50% of 2018: Recap + Roundup + Realizations

I’m lying in bed on a Sunday night, feeling sick (or I actually am), still on vacation mode (forced; because I’ve been feeling under the weather since last week), just finished watching two films, and realizing I miss writing daily things so much. I stopped keeping a daily journal and only write when I feel like life is not cooperating, because sometimes, my feelings meter just goes beyond me (sometimes I blame being an INFJ for this).

To be honest, I’m becoming less open about sharing bits of my life now that I’m older. It’s so typical to want to blame the age thing, really (I started blogging at 15? I’m now 25)—but I feel that I now prefer to keep most of my personal thoughts private because I want to keep making art and sharing things about art, not exactly things about my life. Maybe I’ll get to weave it in, maybe not. We’ll see. I’m still working on it.

However, my boundaries have always been a blur because I do hand lettering and journaling—two art forms that sort of have a way to subtly share about things that are in relation to my life. I letter quotes that make me feel things; I am particularly drawn to words that inspire me and push me at certain points in my own creative journey. I document mostly about my life, my travels, my experiences—none of those are unreal. I also write, and my most vulnerable self is captured in words, sentences, paragraphs, blog posts, articles. And that’s also why it’s relatively not easy for me to just whip out a bunch of stuff if it doesn’t personally mean anything to me. As much as half my job is sharing my work to the world, I want to be able to understand that I share it because I love what I made first and foremost, and hope that somewhere out there, you will love it as well.

Recently I’ve been drafting a lot of blog posts about my quarter life crisis. I’ve deleted them all; they all made no sense. I’ve been so fixated on how crazy and chaotic the past few months have been that I almost forgot I actually enjoyed them. I’m writing this post as a little ode to my past self, how she’s been able to hold up, and how things are going to be different from here on out.

Here’s a little recap on how my 2018’s been. And some learnings. And some notes. And a roundup of things I’ve consumed for the first half of the year.

Turned Twenty Five

Nothing like the start of the year to turn a year older—it’s always been a way for me to manage my own expectations of the coming year. We had a little party (which I enjoyed DIY-ing!) to celebrate quarter life, and overall, I really enjoyed my birthday. But, well, that was just the beginning.

Halfway in being twenty five has made me realize that I think way too much beyond my years. I’m not interested with keeping things around that no longer serve me—people, things, experiences. How jumping from my naive (and marupok) 24 year old self to this strong and independent adult is quite a leap.

Spoke at Graphika Manila + Taught Classes

For someone who told herself in her college years (upon seeing Jessica Hische on stage at GM 2012) that one day, she will be on the same stage giving a talk for Graphika Manila, she surprisingly fulfilled that dream six years later—all in good timing. I’m so grateful to have spoken in GM this year not because I ticked something off my life bucket list, but because it felt rewarding to be able to share my story to a new generation of artists and designers. Plus points was getting to meet a roster of amazing speakers (hello, I fangirled over bonding with Adam over the GM weekend!) and spending two days celebrating nothing but creativity and design.

I also have been putting off teaching for a few months now because I haven’t really given it that much attention (but also because I’ve been really busy). Earlier this year, I had an opportunity to collaborate with L’Occitane for a travel journaling workshop, go to Baguio to teach lettering, partner with Kaila for a journaling x brush lettering workshop in Japan (!!!), organised a meet-up / session with readers at Common Folk, participated in Design Week Philippines, and put up a few classes with Art Bar over the summer. It’s been great; I always say teaching is something I love doing because I get to talk to my students personally and find a way to help them hone their own skills. Thank you so much to everyone who attended / enrolled / took part; I’m on hiatus until next year for the time being (in the Philippines)—but who knows, maybe I’ll have a few more events before I leave in a few months. 🙂

Read more books + started on my fifth book

Partly why I love my friends (and the Internet) is I get to borrow books or get recommendations on titles I might have otherwise not considered to read. This year I’ve been trying my best to get back to reading—and I think it’s quite timely that I’m working on a book. I get a lot of reading done during book writing period, for some odd reason.

A list of favourites from this year (so far):

The Shape of Ideas by Grant Snider

Probably the most accurate set of comics I have read as it talks about, well, the shape of ideas. I love the interpretations and visuals!

The Crossroads of Should and Must by Elle Luna

I was 100% convinced I am on the right path in my career / life after reading this book.

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

The kind of tough love I needed when I told myself I couldn’t do the things I am doing now.

On Writing by Stephen King

Wise words and sound advice from one of the greatest writers of our time.

Making Ideas Happen by Scott Belsky

A repository of procedures and steps to get you from idea to execution; breaks the concept that creatives should not be organized people (they have to be! I attest to that).

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Since we’re on the topic of books, I’ve been working on my fifth book for quite a while now. It’s not as easy as I expected; and honestly, the energy being drawn out of me to produce this book is beyond what I imagined. I think this is how most writers feel when they work on biographical stuff with a side of nonfiction and a pinch of instructional tips here and there. Needless to say, we’re halfway through it and I’m hoping to get all the nitty gritty details together. It comes out in August; I’ll share more about it soon!

Traveled purely for leisure + Saved up (yay!)

Not to a lot of places—I’m saving that for September. I’ve managed to keep track of my travels recently because of course, I need to save up for school. Haven’t figured out the budgeting and all yet, but I’m quite positive everything is within budget for now (if you must know, I am a stingy person when it comes to money and spending, lol). In adult accomplishments, I was so happy to have converted part of my Singapore workshop earnings to pocket money for school. HUHU. It feels like things are coming full circle from here on out.

In the past months, I went to Singapore twice (mostly to visit my friends and see an exhibit!), La Union twice (lol), Baguio, Tokyo and Osaka. You can read up on my Tokyo roundup here and, well, my Osaka one is still a work in progress. But it’s definitely coming out in a few weeks’ time! It was nice to not have to worry about work so much. I think I took a lot of work trips last year and it was just overwhelming. You never really get to do fun things except eat and sleep apart from the work shifts (in my case, workshops). When I travel, I always hate being rushed and not having time to appreciate what’s around me; so traveling just for the sake of exploring is really important to me. I’m glad I managed to do that more this time.

Enrolled myself in a yoga studio + Started meditation

Might have mentioned it somewhere but my mental health is not really in 100% good condition, and meditation (so far) has helped me immensely—so I took another step and enrolled myself to yoga. It’s been doing me good; I’d like to think. I’m the least flexible person out there but I enjoy every class because I have this tendency of forgetting to breathe and stay present, and that’s exactly what yoga requires.

I’ve been having a recurring habit (or preference) of going to class at 2PM on a work-from-home day. No idea why but my brain sort of attributes it as a break from the hectic workday, which should be okay. I’m nowhere near becoming a flexible person but I’m trying. I’m tryingggg. Growing up, I was the chubby girl to the point that our dance teacher ousted me out of the group because 1) I was fat and 2) I couldn’t do the gymnast poses she required. Of course, I’m quite pleased I didn’t end up becoming a dancer (but mind you, I love to sing and dance…alone in my room LOL). Anyway, I hope I get to do a full wheel soon.

Realized I needed a break + Took responsibility for my health

Break in the form of Netflix and endless movie marathons on weekends. LOL, kidding. But really, though, I’ve been watching a few films every so often (always in genres that I favour the most). Here’s a few of my favourites:

Love, Simon (a new film! I loved it!)

Wonder (plus points for Passion Pit’s Moth’s Wings playing in this film)

Lady Bird (Christine reminds me of…me lol)

Call Me By Your Name (Sufjan Stevens and that heart-wrenching final scene. And Timothee Chalamet!)

The Shape of Water (this was eerie but I actually liked it)

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There have been lots of things I had to pay attention to recently because I’ve always been focused on the end goal. Which is weird, because it got me thinking, “What the hell is my end goal, anyway?”. I keep forgetting to live life day by day and always wanting to look for what’s on the other side. Little did I know that my health has been catching up on me—let’s just say being a girl is quite hard. Hahaha. I’ve started taking meds and my daily dose of nausea and migraine is definitely not bearable. So here I am *trying* to just trust that I’ll get to recover soon.

 

In other news, I’m sure you’ve heard about the deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. I am in deep damage upon hearing this news; because these are people who have reached some sort of “pinnacle” of success by doing what they love, sharing it to the world, and then it dawned on me that what else did they ever want? It pains me to know they have battled with their demons, but their demons have won. It breaks my heart taking in the fact that while they embodied qualities of who we wanted to become (well, I know I am one of them), it wasn’t enough to save their lives. Truth be told, mental health has been an invisible sickness most people don’t acknowledge. I hope this helps us realise how important it is to be kind, talk to people, and to address issues that you know you can’t deal with yourself.

Planned my upcoming NYC trip + Pitched New Ideas

OK, booking the tickets wasn’t so bad (lol, I did it a week after my birthday, hello? I’m an impulsive traveler)—I’m still waiting for enrolment, actually. But while that was ongoing, I came up with the craziest idea—well, it wasn’t impossible, now that I think about it (until now I’m so shook but it got approved! AHHH!)—that will take me to places I never imagined I’ll actually get to visit for work. I’m going to Europe (alone!) and it’s been something I’ve been looking forward to since I’m visiting a dream city (!!!!!!!!!!!!!! legit dream because I have finally found a reason to go…not just for work). Also, collaborating with a few folks and traveling across the US (and down south) to visit some relatives and teach…and watch Taylor Swift live. That is all. My sixteen year old self will thank me for this (I’m referring to the TSwift part for context).

I still surprise myself sometimes. Suddenly, I’ve found this immense courage to just go after what I want by finding ways to get there, and plotting out the possibilities. I leave some of it to luck and good timing (more on the timing part actually). It doesn’t hurt to try…I kept asking myself “what if I did this? what if I did that?” but my life right now has been all fingers crossed to the nth power and all, “whatever I’m going to do it anyway and let’s cross the bridge when we get there”. The spontaneity keeps me going. And it keeps me inspired to constantly go after bigger dreams and bigger goals (that don’t have to be just in one place). It’s a wonderful feeling. 🙂

Finally made personal decisions I won’t regret (I hope)

As someone who’s always on social media 24/7, I’ve gotten what, tons of messages from readers saying, “Why are you leaving us? Why are you going on hiatus?” as if I have to keep myself accountable for actually doing this and wanting to impact other people BY leaving.

Ok, first of all—I am going back by end of the year. Whether or not I’ll decide to move to another country next year, that’s for me to figure out soon.

At a very young age, I have always envisioned an alter ego of myself—one who went to art school, became an artist, and pushed the boundaries of what she thought were limitations. Guess what: I became an artist, I pushed the boundaries. But I never went to art school. I’m going back to school to make an impossible dream come to life. It has nothing to do with wanting to prove anyone wrong. I just want to give my past self a bit of justice and it is not, by any means, anything I should feel guilty about.

Being a full-time artist is a hard path to take on, career-wise. I wish I could sugarcoat it for you, but my life is just as disorganised as everyone. I struggle with constant self-doubt and live with uncertainty every day of my life. My goals are ever-changing, because not only do I think about what art I should make, but what I want others to get from it. I know most artists create for themselves, and I’m fine with that. But that’s just not me. I feel that as someone who holds a responsibility to somehow influence a set of people, I want to be able to share what I can in the best way. You can call it paying it forward, but for me it’s just been hardwired into my mission as an artist and author.

There comes a point when you feel like you’ve just given yourself too much already, that you’re finding a way to replenish yourself without feeling toxic about it. Naturally, I’m a curious person—I question things every single time. My interests for other non-art things has always given me a reason to keep exploring, keep wondering, and to keep learning. I don’t want to always be in a state where I have to put out art “for the sake of Instagram”, be constantly online “for the sake of being there”.

So yeah, that’s one personal decision I don’t regret on making. I have a few more lined up…but I digress. It’s too early to tell whether it’ll work out. Decision-making has been such a daunting task for me, mostly because I trust on my instincts 100% of the time and am kinda scared that it might not work out.

I listened to this podcast episode featuring Scott Belsky and he was talking about how making decisions is just half the battle…the rest is for you to take action. It doesn’t matter if you make the “right” decision at this point, but know that you have to be accountable for it in the long run. Whether what you decide on works or not, it all boils down to how you take it from there. And it’s such a comforting thought, you know? You can always make decisions that feel right for you. If it works out according to plan, great! If it doesn’t, then you have the capability to make it better—for your own sake.

I’m not sure how to end this post. But I did mention I’m relatively bad with ending things, right? So I’m just going to cut it right here.

Hope your 2018 has been all sorts of interesting and amazing. And crazy. And memorable, maybe?

Always be creating,

Abbey