Monday, February 25, 2013

Journey of 1,000 Cranes (part one)

I have origami paper with me just about most of the time. I leave a stack at work, a stack at home and then I have a little plastic container filled with sheets of origami so I can fold anywhere else. I fold them when I need a little pick me up, when I'm waiting for something, when I just want to look at pretty patterned paper... just whenever.

I've frequently been asked what I plan on doing with them when I'm all done and why I started folding cranes in the first place.
The first question is easy -- I'd like to do something like this:

Origami Cranes Using Japanese Newspapers at the Crow Asian Art Museum -- Dallas, TX
Although recently I've been joking about recreating that scene in Indecent Proposal where Demi Moore is in the bed with all the money. I probably wouldn't... but it's funny to think about.

Anyway, before I get into the nitty gritty of why, it helps to understand the significance of the cranes.

The Legend of the Crane

In many Asiatic cultures, the crane is symbolic of good fortune and longevity, due to its fabled lifespan of 1,000 years. An ancient story in Japan promises that anyone who folds a thousand origami cranes, to represent each year of its life, will be granted a wish by a crane. The Japanese refer to the crane as “the bird of happiness;” the Chinese as “heavenly crane” believing they were symbols of wisdom. The powerful wings of the crane were believed to be able to convey souls up to paradise and to carry people to higher levels of spiritual enlightenment.
Over time, the crane has evolved as a favorite subject of the tradition of paper folding -- origami.

Other Notable Historic Instances of the Crane

Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes is a non-fiction children's book written by American author Eleanor Coerr and published in 1977. This true story is of a girl, Sadako Sasaki, who lived in Hiroshima at the time of the atomic bombing by the United States. She developed leukemia from the radiation and spent her time in a nursing home creating origami (folded paper) cranes in hope of making a thousand of them. She was inspired to do so by the Japanese legend that one who created a thousand origami cranes would then be granted a wish. Her wish was simply to live. However, she managed to fold only 644 cranes before she became too weak to fold any more, and died on 25th of October 1955 in the morning. Her friends and family helped finish her dream by folding the rest of the cranes, which were buried with Sadako. They also built a statue of Sadako holding a giant golden origami crane in Hiroshima Peace Park.

Now every year on Obon Day, which is a holiday in Japan to remember the departed spirits of one's ancestors, thousands of people leave paper cranes near the statue. On the statue is a plaque: "This is our cry. This is our prayer. Peace on Earth."


*Side note -- you can get it on Amazon and help out my friends' amazing charity Allison's Hope while doing so. P.S. I personally make zero dollars for suggesting that -- they're just that awesome.
I was so moved by the story. It was a dream so powerful that it connected so many people (and still does to this day) -- it's nice to have reminders that the beauty of humanity exists even amidst so much other ugliness.

For many the practice of folding 1,000 cranes represents a form of healing and hope during challenging times. That is exactly what it is for me.

Almost two years ago, I was going through a really tough time in my life. There were times where I felt like I must have cried all the tears I could have cried, and days where I felt like if I started again I would never stop. I lost a lot of weight in a short amount of time, even though I made efforts to eat... food just didn't taste as good anymore. I had many sleepless nights wondering what place I had in the world. It was scary, I couldn't see what life for myself would look like in a year, a month, even the next day. I just couldn't see it. I went to Dallas to visit my family, accompanied by two of my closest friends. My family (btw, the nice thing about what I consider "family" is that there is room for great friends to be considered "family") is fantastic. I'm super duper lucky. In the morning, we went to the art museum and I was delighted to see so many gorgeous displays. This hallway in particular inspired me.

Me at the Crow Asian Art Museum -- Dallas, TX (2011)
I decided my goal was to find ways to cultivate and enrich myself as a person. This covers all levels of growth, be it physically, emotionally or spiritually. Some days would be contemplative, other days would be about learning new things. The path to self discovery is no simple feat, as you constantly have to ask yourself the hard questions that you don’t want to answer.During dark times in my life, I am fortunate to have my wonderful family and friends by my side. In the darkness, in times where I didn't think I could find hope, people in my life showed me how much they cared by reaching their hands out to pick me up and dust myself off. As I write this, I am in another transitional period in my life. I don’t always know what to do, but somehow I find a way to get to the next day. I am extremely inspired by the people around me that love me -- words will never be enough to express what they mean to me. I, too, hope to be a shining person for them. (And later if you want, you can read my previous post to understand the shining person reference here.)

To me, it's important to truly feel and to truly express. Suppression of emotions only leads to significant problems. We can’t be ashamed of having feelings, whether they are anger, hurt, frustration, sorrow, confusion or whatever else. The important thing is that we have an outlet for those feelings in order to process them. Feeling is not weak. Neither is asking for help when it’s too tough on our own. If things aren't fine, we can’t put on our masks and say that they are. That’s not giving it our all. I'm happy to say that my outlook on life is much better than when that pic was snapped (and also that my hair looks much better now IMHO).  I'm also excited to share with you that I am at 840 origami cranes right now. I was stuck on 200 for a long time, then I was stuck around the 500-600 range for even longer, but now that I am at 840 I no longer have any doubt that I will finish. And I am really ecstatic. I feel like the closer and closer I get to 1,000 that anything is possible -- in all aspects of life. Things are achievable.

I'm at 840 -- shit is getting real.
It has been a huge exercise of patience, determination, and effort. Some of them even have inspirational quotes written on them, goals, dreams -- it really is a true reflection of hope for me.

I'll be sure to post when I finish, and show you what all I do with it. People have already asked me what I plan on doing after I finish. My journey doesn't end at 1,000 -- there's always room to keep growing. Whether it's cranes again, I'm not sure. I've been thinking butterflies would be fun to make, but we'll see. One step at a time -- gotta finish these cranes first. There will be times when things don't go well, but there are things you begin to see because things don't go well. Without darkness, the light can’t always make itself apparent. On your dark days, know that there can be light. Sometimes, you've just got to reach out your hand to the numerous amount of people who care about you and want to help you back up. Other times, you just have to make it for yourself. Either way, know that no matter what, you can do it. Life is doable.

You can view part two here.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

StampingChallenges -- SC7 (Just My Type Card)

Here is my latest sketch challenge for Stamping Challenges  (SC7 -- February 15, 2013).  

Each week create a sketch for you to try, and the challenge is for you to interpret it the way you see those elements used -- make substitutions with your creativity!

It's open to everyone, so start stamping with us today.

Here was the sketch to work from:

Here's what I did:

Want to get the materials to make this card? Visit my store:

For this card I used


Crumb cake (base)
Whisper White

Designer Series Paper:
Sycamore Street

You're My Type