Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Avoiding Post-Shopping Guilt: Money Can't Buy Happiness... Unless...

Now that Christmas gift shopping craziness is over and we get a few sober days before the January sales, I decided to reflect a bit on the significance of shopping and spending in our lives. You know, to arm you for January!

January Sales: For people who don't mind stocking up really early for next Christmas.
Photo from Reuters

Have you played SimCity before? In that game, you create cities and assign spaces for industrial, commercial and residential buildings. And you could lose major happiness points from residents if there is an imbalance between the three. That's right, the city people become sad and might even leave if they don't have enough good places to shop. At first, I found that really weird if it's meant to be based on real life tendencies! But that's probably partly because I'm more of a DIY kind of person. I try to make things if I can, instead of buying right away. Unless it takes too much time and effort, or worse, when it's more expensive to buy the materials needed to make them than to just buy them in the store! But then I realised that those commercial spaces probably include not only places to shop for things, but maybe arcades, restaurants, spas, basically consumerist spaces where the Sims can buy not only things, but experiences, too. And science supports the idea that for most people, spending on experiences is the way to get the most happiness from your money.

That being said, I genuinely do enjoy spending money on things. But only if they meet a certain number of requirements that ensure that the act of buying them wouldn't infringe on things I find are more important to me, personally. I find that we are happier when our actions successfully represent our personal ideals, and that encompasses our shopping habits too, as trivial as it may seem!

One of my favorite authors, Gretchen Rubin, wrote in her book The Happiness Project that money can't buy happiness, but it sure influences it a lot. When we are able to put our money where our real interests are, or where we truly believe it is needed, or into things that make us grow as people, or even simply towards things we truly enjoy and use, then money can really help make us happier people.

All that being said, here is the mental list of requirements I usually find myself weighing in my brain whenever I am faced with the option to buy something:

1. Is the value it will add in my life proportional to its price, relative to the current amount of money in my possession?

There are three things there that need consideration there, and in equal amounts.

It's not as simple as just asking myself "is it worth the price?". I need to make sure I'm getting something I want, and to look at how much money I have at my disposal, and not get swayed just because something is cheaper than it usually is! For example, look at this large collection of stylish footwear for women at ZALORA. There is a very thoughtful option at the top to browse discounted items, or to arrange them by price. Use things like that to your advantage by using it to filter things that are outside of your current budget, rather than aimlessly browsing anything that's cheap! The value it adds to your life is as important as how much money you're saving by getting something at a lower price point. Remember that the things we buy stay with us for a long time, and so we need to keep this in mind when we get something on sale. A slightly more expensive shoe that gets a lot of usage and love in its life is a far better buy than a cheap one that doesn't suit any of your clothes or is uncomfortable. Just make sure you won't go broke buying it.

2. Am I going to use it enough to justify the space/effort/maintenance it may require?

There are things that seem like a good idea, until you have to build a shed in your garden to store them. Or until you realise how easily it can be damaged by humidity if you don't keep cleaning twice every other full moon under midnight dew. As much as our consumerist ways as a species makes us believe that we need a separate peeler for a specific vegetable, or five different black dresses for different types of parties, there are very few things we actually need in life, and the rest are mere wants in varying degrees. These degrees vary from person to person, and it's important to know yourself well enough to know when you actually want something enough that you wouldn't randomly stumble upon it a year from now wondering why you forgot about it and which lucky person in your life you could hand it down to. So that they can be the ones abandoning it in a shelf somewhere.

"Now where the hell is that yellow cherry tomato bisector"
3. Do I need to buy it now?

There are things we will eventually need to buy, but not right now. We will run out of toilet paper one day, but we don't need to keep 30 packs of nine at all times. Or, we will need to get a nice dress for our cousin's wedding, but maybe not while he is still 13 years old. There is probably going to be another nice dress to find down the 15-odd year long road. These are severe examples, but just remember to consider timing whenever you feel like splurging on a deal that feels like it's once-in-a-lifetime. There is only so much space in our houses, and when they get cramped, our brains get cramped too. Also, the excitement of acquiring things tend to wear down with time. Best to be able to use things we buy right when we still feel great and excited about them!

And if the answer happens to be yes, then of course, JUST!!!!! DO IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This is Shia LaBeouf and he approves of you buying the thing.

This is my personal list, based on my own priorities. Feel free to make your own! Just make sure that you make your money work for you, and not the other way around.

Monday, December 28, 2015

A Christmas C..error. A Christmas Horror Story.

404 Error. I missed.. How many days? Four days. Yes.


It got hectic, and we all know how easily I get overwhelmed! (I mean you probably didn't actually know that, but now you do)

I'll be honest, this Christmas hasn't been the best so far.

  • I did my best to help out and plan meal ideas and do a lot of the grocery shopping, but we didn't end up cooking a lot of what we planned and we actually just slept on Christmas Eve instead of having a Noche Buena because we had to go to a reunion really early the next day.
  • Sansa got sick on Christmas Eve so I had a hard time sleeping because my anxiety-riddled brain was screaming "SHE IS GOING TO DIE WHILE YOU ARE SLEEPING SHE WILL NOT MAKE IT ON HER BIRTHDAY" Which by the way THANKS A LOT BRAIN.
  • So I woke up super early on Christmas day with barely any sleep because I thought we were leaving at 6am AND I had to check if Sansa was better/ still alive D:
  • She was fine, but I was already dressed and so I stayed downstairs even though apparently nobody else was ready :( and I REALLY wanted to stay in bed when my alarm went off so that made me feel really bad...And I didn't want to go back upstairs and have to be called downstairs again when they are ready because I'd be so tired and I didn't want to be blamed when I was ready before the others were
  • But my little cousin decided that it was time to experiment on how sensitive my hearing is ("How noisy can I get without her waking up? *BANGS TOYS TOGETHER FOR NO GOOD REASON*" Answer: I heard EVERYTHING and kept asking him to stop but somehow he kept going. Blame it on Christmas cheer! *bah humbug*) so I didn't even get to catch up on a little sleep while waiting for everyone else.
  • On the ride there, it was too hot and noisy and cramped in the truck so even though I closed my eyes it was impossible to really sleep
  • When we arrived, I couldn't function well even though I was so excited to meet my little cousins. I tried REALLY HARD but I could feel my eyeballs trying to roll back into my skull the whole time and I was pretty loopy so I stayed in the shaded hut instead of outside with people. So I couldn't take too many pictures waaaah.
  • When we got home, we still couldn't really do a real Christmas dinner because everyone was tired!!!!! And we had to prepare for the smaller gathering on the next day!!!

So yeah, on Christmas night, I was trying to keep it together, but I was super stressed by not being prepared for the next day, and too disappointed in being too tired to be fully awake during the 24th and 25th, that I ended up just bawling my eyes out to Beardy who also admitted that he didn't have the greatest time (we tried to Skype his family on the Eve but the connection was being poopy so it was a bit short and it was difficult to hear each other :'c, but luckily we got to have a second call with Anne and it was really nice! But like me he was a bit run down and rushed and clueless about how to celebrate because we didn't have our time in our own hands)

An actual photo of me and Beardy on Christmas night
But you know what? I felt a lot better after crying. I didn't realise how much I needed to just admit that I wasn't having fun, and that I was being really stressed. I have been trying to suppress it because it was Christmas and trying my hardest to have a good attitude, to not be a grinch, but I realised that suppressing this wouldn't make it disappear. But maybe expressing it would. And it did! Sharing it with Beardy brought us closer, and made me feel like someone understood. That it was okay and understandable to feel the way I did, considering what had happened, and I wasn't being crazy. 

After that, things were better. I had a slightly better night even though it was still short, but it was restful enough that I managed to still help out in the house while we had guests, talk to people (although not as much as I'd have liked!) and be really attentive to the kids (I just want them to have good memories of Christmas, okay?! While having fun is still the only thing expected of them this season!)... At the end of that day, I was still reaaaally tired, but had less frustrations about how things went.

(I didn't get to attend to my little cousin who stole Christmas just yet, but the good thing about him living here is that I had time to make up for it... Which I did today! We made popsicles, played with cars, puzzles and bubbles, and talked a lot. After a bit of guilt-tripping because I've lost my will to try with him recently, I decided to change my attitude about him being a difficult child, and try to change my approach to positively influence him again and make him feel secure. Because insecure children are more difficult and become insecure adults!)

So yes! That's why I missed five days! I'd feel bad about it, but I think I reached my quota for things to feel bad about and actually don't mind it as much as I minded having a tiring Christmas so far. And and and! There were also good things about it:

  • I got a couple of really nice presents
  • I feel proud for not disappointing my mom for once by helping a lot even though I was more tired than I could even believe
  • I moved on from feeling horrible really quickly and therefore have reason to believe that I'm becoming more emotionally resilient
  • I met my uncle from Canada again, and his family for the first time!
  • I managed to get presents for my family even though I thought I'd be too broke to manage it this year.. with a lot of help from Beardy!
  • Even though one of them cried a lot when it was time to go home, I feel good about letting my nieces play Minecraft on my computer and painting their nails for them all preedy. I know that it looked like I fussed over them too much and I know that carrying my computer around and setting it up wherever my nieces wanted to play, and designing their nails when everyone else was just chilling and being festive looked very tedious and like I spoil them, but I just don't want them to lose their festive Christmas feels too early. I know they were excited about those two things before coming to our house, and I didn't want to disappoint them because disappointment really sucks, and I sure knew it firsthand that day. I just want to protect them from that when I have the energy to. 
  • I was prepared and didn't really expect that much from Christmas; I was sober enough to not be too disappointed whenever plans didn't push through; I just broke down mostly from me not being super awake the whole time, but I feel like I had a healthy expectation which made it easier. Honestly, even if things went the same way, I wouldn't be so sad if I wasn't so tired because I'm sure I would have had the energy to come up with something to make it better.
  • I learned things that are super important: One, sleeplessness depresses me and tires me too much for it to be worth waking up too early or staying up later than needed. And two, even if I'm at my worst shape, I can still manage to work hard at things I decide are important. Which are the people I love. 

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

♬ Oh Christmas Twix, Oh Christmas Twix~ ♬

 A weirdly taasty caaandy~ 

I didn't know what to expect when I found this Twix variant in S&R. Decided to give it a go anyway because it's Christmas. And now here I am making a random review of it because It's new! It's odd! It's small and festive!❅ ❄ ❆

If you have a particular craving for a Twix bar, like, if you need to have one specifically, then this probably won't cut it. The biscuit usually takes a back seat and just mostly acts as a texture balancer in the original bar, but the biscuit in this really tastes like gingerbread so it tastes like a different candy. But the caramel and chocolate part is still the same.

So yeah it's just a Twix bar made ~~FESTIVE~~

Mind that if you don't like spicy treats like gingerbread or lebkuchen or anything with ginger or cinnamon in it you might not like this! But yes. Christmas Twix. Good. Yes. Good.

Rating: Five Snowflakes! Out of seven. *reference!!*


Tuesday, December 22, 2015

When Love Comes First

When love comes first,

"Don't leave without me" will be met with "Why would I?".

"Sorry I'm like this." would be answered with "No need to apologise, I understand it must be hard."

You wouldn't have to ask to be considered in their life decisions, you just automatically are.

You wouldn't feel dry and used, and every bit of love you give is replaced by love from them.

You wouldn't need to choose between being perfect or being left alone. They stay by your side, fights, warts, and all.

There are people out there who put love first. These people exist, and in more numbers than you think is possible right now, when you have given yourself so freely to people who just take your love for granted.

These are people who grew up in love, who had doting parents listen to every word when they were just learning to speak, jumbling their words and finding it hard to explain anything. They were taught to give, to understand, to not compare and compute the value of people. They were brought up without judgement by the adults they trusted with their innocence and vulnerabilities.

To these people, reciprocity of love is natural. They will care for you back if you show them love and attention. At the very least, they will not feel entitled to taking it all from you when they cannot give it back. And when they can, they give it a hundred percent.

And for people like us who feel yearning for this kind of love, who feel like we can love so much more than we have been given a chance to, to love better than we could imagine right now due to sheer lack of examples... we only need to stop settling for less. We need to learn to love ourselves so much that being treated less than with love, kindness, and tenderness will not look like a normal tolerated thing, but something that we simply cannot stand for and will have to move on from. We need to make the act of letting love come first the most natural thing there is, until it's the default of our world.

This was where I was five years ago, realising I was Beardy's girlfriend over Facebook haha, and funnily enough it was also where we were last night with friends! :p

Five years ago today, on the 22nd of December in 2010, Beardy and I made our relationship "official" between ourselves, after about 1 & 3/4 months of talking and sharing our lives online. I didn't know how transformative this relationship was going to be in my life. At the time it just felt very natural to call it a relationship because we felt naturally connected and committed to seeing the thing we had between us grow. Beforehand, I've had bad experiences of caring for people too much, who didn't really care about me the same way. I really had a warped perception of relationships and was going about things the wrong way until I lucked out and met him. We started out as just friends, until realising we were what the other was looking for, even if we didn't know it at first. I used to think he was an exception in the way he handles love but I sincerely hope and believe that there are many people out there who love like we do, and it's just not a thing that people are used to looking for (even me!).  I hope that the people I care for, at the very least, find a love that really works for them and fulfills them and lifts them up, and is plainly and simply reciprocal without needing mental justifications. I believe that whoever can love fully, deserves to be given that love back, and relationships like that can really emanate a love of love not only between the two people, but all around them, too. I'd like to live in a world with a lot of that!

Monday, December 21, 2015


Metro Manila scares the shit out of me.

If I could choose, I'd never leave Santa Rosa. I'm always so anxious and suspicious of people when I'm in Manila. In fact, this anxiety had kept me from living my life to the fullest when I was in college. I just never felt secure, no matter how long I stayed. And now that I only go there when needed, the anxiety I get before every trip is much worse.

What am I afraid of? Getting run over, cockroaches, pickpocketers, slashers, armed thieves, armed lunatics, traffic, rain, casual rudeness, scam artists... the list is long. And my fears are not helped by the news. It's as if all of the new Modus Operandis are rampant in Manila, especially now during the holidays, and when I'm here in the Safe South, I just don't want to come back (even though where I am isn't 100% guaranteed safe either!).

But you know what? Once I'm there, my commuter switch turns on and I've always come home just fine. In fact I'm one of the calmest people during long waits and traffic jams (even after being puked on by a baby that one time). The worst I've ever been is tired and dirty. I've been very lucky.

Most of the fear only exists before the fact, but it causes enough stress to have bad repercussions all on its own, outside of whatever happens to me when I'm actually out there. It causes sleepless nights, falling hair, and severe anxiety.

It's amazing to know that most of the bad things that happen to me happen inside my head.

In a recent interview, Justin Trudeau said "Fear doesn't make us any safer. Fear makes us weaker." And at least for my own life, this has proven to be true to a point. I do believe that my cautious nature has protected me from many dangers in my life, and I will continue to be careful, but worrying about what I cannot control just wears me out. There are times where I just need to step out of my literal comfort zone. And when those times come, like today, it's better that I just save my energy for the actual trip ahead rather than for tossing around in bed the night before.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

The Inner Lives of Strangers

A picture I took out my window yesterday while the rain was pouring. I snapped it just as this person was walking by and thought it looked a bit like something off of a Ghibli film.

I enjoy people-watching. And I know many other people who enjoy it too. I think it's natural for people to come into a somewhat voyeuristic trance when doing this, and sort of feel detached from their surroundings, as if they are looking into a glass window. It can be fun to be curious, to wonder about where everyone comes from, how they find the weather, who they love, and if they are happy.

But every so often, there is a risk of this detachment turning into something a bit more cynical, and it's as if we are looking into a glass bowl instead, with puny mindless fish inside. We are tempted to fancy our lives and minds more complex and colorful than theirs, simply because of the context we see them in. I come across posts online that on the surface seem to be helpful and insightful, asking for the reader to keep their eyes off their phones, to rush less and enjoy their surroundings, unlike the zombies in the picture with their eyes glued to their phones (non-verbatim of course). Just because everyone around you is rushing around, or doing common things, doesn't mean you are alone among mindless creatures of passive, mundane existence.

I believe there is a danger to painting with very broad brushes when we look at others in their unguarded moments. Any bitter sentiment stemming from feeling like everybody is dull more likely stems from an issue we have to deal with in ourselves, rather than the actual people around us that trigger these feelings. It reflects our own limited perspective, or perhaps imagination, when it comes to the complexity of life outside of our own immediate awareness.

It can be very helpful to approach thinking about the inner lives of strangers with suspended judgement, and more curiosity instead. Helpful not only for the people in question so that we may be kinder to them, but also, and this is true even if we never even interact with them; to our own peace of mind. Because we then feel less loneliness in being our complicated selves, when we realize that there are so many various interesting lives that we are not living, and we can only witness through being open to others when we interact with them. 

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Don't Habit Yourself Up About It

Before we start I just want to say "You're Welcome" or "I'm Sorry" for the horrible pun, depending on your personal reaction to it. Good. K. Let's go.

I've spent a lot of time in my life failing at maintaining good habits. Just to name a few of the ones I've been failing at for a long time, there's:
  1. Going to bed earlier
  2. Drinking more water
  3. Studying French regularly
  4. Blogging
  5. Eating right
For the last two, I've actually been doing an OK job lately, but I'm still working on the others.

Something I've noticed is that when I do something right, even after maintaining it for a considerable amount of time, if I slip once, it gets really hard to come back to it. I get discouraged so easily! But one thing I learned is this:

If you have one bad day, may it be about your diet, or smoking one cigarette after you've quit, or losing your temper, or whatever else, the progress you've made from doing the right thing in the previous days is not yet lost! There are still positive repercussions in place from the days that you've done the right thing. But if you let yourself discouraged, then one day becomes a week, a month, and then you'll have to start again. Don't let one bad event destroy your confidence in yourself!

Change is a gradual thing. If we are mean to ourselves and beat ourselves up about one mistake, then it gets harder and more embarrassing to get back up. So we need to be kinder to ourselves. Treat yourself as you would a dear friend and invite yourself to get back up. "It's okay, Buddy. Just keep going! I'm right here with you."

Sure it sounds a little weird, but I believe this is the purpose of imagination. It allows our world to be bigger than what's there, frees up space for us to move with ease. So be your own imaginary friend, and be an encouraging one! Don't be your own worst enemy.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Confidence: An Underrated Virtue

We often regard confidence with the same aversion and slight intimidation that we do arrogance. In fact as a child, I saw the two as ultimately the same, save for how one has a positive connotation while the other has a negative one. But in my adult life, I find confidence to be a necessary trait that I often yearn for and find myself lacking in.

I find that in my culture, confidence is often discouraged. One would often hear a qualifier or an apology next to any statement that has any semblance of self-assuredness or assertiveness and one would risk isolation if they came off too strong or believed in themselves too much. 

However, there are more things separating confidence from arrogance apart from how positively or negatively their connotations are viewed. While arrogance is about an inflated sense and projection of oneself that may stem from insecurity, confidence can be alternatively interpreted as something that rests on a certain tranquility in who a person is, a steadiness of being, and accuracy of intent behind one's actions.

In fact, in this School of Life video, (which by the way do watch it after you read this if you have time. changed my life.) it is listed as a modern age virtue, along with compassion, resilience, empathy, hope, and other things that we'd expect from such a list. 

"Confidence is not arrogance. It is based on constant awareness of how short life is and how little we ultimately lose from risking everything." - Alain de Botton

Confidence, viewed as a virtue, becomes a very crucial part of self-actualisation. We need confidence to go after our ideas, even some of the untested and seemingly impractical ones, in order to make anything new or useful in the world. We are beings of action. No matter what beliefs we have, no matter what our insides look like, it is through action that we interact with the world and cause change. And without confidence in ourselves, we are missing many opportunities to be a source of goodness, comfort, or help in the world.

Many things, I find, are only as easy as we preemptively estimate them to be. There is only a certain number of times in which you need to do an action before the learning curve is done and you could do it without much conscious thought, but when we start doubting ourselves, that automation falters. Sometimes, we shoot ourselves in our own foot when we start off with zero confidence.

Even the best messages fail to inspire when shared with a shaky voice. We might do our good ideas a disservice if we are not confident in ourselves while trying to implement them. In fact, we might end up not doing them at all if we had no confidence.

Here are three tips I try to implement in my own life in order to be more confident (I haven't mastered them of course, we are all learning these things together!):

1. Stop micromanaging information - I tend to be someone who wants to know every single detail before progressing with tasks, or even my life. Some things that catch my attention are so tedious and ultimately non-important but take so much of my energy away from what matters. And once it's taken the reins of my thought process, it leaves me with so much uneasiness in myself, insecurity, and anxiety. I try now to block unimportant, nagging thoughts that drain my energy (like embarrassing conversations from years ago that nobody else remembers, or all the possible ways I could write a sentence better) and try to re-orient my attention to the present moment, and the next important step. This can be very hard when I'm really lost in a thought process, but I've started doing this thing where, when I catch myself starting a thought spiral, I shout and call Beardy and just ask him what's up. He knows what it means now. Haha.

2. Be present, or in non-mystical terms, focus on the task/event/conversation at hand. - Once I've put all of the noise aside, what's left to think about? This is where some perspective training is needed. I try to take on the perspective of a normal functioning adult, as I interpret it, and just focus on the task at hand, or the topic being discussed, instead of, for example, how I sound or look to the person I'm talking to, which might kill my confidence. As a very distracted person, it can be quite hard to figure out what the meat of the matter is at any given moment; I often get lost in my own head, but I'm training myself to see what everyone else must be seeing, by trying to stay present and truly pay attention to what people communicate, and to what's happening around me.

3. Practice. - A very important step. Many things we learn don't help us not because they weren't insightful enough nor blatantly false but simply because we didn't implement them well enough. To learn anything, we need to practice it until it becomes second nature to us, until it stops being something we have to think about and push ourselves to do. It just becomes who we are. Take Mindy Kaling's example:

I love the implications of this statement. Confidence is a thing that happens by default when we are not subdued by events or people in our lives that make us think we should be anything less than we are. As unnatural as confidence may feel to some of us, it is only right that we try to regain it in ourselves because it's not something that we can wait for in a society as skewed as ours. We must accept ourselves as however we come into the world and then proceed to take advantage of the limited time we have by taking a chance on our own dreams, ideas, and whatever brings us joy.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Year's End, Wit's End, Bell End.

Ah, here it is. The year's end. Two things happen at this time, and as much as they contradict each other, they always come in tandem:

  1. People start giving up on things they resolved to do this year
  2. People start making new resolutions for the next year
As for me, I've tried enough times to know well enough that the typical kind of New Year resolution making is just not a thing that works for me, but I still use the pumped-up feeling that new years give me psychologically to push myself to dust myself off and try again.

But I don't limit myself to just the start of the year. At the rate in which I stumble in my life, that simply would be unsustainable and I'd become a pile of self-loathing mudslosh. No, in fact, I'm doing another Aaliyah right now as I write this, because after a few weeks of hitting my post goals, one night of merriment has thrown me off! Yes, I've been doing well, posting once every two days to make up for the lull in November which was already a re-do of a failed re-do in the first place, but on the weekend it all went to shit.
I love my family though. They are a trip.
Here is what happened. We had a family gathering set for Saturday, and instead of just forgetting my responsibilities, I decided to plan ahead and be ready to make a post whilst away. At first I was even going to bring my laptop but at the last minute I decided pakdatshet and decided to do all my blogging on my phone, since I use it for my #EatMindfully posts anyway. And then I left my phone at home! I managed to salvage my food post by using Beardy's phone and posting it the next day, but by the time I was home and needing to make a quick post the alcohol in my system from the night before had already made me a sad, tired, loopy mess and I just wasn't feeling it. Hard drinking and I are not very good friends and we have not met for a while so I was pretty weak. I like beer and wine but I rarely drink for the sake of being drunk, which is the type usually done in Filipino gatherings. Unfortunately, the alcohol is usually really strong and not very tasty, and it makes me feel icky the next day. So I missed my personal deadline, and that in turn made it a bit emotionally daunting to try a day later. I'm really the easiest person to discourage at times.

But! Here I am. After a pep-talk with Emmy I decided to just talk about my process honestly instead of avoiding writing at all because of how shitty I feel. Feel too shitty to write something good? Write about feeling shitty instead to move on, then go back to normal programming. Yas. Good. So where was I ~

Ah yes, I'd like to discuss my "why". Why do I bother trying? What makes me feel like I should go on? It's not like people rely on my posts and can't go on without them. In fact, only a handful of people even see them.

Well, it's a matter of principle at this point. I'm making a conscious decision to do what fulfills me as a person. Writing and creating content is something that I'm truly passionate about, but I never gave it a real shot, never really stuck to it. I was too afraid to fail on my own. But now I feel like I have nothing to lose. Also, I want to come at the end of the 90 days and be able to tell myself that I started something, and I finished it! I've always pegged myself as someone who doesn't finish things she's started, and I want that to change. And how do I change that belief? By proving to myself that I can finish what I start. I need so much more than ever to trust and believe in myself. So that I could exert myself more creatively and be less defensive in my actions. I NEED SELF-CONFIDENCE!!!

Me on Christmas trying to make this work without losing my Christmas cheer
or rather my ..Christmas chill
So yeah, even though it might have sounded like I don't believe in resolutions (I do! - It just depends from person to person and how realistically you plan your actions), I actually think it's something that shows an admirable thing about being human - we always have hope. There is nothing wrong with having a healthy dose of it every now and then.

Friday, December 11, 2015


Hello. I'm a twenty-five year old, able-bodied female person who has always felt too old.
Not old, I'm not old, I know I'm still in the young end of the human age spectrum, but I feel too old for where I am in my life right now:

I'm a person who lives at home, is technically unemployed, not famous, not rich, no patents, no published work, nothing.

It's been easy to tell myself "You just have to get a job, any job, be 'of use to.. whoever, society? sure' and you'll feel good." for most of my adult life; heck, it's been easy for most people who find out about my situation to tell me that. But see, I did work for a while, and I didn't feel like I was of use to anyone, I felt like my purpose in both the jobs I had was lubrication in human form, just letting the gears of the machine work smoother, not really making any changes, just making things easier for "the man", totally out of touch with what that man is even trying to make happen. Is he trying to nuke North Korea? Is he trying to bulldoze more homeless shelters for Trump? Realistically, he's just another guy who has a lot of money, or a bunch of guys who have a lot of money- trying to keep himself from making less money. I've lost myself there. Just --Whatever it was, I was keeping the gears from rusting and grinding.

So I saved money from both jobs, and up to this point, I've been trying to figure out what it is that could actually make me of use to society -that is, cause change in a way that I actually want to be responsible for.

Some of this has been searching for jobs that are more engaging (yes, I'm still on the lookout for that possibility), some of it has been thinking of business ideas because I ultimately want to work for myself, some of it has been trying to figure out what skills I need to gain in order to get to a place of doing what I want to do, and admittedly, a lot of it had just been living life normally as a stay-at-home person - exploring things online, entertaining and educating myself, cleaning, cooking, trying not to freak about about how slow things are progressing.

In all of these, an important and kind of funny thing I realised is how important it is to, and forgive me for how cheesy this sounds, actually know and accept yourself  before coming into your own and presenting your ideas to the world. I realised how much I have been censoring myself and trying to "prune" myself before letting myself grow to my full potential, and how limiting that has become to me.

I decided to write this now to come clean about all of my insecurities - to lay it all out there - to give context for the existence of this blog and to let you know that there is a human behind all of these. An incredibly, disastrously flawed one. And so, this won't be written like an article like my recent posts. This will just be me baring myself to you, to humanise this corner of space that I have made for myself here in the vast interspacewebs.

First, the thing in the title that was definitely not meant to mislead you - I am insecure about my age relative to where I am in life. Whenever I see people who have done more by now and are younger than me (and there are many of them - I started feeling this way at FOURTEEN for godssake) I always manage to wonder if it's too late to start anything by now and I should just find a desk job and not look left and right and try to forget about all of my old passions. 

Today though, I found out that Bunny Meyers from YouTube (grav3yardgirl) started vlogging at 25 - MY AGE! In her 5-year YouTube anniversary video, she said she was a "late bloomer" and my bitter brain was like "She probably meant starting at 21 or something and you're already four years down the road from there, hun" But I googled her age, and nope. Born in 1985. I know how silly the next part is going to seem, I know how crazy I sound, but I actually, literally TEARED UP from relief. It felt like once again my existence has been validated by this lady - the first time was when I started watching her and saw how delightfully weird she was and I felt quite okay about myself and started letting myself be myself more. Yes I just said myself three times, Beardy. Four times now. Sorry. Love you, *kiss*

Every time I fail to convince myself that age is just a number from now on, I'm going to tell myself that I've been half-assing my whole life, so when it comes to self-actualisation, my real age is only twelve and a half. So I could just shut up about being too old, and get immersed in things as openly as I did when I was 12 and just starting to learn how to play guitar.
I was having a good skin day the other day so. *feelin myself*

Second, I fear that I'm too out of touch with what used to be my natural talents - and yes this is sort of still the first point, because it has to do with my age and how I didn't form the right habits in my formative years when it comes to harnessing my skills and whatnot, but it deserves its own spot because it's just HORRIBLE. I am so afraid of not being able to write songs anymore, not being able to learn new software that would allow me to digitally draw again. Not being able to dance well anymore because of my hip problem. So many fears! But recently (and yes, all of the points here are going to come with reassurances because this blog is about being encouraging to oneself and others, after all) I've been successfully maintaining two habits- eating moderately and cleaning regularly - for a long time now, so I have some ammo against my own brain telling me I can't create any new habits~!!! >.< Shuddup brain. You know nothin. Or.. enough. You know enough, so stop doubting yourself, shh.

Third, I don't know if I'm likeable enough. To be listened to, for my opinions to be valued, to simply get enough hits online when I publish my content! Okay, maybe that last one is more about marketing knowledge, but you get the point. And this is the bottom line to many smaller insecurities that I could have considered as separate: my looks, my tone, how dumb I come across... I'm putting them all here because essentially they are just about being received positively after I put myself out there. The only reassurance I have for this point is the hunch I have that it simply does not matter. That's one good thing about growing older, I guess. Things become less and less about what people think about me, but rather my experience of life. I just want to give this a shot man, and if it fails, if nobody ends up reading anything I write, then I'd know for sure that it just wasn't there for me. I'd prefer not having to live my life wondering.

So there it is. Right now, I'm still figuring myself out, yes, but at the same time, I've finally come to the realisation that this is just simply not meant to end! I'm never going to come to a point where I've figured myself out, where it's done, a thing of the past. I'm one of those things that Elizabeth Gilbert calls "hummingbirds".. People who live through life going from one thing to another. My life simply is about figuring things out. This blog is where I document myself figuring things out too, and sharing things along the way. Nothing is final and unchangeable here. I know that things I feel today will evolve, and maybe I'll regret many things I say from now, much like I regret many things I said when I was younger. That's just how life is. And I'm far too old to keep resisting. ;)

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

When to Listen to Envy

The last time I remember being intensely envious was when I found the instagram feed of someone I briefly knew from childhood. She now has a big following for being a beauty/lifestyle/fitness online personality. I remember looking at her abs, feeling a sense of envy slowly radiate through me, but I couldn't stop looking at the pictures. And then I ended up doing something I've raaaaaaarely done in my life.

I put my sneakers on, and ran outside.

I ran and ran, until my thighs were too itchy from the sudden rush of blood to my capillaries, something they're not used to. I went back home, still in the same doughy body, but somehow, I felt a lot better.

Now, I'm still no runner (I still prefer forms of exercise that don't make my jiggly bits bounce around like they want to leave my body) but when I think back to that memory, I remember it fondly. 

Isn't that odd? 

Envy isn't something we think of as a positive thing, yet it can unlock things that are otherwise inaccessible to us when we are complacent and content.

The trick is to accept envy, and to not stop there.
Think of envy as that stretch of road in a different city from where your final destination is, that welcomes you and then says goodbye because where you ultimately need to be is somewhere farther along the road.

There's someplace else you gotta be, but sometimes you just have to pass it by to get there.

What is there to see in that stretch of road? What redeeming factor could a crappy feeling like envy possibly have? 

It bares your own deep-seated desires in front of you. It lets you know yourself better, and possibly point you towards what you need to do next.

I remember this memory fondly because that's the turning point for me when it came to my relationship with envy. It ultimately transformed it from an unhealthy source of self-loathing, to a tool I now use to point myself to parts of myself that might need more attention.

Nowadays, when I feel myself get envious of someone, I:
  1. Stop, acknowledge, and welcome the envy. "Hi, yes envy. You are here because I saw someone really fit on Instagram and I feel like a lazy slob."
  2. Ask myself what part of the thing I just witnessed roused desire (/covetousness) in me and why. "Possibly I'd like to be healthier. Possibly I want to look as good in clothes! Probably both of those things."
  3. And finally, I ask myself if there is realistically anything I could do now, or soon, that could make me come closer to that thing's realisation in my own life. "Ideally, I'd exercise and eat as healthy as she does! But I know myself; I'm a lot more laid-back and cannot be bothered to be so strict with myself. Simply taking care of my health a little more would probably be enough. Maybe I should go for a run right now, just to get some exercise."
After that, any sort of bitterness I might have towards the person just goes away, or gets replaced by appreciating, and then excitement and motivation for my own life. I have to say though, a lot of the time now, I bypass the bitterness altogether and get straight to appreciatin'. 

Here's a simple example of the sort of mental process that goes on:

"Ugh. He draws SO WELL! What makes it so awesome? Oh yeah the way it looks so effortless. I should practice more. I'm glad to have this guy on my feed. So inspiring."

I try hard to stop myself from self-depreciation, and lately I haven't been needing to try very hard: it's started to come more naturally to me, and it's really very nice. Even though it took a while to get here.

When we try to understand envy at its core and let it reveal to us our true selves, we open ourselves to the possibility of transforming its role in our lives from being a competitive, destructive force into being a cooperative, and possibly nurturing one. Because we let the people that we envy influence us for the better while observing their lives. Instead of being a reason to tear each other down like it usually is, envy could then build us up.

This will not always easily be the case, of course, and there will be times where we get stuck with being envious of someone. There are just some things we will wish for ourselves that are more attainable for other people. We are especially vulnerable to this when we haven't taken enough time to truly know and accept ourselves. When we are out of touch with our own paths, we don't get to adapt insight to fit the mold of our unique journey, because we don't know what it is. Instead, there would be a tendency to superficially imitate and copy our sources of envy instead of adapting the important substance or element that is lacking in us, and is the ultimate source of the envy.

(Like being tempted to buy a skincare product used by someone with great skin instead of just using the good ones you have more regularly, Bea!)

Sometimes, that can be good enough for the mean time, but we will soon have to face ourselves and our true lives. Unfortunately, self discovery is something that is somehow just meant to be potentially painful and uncomfortable. But the rewards are always well worth it! There is always a feeling of invincibility and expansion that follows a successful round of self-reflection.

So face your envy. In fact, embrace it! Let it be your friend. Don't hide it or hide from it. Take its hand and let it lead you to a better self.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

a late-night letter to myself

dear self. i am sorry. 

i’m sorry for being so lazy all this time. for not trying hard enough. i know i was overwhelmed, but there was still an untapped margin of possibility that i absolutely wasted somewhere there. i’m somehow sure of it. i’m sorry things always felt too unclear and so i stayed put, and so now you’re stuck here trying to make everything happen all at once. sorry for not taking care of you for so many years, sorry that it’s still hard to do now. but i’m trying and i’m better at it than i’ve ever been. sorry for being too preoccupied with getting better that i failed at just being as good as i am, sorry for not realising that was where i needed to be. sorry for trying to ignore it because i felt i needed to be much better than i already was. sorry i don't know where we need to go from here. sorry i don't know yet what to do with all of the expiring potential, all the unrealised ideas, sorry i didn't know how to talk to people that could have helped us realise them. 

and self, i forgive you. 

i forgive you for being just you and nothing more. i forgive you for just not having the energy to do things well sometimes. i forgive you because you are now trying to, anyway, no matter how bad the outcome is. i forgive you for being tired. i forgive you for doubting. i forgive you for not pushing too hard because you wanted to protect me. i forgive you for worrying too much sometimes. i forgive you for being awkward. for not knowing what to say or do around other people. for saying embarrassing things that you can't take back now. for being acting like a fool. 

But most of all, thank you. 

Thank you for keeping on working on me, to get me to level 2, even when people were nagging me about not being on level 4 at this point. Especially when it's me who does it. Thank you for trying to progress, no matter how slow. Thank you for earnestly searching for truth, no matter how dark, hard, or melancholic the journey has been. Thank you for keeping your eyes open, allowing me to see a larger world, even though it made me feel very small. Thank you because being small takes some weight off my shoulders. Thank you for sticking around and being stubborn about finding happiness. Thank you for trying. No matter what happens in the end.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

3 Simple Ways in Which We: Can Be Kinder To One Another

art: charlavail

Correct People Without Shaming Them - Because we all start ignorant at some point about the things we know today. As much as many things may feel like "common sense", much of these things are common sense through the information spreading and raising awareness, and not because we were born with it from the start. The next time someone says something ignorant, attempt to correct behaviour without shaming them, because antagonistic information is often ignored. It is easier to swallow truth when it feels like it comes from your side, and not a way to attack your personhood. As much as it may be tempting to act high and mighty, we must put ourselves in the other person's shoes, for someday we might come across something we are ignorant about and wish people could be more understanding of us. 

One can see clearly only with the heart. What is essential is invisible to the eye.

Cut People Some Slack About How They Look - A lot of meanness can stem from people being too preoccupied about people's appearances. As much as we seem to be hardwired as a species to let appearances influence the way we treat others, human agency obliges us to act above our instincts and to try and be open to seeing the beauty in others beyond what our eyes can see. Some put too much correlation between a person's care in their appearance and their care in the people around them, or even their job. So they might see an unkempt person as apathetic or lazy, and inversely, they might think that people who are well-dressed and well-kept are superficial. The problem does not lie in what society prefers between the two, but rather in its tendency to make appearances be evidence of what a person is like, when the only thing that sets well-dressed people apart from other people is their active interest in dressing well. This also applies to elements in our appearance that are out of our control - our weight, our complexion, our height, our disposition and natural inclination to smile or frown, and whatever else. We must try and see beyond what our eyes can see and therefore give ourselves a chance to interact with others deeply.

Refrain from being mean to people based on what little you know about them; even (or especially) people you think you know well. - All of us have inner struggles we wish other people would take into account when interacting with us in a way we are uncomfortable with. The world would be better off if we all tried to remember that when we deal with others. Sometimes the harsh criticism we throw at people's faces because we think they deserve it could just be the last straw that makes them break down, because they have been dealing with something we knew nothing about.

It's easy to apply this to interactions with people we barely know, because there is less incentive for us to devote so much energy in pulling them apart. In our close relationships however, we assume we know a lot about our loved ones, so we might feel like we are in a good position to be a judge. But this is where a lot is at stake. We can deeply wound people we are close to, and like it or not, there are still some things that we will not know about them simply because we are not them. In fact, they might already be self aware and trying to be better, in which case, the best thing we can offer is emotional support. So it is safe to assume that we need to be kind, even when we criticise for what we feel is a good reason. Throw unnecessary meanness out the window, because when we are able to guide people towards what's best for them without breaking their spirit, then we build trust, instead of a wall of defensiveness.

There will be times where we will have to criticise and fight in order to stand up for a common good-for bigger things, for our countries, the world, the galaxy, THE UNIVERSE?!?!?!!?!
...But in dealing with the people we have in our lives, we can really use trying to be more caring and foster a cooperative, nurturing environment so that when that time comes, we can come together easier. When we are kind, it becomes easier to educate each other, inform each other, care for one another, and come together for common goals that benefit everyone. This is really the simplest, easiest golden rule to live by. It's so simple that it sounds silly, but I think that's part of the point:

Thursday, December 3, 2015

A Spoiler-free Review of Netflix's Jessica Jones

Beardy and I had recently watched the first season of Jessica Jones. Now, I'm not a big Marvel fan, but I have to admit that I fell in love with the show pretty quickly. Let me state, without spoiling anything (I really want everyone to see it!), the reasons why.

1. Okay, obvious selling point first. Jessica is played by Krysten Ritter, who has been a huge girl crush of mine since the first time I saw her in a film. To be honest though, I hadn't even heard of the show before Beardy started watching the first episode, but once I realised it was her, you bet your butt I sat down and watched the damn show. And even with how much I already like Ritter, I was genuinely impressed by her performance in this role. So different from all of her other sassy sarcastic perky roles. Okay, it's actually still sassy and sarcastic, just not perky. But far from simply taking the perkiness away, it is replaced by a very palpable, believable darkness that makes you really hurt for Jessie, and so you root for her intensely as well.

2. It is so inclusive to LGBT and POC, but without being so heavy-handed that it undermines its own effort. This show is inclusive to non-straight relationships and people of color without wagging it around your face. It just does it, and does it well. It does it believably, respectfully, and so matter-of-factly that I actually didn't notice until I thought about evaluating it.

3. Talking about "Because it's 2015", it's quite gender-equal, especially for a Superhero-themed show. Maybe we can expect it from the showrunner herself being female, but it totally manages to avoid being a sausage party without losing the awesome action and gore elements that are cruicial to the story. Many of the main characters are women who hold their own, and men aren't reduced to two-dimensional characters either. The baddies are called out for inexcusable behaviour instead of insultingly implying that it's natural for men to act like pigs.

4. Kilgrave (Killgrave) is a terrifyingly good villain. Among my own reasons, very few aren't mentioned in this link (beware of spoilers though!). For people who don't want to be spoiled, I'll say this: Kilgrave is so complex, so mysterious, so unexpected, and the way he is revealed little by little in the show gives a sense of horror much akin to Lovecraft's style of omitting detail to terrify. And when everything comes into plain view, it makes an excellent social commentary about control, morals, and perspective. Among many other things.

5. Emotionally riveting character relationships, and character development. The dynamic between the characters are so engaging, and relatable at times. You will not be able to help sympathising with everyone, even with the reaaaaaaaaaaaaally annoying upstairs neighbor. They're not lazy with humanising the characters. They have inner struggles that show up every now and then and make them vulnerable in different ways. The show does not try to blind you with BOOM BOOM POW Michael Bay-levels of conflict and special effects. You feel the wounds, physical and emotional. You feel the characters feel for each other, you feel them hate each other. You feel the fear and discomfort that the abusive relationships stir up in their throats. And when two lonely characters get a moment of mutual understanding, you can't help but feel the love, and what it means to them.

Overall, I really cannot recommend this show enough. I only hope the next season is as amazing as the first, and that this show goes on for many many good seasons.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Friends and FOMO: Let Live Does Not Mean Let Go

  1. anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on a social media website.

I've always thought I was a victim of FOMO. A fear of missing out. I think about it whenever I feel my face get red from the shame of feeling like an obsessive ex-boyfriend when I see pictures of my friends hanging out with other people on my feed. It makes me feel like I'm stalking their lives, which is silly, because the whole point to a news feed is that the information is fed to you. I didn't exactly seek it out!

Well, okay, I actually make a point to visit their profiles every now and then to check on them. Which is sometimes a futile act because the reason I feel this need is due to unanswered private messages, which are probably unanswered because they were offline in the first place. And I'm pretty sure I'm the one who is online the most among all of us. I'm the one who's online the most, and goes out the least. So yeah, as you can see, it's a recipe for disaster.

But recently I tried to look into what I truly do feel, and I realised that I don't actually have FOMO, per se.

I don't fear that I'm missing out on a good time; I fear that I'm missing out on their lives. I fear that they don't want me in them anymore.

I'm being clingy. 

We are all individual people with complex lives. The beauty of friendship is that you choose to be friends. You don't own your friends. You don't belong to your friends.  You are not forced to be together by some external force like work or being neighbors (although many good friendships can start that way). But you choose to interact in a deep way anyway. As individual people.

So I told myself, and now I guess I'm telling anyone who needs to hear it: It's not all or nothing. They say we should only keep those who always make an effort, but there are times where our friends are the ones who make an effort and it's us who don't notice. So when we feel like they're being absent a bit, we must take a step back and realize that sometimes, a friendship needs distance for the individuals to roam around and have some stories to return with. Sometimes, people just need to put other things first, or just finds a different person really cool to hang out with right now, and that doesn't mean you don't matter. And at times, the best thing we can do to maintain the great friendships in our lives is to let our friends bloom into the people they're meant to become. To offer support and to be there for them when we are needed, but ultimately, to wish them the best (and sometimes help them get the best!)

Of course, I am not including toxic friendships here, I hope you already know that! Some people are just bad for us. But for the people who are good for us but we keep missing chances to be with, we must stop ourselves from feeling abandoned by them. Let live. No need to let go!

This is not to say of course that we should give up on trying to be in their lives more frequently (I sure as hell am not done trying! We'll make this work guys!) but that when things don't work out, we don't need to feel discouraged about the value of our friendships. In fact, when our friends live rich and colorful lives outside the scope of our friendship, we also expand as people through seeing the world through their stories from when they were apart from us! Hanging out less doesn't have to mean falling apart. Sometimes, pursuing other things can decrease the quantity but increase the quality of our conversations.

So yep, after thinking of all that, I hope that like me, your FOMO has been replaced with excitement instead about the next time you get to sit beside each other and talk about ALL THE THINGS!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Why I've Been Taking Pictures of My Food and Hashtagging #EatMindfully Like a Basic B*

If you follow me on Instagram or are friends with me on Facebook, you probably have noticed that I've been posting collages of food everyday.

I decided to write about why, and to compile a list of reasons for this project, in case anybody was curious! But first, let me explain what it is exactly that I'm doing.

Everyday, for nine weeks now, I've been taking a picture of everything I eat, except for extremely low calorie or zero calorie things (unless I feel like it) and I post a collage at the end of the day on Instagram with the hashtag #EatMindfully.

The idea behind this is simple, but somehow I've always found it hard to explain when ambushed with a question! But in a sentence, I wanted to use the act of taking a picture to pause before I eat my food, and to record the experience at the end of each day to reflect on how I eat. The hashtag really encapsulates the whole thought: I wanted to eat more mindfully.

If this is still confusing, let me explain how I used to eat before this project. I was reaching a point where I was craving food nonstop and when it was there, I ate it so quickly that I felt like I wasn't even really enjoying it! For someone who loves food and can be very sentimental, this was really sad. And even though I kept telling myself to stop, even though I knew so many ways to eat healthier, there was nothing holding me accountable.

That's when I thought about taking pictures. I figured that I could use the phone photography practice, and it would hold me more accountable, even if it's just a little bit.

I didn't have any goals or guidelines about my food, but I did try to be reasonable basing on the evidence. I tried to avoid seconds when I'm not hungry or I didn't even love the food, and tried to balance my diet a bit more and not eat excessively. AND, as much as I can, I try to add a bit of information or philosophy to the captions, if I had it in me in that particular day.

Okay, so I sort of ended up explaining why I'm doing this up there ^ woops! So here's a list instead of the benefits that this project has personally provided me:

  1. As I mentioned previously, it holds me accountable. I've tried writing down my daily food intake instead before, but it's proved to be so boring and monotonous that I actually forget to do it a lot and when I look back at it, it does nothing for me. Seeing the food instead gives me a better idea of what the day was like when it comes to my eating. Of course, this might seem excessive to some people, and indeed for many people, especially women, this might even be an unhealthy habit that might trigger obsessions and anxiety. But personally, I'm not vulnerable to eating disorders and weight obsessions and things like that. And clearly, it has not made me very restrictive at all. I mean just look at the picture up there! 
  2. It slows me down. Having to take a picture before eating kind of quells the ravenous beast inside of me that just wants to dump all of the food in my pie hole. I'm more likely to plate my food nicely now, too, which makes me less likely to eat very fast (although it still happens).
  3. It shows me imbalances in my diet and allows me to make up for them. Like if one day looks super carby, I'm able to adjust the next day and add more veggies, or reduce calorific drinks, if I had three coffees with milk and sugar the other day.
  4. It gives me a sense of "hey I can stick to an activity everyday!" Doing something daily, or developing a habit might be something that comes naturally and easily to other people, but it's honestly one of my biggest flaws. I'm horrible at keeping at things and personal projects. So being able to do this everyday has really been good for my self esteem.
  5. It also gives me a sense of "I know what I'm doing and I don't mind if people think I'm being 'basic'!". I've always been a bit snotty and snobby as a teen, when it comes to things that I feel like sheepish people would do, when it comes to music, movies, clothes, etc. I felt queasy following trends because aside from not really liking most things in the first place, I was still an insecure young person who had to really hold on to who they are so much that they spit on everything else. Now that I know myself a lot more and have shed my Special Snowflake Syndrome, I'm able to participate in harmless trends for fun, and to allow myself to be open to discussing and appreciating things, even if they're not my cup of tea, and I'm very open to trying new things, that when something popular is actually good, I recognize it! Anyway, this particular project allows me to put this in practice by doing something that's often ridiculed as a simple-person/basic thing to do: photographing one's food. And I'm able to keep at it for my own personal reasons, instead of being self-conscious about what uninitiated people might think of what I'm doing. 
So yeah, overall I'm happy for sticking by this project this long (and losing 7 pounds on it certainly doesn't hurt), and I'm planning to keep doing it until January 1st because I want to document my holiday food intake and to develop balanced eating as a habit. I will need the photographing as a crutch so that I could only moderately overeat, if you know what I mean (like instead of eating like six people I'd like to only eat like I'm two people. It's the holidays after all.) And it would be great to start with a big win!

If you'd like to try it yourself, feel free to use my hashtag #EatMindfully, or make up your own, based on your own goals! The trick is to find out what works for you by respecting your natural tendencies and being kind to yourself. Food is supposed to nurture and fuel us, but we have to let it!

Friday, November 27, 2015

Things I Learned From Marie Kondo's Book: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

I finished listening to the audio version of this book while playing Minecraft a few weeks ago, during my slump (I use this word so much in my blog that it probably belongs in the header somewhere). As lazy and messy as I naturally am, I have always been very interested and excited by the prospect of organizing things. In fact, when I'm not ailed by my seemingly chronic low energy, I do a pretty good job at fixing, tidying, and organizing things. At least I think so, and Beardy would agree! Although he might not be the best judge of that because he normally can't tell the difference unless it's drastic. :o)

One thing I've learned, though, is that you don't get from a normal cluttered hum-drum room or house to one worthy of being in a magazine just by shuttling all your belongings from here to there and chucking them into boxes and cabinets - you actually have to get rid of stuff for your space to truly feel tidy.

But these few things usually trouble me when I attempt to tidy up: 
  1. I have a lot of anxiety about parting with things as I have the tendency to be very sentimental.
  2. I have a lot of guilt about throwing things in the trash because I don't exactly know where everything ends up *insert picture of Smokey Mountain and audio clip of O Fortuna here*
  3. As sort of an effect of #2, I always have SO MANY IDEAS about how to recycle everything!!!
  4. I like displaying cute things around me and sometimes the things pile up and end up hiding less-desirable things behind/under/inside them (I LIKE DECORATIVE CANS AND BOXES :c) and so my things eat up a lot more space than they should.
But boy oh boy did this book help me deal with these feelings! What I really appreciated about this book, apart from the clever and simplified ideas, was that it not only told you what to do (which everyone has their own way of doing things in the end anyway) but how do deal with the feelings that normally come up when we part with things. In fact, the whole philosophy behind this book is centered on how you feel - specifically, about what sparks joy.

It won't ask you to tick boxes of qualifications for a thing to be deemed worthy of keeping. It simply asks you to hold each thing you have and contemplate on whether it sparks joy or not. And if it's something you truly need, but it doesn't exactly spark any joy (for example, if you're a medical student you probably have a buttload of books.. Hi Jess c;), it asks you to contemplate on the importance it has in your life and to appreciate the role it plays, so that you change your mental relationship with it into a positive one. Then it ends up sparking joy, as well.

What it comes down to, basically, is for us to Mindfully Own Things, so that we don't passively accumulate things over time and rather make it so that our belongings change with us, grow with us, and don't weigh us down. In this way, every single thing becomes useful and important, we know where everything is, and we have space to let our minds breathe in our dwellings. Also, it's much easier to re-decorate with less things in the way.

So for my four stumbling blocks, here are the lessons that the book has offered me to overcome them:
  1. Anxiety about parting with things- KonMari confronts us about the real reason why we keep things, and the true purpose of things and how we can part with things once they serve their purpose. She suggests that when we hold on to these things we are weighing ourselves down by holding on to the past and instead encourages us to cherish the present, and our present relationships. An example that really struck me was about how we hold on to gifts or letters out of guilt even when they no longer suit us even though the people who have given them have probably forgotten about them, or holding on to letters from people we've fallen out with, even though they probably don't remember anything about what they wrote and probably don't feel the same way anymore.
  2. Guilt about trash- Well, actually, this book's attitude towards trash probably hinges on a more effective waste disposal system in Japan because the throwing-away part in this book is as simple as just putting them in trash bags and promptly taking them outside before anyone who'd want to dig through it in your family could see. Although, the whole part about the true purpose of things has made me ready to part with much more things than I normally would be, especially when they could do better if given away, or even, yes, ending up where the trash goes - because they're valuable as picking items (This sounds really problematic because it's usually kids who do this here in the Philippines. It's a sad reality that I do not condone at all, but it's really the best option for these unusable items :c Feel free to suggest better options, if any.)
  3. Recycling- The book makes a good point that basically goes: "When though? I mean really.." when it uses the example of people keeping reference materials for finished classes under the pretense that they will want to read through it again one day. The reality is that we would likely only want to read through a couple of those things or even forget we even have them, so as for me, I probably would only be able to do some of these recycling projects, and forget about the rest. So I should either get with the crafting soon, or just ditch the project.
  4. My Penchant for Cute Clutter and Sneaky Storage- The book turns the old saying "A place for everything, and everything in its place" into "A purpose for everything, and everything in its place." It asks us to avoid "storage solutions" that actually just give us places to hide things we don't know what to do with. Honestly, this is the hardest part. I have numerous small containers for numerous small things. The situation is especially dire on my desk. The technique of dumping everything in a single pile and sorting every single thing makes it so that there's less chances of me keeping duplicates of things, and I will get to see all of the containers and... maybe get rid of the ones that aren't cute anymore due to rusting or wear and tear. Luckily, KonMari doesn't actually have anything against having decorations, as long as they all, individually spark joy. So that actually wouldn't be so hard.
"Do I find this knick-knack or doodad as cute as Marie Kondo?" If the answer is yes, then I can keep it.
I'm excited and to be honest quite nervous about doing it, because I still am not 100% sure about how to move the things I purge along, and I'm going to face a lot of internal struggling when it comes to things that can still be fixed!

I'm planning to buy a huge sturdy box for the stuff I'm going to donate, and plan out my purge on a free weekend. I'm going to be documenting it, of course! I wonder when though, because I kind of need a huge amount of energy to do this!

PS: Go here for an Illustrated Guide to KonMari style folding. It's really simple, but once you read/listen to the book you'll realise how important that is!