Family, psoriasis

How Our Couple Story Started by Sharing Health Stories

Today Lori and I are celebrating our 27th wedding anniversary. We hoped to go to Hawaii for our 25th, but then the pandemic changed our travel plans. A couple of years later we are still waiting to take that trip. Maybe it will become a 30th anniversary trip, but I hope it won’t be that long before we go.

We first me at the end of 1992 when I was looking for a co-leader for a Bible study I led off-campus with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at UC Davis. As I look back I’m struck by how we bonded around our health journeys and how we’ve become advocates for each other and others in the community.

I wrote the excerpt below for an Everyday Health blog about five years ago. Many of my older blogs (some dating back to 2007) have been removed in an effort to boost traffic to their website. It pained me to see hundreds of my columns removed, but I thankfully do have drafts or copies of most of them.

This particular blog focused on ways Lori and I support each other with our health challenges. It’s still true today–we are each other’s care partners and greatest champions as we daily live with chronic illness and disability.

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coronavirus, Family, Travel

5 Places I Want to Visit Post-Pandemic

Huntington Beach is a regular destination to visit parents and the Pacific Ocean.

The pandemic ruined all my travel plans last year. I started a four-month break from work in February 2020 with the hope of visiting a number of places. We had the savings to take the time off and book reservations. Of course, I sadly needed to cancel all those trips. Thankfully, I have travel credits and refunds to use for travel post-pandemic.

I’m not sure when we’ll actually be able say it is post-pandemic. Some parts of the world are very much in the midst of a new wave of coronavirus infections and deaths. But in two days Lori and I will be fully vaccinated. We are looking forward to rebooking those trips we missed out on last year and perhaps adding others as time and resources allow.

Here are five places I want to visit once I’m fully vaccinated or when the pandemic eases enough to travel.


Maui, Hawaii

Photo by James Wheeler on Pexels.com

Last April Lori and I planned a trip to Hawaii for our 25th wedding anniversary. Since we went to Oahu for our honeymoon in 1994, we looked forward to visiting a different island–Maui. I researched and checked prices for a package deal at the Costco Travel site. The one I eventually booked included an extra night stay at the hotel, hundreds of dollars of freebies, and a rental car.

I especially looked forward to time on the beach where I could sunbathe for my psoriasis and eczema. The ocean water is soothing for my skin too. This trip may need to wait until the fall or winter, but it is number one on our list of places to visit for our 26th anniversary in August.

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Family

Turning 25: A reflection on my journey with mental illness (Guest Blog)

PsoHoward illustration
Illustration by Lydia Chang

 As Father’s day approaches I can’t believe our oldest, Lydia, is turning 25. She shares her story from the heart here on her journey growing up with bipolar disorder.

For my perspective as a father on coming to better understand her bipolar condition see I Picked up My Daughter from the Psychiatric Hospital for the First Time on Father’s Day.


This year happens to be one of major milestones. I will be graduating with a bachelor’s degree after seven long years of undergraduate work that has been riddled with health setbacks. I will also be turning 25. It feels like a prime opportunity to reflect on my life journey and how it’s been shaped by living with bipolar disorder. While it certainly hasn’t been easy, I’ve grown in ways I likely never would have otherwise.

A developing diagnosis

When I began experiencing mood swings as a young teenager in high school, I would have never guessed their implications for the rest of my life. I was certainly moody in ways many teenagers experience, but it was when I began self harming and daydreaming about suicide that I knew something was very wrong.

I remember a fellow classmate pointing out the scabbed over cuts on my wrist and asking what happened. I quickly pulled my sleeve over the evidence of my tumultuous mind and blamed the cat. They didn’t seem convinced but didn’t push the issue further. That moment of fear, guilt, and shame at my actions was a clear sign to me that I was ill. However, it wasn’t until much later that I finally asked for help.

That moment was one of the scariest of my life. I knew once I told my parents about my cutting and suicidal thoughts that I couldn’t go back to normalcy. But at that point, normalcy was locking myself in my room anytime I wasn’t at school. It was sitting in the dark with sharp blades, crying for reasons unknown to me, trying to push out the intrusive thoughts that constantly berated me. Although I wasn’t fully conscious of it, I had reached the point where I couldn’t live that way any longer.

As I predicted, life changed drastically. I began seeing a therapist weekly and started medications. The initial diagnosis of depression didn’t seem to quite fit, but having a name for all of these unwelcome thoughts and feelings seemed to help. While this time of my life is extremely blurry, I know I struggled desperately to regain a foothold but the ground seemed to keep slipping out from under me.

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coronavirus, Family, Journal

Coronavirus Lockdown Journal Week 7: May 4-10


On May 1st Yolo County extended the shelter-in-place order that started in on March 18th:

Some of the county is opening up, with certain outdoor activities such as golf and archery now permitted. Drive-in religious services are also open as of May 4th. 

Lori and I have been posting a weekly journal updated every day or two to mark thoughts, reflections, and news related to life sheltering-at-home.

This is week 7 of the lockdown.


Saturday, May 9, 2020

The Wonder Woman I Knew–A Mother’s Day Poem (Lori)

I will start with Beauty,
You always were that to me—
Green eyes, copper hair, and long flowing dresses,
The color of your lipstick and faint smell of hairspray,
Fill my early childhood memories with good things. 

Then there was the test of Strength, 
Mom, you got really sick. 
The doctors couldn’t figure it out, 
Some even believed you made it all up;
But we found a doctor who helped us understand 
As you lived with a chronic health condition for many years. 
You kept on going, living your life and in that resilience
Found a way to help others with similar conditions. 

Ohh my dear mother, you were the Love. 
I rarely had reason to doubt it. 
You were constantly by my side, 
Through every up and down I faced.
In my teen years you showed me that 
Love must sometimes be tough, 
But always believes and hopes for the best,
In me—your only child. 

The Grace and dignity you showed,
You extended it to many others. 
No one was excluded from your circle 
Of friendship and loyalty. 
You laughed with others in times of joy,
You held the hand of a friend suffering from terminal cancer. 
You taught me how to connect with people in meaningful ways. 

I speak the Truth,
I testify,
To these things that you were and still are, 
Even though you have left this earth. 
You never wore a cape or carried a lasso, 
But you were a wonderful woman,
A Wonder Woman to me.


Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Quarantine Nail Party (Lori)

Those who keep in touch with me on social media know I enjoy giving myself manicures. Manicures (and occasionally pedicures) are fulfilling to me in two ways: self-care and to show my creative side.  I am happy to share my most recent manicure in this entry. 

Why nail polish? Isn’t it sticky, smelly, time-consuming, and troublesome? If I am being completely honest, it is all of those things. If you can pull off the perfect at-home manicure, it seems to start chipping or peeling off as soon as you get it done.

Why bother? 

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