Archive for May, 2011

It’s been a self-awakening week for me.

I went to an Sales and Relationship Management training where a 360-degree personality evaluation and a personality profile were provided, had a good time with my dear friend who came to visit me in New York, got into my own emotional bubble (not a good one) and felt really blue for a couple of days, and had a really heartfelt conversation with a close friend that knows me really well and is willing to share with me her personal journey and her honest feedback. It’s everything together, but it’s also none of them. I’ve been piecing together the picture for a long time, and this week, with some help from friends, I finally finished the puzzle.

It’s always incredible difficult to be honest with oneself. It’s hard enough to secretly admit it, and to admit it openly is to peel off all the masks that are carefully designed and put on and to show vulnerability. But here I am.

I’m gonna skip the hard and painful process of realization and jump straight to what I’ve learned, about myself…

So despite all the assertiveness and positive energy that I was told that I radiate, deep down in my heart, I have a lot of fear and somehow have lost the ability to love and believe in myself unconditionally.

I attribute most of my achievements and success to luck when things go well, and when they don’t, I blame myself for everything. I got into this self-loathing spiral when I forgot a friend’s birthday, was not available for a dinner, said something insensitive while not realizing it, made a mistake at work… Sometime ago, I felt terribly guilty and mad at myself for a whole week for being a terrible friend when I missed a friend’s text message for 30 minutes, but when the same thing happened to me, I could always find excuses for other people. And I even told myself that if I felt that I would be upset for not getting a response, I should not even send that message. I convinced myself that it’s all about managing my expectations for others but I held myself responsible for meeting the highest expectations.

A friend asked me why I couldn’t let it go and trust that my real friends would forgive me and understand me the way that I forgive and understand them. I realized what the reason is. It’s because I could not even bear the thought of losing them, and I think my world would collapse without them. It’s not only because I love them for who they are and how much they support and love me, but also because only through their friendship and love could I be convinced that I am worthy and lovable. I want my friends to love me for who I am, but somewhere along the way, I lost the ability to do the same for myself.

And it does not make me a better friend, but quite the opposite. Most of my friends didn’t sign up to avoid someone else’s world from falling apart. They signed up for having a good time together, for caring for each other, for mutual support and understanding. In the end of the day, my emotional neediness is a form of high-maintenance that is probably more stressful to deal with than someone who needs branded purses and complains about mediocre food.

It’s so ironic that I’m writing about self confidence in 2011, more than 10 years after I published my first essay in 作文通讯 in elementary school, a monthly publication of student essays, about being confident and not following other kids who always seemed to be “cooler” than me. Sometimes life is like a spiral – you think you’ve traveled a long way, but when looking down, you realize that from certain angle, you end up where you were years ago.

It’s not a sudden realization, but things finally came together this week. And now the journey to piecing together the broken “me” has just started. It’s gonna be a long and hard journey but I am ready for it. And being blessed with some greatest friends in the world, an interesting job and living in the best city, I know that I can do it.

To celebrate my awakening week, I’m sharing not one, but two of my favorite recipes! I’ve tried both of them and loved them both very much! 🙂

Mussel Cioppino

Cook time: 35 minutes


  • 2 yellow onions
  • 3 stalks celery
  • 1 bunch thyme
  • 1 bunch flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
  • 2 cups fish stock
  • One 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 lbs. mussels
  • Bay leaves
  • Black pepper, freshly ground
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Hot paprika or cayenne
  • Sea salt or kosher salt
  • Unsalted butter


  • Put the mussels in a strainer, rinse them well, and refrigerater
  • Peel and dice the onions.
  • Remove the strings from the celery, and dice.
  • Rinse and pat dry the parsley. Pluck 1 cup leaves.
  • Put 2 tbsps. oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions, the celery, and the 2 diced garlic cloves, stir, and cook until the onions are translucent, about 8 minutes.
  • Coarsely chop the parsley and add it to the onions.
  • Pour in 2 cups fish stock and the can of tomatoes. Add 20 sprigs thyme and 2 bay leaves, a big pinch salt, a small pinch cayenne (if you want a little kick!) and several grinds of pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat so the liquid is boiling gently, partially cover and let it cook.
  • De-beard the mussels if necessary ( pull any strings from them that you see). Rinse and shake excess water from them, then add them to the soup. Bring the soup to a boil and cook until the mussels open, shaking the pan from time to time, 5-6 minutes.
  • When all the mussels are open, turn off the heat. If the soup needs more liquid, add additional fish stock. Taste for seasoning. Remove the thyme sprigs and the bay leaves.

Eel Cha Soba Hand Roll (It’s in Chinese so I’m only providing the link here.  Please let me know if you need help translating it. ;))


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