Sunday Wisdoms #5

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 5 out of 52.


Musician, artist, and songwriter Morgan Harper Nichols:

“You have not seen everything you were meant to see. You have not met everyone you were meant to meet. You have not done all the things you were meant to do. You have not traveled to all the places you were meant to travel to. You have seen a lot of the ocean, but there are still further depths. Take heart, breathe deep. You are far from finished yet.”


Content creator Dinara wrote:

“I think we have a lot of fear about the unknown which makes sense. but the unknown doesn’t have to be scary. I realized I can ask questions like: I wonder what will bring me happiness in the future? what pleasant surprises will I encounter? what beautiful places will life take me? instead of “what if I fail, what if I never find xyz, etc”. It’s been life-changing. I’m in an anticipation of something positive. I’m not in fear.”


Author James Clear:

“We often avoid taking action because we think “I need to learn more,” but the best way to learn is often by taking action.”


Author Marissa Orr

“After a particularly bad breakup many years ago, I read a line in a book that said something like: our sadness isn’t always about losing the person or relationship, but from losing the dream we had for our lives. That one hit me right in the gut. Day to day, this person and our relationship were making me miserable. Being free of that turmoil should have been an objective improvement in my life. So why was I so sad?

This line made me realize I was mourning the loss of a dream or the story I had for my life. While I couldn’t control the other person or how they acted towards me, I could always write a new story for my life. And that shift in perspective gave me a sense of control in a situation where I otherwise felt powerless. It didn’t cause an immediate or dramatic change in my day to day activity, but over the long term, it empowered me to gain control over the direction of my life.”


Esther Perel:

“Life will present you with unexpected opportunities, and you won’t always know in advance which are the important moments. Above all, its the quality of your relationships that will determine the quality of your life. Invest in your connections, even those that seem inconsequential.”


Till next week.

Always grateful,

Claire

If this is isn’t nice, I don’t know what is

Content creator Ali Abdaal shared his favorite quote from Kurt Vonnegut,

And I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.

And I think this is one of the things that I continously think about these past few days.

When I’m sipping my hot choco during the morning, or when I’m drawing, or reading a really good book, or writing, or just lying on my bed after a long day, I think about this: If this isn’t nice, then I don’t know what is.

It allows me to be more grateful in the present and whenever I just think about that sentence, my face will immediately light up and I’ll smile. It helps me to remember that I am a human, I have feelings and emotions, and I enjoy what I do and I am living my best life.

Everday is not a holiday or vacation. In fact, most of the everyday life are mundane moments and being able to appreciate the smallest things and not taking for granted anything is the life itself.

Isn’t that enough?

As someone who has been creating contents for a while now, I had this moments wherein I’m watching the sun, spending time with my family, or just being still and then at the back of my mind, I would just think that ‘Oh I could be writing right now.’ because I have to write a lot in order to grow or ‘I could be making progress in academic stuffs right now.’

Youtuber and doctor Ali Abdaal had simailar moments and he shared that he would go back to this quote by Derek Sivers:

Never forget why you’re really doing what you’re doing. Are you helping people? Are they happy? Are you happy? Are you profitable? Isn’t that enough?” (scratch off the profitable for me sksksks)

Kidding aside, because I’m so focused towards growing that sometimes it takes me away off the experience of the present or living life.

What I currently have now is enough (by my standards). Sometimes, I don’t always have to reach for something or someplace and just be contented in where I am—doing my work well while also living life well.

Just had this thoughts while watching a vlog from Ali Abdaal. (Go check his channel guys! I’m now into Notion because of him)

Terrified

Alex Pina, creator of the hit Netflix series—Money Heist—mentioned in the documentary about the said show, “I get up every morning feeling terrified before filming. Always.”

And as the ending credits rolled in, what he said stayed in my mind, “…terrified…”

And the reason why it stayed with me throughout the whole night is because I am too is terrified. I’m terrified of a lot of things.

Before I slept, I just bursted out crying. I’m terrified that I would not be able to do what I am here for; that somehow along the way, I might get lost(?) or I would let my parents down or I would not finish my major plate due in a few weeks or I would not survive ’till December or I would be the kind of parent that I promise I would not be to my future child and a lot of things that made me feel terrified. I just let it all out.

I accept that I have emotions and so, I just cried. I know that I will feel better, once I let it all out.

When I’m done, I reaffirmed myself. I am enough, I am loved, and I am worthy.

It’s okay to feel afraid because being afraid—or terrified even—means that I’m doing something out of my comfort zone and that’s amazing. What’s important is how you don’t let fear impede you from doing just like Alex Pina is doing. He is terrified, yes, but he still continues to do despite it.

I remember what the costume designer of the film Black Panther, Ruth Carter, said when people ask her how was it like working for Black Panther and she says, “Oh, yeah! I go home and cry in my pillow every night because I’m scared.”

Honestly, I love how vulnerable and honest they are to what they feel because I do not believe that there is a state wherein you are ‘fearless’. People have fears and yet, they still do their work regardless. I respect them so much for that.

In one way or another, we all are suffering. We all have fears. Its okay to cry, rest, and take the time to realign your priorities. But just like what Mrs. Ruth Carter and Mr. Alex Pina do, we have to continue to do our work—what we are here for—because living is what we do.

Yellow-Orange Lining

A literal yellow-orange lining. Photo is from me ofc

Pain is neither unbearable nor unending, as long as you keep in mind its limits and don’t magnify them in your imagination.” – Marcus Aurelius

Today, I am in pain for a mistake. While I recognize that my mistake is not something that will kill me but rather it is more of an embarrassment, I found my palms cold because of nervousness.

I found myself overthinking and panicking as soon as I learned of my mistake. I became aware of it quickly and retreated into a quiet room in our home. There, I stayed for an hour and listened to music. At the same time, I opened the window and watched the sky. That is when I saw the yellow-orange lining.

I found some clarity. First, looking at the sky reminded me that I am just a small speck of dust here on Earth. It made smile because it means that I should not dwell so much on embarrassments and failures- on unnecessary things. I should focus more on what I can learn, what more can I do, and doing things I enjoy.

Second, embarrasment and pain means that I am doing something new. It means that I am doing something out of my comfort zone and that thought alone gave me joy. I am walking towards growth.

Lastly, at the end of the day, you decided whether that single moment will determine your whole day or not. Then, I remember that earlier in the morning, I completed a short story about war on drugs– something that is bugging my mind for days now. I finally wrote it and accomplished it after focusing on it for almost 4 hours! My embarrassment dissipated and instead, the joy of having created something filled me up. The embarrassment I felt seemed so small. Because I did the work. I did something that I love.

In your everyday, I hope you find your yellow-orange lining too. Your feelings are valid and you are allowed to feel it. However, be careful and make sure the pain do not blew out of proportion.

Written: Oct 2

Posted: Oct 5

Small successes

It’s August. I’m blogging in two blog accounts- one for personal and one for design. Also, I’m a feature writer for the student publication of my College.

How have I come to the point where I’m just writing? A few years ago, I’m part of a student publication as well and yet, even for once, I had never published an article. Because I was afraid. I had no confidence in my writing skills and the fact that my article will be published in public just makes me nauseous. I just wanted to be a wallflower. No matter how much people says that I should just write one and submit it, I just can’t. Fear of failure and embarassment hindered me from writing publicly.

Fast forward to now, I’m in an another student publication for a month now and although, I can still feel my heart palpitating and my stomach churning whenever my article is published, I still write. I still publish.

What’s change? I owe it all to my small success there past few months.

Last March, I read Creative Confidence by Tom Kelley and David Kelley. One chapter discussed about Prof. Albert Bandura’s guided mastery on how people can overcome their deepest fears and phobias. His research involved getting the participants achieve small successes and by the end, because of the confidence that they got from the small successes, they were able to overcome their deepest fears.

I’m interested in psychology so much that I tried it. I want to be able to learn how to be calm in sharing my work publicly and just doing it regardless of what others may perceive. I chose to start in a small way: creating a personal blog and commit to publishing articles. I figured that this is a great way to start since I would not bother anyone, it is just me. One post after another, I can feel that I’m caring less more of what other people will perceive to just writing. Just doing it. When I’m not writing on my blog, I write on my journal and I read. Reading is where I’ll get ideas on what to write. Hence, I make it my top priority.

I got an idea for another blog last June and opened it last July. It is a blog about architecture, spaces, and objects that empathizes with people. I’m fascinated so much about human-centered design and I saw the lack of information about it, hence, I collect as much hcd as I can and publish every other day. I hope that this will get more designers to practice hcd.

I got an opportunity to be a board member for a student publication and I almost rejected it. And not because, I’m afraid of publishing my work publicly (even I was surprised that I did not even think about fear of embarrassment) but because I want to continously commit to my both of my blogs. But then, after some thought, I accepted the board member position as a feature editor because I want to talk more to people and write articles that brings out human-ness. A few weeks later, I’m publishing feature articles publicly (sometimes my name is on them).

I still feel fear, yes. I kind of figure that it may not go away, it just proves that I’m still human. However, I’m learning more on doing things despite fear and focusing more on the things that are important. Every time my article is publish, I can still feel my stomach churning. Before an interview with a student I will feature, my stomach aches and my heart pumps wildly. I am still learning how to overcome that feeling.

But, I’m just glad that I am now more confident in doing what I love and just doing it. I may not even have met the people I had interviewed for the school paper if I haven’t started out publishing publicly here in my blog. Their amazing stories now has influenced my life and I am so grateful!

The small successes of yesterday compounded and prepared me for today. I got strength from the efforts of my past me. Right now, its not what people may think but more of what more can I write?

Whatever you fear to do, do something small first. It’s not an overnight success. But if you do it every day, you will end up really amazing and overcoming what you though you can’t do!

I never imagined that I’ll be interviewing various people to feature and I’ll be a board member of a school publication. I am just so afraid back then. But now, I’m improving. I’m on a journey that I had never imagined and I hope you too.

I hope you can apply small successes in your life. And I hope you are doing well too.

I’m gonna take me seriously.

I’m gonna take me seriously…

These are words from designer Ruth Carter’s poem Seriously. She performed Seriously in her own episode on Abstract: The Art of Design Season 2.

Seriously
I’m gonna take ME seriously.
Now.
I’ve taken school, parents, friends, poets seriously.
I’ve known the cracker to be seriously dangerous.
 I’ve taken daytime nighttime rhetoric seriously
and been wounded by lovers of slick black rapping.
I’m gonna look in a mirror each time I pass one
and smile at my image sayin’.
 “Yeah, sister, it ain’t easy,
but move on beautifully past it.
Keep holdin’ your head higher
‘cause your best is yet to come.”
I’m gonna take me seriously.
Today.
Now.
And study myself.
Get a PhD in Ruth Carter
and dare anyone to be an authority on me.
‘Cause I’ll be wounded with Ruth’s beauty, learning, love
and will be dangerous.
I’m gonna be serious about me and live.

Ruth Carter is the costume designer for the film Black Panther and many more films. She shared that she does not want the clothes that she designs to be labeled as ‘costumes’. Ruth wanted the clothes to look like something that those people would wear if it was in real life. She also addresses the prejudice that she designs costumes because she loves fashion or sewing. No. She wants to tell stories.

I love the fact that she gives utmost attention to every detail in each costume she design. In totality, the clothes that she designs for a character must show their personality and history. In Black Panther, the clothes of every character in the film have been greatly influenced by the clothing of earlier African tribes. Ruth Carter definitely does not only tell stories of culture and personality through her designs but also making sure that they are historically correct.

Her sensitivity and empathy are what make her work amazing. At one part of the episode in Abstract: Art of Design, Ruth Carter shared her answer when people ask her about her process in designing costumes for Black Panther, she was like, “Oh, yeah! I go home and cry in my pillow every night because I’m scared.”

That statement was on point. While I was creating an artwork, I was so stressed because it did not turn in a way that I imagined it to look like. The whole process made me question the multitude of research studies that conclude, “Art is therapy.” In retrospect, I did relax the next day after completing that artwork because I don’t have it bugging my mind anymore.

In connection with the poem, I felt this warmth while watching Ruth Carter performs it. The line

Yeah, sister, it ain’t easy, but move beautifully on past it. Keep holding your head higher, ’cause your best is yet to come.

hit me differently.

Creating art is not easy. That is a given. However, I have to do it because how will I ever get better at it if I ain’t gonna, do it?

I’m gonna take myself seriously and live.

Gap Year Stories: July– Second Month

I used to describe June, the first month of my gap year as ‘the calm before the storm’. Because July is where I will officially start my internship plus, I have two blogs that I need to regularly update. However, now that July is over, I never felt like it was a storm. Sure, there were moments wherein my stomach churns because I was nervous about the article that I wrote for my internship. But after two days of it being posted publicly, I did not worry about my article anymore, I was off to write another article for my blog.

Anyone can fight the battles of just one day. It is only when you and I add the battles of those two awful eternities, yesterday and tomorrow, that we break down. It is not the experience of today that drives us mad. It is the remorse or bitterness for something that happened yesterday or the dread of what tomorrow may bring. Let us, therefore, do our best to live but one day at a time. – Richmond Walker

For the month of July, I truly embodied the “living one day at a time”. Those were moments where I felt miserable but they are only moments, they do not last for the following weeks. The next day, they will be gone because it’s a whole new day, a new chance to live better.

Before July even started, I was nervous that I might not fulfill the projects that I committed myself to. Now, in retrospect, I realize that I underestimated what I can handle. I worried a lot about the hypothetical outcomes that I made up myself.

James Clear wrote,

Action forces prioritization.

If you’re stuck deciding between options, force yourself to act. You can only act on one thing at a time, which means you will have to make something the top priority.

Even if you pick wrong, you’ll learn something.

One of the things that improved this month is how I do. Usually, I spent a lot of time worrying before doing something. For example, I tend to overthink how long it will take to finish something instead of just starting. But I learned something from one of James Clear’s newsletters,

Stop worrying about how long it will take and get started. Time will pass either way.

Also, since I had more commitments last July (more than what I was used to), I relied so much on a system. I have days scheduled for writing, proofreading, and researching respectively. I finally but unconsciously established a routine that works for me this quarantine (this was a long trial-and-error process). My routine and system kept me afloat for the whole month without going crazy because of the things that I need to do,

In my Gap Year Stories: June- First Month blog post, I wrote that I’ll focus on researching design works that empathize with people (for my Empathy in Design blog and of course for educating myself as well) and I did accomplish that (my logbook says so).

The month of July has been an exploration plus a lot of time reflecting. It seems ironic that the month which was supposed to be hectic for me because of the responsibilities that I need to do turned out to be a month full of learning and self-reflection (I even posted more than 20 posts here in my website for July. A personal record!). I’ll credit my system for this feat.

Lastly, I think whatever happens self-reflection is what matters. Is what am I doing effective? If not, how could I iterate it? Why am I feeling like this? Am I doing things worth the time? Am I doing something that helps others whether in a tangible or intangible way?

This wonderful quote is from Marie Curie:

You cannot hope to build a better world without improving the individuals. To that end, each of us must work for his own improvement, and at the same time share a general responsibility for all humanity, our particular duty being to aid those to whom we think we can be most useful.

 

Reading to Improve Work

Novelist Jennifer Egan stated in an interview, “Reading is the nourishment that lets you do interesting work.”

All of my blog posts and projects are based on everything that I read. I read the books recommended by artists that I look up to in order to understand how they come up with their works.

I’ll take this time to recommend articles that I believe are worth reading and worth the time:

  • 19 Great Truths My Grandmother Told Me on Her 90th Birthday

The willingness to do hard things opens great windows of opportunity. – One of the most important abilities you can develop in life is the willingness to accept and grow through times of difficulty and discomfort.  Because the best things are often hard to come by, at least initially.  And if you shy away from difficulty and discomfort, you’ll miss out on them entirely. Marc & Angel. (https://www.marcandangel.com/2018/03/25/19-great-truths-my-grandmother-told-me-on-her-90th-birthday/)

  • The 15-Minute Routine Anthony Trollope Used to Write 40+ Books

“It had at this time become my custom,—and is still my custom, though of late I have become a little lenient of myself—to write with my watch before me, and to require of myself 250 words every quarter of an hour…

This division of time allowed me to produce over ten pages of an ordinary novel volume a day, and if kept up through ten months, would have given as its results three novels of three volumes each in the year…” —Anthony Trollope. James Clear. (https://jamesclear.com/anthony-trollope)

  • Shonda Rhimes ’91 Delivers a Lesson-Packed Commencement Address

Ditch the dream and be a doer, not a dreamer. Maybe you know exactly what it is you dream of being, or maybe you’re paralyzed because you have no idea what your passion is. The truth is, it doesn’t matter. You don’t have to know. You just have to keep moving forward. You just have to keep doing something, seizing the next opportunity, staying open to trying something new. It doesn’t have to fit your vision of the perfect job or the perfect life. Perfect is boring and dreams are not real. Just … do. So you think, “I wish I could travel.” Great. Sell your crappy car, buy a ticket to Bangkok, and go. Right now. I’m serious.

You want to be a writer? A writer is someone who writes every day, so start writing. Darthmouth College. (https://250.dartmouth.edu/highlights/shonda-rhimes-91-delivers-lesson-packed-commencement-address)

  • The Case For Letting Kids Design Their Own Play

In the same way that some girls like to build things, climb trees, and poke dead things, some boys want to play house, wear pink, and avoid mud. Boys should be encouraged to wear pink tutus. Girls should be encouraged to use hammers. Performing gender, class, race, and careers is the beginning of learning empathy. More specifically, through open-ended play they have the agency to understand their identity as their own to invent and define.

When children have agency in their play, they learn to have agency in their lives. The instructions we should give to children? Don’t wait for someone to tell you who and what to be–jump in and figure it out. Fast Company. (https://www.fastcompany.com/3048508/the-case-for-letting-kids-design-their-own-play)

I hope by reading these articles, we can produce even better works. Let us continue learning, growing, and improving. Author James Clear wrote, “You choose the future with your actions each day.

“You cannot be really first-rate at your work if your work is all you are.”

Author Anna Quindlen wrote,

“There are thousands of people out there with the same degree you have; when you get a job, there will be thousands of people doing what you want to do for a living. But you are the only person alive who has sole custody of your life. Your particular life. Your entire life. Not just your life at a desk, or your life on the bus, or in the car, or at the computer. Not just the life of your mind, but the life of your heart. Not just your bank account, but your soul.

People don’t talk about the soul very much anymore. It’s so much easier to write a résumé than to craft a spirit. But a résumé is cold comfort on a winter night, or when you’re sad, or broke, or lonely, or when you’ve gotten back the chest X ray and it doesn’t look so good, or when the doctor writes “prognosis, poor.”

… You cannot be really first-rate at your work if your work is all you are.”

When I started studying the lives of people I look up to– understanding how they created their works, I reached the same conclusion as Anna Quindlen wrote: These people have experiences in their lives or hobbies that they had applied to their works. Basically, their works are amazing because they put their souls into it. Not just their work.

  • Architect Arakawa, one of the designers of Reversible Destiny Lofts, believed that architecture can prevent death if we immerse our bodies in a challenging environment (such as the Reversible Destiny Lofts) on a regular basis. Arakawa, actually, studied medicine during his college years before he went to study architecture.
  • Former mayor Edi Rama of Tirana in Albania organized a crew of painters to paint the whole city in an attempt to save the then, “dead city”. Tirana in Albania was once voted as one of the worst cities in Europe but that changed when buildings in the city were painted in vibrant colors that Edi Rama chose himself. Edi Rama was an artist by training. This is maybe why he had the idea of painting the city. Even though there were no police patrolling even before the painting initiative, residents reported that they felt safe out in the streets. People stopped throwing trash on the streets. Business owners took off metal grates from their shop windows. Five years after the initiative, businesses in Tirana tripled. This would not happen if Edi Rama did not apply his art skills in his work.
  • In 1989, the Shinkansen Bullet train in Japan was loud as it comes out of a tunnel that it causes inconvenience to residential areas. The problem was solved because of Eiji Nakatsu, the general manager of the technical team and a bird watcher. Mr. Nakatsu’s knowledge of birds helped the team is looking for solutions on how they could make the train, travel quieter after passing through a tunnel. This video by Vox explains how the Shinkansen Bullet train parts mimic birds:
  • Illusionist Andrew Evans is a product designer at IDEO, integrating wonder into everyday experiences like commuting and shopping. He had obtained a magic kit as a present when he was a kid. Eventually, he started reading books about magic, worked at a magic shop, and performed at birthday parties of kids. He attended Brown University, its library had one of the biggest collections of books about magic worldwide. Currently, he still performs magic shows.
  • Ted Geisel aka Dr. Seuss had spent his entire childhood at Fairfield Street. When he was a kid, he frequented the local library, zoo (where his dad works), and the local park. Parades are also frequent at Fairfield street which he usually anticipated. Dr. Seuss credited his experiences in Fairfield street for everything that he had created.

All of the people I mentioned above have something in common: their work is not all who they are. They had souls, hobbies, and past experiences; and their works reflected it. This is the part where ‘Be Yourself’ comes in. They had integrated their hobbies and past experiences into their work. Hence, now, I continue to immerse myself in my hobbies even if some of them are totally unrelated to the professional job title that society expects me to obtain after I graduate. Somehow, along the line, I will learn to integrate my hobbies into designing experiences, places, and products for people.

This is also to say to people, who got comments from other people to stop what you love doing because it is totally unrelated to the degree-related work that they think you should get once you graduate, do not stop. Everything from the books you read, movies you watched, the projects you created, places you go to- makes up who you are. Our works today is a result of what we consume.