Review: Love Letters From Janey

Love Letters From Janey –

50 Years Of Breaking Barriers Together

Author: Richard Cheu

Cheu Writes Press

May, 2022

ISBN 978-0-578-34920-6

“Love Letters From Janey – 50 Years Of Breaking Barriers Together” is author Richard Cheu’s memorial to his wife, Janey Mildred Young Cheu. In his preface, Cheu gives the background of Janey’s parents and grandparents. Janey and her parents were American-born Chinese, as was her grandfather. Janey had adult responsibilities from the time she was six years old, helping her mother run a gift shop while her father was on active duty with the United States Army.

Cheu talks about the racism that they faced being Chinese (and educated), and how Janey wanted to become a doctor, but her mother Mary was adamant that she not do that, as she would never find a husband. Janey did get her education and worked for Bell Laboratories as a curriculum developer and systems engineer, and the only Asian American woman at Bell to receive the highest technical award that they offered. She was also associate director of the Institute for Science, Technology, and Social Education at Rutgers University, where she received an EdD in psychology and education. She was also a California state-certified microbiologist.

This book is broken into four parts, representing four different parts of Janey’s life. Part 1 talks about the 1960s, Part 2 contains excerpts from letters divided into twelve categories, representing different parts of the relationship between Janey and Richard, Part 3 talks about what energized and motivated Janey to do what she did in her career and personal activities, and in Part 4 Janey tells her own story, in her own words.

Part 1 talks about the changing world, and women’s rights. It referenced changing roles within society and within the home. It references how Janey was a product of her cultural heritage, her family, and the historical moment she came of age. We have to remember that this was the time of people like Betty Friedan and the feminist movement. This was all interesting to me because I lived through these times – the Kennedy presidency, the creation of the Peace Corps, and more.

Part 2 talks about growing up Asian American in California, referencing the influence of three cultures: Chinese, American, and Chinese-American. Speaking Cantonese at home and English in school allowed her to become fluent in both cultures. We also read about the author’s background and that of his parents. He also explains the process of choosing what to share from Janey’s letters to him. (As he notes, she wrote about anything and everything that was on her mind any given day.) Not incidental was the issue that Chinese Americans were not fully accepted as Americans.

Part 3 begins with Janey’s yin and yang personality. It talks about her Chinese name, which means “peach blossom”. It also talks about the author comparing his Myer Briggs score with Janey’s, which brought him to a greater understanding of her. Janey’s sense of precision is mentioned, as well as her passion for cooking. (Indeed, wanting to be left alone in the kitchen so that she could totally focus on cooking.)

Part 4 starts out with an oral history interview with Janey and the author. It is absolutely amazing to listen to them talking about different things that happened in their lives, and Janey’s take on them. Including her ambition to learn to ski, and to teach her children how to ski. Then there is their 50th anniversary, which they spent in Montreal (courtesy of their children). It is also interesting to note that Janey used her personal page in the Stanford Class of 1960s 50th class reunion book to share her life story with her classmates. (The information from this page is included in the book.) Also included is a very beautiful photo of Janey.

I very much appreciated the opportunity to review this book. Janey Cheu was/is a lady with spunk, determination, and the ability to care about herself and those around her. She moved between Chinese and American cultures at a time when there was a large divide between them. She honored both cultures, got an education, married and raised a family, and was not afraid to take a leading role in her work environment. It is because of women like her that our world has evolved to the point that it has. This is an excellent read, and I highly recommend it.

© March 2022 Bonnie Cehovet

Reproduction is prohibited without written permission from the author.

Review – Living Well With Chronic Illness

Living Well With Chronic Illness

Living Well With Chronic Illness

A Practical and Spiritual Guide

 

Author: Richard Cheu
Dog Ear Publishing
2013
ISBN #978-1-4575-1343-5

We are currently inhabiting  a world where people are living longer, and where families tend to be much more spread out geographically than was once the case.  As a result, we are much more apt than at any other time to be facing chronic illness, and facing it largely on our own. Chaplain Richard Cheu  (former neurophysiologist, EMT, and stress management consultant) presents  us with very timely advice on how to handle facing a chronic illness, how to overcome our limitations, and expand our lives through personal transformation.

From the back cover:

Learning that you have a chronic illness can bring on strong feelings of shock, fear, and despair at a time when you need to take action to have the best possible outcome. Don’t let those feelings overwhelm you! This book will help you:

  • Take charge of your emotions and thoughts.
  • Let go of negative emotional baggage that is holding you back.
  • Develop a new perspective and plan for your future.
  • Use your illness for personal transformation.

In his foreword, Samoon Ahmad, M.D. talks about the concepts of mortality and illness, and the fears that surround them .  He notes that only when we come to terms with them can we live our life to the fullest.  He also notes the applicability of the book’s  paradigm of grieving components – termed SARA, they are Shock, Anger, Resistance, and Acceptance.

Cheu has divided the book into four parts:

Part 1 -T he Personal Impact Of A Chronic Illness

Part 2 – Overcome Emotional Hurdles

Part 3 – Find New Meaning In Life

Part 4 – Free Your Spirit

Cheu wrote this book not only for those that are experiencing chronic illness, but for their family, friends, and caretakers.  This is a true reflection of “It takes a village.” He writes in a very straightforward, easy to understand manner, including specific examples from  his own life experience, and that of those who have crossed his path. In several places he has included two examples – one of a patient that could not move beyond their fears/limitations, and one of a patient that could.

Takeaway’s from this book include the need to recognize that life is changing, that we need to let go of excess baggage, to actively work to overcome loneliness, and to recognize tghat to live a full life someone with a chronic illness will need to change their perspective about life. In several places Cheu provides a template for individuals to evaluate their life, see where they need to change, and how they can bring that change about. . Templates include

  • A self-help and fear management plan
  • Steps to defeat despair
  • Ways to overcome loneliness
  • My plan to increase my connections
  • Becoming a volunteer
  • Worksheet for creating your life story

A particularly inuring chapter is the one in which Cheu talks about Mark O’Brien, Stephen Hawking, and Ted Kennedy … about the challenges they faced, and how they overcame them.

Throughout the book Cheu address each issue from the perspective of balancing  the patient’s mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual worlds.

I found this to be a wonderful resource … one that many of us may need at some point in time.

© 2000 – 2013 Bonnie Cehovet

All material on this site is copyright by Bonnie Cehovet, and may not be reproduced in any format without written permission.