Back in Boston

This week has been a blur…with all that occurred at the marathon.

My family and I were there as spectators this year, as we have done most years.  We currently live in Hopkinton (which hosts the starting line for the marathon) and Bill is involved with town committees and for the past two years has helped organize official marathon events in town. Previously we lived in Brookline, which is next to Boston.  Bill grew up in Brookline and so did his mother.  Also, Bill ran the Boston marathon years ago when Brook was little (we watched him go by from our front lawn in Brookline, which was right on the marathon route)…our history with this race runs deep.

Last Monday, we headed off to see the race from Ashland (next to our current home town of Hopkinton).  For many years we’ve been going to the same spot to see the runners go by, and we always meet up with Bill’s sister and her family there.  Going to the marathon and bringing our kiddies is something that we all look forward to every year.

We go there to cheer on the mobility impaired racers…

…to watch the elite fly by…

…to see the crowds, and the look of determination on their faces.  It’s all very exciting, and very inspiring.  Every year this incredible scene moves me to tears.

But this year it was all too horribly different.  When the deadly bombings occurred, and all that followed, it scared me to the core.  And I am at a loss for words to describe the grief that I feel for the people who were killed or injured.  Yet at the same time, I can sense hope through watching how others (marathon volunteers, police, spectators, doctors) immediately went to the rescue, putting their own lives in danger while focusing solely on helping the injured.  Humanity is good and kind and loving…for sure.

Yesterday, Bill and I went back into Boston.  Originally, we wanted to go there to attend the interfaith service that was happening in the South End, but I got cold feet.  As we were driving towards the city I started worrying about the fact that there might be others out there crazy enough to want to hurt more people (I was afraid that someone might attempt to bomb or shoot at the service goers).  The terrible things that happened at the marathon bombing were still too fresh in my mind.

However, we still headed into the city in the direction of the memorial on Boylston Street…wanting to pay our respects and sort of hoping to find some kind of peace.  Unfortunately, the parking was tight so we didn’t make it all the way to the memorial sight…but what we saw all along the way was very reassuring.  There were a lot of people out, walking around and going to restaurants, and shopping even…it all felt very normal.  Except for the extra police presence and some blocked off streets, everything seemed okay…and I think I needed to see this everydayness to feel calmer again.

Here’s a look from yesterday.  A beautiful day on a beautiful street…

…with trees bursting with blooms.

The streets felt safe again…

…and the sky said the same.

Brook is back at school today (she was off last week for Spring break), and Bill will be at work.  I have some work myself, and then some errands to run…thankfully, things are moving back to normal for us.  Yet I know that for those who were hit hardest it will continue to be a tough struggle.  And all that I can think of to help is to reach out more to everyone around me, in our community and all around (let what moves us motivate us to make a difference).  Together, we can make the world a better place.  As Ghandi said “You must be the change you wish to see in the world”.  I think this applies whether you’re in West, Texas, or facing the floods in the Midwest or the earthquake in China or any other disaster.  We’re all in it together.

Giveaway Results and Corked Vials Project

As promised I’m back to announce the winner of the two books giveaway.

Mary, kindly get in touch with me with your mailing address and I’ll send you a mini-book necklace (please specify which one you’d like) within the next few days.  And I’ll also forward your address to Melody (she’ll be mailing you a copy of her book directly).

While you’re here I thought you might like a look at a fun and easy project.

The how-to instructions are found here.  And you can purchase the corked vials here.  These vials are special because the glass bottoms are flat (for easy display).  Both the instructions and vials are through Stampington…they have it all!

Two Books Giveaway

My lovely friend Melody recently published a wonderfully creative book, An Altered Existence.  This book consists of 14 portrait photographs from long ago, and each portrait inspired Melody to write fictitious stories about life, love, birth, death, salvation, self-acceptance, and taking chances.  These stories have both a timeless and a modern feel, and I could relate to much of it…I have a feeling you might also.

Melody has very generously offered a copy of her book as a giveaway, which you can enter a chance to win here at my blog by leaving a comment to this post (I’d love to hear about your favorite Spring time memories or simply say hi).

In addition to the book (shown above), I’m including a mini-book necklace that I recently made as part of the giveaway.

Years ago I created this mini “dream” book necklace…

…with tea-dyed recycled dryer sheets for the pages and a hand sewn binding.

I was recently inspired to make some more and created the 2 necklaces below.  For the giveaway you have a choice of which mini-book you’d like to have, either the plain cover…

…or the “love” cover.

Both book charms have pages made of recycled dryer sheets as well as some sparkly bead accents.

And there are also some hand stitched details on the opposite side along with rustic looking hardware.

To recap, this giveaway will consist of 2 items (Melody’s wonderful book and one of my book charm necklaces).  One winner will receive both items.  To enter, please leave a comment to this post by next Friday evening (April 12th) and I’ll include your name in the hat.  Then I’ll be back the next day to announce the random winner.

Thanks for stopping by, and wishing you all a bright and beautiful week ahead.

Glimmer of Gold

In the early morning as the sun is rising…

…I feel a wonderful sense of anticipation.

Through the thick of the trees I see the glimmer of golden light growing stronger and clearer by the second.

It is amazing to me how this ball of light can be so beautiful, so powerful…and so full of promise.  I am so grateful for these quiet, early morning moments alone, when I can more fully take in and appreciate the gifts of mother earth.

Below is a look at a necklace that I made that was inspired by the early morning glow of the sun rising from behind the trees.

Every time I wear this necklace I will think about the glimmer of gold that comes so effortlessly every morning.  And a deep sense of gratitude will settle comfortably within me as I move through the rest of the day.

Wishing you wonderful golden light in your every day.

Seeing Beauty Everywhere

Last month while I was in Hong Kong there were some quiet moments that allowed me to see the beauty in the everyday.  Like when I climbed these stairs to get a closer look at some white, flowing things that were sticking out from behind a sign.

As I got nearer and nearer I saw that these figures suspended in the air were just plain ole common hanging laundry…

…yet they were so beautiful…so simple and so humble.   And I remember feeling calm as I looked at the orderly row of newly cleaned white shirts.

And the wooden clothespins…so charming, and again so simple.  I like simple.

On the way back down the steps to rejoin Bill and Brook (we were out walking leisurely around the streets of HK together), I was treated to one more special piece of everyday beauty. To some it may only look like a piece of crumpled up trash on a dirty-old windowsill, but to me it was a beautiful sight regardless of the throw away context.

During the last few weeks I’ve been thinking a lot about these two seemingly random sights of beauty.  And I’ve been feeling that these objects were somehow a connection to my father. He always wore plain white undershirts around the house (it was an everyday thing for him), and he was also an optimist (someone who could see the good side of things everywhere and anywhere, even crumpled up paper).

Memorial Service

My father’s official funeral service happened in Hong Kong last week.  This service was attended by my mother and our extended family as well as the members of their church community in China. Unfortunately, I was not able to stay in Hong Kong long enough to attend the funeral.  However, we have planned a second memorial service that will be at my childhood NYC church tomorrow, so that everyone from our North American church community can attend.  There will be 6 churches, all of which my father started many years ago, coming together…to share some peaceful words and music (the 6 church choirs will be joined and performing as one).

Below is a poem that I wrote for my father to be read at his memorial service.

A Life of Light
A life of light
begins from within.
And radiates to all, and through all.
From light there is love,
which begins from within.
And radiates to all, and through all.
Through love we live in kindness,
spreading warmth and comfort.
Which radiates to all, and through all.
May the light of love live on,
on earth and into heaven.

Thank you again kind friends for all your support through this tough time.  After reading your messages I’ve learned that many of you have also dealt with the loss of someone dear.  I suppose no one is immune to this hard fact of life.  Yet, we are all getting by…making the best of it and hopefully recognizing the good and appreciating the love.  It’s so true that there really is beauty everywhere…and within everyone.

Last of the Snow?

It was less than a week ago when we got hit with more snow…can you believe almost 2 feet of it?!  And to think, I thought Winter was well on its way out.  Here’s a look at what I hope was the last licks of Winter…

…knocking on our front door…

…and sugar coating our side bushes and garden.

Here’s Brook and Mac having some fun in it.

And here’s Bill doing some front walk clean-up (I helped too, but gave up early so that I could take some photos).

It only took us about an hour to shovel…and just in time too, as the sun was on its way down.  But before it went away for the evening it left this gorgeous glow of light (seen from our back deck).  It seems to me that this orange-red streak is somewhat like a silver lining…a gift from Mother Nature at the end of a snow filled day.  Doesn’t this look like a whisper of promise?

And the promise was answered in the form of much sunshine in the days following, as you can see below there was beautiful, bright blue sky (photo taken during our overnight visit to the Hudson Valley).

It’s amazing to me how after just a couple of hours under the soothing sunshine I could feel my spirit lifting.  And all seems lighter and easier…and calmer in general.  And when I’m feeling calmer, I can sense that there’s creative inspiration on the other side…knocking at the door to be let in.  I welcome this with wide open arms and a ready heart.  It’s time to let it flow again.

Cameo Framed Necklaces

I’m a bit late in sharing these necklaces with you…but hopefully, you’ll like seeing them anyway.  And if you do, the detailed instructions can be found here.

I made these two necklaces showcasing a few gems and beads.

This light heart came from Ann Marie (months ago she sent me a box full of beads and I’ve been enjoying using them ever since).

And this pretty blue gem (amazonite) is a favorite because it is often considered a lucky hope stone.

I made the following two necklaces to showcase simple symbols.  Both the cameo and circle pieces come in the same set, which you can purchase through Stampington here (6 pieces for under $6.00).

The “W” stands for William, which stands for my Bill.  Wearing his initial always makes me happy…that school girl kinda happy.

And “3″ is for my family, which makes me very happy too.

You can also expand a bit by putting some special words on the cameo like I did here.

From this photo can you see how the sun was shining so brightly outside.  Longer hours with more of the sun’s soothing light and warmth are on the way, and just in time to brighten everything up.  Are you as excited as I am about this?!

Peaceful Signs and Light

On this past Valentine’s Day morning, as our family headed to the airport, it was especially warm and sunny outside.  Light seemed to be guiding us along (you can see how it beamed so beautifully behind me as we waited for the plane to take off). And I was hopeful that I would soon see my ailing father in Hong Kong.

We arrived sixteen hours later – at night – when all light was absent.

We went straight to our hotel and I immediately went to the concierge desk to get translation help calling the hospital. I was hoping to visit my father that night. But the conversation was not at all what I had expected. The nurse on the other end of the phone told me that at 3am, Hong Kong time, my father had passed away. This was around the time we were taking off from Newark Airport to see him. I wonder, was he heading towards the light as we were moving away from it? Or were we basking in the glory of it at the same moment…on opposite ends of the earth.

We planned this trip more than six months ago, knowing my father was ill, but that I had time to get to Hong Kong and see him at least one more time. So I ask myself why is it that I arrived literally within hours of being able to see him, and yet it wasn’t in time?

I know that he left peacefully in his sleep, surrounded by relatives and loved ones and this blessing is what matters to me most. I’m also very grateful that several days before his passing, I was able to share loving words with him over the phone.  Also, my mother told me that on the day that my father passed away, three nurses on three separate occasions read out loud a letter I had sent to him.  Although I wasn’t able to be with him in person I would like to believe that he could still feel my spirit through my words.

The days following were a blur…the crowded and intense Hong Kong energy mirrored what I was feeling inside.

Yet, I kept noticing peaceful signs of encouragement…around the streets…

…and all the way up the mountain top.

This sign was a whisper to me as well…and I know I should be still and listen.

Faith tells me that whenever there is darkness on the path, there is also light…

…and signs of hope.

It is also true that our paths are not always clear – sharp and painful obstacles are inevitable.

However, it’s good to keep going…one step at a time.  And all the while spreading light as we go along.  This is what my father taught me, and this is what I know to be true.

Before I end this post I would like to thank those of you who’ve left me such wonderfully kind and supportive messages on my last post and through your emails.  Please know that your good energy is well received.

Also, you can visit Create Mixed Media, where I have shared some further thoughts on light and love…in art and in life.

Dearest Father Love

Tomorrow Bill, Brook and I will be traveling to Hong Kong to see my father, who unfortunately has fallen terribly ill.  He is in the hospital, but there is nothing more that they can do for him.  My mother is there by his side, trying to nurse him with Chinese medicine and has been praying for him non-stop…with hope in her heart.

My father has been ill for a while and he’s been getting treatment, which has given him some time…but now I fear he is running out of time.  It is up to God now to decide.  I want him to see me and my family…to know that we are okay and not to worry.  I want him to know that my mother will be okay, and that I will take care of her.  It has been over 6 years since I’ve last seen either one of them (getting to the other side of the world has not been easy to do).  But I am able to go now…and I want to bring him peace.

Last night I was able to reach him by phone (my mother had to hold the phone to his ear so that he could hear me).  And although he could not talk to me (his cancer has spread to his lungs and he is on oxygen), I could hear him breathing as I spoke…and I could hear him trying to speak in response to the words that I so desperately needed to tell him.  I asked him to save his energy and not try to speak…I only wanted him to be able to receive my words of appreciation for him.  And to know that the love he has given me throughout my growing up years has been well received, and has been passed on to his granddaughter Brook.  His love lives within me and will live on within her as well…and it will stay strong and bright and beautiful, I promise.

My father (Reverend Philip Lee) spent his entire life as a pastor and spiritual leader…a devoted Christian through and through.  For over 6 decades he’s preached all over the States and has continued to spread messages of God throughout Asia and much of the world.  I so very greatly admire his deep devotion to God.

My father has taught me so much about the true meaning of life and all through example by living every day with love in his heart.  He has always been kind and compassionate towards everyone, and he always lent a hand whenever possible.  Growing up I watched him share his amazing gift of being able to move others to do the same.  My father’s light is giving and beautiful and warm, and I love him.

May the power of “one love” forever live on.

I don’t know if I’ll make it to my father’s side in time to see his sweet face one last time…I hope so.  Yet I trust that God will grant us whatever is best.  I trust this because it was God who gave me my father to begin with (he adopted me and brought me to America at the age of four).  I believe that this has all been for a good reason…and perhaps a more deeper understanding will reveal itself to me as I move through this marvelous life on earth.

May we each find peace on earth…and beyond.

Rediscovered Creating at Home

Very often during the cold winter months, since I spend a lot of time indoors, I find myself reorganizing my studio.  It’s amazing to me how much stuff gets piled up and up and all around throughout the year.  I guess with all the different things that I enjoy making, most of which involves bringing home stuff and more stuff, it makes sense that my piles would grow larger and larger as each month passes.  I’ve been trying to minimize by only hanging on to “very special” materials, but I don’t always succeed since I consider practically everything special.  Anyway, while sorting through my pile of past projects I came across this collage (11″ x 14″) that I created last winter.

The number 3 is very special to me because it represents the members of our home, and I still use it all the time in my artwork.

I also still like to add a single button here or there.

Below you’ll see that I used a metal strip saved from a box of aluminum foil.  Along with some nails I think it makes a good roof divider.

Below are some more layers and strips of this n’ that…

…and a knotted string detail ties in and highlights the red color along the bottom of the composition.

You can always count on melted beeswax to add texture and a bit of roughness.

And a wash of wintry-icy colors as the background base feels sort of story-book dreamy to me.

Coming across this collage again reminds me that it’s been a long while since I’ve played around with watercolor paint.  I’m glad that this came up…and I love how sorting through the old stuff can inspire you to make new stuff again.  If you happen to be stuck for some inspiration, I’d suggest taking a look around your art making space…perhaps you’ll find something interesting that you forgot about also.

Wishing you much inspiration, new or rediscovered.