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May 25, 2013


Faith in the Minor Key


Jenny Doh

A song changes from major to minor when just one note moves down one tiny half-step. Musicians know this. And when non-musicians ask, "When can you tell a song is in the minor key?" I say, "You'll know it when you hear it. When you feel the melancholy."

Humans are fragile.

A lesson I learn and re-learn time and time again. Just one misstep, one half step turns the air from clear to cloudy, hopeful to troubled, major to minor.

I don't think there's a person I've met who has been able to avoid the minor key. Sometiems, the half-step change happens unbeknownst to any of us, and even in the presence of good intent.

But I have faith in the minor key ... that it'll help me better understand the human condition and accept that to find contentment and joy in the songs composed in the major key, we sometimes have to experience the ones composed in the minor.

April 20, 2013


Tango


When I prepare the studio for the next next, I'm always looking down.
Looking down as I sweep up and clean up from the immediate past next.
Oh the things I find when I look down.
Pins, pearls, pencils ... and once even a fallen acrylic nail!

But this time, I found her. So perfect she appeared that I thought she was simply at rest.
But her journey had ended. Beautifully. Calmly. Quietly. With stories that I could only imagine ... stories that only she could confirm.

Jenny Doh
Perhaps I was thinking of her stories ... of the tangled, complicated tango she danced ... of the beautiful light she adored and was endlessly, breathlessly, and recklessly drawn to.

Jenny DohChanneling her stories is how this painting came to be. Colors that landed effortlessly on the canvas, followed by all the rest that lilted down to find their place ... to honor and document the vailitiy of her stories, her life, her unique dance.
Jenny Doh

Jenny Doh

September 11, 2011


Nine Eleven


Jenny Doh
It was ten years ago today when our family awoke to get our Monica ready for her first day of kindergarten. We had gotten her uniform all ready the night before, with her brand new lime-green backpack filled with brand new pencils, erasers, and stickers  ... the whole family bursting with anticipation as we put all of our focus into supporting Monica and her school.

As she was getting ready, as I walked out of the house, I ran into my neighbor Mark who said to me that one of the twin tower buildings had been hit by an airplane. I remember this well.

I came inside and turned on the news and there it was. The entire horrific story unfolding before our eyes. It was unreal. It was surreal.

Jenny Doh With worry, concern and confusion, we all got loaded up and took Monica to school. Andrew was a little guy, not yet three, who came along for the big event. That morning, Monica was greeted by her good friend Andrea. And like magnets, the two of them found Cecilia ... the new friend who  completed this circle of friendship as these three would quickly become the three muskateers. As Gerardo, Andrew, and I left the campus, I said to her what I still say to her and also to Andrew when I drop them off at school: "Pay attention to the teachers and be nice to the kids."

That night, after being fixated on the news and hearing all about the first day of kinder, our family went to sleep. Then in the middle of the night, Gerardo and I awoke because of the deafening sound we heard from the sky. We opened our front door and saw that the noise was coming from fighter jets ... flying so close to our neighborhood ... so close that I felt the wind hitting my face from the motion of these jets. I have never been so scared. I thought the world was going to end that night.

Jenny Doh
Here we are. Ten years later. Cecilia, Andrea, Monica ... still the three muskateers.

These three girls will always remember the morning of 9/11. The morning filled with excitement and also deep sadness.

It is the morning that the parents of these girls, as well as the parents of countless other schoolchildren will never forget. The morning when we hoped and prayed harder than ever before, to be swaddled in comfort, peace, healing, understanding, and friendship.

May 05, 2011


Benito & Abraham


Cinco de Mayo (Spanish for May the 5th) is NOT Mexico's Independence Day. That is actually September 16, 1810.

Cinco de Mayo honors an important battle when the underdog, the Mexican army (of 4,000), defeated the French army (of 8,000) at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. It was important because the hubris of the French, coupled with disciplined perseverence of a people under the leadership of its president, Benito Juarez, resulted in an outcome that no one predicted, and had huge reverberations for the world.

Benito Juarez These reverberations forever affected the fate of the United States because had Mexico not been victorious at Puebla, the French would have moved onto its ultimate goal of aiding the southern Confederacy during the US Civil War. Mexico's victory at Puebla disallowed the French from providing support to the Confederacy, and resulted in the eventual ending of the US Civil War. And ever since the Battle of Puebla, no country in any of the Americas—not North, not Central, not South—has been invaded by Europe.

Through all of this, Benito Juarez and Abraham Lincoln remained the strongest of allies. To me, their style of leadership had many similarities that I admire so much. Calm. Confident. Values-based. Results-oriented. Determined. Focused. Unflappable.

Abraham Lincoln

All of this to say ...

Happy Cinco de Mayo. :)

April 15, 2011


Irrationality of Horribilization


Jenny Doh
I hate going to the dentist. Always have. In fact, there was a long stretch of time when I didn't go and the longer I put it off, the worse my fear got. I horribilized in my head, all the horrible things that would happen if I went. Turns out that when I did finally go, nothing horrible happened. They checked my teeth, told me that I had no cavities and told me to remember to floss. Since that particular visit, I've been going regularly but I still dread going and I still think that with every visit, something horrible will happen.

With my kids, it's even worse. When they were much younger, when they did get some cavities, I felt such shame. (It's a mother thing.) It felt like a report card on parenting that the dentist gave me ... "Your daughter has 1 cavity and your son has 2." I convinced myself that the cavities were a reflection of my poor mothering skills.

If my kids could chime in right now, they'd tell you that in our house, I am a bit intense about the whole teeth thing as I walk around badgering them day and night ... making sure that they've brushed, flossed, and rinsed.

So anyway, this spring break, I took the kids to the dentist. And because we had had some problems with our dental insurance for a few months, I had missed a couple of regular appointments for them and me. And sure enough, I started horribilizing what would happen at this appointment. Had they brushed enough? Had they flossed enough? What if the dentist came out to chastize me for all the horrible things that I was doing, as evidenced by the cavities and other oral hygeiene issues that were going on in their mouths?

Horribilizing is what I do when it comes to teeth.

So it was the moment of truth. 1 Spring Break. 3 Dental Checkups. The results?
Me: zero cavities.
Monica: zero cavities.
Andrew: one cavity.

The staff asked in the most non-horrible way ... "So, when can you bring Andrew back to get his cavity filled?"

"Um ... how about in two weeks?"

"You got it. We'll see you in two weeks. Oh by the way, Andrew was wondering if we could do something so that his 'fangs' were less noticible and so we told him that his 'fangs' were normal but that if he wants us to try and sand them down, we could do it but we'd need your permission first."

"Uh ... that would be a no. No need to get rid of his normal fangs. We'll see you in two weeks."

So that's it. Nothing horrible happened. And you know what? I'm finally realizing that the most horrible thing that happens in terms of these appointments is what happens in my head ... as I construct my own horrible scenario based on irrational thinking.

We all have things we horribilize. The dentist. The tax man. The doctor's visit. But you know what? The worst case scenario is never as horrible as we imagine them to be. I mean, even if the checkup resulted in someone needing a root canal ... it would be "When can you come in to get your root canal?"

It's when we keep putting things off with these not-so-fun parts of life that they can fester and become a bigger deal than they ever need to be.

Don't forget to floss ... fangs and all. ;)

July 15, 2010


The Other Cheek


I've frequently wondered about what Jesus meant when he said "if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also." Did he mean that abused wives ought to subject themselves to domestic violence? Did he mean that we ought to deliberately seek dysfunctional and emotionally abusive relationships?

I think not.

IMG_0917
I think the concept had more to do with keeping our focus on long-term, rather than short-term success. It's about not losing emotional control in the heat of the moment ... even when you've been wronged. It's about attracting bees with more honey. It's about killing badness with kindness. 

It's about retaining a poker face ... it's about using one's grit and discipline to stay focused on the long-term. To control our emotions rather than have our emotions control us. To out-maneuver, out-play, out-wit, and out-last. Strategies for long-term success. 

Easier said than done.

(Artwork by Linda Warlyn.)

January 12, 2010


WE LIGHT A CANDLE


Tonight, we light a candle.

IMG_1851 

And we say a prayer. 

For the people of Haiti as they find a way back from today's devastating earthquake. 

And we count our blessings and gain perspective. 

For all that we have, and all that we are able to give to others, if we so choose.

 

December 01, 2009


CARDS WE HOLD, CARDS WE PLAY


IMG_1307

The truth of this message is one that is fully realized by the tortoise that could. It's the tortoise's ability to not give up and play well the hand he has been dealt to ultimately be successful, that inspires me to no end. Throughout history, we've seen those who are given a good hand but don't appreciate it and don't use it well. And we've seen those who have not such a good hand but never give up and figure out how to beat the odds. The pen is mightier than the sword, the strongest weapon is patience, you gotta have faith, and you must never give up. No matter what.

November 28, 2009


DANGERS OF COMFORT


Too comfortable 

It's so true, don't you think? When we get too comfortable, we don't strive for the next thing. Because the thing is, the next thing, or the thought of the next thing can be ... well ... really, really uncomfortable and scary.

But I think it's when we force ourselves to move beyond our comfort zones — spiritually, physically, personally, professionally — to challenge ourselves to come up with the next level of excellence, that brilliance will ever be achieved. 

Because this is so hard, it is why I think brilliance is SO VERY RARELY achieved.

 

November 18, 2009


CRY WITHOUT WEEPING


"And so she woke up, woke up from where she was, lying still. Said, I gotta do something about where we're going ...

Step on a steam train, step out of the driving rain, maybe. Run from the darkness in the night. Singing ha, ah la la la de day, ah la la la de day, a la la de day.

Sweet the sin, bitter taste in my mouth. I see seven towers, but I only see one way out.

You got to cry without weeping, 

talk without speaking, 

scream without raising your voice ...

You know I took the poison from the poison stream, then I floated out of here. Singing, ha la la la de day. Ha la la la de day, ha la la de day.

She runs through the streets with her eyes painted red, under the black belly of cloud in the rain. In through a doorway, she brings me, white gold and pearls, stolen from the sea, 

She is raging

She is raging

And the storm blows up in her eyes. She will ...

Suffer the needle chill. She's running to stand ...

Still."

{By U2}

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