Friday, September 23, 2016

Naked / 赤裸裸


Is kind of hard to learn, but it's liberating as soon as you let go of all concerns.

Sunday, September 18, 2016



I hadn't logged onto Postcrossing for long. However, to demonstrate how to use the website to my new kids, I purposefully pressed "send a postcard" the other day. But my procrastination made me feel very guilty as time went by. 


My addressee is a Russian lady who inspired me to base my postcard on the concept of a Russian doll. Well, I felt a great sense of relief after drawing the postcard, and better yet, I discovered the beauty of a biro pen! 

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Truth / 真理


My body says, "You live only to forget that sleep is the basis of everything!"

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Rainy park / 下雨的公園


After a long evening walk in Da-an park, the trees tell me, "Leave your hard feelings here as our fertilizer." They also send a very interesting foreign gentleman to talk about the birds in the tree with me. Miraculously, my wound is thus healed. 

Thursday, September 08, 2016



This has been a year filled with anxiety. Fortunately, I managed to slow down before turning 40 and retrieved the poise I so desperately longed for. 


Caterina asked me in the birthday card what I'd like to give myself as a birthday gift. My answer is "a slow pace." On the way to work today, I neither ran nor rushed. Upon seeing a beautiful smoking lady, I didn't hesitate to stop and sketch her. 


A super big cake was waiting for me when I stepped into the classroom this morning. I learned to accept the new girls' love without feeling shy. Today my heart is as wide as the ocean. 


Though I gave myself the luxurious birthday gift of traveling to Austria in summer, I didn't really know what it means to be nice to myself until recently. For the time being, I let go of some goals. I will begin again and focus on one thing at a time, which is the only way I know to my dreams. 


Forty is a very beautiful age. When I look ahead, I see some opportunities. Now I am going to move forward slowly...

Sunday, September 04, 2016

with the sun and the moon / 日月的懷抱


I travel to Sun-moon Lake to relax. Nature says to me, "There's something to learn in every moment, but you have to look and listen calmly..." 

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Treat me nice / 溫柔地 對待自己


I still have so many goals in my mind on the day before the new semester starts. However, I am aware that there's something bigger: I need to undergo some essential rituals to bid farewell to the past and adjust my pace first. 


A few days ago I learned of the tragic news that my colleague Chia-yi passed away earlier this month.  Her death has had a huge impact on me because somehow in her, I saw myself. Surprisingly, her funeral transformed my sadness into strength. More importantly, I am reminded to rethink seriously about my life. In the past months, I've given myself much pressure. Even though my body can't take it, I still dismiss this problem. I feel that Chia-yi is telling me to let go of some things and to take it slow. 

小智的檸檬 / Chi's lemon 


I am surrounded by new people and new objects at this point of life, but before putting away the old journal, I thumb through the record of the past few months. Apart from frustrations, there are also some moments of love. After all, beautiful moments don't always have to be shiny. 

還是忘不了爸爸在機場揮手的身影 / Dad's waving goodbye in the airport


As we all know, when we focus too much on details, we lose sight of the big picture. We have to be reminded to take a step back and get a perspective constantly. 


It's ok that we can't find the answer sometimes. 


I do lose that peaceful feeling sometimes, but fortunately, the evening walk always calms me down. 


Spring will come again. 


One day in mid-June, Chia-yi accidentally told me that she found my blog, and then she began to chat with me about life and illness. We didn't have that much interaction, but she has left such a deep impression on me. Before the new semester begins, I want to send my best wishes to her and to myself! 

Monday, August 15, 2016

Sketches of Austria 2 / 奧地利速寫 2


Woods and lakes 

多瑙河河畔‧維也納 / Donau River, Vienna


The most fascinating scenery in summery Vienna can be found along the Donau riverbanks. People sunbathe, swim, or hike along the trails. Every time when I feel lost or fidgety, I will retrieve my inner peace there. 

多瑙河河畔‧維也納 / Donau River, Vienna


I love the spot so much that before going home, I sketch again in the same place. For me, the place is my definition of Vienna. 

羅保國家公園‧維也納 / the Lobau, Vienna 


This place is the highlight of my trip. I planned to go hiking in the Lobau, but I fail to find the hiking trail. However, my lack of sense of direction leads me into this nude sunbathing area. I am really shocked in the beginning, but I do think seriously if I should take my clothing off. In the end, my discreet Asian personalities kill the desire to take such a bold step. I sit there covered from head to toe, thanking Wieners for being so magnanimous with me. 


Yet, the visit makes me think about the body. People who go nude sunbathing don't have the most beautiful bodies in the world, but they are so ok with being naked. I hope one day I can liberate myself from all the pointless concerns and restraints. 


As a matter of fact, Austrians, in my eyes, are polite and reserved, so if they don't find nude sunbathing outrageous, I have a good reason to open up too. Well, the trip to the Lobau is probably the most thought-provoking experience this summer. 

維也納大學‧維也納 / Vienna University, Vienna 


Wherever there are lush shades, there are people taking a break under the thick foliage. The university campus during summer break is serene and relaxing. 

市中心草地上 / on the lawn near Volksgarten 


Often I am amazed that tourists gather in a certain area. Beyond an invisible line, no matter how close, no tourist is seen. This is the lawn near the exit of Volkstheater metro station, which leads to all the major museums and tourist spots right in the center of the city, but I only see the locals coming here either for walking dogs or taking a nap at noon. 

哈修塔特 / Hallstatt


Hallstatt, the renowned town along the lake, is packed with visitors. My toughest challenge is to find a quiet corner as streams of people keep flowing by. However, the miracle does exist. There is always a spot where I can draw without being exposed to the sun--that is the bench under the shade of some trees on the lakeshore. 

哈修塔特 / Hallstatt


As I draw, raindrops start to fall. Surprisingly, I can hold an umbrella and keep sketching in the rain. People taking shelter next to me cannot help smiling at me. I bet they must find me incredible.


But truth be told, I have to go after it rains for about ten minutes. Actually I go back to draw again after the rain stops. 

哈修塔特 / Hallstatt 


When I can't bear the crowds anymore, I take the ferry to the other shore. There, apart from the train passengers, my only companions are the bees and the beautiful lady that rows alone on the lake. 



格拉茲 / Graz 


In the super sunny morning, I do not feel heat in a shady corner in Kaiser-Josef Markt. Now,  I miss most the slow pace of life there very much. 


the zoo 

Schönbrunn Zoo, Vienna / 美泉宮動物園‧維也納


I envy these kids very much. They do nothing beside preening their feathers. I love the empty look in their eyes as they stare off into the distance. What a simple life! 

Friday, August 05, 2016

Sketches of Austria 1 / 奧地利速寫 1




Hunderwasser Village in Vienna


I tend to feel confused and lost when I first arrive in a new city. I am tempted to visit renowned tourist spots, but I fear crowds of tourists. 


The rich colors and curvy lines of Hunderwasser Village so remind me of Barcelona, but it's only the size of a small block. Fortunately, tourists gather only within the block. I find by accident that around the corner, there are only local residents passing by from time to time as I am sketching. 


My paper is pricey watercolor paper, but I feel like using only black and white, which is one of the answers I've got from the trip. 

Ottakring 地鐵站出口‧維也納

Ottakring metro station, Vienna 


I travel in Austria for sixteen days. During the last few days, I feel that I've had enough of traveling. I come to the conclusion that I shouldn't visit tourist attractions anymore. One day, I discover the community near the Ottakring metro station on my way to the woods. Vegetable and fruit stands line the plaza right outside the station. There, the locals come and go, and my radar tells me that this is the perfect place for sketching. So on the last day of my trip, I spend the whole morning sitting in the shade to draw. 


That day, I feel the changes of light and shadows, what Austrians are like, and how people live. Best of all, I have the opportunities to interact with others. Though I don't speak German, I find smiles and thank-you are more than enough. 


Early in the afternoon, a couple of street performers mark the end of the trip for me with their modern ballads. It's so beautiful that I am totally moved. What a perfect way to say goodbye to Vienna! 


St. Wolfgang 


St. Wolfgang is a holiday resort in the lake areas. I dreamed of taking long walks around the lake and hiking in the hills, but during my visit, it hardly stops raining. I can't help but focus on staying away from the cold and the rain. 


As I shiver in the cold rain, the long benches on the plaza catch my attention. Sitting there to draw is the best way to kill time. Then I realize it's actually the meeting point of many tourist groups. It's fun that tourists speaking different languages gather near me and sometimes make their own comments on my drawings. For example, one of the French tourists suggests that I add some people inside the windows. I LOVE the idea since I feel quite lonely at that moment. I feel soothed after drawing some imaginary friends who actually desire to come to play with me in the rain. 


Next come two Taiwanese tourist groups. As the tour guides introduce the buildings, I realize that the building on the left side in the first picture is the most famous hotel in St. Wolfgang: Weissen Rossl! 


My trip is casual to such a degree that some people might be shocked, but the truth is, I have numerous amazing discoveries! 


bird's-eye view from Museum of Modern Art, Salzburg


Salzburg is small yet compact, but it still takes me three hours to attempt to draw all the buildings. (If you look carefully, you'll find I've missed some.) 


When I finish the sketch, I tell myself, "Now the city can be proud of me!" 


Gästehaus im Priesterseminar, Salzburg


When I would like to take a break from traveling, I sketch in my hotel room. The little black cat is as lonely as me, but the truth is, he has many mysterious friends. 


along Salzach, Salzburg 


Only when I remember to stay away from tourist attractions do I really get to see a city as it is. The last morning when I am about to leave, the weather finally clears up. I sit and sketch along Salzach as the locals jog or bike by in front of me. What a peaceful end! 


To be continued ...

Friday, July 29, 2016

If I am lonely, / 如果我感到寂寞,


it must be that I forget to take out my sketchbook. 






The significance of this trip: 

I went to Austria alone this summer. Desiring some change, I chose not to use my beloved Moleskine journal. Instead, I went for single sheets of watercolor paper. Also, desperate for the sense of safety that only writing can give me, I brought along a really convenient and inexpensive journal of MUJI, which greatly soothed me along the way. 

I told others, "This is a safe trip." Instead of emphasizing personal safety, I focus more on the meaning that there weren't great adventures, but on the other hand, it was very relaxing, which I needed at the moment. Meanwhile, I got to look back on my life in Europe before. One friend said this was a very "deep" journey. Yes, it was. 

I stayed in several small rooms in different cities, but they always felt kind of dejavu to me. I couldn't ask myself, "What did I come back here for? What difference do I feel now compared with four years ago?"



大太陽底下,躲在Sisi Museum有陰影的大門後面畫著不確定的線條,打掃的阿姨說我的腳不能放在大理石上。

My place in the new city: 

I was defining the significance of my trip in my life inside the hotel room. When I walked out of the hotel, I was looking for my niche in this city. It was especially challenging when I knew that I was just one of the tourists, but I wanted to prove my difference so much. 

Before I found the answer, I hid in the shade behind the door of Sisi Museum. My lines were indefinite, and I had no idea what I was doing. The cleaning lady said I should put my legs down the marble ledge, but I could sit there drawing. 


It was distracting to bring so many sorts of media with me. I had to choose between the journal book and sheets of paper. And of course, there was the scorching sunshine to worry about. I found myself so busy that I really envied the big guy in the Schoenbrunn Zoo. 




Sightseeing or sketching? 

The purchase of a package with one ticket could blind me. To visit as many museums as possible, I would persuade myself that I had no time to sketch, so I ran around like a madman under the sun. Much as I had learned, I couldn't help feeling kind of empty. 

I would go back to the same spot to make up for the view that I had missed. I realized that only when I sit down to draw peacefully will I feel cool breezes. 




About loneliness: 

The day when I left Vienna, the weather took a downturn. The moment when I pulled my gigantic luggage out of the hotel, I thought to myself, "Well, at least now I don't feel lonely, if I have to list a difference from the past." Interestingly, as if to prove I was wrong, within a few hours, God bestowed the big gift on me.  

On my way from Vienna to Graz, I felt more and more lonely despite the lovely scenery. 




A crisis is also a turning point: 

I feel especially lonely when I change hotels. Right when I feel used to one little room, I have to adapt to another room. It feels bleak. It came as a blow when I found that I didn't have an adaptor with me. "How can I stay in contact with the world I know without my iPad?" 




Live at the moment when you travel: 

Others envy me for my holidays, for my courage to travel alone, but truth be told, there was a lot going on inside of me. Fortunately, I always manage to find an answer: If I feel lonely, it must be that I forget to take out my sketchbook. 

That Sunday in Graz, tourists all left for somewhere else, most shops were closed, yet I found my most loyal partner--my sketchbook. 


I sketched while waiting for the bus, while taking the bus. 


While walking in the city. 


While encountering artworks that I really adore.


Until I found a perfect spot for sketching. Then the passer-by would tell me, "You have a special record of the trip." I went on to say, "And a very calm feeling." 



There's no need to give everything meaning: 

I learned not to give everything or every picture meaning. New understanding will arise from pure observation. 

Bad Mitterndorf



Be prepared for change all the time: 

I was sketching while waiting for the train in the quiet countryside only to find that the train wouldn't come. However, the shuttle bus came after I finished a sketch. 

St. Wolfgang



It's a must to sit in a cafe on rainy days: 

Traveling is more than moving around... 


I had to stop drawing in the journal at this point because not many pages were left for my text record. I actually brought paints and colored pens with me, but to my surprise, I ended up drawing in black and white. That was what I hadn't expected beforehand!