27 October 2009

My very own headshot

Erin Sullivan of Erin Sullivan Photography took my headshots last week. We had a blast goofing off in Old Town Pasadena. She made me do the sexy walk and let me just say it looked like the painful walk. I looked like I was part hobbling/part grimacing/part ahhhhhhhhh. Oh it was so much fun.

Exposed brick, a blazer from Anthropologie--all genius moments of splendor.

19 October 2009

San Francisco in October


Last weekend, I went to the Bay area. I actually did not see San Francisco but I was in Palo Alto and ate Burmese food in Burlingame and that is close enough. Mingalaba, the Burmese restaurant, was sooooo good. Oh my gosh. I ate so much that I was tempted to undo my top button. I felt like I was venturing into grandma territory (my grandma walks out of buffets holding her pants up by the hands because she loosens everything with each course). The service was impeccable (we were offered red wine while we waited and complimentary rice pudding dessert at the end) and the food just melted in our mouths. We gasped, we gurgled, we inhaled, we stopped speaking.

J. was up there for a conference so while he discussed hate crime law and critical theory, I went for a run along the beautiful tree lined streets around Stanford's campus. The homes were quaint and full of character and hard wood floors. They also have fall foliage in Northern California! The trees were oh so lush with golds and oranges. I thought of moving.

I also got to hang out with the fabulous Liz Song of lizsong.blogspot.com in her new barn digs. I was in love with her new place. She lives on one side of the first floor of the barn and has the entire 2nd floor to herself. Three words. 360 degree views! She has windows facing every direction. There was so much space, and Liz made the most of it with simple and stunning decor. Chartreuse greens and blues filled her walls. Cozy rugs and couches, rustic wood pieces, and a streamlined office area made it an ideal creative work/play haven. I was inspired and wished I had a camera to share it with you.

This time, travel inspired me to come home and make it as beautiful and inspiring as possible. Cheers to Liz for sharing the inspiration.

Note about the picture: At the barn, Liz opened my eyes to the wide world of Photoshop actions. Hence my first attempt at photoshopping--J.'s face.

15 October 2009

Ignatian Retreat: Month 1

In July, I wrote about signing up to do the 19th Annotation Ignatian Retreat at the Sisters of St. Joseph in Orange, CA. Here is an update one month after my start in September.

When I first met with my spiritual director, I was nervous, a little agitated, and wondering if this was going to work out. You see, I expected to meet with a liberal white nun at the convent, not a middle aged Korean medical doctor in her dusty and cluttered medical office 45 inconvenient minutes away from my house.

I had so many stereotypical concerns. Was she going to give me unsolicited advice? Was she going to say really blunt things? Was she going to be an extension of my mom? And why did I get paired up with her anyways? When Sister Barbara, the director of the program, asked me at orientation if I needed the Korean handout (after I had had an interview with her in English), my suspicions were confirmed. They paired me with a Korean because I'm a Korean! It felt like one of those unfair, annoying, discriminatory moves that happens to me from well meaning people.

The first few sessions with my director were OK. There were some red flags. She advised me on how to choose a church for my unborn children. She told me I was unconventionally blessed to be married to a man that supported my spiritual journey as well as J. did. When I shared my treasured vocational dreams and realizations with her, she said, "You're excited and emotional right now and that doesn't mean it's God. You need to keep praying." Kill me now.

I wondered if I should switch and in fact, many of my friends told me I should. But I decided to give it one more chance, and I'm glad I did.

In the past, spiritual directors have jolted me with their insights. They have made me cry uncontrollably with their very presence. They have given me their progressive and liberal encouragements to flee fundamentalism and evangelicalism and love myself. They have shown me a God that I longed for and couldn't name.

My director didn't really do that. Sometimes, she did the opposite and reminded me of what I did not want to be hearing. But as the weeks progressed and we delved into the Ignatian scripture meditations that were outlined for me each week, I sensed the value of her wisdom and guidance. Ignatian retreat direction is very specific--she helps me stay committed to the one hour of scripture meditation and prayer each day and helps me talk about it and see God in my experiences. Within that structure, our relationship comes alive.

The Ignatian experience, like life, is fluid. There are lows and highs. Last week, a day did not go by that I did not cry from despair. You see, the scripture meditations were bringing up my fears and it was quite gutting. Thank God for surfing--it cleared my head and helped me get back to it instead of abandoning the practice.

Then, there are the highs. Facing my fears opened my heart to receive God's love and this week, I received God's presence and peace in deeper than deep ways, along with a beautiful vision for my life. These have been beautiful and unforseeable times, and I have been seeing that God's love can drive out my greatest fears and give me immense freedom to follow my heart.

I am on my fourth week of the 9 month retreat. I have met with my spiritual director seven times and the rest of the program retreatants twice. 8 more months to go. Each day, I struggle to do the meditations, and I struggle to do them for a full hour. But it's getting easier as time goes on and in some ways, it feels like learning to ride a bike. I'm learning to pedal without falling down, and I'm looking forward to riding with the wind on my back.

12 October 2009

I sliced his tush

picture by IceNineJohn
Last Saturday morning, I went surfing at the famous San Onofre Beach. I donned a rented wetsuit, very much like the one in the picture above, except that it was loose in the chest and arms and had bright blue running down the middle. I held my surfboard too--with both hands--and hobbled along the beach without falling over. Good thing I was with three other first time surfers, one of whom wore a bright red and purple wetsuit designed for scuba diving (hi martha!).

Ah surfing, how shall I write about thee? Paddle paddle paddle. Keep your head above water. PADDLE! KEEP PADDLING! Keep your head up! Oh you fell off? Good, better now than later. Keep paddling. Your arms are tired? Count--1, 2, 3, 4. This is exercise. C'mon. Keep paddling, over here, to the right where the waves are breaking and where the rest of the surfers in the know are.

That's my surf instructor Jeff talking.

This is me.

Um, Jeff? How come even sitting on my surfboard is hard? I keep falling off. I can't even balance sitting down. My arms are sooo tired...keep going Hanna (I revert to talking to myself in the third person). Paddle, must keep paddling. Must keep doing cobra pose and keep my head up. The temptation to lie down on this board and nap is so great...gurgle gurgle gurgle...saltyyyyy.

Surfing is about having buff arms, shoulders, neck and back. It's about being able to do cobra pose for an indefinite amount of time while paddling with your arms in choppy water. Knowing yoga helped.

Jeff was a great instructor. He gathered up surfboards from his friends so that we would all have one to use. He brought us a collection of wetsuits so that we could save money and not have to rent unless it didn't fit. He was patient, kind, funny, altogether groovy.

I caught a couple of waves but chickened out of standing up (Ah, but riding the waves just lying on my stomach was so much fun!).

Hmm, what else did I do?

Oh, there was that one slashing incident.

Slashing what?

The slashing of Jeff's tush.

Jeff, the surf instructor?

You slashed your surf instructor's butt cheek?

Oh my gosh, yes.

I will never live this down.

My biggest fear with surfing was that my surfboard fins were going to slice someone open. I may have media reports mixed up but I have this vague memory of hearing news about kids dying from riding their surfboard into someone's head.

Well, I ran it over Jeff's bum as he was trying to help the Rev'd Martha catch a wave. I was so excited about catching another wave until I realized in horror that I was headed directly for Martha and Jeff. I almost ran over the priest and scared the sh*t out of her because I was screaming my head off. I had no idea where Jeff went.

Waves are crashing, my wet hair is sticking to my face. I'm clinging to my surfboard. My screams are still ringing in my ear. Jeff finally bobs up.

"Ugh," he groans. "I think your fin sliced my tush."

As he hoists himself onto his board again, I see the glimmer of an unmistakable slash running across the left cheek of his wetsuit. I am mortified and get a mucho serious case of the giggles.

Have you ever harmed someone in such a funny way that you're both mortified and insanely tickled at the same time? I started gurgling into the seawater again because I could barely keep my head up I was laughing so hard and embarassed and trying desperately to paddle away.

When Jeff came up to shore, he said in front of the whole group, "Hey Hanna, I think you actually sliced my wetsuit!"

(Um, yeah Jeff, I saw that but didn't really feel like pointing it out)

We could see his butt. There was a 7 inch gash and a hole the size of a quarter in the middle of it. The whole area was ringed in red and I thought he was bleeding. He told us the inside of the wetsuit was red and it wasn't blood. Thank God.

While I was mortified, Jeff thought it was the funniest thing in the world. He kept strutting around, shaking his head, and saying, "Hanna, I can't believe you sliced my butt. I guess I'll have to get a new wetsuit."

Oh dear.

06 October 2009


Since my titillating post, I haven't felt much inspiration to write. Maybe it's because it's hard to beat the entertaining value of sexual content.

Yeah, maybe so.

But regardless, fall is here and that is reason to celebrate! I love fall and over here by the coast, the wind makes you shiver and the skies are grey and rolling and lit with soft orange light in the evening. J. stopped several times yesterday to look out the window and say, "It's so beautiful. So beautiful."

I'm looking forward to weekly art get togethers with my artist friend Jan. She's a Cerritos girl and regularly makes trips to LACMA and elsewhere to get her art fix. She pushes me to make the drive to go to free lectures and engage with modern art. For autumn, we're discussing possible projects with watercolors, ceramics, and Christmas presents.

This Saturday, I'm getting a free surfing lesson with the UCI Episcopal Fellowship. $10 for a wetsuit.

I'm meeting with Myra House board members tomorrow to discuss ways in which I can help their PR and marketing projects. If you're in the area and if you've never stopped by, make an appointment and visit! It's an incredible place that nurtures a deep spirituality connected to the earth, contemplation, sustainable living, and community. The chapel is gorgeous--hardwood floors, floor pillows, Taize style fabric sculptures and candles, icons, exposed beams. My soul breathes a sigh of relief when I'm in there. Sung Sohn, Ph.D. was an architect before he turned to theology and pastoral ministry.

I'm going to go to the Back Bay as much as possible--it's my new place to unwind and let loose and take big gulps of air and get some exercise.

I'm also looking forward to the launch of a new website for my freelance writing and a headshot session with my good friend, the talented Erin Sullivan. She specializes in portraits and she's gonna make me look fabulous and writerly.

Next up: Going through my books for more giveaways.