I know I’m not alone when I say it’s been hard to stay happy. With the pandemic, rising inflation, political tension, global warming, the crises in Afghanistan, hurricanes and more, I’m bummed.

Add to that just regular burn out from being so busy for the last year and it’s no wonder I’ve been feeling withdrawn. That, and we’ve been locked down so long my introverted self has gone completely native. On top of it all, I just finished a really intense collection of poetry for Tortured Willows that raked my emotions over the coals. Summing it up, things suck right now—and it’s okay to say it.

Today I decided to take the day off and do something fun. I’ve been learning a lot about my Okinawan heritage (thanks to Tortured Willows…!) and I really wanted to set shisa by my front door. Shisa are a traditional Ryukyuan cultural artifact—you put a set at your doors to bless your house. The male has his mouth open to scare away bad luck and the female has hers closed to keep the good luck in. It’s hard to find a set in the US like I wanted, so this became my fun and mindless project for today.

I don’t have a lot of crafting things around, so I had to make do. I have a wood burning kit, some old, half dried paint and a cutting board with a split down the middle—exactly what I needed to make an over the door shisa plaque. It took me most of the day but the activity was needed. I did sneak off an answer a few emails here and there, but for the most part I let myself be mindless. And it worked. I feel charged up, and after a decent sleep, I am ready to get back to it tomorrow.

Here’s the nearly finished project. All that’s left is to seal, cut and hang. Page through to see how it progressed.

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About Angela Yuriko Smith

Angela Yuriko Smith is a third-generation Shimanchu-American and an award-winning poet, author, and publisher with over 20 years of experience in newspaper journalism. Publisher of Space & Time magazine (est. 1966), a two-time Bram Stoker Awards® Winner and HWA Mentor of the Year for 2020, she offers free classes for writers on her website.


  1. Cynthia bòyer

    You are so talented in many ways. You are like an opal with many colors peaking through creating unique beauty.


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