Everyday, do something that will make you happy

I woke up today with a hacking cough, feeling my lungs were about to cough itself out. Of course I went to the doctor, and told my boss I was sick and took a day of MC. And then I consciously made the effort to not work today. I don’t think I’m wrong, but there’s this sense of wrongness that I should have done some work because other than my cough, I am quite up to working. But I felt like I needed that day of rest, so I spend the day resting, and just not working.

Of course, resting day means a day of creative pursuits, because unlike weekends I have got no commitment to other people, only myself. And that’s the best kind of free time in my opinion. I started a new written journal (been wanting to start one again for ages), worked on a art journal page, experimented with new tools and supplies (that have been lying around for ages), practiced my piano. And it was such an awesome feeling. I didn’t actually get anything done, because my muse isn’t into completing anything, but I hopped around from one idea to idea, and that lack of inhibition, to just play was something that I had sorely missed for a long time. When titling my journal page, this quote came to mind almost immediately – Everyday, do something that will make you happy. And I have come to realise recently, satisfaction is not to be confused with happiness. If you are happy, you wouldn’t be questioning it. What is it that truly makes you happy?

Ending with a very bad photo of a page that I did today, that made me happy:

First World Problems: Black Friday

Black Friday is usually the time when I splurge on buying art stuff, because sales (and thank you, friend in the US). This year though, i was hesitant to spend because I’m at a point when I feel like I’m stagnating, and buying more things is not the solution to it. (I would go as far to say that it might create more problems – and I always jump to Jennibellie’s video on how creativity is not bought from a store).

In a twist of events, this is what happened this Black Friday:

My very honest story of my life during Black Friday 2018, still uncoloured.

To be honest, I let out a breath of relief when the page refreshed and the prices shot up. Disappointed, because there were some items that I was really interested to get. But mostly relief, because I can stop deliberating on to buy or not to buy (and I spent so long on this that I’m judging myself).

Maybe it’ll sink in more afterwards, but I doubt it. Another reminder, to use what I have and really, creativity is not bought from a store.

When life gives you lemons, make lemon juice

So, my computer crashed after the last windows 10 update. I couldn’t reboot it, and it couldn’t detect the OS anymore on my computer… After some fiddling, I manage to get the Windows 10 driver downloaded on it again (using my old old computer to do it.. I’m spoilt by the quickness of newer technology). But, everything is gone from my computer.

Well, not exactly everything, since it did save a copy of my Windows during the reinstallation, so I actually do still have access to my old files. Not that it’s of much use since I’ve long since learnt to save everything on cloud, or on my hard drive. What really hit hard though is the loss of programmes from my computer, and the hassle to reinstall all of them again. Or at least the essential ones. Right now, I’m feeling the loss of Microsoft Office, which I will have to dig out my old disc to see if it can be installed again, because that disc has been so used and abused (flown from Asia to Europe so that I could install it when the same computer broke down while I was on exchange).

But there’s some silver lining here too, which I am really grateful for right now, since I spent all my time trying to fix this since I got home from work (and it’s the first day in the whole month I left work on time too). OneNote works (thank you, Microsoft), so I still got access to all my writing and stories draft on this computer. And Chrome is just a godsend, remembering all my settings, down to the extensions, themes and background image (this, especially, because I spent time actually curating my new tabs background images. I’ll think about how Google is utilising all these information from its users at another time).

So yeah, the really essential things stayed, which is already good enough, and since I’m starting from scratch anyway, I decided that I’m going to jazz up my computer! Or at least, it’s going to be different from before, because I’ve been using the same wallpaper for what, six/seven years? Hey what can I say, I’m a person of habit, and it’s hard to find something that suits my taste. Considering since I drew it. Here, have a look at this rudimentary work drawn with a mouse on Microsoft Paint, it’s a masterpiece I tell ya, creatively named “elephant”:

But anyway, new desktop background and new colour schemes, and I think I’m liking where this is going, until the next time I feel the need for a change (six/seven years later, probably, judging from past trends). And a fresh start also means less clutter on my computer, with all the programmes I don’t use anymore gone until a day I need to use them again. Funny how there’s some sentimental values to computer programmes that you once used but couldn’t bear to remove from your computer because you don’t know when you are going to use them again, and it’s going to be so troublesome to download when you actually need them.

And on a really, really, bright side, I’m so glad that I finished all my resume and cover letters yesterday, before all these nonsense happened. Yay (and thank god) to me for not procrastinating (so much).

I’m rambling I aware, because my plans for today (since I left work on time and all for the first time in what feels like forever) was to to write. But I couldn’t because of the computer thing and I knew if I put it off, I’ll just be condemning my computer to never work again, because I’m lazy at troublesome things like that. So yeah, you get a rambly, crazy girl instead of some coherent, well-thought out post, and a masterpiece of an elephant to boot. Isn’t that just awesome?

And I’m just going to go before I embarrass myself even further. Not that I really mind it at the moment, but I should. Bye. T’was was fun writing this.

Ponderings: Finding time

I’m so busy nowadays that it’s been difficult to find time. Or maybe more accurately, it’s been difficult finding energy that will allow me to utilise those pockets of time I have efficiently.

I like to think that I’m efficient, and it shows in my work, the things I can accomplish when I set myself to do it. But sometimes that spark just go away, and I want nothing better to do than to laze around and not care about the world around me. Unfortunately, much as I do so, it always feel like I’m not resting enough. And on the other hand, I feel like I’m not doing enough, that there’s a lot of time that I’ve wasted not doing anything.

I’m still trying to find that balance, and I suspect I may be too much of a workaholic and dedicating too much time to work. Add in the obligations to other people, I’m barely left with any time for myself.

Art, has taken a backseat in these busy times. I haven’t wrote anything or did much arting recently. At least, not in my art journal. Started a doodle journal recently and some days I’ll just sit down for 10 or 15 min to do something in there. It’s not much, and other art journalers may say it’s better than nothing, but honestly, I feel like it isn’t enough.

I’m trying to do more art and less journaling, if only journaling seemed to have dried out or something. I guess I can only conclude that my life has gotten more boring after adulting. Funny, because I’m supposed to be in the prime of my life and having fun but I feel like a old women with the lack of energy. Is this an introvert thing?

Typing this out on my daily commute. It used to be that I have half an hour of uninterrupted travel that I could type something if I wanted, but my schedule now only offers me 10 minutes. Take 5 minutes to warm up and then the other 5 isn’t really much of a time. And my other journey is usually a sleeping journey because it’s a bumpy ride and I get bad motion sickness. But oh well. Making this work, somehow. Sometimes.

And here’s a photograph, the most artistic thing I’ve done recently that I can find in my phone:

Happy Monday.

Ponderings: Last journal page of the year and the end of an art journal

There’s always something about the new year that makes you want to start something afresh on a whole new slate. This year, this sense of starting anew is particularly strong in me, as I made my closure for the old year, and welcomed the new one with a new outlook.

On the last day of 2017, I made this journal page:

It was a simple reflection page for the New Year, something I thought of when I while receiving messages to enjoy the last day of the year.

Four quadrants, two each for each year. For 2017, sad to see it go, glad to leave it behind. For 2018, uncertain about the future, looking forward. I wanted to reflect on the positive and negative of these two years, and I picked these four phrases because I felt like they best represent the thoughts I had for this New Year.

Perhaps because the reflection was so intentional, it felt really good to be writing down my thoughts down, unfettered, all the things that I did not manage to say in my journal for the past year. To me, this exercise was really good because it really allowed me to put 2017 behind (because so much things happened and I needed to resolve my feelings about them) and to look forward to the opportunities in 2018.

It was symbolic too, because as I finished the page, I decided that this would be the last page in this art journal, even though there was still a couple pages more that I could use if I wanted to. It just seemed like a nice way to end the year, to end this art journal which had been with me for the past two years. Don’t get me wrong, I really liked this art journal, and it’s my favourite yet, but I was so done with it, especially in the last year struggling with the negative emotions that I had. I felt like I needed to change, from being stagnant, because I have been struggling with my creative process – this is the second art journal I’ve done in the same style, so that makes it five years maybe that I have been doing it this way.

I’m desperate for change, and starting the new year in a new art journal seemed the perfect way to kickstart it all and to embody the whole “start on a new slate” idea. It’s not really a new year resolution, I think, not really, but it does represent the resolve and mindset that I have going into the new year. It’ll be more clear once I get about sharing the new journal I think. Just finished making it yesterday and haven’t got around to any pictures yet.

To all who are reading, hope the new year has been kind to you so far and here’s to a great year away for the both of us.

I’m trying to blog more regularly again (and it seems like I’m always trying to do that). I think I’m still kinda unsure of what I want to achieve out of this blogging thing, because it keeps changing and I keep having grand ideas that I cannot keep up with, but right now, I think it’s about me putting myself out there and not being afraid to show a part of me that I had been afraid to showcase for the longest time. With any luck, here’s to more art sharing in the year ahead.

(That’ll be me trying to take CJ Chilvers’ advice from Seth Godin to blog everyday. It’s not going to happen, but it’s a worthwhile aim.)

Till next time.

Ponderings: (Happy) Accidents

Been a long time since I posted, but I’ve been in a creative rut for the longest time – barely anything created, anything written for so long. Words in particular, were difficult and it resulted in a lot of silences. I turned to music a lot during this period, but even then there was something missing, because how can you express what you want to express when you can’t put the words to it? A lot of things happened in the past three months, and I’m finally finally feeling more settled right now, and getting back into a groove, slowly finding my rhythm back.

Played a little in the craft room yesterday, just grabbing whatever colours suit my fancy and blending them together with gesso. Pretty much a mindless process, but I’ve always had a soft spot for colours and how they blend. Then I came across a line while reading and thought of writing out something similar to it. Unfortunately, there was a little accident in the aftermath when I saw it again today:

I had used a dye based marker to write the larger words, and somehow, the ink spread out overnight, causing the words to become all blurry like. I could still read it, but it wasn’t as clear as it was before, because it was supposed to be the focal for the page. But then I thought of turning it into a creative opportunity:

.. and rewrote the words using a white pen. It still show up too much, because it reacts with the dye based black ink, but I can see it clearer now. It also reminds me of balloons for some reason, and I like it a little better than before now. It also seems symbolic, because of what this page is about – to embrace things, say yes, and believe that it’s where you want to be now, even if it didn’t feel like it when it all started.

I’m still coping with new things and essentially a new life, but I really do enjoy where I am right not. Perhaps not the same kind of enjoyment as I would define it before, but it doesn’t diminish what it means to me right now. Even if it was kinda an accident that landed me where I am. Did I wanted it? No, not really – want seems like such a loaded word. But it doesn’t mean that I’m glad for it to happen.

Currently…

A collection of small things I want to share. 

In some stroke of funny luck, my phone died shortly before this post on hands-free photography was set to publish. Which actually means that the post is no longer relevant to me because I’m no longer using an Android phone and have switched to an iPhone instead. I do hope that the post content is still helpful to all Android users though!

I’m not a big big fan of the iPhone, and still isn’t after a few weeks of using it. Maybe I’m the odd one because I don’t think people don’t fall in love with Apple after using their products. That’s not to say I hate it though, but I do already have an iPad, so I really don’t need the same features that my iPad can offer me in my phone. But why did I pick the iPhone then? Well, Samsung note isn’t available (I’m a big big fan of the Note series) and I didn’t like the look of the new Samsung Galaxy. And the other Android phones just can’t seem to compare.

Here’s what I’ve been missing about my new phone:

A built in stylus.
The loss of it has never been so acute when I was out one day and my fingers itched terribly to have a stylus in my hand so I can write/draw something to send to someone. I do have my Adonit Jot Pro that I use with my iPad, but it isn’t really that portable with my phone (or so I feel). At least with my iPad I can just tuck the stylus into my iPad cover bag, but with my iPhone… not so much.

My makeshift tablet input. 
I used to use my phone as a tablet input, through the VirtualTablet app, which is available only for selected devices. Granted, it doesn’t work that perfectly, but at least I have the option to make it work after some fiddling. Now.. I don’t even have the option to do so without paying for it. I tend to use the tablet input for photo editing on the blog, for drawing things like arrows. I did find another way around it, as you can see in the photos from the previous post, but it’s not a direct input from my phone to the computer, so the arrows aren’t as organic as I like them to be.

Here’s what I’m enjoying about my new phone:

The camera.
I still stand by that the iPhone has a pretty decent camera. In fact, all the photos from the last post were taken by my new iPhone, and I find the colours to be a little bit more true when I have HDR activated. Of course, now I’m missing the voice-control function, but so far I haven’t felt the lack of hands when I’m taking photo, so that could mean that the focus of this phone camera is better than my old one. That, or I haven’t taken enough photos yet. Time will tell. But yeah, I think the photos I take now look nicer, so I’m a little bit more inclined to take more photos yay!

Um, I think that’s it actually. Wow, I guess I must be really not used to my phone. I hope this gets better over time as I use more of it!

My Craft Diary Shop is finally open!

After years of deliberation and even more months of resistance, I’ve finally gotten around to selling the stuff I make online. I’m now selling my stuff on Carousell, which is mostly a local platform where people sell things, old and used alike but if you like any of the stuff I’m selling, and you’re not from Singapore, feel free to email me at mycraft.diaryshop@gmail.com to contact me and we can arrange something out.

You might notice that I’m not only handmade stuff on the shop. That’s because it started out with a few steps to overcome my own resistance, and selling old stuff that I no longer use/enjoy while purging my stash was a good way to start. It then evolved a little to selling the stuff that my mum didn’t want to keep in the house anymore, since a lot of people sell them on the platform as well. And then I finally finally got around to putting some of the stuff that I made. It’s not a lot at the moment, just some minibooks that I made, and painted tags from my stash. I’m planning to add more stuff, particularly handmade cards, which should give me an excuse to create them. I like to make cards, but I don’t send them out too often. Sure, my friends enjoy receiving them but it gets kind of funny just sending out cards again and again without any reply… Nowadays I mass send them on special days so I mass produce for that purpose too, which isn’t too creatively challenging if you ask me. But the alternative would be too tiring to make like 9 different cards for the same purpose within a short period time.

Really need to thank Jennibellie and the folks over at Journal Workshop for giving me this mental push and butt kicking to overcome my creative resistance for this May’s monthly challenge. But this is a start at least, as I’m one (baby) step closer to overcoming my creative resistance. I hope that this too would perhaps inspire you to tackle your creative resistance as well.

Currently…

A collection of small things I want to share. 

Lost on the road of life (and still in a slump). 
With art journaling being my main source of expression, artistic or not, this means that I’m having difficulties putting things down into words or finding the things that can describe what I feel right now. I’m still managing to do some art, still playing, but heart isn’t in it, so it makes everything seems very shallow. I guess I’m too used to being able to write down/ramble about the things that bother me, that this sudden difficulty is making me stumped. Also doesn’t help that my current art journal has been pretty focused on journaling and writing. So far, I’ve just been doing backgrounds or trying to draw/paint/whatever from watching video tutorials. Hey, that’s better than no progress at all right?

Reading a lot (a lot) of fanfiction. 
Admittedly, this is a guilty pleasure, because I just keep reading and reading and there’s no end to it, unless I force myself to stop. And that means the time I should be spending on other stuff is spent on this instead. I’m trying to limit myself here, but it’s a little hard. I have this habit of looking at stories of people who have followed/liked me, and there’s still a lot of backlog for me to go through, which is driving me crazy with the amount of clutter in my inbox right now. Note to self: create separate emails for different stuff, so I can compartmentalise better and stay saner (and done. *pats myself on the back*)

Taking the online classes I have paid for. 
It’s still a pretty slow process, because I try not to binge watch the videos from the classes. I try to create alongside these classes too, to get the best out of it. So yep, the process is a little slow, but making progress all the same. My iPad is like my best friend now for all the online stuff as it’s a comfortable size to watch videos (and I can being it to bed, when I really shouldn’t).

Songs I listen to over and over again. 
Because earworms are irrational, and you can’t help it. That, and watching movies with musical elements in the cinema (and their sound system).
Ajari Aku by Anuar Zain
 How does a moment last forever by Celion Dion (from Beauty and the Beast movie)

New additions to the craft room-cum-bedroom. 
I fell in love with the smell of candles when I was shopping at Ikea, and made a purchase on impulse. It’s been great catching a whiff of the smell when I sleep, when I wake up, when I walk into the room, because it just makes me so happy. I finally lighted the first candle today, after I bought the necessary candle lighting stuff so I don’t burn my house down. Funnily I couldn’t smell it much when the candle is lighted.. perhaps I need to light more than one at a go? I’m not sure, but the candle lighting stuff is making me really happy.

Trying to find something to blog about. 
I’m still struggling to post regularly on the blog, but with the lack of story behind what I’m doing, there’s like a dearth of things for me to blog about right now. I’m going to do a spotlight on the pens I have soon, and have already started preparing for it, so that’s something to look forward to. I just bought 10 new pens recently – yes, you heard right, but that’s because I have a voucher for it. It seems funny spending all the voucher buying pens in a bookstore, but honestly, I don’t need to buy more books when I have so many unread books that I’m slowly working my way through. Pens make me happy so that’s a good justification right?

So that marks the end of this little update/filler post. But the post on the pens would be good, I promise. Till next time.

Starting anew in 2017: finding momentum

Hi guys, it’s been a while since I’ve updated and I finally got the energy and drive to update today. So massive massive update ahead, but also lots of photos to feast on.

My current status is that I’m officially unemployed for the past 3 months (wow how time flies). I should saw that I’ve been busy looking for a job, but that’s a lie because the time just consists of a lot of waiting. What this means for my art and creativity though is that my life currently consists of no structure, like I’m bobbing along in the great big sea. Since starting blogging, I found that my most productive creative days happen when I’m busy with other tasks, so I am now consciously aware that having momentum allows me to flourish best. Spending 3 months without any sense of structure and time though… not a good environment to be doing art.

Perhaps it’s the idea of a new year, or perhaps it represents the start of a new life as I leave my undergraduate life behind, this year, I’m finding it easier to start something new (fingers crossed I don’t jinx it). Not just something new, but starting anew, as I try for a past me that have disappeared into the wind in the past few years.

I’m taking up planning again, like those student handbooks that you are forced to buy when you are in school. I have to confess that I used to love them though, and each year my handbook get filled up with reminders and homework and crossing outs. It’s nothing fancy of course, but it didn’t matter because it’s functional. I’ve tried to use planners again during my university days, spending the time and effort to search for planners that would suit my needs AND look pretty. It’s not that much of a lost cause, but often times I find myself not using them, and when I try to pick them up again, I found that I actually didn’t like to use them. This time though, I’m heavily inspired by videos of bullet journals I seen (particularly this and this) so I decided to go simple. I had a B5 binder notebook that I used for German note taking so I decided to use that. And with some new inserts, my planner is thus born. What I loved about this (and probably why it worked so well for me), is that I can just throw papers away if I did something wrong or if I didn’t like it, which frees me from a lot of the stress and pressure I put on myself.

There are tabs that came with the notebook that I used to keep section separate, but the main tab that consist of everything to do with planning is a mishmash of things that goes by chronological order (of when I started the page, not so much what’s on it). I found that it doesn’t bother me so much, and it’s actually kind of nice to be flipping the pages back and forth, rather than just staying on one spread for the week and never needing to move away. It’s adds to the illusion of doing something too, because most days I don’t need to spend too much time writing in the planner. A few photos of how my journal looks:

These quotes used to hang on my wall, but I’ve stopped paying attention to them and one could only feature one at a time so I stuck them into my planner instead
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Daily log page where I write down the things I need to do/plans for the day. I don’t use it as often as I should, but when I do it works fabulously to keep me on my (self-designated) tasks
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This gratitude page started out from a monthly challenge prompt and I’ve kept it to see where it would take me. I’m reading a book called “The Happiness Project” which mentioned that gratitude can make one feel happier
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My Habit Tracker page, which is the page I used the most often and turn to the most

I’ve also started a page on tracking my habits and I’m enjoying it so far. I have unfortunately gained (more than) a few bad habits and lost a few good ones, so I’m trying to get back on track by making them visible, and having a chart to mark off each day allows me to track my progress, and reminds me each day of what I have to do the next day/week/month/whatever. Some habits are easier to get back into than others though, like remembering to put apply face cream in the mornings and nights, and others doesn’t seem to get done at all (the habit that read “Post on My Craft Diary once a week” has been there since January). Yet others seem to have mixed success that I can’t seem to achieve consistently, like sleeping early or bathing early. Nonetheless, keeping track of my habits works for me so it’s something I’m sticking with.

A lot of my drive in picking up new habits come from the first piece of artwork I did this year. It’s a reflective piece, in which I think about the things I want to achieve in my life, and the things I want to keep out. It’s almost like my resolutions for the year? Though I’m not sure if it can really be considered resolutions because they are just big and broad aims I have while I’ve distilled them into workable actions that are manifested in my habit tracker. The piece if now hanging on my wall though, and it makes me happy to just look at the piece on the wall, if only because of the colour. Here’s how the piece looks on the wall:

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And here’s how it looks at the background stage plus some details on the layers. As usual, you can click to view an enlarged image.

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collage, paint and drawings

paint, stenciling, drawing, paint splatters

collage, paint, stencilling with gold paint

I may not be doing a lot of art, but it has not been completely bare these past few months. I did go on a few shopping sprees, so I have quite a few additions to my supplies. They’re mostly utilitarian though (like 3 different type of glues or blade refills), though there are some new yummy supplies that I’ve bought to keep that creative spark (mostly the inexpensive stuff like new pens or ink colours). I finally finally bought the set of paper bead roller that I’ve been eyeing ever since this video came out and it makes paper bead making so much easier. I promptly broke in the new tool by making beads out of scrap pieces of paper that has been lying around for years – that’s what I call killing two birds with one stone 😉 Here’s a look at the bead making process:

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Drying the beads after glazing

I’m also trying to reacquaint myself with the Jennibellie’s Journal Workshop community, and have been chatting with the creative peeps there occasionally. I may be very much out of it but it nice to have a place where I can just drop by, some place familiar where I feel comfortable, and Journal Workshop is just the place for those moments. I participated in the last art swap too, and I think it’s been almost two years since I last did an art swap. We made some paper flowers for the swap and I really liked how these turned out, with the embellishments and all. Hopefully my swap partner would like them!

My main project now is my Japan travel journal, which I started in December and then stopped because I got busy during the holidays (Christmas & Chinese New Year). I started picking it up again a couple of days back, and then somehow fiddled with a camera and video setup. In a stroke of brilliance, I found a set up that works, and doesn’t take too much time to set up, though the setup is rather amusing.

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I use a short table as a temporary work for this project, because I bring out a lot of materials that wouldn’t fit on my usual workspace. You can’t see in this photo, but surrounding this table is an arc of supplies and things I would need for the travel journal, with just an empty space in the middle where I can sit down. Because my craft room is also my bedroom, I used my bed to help in the camera setup, and added cardboard boxes and even my pillow to prop up the selfie stick to a appropriate height. Nothing fancy, so hopefully this means that I might take more videos in the future! I also posted a video of a short flipthrough of the parts I worked on these few days on my instagram which you can view below:

As you can see, I usually go off on a tangent while I do things, even when I have definite plans. But it’s not a bad thing, because it usually end up being productive, like a new burst of energy to do things. While editing this post, the tangent brought me to create a stamp with the My Craft Diary logo, and it’s pretty easy to add to the images, so that’s a success. *Does happy dance* Have been wanting to do this for a while, but I was finding it a drag to learn how to do it. I did it on Photoshop before, but gimp is a little different and I’m not particularly familiar with the programme, so Google was the best way to go. I think that’s all the updates I have for this post, and hopefully, this marks the start of the habit to post on the blog once a week. Thanks for stopping by.