Sunday, July 23, 2017

My Spring in France (Volume 1)

So last March I wrote this kind of weird post without really touching upon what it was even about. Then I left the blog for almost five months, (which is typical!!) but now that I have some time during which I am intentionally avoiding doing any work/thinking about work to refresh my brain cells, I decided to finally write a bit about MY VACATION IN FRANCE!!!



Now this is just going to be a summary, but I already know it might be a little long. I'll try not to ramble too much and let the pictures do most of the talking, but knowing myself, this might still end up being very wordy, (I mean just this bit explaining is already unnecessarily wordy) so strap yourself in, get an iced coffee, maybe put some music in the background, I don't know man it's your life!!! 

There's already like an 80% chance that you know why I went there. I assume you come from Facebook, which would mean you might know me personally, and might know that that's where Em -I mean Beardy (he's called Beardy here you guys! Shh!)- is from. But here are some things you might not know about this trip:

  1. It's actually only my FIRST time going there. Beardy so far had been the sole crosser of seas in our relationship until then. FOR FIVE HUNDRED YEARRRRS!!!
  2. I've tried and failed before to go, and that's what that last weird post was about! I was then awaiting my Visa application results! Haha.
  3. The first time I attempted to go was in 2014, when the macaron fad had just reached the Ph. And to make things fun, I decided to do a Macaron Strike! Where I managed to refrain from ever trying one before I could go to France and eat one there.

And no, I did not go to Ladurée in Paris to make that happen; we have a branch of that here in Makati. My first macaron (my first six if we're being honest) was procured from a Carrefour, which we don't have in the Philippines. I wasn't really expecting to like them, it was more for the principle of it. The symbolism of it. But hey they were good! Much more interesting that what I had imagined (glorified meringue sandwiches with filling).. They were chewy on the inside and the fillings were really nice. They're not just pretty to look at! Sorry I misjudged you, macarons.


Much of our 7-week vacation was spent just chilling at their home in Brittany, like we used to do the first years that he visited me here. We played lots of board games, played music together with his sister, cooked and ate a lot of nice food, taking scenic walks, and whatever else.


A lot of the time, I was sick while I was there. I unfortunately got a bad case of the coughies shortly before leaving, and the cold/dry environment wasn't too kind to that. It lasted for weeks! And so I wasn't very energetic and needed a lot of rest. But it was still really lovely to be with his family in a mostly relaxed environment! Eating breakfast together while watching birds outside, making LOTS of tea, drinking beer and eating various numnums by a fire (it was still cold enough to merit that in a Breton spring apparently!)... like the sweetest cherry tomatoes I've ever had in my life!




The difference in the general climate is pretty striking:

  • You can have a sunroof in your car or room and NOT turn your room or car into a deadly oven
  • Room temperature water is cold. You don't need to refrigerate water.
  • I can wear makeup without feeling disgusting after a couple hours
  • I can put oil in my hair without it turning into a swampy mess
  • Everything keeps a lot better without so much humidity. Not just food - buildings, towels, dishes, very old books, everything looked newer than they actually were. So it's not just that we're lazy in taking care of our buildings and artefacts here I guess. Climate plays a very important role in preserving culture. Welp. Wind it back a bit there Bea.
  • It's SO MUCH HARDER TO GET UP IN THE MORNING
  • The sun sets around 9pm. This made such a huge difference for me. I often feel like the day is over when the sun is down, and would feel sad during evenings here because everything just feels more dangerous in the dark, and if you weren't done it's like everything you're going to do after the sun sets is already LATE. But when the sun sets at 9pm, it's like just in time for bed, and it felt like I could live the waking hours to the fullest. I wasn't chasing the sun.
  • I wore the same clothes over and over because I didn't really sweat in them much.
  • People are always feeling the weather out, and if it got warm or sunny, people make a point to go outside. To walk instead of driving everywhere. To eat in the patio instead of inside. Here it's as if because there's always a high probability of it being too hot or wet to be outside, even when it's nice and cloudy/cool/dry, we are not programmed to take advantage of that anymore. We stay inside anyway. We wait to be picked up at the entrance of stores even when it's cloudy enough to walk the grocery cart to our cars. I really learned to appreciate good weather now when I experience it. And I love it that I'm not always cold here in the Philippines. I understand Beardy a lot better now when it comes to that.
One of the first days in Brittany. It was warm enough to eat outside so we did, but you bet I braved the cold in the shade just so the sun won't burn my retinas!
A couple of people enjoying the sun in Pont-Aven
  • It can be very cold but also blindingly bright at the same time!!!
*ngiting nakakasilaw nasisilaw*

Really all of this I could have guessed myself but it was still quite an experience actually living it. Like being in Paris. It's such a tourist trap, such a filmic destination, so well-covered in books, films, pictures... It was the France I "knew" before I ever went. But it's SO different from the rest of the country! I never imagined that the feeling I'd have upon arriving in Paris was... STRESS! Because I've been spoiled for weeks in the countryside where there's nature, cute animals, and few cars before I went to the bustling city. It was really fun though! And quite the funny feeling seeing the sights with my own two eyes.


Here we see some youths having a classic Parisian picnic in front of the Eiffel Tower. Imagine being a teenage tourist on a trip with your friends doing this with no shame and maybe even a bit of pride! Youth is a wonderful thing.

The Louvre pyramids... FROM INSIDE THE MUSEUM! Before taking an exhausted nap. A guard totally let us. It was right front of him.

Taking a picture in front of the Centre Pompidou for my best friend ♥
MONT MARTRE FIRST THING IN THE MORNING! Look at that golden morning glow.♥

THE SMELL OF OIL PAINTS IN THE MORNING IS ALMOST BETTER THAN THE SMELL OF FRESH BAGUETTES TO ME please don't tell Beardy I said that. It's blasphemous to the French. 

Shakespeare and Co, with some English(?) buskers on the side

So that's me meeting the side of France that I was expecting to meet. In the next post I'll be covering the summary of the unexpected side of France I saw, and in the future, more detailed stuff about all of the small trips that we took. Hope to see you here again! Thanks for your time! Hope you enjoyed your coffee!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

🛫expanding the target🎯

there will be times where it will feel like

you're jumping off
                               a
                                   c
                                     l
                                      i
                                       f
                                        f

towards a --------------->   tiny target   <-------------------


and so it'll feel like it means E V E R Y T H I N G to you,

like it was somehow so very...
dense



in that, it's    so    very  
                                           small,       so         very     
                                                                                                            far,    so     very    hard   to   nail


but
weighed 
so
so 
MUCH.

and there's just this formidable nothingness

surrounding it

enveloping it and

threatening your life



and the more you look at it
the harder it is to look away

and more and more you feel like

there is no way

that you wouldn't fail

that you wouldn't miss

that you wouldn't just

go back to nothing


And when that nothingness threatens you
I hope you remember

That nothing doesn't have to be nothing
you can fill all that space with
a whole bunch of somethings

And those whole bunch of somethings
can turn into   c                                                    o                                                       w      s    .         .
                             l      o        d     s,               s          f                   p      i               o                        .
                                          u                                            t                         l    l


on which,

                 if you fail,

                                  (and we're still hoping that you won't)



                                              you can softly,



                                                          gently,




                                                                 land



                                                                  (even if it's with tears in your eyes)


                                                                           so that instead of s h a t t e r i n g

                                                                                you can simply find your feet

                                                                                    dust yourself off
                                                                                             get back up
                                                                                                                and walk over







to something  new.         


Sunday, February 5, 2017

🍋lemons🍋


Man this week has been rough on me. 

But that's why I'm here now, actually posting something after weeks of just meaning to, in a very frustrated kind of way. 

Normally I try to write something that's helpful, or at the very least, thoughtful. I write with the hope that the reader won't feel like I wasted their time. But lately it's been hard to complete drafts. I've been feeling on edge and I can't sit still enough to finish what I start writing, even when I'm passionate about it (actually that makes it harder -those things are usually longer and stressful to write, especially during these weird times we're having on this planet).
But this time I'm reaching out to writing in an attempt to add value to my own life: this is completely for me this time, a form of self-care. I decided, since I can't write because of my struggles, I'll attempt to write about these struggles. For catharsis, for therapy, I don't know. Maybe to simply get out of the writing rut I'm in.

I have an important appointment coming up, something probably routine for other people, but of crucial significance for me, personally. There's much (perhaps irrational) anxiety surrounding it due to past experience so maybe it won't be the best thing for me to directly summon what is, it that must not be named, so suffice it to say that it's the most probable cause of all this, but it's not what I'm going to write about.

I want to write about the anxiety it's causing, the strange way it manifests this time around, and what I've been doing to cope.

Two weeks ago, I noticed my energy at work being at an all-time high. I did things faster with more focus, and obviously thought this was a good thing! Why wouldn't it be? I probably had adequate rest during the Christmas break. Then early this week, I noticed something else: I felt anxious when I'm still and there was a bit of desperation in the act of doing my work that I thought I was doing gleefully. I felt weird things in my chest. I've felt like I was about to pass out once. I wondered if I was actually exhausted by all the work I've chosen to do and could not sense it for some strange reason. I couldn't sleep soundly. Sometimes I felt a strangling feeling in my neck.



Then I realised (with a bit of guilty Googling I admit) that I've felt this before. It was during the time in my life when I was a terribly anxious wreck and incredibly fragile, something I believe I've moved on from now. I thought I wasn't taking my looming appointment so bad, I've been more or less positive and didn't linger as much as I used to for stressful thoughts, but I guess my subconscious has been having a different experience? Not sure. 

But I do believe I have moved on from that and am very much past that phase. It's just, well, I assume that someone in recovery might still regress a bit when exposed to the right triggers and environment. The important thing is, this time around, I've been coping a lot better.


Things I've tried to combat my anxiety:
(that have sorta worked)

  • Talking about it, laughing about it - Once I became aware of what was happening, I tried to talk to people I meet everyday, both as a way to express my feelings and feel less alone in carrying the psychological weight, but also to ease any voice that might eventually tell me "Your anxiety is making you act weird and now everyone hates you." I'm going ahead of it now because that's better than explaining myself after the fact. And of course, laughing about it makes the psychological weight get lighter in the first place! Highly recommend especially if you're as awkward as me. Sometimes, this makes people tell me reassuring things, so that's another plus!
  • Conscious breathing - It was especially bad on Thursday, and in the bath I felt like I wanted to tear my hair out/thrash around/bang my head against the walls. Then I luckily found the sense to give the Mindfulness Exercise we've been doing at work a try, but less focusing on what I feel (it was working too slow!) and more on focusing on long, drawn out exhales. I imagined myself as having taken too much air inside, the feeling of anxiety as having been caused by excessive inhaling (as it does feel a lot like I'm about to burst at times) and this anxiety deflating/escaping up into the atmosphere and away from me as I breathe out. This brought me back to a place where I could sort of grab my thoughts which before felt like little noisy children running chaotically in random directions. I sat dose chirren down. They were still buzzing and jittery and I was incredibly tired, but I can stop chasing them around now.
  • Moving a lot - I noticed that I had difficulty in sit-down tasks that need more than a few minutes, this very blog post included (I started writing this on Thursday)! I also had a hard time updating my planner, which made me sad because I'd been doing such a great job since December. I couldn't write, couldn't draw, couldn't study the software I was meaning to tinker with. I guess this is also why I've been doing chores nonstop at work and at home. I keep finding things to clean. And on Thursday, when it got so bad, I asked Beardy to come run with me upstairs, which of course turned into brisk walking after one lap because I'm no runner. I guess because there's a dangerous room in my brain right now, my whole body is working against coming near it, so I'm mostly staying down here in my body rather than up there. I was hoping this would exhaust me so much that I'd sleep better, but that's not quite working out. It does stop the bad feelings from building up though. Maybe it's endorphins! I don't expect this to help me get rid of my December chubs just yet, because I feel like my body holds on to fat more when I'm scared, like it thinks I'm about to die and it's in survival mode (I just Googled this to make sure I'm not writing complete nonsense here and apparently cortisol, the stress hormone, and weight gain, have a relationship with each other. I don't know how serious it is between the two of them but I just don't want to get involved that kind of threesome)

I do feel like I have to point out that running seemed to have made me sick now, so maybe make sure not to do the running in the rain when you're stressed and probably have lower immunity to viruses and whatnot.

There's still a couple of weeks until my appointment, and I'm hoping the worst is over, but I'm going to keep trying to keep on with these techniques until then. I do feel like I've been doing a better job than I have in the past in not bothering myself with everything at once, in taking things one step at a time. My planner helps me to set days for tasks that can stress me out, so I don't need to worry about them until it's time, and when I fail to write it down, I try mental notes. Unreliable method, but you do the best you can do when you simply can't do the best you can do.

Monday, January 9, 2017

My 2017 Motto || Grit & Grace

(loove these typefont stamps I bought for Christmas!)


May I have the Grit:

  • to go on when needed, even when i'm afraid
  • to finish difficult things, in parts if need be
  • to be less vulnerable to imagined attacks
  • to have more control over my anxieties
  • to speak out when needed
  • to trust in myself, and to be able to hold on to that trust even when it gets rough
  • to be brave enough to be myself


And the Grace:
  • to know when to rest
  • and when to stop resting
  • to try to choose the kindest words
  • to take a breath whenever i feel like i might burst
  • to try to emphatise before i defend myself
  • to always try and welcome humour and goodwill even in dire situations
  • to tread life lightly, to grow with ease

Monday, January 2, 2017

💫2016: slow, subtle, steady af.✨ (my 2016 year review using pages from The Giving Journal)

Now, I know, I know... When it comes to the state of the world, "slow, subtle, steady af" is nowhere near applicable for describing the year that was. It was a rough ride. But looking at it through a more personal, introspective set of eyes, that was how my personal development in life was like this past year.

I used a CBTL Giving Journal in 2016 and it had these cutesy pages that I had fun filling out, and now that it's 2017 I'm using them to get a feel of my progress, to remember where I was at at the start:


Late in 2015, subject to numerous tiring bus rides, I had a lot of time to think of a way to picture how I wanted 2016 to go. What steps I wanted to take. That was when I got the inspiration to imagine my life as a flower:



I imagined:

1. that in the first quarter, I'd be preparing a good foundation for myself through good health and a saner state of mind (the roots of the plant, but i called it seeds for the sake of the pattern -.-).
2. In the second quarter, I'd be aiming for better structure, and an upwards movement kinda feel through a stable job and habits that I hoped would be automated thereafter (stalks),
3. the third quarter was going to be when my efforts in making regular output were going to be refined and focused into the channels where I'd find myself gravitating more towards, so that
4. in the fourth quarter, after concentrating my energy on those, I'd acquire the blooms, or in other words, I was going to have everything I do "pay off" in the end.

Of course that didn't go exactly as planned. I unexpectedly found a real life job I actually liked going to, and so that occupied me. That being said, I still managed to make it halfway through the flower thing. I felt healthier because I was more active and slept better, my work makes me feel involved and improved me in aspects I wanted to improve on. I was just really ready for feeling rooted and stable, I guess. But in my opinion, I didn't get to do much of gearing towards personal projects, and I think that's vital for me to feel truly balanced.

BUT if I may, past Bea, there's something I'd like to change in that whole flowchart/metaphor thingy you got there:

I think the fourth one was a bit too focused on receiving things, like I needed success to be guaranteed. Blooms shouldn't be about things that are not in my hands, methinks. It should just be about me being able to look back into what I worked on and feel like I finished things I started. But I still like the part where I say something to the effect of "to know how to introduce myself to strangers." I think blooming should also be about getting a better sense of my identity through things I've done, so that's staying.

So I only made it to the halfway point of the marathon, but I'm still much better off from where I'm started, so I'm really happy! Aim for the stars, make it to the moon, I guess.

That being said, "my 2016 life mantra" in the CBTL Giving Journal guided me quite well:


I grew in so much ease (I guess it pays off to take things slow), much more ease than I thought was possible. And indeed, it was through being kinder to myself (and others - tension arises when we assume the worst of people who hurt us, and love blooms when we give them a chance)...

So! Good improvements:


  • I've been taking on more things than I'm used to for work, and I'm staying afloat! It's done my confidence a lot of good. I used to think I had no perseverance. But I'm learning that I just need people around me sometimes, and that accountability works on me.
  • Managing that by finally, finally being able to naturally apply the "one thing at a time" thing that I've always been trying to learn how to do (I say this time and time again - it's one thing to know something, and another thing to apply. Think of that the next time you nag someone or yourself.). I can actually stop worrying once I decide that it's not time for it yet; such a big relief!
  • Being more open about my flaws, being able to dissect my own behaviour and change. A lot of people are good at seeing other people's flaws, but it takes a certain level of perseverance to see your own flaws and not be defensive about them. I've always admired people who can do that and in turn create wonderful things with that self-awareness, and I feel like I'm slowly getting there. Makes me happy. (And relieved!) It also allows me to get closer to people easier.
  • I'm getting a little better at hushing that negative voice in my brain! Sure, I look crazy at times because sometimes I tell it to stop out loud, but hey, whatever works, right?
  • I sleep at night and wake up in the morning regularly now. It's kind of a huge deal.
  • I can moderately extrovert a bit more than before. Still wrecks me with anxiety from time to time, especially when I have a lot on my plate, but I'm managing!
And here are the things that need improvement:

  • WRITE THINGS DOWN AND DON'T LOSE THEM AND ACTUALLY READ THEM AGAIN PLEASE?! So many missed opportunities for blog posts and fiction and whatnot.
  • Speaking my mind about a risky thing without getting scared/shaking/feeling like my throat is full of ice
  • Working on personal projects for real this time outside of work
  • More balance between trusting myself and honing the mindset that allows me to feel accountable enough to meet that trust
  • I'd also like if there was less automatic negative self-talk to hush in the first place
  • More physical activity!!!
Goodbye, 2016. Was nice knowing you!


Saturday, October 8, 2016

You are not a fantasy. You are an experience.





Don't look at mirrors to find your worth
You were not born to be
eternally striving
to be easier to look at

Your eyes were meant to look
asymmetrical
and outward, into the world
to find things that give you life

Your knees needn't be smooth
to prop you up
into greater heights
and bruise and bleed
into greater strength

Your body was not meant
to be stuffed into tight spaces
and to be hidden in the dark
to stay porcelain, and unexposed, and brittle

You were meant to move,
to laugh with your mouth open
to love with eyes intent
and not looking down on your feet

Let us be with you
through the spilling of your soul
let any image of you fall to the wayside
of the life you live


Just something I'm writing to myself, (and people like me) for those dark moments where I feel ugly, ungraceful, awkward and unlikeable, and needing to clam up, hide, and basically cease to be in the presence of people I want to befriend but find intimidating because I feel bad about myself. Or those times where I feel bad for having dirty nails and unkempt hair because I've been busy and too tired to fuss over myself more. I'm slowly finding out that: 1. Creating something is more valuable than how you look while making it, get your hands dirty! who cares. & 2. Warmth is usually very contagious and the world has more kindness to give if you're only able to be more open to receive it.


Saturday, October 1, 2016

The Art of Doing




This pool is just two floors away from me, but in the 3-4 months that I’ve lived here I’ve only used it about 3-4 times as well. Sometimes we do get things that we want handed to us, and still find ourselves unable to let ourselves enjoy them. Having Things isn’t worth much without the skill of Experiencing.



And yes, I’ve found that Experiencing is a life skill. It takes skill to recognize opportunities when they come, to do things that make us feel good and be better, and to have the will to go for them.

Many times, I see the logical value of taking advantage of valuable free experiences, but somehow in my heart I feel uncomfortable about doing so. My usual default reasons are social stress and transportation, and yet, even without those things being in the way, I find it hard to reach out and do things.

I’m sure there’s some inner work to do here, and I do feel like I’m doing that inner work. It’s slow, but I feel like I’m moving towards the right direction.