I'm in a Reflecting Mood - Part 1

Edges and Reach Arounds-A, 2023, mixed media on canvas, 52 x 42"


Today is my birthday. Have I mentioned my birthday and its placement in the year is something I struggle with? Why does it bug me so much! Anyway, I've been meaning to send out a Mind Vacation but I've found it hard to find the internal space to write it … but finally, I pulled myself together and here I am. Over the past few years, I've had the privilege of working closely with someone who greatly assisted me in various work tasks, including crafting newsletters and Mind Vacation content. She even came up with the name (it's a good one). Her invaluable help was truly transformative. When we were in sync, the synergy struck me. However, when we weren't, it presented its challenges. I'm no longer collaborating with her, and it's during moments like these, when I'm eager to write, that I miss her the most. The exchange of ideas, and discussions about my work and business – it was thrilling, and having done it weekly for years, I now feel a void in its absence. But here I am, writing on my own, which I'm perfectly capable of, albeit perhaps with a few more dot dot dots ...

As we approach the year's end, I find myself in a reflective mood. I'm contemplating what worked, what didn't, what I'm letting go of, and where I'm headed in 2024. To kick things off, here are three key aspects that have been circling in my thoughts, each holding significance as I move forward.

#1 - Bushwhacking

It feels like the Universe is taking a (metaphorical) machete and cutting back what is in the way … like clearing a path, clearing the way. Picture this: I'm traversing a humid jungle, accompanied by a guide relentlessly slashing through big green foliage and tangled branches. The lushness is overwhelming which makes it hard to see what is ahead, but the more we cut, the path begins to emerge. While initially I feel like WTF is going on, I am feeling kind of grateful and open to it. I am choosing to embrace it even though it is hard and, to be honest, lonely. What is clearing away are outdated work relationships, tired self-perceptions, and weary contemplations and stories about Jenny Pennywood versus Jen Garrido.

Speaking of my birthday, I'm deep into middle age and the actual number feels weighty. I can't help but feel that I have just arrived and am ready to show up for my life which seems a bit strange since I have been living for a while now. Since my early 20's, I've grappled with things and feelings that drained me, stole my joy, distracted me, and took me out of balance. Where I am now, it feels like a relief to understand that it doesn’t have to be that way. I am capable of so much more and I'm here now, and that's what matters.

#2 - Never turn your back on Jenny Pennywood

A sticky note on my desk reads, "Never turn your back on Jenny Pennywood," I can't recall the exact trigger for this reminder. Over the past six months, I've conducted many studio visits where I found myself discussing Jen Garrido's paintings, yet I'd always preface it with a mention of Jenny Pennywood. From there, I'd delve into discussions about pattern, colors, shape, joy, all the things that I am contemplating in my studio. What has struck me is the profound realization that I cannot separate Jen Garrido from Jenny Pennywood; they complement and coexist with each other. Jenny Pennywood's expansive, "all over and endless" style influences how I compose my paintings, stacked with shapes in the middle of the canvas, while Jen Garrido enjoys the freedom not to think in such terms. It's all pure balance, and I've come to realize that I am not in conflict with these 2 parts of me; they walk hand in hand. One can not exist without the other. Expect more insights on this revelation in 2024.

#3 - Balls in the Air

On my never-ending lists of tasks and responsibilities, there's a special category I've dubbed "Balls in the Air." It's where I list everything that's in motion, whether it's related to projects I'm eager to undertake, changes awaiting implementation on my website, the management of ongoing and new productions, or the individuals I need to reach out to. It's essentially a swirling whirlwind of ideas within my mind.

One particular item in this category is our newsletter – Mind Vacation. It's going through another transformation. Initially, it started as a regular newsletter, but I later moved it to my website to enable comments. Unfortunately, the interface proved to be quite clunky, hindering the flow and my ability to work with it (I just don’t have time to wrestle with it!). I've been contemplating Substack, but that feels like an entirely different endeavor – one I might tackle someday. For now, we're migrating it to Squarespace, where it will have its dedicated URL and a more user-friendly platform complete with comments. It's all part of the ongoing process.

Another noteworthy point about Mind Vacation is my continued affection for it. In 2023, I can wholeheartedly say that I discovered just how much I love it. I aspire to write more, and that remains my goal for the future. Back in grad school, I ventured into a graduate-level Lyrical Poetry Class, despite my initial cluelessness. Now, I recognize that it adds a new, profound dimension to my work and myself, something I genuinely appreciate.

Part 2 of the reflections hopefully coming before the end of the year and also in a new format!

Have a happy holiday that hopefully includes no drama and if there is drama, I wish you all the strength to move through it with ease.




  • Kelly Kao says...

    Thank you for these musings! I stumbled onto your site for your beautiful textiles (tea towels!) and love your writing. As a fellow mid-lifer (48!) I find it refreshing to hear a voice that is also searching and moving forward all at once! Happy birthday and new year!

  • mj says...

    happy (belated winter solstice) birthday. i enjoy the space you create so much, thank you for sharing it!

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