2012 – “A Daring Adventure”

January 2, 2013

“You can’t connect the dots going forward; you can only connect them looking back.”  Those were the words of Steve Jobs at the 2005 Stanford University commencement speech.  He spoke of how certain events and circumstances created the person he was.  That said, I’d like to tell you of a few events that helped me to arrive where I am now as a calligrapher.

The year started off interestingly enough.  I worked as a chemist in a rather stressful environment.  There were days where upon crossing the thresh hold going into work my stress levels would rise exponentially.  Upon leaving work, my stress levels descended, as though a rock was dropped off a cliff.  January 23 was one of those days.  Trying to get through the day, I tweeted this picture, with the caption: What I’d rather be doingThis was about 9 am that morning.  I carried on with the remainder of the day, clock-watching until it was time to leave.  The time came.   The stress descended.  I could not and did not know that my words would be prophetic.

The next day as I prepared for my tasks, my supervisor called me up to his office.  He then said, “Let’s walk to HR.”  Upon arrival at the office, details notwithstanding, he stated, “We’re going to have to let you go.”  I was initially stunned.   Thoughts of how to earn money to care for my two sons and cover basic necessities ran through mind.  I gathered my things and left.

I worried.  Whenever I am really worried, I start reciting appropriate quotes to ease my mind and spirit.  In this case Helen Keller came to mind: Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.”  My mood improved.  Little did I know that the rest of 2012 would be just that: A Daring Adventure.

I searched for chemistry jobs.  Nothing materialized.  I took calligraphy jobs as they came.  Fun to do, but I have to admit it was not meeting all my financial needs.  I worried still but kept the quote in mind.  In the middle of May I received an email regarding a calligraphy job.  In essence the client asked “Can you complete 1000 envelopes in two weeks?” WHHOOOAAAA!  If you know me you know my response: “Nothing beats a try but a failure.” (I did tell the client that). We made an appointment to discuss the devilish details of the job.  I received the envelopes on May 22.  The couple wanted to mail the announcement of their wedding from the wedding site: Hawaii.  They would be leaving on June 8 to be married on June 15.  I delivered the last set to the Bride’s home only hours before they left.  The Bride was beyond thrilled!  “This is more beautiful than I imagined!”  I told her the only thing I thought about while doing the envelopes was how happy she would be when they were completed.  It ended up being 870 envelopes in two weeks. TWO WEEKS! WOW! (I am still astounded as I write this).  Discussing it later with my friend and mentor Michele Papineau, she told me: “You NEVER would have completed that if you had a ’real job!’”  As one twitter friend tweeted to me during the journey: 

The daring adventure continued when I lost my 3rd job in 1-½ years.  Realizing this, a line from the book the Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo sprang to mind:

What happens once will never happen again.  What  happens twice is sure to happen a third time.

That being the third time, I decided I would “follow a dream guided by Providence, navigated by fate, and steered by faith.”  I decided to do calligraphy full time.  THAT, was the highlight to the beginning of my daring adventure that was 2012! The honorable mentions list of 2012:

  • I earned the nickname “Magic Hands” from my friend Loyce Wheatley.  Owner and exceptionally exquisite Gown Designer at Grace Bridal Couture, Loyce bestowed the name on me after seeing my calligraphy.  She felt the words came alive on the pages and spoke to her.  “It’s like magic!” , she proclaimed.  “Magic Hands” was born.
  • I graced the blog of Crane and Co. “Post Script.”  I was thrilled beyond belief to be featured on their blog.  Most of us are aware that Crane and Co. is the premiere paper maker.  To be featured on their blog was an incredible thrill.  I was even more thrilled to learn in the intro that they followed the two-week long journey on my blog! Epic! as the kids today would say!
  • I won “Best Calligrapher – Utah” and was a 2nd place finalist for “Best Calligrapher – Nationally and Worldwide! Wedding Industry Experts held a contest this past summer for many categories, including best calligrapher.
  • I graced the blog of Salt Lake/Park City Bride & Groom – While having a chat with Erin Kate, she expressed to me the idea of photographing me dapperly dressed and doing calligraphy in a wide up field.  “I love the idea. Let’s do it!”  And we did!  Erin spectacularly and exquisitely photographed the shoot.  SL/PC B&G posted the photos with a thoughtful intro and interesting questions on their blog. Thrilled again!
  • My calligraphy was featured in the 2nd and 3rd issues of Salt Lake/Park City Bride & and Groom – This was the year for sweet treats in SL/PC B&G, as my calligraphy was featured in “Icing on the Cake” (Spr/Sum2012) and “Rainbow Brights” (Fall/Win2012).  Jacque Riehl of Riehl Events was the architect of the gorgeous and colorful layout of sweet treats.  I am hopeful for more opportunities to work with many more Wedding Vendors in the future!

2012 was indeed an adventure.  Crowned with a beloved nickname, 2013 is “The Year of Magic Hands”! The adventure continues… Happy New Year everyone!

I am a Crane and Co. Enthusiast | Distinctive Inscriptions Calligraphy
[...] my eyes watered with ebulliently ecstatic emotions!!!  I was especially excited that my 2-week, 1000 Envelopes Journey was mentioned in the intro.  And the ‘secret sauce’?  It is nothing more than Love, [...]
Post Script: Calligrapher Ashantai Yungai | Crane & Co.: The Blog
[...] I didn’t like. If I had to pick one it would be anything letter-pressed Lettra paper. I had my business card done by Crane & Co. on Lettra. Everybody, especially me, absolutely loves [...]
Thanks Lissahn. I will keep "swimming". I like to think of it as the formation of a Diamond. It is the the hardest substance known to man. It is forged under the most intense and highest of pressures. Once it is cut and polished its BRILLIANCE is magnificent!!! Yes we are where we belong. Let's make our dreams a real life magical fantasy!
Wrapped Couture (Lissahn)
You are amazing my friend!!! 13 months ago today, my car flipped over and my world did too. I began to have the same feelings and concerns that you're having now, with my then 18 and 14 year old. God never gives us more than we can handle, although it may seem like it in the moment. I'm so grateful to have had the opportunity to work with you and I hope to continue to work with you in the industry that we are both meant to be in! Press on my friend. Press on!
My Dear Friend you are AWESOME too! I Love You! :-)
Thank you SO much for the sentiment! I owe the start of ALL my calligraphy journey to your son! He put the idea in my mind and it just took off! So I feel lucky to know your son and daughter-in-law too! :-)
As long as you participate, you join anytime! :-)
Lynn White
So I'm late on this journey with you, but I'm all caught up now. WOW Ashanti you are awesome. I know you can do this!
Loyce Wheatley
It's an honor and a pleasure to know you in the mist of your 1000 envelopes journey. I'm enjoying the ride with you.
Awesome! What a great accomplishment...woohoo
One thing I always told my sons was,"Practice, practice, practice"! In a sense, you're practicing on 1,000 envelopes, so you're bound to get faster...and better!!! You have inspired me to do something with those Phish lyrics now.....someday soon, after I finish these other 10 projects I want to do!! Oh, I've been "borrowing", no, stealing some of your daily quotes and putting them on my FB page. Thanks for sharing those.
My 1000 Envelopes Journey – Day 7 | Distinctive Inscriptions Calligraphy
[...] on these (I received them on Tuesday, started calligraphing on Wednesday, and averted a crisis on Day 6), THAT is A VERY BIG DEAL!  My first bride started with 375 and ended with 426 guests.  It took [...]
Thank you for showing us those Phish lyrics. Very touching! I would like to frame them also. Btw, when I was in high school, I used to make posters using lines from songs that I liked. Of course, they had lots of neon colors so they'd glow under my black light! I feel very lucky to have a son who has a friend as special as you. And your son is so lucky to have you for his dad! Take care, Ashanti. This world needs you!!
Erica Williams
Awesome...I love the lyrics of that song...Oh by the way did I also mention that you are AWESOME....have a great day :)
Sally Laporta
How's your hand holding up? Are you icing? Try to ice if even if you don't think that you need to. You'll be glad that you did by day 8. Keep up the great work! You'll do terrifically!!! Whoo Hoo!
Ashley Lloyd
Way to go Ashanti! You'll get them done and, of course, they will be stunning! They trusted the right person with their announcements! :)
Lissahn {Wrapped Couture}
I'm so excited for you and look forward to this journey of yours my friend!!!
I love that you are making this into such a fab experience-for you and for us! That is what makes the world an amazing place! Keep up the incredible work:)
Val @ Utah Bride & Groom magazine
Oh, Ashanti, I know you can do it. And do it with a smile! Sending all my well wishes to you.
Jaime Vieta Myers
You are the perfect scribe for this magnificent sentiment! I am privileged to take the "1000 Envelopes Journey" with you! Buono Fortuna!
Erica Williams
This is YOUR time my dear friend....I am so proud of you :)
Loyce Wheatley
I’m so EXCITED!!!..for you. The man with the “Magic Hands” that you’re journaling about your journey and sharing the details with the rest of us. I am also glad that I’ve met another perfectionist who’s passionate about their craft & profession as I am. Yes, iron sharpens iron and sometimes we need someone to help keep us on point in the thick of an out of the box project. I have all the faith in you that it’s going to be an amazing job when you’re done because you are the man with the “MAGIC HANDS” with the big personality. It’s an open door for bigger and better projects to come....Cheers!
Melissa Brown
Fantastic work! 1000 envelopes at once is a feat of epic proportions. Keep going...!!
Melissa Brown
Great job! 1000 envelopes is a feat of epic proportions. Keep going...!!!
Kathy Romero
I love the "Magic Hands" !!! Classic. However, what I love more is that you'll be sharing this journey with us. You are capable of this and MORE! GO! Kathy
Tessa @ Salt Lake/Park City Bride and Groom
Awesome work as always, Ashantai!
Plain & Fancy Living
It was so much fun chatting with you and meeting so many nice people. Your writing is just gorgeous. True talent. I look forward to tweeting with you in the future:) Amy R.
Kate Lewis
All my swoons are yours! I enjoyed being there, too! Great fun!
Michele Papineau
I had a gentleman walk into my studio earlier today and asked if I gave calligraphy classes. His name is David. We talked for about a half an hour and I sent him away with 2 felt tip pens, 2 calligraphy books on loan and a pad of paper. I opened up my computer and showed him your recent blog posting and your website. And then I told him your story. And the more I talked, I realized how amazing your story and talent is. Truly!!!
Tad Feder
Yeah bookmaking this wasn't a risky determination outstanding post!
Whitney Shaw
Nice job!

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