Work is Play

After writing a series of articles for my school publication, I came to the realization that the whole time I was writing those articles, I felt like I was playing. The word ‘play’ came first in my mind to describe how I felt but afterwards, I did not think that work can become play or I just thought its weird. So I just let that thought go.

Eventually, I remembered something from Austin Kleon (author of Steal Like An Artist) about work is play. “Play is the work of the child and it is also the work of the artist. I was once taking a walk in the Mission in San Francisco and stopped to chat with a street painter. When I thanked him for his time and apologized for interrupting his work, he said, “Doesn’t feel like work to me. Feels more like play”” write Austin Kleon in Keep Going. “The great artists are able to retain this sense of playfulness throughout their careers. Art and the artist both suffer most when the artist gets too heavy, too focused on results.”

Why adults need to play

The reason the word ‘play’ came to my mind to describe how I felt is mostly because I know what play feels like (I frequently play board games with my community) and I am interested in the study of play and I read a lot about it. So first, what is play?

Kristin Wong wrote in an article entitled How To Add More Play to Your Grown-Up Life about play, “Play is something that’s imaginative, self-directed, intrinsically motivated and guided by rules that leave room for creativity.”

Wong asked Jeff Harry, according to her, is “a positive play coach who works with organizations to use applied positive psychology, why play is important especially for adults. “Adults spent a lot of time ruminating, whether it’s thinking about the dumb thing you said at a party or worrying just for the sake of worrying.” He continues, “Think about how kids are excited all the time. That is basically what we’re all trying to get back to.” Wong noted that play is great for our overall well-being. “There are number of benefits to play for adults including improved stress management and an improvement in our overall well-being—benefits that we could certainly use right now.”

So what I’m getting here is, isn’t it amazing if work can be play too? And also, the fact that I enjoy writing so much just for the sake of doing it and not for external outcomes made me feel similar to how I feel when I play. Something that will not get me all worked up and stressed but rather transcending and just pure bliss while doing it. Tony Fitzpatrick said it best, “Writing is hard fucking work, but it’s not labor.” It gets me all excited having to understand why am I feeling that way because I am knowing myself more. I will spend much more time doing it (but, ofcourse, not to the point of extreme exhaustion) for the sake of my mental health and my sanity.

Going back to the article, Jeff Harry advises to adults, “… take a small break from worrying and do something that channels your inner kid and just beings you a little bit of happiness.” In addition, Austin Kleon advises, “If you’ve lost your playfulness, practice for practice’s sake. You don’t have to go to such dramatic lengths as combustion. Musicians can jam without making a recording. Writers and artists can type or draw out a page and throw it away. Photographers can take photos and immediately delete them.”

Such play can be frivolous but, honestly, looking back at the past years, I’m so glad that I spent a lot of time playing board games with my family and my community. In retrospect, I can say that I live a happy life these past few years. I got anxious a lot and such thoughts are set aside whenever I play. While playing, I stayed in the present, made platonic relationships, and shared joy with others. I think only in retrospect can we actually see the benefits of play.

[For some, work or their job is not play but it is their means to afford their needs or to provide for their family. And that’s okay. There a lot of opportunities where one can play outside of their job. Just do it every now and then. I promise, it’s worth it.]

Gap Year Stories: September—Fourth Month

Wow. I’m in fourth month already?? Time seems incredibly fast. But if I looked back in what I did the past few months through my logbook, it seemed like it was not. The days are awfully long.

This month was rough but today, on its last day, I am just this happy gal looking back on how hard I worked the past few weeks. One thing that this month has taught me is do what I love. I mean it. This month, I literally just did what I wanted without following any specific path or what was expected of me. I followed my guts and intuition for the whole month and I had never felt so happy.

I wrote short stories and honestly this is a HUGE achievement for me. Few years ago, I started writing a novel but I discontinued it partly because I just can’t finish it. But right now, I just wanted to write. Hence, I started writing short stories. I did not feel any pressure at all whether its supposed to be loved or fit in a certain standard. The fact that I had completed something that I love to do is the reward for me.

I went on to write the article that I am afraid of the most. I have a one-month internship from June-July (then you can choose to extend for a month if you’d like) at MakeSense, an international organization that focuses on putting together individuals, organizations, and companies for projects related to social good. The first month of internship was stressful for me. It was the very first time I will be writing in such a big platform– this scared me ths most.

Considering how it brought so much stress into my life, I opted to not extend my internship for another month. But then came, this idea of writing an article that focuses on human-centered prisons and why the Philippines should built it.

Since one of my mantras is to not self-reject and feeling this need of sharing what I know and I am fascinated about, I extended again for another month. Honestly, it stressed me out a lot. I kept thinking that I do not have a lot of experience, I’m not qualified, I may even be called out because I know too little of the subject but even with all of those thoughts, I am grateful that I trusted myself. Also, I did not reject myself.

The idea actually started out as a seed. Around April 2020, I got curious on how human-centered prisons are different from the “regular” prisons and that is where I started researching about it. Fast forward to September, I interviewed Ar. Dominique Cruz, an architect, and Mr. Marco Toral, former consultant of Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center, about their thoughts on how can we create a friendlier and humane prison environment for inmates. Honestly, writing about the whole article about human-centered prisons made me decide to advocate for building more humane environments for people deprived of liberty. I had gotten so many perspectives and that all would not happen if I decided to reject myself in the first place. So… do what you love to do even if it feels scary. Run to the roar. Trust your curiousity, instincts, and desires.

Since I became a feature editor for our school paper, I wrote more than ten feature articles this month. I learned so much from interviewing various students in our College as well as from proofreading the articles of other feature writers.

I remembered how I stuttered so much during an interview with the one I will feature during the first week of September. I cringed so much while listening to the recording. However, from that experience, I became aware of the areas where I need to improve. That interview improved me so much. Although it was an awful experience, it is the very thing that I am grateful for. After that interview, I interviewed eight more students in the following days. Guess what? The seventh one actually told me that she felt comfortable talking with me throughout the interview. She expected herself that she will be nervous but she claimed, I did not make her feel that way. To more learnings hehe.

Also, I just am grateful to everyone who is reading my posts. This month, I had more than a hundred views and I just want to say that I am grateful for each and everyone of you. I hope you are doing what you love ❤.

Lastly, since next month, October, is the start of my classes. I want to bring back something that I wrote during June—first month of gap year:

Having this idea that I’m on ‘gap year’ even though I take classes online for uni makes me feel that I could learn and initiate passion projects as much as I want to without caring about uni at all. Hence, I started gap year last June 2020. My classes will start by August but it does not matter to me at all. I’m just thinking of it as a responsibility that I should do but not that significant at all.

My main priority for this gap year is to grow so much– to learn more about myself, learn more about the world, and leaving things better than when I found them.

I went back to this because I want to remember why I started and, hopefully, I would not get carried away by university requirements.

With all of these adventures from following my inner soul, may I always continue and remember to be human. To be human is to be alive. (Oscar Wilde: To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.)

I have no expectations for October. But what I have and what I armed myself with are stories. The stories that inspire me, that made me grow, that made me realize things, and most importantly, that made me see the beauty in life.

I may not have expectations but what I do have is anticipation. I am truly excited on what October holds. I am excited on how will I spend the 24 hours given to me tomorrow and the next day, and day after that, until the end. Also, I find it easier to move and do something if I think about what can I do for this 24 hours, instead of worrying about the future. Worrying about the future made me feel stuck like I should not even do anything at all because it would not matter anyway, you are late, and you cannot do anything. Whereas if I thunk about what the most beautiful thing that I can do in this 24 hours, I could think of a thing, if I would be very happy just doing that and accomplishing it throughout the day. And this is where I will leave, what is the most beautiful thing that I can do in this 24 hours?

Do it. Accomplish it. And congratulations, you just created something that will improve all your tomorrows.

Eckhart Tolle: Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have. Make now the primary focus of your life.


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(If you are new to my blog, hi! yes, I’m taking a gap year while still enrolled in a university. I just want to instill the idea to myself so that I can focus on doing what I love and following my curiousities. Though it is not really what gap year means, but given that I have so much time because during normal uni setting I have to spend four hours in commuting, and a lot of hours waiting for professors in classrooms, I have a lot of time to spend. Hence, I instilled the idea to myself that I am on a gap year and I’ll focus less on my university and instead, follow my instincts. Watch out for more adventures and stories!)

Words Do Hurt. Literally.

What if words do hurt, not only emotionally, but physically? What if verbal abuse turns into physical abuse? Will people be careful with their words knowing that their words cause pain literally?

These are my questions while I was writing Words Do Hurt, a short story of mine that is now published on Wattpad (you can read it for free here). This idea came to my mind while I was listening to The Greatest Showman’s “This Is Me” specifically, the line “When the sharpest words wanna cut me down…” (By the way, the story is in English so you can check it out.)

Story behind:

This short story is largely based on my own experiences. My author’s note at the end best explained the whole short story and reasons why I wrote it. Note: Iris is the main character in the short story.

This is a short story but I did as much as possible to show what Iris is experiencing and to get my message across. The whole time I was writing this, I can’t count how many times my eyes got filled up with liquid. Ever since I was young and up until now, I continue to experience verbal abuses from my parents. But I got better at handling it because of the community I am part of. But still, this pandemic I struggled with verbal abuses a lot because I’m always at home.

At the end of this short story, I imagined that the young woman would help Iris in her journey similar to how my community played a pivotal role in teaching me how to respect and love myself while at the same time, respecting other people around me. I also noted that the young woman herself had scars of her own meaning she experienced verbal abuses too but she still got up and chose to be kind. And I know that Iris can too. She just needs someone who can support her throughout her journey.

And this short story is not to induce hate to my parents or your own parents if you are experiencing this as well but rather to understand. Also, I wanted to inform. A lot of people think that verbal abuse only includes curse words but, no. There are others like gaslighting. Iris parents are parents that are hurt but still think that cursing on their child is not good, hence they try to rephrase their words as much as they could. A detail that I want to discuss is that Iris’ parents like to repeat themselves. They continue to say the same thing but in different arrangements of words. Such actions neither contribute anything to the conversation nor does it move the conversation forward. The only thing it does is continue to cause emotional damage to the other person by constantly reprimanding them for the same thing.

To people experiencing verbal abuse, your feelings are valid. You can get mad. You can get sad. That’s okay. What’s not okay is hurting other people either physically or emotionally. Just this morning, while listening to The Greatest Showman’s “This Is Me”, from the line, “When the sharpest words gonna cut me down…” I caught the idea of what if words really cut someone? What if verbal abuses became visible? Will we be more careful with other words? Or will we continue to hurt each other because we are hurting too?

Published My First Short Story!

I published a short story in Wattpad, an online platform where anyone can write and read stories. It is a short story about an inmate name Waldo who spent fifteen years in prison and decided to take his own life. My target audience for the story is Filipinos that’s why it is in Filipino-English language. You can access the story here for free (if you understand Filipino language).

Story behind:

Since a few weeks ago, I kept notes of ideas that flew over me. But this particular idea for this short story is the catalyst. It’s the one that made me do it. To just start writing a short story. Aside from my sole reason of just writing for the sake of creating, I also decided to write this because of a larger goal: making people aware of what PDLs (person deprived of liberty) are experiencing every day. They live in a hostile and inhumane environment. And I don’t understand why authorities, or even the greater population, are just okay with it. Also, we cannot just ignore this growing problem because what affect one directly affects one indirectly. You can’t blame PDLs to be angry or continue their misbehavior after spending prison time because how can they rehabilitate in an inhumane environment? Our prisons are breeding grounds for further disorder and misbehaviors.

I believe that if most of us speak up, they will notice the need and must to care for every single Filipino citizen there is.

Why I Write

I just started publishing short stories on Wattpad (there are currently two!) and in my bio I wrote,

I’m Claire.

I write short stories because I like doing so. They may be in purpose of informing or anything (which is true, yes). However, my main purpose is I love doing it just for the sake of doing it. Similar to Zadie Smith (author of Intimations), writing, for me, is something to do. It keeps me sane, makes me alive and what the world needs are people who have come alive.

I, sincerely, hope that you do what makes you alive too.

Back when I read novels on Wattpad around six years ago, I had this urge to write. But that did not continue. Now, I am not rejecting myself any longer. Hence, I just write in any form I wanted. I’m now venturing to short stories and I’m excited for what lies ahead. All while remembering why I decided to do this in the first place. It is because I want to do it and I love doing it. Creating itself is the reward for me.

Author and artist Austin Kleon wrote in a blog post, “What if you stopped thinking about your ideas as things you need to let out of you, but things you need to let in to you? Things you need to be ready to receive? If you start to think about creative work this way, Gilbert says, “it starts to change everything.” You can stop being afraid and daunted and just “do your job. Continue to show up.””

Like what I wrote in my bio, I hope you do what makes you alive. For me, it is writing. And regardless of the external outcome, author Elizabeth Gilbert says, “do your job. Continue to show up.

Week of novelty

So I just played some features of Instagram story and I had fun creating short “blogs” in each picture. What an amazing morning that was. Also, what I did not mention in the photos is how I am absolutely just grateful that I get to control what I do in my life like I can choose what books I read, I can choose what to spend time on, etc. And I love that. I love that, okay, God has a plans for me, but I know that I still am the one who’s gonna do the work and trust Him that He will lead the way.

Last week, I had neither planned on writing a short story nor learning how to cook. But its okay. I mean… spontaneous things? Why would I not want that? That is a quìck reminder for me that life will not worked out in anyway I planned it to be (but I never really plan out that much anyway), but it will still turn out in my favor.

Life works in your favor.

When Words Do Not Come

Is it when words do not come or rather when words do not arrive yet? I believe that they still haven’t come yet so its the latter.

Today I struggled with connecting words together. I had them in my head like bits of words and they just do not connect when I wrote them down.

My article for my school paper just got published in public and I’m growing anxious by the minute. I’m anxiously waiting for a comment saying, “This article is bad. They should fire the student who wrote this.” or whatnot. I came to the conclusion that as much as I enjoyed writing the whole article together, I still need to learn how to not care so much of what the world thinks.

I’m still learning and I hope I will learn to get past this.

Back to the when words do not come, I read an entry from the Red Hand Files of songwriter and musician Nick Cave. Someone asked him “What do you do when words aren’t coming?”

Nick Cave answered, “The idea of lyrics ‘not coming’ is basically a category error. What we are talking about is not a period of ‘not coming’ but a period of ‘not arriving’. The lyrics are always coming. They are always pending. They are always on their way toward us. But often they must journey a great distance and over vast stretches of time to get there. They advance through the rugged terrains of lived experience, battling to arrive at the end of our pen. In time, they emerge, leaping free of the unknown — from memory or, more thrillingly, from the predictive part of our minds that exists on the far side of the lived moment. It has been a long and arduous journey, and our waiting much anguished.

Finally, he ended with, “Our task is to remain patient and vigilant and to not lose heart — for we are the destination. We are the portals from which the idea explodes, forced forth by its yearning to arrive. We are the revelators, the living instruments through which the idea announces itself — the flourishing and the blooming — but we are also the waiting and the wondering and the worrying. We are all of these things — we are the songwriters.

I believe this does not only apply to songwriters. I believe it applies for all writers as well. Its not when words do not come, its just that they havent arrived yet. While we are patiently waiting for them to arrive, it is our task to be aware of them at all times and still continue to live our life.

Run to the Roar

These past few months, I kept running to the roar. My stomach clenching and heart pounding. I very well know for sure that I am afraid during those times and I am still afraid now. Regardless of how afraid I am, I still run to the roar.

Tina Essmaker said, “When you are thinking about doing something and it feels scary, when it feels like this big lion is waiting at the finish line and he’s roaring and he’s ferocious and he’s going to tear you apart… you should just run toward that lion anyway. Run to the roar.

In retrospect, all the things that I did were scary when I haven’t started them yet. But two things that I learned,

1. Do not reject yourself.

There is this expression inside you that originate from the experiences and things that you consume. And since you are the only one of you at a lifetime, this expression, hence, is unique. No one has lived in the same way as you and that what’s make your expression unique. Your job is to share it with the world and not to limit yourself with the beliefs like not enough experience, not enough time not enough audience, etc.

2. Continue to follow your hobbies, interests, and desires for the sake of learning. Have faith that by following them, you will get closer to the person you need to be.

Its not really about winning at doing things but rather doing them because you want to learn, because it brings you joy. Yes. It is scary. But remember that you are not doing it for anyone, you are doing it for you.

That is the two things that I have in my mind these past few months. And I hope you got something from it.

Growing

After interviewing another student from my college for a feature article, I asked for feedback like I always do and her answer was this:

“Wala naman akong problema. I felt comfortable while doing the interview. Hindi nga ako kinakabahan eh.” (Eng trans: I don’t have any problem while doing the interview. I felt comfortable while doing the interview. I was never even nervous at all.)

Honestly, that is a huge compliment for me. During my very first interviews for a feature article as well, I got a feedback that wasn’t exacty a compliment but rather a call for me to grow and I am grateful that he is honest with me and for that, my future interviewees wouldn’t have to suffer so much because of my nervousness and inexperience.

I have so much more to learn with regards to how to listen well and converse effectively but such small compliments (small successes) gives me further strength to continue.

Just a few days ago, I experienced the feeling of “everything’s futile” again. And somehow, I think its related to my constant hustling these past few weeks. And I need to re-balance my self again. And I found this writings by one of my favorite youtuber, Dinara:

With that, I wanted to start my everyday with gratitudes. Letting the universe hear my thoughts and what I am grateful for.

I can feel that I am growing in many avenues of my life. But I want to teach myself to not get attached to some imaginary ladder that I need to achieve to be happy.

Small things matter the most. I interview various people and write down their narratives because I love to write a lot and read a lot. I enjoy writing as well as reading so much. And it feels me up with joy knowing that I am doing something that I love everyday.

I hope that stays. I hope that for the rest of my life. I keep choosing what I enjoy, what makes me grow, and what I love.

As a kid, I just enjoy what I love. When I was younger, my father had me take Kumon worksheets but as I grow older, I realize that solving Math problems isn’t what I am interested in. Hence, my younger self fought to do what she loves: reading.

I hope as I grow older, I will never forget that. I will never forget that as a kid, I chose to do something that brings me joy instead of doing something that people perceive as “will get you into a nice university or will land you in a nice job” but you do not actually enjoy.

I hope I will always remember to be alive. And to be alive means asking yourself: what makes me come alive? What is something that kept me going? And do it. Do it with my very best. The world needs people who are alive.

Like the Little Prince, I hope I will not forget. And I hope you too.

What a ride!

How does a successful day look like?

Each person has their own meanings of a successful day. And I have my own too.

To me, a day is succesful if it is well-lived. Well-lived in a sense that I make myself live in the present. You can’t believe how much I have spent ruminating of the happenings of yesterday or the anxiousness of the future during the past few years. Hence, for every day, I remind myself that I’ll do the work of today and worry about the problems of today.

This morning, I unconsciously recited a quote of Maya Angelou in my mind. “This is a wonderful day. I have never seen this one before.” Reciting this, I never would have expected that this day will really be a day that I have never seen before.

My main task for the day was to write two feature articles and yes, I completed them. However, spontaneous things happened and I was tasked to write another article–a news article–an type of article that I’m not (yet) comfortable.

With the help of our managing editor, I am able to accomplish the task. The previous feature articles I had done before, somehow exhausted my mind but at the end, I’m satisfied with how I spent my day. It’s not really about accomplishing things in a day but more of have I done something that I love and did it with my utmost best?

I love this words from Mavis Leyrer about the goal is not to arrive without scars, “The object of life’s journey is not to arrive at the grave safely, in a well-preserved body but rather skid sideways, totally worn out shouting holy shit what a ride.”

And that’s basically what I perceive as a successful day.

You may arrive with bruise and cuts and yet, satisfied on how the little adventures went shouting: “What a ride!”