Musings | Let Your Heart Be Light

 Lettering by Lillian Liming

Lettering by Lillian Liming

Let your heart be light.

When I lettered this phrase from the well-known Christmas song to share on Instagram a few weeks back, I didn't think I'd still be reflecting upon these words well into the new year. 

Maybe it's because my heart has felt more heavy than light the last several months as I maneuvered through a broken friendship, establishing my business, and as of late, some health issues. 

On top of that, where I once found light and joy in connecting/sharing on Instagram, has now become more of a burden.

I've shared my thoughts about Instagram before so I'm not going to repeat myself, but as we entered the new year, I knew something had to change. It has all just become too much. Too much noise. Too much monotony. Too much wasted time.

I've let my heart become heavy for much too long.

I contemplated quitting social media altogether, as Shanna Skidmore bravely did so for a year, but I don't think I'm ready to quit cold turkey just yet. However, like Shanna, I'm a bit of a rebel in the sense that I just don't want to be doing what everyone else is doing when it comes to social media. Not only on the business side of things, but personally, as well. 

Being self-employed and working from home can get pretty lonely - I honestly just miss everyday real-world human connections. Instagram just doesn't fill that void for me as it once did. The community aspect has gotten lost in the vast sea of non-chronological, stranger-ridden posts. 

 Camogli, Italy | Photo by Lillian Liming

Camogli, Italy | Photo by Lillian Liming

January is all about setting goals, getting organized, and decluttering. I'm on a mission to declutter my heart and fill it with joy, light, and love. I know that sounds cliché, but who says we can't Kondo our hearts? If something in your life doesn't spark joy, then thank it for its service and get rid of it, amirite? ;)

Ok, I may not go as far as getting rid of Instagram, but it's time for a refresh. As we entered 2018, more posts popped up from people/sources I respected, echoing my thoughts (see here and here -- love Jonas Ellison's writing, do check him out!). They confirmed my intention for taking a break from Instagram for an entire month, but obviously, I didn't want to leave my friends and followers hanging. Hence, this blog post -- and hopefully, more posts to come. 

I hope to be doing more connecting with you here in 2018. Thanks for following along!

PS. If you'd like to receive updates (at most 1-2 times a week) from me, feel free to subscribe to my mailing list. If you're just here for workshop updates - feel free to sign up via the pop-up form on my workshops page. Thank you!

Remember Why You Started

 Remember why you started | Lettering by Lillian Liming

Remember why you started | Lettering by Lillian Liming

Something about this time of year causes my heart to stir and grow restless. Perhaps it's because we're nearing the end of summer, or maybe it's because I just turned another year older (probably the latter) but it's always around this time of year that I begin to seek change and renewal.  

Three years ago around this time my husband and I began making preparations for our year-long stint in Taiwan. If you've been following my lettering journey from the beginning, then you know that it's during my time in Taiwan that I discovered lettering.

What you might not know is that I created this website many months before I even began lettering. This space was intended for me to share my photographs, travels, and musings about faith, food, and everything in between. Basically, it was going to be my online journal (so innovative, right?).  

But then lettering (and Instagram) happened and I forgot why I started this site. Two years have flown by - two years of lettering and calligraphy practice, two years of sporadic and hodgepodge blog posts, two years of getting to know amazing letterers via Instagram; being fully immersed in this world and little of anything else. 

Don't get me wrong, I am beyond grateful for all of the tutorials/videos/knowledge fellow letterers have freely shared so that I've been able to get to this point. I'm thankful for the friendships I've made in this community. However, being constantly immersed in this world of amazing art and styled images has become mentally/emotionally debilitating this past year. I even eluded to it in this post.

The comparison trap has been real. So real that I found/find myself struggling to be supportive of my #calligrafriends. So real that I've had to unfollow calligraphers/creatives as I constantly felt less-than; that I was always falling behind, and would never be good enough.

We all struggle with this in some way, and there's even a whole #communityovercompetition movement to combat that negativity. But as much as I try to embrace it, it became much harder and harder for me to see it that way - especially when fellow calligraphers that started around the same time (or after) have progressed and accomplished such amazing work (some on a daily basis!). 

Coupled with the fact that the Instagram algorithm has wreaked havoc on the engagement of my posts - I started to feel defeated. Not to mention, suffocated. My life is more than just lettering/calligraphy/art, so why am I posting that way on Instagram? Why am I following mostly calligraphers/artists? Why am I revolving my life around lettering for Instagram? 

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All of these questions have been swirling in my head for months and things finally came to a head this past weekend. It began with a timely email inviting me to an online Bible study (more on that in a future post), then talking things out with a friend over dinner, and finally, spending time with my family on my birthday. 

Turning 39 really makes you stop wishing/worrying/agonizing. You realize you don't have that much time to waste anymore. No time to worry about hurting people's feelings if you unfollow them. No time to agonize over why your follower count is going down instead of up. No time to seek approval/acceptance in the form of IG likes/comments*. You realize what truly matters - family, true blue friends, and a God that loves you just the way you are - warts and all.

You realize that in order to grow, you have to remember why you started.

If you've read this far, please know that I appreciate you. Thank you for following and supporting my journey even when it seems like all I post about is matcha. ;)

*To my fellow calligraphers/creatives, I'm constantly in awe of the work you put out on a daily basis - your endless creativity amazes me! While we may have initially connected over lettering, I've connected with many of you beyond that. I hope you know who you are - please know that my admiration for your work runs deeper than Instagram likes and comments. I apologize if my lack of interaction/engagement/enthusiasm inadvertently caused/causes disappointment on your end. This is not a reflection of how I feel about you but a step to preserve my mental health. My focus now is to get back to my faith - to rely on God to give me strength and confidence; to get back to a healthy mental and emotional place so that I can genuinely love and encourage others. Thank you for your understanding, and for all of your support and encouragement! 

Recipe: Matcha Mochi Cake

If you know me, (or have followed along on either of my Instagram accounts, then you know I'm a bit obsessed with matcha. At first, it was just matcha-infused sweets because I found matcha as a beverage by itself too bitter for me. That was until I recently discovered cold brew matcha. Turns out, I had been brewing matcha incorrectly all these years - using water that was boiling hot, thus burning the delicate tea powder and creating that bitter flavor. I could go on and on about how to properly brew/prepare matcha but I'll direct you to the experts so we can talk about this matcha mochi cake.

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Since I live 45 minutes outside of NYC (by train), matcha desserts are hard to come by. My sweet tooth has been hankering for one of these amazing matcha treats and as much as I'd love to - I can't justify spending that time and money trekking into the city just for matcha desserts. I'm obsessed but not that obsessed.

So, I remedied the situation by baking my own treat - a lightly sweet, and chewy matcha mochi cake. I've made this cake many times before - back in my food blogging days when I had much more patience for baking. But, this time I made it dairy-free as I've been trying to avoid milk due to my lactose intolerance (boo...). I substituted coconut oil for the butter - Trader Joe's now has a triple filtered version that has no coconut flavor at all. But if you enjoy the flavor/aroma of coconut, feel free to use it! And instead of whole milk, I used cashew milk (I've been loving the cashew milk by Forager Project lately).

If you can tolerate dairy, I recommend making the original version first.

I wasn't sure how the cake would bake/taste using these substitutions but I was pleasantly surprised with the results! Obviously, the cake isn't as fragrant and rich as the dairy-filled version but it was still satisfying. My favorite part are the chewy edges. If I were to bake it again, I would up the matcha powder to two tablespoons or use a higher quality for a stronger matcha flavor. 

Let me know if you decide to try this recipe - I'd love to know what you think!

PS. Yes, I did create the lettering for these images - actually, they are my handwriting and lettering turned into fonts. Makes life so much easier. ;) Click on each image to enlarge or pin them for later!

Matcha Mochi Cake

Yield: 1 8x8-inch pan , or 16 2-inch squares

Matcha powder and Mochiko rice flour can usually be found at an Asian grocery store or ordered online. 

The original recipe makes double the amount of this recipe and is baked in a 9x13 inch pan for 60 minutes so if you're feeding a larger crowd feel free to double this recipe. 

Ingredients:

8 oz (half a box) Mochiko (sweet rice flour)
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1 1/2 tablespoon matcha green tea powder
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter OR coconut oil, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup whole milk (I used cashew milk, and have also used coconut milk but I wouldn't recommend almond milk unless it's homemade)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8x8-inch pan with butter.

In a medium bowl, whisk together rice flour, baking powder, salt and matcha powder. Set aside.

In another bowl, beat the butter/coconut oil and sugar with a mixer or whisk until creamy. Stir in milk and vanilla, then add eggs. Gradually add the rice flour mixture and mix until well-combined.

Spread batter evenly into prepared ban. 

Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of cake comes out clean. The cake will brown around the edges and pull away from the sides of the pan. Let cool completely before cutting into squares.

Source: adapted from Sweets by Sillianah, via Kirbie's Cravings