reflections on wild geese

levitation attempt


That was my best shot at lev­i­tat­ing so far. 

I was actu­al­ly try­ing to take pho­tos of a sweater I cro­cheted (in one piece in a side­ways man­ner, I’m hop­ing to post the pat­tern soon). The way I posi­tioned the cam­era was too low and could­n’t cap­ture the entire skirt, so I decid­ed to take a jump­ing shot, inspired by Nat­su­mi Hayashi’s lev­i­tat­ing self-portraits.

Hav­ing been fol­low­ing Nat­sum­i’s posts for a cou­ple of years, I’ve found that the key to lev­i­ta­tion (as opposed to just jump­ing) in a pho­to shoot is that one has to jump while relax­ing one’s shoul­ders and arms. 

It’s actu­al­ly quite dif­fi­cult. A lot of con­trolled coor­di­na­tion needs to hap­pen in a frac­tion of a second.

In this pho­to I cer­tain­ly still looked like I was jump­ing, but I like the way my arm and hand look in the light.


I’ve been stressed on many fronts lately. 

The para­dox of jump­ing — a surge of ener­gy to pro­pel one­self off the ground against grav­i­ty — while being relaxed was actu­al­ly quite enlight­en­ing when I thought about my recent encoun­ters with conflict.

What this makes me real­ize is that, in con­flict, I have to learn to sus­tain a clear and calm state of mind in the face of height­ened emo­tions. Height­ened emo­tions that threat­ens to derail my thoughts and actions.

It’s actu­al­ly quite difficult.


Real­iz­ing that it’s dif­fi­cult, and fear­ing that it might be impos­si­ble for me to ever do well, I find this poem comforting.

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hun­dred miles through the desert, repent­ing.
You only have to let the soft ani­mal of your body
love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Mean­while the world goes on.
Mean­while the sun and the clear peb­bles of the rain
are mov­ing across the land­scapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the moun­tains and the rivers.

Mean­while the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are head­ing home again.
Who­ev­er you are, no mat­ter how lone­ly,
the world offers itself to your imag­i­na­tion,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and excit­ing –
over and over announc­ing your place
in the fam­i­ly of things.

– Mary Oliver


May we all find clar­i­ty and com­pas­sion today.



a bird named joy

I was curi­ous about mak­ing sun catch­ers with white glue and beads, some­thing I saw in one of the blogs I fol­low. So I thought I’d give it a try.

Here the glue is set­ting. It took a long time…



I was wor­ried that it was going to stick to the mold, but it came out very eas­i­ly :D

joy 1


It’s now perch­ing on a small stone vase, it was a birth­day gift I received last year. It’s made from a glazier stone from Nova Sco­tia, one of my favourite places on earth!

joy 2


Watch­ing it sit­ting on the vase reminds me of a sto­ry that a very wise woman shared with me this week, The Moun­tain that Loved a Bird by Alice McLer­ran (and so won­der­ful­ly illus­trat­ed by Eric Car­le!).

In the sto­ry are a bar­ren moun­tain and a bird named Joy. It’s a beau­ti­ful sto­ry about sor­row, and how courage, love and hope can emerge from it. A syn­op­sis of the book can be read here. But the book is writ­ten in such a pro­found­ly mov­ing way, if you can get a hold of a copy I real­ly wish you can read it (if you haven’t read it already). 

Take care, everybody!


p.s. the let­ting go series is prov­ing to be a bit dif­fi­cult to keep up because of an extreme­ly busy cou­ple of weeks, and because it’s get­ting hard­er to find things to recy­cle or throw out when Mike is doing the same… so I’ve decid­ed to give it a rest for a while, maybe I’ll come back to it in a bit, but I will cer­tain­ly make time to cre­ate when I can, and I will most cer­tain­ly keep you post­ed when I do :D




be the change

be the change



I was watch­ing the news last night while mak­ing this for a teacher/colleague. 

Amongst the many things about this teacher that I admire and want to emu­late is her abil­i­ty to see the good­ness and strength in every per­son she meets, and to see pos­si­bil­i­ties for resis­tance, change and growth even in the most dire situations.

It is not only that she sees strengths and good­ness and pos­si­bil­i­ties. More impor­tant­ly, she reflects it back to the per­son, lov­ing­ly point­ing out what she sees and cheer­ing every­one on, which makes every­one feel good about their abil­i­ties and wants to do good in the world.

While watch­ing the news last night, like many across the world, I felt incred­i­bly sad and angry. Angry at the sense­less­ness of it all. So angry that I thought if the world real­ly does end on Decem­ber 21 it would­n’t be half bad.

But actu­al­ly I don’t believe that the world will end on Decem­ber 21. 

Instead, I believe that we can all be agents of change, encour­ag­ing the good in one another.


“My friends, love is bet­ter than anger. Hope is bet­ter than fear. Opti­mism is bet­ter than despair. So let us be lov­ing, hope­ful and opti­mistic. And we’ll change the world.”
― Jack Layton



wandering art

The new school term brings me to a com­mu­ni­ty cen­tre about an hour of sub­way-and-bus ride from my home. I’ve nev­er been to this neigh­bour­hood before and was a bit wor­ried that I would get lost on my way there (I have a real­ly bad sense of direction).

But it turned out to be the eas­i­est bus ride ever! I take the sub­way to the last stop on the line, then take a bus to the last stop in its route, which also hap­pens to be the first stop in its route, because it ends in a loop (I was kind of wor­ried about hav­ing to find the bus that takes me back the oppo­site way — I real­ly have a poor sense of direction).

So that made me real­ly hap­py. But what made me hap­pi­er was the dis­cov­ery of pub­lic art all around the com­mu­ni­ty cen­tre! :D


Peo­ple who have been there before the sum­mer said that the rocks are not where they have been a few months ago. They have been wan­der­ing! It took a while to see all of them, scat­tered around the trees.


I love the idea of art that moves. Always chang­ing. Maybe they’ll get moss and lichens on them and their sur­faces will start to change too. There are many more with words on them. Like “com­mu­ni­ty”, and “tra­di­tions”. There are also ones with­out words. And here’s a feast some­one’s spread­ed out for the ani­mals! :D


And awe­some mur­al on the walls of the com­mu­ni­ty cen­tre itself! Peo­ple told me that it’s new­ly paint­ed, just over the past summer.


Def­i­nite­ly a nice part of the jour­ney into the new school year.

Have an awe­some week­end! :D



lessons from air-bending



I start­ed going to a tai chi class once a week dur­ing my month off in April.

It came out of a rec­om­men­da­tion from a super­vi­sor at the agency where I intern. We were talk­ing about the fear and anx­i­ety that I encounter in work and inter­per­son­al con­texts. She strong­ly sug­gest­ed find­ing a body-based prac­tice that can trans­late into some help­ful prac­tice phi­los­o­phy for work situations. 

Then she gave me a gift cer­tifi­cate that she had won for 4 tai chi lessons. “I take way more class­es than that, so I don’t need it,” she told me.

So I went. Just to see what it’s like. And I know that I’m bad­ly out of shape sit­ting in front of the com­put­er or cro­chet­ing all the time.

After the first class, I decid­ed to call it “air-bend­ing”, because of the slow, sub­tle move­ments that the body makes, as if flow­ing with air. Also, because it reminds me of my sis­ter, who’s a big fan of Avatar: The Last Air­ben­der.

I was­n’t real­ly “get­ting it” for the first three class­es. I was think­ing that maybe it’s not for me. I’m just too unco­or­di­nat­ed. I want­ed my body to move in the way that was demon­strat­ed by the instruc­tor, but I don’t know how to get it to move in that pre­cise way.

The instruc­tor was very nice. She came over to give me indi­vid­ual help every class. And in my third class, while doing this “ward off” move­ment, where the body kind of leans for­ward and the arms cross to press against an invis­i­ble intrud­er made of air, like so…

… the instruc­tor observed how I was doing it and said,

“You’re lean­ing too much for­ward. Don’t lean too much, know where your cen­tre is.”

What she said touched some­thing that was real­ly impor­tant for me. I knew it was impor­tant because my mind blanked out for a moment and was only able to repeat those words.

Don’t lean too much, know where your cen­tre is.

Isn’t that what I do every time I feel afraid? I lean into it. Com­plete­ly into it. And I work myself up to become even more anx­ious, and I tell myself that I can’t fin­ish the task. I can’t han­dle the sit­u­a­tion. I can’t do it. I’m too anxious.

But what if I don’t lean into that fear, and I try to find this core place where I can believe that I can face chal­lenges and oth­er scary things with steadi­ness, know­ing that I have some skills, some knowl­edge that will help me.

The fear makes me for­get that I have skills.

I real­ize that I’m sick of telling myself that I can’t. I can’t because I get too anx­ious. I can’t because I don’t han­dle stress very well. I can’t because it’s too much work and it’s going to stress me out and increase my anx­i­ety lev­el and com­pro­mise my men­tal health. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t.

But I can. Because I’ve done it. Every time a goal is reached, every time a dead­line is met, every time a dream is ful­filled. And, hav­ing been in school for quite a few years, I’ve had many goals and dead­lines. And because of school, some of my biggest dreams have also been fulfilled.

My super­vi­sor spoke with me about not let­ting neg­a­tiv­i­ties live rent-free in my head. 

“You have to evict them, and you have to grow that place that can­not be wound­ed. Can you find that place inside you that can­not be wounded?”

The place that can­not be wound­ed, for me, is the spir­it that God has cre­at­ed in me, and that, I think, is my cen­tre, the core place that has the strength to pull me back from lean­ing too much into fear and self-doubt.


Ah, heavy top­ic on a Fri­day. But some­thing that I felt I need­ed to sort out by writ­ing it down.

Have a good weekend!




earth owl and many blessings

My friend Nan­cy sent me a pack­age in the mail, full of trea­sures! :D

There were lots of craft sup­plies, each thing relat­ed to a blog post I wrote! I was so moved by the thoughts and kind­ness behind this gift. It meant so much to me. Open­ing all the tis­sue paper-wrapped and rib­bon tied parcels felt like Christmas!

Amongst the many things in the pack­age, there were beads! I love beads! I poured them out into a paint palette and mar­veled at each one. There were a lot of stone chip beads and each is dif­fer­ent. It was fas­ci­nat­ing. I par­tic­u­lar­ly love stones that are trans­par­ent with streaks of colours in them. Remind­ed me of the tiny bot­tle of tum­bled stone chips I got at the Big Nick­el when I was a kid.


It was a such spe­cial gift and I want­ed to make some­thing real­ly spe­cial with them. Some­thing that I can car­ry around with me.

And so the earth owl came into being! :D


I haven’t done a lot of wire work so this turned out bet­ter than I thought. I kind of just bent the wire into an owl shape in a free-formed man­ner. For the body and the wings I attached/strung the beads on by cro­chet­ing with a 2mm hook and thin wire. The eyes are also crocheted.

I found these gor­geous, sparkling glass beads from the pack­age for the eyes. 



And the best thing about the owl is that I had a super fun time mak­ing it. The beads inspired many hours of cre­ativ­i­ty and pure joy.

Feel­ing so very thank­ful and blessed.


Have a won­der­ful week­end, everyone!




the kindness of a stranger


Today was a real­ly bad day.

It’s not real­ly about one thing in par­tic­u­lar. It could be an accu­mu­la­tion of dif­fer­ent things. Either way, I just felt so pro­found­ly sad for no par­tic­u­lar rea­son, so much so that I had to leave in the mid­dle of a class and broke down in the bath­room sobbing.

So, as I locked myself in a stall sob­bing, I heard some­one else entered the next stall. I con­tin­ued to sob.

Then, I felt that I was ready to leave and as I was leav­ing, a voice came out from the next stall:

“What­ev­er it is, it’s going to be okay. Be strong.”

I thanked the voice, feel­ing ever, ever so grate­ful, and start­ed sob­bing again.


I then found a pot­ted plant to sit next to in the hall­way and let its branch­es fall over my one arm, breath­ing in deeply its scent of dirt and basil (but I don’t think it was a basil, it was too big to be a basil), wait­ing for the class to end so I could get my backpack.

The woman came out from the bath­room, “give me a hug,” she said, “you’re going to be okay.” I don’t know who she is, she did­n’t ask for my name and I did­n’t ask for hers. 

A young woman from my class whom I’ve hard­ly spo­ken with came out of the class­room to microwave her lunch. She asked if I were okay and if I want­ed her to sit with me. I said it was up to her.

She sat down and said, “we’ll sit in silence.”

And we did, as I sobbed intermittently.

She did­n’t ask me why I could­n’t stop cry­ing. And even if she did I would­n’t know how to answer her. It was just one of those days.


One of those days where I did­n’t want to be alone but I don’t real­ly want to be talk­ing with peo­ple about why I’m sad.

One of those days where I like to sit with plants, hug trees, because they don’t judge.

And that, to me, is kindness.

The two women today gave me great gifts of kind­ness. They did­n’t ask what I cry­ing about to judge whether I was deserv­ing of their kind words and ges­tures. They just offered it to me with­out even know­ing me.

These are the moments that I will store up in my mem­o­ry to keep me going on days like today. 


A great quote I saw the oth­er day:

Look at the sea. What does it care about offens­es?
— James Joyce


I was speak­ing with a very wise woman about Nia­gara Falls. I told her that the falls is cer­tain­ly full of ener­gy, but the water that flows over the table rock just before it falls, I could stare at it all day because to me, it feels like kindness.

“What is it about the water that reminds you of kind­ness?” she asked, smiling.

I could­n’t quite think of the rea­sons then. I could only think of the way it caress­es the rocks and gen­tly sways the under­wa­ter plants at the bot­tom. But I think I’ve fig­ured it out today.

Because it does­n’t judge.


Late­ly Mike and I have start­ed going swim­ming at the pool in our build­ing. I can’t swim, but I like the feel­ing of being sur­round­ed by water. Feels like I’m being hugged. And the muf­fled sound one hears under­wa­ter, it makes me think that maybe that’s what it sounds like inside the womb. (An idea I prob­a­bly got from watch­ing TV shows, and it makes sense, does­n’t it?)


And so, the women who offered kind­ness to me, a stranger, today showed me that it is pos­si­ble to be com­pas­sion­ate and non­judg­men­tal with­out hav­ing to be a plant, a tree, or the sea. They showed me how to show kind­ness as a human being to some­one who real­ly need­ed it.


And I think of you, my friends whom I’ve nev­er met in per­son but vis­it me reg­u­lar­ly or once in a while or for the first time, being inter­est­ed and read­ing what I have to say, even leav­ing mes­sages that are so encour­ag­ing and kind and make my day over and over again — I’m so very grate­ful for you.




inspired by buttons

A few days ago I went with a cou­ple of friends to the clay drop-in class at the Gar­diner Muse­um. Before that we also went to Let­tuce Knit, where I saw some incred­i­bly charm­ing ceram­ic but­tons for sale. The friend­ly woman who was look­ing after the shop at the time said that she had actu­al­ly made those but­tons at the drop-in class­es at the Gar­diner. So when I left the shop I was quite deter­mined to make but­tons in the class.

But when we got there I had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to use one of the few pot­tery wheels avail­able, so I made a split deci­sion to try my hands on the wheel instead. It was quite an expe­ri­ence but I did­n’t end up with any fin­ished prod­uct, because by the end of the 2‑hour class I was still try­ing to cen­tre the clay on the wheel (and fail­ing to do so after 4 attempts!). I was­n’t dis­ap­point­ed that I did­n’t have a mug or bowl to put into the kiln; I under­stand full well that throw­ing clay on a wheel takes a long time to mas­ter. But I think I would feel very hap­py in the end if I had stuck to my plan of mak­ing buttons!

So! After I got home I start­ed to gath­er inspi­ra­tions for the next time I vis­it the clay class.


I love this one, it is so sweet. (source)



My favourite shade of blue! (source)


Remind me to bring my col­lec­tion of pressed leaves from the sum­mer! (source)


Thumbprints. Love the organ­ic shapes and sub­tle­ty (source)


It would be fun to find sur­faces and tex­tures to make imprints with (source)


And this would be fun to glaze, no? (source)


AND! What about mak­ing ceram­ic neck­lace pen­dants? You know how much I love neck­laces… I’m so ready to have tons and tons of fun next time I go to the class! :D Now I just have to wait until school work slows down…

But that’s not to say that I came home from the last clay class emp­ty-hand­ed. While help­ing me cen­tre the clay on the quick­ly spin­ning wheel, the instruc­tor said some­thing that I thought was quite profound:

Don’t let the clay push you, you push the clay.

My mind real­ly hung onto those words for a while, and I have been try­ing to fig­ure out why.

I sup­pose they res­onate with cer­tain cir­cum­stances I find myself in late­ly. At first I thought it has to do with inter­per­son­al stuff. I cer­tain­ly get intim­i­dat­ed (i.e. pushed around) quite eas­i­ly. But then I thought push­ing oth­er peo­ple back isn’t an appro­pri­ate response nei­ther, is it?

Then I start­ed to think about the feel­ings around being intim­i­dat­ed. Anx­i­ety feels the most promi­nent to me. Maybe this is real­ly about rela­tion­ships, but not so much my rela­tion­ship with oth­er peo­ple but my rela­tion­ship with anxiety.

It’s very sim­ple: when I feel anx­ious, I try to make the anx­i­ety go away, and that makes me feel even more anxious. 

Like throw­ing clay on the wheel, the idea is not to fight against the clay, because the more I fight it to bring it back to the cen­tre the more it wob­bles about and wig­gles away. The idea is to find the right angle and the right pres­sure to move with the clay, and apply gen­tle pres­sure con­sis­tent­ly and per­sis­tent­ly, give it time, and it will even­tu­al­ly spin between my two palms in (near) per­fect symmetry. 

So how does that apply to anxiety?

It’s what I already know: sit with it. I know this from super­vi­sors who teach mind­ful­ness prac­tices. I know this from being in ther­a­py. I know this from being trained as a ther­a­pist. But I don’t do it myself. I give in to my nat­ur­al ten­den­cy, my auto­mat­ic response to fight the anx­i­ety as soon as I feel my heart rate increases.

So how did we move from but­tons to this ram­bling about anxiety?

Such is the pow­er of art to evoke sto­ries and metaphors and insight.


Wish­ing you a week of hap­py adven­tures and new discoveries!








the unapologetic seagull

I went to an art ther­a­py con­fer­ence in Nia­gara Falls this week­end. In one of the work­shops I attend­ed, we were to cre­ate an ani­mal to rep­re­sent our­selves as an infant, ado­les­cent, adult, and elder.

I most con­nect­ed with the ani­mal that rep­re­sent­ed what I hope to be as an elder. It was an unapolo­getic seag­ull. I sup­pose that image of the seag­ull came to mind because I came across many of these birds when I arrived in Nia­gara Falls.

Here is my Plas­ticine seag­ull, I took a pic­ture of it when I got back to my hotel room. She’s rather small; her body is about the size of my thumb.


The wingspan…


The next day I attend­ed a work­shop about the art of prac­tic­ing grat­i­tude, in which I came across the quote: today I’m hap­pi­er than a bird with a fry. So then lat­er on when I con­tem­plat­ed what to put on the com­mu­ni­ty mur­al (a large piece of can­vas placed in the main area of the con­fer­ence, every­one was invit­ed to add to it) I imme­di­ate­ly thought of the quote, and my unapolo­getic seag­ull. This was my con­tri­bu­tion to the mural.


Lat­er on Mike and I were walk­ing along the falls and we saw a seag­ull stand­ing on the rail­ing, look­ing like he’s enjoy­ing him­self (or her­self?) and not one bit con­cerned despite peo­ple get­ting close to it to take pic­tures of it. They do have a kind of dig­ni­fied expres­sion, don’t they?


Then after I came home I down­load the pho­tos from the mem­o­ry card, and real­ized that I cap­tured an image of a seag­ull emerg­ing from the mist of the Horse­shoe Falls.


Nev­er real­ly paid much atten­tion to seag­ulls before. But I quite like the idea of the unapolo­getic seag­ull. The exer­cise of cre­at­ing an ani­mal to rep­re­sent dif­fer­ent life stages is also an inter­est­ing way of reflect­ing on the past and envi­sion­ing the future. Per­haps an idea for an art project or journaling?

More art and pho­tos to come!

Have a hap­py Tues­day! :D