Lily Qian for #StopAsianHate @Medium

When six Asian women were killed in Atlanta in March, the writer Jane Park felt an ache of concern that was all too familiar

Dear Mom,

I’m surprised to find that, in my middle age, I feel like I am failing you more than ever. These days, I can’t protect you enough.

I remember being five and wanting with every cell in my being to make you feel safe and seen. This was my first and most important job. “I am not the dummy,” you would say whenever someone who spoke English more fluently than you made you feel less than. It might have been a passing stranger, or my grade school classmates who shoplifted from your corner store. “I graduate from Ewha Women’s…

It’s not: “Do you like it?”

Photo: Christin Hume/Unsplash

I recently wrote a pilot TV script with a girlfriend of mine. Neither of us had ever done anything like this before. As I sent out the draft to a few trusted friends, I was about to type: “Do you think this is any good?”

But I stopped myself. Instead, I wrote, “Can you please help us make this better?”

I’m a seasoned entrepreneur and a novice writer. I’m learning that the same rules apply to both roles. Whether I’m crafting a script or a business plan, it’s up to me to decide when it is “good enough” for the…

This Is Us

On anti-Asian hate, allyship, and protecting our moms and dads

Photo: Flickr/mrhayata

Like many thoughtful humans, I’ve been overcome with rage as I witness story after story of Asian American elders being pushed, kicked, and slammed into the ground just because they had the audacity to walk to church. But as an Asian American immigrant, I also felt something more.

Bizarrely, even though I would never engage in such hateful violence, I found myself feeling responsible.

I know I share this feeling with other immigrant children who have carried the burden of holding our parents up when they have been dismissed in their new country as being stupid, greedy, and unworthy. …

Uncovering my voice, and straining to hear it

Author’s photo. Author’s 3rd birthday in Seoul, Korea.

Growing up as a Korean-Canadian immigrant child, I was quiet and good at math. Actually, I was quiet because I couldn’t speak the language when I first went to kindergarten, which is how I ended up greeting my mother after my first day wearing another girl’s pants from the lost & found. Mine was in a bag soaked with pee from when I couldn’t possibly hold it anymore but I still hadn’t learned the word, “bathroom.”

I picked the language up quickly, as young children do, but my parents still can’t believe that I don’t speak English with an accent…

It’s also a clarifying prompt when you just want to self-reflect

Woman looking out the window with reflection of outdoors.
Woman looking out the window with reflection of outdoors.
Photo: Westend61/Getty Images

I started going to therapy because I wanted to figure out who I was after leaving the company I spent a decade of my life building. Then I began feeling like I was failing as a parent. Then my husband was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. Then Covid-19 hit.

Through it all, therapy was a huge source of strength and stability. My friends now see me as a therapy veteran, maybe because I’m always talking about the things I’ve learned from my therapist. One day, a friend came to me with a question: She was about to start going to…

Learn to look beyond the first question

Photo: Luis Alvarez/Getty Images

One of the best pieces of business advice I received when I was starting out as a consultant was to “keep pulling on the thread.” In other words: Don’t fall for the first answer, or the second answer. To get to the root cause of a challenge, you need to keep asking “why” to cut through the excuses and red herrings. It’s only after asking a long series of questions that you’re able to get from “Why is this company’s stock price in the toilet?” …

The DMZ between North and South Korea is a powder keg that is also a haven for thousands of endangered birds

Photo by Richard Lee on Unsplash

The DMZ (demilitarized zone) is a 155 mile stretch of land between North and South Korea across which opposing armies have all manor of weapons pointed at each other. This narrow strip of land is only 2.5 miles wide. It follows the 38th parallel because some American who had never even been to Korea picked this number on a map.

Fenced off with barbed wire and riddled with land mines, it is free of humans and other large mammals, who can’t enter, or perish if they do.

In the absence of such predators, about 5000 species of birds and plants…

Adding Meaning To Wedding Vows Decades Later

Photo by Sandy Millar on Unsplash

When you promise “in sickness and in health” and you are only twenty-four, you imagine a head cold. Maybe a bad case of the flu. And you think rather nobly to yourself: “I will stand by him and I will not leave him, even when he is hacking up a lung and sneezing storm clouds of snot all over my side of the bed.” Meanwhile, back outside your head, you underscore your promise with, “This is my solemn vow.”

You can’t possibly see the virtual grand canyon that separates “in sickness” and “in health” when you are standing “in health.”…

A thought exercise that started with a mushroom growing out of a bathtub

A single mushroom with a brown cap outside in a field. The grass in the background is blurry.
A single mushroom with a brown cap outside in a field. The grass in the background is blurry.
Photo: derek braithwaite via Unsplash

At least once a day, every day, for over two decades, I’ve pictured a mushroom sprouting out of the grout in the corner of a bathtub in the Florida Keys. It sits right between the bottles of shampoo and conditioner.

“Not just mold, but an actual mushroom,” was how my friend described this flora that flourished in the bathroom of her childhood home. “There was a real cap!”

My friend’s mother is an award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of more than 20 books. (She will remain nameless, as I did not ask her for permission to discuss her bathtub…

‘Limoncello, why not?’

Photo: Rickson Liebano/Getty Images

If you have never tried limoncello, an Italian lemon liqueur, you may not know that it tastes like a concentrated, alcoholic version of Theraflu.

I was introduced to it years ago after a lovely al fresco meal with my husband in a movie-set-like patio restaurant in Sorrento, Italy. When our waiter came by to clear away our dinner plates and suggested this post-dinner treat, we were skeptical. My husband predicted it would turn out to be the Italian version of Kahlúa, a beverage that requires a picturesque holiday locale to be at all palatable.

We asked our waiter what it…

Jane Park

Entrepreneur + Essayist. CEO of sustainable gifting company: Speaker, writer: Addicted to making meaning.

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