A2Z 2021 Theme Reveal

“Some birds are not meant to be caged, that’s all. Their feathers are too bright, their songs too sweet and wild. So you let them go, or when you open the cage to feed them they somehow fly out past you. And the part of you that knows it was wrong to imprison them in the first place rejoices, but still, the place where you live is that much more drab and empty for their departure.”

– Stephen King, Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption

**Drum roll, please** My theme for 2021’s A to Z Challenge will be about…. BIRDS!

My inspiration is primarily from Arin Murphy-Hiscock’s book “BIRDS a spiritual field guide”. I enjoy her illustrations, her research on mythology & folklore, and her insight into divinatory meanings. I was curious after my former supervisor shared a story with me about her winged messenger.

Here’s the author’s bio:

Arin Murphy-Hiscock has always felt a spiritual connection to birds, especially owls. She is a third-degree Wiccan High Priestess in the Black Forest Clan and the author of Power Spellcraft for Life, Solitary Wicca for Life, The Way of the Green Witch, and The Way of the Hedge Witch. She lives and bird-watches with her husband and two children.

Here’s the back-flap:

Birds are all around us building nests for their eggs, perching on a nearby tree branch, floating freely on a breath of wind. But do you ever feel like a bird might be trying to connect with you or even tell you something? This book can help you figure out the special message your visitor is trying to share. Inside this lovely illustrated field guide you’ll find everything you need to decipher the unique meaning behind each individual bird sighting. From physical description to folklore, each of the common bird species detailed within has a story and a unique symbolism which will help reveal the changes these mystical creatures want you to make in your life. With this enlightening volume as your inspiration, get ready to take a look at your life from a bird’s eye view one robin, crow, and hummingbird at a time!

Hello! For those who are new to Culture Shocks…WELCOME! Let me take a moment and introduce myself and some of the projects I’m working on.

Here you will find my personal journal entries, stories, poetry, quotes, and photos of things I find fascinating. Occasionally, I share snippets from my myriad of hobbies that I rotate on a seasonal basis. Stick with me long enough, you’ll realize that even though I’ve chosen birds as my focus, I tend to get off on a tangent due to disparate connections I make. I blog sporadically and randomly. I may do 5 entries for A2Z in one day, go AWOL, and return with full vigor. My attempt to blog on a schedule has been futile so far!

Ah! A face to a name! My name is Sa. Nice to meet you! 🙂

I wear many hats literally and figuratively. I’m an audacious sister, friend, daughter, grad student, Rotarian, technical writer, businesswoman, Toastmaster, volunteer for multiple causes, and more. My blog is my comforting oasis, though I may occasionally vent here when I have nowhere else to go.

For those of you who have been here a while, I finished my 1st crochet-a-long with the alumni for the month of March! I’m happy they evaluated my crochet partner and me very highly. They remarked that it was fun and engaging! I was happy to see the flowers again after such a devastating freeze over our state in February. Easter is just around the corner. Spring is here!

I’m getting my COVID vaccine tomorrow morning at the stadium. The current climate surrounding Asian Americans that has swept the nation has had me reminiscing about the past. I purposely remain vague though I relate to various stories that have been shared across various social media platforms. My main question is what will I do moving forward.

The alumni book club has gotten into some interesting reads. Though, I’m having some difficulty finishing the book, “The Biggest Bluff” by Maria Konikova. I’m wrapping up on “Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones” by James Clear. We’re about to start “The Midnight Library” by Matt Haig. I’m still working through some bloggers’ books and poignant poetry as well.

I’m resuming collaboration with a blogger on some poetry regarding some fragrances. I work as a beauty consultant and I thought it would be a fun way to learn about all the fragrances that I’m unfamiliar with. I was so inspired by his work that I thought I could explore the sensation of smell!

I’m currently hooked on the Home Edits Show. I recently de-cluttered my space of many books, clothes, and papers. I found that I didn’t miss them as much as I thought I would, even books that were formally my favorites. I think it’s because there’s only so much that I can focus on in the present that I don’t have time to linger on any items that are associated with my past. Even though it was a massive undertaking, I still feel like I could use some help. There’s some things I still feel like I can let go. Reorganize my crafts supplies. Change particular containers. I have a vision. I determined to make it happen. Previously, I was intrigued by Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. It has helped me immensely, though I think I didn’t follow it completely. It’s still a work in progress!

I’m also enjoying a remix of Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No.2

Alrighty, that wraps up my intro for now! I hope to reconnect with new and veteran participants of the A to Z challenge! I look forward to reading your blog posts!

#Paint-Chip Poem 49: The Romantic Gift

“Maybe our Happily Ever After hadn’t worked on the first shot. And maybe Happily Ever Afters weren’t a singular event. Maybe they were something you had to work at, and build, and never give up on, as long as they were something you still wanted.” 

Only Mostly Devastated by Sophie Gonzales

Pitter patter of rain subsides & puddle evaporates
As the sun rays reaches the ground’s surface
Overjoyed and egg-static, the suave gentleman
Egg-xits the grand foyer in great stride and
Moon walks across the outdoor patio
Over to the fireplace where he takes a seat
Chilly air lingers – hearthstone warm to the touch
Emotions resembling to the lyrics of a Tangerine Dream song

You've been out of my life sometime now
Seem like a long, long while
Sometimes the thoughts of you
Bring tears to my eyes
While the times that bring a smile
I remember what you told me
We would always be close in our hearts

He gingerly snaps open a leather jewelry box
Marveling at the vintage turquoise Faberge egg earrings
Rated highly by the jeweler he bought it from
Excited to surprise his beloved on her birthday
The symbolism behind her birthstone alone
Wisdom, tranquility, protection, hope
Qualities to seal the relationship with good fortune
Giving it to her should be easy-peasy
Yet their long-distance history together
Makes for a complex arrangement

In reference to:

A Golden Age

Gazing upon her most cherished possession resting upon her porch, her radio sparked an occasion to revisit yesteryear. She flicked the switch for her electric candles and stared the lit bulbs which lighted a path for her to access her memory.

World War II was over and new, exciting things were on the horizon. The crackling fireplace kept her family warm during Christmas time as they listened to Nat King Cole sing.

YouTube: Nat King Cole – The Christmas Song

As a little girl, she relished in a comedy-mystery radio program, the Abbott Mysteries, which led her to explore her now life-long career as detective. One of her favorite memories though was when her father found a marvelous tree topper that seem to symbolize better things for the new year.

Image Credit: Etsy

In response to:

Christmas Lights

Season Greetings! Took a selfie with our snowman from the countryside! How we found him is a quaint story. He was abandoned by his original owners. Mom and I were going for a walk in the neighborhood, when we noticed a series of wired sculptures getting ready to be tossed in the trash. We decided to give them a new home at our place and picked up some deer and other fixtures. I wrapped some new lights around them to renew its lease on life.

This year I enjoyed various holiday light shows on YouTube. There are some incredibly talented artists out there! One of my favorites is the song, Blinding Lights, by The Weeknd.

Seeing him go live this past September on a skyscraper was a fantastic view despite not having an audience.

A Beautiful Sight

When I walk in the morning sunlight, the brisk air feels fantastic. I’m grateful that it’s only 51 degrees Fahrenheit where I’m located and not -8 degrees where some of my friends are located. However, it feels like 37 degrees. No snow just yet. Refreshing, not unbearable.

I’m sitting indoors marveling a beautiful sight. My Christmas cards.

Simple ornaments with colorful geometric designs and patterns. They’re certainly not Papyrus, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I feel good about my Christmas cards this year because I was able to help protect 160 kids from polio through the Rotary Club’s Polio Plus card program.

If you would like to learn more, you may visit: www.endpolio.org

Most of the time I generally listen to soft, slow Christmas music. The classics. This year I’m leaning into flashy, fast paced, sparkling numbers. Currently jamming out to Meghan Trainor and Lindsey Sterling!

Jojo is adorable in her dance number and dazzling outfits! Her energy

#Paint-Chip Poem: Think of Me Fondly

Image Credit: Telegraph, Why the Faroe Islands needs 37 words for fog

Far from the rolling hills of Denmark,
lies Aalborg’s famous House of Music.
Beyond the brushed aluminum exterior,
audience members gaze upon the stage

Opera enthusiasts wait for the singer
With shut eyes, she whispers “open sesame
as the invisible curtains part ways in her mind
Starry backdrop of lapis lazuli skies
gives way to her glowing presence

A brilliant spotlight shines upon her
Thousands of sparkles glitter across the stage
Her melodious voice flowed with honey
with no signs of rusty inflections

Image Credit: Think of Me (The Phantom of the Opera, 2004)

Think of me, think of me fondly 
When we’ve said goodbye 
Remember me, once in a while 
Please promise me you’ll try 
When you find that once again you long 
To take your heart back and be free 
If you ever find a moment 
Spare a thought for me

“Think of Me”, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Phantom of the Opera

Image Credit: Musikkens Hus, Aalborg House of Music, Aalborg, Denmark

Home, Sweet Home

There’s nothing as frightening and threatening as the loss of your home. It uproots feelings of security, disturbs your daily routine, affects your health…

“The ache for home lives in all of us. The safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.” 
― Maya Angelou, All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes

Sweet
Laughter
Dreams grow
Fellowship occurs
More than just four walls
Where you feel safe and sound
A space where attached feelings linger
Where you relax and unwind from your day
Shelters you from both figurative and literal storms

Throughout my life, I have seen friends and family experience the anxiety of losing their homes from hurricanes, lightning bolts, fires, crushing debts, job loss, arson, gas leaks… you name it. It’s overwhelmingly tragic. It’s fascinating when insurance policies calls some of these events, “acts of God“, natural hazards outside of your control.

Despite such a loss, it’s remarkable when I see the community help one another get back on their feet. Sometimes, strangers show random acts of kindness through gifts and sharing resources.

“Cherish the people who make up your home, and you’ll notice the hearth fires burn brighter than ever before.” 
― Thomas Kinkade

Recurring nightmares of our home being on fire used to haunt my dreams. As a child, I used to unplug all appliances and tried to cure my insomnia as I nestled between my parents as they were sleeping. I prayed for these nightmares to go away. Throughout my life, those unforgettable memories spurred me to action to help others in another sphere.

Due to this understandable fear, I regularly help others on the brink of losing their homes or who have already lost their homes. Those stories are for another day. Today, I’ll focus on sharing the story of one lifestyle blogger in dire need to save his mother’s house.

Meet Mr.A

Arnie Correa (otherwise known as Mr.A) is a lifestyle blogger on A Barbarian in Gentlemen’s Clothing. He’s a father of a beautiful, young girl. I’ve followed him for a year now and his readership grew quickly because of his consistent hard work and thought-provoking articles.

His father and mother worked very hard for 20 years to save money to build their dream home in the Philippines. His mother contracted pulmonary edema, and as a result, she could not make her monthly bank payments on time. His family will lose their house in three months unless they can raise enough money to pay the bank.

To learn more about his mom’s story, you can visit here: Help Me Save My Mother’s House

His readership has reached a few milestones and generously pitched in, but he still has a long way to go to reach his goal to help his mother. Job market has been tough for him. So, he has multiple fundraising avenues:

  1. Gogetfunding.comhttps://gogetfunding.com/help-me-save-my-mothers-house/
  2. Paypal https://paypal.me/arniecorrea?locale.x=en_US
  3. Patreonhttps://www.patreon.com/user?u=32646507
  4. Fiverproofreading services

I’m passing along another blogger’s plea for help. If the story touches you, please share the post on social media channels or donate. Even if the story doesn’t touch you, consider using his proofreading services at $5 a pop. He can help you take your writing to the next level and give you some helpful feedback. Language buffs out there: if you want to learn a new language, he’s teaching Tagalog. One-on-one sessions with a native speaker is a perk.

Have a great day everyone! Don’t take your home for granted. Be blessed! 🌻❤🤲

Phillip Phillips – Home

Hold on, to me as we go
As we roll down this unfamiliar road
And although this wave is stringing us along
Just know you’re not alone
‘Cause I’m going to make this place your home
Settle down, it’ll all be clear
Don’t pay no mind to the demons
They fill you with fear
The trouble it might drag you down
If you get lost, you can always be found…

“What is home? My favorite definition is “a safe place,” a place where one is free from attack, a place where one experiences secure relationships and affirmation. It’s a place where people share and understand each other. Its relationships are nurturing. The people in it do not need to be perfect; instead, they need to be honest, loving, supportive, recognizing a common humanity that makes all of us vulnerable.” 
Gladys Hunt, Honey for a Child’s Heart: The Imaginative Use of Books in Family Life

The Importance of Play: A Mysterious Lion Captivates

As we grow older, our playgrounds change – where do you go to play?

Shelley @ Quaint Revival
Created a word cloud with Background Image from Rudy and Peter Skitterians from Pixabay

Hello there! Hope you are all well and safe!

Shelley’s quote peaked my interest today. How often do we neglect this area of our lives dismissing play as being infantile and frivolous? Throughout history, many influential people asserted the importance of play.

  • Albert Einstein: “Play is the highest form of research.”
  • Mr. Rogers: Play gives children a chance to practice what they’re learning.”
  • Johan Huizinga: “Culture arises and unfolds in and as play.”
  • Abraham Maslow: “Almost all creativity involves purposeful play.”
  • Roger von Oech: Necessity may be the mother of invention, but play is certainly the father.

Play relieves stress by releasing feel-good endorphins. It improves connections with your relationships which can help ward off depression. Play helps increase vitality and helps replace negative beliefs and behaviors. For adults it can be something small like flirting with your partner, joking with your coworkers, or enjoying spontaneity with your relatives.

A Young Adult’s Playground

There are patterns which emerge in one’s life, circling and returning anew, an endless variation of a theme.

Jacqueline Carey, Kushiel’s Chosen

A few days ago, I received a gift in the mail. As I unwrapped the box, I was stunned by the beauty of “Mysterious Lion”, a wooden Unidragon puzzle. I found out my thoughtful siblings mailed it to me as a surprise for my birthday. Mom called the night before and laughed when I told her I received a “toy”.

My eyes got watery. Unintentionally, the gift was rather meaningful and symbolic for me. VJ invited her readers to think about circling this week. For me, the invitation to play again was coming back full circle. I remembered the joy I felt to complete a puzzle as a child. Even though it’s been a while since I physically completed one, I was always attracted to things resembling a puzzle. Circling around the idea of solving a mystery.

My heart swelled a bit when my Facebook wall was flooded with lovely messages from local friends. It’s a strange sight to behold since I’m typically not active there. Since the quarantine however, all sorts of groups popped up to hang out. I had trouble choosing a non-profit to invite donations this year. So, I created a short video featuring non-profits that help the local community to drum up support.

Google Arts and Culture partnered with more than 2000 museums all around the world. I virtually explored some of these spaces and their exhibits. In the evening, I watched Verdi’s opera, Un Ballo de Maschera, a free nightly streaming at the Metropolitan Opera.

I had a very small gathering to celebrate in my cozy home. My roommates created a tasty meal of BBQ ribs, asparagus, mashed potatoes, ambrosia salad, chocolate cake with coconut-pecan icing. My boyfriend helped me build a desk as we enjoyed chatting with one another. My friend gave me hilarious t-shirts, Hawaiian floral hair clips, makeup which I’ll probably feature soon on Instagram.

Creating this banner made me feel pretty happy and features my bright personality. 😉 Sometimes it’s the little things that can bring a smile to your face. 😊