Monday, June 17, 2013

do more happy

Yes, yes, I should be working not sneaking another blog post.

But this particular project I am working on has been triggering all my inner alarms. It has even led me directly into an old Evernote entry where I made a first attempt to craft my Life Purpose according to Jack Canfield's Success Principles plus a host of other inspirational books.

My first attempt was true but trying too hard. It was unwieldy.

This time's attempt is clearer and it gave me that feeling of rightness.


And you know what, it starts with the very example of my own life. Which brings me back as to why my inner alarms were sounding so loud. The path that I have been considering is not one that makes me feel happy or fulfilled. My logical mind can argue for its financial benefits but not much else. There is admirable leadership within that path but the day-to-day realities that will impact most on myself, my sanity, my purpose, are where the not-too-happy feeling is coming from.

A dear friend called me up from Indonesia the other day and she has given me a lot of good advice to think about. But one important thing she made me realize is appreciation for the amazingness that is my life right now. It may not pass social standards of a typical successful life but it does pass for the many people who have expressed their desire to be able to do what I did -- to take the captain's wheel of my life and navigate it through a temperamental sea. To be willing to throw so many things overboard. To leave the safe harbor.

It has not been an easy journey. I will admit that there were many many times I considered heading back to shore. 

But then every morning there is a beautiful sun that rises from the horizon, turning the water around me into gold.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

what i want

But I have had to do a lot of errands and work even over the weekend. I did manage to read and finish Why We Broke Up (third book from top of pile) but felt so horribly guilty and stressed afterwards because I read instead of working. I hated the feeling.

Hence I worked all Sunday, only pausing to celebrate Father's Day with my family, and I secretly envied everyone I saw in the restaurant and in the mall because they did not have to go home to work.

I was feeling so low that I could not even appreciate the books in the book shops, nor was I in the mood for any indulgent snack. The work kept bouncing around in my head and I was busy convincing myself that I would get it done.

I did buy myself a little something to remind me of why I got myself into this bit of a mess in the first place, and at the same time also to remind me of the resolutions I have come to in the past four days. I dug up an old Evernote post and everything was there, all the answers I have been looking for.

"To be 'on purpose' means you're doing what you love to do, doing what you're good at and accomplishing what's important to you. When you truly are on purpose, the people, resources, and opportunities you need naturally gravitate toward you." (Jack Canfield)

"Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary." (Steve Jobs)

My dream of London is as big and as strong as ever. But there are many ways and many paths to get there. It does not have to be a sacrifice, or a costly trade-off of time and passion and joy. The obvious most logical choice does not always mean the only way or the best way. There are off-beaten paths. There are paths behind wardrobes. There are possibilities inside blue boxes.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

my tiny studio

I am being pretentious by calling it my studio. It really is just a tiny corner where I somehow manage to squeeze in myself, the computer, and my materials.

This is also where I do my dayjob work so sometimes you can't pull me out of it and sometimes I can't wait to get out of it.

Right now that's a whole pile of dayjob work on the right side of the desk.

My cat often curls up on the rug beneath the table so I sometimes end up with a footwarmer.

The light is good though. I get lots of morning sunshine.

apple morning

I got some gala apples from the grocery yesterday. I have been craving for fresh fruits but I am flabbergasted by how expensive they are. I got a few apples and a couple of grapefruits.

I had strange dreams last night of moving into a new office that looked like a house. People had typewriters instead of computers.

It really depends on the apple... but I would love a David Tennant doctor anytime.

What am I up to today? Surprisingly, maybe because I took time to wake up slowly, and then made myself breakfast without rushing, and then I made time for taking photos (all photos taken with my digital SLR), I am actually feeling benevolent about working. I have lined up my frogs and it will be a rather long day.

But on the side I promised myself I will 1) read 2) draw or paint in my small notebook 3) write at least one scene for the novel - there is a character who has been hovering in my head trying to catch my attention.

Monday, June 10, 2013

monday meanderings

I really should not be meandering. I am up to my eyeballs in to-dos and I have been having bouts of hyperventilation since this morning from sheer stress over work.

Taking power naps help to calm me down, as well as eating. Then there's sneaking in a few chapters from a book and stealing a few minutes to paint.

For the rest of June, my work schedule will be rather tricky. Three projects overlapping. I know I mentioned sometime ago that I would not even attempt doing TWO simultaneous projects and now I have three. What can I say? The bills have to be paid and one of those three projects has proven to be a profit loss for me so I have to make up for that loss by stuffing in two other projects.

Bills and day-jobs can really be major killjoys sometimes.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

the infinite stuff

There is no lack. The gifts of the universe are limitless. Be grateful. Know what you want. Be the best you can be. Be authentic. Be true to your passions. What is yours will come to you if you truly believe. Have faith. Life is always good. Be patient. Follow your true path. Find your North Star.

a sunday cat, and some sunday thoughts

I have been trying to get myself to work since this morning. So far I have ended up writing pieces that had nothing to do with work, and watching the last episode of Downton Abbey, and reading a book.

It is impossible to work on a Sunday. One can feel the holiday-ness of it. Even the sun is a certain shade of gold that meant Rest and Play.

I thought I have not made any art for weeks so I took out my little Moleskine plain notebook and made this:

I was hoping it would get me energized to work. It didn't. Why do I even bother to try to work in the first place? I think I feel guilty for being sick last Friday and not being able to work at all.

I also do not trust my immense capacity to:

Work pains me. At least the kind of work that takes me away from the writing I want to do and the art I want to make. It would not have been so bad if it were simple work, nothing that taxed me to the point of exhaustion. But the nature of my day-job demands a lot of mental effort, and mental effort is exhausting. I also have to exert extra effort to make up for my lukewarm heart.

I am reading this book on the science of success and I can understand perfectly what it is trying to say but as simple as it sounds, it is very difficult to practice. My mind is a noisy babble of anxiety and impatience that possibly slows me down towards the life I want.

I must not be distracted. The day-job is a means to an end. I must be careful not to get trapped as if it is an end in itself. I was in that cage once. I must never get caught again.

"Play your roles, but KNOW that they are NOT YOU." - Joseph Campbell

i am a bookaholic

It started when I was twelve years old. It was during summer vacation and my best friend then took me to the public library. I was the kind of kid who stayed home so I discovered places only when people took me to them. I was thrilled to find out I could get my own library card without much fuss. I did and that was the beginning.

Being twelve, I started off with the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew. But those quickly ran out because I was a voracious reader. I read two to three books in a day or two and I had to go to the library at least thrice a week during the summer and twice during schooldays.

I began venturing into bookstores and touching the shiny brand new books on the shelves. I began smelling books and loved both new-book-smells and old-book-smells. When I was in high school, I asked that my Christmas and birthday gifts be books. Brand new ones from the bookstore. The librarians in the public library became fond of me, and waved away fines and gave me extensions and most especially, allowed me to take out more books than was permitted.

In college I was fortunate to get into a university with a very impressive library. I became its denizen and the librarians there also gave me the same privileges. I used up three to four library cards in a single semester.

Any extra money I saved up from my allowances I used to buy books.

When I started working, I spent a lot of money on books. At one point I had more than a thousand crammed in the tiny bedroom that I shared with my sister in the small apartment where I lived with my family.

I would buy books almost every week. Not just from bookstores with their brand new volumes but also from second-hand book shops. Then the internet happened and I discovered an online auction site for books and I outbid everyone else on the books I wanted. The owner of that site eventually became a very good friend.

Sometime in 1999 I sold off more than half of my book collection to fund a trip.

Two years later I moved to a higher-paying job and was able to replenish my personal library. It was even more intense that time, the book-buying, for the books took the place of everything else that work did not consume. Books became my lifeline to sanity.

Eight years later I quit the job that had been eating up my life and then I started selling off my books again to raise funds to sustain a freelancer's life. Now I wish I had been more discerning because there were titles I wish I never sold.

Three years later I began the process of recovering the books I had lost and adding new ones that feed my rediscovered passions. My library today has about 500-600 books, including those in my Kindle.

In the past three years I have simplified my lifestyle to the point that I have significantly reduced my monthly spendings and have channeled my retail therapy to just three things: books, writing materials, and art materials.

I particularly enjoy fantasy, fairy tales, mythology, basically anything with magic and supposedly impossible things. I also like a bit of philosophy and psychology. I like books on writing and poetry - Susan Wooldridge, Anne Lamott, Ann Patchett. I like the occasional chick lit and I like inspirational books along the lines of Julia Cameron, Zen, Anna Johnson, Paulo Coelho. I have favorites among the classics : Jane Austen's novels, Sherlock Holmes, the mysteries of Agatha Christie. I like food and travel books : Ruth Reichl, M.F.K. Fisher, Jamie Oliver.

In authors I absolutely love Neil Gaiman. Then there's Nick Bantock, Barbara Hodgson -- writers who are also artists. I love Sarah Addison Allen.  Joseph Campbell is right up there with Neil.

I admire bloggers who have become authors -- Holly Becker and Grace Bonney.

There are many others but I don't want to make this a very long list. I will write about most of them anyway as I read through the days.

My latest book loot is from yesterday, when I stepped out to air myself after being cooped up for two days because I was ill. I wandered into the secondhand bookshop in the supermarket and walked out with these:

The Ethnography book is just a geeky thing for me because it is part of what I do to earn a living. And it is ridiculously cheap at Php50.

The Dante Club is something I have been curious about and the copy was in very good condition for only Php148. I plan to read the original Dante before reading this one to enhance my appreciation.

The School Of Essential Ingredients is hardbound and I have a sample of it in my Kindle and it is on my to-buy list. I paid less than half for what it would cost me to purchase it on Kindle. A great bargain indeed.

This week alone I spent twice on books. But I don't splurge on anything else. No more clothes and shoes I would only wear once. No more wasteful time and money spent with pseudo-friends. No more unnecessary products in the grocery cart. Yes, it is all about books, writing, and art now. But most especially books.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

my very own Project Life

I am inspired by Becky Higgins and her Project Life. But I cannot afford her beautiful templates and kits plus at some point I still want to do a bit more hands-on when I put things like this together. I also want space for my writing, lots of writing, not just photos and images. So I decided to design my own Project Life by getting a plain ring binder, printing papers, magazine scraps, old decorative calendars, and the like to help me get started. It is also a great way for me to have a hard copy of all my digital journals and blog posts -- my own way of securing myself a copy of everything I have written with a computer and thus taking away the fear that they would all be lost in cyberspace when the zombie apocalypse comes around.

There is a lot of cutting and glueing and doodling and coloring involved. Very therapeutic. I also find myself re-reading old journal entries and realizing that I had worked out some things that have been troubling me without realizing it at the time. I also enjoy discovering the patterns in my writing topics which help me with whatever it is that I am struggling with at the moment.

Right now I would love to do this all day but I need to get some work tasks done. How I wish for the day when I will never say those words "need to get some work tasks done"! How I wish that all I need ever say is "need to finish writing the latest book" or "need to complete the pieces for the next exhibit"!

sick day and introverted musings

I have been under the weather all day yesterday. I suspect an intense stress and anxiety attack as the main cause. Things at work are rather stirred up at the moment and important decisions have to be made.

In the middle of all this I found myself thinking about a bit of a revamp for this blog. Maybe it's my way of coping with all the other matters that demanded for my time and attention. I am also feeling that familiar itch to lock myself up in a room for days and write my books without interruption.

It is Saturday and I will have to get some work tasks done. Then tonight I might be stepping out a bit to visit a friend whose father had just died. If events unfold as planned I might also end up telling another person how much I had been hurt by his behavior weeks ago and for which I have hardly forgiven him.

Yes, it is most likely too much anxiety and stress that is getting me all sick and tired in every sense of the words.

I am reading this book :

It is written by Sophia Dembling and it caught my attention while I was browsing in the bookstore last Thursday.  It is easy to read and very uplifting for an introvert like me.

I like the chapter that discusses friendship:

"What is a friend? We probably all have out own definitions. For me, it's someone I don't feel alone with. Who doesn't bore me. Whose life I connect with and who takes reciprocal interest in my life. It's someone I feel comfortable turning to when I need to be talked off the ledge, and for whom I am glad to return the favor."

"Once we start investing in a friendship, we start weighing what we get back. It's a make-or-break time. And for introverts, the investment can feel costly in terms of energy expended. It's the points when we start asking, 'why bother?' --- a legitimate question, as long as it's treated as a question rather than a blow off. Is this person willing to see you, and fun to be with, one-on-one? Does the conversation flow? Is it satisfying? Do you feel energized or depleted after time with this person? I love friendships where the conversation is so interesting, you can't end it even when the visit is supposed to be over."

Sometimes I feel I could use a couple more people who could be real friends. I could relate when my sister moans her lack of a girlfriend posse. We both dream of a constant group of four to five girls sharing the same values and overlapping some interests. The values are important. We could like totally different music but having the same values mean we agree on the things that matter -- in our case those would include compassion for animals and care for nature, reciprocity and responsiveness in relationships, respect for religious beliefs, just to name a few.

I am an introvert who is rather pained by the fact that I have to survive in the world of advertising. I am writing myself a whole notebook on the subject to sort it out and maybe find something that could ease me through until the time that I could fully focus on my book-writing and art-making. I don't want t spend days of my life just gritting my teeth through "shoulds" and "musts" until I could literally afford to be simply a writer and an artist.

Sometimes I feel like the effort will kill me. Pushing myself to be the kind of person everyone expects and then be the kind of person I really am. It's a tightrope walk without a net.

I promise to be brighter soon.

Thursday, June 6, 2013


Bills to pay loom every month. I have to keep working to keep paying. I wish there was a better alternative to all this.
I badly want to make art but I am struggling with work.
A little bit made for someone whom I really like and admire so much and who has been inspiring me no end for the past eight years.
My NaNoWriMo novel is getting some good treatment in between heavy loads of work. 
Recovering old titles I had and loved and sold years before to raise funds for a trip.
Discovered and loving Snapeee, a photo app.
What I hope to do more consistently every single day.