feelings

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In time, between 29 and 31, I felt the need to express love in a physical form. Having spent a good portion—months often connected—of 31, 32, and in between 32 and 33 away from the people I knew I loved, I discovered and practiced love that could be felt beyond physical form. Spending a few moments in quiet connection was all it took for the focusee of my thoughts to feel the space around them shift towards them. On occasion, I used technology to amplify my intent. The words or words attempting to describe my current state would reflect back.

The critique on the form of desired affection wasn’t that I lacked love or that we lacked —it was that we each hadn’t been still long enough.

I am,
thinking about,
I am feeling,
and,
I love,
you.

daily reminders

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I twirled the skinny rings we purchased together; they remind me of you. I purchased a loaf of bread that had grains from near where you live; it reminds me of you. I couldn’t resist buying Marmite; it reminds me of you. I made ghee; it reminds me of many of you. At yoga, I practiced the first things I ever learned from you; I am forever grateful to you. Our brief was theater related; I spent hours reminded of you. A friend had my scone in an airport lounge; it reminds me of you. I bought cilantro–you hate cilantro–it reminds me of you. I saved my avocado seed; it reminds me of you. I ate the last piece of cake and drank cold tea; they remind me of you.

Today, everything reminds me of many of you.

 

essentials of (a long-term) travel bag

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Over the past few years, I have spent at least 3 months away from my home base of Houston–from one month to three months at a time. In the past, I have made the mistake of packing too many clothes and not enough self-care essentials. This time, I packed the essentials first and filled the gaps with clothes.

I desire to feel even more alive than the sensation of bitter New York winter on my strategically covered skin.

These things allow me to make any space feels like me:

And the most magnetic blue monkey gift of all, a quartz with tourmaline and chlorite inclusions.

Within 24 hours of arriving, I bought a yoga block, unhomogenized grass-fed local milk (to feed my kefir grains), almond milk, bananas, sprouted pumpkin seeds, Hayden Flour Mill rolled oats, Canaan olive oil (sourced from landrace varietals, organic, and fair trade), Seed+Mill tahini (ground in NY), dried white mulberries, and shared a meal at an Ethiopian restaurant with a friend.

white solar dog

Like the imperfect organization of aveoles in this next loaf of bread I bake, beauty and love are present experiences, never fully describable or expressed in a linear manner.

Having spent years struggling to look through a lens that is solely mine, I peel away those layers that trained my past sight. The sharpness limited the range of experiences I would allow myself. When the seen things became less distinct, I gave my other senses breathe.

Since the Winter Solstice, I walk, with the longest spine I know, amongst the towering forest of Truth. I release the threads of my past into the deepest expansions of the Blue Sky. These strands influenced me, distracted me, held me in some capacities from the fullest expression my Heart.

A wash of unconditional love, emerged, unrestricted, spilling into the surfaces of my skin, dancing onto you, flowing with its new life. Its lava-like qualities, burned so I felt its sensation, retreating in temperature only when I no longer needed heat to pinpoint the flow.

I surrender to the universe’s plan for us.

Breathe In, Breathe Out.

Love Endlessly.

Peace,
Your Magnetic Blue Monkey

2018.01.08_whitesolardog

going downhill and getting downhill

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My path, uniquely mine, predetermined to include curves, with varying elevations and odd sized obstacles. It has left me with physical scars—internal scars that surfaced for weeks and sometimes years. Growing up, people told me that scars were not pretty. As a lover of the outdoors and a true participant of gravitational forces, I felt confused, until one day I realized they were just projecting their fear on me.

fear: an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone/something
is dangerous/scary, likely to cause pain/discomfort, or a threat.

I decided that fear would keep me from being curious, from exploration, and, therefore, would alter my potent for new aspects of happiness and level of obtainable joy. If I could break the patterns of things that used to provoke fear, then my thought was I could be detached from fear. This emotional response is highly individualized, so what I did next may not be the stimulus you need.

I wouldn’t have said yes to downhill mountain biking. I have no reason to downhill mountain bike. I have never mountain biked, or skied, or even like going downhill on a straight, perfectly paved road on a bike with good brakes, but people do this all the time, with enjoyment, and I would be sharing my experience with Tigermom (aka Lisa Lov).

How I came to say yes, in the days prior:

One weeks prior, after a chat about hair with the Creative Director of a hair salon in Toronto, it dawned on me that hair holds the DNA of our past; so, over a bathroom sink, moments after waking up, with inexperienced hair cutting fingers, I cut the past into a trashcan, giving it no choice but to leave my being. With each movement of my fingers, a wave of empowerment rushed through my veins. The blockage of fear began to leave my body.

Two nights prior, Tigermom, the other craziest gals, and I practiced our meditative breathing exercises before we jumped into 8 Celsius lake water. The sun was out. We were in Sweden. Why wouldn’t we jump in the lake? What’s the worst that could happen? We already knew we would be cold, so jumping into the lake would just confirm this fact.

One hour prior, Tigermom asked if I was scared. My response: I’m not thinking about being scared until we get on the mountain. I couldn’t be bothered to replace the awe of Sweden’s beauty with the fear of something I committed myself do.

Protected in full gear, I watched with laser focus the art of getting on a ski lift with an awkwardly heavy bike, and I thought to myself, what’s the worse that can happen? I fall a lot and eventually get to the bottom? I was certain all those things would happen. To not let fear take over me after I fell the first and uncountable last time, I found that focusing on my breath caused my heart rate and blood pressure to stay stable.

There’s a memory that Lisa and I will share, when I went over the handlebars and landed spread eagle with the bike landing on me, perfectly sandwiching my head under the frame’s triangular core. As the weight of the bike holds me down long enough for me to collect my thoughts, I thought to myself, I should ask her to photograph me. Ironically, Tigermom was thinking the same thing. Unfortunately, neither of us said what we were thinking, so there is no proof it happened. All I could do was laugh at how ridiculous I probably looked. I made a trailer of memories if you need a minute of thrill.

I got up.

The uncanny, calm-as-fuck innerself thought: Fuck it. Let’s keep going. What other choice do we have?

(Note to downhill newbies, it’s not a good idea to hit the brakes fully when in the process of going downhill.)

i feel free.

i am free.

tomorrow i am also free.

My Danish home 

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I’m in love with this city.

I’ve decided the way to travel is to travel to the same places, experiencing them as a new human, learning from the evolution of not only that city, but as being human yourself.

This city, for me, is Copenhagen.

When I first discovered Copenhagen, it was the dead of winter of the year 2010. I had never known a white Christmas. My lovely friend Iris, who any day now will have a baby, taught me what hospitality meant. She welcomed me to her parents home in Jutland for Christmas, and her father could not fathom a visitor without a beer in hand at all times. I can never forget this memory.

Now, on my fourth trip to Copenhagen, it has been decided that I am part Danish, and that this IS my second home. How often do you visit a city where your name is called out while riding a bike? Or that you appear at a wine bar only to be greeted by people you know. Or to be invited into a home to be cooked a meal by Cambodian parents. Or to chase a beer with a negroni. Or to drink milk straight from the holding tank. Or to wear the shoes you left here on your last visit?

Challenge to visit a place more than once. More than twice. More times that you can count. Expand and contract with it. Learn about the people and culture and the people that visit. Be a regular—have a place to call home. The world—it is smaller than we think— it is for exploring deeply the things we do not know (yet).

This time I leave behind one of my first ceramic pots, some hair, some ideas about conserving water on a farm, and promises to be back within a year.

I came to Copenhagen this time to celebrate a 30th birthday and an almost new Danish life. I have yet to decompress from the experiences here, but I know I will never forget it.

I feel so alive.

(This excerpt of my visit was written after cutting my own hair, being a natural chauffeur on a GoBoat, biking with my hair down like I own this town, a natural wine tasting of countless bottles of Danish, French, and American wines, a homemade meal of roasted chicken, risotto of chicken hearts, wheel of cheese, and Danish melon, followed by chasing a beer with a negroni, and biking home under the moonlit Danish summer night.)

spending the 4th not here (but there)

I flew over 12 hours so I could lay next to a friend and stay up way too early into the morning talking about love, life, and living in a new decade. There’s always so much to catch up on. There is no substitution for physical exchanges in words.

This is my second summer to spend the 4th away from my US home. Copenhagen, over the years, has become a second home to me. I cultivated my first Danish friendships over 6 years ago. We have shared our cycles of love, heartache, living as foreigners, and healing over the quickly evolving technology.

the pause in falling

Over the past years, I have become the student of the artfully falling, with physical scars to show for it. If you didn’t believe in gravity, I could convince you otherwise. I thought my tattoos would be a unique identifier, but I found the organic scars are much more unreplicable and hold a deeper beauty.

The more often I fell, the less often I cursed what could be seen as a misfortune, and the more resilient I became. Getting up became a muscle memory. Now when I fall, I acknowledge the pause in my life, inhale and exhale into the experience, and practice softly lifting myself up. The measure of time melts away during the healing process. It just goes as it goes, flows like seaweed riding the vastness of waves. (Sometimes the flow cramps my style.)

Tejas Heritage Farm

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Things that require unmeasurable work and passion tend to be known as labors of love. Bread may be an obvious labor of love to bakers and their friends, but so too is raising guinea hens, chickens, turkeys, and three coyote-hunting dogs—all free range, could-be-if-they-wanted-to-be certified organic—on a small farm.

Oxheart supported David and Cheri Glover of Tejas Heritage Farm for a few years now, and only now after we shut our doors did I set aside time to visit the farm in Cleveland, Texas. I asked my father to join me because he was blown away by the flavor of their chicken. It reminded him of how chickens used to taste back home in Hong Kong.

I learned that it’s about a 4:1 ratio of certified-organic feed to realised protein on the chicks, and the birds here take almost twice as long to grow up to market size (than conventionally raised chicks) because they get to grow naturally. The feed is necessary to supplement the pasture diet. The birds need a balanced diet to grow and stay healthy.

The ducks hang out in the pond.

Baby guinea hens are easily scared.

The chickens, they are pretty much only interested in eating.

Their turkeys—my Thanksgiving tradition.

I totally stuck my nose into their pen and responded with, “It smells pretty good in there.”

There are sunflowers and wild dewberry on their farm. Two things I love.

David and Cheri can never both travel away from the farm or have a date-night in the city because if they did, who will rally the birds into their pens at dusk so they can be safe from coyotes? In case you missed the first time we served turkey at Oxheart, it was because the coyotes ate the rest of our allocation.

Everything sold at market is hand-butchered. Hand-butchered on the farm by David himself. This means no big processing plant with chemicals to keep your chicks clean from another farm’s chicks.

David handed me two packages of chicken hearts before we left. Cheri shared with me her recipe for cooking them. They know how to take care of others. This is a poultry farm you want to visit.

Visit them at the Eastside Market or Woodlands Market for your retail needs. Learn about their rabbits, hens, chickens, wild boar, ducks, and more: tejasheritagefarm.com

Sweet Liberty Bake Sale x PAIR

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Two Sundays ago (4/30), a group of women came together and created a really special moment. Special because it created a feeling, an environment that I and probably all of us don’t get to experience often enough. The vibrations of this higher energy moved within me for many days after. I am only now getting a chance to fully process the experience.

Kelly Helgesen started the first Sweet Liberty Bake Sale. In her words: I have a very hard time keeping my mouth shut when I see things going wrong or people being mistreated. But usually, yelling and being mad doesn’t solve problems or make changes. I had to stand up and say, ‘I think this is wrong’ with the hopes that I could get like-minded people to join me and help people that really need it right now.

In this Sweet Liberty Bake Sale, hosted at Axelrad, proceeds benefited Refugee Services of Texas. Kelly asked a number of Oxheart alumn (Willet Feng, Sam Chang, Jason White, and I) to help. We, happily and warmly, baked our way to a donation of $1,800.

Kelly inspired me to continue the bake sale idea. I chose to partner with PAIR, Partnership for the Advancement and Immersion of Refugees. PAIR’s mission is “to empower refugee youth to navigate American society, reach their academic potential, and become community leaders.” I first learned of PAIR at a film screening at River Oaks Theater a year or so ago.

Realizing how special it is to have places like Axelrad to host events like this, I thought, why not host one at Oxheart while it’s laying dormant until its next iteration? Sure, there was some missing furniture and everything was in the center of the dining room, but the kitchen was fully functional and had a new work table island. Jillian Bartolome and Kelly helped me in the kitchen. Justin Vann brought over every folding table and chair from Public Services.

While I didn’t thoroughly think through the details of a brunch bake sale, and it didn’t go as smoothly as it could have, I knew having Diana, Ceci, Brittany, and Justine helping in the FOH would make the moment what it needed to be. Marianne (and later my sister, Angela) jumped in to help on dishes because I somehow thought I could wing it without one. I looked at Marianne when she asked how I could help, and as my heart sank to tell her the help was in the pile of dishes quickly piling into a Dr. Seuss disorder, the fullness in her eyes said it was okay. Washing dishes is the least glamourous job, especially because everything is done by hand at Ox. I soon realized that it literally takes an army to coordinate a pop-up. I also quickly learned that my skill set does not lie in looking at a line of orders coming in and properly communicating what needs to come out of the kitchen next. Thank goodness for Jillian to calmly accept the lead. A friend and amazing home cook, J.Jop made gravy for the biscuits, set up the front and helped us get food out. When her supporting half, Peter, arrived to eat, he looked at us and without asking, decided we needed help instead. The ladies of PAIR were even bussing tables to help out. It truly was a team effort, as are most things in life.

Greenway has always been a happy participant in events like this, and after we ran out of coffee quickly, came in with backups of iced coffee and more beans to brew. Tejas Heritage Farm donated all 10 dozen duck eggs that we pickled and served with toasted breadcrumbs and herbs. We found garnishes to the dishes from farms like Plant it Forward, Animal Farm, and Dos Brisas.

Here is a menu in case you missed the event: PopUpMenu_Sweet Liberty2.

The amount of gratitude I have for each of these women that helped make this event successful in spirit and in an amazing $2700 donated to PAIR settles quite deep into a fullness of my heart. The next one around, I will ask for more help beforehand, plan a little better, and continue to exhale loads of gratitude for all the amazing humans that make our world a much more inspirational place to live.

Look for this image in the future and share in the fullness that living on and with Mother Earth can bring.

SweetLiberty_color(designed by Dave Hess)