Meet Jodie, an adoptee from South Korea who is discovering what it means to be an Ajumma while throwing down the moves at her daughter's elementary school.
TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF
I was adopted from South Korea when I was 2 by an American couple (hi Mom and Dad!) and grew up in Walnut Creek, CA. My father worked his tail off at the National Park Service office in San Francisco where he courted my mother, who then switched to becoming a full-time mom and artist after my brother and I arrived from Korea. I was a VERY active kid. I loved people, loved swimming, hated rules and always got into trouble.
Jodie with her parents and two children
I attended Cal State Fullerton for Business and Psychology but ended up finding my passion in restaurants where I spent 15 years working every job from dishwasher to executive chef and everything in between. My last role before having kids was as the exec chef and new store staff trainer for Tender Greens, where I worked for six years. Someday, I hope to run a small scale eatery or bed and breakfast on the North Coast.
I met my husband, Eddie in 2006 while working together at The Lodge at Torrey Pines, back when you could still drink on the beach :-) A whirlwind romance turned into a lifelong love affair that now includes our beautiful and energy consuming kids, 5.5 year old daughter, Linnaea and almost 4 year old son, Zeke. After an extremely challenging five years of motherhood, I consider myself lucky to be a full-time mom and help my kids live their best lives. Now that they’re in Kinder and preschool, I’m finding more time for passion projects, rest and joyful moments. We reside in San Diego, California.
In my free time, I teach for Heartlight Dance San Diego, a nonprofit that offers affordable after school dance classes to elementary school students including my daughter! It’s perfect for me at this juncture in my life because I get to dance, bond with my daughter and meet the families of my local community, all at the same time. Plus, I’m thoroughly enjoying my daughter thinking I’m the cool dance teacher at school 🥰 I’m also on the board for the Association of Korean Adoptees San Diego (AKASD) where I help organize and support the Korean Adoptee (KAD) community here in SD and nationwide. Several KAD friends encouraged me to join Ajumma EXP so this dance is for them!
Jodie (in turquoise shirt on left) performing with her Heartlight kids at SDSU's halftime show in November 2022.
I also enjoy live theater, visiting National Parks, hiking, camping, dancing, singing, reading and racing triathlons.
WHAT DOES BEING AN AJUMMA MEAN TO YOU?
I consider myself a novice Ajumma since I didn’t grow up with Korean culture, but I’m doing my best to learn from the wonderful Ajummas around me. Being an Ajumma means doing what’s best for myself and my family without shame or guilt. It means creating joyful moments everyday even when my to-do list isn’t complete. It means learning something new and difficult (currently learning how to play the piano with my daughter 🤩). It means getting to know myself and falling in love with ME. It means eating raw garlic cloves with my breakfast. It means napping, often. Being a part of such a positive and supportive group of energetic, beautiful and interesting women gives me ALLLL the feels and it’s giving me the push I want for my next decade of motherhood! THANK YOU Ajumma EXP!
AJUMMAS ARE KNOWN TO HAVE SUPER-HUMAN STRENGTH AND EXTRAORDINARY ABILITIES. WHAT IS YOUR AJUMMA SUPER-POWER?
Many friends say I’m fearless. I can see why they say this since I often take charge and hop in the drivers seat easily. I’d call it an extraordinary ability to fake it 'til I make it.
WHAT IS ONE OF THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES YOU'VE OVERCOME?
Learning how to be a parent, hands down! And I wouldn’t say I’ve overcome it since parenting still challenges me EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. I literally had no idea what I was getting into when my daughter popped out. Thankfully, I know more now and I will say that since my kids are not wild toddlers anymore, I don’t bury my head in my pillow and scream as much as I used to. Life was pretty scary a couple years ago but now that the kids are older, it’s a relief to have two loving humans who dress themselves and hug me with all their might.
ANY SAGE ADVICE TO LIVE BY?
Be open to feedback. Never think you’ve learned enough. Try something new and difficult every now and then. Set goals.
ANY GUILTY PLEASURE THAT YOU CAN SHARE WITH US?
I’m addicted to Below Deck on Bravo. It’s part modern day Downton Abbey, part Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, part “insert tropical island travel show here”, on super yachts. The show is relatable since I grew up in the service industry and I love the ocean/beach/island destinations. I also once worked on a sail boat with one of the most eccentric captains I’ve ever met shortly after moving to San Diego. But THAT is another story.
AND FINALLY, WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE KOREAN FOOD?
Bulgogi!!! My mom learned to cook several Korean dishes including Bulgogi and even Kimchi when I was little. I still remember the special marinating container that she used to marinate the beef in the sweet sesame infused soy sauce. And of course the smell of bulgogi is second to none! I love it and my kids do, too