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Month: July 2022

My CreateSpace project’s connection to better mental health

In this video, Dr. Joe Dispenza said “Our thoughts can make us sick. We can think about our problems, imagine the worst case scenario in our life, and turn on that stress response just by thought alone. The science says that stress can push the genetic buttons that create disease. If our thoughts can make us sick, is it possible then our thoughts can make us well?”

If yes, I would want to think thoughts that “make us well.” The purpose of my project is to pivot the voice in our head to better feeling thoughts. “To dispel the mental toxins that cause unhappiness” as Matthieu Ricard said in his book A Guide to Developing Life’s Most Important Skill: Happiness.

Matthieu Ricard said we spend a lot of time and effort on studying in school, building a career, exercising our body, building relationships but we do very little to improve our inner state which determines the quality of our life!

Why is that I wonder?

According to the Centre for Addiction and Mental health:

  • In any given year, 1 in 5 Canadians experiences a mental illness.
  • By the time Canadians reach 40 years of age, 1 in 2 have – or have had – a mental illness.
  • Young people aged 15 to 24 are more likely to experience mental illness and/or substance use disorders than any other age group.

Johnathan Haidt, a social psychologist and professor at NYU said in this video that there is a spike in anxiety, depression, self-harm, suicide amongst preteens and young teens. Because of social media, kids are now facing bullying and peer pressure at a whole new level.

Shouldn’t we also teach kids the skills to better mental health?

Johnathan Haidt and his co-author had compiled data and information on Better Metal Health here:

Dr. Libby Weaver talked about this “Rushing Woman’s Syndrome” and how even “perceive” stress plays an important role in woman’s health and weight. She said when we are under stress (perceived or real threat), our body runs the Sympathetic Nervous System where we burn glucose for fight or flight. When we are calm, our body runs on the Parasympathetic Nervous System where it is digesting, repairing, growing, creative and burning fat!

After meeting with people from the Richmond Art Gallery about this project, they gave me some really good ideas. Because I already have this concept of what I wanted to do in my mind, I am thinking strictly on how to make that concept into a reality. I didn’t really consider other options. After talking with other artists, I realized that I had such narrow focused thinking, even on a creative project!

During one of the workshops of the residency, the guest artist speaker also suggested talking with other people and other artists. Sometimes, great ideas are from these discussions which could happen any point during the process. Listening to others help us see different perspective and open our focus to more possibilities.

Maybe that’s why we should talk to people when we are stuck in a mental rut. I know I felt better after venting my frustrations and troubles to trusted family and friends. Especially if I couldn’t get out of the downward negative spiral by myself. They help me reaffirm and gave more strength to the better feeling thoughts.

It’s so interesting that as I am working on this project, I started reading Matthieu Ricard’s A Guide to Developing Life’s Most Important Skill: Happiness. On page 38 he said: “happiness is a skill, a manner of being, but skills must be learned.”

I am so grateful for this opportunity to share my learning through art with others.

Hopefully, after people have experience my temporary public art installation, they can take away something to add to their toolbox for better mental health.

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What to write on the ribbons and why

One of the many benefits of having mentors is that they share ideas that you’ve not thought of. Collin, a mentor from the CreateSpace residency suggested that I try the ribbons now and see how they weather in the elements (please see previous posts for project descriptions).

I am trying different markers and just by trying, I learned the nuances of things:

From left to right:

  • Sharpies work well as long as I write big and in capital letters. The alphabets bled together and were illegible when I write in lower case (done in orange Sharpie).
  • Get wider ribbons
  • Fabric marker is very smooth to write with on the ribbon. Although it bled a little bit, it’s still legible and acceptable.
  • Water-based acrylic marker did not work well because it bled, dried up fast on the surface of the ribbon and when I reload the paint, it created blobs of paint on the ribbon.
  • Posca markers work pretty well. The tip is very fine so it kind of scratches and get stuck on the ribbons but if I write slanted like italic, it is smooth.
  • Oil-based paint markers are harder to use because they dry up as I write. I have to press down on the tip to get more paint and it smells. The white one didn’t work at all.
  • I was surprise that the roll of ribbon ran out after making 6 strips or 5.5 strips as one is very short. The roll is 18 feet long and has smooth looking surface.
  • As I tie the ribbons on the tree, I want to make sure it’s secure but also easy to take down. Need to ask my boy-scout husband about different knot options.
  • When I was taking pictures of the ribbons on the tree, the writing with the neon green Posca marker kind of shined and it looks nice. It was mentioned that it kind of blend in with the trees and leaves.
  • Buy different colour ribbons so they are more visible on the trees. I bought the lighter colour ribbon so I know the writing will show. I will try if the markers work on darker ribbons.

Some pictures of the ribbons on a tree:

As for what to write on the ribbons, it’s based on the teachings of Dr. Joe Dispenza and Esther Hicks.

In this video, Dr. Joe said think about a problem that you have right now in your life. On a piece of paper, write down the thoughts and feeling associated with the problem. Write down how you speak and act if you are trapped in a box with this problem. Then imagine you are out of the box and the problem is resolved. How would you think, act and feel then? I like Dr. Joe because everything he taught is science based. If you like science and how it relates to human potential, it’s interesting to read his books.

Esther Hicks also wrote about many tools to train our brain to think empowering thoughts. I believe our brain is a powerful tool if we can learn how to use it. It requires practice as I find myself going back to the old habitual ways (Dr. Joe talk about this too and it’s because habits are energy efficient but limiting when you want to create something new).

As I think about what to write on the ribbon, I used Esther Hicks’ idea to “think better feeling thoughts”.

Take one problem I have for example: I hate losing money (because of the bear stock market).

This led to me think about that time long ago when I sold my condo too early and lost on the “potential” of making more money (how funny my brain works to hate losing “potential” money) and that I don’t know how to make more money, etc. On and on and on and it felt terrible.

As Esther Hicks suggested, try to think better, even slightly better feeling thoughts:

“It’s all in the past now. I am doing alright right now. I am learning and getting better and better. I have control over my own thoughts and point of view. It would be nice if I have more money than I can spend. I would feel secure, free, fun, relaxed, adventurous, joy. I am taken care of. I don’t have to get there right now. I can just relax and enjoy this moment right now. Right now at this moment, everything is well. I love my life. I appreciate having my family. I am happy that I can sleep in. I enjoy good food, a cup of hot tea and reading a good book. I am happy that I am doing what I love and what brings me joy…”

Then I felt excited and I started working on my ribbons.

Wherever you are in your life, you can move tiny step by tiny step toward where you want to be. I think one of my biggest problem is that I want to get there right now, at this instant!

I am really starting to believe the power of our mind.

Before my picture book was published, I didn’t have much going on in my art career and one day sitting on the couch, reading a book with my family by my side, I felt this genuine appreciation. I felt that there’s nothing more I could ask for in my life. Shortly after (maybe several months to half a year), I got the publishing contract!

There are several examples that I can think of in my life that when I start to appreciate the simple things in life, more was given to me.

I want to mention my list of good feeling words on my wall behind my monitor (again). It’s there as a reminder. Even if I don’t know what I want, I know the feeling that I want. Maybe I will ask people to help me add to my list of good feeling words.

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Looking for participants in my CreateSpace Public Art project


Part 1: Before BC Culture Days weekend

During the pandemic, I see a lot of divisiveness in our society and if I look at the root causes, I find thoughts and emotions rooted in fear which are common to all human beings, regardless of age, race, identity, physical ability, etc.

As part of my CreateSpace public art residency, I am inviting people to observe the voices in their heads and pivot those voices into more empowering thoughts.

During the BC Culture Days weekend (September 24-25, 2022), I will cover a tent with dark fabrics and play audio recordings of a collection of people’s worries and fears inside the tent. My idea is to magnify what goes on in our mind and invite people to become more aware of the voices in our head.

I am looking for volunteers of different age, race, identity, language spoken, religion, etc to record audios of their fears and/or worries. The audio recordings will be anonymous. You can also write them down and we will read/record it. To see some of Jeni’s mind chatters, check out this blog post. If you are interested, please contact me at

Part 2: Outside of Richmond Cultural Centre During BC Culture Days Weekend (September 24-25, 2022)

During the BC Culture Days weekend, the public are invited to walk through the tent that represents the mind chatters. As they leave the tent, they will face a tree-lined green space which represents opening our heart to the spaciousness of our true-being. People are invited  to move to that new space where they will write down the thoughts and emotions they would like to replace their fears with on strings of ribbons and tie these ribbons to a wishing tree.

Part 3: Tapestry of Hope

At the end of the project, I will weave these ribbons into a Tapestry of Hope that represent the choices that we have every moment by choosing to think and act based on love rather than fear.

I love Anita Moorjani’s idea that each of us is a thread in a huge beautiful tapestry and we have the choice to touch another person in a positive way, even in a small way (which could multiply!)

As part of my life journey, I want to learn how to be my most authentic self and live a fulfilling life. As I read books and learn about the teachings of wise people, I found (regardless of the authors’ race, religion or approach to life, etc) this basic common thread:

“Be the change you want to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi*

Purpose of the project:

Matthieu Ricard, a French scientist turned monk (and artist) said:

“Happiness is a skill… they need to be developed. That’s what education is about.”

“It involves understanding which thoughts, words, and actions inevitably lead to pain and which contribute to well being.”

Through this project, I hope to practice and bring awareness to the fear based thinking that divide people. I truly believe that if we can choose to think and act out of love (rather than fear) or just be reminded to appreciate the simple things in our lives, we can be happier with not only ourselves but with each other.

Here’s a list of authors that talk about the voices in our head and how to transform them into more empowering thoughts that contribute to deep and lasting well-being.

Eckhart Tolle

Michael Signer

Esther Hicks

Anita Moorjani

Dr. Joe Dispenza

Matthieu Ricard

*I found this article about the origin of this quote attributed to Gandhi.

To follow the progress of this CreateSpace public art residency, please check out the list of blogs here.

Below pictures are my project site proposal to the City of Richmond:

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