The first quarter of 2016 is almost over. It’s only been three months but I can already consider the CBTL Giving Journal one of my greatest blessings this year. It not only helps me keep track of my daily schedule but also provides motivation to live my life fruitfully, with its features like the Monthly Themes and Weekly Pages (Make The Shift, Ask Yourself, Challenge of the Month, Pay It Forward).
I previewed all twelve themes and I must say, considering what I plan for each month, they are indeed very timely. This is long overdue but to keep up with my plan to write about the themes individually, let’s look back at the theme for January — CREATE: Brew Your Best Masterpiece.
Creativity is one word I would not dare associate myself with. Rules and structure practically reign over my life. However, the thrill occasional (!) spontaneity gives me do not go unnoticed. The excitement randomness brings is enough motivation for me to explore my creative side and hopefully find an appropriate avenue to share it.
To inspire the onset of this discovery, I read Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear and to facilitate the process of discovery, Gretchen Rubin’s Better Than Before: Mastering The Habits Of Our Everyday Lives. Reading these two books—in that order—gave me enough reason WHY I should embrace creativity and HOW I can enhance it. (This is not the first time I mentioned these books. They are truly highly recommended!)
CREATE: Brew Your Best Masterpiece. It all began in January with this theme. One of the Weekly Pages that month (3rd week, Challenge of the Month)suggested that I create a vision board… the theme + vision board = lightbulb moment! This is the perfect first creative project! Collecting magazine cutouts, fliers, and other materials to be used reminded me of how much I enjoyed scrapbooking… another lightbulb moment! Aside from creating a vision board that would show events to look forward to, why don’t I turn it into something that would also hold memories to look back at? Hello, memory trackers.
These are 12 8.25″ x 4.5″ black, unlined notepads, handmade and customized by Sketchnotes. They are to be filled with polaroids, receipts, tickets, and other mementos that would remind me of the experiences I will have AND make happen this year. For the cover, I requested Eilyn to write the name of the month and my biblical verse for the year, Romans 12:12.
She was also kind enough to give me this decorative note, which is now the favorite thing I have on my work desk. Once again, thanks Eilyn! You are amazing!
Here are some of my favorite pages from the first quarter:
polaroids and pin from the school fair
flower petals, movie tickets and a note to remind me of the month-long Valentine’s Day celebration I had
receipts from my go-to fro-yo place to monitor the search for the perfect combination of toppings
I would normally just paste these items and quickly write descriptions. I am in the process of designing a system that would enable me to create entries as often as possible and make them as creative as I can. Hopefully, I’ll get to implement that “system” next month.
CREATE: Brew Your Best Masterpiece. Right now, I’d have to say these memory trackers are my best tangible masterpiece, not because of the design and decorations, but because of the memories they hold. Ultimately, the best masterpiece I am currently brewing is a life well-lived. ♥
“It is never too late to start again, never too early to look ahead.”
If there’s one thing I firmly believe in, it is the possibility of starting over. This statement gives me hope. It encourages me to let go, with the hope that better things will come. It urges me to get started, with the hope that everything will fall into place in God’s perfect time. It pushes me to choose a goal, claim it, and above all, start working on it now.
New year. New beginning. New year is probably the best motivation there is to get started with anything. It calls for change but also demands continuity. From what I reckoned, whatever you want to start on January 1st and pursue requires preparation — something that cannot be done overnight. I spent the last two months of 2015 reflecting, sorting, and selecting habits, possessions, and memories to keep and to let go of. The process was a rollercoaster ride. It made me feel good and brought about satisfaction; then again, it also made me feel bad and brought about regret. After everything, there was only one thing left to do… move on.
Make the shift. One of my realizations last year is that I wasted so much time waiting, worrying, and doing other things that are irrelevant. I also spent too much on things I do not really need. This year, one of my goals is to be more reflective and to find ways to make each day count. In preparation, I read this amazing book: Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives by Gretchen Rubin.
When I say that reading this book changed my life, I am not even exaggerating. This book has become a manual. I always keep this in my bedside so I can always refer to it for guidelines. I have discovered a lot about myself because of this book, such as my being an upholder, a lark, a marathoner, etc. Your life will truly be better than before after reading this book.
Make the shift. Each day presents itself as a mini adventure. Despite having habits I consistently follow, I have learned to always be open to new things… including new products. After experiencing an embarrassing breakout in 2013, I promised myself I would take better care of my face. Clinique and Cetaphil (and occasional trips to the dermatologist) did their trick but after discovering Céleteque by accident in December, I decided it was worth the shift.
I was at the mall preparing for an overnight activity when I realized I forgot my facial wash and moisturizer at home. I was looking for another brand but found this instead… and I could not be happier with the results. These products are hypo-allergenic and affordable. Plus, they come in the cutest traveler’s kit. What more could I ask for?
Make the shift. One thing that I really need to change is my disposition. Me vs pessimism — this has been going on for as long as I can remember. I am way beyond my childhood/teenage years but the issues I’ve had, mostly self-initiated, never left me. By merely acknowledging that I am in a constant battle with such negativity, I am putting it under control.
“You were made to be blessed and to be a blessing.”
This mantra compels me to recognize God’s blessings in all forms — time, people, relationships, possessions, work, events, and from what I reckoned, even sufferings. There are things in life I pray and work hard for but have not achieved yet. Keeping this statement in mind allows me to remain hopeful and at peace as I wait for God’s perfect time.
Make the shift. Making memories and preserving them helps me reflect and live life more meaningfully. This year, I am also making the shift by returning to the classics — handwritten letters, journals, polaroids and printed photographs. I remember using my mother’s polaroid camera as a child and waiting patiently and excitedly for the images to appear. I tried reviving her camera in 2012 but sadly, it was already beyond repair. I used some of my savings then to purchase one instead. I still use the same camera up to now…it’s definitely worth it! Until I save enough for a new one (I have my eye on the Instax Wide 210!), I’ll be carrying this baby everywhere!
I have always been a big fan of anything handwritten. Similar to how I balance reading paperbacks and digital books, I also try to write—not type—as often as I can. Late last year, I discovered an online shop that sells handmade and customized notepads. They use materials of high quality and the products come in different colors and sizes. I always carry one in my purse for spontaneous writing opportunities. (Check out sketchnotes! Thanks, Eilyn!)
Let this last photo also be my shoutout to my haven, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. It’s my first time to collect stickers for a planner but CBTL made it so easy. I wasn’t surprised when I got my planner in just a couple of weeks. In fact, I got the idea for this post from the first weekly page of The Giving Journal. It’s only been less than a month yet the inspiration it gives me to live fruitfully already overflows.
It took me a while to realize it but 2015 was a great year — I cried; I laughed. I failed; I succeeded. I gave up (compromised); I hoped. I apologized; I forgave. I lost; I gained. I let go; I held on (still holding on). And because of all these, I learned.
How about you? How did you make the shift?
“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”
The importance of reading as a skill cannot be overemphasized. Because November is Library Month in our school, I made an effort, although minimal, to update my reading list and increase my reading time. Thanks to the many recommendations readily available, updating my reading list was made easy. However, because of a lot of social activities, finding time to read is quite hard for me nowadays. The only time I have is at night and, as expected, reading in bed always leads to me falling asleep right away. For that reason, I only get to read a few pages each day. Nevertheless, I am happy with my little but consistent progress.
In line with my ongoing fascination for the tiny discoveries I make here and there, here are my three good reads this November:
1. Reader’s Digest
I regularly spend time with my grandparents, even as a child. One of the many great things I got from them is the habit of reading. Both my maternal and paternal grandparents have wonderful book collections. I always find joy in discovering something special in their libraries, like my mother’s 2nd grade Math book and my father’s barely used notebook from high school (which I got to use!). Reader’s Digest is one magazine that is loved by my lolos, who were both subscribers.
When I started working three years ago, I decided to start my own Reader’s Digest collection. At that time, it served as motivation for me to continue the habit of reading regularly despite busy schedules. I have always enjoyed reading articles from this magazine because they are very timely, informative and inspiring. It has also been very helpful because it urges me to manage my idle time. Instead of spending so much time online, I read while waiting for my school ride, for meetings to start, and even while eating lunch. Because I am always pressed for time lately, I find reading short articles more enjoyable and reasonable than reading chapters of novels. Too many pauses just spoil the latter.
What made my monthly purchase special this November is that it came with the May issue, the very one I lost earlier this year right after buying it. I tried everything to get a hold of that copy: I looked everywhere at home, went to several bookstores to get it as a back issue, and approached the distributors in a book fair.. all to no avail. And so, finding out I will get it for free (buy 2 for the price of 1 promo) just made me believe in destiny more.
Update: Just yesterday, I purchased the December issue which completes my 2015 collection. (Hooray!)
2. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear
Big Magic: Creative Living Without Fear is a book written by Elizabeth Gilbert, THE Eat-Pray-Love Elizabeth Gilbert. I found this in Essena O’Neill’s website (letsbegamechangers.com). I have different and somewhat contrasting opinions about Essena’s view on social media. I neither completely agree nor disagree with her but I do respect and understand the motive behind her movement. I bookmarked her website and read her poems, write-ups about vegetarianism, healthy recipes, and the like. This book is one of her recommendations under her Game Changing STUFF tab.
I have not finished reading it yet but I find it very interesting and relatable. I have always considered myself lacking of creativity as I rely mostly on facts and details and consistently follow rules and structure. Reading this book slowly opens my eyes (and heart) to the idea that I may actually have more creativity inside me, encourages me to explore it, and eventually (hopefully), to find the means to express it.
3. Push by BJ Pascual
I should say something about the book right now before I start gushing about how beautiful this cover is (Yep, I like this girl! #shamelessrevelation). It is described by Raymond Ang in the foreword as “…a challenge to the generation — a generation that has never been accused of wanting for potential, but short of the focus to make good on that promise.” I could not move on from that part without highlighting it..
I am no photographer and yes, it is the girl on the cover that primarily urged me to buy the book, but after reading it, I can say that I definitely got more than just an amazing cover. Reading this alongside Big Magic elevated my interest in creativity and admiration for people who live their passion for it.
I was so delighted after I finished the book that I spontaneously sent BJ Pascual a message congratulating him and thanking him for the inspiration, to which he sincerely responded. #fangirlmoment
Here’s to a more creative life achieved through reading!
Kung Pao Chicken pasta is one of my favorite homemade recipes.. let me be more specific and say, my sister’s Kung Pao Chicken pasta is one of my favorite homemade recipes. There are so many wonderful family memories I can affiliate with this delicious food — Sundays at home, get togethers with relatives and neighbors, and the kitchen chaos that comes with the process of food making.
She watches a lot of cooking shows so, initially, I thought she got her inspiration from one of her shows. I did not think she was serious when she told me she just grabbed the ready-to-pour Kung Pao sauce from the grocery and modified the recipe.
Before anything else, I would like to thank my little sister for allowing me to share this recipe. It brings me (us) so much joy so I hope it will make you happy too. Enjoy!