You Sure Know How To Make Grace Cry

I want to belong to a community that values community over self, expression over silence, humility over ego, authenticity over artificial, and above all, love over hate.

Stop Drop And Dance

Dear Friends,

Yesterday after my 9:30am Stop Drop And Dance class, I was starting to say goodbye when all of a sudden, everyone started holding up “Thank You” and appreciation signs on their little Zoom screens. It really caught me off guard, and I was SO confused. What was going on?? Then someone said to tell my husband to check the front door, and sure enough, there was a beautiful vase with bright orange flowers and a touching card plus chocolate bars! And then? My girls ran off to get their homemade signs, and even THEY knew about it?? I was totally baffled and overwhelmed, and no, it’s not my birthday. Seriously, how did this happen and who was the thoughtful and brilliant mastermind behind it?? I still don’t know, but thank you for making me cry in the best way. Thank you to all of you who were a part of it, and thank you to all of you who are taking the time to read this right now.

As embarrassing as it is to show, here is a video clip of what went down on Saturday morning and you can witness my genuine confusion:

I sure feel the love.

Because you are reading this, we share a connection. Maybe you are one of my students, maybe I am one of yours. Maybe we hang out in person, maybe we only know each other through our social media usernames. Maybe you dance with me every single week, maybe you’ve never taken one of my classes before. Maybe we share the same viewpoints, maybe we don’t. But for whatever reason, you and I are connected through this post and I want to tell you:

I see you, I care about you, and I appreciate YOU.

We rarely know what seeds we’ve sown. But every single moment, we are changing the world. An email, a text message, a phone call, a conversation, a blog post, a video, an interaction with a stranger… everything has a ripple effect.

I remember the people who called 911 when I was 16 years old and I passed out in front of their house from anaphylactic shock (shrimp allergy). I remember my Harcourt Publishing finance boss during my college internship who told me that I should become a teacher if that was my heart’s calling. I remember my husband hopping into my one and only marathon race at mile 19 because I was hitting a wall. I remember the homes and the faces of people who lived in the slums of Mathare when I went on a Kenya missions trip. I remember the prayers that were given to me when I was terrified to be on bedrest during my first pregnancy. I remember the friends who celebrated my 40th birthday last year by doing something crazy-just-the-way-I-like-it: by dancing 40 songs together.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Maya Angelou

We will ALL remember 2020.

You don’t need me to recap the past 7 months, but it’s been a downhill slope for all of us in so many ways. If you didn’t see my social media Nutella post, well, this is my 15 second TikTok summary of 2020 so far.

My hope is that we will use the remaining 5 months of 2020 to climb back up that steep slope we’ve fallen down and spread more ripples of inspiration, of hope, of joy, of laughter, of courage, and of change…

I know I desperately need more good news to lift my spirits, and so I’d like to end this post with three bits of inspiration from this week, and one call to action.

1. Those of you there for my surprise on Saturday knew that my little one had a hip hop performance right after class. In a proud Mama moment, I just have to share this video. And I am almost tempted to teach her routine in one of my classes because Ms. Tara from Love2Dance just made the choreography look so so fun!

2. My signature “jump” logo that I use originally came from our closing birthday dance, “Da Da Ding.” I first heard this song from an inspiring Nike ad, and had to choreograph to it. Well, Nike has done it again. Have you watched their latest “You Can’t Stop Us” commercial that edited together 4,000 pieces of footage? Givin’ me chills.

3. Watch Morgan Freeman reading the final words of the late John Lewis, titled, “Together, You Can Redeem the Soul of Our Nation.” Mr. Lewis requested this essay to be published in the New York Times on the day of his funeral, but trust me, reading it is one thing. Listening to Morgan Freeman reading it, is a whole different experience.

Finally, a call to action: have you checked your voter registration? All you have to do is go to https://registertovote.ca.gov/ and make sure your address is up to date. If you’ve never voted, this is the year to start. Just enter your information so that you can get a ballot to your home. The last day to vote is not November 3rd. The last day for online and mail-in voting is OCTOBER 19th.

We are finishing 2020 on a positive note.

Right??? Right. I am beyond grateful for you and I thank you for being part of my Stop Drop And Dance community. As I said in my video, “I wish I could give you all hugs.”

Love,

Grace

Insane in the Membrane: My First Covid-19 Test

“The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.”

Coretta Scott King

Dear Friends,

This past week, I got a sore throat, followed by a stuffy nose, runny nose, and head congestion. Of course, I got paranoid that I might have caught Covid-19. My husband has been getting tested every week for work and he doesn’t have it, so he was sure I was fine. But I wanted to make sure. So I went in for my first test.

If you have done it before, now you understand the title of my blog this week, “Insane in the Membrane.”

For those of you that haven’t taken a test yet, well, let me explain. First, they give you a tissue. Then they take something that looks like a q-tip, but twice as long, and they stick it up your nose and twist it around for 5 seconds. When you’re ready, they do the other nostril. During this time, you are supposed to be calm and trying to breathe steady. Instead, you will be the opposite of calm. Your eyes will water. You probably won’t be breathing. And it does feel like the q-tip goes into your BRAIN. Definitely NOT the most pleasant experience. But it’s super fast and obviously super important.

Thank goodness that’s done! But there is a real dread when you’re waiting for the results. I tried to re-think all the places I had been in the past 2 weeks, any people I might have seen, and worried that I would have to call each of them to tell them they were exposed. I thought of the next 2 weeks and any plans I might have had, and would have to cancel. Then there’s the question of how to quarantine in a house as a sick mom with my kids…

My result was negative. SUCH a sigh of relief. But, not everyone is so lucky… we need to all keep doing our best to stop the spread and stay safe.

Science is Real.

Last week after I posted my blog, my dad sent me a link to a video of 2 guys trying to do an act of kindness by giving away free masks in Huntington Beach… but the people they encountered were either on the anti-mask or Covid-is-a-hoax side. Have you seen this video??? I was blown away!!! Once again, this is California and I guess I just never really questioned that phrase, “Science is real.” The world is insane. Covid-19 is real!!! Please wear your mask!!!

Black Lives Matter.

I’m sure we’ve all been following the Black Lives Matters protests, but specifically in Portland, it is Day 60 of endless stories like US Navy Veteran Chris David getting beaten to ask a question or Lewis & Clark History Department Chair Maureen Healy shot at a friendly protest (thank you Jean for sharing). There are moments of hope, humanity, and inspiration, such as the Wall of Vets, Wall of Moms, and Wall of Dads, but the struggle is far from ending. Why is peaceful protesting met with tear gas and violence? Keep educating yourself and staying in the conversation.

No Human Is Illegal.

I saw a false video that Hurricane Hanna knocked down part of the US-Mexico wall. As humorous as it might have been against Trump if that were real, it made me dig deeper into the phrase, no human is illegal. Humans can do something illegal, but humans aren’t illegal. It’s not a label we want to attach to anyone or any race. Taking it to my own personal life, I relate it to talking to my girls about how they might have made a bad choice. And they make LOTS of bad choices. However, I always emphasize that they are not bad kids. There is a huge difference in creating a label on a person versus their actions. No Human Is Illegal.

Love is Love.

If you need something on the happier side… watch these Golden Retriever parents adoring their new pups. Or did you know you can sing a duet with a cow? Or look at the hug my little one gave my older one to thank her for teaching her Volleyball. Maybe if we un-learn holding back, we could all show MORE love with our words and our actions, to the people right around us… and stop judging what love should look like. Love is love, and I still choose to believe that Love Overcomes Hate.

“Having a daughter does not make a man decent. Having a wife does not make a man decent. Treating people with dignity and respect makes a decent man.”

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Women’s Rights Are Human Rights.

Oh was this week crazy or what? Even on the steps of our Nation’s Capitol, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was called an unacceptable name by Representative Ted Yoho. AOC’s response on the House Floor is inspiration for women’s rights. Watch if you haven’t! Now I am inspired by the #challengeaccepted #womensupportingwomen #blackandwhitechallenge that is all over Instagram. Basically, women are tagging each other to post a black and white selfie of themselves, in support of women empowerment. I LOVE scrolling my Instagram feed and seeing the faces of all the beautiful, strong, and inspirational women in my life.

Kindness is Everything.

Now, with masks on our face, and 6 feet apart distancing, we have become even more of an unfriendly community. You can’t even tell if someone is smiling or frowning. And even if they are smiling or trying to be courteous, the body language of scooting aside adds on to the feeling of awkwardness.

So maybe…

Add a friendly “Excuse Me” AND “Thank You” if you have to pass by someone.

Wave your hand and say “Hello” if you pass someone on a trail.

Make eye contact and ask “How are you?” to a store employee.

That photo above of me jumping in front of the Golden Gate Bridge with friends Vicky and Sara, was taken by a stranger who saw us taking awkward selfies, and kindly offered to take a picture. We all hesitated, and my initial thought was “No, thank you.” Then I realized… I can sanitize my phone. I can sanitize my hands. It’s ok! It’s ok. Thank you so much, sir, for just being a normal human again, offering to do a kind gesture for another human.

Be safe, take precautions, but don’t be an unkind stranger. We are still a community that needs each other and we are a world that needs more kindness. A little effort to acknowledge someone else can go a long, long way.

Love,

Grace

Surviving Covid-19

“If you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have a moral obligation to do something about it.”

John Lewis

Dear Friends,

A few weeks back, I shared a TikTok video I had made about getting intentionally pushed by an older white male walking out of an ice cream shop in Half Moon Bay. I had a mask on and was with my daughters, but the man stood at the door and didn’t move aside. So we squeezed past, and he put his hand on my shoulder and pushed me out mumbling that I was too close. In that TikTok video, I also hinted that I thought it was wrong and unprofessional of Trump to mock Asian people in two of his recent speeches by calling Covid “Kung Flu” (which was followed with a sickening round of laughter from the audience).

My intention of sharing that video was to ask all of us to keep our eyes open for any kind of mistreatment, racism, or acts of hatrid against any person, and to stand up for even a stranger.

99.9% of the comments I received after that on TikTok were of compassion, understanding, love, and of the sentiment, “I stand with you.” Just to be clear, 100% of friends from Facebook and Instagram were in support of what I had posted.

Then there are always the .1% of haters on TikTok that completely shock me and literally make my jaw drop. The people that are either “closet haters” because they can hide faceless behind a screen and type out their true colors… or they’re just straight up mean. And this time, they’re not just little tweens critiquing my push up form. This time… these are real adults… a real eye-opening reflection of people in this world, well, mostly Americans.

Are you ready? I don’t know if you’re ready.

“Maybe thank the people who started this mess.”

“Wait, it’s not Kung Flu?”

“Everyone wants to be a victim now, it’s so trendy.”

“Making up stories to promote yourself is never ok.”

“You deserved to get pushed standing too close to someone without a mask.” (I was wearing a mask)

“Maybe stay back 6ft fool.”

“You maybe have Kung Flu… no get to close to many peoples… too dangerously.”

“Do asians stand by other people when they face oppression?? NO!! so maybe when you all do that, others will standby y’all.”

“LOL. At the white people meeting we voted and agreed Asian women needed to be targeted.”

“Oh lord! Get a grip.”

“Proof or it didn’t happen.”

“I call BS my wife is asian and nobody has even given the slightest hint of blaming her. Trump 2020.”

“Blaming people is a great way to feel better isn’t it?”

“You’re not being targeted Geez.”

“Really? Get over yourself.”

“Should have stayed home.”

Infuriating right?

“I believe that if you see something that you want to get done, you cannot give up, and you cannot give in.”

John Lewis

I share this honestly with all of you because I want to bring AWARENESS. If you’re like me, what you just read should be eye-opening and it should make you feel a little sick. Like… did you really say that? Would you say that to my face? Why would you say that? Awareness means, as much as I want to, I CANNOT just stay in my little bubble of “everyone’s kind” and not admit that the world has some genuinely mean people. Awareness means I should feel disgusted enough that I want to DO SOMETHING to stop hatred and racism. Awareness means looking even bigger than myself and Asians, and seeing that I need to keep standing up for Black Lives Matter, all people of color who are targeted, women’s rights and equality, LGBTQ acceptance and love…

Cue in the scene of Eliza reading Hamilton a letter from John Laurens’ family: “I have so much work to do.”

My point is… I’m not saying we should push anyone back. I’m not saying we should use hate to fight hate. I do not believe in violence or hurting or making situations escalate. I DO believe there are peaceful, loving, honest, and smart ways to confront these issues. And I DO believe doing nothing or turning a blind eye is not acceptable. Our work of reading, donating, signing, protesting, speaking must continue. For me right now, that looks like taking the time to respond back to each mean comment and call people out. To hold them accountable to what they’re saying and defend what I think is right. It’s a big step for me because I usually shy away from confrontation, but it’s an attempt at doing something right and NOT staying silent when it matters. Some people have apologized. Some have come to a mutual understanding. Some have responded back with more hate, and I know when to walk away because it’s not worth my energy.

“Speak your truth even if your voice shakes.”

Anonymous

What do you see?

This week, I saw a text from my friend Seran, saying my two girls were spotted from a Black Lives Matter protest on the last page of the July 2020 Marin Magazine publication.

This week, I saw my daughter’s Brownie Troop complete a 3 hour racism presentation and donate $350 of their well-earned cookie money to Color of Change.

This week, I saw our community of dancers celebrate #MandelaDay, and Marci’s birthday, and raise $2906 for Love2Dance Novato.

Share your story.

This Saturday, July 25, 2020, I invite you to participate in the Life In A Day YouTube Original with me. All you have to do is take your phone or camera and record highlights from your day. It can be a typical day or you might have something special planned. But it’s your perspective, and you have something to share to the world.

This started in July 2010, when director Kevin Macdonald put together Life in a Day submissions from around the world and ended up with a 90 minute feature film that has been watched over 16 million times. He’s doing it again 10 years later and maybe you might be featured!

I’ll be submitting my Life in a Day video, and all I know is that it will highlight my Saturday morning 9:30am dance class. Come join me if you are free – http://www.stopdropanddance.com/classes. And if you do, please have a 8.5×11 white paper and marker handy =)

How are you surviving Covid-19? I encourage you to share your story. For more details about how you can participate in the Life in a Day documentary, click here: https://lifeinaday.youtube/

“Of all the paths you take in life,

make sure a few of them are dirt.”

John Muir

I’d like to leave you with two of my sillier TikTok videos from my outdoor adventures this week. I am grateful I got to get outside 3 times this week and accomplish 3 major trails: Eldridge Trail up to Mt. Tam, the Double Dipsea, and Muir Woods to the Panoramic Highway. These were my literal dirt paths this week… not easy by any means, but absolutely healing and much needed. Enjoy!

Surviving Covid-19 together,

Grace

Love2Dance DONATION CLASS on #MandelaDay

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

Nelson Mandela

Dear Friends,

In January of 2018, my littlest daughter turned 3 years old. She was SO excited to finally be old enough to take a dance class (after watching big sis take classes for years while she watched through a window).

I found a 3-year-old tap/hip-hop class at ________ and signed her up. When we arrived to her first class, the owner of the studio was the teacher, and there was only one other 3-year-old enrolled. I thought, even better! She’ll get extra attention and love!

I watched through the window and it was adorable seeing her try to walk across the floor in these new tap shoes, trying to balance on one foot, and occasionally slipping and falling on her bum… she reminded me of Bambi learning something new.

But most importantly, she was trying her best and happy as could be.

At the end of class, she runs out excitedly yelling, “Mama! I’m dancing!” I gave her a big hug and told her I was so proud of her.

But then the teacher walks out frustrated, heads straight to her desk, grabs my check and says in front of all the other parents in the waiting room, “I’m giving you your forms and money back. She cannot follow directions.”

Speechless.

I want to say that I had the guts to defend my daughter, but looking back, I’m glad we just walked out because why would I ever want my daughter attending that studio anyways? Thank goodness my daughter was completely oblivious to what had just happened and she has such a positive and resilient spirit. I had to talk to her in the car that we weren’t going back to that class, and we would find something else for her. I was flabbergasted. I was confused. I was hurt.

My 3-year-old daughter was rejected from her one and only dance experience, and why? For being a developmentally normal 3-year old. Yes she needs guidance. Yes she needs reminders. Yes she needs practice and consistency and encouragement and LOVE! But how dare that studio owner open a class for 3 year olds and then judge my daughter in one shot, saying she will never be good enough? That my daughter is not worthy of her time or patience?

No, thank you.

I planned on waiting till the next semester to find another dance studio. But I knew my daughter wanted to dance. So I came across Love2Dance Studio in Novato, and hesitantly, I decided to try a drop-in class.

I was so scared. Was I really that “bad parent?” Was my daughter really that “bad student?” Is there such a thing??? Were we going to be embarrassed and disappointed again?

5 months later, my daughter was on stage in her first performance.

My daughter joined a 3-year old ballet class with at least 10 other children who confirmed to me that THIS was what a dance class should feel like. The teacher, Carolyn, was kind, patient, and cheerful, and the kids were dancing happily. Yes, sometimes doing their own thing, needing redirection, listening and not listening, but ultimately, celebrating the love of dance in a SAFE and LOVING space.

My daughter made so much improvement from that first class to learning how to memorize a routine by heart and perform it on stage! She was so proud of herself. I was so proud of her.

Even up until shelter-in-place these past few months, my girls have continued taking dance classes with Miss Lizzy and Miss Tara on Zoom. I am so incredibly thankful to Love2Dance for creating age-appropriate classes that instill a love for dance, and create success and joy for these little dancers.

Will you celebrate #MandelaDay with me?

I shared this story because this Saturday, July 18th is Nelson Mandela Day, a day to take action and inspire change. I would like to make our 9:30am PST Stop Drop And Dance class a donation class to continue supporting our fight for #BlackLivesMatter. In searching for an organization to donate to, I decided I wanted to choose a local, black-owned business. That’s when I thought of Miss Tara, the owner of Love2Dance, and I cannot think of a better business I would want to support.

Donate HERE

100% of donations will go directly to Love2Dance. Once you donate, you will get an Eventbrite confirmation email with the Zoom link to take class. Even if you cannot make it to class on Saturday, please consider donating to this wonderful dance studio.

Win a $45 Athleta Shop Card

As an added bonus, if you donate AND dance on Saturday, July 18th from 9:30-10:30am PST, I will be drawing 8 winners at the end of class to win a $45 Athleta Shop Card! (Winners must be present and cards must be used by July 31st).

If you are new to Stop Drop And Dance, it is a sweaty, cardio dance workout for all ages. The choreography is easy-to-follow and repetitive, and just like Love2Dance creates, the intention of class is just to have fun and feel good moving our bodies together. For this particular class, we will be using an all-black artist playlist. Shoes are recommended and be sure to have water nearby!

Thank you as always for taking the time to read my posts and to help me spread love, joy, and acceptance through dancing. I appreciate you.

Love,

Grace

Keep Your Eyes Open

“The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.”

Martin Luther King Jr.

Dear Friends,

Those of you on Facebook have already read my story that I will be sharing in this post. I share it not for pity. Not for attention. Not to take anything away from Black Lives Matter and make it about “me.” I share this story because I want to bring awareness that there is hate in this world. Blatant hate. Subtle hate. Hidden hate. Always driven by fear.

WE have opportunities all the time to speak up for what’s right. Not necessarily just in “major” events like protests or my experience in the story I share, but in the more important, subtle conversations you have daily with your neighbors, co-workers, friends, and family. Those conversations. We need to be better, and I’m speaking to myself too.

This was the TikTok video that started it all:

This may stir up emotions.

But I want to share this because we all need to open our eyes and see what’s going on around us. Not to you necessarily, but to others around you. Some of you may never have experienced racism. So you might not get it and actually feel defensive. But I’ve had a taste of it before. It’s my hunch. And if I’m wrong and it’s not racism, then tell me why this happened. Why?

On Friday I went to Half Moon Bay with my parents and sister’s family. We finished the day with ice cream at Joanne’s Cafe. They had a policy of only one group at a time in the shop. Everyone else waits on an X six feet apart outside. My sister’s family went first, then my parents, then me and my girls. My family found some seats in the shade around the corner so I told them I’d meet them there.

While my girls and I were in the ice cream shop, a man came in the store. The two workers told him to wait outside, so he stood at the doorway. My girls and I got our ice cream and headed out.

He was right next to the doorway. With 6 feet of space behind him. But he didn’t move. So we had to pass thru the remaining space of the door to get by. As I walked past, with my mask, with my double ice cream cone, and with my 5-year-old following behind me, the guy literally lays his hand on my shoulder and pushes me out the door mumbling something and then “Whoa too close!”

I was in shock and at first I said sorry, then caught myself to say, “Where else am I supposed to walk?” The people around were shocked too but no one said anything.

I grabbed my daughter and quickly walked away.

What just happened?

I felt so violated and upset. I could feel the weight of his hand on my shoulder, because when have I ever been pushed before?? Never! That was unreal and unacceptable. But like I always do, I walked over to my family and didn’t say a word about the incident.

I had to process what happened. It’s taken me 2 days.

First, why do I resort to apologizing? I always say sorry. Always. I regret that. I need to stop defaulting to taking the blame for everything. I didn’t do anything wrong. The more I think about it the angrier I get.

Second, I did not speak up for myself. A person like that, if he really was worried about social distancing, he would back up and make space. A person worried about Covid would NOT go out of their way to touch somebody else’s body. No way! But he purposely shoved me out the door! In that moment of disbelief and shock, I failed to stand up for what’s right. To tell him that’s not ok. To prevent him for doing that again to someone else. I said nothing.

Third, no one else stood up for me. The random people around either didn’t see or didn’t want to get involved. I don’t blame them. It takes effort. And courage. It’s easy to read this and say, I would have said something. But in the moment it’s different.

So no I can’t say for sure it’s racism. Might not be. All I know is that it was intentional and it was wrong. And I’ve learned that the next time I witness or experience something unjust, I will find the courage to speak up.

Keep your eyes open.

Thank you for standing by me, friends.

Love,

Grace

Good Still Exists

“When the world around me is going crazy and I’m losing faith in humanity, I just have to take one look at my dog to know that good still exists.”

@dogsareloveon4legs

Dear Friends,

My puppy, Miya, turned 11 years old yesterday. She is our first “daughter.” She was the first one to teach my husband and I what it was like to take care of someone other than ourselves. As all dogs do, Miya greets us so happily when we come home, and she follows us around all over the house. She is neglected and forgotten at times, yet she never holds a grudge. Now that my girls are older, they scoop up Miya multiple times a day just to hug her and carry her around like a stuffie. She’s 7 pounds, so she has no say in the matter =).

Dogs are such gifts to the world, aren’t they?

When I was 3 months pregnant with my oldest daughter 9 years ago, I unexpectedly ended up on bedrest at home. I had literally bled onto my Kindergarten classroom floor and frantically handed my classroom of 33 kinders to my neighbor teacher, Steph, so that I could drive to the hospital. The doctor told me I thankfully hadn’t lost the baby, but I had an option of terminating the pregnancy because I was losing too much blood. I said NO. Give me another option.

So bedrest it was. I went from a busy life of teaching Kindergarteners during the day, teaching fitness classes after school, and dancing in a troupe at night, to sitting down reading books, watching movies, and cross-stitching. Haha. If you find me cross-stitching, you know that I TRULY have time on my hands.

During those 6 months, Miya was my best friend. Somehow, she knew I needed her more than ever. Not only had I become physically inactive, but I was scared all the time that I would lose more blood when I stood up to shower or go to the bathroom. I was afraid I wouldn’t make it to 24 weeks, to 28 weeks, to 32 weeks. The future seemed uncertain. Miya was my little guardian angel back then, snuggling with me, keeping me company, and reminding me that everything would be ok.

9 years later, and there are some eerie similarities to my time on bedrest. I am home 24/7. I have waves of emotions that hit me. The future is uncertain. And Miya continues to be my guardian angel. I am so grateful for 11 life-changing years with her. Happy Birthday Miya!

Don’t lose faith in humanity.

I am inspired when celebrities and artists use their talents to spread real truth to their audience. Thank you Seran for sharing this music video by the Chicks (originally the Dixie Chicks but they changed their name last week), “March March,” which I showed in the beginning of class this morning. If you haven’t watched the video, do so. It is about protesting, it is about voting, and at the end it fires through so many, so many, names of black lives that have been taken wrongly. March March is our new abs song during core work.

I am inspired by Marin Magazine promoting a Decathlon challenge to raise money for a local, black-owned business called PlayMarin. Join me and complete at least 5 of the 10 challenges by the end of July, and $100 per person will be donated to PlayMarin. What a great way for us to get outside, get exercise, and raise money for a meaningful cause.

I am inspired by my daughter’s Brownie Girl Scout troop that is planning on hosting two 1.5 hour sessions in July to learn about anti-racism. A high school student who is involved in her social justice club at school offered to volunteer to teach our girls. At the end, the girls will vote on an organization to donate their cookie money to in support of #BlackLivesMatter.

I am inspired by the anonymous dancer who very graciously matched Katie’s birthday donation from our dance class last Wednesday. So generous, so thoughtful, and so amazing.

I am proud of myself for taking action in my own life this week: I stuck with trying to sleep a consistent 6-7 hours each night, I got outside and went on a hike with my family over the weekend and went running while my daughter biked yesterday, and I allowed myself to slow down a tiny bit…

The result? This is the first week since Covid with (knock on wood) no headaches or migraine attack… now to keep it up…

Celebrate freedom.

I wish you a wonderful holiday weekend celebrating Independence Day. I am happy for those of you who have found a place to vacation for the weekend, but for those of you that will be at home like me, know that our schedule will be the same this week including Saturday morning 9:30am Stop Drop And Dance on Zoom! Happy 4th of July!

And if you haven’t heard, HAMILTON is coming out on July 3rd on Disney Plus!!! I know what we’re doing Friday night =) To celebrate, we are doing our crazy-hard push up and plank song, “My Shot,” all week long in our live classes, plus newly uploaded for free on our YouTube channel is the Advanced Class I taught a few weeks back for “Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down).” Enjoy!

Love,

Grace

Self Care Is Not Selfish

“An empty lantern

provides no light.

Self-care is the fuel

that allows your light

to shine brightly.”

– Anonymous

#StopDropAndDance

Dear Friends,

I usually send this blog by Sunday night so that it will be in your inbox by Monday morning. For the past 6 months since I started promoting Stop Drop And Dance, I have stuck to this rule. If I finished my blog by 10pm Sunday night, I would send it at 10pm. If I finished at 3am, I would send it at 3am. Then there was that time I finished at 6am…

Yesterday was Father’s Day. It was also my 12th wedding anniversary. We drove an hour and a half to see my parents and sister’s family for the first time in 100 days. We went for a hike. We hung out in my parents’ backyard. We got takeout and kept to the social distancing rules. We got home and by the time the kids were showered and tucked in bed, it was past 10pm. By the time I showered and got settled, it was 11pm.

It was time to start my blog: Sunday night 11pm. But guess what? I am proud of myself, because for the first time, I actually told myself, NO. I am going to go to bed and I will write it tomorrow.

What does self-care look like for you?

It’s not easy to prioritize ourselves first. We have stressful jobs. We have kids to take care of. We have so many things (endless things) on our to-do list. We want to stay up and watch that series. We have our not-so-great habits. There’s always some excuse NOT to take care of ourselves.

But then the consequence is we crash. Physically we crash. Mentally we crash. Emotionally we crash. Spiritually we crash.

What does crashing look like?

Can you recognize your body signaling for you to slow down?

For me, I get migraines. I’ve had the longest streak of migraines in these past 100 days. I have chronic neck pain. I am emotionally low. I am not feeling like myself.

How are you?

Really, how are you?

Below are 5 ideas that I know I need to prioritize in my life (easier said than done, but making a list is the first step!). I hope some of these ideas speak to you as well:

  1. 1. Get Enough Sleep.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7-9 hours of sleep per night for adults. But it’s also important to keep sleep times consistent by sleeping by the same time each night and waking up at the same time. Avoid caffeine or excess sugar, as well as exercise and devices before bedtime.

I will try to sleep by __________ and wake up at ___________ every night.

2. Exercise and Move.

The American Heart Association recommends getting at least 2.5 hours of moderate exercise a week, which comes out to 21.4 minutes a day. Or exercise 5 days a week for 30 minutes and take 2 days off. Do squats and lift weights while you watch TV, go on a social distance walk, or join us online and Stop Drop And Dance! I promise it doesn’t “really” feel like exercise, which is why I love it – plus my kids can join in too =)

I will try to exercise ___________ minutes __________ days per week.

3. Eat Right.

Most of us grew up knowing the “Food Pyramid.” Have you seen this “MyPlate” image from the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion? They have an app you can download to help plan out your meals. For me, I eat pretty healthy at meals… until the late-night snacking monster comes out. So if you’re like me, then maybe an app like MyFitnessPal will help to keep you accountable on those extra desserts. But let me be clear, there is always room for dessert.

I will try to eat more __________and less __________.

4. Get Outside.

Did you know that in 2018 the Environmental Protection Agency said the average American spends 93% of their life indoors? I wonder what the past 100 days statistic was… 99%? It’s called “nature’s prescription.” Getting outdoors is linked to happiness, energy, and stress relief. If you garden, then congrats you’re probably soaking up at least 20 minutes of sunshine everyday! For the rest of us, maybe getting outside everyday is a challenge, so let’s plan something for the weekend. Some hotels are even starting to open up – maybe it’s time to look at mini weekend getaways!

This week I will go outside to __________.

5. Do More Of What You Want.

I always say that time is the one thing we cannot get back. Time is valuable and we have a limited amount of it. So what do you want to spend your time doing? Maybe you’re like me and you want to do everything. So the challenge becomes… figuring out what is at the top of that list and letting go of the others.

I want to do more ___________ and let go of __________.

The top of my list this week was: Celebrating my parents’ 49th anniversary. Celebrating Father’s Day. Seeing my sister’s family. Going on a hike. Drinking a Yammy Taro boba from my friend Sharon’s shop, Tea Fermata, in Los Gatos. A belated birthday dinner for my husband. Sleeping before midnight. Teaching Stop Drop And Dance. Inspired dancing with Katie and Sara this week who both donated $10/dancer for their birthdays totaling $540 for Black Lives Matter, $540 for Couscious Kitchen, and $540 for the Conscious Kid. Going to China Camp beach with my family. Hugging and tickling my girls. And finally, celebrating my 12th wedding anniversary with my hubby:

This is what my mom told me yesterday, “You have to love yourself first. Then you can give that love away.” She is 100% right, and I’m really going to try to work on my own self-care. I hope you will join me.

Love,

Grace

Summer Feelings

“Laughter is an

instant vacation.”

Milton Berle

Dear Friends,

Congratulations to ALL the graduates of 2020. It might not have been the way you expected, but I guarantee it will be one to remember. The entire world celebrated with you.

Congratulations to ALL the teachers who got into the teaching profession to share their love of learning, and continued to do so, virtually. I am sure you are more tech-savvy than you ever imagined you would be, but most importantly, thank you for doing everything you could for your students.

Congratulations to ALL the students who went from learning to organize their desk and classroom space, to learning how to use software programs like Zoom, Seesaw, Google Hangouts, and more. We are lucky that technology has advanced since the time you were born and was able to keep up with all these changes. You are now more tech savvy than your parents.

Congratulations to ALL the parents who oversaw their children transition from the physical classroom to home-as-a-classroom-which-is-not-meant-to-be-a-classroom. Your daily routine has not only been dramatically altered, but you became a homeschool parent as well. Add that to your resume.

Congratulations to ALL of us for surviving the past 3 months.

3 months. An entire season. Spring. We quarantined in our own homes, we did not see loved ones, we worked from home, we were laid off, we waited in lines to get into the grocery store, we stocked up on toilet paper, we wrote with chalk on the sidewalks for strangers to see, we learned to use Facetime to connect with people, we cooked, we ordered take-out, we watched movies, we gardened, we started new hobbies and projects, we slept, we stayed in pajamas, we gained weight, we did housework and cleaning, we checked the news too often, we joined social media, we played board games, we cancelled vacations, we celebrated birthdays, we went for walks, we exercised through a computer screen… the list goes on. We did it with the ultimate reward of our health and safety, and it was worth it.

On the surface, your past 3 months looks different than mine, but deeper underneath, we all went through the same experience, together.

We survived a pandemic.

Now we enter summertime. And so far it looks like restaurants re-opening for social distance outdoor seating, summer camps re-opening for 3-week smaller group sessions, businesses re-opening and operating with masks and gloves, beaches and parks re-opening for the public, and full-service hotels re-opening for vacationers. Even Disneyland is re-opening in July.

But where each of us stand is now dependent on our tolerance of risk. Some people are gathering with friends. Some are sending their kids to school. Some are going back to work. Some are taking off their mask. Some are trying to re-assimilate into normal life, and some will continue to strictly quarantine for the rest of summer.

“Trust your heart

if the seas catch fire,

live by love

though the stars

walk backward.”

E.E. Cummings

Whatever your choice, I respect it. No one has the right answer so you do what you feel most comfortable with. I am nervous about my decision to listen to my 5-year-old’s desperate request to go to basketball camp starting tomorrow. I am nervous about seeing a few friends for my hubby’s birthday. I am nervous about how to celebrate Father’s Day without spreading anything to my parents.

3 months later and still the same questions and concerns. Summer is usually a time where I look forward to our family vacation. Last year in June we went on a family reunion trip with 20 people on a Mediterranean Disney Cruise starting in Rome and ending in Barcelona. Good memories.

This year, summer looks like an inflatable wading pool on my deck that is equally enjoyable and stressful as I #1) inflated it by mouth, #2) cannot figure out the right/safest amount of chlorine, #3) don’t know an easier way to warm up the water. Summer looks like less screen time especially for my 8-year-old who is burnt out from online classes. Summer looks like another 3 months where I can “attempt” to do all those things I didn’t do the last 3 months.

Summer looks like eating outside and dancing in the streets.

Summer looks like playing pranks on my kids.

Summer looks like continued dance parties in my living room.

We’ve danced on Zoom for 3 months now, and even last week the random glitches and delays still happen. I’m looking forward to dancing in-person one day and seeing all of your faces. Hugs would be even better. But until then, come say hello. Dance with me. Dance with your community. Dance for you.

Love,

Grace

Stand Up For Something

“It all means nothing,

If you don’t stand up for something.

You can’t just talk the talk.

You got to walk that walk.

Yes you do.”

Andra Day

Dear Friends,

Last weekend when I wrote this weekly blog, I was naive. I thought that racism didn’t “really” exist in the bubble that I spoke of – my bubble including the Bay Area where I grew up, and now specifically the bubble where I live, Marin County. Sadly, that bubble popped this week, and I am embarrassed to have allowed myself to stay ignorant and silent all my life. Why? Just because it was safe. Because it was easier. Because “I didn’t want to know.” Because it would shatter my belief that people are inherently good. Because it would hurt too much.

None of us can claim innocence anymore. We are all part of the problem.

On Monday, I had to teach my girls the word “racism.” Some of you have seen my videos on social media, but if not, I made a Black Lives Matter poster with my little one, and I decided to share more details about George Floyd’s death with my older one. We hung this poster in the front of our house, and I am still hoping for more neighbors, any neighbor, to join us.

On Tuesday, in the neighborhood of Marinwood which is just next to mine, some kids and families were writing “Black Lives Matter” on the sidewalk with chalk. You know, the same sidewalk chalk that all of us used freely when we wrote positive messages for neighbors and friends at the start of shelter-in-place? Yeah, chalk. Well, a man was caught on video crossing the street swearing and cursing all of the families for spreading graffiti in the neighborhood. He used an obscene amount of foul language and was completely out of hand. First of all, let me remind you this is essentially my neighborhood. Secondly, when did chalk art become graffiti?

The positive news? Once word got out, the very next day the neighborhoods gathered at that location on the sidewalk and protested together against hate and bigotry. One of our fellow dancers in today’s class, Carissa, described it perfectly:

“I thought it was beautiful how quickly the community came together to show that one man’s hateful actions are not okay here. We have a lot of work to do here in Marin, but showing support, speaking up against the hateful remarks and having conversations are a great way to start.”

Click here to read the Marin IJ article, although the actual videos (there are two and got taken taken down in the IJ article) are here and here on Facebook. Warning: very explicit language!!!

On Wednesday, YOU helped me to raise $1440 for our donation #StopDropAndDance class. My goal was $500. Then an hour before class it was around $900. When I started class, I checked once again and it jumped $500 in that final hour. Incredible. Thank you to all who shared and posted about the class – Lisa, Sara, Sararose, Katie, Lizzy, Melissa – and Allyson for requesting an All-Black Artists playlist – YES! 100% went to the Black Lives Matter organization which will no doubt be used for action, and it sure felt good to dance together for such an important cause. I am so grateful to ALL OF YOU who donated!!!

This was the song, “Stand Up For Something” by Andra Day and Common, that I choreographed in light of Black Lives Matter, and as usual, the full length dance is up on our Stop Drop And Dance YouTube Channel. But here’s a snippet of the dance I did with my girls:

@stopdropanddance

Join us and put a #blacklivesmatter sign in front of YOUR house! Find out who your neighbors are 🖤. #standupforsomething #dancechallenge #fyp #doit

♬ original sound – stopdropanddance

On Thursday, my husband and I watched “Just Mercy” which is a movie made in 2019 that Warner Bros. has offered to stream for free during the month of June on Apple TV. It is based on a true story and is completely relevant to everything we are talking about right now. I highly recommend it, but if you do watch it, remember that it’s easy to just say, “Oh, it’s just a movie,” or “Oh, that’s so wrong” and then move on with your life. It’s not just a movie and it’s happening. All. The. Time. Let it be fuel for taking action and change!

“We believe in the power of story,” Warner Bros. said in a statement. “Our film ‘Just Mercy,’ based on the life work of civil rights attorney Bryan Stevenson, is one resource we can humbly offer to those who are interested in learning more about the systemic racism that plagues our society.”

https://nypost.com/2020/06/03/how-to-watch-just-mercy-for-free/

On Friday, my youngest daughter graduated from preschool. It is so bittersweet because this preschool was our first find when we moved to Marin 6 years ago. My oldest was 2 at the time, and now both daughters have each spent 3 years at this adorable, loving school. I’ve cherished the friends and families we have met through this school as well, and I went from knowing absolutely no one in Marin, to having 2 amazing besties, Seran and Carolina.

Last night, one of the moms from our preschool messaged me, thanking me for being vocal in our community and in my posts. She is a Black woman with 2 daughters and a son. We chatted for a bit, but she too, has been shocked at the racism that has emerged these past 2 weeks, in Marin. She moved here for the beautiful environment, great schools, and whom she thought were great people. But she wrote to me:

“I love everyone, but have faced the kind of racism I don’t want my kids to experience and I’m sad to say that I may have to leave this area as I now see that it’s not for me and my kids.”

THAT. Breaks my heart. But that is the hard truth. And that is why WE have to speak up if ANYONE we talk to expresses any type of racism or privilege. Of course there are those that are outright racist. However, I am choosing to believe, or I am giving the benefit of doubt, that for most people in our neighborhoods, it begins by getting educated and then doing self-reflection. We all have “unconscious bias” or judgments and perceptions that have been ingrained and now is the time to fix them.

We start with ourselves. Then we share and pass on what we learn, kindly and peacefully. We can give concrete examples. Analogies. Role playing. Role reversal. Most people just don’t understand because they’ve never experienced it. But now, there’s no excuse to not “know what it’s like.” We NEED to know what it’s like and truly feel it, deep down, until it makes us sick.

Because when we truly feel sick to our stomachs, then we understand why all of our voices and actions are needed to create CHANGE.

On Saturday, my best friend Karen went to a protest in my hometown, Cupertino, and the photo above is of her sons and their posters. I grew up in Cupertino and never remembered a protest happening there before. This is new. This is progress. This is good. This is actual change. This is history in the making.

When I taught Kindergarten in Cupertino, we always did role playing in January when we learned about Martin Luther King Jr. The examples were as simple as, “Let’s pretend anyone wearing green on their clothes cannot go on the playground today. If you have a freckle on your face, you can’t read any books. If you have blond hair, you don’t get any lunch.” Easy to understand right? Very clear.

So now let’s talk about reality.

Present day blatant racism looks like: Yesterday on Tiktok, a Black man posted a video of himself in tears because he had made a previous video and someone commented, “I was gonna like the vid but I realized ur black.” Followed by the “green nauseated” emoji. THIS IS REALITY. HAPPENING NOW.

That literally makes me sick.

And now, on to the list of things you and I can do… without getting shot.

“I have privilege as a white person because I can do all of these things without thinking twice:

I can go birding (#ChristianCooper)

I can go jogging (#AmaudArbery)

I can relax in the comfort of my own home (#BothemSean and #AtatianaJefferson)

I can ask for help after being in a car crash (#JonathanFerrell and #RenishaMcBride)

I can have a cellphone (StephonClark)

I can leave a party to get to safety (JordanEdwards)

I can play loud music (JordanDavis)

I can sell CDs (AltonSterling)I can sleep (AiyanaJones)

I can walk from the corner store (MikeBrown)

I can play cops and robbers (TamirRice)

I can go to church (Charleston9)

I can walk home with Skittles (TrayvonMartin)

I can hold a hair brush while leaving my own bachelor party (SeanBell)

I can party on New Years (OscarGrant)

I can get a normal traffic ticket (SandraBland)

I can lawfully carry a weapon (PhilandoCastile)

I can break down on a public road with car problems (CoreyJones)

I can shop at Walmart (JohnCrawford) 

I can have a disabled vehicle (TerrenceCrutcher)

I can read a book in my own car (KeithScott)

I can be a 10yr old walking with our grandfather (#CliffordGlover)

I can decorate for a party (#ClaudeReese)

I can ask a cop a question (#RandyEvans)

I can cash a check in peace (#YvonneSmallwood)

I can take out my wallet (#AmadouDiallo)

I can run (#WalterScott)

I can breathe (#EricGarner)

I can live (#FreddieGray)

I CAN BE ARRESTED WITHOUT THE FEAR OF BEING MURDERED (#GeorgeFloyd)

White privilege is real. Take a minute to consider a Black person’s experience today.

copied on Instagram @michellepfeifferofficial

Please watch if you want to understand more why this is specifically Black Lives Matter vs. All Lives Matter.

I think she explains it well.

So that was my entire week, day by day. Now it is Sunday. Today, I plan on showing my girls this CNN/Sesame Street Racism Town Hall presentation that aired today. I plan on watching “13th” with my husband in this next week. There is also a protest for those of you interested who live in Marin and want to join us:

Please keep reading, keep learning, keep asking questions, keep donating, keep speaking up. What I have to remember is that no matter how anti-racist we think we are, unless we are actually part of the Black community, we have a lot of work to do.

Signs of Hope and Unity

Just 3 highlights from the week that I want to share with all of you… Among all the violence and hate, believe in love and hope.

1) Washington, DC paints a giant ‘Black Lives Matter’ message on the road to the White House (link)

2) Protestors and looters are not the same people! Just like the 1% of bad cops aren’t like the 99% of good cops.

3) And finally, this is a MUST WATCH: We aren’t born racist. Feel free to watch it on repeat like I am because this is the world I “thought” I lived in and I believe it is possible.

@jayshetty

the kind of love we need right now 💛💛

♬ If The World Was Ending – JP Saxe ft. Julia Michaels

What are your plans this upcoming week for Black Lives Matter? Comment on my blog post or email me back if you’d like. And if you aren’t doing anything, please ask yourself why. We need you!

Love,

Grace

Can You Breathe?

“In this house,

we believe:

Black lives matter.

Feminism is for everyone.

Humans are not illegal.

Science is real.

Love is love.

Kindness is everything.”

Dear Friends,

I wanted to title this week’s blog, “Speechless.” And end it there.

But I can’t.

If I am speechless, then that means I’ve gone back to staying silent.

If I am speechless, then that means I’ve gone back to my little bubble.

If I am speechless, then that means I’ve gone back to doing nothing.

“There comes a time when silence is a betrayal.”

Martin Luther King Jr.

So instead, I changed the title to, “Can You Breathe?” because by now I am sure you have heard the phrase over and over again, “I Can’t Breathe.” The phrase that automatically makes me feel sick to my stomach and brings tears to my eyes. I regret watching the video of the police officers pinning George Floyd to the ground. I regret hearing his pleads for air and for help. I regret witnessing a man actually die.

But no, I don’t regret it, because it happened. George Floyd DIED because of racism and police brutality and I needed to see it. You needed to see it.

I can’t breathe. I am suffocating in emotions I can’t even sort through. The problem is, this is not a rare occurrence by any means. The problem is, this happens all the time with no punishment! The problem is, our world is so racist and I’ve just turned my eye and stayed in my comfortable little bubble.

What used to happen and what is happening now hasn’t changed.

What has changed is the amount of witnesses taking videos and photos and posting it on social media. What has changed are the collective voices that are actually getting petitions signed and officers arrested. What has changed is that you and I are deeply involved whether we know it or not, and it is time to stop being speechless.

But A LOT more change has to happen. And it starts with all of us. I am no expert but I know I want to do something, so here are 5 ideas I encourage you to explore with me:

5 Ideas to Create Change and Make #BlackLivesMatter

  1. Self Educate: Read books or articles, listen to podcasts, and do the work to analyze your own biases or prejudices. We all can learn. I just started following @rachel.cargle on Instagram and am reading through her amazing resources (thank you Vicky and Wendy!) as well as @readlikearockstar who has a straight-forward way of teaching about cultural diversity (thank you Steph!).
  2. Speak Up: If you’re on social media, share resources, spread awareness, TALK! Begin conversations with your family, friends, co-workers, etc. about racism (and don’t be afraid to change your friend status if you find major differences in beliefs). I just started following @thetututeacher who has a lot of children resources about race and color, and I will attempt to talk with my girls about racism (thank you Steph again!)
  3. Sign a Petition: Help get the officers who knelt on George Floyd arrested! Change.Org: http://chng.it/8ydYQkJCYg or Color of Change: https://act.colorofchange.org/sign/justiceforfloyd_george_floyd_minneapolis
  4. Donate: There are so many organizations to choose from such as Black Lives Matter or your local BLM chapter: https://secure.actblue.com/donate/ms_blm_homepage_2019 or NAACP: https://naacp.org/make-donation-naacp/ or Campaign Zero to end police brutality: https://www.joincampaignzero.org/
  5. Show Up: Find a march or peaceful protest to join. Or here’s a way to participate today, Monday at 11am (thank you Sarah!):

Donation Class This Wednesday, June 3rd at 4:30pm PST

Please join me this Wednesday as we dance and raise money for #BlackLivesMatter. 60 minutes of dancing starts at 4:30pm PST and all the money raised will be donated. Or if you just want to donate with us, then that’s wonderful too! Click here for the direct Eventbrite donation link:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/107150518084

Finally, my blog wouldn’t be complete without a Tiktok right? Here’s this week’s 15-second video on how I’ve experienced racism as an Asian:

With very few answers but a lot of love,

Grace