Tag Archives: spiritual

“I am done being small” – Interview with Stephanie Vivian Yu

Stephanie Vivian Yu is a multi-talented artist who practices simplicity in art and life. Today she talks about her reason for wearing the same color every day, defining her own success, and the best advice she’s ever received.

Photo provided by and used with permission from Stephanie Vivian Yu - December 2, 2015, during a 90 minute performance titled "A series of movements and postures for self love." - Caption credit: Stephanie via @I_see_Yu on Instagram, Photo credit: @smilerrose via Instagram

Photo provided by and used with permission from Stephanie Vivian Yu – December 2, 2015, during a 90 minute performance titled “A series of movements and postures for self love.” – Caption credit: Stephanie via Instagram (@I_See_Yu), Photo credit: Sarah Saaristo via Instagram (@smilerrose)

Name and blog: Stephanie Vivian Yu

Fun fact about you:
I am a first generation American born Chinese. I’ve only been to China once, but I’ve visited Taiwan a dozen times. I feel at home in all these places.

Funner fact: 
I’ve worn red consecutively for 180 days. It began as a performance assignment. Does performing red change how I view myself? Does it empower me? Does it make me uncomfortable? I noticed that I felt very naked and vulnerable for the first month. It was painful to look in the mirror and to see the bright red reflecting back at me. After a month I started feeling at home in red. It matched my desire to be seen and to be powerful. As a minority I have been taught by our culture to remain silent, invisible, and passive. I am done being small.

Funnest fact:
I am highly intuitive. Sometimes it can be a burden to know so much about others. It’s like being able to read minds. I’ve learned to give people their privacy without denying my intuitive super powers. It just means I get to grow my ability to hold pain.

What do you think has been essential to your success so far as a photographer?
What’s been essential in my success as a photographer and artist is that I’ve learned to define my own terms for success. I’ve decided that success is simply continuing to make art despite the disinterest and rejection coming from external forces. This could be culture, friends, family, the “art world.” I remind myself daily to value the practice of making art, while seeing it as a gift to myself and to the world. 

What was something that surprised you about photography?
Photography surprises me because it is a magical instrument that transforms the mundane moments in life into otherworldly or spiritual encounters. I never know what I will get when I click the shutter. Sometimes the most appealing shots come out flat, while the most mundane gesture or landscape becomes Holy.

If you had to describe your blog in 6 words or less, what would you say?
Space for silenced voices to be heard.

Who or what inspires you?
Anyone who takes risks in life to remain true to their values. My mom is my first inspiration. She emigrated from Taiwan to New Mexico at 26 with a suitcase and some change. She met my dad in grad school and eloped in Vegas after three months of dating. She came from a very poor family and always had to borrow money from vendors, neighbors, and friends. She decided that she never wanted to owe anyone anything if she could help it. She works hard and makes sacrifices to have the life she wants. Her accounting business has provided so much for my family. But most of all I am inspired by her humility and simplicity. She will never look down on anyone who has less materially. She will only encourage and admonish.

What is your all-time favorite bucket list item (of yours or someone else’s)?
To live simply and to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord in all that I do and all that I am. I want to commune with God in every moment, from standing in natural wonders like Arches in Utah, to sitting and reading with a cup of tea on a Tuesday afternoon.

If you aren’t doing anything related to your photography, what are you doing in your free time?
Reading, absorbing, looking at art

Having coffee with my creative and courageous girlfriends. Talking to my mom and crying about how hard it is to adult.

Swiping left on Tinder, and rolling my eyes

Working on changing my attitude about dating

Plotting my next adventure

Eating at some gluten-free, vegan restaurant

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Make a decision and don’t look back. Keep going. Be courageous. Fail better.

Readers: Join me in thanking Stephanie for sharing her time, stories, and advice with us! If you want to learn more about her, check out her blog and Instagram.

Want more interviews like this? Leave a comment and let me know who you would like to see featured, and be sure to sign up to stay updated on all the latest posts!

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“My writing is an expression of what I do with my life” – Interview with Ashish Joy

Today’s interview is with Ashish Joy, an author, father, and youth pastor in Portland, Oregon. He shares his thoughts on writing (and the key to achieving a big goal), why people in general inspire him, and the best advice he’s ever received.

Ashish Joy and his family

Photo provided by Ashish Joy – used with permission

Name and website: Ashish Joy

Fun fact about you:
I can tell you the make and model of 90% of cars on the road by memory (random I know, but something I picked up when I was a kid)

Funner fact:
I studied Computer Science for two years in college, before I made the switch to theology and pastoral ministry

Funnest fact:
I am a youth pastor who never thought I’d become a youth pastor. In Bible college, I was the last person you would expect to become a youth pastor.

What do you think has been essential to your success as an author?
My writing is an expression of what I do with my life. Whatever I write has to pass through me first. I write as a flawed human, changed by grace, and on the journey of continual growth. It has to be in me first, before I can preach, teach or write. My last book and even the one I’m currently working on, were birthed out of personal growth moments for me. I’m not really sure if that’s a recipe for success, but I know it lets me write with integrity and humility.

What was something that surprised you about writing?
How incredibly hard and deceptively easy it is… let me explain. When you look at a project it can seem overwhelming and gargantuan. If you stay there, you’ll probably never start anything. But then, when you look at the little pieces, and that it’s simply just you taking disciplined, focused time as often as possible, then the project doesn’t seem as hard. So writing is scary in that it can seem massive and impossible, but if you can switch your perspective, it’s also small baby steps that are very possible.

If you had to describe your latest project in 6 words or less, what would you say?
What does following Jesus look like? (a book I’m working on called Unfamiliar Territory)

Who or what inspires you?
People inspire me. I look at the obstacles and struggles that people all around me go through. The fact that people keep at it, overcome the worst life has to offer, and somehow find meaning and fulfillment. I am inspired by authentic people, who are at home in their vulnerability, but fearless in their tenacity to be more.

What is your all-time favorite bucket list item (of yours or someone else’s)?
Haha… I’d love to go sky diving, but I’m deathly afraid of heights, so not sure when this would ever happen.

If you aren’t doing anything related to writing, what are you doing in your free time?
Hanging with my family… my son Brennan is 2 years old, he’s so much fun. Play time with him is a highlight for me. We also just had baby girl. Her name is Adeline and she is so much fun.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Don’t be so serious about life. Laugh at yourself, have fun, and be okay with pausing and enjoying life for what it is.

Readers: Join me in thanking Ashish for sharing his time, stories, and advice with us! If you want to learn more about him, check out his website, which also has his links to the usual social media sites.

Want more interviews like this? Leave a comment and let me know who you would like to see featured, and be sure to sign up to stay updated on all the latest posts!

Everyone Has a Story: Janet Kronbach

Today’s mini-interview is with Janet Kronbach. Read below as she tells us about some of her dreams, the discipline she’s found to be helpful, and the thing she’ll never cross off her bucket list.

Janet with her husband, Dave, at Kapellbrücke in Switzerland - Photo provided by Janet Kronbach and used with permission

Janet with her husband, Dave, at Kapellbrücke in Switzerland – Photo provided by Janet Kronbach and used with permission

What is one of your dreams for your life?
Colorful, creative, connected living. Showing hospitality to others and inviting them to tell and process their own story, using art, nature, sound and movement. That “ah-ha” moment when someone gains personal insight and perspective, as they are telling their own story, brings me a lot of joy and satisfaction!

What is something on your bucket list?
Hmmm… I feel like I’m living my bucket list. I’ve lived in Africa, Asia and we just moved to Europe, where we are settling into life in Budapest, Hungary. I am drawn to the beauty of water, so I’d love to explore Croatia, the land of 1000 islands! 🙂 Something I will never cross off of my bucket list, but which is always a pursuit for me, is my spiritual journey, understanding my own story in light of God’s story. It seems there are always new perspectives and areas to discover on that spiritual journey! That delights and challenges me!

What is the best advice you ever received?
“I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.” This wise advice, from Saint Paul (in Philippians) is right in line with Appreciative Inquiry. Or rather, I guess that Appreciative Inquiry (AI), or the discipline of positive change, is in line with Paul! AI suggests that, rather than trying to “fix” what isn’t working in our lives, that we pay attention to those things which inspire positive and uplifting thoughts… that we focus on the best, on what is working well, and… build on that! I’ve found this discipline helpful, especially when I’m tempted to get mired down in the sorrowful places in my life.

“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Pretty good advice!

Thanks for sharing your time and story with us, Janet!

Readers: Do you want to be interviewed, or do you know someone I should ask for an interview? Let me know.

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