(3) Jen and John Speak - page 3

Outside Yourself

Have you ever experienced an out-of-the-body moment? Most of us envision it to be floating ghostly clouds above our earthly corpses, in dark, cold, dimly-lit rooms. Or heart-pounding dream worlds where we can fly, fall, in an endless loop that we can’t seem to escape from. My out-of-the-body experiences are more simple. Like when I’m in the bathroom, I suddenly see a tile and a corner of a towel become a house. Or when I’m driving, and get the feeling that I should turn here, and find out later I avoided an accident. It’s this connection to something beyond me. It pumps my blood, it gives me a flush rush, a hint of fear from being blinded for a while, and in the end, awe in the revelation. This connection happens more often when I’m willing to put myself out there.

Mixed media/collage signed print with verse. $40
8-1/2″ x 11″

Reading is Not School

One day my daughter started reading out loud to me. Her tiny voice made me pause and drew me in.  Time and space had stopped. It wasn’t the story, but watching her tumble with the words, eyes darting back and forth like a tennis match. I could almost see her mind roller-coasting to different places, all new to her, and exploding beyond the limits of her head. Reading is not so much about school, but about exploration, emotions, thoughts, finding peace, hope, moments that change time and space. I no longer read for those things. I read mostly for my work. Reading is child’s play. And when she reads to me, it’s like being a boy again.

Mixed media/collage signed print with verse. $40
8-1/2″ x 11″

Following Soon

The path was always there. One that I have traveled many times and now don’t think about anymore. It is one I depend on to get started on all my journeys. Lately, I’m paying much more attention to its twists, turns, cracks, dips, faults, and dangers, because others will soon follow me.  A few days ago someone commented that my son is like a mini version of me. I can see that he has picked up my strengths, but also my faults. As he follows my path, I will need to help him through the faults.

Mixed media/collage signed print with verse. $40
8-1/2″ x 11″


by Jen Fong

God designed our bodies to be used. When we fail to use this gift he’s given us, the body decays and eventually becomes useless. However there is ample opportunity to restore the body along the way with care, feeding and exercise.

The same can be said for the many talents God gives to us. It’s no accident that we can sing, or take pictures, or know how to comfort, or can cook, or any one of the myriad of things we excel at. God gave us each talent for a specific purpose, and he will give us the opportunity to use each talent we have.

It’s our responsibility, therefore, to develop our talents. To keep them in working order through frequent practice. For many opportunities will arise in which we can use those talents to fulfill our purpose and touch others. Your talents are not for you alone. They are precious and should not be wasted. For God uses these talents to touch the world.

What are your talents?

Talking Pointless

All the words spoken floated away meaningless. It moved no one. Instead a storm-Blue quietly approached. With no words, made inroads in my thoughts and carried waves of emotions. What I’ve noticed is that if I approach things by doing, my mouth automatically talks less. In the process I learn more, and find out the real reasons for whatever is happening.

Mixed media/collage signed print with verse. $40
8-1/2″ x 11″

Sucking Your Thumb

When my kids started sucking their thumbs, I quickly tried to discourage it. I gave them stuffed animals, teething toys, pacifiers, and hand towels for them to play with or suck on instead. At first I thought they were in pain, and sometimes it was teething. However, it was mostly me worrying that it would be a hard, bad habit to break and it seemed unsanitary. Now I understand that we all suck our thumbs in some form. It’s like keeping that old High school football jersey around, or talking to yourself, checking the mirror repeatedly, list making, doodling or pacing. We develop these seemingly quirky rituals because we need comfort, quiet, reassurance and direction as we confront the world. For most of us, these rituals help us develop our confidence, find peace of mind and embrace the pursuit for personal fulfillment.

Mixed media/collage signed print with verse. $40
8-1/2″ x 11″


Smile For Success

My kids are growing up so fast. I find myself trying to put their childhood in slow motion sometimes. What I’ve noticed most lately is their unbridled laughter and joy.

Recently, while doing some research for work. I found a lot of data supporting the idea that highly successful people are positive people. Even more interesting is that they were positive people before acquiring material success, and that being positive helped them become more successful. It also showed that positive people had more passion, hope and worked harder overcoming challenges.

It all boils down to how one perceives the world and the concept of gratitude. In an effort to help my kids develop this skill, I have them write down three positive things that happened during the day, and then pick one thing to explain why it was positive and/or made them happy. This also helps them practice their writing skills during the summer.

It’s only been several weeks of doing this. And I can already see positive results. I think it’s common sense: I’ve asked my kids to look for positive things in their lives and now they seek out positive and happy events. I can see how over time they will view their world through a positive filter and feel more grateful for all they have, thus feeling happier and achieving success more quickly.

What are you doing to help your children succeed? Do you think it’s a skill you can teach? Please share your thoughts. I would love to get some feedback.


Survival Instincts

By John

I grew up in some pretty tough neighborhoods in New York City. By the time I graduated Elementary school I had dodged a bank robber, gotten away from muggers, lived through a riot during a blackout, and learned how to avoid drug dealers.

When I was ready to start a family, I wanted my kids to have the perfect suburban life. And they do. From time to time, like a kid again, I share in their wonderful, safe, carefree childhood that I didn’t have. It’s a wonderful feeling to laugh, be silly and live innocently in their world.

But now, as my oldest son is about to graduate from elementary school, I wonder what kind of survival instincts he possesses. Is he ready for middle school? Still to this day, I have my spider sense to alert me to danger. I’m really good at avoiding all kinds of trouble. I know how to walk down the street and not look like an easy target, and know when and how to puff up my chest when I’m confronted by a bully. My kids are peacemakers, something that the schools have taught them and a theme that’s reinforced at home. I don’t think my kids have the spider sense to warn them of danger.

So I decided to help my kids develop some survival skills. Yet as I began to develop my plan, I couldn’t stop smiling as I visualized my kids having fun and enjoying life. I realized that my kids have many friends, possess great social skills, have good manners, are very happy and love the world. They have their own set of survival skills.

• They may not know how to get away from muggers, but they know how to make friends and respect others.

• They may not know how to dodge a bank robber, but they know how to deal with a school bully and be involved in school.

• They may not know how to puff up their chest when confronted by a bully, but they know how to do well in their classes and help with the food bank.

• They may not have a spider sense to warn them of danger, but they’re kind, caring, helpful, and as one teacher described my oldest, he’s really comfortable in his own skin.

Yes, I learned how to survive in the big bad city, but my kids are developing instincts beyond fear that give them a future to engage in a world of hope, peace and justice. And even though usually I still have a plan, its much water-downed.

What kind of survival instincts do your kids possess? And what kind of survival skills are you teaching your kids? Please share your tips and thoughts. As a parent you know you’re always looking for a better way to help your family.

Great and Now I Feel Guilty…

I am a bad mother.

As much as I love my children, there are some things that other mothers think are SO fun and are so delightful that make me want to run and hide.

Case in point, a couple of weeks ago my daughter received a letter in the mail. It was from one of her friends. It told her she was now part of the “Sticker Club” and all she needed to do was mail a pack of stickers to the girl listed on the letter, then add her own name to the letter and mail it, along with a blank copy, to 6 other friends. Within 2 weeks she would apparently receive 36 packs of stickers!

Shoot me now.

The letter sat on the hall table for a week just staring at me before my husband started badgering me about it. Pointing out the fact that good mothers had probably already gotten on the ball and sent theirs out.

What he didn’t understand was that first, I had to figure out what copies I had to make, what addresses I had to find, how many stamps I had to buy, and also run out and buy a pack of stickers. Then I had to set aside time to hand write all the addresses, make all the copies, etc.

I barely have time to wash my dishes.

I finally sucked it up and mailed out the letters with my daughter last night. She was of course clapping her hands in delight the whole time. (insert mommy guilt.) I’d also like to point out the fact that I was a week late in sending these out. Which means there will be other disappointed girls who don’t get their stickers on time.


Now I feel guilty about all the other moms we probably stressed out with this project. (If you get one and you’re reading this, I’m sorry!)

How do supermoms do it all? Because I sure can’t figure it out!

Your thoughts?

When Did I Suddenly Get Old?

This December I will turn 40. I honestly didn’t think that was that old. I feel great. I exercise more now than ever before in my life, and eat better too. I can keep up with my kids. I rock out to Just Dance 3 on the Wii with the best of them. So honestly, I think of myself as pretty young.

At least I did until I watched the Grammys the other night.

Now there are contemporary artists that I like. I work out to the Black Eyed Peas every morning. I enjoy songs from Katie Perry, Adele, etc. But I have to tell you…the majority of the performances I saw (until I finally turned it off) sounded like noise to me. Not music.

Then I saw this: http://www.buzzfeed.com/mjs538/who-is-paul-mccartney

OMG. Am I really that old???