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
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.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Schooled!: Things of Note

Just giving you a peek of what life has been like at work:

Right before classes started, the teachers had a nice little art workshop together. I took home a few cards from a watercolor exercise and used it to cover my work notebook, where I jot down random things. The school hosts many talks, workshops, even yoga classes, mostly for free. This is something very striking that I found about my new place of work. It's a school that values the personal development (and well-being) of the teachers just as much as it does for the students, and that's saying a lot, because I find that it cares much, much more about the kids than most schools I've come across in my life.

Birthdays are a big thing in Kindergarten. Here is the very first birthday wreath I've ever made, for a four-year-old. I try to pattern them according to the celebrant's age.

Hi Mom (one hand set-up ftw \m/ i'm holding the ball in my elbow-pit)
Aside from ~homemakin~, Kindergarten in my school requires a lottt of crafting! 
*palpability of excitement is OVER 9000*
We make toys for open-ended play, decorative crafts, puppets and props for story time, etc! I'm learning the very basics of crochet and knitting for now, but one night I was feeling ambitious and took on a SNOWFLAKE!

wet + stretch technique for taut and alive isnofleks

It was a success, but of course I don't remember how to do it anymore. I can only do it while watching the video. huahuahua. (Which I wanna do soon because CHRISTMAS!)

I also made a very simple (and admittedly very cartoony) but cute monkey for a puppet show we had recently and that was super rewarding:

Ooh-ooh, cuute!
I may have always thought of myself as someone who was crafty and creative or whatever, but it's dawned on me often that although I have many creative ideas, I rarely am able to finish actual work, and this job really allows me to practice more, because somehow, being tasked to finish work, or to create output puts less pressure on making the work perfect, because it's less ~personal~, and it just needs to fit certain requirements that are specified. And in turn, being used to making more work also makes even the more personal work easier, because I'm already in the practice of Doing rather than Overthinking. It's really nice.

But aside from finish-able projects, there is also plenty of room for free playing, and not just for the kids! I also find myself playing around a lot more, and getting back in touch with what doing things for fun is like. Often in my adult life, I've found myself stuck in having to make everything I create mean something, or serve a purpose. There wasn't much free energy flowing outward from me, and I feel like it coagulated somehow and corked my energy in, even when I actually needed it. But my job somehow unstuck me from that somewhat! It put the focus out of my head and into my hands. It strengthens what I believe they refer to as my "Will".

None Some of Your Beeswax
Some of free-playing can be very soothing. There's an activity that our main teacher uses to calm the kids down if we have time before Story Time - everyone gets a ball of beeswax and just molds it into whatever. Beeswax, if you don't already know, isn't exactly as soft as play-dough. You have to be both slower and but more deliberate with it. It's done to make the kid's fingers stronger and to sort of herd their energies inwards rather than outwards. It helps them sit down and focus.

ma lidol ocdapus
The toys in the classroom are mostly wood, rope, cloth, and metal. Raaaaaaaaaarely plastic, and little paint. It makes the children's play-world less bright and deafening. The textures are tame and more like nature. And dolls are used to encourage empathy and gentleness.

The kids love tying things together with rope, building structures like houses, shops, and cars. Big ones, with chairs and some wooden skeletal components, often using colorful cloth for walls and roofs (more like pretty canopies). One time we even found them with an island kitchen layout, while one of the girls recreated my story table of The Three Little Pigs, and performed it super well, too! We thought it was reminiscent of our school café!

Early in the mornings, they only play with the "small toys" and during that time, they learn how to share, to borrow, to negotiate with train cars, train tracks, blocks, et cetera (with varying results). I think social manners are so important to establish early on for balanced and confident people (being someone who was super awkward and shy for most of my life), and it's really nice that the school puts that forward. Here is a "car parking building" the kids made next to a train track:

I'm really happy to find myself in a job where I really feel like I'm helping people. And on a more selfish level, a job where I'm not encouraged to put the job before my sanity or health, and where in fact I am encouraged to take care of those things. I remember being told during my interview that I "need to sleep enough for this job"... I came from a call center, so hearing that was as touching as it was confusing for me. They actually care about you (?!!?!?), not just what you can do for them.

I'm putting this picture of our daily fruit box because it's cute. And because I love that they encourage children to love fruit.

The school really feels like a community to me, and I didn't expect it to come to us this way, but that's exactly what Beardy and I wanted to have just a year ago, aside from a place of our own. We wanted to find our own community, with people who were a little more like us. 

This picture is special to me, I made vegan patties, lemonade, and a vegetarian potato salad for a birthday I co-prepped with my co-assistant teacher!! ♥

I'm glad that it's happening to a certain extent, and I just hope it gets even better from here. 

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Life Update: Teacher Sophie?!


I can't believe a full five months have passed since I was last here! What happened?! *shock emoji*

Well, a couple of things:

  • Beardy and I moved out of my family home and into a nice little studio apartment nearby (so I get to go home a lot to see Sansa! haha) and we're loving it here.
  • He and I got a job in an awesome school in the area (such a relief not having to commute to Manila for work!) And he still has his position from last year, so he currently teaches in two schools on alternate week days, while I have a full time job as a PRESCHOOL TEACHER!!!

I finally get to check that one off of my list of "dream jobs" :) The kids call me Teacher Sofie (Sofia is one of my birth names, while the nickname I've gone by since I was a baby actually isn't? Just a name my mom really liked), and often it's spelled with a "ph" by my colleagues, which I oddly prefer now. The kids can't really tell because they aren't at the age yet where they're taught to spell. Because it's a progressive school! A wonderful progressive school that prioritises the wellbeing and freedom of the younglings over ticking off checklists and getting ahead in terms of academics. Which sounded great to me.. and it is!!!

Anyway, I have a lot of good things to say about the school and I will in a seperate post, probably. For now, I just want to do a little update about things that happened in the past months while I've been gone:

We settled in! Moved our stuff in, bought a pan and a pot, color coordinated a lot (mostly green and blue for everything with minimal additions of red/purple!) and arranged stuff the best way we can in our tiny home. I love calling it tiny home, especially cos I recently started watching a lot of minimalism/minimal living type of videos around the time we moved. We aren't exactly living in a trailer in a forest with minimal electricity; in fact I think we're living quite comfily since we have a common pool outside and we use a/c, but it helped me a lot in acquiring less stuff, owning more mindfully, and detaching from my possessions.

This isn't our house, just the view out our window. It's a tiny room but with a BIG VIEW and that's a nice metaphor about our life right now I guess haha.

But that doesn't mean though that I live in a space that's dull! I still like creating small spaces of interest in the room. But the things I use are usually cheap, recycled, and/or multipurpose. This noteboard on the fridge came from the bottom of a cake box. Can you see the faces Beardy drew on the dino magnets? Hehehehe

Beardy's 26th Birthday!! We had a simple yet special one since it's our first on our own. Just a nice home-cooked meal (greek chicken and veg, tzatziki, tapenade, pan fried pita bread -all from scratch!-, and fresh Moroccan mint tea!) and his favorite Purple Oven brownies :)

Paradores Del Castillo in Taal has such an adorable turquoise/aqua motif!!!
Ihaw Boodle meal at Don Juan Boodle House
Last month, Beardy's family visited us again!!! But this time, it was for two whole weeks!!! It was super nice, even though Beardy and I still had to go to work. We did get to go away for a whole weekend together, it was to Taal and Anilao, Batangas. The weather did not let up, but neither did our spirits! We made up for the bad weather and power outages with boardgames and whatnot. It was such a nice thing to be with them so often, and they were so game for everything! We often would squish ourselves inside a single tricycle to go out for dinner haha. I miss them already.

Eagle Point. We didn't get to swim in the ocean though, just the pool. But we stared at it a lot. The waves were crazy but beautiful haha.
 We also had a nice lunch at Angelfields with my family one day and that was also nice because we were all complete and it's such a beautiful place!

I sadly only managed to take a picture of the tarragon tea. haha! But isn't it pretty? I had soup and a sandwich.
Edit: I forgot to add three events!!!:

1. Beardy and I also had our 70th monthsary! Isn't it crazy how fast time flies? We had dinner at Ziggurat. Cos it's our fave, and it's just downstairs.

(Fun fact: Ziggurat follows us around. When we stayed in makati for 10 days, we were looking for a good restaurant nearby and found out that the #1 Tripadvisor restaurant was just a short walk away from the AirBnb we booked. Then when we moved in this apartment, we noticed there was one downstairs! Whuuut. Too lucky.)

2. My aunt had her 60th bday this month! And our family had a bowling tournament. It was really fun, we don't usually actually do things for parties other than eat, drink and sit around so that was a really nice change. Hope we do more fun stuff from now on! ♥

Some pics from my tita Del's FB:

3. Also, our old neighbors/childhood friends from Alabang came by our house!! It's been YEARS since we were last together! The kuyas of the group live in Vegas now and they visited because their grandma (who we all call Nanay) passed away.

This was us in 1992:

And 24 whole years later!!!!:

Lastly, but very important!!!! Carmen and Aizel FIIIINALLY got to see our new place! Pia still hasn't due to BPO scheduling (huhu) but it was so cool to have them over. We had rumcokes and chats up on the roof while families flew kites, enjoyed the view, and I cooked them dinner! We had a bit of a giggle about how adult it seemed to host a dinner for your friends at your own place. It felt really cool but also made us feel really old haha! We all have new jobs right now and it just felt like a nice stopover before starting a looong road trip in our lives. They're both in Makati but I really hope we get to do it again really soon. With Pia.

So that's more or less my life right now. Just trying to make it work. The first few months have been very draining energy-wise and thus I didn't get to keep up with Youtube and this blog, but as I get more of a hang of my new job I imagine to be able to juggle it with my other interests on the side! Soon I'll be practicing guitar again, I'll certainly be on here more, and who knows, maybe I'll get to upload videos on Youtube again. I DON'T KNOW!! Isn't that great!! The world is so big and full of possibilities.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Hey Questioner Artists! Perfect is the Enemy of Good:
When Self-Doubt & Perfectionism get in the way of Creating

If you read back in my blog even a little bit, you'd notice many times where I allude to writing more from then on and then stopping after a couple weeks of doing so.

I get cold feet when I start writing, and I'm always trying to fight against it but it seems that I always know the perfect thing to say to stop myself from making progress:

The information is probably going to be inaccurate. I'll miss some important detail and fail to get my point across. Why bother?

Oh it's a sensitive issue, I don't want to offend anybody.

There is no way anybody's going to find this interesting enough to read.

I'm pretty sure I've said this before in one way or another. It's too redundant.

I don't know what to write right now so instead of staying on the page to figure that out I'll go and watch/read something to occupy that void I feel that could really only be filled by me writing and not this thing I'm about to watch/read.

I'm not in the zone just yet so I'm going to passively wait for the zone to come to me while distracting myself from the zone instead of staying in this blank page a.k.a. just putting myself in the zone like seriously it's so simple why do I keep doing this....

I've been catching up on Gretchen Rubin's Happier podcast because I finally stumbled on a note I wrote a while ago (I'm really bad at actually reading my notes-to-self as much as I keep writing new ones) to watch out for her episode on Questioners - the type I identify with within her Four Tendencies framework, which attempts to categorize people based on how they respond to things they are expected to do. Here is the basic summary of it on her site:

  • Upholders respond readily to outer and inner expectations
  • Questioners question all expectations; they’ll meet an expectation if they think it makes sense–essentially, they make all expectations into inner expectations
  • Obligers meet outer expectations, but struggle to meet expectations they impose on themselves
  • Rebels resist all expectations, outer and inner alike

For a while I started doubting if I was indeed a Questioner and not a Rebel instead, because I seem to keep failing to follow my own expectations even after I've convinced myself about why I'm doing them the first time (read: previous parenthesis!). I sleep, wake up, then poof! My mood is the captain of the ship again.

But now I realise that it's not because I want to be disobedient to myself, or that I want to be in charge of each moment as they come - it's because for some strange reason, I somehow lose touch of my reasoning very easily in the face of more immediate concerns, often fear and anxiety. Honestly, I'm hoping it's just a case of me having established bad habits so strongly that it's hard to start new ones without having a strong external reset signal for them, like a renovation, a new house, a near-death experience (please don't let it get to that Bea!) ?!?!

Anyway, the conclusion that seems to make sense to my questioning self after having listened to the podcast is that I can combat these unhelpful rationalizations with some helpful ones! Here are some I've compiled:

  1. When speaking about something I care about and I'm doubting the thoroughness and carefulness of my work- This whole thing does not rely on me, I am just one person speaking their mind who might touch just a couple of others. Inaccuracies, or left-out sentiments are just an edit or a comment away should they arise.
  2. When I irrationally fear a backlash in spite of not having enough readers for that to happen anyway- It's highly unlikely, and if it even happens, that's a good thing! That means you have readers who are engaged enough to respond. And you can always respond back, and you've grown in such a way where you are able to argue amicably. Use that skill, trust it, develop it! Use it or lose it! That's the point of social media anyway.
  3. When I am tempted to forgo talking about my own very messy experiences, and attempt to just relay good advice instead of talking about my own journey - Being honest and genuine is more important than being correct, because there are a lot of people far more qualified to speak to specialized information than me. That's not my job here. My job here is to be me and to speak about what I experience, and yes I can sprinkle my theories here and there, but I have to show my flaws too. I need to be open about how messy the journey is for people who might have the same problems. Showing my weaknesses and vulnerability in light of what I am trying to change will be more helpful and insightful than purified advice that has been heard many times. That's how I learn, through watching other flawed people overcome things, and that's how I can most effectively teach anything, too, if at all.
These are the things that apply to me for my internet spaces (YouTube and this blog) where I'm attempting to both document and make sense of my own life. If it does not apply to what you're trying to do, the guidelines in making counter-rationalizations is to lay everything out when you're in a state of analysis paralysis, and take only the parts that stir you to action, and focus on those. And if you're as forgetful as me, make a system where you are reminded of those helpful, actionable rationalizations when you need them.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Post-LDR Weirdnesses

Raise your hand if, like me, you're in complete disbelief that it's already friggin' April.

This message Emmy left on the bathroom mirror is a month old now 0.o

That means I met him sixty-five months ago now, and he's been living ~on shore~ (lol) for nine months by next week!

That's four (and a half) times as long as any other time that we've been together in our five year long relationship.

Life has been tough and it hasn't been all butterflies and rainbows, but the thing is, it doesn't have to be for love to be awesome. In fact, that's how it gets a chance to prove its awesomeness - when life gets tough around you, and your love, instead of crumbling in the pressure, just gets tougher and denser in the thick of it all too.

*cue cheesy picture with light effects pa*

But check yourself if you imagined the process to be a dramatic one - heroic struggles with knights, villains, and romantic suffering. If there's anything I've learned about love standing the test of time, it's that it does so through ease and lightheartedness, in moments of silliness and laughing at the same things. In being very good in talking, experiencing little moments together, and being each other's best friend.

I don't know why but I just felt like this picture of a cute potato seal we found while grocery shopping together belonged here.
 Over time, I found that in the imaginary venn diagram of things we find funny, Beardy's circle and my circle have progressively converged more and more, and for the areas where they couldn't, our circles made up for it by straining new space in the middle for things that shouldn't even be considered as funny to make way for gems including:
  • horrible, HORRIBLE puns in all languages possible
  • intendedly incorrect exchanges that we do for fun/out of habit (ex: "i love you so much!" "I love you too, so much!" ; "thank you, please" "thank you too, please." -maybe these don't seem too strange, but we have a special accent for them that I noticed we use on each other a lot)
  • etc (that's all I'm going to say because I don't think it's proper to elaborate on how much we talk about poop)

this pun, not intended. i just think this, too, belongs here somehow.

So yeah. Overall, we might be struggling on the life front, but I'm happily learning that even though life can give you many reasons to be dramatic, love doesn't have to be one of those things. I wish I could reach out to my younger self to tell her this, because I could have saved myself so many tears, insecurity, and time spent yearning for a perfect romantic scenario, which, to be honest, as I see it now, doesn't look at all that fun in the end.

You don't have to be each other's everything, but you can be each other's person-to-share-everything-with. You don't have to fight about differences or ignore them altogether but instead develop a healthy habit of talking and arguing constructively. You don't have to figure everything else in your life out before being together. Just be responsible, and encourage each other to do be better and to pursue what's fulfilling and makes each other happy. It might be near impossible to get a perfect scenario, but keep looking to work on a better scenario each and every time.

What you lack in natural attitude tendencies, make up for with a willingness to understand and accommodate each other's shortcomings. Keep working on your communication skills.

And lastly, instead of trying to be perfect for one another, just choose to be the unconditional, lucky witness and celebrator of each other's type of weird.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

The Mind is Always a Step Ahead.

There is an Icelandic word called "Lifspeki",
which means ‘The practical philosophy by which one lives one’s life’.
Not a philosophy one believes; nor a philosophy one aspires to live by.
Not a state of mind. A state of being.
I wrote about the feeling of being split in half in this regard, and it made me think of the concept of daemons in Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials book series, the first book set that Beardy gifted me. In the world of the protagonist Lyra, one's inner self is animated and projected through a daemon - a being that takes an animal form. In our world, it is assumed that our daemons are already inside us. But it does not necessarily mean, I guess, that we are more united within than a person from Lyra's world - because they are made aware of the disconnect and have more opportunities to work it out, while we are estranged to the fact that parts of us may contradict each other.
I think harmony between my philosophies/thoughts and actions is the highest thing I can ever aspire to in life.

My thoughts and actions are friends.

They do not seem to be one and the same.

My thoughts run around, and have the ability of flight. They can be free, unbounded, and can be in more than one place at a time.

My actions are creatures of the earth. Bound by the ground I step on. Always lagging at least a little bit behind.

They are the best of friends. At least they try to be.

But they often leave each other behind.

They can move in different speeds, not always forward, and they tend to get each other lost.

My thoughts tend do throw themselves up as if the stars are calling them by name when my actions can barely lift feet off the mud.

And so sometimes it feels like they part.

My mind can live in a completely separate plane from my actions, feeling free and wild like fire,

But the whole of me lives on Earth, where only My Actions matter.

And so the whole of me stays troubled.

My Actions, not My Thoughts, allow me to connect with others, and to change reality.

My thoughts to my actions are what souls supposedly are to bodies.

Without a body, a soul is just a ghost. Unable to speak, to hold, to connect. Its existence questionable.

And without a soul, supposedly, a body is lifeless.

When my actions don't match my thoughts, what becomes of me then?

A thoughtful ghost.

A lifeless drone.

One piece at first glance, but two incomplete halves in any other angle.

My mind will always be a step ahead. 

But it needs to let My Actions catch up, hold its hand, so it can 
at the very least
follow closely by.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

When Inspiration Gets... Scary.

A lot of the time when I get artist's blocks, I would offhandedly claim that I lack inspiration. "I need to get inspired!" I would think to myself, often writing "Get inspired!" on my daily checklists as a reminder to not wait for it to come and go looking for it instead.

But lately I've been noticing something happen a lot.. Something very curious and unexpected. I find myself being very inspired very often... And it doesn't make me feel better.

Instead it makes me feel scared, overwhelmed, and instead of adding clarity to the mess of bobbing ideas in my dirty bathtub of a mind it feels as if it just adds more noisy rubber duckies in the mix, squeaking, squawking, demanding my attention.

Listing ideas usually help, even if only to calm the anxiety symptoms these moments cause. Enabling me to try and lure the rubber duckies to form a straight line so I can deal with them one by one. (Sorry, I'm a little stuck in my rubber duckie metaphor.)

So I've had a change in priorities. Now I'm more about learning how to compile ideas that come up and being able to organize them in such a way that I can understand in the future. But the most important part that I'm dealing with is the one in which I have the most trouble with - following through. 

I'm trying to train my mind into finding it natural to actually work on things which feels sooo different from the imagining part. Coming up with ideas is something I'm alright at, it feels easy and natural, I can plan extensively in my head, come up with ways to do things... But once I need to execute, I'm like, wat is dis.

i actually just made this in memegenerator high five
Inspiration is useless if no work is created. It's merely a first step. Still, it's a thing that I lacked that I'm glad to have found. It's a step up. A box checked off. And that's what I want all of this to be about - not being perfect, just being better all the time.

What eases me to think about is the thought that I'm not failing anyone else as much as I'm failing myself.

Just kidding, that doesn't really comfort me much.

But it shifts my feelings of having to appear alright to wanting to just be alright. To allow myself to be in the thick of the struggle, to get my hands dirty, get embarassed, fail, be rejected, and hopefully after everything, learn things I can use as I go along.

So yeah. That's where I am right now.

Knowing my faults is key.