Saturday, December 31, 2011

2012 : the Year of Rebirth

I have mentioned in a previous post that for the past four years I have picked up on themes for each new year. This new year brings with it a Year of Rebirth, a fitting follow-through to this old year's return to one's roots. After making peace with the past, our histories, and the consequences of old decisions, we are now ready to move forward and to face life with a fuller heart and a fuller spirit. More whole. A renewed self continues the journey of life.

2011 has been like a dark tunnel for me, with only the glimpses of light at its end spurring me on. Emerging, finally, from a labyrinth of trials and challenges I am like a child emerging from the womb. While I may be more vulnerable in my raw self I have also regained a sense of wonder and joy and magic. I am also now stronger in other ways, and with a clearer purpose. My life's compass has found its north and I am now somehow getting better at making new maps and charting courses for my journeys. I have given up some things in the process but I believe that what I will gain later on will be much much more.

Here are the little embryos and seedlings of 2011 that are waiting to emerge fully in 2012. While I have been doing a few of them for many years it is only in the past year that I have re-evaluated how they are contributing to my living a fulfilled and authentic life. For some, it is only in the past year that I have been able to actually do anything tangible. The old year has been both a painful and enriching experience.

more Crafting and Creative Journeys
The rediscovery of my passions has been a major event for me. While the actual process was slow and at times even excruciating, the reward of knowing where I really want to go and what I really want to do is simply priceless. The new year presents a daunting task of being true to what I love but I trust that my heart will show me every way and that the Universe always helps those who seek with the soul.

a Happier and more Inspired Home
As part of my practice of authenticity, I embrace who I am and my home now reflects myself instead of hiding and camouflaging who I am. I open myself to kindred spirits and invite love and friendships and opportunities. I surround myself with inspiration and seek to inspire others as well through example.

a more Discerning and Patient Heart
After two decades I finally learn the lesson of patience and keeping still. While I acknowledge my own strengths and powers to shape my life, I could not shape the heart of others. But by being true to myself then everything else will follow and there will be no need to yearn or to strive or to scheme. The how of fairy tales has always been in the domain of the Universe. All I have now is the faith that there is a happily ever after unfolding before me.

Knowing and Doing What Really Matters
I was supposed to do a monthly highlight in photos for 2011 but I realized that there are huge gaps in my journals and photo albums because of being enslaved by work and the need for money. I do not dismiss the necessity of money but I should never lose sight of why I gave up my easy access to it two years ago. If I calm myself down I will see that help is sent at exactly the perfect time. There is no need to waste time and energy fretting and worrying. Instead I should channel those time and energy into creating and loving. I also learned that compromising out of despair (such as accepting work for less than adequate fees just to have something) never works in the long run. It takes its toll on the heart and the spirit and derails me from my true journey.

Valuing Family and True Friends
The number of people who actually greeted me and sent me gifts this Christmas have gone down to a number that I could count with my two hands. On the other hand, I have strengthened and deepened the bonds of the few and precious that have actually remained. Going back to my family roots and reviving my relationships with my cousins, aunts, and especially my grandmother have added substance to the core of my self -- particularly because they make up the ancestral tree of my creativity.

more Earth-Conscious Living
I read a story somewhere about a man who would walk down the beach at low tide and he would pick up stranded starfish and throw them back to the sea to save them. Another man told him that there are too many and he would not be able to save all and it would not make a difference. The man who was saving the starfish picked one up and threw it to the water and said "Well, it sure made a difference to that one."

That's how I want to look at my own little efforts to live an earth-friendly lifestyle. Every little thing counts. It will all count.

more Meaningful Travels
What I now lack in travel budget I make up for in meaning and memories. Instead of coming home with a bag full of shopping that I mostly bought on impulse, I now come home with a camera full of photos capturing every mundane moment turned magical.

a Stronger Spirit (and body!), a Braver Heart
The greatest challenge of my life so far and I am amazed that I have not given up on kendo. I will be taking the exam on February and it is something that I both want and don't want. It terrifies me. I hate it. It reveals me in all my weaknesses including the worst of it, my physical weakness. It crushes me in ways that nothing else can. But I know that on my death bed I will be regretting it if I gave up. So I will not give up. (God help me.) 

a Daily Life of Simple Joys, and Contentment without Compromise
Calmness, simplicity, honesty. No unnecessary indulgences but no deprivations. Taking care of myself as much as I take care of others. No more guilt. No more self-recrimination. No need to acquire possessions to masquerade as accomplishments. I will create what I need and what I want. As much as it is in my power. I will dispose of what I don't need and what I don't want. I will keep only what is essential, what keeps me true. The rest I leave in the hands of the Universe. 

Happy new year everyone!

lucky indeed : 365 days of inspiration

I am very much inspired by the art and craft of Lucky Jackson of 365 Lucky Days. She creates beautiful things with embroidery hoops -- she comes up with the most amazing themes and subjects. My favorites so far in her work are the Domestic Bliss series.

Washing the Floors
Dinner's Ready

Friday, December 30, 2011

redecorating : making more progress

I got a good amount of cleaning, clearing, and redecorating done even with a sore back. I just avoided anything too strenuous and I remembered to do stretches during my breaks.

Today I did portions of the kitchen, dining area, work area, and the bathroom, plus I finished up the entrance area (a semblance of it, at least, since I have a tiny, tiny, studio).

These matchboxes were souvenirs from Beijing given by a friend. I love the cat images and decided to put them on display on the entrance table. The Welcome Home is a fitting message!
I dressed up the side of the refrigerator with light fabric to create the illusion of a wall instead of an appliance. It also effectively separates the kitchen from the entrance way. The flowery plastic container is made of a recycled and repurposed softdrinks bottle, handcrafted by my grandmother. The glass bowl on the left is a gift from another friend and holds an assortment of hard candy. The round decorative piece on the right is a tealight holder, yet another gift.
This recharging station used to be white which had become stained with stubborn dirt. I cleaned and repainted it and is now an attractive piece. This recharging station has been made to order for only Php700, patterned after a similar piece from Pottery Barn.
I covered these shelf doors with an old stock of French Provincial designed giftwrappers. Again another case of putting on display things that would otherwise be hidden and gathering dust and most likely to be forgotten.
The bathroom finally gets its turn. I disposed of anything I haven't used for the past six months. I cleaned my makeup brushes and devised a way to display and organize my flower clips.  Fabric coverings made everything look even more cleaned up and organized, not to mention bright and happy.
This is it. My whole stock and repertoire of personal care products (only a handful not in the photo because they are kept in the shower area). I used to have about three to four times as much when I was younger and used to shop with abandon. At least a quarter of the items here are gifts.
My trinkets. Hair accessories, rings, and earrings. And yes I only have two bottles of perfume. Necklaces are in the closet (which is next in line for redecorating).
I don't think I will get to finish the fixing and redecorating 100% by the time the new year comes along. But it will be a nice thought that the new year came in with most already done. Always looking at the bright side. :)

2011: the Year of Return, a summary

For the past four years I have been "picking up" certain themes and energies from each year as it begins. It started with 2008 which was the Year of Shifting. 2009 was the Year of Resolution (especially after the mostly unexpected shifts of the previous year). 2010 was the Year of Harvest (as a result of decisions made from the previous). This year, 2011, is the Year of Return.

The Year of Return is about taking stock of where life is for you right now, the things that you have done, and where you want to go next. It is about acknowledging your own histories, especially the realities and lessons they have brought into your life. If there is anything you have refused to accept or recognize for all this time, then now is a good chance to make peace with everything and everyone, including yourself. It is also a time to forgive, again including yourself.

The Return can take many forms, from the most simple and mundane to the most surprising and spectacular. I have seen it manifested among family and friends -- husbands returning to wives they have left for so many years, families renewing bonds, younger generations finally looking back and recognizing the wisdom of the older. It could be as symbolic as returning to one's roots -- digging through histories and stories to find the seeds that feed who you are and who you have been, who you will be. It could be simple acts of revisiting places, getting in touch with old friends, even opening one's souvenir box and remembering what you used to love and what used to make you happy.

But the Return does not stop at the mere remembrance. It also demands recognition, acceptance, and integration into the Now. For to move forward you have to be whole, and to be whole you have to bring within you both your light and your shadow.

For my part, here is how the Year of Return has shaken my life (there will be separate posts for each so do visit again as the links become activated):

  • Rediscovering and Re-embracing my Passions

  • Finding my way back to Family and Re-evaluating my Friendships
  • Reuniting with my Shadow Self

  • Going back to the Simple Life and rediscovering Simple Joys

  • Becoming Single again and Re-evaluating my Needs and Priorities

  • Strengthening bonds with Mother Earth, return to Basics

With all of these "returns" I feel like I have gone through a major Soul Scrub that peeled away all that is unnecessary and unhelpful for me. While it remains that I want so many things to do and and to have, what changed is the nature of those things that I want to do and to have. They have better foundations now and hopefully also stronger cores that will help me barrel through challenges.

The returns have also helped me lessen my blind spots as I move forward. I will make decisions based on the right reasons and not because of pettiness or a tantrum or even vengefulness. I also choose to be happy, given all the realities of what I have been. where I have been, and the things that I have done. If there will be times when I need to walk through a shadowed path then I aim to be able to do so with grace and patience and optimism. The new year will not always be easy, but I intend to face every single day with hope and faith.

How has 2011 manifested for you?

it's eleven in the morning and i just woke up

All that serious creative work and redecorating have caught up with me and I slept through the whole morning today. I was woken by the alarm at 5:45AM but then I could not move very well because my body was just dead tired and aching still. So I gave in and slept more and had more weird dreams until my body said, "Okay, that'll do for now." My back still aches a bit although it is much more tolerable. I guess I still have to take it a bit slower today.

On the other hand, this is the first time in long months that I have indulged in a very late sleeping in. I also feel cushioned by the progress I have made in prettifying my home so I don't feel guilty. Oh yes, even now I am plagued by that feeling of horrible guilt when I indulge myself. I am not quite sure how to get rid of it and just simply enjoy and savor the indulgence (especially since I have them either rarely or in small amounts).

I will need to write my plans and wishes and intentions for the new year between now and the new year. They are all in my head for the moment, chattering and having cocktails.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

truly nesting in

My back has been aching since yesterday. I must have strained it with three whole days spent redecorating and painting and walking long hours through shops looking for ideas and materials.

So today I decided to stay home and take it a bit easy. I was planning to start on painting my wall but I didn't want to make my backache worse. Hence after doing half an hour of yoga for back pain, I contented myself with painting smaller objects. I also got a start on fixing my kitchen cabinets and making sure that there are no old useless stuff to carry on to the new year.

My home is starting to look and feel bright. It is no longer just a waiting place, or a transition place. Regardless of how my life turns out this will be my little refuge. A place and space for creativity and comfort.

A definite good morning as the morning mail brought my Mod Podge order from Deovir.
It's orange day today. I got this pretty shade called Tiger Lily from Ace Hardware. 

This metal lamp got a bit of extra after the paint. Glittery jewels in the middle of the biggest flowers to add a bit of something.
My entrance table gets a brightening up as well so it does not melt into the shadows and the somber gray of the refrigerator (which it is actually trying to distract from).
The refrigerator gets clothed in bright stripes to complement the entrance table. Mr. Pebbleman is assigned the welcoming role.
Whole waiting for the paints to dry I started fixing my kitchen cabinets. I need to get more of those shelf helpers that let me maximize my shelf space by adding second layers. The mason jars at the top shelf are joyful finds and will be used for projects as well as some food preserves.
The mason jar box became the Mogget box.
That's pretty much what I got to do today with my back feeling bruised and beaten. I took a lot of breaks during which I read The Perfectly Imperfect Home -- a perfect match for my current activity. This book is one of my Christmas gifts to myself. I also read from Alphabet of Thorn, a fantasy book I purchased for my iPad Kindle. It's been a while since I got caught up in a magical story, I didn't realize I missed it so much.

Only two more days until the new year. I should get started on my new year lists! Maybe I'll put that on my to-do for tomorrow. Until then, savor whatever is left of this old year!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

redecorating in progress, part 2

Today I tackled my work/study/crafting area, plus a bit of the kitchen. I repainted the back of my bookshelves which also serve as wall dividers to give my tiny studio some semblance of space assignment. The original color of the shelves was a very pale blue and I wanted bright color. I got a yellow green shade that looks sunshiny in daytime and lime-lemony in the evenings.

This is the back of my biggest shelf which separates my bedroom from the rest of the place. Just as I put up my Sandman card collection on the bedroom wall, here I chose to put up my Griffin & Sabine postcard collection. I have always been a Nick Bantock fan and I love to do my own collages.
I also changed the books on display at the top of the shelf (they used to be my Japanese manga collection) to complement the postcards - here I have Nick Bantock's books and Barbara Hodgson's. Barbara's books are like Nick's -- with beautiful art and beautiful writing combined to tell compelling stories. I hope to write one of my own one day.
Instead of throwing away a worn out mousepad, I stripped it of its peeling cover and re-covered it with a fresh bright fabric. Good As New mousepad!
These fabrics are waiting to be used for other decorating projects.

I took advantage of a 50% discount sale of good quality storage boxes and now I finally have my art and craft materials in one place. I added the stickers for a touch of whimsy. The objects on top are the materials for a current project.
I brightened up an all-black purely functional kitchen shelf by covering it with a bright green and white plaid self-adhering wallpaper. 
Not to be left behind, I dressed up a bare shelf that stored my cleaning products, kitchen towels, rags, and floor rugs with a fabric cover  so that the contents need not be exposed for all to see. It certainly made this tiny corner of the kitchen look fresher, brighter, and better organized. The bottles in the basket are waiting to be repurposed into something functional or decorative or both.
I will be going out for a new paint color tomorrow plus more fabric for new window curtains. Do visit again!

Monday, December 26, 2011

redecorating in progress

This is what I'm going to be busy with for the week before the new year: redecorating my home to prepare it for the fresh energies of 2012. It is also a way for me to cleanse and detoxify mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I also get to stretch my creative muscles and not hold myself back like I did three years ago when I just moved in. This time I will claim my space and really make it mine and let it speak for me.

Inexpensive wall stickers of colorful butterflies enhance an old plain black vinyl sticker I had put on the wall three years ago. 
Christmas lights cheer up my bed. I'm thinking I could keep it there all year round.
My Sandman card collection come out of hiding in a tattered box and are put on display for better appreciation. Neil Gaiman remains one of my favorite authors. Morpheus still pops up in my dreams sometimes, often with cryptic messages.
A store-bought vintage style wooden storage box gets personalized with happy colored sequins so it would not get lost in the vibrant fabric cover of the plastic Muji DVD storage. The shells are from a recent beach trip with my sister.
Another Muji plastic CD storage gets dressed up in fabric. I also use its top to display vintage LP covers. The yellow roses are made of wood ordered from Etsy. A few pieces of vintage safety pins gotten for free at the lace shop and a bowlful of assorted stones bought as souvenir from Athens, Georgia (when I did my little pilgrimage to Michael Stipe and REM in 2000.)
Repurposed a furry shawl into a table cover, keeping my turntable cozy.
Inexpensive doilies freshen and brighten up the shelf tops that hold my little garden of flowers and herbs.
This space does double duty as garden and as shelf for my planner, journals, idea notebook, and life list notebook.
More to come!