“You don’t understand. I don’t want you to feel sorry for me. I need you to be compassionate.” In that moment, she felt the all too familiar feeling of what it was like to be a Canadian born Chinese wanting to connect with her Chinese heritage. When Ming* (name changed to protect privacy) first came to see me, her back was hunched forward as if she was carrying too heavy a burden on her shoulders. She nervously pushed her glasses up the tip of her nose before letting her long black hair drop forward to cover part of her face.   When I asked this young Chinese woman what she needed, Ming made the following comment:   Through my talking with Ming, I found out her Chinese grandmother had been the one primarily responsible for her caregiving while she was growing up. Her grandmother, who was living with Ming’s family,


I didn’t ask myself ‘Is she emotionally sick?’ I was eight years old and like many other kids, I just wanted to go play outside and make sure I had a clean pair of pants to wear to go to school the next day. Plus, what does ‘emotionally’ even mean to a kid?   I didn’t even ask if she was sick. I mean, she looked fine on the surface.  She could walk and talk, though she said and did things that even I found strange by moments. Like that time she put my hands on her tummy and told me she had a baby inside. She said she was the Virgin Mary and she was going to give birth to the child of Jesus Christ. As strange as she sounded and behaved at times, my mother was not running a fever or having a drippy nose.   When I


I couldn’t believe he had done it again. I was so angry that I didn’t even take the time to ask myself what could be wrong with him. Instead, I marched right over where he was, grabbed him by the scruff of the neck, and threw him unmercifully on the cold concrete of the back patio. This was the nth time that day that the kids’ puppy, Snowy, had pooped in the living room. I had enough!   I watched him as he pawed the glass door, crying to be let back in. I yelled at him to go pee and poop as if a four month old puppy could have complete control over its bodily functions. He looked at me with pleading eyes. I pretended not to care and told him in a stern voice to go do his business or stay outside, his choice.   Snowy was a


  I was sitting under a tree. It was early morning and the area was deserted at this time of day. It suited me just fine, this isolation, because I now felt safe enough to let tears run down my cheeks. I was feeling sad inside and this so-called sadness seemed to have swallowed my entire life. Touching a tree root with my left hand, I begged it to help me move forward, to give me energy, for I felt tired, wary, drained.   This tree where I hid from the world was located in a kids’ park of all places. To my left were swings with sky blue seats. In front of me were earth brown curvy slides. To my right was this kind of roped knitted dome where little ones exercised their climbing skills.   A little boy accompanied by an adult comes running into the park. He


When Cassie* came to see me, she said money was practically everything to her and money was driving her crazy.    Through my talking with her, I found out she mostly determined the importance of people based on the money they made, the financial savings they had, event the type of food they ordered in restaurants. Defensively, she added she also paid a close watch to her own bank account. When hungry for her favourite food in a restaurant, if the price was not right according to her (meaning, the item could be found cheaper elsewhere), she refrained from ordering it, choosing instead to deprive herself of happiness from eating her favourite dish.   Have you ever been in a situation where you deprived yourself of happiness?     Though she and her life partner were professionals who made good salaries, she dressed simply, barely any make-up or jewelry on,


When James* called upon me, he asked that we meet in an open restaurant downtown Vancouver. Asking him why there instead of my office, he laughed and said, ‘Because I need it this way.’    On the agreed upon date and time of rendez-vous, James sat down in front of me and immediately placed his hands under the table where I could Not see them. This gesture alone told me a lot about James, how easily he pretended to be emotionally open yet felt the want to hide once in front of me.   Through my talking with him, I found out James was one of nine children from a very large Catholic South American family. He grew up being an altar boy, going to Sunday school, and saying prayers. But something was Not working for him… In his teenage years, he realized he was gay and being gay is


When Janie came to see me, she smiled an easy smile and quickly answered “I’m fine!” to the question ‘How are you?’ I watched her as she fidgeted onto her seat, obviously trying to find a comfortable position. She finally sat down after putting a nearby colourful cushion in front of her tummy. This gesture alone told me a lot about Janie, how she most likely was living her life hiding in the background while hanging on to shiny objects for dear life.   Through my talking with her, I found out she has spent years studying for a profession she says she is now hating. She said she felt tired and drained, her bosses apparently not caring about what happened to her or how she felt.     Have you ever been in a situation where you felt unseen and unheard?   After her work shift, Janie confessed she


Have you ever experienced a gushing water leak in your home? Where was it? Was it underneath the kitchen sink? Was it in the basement where water pipes tend to run hidden in the dark? What did it cost you to repair this leak?   In 2001, I bought a showroom townhouse. It had many upgrades like granite countertops, wooden kitchen cabinets, and so on. I loved this house house very much, it looked great on the surface… until the day I had my first water leak.    The day it happened, I did not know where the water valve was, so I ran panicking to my next door neighbour. He calmly came over, turned the water valve off, and told me to call a plumber. I had never had to call a plumber before and it made me feel deeply anxious and stressed out. Ever been in that situation?


HOW FAR AM I WILLING TO GO?   Am I willing to go beyond the stars Where you and I were born Where the sun befriends the moon Where rainbows bridge us all?   Am I willing to go further than the eye can see Where trees plant their roots Where flowers drop their seeds Where leaves take in the colours of seasons?   Am I willing to go deeper than the ocean floor Where all the river beds make one Where the illusion of division is triumphed over Where we all feel as one?   How far am I willing to go?   I am willing to go At the centre of myself Where I hear it all begins The point of origin That unites us all.   I am willing to go Where ‘broken’ lines disappear Where there is no you or me Where there is only a


I -- USED TO THINK   I used to think A tree was just a tree I saw it with my own mind Roots, trunk, branches, leaves.   I used to think You were different than me I saw it with my own mind Bodies, fences, judgement, fear.   Thanks to my mentor, I met me For a moment, I stopped thinking, In stillness, my mind cracked open Discovering sunshine cooling breeze within.   How refreshing To hear inside the giggles of a small child Who never thought we were separate Who's always known we all belong.   Because of my love for this child and me The lines in my mind are becoming blurry If there is nothing separating you from me Then, who am I? What are we?   Willing to know, I ask her to show me the way How I may serve her from a place

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