Sunday Wisdoms #11

Hello, this is Sunday Wisdoms! Every week for 52 weeks, I’ll share 5 ideas/quotes/passages from my commonplace book that resonated with me during the past week. Occasionally, there will be ideas from me too. Take what you can get. Your mileage may vary.

Check out the past issues of Sunday Wisdoms here.

This is Week 11 out of 52.


Author and artist Austin Kleon wrote in his book Keep Going:

“When you don’t have much time, a routine helps you make the little time you have count. When you have all the time in the world, a routine helps you make sure you don’t waste it.”


Mr. Rogers:

“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 though about it. No matter how anybody says it is, it feels good to have made something.”


Author James Clear:

“Ultimately, the chance to persevere through self-doubt and fear and procrastination is one of the greatest opportunities we have for self-discovery. It is through creating that we find out who we really are and what we are truly made of.”


Marc Chernoff wrote in an article entitled 19 Great Truths My Grandmother Told Me on Her 90th Birthday:

Small, incremental changes always change everything in the long run. – The concept of taking it one step at a time might seem absurdly obvious, but at some point we all get caught up in the moment and find ourselves yearning for instant gratification.  We want what we want, and we want it now!  And this yearning often tricks us into biting off more than we can chew.  So, remind yourself: you can’t lift a thousand pounds all at once, yet you can easily lift one pound a thousand times.  Tiny, repeated efforts will get you there, gradually. “


pastelparrotlet (tumblr username) wrote:

“Isn’t it wonderful how you’re always finding new songs and new books and new shows and new hobbies and new places and new people to fall in love with? There will always be things to love, as long as you stick around to find them.”


Till next week.

Always grateful,

Claire

5 Things That I Want To Guide Me As I Turn 20

In the introduction of their book, So Who’s Counting?, authors Emily Luchetti and Erin McHugh wrote, “But really, things are just beginning to happen. We’re healthier, we live longer than the generations before us; we have later-in-life careers; we go on dating websites; we’re more engaged and travel farther. Older is getting younger every day.

It’s important to note that these two amazing women, Luchetti and McHugh, are both in their 60s at the time of the book publication. That is why their introduction resonated with me so much. They are in their 60s and feel that they still have so much time to do things that they wanted whereas I know a lot of people who are in their 20s that feel like it’s too late to try something new.

In a few days, I’ll turn decades old and there are three things that I want to remember as I’ll begin my journey to another decade wherein I’ll graduate college, get a job, and move out of my parent’s house.

  • To feel as if time is “slowing down”, do/learn something new every day.

I have read countless posts from people in their 20s-40s that say that they feel like time moves faster compared to when they were kids. This is because when we were kids, we are constantly exposed to new things, experiences, and learning. We even have spontaneous night-outs with friends. However, when we graduate from college and get a job, our days somehow get repetitive except for occasional events and day-offs.

Novelty creates the feeling of a “long” day. On the other hand, when we do the same thing every day (ex. wake up-shower-eat-work-eat-work-shower-sleep), it feels like time’s slipping away.

The more I get older, the more I am susceptible to the barrenness of a busy life. I might get caught up with work and one day, I wake up and found out that I am already 33 or 42. 

To savor life and make the most of everything while I am still here, I’ll do something new every day or simply, continuing to follow my curiosities.

Reading a mind-boggling novel. Learning how to *insert any form of art*. Learning a new language. Learning a new topic. Writing my experiences every day. Writing something interesting.

  • Whatever happens, continue doing things that are meaningful to you.

I may be worrying about my studies right now and the next three years or so. But after that, I’ll worry about my job next. There will never be a perfect situation. There will always be something.

One thing that will keep me grounded and have healthier well-being amidst everything is to do the things that I find meaningful.

I struggled a lot during the last few months and one of the things that helped me cope up with it is through interviews and listening to peoples’ stories, sharing it through writing, talking with my friends and family, sun-bathing, writing in my journal, and reading a book. These actions are the typical things that bring joy to my life.

And I hope, even in the succeeding years, I will not forget to choose joy.

  • Optimize, literally, for tomorrow.

This past year, I realize how much of my small daily actions affected my life positively. Reading and writing constantly helped me tremendously in terms of generating ideas- saved me tons of time and I’m able to do more meaningful work. Whatever I do today, it adds up. Just continue.

  • Don’t rush. Live life. Experience it.

This is life. Yes, there are problems, probably, everywhere, but that’s part of life. I may leave the world tomorrow or next year. I might as well take advantage of what’s in front of me right now. Savoring every food my mother cooks. Treasuring the free time that I have from school for my hobbies (because I may never get this chance again when I graduate and have a job). Soaking up the, still, warm sunlight right now because, in a month or two, the sunlight will get too warm that it will hurt my skin whenever I am outside.

Whatever that’s in front of me right now. I am gonna treasure it and experience it fully because I may never have the same opportunity again.

Looking at it more deeply, nothing really changes except that I am much closer to death than the years before and I had a higher number to write/say in a question that asks, “How old are you?”

But, the beauty in birthdays is that it allows you to reassess yourself- your priorities, desires, wants, dreams, and goals. Birthdays are a perfect example of beginning something. If we fail to achieve some goals, there are still 85 more days in a year that we can use to begin again.

This is the list, according to When by Daniel Pink:

  • The first day of the month (twelve)
  • Mondays (fifty-two)
  • The first day of spring, summer, fall, and winter (four)
  • Your country’s Independence Day or the equivalent (one)
  • The day of an important religious holiday—for example, Easter, Rosh Hashanah, Eid al-Fitr (one)
  • A loved one’s birthday (one)
  • The first day of school or the first day of a semester (two)
  • The first day of a new job (one)
  • The day after graduation (one)
  • The first day back from vacation (two)
  • The anniversary of your wedding, first date, or divorce (three)
  • The anniversary of the day you started your job, the day you became a citizen, the day you adopted your dog or cat, the day you graduated from school or university (four)
  • The day you finish this book (one)

Finally, this has been my guiding principle the past year and I still want it to guide my life:

“Doubts in one’s creative ability can be cured by guiding people through a series of small successes. And the experience can have a powerful effect on the rest of their lives.” – Tom Kelley & David Kelley, Creative Confidence

I have insecurities. I have self-doubt. I barely have any confidence. I failed a lot more times than I had ever won. I’ve been to rock-bottom so many times that I think I might have married the “rock bottom” itself.

But every time that I can do something that I thought was impossible for me to do, the little voice in my head that says, “I can do this.” becomes less soft and more assured.

It doesn’t really matter if I have married the rock bottom itself because of my constant visitations within it. It is worth it because I am aware that I get to learn something new whenever I am in there. And when you are at rock bottom, the only way to go is up.

Sunday Wisdoms #10

Hello, this is Sunday Wisdoms! Every week for 52 weeks, I’ll share 5 ideas/quotes/passages from my commonplace book that resonated with me during the past week. Occasionally, there will be ideas from me too. Take what you can get. Your mileage may vary.

Check out the past issues of Sunday Wisdoms here.

This is Week 10 out of 52.


German philosopher Eugen Herrigel:

“The right shot at the right moment does not come because you do not let go of yourself. You do not wait for fulfillment but brace yourself for failure.”


Ram Dass:

“It is important to expect nothing, to take every experience including the negative ones, as merely steps on the path, and to proceed.”


Author Robert Greene:

“Alive time: When you are in control, when you make every second count, when you are learning and improving and growing.

Dead time: When you sit around, when you wait things happen to you.”


Author William Irvine:

“Why is self-discipline worth possessing? Because those who possess it have the ability to determine what they do with their life. Those who lack, will have the path they take through life determined by someone or something else.”


Unknown:

“Are you going to create your own reality or are you going to complain about the reality you’ve been creating by default?”


Till next week.

Always grateful,

Claire

What if I chose the wrong degree?

This question was in my head after reading a newsletter from Srinivas Rao, author of Unmistakable Creative, entitled, “A Letter to An Aspiring Young Writer Struggling to Find Her Way in the World”

A young woman asked Srini, “What can I tell people when I have made the great mistake of choosing the wrong degree?

Srini wrote back, “We all make the best decisions we can with the information we have. Robert Greene once said to me, “no experience in life should be thought of as wasted.” You are not defined or limited by your degree or any other label society places on you.

The road ahead is much longer than you might think it is when you’re 20. You also don’t owe anyone any explanation for your choices, regardless of how they judge you.

…Throughout life, you collect data points or dots. And you probably don’t have a clue how those dots will connect in the future. As Steve Jobs said, you can only connect the dots looking backward. But you have to collect them going forward.

… You might choose the wrong degree, but it doesn’t prevent you from living the life you want to live.”

Their exchange made me reflect. I asked myself, “What if I chose a wrong degree?” Then, I remembered my parents.

My mom studied Nursing in college but thirty years later, she’s now working in Real Estate. My father studied engineering in college and now, he’s working as a delivery rider.

If in the future, I will not be practicing Architecture, the same way that my parents are not practicing their college degree, I don’t think I can say that “I chose a wrong degree.” Having been almost three years in college, I got to learn a lot of skills, learned tons of personal lessons that I might not have learned if I haven’t been in this path, and met tons of amazing people that I would not had met (or even crossed paths with) if I weren’t taking up architecture.

I can only understood life while looking backwards but I can only live it forward. While I look back on my college journey for the past two years, I can say that those things had to happened because they have to happen. I don’t think I am who I am today if it weren’t for those decisions and actions that I made in the past.

There are still things that doesn’t make sense to me. But now, I’m completely at peace with the fact that there are things that I have to go through first or I needed to grow more older to understand a few things.

I learned a lot of things because of my current degree and I am looking forward on how these things that I learned and the wisdoms of the people that I met will affect my life even outside of architecture. As Robert Greene said, no experience is ever wasted.

Sunday Wisdoms #9

Hello, this is Sunday Wisdoms! Every week for 52 weeks, I’ll share 5 ideas/quotes/passages from my commonplace book that resonated with me during the past week. Occasionally, there will be ideas from me too. Take what you can get. Your mileage may vary.

Check out the past issues of Sunday Wisdoms here.

This is Week 9 out of 52.


Author Neil Gaiman:

“The world always seems brighter when you’ve just made something that wasn’t there before.”


Author John Shedd:

“A ship is safe in a harbor, but that is not what ships are built for.”


Author Kurt Vonnegut:

“Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.”


Shane Parrish:

“Writing is the process by which you slowly realize that you do not understand what you are talking about.”


According to KQED.org’s Mindshift podcast:

“Researchers believe that practice helps build up the protective layer of myelin, the fatty substance that protects axons in the brain. Axons move electrical signals from the brain to our muscles and when they are better protected by thick myelin they move more efficiently, creating an ‘information superhighway’ between the brain and muscles.”


Till next week.

Always grateful,

Claire

Paying More Attention To Life

Artist and author Austin Keon wrote in his book, Keep Going, “Attention is the most basic form of love,” wrote John Tarrant. When you pay attention to your life, it not only provides you with the material for your art, it also helps you fall in love with your life.

This month, February, Claire’s Essays celebrates its first anniversary. For over a year, I published more than 150 posts and reached almost 150k views. From the bottom of my heart, I am grateful to you and to everyone who reads my essays or blog posts. Paraphrasing from the words of author Kurt Vonnegut, I hope through reading my posts, I used your time in such a way that you will feel that your time was not wasted.

If there’s one thing that changed throughout my year of blogging, its that I paid attention more.

Personally, I noticed subtle changes in my mood and my behaviour more often. I noticed the environment around me quite often too. Whenever sunlight hits me, I would take a moment to savor it. When I’m eating something that mom has prepared, I’ll make audible reactions that infers that the food is amaaazing. When I’m reading a good book, I’ll exclaim in my mind how grateful I am that I found again another great book. Everytime I wake up in the morning, I smile- excited for another day ahead.

These are the things that I feel that I do not savor much but as I blogged about my day or my life over the days, I feel like they are magic waiting for me to recognize and acknowledge them.

It was more than two years ago when I was roaming around Fully Booked in Cubao and then I stopped in my tracks as soon as my eyes landed on this quote from Ben Franklin, written on a notebook they were selling, “Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”

I pondered on that quote althroughout my whole ride and I even wrote it on the first page of my journal because I do not want to forget it ever.

I think that quote straight up summarizes my life. I just write something that is worth reading for me (because I think of myself as an audience) or I will do something that I can write about after.

As weeks and months of blogging passed, I noticed how I read more, how I write more, and how I connected ideas because of my wide reading.

Whenever I am jotting down what happened to the day that passed, I took note of my mood and try to compare it with the other days. That’s how I became more aware of what activities should I do less, what activities do I have to do more, when should I write, when is the perfect time to start a book, and when is the time to halt academic work and do the activities that stimulate me.

Blogging aided me to become more aware of myself and the surroundings around me (paying attention). And by paying more attention, I fall in love with life more.

Author Rob Walker wrote in his newsletter, “[O]ne of my favorite responses to a willfully open-ended prompt I give my students — I order them to “practice paying attention” — came from a student who thought he did it wrong. He had made a planter, he explained, for a cactus. He’d done this, he said, on the theory that “by nurturing or caring for something, you pay more attention to it.” And of course he was right!”

I even applied this in my studies. I wasn’t a bit interested in Plumbing before, but I was reminded of Rob Walker’s words and so around last year, on our 3rd class meeting in Plumbing for the semester, I started paying attention. I listened attentively to our professor and taking notes diligently. I even replay class recordings when I missed something. Thankfully, even if I did not paid attention during the previous meetings, I can still understand the lessons that came. Soon enough, I found myself interested in plumbing and understanding the basic principles. I even made a post about it.

In short, the more I pay attention to myself, to the people, and the world around me, the more I love life.

An act of care first, then the love comes.

Sunday Wisdoms #8

Hello, this is Sunday Wisdoms! Every week for 52 weeks, I’ll share 5 ideas/quotes/passages from my commonplace book that resonated with me during the past week. Occasionally, there will be ideas from me too. Take what you can get. Your mileage may vary. Check out the past issues of Sunday Wisdoms here. This is Week 8 out of 52.
Ryan Holiday: “Now in the mornings, when I journal, I try to do this as often as I can. I try to find ways to express gratitude not for the things that are easy to be grateful for, but for what is hard. Gratitude for that nagging pain in my leg, gratitude for that troublesome client, gratitude for that delayed flight, gratitude for that damage from the storm. Because it’s making me take things slow, because it’s helping me develop better boundaries, because some flights are going to be delayed and I’m glad it wasn’t a more important flight, because the damage could have been worse, because the damage exposed a more serious problem that now we’re solving. And on and on.”
In Making Peace with the Road Not Taken, Jesse Browner wrote, “When we accept that our future is not ever what we envisioned it to be, but what we make of it upon arrival, we allow ourselves to move forward and accept that there is not one true future ahead of us, but multiple futures, just as there is not one past but multiple pasts behind us.”
Elizabeth Gilbert: Recognizing that people’s reactions don’t belong to you is the only sane way to create. If people enjoy what you’ve created, terrific. If people ignore what you’ve created, too bad. If people misunderstand what you’ve created, don’t sweat it. And what if people absolutely hate what you’ve created? What if people attack you with savage vitriol, and insult your intelligence, and malign your motives, and drag your good name through the mud? Just smile sweetly and suggest – as politely as you possibly can – that they go make their own fucking art. Then stubbornly continue making yours.”
Paul Graham wrote:

“For the young especially, much of this confusion is induced by the artificial situations they find themselves in. In middle school and high school, what the other kids think of you seems the most important thing in the world. But when you ask adults what they got wrong at that age, nearly all say they cared too much what other kids thought of them.

One heuristic for distinguishing stuff that matters is to ask yourself whether you’ll care about it in the future. Fake stuff that matters usually has a sharp peak of seeming to matter. That’s how it tricks you. The area under the curve is small, but its shape jabs into your consciousness like a pin.”
Idea from me:
I cannot go from Level 0 to Level 1000 like some time-travelling fella. I have to go through and experience every single level and be patient with the hope and awareness that the more work I do, the more I get better at doing it.


Till next week. Last 10 days of the longest semester of my university life.
Always grateful, Claire

It is with quantity that one leads to quality work.

In their book, Art & Fear, Ted Orland and David Bayles wrote, “The ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work, they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality…. Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity. it seems that while the “quantity” group was busily churning out piles of work—and learning from their mistakes—the “quality” group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and piles of dead clay.”

Ever since I took up BS Architecture two years ago (even without prior experience in coloring and drawing), one of the many realizations that I had is that my blocmates are skilled in rendering and drawing better than I am (not a surprise) not because they have talent and I don’t have it or God has favorites and unfortunately, I am not. But rather, it is because they have done it a thousand times or even more.

Our pastor shared a story from the documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi. Jiro Ono, a Japanese chef who is considered around the world as the best sushi maker, had a new apprentice. Jiro told him to cook an egg. He cooked one and showed it to Jiro but after looking at it for only a few seconds, Jiro rejected it and told him to try again. This went on for two years. Until finally, Jiro said this is okay.

Jiro’s new apprentice wasn’t talented or even started out knowing how to cook a proper egg. In other words, he did not have any advantage. But by doing it for a hundred, probably even a thousand times, for two years, he finally mastered it.

In the same way, my blocmates are extremely great at rendering and drawing because they had put in a lot of work whereas I am just starting out. An article in DO Lectures blog states, “We have to understand doing our best work is a journey. We don’t start off being brilliant. We start off at ‘mediocre’. Then we go to ‘not too bad’. Then we go to ‘OK’. Then we go to ‘good’. Then eventually we arrive at ‘excellent’. And, occasionally we will go to ‘great’.”

Last January, I started learning how to watercolor. Honestly, it terrified me. I feel like I have to watch more YouTube tutorials on how to watercolor before I can finally start doing but it is through doing that I learn and so I started.

It feels frustrating. This gap between how I wanted my work to look like and how my current work looks like. But I become more patient. I cannot go from Level 0 to Level 100 right away. I had to go through each and every level.

Before, whenever I think of using watercolor, I started having anxious thoughts and soon I’ll find myself procrastinating because I’m avoiding this feeling of fear of creating a bad work. Right now, I am extremely comfortable using it that I just picked it up right away whenever I need to render.

Author james Clear wrote, “Your 1st blog post will be bad, but your 100th will be great. Your 1st workout will be weak, but your 1000th will be strong. Your 1st meditation will be scattered, but your 1000th will be focused. Put in your reps.”

There is no secret on how to be great at what you do. Its by doing and putting in a lot of work that we get better. No shortcuts. Just doing.

Whenever I am doing an academic work, there are times when I just blurt, “This is not nice.” but then I’ll remind myself that I am just starting out. I have to create bad work in order to know what’s better. It is by doing something a thousand or a million times that we can be better at it.

It is with quantity that one leads to quality work.

Sunday Wisdoms #7

Hello, this is Sunday Wisdoms! Every week for 52 weeks, I’ll share 5 ideas/quotes/passages from my commonplace book that resonated with me during the past week. Occasionally, there will be ideas from me too. Take what you can get. Your mileage may vary. Check out the past issues of Sunday Wisdoms here. This is Week 7 out of 52.
Athlete Jackie Joyner-Korsee: “For me the joy of athletics has never resided in winning… I derive just as much happiness from the process as from the results. I don’tmind losing as long as I see improvement or I feel I’ve done as well as i possibly could. If I lose, I just go back to the travk and work some more.”
Writer Rebecca Solnit: “Hope is an embrace of the unknown and the unknowable. ”
Victor Frankl: “He who knows the why for his existence can bear almost any how.”
Marcus Aurelius: “It can ruin your life only if it ruins your character.”
Ryan Holiday: “Living is an active term. We must have the courageto get out and do, to make the first move to act and direct our course. A passive existence is one in which life happens to us, and often not for the better.”
Till next week. Always grateful, Claire

Sunday Wisdoms #6

Hello, this is Sunday Wisdoms! Every week for 52 weeks, I’ll share 5 ideas/quotes/passages from my commonplace book that resonated with me during the past week. Occasionally, there will be ideas from me too. Take what you can get. Your mileage may vary.

Check out the past issues of Sunday Wisdoms here.

This is Week 6 out of 52.


Cleo Wade, Heart Talk:

“Oftentimes when the world feels chaotic, we begin to feel as if it is somehow inappropriate to have joy. Have your joy. Joy is a form of radical self-care. Joy energizes us to take on even the most difficult circumstances. When we have joy, especially in the midst of challenging times, we are saying to the world “I will define the current state of the world around me instead of allowing it to define me.” Today, regardless of what is happening, empower yourself by embracing your joy.”


Written on Farnam street blog:

“We learn from our mistakes when we screw up and fail, we learn how not to handle things. We learn what not to do.”


Author C.S. Lewis:

“You cannot go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.”


Angela Duckworth, Grit:

“Do not let temporary setbacks become permanent excuses.”


Author and artist Austin Kleon:

“Now, it might seem like a stretch, but I really think the best thing you can do as an artist or a creative person is pretend you’re Phil Connors in Groundhog Day: there’s no tomorrow, there’s no chance of success, there’s no chance of failure, there’s just the day, and what you can do with it.”


Till next week.

Always grateful,

Claire