HAPPY NEW YEAR! Welcome to another group collaboration on Empress Tea. In the spirit of ringing in the New Year 2013 we have put together an inspired collection of our favourite quotes. Enjoy and best wishes for a fabulous year!
“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou
I often think how much people underestimate the power of charm.
For example, I remember an evening a few years ago. It was the middle of winter and I had been working late and I left work in the dark, got on a crowded bus and took the first available seat. I was not in the best of moods, but I happened to glance over at the person next to me, a man a few years younger, in uniform from the army offices nearby. The first thing he did when I caught his eye, was to smile broadly and say, “G’day”. He didn’t have to acknowledge my presence (not standard bus protocol) but he went out of his way to ask me how my day had been going. We exchanged a few pleasant sentences and then I went on to listen to my music, and he went back to reading a book. Like the Maya Angelou quote that I like so much, I don’t remember what was said between us, but I remember his smile, and feeling immensely cheered up that someone had taken the time to make me feel wanted, just because I happened to sit next to them on a bus.
I want more of those sorts of interactions in the world – for us to remember that how we feel, and in turn how we project that onto others is more important than we might realise. So every year, as with this one, I remember the quote above, one that’s always stuck with me, and remind myself to be a little more charming whenever I can. I think it’s a much more important resolution than it might seem at first.
“I really don’t think you have that kind of time.”
– from Bird by Bird by Anne Lammott
I don’t know about you, but I find the New Year to be such a confusing time of year. It’s a period brimming with hope, though there’s also plenty of apprehension as we seek to find balance between life’s extremes. It’s a time of reflection and embracing new beginnings. It’s about finding ways to overcome the obstacles that bind us and letting go of all the things – mannerisms, people, habits and ideas – that no longer serve us. It’s about welcoming transformation, even in minute amounts, so we can morph into the people we are meant to be. It’s about getting over the small stuff.
It’s about using our time wisely.
“I must challenge myself to go beyond what I have already achieved” – Emi Wada
I was lucky enough to attend a talk given by world famous costume designer Emi Wada in Hong Kong a few years ago (known for her costumes in the films Hero, and House of Flying Daggers to name a few). Some of her work and drawings were on display and I also bought her book My Life in the Making. She is an amazing woman, exceptionally talented and an inspiration for many.
This quote can be found in her book. I’d like to forever keep this in my unconscious so that I don’t get stuck with my wheels spinning without moving forward ever again. I am an artist so it probably will happen again, but hopefully I have gained valuable tools to help me quickly ease out of the ruts which life presents.
I found this image in my journal from the past year and I thought I’d drag it out, dust it off, and actually finish it. So here is my portrait inspired by Gustav Klimt & Emi Wada. This year, may you all be able to wake up from your slumber and unwrap yourself from your fears and self-doubt long enough to achieve something spectacular!
HONG KONG SAR, China
“Where ever you go, there you are.”
My adjustments to living in Addis Ababa over the past seven years have often hinged on those dangerous “if…then” statements that loop in my brain.
“If I had just one grocery store with everything available all the time, then life would be easier and I would be happy[er]”.
“If there was one park to spend an afternoon in, then life would be more fun and we would be happy[er]”.
I’ve realized these are treacherous tapes to have looping because it automatically means I can never be happy right where I am. I feel like I’m not an active participant in my happiness if I’m always waiting for something to fall into place.
I’ve spent the last four months or so in Canada which is the longest stretch on home turf since initially crossing the ocean for a heart of gold. Life IS significantly easier here (i.e., the grocery store with everything is just down the street along with a park to play in). And I’ve definitely appreciated the convenience (15 pounds later!) and enjoyed the grass between my toes. But both in Ethiopia and Canada, I’m still me – a loving, fumbling parent; a loyal, enamored wife; and a dutiful, caring daughter who doesn’t always feel like a grown up.
It’s simple but true and it comforts me to know that where ever I go, there I am.
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia
“Que Sera Sera”– music by Doris Day
I have to admit I was having trouble with this little assignment. Maybe I can’t follow instructions, or fuss whenever I’m told what to do… Or maybe it’s just been a crazy, overwhelming year and I’ve actually been looking everywhere to find inspiration to continue on a continually challenging path. Whatever the case, I dragged my feet for weeks, trying and discarding ideas over and over… until one day I was listening to music and it came to me! Music. Music, as they say, soothes the savage soul. And boy does it ever work for me. As a matter of fact the wrong music (say thumping up from my neighbour’s apartment at 2am) can drive me to absolute madness. But the right music… now that is a miracle, a wonder, and something that can turn my mood from foul to fun, from excruciating to ecstatic. And the right lyrics can help me dig my way out of the muddiest places. With that in mind, I thought I’d share a few of my current favourite inspiring mood boosters. Please feel free to click through the links and enjoy a little inspiration ‘Niffer style. If you’ve got any favourites that you’d like to share, leave them in the comments section! Happy New Year!
Que Sera Sera – Doris Day
A classic lesson in learning that the best laid plans can fall apart, and that’s okay. What will be, will be.
Shake It Out – Florence + the Machine
When things go wrong, when your devils come calling, all you can do is shake it off. Cuz it’s hard to dance with a devil on your back…
And I really like dancing.
Ain’t Got No – Nina Simone
Sometimes you feel like you haven’t made it, success and the perfect life are eluding you. If you ain’t got anything, you’ve still got you.
And that’s a pretty good thing to have.
(also, gotta love a song with the lyric “got my boobies”!)
Try – P!nk
Loving anything or anyone is a scary thing. Sometimes it can hurt you. But the pain won’t kill you…
It just means you’re alive.
Every Teardrop is a Waterfall – Coldplay
Sometimes you just need a good anthem to help you see the upside. Hurt bad? Raise your flag.
Heaven is in sight.
*Editor’s Note: Click the titles to watch the music videos.
For thought is a bird of space, that in a cage of words may indeed unfold its wings but cannot fly.
– Khalil Gibran
Lem von Brünken
When I’m Lonely or in Darkness…
…I compulsively read and reread my favorite advice columns on the web, and my friends receive a lot of unsolicited links on how to deal with problems they don’t have.
But when all is truly lost, I turn to this fragment attributed to the 14th-century Persian poet, Hāfez. I won’t reveal the quote just yet—it appears in the piece below—but I do want to say that its power to lift and heal lies in the crystal-clear image it conjures.
Fifteen lovely women agreed to be featured. I showed up in their home, at their place of work, outside the dance studio, even partway into a food truck, to coax them into letting their guard down for a few moments. My heartfelt thanks to the friends, acquaintances, and complete strangers who let me in. It was a real pleasure.
Here’s to a dazzling 2013.
*Editor’s Note: Wendy’s Quote is revealed at the end of her video
“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you’ll never have enough.” – Oprah Winfrey
There once lived two beautiful little girls.
One had everything she had ever asked for. Her room was piled so high with stuff you could only find the actual little girl by searching for her pigtails.
If you shifted the clutter and found her pale little face you’d be surprised to find her frowning.
Though she was suffocating amongst her possessions her little voice could often be heard saying “I want.”
The second little girl lived in a wide open space. Her face was kissed daily by the sun and she had many hugs from the wind. She always smiled.
Often this little girl could be heard singing to the flowers, “I have.”
When I think of the New Year I do think of “Out with the Old, in with the new” and “A blank slate.” I found a few other inspirational quotes for the New Year and about starting fresh.
“New Year’s Day is every man’s birthday.”
– Charles Lamb
“The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul.”
– G. K. Chesterton
From these I started to think of cracking open a fresh journal and opening it to a blank page on January 1st and I wrote the following poem. I don’t think it should be limited to the page of a book though, but a blank page of ourselves, our souls if you will.
We’d love to hear your favourite quote for the New Year. Any words of inspiration you can offer the rest of us? Post below! Happy New Year!!!!