{playing catch-up (Reverb 16-19)}

Ack! I have been writing essays, but at odd times or a day late, and then go to sleep without posting! So I decided to post all of them in one big catch-up post in an effort to get back on track. I really, really want to complete them all (even the one I passed on!) as a personal challenge and then achievement.

Last night, while watching a movie, I started doodling. And then remembered a little doodle I'd done on a Points of Two page and started drawing. I found myself asking, "Why not do little illustrations for your back-log of #Reverb10 essays?"

"Because you're not good at little illustrations like this!" my critic answered.

I shrugged. "So?"

"Fine, fine! Do whatever! But I reserve the right to tell you I told you so when people hate them!" roared the critic.

So I ignored him. I liked making little illustrations! And I want to make more!

All these were made with simple tools: Intense pencils, Caran D'Arch water-soluble crayons, & a water brush. Just a spot of fun on a cool winter night.

Click below to read the four essays from this week. I'll be posting for today's prompt tonight!

♥ samie kira



Friendship. How has a friend changed you or your perspective on the world this year? Was this change gradual, or a sudden burst?

(I almost decided not to post this, but then remembered I wanted a nice archive of this month of reflection.)

Dear Jun,

I think it’s a testament to our friendship that it survived five years of you being halfway around the world, living on an island nation (despite your fear of large bodies of water; are you sure Lake Biwa didn’t get to you?). I think it is also worth mentioning that we met back when meeting random people from the internet was still in it’s infancy - that is, people were doing it, but it wasn’t as mainstream as it’s become. Now, you sign up for Meetup groups or find dates through websites, and what I’m saying is that it makes our sideways meeting through a friend’s blog rather mundane in comparison.

Alas, it happened.

I always considered my friendship with you and your sister as being a bit equal, since you’re twins and all, and I never saw either of you, before traveling to Japan, without the other. I think you and Meg are adorable when together; in fact, for many years, I thought together, you both made one complete, hilarious person.

Hilarious, manga-loving, Japan-obsessed, fangirl.

I digress. I could sit here and write pages as to how my friendship with the pair of you has changed my life, but I’m working on reflecting this year. My longer piece, “How I Survived the T Twins,” will have to be completed at a later date.

I was insanely excited about you moving closer to me. You’d always been hours and hours or a 13-hour-plane-ride away, so the notion I could not only get to your apartment in an acceptable length of time (usually one cycle through a CD), but return the same day without spending most of my time in a car or on a plane made me giddy.

But this year, in this year, we became so close! You opened your home to me so I could escape the insanity and stress of my own home, and never made me feel bad for doing so. We went to all sorts of events and places, bantered enough to scare at least one member of the meetup group, and introduced me to said meetup group, as well as some of your JET friends.

I used to think I wasn’t worthy of a close friendship set on equal grounds. My best friend from high school always held someone else above me on the hierarchy, tilting our relationship off-balance. And during college, I went through a pretty traumatic friendship ending that left me feeling vulnerable.

You never got angry at me when I said I needed to stop or go home because I wasn’t feeling well. And I love that we can just sit there and do our own things - both on the computer with the TV in the background, comfortable with silence, with each others’ presence. I think, for the first time, I felt completely accepted for who I am, flaws and all.

This new stage in our friendship, created during this year, feels like my first adult friendship. We’re both young women (even though today’s your birthday and you may not agree with me!), single, with our nerdy habits and fannish speak and love of shipping on TV shows, etc. But above that - we can do things on our own. Your apartment became a haven of acceptance, laughter, and adventure, and knowing I could run there after a particularly difficult time just...I used to not have anywhere to go. That’s no longer the truth.

The first time you trusted me with a key to your place, I felt so honored, loved, and trusted. Not only have I discovered a new level of friendship through you, but have begun to regain my self-esteem. There’s so much to be recovered when someone simply accepts you.

Even beyond that - I know I can pick up the phone and call you and it’s like we never parted each other’s company. I will always support you and know you’re in my corner!

For the first time in my life, I feel worthy of friendship and love and all that’s inside of me.

Thank you for giving that all back to me, and for so, so much more.



not all lessons

Lesson Learned. What was the best thing you learned about yourself this past year? And how will you apply that lesson going forward?

That I can do it.

A few years ago, I was told by a chiropractor that, according to my x-rays, I’m missing cartilage between my last vertebrae and my tailbone. It helped explain my never-ending lower back pain, my leg pain, and hosts of other things, but also acted as a warning - no sitting in one position for longer than an hour, or driving for more than 45. Which sucks, yes, because that means I have to have someone else with me in the car for long trips (and be willing to let them drive my car!).

I never went on road trips, and while I’d push myself to be the driver for days spent out and about with friends, I often paid for it the next day.

So when it came to discussing our cross-country drive to Arizona, I was scared. My brain began to whirl through all the bad things that were sure to happen. After an hour, wouldn’t I feel bad? What about after two? I was slated to drive at least three each day - what would happen then?

But I wanted to move so badly, needed that cleansing of a new life found in the wild west, that I was ready to put on a tough face and deal with it.

There is a difference between believing you can do something and actually doing it.

After the first day, I was a bit sore. And on the second, I had that moment of realization that I could do it. Sure, I had a bit of pain, but here I was, driving across the country, driving three or four hours a day. Now that isn’t much when you’re driving, I’m sure; my father made it in two and a half days and drove half the time. But to me, who was previously told it would be a bad idea, getting past that one hour or even the two hour mark was revolutionary.

No longer limited by what I thought I could do (versus what I really could), the world opened up to me. The drive to Los Angeles is about six hours - could I make it there? What about Las Vegas? San Diego? Texas? Mexico? I’m not dependant on train schedules or others to get me to the places I want to visit. I don’t have to hope for the money for a plane ticket and try to figure out the logistics once landing.

I’ve spent the last six years becoming comfortable with my limits. I never considered pushing against them to see how far I could really go, paralyzed by the fear of pain.

And now? I think I’ve learned my lesson.


Try. What do you want to try next year? Is there something you wanted to try in 2010? What happened when you did / didn’t go for it?

What I want to try next year is something very near and dear to me, important and central, and yet, I am filled with such apprehension about sharing it, I may never even post this. I don’t want to censor myself, though, and don’t know what to do. What if a truth is misinterpreted? Is it better, then, to simply not share it?

Since I don’t know and can accept that, I shall share what I am comfortable with revealing.

I want to try bring more sacredness and tradition into my life in the coming year.

I’ve always been fascinated with the traditions of other cultures, in those thousand-year practices that come naturally to people from countries and cultures more developed than my own. When searching through my own past, I was dejected to find there isn’t much; as a third-generation American (my maternal great-grandparents came here from Germany), there isn’t much left from our roots past a few odd words and insults in a foreign tongue. The only point of interest is my paternal great-grandmother, who was a squaw of the Blackfoot tribe. But I’ve never gone as far as I’d like with such studies since I’m mostly white, and am afraid of rejection.

I have participated in several Japanese traditions, from sitting zazen at a Zen Buddhist temple to doing traditional folk dancing - it is my “adopted” culture (and ironically, I feel more comfortable with that than with possible peoples from the Blackfoot tribe!). I cannot get enough of the magic of Japanese culture, but while I love observing some of their traditions, I can’t get behind all of them. I need my own.

This year had me going out hiking and biking more. There is a majesty to nature and the simple act of traveling through it, a calming of the mind that allows clearer thought and inspiration to strike. Instead of waking to the computer, checking my email, etc, I want to wake to the sun rising, to sitting outside with a hot mug of tea in my hands. I want to light candles or incense and pray before I create.

While I have discovered more wonder in the world this year, I know there is more out there just waiting to be discovered, and I want to try to embrace it.

As to what I tried this year? I tried to get past feelings of jealousy by pouring as much love into the world as I could. When I felt bad that other people received more comments on blog posts than me, I decided to comment as much as I could. When I saw others teaching, I developed new classes. I promoted the work of friends and those who I felt were giving something of great value to the world. All the love and attention I wanted I gave out.

I think that’s only a part. I took all the negativity I experienced and felt and put out positivity. When faced with harsh realities, I became open and loving. Now, I won’t say I did this every time - I’m far from perfect - but it was a noble goal I wanted to strive for, and isn’t that the best anyone can ask of you?

healing touch

Healing. What healed you this year? Was it sudden, or a drip-by-drip evolution? How would you like to be healed in 2011?

There were a few things this year that could fit this prompt. I like lists, so here I go!

1. Friendships.

I answered one of the major ones in a previous essay, so I’m not going to re-hash something I’ve already written about (plus, it’ll make me cry again!). I think if the first had not happened, I wouldn’t have been able to truly open up to people this year, and then, think of all the gifts I would have missed! My friendships, both old and new, have begun to bloom in an amazing kaleidoscope of colors; I now know there is always someone to call or message or poke no matter what the occasion - happy or sad. And because of this blooming, I want to celebrate them more, give them the strength and love they’ve given me. I think, then, that I’m really growing up.

And about damn time. I’m at that age where I no longer want my birthday to be in sight!

(Side-note on friendship: If you live in the Phoenix, AZ area, come on down to Changing Hands bookstore tomorrow night at 6pm, where Dawn Sokol will be singing copies of her bookDoodle Diary: Art Journaling for Girls.” It’s such a fun little book, and Dawn’s an amazing, funny, creative gal!)

2. Losing my job.

This might sound weird - how can losing a job heal a person? Don’t people get depressed when this happens?

A long time ago, I worked at Paper Source. I loved that job, and it’s there that I heard the names Teesha Moore and Anahata Katkin - two names that completely changed the trajectory of my entire life. I didn’t stay on, and when that happened, despite how difficult that choice was, I now know it all happened for a reason.

By the time I lost my job in January, I was working too many hours for my body to handle, and while I had begun to heal when working a nice, steady 25 hours a week, pushing it past 30 started doing more damage than good. I’d spend days in bed, was always cranky, and didn’t do much art at all. My creative output was 15% of what it is now.

And looking back, I can see being let go was a blessing. I’m more creative than ever, am living in a different state, and really have no complaints! In the new year, my mother is planning on getting a job - and I know I can just keep doing what I’ve been doing and be absolutely fine.

In fact, I have so many ideas, it’s getting crowded in my head! If only I had the energy to do everything - but then, if I did, I wouldn’t sleep!

3. Support Groups

I can’t say much, by the nature of the organization, but going to Al-Anon continues to be an amazing process. Honestly, I think everyone should go through the twelve steps, if only for personal development.

(For those who don’t know - Al-Anon is the support group for family and friends of someone with an addiction. We work the same twelve steps as those in other anonymous groups and support one another in much the same way.)

Yes, we often cry, but we also laugh and chat and hold each others’ hands. There are people from ALL walks of life there, looking for someone who simply understands what they’re going through. I started attending meetings on a weekly basis around March of this year, and while things can still catch me unaware, I have a much better way to handle and deal with not only the addiction, but anything in my life. There are cracks that are on their way to mending.

As for next year, I feel silly predicting or asking for certain aspects of myself to be healed. I know I’m on a path, but I’m not the one in control, not really. There is that above that nudges me in the right direction, gives me clues as to where I should be going. And I feel that They know better than I where I need to be healed and how that will happen.

My body is always my primary area that needs healing. But on the other hand, I don’t think I’d be doing what I’m doing - creating art, writing, and teaching - if I were perfectly healthy. Or if I was, it wouldn’t be the same. My physical shortcomings influence not only how my work turns out, but the methods I employ to create, and I love it all.

Except on bad flair up days. But I get through those on faith and love, and channel it all into my work.

Can I ask for others to be healed instead? While I have my issues and cracks and steaming fissures in my body and mind, I have also constructed bridges and pathways to help me get through life with a smile on my face. I feel as if I’ve been reborn with this move and the creative explosion that happened in the first few weeks, so I’d love to ask for others in my life to be healed instead of me.

And if I can have a hand in any of it, I’d consider myself eternally blessed. Getting letters and emails about how I’ve helped someone, how I turned them onto art journaling or painting or being creative, makes me cry every single time. I print them and keep them close to my heart and know we all have something to offer, no matter the circumstances of our lives.