{inner radiance (reverb10 24-25)}


December 24 – Everything’s OK. What was the best moment that could serve as proof that everything is going to be alright? And how will you incorporate that discovery into the year ahead?

I keep thinking there isn’t really a moment, but then realize it’s only because non-okay things have happened after such moments of clarity, and for some reason, was holding onto the idea that such things instantly negated the okay moment.

For example, when my second workshop of this year, True to You, was open for registration, and I saw how many people were signing up, I thought, “Okay. I can do this full-time artist thing.” And then, two months later, the money was gone and I was back to having panic attacks all the time over things like being able to afford medications and pay simple bills.

But then things were okay again, and something else came along, and my spirits were lifted.

This is were most of the stress in my life comes from, and it’s really my own fault, isn’t it? I set out to accomplish something, then skate on by for awhile until I absolutely must be spurred into action. Like waves crashing into shore, I enjoy the beach until the next one smashes into the sand, the storm on the horizon always threatening to make landfall. Sure, I transitioned from making what I thought people wanted into making what I enjoyed, but for some reason, always saw things like making classes or doing broadcasts as chores to be performed before I could have fun.

This isn’t a healthy mindset, and yet I spent most of the year dwelling in it.

If I’m honest with myself, brutally this-may-hurt-you honest, I know my moment was back in March after I’d put together my first journal-making mini-workshop. There was a lot of insanity happening in my life at the time, things I had no control over and yet was forced to coexist with; I was miserable in life but excited in art. I poured myself into anything in my studio I could, and went from being sociable to spending hours at a time in the studio, sometimes doing no more than playing on the computer. It became my safe haven in a storm whirling around me, a special place untouched by anyone else. In fact, I rarely let anyone else enter, and almost always had the door closed.

But at that same time, I realized I’d be okay. Sure, I’d go through droughts, as I no longer received a steady paycheck. I’d have ideas and those interested in learning things I’d crafted. I’d have fun and do something more with all I had in my mind. And I think I knew, somewhere deep inside, that even though things were going downhill all around me, as long as I knew myself and had my art, I’d be just fine.

This is a bit related to an experience I had a few years ago. My best friend was planning on going to Los Angeles for her final semester of school, and had really been planning it all along. About a week before applications were due, I was suddenly struck by the notion that I, too, was supposed to go. So what if it was for comedy writing and I was a drama person? I could broaden my horizons, have an amazing experience, and try out something new.

And so I went into that meeting with all these comedy people I only knew from production and business classes with, and turned in my application. Got more money from my student loans to cover expenses. There came a point, though, when the complex we’d be staying in called to say I needed a co-signer to guarantee I’d pay my share. I didn’t have anyone in my life to do that for me except my best friend, and she could hardly back me since she, too, would be staying in the same place.

Dejected, I called the girl who would ultimately be on record as the one who rented the apartment, and told her I could positively pay the money, had it coming via student aide, and swore I’d never screw her. Amazingly, she said she trusted me.

(On a side note, we didn’t really hang out or talk until the second to last day, and it was then we realized how much we had in common; in fact, the reason we didn’t chat much is because we were both in our rooms relaxing or working diligently on our coursework!)

I was frightened to leave my home for such a long time, and be clear across the country. But I’d also been working on myself, on my self-esteem and identity and all those bits that make up a truly amazing life. I knew I had to let go of fear and just do it — go with what my heart was telling me.

My time out there was one of the best times of my life. And the first time I sobbed from overwhelming happiness.

So I knew, back in March, when I had that moment again — that moment filled with fear and yet there was such certainty in my soul, I knew I couldn’t do anything else, or else I’d always wonder:

What if?

So that’s my gift to you today. Sit down. Close your eyes. Take a deep breath and let the world simply fall away around you. Listen to yourself, your heart. And follow it. Or else you may be working one day and find yourself paralyzed by the sadness that comes with wondering what if… what if I’d only done the scary, unusual, adventurous thing I knew with my heart I should have jumped for?



December 25 – Photo – a present to yourself
Sift through all the photos of you from the past year. Choose one that best captures you; either who you are, or who you strive to be. Find the shot of you that is worth a thousand words. Share the image, who shot it, where, and what it best reveals about you.


Unless I’m out with a group of people, I never take a “naked” picture of myself. And before you get all weirded out, I mean without make-up or my hair done. That was always a principle part of preparing for videos or photo shoots (like my younger brother, I love staging photo shoots by myself, using the timer on my camera to grab the shots). Actually, even when I’m with a group of people, I’ve put on my face, as my grandmother called it. I used to think I wasn’t good looking, that my face had too many scars, so would be embarrassed to be seen without a nice layer of foundation and powder on my face.

(I still am, actually, but have grown comfortable with wearing less make-up.)

Looking through my shots, I found myself thinking on this prompt, looking for someone I truly am or want to be. And while my photos are lovely, they already have meaning behind them. A thought or idea I kept in mind while shooting them.

Or they were of me out with friends, enjoying myself. Which, sure, could have a good shot to use, but it just didn’t feel right.

By chance, I stumbled on this shot. I was working on a prompt from Liz Lamoreaux’s book Inner Excavation, about documenting a day through photos. I’d resolved myself the night before to keep my camera close by and take photos of ordinary, amazing moments throughout the next day.

While I only made it about an hour (and then forgot to bring my camera with and missed some stuff), this shot survived.

When I was little, I used to love climbing onto the school bus early in the morning. People’s eyes, right after they wake up, have a sparkle to them. They’re softer, more open, and amazingly beautiful. Every day, I’d love looking at my classmates and their sublime early day eyes before their shields or masks went up and things became sharp edges.

That’s why I love this photo. There’s no pretense. I had just woke up and was heading out to walk the dogs when I snapped this photo of me in the mirror (which is why it’s blurry — I have shaky hands!). No make-up, with my hair thrown up in a quick ponytail.

And I think I’m radiant in it.

(Even though I do look half-asleep. I imagine this is how my face would look were I to turn into a zombie.)

{of two minds (reverb10 - 23)}


December 23 – New Name Let’s meet again, for the first time. If you could introduce yourself to strangers by another name for just one day, what would it be and why?

I kinda have a fun story about this prompt.

When I was 13 or so, I discovered The Internet. And on The Internet was this amazing thing called fanfiction. Now, I became quite addicted to reading stories about my favorite characters, and after a few years, was brave enough to start writing some of my own. This was Back In The Day, when there was no Skype or social networks or any other method we have now of knowing more about the anonymous people we interact with online.

And being a child, mostly, I decided I wouldn’t use my real name. That way, they (the pedophiles and baddies I was sure were looking for 14 year old fanfiction authors) would never be able to find me! It took me a bit to come up with a pen name, but being the newbie anime nerd I was, knew it had to be Japanese. So I started writing as Akira Starr (the last name being that of one of my classmates; she wasn’t too impressed when I told her).

A little bit later, one of my friends, notably more versed in Japanese things, told me Akira was a guy’s name. Well, that certainly wouldn’t do! I promptly chopped off the A and in an instant, became Kira.

Which has been my online monicker ever since. I’ve signed emails with it for so long, it’s actually habit, and my recent signature of combining my true first name and my internet alter-ego feels...odd somehow.

Naturally, when I started posting my artwork, I used my online name, and when it came to finally publishing work and getting a bit more serious about where my artistic life was going, I knew I had to use my real first name. But after all these years, I can’t completely shed the Kira I am. Sometimes, it feels like I AM two people - Samie is the real me, the one sitting here typing, the one who will ride her bike to Starbucks later for some tea and writing time, the one who has faults and imperfections. And Kira is the woman I strive to be. I know it sounds odd, but in my mind, it makes perfect sense. Because we don’t have to share our whole selves online, Kira doesn’t have the bad habits and weaknesses that I have in the real world.

And more than that; most of my friends are ones I’ve met online, so they call me Kira. Which I sometimes prefer. But lately, there’s been this resurgence of calling me Samie or Samantha, from the very same people I’ve met online. I don’t know exactly where or how this started, and so, the question of, “What do you like to be called?” now comes up more than ever before.

The answer is, I don’t really mind. I feel like there’s a re-melding of the mind, this absorption that says I can be both. That I AM both - and that it’s totally okay. Honestly, I adore the name Kira, and sign many things that way. But my mother hates it. Which is her prerogative, since she was on the Official Naming Committee and while I may have been there, didn’t really vote.

I don’t know what the lesson is, here. And that’s okay, too. 

{land and road as far as you can see (reverb10 - 22)}

December 22 – Travel. How did you travel in 2010? How and/or where would you like to travel next year?

I haven’t had a vacation in four years.

Really. 2005 and 2006 were fantastic travel years; I visited Japan in 2005, and in 2006, spent a little over a week in Denver, followed by two months in Los Angeles. Being one who loves to travel, I had a terrific time with all that moving around.

And then everything just dried up.

Sure, I drove around northern Illinois. But that’s as far as I went. I stayed at Jun’s apartment a lot, but that was only 45 minutes from home. No vacations, cruses, or even overnight stays at a hotel.


And then — and I now realize how damn insane we were — my mother and I packed up most of our belongings into a small U-Haul trailer, attached it to the Rav4, threw leashes on the two dogs, and decided to take a five-day trip across the country.

We didn’t have an apartment picked out, or even a place to stay. Our trip-tik book from AAA simply ended in the middle of Scottsdale simply because we needed to give the lady a specific ending point, or at least a town to finish off in. Aside from that, we had some money, our things, and a few internet listings my father had handed off to us before we left.

Driving cross-country is a fading art. There’s such magic and majesty that comes with driving through so many states & regions, an awesome sense of how small we really are. We passed from the lush forests of the Ozarks to the wide-open plains of Oklahoma and Texas, through to the desert of New Mexico and Arizona. The progression was slow, a blended photo winding along outside the windows as we drove on.

There was the amazing pizza we had in Missouri, ordered from the desk clerk’s favorite place. And the breakfast at Waffle House; we’d never been to one before and simply loved it! Down through the rolling hills and onto the turnpike in Oklahoma, where it cost $6 to drive half the state.

Oklahoma City was windy, on the edge of a thunderstorm. I spent the night running around town with Deina, trying to find someplace to print off the photos I’d taken so far. The courtyard was full of birds singing — a chaotic choir that helped us to wake up early the next day.

And then the great plains stretched before us, wide open spaces with mountains far off in the distance. There were lines and lines of tall, white windmills, rotating blades catching the warm sun.

Very gradually, as we passed through Texas, the plains began to dry up, the grass turning to rock and sand as we entered New Mexico. Here, the time changed, signified by a small green sign, “Now Entering Mountain Time.” That night was spent in Tucumcari, just off I-40, in one of the most beautiful hotel rooms I’ve ever stayed in. As we wandered out in the morning sun, we came across the peeling paint of abandoned gas stations, the asphalt of old Route 66 cracked and forgotten. Old advertisements painted on the sides of buildings were washed out, bleached by a hot desert sun, their builders and owners long-gone. It made me sad, driving out of town, a fading monument to times long gone by.

Mountains seemed to grow from the ground as we passed through Albuquerque, our poor car’s engine struggling on low octane to make it through the higher terrain, our progress slowed by the extra weight we were towing. When we hit the border to Arizona, our aching backs and pounding heads were filled with glee as the end of our journey neared. We stayed the night in Holbrook, in a hotel with the worst customer service I’ve ever experienced.

All along the way, we ate at local restaurants, the dogs left in the car with the windows rolled down as many hotels didn’t allow them to stay alone in the room. We stopped at gas stations for water and pop and snacks, ate greasy fast food as we continued on along the interstate. Walked the dogs and let them pull us along. Tried to keep Drake from chasing shiny things all around the car.

Let our hair down and listened to books-on-CD. Found funny and interesting things in gift shops. Befriended some helpful guys near the edge of Texas, who came together to help us figure out that we were in desperate need of more oil (as we’d gone through what was in the car by then).

Once you’re on the road, a few hours in, everything seems to spread out before you into infinity. You can see nothing but land and road as far as you can see. Time slips away. And for a few precious days, the rest of the world ceases to exist.

There be magic.

I'm sitting here listening to Blue Ridge Mountains by Fleet Foxes (one of the most beautiful songs I've ever heard), but in my mind, I'm still in that car heading west, as the pioneers did, in search of a better life. They were definatly onto something.

{the land of alice (reverb10 - 21}

December 21 – Future Self. Imagine yourself five years from now. What advice would you give your current self for the year ahead? (Bonus: Write a note to yourself 10 years ago. What would you tell your younger self?)


Dear Me,

I know we always wonder about time paradoxes and over-analyze silly things like physics and mathematics and parallel universes - but I don’t have time, in this short letter, to explain how we, five years in the future, have figured all this out. And by we, I mean people in general, as I’m still falling through this rabbit hole called art.

Which is a fun thing to tumble through, once you get past the initial disorientation and fear of falling. There comes a time — and for you, it’s not that far off — when you become more comfortable with your spiral downward (or up, as the physics of such metaphors are malleable).

You’ll see it as a wild adventure, with the world at your fingertips. Like magic, doorways open up off the main tunnel and unseen hands pull you in. Your travel moves sideways or even at a decline, speed picking up, wind rushing through your hair (and it does grow as long and as beautifully as you now wish for it). This is the land of Alice, where up is down, the absurd is reality, and dreams fuel more than just a night’s slumber. And, being you, I know how you’re feeling right now — you’re at the edge of the cliff, your wings uncurling behind you, but you’re still afraid, still wondering if this is all too good to be true. If all the excitement you have built up, all the wild expectations and daydreams, are never going to materialize.

They will.

I also know you don’t believe all this positive thinking stuff. You do, to a point - you have changed your way of thinking, have worked through fear, and this isn’t the first cliff you’re standing at the edge of. But you don’t speak affirmations out loud (they only repeat in your head, mantras to reassure you when times are tough or your anxiety flares up) and have never taken any of those online classes that promise to change your dreams into reality.

This comes from the belief that all you need is already inside of you.

And it is.

Things are going to get better. You’ll feel more confident in your own skin, will live life on your terms. You’ll get that insurance and find an amazing, caring doctor who takes wonderful care of you. You’ll get all you need but still have those periods where you want more simply because you can now life comfortably, financially.

But you’ll be busy. Very busy. I am warning you now — those late nights you love to play on the internet and write and read are going to turn into working nights, your mind ablaze with ideas and projects and new things to do. Even more so than now! Your calendar will be full and the phone will be ringing off the hook.

So before all this happens, I’m going to remind you to take it easy. Stop worrying so much. Do a little bit every day. Work from the heart, not the pocketbook (which you’ll be tempted to do — trust me!). And soon, it all falls magically, wonderfully in place.

And yes, we have jetpacks. At least I do.

Love, you

Dear Younger Me,

I have a few things to suggest to you, since we’re working on the premise that I’m sending this back to the past without having received it back then. Which is an odd loop, I know. But roll with it, okay? You’re seventeen years old — there are a ton of things you’re just going with.

And no, I won’t tell Mom.

In about a year or so, you’re going to get a fantastic job at Baxter Healthcare. Cherish it. I won’t spoil the ending, but it does end. Network like crazy. And you know how you spend all that money on manga? Yeah — cool it. You’ll end up never reading half of them, and in ten years, your collection of 300+ will drop to about 25. Save the money! You’re making a ton, going to school, and you really need a savings account.

In my future, you date A off-and-on until your sophomore year of college, when you realize he can be a jerk in more ways than one. So while you’re young and playing DDR every weekend, take some time to just talk to him. It took years for me to finally say he made me feel special whenever he paid attention to me, and then it was done. Over. You’ll end up stuck in this spot where you know you can never be with him, but still love him. And, oh, yes, darling, you do.

You’re going to get screwed over by some people in about 2 years or so. Watch your back and when your instincts say someone’s lying, they probably are.

But I don’t have much more to say. If I change the past too much, I may not end up where I am now, and I’m pretty happy with how things are progressing. Sure, I’m scared of the bold choices I’ve made, but when I sleep at night, it’s with a smile on my face.

Just try to take better care of your health. Pay attention to what you eat. And start bike riding. You love it.

Love, your big sister you


I started crying about halfway through that second letter; love is a hard thing to deal with, especially when the realization comes from left field and you're standing there with this lump you don't know what to do with. I only wish I had been braver in my relationships up till now, and yet, I wouldn't change a thing.

Funny how that works out.

I'm also having so much fun drawing the little illustrations! I want to draw more, and look forward to my little character's next adventure. If I let that fear that my drawings aren't good enough, or are silly, take over, think of all the joy I'd be missing. Just a reminder for those of you still scared of doing something less-than-perfect.

{my own naivete (reverb10 - 20)}


Beyond Avoidance. What should you have done this year but didn’t because you were too scared, worried, unsure, busy or otherwise deterred from doing? (Bonus: Will you do it?)

This one’s a no-brainer: get health insurance.

I’ve battled in this particular war for awhile, now, going without for years on end, gaining some when working. This last dry spell is due to my own naivete and nothing else, an expensive (health-wise) lesson to learn.

But I never got on it. Never researched plans or looked over data for public options. Never asked for help or called an insurance agent. Time and time again, I was asked about my progress, reminded I needed to do something about this.

And I didn’t.

I was scared. And yes, there is a certain degree of shame; even though I have applied and paid for plans and gotten rejected, not because of anything I’ve done, but because of my health (which I do as much as I can to keep as good as I can!), I still feel as though I’ve failed because I can’t get anything. I am willing to work and pay for insurance, and instead, I must go and apply for a social aide because they’re the only ones who will give me a chance.

I hope.

(And of course, I am afraid they won’t, that I’ll have tried all the options, have done all I can, and will still be a forgotten statistic paying over $250 a month on medications.)

I’ve started the process here in Arizona, and I think, no, I WILL, finish it. And figure this all out. It is something that bothers me all the time, and I’ve gotta stop making excuses and just do it!

{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.

{at the end (what to remember) (reverb10 - 14)}


Prompt: 5 minutes. Imagine you will completely lose your memory of 2010 in five minutes. Set an alarm for five minutes and capture the things you most want to remember about 2010.

I have found a song that’s five minutes long and use that as a timer (as I love writing to music!). Do I get to finish my sentence at the end, teacher?

Here’s what you need to know:

  • You made a mistake and paid for it. While you soon learned to look at it as kismet, the truth is, you messed up. Learn from it, but don’t let it continue to get you down.
  • Pay more attention to your bills, especially your COBRA payments. This is another lesson learned.
  • Your loved one continued to have problems. Everyone did. You ran away but became the bigger person and forgave even when you were still angry. Remember this!
  • You gained confidence in yourself, taught classes, networked, met great people.
  • Your dream DID come true! You moved across the country after a year of “planning.” The road trip was fantastic, especially driving down the highway with the windows down, singing along to music with your mother in the passenger seat.
  • Things can - and often do - get better.
  • Your art has taken a turn. This is okay. You were scared when it first happened, but trust me - it’s all for the best. It’s amazing and deep and easier. Please trust me on this.
  • Meg, Jun, Amber, Jessie, Roben, Dawn, Connie, Dina, Kyle, J, N, the three boys at game night, Kenji, & the Mitsuwa meetup group. They all showed you great times and friendship.
  • You can do this.
  • Live in the moment. You re-found your faith during this year, and must remember to keep it close to your heart, especially when things go good OR bad. It is your guide, along with the Divine.
  • I love you.

That’s it. From me to me, Memento-style (minus the countless tattoos).

{all those little pieces (reverb - 14)}


December 14 – Appreciate. What’s the one thing you have come to appreciate most in the past year? How do you express gratitude for it? (Author: Victoria Klein)


I’ve been sitting here at my desk trying to think through all of 2010 like a movie on fast forward in my head. What happened in January? February? May? July? These months are so far from me, now, a past I don’t dwell on. Yes, I can remember key moments, but overall?

(It reminds me of cop shows, when they go to interview a possible witness or suspect, and ask, “What were you doing on May 14th of this year?” I’d have no idea. I’d give them a puzzled look, then look at my debit card statement and visual journals.)

I’d have to say, in all honesty, my parents. It sounds corny, but after I lost my job, they could have been on me to get a new one, to push myself harder so I could move out. But while they weren’t that impressed when I started this art thing, they’ve become so amazingly supportive in the past few years, I count myself lucky. If I didn’t have their support (and their willingness to put up with their 26 year-old-college-graduate daughter), I wouldn’t be where I am now - devoting my days to artistic pursuits like art and writing. I wouldn’t have the budding of a career in my adopted field. I know I’d be miserable, in pain, depressed, and living with strangers-as-roommates.

Especially with the move west. I think they saw I needed the change of scenery and stabler weather and brought me in as a partner on this journey. I’m not the child being told what to do - my opinion is now sought and taken into consideration. They could have said, “We’re moving and selling the house. Time to move out!” Instead, they brought me along and gave me the room with the huge closet that now serves as a studio (yes, it’s that big!).

And I think coming to this realization shows how much I’ve really grown up. I think, in past years, I would have said something more about myself - a trait I’d picked up or circumstances directly related to me - instead of looking to an outside person or persons to give my appreciation and gratitude to.

I try to let them know as much as I can how much I appreciate this opportunity to create and really figure things out in two ways: 1.) I show them everything I’ve accomplished, from magazine articles to class sales; 2.) support them in any way I can.

My heart simply swells when I think of where I could be - working in an office somewhere, with time at night for my art yet in too much pain to do anything. I could live with people I couldn’t stand, in a job that slowly sucked away my soul, miserable. I’ve tried the 9-to-5 deal - after the third time I fell asleep on the expressway during rush hour from fatigue and pain, I knew I was no longer simply risking my health, but that of those around me - and it doesn’t work for me. What alternative is there? Retail, where I’d stand for hours and hours? I did that, too, and had days I couldn’t even get out of bed, trapped in my body, mind screaming.

So you could say I owe them so very much.

I support them wherever I can, without complaint. Errands, chores around the house, caretaking (my mother suffers from chronic migraines and my father is retired). I simply love taking care of them with all my heart, and wish I could do more. There’s a part of me that hates being a leech of sorts, despite my own meager income, and I know if I won the lottery, I’d give most of the money to them.

Until this year, I don’t think I’ve ever given them the appreciation they deserve.

I do want to add another thing, because I’ve spied the card on my desk. There’s a woman in my life who has shown me the true magic and wonder of friendship in a deeper and more loving way than I’ve ever felt before, and until this year, I felt I’d never achieve a friendship like I have with her, that I wasn’t worthy. There was a time I was close, but this...it is so amazingly hard to say, “I love you,” to anyone, even my family, and - sorry, a bit of crying here! - when she said it to me for the first time, it meant the world. I think that was the moment I began recovering myself, all those little pieces I’d cast into the shadows because I was afraid of being rejected by the world. I’d do anything for her, no matter what, just as she has for me.

The picture I have of us is the first thing I set out on my dresser.

I think I’m going to show them all this post, because I may not be that eloquent in person (I bounce around way too much!), but want them to see these words, to know how much I love them all. I wouldn’t be who I am right now, where I am - confident in myself, in my abilities, in faith and love - without my parents and best friend.


The picture above doesn’t have much to do with this post, but I want to still share my creative adventures while participating in #reverb10, and so sometimes use my daily photos to illustrate them.

I’d post pictures of those I appreciate, but want to keep some of this for myself and them.