You are blood. You are sisters. No man can break that bond.

In 2012, I reunited with my birth family in Taipei, Taiwan. I had been searching for them for nearly three years before making contact with my oldest sister via email. I had the help of a social worker who was also Taiwanese. Going back to Taiwan, the country of my birth, was one of the most profound and beautiful experiences I have ever had. To walk the streets of my home town was simply magical, and the ten days I spent with my sisters were extraordinary.

My sisters are older than me by ten and eleven years. I also have an older brother, a niece and a couple of nephews, and an Uncle, who is the patriarch of our family. Unfortunately, our parents had already passed away, so I did not have the opportunity to meet them. I continue to keep in touch with my sisters, brother, and niece via social media and hope to return to Taiwan next year.

The drawing above is of my sisters and I – my second sister is to the left and eldest sister to the right. I’ve been wanting to do a sketch of the three of us for awhile now, and after a visit with a dear friend of mine from Arizona, I was inspired to finally put it to canvas.

If you’d like to learn more about my reunion, you can actually read my memoir, Beyond Two Worlds: A Taiwanese-American Adoptee’s Memoir and Search for IdentityContact me if you’d like an autographed copy, as I have a few soft covers still available.

To my sisters, you are an inspiration.

Quote above by Kim Boykin, A Peach of a Pair

soul art

there is nothing wrong with discomfort. Pay attention to how it feels…

I was listening to The Power of Sacred Business, Lead from the Heart Series by Shereen Sun this morning. LMFT and founder of DharmaBridge, Kelly Blaser, was the guest. She talked about growing your sacred business and most interestingly to me, about cultural conditioning. Under the larger umbrella of cultural conditioning exists the conditioned mind. Our conditioned minds live inside a conversation about ourselves. I understood this to be how we perceive the messages society throws at us and how we interpret and apply those messages to ourselves. We’re in this space of “conditioned mind” a lot of the time – Kelly explained that we’re hypnotized by it; however, it’s just a conversation in our minds – We’re hallucinated into thinking it’s the truth, and we behave based upon that collective hallucination. Kelly further explained that in our society, there is a conditioning that’s agreed upon. For example, we happen to agree that we are more worthy if we have more degrees…More education and credentials equal more worthiness, which is actually just a construct. This is an example of a culturally agreed upon conditioned belief. Holy cow, I’ve totally bought into this agreement! Furthermore, I believe that I have this overachiever construct due to my own issues related to adoption, which manifests as perfectionism. I thought about how much time and energy I spend on negative self-talk,  trying to achieve more, and avoid the pain that comes with others disliking me. Kelly believes that there is a way to flip this or reframe this conditioned mindset. We have an opportunity to liberate ourselves from anything that goes against our conditioning. The moment you begin to walk through the discomfort, e.g., anxiety, being liked, conflict, self-hatred, etc., you’re in the process of burning away your conditioned patterns. I hate discomfort. I want things to be easy, for pete’s sake. Well, if you can burn away your conditioned patterns, then you begin to return yourself to the truth of who you are, which is infinite possibility. Okay, so it’s a process, maybe a long, uncomfortable process with a lot of heat. Moving through the discomfort helps you find liberation. It’s in the walking…If you can experience the heat of the discomfort and think of it as a kharmic seed that’s being burned away, and if it didn’t burn away it would just take root and create the same conditions you’ve been accustomed to, then you can eventually experience liberation.

I like that Kelly said there is nothing wrong with discomfort. Pay attention to how it feels. The more you can unhook from what you think the discomfort means and actually be with the discomfort, realizing that it’s fine, it’s not a problem, the more you begin to burn away separate self patterns, or the parts of the conditioned mind that perhaps weren’t benefitting you. Drop what was, and step into what’s new.

All of this made a lot of sense to me, as I’ve been in a lot of discomfort lately, and it has been pretty awful. The piece above came out of this discomfort. It was intuitive (as most of my sketches are at this point), and I wasn’t quite sure what would emerge. Soul art, soul practice. At first, I wasn’t happy with how it turned out, but I thought that was perhaps a metaphor for how I felt about myself at the moment. Today, as I finished the piece, I felt a little better about just sitting with the discomfort I feel until it doesn’t feel uncomfortable anymore. I added pink into the background. Pink is a color I associate with warmth, cheer, peace and cotton candy – the good feelies. Maybe that’s my intuition telling me, I’m walking through the heat and doing my best to patiently transform my conditioned mind. I think it’s gonna be awhile. If you’re feeling discomfort today, you’re definitely not alone. It’s a soul journey, and I’m happy to share it with you.


dreaming of taipei

one day I’ll return to Taiwan; until then I can dream.

This is a light sketch I drew this morning. The inspiration behind it is the reunion in Taipei, Taiwan, that I had with my birth family in 2012. Unfortunately, I haven’t been back since. I met my two older biological sisters and their spouses, my older brother, my uncle, and nieces and nephews after nearly three years of searching. My birth parents had both passed away, so I did not have the opportunity to meet them, although my sisters gave me photos of them. Our reunion occurred during the Lunar New Year. I long to go back and visit my family, thus the silhouette of the Taipei skyline sitting in the background. I drew the silhouette from a vector I found on Google. The tall building with the spire on top is Taipei 101, a landmark super tall skyscraper in Xinyi District, Taipei. I believe it’s still the second tallest building in the world (the first one being in Dubai). My sisters took me to this architectural wonder. There were floors and floors of high end shopping and larger than life murals of models advertising Burberry and designer fragrances. It was fantastic fun and good eating.

dreamingI later painted the drawing and didn’t like the way it turned out. I actually like the sketch better because of its simplicity. Oh well, it’s good to keep practicing. One day, I’ll return to Taiwan. Until then, I can dream.

a river of joy

when you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy

My family and I took a vacation to Florida recently. We went to Epcot Center, which I haven’t had the opportunity to visit since I lived in Orlando years ago. It was my daughter’s first time to Epcot. Despite the heat and humidity, it was such a fun time. I felt pure joy watching her face light up as she took in all the sights, as though she were a young child again.

Joy is something that I don’t naturally embody. I have to work at it. Typically, others tell me that I’m calm, kind, or compassionate, but never joyful. I’m pretty sure that on most days, I don’t feel particularly joyful at work – more like drained. Creating this piece put me in my joy zone straight away though. I used coloured pencils, acrylic paint, some leftover designer card stock, and a little tacky glue. After drawing the figure, I traced over the dress using white copy paper in order to create a pattern. I then cut the pattern out and cut it down further into smaller sized shapes. Next, I used the patterned shapes to cut the card stock into quilt-like “squares.” I glued the squares using tacky glue onto my canvas and mixed sage and white acrylics to paint the background.

I rarely have days like today where I spend the majority of the afternoon dabbling in art, but I intend to to make more time for it. I’m reminded of this quote by Rumi, “When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.” That is what art is for me, a river of joy.

girl with a musical heart

the beautiful thing about art is that there are all kinds of it

When I started art journaling, this was one of my first pieces. I think I completed girl with a musical heart in 2015. I have always been inspired by the artwork of Kelly Rae Roberts, who ironically started out as a clinical medical social worker. I bought her book, Taking Flight, and still go back to it for inspiration. Brené Brown is another social worker who I’m inspired by and has much to say on courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy. Social workers rock, but clearly I’m biased.

When I look at this piece now, I feel that it looks rather unfinished and almost too clean. I tend to be a perfectionist and extremely self-critical. I’m working on letting go, even though everything in me now wants to grab my paints and “fix” this piece so that it looks messier. I know other adoptees who say they struggle with perfection. It really colors my world from the appearance of my living room to body image. Now that’s a loaded topic for a female adoptee who also happens to be a not so thin Asian. Anyway, I guess the beautiful thing about art is that there are all kinds of it, and one is always evolving as an artist. In this piece, I felt inspired to include something that represented the importance of music, thus the musical heart. So here’s to music and art and creativity. Onward towards exploring and dabbling. We’ll see where this journey takes me.


the journey begins

through the arts, not only do we find community, but also healing

Thanks for joining me. I’m launching artful adoptee to share my thoughts, ideas, and lived experiences through the lens of art, music, film, dance, and prose. In this busy world, I find myself ever drawn to quieter places where I can create and contemplate the things that inspire me most.

Photo by Yannis Papanastasopoulos on Unsplash

Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time. — Thomas Merton