For my husband’s birthday.
Here is my gratitude journal entry for Valentine’s Day eve. Yesterday was a day full of love for me. I had lunch with 3 of my BFFs and we had the opportunity to talk for more than an hour and ate yummy food. After that I was picked up by our Art Association director to help her with a SPARKS program. I’m not sure what the acronym stands for (feel free to google it and let me know), but it is a wonderful program! What we did was give some community members who have memory problems and their family members a tour of our current exhibit. The current exhibit includes art by Jesse Coraggio and Justin Behm. They are young men who grew up in Beaver Dam and went off to get art degrees from UW Steven’s Point. They show a maturity beyond their years in their art. We were inspired to play with watercolors and ink after touring the exhibit. We used white crayons to hide messages on the paper and learned about mixing colors and blowing paint with a straw and a hair dryer. We also added salt to our watercolors to see how Jessie got some of his interesting textures. After they were dry we used a variety of black pens and markers to highlight the negative spaces or draw shapes and words. Everybody was really engaged in the activity and it provided so much rich conversation. I really enjoyed partnering with Jessalyn, too. She is becoming a new BFF!
Today has been all about cats and art. The cats mostly were ornamental and watched me as I played with a lot of different media. I’m creating a window display for a fair trade store that we have in town and it has been really fun. At this point I’m covering boxes of different sizes with paper and gesso. They will display the days of the week when I’m done. Maybe I will take some photos of the process and the product!
What is bringing you joy this Valentine’s Day? Who loves you and who do you love?
Tonight my sweetie and I are having a nice homemade dinner and then off to a concert! Tomorrow we are cleaning at a Buddhist temple. Making mashed potatoes as an act of love. Yum.
If you have been following me for a while you know that I am a fan of Cee’s Photo Challenges. She also does a weekly post called Share Your World and I have considered participating in the past, but this week I decided to plunge in. She poses a series of questions and she, and whoever wants to participate.
If you were on a debate team, what general subject would you relish debating?
In High School I did participate in the forensics program that included debate, but I chose to recite (sometimes my own) poetry. I was pretty good at it because I love poetry. However, I was very shy as a child and debate was way outside of what I was interested in. As I have gotten older I have found the courage, usually because of my passions and interest in social justice, to engage in debate. I have traveled widely and lived on 3 continents. My sons are adopted African Americans. I have health problems of the physical and mental kinds. I have had to advocate for my self and children and have chosen to do it for many others. The last few years race and economic injustice have been the main topics I debate. I have been so privileged in so many ways in my life I feel it is my responsibility to speak for those who can not or who are not invited to the discussion. My methods of debate are usually quiet and private and involve conversations with people who I believe I can teach. Sometimes I have used my blog as an avenue to share my ideas of social justice, but not as much as I thought I would when I started. This is actually a topic I think about a lot when deciding what to write about/post. My health limitations have precluded the energy it takes for me to overcome my desire for privacy and emotional involvement with so many of these topic. So, that may help you see why I chose to participate in this “Share your world.”
What is your strongest sense?
Probably taste, but I think quite a bit about my senses increasingly. Most of this summer I was not able to read for more than a few minutes at a time and most days I was not able to draw at all. Some of my vision issues have improved, but some continue to present challenges. The best thing to come out of this is my increased involvement with photography. It has been tremendously rewarding. My migraines demand that I spend days at a time in what I refer to as my “sensory deprivation tank.” I lay in my dark bedroom with my head packed with ice packs and some very quiet music or on an ok day an audio book. And I pet my cats. Those interactions with my cats (and the support from my husband) are a source of incredible joy and satisfaction to me. So, when you ask my strongest sense, I think all of mine are turned up too high for this world.
At one point I was identified by a food company as a “super-taster” I was selected for a 3 month training program in sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umami (which may have a relationship to my migraines – I think). The training program actually made me too sick to continue into the job. For most of my life I was told I was a wimp when it came to hot foods and it turns out that I experience them differently than many people. Hot was actually characterized as a mouth sensation rather than a flavor and there was a whole education around this, too. Needless to say I really enjoy good food. Some of my friends and family think it is hilarious, but when I was introduced to the concept of mindfulness and eating I felt validated. To me a fresh raspberry can be a revelation. So, from my sensory deprivation days, I can still enjoy one of my strong senses and find great joy in a simple meal.
What would you name the autobiography of your life?
The funny thing about this one is that I have started writing my autobiography. I have had many people tell me I should write a book about my life and I have started to give this some deep thought in my quiet hours. You already know part of the title. Lunanista: Finding Delight in the Darkness. For any more on this you will have to wait to see if/when I finish it!
List your favorite flavors or types of tea.
As you may have guessed by the taste response, I have some ideas here, too! I love hot and cold green and English Breakfast teas, but most black teas are lovely to me. I also love Oolong, as it reminds me of my time living in Asia. I can no longer drink Jasmine tea because the fragrance triggers my migraines. Also, an allergy technician friend of mine recommended that I stop drinking chamomile because it was making my allergies worse. I love almost any tea with mint and have grown my own mint periodically. I love honeybush tea, but it is really difficult to find in my neck of the woods. On a cold day a lovely cup of chai feels like home, too. I also love to make my own fruit syrups to add to my iced teas in the summer. This past summer I made a cherry syrup that is lovely. My mother-in-law has found a place that produces lemon whipped honey that is so lovely in either hot or cold tea.
What are you grateful for from the last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?
Cee includes this question every week and it is part of my personal gratitude practice. I have gotten away from my gratitude journals and hope this will bring me back into it. This past week has been very challenging for me physically. I have some new medical mysteries that have added problems on top of the migraines. Oddly enough, this is where the title of my book came from. I was laying in bed with pain levels at about a 7 or 8 but I was listening to some beautiful music and my little cat came and snuggled right up in my arms. Petting him led him to purr and there was something about that that was just plain wonderful. I have a safe, quiet room and lots of ice packs. My husband is so loving and does what he can to make me feel better – of particular note this week were hand and feet massages. I have been blessed with a group of such wonderful friends and family. They have brought me food and laughter and so much thoughtfulness. My cup runneth over. Next week I have an important medical test and a followup with my neurologist about some other tests I have had and I have hope that we will find answers or better questions. (But really I want answers). I look forward to delicious meals with loved ones. Purring cats. Renewing my gratitude journal practice. Laughter, music, books and moments of peace and joy. May you have peace and joy in the coming week as well.
What an amazing year. One of the best parts of this year is having 4 completed gratitude journals to remind me of all the blessings of this past year. For my last journal entry of the year I wrote words and phrases in layers of some of the highlights for me. This photograph of my husband is a fabulous metaphor for our relationship this year. I have also included a photocopy of one of my Zentangle Inspired art pieces that my son added his own unique touch to as well. One of my goals for 2013 was to chose among three paths that seemed to be open to me professionally. It has become increasingly clear that I choose art.
Here are two variations of my meditation collage based on my “You are worthy of love and belonging” Zentangle Inspired Art. The Incredibles logo artwork was done by my son as a school art project. He did not want to keep it, but I love including his work in my collages.
Stories, Music, Life
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All images © I-Shan Lin
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