“Without the doing, dreaming is useless”

 

I came across this video two days ago yet it in my mind, it still lingers.

What an engaging presentation by artist Rilla Alexander. She spoke with passion and in a very engaging manner. Furthermore, the visuals she used were fascinating. But the thing that drew me the most was her message.

She spoke gospel truth to me.

Her talk reminded me of all those times when I failed to translate ideas to action, of dreams that stayed dreams because I never took the first step in making them a reality. Sometimes, I do manage to take a shot at something but end up prioritizing another. Distractions abound and excuses are aplenty. And so the dream slinks deeper and deeper into the backseat until it becomes a loving memory, if not a faint wisp.

Then there is also this debilitating affliction called “self-doubt”. Rilla was right in describing it as ‘crippling’. Self-doubt shatters our ability to move forward via the extreme weight of our insecurities. But as Rilla also stressed, the key is to never give up and to keep on believing in one’s self.

“But I don’t give up.  I don’t abandon this one, I don’t cripple it with self-doubt.  I just keep working.  I work so hard that I’m prepared to defend it.  But I still do listen to the feedback that other people give me, and I make changes depending on the critique.  Actually sharing is part of the process, and I don’t even need to get feedback from people, because it’s how I feel.  If I know that I’m not 100% proud, it means that there’s something I can still fix.”

I will have a book published in time. And who knows, if I worked hard enough, perhaps the Rilla Alexander would even illustrate it. All in due time.

I am not a graphic design student but…

Take things away until you cry. Accept most things, and reject most of your initial ideas. Print it out, chop it up, put it back together. When you’re aimlessly pushing things around on a computer screen, print it out and push it around in real space. Change contexts when you’re stuck. Draw wrong-handed and upside down and backwards. Find a good seat outside.

– from What Advice Would You Give a Graphic Design Student by Frank Chimero

“No one crumples a blank sheet of paper”

Or so said my newfound hero Frank Chimero.

In this day and age, a blank sheet of paper is akin to a blank screen. I have “crumpled” a lot of blank screens in the past weeks. Needless to say, my productivity level as far as this blog is concerned has gone haywire. I would click on “Add New” and then I would either be distracted with something else and/or be attacked by an extreme case of procrastination. Often times, I would thread ideas in my head, patching up a thought to another but when it’s finally time to lay them down, the seams unravel and I am left with scrap.

And speaking of time, lately I’ve been getting more and more awed at how…malleable it is. Not actually sure if that’s the proper word. What I’m aiming at is how time can both fly so swiftly and crawl so slowly. John Green is right. Time is a slut. Now if only I can get her to stop screwing me too.

Each minute is getting more unforgiving and it has become even more difficult to fill it up with sixty seconds’ worth of distance run.

Ting ting ting. Warning bells!

I’m starting to stress myself again.

Must think happy thoughts.

A side project I’ve started turned 11 months two days ago. In a few weeks, its first anniversary will be marked by a big event. So far, everything is falling into place. I’m proud of what it has become and much prouder of the people I’ve met because of it.

My baby niece can stand without much assistance now. I watched a concert DVD with her the other day and she was so engrossed with it. I’m already looking forward to the day I take her to lives.

Another day has ended without much fanfare. Some to-do list items remained untouched. Still, I am happy.

I have no blank screen to crumple.

On dealing with trolls

Mathemusician Vi Hart dishes advice on how to deal with negative comments. While her presentation is geared towards YouTubers, much of her recommendations can be taken to heart by creators like you and me.

I especially like this line: “I have no power over you that you don’t give me, and you have no power over me that I don’t give you”. It reminds me of a phrase I’ve heard in grade school but has continued to guide me up to now: “he who angers you conquers you.”

For a recovering stress-o-holic like me, this is really something that should be kept in mind.

SOURCE: Brain Pickings

2013 Challenge: My negative aspect that I want to change

I write this not only to fulfill the challenge but also as a reminder for myself. I know for a fact that even though I say I have learned my lesson already, sooner or later I would regress. Should that moment comes, I will go back to this post to remind myself that I am stronger, that no matter how hopeless the situation may be, there is ALWAYS a way out and it is up to me whether to take it or not.

So what is this negative aspect that I want to change” Not even sure if it would qualify as an “aspect” but if there is one thing that I really want to get out of my system or at least improve on is how I deal with stress. Alright, make that super stress. The small fry I can handle, as for the major ones…well, let’s just say I revel in them. And there’s the rub exactly.

First off, some context. I had been in a very stressful job for 5 years. And when I say stressful I mean endless overtimes, working on weekends and dealing with all kinds of shit all the time. I experienced working for 40+ hours with hardly any sleep and staying in the office for 4 days straight more than once. When beloved peace icon Cory Aquino took her last breath in the wee hours of the morning, I was in the office finishing a report. During her funeral procession that gathered thousands in the street for hours, I was also in the street, although mostly trying desperately to get home because I have a presentation the next day and it had been days since I last took a proper shower. I arrived home shortly before midnight. By 3AM, I was back at my desk in the office with my nose buried yet again at my tasks. This went on and on. Whenever people asked me to take a break, I told them I’m fine and really meant it. Sure, there are times when I complain but in overall, I was having a ball. There’s nothing like the thrill of accomplishment and the adrenalin brought about by crossing out yet another item in an infinite to-do list.

But then as years passed, my enthusiasm began to wane. Suddenly it was hard for me to say that I’m fine. I did not know if it’s just physical exhaustion finally catching up with me but I began questioning why I was subjecting myself to all of these hardships. Sometimes I would find myself just staring at my beloved computer and wishing I was somewhere else. I pined for the time when I still had a life outside of my cubicle. And so I found myself trapped in a deep dark hole. Waking up was extra hard and coming to the office was starting to lose its charm. I tried to shake it off by pushing myself even harder. But the harder I pushed, the tighter the darkness embraced me. I became a wreck. I drove people away. I got caught in one of the most tragic things that could ever happen to anyone: loathing what was once beloved.

That experience brings me now to this list – an enumeration of life’s lessons that I have learned the hard way. May you find comfort in it too.

HOW TO DEAL WITH STRESS WITH YOUR HEAD STILL INTACT:

1. Love what you do but don’t get into a relationship with it. 

My tragedy was that I became too enamored with work to the point that it superseded every other aspect of my life. Working had literally become my life. All the rest had to be patterned against it. And considering all the bullshit I had to go through, I knew no other way of living but dealing with stress every single minute of the day. In time, I became comfortable it. That began my downfall. Pushing myself harder and harder became an addiction.

There were times when I could have gotten out of the office earlier, moments when I could have set out this task for another day but I chose not to. I wasn’t in a hurry to get home because I was already home. My cubicle became my sanctuary. In it I was invincible.

But my strong facade eventually crumbled. I thought of all the times I took a rain check instead of meeting with friends, of those moments with family in which I was only physically present because in my mind I was worrying about my deadline. I thought burying myself into even more work would shake off the negative feeling. But work was a demanding bitch who gave so little in return. I got lonelier. My keyboard never felt so cold.

So now, I pledge to continue giving my best in what I do but leaving room for me to pursue other interests. I will love my work still but I will love myself even more.

2.  Acknowledge that you have an issue. Just don’t dwell on it.

I was physically, emotionally and mentally exhausted but still sane enough to notice the signs. I was close to burning out. What aggravated the situation further was that I chose dug myself deeper into the dark hole.

Whenever a very stressful situation came up, I became even more negative. Indeed, why bother to search for the silver lining when the dark cloud was just looming in front of me?

There were times when I would be edgy and a war freak. Other times, I would be such a Debbie Downer. Whenever I was on this mode, I often found myself wanting to do something self-destructive. As if being a stress-a-holic wasn’t self-destructive enough. Either way, it was unhealthy and of no help at all. I turned people away and I ended up feeling more alone.

I’ve since learned that in times of negativity, the more I should crawl myself towards things that could make me happy or would make a positive difference not only to me but to others as well.   This leads me now to the next lesson..

3. Stop complaining. It’s self-indulgent and not to mention annoying.

In retrospect, I’ve come to a better understanding of the fine line between trying to come to terms with what one is going through and launching your very own pity party.

I realized that I could have saved myself a lot of time and frustration if only I skipped all the pseudo-rationalizing I did back then. Instead of finding ways to get myself out of the rut, I opted to hating myself and worrying about a ton of things that were not really crucial.

And then there were the negative posts on social media. I’d tweet about how messed up my life had become and how I’m barely hanging by a thread to my sanity. And when someone would inquire how I am faring and if I need a shoulder to lean on, I would just shoo them all away because fuck you world, I was an emotional wreck so I have all the right to be moody and unpredictable. Sometimes, I would just let it all out, even when the other person did not even ask for it. I literally shudder every time I remember how I poured all my frustrations to anyone who would listen back then.

But by being a gloomy ball of negativity, not only was I dragging myself further down, I was also lassoing all those around me into despair. I had no right to do that to them. Also, if only I channeled all that energy into getting the job done, I could have gotten myself more time for sleeping and other more enjoyable activities. Delving into the hole analogy further, contemplating on how dark the hole was won’t really get me out of it. I could curse at the darkness all I want but until I get the courage to light a candle, I won’t be going anywhere.

4. Just because you are not close to passing out doesn’t mean you are not giving your best. 

I know that I am good at what I do. There was even a time when I was considered the very best. I just need to accept that I don’t have to kill myself in order to live up to expectations, even if they are my own. I am much better than that.

I’ve also learned to listen to my body more. There will always be a time when I need to go the extra mile but not to the extent that my health would suffer. I’ve known how it was to work despite being sick. So now whenever I have a junior that is not feeling well, I tell them to rest. And if they refuse, I flat out say to them that I have better use of them when they’re healthy.

And sleep is not just for the weak. It is also for those wise enough to know that resting would give them more time to do so much more while being in optimum condition.

5. Lastly, the best way to conquer stress is by helping others beat theirs

Or just by helping out others. Period.

I’ve done this a number of times and I always get the same results. Not only do I get the pleasure of being actually able to do good, I am also empowered to consider myself within the grand scheme of things. Even by just listening to the concerns of others, I’ve come to understand how petty my issues actually are. It’s also a good reminder that it’s not just all about me.

So those are my lessons learned. I would have closed this more dramatically but my body is telling me now that I should get to sleep. Therefore I end with this…

GOOD NIGHT!

The walk of shame

As mentioned it my previous post, I took a liking to taking long walks and since the surrounding area of my brother’s apartment building is very much conducive for such an activity, I take advantage of it every morning I can. Today was no exception. Brisk walked for only an hour but it was already enough for me to witness the changing hues of Singapore’s sky.

photo 3There were numerous others too who started their day by doing some form of exercise. What struck me the most are the senior citizens who I encounter jogging every time. Some of them must be in their seventies already but they look as if they can outrun me any moment. Even more admirable were the groups of grannies and granddaddies who do aerobics at Harmony Hub, a sort of activity area nearby. And last week, I spied an old lady doing some sort of sword dance. I really wished I could have taken a stolen shot but I was wary of that sword heading by my direction. Anyway, I really can’t help but feel embarrassed when they pass me looking tired and harassed while they’re in the pink of health with nary any sweat.

I remember that time too when I was bushwalking in the Blue Mountains. The finale was climbing The Giant Stairway which leads to the famous Three Sisters rock formation. I wasn’t even at the quarter of the 800 steps needed to ascend to the top yet my heart already felt as if it’s going to burst out of my chest and there was literally pounding in my ears. Just as I was to give up, two children between the ages of 7 to 10 ran past me. Yes, kids left me biting the dust. I was embolden by them though so eventually, I reached the top albeit looking like a hag.

Needless to say, I should definitely get into exercising really soon. Heck I should have done it years ago. I don’t want to end up in the future being the proverbial old lady who just spend her time knitting while being surrounded by her army of cats. Not that there’s anything wrong with that but it’s not just me. When I become a septuagenarian, I still want to be out there punching life in the face… with my army of pandas.

Music to calm the soul and clear the head….

….while the eyes bulge out at the spectacle of awesomeness.

Yep, I’m still having this little debate in my head as to what to do with my life next. It’s hard to place bets when it’s the future that is at stake.

Anyway, this awesome find at the Fox is Black is a very, very nice distraction! It’s the PV for Shugo Tokumaru’s song “Katachi” (which translates to “shapes” in English) directed by Poland-based creative duo Kijek/Adamski. This video is truly a work of art! As per the Fox is Black article, it was made via stop motion animation utilizing around 2,000 silhouettes extracted from PVC plates.

The song is equally stunning as well. To be honest, I’ve never heard of Shugo Tokumaru before but I’m digging the trippy and whimsical melody of “Katachi”. It’s the perfect song to listen to while taking a joyride… or pondering over a major move.