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What A Year, A Monologue, A Reflection

by Zhou Fang

New Episode: In this unscripted, wined, gentle, monologue, Zhou shares her reflections on China - US, psilocybin, systemic racism, intersectionality, being a business operator, loneliness and relationship, love, compassion, gratitude, and most importantly, hope, for our future.

Give it a listen. And subscribe. To follow Zhou's dog Henry Fluffy (mentioned in the monologue), go to Instagram: @henryfluffyfang

Transcript of the monologue by Zhou:

All right, here we go. We're recording. Hello everyone. This is a unique episode. This is gonna be a monologue, by me, Zhou, I'm your host. The Intersection podcast. Today is December 30th, which is the day before New Year's Eve. I thought it would be a good idea to. Do a little bit of year end, summary or reflection is a better word, I think.

Yeah, it's definitely been a year, 2023. and I was thinking about perhaps I would write something, but, I have been struggling with putting words on paper or just typing. So I thought since I've been doing the podcast, might as well use the platform and maybe record a monologue, and to record my thoughts and some of my reflections, my observations, my learning lessons as well, I think, with folks here, and I will also share a transcript so that it kind of looks like a blog post. So we'll see how that goes. Yeah. So, Being a year for sure, and started the year with the idea that, oh, here we go. Year number two in my own practice intersectional group as A EDI practitioner, equity, diversity, and inclusion. So I was pretty psyched, going to the new year and I came into the year knowing that I will be visiting my family in China after seven years.

So last time I saw them was 2016, so that was a long time ago. And with a green card, it just made travel much easier for me, between China and us specifically, and of course makes my life easier in general as well. As an immigrant, many folks may know or may, uh, have similar experience. Uh, so not gonna go into details.

But yeah, my visit to China was very, um, eye-opening in a way because the country has changed so much. My family has changed so much, or I have changed so much. Yeah, seeing the development and the growth of China and see the culture changes and see my family is doing okay. And also to see or to compare, you know, China and us, the two countries, uh, on their own path, uh, forward or sometimes backwards, you know. Uh, that was interesting. I, before I went to China, I was quite nervous. I wasn't sure what it would be like after so many years being away from home. Mm. So I actually did a psilocybin treatment, not treatment, more like a ceremony. They call it a medicine ceremony. So I actually went into psilocybin before my trip and it really, really, really was helpful.

Of course I had a really good practitioner and they gave me really thoughtful and care for guidance and care when I was going through the ceremony, and I really felt that. You know, our ancestors, people all over the world, we all have indigenous communities and they have left us so much knowledge and love and, information for us to carry basically humanity and for us to continue to grow, as individuals, as a collective. So that was really helpful for me and, I was able to learn something about myself that I wasn't aware before, which is I actually have the ability to show compassion to other people. So being able to be more compassionate definitely helped my trip to China, to see the differences and to feel connected to my roots again, my people, the food is amazing. And of course to see, uh, the differences between the US and China. Uh, that makes me feel very fortunate because I'm one of those people who are able to see things, not in a very binary way, but more like from like multidimensional and have different angles and have different perspectives.

So I, I felt really good going there and then coming back and then being able to, uh, continue my practice, uh, which, you know. It's a journey. Uh, it's year number two. And when I first entered the space of, uh, equity, diversity, and inclusion, I thought, oh, my framework, intersectionality is so unique, right? It would be easier for me to, find my footing or, find my space or, have my voice. I think in some way it was pretty like easy, but not, but not in a technical way. Like I say, easy, meaning I know what I was getting into. I know, I know my framework, intersectionality. Of course it's not mine. You know, like the framework I use or the framework I adapt, uh, from Professor Kimberly Crenshaw.

I know it's a really, really great framework and it really can guide people through our own, uh, individual, internal and outward organizational journeys of that. But what I didn't realize is, you know, everything takes time in our capitalism and kind of globalization era. We want anything. We want everything quickly. So we want this instant, you know, uh, I'm at a drive-through then I want my food to be ready in three minutes. You know, I order something online. I want it to be here in three days, sometimes two days, sometimes even sooner. So we have this mindset of efficiency. Quickly, everything comes just in no time. Of course that's not true. It's, it also reflects in my practice. I thought, you know, after a year I will be at a pretty good space or place. In some way it's true. I definitely feel, more comfortable in my own skin as a practitioner. But the reality is business is hard. Especially now when we are in such a uncertain time when our world is, everything's politicized, and, our life sometimes is polarized. Very much, uh, everything's becoming, right in your face. And people are getting very fatigued about, you know, diversity, equity, inclusion, which is not Right. Right. Which is, very unfortunate. But that's the reality. So the, the thing I, I didn't share. Is, which, you know, again, touched on capitalism and how we define success and, what success should look like as a business for a business operator.

I actually for five or six months this year, which is almost half of the year, I actually didn't have income. I didn't have, like, I, I'm working all the time, but a lot of the hours are not billable. They're not. Uh, they're not transferring to income. So for five, six months I actually didn't have income. I was eating into my savings. And I was being very, very careful about where I put my money, where do I invest, what projects I take on. Of course I was very, very, and I still am very passionate about pay transparency, so I spent a lot of money there, out of pocket. So I can continue this work. I applied for some grants, but I didn't get any of that, which is fine. I know there are so many people need grants much more than me. But because of, you know. The economy uncertainty, the fatigue on diversity, equity, and inclusion. The fact that a lot of my peers in HR and people and culture and DEI departments got laid off, many of them actually, this year, meaning companies and organizations are not spending money on DEI. Which again is very unfortunate. So during a time when I just like, oh man, like I don't have any income. And eventually of course, like I feel fine, I feel much better now after five, six months and I started to make money again. But during that time, I really started to think, Hey, like is, is it my branding? Is it like, what am I not doing right? So I started to kind of, change my messaging a little bit, and I started to focus on leadership development, which is true. Which is like in order to be a good, inclusive, equitable, thoughtful leader, you need to work on your equity and inclusion. You need to work on justice. You need to work on diversity. You need to work on accessibility and inclusivity. You need to have all that. You need to have a very good understanding of, um, at least on a high level, what's going on. And of course, the history of the United States, the history of the world, uh, colonialism, settle the settlers, and, you know, racism, patriarchy, feminism, white feminism, all these and uh, ant - Such, such, you know, anti LGBTQ, anti chance anti-Asian anti-black, anti-indigenous, all that. As a leader, we need to be aware of those in order to show up to our people in order to show up to people who trust you, people who rely on you, people who, uh, are led by you. People who, really, they, they get paid by you. But it doesn't mean you can be shitty to them. You want to be a good leader so that everyone can grow, everyone can sustain everything, and everyone can thrive in today's world. So, you know, I really thought about that. So I think leadership is actually a huge, huge component in my work. And I think, and I think I'm doing in a proper way. Right now, of course it's not perfect, but I think I'm doing it in a way that's really helpful for my clients, uh, helping them develop their leadership style, leadership skills, especially when it comes to intersectional leadership and inclusive leadership. So that's a win. I like that.

Okay. Just let me sip a sip a little bit of wine real quick. Um, so, so that's new for this year and it's a really good learning experience for me. Another thing that, of course I shared in the last episode is about unemployment. My friend and I, we were talking about the struggles I went through and they didn't. That was interesting because I really didn't want to burn bridges with the previous employer, but because the system just wouldn't acknowledge the experiences I had and I, I continue to have, uh, as an immigrant person of color and woman, and again, I think we've talked about it already, uh, in the last episode.

And please go listen to it if you haven't. Is that the system is designed this way, it's designed to work against people like myself and like many other folks who are not white or who are not men or male presenting or masculine. So there's no surprise there. But one thing that I sort of like, okay, there's no perfect solution. I did go through a lot with my previous employment. I don't wish that on anyone. It, at times it was so painful. I don't want this anymore. But then you look at immigration, this is what I need. I need an employer in order to go through immigration. So yeah, that's, that's just, it was what it was.

And I really didn't want to spend more time than I already did, uh, when I applied for unemployment. Unfortunately, it made me basically, uh, burn bridges with the previous employer, which is really unfortunate because on the one hand they did give me a lot of hard time, uh, in the US for 10 years almost. As part of the immigration process, uh, 10 years of it. On the other hand, they did sponsor my immigration. They did help me greatly to, you know, become a permanent resident in the United States regardless of the intent, regardless of how difficult, and at times shitty, I wasn't treated so. I guess what I'm trying to say is just like intersectionality, it's not entirely, you know, a line in the sand, right? Right or wrong. You are the good person. I'm the bad person, or you are the bad person. I'm the good person. It's not exactly like that. So, but unfortunately, you know, the bridge has been burned and, I hope no more damage will be done down the road. But this is how you know systemic racism works. It has many, many ripple effects. Not only they don't give you the employment benefits, but also they force you to confront whatever you don't want to confront. So it is a traumatizing experience. And I hope folks who listen to it and. And who listened to the previous episode, can maybe learn from it. And if in the future you see someone who's going through similar experience who's also an immigrant or who's also a woman or person of color, maybe you can check on them and see how they're doing. Um, 'cause there's, you know, dynamics in the capitalism world, employer and employee, you know, boss and staff beneficiary and sponsor. It's interesting, right? So there is that. I'm glad I got through that. I didn't get the money, but I did learn something. Which is good.

I guess another thing is, and some folks know this, is that, my dog did almost die this year and he's doing well now. A lot better still medication, but, you know, a hundred times better than seven months ago. So that also taught me, you know, nothing is, uh, a given. Not your life, not your livelihood, not your pet's life, not their wellbeing, not your own wellbeing. Just, you know, don't take things for granted. And, when shit does happen, know that you have help, you have resources, you have friends. In community, and family, uh, for some people as well is that we're not alone.

A lot of the, I got, oh gosh, I get asked these questions so many times this year. People will ask me, do you ever feel alone or lonely? I mean, at times, yes. But for the most part, I don't like, yes, I do a lot of things by myself, but at the same time, I spend so much time with people and, and I feel so fortunate that I have a community, a network that support me and can help me in many, many ways. And am I lonely? Sometimes? Yes. I think being a business, uh, operator, being an immigrant, uh, who's trying to make a living in the United States, as an independent practitioner. It is, yeah, it is a lonely journey. Like it can get lonely sometimes. Uh, and my family's not here, so, um, that's another layer, right? Those who you love are not necessarily around. I love my friends. I love them dearly. I love my colleagues. I love my peers. Love, I think exists in different shapes and forms. It's not just romantic. It's not just, uh, family. It's not just. Pets and humans. It's not just plants and humans. Uh, it's friends, right?

It's people who you don't even know. It's, it's the, it's the environment. It's a tree. It's one single flower. So yeah, I, I do feel love, on a regular basis. And at times I get lonely, but I. Really that's, that's not, that doesn't concern me so much. I, most of the times I don't feel lonely, if I'm being honest. I would love to be left alone sometimes, especially by my dog. So I wish my dog understood what I'm saying, but man, so yeah, let's not take life for granted. Let's not take people for granted. Let's not take the air we are breathing, the water we're drinking. In my case right now, the wine I'm drinking, you know the very good treats I've had. Oh my God, this holiday season. Wonderful treats, wonderful people. Um. Don't take those for granted either. Mm. And if we can do that, if we can carry on with a little compassion, a little gratitude, a little appreciation, I. Maybe we'll feel less lonely, just maybe. And of course it's so important to build relationships.

That's why I do this work actually, 'cause I relationship is so important. I try my best to build meaningful relationships with my clients and my partners at work. Not every relationship and connection is deep and profound and meaningful. But we do our best to make it meaningful in its own way. And I think if we can do that, you know, one step at a time, in our capacity. I think over time we'll be able to create, grow, and maintain some really beautiful relationships. And, and just like everything, you know, nothing is forever. And if your connection and relationship has to come to an end at some point. It is not the end of the world. It's, it's still a beautiful thing for what it is. Sometimes you have a friend for, I don't know, for a year, and then they move away, right? And that distance sure will change the relationship, but what you already have in that year is beautiful, and that doesn't take away the quality.

Or the meaning of the relationship. So that's another thing is sure we all want to curate and grow and have meaningful relationships, but also know when something ends, it's usually the beginning of something else. That's also beautiful. And different, so that's relationship.

What else do I want to reflect on? Um,

I'm glad I'm still healthy. It's important. Please take care of yourself, folks. Health is so important. So important. Mm. Yeah. I feel that is, yeah, that is 2023. I feel

I didn't do everything perfect, but I feel proud of what I've done. I'm proud of my community. I'm proud of the people I've worked with, I've encountered. I'm so fortunate to be surrounded by so many good people. My parents are healthy. I feel good about that. I'll see them in for Luna New Year actually in a couple months.

So that's exciting.

What else? Of course we're still in this capitalist world, so I would love to make more money. So if you, listener has a referral, someone you think, who can use my work, my service, or yourself. You know, want to work on your personal growth, leadership style, leadership development, equity and inclusion. Come talk to me.

I would also like to thank my therapists. They are saints, oh my god. Can you believe I, I feel like I talk for a living. I don't feel like the energy and care and thoughtfulness I put into my work is nearly as much as my therapists. They really take good care of me, so I want to thank them. They may not listen to my podcast and.. but that's okay. I just wanna thank them and I want to thank my neighbors. They make me feel safe and cared for. Their dogs play with my dog. Also, my dog has an Instagram, so if I'm gonna, so if you want to follow him, the healthy version, uh, go to HenryFluffyFang. I can put in the notes as well. Yeah, and I hope to see you in 2024, either in person or online, in any shapes and forms.

And I hope you well, I wish you well.

And maybe I will also say I really, really want, the wars plural to end. That's what I really want. I want the wars to end. Uh, yeah, but I think we should add these little monologue on. A positive note is even though we know 2024 is not going to be easy in regards to conflicts, the ugly sides of human species. You know, the election, the economy, politics, climate, resources, environment, child labor, modern slavery, gun violence, uh, drug abuse, homelessness list. Did I say 2 "ness" Yeah, homelessness. Even though we are going into a really, really hard year, I wanna say I still feel hopeful because, I mean, I'm not a scientist, so I, I can't say for sure, but I do think we have a chance to turn the ship of climate change around and we have a chance to make our world a little bit better, a little bit more beautiful.

Take care of our children. Even if they're not our biological children, but the younger generation, the children, the animals, the, the plants, the ocean, yeah. To take care of our homes and most importantly, take care of ourselves and when we can, when we have the capacity, take care of each other. That's my hope, and I want to remain hopeful for that for, for a more peaceful future for all of us.

On that cheerful note, my friends, this is the end of the monologue, end of 2023, and I will see you after the New Year's. Take care.


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