Seoul Unveiling

My journey in Korea began with nothing more than curiosity. I simply followed the voice calling inside. Over time, the initial vision (March & December 2016) turned into something bigger and wilder than my imagination. 

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Sometimes, all we have an unction or feeling. It’s crazy how when we step out on that and take the risk, we watch God weave a tapestry that we couldn’t have fathomed or created with our most brilliant & strategic intentionality.
— Jeremy Riddle

My process often begins with not knowing. I may have no idea why I am stuck on or writing about a particular idea, but never halt the expression flow. Instead, I obey and let the small whispers lead me forward. Because even when I don't know, I know that He knows best. First ingredient? Trust. 

Second ingredient? Vision. For many years now, I've been fostering a vision to “connect communities through creativity." It anchors me in seasons of doubt and uncertainty. It motivates me to stay consistent in my conviction and stewardship. 

Trust and vision drives me forward. Consistency unlock connections.

Connection brings clarity. Clarity establishes purpose. 

As I stay on course, my internal connections manifest in my physical reality - with greater measures of faith and favor each time. For example, I witness the vision coming to life through my creative projects and experiences in Korea. Small yeses transformed into moments of clarity! 

As 2017 comes to an end, I’m gearing up for a new level of inspiration and creativity! Join me as I journey backwards to remember and celebrate.


On September 3, 2016, I shared my first #koreathebeautiful post:

 

Korea, you've been a beautiful journey - and I know I'm only at the mere tip of something unimaginable & grand. #koreathebeautiful

 

The inspiration came from my first elongated visit to Samcheong-dong. After exploring this neighborhood with an alluring mix of Korea’s old and new, I stepped into a greater revelation of Seoul as a city.

Ten days later, I made a website URL and Instagram account in the same name.

I had waited for the right time to share #koreathebeautiful. In the most unexpected moment, inspiration came. Things clicked and the rusty engine began working again - during an online conversation with a friend:

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2016. 09. 13 @ Gangnam-gu, Seoul

2016. 09. 13 @ Gangnam-gu, Seoul

#koreathebeautiful did not come out of the blue, but developed throughout my visits since 2014. I visited Korea for the third time in 2015 and returned with a unique understanding that was different from previous trips.

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2015.10.20

Korea 2015 was beautiful and unreal. A fight and a dream come true. Undoing and overcoming. Joyful moments and weeping like a child. Fresh perspectives and refining of old. Visions to reality and a door to wilder & bigger dreams. After all, it's my home. My motherland. My roots deep within its soil & remnants all around me.

@ Garosugil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul

So what changed in 2015? 

Before this trip, my only reach of native Koreans were my relatives. During this visit, I made my first native Korean friends (since I moved to the States in 2001.) Soon after I returned, I expressed the new revelation:

The true beauty of Korea is not the visible things
in the faces, foods, and streets,
but in its people,
who not only dream about possibilities,
but choose and run towards the higher and unseen things.

Recalling conversations with Korean entrepreneur friends eventually inspired the Doers > Dreamers series. On October 25, 2015, I shared about the idea on a blog post (and Instagram) about current inspirations. 

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"My biggest inspiration?

Doers who don't sit around in daydreams, but pull up their sleeves to make their dreams happen."

Five days later, I posted the first official Doers > Dreamers feat. Guilt Free Bakery. I wrote on Instagram

"Introducing "Doers > Dreamers: This blog post is a dream come true! Back in 2013, when PIEANA was just an idea, I dreamt of it expanding into a community platform to share stories of fellow creatives. During my recent Korea trip, I met so many amazing business owners and Lisa was one of them. When I heard Lisa's story, I immediately wanted to feature her on #pieana - and here we are!”

On December 2, 2015, I shared the second Doers > Dreamers blog. A short intro via Instagram:

“Here is the 2nd "Doers > Dreamers" post featuring @mercyjuice, a popular #juice bar in Seoul, Korea! I met its owner during my recent trip and wanted to share my experience of doing the 3 day juice #detox. I'm glad I resisted all the delicious food handed to me everyday because I'm still reaping the benefits of the #cleanse!”

Like #koreathebeautiful, Doers > Dreamers was not an overnight idea, but a product of patience and process. In 2013, I got connected to an artist community with a passion for justice - and developed an idea called “ARTICE” (short for ART+JUSTICE). On October 26, I sat in my college library and designed a mockup website for ARTICE. The idea was never shared in public and remained within the confines of my InDesign documents. However, that creative process set in motion for future projects involving stories & friendships to birth. Exactly two years later, on October 25, 2017, I launched Doers > Dreamers!

Designed by Diana Park

On the "About Us" page, I wrote: 

"It all started with a vision on a random May afternoon of 2013 in a Los Angeles apartment. I had a surge of inspiration and ideas running across my mind. I recall many words and connections surfacing on the pages of my journal. 

ART + JUSTICE + PLATFORM + COMMUNITY = ???

In October 2013, I attended a program called Justice Has Expression. During the five-day school, 20+ students of various artist backgrounds gathered to learn about injustice issues including poverty, gendercide, human trafficking, abortion, etc. We then produced relevant artworks for a public showcase at the end of the week.

Through the experience, I was immersed in a community of artist-activists. Then I returned to this idea I buried in my notebook few months before... interviewed few like-minded friends and designed a website… and began ART+(JUST)ICE = ARTICE"

Then at the brink of 2014, ARTICE inspired a New Year's resolution:

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aiming high for #2014 /

doer, not just a dreamer /

luke 1:45

One year later, I reflected on the resonance of this vision:

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my #nwyrsresolutionback in 2014

& #storyofmylife

ever since

Source: Instagram

Now, we're back in December 2017. So much happened, but I can confidently say that I’m still only at the tip of the iceberg. My shovels are at work and I’m excited to excavate what more is underneath the surface as time passes.

Getting There

I'm riding in a roller coaster going full speed. 

The Go button has been pressed for a long time and will not be released anytime soon. I feel like I'm going to fall off any moment, but I'm strapped tight into my seat. I have not yet fallen out. I'm safe and well.

As I processed Life with a friend last month, I saw this image flash in my mind. I thought I'm only inside the seat because of my ability to cling tight to the safety handles, but now realize that the hands holding on may not have been my own.

In January, I wrote:

2017 will be a year of building, maturity, and even fulfillment of year-long promises. I'm believing for the ceiling of my faith to be shattered - and rebuilt with impossible dreams and unimaginable realities. I'm preparing myself for surprises to sweep me off my feet - and fill the gaps with utmost delight and adventure. 

The first few months of 2017 glistened with excitement and favor. I jumped into the crisp, fresh pool of water presented before me. I waded onward excitedly. Perhaps too enthusiastic and less cautious about what lies beneath the waters. 

There were days my heart cried in joy from seeing my creative and professional desires manifest in real life. But there were also days I laid in my bed wide awake in ungodly hours, lost in my anxieties and aspirations. 

This year plunged from the high with a series of events that required a deep probing of my heart and confronting years-old internal processes. I'm still knee deep in journey and coming at you in the midst of shedding away and shaking off. In July, these words spilled out from that raw place:

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"True beauty comes from embracing the ugly. When we look at it - and though it hurts, 

angers & frustrates the beauty addicted heart - say 'I love you' and mean it."

 

For years, I prioritized nurturing my idealistic mind while neglecting more frequent and relevant happenings of reality. I'm learning to set aside my idealist tendencies to let the pain of reality sink in. My idealist mind keeps me going forward, but my connection to reality keeps me rooted. 

A timely surprise accompanied this awakening - and affirmed that my creative fuel has not dwindled despite the unpredicatable swirls of life.

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I've been longing for a space to freely write and found it during a trip to Chuncheon at the end of July (see #pieanachuncheon). I thought I lacked a proper space and time, but all I needed was a fresh perspective.

As soon as I returned to Seoul, I chopped off my hair. Again. For the millionth time. 

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It was my way

of 

telling myself:

 

"Hello, new

 

beginnings!"

A week later, I attended an insightful exhibition at the Seoul Museum of Art - and landed on a solution to months-long brainstorming for #pieanart.

 
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# piean A R T

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since then, I began to share about artists that I've been meeting. Interviewing artists have definitely been a highlight in the midst of the mess. They are not mere sources of inspiration. Connecting with them has been affirming my artist identity and strengthening creative vision. Here is my bit about the legendary Krzysztof Wodiczko - and his exhibition at the MMCA Seoul. If you can read Korean, see the full interview here.

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At the end of August, I finished and shared my first full-length Korean writing piece! For non-Korean speakers, it's a piece about my search of a place in Seoul as both a native and outsider. I've been writing this for months and finally found the glue to hold the scattered words together into something legible and connected (*happy tears*).

I realize this: Whenever I'm surrounded by art and connecting with people, I'm in the clear! These interactions may happen for minutes, but I can confidently say that those moments make me feel so, completely alive. I feel my heart growing and my personhood building up. 

Fast forward - we're at the tail-end of 2017.

I couldn't shake off the looming emptiness that took over after waves of sparkles and excitement. My heart is always bent on the the something more. As long as the vision I chase after is rooted in the temporary, it will always bring emptiness. Sure, the level of fulfillment I feel from writing a book will far exceed the satisfaction from completing an article. But the former measure is incomparable to my satisfaction from convictions and experiences connected to the eternal. 

I'm still searching for answers, but here are the lessons I'm learning: 

1. Recognize the value of documenting things in-between

I cherish the self-reflections, emotional turmoils and endless conversations with loved ones. Those vulnerable, painful moments fuel the productions that come after. I realize that the ultimate goal is actually not the goal itself, but the process towards the goal. 

2. Realize that worthwhile things take time

Have patience. Always easier said than done, right? I'm always wanting to partner with the New Thing at work. My ultimate desire, though, is to be known as the finisher, not the starter, of what I put my hands to. Rather than beginning so many projects, I want to record what I finished. I remind myself: I'm getting there! Worthwhile things take time. Just gotta laugh a little and enjoy life through the unveiling. 

 
You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.
— Steve Jobs
 
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