Belonging On the Sidewalk

Valentine’s Day is in two weeks. Just in time for celebrating love, here’s a chapter from my upcoming book, Perfect Enough coming out in September. 

Belonging on the Sidewalk

That’s a photo from our wedding day in 2004. At the time, Andrew and I lived in a condo in the Western Addition neighborhood of San Francisco. We enjoyed eating out and taking long urban hikes to explore our neighborhood. One Saturday afternoon we strolled up Fillmore Street to grab a chocolate croissant from the boulangerie on Pine Street. We walked hand in hand. When oncoming pedestrians approached, I stepped aside to give way. After several blocks, Andrew noticed this and said, “You know you belong on the sidewalk as much as anyone. You don’t have to give way all the time.”

When Andrew pointed out that I belonged on the sidewalk too, that was a shock. It was a concept I was unfamiliar with. I grew up with the belief that others’ wants and desires were more important than mine. I had learned to squash my feelings and cover them up in order not to rock the boat.

Owning my self-worth took many years. First, I had to understand that I do not have to do anything or be any different in order to be worthy of love and acceptance. Fortunately there are daily opportunities to practice this new belief. I began to practice this in small ways, at first. When friends wanted to go out to eat and asked where I wanted to go, I’d tell them, “I’m craving Thai today.” Before this, I’d often demure, “Whatever you all want. I’m fine with anything.”

Ever so slowly, I began to believe it. I am worthy of belonging on the sidewalk just like everyone else.


My favorite part of coffee cake and apple crisps is the crumbly topping. I use real butter for that rich taste and lots of walnuts for extra crunch. Several years ago at the farmer’s market near my house, I happen to notice a recipe for apple coffee cake laying on the information table. I took a copy and whipped up a batch. The streusel topping had a light texture. I wanted more crunch. So the next time I had a craving for the coffee cake, I made two changes. Instead of a round pan, I used a muffin tin. And instead of the brown sugar topping, I used the topping typically used for apple crisp. I called my creation mupcakes. If a cupcake and a muffin had a baby, this would be it.

Mupcakes are best when they’re warm right out of the oven. Crispy crunchy walnut topping gently atop a warm apple-studded cake. I often liked my cupcakes in the afternoon with a cup of tea. But I hesitated turning on the oven just to warm up one mupcake. It seemed too wasteful and indulgent. So I’d gobbled them cold. Until one day I was telling my husband Andrew my reluctance to warm up my mupcake. “You’re worth it, babe. We have an oven. Enjoy it.” He was right. I AM worth it. It was a small but symbolic mindset shift.

I hope you enjoyed that snippet.

You’ll be able to get your hands on the book in September 2022. Stay tuned.

For this Valentine’s Day, how will you practice self-love?