Bella Ciao: What I Gave Up for Lent

I don’t remember doing something meaningful for Lent last year. Heck, I don’t remember a lot of things in the past anymore 😝, but I wanna make sure I make this year’s Lenten season count.

If you check out my last blog entry, you’ll see how I have been religiously breaking bad habits and developing new ones, which I’d like to believe I’d benefit from in the long run.

Part of what I want to achieve this year is to develop a closer and deeper relationship with God. Obviously, I wouldn’t be able to do that with all the distractions around me. So, I did little reflection and came up with a plan, and that is to shun my addictions completely (well during the Lenten season, at least 😝).

Now what might you ask is that huuuuge distraction and addiction that keeps me so near yet sooo far away from God? It’s actually no secret entirely that I am guilty AF 🤦🏻‍♀️🙋🏻‍♀️🙋🏻‍♀️🙋🏻‍♀️addicted…………… and forever will be to this virtual blackhole that is SOCIAL MEDIA, specifically, Instagram.

I cannot tell you how much of my daily phone fiddling comprises of purely Instagram scrolling, saving, liking and commenting. I don’t need any analytics company to tell me that the only time I spend away from my phone is when I am asleep or taking a bath, that is if I am not listening to a podcast or to my “dance in the shower playlist” – lol, I used to have one!

It’s probably safe to say that I spend merely 16 hours on my phone and maybe half of that is spent just for Instagram entirely. So, it wouldn’t take a genius to come up with a diagnosis that I am in fact, truly and beyond, heartbreakingly ADDICTED!

Now, I don’t want to use Lent only as an excuse for me to give this up. When I thought about it, I clearly would be giving up something that has become such a huge part of me, I don’t know if I can ever live without letting people know what song I’m listening to or what article struck me the most. To be fair, I also shared a lot about faith on my stories, but still, that wouldn’t be fair to Him.

Suddenly, I came to the realization that I might even be spending waaaayyy more time on this, rather than on reading the Bible or simply just talking to Him.

You see, I am not doing this merely for myself. I want to do it truly for Him. I guess it kinda defeats the purpose of Lent, if you still put yourself in the center of it all. For sure, you can do the NO-IG-FOR-40-DAYS challenge any time of the year and that is entirely up to you and should be beneficial for you. On he other hand, Lent should be a time of self reflection, prayer and sacrifice, and should benefit God.

Funny how I am just coming up with some of these realizations right now, as I type this. 🤔 The Holy Spirit must be hovering over me at the moment. ✌🏻🙏🏻

So anyway, I am almost a week into my Instagram hiatus. I bid my friends adieu a week ago 😅 and deleted the app on my phone (okay, I might have just logged out of my accounts—and forgot my passwords entirely lol JK!), so I wouldn’t need to deactivate them and have people ask me all the time the reason for doing so. Apparently, people are sooooo quick to judge and think that the only time people go on a social media break is when they’re heartbroken. 🙄🙄🙄 Geezzzz getting so tired of narrow-minded people who …okay, would probably also work on giving up ranting for Lent! It’s on my “Habit to Break” list after all! 😝

So far, I only unconsciously pressed on the Instagram icon on my phone about 3-4 times the whole week. Muscle memory, I guess; but on the past few days, I felt no urge anymore to share stuff online, which is little progress, but progress nonetheless! 😊😜

Can I get a what what???!

photo from meme generator

For now, I’ll only entertain withdrawals of writing (both long and short form, hello Twitter!), occasional bouts of 2am hopeless thoughts 😝, and of course, prayer time!

Wishing you, me and all of us well especially in these dark and hard times!

P.S. downloaded Medibang and made these marbleeeeeeeed messages for my last IG post prior to the big hiatus!

Life Lately / 12

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Gone were the days when I could write as often and as much as I can. At the moment, I am squeezing this teeny tiny time to write not because I have something spectacularly interesting to say, but only because my hands are itching to!

I used to always have all the time in the world to do whatever I want and I missed that since there is only so little that I could do with the free time I have off work (a.k.a. training). I couldn’t afford to slack nor to sleep longer than 4 hours, not even to go online  (yeah well not totally true), but just the same, I couldn’t do most of what a couch potato me has been doing for most of the time last year. I don’t even have the time to check my emails.

Today, all I want is time to relax, yet every time I think of getting a quick nap, I panic at the possibility that I could sleep through most of the day, therefore wasting time I should have spared for studying.

For this weekend, my goal is to completely memorize all 14 drugs in our division’s medication portfolio including their marketing communication and FAQ’s for our revalida on Wednesday.

I’m having doubts I can smoothly pass that test, but what the heck, I have something more to show them and I’m going to do what it takes to do that. Or not.

Lately, I’ve been having second thoughts, hearing mentors subtly and indirectly point out reasons why “I” cannot or should not go through with the training. I feel like I have made them lose their confidence in me and so they are somehow trying to discourage me by saying things such as “you have impressed no one with your awkwardness and dulling brain, therefore someone has been forced to take you instead of the other way around.” and “You have this weekend to think if this is the right job for you. You may back out if you don’t feel like being in this line of work and we won’t take it against you.” while looking directly at me.

Harsh. I know, but like what one of them also said, they might be actually doing me a favor.

I don’t think I can get those words out of my mind, nevertheless, I’m still determined to continue, (thanks to the encouraging words of my friend, Jan). I just want to believe in the fact that I am still here because God allowed for it to happen, this is where He led me to, where I should really be as I have prayed for ever so deeply; and so I trust that this is where He wants me to be.

I’m not happy with my performance as well, but with God’s grace, I hope I could do so much better especially on the final tests. I want this underdog to emerge a winner all for the glory of Him.

This is just one of the mountains I have yet to conquer. All for the glory of God!

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“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

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Creative Block and Renewal

The latter part of my 2016 was so jam-packed, I forgot what RELAX even means anymore.

Seriously though, it was so chaotic that I even missed putting up a review for our host in HK during the 14-day period Airbnb provides for their users, which bothers me terribly, but will probably just save that for a separate post.

So going back, when all the trips, adventures and all the holiday hoopla finally died down, I realized my body must have missed bumming around, writing, playing with watercolors, brushes, GIMP and all that shizz. That’s because for the last 5 days (January 1st not included), I have been doing nothing but catching up on some blogging and tenenenenen…

Designing!

Yeah, well, no biggie right? Well, it is for me!

You see, there were times when I silently panic because I thought I’m losing touch with meee artsy soul. It gets worse because sometimes I feel like I don’t want anything to do with art altogether. Could it be what they call the dreaded Creative Block? I’m not so sure about that, but fortunately, I realized soon enough that I could never ever get tired of ART.

ART is one of the things on earth that makes me feel alive. When God brought me to life, He must have breathed a multitude of rainbows, unicorns and stars into me, much like the sparkly stuff you vomit on Snapchat, except that it’s the other way around. On a serious note, we all grew up surrounded by our Father’s majestic creations and I with my papa’s work, his passion and creativity, so I blame it all on those why art definitely runs through my veins now, and why I know I could never ever get tired of it.

So after climbing mountains, doing touristy stuff in a foreign land, downing heaps of Christmas sweets and then washing tons of holiday dishes, not to mention partying with the girlfriends and then mourning for a grandfather 2 days after, my body must have snapped because my hand just involuntarily grabbed a brush and started creating art once again!

If that was indeed creative block that I went through, then I’m glad I snapped out of it, all thanks to the inspiration I found throughout my [mis]adventures!

I looked it up and found out that creative block can be resolved by a change in the environment or a break from the routine, facts that aren’t new to us, and techniques that are undeniably effective. Two of the tips designer and writer, Tom May listed were (see the entire list HERE):

  • Don’t be afraid to step away
    • Completely open briefs can be the worst for causing creative block. Try to distance yourself from the project; take a break and come back to it with a clear head.
  • Look in unlikely places
    • Go and do something else entirely. You’d be amazed at where new ideas are hiding out. They’re often where you would least expect them to be.

He also mentioned exploring other creative disciplines which is why it would be helpful to have a hobby outside of your hobby (LOL), in my case, Photography.

I may have babbled more than I have to, again so before this goes entirely out of hand, I leave you with some of the stuff I have been doing lately to release the already overflowing creative juices I gratefully gained in the past months or so.

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This was my favorite line from the latest Disney film, Moana, which reminded me so much of my own grandmother. I also made this for me to keep in mind that God is always with us. 🙂

Also made this odd-looking (and definitely one-of-a-kind) dreamcatcher for the bestie!

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I must say that my year ended with a bang and even though it was overwhelming, I couldn’t have wished for anything better because it reignited my love for ART in more ways than one. Now, I’m back, feeling renewed and more than inspired to CREATE again, to spread optimism and of course God’s love through ART.

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Inspiration & Creativity

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Where do you usually get your inspiration from?

If someone cornered you and suddenly put you on the spot today and asked you this, what would your answer be?

Would you say, from God? from the greatest people that ever lived? from your family? from those geniuses that brought forth innovation and changes to the world?

or perhaps from a song that touched your deepest core (it’s redundant, isn’t it?)? or maybe from a great work of art, a movie that leaves you on the edge of your seat, a moving speech, a blog article?

While all of those are true and would probably be my answers too to that jerk who would be responsible for my sudden death due to a ruptured aneurysm triggered by him popping out of nowhere and cornering me just to ask this question (ang wild ng imagination!), I would like to say that well, God is first and foremost where I get my inspiration from, because after all, everything I mentioned right after Him came from Him. But that’s a given.

Also a given is my family, friends, loved ones or those people who go out of their way to help other people by all means, including their jobs, their creative work, their passion etc.

But had you asked me today, well, right before I wrote this entry, to be specific, I would probably say from the writers on MEDIUM. If you don’t have an account on this site yet, I suggest you make one. It will change your life forever.

Well, I might have exaggerated that last statement more than I should have. Though, I still have to say, signing up on Medium has got to be one of those precious “end-of-life-as-I-know-it” moments of my existence (not an exaggeration).

It’s not much different from Buzzfeed or Thought Catalog, except that I learn loads from Medium in terms of real life lessons supported by studies and research and experience, more thought provoking insights which don’t just circle around break ups and moving on, and perhaps more inspiration to get you moving or to put into action whatever you just read because you know that apart from your emotions, your thoughts have also been fired up! In fact, they even have articles that share the top sites where you can sign up for free online courses, articles that give tips on how to write more effectively and even articles that suggest great apps for productivity!

One more thing I like about Medium is it made me want to read more and not just more, but more substantial articles, which in turn made me want to write more, hence this uber long blog post.

I’m not saying that the other similar sites don’t offer such articles and don’t have such creative geniuses, because a lot would probably disagree, but I really want to stress on the fact that I get way more of these from Medium. Anyway, before this turns into a promotional entry, which it isn’t, I’d like to share 2 articles I read today that really inspired me to:

  1. Go after what I really want, and
  2. Become more introspective and self-aware to delve into what sparks creativity right within ourselves/myself

I won’t go far in explaining what the articles are about (although by the looks of it, I think I already have). You can read them yourselves. The first one being, “Give Yourself Something to Pursue” by Thomas Oppong. Judging by the title itself, you can already assume that it is a motivational/inspirational article, and a good one at that. Oppong authored lots of similarly moving articles which is why I’ve subscribed to his Postanly newsletter and followed him on Medium. He’s one of the best writers I’ve discovered, and I’m glad I did because his works are hands downs, my absolute pick-me-ups especially in troublesome, inspiration-less days.

And did I say that there’s an option for you to highlight words, statements or even paragraphs that you feel like saving, to read for later or to go back to in the future? Because there is. I did highlight quite a lot on this article alone because dayuummm, like what I said on the comment section, I really think that everything is “highlightable”. It’s either that good, or I’m just too emotional.

The other article I was talking about earlier (which is one of the recommended articles at the end of Oppong’s) is Jory MacKay‘s “Is solitude the secret to unlocking our creativity?. It is quite a lot to take in, a lot of Pyschological stuff, which made it more interesting, if you’re into that.

It mainly discussed how the creative process works inside our brains and how creativity is produced/stimulated through certain periods of……ten-nen-ten-nen-nen…, you guessed it right and it wasn’t even given away in the title earlier,”SOLITUDE“!! It also pointed out a lot of supporting discoveries by creativity researchers (which I think is a really great job btw), one of which I really liked, Graham Wallas‘ take on the creativity process that involved 4 steps: Preparation, INCUBATION (period of solitude), Illumination (the Eureka moment, which wouldn’t be possible if there wasn’t an Incubation period), and Verification.

I also liked the fact that creative thinkers were concluded to be BOTH “more primitive and more cultured, more destructive and more constructive, occasionally crazier yet adamantly saner, than the average person”. Ang gulo diba? Those are a lot of extremes!

Creative thinkers/geniuses were also concluded to have “an openness to one’s inner life; a preference for ambiguity and complexity; an unusually high tolerance for disorder and disarray”. We have Frank X. Barron to thank for coming up with these conclusions.

I find it quite comforting to know that there is an explanation for my tolerance for disorder. You see, I’ve always believed that artists are messy, so I’ve often pictured their desks to be chaotic, but nonetheless still very conducive to creativity. This is one reason why I appreciated this article very much. I mean, just look at my workplace below:

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There there! I told you it’s a lot to take in, but isn’t it worth the read? Anyway, if you noticed, I emphasized INCUBATION above. If I got it right, it is the most crucial step in the creative process, hence the title of MacKay’s article.

Wallas said that this is when the you let the unconscious take over the creative process. You let go and let the brain be. Isn’t God the greatest for creating our brain in such a powerful way that it can work without you having to give it commands? So basically, this period of rest, solitude, letting go or whatever you may want to call it, is significant because as MacKay pointed out, “letting go of your consciousness lets the deeper parts of your mind come in and make connections.”

Therefore, it is important for us to practice controlling our unconscious mind because this is how our brains develop or formulate the world’s greatest ideas. This is how the brain builds up to that certain point where the imaginary bulb lights up in our brains, and makes you cry out, EUREEEEEKA!!!!

There you go! That was my reaction paper for one of the most thought-provoking and another for one of the most moving articles I’ve read. Rume-reaction paper talaga! Gutom lang to!

So Imma go have my lunch now and maybe practice meditating so I can set out into the world to pursue my dream! Boy, these articles sure make a big and deep impact on my crazy brain!

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30 Day Writing Challenge: DAY 4

Write about someone who inspires you

This is hard. I have quite a lot of people in mind who inspire me. First, there’s God. I don’t want to sound like I’m religious or that I have a perfect relationship with this GUY because I don’t; but He’s always the one who I think picks me up whenever I fall down and He doesn’t have to be with me physically here on earth for me to realize that. When I read the Bible, and the Didache that a friend gave me for Christmas, I feel like He’s always around, trying to reach out even when I know I’m being hypocritical, turning my back on Him at times. When I’m at church, I feel moved by His words through the priests’ homilies every time, and I feel that that’s His way of inspiring someone like me to be a much better person even if it’s so hard to. His words pierce through me mainly because I am guilty of doing wrong especially when there’s someone like Him out there, always ready to forgive and to give a sinner like me, infinite chances. It’s inspiring to have a God that doesn’t judge, that forgives and that believes in you no matter what.

Then there’s my Papa and Mama. I feel inspired seeing them do everything they can just to make our lives so much easier. I can see how almost everything they’ve been working hard for, they’re not doing for themselves, but for us and the people around them. They’re so selfless and generous, they don’t even expect anything in return. They give what they can and they do it through the goodness of their hearts. They’re not saints, but they have the most beautiful hearts. Also, seeing them together on their 26th year as a married couple makes me want to be a part of a relationship like that, and I’d like to believe so.

This brings me to my next inspiration, my boyfriend. He knows this, but I still want to say how much he inspires me to become a better me, to work even harder for us both, to sacrifice and wait til everything falls into place. The fact that he makes me happy and he loves me so much makes me fall in love with him all over again and this time, harder than I’ve been before.

Last of all, there’s my whole family. Seeing my them reunite and just spend time together in the simplest way possible makes my heart melt. We can be having lunch together or panicking when lola’s having one of her dyspneic moments, it doesn’t matter, as long as we know we’re all together and we have each other to lean on to. It just feels good that there will be people you can always come home to, talk to, have fun with and make fun of, all without reservation and they’d still take you in without hesitation.

There are people I look up to, those that inspire me to be more creative or do things I would only want to do just because we only live once, but then, there are these people/Him who inspire me to be good and to be content and happy for who or what I am even if the whole world would conspire against me.