New Things in the New Mulan

Over the weekend I sat down to watch the new live action Mulan on Disney+.

There were two things I liked about the remake. One was referencing qi, and the other was additional character of Xianniang, the shape shifting witch.

What interested me most about the film was how it incorporated qi (ch’i), a principal used in many Asian belief systems that is described as a vital force forming part of any living entity.

As someone who’s interested in spirituality and exploring similarities and differences between belief systems of other cultures, I was excited that a mainstream film used it as part of the story to explain what makes Mulan, Mulan.

However, I think they could have gone deeper into explaining it, or how Mulan connects to it spiritually, instead of just physically with her fighting moves.

It felt like they were too busy trying to make sure they hit all the same plot points as the animated film, rather than exploring this new aspect to Mulan’s character they added in and what it means to her.

As an example of what I’m looking for, in Avatar: the Last Airbender, there’s an episode that shows Aang learning how to connect to the Avatar state by unblocking his chakras. Chakras are another spiritual principal that is used to help someone connect to their energy force. The episode does well in explaining what chakras are and what Aang has to do for each one in order to unblock it.

I understand that a film can’t spend thirty minutes on explaining a whole new belief system, but there could have been a way from them to explain it better, and have us get to know Mulan in a way we’ve never seen before.

The second new thing I liked about the movie was Xianniang. If you remember in the animated film, Shan Yu had a pet falcon that acted like his eyes and ears. In the live-action, Xianniang replaces the falcon as a witch who can shape shift and works along side with Khan.

I love that Xianniang was meant to be Mulan’s dark counterpart. They both have powers that they’ve developed by remaining true to themselves, but have been judged and shunned by others when they use them.

This is why I wished they showed Mulan connecting to her qi in a more spiritual way, so that we can see how it compares and contrasts to Xianniang.

Obviously Xianniang has accepted who she is already, while Mulan is just learning how and what that means. But what choices did she make to get her to where she’s at? And how do those differ to Mulan’s choices?

Again, I felt like the issue was the pressure of hitting those same plot points as the animated film. It didn’t feel like there was room to explore this new character and what qi means to her.

At it’s core, the story of Mulan is about a young woman being true to herself in order to fight for what she believes in. I think adding the concept of qi and the character of Xianniang would have deepened the theme and made the live action more satisfying, if they were given more time to breath.

And I’m going to say it, I don’t think we need Mushu and the songs to fully enjoy the retelling of this story.

What did you think of the new Mulan? Are you looking forward to any more of the live action films? The Little Mermaid is the next one for me!

Happy New Year 2021!

Phew! We made it! What a relief to have a clean slate.

And a clean slate means another list of New Years resolutions.

I’ve read some posts on social media talking about not making any resolutions for this year in order to not pressure ourselves into a feeling of always needing to accomplish something, always needing to show that we’re doing something productive.

Especially with what happened in 2020, I’m sure a lot of people had to scrap some resolutions and goals they were looking forward to. I know I had to.

While I get that sentiment, I think it’s important to create resolutions and goals that are true to yourself, and not ones you think will capture the most attention from your friends or followers.

I also think that it’s important to allow ourselves grace in times when we lose sight of our goals. Grace is important so that we can give ourselves permission to come back and try again. That’s something I’ve learned year by year, with each resolution I come up with, and definitely in 2020.

And I used to be someone who didn’t like setting goals, for the fear of being disappointed in myself for not completing them.

But now that I am a person who sets goals, a few goals that I have this year are:

  • Make time for self-reflection by journaling on my current feelings at least once a month.
  • At work, problem solving for myself and use what I’ve learned before asking for guidance.
  • Make appointments with all my health professionals for routine check-ups.
  • Meditate a few times a week.

Overall, with these goals, and the others I have, I want to work towards the best version of myself. It also helps to know where I want to be in 5-10 years, so that I can create yearly goals that help me form habits to get there.

Have you made any New Year resolutions for 2021? It’s never to late to start!

Favorite Books of 2020

As a fan of books and reading, I decided to round up my favorite books I read in 2020. Maybe I can inspire your reading for next year!

Here’s my list:

Macho! By Victor Villaseñor:

I talked about this book earlier this year in my post, Brown Reflections. It’s still one of my favorites of the year and should really be read in school, at least in California.

Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler:

I heard about Octavia Butler earlier this year and couldn’t wait to read one of her books, especially since I realized I haven’t read too many sci-fi books by Black authors. Plus, she’s from Pasadena, CA. This one hit maybe too close to home, especially with what has happened this year, but it was really good.

Mexican Gothic by Silvana Moreno-Garcia:

I absolutely could not put this book down… but I forced myself to because I wanted to savor every scene in it. It was perfect from beginning to end and so satisfyingly horrific. Unexpectedly, I also was able to relate my ancestry to the setting of the book. Needless to say, I can’t wait to read another book by this author. I also picked up Gods of Jade and Shadow, which will be my next read.

Women Who Run With the Wolves by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes

To be honest, I haven’t finished this book yet, but I can already say, this is a MUST READ. It’s a book that dissects fairy tales and myths to show how a women’s spirit and soul can flourish and what prevents it from living it’s full potential. I’m surprised by how many tales I’m familiar with so far, and can also relate to a lot of what she analyzes. This is unlike any spiritual book I’ve ever read. I highly recommend.

Did you discover any new favorite books this year? Are there any books you’re looking forward to reading next year?

Planning for 2021

It’s the last month of 2020! How are we here already? Something tells me I shouldn’t be surprised, based off how the rest of this year went.

Anyway, a new year also means a new planner! For the past 4 and a half years, I’ve been using a bullet journal. I use it mostly to write about what happened during the day, keep track of appointments, habits and ideas.

If you’ve delved into the planner world, you know that the thing about bullet journaling is you use a blank notebook to set up your planner/journal your own way. And you can change it as you go to what works best for you.

One search on YouTube will bombard you with a million monthly calendar spreads, weekly spreads and habit tracker ideas.

A popular thing to do is create a theme for each month. I generally make my bullet journal this way, with a kind of scrapbook-y vibe to it.

While I love tapping into my creativity to create these themes and journaling spreads, after four years, it’s getting hard to come up with new themes and new ways to use my washi tapes.

I’m bullet journal burned out.

So this year, I’m going to use a pre-planned journal! I’m nervous and excited.

An instagram ad marked me with this Moon Planner and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. It helps you plan your year and take action using the phases of the moon and the zodiac.

I know, sounds kind of out there. But who knows, maybe it’ll help me achieve some goals I have by next Capricorn season?

Anyway, I like that it’s a planner and workbook at the same time. There’s a lot of writing space to work with. And I’m looking forward to using fun colored pens in this planner and maybe I’ll break out some washi tape to decorate. The planner is mostly in black and white, so any pop of color will be fun.

What do you use to plan your year and keep track of your goals? Or do you like it wing it?