Category Archives: Chautauqua


Reconnecting With Myself After 2 Years

A headshot of Wendy wearing glasses, red lipstick and a white t-shirt. She's wearing silver earrings and a tracheostomy tube. A scenic painting hangs behind her.
A headshot of Wendy wearing glasses, red lipstick and a white T-shirt. She’s wearing silver earrings and a trach tube. A scenic painting hangs behind her.

I remember the moment it hit me that everything had changed.

It was September 2021, and I was sitting in my bedroom in New York. I’d taken all of my fall and winter clothes out from storage, ready to switch closets in time for the new season. When I saw what was in my suitcase, memories came flooding back.

Here was my beloved orange blazer, which I bought during a special trip in Europe and wore for a major HuffPost video. It was once my signature piece, one that gave me courage and made me feel like I could do anything. And here was my floral bomber jacket that I used to wear to in-person panels and that made me fall in love with jewel tones. And there were my ripped jeans that looked good with everything.

I had not worn any of these clothes in well over a year — since before the
pandemic. They were like a time capsule, reminiscent of a more innocent, joyful and vibrant past. They had an aura of purity, untouchable, as though if I put any of them on now, they would become tainted.

Looking at them, I felt the ghost of who I used to be. I used to walk into the office every single day wearing a different shade of lipstick. I wore lipstick not because I was insecure about my looks, but because I loved the way it made me feel. Even if I went to work bare-faced with nothing but lipstick on, I didn’t care. It
empowered me. I put on knee-high suede heels. I wore flower garlands. I
experimented with fashion and put together new outfits that made me feel
confident and beautiful at the same time.

When I saw those clothes in my suitcase, I fell apart. I felt ridiculous for mourning over a bunch of jackets and pants. But a part of me also knew that it was about more than just clothes. I’d spent the last year in total quarantine, terrified of losing my life and the lives of my loved ones to COVID-19, working remotely and helping to take care of my newborn nephew. I somehow dodged a brutal round of layoffs at HuffPost (one of many), though my narrow escape came with a lot of survivor’s guilt and bitter frustration over the direction of the media industry. I was editing and reading stories every single day about the state of the world — the mounting coronavirus death toll, the hate attacks against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, the worsening climate change, the sheer neglect of people with
disabilities being left behind during both crisis and recovery.

It was one thing after another, an entire year full of collective and individual and generational trauma. One year became two. I endured months of uncontrollable anxiety and worked with multiple therapists to help manage my life better. The fall of 2021 saw some of my worst anxiety attacks, even though at that point things had drastically improved COVID-wise. I think my body and my mind were both catching up to everything that had happened. It was like I’d experienced a lot of micro-shocks in the first year and a half of the pandemic, and then in late 2021 I got hit with one big lightning strike. Every day, I woke up and could barely
function. I sat on the couch, frozen, convinced that somehow I was doomed. It wasn’t just related to COVID. It was everything. Everything made me feel this way.

To get out of my own head, I started spending more time with family. It helped because I was forced to take care of myself so that I could take care of others. I got a new therapist and met with friends outdoors a couple of times. I started a new Instagram video series about my fiction writing journey, which brought me a lot of joy — a strange yet familiar feeling, like an old friend I hadn’t talked to in a long time. When I’d been fighting so hard to survive for so long, things like putting on lipstick and dancing in my apartment seemed silly and unnecessary, even
selfish. On an intellectual level, I knew that it wasn’t. But I needed to catch up
emotionally and realize that these things weren’t self-indulgent or superfluous — they were necessary if I wanted to feel alive again.

If there’s one thing that I wish I could get back from the Before Times, it’s my
ability to appreciate good things when they happen and to accept what’s right in front of me. Now, anytime there’s good news, I find myself bracing for something to go wrong. The first thought that came to mind when I learned I’d been listed under Forbes 30 Under 30 was that the judges had made a terrible mistake and I was a fraud. When I saw that one of my plants had finally sprouted, I immediately
worried that whatever I’d done well was not going to last and it would eventually die. Living during a pandemic for two years has kept me on edge, skeptical and overly cautious, unconvinced that everything will be okay — because, let’s face it, many of us have not been okay for a long time.

It’s also become more difficult for me to believe that I actually deserve good things to happen. I managed to share my Forbes news but I felt rather self-
conscious about it, and I told my partner not to tell anyone about a second award I’d won around the same time because, oh man, I was really going to look
braggadocious then!

What people saw on the outside did not match what I was feeling on the inside. And that made me feel like an absolute imposter. It also made me feel extremely guilty. I was employed, I had a supportive partner, I had housing, and I was
experiencing some of the biggest highlights of my career. Who was I to complain about literally anything? At one point, I wrote a tweet and then decided not to post it because I didn’t want to “bring anyone down.” Here it is:

My depression hit hard this week, and it’s times like these when I wonder if I’m just destined to be miserable & constantly feel like a colossal failure despite all the good in my life. What do I, of all people, have to be sad about? Nothing, and that’s the cruelty of depression.

Even though I didn’t post this tweet, I think about it a lot. I have to believe that I’m not the only one who feels this way. This is what anxiety and depression do to you, right? Sometimes they come after a trigger, and sometimes there’s no reason for them to show up at all — they just creep up on you. Some weeks are amazing and I feel really happy, and other weeks feel like…well, like an alternative reality. I’m learning to be okay with that, and to prioritize myself when things are difficult.

I’ve come to terms with the fact that the things that brought me joy before the pandemic are somewhat different from the things that bring me joy now. I am still figuring out how to reconnect with myself and discover new things.

Here are a few things I’ve learned about myself over the last couple years:

  • Taking care of your mental health isn’t a linear process. Even when it feels like you are taking one step forward and then two steps back, it doesn’t mean you’re a failure.
  • Only I can determine my self-worth. Not anyone else. My identity is made up of more than just one facet of my life — it encompasses my family, my
    relationship and friendships, my love for children’s books and fiction writing, and so much more.
  • Instead of being a gatekeeper, I want to open the gates and make the
    journalism industry more equitable. I have a responsibility to pay it forward and help people who have less access to resources. (That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t have boundaries. I won’t be able to help anyone if I can’t put
    myself first.)
  • Oppression Olympics serve no one. It’s important for me to acknowledge my privilege and validate my own experiences and emotions. I can give myself permission to grieve the things I’ve lost over the past two years, while using the privileges I do have for good.
  • This one fragile life that we have is filled with curveballs, both painful and happy moments. When the happy moments come around, we need to catch them, like glow worms, and hold on to them for as long as possible.
  • Self-forgiveness is self-love. I tend to be really hard on myself for making even the smallest mistakes, and instead of mentally punishing myself indefinitely, I am learning to let go.

    If you’ve gotten this far, thanks for reading. Thanks for being here. Things are tough, and they have been for a while, but I believe in you. You’re doing an amazing job. We’ll get through this together.
A signature of my name, Wendy

Putting My Journalism Career Into Perspective

A Chinese woman with black medium-length hair sits on a plastic round bubble chair with pillows. She's wearing a flower bomber jacket and burgundy pants. The background has pink polka dots and shows a giant picture of Bliss skin care.

#DailyWings: “It takes courage to rest and play in a culture where exhaustion is seen as a status symbol.” — Brené Brown

Wow. It feels so surreal to be writing for my blog again, but here I am.

My life is vastly different now than it was a year ago. I started a new position as a video producer at HuffPost back in October — my first full-time journalism job ever — so a lot has shifted over the last few months. I’m learning an entirely new skill set, I’m navigating a different company culture, and I’m working harder than ever before. I have to pinch myself every day to remember that all of this is real. READ MORE

Why I Stopped Blogging For Two Years

journalism, New York Times, why I stopped blogging

#DailyWings: “Remember, you have been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and seeing what happens.”
-Louise L. Hay

Hi everyone. It’s taken a long time for me to come back to this website and have the courage to hit “publish” on this blog post. I’ve missed writing here. A lot has happened since I last blogged in 2015, and I feel like I owe you all — my readers — an explanation for why I stopped blogging, which was once a sacred part of my life as a writer.

Those of you who’ve been around for a while know that I started a blog for the first time on Blogspot in January 2010. It was my safe haven for many years, with a short break in the middle so that I could migrate to a new location — this website. Back then, I didn’t know things like SEO existed that could drive or inform my editorial content. My blog was simply a creative outlet for me to share my writing journey and my hobbies outside of journalism with the outside world. That was it.

The Columbia Journo Diaries: Journalism Bootcamp, My First 2 Weeks in NYC

Columbia Journalism School

#DailyWings“One belongs to New York instantly. One belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years.” -Tom Wolfe

The Columbia Journo Diaries is a series on my blog where I share my accounts of what it’s like to be a journalism master’s student at Columbia University in the City of New York during a time when the media landscape is relying on digital innovation to survive. 

It’s Friday night, and I’m raising a solo cup filled with red wine in my right hand. Someone sitting a few feet away whistles to get everyone’s attention.

“We made it through the first two weeks! Cheers!”

“Cheers!” I place the cup between my lips. The wine warms me from head to toe.

It’s the first night I’ve actually gone out with friends – mainly, other journalism students at Columbia who decided it would be a good idea to celebrate the end of our second week of reporting bootcamp. We have a picnic set up in Riverside Park right by the Henry Hudson Parkway, barely five minutes away from my apartment. I’ve been living here since the end of July, and not once did I notice before how beautiful the sun is when it sets over the skyline. I remind myself to do this more often. No matter how stressful journalism school gets or how many times you fail, I say to myself, never forget to appreciate what’s right in front of you.

What It’s Like to Turn 23 When You Still Look 15

birthday peach bellini

#DailyWings: “We lived our lives as if life was forever. To live one’s life without a sense of time is to squander it.” – Diana Trilling

Most of this blog post was written on June 22, the day of my birthday, but I haven’t been able to post it until today. As I wrap things up with my current marketing role, I will be able to blog more and more. Huge thanks to everyone who sent me well wishes after my career announcement!

It’s 12 o’clock in the morning, and even though I technically don’t turn 23 years old until 9:15 a.m, my birthday is officially here and I’m starting to feel nostalgic – which is pretty typical when you’re about to start a new year of living. I’m about to be 23, and yet I’m still very much happy, free, confused and lonely. Those feelings haven’t gone anywhere; if anything, they’ve intensified.

To be honest, I wasn’t really looking forward to my birthday this year. In fact, I was dreading it. As someone who grew up absolutely loving surprise parties and sheet cakes and party favors and the special meaning behind birthdays, I can tell you this isn’t normal. Everyone tells me that when you pass all the exciting ages (meaning ages 13, 16, 18 and 21), the magic behind birthdays disappears and you just feel, well, old. When birthdays lose their charm, it means you’ve “grown up.”

I’m Moving to New York City to Live (Not Chase) My Dreams

#DailyWings: “You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore.” -William Faulkner

Happy June, writers and friends! Wow, has it really been a month (and some change) since my last blog post? A part of me is appalled that I took a month-long hiatus from writing, but the other part of me wants to remind myself that there is a very good reason why I haven’t been around.

Four days ago, I was finally able to make an announcement that I’ve been waiting to make for months. It’s the kind of announcement that is usually made right after a college graduation, when people are moving to new places, taking on summer internships and full-time jobs, and traveling to other countries. Honestly, it was hard for me to keep blogging without being able to share this announcement with you; I felt like keeping it inside was more difficult than not blogging at all.

Thankfully, I’m finally in a good place both emotionally and professionally now where I can share this publicly with you and my friends here on social media.

April A to Z Blogging Challenge: IJKL is for I Just Knew Labels

#DailyWings: “We don’t need you to fit into the system. The system is full. We need you to escape it & then show us how it’s done.” -Jon Acuff

Blogging From A to Z is an annual month-long challenge in which bloggers around the world are invited to write a blog post every week day for the month of April, with each day corresponding to a letter in the alphabet (26 week days = 26 letters). For this year’s A to Z challenge, my theme is personal anecdotes, or “childhood memories.”


It finally happened, y’all. I was doing so well, blogging every day for April A to Z, and then it happened: I fell behind and missed a few days. Gah! Oh well…I suppose I shouldn’t be too hard on myself, seeing as this is my first year doing the challenge. Anywho, what counts isn’t that I tripped – it’s how I pick myself back up, right?

April A to Z Blogging Challenge: H is for Heroines from My Childhood

Superwoman at work

#DailyWings: “A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.” -Christopher Reeve

Blogging From A to Z is an annual month-long challenge in which bloggers around the world are invited to write a blog post every week day for the month of April, with each day corresponding to a letter in the alphabet (26 week days = 26 letters). For this year’s A to Z challenge, my theme is personal anecdotes, or “childhood memories.”

If there’s anything you should know about me, it’s that I’m obsessed with Superman. I collect the comics. When I was little, I stared at the television screen every day after school with a bowl of dumplings my grandmother made me as a snack, watching “Superman: The Animated Series.” I handmade two DC costumes: one Superwoman costume, one Zatanna costume.

I grew up watching “Smallville,” a show on CW that ran from 2001 to 2011, chronicling Clark Kent’s childhood and how he eventually became the superhero we all know and love. I followed that show religiously for all 10 years, and it’s safe to say that that show — and those characters on that show — helped make me the person I am.

But…I’m not here to talk about Superman today. Or Clark Kent. (Yes, there’s a difference.)

April A to Z Blogging Challenge: G is for Giveaway (surprise included!)

#DailyWings: “Things never go the way you expect them to. That’s both the joy and frustration in life. I’m finding as I get older that I don’t mind, though. It’s the surprises that tickle me the most, the things you don’t see coming.”
-Michael Stuhlbarg

Blogging From A to Z is an annual month-long challenge in which bloggers around the world are invited to write a blog post every week day for the month of April, with each day corresponding to a letter in the alphabet (26 week days = 26 letters). For this year’s A to Z challenge, my theme is personal anecdotes, or “childhood memories.”

The great thing about having a big sister when you’re really young is that you get to meet all of her popular, older friends – and because you’ve got the squishy cheeks, the kiddie dimples and a habit of trying to copy what they do, they love you. (It’s also pretty awesome when your big sister doesn’t mind you getting all of this attention.)

It was the year 2000. I was seven years old when I attended my sister’s friend’s bat mitzvah. It was hosted at some party venue in Boston, and I can still remember looking down from the second floor and seeing all of the boys and girls on the dance floor. There must have been a disco ball, because the whole room was shrouded in colorful party lights – purples and blues and pinks.

April A to Z Blogging Challenge: E is for Eyes

#DailyWings: “Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.”
-Jonathan Swift

Blogging From A to Z is an annual month-long challenge in which bloggers around the world are invited to write a blog post every week day for the month of April, with each day corresponding to a letter in the alphabet (26 week days = 26 letters). For this year’s A to Z challenge, my theme is personal anecdotes, or “childhood memories.”

I started having vision problems toward the end of fifth grade when it became too difficult to read the dry erase board in Mrs. Garcia’s math class. The equations were fuzzy and, more often than not, I had to squint my eyes to clearly see anything that was far away.

It wasn’t until I took that routine eye exam at school – the one where you have to read letters with one eye open and move a step back after every reading – and realized my vision was no longer excellent that I admitted to my parents that maybe it was time for me to see an optometrist.

My first pair of glasses had thin, pink frames that were oval, like my eyes. I picked them out for myself because I thought they looked sweet, feminine and innocent – all adjectives I wanted to be (or at least appear to be) back in sixth grade. In some ways, I prided on being a kid with glasses because I felt like they made me look smarter, or at least well-read. I did – and still do – attribute my sub-par vision to late nights spent under the covers with a flashlight and good book (sometimes, I’d hide away in my closet).