Sunday, February 28, 2010

Dreamboard for the Full Snow Moon

I look forward to these moon-thly opportunities to delve into exploring our dreams, and to the quiet time to tune into what's going on inside of me. This full moon brought so many images that I went to a larger, more panaromic format and still had to edit some out!

Freedom has popped up again as a theme, but this time it's joined by other words including calm, yes, spirit, art, connecting, artist, me. I liked what Jamie Ridler suggested, not only dreaming big but also looking at what actions I might take, inspired by what I see on my board. So here goes...
  • I could pay attention to how my energy flows
  • I could meditate
  • I could spend some time in wide open, natural places
  • I could make my kitchen and living room more calm, pleasing and artistic spaces
  • I could explore and play with technology
  • I could find more opportunities to connect with people
  • I could work on mastering my craft of music
  • I could look for ways to showcase my art
  • I could get on the dance floor
  • I could listen to and trust my instincts
  • I could say yes to myself when I feel an urge
  • I could treat myself as a precious jewel
  • I could unfurl and take flight
  • I could find beautiful ways to decorate and elevate my process of unfolding
I know some of the items on the list have been brewing for a while, and this moon may provide just the right impetus to get things rolling. Some of the other items are very intriguing, calling out to me in new ways. I'm looking forward to keeping this full moon dreamboard in sight and seeing what new discoveries I may find.

If you're interested in making a dreamboard yourself and sharing it with others, check out Jamie Ridler's Full Moon Dreamboards Online. Check out what others are dreaming for themselves for this full moon here.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Permission to...

I, Helen, wish to give myself permission to fail.

It's really that simple. The desire to create works of beauty, to play something perfectly, to have that dish come out right, to say the right thing at the right time -- all those desires have felt at times like heavy responsibilities, keeping me from trying out new stuff for fear that it won't turn out "right." The outcome has often been the empty page stays empty, the desire to create remains un-acted-upon. I wish to give myself permission to suck at stuff, to not be great at everything, to try and sometimes fall on my face. To laugh, get up, and try again.

Friday, February 19, 2010

One of those really satisfying days

I'm trying to collect and remember my happy moments. Sometimes they are such tiny little moments in the day, and sometimes they are a whole, really great day.

Wednesday was one of those really great days, that began with the trio playing live on the radio. We began with a wonderful drive up the Hudson River, taking in the beautiful snow covered trees along the way. Snow has a way of brightening up the drab barren trees, highlighting their forms and branches, giving the eyes some relief from shades of gray and brown. We played live in the studio and chatted with the host, RadmanX. Talking on the radio still makes me a little nervous, even if I was a radio dj in college! One of my favorite moments (besides playing music with my trio mates, which I love to do) was listening to Leanne deliver the Poetic Service Announcement. She was handed a book to choose from and recited a poem by Rumi, "Chickpea to Cook" as translated by Coleman Barks. Leanne and I love to share foodie adventures, both eating and cooking, so it seemed so apropos that she landed on that page. The broadcast is an hour long, but if you're interested you can go to Radio Active Lunch Hour to listen to Trio Tritticali's archived show.

After we got back to New York City the rest of the day involved eating good Thai food, taking a nap after that late lunch, discussing the Artist's Way chapter with Leanne, then heading out to hear Mahler's Third Symphony at Carnegie Hall, and then sublime eats at Yakitori Totto nearby. Food, friendship, music - in any order, it makes me happy!

You can see what others are saying about what makes them happy at

Friday, February 12, 2010

A happy snowy day project

I'm sure you can by now complete the phrase, "When life hands you lemons..." One happy moment from this week I'd like to share comes from making lemonade out of those proverbial lemons. Wednesday delivered a snowstorm that caused my honey's flight to be rescheduled for the next day, which ultimately led to another automatic rescheduling for Monday (um, sorry that is not going to be okay!!), which then led to his driving out to his destination 12 hours away by car.

We decided to tackle the project of painting the entryway to the apartment, and while I don't love the process of doing it I do love the results. A day of being stuck in the cabin led to beautifying our little space.

Oh, and another moment of happy comes from anticipation! I'm happily looking forward to an adventure up to Vassar College's radio station with my cherished string trio mates on the Wednesday lunch hour show. We'll be playing some of our favorites live in the studio. Yay! Here's a link for more info and how to get to the webstream and archive, just in case you want to tune in...

You can see what others are saying about what makes them happy at

Monday, February 8, 2010

Insight out

I created this collage as a way of using a non-linear, non-logical process to examine an issue bothering me. It was in this week’s chapter of “Walking in This World” the sequel book to ”The Artist’s Way.” It reminded me of the Soul Reflections process, but with the addition of a subject, held lightly while I searched for images and arranged them. Here is my question, and my jotted thoughts about the resulting collage.

Why is it so hard for me to claim my strengths and gifts?

The first thing that strikes me most strongly is the center of the image, from a distance, looks like a void. Upon closer inspection it is actually a lighter image with jewelry hanging from a tree and the words “money does grow on trees.” Other words that pop are “strategist,” “great artists,” “you,” “work,” “the moment,” and “punk prose poetess.”

The next thing that strikes me most is the bright red in the collage. “The world’s great artists want to show you how they work” is next to a woman dancing. Her bodysuit has a grid on it, like the gridwork of the bridge, like the grids in the circuitry of the piano, the grid that is assumed underneath the graph the woman is drawing, and the tile-like pink gum. There is also a theme of electricity, with the circuitry and the wall socket, and the lightning.

The next most arresting images are the woman with her head in red bondage, and the collaged face. The red bondage could be the baggage from my upbringing with culturally very Chinese parents. There is a binding of my head, the modesty, the focus on the books. Right next to that image is the words “the moment” and I’m not sure what that is. Also the collaged face is an overlay of a child’s eyes onto Patti Smith’s face. The eyes of a child combined with the older, non-conformist, poetess. The pearl earrings suggest the gifts that are found within a pearl, an ugly slow process that produces a thing of beauty from an irritant. Also interesting is the modesty of the hellebores, the downward facing flowers that offer such sweet surprises. They are now being hybridized to try and develop flowers that have a more outward face. But how do I feel about their current beauty? I think there is something mysterious about it. The gifts, hidden. Maybe that’s like the oyster and the pearl too. Is it a funny coincidence that the name of these flowers reminds me of the words “Helen bores”?

The Thinker, the brain, the phrenology head, all point to something that is being mulled and thought. There is the obvious, that my brain is a strength and gift, but while I thought of myself as the smart girl I didn’t have the feeling that I was in the top of the class. Why? Perhaps because of my ingrained Chinese modesty. Perhaps because of that non-conformist punk in me. I was into punk and new wave as a kid, and it was a taste in music that felt a bit outside. I was proud of that outsider status, and I had always felt like one anyway because of what growing up Chinese-American in the white suburbs was like. I also hated that outsider status because I wanted the comfort of belonging.

Another theme in this collage is music. The piano, the actor carrying a well-worn guitar case, the wizened visage of Patti Smith. What is it about Punk Prose Poetess? These are words that are funny together. “Putting it all together” is a challenge and I feel I’m running out of time.

The avatar is staring me down. I haven’t seen the movie and I’m not sure I’m going to, but there he is. The avatar is a substitute, a symbol, an imaginary me. What would my imaginary me be? Am I the dancer? Am I the disheveled punk? Am I the businesswoman drawing a chart? Am I the child wearing glasses, toys plunked down near the wall socket? Lost my fuzzy lamb, a kangaroo? Am I the woman with her head in bondage? Am I the actor musician walking down the street? Am I the thinker?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Wishcasting: What story do you wish to live or let go of?

This week for Wishcasting I wish to let go of a story that portrays me as unqualified or underqualified. I have had a tendency to feel that there is some prerequisite experience or knowledge that I need first in order to... fill in the blank. That could be -- put myself out there as a teacher or expert, create a composition, sing in public, or sell my services for anything that I'm able to do. I almost always feel there is some level of mastery to be achieved before I can legitimately put myself out there, or allow myself to create something new. This old story is weighing me down, and I wish to be like the dancing "grim reaper" on the tarot card I drew today. I want to leave the old decaying matter aside, and cut loose the threads to let new possibilities be released.

The possibilities? Mastery is not a prerequisite, it is an ever just-beyond-reach ideal. The new story I wish to live is that I have years of experience learning various disciplines and crafts, amassing knowledge, and that while the process will never end, people can still benefit from what I have within in me thus far. So while art and life are a work in progress, it's completely okay to share exactly where I am today. It is still something worthwhile to give.