30 Day Writing Challenge (part 2)

19. Discuss your first love.

My first love are my parents. Charot! My first love is a tragic story of a deep friendship lost over immaturity and societal expectations to stop talking to people from your past. Even if one has moved way beyond that romantic aspect of things. And merely holds in her soul a friendship born out of heartaches, and wrong decisions and eventually care and understanding.

20. Post about three celebrity crushes.

In the past I had a major crush on Victor Basa, ho ho ho. And that guy with washboard abs, who undoubtedly is the poster child of San Juan’s surfing scene. I followed him on IG and left a comment that I had been crushing on him, and he followed me back, which was like woaahhh wtf. Eventually he unfollowed me hahahahahahah. And, hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm oh yes, I used to have a major major crush on Shia Lebouf, when he was still Even Stevens. But then he became weird. I did just watch Peanut Butter Falcon on Netflix, and I thought he was good in that movie.

21. What three lessons do you want your children to learn from you.

If given the chance to have children someday, I really wish for them to be aware of the natural world. I wish for them to live their lives in a manner where they do what they want to do but at the same time considering their surroundings. I want them to choose their actions wisely and not be easily swayed. Of course I shall also teach them the ways of the Igorot people. That they mustn’t forget their heritage and they should be proud of their roots. And trust me, I shall teach my children proper skin care from the day they learn to wash their faces by themselves.

22. Put your music on shuffle and post the first ten songs.

These songs came from my very old playlist, when I managed to secure my sister’s old iPod as my own. They come from long hours downloading torrents and converting YouTube videos to audio files. har har.

-If I ever feel better by Phoenix. Ahhhh Phoenix, one of my favourite bands ever. I watched them once in Alexandra Palace and it was amazing. I was singing and dancing like crazy.

-Reconcile by Love Me Butch. I downloaded their album because of Hollywood Holiday. And I also like We Are All You’ve Got, specially in days when I feel like an oppressed, overworked and underpaid employee, sigh.

-Stir It Up by Bob Marley & the Wailers. My vivid memories of Bob Marley songs were in high school. Watching my father getting tattooed by my cousin’s friend, while they were swinging 2×2 down their throats and Bob Marley singing on the background.

-Wish you were by Radiohead. This is a cover of Pink Floyd’s song, which I read is a song about Sid Barrett. What a tragic tragic story.

-I dance Alone by Toe. One of my dreams is to watch Toe live someday. Hopefully in Japan.

-Stellar by Incubus. When I got my sister’s iPod, she had all these Incubus songs in it. Literally all the songs and albums. Although I wasn’t as obsessed with Incubus as she was, I kept the songs and from time to time relished on Brandon Boyd’s singing. What is up with all these Brandons in music eh?

-Kisapmata by Rivermaya. One of those OPM classics you randomly sing to while walking or whichever activity you’re doing.

-The Voiceless by And So I Watch You From A Far. Ahhhhhhhhhhh shoe gaze music.

-To Be Young by Ryan Adams. I found Ryan Adams because of NME’s top albums list.

-Baby by Warpaint. Sometimes I have this girl power moment when I only listen to female singers. From Company of Thieves to Now Now, BP Valenzuela, Alabama Shakes, Gillian Welch, and Warpaint.

23. A letter to someone, anyone.

Dear Self, be cool but don’t freeze. Hang in there. The blues shall pass.

24. Write about a lesson you’ve learned the hard way.

Hmmmmmmmm. I guess having this intense desire in the past to leave my hometown and relocate somewhere acceptable in my terms. Thinking that life abroad would be great with all the travel opportunities and concerts and museums and culture I can immerse myself into. Realising soon after how life away from home can be really difficult and lonely. Sometimes we long for something new and exotic. We always champion the idea of stepping out of one’s comfort zone. But really in the long run, the heart will end up wanting what it always had. In my case, my hometown and my family.

25. Think of any word. Search it on google images. Write something inspired by the 11th image.

So I wrote Baguio, and the 11th image is a picture of the City at night. Pardon my dramatics but I just really miss home, and with how things are playing out right now, it’s making me miss home more.

26. Write about an area of your life that you’d like to improve

My social skills. lol.

27. Conversely, write about something that’s kicking ass right now.

So I’m really proud of sticking to my minimalism goals. I didn’t even buy anything on Black Friday.

28. Post five things that make you laugh out loud.

-That Modern Family episode where Lily is introduced to the family.

-Old Bretman Rock videos.

-Jimmy Kimmel’s I ate all your Halloween candy.

-Just recently those Donald Trump SNL skits.

-My niece!!!!! Her name is Cayenne Aiko.

29. What are your goals for the next 30 days.

To not breakdown and just continue sweating it out on down times. Until I can board a flight home and hopefully celebrate Christmas surrounded by people I hold close to my heart. At this point, I have only ever been day dreaming of walking the streets of my hometown, cold breeze sweeping my face, sun shining brightly, skies mighty blue (cue in UDD music), meeting friends for cold beer or hot coffee, grocery shopping for holiday menus. I cannot wait to be home.

30. Your highs and lows for the month.

So far my lowest was waking up on a work day and receiving an email saying my flight got cancelled. And my highest was the day after when I rang customer service and managed to rebook my flight. I just really want to go home.

30 Day Writing Challenge

Some random link left on the comments of my old Blogspot led me to this. I started answering each question on Instagram stories during the first lockdown, but somewhere along the way I stopped. Maybe I got busy at work, or maybe I just got lazy. Anyhoo, here is a continuation of unsolicited answers to the rest of the questions on this “30 day writing bonanza”. wink.

I archived my answers to numbers 1-7,9, and 11 so I guess I’ll start with 8, and skip 9 and so on.

And yes it does say writing challenge, but let me take things lightly and finish, before I stop doing it again. I’m not very good with these things, really.

8. Share something you struggle with.

Having reached my 30’s and officially recognising myself as an “adult”, I admit to struggle with connecting to people. Like making small talk and joining conversations not related to whatever I’m doing. Sometimes I can even feel my face turning red when I’m tying a sterile gown for a colleague and there’s just silence. I have very poor social skills.

10. Write about something for which you feel strongly.

I may have poor social skills but I feel strongly for a lot of things in my life. Now more than ever, I feel strongly for where I come from, my heritage, my roots. I am extremely proud of being an Igorota. I feel strongly for my profession, and our daily struggle to commit to our department’s goals and reputation. I feel strongly for Mother Earth, thus my #thirftthatOOTD shindig, road to minimalism, blah blah.

12. Write about 5 blessings in your life.

My family, Grant, friends, my job? I guess, my existence.

13. What are you excited about.

The end to this COVID situation where we all learn from our mistakes and move forward to a better understanding of how we should be living our lives.

14. Post your favourite movies that you never get tired of watching.

HP, LOTR, The Godfather series, Dead Poet’s Society, Into the Wild, Studio Ghibli anything, anything Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller, 500 Days of Summer, anything Wes Anderson, anything Leo di Caprio and Martin Scorsese, The Dark Knight Trilogy (best superhero movies evahhhhhh), the Before series, anything coming of age………….

15. Bullet point your whole day.

Uhm, I’m not sure what bullet point means.

16. Something that you miss.

I could cry writing about what I miss right now. I miss everything pre COVID. I miss my boyfriend, my pesky siblings. I miss my old routines in Baguio, walking around John Hay In December, scarf around my neck, blue skies, sun shining brightly, thinking about Christmas menus, what to bake, what to cook. Damn it.

17. Post about your zodiac sign and whether or not it fits you.

I’m not really into these zodiac signs, Mars on retrograde phenomenon. Im a cancer, and if it makes any sense it doesn’t fit me because as far as I know crabs can swim and tread on water, but I can’t.

18. Post 30 facts about yourself.

  • I’m a liver transplant and abdominal retrieval nurse
  • I was born in Sagada, but I grew up in Baguio
  • My Igorot name is “Bantek”, I was named after a great great grandmother who I apparently look like
  • I start my day with a cup of coffee (decaf on work days, see I scrub for long standing cases sometimes, and it’s kinda hard to concentrate and mount less than 10mm needles when you’re high on caffeine)
  • I can bake (I can make a decent red velvet cupcake, I swear)
  • I don’t know how to swim, more like I can’t float lels
  • but I can skate though
  • I just recently learned how to ride a bike
  • I am into minimalism, not the aesthetics, but more like living with less and using what is already there
  • I like books, and I read sometimes, I try to read whatever books I have, I promise
  • I run if I can, the longest I have done is 21 km when I joined a marathon back home
  • I walk to work even if it’s freezing outside, I enjoy walking
  • I used to play lyre in a school band (proud SPEDer) and we won some competitions in Elementary
  • I currently have 9 plants in my room
  • I like taking pictures
  • I am kind, Chos!
  • I thrift on my free days, I have a penchant for oversized dresses with pockets
  • I am currently in a long distance relationship (going 5 years strong) hohoho
  • I like nice music, I have this thing where I judge people based on their playlists, and I think I should stop doing that
  • I have scoliosis, and a bad posture, that’s why I try to do yoga sometimes
  • I play the ukulele sometimes
  • I watch a lot of Youtube documentaries, my previous obsessions were the history of the world wars, life of the Inuit people, Everest and K2, history of ancient civilisations, Egypt, dangerous ways to school, and just recently, Yelena Mukhina and women’s gymnastics in the 70’s
  • I am a cheap traveller
  • My favourite colour is yellow
  • My feet are flat and fat, lol
  • My dream is to live a sustainable life, grow my own food, make my own furniture, run a recycling shop
  • I learned to speak Kankana- ey when I was in 3rd grade I think, when I spent an entire summer vacation in Sagada. But the dialect slowly slipped out of my tongue. I understand it fully but now I kinda have a hard time bringing myself to speaking it. Which is rather sad.
  • I have this dream of putting up a boutique where I sell refurbished clothing. I thought of learning to sew and make patterns to fix my oversized clothes. And eventually I thought about hunting vintage dresses and giving them a new look. Someday maybe.
  • I am a DIY enthusiast. Or maybe I’m just stubborn, hehe
  • I am the eldest amongst 4 children

….to be continued…..

btw, the link brought me to Pinterest, but I found the original post on this link:

https://lifeentirely.wordpress.com/2019/02/08/30-day-writing-challenge/

Confessions of a Tired Overseas Nurse

“But today, after half recovering from a 24 hour marathon shift, and sipping on my favourite matcha tea latte in soy milk with 2 pumps of simple syrup (shoot me now), I felt this burning desire to express and explore how tired I am. “

I wrote this some 3 weeks ago, after another one of those life expectancy reducing work day I luckily get to participate into every once in awhile. I believe I wanted so bad to describe how excruciatingly tired and floating my entire being was at that time, until maybe I couldn’t find the right words to put things together. Well today, after a forced run and a free salted caramel oat latte (shoot me again), I half heartedly opened the drafts section of my online diary and came face to face to this hanging paragraph I wrote after a 28 litre blood loss, and anxiety shooting off of my fingertips at 12 midnight. Why did I open this? Maybe to entice myself to write about what’s been going through my head for these past couple of weeks. Maybe to encourage me to reflect. Maybe to help me move past whatever I’m going through, one day at a time. Just maybe.

To be fair though, it’s been 3 weeks and I haven’t had another 24 hour straight work day. Which is not a reason to celebrate anytime soon. I still have 5 on call shifts for this month, but it does make a difference to be under the covers when the skies are dark and the City is in silence. In fact my past weekends have been consistently about sweating in between autumn colours, caffeine loading, and page folding. Pretty decent really.

Having said all of that, I don’t know but re reading what I just wrote above, I feel like I’m being inappropriately emotional lately. I think I’m fine, I mean, I have a roof over my head as winter looms in. I have a job that puts food on the table and pays for my internet. Sometimes I even get to indulge in fancy coffee and Japanese titles. I am rather okay, but there’s this undefined shape and heavy crisscross lines inside of me that’s just there. I’ve been forcing my guts to suck it up, and stop acknowledging anything not nice. But confronting myself now, as I continue looking for the right words to finish this piece, I’ve realised the reason behind my writing stagnation since that particular zombie day, is because I’ve been trying so hard to feel okay. But the truth is, I feel downright helpless.

What I would give to be walking on familiar streets right now. To be surrounded by familiar people. And what I would give to make all the inconveniences go away. There are so many things happening everywhere, and the most distressing events are from back home. My plans, and all these possibilities I’ve been constructing before all this madness happened, all the supposed checklists have gone down the drain. And don’t get me wrong, I get the hashtag check your privileges movement, and I am a nurse in a badly hit nation, hell I’ve been re deployed once, but loneliness in a different circumstance doesn’t mean its fake loneliness. Believe me, I am trying to psyche my self out of it, and keep repeating “mind over matter”, “mind over matter”. I do have a chance to go home, but I am at the mercy of what may or may not happen. Of rules, regulations, policies, border restrictions, statistics, vaccine outcomes, all of which I have no control of.

It’s been 3 weeks of sleeping during the night and not hauled up in uncomfortable yellow vehicles, or counting in twos and fives. I almost already forgotten what it’s like to be in zombie mode. But fighting my tears right now, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, I am hoping for another 24 hour marathon shift. At least in that situation I have full control of what I can do to make me feel better. I can choose to sleep all day, or grab a plate of that katsu/ teriyaki duo from the Japanese place across the street, or soak my feet in hot water and epsom salt, or grab another soya matcha tea latte with 2 pumps of simple syrup (okay I have to stop saying that), or even wear my running shoes and head somewhere I haven’t been to before. At least I can choose to do something possible, something with in my reach.

One day at a time, 5 on calls this month, another 5 next month and hopefully, I can be home again.

How I Cleared My Acne (skin type: oily, acne prone)

*Reposted. I just really want to migrate everything on WordPress so I can permanently delete my Blogspot account πŸ™‚

Ah, minimalism and how my daily choices have been dependent on one particular question, “does this go in line with my ideals in life?”. Part of the goal is to live in minimalism Valhalla but I think it’s also important to discuss certain aspects of my life where I struggle with minimalism, or should I say find difficulty in choosing minimalist options.

And that aspect of my life is, drum roll please, skin care! A little skin background. I have nothing much to say apart from Kojic, Safeguard and St, Ives Apricot scrub. I mean, thinking about my childhood and coming of age days, skin care wasn’t something I paid much attention to, and it certainly wasn’t something that bothered me. I wasn’t blessed with good skin, and I didn’t mind at all. I had un even skin tone, a few freckles, a few bumpy textures, the occasional zit from time to time, but over all I was okay. I cleaned my face every morning and every night, just like everybody else. I wasn’t into make up, but I got into the bb cream, cheek tint fad, and again I was okay with that. My skin care was extremely basic. You couldn’t even make me buy any product not on sale or anything more expensive than my hourly nursing rate. 

Until one day I woke up with a galaxy of small to medium zits on my face, which I initially blamed on jetlag and air pollution. I thought these “things” will go away for sure. Days and weeks passed, and  although some did go away, another galaxy came and so on and so on. I was cool with it to be honest, until one of the surgeons I work with saw me and blurted in horror “what happened to your face?!”. My heart dropped to the lowest of the low and my attitude made a 180. I got home that day determined to start “fixing” my face, or maybe bring it back to baseline (that nurse in me is just all over the place). I started doing online research on acne and skincare. The rest, well the rest has been a whole lot of trial and error, deliveries, good days, bad days, yep, a whole lot of skin care. 

Wait. I let a few words get to me and allowed myself to be vulnerable? That doesn’t sound right. It’s such a shame to speak about physical looks when life is meant to be bigger than that. But I believe part of having a good disposition involves taking good care of yourself. Trust me I wouldn’t change anything on my face, hell I don’t even put my eyebrows on fleek, but good skin is something else. It’s easy to say don’t let other people’s opinion affect you, self love, yada yada yada. But if you recognise a problem that has a solution, and if this solution will make you have a better outlook in life. Then it’s worth a shot.

When my skin problem started, it was a combination of comedones all over my face, and a few cystic acne on my cheeks and on my temples. My first reaction was to go back to basics, and in my head that meant Safeguard and Kojic soap, which of course didn’t do anything. After that, I tried the bentonite/ cider vinegar mask, which dried my pimples but made my face tomato red. Then I started buying drugstore acne products, which to some extent worked, but did not stop my acne from coming back over and over again. I became more serious about it when I discovered skin care YouTube channels like Hyrum, Beauty With in, and James Welsh. They encouraged me to understand my skin and focus on ingredients rather than product marketing. In a way I also tried approaching my problem holistically. Together with choosing the right products, I incorporated more exercise and clean eating to my daily habits. 

After a year and a lot of products tested, below are what I found to be most effective on my skin. Disclaimer! Just like what every skin care guru on Youtube says, we all have different skin types and what works for me may not work for others. wink. 

Cleansers– A friend introduced me to this Cosr- X salicylic acid cleanser and I haven’t stopped using it since then. When most of my acne cleared, I started alternating it with the Low Ph Gel cleanser also from Cost- X. I use the Banila Co balm cleanser as a prelude cleanser when I feel like I have too much gunk on my face.

Chemical Exfoliators and Toners– These products, I must say are the biggest game changers in my fight against acne. I find Paula’s Choice a bit on the pricey range but I tried a small bottle of their 2% BHA exfoliant and when I finished it, I knew I just had to get another. I also started using toners which I never bothered with before, I thought they had no use. The best toner so far for me is this AHA/BHA toner by Cosr- X. My acne drastically started clearing up when I used these products consistently. You will need pads to apply these products. I’ve been using these washable cotton pads I got from Amazon and they work perfectly fine.

Spot treatments– I bought this Clearasil acne treatment gel just because it says “rapid action treatment” but it does what it says it will do. Although I noticed it also causes a lot of hyperpigmentation. The best ever spot treatment for me is definitely these hydrocolloid patches by Cosr- X. It decreases inflammation overnight, even in cystic acne. UPDATE: Out of convenience and practicality, I tried Dr Jart’s acne patches for a change, and seriously it’s the best I’ve tried so far. It’s about the same price as Cosr- X but you get more patches and they work much much better in clearing acne with mild hyperpigmentation.

Serums/ treatments– These products were very confusing at first, but I found the ones that made a difference on my skin. These are Iunik’s rose galactomyces serum, The Ordinary’s Niacinamide, and Retinol from the Inkey List. I’m not big on Vitamin C, but I’ve been using this  suspension from The Ordinary on my days off, and it hasn’t given me any problems so far. 

Moisturisers– The issue with living in a country with 4 seasons is that you need to adjust your moisturiser depending on the weather. During winter, I’ve been double moisturising with Nature Republic’s aloe vera gel and Clinique’s 72-hr intense moisturiser. Now with the air getting warmer, I started using this Hyaluronic moist cream from Istree. I also recently purchased Purito’s Centella recovery cream. It has anti bacterial properties and niacinamide so I figured I better finish this first before restocking on another niacinamide bottle from The Ordinary.

Sunscreen– Everyone and I mean everyone says we should wear sunscreen ALL THE TIME. I have since developed a habit of putting sunscreen on even when I’m indoors and so far these two are the best I’ve tried. I like sun protection that’s not too sticky and greasy on my face and Purito’s Centella SPF line has been my favourite. In alternating days or when I’m not at work, I use Paula’s Choice because of the matte finish. I should also include Biore’s aqua fresh sunscreen, because it feels like water on my skin plus it’s so affordable.

I am in no way near my pre acne skin, but I have since embraced my journey. My skin is getting better. The hoards of comedones on my temples and cheeks are now gone. I still have a few on my forehead, but that’s okay. Now I’m on the stage of lightening hyperpigmentation and getting rid of redness from all those pimples who called my face their home. I still wake up to a few acne every now and then, but it’s more manageable now. My goal is to go back to my pre acne face. And eventually to lessen all these products I use to just the essential, talk about minimalism. 

For now though, I just need to keep doing what I’m doing. I’ve been working out pretty well lately, but my food intake hasn’t been impressive. I just can’t do away with sweets and we all know what sugar does to our body. Anyhow, I’m sticking with healthy baking as a solution, that’s another story to tell. Oh and also, don’t forget to change your pillow case and bath towels regularly, sanitise your phone, avoid touching your face when you haven’t washed your hands yet, and of course social distancing πŸ™‚ 

My feelings are valid. (#thriftthatOOTD)

Wait, can I talk about feelings? My feelings? Feelings are valid, our feelings are valid. I said that in ultra slow motion. And isn’t being emotional so romantic? Sometimes? meh. I’ve been rummaging my head with what to write and what to blog about lately. I wanted to write about my hometown, and the plight to keep it original. I wanted to write about my demanding profession and how in 2 years, it has greatly influenced my taste in music. But here I am, in yet another #thriftthatOOTD, #pointandshoot moment. It’s just so easy to say wear second hand clothes, or wear what you have. No seriously, fast fashion sucks. Well hello! My feelings are valid. And If I feel like crap, unable to finish sentences, unable to write coherent paragraphs, unable to think clearly, then it’s okay.

Sometimes when we have so many pictures in our head, so many scenarios and words and possibilities and maybes and what ifs and disappointments, frustrations. Sometimes we just want to keep things neat and simple. I want to keep things simple with thrifted clothes and mismatched colours. And when I feel like my head is about to explode with too much worrying and uncertainty, I go for a walk and point and shoot at anything I find beautiful. Anything raw, real, and in the moment just to make me calm down and still be grateful. Each step is a reminder to take things slowly, one day at a time. And the next thing you know, whatever it is, that’s pounding your mind and making you anxious, shall eventually pass. Breathe in. Breathe out.

It’s so easy to give up on this world. It’s so easy to hate humanity and all the ills and perils of this “modern” society. What monsters we’ve become, without even realising. And how do we know which way to go? Who do we follow to make things right again? We live in a jungle of mounting confusion and so many sinister choices. Which do you pick? I sure will pick my thrifted clothes and my walkathons any day, any time. No questions asked.

But really, I want to talk about my hometown and how’s it’s slowly being murdered by office people in pretentious suits. Damn it, we have to do something quick.

15 things I don’t buy anymore

Reposting this on WordPress πŸ™‚

If there’s another good thing that came out of my quarantine days, it should be those free hours soaking in all the information my mind can squeeze out of the internet. Once I watched a helluva lot of “things I don’t buy anymore” videos, and I was so so impressed and inspired to babble about my own version. 

Most of those videos have at least 50 items on their lists, and mine for now is at 15, which sound dismal and minute really. But it’s fairly important to be as honest as I can get when writing about my minimalism trials. I am in no way ashamed to admit I only have 15 items I no longer purchase, for now (wink).

One of the major contributing factors with how I came up with this list is the fact that I celebrate my individuality. Over the years, I have grown to become more confident with who I am and what I want my life to be. This manner of thinking has swayed me away from trends and that feeling of the need to be in. I have learned to accept myself in a holistic manner. And in this process I also developed a level of contentment enough to make me look in the mirror and feel at peace. I have bushy and unruly eyebrows and I’m okay with that. My rabbit teeth are yellow from years of morning coffee, and I’m okay with that too. 

Anyhow, these are 15 things I no longer buy: (apart from obviously avoiding single use plastic products, I have a few personal reasons so and so why I no longer purchase these items.)

1. Bottled water

Give me potable tap water anytime and I’ll be alright. Thanks in part to my 3rd world country gut system. But seriously, as far as my World Wide Web deep diving research is concerned, Europe has the best quality tap water system out there, so why not take advantage? When I was in Switzerland, I was told I can drink straight from the tap anywhere, even in the toilet. That’s amazing for me considering how potable water can be rare in some parts of the world. 

2. Eye make up/ cream

I have dark under eyes and am basically monolid for as long as I can remember, and these are ingrained in my genes. My mother and one of my aunts have the same features. When I was a teenager, I used to get teased a lot for my dark under eyes, like “woah are you taking drugs” questions, or “are you insomniac” or whatever. I even saved my allowance to buy those rolling pens on commercials hoping my dark under eyes would lighten but hell no. No product ever “fixed” my under eyes. Gladly, I have come to terms with that. And should you notice, there’s no point putting eye liner or eye make up on people with monolids because they don’t have a crease for it. I tried but I laughed in the end because it’s just not flattering for me. The key is acceptance. By accepting my eye features, I have become unbothered. Instead I embraced all my “imperfections” and in doing so have simplified my life by not purchasing eye related products. 

3. cotton pads

I am a skin care junkie because of adult acne and a lot of good products out there require pads for application. Just recently I invested on reusable cloth pads. I’m on my 2nd wash and so far I have no complaints. Reusable cloth pads do the same job with lesser waste and more money in your pocket. 

4. 3 in 1 instant coffee

I used to love those Kopiko 3 in 1 brown packets we have in the Ph. That was my quick go to morning coffee goodness. But the brewed life took over, and living abroad somehow transformed my tastebuds into rejecting anything too sweet. Kopiko 3 in 1 for me now is just too sweet. Thus I’ve resorted to my ever reliable French press and whichever ground coffee I have available. I am a proud decaf drinker on weekdays btw. And I still have medium roast Sagada brew I ration for weekends. 

5. tea bags

At one point in my existence, I tried converting to the tea life but I failed. Harhar. I even bought actual tea leaves and a tea infuser for a less waste option but I just cannot. Again and again, the key is acceptance. I can never be a tea person so I stopped trying. Although I did love the fruity flavours, and that peppermint tea from Morocco. But at the end of the day, coffee is life in my department.

6. fabric softener

I don’t have any allergies, and I’m not ultra fuzzy or sensitive when it comes to clothes touching my skin. So I don’t bother with fabric softener. Minimalism in a way is also making life more simple. Laundry should be simple, one product is enough.

7. uncomfortable shoes and uncomfortable clothes

I’m not going to prom anytime soon, and I wear clogs literally all the time at work. I am in my 30’s, and call me a bore or whatever but I don’t go out partying and bar hopping on Friday and Saturday nights in bandage dresses and pointy sandals. Some people do though, and I respect that. But again it all falls down to accepting what has become of you, and thus not wasting resources on items that are essentially of no use in your day to day life.

8. scented candles

I used to buy these all the time because I wanted that nice smell in my room every time I get home from work. Specially in the winter when I tend to not open windows ever. Admit it, our rooms smell bad from time to time. But never underestimate the power of dirt and greens. Ever since I put plants in my room I no longer felt the need fill the air with scented candles. Plants are natural air purifiers, and they make me happy. #plantitaspotted

9. eyebrow products

I admire people who can put their eyebrows on fleek, for serious. Those perfectly arched eyebrows that look so natural are unbelievable. Trust me I tried to put my eyebrows on fleek too but again who am I kidding? My eyebrows are the definition of bushy and unruly, and I have come to love them that way. They will stay as they are, with a bit of trimming from time to time. I mean, they are bushy but who wants a forest for eyebrows?

10. novelty jewellery, accessories, etc.

I had a phase in my teenage to young adult life when I used to sell DIY hair accessories. Gossip girls made me do it. I used to love trinkets and I even made my own tassel earrings. Eventually I found my personal style in accessory-less bohemian outfits and personalised extra large band shirts. Now, I only have 1 pair of earrings and my engagement ring. I have some headbands I use for working out and some head gear I use as appropriate for whichever season we’re at.

11. fizzy drinks

My primary reason for not buying fizzy drinks was to save money when eating out (service water please), but eventually when I became more serious about pursuing a healthier lifestyle, I just stopped drinking fizzy/colored drinks altogether. Except alcohol on special occasions, wink.

12. hobby hoarding stuff

This is something I’m really proud of. I am a DIY person and kind of an inconsistent hobby hoarder. One time I got into painting which was very soothing. I did 3 canvasses and that was it. The oil paints and the brushes withered away. I also wanted to make my own candle, so I bought candle wicks from Amazon, but that didn’t come to life. I have a scrap book I still haven’t finished till now, and I have various stamps hidden somewhere in case I feel artsy fartsy. I already decluttered and kept what I deemed are important but I still feel like I have a lot of hobby related items so I just forced myself to stop buying. 

13. body wash and deodorants

It’s difficult for me to go all the way zero waste when it comes to toiletries to be honest. I’ve tried at least 4 different brands of shampoo bars, and they always made my hair so sticky every after use, so I gave up. Body wash though is a different story. I can’t be bothered with scent and the need for a loofah so I use plain soap. I buy the cheapest I can find in the store. Just as long as they lather and take the dirt off of my skin. Oh and I just don’t use deodorants. I embrace sweat. I feel like sweating is also getting rid of toxins so I just let it flow. Nobody has yet to complain about my smell so I guess that’s fine.

14. plastic cups, disposable cutlery

I am a party avoider and definitely not a party host, thus I don’t feel the need to buy these items. At work I keep a reusable bottle in my locker and we have a coffee room with kitchen essentials I can always wash and use whenever I need to. Although I have to admit, in instances I get to attend Filipino gatherings, I use whatever cutlery they lay out which in most cases are always the plastic ones. But who wouldn’t want to eat in a Filipino party when you live overseas eh? 

15. Nail polish

Here is another I tried this before monologue. I did try nail polish in my younger years. I even tried the polka dot nail art when nail art wasn’t as big as it is now. But the truth is that I have tiny tiny nails. And who am I kidding? Nail polish make my hands and feet look like children’s extremities. Also, I don’t like how nail polish made my nails yellow every after removal, or maybe I used cheap brands. Apart from generating unnecessary waste, nail polish, like eye make up just doesn’t flatter me in any way. 

I really want my minimalism stories to be focused more on my journey instead of expectations and outcomes. I want to share my personal struggles in hopes that other people may relate to it. Hopefully next time I babble about things I no longer buy, I’ll have more on my list πŸ™‚ 

#thriftthatOOTD

In another #thriftthatOOTD moment, here is your tired nurse, semi recovered from last week’s crazy shifts, thankfully not in zombie mode, and frolicking around brick walls in hand me downs and second hand clothes. Can I just say I am so proud of myself for still wearing the same clothes I used to wear back home? Thank you. In this lazy, anything comfortable day, I wore my favourite maxi skirt, thrifted from one of Baguio’s notorious ukay ukay hotspot. My boyfriend bought me this Johnny Cash t-shirt he scrounged from the night market, also in Baguio. The jacket was originally owned by my mother, but she eventually gave it to us. Yes me and my sibs share clothes. Until eventually I got the full rights to use it, because I needed it for my OFW life. And, not to forget my ever reliable tote bag from Artwork, which is a Filipino brand. In all fairness, this bag has had plenty of washes already but the print is still in tact. Plus I can fit so many things in it, even groceries sometimes.

I don’t know how many times I have to say it, and here I am saying it again. I will never ever get tired of expressing myself in second hand clothing. It’s extremely practical and sustainable for me to wear what is already there. Considering what’s happening in our world right now with trends and fast fashion and social media. I left my hometown thinking that living overseas is a good opportunity to reinvent myself but gosh that was a mistake. Almost 5 years down the road but who I am now and who I want to be are all deeply rooted to how I grew up. Even the minute aspects of my life, like my choice of clothing are still greatly influenced by my hometown, #tigabaguio. I may have had a different purpose to buying second hand back then, but if I think about it now, it makes so much sense to have done it that way. Clothes don’t decompose, they may go out of style but which should you put emphasis to? It’s so easy to make a choice. I prefer making the right choice, every chance I can get.

Although, I also have to say, I don’t exclusively purchase all things second hand. Lately, I’ve been exploring the world of conscious buying which I have been avoiding before. I really can’t push myself to buy an organic ethically curated dress for more than a hundred pounds. Like wow that’s too too much for me. BUT! There’s more to this story, I swear. I just need to research further and I guess have more experience about it before I say anything.

Well, I guess that’s about it for my WordPress #thriftthatOOTD shebang shebang debut, until my next non zombie mode day off πŸ™‚

3 Books I Read in September, and 3 Reasons Why I’m Desperate to Read Books Again

Once upon a Saturday off.

I woke up to the scent of potted star gazers left to wilt in one corner of my room. Beautiful things don’t seem to last forever. And as I opened my eyes towards the sun, I felt the last few days of this unusual summer morning slowly warming my puffy face. It’s been a few months of varying and questionable social distancing rules, I was craving for a sense of normalcy before I headed for another work week.

After a quick jog and a hot cuppa home made mocha, I rode a red bus to the busy streets of this City towards cafe life where I was hoping to feel “normal” again. I don’t even know exactly what that meant to me on that day, but having been living far away from home in unsettling times, I feel like going back to mundane routines somehow gives me comfort and allows me to move forward. I wanted a second afternoon cup of mocha whilst stalking people playing footsies or making faces in front of their laptops.  Hence, I went to my favourite 5th floor cafe.

Despite the mandatory social distancing brouhaha, I managed to secure my favourite spot. I’m not quite sure if I found my “normal”, sitting there and going about what I used to be doing pre virus madness, but one thing I knew for sure I felt, was a sense of gratitude. Better days are coming.

In fact that day did get better. After re energising with caffeine and needing to come down from the 5th floor, I skipped the elevator and walked through 4 floors of nothing but books. By the time I reached the ground floor, I had 3 in my hands which I gladly paid for. Books and minimalism are critical podcasts topics, but I don’t have any problems. I refuse to box my becoming minimalist to certain rules and requirements. As long as I read what I buy, and I share to people who are interested, my conscience isn’t particularly bothered.

This is not a post about how many books you should be reading in a month, and certainly not about what you should be reading. I’m just happy to share these 3 books I read in September, and why I am desperate to read more again.

  1. Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata- What is it with all things Japanese eh?? From Grave of Fireflies which I vow never to watch again, to hunting Totoro plush toys in Baguio’s night market, to secretly reading Kafka on the Shore whilst waiting for “sup calls” in my previous career, oh and my lockdown binge of Japanese cartoon movies in superb animation and subtitle galore, my immersion to anything Japanese is going deeper and deeper and there’s no backing out. Out of all the 3 books I read, this stood out the most. In a way, I was disappointed with the ending. I was expecting the main character to make a move and do a drastic change in her life. Actually I was more disappointed with myself for being disappointed. We live in a society where “success in life” is defined by wealth, power, position, big words. But is that what really matters? This is also not a post about minimalism, but my personal journey to becoming a minimalist has greatly impacted my life. And, after reading this book, I felt like I’m still very much in a journey, and I still have a long long way to go, which I’m looking forward to. That sounds rather promising. Anyhow reason number 1 for desperately wanting to read more again is to keep me away from toxic social media. I think at some point everyone wants to leave Facebook. And right now I am at that stage where I just don’t want to be scrolling and getting my emotions triggered negatively by certain posts. It’s not healthy. It’s giving me anxiety. It has to stop.

2. If Cats Disappeared From The World by Genki Kawamura- Yes, it’s another Japanese title, and what is going with all the cats in Japan? If I were a cat, I would totally live in Japan. This book gave me a slow start but it all made sense in the end. As I was going through each chapter, I kept thinking of how the world would be if certain things indeed disappeared. But when I finished the last page, I felt the book wanting to tell me more than disappearing cats and movies, and the devil showing up in random places. It made me review my existence and how I value the people around me. I’m not sure where along the way has reading slipped down my list of hobbies, why did I even let that happen? I started reading even before I learned how to walk, I mean not literally. But my aunties have this story of how when I was a child, I used to open books and pretend read, looking at pages and mumbling sounds that don’t make sense. I love that story about me, because growing up I used to read anything, really anything I can hold in my hands, even tabloid newspapers (I skip the pages with nude women). Until I became an adult and slowly my reading faded away. Not entirely gone but my numbers have dwindled, and I’m not proud of that. Nevertheless, it’s not too late to make a change. I want to read more and in that manner be able to nurture good and productive hobbies. Especially in our world today where we have unlimited access to unlimited things. I have decided to live my life where I choose things that feed my soul and keep me grounded.

3. How We Are Hungry by Dave Eggers- Here I go again with a collection of short stories that make me question my ability to understand fiction. I started with a 20php Booksale find called “The Girl on the Fridge” by Etgar Keret. Which I really enjoyed even if half the time I was flabbergasted with how a one-and-half page story can leave you felling inadequate. I discovered Dave Eggers in another second hand bookstore, and I have been a fan since then. The thing with compiled short stories is that you won’t get bored. If you don’t like one, you just have to read through a few more words, and then you can head to the next story, which will get you excited again. I don’t have much to say about short stories because like I said, they tend to leave me staring blankly into space. Maybe they were meant to stay as short stories in the first place, maybe it’s up to you as a reader to choose how the flow of the story should eventually go, I really don’t know. And my reason number 3 for wanting to read more again? I just don’t want to loose my imagination. I don’t want to loose my childhood just because my back is hurting and I have bills to pay. Reading took me to places and introduced me to spectacular characters and I don’t ever want to loose that feeling.

Again this is not a post about how many books one should be reading in a month. And I’m not interested to know how many books one should have read to be called a bookie or whatever. It’s okay. Say what you feel. Choose wisely, always. Don’t be a monster. Read, live and let live πŸ™‚

Hello WordPress!

I have been dying to migrate my blog to WordPress but I couldn’t figure things out for so long. Ughhhhh. Not today though! Thank you Google and Sunday productivity ehem ehem. I wanted to still use my domain from Blogspot but everything seemed too complicated and expensive to do. Hell, I am not typing my security code for that. Anyhoos and haas, part of my stay away from Facebook strategy is to blog more and vent out my feelings more, in a less toxic, more friendly, more constructive, more open minded, just more positive environment. WordPress I am counting on you, don’t fail me, lol.

On a serious note, I am so so excited, and really looking forward to immerse myself in creativity, sound judgement, and more dramatics. As I challenge myself further on to a minimalist and less waste generating life, I’d like to share my struggles and triumphs along the way, hoping someway somehow I can join a community who share the same adventure.

In between, I will also be babbling about my scrubbing overseas nurse life in London. I’m falling in love with this City as the months drag on and I swear I have valid reasons for that. And I have this hashtag thrift that OOTD series where I ask my friends to take pictures of me or I mount my camera somewhere just for the sake of documenting my thrifted/ second hand/ hand me down outfits. I am a proud thrifter and loving it. Hashtag tiga Baguio. But I don’t know, anything can happen, Covid happened. So I guess anything goes πŸ™‚

Lockdown Minimalism (5 lockdown moments that made me a better minimalist, somehow)

“la la la la la,
you’ve got the music in you,
one dance left,
this world is gonna pull through
don’t give up,
you’ve got a reason to live”

I don’t mind one hit wonders whilst in isolation. Particularly when pretending to compete in a pandemic bake off show, indoors of course. Shout out to 90’s kids if you recognise this song. Spotify was conveniently on shuffle when this came up, and though my hands were tied up trying to make Swiss meringue buttercream, I merrily sang along with my sloppy lyrics. Until the song went, “this world is gonna pull through”, and blame it on quarantine blues or crappy meringue but that line hit me hard. Something between those words triggered my emotions to vomit, I literally started crying. I’m not a huge fan of the gonna be this and gonna be that, I’m just not a fan of gonna gonna in general but holy smokes, I cried thinking how awful and frustrating it feels to live right now, in this moment, in this minute, in this year. Don’t we all wish for our world to pull through ASAP? I dried my tears and gave up on this Swiss meringue buttercream, it’s just not working for me.Β How I wish I could give everyone a hug and say “you’ve got the music in you!”. These are, for double real, trying times. If you’re wondering, I made cream cheese frosting instead.

It’s been more than a month of waking up in the morning and doing rapid self checks. Whether I’m breathing fine, if I’m having a fever, or if my taste buds are still intact. My shift patterns at work have changed drastically, usual routines needed to be put aside. Numbers are all over the news, differing opinions, failed trials, fake news and worst, people are dying. The future seem uncertain at this point, and the worrying level is in danger zone. I can go on and on with anxiety inducing events in our World right now, but sitting here as the hours drag, waiting for my next shift, I think I better dwell on these opportunities to stay safe with a roof over my head instead. My heart is more than grateful.

Having said all of that, shall I change the mood and express how this lock down has been quite encouraging towards my personal drama to minimalism. Now hear me out, I don’t want to sound like forcing something good out of a tragedy, and I definitely don’t want to implore an insensitive millenial vibe. But here are 5 lockdown moments that made me a better minimalist, somehow.

1. My food consumption.

Being a healthcare worker, I have this imposing thought in my head that I’m infected (I have never been tested BTW).Thus I’ve only ever been to work, in our flat, and the supermarket which we go to early in the morning. I’m good at these lock down rules, trust me. In the process, unknowingly, at one point I went 11 days straight without food shopping. 11 days is a personal best, given how my to and from work route has at least 6 food shops. On the 12th day, I no longer had food to prepare for my next day shift but, I felt empowered like I did a very good job. In another instance I made a huge lasagne, which I kept in the fridge and ended up having for maybe 6 meals. And as I downed the last bite of the last portion, I felt like Superman for not wasting food. There is a sense of contentment, peace and victory when you only consume what is in front of you, despite multitudes of accessible options around. Every black banana became bread, and every spare boiled camote became cookies. I love the challenge of creating something edible with what I already have, not succumbing to convenience and cravings, and at the same time avoiding “contamination”.

2. My work out and fancy coffee habits.

Talking about quarantine routines. I know most of us have been spending plenty of time in our rooms lately, which is a big change from what we’re used to. Pre quarantine, I had this day off habit of going to the gym in the morning, and having fancy coffee after. My membership was put on hold when the situation got bad, which saved me from having to make phone calls, and spending money on nothing. Now, I try as much as I can to sweat it out every free afternoons lock down style, courtesy of my Yoga studio app, and these surprisingly good work out videos on Youtube, allΒ  free. In the morning, I make my own fancy coffee with non dairy milk, good quality chocolate powder, and my dark roast Sagada blend. Once I tried using Barista version oatmilk and it really made a difference with frothing. I was never the daily fancy coffee drinker to begin with, but lock down has made me realise you can actually go further that what you think you’re capable of.

3. My paperback books.

I used to read a lot. Until the internet, and more responsibilities came. Pardon my lame excuses. I still love books though. I even call myself a second hand book hunter. But yes, it’s a heartache when you claim to hoard books but end up with reading backlogs. Surprisingly, with longer work hours and more days off, I managed to catch up. Now I’m left with a cook book, letters to Van Gogh which I don’t plan to finish ASAP, and a South Africa travel guide. Again it’s something to do with consuming what is there and not falling into the trap of adding more. Now when I look at my books,Β  I smile knowing my soul has been fed by these babies and they’re not merely decorations in my room.

*One thing I learned from minimalism podcasts is that there are no absolute rules to doing it. I buy books, but most of the time from second hand shops. And my dream someday is to live in my own house, and work in my own cafe with walls full of books. This is to explain why I buy actual books. Kindle is great but I prefer turning pages, and I’m a big fan of libraries.

4. My spending habits.

I’ve had quite an improvement with this aspect of my life even before this lockdown started. Now, looking at the four corners of my room, I’m just happy knowing I still have the same objects I had when I moved to London. Basically I’ve been a nomad for the past 4 years and I know my current abode is still temporary. I don’t have a bed for now, and I’m perfectly fine with a mattress only. My bedside fixtures haven’t changed much. And my outfits are pretty much the same, in fact even less than before. With non essential shops closed, and our flat location not exactly delivery friendly, I’m sure my purchasing habits will be fine.

5. My hobbies and DIY attempts.

Quarantine is bringing out the best in all of us, to some extent. I haven’t found regular yeast anywhere since we all started lining up for groceries, so I guess everyone’s baking now. I myself joined the sourdough starter bandwagon in replacement for yeast which I still haven’t managed to scour, and I’m loving it! It’s amazing what simple flour and warm water can do in good conditions. Apart from that I have been tinkering with my ukulele again, and I was told I was getting good at it. Imagine that. Someone I know has started playing the guitar again, and mygahd another someone got swept off her feet again, even virtually. What am I saying? Anyhow I’ve been revisiting my old hobbies in my isolation hours. I wanted more plants in my room, so I bought flower seeds and scraped dirt from the neighbourhood. I used old pots laying around the house, and now I’m just waiting for them to bloom. I also brought out my glue gun and colouring pens again. Scarpbooking and train tickets may not be screaming minimalist but there’s a bigger picture to consider. I’ve been thinking a lot about the “future” lately, and part of that is to make sure everything I do now will eventually lead mo to the kind of life I always wanted. Including these transport tickets in different languages which I plan to make something beautiful out of, in the “future”. Minimalism taught me to steer my life this way. How one small thing can make a big difference in the long run.

STRUGGLES (the not so minimalist bits)

I feel so embarrassed to even talk about this. But my adventure to minimalism has not all been rainbows and butterflies. Lately I’ve been disgusted with myself over social media use. I’ve become a comments section dweller for hours in a day. It’s driving me crazy! I have this need to know what’s happening back home, and around the world. The problem is I can’t seem to figure out how to filter relevant information from trolling, fake news, celebrity brouhahas, and the every now and then judgement I cast upon millions of posts I see online. It’s becoming an addiction, and I really need to put an end to it. Tips anyone? (Update: I realised it’s important to engage with people from work, especially those working directly on the front lines, and involved with handling this dreaded virus. They tell you the truth and they make more sense. Things we see online can be manipulative and misleading. Choose what you read please.)

And in another confession. I talked about my spending habits and how I’ve grown to be more confident about it, but if there’s one thing I’m guilty spending on and having delivered from time to time, it’s skin care. I don’t wear make up, and I’m all for clear skin, but mine hasn’t been participating well for quite some time now. I’ve tried the minimalist approach but it just got worse, it was traumatising. You tube helped me a lot, with product choices and layering, and I’ve been enjoying these morning and night routines that somehow make me feel like I value my own well being. It’s not easy to let go of that for now, I’m afraid.

*I recognise we all have different ways to cope with this global lockdown and everything else involved with it. I understand how the social, economical, spiritual and everything else aspects of our lives have been greatly affected. Everything I said were merely narrations of how I’ve been dealing with it. Being an OFW, the fact that I’m thousands of miles away from home. And being a health care worker. Please be kind to me hehe πŸ™‚ la la la la la la you’ve got the music in you, one dance left, this world is gonna pull through, don’t give up, we’ve got a reason to live, la la la la la.

This is the song to the lyrics above πŸ™‚Β