vessel

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 :)