Influenced by Faith: 6 Values I Strive to Live By at Work

My values for work and my work ethic have been influenced by many,

some through direct experience and demonstration by great and horrible bosses, and others through minds in books: Ernest Hemingway on the attractiveness and persuasiveness of brevity; Ray Dalio on embracing the natural bents, strengths, and weaknesses of others, Shane Parrish on the many mental models I could employ to make smarter decisions, and Marcus Aurelius’ father on how to treat your co-workers, to name a few.

I give credit to the Bible for most of the underlying values in work I’ve cultivated in my professional life; They are things I strive to abide by and commit to at the age of 28.


Here are some lessons I learned from the Bible on how to live as a Christian in work:


Rest and relaxation must become a familiar presence in your life. 

Having work physically, emotionally and mentally consume one’s life and identity is against the character of a Christian life.

As a Christian, participating in the Sabbath is an act of obedience, a reminder for me that I am not a slave beholden to my work (“How much more valuable is a person than a sheep!” (Matthew 12:12)), and a demonstration that I’m putting my money where my mouth is when I say I believe God is sovereign, at the center of my life and my purpose for being.

It’s also an healthy act of rest: to rejuvenate, restore, and re-center myself in the things that matter most to me in life.

So, we keep the Sabbath. (Deuteronomy 5:12-14):


Listen and actively seek and embrace guidance and counsel from others.

Be humble and open minded in the counsel and feedback of others.

Proverbs 15:22: “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.”

Proverbs 11:14: “For lack of guidance a nation falls, but victory is won through many advisers.”

Proverbs 24:6 on being a wise and successful king: “Surely you need guidance to wage war, and victory is won through many advisers”.

What these verses do not imply is to accept the guidance of anyone, or to always embrace the guidance of close counsel. They simply state the value of taking into deep consideration the counsel of one’s advisors. Who do you see as an advisor in your life? Hopefully someone close, who reflects principles and values you respect, and someone you trust and respect.

Despite demonstrated differences in values, principles, and/or opinion, have respect for and be respectful of placed authority.

It is important to show a level of respect to those placed in specific positions as they have been “elected” and placed there by people, whether it be by the board of your company, or by your nation’s people. (Romans 13)

While I struggle with showing deep admiration for someone when his/her principles are at odds with mine, regardless of position, I learned that is different from being able to show thoughtfulness and respect for the dignity and position of another.

Shane Parrish, founder of Farnam Street, has also savvily quipped once: “you can disagree without saying anything.”


Engage in and pursue work that has purpose and meaning.

Being involved in work that is “beneficial,” “constructive,” or benefiting the “good of others” is in close character with Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 10:23


Celebrate and compliment your colleagues’ strengths and accomplishments. Mentor your juniors; actively give credit to them.

Lift up your peers [hype them] when there is any true opportunity to do so. BUT avoid flattery.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable— if anything is excellent or praiseworthy— think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8)
“For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.” (Romans 16:18)
“For there is no truth in their mouth…. their throat is an open grave; they flatter with their tongue.” ( Psalm 5:9)

Bises,

Soo

Reflecting on Happiness

If we are unable to recognize the beauty and gifts that take form in the humdrum events of our daily lives, can we say we know happiness? 

or to pose my question more bluntly: If I can’t even be happy with the things I already have, how certain can I be that I’ll be happy once I get the thing(s) I’m chasing after?

I recall three excerpts from writers whose words and pieces I look back to often, that give my mind’s thoughts on happiness [or rather the precipice between discontentment and happiness] more flesh.

Marcel Proust, 20th century writer

“Once he had been dazzled by this opulent depiction of what he called mediocrity, this appetizing depiction of a life he had found insipid, this great art of nature he had thought paltry, I should say to him: Are you happy?

When you walk around a kitchen, you will say to yourself, this is interesting, this is grand, this is beautiful like a Chardin.”

and Charles de Montesquieu, French judge and philosopher of the 18th century

“If one only wished to be happy, this could be easily accomplished; but we wish to be happier than other people, and this is always difficult, for we believe others to be happier than they are.”

Lastly, we have the thoughts of 20th century English writer, philosopher, lay theologian, and literary and art critic, G.K. Chesterton, contemplating on the habits of the one, great thinker:

“But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun.; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic monotony that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never gotten tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”

Reflecting on My Life with Christina Baker Kline’s a piece of the world and Andrew Wyeth’s Christina’s World

I was inspired to read this poem by Emily Dickinson after finishing a piece of the world by Christina Baker Kline:

Learning From The Homes Of Famous Writers

“This is my letter to the World that never wrote to me”

“This is My Letter to the World”, goes like this:

This is my letter to the world,
That never wrote to me,–
The simple news that Nature told,
With tender majesty.
Her message is committed
To hands I cannot see;
For love of her, sweet countrymen,
Judge tenderly of me!

Kline’s a piece of the world revolves around the life of Christina Olson, the subject of Andrew Wyeth’s most renowned masterpiece, Christina’s World (you can find it at the Museum of Modern Art, 5th fl). Margaret Steiger, a fellow peer and art lover, also my supervisor at MoMA!, recommended me this book as she knew how much I loved Christina’s World.

Christina suffered from a life long illness (initially thought as having polio, modern day neurologists believe she actually suffered from Charcot-Marie Tooth (CMT) disease, which causes progressive loss of muscle tissue and touch sensation) that started to render the nerves in her arms and legs pretty much kaput as she entered adulthood.

In this novel, the character Christina (will now move forward referring to novel’s character as ‘Christina’ and the real Christina as ‘Christina Olson’), coming into her teenage years, and with a body severely limited in movement from the effects of a mysterious illness’ onset at toddler-hood, begins to develop a curiosity and ferocity of mind, and this coincides with her discovery and subsequent exploration of Emily Dickinson’s words at school.

Excerpts

“I agree. Rest is stupid. I am tired of this narrow bed, the slice of window above it. I want to be outside, running through the grass, climbing up and down the stairs. When I fall asleep, I am careering down the hill, my arms outstretched and my strong legs pumping, grasses whipping against my calves, steady on toward the sea, closing my eyes and tilting my chin toward the sun, moving with ease, without pain, without falling. I wake in my bed to find the sheet damp with sweat.”


“MRS. CROWLEY TOLD me once—the nicest thing anybody has ever said to me—that I’m one of the brightest students she’s ever taught. Long before the others, I have finished my reading and arithmetic. She’s always giving me extra work to do and books to read. I appreciate the compliment, but maybe if I could run and play like the other kids, I would be as impatient and distracted as they are. The truth is, when I’m immersed in a book I’m less aware of the pain in my unpredictable arms and legs.”


“I’m so tired of this mutinous body that doesn’t move the way it should. Or the low thrumming ache that’s never entirely absent. Of having to concentrate on my steps so I don’t fall, of my ever-present scabs and bruises. I’m tired of pretending that I’m the same as everyone else. But to admit what it’s really like to live in this skin would mean giving up, and I’m not ready to do that.”


“’Some memories are realities and are better than anything that can ever happen to one again.” Maybe so, I think. Maybe my memories of sweeter times are vivid enough, and present enough, to overcome the disappointments that followed. And to sustain me through the rest.'”


“My chin drips blood, my wrists throb, I am facedown in the wet, soiled dress it took me weeks to sew. The skirt is bunched up round my hips, my bloomers and misshapen legs exposed. Lifting myself slowly on my elbows, I survey my torn bodice. All at once I am so tired of this—of the constant threat of humiliation and pain, the fear of exposure, of trying to act like I’m normal when I’m not—that I burst into tears. No, I am not all right, I want to say. I am fouled, degraded, ashamed. A burden and an embarrassment.”

On Christina’s first experience with love:

“It feels as if my life is moving forward at two separate speeds, one at the usual pace, with its predictable rhythms and familiar inhabitants, and the other rushing ahead, a blur off color and sound and sensation.”


Reflecting on Christina’s World

I have felt a deep connection with Christina’s World, ever since I first encountered Christina’s World as a university student.

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The work is an incredible sight and experience; numerous people from all over the world will tell you so as well: painted is a young, youthful girl, in stark contrast against the muted landscape of a field and barn/farmhouse. Your eyes settle intensely on the seemingly feeble, yet remarkably dignified, stoic, and bold girl in pink dress.cri_000000165457

Personal Reflections

I was very sick when I was 13 and in my teenage years. The utter prison I felt like I was in, of not being able to wield my body at will, not being able to do things other kids do nor be carefree was a formative experience in my youth.

Thinking about my future was scary.

The picture my mind drew of my life was monstrous; It was only filled with more ifs, doubts and and despondence from wondering whether I’d ever be able to live the life I wish I had instead of living through it with a body I abhorred.

The memories do not go away easily //

Having to stay a couple nights in the St. Judes hospital deprived of sleep and watching Shakespeare in Love and The Man in the Iron Mask with my mother who bravely tried to stay awake with me and laid on a cot bed by me.

Stubbornly demanding and begging I get my license like all my other high school friends and be allowed to drive with my parents in car, and my father finally relenting, only to find myself losing control of the wheel, with my foot off the pedal and my hands fallen to their sides [and off the wheel] one day driving my family.

Crossing the road, beginning to feel time slow, seeing my dad not far behind me running to catch me before I blacked out.


I was engaged with this painting before I had learned of its background story and the life of Christina Olson.

Looking at her was as if I were seeing myself. Or seeing what I’d have liked to see in myself back then: a portrait of strength, boldness, and ferocity– dignified living.

I stood staring at her for a very long time.

And I’d come back to it again, and again, and again. As if I was drinking from a well.

Fast forward to 2020, having finished this book, which was a light and lovely spin-off and depiction of Christina Olson’s life, I find myself glad to be seeing Christina again, anew.

More Excerpts

“The House of the Seven Gables. ‘So much of mankind’s varied experience had passed there that the very timbers were oozy, as with the moisture of a heart.’”


Andrew Wyeth & Christina Olson:

“‘ I wanted to show the contrast with your skin. To highlight you sitting there.’

Now that we’re having this conversation, I realize that I am a little angry. ‘I look like I’m in a coffin with a lid half shut.’

He laughs a little, as he can’t believe I might be upset.

I stare at him evenly.

Running his hand through his hair, he says, ‘I was trying too show your…’ He hesitates. ‘Dignity. Solemnity.’

‘Well, I guess that’s the problem. I don’t think of myself as solemn. I didn’t think you did, either.’

‘I don’t. Not really. It’s just a moment. And it’s not really ‘you.’ Or ‘me.’ Despite what you think.’ His voice trails off. Seeing me struggle with the heavy oven door, he comes over and opens its for me, then slides the baking tray of biscuits in. ‘I think it’s about the house. The mood of it.’ He shuts the oven door. ‘Do you know what I mean?’

‘You make its seem so…’ I cast about for the right word. ‘I don’t know Lonely.’

He sighs. ‘Isn’t it, sometimes?’

For a moment there’s silence between us.

I reach for a dishrag and wipe my floury hands.

‘So how do you think of yourself?’ he asks.

‘What?’

‘You said you don’t think of yourself as solemn. So how do you think of yourself?’

It’s a good question. How do I think of myself?

The answer surprises us both.

‘I think of myself as a girl,’ I say.”


“EVERY WEEK OR ten days a thick letter in a white envelope with a two-cent stamp arrives in the mail. He writes from the library, from the dining hall, from the narrow wooden desk in his dormitory room, by the light of a gas lamp after his rugby-playing, gin-guzzling roommate has gone to sleep. Each envelope, a package of words to feed my word-hungry soul, provides a portal into a world where students linger in wood-paneled classrooms to talk to professors, where entire days can be spent in a library, where what you write and how you write it are all you need to worry about. I imagine myself in his place: strolling across campus, peering up at thick-paned, glowing windows at dusk, going to expensive dinners with friends in Harvard Square, where the waiters wear tuxedos and look down their noses at the unkempt students, and the students don’t care.”

When It Comes To Looking At The Future

There’s a model (originally economics) called hyperbolic discounting, which speaks to the human tendency of choosing a reward now over wanting the greater reward that will happen later. In liberal application, this law can allude to our relative inability to see beyond the seeable, comprehensible distance over the things up close: what is happening or might happen in the immediate future or present. I believe this rings true for the scenario we find ourselves in in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

The pain, the discomfort, and the anxieties of the circumstances we find ourselves in are absolutely real. But, we (I) can choose to see beyond for what could happen that could be greater and more meaningful in magnitude over the mess in the immediate– see the good being written even now.

The motifs and the arc defining this story remain to be set in stone. We don’t know what lies ahead for us. We don’t know what the larger picture will be. I’m not referring to the next 2 or 3 years. I’m talking about the next 10, 20, and 30 years.

We must press on in hope, thinking and choosing to look to more hopeful outcomes– to where the real story might be. And in the meantime, be present and do as as much as we can for our family, our friends, and our people.

Some quotes from my journal that I’ve leaving for added contemplation:

“You cannot draw on the future. Impossible to get into debt! You can only waste the passing moment. You cannot waste tomorrow, it is kept from you.
You have to live on this 24 hours of time. Out of it you have to spin health, pleasure, money, content, respect and the evolution of your immortal soul. It’s right use…is a matter of the highest urgency.”
– Arnold Bennett
“We become, neurologically, what we think.”
– Nicholas Carr

On Respecting Authority or Differences in Opinions and Considering the Harm Done If We Choose Otherwise

"I met those of our society who had votes in the ensuing election, and advised them:
1. To vote... for the person they judged more worthy.
2. Speak no evil of the person they voted against, and
3. To take care their spirits were not sharpened against those that voted on the other side." 
- John Wesley, English cleric, theologian, and philanthropist
The following are questions I entertain and often, given the current climate of our country:
  • What does it mean to really respect instituted authority, respect entities, and respect individuals despite encountering drastically differing opinions, values, or personalities?
  • What does it mean for our mental and emotional states when we choose to do the opposite?
Surely the thoughts we express can be of potent criticality without adding to toxicity.
I wake up this morning desiring to understand how to do this better and authentically in all circumstance… how about you?

My Faith Grounded Musings:

Romans 13:1 on Submission to Governing Authorities

“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.”

As a Christian, I can rationalize the validity of this command or “rule”. When one considers the grounding tenets that define Christianity, a quick survey will reveal some very constant albeit complicated narratives that frame our faith: an everpresent dance and balancing act between the subject of God’s sovereignty, having free will and its impact, and the concept of time that is not linear or as we see it according to modern physics. Following God is not about always having the answers and the whys to everything from the start (I would say I struggled with this question as a believer my whole life until maybe about last year!). Sometimes a situation requires obedience before we are able to see and understand 20/20, even with a controversial verse and command such as this that many Christians either outrightly ignore or struggle with (including myself!)

The fact of the matter though is that God’s word is God’s word. When we say we give our life over to him, we are surrendering our right to picking and parsing things we like and dislike, accept or reject, and that includes where we stand on the merits of the Bible’s commands. When one accepts the truth of the Gospel, the only requirement for being “Christian,” this implies a full and total acceptance of the Bible as the living word (Hebrews 4:12: “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”).

*For context, the word of God referred to the written or spoken word of God, and the Bible is accepted as the word of God.

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Today, I am grateful for the abundance of love that God has showered onto my life through the people he brought into it.

I know I am loved by God and that is enough, but as a young, and often childlike woman, being blessed with such beautiful humans to walk with me in life during the good and the bad days is something I wake up grateful for every day.

I am grateful for how strong of a bond my sisters and I have cultivated, through effort, through grace, and through compassion.

I am grateful for the times they bring wide grins to my face and make me temporarily forget whatever stress or illness I might feel consumed by.

I am grateful for Victoria who inspires me with her passion for fashion and aesthetics, and for her devotion and generous love and support to me, her friend.

I am grateful for my mother who’s sacrificed much in her love for us, and in her obedience to the God she believes in with her whole heart and soul.

I am grateful for being 6 months seizure free! I am grateful for being healthier than I’ve ever been in my entire life.

I am grateful for the chance and the spirit to try again with new mornings, new days, when fear or anxiety takes hold of me because of the uncertainty of the future or because of circumstance.

I am grateful to be refined day by day in my twenties, whether it be through fire or gentle breeze.

I am grateful to know that the God who has me and my life in the palm of his hands loves me so much. I am grateful to be walking in his love. And that because of this, my path is sure. Regardless of whatever life throws my way.

I am grateful for these people in these photos. They bring me such deep, deep joy. I can not begin to explain in any accurate manner just how grateful I am to have them in my life.

5 Habits I Picked Up in 2019

2019 has been a year: My first brand, ATEM, turned 1 year old, our cosmetics R&D startup is going into our 3rd year, and I turned 27.

In this time and despite my work taking most of my attention on my days (excluding Sabbath, Sundays!), I developed some new habits that have supported my betterment.

1. I started exercising regularly: 3 to 5 times a week!

Result: Exponentially increased physical health, increased mental fortitude (ie. focus), and emotional wellbeing

2. I started flossing daily, after setting up my daily habit tracker in July, 2019: I now floss every day without needing a reminder or a checklist to tell me I have to!

Result: Increased self-control: A developed appreciation for discipline and keeping to some “orders” of the day

3. I started regularly writing down things I am grateful for, or allocating a protected time to visually go down the the things I am grateful for.

Result: Increased mental and emotional wellbeing – rewiring the “space” for automatic negative thoughts to come in to a space for positive, gratitude filled thoughts.

4. I started making my bed more regularly: This is a habit to solidify in 2020 as I still do not keep to the habit.

Result: Increased self-control: A developed appreciation for discipline and keeping to some “orders” of the day

5. I started being more careful and controlled about the things I utter about myself or my life: Saying less “I can’t,” or “I’m not,” and more “I hope,” “I can,” and “I believe.” I hope to continue this habit into this year, and applying this principle as I speak of and to others as well.

Result: Increased mental and emotional wellbeing – rewiring the “space” for automatic negative thoughts to come in to a space for positive, gratitude filled thoughts. As Carl Lentz one said, “change your mind, change your life.”

A habit I would like to change completely in 2020 is not letting my moods dictate my actions as much, particularly in the physical with my waking and sleeping times. I had experienced a season of mild depression, and because of this, it was difficult to get out of bed at times I wanted to on a daily basis over a span of 2 some months. I felt like I was chained to my bed, and sometime woke up feeling like 2 tons of cement were lying atop me and I’d go to sleep again because it felt like too much of a struggle to try to fight it.  During this time, what I lost in time/productivity, I made up for, but this was not great for my overall health. This year, for my wellbeing, I would like to commit to regularly sleeping a number of hours per day, and waking up consistently at an earlier hour of the day. I write these down, as writing my intentions down will incentivize me to action.

 

 

 

 

How a Beef Lover Like Me Is Living With a More Earth Friendly Diet

Most of my friends will know how much I love burgers.
A fundamental component of a good burger is a strong, awesomely seasoned and well packed & proportioned patty. I prefer mine thick over thin 🙂 The Spotted Pig over Shake Shack. Beef over lamb.
Over the past 6 months, I experimented with drastically reducing my red meat intake primarily out of two reasons: 1) to take better care of my physical health and 2) to be more environmentally conscious and responsible in my daily living and actions.
As a civilization, I think a recurring weak point of our peoples is that when we are dealt with an increase in choice, we do not respond well [and by well, I really mean intelligently] to it. Instead of accepting the freedom of choice in a way that elevates, it seems that we often take that freedom and power to extremes, which prove to be detrimental to us in the end, and at a dangerous magnitude.
While I admire my colleagues that have taken out meat entirely from their lifestyle [or adopted zero waste lifestyles, or stopped buying anything new], I am self-aware enough to know where I currently stand in my preferences and convictions. The me now cannot eliminate red meat without it making me sad about not being able to eat burgers, or steak, or raw meat. The me now isn’t convicted enough to stop buying new clothes for the rest of my life and only buying second-hand or recycled fabrics (environmental friendliness on the latter is questionable – but more on that on a later note).
But
I no longer want my talk about sustainability and healthier living to be at stark contrast with the day to day choices and decisions of my life.
I settled on a diet of moderation 😃
Instead of eating red meat for most of the week (which I’ve historically always done and I really strong feel I have never once gotten sick of eating too much beef – basically I am completely besot), I now eat and seek it sparingly.
I found this limitation on my lifestyle has not affected me much, beyond the initial and expected feelings resulting from a sudden withdrawal of any regular habit.
I am not devastated. I am still eating a burger or a red meat based meal once a week or biweekly, which satisfies the part in me that screams and demands “BEEF”, and I am concurrently living more closely in accordance with the values I say I stand for. And I found that I am happier.
Anyways, I just thought to write this as I happily take my work break and eat my pescatarian/plant-based lunch from Woorijip 🙂
My question today: What is something you are doing that is preventing you from living a more peaceful, fulfilling, and content life?

Taking Inspiration From The Life of Marcus Aurelius’ Father

I want to be “most ready to give way without envy to those who possessed any particular faculty, such as that of eloquence or knowledge…, and he gave them his help, that each might enjoy reputation”

I want to work better to be someone ” who looked to what ought to be done, not the reputation which is got by [man’s] acts.” – Marcus Aurelius

Grateful For_Thanksgiving Week(s) 2019

I couldn’t have dreamed of a better holiday weekend for this year.

I am grateful for the close friends and family in my life; I am grateful for all they are and just as they are.

I am grateful for how they keep me– every single day.

They are my angels, “messengers” on this Earth. Angels were messengers of God. I really see the people I am thinking of as I write this currently in my life as those messengers: messengers of joy, of encouragement, or solace, of comfort, of correction and rebuke grounded in love, of entertainment and pleasure when things get rough or dull, of confirmation that sometimes kindred E.T. finger touching like friendships do exist…. my angels.

Is this not something to be unendingly grateful for? To keep and hold fast to.

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Lastly, I am grateful for the healing that’s been observed within my family this past year. It is perhaps what has been most moving in this season of my life. I could not be any less grateful [and lest I forget, this single, answered prayer alone should leave me in a state of permanent gratitude for the remainder of my days].  I am overwhelmed by God’s grace, mercy, and provision in mending broken pieces back together in ways and in an amount of time I could never have hoped for– in ways only he could.

My God is good. I am thankful for the daily reminders he sends to me that his love for me, for my family, for my loved ones is unending– in hardship and in prosperity.

 

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“I’ve walked among the shadows You wiped my tears away And I’ve felt the pain of heartbreak And I’ve seen the brighter days And I’ve prayed prayers to heaven from my lowest place And I have held the blessings God, you give and take away”

Things I Started and Stopped Doing in 2019

2019 is the year I started making my bed every day, not bringing junk [food] to my bed, flossing every day, exercising regularly, saying no more consistently to relationships and activities that are foolish or unhealthy for me, saying yes to healing over bitterness in relationships, choosing more whole foods over dank foods, setting boundaries with things, acquaintances, friends, and loved ones, and keeping regular lists of items and things I’m grateful for at top of mind.

2019 was also the year I let go of a life dream that was very important to me, I stopped letting the status of my health determine my happiness, I stopped trying to please everyone at the expense of my happiness and wellbeing, I loosened the hold pride has on me, particularly in asking for help–the severity of which was realized when I was hit by a motorcycle in May and observed myself refusing anyone, friends’ and co’s offer to help at the site of the accident and during my recovery, I let go of “cool friends that make me look cool”, but make me rot inside, I let go of the hold financial security has on my emotional security and happiness, and I finally gave room for all my trauma to breathe so I can now watch it wither in the light of being known.

2020 will be a year of me creating and bearing an influx of seeds and fruit, of no longer apologizing for things I shouldn’t be apologizing for, of being more consistent in my values, and being more consistent in my nos and my yeses, having the self-control to lift myself up in wholeness and dignity, of being more focused, of more of seeing people for who they are rather than what do they do/look like/come from/or have, of being more involved in works of justice and mercy, and of championing good works unabashedly.

I envision

A strong, but young sapling, growing into something a little more. Things withering, falling off to the ground, and other parts strengthening and thickening. Trunk strengthening, branches complicating. And then there will be a great flowering. 🙂

 

I feel like next year will be a year that will be full of a great flowering for me: full of a lot of creating and giving. I hear the rumble of a great personal awakening. I don’t know what it looks like, but I feel it, deep in my soul.

What will your year look like?

“I have always had a quarrel with this country not only about race, but about the standards by which it appears to live.” – James Baldwin

 

Golden Retriever: “I can’t deal with stupid people at work”

Lamb: “Practice mercy, compassion. I’ve lately been thinking

Our work is a chance for us to practice becoming people who are kind, even when people don’t deserve it

And every time we make a choice when it’s really darn hard to show mercy and patience

We change

And it will affect you when you stand before Christ

And also who you are as a wife/a husband

A mother/ a father

A grandmother/ a grandfather

A friend

And aunt/ uncle

I’m saying this not particularly towards you because I’ve been thinking a lot about the role that my every day has in shaping the person I am becoming.”

Day at the Museum: Rijksmuseum

I really attempted to make the most of my short days here and I ambitiously set out to the Rijksmuseum to see as much art as I could. I believe I really did get through almost all the art excluding the Middle East room, as exhausting and unbelievable as that sounds!

I was laser focused.

Below are the pieces that really struck me one way or another for various reasons:

 

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Portrait of Hortense de Beauharnais, Queen of Holland, Anne Louis Girodet Trioson, 1805-1809, oil on canvas

Hortense caught my eye for her beauty, but also because of her relation to Napolean. I read up on her husband recently (step son of Napolean, son of Napolean’s first wife, hence my familiarity with Beauharnais his name), and the house of Beauharnais caught my attention as I read the placard to see who this painting’s beautiful subject was. Apparently she did not like the environment of the Netherlands, so even as a ruler there, she spent most of her time in court in Paris. huh.

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Sibylla Erythrea, Maarten van Heemskerck, 1564, oil on pastel

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Sibylla Erythrea, Maarten van Heemskerck, 1564, oil on pastel

Sibylla caught my eye for her beauty, and for her having been recorded in classic antiquity as having given prophesy about Jesus coming. This is news to me. I am excited to read more on it.

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Woman Reading a Letter, Johannes Vermeer, 1663, oil on canvas

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Children Eating a Pie, Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, 1675-1680, pastel

This looks so mischievous, and it made me smile. And so it’s here. Being nostalgic for the things we used to do as kids is good. to a degree. hopefully we can all continue growing up with it kept instead of looking back to mourn what’s good that’s been lost.

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A Rembrandt x Diego Valesquez special exhibition was up, and exhausted as I was by the end of my main museum roundabout, I could not miss this. It ended up being a little questionable. Not the works themselves, but the way they were curated, described, and the way the curators developed the narrative [dare I say it!] was poor, misleading, and unclear– like me during my high school days trying to write essays just to meet deadlines and pass with absolutely Zero intention of actually desiring to convey a point. That is really what it felt like.

The lamb (symbolizing Christ) was great though.

Other Rembrandt pieces were technically lovely, and I felt honored that I was able to see more of his pieces in person, but I’m not adding them here because they didn’t move me. Otherwise that would be an act of compulsion influenced by prestige, which is no bueno.

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This a scene depicting Bethsheba and David (in the castle peeking out of the squared piece) desiring after her. It’s a Bible scene (basically for anyone who does not read the Bible or does not remember, David fell in love with B, but she was already married to a guy that was under his rule (as king) so he sent the dude off in “war” (to be killed really) (and there goes another Bible story of how humans as great as kings make terrible, terrible mistakes)

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I loved this painting for its raw sensuality. It just jumped out at me and called me. Venus and her son is asking Adonis not to go. I love the way Adonis holds onto her lips tenderly like that, and that lovers’ gaze is real.

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Venus et Adonis, Ferdinand Bol, 1658, oil on canvas

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Satyr and Nymph, Gerard von Honthorst, 1623, oil on canvas

While this is definitely the more hedonistic counterpart to the former, I still find the scene very beautiful. Love, or love as it moves reveals itself in different forms and ways and meets different ends. While satyrs were mainly negatively characterized in tales of old, there is the wildness and freeness of them that I look to with positivity in part. I just love the play I saw. Even if it probably foreboded some very bad news bears between satyr and nymph (like when Pan chased after a nymph to the point she had to turn into reeds!).

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Lot and his Daughters, Hendrick Goltzius, 1616, oil on canvas

While this painting was technically rendered incredibly beautiful, the substance of it disturbed me very much. It recalls a Bible story of a time people were punished for their mistakes and so all the men were kaputed, except Lot. These are his daughters, who feared not being able to bear children, and so they got their father drunk and seduced him to bear. It conjures in me many thoughts too (like how sometimes, we’re *so* for getting to the end, we forget about the means that we’ve taken to get to the end).

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William II, Prince of Orange, and his Bride, Mary Stuart, Anthony van Dyck, 1641, oil on canvas

“The 14 year old boy is married with the 9 year old girl, and a kingdom is elevated.”

My thought ^ : basically opened a can of thoughts. So many ramifications to be unpacked

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Boy with a Drawing Book, Nicolas Bernard Lépicié, 1772, oil on canvas

This just makes me happy 🙂 And it reminds me of me, inside.

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Portrait of Rutger Jan Schimmelpenninck and his Family, Pierre Prud’hon, 1802-1802, oil on canvas

This reminds me of a family I would have liked to have had. Nuclear.

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Storage mirrors of the Netherlands

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Model by Johann Ernst Gotzowsky, 1750-1755, hard paste porcelain

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Ivory

 

 

AIA Center for Architecture

Morning meeting & tour with The American Institute of Architects team.


It is good to see them doing good work.
I didn’t know this about @aianational , but it puts much of its efforts into working to offer design education to as many students they can from K-12 highschool to college. Many of us, including myself are privileged to have access to education around art and design every day. Some forget how special it is to have the freedom of choice to pursue any dream.

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Tackling accessibility in all its forms is something I hope to work for and serve every day.

As I was heading back to my office, my thoughts went to a letter by President John Adams that says this:

“I must study politics and war, that our sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. Our sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history and naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry and porcelain.” 

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Wall murals on turquoise backdrop were installed as a result of a competition the AIA and the Housing Preservation and Collaboration collaborated on.

Wall murals on turquoise backdrop were installed as a result of a competition the AIA and the Housing Preservation and Collaboration collaborated on.

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This photo is an example of the kind of worksheets they use to educate the kids.

This photo is an example of the kind of worksheets they use to educate the kids.

I am glad to be working with them.

#urbanplanning #accessibility #community #designinnovation #architecture #atemliving

2019: Wines Under $60 That I Love

Louis Roederer sparkles!

In America, there are many people who love their Moets and their Veuve Cliquots…. but I’m pleading here ….when I ask you to consider trying a Roederer instead, because it so. much. better. So many New Yorkers shoot for the Veuves and I fear their loyalty to the brand or introduction to is due to lot more marketing than merit. 

 

Masi Costasera Amarone Classico 2010 – like syrup and basilica, just so much fantastic! If you had to choose one wine to try on this list, I’d have you get this one. 

Lioco “Happy Cooking” Mendocino, California 2016, Chardonnay – light, but so incredibly deep and fun. It’s quite difficult to find it, but perhaps the Lioco might interest you and you can try another wine from the producer 🙂 They also offer tours for any Californians or visitors. I’ve yet to go, but I’m dreaming of going one day.

Pouilly Fuisse Louis Jadot Charddonay 2016 – such an easy wine, and fairly easy to find. Other years weren’t bad as I tried. Just such a perfect, solid, in the $20 range, will continually impress myself, will also aid in avoiding stress when looking for the appropriate bottle for a social occasion kind of wine. 

One of Alain Ducasse’s favorites: La Dentelle Bugey Cerdon Methode Ancestrale rose demi sec

2016 LANGUEDOC PIC SAINT LOUP ROSÉ

Ermitage du Pic Saint Loup – I enjoyed it and..don’t remember it for it’s flavor profile, but I remember the day it was drunk on. Because it was Valentine’s 🙂 Silly me. For keeping it on this list. Oh well! (That’s me :))

Domaine Roger & Christopher Moreux 2016 Les Bouffants (Sancerre) – I’m cheating here, I don’t recall what this tasted like, but it was on my “Susan’s impressed list” and the list is quite tight.

Lucien Lardy 2017 Beaujolais – Village – a fizzy personality, but so easy to sip and so easy as a pairing with heartier dishes too 🙂 

I don’t drink as much wine anymore largely because my days are intense and often run through the night (lots of work and study these days) and I have to keep my health and alertness on average and day to day quite tight.

It’s a pity as I love wine, and the way for me to learn more about it is to keep drinking and exploring, but one must set some passions aside, for other passions to thrive 🙂 And I’m cool with that at 26. In recent years, I’m also earnestly trying to live a life of simplicity as my values are evolving and I also have a strong sense of responsibility in being a new business owner so these affect my wine habits too (and in all honesty, I am not able to spend $50 dollars casually on wine bottles anymore for ~casual consumption~ . (Today, I buy wine if it’s in the company of another, or for another etc instead of like before when I would just collect bottles and bottles to try because I love wine so and want to try everything and drink wine alone all the time!))

There goes my ADD again. Anywhoo! Please, please consider ordering one of these online as they are very. much. SUSAN APPROVED!

Now, I must go do some of my French homework before doing more work on ATEM 

Bises,

Soo

Poem_Grief

I’ve known seeing someone I love point a kitchen knife to their neck, to their belly.

I’ve known being choked to the point the still lights above me started glimmering and dancing.

I’ve known saying no feebly in my drugged stupor so many times as he tried to take off my bra.

I’ve known having meaningless sex to drown out pain

I’ve known the persistency of the pain of feeling unloved, rejected, abandoned that resided and was rooted in with my soul.

I’ve known denial.

I’ve known the sounds of police cars and the cold, professional voices of inquisitors.

I’ve known measuring the bicep of my arm with the circle formed between my index finger and my thumb to make sure I did not get any bigger— “the only thing I could control”.                                     

 I laugh.

I’ve known the hollow crevices of walls and floor-beds where I laid with my back, wanting to sink in until I disappeared.

I’ve known crying tears and screaming loud, bellowing out versions of sounds I no longer remember–not human, not animal– wanting it all to go away.

I’ve known.

Visiting my Dad in Nashville for the first time.

My dad and I didn’t talk for nearly two years when the divorce was officially about to come into action on the legal side. Prior to that, we barely saw each other, and it was complicated.

I still remember the first day we tried we tried to meet again. It was while I was still working at Barneys New York. Winter. We met at dinner in Koreatown. I was beyond nervous, kind of like how I was this time– for different reasons though. I saw him then, and I burst out crying. I couldn’t stop crying all throughout dinner. I was so happy and so confused. I think my dad was too.

This weekend, there was a semblance of stability, and a bit of real, solid, long interactions of healthy emotion.

I’m happy to see our relationship developing in new ways, and in loving, healthy ways.

I can’t compare it to the past, because it is not anything like the past. The relationship I had with my dad then was nothing I wish for a child.

I am grateful to be getting back the years we lost.

This weekend was a great weekend.

I write this, because I am a living testimony of what happens when you choose radical openness and vulnerability, and you choose love and healing and looking for the ONWARDS as your targeted outcome over anything else.

Trust me on this. No two experiences are ever the same, I know :). And I will never understand fully what you went through or are going through, but I’ve been through it all in my own unique way with the pops.

I’m with you. I see you. Look at love. Explore God. I believe he is the only one who will ever understand the depths of our souls, for I believe he created them.

At some point, you just have to stop focusing on the brokenness and look at what you can start mending.

God is good.

Written on 9.25.2019

Bises,

Soo

Between Science and Spirituality

“A walk down Arundel Street in London remains, after all, the best introduction to philosophy. Keep your eyes to the left as you descend toward the river from the Strand. You will observe that the Christian World is published at number seven, and a few yards further down, at number nine, the Feathered World. By the time you have reached the Embarkment you will find yourself involved in the most abstruse metaphysical speculations.

The Christian World, the Feathered World — between them a great gulf is fixed… The values and even the truths current in the world of number seven Arundel Street cease to hold good in that of number nine.

The world of Christians and the world of the feathered are but two out of a swarm of humanly conceivable and humanly explorable worlds. They constellate the thinking mind like stars, and between them stretches the mental equivalent of interstellar space — unspanned. Between, for example, a human body and the whizzing electrons of which it is composed, and the thoughts, the feelings which direct its movements, there are, as yet at any rate, no visible connections. The gulf that separates the lover’s, say, or the musician’s world from the world of the chemist is deeper, more uncompromisingly unbridgeable than that which divides Anglo-Catholics from macaws or geese from Primitive Methodists. We cannot walk from one of these worlds into another; we can only jump. The last act of Don Giovanni is not deducible from electrons, or molecules, or even from cells and entire organs. In relation to these physical, chemical, and biological worlds it is simply a non sequitur. The whole of our universe is composed in a series of such non sequiturs. The only reason for supposing that there is in fact any connection between the logically and scientifically unrelated fragments of our experience is simply the fact that the experience is ours, that we have the fragments in our consciousness. These constellated worlds are all situated in the heaven of the human mind. Some day, conceivably, the scientific and logical engineers may build us convenient bridges from one world to another. Meanwhile we must be content to hop. Solvitur saltando. The only walking you can do in Arundel Street is along the pavements.”

– Aldous Huxley, Meditation in Arundel Street

 

Complement with the Bible

How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence

Supernatural: How Common People Are Doing the Uncommon

Dear Brands That Rebrand

Dear brands that rebrand,

You need to tell your consumers when you rebrand.

You need to invest a whole lot more money and attention to rebranding and external communications re: rebranding when you do it.

You might not in fear of confusing consumers,

but in fact,

not telling them confuses them even more.

As an existing customer or prospect, I am following you because I like the idea of you, or I already like you.

To not be fully updated about something like a name change and not understand the why

Is like having a guy you’re dating or considering dating change his name and you seeing him the next day with a different name and he offers up no context or story.

It’s like: WTF? red flag, and a potential bye-buy.

Back to brands:

If your concern is retention, then take the proper steps to pursue retention.

And that starts first by being transparent in the process of rebranding.

If you have a legacy and brand footprint that you have already that’s Soo very deep and wide.. perhaps a little customer attrition wouldn’t matter.

But for the rest of you, I strongly ask you to re-consider.

Waste not your prospecting efforts, brands.

A simple IG story announcement will not do.

 

Yours sincerely,

A zealotish consumer.

 

Why I’m Changing How I Dress

August 5, 2019_Monday

On an average work day or Saturday, I am carrying around 15 pounds worth of papers and books– add in a couple extra pounds considering I carry my gym clothes and sneakers around with me too.

I haven’t worn a high heel in over a year.

For the longest time I slung Goyards, Longchamps, clutches-purses-decorative backpacks that did not hold [anything] everything, and whatnots for the sake of preference and style.

At 26, those things no longer serve me.

Rather, the pain & inconvenience to pleasure ratio makes it so that I’ve begun to serve them.

So bye I said to wearing my 3 – 4 inch heels a whiles ago.

While I am not exiling my bags yet, what I did do Sunday was stop by Patagonia [for the first time in my life] and buy a backpack (The Refugio 28L) with awesome shoulder and back padding.

For me now and in reference to extremes, I’d rather have a comfortable body than a beautifully ornamented one– this coming from someone who deeply loves fashion.

I’d personally rather wear and apply things that preserve my posture, my youth, and support my activities in a way I see fit.

Poem_Afternoon Meditations

Something I drafted up walking and reflecting sometime on July 31st and cleaned up just now while resting my sore body from dance in bed, sweet bed:

It started out in my phone’s notes app like this: “Something I wish my younger self knew: – “

Don’t victimize yourself

You’re wasting your time

Visualizing into existence

an iron prison for your mind

You’ll lock your personhood for years

Telling yourself that you have no control

That life is scary,

That things are ruthless,

That everything is meaningless.

But Change the narrative

And you’ll seek and find

Keys

More than prison //

The things that happened

You can’t chase them away as if they’ve never happened

But will yourself

And let them go

And you’ll find, you’ll see

Your power once lost

restored, redeemed.

Day at the Louvre

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Crosses – heads of pastoral staffs of bishops

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Incredible detail across every inch.

 

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Relic of the arm of a Catholic leader.

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Sevres

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Grandes Sevres Vase I’ve seen thus far.

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Musketeering lamp

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Fantastic Faucet for the homemade drink of my dreams.

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Another beautiful Sevres

2019: Mental Health Awareness Month

Let me tell you a bit of my story.
I had some scary things happen to me in my life: I was diagnosed with a neurological disorder in the 7th grade, was sexually assaulted by a family relative in the 10th grade, had my parents divorce after a traumatic narrative that spanned years, and was raped  my first year out of college.

This in tandem with my naturally emotions driven self brought forth a very unbalanced, and very unhappy Susan for a lot of my adolescence and into my early twenties. I could be happy and “on,” yes, but I was also severely unhappy.


I turned to a quick phase of substance abuse in the last year of high school into my first year of college, to control the control I did not feel I had.

There were certain years, when I did not want to live.
There were seasons I’d stand at the platform of a subway station in NYC and despite having just come out of a splendid date with a friend from NYU or with someone I was dating, I’d dissolve inside, trying to hold back the anxiety attack that was coming, only to barely control it or succumb to it and when the train finally pulled in, I’d enter the train heaving for air, so so relieved I was a bit of a pussycat and scared of jumping. There were also more times that I’d just cry in the train ride home, head down.
In 2013-2014, I was suicidal.
I remember thinking simply out of sheer despair:
I’m so scared of dying.
I’m so scared of dying.
But I feel so much pain.
I was also thinking
I don’t want to just live.
I want to LIVE.
God met me in this dark, dark place back then, in the latter half of 2014.
I then with all the courage I could muster, began to open up to some friends and to my family.

In 2015 I made a promise to myself, that I would not live this way, and 2015 was the beginning of my recovery and fight against the depressive thoughts and feelings I felt and heard in my head every single day.
In 2019, I am living and working to fulfill that promise to myself to live life at its fullest.
And now I am happy as a clam 🙂 (is that the right American phrase?)
For the past 4 years I’ve worked really hard to get a semblance of the joy others feel, and I’ve gotten there, even farther than I’d ever hoped.
I made a lot of mistakes in the process, but no one is perfect, and I was really trying.
(for example, falling in love with someone in early 2016, and not being able to handle the intimacy, or 2) not having been able to appreciate pleasure of touch earlier – I’m still working on that now, but feel like I’m on the tail end of it! I enjoy my romances now, thank goodness :)When I was younger, I’d feel tons of fear when a man touched me and would freeze inside and panic).
The healing is slow, and there are a lot more stories I want to share [and some justice I want to see in the world, if God wills it and it’s wise], but I will share them when I am ready to share those stories. All in their own time. One day, I’m going to be strong enough to call my perpetrators by name. For now, I’m going to work on continually healing and helping others lift themselves up too.
I don’t share this story with you because I’m over it, or because I’m stronger than you. Revisiting things like this make me quite sad. But I feel convicted enough and strong enough at this moment to share in order to encourage and stand with anyone reading this. It’s not easy, and for those who’ve had illnesses for a long time, I understand the hardened nature of the heart that comes with.
I believe that the world would be a better place if we all began to share and stand with each other more and hide, covet, and cover a little less. The world will not crumble down and your conservative family or community might gasp and make you feel shame, but who cares. That shame they make you feel is a lie.
It is your life one “wild, and precious life”, as Mary Oliver says.
On an overarching note, for anyone dealing with any present or past trauma, I want to tell you earnestly that there are ways out and you really won’t have to go back, that there are people all around you here to stand with you if you only extend a hand.
I’m with you.
So here’s to mental health awareness month.