Monday, September 28, 2015

Death, Rebirth and Our Time to Shine With True Colors

For my 33rd birthday I received a special gift from a special person.

It made me happy because 1) he knew I was always misplacing hair clips, 2) it was beautiful and 3) the symbolic meaning of peacocks is a very lovely sentiment.

According to this site, there is lore of the Peacock as associated with Quan Yin in Asian spirituality. Quan Yin is also an emblem of love, compassionate watchfulness, good-will, nurturing, and kind-heartedness. Legend tells us she chose to remain a mortal even though she could be immortal because she wished to stay behind and aid humanity in their spiritual evolution.

Additionally, the peacock is also considered in Chinese culture as a manifestation of the heavenly phoenix on Earth. The phoenix has an interesting story behind it as well. The legend goes that this resplendent, mythical bird can live for centuries before dying in a burst of flames. Though it's said that it never truly dies. It is reborn, resurrected from the ashes. It really embodies the message of the cyclical nature of life and constancy.

Stephanie Pui-Mun Law created the Shadowscapes tarot deck, and it is beautifully illustrated. One of my favorite illustrations in the deck was her depiction of the Death card. Typically, the Death card is one that many people find discomfort with because they mainly attribute the very literal meaning of death, that being the end of one's life. And it doesn't especially put people at ease that typical illustrations of the Death card feature the Grim Reaper with his giant scythe. But as I said, the Death card is not as scary as it seems. While yes, it could signify something like the death or end of a cycle, that leaves room for a new beginning, or rebirth. That's  why I love that in Shadowscapes deck the artist decided to use the image of the phoenix. It may signify that a chapter is coming to a close, but you should not fear it for a new chapter begins.

Death from Stephanie Pui-Mun Law's Shadowscape deck
I look at my life now and how many things are different, and how scary it felt when it seemed like it was all changing too fast. But now, I've grown into a person who is stronger, kinder and more open and it's something I'm really proud of. It makes me feel like every time I go through ups or downs that by persevering I will bounce back, each time becoming a more radiant and much truer version of myself. I also think about people who have come and gone, and will come and go, and I'm thankful for the time I have been given here on this earth.
(Image from Landeelu)
Beyond the gift of the clip, he has also given me the gift of being able to call him a blessing in my life. :)

Saturday, October 11, 2014

A Sheep in Wolf's Clothing

I write in my journal a bit. A physical journal, like pen and paper. I highly recommend it at as a regular practice. Just write how you feel, even if it is irrational, even if it doesn't make sense, even if it trails off -- it's only for you, so there's no reason it has to be anything more than you want it to be. I find it's been helpful in just the initial airing out of grievances, but also it's been helpful for me to find patterns. As a result, I am more apt to cut things out quickly if I know it to be a bad pattern. I also find it helps me to be more observant in general, and as a result, more considerate not just to myself but others as well.

I encountered a situation some time ago that upon happening to me solidified what path I want to be on. I don't have one set path, but I'm trying to open up the right ones and close off as many of the wrong ones. I had a quote I loved from Honey and Clover:

I realized why I was lost. It's not because I didn't have a map... 

It was because I didn't have a destination.

Finding your own true path and making no excuses about it may be a long process, but I find that the more I work towards that, regardless how "close" I think I am to it, every step along the way feels more and more free. I'm really happy with my journey so far -- it has ups and downs, and it'll never be perfect, but that's ok; it's not suppose to be. It's my journey, using my own compass -- and I'll continue being grateful for it, because every day I am easily reminded of how lucky I am to have the people who care for me, who I care for, the opportunities I am given, the challenges I can overcome, the luxuries I have, the life I am choosing...

The entry was written more than a year ago probably, and goes as such...

To me you are a sheep in wolf's clothing. You appear to be wild and strong. You talk a good game about being worldly, reflective, deep... but I see you now. You are shallow. But that isn't enough for you. You are also a coward. 

I saw you watch as some other man danced with the girl you wish you knew how to be with. You had a sheepish look on your face and never have I "nope"d harder. It was a pathetic sight to see that you're an errant dog hoping to pick up the scraps.

This is who you are. It cannot be unseen, but I am glad. I am further freed.

A little angsty, but it's allowed to be. It actually paired really well with this song, which I had on super repeat for awhile. (They are a fantastic band)

To me, the lyrics really encapsulated that feeling of a veil being lifted and really seeing someone with clear eyes. It was sad, but a little validating -- which is a rude thing to say, I know.

"o, i thought your beauty was ugly. 
i concluded that it wasn't pretty. not to me. 
o, i thought your beauty was ugly. 
you were hoping to make something to outweigh suffering. 
you were trying to fake something like in the movies. 
now i'm trying to make something worth remembering. "

Who it was or wasn't doesn't matter. It may not even be real -- you don't know. But what I gained from it is very real. I don't know what the future holds, but I'm resolute in finding it in my time in my own way.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Race Card Project

I recently took part in The Race Card Project.

It was a project to be a conversation starter on the topic of Race. People are being asked to think about their experiences, questions, hopes, dreams, laments or observations about race and identity. Then, they take those thoughts and distill them to just one sentence that has only six words.

People can expand upon their sentence with more background if they like, but it's interesting to see just in six words what people have to say.

I submitted one titled "Don't ask me "What are you?"

Alternative title could also be "I hate the Asian Guessing Game."

I really don't mind people being curious about my ethnicity. What I do mind is how people go about finding out my ethnicity. "Are you Chinese? Japanese? Korean?...[list goes on]" Believe me, they'll keep going until I stop them.
And they will get some sense of relief because now they know. I am Vietnamese and no you can't "tell" that I am Vietnamese by looking at me; I can't tell who else is Vietnamese just by looking at them. At any rate, if I don't stop one soon enough with "No, I'm Vietnamese," I have been asked "What are you?" 

What a loaded question! Reasonable answers are:

- a Human
- a Woman
- a Sister
- a Daughter
- a UT Alum with an Advertising Degree
- a Gamer
- a Fully Employed Project Manager
- a Spirited Austinite with a Penchant for Making Cards, Cooking with Friends, and Loving Her Life and the Important People In It

What Am I? Sick and tired of answering that question in particular, that’s what. 

I know that this is rant-y -- I just worry that some people don't want to know me, but know "my people" just using me as a basis. I was born in Brenham, Texas (where they make Blue Bell ice cream), yes I am Vietnamese, but I certainly can't be your only representative sample.

As I mentioned, I actually don't mind when someone is curious about myself or my culture. As someone who is always fascinated with learning about other cultures, I think that is always empowering to introduce yourself to more and more perspectives in life. In turn, I know that I also need to work harder when I encounter people whose approach to learning about culture is different than what I'd prefer.

I try to be very patient, but sometimes when someone catches me on the wrong day... I just can't. I was at Radioshack a few months back and the guy behind the counter kept trying to start awkward conversations and bless his heart I'm sure he is an alright person, but shopping for me at a place like Radioshack is very transactional. I only want the one weird battery that I can't get at the normal store; that's it. I'm pleasant enough though. Anyways, he rings me up at the counter and as I am swiping my credit card he just nonchalantly says "Ohayo~."


Go away
Ohayo is a Japanese greeting. And he didn't even say it to me, he looked everywhere but at me when he said it. I guess he's feeling me out to see if I respond... it means he can determine if I am or know Japanese, without actually engaging me by asking a question. Honestly, if he looked at my credit card at my "Smith of the Vietnamese Last Names" (Nguyen) and greeted me in Vietnamese -- even that would be totally cool. You used your power of deduction and I can appreciate that. But that's not what happened.

I don't employ it often, but I actually have good deadpan delivery for comedic situations such as these. I look him in the eye and I ask, "Do you mean like the state?" Then he goes on to babble about how it was Japanese and he only said it because he saw something that reminded him of it. (Perhaps the one Asian person in the store) The whole exchange felt like a scene in a Wes Anderson film, or at least that's how I like to imagine it. Well at least he didn't try and sell me a new cellphone plan like they usually do the one time a year I go. That was an "opportunity" for me, I suppose... but I am just going to chalk it up to he wasn't being malicious, just a little awkward this time.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Journey of 1,000 Cranes (final)

I actually finished this some time ago, though I didn't post it (so it's just back-dated on the blog) but ta-daaaa!

#1,000 in hand
I am very proud of my project. I started this journey to enrich and cultivate myself as a person, to grow, to learn, to hope and to show myself that no matter what happens -- with patience and determination anything is possible in life and we should always be thankful for every piece of it; good or bad. :) But before I rush off to the next thing, I've learned the importance of being present during the present time. So I'm going to be happy, enjoy my work and celebrate life with my friends and family. 

Even though this chapter has "finished", my story is far from complete. There's no shortage of things I want to learn. I look forward to what I will be able to do next.

Thanks for being part of this journey. :)

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

An Ixnay on the Wishing for More Wishes

Or unofficially -- Journey of 1,000 Cranes (part five)

It only takes a couple minutes to fold each crane, yet the last few I just haven't been able to fold. 

I've been asked if I am delaying it because I am not ready for the project to end and am frozen. I'm not; I'm actually quite excited. But I have found that lately each time I sat down to fold them, I just didn't have the heart to do it. I guess you could call it a funk, but it really only pertained to this. I've been doing lots of fun things that have really inspired me, spending lots of time with awesome friends and having lots of quiet time for myself.

This has been a very happy project for me -- it may have originally been born out of a darker place, but I've been able to grow it and transform it into something very positive for myself.

I've held on to the last origami paper for days now... and on it I wrote "I wish" -- I figured that was a placeholder until I figured out my big plans on what I would finish that sentence with.

I actually over-nerded this a little... I thought about what kind of conversation I would have with a genie if they existed. He would probably get really annoyed with me because I wouldn't use my wishes right away, I think I'd just ask him things all day. How many times has the genie been summoned? Is he a slave to the lamp as punishment for something? Do all genies long to be freed, like in Aladdin? In pie chart format, tell me what most people wish for. How has it turned out for them? Maybe the people who asked for more money got it, but then people plotted to have them offed for the inheritance. How terrible.

Whether or not a wish would even come true, I still think about the repercussions of asking for certain things. It'd be silly to wish for material things, things that are within my ability to obtain if I really wanted them. (3DS w/Animal Crossing in June, woop woop) Even other temporal things like fame, fortune, beauty... wouldn't they all come with a different price to pay? I've also thought about what if you for wished for something but never got it? Would you feel cheated or disappointed? (You shouldn't) Or wished for something and got it, but then you realized it wasn't what you really wanted?

I watched a really sweet movie over the weekend. It's a Japanese film called I Wish, and it's about two young brothers who live separated in different cities and dream of reuniting. When one learns that a new bullet train line will soon open, linking the two towns, he starts to believe that a miracle will take place the moment these new trains first pass each other at top speed. So he and his brother, with their friends, set out on a journey, each hoping to witness a miracle that will improve their difficult lives.

It was a really endearing coming of age story. In it you see the wishes that the kids made -- some wishes evolved into something else as the movie progressed, some wished for things that were within their ability, some that were ungrantable... and everyone kind of coming to terms with what they were asking for.

The culmination of everyone's hopes and dreams being expressed on this grand adventure was really touching.

It's funny though... I thought I knew exactly what I was going to wish for long ago. My wish would have been for a lifetime of happiness. But like anything in life, sometimes you think you know exactly what you're going to do with something and then you'll find that things take a different turn. Because as I looked at my other current projects -- the bedroom floor with pictures of the people I care about ready to be collaged, the craft room that looks like Hobby Lobby threw up in it from all the thank you cards I made for the countless folks who have touched my life (which still won't be ready for a bit), ingredients for the meal I wanted to make with my friends... it dawned on me. Pardon the cheesiness, but I am absolutely surrounded by happiness. Sure, tough/sad times will happen, but that's ok. It's inevitable and necessary. And sometimes really great things are born out of conflict. We need the contrast every now and again to remind us to really cherish the times that are good. So I didn't need to wish for happiness; that's already happening. 

I have ONE left still. Still waiting to find a time to party it up with everyone. Maybe I'll figure it out by then.  :)

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Even in Dreams We Change...

Sometimes I can't tell if I am in touch with reality... I've been having lots of dreams lately that are hitting at the heart of my troubles.

Womp womp wooooomp! Whatever, I like it.

Many have had the same recurring theme, with guest appearances from the same person.  I've been having lots of dreams that I am making peace and getting closure with someone I am at odds with, and when I wake up I feel better.

Who knows what the dream could mean. Many times, dreams are multivalent.

I think dreams can either be
1) premonitions
2) ways for your subconscious to sort things out
3) wish fulfillment or
4) dreams can also just be dreams and mean nothing.

Sometimes people in dreams don't represent the people themselves but an aspect of yourself that they remind you of.

In my dreams, even though I know there is an underlying discord, we are talking very happily. I say what I feel but in a safe environment. I always get the sense that we've crossed a very great divide and come to understand each other. And when I wake up, even though I know that the turning point conversation didn't truly happen, it still makes me feel better.

But I wonder if it's creating a distorted view? Because really, this person in particular hurt me. I think that's just how it goes though... things like closure and forgiveness, they are more for you than the other person most of the time anyways. I think this is just my mind's way of coming to peace with it. Because in life we won't always get that closure, so we have to make it for ourselves so we can move forward on our own.

Just days ago this great post showed up in my feed:

"Don’t wait for someone who hurt you to make it up to you; this kind of thinking only keeps your old wounds from healing.  Waiting for them to change is not the answer.  You have no control over them, and they may never change.

Inner peace is found by changing your thinking, not the people who hurt you.  And you change your thinking for yourself, for your joy, your peace of mind, your own understanding, and your bright future that has nothing to do with this person or what they did to you.

So forgive those who have hurt you in the past, and even more importantly, forgive yourself for allowing them to hurt you.  Then smile like you've never cried, re-open your heart and mind like you've never been hurt, and live the rest of your life like you’re running out of time."

It's funny how sometimes things show up and are just the right amount of relevant to be of use, but still borderline a little creepy.

At any rate... I decided that I'm glad I made peace with this person in my dream. And even though I have very limited contact with this person now, I do still view our time very fondly. People come and go from our lives, have a positive impact on you, but for some reason things change. I'm thankful our paths crossed and that we got the chance to experience something wonderful while it lasted. Sometimes things end but it doesn't make them less amazing. So appreciate what you have now, and smile about the memories. Not everything ends though -- some people will come into your life and will stay for a lifetime. Treasure that. :)

I recently found a song that is on hardcore repeat for me. It's beautiful and captured just the sense of being able to keep something always even when that isn't truly the case. That no matter how much time passes, how much we grow and change, there is something in all of us that wants to keep something pristine and unchanging.

Friday, May 10, 2013

StampingChallenges -- SC19

Here is my latest sketch challenge for Stamping Challenges  (SC19 -- May 10, 2013).  

Each week create a sketch for you to try, and the challenge is for you to interpret it the way you see those elements used -- make substitutions with your creativity!

It's open to everyone, so start stamping with us today.

Here was the sketch to work from:

Here's what I did:

Want to get the materials to make a card similar to this? Visit my store:

For this card I used

Crumb Cake (base)
Whisper White

Lovely Lavender (Retired)
Tea Time (DSP; Retired)


Wonderful Mother