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My Random Life: A Work in Progress

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Episodes from the life of an average Asian American guy with depression and bipolar disorder, finding healing and experiencing freedom from shame. Preview portions of a forthcoming book.

Episodes from the life of an average Asian American guy with depression and bipolar disorder, finding healing and experiencing freedom from shame. Preview portions of a forthcoming book.

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  • 1. “My Random Life:A Work in Progress” - The Chronological Edition - DJ Chuang <djchuang.com> May 2012
  • 2. “My Random Life: A Work in Progress”Copyright © 2012 by DJ Chuang. All rights reservedChronological Edition.Published by DJ Chuang, Aliso Viejo, California 92656.All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, ortransmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or otherelectronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher,except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain othernoncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, write to theauthor/publisher via the website below.Any trademarks, service marks, product names or named features are assumed to bethe property of their respective owners, and are used only for reference. There is noimplied endorsement if we use one of these terms.Connect with DJ ChuangWebsite: djchuang.comContact: djchuang.com/contactTwitter: @djchuangFacebook: facebook.com/djchuang
  • 3. Introduction to the Chronological EditionThis publication is a compilation of personal journal entries that I have posted in my 12years of blogging. This is the raw content that I will be using for an extended edition thatI will be authoring in the coming months by adding a running commentary along side ofthese blog posts so that it would be a more coherent capture of some of my life’slearnings.Writing my own autobiographical memoirs can be easily misperceived, especially as anAsian American of Chinese descent. All I can do is be as honest and open with myintentions and purpose for this effort.Dr. Brene Brown (research professor at the University of Houston and author of TheGifts of Imperfection and I Thought It Was Just Me) has extensively researched theareas of shame and vulnerability. Her research has found that shame is something weall have experienced; it’s that fear of disconnection and a feeling that one is never goodenough and worth loving. And she discovered two differences between those whostruggled with shame versus those who were free from power of shame: (1) they feltworthy of love and belonging, and (2) they embraced vulnerability.Living under the influence shamed-based cultures can be oppressive, paralyzing, andeven life-threatening. When only highly accomplished Asian Americans are held up asthe examples and role models to which we must aspire to, and to whom we arecompared to, it’s a dauntingly high standard that most of us cannot achieve. It suremakes me feel terrible about myself, and I already feel bad enough about myself. Myguess is that I’m not alone.By sharing my imperfections and struggles, I hope to show that you are not alone. Lifeis worth living, even if, or especially if, you’re not among the elite. I think of myself as anaverage guy -- not super-accomplished, not driven, not goal-oriented nor task-driven.I’m with the 99%.I want to be open, transparent, and even vulnerable about my life as an Asian Americanguy. I have had to work through a number of painful and confusing things, like socialawkwardness, misperceptions, depression, bipolar disorder, misperceptions, not fitting-in, timidity, and more.My hope is that my honesty would be much more valuable than advice. And, thatreading about my life will give you courage to get the help needed for you or for peopleyou know that need hope and healing.And, true to form, these compiled blog posts are being presented raw and unedited. It iswhat it is. And, I do hope you find some of it valuable and helpful.
  • 4. Allow me to give you a brief background so you have some context for reading the restof this e-book. My name is DJ Chuang and I live in Orange County, California, marriedto an artist, and we have one son who is now in high school.I came to America when I was 8 years old when my family immigrated from Taiwan. I’mthe oldest of 3 boys. My parents are Chinese, so our family was fairly traditional and notreligious. Our family ran a motel business in a small Virginia town of 20,000. I studiedcomputer engineering in college and theology in seminary, but my work life and careerchoices has been all over the map, as you’ll read later. Finding a good fit, much less aperfect fit, has been elusive. As an unconventional person, I’m just beginning to feelcomfortable in my own skin.One last thing before we get on with things. I do write from a faith perspective, havingbecome a Christian just before my college years. While I may occasionally refer to howmy beliefs have influenced my life, I want to share my life in a way that is accessible topeople of any faith persuasion, or lack thereof. I sure hope I don’t come across preachynor proselytizing. (And this isn’t to imply that my faith is any less important than otherswho wear their faith on their sleeves.)In releasing this edition for your preview, I really want to have your feedback. Thiscollection of blog posts might look like swiss cheese, having a lot of holes and gaps inthe storyline. As you read this, I’d love to have your feedback on what episodes I oughtto expand and elaborate on. Please do contact me at www.djchuang.com with yourfeedback and how I can be a listening ear or be of help in any way.Contact: djchuang.com/contactTwitter: @djchuangFacebook: facebook.com/djchuang
  • 5. AcknowledgementsI’m grateful for how my life has turned out. So much more of it is a gift given thansomething of my own doing or making things happen.Countless many people have shown me love and kindness along the way. I wouldn’t behere without them. Seriously.I wrote the following on my blog last Thanksgiving ::November 24 2011: Thanksgiving for people in my lifeGratitude can’t be disconnected. Thanks has to be given to someone. And, I want togive thanks for someone, for a lot of people in my life, the ones who have made thegreatest difference and positive impact in my life. As they do in book acknowledgementsand acceptance speeches, I want to thank the many people who have help me throughwhat I consider to be turning points in my life.My Dad and Mom. My wife Rachelle. My son Jeremiah. Buggs Bugnon. Paul & AliceChou. Ray Chang. Bernice Imei Hsu. Dave Travis. Sabastian Huynh. Chuck Fromm.And I thank God for giving me Himself and for Jesus Christ and for the Holy Spirit, forthe very breath of life itself and all the days of my life, however many it is that I will begranted – what a gift! (aside #1: some say religion is a crutch, so be it for them. I say Ican use all the help I can get, and I’m not too proud or too ashamed to say I need lots ofhelp.)
  • 6. Retrospective EpisodesBefore I go chronological and leave you to peruse my personal journal entries in theform of blog posts over the past 12 years, here are two episodes that describe a coupleof turning points in my life. Maybe that’s overstating it. Let me just say these were twotimes when I looked back upon my life and thought about what in the world was goingon.December 11 2004: My Random Life #1 :: A Leap of Faith... To get started is better than to sit still, waiting for that perfect moment... I’ve got anintuitive sense that for me to tell of times when Life has brought me to notableaccomplishments or tremendous struggles would be of help to some readerssomewhere, particularly as a distinctly Asian-American Christian voice.... Working as an electrical engineer was something to do. I had to do something aftergraduating with a college degree. I couldn’t figure it out from my own feelings orinterests. I didn’t have that kind of compulsion or drive at age 21. I often envy those whohave their life’s dream and desire figured out as a teenager, knowing what they wantedto do for a career so early in life.... So I took my first job offer to work in Southern Maryland, in the sticks an hourSoutheast of Washington DC. It was a small company, a government contractoraffectionately in the ranks of a “Beltway Bandit.” Not a bad deal, a comfortable routinelife with a short commute. I made a few new friends from work, and I was part of thecompany volleyball and church softball teams.... I re-connected to the online world, having first ventured into cyberspace in my collegedays. It’s not cyberspace as we know it today with the ubiquitous Internet and WorldWide Web. It was an amateur network of Bulletin Board Systems (BBSes) connected bydial-up modems running at 2400 baud. Through a local BBS called Southern MarylandChristian Information Service (SMCIS), I met Buggs Bugnon.Buggs was a retired Navy senior chief twice my age. We talked online and then wetalked in person. I wound up at his home many evenings for the next 2 years. Saturdayswere a wonderful tradition of Bugnon burgers, hand-made giant patties of quality groundbeef and onion soup mix, grilled over charcoal on the back deck, topped withhomemade cole slaw. Grace always began with “We thank Thee for the great God youare.”Weeknights were a mix of popcorn and television, hacking around on the computers,watching people login to his BBS, prayerful conversations about spiritual things, ortearful agony over my feelings nurtured by years of pity parties. He became a father, adiscipler, and a mentor. His prayers and my own spiritual wanderings intersected in thesummer of 1990, and I felt I wanted to do something spiritually meaningful.
  • 7. The verse from the Gospels came to me several times in different ways: the harvest isplentiful, but the workers are few. If somehow God could use me, I was available. Icould be one of those workers. My overwhelming inadequacies didn’t really matter,right? Moses felt like he wasn’t a good speaker. Jeremiah didn’t think much of himselfeither. The need was indeed great, with a minority of Asian Americans who wereChristians, so I could surely help. I didn’t have debts. I didn’t get disowned from myfamily when I broke the news that I was exploring this idea. I got a green light from thepastors at my church. I got accepted at seminary. I even had the secret prayers of mymentor Buggs for over a year, that God would confirm this upon my heart and soul.I took the leap of faith. Packed all my worldly belongings into my Mercury Topaz anddrove to Dallas.January 11 2005: my random life #2: improbable workaholicReading Lee’s musing about what he learned on vacation triggered a revelation for me.I might be a workaholic! It’s not a hard confession, but it’s just not how I think of myself(self-perception being as influential as it is).What shook me up about Lee’s musing was that I too don’t know what to do on vacationor when I have too much time on my hands. In fact, what my natural gravity seems tomove towards is emotional self-destruction.For most of my life, I’ve had a sad disposition. To the degree that I think it partly formedmy underbite. For the life of me, I could not understand why people would be happywhen I didn’t feel happy. It wasn’t that life was hard, growing up we had what weneeded. There was no tangible physical suffering or abuse. Though I did feel unloved.The crazy thing about feelings is that it can’t be controlled, it’s just what it is (thoughfeelings can be re-framed, with much help and effort.) I just did not feel that happyfeeling, and could not make myself to feel better.Well into my 20s, towards the end of my seminary life, I finally got the encouragement togo see a counselor. I enjoyed talking with him. But it was a very short stint. Thetherapist loved movies and recommended many of them. I don’t recall actually gettingthose movies to see them. I don’t remember much else from those conversations.Years later, the bottom fell out.I left the pastorate and wondered about the what’s next. The emotional trauma wasmore than I could bear on my own, and intensely destructive thoughts bore down onme. Spiritual disciplines were burdensome, not helpful. I desperately needed help.I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. There was no family history of such a thing, and Iwas able to function “normally” during that year of recovery — I commuted work, did myjobs a-okay, with occasional moments when I needed a break.
  • 8. I enjoyed talking to my counselor, and he provided the safe place for me to exploresome of my deeper longings and yearnings, my pains and dilemmas. If I could afford it,I’d love to have a counselor to talk with all the time. It’s so hard to find such engagingconversation.One issue we uncovered was my perspective on work. I didn’t really care what I did; Isaw my job or career as a means for cash flow. Gotta do something to provide for mylivelihood, and now, also for my family’s. I’d switched jobs every 3 years or so, and asthe story goes, partly out of boredom from routines, partly out of not finding the kind ofwork that really got my juices going (still elusive for me).But it was such a fearful thing for me to be without a job. I did not know what to do withmyself, and I felt so badly if I couldn’t work and provide for myself and family. I thoughtmy inability would cause my wife to leave me. It was a crazy conversation. I knew Iwasn’t a workaholic, because I wasn’t aggressively climbing a corporate ladder, I don’thave an ounce of competitive juice inside of me, and I don’t take work home with me.I’m very good about leaving work at the office.The counseling sessions went on for about a year. And we meandered about manyissues in my complicated life, my random life. I’d have longer periods of lows and shortbursts of highs. Those highs were so good, I’d have great ideas, got by on less sleep,highly productive, and life was incredibly good.Sessions aside, I learned about taking better care of myself. I was more willing tosubmit to a daily routine, kept better sleeping habits, eating a little more, not necessarilyhealthier. Dieting was tried and didn’t do much for me. Exercise was tried and didn’t domuch for me.The breakthrough came when I answered a question for myself: what did I want. Itcame when I was journaling (on paper) one day. I wanted to have lots of friends and aloving family! For me, that means lots of conversations and hanging out. I don’t get asmuch as I want given my life circumstances, but to know what I wanted was life-giving.It was getting in touch with my heart, as if for the first time.
  • 9. Blogging Like It’s 1999Here’s how I started blogging, before it got called blogging. My first blog entry in June of1999 ::June 21 1999: an online journey... There is a slow growth in the number of personal web pages [and] one of theinteresting features is personal journals, where the guy or gal shares his/her rantingsand ravings and chatty stories of what’s happening in their life. ... This one will bereflective and substantive. Not too much fluff here, and if you go away more than merelyentertained, you will find yourself thinking, intrigued, and occasionally gain a newinsight.July 05 1999: fish bowl lifestylethere’s talk here and there about privacy, and how queezy some people I know getwhen things are made known about them, whether it’s a candid photo, or a story wheretheir name is mentioned... or the struggle I hear from some who serve in public officesthat guard their privacy tenaciously.. I don’t know what to make of that.. as a pastor, orminister, I am in a public office, and for me, I have no queeziness in making known howI live my life, and what my thoughts are.. this isn’t to say that I’m exhibitionistic, nor is itto say that I can’t keep confidentiality.. and let’s get the caveat out of the way– _I guardpersonal items of confidentiality shared to me with the strongest of privacy_…... but as for my personal life, I spend little energy or effort to guard it, or to avoid the“fish bowl” effect.. for one, I don’t know of many people who are that intrigued orinterested in my personal life to want to watch me that closely, and 2ndly, I am of thepersuasion that if people see my life authentically and genuinely for what it is, they cansee my humanity, and also how Jesus Christ is making a difference in every way and inevery detail of my life, and that can only be to God’s glory. All this to say that I live mylife as an open book, that people can see me genuinely real in every way...July 12 1999: restful weekendI turned 33... and my first thought is how this was so close to the age when Jesus Christwas crucified, and how he had impacted the world in such a tremendous way in ashortened life, and how centered he was… so i’m asking myself, now at the age of 33,how much has happened in my earthly existence [and i suppose if any one of uscompared our lives to Jesus that wed all pale in comparison, but follow my train ofthought and dont get lost here].. what kind of an impact am i having on the world, whoare the people that i’m intentionally spending time with and pouring my insights andwisdom into, and where is it that i’m going..
  • 10. September 01 1999: sufferin’ succotashI feel overwhelmed and surrounded by task-oriented automaton machines of people.. allaround me, growing up, and in most of life, the people that i’ve been put in the midst of,are for the most part tasky people.. and my emotive reaction is feeling suffocated..surrounded.. disconnected.. breath taken out of me.. perhaps i’ve tipped my hand insaying this, but i’m a relational people-oriented person.. a social being that we werecreated to be.. now at times in my life, i’ve been misunderstood and mis-reacted as atasky person (ugh!) when in fact and substance i’m for the people.. have you seen thosepersonality tasks, the one that maps people vs. task? i may be rare in this, but i wassquare in the middle of that chart- both people and task! so i think for me to feelconnected, both elements have got to be there.. and there is a hard place to find.. i’mfighting to resist emotional shutdown that this suffocation tempts me towards.. andrecently got language for this phenomena- that in the young adult phase of life, a personwrestles with whether to move towards intimacy or isolation.. and my closing thoughtwinds up here- that all people are inherently social but many choose to express theirsocialness through tasksSeptember 13 1999: knee jerk reaction... for many people it seems, people are treated as inanimate objects and used to getsomething done, there really isn’t a desire to get to know people for who they are- thatis, they are people.. with feelings and desires, and an innate yearning to connect withothers.. I was just thinking, boy, when was the last time I saw a gas station attendant, ora bank teller? I don’t see people at those places any more, with the advent of credit cardswipes and ATM machines.. the opportunities to interact with real life human beings..and when it comes to personal relationships, many people only allow certain types ofpeople to get close to them, whether it’s similar hobbies and interests or similarpersonalities or similar backgrounds, and they automatically shun those who may lookdifferent or think different.. that’s such a travesty, and it’s something I’m guarding myselfagainst, not to have a knee jerk reaction to people who I’m relating with in everyday life..of course people are different, every single one, with unique stories and uniquefingerprints.. if I waited until I met someone that I “click” with to open up, I’d be a verylonely person for a very long time.. instead, I am persuaded that we all have much incommon, as we have been created in the image of God, and are part of the one race,the human race.. we all have the innate desire to connect with one another, to belongand to become, and ultimately to connect with our Creator God
  • 11. My Personal Y2KJanuary 30 2000: honest personal struggles... personal struggles are a part of life, and I’m honest enough to admit them.. those thatdon’t have any are only pretending. this is not to say that “all of life is suffering”, but thatwe can be honest with the tough times and the good times, and that the the goal of lifeis not to pretend we have no desires nor to avoid suffering. The Word in Romans 5came to mind, that suffering produces perseverance. And character. And hope. My owntendency, and perhaps yours, is to find relief when faced with tough times, rather thanallow the opportunity to be a place for learning perseverance and producing character.In the tough time, I want to relieve myself, find something that brings short-termtemporary pleasure, which in effect only creates guilt and more dissatisfaction. Resisttemptation, God help us all.October 15 2000: self-disclosure implications... my life has been quite adventurous lately, and what I’m able to share is this, in amoment of clarity, perhaps insight, in the waking minutes of this morning, I’m able toarticulate now the strong preference I have for self-disclosure, rather than self-protection.. implications and repercussions are this: (1) you get to read some of mypainfully personal thoughts in this online journal; (2) I take in some very different andunorthodox assumptions in the way I communicate and relate and work with others,even at times surprising others in a maladaptive way [new word I learned recently]; (3)makes it very hard for me to work freely and comfortably in a traditionally-influencedAsian setting... why hide when you can share, life is too short for shallow small talk allthe timeNovember 09 2000: live without secrets“live as if there were no secrets” was a quote I heard on the radio, talkin’ about how weshould live, to avoid sin, to have skeleton in the closet; I’d radicalize it and say “live withno secrets”, along with my open book concept, not so much to broadcast my life andthoughts (cf. Truman Show or reality-tv), but to live in the open, throw away the masks,stop the maneuvering, and be all there.. for too long (and it’s even a tendency thatcreeps back too often), i’ve lived unsure of myself and tentative in my actions.. it’s timeto let live, to learn from the mistakes while moving, take steps, make plans, and dosomething.. life is too short to sit around waiting for a green light.. the light is green, thesky is blue, pursue the good dream for the glory of God.December 01 2000: passion vs. longing
  • 12. ... it’s mostly been recently that i’ve entertained the question of what I want.. for themost part of my life, it’s been a matter of being a responsible person, not so muchdutiful or responsible, but doing things that were my responsibility, and for many parts ofit, playing safe with decisions and commitments and such.. where does one find thecourage and boldness to do things, if not from withinb/c of an innate personality of drivenness, competition, or dominant ego.. somesemblence of courage can perhaps be found in faith in a higher power, or God.. but myongoing conclusion at this moment is that this thing called “courage” is found inPASSION, generating energy and energizing the person because it is something one isgifted to do, something that makes a contribution to the greater good, something that isenjoyable, something that one would do whether paid or not, something that one thinksabout, and is upon one’s heart.. it shows up in conversations, it comes up in the contextof relationships, and it’s the section of the bookstore where you gravitate towards... andwhere the synergy happens is when one’s passion converges with one’s gifts, abilities,and profession, so that one can be paid for what one does the best, in his skills anddesires..now where longing differs, is that longing is a deep-seated desire to receive somethingfor oneself, to gain something that one wants, not to do something, but to receivesomething, as if one deserves it.. where that puts me, well, my longing is be acceptedfor who i am, to feel the sense of belonging, to be in conversation and dialogue withpeople who will listen, and embrace my story, my thoughts, my ideas, my feelings.. idon’t know know when/if that part of me, where i live, will be touched in this way that mylonging would be fulfilled.. while longing will be unmet, passion is for a bigger part beingmet for me, as i’ve gone through 2 job transitions in the past 2 months, and now amdoing 2 areas of my passion, networking, ministry, and technology.. it’s unconventional,to work 2 part-time jobs, but it’s very me, to not fit in the box.. to be multitasking.. and tobe energized in this way.. the beauty of this is God’s gracious hand, for it was nothing Icould have arranged or setup.. God orchestrated it all..
  • 13. Self-care and swimming in 2001March 21 2001: lost most if not all of my motivationwelcome back.. it’s been a long period of low profile silence here, and there’s a goodreason for that. I’ve just gone thru a 3-month period of depression and lost most if not allof my motivation, and barely clinged on by faith.. God has been patient and graciouswith me, and prevented me from doing something terribly self-destructive or super-harmful during that period. I received the insight I needed... on Thursday, March 15th, and I’m feeling more integrated than I’ve ever felt and atpeace with myself, as for the first time. A one-sentence summary: I found the missinglink to my motivation (or lack thereof), and when I gave permission to myself to knowwhat I want and to act on it, I got in touch with my HEART!!! Not just my heart’s attitudeor motives or feelings or sincerity or wishes, but my heart’s desire specifically in thearea of what I want to do with my life (in terms of action, inaction, career, leisure, likesand dislikes). For years I have been disconnected from that– being bound by duty andresponsibility and constantly searching my attitudes for what I should do, and waitinguntil I knew for certain before I took action. This might be overstating the obvious forsome of you, those of you who are type-A obsessive compulsive competitive driventypes, but for me, this is gold. And I want to write a book to tell the full story. You got asneak preview right here.April 15 2001: if you don’t mind mei’m not much into the traditional “save face” mechanism that Asian people are knownfor.. it never did much for me, and I don’t know what it is that it does for others.. so herein my journal, i take off my mask, and let you have a look into my very persona, i’ve gotnothing to hide, nothing to be ashamed of, per se, i’m here, what you see is what youget... I’m not a hider, and I’m not sure how people have the energy to be hiding,because it takes more energy to hide and pretend (to make oneself look better than onereally is), than to be oneself and let it ride.. it is now the one month anniversary of mypersonal breakthrough, and i’m feeling well and life is going on full speed ahead.. i donot work myself too hard, tho’ i do my share of work, perhaps more than my share– at arecent conference, i found myself handing out 5 business cards, with different thingsthat i’m involved with.. a good friend said that if I got up to 6 business cards, that’d betoo many and I’d better slow down.. all I want in life is simply to enjoy my family andfriends, and have as many friends as possible.. all the rest, career and stuff, is justgravy and for fun.August 22 2001: after several conversations, realizing how... [I’m] realizing how strongly me and my feelings and body reacts and even shuts downin a number of situations.. those areas involving tasks, goal setting, and project
  • 14. planning.. it’s a big confession for me here, to say my ignorance has done me wrong,and i was missing this part of life.. with some encouraging words last night, it’s not allthat bad, to do these things, but i do need to focus my mind on accomplishings anddoings, even while i know there’s a lot of me that resists and reacts..August 27 2001: relapse... i’m here, and hangin’ in there, but have slowed down a lot.. i’ll admit here that itappears to be a relapse to depression, and that i’m learning about this thing that is apart of my life story now, and will share bits and pieces of it here.. many of you readingthis may think it funny to joke about being depressed, or to give cliche answers togetting over the blues.. but from the data that I’ve humbled myself now to begin readingand learning, this condition is a real thing for a significant number of people; and tho’ noteveryone is willing to be supporting for fear of being drained, it doesn’t have to be thatway if you have a heart..October 17 2001: started on new medicationYesterday I started on new medication, and my thinking and feeling are considerablynormal now. It’s good to be back. ... The social stigma of mental illnesses can be toomuch to bear for some readers. _Excerpt_: Culturally, most Chinese tend to hide their feelings in comparison to their western counterparts. Indeed, there is a famous Chinese saying which said that “family shame should be kept inside the house.” The loss of face is important to many Chinese. It is a social phenomenon that mental illness is a shame. This ill- conceived notion has to do with their ignorance of “mental illness.” [from Caroline Fei-Yeng Kwok’s article Mental Illness--Chinese Style]November 15 2001: learning about bipolar disorderI’m learning about bipolar disorder, a mental chemical imbalance affecting around 2million Americans, and with a wide variation of how it affects people.. I’ve beenintentional (or proactive) in pacing myself better in the use of my time and my nutritionand my work.. I’m also learning how to swim (yes, at the ripe ol’ age of 35)...
  • 15. 2002May 25 2002: one thing i’m learningone thing i’m learning, is that being mostly unconventional (and from other’sperspective, extremely unconventional), i am very unpredictable in work habits.. and ihave many varied interests, in what i do with my life, and what i want to do with myjob(s).. humanly speaking, it does make sense to have one devotion and one focus forefficiency and effectiveness, but for me, to do one thing is confining and leads toboredom.. this means the more traditional/conventional minded person would havequite a challenge working with me, when attempting to put me into a box, when i’m suchan out of the box person.. thus my conundrum…. if it were possible, i’d have a positionwhere i can use my technical skills, pastoral skills, and personal networking skills, to domy part in forming spirituality among Asian Americans, multiethnic, and postmodernrealms.. i don’t think it can be done in one lifetime, and in that sense i don’t expect it tobe.. but to translate that into real life, into a job description, that’s been the enigma..perhaps it is a vision, and needs to birth an organization or book or something, asdisparate as these themes are.. so be it, that is meJuly 17 2002: My brains are still largely mushRecently came across two quotes that I found very bothersome: one, a comment from abiographer, who said that one can’t reveal too much of the real inside story because itwould erode the confidence of the reader. If anything can and could inspire people, it isthe real story of a person’s growth, struggles, and courage, the raw humanity thatshows those of us without a published biography how life can be, and that is what willinspire real confidence.The other, about how Koreans perceive a “show of emotion as a weakness thatindicates I have no control over myself.” Ludicrous. What kind of torment on the heartand soul of humanity if emotions were to be suppressed without necessary expression?The most human person who ever lived (and is still alive), is Jesus Christ, and he wept!(John 11:35) He did not hold back emotion in some sort of effort to control himself. It’sgood to show emotions and feelings; life calls for it. To be human is to emote.September 29 2002: since beginning my spiritual journeysince beginning my spiritual journey over a decade and a half ago, and more intentlyover the past few years, I’ve come to realize the fine taste I have for how people dochurch, and I’m one of the few who enjoys a wide variety of worship expressions (I’veheard it said that most people can only ‘worship’ in a particular packaging), to thedegree that I’m a church connoisseur, and now have the freedom to be churching-at-large.. it’s my observation that with the megachurch movement (paralleling the Walmart
  • 16. phenomena in retailing), people attend church for two things: (1) programming, and (2)people.On the programming side, people are more consumer minded, and look for thepreaching and music that will be most comfortable or engaging to them, and eachperson has certain criteria of how they best hear God, or how they don’t want to hearGod. While how people choose church rest on many factors, the most popular reasonsare not theological nor style. It comes down to peripheral issues of parking, music, lowexpectations of the attender, and children’s program. What a tragic commentary onpeople’s lack of faith engagement..On the people side, churches are very much social institutions, with each having aparticularly ethos defined by the way a given local church community relates to eachother.. if you fit their social strata, then you’re welcome.. if you don’t, then they make itobliquely clear that you’re not welcome — unintentional as it may, it takes intentionalityto build relationships. Most churches appoint the smiley-face welcoming-greeters, butthe ethos is just plain missing from, b/c the social factors and cliques are already inplace. Add to that, some people are very choosy about who they relate with, forwhatever excuse/reason.October 13 2002: an insight about myselfCONVERSATION IS LIFE. It’s one of the few things that I’m willing and wanting to sleepover, to engage in good conversation and dialogue with other people.. and what is it thatmakes good conversation? It’s not only talking about things that I’m interested in, forthat would be too narrow just for me or anyone, although I’m interested in a wide varietyof topics… but rather good conversations involve the desire to explore the variousdimensions and perspectives of an issue. When people see an issue eye-to-eye orsimilarly or too much alike, there’s not much to talk about except to parrot each other, orworse, to demonize those who have differing perspectives. Demonizing is that “us vs.them” mentality that makes other people “evil”, when in fact we’re all in the same boat ofthe human race, and we all have much to learn from one another, and to treat eachother and each other’s perspective with decorum and respect. This doesn’t have to beagreement, people! Be it the conservatives who demonize or the liberals who demonize,to be so dogmatic and so demonizing leads to ugliness rather than beauty.Good conversation is getting to dialogue and debate on a friendly term. One of thefoundational ingredients is friendship, and (from a message delivered by Gene Maynardre: life) as one older and wiser lady said when discerning the problems persisting in hernursing home, it’s a failure in friendship. It’s a failure in friendship that results in badconversations, misunderstanding, strife, and unresolvable conflict. Resolving conflict isnot about agreement. Resolving conflict is about restoring a friendship, and the desirefor relationship over correctness of who’s right or wrong. My achillle’s heel is that Ialways want relationship and friendship, and it is those who don’t that perpetuatedistance, strife, isolation, and competitiveness.
  • 17. November 09 2002: subconscious overwhelmingsdiscovering an innate subconscious emotive reaction to how I respond in differentarenas.. that when I’m among peers who have some shared experiences, when I’mamong friends, when I’m with people who talk above my head, when I’m doing apresentation in a mixed audience, when I’m in a formal meeting, or when I’m teaching/presenting with people who don’t know what I know, I feel very differently in each. Andmuch of that is perhaps normal, what happens with those feelings is that they feelsomewhat overpowering or overwhelming, (in the more formal situations, that is), so Iget tunnel-visioned, mouth-goes-dry, and I babble through what I have to say.. whereasin other situations, I feel lucid and my thoughts are coherent, perhaps even persuasive.Not sure how much of this can be disciplined, in terms of managing my emotions.. allthis to say, I’m part of the human drama. The lingering reflection is: what does thismean for me as an ePastor, does it say that I oughta hide my doubts and fears andquirks, and be preachy all the time, spout Bible verses, and be spiritual and stuff? I’mnot so persuaded….November 23 2002: leadership = discipline + insomnialots of things going through my brainwaves, will mention a few here.. 2 thoughts on theingredients of leadership, those who are effective leaders seem to have these:methodical personal discipline, and need less than 8 hours of sleep a night. Many otheringredients are also necessary, but these 2 seem to make the difference between a topleader versus an average one; thus my need for 8 hours of sleep per night will keep mefrom the performance level required for bigger things, and I’m okay with that.... it seems to me that to leave a church and into another one is rather disturbing tosome people (along with new church startups), when in fact, I see that Godaccomplishes good things by moving people to new places where all can thrive and newpeople can be reached.. the critical eye should be applied to those who stay within achurch context, stagnate, and fail to ask important questions…December 18 2002: ideas, people, & insomniaI’m addicted to ideas.. lined up 3 meetings to hang out with people on Wednesday, andloved the engaging dialogue.. on occasion now, I get to actually meet in person a fellowblogger, and while a few conversations were blog-related, most of this conversation waslife related.. blogging (it seems) can only capture a glimpse of life, particularly for thosewho have a lot of feelings and thoughts going on in their life; which is to say, somepeople have more going on than others One of the convs was about personality types,and I’m persuaded that being borderline on the Myers-Briggs T/F scale, I’ve developeda lot of thinking skills (and that’s prob a huge contributor as to why I’m a web
  • 18. developer), yet have lots of feelings too – yes, I’m among the male minority that enjoystalking about feelings and psychological categories..... Let me say this that it’s just plain weird that it takes money to do anything in thisworld and economy. I guess if it weren’t for money, then it’d be bartering.I’ve been up since 4am.. actually, been awake lying in bed since 2:40am, and decidedto get up so I do something more than stare at the ceiling in the dark while waiting to gettired, but now it’s 6:30am and i’m still not, so i think i’ll stay up and make a day of it...
  • 19. 2003January 08 2003: people w/ bipolar disorderQuestion> Do people with bipolar disorder have a place in this world?djchuang>> Yes. Every person with bipolar or without have a place in this world!Regardless of the shape, ailment, status, or size a person is born with or becomes,every person is unique and valuable, and with God’s help and grace, everyone canexperience the fullness of life.February 16 2003: snow, worship, dialogueHere in metro DC, with over 12” of the snow on the ground, and maybe 20” or morebefore day’s end, it’s a great day to be web surfing and blogging.... my profound thought of the weekend.. I’m in the middle of no mans land, b/c I do likedeep thoughtful and/or personal conversations, perhaps more of a philosophical orpsychological bent (which I’d call personal), I don’t do the small talk stuff well with theaverage joe I meet at social occasions, and then I don’t do well with the high-poweredconversations amongst those who talk among academia. The latter group do have thecapacity to engage at very thoughtful levels, tho’ usually not personal; and the formerdon’t readily exhibit the capacity to do neither thoughtful or personal. Occasionally I dofind a virtual dialogue on the internet, from those who find my web site or blog, and wehave some great exchanges.. and those do thrill my soul.February 17 2003: work is workgot into a dialogue about work, for me work is work, even tho’ I am passionate (oropinionated) about certain topics; I’ve copied portions of the text here, which is deep-linked in the comment section of timliu’s blog::djchuang-> I think it’s more of the reality of work, that work isn’t supposed to benecessarily satisfying or make a person happy or fulfill a person’s dream. Work is work!If you were to ask those in the previous generation(s) about whether they “loved theirwork” or “how would they rate their work satisfaction”, they’d probably give you a funnylook at the irrelevance of that question. Work is there to provide income to meet yourneeds & make a contribution to society.While a childhood dream of being a ballerina is wonderful, and could be a person’spassion, that may not translate into a viable job that pays for ones livelihood. How manyballerinas do you know get to do that for a living? How good would you have to be atsomething to get paid enough for making enough to live on? A person can have a
  • 20. deeply passionate personal dream, but isn’t the best at it, s/he can’t have it as a career,but surely & hopefully, can pursue it as a hobby.a little surprised to hear your ‘work is work’ viewpoint, since you seem particularlypassionate about the things you are involved in generally.. also wondering if youexperience with ministry had any effect on your view, for positive or negative.May 01 2003: interim at home base... Ive been thinking that many of my blog entries have been about external things, as inmy observations about things happen around me or around the country or world [whichhas drawn a number of blog readers in search of the latest news tidbits or bookmarkingthis as the blog fad has grown], whereas my initial intent for this journal was to be moreabout my personal reflections about my internal life, personal thoughts and feelingsabout me and my relationships..so let me take a moment to check whats happening inside:: while amidst greatnetworking opportunities, I was feeling out of sync b/c I felt tired and was probably onEast Coast time while out West, and wasnt able to engage conversationally as much asI wanted to or wish I coulda.. then while retiring in my room, felt bad about it, as ifnegative thought attacks were coming [Ive got this uncanny ability to feel bad aboutfeeling bad about myself, finely honed over many, many years of practice].. and it tooksome extra prayer and remembered a conversation from earlier in the day, where anolder gentleman shared of his struggles in earlier years with bad thoughts, and how hemeditated on Bible verses telling him who he really was, that he was a child of God, thathe was loved, that he was valuable.. and this remembrance helped me to push thenegative thoughts aside, to hit the brakes on spiraling down, to calm my nerves, and torelax and rest.. and to realize that it is more factual that Im simply feeling tired and mybrain is not working objectively. With such prayerful renewal and a very comfortable bed(much firmer than the previous nights lumpy bed), I got a good night of rest, and Godspeace did indeed guard my heart that night.June 27 2003: back to the pastthis weekend is a retro trip to Dallas.. where I spent 4.5 years of my life doing theseminary thing... and to think that was 8 years ago.. Ive come quite a ways from therein these few years, perhaps undergoing more changes and transformations than anaverage person goes through in a lifetime. The thing about the mythical average personis that s/he doesnt change all that much over the course of 70+ years.Most habits (and personality, they say) are formed before the age of 6, and the rest isthe mere playing out of the cards ones dealt, if that. Im pre-imagining some of thepeople I might run into, and the catching up conversations we might have. A few ofthem may know of my web presence, but Im anticipating most of them dont. The
  • 21. average person, or is it only those in my circles, to which I dont feel all that sense ofbelonging anyways... those social patterns are prob established early on too in onesrespective FOO [family of origin], arent much on keeping up over long distance and usethe convenience + wonders of internet technology. If theyd only read this blog.... If I could afford it, Id love to sit in a psychologist/psychiatrist office [shrinks] everyweek to talk + process. Many people dont like that b/c of social stigma or not wanting tobe analyzed or not liking to talk so deeply; well, I love it.August 22 2003: life change on myself... For those of you just tuning in (I’ll write it more towards them and everyone else maylisten in), I have it easy with the vulnerability opening up and even trusting kind of thing,but towards the 2nd half of the week, the big insight that impacted me [to use SBIlingo ] was this big issue that most people wrestle with on the work and life balance.Being pegged on the end of all the spectrum when we lined up according to personalitytype and personal needs and preferences and tendencies, I’d lived all my adult life withlittle to no attention to career development, b/c I was always turned off (among otheremotions) by people who lost themselves in work, or were hard charging aggressivetypes (b/c I didn’t like being run over). To see their human-ness over the course of theweek sparked an inspiration for me to “show up at work.” [and I say it here for the publicaccountability]Some lights began to come on after getting to process a lot of the “work” and“organizational” and “corporate” lingo as these high-energy driven ambitious peopletalked about life at work, and a few about personal life (my bias and preference for latternoted, and even received by a few)… but overall, people were accessible and cordial,and thus didn’t push me off, roadblock me, or run over me.. the course was actuallydesigned for managers with 5-10 years of experience, and there I sat in with 0 years ofreal life experience. Talk about feeling marginalized! But I did sense that in theirhumanity, their struggle to work thru their own vulnerabilities and weaknesses, theirhonesty, their teachable spirit (tho’ some will fight it more visibly than others!), andsensed that competencies and skills can be learned, behaviors can be learned,personal adjustments can be made. So the distance lag of my inexperience gave methe room to observe and learn and quickly process what was happening, and that I alsohad capacity and competency to do that kind of thing — IF I wanted to. It’s more of aquestion of passion, desire, making choices; and while I may never “enjoy” the decision-making action-oriented goal-setting planning-concrete pragmatic categories of stuff asthey seem to (just as other may never “enjoy” the adapting to a diversity of people),work life is about the both/and of task AND people. And I had only gone into the workenvironment (all my life) doing the task part like a cog in the machinery.No wonder I had great work and life balance. I kept them disconnected, disengaged atthe one, loved and craved the other. (Cutoff, to use my 1-on-1 coach’s terminology)While I can do great work, I don’t “enjoy” work. What I enjoy doing is talking about and
  • 22. explore new IDEAS. And guess what? It may even be possible to be at a workplacewhere I get to make those ideas into action! What a novel concept! I can apply myselfthere in the work environment.. I can learn more skills to be persuasive about my ideasin teamwork and presentations and written communication.. I can learn to more skills tomanage projects that have innovative ideas (as I did during our nuclear reactionexercise, where I managed 5 middle managers and 5 frontline workers [corporateterminology] to get us to the winning solution with time to spare.) While I didn’t have apolished package of laying out the specifics of how-tos or celebrating the “win”, partly b/c I didn’t know how and it didn’t cross my mind, there was excitement for me inintroducing THE idea that worked. I’ll never become the hard-charging take-chargedomineering manager/leader, but I can do much more than I’m doing (hiding behind acomputer screen pecking away).And it dawned on me during the closing integration exercise that the “real DJ” doesn’tgo to work. A “DJ” that has greatly honed and limited and highly performing skills ofprogramming shows up, and then tunnel-vision tunes out the rest of the organization.The opportunity presented was to have “more of me” (or even have “all of me” show upat work) and do more work based on my passion and ideas (the strengths that surfacedin this work-oriented & self-awareness context) is that I love ideas and can evengenerate them. And if I can build a support team around me so they can make it happenwith me, and participate in making it happen, I’ll get to use my strengths in the contextof a bigger organizational/organic machinery.the group was like a magnifying mirror (not like the one-way mirror through which wehad been observed all week), and helped me to see more of myself, and that there wasa lot more in me (which I had always held back especially in the work context). Andtoday, I shared that in all my life, the real DJ never showed up at work, but now withtheir inspiration, _I’m_ going to show up at work. Doing the work thing with more of a DJflavor, and a DJ voice, and exploring beyond my own job description, et al. And to putmyself out there to grow personally in the work context, as well as all the rest. I’ll bethrowing out wild ideas and test the boundaries, we’ll see what happens.. if they rejectme, as least I gave it my all.September 22 2003: Get up you bum... thought on the drive time, is Life’s demand on me, often asking me for more.. that Ihave to take the initiative, that I have to make the decision, that I have to make thingshappen, that I have to control my emotions, that I have to focus, that I have to beintentional, that I have to plan, that people look to me.. it’s not a role that I want, partly b/c I have a thing against taking power for fear of being dictatorial or overbearing orcorrupted.. and not sure why it gets thrown on me, just b/c I’m male or oldest son oreducated or what.. while I can do it, and have the capacity to so-called “lead” (as the listabove are some of the leadership descriptors), I certainly don’t like it. And so what? Themoment needs it, and I hear the echo to Rocky to just “get up”.
  • 23. October 16 2003: getting highthis is a good week for me, a number of things humming along, getting to hang out withwhat they call high capacity people.. which is just a fancy word for energetic & activeachievers, or passionate and intentional.. whatever it’s called, you know when you’rearound people who bring out the best in you without running over you, and willing toconnect & relate with an average joe like me (that’s how I see myself).. it’s gotten me upat 2am for a third day now, and the ideas are just bursting around in my head, and itfeels good.. so much better than the nightmares that was waking me up 2 yrs ago..I feel like what does it for me is that I want + need to be liked by capable people (theword “like” works well for me, much better than “respected – too formal and distant, or“loved” – expects too much of others, and people don’t know how to love me the way Iwant to be loved anyways), and then I can contribute all of my latent + untappedpotential, and that makes work a whole lot more palatable.. I don’t like to be out frontand in the spotlight, and probably don’t have the charisma and polish to be thatmagnetic personality that lights up the room, but I think I’m a good connector (cf.Tipping Point), and that’s a great role for me to enjoy and contribute..November 26 2003: virtual relationshipsone recurring question I get occasionally here is about my relationships how do I knowsuch-and-such a person? I often reply that I hadn’t met them in person, but relate tothem virtually.. and, then the followup, how do I build relationships online, if I haven’tactually met a person, in person face-to face? This study shows that it is possible, and Iquote this excerpt: “… distributed learners communicating predominantly online canindeed sustain intimate, personal relationships …“couple of thoughts of how to build virtual relationships.. first, people have to want it,2ndly, it takes effort and intentionality – just as physically + geographically proximaterelationships takes doing things together and talking with one another, so does virtualonline relationships.. there are so many technologies to use: IM, email, chat room, webforums, mailing lists, etc.. and relating personally, whether nearby or virtual, is aboutconversation and dialogue, sharing ideas, thoughts, and feelings.. so if you want to gothere, you can go there, and you’re not bound by physical or geographical boundaries!December 09 2003: disempowering languagemaybe it’s the context that my life moves in, but it irks me often enough to noticeannouncements, or calls for volunteers or signups, where the phrase, “if you’reinterested“, is added to the wording.. it’s such deflating, weakening language.. takes anylift out of the sails.. you don’t hear NetFlix or Starbucks or Coca-Cola or Brand X makingtheir announcements with the little introductory “if you’re interested”.. you hear: buy! youwant this! space is limited! hurry! act now! Just do it! It’s an active voice! If someonedoesn’t want to do something, or isn’t interested, they can make their own decision.
  • 24. lately, I’ve enjoyed several conversations to talk about ideas and possibilities anddreams with no boundaries.. it’s been so invigorating.. I’m starting to get the connectionbetween ideas and the possibility of turning them into reality through possibly fleshingout a project, starting a business, joining a organization.. it’s the thrill of seeing an ideacome into existence, more than the action-oriented doingness of it, that excites me.. it’sthat creative process ex nihilo.. now with my technology and theology background, I’mmissing a big piece of economic / financial feasibility, so my desire to see things happenor a new business startup has a big vulnerability b/c most of me doesn’t care about howmuch money it might make (as the typical businessman would be into making money),but for me, it’s seeing new business services come into being that gets my imaginativejuices flowing.. and that’s about all I can say about them, lest my ideas get taken bysomebody else
  • 25. 2004February 23 2004: introspective inspiration... here I sit wrestling with my frustrations and restlessness and inertia, feelings andthoughts that hover around my head like the dark clouds over Linus (was it thatcharacter Linus in Charlie Brown? or was it just Charlie Brown himself?).. wanting to dosomething more engaging, more exciting, more stimulating, more creative andinnovative.. a little part of my self-discovery that I’m putting here as self-disclosure, Ithrive and need a constant pace of change and stimulation.. routines and details, moneyand power, just don’t do anything for me.March 30 2004: work in processthis theme echoed several times in the past 24 hours – why not reveal what ishappening on the inside while it is in process? Instead of holding back an idea or a planuntil it is perfected and done for communication/publicity channels, which keeps themasses in the dark, in an organization or corporation or church, and creates stirs ofignorance + cluelessness, or worse, suspicion or discouragement (b/c the masses see“nothing going on”).. rather, reveal what is going on while it is in process, and inviteothers to participate in the conversation, pitch in their ideas, collaborate, and producesomething better than what can be done behind closed doors..April 06 2004: audience of oneafter 2 road trips in the past week... I’ve felt pretty tired and gone to bed early the past 2nights, but now awoken in the middle of the night, and would rather blog than to toss ‘nturn for 2 hours.. I find my thoughts to be as multi-threaded and multiple windowed asmy computer desktop usually is, cluttered with many layers, windows, and buttons toclick on.. *click* audience of one — idea perked re: who reads blogs and whether theblogger writes for the readers (thus not revealing anything really personal)for me, I do desire and occasionally do write extremely transparently here, and not asoften as I’d like (seeing how some blogger I know aims for daily throughput), nor astransparently as I’d like, now that my profile gets more prominent through more venues..I’d like to think that I can be my transparent + broken + unedited self in all contexts,even as public a venue as a blog [which can be read around the world by anyone, mindyou], and part of my hesitation at aspiring or ascending into more prominent roles ofleadership is the limitations / constraints / expectations put onto the leader, that aleader’s words and thoughts can no longer be freely shared and unedited, but rather,has to be more measured and thoughtful, b/c of the impact it has on the masses.. forsome of the newer generation, it’s okay to be transparent, and the expectation is formore transparent + vulnerable leaders, but even with them, it’s not a total transparent +vulnerable leader they respect + trust + listen to, it’s one who still has a certain sense of
  • 26. vision or direction or charisma or influence or deconstructionist wit.. (jumping tracks) Ihad a tough conversation recently that I wish I could blog about, but can’t, partly insiderinfo, won’t impact your portfolio, but might mine.. as one who [almost] always invitingdialogue, I run into a psychosomatic wall when people fail to respond with empathy orengagement, be it a categorical misunderstanding on why I’d have a personal websitethat reveals data which may be controversial or taboo (but won’t engage in dialogue asto why they feel compelled to shout me down), or when I honestly say I don’t know howto say something and it’s the first time I’ve tried, the unfeeling insensitive response I getis, yeah, I can see that.. ouch..July 31 2004: edging towards burnout?Perish the thought that crossed my mind this week, as I sat at my office cubicle, with 3LCD screens before me (2 laptops, 1 with an extra screen for extra desktop space, verynice), and I wondered if I was feeling close to burnout with ramped-up workloadbetween my 2 jobs, which I had been doing mostly well with for the past 3+ years..but this summer has taken more effort for me to do them, one b/c of event planning thatcomes around once every 3 years (and I get weighed down by details), the other b/c ofmy change in role... developing processes and beginning to manage workflow andstuff.. I don’t know the terms people use for business operations, so I kinda invent myown terms which may or may not work the most efficiently to communicate the best tothose I need to work with.. but it’s a start, and a good start, just that when the thought ofme, of all people, feeling a little overload of Internet, I said to myself, oh my, what’swrong? I love the Internet, how could I ever get too much of it, or get sick of it? No way!I got that Gallup strength theme of INPUT, so doesn’t that mean I never have to fearinformation overload?!knowing my own vulnerabilities, I decided to not push myself harder to get more of thechallenging tasks done, stayed with easier tasks, tried to pace myself, Googled a bit tobegin reading up on burnout, and food and mood, to raise my awareness of how to takecare of myself, something I easily neglect..August 06 2004: sleepus distruptusQuestion >> You seem to be up to the wee hours of the morning often… are you avampire? sleep during the day?djchuang >> No, I’m not exactly a vampire, though I do have my share of mood swingsand irratic sleep patterns occasionally. Less often than 3 years ago, I’m glad to say.About once or twice a week, my solid 8.5 hours of sleep is interrupted, and I’m lying halfawake in bed. Rather than toss and turn to try to get back to sleep for the next hour, myidea is to get up and do something on the web, and then maybe I’ll get tired again, thengo back to sleep. For a majority of this year, I’d been able to sleep through the night.
  • 27. But the past month or so, I’m finding my sleep interrupted. Perhaps it’s stress related(understatement of the month), and my recent edging towards burnout.August 06 2004: Coming Out, sorta, but not really... I’m not one for convention or protocol, and yet I’ve wound up in a place of profile incertain circles. Parts of it I like, most of it I don’t. The part I don’t is how it impacts what Ido here, and that it limits the freedom of speech I would otherwise have to vent and rantand disclose. I do sit on some confidential intel and some potent networking. Some callit a position of leadership. I don’t emote enough when I speak in public, to work thecrowd, to exude charisma to win them over. I know I’m not normal. I have a hard timefinding conversational partners. Some call me abstract, theoretical, idealistic,progressive, pioneer.Whatever. I just want to be me: accepted, loved, and enjoy dialogue + conversation. I’mnot so concerned about measurable outcomes or impact or my salary or goals orpurpose or ambition or accomplishments. Definitely not my title or position. And in thereal world, I’m not financially independent (like a blogger I know of), so I have to play bythe rules to keep the cash flowing and be responsible with the title and position ofinfluence I have in formal structures and institutions, and to take care of my livelihoodand my family’s.... I’ve been to dark places with a noonday demon. I have some real issues withchurches and institutions. I have problems with certain people. But, alas, I can’t talkabout it here in this public forum. It wouldn’t be appropriate. It’d be “discouraging”.Recently, I removed a past interview on my blog, by request of the interviewee, whichwas showing up when his name was Googled for, and didn’t want it to be publicanymore b/c it might be “misunderstood”. I’ve had to remove other items too.Now at age 38, once in a while, several times a year, I go to that place within andrealize that my deepest personal dream and yearning will never be realized this side ofheaven. A part of that is true, a lot of it stinks. Punch me in the stomach why don’t you!So, what’s left is to make the best of what I can with what I got. Playing with the cardsI’m dealt. I got a lot, in the whole scheme of things. For that I am supposed to begrateful. I am. But I’m not going to be superficially smiley-faced about it.October 10 2004: space for emotionsI’ve started listening (picked up where I last left off) to the audio book version ofEmotional Intelligence.. and via a rather circuitous route, I think I’ve developed notableemotional capacity in more areas than I thought I had, over the course of my adultyears, and it’s probably due to the open posture I have to receiving feedback and tolearning, that helps this along.. so some of it was very reassuring, and it tells me that I
  • 28. have more to offer this world than I thought I had.. I don’t particularly agree with the partwhere the author said that the human body was not designed to run at the pace ofabsorbing so much information, and going at the pace it goes at in today’s society.. (tobe fair, for me to slow down is risky for me, b/c of my past experience in having time onmy hand and seeing where my emotions take me negatively, a la a dark depressingspiral)...December 29 2004: communicating like your life depended on itCommunication is hard work. But it is so necessary. Actively communicating is neededin every realm- within an organization (for-profit or non-profit), between organizations,from organizations to the public, between individuals, within a marriage, in all kinds ofrelationships. (and it can also be said that communication within oneself in the form ofself-talk has its own kind of impact) And yet it’s so poorly done all over the place. I won’tgripe about why others don’t do it, nor speculate what their motives are.I’ll admit that I’m not the greatest communicator. It just plain disappoints me that orgsand people withhold information, and thus fail to communicate. Communicating iswritten or its verbal. Public speaking is the #1 fear of Americans (and probably of mostpeople around the world). Written communication, like blogging, works for some people.Experts say that most communication is non-verbal, but in actuality, mostcommunication effectively happens because of words, written and spoken.So I use words, typed words. Blogging has opened up a new world for me, and tomillions of others. I don’t get to blog as often as I’d like, far short of the 5 hours a daythat an A-list blogger spends on the art of it.And in that process of actively communicating, we slowly learn how to communicatebetter, to do the hard work, and we find life.
  • 29. 2005January 03 2005: elusive motivationis now becoming elusive sleep.. the past week or so was intent on slowly down to enjoythe holidays, and I’m one of those persons who doesn’t know what to do with myself onvacation. I did get good quality time with family, and still did have time left over, and Idid not feel the motivation to do anything in particular. I did not veg’ out on videos, as anumber of other bloggers had confessed.So today I’m feeling a bit more motivated, perhaps from the new year. Took down theoutdoor holiday lights yesterday, and even went biking a few miles. Then a little tidyingup around the house. Then working on my website, and that’s what ate up my time.Now it’s midnight...January 03 2005: restraining orderI don’t write about anything and everything that crosses my mind here, even tho’ it isproported to be a place where you can read my mind. You get a selected slice of mythoughts and feelings and ideas, and that’s about all. I have not been given carteblanche to talk about my family, my marriage, my jobs. You can easily extrapolate thesensitivities involved in those areas.A minority of it (referring to my decision to exercise restraint) is due to discretion andwisdom and faith. Where faith plays a role is what’s called self-control.A bigger part of it is respect for the differing perspectives of people around me inphysical proximity (I prefer this term much more than IRL – in real life, because those ofyou who are my blog readers are real people too), and that they do not seem to havethe same perspective of showing all their cards or voicing their opinions freely orshowing transparency to the degree or in the manner I’ve been known to have done.This has a particular effect on what I write for my autobiography. Much of my life hasbeen shaped and impacted by real people around me, most of whom are still aroundand a few of them might glance at this blog. Thus a small dilemma in how much I feel Ican disclose in the telling of my own story, tentatively titled “my random life.”February 17 2005: scorched soulsHaving pastored for about 5 years, and not pastoring for about 4 years now, I’ve hadsome time and distance away from it to come out with 3 observations about church life(in no particular order nor priority, just what comes to mind during this bloggingmoment):
  • 30. 1. Church is both organism and organization. Even the most organic expressions ofchurch (a word with roots going back to Old English and the Greek for “the Lord’shouse”, and related to the word ekklesia, meaning “the called out ones”), it still haslevels of organization, albeit less formal, less systematic, maybe less planned and morespontaneous. Organization has been developed to such a business and science inmodern America, some half-jokingly describe how America has turned Christianity intoan entrepreneurial enterprise.2. I went into ministry expecting God to do more of the work for me, and I would do thespiritual disciplines kind of thing to show my dependence and reliance. Waiting on God.Prayer is the real work. Let go and let God. Those were the foundational mantras. Thepractical reality of things involved more of my own effort than I bargained for. Not that Ididn’t want to work hard, I did. I was plain naive. Now I’m realizing that it’s as muchhuman effort as it is divine intervention, not less human effort.3. Scorched souls are among the greatest tragedy of church life. While each churchcaters to a particular demographic, whether through a social network, or a strategictargeting of a community segment, the best intentions of well-meaning Christian leadershas scorching negative impact on some of its attenders and/or members. I’m justspeaking of upstanding Christians, not those who choose to opt-out of the faith toexplore other options (whether it’s towards a sinful lifestyle or an alternative religion). Istill know a handful of people who have yet to recover from the scorching effect ofburnout, legalism, power trips, church conflicts, poor counsel, et al. Intentions don’tmatter as much as the impact on the recipient. Quality congregational and pastoral careis so hard to find.March 06 2005: getting historicalI’m not one to think much of the past and reminisce about the “good ol’ days,” or aboutthe future for that matter. Very much into the now, the present. Having said that, this isone of those rare occasions where I’ll recall the past.... I can tell about how I got into computers.Winchester was a very small town of 20,000, so we had to entertain ourselves in thistown we affectionately called “Funchester.” I had next to no exposure to sports or extra-curricular activities. I wound up spending tons of time after school in the computer lab,where we had all of 3 Tandy TRS-80 computers. My hacker buddy Floyd and I playedScott Adams text adventure games and created our own. Then Big Five pixelated videogames came along. Computers were something to do, and allowed some latentcreativity in me to find an outlet.One afternoon, I found one of the TRS-80 Model I’s to be malfunctioning. The teachermonitoring the lab was not very tech-savvy, and I took it upon myself to work on the
  • 31. computer and even fixed it. I elatedly told the compsci teacher the next day, and he wasnot pleased. He gave me a lecture, put me into detention (I think), and I’m tearing upbadly the whole time (I’m a softie.) This wasn’t the incident that threw down the gaunlet.One day after school, I stayed extra late at the computer lab. I was engrossed, as wasthe monitoring teacher. I got home at 7:00pm or so that night. And my parents wereworried sick, and rightly so. I got a lecture and discipline there too, with many tears. Andthen I got my own TRS-80 Model 1, so I would be working on the computer at homefrom then on. No more hangin’ out at the school computer lab.March 20 2005: energizing vulnerabilityA while back, I was able to recover a blog entry (through a back channel) that oneblogger had to remove because he got too much negative feedback. It was the first timehe’s ever had to pull an entry on his blog. Part of me resonated with his post, realizingthat perhaps my desire is for not just honesty or authenticity, but something deepercalled vulnerability.I’ve been described anywheres from a touchy-feely warm-fuzzy person to a hard-to-read poker-faced person. My own self-perception is the former and not the latter, andyet realize how difficult it is for people who want a simple 5-line bio to describesomeone. As an exercise, I drew up a little chart titled the “faces of djchuang”, rangingfrom the “networker djchuang,”, “work djchuang,” to the “cordial djchuang.” The“networker” shows up at conferences and occasional events where the topic ofconversation touches on areas of my interest. I’m energized by meeting new people,intense dialogue, trading business cards, and doing power lunches. “Work djchuang”can be task-oriented, and fast to get things done. “Cordial djchuang” can be nice, butnot known for being smiley-faced nor good at light small talk. People generally like to bearound the “networker,” but only certain settings can bring him out. It can’t bemanufactured. He doesn’t show up at family gatherings.To borrow the language of belonging from Joseph Myers’ book, The Search to Belong:Rethinking Intimacy, Community, and Small Groups, I crave being in the personal andintimate space, where I can talk about emotions, mental health (without having to usean alias to talk about the stigma of mental health and depression)... I can live there fordays and weeks on end.But most of real life is more about public and social space. Conferences are socialevents alright, but only occasional and too infrequent, not a part of my everyday life.And, no, I don’t want to live on the conference circuit.On my “faces of djchuang” chart, I left off the “real djchuang,” who is not reallymotivated to do something that’s fulfills a dream or feeds a passion or makes him feelalive. Though he works hard at what he does all around. He just wants more personallyintimate space and time, and when that is so elusive, nothing else really seems tomatter.
  • 32. April 04 2005: less opinion, more info, first vlogMaybe it’s my age, getting older, mixed with travels during the past 8 days to 3localities, and how that’s triggered more self-consciousness, the debilitating kind. Hardfor me to interpret feelings when I’m tired, and the things that have energized me in thepast by being around great people, didn’t seem to get me buzzed this time around. I’vebeen around great people this week, and I’m very grateful for them and the experiencesof the past week. But something just doesn’t feel right.One thought that dawned on me is that I’m good for short-term power lunch kind ofconversations, but after half an hour or so, I sorta run out of things to drive aconversation. I have a lot of trivial information at my fingertips, but not many opinions tospout and pontificate. I felt insecure about that this week, several times. It’s not a badthing, per se, but I was more aware of it. I don’t like that feeling. And here on my blog,because of the profile of my professional positions, I’ve hesitated in being more raw withmy feelings and thoughts.April 10 2005: my lifeline2 things have triggered a recent sober reflection upon my life, maybe 3: (1) I’ll be turning40 next summer, (2) grandfather-in-law entering glory at age 97, (3) message at churchabout investing time, using the power of time. As much as I like non-linear dialogue,mystery, randomness, and a fast pace of change, I’ve found that time is linear, and Ionly have one life to live. I believe that’s true for you too.Using Excel, I put together something I called “My Timeline”... I’m not a planner, so youcan see that I did not have any milestones set for myself prior to 2005. I did put some afew tentative dates into the future, that perhaps I’ll get to write some books. I’d imaginesome overambitious Type-A driven kind of person would have many more milestoneson their lifeline.April 22 2005: insomnia and intermittent internetI’m tired. I’m up in the wee hours of the night. I tried laying still. I returned to my normalbedtime routine, and turned in by 10. Felt like it was tossing and turning for hours. 2amcame around, got up and surfed the web for a spell. Caught up on a few of my bloglinessubscriptions, barely a dent in my 600+ subscription. Hopeless trying to keep up with allof that, me thinks to meself.Then by 3am, the wifi signal was going in and out. I moved over to get wired up on myethernet. Internet connectivity is still unreliable, works for 5 minutes or so, then drops.
  • 33. Apparently my DSL (Verizon) or my router (Westell) is intermittent. At least I know it’snot just my WiFI card.Frustrating. That does not help lull me to sleep.May 11 2005: make it happen, getting things done, bias for actionOver a decade ago, I spent 4.5 years studying at seminary. I was diligent with mystudies, and sincerely wanted to be spiritual pure in every thought and action. I did notwant to get one step ahead of God, and clung to that verse: be still and know that I amGod. Emphasis on the “be still”, contemplative, mystical, pray about every little thing,waiting on God. Let go and let God. All God and none of me.Then crisis hit, as if the bottom fell out. I held so much of myself back from thinking orplanning or acting, that I short circuited my emotional well being, or something like that.I got some help with talk therapy and medication, to get my head cleared, to get in touchwith my heart’s desires, to take better care of myself.Not that the spiritual devotion was all bad, but blindingly incomplete. I’m realizing thatnothing happens in the spiritual realm, if I’m not active in the physical realm. All prayerand no action could change a few things, but all prayer and strategic action couldchange a lot more things.2 of my fears: having my actions and tasks overtake my spiritual priority; and having myactions and tasks run over people and relationships. I’ve mostly let these go. Thefrustration of inaction now gets to me.So during the past year or two, I find myself gravitating towards business books andmagazines and blogs, to supplement my background in technology and theology. I stilllove ideas, but find few people interested in plain conversations about ideas. A littleknowledge is dangerous. Code words that clue me in on people who have this bias foraction: “get it done”, “make it happen”, “let’s do it”, “consider it done.”... My ideal heaven is still to sit around Starbucks, sipping coffee or iced ventisweetened tea, and shoot the breeze, talk up a storm, but in the mean time, gimme apiece of the action.June 16 2005: I bruise easilyThe physical is a metaphor for my emotional being too, in this case. I got this shinerwalking into a coat hook in the bathroom stall. I bruise easily, physically andemotionally.While my talents seem to be more in the technical arena and in ideas, I also do have alot of feelings. I’ve even been described as a warm and fuzzy type. Not a lot of strong
  • 34. feelings, where it turns into convictions or stubbornness, per se, but I have for yearsbeen oversensitive to comments and reactions, or perceive reactions. Even positivecomments intended to encourage is heard with skepticism – oh, they must be sayingthat to make me feel good, but they must have noticed how nervous I was or be secretlyquestioning what I said or did, or didn’t say or do. I don’t doubt their motives, but I dodoubt myself. That second-guessing of myself and others has been destructive.As part of my personal growth and maturing, I’ve slowly learned to let go of myoversensitive feelings, and to factor in some soberness in processing those feelings ofexclusion, performance anxiety, and fearful hesitation. I still feel. But I don’t have to hitrewind on the tapes that used to haunt me. I still bruise easily physically.June 23 2005: In Memory of Bob “Buggs” BugnonI just received this email from Ann Bugnon: Bob has passed on into Heaven to be with His Lord at 8:15 on June 23, 2005. He is going to be missed so much by his many friends and family. I don’t know when the Memorial will be yet but, will let you know as soon as I can. He died peacefully in his sleep.Ann was Bob’s loving wife. Buggs was his nickname that he got from his Navy days.Buggs was my first mentor and spiritual “father”. I first heard of his wish to be with theLord about 2 weeks ago. He’s had an ailing body for a number of years, and mostrecently, Merkel Cell cancer took over his body, to the degree that he could no longerdigest. And he did not want any more chemotherapy or radiation, and definitely notfeeding tubes. By the time I knew, he wasn’t able to take phone calls, and I was not ableto say thanks or goodbye to him. I did tell Ann, and I’m sure she conveyed my gratitudeand he could have heard subconsciously.I had already written about his and his family’s hospitality to me during my first fewyears out of college. We wound up spending a lot of time together, probably more timeat his home than my place. It wasn’t so much that we had all that much in common, buthe demonstrated to me kindness, grace, and love. I don’t know what he saw in me.We’d often sit in his study and talk about life. I’d sometimes wind up talking about myself-loathing, and he’d watch patiently, wishing that I’d stop feeling bad about myself, asif I were sitting in the corner, hitting myself with a ball peen hammer in the head.Buggs showed me a sincere and genuine desire to follow God, and he was transparentand vulnerable with me. He shared his struggles and feelings. He did a few thingsfaithfully. He invited me to do the CBMC (Christian Businessmen’s Committee)’s FirstSteps and Operation Timothy discipleship programs with him. At first I declined. Then afew weeks later, I said I’m ready. And we both knew what I meant.
  • 35. A few years later, I had a better spiritual foundation and a desire to do something with it.His prayers for over a year and other things led me to seminary studies. During my firstyear there, he came to Dallas Seminary to visit me. And then he came to Dallas again in1995 to see me graduate, and to attend my wedding. (He did not like Dallas.)He told a few stories time and again. And each re-telling would be grow with a few moreembellishments: the story about the bus driver and the kid with a speech impediment,and the story of telling a joke at the golf country club.Buggs enjoyed people. We’d do our mingling & networking thing together, meeting newpeople at conferences or events. Nothing wrong with being friendly, he’d say. ...Buggs: I’m glad your suffering is over, and your body is healed and well. I’m sorry wenever got our whole family down to Florida for a visit. I know how much you and Annloved Jeremiah’s laugh when he was a 2-year old. He still has a great laugh and is veryplayful. Thank you for pouring your life into mine.July 14 2005: all in all an abundant lifeI’ve overtired, returning late last night from a couple of days in New York City forbusiness. ...Listened to a recent Chip Anderson talk at Mosaic, in which he shared high times andhard times in his life. I’d first heard Chip talk about his aliveness theory, as afoundational issue in motivation for student retention in college, but very much true formotivation in all aspects of life. (cf. some great articles he wrote about the theology ofstrengths) And here he is, telling his story, having lived through terrible abuses, badrelationships, and most recently, cancer diagnosis with a prediction of maybe a monthto live. Yet he’s still walking humbly with God, and having a great time being alive.Those heart-wrenching stories give me perspective on my life, which occasionally getsclouded, as if my feelings were shouting loudly and distorting my perception of reality.(Now there is some validity to my feelings and emotions, but not as much as its intensitywould justify.) I really have it good, counting my many blessings: family, friends, health,home, work, soberness, intellect, growing numbers of website visitors, more materialgoods than what I know to do with. If only my feelings could catch up more quickly.
  • 36. 2006June 21 2006: comedian wannabeMy childhood dream was to be a standup comedian! [applause, deep bow, "Thank youvery much!"] That’s my one joke standup routine. This has turned out to be more wishfulthinking than a passionate motivated pursuit. I’ve watched my share of standup comicsdoing their thing, especially during my high school and college years. My favorites arethe likes of Robin Williams, Chris Rock, and Jerry Seinfeld. Even Bill Cosby. Tim Allennot so much.During my recent air travel on direcTV-equipped jetBlue, I got to see biographicalsketches of Chris Rock (on Headliners and Legends[!?]) and Tim Allen (on Inside theActor’s Studio), and Bill Cosby in action. I’d seen Robin and Seinfeld live and in person,plus watched Seinfeld’s Comedian and his TV show too. Both their comedy routinesand life stories mesmerize me.But could I tell you even one of their jokes? Nope! While regular visitors here can seethat I take in tons of data along the lines of demographic tidbits and internet innovation,I’m not known for delivering compelling keynotes and impromptu speeches.Here’s what I love about stand up comedians (and wish I could do it more naturally andeasily):quick wit and keen observations:: I can do observation to some degree, but thesestandups can see hilarious moments of humor amidst every day stuff, and draw fromtheir vast life experiences while thinking on their feet, some more than others. Granted,a standup comedy routine is well-practiced, honed, and retold many times to perfection,but these guys can also go for quite a while with no prepared materials, especiallyRobin Williams. I’d seen him do it time and again, even at the Google CES keynote. Myliability: I don’t like to practice (telling the same thing over and over without losingenthusiasm, like it was the first time), I have a slow wit and dry sense of humor I’m told,and I can’t remember storytelling details. Or, as my old friend used to tell a story aboutjoke-telling at a country club, some people just can’t tell jokes! It’s delivery, and it’stiming.confidence & no fear:: When doing standup in a room of adversaries challenging you tomake them laugh, that’s plain intimidating. This isn’t to say that they don’t have fearsand anxieties, but they hide it well enough and have enough bravado to get past it, as toappear and feel bold and confident to deliver the goods. Or, simply, they don’t takethemselves so seriously. And then, for jokes that bomb, s/he’s gotta have nerves ofsteel to be resilient and bounce back. I trip myself up, feeling embarrassed andoversensitive about every reaction, feeling, and comment; more like Barney Fife (hmm,maybe I should just let my nervousness show more?). I don’t think anyone can beconfident by pretending to be some character without being themselves and drawingfrom their life experiences. Recently I’ve read that these anxious feelings may never goaway, so rely on tried-and-true techniques.
  • 37. audience response:: This isn’t so much about the comedian, but the reaction they canget from the audience. Not so much the applause, I like it when people respond to whatI have to offer, but find that what I have is more of niche market thing that onlyconoisseurs appreciate and not the masses. I think I can come to terms with this oneeasier than the others.I’d like to get to the place where I can just let myself go, speak (and write) an uninhibitedvoice, ranting and raving with my opinions and observations, and cut the self-editingand moderation. Not that’d I’d do a standup routine, but that I’d be more free and bold.One day, I’ll just have to take the plunge and go to comedy school and give it a shot!You can laugh at me or with me, long as you laughOctober 22 2006: why I stopped pastoringEven though I was blogging when I stopped pastoring, I had not gone on record toexplore and unpack why I quit that high calling. The year I stopped was a dark year, alot of my life didn’t make sense during that transition. I’m asked that question oftenenough, so now that I’ve been a regular citizen as long as I’ve been clergy, I’m startingto gain perspective on what all of that was about.Oh, I wish I could be a pastor! I spent a decade of my life trying, dedicating myself toserious studies at a seminary, praying and doing spiritual disciplines, even working as apastor for over 5 years. I believed I was called to go to seminary– a Bible verse urgedme on: for the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. I started by faith, and Icontinued by faith, but blind faith could only last so long.I knew going in that it’d be hard work. I knew it’d be a sacrifice. I believe I did somegood during my pastoring years, and I had good feedback from people I pastored, andhow they appreciated my ministry. I still do get some good comments from people whenI accept an occasional speaking/preaching invite.But I didn’t feel it any more. I don’t feel it. That’s not a good place to be if I’m doingsomething that directly impacts people like pastoring. I’m discovering that pastoralministry is a lot more about passion and enthusiasm, not so much the delivery ofcontent through preaching or teaching.I didn’t have the faith to be a pastor who’d have be the preacher and teacher who had tohave the answer or who had to be the role model. The work of the faith worker has to bea fairly good grasp on conviction, inspiration, motivation, passion, and discipline. I didn’tsay a perfect grasp, but more often than not, perseverance of the faith worker is calledfor. I don’t have much of that. This isn’t to say that I didn’t minister the Word out of goodfaith, it just wasn’t enough to last me for the long haul. I still do believe, just not enoughto believe that I should be the vocational pastor.
  • 38. Ministry is supposed to be all about people. That part attracted me, because I likepeople, all kinds of people. But that doesn’t mean pastoring was the best thing for me todo for them. 3 things that surprised me: some ministers love tasks more than people,most people don’t have theological inquiries, and most people change very slowly.All those years of theological training sits in dusty boxes because most people don’t askthe questions that got answered in seminary. People ask practical everyday questionsabout life, for which theological answers undergird a wisdom, perspective, anddiscernment, but the pastoral role of translating abstract metaphysical ideas intopragmatic realities was not something I had a knack for. Some people call it commonsense; and, where in the world do you learn that?To this day I still don’t have a strong sense of what my spiritual gifts are. I do have awide set of skills, but underneath it all, I use my skills to help others. I don’t have certainthings that I just love to do, be it teaching, preaching, counseling, or administrating. I’mspiritually motivated mostly to be a helper, a companion. Other roles and responsibilitiesput me out on a limb, where I risk losing my grip.In hindsight, I’m realizing that having a good job fit is important for me to honor andaccept the way God has made me. I’ve wrestled for years with trying to get what I wish Icould do (desires) and what I’m actually good at doing (gifting) and what I love to do(affinities) to align. I realize now that I need to be doing work that changes quickly andregularly, or I get lulled into a routine boredom. My best 3 action verbs for what I do:researching, networking, and writing.Some people are blessed (or cursed) with knowing what they’ve wanted to do with theirlife since they were 12 years old. I’m not one of them.So my journey of figuring out what to do with my life and for my work is one step at atime. I’m not bitter for having pastored. I didn’t burn out. I didn’t revolt with a moralfailure. I don’t have any regrets. And, life goes on.Would I ever pastor again? Not likely. The probability is very low, for it’d have to be achurch that’s constantly changing and innovating. And, unfortunately, I don’t have thegift mix, drive, or faith to be launching a new church plant (that’d fit me), even thoughBob Hyatt thinks (almost) anyone could plant a church.What’s exciting about the next season of my life is that I’ll be doing something I enjoy,something I’m good at, something that makes Kingdom impact. Sovereignly somehow,all of my career wanderings are beginning to have a semblence of convergence. Finally,at age 40, it’s about time.
  • 39. 2007: A Year of DiscoveryJanuary 25 2007: growing in self-awarenessHad a good week in Dallas. We embarked on our maiden voyage as a facilitation teamand helped a group of churches explore new possibilities for doing recovery ministry.People who have worked a recovery program are very attractive to me because theyseemed to be way more relational, more transparent, and more in touch with theirbrokenness and humanity. These few days gave me a glimpse into this subculture, anda part of me wished I had a debilitating addiction so I can work recovery too. Mostpeople do have addictions — just that many are socially acceptable, and many are notdebilitating. As one participant rightly commented, the non-recovery people, “earthpeople” he called them, live in a culture that is not transparent. Bummer. Thisexperience tapped into my awareness and insatiable need for transparent relationships.This to me is (a part of) being real + authentic.Hung out with Ray Chang at DFW airport as we waited for our respective departingflights. I worked along side of Ray as executive pastor in the early years of AmbassadorBible Church from 1997 to 2000. Next month, that church will celebrate its 10thanniversary. We veered onto the topic of self-awareness. Personality tests have neverbeen all that helpful to me for self-awareness, except for StrengthsFinder.Life coaching was very helpful to me to discover more of my self-awareness. I took a 2-day personal retreat with a life coach (Craig Chong) in the summer of 2005. This lifeplanning process reviewed my past life story as an indicator to what God had createdme to do for the future. Self-awareness wasn’t just to give me enlightenment. It gave memuch needed insight to pull together my skills and talents, my interests and passions,so I could do something I was good at AND enjoyed doing. As I approached the age 40,I was tired of working just to provide for myself and my family. I needed to makeprovisions by doing something I not only value but can enjoy. Now I’m working at mydream job.February 02 2007: discovering passionSome people naturally exude and overflow with passion. Other people, like me, have towork hard at discovering that passion, that life force, that thing you love doing over andover again without getting weary or monotonous.Had a great lunch conversation with the poetic Natala Constantine the other day,lamenting over the misunderstandings of the blogging lifestyle. I sorta broke the news toher that we bloggers are in the minority and marginalized. Even though there are morethan 12 million bloggers in America and Technorati tracks over 66.6 million blogs, only7% of adults read blogs at least once a week.
  • 40. We also wondered about how to find someone else’s passion, as a means ofconnecting her ecumenical church community to its surrounding community throughserving. Yes, you can use Rick Warren’s SHAPE acrostic for this: Spiritual gifts, Heart,Abilities, Personality, and Experience. SHAPE is a very helpful framework for ministry,finding a place to serve voluntarily in a church kind of context. SHAPE could be adaptedfor choosing careers too, I think, though there are more than 1,000 tests for careerassessment. But as we discussed this further, I thought of 2 ways to discover passionmore quickly: Listen to their story. Passion is often born out of pain or joy. What does that person naturally do on their own?Underneath it all, it’s about what motivates someone to do something and to takeaction, and that doing good things passionately can make a difference in the world. Wealso veered into a discussion about the difficulty of rallying people around something inan interfaith or ecumenical perspective, and while altruism is noble, it doesn’t really getlots of people galvanized together for a cause. It’s so much easier when things areblack and white, over-simplified and goal-oriented, to align people in a community ororganization to do something big and focused. Assuming that the long tail effect couldwork in mobilizing volunteer efforts (as much as it does in the marketplace), maybedoing little good-work efforts will do as much good as one big visionary cause.///On April 16th, 2007, a Korean-American went on a shooting spree, killing 32 peopleand himself, at Virginia Tech, where I went to college. This was disturbing to me notonly because of the horrific crime, and not only because it happened at the very place Iwas for four years. This was also terrible because it illustrated the difficulty of workingwith mental illness among Asian Americans and their marginalization in society. Mynext blog post is a response about our lack of voice and its consequences.///April 23 2007: Where is our Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson?African Americans have their Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. While these few do notrepresent the whole, they boldly speak up for the whole. And, the mainstream mediagoes to them for their perspectives.Caucasian Americans have their Billy Graham and Rick Warren. There’s also JerryFalwell and Pat Robertson. Again, they don’t represent the whole diversity of AngloChristians, they boldly speak up for the whole.
  • 41. Latino and Hispanic Americans kind of have Jesse Miranda and Luis Palau as theirvoices. I don’t know exactly who speaks for their tribe, but I think they’d boldly speak upfor the whole.Even the Hebrews had their Moses and Joshua.Asian Americans have no one who boldly speaks up for the whole. We need a voice.What would it take to have that voice?Passion. A clarion voice that boldly speaks up with confidence and persuasion. Youcan’t fake passion. You have to have that fire in the belly, no fear to speak up even ifyou’re misunderstood, even if you don’t have the perfectly-crafted words. Publicspeaking is 93% about delivery and only 7% about the words.Platform. A clarion voice has a large audience that listens to what s/he has to say forboth intangible and tangible reasons. Some call it charisma. Definitely need cross-overappeal in both the religious and civic realms, as well as inside the tribe and outside.Need to have an organization with financial supporters that keep that platform activetoo.Conviction. A clarion voice has to have something to say. That person has to have asufficient understanding of the tribe’s compelling concerns. And that person is takingaction to address those concerns and boldly advocating others to join the cause. Thatperson lives out that conviction with an unwavering lifetime commitment through bothactions and words.Like it or not, we as Asian Americans will be stereotyped because we have that face.But without a voice, there is no way to change that stereotype of silence. Without avoice, we’ll be invisible and misunderstood.I know there are many differences among Asian Americans: ethnicities, languages,cultures, generations, affinities. “Asian American” is not an attractive label or strong rallycry. Asians are known for being group-oriented, but Asians aren’t known for rallyingaround a voice. Without a voice boldly speaking up for the whole, we’ll remain apart.Could I be that voice? You’ve got to be kidding! I know a lot of things I don’t have in andof myself. It takes a driven and focused Type-A personality to be that clarion voice.What I do have is my personal blog. I’ve occasionally advocated for the next generationAsian Americans. But like others who are in this space, I didn’t want to be pigeon-holedor stereotyped. I prefer being eclectic and speak of my many varied interests.But last week has changed me. I will use my words to advocate for the next generationAsian Americans. 7% still counts.
  • 42. September 24 2007: deconstructing depressionI have a dark companion called depression that visits from time to time and won’t saygood riddance and go away. Sometimes it stays too long, once for well over a year.Sometimes it stays for a brief visit. I hope this time it’s brief. When depression visits me,it comes with its entourage of dark clouds, negative thoughts and lies, heavy emotionsand fears. For me, the triggers are usually stress-related. There are people who can eatstress for a snack and rise to the occasion. I’m not one of them.Having a good friends and families network doesn’t keep it away. Neither does a degreein theology, nor spiritual disciplines of confession and repentance. There’s undoubtedlysomething wrong with me, just like Romans 7 describes, and it humbles me, it showsme how broken I am, and it evokes in me greater empathy for other people’s strugglesand battles.When depression stops by for a visit, it sure gets my attention. It clouds my thinking andit feels like drowning just to stay alert. It takes enormous effort to do 1 or 2 tasks a day.When the forecast is overcast, just showing up is winning half the battle.Experts have said that depression is “anger turned inward.” I’m not an angry person. Idon’t express my rage explosively against people around me. This made no sense tome until recently. Depression is my version of taking my anger out on myself. I can getangry at the world for being imperfect. I can get angry at myself for not being what Iwish I could be. I can get angry at unmet expectations, unrealistic goals, and untimelyinterruptions. I get angry over not being more driven, more accomplished, more clear-headed on tasks, more focused. Call it an idol or a natural disposition of my heart, but Ican’t easily get rid of it by mere confession. Unlike others, I don’t run from depressionby going to addictions or accomplishments.When depression visits, it usually brings a big life lesson with it. Lessons like: takebetter care of yourself. Humbly ask for help. I can’t do it alone. Life is good, it’s not soserious. Enjoy a good night’s sleep. Write it down and stop thinking so hard. God lovesyou just the way you are, not as you should be. Do what you’re good at and what youenjoy, nothing more, nothing less. I just wish those lessons could come without havingto go through those dark tunnels.Thanks be to God that this world is not all there is, and He’ll make good on my yearningfor a better world. And God will give me the grace and strength to be a part of that betterworld.[Caveat: depression is a complicated manner, so my story is not gospel. Please seekappropriate help if needed.]
  • 43. Quieter on the Western Front in 2008My personal blogging ramped down after our family move to OC from DC in thesummer of 2007. More of my personal reflections were now being recorded privately inmy own personal journal and not posted on my blog. I plan to share some of thosejournal entries in the next edition.December 26 2008: changing family traditionsIt’s a holiday season. That means lots of time for movies. On one channel, they had awhole hour of trailers from movies about Christmas. I think I read once that moremovies made about this holiday than any other.This week has afforded me more time with family, and to think about family. I don’t blogabout my family, as all of them have privacy concerns, or I think they assumingly do.Family is family, and many do feel enough of a connection to made an annualpilgrimage home to visit, even though few families describe themselves as close. Whenthe family gathers, there may be fond memories of rituals that are cherished as familytraditions.There are other family traditions too. The habits and patterns each of us revert to. Somelove to play together; some cook and eat; some talk feelings and relate that way; sometell stories; some share their joys and fears; some listen to each other; some createdrama; some debate for fun, some for fight; some graciously help each other grow andmature; some stay cordial and polite; some go shopping; some vacation together witheach person doing their own thing.I’m probably not alone in saying that I behave differently being around family than I amhanging out with a friend. (sometimes) I wish I could be as free being with family as Icould be with friends. (A few people might have the reverse, feeling more free at homewith family than with others.)Somehow I’ve psyched myself out, thinking that if I behave the same with my family inthe way I would with a good friend, my family might be offended, or not accept me andget rejected, or not get my sense of humor, or get uncomfortable, or. whatever… andit’s not like I run with a questionable crowd.Let’s see what happens if I change my words and behaviors. Got a couple of days onthis round. Let’s see what happens. I may report back, especially if I can get any ofthem to blog or twitter
  • 44. 2009February 03 2009: emotional maturity and depressionRhett Smith is putting together a great series of blog posts about depression. Not justdepression in general, but taking a closer look at depression, burnout, and ministry. ...[note: this is my personal opinion] What does depression have to do with emotionalmaturity? It’s about being emotionally honest. We all have struggles and difficulties inlife — I don’t recall ever hearing someone exclaim, “Oh, life is so easy, it’s a cake walk!”Each one of us need a safe place to talk about the issues and burdens of life.Depression is one of those issues. Unfortunately, many (most?) cultures and contextsstigmatize these kinds of emotional and/or psychological issues, so that it is difficult togo for help and healing. As if the emotional issue wasn’t tough enough to managealready.[continuing with my humble opinion] What is unfair (not that life is supposed to be fair) isthat people with depression are forced to deal with their issues and work on betterhealthy self-care, while a person with anger doesn’t necessarily have it. Depressionforces a person to “say uncle” and debilitates to ask for help. Without help, the personcannot productively function (to varying degrees.) As Rhett rightly notes, “[this is not] asubstitute for professional help or advice. Please consider seeking out professional helpif you consider yourself to be at risk for depression.”2010July 05 2010: where can dark thoughts go?One topic is often unspoken, as if taboo, particularly in the world of leaders andinfluencers. Yet, I think it’s fair to say that it’s a part of our common human condition tohave negative thoughts along with positive ones. It doesn’t seem quite right whensomeone is able to be optimistic and positive 100% of the time. Can you relate?And it’s normal to have occasional thoughts and feelings in the realm of sadness, anger,frustration, doubt, anxiety, worry, struggle, loss, fear, shame, guilt, weakness, frailty,what have you. I’ll admit that it’s part of my life experience. While there are many self-help strategies and tactics, or positive-thinking motivational speeches and/or sermons,to battle the dark thoughts, those techniques may rely too much on our own efforts andstrength. I’m not that strong to get through life on my own. It’s okay to ask for help andget help. As I reflect on this, I thought of 4 things you can do when dark thoughts come:
  • 45. 1. Replace. One very common tactic is to replace the negative thought with a positivethought. Gratitude is particularly powerful. Hope and remembrance can be powerfulreplacers too.2. Release. Dark thoughts need a place to go. Some of them don’t just go away by self-effort or re-focusing. I’ve found it incredibly valuable to be with someone safe to processout loud the pain and confusion. It’s not quite safe to release dark thoughts into theopen internet for all to see, which I liken to injecting poison or spreading a virus ontoothers. Not helpful. Sometimes talk therapy with a professional counselor provides thatrelease so good for our soul.3. Rx. And for some, mental and emotional health can be facilitated through prescriptionmedication, just as vitamins and/or drugs can bring health for other conditions that affectour imperfections.4. Renew. And not to preclude the supernatural, a miraculous healing can transform aperson like nothing else. While not every single person who wants healing gets healing,some do.So as I reflected and simmered this topic on the back burner, something came acrossmy radar.This new MTV show caught my attention as being particularly poignant andpowerful — called “If you really knew me.” The premise of the documentary-style dramaseries is that each episode will follow 5 students during a one-day program, “ChallengeDay.” These 5 students will get honest with each other– get past the labels and cliques,and share with each other the illuminating yet sometimes difficult truths about their lives.A press release describes “Challenge Day’s vision is that every child lives in a worldwhere they feel safe, loved and celebrated.”Wow! Could you imagine a place like that? Where a person, young and old, can feelsafe, loved, and celebrated? What would happen if a church could be a safe and honestplace like that?How do you get help when dark thoughts make an unwelcomed visit? What else wouldyou add about this?2011May 24 2011: Remembering Bob Chih-Pao ChuangThis past week has been a hard time for my family (of origin) with the passing of myDad. We’re grateful for the kindness of prayer, comfort, and condolences alreadyexpressed and received during the past week. This time has been sad and hard, yethealing and bonding, even transformative for me. And I personally thank you, my onlinefriends and acquaintances, for being a part of my life over the past 12 years.
  • 46. Tomorrow evening, Wed 5/25, 8:00pm Eastern, my brother Deef and I are hosting anonline event to share about Dad’s life and legacy, as well as offer a glimpse intocaregiving for my Dad during the past 2.5 years. ... You can watch the recorded video.June 19 2011: Caregiving for my Chinese FatherOne aspect of family life mostly left unspoken is our mortality, especially an Asian one.Yes it could be rather morbid. It may even be superstitious to talk about it, as it was formy traditional Chinese Dad who headed up my family of origin.This Father’s Day is our first without him. I would not say we’ve emerged from our griefalready. I would say that our lives are forever changed; I would say we are doing ratherwell in this new normal.The past 2.5 years have been a particularly heavy time of caregiving for Dad, as heslowly and steadily declined in health following a stroke and diagnosed with PSP, aneurological disorder without a name like Alzheimer and Parkinson. My mother and mybrother Deef took care of him diligently and sacrificially. I debriefed that experience withmy brother Deef, and recorded the webcast before a live audience– you can watch thatvideo .Our hope is that by talking about a topic that’s rarely ever talked about in the Chinese/Asian American context as normal average people (in contrast to healthcareprofessional) that our story can be useful towards realizing you have 2 guys who areempathetic and accessible when that season of life comes around.
  • 47. PostscriptThank you for reading (or browsing through) this e-book. I’ve released this chronologicaledition for your preview because I really want to have your feedback.Obviously, an e-book with just this collection of blog posts is incomplete. There are anumber of gaps that I intend to fill in with personal reflections along with a runningcommentaries. To do that would make the narrative much more coherent and thelessons learned more explicit and less obscured.And as you read this, you may very well notice some gaps that I may overlook on myown, so that’s where your comments back to me are so important. I need to know whatpart of my stories must be elaborated and explained further to be clearer and morehelpful. You may even point out some episodes that should just be dropped.Please do contact me at www.djchuang.com with your feedback -- your comments andyour questions. Your words of reaction and encouragement is a vital part of shaping thefinal edition of this e-book.I’ll close out this edition with a little more about why I’m authoring this ebook at this pointin my life, when it’s usually more typical for someone to write their life stories after majoraccomplishments or after retirement.I am 45 years old as I write this. When my Dad passed away last year, that promptedme to consider what my life was all about. When I experienced up close the mortality ofsomeone in my own family, it triggered clarity for my life in a way that nothing else had.I have no guarantee how long I have left. I asked myself, “what was the one thing that Imust do with my life?” I must share my life, warts and all. As I do that, I hope to providea template for how others in this next generation can develop their own voices, tell theirstories, and break the power of shame.Would you contact me now? Let me know how I can write a better book. And, let meknow about your dreams and how I might help you get one step closer to it.Contact: djchuang.com/contactTwitter: @djchuangFacebook: facebook.com/djchuang

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