Making Room for Mindfulness

One of the things that I’m struggling with right now is being mindful. Taking the time and energy to acknowledge my own thoughts, feelings, emotions, worries, and so on. It’s so much easier to continue watching YouTube videos or playing video games instead of deciding to stop and just acknowledge.

I think part of what makes the idea of mindfulness so scary is that it means you have to acknowledge yourself. Come to terms with your life. And that can be scary when I don’t feel so great about what I’ve been doing with my life recently.

I suppose I could blame it on the end of summer slump – right now I’m in that awkward lame duck in-between period where I’m finished with my summer job and waiting for school to start – but that’s a paltry excuse at best. I could also blame my environment – living at home with 4 other people and 2 yappy dogs are not the most conducive conditions to productivity – but that doesn’t excuse my unwillingness to try to put effort into living my life.

No, at the end of the day, it is my responsibility to take charge of my life and live it the way I want to live. Despite all perceived obstacles or difficulties that may seem “out of my control,” I am still in charge of myself. I have my faculties – my mind, my body, my space, my property, my thoughts, and my attitude. I get to choose to do certain actions in order to live the kind of life I want and be the kind of person I want to be.

Now, I would like to mention some ways that we can attempt to be more mindful in our daily lives:

Avoid multi-tasking, even during low-level tasks like watching videos. This trains you to be more focused and wholly-engaged in whatever you are doing.

Journaling or Morning Pages. Morning Pages is more like stream-of-consciousness writing, while journaling can be more structured. Either way, writing out your thoughts and feelings forces you to acknowledge them and helps you process them.

MeditatingMeditating is a way of training yourself to focus and be at peace with yourself, free of any other distractions.

Cleaning your space. I find that for me, my environment greatly affects the way I operate. Having a clean and relaxing space definitely helps me to be more at peace with myself.

 

Which other methods of being more mindful did I miss? Let me know in the comments! As always, thanks for reading.

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Yappie is changing my life

If you’re over the age of 18 and/or you remember the “old school” days of YouTube, you might remember the trend of Asian YouTubers who made tons of videos about, well, being Asian. There was KevJumba, NigaHiga, and others who made videos about Asian stereotypes and such, all in the name of comedy (and perhaps a little bit of education). You might also be familiar with Wong Fu Productions – they have a pretty large following of young Asian Americans (and others). They make lots of scripted short films and their production quality has steadily increased over the years.

Recently, Wong Fu has come out with a new 5-episode miniseries called “Yappie.” Yappie basically stands for “Young Asian Professional”, and of course the series follows the main character Andrew who is… well, a Yappie.

It just so happens that this show is incredibly woke (as the kids say these days) and it comes at just the perfect moment in my life. Yappie doesn’t shy away from discussing and dissecting lots of tough questions about what it means to be Asian American and the many different facets and intersections of being Asian American. For example, with so many different Asian backgrounds (South Asian, East Asian, Pacific Islanders, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Malay, Indian, etc.) how can we come together through our shared experiences? Or should we even? How can we relate to the black community in America through our shared experiences as minorities, though we face many very different struggles?

Currently I am writing a play that I believe is about “Asian American-ness” and I have been thinking about many of the same questions that are brought up in Yappie. I can’t tell you how refreshing and affirming it is to see that I am not the only one wondering about these questions and the topic of “Asian American-ness.” In my upbringing, I have often been the only Asian kid in my arts classes and experiences (in dance, theatre, etc.) and so I often wonder if my obsession with “being Asian” and bringing Asian American representation to the arts is strange or unnecessary. But seeing Wong Fu invest their resources into creating this great miniseries along with the large number of views it has garnered and the discussions it has sparked in the comments brings me so much relief. It’s almost like an affirmation that no, it’s not just you and yes, this topic is important and it does need representation in the arts.

In a culture that heavily praises “safe” careers like science, tech, and engineering, I know that I’m not the only young Asian American artist out there struggling to figure out what it means to be an Asian American artist. So thank you, Wong Fu, for continuing to make great quality meaningful content and for inspiring and affirming us in our creative journeys.

Watch the first episode of Yappie here:

Little Women, or why theatre matters

I truly believe that theatre can change lives.

When you watch a theatre show, you are forced to live in the present moment. You are forced to be present, thoughtful, and engaged. You empathize with the characters’ struggles, root for their successes, and experience a range of emotions along the way. There is no room for daydreaming, texting, idly playing minesweeper on your phone, or side conversations.

Unlike a book, TV show, or movie, you cannot pause a live performance and come back to it later having missed nothing. You cannot zone out and then rewind 30 seconds or go back a few pages to retrieve what you missed. And it is because of this that I believe theatre (or live performance) impacts your subconscious deeper than other forms of media or entertainment.

This summer, I have been working on Little Women the musical with a local theatre company. To be honest, I had listened to the cast album for the show previously and honestly I wasn’t too excited about it. It sounded boring. Personally, I am of the opinion that Little Women the musical relies on how compelling the actress who plays Jo is, as it seems like it was written specifically for Sutton Foster (no disrespect to Sutton Foster though!! I love her!!). So I was expecting a show that would be a little bit difficult to sit through save for perhaps some impressive belting.

Fast forward to me watching the first full run of the show during tech week, and boy, was I wrong. This production was so well-done (props to our director who did an expert job!) and the actress who played Jo was so perfect (props to Emily!!) that I was instantly sold on the show. And, of course, after watching this show 3.5 times for 4 days in a row, I have some thoughts about it.

What I love most about Little Women the Musical is Jo’s journey. It is so very real to me and so very motivational. She has such a fierce drive and energy in everything she does (“Christopher Columbus! I’m bursting with energy! Someone give me a task to do.”) and with this personal drive she is able to surpass all odds and difficulties to succeed at her dream of becoming a successful and published writer. But she’s also a young adult just figuring out life like me, and her drive gets her through her biggest struggles as well. I love how the show portrays Jo’s struggles, not just externally against society’s expectations of women or Aunt March or her father being away, but internally when she loses Beth along with some of her inner drive and has to find a way to continue on despite it. I believe that Jo has so much power because of this inner drive and that is something I strive to find in my own life.

To be honest, this summer has been kind of dumpy and blah for me. I have been a potato watching YouTube for honestly probably 50% of it, and the other 50% doesn’t look so pretty either. I would repeat phrases to myself like, “I’m just a tired bean,” and stuff like that. I was in a rut. One night while I was driving home after watching the show, I was talking to myself in the car (as one does) and said, “I’m just a tired bean.” But then I realized that this was not the person I wanted to be, not the person I wanted to tell myself I was. So instead I started saying, “Christopher Columbus! I’m bursting with energy! Someone give me a task to do.” Why am I telling you about the weird things I do when I’m by myself in the car? Well, I’ve watched too many YouTube videos on the Law of Attraction to not believe that the things I repeat and say to myself are manifested in my life and so I believe there is so much power to change who we are in the way we talk to ourselves and our thoughts. And I do think that repeating Jo’s signature line to myself has helped me to gradually see myself in a different way and slowly make changes in my life to work on becoming the person I want to be. But here’s the rub – I don’t think it would have occurred to me to start changing my thought patterns like this if I hadn’t watched Little Women. Watching the show, I was forced to be present and focused in the moment and to engage with the characters. I was placed in a position where I first empathized with Jo and then grew to see so much of myself in her and so much of who I wanted to be. And this, I believe, is the power of theatre. It works in mysterious ways, perhaps through subconscious thoughts that resurface at odd times and give you that spark of hope that can change your life.

So, essentially, watching Little Women the musical has inspired me to become a better person. And that’s one reason why I believe theatre can change lives.

(this is quite poorly written and I apologize)

Playwriting (and self-discipline) Woes

Ahhh. Good morning, world, and all who inhabit it!

Yes, I know, I know, it’s been EONS since my last blog post. I’m sorry, I was wrong, I love you. What the heck even happened? Well I know exactly what happened. It was a lack of self-discipline combined with a general lack of focus. No desire to put in the work towards self-improvement or the practice of being diligent and responsible. I own up to that. I know that is a flaw that I must work on to improve.

And the same thing has affected me all summer, maybe even ever since the beginning of college. I have struggled immensely with getting work done ahead of time, before it is due. I have turned in almost every single paper, project, and final at the very last second, having waited to start them until the very last minute. And instead of doing this work, I indulge in short-term pleasures: YouTube, TV shows, sleeping, eating – things that don’t help in making me the person I want to be.

Yes, it is very bad. But a more helpful way to describe it would that these habits are not conducive to me becoming the person I want to be, or helping me grow as a person, artist, friend, family member, etc. I am turning 20 years old in just over 2 months (!) and it’s time for me to get my act together. I want people to treat me like a damn independent adult, and so it’s time for me to treat myself like a damn independent adult and hold myself responsible for doing things that I don’t necessarily want to do in the moment.

I had a few goals for this summer: choreograph the musicals I was working on, write my play, catch up on blog posts and Instagram art posts, and continue exercising/dancing. Guess what I have done so far? It’s nearly the end of summer; in fact I have a little over 2 weeks before I move back to campus and dive headfirst into intense dancing, and I have only choreographed the 2 musicals that I was working on. You know why? Because that was the only thing I had to do. I was obligated to do that because I had applied and signed up to be a choreographer for those shows and I had an obligation to the theatre company, the cast, and the other staff members. And did I choreograph those musicals early on so that I would have plenty of time to review and edit before I had to teach the choreography in rehearsals? You guessed it, NO. No I did not. I waited to choreograph those dances until the last minute possible before I had to teach them in rehearsal. It was stressful, shameful, and to be quite honest not my best work. I do not want to put in all the effort to do a big project and choreograph a show without putting my best foot forward in all aspects so that I can truly stand behind it when it’s all said and done and be proud of what I have done.

So what am I going to do moving forward? Well, I’ve got a play to write. I have a commitment to not only myself but also my director, lighting designer, the second season program at my school, and (I believe) the Asian-American community to write this play. And I have 2 more days to finish it. I am not very close to done. But thank God for my director sternly bringing me back to reality a few days ago and making me realize I need to be making writing this play a priority because other people are depending on me. The playwright needs to be finished with their work way before anyone else in the production team can even start their work. And it’s disrespectful and insulting to hand off garbage to a team of highly qualified artists whose work I respect very much and expect them to do their job over a very short period of time. It’s downright shameful. So I am taking steps to counteract that and my previous bad habits and unwanted behavior. I have forced myself to work on writing this play for at least 30 minutes and I have made some good progress. There is still much to be done and I know I am in for much more concentrated focus and improving my self-discipline.

So, thanks for reading all of this, I guess. Honestly I wrote it more for myself than anyone else, as with basically all of these blog posts. But perhaps you can find a grain of inspiration or motivation from my experiences to drive you to do the thing that you know you have to do but you really don’t want to do because you’d much rather watch YouTube for 6 hours instead. Yeah, that was definitely me. But you can do it. I can do it. We can do it. Putting ourselves through the work and the hard task of focusing and the harder task of starting will be worth it, if it means we inch just a bit closer towards the people we want to become.

fail!

Ayo sis. It’s been a month since I last posted on this blog. I own up to my mistake! I also own up to the fact that I have been swamped with work these past few weeks. Posting on this blog just isn’t a priority so I neglected doing it.

I could only find written records of two new year’s resolutions for 2018 from myself to myself. 1) Write a blog post every week and 2) make 3 YouTube videos related to theatremaking. I am 0% complete on the latter. As for writing a blog post every week, I will make up the ones I missed! I promise!

Although it really doesn’t matter because I know for a fact that no one reads this blog. Oh well, I would like to keep updating it anyway because my life is so unironically interesting. 🤷🏻‍♀️

so many things!

Hi! So tonight I’m pretty overwhelmed because I have about 5 million things I have to do and think about and I honestly just want to get this post over with so I can focus on those things. So here’s a roundup of some random things that I did this week:

  • watched my old ballet company’s performance of Sleeping Beauty!
  • practiced an audition song with my wonderful wonderful amazing friend Emily 🙂 I’m 85% sure I’m doing “Maybe This Time” but I might do something from Aida if I can’t get into the phrasing of “Maybe This Time” well enough. We’ll see!
  • Picked up my flute again because I’m going to an audition where they asked us to play something if we play an instrument
  • performed in an important dance piece! it was an experience. and my dance teachers gave such nice feedback afterwards!
  • laughed and giggled too much with Anna 🙂
  • had great talks with some of my dance teachers
  • ate avocado sushi that my mom made and brought to campus for me!
  • went to my first tap class! in converse lol
  • went to a new play workshop showcase!! saw an awesome 10-minute play about an adopted straight-A’s Asian girl who meets her drag queen math teacher in an NYC subway station. It was everything.

I’m pretty sure there’s more, but I’m going to end the recap there because It’s getting late and I have things to do. More to come next week! Thanks for reading!

4 Quotes

“Obsessed by a fairy tale, we spend our lives searching for a magic door and a lost kingdom of peace.” Eugene O’Neill

“Bitch, please. You are fabulous. Go for it.” Rupaul

“I believe in Humanity, which means to say I believe in human reason. If it weren’t for that belief each morning I wouldn’t have the power to get out of bed.” Bertolt Brecht

“I want to dance, to draw, to play the piano, to write verses, I want to love everybody. that is the object of my life.” Vaslav Nijinsky