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  • The Moon Traveler | Half a Life

    Bipolar disorder, I refused to be identified with it, I accepted it, and then I moved away from the need to label myself. I am just me. I worked hard on getting to know this polarizing energy within myself in the past 10 years, and I befriended it. This is a reflection piece that I wrote back in 2017, which described how I felt about living with that energy. Reading it again, I see how my life has changed, and that sense of ‘half of a life’ diminished over the last few years. On this day of World Bipolar Disorder Day, I am sharing it with you. Xiaojie 30th March 2023 July 2017 Author: Xiaojie Proofread: Mara, Lucy The Moon Traveler | Half a Life The thing about bipolar is You have half of a life Many people with bipolar II spend longer time being depressed Than being creative, energetic, productive and happy When depression hits I was dead for months out of a year Before I was aware that it could be bipolar I was so confused “Why can’t I think of anything that I want to do?” I used to ask myself So one time when I was in remission I put together a list of things that I like doing or should do I thought maybe sometimes I just forget The depression hits Nothing on the list was appealing I was baffled Then there it came the long never ending days of despair Until the chemicals in my brain balances itself out It cycles I noticed it But I could do nothing about it Even when I was happy and contend I knew some day, I’d be on the other end It’s like being in the wavy ocean Your head is in and out of water I never had time to make sense of what’s happening When you can hold your head above the water All you can think of it to breath That’s what I was like I was trying to make most of my functioning days Running, doing, and rushing I know the color I can see will turn grey The music I hear will fade Some days would out of nowhere my limbs become so heavy that I wouldn’t be able to move them To me, I only have half of my life When I feel alive, I spin myself like a top Once you whip, you can’t stop! I’ve taken many walks at 6am because it’s quiet and beautiful I once watched a documentary about lepers twice in one night because it was fascinating I danced one weekend day for 14 hours, lost 3 toenails and had to go to physical therapy for my hips One Saturday, I studied online for 6 hours straight, just because. Hypomania That’s the technical word given for bipolar disorder II My body’s switch was finally turned on My soul woke up from hibernation, taking a big stretch So I was that volcano, pent up with lava that is pounding My mind decided to let it go “Make the most out of the time” there’s always that voice Missing out There were times in life I looked up and saw a plane in the sky I thought to myself that they are so lucky to have a destination I arrived in Paris Only found that my soul didn't get on the same bus with me I was in Rome Having the worst panic attacks of my life I saw the magnificent architecture But my emotions were too dried out to be in touch with the magnificence I was in Nepal I booked the flight back immediately after work Why stay for the weekend When where I am is of no difference Like most people I wish I didn't have to miss out on these wonderful things that are happening in life I also wish that I never have to miss out again despite that I know there will probably be times that I will Like for most people that wishful thinking creates a hamster wheel A lot of times I feel like a hungry homeless person That sees a plateful of food He wouldn’t sit down to smell and taste the food He’d just gulp everything down Just like him I was galloping life in one breath Until I finally started to do yoga and meditate That I realize there was other ways In a way, we all live in the waves of an ocean Some waves are bigger than others Mine certainly was like a tornado I am learning to ride the waves Not fighting it But riding it Learning to accept that others will experience things that I may never get to do helps me to bring the wave down. I know very well that I am experiencing things that some others would never do Don’t fear missing out Bring yourself back to the experience that you are already having Ignore the voice that tells you to do more The fear of missing out fades The joy of living the moment enhances

  • Therapy for Recovery from Abusive Relationships | Project A

    (Project A is not part of CandleX) In 2021, Megan Purvis, a long-time expat who had lived in Beijing for a little over a decade studying and working collaborated with Qin Xiaojie, psychotherapist and director of CandleX, to found Project A. Project A is an initiative to support people who have left abusive relationships through providing them with access to group and individual therapy. In 2021 and 2022, the project received a lot of support in Beijing that two rounds of group and individual therapies for more than 10 people were completed. In 2022, Xiaojie and Megan were interviewed by China Development Brief. We’d like to invite you to read this article and understand Project A and its services.

  • Sex Addiction Survey Results by CandleX

    In Dec 2022, we sent out a survey to gather information on sex addiction in China amongst the international community. Until 22nd Jan, we have received 53 responses, in which 49 are valid, from those who identified themselves as struggling with sex addiction. In the meantime, we are calling for applicants to join our sex addiction recovery group. To understand what sex addiction is, check out our article here. Let’s look at the results based on 49 responses. Gender The majority of our responses come from men, 86% compared to from female of 14%. This is in line with the academic research findings in many papers that the majority of individuals that struggle with sex addiction are men. Age 82% of the responses come from people between the age of 18 to 40. Limitation: this does not reflect the make-up of sex addiction people. It is possible that those who were willing to fill out the questionnaire, or those the survey reached are people who are under 40. This make-up of the active international community members tend to be those who are below 50 years old. Relationship status About half of the responds are in a committed relationship, while 35% are single. Severity of self-assessed addiction level We asked people to rate their level of addiction from 1-10, 1 being no addiction and 10 of being the worst addiction they could imagine. On average, it’s 7 that people feel like they are addicted to sex. 85% of the respondents rate their addiction at and above level 6. Limitation: self-assessment is subjective. Everyone’s understanding of what each level means could differ. Length of sex addiction The average duration of their addiction that respondents filled out is 11 years. This could be due to the shame and lack of social and professional support. Some respondents found it difficult to know the length. It could be due to the lack of awareness on the onset, and the debatable line (for self-assessing) when it’s healthy sex and when it becomes an addiction. We want to thank our partners for promoting the survey, Date Night China, Youman Potential, BARE, Fun Beijing, Men are Humans Too, and Hopelessly Tatiana.

  • Sign Up | Sex Addiction Recovery Group

    Sex addiction is a topic that is not yet openly discussed in the international community here in China. This can be attributed to low awareness, and lack of support, which has in turn led to those who struggle with sex addiction finding it even harder to recover. In order to improve mental health in this domain, in 2023, CandleX initiated Sex Addiction Recovery Project, supported by our partners including Date Night China, Youman Potential, BARE, Fun Beijing, Men are Humans Too, and Hopelessly Tatiana. The project has three elements: survey and understanding of the needs in China, psychoeducation and psychosocial support. In Jan 2023, this month, we have received dozens of responses to our survey from people who opened up to us about their sex addiction, and we will share the result in the upcoming weeks. As of now, we are inviting you to join the Sex Addiction Recovery Group, that will run for 6 weeks starting in mid-February 2023 online for people who are currently struggling with sex addiction. Check out our last article on: what is sex addiction? What is a recovery group? CandleX Sex Addiction Recovery Group will be facilitated by Xiaojie Qin, a psychotherapist and director of CandleX. Through psychoeducation, and facilitated peer support, the group will go through a process of learning, reflection, discussion on sex addiction, your own story sharing and learning of self-management tools to start or continue the recovery. Please note that the relationship between you and the facilitator does not constitute a therapy relationship. The facilitator provides psychoeducation and facilitate the process to ensure group rules are followed and dynamics are managed so the process is non-judgmental, safe, confidential and equal to all members. What will be covered in the 6-week? During six weeks, you will Get to know each other, and develop authentic connections with others Deepen your understanding of what is sex addiction. We will use a sex addiction self-screening tool, and you can track your progress along the way. Share personal stories. look at your experiences in relation to others, what’s the same and what’s different. Understand what format of addiction yours takes place, its frequency and severity. review how it has changed your relationships with yourself, family and friends, and your intimate relationships. Review the onset of addiction, and its progression, barriers to recover in the past and relapses. Develop an awareness of your desires, motivation. Most importantly, identify your own resources and strengths. Learn to regulate emotions through building up emotional tolerance and behavioral changes. You will learn tools that used in psychotherapy, drawing from cognitive behavior therapy, EMDR, Art therapy, Narrative therapy. Develop further steps for recovery and gain access to local resources for your continued healing. There might be homework between sessions as reading chapters of a book, or journaling. All of what will be covered is subjective to change depending on the progress of learning and recovery as well as group preferences. Key Information Participants: adults (18+) who are currently struggling with sex addiction. Gender: mixed group including men and women (see FAQ section for other possibilities) Date: every Wednesday evening, 15th, 22nd Feb, 1st 8th, 15th, 22nd 29th Mar 2023 Time : 19:30-21:00 Via online platform Voov (腾讯会议) Language: English Max number: 8 people each session Fee: 900rmb (6 sessions, no refund) Registration: add summer on Wechat Recovery Group coordinator will reach out via private message to confirm your registration. Group Principles We shall not be held responsible for group member’s safety. If you are experiencing mental illness and are engaging in self-harm or experiencing suicidal ideations, you need to seek clinical mental health treatment. You will find useful information on our crisis page All information shared with the group is confidential. Other rules and key information will be listed in the consent form, which requires your signature as a perquisition to participate. If you have any concerns or feedback of the support group, we welcome you to let us know by emailing it to . About the Facilitator Frequently Asked Questions I cannot attend this time. Will there be another round? We are not sure given that this is a semi-pro bono service from Xiaojie. We strongly encourage you to make time for this one as we cannot guarantee if the next one will be available or if the fee will stay the same. I don’t feel comfortable being in a mix group. Should I still apply? Although both men and women are encouraged to apply, there is a chance that it turns out to be a single gender group. We encourage you to apply, and you can withdraw from it if it turns out to be a mixed gender group. I am worried that the group will be dominated by other people, or others will enforce their ideas and opinions on me. Am I too worried? These are possible when the group is not facilitated well. The facilitator Xiaojie has over a decade of experiences with group work. She’s a positive parenting trainer, facilitated CandleX’s peer support group for 5 years, developed trainings and provide them to facilitators of different levels, and she provided group therapy to abusive relationship recovery groups. Xiaojie would manage any situations that could harm the group to ensure safety, confidentiality and emotional wellbeing of the members. If you have any concerns or feedback during the process, you can also email her directly at: CandleX’s other resources One on One Support with a mental health professional: if you are looking for information about mental health treatments or have a close friend or family member who is living with a mental health condition like depression or anxiety and you want to support them, our Pre-treatment Guidance Program is perfect for that. Mental Health Peer Support Group: it’s an open generic group for people with different mental health issues to attend at any time. Sex Addiction Recovery Project is supported by our awareness raising partners: Date Night China, Youman Potential, BARE, Fun Beijing, Men are Humans Too, and Hopelessly Tatiana.

  • What is sex addiction?

    Is sex addiction a real thing? although there are still many debates on this even within the academic and clinical mental health field, it is a real thing. ICD-11, International Classification of Diseases, added ‘Complusive Sexual Behaviour disorder’ into its newest edition in 2018. Check out our video on ‘what is sex addiction?’ by Xiaojie Qin, a psychotherapist and director of CandleX. Starting in Dec 2022, at CandleX, we have been exploring possible ways to support people with sex addiction. We sent out a survey for people who are aware of their addiction to fill out and received many responses that indicates that there’s a great need for support. The survey is still open, we would love to hear from you. In the next few months of 2023, we will start a series of activities online and offline in China with the support of our awareness raising partners including Date Night China, Youman Potential, BARE, Fun Beijing, Men are Humans Too, and Hopelessly Tatiana. In the next few months, we’ll start community mobilization, and potentially start a psychosocial recovery group for people with sex addiction. To keep in touch with us, you can also join our CandleX’s WeChat group by adding our WeChat coordinator on it. We’d like to thank our partners, Date Night China, Youman Potential, BARE, Fun Beijing, Men are Humans Too, and Hopelessly Tatiana for raising awareness on sex addiction with us.


    #InvisibleHeroes at CandleX Nourouz, Mental Health Peer Support Group Coordinator

  • Sign Up | Mental Health Peer Support Group in Beijing

    Moving to a new country, going through a breakup, losing a job, or living with mental conditions are very challenging. Yet, there’s no reason to suffer alone when one can choose to join hands with others and let the power of connection and group support encourage and heal us. In the absence of such social support in Beijing, CandleX established the peer support group in October, 2015, with the goal to provide psychosocial support to Beijing community. It provides a safe and supportive environment for people living in and out of Beijing to share personal thoughts and experiences in small, confidential gatherings. To understand this project, or if you’d like to read our 1st, 2nd and 3rd year support group review, please visit (or click on “read more”). NOTE: If you are looking for information about mental health treatments or have a close friend or family member who is living with a mental health condition like depression or anxiety and you want to support them, our Pre-treatment Guidance Program is perfect for that. Please read here and sign up accordingly. Key Information Peer support group Participants: Our support groups are for people living with mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety or suicide ideation. The support group is especially effective for newcomers who are in situations of lack of social support, experiencing shame and guilt of having depression or people who present an elevated risk of mental illness. Date: every second and fourth Tuesday (both offline by default) Time : 19:30-21:00 Location: near Dongdaqiao (details will be communicated via a confirmation email after 4 pm, the day before each meeting) Language: English Max number: 7 people each session Fee: 50rmb or 30rmb (income ≤6000rmb/month) Registration via scanning QR code, or click on Support Group coordinator will reach out via private message to confirm your registration after screening and payment. Content and Approach: During the meeting, the core elements are as follow: Share our stories and feelings, and let others help you and give you emotional support when dealing with the difficult emotions alone. Help each other recognize the importance of tending to and promoting our own self-care The meeting is generally conducted in talking and sharing, but we offer other approaches to make sure that we feel relaxed and comfortable to share, including some guided meditation, breathing exercises, etc. There is one facilitator to throughout the session, monitor the progress of each session and facilitate group interactions. Keep in touch with each other, as we have a WeChat group (that you may join after attending at least one meeting) where you would be informed of Beijing community mental health events, other information that might be helpful for your recovery. Peer Group Principles We shall not be held responsible for group member’s safety. We are all peers. There are no professionals in this group. CandleX will not be responsible for people engaging in self-harm or suicidal ideations. By signing up to the peer support group, I understand and agree to release CandleX and its staff or volunteers from any or all liability connected to my own participation, including but not limited to any forms of self-harm or suicide. If you are in a crisis, please seek a professional immediately at the same time. Your will find useful information on our crisis page, visit: All information shared with the group is confidential. All new participants will need to register first for eligibility screening. no graphic description of suicide, self-harm and death as it may trigger some of the attendees. Please note that this is a Peer Support Group, there will be no professional therapists attending. If you have any concerns or feedback of the support group, we welcome you to let us know by emailing it to . The concern would be handled sensitively directly by CandleX’s director.

  • Talking about suicide: What I learned | Event Review

    M, attended the panel discussion event on suicide. She shared her own experiences and reflection on this topic . If you didn’t get a chance to attend, you can still learn the key points from her key takeaways. For psychoeducation content accuracy, I, a certified psychotherapist, have reviewed it. Xiaojie Psychotherapy, Director of CandleX Author: M (panel discussion attendee) Time: Sep 2022 Supporting Survivors of Suicide Loss To support someone who is a survivor of suicide loss, it’s important to have empathy, and for them to be able to trust you. It’s also important to be honest. Additionally, while people are encouraged to ask their friends and family if they are suicidal, sometimes, when we are aware that someone knows someone else who died by suicide, we may feel uncomfortable or unsure what to ask, about the person who died or the situation. But as one of the mental health experts pointed out, in these situations, sometimes not asking anything is a good place to start. Sometimes simply sitting with them, or being with them, and allowing them the safety to feel their feelings, is a good choice. It’s important to provide people an environment in which they feel safe and listened to, and where their feelings can be expressed safely. Survivors tend to grieve in isolation, so providing a connection is incredibly valuable. Supporting Someone Dealing With Suicidal Ideation One of the focal points of the night was asking and answering the question “How can we support someone dealing with suicidal ideation?” This question was posed by the moderator and returned to several times. According to the mental health experts on the panel, the following are all good things to remember: Listen to the person and let them tell you what they are feeling and what they need. Validate their feelings. Allow them a space to feel how they feel. Don’t try to fix their problems. Consider the relationship you have with the person (are they family? a close friend? a coworker?) and allow that to guide your response. Provide resources such as hotline numbers or therapy information. Ask the person what they need and how you can help or support them. Accept and acknowledge them where they are. All of these points are important, because otherwise there is the possibility that the person will not continue to have the conversation with you because in addition to dealing with their own feelings, they also have to worry about their relationship with you or the role you take in that relationship. Event photo credit: Eric The mental health experts also discussed the Safety Plan, which I think is an invaluable tool. Safety Plan 1. Who are your people? Who are the important people in your life, your friends? Those who really uplift you? Even one person you can think of who can be a safe place or a trusted person to confide in and look to for strength and support. 2. Where is the hope? Is there anything, no matter how small, that you can hold on to? What can you look forward to, that gives you hope? 3. Emergency numbers What Support Do People Who Have Struggled With Suicidal Ideation Wish They Had Gotten? At a certain point during the event, the panelists who brought some kind of personal experience to the discussion were also asked what they wish others had done to support them when they needed it. They wished they had been encouraged to get help or given some sort of practical guidance. They wished their feelings had been acknowledged. They wished there had been a lack of judgment. They also stressed the need to commend the bravery of the person who comes forward about their struggle with suicidal ideation. Given the stigma, the shame, the fear, and the sheer difficulty of talking about the issue, it takes a great deal to make that step to reach out. The person who does is doing so at great effort and potentially great cost. The value of support groups was also stressed, as these spaces can allow survivors to talk about their experiences and express their feelings, and know that they are not alone in what they are and have been going through. CandleX provides peer support group twice a month, and you can sign up here. Support group link Event photo What If There Are No Signs? Much of the conversation of the night centered on what to do, and how to help, when we know the people in our lives are struggling, either with suicidal ideation, or as survivors of suicide loss. But I kept thinking to myself: What about when we don’t know? One of the panelists with personal experience voiced what is a common experience of those who are survivors of suicide loss: They didn’t know. There were no signs of what their loved one was going through. While there will never be a perfect answer, or a 100% effective solution for preventing suicide, I think all of the advice and information given during the panel can serve as valuable information even when there aren’t signs, because all of it lays out an ideal way to treat people generally, suicidal or not. Over the discussion I noticed common threads in the stories of the panelists. There was often no discussion of or dealing with feelings and emotions in their families or friend circles. They had intense feelings of guilt and shame, and suffered from an acute lack of feeling of self-worth. All of the panelists discussed the difficulty of talking about how they felt. For some of them, these things were major factors in what could be described as a spiral towards greater intention of suicide. I have to wonder how many lives can be saved if all of us are able to talk, to reach out for help, to feel supported, valued and believed, and given the chance to be accepted for who we are. The Suicide Awareness Panel was so much more than simply a panel. It was a personal reawakening to my own history of struggle with mental health issues. It was a small but important step toward creating a better and more open society capable of supporting those suffering. It was an invaluable resource for saving lives. At the end of the night, I left the panel more informed than I had been coming in, more in tune to my own place in a connected world, and more committed than ever to keeping such an important and urgent conversation going.

  • Suicide Awareness: My Reflections | Community Writing

    In Sep 2022, I invited M to attend the suicide prevention panel event that I was going to attend as a panel guest, with the intention to have an article written about the key learnings from the panel discussion. M has been in China for more than 8 years, and comes from the US. I would never have known her own experiences and reflections on this topic if I had not invited her to come to this event. I want to thank her for her bravery and openness to share her story, which becomes part of our join our September Suicide Awareness Raising Month. It is normal to feel uncomfortable and tense when talking, reading, hearing about suicide topics. But once they are felt, heard, and accepted as part of our joined human experiences, we can heal and recover a bit better on the other side. Xiaojie Qin Psychotherapist, Director of CandleX Author: M (Anonymous Beijing Community Member) Time: September 2022 A few years into my college experience my mental health took a nosedive and I was forced to take time off from school. Looking back, it’s pretty clear that a lot of the issues I was struggling with (and their contributing factors) had actually had their inception many years earlier, but it was in college that everything fell apart. Initially, after leaving school, I moved back home with my parents, and it was there, at that time, that I had my first experience with suicidal ideation. The World Health Organization defines suicidal ideation as “thoughts, ideas, or ruminations about the possibility of ending one's life, ranging from thinking that one would be better off dead to formulation of elaborate plans [1].” In my case, I have experienced instances of this kind of thinking at different times for more than a decade, sometimes more intensely than at other times, sometimes more frequently than at other times. Thirteen years on from that first instance my life is in a much better place. I have been in therapy for years, I feel I have true friends and strong personal connections that nourish and support me in a number of ways, I am not in a precarious employment position, and at the moment things are going fairly well. Things could always be better, of course, and no day is absolutely perfect, but to be honest, my own personal experience with suicidal ideation has not really come to mind for a while. So, that’s great and all, but why the long preamble? When I first heard about the Suicide Awareness Panel discussion taking place on September 6 and hosted by Hopelessly Tatiana and moderated by Helena from BARE, I thought it sounded like an interesting event for a good cause. With my own history of depression, the de-stigmatization of mental health issues has long been personally important to me. But that was essentially as far as I got in my thinking before the panel—other, deeper aspects of my personal mental health history just did not come to mind. The event began with the moderator onstage with the panelists. There was a full audience in attendance. The moderator was very intentional about laying down ground rules for the night, which I appreciated. It was clear to me that this topic was going to be handled in a compassionate and respectful way, and any trepidation I may have felt beforehand of exactly how the conversation would be handled, was alleviated. The panel portion of the night began with panelists discussing a range of topics, including their own feelings around suicide, whether the suicide of someone close to them or their own attempt. Deeply personal stories were shared, some of which left me and much of the audience in tears. There were mental health professionals present on the panel as well, and they provided valuable expert experience dealing with suicide and suicidal ideation. Not far into the discussion it hit me that this was the first time I had ever seen the topic of suicide and suicidal ideation discussed so openly, in this kind of forum. Event Photo, Credit: Eric I’m not exactly sure what I expected to get out of attending the panel. I think I thought it would be a good, interesting event to attend. I think I had externalized my interest in the topic, along with any connection I may have felt. I definitely hadn’t expected to be as affected as I ended up being. Sitting in the audience, a lot of memories came back to me, things I hadn’t thought about in a long time. Particular times when I had felt or possibly was close to giving up. One last-minute, fortuitous intervention in particular. Uncomfortable memories, however far away they seemed now. It was sobering to be reminded that I was more intimately connected with the topic of suicide and suicidal ideation than I had been prepared to admit when I first walked in to the event space and took my seat. The night’s discussion also prompted me to remember with sadness the struggles of people in my life who had had even closer encounters with the topic than I had. A friend from middle and high school who had one time later on told our little ragtag group of friends that if it hadn’t been for our friendship she might not have survived. A former boyfriend who in high school had lost his older brother to suicide and who later in college had made his own attempt. It’s not that I was shocked, necessarily, by what I remembered. But I wondered how I could have not realized the topic was closer to my own life. I realized that, even though the topic had been out of my mind and I was doing well, it was and continues to be a pressing issue for so many. The stories and feelings and pain shared on that stage reminded me that for so many people, suicide is not simply a “topic” they can disengage or disentangle themselves from. It is with them every day. And I think that is really an important takeaway: Suicide is something that, in some way or another, is closer than we think. Certainly for those of us who experience suicidal thoughts and ideation, and for those of us suffering from the loss of a dear one to suicide. But suicide is also close for those of us who don’t. We may never have had a suicidal thought, but it is quite possible that people we know and love have. Perhaps we don’t personally know anyone who has ended their life, but we know people who have lost loved ones to suicide, and who are struggling every day in silence and isolation. Whatever the specific circumstances, this issue is something that, while immensely difficult to discuss, must be discussed, must be de-stigmatized. Over the years, we have published other personal stories on this topic. You can read them here: In the Moment of Blur | Sam’s Story with Depression The Fine Line between Life and Death l Xiaojie’s poem Making Up for My Existence | Depression Stories Michael’s Journey to Alcoholism Recovery | My Stories, My Emotions In the next article, we will publish the key learnings from the panel discussion. References 1: ICD-11 for Mortality and Morbidity statistics

  • Suicide Awareness Raising Sep

    September 10th is the World Suicide Prevention Day. In response to that, CandleX makes this September month a suicide awareness raising month. Check out the video to see what we are doing this month, and know where resources are available in China.

  • Chapter 2: In Dance, I Expanded | My Story With Swing Dance

    “You’ve loved dancing since you were a little girl,” my mom said to me one time. “There was a time when you always came home much later than the other kindergarten kids. One day, I went to see what you were doing on the way and saw you moving three steps forwards and two steps back. You were dancing on your own on the way home.” Read Chapter 1 to learn about my dancing life before swing dance and how I met swing dance in 2010. Author: Xiaojie Qin Date: 2022 After I moved back to Beijing in 2011, I continued to go to swing dance parties. My Monday evening routine back then was to come home, rest, have dinner, dress up and go to swing dance. I often was one of the last few to leave. There were no other dancing nights, so every good dancer in town would show up at CD Blues on Monday evenings. That same year, I went to Swing Time Ball for the first time. It might even have been the first one ever, although I can not be sure. I didn’t know Swing Time Ball would eventually become the biggest annual swing dance event in China and internationally reputable a few years later. For me, that December night was just a night where we had a special dance event for all the dancers that we all knew in town. There were performances, dance competitions, and what was just a social dance. Now, looking at some old videos, I realize we even had a band at the ball! I joined a Jack and Jill competition, and back then it was all nanshen (男神, the very popular lead dancers) that were in the line up! Swing Time Ball 2011 Beijing The next year, in 2012, I went to Great Wall Swingout, which was happening for the first time Beijing. From then on, there have been a lot of swing dance trips! I’ve gotten to dance at the best annual party in the country, and with the best and most enthusiastic dancers around the world in many events, including CSI in Korea (2014), Blues Weekend in Boston (2015), Big Bang in Bangkok (2016), and Herräng Dance Camp in Sweden (2019). Of course, I attended Swing Time Ball annually as well. What a blessing it is to be able to dance, be inspired, be free and to feel deeply connected with the world! CSI Korea, 2014 Blues Weekend, Boston, 2015 China Lindy Hop Championship, 2015 Great Wall Swing Out, 2015 Great Wall Swingout, 2016 Oh, looking back on those times, it seems like life was all good then! But, not quite! Those were the years that I always had a full calendar, being in my 20s and early 30s, throughout which I was so caught up in “trying to figure out my life.” I thank swing dance for creating a space for my mind to calm down, and for my goals and confusion to be put on the shelf. In many ways, swing dance was my anti-depressant during times that I struggled with depression. When the music was playing and I was not haunted by my thoughts, I was okay. Thankfully, I always get through depression one way or another—I never stopped dancing! Certainly I dance more when I want to connect with children. If you give them a chance, children really show you how to have fun in life. In dancing we are all equals, and we can play and laugh together. Back when I had a job that took me to many rural areas in China, I was thrilled to just hang out with the kids. I would always show them some swing dance moves. It made so many people happy, just kicking our legs and turning our hips. And just like that, a decade has gone by. These trips, events and people have given me so much joy, simplicity and inspiration that I feel greatly expanded.

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