Lessons Learned from Keeping an Art Journal

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Years ago when I was living alone, I would paint on canvas with acrylics. I loved it. I’d put on a rotation of classical music or dinner party jazz on Spotify, pour myself a glass of red wine and spend hours creating art pieces, some that were eventually trashed but a few that ended up hanging on my walls.

Then I became involved in a serious relationship, and when he moved in, there was no more space for my easel, canvases, and array of paints and brushes. I hated to do it, but I had to give up on my hobby of painting, and it’s been that way for the past three years. Continue reading

“You’re Not the Only One” – Going to a Concert Solo

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Encore at the James Taylor concert, Washington, DC. July 2017.

Your regrets aren’t what you did, but what you didn’t do. So I take every opportunity.
—Cameron Diaz

American society still makes a big deal out of doing things solo. Table for one? It can be done, but you’ll still get looks. At the movies alone? We’re getting better at accepting this practice, but it’s still strange. Going to a concert by yourself? Hmmm.

My five years spent living overseas taught me how to quickly get over any insecurities about doing things alone. I ate out by myself often. When my friends weren’t available or interested in seeing a particular movie, I’d go by myself. Traveling alone (even if it was on the way to meeting someone somewhere for vacation) also meant doing things solo temporarily. The point being, I got used to it very quickly and brought my comfort in this practice back with me to the United States. Since then, I have gone to weddings alone, movies alone, dinner alone and art galleries alone, but until this weekend, a concert alone was a first. Continue reading

Living a Quality Life – #3

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Reunited with my former colleague, Mr. Lee.

Among the many people I had a chance to reconnect with while in Korea was a former co-worker of mine, Mr. Lee. I know Mr. Lee from my days working for the Busan-Jinhae governments where we were both part of the Singapore, New York, and Dubai delegations. It was wonderful to have the chance to catch up with him after all these years. Like me, a lot has happened in his life and career since we last saw one another. Continue reading

Breaking Down and Floating Up

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It’s been a tough week. Actually, it’s been a tough month. So tough that to my horror, I found myself silently in tears on the bus ride to work Thursday morning. It came out of nowhere, and I was horrified when I realized what was happening. It’s not like I was sobbing in a fit of hysteria, but there were definitely quiet tears streaming down my face. I did what I could to pull it together. Act like an adult, I told myself. Grow some thicker skin. Don’t be such a child, and pull yourself together. And while that sort of worked, it wasn’t what I needed to truly get back on track; it was only a temporary fix that was just long enough to stop the tears. The stress, frustration and disappointment continued to hound me throughout the week. Continue reading

In a Life Full of Routine, How to Rediscover Joy

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Years ago I picked up the hobby of card-making. I basically taught myself all I knew, which wasn’t much, but enough to keep me entertained. I would spend hours making (and eventually using) my own creations, experimenting with different patterns, cardstock, papers, and embellishments such as ribbons, stickers, and stamps. It was great fun and provided me with hours of creativity.

But after a while it started to fall by the wayside. Continue reading

Four Lessons I’ve Learned from a Week with the Flu

It really did take me by surprise. I knew I was going at an accelerated pace since the start of the new year, but it wasn’t non-stop like it was before. There was that nice long break between Christmas Eve and the first working day of the new year; there was the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday and the day off for the presidential inauguration. So when I came down with a horrendous cough, sore throat, laryngitis and complete exhaustion, frustration was the first thing I felt.

I was frustrated that my ridiculous pace of life had been interrupted. I was frustrated by the fact that I didn’t recover after one day of working from home and even more frustrated when there was little improvement after a day working from home and a day at home not working and resting. Why wasn’t I getting better?

The fact of the matter was, one does not get better by simply working from home versus working in the office (because at the end of the day, work is work and your body is pretty much put through the same washer cycle no matter where your office is), nor is one day of complete rest enough to recover from the flu, even if you did get your flu shot. It finally hit me today, on Day 3 of Being Sick, that recovery requires complete dedication of the mind and body, in order to occur.

So as I have been confined to the bed with little energy to do more than watch BBC nature documentaries and nap, I have also learned four valuable lessons that I should transfer to my daily life, even during my healthy days: Continue reading

The Value of Long-Term Projects

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In the documentary 20 Feet from Stardom, the musician Sting comments on today’s trend of achieving instant fame through reality TV shows like “American Idol.” He says he feels that those who have reached stardom through such shows miss out on the spiritual journey artists from his generation and before had to experience on their road to fame and fortune. It’s not that it’s a bad thing, but perhaps a sad thing: a rite of passage and a period of personal growth seems to have been lost as many of today’s celebrities don’t get to experience that journey.  Continue reading