Saturday, July 21, 2012

domestic rewards

I worked late last night to finish a full step in the project that is due by the end of the month. During breaks, which I had to give in to because my right hand would be stiff and aching from pure mouse work of selecting, dragging, and double-clicking through 20-plus pages of single-spaced transcripts in order to categorize their data, I would browse through my online magazine subscriptions.

I ended up purchasing an issue from three magazines to see what they're like and if I would feel like subscribing. They are all from the Home section. It must have been the books I have been reading lately, specifically The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Pie Society, and after that The Gardener's Bed-Book, both of which evoked the charms and romance of bygone eras when home-keeping had its own ceremonies and the simple act of going to bed was a sacred ritual in its own right. They made me ache for a country home surrounded by nature and they made me dream of herb gardens. They made me want to spend my days cooking delicious meals and sewing and making art and crafting, reading with the afternoon tea, gathering family together, writing endless journals with pieces of wild nature and daily life mementos pasted or stuck between the pages.

So here are what I purchased in an effort to soothe the hunger I have been feeling:

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

sneaking snippets

I am experimenting with a new way of work scheduling which tries to be in harmony my own natural productive rhythm. Basically my work energy is a long snake of peaks and valleys, with the peaks tending to be sharp but of short duration, while the valleys tend to be long and deep. For years I have been trying to discipline myself into the standard mold of working for 3-4 hours straight so I could squeeze all work in the morning and the early afternoon and have a full evening free. I have always miserably failed. 

So if I can't beat my own rhythm then maybe, finally, I should try working with it. So far, so good. I am able to produce good work in short intense bursts but I need to step back and get out for about twice or thrice the amount of time, depending on the leap in progress. My accomplishment during the peaks are such that they can actually compensate for the equivalent of three hours of work even if I churned them out in only an hour or less. Strange how the brain works sometimes. 

When I peak after allowing myself to languish in the valley, I am able to achieve the same level of accomplishment as the previous peak. But when I force myself to work through the valleys, by the time I should be peaking again, I could not reach the same level of peak as before because I would be too exhausted mentally and emotionally from battling through the valleys. Making sense? :D

So anyway, during those valley time I do chores, cook myself nice meals to nourish me through all the mental labor, read, play some video game, and sneak in some painting (for some reason, writing and painting outside of work sort of robs mental energy and stamina from the work so I try to balance.) 

I content myself with little paintings on corners of pages plus an occasional small piece as I channel most of my energies to getting some money-making work done.

How do you balance your work and non-work stuff?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

it's a working week

I have a big and important report due on the 31st and I am also simultaneously working on a proposal for a potential big project. In other words, I am busy with none of the stuff I usually do like writing creative stuff and painting and reading. Well, I do get to sneak them in a few times but until I send off that big report I would have to console myself with snippets instead of delicious long uninterrupted hours.

Here are a few happy snaps from the past few days:

I hoarded books when my favorite bookstore went on sale over the weekend.

I got myself sweet yellow watermelons plus a lot of other fruits so I'm eating healthy while working.

I've been having lots of coffee too and it is helping to keep me sane during the long work haul.

I've also been listening to my old vintage records every morning and sometimes I keep them playing while I think. Current favorite is the album Italian Songs Everybody Knows by Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians. It makes me feel like I'm on vacation even while I'm working.

I miss painting. I did manage to sneak a few this afternoon and I will post them tomorrow.

How are you doing with your week?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

creative storm, still on-going

My daily journal has fully become a daily art journal. I could not stop myself from decorating almost every page with drawings and watercolor and sometimes even throwing in some mixed pieces of lace, beads, cloth, or magazine clippings.

Many of my pieces were triggered by cravings or some kind of emotion and that's what I let spill on the paper.

I actually have a couple of nice-quality watercolor sketchbooks but for some reason I do not yet feel like spilling myself in them yet. They feel too large, a wide expanse of blankness that somehow presses me to perform just a wee bit better than I do in my journals. Maybe in a few more weeks.

The creative storm will have to lie low for the rest of the week as I attend to a work project that I have expertly navigated away from for the past couple of days when I should have been spending at least 6-8 hours on them each day. Can't afford to cram on this particular one because I definitely don't want it haunting me in any part of the future with requests for re-analysis or clarifications. Hence, I plan to churn out the best report ever and cleanly seal the deal and finally move on. This specific project has dragged on for far too long (first inquiries were sent in December of last year).

So anyway, I'm steeling myself for some intense time periods of Just Working, all art materials safely stowed away, all books out of my line of sight, and a timer making sure I render a minimum of 6 hours of proper work. The upside : I have a good chance of finishing ahead of schedule and ending up with extra time rather than spending the last few days before the deadline cramming. I better stock up on tea and coffee.

What's in store for you for the rest of the week?

wanting to shop for books so badly

I used to have Amazon deliveries on my doorstep at least once every few months when I used to have a  fat paycheck. In addition to that, I made weekly trips to the local bookstores to browse and more often than not ended up buying a book or two.

The downside was I hardly had enough time to read any of my purchases. To-read books piled up faster than I could actually read them.

These days I get to read a lot. I even have the luxury of re-reading favorite books or revisiting pages to search for that perfect quote to write in my day's journal.

The downside is I read faster than I could get my hands on fresh books and I no longer have the fat paycheck. (No, there are no decent public libraries where I live. If there were, I would have probably set up my own nook in each one a long time ago.)

I also have this rather odd habit of reading multiple books simultaneously within a given period. Right now I believe I am actively reading through about eight to ten books.

I read a variety of books but my current mainstays are literary fiction, books on creativity and writing, books on happiness, books on food and cooking, books on home decoration, young adult fantasy, and the occasional chick lit or mass bestseller.

Here is a baker's dozen list of the top books I want to buy now:

And so I sigh with longing.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

saturday night out - after the fact

This is what I wore (an essence of it, at the very least).

I even bothered to paint my nails.

I went with my sister and a friend of ours, Pater Paul, to celebrate our fifth anniversary as kendo players. Although I have not been attending for the past weeks I still want to go back to regular practice. The kendo thing is whole complex story in itself so I won't go into details at this point.

We had dinner and dessert in a cafe. It felt really nice to be out on a Saturday night after so long.

For my part, a lot of feelings were stirred (along with the tea), and one of the things I realized is that I quite miss playing kendo.

However, there is still a lot of work to be done in myself before I can resume practice. There are emotions to be sorted out, truths to be faced, choices and decisions made, reasons clarified.

Another thing I realized is... well, the heart can be tricky and the mind sometimes plays along with it and then where does that leave me? Doomed, I say. A poker-faced heart is not to be trusted.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

saturday night out

After a very long time I will be going out again on a Saturday night. Am quite excited, to be honest. Wondering what to wear, and more important, what to have for dessert!

what if

I had a rather strange dream last night where a really scary old witch who looked like a moving desiccated malevolent corpse zapped lightning into my heart. Except that the witch was neither a corpse nor malevolent. Instead she was a very old wise woman who wields a lot of wisdom and magic. When I woke up I realized that I was not afraid of her at all but was actually seeking her help. In the dream she healed a group of injured women and a very troubled man who turned out to be my soul mate. Her healing took out his confusion and he recognized me for who I am.

Now what on earth could that dream mean?

Friday, July 6, 2012

what's on your refrigerator?

This is in response to and inspired by an interesting post by Chrystina.

So here is how my refrigerator door looks like:

It's like a mini-collage in itself with images meant to inspire me.  My magnets are adorable pieces made of painted wood which I got on sale. I have one magnet of a small sack of beans that I could not resist simply because it was too cute.

I have a functional magnetic green board where I list shopping items as soon as I run out of them.  And there is a magnetic green measuring spoon that was gifted to me last Christmas.

Then there are a lot of photos : one of me holding my first ever batch of baked bread pudding. I have photos of Jamie Oliver because I absolutely love him and his books and his cooking and his food revolution projects. I love his herb gardens and his unwavering enthusiasm to make a difference through his craft. I have photos of plenty and pretty food to instill in me the spirit of abundance even during the worst days. I have a photo of Emma from foodcoma because she is sort of my benchmark in becoming a very good baker and maybe even be lucky enough like her to have a small bakeshop.

What does your refrigerator say about you?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

creative storm

Pushed to the brink and dangled over the edge of the abyss, I was left with no choice but to put uncertain hands on blank pages. Soul took over as soon as I relaxed my death grip on reason. I was starving on so many levels but as the pages filled with color and images and words, a sweet delicious taste flooded me and drowned all my inner censors and doubts.