Flocks

 

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Watercolor – Woodpecker feathers

 

This proverb has been in use since at least the mid 16th century. In 1545 William Turner used a version of it in his papist satire The Rescuing of Romish Fox:

“Byrdes of on kynde and color flok and flye allwayes together.”

Source: Phrases.org

 

Quentin Tarantino realized he needed to leave his flock as a young adult. He was working in a video store (remember those?) and enjoying the benefits of watching movies, which were his passion. His co-workers were also making minimum wage, but he knew he was the smartest one among them. This made him feel comfortable  – for three years – where he admits he “lost all ambition.” And then he woke up. He didn’t want to be an elderly man working in a video store, talking about movies. He wanted to MAKE them. So he had to leave his flock.

And he did.

 

 

Afflicted

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Thought of this image as I drove home yesterday.

 

 

your restless thoughts

are trembling dis-eases

a burden you strapped to your back

examine the contents

and

let

them

go

 

 

 

 

 

Broken

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Focus: colors, contrast, shapes
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My inspiration

“There is nothing stronger than a broken woman who has rebuilt herself.”

Hannah Gadsby

Gadsby’s stand up is pure genius. Check it out on Netflix. Here’s the trailer.

Warning: Her one hour stand up is not for the timid.

Rescue

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My daughter and I went to the animal shelter today to inquire about volunteer opportunities. The minimum age is 16, so Ava will have to wait another year…but she fell in love in the meantime. The dog’s name is Maya.

While we were there, a young lady was returning a dog she adopted a few days ago. The dog was too “feisty” and energetic. It’s too bad she was not willing to put in the time and energy necessary to train the dog.

Our Opal was a bit hyper when we first got her. We had to get a crate for her when we realized that she has separation anxiety. She nearly clawed her way through a wall to find us our first time we went out to dinner and left her home. She still prefers to be in her crate when we’re away.

Love means giving your time and attention.

 

Freeform

I’m playing with form, color and inspiration. No great art here, just having a lot of fun. For the last one, I didn’t know I was going to write my name in Korean until I did it. It might have something to do with recently reading about Bruce Lee and how proud of he was of his Chinese ethnicity and because I’m so happy that Sandra Oh is the first Asian-American actress nominated for a best lead actress Emmy award. Who knows?

I started with acrylics, but it’s so hard to clean up (requires rubbing alcohol) and gouache is more forgiving. I’m sticking with gouache and watercolor for the near term.

This is a continuation of exercises from Flora Bowley’s online class. Check her out, she’s a great teacher.

 

 

True Productivity

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Stay curious. Ask yourself, “What would happen if I dipped the whole side of the brush, for example…”

Flora Bowley, artist

While experimenting with my own brushes and hearing her words, I thought of how critical it is to stay curious in life. It’s so easy (and debilitating) to allow things and people to get “old” on you.

We complain that we’re bored, but maybe WE have become boring.

Stay curious.

Ask yourself, “What if…” (and act on that question!) at least once a day.

 

 

 

 

 

Wanting

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“Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.”  Dalai Lama

Sometimes, we want something very badly: a new job, a promotion, a raise, or an award of some kind. It’s usually because obtaining it would give us meaning, value or respect in the eyes of others.

It’s good to strive for better. It’s good to push yourself. But it’s in the effort that the reward sits, not in the fruit.

Eckhart Tolle says, “How do you let go of attachments of things? Don’t even try. Effort creates attachment. Attachment to things drops away by itself when you no longer seek to find yourself in them.”

Byron Katie reminds us that (for example) when it comes to working hard to get a new job (crafting your resume and cover letter, preparing for the interview), that is YOUR business. But when it comes to deciding whether you get that job, that is THEIR business and all the rest is up to “god” (her definition of god is reality).

So stay in your business. Live each moment fully. And let everything else go.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Purple Cow

 

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“The hard part isn’t charging more. It’s delivering more than the person paid for.”

Seth Godin

He published Purple Cow in 2003 and his message, “Be remarkable to cut through the noise” rings truer than ever. Snake oil and social media are ubiquitous. There’s too much information, noise, and duplicity out there. You can stand out by providing outstanding value.

 

 

Peddling

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The History of Snake Oil

When Chinese railroad workers came to California, they brought with them a magical elixir made from water snake fat. The fat from these snakes was high in Omega-3 fatty acids which we know today really does work for reducing inflammation, blood pressure and more. Non-Chinese went crazy for the stuff.

Non-Chinese started to make their own snake oil, but either watered it down, or used fat from other animals that were not nearly as high in Omega-3. Peddlers sold this inferior “snake oil” and then it got a bad reputation. (Very Well Health)

And here is one example of modern day “snake oil”:

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Wait, you can INFUSE YOUR SKIN with youth? Why, then, is it on clearance?

 

 

2,555 Days

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I call this: “Opal About to Sneeze”

You are your own suffering. You are your own happiness.

Byron Katie

Wandered into colored pencil pet portrait class on Creativebug.com. Hm. The instructors had cute little terriers with different colors. They could use big, broad strokes with reds, browns and yellows. My dog Opal is pretty much a short-haired black pit bull mix. Short strokes for short hair. My hand got tired.

“Don’t worry if yours doesn’t come out the way you want. It took me seven years to get good at it,” said the teacher.

Seven years?

Ai yi yi.

Well, seven years is going to happen either way. If I’m still around, and I keep practicing, I could get good at this.

Arizona Summer

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Bark Scorpion

Illuminate the room and observe the scene

shake your shoes out before you put them on

for his creepy form signals a torturous mien

he’s a venomous stinger, the scorpion

Divided We Fall…

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Responsive Drawing Doodle

Labels separate us.

I’m typically identified in my country and community as “Asian-American” because I’m 100% ethnically Korean (but I was born in Iowa). We have Mexican-Americans, African-Americans, and Native-Americans but rarely do we ever call white people European-Americans. What is the ramification of this?

Why not do away with these labels?

Who cares if someone is gay or straight? Religious or not? Conservative or Liberal? Poor or rich? Why not label everyone simply “human” and treat each other humanely?

A religious woman I know told me, “I love my gay son, but too bad he’s going to go to hell.” Labeling her son and categorizing him as a sinner effectively created an unnecessary distance and one I believe she could regret.

Labels are used to create differences. It’s time we emphasize how we are the same.

Here is an in-depth, research-based study on the effects of labeling people:

Why It’s Dangerous to Label People (Psychology Today).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reading

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I finished reading Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians. It was hard for me to get into because materialism does not interest me in the least and the story line itself was pretty “soap operatic.” But when I abandoned judgment, I found it to be pretty entertaining albeit predictable. It’s Kwan’s first novel which became an international bestseller. I am planning on seeing the film when it opens in August: an all-Asian cast!

Next on my reading list is the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu. It’s really the antithesis of Crazy Rich Asians: a book that extols virtuous characteristics and behavior and rejects external rewards such as fame and wealth.

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Turn Towards the Light

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 “A teacher of fear can’t bring peace on Earth. We have been trying to do it that way for thousands of years. The person who turns inner violence around, the person who finds peace inside and lives it, is the one who teaches what true peace is. We are waiting for just one teacher. You’re the one.”  ~ Byron Katie

The Year of Copper

Today is our 21st wedding anniversary.

The other night, my husband, my mother and I, were in our swimming pool under a full moon.

William pointed at shining orbs in the inky sky. “That’s Jupiter and look..that’s Venus.” Mom stared and said, “I didn’t know that!”

He takes the telescope out, located the planets and asks her to come out of the pool to look at them. With some adjustments, she sees them. The full moon, especially, astounds her.

I wonder if she’s ever looked through a telescope before.

They marvel at the planets.

I marvel at them.

I’m working in his office just for the balance of summer. It’s kinda nice…

Quiet Hero

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Tuesday Doodle

She shuffles to the register

her head, cocked slightly, shakes

The customer, in his sports gear, looks on

irritated, he tries to rush her with his eyes

 

But she’s unmoved – stiff, slow and careful

her quivering hand cradles his produce

she glides it over the scanner gracefully

he searches the ceiling for . . . . . . . . . . . . . mercy?

 

He jams his card in the chip reader

the receipt trembles in mid air

he grabs it from her, forcefully smirks

and mutters as he walks away

 

She doesn’t see this

because she’s smiling and nodding

at the next customer

her rebellious body complies unsteadily

 

for now

 

 

 

 

 

Quack, Quack!

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I procrastinated painting this duck. For some reason, I was sure it’d be terrible. It’s OK.

I wondered where the term “quack” in reference to bad doctors came from. Here’s what I found:

The oldest recorded use dates back to 1638 (Francis Quarles’ 1638 book, Hieroglyphikes of the Life of Man) Mental Floss.

It’s from the old Dutch term “quacksalver” which means someone who cures using home remedies.  Salver, as you can infer, refers to “salve” with ointments and such. Somewhere along the line, it morphed into the concept of someone who peddles their own medical tools and remedies with little to no qualification.

 

 

 

Stop Running (Mindlessly)

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To run on a hamster wheel means to do things without thinking and without an end in sight. It’s a lack of presence.

“How can you tell if you’re on The Hamster Wheel? Your focus narrows and becomes singular. You get reactive instead of proactive. You’re not breathing deeply. Your shoulders are tense. Your jaw may be gripped. Your heart is beating fast and you feel frantic. You experience chronic fight or flight syndrome, your adrenaline is pumping like crazy. You stop really ‘seeing’ people and they start to become objects.”

By Karen Kimsey-House

Click on the author’s quote above for tips on how to stop running on the hamster wheel.

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I’m trying to make my morning run the only time I “run” throughout my day.

 

Good Dog!

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Guardians of Being

“In some ways, dogs are more connected to being than we are.”

Eckhart Tolle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Citations

*https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2017/08/30/a-black-blues-musician-has-an-unique-hobby-befriending-white-supremacists/?utm_term=.32603084cc7a

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monkeying Around

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Daily Painting Challenge – #12

This painting is highly imperfect. The face seems to be floating around, detached. The fur is stiff and square. Painting it was not as fun as painting the hedgehog and it shows. The process reminded me of this quote:

Take chances, make mistakes. That’s how you grow. Pain nourishes your courage. You have to fail in order to practice being brave.

Mary Tyler Moore

Some pieces will be better than others. I love watching August Wren (Creativebug.com) paint because she talks out loud and often laughs at her mistakes.

 

 

Hedgehog

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Daily Painting Practice with August Wren (#13)

She goes about her business

and will tighten into a ball if you harass her

Her spines fall out under extreme stress

but she’s resilient (!) – they grow back

 

she’s vocal, nocturnal,

and has a natural immunity against snake venom

(through years of evolution?)

omniverous and vociferous

 

the badger can’t stay away

 

 

 

{Reading up on the hedgehog, it reminded me of the #metoo movement}

 

 

 

 

Toucan

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The toucan can!

Did you know that their beaks are “honeycomb-like” (lightweight) and virtually useless as a weapon? But the other animals don’t know that! 

 

Tip of the Day (from personal experience):

Start your day with something that is hard to do physically…something that requires you to push yourself. Achieving it first thing in the day will give you a sense of accomplishment and vigor for the next 15 to 18 hours. 

 

 

Self-Advocate

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Daily Painting Challenge (#10)

Listening to Oprah’s podcast with will.i.am, I was profoundly impressed with him not only as a musician, but as an education proponent. His i.am.angel foundation brings STEAM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs to under-served communities. This foundation has also awarded over $800k in scholarships and 97% of these students are the first in their families to go to college.

Will echoes Milton Berle’s sage advice:

If a door closes, build a new door.

This reminds me of something that happened a few weeks ago, when I was reading the Red4Ed message board. A school bus driver wrote: “Are you guys (teachers) demanding a raise and better benefits for us classified staff?” 

I see way too much self-medicating and not enough self-advocating these days. Don’t ever assume someone is looking out for you. You’ve got to do the heavy lifting yourself. Exercise your rights. Vote. Do something with what you have.

If you go by the usual quote, “When one door closes, another opens,” it assumes you will just wait for another one to open. When you build your own, it won’t ever close.

will.i.am

Podcasts and Promises

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Daily Painting Challenge: Day 9

I just finished listening to a Rich Roll podcast. His guest was Jesse Itzler who wrote a best selling book about Living with a (Navy) SEAL. Itzler is also married to Sara Blakely who founded Spanx.

Pursuing outrageous physical feats is not my bag. However, I like to keep learning about motivation and what might help others (as well as me) get/stay motivated to constantly improve (work, relationships).

 The biggest takeaway from this podcast for me was to “circle a date in the future” for a goal I have in mind and then to tell everyone about it to hold myself accountable. As soon as I published “Esther, Mia and the Stars,*” I wanted to write my next book. But I haven’t. So here it is: by December 13th, 2018, I will write (and illustrate!) book #2. 

What have you put on the backburner? Share it now (here or elsewhere), and get going!

 

 

 

*Yes, it says “Mia, Esther and the Stars” on Amazon. But it’s the right book.  ;P

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Best Kind of Vacation

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Don’t just worry or complain about global warming and ocean pollution. Do something: Visit the Four Seasons Maldives

They have a rehabilitation center for injured marine life as well as a “Flying Turtles” program for animals that are unable to be set free in the wild.

Children visitors are the most frequent visitors. They love to name the turtles and check on them several times a day. They also pay close attention to information regarding what harms these beautiful creatures. Fortunately, children are passionate nature lovers.

4. Marine Four Seasons Maldives

Read the entire article here

Freebie for You

Now that I have nearly mastered painting (as evidenced in my drunken kangaroo and Chiweenie (aka “the Rat Dog”), I am sure you are wondering what goes on in the mind of an artistic genius. 

You’re in luck.

I’ve decided to share this with you – and completely free of charge:

First, I sit with a pencil, a glass of water, my assortment of paint brushes, my gouache paints and the paper. The magic commences…

Oh God, I can’t…I just can’t draw this monkey/llama/dog/cat/kangaroo…I wish someone would draw it for me and I could just paint it. Like a coloring book, but with paint, not crayons.

Oh no…I cannot mix paints. I wish these colors all just came in the tubes – ready to go. I’m no good at mixing colors. They never come out the way I want. Wah…wah…wah!

Ugh, I have to paint that fine line? How? How does anyone paint such straight/smooth/exact lines?  Its. Too. Hard. 

Surprised? Yes, I knew you would be. Even great artists can be wracked with self-doubt. But we just go on and do it.

It is called “courage,” grasshopper.

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Ice Breakers Part Deux

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The Hairless Rat

It’s summer school, 8:45am and the second graders are doing ice breakers (see yesterday’s post)

Adam*: “I have a little dog, a big dog and a cat…that cat is not so nice.”

Me: “I see. Does the cat bite?”

Adam: “Sometimes. If you came to my house and tried to pet it, then yes.”

Me: (laughing) “Well, I’ll try to remember that.”

“Oh! I also have…had…a hairless rat.”

Had? Did he die?”

“Yes. He’s dead.”

“Dare I ask…did the not-so-nice cat…”

“No, no. The rat, he just died. You know, it’s the circle of life thing.”

* (not his real name)

Kids and Pets Part I

The Setting: Summer School with eleven 2nd graders, 8:45am.

We do an ice breaker: How many of you have pets? I ask.

Sam* raises his hand. 

“I have a little dog, he’s part…”

Poodle?!” Adam* interrupts.

“No, he’s part…”

“Beagle?” 

“No, he’s part hot dog dog and…”

“Terrier?”

“NO! He’s part hot dog dog and chi…”

“He’s a chihuahua!”

“NO! I HAVE A CHIWEENIE!”

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Beatitude (Supreme Blessedness)

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Today was the fourth day of summer school (I’m teaching a 2nd and 3rd grade combo class).  We hadn’t even gotten to the fun stuff yet (math Bingo with M&Ms and vocabulary skits) when one second grader beamed and said, “I love summer school!”

What part?” I asked.

“All of it!”

Her gratitude was intense and contagious. Other students murmured in agreement. Summer school is the bomb. 

She could have complained about waking up, getting dressed and going to school.

She could have dreaded doing math (again).

She could have complained and compared herself to other kids who are going on vacations to California and beyond.

But she was completely present. She was 100% here with 16 other kids and me and we had a great time.

 

Legacy

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Parakeet – Daily Painting Challenge (Animals, Day 5)

Sitting with my daughter “Bunny” by the pool

we talk about Kate Spade’s suicide and sadness we’ve never known

Bunny’s hair is fanned all over the pool deck, her clear eyes to the sky

Spade wrote a letter to her 13-year-old daughter

telling her it wasn’t her fault

my words ride the waves of the pool and get sucked into the filter

Looking at Bunny, the note seems an especially cruel gesture

In the distance, we can hear a woodpecker on aluminum siding

The Squamate

 

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His food went directly to his tail, apparently.    (Day 3 of 31)

School is out and I’m preparing to teach summer school at a new site. I’ll be teaching 11 second graders and 6 third graders. Last night, I confided in my daughter (aka Wise Owl):

“I’m kinda scared of these kids.”

“Why? Aren’t they, like, five years old?”

“Seven! And some are eight!

 

Teachers have an opportunity to take enrichment classes to make up for days we took during the Walk Out. #Red4Ed

I’m taking CPR. I wonder how much it’s changed since I took it way back in the day? 

 

 

 

No Two Are Alike

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“The middle one is pregnant,” says the husband.

Every zebra has unique stripe patterns – much like humans’ fingerprints. 

If we could just appreciate our singularity – and the originality of others, this world would be a more peaceful place.

I like Ram Dass’ observation: When we go out and see trees, we don’t judge them. We don’t say this one is better than that one. We appreciate every tree. We should do that with people. Appreciate every person. 

Judgmental people tend to judge themselves fiercely. They believe it makes them work harder and be better. In fact, judgmental people possess an insecurity and sometimes a level of self-hate that disables them to love others.

There is strife in America right now. There is a great divide. But ignorance is being met with consciousness and ultimately, awareness will win.

 

 

 

Oh Rats! I mean…Cat…

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Daily Practice (Animals) Day 1

“So if your final product is not what you had hoped, the daily practice will help you.”

August Wren (Creativebug.com)

Let’s hope so!

Painting this was a lot of fun. I haven’t laughed this hard in a long time. I just ordered some “bleed proof” white that August uses. Watercolor white doesn’t mimic the bleed proof very well.