks’ and/or ‘doggie day camp!’ Their ears perk up and all eyes are on you!

4. Corgis are outgoing social dogs and make friends wherever they go.

Gatsby and Daisy are very social dogs in our neighborhood and at the dog park. To be honest, it’s how my husband and I have made wonderful friendships with our neighbors. There’s been so many times where someone would drive by as we’re taking a walk, roll down their windows and yell ‘I love your Corgis!’ or ‘your Corgis are so cute!’ They’re pretty used to the celebrity treatment, I suppose. What people don’t know is that Corgis can also be very sassy. They’ll tell you what they think if they disagree with you.

Not to brag, but they’ve even won the Pet Contest at our apartment complex!

5. Corgis are fun-sized and adaptable to their environments

Corgis are full of personality in small fluffy bodies. They’re small enough to fit into any living situation (apartment, house, etc) and are adaptable to their environments especially if you travel or move around a lot. We currently live in a 2-bedroom (1100 sq. ft) apartment with our two Corgis and it is just right for our little family. I also want to put out there that Corgis do need a lot of exercise as they are prone to get overweight quickly if their diet is not carefully monitored. Obesity can lead to hip joint problems and other health issues as they get older.

Here you go, these are my 5 best reasons to get a Corgi! If you have any questions you would like to ask me about Corgis, let me know in the comments below!

Farewell 2020. Hello 2021.

Happy New Year!

2020 has been the most challenging year for all of us and it’s definitely given me my share of tribulations. But, I don’t want to dwell on the negatives of this year. Instead, I have also gained some valuable lessons from this year:

  1. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health. It’s okay to not be okay. It’s okay to cry and seek help. Always make your mental health a priority and take time for yourself to discover what truly sparks joy for you. In my case, traveling is my therapy. Although I could not travel far this year, I was able to make new experiences closer to home and relive my trips through my vacation photos.
  2. Your plans will not always work out or go as planned. It’s like the saying, ‘if you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.’ I’m pretty sure I gave God quite a big chuckle with my plans. My husband and I had planned in 2020 to relocate and venture out on our own somewhere else. We were also supposed to travel to London and Edinburgh back in April; visit Highclere Castle and do some sightseeing. Obviously, the trip was cancelled and we stayed put in Kentucky for now. All’s well that ends well. I suppose I’ll have to leave it in God’s hands for now.
  3. Having a 3 – 6 months (or more) of expenses in your savings account is very important. I’m a big believer in Dave Ramsey and the Baby Steps. If life throws you some rotten lemons, you will at least be able to keep a roof over your head and food on the table for a while until you can straighten things out.
  4. Your actions can affect someone else’s health and life. Especially in a pandemic. Covid-19 is no joke and too many people have died who could have been alive today to see the new year. Please continue to social distance and wear a mask.
  5. Relationships are a two-way street (whether it’s romantic, with family, friends or work) and boundaries should be respected by both parties. Don’t be afraid to speak up when your boundaries are crossed or let anyone minimize your feelings if you feel uncomfortable. I get it, it’s not easy, especially if it’s someone you care about who has disrespected you.
  6. Challenging times will always reveal your true friends. My best friends have stayed close to me and been supportive for me even though they all live far away.
  7. Taking a break from your busy lifestyle and getting some quiet time can be very beneficial for your mind and soul. My friend always says ‘please take comfort in silence’ and there’s definitely some truth in that. This year has been a constant reflection and discovery of who I am. Though I agree, the quarantine is getting to be too long.
  8. Being open-minded and empathetic to people who are different from you. You might learn something new or gain understanding of a different perspective.
  9. Dental procedures are very expensive even if you have dental insurance. Use an electric toothbrush and floss regularly. I learned this the hard way.
  10. Lastly, but not the least. Be unapologetically you.

With all the lessons I have gained, I am also grateful for a lot of things. I am thankful:

  1. That I am still employed with my company and had the opportunity to work from home.
  2. That I can pay my bills/rent, keep a roof over my head and food on the table.
  3. That my close friends and family are safe and healthy.
  4. For Kentucky’s governor. I am glad I was in Kentucky during this pandemic as Kentucky is one of the few U.S states that has been managing the pandemic well since the shut downs began in March.
  5. For our scientists and the rapid development of the Covid-19 vaccine.
  6. For all the healthcare frontline and essential workers.
  7. For the significant number of people, especially people of color, who came out to vote in the November election.
  8. For my corgis, Gatsby and Daisy. They loved spending 24/7 at home with us!
  9. For my childfree lifestyle.

Hooray, we survived 2020! I wish you all the best and have a wonderful 2021!

Travel Tip: Sign Up For a Local Food Tour

I’m an amateur traveler. I began my international travels in my mid-twenties which led me to crave an appetite for more adventures and a pursuit of my happiness. I do not have much advice to give when it comes to traveling as I continue to learn myself, but I’ve picked up a few tips from my experienced travel acquaintances or stumbled across some on the way.

I believe that the gateway to all cultures is through food. I mean, who doesn’t love food? In my personal experience, local food tours are the best way to learn about the city and meet locals or other travelers in the area. My husband and I have booked local food tours in our last three international destinations and the experiences have been unforgettable. We usually book our tours through Expedia, Musement and/or Urban Adventures. These websites have a diverse selection of food and/or wine tours and with diverse itineraries to choose from. The tours usually takes 2-3 hours with a local tour guide and 6-8 other tourists. Cost can vary; I would say it is about $100-$180 USD per person.

Why do I love these local food tours? Here are my thoughts about the benefits of booking a local food tour in your travel destination:

Discover the best local restaurants and shops to explore during your stay

Our first local food tour was in Barcelona back in 2018. We met our tour guide, Jane, at the meeting point along with 6 other tourists. We started our tour with a glass of Cava, a Spanish sparking wine. Jane led us through a zig zag of narrow passageways through the heart of Barcelona, the La Boqueria, the Gothic Quarter and Las Ramblas neighborhoods, while giving us a brief history through a local’s perspective. We were introduced to local family restaurants and larger restaurant chains in the city; we were served with a variety of authentic Spanish tapa dishes and tasted dishes that was only unique to their restaurant. Some of my favorite tapas are: Patatas Bravas, Jamon Iberico, Manchego cheese, Calamari, Catalan bread & tomato and various selection of coquettes. I’ll never forget about the infamous Tinto de Verano, which was a mixture of Spanish Rioja wine and Italian lemon soda, and could be ordered at any restaurant and/or bar in Barcelona or you could make it yourself at home! One of my favorite local family shops was the Torrons Vicens which was hidden in the heart of the city led to through a narrow sidewalk off the main streets. Torrons Vicens sold a variety of delicious sweets to locals and tourists that pass along the way.

Learn about the city through a local’s eyes

Venice (Italy) is a popular touristy location for travelers. We’re all familiar with the images of the Bridge of Sighs, Saint Mark’s Basilica and the Saint Mark’s square, and have read about the Italian culture that we feel we could get around ourselves. These popular historical structures is just the tip of the iceberg; and I believe the best way to experience this beautiful city of Venice is through a local’s perspective and learn from their knowledge. Our tour guide, Clara, who originally grew up in France and then moved to Venice for college, and had rooted her life in Venice ever since then. She led our tour group through a series of hidden walkways that the local Venetians take to go about their day without getting mingled with the tourists visiting the city. It was amazing to explore these pathways without any crowds and we were able to walk freely without bumping into the next person. We walked through the Mercato di Rialto where we saw vendors lined up selling fresh produce, vegetables and seafood. The local cooks/chefs and residents living in Venice will come by in the mornings to stock up on their kitchens for the day. Another significant stop we made was at the oldest bacaro (traditional wine bar), Cantina Do Mori, originally founded in 1462 located near the Rialto Bridge. We also made stops at other local taverns and Osterias that were tucked away from the main streets in Venice on the tour and spent our time snacking on delicious Cicchetti (small snacks which are similar to Spanish tapas), and with glasses of wine as we discussed architecture and the history of the city.

Opportunity to meet other adventurous tourists from other parts of the world

Our most memorable local food tour group was in Vienna (Austria). Vienna is a beautiful city with streets filled with the locals and tourists from around the world. We stayed at a hotel across from the Vienna State Opera House near the Ringstrasse road. The Innere Stadt district of Vienna was where the famous Hofburg palace and other historical buildings were located. The city is rich with the Hapsburg culture and musical legacy where famous composers such as Beethoven and Mozart called Vienna home. We met our tour guide, Will, in front of St. Stephen’s Cathedral with two other international couples attending the tour. We got to know the other two couples; one was a middle-aged Israeli couple and the other was a young South African couple. Not only was the food tour amazing, but getting the opportunity to learn about the other couples’ travel experiences and their stories about their country. We also learned that our tour guide, Will, is British descent born in Germany and later relocated to Vienna when he started college. The South African couple in our tour was previously job training in Germany and they stopped by Vienna for vacation before the husband went back to Germany for training. One fascinating story was that our Israeli tourist told us that her grandmother lived in Vienna in the 1930-1940s and fled to Israel when WWII started, and that she HAD to find her grandmother’s home in Vienna. With a lot of walking and searching for the street name, we finally found her grandmother’s home! This was the best adventure I’ve had and I will never forget this experience. It’s silly, but once in awhile, I still think about them and wonder how they’re doing.

If you’re convinced and looking to book a local food tour on your next trip, I recommend checking for tours on Expedia, Musement and Urban Adventures as I had mentioned above. If you’re passing through Vienna, Barcelona or Venice and you’re interested in the tours I’ve described above, here are the website links for those local food tours:




I would definitely rate 5 stars for all my food tour experiences! If you have any questions about these food tours, please feel free to reach out to me in the comments below or email me directly at jenniechen2013@gmail.com.

Until next time!

A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

Tower of London

2020 hasn’t been easy; from Covid-19 to shut downs to racial injustice, it has tremendously affected my mental health. I’ve never been very good about prioritizing my mental health until these last few years. Traveling is my therapist; it’s helped me to be proud of my true self, to stand up to opposition that threaten my mental stability, gave me courage to proclaim my child-free lifestyle, and allowed me to dream and discover what sparks joy.

So, saying ‘I miss traveling’ is an understatement. I have hope that I will be able to travel very soon again. But in the meantime, I flip through my travel photos to give me that dose of therapy and motivation to keep pushing at achieving my current goals.

My current dose of therapy: My husband and I decided to spend a week in London for our honeymoon and the second week in Paris. This is a picture of me standing in front of the entrance to the Tower of London for the first time. I can still smell the cool London air, hear the chatter of the other tourists and feel the energy of excitement around me. They say that a picture is worth a thousand words.

I was the happiest person in the entire world in THAT moment. Visiting the Tower of London was my childhood dream. Growing up, I was obsessed with British history (and I still am!); fascinated by England’s monarchy, William the Conqueror, the War of the Roses, King Richard and England’s lost boys, the infamous King Henry VIII and the tragic story about Anne Boleyn. The Tower of London was the central figure that brought those events together and kept the British monarchy strong!

My visit to the Tower of London motivated me to search for what sparks joy and opened the doors to discover other cultures/viewpoints. Ever since that trip to London, I’ve experienced true happiness, discovered what I am passionate for and that I can achieve anything I set my mind to. I began to prioritize my mental health, started to use silence in the place of angry words and became more open-minded to others who are different from me. I have traveled to other destinations since then, and each destination has taught me their culture and has also taught me something new about myself.

Today, I am proud of myself and what I have been able to overcome personally. Traveling is my therapy and I have hope that I’ll be able to explore again very soon.

No More Silence

I intended to make this blog focused on my travel stories. But, with the racial injustice issues going on in the US right now, I feel that I need to make my voice heard and I do not want to be silent anymore. So……

Here’s me making some “Good Trouble”

Today, my best friend who lives in Dallas sent me a photo of a letter targeted to the Indians and Chinese in her community that read “RETURN TO YOUR COUNTRY” with a violent death threat of what would happen if they don’t leave. My friend and her husband are immigrants and they are Indian.

My. Heart. Broke. In. Pieces. Today. I cried and sobbed. HOW DARE THEY SAY THAT? I am an immigrant and this is an insult to me. My parents gave up their jobs in Taiwan and sacrificed everything to immigrate to the US. This country was built by people like my parents and like my friend’s parents- yes, immigrants. We came here to learn YOUR language, YOUR culture, YOUR food, but you never chose to learn ours and you won’t even accept our differences in your presence.

So where is this greatness that America talks about? If greatness is separating Mexican kids from their parents at the border and throwing them in cages, or shooting a black man 7 times in the back while he was walking away or telling your Indian and Asian neighbors to go back from where they came from… then we may not have the same definition for “greatness.”

In summary, I’m angry, I’m hurt and I don’t want to stay silent anymore. We need to embrace diversity and know that we are all equal no matter the color.

And for my black friends, BLACK LIVES MATTER!!!

Never Forget

Last June, Brian and I visited Normandy for the 75th anniversary of WWII D-Day in France. We arrived in Charles de Gaulle (CDG – Paris) airport in the morning after 10+ hours on a plane and we were completely exhausted from the trip. Sleep deprived; we grabbed our luggage, caught a cab to the bus stop and got on the OUIBUS for a 2.5 hour ride to Caen. Once we got there, we ran to the car rental to pick up our car and finally met our AirBnB host to pick up our keys to our rental. Whew! By the time we got settled in the apartment, it was time for bed! Thank goodness Brian knew more French than I did! #TheStruggleIsReal

I don’t regret it one bit though. Seeing Normandy and the WWII sites was the most touching experience I’ve ever had.

On one of the days in Normandy, we visited the American Cemetery that overlooked Omaha beach. Omaha beach was one of the two American landing areas in Normandy. As we walked up to the entrance of the cemetery, I remember glancing over at a tour bus on my left side and saw a group of people applauding as a WWII veteran and his wife were pushed in a wheelchair up to their tour bus. This brought tears in my eyes as I saw the veteran’s wife sobbing as the crowd applauded. I knew this was going to be emotional and braced myself for the experience.

There were so many people visiting on that day, but the cemetery was so quiet. We walked through each row and around the monuments in silence. Each headstone had the soldier’s name, the date of death and the US state they were from. There were also headstones with it engraved ‘Here Rests in Honored Glory A Comrade In Arms Known But To God.’ I had so many thoughts running through my head – like what were they like and what were their stories? I’m sure these soldiers were probably in their twenties, chose to fight and sacrificed their lives for our freedom. Each soldier had a family and friends that they never got to see again. We did not get to visit the British and Canadian cemetery during this trip, but I hope to pay my respects to those soldiers when I visit Normandy again.

During our stay in Normandy, we also visited and walked through the tourist town Arromamche Les Bains. On this beach, this was where the British and Americans installed an artifical Mulberry Harbour to bring in supplies during WWII. It was pretty cool to see that pieces of the original Mulberry was still left on the beach and in the water. On the site, we also visited the Musée Du Débarquement that provided the background of the operation and the WWII artifacts from the time. Finally, we ended the day with a wonderful meal of Moules Marinières in a small restaurant in the town while watching the tourists from all over the world walk by and people dressed up in British and American uniforms for the celebration drive by in the WWII vehicles.

Obviously there is so much more of this trip that I would love to share with you, but I’ll stop here for today. I’ll need to figure out how to create a separate page to upload more photos to share with you all! I hope everyone had a great and safe Memorial Day weekend!

************** Update**********

Finally set up a photo gallery page.. I’ll be uploading more photos ASAP!