Inspired Event: common ground’s July 5th “Perspectives” show

common ground would like to invite you and everyone you know to our July 5th “Perspectives” show. We’d love to hear your perspective, so please come join us for an evening of music, poetry, spoken word, film, youth awesomeness, and community love.



Vietnamese International Film Festival // community spotlight

DJ nPrevail // guest DJ

Yuki Akaishi // guitar and vocals

Siwaraya Rochanahusdin // poetry

Audrey Kuo // spoken word

Hatefas Yop // youth spotlight


Doors open at 6:30pm
Open Mic sign ups start at 6:30pm and end at 7pm. We have limited open mic space so come early to sign up.
Show starts at 7:30pm.

Questions? Interested in volunteering? Contact us!

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We hope to see you there!


Inspired Reading: Tuesday Night Cafe on May 15th!

I will be performing some of my poetry at an awesome community open mic space in Little Tokyo called Tuesday Night Cafe on Tuesday, May 15th.  Please come out and support the artists, if you’re free!


Tuesday Night Project presents:

The 1st & 3rd Tuesday Night Cafe
May 15, 2012

Hosted by: Johneric Concordia

Guest DJ: Sessions LA DJs


– Dan Kwong

– Sandy Phan

– PK


– Visual Communications (presenting a special selection of short films from past LA Asian Pacific Film Festivals)

– Goh Nakamura

Featured Live Artist:
Collin Tateishi

Featured Vendor:
Cha Cha Covers

Featured Organization:
Little Tokyo Service Center

Open Mic sign-ups at 6:45pm

Live broadcast begins at 7:30 PM at:


Parking is available across the street at the Aiso Street Parking Lot!
$3 Flat Rate after 5pm


Join us at the official afterparty:

MidTones at Nirvana Bar


For more info:

Inspired Challenge: A Poem a Day

April is National Poetry Month! Poetry has been a part of my life for 20 years. I can’t even begin to describe how grateful I am to be able to write poetry and have the privilege of hearing/reading/witnessing others’ poetry. So I am going to take up the challenge of writing a poem a day.

Here’s my first poem of the month:

Poetry probes and reveals
hidden hurts and unheeded hungers.
Poetry connects and heals
seeking souls and kindred strangers.

Poetry inspires,
answering desire
with luscious languages
and voracious voices.

Poetry rejoices.
Poetry renews.
Poetry amuses,
grants sight anew.

Oh Poetry,
I honor thee.

Inspired Beginnings: Ringing in the New Year

Another year has begun, and I sit here wondering whether I should start a list of New Year’s resolutions. We all know how it goes. You formulate your plan for self-improvement, put it in writing, and commit yourself to implementing these changes. It is a new year and the start of a new–and better–you. Skip forward a few weeks or months (some of us are slower to adapt than others), and by the time you’ve gotten used to signing checks and documents with the current year, you’ve misplaced your resolutions and your sense of self-empowerment. Old habits have crept back into your daily life. You forgo that workout to squeeze in more work or more of your favorite TV show. You lapse into the fallback position of “I can’t” and “It won’t make a difference.” And the new year has merely become another year in which you continue to put off the things most important to you because of fear or laziness.

But that is a depressing way to look at it!

So on the first day of 2012, I am revising my outlook. I’m looking back at 2011 and patting myself on the back for all of the progress I made in my personal and professional life. Thinking back on all of these accomplishments inspires me to continue taking small steps towards a truer me. Notice I didn’t say “better” me. Language is powerful. The expectations associated with “better,” “improvement,” and “resolution” just paralyze me. So this year, I am going to approach the new year by asking myself the following questions before every major and minor decision that I make:

  • Will this help me live without regret?
  • Is this what I truly want?
  • Does this inspire me or bring inspiration to others?
  • If the world really ends on December 21st, 2012, as doomsday prophecies predict, will I have spent this year with the people I love most, doing the things I love most?

I am going to spend 2012 writing more, imagining more, learning more from my nieces and nephews, and being more inspired. I hope that you give yourself credit for everything you’ve done and attempted to do in 2011. And I look forward to taking steps together in the new year for a healthier, happier, more creative you, me, and community. Happy new year!

Inspiration Shot: Inspired Beginnings (a poem)

A newborn babe
just brings you back to basics,
simply to the source
of Nature’s course
in love and care,
where tiny toes trip up your heart
and make you start living
and stop tripping
over puffed up passions and prickly pride.
A wondrous ride
through newborn eyes
sets purpose straight
and perfect plans defies.

SandyInspired comments: My sister recently gave birth to the most beautiful boy I have ever seen and held (of course, I’m completely biased). His tiny body and every new expression across his perfect face are miracles that I could sit and watch all day. There’s something about meeting a newborn human who behaves almost entirely out of instinct that makes you stop and think about what you waste your time stressing over. Yes, bills must be paid and responsibilities performed, but let’s not miss a moment of life unfolding all around us. Let babies, the start of a new day, a blank page, a cup of coffee–any new beginning–inspire you!

Inspiration for Freelancers: I work, too!

On Sunday, I attended a gorgeous wedding at the beach. I can blame the setting sun for the tears that welled up as my dear friends said their vows, but I cannot deny that it was a perfect, incandescent moment. I’m a sucker for weddings–especially intimate ones with a reception at a huge vacation rental mansion and delicious food afterwards!

As we prepared to leave at 9:30 pm, the groom seemed disappointed, but conceded that everyone had to work the next day–everyone except me.

“I work, too!” I protested, but he had moved on to speak to other departing guests. His mother asked what I do.

“I work from home,” I replied.

“If you work from home, it can’t be that hard,” she said.

I then explained that I am a writer and have four books due in two months (okay, so I found out yesterday two of the books aren’t due until January, but it’s still a tight deadline). “Well, they’re children’s books,” I continued, “but I have a lot of research to do.”

I’m sure many of you fellow freelancers have found yourselves in similar situations, having to defend what you do, when you work, or how you work to friends, family, and perfect strangers. I have realized that as someone with a non-traditional job, I can’t exactly get angry at people for not understanding what I do. When I had a nine-to-five job, I imagined the freelancer’s life as, well, free.

Yes, I do have some freedom to choose the projects that I am most interested in, and I should have more time to work on the projects that I’m passionate about for myself. But as is often the case with the self-employed, we operate in a state of feast or famine, always in anxiety over or anticipation of the famine. I am fortunate enough to be in a period of feast at the moment, juggling several writing, project management, and editing projects–all of which I am genuinely interested in! However, for financial reasons, I tend to take on as many paying projects as I can when they are available. This translates to working evenings and weekends when there are looming deadlines, and putting my personal projects (and often, social life) aside to complete the projects I have committed to for my clients. I do have a reputation to uphold, and I am, if nothing else, an incurable overachiever.

So my fellow freelancers and the friends and family of freelancers, here’s my SandyInspired takeaway. And let me preface this by letting you know that my freelancer friends and mentors who have been doing this for years told me basically the same thing when I considered taking the plunge and freelancing full-time. I just didn’t fully realize the truth of it until I found myself in that somewhat awkward social situation Sunday evening. Here it is:

Working from home means you can’t leave the work and go home to relax, because your home is your workplace. It means making your own schedule, holding yourself accountable for the hours in your day, and forcing yourself to stop working at a decent hour even when there doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day. But most of all, it means acknowledging to yourself and others that the work you do at home (or anywhere else) is, indeed, work. Well, you do have the freedom to sometimes take your work to your favorite coffee shop or bookstore. So I guess those nine-to-fivers should be jealous!

Inspired Word of the Week: Asymptote

asymptote [as-im-toht] noun Mathematics

  • A straight line approached by a given curve as one of the variables in the equation of the curve approaches infinity. ( 
  • “straight line continually approaching but never meeting a curve,” 1650s, from Gk. asymptotos “not falling together,” from a- “not” + syn “with” + ptotos “fallen” (Online Etymology Dictionary)
  • A line whose distance to a given curve tends to zero. Asymptote may or may not intersect its associated curve. (The American Heritage(R) Science Dictionary)
SandyInspired Comments: Words are so much more than mere tools of communication for me. I love the way they wrestle with or roll across my lips, and teeth, and tongue. But it’s not just this verbal experience with them. Words are like people. My relationship with a word can evolve over time.
     I first encountered asymptote in my trig class, and I tried to imagine getting closer and closer to something, but never quite reaching it. The idea both intrigued and baffled me, as it is so closely tied to the concept of infinity. To head towards an unmeasurable and boundless space–what does that mean? No matter. It was yet another complex, multi-syllabic word for my young and eager brain to file away.
     Several years later, a man I dated told me that his feelings were asymptotic–they tended towards love, but never quite got there. At the time, asymptote and I had a bit of a falling out, as it were. However, upon further reflection, I had to give the guy grudging credit for using asymptotic in a metaphor to describe his emotions. It wasn’t asymptote’s fault the man and I were incompatible due to an excess of combined nerdiness.
     Yesterday, I found an article in Publisher’s Weekly about an international literary journal: “Young Journal ‘Asymptote’ Takes Literature All Over the World.” Considering my fickle history with the word asymptote and my natural addiction for literature, my curiosity kicked in to high gear. I learned that the editors of Asymptote collaborate on a volunteer basis from various locations around the world. They actively seek out international poetry, fiction, drama, and nonfiction, and partner with translators to introduce these seminal contemporary works to the English speaking and reading world.
     A free literary journal? Sign me up! And I just had to know why this journal is called “Asymptote.” I went to the journal’s About page and felt a warm, tingly sensation wash over me. These editors throw different languages together in a literary lab and let me see what happens as a result of these “encounters between languages.” I’d just hit a word/literary/language-o-phile jackpot!
     And here … wait for it … lies the reasoning behind the journal’s name: “Though a translation may never fully replicate the original in effect (thus our name, “asymptote”: the dotted line on a graph that a mathematical function may tend towards but never reach), it is in itself an act of creation.” This explanation inspires me on many levels. I’ve been meaning to brush up on the French I learned in college. I’ve always wanted to learn Japanese. And my Vietnamese reading and writing skills could use some work. But I keep telling myself it’s too late; I should have done all of this when I was younger. I tell myself I don’t have the time. Well, I’ll never be an expert in all of these languages, but I can still set the curve in motion with my eye on that multilingual asymptote, and with each new effort, I’ll get closer. Similarly, the poetry and fiction I write, and the images I draw will never reach the perfection I imagine. But they’ll never be created if I don’t begin with that first word or pencil stroke.
     I admire the editors of Asymptote for their vision and dedication, and I will visit the site often to expose myself to international perspectives and soak up inspiration. The journal aims to release four issues a year, with the next issue going live on October 14. I encourage you to check it out: Asymptote.

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