Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Here's to the real you



I love that. I love anything that reminds me that I have permission to mess up and I always love a good Go Ahead And Mess Things Up permission slip from hot mama Danielle. 

But. 

Today is not going to be about mess-ups, no ma'am, because today, we're talking about Jian.


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

That A Word

Strawberries from Ontario and Blueberries from Chile





Antioxidants. 

That word.  We've never heard that said back in the day.  If ever we did, it was not often enough that it became mainstream.  I think it's because back in the days of my childhood in Davao City by the sea - oh, Lord, I feel old! - there were fewer poisons.  


Monday, January 21, 2013

Stick-To-It-ness and Happy Monday, Inartéstas!

"Find what works for you and stick to it!" ~ Amanda, Creator of FridayLoveSong.net


The Flora Illumina Series
©KatShots Photography, 2010


There's no denying it.  We live in the myopic age of Attention Deficit Disorder or ADD.  Diagnosed or not, whether we admit it or not, you and I experience it in different degrees.  Many times over in a single day.  Imagine that.  In one day.  One...day...

Now where was I.  Oh, yes.  Short attention span.  Sorry. :)  

The world has gotten so very, very fast.  Even faster for us who grew up in the laid-back 70s and 80s without all these gadgets that get upgraded weekly and become obsolete every other hour.  Remember slowly digging in the dirt?  Sigh.  

I've learned to pray before any creative task now.  If I go by my own puny non-existent will, it'd be midnight before I get to the page and by then, my brain is mush.  It takes me superhuman brainpower to get any task done, especially if it's got to do with The Work.

Case in point:  I planned to sit down and write this post at 12:00 noon.  After giving the kids breakfast  (it's PD Day in these parts) and bonding over funny stories about dreams and nightmares.  Sacred stuff.  All good.  First Job, check!  

But the question remains: Did I really need two hours of puttering?  It is now 2:48pm.    Yes, my office table is dusted and very tidy.  I've emptied a couple of bins of its month old rubble.  I've had a quick hi-and-goodbye chat with dear friend, Marjo.  While I'm writing this, a quarter of my brain is on the pot roast in the oven and another part is calculating the time it takes to get Oona's three batches of cookies and Chocolate Cherry Mice project done just in time to get to Mom and Daughter Yoga.


             

"Why do it then, girlie!?"  

I see my PYS Diva Monster is in the house.  
"Just leave it be.  Chi-i-ill.  (Interesting that the word "ill" is in "chill".)  Why the battle with the dragon when you could simply bake and sample those cookies and continue with the next episode of Drop Dead Diva?"


Answers HERE.



Good times. Good times.  You see, my dear reader, I share this with you to let you see the underbelly of keeping to one's true nature.  As hot-guru-mama, Danielle LaPorte shares so eloquently ~  Following your intuition ain't always an act of grace -- it can be a total grind. You will have to burn things. You might sweat, toil and dig dig dig to do what you know must be done. Following your intuition might call on you to do the hardest thing you've ever done in your life. 

Like Amanda, the powerhouse behind FridayLoveSong said, it has never been so important to find what works for us and sticking to it.  

Here's a list of my tried and true.  If I'm able to stick with the program, then my wills are sure to work for that day.  If I don't, you're sure to meet Moody Mommy at the door on your visit!  It's a cycle of give and take.  At the end of the day, everything is, my darling.  

What Works for Me

1)  Writing the Morning Pages
2)  Daily (or best and sincere effort) of morning workout with...
3)  Music.  Must.Have.Music, preferrably the motivating, heart-thumping kind, during the workout.
4)  Creative connections and inspirations.  Taking time to *meet* with them.
5)  The GreenLight Angels.*  Acknowledging them each time I get a pass.
6)  Hugs
7)  Color*full toys, i.e. doodling pages, pens, journals, and Instagram.
8)  Solo Mama Moments.  Weekly.  At the very least.
9)  Sharing.  Courageously and with vulnerability.  One and the same thing, really.
10)  Green smoothie drinks!  Iyou, Vitamix.

And now that I've done my part and slayed the dragon of resistance for yet another day, I can continue joy*fully onto my other jobs with ease and grace and less drag.

What works for you?  It's always good to bring out these tools more often. Listing them down helps.  ðŸ˜˜

Wishing you creative ease and stick-to-it-ness,





Sunday, January 20, 2013

12 Things | It feels so good to connect with you again.

Jan. 15, 2013 @ Sheridan Nurseries Limited, Mississauga ©KatShotsPhotography

Jan. 15, 2013 @ Sheridan Nurseries Limited, Mississauga ©KatShotsPhotography
Thing 1 ~ I've fallen in love - hard - with macro photography.  I'm head-over-heels and like a fellow photographer friend, Zeetzjones said, "Naku, may naa-adik na." which is Filipino for "Oh my, someone's getting addicted." :)

It's really one of the healthiest kinds of addiction, this business of creating things, don't you think?  I use the Squidcam and am very happy with the results.  Many thanks to amazing macro artists Teresa Franco and Maria for showing me the way.

Potted pink flowers I got myself - that's right, I got these for me! - and then photographed with my then brand new Squidcam.  Used the fisheye on this one.


Thing 2 ~ Celebrated Birthday #45 this week!  First, we surprised the kids and pulled them out of school midday to have a birthday brunch with us at our favorite Sunset Grill.  Then J and I took off for our reserved overnight stay for two at the Old Mill in Toronto.  I was extra-happy-dance-happy because Samantha at the front desk moved us from a King Room to a large Suite!  I say a little prayer of thanks to the gods of upgrades and relaxing and fun moments for this. 




Suite 503 had a receiving room with a desk and a stereo that was already playing my favorite classics (plus points for that, Old Mill!), a living area with a fireplace and heavy drapes...DRAPES and many lamps all over.  I love a well-lit room.


We also had a kitchenette and dining area with and a table for my writing toys, of course!


Mega plus points for the whirlpool in the very large bathroom practically the size of my office. :)  It had the jet bubble thingies, baby!   

We are definitely coming back, Old Mill, thank you very much. Next time with the kiddos.  You have exceeded our expectations in a grand way.  I just love when that happens.  Bonus when it happens on your birthday!

As I was saying...45th and right smack midlife, assuming we reach the 90's, and no crisis here, Thank You.  Well, let's wait 'til menopause and see how it goes then.  I've heard a lot of close-to-horrible accounts from dear girlfriends about how it can range from uncomfortable to downright unbearable, those heat-flashes and hormonal imbalances and mood swings!  Which is why I've decided, wholehearted to embrace...




Thing 3 ~ My Green 2013 Plan!  It all began with little aches and pains here and there.  Elbow, what's that annoying ache you're showing me today?  Tennis, anyone?  Man, I don't even play the game and I have what?! Tennis elbow?!?  Jack says it's a condition that's quite common and gives me his standard "Don't worry about it!" He then bought me an elbow brace to wear during my workouts.  Sigh.  My sweetheart.  Thanks, my love.  It still bugs me though.  There are other pains, I suspect are psychosomatic and chemical imbalances.  Then there's the fogginess one can't shake off even after mugs of coffee!  Some people will conveniently say: Ah, we're just getting old!  In a great part, true.  But my gut tells me, both literally and figuratively, that it's the abuse I've been putting my body through all these years!  The Pinoy diet isn't exactly a healthy one.  I've loved on my Spam and Sarangani Sardines and Palm Corned Beef, the longganisas and crispy patas and bacon, oh, I love you, bacon.  Salty-sweet deliciously umame poisons from childhood eating habits that need to be controlled if not completely removed from our diets now.  We know better, we do better, right?  My grand plan is to fight back with everything I've got.  

Enter, The Vitamix. 

Yes, it deserves that much reverence, this thing some call the "Lamborghini of Blenders", for what it's done for me.



Big thanks, too, to my positive and beloved influences like Myrna and Grace who have shown me the value of eating more raw foods and greens and the carb-less/no-carb way, I've been at it for almost three months now - first with my  

Hamilton Beach blender and last month, this powerhouse got me gobbling down gloppy green smoothies  which, I swear by the green gods, has given me much  more clarity and a better, firmer handle on my moods.  Bad foods, especially carbohydrates/sugars, simply bring out the monster in me, plain and simple.

One of my regular morning smoothies: grapes or apples, kale, half a banana, bell peppers, pineapple, almonds and flax seeds.  Blended to 10 for a smooth and velvety green and nutritious glop!

My present-favorite Sweet Cherry Tomato soup recipe.  I simply add a handful of tomatoes and parsley or basil.  After blending to a fine liquid, I add it to my already sautéed garlic and onions in a pan.  Light and fresh and very yummy!

















Things 4 to 11 ~  My toys. They make me happy.  ^_^



Anybody who says grownups can't have toys is one very sad body.  Toy #1, The Premium Sketchbook, I discovered while browsing the paper section at my happy place, Chapters.  The pages have perforations so it tears beautifully for when you want to give your artwork as gifts to friends and family.

Toy #2, I like the Staedtler triples fine liner that doesn't get dry even when you leave it open for days and isn't that amazing!  Especially when you have little ones who love to borrow your stuff and forget that pens have caps. :p) along with the newly discovered Faber Castel Pitt Artists Pens in 4 sizes: S,F, M, and B.  S being my favorite because it's super fine!  





The colorful paper Toys #s 3, 4, 5 and 6, I found at Walmart while searching for just the right family calendar for the kitchen.  I love the colours and designs so much that I got the whole set: the 2013 planner with pockets inside for papers (for work), the weekly planner (for family activities), the project planner for all the projects I dream-up and will make real in 2013 and of course, the journal which keeps my morning pages.  I was smiling so much that my dear J thought I was going just a bit nuts "over paper".  You'll never understand, my love.  You'll never quite understand.

Toys #10 and #11, the iPhone4s now has its twin Squidcam attached to it at all times got more interesting and fun because of it.  Same with the iPad since I got the green case for it.  It used to have a sturdy but boring black case for it.  Color does add life to things.  

Thing 12 ~ I love snailmail!  

Here are some of the birthday goodies I got this week from dear friends from all over:



Eternity Scarf from Zeetsjones and Wanderfoot


My very own "Fat/Calorie/Guilt-free" handmade chocolate cake from my BFF-since-U.P.-days, Myrna V. 

My BFF also made a moustachioed
 mug cozy for the Hubster and cute Angry Birds characters and a pink donut for the kids!




Rediscovering the simple joys of snail mail in this lightning fast world of instant messaging is something that I'm very grateful for.  I cherish Vina's inspiration on this one - she's been doing the the Swap project for a while now.

I'm ending where I started, with these inspiring words from Seth Godin's latest book, The Icarus Deception ~

We are all artists now, and the connection economy we're living in relentlessly rewards those who do work that matters.  Okay, you knew that.  So why aren't you?

For a long time, I stopped connecting, and let the monsters take control.  It's time to start again (and again and again) and it feels sooooo good!  The writing and sharing are their own rewards.  

Looking forward to connecting with you more and praying to God and Her muses that this continues in 2013 and beyond!!

Courage in creativity,





Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Doodling For Moodling


I've been doodling.  Often.  Almost daily since October, since The PYS Diva Monster descended upon my blogger's bones.  I turned to doodling and invested myself wholeheartedly into it perhaps for (creative) survival.  The writer's block was in full force just then so I found another outlet which I've always enjoyed since childhood.

First it was mainly out of frustration.  I was overwhelmed with things to do and my mood was mostly in the muddy pits. Oy, the many things to do!  I didn't have Tita Naty, our new housekeeper, not yet, and J was on another business trip. I also found out that our Manila holiday which I've been looking forward to all year was not going to happen.  A feeling of desolation hung heavy in the almost Christmas-y air.

So with energy and motivation and mood at its lowest and not at all feeling like tidying up another room in the house, I turned to my journal pages instead like I always do when I'm desperate for escape.  I happened to pick the one by Jen Lee called Take Me With You, a journal for the journey, and turned to the page that said: A Doodle Page, (No writing here please).  So I did.  I produced one very basic, elementary doodle, the kind that one creates while on the phone with a girlfriend and talking about nothing and everything.


Then, five, maybe ten minutes into it, something clicked inside my now much quieter head: Follow that lead and interview the recommended housekeeper.  Not later, not tomorrow, NOW.


You see, I received a text two days prior about a potential housekeeper and was procrastinating and instead of calling, was putting up with the craziness and overwhelm.  (How often do we do this?!)  Turns out, the recommendation was good as gold and it was the best lead in the whole year of searching on and off.  We are in the process of hiring her.  YAY!  More time to doodle.



Now what does hiring someone or stress management have to do with the doodling experience, you may ask?  Here's my simple answer: the right-brain doodling opens and allows for space inside my head.  I was, if only momentarily, able to breathe easy and plan better.  Most times, it's all about taking an honest breath.  Easier said than done, I know.  Yet here's what one gentle and wise woman says about it:




Sarah Ban Breathnack, in her bestselling book and one of my favorite daily reads, Simple Abundance writes, "Carve out time for personal pursuits that bring contentment...Isak Dinesen arranged flowers.  Katharine Hepburn whiled away the long stretches on movie sets by knitting.  Queen Victoria filled dozens of sketchbooks with charming watercolors of her children that reveal a glimpse of the real woman who delighted in holding a brush when not ruling an empire."

I doodled.  I continued after that one mind-taking-a-breath experience.



We moms may not have an empire to rule as Queen Victoria did but we do have a home, and yes, gratefully, a much smaller kingdom.  But rule we do, just the same.  We owe it to ourselves and our beloved subjects to be sane while we do so.

Ms. Breathnach continues, "Space and time to nurture our creativity may be one of our authentic hungers.  Perhaps we think that only food, drink, work, sex, shopping, or pills can reduce the gnawing to a dull throb.  But maybe if we took an hour a day to paint, to plot, or to throw pots we wouldn't be in pain - physical or psychic.  Just maybe."

Maybe?  Personally, I think for surely!

Tell me:  What do YOU do to help with the overwhelm and stuckness?  I'd really like to know how others do it and if ever you've found a fool-proof way to overcome the muddy moodies, naturally, of course.  ;)

To breathing easy,
Chiqui


Resistance and Unhappiness


A doodle from December, 2012.  It's one of my favorite unblocking tools.


Enter The Dragon

An artist, once she gets to her canvas, whatever form it takes - the musical instrument, her kitchen's pots and pans, the blank page - may remain there for long hours on end.  It's almost like she goes into a trance in the morning and doesn't know that the sun has set already.  This is the gift of real creativity.  Here's the thing though: getting the artist's butt down on the chair is very tricky simply because there's no time clock to punch time-in.  We procrastinate, we putter, we hyper-organize.  I know I do. I once de-cluttered my work space for a whole month justifying that I can't work if there's chaos around me.  After clearing the space, I still didn't do any real work immediately until I finally talked myself into it.  Resistance is strong and real and very powerful especially during the cold, winter months, in my experience.

When the dragon of resistance comes breathing its fiery breath on me, I get scared into a corner and have to rally and cheer-lead and motivational self-talk myself out of it.  What if I don't have the energy to do it?  Hello, Boss, are you there?  Sorry, nobody named Boss here is the reply I get.  You chose the No Boss life two decades ago, remember?  But, but, what am I going to do?

So I go to my heroes.  There are many, thank The Muses, and these are my go-to authors and speakers who speak about the whole experience of creating and resisting and climbing the mountain every single time.  Sometimes painstakingly but always, ALWAYS with exhilarating results.  Daily.

One such hero is Steven Pressfield.  This is what he says about the dragon ~

What does Resistance feel like?
First, unhappiness.  We feel like hell.  A low-grade misery pervades everything.  We’re bored, we’re restless.  We can’t get to satisfaction.  There’s guilt but we can’t put our finger on the source.  We want to go back to bed; we want to get up and party.  We feel unloved and unlovable.  We’re disgusted.  We hate our lives.  We hate ourselves.
Unalleviated, Resistance mounts to a pitch that becomes unendurable.  At this point vices kick in.  Dope, adultery, web surfing.
Beyond that, Resistance becomes clinical.  Depression, aggression, dysfunction.  Then actual crime and physical self-destruction.
Sounds like life, I know.  It isn’t.  It’s Resistance.
What makes it tricky is that we live in a consumer culture that’s acutely aware of this unhappiness and has massed all its profit-seeking artillery to exploit it.  By selling us a product, a drug, a distraction.  John Lennon once wrote:
Well, you think you’re so clever
and classless and free
But you’re all fucking peasants
As far as I can see
As artists and professionals it is our obligation to enact our own internal revolution, a private insurrection inside our own skulls.  In this uprising we free ourselves from the tyranny of consumer culture.  We overthrow the programming of advertising, movies, video games, magazines, TV, and MTV by which we have been hypnotized from the cradle.  We unplug ourselves from the grid by recognizing that we will never cure our restlessness by contributing our disposable income to the bottom line of Bullshit, Inc., but only by doing our work.


If you'll read just one book this year, 2013, make it The War Of Art by Steven Pressfield.  Trust me.  Life-flipping-changing. ;)

With gratitude to MissAshton for the typeset/text of the quote from the book on her blog.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Monster!

Meet My Monster

I die a little when I don't get to share my creativity.  I know this about myself.  I suspect you feel this way about your own creativity, too.  Sometimes?  Often?  Never?!?  Are you even human?!!!  My monsters are relentless and loud and strong and they want to protect me.  There's this one in particular who goes by the name of The PYS which is short for The Protective Yet Shaming Diva Monster who finally showed herself to me yesterday.  Here's a quick sketch for you ~





The Conversation Between The PYS and I

Me:  Hello?  Hello...you in there.  Which monster are you that's causing all this fear and blockage and doom?

It Who Hasn't Been Named Nor Seen Yet: How dare you!  I'm the one that's been protecting and caring for your welfare all this time and you don't even know my name?  Shame on you!  (Man, she's shrill.)

Me:  Ohh, k.  Ok.  Um...you're The Protective Yet Shaming Diva Monster?  (I just made that up out of sheer panic.  But luckily for me...)

The PYS: You got it!  Ha.  Shame.  Shame!  So what's this thing I hear you want to begin yet again.  All this after you've abandoned your blog for this long?  This....long!  After you've yet failed to keep
to your schedules and meticulously organized plans of making your offerings and things and...pshhaw!  

Psshaw and other monster words

Me:  Pshhaw?

The PYS: Pshhhhhhaw, indeed!

Me:  Sigh.  I know, I know.  I hear you.  And I am tempted to feel so shamed and get stuck and continue in this "safe" place of not doing.  But I...

The PYS:  But....not!  No buts!  Stop right there while you're ahead. Stay.Safe.  You got it, girlie? S.a.f.e.  Now go and watch another show on Netflix or simply organize your workspace and that KatShots file alphabetically now.  Go, go, hop to it!  No more thinking...

Me:  (Amused)  Thank you.  I know you're here to protect me but I'm fine.  Really.  There's too much stuck-ness pain!  If I allow for this stuckness to continue, if I let Le Resistance win yet again, then I'll be in real pain and so will my loved ones for how miserable I'll be!

The PYS: WHAT?  What the heck are you talking about?!?  Aren't you scared of the backlash?  The...the...the whiplash?!  You think I'm shrill?!? The tongue-lashing critics are out there!  The naysayers and the very ones that will say you've gotten all crrrrazy for talking to your(monster)self here!  Don't even get me started with the "Wala Kang Magawa Ano?" Gang (Nothing to do, eh?) who hate artists because secretly, they want to make art but are simply too chickenshit scared to do so.

Me: Er, yes.  You're right.  They are out there.  But I'm willing to ship in spite of them because I know there are more who will appreciate what I share with them and

The PYS: Nooo!  No, no, no.  Stay safe and let me protect you.  Don't you want me to protect you?  *shudder-and-shake*

Me: (Man, The PYS is getting quite dramatic.) Thank you, PYS.  I really appreciate all this.  I'm good.  You can watch from your perch.  If I get hurt, you'll be there and then you can protect me.  But we will continue with our creating, together and I promise not to attempt to kill you off anymore.  I know now that that's nowhere possible.  Friends?

The PYS: Are you sure?  I don't wanna die.  

Me:  We're not gonna die.  Promise.

The PYS:  I don't want to get hurt.

Me:  Now, that I can't promise.  If you get hurt, I'll be here with you and we can hurt together.  And we won't die, that I pinky promise you.

The PYS:  I guess...you're right.  In reality, I've known that all along.  It's just that Jean, Gorgé, Pete and Reggie keep telling me lies and I hear them all day long and ...

Me: Jean, George, Pete and Reggie?

The PYS: These damned creatures on my head!

The quick sketch ~



Me:  Haaaaaa!!!  My Monster has her own monsters!  No wonder we're so stuck!!!  

And on and on it went for a while until I think them monsters got bored, thanfully, and fell sleep.

The Sun Will Come Out

Tomorrow, I'll be sharing a post called Doodling For Moodling along with some of my favorite tricks on how to get myself creating and unblocked, every.day.

Do YOU have your very own monsters inside your head?  Heart?  Perched on your shoulder?  Would you be brave enough to name them and share them here with me?

Above post inspired by Seth Godin's The Icarus Deception and Brené Brown's Daring Greatly and to my fellow Inartestas who know and feel the daily battle with the dragon called Resistance.