Third Quarter Things

(cover photo by Louise Ramos)

When I was in school, third quarter was my favorite part of the academic year — mostly because it was the shortest, and there were a lot of events and holidays, aka less time to study. Don’t get me wrong though, I’ve always been the study geek by heart. It’s just nice to reach past the first half of the school year.

But now that I’m working (3 years now!), I always underestimate the importance of this part of the year. Usually, it’s that time of the year where I *hopefully* slow down from work (but who am I kidding, work never ends) and also where I think about future plans and dreams. I’m taking a backseat plotting out any new goals though; I didn’t set anything for this year and I am (surprisingly) not disappointed with myself.

I rewatched a couple of vlogs I recorded last December 2016 earlier this week (for personal documentation). I laughed. Moreover, I felt relieved I wasn’t that person anymore. She was devastated, downright depressed, and she was a dark part of who I used to be. Fast forward to this very interestingly eye-opening year, and I guess it’s safe to say I’m better. But that doesn’t discount the fact that life keeps surprising me in the most unexpected way. I’m not complaining, though—bring it on, lyf.

Thought I’d pop in today to share a few things I’ve been learning to adapt into my life so far. It’s true when they say having a few reminders on how to live better makes all the difference.

Uncertainty keeps you grounded

While the Capricorn in me is very uncomfortable with this thought, I’m slowly learning to live with the fact that nothing in life is uncertain. Things change in the blink of an eye, and it’s not like I can do anything about it but accept it. (Alternate caption: these couple of months have been major #plottwists in my life so haha I’m laughing it off ok)

On the brighter side though, some unexpected circumstances lead to better outcomes. And I’m holding on to that fact — when one door closes, another one opens. It’s really true and I’m taken aback by knowing it is.

Self-care is top priority

My tita self is rejoicing because for once in my life, I’m putting myself in the forefront of my priorities. 2015 self would be proud, really. I make sure now that I get enough sleep, workout as often as I can, eat better, and most of all, work around a schedule that I am completely at ease with.

Would you believe I’m also learning to meditate more now? Apparently reduces my daily stress and panic. I also wrote this random list titled “Every Week” which lists down self-care activities I should do in a week in order to say I’ve taken good care of myself (face mask, some yoga time, watching a film, etc). So far, so good!

*If you want to try meditating, I suggest downloading Headspace or Stop, Breathe and Think.

Finding comfort at home (and in good company)

I’m home! I’m leaving again next month (NYC!) but this August has given me much room to stay put, in a good way. I get to work on my weekly routine (because no trip can ruin it for the meantime!) and at the same time, have a semi-normal schedule of work and life.

That, and I’ve been (finally) out of my cave catching up with old and new friends. Here’s the thing: I grew up having not many friends. But I realize that quality is really better than quantity. I also had this illusion that friends are forever, but who am I kidding? This is the 21st century. Friendships and people come and go, but the best ones will stay. The toxic ones need to go. That’s a comforting thing to note. 😃

And another thing, I will never regret opening doors and letting people in. This year has taught me that looking mataray to strangers won’t earn me any new friends. Haha.

Empty days are as good as productive days

Day by day I always think that working your hardest will keep you productive. I was wrong, though. Emptying your brain is just as great — it helps you clear out work and restart for the coming days or weeks.

A little tip for you: try scheduling do-nothing Sundays where you just literally sit…and do nothing. Or maybe watch a film. Distract yourself. It’s a nice self-care activity.

Question everything, and I mean everything

This self-learning habit of “readsearch” has been keeping me busy in the best way. Except…I really get overwhelmed with a lot of tabs open. Lol. Kidding aside, it’s helped me cope with my never-ending existential question list (don’t ask) and it’s giving me new knowledge that I am always happy to know about.

Some of my favorite reads from readsearch this August:
How To Feel Progress (JK Glei)
Want to be an artist? Watch Groundhog Day (Austin Kleon — read until the end)
The two kinds of stories we tell about ourselves (TED)

Make time for personal work and side hustles

Lately I’ve been back to lettering. This is a good thing; I was so close to leaving it out because I was burned out from last year. It’s also helping that the 4th (!) book I’m writing is more focused on the technical side of hand lettering, aka more reason for me to research and do more art. Win-win. (It’s coming out next year in the USA!)

Most of you don’t know this, but managing Shop Abbey Sy is my side hustle. I wish I could say it was my full-time job, but I don’t think I’m ready for that part of my career yet. My time for freelance and book writing work takes up a huge chunk of my work schedule, and let’s say a 20% goes to the shop.

That 20% is always fun though; I get to channel my creative energy and learn from my own mistakes in the process. Some days I wish I could be my own version of Rifle Paper Co or Ban.do but a girl can dream..for now. At the moment, we’re focusing on producing merchandise in time for Design Festa in Tokyo this coming November. Exciting times though!

I’ve been realizing though that while I have so many dreams I still want to pursue, I’m okay taking a pause first for health’s sake. Things are okay, and it’s nice to feel okay for once. Not pressuring anything to happen, not wanting to be somewhere else. Just here. In the now. 😃

How’s your 2017 so far? 🙂

Summer, So Far (+ Faves Roundup!)

Way back in my younger years, summer always had to make sense. Mostly because as students, it was a way to unwind from the daily grind of going to school, accomplishing homework, and making sense of a well-balanced school life. I was always making art and “playing outside” with my neighbors, and we spent our summer doing Mother’s Day plays and baking, and all those fun things. Fast forward to growing up years—after my thesis defense in college, I spent my summer interning, working on freelance projects, and eventually landing my first and last corporate job.

These past few years have been entirely different though, and I’m very well assured that they will always get more interesting as every year goes by. One thing’s constant though—I find myself working on very important projects at the first half of the year. I wonder why…:P

Anyway, I’m not here to talk about work, so let me just slip in and share some snaps from my summer (so far) this year. Enjoy the photo diary below! Also, keep reading because I’ll share some of my favorites (podcasts, books, films, you know the drill) at the end of this blog post. 🙂

Went to Hong Kong during the Holy Week! Not much has changed. I always like how busy the streets are.

Me time at Cafe Mido~

Love how they preserved the cha chaan teng style interiors. Also, nothing like good ol’ milk tea and toast. And some writing.

ABCoffee? Lol.

Hong Kong was a nice breather. I was feeling out of myself already (see: previous post) for the past months and I just needed to wander elsewhere, far from home. It was nice also that I got to spend it with my family, as I always travel either alone or with a friend. 🙂


The week after I returned from HK, I attended to a few things: a shoot for #ABCReadSearch and the media launch of my new book, Hand Lettering A to Z. So grateful for National Book Store as they are exclusively carrying copies of HLAZ in their stores!

Above: my proud mommy moment 🙂 It takes a while for me to appreciate whatever I put out (imposter syndrome I guess) so it was nice to celebrate the release of my new book!

Thanks to the fun bunch of students I got to teach during the launch!

Hand Lettering A to Z is available at National Book Store here and Amazon here.


The week after, I left for a week-long trip to none other than Tokyo, Japan. Again???? Yes, I go to Japan every year. Hahaha.

KOniSYwa! Koko makes the best puns. 😛 Also makes for one of my favorite travel buddies, good friends, and achis. <3

(That’s our “coffee while chika” photo, by the way. Selfie sticks are cool.)

This particular Tokyo trip is one of my favorites, because we visited so much places in a week! Art museums, bookstores, coffee shops, and if that isn’t enough, we went to see flower gardens and Mt. Fuji outside of Tokyo! Not to mention our excessive craft shopping (I even bought wood planks, WHAT) at our favorite stores. No regrets! More on my next En Route post.

If anything, I’ve been to Japan seven times already and there is always, always something new to discover in this country. I can’t wait to be back soon for *work stuff*, fingers crossed!

I’m so so happy to be reunited with Kaila as well. We met up last Saturday and spent the day doing our usual life talk sesh, had purikura shots, and explored Nakano and Tokyo with Koko. So. Much. Fun! <3

Kaila has been one of my OG friends since college. She’s always been a constant source of positive energy (#LDRfriendship y’all) and we’re both Capricorns, which explains how much we get along together (about absolutely everything). So happy to see her after so long!

Check out her vlog below for some clips of our fun day together!

Also: watch until the end and see our funny antics while taking photos of the rainbow ice cream in Nakano. LOL.

So much for going abroad to and fro; I’m looking forward to my La Union trip this month! It’s mostly for work but hopefully I get to spend quality time wisely while I’m there. 🙂

Since we’re here, thought I should share a few new things I’ve been consuming lately! Needless to say, my taste has changed. LOL. But I guess that’s part of me maturing into a new person. Let’s leave that topic to another post, then. Hahaha.

THE SCHOOL OF LIFE (YouTube)

Always been a fan of Alain de Botton (On Love is my favorite book!) so The School of Life (which is run by Alain as well) definitely adds to one of my go-to resources. I love watching their videos on YouTube which run from 5-10 minutes and talk about everything from relationships (important!) to work and to self-care.

Check out their YT channel here.

ROOKIE (Podcast)

Rookie magazine in podcast form? Yes please! Tavi Gevinson totally rocks this as she interviews amazing people in various industries. My favorite episode is “Never Settle for Less” which guests the two ladies from Another Round. I love how they’re very open to talking about not just creativity, but also mental health awareness. Also: love the Life Skills part of every episode!

Check out Rookie’s podcast here.

ADULTHOOD MADE EASY (Podcast)

If you’re like me who is still in a love-hate relationship with #adulting, this podcast is for you! Haha, guilty of listening to episodes about relationships and dating (lol because I am uneducated) and things like career changing, handling money in your 20s, etc.

Listen to Adulthood Made Easy here.

HAPPIER (Podcast)

Best known for her book The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin and her sister, Elizabeth Craft, tackle about daily issues and finding happiness in this podcast.

Check out Happier’s podcast episodes here.

PERSON OF INTEREST (Series)

Me, watching a crime-drama? Yep, it’s real. Lol. I was convinced to watch this after a friend recommended it to me, and surprisingly, I’m hooked. Something I like watching when I want to deviate entirely from creative work because the cases really get me thinking, and I get transported into another world. Also: their soundtrack is amazing (Intro by The XX wew and many more) and love the quotes in every episode (I took notes because #readsearch lol).

GIRLBOSS (Series)

Despite lots of people disliking the adaptation of the book, I actually liked this! I’m reminded of my early days as Sophia was struggling to build her online business, and telling people it’s an actual business (been there!). Except I’m not as mean as her, I think. Haha. Britt Roberson totally rocks all the outfits, and I love Sophia and Annie’s friendship. Goals!

Lastly, a roundup of films I loved watching this first half of the year!

Angus, Thongs, and Perfect Snogging: The ultimate coming-of-age flick especially for teenage girls. Also, Aaron Johnson is swoon-worthy, aaagh!

20th Century Women: A beautiful look inside the lives of three women in the 20th Century. Annette Bening was amazing!

The Pursuit of Happyness: A reminder that persistence and hard work is always key. Loved this film so much, even if it was so heavy, haha.

The Cutting Edge: You’ll get kilig with the love-hate relationship of the two mains, promise. Also, always love watching ice skating films for some reason, so this was no excuse!

The American President: Not your typical love story. NGL, was SUPER KILIG while watching this film.

Dave: Watched this while in Tokyo and I really enjoyed it. It’s similar to American President because it has something to do with the (fictional) President of the US. Must watch, too!


If ever you find yourself checking out my recommendations above, let me know what you think! Aaahh, felt so good to write here again (out of impulse). Hope you’re having a great summer so far 🙂

Abbey

Dailies: 02

Hello! Popping in for a few life things. I *told* myself I’d add a couple of snaps on my future posts but okay, I’m moving that to January. Which reminds me, I’m turning 24 in exactly a month. 😮 😐

Anyway, despite that, I was feeling ~bagets~ during Young Star’s prom a few weeks ago. Happy 20th birthday and congrats on the new website! 🙂

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(me, channeling a pseudo-Wes Anderson character…I think)

I also shared some things on being a #girlboss, because staying creative ain’t an easy thing – link here.

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I’ve always mentioned to most of my friends about how I struggle to put on makeup because my face is not equivalent to watercolor paper…and I’m not so good at contouring. HAHA. So, Maine asked me to write a comic about exactly that.

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(View the comic here)

So funny putting all of these random things together. To be honest, the easiest task for me is only putting on eyeliner because it resembles brush lettering a lot. LOL.

Speaking of lettering, I’ve been keeping busy catching up on holiday deadlines + working on a few stuff for the shop. 🙂 ICYMI, we have holiday sets this December + you can download free printable gift tags here. Yer welcz!

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Also: I’m slowly activating my YouTube. So yes, more videos in the coming months, also on this blog!

Click here to subscribe, friends. 😀

In more serious things, I’ve announced recently that I will be taking a 2-month break from freelance work. (Don’t worry guys, I’m still here.) Things have been really hazy for me these couple of months, and I feel that I need a little avenue to recharge (aka, work on personal projects / shop stuff).

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(my “I just finished shooting 10 layouts and this hair bun curl thing is amazing tbh” face)

Sometimes my work-from-home job gets the best of me. There are days that have been terrible and unproductive and I really don’t want to continue having those from time to time. I’ve been slowly trying to recover internally and spend more time with friends to unwind. Hopefully things get better. 🙂

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(This milk-flavored soft-serve made me feel #blessedt tbh)

In other news, my second book is a bestseller (again)! Now on its 2nd month. Yep, October, pretty late but anyway. I’m so happy! 😀 Thanks so much for everyone’s support. You know, I’m really happy that at least one book on the list represents the arts & crafts segment (#represent). Let’s keep it at the list as long as we can, yes?

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The ABCs of Journaling is available at National Book Store branches nationwide for P350.

(and online!) Visit Shop Abbey Sy to order signed copies.

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Last weekend was amazing in general. I went to Davao to give a talk at Graphicon, a graphic design conference organized by the Davao Graphic Designers Community.
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First time to give a talk outside Manila, and super honored to have shared a bit of my process and insights into how I started lettering, becoming a full-fledge artist, and my overall creative journey.

(One of my favorite slides from the talk. Also: new favorite font is Courier New lololol)
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With the organizers and co-speakers. It was great meeting everyone in Davao! I hope to be back again very soon 🙂

 

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Chill Sunday with Tricie by the beach ~ thanks for the company! #bestmanagerever

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We’ve been super busy lately at the shop this week fixing orders. SO much orders came in from last week and our Holiday Sets are running out fast. So overwhelmed. Thank you so much! 🙂 Our shop is open until end of December 31 (we’re prolly just closing operations from Dec.24-25, depending on our courier) so you can shop here for your loved ones this holiday season.

BTW, Thanks SPOT.ph for the feature on our gift sets! 😀

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Ending this Dailies post with a selfie with my fave baby 😀 Well, I really think Riley isn’t much of a baby anymore, more like a kid with his wisdom and funny antics. And his charm every time I ask him to take a photo with me. Harhar.

It’s funny that I’m finishing this post at 8 in the morning; something I rarely do. I’ve been waking up at 7-8AM this week and it’s good, I guess? Waking up early is always good. 😀

There have been a lot of up and downs in the past months for me and I’m positive that slowly, I’ll get to work on that and make small changes here and there. It’s an exciting time to be alive. I’m really looking forward to staying here for the holidays and not worry too much about deadlines or new projects. I constantly have to remind myself that sometimes, it’s really just okay to take things slowly and pace myself in the process. 🙂

How’s the last month of 2016 treating you?

Abbey

Manila Hits + Nayong Pilipino Sketchwalk

Hello! Today, I’m rounding up a post on Manila because after several En Route posts (which consisted of travels abroad), I realized I have several photos of my hometown which I never (ever) got to share on my blog.

Funny how I grew up being a Manila girl (I studied in Saint Jude Catholic School & De La Salle University-Manila). I used to spend most mornings having breakfast at Binondo (so much for being a Filipino-Chinese) and running errands with mom before class, but with all the work I’ve been doing recently, that hasn’t been possible in a very, very long time.

This year though, I’ve been blocking off days visiting Manila. Oddly enough, I like the rarity of it all. Now that I seldomly go there, it seems to bring out more charm and personality than what I remembered it to be.

INTRAMUROS

Went to Intramuros last summer for Design Week Philippines. It was charming and brimming with historical wonder – especially for someone like me who doesn’t frequent this part of Manila.

Silahis

Tradewinds

Alessa introduced us to Silahis, a local crafts store (which was full of amazing things!) during our ocular. I ended up getting a vintage map and other ephemera. 🙂

Intramuros-SW

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Last April, I was able to hold my first sketchwalk as part of Design Week Philippines’ activities. Had fun sharing my knowledge on sketching to students during that afternoon. 🙂

NAYONG PILIPINO

A month after DWP, I was tapped by Parkfest PH & Nayong Pilipino to draw on a kalesa – one of the many fun and interesting projects I got to work on this year.

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Making the kalesa was definitely an experience for the books. More on that soon when I get to update my portfolio 🙂

Last Friday was my day-off this month (okay, half day-off). I had 2 deadlines to turn over and I was panicking over morning stress BUT let’s not talk about that. I went on a field trip to Nayong Pilipino and a quick sidetrip to National Museum.NP

Of course, we had to say hi to my kalesa there. 😀

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The area, located at Rizal Avenue (behind Rizal Park), is a huge space filled with trees and lots of places to look at art (we still have our installations there) and take in some quiet time in the midst of a bustling, busy city.

We ended up spending a few minutes sketching from a hanging bridge (yep). I realized I haven’t sketched in a really, really long time after working on several deadlines. *gasp*
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My assistant, Jean, in her element.

Me, in my element. Lolz. (Thanks achie Koko for zee photos!)

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A quick sketch I did from the view I saw. I did an ocular around the area for my upcoming sketchwalk (more details at the end of this post!) and I’m pretty excited to show you guys around the park.

NATIONAL MUSEUM

After walking around NP we decided to walk the opposite road and head to the National Museum. Entrance is free (yay!) and it’s good to know that more people have taken interest in visiting museums in Manila.

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I really like Amorsolo’s work so I always enjoy visiting the hall where his sketches are exhibited (above). There are surrounding buildings as well (which we didn’t get to visit but I hope to, soon) that are more specific on the types of exhibitions (Planetarium, Museum of the Filipino People, etc).

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Closing time light. I love the architecture! I hope next time the museum would allow sketchers to draw inside the museum though.

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I was dead tired after that day, but something about walking along the streets of Manila reminded me how much I really like living here despite the craziness and chaos. 🙂


Anyway, as I was saying, I’m having a sketchwalk!

Some notes:

  1. We will be walking around the Nayong Pilipino park complex.
  2. I will be sharing tips on sketching, using watercolor, and finding your personal drawing style.
  3. Participants must have a background in sketching or drawing (not necessarily advanced).
  4. Please bring an umbrella, towel, and extra shirt as the venue is open-air.
  5. A waiver will be sent out as part of the workshop.
  6. Entrance fee is part of the workshop fee already, and all materials + snacks will be provided.

That’s about it! Hope to see you there. Click here to sign up. 🙂

Have you been to Manila? Let me know what place/s you’ve visited. I’d love to know in the comments below!

Abbey