Friday, June 29, 2012

inspired everyday

I am finally making a lot of artsy sketches and drawings in the past few days. I just started. After imagining for months how I would begin to make art when everything is ready, I just started in the midst of nothing being ever ready. And I guess that is the whole point. I will never really be perfectly ready because there will always be distractions and obstacles. But if I really want to make art and live a creative life then I should just go ahead and live one instead of imagining a future that somehow never manages to turn that next corner.

I have been having so much fun and the feeling of satisfaction is simply delightful. I have even taken to doing rough sketches in the middle of the night when an idea strikes me.

This has been a creatively productive week. I have also been reading and writing a lot and my sleep has improved from the previous week.

The weather has fully shifted to the rainy season. I hope for the pouring of more inspiration for everyone.

Monday, June 25, 2012

the magic of dressing up

Bulk of my time is spent at home. I work at home 70-80% of the time (the other 20-30% is spent on fieldwork but in a day that only takes about 6-10 hours).

I rarely go out especially in the past few months because I'm managing my spending and I am also overhauling my social life in my quest for a community of true kindred creative spirits.

My most frequent occasions for going out are hardly worth dressing up for. Such as running errands to the bank, shopping in the supermarket, or hanging out at my parents' house. I do go out on weekly Artist Dates and Artist Walks (as recommended by Julia Cameron in her book The Artist's Way) but I often dress comfortably when I do those because I walk a lot and I need to put on my Nike pair. It also sort of doubles as a physical exercise so I'm often in yoga pants, cotton shirt, and a plain ponytail. My Artist Dates also often bring me to places like hardware stores, thrift shops, farmer's markets, and book sales so it's really best to be comfy.

When I am just at home I usually dress in clean but old clothes. Sometimes I wear my PJs. Often my shirt does not really match my shorts.

But in the past few days I have gotten into dressing up at home even if I did not have plans of stepping out. Lately I have been feeling rather lackluster with all the financial puzzles in my life so I needed to make things a bit more festive and energetic. I did it by dressing up - wearing pretty clothes that make me feel real nice inside and out (and abundant) while also being comfortable. I put on a light makeup and I dress up my hair with nice pins or ribbons. I wanted to feel like I am ready to go anywhere and I also wanted to feel like I am going somewhere (and that I could afford to!). And believe me, it works! I felt my energy pick up and my senses sharpen. That was when I started to just paint and draw without too much deliberation on how ready or inspired or motivated I am. I started writing down ideas and plans and setting targets and goals. When I dressed myself up I felt that I simply had to Do and Act, or otherwise I will just be a pretty display in my own home. So I transformed how I looked and felt into something tangible -- a dozen baked cupcakes, a painting, a collage, a poem, an e-book draft, even a good sweep of a shelf for clutter-clearing. (By the way, I was dressed up but I remained barefooted as I moved about the house so it added an aspect of freedom and and openness to the whole mood.)

In the whole process my mind relaxed and had a chance to let the things that have been bothering me to simmer and sort itself out in peace.

Hence, when I finally sat down at either the beginning or end of the day to write in my journal, there were fresh perspectives that poured out because I stopped over-thinking and just started doing what I could. And dressing up helped. It's like putting on a costume and acting the part. I dressed up pretty and happy and abundant and behaved accordingly, boosting my own self-esteem and confidence and sparking my optimism.

How does dressing up change your mood?

Sunday, June 24, 2012

my personal geography

"A map provides no answers. It only suggests where to look, Discover this, re-examine that, put one thing in relation to another, orient yourself, begin here … Sometimes a map speaks in terms of physical geography, but just as often it muses on the jagged terrain of the heart, the distant vistas of memory, or the fantastic landscapes of dreams." (Miles Harvey, The Island of Lost Maps)

I read this very inspiring book titled "Personal Geographies: Explorations in Mixed Media Mapmaking" by Jill K. Berry. I have always been fascinated by maps so this book caught my attention. It was a worthy purchase.

One of my favorite lines is: In my hands, I hold a ship, for sailing off to great adventures, and a compass rose, so I won't get lost.

One of the first exercises is making a head map and I was inspired by this particular map that was shown in the book.

Here is mine, which deals with my own current subjects of concern and much thought. The interesting part is the fact that as I was putting this together, some things that I have been having difficulty resolving in my head slowly started to make better sense. I did not come to any sudden solutions but certainly the possibilities for solutions became clearer.

I look forward to making more maps and finding more paths!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Owl Who Knows How

He just kept hooting around in my head, flapping his wings, and pecking at my thoughts. He says I should not fuss about how things will happen and I should just do what I need to do. He says he knows how it's all going to unfold, and that I have nothing to worry about.

watercolor, poster color, beads

Thursday, June 21, 2012

time for some cupcakes

It's a bit costly to bake. The bulk of the cost comes from the butter and eggs. I would love do it more often but the side effects of inflated hips and deflated wallet temper my enthusiasm.

Last week I decided to bake so I could bring cupcakes for my mom who was in the hospital at that time. They would also serve as snack foods for my dad and sister for whom I have been temporarily playing the role of home cook since my mom was sick.

As always, the joy of creating something delicious and pretty from a bunch of raw ingredients never fails to lift my spirits.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

catching up with the 30-day drawing challenge

Day 7 : Favorite Movie

My favorite movie is an adaptation of a favorite book, Stardust by Neil Gaiman. My drawing shows the fallen star looking up at the sky, looking at the space where she used to be.

Day 8 : Favorite Animated Character

Calcifer, the lovable grumpy powerful ex-star (yes, I seem to have a fondness for stars, particularly fallen ones), who lives with and serves Howl in his Moving Castle.

Day 9 : Favorite TV Show

I have a strong fondness for crime-solving drama, especially those with geeks in them and women who are not just decoration and who are convincingly tough smart ass-kickers. I also suspect that my own affinity for information processing comes into play as I relate to the roles of the team in the show. I have even once compared my job to that of a CSI, providing useful and valid evidence that would support a business strategy.

Vying for my most favorite are Criminal Minds and CSI Las Vegas. And here I drew a crime scene so both will be represented.

Day 10 : Favorite Candy

Since childhood I have loved cotton candy and even now I still buy it when I encounter a stall selling it. I even give in to the pre-packaged condensed un-fluffy versions sold in the supermarkets. And given another chance I would love to buy the cotton candy maker I once saw at a bazaar where you can drop a hard candy and it will be spun into cotton. My favorite flavor : strawberry.

Day 11 : Turning Point In My Life

No argument here. It was the moment I decided to try it out solo and give up a fat paycheck. Still working at it and still not giving up, although I will admit missing the fat paycheck when the bills come knocking.

I still owe days 12-15 for me to truly catch up. Watch out for those!

Monday, June 18, 2012

my very own creative retreat

More than a month ago I grabbed up a plane ticket on sale (only Php2,500, roundtrip) so I could go on vacation next month to a bee farm by the beach with its own organic cafe. Since it is the post-summer low season, the bee farm's rates are also pretty good and I was set on spending a week there. I had planned on doing a lot of reading, writing, photography, drawing, meditating, and simply being free from the usual demands of daily life. No chores, no work, no distractions. Just me and my creative muse.

But then my mom got sick and the small budget I had allocated for the trip (scraped from various savings here and there) went to paying the hospital bills instead.

There are, so far, no new work projects in the horizon so I have to hold on to the funds I have right now. And I also have to make adjustments given the big bite which the hospital bills took. Thus, there will be no more trip next month. I'll just have to write off the plane ticket as a loss.

But what to do in that suddenly empty calendar week? I do not think it will be good for my own overall well-being to write that off as a loss too, that time allotted for myself and my creativity.

So I thought, can I still take some kind of trip out of the everyday?

And the answer was, yes.

I designed myself a week-long creative retreat in place of the bee farm trip. A week spent at home and without spending any money. There will be no chores (I would have pre-frozen cooked meals for re-heating and I would use paper plates so there would be no dishes) and no work (I would declare a vacation week to my clients) and no routines (I would spend the bulk of my waking time to very specific creative activities). I would also be offline from my social networks except for occasional blog posts. I will probably step out once or twice though to do my walking meditation exercise around the neighborhood.

I made myself a little brochure to add a sense of occasion and to emphasize the fact that this could even turn out to be a much better thing than the trip itself.

How do you turn plans-gone-awry to plans-turned-amazing?

life in square boxes

I have "launched" a photo album in my Facebook titled "Life In Square Boxes". It's a collection of daily life photography showcasing the simple and mundane details of everyday life but also hinting on the joys and little magics beneath each one.

It's a venue for my photography practice as well as my affirmation practice because in each image I make myself see the seeds of hope that I string together to lead me forward in my creative journeys. Like Ariadne's thread, this string of hope will keep me from getting lost despite seeming dead-ends and collapsed pathways, and even ambush attacks.

It is also an exercise in discovery as the ordinary takes on the perspective of the extraordinary, how little things can lead to big inspirations. It's an enjoyable way to feed the Muse.

How do you find inspiration everyday?

waiting for the rainbow

My mom was hospitalized for three days because of some bacteria that made her immune system go on full war, leaving her weak and sick with fever, nausea, and a very severe migraine. She was allowed to go home last Saturday but was given a host of medications that she will need to take for a month. She will also have follow-through check-ups with the doctors.

She is still not feeling well and her recovery seems to be going very slow. My dad, sister, and I have been busy making things as comfortable and conducive to recovery as best as we could. All our routines and 16-hour plans have been thrown out the window for the moment.

Since I live independently, I manage to slip in some level of normalcy to my routines but not wholly. I was also struck by fever the day after we took my mom home from the hospital. The fever was light but it kept going on and off so I am on a paracetamol schedule until today.  When I woke up this morning I could sense the fever trying to creep in. It could be exhaustion from the past week (especially since I also had a major client presentation last Friday), and it could also be the stress of paying the hospital bills. (The bills definitely took a big painful bite out of my savings.)

There is always a silver lining to every dark cloud. I strongly believe that. Even if at the moment the silver lining is almost invisible. The rainbow shows up after a heavy rain. The sun will always rise after the darkest hour.

Hopefully, the rainbow will have a pot of gold somewhere.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

requesting rewind and restart from the universe

Will be off from blogging for a few more days. My mom has been sick since Monday and at first it seemed like ordinary flu. But at 3AM this morning she has been admitted to the hospital because the symptoms have become unusual and she needed more observation and stronger medicines.

Finances are very tight and this turn of event has been unexpected. At times like these it is a challenge to keep oneself inspired and optimistic but I do my best. I also wish that I could do a rewind and restart on some aspects of my life, like let's say, tweak a few key decisions from when I was just in college to when I was in my first job, and then when I was in my second job. They would certainly ease the feelings of exhaustion and regret that I am feeling right now given the details and realities of my present life.

My sister keeps saying that it helps to think and believe that we are always at the right place at the right time, and that even the worst experiences can truly be heralds of unbelievably better things. Lessons learned are always invaluable and we just really have to keep the faith.

How do you keep the faith through every day's challenge?

"But we can, perhaps, stop and reflect long enough to work out what we really need from our money (and the precious time spent to earn it) and what we want, ultimately and deeply, from life.

Everyone has a different notion of what it means to survive. We are born into a one budget and blossom into another based on the times.

Every act of life is loaded with so much more gear, technology, equipment, and expense.

Restraint. Proportion. Invention. All form a holy trinity to living better, and deeper, without so many of the props."

-Anna Johnson

Monday, June 11, 2012

it's a brand new day

Every day is a brand new day. Yet today is somehow more magical that the last few ones that have gone before. Something is shifting inside me, my soul compass pointing to its True North. The clouds of doubts and fear clearing from the sky of my dreams. The oceans of my heart pour in with the tide, pulled by the moon. The moon is my heart, sometimes broken in half, sometimes whole and brimming with light. The morning is an ally, the sun is the hand that holds me all together, fire melding all my broken parts.

Today I feel myself venturing farther and deeper even though everything seems to look the same. The words call, waiting to be poems. The colors swirl with excitement, waiting to be anything on a blank page. The muse sits just beyond the ordinary, a hand held out, and her sigh is an endless music.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

day of The Artist's Way

I have started on this book last month and then I had to put it aside for money work.

But today I resumed reading it after savoring the wonderful delightful feeling of completing all the day's chores by 9AM simply because I made myself wake up and get up at 6AM.

So basically I am FINALLY doing something I've been wanting to do for weeks since I put this book aside for money work. (I have also been wanting to play Skyrim for weeks. Maybe I will do that tonight after dinner. We'll see.)

I have read this book way back in the late 90s and I have forgotten most of the wisdom I have gained from it. As I travel through its pages again I could feel my spirit remembering.

"The quality of life is in proportion, always, to the capacity for delight. The capacity for delight is the gift of paying attention." - Julia Cameron

pasta for lunch

I was watching Criminal Minds and saw the episode where Agent Rossi had the team over for cooking lessons in his home and he cooked pasta. That made me want pasta so I hunted in my refrigerator and kitchen cabinets for anything I could throw together into a pasta dish.

I am so sorry that I totally forgot to take a photo of the cooked dish because the moment I smelled/saw/tasted it, I lost all control and just gobbled it all up.

But here is the recipe in case you want to see and taste for yourself:

1. Cook bacon until crisp then set aside.
2. Saute in olive oil some garlic, then add fresh mushrooms.
3. Add the tomatoes (I use whole canned tomatoes.)
4. Let simmer for a minute or two.
5. Add bacon.
6. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, oregano. and basil. Taste and adjust the seasonings as preferred.

By this time you should have cooked the pasta al dente.

Serve the sauce over pasta.

day 6 : Draw Your Favorite Book

My favorite book is poemcrazy by Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge. I got it in May of 1997 and my copy is so yellowed and the pages are starting to get brittle. This book has gotten me through many phases in my life and has certainly gotten me to write countless poems (some of which I hope to self-publish soon). It has kept me sane by helping me contain my insanities. It has nurtured my creative spirit. It has comforted and consoled me in my sad days. And most importantly it has always inspired me to explore my own path  and map my own journey in words.

Friday, June 8, 2012

day 5 : draw your best friend(s)

Day 5 of the Drawing Challenge is to draw my best friend. Well I have two. One is my best friend from college, Jennee, who is now living in Canada and having a dreams-coming-true period in her life. My other best friend is my sister (and partner-in-craft), Peachie who has proven that soul is thicker than blood. They are the only two people I can literally discuss anything with and just knows, in an almost creepy way, the right thing to say and do.

They also love cats as much as I do. If the three of us were to rule the world, there would not be any lack for cat shelters.

My sister's sketch above was inspired by her photo below, exhibiting the messy high bun.

days 3-4

I had a client presentation yesterday and a last-minute cram preparation the day before that so I did not get to post my days 3 and 4 drawing challenge. So here they are:

Day 3 - Favorite Food

This was a tough choice but I picked something that I would eat at any time, regardless of moods or cravings. Fruits. I love fruits. They are healthy, light, and refreshing. They are the most natural foods ever and they are sweet in the way that only fruits can be. To represent fruits I chose watermelon, and here I show the red and yellow variety both of which I love. The yellow tends to be sweeter and is more expensive than the more common red. Watermelons remind me of summer and beach trips and childhood.

Day 4 : Favorite Place

My favorite place is by the sea. And my most favorite place is having a writing/reading/creative desk by the sea. With endless supply of fresh coffee. Piles of books and Moleskine and a bottle of ink and a fountain pen. A typewriter. And the sea swishing and splashing a short distance away. The sand scratchy beneath my feet and between my toes. The wind gentle and refreshing. The sun shielded by a printed cloth umbrella. And a soft pile of pillows nearby for quick naps.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

digital photography workshop

I took one last May 27. It was a whole-day class and I took it for the following reasons:

- I wanted to make the most of my DSLR.
- I wanted to know what kind of lens I need to make the shots I want.
- I wanted to have more confidence taking photos and composing my shots.
- I have tried reading a number of beginner's photography books but I simply could not get past the technical stuff. I was hoping an actual person explaining it in local layman's terms will be easier for me.
- I wanted to meet new people.

I am happy to say that all of the above were met and fulfilled. It was a very simple workshop and really designed for beginners. What I loved most about it though was how the technical stuff was discussed and demonstrated -- I finally get the whole shutter and aperture and ISO thing. I also appreciated the way that we were made to work with our own camera and that every feature and button was discussed and explained. It was very practical. When I got home I was able to put most of what I learned to practice.

I also now know that I want a 50mm f1.8 lens. It will cost me about Php5,000 so I need to save up for it.

Meanwhile let me share some shots from the workshop. The last couple of hours were spent shooting models who were came specifically to pose for us.

There I am, the only girl with glasses :) 

While it was fun to have subjects willing to be shot, I find that I prefer to capture them when they are in a more natural state. So I try to catch them in-between poses and before they realize that I am aiming the camera at them.

The workshop also inspired me to really get my photo editing and management system in place because with the volume of photos I would be taking, I could not afford to waste disk space and time trying to find the ones I want.

I also realized that I have not been doing as badly as I thought when it comes to photography. :)

What have you been learning about lately?

Day 2 : Draw Your Favorite Animal

Hands down, I love cats.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Day 1 : Draw Yourself

So here goes my first day of the 30-day drawing challenge. I first sketched with pencil then completed the drawing with oil pastels. I have a fondness for pastels because of how the colors layer on thick and bright and intense. At the same time it blends. I love the waxy feel in my hands and I love how the color spreads on the paper and layers over as the color stick itself diminishes -- visible transformation from medium to artwork!

So this is supposed to be me. It's how I look inside anyway, how my spirit looks like. The retro wild child flavor is something that has been distinct about me, with just enough dash of weird and a generous sprinkling of geek. I used to not like those aspects of myself when I was younger because I thought they made me weak and uninteresting. I even did not like wearing glasses (I have been nearsighted since high school). But now I realize that they make me what I am, and what I am is strong and creative and beautiful in ways that are beyond popular standards.

What do you see in your inner mirror?

starting the 30-day drawing challenge

As part of my intentions to live a creative and inspired life, I will now embark on the 30-day drawing challenge. My sister attempted it a few weeks back but she only got up to Day 12. She is also the one who recommended that I try it.

If you're interested you can check out their Facebook page.

I will post my Day 1 drawing tonight. :)

beach trip : days 5-7

When my sister arrived in the morning of Sunday, it was the beginning of three days of not doing much except sleep, swim, read, eat, and laze about. We did walk long distances to check out cheaper eating places but most of the time we hanged out in the resort's resto bar and read in between dips into the sea. The resort has its own ladder that leads down into the water straight from the resto bar.

The mornings were perfect for swimming because of the high tide while the afternoons were perfect for exploring the sea floor that becomes exposed during low tide. We also enjoyed the cloudscapes across the wide blue sky every day.

We had to pass this path many times and we did our best not to look down at the water and rocks below. It's a pretty narrow path that curves rather sharply and it leads to the main beach where everyone else would be.

Even now I miss the hours spent in the open air, sea scent enveloping us, a book in my hands, and nothing to worry about.

On our last day we almost gave in to the temptation of extending our stay for one more day. But I had a project waiting to be implemented the day after and I knew I would regret it in the end. So we made the most of our last day, packed our bags, said goodbye to the sea, and promised to return soon.

Where have you been lately?

Sunday, June 3, 2012

this is about today

I've been posting a lot about overdue stories so I would like to sign off with today's last post on a more current note.

Just a few snapshots on how my Sunday went. Pretty quiet and calm. I stayed at home, didn't spend any money, watched a lot of Criminal Minds (I really love that Spencer Reid), roasted a chicken, made some gelatin dessert, cleaned the house. Tomorrow is going to be my day-off from work (I assigned Monday to be my regular day-off so I would have enough recovery time with a long weekend) although I will probably sneak in a few hours just to make sure nothing surprises me on Tuesday.

Goodnight everyone! Hope you all had a great weekend!

beach trip : days 2-4

The next two days were social days. I spent much of the time meeting up with friends who were also attending the wedding. I did not get to take photos because I was too intent on conversing and catching up.

I did take photos in the mornings and in-between meet-ups usually as I took long walks along the beach.

I also discovered a resort that I would like to stay in next time. It's called Nami (the japanese word for "wave") and it's right next to Spider House.

Nami Resort is the one with the layered rooms and very prominent on the rocky hill. They have an elevator that takes  guests to the restaurant which offers a fantastic view.
At the wedding reception I received a bouquet of flowers from the bride (who has been my friend since college). Instead of throwing out her bouquet, she had special bouquets made for selected single friends. I think that was a really sweet and thoughtful gesture.

My sister was due to arrive on the fifth day to join me while my friend Eric left for Manila on Saturday to catch up on work. I spent my solo time by reading and walking along the beach and pondering on many, many things.

Next: Vacation and bonding time with my sis!