Looking back

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I am constantly going through my things, sifting through what I can give away, throw away, or keep.  There are always bits and pieces that somehow surprise me with a memory or a longer peek into “what used to be”.  Being very sentimental by nature, I used to find it hard to just discard or throw away things, even long after they have served their purpose in my life, or if their meaning has changed through time or by virtue of circumstance.  Letting go has never been easy for me, but several life altering  shifts that took place in the last couple of years have caused me to just do that more easily.

I am still not quite as adept at it as someone I know who will not think twice about throwing something that seems useless or nondescript.  I’ve seen pieces of projects and parts of other things go missing, only to find out later it was mistakenly thrown away.

But there are things that we need to get rid of or shed as we go through life.  Just as we shed people, we must shed things.  There just tends to be too much at some point in time and we must unburden ourselves of that load.  I am doing just that.

So I was actually looking for something else when I spied this notebook that I had used as a journal sometime in 2013, tucked somewhere in my room where I had meant to keep it hidden.  I didn’t forget about it, but I just didn’t feel the urge to write in it.  It was one of the “What do I really, really, really want?” journals.  Like millions of others who read “Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert, I had followed her speeches and writings and picked up this prompt to help me focus on getting some clarity at a time when I felt I was “floating” needlessly.

I have at least two of these journals, the first one, definitely ended.  I was just hoping to read through the main response, not the journal entries themselves, and maybe make a visual summary of the answers I wrote down — but that idea got shot down once I realized where I was heading at the time I wrote that in 2012.  Not worth it.  Between then and now, I not only did a complete 360, but I had jumped from one universe to another.  Still, I thought, it would be helpful to be reminded of my state of mind and heart back then, if only to go back to the lessons I learned from that experience.  Once I’m done “being reminded”, that one will be shredded and gotten rid of in full.

The main idea is to ask yourself the question — and yes, you do ask “really” three times for emphasis — and then write about the first thing that comes to mind.  And as the days go, you can go back to your answers to get a picture of what it is that you have been writing in answer to the question.  After doing two books and here about to go on a third, I have discovered it DOES work for me.  (But that’s just me.)

This second book that I have, I had written on intermittently during one of the most volatile periods in my adult life.  In many ways, it got me to where I am now.  It made me who I am now.  So this one, I believe, is worth doing a visual summary for, and maybe even worth keeping.  I haven’t quite started reading yet as I just stumbled upon the book this morning, but you can see it has sparked a different kind of inspiration within.

I have leafed through the first 5 or 6 entries to start the visual summary.  I haven’t even read the actual entries and I could hear my inner voice screaming what I wanted, and I am relieved I had actually gotten myself to get it done.  It’s a very personal reveal that I’d rather keep to myself, but suffice it to say, even without reading back, writing those thoughts and sentiments made them a reality for me.  I think I got, and am on my way to getting, that which I really, really, really want.


What do I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY want? (Book III)

I read Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia years ago and have only read it once, but I have picked up one very important practice from reading the book.  I’ve tried to answer this question that Elizabeth Gilbert, the author, posed to her readers as an after thought to the soul-searching she chronicled in her book: “What do I really, really, really want?

I am now on my third journal and am into my fourth or fifth entry in a new notebook.  A good amount of time and many life events and decisions have passed between the journals, and even I have found the change in my answers and state of mind quite enlightening.  I know that a lot has changed between 2012 and now– both in my personal circumstances and the world in general around me, and it has been quite a journey.  It is in looking back at the answers I had written — not necessarily the journal entries per se — that I have seen such a marked difference in the way I used to think and the way I am now.

The very stark difference between what I wanted then and what I want now gives me pause to reflect on how my feelings have changed since I first started answering the question.  I had made it a point to just go over the answers and make a visual summary from time to time, but at this point, I don’t think I’m ready to read my entries in depth just yet.  I am, however, ready to continue answering the question in the “now”.

Gilbert says you have to repeat the “really” three times to stress that it has to be something you truly want — as against something you might “maybe want” or “half want.”  It must also be something spontaneous after asking the question.  This time around, I’ve taken to doing a bit of art around each entry.  Whether it is to draw a border around the page or color in the lettering of either the question or the answer, or to add some graphic I intend to fill in with color later on, each additional time soent embellishing the page gives me a chance to reflect deeper into my answer.  Sometimes the succeeding blurb is a sentence or two only.  Sometimes it fills the whole page.  Again, the key is spontaneity.

Answering the question when I write on that journal’s pages is like an ongoing essay that gets written a bit at a time with each entry.  And when I go back to read them all, I’m supposed to find my answer from the very words I’d written.


Art Journal Every Day: HOPE (A multi-page layout)

I have several of these multi-page layouts in my altered book but I tried to think of words which evoked positivity and then executed it in different ways.

This layout started out as this:

Art Journal Every Day: HOPE - original multi-page layout before journaling
The left hand page was a watercolor layout I pasted on the book page, and I picked out four different fonts for the individual letters of “HOPE”. I painted the pages and concentrated on the fourth of the right side page that I needed and then traced the letters onto the page and cut them.

Because the pages with the letters had acrylic paint, I had to use permanent ink to draw and write on them.  Note that ordinary black signpens will not adhere to the paint and tend to stain the other page. As this was already a rather “colorful” layout, I decided I’d stick with an all-black border and background theme.

I did the first layout with doodled flowers and hand-drawn dates.

Art Journal Every Day -HOPE

After I finished the first entry, I then started drawing on the empty spaces behind the letters to make the multi-page layout more cohesive. I also made sure each journal block had a distinctive border to frame the entry.

Art Journal Every Day: HOPE - a multi page layout

I also maximized the blank spaces behind the letters as much as I could. Black worked for the most part but I needed to use silver and/or gold for the darker page painted with violet. I kept the floral embellishment to black, though.

Art Journal Every Day: HOPE - a multi page layout

For the final layout below, I decided to use some spray painted
filofax grid pages I had sprayed with ink. I simply pasted it onto the blank center and wrote on it.  I wanted to do more journaling than drawing on this particular spread, and it was just easier writing on a water-color or ink painted journal space than the practically whole two-page spread that was painted with light purple acrylic paint.  I drew randomly on the other blank spaces to fill it in.Art Journal Every Day: HOPE - a multi page layout

I am very heavy on the written journaling and have yet to move on to symbolic or art-based entries. I am trying, but this works better for me.

I’m finishing another multi-page layout again right now and will probably be able to share that next week. (If not sooner.)  Some of the entries are short and other go on from page to page.  I don’t necessarily choose to confine my entries on one page.  I let it flow and just move on to the next page if I’ve run out of space.

I’ve tried to work on part of a layout or a layout every day but I don’t stress about “catching up” if I miss out on a day or two.  If I do, I just write when I can.  I write in the “now” so whatever day it is when I finally write again, I pick up from there.

Time to do today’s entry.

Organizing this corner of the web

30daysICONI know I should’ve done it sooner, but with another journal/blog prompt project coming up, I finally put up a 30 Days of Blogging Prompts page which is a subpage of Journal Prompts which you will find on the menu up in my navigation bar. 

I successfully completed the printed version but just now realized I did not get to post all the entries I meant to post online. I’ll try to do that in the next couple of days.

Meanwhile, I’m trying to complete my first 20 of an online swap off of a hundred ideas/prompts from swap-bot. That’s the swap requirement but I’m hoping to do more.

Why all these blog/journal prompts? It helps to make “spontaneous” even more spontaneous by “steering” me in a different direction from what I would normally take. It challenges me to go outside of my comfort zone and try something new. And it comes in handy when I’m in a creative rut. I can just pick up a prompt and move from there.

There’s only so much that one can write and squeeze out of one’s thoughts based on a day-to-day existence.  It helps me draw out something else beyond the feeling of the moment, whatever that may be.  Others do it through drawings, I do it through words..

So I might yet finally finish one of my Journals on  Journey soon, as I think I’ve come to a “size” that I’m comfortable with.  One of the most difficult things for me to decide when creating a journal from scratch — as in literally putting the book together — is deciding how big or how small or how compact or thick it will be.  I was at Barnes & Noble over the weekend and I was almost tempted to grab one of the smaller notebooks..  I stopped myself only when I get reminded I can actually make one of those. =)

Tonight I have to keep busy with something else, but at least I’m starting to get organized here.

A new journal project: JOURNAL ON A JOURNEY

I’m currently working on my One Sentence Journal for April, and I just realized that I had missed the sign up for the One Sentence Journal for May. (And to think I had such high hopes for doing this swap every month.)  So instead, I’m trying to find a private swap for May (for sending in June) and I’m already watching out for June (for sending in July).

Journal on a Journey: Composition NotebooksTwo swaps to go and I have to start thinking of the swaps I will sign up for next — IF I will sign up for any more.  I am working on launching a new journal project for which I am creating a page here on this blog.  I’m calling it JOURNAL ON A JOURNEY because the idea is to have a set of journals traveling around the world collecting journal entries from people from all walks of life.

I have enjoyed journal swaps immensely, whether they were a full journal with the 30 journal prompts that had me pouring out my heart and soul into those pages, or the Shared Journal Experiment where a group of people from Swap-bot.com circulate journals with prompts to a partner per round.  I’ve also created journals without any entries meant to be written on by my partner, in exchange for which I received a journal myself which is a real gem from kromo.

I guess you can also call it a journal experiment of sorts because I’m keeping my fingers crossed that all the journals somehow will make it back to me — and I wanted to see where my journals will end up in and what ends up in them.

As a result, I’m lying low on future swaps except for a very select few exchanges.  I want to see where this project goes.

I’m sending a journal (or two) to Manila as well to friends who I know will be excited to exchange these journals.   (The journal will be returned to a local address and my sister will send it back to me in New York)   Again, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that they eventually make their way back to me.

If your interest has been piqued at this point, please e-mail me at JournalOnAJourney@gmail.com with your mailing address.  I intend to start sending out these journals before May is out.  I just need a little time to create them and get them ready for sending.  It’s a free-form journal project, so don’t be afraid that it requires art journaling or craftwork — a simple journal entry that is hand-written or typed and pasted on the page is good, too.  At the same time, your journal entry may be a graphic or collage or picture that represents what you want to put in.  Each journal will have a set of very basic rules and suggestions with them which will stay true to the free-form intention of the project.

I’m pretty excited about this and hope that the people I write to request to join will be willing to help me out with this project.  I already have half a dozen friends in Manila I’m thinking of inviting to join me on this journey.  I hope they will all say yes.  Same goes for some swap friends I’ve made on Swap-bot.com.  I figure that even if only half the ladies I invite join, I’ll have a busy time circulating the journals around in the next couple of weeks.

Will you join my JOURNAL ON A JOURNEY project?  Send me that e-mail and sign up!

Wishful thinking to be great at something I’m not good at (30 days of blogging prompts 17)

I have to admit that this is one of the things I had a hard time arriving at an answer for, only because “great” got me stumped.  I wanted to think of something profound, and then it came to me clear as day after I had drafted around a half dozen posts for printing for this journal swap.

So what is the thing I most wished I were great at?  The key words for me here are “thing,” “wish,” and “great at”.

Drawing.  I may drift close to artistic, and crafty as a bee that I am, I so envy those who can draw faces and figures and grab a pencil and sketch as if they were drawing in a trance.  I wish.

I’m not killing myself over this though, because my lack of rendering skills has been more than compensated for by my skills in painting a picture with my words.  But one can dream…

My Top 3 Hobbies and why I love them (30 Days of blogging prompts 23)

According to Webster, a hobby is : a pursuit outside one’s regular occupation engaged in especially for relaxation.  So what are my pursuites outside of the regular day-to-day that I engage in as a form of relaxation?

1. Collecting postcards.  I have been collecting postcards since I was in my teens.  I had known of postcards since I was a young child, but I never really started collecting until I got a postcard from a friend in highschool who had moved to California in 1985.  Totally unconnected, I started with the International Young Service (IYS) which has now closed its doors.  The IYS was an international student penfriend service which matched young people from around the world for a minimal fee.  This was before the onslaught of the internet, when snailmail was the best way to reach someone overseas.

I signed up for some penfriends and my penfriends from Hong Kong (Clara Mok) and the Netherlands (Jolanda Spronck) sent me tons of postcards not only from their countries but from their travels in particular.

Over the years, my collection has grown and it even made it here to the US before I did.  A heavy shoebox full of them made it to New York after the traditional pamanhikan and I carried the rest when I moved here.  I collected postcards and swapped through organized groups after getting here, but after Angelo’s birth in 2004, my collection only grew when I purchased postcards during our travels.

I would buy postcards from places we visited, mail it back addressed to Angelo, chronicling our trip along the way.  I always travelled with address labels ready and stamps in hand.  That way, I only needed to look for a post office.  When the places we visited had an abundance of postcards, I would sometimes send back 20 postcards.  I regret that I didn’t do this for Manila until the last 3 or 4 of around 8 trips in the last 10 years.  But it’s something I do regularly now.  In fact that particular facet of my collection is over 200 postcards strong now.

I started collecting postcards because it gave me a window to worlds I thought I would never get to see.  So I collected from everywhere, hoping to have a taste of the different cultures.  When I started to grow my collection here in the US, I started focusing more on lighthouses and maps.  These two continue to be my primary collecting interests.  Then I started to find vintage Philippine and New York postcards.  Another additional item to collect.  And when I fell in love with Paris during my two trips there in 2005 and 2006, that became a collecting interest, too. 

2. Collecting Starbucks mugs.  This is a collecting interest that started when I moved here to New York in 2000.  My first Starbucks mug was a purchase on sale after Valentines 2001.  It wasn’t a city mug — but a valentine themed mug which I treasure to this day as the mug that started me collecting.

Starbucks Valentine ClearI haven’t purchased a mug in a while but I do get city and country mugs.  I’m covered as far as the Philippines is concerned except that I don’t have the latest Cebu (although my brother has already gotten one for me), and I think there is now a Tagaytay mug.  Friends who know I collect mugs have brought me some from the most unlikely places like Prague.  I’ve lost track of the collection because I have some that I have yet to wrap in plastic and put up on te space between the ceiling and my kitchen cupboard. 

To date, a conservative estimate of the collection puts it at 150.  Many of them are in the attic but that’s something I hope to take care of before the year ends.  I will re-wrap those that are still up on the kitchen space and then add everything.  I have a catalogue of some of the mugs on my flickr account.  I have had offers for some of the unique ones.  $200 for a holiday mug…!  Unfortunately I only had one of that mug, and even at that price, it wasn’t worth parting with.  It even made it all the more worth keeping.

I like collecting starbucks, not just any mug, because it has a certain quality to it — even if I’m not addicted to the coffee but I do like certain “flavors”.  (People who have shunned starbucks for the taste fail to see that they have different offerings.)  I don’t really want to get just any mug either because even the dollar store has hundreds to offer.  I’d run out of space and what would be the point in that?  Like my postcard collection, I enjoy seeing the collection grow, although I don’t go crazy buying from overseas just to add new ones.  Neither have I really traded mugs although that would be something I’d consider.  The cost is just too prohibitive, and I’ve had a special Osaka mug sent to me which arrived all broken up.  (My friend forgot that that priority mail box will be tossed around on its way here.) 

While not all my mugs are from my travels or the hubby’s trips, each mug has a “story” to tell, so they are always more than just mugs to me.

3. Jewelry making.  Some people will think that pulling pieces together is as easy as getting a string of gemstones or pearls and then working with them with wires or string.  My creative process is a little slower than that when I’m trying to figure out a piece.  Sometimes even when I’ve figured it out (like my promised necklace for Lou), it takes me time to call a piece good enough to send or sell.  Like most artists, I am my harshest critic.  “Good enough” is never good enough.  It should be better than that.

I find a certain fulfillment in completing a piece, wearing my own creations and when I get to sell one, there is a sense of reward not only monetarily, but compliment-wise.  I used to be shy telling people I made  a piece, but now I acknowledge the compliment with that admission coupled with some pride.  Not boasting, mind you, but when I’m walking outside and someone says something about the polymer clay necklace I’m wearing, I stop and smile and say thank you.

I like to be able to wear pieces I know I won’t spy elsewhere.  There are pieces I’ve seen sold by the department stores or my favorite clothing shops, but when I go to scrutinize them, I find the materials are all acrylic.  I like plastic when it is not pretending to be the real thing — like some acrylic beads I purchased dirt cheap at a clearance sale which makes no pretensions to being glass crystals or pearls.  But when I see a piece that shimmers but does not have sparkle of glass or crystal, I get turned off.  Maybe it’s just my crafter’s eye.  I hold the piece and jingle it in the palm of my hand and then I know if it’s glass or acrylic.

In a world where the way I dress is dictated by the business norm, my accessories are one thing where I can show some individuality without risking raising some eyebrows.  So I like wearing my polymer clay chain necklace which others have mistaken for a special kind of wooden carved chain.  (Mango wood?  No.. it’s polymer clay in copper).  My rose quartz cross pendant has received compliments but I am thinking the swarovski crystal version will do better.  (Although I haven’t worn the latter so I haven’t had the chance to “test” it.)

Work in progress: Cross pendant with Rose Quarz and Swarovski Crystals
Jewelry crafting is the hobby that affords me the chance to continue to learn new things.  It’s not just acquiring an object to call my own, but I like the way the hobby has pushed me to continue to research things and improve on my skills.  Sometimes I worry that my eyesight is going when I can no longer thread a needle as easily — but I charge that to age.  (Time to get the eyes measured and evaluated for glasses, I guess.)  Creating something from raw materials and seeing a finished piece and wearing that piece over and over again is reward enough.