What I Feel About Dying

When I think about dying, I’m always pulled back to that time when I was in a hospital waiting for my Uncle’s dialysis session to finish.

I was seated on a cold, battered hospital bench. And as it was a public hospital, I remember the lights are so much dimmer than it should be. Huddled around me were exhausted people, waiting on their relatives to get better. We only got the humid air going around, so many of them were holding fans or anything that may resemble it. Some of them laid slumped on the floor, trying to get a bit of sleep.

I remembered being so tired that day. Going around from the laboratories to seeking additional financial help from the hospital’s social welfare section. All I really wanted to do that moment was go home, wash all the dirt away and sleep like the dead.

And just as that thought popped, I saw this gurney pushed by two people. When they pass, I saw that on the gurney was a tiny body fully covered with white cloth. They’re going to the elevators. Straight to the hospital’s morgue.

Up until that time, I was convinced that I’m not afraid of dying. Death, after all is natural. As all people are born, all of them must die. But at that moment, I felt anger. And shame. Then guilt. And finally, I became afraid.

Dying made me feel anger

I was angry because it’s not fair.

That was a child. A dead child that cannot be older than ten years old. I looked back from when I was ten and that’s when I started to appreciate a lot of things – family, friends, school, teacher, even learning because finally, division’s making sense.

I was also ten when I realized that going over the school’s fence to cut class just so you can watch a betamax movie in your classmate’s house was pretty awesome. What I marked as an exciting start of my life was an end to that child on the gurney. It was so unfair.

What I Think About Dying

I felt like a good farmer put a sapling in well-lit place. Watered it good. And waited for the perfect moment when the leaves are fresh and tender just so he can smash it with his foot. That’s how senseless it is. Or like how I wasn’t able to get that division is multiple subtraction, just like what my Maths teacher said when I was ten.

If this world is what Darwin made it up to be, are the whiners the stronger ones? Because most people get to do that while others are dying. It’s unfair how people complain about living while others didn’t even have the chance to live. Or kept fighting for it but didn’t win, didn’t survive.

Dying made me feel ashamed and guilty

Shame swiftly came after. How dare I complain that I’m still able to do all these? What am I doing wasting this life for something so trivial as whining. I can always get some rest and then have a go on the next thing that I’d like to do because I’m alive. But that kid right there on the gurney? Not anymore.

I can’t help but think, did the kid knows he’s about to die? Was he able to do all that he can do with the time he’s left with? It also made me ask myself, “Am I doing anything worthy with my life?” Because I know I’m guilty of wasting so much time.

In that moment, in that place, people are fighting to live. They’re undergoing daunting treatments. They’re taking their chance at life. And there I was, a pathetic, ingrateful vermin, wanting to sleep off my mine.

Dying made me fear mortality and embrace life

And then I feared mortality. I know everything will end, but how? When? I was seized by this strong yearning to live. To get on whatever I was putting off. I thought about all the things that I’d like to do, all the places I’d like to see, all the people that I long to meet… All these things that life can still offer and that I can still grab on to – I want to reach out to them, I want to live my life in full.

In my mind, I thought, I know how valuable life is. But it’s only then have I learned how to cherish it. That instance when the gurney passed shocked me, scarred me for the rest of my life. But it humbled me as well. It’s a valuable lesson that I learned that night. And maybe by writing this, I just want to pass it on.

As always thanks for dropping by!


Featured Image by Aron

Inset Photo by Gabby Orcutt

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Successfully Adulting or Not

Adulting v. to do the things an adult is expected to do. This includes holding a job, taking care of the bills, maybe starting a family, going for your dreams, etc. It used to be called growing up. But really, it’s all about getting your life together. 

If you’re anything like me, you’ll soon find that it’s not the easiest thing to do. So often have I wished for a ‘Skip Adulting for Today’ button. If I have one though, I doubt it’s still working because I may have broken it by now.

What Helps Me Through Adulting

So much has been said about adulting. But I still find myself looking for an adultier adult, because it can get seriously frustrating sometimes. The following may sound preachy, but what isn’t? So far, they’re pulling me through:

Patience

Man, do I need to be reminded of this time and again. I used to be a firm believer that now is as good as any time. But I learned that knowing the “right time” is also a form of intelligence.

If you’ll be able to wait willingly and hold out with a good attitude, the outcome may surprise you. This doesn’t just apply to timing. It’s also about interacting with people. Like, how you learn to respond with grace even though you’re this close to hitting, punching or stabbing someone.

Or when you’re so excited to get approval from the boss, but the boss isn’t in the best mood to listen. It can also be about enduring the leg work now for all the wisdom and experiences that it will give you further down your career. Patience, my dear, is inevitably tied to delayed gratification. And in most times, you’ll realize that the end gratifies greatly, indeed.

Discipline

Or doing the right thing, at the right way, all the time. It’s about doing the thing that needs to be done, even if you don’t want to do it. Going to work on Mondays is a perfect example.

In some cultures, discipline means creating an order within you. It helps you put first things first and avoid making excuses. That’s why to me, discipline means honoring your commitments, your deadlines, your promises. It’s the ultimate test on following-through.

Determination

The kind that answers the questions: How badly do you want something? How much are you willing to pay (sacrifice) for it? These questions also test the quality of your decision-making. How firm you are in your decision affects how determined you are to accomplish it. I’m far from mastering this determination thing. Because I usually change my mind about everything. As we all know, motivation doesn’t last. But determination helps you persists.

Gratitude

…for everything because being alive is enough reason to feel blessed. There are bad circumstances, sure. But these downsides help us appreciate this one life that we’re given. Failure teaches you lessons. Success teaches you humility. ‘You live, you learn’ as the song goes.

 

Final Thought:

Nobody can escape this period and it will make up most of our lives. Granted, adulting can really be scary and tough, but hey, I’m with you, we’re still here. We’re going to be okay. Afterall, all of us is still a work in progress.

As always, thanks for dropping by!

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Ukiyo-e and Woodblock Printing: Japanese Magnificent Works of Art

Woodblock printing is one of the oldest publishing techniques. It came to Japan in the 8th century, used primarily in producing existing Buddhist texts and books of Chinese origins. But it’s not until the Late Edo period (17th to 19th century) that woodblock printing achieved the height of its potential as an art technique through the original works of Japanese artists called ukiyo-e.

UKIYO-E PRODUCTION

It used to be that ukiyo-e is produced through a complex collaboration between the publisher, artist, engraver and printer. So it’s the norm for artists to work in a studio during those days. But as time progressed, there are those who chose to create their work from start to finish. This video is an interview with Takuji Hamanaka, showing the traditional technique for woodblock printing:

 

UKIYO-E: THEMES AND CHARACTERISTICS

Ukiyo-e literally means ‘pictures of the floating world’. Originally, ukiyo was a Buddhist term to express the impermanence of human life. However during the Edo period, it became synonymous to hedonistic pleasures of people who embraced them all the more for their ever changing nature. Also, people at this time enjoyed peace. People were able to read and enjoy leisure time. Ukiyo-e became the most sought-after art form among the commoners and became the most affordable, fastest medium of spreading fashion trends and information.

Ukiyo-e focused on the ordinary things in life. Images usually depict colored narratives and include animals, birds, landscapes and people from lower classes, like courtesans, sumo wrestlers or Kabuki actors. Generally, the artists use exaggerated foreshortening, asymmetry of design, imaginative cropping of figures and areas of flat (unshaded) color. 

What follows are some works found at Ukiyo-e.org .It’s a database of over 200,000 prints, grouped according to artists and the time period they were made. It compiled works from the Early Mid-1700’s to the present time.

UKIYO-E ARTISTS

KITAGAWA UTAMARO (1753- 1806)

He is best known for his idealized portrayal of women in his works. It’s said that no one before him has ever captured a woman’s beauty as deeply as he did. According to Dieter Wanczura, he had experimented with some new techniques to display the flesh tones of his woman portraits in a different and softer manner.

Woodblock Printing and Ukiyo-e themindcatalog.com
Hitomoto of the Monji-ro, 1799
Vertical ôban; 38.4 x 25.1 cm (15 1/8 x 9 7/8 in.)
Woodblock print (nishiki-e); ink and color on paper
Source: Museum of Fine Arts Boston

 

Woodblock Printing and Ukiyo-e themindcatalog.com
Travellers on the Road at Miho no Matsubara, 1787-88
Vertical ôban diptych; 38 x 51 cm (14 15/16 x 20 1/16 in.)
Woodblock print (nishiki-e); ink and color on paper
Source: Museum of Fine Arts Boston

 

Woodblock Printing and Ukiyo-e themindcatalog.com
The Full Moon at the Time of the Imo Harvest, 8th month of 1789
9 1/4 x 14 3/4 in. (23.5 x 37.5 cm)
Polychrome woodblock print; ink and color on paper
Source: Metropolitan Museum of Art

 

KITAO MASAYOSHI (1764 – 1824)

Ukiyo-e and Woodblock Pringing themindcatalog.com
The Sixth Month (Rokugatsu), from the series Women’s Customs: Flower Viewing Parties, 1790
Vertical chûban; 25.7 x 19 cm (10 1/8 x 7 1/2 in.)
Woodblock print (nishiki-e); ink and color on paper
Source: Museum of Fine Arts Boston

 

No.4, Pulling Rice Seedlings from the Seedling Bed from the Series Women Farming
Vertical chûban; 22.4 x 16 cm (8 13/16 x 6 5/16 in.)
Woodblock print (nishiki-e); ink and color on paper
Source: Museum of Fine Arts Boston

UTAGAWA HIROSHIGE (1797 – 1858)

He’s dubbed as “the artist of rain, snow and mist”. His most popular series is the Fifty Three Stations of the Tokaido, which catapulted him to contemporary success.

Birds and Irises in Rain
Originally in Edo period. This one was recarved edition made in c.1930s.
Source: Ukiyo-e.org and Artelino Japanese Prints

 

Nihonbashi: Daimyo Procession Setting Out, Fifty Three Stations of the Tokaido Road, also known as the First Tokaido or Great Tokaido, 1833 – 34
Horizontal ôban; 22.9 x 35.3 cm (9 x 13 7/8 in.)
Woodblock print (nishiki-e); ink and color on paper
Source: Museum of Fine Arts Boston

 

Boshu Yasuda no Kaigan/ Fuji Sanjurokkei, 1858
Rural landscape. Fuji from Yasuda Beach in Awa province
Woodblock print; Nishiki-e on paper
Source: British Museum

 

Hakone; Kosui ca 1833 -34
Source: Ukiyo-e.org and Japanese website
KEISAI EISEN (1790 – 1848)

He’s notable for his works that feature bijin (beautiful women).

Woman Opening an Umbrella, Edo Period
Vertical ôban, upright diptych; 71.4 x 23.8 cm (28 1/8 x 9 3/8 in.)
Woodblock print (nishiki-e)
Ink and color on paper
Source: Museum of Fine Arts Boston

 

Autumn Moon At Mount Atago, from the series of Eight Views of Edo, 1843 – 47
Horizontal ôban; 24 x 35.9 cm (9 7/16 x 14 1/8 in.)
Woodblock print (nishiki-e); ink and color on paper
Source: Museum of Fine Arts Boston

 

Toda River Crossing, 1835 – 1838
Horizontal ôban; 23.6 x 36.3 cm (9 5/16 x 14 5/16 in.)
Woodblock print (nishiki-e); ink and color on paper
Source: Museum of Fine Arts Boston

KATSUSHIKA HOKUSAI (1760 – 1849)

He’s the greatest master of Japanese landscape woodblock prints. His best work is the series, 36 Views of Mount Fuji.

Self Portrait as a Fisherman, 1835
21.3 x 18.43 cm
Color woodblock print with metallic pigments
Source: Art Institute of Chicago

Among his works, this my favorite. There is that serene contentment on the face of the subject though we know there is much to be desired from being a lowly fisherman. And this mood seemed to be reinforced by the gentle flow of the water in the background.

Fuji from Kanaya on the Tokaido, 1830 – 1832
25 x 37.1 cm (image); 26.3 x 38 cm (sheet)
Color Woodcut Reproduction
Source: Legion of Honor, Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco

 

Umezawa Manor in Sagami Province 1830 – 31
Horizontal ôban; 25.2 x 37.7 cm (9 15/16 x 14 13/16 in.)
Woodblock print (nishiki-e); ink and color on paper
Source: Museum of Fine Arts Boston

 

Kajikazawa in Kai Province (Kôshû Kajikazawa), 1830 – 31
Horizontal ôban; 26 x 38.5 cm (10 1/4 x 15 3/16 in.)
Woodblock print (nishiki-e); ink and color on paper
Source: Museum of Fine Arts Boston

And of course, his work that made him immortal:

Under the Wave Off Kanagawa, 1830 – 32
Color woodblock print; oban
25.4 x 37.6 cm (10 x 14 3/4 in.)
Source: Art Institute of Chicago

WORKS OF CONTEMPORARY UKIYO-E ARTISTS

Here we can see how the technology has progressed and how Western artistic styles influenced the modern woodblock prints.

Yoshimoto Masao
Fuji From Lake Ashi, c 1952
Woodblock
Source: Japanese Artist Open Database
Morozumi Osamu b. 1948
Rice Field in Hakuba Village – Japan, 1995
Source: Ukiyo-e.org and Artelino

 

Paul Binnie
A Great Mirror of the Actors of the Heisei Period: Bando Tamasaburo as the Heron Maiden
oban tate-e 16 7/8 by 12 1/4 in., 43 by 31 cm
Source: Scholten

 

Two Cats
Inagaki Tomoo (1902 – 1980)
6” x 4”, Woodblock
Source: Japan Art Online Database

 

Crouching Woman, 20th Century
44.5 x 35.7 cm, Color Woodcut
Source: Legion of Honor, Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco

I hope you find this collection interesting. Complement this article with Japanese byobu art we featured previously. May this deepen your appreciation of Asian art.

As always, thanks so much for dropping by!


Please see credits for featured image on the body of the article.

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Positive Affirmation and the Power of Words

Positive Affirmation

If you’re a fan of self-help books and personal development, you may be familiar with positive affirmation.

Positive affirmation is a statement that confirms something to be true. Repeating a positive word or phrase is a proven psychological self-help process especially for changing, adding or removing specific behaviors and habits¹. Jack Canfield, a success coach,  even outlined nine (9) guidelines on how to create effective affirmations on his book, The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be. Other experts, like motivational author ²Louise Hay, actually has an audio-book that features positive affirmations.

BENEFITS OF POSITIVE AFFIRMATION

Various experts and studies support the effectiveness of adapting this concept in our daily lives. One website ³ cites the following benefits of positive affirmation:

  1. Strengthens muscles.  
  2. Increase physical and emotional energy levels.
  3. Brings to life a person’s capabilities, strengths, talents and skills.
  4. Penetrates a person’s subconscious, thus affecting one’s actions, behaviors and attitude.

A simple search of this term on the internet would give you hundreds and hundreds of stories of people who show affirmations really work. Of course, take everything with a pinch of salt. Positive affirmation should not be the be-all-and-end-all of your self-improvement journey. This should just form part of your action plan to achieving your goal of personal growth and success.

PERSONAL AFFIRMATIONS

I really believe that words have power on their own. This is why we should be very careful on what we say to ourselves and to others. Words, when said often enough, inspires belief which then may turn into action and reality.

The following are some of my personal affirmations. You may also create affirmations that are specific to your job or relationships. Hope you may find these useful:

Positive Affirmation

As always, thanks for dropping by!


Useful Links:

¹Definition

²Louise Hay’s  Free Audio Book

³Benefits of the Concept

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5 Amazing Ted Talks That You Absolutely Can’t Miss

You can always find interesting, funny and amazing talks at Ted.com. What follows is a list of my all-time favorites. They span a wide range of disciplines and ideas but you’re sure to benefit from them. If you have time to spare, watch and read on.

The Happy Secret to Better Work

This talk re-frames our perspective on how to achieve happiness. We’re raised to believe that the harder we work, the more successful we get, the happier we become. But Shawn Achor would like to reverse that formula. He says that being happy starts with training the brain to become more positive.

According to his study, “… our brains work in the opposite order. If you can raise somebody’s level of positivity in the present, then their brain experiences what we now call a happiness advantage, which is your brain at positive performs significantly better than at negative, neutral or stressed. Your intelligence rises, your creativity rises, your energy levels rise. In fact, we’ve found that every single business outcome improves. Your brain at positive is 31% more productive than your brain at negative, neutral or stressed. You’re 37% better at sales. Doctors are 19 percent faster, more accurate at coming up with the correct diagnosis when positive instead of negative, neutral or stressed.”

How then can we achieve this happiness advantage? He gives us the following recommendations:

  1. List three new things you’re grateful for 21 days in a row. This way the brain would learn to scan the world not for the negative, but for the positive first.
  2. Journal about your positive experiences so that the brain re-lives the way it feels.
  3. Meditation and exercise.
  4. Random acts of kindness.

Why Good Leaders Make You Feel Safe

“When we feel safe inside the organization, we will naturally combine our talents and our strengths and work tirelessly to face the dangers outside and seize the opportunities.” – Simon Sinek

To make your people feel safe and taken care of are signs of good leadership. I couldn’t agree more when he said that when leaders decide to put people first, when they show willingness to sacrifice comforts and tangible results so that people remain and feel safe and feel that they belong, remarkable things happen.

He’s cited two companies who’re so good at this principle and they’re thriving businesses right now. Just imagine working for that particular company that’s willing to keep you for a lifetime.

Also he’s given a damn good definition of leadership. Leadership is never about the rank. Like him, I’ve encountered so many people who occupy higher rungs in a company. They’re people of authority for sure, but definitely not leaders. Leadership is a choice – to go first, to make sacrifices so your people may gain and succeed. And what do leaders gain from all this? It’s the absolute willingness of their people to do the same for them.

Your Elusive Creative Genius

From the author of Eat, Pray, Love, this talk tackles the daunting issue that every artist face after creating their best, most acclaimed work by far: Will they ever surpass their most recent achievement?

This thought is certainly scary and puts a lot of pressure on the artist while getting the “next big work” out there.

According to her, life need not to be full of anguish if you never happen to believe that the most extraordinary aspect of your being comes from you. In some ancient cultures, they have the idea of a disembodied creative creature called genius. While in some places, artists  can have that single, transcendent moment when they seem to become a vessel so spectators can have a glimpse of God. And so in recognizing this distance between the artist and the work, artists may be able to retain that sanity, that courage to get on with the work and just stubbornly show up until it is done.

Beautiful Minds Are Free From Fear

Sometimes, fear can be so strong and paralyzing. When it hits, Robert Grant gives the following recommendations on how to overcome fear:

  1. Practice gratitude. It’s impossible to be fearful and grateful at the same time.
  2. Intentional Decision. Anything that can happen to you in your life can either the best or the worst thing. You decide which is which. Every day you wake up, you get to decide whether it’s going to be a good day or a bad day. It’s all up to you.

How to Stop Screwing Yourself Over 

Whenever you feel stuck or dissatisfied with your life, Mel Robbins says that you gotta force yourself out of the following:

  1. Out of your head. Most especially when you’re just wallowing on your negative thoughts.
  2. Past your feelings. Because you’re never gonna feel like getting what you want when you’re so focused on your emotions.
  3. Out of your comfort zone. Because that’s where everything starts to happen.

And she says it’s very important to act on our impulse. Because if we don’t marry the impulse with a physical action, we’re going to trigger our emergency break and we’ll never get to do what we want to do in the first place.

You  may have your own set of Ted Talks favorites. Put them on the comment section or send them my way so I can add them here.

As always, thanks for dropping by!


Featured Photo by Avi Richards

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Inspirational Quotes for Life

Most of the time, the combination of right words spoken at the right time is all the encouragement that you need. Whether they be from a fictional character or spoken by someone IRL, the impact that these quotes have can never be underestimated. These quotes have the potential to inspire us, to strengthen us and to make us see from a different perspective.

I’m going to try to update this post every week by adding five (5) quotes every time. Please feel free to drop by every Monday to see the recent uploads.

Think about your possibilities. You are a work in progress. Believe in what you can become.
Think about your possibilities. You are a work in progress. Believe in what you can become.

When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. – Lao Tzu
Photo by Marina Vitale


It all starts in believing. You can do anything you set your mind to.
It all starts in believing. You can do anything you set your mind into.

Nurture your mind with great thoughts. To believe in the heroic makes heroes. – Benjamin Disraeli
Photo by Joshua Earle


The past is over and it has no power over you. What matters now is where you intend to go, who you wanted to be.
The past is over and it has no power over you. What matters now is where you intend to go, who you wanted to be.

The great thing in this world is not so much where you stand, as in what direction you are moving. – Oliver Wendell Holmes
Photo by Danka & Peter


Keep things in control.
Keep things in control.

Either you run the day, or the day runs you. – Jim Rohn
Photo by Dai KE


Become the great person you know you can become.
Become the great person you know you can become.

Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great makes you feel that you, too, can become great. – Mark Twain
Photo by Andrew Worley


Each of us is made of goodness. If you haven’t seen it in others, then you haven’t been patient enough.

Find the best in everybody. Just keep waiting no matter how long it takes. No one is all evil. Everybody has a good side, just keep waiting, it will come out. – Randy Pausch
Photo by Clem Onojeghuo

The people you spend time with and the material you expose yourself determines what you know.

There are essentially two things that will make you wise, the books you read and the people you meet. – Jack Canfield
Photo from Unsplash.com


So the braver you are, the more life is there for you.

Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage. – Anais Nin
Photo from Unsplash.com


You are here to heal your life.

Things falling apart is a kind of testing and also a kind of healing. We think that the point is to pass the test or to overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy. – Pema Chodron
Photo from Unsplash.com


Do you want it badly enough that you’re ready to do everything just to get pass the brick wall?

The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people. – Randy Pausch
Photo from Canva.com


It your life. You’re in charge. Take the lead.

To achieve major success in life, you must accept 100% responsibility for your life and results. Nothing less will do. – Jack Canfield
Photo from Unsplash.com

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Lessons and Regrets Over a Dear Friend’s Passing

Regret brings a certain bitterness to your tongue. It’s a thought or a feeling you’d rather not have. But it always lingers. And as a social experiment proved,  regrets usually come with the word “not“. And here be one my deepest regrets. One that gives me ultimate sadness every time I think about it.

REGRETS ABOUT A DEAR FRIEND’S PASSING

When I was 27, one of my friends died. Before that, I knew she suffers from a brain disease from childhood. Her symptoms just kept on getting worse into adulthood. When the pain has become so severe, she was admitted to a hospital, just 50 ft or so from where I work. But I’ve never even once gone to visit her. I get off work every 5 pm, and never in her week of being in the hospital have I shown myself.

And on a Thursday night, one of our mutual friends sent me a message, telling me that she’s passed away.

I never went to her wake or her funeral. She was buried in the same place as my grandparents. But never, never even once have I visited her grave. Looking back, I realized, I was ashamed. I was so ashamed I wasn’t there and I had the gall to call myself her friend. Ashamed that of all our friends, I was the one closest to where she was. Just 50 ft away and I never went to see her, not once. I was ashamed and thought I’m a terrible friend. And I used to say that friendship means a lot to me.

A month after she died, I dreamed of her. She told me, it’s all right. I can let go. She told me she was just saying goodbye. I remember telling her sorry, over and over. I woke up crying. Even in my dream, she’s continued to be the friend that she was – thoughtful, kind, gentle.

And I was just a mess, keeping to my reasons that none of my feelings will ever bring her back. But I realized my non-feeling wasn’t doing me good as well. Guilt, grief and pain consumed me. And I tell you that no amount of beer or any other alcohol would’ve numb the feeling. 

And as for all the wounds I’ve had, this one is much deserved and I’m willing to let it fester. Most of our friends say it’s all right. And I would heal. I know that, but let me hurt a little more, a little ways every time I think about it, about her. It’s my shitty way of honoring our friendship, of our ties that I let loose. 

WHAT DID I LEARN?  SO MUCH AND SO LITTLE.

I could never say that I’ve learned from this since I still have trouble feeling for other people. I feel so awkward whenever somebody’s having a hard time. Or someone’s sharing their sad experience. I don’t know. I always have this moment of non-feeling, where I just wait for their emotion to pass so I can walk on. I’m still terrible. But I’m working on it.

Once, I tried to stay with a friend after she had a car accident. Sometimes I send power thoughts to friends who’re experiencing hard times.

I try not to be awkward all the time.

Finally, I tell friends how blessed I am to have them in my life whenever I could. I send them messages, I say it to them personally whenever I get the chance.

I try to be there for them whenever I can.

And I’m trying to be a better friend, the best way I can.

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Chef – A Comedy-Drama Film on Family, Life and Passion

Chef has got to be one of the most realistic, ordinary and yet captivating films about a family that I’ve ever seen in a long, long while. It’s not pretending to be deep or profound. It doesn’t have those significantly long silent frames but is consists of authentic life scenarios that makes you realize that you may have come across each type of character in the film. The movie did away with overly dramatic acts, but it made sure that touching scenes will get to you every time, as in every time.

Me saying that it’s about family shouldn’t make you expect something like it’s a Little Miss Sunshine kind of film. It’s focus is Carl Casper – a father to a little boy of 10, a divorcee, a chef at a locally reputable LA restaurant and currently preparing to please a local food blogger in the name of Ramsey Mitchell.

CHEF: WHY IT’S WORTHY

PASSION

It’s about a man wanting to live out his passion. His main goal is to touch people’s lives with the food he makes. But I guess entropy is not unique to the corporate world. It happens whenever somebody hires you and instead of letting you do your own thing, they insist that you keep with what’s working and stop there. No exploration, no risks, no growth. And that’s like a life sentence or slow death sentence for any passionate man. Chef Casper has been in a creative rut in the last 10 years.

FOOD

It’s also about food and how it’s tied with the people and place where it comes from. I guess, eating is one of the most intimate things that you can do publicly and socially. The more people you share it with, the better it tastes. The moment that you take in local food, you also take in a culture. It’s like an initiation to a foreign society or a community. It’s taking in a little of everything else in that place. And aside from gaining nutrition, you gain a new perspective, too.

LIFE, FAMILY

 Chef encourages you to inspire others about what moves you and to be open and willing to take in opportunities when they present themselves. It’s also about taking a step back, clearing your head and focusing on what really matters. It’s a film of second chances, reinventing yourself and keeping true to who you really are. Starting over may seem daunting, but it’s the only way to redeem yourself.

And, family is most important, kin or not.

CHEF: POWERHOUSE CAST AND AMAZING SOUND TRACK

Chef has a powerhouse of actors. Before this film, I didn’t know Jon Favreau, but I developed a deep respect for his art. I was pleasantly surprised with the actors in supporting and cameo roles, too. Check the full cast right here.

And to top it off, it has an amazing soundtrack. It features the lively beat of rumba, as well as soul and blues tracks from Marvin Gaye and Gary Clark Jr. The music lends an excellent layer of emotion and color to the film.

I recommend for families to watch it. It doesn’t matter the season. It would be quality time anytime you choose to watch Chef.

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Getting the Courage to Be Yourself, Because Everyone Else is Taken

Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Taken

One great advantage of living in our time is that you can be whoever you want to be. It’s also one of the greatest ironies, since most decide to be just like everyone else. You can say that your influences, the media, and this converging world confuse you more than they bring clarity to who you should become. It may be really hard to be yourself when your perceptions are constantly being shaped by trends and influenced by what’s popular.

CONFORMING TO SURVIVE

Humans tend to conform. We discovered early on that it can help us survive. It’s like if you stand out so much, you risk exposing yourself to danger, pain or hurt. And so the self, the one that’s truly and uniquely you, may find it very difficult to come out. You fear judgement and rejection. You want safety. You’d want to feel secure. And so you conform. Some people have mastered the art of conforming so well, it’d make you wonder if they ever hate themselves for it. And,  would they ever forgive themselves for giving up on the self that they can become?

Again, as in most things in life, it’s a  trade-off between security and freedom.

GETTING THE COURAGE TO BE YOURSELF

But, is it really? Can’t you have the courage to be who you really are?

This talk by Bruce Cairnie, highlights three things that can give you courage to be yourself. He talks about self-worth, self-love and the ability to recognize a need for growth. These beautiful concepts will help you realize how in very simple ways, you can construct or maybe redeem yourself.

Self-worth comes from the fact that you are here. You breathe, you live, you are. You’re worthy, you’re enough.

You're worthy, you're enough.And if you’ll only acknowledge those facts, then self-love will be easy on you. Self-love is recognizing your strengths, your accomplishments. It’s affirming the things that went well in your life, no matter how big or small they are. But it’s also about recognizing your weaknesses and imperfections, that you deserve the chance to change and grow.

Self-Love

You’re a work in progress. And you develop yourself in your own time, at your own pace, within the confines of an environment of your choice. If you’ve got self-love then you know, you got to give yourself the patience to become who you want to be, to let out that person who you truly wanted to become. To build up that courage to be yourself.

You're a Work in Progress

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Paterson – Of Those That We Long For and Those That We Take for Granted

Paterson

I’m not that into poetry. And there were a couple of poets mentioned in the film that I never heard of before. But I really like how Paterson was presented. Every scene seemed to be full of meaning, each moment seemed to be necessary. This movie may be boring, slow-paced, or even a waste of time for others. But I guess, Paterson would just look away and chuckle on how natural and poetic those reactions were.

Meet Paterson

The movie is about the life of an ordinary bus driver in a city with the same name. A bus driver who also wants to be a poet and has a very beautiful wife. A wife who’s very artistic and great at making black and white cupcakes. A couple who has a pug that the man takes out every night for a walk. A pug who’s so jealous of it’s master’s wife that it tore the master’s secret notebook of poems to pieces.

Paterson’s daily schedule is so predictable. He wakes up between 6:10 and 6:15, eats breakfast, goes to work, and goes home. He walks the dog at night, visits his favorite bar to have a mug of beer, then goes home and sleep. That’s the process, until Sunday, when he can sleep in and spend time as he like – with his wife or taking a walk around the city.

Our main character is also peculiar. He doesn’t own any modern gadgets – no smartphones, laptops, etc. He believes life will work out even without those things. The world worked out just fine before those things were invented. But he eventually need to borrow a girl’s smartphone to report that his bus had an electrical problem and his passengers needed to be transferred to another bus.

The movie is full of scenes taken out of our ordinary, everyday life. They are normal, familiar situations. They’re nothing special. And so, these are also the moments that we likely take for granted. Until we share Paterson’s perspective at the end, “Would you rather be a fish?”

What Paterson Tells Me

Paterson’s poems may not have seen better days. But the blank notebook that he’s given at the end signified hope. That blank notebook reinforces what all humans know:

We can always start over, even after losing something very precious to us. That whenever we’re to begin, lots of possibilities lay in front of us. And no matter how bad it gets, somehow, we’ll never trade places for anything. We’d rather live our lives over, making little or big changes here and there. But we’ll never trade who we are or what we live for.

Oh, the poetry of our mundane, ordinary lives.

Most Endearing Part

The tender kisses that Paterson gives his wife every time he wakes up just shows how he’s so in love with her. Besides the passionate words in his poems, his actions truly proves the depth of his feelings for his wife. Too bad, Laura never get to hear his love poems. All through-out, we’re being shown how Paterson and Laura is perfect for each other.

Most Heartbreaking Part

Laura was trying to comfort Paterson after they found that his secret notebook of poems has been torn to pieces. Paterson told him not worry, because “They’re just words”. But to him who wanted nothing else but put words together, that must have hurt so much. It’s also the part of the film where I realized how deep the understanding goes between the couple.

Check this website if you want to read the three poems featured in the film. For the film’s casts and directors, refer to this page.

Credits to Toronto International Film Festival for the featured image.

As always, thanks for dropping by!

 

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