Living One Day At A Time

There are days wherein I struggle to live my life presently. There were certain parts of the day wherein an embarassing memory from the past suddenly flashes into my mind and I would literally just stop whatever I was doing. Oftentimes, I would think about the future– my goals, plans, and everything– and I would be filled up with doubts and I’ll again stop whatever I was doing.

A few weeks ago, I came across a quote while reading the book Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon, the quote was stated by Richmond Walker, it says, “Any man can fight the battles of just one day. It is only when you and I add the burden of those two awful eternities, yesterday and tomorrow, that we break down. It is not the experience of today that drives men mad. It is remorse or bitterness for something which happened yesterday or the dread of what tomorrow may bring. Let us therefore do our best to live but one day at a time.”

I had read this quotes a couple of times because I want to absorb it. I want to ingrain it into my memory so whenever I would have flashes from the past or worries of the future, I would recognize my thoughts. I would be able to caught myself and talked myself out of it.

Just recently, I had another moment and I would really be embarrased just thinking about it. But identifying your behaviour works. Acknowledging that it already happened plus, with the thought, ‘I will be dead soon anyway, so why do I have to worry about unnecessary things?’

We never really know what will happen tomorrow. Hence, let’s do our best but to live one day at a time. As Laurie Anderson said, “None of us know what will happen. Don’t spend time worrying about it. Make the most beautiful thing you can. Try to do that everyday. That’s it.”

Is It Bad To Be ‘Jack of All Trades’?

This post is originally posted last June 2019 from my previous domain.

When I was a kid, I kept hearing the phrase, ‘jack of all trades master of none’, which means a person has a lot of skills yet has no mastery on any of it. As soon as I knew the meaning of that phrase, I immediately told myself that, “I cannot be jack of all trades.” Because grownups around me keep telling me to not be. Without even knowing why can’t I?

Until recently, I came by the book entitled The Leading Brain: Powerful Science-based Strategies for Achieving Peak Performance by Friederike Fabritius, MS, and Hans W. Hagemann, PhD.

In Chapter 6: Foster Learning, scientists conducted a study to exhibit the brain’s remarkable capacity for change. The participants are bus drivers and taxi drivers in London. The drivers of both vehicles had their brains scanned. Two years later, scientists were suprised by what they found out.

With each cabdriver, the posterior hippocampus, a region associated with spatial learning, had increased in size, while the bus drivers showed no similar change. – Friederike Fabritius and Hans W. Hagemann.

In other words, a positive change in the brain of the cabdrivers has occured due to their constant route change. On the other hand, scientists concluded that because they travel the same roads every day, bus drivers’ brain remained the same. The change that happened in the taxi drivers brain is called neuroplasticity.

Neuroplasticity can physically change the structure of your brain, increasing the size of particular regions and the speed with which those regions communicate with each other – Friederike Fabritius and Hans W. Hagemann.

The cognitive region of the brain is called gray matter. Basically, it handles all our thinking, memory, etc. It’s the computer of the brain. While white matter makes the connections between regions.

People who acquire a variety of new skills—everything from juggling to meditating to ballroom dancing—show an increase in white matter as they become steadily more proficient. In other words, the ease and speed with which the brain’s key regions communicate gets better and better.

This is the reason why taxi drivers’ white matter increased in size. The brain is getting expanded as it takes up new information.

As University of Hamburg’s Arne May, told New Scientist, “It suggests that learning a skill is more important than exercising what you are good at already—the brain wants to be puzzled and learn something new.”

Going back, it seems that being ‘jack of all trades’ is good for the brain. You can learn how to play piano even if you don’t want to be a musician or be Mozart-like good. You can learn it because you wanted to hear beautiful melodies whenever you are tired. You can try to learn the things that you are interested in without even having a big reason like to “save the world”. It can just be as simple as, “I want to learn this.”

Maybe by trying out things outside your forte, you may discover ideas that could be fuse in the things that you already know. You never know which ideas would have a great impact if you dont put them into practice.

Lastly, I researched that the phrase ‘jack of all trades, master of none’ is an incomplete one. The complete version of it is: Jack of all trades, master of none is better than master of one.

This post is originally posted last June 2019 on my previous domain.

How Our Brain Works When We Are Confronted With Challenges

In the book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, author Carol Dweck shared that students who were given awareness of how the brain works performed better academically and in other areas of their lives.

Carol Dweck and her team conduct mindset workshops on how the brain works and one of the things they say in those workshops is this passage:

“Many people think of the brain as a mystery. They don’t know how much about intelligence and how it works. When they do think about what intelligence is, many people believe that a person is born either smart, average, or dumb- and that stays that way for life. But new research shows that the brain is more like a muscle- it changes and gets stronger when you use it. And scientists have been able to show just how the brain grows and gets stronger when you learn.

When you learn new things, these tiny connections in the brain actually multiply and get stronger. The more that you challenge your mind to learn, the more your brain cells grow. Then, things that you once found very hard or even impossible- like speaking a foreign language or doing algebra- seem to become easy. The result is a stronger, smarter brain.” -from the book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck

Lastly, author Carol Dweck wrote questions in the book that we can ask ourselves to get started on learning something new:

  1. What are the opportunities for learning and growth today? For myself? For the people around me?
  2. When, where, and how will I embark on my plan?
  3. When, where, and how will I act out on my new plan?
  4. What do I have to do to maintain and continue the growth?

For more research studies related to our brains and psychology in general, I recommend Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, The Leading Brain: Powerful Science-based Strategies for Achieving Peak Performance by  Friederike Fabritius and Hans W. Hagemann, and Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth.

 

 

Thoughts on Reading a Biography About Dr. Seuss

Reading a biography of Tom Geisel aka Dr. Seuss gave me answers on how did he create all these well-loved books. have yet to read one but I have watched the Lorax and that is enough for me to know that he is an amazing writer.

The Boy on Fairfield Street by Kathleen Krull
The Boy on Fairfield Street by Kathleen Krull. Source: Goodreads

During his school days, he spent most of his time doodling and skipping class to watch movies. He also read books and comic strips from his father’s daily newspapers. As Jim Jarmusch said, “Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light, and shadow. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, you work (and theft) will be authentic.” The reason Dr. Seuss had tons of ideas for his works and is amazing in drawing and storytelling is that he absorbed the works of other people. He read a lot. He drew a lot. He watched a lot. It was also mentioned in the book that he often went to the zoo near his home and watched parades that occur in their area. In short, Dr. Seuss found education outside of the school.

One thing that I learned from the book, Steal Like An Artist, and what I had read on how Dr. Seuss spent his time is that to have lots of ideas, you should expose yourself to other people’s work that involves watching movies and documentaries, reading, observing, and traveling. And that is what Dr. Seuss did. Instead of listening to things that he doesn’t interest him, he followed his passions and that led him to skip classes (I’m not promoting skipping classes but I do skip my classes as well during my first year to do volunteer works. Honestly, I have learned so much more during that time than being in uni.).

Moving on, his actions such as skipping classes gave his classmates the idea to vote him as the “person least likely to succeed” among their class. Well, that did not happen because no one knows what will happen in the future. Dr. Seuss did not let it get to him. We are the only ones who can create our future. Other people’s judgments are useless.

Reading a biography about Dr. Seuss made me excited to read his books. While reading his work, I will keep thinking that, ‘This work is a mashup of every work that he has seen and he has made in his life. It will be good.” I am grateful that I got to know him (even though his books are intended for children). I know that his books will influence my works later on.

We Can Draw in 30 Days!

Last May 2020, I learned how to draw (again) with the help of Mark Kistler through his book, You Can Draw in 30 Days.

 

I was looking for resources about drawing and I discovered this gem. The book is composed of 30 lessons and each lesson can be completed in less than 30 minutes per day. If you do not have 30 minutes to spare then 15 minutes will do. I completed most of my lessons in less than 15 minutes (promise!). Turn your everyday into a seed.

“If you work on something a little bit everyday, you end up with something that is massive.” – Kenneth Goldsmith


The lessons are extremely beginner-friendly. Do not worry so much on being the best in the beginning. The main goal of the book is to have everyone overcome their fear of a blank page and a paper.

It’s hard to be “best” right away, so commit to rapid and continuous movements. – from the book, Creative Confidence by Tom Kelley and David Kelley

Here are some of my drawings in chronological order. Take a look at my progress 😭.

Lesson 1 – 4/29/20


Mark Kistler’s method is having his students draw simple shapes first like this circle. It doesn’t have to perfect. Just do it.

Lesson 2 and 3


Spheres everywhere. Noticed how my shading got better than the first lesson? And how my circle got better as well.


“The more you draw, the more you will really begin to see the fascinating details in the real world around you.” – Mark Kistler

 

Lesson 5 – 5/1/20


Starting Lesson 5, I began to write my thoughts beside my drawings.

Lesson 8 – 5/4/20


One of my favorite lessons! I grew up as someone who thinks that ‘drawing is just not for me’. Hence, being able to draw a koala is a massive achievement for me. I can’t believe that I got to draw an animal omg.


“Albert Bandura used the process of guided mastery— a series of small successes— to help people gain courage and overcome deep-seated phobias.” – from the book, Creative Confidence by Tom Kelley and David Kelley

 

Lesson 14 – 5/12/20


This lesson taught me how it is so easy to draw a flower. I will never look at a flower the same way again.

Lesson 15 – 5/12/20


I had so much fun doing this lol. As you can see, the lines aren’t perfect but that’s not the point. The point is to practice and having fun while doing it.

Lesson 16 – 5/12/20


When I was a kid, I always wonder how animators can draw this. Back then, I was wondering. Now, I am doing it!!

Lesson 18 – 5/14/20


Yay! #scrapbookideas

The quote written on the scroll is from the book, Man’s Search For Meaning by Victor Frankl, “He who knows the why for his existence can bear almost any how.”

Lesson 20 & 21

This drawings prove to me that I am indeed improving.

And Lesson 30 is the best lesson for me. Lesson 30 is how to draw a human hand. And why is it the best lesson for me?

A little background, last July 2019, as when I was just starting to (really) learn how to draw as an architecture student. Our professor asked us to draw our hand. Here is what I drew:


And now, this is the hand that I drew last May 18, 2020.


Woah. The progress that I made in less than 30 days. Also, in the book, there are drawings of other students as well, that will make you feel that you are not alone in this journey.

And I continued to draw more.


Mark Kistler has another book for those who want to draw more! It’s called: You Can Draw It In Just 30 Minutes.

Never be afraid to try something new. We never know what will happen in the future so let’s do the best thing that we can in the 24 hours that was given to us.

Lastly, I am grateful to Mr. Mark Kistler for his books. You truly had helped lots and lots of people. What I was given, I will share.

IMPOSSIBLE LIST

The Impossible List is similar to a bucket list. But instead of just ticking off something after you’ve accomplished it, you are encouraged to go further. For example, you wrote ‘Study Korean for a month’. Once you have accomplished it, you are recommended to go beyond your previous goal like, ‘Study Korean for 3 Months’ or ‘Translate a clip from a Kdrama’.

I want to publish this in public so I could have some accountability and encourage others to do so! I will continue to iterate this list and add more daring and bolder activities as I go farther in this journey. Moreover, it’s thrilling to just think how this list will improve in the following years.

photo-1496449903678-68ddcb189a24
YAS DO IT! Source: Unsplash | Austin Chan

I am grateful to UnjadedJade for sharing this and sharing her impossible list as well.

Professional/Creative Goals

Create a website (you are looking at it right now- Completed June 2019)
● Publish 100 blog posts
Start an account on Behance (Completed May 2020)
● Publish 50 works
● Get 50k views
Create a Youtube channel for crafting and crocheting.
Create a website for curated design content. (Completed July 2020)
● Publish 100 blog posts
Publish a short story. (September 2020)
Intern for a design company.
Interview various design professionals for an article.
Get my essay/article featured in a magazine/newspaper.
Start a business.
Publish a non-fiction book.

Skill Goals

Enter Taiwan International Student Design Contest
Learn Korean for a month (Completed June 2020)
● Translate a song
● Translate a Running Man clip
● Translate a whole Running Man episode
Complete a TESDA Course on
● Mechatronics
● Instrumation
● Web Development
● Technical Drafting
● Electronics
Learn Basic HTML (Completed December 2019)
●Learn CSS
Teach a group of people how to draw.
Learn to do pottery.
Learn how to surf.
Donate handmade crafts to other people. (Completed June 2020)
● Donate 100 hand-crafted notebooks out of used paper

Health/Fitness Goals

Practice Intermittent Fasting for 3 Months
Run 5k
Subscribe to a gym membership.
Go hiking.

Travel Goals

Visit Fuji Kindergarten in Japan.
Live abroad for 3 months or more.
Live in any island in the Philippines except Luzon for a month.
Visit all the provinces of the Philippines.
Visit the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Complex.
Visit Halden Prison in Norway.

Life Goals

Volunteer for different causes (continuous)
Work for/ Run a charity.

Create Something Right Now

Last night, I saw a couple of colored pencil artworks while browsing the internet. I stopped and thought, ‘I have not colored for months now.’

Ever since quarantine started, I kept creating monochromatic drawings. But, I thought that I don’t possess any colored pencils so I might not create any at all.

That’s when I immediately recognized my thoughts– I am teaching myself that I can only create an artwork when I have “this” or “that”. I remembered what David and Tom Kelley wrote in their book, Creative Confidence, “All the overplanning, all the procrastinating, all the talking are signs that we are afraid, that we just don’t feel ready. You want everything to be “just right” before you commit further or share something with others. That tendency leads us to wait rather than act.”

If I waited to have colored pencils before I draw and color, then I would have this belief that ‘good art depends on the material used’. I may not have colored pencils now, yet I have other coloring materials that I bought for a cheap price but objectively, it is still a coloring material; so I can use them to create art. Moreover, the time that I will waste in waiting, will now be a seed for the future.

I did this using a watercolor. Yay.

 

I enjoyed making the first one but was not satisfied with the result, so I did another. The difference is, I used oil pastels for this.


While I was doing the second picture, what Mr. Rogers said came to my mind and made me smile. He said, “Do you like to draw with crayons? I’m not very good at it. But it doesn’t matter. It’s the fun of doing it that’s important. Now, I wouldn’t have made this if I just thought about it. No matter how anybody says it is, it feels good to have made something. The best thing is that each person’s would be different. In a way, you’ve already won in this world because you’re the only one who can be you. And that’s the way it’s supposed to be.”

I feel at ease knowing that I was able to create something for today. “Every time we make a thing, it’s a tiny triumph.”— found this in one of Austin Kleon‘s blog post.

Likhaan Workshop: Paglalala ng Sombrerong Buntal

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Likhaan Workshop: Paglalala ng Baliuag Buntal Hats. Source: Baliwag Buntal Enterprises Facebook page

Last September 2019, I had the privilege of meeting Tita Rosie Bautista, the owner of Baliuag Buntal Enterprises. Through a workshop held at Likhaan, center for the traditional arts and culture of the Philippines, I experienced firsthand how to create or lala a baliuag buntal hat.

A quote that is popular to Filipinos, “Habang buhay, may pag-asa. (As long as you are alive, there is hope.)” is the opposite of what Tita Rosie shared to us, “Kapag may pag-asa, may buhay. (When there is hope, there is life.)” 

When she shared her journey to us, I realized that the quote is her. The quote represented her journey.

Tita Rosie took over the Baliuag Buntal Hats Enterprise despite “not being good at numbers”. Years later, she joined a contest and won one hundred thousand pesos as a cash prize which she used to fund the materials that will be used by the inmates in Bulacan. She helped the inmates to earn and gain a new skill. The inmates were trained for a a few days on how to lala a buntal hat and started to create hats which earned them 500 pesos for each hat made. The program for the inmates ended after four years “with no reasons why”.

One thing that Tita Rosie emphasized is that the market for Buntal Hats is huge. The only problem that she has is the lack of workforce, especially young people on the workforce. She hopes that young people would be interested in creating Buntal Hals. Moreover, a lot of undergraduate students from University of the Philippines and University of Santo Tomas visit her in Bulacan for their theses. She mentioned that there were several times when she took leave of absences from work because students from Manila are coming over to see her. Tita Rosie firmly believes that she had to give time to the youth, “Dahil ang mga kabataan ay ang mga pag-asa ng bayan. (Because the youth are the hope of the country.)” She said.

She expressed her gratefulness towards Intramuros Administration and Likhaan for organizing the workshop and to us, for taking the time to come and learn. The workshop became an opportunity for all of us to recognize and discover Buntal Hats and experience making one.

Also, I am grateful to Intramuros Administration and Likhaan for organizing workshops that showcases the Philippine Arts and Crafts Industry. Everyone was so happy to learn something new and to learn about this craft that possesses the intricate skill of Filipinos. Everyone was proactive in learning and asking questions. For that moment with a sea of strangers, I felt that we became a community.

Currently, the Intramuros Administration offers live webinars about Philippine culture and history.

Notebooks #9-#28 Made Out of Used Papers

I am giving away these notebooks for free! If anyone is interested, please contact me on my email: hernandezanaclaire@gmail.com. Thank you!

20 notebooks!!!

What started as a project to make something of the used papers scattered around our home ended with the thought of giving something to others.

I made notebooks last year using kettle stitch binding and Japanese bookbinding. For these notebooks, I used Coptic stitch variation to book bind the papers.


PROBLEMS I ENCOUNTERED IN NOTEBOOKS

“In my opinion, the most ordinary things, the most common and familiar, if we could see them in their true light, would turn out to be the grandest miracles…. and the most marvelous examples.” – Michael de Montaigne

I used the problems that I encountered in notebooks as a basis to the final products that I will be creating.

  • The ink of the ball pen seeps through the back part of the paper.

Personally, I think that the masses deserve better things that they can use. Notebooks that are sold publicly for 8-10 pesos have really thin paper thus, whenever they are writing, what they write imprints at the back as well as on the next page. I solved this problem by folding the used papers in half. The used papers are in size A4; folding it in half turns it into a school notebook size. With it being folded, the paper to write on is thicker and will not seep in. I learned this from Project Nowtbuks. They gave free notebooks out of used papers to every participant during the YSEALI IgniteMNL: Leaders’ Track 2019.

Used A4 Pages folded in half

  • The notebook doesn’t fall flat on the desk and it cannot be folded while writing on the left side and right side.

In my past projects, I mostly used japanese bookbinding and in the notebooks that I bought, they are bounded by a single string/ rope at the left side of the paper. What these notebooks have in common is that they cannot be fully folded when you are writing on the right or left side. At the same time, those notebooks don’t lay flat on the desk. After several trials (Notebooks #1-#8), I found Coptic sewing variation bookbinding technique that allows the succeeding notebooks to solve these problems.

  • Obstructions in the middle.

A common problem experienced by both left-handed and right-handed people. Some notebooks lie flat on the desk and can be folded in half with the help of a spring. But while it solves a problem, the spring itself became the problem. It became an inconvenience to users as it blocks the hand to be in ‘free flow’ while writing or drawing.

With only DMC threads used for binding, Notebooks #9-#28 completely solves this problem. Users are expected to experience free-flowing writing or drawing activity without worrying about the notebook itself.


Notebooks #9-#28 are the notebooks that I created using Coptic sewing variation and is ready to be used. This can be used for journaling, drawing, writing, scrapbooking, etc. In total, I upcycled 200 used A4 papers, each notebook is composed of 10 folded-in-half used A4 papers. I am grateful to Sea Lemon for sharing various bookbinding techniques and methods!

In Interior Design Masters S1:E6, the contestants were tasked to design the interiors of different retail stores. The guest judge for that episode, Thomasina Miers was asked ‘what makes a good restaurant?’. She answered, “It’s so important that the interior reflects what’s on the menu. In our restaurant, we really wanted to bring Mexico in our restaurant space, the customers are paying not just for the food, but for the whole experience.”

What Thomasina Miers said summarizes why designing is important. Designing is not about technical specifications, its all about the overall experience of the user while using the product.

I am giving away these notebooks for free! If anyone is interested, please contact me on my email: hernandezanaclaire@gmail.com. Thank you!

The Work Behind the Artwork: Traveler’s Sewing Kit

Last year, I created a desk organizer crafts out of cardboard. Unfortunately, those crafts did not last long. I used glue gun & glue stick in assembling the parts. Speaking from experience, they do not last long enough to savor the function of the craft.

The Traveler’s Sewing Kit is a product of everything that I have learned from crafting and a mashup of objects I have seen in my life. I made everything suited to my needs- someone who does sewing, bookbinding, and cross-stitching.

I drew what my sewing kit would look like. Once I took account of the items that I need to place inside and their dimensions, I added the general dimensions of the kit.

As displayed in my drawing, I had a lot of erasures in the dimensions because I did not take note of the thickness of the cardboard. I became strict with myself and went back into cutting another piece if the previously cut piece did not fit in with the product. Moreover, I covered the sides of the cardboard with used papers so I can paint it later on.

Instead of the usual glue stick & glue gun, I used wood glue- a glue with a longer curing time than the former but definitely lasts longer.

In the old sewing kit that I bought, they were no dividers. Every time I open it, everything is a mess no matter how hard I arrange it every time because I always carry it everywhere so the contents inside are splattered.

In the Traveler’s Sewing Kit, I created three drawers:

● The lowermost drawer and also the biggest is for my unused DMC threads.

● The left uppermost drawer is where the tomato and measuring tape is located. Both are separated by a divider.

● The right uppermost drawer is where the single piece used threads are located.

Overall, keeping everything segregated with each other saves time because I do not have to arrange it every time.

I took special attention to the handle of the kit because I plan to take this every now and then outside of my home. Also, this handle is easy to grab when you are in a hurry or will be carrying it for a long time.

The handles of the drawers are another feature that I pondered a lot on. Instead of the usual circular handles, I opted for this design. From my experience with various furniture handles, this type works best for me. Its easier to push and pull.

In the book Steal Like An Artist, author Austin Klein wrote, “In my experience, it’s in the act of making things and doing our work that we figure out who are.” And I wholeheartedly agree.

In creating Traveller’s Sewing Kit, I discovered how I am uncomfortable in starting again. There were times where the pieces that I cut had incorrect dimensions. Therefore, I had to cut another one. In these times, I had this thinking of just leaving it be even if the dimensions are lacking. I discovered that I was just uncomfortable with starting all over again. Once I identified this thinking that I had, I decided that I had to teach myself to be comfortable in starting again. Rebuild rather than settle.

All throughout this project, I am grateful that I got some dimensions incorrectly because I get to teach myself a lesson. I suddenly had greater respect for Thomas Edison. He was not afraid of starting all over again once an experiment failed. Because you do not fail, you learn. He did it. He invented the light bulb!

As I observed people, I discovered in people while they are picking out drawers/kits that they will use, they usually only took account of the objects that they will be placed inside, and most of the time, they left out something important: the user.

The Traveller’s Sewing Kit is perfect for me because it suited my behavior and my needs. This craft would be designed differently if the user is a kid or a senior citizen. I pointed this out because if you look everywhere starting in your home and observe how your family members interact with an item, you would discover a bug in one or two objects.

Real-life example:
Recently, I observed that my grandmother is struggled in opening and closing her clothes kit. It takes a great amount of energy for her to close and open this type of lock.

Thus, she mostly leaves it open. Now, this is a bug. When my family members bought this for her, the only thought of the items that will be placed inside and not how my grandmother interacts with it. There I discovered that this type of lock is not senior citizen-friendly.