I was never a water person. I rarely drink water (by itself), and when I did I was very picky. If I taste just a slight hint of flavor there, or lack thereof, I refuse to drink it anymore. I just want my water to be tasteless and clean. It’s very hard to explain what kind of water I want but I hope you somehow get it.
When I got pregnant though, I started to experience the importance of water. Note that I did not use the word “learn”, because I already knew then that drinking water and staying hydrated is important – what I didn’t know though, is the exact physical effect of not drinking enough. And so it happened – the lining of my uterus got too thick so I had to drink more or else my baby would run out of water.
You can just imagine my fear. It’s the life of my baby we’re talking about here. I didn’t even like water – and now I had to drink more?!
The complications of my pregnancy is an entirely different story to tell in another time, but what’s important is that somehow I got through. And drinking enough water everyday was a big help.
Unfortunately, I slowly drifted back to my same old non-water drinking life after my pregnancy. I’m just human, and I just can’t help it. But now, even without a matter of life-and-death situation, I’m taking control and committing to drinking enough water everyday. This is still in line with my goal to live healthier as I mentioned in my earlier posts – and also the reason why I specifically made it a point on my morning routine.
Benefits of Drinking Water
There are countless reasons why we should drink more water. Mind Body Green, shared a few:
It makes us feel good. Our body is made up of mostly water, you see. And not drinking enough water might lead to different health issues. It also pumps up our energy (which is why it’s good to drink water the moment you wake up!). It flushes out toxins. And finally, it boosts our immune system.
It makes us look good.Sure, drinking water can make you healthier – that’s a given. But did you know that just by simply drinking water, you can actually look better? Yes, that’s right, because water can help you shed those extra pounds, make your skin glow, and it’s even good for your hair!
Making It A Habit – The 30 Day Challenge
Now, if you’re like me, drinking water doesn’t come up naturally – so it has to be a conscious effort for me to be able to drink more water. It has to be a habit.
They say that it takes 21 days to form a habit. Forming one could feel like a chore or a burden at first, but after 21 days it would feel more natural because it becomes a part of your routine. It finally becomes habitual. However, just to make sure that it does become a habit, I’ve decided to extend the 21 days to 30! Not to mention that there are surprisingly a LOT of different 30-day water challenges out there.
I have found a lot of other people online (especially on Pinterest) taking on this challenge like me, and I have found incredibly creative ways to go around doing this. Let me share some of my finds below:
By enjoying coconut water.Dani Stevens talks about drinking coconut water to hydrate. Here in the Philippines, it’ more popularly known as “Buko Juice”.
Through healthy fruit infused water. And finally, numerous recipes are available online on how to infuse water with fruits for additional vitamins and flavor – watch out for my next post as I share with you my collection of 55 fruit infusion recipes! In the meantime, take a look at my Pinterest board below as I pinned different ideas to help with my water drinking challenge: Follow Artsy Nanay’s board Staying Hydrated! on Pinterest.
My Personal Challenge: Drink Water!
And now let me show you my battle plan:
The Water Intake Log.First, I prepared a water intake log for myself. I also made stickers that I can easily stick on my bullet journal. (By the way, these are available as free downloads at the end of this post!).
Marking My Bottle.Then, as what I’ve mentioned above, I marked the water bottle that I take with me to work. Yes, this was my prize when I completed the 10th day of my morning routine. It’s just a small 500ml bottle. I almost bought a 1L one, but it would’ve been too heavy for me to lug around, so I settled for this one. Plus, it has a tea strainer!
Rewarding Myself.After I marked it, I realized it was just too crowded and I didn’t like the way it looked, so I reduced the marks. And since I also drink water at home, I dedicated two mugs for morning and evening drinking instead. These are what I usually fill with other goodies, like coconut water – or fruit infused water! Little treats for myself for starting and ending the day healthier. I lessened the marks after by removing them using a bit of polish remover and washing it thoroughly right after.
I have tried this challenge before and have failed. Take a look at the original habit log below. The box with slashes mean the number of glasses missed. I was trying to make up for it on other days, but eventually I thought allowing myself a “way” for me to “make up for it” would ruin the challenge in the first place and even encourage my lack of discipline. So I’m starting all over again! I really hope it goes better this time around.
And now, as promised. below are free printables: a water challenge log, and water tracker stickers: mini ones and mason jar ones. Enjoy!
Hi guys, Happy New Year! It’s been a while since I’ve last posted but don’t worry, I’ll start writing more from now on. A new year calls for changes and here are mine right now:
New Year and New Changes
I have recently quit my job.Yes, I’m back to being a stay-at-home mother and freelance content writer. This might mean possible financial challenges this new year, but I am pumped up and ready.
I have joined Mommy Bloggers Philippines.This is probably one of the highlights this month. I’m really happy that they responded to my email, I’m just waiting for their go signal so I can proudly put the group’s badge on my site.
I will officially be an artist.I’m currently working hard on my art and hope to be part of an artist group this year!
2016 is going to be a big year and I’m very very excited!
Aside from that, this month also marks the anniversary of my life’s biggest challenge. It’s weird to think that exactly a year before, I was hooked to a life support machine with tube inserted to different parts of my body. You can read the whole story below. This was from my original FB post:
Dearest friends, it really is such a good thing to be able to talk to you again. I have missed you all, and honestly it still feels like a dream to be alive and typing right now especially when I almost died.
Ever since I got pregnant last April 2014, I bled from the very first day. Hence, I was forced to leave my job. I took meds and while the spotting didn’t really stop, I felt fine. But then when August came, it got worse. Blood started flowing between my thighs one day so I was rushed to Medical City.
My cervix dilated to almost 3cm. there was too much blood that during the ultrasound, they had to flush out more blood because they can’t see the baby anymore, only hear his strong heart beat.They also discovered that I had a low-lying placenta. Thankfully, a miracle happened and both me and my then, unborn child, survived.
After two weeks of confinement, I was allowed to go home, though this time I needed to be in complete bed rest which meant that I wasn’t allowed to stand up, not even if I had to pee or poop. I did everything in bed.
Come October, another complication came. I was diagnosed with a genetic gestational diabetes and went on a strict diet. I had to check my blood sugar three times a day and inject insulin twice a day which meant that I had to prick my fingers to examine my blood thrice, and inject myself twice a day.
Come November, painful contractions started and again I was rushed to the hospital. My baby was becoming so long that he can’t fit inside me anymore. There were even times that his foot would get lodged into one of my ribs.
After a week, I was allowed to go home, but after a day the contractions started again, and again I was brought to the hospital. Twice this happened, and every time I would be placed in the Intensive Maternal Unit, or the ICU for pregnant women, with my belly and arms hooked into machines and IVs monitoring me and my baby’s every heart beat and movement.
Upon the third time, I wasn’t allowed to go home anymore. I stayed at a ward with 6 other patients, our bed spaces divided only by thick curtains. It should have been fine if only I was allowed to go to the bathroom to do my thing, right? I never felt comfortable pooping in bed with other people around, even after three months. Yes, I stayed in the hospital that long.
Everyday, I had to pass two Non-Stress Tests which monitored my contractions. This was very important since my cervix dilation did not really close up since August. The injections and finger pricking doubled as well. Plus, aside from being hooked up into an IV, I had to take several meds, with one required to be inserted into my vagina everyday. Thank God the nurses assisted me in everything.
Come December, we found out that my baby had three cord coils around his neck. I spent Justin’s birthday, my mother’s birthday, and Christmas at the hospital. On the morning of December 31, the contractions were already too strong to control. I was brought to the Delivery Room. I labored all day but after 24 hours, my cervix still wasn’t dilated big enough.
After normal labor, I suffered from induced labor. You could tell by now how much our hospital bill would be so I was trying to endure everything without anesthesia. But after a few hours, especially after they burst my water bag with something that resembled a mini crow bar, I finally gave up to the pain and enjoyed a nice dose of epidural, which to my horror was not enough for the pain anymore since my baby still did not want to come out.
After another two hours theygave me a stronger one and was brought to the operating room to undergo a C-section. Yes, I went through 3 types of labor. Then, on the night of January 1, I gave birth to a perfectly healthy, though a bit premature, bouncing baby boy named Aleister Gregory. My due date was supposed to be January 29.
It didn’t take me too long to recover. I spent only an hour in the recovery room, and then I was able to stand up already and poop inside a locked bathroom the next day.
After a week though, still in the hospital, while breastfeeding my baby, I suffered a seizure. That was the last thing I remembered. My eye sight just flickered, everything went black, then, after what seemed to me was just a second, I opened my eyes and found a lot of doctors examining me.
That night I slept, and then I woke up ten days later inside the ICU, at the Acute Stroke Unit, with a respirator inside my throat breathing for me, a feeding tube inside my nose, my tongue really swollen that it couldn’t even move nor feel and taste anything, bruises of different colors everywhere, wires hooked from my chest and my head to different machines. I was unable to feel my limbs, I was hooked into 6 IV bags, my vision was really blurred, I was twisting in unbearable, unspeakable pain, with a priest beside my bed, blessing me, and when I tried to move I discovered that my hands and feet were tied to my bed.
I vaguely remember though that I stood up and saw my mother looking at my body, but I wasn’t really there. I was at her back, and she walked right through me.It scared the shit out of me.
I wish I could tell you that it couldn’t get any more worse, but when they started removing the tubes…did you know that respirators are attached so deep that they are lodged inside your neck? And the food tube inside my nose? That thing went as deep as my chest. They pulled it out when I was already awake. Both tubes had blood after being pulled out. And yes, it still got worse.
I gagged at my own saliva, and I was told that I already woke up a couple of times but I didn’t talk, and when I did, I wasn’t able to remember my husband, Justin. When I tried remembering him, the nurses told me that I got so stressed out I convulsed again. I still can’t remember anything that has happened during those ten days, even now, and probably never will. Good thing when I finally woke up, my memories of Justin returned.
My doctors said that I developed a seizure disorder after giving birth with post eclampsia. My blood pressure went as high as 200 over 100.
A few more weeks after that I was already allowed to go home. Our bill amounted to almost 2 million. Until now, we still owe the hospital 400k. We are going through really hard times right now, and I’m still taking antiepileptic meds to control seizures. I am still not allowed to work nor study anytime soon. But with a proud smile on my face I can still say that I am the happiest and luckiest woman on Earth right now, with Justin, Baby Agie, and the second life granted to me.
Thank you for reading!
My body still sometimes fails me until now. My still shaky hands would drop things, or I would wake up and feel completely wasted even though I’ve had a good night’s rest. But little by little I can feel the recovery. There were things that I was able to do before I got pregnant that I wasn’t able to do anymore after giving birth that I am already capable of doing now – like work and draw and a bunch of other little things that remind me that I am getting better and I will even surpass the old pre-maternal me. And I am going to do a bunch of those things this 2016. Again, Happy New Year!
It all started when I decided to live a more soulful life this year, after my near-death experience last January. After I gave birth, I suffered from a weird seizure disorder and was in a coma for 10 days. Miraculously, I woke up (though in great pain), and here I am now. I’ll reserve that story in another post. And, as I have mentioned in my previous post, I have pondered for quite some time on how and where to start my “life-changing plan”. I already know the answer now: at the beginning of each and every new day.
To help me on my journey, I went back to reading one of my favorite blogs of all-time, Zen Habits by Leo Babauta. Back in 2007, I remember reading one article of his: his morning routine. I was a young student back then, and due to my irregular schedule (school and org events would randomly pop-out of nowhere), starting a morning routine like Leo’s was out of the question.
After a few years, I have been going back to this particular post of his, and every time I have a found a reason why starting a morning routine would be inconvenient. But now, I am finally braving the opportunity of my regular 9-6 work schedule to start a healthier morning routine and probably do other improvements in my life. Our baby wakes up around the same time anyway.
So in his post, Leo listed his morning routine:
Wake up at 4:30am
Set 3 Most Important Things (MITs) to accomplish for the day.
Fix lunches for his family and himself.
Eat breakfast while reading.
Exercise or meditate.
Wake his family at 6:30am
Of course, I still have to tweak this routine to fit into mine because one, I don’t have to fix lunches, and two, our family needs are different. I have a husband who goes to work with me, and we have a baby to feed every morning.
V – Visualisation (Creating “visions” or mental pictures of specific behaviors and outcomes you want to occur in your life)
E – Exercise (Any simple physical activity like walking)
R- Reading (Reading a book that encourages soulful living)
S – Scribe (Journaling)
Pretty interesting, right? Aside from these two blogs that I already mentioned, I also researched around the internet for other helpful articles that would help me come up with a plan that would fit my own personal needs. Hence, I was able to come up with the post that I have previously shared with you.
MY MORNING ROUTINE
And now let me present to you that initial “action plan” that I came up with:
Wake up 4:30
Prepare water for shower, and while I’m doing that, I’ll plan for the day already.
Shower and change to comfy clothes.
Meditate / Exercise (and under meditation: Silence, Affirmation, and Visualisation).
Eat breakfast while reading
Get ready for work at 6:00
There were immediately two problems that come up: the plan was completely self-centered, I wasn’t able to make some time for Baby Agie and Justin; and another thing was that I forgot to account for the time involved in preparing for breakfast.
Eventually, after a few days of trial and error, I now have a solid morning routine, more-or-less:
4:30 – Wake – up
4:30 – 5:00 Drink Water, Shower
5:00 – 5:15 Prepare Water for Tea and Meditate
5:15 – 5:45 Journal / Read While Having Tea / Crochet
5:45 – 6:00 – Wake-up Justin and Prep for Work
6:00 – 6:30 Feed Baby Agie
6:30 – Leave for work
CHALLENGES ALONG THE WAY
Coming up with this routine, and maintaining it was not easy. There were days that waking up early was unbearable. I just wanted to hug my pillow, and prolong my relationship with my bed. But I knew that this would just be equivalent to throwing my new habit (along with the other goals and habits that I’m planning to attain) right outside my window.
My first few days of meditation were difficult. My mind was cluttered, noisy, and easily distracted. Not to mention that I had to force my back every time because of my lack of having a good posture – which meant that relaxing was almost close to impossible. Well at least it was helping with keeping me awake!
Also there were days that I showered at night so it became a “valid” alibi for me to wake up later – around 5 to 5:30. Of course, that would break the “routine” and mess up my body clock. I could almost hear my body saying: “Make up your mind girl! If it’s 4:30, let’s stick with that. If it’s 5:30, I don’t care as long as it’s routinary.”
However, on the fifteenth day, things started to get better. I was already set on waking up at 4:30. My meditation was literally magical. I was having new visions every morning. And I was able to buy myself a new water bottle to launch my new water intake habit.
Of course, my mornings are still a long way from my ideal morning. I still need to make a lot of adjustments. We’re currently struggling with breakfast. When I didn’t have a morning routine, we would wake up late, rush to work and not have breakfast at all. But now, since we already go to work earlier, we have time to grab breakfast somewhere near our office. Pancakes and sausages from McDonald’s every day though is definitely NOT my idea of a healthy breakfast. Well, at least we have breakfasts now, right? It’s WAY better than not having breakfasts at all.
IN THE FUTURE…
In line with that, I am currently planning and researching on quick breakfast ideas. I also want to incorporate tea drinking to my routine – since we are ultimate tea fans. And finally, I am also rounding up my “Breakfast Book List”.
How about you? Have you started your own Morning Routine already? How’s yours going? I would love to hear about your experiences as well. Feel free to leave that on your comments below. If it’s also a blog post like this one, then leave the link below and I’ll be glad to read it. I just love finding out about other people’s morning habits!
I have made a random decision last month to live healthier. Yes, that’s right. I just woke up and told myself: “Virna, it’s high time for you to start living healthy”. Now, what I wanted was a complete overhaul of my current lifestyle. What’s wrong with my current lifestyle? I’ll tell you more about that later. Naturally, I didn’t know where to start. A lot of articles online pointed me to diets, exercises, among many other things, but I know that I need something different. I need something simple that I can commit to. I know myself, I’m only good at starting things, and sustaining stuff is a big issue for me. I also want something that, though small, can still have a big effect on my life; something that would surely motivate me further into my “healthy living” goal. And so, after a few days of pondering, it dawned on me. The perfect way to start something, is to start from the very beginning. I realized that to live healthier, I must first start it on a healthy and positive note as well. And thus begins my journey in finding the perfect morning routine.
A STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE TO LESS HECTIC AND MORE SOULFUL MORNINGS
Now I’m not saying that there’s only one morning routine that anyone can follow, because there’s none. What works for me might not work for you. But reading this post might help you towards the right direction of coming up with the routine that fits you perfectly. Let’s go!
The first thing that you need to do if you want to start a morning routine (or whatever habit it is that you want to start in life) is to find your drive. Know what keeps you moving. Why do you need a morning routine? What’s your goal? Is it to be more productive? Is it to have more soulful mornings like me? Write down the reasons why you want to wake up earlier on a small piece of paper and keep it handy. We’ll need that later on.
Here’s mine: I want to have more soulful mornings.
STEP TWO: Determine Your Specific Needs
After finding out what you want, next you need to determine what you need, and what your current situation permits you. Are you a mother? Or a college student? Do you have a really early class? Take note of the things that you ABSOLUTELY NEED to do in the morning – these are your essentials. List them down, prioritize, then start pruning.
Feed Baby Agie.
Prepare for work.
Help Justin prepare our things.
Maybe a quick breakfast if we’re still early.
WE MUST LEAVE HOME BY 6:30
We are new and fairly young working parents, and our baby spends the night with us. This is the only time that we get to bond with him during the week, (not to mention that he’s usually asleep already whenever we get home), so I want to squeeze a few minutes each morning to extend our maternal bonding. Baby Agie’s now in the stage where he can sleep all night but he gets awfully hungry in the morning. So I want to feed him before I hand him over to my parents. This is an absolute priority I can never remove from my list.
Next is taking a quick shower. I can also shower at night (and before starting my morning routine, most of the time, I did), but I have recently discovered the rejuvenating effect of a cold morning shower. After showering, I wake-up Justin and he’ll be the one doing his morning things, while I prep for work. I take a bit of time prepping so I usually finish around the same time Justin does, during which he’ll take over and prep our things (whenever I do it, we always tend to forget something, either our keys or our IDs, haha). Finally we kiss the baby, and head for work.
I’m thinking of pruning down my list and take all the preparations at night. But that’s probably the only thing that I can change. If you want to start with something even more simple then you can do this: choose three priorities + three things that are in line with your goal.
STEP THREE: Work Backwards and Strategize
After listing my priorities down, as I have stated above, I next list down the three things I want to add to my mornings in line with my goal which is to be more soulful. These are: a cold shower, meditation, and a few minutes to journal. This will determine the time frame that I need to allocate for my new morning routine. Chrissy over at Organise My House had presented a useful technique to do just that: WORKING BACKWARDS.
So according to her article, you need to determine the exact time that you want to leave the house, then how long each activity takes. From this list, you will easily determine what time you should wake up. I already have mine, I want to leave the house at 6:30 a.m. So now my list looks like this:
4:30 – Wake – up
4:30 – 4:45 Meditation
4:45 – 5:00 – Shower
5:00 – 5:30 Journal / Read
5:30 – Wake-up Justin
5:30 – 6:00 – Prep for work
6:00 – 6:30 – Breakfast
6:30 – Leave for work
STEP FOUR: Start Small
Next step is to be realistic. I mean come on, if you used to wake up at let’s say, 6:30 – can you really wake yourself up two hours earlier? Don’t force yourself to do something drastic. Look at the list that you’ve just made and locate the one that happens 15 minutes before you usually wake-up.
For me, I used to wake-up at 5:30, and on some days at 6:00 a.m.That will only mean that on my list, the item that I’ve listed immediately before my wake-up time would be to journal or read. But my priority is to meditate, so I incorporate that first. I have now decided to wake-up 15 minutes earlier to make time for meditation. Doesn’t seem to hard isn’t it? Then after a week, take the next item on the list, and wake-up another 15 minutes earlier, and so on. I also have what I call “Sleep-through Weekends”. These are the days that I specifically intend to oversleep. This is just a small treat to myself though. I found that looking forward to weekends where I don’t need to wake up that early helped me go through the week much easier. Take note though, that there are researches that claim that sleeping in on weekends is bad for the health, and I know that someday I might have to include weekends in my morning routine too – but for now, I am just being realistic that these weekends make my routine easier to cope up with while it’s still fairly new.
STEP FIVE: Time For The Test Drive
Now the fun part starts! Get a small piece of paper and tape it somewhere you’ll easily see the moment you wake-up. Set your alarm as it is and go for a test drive. Try out your new routine. Don’t worry, the first morning is usually the easiest to wake up to because you’re still burning with motivation.
After that, take some time to analyze how your first morning went. How did it feel? Do you think you need to make some adjustments? If there are some things that you would want to tweak, do so now. Any routine is much more enjoyable when you sustain it for a certain period of time. It’s not advisable to change a “routine” every other day or every week, or else it would not be a routine anymore, right?
STEP SIX: Acknowledge That It’s A Habit You Must Commit To
Once you feel comfy that your new routine’s gonna work, then it’s time to commit! Yes, the next step is to acknowledge that developing a habit is something that you need to commit to. They say that it takes 21 days to develop a habit – but I think it’s for as long as you want to commit to it. Let’s say you finish the 21 days, but in the 41st day something totally unexpected came up which made you skip your habit – the next thing you know, you’re back to your same old self. Believe me, it is THAT easy to fall back so even after the 21 days, you still have to stay focused.
Don’t worry, there are a couple of things that you can do to make it easier.
Turn your room into the right environment. Is watching TV the reason why you sleep late? Then this is probably the best time to kick your TV out of the room. How about surfing the net? You can schedule a couple of notifications to remind you for that. Put the alarm clock somewhere far from your bed that you’ll be forced to get up just to shut it down. Whatever works!
Tell people! Make it public. Post it on your blog. Tell your family or your roommates that you’ll start waking up earlier from now on. In that way, (for me at least), you don’t just feel guilty towards yourself during those lazy unbearable days. Also, they’ll understand when you pass on those late movie nights and they’ll also probably even remind you from time to time.
STEP SEVEN: Equip Yourself With The Right Tools
If you think there are tools that can help you in your routine then please do so. There are different alarm clock apps, meditation apps, and more that you can download to help you out. You can also print out helpful lists, or other printables (like a habit log) to track how good you’re doing. Don’t spend too much time on this though. Remember, if you want to find the perfect running shoes before you start running, then you’ll never finish that marathon! Other things that you would want to add could be listed as a reward instead (more on this later).
STEP EIGHT: Wake Up Early!
The only thing that’s left to do now is to start! Here are a few tips I’ve compiled from my favorite blogs to help you on your road to becoming a morning person.
Dale of The Daily Positive suggests to give yourself some buffering time the moment you wake up and start the day with something you love.
Leo of Zen Habits suggests to enjoy the break of dawn. Actually, if you read his whole article, you’ll pleasantly notice that he has inspired me a LOT.
Finally, for more soulful mornings, you can read Kara’s take on Hal Elrod’s Miracle Mornings on Boho Berry. It’s a morning routine which can be summarized into S.A.V.E.R.S. or Silence (Meditation), Affirmations, Visualization, Exercise, Reading, and Scribe. I haven’t tried it personally, but notice that a few of the elements on my own routine are identical.
STEP NINE: Find Inspiration
There will be days that your new habit will seem too much to bear. These are also the best days to prove yourself if you really are up to the challenge. Don’t give in. This is the time where Step One will come in handy. Remember the bit of paper where you have written your main objective and why you’re going through all of this in the first place? Did you keep it? Good. Now read it.
If it’s not enough, breathe, then search the internet for inspiration – THERE ARE LOTS! As I have already mentioned above, Boho Berry and Zen Habits are good choices. So is Mind, Body, Green. If these are not enough, Pinterest is a trove of inspiration for anything, including healthy habits.
For even more inspiration, you can follow my Happy Mornings Board on Pinterest. It’s a board I keep for more ideas and inspiration. It’s constantly updated too!
STEP TEN: Building On and Rewarding Yourself
Congratulations! You have developed a morning routine that’s perfect for you. After the first month, it is helpful to do a quick assessment on your achievement. You may adjust on the other things that you want to add or remove to your current routine. Also, don’t forget to reward yourself! There are other lights at the end of the rainbow other than a new healthy habit formed. How about buying that new book you saw the other day? Or, just an idea, like me, you can reward yourself with something that will help this current routine, or other things that you would want to make a habit off. As what I’ve shown on my Habit Log, I’ve rewarded myself a cute mug to “launch” my water intake monitoring. Small things that you will constantly use are good because they will serve as reminders of how you succeeded. Moving on, I’ll also give myself a new book and a new blender because I want to seriously focus on having healthy breakfasts at home, even if it’s just a meal replacement smoothie.
How is your journey on your new morning routine going? I would love to hear about it. In any case, stay tuned to my next post where I’ll share with you my own experience. Anyway, as a thank you for reading my post, here are FREE printables: a Morning Routine Chart, and an inspiring quote about mornings by Buddha himself. And before I forget, don’t forget to follow my blog with Bloglovin!
“Art can not be separate from life. It is the expression of the greatest need of which life is capable, and we value art not because of the skilled product, but because of its revelation of a life’s experience.” – Robert Henri, Artist.
Way back in college, I have come across a very interesting reading on what Art is written by Mary Ann Staniszewski, Ph. D, in Art History from New York. Staniszewski’s main argument was that Art is a modern invention, and everything that we consider as art that was created before the term was even coined is not and shouldn’t be considered as art. By this definition, it would rule out the intricately designed gold images from the tombs of Egypt as art, it would not regard the colorful ancient African pottery as art, and it would not consider Michaelangelo’s breathtaking Creation of Adam as art. To tell you honestly, it rattled my world the first time that I got to read Staniszewski’s paper.
As an MA student in Art History, it is somewhat ordinary to come across and discuss big terms in class; and whenever it’s my turn to use one (let’s say for a paper or for a report), I make sure that I have a clear and stable meaning in mind, and it’s also evident to my listeners my working definition and under which context I’m using it for.
Going back, if I’m going to study Art then it’s a given fact that I should have a clear-cut view on what Art is, right? Upon further reading and experience, here is my take on what is Art, Virna style, and to make it easier, I’ll layout this as more of a question and answer type of post. I’ll also take the end of my post as a venue to show the online world (for the first time) my illustrations and other artful creations. After all, what’s anartsy mommy blog if it doesn’t have its own definition of what art is, right? Let’s go!
What is Art?
The usual answer would be “it’s a way of communicating or expressing yourself that is louder than words”. That’s the way I’ve defined it before, and sometimes, I still define art that way – and that’s okay, because it is a way of communication not just for yourself or the artist, but art can communicate histories, cultures, and schools of thought, just to name a few.
With that said, for an object, or creation to be considered as a work of art, it should communicate something; it should have meaning; it should have value; it should have worth. And when the time comes that you encounter something that doesn’t mean anything, then you should also consider the thought that by creating something that doesn’t mean and amount to anything and labeling it as “art” might have a meaning on its own.
In connection to Staniszewski’s paper, it is of vital importance that for a creative work to be considered as “art”, it should be labeled and viewed so by the creator/artist that his work is art. That’s why the paper was so proactive to its readers in pointing out that certain works considered as art today may not be art at all because the very term “art” itself has just been recently invented – leaving the artist/creator of the works unaware that the object that they created could be considered (in concept) as art in the future.
There is an exemption though. Art could be recognized not only by the artist but by different levels of standard. Personally, if a certain work is considered by the community as a work of art, regardless if the object functioned as an eating utensil, or a religious instrument, etc, it could be considered as a work of art. If the academic community, namely the art historians, art critics, and the art scholars in general consider a work as a work of art, then that work inherits the title as well.
When should you use Art (capitalized), and when should you use art?
I use Art when I’m referring to the concept as a whole or when I’m making reference to the general and abstract thought of Art itself. Meanwhile, I use art to refer to the concrete objects considered as works of art. To push the discussion further, when you say “art”, you would be referring to the art that we discuss here: the product of inspired and creative activity, while “the arts” would refer to other schools of thought, for instance those belonging to the liberal arts.
What are the different forms of Art?
Personally, I find it easier to refer to them as static and temporal. With static, I’m referring to the ones that doesn’t “move” like painting, sculpture, and architecture. Temporal types however occupy a certain space in time, like music, dance, theater. They have the element of duration.
A lot of people usually consider when an object is art and when it’s not depending on how it looks like; and with that, let me add this one last note. It doesn’t matter whether a work is pleasing to the eye or not. Beauty will always be subjective to the person viewing it and each viewer looks at a certain object with their own lens that is influenced by the environment and culture that they grew up in, their friends and family, the history and the events currently happening in their lives and country, the media and popular culture that is trending during the time that they viewed the work, and finally their unique personal preference and mood at the time of viewing. So whenever you view or create something and you’re not sure whether it could be considered as art or not, remember that most of the time, it is up to you, the viewer or creator, to label it as so, and so shall it be.
My own illustrations and works of art
You’ll definitely see more works of mine in the future. In fact, one of the things that motivated me the most to put up a blog of my own is the thought of finally having a venue to show my works to the world. I’m still a long way off to becoming a professional artist. I also recognize that there are millions of other illustrators in the world that draw more beautifully. Not to mention that I’m still trying my best to practice more often to improve my skills. But, I told myself, if I cower to show my works in my own turf – then where else would I show them? So, here they are.
A bit of information about me as an artist. I’m a mixed media type of girl because I love working with different mediums, and I also enjoy incorporating different objects (like flower petals and dried leaves) into my works. I am most comfortable working with pencils. I’m currently improving on my portraits.
Another factor why I chose mixed media is because the world simply has a lot of fun things to offer! I find the entire process of creating works, and putting unexpected objects on them – that are otherwise not art materials – really fun and liberating. It gives me a certain feeling of control and power.
I don’t rush my works. I believe that the most important part of art is the creation process, that if you don’t enjoy making art in the first place, then why would you even bother becoming an artist? With that being said, I have works that take months to complete. I wait for them to “talk” to me; to tell me what they want me to do to them. I would stare at a work-in-progress a few minutes each day.
Finally, aside from illustrating, I also enjoy other things like photography and crocheting. I love recording and reliving memories, while crocheting has a very therapeutic effect on me.
This post was previously posted on my personal Facebook Account.
Pregnant women are said to be very prone to insecurity, and I am among them. Yes, even before I got pregnant, there were times that I just can’t look at myself in the mirror. I have a terrible acne problem which has only gotten worse during my pregnancy. People may think that “you’ll just get used to looking at yourself in the mirror”, but you don’t. I struggled pretty hard when I was in high school. I wasn’t tall, nor did I have the body of a bombshell. (I was accelerated for two years, so while my female classmates were already getting their periods by the time we reached high school, I only got mine before my junior year – I was only twelve. By the time we reached senior year, almost everyone had fully-developed bodies, while my boobs were…well, they were still nowhere to be seen! HAHA). It’s a good thing that I can laugh about it now. If there’s one thing that UP helped me deal with, it was my chronic insecurity and depression. My closest friends didn’t even know how close I was to taking my own life, because this is my first time going out about it.
The relationships I’ve been in didn’t help.
I thought, at 16, that if I get someone to like me, it would help me feel pretty. It did at the start, but the feeling died shortly after. I was in a relationship for almost 8 years with someone who constantly cheated on me. Everyone thought we were perfect, but every year, every “other girlfriend” I found out, my insecurity got worse. But I coped. I studied harder, and focused more on other things; trivial things that would help me forget how I feel.
After that relationship, I got myself involved with two more cheaters. This was the time when I suddenly realized that the reason why I might be gravitating toward these losers is because I’m a loser myself, so I changed. I dressed better, ate better, got my hair rebonded, bought dresses and shoes and other stuff that I believed could make me feel prettier. It didn’t matter to me if it made me look pretty, the important thing is that I felt good. And everything was doing pretty well…until I met Justin. Let’s admit, I have an attractive guy for a husband. I know he has his panget moments too but every time I look at him, he’s just perfect. In that precise moment that he started courting me, all of my defenses weakened and my insecurities came back with a vengeance. I just don’t get what this guy sees in me and I was pretty sure he’ll just cheat on me later on…until he proposed, and here we are.
Slowly he helped me get my self-esteem back. I started to feel genuinely good about myself. I started looking at myself in the mirror in a whole new light. This was the reason why I cried when his sister was already putting my make-up on, on the day of our wedding, becauseit was the first time I actually SAW MYSELF AND FELT as the most beautiful girl alive.
I started fighting back and I won.
So now I present to you the new me. Hair is one of the defining factors of being beautiful here in the Philippines, right? So I shaved everything of. I’m taking control of how my beauty is defined.
By the way, my husband wasn’t the only one who helped me in this. The beautiful women I met in life taught me it’s real meaning. First, I was raised by a strong woman who grew up in the small island of Rapu-Rapu Albay, Calinica Oflear, my grandmother. My mother taught me the value of independence and never having to rely on anyone for happiness. My academic idol, Flaudette May Datuin taught me to never give a shit about what others think. My cousin, Lisa Marie Clemente and instructor Roselle Pineda taught me the value of human rights and how to remain strong on your ideals. Atty. Ipat G. Luna taught me that a woman should be like Mother Nature, nurturing, supportive, but also knows how to kick-ass. And finally, one of my bestest friends, Diane Florentz, taught me that you should never let your relationships in life define who you are. I kept all your lessons well. Thank you!
Wedding in the Philippines is a bit tricky. They are full of different traditions. These small details I think are what makes every wedding unique, and let me share with you, our own experience.
I will never forget the exact feeling I felt while reciting my vows. In a few words, itwas a mixture of hunger, nerves, disbelief, and nausea. Taking all the romance out, that was exactly it. I was hungry (I wasn’t able to eat a single bite before and hours after our wedding). I felt really nervous (I wasn’t able to stop my jitters that I, or Justin, or someone from the hundred other people attending our special day might screw something up that could make our every-minute’s-video-recorded-wedding unforgettable for the worse). I was in utter disbelief. I just can’t take in the moment that our wedding’s happening, that I wasn’t dreaming, that all the planning that we’ve been doing for the past year has led to this momentous and sacred moment, and that it will only last for a few minutes. And I felt sick. I was scared that I might throw up right then and there. I can’t speak for other brides, but this was my experience. A lot of things, thoughts, and feelings were converging all at the same time that I felt like last Monday’s dinner might just break through.
I was in utter disbelief. I just can’t take in the moment that our wedding’s happening, that I wasn’t dreaming, that all the planning that we’ve been doing for the past year has led to this momentous and sacred moment, and that it will only last for a few minutes. And I felt sick. I was scared that I might throw up right then and there. I can’t speak for other brides, but this was my experience. A lot of things, thoughts, and feelings were converging all at the same time that I felt like last Monday’s dinner might just break through.
The night before…
I was at Sta. Lucia East Grand Mall, still looking for the last few touches for our Filipiniana-themed wedding. What I was looking for: 2 coconut husks to put the rings and coins on, and a bottle of Lambanog for our wine toast. What I ended up with: 2 small basket boxes and a bottle of calamansi-flavored Lambanog. Feeling a bit disappointed that I wasn’t able to find the coco bowls that I initially wanted, Justin and his best man, Diego picked me up at closing time. It was time for us to check in.
I found my mother preparing everything that we’re going to need for the big day – the gown, the barong, the shoes, the rings, the coins, the props – everything! We even brought the printer for last second printing of the reception script – which I haven’t written yet.
At the hotel…
We arrived at UP Hotel at around 10:OO in the evening only to find out that a 50% deposit was needed to check-in, and to our horror, we had no cash! The good thing that came out of this: I forgot to record a childhood video of mine that I planned to show at the reception party. This was a chance to go home and retrieve the video while we get money.
Again at the hotel…
It’s already 12:OO midnight. I started working on the AV presentation and the script, while Justin and Diego drank red wine – their definition of a Stag Party. We went to sleep at 3:OO in the morning.
The morning of the wedding…
We woke up to the knock of Justin’s aunt at 5:OO in the morning. It’s make-up time. The photo and video people arrived an hour after, with both of our family and closest friends arriving shortly after. It was DIY make-up time (which was no biggie because Justin’s aunt and sister were both make-up artists, “HMUA” was the more political correct term they say). It was in the moment of watching my still-sleepy self transform into a blushing and blooming bride, with the help of my make-up, did I start to feel a bit touchy.
The groom’s sister who was doing my make-up snapped at me that it was the worst time for crying because the eyeliner that she was using on me wasn’t water-proof. I had two realizations: Apparently for the bride to be snapped at, at such a touching moment, meant that I wasn’t the only who’s stressed out. And second, it should be against the law for make-up artists, oops sorry, HMUAs to use nonwater-proof make-up on people who are about to get married. I didn’t cry for the rest of the day. I cried a year after – while watching the video. Haha.
Inside the car…
I peered into the church through our car’s window. I saw my groom in a state of panic trying to get the entourage lined up. I smiled to myself, I already reached a state of calm – or so I thought. I gently touched the linen at the back seat of our car. The scent of our own car gave me the reassuring feeling that I was in the perfect place, in that perfect day, until I stepped out and to my horror, my veil fell off! I hastily put on the veil, and shortly after I realized another horror: I can’t see anything with the veil on. Yes, I strode to the altar in a zigzag (Justin recalls it as looking like a drunk gal walking, haha). Good thing my walk did not ruin Justin’s teary-eyed moment.
During the wedding…
I was often surprised when people don’t remember who was inside the church when they get married, until I was the bride. I don’t know if it was my veil, but counting people and trying to look at who made it and who didn’t just didn’t slip my mind. I was able to think of that at the reception – and even then I didn’t really care. I was happy with the people around me, my closest family and friends that other people didn’t really matter as much.
I remember my bestest friends congratulating us every time they go onto the altar to do entourage stuff: putting on the cord, lighting the candles, etc. I remember Justin looking really handsome and all teary-eyed. I remember some of the people looking at us, teary-eyed as well. I remember our officiating priest (a personal friend of mine) making witty remarks about how I was a UPean and that I would be a tough wife to handle. I remember Justin and I looking into each other’s eyes, exchanging rings. I remember feeling really nervous, as what I have already shared above, before falling into a state of complete happiness and contentment.
At the reception…
It was a sad thing that we weren’t able to enjoy the food. Being a married couple at their own wedding reception is no easy feat! We were really busy going around tables, taking pictures, kissing every time we hear glasses clinking. In the end, we were both exhausted that when the wine drinking came, I almost spit out the Lambanog because I didn’t realize it was too strong for me until only after I already heartily drank a big gulp.
After the reception…
The reception program was really long and it was all my fault. In the panic that I could miss something that I wanted to include, I “might” have included things that were too time-consuming. But it was worth it. I wouldn’t go into the details anymore since obviously this post is already getting unbelievably long.
There was a lot of confusion for me after the reception. There was a lot of money pinned to my gown that I need to remove. There were a lot of envelopes, inconveniently crammed into different places: my dress, my purse, my seat, even under my plate! Everyone was just handing me stuff that I didn’t know where else to put! But thank you guys, your gifts were a great help in paying the reception which we only settled in full only after the reception that same day. Only Justin, me, and my cousin John were left to take care of everything after because my parents already had to rush home because there were after-party preparations to attend to. I remember a deep feeling of dread when we finally closed the hotel room. I just can’t shake off the feeling that we forgot something – with all the boxes (there were 6 big ones and a bunch of small ones) and other things that we were bringing home.
And much to my surprise, there were people waiting for us outside the hotel – the photo and video crew! I forgot to pay them their on-the-day fee.
At the after party…
I must say, I was happier with the after party at home, just because I knew everyone. I had a lot of family members and friends who only attended the after party and not the wedding reception because we ran out of seats (there were more people from the groom’s side who attended – no biggie because I still had an after party). If there was one thing I was proud of with my new husband was that he was really game to socialize with everyone! I had the experience of attending after parties where only the bride or the groom was socializing, depending on whose side the party was for, with the other one either left out or just tagging along. But Justin really went out there and reserved a few minutes of his time to visit and mingle with EVERY group or table.
After the after party.
I can truly say that writing this post took me back to the experience. I can even feel some of the exhaustion right now. So what was my point in writing this post? It’s this one: weddings are tricky business. Even the dreamiest of weddings are chaotic internally – not unless you have the money to shell out for an (expensive) wedding organizer – and even then you’ll still stress out. I think I would have even stressed out a bit more WITH an organizer just because I’m not on top of things. I didn’t want to write a dreamy post because I wanted to show the reality: the stress, the tension, the love, the complete package. And I hope I delivered.
I lay in our bed alone (because Justin was still drinking with my cousins) with a heavy body but with a light fluttering heart. I had, I think, a really funny and weird smile on my face. I was married. I wasn’t alone anymore. I am going to start building my own family with another person who’ll be with me no matter what for the rest of our lives –someone whom I will love not with the rest of his life, but with the rest of mine. And then I fell into a 14-hour sleep.