August 24, 2014

Unto One of the Least

I love this photograph. It is of the Wulfekehueler family and the Doh family taken in 1974. It was taken in the home of Ed, Marilyn, Deb, Dave, and Chris Wulfekehuler, in Bakersfield, California. It is the home where I lived with my mom, dad, and my brothers Jim and Jinil for 2 months as newly arrived immigrants from Seoul, Korea.

This photo was presented to me, Jim, and my parents yesterday by Marilyn (who also goes by Lynn) during a dinner that brought our family members together to celebrate our 40th anniversary in the United States. Ed and Jinil are no longer with us but we felt that they were there in spirit.

This photo shows my dad carving his very first pumpkin ... as our first Halloween was upon us.


We shared so many memories.

  • Like how Jim, Jinil and I were so thrilled to learn of America's tradition of Halloween where we were told that if we dressed up and knocked on doors, that we would be given free candy.
  • Like how on the first night in their home, Marilyn made us a delicious dinner, followed by rainbow sherbert for dessert ... a treat that seemed so different and interesting and pretty to me as a little girl who hadn't ever tasted anything like that!
  • Like how Dave and Deb were the coolest teenagers who we all looked up to, in hopes to become as hip and American as they were.
  • Like how Chris was the littlest of them all ... excited and frustrated at times, with the reality that there were five people from a different country living in his home. His turf! What a sport he was.
  • Like how Ed enchanted all of us with his larger-than-life personality and roars of laughter, as he and Marilyn extended the kind of support to our family that even family with blood ties hardly give to one another. They made us feel loved, they made us feel comfortable, and they never made us feel that we were a burden. They made sure we enrolled in the right schools, they made sure we got the right services including speech therapy for Jim, Jinil, and I, they made sure bullies left us alone, they made sure we got proper medical and dental care, and most of all, they made sure that we felt peace of mind as my brothers and I studied and my parents worked and saved to make our way.

And make our way we did. After scrimping and saving and with the support of my dad's uncle (standing in the middle), our family bought our first Der Wienerschnitzel restaurant. Here we are with Ed, Marilyn, Dave, Chris, and an employee, and also my dad's uncle, commemorating the new life chapter.

Our family eventually owned additional Wiernerschnitzels. My parents worked very hard making them all successful, and supporting my brothers and I thorugh college, graduate school, and beyond, one hot dog at a time.

With every pursuit, with every milestone, the Wulfekuehlers were there to cheer us on, making sure that we knew how proud they were of us, even in our most humble steps of wrapping hot dogs and dropping fries in the fryer.

And 40 years later, we gathered ... all of us together, with Ed and Jinil there in spirit, to catch up, to reminisce, and express our love for one another.

I want to share one memory about Ed that was shared during this weekend gathering: During high school when Ed was getting ready to go to a formal dance, he went to a secondhand store to buy the cheapest and the most unattractive suit possible. When his date asked why he was doing this, he said that he wanted to make sure that the kid who would be coming to the dance with a crummy suit would not be made to feel bad because Ed would be the one with the worst suit of all. He wanted to make sure that the least among them would not feel the least at all.

IMG_5810The love I feel for the Wulfekuehlers is so deep. And it's deep for Jim and my parents as well. I am grateful that we were able to express the feelings of love to one another during this celebration and I hope that we will find occasions in the future to continue expressing the love.

One extremely vivid memory I have as a child is when my mom asked Marilyn how we could ever repay her for the generosity and kindness and love that she gave to our family. I remember distinctly what Marilyn said to her in response. She told her that the way to repay her would be for us to pass along the same kind of love to a person or family in need with the same kind of love that she and her family gave to us. 

Photo 2-3"Whatever you did unto one of the least, you did unto me." Matthew 25:40


August 21, 2014

Quilts for Uganda :: A Call for Donations

This is my amazing friend Tracy Schultz who recently visited Studio Crescendoh to share with me the news about her upcoming trip to an orphanage in Uganda.

Tracy is an ambassador of sunshine. Salt of the earth.

Photo-16Where is Uganda, might you ask?
Here's a little map that shows this small country in East Africa. It is bordered by Kenya, South Sudan, and the republic of the Congo.

Untitled-1In late November, Tracy will be traveling to an orphanage in Uganda with a group called Hopeline Africa Mission. When asked what they could bring to bring to the 50 children in the orphanage, they requested quilts.

Tracy would like to try and bring 50 handmade quilts, one for each child.

If you want to, I hope you will join me in making one to give to Tracy that she can take to a child at the the orphanage. Tracy will take pictures of each child and the quilt he or she receives and bring them back to share. I join Tracy in believing in the power of handmade and how the children will feel the extra love knowing that someone made them a quilt of their own. Here are some answers to questions you may have:

Q: Is there a size requirement?
A: No. You can make it any size.

Q: Is there a design or materials requirement?
A: No. You can make it as plain or fancy as you like, using traditional motifs or made up ones. You can keep it very very simple like this one. You can make it out of fabric or you can knit/crochet one with yarn!

Q: What's the deadline?
A: November 5th (If you live near Orange County, California, Tracy will make arrangements to go and pick up the quilt from you. If you live far too far for Tracy to pick up the quilt, you can make arrangements to have it shipped to her by contacting her via email at tracyschultz@socal.rr.com

I'm excited to be able to donate to this meaningful project, which I know will be executed beautifully.


August 18, 2014

10 Things :: Floppy hat, cauliflower, art for sale, etcetera

 10 Things on my mind right now.

Photo-1510. After looking for just the right floppy hat, I finally found one. It fits my freakishly enormous head, which makes me wonder if there are other people with enormous heads like me. Because it wasn't sized large. It was sized one size fits most.

9. It's been so fun making earrings and charms for sale! I've been wanting to make bracelets for sale but I'm stuck on how to long to make them. Along with my freakishly enormous head, I have freakishly tiny wrists. So my idea of a standard bracelet size is freakishly distorted.

8. Cauliflower used to be white. And then I saw that it comes in purple. And now in yellow and green. Does anyone know if nutritional value changes per the color of the cauliflower?

7. Andrew starts school tomorrow. Hallelujah. But he doesn't have his license yet so it'll be a new routine of taking him and picking him up. I think I can. I think I can.

6. My thumb is almost all better. So strange that it got all swollen last week where I couldn't move it. Couldn't work out properly, couldn't make art properly, couldn't drive, eat, brush teeth, hold a book ... and other things. All of a sudden my left thumb became the most important body part on my entire body. Now that it's feeling better, it's been relgated back to its rightful insignificant place. 

5. I love the word "etcetera." It allows me to cut short my words and then when I say it, most people nod as if they know and agree with what I really didn't say. It's a lovely word. It makes me feel happy, smart, ...

4. ... etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

3. So there's this big project looming over my head. I am supposed to finish making a catalog of my paintings for this wonderful art agent person who is championing my art so that she can start dialoguing with galleries who may want to hang my paintings. It's been a long process that I've made some headway on but I still have a lot to do.

2. While I make the catalog, the challenge is to continue making quality paintings and selling some along the way of course. This week, I sold 3. A very good week. It makes me feel so happy. No, I don't sell prints. Just originals. It's either dumb or smart of me. I don't know. I don't have time to do everything, that's all.

1. I frequently get asked if my art is for sale. With very few exceptions, the answer is yes. I've struggled with letting my yes be known, though. Like there's this weird feeling I've had that you're not supposed to say your art is for sale. Like I'm supposed to be this person who makes a ton of art, and lives a perfectly well-funded life without ever having to sell any artwork. But I'm becoming more comfortable with saying my yes. I want to find ways to be more explicit about my yes in an honest way. Yes. I make art. Yes, my art is for sale. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

August 14, 2014

Memories and History :: Haruki Murakami

As I write this post, I am enjoying a homemade ice-blended banana-cocoa smoothie, and halves and pieces of cashews (much cheaper than whole cashews but just as delicious). Delectable, after having fasted all day to do blood work, in a hot house that'll cool down in a few hours.

Once the post is done, I'll start reading more of my new book that I got at Barnes & Noble today. I was there wanting to pick up another piece of fiction to read after just having finished Karuki Murakami's masterful novel as recommended to me by my daugher: Norweigian Wood.

The fact that I did this (that is, reading a complete novel) is a pretty big deal for me because I haven't read a novel in like 2 or 3 years. Novels are all I used to read ... and then things shifted a few years ago when all that I read became non-fiction (primarily copy for art and crafting books).

I knew that Murakami had just released his newest work: Coloress Tsukuru Tazaki ... and I loved the idea of continuing with a second Murakami book ... but I wasn't sure if now was the time to move forward with his latest or to move backward with his earlier works.

So I sat down in the bookstore and started reading.

Photo 3There's something about his translated words. Each one so crisp and lucid and engaging. No confusion. No complicated tangles, yet with great depth.

I was pretty sure with each page that I read that I was going to buy this book—with gratitude for having found myself back in the delicious world of fiction. But it's when I got to page 44 and read the 10th line from the bottom that I stood up and went to the cashier to buy it.

"You can hide memories, but you can't erase the history that produced them."

IMG_5395I noticed the receipt listed other books that I may also like, based on my purchase. Not sure how long that's been going on but I noticed it for the first time today. Just five titles fished out as recommendations, out of the thousands out there. I know I can't ever read them all, even if I spent the rest of my waking hours reading fiction. This truth sort of bums me out. But I guess that's how it goes. I read what I read. I don't read what I don't read.

How I choose to read what I read is related to who I meet and don't meet, what I do and don't do, who I love and don't love, and ultimately how I allow myself to get influenced and live.

August 13, 2014

Everybody hurts.

These slips of pink papers, and the words contained in them are evidence of two powerful truths: 

1. Everybody hurts.
2. We are not alone.

Photo 1-1
They are papers that people (acquaintances, friends, and strangers) used to write confessions of loss during my art exhibit honoring my late brother Jinil back in February. They talk about loss related to alcoholism, divorce, accidencts, suicides, beloved family pets who have passed, virginity lost to first loves, a laptop lost after putting it on top of a car and driving off, photos and memories lost, and on and on and on. 

It blows my mind, these confessions.

IMG_5055When I saw the confessions happening in front of me, I realized that it doesn't matter what color the skin, how old or young the age, how rich or poor ...




IMG_5088This profound first truth points to the second truth about the fact that we are not alone. And for me, the key to moving past the hurt to the the light is to spend authentic time recognizing what I've lost, and to allow myself to grieve properly. Miraculously, by letting this happen, rather than strong-arming myself to always "choose happy" I start seeing and feeling the light and love and before I know it, I find happy. It happens to me when I don't force it. I can't sustain happy 24/7 but it's there. And when it's authentically there, it is because I am authentically respecting the other feelings that I allow myself to feel.

Sorrow is not a bad feeling. It's a feeling. Just like happy. And it ought to be respected and allowed to run its course without shaming, harrassing, or bullying it away.

Are you hurting?

If you want to, consider letting it out. Consider grieving it. And when the light starts to shine, consider letting it in. It's ok. The person or thing that you've lost will not feel badly that you are finding the light again.


PS: It is my intent to do a large art project with these pink slips of paper where the confessions can be shared in an anonymous and artistic manner. If you'd like to participate by sharing an anonymous confession of loss, you are invited to do so by emailing your confession to mailbox@crescendoh.com or snailmailing your confession to PO Box 11726, Santa Ana, CA 92711

August 11, 2014

Suicide is not selfish.

Nobody likes the word "selfish."

It's a word that means to have a lack of consideration for others, and to be concerned with one's own personal profit or pleasure. Whether we want to admit it or not, we all are selfish to a degree but none of us would ever want to be described as such.

Photo-9When my brother committed suicide last November, there were several people who said to me that what he did was the most selfish thing a person could do. I think the intent of that statement wasn't to hurt me. But it did. The intent was probably to try and comfort me. To help me know that there was nothing that I could do to stop him. Because he was going to do it anyway. Because he was selfish.

I haven't ever replied back when these statements have been spoken ... but I've been taking all this time to develop a proper response. 

On this Monday, the 11th day of August 2014, the day when I have learned (along with the rest of the world) of Robin William's untimely death through his apparent suicide, I'm ready to respond.

Here it is.

It's not about you. It's not about me.
It is and was about him.

After my brother's passing, I read a lot of research about suicide. Suicide is usually associated with severe depression. When a person is severely depressed, all they see and feel is a painful darkness that seemingly has no end. It hurts to numbness. And it's not that they are wanting to be inconsiderate but the only thing they can consider is this abyss. And it's not that they want to experience pleasure or profit. They simply want the pain and darkness to end. They don't want to hurt anyone. They want to stop hurting.

It's not about any of us.

For those who are reading this post and mistakenly thinking that I am per chance advocating suicide, I have a response.

Here it is.

Fuck off.

How could anyone advocate such a thing?

So then what would I advocate for? I suppose something uniquely genuine for each and every severely depressed person. So that each person can find the thing that switches on the light in the darkness ... maybe the right doctor, or the right friend, or the right coach, or the right teacher, or the right kernal of corn beneath the refridgerator, or the right medications, or the right something else that happens with effectiveness so that the abyss could come to an end without life coming to an end on purpose.

My brother was not a saint for how he lived nor for how he died. Neither was Robin Williams.

Regardless, there is not a day that passes without my feeling the heartache of his passing. I miss him. I take comfort in knowing that he is at peace.

My heart goes out to the friends and family of Robin Williams during this tremendously difficult time. May he rest in peace. And may all the happy that he spread through his genius work be remembered with unending smiles.



Announcing :: Navigating the Journal with Jill K. Berry

I'm excited to announce a 2-day workshop that's coming up in Studio Crescendoh title:

Navigating the Journal with Jill K. Berry

JillIt's all about approaching the art journal where we explore and express through icons and concepts found in maps. Cool stuff.

Along with the wonderful art, you're in for a treat with Jill the human being. I have great admiration for who she is and the energy that she puts forth into the universe through her art, her energy.

1380277_10201944069345987_1665354980_nEnrollment is NOW open here.

10 Things

10 Things on my mind right now.

Photo-810. I recently saw the movie BOYHOOD. The one where instead of hiring a boy actor and then a pre-teen actor and then a teen actor, they hired one boy and filmed the story in the course of 12 years. The story doesn't have huge dramatic happenings. Rather, the drama of everyday living. I liked it a lot. The best line in the movie was at the end: "It's always right now." So true. It's never not now. It's always right now. It's not yesterday now. It's not tomorrow now. It's now right now.

9. I haven't done a blog post in a long time. I wouldn't say it's writer's block per se because I write plenty on IG, FB and other places. So here I am again. Trying to just jump in, even though I haven't written about so much that has happened since the last post.

8. My daugher will be starting college the first week of October. I realized in observing her behavior as of late that this period of time ... the summer after high school graduation and before the start of freshman year at college is the time when you are MOST free. Late to bed, late to rise, eat some, play some, and hang out with friends some. I guess she deserves it, given the rigors that await her. But I'll be happy when this period is over.

7. I can't believe Lenny won the title of the next food network star. No offence to him but I was rooting for Luca. :(

6. Almost done reading Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami. I feel like I am related to him in some way. Or related to the characters in this beautiful novel in some way. Or the words spoken by the characters in some way. (BTW I'm a slow reader.)

5. My 16-year old son Andrew has not been in any hurry to get his driver's license. But as of late, I've been giving him lessons mostly in the giant parking lot near our house. The other day, I actually had him go on real streets and even had him go through the drive thru of a McDonalds. (In honor of Jim Gaffigan.) When the voice on the speaker asked him how she could help him, he turned to me and asked, "what do I do?" and I said "order what you want to eat." And so he ordered a filet o fish, fries, and a hot fudge sundae. And when we pulled up, he paid and got the change and got the food. I asked him how he felt and he said "like a grown up!" What a thrilling moment it was for him.

4. I really dislike the "That's not a Buick!" commercials. I wish they'd stop.

3. I recently went to the OB/GYN for my annual. Another clean bill of health and lots of praise for staying healthy. So I'm re-inspired to stay with it. To keep investing in fitness and training so that I can hopefully go for another decade or two without any medication, any surgery, any anything except for good ol' exercise and moderate eating.

2. Later this month, I'll be going to Bakersfield for a family reunion of sorts, to celebrate 40 years of being in the United States of America. We came in August of 1974. There will be so much to reflect on when we are together, I'm sure.

1. My recent trip to Korea with Monica was amazing. So many beautiful things happened, including the poignant realization that the person who made the trip possible, and my reconnection to my family possible, and my rediscovery of my heritage as an important facet of my essence possible is my late brother Jinil.

June 11, 2014

Orvieto Italy with Pam and Amy

I am excited to let you know of a very special adventure that will take place in Orvieto Italy this summer, with Amy Hanna and Pam Garrison.

Photo-4Under their guidance and the hosting of the team at Adventures in Italy, you can join Pam and Amy to spend wonderful days making art, learning about Italian wines, food, and culture.

Untitled-2If you've ever dreamed of going to Italy with a group of artists, this is a wonderful opportunity. Here's the link where you can find all the details.



June 09, 2014

BOOK REVIEW :: Shooting with Soul by Alessandra Cave

Shooting with Soul
by Alessandra Cave
128 pages
ISBN: 978-1-59253-871-3
Review by Jenny Doh

Photo 1

This book is SO Alessandra. Why? Because in the first chapter, it contains all the technical information you need to understand how to operate a camera. You know ... shutter speed, ISO, aperture. But it also contains a soulful and heartfelt point of view of a photographer who helps the reader understand not only the technicalities related to shooting photographs, but how to express oneself through the process.

I also really like how Alessandra doesn't discriminate amongst cameras. She acknowledges that the camera a person uses may not be the top of the line DSLR but perhaps a vintage instant camera, or a sporty point-and-shoot. Regardless of the shooting instrument, her photography exercises as presented in chapters 2 through 5 are sure to get photographers at all skill levels to pause, consider, observe, and shoot with soul. There is also a 6th chapter with resources and glossary that I think has been well edited with valuable information.

Bravo to Alessandra Cave!

Photo 2

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