My hair freshly dyed green by D, sparklers and beer at the Deck of Vask (that would have had a great view of NYE fireworks, except smoke enveloped even the building closest to us), sleeping in for hours... Smooth workdays, watching movies at home, then reading a message that I had only two hours to see my friend before he's gone—two hours later.

That's how this year began.

Like many, I wanted to look back on 2015 but what cancer did to Kenny, one of the few whom I consider my best friend, underlined my desperate need to instead look forward, to improve myself and how I am with my relationships.

We're not really the type to make New Year's resolutions, but D and I vowed to be there more for our family and friends. It was just too convenient to say we're too busy—though it was true most of the time. I mean we could push our limits almost always for work, so how unfortunate it was that we couldn't do the same, if not better, for ourselves and the people we cared for.

I want this year to be lived with intention, as I had the years before. I want to go out there with a bit more effort to reach out, be accepting, and be encouraging. I want this to be another year with D when we'll be able to do personal projects that get our minds going, that make us feel proud. And though it's one of my biggest fears, the strong probability she'll work and stay far from me is something I need to get over, because the world needs her passion. I want to just go, say yes, take initiative, be spontaneous, be present.

Maybe this is grief, burnout or PMS talking, but I am trying so hard to sound so positive.


My favorite inspirations on Instagram

The creative drought has come to me, and I have run out of things to post on Instagram. Mostly because my phone's storage space has been occupied by screencaps, and photos of things I don't particularly like but have to take anyway for reference. I'm also too lazy to stage and compose photos anymore. Lately I go online just to get inspired by some of my favorite artists, hoping their creativity rubs off on me – whether for posting stuff online or for doing things off the grid.

As someone who wears a lot of black, I grow tired of seeing black/white/gray stuff that are not clothing. It might be an assault to the senses for some, but big bursts of color are my favorite to look at when I'm not feeling very pleasant. Liz Payne here is a textile artist who uses thread and fabric to create fantastic tapestries (which she sometimes sells as prints). I have the utmost respect for someone who not only has that artistic mind but who also has that much patience!

Dusen Dusen's fabric prints are much like Marimekko, in that they are abstract and unapologetically bold without being cloyingly cute and sweet. From time to time they also collaborate with other artists, the most recent one being High Low Jewelry, whose clay pieces I covet (and dream of making hehehe).

I like Eloisa Iturbe's page because I never know what to expect from her next. It could be a collage or a pattern, a random street shot or a mess of things – but I trust that the colors and compositions will draw me in, every single time. It's not an artwork that screams at your face, begging for attention, and in turn your eyes just wander and you get this overall sense of harmony. Rather melodramatic, I know, but it does happen!

You know how your feed sometimes gets saturated with romantic calligraphy, watercolor flowers that seem effortless and every one of them ends up looking the same? I tried my hand with those and realized that I'm never really the type to create something polished. And as frustrating as that can be, it's okay. That's why Ashkahn's work speaks to me. His doodles, some of which end up as cards, are imperfect and they work! They're cheeky and irreverent, too, and humor is something I love about artworks more than their overall look.

There are plenty more I check on Instagram religiously, these are but a few. Surely there are millions out there whose works I'd ogle at, if I only knew them (if only they tagged their posts, too!).

Just a quick reminder before starting the week...

...to take care of yourself and the people you hold dear, and to do your absolute best to keep them your priority.

Excel at home, wherever that may be, as you excel at work. You cannot be a caring partner, a doting family member, a productive employee – you cannot be the best, happiest person you can be – if you cannot take care of yourself first.

Live well.

Monday's 10 Things That Make My Anxiety Worse

Funny to be listing these on a Monday, totally opposite of the Friday's 10 Happy Things exercise which I have failed to do for a while now. 

But just so you know, this won't be a weekly cathartic routine. I just haven't been my best self in months ("having low creative morale," as I call it) and all aspects of my life have suffered because of it. So, please allow me to unload the bad juju right quick with a short list of things that drain the life out of me faster than caffeine can kick in my system:

  1. Having several tabs open in my browser. I can't close one unless I've finished doing a task in it (i.e., read everything, taken notes, etc.). Like a to-do list, but an expanded version.
  2. Listening to music. *GASP!* I don't know if I've just been listening to too much hip-hop/dance-y tunes lately, but it has come to a point where my brain feels like unraveling anytime I hear anything at all. I'm in a constant state of disquiet, it seems, and knowing that I can't escape my own thoughts doesn't soothe me the least bit.
  3. Late night or early morning phone notifications of any sort. My phone's on Do Not Disturb on weekends, especially on Sundays and even on holidays.
  4. Having so many creative projects I want to do and am actually capable of finishing, if only I didn't have even more chores that need to be done at the same time.
  5. Being excited to accomplish long-term goals and getting sidetracked by other adult things that need attention right away.

  6. Sitting in traffic, waiting for a ride and all things that waste time that could have been spent doing #4 or with family or for resting, etc.
  7. That feeling of urgency that guilt-trips you into doing ALL THE STUFF on your days off when you need to/want to hide under the covers and binge-eat Ma Ling, because we've been taught that idleness is laziness, when it is not always the case.
  8. Having to sit in gossip-centered conversations about people I don't know/care about. Call me self-absorbed but when other people's business have no business in my life, expect me to check out of that convo.
  9. Phone calls. I've changed my ringtone a handful of times because I've subconsciously associated some with urgent and unwelcome calls.
  10. Being fully aware of how badly your anxiety has become and how much of a burden you have been to others and to yourself; wanting to better yourself and yet failing at it, every time. It's a disaster.

I'm praying so hard to have a smooth-sailing week ahead or, in positive-speak, to have the clarity, grace, and strength for whatever comes my way. Remind me to have a sinful slice or two of chocolate cake on Friday... if I survive. It's a temporary solution but a relief just the same.

Can you recommend other things to keep stress well managed? Do I just need to #UnplugForADay (or a month)??

I hope your week goes well. Happy Monday!