Each family has a story to tell. A story that is worth remembering for all of its parts – the chaos, laughter, and every day minutiae of family life. A story, that despite the good, bad and ugly, is ultimately driven by love. My own story is an intricately woven tapestry filled with colorful people and experiences that have shaped me into the person I am today.
My parents came up with my name by combining their own chosen English names (Joe + Cecilia = Julia). I always wondered what kind of name I would have ended up with if my parents had different first names.
I am the very first person in my family to be born in the United States. With all of my extended family in Taiwan, I remember many trips to Lady Liberty as a child with visiting relatives.
Growing up with immigrant parents meant being resourceful whenever you could. With a sewing machine she found at a yard sale, my mom would make a lot of our clothes, like these AWESOME matching shirts made from bed sheets found on clearance.
My mother, my biggest role model, my biggest advocate. She is the most courageous person I know. She taught me the importance of perseverance in fighting for what is right, and the value of empathy despite irreconcilable differences.
My dad, the innocent goofball, the godfather of all "dad jokes". His confidence and charisma is contagious--I always admired his ability to strike up a conversation with anyone he met. Even more impressive is his honesty and sincerity he conveys in his every word and act. He taught me the importance of being honest with myself and letting that truth shine whenever possible.
Like any younger sibling, I looked up to my big sister, Wendy, for as long as I could remember. Our personalities and interests couldn't be more different; we fought--a lot. But despite our differences, she was my first best friend and I remember going out of my way to be like her.
If you were to ask me who I'd trust to write my biography, that would be my "diaper buddy" Jocelyn. She has been my best and longest friend since our nursery school days. No matter how long it's been since I've talked to her, I always feel at home whenever we reunite.
I was a painstakingly slow eater as a child. I would sit at the dinner table and chew a single piece of meat for an hour! Lucky for me, my daughters have inherited the same eating habits!
Living on opposite sides of the globe did not make for easy trips for most of my extended family. So Grandma Pat and Grandpa Al (my American grandparents) were the ones who came to my kindergarten class on that faithful Grandparents Day. They have since kept that title and continue to influence me with their wisdom everyday.
The first time I traveled alone internationally was the summer after 9/11 where I spent time teaching English in Southern Thailand. That trip changed my perspective on the world and in many ways helped me restore my faith in humanity. Since then, I caught the travel bug and made it a mission to fill my passport.
One of my favorite part of traveling is the food, especially street food. There is no better way to experience a new place than eating how the locals eat. Fellow trekker and photog friend, Erica and I enjoy a mini feast before trekking up to Annapurna Base Camp in Nepal.
On November 9, 2009, Keith proposed in front of the Beacon Theater in NYC before a Ray LaMontagne concert. My husband, the father of my children, the witness to my truth. There is no one else I'd rather have by my side journeying through this crazy life of ours.
"Mother" is my newest role. And while it is probably the most challenging of all the hats I wear, it is by far the most fulfilling and amazing role I have the honor to partake in. My girls are my world. Photo by Kirsten Lewis Bethmann
Singing is like breathing for me. I sang for my dolls, while doing homework, in school and church choirs. I sang in an a cappella group in college. We even had karaoke at our wedding. Nowadays my repertoire mostly consists of Disney songs on demand for my girls. But once in a while you might catch me belting out Black Velvet at a karaoke bar.
While I loved all the years I spent learning ballet as a child, tap is where my heart sings! There is something so satisfying about making sounds with your feet while moving to the rhythm of your own beat. I try to keep up my skills every Wednesday with the ladies at Ballet Arts. Maybe if I'm lucky, they'll let me go on the road with them!
Finding the right "mom friends" is arguably the most important part of surviving motherhood. I was lucky enough to meet Margarita through the hospital a few weeks after Viola was born. With my girls only weeks apart in age from her daughters, we've faced many of parenting milestones together. And as an empowering businesswoman herself, she was the one who inspired me to take that leap of faith and start my photography business. Here we are taking on the 20 foot cargo wall at a Reebok Spartan Race.