What is your name and where are you currently?
My name is Stephanie and I’m in Hong Kong, China!
Are you where you normally live?
I actually moved here last year, right before the protests started breaking out in June. So yes I am, but with all the protests which were really intense and then this outbreak I feel like I’m still waiting for life to feel normal here!
What are you currently reading?
I’m in the middle of a few books right now! They’re pretty hefty so I have to cycle through them and absorb bits at a time. Right now it’s:
Dolores Cannon’s The Convoluted Universe
The Yellow Emperor’s Inner Canon of Medicine (translated)
and I’m reading Peter Deadman’s “Live Well, Live Long” next.
What are you currently watching?
I just finished a k-drama about an acupuncturist from the Joseon dynasty who time travels to the modern era and meets a surgeon! Iol I loved it.
What are you currently listening to?
Right now, my friend Neal’s mix that he just made. It’s really nice quarantine music and fits the weather we’re having in Hong Kong right now too. We’ve had endless days of mist and haze here. It’s a nice soundtrack for watching the ships go by!
What have you been eating the most? Do you have a recipe to share?
I started making millet porridge a lot the past 2 months. It’s really nourishing and gives me really smooth and steady energy throughout the day. You can basically throw whatever you want in it so it’s really versatile too! I eat it once every 3 days or so and writing about it now makes me crave it again. People don’t really know about it in the West and it’s overlooked even in Asia, but I’m discovering that it’s actually more nourishing than the crops that we’ve been over-producing in our food chain.
Millet porridge for 1
1/4 cup yellow millet (also called foxtail millet)
1 cup water
2 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth
any vegetable, diced (I usually use potato and carrot + whatever’s in the fridge)
Any minced or diced meat, optional
Salt to taste
- Add water, broth, and millet to a small pot and bring to boil. Skim the foam off the top to keep the water from boiling over. Reduce heat to medium or medium-high.
- Add vegetables according to how long they will cook:
If root vegetables, add after reducing the heat.
If leafy greens, add near the end before turning off the heat.
- Optional: If I need protein or iron, I usually marinate minced beef with a dash of salt and pepper, wait 10 minutes, and then add another dash of rice cooking wine and soy sauce (or just soy sauce), mixed with minced garlic and green onions. Marinate another 10 minutes, sautée quickly, and add to the porridge at the end. You can also add it directly into the porridge to cook as well if you want to deal with fewer cookware, but I prefer to seal the flavor in beforehand.
- The porridge is done when the millet absorbs the broth and the texture is creamy. About 20-30 minutes! Taste-test and add salt as desired!
How are you moving your body/exercising?
I practice breathwork and qi gong every morning. It’s a really nice way to start the day and I always feel lighter after.
What’s one thing you keep wanting to do but just can’t get yourself to do?
I used to go to the gym a lot and do circuit training about 4x a week and I really miss it. But in quarantine I was feeling the need to slow everything down dramatically and just be still. I wish I could exercise but I don’t have the energy for that right now and I’ve been needing a lot of sleep actually. Breathwork and qi gong is a nice compromise because it moves energy and chi through my body and actually raises my body temperature while I’m doing it—so energy-wise, it’s almost like a workout but without as much strain on the muscles!
If you’re buying anything, what is it?
I didn’t bring a lot of clothes with me when I moved to Hong Kong and at the beginning of quarantine I actually had to go buy more t-shirts that I could wear at home lol. I feel like I’m probably one of the only people on the planet who would say that but I’ve never owned a lot of t-shirts because I always felt like there were so many other things I could wear that I found more interesting. Feels good to be in them nonstop right now though!
What’s one new thing you started doing big or small since this all happened? (Like a new skill/a hobby or even habit)
By coincidence I joined a 30-day ritual program right before news of the outbreak hit Hong Kong, and I had already decided that I would be using it as a way to commit to daily meditation. I meditated before but it wasn’t as regular as I wanted it to be. After I started social distancing the meditation and ritual group were really grounding for me. It kept me calm at a time when people were panicking here and I was isolated and alone because my parents were abroad at the time. I’ve been keeping up with it ever since!
What’s the thing you find most challenging about quarantine?
Right now I live with my parents, and our energies are really different. In the morning I really need gentleness and quiet because my energy is soft and builds up slowly—I’m most active and chatty in the afternoon. But my parents are the exact opposite: when they wake up they have a ton of energy. My dad turns the TV on really loud and my mom will shuffle around the house doing things, and then in the afternoon both of them need to quiet down and nap! It can be hard for me because I’m really sensitive, and in quarantine my dad has a lot of built up fire energy that he doesn’t have an outlet for. I used to live alone so this has been a really big adjustment, but at the same time I’m ok with this because I feel like it’s been a good learning experience for me! I’m also a lot longer into quarantine than most of my friends—it’s been 2 months for me—so by now we’ve all kind of learned to adjust to each other and it’s not as hard as it was in the beginning.
Has there been a silver lining to it for you?
I’m really grateful to be with my parents at a time like this! And to be honest, I’m relieved that the strange societal expectation that we have to be “out” all the time and doing things has been upended. I think our cycles of production and consumption have been too much, and now we have an opportunity to slow down and reset/rethink things, and more importantly, spend quality time with ourselves at home. A lot of people don’t do that enough, and being “out” is their way of escaping their inner life. I think making space to connect with yourself is really important so hopefully more people are doing that—the ones who have the space and luxury to!
Have you connected with old friends?
Yes!! My friends Tommy and Cate in Milan. <3 They sent me photos of their fig and apple blossom trees on their balcony!
Tell me about your evening routine!
A warm drink (either water, herbal tea, or jujube tonic) and a book. Sometimes I stimulate a few acupressure points depending on what I’m feeling in my body. If I need to relax, I’ll activate ones that will help me sleep better. If my menstrual cycle is coming up, there are points for that too. Sometimes I give myself a reflexology foot massage. Sometimes I apply a skincare mask before bed! I just check in with my body and see if there’s anything I can do to make things more comfortable!
And your morning one too!
Skincare, tea, journaling, breath work, and qi gong!
What’s one way big or small that you’ve been helping others?
I’ve been writing and speaking up more on social media because I noticed that so many of my friends were struggling to process their anxieties and fears in the beginning of the outbreak. A lot of people—actually mostly people I don’t even know!—have told me that I’ve helped them calm down a lot and that they appreciate my perspective. I’m happy if I can help shift anyone’s mood even for a brief moment. In reality I’m not doing or say anything differently than before, but I’ve just been more open than I used to be—with sharing my perspective, more moments from my day, etc. I try to create a space and container for others to feel comfortable for the few seconds a day that they connect with me.
Do you know of any good charities or causes people could donate to?
There are so many and all of them deserve attention and care! I like funds that support small businesses, especially sustainable food production; economically disadvantaged communities; and those who are disabled/immuno-compromised/chronically ill. There are a bunch but DineOneOne, Inclusiv Action, and the Crip Fund in NY come to mind.
But I also think that, when we feel that we’re in a good enough place, we might think about expanding our care outside of our immediate communities and not forget the global refugee population. They’re extremely high risk and have basically no national community to support them right now because everyone is so focused on what’s happening inside their own borders. I think they’re uniquely disadvantaged and will really need our help. We tend to think of refugees as being far away and not our direct problem, but if we’ve learned anything from this virus, it’s that it only takes one small happening across the globe to have a ripple effect that grows and grows. I don’t think we’re going to be able to get past this pandemic until everyone is safe, and that includes the refugees.
Who has been the most interesting/unexpected person you’ve spoken with since this started?
You! ;) hehe. I love surprise connections!