Ass and heart

“Put your ass where your heart is.”

What do you see from this sentence? While some see the bravery to take a leap, others see actually doing the work to get you where you want to go.

I see the alignment of will and action.

All thinking, no doing. The curse of a generation.

We have been waiting for too long, waiting for the right time, the right space, the right tools and gadgets.

We have been fantasising for too long, about how we have already achieved our goals. The endorphin already rushed to our brains. What holds our motivation high to actually take the steps?

So the only thin we can do is to move our asses and put them to work.

Not just any work.

The work where our hearts are.

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Think, but feel first

Planning is such a “grownup” thing.

Kids never plan. But “making a plan” is almost the first thing we learn from our parents in order to “grow up”. Because we can feel naturally, so the only thing we learn is to think.

“Thinking ahead” is planning. It’s good for us, most of the time.

But when it’s crucial to feel first, we should try to delay the thinking mode. Feeling gives the general direction, planning (calculation) is in charge of the specific steps in that direction.

Create a journey that brings change

Don’t think it’s the end result what your audience/customers want. What comes before that is the journey itself.

The experience from beginning to end. The whole package.

Think about it like designing an exhibition. The visitors come in, either interested or uninterested in the topic, but they don’t know much about it. Then they go through the exit to the gift shop, wanting to buy souvenirs. The journey from the start to end is all decisive.

What’s the change do you want them to make? What realisation do you want them to have? What is so pretty and so inspiring that they will want to have a book about and buy a poster of?

The experience on the journey decides the end result, and whether or not they will tell others about it.

When they start to tell others about it, you’ve done your work right.

The mirror

I’ve never been a person who’d stand in front of a mirror and inspecting her face often.

It was not just because I was not 100% satisfied with how I look. (“How stupid is that? I know… but it’s the problem for another time…) Plus, I was raised that way.

Most children I’ve seen have such a phase: they like to see themselves in a mirror. They can’t help themselves but looking at their reflections. They make faces, or try on household items like a pretty pillow cases or something on their heads… (What? Is that just me?)

I was one of these children.

There’s a big mirror in the hall way of the apartment of my grandparents, where I spent most of my childhood. It’s facing the apartment door and right in the center of the T section connecting all the other rooms. Since I was in kindergarten, I was good at doing performances like singing and dancing. Every adult said to my parents and grandparents that I was talented and very cute. Hearing that, I spent even more time making faces and pretending I was in a movie scene and appreciating my own performance in front of that mirror.

While other adults in my family making comments about me being “crazy in love with how I look”. They didn’t want to make me self-conscious on purpose. But they way they said it made me feel that looking at myself is something bad.

It’s self-indulgent, self-obsessed, shallow, and narcissistic.

Gradually, I stopped. When I passed by the mirror, I tried not to look at myself in the mirror; or when I did, I tried to do it without anyone seeing me.

My two cousins, who are boys, did the same. They got the same comment. And worse. “You have it worse than girls… so self-obsessed with appearance. Are you a girl?” The grownups said to them.

My mother was no advocate for a good and polished self-image.
She was very beautiful and everybody said so. But she seldom put on makeup and she said she was “too lazy” to take care of her skin. Oh, and makeup meant “lipsticks” for her. That’s all. In her family, caring about one’s own appearances is so bad that it’s like a crime. There was no mirror in her childhood home. She had to go to the bathroom in school to see if she had dirt on her face if no one told her before that.

When I went to college, my two best girlfriends from high school told me about what they’ve learnt in their first semester. One said: “I’m able to put on smoky eye makeup in 5 minutes.” The other one said: “I discovered how to re-apply my makeup quickly in this very humid climate… thank God!” I said: “I think I haven’t washed my face for the last three days… since I had no class and I just stayed in my dorm, watching movies and writing. And if I want to look at myself in the mirror, I will have to go to the shared bathroom for the whole floor…”

I took pride in that.

Because I value inner beauty more. I value knowledge, wisdom. I’m not shallow, not self-obsessed. Even if people tell me I’m pretty, I don’t look at myself in the mirror anymore because I’m just so not image-obsessed that I even get offended by thinking about my skin problem.

It backfired.

It turned out that, when I did notice my appearance and started to get self-conscious about almost everything with my body. And what made it worse? Feeling judged by others and by myself for I felt ashamed even by looking at the mirror.

Not anymore.

For years I was insecure with my body and my face. My body was not toned and my skin is not smooth. When I started living abroad, far away from my family, I started to look myself in the mirror and judge myself for being “not good enough” and then for “caring about appearance too much.”

Pregnancy changed everything for me. Because I was absolutely in love with my changing body. I can’t explain how it happened. One day I woke up, went to the bathroom, turned on the light.

There I was.

I didn’t know how great I would look with a big baby belly. People say it’s the hormones. But thank God the hormones stayed because I still like how I look now.

I’m back to my pre-pregnancy weight, but I have a belly still hanging. It was a sweet home for my baby daughter for 37 weeks and it’s perfect as how it is. It was never really about my body or my face. It was simply my relationship with the body. The vessel.

Now I still don’t look at my face closely every day in the mirror. But I always keep showing my baby our faces every time when we pass our mirror in the hallway. Yes, we’ve got a mirror there, too. It’s at the corner which you will definitely pass by on the way to the bathroom. Every time when we walk by, I would stop and make faces to her in the mirror. She always laughs after staring at her own face and mine in there for a while.

She still thinks it’s another baby. And that baby is her friend now.
We are all her friends.

Know your stuff – the ground work for your creative MAGIC

To “know your stuff” means you will be able to combine your knowledge of everything you need and mix them up to create your own “originals”.

“Knowing something inside out”. You must have spent a considerable amount of time learning about the genre you are interested in.

A very large amount of input through a long period of time, accompanied with internalising the knowledge and skills, lead to the ability to make magic with them when the right topic shows itself.

The most effective way to generate new ideas for anything

“Cooking dumplings in a tea kettle” is what the Chinese say when they want to describe someone who has much to say but unable to express it.

You must have had that feeling. It’s like you have much to say and to express, but somehow you just can’t let it out.

“I’ve got it.” You say. “I’ve got the idea but I’m not really sure…”

See, your problem is right there.

You can’t expect to let the dumplings out from the small opening of the kettle. You have to open the lid instead!

So, how do you open your “lid” to let out all the good stuff in your head?

Answer: have an idea generating session!

But not a 45-minute sit-in while having a staring contest with your blank paper.

A 10-minute quick but intense session of jotting down anything that pops in your head.

This is how you do it:

You can write the main topic on the top of the page. Say, “creativity”.

Then you note numbers from 1 to 15. Like the following:

Creativity

1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.
11.
12.
13.
14.
15.

Then you give yourself a 10-minute timer. Write down anything that you think is related.

Be specific if you can. Write down essential words so that you know what you mean.

For example. Some of the things I wrote down are: use of time, coming up new ideas, comparing self with others, sleep or no sleep?…

No matter what, fill in all 15 of them.

There will be some that spark more inside of you than others. When you start to create, start with those.

This is what I call the blitz-brainstorm session. The brainstorm session fast as a blitz. 🙂

The reason why this is an effective way to generate ideas is simple: you shut down your need to “be sure” about something, which is in your “mind”; instead, you let things out without filtering them, from your subconsciousness or simply your “gut”.

Not all of these ideas are worth going deeper and eventually becoming something. But you’ve got at least one good idea. That might be the one idea you’ve been searching for the whole time. It’s been hiding in your brain all along.

Like the dumplings in your kettle, you just need to find a way to let it out.

Persistence, I guess (100th-post streak)

It’s supposed to be the 100th post — every day (almost).

I might want to write about persistence. But what do I get from persistence? 

More subscribers? More eyes? But how do I know if my words are really spreading if there was no comment, but only likes? How do i know they are not just self-promoters, who like my stuff or even follow me just to get me follow them?

I don’t know. I will never know. Even if they tell me I won’t be able to believe it.

So I will just let it be. 

I will take it as a compliment for the words I typed here. And move on to the next words I’m going to type here.

But if you’ve read till here, and you don’t mind letting me know that you did read my words, like, comment, or drop me a line via email, or social media. It will make a world of difference to me.

So… persistence.

Persistence in dropping words, here. Hmm.

I’m writing here, every day, to hear how I really sound like. To explore my voices. To see who I can be.

That’s why I’m being persistent here.

Not for more followers, more likes.

I’m doing this, first and foremost, for myself.

Next, I want to see if anyone would echo to what I’m saying.

Echoing. That’s what I’m waiting here.

I’m writing about so many different topics here. It’s not niched, not targeted, not even in polished words.

I’m already very happy if one or two pieces spoke to you.

Give me a sign. I’d like that.


Here we are. At the 100th post mark.

Only if we create enough bad stuff, can a bit of our good stuff shine through.

Moving on.