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March 07, 2018 3 min read

Woman carrying a MAIKA bag

"When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid."
~ Audre Lorde


In honor of International Women's Day, we are highlighting women we adore in the MAIKA community. Today we chatted with Mei-Ying Williams, a mama working for justice at APEN (Asian Pacific Environmental Network), a non-profit dedicated to working towards a healthy living environment for their communities.


What is your superpower?
Like many mothers I know, my superpower is keen intuition. As a compliment to this superpower, my tote bag is often stocked with what other folks might need. From bandaids and hand wipes, to protein bars and water—I'm ready to help out in my son's classroom or to take an impromptu hike!
What is your favorite book/ podcast/ film?
My most recent read is a new favorite book, Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi. The writing is captivating and I was taken how the choices we make, or the choices made for us, can impact us for generations. Prior to that I'd read and loved Behold the Dreamers, by Imbolo Mbue. This is also beautifully written and I would definitely recommend both of these.
What does your perfect day look like?
Ooh, fun question! Saturday. Waking up early for my morning workout sets the tone for my day. Then I would make coffee at home before heading out to the farmer's market with my family. We love sampling tasty morsels from the vendors and shopping for produce. Then we can grab lunch at a local restaurant and make sure we have water and snacks for a hike somewhere driveable but not too far - either somewhere in San Francisco (like Land's End or Bernal Hill) or a visit to the waterfront at Half Moon Bay. After the hike, we would head home to make dinner for ourselves and a few close friends. A lovely, local day filled with fun activities, food, great people and quality time.
Who is your inspiration/ role model? Why?
I am inspired by my Tutu, my grandmother on my father's side. She came to the states from Peking (i.e. Beijing), China in 1938 when she was 18 years old and went to Smith College. She met my Yeye (grandfather) in Boston and they moved to New York and lived there for 3 years. In New York, she had their two daughters before moving and settling down in Hawaii. In Hawaii, she worked and had twin sons, one of whom is my Dad. She and my Yeye raised their four kids in Honolulu, and made life-long friends who I've always known as my aunties and uncles. My Tutu lived to be 90 years old and embodied a loving and generous spirit, prioritizing family and good friends. She passed away in June 2011 and I continue to strive to live in her honor.
What would you tell your 20-year-old self?
Enjoy the library. Drink your coffee slow. Stay connected to the college professor that challenged you as a writer. Call your parents at least once a week. Travel more. Interview your family. Schedule in reflection time.
What has been your greatest adventure?
Motherhood! I have never been more in love with another person like I am with our son, Amil. He brings joy and adventure everywhere. Since day one, being a parent has been more than I ever could have imagined. Now our son is eight years old, and is healthy, active and very social. Between managing his schedule with my husband, and working full time at my paid job, mothering and co-parenting have been the biggest adventures of my life. I have to be mindful of carving spaces to cultivate small-scale adventures for myselfmore often.
What is the best gift you've ever received?
When I was just out of high school, I was getting ready to move away for college and my good friend gave me a journal. It wasn't fancy, but a simple bound notebook with blank pages. I saw it as an invitation to listen to myself.

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