Gong Xi Fa Cai! Happy Lunar New Year! I wanted to celebrate by sharing 12 Asian voices and stories to listen to, watch, and follow.
As a child of parents who immigrated from Taiwan, these stories–especially the ones of growing up first generation in America–really resonated with me. I could see bits of my own experiences in them and they made me feel like I was not alone in going through them.
I hope you’ll check them out this weekend and continue to seek out and listen to voices from Asian filmmakers, creators, leaders, and advocates year round. Best wishes for a happy, joyous, and prosperous Year of the Ox and enjoy :)
PS: While 13 is an unlucky number in the western culture, not so much in the Chinese culture! It’s considered a lucky number because the character for 3 (三) sounds similar to the one that’s used for birth (生) and therefore has connotations of life and growth.
Larry speaks English. His dad speaks Chinese. They grew up in the same house but Larry could never speak to his dad. After 20 years, with the help of filmmaker Bianca Giaever, he and his dad have their first conversation. This story began as part a collaboration called Videos 4 U, where Bianca helps people with a confession they wanted to tell someone else but they didn’t know how to say it.
My eyes welled up with tears listening this story! I think a lot of us can relate to not being able to say what we want to say to a parent or loved one, whether there is a language barrier or not.
In this funny, uplifting tale based on an actual lie, Chinese-born, U.S.-raised Billi (Awkwafina) reluctantly returns to Changchun to find that, although the whole family knows their beloved matriarch, Nai-Nai, has been given mere weeks to live, everyone has decided not to tell Nai Nai herself.
Awkwafina is the perfect Billi–she made me laugh and cry. It’s a heartfelt film and you must watch until the very end to see how everything turns out.
If you know me at all, you know that I am a HUGE fan of the To All The Boys movies with the final one coming out Friday, 2/12 on Netflix! The films are based on the young adult novels by author, Jenny Han. I actually hadn’t heard of the books but the reason I stopped to watch the movie was because the movie poster had Lana Condor, an Asian lead, front and center and I was curious what it was!
It wasn’t until TATBILB that I really thought about how representation makes a difference–I wish this movie came out when I was growing up!
One of my most favorite parts is a reference to a Korean word and I am so excited they will be traveling to South Korea in the third movie (I won’t say anymore–no spoilers!) I highly recommend for the sweet, feel good vibes, all the different types of love and relationships (from sisters to crushes) the film touches on, and Lana’s AMAZING acting–nobody could have been a more perfect Lara Jean!
The deeply powerful and personal film is based loosely on Alan’s experiences as the child of immigrants, as well as what his father went through, coming to the Bronx from Taiwan to find opportunities.
I knew I had to watch this when I saw the trailer and I heard them speaking in Taiwanese! This was definitely a tear-jerker for me–I cried so hard watching I couldn’t breathe! There’s so much heartbreak and sacrifice but also love and hope. It hit close to home as my parents also immigrated to America from Taiwan and I could really relate to the daughter in the film. I feel like this movie tells the stories most of us don’t know about our parents–their lives before us and the people and memories they leave behind. You can watch this film on Netflix.
A coming-of-age comedy-drama exploring friendship, love, and sexuality, as well as the hardships of a Chinese family’s integration in the U. S.When smart but cash-strapped teen Ellie Chu agrees to write a love letter for a jock, she doesn’t expect to become his friend–or fall for his crush.
When I first saw the trailer, I thought this was another typical high school rom-com but it was much more than that! One of my favorite quotes is from this film: “Is this really the boldest stroke you can make?” You can watch this film on Netflix.
Directed by Joseph Chen-Chieh Hsu Written by Joseph Chen-Chieh Hsu and Maya Huang
A family grapples with the passing of their estranged father and the remnants of the life he led during his absence.
I haven’t seen this yet but it’s on my to watch list! The trailer started playing when I logged onto Netflix the other day–the Taiwanese being spoken caught my attention! I am really looking forward to checking this one out!
I recently found Amanda on Instagram and wish I had been following her sooner–she is incredibly inspiring! Here is her bio from Rise:
Amanda is the CEO and founder of Rise. She penned her own civil rights into existence and unanimously passed the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights, after having to navigate the broken criminal justice system after her own rape. The federal law was the 21st bill in modern US history to pass unanimously on the record and served as a model for 15 other laws protecting sexual violence survivors throughout the nation. Amanda has been named a Forbes 30 Under 30, by Foreign Policy as a Top 100 Leading Global Thinker, Marie Claire as a Young Woman of the Year, and The Tempest’s #1 Woman of Color Trailblazer. Previously, Amanda was appointed by President Barack Obama to the United States Department of State as his Deputy White House Liaison. In 2018, Amanda was nominated for the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize.
Racism against Asians has always existed but the recent rise throughout the pandemic–especially against the elderly–has been especially heartbreaking, scary, and infuriating. I came across AngryAsianFeminist’s posts and they have put into words how I have been feeling, better than I could have. If you haven’t heard of what’s been going on, follow this account, read the posts, and/or do a Google search.
Red Hony Yi is another artist I recently discovered and I am in awe of her creativity (she uses things like chopsticks, items from her pantry, flowers and other non-traditional materials to “paint”) and inspired by her activism. Here is her bio from her website:
Red Hong Yi is a Chinese-Malaysian contemporary artist who makes work expressing her heritage and Chinese diasporic consciousness. Known as “the artist who paints without a paintbrush”, she creates mixed media installations by reinterpreting everyday materials through the accumulation of objects. By combining traditional craftsmanship and digital technology, she creates work that consider perceptual habits and preconceptions on the chosen objects and subjects, expressing the themes of women and race.
This is such a precious Instagram account that always makes me smile! It features grandparents, Chang Wan-ji and Hsu Sho-er, both in their 80s, modeling forgotten clothes left at the laundry shop they own in Taichung, Taiwan. Their grandson created the account as a fun thing for them to do during the pandemic. Their style is on point and they are adorable! There have been many articles written about them as well, here is a profile from The New York Times.
Joanne creates beautiful food and shares them alongside stories she narrates that are just as beautiful–full of honesty and vulnerability , watching every single post, salivating and crying, and wanting to hear more from her! Please head over to her IG now to experience it for yourself. She talks about everything from growing up Korean American, relationships, fear, food, and everything in between. Then when you’re done going through her posts, check out her website for plant-based recipes–I am excited to start trying them!
This account is from the book, Chinatown Pretty, and celebrates the street style of seniors living in Chinatown. I don’t know what it is with seniors and fashion but I am a big fan! Chinatown Pretty features seniors from Chinatowns in San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, and Vancouver. You can learn more about the book and project on their website.
Happy Day 10 of The 100 Day Project (here’s a video montage of the days 1-10)! That actually went by much faster than I had anticipated–maybe it’s because every day I wake up and am excited to work on my project!
My current routine is to read that day’s entry from The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo as well as a page from Self-Meditation: 3,299 Tips, Quotes, Reminders, and Wake-Up Calls for Peace and Serenity Paperback, usually while I eat breakfast. When I finish, I pick a place to sit, set my timer for 5 minutes, and begin my meditation. When it’s time to open my eyes, I head over to my canvas to add another stroke. I love starting each day like this and I honestly don’t ever want this project to end!
Exploring different techniques, adding shapes. and creating texture has been so interesting and freeing–it’s not easy for me to not know how a project will turn out so this has been a great exercise in embracing the unknown, being in the present, and letting go!
It’s funny because single prediction I’ve had has turned out completely different! For example, that paint splatter above? I thought it’d look more like dot splatters!
I’m starting to find it easier and easier to just go for it! Although I do have a little safety net in knowing that a lot of layering will be happening so if something is REALLY bothering me, there is a high likelihood of it being covered up later ;)
Here’s what I did on day 4-10–I was even able to get a little help from Valentine!
Day 4 | I’ve been mixing a few dots of black paint into the same container of white to create new shades of grey. Today I used a paint brush and went with a curved shape.
Day 5 | Went with a bold stroke by scraping black paint down the canvas
Day 6 | Added a splatter–this was really fun!
Day 7 | It was Valentine’s 14th birthday and 11th adoption anniversary! I really wanted her to make a mark on this canvas too so I added some paint, covered it with paper, had Val step on it, and peeled the paper off.
Day 8 | I covered my eyes, turned the canvas a few times, and used my non-dominant hand to paint a stroke
Day 9 | Added a layer of white by scraping the paint.
Day 10 | I had recently found and used a can of chalk board paint for a another project–then I decided to use it on my canvas too! I forgot to check to see where the nozzle was aiming so it ended up in a different place than I thought but that’s the beauty of all of this!
I cannot wait to see how the next 10 days will add and change to this canvas–I’ll be sharing another update then! I also think I am ready to tack on another minute to my meditation!
This project has been SO much so far and I wanted to share a few pics from the first 3 days. I’ve been posting photos and videos every day over on my Instagram for my tiny home, @oliviajlin_. (Since this art is for that space and it isn’t lettering, I decided to post there.)
A quick recap: my 100 Day Project for 2021 is 100 days of meditating for 5 minutes followed by painting 1 stroke onto this canvas. If you’d like to learn more about what The 100 Day Project is, head over here.
Maybe it’s because I’m still in the honeymoon phase but I totally look forward to both the meditating and painting everyday! So far, the 5 minutes have gone by very fast–I’m considering adding a few more minutes each 1/4 of the way…but we’ll see. And adding each paint stroke is really fast too! But the fact that it doesn’t take too much time is what I think will help me reach the finish line (read more about that in this post)!
The 100 Day Project is starting early this year but I am ready to take it on for the second time! If you’re not familiar, here’s a little more about this global art project and what my plans are for my 2021 project!
WHAT IS THE 100 DAY PROJECT?
The premise for the 100 Day Project is very simple: pick a creative project, do it every day for 100 days, and share your process online. It’s a huge project that thousands of people participate in–it’s incredibly inspiring and motivating to be a part of this community and see what everyone is up to.
There are no rules as to what your project is–that is entirely up to you! They range from daily sketches to photography to mini essays to sewing scrap fabrics and so much more! If you need ideas, browse through the #the100dayproject hashtag on Instagram.
WHEN DOES IT BEGIN?
This year, the project will beginJanuary 31st. There is no set start date, each year has been different. This is the first time it’s taking place so early in the year though–it usually starts in the spring!
MY 2021 PROJECT: MEDITATE + PAINT FOR 100 DAYS
My project this year is to spend 5 minutes meditating each day followed by painting 1 stroke onto a canvas.
By the end of 100 days, I hope to have cultivated a meditation practice and have a completed work of art created with 100 strokes/splatters/smears!
This project was inspired by a few things: a meditation paint box that I had not opened since last April, wanting to explore an art form other than lettering, wanting to create a piece of art for my tiny home, and facing my fear of not knowing how a creative project will turn out–but doing it anyway! My goal is to find joy in the process and in the moment–see how I am feeling each day and make a mark on my blank canvas.
For now, I’m keeping my paint colors to just white and black and all the greys the two will make. Other than that, there are no other rules–I am so excited to dabble in painting and try different techniques (especially smearing paint like @Mogleameg and @CourtSeniorArt)!
I have failed and succeeded at completing a project (I did 100 Days of Alphabet Connections last year) and my big takeaway is to make the daily task 15 min or less and very focused!
I found that if I knew exactly what I needed to do and it could be completed in a short amount of time, I was setting myself up for success. On the flip side, if I had to take a lot of time to think or plan each day prior to the task, it slows down the whole process and I lose motivation and inspiration!
It was also helpful and fun to be able tovisually see the progress–I used a bulletin board to pin up each day’s work and seeing it fill up made me want to keep going until the entire board was complete! If you can do something similar for your project, I highly suggest it!
And posting daily on Instagram also helped to keep me accountable.
I invite you to join me and embark on a 100 Day Project of your own! If you like what I am doing and would like to do the same, feel free! If you don’t have a canvas or paint, the same thing can be done with a piece of paper and pencils/pens/markers/watercolor you have at home. Take a look around at what you have that can be utilized! You can also order supplies from a local craft store too.
If you create a project and plan on sharing it on Instagram, it’s nice to make a hashtag for it so you can have all your project posts in one place. I would love to follow along so let me know what your project is and hashtag if you have one!
I love the start of a fresh new year and all the possibilities that come with it! It feels like a much needed reset and a great time to put your intentions out into the world. I’ve been picking a word at the start of January for the past few years–it helps me set the tone, describes what I am feeling, and keeps me focused! With that said, I choose it while giving myself permission to be flexible with it if that’s what I need during a particular space and time.
I chose “fearless” because there are a lot of things in this world I am fearful and concerned about right now—but there are also things that I have the power to be courageous about.
Not so much jumping outta planes or bungee jumping 😅—for me it’s being fearless about creative choices, new projects, making mistakes, not being “perfect”, living life on my own terms, asking questions, not knowing what’s next, asking for help, saying yes to the unknown, speaking up, quietly processing, embracing the unpredictable future.
Fearlessness may feel like it needs to be bold or loud, but it can also be quiet, unseen, something that happens on the inside.
It might seem like an odd word to pick for the times we live in but while I have my worries, I know there’s a balance between not living in fear, staying safe, challenging myself, and moving forward.
Do you have a word for 2021?
I hope your year is off to a wonderful start! I hope it brings you much joy, peace, inspiration, and creativity in the days to come!
PS: The first free Mini Better Letters In 15 Challenge is lettering your word of the year 5 different ways! If you’d like to participate, click here to sign up to get the free worksheets and instructions!
Happy 2021! I couldn’t think of a better way to start off my new year than with filling in my 2020 Winter List with activities and things I am excited to do this season! It took me awhile to think of what I wanted to add to it but I am really looking forward to getting some things checked off!
Here’s my list, all filled out, below, along with my summer and autumn list (I was able to check everything off of that one!) You can also find an Instagram reels video sharing a peek of the process by clicking here.
I’ve included a few new habits I wanted to create (starting off very small and attainable and hoping to build up!), some organization projects for the start of the year, creative projects, and some activities for self-care. What is on your bucket list for this season?
If you’re interested in downloading this template and filling your own list out, sign up for my newsletter by clicking here to get instant access to the PDF Library. You’ll be able to find this download–along with many more–in it! I hope you are having a cozy winter so far! :)