Keynote

Transform Pain into Passion

14 minute read

Transform Your Pain

Mingjie Zhai

Photo by Derrick Cleveland

My Name is Mingjie, and I too, have loved and lost.

I lost my soulmate. I lost a family. I lost a dream.
I lost a career. I lost a house. I lost my friends.
I lost my happiness. I lost my mind. And I had almost lost my life. Three times.
Yet, for some reason, by the Grace of God, I was taken on this journey.

The Love Story came from God. It was hard to understand it back then, especially being an self-proclaimed atheist turned agnostic for 29 years in this life. It had to take losing my husband, my 12 year teaching career, my house, and my mind to crack down the ego that once validated who I was and confirmed my worth in this world.

In 2013, I had just learned the news that my ex-husband of 7 years had immediately started a family with the woman he was having an affair with during the last half year of our marriage. I was bitter. I was lost. I was numb and disillusioned. I took it out on other men, on my friends, and mostly on myself–I would drink, not caring if the prescription medication would be mixed together, half hoping I would die. I would write long seething letters to my ex accusing him of cowardice and betrayal, while having panic attacks and extreme mood swings when dealing with other people. Dates were my rant sessions where I paint a scene of the poor victim and he the villain, showing how I’ve been abused and used. I would repeat this narrative with colleagues, making them feel awkward. There was this heavy energy field, a dark cloak that was cast over me, blocking me from tapping into my inner light.

And this heaviness was designed to push people away. It was as if I was designing my life around a reenactment of a traumatic scene to recapture what it felt like the night he had walked out on me. I had subconsciously wanted everybody to do the same to me. I ignored my friends’ invites, I said things deliberately to push their buttons, incite anger, to make them leave me alone. I was relieved when I was alone. Relieved, resentful, then resigned. Repeat.

However, things started happening–call it synchronicity, coincidence, luck…I call it a miracle.

  1. I lost my house, but discovered a home–I moved back in with my parents. Gotten to know my mother and father in new ways.
  2. I lost a family, but discovered a universal family–in the walls of Alcoholics Anonymous, I was connecting with people I just wasn’t able to connect with at work, social settings, and on TV. This planted the good seed.
  3. I lost the dream of having children with him, but discovered a new project that has given me opportunities to create my own adventure and create babies in art.
  4. I lost a career in teaching but discovered a new passion in new media storytelling (photography, videography, editing, writing, digital and print publishing).
  5. I lost my circle of married friends, but I gained a new way of viewing friendship that is freeing–to see friendship in different forms, with different Karmic time tables.
  6. I lost my happiness, but discovered a new type of happiness. I realize that happiness never goes away…it resurfaces in small moments–when I’m having a conversation with an artist on camera, when I’m editing the footages, when I’m snowboarding, driving to San Francisco to see my friend, when I’m petting Foxy, when I’m eating pho. Small moments.
  7. I lost my mind, but gained insight to the subconscious mind. By losing my mind, I pushed past my own gatekeepers and discovered the center–the inner light–the heart chakra.
  8. When I say I almost lost my life, I mean it in a literal way–through the physical body, but in those three horrifying and amazing experiences, I also gained and fortified my faith In Christ, in God, and the Holy Spirit. It is a reminder that all things on this earth is designed to expire, and so attachment to anything physical–cars, clothes, houses, and even ourselves (and our point of views) at the expense of spiritual growth and our soul’s evolution is the greatest irony. Those near death hospitalizations were a real wake up call, jolting me back from defaulting to what’s familiar and comfortable. Following the right hand of God, the path of Higher Self.

It was also a reminder how real He is –the unfolding of this project, at the hands of God.

Just make the phone call. Don’t worry what will happen. Just ask.

I will take care of your needs, not your greeds. Keep pursuing.

Have faith, my child, that this will help as you and I have intended. Keep going. 

After reading Rick Warren’s A Purpose Driven Life, I was inspired to continue on this personal journey of “letting go of anger in creativity.” And just when I feel like giving up (and there’s been many times), a volunteer application would show up, “I love what you guys are doing!” or an artist would agree to interview with Love Story, “I would love to be part of this project,” or a friend would say to me, “You’ve grown so much. You’re eyes are different.” Bits and pieces of encouragement.

Initially when I first started this project, I still had the strong urge to write patronizing “guys who suck” letters, but instead, I had grabbed a camera and started photographing nature. When I had the strong urge to drink myself to an utter state of oblivion, I took to the keyboards and started clicking away on my Macbook. Writing has always come easier for me than other (math and fixing things…not so much), so writing this is one creative expression I use.

Into Passion

mj-portrait

Illustration by Xiao Ming Tang

The Love Story behind ______

I write for my tribe—the love addicts, the crazies, the losers, the wayward, the wanderers, the abnormals, the people with “mental issues”, the druggies, the alcoholics, the sensitive artists, the bipolars, the manic depressives, the schizophrenics, the suicide attempt survivors, the grievers, the PTSDs, the broken ones, the sad ones, the ones who have been judged, labeled, and boxed into a category, and for the most part, scoffed, derided, and ignored.

Embrace Your Crazy:

The Love Story is starting a new movement of journalism.

One that is designed to take away the stigma,

to incite catharsis,
and to inspire creative expression.
Artist-Inspired Journaling–Journaling in the third person omniscient to discover the characters of you and the people in your life. It’s fiction, based on a true story.
Adventure Journaling- Journaling in the third person omniscient to discover the present moment expansion of you and your life through the sense of the adventure you create. It’s fiction, based on a true story.
  • Keep it Raw
  • Keep it Authentic
  • Keep it Vulnerable

Today, I’m letting go of the fear of sharing.

Why? Because…

I share for you.

You, who’ve attempted suicide.

You, who’ve thought about suicide.

You, who’ve received a mental illness diagnosis.

I write for me.

It’s where the voices in my head find release.

Creative non-fiction, introspective journaling is my form of artistic expression.

It’s where I turn when I’m depressed.

I

I write to encourage you to write.

Your writing voice is uniquely yours—it could be poetry, music lyrics, fiction, vignettes, Tolkien—anything.

Just write.

Free verse it if you have to.

Just write. 

Let go in your creative expression.

Just write.

And it’s scary.

Too many people I’ve met have been affected by people who have committed suicide and just from the circle of people in my network who have taken their lives is a few too many. So fuck my fears.

I founded The Love Story to save my life. And it’s working for me.
My mission is that it will be working for you.

Authentic, open, and vulnerable shares are what helped me.

My mission is that it will be helping you.

How will I know this will work?

Because when I was the suicidal, depressed, and crazy girl,

the best elements of my recovery came from people generous and brave enough to take their “mask off” and show me their crazy,

that’s when I knew there is nothing wrong with crazy

because Crazy has Creative Powers.

No recovery is better than exercising your creative gifts.

Hands down.

Painting, poetry, writing, dancing, surfing, snowboarding, traveling, building, learning a new language, crying, swimming, storytelling, talking–it all starts from within–with God already gave you.

Nobody will discover it or do it for you.

The Love Story behind ______ is the gift God gave you.  Discovering it is your walk, and most of the dialogue will be in your head, by yourself, with yourself.

Instead of hiding depression, embrace it.

When you embrace depression instead of making it wrong, you have the power to transmute it.

Take away the stigma of depression and you reduce the suicidal intent.

I’ve learned to embrace my craziness by looking into areas where I can transform it into a contribution. When I’m depressed, I create.

I can only be me. You can only be you.


The Love Story is inspired by God’s Love in the Bible, 1 Corinthians 13.

Artist-Inspired journaling was inspired by Verse 12

12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.


Logo Brand Scaled DownWhat is your form of creative expression?

Is it your time to transform your pain, anger, and fears?

What can you create from the dense energies you hold inside your body?

You are capable of transmuting those energies into beautiful art.

It’s time to ask for God’s help. Do it your own way. But Do It. For you are a creative force to be reckoned with.

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