business culture & community

Creatively Charged in the Year of the Horse?

by Bridget — February 1, 2014


Happy Chinese New Year! The year of the horse has arrived, making it the perfect time to race ahead and accomplish those dreams you never thought possible. This fiery sign encourages a year of action, adventure, and surprising romances. Events move quickly in a horse year so be clear about your decisions then gallop, full steam ahead!

The ladies at Empress Tea have decided it’s a fine time to expand ourselves creatively. As such, we’ve made some wonderful resolutions that we intend to follow through on in the next few months. These personal aspirations, from confronting our fears to stretching our limitations, are our road maps to push past internal barriers and conquer our potential. We feel a little vulnerable sharing these with you and hope it will enrich the content of the blog as well as ourselves.

As we celebrate at this auspicious time, take a moment to reflect on how you can utilize the energy of the horse to spur your desires into action. It is a year to challenge and inspire yourself, trusting that anything is possible…

The wind of heaven is that which blows between a horse’s ears.  ~Arabian Proverb

Break Away

Amber-&-Baby-Reid-Visual As you can tell, from my posts so far, I lean heavily on words to express myself. Whether it be fiction or non fiction, when the mood strikes and I have something to say, I’ll do my best to let it flow over the keyboard or onto paper.

I am terrified to use any other medium to give life to what’s in my head. I feel like there is no connection  or understanding for me to speak with a paint brush, scissors and glue, or whatever other options are out there in the world.

I want to use this opportunity to get over that fear. It may cause me frustration and the Empress Tea audience a bit of a laugh, but that’s what the New Year is for, right? New beginnings? I have no plans to be brilliant, but I will be proud of myself for conquering, well… myself, in a public setting, which is not exactly a new beginning, as I’ve done it before, but I usually don’t do it intentionally.

My theme and medium…. I’m not sure yet. Today [Jan. 22, 2013], I gave birth to a baby boy and am fascinated with the primal last moments as we transferred him from the safety of my womb to the expansive universe he is now a part of.

I’m worried I’ll forget how my body seemed to open up and float away in such a violent miracle. The memory of my daughter’s birth two years ago has already dissolved, so I imagine there is an expiration date on this idea.

But if I’m able to hold on to that memory, that feeling of terror and desperation, I’d like to find a way to express that visually.

Perhaps I should write it down first…  

Amber Henry

 Just Do It!

Cheney Write Every Day

Cheney Brew
CANBERRA, Australia

Bake It ‘Til You Make It

Sara Open a Bakery

Sara Patterson

If the world was truly a rational place, men would ride sidesaddle.     ~Rita Mae Brown

An Internal Bonfire Roars to Life

The Hans Christian Andersen’s story The Little Match Girl is well-known to all. But as retold and interpreted by psychoanalyst and cantadora Clarissa Pinkola Estés, the same story isn’t simply a tragic one-liner about a poor little girl who lights match after match on a winter night to stay warm, sees beautiful visions and ends up dying a frozen death. Beyond a girl’s dreams, this is also a tale about someone who unwittingly gives up her power, her light, by not doing something else with the matchsticks she had. The little girl stays in the sorrowful, hapless imagery and, as a consequence, disappears.

This illustration was inspired by that interpretation. I am hereby issuing myself the challenge to take my matches and light a big roaring internal bonfire—and maybe even a couple of external ones!

Wendy Matches

Wendy Gin
OAKLAND, United States

Environmental Aspirations

Vania Decorate

Vania Sofiandi
JAKARTA, Indonesia

He’s of the colour of the nutmeg.  And of the heat of the ginger…. he is pure air and fire; and the dull elements of earth and water never appear in him, but only in patient stillness while his rider mounts him; he is indeed a horse, and all other jades you may call beasts.
~William Shakespeare, Henry V

A Voice Like No Other

So, I must challenge myself creatively. I have to admit, this is something I try to do often, but there are some things I have wanted to do, but shied away from. My ultimate challenge involves three of the arts (I was going to write “three favourites”, but when it comes to the arts, they are all my favourites), writing, singing, and dancing. These are things I don’t generally share with the public.

Yes, I write blogs, but they can be as long or as short as time and creativity allows at the time. Let’s put it this way, I have written many stories, but they all remain unfinished. I am getting better, I have a short story that I started writing about four years ago that I keep going back to. I expect I’ll finish it in about twenty to thirty years. As for singing and dancing, they are generally reserved for the shower and the basement…something about self-consciousness. My Mother is Mine

Alright, back to the challenge. I do sing to my kids, frequently, sometimes too much if you ask Dominik. Even their night time stories get turned into songs. I get requests, “Stop singing it like that! Sing it in rock!” So, Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” goes a little metal. My favourite book is “My Mother Is Mine” by Marion Dane Bauer, and is best sung.

So, this is what I want to do. I want to write a rhyming story to sing to my children about my love for them. I will post the words and force myself to record myself singing it. I would like to illustrate it, but time and a lack of talent may not allow for it.

My only dilemma is, do I write in the same form as Marion Dane Bauer,

My children will cry,
My children will laugh,
My children will do things that make me say “Oh my!”

or to I find my own form?

There is no-one I love more.
With you, life is never a bore.


Klarissa Fear-Firman
LONDON, Canada

That’s A Lot of WordsJoAnna Write Like a MoFo

JoAnna Pollonais
NEW YORK, United States

Creative Interviews


I just wanted to add a few little anecdotes in here because it’s the year of the horse and I’ve always had a passion for horses. If you scroll back to the top of this post, the very first photo is of a horse that I painted all of 22 years ago. That seems insane to me when I think about it – how is that length of time even possible? I actually remember painting that horse while I was sitting in the family room without a care in the world. That was back in the day when I never once worried about wasting time or fretting if there was something more useful I should be doing. My mother has the horse painting lovingly displayed on her dining room wall because, as luck would have it, it matches the rural peach décor quite well.

I’ve come so far since 1992 and I am now living on the other side of the frickin’ world! I doubt my past self could have guessed my fate even with 20 tries. Coincidentally in the year of the horse, I’ve actually decided to team up with a friend of mine and start riding horses again. It will probably be pricy and I’ll roast outdoors as Hong Kong is boiling hot most of the time and space comes at a premium, but I will get to do something that makes me feel amazingly free and inspired. Nature always puts things in perspective for me, without access to it I would never be able to relax and I’m positive my soul would slowly whither and die.

In the next few months I’d like to focus on making connections, within my own mind and with other people. The challenge I’ve fashioned for myself is to interview a couple of prominent creatives in Hong Kong and share them with all of you. It’s been on my brain for a while and since this is a year for action and getting things done I thought “Excellent! Time to kick myself in the butt and just do it already.” Neigh!

Bridget Steis

A horse is the projection of peoples’ dreams about themselves – strong, powerful, beautiful – and it has the capability of giving us escape from our mundane existence.  ~Pam Brown

What are your plans for challenging & inspiring yourself creatively in the year of the horse?

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