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November 17, 2009


TORTOISE THAT COULD


If you're a follower of my blog, you know that I try my best to focus on the positive. After all, who wants to hang out with a whiner or a perpetual woe-is-me person? Not me. I'd much rather hang with those who can rise above it all ... like the tortoise who ultimately outpaces the hare. But the story of the tortoise has always symbolized for me that 1) challenges and negativity will always exist, and 2) you gotta find a way to use negative experiences to fuel the fortitude needed to stay positive.

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If you've been following this blog, you know that I immigrated from Korea at the age of 7. One of the most negative things that ever happened to me at the age of 8 happened in our first home in Bakersfield, California. Blackstone Court, to be exact.

Blackstone Court was a cul-de-sac and our home was my family's pride and joy ... one that we lived in as my parents worked incredibly long hours to make it happen for our family, while my brothers and I worked incredibly hard to bring home good grades. Lazy we were not. 

It's hard for me to really even acknowledge that this thing ever happened. 

This thing that happened is that one day, our neighbors started shoveling dog poop onto our driveway. I was so confused when I saw it happening. As the neighbors did what they did, they were laughing and making fun of the fact that we were Asian. That's what got me the most. How, I wondered, could an action that was causing me such pain, cause someone else to laugh? It was at that moment that I realized how ignorance can lead to behaviors that are cruel and damaging. 

As I saw this happening, and heard the laughing, I could feel this other thing happening within me. I liken it to how perhaps the tortoise felt when the hare was laughing at him and underestimating him. 

This thing that happened to me was this fierce determination that clicked on, deep within my entire being, to live a life where I would outpace and out-succeed the hare. 

Over the years, I have also learned that as important as it is to succeed, it's also important to try and eradicate ignorance through education and awareness so that cruelty can be prevented. Because the thing is, cruelty sometimes causes people not to become determined to succeed, but convinced to fail. 

Are you surprised by this post? I am. I didn't think I'd ever share that story. There are other stories that I could share about experiencing cruelty born out of ignorance. Can't promise if they'll ever come out on this blog ... we'll see. But regardless of the difficult stories we all live through, I still stand by the fact that we need to not allow those experiences to crush us. We need to use those experiences to help us become stronger, help us focus on the positive, become successful, and most importantly, to rise above.

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Comments

I cannot ever believe these things really happen . . . yet I know they do. I am so impressed by the attitude you have chosen to take about it all.

I wonder if those people who did this to your family ever think of that time and regret it now? I hope that they have somehow managed to overcome their ignorance and grown. Thank you so much for sharing. AND thank you for the work you do!

Jenny,
That story is so alarming, yet I know how cruel people can be. Although my daughters were born in America, they were raised in Hong Kong for the first five years and then in Toronto for the next five years.

When we arrived back in the States, and my daughter, then twelve, came home from school one day and said to me "This thing about the Ku Klux Klan is fiction right?" In that moment I realized that not accepting people and other cultures is something learned not instinctive.

I am so sorry that those people who were so ignorant, could not have had an opportunity to live in Asia.

Karen

what an experience for you! but you have learned that ignorance creates fear! I am sure you had many unpleasant learning experiences along the way but look at how far you have come from that frightened little girl. keep up the good work. lyle

Oh, your post made me cry- I am so sorry that your neighbors were so ignorant and cruel. Your sharing was brave and true.

Thank you for writing such a wonderful post, Jenny. Though it is an awful topic, that is sadly true all over the world, you're showing us now that we can rise above the awful things, and turn a negative into a positive, as you did.

What a beautiful post...and thank you for sharing. Although sometimes it is difficult to share personal experiences, you should know that is helps so many others. I think it is so important to remind yourself to succeed and push on even in adversity and not let others control who or what you do. It's in your hands!

Thank you for sharing your story. I think it helps when we open up and share. How horrible for a child to have to go through something like that. How sad that things like that still occur.

Your post equally angered and touched me; angered me as I read about the eight year old you experiencing your neighbor's ignorance and malice, and touched me as I look at the way you (and so many others who've experienced similar hatefulness) have forged a life of positive determination, of love and light. You've made a career of inspiring the best in people, of inspiring others to shine.

And I think despite the departure, posts like this are incredibly important. If your experience and determination to rise above and succeed inspires just one other person, think of what a gift that is!

Thanks for writing this. :)

~ Carolee

Thank you so much for sharing that story, Jenny. There is so much power in this post and I know you have shone your light on so many of us today. I am very grateful. xox

Jenny,
I'm not surprised you shared this. I believe you know the importance of stories like these. They teach others to be strong, to be like the tortoise. Sadly, I think the ignorance of "being prejudiced" will always be a sad reality of life. I witness prejudice "still" in the way that some of my customers treat Yesi and Carol. They are hispanic, wonderful people, hard workers, and I love them like my own children. I become so angry inside when I witness this. I spent time in my college years volunteering on an Indian reservation down in AZ by the Mexican border. Being as blonde as I am, I too got a taste of what that being discriminated against feels like. It would be a dream of mine to see a world that was free of discrimination. And with people, such as yourself, who I also believe will continue to share stories like yours, it WILL make our world a better place. THANK YOU for sharing. Take care!

Brava, Jenny! Let's try to treat everyone compassionately - one day at a time, one person at a time - with a blog it works so beautifully! Spreading across the ether like the gentle breath of an angel's wing.
Love,
Elise

Jenny, Thank you for sharing this difficult story; sadly this type of ignorance still exists. It is up to each of us to fight it at every turn,teaching kindness, respect, and goodwill.

Wow, while I know these things happen, I still am shocked when I hear these kind of things happen.
You are quality and character Jenny.
Thanks for sharing, Andra

Even though I knew of this heinous story, I have to say: I'm so glad that it didn't "crush" you. Thank you for rising above and being the Jenny that I love.
:)
Maurine

A brave and inspiring post.

wow. I am so sorry that we live in such a world. I just read "Same Kind of Different As Me" by Ron Hall and Denver Moore, and though not the same story, a must read. I am ashamed of what happened to you but am so glad that you were able to rise above it and be such a "blessing" to others around you. Your pain has turned to such good fruit to feed the masses of hurting people. Keep your head up and thank you for your warm grasp of friendship in your writing.

Isn't it ironic that cruel situations can actually bring out the best in us? It can make us more confident, stronger, wiser. It might be a stretch to say that bullies do us a favor when they act so foolishly,but in some ways they are. Still, no one wants to be on the receiving end of such terrible acts - sorry you had to endure this.

It is truly unthinkable that this type of cruelty occurred. I applaud you for sharing this as it is a reminder to all of the importance to open our hearts and minds as truly we are all of the same race "mankind". When our spirits are bruised I do believe the heart and soul become stronger. You my friend are an amazing role model to all.

Your honesty in being able to share this story with others is a testament to who you are as a person. I applaud you for sharing something that was so deeply hurtful, at such a tender age. Taking this experience and using it in a positive way is significant. It speaks to strength and honour. To honesty and truth and to the courage of being the best person you could be and were meant to be. I hug you for the child you were and the amazing woman you have become.

I'm so very sorry to know you and your family were treated in such an inhumane way! I always try to see the best in people, and find myself constantly shocked by the lows people will stoop to out of ignorance or just plain cruelty of spirit!

I suppose we embrace these defeats just as we do our triumphs because they've simply made us who we are today. If it wasn't for that terrible incident who know if you'd be where you are today ... you very well may have settle for a lesser life!

sending you love as you remember
xox
me

Jenny,
I am so sorry that some people are so ignorant, but am glad you shared you story and that you took something so very hurtful and negative and turned it so far around that you are able exemplify to all of us a very positive, srong and caring human being. I am glad you chose to embace rather than be defeated.
Gale

Jenny, thank you for sharing this with us. I am not surprise by it as I also experienced intolerance when I grew up - I was a minority religion in Ireland and there were people on my street who were not allowed to play with me or go in my house because of their parents prejudices! I always felt on the outside of that culture. Luckily when I came to America I was an adult and religion is not something you can 'see', so I have not personally experienced anything like that here. I am sorry that you have but I applaud you for pulling yourself up in the face of the hostility, I can't say that I was as strong as that. I have taken years to remove that sense of being an outsider.

And I love the tortoise and hare analogy, it is one of my favorites too :)

thank you for your post.

Shona

It was brave of you to share this;
I truly am sorry,that you and your family had to endure this. It shocks me how people behave!
You truly have became a tortoise,
your shell may have become a little hard, but all that you share with the world and all the lives you touch..shows your soft side. I
am working on being a tortoise, too.

thank you for sharing this... i do follow your blog (which is fabulous!)and think it's cool you are korean... my mom moved here from korea some time ago now! (i'm half, my dad is american, they met in high school!) anyway... i have a story too from high school... and though i've let go of the hurt/anger, i'm suprised how it has stuck with me. again, thanks for sharing... the story and the great advice!

I am so glad you shared this story because I feel like I now know you just a wee bit more. Of course I am terribly sorry the event happened. Any type of discrimination is so troubling to me and, like your other readers, I am alarmed and angered that you had to endure such a thing. The fact you have turned this horrid experience into a position of strength says volumes.
:-)

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