create and grow happily

Category: Personal Growth (page 1 of 2)

A mishmash soup

For years, I’ve always had it drilled in my mind that every human being – nay, every living being – in this here planet is made up of a mishmash soup of so many contradicting things.

This idea started quite innocently in my angsty teenage years. That I am made up of so many contradicting things. A walking contradiction, if you may. Sassy yet shy, loud yet quiet, hopeful yet emo. (oh god, I was too emo akssksks)

But that thought really drove itself home to me when, years later in college, I watched a video essay on Hayao Miyazaki. It was about so many good Miyazaki things, but mostly it tackled on how brilliantly he instilled in his works the idea that everyone has both a good side and a bad side. I even wrote a post inspired by this same essay! If you’ve watched any of his films – particularly, Princess Mononoke and Nausicaa – you know what I mean.

But over the past couple of years, I’ve come to realise how this Gray Area Thinking is applicable in every aspect of life.

And this is my focus for 2020. Not a word, not a goal, not even a project. (Even though I love words and I’m rebuilding my relationship with goals and I have damn too many projects.)

I want to remind myself that seemingly contradicting things can exist at the same time and that this is natural for so many things in life.

Yes, I am a hopeless romantic and love reading kilig stories. But I don’t necessarily feel that kind of romance in my life – and that’s a-okay!

Yes, I enjoy interacting on social media and sharing very personal parts of my life online. But I also enjoy my privacy and have every right to firmly establish my boundaries whenever for the sake of my own wellbeing.

Yes, I worry for our environment. But I also love to eat meat and use leather products – and I will do so in the most sustainable and practical way possible.

Yes, I will always seek self-improvement. But I also need to practice accepting myself for who I am at this very moment.

Yes, life is short and we’ll all die, one way or another. But that does not mean I will readily submit to my fated end without proactively seeking a life well lived on my own terms.

Yes, we all need to try and get out of our comfort zone in order to grow. But we also need to acknowledge the peace it brings at times when things get too overwhelming.

Yes, positivity is important. But acknowledging the negative things help too.

Yes, we are all entitled to our own opinion. But it does not need to come at the expense of others getting hurt.

Yes, we have to be mindful of how our actions affect other people. But this does not mean we need to be Mind Readers and instantly know what the other person is thinking.

Absolutes only exist in the rarest of places like in the fields of science and data programming. (I guess. I think…?)

This used to make me anxious. If I can’t know whether someone or something is good or bad, how am I supposed to choose? But with every new day, I realise the kind of freedom it offers. I no longer have to place things in neat boxes. All I need to do is imagine things – all the things – thrown in one huge cauldron. Something can be sweet while also having a hint of spiciness. One can be good but it can also be bad, and vice versa.

Paradoxical truths exist all around us. And we are all made up of mishmash soup of seemingly contradicting things. The whole lot of us. Things aren’t as black and white as one may perceive. The Gray Area is a vast, far-reaching creature. It blurs the line from either side of the spectrum.


For more reading on the paradoxes of life, check out the articles below:

Hayao Miyazaki – The Essence of Humanity*

*The video link above is a re-upload as the channel who made it, The Cinema Cartography (previously known as Channel Criswell), has deleted the original video.

Two things can be true at once – Kind over Matter

Straight and Curly Podcast Episode 128: How to Sit with Multiple Things Being True at Once

5 Paradoxes of Life You Must Embrace if You Want to be Successful

Photo by Vladislav Babienko via Unsplash

A Case Against 21st Century’s Biggest Career and Life Advice

“Follow Your Passion”

I feel like this has been the go-to advice people give to others. Like ceramic cherubs are the go-to souvenirs in weddings, and McDonald’s is the go-to place for eating greasy food. (Except in the Philippines. We kneel only for our lord and master, Jollibee.)

And I have a problem with that. (The advice, not Jollibee.)

Let me be clear, though. I do not completely, wholeheartedly hate this advice. I am all for going after what you love and seeking your own version of joy in life through the things you are passionate about. Whenever I come across inspiring stories of people finding success in doing things they love, I telepathically send my congratulations and throw them colorful confetti.

But I have a bone to pick with how “follow your passion” has somehow become penicillin. A cure-all advice for any career and life woes.

Not sure what you wanna do? Follow your passion.

Unhappy with your job? Follow your passion!

Wanna be successful? Follow! Your! Passion!

orange glove gesturing stop with greenery background

STOP.

 

I know this as someone who was given this same advice for many career and life struggles. Be that with my career, or with my identity as a creative, or with life as a whole. It was such a shiny new thing, this advice. So I heeded it and expended most of my energy into it.

To be fair, for a while, it worked. But that’s the thing with “follow your passion”: it only works for a while.

Why “Follow Your Passion” is A Bad Advice to Give

The more I think about it, the more I realize that “follow your passion” is a McAdvice. It’s a short-term fix for hunger, not supposed to be the sole composition of your entire diet. When I said I had a bone to pick with this McAdvice, I was lying. I have three bones to pick.

First off, it’s vague af

You know how in stories, the most clichéd answer to “Where are we going?” is “You’ll know it when we get there.”

Every single time I hear that line, I want to hURL something across the room.

It’s up there in my list of “Top 10 Clichés I Want Thanos-Snapped and Gone Forever.” And the reason why I hate that line is the same reason why I find “follow your passion” a bad advice. It’s vague as fuck.

Is it helpful? Perhaps. But can you go anywhere with this advice alone? I don’t think so.

You start thinking it’s that One Thing™

You know, as much as it’s good being told you’ve got that one thing by five good-looking boys, that’s not the case when it comes to finding and following your passion.

And “follow your passion” implies that you can only be passionate about one thing in your entire life.

People aren’t only passionate about just one thing. At least not everyone. Which is why I find it ridiculous advising others to find that one passion and follow that one passion for, like, ever.

As the popular saying goes, “Change is the only constant thing in this world.” Life itself is naturally fluid and flexible. The things we loved as kids may not be something we love now. I used to think McDonald’s burger was the superior burger but now I believe Jollibee’s have the best fast food burger. And even my burger loyalty may change in the future!

Why, then, must we limit our passions — the prime sources of inner exhilaration and excitement — to just one thing?

“Follow your passion” makes everything seem so freaking easy

There is this notion that by following your passion, the rest will just fall into place. Admittedly, that’s quite romantic but it’s also disregarding the nuances and complexities of life.

“Follow your passion” is an advice that does not consider human’s inherent changing nature.

Look, I’m not saying that, when it comes to a meaningful career and life, passion is a non-factor. Of course, it is! But it isn’t the only factor, nor is it the biggest one — at least, it isn’t the biggest factor all the time.

A happy, fulfilling life does not rely solely on finding and following a passion.

Which then leads me to ask: when trying to create a meaningful life, why must we be so laser-focused on passion?

Passion, Our Fleeting Friend

When you think about passion, you think about intensity. You think about how it’s burning into your very being, calling you to do The Thing and to do it now. And when you listen to its call, there is this sense of complete uninhibited joy. This mix of delight and accomplishment. It’s an amazing feeling.

That intensity may run incredibly long.

But it can also run incredibly short.

Passion is erratic. Like its close cousin, Inspiration, it knocks on the doors of our hearts at the most unexpected times. It likes to bring interesting goodies and playtoys, those both old and new. Passion urges us to do things and we oblige happily. Then it leaves whenever, and we are at a loss and with no clue how to finish what we’ve started.

As a creative, I’ve relied heavily on both Passion and Inspiration to forge ahead with my creative endeavours. And I can tell you that they are, in fact, not so reliable and not always available.

Will I stay friends with them? Abso-freaking-lutely. I love them to death. I enjoy their company. You know how some friends you meet once in a while and you don’t tell them your entire life story or share your insecurities? But also that doesn’t make your friendship any less precious? Passion and Inspiration are simply that kind of friends.

So rather than “follow your passion”, what can you do to lead a meaningful life?

Follow your curiosity.

Way back in 2017, I first heard these three words from Elizabeth Gilbert. It felt like a personal breakthrough. Here was my door out of this passion, be all end all mindset that I’ve been stuck in for a long time. And boy, it was freeing.

Passion is fleeting and finite; curiosity is everywhere. It works as a subtle nudge your way. I love how Robert J.K. Lee describes it:

Curiosity moves in ways that could be described as gentle, contemplative, unusual and even pensive. As an elemental metaphor, Curiosity acts like water. It is shapeless, but it interacts with you in different ways. […] Curiosity invites you to cast attention and notice something that you hadn’t before.

– Robert J.K. Lee, “5 things I’ve learnt about being friends with Curiosity and Passion

My Curiosity Journey

When I think of that one thing that Curiosity gently guided me towards, watercolor comes to mind.

I was scrolling through Instagram one time. Back then, I was new to the platform and didn’t know what it was for. But it recommended one video of someone demonstrating how to paint loose floral illustrations using watercolor.

And I was entranced. Like seriously. I felt like I was three years old again and I just watched Teletubbies for the very first time.

It was a whole new kind of magic. The way the paints flow to where water is, the way two colors interacted with each other. The way these tiny puddles of color turned into petals and then magically, a flower.

I was hooked.

Looking back, I could have simply stayed hooked and kept on watching. But already Curiosity was there, gently tapped on my shoulder and whispered,

What is that?

The first few months, I bought everything cheap from the department store office supplies. My first ever paints and brushes and papers were the ones you used in middle school, but I was too damn excited to try to even care. I tried painting flowers and leaves. I tried to do flat wash. (Because holy shit, you can make something close to solid from such a fragile-looking pigment??? 2016 Kate ain’t ready for gouache.)

And you know what? I SUCKED.

My flowers looked like rotting plants. When I tried painting a galaxy the first time, it was like a zombie wasn’t feeling well and it vomited brains. Everything I painted was godawful. There were definitely times when I wanted to give up and go back to my black and white ink art. But every time, I’d feel Curiosity lightly tapping behind me.

Hmm… what if I mix these two colors…

What would it look like if I sketched a person first?

I wonder what would happen if I use both inks and watercolor…

Curiosity, Our Guiding Friend

In retrospect, many of the things I’m now passionate about were born out of curiosity. I didn’t even realize it but at some point, Curiosity had already handed me over to Passion. Because that’s what Curiosity does.

Sometimes.

I really want to stress this out. When I say follow your curiosity, I’m not saying it will eventually guide you to your passion or even your purpose. Following your curiosity may lead you to your passion. But sometimes it doesn’t. And that’s okay. That is not the point of all this.

Perhaps you’d feel excitement and delight. Maybe you’d even feel that complete and utter joy when the curious things become passion things. Or maybe you won’t. Maybe you’d lose the interest before it could become something grand.

There’s nothing wrong with that.

The moment you lose interest, let it go. Keep only the memories andand the learnings. Carry on following your curiosity. See where it leads you this time around. What adventure, or non-adventure, it has in store. Experience the moment fully and treasure what lessons it gives.

Isn’t that, in and of itself, what meaningful life is all about?

Photos from Gary Bendig and Alexander Ramsey

Improvement & Impatience: 3 years, 2 art works, 1 Kate

Art improvement does not happen overnight.

We know this. I know this. You know this. That old man sitting at a nearby park probably doesn’t care about art improvement but, still, even he knows this.

And yet.

It is the one of The Most Frustrating Thing Ever. Why couldn’t I just be good at the things I like to do in an instant? Like, why do learning curves even have to exist?? Why can’t I just become the next Einstein or the next Picasso or the next Marie Curie tomorrow???

You’re probably not as dramatically ambitious as yours truly, but I bet you’ve been frustrated and impatient before, right?

The Case of Improvement for Artists (hint: iz torture)

I love progress. And if you’re a self-improvement junkie like myself, obviously, one of your biggest goals in life is to consistently be a better version of yourself. But progress is slow and tedious and it kills me. (Well, not really literally. But you know what I mean.) Creative progress, especially, is a specific kind of torture for me.

See, I’ve always been an impatient person. But I’m more so an impatient creator. When it comes to my art and my writing, I want to hurry, hurry, hurry.

Hurry up and improve on your anatomy, Kate.

Hurry up and draw good noses, Kate.

Hurry up and write engaging stories, Kate.

Hurry up and create awesome content, Kate.

Hurry up, Kate.

I keep on pushing myself to hurry hurry hurry. That I need to keep moving forward. That I need to get better. And the thing is, in art, you don’t really see you’re improving. So I become even more greedy. I become more and more frustrated, and more and more impatient of myself.

Sometimes, to a point where I’m mentally scolding myself for not seemingly getting better.

We are our harshest critic already. But with myself and to myself, I am unforgiving. I never tolerated even an ounce of imperfection. It’s sad. Because we are also our most frequent company.

Can you imagine being in the company of someone so critical of you?

That drive for art improvement became toxic. I made it toxic, and it backfired. And so, in an attempt to gently remind myself that um Kate? You HAVE improved tho, I did the #DrawThisAgain art meme. It’s where you try to draw an old art and see the differences and changes.

Two pictures of two girls both with short turquoise hair, the half up styled in  a mini bun. She is wearing a purple galaxy turtleneck. A white text above on a plum rectangle says, "2016 vs 2019." Image linked to related Instagram post.

I chose a really old work, one I did in 2016. Back when I still a complete watercolor noob and just starting out. I loved it — I still do. But recreating it with all the creative arsenal I picked up for three years, it was amazing.

And once I was done and took a step back, I thought to myself, “If 2016 watercolor noob Kate could only see me now…” I mean, I know she would never see the me now. That’s just how it is.

Who you are, right this second, will never get to see how much you’ll improve in the future.

But who you are, right this second, is also the only one who can look back to where you’ve come from and see how far you’ve come.

I now take comfort in having this truth. I’m probably going to tuck myself into it forever. Because, man, it’s far far better than the rusty old thoughts of “Not Being Enough.”

In business and management, looking at historical data is a sensible way of self-evaluation. But looking back is also a gift. A gentle reminder to your all-too-focused self, a small shift in perspective. That you are doing just fine.

So here I am, doing exactly that.

I first published this post on my Patreon page but I added a few words and wrote additional thoughts. You may see the original post, in its infancy, here.

Featured image by Yura Fresh via Unsplash

A catch up and what’s gonna happen now

So here I am.

Finally getting the guts to actually write something for this here blog. After months of burying myself into a mound of Webtoon comics, manga, and anime series. And subconsciously forgetting about my art, my blog, and the rest of my creative life.

Sure, I’ve put out a few great artworks the past few months, but even the dopamine hit of posting them into my art insta and being praised for them was short-term.

Work has ultimately taken up much of my daylight hours. Which is weird because, honestly, I have not done a lot at work these past three months. The “busy” moments happen every start of the month but even those days don’t exactly feel exhilarating. Plus, there were other things happening in my personal life, like my grandma’s passing, that I don’t exactly want to talk about too much.

At the end of the day, only one thing mattered:

I felt deeply depressed and completely unsatisfied.

Allowing myself to be buried underneath all that, I did not do anything. At least, nothing actionable or noteworthy.

I simply made myself be carried away by the flow of life. Wake up early, ride the bus, get to work and clock out by 5:30pm, ride the bus home while probably reading a manga or watching an episode.

And it really hit me: how utterly boring and glum that is. How you basically have zero agency on the one thing you should hold influence the most:

Your own fucking life.

Excuse my French but, really, there was no sugar-coating this.

My art is suffering. I’ve been consuming great masterpieces — on Instagram and Webtoons and various anime — and yet have not taken what inspiration I got from them and mold them into my own creation.

My blog is suffering. I’ve been having doubts with writing in the personal development niche recently. I did not want to read any “Simple Tips to Live Your Best Life” kinds of blog posts because I started to find them empty and repetitive.

Consequently, my life is suffering.

…Buuut that’s too complicated a topic and too long to tackle in even a 1000-word post. So let’s focus for now on what’s next in line up there. Which is also what is, quite frankly, the most important points I should be discussing.

On blogging and the personal growth niche

I’m not gonna deny it — I LOVE the personal growth niche. The community built around this like-minded desire to grow and improve is a fascinating one. I’m so happy to be a part of it, no matter how small my contribution may be.

But there’s a huge difference in writing about the truth you discovered to live a happier life and listing down “6 easy tips” to be happier.

I’ve read the same kind of posts, given the same kind of advice over and over again. (“Take a long walk” is one of those advice that, as of writing, is currently fueling up a massive discourse over in MH Twitter, by the way.) And the thing is, for me right now, these kinds of advice just feel… lackluster. Empty. They aren’t enough.

I’m sure there are people out there who just wanted the quick reminder or that tiny push. And maybe, for them, these posts are exactly what they need. Heck, there have been plenty of times when they were exactly what I needed too. But right now, it’s not what I’m looking for. It is not what I need. And in effect, these kinds of posts are not what I want to write about.

It took me a long time to come to terms with this. Because continuing felt like an obligation – and in effect, quitting felt like a self-condemnation. This “duty” I think I have for the readers of this blog. But then, I realize:

Wait a sec. Forcing myself to write a topic I don’t like is a disservice to myself AND to my readers.

And this is an advice I often give to fellow bloggers too.

Like, gee, Kate. At least follow the advice you made, yeah?

With that said, here’s what’s going to happen with All the Trinkets moving forward.

No empty listicles.

I’m not going to totally abandon listicles. Besides, it’s the kind of blog post that’s very easy to write. But I vow never to create those empty, repetitive listicles in my blog from now on. No more “6 easy steps for a happier life”.

Life, I found, is much more complicated to go through. But at the same time, life is simple – but no, it is never easy.

Instead, I just want to write about the truth. My truth, anyway. The truth I learned along the way. The small ones, and the ohmigosh-this-is-a-huge-eureka-moment ones.

Outside of these blog posts that borders on “life” and “personal development,” I also want to write more about art and creative living. And, like, no more of those general, all-around, free-for-all creativity topics. Starting today, I want to write only about my own creative experiences. My creative truths. (Which is kinda fancy-schmancy but, whattayouknow, it fits.)

This all may seem selfish but…

To be honest, for a long time, I write with you, my readers, heavily on my mind. Sure, I think about myself too. And it so happens that, for the past couple years, what people enjoyed reading and what I enjoyed writing aligned.

But the fact is, I no longer enjoy writing the same topics. In these same perspectives and this same format. Maybe in a few years, I’d go back to loving it. Maybe. But for right now, I need to step away from all these. Explore new ways to write and express myself in this ever-changing blog of mine.

Speaking of my blog changing…

To align with this kinda sorta new way of me blogging, I’ve decided to change the look of my blog. Yes, again. Don’t worry it’s going to be a long project and I’ll tweak some elements here and there gradually. But it’s gonna happen.

The way I think it, my blog changes and reshapes and transforms when I, too, change and reshape and transform.

Before anything else, this is my place in the Interwebs. My small, humble place.

And like with any kind of challenge we face in life, if the way forward for me and this small humble place of mine in the Interwebs is to change things up, then… Challenge accepted.

To all the readers who have followed me up ‘til now, I truly appreciate all of you. I hope you continue with me as I embark in a new chapter with this blog. And if not, well no worries. Thanks for being with me anyway, however long that may be.

Kate xx

Photo by Scott Web via Unsplash

3 Reasons You’re Feeling Unproductive (and What to Do About It)

As my boy, Li Shang, famously said, let’s get down to business. If you’re here right now, I’m willing to bet you’ve been in that kind of sloppy hell: The Slow, Sloppy Hell of Feeling Unproductive.

It isn’t exactly painful outright. It’s one of those slow-burns. And it burns from the inside out. It targets your self-confidence and motivation and self-determination ever so gradually until they’re nothing but ashes.

Sound familiar? Don’t worry, friend. I’m here.

Let me help you douse that flame now before it continues to spread. Here are three reasons why you’re not achieving anything right now and what you can do about it.

Why You are Feeling Unproductive Today and What You Can Do About It

1) You are busy doing other less important things

Look, I get it. We’ve all been there. We’ve all said we had an unproductive day. That we weren’t able to accomplish that one thing because we were too busy on other things.

But were you?

Were you really busy with other things? Or suppose you actually were busy, were you too busy on something that’s actually relevant?

Maybe, like me, you were only doing this thing they call procrastination.

Take it from someone who went to the Procrastinators’ School of Making Excuses. There is a difference between being occupied and pretending to be busy. Learn it. Know what signs to look for.

Be self-aware when you start making excuses. Over time, you’ll find it easier to spot them. I noticed that excuses always have a different tone than truth — even those we say in our heads.

What You Can Do:

You’re probably familiar with the Eisenhower Matrix. Where you arrange the tasks you need to do under levels of importance and urgency. This way, you can eliminate a task that is neither important nor urgent. And then you can focus your energy and present time on things that are actually important or urgent. Or both!

2) You’re a perfectionist

It may seem counterintuitive, saying that being a perfectionist is making you unproductive. Like, won’t my perfectionist tendency make me more productive?

Um, actually…no.

I know this because, aside from being a Master Procrastinator, heck I’m a Master Perfectionist too.

When you’re so focused on having everything —  and I mean, every tiny detail — perfect, you end up getting fewer tasks done.

See, perfectionism takes up a lot of time by forgetting time. When you’re nitpicking on the small stuff, when you’re putting 120% of your attention on that tiny area in your project, you forget about everything else. Including time. And if you have that special hybrid I call perfection procrastination, you waste time by doing mundane, unimportant tasks. When you should be working on the ones that matter.

What You Can Do:

Give yourself the permission to fail.

Remember: choose finished, not perfect.

Let that sink into your mind. The idea of not succeeding at first try isn’t so bad. What’s important is that you learned from your failures and mistakes. And these lessons will actually help you get closer and closer to success.

3) You’re feeling unproductive because you’re mentally or emotionally stuck. Or both.

Being stuck stems from various causes. Perhaps you’re having a writer’s block. Or experiencing a creative draught. Maybe you just have zero inspiration to write or do anything.

The thing is, a lot of our physical tasks are partly powered by our inner resources. Some even more so than others.

This shouldn’t come off as a surprise anymore. The immediate connection between our physical health and mental wellbeing has been proven in so many studies. Our physical health is as affected by our mental wellbeing as the other way around.

Which means poor mental health can be the cause of physical fatigue. And therefore, you feel unproductive.

In order to do the things you need to do, you must also pay attention to these inner resources–inspiration, motivation, and mental stability, to name a few. Because when we lack or don’t have such resources, we become mentally or emotionally paralyzed. Literally unable to work even when we are physically able to do it.

What You Can Do:

Along with your physical health, take care of your mental and emotional well-being too. Exercising is just as good for your mind as it is for your body. Having a well-rounded healthy lifestyle that takes into consideration your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing is imperative — whatever life you may live. Create that balance, yes? BIG YES.

I WANNA HEAR FROM YOU!

Have you got more tips for those who are feeling unproductive? Share your wisdom in the comments below!

Woman writing in the background a white rectangle overlay with the text, "3 Reasons Why You're Unproductive Today - and what you can do about it"

Photos from Ivory Mix and Kaylah Otto (via Unsplash)

Image of a woman sitting back on a pink overlay. A white rectangle with a text on top says: 3 Reasons Why You're Feeling Unproductive.
Girl on a sofa with a pink translucent overlay and a text on top saying, 'Feeling unproductive? Three reasons why + what you can do about it'

February was more chaotic than last month, wow. | Side Notes

Yep. You read that right.

Remember when I said last month, I hope February was going to be kinder to me than January? February was like, “NOPE! Not gonna.”

On a more positive note, though! I have new graphics for Side Notes, whee! Figured it was about time. That old one was getting… well, old.

Side Notes is a monthly wrap up where I share the interesting, and incredibly inspiring things I found during the month that I couldn’t fit in any post. Expect awesome recs, awesome books and awesome bloggers.

Also expect: fangirling (lots of it) and a glimpse into my life — the happy, the chaos and all.

In the Blogosphere

Anne shared 7 gift ideas for those in a long-distance relationship. And I say, they’re all pretty wholesome enough for anyone in your life!

Brett talked about dealing with negative feelings and shared some awesome tips to do so healthily. Check it out!

In need of some self-care ideas? Jackie recommends doing something creative — like building a house on Sims! Read her post for 6 more awesome recs!

Lea talks about her life as a 28-year-old married woman with no kids. (Guess what question she always gets asked.)

Hafsa created a journaling party and it. Sounds. SUPER. AWESOME??? I want in so bad.

Is blogging dead? Ashlee thinks not. And I, as I write the draft for this on WordPress Classic Editor, so so agree.

Lauren talks about grief and how to cope with the loss of a loved one.

Apostolia shared habits to have a happy life and I’m taking notes.

Deze shares the 6 hard lessons she learned in her first two years as a married woman and it’s applicable to any relationships!

The Awesome Side of the Internet

The Internet can be a jerk sometimes, let’s all be real here. But it is also filled with authentic and incredibly inspiring human (and non-human) stories.

Someone made a music video out of Paint and it’s BRILLIANT.

You need to rewatch LoTR but with cats.

Someone’s gonna be a great lawyer someday. Case closed, y’all.

You know how last month my recommendations were both educational apps? Welp, today I’m recommending two of my recent fave series!

VIOLET EVERGARDEN

I’m going to put it out there: this is anime. And before you scroll further thinking, “Oh, that isn’t my cup of tea.” Hear me out first!

This anime series revolves around a young girl who knew nothing of life outside her military background. Now that the war is over, she has to learn what it is like to live outside the front lines of a battlefield. (Wow, someone hire me to make blurbs. I think that’s a fair, non-spoilery one.)

It’s a coming-of-age series, my favorite anime genre after fantasy and slice-of-life, and it is heartbreakingly beautiful. It may revolve around Violet Evergarden, the young girl I mentioned above, but it’s more than just her story. The entire series is jam-packed with stories about love and family and self-growth. Not to mention, the animation is just BREATHTAKING. And y’all I’m not just saying that because Kyoto Animation, my all-time fave anime studio, produced it.

You can watch Violet Evergarden on Netflix now. Please watch it. (And if you do or did, hit me an email or slide a DM wherever. I want to talk about this and none of my friends has watched it yet!!)

HEARTSTOPPER

This is another series I recently got into that I think not a lot of people generally know. Like Violet Evergarden, you would only know about Heartstopper if you’re in the community. (The anime community in Violet Evergarden’s case, the book community in this one’s.)

Heartstopper is a webcomic written and illustrated by YA author Alice Oseman. It’s about two adorable soft bois being adorable together. An openly gay boy who overthinks for a living, and a soft-hearted guy who’s still figuring out his sexuality.

That’s it. That’s the pitch.

Now here’s the thing. I’ve read books my whole life. Consequently, I’ve read tons of books while on public transportation. But I’ve never — and I mean never — cried on public because of a book. Ever. This webcomic? It’s responsible for my first-ever public book tears. It is that good. You can read Heartstopper on Tumblr or in the Tapas app.

Little Victories – Kickass Stuff that Happened This Month

  • I landed my first ever full-time job, y’all!
  • I’m getting on top of my Twitter game, ey!
  • My sleep is now regular!!! (It really was the lack of a structured routine omg! Once I was working, I’m already asleep at 10pm and up by 5am the next day. Could still need a little tweaking as I want to spend a bit more hours on my blog… but I’ll take it!)

Little Detours – What Kicked My Ass This Month

(because we’re not perfect, and it’s good to share your awful moments)

  • My blog game and all other social media games are not as strong as the Twitter one. As you may have noticed, I decided to go on a hiatus halfway through the month.

Little Milestones – Things I Want to Achieve or Do Next Month

(because according to Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies, I am an Obliger and I need outside accountability to reach personal goals)

A MINI-REVIEW ON THIS MONTH’S GOALS
  • Make no bake cheesecake. ✘ I was on the verge of becoming broke so I’m doing a rain check on this one.
  • Get interviewed by 5 companies. ✘ This didn’t happen BUT! I landed my job on the only company I got interviewed so yay!
  • Finish writing and scheduling March’s posts. ✘ Still writing up March’s post. Oh well.
GOALS FOR NEXT MONTH
  • Create a routine around work
  • Set aside 5,000 php to savings (That’s about $100, give or take)
  • Write and schedule posts

Last Month’s Self-Improvement Challenge

Eat fruit once a day. This didn’t happen BUT!!! I am eating fruit every other day so that’s a good start.

Next Month’s Self-Improvement Challenge

Finish one book. If I said I didn’t have much time reading books on February, I’d be lying. I just chose not to read any books. Now, I want to just finish one book. If I could just finish reading one, I’m good.

I WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!

How was your February? Was it awesome or did it suck so bad? Share to me everything!

xx Kate

Photo from Ivory Mix

Want to get what you want from other people? Do this one super simple thing.

Open hand with a pink overlay. Above is a pink rectangle with the text - Wanna get what you want? Do this one super simple thing.

It was a quiet afternoon. I was sitting back on a bench when my afternoon blog reading was interrupted by my friend’s huff.

“I’m pissed,” she announced as she sat beside me.

Putting away my phone, I asked her what happened. She wanted another friend of ours to do something for her but that other friend didn’t do it. When I asked her if she told our friend specifically what she wanted, she looked at me in a weird way. As if I just told her she grew mushrooms on her head.

It was pretty obvious what I needed, was what she replied.

At that time, I bit back what I wanted to say.

That I think she was wrong. Our other friend might not have known what she wanted.

An open hand reaching out and an arm behind. Above is a white rectangle with the text - Here's how to get what you want by doing one suuuper simple thing

See, here’s the thing: I understand my pissed friend’s pissed-ness. I get where she was coming from because I have felt that same way too. There are some things you just can’t obtain on your own. You will need other people’s help. And so you create these expectations towards those other people. You just assume that they’d easily understand what you need. Because what you need is pretty obvious, right?

Nope. It isn’t.

I mean, it might be super obvious – to you. But that’s because you know what you need. But other people? They usually have zero clue. The truth is, no one’s a super mind-reader.

No one holds the blueprint of your mind other than yourself.

So if you really want things to happen, you have to do something about it. You have to reach out first. Click To Tweet

Take the initiative and tell people what you want.

Want to meet up with an old friend you saw recently? Tell them you wanna hang out.

You want that guy beside you to stop invading your personal space? Let him know.

Maybe you think it’s high time for a pay raise? Knock on your boss’s door.

Look. People want to help you.

The people who care about you and want to see you succeed? They want to know if there’s anything they can do to get you to where you want to go. But if you want something from other people, you have to tell them about it. Otherwise, they wouldn’t know. They couldn’t help you get what you want if they have no clue what exactly it is you want.

So how can you get what you want by telling others? I’ve got 3 tips.

1. Tell them politely and with respect

I know, I know. This should be super obvious but I think it still needs to be emphasized: You wouldn’t get what you want if you’re rude.

I’ve witnessed people who like to show a sense of superiority by being demanding and belittling others. And okay… you miiight get what you want this way but you wouldn’t earn other people’s respect. Which would make dealing with them in the future difficult. Some people might even despise you if you did this.

And friend, I’m highly against burning bridges. The people you meet along the way? I believe you’ll meet them again. And when you do, you don’t want to be remembered as that rude doucheface who likes to scream at people.

A little kindness goes a long way. And to put it bluntly, a quicker transaction, even. Things go more smoothly when everyone’s in their happy place. Plus, you’ll likely leave the premises feeling quite positive and light-hearted.

I don’t know about you but I would pick that over that coldness and a doucheface rep any day.

2. Be as clear and concise as you can

This is something I learned from my Business Communications course. Clarity and conciseness is key to good communication. They will guide you and the other person to a better understanding of each other.

And to get what you want from other people, you need these two important ingredients too.

I know this is something I need to work on too. I’m aware that I can be roundabout with what I want to say. But I recently learned something from a fellow roundabout friend that I think is a great tip for anyone else struggling to be clear and concise. Which brings me to my third tip…

3. Have one point and make it your anchor.

That one point will keep your winding explanation grounded. It’s your North. So whenever it feels like you’re about to go off-topic, remember your anchor and steer your conversation back to it.

Maybe you’ve wanted to change careers and you’re meeting an acquaintance who’s working on the field you want to switch to. I know we tend to go off-topic lots of times in casual conversations. You could be reminiscing your high school lives, or talking about that girl you know from college. But remember your anchor and keep it close to you.

So when they ask you something work-related, you can say something like, “Oh yeah, I’ve been meaning to tell you. I wanted to switch careers and I’m interested with the kind of work you do. Do you have any tips you can share to a newcomer like me?”

I bet you, your friend’s face will light up and tell you everything they know.

I‘m sure of this because I’ve been the asker and the askee on two separate occasions. So I know the people around you will tell you everything they know can help.

The people around you want to help. Allow them to do so by telling them how. Click To Tweet

I WANNA HEAR FROM YOU!

Let’s do this. Right here, right now. What do YOU want from other people? What can WE help you with?

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Hand and arm with pink color overlay. White square on top with the text - How to Get What You Want from Others by doing this one super simple thing

Photos from Death to Stock and Chimene Gaspar (via Unsplash)

Why you need to create your own business hours

Is Time Management in the same level for you as flying? (Because, you know, it’s unachievable) Or maybe you’ve planned to be productive but end up spending it scrolling through Twitter? Perhaps you’re always scrambling around to get a some semblance of routine in your life?

Friend, I know exactly how you feel. Which is why I know you definitely need to create your own business hours.

Have you ever felt like “Time Management” is in the same level as flying? (Because, you know… what even is time management??) Did you ever plan to have a productive day but end up spending it scrolling through Twitter? Were you ever distracted by messages you received at an ungodly hour? Friend, I know exactly how you feel. Which is why I know you definitely need to create your own business hours.

Obviously, most businesses have this. Business hours is that period in which the company do… well, business. But we can also see it like this: it’s when, and only when, people can go do business with a company. Or in this case, you. Here’s how creating your own business hours will help you.

The Benefits of Establishing Your Own Business Hours

1) You create boundaries

Specifically, time boundaries.

If you ever struggle with friends or bosses who respond to you at ungodly hour, this one’s for you. This is also helpful to those who work at home or are freelancers.

When you don’t have the gift of a set time like in a typical nine-to-five job, it could be so easy for your work hours and non-work hours to blur and mix together. And that isn’t productive or efficient.

Creating your own business hours could help with all of that.

Not only do you create time boundaries to the people around you, but you can also train yourself to stick to those same boundaries. I know there are people who have a hard time with that as I’m one of those people.

2) It gives you free time

Because you have set business hours, you can leave time in your day for personal stuff. Maybe you like to kick back and crochet to end your day. Or maybe you like to have time for a 10-minute workout sesh in the morning. Knowing when your work starts and ends means you can make room for other things in your life.

And most importantly, when you do scroll through Twitter, you could do it outside your business hours, on your free time – and not feel guilty about it! #Win.

3) Avoids overwhelm and burnout

Overwhelm and burnouts often happen because of overworking. Sometimes, people overwork simply because they don’t have that strong separation between when they should work and when they should take a break.

Not all of us are expert time-jugglers. This means we have yet to master the art of time management. If you are one, then I highly suggest starting with establishing your own business hours. Here's why you need one.

When you have your own business hours, you can establish a structured time in which you do your work.

And you should do your work strictly within those hours only.

Why do you think most factories have business hours? Because it isn’t ideal to run a machine endlessly and without breaks. If they did this, they would run their machine to the ground and break it. Like machines, you need to take a break.

4) Creating your own business hours can reduce stress

I think this is particularly helpful to fellow Obligers, and anyone who is a semi-organized potato like me.

Obliger is one of the four tendencies in Gretchen Rubin’s book, The Four Tendencies. (Gosh, I am in love with this book. Expect a book review and a more in-depth discussion on the tendencies in the near future!)

Related: Four Personality Tests You Can Try Today to Better Know Yourself

Obligers are those who put a higher value on meeting other people’s expectations than they do on their own. Which makes Obligers reliable co-workers and peers. (Not to brag or anything, but this is accurate yo.) However, they also have trouble setting boundaries on other people’s demands, and this could be a huge source of stress for them – which is, again, accurate yo.

If you’re an Obliger like me, creating your own business hours can help you set limits on what people need from you and when you can work on those demands. No more getting up late at night to write that document someone wants.

On the other hand, this is also super helpful for both semi-organized and un-organized folks. There are times when you are aware of how you aren’t organized. And you mentally kick yourself for not being productive with your time.

Establishing your business hours, and sticking to it, may just be what you need. With a structured time like this, it’s like going back to school. You don’t have to think about what you need to do. The frequency of scrambling around is lessened because you already have your day planned out for you, just like when you were at school.

The big difference is this is more convenient because you don’t have to start at seven-in-the-freakin-morning. (Shaking my head at the school system.) Instead, you get to establish your work hours during your peak time.

In this day and age of hustle culture, time is a very important commodity. Learning to be more productive is everyone’s business nowadays. Maybe you can juggle everything in your to-do lists like a pro-juggler could. But maybe you’re like me and is often seen scrambling around for some semblance of order and routine.

Start by establishing when to work and when to take a break.

And look hey. This may not be boss-level time management, but it’s a start!

I WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!

Are you a professional time-juggler? Or are you a Twitter-scroller? Do you think established business hours will work for you or nah?

xx Kate

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Suck at time management? I feel you. If you have a hard time managing your time, maybe you can start with creating your very own business hours instead. Click on to read why you need one.

Photo by Gades Photography on Unsplash

First Month of 2019? Done. | January Side Notes

Okay, so is it just me or did January craaawl its way out like it always does, every-freakin-year? (Do you notice how I am so obviously Team Thank God January’s Over?)

Now that we can scratch off the first month of 2019, let’s welcome February with enthusiastic arms! This year’s Hearts Month will be particularly festive on here because I’ve prepared blog posts all about relationships — with yourself and with others.

But you’ll have lots of time to see that. Let’s dive in to this month’s wrap up.

Side Notes is a monthly wrap up where I share the interesting, and incredibly inspiring things I found during the month that I couldn’t fit in any post. Expect awesome recs, awesome books and awesome bloggers.

Also expect: fangirling (lots of it) and a glimpse into my life — the happy, the chaos and all.

interesting finds

In the Blogosphere

Nikita discusses the pros and cons of having an unconventional or nontraditional job, and it’s a must-read for my fellow 20-somethings who will be starting their career.

We know January is the month when new habits are decidedly taken upon and immediately thrown off the window. If you’re like me, then this post by Suktara on how to form new habits is for you!

Alex has an incredibly insightful piece on how improving your well-being may just be the key to happiness.

Don’t have much time for yourself? (Yeah me too, sometimes) Emily suggests setting your alarm 10 minutes earlier.

For my fellow bloggers out there, the amazing Lav wrote this incredibly motivating piece filled with reminders for when the blog stats are low.

Rachel shared a very personal story about post natal depression and if you’re a mom going through it also, I highly suggest reading Rachel’s post! Below is my fave quote from the post:

I hadn’t realised how low I was until I started feeling better.

I just found Oxria’s blog today and there is zero doubt that I. AM. IN. LOOOVE!!! Her illustrations are gorgeous and she has this post on notebooks that help her keep organized and my semi-organized potato self is drooling in envy!!

The Awesome Side of the Internet

The Internet can be a jerk sometimes, let’s all be real here. But it is also filled with authentic and incredibly inspiring human (and non-human) stories. Also: I take zero responsibility for any tears you might shed opening one of these links. Click at your own risk, y’all.

I have a soft spot for grandmothers so this tweet about a girl and her gramma with Alzheimer’s is just oh-so precious. Ma heart!

Y’all need this reminder from Artidote today:

Anthony Exeter (God bless your soul) has these six rules for life, as shared by his now-widowed wife Kelly Exeter. (My heart BROKE, you guys.)

DOGGO-LOVERS, brace yourself for this one. This story of a mom and daughter seeing a stray dog on the sidewalk is wholesome and might possibly make you cry. Probably.

For my fellow CAT-LOVERS, I got one for you too. Don’t worry, it isn’t exactly a tear-jerker. Tear-provoking is very rarely a cat’s brand, as you may know. In this one, my fave cat in the Internet, Maru, claimed another cat’s box quite smoothly. Just like James Bond, this gorgeous smooth-moving cat.

There is a Youtube channel where someone cooks mini-food using mini-utensils and mini-kitchen equipments and I am enthralled. Here’s one where they cooked mini Japanese curry and rice.

So I saw this one on Facebook but it was a screenshot from Tumblr. And look, I have this thing with screenshotted (? omg grammar) posts. Like, it’s okay if I was just passing by and I read it. But if I’m going to promote the stuff, you can be sure I’ll find the OG source and lead you to them because they deserve the traffic more than those sc-ers/ ctto insensitive-only-wants-clout potatos.

(Yes, I am passionately heated regarding this stuff — and I’m already at that point in my life where I feel too old to protest on every-single-thing I see on Twitter. It’s like art theft and copy-pasted blog posts for me.)

Anyhoozles! Here it is. Violetwolfraven from Tumblr wondered if maybe supernatural creatures once existed here on Earth but, over the years, mixed in with humans and you can see them in traits and personalities that modern people now have. Like maybe that ballet dancer who seems to hover mid-air for a few seconds might have the blood of fairies. I promise you, their imagination is wild and amazing and it made my fantasy-loving brain drool. You should read the entire thread because there are people asking the mythic counterparts of writers and artists. It’s amazing, really.

(Can’t believe I wrote more than 200 words for one link but there you go.)

recommendations of the month

Bluprint (formerly Craftsy)

Bluprint, formerly known as Craftsy, is an amazing website filled to the brim with craft-related videos and classes. It was through here that I watched a class on watercolor and this class by Kateri Ewing helped me improve my watercoloring. There are also other classes on the site, like for baking, knitting and jewelry-making!!!
Pocket App

I no longer have the Pocket app on either my phone or tablet but I’m still subscribed to it because I signed up, and Pocket Hits curate the most insightful, thought-provoking articles on the Internet every week.
Like, I rarely watch the news now (especially since it’s the start of election season over here and ugh, so not liking all networks’ coverage right now.) so I get my dose of what’s happening in the world through my journalist sister and via email.

I mean, look at these articles! These >>>> News

That said, I highly recommend signing up for Pocket. They have the most intriguing long-form articles ranging from various sources around the Web.

(Side note: If you want to read about that article on insect collapse on a Puerto Rican rainforest — which is a must-read, by the way — you can read it here.

the little things

Little Victories – Kickass Stuff that Happened This Month

  • I made full-color illustrations! Three of them! In a month! (Yayyy)
  • I spent one month not worrying about school! Gosh, it feels GOOD.
  • Updated my resume and got references! (I have a blog post scheduled for this exact story. Stay tuned!)

Little Detours – What Kicked My Ass This Month

(because we’re not perfect, and it’s good to share your awful moments)

  • I got invitation for job interviews that I had to reject because I wasn’t in Cebu. That sucked.
  • My sleep are getting irregular and I have no idea why. (Is it the lack of a structured routine? Idk.)

Little Milestones – Things I Want to Achieve or Do Next Month

(because according to Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies, I am an Obliger and I need outside accountability to reach personal goals)

A Mini-Review on This Month’s Goals

  • Finish three posts for the month ✔ and send out two guest post pitches ✘ (Sigh. Will this even happen, at this point?)
  • Read and comment on 14 blog posts every week ??? (I have no idea if it reached 14???)
  • Update my resume (hnggg) ✔

For Next Month

  • Make no bake cheesecake.
  • Get interviewed by 5 companies.
  • Finish writing and scheduling March’s posts.

Last Month’s Self-Improvement Challenge

Try out one thing you haven’t tried before. The sushi didn’t happen, sadly. Buuut I did try out strawberry milk tea for the first time so — is that good enough? For now, yes.
Next Month’s Self-Improvement Challenge

Eat fruit once a day. I need it. It doesn’t hurt to eat fruits more often, yes?

I WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!

How was your January? Did it crawl for you too? What are your fave educational apps at the moment? I wanna know it all!!

xx Kate

Photo from Ivory Mix