Poem | Why We Together

Something in me knew that it’d happen,

that somehow across borders

across time zones

across oceans,

I’d run into you.

My heart betrays me,

however brief

when I look to the sky

for the reason why

he would bring you again to me,

when I have spent the last

few years

of sleepless nights

trying to scrub you

from my soul.

It wasn’t very long before

I remembered why

I was so enamored with you.

So, attached.

So in love.

…but that feeling wasn’t without

its own weight.

its own,

drowning.

It was a moment,

but a moment was all I needed.

Of pain, of past

of despair

to remind myself also

why we together were

so

broken.

06.18.2019 | Don’t Assume Malicious Intent

I tossed and turned last night and my day, like many days, started at 5 in the morning. Before the streets of New York have awakened, before even the sun. 

Not sure if it was the rain or the mood, but things were kind of downhill from there and I had difficulty bouncing back to my usually happy self... 

I took a breather, I got a coffee, I talked it out and still, there was a bit of residual resentment.  

Sometimes, a nap doesn’t make everything better and sometimes, breathing just doesn’t work.  

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But all of that together, with good people and good vibes, and grounding ourselves in looking at things with compassion, and not assuming malicious intent, can peace be welcomed. 

It took me a bit longer today and I was very out of character, but it’s because I needed to be reminded of the signs of when I stray from center and how to get back. 

Practice makes perfect. I will continue to practice of letting go of the things I cannot control and to change the things that I can, in order to create a life for myself that I am proud of and value for the world that is needed. The universe has my back, and everything is happening and unfolding in the exact way that it should. 

I must remember to be grateful for the good. I am grateful to my friends and my support systems. Thank you for checking in, and letting me know you’re there. Felt it right in my soul. I am thankful for the luck and manifestation of my dreams and aspirations, of my progression upward professionally, and of the mentors in my life. 

I appreciate this life. I appreciate the people in it, even more.  Today was tough. Lost a bit of faith in humanity. There will be more. But tomorrow is another day. 

I will face it with love.  

04.23.2018 | Connection

It always creeps up on you, when you least expect it. The intangible things. How do you quantify something like connection? It’s like asking what frequency people vibe on? Which wavelength? 

I think it’s life’s way of giving people’s journeys a little more meaning and making the process a little more interesting.

It took me a bit to heal and recenter my focus on myself and find stability. It took until early this year, but I finally feel as if I’m whole as I am and that came with the realization that I hadn’t known such a beautiful thing. At least, not in this way. 

“I moved to New York 8 months ago and am getting into the groove of defining my career and pursuing the paths I think were meant for me. Committed for the first time in my life, to myself and myself alone and not ready to lose that just yet.”

I had to reject someone the other day. I still think I wasn’t able to do it well. 

I’m not ready to lose that just yet, but I also shouldn’t ever be ready to lose myself. Not for a relationship and not within a relationship, either. And if the right person came along, I would hope that they wouldn’t let me get away from myself. That the version of myself when I was around them, is my favorite version of myself. 

That goes for not only just in a relationship with a partner, but also relationships with my friends.  

Been more focused and invested in fewer people lately. I don’t think it’s a bad thing, because I find myself liking me more and more as I spend more and more time with these people who affirm my good qualities. People who make me feel good about myself, and grateful that I am me. People that lift me up. People who remind me of my strengths, when I am already so self-critical of my weaknesses.  

I think it’s easy to be skeptical of others, to be distrusting when there’s been so much hurt and pain in the world. There’s someone in particular, that I was very, very careful about. Probably because I really liked him off the bat and that was unsettling, but a large part because I couldn’t read or understand him and that was even scarier. I realize now, that I was afraid of rejection or judgement. But instead of giving that power for others to pass, I must remind myself to refocus and recenter on validation and assurance for myself. And to make the decision to invest in people who make me feel better about myself - it’s a two way street. 

Been getting to know said person these past few weeks, and I think that initial impression and discomfort has evolved into something of more substance and depth. Human beings are complex, emotional, layered creatures, but that’s what makes getting to know others so fascinating. It’s what makes relationships and human connection so fulfilling. 

09.07.2018 | From Me to Me

Dear Cece,

I’m super sleepy right now, but wanted to check in. I hope you’re taking care of yourself and I hope this path you’ve chosen is still right for you and solidified in your dreams and aspirations. I hope it feels right, as right as it did when you first walked onto Columbia’s campus earlier this year.  

I know this work is difficult sometimes, that it’s emotionally draining, thankless, and financially difficult. But please also remember that it is impactful and life-changing in many ways. Social work is the profession of people and you at your core, your very core, believe and love people. Believe they can be anything. You touch them. Don’t lose that no matter how difficult it gets. Don’t lose that hope and light when things don’t seem to go as planned. As long as you follow your passion, only good things will come. 

LOVE YOURSELF FIRST. 

God knows you deserve it. You’ve come so far. You’ve learned so, so much and I’m so proud of you. There’s always more work to be done, but continue to celebrate your successes. 

I hope you’ve learned and grown even more. Raised your EQ. Learned to manage people and organizations. Found more focus. Taken a dive with that mental health idea. I think it’s great - make taking care of yourself a priority and an accessible commodity.  

I hope you’ve found and fallen in love again. I hope it’s healthy and everything you’ve dreamed. I hope your art is still pivotal in your life. That your family is closer. That you’ve continued to form and keep quality relationships. Financial independence.

And above all, love for yourself. 

Love Always,

Cece

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Got my letter to my future self back from my advisor today - making my own damn self cry.  

Poem | I miss..

It wasn’t the relationship

that I missed.

I haven’t had many, 

Really only one before you

to be exact.  

Although he made mistakes

he was very kind and our relationship 

was very safe, 

very healing.  

I guess that’s why  

we lasted so long.  

We built and mended 

loved and nurtured  

for six years.

All of my adult life then.

Yet, I don’t feel like  

any of that time was wasted. 

I wouldn’t have had it any other way;

I wouldn’t have had it

with anyone else.

We learned to compromise

to meet each other halfway. 

We learned to communicate, 

in authenticity, in truth. 

We learned to love,  

even when it was hard.  

I think that’s why when we started,  

I had a different understanding of what a relationship

could be. 

And that’s why it hurt me so much,  

that you couldn’t bring yourself to truly listen and understand me.  

I don’t miss the relationship.  

It was oftentimes painful, 

like my insides had fallen to my feet. 

Many a night, 

I felt fear.  

Afraid you would leave me, 

afraid of making you unhappy. 

Afraid, 

of not being enough.  

Of never being enough. 

Afraid,  

of you.  

I don’t miss the relationship.  

Nobody would. 

In my naïveté, I still wanted to make it work. 

Because I had never loved anything or anyone more deeply. 

My soul had never, 

met its match.  

I don’t miss the relationship.  

I’m not even entirely sure I miss you. 

Not the you from back then, anyway. 

I miss... 

How I felt about you.  

How it felt to be seen for the first time, to be truly loved. 

I miss loving like that. 

Unconditionally.  

 

03.14.2019 | Advocacy


As the world was reveling in the Jordyn Woods, Tristan Thompson, Kardashian drama that America has come to love and worship, the ground beneath us rotted just a bit more.

Just a few months ago in October 2018,  leading climate scientists and the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a report warning that global warming can be kept at a maximum increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius for only 12 more years. Any more, and we will continue to see increased disasters and extreme weather conditions like droughts, floods, extreme heat and resulting death and poverty for hundreds of millions of people.

As a species, we are now in the midst of witnessing the consequences of our choices - extreme weather and natural disasters have and are continuing to devastate our country. In the past 6 years, 21 hurricanes have raged through America. Three category 5 hurricanes (have been especially damaging, physically and economically: Katrina, Rita, Wilma. Katrina has also been the costliest, valued at $81 Billion dollars in damages, still rising and affecting Louisiana’s economy still. Puerto Rico also has not fully recovered.

And why is that?

Why is it that areas that are predominantly homes to people of color, are dismissed and treated as unimportant? When fires raged in California and millionaires were fearing for their Calabasas mansions, aid was sent quickly and evacuation handled effectively.

Where was that care after Katrina? After Hurricane Maria?

Even in a city as liberal and progressive as New York, people consistently forget that social issues are so inherently tied to environmental issues and environmental justice. It’s no surprise that areas that are predominantly black and brown, receive little to no attention from the government systems built to support them. When we fail to look at the entire ecosystem with all the systems at play, including natural systems, we are failing to advocate efficiently and holistically.

In racism, we can’t only fight for equality for blacks alone or the entire movement falls apart. We fight collectively for blacks, Asians, latinxs, all people of color that are oppressed by the status quo. We look at Flint without clean water in our own country. Wars in Africa over diminishing clean water sources. When we fight for the environment, we fight for equity and we fight for justice.

The most important system of our era, may very well be the Natural System. Without it, life will cease to exist.

03.19.2019 | Naming.

In a way, I think it’s necessary to voice raw, unfiltered feelings if not just to get them out there. It’s difficult to work through things if you’re in denial about them, or subliminal.

I think I actually hate, you.

Those are very strong words, coming from me.

I don’t want to quiet myself because I’m worried about others, not for this. 

You are a demon, and you are a monster. I tried to tell myself you weren’t, but deep down I think that’s exactly how I think of you - ugly, both inside and out. You make choices that are selfish and you put yourself first, before anyone else. For the record, my friends don’t like you either, so if you could please stop reaching out to them. That’s not limited to just here in New York, but back in Los Angeles, in San Francisco, in Texas. Please don’t infect them with your narcissism. 

I understand there’s a lot of bias, but objectively speaking, you really are not as great as you think your instagram is portraying. You’re really not worth all the attention you so viciously need. 

But if I really think about it, there’s some of that dislike in there for myself. 

People are attracted to people when they see what they like in others, and the reverse is also true. People don’t like in others what they see in themselves. 

I don’t like the selfish parts of myself, the aggressive, overbearing moments I have when I take up too much space. When I’m possessive, when I would rather be right than to be kind. I worry about being too concerned with what I want and being seen as a good person through it all. 

And I hate that in you.  

“I’m a very sweet person” is something that you say a lot, whether you’re posing yourself the question or feel it’s something that you need to explicitly prove. Similarly, I myself am insecure in being a good person, because for so long I was told by the person who was supposed to love me, didn’t believe in me. 

I’m sure you have your battles, your hurts and your pains. I’m sure in another life, we could have been healing for one another, or helpful.  

In this moment, however, you have only been harmful. In these past few months, all you have shown is disregard. Although you May be very sharp in some ways, you’re completely lost in others. I think you lack awareness, but above that, you lack humility. To check yourself and see where you fall short and admit that you may have been wrong, hurtful. And I don’t want to spend any more hours wondering about whether you cared about me at all and trying to analyze why you are the way are, agonizing over how much I should meet you where you’re at and find enough compassion in myself to forgive you.

Letting go is difficult, especially for me. I’ve waited lifetimes for apologies I have deserved and have still not received. But when I finally came to the conclusion that our relationship, in all of its broken glory, is not meant for me, I felt a little bit lighter. I don’t need to be around people who drag me down, who take up my mental and emotional space. I can choose to cultivate relationships that are healing, relationships that come from compassion in times of conflict. 

Relationships that aren’t this one.

Not taking any more of your bullshit.  

#IDFWU

Poem | If.

If you wanted to come back, 

you would.  

 

Letting you go. 

Letting the universe lead me where it will. 

 

Believing in a better life out there.  

Haiku | Inside Out.

I pity you cause

you fail to recognize that

you’re a narcissist.

I wonder if you

might have picked up a trait

or two from back then.

You stayed too long, now

gaslight and manipulate are

part of your language.

I pity you but

I also believe that the

world will serve judgement.

you are dying from

the inside out, your core black

and your stomach weak.

It’s not by chance but

by toxicity. Yet, I

still will try to love.

because it is in

my nature to be selfless

and compassionate.

I will do better

to forgive and let go of

things that don’t serve me.

I will be better,

I will grow and move forward.

Forever Friends

To My Forever Friend, This Is My Lifelong Vow To You

Ying sent me this while she was traveling abroad in Thailand and it honestly is the sweetest thing I’ve read this week.

We’re very, very different. Although we had more commonalities when we were growing up, in our late twenties now, we couldn’t be more opposite. She’s extremely shy and introverted, I’m extremely extroverted. She’s feminine, I’m not girly. She was an only child, I have a younger brother. She played basketball, and I hated it. She doesn’t like to drink or party, and I absolutely adore wine. She likes one on ones and small groups, my energy thrives on parties and meeting new people. She has trouble saying how she feels, I have trouble shutting up. She likes to go to Hello Kitty cafes, and I’m more of a street food, hole-in-the-wall person. She gets anxious going off on her own, and I frequently run off on solo backpacking trips.

We talk about it all the time: how if we had met today, we most likely wouldn’t be friends.

When you are so, so different, your relationship could be very strained and incredibly difficult to maintain. When two people struggle and struggle to connect because they are on opposite sides of the spectrum, it is oftentimes easier to quit altogether. To not be friends because of the work and the effort it takes to stay friends. There are times when we disagree, times when we butt heads. We’ve hurt each other and had hours of long talks about not understanding the other, right and wrong, our perceptions, misaligned values.

But at the end of the day, I know that at the core of our friendship - there is only love.

As hard as the conversation can be sometimes, I will put in the emotional labor and the time to talk it out because I respect her and I value her, if not more so because of her differences. Ying provides for me a perspective that challenges my own, and an existence that not only consistently pushes the boundaries of my relationships, but an existence that is irreplaceable.

I’m so very grateful that we are friends, that I’ve never lived a life without her.

“I don’t think many childhood friends can beat 8 months. The last 26 and something years have been a wild ride and with so many changes, but you were always a constant & a constant support. I owe much of my childhood and my experiences to you - you were there oftentimes when I didn’t have parents, when I didn’t have anyone. No words to describe what that did for me. I really looked forward to playing every weekend and thank you for letting me join all your family trips. Honestly a sister to me. I’ve never lived in a world without you in it, and I’m prepared to continue carrying you through its challenges as best as I can. “

My greatest wish for the world, is for everyone to experience a friendship like ours.

2018 Reflection

I found myself heartbroken and stagnant at the end of 2017, but it really is true that sometimes pain is necessary to make room for greater things to come. 2018 was a year of a lot of transitions and changes - to go places (both physically and emotionally) I had never gone, I needed to take risks and do things I'd never done. Following your dreams and forging a life for yourself is a terrifying thing, oftentimes that is why many don't attempt it. But you miss 100% of the shots you don't take. And if I had to regret something, I'd rather it have been something I had done, than something I hadn't. 

Seeing the world on my own on another one of those basic ass, vanilla, wanderlust-and-find-my-soul trips was one of those things.  

New York City, another.

Becoming a better future-mommy-in-training. Cooking (31/52). Reading (12/12). SOULCYCLE (SMTO & BRPK). Columbia University.

Castle Rock. Warriors vs. Timberwolves. Color Factory. Seattle. Lights Festival. Gokarting. Coachella. Yosemite. Iceland. Greece. Bosnia/Herzegovina. Montenegro. Croatia. Germany. Amalfi Coast, Italy. The Vatican. London. Amsterdam. Antwerp. Paris. LOVEBOX. Budapest. Ireland. Scotland. Kin & Pani. Madrid. Morocco. Sahara Desert. Barcelona. Rainbow House, Big Sur. Tough Mudder (lol, why). Pumpkin Patch. 27 at Reception Bar. Porter Robinson Halloween. Mexico City. HER. (I left my ♥️ in) SF. 

Discernment. Understanding. Acceptance. 

2018 brought for me an even deeper awareness of myself and of others, but more importantly, this past year challenged my beliefs in my relationships and in life, causing me to look inward and to ask myself how I could do better, to be better. To always strive towards the best version of myself, to be ever-evolving. 

What isn't represented in these 9 photos, is all of the people that were pivotal to that journey. The people who were there when I was at my lowest, who swam the rivers I cried. Who celebrated my highs and told me that I was good enough, that I was loved as I am. The ones that continuously pulled me up, and pushed me forward. 

It took me 27 years, but the greatest lesson I've learned from 2018 is that of unconditional love from the diamonds in my life. 

You know who you are. 

Looking to spread more compassion and love in 2019.

Happy New Year. 

26 / 2018

26 taught me:

1. People want to be validated, to be  heard, to be SEEN. Worse than hate, is being ignored. Is not existing. See people, even if it causes you discomfort. Listen, even if you don’t want to hear it.

2. Growth sometimes requires discomfort and pain. I have never grown more than through heartbreak and heartache. Take the traumas I’ve had and revel and be grateful for them because they’ve taught me more than any professor or any book or any Ivy League school. 

3. You also grow through joy, through love, through connection. You don’t know what you don’t know. And when you meet someone or feel something you never thought possible, it changes the way you perceive the world forever. You deserve to be happy, everyday.

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4. Ivy League schools ain’t shit. The brand of Columbia doesn’t translate to people that are better, more woke, more intelligent. Look past the pedigree, and gauge people for who they are as a whole.

5. You don’t have to be friends with everyone. It’s okay to say, no. And you don’t have to stay friends with everyone. It’s okay to let people go, and it’s okay to step back from relationships that drain you or bring you down. It doesn’t make you a worse person. It makes you someone who loves yourself.

6. People will show you who they really are, let them. They’re on their own journey to find their truths. If it doesn’t align with yours, that’s okay. Find peace with it, forgive anyways, be compassionate anyway. They don’t all have to be your best friends. Some people are better for certain roles in your life. Let them. 

7. When you find the gems from the rocks, keep them. Invest in them. Love them and help them grow.

Diamonds are forever.

8. Realize that people will never meet your expectations. You yourself will never meet your expectations. Unconditional love is not having any expectations, it’s supporting someone else even if it makes you uncomfortable. It means supporting yourself for not being perfect.

12.21.2018 | A

Ro mentioned in Mexico City, that as late as this past March, A had told her something at Nikki’s birthday at Empire. 

That we should’ve dated and he’s always wondered how we would’ve been. That we might’ve worked out, if timing did. That he liked me. 

It’s interesting how your past comes to find you in ways you least expect.  

Strengths and Weaknesses

From Ken, 

Charisma, everybody likes you. You could make anybody like you.  Energy, drive, motivation, thirst for life.

Obliviousness, you move forward even when you’re told not to. You do things that you want regardless of other people’s fears. You believe the best in people to a fault. 

Obliviousness, in realizing that other people can be affected. In naïveté, that some people aren’t as amazing as you make them out to be. Oblivious to faults in others and you come across disappointment.

Sensationalist. Idealism, head in the clouds. So excited about the beginning, you forego the possibility.  Reckless abandon. 

Focus. Hone in on what you need to do. Pay attention, be present. 

8.8.2018 | Me Before You.

From my travels, I needed this today. I needed to remember what I wrote after watching this movie. 

August 8th, 2018

Me Before You.

To choose death in order to let your love fly free, is the most unselfish thing I can think of. 

If you love them, let them go.

If you really loved someone, you wouldn’t stand in their way. Whether it’s Me Before You or Every Day. The themes are the same. To let go of love even if it’s what you both want because it would make them happier without you, and maybe that in itself is the highest form of love. Unconditional love. 

And maybe that’s what Kevin gave to me.

He knew he wanted something different and couldn’t give me what I needed. Couldn’t have made me a better person. Knew I was destined for more. He said that before, that I would be President. That he finds it amazing what I do. And he’s looking for the same thing for himself. A love like that, is something of a different caliber.

Because it’s naive to think that. To think that “I can do it, I can change for you.” I can give these things up for you when you know that deep down you can’t. Love isn’t the fairy tale that Hollywood sells you. Love isn’t enough to make it all work out. There are compromises and things you give up and sometimes people just don’t want to give up those things. The ones that understand that first are also usually the ones to reason it out. In the same way that I knew Mack and me wouldn’t see eye to eye in a future, Kevin saw that in us. He spent the time and really took the time to figure that out. To realize when was a good time to set me free.

He’s ahead of me in that respect. The acceptance and letting go. Understanding what we both wanted and needed.

 

“I feel like I held you back.”

 

Letting me be free. That was the biggest gift he could’ve given me.

Freedom from a relationship that would’ve hurt and caused me pain for the rest of my life.

If we’re supposed to find each other again, we will. But in the meantime, I will find and forge my own path.

Friendsgiving 2018

I don’t usually like Thanksgiving, because my family couldn’t do it right. My single dad and my brother and I would always eat at a Chinese restaurant and it wasn’t anything special. But this year it feels different. Because you are all here, I feel warmth in a city that is so cold and unforgiving. It feels like I have a family in a city like New York. Family doesn’t have to be blood. 

As some of you may know, I’ve always been friends with everyone and making tons of friends everywhere but I’ve realized lately that maybe not all of them deserve my time or a place in my life. I think I give a lot to people and to friendships and it’s oftentimes not reciprocated. Jovian told me that most people are rocks and I should look for the gems. I want to be more intentional about who I spend time with and who I keep in my life. I think everyone in this room tonight is a gem and I hope that you stay in my life awhile, because diamonds are forever. 

 

 

27

I have so much gratitude. 

Yesterday came and went and I am thankful that every year I feel all the love and support from the people around me. 

I’ve been making it an effort to really distinguish the people that I should keep in my life and realized that there are actually so many good people around me already. 

So many that care for me. 

I oftentimes didn’t feel enough love growing up, but I can say with confidence that I have it in abundance now. I have been very fortunate to have crossed paths with some of the best people in this world. In some ways, it’s validation that I myself am good enough. Good enough to be considered a friend to all these amazing souls. To be considered, cared about.

Good enough.  

Thank you to everyone for coming to dinner and to Reception Bar.

Thank you to Angela for the cupcakes, for the wine, for cooking dinner with me, for spending the weekend in NYC, getting along with my friends. Thank you for living with me and being such a support in my life. 

My heart is so full. 


(Thank you Brandon for coming anyways, even though it was closing down.)

Thank you to Ken, Nikki and Becka for remembering and calling me at midnight. 

Thank you to Vicky, Jolie, Daniel, Ryan for calling or leaving voice messages. 

Thank you to Laura who texted me at midnight from New Zealand. 

Thank you to Lawrence for always checking in on me. 

Brandon: Ur my bestie at school too don’t worry / Wauw, feasting as queens should.

Dom: Hbd bb girl ❤️

Mark: love you too Cece :) 

Daniel: Happy Birthday CECE, sorry I couldn’t make your shelf for you. / Aha I laugh at your jokes cause they’re funny. / I’ll call later, today

Vicky: I love you Cece! Sorry I haven’t called to catch up yet but wanted to wish you a happy ass bday this year / it marks yet another big a new change :)

Jack: Dude I will fake marry, have kids and move to the Hamptons with you any day 🙌

Kim: Happy birthday my love ❤️❤️❤️ I’m so proud of everything you’ve accomplished this year! Seriously it amazes me everyday that you seem to have no limits and no bounds as far as energy drive and passion. I’m honored to have you as a friend and I can’t wait to see what this next year has in store for you. I love you and miss you!!! Can’t wait to see this weekend.

Ryan: hi cece / Happy Birthday! I just got free so I couldn’t call earlier / Hope you have a wonderful birthday week! I miss you and happy you're a part of my life! / Octobers are now great months :) / I definitely miss your energy. 

Allie: Hey love I know it’s your bday in 45 minutes! But am going to sleep now. So HAPPY OFFICIAL BIRTHDAY MY LOVE! Thank you for being such a beautiful person inside and out. You are so special to so many people, and are going to touch so many lives. 😘 love you and happy birthday 🎂

KP: Cece!!! Happy birthday, you beautiful, wonderful forever friend! Hope you’re celebrating in style today!! Can’t wait to see you this weekend (ahhh)! 

 “I LOVE YOU KP!! So excited to see you too. ♥️ thank you and thank you so much for being a big part of my life. So happy to have met you.”

❤️ I feel the same way! So glad our friendship has continued to strengthen over the years. Excited to add another city we’ve hung out in together, too!

Keanu: Major happy birthday shoutout to my dear friend Cece Chu! I’m super stoked to have met someone as incredible as you during this wild adventure at CSSW. Thank you for always being a genuine and constant source of love, and for supporting not just myself but everyone you’ve come into contact with. I can’t imagine where I’d be currently without you, your hugs, and your energy. Love you, my friend. I hope that you have a day that’s as beautiful as your spirit. Here’s to another successful rotation around the sun ❤️❤️❤️

Kai: Happy Birthday!!!!! What an exciting time to welcome 27 in New York. New place, new energy, new people, new beginnings, new food...you get it. I’m looking forward to seeing what this year brings for you✨ lots of love, light, and laughs. And hopefully more time for me and you!

Gurpal: Hug!!!!  My Lil C. Happy birthday! I’m so grateful, honored, and happy to have your friendship. I wish you the very best this world has to offer. You are a great soul and you just ooze light. I hope you never change ❤️❤️❤️. Happy birthday C

Michael: Happy birthday, Cece!! Hope you had an amazing one (looked like it!) 😊 Glad to see you’re doing so well in NYC and living your best life - and making friends everywhere, as always! 😜 TJ and I will catch you there next year!! Love you! ❤️

Marcela: Happy birthday!!! Wishing you the happiest of birthdays I hope life is great, I love you ❤️❤️

Jake: Happy birthdayyyyy / To many more dumb arguments to come. 

“We always make up though 👫😂“

LOL / ofc

Miller: Happy birthday Ceec!!!!! / Love ya / Can’t wait for Mexico

Rose: HAPPY BIRTHDAY CECE!!! Sending you my love ❤️

 “I was always grateful (and thanked you a million times already) for coming out to my birthday, means a lot / I think you’re so genuine and I really value that in people.”

Aww I’m the one that’s supposed to spoil you with kind words!! You are one of the most sweetest and most fun out of Eric’s friends and I always feel like family when we hang out. There aren’t many people that I can say that about. Thank you for always watching out for me!

Zane: Assuming today is your actual birthday! Hbd CeCe! So glad to have met you!!

Tiff: Btw I’m so late.... but happiest of birthdays Cece (I think it’s today)!!!! Hope you were treated like a queen 💕

From Andi

From Andi

From Cesar

From Cesar

From Becka, who made me cry on the subway.

From Becka, who made me cry on the subway.

Derek: Happy birthday Cece! Looked like NY treated you well. ❤️

Derek: Happy birthday Cece! Looked like NY treated you well. ❤️

Out of character for Papa Chu ;)

Out of character for Papa Chu ;)

From Gordon

From Gordon

10.23.2018 | It’s cold outside

Not even sure where to begin, it’s been a minute since I’ve felt like this. 

Unsure of whether it’s the weather or the wine, but it feels like I’m right back to where I started so many months ago. Even though I’ve come so far, there are still days where I can’t get you out of my mind. 

It’s infuriating, always taking steps forward and so many more backward. There are days when I wish I didn’t love so deeply, so unconditionally. It would make moving on easier, compartmentalizing possible.

At the same time, it must’ve meant something that it’s hurt me this deeply for this long. 

From Soy, 

 “That may sound like it’s been a while but if you think about it it’s not that much time at all. You guys dated for a while no? And so during that time you dated he was essentially your best friend. It might be easy for some people to get over a relationship, but getting over your best friend is a while other story.

You just need some time. Theres no formula to calculate how long it’ll take for your heart to heal. Everyone is different and every relationship is different. The way I see it, the longer it takes and harder it is to get over someone, it just means that person was that much more important to you. And if that’s the case then i’d say the relationship deserves all the time it needs to heal.”  

I still miss Kev sometimes. 

It’s been a year and I still miss him sometimes. 

Even if it doesn’t make sense. When you love someone with so much, it’s so hard to not have a part of them with you as you move on. I miss Kev all the time. Sometimes I’m angry about it, and other times I’m sad it didn’t work out. 

Were we that wrong for each other? Or were we right but we weren’t ready to handle it? The part of life where you have no idea is tough, I don’t know how to let go of my future to the universe. But I guess there isn’t any choice. 

Baby, it’s cold outside. 

CSSW / PROP | J6 Historical Trauma

I first heard about historical trauma from my supervisor at my last nonprofit back in California.

Let’s call her Lara. She was a White Jewish woman from an affluent family. Her dad was a doctor and she grew up in Los Gatos, California. She had beautiful blue eyes, long curly hair and liked hip hop - she mentioned that a lot.

To Lara, the atrocities of the Holocaust affected both of her grandmothers who lived and survived concentration camps and subsequently generations in her family. Lara said she used to get anxious and triggered whenever World War II or Germany or Nazis were mentioned in her classes, in history books, or in the media. She would feel an overwhelming grief whenever the subject was mentioned because it made her think about her family members suffering through Nazi Germany. She called it historical trauma.

To be completely honest, I wasn’t sure I believed it. I wasn’t sure I believed her. How could trauma from someone’s else’s life, of which you have no direct experience, end up affecting your emotional makeup and psyche? How could you take ownership of that injustice yourself?

Lara majored in Nonprofit Management in her undergraduate studies and knew at an early age she wanted to help people; she arrested a lot of that urge to make an impact from the strength of her grandmothers. She wasn’t much older than me, only a few years or so but because it was a small nonprofit with a staff of four, she became my Program Manager. To be fair, she majored in the field and had experience through Americorps down near Compton and the south side of Los Angeles.

Friends for Youth was a children’s nonprofit that offered mentoring services, both 1-to-1 (which I ran for a year and a half) and school-based group mentoring. We worked with marginalized communities that were low-income and predominantly Latinx - many struggling with basic survival necessities and mental health issues.

Lara was a very particular manager. She wanted things a certain way and had a difficult time stepping back and refraining from micromanaging. She was anxious and wanted to have a hand in every part of the organization, even things that others were responsible for. Oftentimes, her leadership felt overbearing and from a framework of dominant culture. Her way or no way. Her successes alone, or our failures collectively.

I really struggled under her management.

Lara had an affinity for Latinx culture and according to her, it was because she studied abroad in Chile and has dated multiple Latino men. But from my perspective, she was so focused on Latinx culture, that global cultural understanding and diversity fell by the wayside. There were multiple times she has insinuated that Asians didn’t need help, because as a group they stood on equal ground with Whites. That Asian kids didn’t really need mentors and there was a reason that our board members and our mentor population was predominantly White and Asian. That I also wouldn’t understand our kids’ issues because she assumed my narrative was that of an upper middle class Asian American.

It was this same mentality that pushed kids away from her and caused a disconnect with other staff members and partners that worked with her. Her interest in our marginalized populations felt fetishist and our relationship became strained because I felt as if my work and my life’s challenges weren’t validated.

It was this same mentality that made me skeptical of her historical trauma from the Holocaust.

It was hard for me to believe that a White-passing, rich Jewish girl from an upper class neighborhood in California had ever experienced any pain, any obstacles in her life. Her parents were high school sweethearts. Her dad, a doctor. Her sisters, making well over average salaries. Her having to never have to worry about a future or food on the table. It was very hard for me to believe someone as basic as “Lara” could understand what it possibly meant to be a person of color and to go through this world with chains on your wrists and balls to your ankles before you can even walk. To be told that there are ceilings for us - places we cannot go and heights we will never reach simply because of the color of our skin.

How could Lara understand? How dare she say, she is also a victim of the Holocaust and “historical trauma”.

But that was a projection on my part. Lara made me feel as if my experiences and my challenges through life were invalid. That I was part of the problem. That I probably lived a life as if I were White. Maybe a life quite like hers.

I was hurt and I was angry. I didn’t want to understand her. I didn’t want to see that maybe her own challenges existed, that it wasn’t about comparison anyways. It wasn’t the Oppression Olympics.

But I was wrong.

Historical Trauma is very real. It’s been proven that trauma can actually change the way that genes are expressed. That anxiety and stress do in fact permeate through generations. Genes are literally changed in the way that they are expressed - chemical modifications in genetic make-up activates and silences parts of genes that then get passed through reproduction and replication.

Lara had really bad anxiety and extreme empathy for others despite not understanding their narratives through personal experience. These may very well have resulted from her grandmothers’ constant stress and fear living in concentration camps during WWII. That their pain and suffering manifested itself genetically and passed on in their DNA. That historical trauma has affected the Native Americans, the Jewish and the African Americans and continues to do so today. As a people, we can’t count on short term fixes for any kind of pain on the scale of genocide, war, slavery and the violations of human rights. We have to look at problems and solutions to them holistically and generationally.

I’m sorry, Lara.

We have to look at people with kindness, even when they’ve forsaken us. Even then they think their problems are the only problems in this world. Even when they tell us, we haven’t experienced hardship.

We must believe them anyway.

Humanity will never take a step forward if we don’t.