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I am grateful

It’s almost Thanksgiving. I have been listening to the late Matthew Perry’s book and have been struck by how much pain and loneliness he experienced despite his crazy success and seemingly perfect life. Reflecting on messages like this, I can’t help but ask myself: What am I grateful for? Life is tough and may hit us with punches. However, during holidays like this, we must be intentional about being thankful for what we do have, the experiences we possess, and the loved ones who won’t give up on us no matter what. Here is my list.

I am grateful for my mom.

2023 was a tough year. In April, I was abruptly told that my mom was diagnosed with late-stage lung cancer, with a prognosis of seven months. My younger daughter and I were staying in a small apartment in San Francisco that week, and I remember hugging each other in bed, unable to stop crying. After the initial shock, and thanks to the wonderful Duke community and my friends circle, I quickly put together a plan and went back to China to care for her. We spent the next few months in and out of the hospital, undergoing multiple rounds of chemo and radiation therapy, and most importantly, we were fortunate to find a targeted therapy that she responded really well to. In September, miraculously, I was able to bring her home to San Jose, where she’s adapting extremely well to a life with less pollution and stress, surrounded by the love of my family. Now she’s again cooking up a storm and feeding my husband and younger daughter her delicious home-cooked meals. To be honest, ever since this happened, we’ve learned to live one day at a time. I don’t know how much time she has left. I don’t know what will happen to her tomorrow, next month, next year. All I know is that every day she spends with us pain-free, healthy, and happy is a gift.

I am grateful for my husband.

During those difficult months when we were thousands of miles apart and with a 15-hour time difference, he never once complained. He understood that I needed to take care of my mom and stay strong. So, he took care of my younger daughter, carried on with life, and even remodeled our home! I was welcomed home by a brand-new kitchen and new cabinets in my bedroom! Not only that, everyone knows supporting an entrepreneur as a spouse is tough. There are ups and downs, often more downs than ups. My husband has been my biggest believer and best friend. On days when I had doubts, thought about giving up, and questioned myself, he stood by me, whispering: don’t give up, never give up. For this, regardless of whether my startup is successful or not, I will forever be grateful for his support.

I am grateful for my two wonderful, beautiful daughters.

Even though, as part of their growth from childhood to adulthood, they have had their own share of stress and challenges, they are, after all, the most wonderful gift I could have asked for. Their beauty never fails to amaze me. Their personalities, different from each other, are shaping up to be the kind of independent, brave, and strong women I have always wanted them to become. Seeing them interact with their grandmother always melts my heart. I am grateful that they are ambitious, curious, and want to take over the world. I don’t wish them smooth sailing forward, but only hope they enjoy the journey along the way.

I am extremely grateful for my co-founder.

We have been building this startup for three years. We have pitched over 200 times, failed most of them, raised money, built an excellent product, and sold it, yet we still face a multitude of challenges ahead of us. We have hired and fired people, quit our well-paid jobs, and have been surviving on a startup salary. She has had her first child and worked almost the whole way through. We may have had our fair share of disagreements or debates, but she has always been there with me, faithfully trusting my leadership in the most difficult times, and cheering me on in the face of adversity. I am so fortunate to have her and would not exchange her for anything in the startup world.

Last but not least, I am tremendously grateful for my team.

They are young, brave, and so intelligent. Despite the very modest compensation we are able to afford at this point, they pour their heart and soul into the company's vision and product. They volunteer to do things. They think of new ideas. They go out of their way to ensure everything is done to perfection. They don’t take no for an answer and keep on trying. Without them, my co-founder and I wouldn’t have gotten to where we are today. For this, I feel so fortunate to be leading such a talented team.

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