If there’s a writer who can make you think, laugh out loud and shed a tear—sometimes all in the same paragraph—it’s Connie Wang. Don’t take our word for it, though. Her new book, Oh My Mother!: A Memoir in Nine Adventures, is a delightful and unforgettable exploration of her relationship with her mother, Qing Li. As the duo travels the world, from a Magic Mike strip show in Vegas to edible shopping in Amsterdam, they grow to understand each other better through the hilarity, struggles, and surprises they encounter along the way. Here, Connie shares a glimpse into her everyday rituals at home in Los Angeles.
What is the first thing you do in the morning?
Ha — I usually check the time/baby monitor to see if I can sleep some more. I loathe waking up and getting through the early morning to-dos, but I’m extremely fast at getting ready — this combination can be a destructive one, since I’ll usually wait until the very last moment possible to get out of bed. My routine used to only take 15-ish minutes before I could get out the door, but now that I have a toddler, I’m beholden to his schedule and wake-up time — so, the second thing I do in the morning is give him a giant squeeze.
How has your upbringing and environment shaped your understanding of wellness?
I write about this in my book Oh My Mother! but my parents had a fairly wonky understanding of nutrition and wellness. They both grew up with a lack of food, and had an unyielding faith in the scientific method — that engineering always leads to something better. So, growing up, my sister and I couldn’t leave the dinner table without having at least finished the “high value” proteins, but were also sent to the bus stop with a Drumstick ice cream cone for breakfast. To this day, I ~feel~ healthier after eating an Arby’s Beef ‘n’ Cheddar sandwich and a packet of fruit snacks than if I just had a $20 salad. I know that’s nonsense, but it’s how I’m programmed!! The upside of all this is that we’re very grateful for when we have good health. We don’t take it for granted.
I feel my best when I’m not in pain, when I’m excited by something I’m doing, and when my brain feels alive and slippery.
What makes you feel your best?
I feel my best when I’m not in pain, when I’m excited by something I’m doing, and when my brain feels alive and slippery. That’s usually when I’ve got money in the bank, and my family and friends within reach. I feel like I can tackle anything if those two things are in place.
What has been the hardest part of your wellness journey—and how do you deal with it?
I have fairly severe eczema that started when I was a kid; I grew up with a tub of steroid cream in my backpack. A few years back, they all stopped working at once, and the eczema became so untenable that I started getting infections. At one point, my face blew up like a raspberry and I had to be put on a course of immunosuppressants to slowly de-puff over a month.
Confronting it was daunting. Up until then, it was much easier to hide it with makeup, to ignore the apparent food allergies I had, to continue going to a cosmetic dermatologist instead of one at a research-based hospital. After that massive flare-up, I decided to finally be an adult about my health, and took the steps to finally figure out what was causing it (apparently, I had a severe skin allergy to cobalt and cinnamon, which meant I had to cut out all seafood, offal, fall treats, and a bunch of my favorite foods from my diet). My new dermatologist at NYU put me on a biweekly self-injection of Dupixent, that I’ve taken now for three years (except for while I was pregnant and breastfeeding). Today, you can’t tell that I have eczema anymore. I can’t tell you how liberating it’s been to NOT be itchy.
What is something you would like to see more of in the wellness world?
Less emphasis on gimmicks, and more emphasis on adopting practices and habits that not only let you live longer, but that you can also happily do for the rest of your life. Wellness has to be sustainable.
What is a must-have step or product in your routine?
A good night’s sleep. For me, that’s seven hours! In my 30s, I’ve created such a sleep nest for myself — I play rain sounds all night, the temperature is set at 67 degrees, I’ve got a red light bulb for bedtime, blackout curtains, and the pillow placement is the product of a decade of testing and iterating (a flat one under my head, two puffy ones on either side of my legs, a floppy one at arm’s length for plopping on my forehead).
I found a sleep situation now that I can knock out in minutes — but if I’m traveling, even at an incredible hotel with a luxury bed, it never feels as good as at home.
I prefer to deal with difficulties privately first. It’s a quirk of mine that’s served me okay so far.
How do you define ‘healthy’?
If everything is working well enough that I never think about what’s glitching in my physical body or mental health.
What is something you look forward to every day?
It’s a tie between the first minute of alone time and the first minute I see my husband and kid together.
How do you reset yourself after a difficult moment?
I have a conversation about it in my own head. It usually begins in anger or despair, and ramps up to something overly dramatic, but eventually gets calmer with each retelling. Sometimes, I’ll write it down. When it starts to sound like something I’d like to read, I usually feel more calm and clear about what’s happened. After all that, I’ll talk to my family or a close friend about it and get their perspective. But, I prefer to deal with difficulties privately first — it’s a quirk of mine that’s served me okay so far.
What is a ritual that brings you joy?
I went through a months-long phase where, after I tucked in the kiddo, I’d go into my backyard with my husband and sit facing the sunset, and I’d have a mini joint to decompress, and we just talk about bullshit. It was so lovely and so soothing, but my weed intake (and tolerance) went through the roof — I had to cut back!
What is the last thing you do at night?
My equivalent of counting sheep is redecorating this fantasy home I have in my brain (my literal mind palace??). I’m currently redoing the kitchen lol.