Thursday, September 20, 2012

thursday thoughts

Lately I've been rained on by various posts and quotes about weeding out people in your life who only bring in negativity and who discourage you from a path of love and growth. It's like a beacon flashing insistently, calling my attention. I have done something like this before and I realized that it is not a one-time thing because as you yourself grow and evolve, your own needs and contributions to a friendship also change. The ideal is to have friends who grow with you no matter what. But sadly, very, very few pass the test of dealing with both failure and success in one's life. There are people who are only your friends when you are successful, and there are those who prefer that you are forever failing so they can feel better about themselves.

As an adult, finding and cultivating friendships is not as easy as when I was in my twenties and just starting out from college. Especially now that I have become clearer about the kind of life that I wish to live and how I want to grow, it has also become clearer that some people in my life are detrimental to that dream life either by bringing in negative energies or withholding support. But at the same time, in unexpected ways and along unexpected paths and places, I discover other people whose spirits and hearts are attuned with mine. They reach out from the clouds of my uncertain friendships and lay a reassuring hand on my heart. They send surprise notes and comments of encouragement and appreciation. The best are those who express that I have somehow helped them with the little that I have shared, that they find inspiration in what I have shown.

It is not a bad thing to remove people from your life who are no longer in harmony with it. The same way that I will not take it badly if I am let go of, just as I have been by some people that I only realized in the past few weeks. My response is to return the favor of setting them free. We have served each other's purpose in each other's life, now it is time to move on.

We will always be drawn to kindred spirits, even if it takes time as the universe sorts out the glitches and the obstacles and sets up the stage for serendipitous encounters. It could be triggered by a single note of gratitude, a simple expression of appreciation, or a single thoughtful message sent on impulse. You will know, your heart will know, by the feeling of warmth and joy that will spread from the core of your being. You will feel yourself smiling. You will feel your day brightening.

I believe that we will find truer friends when we also become true to ourselves. First we are a true friend to ourselves and then we draw others. In the past couple of years I have recognized those who have always seen me for who and what I am even when I myself was blind to my own self. They are still with me, their soul-strings attached to mine, spanning time and distances and life-milestones. They are few, but they are precious. And now that I am more attuned to my own self I am even more fierce in my love and appreciation for these people. They never let go, they never turned away, they never closed themselves. I am only too eager to prove worthy of such friendships, to nurture, to share.

There are many, many ways to be a true friend. It does not always lie in doing the same thing over and over again until the thing loses its meaning but you keep doing it anyway and then you are no longer sure why it always has to be that way. It is not just about sending birthday gifts without fail. It's not just about sharing the same interests, or the same club, or the same schedules. For me, based on my experiences, a true friend, a kindred spirit, shows up at the perfect moment even when you don't realize you are needing it at that very moment. And then you do realize you were needing it and it was... perfect. It's the little gestures more than the grand ones that make the difference most of the time. The recognition and support of what you value most. The sharing and openness because you both want to give each other the best possible chance on anything in life. The quiet cheering that you can feel and hear from the heart. The fact that you don't see each other much but when you do it's like you pick up where you left off in a way that is not stuck or stagnant, but in a way that you have both grown and yet you still fit together. That is such beautiful assurance, that is like coming home and finding new lovely things. There are upward or deeper movements, not vicious circles. The felt mutual-ness of everything, that certainty that what you have is two sides of one coin, not a one-sided, lopsided kind of thing where you hit blank walls and locked doors and you wonder why you have soul bruises. It takes two to tango and all that jazz.

For all my old true friends, thank you for being constant stars in my oft-dark-and-stormy life.

For all my new true friends, let us make more inspiring stories of growth and support and love.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

quick shots

I've been busy -- mainly drawing, painting, writing, reading, and today it was working.

My house chores are way behind but I'm pleased with the creative productivity.

The week started well and hopeful.
Latest piece. I have quite a number of drawings waiting for color in line.
Making the wait for a meeting worthwhile with a book. Finished two books this week.
I have a watcher keeping me safe and supervised every day.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

to the farmer's market

“We very strongly hope that the traditional will not be lost. One really worries, because our mothers all cooked but I doubt if our children will. Our grandchildren? Who knows? Maybe they’ll open packages for dinners. There is a real danger of cultural loss if you lose food, just like when you lose a language.” -Doreen G. Fernandez

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

a surge

I spent most of today painting. Couldn't help it. Couldn't stop. The blank pages drew me in and made me draw.
I finished this one last night.
This is my first finished piece for the day. Watercolor + Gouache
Today's second piece : Watercolor + Gouache + Lace
A Special Piece for my best friend in Canada. The photo does not do justice to the colors or texture so she will still have a bit of a surprise when she gets the real thing. :)
Third piece started but I made myself stop so I could take a breathe and rest. It would not do to deplete my creative well so soon.
I have started drawing and painting in my sketchbooks instead of hiding in the safety of my art journal pages. I can actually tear the pages off and frame the pieces. Maybe I will do that one day.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

oh joys!

I was out for most of the day. I just got home now (it's almost five o'clock in the afternoon).

Do you trust this face?

First I dropped off a number of things at my parents' house -- most are long overdue errands that I finally got around to completing.

Second I went to meet up with my bookseller friend who is also my main source for Moleskine, Field Notes, and Fashionary notebooks (and lots of rare finds in secondhand books). I got a Fashionary in pastel yellow to see if it and I will be a productive and creative pair.

My dear friend and I had a really good catching up and my spirits were definitely cheered (given my recent bouts with a few specific stressful situations). As I was window-shopping later in the afternoon I thought about what made the meet-up and the conversation so enjoyable and heartwarming, and this is what I wrote in my journal (written in a cafe during a quick break):

"What conversations between friends should be: enlightening, interesting, a mutual exchange of information, open sharing, relaxed, laced with genuine laughter (as opposed to mocking laughter or derisive laughter or making-fun-of laughter or fake/polite laughter), free comfortable exchange of questions and answers, sharing of ideas, without competition or seeking to impress to elevate status, no defensiveness, no suspicions, no careless criticisms, no judgements, no unkind or demeaning jokes, mutually supportive and encouraging. Time will pass and you won't feel it and you won't mind if you do realize that you have just consumed an hour just conversing."

So it wasn't much of a surprise that I was walking around the mall with a small happy smile on my face.  Even just one good friend can do wonders to raise one's level of optimism and satisfaction about life.

I next went to a bookstore and after much staring and lingering at the really expensive Derwent products locked inside the glass display cabinets, I approached a saleslady to ask how much the Derwent Waterbrush cost. I was thinking it would be perfect for when I need my art materials to be portable. It costs Php400 for a single brush! That's expensive. So it went on my to-save-up-for list.

However I did not leave the bookstore empty-handed because I found a decently-priced set of gouache. I've been wanting to try it and I did promise myself a little treat for the week.

Supermarket shopping was next on my to-do, but I just picked very specific items that I could not find in my regular supermarket. Hence I hoarded arugula and organic romaine lettuce and I got special fish steaks for my dad's birthday lunch on Monday. The rest of my grocery list can be filled in tomorrow in my regular store.

Last stop was to check Healthy Options for loose leaf tea as I am totally out. I have Earl Grey and English Breakfast but I've been craving for something fruity and not in a bag.

I have to say that this Saturday has been a joyful day indeed. And it's not even over yet -- while I fuss with my newly-acquired goodies I am also waiting for my sister to call and let me know if we will be having dinner out. But even if that does not push through, there is more than enough happiness spilled over from the morning and afternoon to get me through humming well into the night.

How is your weekend going?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

books and grandmothers

I went on an short walk yesterday to clear my head and to get some air. I also decided to drop by the warehouse store across the street from my building which sells tons of overruns and other imported bargain items.

There was a section on second-hand books so naturally I browsed patiently as much as I could stand the heat (the warehouse was very poorly air-conditioned). I was rewarded for my efforts with three books at ridiculously low prices.

One was a copy of The Hero Within by Carol S. Pearson, a classic favorite among Jungian enthusiasts (I learned about it when I attended a Jungian Summer Class way back in the late 1990s). It's quite hard to find and when I chanced upon it in a bookstore it cost about Php600. I already have my own copy but I could not let this other copy go. So I bought it and gifted it to my sister who also has an appreciation for mythology and archetypes. It only cost Php69.

The second book is titled Sixteen Pleasures and it's a story set in Italy. I remember that I used to have that very same book many years ago but I never got to read it and then it got sold during a major clutter-clearing phase. It only cost Php59 so I thought of it as a second chance to read the book. I have also been lately gravitating to a lot of Italian (food, books, even the video game I am currently playing is set in Italy!) so I am indulging myself.

The third book is the best of them all at Php45 (that's roughly a dollar). It's a beautiful cookbook with beautiful illustrations on Mexican cooking titled My Abuela's Table.

Abuela means Grandmother. 

This inspired me further to keep on working on my own personal recipe book project where I intend to include my grandmother's own recipe. A few years ago she gave me a notebook where she had handwritten her own recipes for my own use. The notebook itself is falling to pieces so I better rescue the pages!

Have you had any lucky finds lately?

Sunday, September 2, 2012


I could really use some perspective on a matter that I am working to resolve right now. Either I jump in ahead or wait for the waters to flood in. There are quite a number of factors and feelings to consider. And there is also a deadline. For now I go for the best advice of the moment: make art.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

the gifts of clarity

Ever since I have been clarifying aspects of my life in the past few days and acting according to that clarity, there have been little events that demonstrate how things can fall into place.

No it's not magic or superstition. The way I see it, because I am clear with what I want and where I want to go, then my own awareness is attuned to that clarity. As a result, I am better able to spot opportunities or to recognize the things, people, and events, that can be helpful to my cause.

As opposed to being vague and uncertain, even if all the chances were given me, I would fail to recognize them as opportunities because I would not be sure that they are indeed opportunities. There would be doubt and there would be fear and there would be a lot of hesitation.

I am not even referring to grandiose desires here. Even with little things this whole formula of clarity leading to paths does work. When I am sure and clear then I am better able to discern what the next best step would be. And it is not about knowing exactly how and what the next step is for the whole stretch, but simply knowing at that exact perfect moment that it is time for the next step. My intuition is sharper. My gut-feel is more solid.

One of the first things I became clear with is my desire to literally write better and write more. I mean writing by hand, improving my penmanship, creating more handwritten works such as letters and postcards and design in general. I have been greatly inspired by a friend and role model, Leigh, who has very beautiful handwriting (and who also happens to be a passionate pen collector). I have been shying away from acknowledging my own enthusiasm for pens and handwriting until I actually lost patience with myself and decided that I want to nurture that aspect of me. Hence I made that post openly acknowledging myself as a pen enthusiast and its natural relation to a fondness for calligraphy and lettering.

So that became clear to me : I want to learn more and practice better handwriting, I want to eventually be able to do some level of calligraphy, I want to have my own modest pen collection, I want to integrate my writing skills into my artwork, I want a stronger handwriting habit in my daily life, I want to have a decent foundation of knowledge on pens and inks and their applications.

One of the first things I did was send a personal message to Leigh to thank her for her very enlightening blog because reading her posts definitely helped steer me in the right direction -- very useful since I really had no idea how to begin. In response, she gave me a vintage pen -- which for me was like a blessing and a welcome and a recognition all rolled into one. Her generosity helped dismantle the last few traces of any hesitation to move forward.

The note was written with the pen. Sadly I cannot yet reproduce the same quality of penmanship. :D
On that very same day, my mom stumbled upon my long missing glass dip pen -- it has been missing for years.

Today I took a walk around the neighborhood and found myself in a Surplus Shop specializing in items from Japan. I left the store with:

Five Ink Brushes at only Php10 each. 
A brush pen (also at Php10) that looks like it can be refilled with ink. It writes beautifully.
From deciding to evolve the literal act of writing it naturally followed that my own writing, the poems, the stories, the journals, also took a step to level up. It is like a whole Writing Revolution in my life, my writing is expanding itself and deepening itself, both inside (content and meaning) and outside (penmanship and calligraphy).

Already I am beginning to feel its ripple effect on other aspects of my life. The next thing to be bathed in the spotlight of clarity is my desire for baking, which in itself has always been on a defensive half-baked stance. I have started to sort it out since last night, and the resolution of the matter will be the subject of another post.

Have a great weekend!