braver than you believe

“You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”

Namaste! Did you know that May is National Mental Health Awareness Month? In my opinion, it should be mental health awareness day, every day. As NAMI asks, “Why care?” Because 1 in 5 people will be affected by mental illness in their lifetime. Many do not disclose struggles with mental health/mental illness due to stigma, shame and others’ general lack of understanding. Don’t let not knowing what to say prevent you from reaching out to someone who may be battling depression, anxiety or a more serious mental illness, or getting help for them.

I have struggled with anxiety for as long as I can remember. I hide it well. Many times I’ve been told that I appear to be a calm, peaceful person. Inside, however, it’s often a different story. Yoga has helped me tremendously as I’ve gotten older to feel and stay grounded. And music is one of my first go-to’s when feeling stressed. Yes, I listen to really loud music in my car on the way in to work and on the way home after work! Lately, I’ve been listening to the “Songs that Saved My Life” playlist on Spotify (as well as a lot of 80’s music).  Songs that Saved My Life is a charity compilation of songs for mental health awareness and suicide prevention. The album is centered around music that played a pivotal role in the lives of artists and fans that benefits mental health and suicide prevention charities. Artists cover versions of  songs that helped them get through tough times and share those stories.

The art piece above was inspired by wanting to promote greater awareness and understanding around mental health. I drew it this morning before heading to lunch for Mother’s Day and worked on painting it this afternoon using acrylics, watercolor and colored pencil. It felt good to draw today, as I’ve been so busy with other things that I haven’t gotten to it in awhile.

To learn more about mental illness, visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness. And check out the STSML playlist on Spotify, and follow #STSML on Instagram. There’s some really great stuff. Two of my favorites are “I Spend Too Much Time in My Room” by The Band CAMINO and “Torn” covered by Neck Deep. Lastly, I love the quote above by Christopher Robbins to Winnie the Pooh. When I’m feeling self-critical or exhausted from a long work week, it helps reframe my thoughts. I hope it does the same for you.

National Suicide Prevention Hotline: Call 1-800-273-8255 for 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals.

Crisis Text Hotline: Text HOME to 741741 – for free, 24/7, crisis support in the U.S.

 

balance & power

May your 2019 be your happiest, healthiest and most peaceful year yet.

Hello and Happy New Year! It’s been a beautiful morning thus far. I started my morning with a hot cup of coffee and finished my first pencil sketch of 2019. It’s still a little rough, but I like how she’s turning out.

I’m thrilled to let go of 2018 and to usher in a brand new year. I don’t typically set New Year’s resolutions, but I have set an intention for 2019, as the title of this post alludes to: Balance and Power. Last year was one of professional discovery and growth; however, I did a very poor job taking care of myself physically, emotionally and spiritually. It was a challenging year, yet that is how growth occurs, through the bumps, scrapes and bruises. I have a much greater sense of who I am and where I’m going in 2019.

Personally, I did not make enough time for good health, nutritionally or physically, primarily because I was so tired! My work/life balance was seriously out of whack, and once that happens, it becomes a vicious cycle. I’m making self-care and self-compassion a top priority this year. My intention is to create a more balanced life, daily, and to increase power within by recognizing/accepting my strengths, gifts and talents, not allowing my weaknesses to limit me. I feel that the piece above inspires me to face what may come with strength, balance and grace, one day at a time.

May your 2019 be your happiest, healthiest and most peaceful year yet!

Cheers…

faerie maiden

Happy holidays, folks! I hope you’re enjoying the season and spending lots of time with family and friends. I’m in beautiful La Jolla, California, with my family enjoying the cool weather and magical sunsets.

We spent Christmas day at home in Long Beach with some good friends and ate plenty of sweet potato casserole and homemade apple pie. I’m officially sugared out. I began working on the piece above last weekend. I decided not to paint it. I love whimsical art, faeries and have always been drawn to the magical. Drawing this piece reminded me to stay young at heart for as long as possible. Life is so short, and you never know what tomorrow will bring. I’m not one for making New Year’s resolutions, but I truly hope to invite more ease into my life in 2019 as well as self compassion. 2018 was a tough year personally and professionally, and I’m more than happy to let it go. So, here’s to the last few days of 2018. I look forward to ringing in 2019!

Cheers…

true beauty

True beauty is not in the color of your skin nor shape of your body. True beauty is the courage to make peace with your imperfections and tune out all body shaming.

Yesterday, my co-workers decorated my little work cubicle for my birthday. A chocolate cake was waiting, sitting on a pretty, white platter. I hadn’t eaten breakfast, and it was almost noonish, so I cut myself a slice and ate it with relish. When I offered a piece to a twenty-something year old down the way, she kindly refused and promptly said, “I’m on a really strict diet.” Four or five years ago, I would have said and done the very same thing.

I have struggled with negative body image for a greater part of my life. For many, many years, I bought into dieting, fasting, body shaming, and generally wasting lots of energy on trying to look as thin as possible. I have a small frame, as most Asian women, yet in high school, all of the southern fried comfort food I grew up on caught up with me. I put on a few extra pounds, and others began making comments about it.

In college, I struggled with orthorexia. That term was not around at that time, and although it’s not in the DSM V, it is currently recognized as an eating disorder. “The term ‘orthorexia’ was coined in 1998 and means an obsession with proper or ‘healthful’ eating. Although being aware of and concerned with the nutritional quality of the food you eat isn’t a problem in and of itself, people with orthorexia become so fixated on so-called ‘healthy eating’ that they actually damage their own well-being (National Eating Disorders Association).” It was not unusual for me to exercise 3-4 times per day when I was at the height of my orthorexic tendencies. I binged then starved myself then went to the gym or popped in an exercise video to burn off the calories I consumed. I was also enrolled in multiple dance classes throughout college. My weight fluctuated across the years. When I felt too heavy, I dieted. Slim fast was my usual go-to. Needless to say, deprivation was something I practiced regularly.

Until recently, I continued to feel unhappy about my body. I discovered a podcast, Food Psych, hosted by Christy Harrison, a Registered (anti-diet) Dietician and Intuitive Eating Coach, that has turned my understanding of how diet culture perpetuates unrealistic and unhealthy body image. She advocates strongly for ending our culture’s stigma against heavier-bodied people and our society’s obsession with thinness and six-pack abs. The term “fat” is also not a bad or dirty word. It just is. I have fallen in love with Christy’s podcast and listen to it regularly. I highly recommend it.

I’m certainly not where I’d like to be. I still sometimes obsess over my body not looking the way that I’d like it to, and I’m not the healthiest eater anymore. In the past, I watched everything I ate and had what I called “self-control.” No gluten, no red meat, no nitrates, no sugar, no salad dressing, no sauces, hold the carbs, no sweets, no chips, no bread, no movie popcorn or popcorn at all, small portion sizes, nothing processed…But I’ve become much more aware of how damaging these habits are, and I stop myself when toxic thoughts enter my mind. I used to obsess over going to the gym, or lack thereof. I’m typically too exhausted from work to hit the gym these days, but when I do go, I try to be as mindful as possible, working on feeling stronger and healthy rather than losing weight or being thinner. So the piece above came out of making a break from diet culture and body shaming. I have to take it one day at a time. It’s my birthday, so yes, dessert is on the menu.