Category: Journal Art

Comrade Napoleon

Today’s journal entry is about my thoughts on the book Animal Farm by George Orwell. How a story filled with barnyard animals can be so terrifying and poignant is very fascinating. The character of Napoleon the Berkshire boar is particularly interesting for me. I’ll probably write a longer journal entry about the book and the many themes that it touches on. George Orwell’s story and the way that he wrote it is haunting. Especially these days. I read some of his works before but they never resonated with me as much as they do now.

The world will always need to contend with Comrade Napoleons, I suppose.

Eskimo Mouse Trading

 

Farmer Mouse is a hard worker. ^_^

In Peter Jenkins’ book, Looking for Alaska, I read about two Eskimos that he met at Deering–Millie and Gladys Iyatunguk, who practice what they call “Mouse Trading”.

Every early September, they look through the fields where little field mice have been gathering mussu root and storing them in little underground food caches so that they can have food for the winter. Gladys and Millie would look for slight disturbances on the ground and they would very carefully open it up and take out the cache of mussu root. Some mice would clean up the roots of little strands of hair before stacking them neatly in a pile. Some would just stuff them every which way. Mice aren’t all the same, just like people. Then, instead of just taking the mussu root that the mice have gathered for themselves, Gladys and Millie would replace the cache with potatoes, carrots, and celery, then carefully cover back the food cache so the mice would have something to eat for the winter. They trade instead of just take.

How awesome is that?

This kind of kindness shown towards little creatures show how beautiful their connection is to the world around them. I only hope to be more mindful in my ways as well. What a gem it is to meet such people.

Salmon Run

I am currently reading Peter Jenkins’ book, Looking for Alaska. It’s such a fascinating book, and I read it sparingly, in between other books. Sort of like a palate cleanser. I feel strangely refreshed while reading it, and I feel an urge to go out and look up at the sky, feel the breeze on my skin. I love a lot of what I read so far, but my favorite is how he described fishing on a salmon run. I think it’s fascinating how salmon venture out in to the ocean from freshwater, and then they somehow find their way back to the freshwater rivers where they were born. Until now, Ichthyologists still don’t know why salmon do this and how. Unlike salmon raised in fish pens, wild salmon fight their way upstream, back to where they came from. The harder the climb, the more oil their body produces. It’s all very fascinating.

“All these humans with their nets and fast, sleek boats, putting themselves up against what the misinformed think are dumb, small-brained fish. Yet these salmon are able to make their way down from the cold creeks in which they hatched to places of mystery hundreds and hundreds of miles away in the Pacific Ocean, then orient their way back again. A human can’t get from one airport to another in the protective metal skin of a plane without sophisticated electronic navigational devices, often assisted by multimillion-dollar satellites. How do these salmon do it?” ~Peter Jenkins

Materials used:
Parker 75 inked with Troublemaker Inks’ Bantayan Turquoise, Pilot Custom Heritage 92 inked with J. Herbin Lie De The. Tomoe River paper.

Minik

Last week, I was immersed in reading this book about Minik, the New York Eskimo. It was such a sad story, and I’m glad that anthropology (which was at its infancy at that time) has evolved since then, and new laws in the US took effect since the 1990’s. This means that museums need to return skeletal remains on display or in their collection if they are asked for it, and that exhibits shouldn’t contain skeletal remains or religious artifacts anymore. Before all that, though, was Minik and the other five Inuits brought to New York by Robert Peary at the suggestion of the American Museum of Natural History.

A Series of Unfortunate Events

“At times the world may seem an unfriendly and sinister place, but believe that there is much more good in it than bad. All you have to do is look hard enough. and what might seem to be a series of unfortunate events may in fact be the first steps of a journey.”
Lemony Snicket

I’ve only recently started watching season 2 of the Netflix show “A Series of Unfortunate Events”. I read the books again and, yes, they’re still my favorite children’s books. I think the stories are quite profound and the author managed to make the book readable for people of all ages. Like Hope for the Flowers, it has hidden layers you would appreciate and uncover at different points of your life.

I think the book is an ode to childhood in that it highlights how children can be quite wise in their simple, pure way, and that adults can be pretty foolish. My favorite book in the series (and also in the Netflix series) is The Ersatz Elevator. It shows how misplaced the priority of adults can sometimes be, and how the need to measure up and be perceived as successful through whatever changing standards are of a very fickle society can be very oppressive. It highlights the propensity of adults to miss the point of living, and of being blinded and impressed by all the wrong things.

The books also approaches the very sensitive subject of bereavement, of being orphaned, in a very interesting way. I  believe that the message resonates not just with actual orphans but also with children who are lonely. Those who feel alienated, who feel like they are not accepted by others, like they don’t fit in. Those who see the world as cold and friendless. It’s a series of books that approaches the topic in an honest and intelligent way. Not everybody will like you, or listen to you, or understand you and be compassionate towards you, but if you’re brave enough to continue to venture out, you can discover that the world does contain good people too.

The Baudelaires do have advocates, they just take a long time to come around. Count Olaf (brilliantly portrayed by Neil Patrick Harris in the series) is such a formidable foe. He inspires fear and frustration because he’s resourceful, devious, (somewhat) charming in his own repulsive way, and he has a posse blindly devoted to him. He’s even more formidable because he’s aided by the indifference and incompetence of adults around the orphans.

I also love how the book encourages readers to continue reading books. I love how new words are taught and how readers are encouraged to expand their vocabulary. I love that the writer highlights how informed, educated, curious people stand out from the crowd of followers. They are tolerant, kind, and they have open, beautiful minds. They are the kindred spirits of the Baudelaires, and they are not easily fooled or influenced by Count Olaf.

If you haven’t read the books yet, I highly recommend them.

Horrors

I’ve had a lot of time to read lately because I’ve been sick with the flu and I’m forced to stay in bed. I’ve been reading a lot about the Holocaust, hence this journal entry I wrote today. It’s about how important it is for us to learn the hard lessons of history so that we don’t repeat them.

Honestly, the books I read give me nightmares about that dark chapter in history, but I think it’s important to not be desensitized about it. It’s important to educate ourselves about what led to atrocities of such scale and to gain some wisdom about it. I believe now more than ever that those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.

The Last Five Books I Read

Today’s journal entry is about the last five books I read (plus a “currently reading” section). I wrote short summaries of what I found memorable about the books, what I liked and didn’t like. Feel free to use the journal prompt if you want. 🙂

MATERIALS USED:
Paper: Tomoe River insert
Pen: Parker Vacumatic Golden Brown, Pilot Custom Heritage 92
Inks: Montblanc Toffee Brown, Pilot Iroshizuku Shin-Ryoku

Write Until You Meet Yourself

P3222359

I was very young when I started writing in journals. My mother, being an introvert herself, bought me my first diary, and I took to it quite naturally. I was extremely uncommunicative with people, very rarely raising my voice to talk or make conversation, but I was expressive in my writings. On paper, my thoughts were easy to pour out.

Much of writing is unpacking ourselves from the tightly-wound package of public perception and social pressures. The deliberate act of putting words on paper requires a certain measure of introspection and openness.

Perhaps more importantly, when I write, I am brave. I open doors that I never opened before. I confront my ignorance and willingly accept self-correction. I ask myself those very difficult questions, and I am able to write down and face the answers, painstakingly thought out and laid down, letter by letter. I write honestly, without trying to cover anything up, without trying to make me look better. Without judgment.

In writing, I meet a version of myself. One that’s inaccessible outside the pages of my journals. Through the years, it has  been my safe space, helping me understand and love the person I meet through introspection and quiet meditation.

“Whether you’re keeping a journal or writing as a meditation, it’s the same thing. What’s important is you’re having a relationship with your mind.” – Natalie Goldberg

A Peek in My Health Journal

I opened the year 2018 with a new commitment to myself. My husband and I will turn 40 in a few years, and that has brought about a lot of realizations in my life. Our health is just one of those. He has Type 2 Diabetes, I’m pre-diabetic myself. I decided it’s time for a paradigm change and it may sound like a cliche, but there’s something great about starting a new lifestyle on a new year. It feels like you have momentum behind you. Before the new year, though, I did start a health journal. I ate what I usually ate, drank what I usually drank, and wrote them down.

20180212_155021

A few weeks of doing this gave me an insight on the state of my eating habits. I didn’t eat a lot of rice and ulam, but I loved my sweet treats and I enjoyed them at all hours of the day. Writing it down gave me valuable insight on what I put inside my body and what I placate my hunger with. I think gaining this insight before I plunged into a drastic lifestyle change was particularly good for me. It felt a lot like reasoning with myself.

20180212_155021

I planned our week’s meal, made a simple grocery list, and planned out what things I wanted to track. I decided on a few things; exercise, caffeine intake, food, and overall mood/feelings for the day. Again, a few weeks into recording these things gave me more insight on how I was faring. The first week that we started on a low-carb, high-fiber, high-protein diet, I was expecting to go through a difficult withdrawal, but that didn’t happen.

Instead, I felt clear-headed. All these years I got so used to living with frequent headaches that I think my body just accepted it as normal. Like white noise in the background that I eventually learned to live with. Several times a week, I would struggle with worse headaches, and that’s when I would pop painkillers. The first week that we changed our diet, I felt like I had more energy, I felt that I could do more things within a day and that I don’t burn out after giving the best of myself to my work. I felt like there’s more of me to give. I was also snacking less. I felt more satiated and less hungry. This didn’t mean I didn’t enjoy food anymore, I still did. Just a different kind of food, and still in healthy, generous portions.

20180212_155103

I documented my daily challenges and enjoyment about a more involved process of planning and preparing food for myself and my husband. It wasn’t easy, but it also wasn’t unpleasantly difficult. We tried a few things that worked and a few that didn’t work, and we learned from them.

20180212_155052

In my health journal, I also documented food or drink-related things that I found interesting. I enjoyed that most.

20180212_155133

At this point, I think I can say that I have a more natural feel for what my body needs and what we want to eat for the week. I am aware that I will not need to monitor my food intake anymore. I know that a lot of people monitor their diet by writing down what they ate, and I’m sure it works for them, but I have a very different approach to it. I like to monitor for a while to gain insight, then wean myself out of it so that it doesn’t become all about the stats anymore. My health journal will still be about my health, the food and drinks I find interesting, but it will be less about policing my food intake than enjoying the new kinds of food that I like to eat. Sort of like removing my training wheels.

So there, that’s a little peek in my health journal. I would encourage anybody who wants to change their eating habits to start one. This format or any other format that helps you make sense of your diet is going to be helpful.

Here’s to a happy, healthy 2018 for all of us.