your own path

When you look at this picture, what do you see?

For me, I see more than a scenic picture in Amsterdam.

I see, “I’ll never listen to him again.”

“He just doesn’t know what I want or need.”

And by extension, this doesn’t just apply to a love one, but this probably apply to the population at large as a whole.

No one knows what you want better than you do – and to think of it, I just don’t have the time and energy to explain myself anymore – so I don’t.

What I see with this picture is that, I should’ve went and gotten a real camera rather than relied on my phone for that 6 weeks away – yes, I ran out of space so very fast, there’s just so much to capture even when it rained and rained and rained some more in the winter, still I wanted to miss nothing!

But the point is, no one’s gonna be as sorry as you are if you don’t achieve whatever you’re after.

So, let that be a lesson learned.

Next time, I’m bringing a real camera even if it’s cumbersome.

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the secret is always love

Ending March on this note – a confessionary note no less.

There’s only a few times have I ever felt undeniable passion for someone.

This is of course a blessing and a curse in itself.

My friends all tell me I have high standards – which is very true, as I do not believe in wasting my time with those I’m not even attracted to in the first place – but on the other hand, this means I don’t give people chances if the first impression’s off.

Now, for the longest time, I thought this was the case – until…I saw exactly what I wanted standing in front of me, no explanation or advertisement required – I saw and I was just smitten. You could say this certain individual fit my ‘type’ and swept me off my feet thereafter, alas the ending wasn’t peachy. The fact that it ended left a bitterness in my heart and yet somehow despite everything, I still believed in some sort of miracle would happen – because which girl doesn’t want to believe that true love prevails in the end and the curtains fall when you meet the one?

So there I went, recklessly off. What I found wasn’t what I was looking for, but lo and behold something that temporarily cured me and taught me that even a picky person like me could meet her match more than once. But of course, here’s the catch, whenever this happens, it’s always somewhere other than the city I live in…

Needless to say, this does not add brownie points to the city I’m currently in – the feeling of utter disinterest has me submerged yet again – nothing feels ‘right’ and I find myself not ‘caring’ about anything other than just ‘getting through’ the day as if I’m consciously trying to numb myself – I know, I know this is not healthy at all – which is why I’ve went on more walks than I would’ve normally and went around shooting things in nature – where I can find my peace of mind and be creatively engaged at the same time.

And as I did this, I realized one crucial thing. It all has to start with me. If I’m not happy with something, I should change that mindset. Life is so much more than just romantic love – there’s so much more to discover, so much more to do, or in my case, so many more things to learn, see, embrace than just a person who I’m infatuated with. And the more I think about this, the more I’m glad I’m living the single life and not tied down to anyone – why? Because it means I have the time to build myself up to the person I always wanted to be and not worry about if that person’s okay with me doing that and perhaps not giving them much of my free time in the meantime.

I do believe in true love and I do believe this is not something one could explicitly seek for. The way I see it, it creeps up on you and it might not even be as explicit as love at first sight – but love in its many expressions will always prevail, and when it’s true – it will prevail and workout, then that person will show you why it’s never worked out with anyone else before.

april: endings are beginnings

March is coming to an end…

Isn’t it amazing how this year is flying by so fast?

I bet before anyone realizes, it’d be June, and half way through 2015! (But I swear this year had just started!)

Isn’t that a scary thought?

And if that isn’t a motivator for you to strive to be the best everyday, I don’t know what is.

Since outcome is collective inputs, which lead to ultimate result – everything you put in today will reflect what will be tomorrow.

Hence, in March – I downloaded RescueTime again, a program that tracks how you spend your time on the computer (which I used to have when I was on a Windows Operating system, now I’m on Mac) and the reports are a bit…just a bit embarrassing in terms of my productivity score.

Needless to say I’m working on changing that. i.e: not checking my emails every 20 minutes like a lunatic (an exaggeration really) – but, overall, March has been a really good month! Here’s a list of things I’ve started on that really enriched my life.

1. TedTalks

2. Coursera (checking out courses outside of my actual schoolwork)

3. Finishing reading books I’ve started (on photography, but nevertheless, they count!)

4. Learning about photography

5. Getting outside to take photos! (+counts as exercise and fresh air at the same time!)

6. Finding joy in small things and spending more time with my family members.

7. Being inspired to travel again!

What I’ve noticed this month is that, when I started to count my blessings and stopped being so hard on myself I’m actually happier than before – sure there’s always going to be stress and obstacles but I feel more equipped to handle them when I looked on the bright side of life and just trusted myself and breathed. (Remember, strive for progress, not perfection!)

For April, I want to build on what I’ve have done for March, with specifics.

1. Turn-off electronics 2 hours before bedtime, and read old school paperbacks instead (why? To ward off sleep interruptions and improve sleep quality)

2. Exercise first thing in the morning (just to get it out of the way, yes.)

3. Play on Duolingo! (yes, play, because language learning should be fun and easy! And hopefully his time when someone asks me “Sprechen Sie Deutsch?” the answer won’t be a “No? Uh, nein” – more on that another time. )

4. Compile a concrete travel list for next time (which is a hard thing, so many places I want to go! Especially in Germany, for whatever reason.)

5. Finish 3 books for April (I’m in the middle of reading quite a few, all of which are nearing quarter mark, but not nearly finished, which I will do in April!!)

6. Go somewhere new, like a new park, or a place I haven’t checked out before in the city (yes, relearning my city and share it through photography.)

That conclude my Sunday afternoon musings my plans for April. I hope everyone’s having a great weekend! What are some of your plans for the new week and the new month?

wandermust

One thing’s for sure: I can’t sit still anymore.

Ever since I got back, I’ve noticed what some would call restlessness – let’s go somewhere, let’s explore, let’s creative something and let’s share!

Though, I personally don’t see it as ‘restlessness’ – it’s more of an rejuvenation of spirits. A desire to try things I’ve never done before and discover new things I’ve never even thought of trying before – isn’t that what life is all about anyways? A compilation of experiences – the good, the bad, the ugly, the beautiful and the sad, the emotive moments you’d hold dear in your heart and cherish so much that you’d tell your grandkids.

Sure, and people have coined this as FOMO: Fear of Missing Out.

Which I interpret of, just letting your life pass you by, not doing something ‘amazing’ or worthwhile with your time.


Personally, I see it as a motivator more than a stressor. I see it as having zest in your life and being excited about ‘life’ – waking up and breaking the monotony and doing something different which your brain will most likely thank you for!

You know, the joy of knowing, at the end of your ‘x’ amount of hours of studying or working – you get to have you time and do something amazing, rather than just sit around and binge and a full season of shows on Netflix and not remember much of it the next day and wish you had more time for the ‘things’ you want to do.

See, it’s all about prioritizing and pushing what you’re really passionate for to the forefront and doing just that, well, because, why not?

See something new, discover something new, try something new, learn something new!

And the good part is, it doesn’t have to be a far away destination – this could simply be driving to a part of town you don’t normally go to and exploring or signing up for class in something you’d never thought of trying – stepping out of your comfort zone and ‘do’ things that inject meaning in your life.

Wander is a must – not just physically, but mentally as well.

Make experiences!

PS: That said, I am pondering on taking another trip at the end of this year. Though if I do, the journey wouldn’t be as lengthy as the previous one and I’d try to see many more cities than just the four capitals which I stayed a week in each last time, though I will very likely, revisit one or two if time and fund permits – and I’d travel much lighter than last time, take only the bare necessities with me and of course actual photography gear this time – the last two times I’ve only had my phone on me, and truly those images does not do the great cities justice they deserve.

with new eyes

Traveling isn’t about physically moving and seeing – it’s about gaining perspective. As I sit here watching rain pitter patter against closed windows, with my trusty laptop and a cup of black coffee, editing photos as I go, I’m randomly reminded of something a visiting foreign friend said to me once.

“Your city is so strange.”

Naturally, I blinked back and made him explain.

He was from a place in the north of France. It was his first time in North America.

Then he told me, “This is the first city I see the ocean and mountains and skyscraper and residential apartments all crammed into a tiny space of land. Also—“ He said with his charming French accent.

“It is strange that nothing here is older than two hundred years. No monuments, no statues, everything’s so new.”

It was true. Not to mention, concrete everywhere blocks off the wilderness, separation attesting to pioneer efforts in conquering new lands.

Factually speaking, I knew that already, the information was easily accessible from history books or online. But, it was how he said it that opened up my eyes. His eyes were lit like he was the one to discover this part of land for the first time, not those who perched a flag on untouched soil centuries ago.

When you live somewhere long enough, even if it was your adopted city rather than your birth city – everything fades into the background – as if your brain stops being stimulated by the mundane so immediate daily tasks could be given priority – tasks like, check the grocery flyer for discounts and if I really want to cook dinner or should I get takeout?

Then I think back, to Europe and realized, the same things happened to me. When I told my Dutch friend that it was neat that church bells rung on the hour – and she jokingly told me she always found that annoying but also had forgotten all about it if I hadn’t mentioned it.

Even if it isn’t ‘important’. It is these little details that both amuse me and motivate me to not only get out there and expose myself to nouvelle stimulus thus breaking the monotony of a routine existence- but to see things and try things from another approach. Lately, I’ve been seeing life as a rubix cube of sorts – if you keep twisting it one way and expect to solve it – it probably wouldn’t work. Life, like the rubix, is multidimensional and the good news is, you get to discover and learn the ways as you go along.

look further

Lately, I’ve had this thought – what then?

What if I just up and leave for Europe again this December after I scrambled up enough resources to allow me to do so? What then?

Would I come back more prepared, more satisfied with my life?

The likely answer as I’ve come to realize is no.

It wouldn’t.

Not a long term strategy.

Not a solution either.

Because coming back means the object that was once in motion is no longer ‘in motion’.

Since I’ve been back – everyday, it’s a constant struggle, almost as if pretending to not let things bother me, or ‘pretending’ to be the person I was before I embarked on that second trip and discovered more things the world had to offer than just staying ‘settled’ on my side of the world.

Yes, it’s inevitable that my worldview has expanded and I long for something more and it’s been a struggle to quiet the rebellious inner narrative in my head that more often than not is going ‘um, so what do you think that stranger sitting there is thinking with their groceries going home on the train?’

‘Why does everyone look so glum?’

‘Why does everyone look so unhappy?’

‘Are they really, or are you just projecting?’

Or worse yet.

‘Abort mission. This is a total waste of your time.’


And then I sit there trying to come up with new things to try, or new inspirations to motivate myself into ‘doing’ something.

Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate what I have at the moment, but at the same time I always feel that I could be doing more. I have more to offer that I’m somehow not harnessing and this restlessness is not something I could just quiet down. It is as if the first time in a long time, I realize the possibility of life is so much more but in this vastness I have no idea how to direct my time and energy, hence I’m at a loss.

Though, I did come up with a workable conclusion: I should just ‘do’. (Like the Nike slogan) it’s no longer a chore – nor it’s something my ego would suffer greatly if I failed – because what have I got to lose?

Instead of just thinking about it, why not pour it all out, actualize some ideas that are just begging me to be released for the sake of – well, freeing them and freeing myself from having to rein them in because I’m constantly thinking about them anyways. Get my hands dirty and try it! And maybe, this was that thing, ‘passion’ people keep talking about – you learn from experience and I’m up for experiencing all.

why can’t I be…

“Why can’t I be so and so?”

Simple: I’m too busy being myself.

Yes, I’m sure everyone’s heard some version of this. Being a copy is the waste of the person you are. Yet, it seems very difficult for a person push for that individuality when society more than encourages us to be one way or the other. The ever homogenizing norm, which in my opinion serves as a reference book, but definitely not a guidebook.

Outside of law, conformity to norms often means reward, or certainty of reward. Disobedience often means punishment or high tradeoffs. Or, in my opinion, it could also mean, exploration, in which you colour outside the lines with your life. Risky and bold and uncertain, with no guarantees – yet somehow, more and more, I find this to be more appealing.

It seems very difficult, in a sense to remain individuality in the world where people are often made feel insecure. And I’ve been in my share of situations where I’ve felt more than inadequate. Though, I do believe, this feeling is common and unavoidable in the population, regardless of how confident one might appear there were always be times where one is made to feel uncomfortable about their attributes and quirks. I tend to think that’s what makes people interesting and worth getting to know – their quirks and their edges – things that make them stand out from the masses.

Hence, I don’t see why people or myself even, at times wished to be someone else (perhaps it’s the ease that we see, or the ease we imagine our idols live their lives) but more and more I find myself more contented with the ways I’ve lived my life in recent days. How much I’ve discovered by being open to new experiences.

All in all.

Be authentic and true to yourself.

Anything else is a waste of time.

it’s within you

Matter of the heart is confusing and sometimes messy. It wants what it wants and sometimes it might not make much logical sense. For example, from a completely economical perspective, me taking that 6 weeks off during the winter and not doing much but burning through my savings and ‘exploring’ Europe, made very little sense. Not only did I sleep in cramped spaces shared with complete strangers, but also wandered around cityscapes alone post nightclub 4 AM, which is neither normal nor safe in hindsight. Logically, I could’ve done something productive with my time, worked, got paid and saved for retirement.

Ironically, I think that’s why this seemingly senseless drive is called matters of the heart – if it was matter of the brain, you could then convince yourself with logic, with the heart – it’s like dealing with a petulant child, dragging you out to the zoo on a warm Sunday afternoon when you’ve planned for chores since last Sunday afternoon.

So what if you gave in to those seemingly random whims that your heart kept telling you to do?

Lately, as I’ve found, as surprising as it is.

Fulfillment.

I realized just how little I know of the world when I travelled far away. And when I came back I was able to appreciate my surroundings with new eyes which gave rise to new ideas. I’ve learned to be more optimistic and my curiosity for the world around me is at an all time high. I can no longer accept the way I used to see things, and more than ever I find myself wanting to explore – to create. The motivational drive I’m experiencing is priceless.

This leads me to think, maybe it was all within me since the beginning – the reason why I went into Psychology as an undergrad was because I wanted to understand myself and others and learn about what makes us happy in the end. Only, explaining away happiness with empirical evidence and statistical formula didn’t appeal to me in the end. While the foundation for a good life, happiness and fulfillment that followed seemed to be universal, getting there on an individual level was baffling.

Individual happiness is more personal than what scientists publish in journals. It’s almost as if that annoying gut feeling you try to drown out using various means had been right all along. There’s no written guide – because it’s all within you to discover. It might come to you in dreams, or your waking moments, but once you’ve found it, ‘your calling’, ‘your passion’, you’ll know. But don’t trust me on this one, trust yourself.

Respect yourself enough to make it a priority to make that vision you see come true.

After all, you owe it to yourself.

Happiness.

time enjoyed is not wasted

As I sit here with my mug of lukewarm morning coffee in an IKEA cup and laptop browser on current world events. I’m reminded just how blessed to be here in this crazy world which I occupy temporarily.  Sure, there’s responsibilities to attend to on this Tuesday afternoon but for the moment that’s not important. I’m reminded how much there is to life than the microscopic problems an individual might have and might be consumed by.

I hiked in the woods yesterday and it was more therapeutic than I had imagined. Before I put my running shoes on, I was against taking that walk, thinking it a grand waste of time. Time I could be using ‘productively’ as society would tell me. I could be ‘producing’ something of value to others – something I’ve been putting off. Before lacing up, I had a myriad of reasons to not to go and I thought it was typical of a modern human living in a developed world to think it ‘boring’ to go so far out just to walk among the densely forested area nearest to me.

It might even seem odd, to go out of your way to just take a walk when you could be pounding the concrete pavements outside and wearing out your branded sneakers. But then I got there in the dying sunlight and discovered sometimes things don’t turn out the way we imagine. As I went deeper into the forest and dog walkers and runners became few and far in between, the experience just became me, in nature. It wasn’t that there was a lot to see, or a lot of differences in the trees, but to be lost somewhere and to be reminded how peaceful it all was to be away from the hubbub of everyday life that demanded your attention. And it is ironic, as I did so, breathe in deep and recharge, finding that space, I had to remind myself to stop feeling guilty for lost time because this in itself is the process since sitting still and tackling a problem for hours on end like banging your head into a concrete wall is just not functional, and ‘this’ seemingly a waste of time, is necessary.

no quacks given, I am not a duck.

And here we are at another Sunday night, I hope everyone had a restful / productive weekend. I know I did. Weekend tip from musings:

“While laughter might not add years to your life, it’ll add life to your years.”

The ability to amuse yourself or find humour in otherwise mundane or difficult situations is a great asset to have. Not only are you less negative about obstacles if you just found the bright side of things. You’ll also be more optimistic and more able to handle the problem head on. Always remember there’s solutions to problems, even if they seem impossible now.

Keep positive, keep smiling, because you never know if tomorrow’s that life changing day you’ve been working towards!