Monday Musings: Listening to the universe, April greetings and morning tea

Untitled While Mondays are usually busy, this Monday was busier than most.. I’m not complaining.. I think I did good today, sashayed from task to task in my pretty dress. Sometimes it’s all in the outfit.. forget that the 4 inch heels sometimes make you feel like kicking the pumps off— you plod on. And I did and I’m rather proud of my day.. I try to start the week off on a good note and just hope that the positivity flows on to the rest of the week.

The universe said, let it go. And I did. A question was racking my brain and I got my answer hours later. Did you ever pound your head senseless trying to figure something out, until you feel that you’ve beat the question to death and you just up and go. I didn’t let it get that far. I breathed deep and closed my eyes and then let if go. The answers are not always obvious or within reach, but they will come. You just have to wait..

All these April birthdays! It wasn’t only me who celebrated a birthday.. my brother on the 7th, as well as a favorite nephew and godson.. sister in law on the 18th.. one of my forever besties on the 4th, another on the 23rd. A cousin who passed some years ago was remembered on the 13th.. and a kindred spirit who was a fellow legal eagle, fan of The Bard, and someone who likes elevators like I do, also on the 13th. If only for all these people I celebrate, I’m justified celebrating throughout the month. Who says it should be one day only?

I did my first shot on my birthday, toasting me.. and new beginnings and an even better year ahead. That was an auspicious way to welcome another year being me. and a few days later, splitting a bottle of my favorite bubbly and cake and all the sweet things I am, when my fangs aren’t showing, that is.

I’ll say it again.. I am grateful. My heart is full.

So if you missed greeting me on the 2nd, it isn’t as tardy as you think to greet me for as long as it’s this month!

Art journal in limbo. It’s almost May and I have to confess I haven’t gotten anywhere with the art journal. I am still hopeful because there is so much to write about and put on paper, if only so I can remember when it’s time to go back to today some day. When I find myself wanting to go back and remember the happy times and relive the warm hugs and the laughter. I have been showered with so many reasons to be grateful.

There’s the captain with my diet Coke, the lunch of cheese, saucisson, grapes and Marcona almonds with a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon. Those mornings someone was sweet enough to make me tea, and coached me to switch trains and just follow the crowds to the right track. Each of those lines could be a page in my art journal.. if only I could find the time to write and draw and paint again.

Finally started writing those letters again. I am way behind answering the letters received from friends— more so the ones that came with postcards to add to my collection. My bad. I have started writing the replies and will hopefully make my 12 letter goal this year. I am trying. Writing used to be effortless. It used to come so naturally. I remember those days when I’d write on anything handy and send them off to friends, one time collecting quite a bunch from a former bestie. I’ve lost most of them, but some I’ve kept. I came across this card from BFF Donna from down under, written almost 30 years ago when we were still both in Manila. I took snapshots and sent it to her and even though she couldn’t remember, the song it referenced was a very special song to us even back then.

Letter from long ago

“How was your day? “ I often wish I could answer that question in all honesty and unburden my heart, or whine and just describe what went on during the day just ended. But I simply say it was okay, or that it was busy but it went fine.. not because I don’t want to let you know how it really went, but sometimes I feel all that might be too much to hear when you’re ending your day as well. Again, in time. Just hearing the question asked is enough for now: even if it’s followed right after by a simple goodnight. It helps to end my day with a smile,. And I sleep better because someone asked the question — until tomorrow’s morning greeting, at least. These simple gestures are a warm hug to my heart.

Mondays are happier these days for many reasons, and again, for each and every one of those, I am grateful.

Journaling in 2022

My Art Journal 2022

I returned to Art journaling in 2020 as a means of keeping my head straight in the thick of the pandemic. I let the juices flow and did sections instead of filling out the pages chronologically. Although I have yet to bind the different sections together and there are some unfinished layouts, in my mind and in my heart, those pages encapsulate what my year was all about. For all the challenges that the opening salvo of covid dealt us, I know I came out with more than what I lost that year.

I began 2021 by working on the first layouts starting with the fold out pages of the year which I traditionally do. And that was that. The year flew by and no art journaling for me. While I’m not too happy with that, all I can say is “Life happens.” And it did.

Towards the end of 2021, I heard from a friend from far away who is nevertheless always close at heart. Many years my junior, she and I shared a passion for art, jewelry making and postcards. She is one of the few people on my very short list who I try to see whenever I land in Manila. Long story short, she proposed a journal exchange. Many years ago, I left Manila with a mini journal from her which is now tattered and all worn because I used to carry it in my purse. I was more than willing to do this with her.

So that makes for two journals I will be working on this year.

For my main personal journal, I have decided I will keep my 5″ x 7.5″ page format from 2020. As one of the more challenging tasks was deciding on the format, I think I’ll keep to the recycled folder or card stock I used, more so since I’ve drifted more towards painting my backgrounds. And it was simple enough to cut other paper to size to fit in it. Settled. Like I did in 2020 where I did a summary of 2019 at the start, I will use the 2021 fold out for this purpose.

My shared journal 2022For my shared journal, I’ve decided to use this handmade paper and journal from Nepal which I have several of. I absolutely fell in love with this journal when I stumbled upon it at Barnes & Noble. I liked it so much that I bought 2-3 more besides the one I had started a gratitude journal on many years ago. (Which I actually rediscovered when I was looking for my spares..). So the idea is she’s writing on a journal I will reply to later, and I am starting mine. I will leave space or pages for her to write on later, after we exchange journals– whenever that may be. It’s like a conversation in our heads on paper, with a longer response time intended. And the next time we meet or sooner, we exchange journals again.
My shared journal
Journaling is a very personal thing to me because there, I can chronicle my day and my feelings and thoughts freely. I have often gone back to my questions and musings at a later time, usually finding a different and better insight into either what I had gone through or what I am going through. It’s a journey in words and images.

I’m starting the year with a determined effort to set aside time and focus to actually get back to this — and I’m hopeful that I will be able to do more than I did in 2021.

Monday Musings: Another Stay at home week

Monday musings in paper and inkI’ve been writing posts and they are hanging out in my drafts folder. There are so many things I want to write about but writing has been mostly in my mind — but I’m determined to get this all out here. More than a month into the stay-at-home deal, I’m still anxious about many things and now have to think about preparing for the return to work. I thought it would be a good idea to go back to something I’ve usually turned to when I’m in a writing rut — my Monday Musings which spew out blurbs and shorts of anything that comes to mind the moment I’m writing here.

Yes, we will be returning soon. Probably not until the month is out at least — So I’m thinking June. While the work-from-home situation has been a challenge, I consider it a blessing. I appreciate the fact that I still have a job and have a paycheck coming regularly, which come with the benefits and all those blessings. It’s been difficult because I don’t have the resources I have when I’m physically in the office, and I’ve had to devise new ways and means to do my work. But I have managed, and I really have no complaints. Well, maybe save for the fact that we are busy as ever, and the work from home deal hasn’t really meant less work. I am also thankful that I don’t have to worry about the commute in this kind of a situation. And when life returns to a sense of normalcy, we will adjust — we will cope.

I am already working on my personal face covering but that has been sidelined by my efforts to contribute to this Herculean task of beating the virus. We all do what we can. Still, I need to start thinking of the commute, and how we will be operating with the new safety precautions which, I am sure, we will be told and be constantly reminded about in the weeks to come.

Art on pause. For a first quarter that saw my art journal zooming into life, I have actually put the project on hold for the month of April. Not that there wasn’t anything to draw or write — I just burned out, I guess. Or maybe things just caught up with me. Or maybe I found the balance I was looking for in feverishly working on it the months before. My pages are waiting. I have the signatures all set. I have the sections figured out. I just need to pick it up again. This week, I promise.

My Art Journal: Grateful

Jewelry projects revisited. I did pick up a cab that I wanted to attempt to encase in crocheted artistic wire. I’m not quite happy with how it turned out but the attempt was a start. I am going to try to create a few pieces one of these evenings. I have tried to get on with the organizing here and there — something you’d think I’d have so much time to do. Not quite true. But the thought is there.. and in fact, I just might attempt to string some beads I am fancying and within reach here. If only there were more hours to the day.

A week of celebrations, it will be. My big guy will be 16 this Friday. I am keeping my fingers crossed that the tomahawk steak I ordered will arrive on time. He’s not one for cake but I just might bake him one. And on Sunday, it’s Mother’s Day. A whole lot of celebrating up ahead!

Congratulations are in order for the successful examinees who passed the Philippine Bar Exams of 2019. A topic near and dear to me — the feelings never gets old.. and personally, the wave of gratitude that takes me over every time as I look back to my own legal journey decades ago. (Oops.. dating myself here. LOL). But we celebrate all those victories — one of the highest, if not the highest passing rate in many years. To all those who made it, congratulations.

Let’s be kind and practice social distancing and wearing a mask. It’s the new way of saying “please” and “thank you.” With all the deaths and hardship that the whole world has witnessed in the past few months, a little kindness can go a long way.

My art journal

Creating a journal has always been more than picking one out and writing in it for me. Since I finished my first journal spanning 2012-2015, deciding on my next format made for a lot of stops and starts. But after so many failed attempts, I think I’ve finally found something I am happy with.

From the beginning, I knew I was going to use upcycled paper. Sheets from file dividers, used Manila folders, and I zeroed in on a size. 5.5 x 7×5. I toyed with the idea of sewing signatures together, but then decided on working on sections I could compile together instead.

I had started in a totally different direction before the last year ended, but I had a new idea which saw me totally focused on a different design direction. I am quite excited with the thicker and bigger layouts I’ve come up with. And I know that I can still add the rose petal collage embellishments to the existing pages.

I’ve gathered some old art work and materials I’ve incorporated into the layouts. I have even fished out an older basic watercolor cake palette (which is what you see in my section avatar in this post) and began creating basic page backgrounds. Just like my first art journal, I am trying to add fold outs and cut outs to make the book visually unique, starting with a 4-page spread of “2020”.

I found some magazine cut outs I had originally intended for a totally different kind of journal project and this time, I used them in some spreads for embellishing later on. I’ve even pulled out my stash of handmade paper I’ve acquired through the years to use as part of the layouts.

It’s coming out pretty nicely and I haven’t even started journaling.

I’d still like to begin the book by retracing the last 12 months as mini entries. 2019 was a positive year mostly because my world stayed in a good place. You know how people say things can only get better? They did and they stayed good. Nothing remarkable or ground breaking– but sometimes, “good” is okay. And that’s 12 months worth journaling.

I’m giddy happy thinking about how this project, which I’ve tried to get going so many times before and had fallen flat and hanging, is finally taking off. I can’t wait to paint and spray and paste and write.

Journaling has always been about capturing my thoughts and feelings in words and pictures for me to go back to in some future time. When I am in the process of writing down my entry or creating the layout, that is me lost in myself, trying to express what’s in me or memorializing the feeling or thought of the moment. It’s a way of speaking in my own inner voice. It’s something I didn’t get to do last year, but 2020 will be different.  Having gotten this far in just the first four weeks of the year, I know I will be able to tick this off my list this time around.

The “Why” of Journaling

My journal is moving along.

I am one happy camper as far as that’s concerned. I have kept a diary and wrote long hand since I was child. Even when I first arrived here in 2000, I would write in those elegant journals – pouring my heart and soul into every word. At the same time, I was sort of writing online but in a very spontaneous way.

I still have a blank journal from years back – a holiday present from someone who used to answer to “Husband of Pinay New Yorker,” (now answers to “ex”) – I haven’t shaken off the urge to write and chronicle what happens in my life, what I feel and think about – be it in a dozen words, a picture or page after page of entries. Somehow writing those things longhand was always my preferred mode over typing, despite my typing speed of 90wpm.

Not too long ago, I discovered art journaling and that opened a new channel of expression for me. I found that I did not have to relay every single thought or feeling or memory in words– I could represent them with my own version of art.
Decorate a Journal for Swap-Bot I have always loved writing. The spoken word, to me, has always been about expression. Writing is a means of memorializing my day to day. I like that I’m able to do that with words, with color, and express so much with just one photo.. or two.

I journal like I blog– principally for my personal benefit, so that I can capture the day or a thought. Because at the end of the day, we tend to forget. During some moment in the future, remembering might actually help us.

I know that it has helped me to move forward remembering what happened so many years ago. It has helped me to reflect on how far I’ve come when I go back to those days and moments I had already forgotten. And sometimes I do need to be reminded. I need to go back to that “once upon a time” moment to remind myself to go in a certain direction to avoid the pitfalls of yesterday.

I like going back to those moments when a word or a phrase I read now brings me back to memories of “onion soup”. I like going back to both the dark and happy times because it lets me see how far I’ve come. In my weakest moments, remembering helps me to move on. During those moments of triumph, I feel grateful as I read about how I was in a very different place, not too long ago.

I journal because I want to learn from the mistakes of the past and cherish the happy times that have come after. My journals remind me I have time and again overcome, and whatever comes my way, I will be able to handle.

Why do you journal?

Related post: The “How” of Journaling

Art Journal Reboot

For starters, I managed to draw and assemble a new section avatar. Yay! And rather than aim for a masterpiece, I settled on what I came up with on the first try. I was thinking of spraying it with ink. But then I was afraid the sign pen ink would end up bleeding. I could also take a snapshot of the black and white logo and color it digitally. (just like my Friday Five logo.). Somehow I didn’t feel quite okay with that. Then I remembered my flower collage– and that was that.

Before the weekend, I started working on my first multi-page layout. But first, I finally decided I will pull together these sheets of paper I had cut out of binder dividers, assembling them into a 9×15 inch spread. I will pull sections bit by bit so I can work on the layouts without carrying the entire book with me. At the end of the year, I will bind the final project into a solid book.

I am optimistic this one will get off the ground, unlike previous attempts after I did my altered book.

So back to my multi page layout. I used a lot of multi page layered layouts in my first art journal and I really liked how those gave my art journal a two dimensional feel.

I just really love the idea that I’m finally doing another book. There were many things that I failed to do in 2018. Continuing my art journaling was one of them.

I am not an artist by any means. I am creative and crafty, but I need to watch a dozen videos teaching me how to draw and practice many hours to come up with a passable sketch. But as personal as any journal is, it’s your own art that matters. It can be stick drawings, purely collage, or a hodgepodge of pre cut or preprinted kits. If you ask me, anything beyond simply writing down a journal entry can be an art journal.

I first heard of art journaling from Julie Fei Fan Balzer’s Art Journal Everyday project many years back. (Read more about here.). Then I got into journaling swaps as well which showed me how journal prompts could help you keep writing. For the most part, I preferred to journal day to day about what was going through my head or what I was feeling in my heart at any given point in time.

I did the backgrounds ahead and worked on each layout as my entries moved on. I like that pace and hope to do the same with this one. I’m hoping it will be as fulfilling an experience working with an altered book before and shifting to a “create as you go” journal as I assemble this one along the way.

Friday Five – Three out of Five off the list

I had actually written and finished this Friday, but I was so exhausted by the end of the day that I slept without hitting publish.. so here it goes..

I am proud to report that I am ticking off three of the five on my list last week.

1.  Write on the postcards I meant to send out to friends in Manila.

2.  Work on the hem of at least one pair of pants.  

3.  Report on my progress with the THANK YOU POSTCARD PROJECT.

4.  Create a pair or two of earrings from my polymer clay discs.  

5.  Create a non-polymer clay piece.

Save for the pants, I might even be able to belatedly take no. 3 off soon, too.

Not bad.

This week’s Friday Five:

1.  Finish the pieces for posting to the shop.  The polymer clay disc pieces and the non-polymer clay ones are just up for finishing, photographing and posting.  Target for the weekend: at least one.

2.  Work on the hem of at least one pair of pants.  Still trying to get this done before the fall is fully present in NYC!

3.  Write a post in the other blog, THANK YOU POSTCARD PROJECT.  I’ve been working on this and there is much to report.  If only I could find the time to sit down and write.

4.  Begin the next multi-page layout I started planning last weekend.  I love doing multi-page layouts which I fill in as I go on with my art journal

5.  Create one of my Marian necklaces.  About time, considering the request from Lou came a while back.

Let’s see how far I get this time…

Friday Five Progress

I’m seriously thinking of renaming this the Saturday Five because I always end up doing them on a Saturday.  But it doesn’t sound quite right.

Some progress this week:

1.  Write those letters.  will still try.

2.  Post those earrings!    I actually managed to post five items and these are now available in the shop.

Fotor_20140726094922899
Available at Gothamchick.etsy.com

3.  Work on the Thank You Postcard Project page.  Been working on it but not the the site itself iwhich s private for now and I have it as a separate blog from this, but I have started uploading to its Instagram Account.  Below is one of the first few I’ve uploaded and you can search for it via hashtag. (#thethankyoupostcardproject)  These are also available on my Pinterest account.

The Thank You Postcard Project - #theyhankyoupostcardproje ct

4.  Send some test postcards out.  I’m pulling back on this for now because I want to make some specifically to test with.  I don’t want to touch what I already have in the 200+ postcards with backgrounds ready to be worked on.

5.  Bake some polymer clay pieces this week.  I’ve been pouring a lot of work into polymer clay and so far I’ve managed to make maybe half a dozen beads and molds, but my major polymer clay experiment fell flat.  But that’s what experiments are for, so I’m glad to report that I am at least working on it.

So here goes this week’s Friday’s Five:

1.  Write those letters.  will still try.  I am working on some handmade cards and might even come out with a tutorial in Gotham Chick (my craft blog),  so at least one card, I think will go out.

2.  Post the almost finished bracelets and necklaces in the shop.  I have some mother of pearl bead bangles that are ready for posting but need some finishing because of the extender chain with charm I wanted to add.  That should be done this weekend, and he posts up before next Friday.

3.  Finish at least one more background at the end of my altered book.  I’ve gone back to art journaling and was just finishing one layout for an entry, but I have around 20 spreads in the book that are still plain book pages.  The idea is to create journal ready spreads as I go along.  One or two more entries in the back of the bok would be nice.

4.  Destash more magazine by going through them and getting what I need.  I have been cutting out letters connected to the Thank You Postcard Project and hope to do that with the other magazines I mean to throw out.

5.  Create more polymer clay beads.  I worked on some molds last night meant to help with textures and I hope to create more this weekend.  (Has to be this weekend.)

It might seem like I’m rehashing the previous week’s list but that’s the whole point of this.  I created this list to help me focus on deliverables that are achievable, and I like that it’s kept me committed to ticking off something each week.

It was beautiful yesterday but the clouds are back.  Not a happy morning outside but I’m not complaining because the sun is going to be tolerable.  Hope everyone is having a good Saturday!

Back to Art Journaling and saying thanks

Art Journal Every dayI was hoping to be halfway done with the altered book I’ve been using for my Art Journal Every Day entries by now, but the problem is that I haven’t been too good with the “every day” bit. Weeks to even a month between posts have practically ground the art journaling to a halt. But I have picked up the Art journal again, so there is hope.

I thought I’d do a “Thank you” post, more so since I’ve been trying to kick off a project. It’s something that I’ve been playing around with in my head and something I’ve been doing some mail art to prepare for. We just don’t say those two words enough. On the other side of the spectrum, a simple thank you in our hands can make such a world of difference.

I’m pulling together a Thank You Postcard Project by repurposing old advertising free cards into mail art with a visual “thank you.” I’m using my stash of decorative/fancy table napkins, subway (and other) maps and other background materials to cover the original print. I’m even using some of my original photography in some. I’ve probably pieced together close to a hundred of my doodled flowers and I just can’t stop.

It’s not about me thanking you. I want to give you the medium to say “Thank you.”  It’s about saying thank you with a postcard.. more to come.

Art Journal Every Day: My little guy turns 10

I’ve been struggling a little with getting on with the art journaling. It’s mostly been sitting on my bedside table untouched the last couple of days, so I had quite a bit to catch up on. The weekend somehow gave me the chance to do an entry and a half (the other one still in progress), and I’m happy to be art journaling again.

This page had a totally different background before I started working on it again. I wasn’t quite happy with a white page I had stamped on primarily because the pigment ink was “staining” the opposite page.  Gesso to the rescue!  I put on a thin layer to cover the previous watercolor/stamping, and although some of the blue on the right hand page seeped through, I think it covered it pretty well, allowing me to use ink spray to create a totally different background.  It was “muted” by the gesso and the direct application, but I like the effect after everything had dried.

It made the masking tape holding the page together more obvious — I needed to do some book first aid with the binding falling apart on me, but I think that added to the layout’s charm.

Art Journal Every Day: Celebrating my boy’s 10th birthday by doing a spread with his traced hand on one side and mine on the other. Still a work in progress. I haven’t been too good with the “every day” part of the project but trying to catch up.

With my little guy turning 10 last Thursday, I’ve had a very busy week.  Goodie bags had to be packed, the cupcakes bought, and then I hied down to school for a 20 minute appearance that saw him beaming.  As we walked home together, he proudly told me it was a good birthday.  That was precious..

His birthday will always be very special to me because it marked a very big change in my life.  While I wasn’t even aware until the last couple of months of how much more profound that change actually was, I cannot be more grateful for the blessing of having this little guy as my son.  He truly makes everything worth it.

I’ve tried to make it a habit to do outlines of his hand through the years just to show how he’s growing, and I journaled within the outline of his, and zentangled mine.  (Yes, all patterns were taken from official patterns for zentangling.)

I have only a few copic markers which I used to write the text around the actual journaling,    and while I was reluctant to “fill up” the page, it felt quite bare without the other text.  I wanted it to be busy and “full”…An entry all about my little boy who isn’t so little anymore. The palm of his hand is almost the same size as mine — but I like the feel of holding his tinier hand because it still makes me feel like the mom holding that hand in mine.

Time flies, indeed! I keep telling him I wish he wouldn’t grow up so fast. I feel like the passing of time will see him drift away as he grows up and joins the world out there. That is both frightful and terribly exciting for me as a mother.

He has been such a gift to me. Every day, I thank God and I pray He keep him safe.
Art Journal Every Day- in sequenceMeanwhile, here’s the half-done (not quite) page I’ll be working on next.  There was a three-inch gash tearing through the binding, so I thought I would remedy that by pasting these paper pieced doddled flowers I had inserted into the back of the book for use somewhere within the journal.  And here they are. More on this journal entry later.

Mother's Day layout