shell 1


I have these pho­tos sit­ting on my desk­top for a while now. For some rea­sons I kept putting off writ­ing about the project. I guess I’m just not sure whether I can clear­ly artic­u­late the com­plex­i­ty of it. But I guess it does­n’t have to be too com­pli­cat­ed. And it was a fun project to make :)

The exer­cise was about cre­at­ing a ves­sel that can hold uncon­di­tion­al love. It was for a group that I was run­ning with a cou­ple of my col­leagues, but because it was a small group that day and every­one seemed to be rather engrossed in their own projects with­out need­ing much help, I cre­at­ed a ves­sel as well.

shell 3

It’s a shell that is made of many old shells. The imprints of the old shells gath­er sand and grits and sharp bits that pass by and trans­form them into a pearl that gives a guid­ing light, a wis­dom that shines through the sur­round­ing dark­ness of the ocean. The wis­dom to see one­self and oth­ers with clar­i­ty and compassion.

It was made of clay. Was­n’t fired or any­thing, just paint­ed with dilut­ed acrylic. I paint­ed the pearl with a mix­ture of pearles­cent and glow-in-the-dark paint. It glows some­what in com­plete dark­ness but too faint for the cam­era to cap­ture. I still like the way it turned out though. 

And I paint­ed the out­side of the shell with some sil­ver metal­lic paint.

shell 4


And this short poem comes to mind. I came to know it through my mentor:

Last night, as I was sleep­ing,
I dreamt — mar­velous error! -
that I had a bee­hive
here inside my heart.
And the gold­en bees
were mak­ing white combs
and sweet hon­ey
from my old fail­ures
– Anto­nio Macha­do, trans­lat­ed by Robert Bly


Have an excel­lent, ener­gized start to the week, everyone!


in retrospect

It’s just occurred to me a few days ago that I missed gen­uine mud­pie’s 3rd birth­day! *gasp* :O

It’s some­times in March, and now it’s July. I total­ly missed it. It’s come and gone and I did­n’t even notice, like noth­ing’s happened.

And I did­n’t share an anniver­sary pattern :(

I feel real­ly bad about it. Like I’ve cheat­ed every­one and myself out of a celebration.

Come to think of it, it’s been a hard year.

I turned 30. My grand­moth­er passed away (her funer­al was on my birth­day). My oth­er grand­moth­er had been seri­ous­ly ill (she’s okay now). My mom was deal­ing with some new­ly dis­cov­ered health con­cerns. School work was intense, where sup­port­ing oth­er peo­ple through their sto­ries of pain brings up my own sto­ries of pain. And then I found myself in a series of con­flicts, some small and fiz­zled out soon after they start­ed, some seri­ous­ly hurt the feel­ings or well-being of all par­ties involved, and in the process a val­ued friend­ship was lost. At the end of it all I was in quite a bit of dis­tress, with feel­ings of guilt, self-doubt, fear, ques­tion­ing my own char­ac­ter. And so I total­ly for­got about gen­uine mud­pie’s 3rd birth­day. Nor did I spend much time to process my turn­ing 30.

I was at a nar­ra­tive ther­a­py train­ing about a week ago. In demon­strat­ing a tech­nique of ask­ing ques­tions, the pre­sen­ter asked the vol­un­teer inter­vie­wee to iden­ti­fy a pea-size prob­lem in her mind and then answer his ques­tions in rela­tions to that prob­lem. I was glad not to be the vol­un­teer inter­vie­wee because all of my prob­lems are at least clos­et-sized, and if I start talk­ing about them I might imme­di­ate­ly burst into tears and that would be embarrassing.

One of the ques­tions the pre­sen­ter asked was: what did­n’t the prob­lem know about you, that if it had known about you, prob­a­bly would have left you alone?

For some rea­sons that ques­tion stuck with me long after the train­ing was fin­ished and into the week­end. It was one that I could­n’t quite answer for myself about my clos­et-sized problems.

On the week­end I brought home my most recent grad­u­a­tion pic­ture to my par­ents’. My par­ents have a col­lec­tion of grad­u­a­tion pho­tos from when my younger sis­ter was in ele­men­tary school. It’s grown to be quite a large collection.

And when I looked at these pic­tures, it was kind of like step­ping back and look­ing at the big pic­ture that spanned the past 12 years and gain­ing a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive, and an answer came to mind for the question: what did­n’t the prob­lem know about you, that if it had known about you, prob­a­bly would have left you alone?

You chose the wrong per­son to mess with.

I turned 20 in a hos­pi­tal. I did­n’t believe that I would live pass 22. I was con­vinced that anorex­ia was how I was going to live my life and how I was going to die.

And by the time I turned 30, I’m mar­ried to the best, most car­ing, most lov­ing hus­band. All of my fam­i­ly mem­bers sur­vived the ordeal that was anorex­ia and emerged with deep­er under­stand­ing and love for one anoth­er. I have a pos­i­tive rela­tion­ship with food and I’m in good health. I eat what I want and go where I want to go. I’ve earned 3 uni­ver­si­ty diplo­mas and am about to start on the 4th. I’ve start­ed doing what I dream of doing as a career.

I would not have lived and kept going if not for God who for some rea­sons would not let me die even when I gave up on my own life, and for the fam­i­ly and friends who have con­tin­ued to love and sup­port and believe in me, who have been there along­side me even when I could not care for them, even when I did not believe in myself. I’m priv­i­leged with resources and sup­port­ive rela­tion­ships, and I’ve also worked very hard to use those resources and sup­port to get to where I’m at today.

So, prob­lem — what­ev­er you are: guilt, self-doubts, fear — you chose the wrong per­son to mess with, and you can­not take me down with you.

And reflect­ing on me turn­ing 30 and gen­uine mud­pie turn­ing 3, I’d like to say that I’m grate­ful for every word and ges­ture of love and kind­ness that has been extend­ed to me, from every per­son I have known in per­son or through this blog, for a brief moment in time or for years. I’m grate­ful for God’s end­less pro­vi­sion and great love. I’m grate­ful for dif­fi­cul­ties and con­flicts. All of these things open my eyes to new pos­si­bil­i­ties, lead me home to the core of what I val­ue, and allow me to extend out from the place of home into the world with deep­er under­stand­ing, courage and love.

return with us 

This was cre­at­ed with words from a poem called The Ini­ti­a­tion Song from the Find­ers’ Lodge in Ursu­la LeGuin’s Always Com­ing Home. I found the image in a Nation­al Geo­graph­ic mag­a­zine exact­ly the way it looks now, with a hole cut out on one page and a pic­ture of the hori­zon on the page behind it. It was made in reflec­tion on my year-long place­ment in a com­mu­ni­ty pro­gram, but I think it applies to the “turn­ing 30” and “turn­ing 3”  reflec­tions as well. 

Thank you for jour­ney­ing with me, awe­some ones :)