Posted in Culture, Events, Photography

Kinda Square Photo Challenge

Featured Image by lisa runnels from Pixabay

Hi everyone! Becky Winchester over at the Life of B has hosted another square photo challenge (KindaSquare) for October. This month’s theme is related to kindness:

  • Something of the kind (mirror images, carbon copies and doubles)
  • Our imagination kindled (inspire us!)
  • Of its kind (a unique object or could be a picture of nature and wildlife)
  • Kindred spirits (kindness in action or photographs of people)
  • Take kindly to (something you like such as my Warbler on Sunday or Ellie’s cheese)

Kinda Square’ Rules:

  1. Take a square photograph of something that reflects the theme
  2. Create your post for any day in October, and pingback to one of my daily squares
  3. Include the theme’s tag – KindaSquare
  4. Leave a comment on my post as well as your link
  5. Whether you post squares or not, be a kind member of the Square team and make time to visit others and the square galleries

I took some creative liberties with my gallery frames and included all 31 shots! Enjoy! 🙂

1. Volunteered at Habitat for Humanity with this gal! We chatted about our favorite Korean dramas!
2. Our Rotary Club hosted a fundraiser to build these cool mini-libraries around town.
3. 10 Bit Works is an awesome maker space. Members build all sorts of neat projects here!
4. These cute scarecrows are a sight for sore eyes at the coffee shop!
5. These ducks were not afraid of me at all! They waddled right at me expecting a meal!
6. Meet Chi-Chi and Coco, our lovely parakeets!
7. So many monarch butterflies on my morning walk!
8. Lovely flowers that remind me of a trumpet!
9. Gwangju Pagada’s entrance is really inviting!
10. Love the heavy contrast of light and dark! This sole leaf caught my attention!
11. What a peaceful pond! The saturated colors were so calming!
12. These fascinating tree root knots created a woven masterpiece of light and shadows.
13. An incredible fire show at a local Japanese restaurant!
14. An incredibly beautiful and ornate church door of a UNESCO Heritage site!
15. Nothing like an obstacle course to start your morning! It’s harder than it looks!
16. I’m grateful for the ability to vote. I have friends on all sides. It’s been a crazy election cycle.
17. These purple berries look so delectable, but they might be poisonous. So… NO SA!
18. Take a seat! I always welcome a park bench when I see one. Wonderful conversations take place.
19. Such a bright, cheery lot!
20. I was climbing a tree, and I saw this curious tag. I wonder whose studying this tree!
21. This lovely, clay nativity set was made in Mexico. A blend between simplicity and symmetry!
22. I absolutely love pop-up greeting cards!
23. San Japan anime convention poster is stunning! Sparks a sense of wonder!
24. I love how the sun light hits this particular flower. It was such a gorgeous day!
25. There’s always a compelling story behind an old, rusty piece of machinery!
26. I love stories that begin with ‘Once upon a time’! Every person has a story to share!
27. During the pandemic, I began to cherish this pink bubble of positivity.
28. This park has a “Kindness Rock Garden” where people can pick a rock and paint it for others.
29. I wonder what the artist was thinking when he made this sculpture!
30. The little boy wants to take the moon home with him!
31. My friends had such a lovely floral arrangement when I visited them!
Posted in awareness, Culture, Events, flashback, Quotes, Social Justice

Stepping Outside My Comfort Bubble

Good afternoon everyone, I hope you’ve been well!

I delayed this post for a while, but now, I figure it might be a cathartic experience to share a few my feelings behind the scenes. Sometimes, I hold things privately inside too long with nowhere to turn. Even my own family doesn’t want to chat about it too long, because they have things to do and lives to live.

Back in May, Shenequa Golding, a writer on Medium, wrote an article, “Maintaining Professionalism In The Age of Black Death Is….A Lot

I just witnessed the lynching of a black man, but don’t worry Ted, I’ll have those deliverables to you end of the day.

Shenequa Golding.

A friend shared that article with me, and I concurred. Remaining composed at work without feeling exasperated in the midst of current events took a lot of effort.

Last year, I was sitting in the school cafeteria chatting to a friend about the “Black Lives Matter” movement. I told him how interesting that it was raising awareness about various instances of systemic racism and how people were quickly mobilizing.

He responded, “What started off as a well-meaning cause turned into an anti-white sentiment.” He continues to explain about the New Black Panthers Party and goes on to describe certain parallels.

As I listened to his story, I realized that my current knowledge-base regarding various societal issues seemed out of date.

What Does It Mean to Live in a Bubble?

Image by Lars_Nissen from Pixabay

When I was a teenager, I had a classmate who jokingly asked another girl, his crush, sitting in front of me, “Did I just pop your bubble?” He was pretending to sprinkle fairy dust on everyone. (Imagination was prized in my circles. 😉 )

It was the first time I heard of that phrase. I was curious as people in my life frequently peppered their conversations with this phrase. But, what does it actually mean? This morning I look to the members of Quora to see what they have to say:

To live in a bubble means you’re refusing to update your information pipelines for a changing world and your changing role in it, which lowers your chances of success in life, and likely annoys everyone you interact with. You have a particular information network. That’s what you know and trust. You’ve settled into it over the last few years because you genuinely feel it’s the best route to balanced, quality information like literally everyone else thinks.” – John Kyle Varley

“The saying “living in a bubble” is similar to that of “living under a rock.” Both sayings imply that you are separated from society. Bubbles for the most part are translucent. So, someone who lives in a bubble can see what goes on in society but is completely sheltered. However, it is very easy to pop someone’s bubble, or break the barrier that separates them from the rest of the world.” – Ruth Ipince

Used during political discourse it means surrounding yourself with only opinions similar to your own and unwillingness to even listen to contrary opinions or evidence.” – J. J. Grey

To me, living in a bubble means, I am attending my basic needs. Until those are satisfied, my interest is largely focused there. Until peoples’ basic needs are met, access to non-toxic food, access to unadulterated and clean drinking water, access to health care, and safe living conditions, keeping up with the latest news and events that don’t directly affect them, is not a priority.” – Barb Kueber

Shielding My Mental Health

A few months earlier, I was resting for the sake of my mental health and took a break from blogging. I even requested a leave of absence from school for a period of time because my concentration was broken by things I could not ignore.

I started to set boundaries about how much news I was going to consume. I just needed enough to know what was going on, but some days I wanted to follow a trail on a particular topic. Avoiding the temptation to click and read proved to be difficult. Before I knew it, minutes turned into hours and hours turned into days.

I started writing fragments of my thoughts back in May thinking I could share what I was experiencing in real-time, but I put it aside because I was too upset. I felt like I had to keep up with my peers by raising awareness otherwise, it would seem like I didn’t care, but it was difficult.

While some of my friends were protesting, there were some on the other side of the spectrum who didn’t care at all or at least care for the riots anyway. I felt like some kind of change could be brought about afterward despite the violence and destruction, as it did for the LGBT+ community post-Stonewall. I wanted time to process and think and return to it later.

I’ve been consumed with grief and anger concerning current events in the United States. Transforming this anger to some form of compassion takes time. Even now, I just seem to be shaking as I type. Friends and neighbors have protested, fought for justice, and created activist groups in the midst of a COVID-19 surge.

Personal thoughts back in May

Processing the Deluge

My friends’ timelines and social feeds were suddenly packed with resources, books, ideas, art shows, and gatherings. Then, the protesters and riots began to organize. My mother called me informing me that some protesters destroyed several businesses around town.

It was sad to see the aftermath of the destruction before our eyes. Though this was a fact, I felt like she said some careless things afterward, and I attempted to stay calm and explain how emotionally upset people were at various injustices that she might not be completely aware of.

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

One of the leaders in my service organization gave an impassioned speech about interrupting your happy bubble for just a moment to consider the various things that blacks in America experience on a daily basis. He listed various things in his day-to-day life, experiences surrounding racial profiling, and shielding his one year son from these topics until he was older.

I don’t think defunding the police is a wise course of action, as there are good officers who help protect and lay down their life for their community. However, police brutality is a serious issue to address.

Photo by Julian Wan on Unsplash

When news broke out about Ahmaud Arbery, I cried when I found out about the story. Earnestly, I decided to run for justice out of support of a fellow runner. I couldn’t jog downtown with the other advocates with the pandemic going on, so I jogged 2.23 miles around the field by myself. I posted #IRunForMaud hashtags wherever I could. My idle mind asked, “What else can I do in the middle of the pandemic?”

Stay informed, for one thing. I’m currently reading “Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson, an attorney who founded the Equal Justice Initiative. It was dedicated to “defending the poor, the wrongly condemned, and those trapped in the furthest reaches of our criminal justice system.”

The Indignity of Microaggressions

One day, on my way to the Spanish club, I noticed that the Black Student Union at my school posted about various graphics briefly describing “microaggressions” to their social media pages. At the time, I was unaware that there was even a term for things I noticed in my daily life.

Andrew Limbong, a reporter for National Public Radio, interviewed Kevin Nadal, a professor of psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, who spent years researching and writing books on the effects of microaggressions. As these big structural issues play out, he says it’s important to confront the small stuff.

To be clear, the “micro” in microaggression doesn’t mean that these acts can’t have big, life-changing impacts. They can, which is all the more reason to address them when you see them.

Andrew Limbong, NPR article – “Microaggressions Are A Big Deal: How To Talk Them Out And When To Walk Away

Kevin Nadal: Microaggressions are defined as the everyday, subtle, intentional — and oftentimes unintentional — interactions or behaviors that communicate some sort of bias toward historically marginalized groups.

The difference between microaggressions and overt discrimination or macroaggressions, is that people who commit microaggressions might not even be aware of them.

Someone commenting on how well an Asian American speaks English, which presumes the Asian American was not born here, is one example of a microaggression. 

Building a Bridge When You Don’t Feel Like It

Solemnly smiling, Kevin described an experience that I’ve encountered before. At the time, I was very surprised, but not necessarily hurt. Then, my mother’s thoughts trail in my mind. “When people first look at you, they’re going to see an Asian first, then American later.”

I was more hurt when that same elderly woman thought I had a fifth-grade education and called me a fraud. She proceeded to “teach” me as I was serving her as a cashier in the checkout lane. The peculiar thing was that, in the midst of this unnerving interaction, I took a deep breath and was nice and patient with her.

I wanted to overcome these tenuous bonds. I felt like I walking in a dark forest with thick, heavy brush, and if I never addressed these issues I would start to wander in grim areas if I didn’t build a bridge to cross to new destinations. The question I asked myself was, “If I choose to build this bridge, will it lead me into danger?”

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

She was delighted that someone was listening. I wasn’t sure if it was against my better judgment, but providing excellent service is my nature in spite of who I was dealing with. I could always call a manager if things got out of hand. So, I bit my tongue multiple times and wrote several personal letters of frustration and diary entries to myself.

If I was going to learn from her, she will certainly learn from me. We learn from every personal interaction, and every experience shapes us.

My thought rationale

I understood that she grew up in a particular time where many minority groups didn’t have access to certain levels of education. She had a preconceived notion of various members of society, not just Asians. We developed an extended relationship where I knew her name, her background, and her profession.

I was sympathetic when she told me someone poisoned her dog. She got to know me and my goals in life. When I told her I was moving, she took a smiling picture of me for her memory. She thanked me for being very nice to her all this time, and that she wasn’t going to forget me. Likewise, I will not forget this snarky lady with a caring heart buried underneath several cynical layers of life experiences.

The Calm After a Storm

Some of my close friends from my childhood are black. They just delivered baby boys, and I can’t imagine what they might be feeling as they hold onto their babies a little tighter. To think their lives might be more in danger due to recent events caused me some stress.

In the past, I remembered a situation where my coworker pulled out a race card just because I looked at him a little funny when he told me he was dating five women at the same time. I got really frustrated when he used this card to guilt-trip others to get out of certain responsibilities or to get away with certain behavior. However, there were times I felt sorry for him. He slept with a gun nearby at all times.

When I was a young adult, I remembered writing a paper about how I was against affirmative action policies because I wanted people to be recognized for their merit first. What I failed to realize at the time was that there are a variety of environmental factors that could be holding people back from achieving their goals.

I wonder why I feel this way. If I were raised in a completely different country with different values, would I still feel the same? Would my daily concerns be very different? Yet, a quote by Martin Luther King leaves an impact in my mind:

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

Martin Luther King

I grew up reading stories of tragic injustices surrounding American Black history: the Little Rock 9, Trayvon Martin, Breona Taylor, and multitudes of others. My parents did not and were raised learning a completely different history and narrative. I wonder if that played such a huge part in them being detached from certain issues.

It touched a nerve differently this time. It was one thing to study it in history books. It’s another to live through history in the making.

Thanks again for following along. Until next time! ❤

Posted in Culture, Dance, Nature

#Creating Context – Birds of Paradise

A funny thing happened on the way to the bedroom…

My friend gave me these beautiful paintings that his boss was giving away. These two birds look like they’re have a conversation with one another.

I was about to hang them up in my bedroom. My roommate took a look and told me the beautiful birds are called “Birds of Paradise”.

I was curious to learn more, so I Googled them. Apparently, there’s many different types of Birds of Paradise, and I came across a funny mating ritual that was quite captivating.

I’m surprised that female chicks dig this. 🙂

Posted in awareness, Concepts, Culture, Events, Quotes

#FFE 16 – Phases of the Effects of Broken Glass

People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

European Proverb

As Mel has done, I turned to Google for help in interpreting this statement that Fandango has shared with everyone. It boils down to not criticizing the character faults of others when you have similar faults. Sounds like an ideal in understanding humanity’s fragility.

I came across some very striking interpretations along the way. Below is a creative work done by tattoo artist, Sam Barber, featuring a vulnerable woman who is struck by the aftermath from the blow of broken glass. It touches on some points Mel has written about how painstaking it is to rebuild a person who has been shattered. The storms in life can rank up such fear. How can one be comforted when they’re exposed and open to another attack once the glass has been shattered?

Jentheripper – 8 Sharp Broken Glass Tattoos

My mind jumps to an extreme literal example. My memory recalled an assignment I had about “Kristallnacht”, otherwise known as “Night of Broken Glass” during November 9-10, 1938 when the Nazis brutally assaulted the Jews while everything was ravaged and shattered.

Realizing that his home was now uninhabitable, he broke down and – as he confessed in the letter – started sobbing like a child.

Jewish merchant, Martin Fröhlich
The Conversation – The forgotten mass destruction of Jewish homes during ‘Kristallnacht’

Koenigsberg’s New Synagogue took as long as 80 YEARS to rebuild from the aftermath! Now that is the recovery of a building, can you imagine the recuperation of the people? Despite these devastating events, another Kristallnacht occurred 17 years later in Turkey in September 6, 1955.

Image Credit: Greek Reporter

Below is another compelling interpretation I found from a Dutch artist who seems to favor a realism approach acknowledging that people from glass houses will always throw stones even though they shouldn’t. From this pain, one can acquire wisdom.

Image Credit: MAF RÄDERSCHEIDT 

They say people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. Maybe, but sometimes it’s a good idea. Only those who live in a fragile surrounding in consciousness and with the fantasy of danger, protect themselves. And other glass houses. Daily Painting about glass houses

Alles, was Kunst ist – A painting a day keeps the doctor away

It leads me to think of the individuals who felt this way:

Pain makes me grow. Growing is what I want. Therefore, for me pain is pleasure.

Arnold Schwarzenegger

New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings.

Lao Tzu

Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.

Kahlil Gibran
Image Credit: Envato Market

It makes me wonder why people are attracted to super human individuals who can withstand the symbolic impact of broken glass when watching a film. Perhaps it’s because we realize how fragile we can be, and anything to the contrary intrigues or inspires us.

Image Credit: Envato Market
Posted in Dreams, fiction, poetry, Quotes

Tell the Story – Marceline’s Stage Fright

Inescapable
Nowhere to turn but the now
Moon is spotlighting

After meeting with lobbyists from various advocacy groups all day, Princess Marceline attempted to sleep. Despite residing in the comfort of her castle, she was entangled in her sheets and unable to rest in her bed as she tossed and turned. In her dream, she was supposed to pitch several ideas and initiatives to help her country recover from the damage caused by war by presenting a speech in front of the people she served. Wearing a brilliant blue gown designed by fashion designer, Pierre, she marveled at the beauty of the intricate lacy French brocade near her wrists.

She pulled the curtains aside and stepped forward out to the balcony. As her subjects’ eyes attentively stared back at her, Marceline’s typical poise was disturbed by her inability to speak. She suddenly remembered something that a dear friend once shared with her which elevated her spirit.

Surfing in crowds is like mind over matter. If I don’t mind it don’t matter.”

Brodus Rogers

Her trembling was imperceptible from such a far distance, but she refused to be daunted by the anxiety of her temporary muteness. She drew in strength from her loyal, dedicated audience and smiled. She turned to her interpreter on the right and began performing sign language. The interpreter read her hands and began speaking into the mike and out to the crowd before her, “Thank you for coming out today. Contrary to a popular critic’s prediction that the crowd will not come out due to the cold and rain, it seems like today is quite the exception!” Marceline slowly felt the anxiety melt away as the crowd cheered in unison.

Lucid dreams present
A chance to change the outcome
Dignity and charm

Inspired by the prompts below:

Posted in Books, Culture, Events, flashback, Music, poetry, Quotes

Waiting for the Dust to Settle

Alexander Hogue, “The Crucified Land,” oil on canvas, 1939
Reference: Russer Tether Fine Art Associates LLC

“And I know now that all the time I was trying to get
out of the dust,
the fact is,
what I am,
I am because of the dust.
And what I am is good enough.
Even for me.”

Karen Hesse, Out of the Dust

Good evening! Please forgive me for my absence, everyone. It’s been a whirlwind, and I’ve been waiting for the dust to settle, but it seems like it going to pick up again soon! Recently got back from Las Vegas travels filled with personal development nuggets, and I have fun Halloween adventures to share. I also had an enjoyable collaboration with Joey on Writing with Strangers which resulted in a Grimm inspired poem, “A Boy Named Gullible“. I’ve also been learning how to navigate the world of solicitors touting their products and services in my new job. Discerning what is really the best value for what my boss needs is… a process. 😉

Karen Hesse wrote a verse novel called, “Out of the Dust”, which is set in Oklahoma’s dust bowls during the time of the Great Depression. Billie Jo, the 14-year old protagonist, must cope with the tragic losses of her family members and forgive herself for some devastating mistakes.

I was 13 years old when I first read it, and stepping into Billie Jo’s world was an eye-opening experience. This book was the first time I encountered a full length written in poetic format. The quote above makes me wonder about the symbolism of dust in the story and how it shaped Billie Jo’s identity. I wonder how the proverbial dust in my life has affected my character.

I’m hoping taking more breaks and relaxing my mind will help me find a few answers to my homework and work responsibilities. I decided to pass on the Brain Focus supplements in the pharmacy aisle. I like to think I can naturally release the fog in my mind and wait for it to gradually clear so I can find my way ahead…

Image Credit: Tang Jiao @ Pixabay

Though, I wouldn’t mind a metaphorical leaf blower to speed up the process of blowing the brain fog away! 🙂

In response to:

  • VJ’s Weekly Challenge #71: wait
  • FOWC with Fandango: tout
Posted in Culture, Events, Nature, Photography

July Blue Squares – A Photo Conglomeration

We are at the end of Becky’s #JulySquares challenge! Thank you Becky for hosting it! I enjoyed scanning my environment for blue things. I’ve created a collage with a few photos from my busy month of July. Enjoy! 🙂

1. Your photographic square could be a ‘Bolt from the Blue’ – something unexpected or surprising

2. Alternatively why not, like I have today, explore ‘Into the wide blue yonder‘ – sky, sea or maybe a location that is appealingly unknown and mysterious

3. Or if you prefer keep it simple with ‘Blue‘ – whether that’s azure, cobalt, sapphire, cerulean, navy, ultramarine, indigo, or turquoise

And if you’re feeling particularly adventurous try to combine two of these, or maybe even all three!

Becky
Posted in Crafts, Events

Cartoon Sketch

An ephemeral network outage happened last night. I could not access the internet to do research for my homework on my laptop, read my books on my Kindle, or watch my evening Netflix shows to wind down for the day. I felt somewhat relieved that I could unplug for the day. It’s rather difficult for me to do at times.

I decided to test out one of Rory’s snifty pens that I requested and doodled in a notebook for the evening. The pen smelled like birthday cake! You inspired me last evening to create a rather interesting world…