pink buds & ban chan

Today is day 20 for us here in the Boston area. School is out until May 4th (for now). It has been interesting to watch my husband run his high school from our kitchen table while I work in the studio to close down Squam for the year, a larger task than you might imagine. 

The reddish buds on the trees are slaying me right now and their rosy hues are lifting my heart just enough. 

Yesterday was a little heavy and restless and cold. I may have had leftover apple crisp for breakfast. We did get out for a short walk around the neighborhood, down the rail trail and around the nearby scenic mall. This book caught my eye in a Little Free Library down the street, and I'm thinking of going back for it. 

I also made the hour long trip to our local(ish) Korean supermarket to stock up on a bit of ban chan and noodles and kimchee. It felt very different than our neighborhood supermarket. Everyone was wearing masks and gloves were being handed out to customers at the door. The intensity of the current situation felt ever more present and I noticed there were very few caucasian faces in the unusually thin crowd. I can only imagine how exponentially hard the Asian community is being hit by all of this.

As a small treat, I bought these cute little sharing dishes for all of our sides. Along with some of our favorites, (sautéed spinach, sweet + salty soy beans, spicy and pickled radish, fish cakes, dried spicy anchovies, sesame cucumbers, pickled ginger), the colors and flavors neatly served up in these little bowls was quite satisfying and much enjoyed. 

It's the small and easy things that are making me smile these days, including the teenager's evil genius April fools prank of relocating everything in our kitchen, overnight. We woke up this morning to a fruit bowl full of spices and every pantry shelf mixed up with things not where they're supposed to be. I'll give it to him, he did make us laugh! It took me forever to put the groceries away and find the clementines.

What is brightening your days?

vitamin sea

On Saturday, we made our way up the coast headed to one of our favorite parks only to learn once we crossed the MA/NH border that all public beaches and parks in NH are now officially closed. There was forboding yellow caution tape cordoning off all the main parking lots on the drive up. Still, there were lots of people out walking along the craggy sidewalks and even a few surfers riding the swells. I imagine it won't be long before our state institutes the same rule, as it seems everywhere people continue to congregate. Our neighbors even had a little block party going on Friday, which we decidedly avoided.

In our last bid for some open air and sunshine before several days of rain rolled in, we found a place to pull off the scenic overlook along route 1A and climbed down to explore the rocky shoreline. The waves were wild and the air was briny, and it felt good to be swallowed up by the sound and rhythm of the sea. Alex and Athen skipped rocks for a good long while, and Owen and I hunted for heart rocks and the perfect ones to paint. Seems we often pair of this way - those two, two peas in a pod, energetic, extroverted - and my oldest and I of similar constitution, quietly internal, and creative in our own way. 

It was a good day for an impromptu picnic of local fried scallops and clams, which was a total treat to not have to cook, as the constant meal prep is now a thing. We're limiting the number of meals we take out contemplating the different exponential risks of going to a busy grocery store (where they are now spraying down carts between uses) vs. supporting our local restaurants who are taking safer precautions, like call ahead car-side drop off where they put your food on the hood of your car and go. 

On Sunday as the rain arrived, there were Voxers with friends, a funny family game of Pictionary that worked really well over Zoom - with the grandparents in Mexico and cousins in California - which made us all laugh and felt like a lifeline, homemade apple crisp and spanakopita - two easy recipes I know by heart, a movie date for the four of us (this new one, which we all enjoyed), and time spent on the various projects each of us are working on.

Mostly the weekend was good, except for the bits of really bad news that seep in and a make me catch my breath and the sirens I now notice in the background. Though I also now hear the church bells that ring in the evening, and knowing others nearby can hear their sound too brings a kind of comfort.

We are pretty content existing in our own bubble and this I know, in and of itself, is something to be very grateful for. We're doing our best to keep the germs, the worst news and worry at bay. It's a moment to moment thing. So far we're all okay.


Its been a week. 

It feels like everything and nothing at the same time. And while it feels like some kind of rhythm is slowly revealing itself as the days stack up one on top of the next, things still seem completely strange and surreal. Life looks familiar on the surface... my decaf with almond milk in the morning, the time puttering and working in the studio, moments laughing and cooking with my kids, the spring buds on the trees... but something about it doesn't feel like my life at all.

I'm back to practicing daily gratitude. It's a touchstone that feels important right now. All those years ago when I started filling notebooks with the small bits of wonder I was grateful for, before it was the trendy thing Oprah was encouraging us all to do, it felt like the natural way to help me root deeper into my own joy. I've had this lovely blank journal sitting on my shelf, and seeing it as I rummaged around for things to create with, it seemed like the perfect time to dive back in. The invitation was clear: Five things every day. Another solid rhythm. Another sure thing when certainty is in such high demand.

That's how I'm feeling about schedules and routines in general. To me they're not a means for production or a measure for earning one's keep, but a tool for predictability, stability and care. We do our work in the morning (whatever the kids want to do, and I'm fine with that). We get outside in the afternoon. We rest in the evening and come together at the end of the day for laughter and maybe a game of some sort. It's the small things too. The new grocery list on the counter catching everyone's requests, the sound of the dishwasher at 7pm, a clean kitchen before we goto bed. These are holding us, providing comfort and more space to breathe.

Getting outside has been absolute medicine. Once off the main path we go for miles without seeing another human. We are discovering new trails all over our area and the light through the bare trees has been warm and welcoming. There is treasure tucked everywhere, and the kids are back in their pursuit of cache. Maybe we will finally plant the one we intended, the box we bought in a little army supply shop downtown Mystic on a family road trip years ago, somehow also a capsule for this time.

Yesterday we stumbled upon a tiny small pox plot deep in the woods, unmarked and almost just a whisper of something very old if not for the small identifying sign. The light was beautiful and the stillness felt sacred - we have come through such things as humans before.

I'm struck by the thought that this will be the defining moment of my kid's childhood. An indelible moment at age 10 and 16. It will be - already is - the stuff of legend. What I hope they will most remember was how we rallied together as a family and got each other through, how we tried to make a difference for others. How others showed up and came through for us. How we laughed even though there were tears, and how we gained something important we could have never received any other way.  

I said to Alex on the ride home, I hope we learn the lessons, talking about us as an entire species. After reading this hard truth and then bursting into tears. I hope something good comes from all this suffering. And, kindness and love and generosity are absolutely all around and keeping me afloat. Thank you Colleen for gifting me these perfect colors and words. Breath and layers and all.

the year there was no squam

sunrise on the dock at Eldorado, Fall 2019

Following yesterday morning's announcement that there will be no Squam Art Workshops in the year 2020, the first time since its inception in 2008, I spent the day quietly grieving while also holding space for other people's wide range of emotions, side by side.

The outpouring of love, support and solidarity has been incredible, even overwhelming at times, and I've been so touched and inspired by all the different ways kindness and love has found a way to hold us in these uncertain times.

I have no better or more eloquent words at the moment. I am working as best I can to process all of the feelings and outcomes as things continue to shift and move beneath our feet. What I do know for sure is as we continue to navigate the devastating impact Covid19 will have on all of us as a community, a country, and an entire culture, I am certain of this deep and abiding truth: creativity and community will always be my way of life, what sustains me through the darkest times and what helps me find my way back into the light. And I carry that light within me in many ways, because of Squam. For that, I am ever so grateful.

full moon behind Long House, Fall 2019

the beauty in the mess

Yesterday was hard and strange and sweet and mostly, in the end, full of love. The day started with a thermometer in my mouth as I had had a low fever the night before. Of course that sent me down the Google rabbit hole asking all the questions one does when you worry about a virus infiltrating your bubble of safety (not a great thing to do before bed during a pandemic). No fever the next morning though, and today I feel as normal as can be expected, which is to say physically I think I'm okay. I wonder what it would read if we were able to take our emotional temperature, kind of like the way Mary Poppins could size up people with her magical measuring tape. Mine might read: sunny and steadfast with a chance of meltdown.

Without a schedule I find myself working a little every day, where I used to keep weekends pretty sacred to family time. Since every day is now family time (I'll leave it up to you to contextualize this in any sweet or snarky way ;) it seems all the minutes are sort of jumbled together with a little bit of everything thrown into the mix, and I find myself often asking, "what day is it anyway?". 

My kids, for now, both seem to be doing fairly well. They are pretty grounded and resourceful humans, and despite their typical sibling behavior - read, fighting - they are both finding other outlets for their time. We had our second family therapy session online, which was both genius and a novel experience. For anyone with kids interested in resources about how to deal with anxiety as it pertains to family systems (seen as not just as one individual's problem), Lynn Lyons has some really excellent books and videos for all ages. This week we are working together on naming and externalizing our worries and creating a reward system for the Wall of Flexibility.

Amidst the low-grade worry, there are moments like these that feel like a gift. We've been expanding our repertoire or recipies and eating more meals together - yesterday we made vegan pasta bolognese and later, easy kimchee pancakes from scratch and veggie dumplings from the freezer (Trader Joes has really yummy ones), and the boys baked oatmeal chocolate chip cookies together. If you know me you know I hate to bake, so this always makes me super happy. And really, what sexier than your partner making you homemade treats? Maybe my boys will bake for their loves someday.

a prayer from mother earth

even when you feel like you're walking the path alone

wisdom and grace are all around  

we are all part of it's ancient truth

the beauty, the light, the growth and perseverance

there are always unexpected doorways and bridges to discover

and new life that brings hope for all there is to come

there's room for all of your feelings

As I was driving around yesterday, being sent to one pharmacy after the next to hunt down my prescription (finally got it filled at CVS #3 several towns over), I couldn't help but notice how good I was feeling. I had just gone for a long walk, the windows were down and the warm spring breeze was streaming in and I had the music loud and I was singing along. Then what started creeping is was guilt - "this is no time to feel good, people are suffering and everything is uncertain." I felt like the girl inappropriately smiling at a funeral.

It touched on exactly what a creative friend said to me yesterday as well, about how she was wrestling with whether or not to move forward with sharing uplifting content when the world was feeling so doom and gloom. It made me pause and wonder if I too should be careful about being too sunny. And so I've been musing on these questions ever since.  

Where I landed, what feels like the wisest medicine to me, is that all of our feelings are valid. Not just now in this time of crisis, but always. When I was deep in the hardest grief of my life mourning the loss of my marriage, I remember there were also moments of joy and playfulness and contentment and things that made me laugh out loud. None of those discounted the difficult season I was in, or negated my sadness, or made it any less valid or true. It's the same way I felt watching the woman who just lost her husband dance at his funeral, and how that made me smile. 

Because the truth is, we are never all one thing. We are dynamic, multifaceted, complex human beings with lots of feelings. I'd be lying if I said that I haven't felt fear and anxiety in all of this fallout, but I also feel inspired and motivated and grounded and deeply accepting of where we are in all this uncertainty. 

I think the discernment for me is this;  while I share what's good I have to also acknowledge and empathize with what is also really hard. To recognize pain is to also embrace joy. To make space for dancing and love is to also honor the tears and the times we fall apart. To play in color is to also invite the gray. Life is simply all of it, and usually many different things at the same time.

And... we are not all in the same emotional place or having the same experience. Ever. And it's all okay.

So here's my truth today. I'm living inside of color and want to share that with you. I also deeply feel the darkness sometimes, and when I do I'll still tell you what is real and true. But for now, the music is playing, creative projects are humming along, my energy and inspiration are flowing and I am so happy and grateful to be here in this space, if only for this moment, with you. 

Thanks so much for being here with whatever truth you are carrying in your heart today. There is room for it all. 

a little something something

Something I'm reading :: All You Can Ever Know, a memoir by a fellow Korean American adoptee and her search for her birth family. I've been reading it in small doses because so much of it feels like words I could have written myself. Nicole articulates her experiences and her story so beautifully. What medicine it is to hear other adoptee's voices. And also, this book is for anyone who has ever struggled with love and family and a search for belonging.

Something I'm Making :: Knitting up a quick pair of these mitts in this delicious hot pink Blue Sky yarn (in Lotus), that I grabbed while at Purl Soho in January. A modern twist on what Claire would have worn. I also finally used the yarn swift to roll my first ball of yarn - that was fun (Hazel thought so too).

Something I'm Watching :: Alex and I are catching up on Season 5 of The Magicians (a kind of Harry Potter for grown ups), and I'm still musing on this previous quote, "What if the bravest thing you can do is be who you are and accept the consequences?". On my own, I'm two episodes in to the new series, Little Fires Everywhere based on the book by Celeste Ng (whose first novel I loved as well). It's such an interesting, powerful, and poignant look at motherhood through the lenses of race, class and culture. Have your kleenex ready. Trying to slowly savor the episodes. 

Something I Got :: Society6 was having a big sale, so I finally ordered a bunch of my own art merchandise as I haven't seen any of it in person since creating the listings a few years ago. I've always wanted to have some things on hand to give as gifts etc. I also realized after placing my order, that part of the sale gets kicked back to my own account - funny to be my own customer! Stay tuned for a fun giveaway! And thank you to those of you who have purchased things from me in the past. I'm truly grateful, and now thinking about new things to create.

Something I'm Learning :: I recently decided to try Trello, a multimodal organizational tool, to help me wrangle all my work with Squam. I love it's colorful interface, its customizability and its integrations that allow you to connect external document and links. I needed something on my computer that felt more right-brained and a little less linear than lists of files and folders. We shall see. I also still love and use my Planner Pad to organize my week to week.

Something I'm Cooking :: When I was single and living on a tiny weekly food budget of $38 (a story for another day), this dish was one of my easiest and yummiest one-dish, go to's. It's fairly quick and cheap, uses up any veggies in the fridge, and my boys both love it! I generally don't measure (I cook the way I paint ;) So here is the basic recipe that you can adjust to your taste. The trick is to season each layer well so it doesn't taste bland and also isn't not too salty.

House Fried Rice

2c rice
2 eggs
sesame oil
olive oil
low sodium soy sauce
salt, pepper, garlic, chili flakes to taste
your favorite chopped veggies
1c of your favorite protein
something for crunch (soy bean sprouts, nori crumbles, nuts, sesame seeds)
a large skillet or wok

1. Cook rice as instructed (I love my rice cooker as it makes perfect rice every time)

2. Fry both eggs breaking the yolk and set aside. Cook your protein, and set aside. Be sure to season both with a bit of salt, pepper and garlic.

3. Chop veggies and over med-high heat stir fry to tender-crisp using approx. 1Tbsp. each of sesame and olive oil, and a drizzle of soy sauce to taste. Season with salt pepper and garlic.

4. Add the cooked rice to the veggies. Drizzle generously with soy sauce. Sprinkle with salt pepper, garlic and chili flake. Add a final drizzle of sesame oil for flavor and mix together.

5. Finish by adding in your eggs roughly chopped and your protein.

6. Serve with your crunchy toppings on the side for people to add their own, and any sauces you might like - condiments are a food group in this house (sriracha, bibim bap sauce, bulgogi bbq sauce, teriyaki) - I like mine plain. We also often have kimchee in the house to have with it as well.


times like these

One thing I am realizing, more so than usual under these strange circumstances, is that I am so content to have no externally imposed schedule. I've noticed I've been going to bed later, getting up without an alarm whenever my body decides it's time, and not always in need of what usually is a daily nap. Mostly, I feel more embodied, inspired, and activated without the constraint of so many outside demands. I can actually hear and feel my own rhythms and needs a bit more, even with all four of us at home. It's true, I thrive without structure and all this slow and spacious living is totally agreeing with me.

This is not to say that if you are among the extroverts of the world, or those who need predictability and routine to function, I totally feel you and empathize with how difficult and counterintuitive things must feel right now. Also, anxiety and isolation are real and intersectional based on your social location and access to things like a month's worth of TP and healthcare. I know my privilege is great under these circumstances, and I am trying to reconcile and leverage what I have. Using my creative energy to connect with others feels like a good place to start. This little blog project isn't just for my own sanity and self expression, it's also to reach out and help other people feel less alone. 

So today, while also musing on such existential things (welcome to my brain), I'll be working on a fun textile project for Squam. I've got collaging and painting set up on the studio table so it's easy to just dive in when the desire strikes. Maybe it will even entice my kids to make something, but I'm also trying to let go of daily agendas and let them rest and feel into their own rhythms and needs as well. I think it's probably a lot harder if you have young children, and feel really grateful that this is happening in this current moment when my kids can goto the bathroom on their own and feed themselves if they have to. Ten and sixteen are so much easier on the daily-living home front. Just want to name that for you mamas (and dads) in the trenches of parenthood. And there is also this reality which had me cracking up this morning, but so far so good. Day 7 and I still love my husband and boys ;)

We are also getting outside as much as we can. It's total medicine and resets any restless, cranky energy. Yesterday we hiked the Ghost Trail and the kids found all but one of the hidden geocaches along the way. We also weren't sad to discover that at the end of the trail was an open Dairy Queen take out window. In times like these, sprinkles are magic.

the way back machine

It has been a while since I have moved paint around on a page, and last night the urge hit. I just allowed myself to follow the easy flow of choosing 3 colors and smearing them together, then making a few marks in my notebook. Nothing fancy. All joy.

I've also been combing through my stacks of magazines and old copies of Artful Blogging, searching for inspiration, artists to follow and old bloggers still sharing their creative lives. Of course I had to add a few collage bits as well. Maybe I need to go pick up a current issue. Hmm...

There's really something quite extraordinary that I can't quite put my finger on yet, to all this reflecting and reconnecting. What was once old feels like a bridge, a pathway full of wisdom and gifts, to something new and important to bring forward for these times. 

It's been through this excavation that I remembered the Way Back Machine, where I've able to recover 5 years of blogging archives and see many of my previous blogs and websites! Seriously, I was giddy over the discovery. Such a total and unexpected gift. I just though all those were lost. I'm uploading them all bit by bit to the archives here so they will all live in one place, and have been thrown way back down memory lane with each one. Wow. Giving myself a big dose of self compassion reading some of those early words, and also celebrating what a huge journey it truly has been! It's all part of who I am today.

If nothing else, all of this has reignited that simple creative spark I've been missing - to create simply for the sake of creating. There is nothing like tapping into that wondrous pull and shiny curiosity of ones own creative heart. I'd forgotten. I'm excited to see how it all unfolds and enjoy the sweet and slow process along the way.

blooming in the dark

It's officially day 5 of the shut down.

I woke up extra early this morning and couldn't fall back to sleep. So instead of laying in bed awake, just before 5am I headed out for a walk. One of the sweet things about where we live now is that downtown is just a block away. We haven't ventured out too much yet, as the weather is still giving us wintery days - even a bit of snow this morning. Still, I was motivated to get out ahead of the rain to capture the stillness of the early hours and get some fresh air.

 my favorite magnolia tree in front of our library
I always look forward to its blooming

empty streets and twinkle lights

I'm grateful for so many things as we prepare to hunker down for who knows how long, and I can't help but think how if this were last March I would be completely out of a job at the local restaurant I was waitressing at to make ends meet as a single mom. How things have changed in such a short amount of time. So it felt good help Alex stuff envelopes from his school filled with grocery store gift cards for his student's families and think about other ways I might be able to help.

Even if this little blog project helps connect people as well as share more resources and inspiration, that feels pretty good. I've started adding links to other blogs who've said they'll be sharing bits of life in the days ahead (yay - thanks so much!), as well as some of my current inspiring reads. Some slower sinking in feels like just the right antidote.

And so it's on to filling the days with rest, with work, with creating and connecting, family time, and now highly coveted alone time, and maybe some of the things I say I never have time to do. Seems like all we have now is time. And also, I think it's absolutely stellar wisdom to not feel like we are required to do anything extra to perform or earn our worth in all this down time. Go read Isabel Abbott's words on the interwebs if you aren't convinced. Maybe we need to master the fine art of rest and spaciousness more than anything.

I'm open to all the possibilities of what this grand experiment may bring to light, for sure.