And life goes on.

I, finally, finished the research paper that I have been working on. And here’s a clip of submission (I honestly loooove MS Teams)

(Just a bit of quick note that this research paper had been super interesting for me. It was a lot of work, yes. But I had fun doing it. For the past few months, I’ve been interested so much about creativity, play, and the impact of design to users and in this research, I had the opportunity to merge it all together!! And that is what gives me so much joy! )

And life goes on…

When I had submitted this paper a few minutes ago, I stopped for a moment and realized that life really just goes on.

Last year, on this same day, its semestral break and I’m still resting from the hell week that passed. And life just went on.

Today, I accomplish a large task and I’ll be taking on another one in the next few days but that is for my next few days self to do. My focus is self-care and reclaming my self after hours and hours of academics.

Feels good to actually sleep knowing that you did your best down to the last minute of work and that is the only thing that matters. Like I mentioned, I’ll be focusing on detoxifying and reclaiming my humanity so that I may have the energy for next week. I hope you do too. Have a great weekend.

Perspective

Yesterday and today, I spent more than twelve hours in front of my computer. Finishing my research that is due tomorrow. Finally, I’m more than halfway done and fortunately, I finished more than what I expected to finish today.

I did proofreading on most pages and tomorrow, I’ll be doing the most interesting part of my research.

Gaaaah đź’« A lot of work but it is really interesting (though not really on the technicals lol)

Anyways, when a person is stressed, that person is basically focused on finishing/fixing the source of stress. And most of the time, people get carried away.

Today, while I’m stuck in my room, typing, I remind myself that I am more than this research. When suddenly I had the thought of pulling an all-nighter to finish this, I reminded myself that my mental and physical health is so much more important than this intangible thing. Hence, I made progress a lot today before bedtime so that I will not feel the need to pull an all-nighter (btw, I never pull an all-nighter).

And, honestly, perspective helped a lot for me today.

So there is this one big chunk of section in my research that I had to write. Instead of gabbling it all up like a whole pie, I seperated the whole section into smaller, easier sections and I made a checklist of those. Everytime, I accomplished a smaller section, I’ll tick it and somehow, as I progress, I am feeling really great because I’m making progress in such a short time whereas if I take it in as a whole, I would have been super stressed out because I spent so much time doing the whole thing.

And another thing about perspective is that I continually ask myself, ‘What is important?’

Because while I’m stressing myself out, I’ll always be reminded that there is so much more to life than this and hence, I should not even worry about it too much.

There is more to life than this. You have a soul, your family, your friends, the environment around you. I hope this helped. Thank you.

Creativity = Natural

Authors Tom Kelley and David Kelley in their book Creative Confidence wrote,

“Geshe Thupten Jinpa, who has been the Dalai Lama’s chief English translator for more than twenty years, pointed out that there’s no word in the Tibetan language for “creativity” or “being creative.” The closest translation is “natural.” In other words, if you want to be more creative, you just have to be more natural.”

And I love this so much. Because it suggests that creativity is something that is innate within us.

I used to believe that I am not a “creative” person. Back then, whenever I create something, I’ll put in less effort and say, “Oh. I’m not a creative person so I do not have to try hard.”

But, I realized how wrong I was. I now believe that I think of myself is how I’m gonna live life. In other words, my thoughts, opinions, and actions make me. So, if I think of myself that I am just not a creative person, then I will inevitably become that way.

And along the way, I tend to realize that the more I become “human” or in a sense, that I do actions that as a human I must do,—like exploring, following my curiosities, and bonding with the community—the more I discover that creativity is not a supernatural thing that only very few, special people possess. As in the Tibetan language, it is a natural thing to us.

Ever since my practices and routines changed this year, ideas just continue to pop up whenever I’m “in rest”. And though I do not have a good judgment of whether those ideas are creative or not, I still continue to do them.

Anyway, with this information, instead of stressing that we do not have any creative ideas, chill out. A lot of artists believe that ideas are something that we have to be ready to receive.

In other words, if we do not have any ideas yet, it is because we are not ready yet. And while we aren’t ready yet, songwriter and artist Nick Cave suggests, that all we have to do is continue to do work. Continue to live. And when ideas come, show up and do the work.

Writing as a form of discovery

On the twentieh anniversary of his blog, Marc Weidenbaum said, “Don’t leave writing to writers. Don’t delegate your area of interest and knowledge to people with stronger rhetorical resources. You’ll find your voice as you make your way. There is, however, one thing to learn from writers that non-writers don’t always understand. Most writers don’t write to express what they think. They write to figure out what they think. Writing is a process of discovery. Blogging is an essential tool toward meditating over an extended period of time on a subject you consider to be important.”

When I was kid, I always, always, read on a short bio of an author that they are writing to express and not to impress. So, it led me to thinking that if I want to express something, I can write about it.

But, as I continue on blogging for eight months now, most of the things that I share on my blog isn’t something that came up because I want to express something. It’s more of writing about it so I can see what I think about it. In other words, I write because I want to discover.

I have enough blog posts right now to say that I have this area of interests that as time passes by, I continue to build on these ideas and I began seeing connections in various other area that I never though would have been possible.

This is what author and artist Austin Kleon wrote on his blog too, “One little blog post is nothing on its own, but publish a thousand blog posts over a decade, and it turns into your life’s work. This blog has been my sketchbook, my studio, my gallery, my storefront, and my salon. Absolutely everything good that has happened in my career can be traced back in some way to this blog. My books, my art shows, my speaking gigs, some of my best friendships—they all exist because I have my own little piece of turf on the Internet.”

Somehow, his interests just keep building up one post after another. The same goes for me too.

Paul Jarvis states, “Sometimes rainbows and unicorns do shoot out of your ass when you sit down to write.”

And it does. I am shocked too. Though as rainbows and unicorns do shot out, that doesn’t mean it’s not hard. But as Tony Fitzpatrick said, writing is hard but its not labor.

I love stumbling upon new ideas as I write, I received an idea in my head, and sometimes, I meditate on it at first and let my mind fire up connections in my brain. And then, I began writing it down. Most of the time, if not, all of the time, I do not know how to end it, but like what has been said, writing is a process of discovery. To find out what I think and contribute.

Bird by Bird

In the book Creative Confidence, authors David Kelley and David Kelley shared about writer Anna Lamott’s childhood story from her book Bird by Bird,

Her ten year-old brother had been assigned a school report about birds and hadn’t started on it until the night before it was due. “We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, ‘Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.'”

I haven’t read her book yet but its on my TBR. Anyways, these days as one difficult plate after another go in my way, I remind myself of this story of Bird by Bird.

[Note: Plates are referred to as activities in architecture/design school. Basically, its designing, drawing, with explanations on the side.]

During moments of daunted-ness due to a new task ahead, I reminded myself that I do not know yet whether I can’t or can do this task but I will still do it anyway. The only way to know is by doing it.

A plate that I had three weeks ago which is Watercolor Ink Rendering of a museum I chose to draw. I haven’t fully figured how to do watercolor but I chose to do it. First, I told myself to just sketch first. I took a deep breath and started sketching the museum. After that, somehow, I felt better, knowing that I get past the first barrier. And I left it for a few days because I waited for the ink to arrived.

Finally, when the ink arrived, I told myself to apply in the lightest wash first. Then let it dry. And so on, until I get to the details.

When I finally finished, I’m so proud of what I have done. My work improved a lot and I’m looking at it objectively. There are still many things to improve but I’m grateful that I am growing.

And onto my next plates, this is what I do: I focused on a certain portion of the task. I don’t think of the whole pie but focused on eating up one slice first. Somehow, as I finish one after another, I feel completely satisfied and less stressed. I am moving forward even though I am taking it step by step, nevertheless, I am still making progress towards the end.

The bird by bird concept helped me get through a lot of things these days. And even though I haven’t finished the work today, I am satisfied that I made progress.

Looking back, ever since I read the book Creative Confidence, I am happy that I took whatever life brings Bird by Bird and will go on with that in mind.

To end, authors David Kelley and Tom Kelley provided an advice to particulary anyone,

Whatever creative goal you choose, it is important to build on your experience and not let fear and inertia hold you back. Putting ideas on a page and getting past that first hurdle is progress. Then you’re ready to take another step forward. Just take it “bird by bird.” Pretty sure, you’ll start to feel more creative confidence.

Pursue Joy

“Joy is a form of resilience.” I will repeat, “Joy is a form of resilience.

How so?

Many consider joy as this frivolous emotion. One can even say that it is unimportant and should not be given a time of the day. But is it really?

Joy Vs Happiness

As a culture, we have been obsessed in pursuing happiness. (Happiness comes from the inside but that is another matter to talk about)

But actually, what we should do is pursue joy.

Happiness is an emotion pertaining to that you feel over a long period of time. So, for example, let’s say, I’m a student and when I say, “I’m happy right now.” What that means is that I feel happy about yesterday and the days before that. It doesn’t necessarily mean that there aren’t awful moments but over time, I feel good overall about what happened.

On the other hand, joy pertains to right now. It’s the feeling when you want to jump up and down or giggle or laugh because of a joke. And this is why pursuing joy is much more important that pursuing happiness. Because joy is what’s happening around us every time. Writing this blog makes me feel joy. And in retrospect, when all of these joyful moment add up, I can say that I am happy with how I live. So maybe, we are only happy in retrospect. Hence, it is why pursuing joy is more important that pursuing happiness

Why is Joy Important?

Going back to my first sentence, “Joy is a form of resilience.” is from designer and author Ingrid Fetell Lee.

And she explained why in a blog post. First off, she wrote that we tend off to put off joy. For example, “Oh! I will work full head-on for 9 hours and then I’ll watch a movie.” We see joy as a reward for our hardwork.

But actually, Lee suggests that we should incorporate joy into our daily lives. Basically, joy is a tool that we can use to cope up with stress.

She explained further, “Small moments of joy help the cardiovascular system recover from stress. When we feel stressed, our bodies floor with chemicals like cortisol and epinephrine which raise our heart rate and blood pressure, keep us alert and focused, and help us respond to the challenges at hand. This is an adaptive response to stress, and it works well when it’s temporary. If stress becomes chronic, on the other hand, this places strain on the body and can lead to exhaustion and illness. But when we experience joy, such as watching something funny, taking a little while to become absorbed in play, or spending time in nature, it gives our bodies a break from this stress response, enabling us to recover.

Thus, joy is not frivolous. It’s actually important for our body, especially our mental health.

Small Moments of Joy

Knowing this information, I had to apply it. Assignments and academic readings are piling up but I’m ‘stealing ‘ some time just to be.

I acknowledge that I am more than my academics. And the life that I want to live is not something that is in the direction of academics, hence, I go my own path.

One thing that I do and probably my most favorite apart from writing is soaking energy from the sun.

Around 3 pm- 4pm, I get up, after being huddled for hours on my desk, and go in our porch.

Without having to go outside, the sun direction is right there at the gate and that is where I can get energy from the sun.

Honestly, one of the highlights of my day. And I am reminded of what Andy Grammer wrote in his song Keep Your Head Up:

The glow that the sun gets
Right around sunset
Helps me realize
That this is just a journey
Drop your worries
You are gonna turn out fine.
Oh, you turn out fine.
Fine, oh, you turn out fine.

Whether I failed during the day or experienced something terrible, the sun’s gonna be there. Always. And its gonna be there until I die. Whatever I am worrying about it is gonna be fine. It will pass. Other things that I do during the day to feel joy is listening to my favorite music, showering after a long day, watching korean variety shows, and reading a great book that will keep me immersed for hours. And not to mention, there are tons of other things that unexpectedly show up during my day that brought me joy. Like a few days ago, I discovered a website that has a very interesting UI on its homepage, and just the other day, I finally owned a copy of a book that I’ve been waiting for MONTHSS!!!

Basically, pursuing joy is me telling myself that I will not succumb to being a machine and taking care of myself. In addition, joyful things that unexpectedly came my way are a reminder that life is full of miracles and casual magics. I also believe that what I put out in the world, that is what I get back. And these miracles are what I get back.

Why would I spend time thinking about someone who doesn’t even love me?

When I read this from James Clear’s newsletter, I was stunned. First, I’ll share it to all:

Actress Viola Davis on handling criticism:

“I don’t have any time to stay up all night worrying about what someone who doesn’t love me has to say about me.”

Source: Viola Davis’ Battle with Low Self-Esteem

And for someone who has extremely low self-esteem, this is just what I needed to hear, not to mention that I really love Viola Davis in How to Get Away with Murder.

In class, we are asked to present our work individually and actually seeing my classmates’ works, I started to overthink. And here comes the worst part, I started comparing.

Comparing is good only if its on a realistic level. For example, I’m someone who is just a beginner in composing music (Note: This is only an example. I am not composing any music and I do not know how to play any instruments, but who knows? in the future, I might be interested in learning one.) I barely have an experience and it is extremely unhealthy if I compare my work to Mozart’s or Beethoven’s who have decades and decades of experience. Hence, if I compared my works to them, I’ll probably not continue pursuing songwriting at all because I’ll end up thinking, “My works will never be like them anyways.”

For me, comparing is good if it gets you to do better. Let’s say I admire a work of my classmate and its not necessarily on a level of “Worldwide Popular” but it gets me thinking that, ‘Oh. I can’t do that yet but I can do that once I learned what I needed to learn.’ Basically, the bar is not that high. Hence, it makes it realistically achievable given that I spend time learning and practicing.

Anyways, going back to where I said that we will present our work individually, I did not have the courage to volunteer to present my work (BUT the good thing is that I can still present next meeting) because I was so afraid of what my classmates would think of.

BUT (capitalize for emphasis)

Good thing, classes ended earlier and hence, I snapped out of ruminating.

I remember that THIS is my life. I am here, not to impress anyone with what I can do, but for me. FOR ME.

Yes, there is a possibility that they may think of not really good things about my work BUT that is outside of my control.

I get to say what I can and cannot do.

Presenting my work and having the opportunity to hear constructive criticisms from my professor is what I wanted to do. And what other people may think should not be an impediment nor even a factor whether I should change my decision.

What my inner soul wants me to do is to learn, to hear comments about my work from my professor. And that is what I’m gonna do.

I should not even waste a second of my time here on Earth, dimming my light just so I would not destroy my self-made image to other people. There is no self-image. I’m just me.

So, I’m grateful to actress Viola Davis for her perspective. It helped me remember on what is the significant. Though, it’s not easy to change perspectives. I will always remember that every day is a new day to do my best.

Today, I would not have written this if I had the courage to present nor would I have this realizations. So, either way, I choose to be joyful and to understand my decisions.

Have a great day.

Art as means to an end

Recently, I heard of graphic designer Craig Oldham’s work, ‘May They Never Be Deemed Low-Skilled Again’. This work is in response to the UK government’s hypocrisy during the past few months.

Source: Craig Oldham via My Modern Met

Written in small letters on the poster are the following:

“In February 2020, Home Secretary, Priti Patel labelled any person working under ÂŁ25k per year “Low Skilled” or “Unskilled”. Only one month later, struggling with the COVID-19 crisis, that same government labelled them ‘Key Workers’, realizing just how important they really are. These workers haven’t just become key to society, they always have, and will continue to be, Key Workers. And long may that term live on.”

Honestly, in times like this, I find it really interesting on how designers find a way to stay “relevant”. What I mean by relevant is that they seek and devise ways on how they could use their skills in giving light to the people who are left behind.

When we are in crisis, we can’t just “not care” about what is happening because before we even become our professions, we are first human.

In an interview with My Modern Met, Craig Oldham shared, ” I have always believed that graphic design is a means and not an end—that it has a part to play, but it’s not necessarily the primary, or a driving factor in things like this. But I do care a lot about people, and this is an idea about people really. And about respect for everyone regardless of their occupation because we are all interconnected and equal—and equally important.”

I appreciate how he added that each of us are equally important regardless of what our job is. Honestly, our government need to learn so much from him. During this pandemic, our government acts like the millions of people who have lost their jobs this pandemic are just merely obstacles to success and growth of this country. Basically, they treat them as data. They try to dumb it down and say, “Oh good thing only *insert millions* people lost their jobs, it could have been worse.” Oh yes. It could have been but that’s not the point. And that should not be what you are saying in front of the Filipino people who barely even have the ability to make ends meet.

Going back, Craig Oldham continued, “Rather than a rightly positive message about staying at home, or being kind to each other, all of which are great messages, I felt it still important to stick up for those countless unknown workers who don’t have the relative luxury of being at home safe with family. They are really important people.

YES!! IMPORTANT!!

Also, can I just mention that in our country, most of the people working directly with a lot of people, like security guards, cashiers, nurses, waiters, garbage collectors, etc, are just earning minimum wages (sometimes, not) and it saddens me that they are risking their health and yet they are not paid well.

And lastly, he states about how design is a tool for good, even if others may rule it out as something frivolous, “Because we have a responsibility to our society. Designers, particularly Graphic Designers, can often lament and be frustrated at what they perceive as a lack of awareness or appreciation for what design is and can do. Well, for me, the answer to that is to prove it, and to engage your talents and time in causes and concerns which can make a meaningful impact on society and the world beyond what we have to do commercially to earn a living.

He concludes, ” I also believe that beyond design, beyond any occupation any of us do, we are first people belonging to a society and we have a duty of care to each other to make sure that society is fair and just, so we should be involved in campaigns and causes in which we believe could achieve this—design or not.”

After learning about his project, it gave me so much hope. Honestly, this quarantine I noticed that a lot of people turned to art, movies, music, and books a lot. This speaks so much that art may not literally be a tool to “save the world” but it is what we live for. Ending with a quote from Dead Poets Society:

Image result for dead poets society quotes | Movie quotes, Pretty words,  Words

Surprise!

“Joy has a way of showing up when we least expect it. As we move through the stream of daily life, tiny moments can capture our attention and turn our thoughts in a joyful direction. These moments can be especially powerful in times of stress or sadness.” – Ingrid Fetell Lee

So, I was just reading articles on designer Ingrid Fetell Lee’s blog when I clicked a hyperlink that led me to this website:

Then, I moved my mouse a little while reading the title page then, I was surprised to found out that a few words were “washed” away.

It put me out of “calm” mode. I was back to my kid-like self wherein I began to notice something novel and I want to see where it ends. And after “washing” away the letters. This is what remained:

Oh gosh. Something that brought me joy at that moment.

Designer Ingrid Fetell Lee wrote about surprise and how it can improve your mood throughout the day in her book, Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness,

“Surprise has a vital purpose: to quickly redirect our attention. It acts like a warning bell for the brain, alerting us to a gap between what’s happening in front of us and what we had anticipated. In stable, predictable situations, the parts of the brain that attend to our environment slip into a kind of background mode. Our awareness of our immediate surroundings recedes while our conscious mind thinks through a problem, carries on a conversation, or daydreams. But an unexpected noise or tap on the shoulder brings the mind and senses into a state of sudden vigilance.” wrote Lee, “the increased alertness and arousal of the surprise response can also prepare us to take advantage of joys that come from out of the blue: serendipitous events (e.g., Ryan Gosling shooting a movie down the street), unlikely windfalls (ooh, free ice cream!), or changing circumstances (say, an early spring) that could influence our happiness for the better.”

She explains, “While these moments of joy might seem fleeting, they can have lasting effects because they help to promote upward spirals of positive emotions. Joyful surprises bring our attention away from ourselves and back out into the world, prompting us to approach and engage. They incite curiosity, spur exploration, and increase the chances we’ll interact with others in ways that keep the positive vibes flowing.”

Though in time of my discovery of that website, I wasn’t sad or anything but just merely reading articles when suddenly I discovered something out of the ordinary.

What joy I felt when I began to realize how great I felt in being surprised. And surprises are great especially when you are having a bad day.

It pulls your mind out of cruise control and heightens your focus on the surroundings around you. In times of overthinking-ness and anxiousness, surprises keeps you out of ruminating. And hence, I’m always on a look out for them.

I realized that when I started actively and consciously choosing joy, joyful things starts coming out of my view more often.

A while ago, while I was looking up the sky. A bird landed on the roof below me and then the bird flew in my direction that I started closing the window immediately because it may be go and be trapped inside our room (thank goodness, it did not). Thankfully, it went in an another direction. Then, I just chuckled at how I reacted.

I cannot control what life will give me but I can control in how I perceive them. There are more surprising things out there and I’m on a mission to find more of them!

Looking Up The Sky

Studies have concluded that looking up the sky can make you feel “small” and that is not a bad thing. It actually gives you perspective- that you are just this tiny thing in the universe who will be dead in the next century or so hence, most of the thing we worry about are unimportant in the face of death anyway. So, we should just live life.

In the book, Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness, author and designer Ingrid Fetell Lee wrote about a study about people feeling “small” beside a grand landscape like a mountain, rock formation, grand architectural building, or anything that makes them look up,

“In a study led by researcher Yang Bai, tourists at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco and Yosemite National Park were asked to draw pictures of themselves. When the researchers compared the resulting drawings, they found that people drew themselves as much smaller when immersed in the grandeur of Yosemite than in the hubbub of San Francisco. This study offers a striking illustration of the experience many people have in moments of awe: the feeling of being “small or insignificant.” Keltner calls this phenomenon the small self, and while it may sound unpleasant, in fact for most people it comes with a euphoric feeling of resonance and oneness with other beings. People in this state often say that they feel the presence of a higher power and that day-to-day concerns recede from their attention.

Well, that is also why churches need to be big because it represents God (and of course for practicality reasons too- seating capacity, to store valuable artifacts, etc.).

That is exactly why when you are having a bad day or bad mood, take a break and look up the sky for a few minutes. A lot of research studies concluded that looking up or even going up is correlated to joy.

Look up in the sky. It will not solve your problems, however, it will make you feel joy and feeling joy is important to your overall well-being. It takes you away from your concerns but to just be in this present moment right now.

Another thing, looking up gets you to daydream. And daydreaming is one of the ways to get your brain into default mode network (DMN) and this is great especially if you are brainstorming, or looking for solutions to a problem.

Journalist Celestee Headlee writes about DMN in her book Do Nothing,

” The default mode network, or DMN, becomes active when we allow our minds to wander. When the DMN is engaged, it works on our memories, putting past events into context and making moral evaluations about things that have happened. It also imagines the future, tries to understand the emotions of others, and reflects on our own emotions and decisions. The default network is crucial for empathy, for self-reflection, and for Theory of Mind, the ability to imagine what others may be thinking. Allowing our brains to switch into default mode is crucial for our well-being. That’s the source of much of our creativity and innovation, since the brain actively reshuffles the puzzle pieces of our memories and emotions when it’s not directed to solve a problem or complete a task.”

Right now, I given myself a few days to brainstorm ideas before starting my research paper for a proposed corporate tower design. A while ago morning, while I was looking up the sky, I got another idea for what I should put in my design. This is another moment that proves why daydreaming and taking a break is important.

Things are starting to pile up as school days passed by, and this is where taking a break needs to be a constant conscious decision. There are days wherein taking a break can make me feel guilty but no. Preventing myself from overworking and overdoing is significant than anything.

I hope you are doing well and remember to take breaks every now and then. Look up.