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A letter to my readers

Dear readers,

First of all, I would like to thank you for taking the time to read my columns.

It's great to know that you are interested in reading what I write and what's on my mind. I consider it an honor and a privilege to write this column every week for you and for Woodbury Bulletin.

Since I started writing this column one-and-a-half years ago, I have received some e-mails from readers that have been very encouraging to me. On very few occasions, readers contacted me to let me know that they felt offended by the topics I wrote about or by the words I used.

It is certainly not my intention to write something to offend anyone. My purpose of writing this column is to open my mind and heart to you, to share my ideas, opinions and part of my life with you, to provide some information and inspiration for you.

In order to prevent any misunderstanding, I think it's necessary for me to clarify a few things here. Please keep the following points in mind when you read my column and make your judgment.

1. I am not employed by Forum Communications Company, which owns Woodbury Bulletin. I don't work for Woodbury Bulletin. I don't represent the Company, the paper or the Editor in any way. I am an independent, freelance writer.

2. I am not a journalist. I have never taken any journalism class in college. I don't report local news for Woodbury Bulletin. And I don't write as a journalist in a formal, objective and third-person style.

3. "On My Mind" is not an editorial, but a personal column. I write in the first-person, relaxed and natural style. While I do strive to provide factual and accurate information based on my own research, knowledge, observation and experience, all the opinions I express in this column are my own and personal and therefore are subjective.

If I say "X is the best in Woodbury," it's perfectly fine for you to think "No, not X -- Y is the best in Woodbury." It is not necessary to feel offended by other people's different, but reasonable opinion, in my humble mind.

I don't expect everyone in Woodbury to agree with what I think and say. You are entitled to your own opinion.

4. I am not a professional writer. I don't have any academic background in writing. I don't make a living as a columnist. I don't think about styles and techniques when I write. I write whatever comes to my mind. Most times I write after my kids go to sleep at 10 pm. I do it because I love to.

5. I am not a native-English speaker. When I came to the U.S. in 1991, I had to learn English from reading children's books. I am sure you will pardon me if my English is not as perfect as your's and if I use a word inappropriately.

6. I am not a doctor, psychologist, counselor or lawyer. Any advice provided in this column is for your information only. Please use your own mind and judgment and consult with a professional if necessary when considering my recommendations, suggestions and advices on any topics.

7. I don't claim to know all and know everything or know better than anyone of you. I have lived in Woodbury since 2001. I am sure people who have lived here for 30 or 40 years know much more about Woodbury than I do. If whatever I write is not correct, please let me know and I will be very happy to know about it and apologize if necessary.

8. I don't personally benefit from any individual, any business and any subject I write about in this column. I don't get paid by any individual or business to write about them. I write about subjects I am interested in and I think it's good for others to know about.

Here is an example. When I decided to write about a new Chinese restaurant in Woodbury, I contacted the owner to get some information. When he asked me how much he would have to pay for my writing, I said, "Nothing." Then I paid for my own and my family's meal to eat at that restaurant to get a firsthand experience.

9. I don't feel offended when people don't read my column or don't agree with or like what I write. I might feel sorry that we don't see thing eye to eye. But with almost 60,000 residents in Woodbury, it's a given that people will have different interests and opinions.

What I like is not necessarily what you like, and vice versa.

The sports section in Woodbury Bulletin is a good example. Because I have never been into any sport my whole life and don't know anything about sport, I don't read the sport section every week.

I know that Tom Carothers, the sports editor for Woodbury Bulletin, is a prolific writer and does an excellent job covering the sport section every week with his many articles and photos. I am sure Tom wouldn't be offended by my admission that I don't read the sport section. It has nothing to do with him or his ability as a writer, but everything to do with my own interest.

Please remember I am only one of the 58,000 residents in Woodbury. My single voice is among many in Woodbury. My opinion represents mine alone.

10. I welcome all comments, positive and negative. Please feel free to let me know what you think. I make sure I respond to everyone who contacts me. Actually, the negative comments give me more to think about. And it's a good thing.

For all your support and encouragement, I promise I will keep writing what's on my mind and I will do my best to keep this column informative and inspirational.

For you, please keep reading what interests you personally.