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May 2024

May 2024




I have to be honest, I was strongly considering NOT writing a May blog. I had several reasons. Like many bloggers, I always wonder if what I'm writing is having any impact on anyone. I'm also flying to Japan this month, so that really seemed like the best excuse. But, if I'm honest with myself and you, it's really because in our culture, May is centered around Mothers, and THAT is a tough topic for me. Like many American women with Asian moms, it's a very complex relationship. It makes me feel so guilty to even write that. I have friends who have lost their mothers and would give anything for even another hour with them. I also have friends whose children have chosen to not have a relationship with them and I can relate to their children in many ways.


The myth that “All mothers are loving all the time" is just that; a lie. We've been taught as a culture to bury the complex reality of the mother/daughter relationship behind sugary sweet Hallmark greeting card versions of motherhood. It also promotes the notion that Mothers and Daughters should be Besties and share every last thought with each other. It brings up unnecessary guilt for us as adult daughters. There is no place in our culture for the complex truth of our relationship.


In my life, I substituted what I lacked with a series of Other Mothers. Women who were older than I am that I looked up to as Mother Figures. They enriched my life a hundred fold and I am so grateful to each of them. Starting with my college boyfriend’s mother, who really loved me unconditionally and was such an encourager. I had never been encouraged by anyone female in my life until I met her. Then, when I got into the working world, I was blessed by a woman in my corporation who I just clicked with. She was my sounding board for years. She was a straight shooter and was always able to tell me what I needed to hear. My friendship started with her when I was a very, very new mom. I remember complaining to her one day about how impossible my own mother was to please. She stopped turned around and told me to sit down. Then I will never forget what she said, “Diane. Consider the possibility that your mom is just doing the best she can. She is human just like you and I. Maybe this is just the very best she can do. And when she can do better, she will. Consider that. If she has taught you nothing else, she has taught you how to be a survivor. Some day, you might appreciate her more than you do now.”


So some thirty plus years have passed since that conversation and all my Other Mothers are gone. My real mother is still a Survivor at 89. She has survived WWII, cancer, moving countries where she still cannot speak the language very well, and estrangement from her family of origin. Yet she survives. Her Concierge Physician says she is in impeccable health. She finally lives alone after my dad and two subsequent boyfriends have passed. She complains of being so, so lonely. Yet, she is not open to any suggestions of changing up her routine. Stubborn. Survivor.


Do I finally enjoy spending time with her? No. She goes right for the jugular each and every time commenting on my weight, my daughter’s weight and about how she lacks a man in her life. So much goodness right in front of her yet she always concentrates on the negative, the lack, the deficit. We are opposites.


I have learned about boundaries and how to protect my heart. I found that seeing my mom (?) two hours about four times a year is the perfect formula.


But here is what the passing of time and being a mother myself has taught me. It has taught me curiosity, kindness and to try to have zero expectations so there is no disappointment.


I find that I'm always looking around for examples of how to be a better mother myself. It is probably the most imperfect part of my life. Without good role modeling you are really groping in the dark. Trial and Error. And with each decade of your child’s life the relationship shape shifts and you are back to the drawing board. But I don’t give up. I ask myself what my Other Mothers would do. And I realize it’s not what they would “do” per se but rather how they made me feel: loved, cared for and wanted. So I'm guided by those thoughts as I continue to navigate each chapter of motherhood well into my 60’s.


I'm returning to Japan this month, where I was born and lived for my first sixteen years. It is such a part of me yet I have never been able to figure out what that really means. Being a mixed race child was always a seesaw of not enough or too much. The Japanese would call me banana. Yellow on the outside and white on the inside. I definitely consider myself more American than Japanese. Yet there are certain things where my considerations are definitely Japanese. I dream in American but my sentence structure is often Japanese and has to be re-written, time and time again.


If you have trouble navigating the Mother Wound, I highly recommend reading Bethany Webster’s book, Discovering The Inner Mother. She has dedicated her work to the topic and I've found that studying her work has softened my heart and made me more curious.

I have also been a student of Tara Mohr, author of Playing Big and am enrolled in her latest course that is by invite only but should be available by the end of the year. It is called Loving Well. Someone asked me recently to describe what I'm getting out of it. I am not through it yet but I know that it has contributed to what my year has been dedicated to which is to be like water. Are you familiar with the below Bruce Lee quote?


I'm working on any rigid beliefs or opinions I needlessly cling to. I am reminded time and time again about flow and how nothing stays the same. Be it good or bad, it is just a second in time and can change.

“Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves. 

Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.”

― Bruce Lee



It would not be a proper spring post without some mention of Spring Cleaning. I am very lucky that a friend of mine, Nicole Kincaid, is an expert in just that! Nicole has been helping people with decluttering and organizing for over 30 years, calling her work Stuffology. She offers classes, in person and online help, and also has a group decluttering offering called the Stuffology Lab. She also loves to do in person trainings and presentations. Nicole's Stuffology work is gentle, yet smart, sensitive and kind. In a presentation I recently hosted for her, I loved where she had us close our eyes and imagine entering the rooms in our homes and giving each room a number to determine how feel about your home. Enlightening! If you have been procrastinating about getting rid of stuff that is clogging your life, I know she is worth the investment. For ALL the information on Nicole, just head to her website. Nicole travels and can does her work virtually also. Here are some of her tips that I really appreciate and that resonate. You can grab the full handout when you sign up for her newsletter!  

Enjoy your May and remember my one-on-one coaching spots open up again in June! Let this be the year you invest in yourself!


Coach Diane

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