Tag Archives: garden

The Spaces I Dream of That Nourish My Spirit

October 12, 2020

Culture and Society

I believe that one’s physical surroundings can be a reflection of one’s state of mind and, at the very least, creates subtle reactions (for better or worse) that we may not be aware of. In my case, a messy and chaotic space typically makes it difficult for me to concentrate on a task. I start to feel restless and uneasy. To be fair, I happen to be a virgo, and my perfectionist tendencies may play a role in this. However, the deeper essence of this seems to go beyond obsessive neatness and cleanliness.

I’ve been think a lot lately about constructing a Japanese-inspired garden just off the deck of my house. I recently visited a Japanese garden in Nashville a couple of months ago, and I was moved by what I found. Generally, when I imagine what a garden looks like, it has splashes of bold colors and fantastic shapes everywhere. Every spot is a feast for the eyes, but in the case of a Japanese garden, the aesthetic is centered around composition and form. There are no bold colors. Instead, a tapestry of organic textures that incorporate small leafy trees, stones, and woodwork abound at lower and higher elevations.

The space literally melted my face.

Beyond its appearance, the way the Japanese garden made me feel is what truly struck me. The subtle nuances in the design gave me a feeling of calm and a sense of piece. It felt like the kind of place where I could be alone with my thoughts. I beheld a physical stage for the mind in which the internal version of me could roam freely in the open air.

A narrow path wound its way around bunches of tall and wispy bamboo trees whose leaves rustled gently in the wind. Smooth round stones that softly reflected the sunlight gathered in pools around small trees. Hills rolled softly above manicured stretches of grass and sand. There was a tenderness to the place that felt pure but unassuming.

It got me wishing that more of the world felt like this.

I have started to think more expansively beyond a Japanese-inspired garden. I now aspire to create spaces that invoke a feeling of calm and are a forum for introspection. My car, bedroom, bathroom, studio workspace, and all of the spaces in which I dwell would be part of this effort. I am not aiming to simply have a clean and orderly environment. I desire spaces that feel organic, earthy, and balanced in the same ways a Japanese garden simply exists in these ways.

My journey toward living in calm and organic spaces has only begun. I will be writing more about this as I move forward. I’ll be collecting stones, plants, fabrics, and wooden forms while I clear out possessions that are unnecessary and do not give me joy.

I want to design spaces for myself that feel restorative and cultivate a sense of peace.

This is a journey I need to take.

Find Your Inspiration and Cherish It

June 30, 2019

Culture and Society

Regardless of what path you walk in life, there are often guides that inspire you and draw you toward a specific direction. Maybe you became an accountant because you loved the specificity and language of numbers in grade school. Perhaps you became a chef because you felt loved when your parents made you a flavorful and warm home-cooked meal as a child.

In my case, I became a pianist because of the artistic and personal freedom it gave me. I saw other pianists like Beethoven, Thelonious Monk, and Tori Amos create such gorgeous, rich, and powerful work. They inspired me to find my own artistic and creative path.

Luckily, we can find inspiration anywhere. You might be doing your morning jog and pass by a house with a blooming garden. Its colors, textures, and smells bursting at the seams.

You might be watching this, as I was one day, and be totally mesmerized . . .

Something as simple as the design of a chair, with its balance of sharp angles versus wide curves and soft textures vs. hard surfaces, can ignite an imagination:

There is literally inspiration everywhere. I find it beneficial when I am creatively stuck or when I am simply bored to call on my creative muses. I love to geek out on what I love most.

Here is a short list of some of my inspirational go-to’s:

  • Just about ANY Madonna music video. (I have been a big fan for years.) Her talent lies in her sharp point-of-view. The music and the visuals honor her perspective. She leaves nothing to chance. Badass women are my superheroes.
  • Any performance by Michelle Kwan at a US Figure Skating Championship. She schools us all on the confluence of intricate technical skill, gritty athleticism, graceful artistic expression, and fiery charisma. It is Asian power on full display.
  • An album called “August and Everything After” by Counting Crows. The lyricism and emotions in this album will reach into you. A collection of songs drenched in devastation and yearning never felt so good. Lead singer Adam Duritz’s voice is comforting and expressive. Imagine being wrapped in a soft blanket, sitting on a recliner in front of a fireplace, and holding a cup of warm coffee in your hands on the coldest winter day ever. This is what this album feels like. It is a masterful work. Here is a song from that album called “Anna Begins”:
  • A Piano. Any Piano. All Pianos.

So, what inspires you? What gets your creative fires stoked? It is ESSENTIAL to have a list of ideas, people, music, or artwork that inspire you that you can access quickly.

Find it, wherever and whatever it is. Be it on Youtube, Instagram, in a book, in your bedroom, or anywhere outside your front door. Geek out on it privately or publicly. Hold onto it for dear life and cherish it often.

Just as food and water feed our bodies, our inspirations will feed our spirits and enrich our lives.


As a bonus, she was 15 years old when she did this. This was a close call. Find out if she won at the end . . .