Finding Inspiration

Inspiration has to do with pretty much anything we do. If it is writing, drawing, dancing, cooking, playing an instrument etc. But sometimes it is hard to get inspired and we feel stuck. We sit at our desks starting a sketch or a choreography for a dance over and over again and we just get frustrated because nothing seems right. I get this feeling a lot.

After school I spend a good amount of time sitting in front of my laptop, looking through photos I have taken on my travels around the world. For me, photography is something to escape to and to relax. Going through pictures is almost like you are reliving these moments. I always think it is so overwhelming how much meaning a picture can have. I pretty much only take pictures of animals and it has grown to be my biggest passion. When I look at my pictures, and I get to look an animal straight into the eyes through a picture I have taken, it almost feels like as if I had some sort of connection to it. For a moment everything is quiet and it is just me and the animal.

Photography has its many amazing sides. You get to travel the world, see the most amazing spectacles that nature has to offer, but there is also a side to it which sometimes brings you down. I follow hundreds of other photographers on social media, and sometimes I scroll through certain accounts just thinking: wow. I wish I could capture pictures like this.

I have a bad habit of comparing myself to others and being very harsh to myself when it comes to the pictures I take. I try to find inspiration through others but in the end it just makes me feel like my pictures aren’t good enough. I have spent hours and hours trying to find a style, that when people see my photos, they know that they are from me. Every time I post something I think it is just not good enough, my pictures all look the same and they all just look flat. I get frustrated and I can’t find any inspiration or whatsoever. But this is part of the progress. Nothing is ever perfect. But there are moments, when I see a picture that I like, and it just makes me so incredibly happy and proud. And these are the moments that keep me going.

People text me telling me that my pictures inspire them. That they enjoy my work. And these are the moments that make everything so worth it. I love what I do and I am so incredibly thankful for all the amazing moments I have got to experience thanks to photography. I love sharing my work with other people, bringing people closer to our wildlife and nature, showing off the beauty and diversity our planet has to offer.

Photo taken by the author.

bicycle

Riding on a bicycle should be a very simple thing, but it is extremely difficult for me. When I was a child, I could ride the four-wheel and three-wheel bicycle very well, and I liked to ride around in my neighborhood. I felt myself was as cool as the police riding on his motorcycle. 

pc: rei.com

However, I cannot ride the bicycle anymore that I rode when I grew up. I started to learn how to ride the two-wheel bicycle, and it is much more difficult than I expected. This kind of bicycle is totally different from what I used to ride, it has no balance at all. Someone told me that you can get balance when you’re riding. So I was trying to pedal and let the bicycle move forward, and it was quite smooth at first, I even could felt the breeze touch my face gently. But, this condition did not last longer than one minute, I felt that I was just like a clown performing acrobatics when the bicycle started to shake left and right. I was too scared to continue pedaling, then the bicycle started to tilt to one side until it touched the ground. Then I was sitting on the cement floor with a scrape on my knee. 

The end of this story is I will never ride any bicycles again, even if it is more than two-wheels. 

Chinese New Year

It’s that time of the year, Asian new year. Asian new year is one of the biggest holidays in countries like Korea and China. We get to gather around with families that we weren’t able to meet for a while and celebrate each other by eating different kinds of food and talking about how their life has been. This is time of the year, where I want to go back to my own country. I always think about how fun it would be to spend time with family and relatives and laugh about stupid stuff, while I’m in my room laying on my bed. I wish one day I could celebrate Asian new year with my family and relatives.

a scene from a 2000s christmas

photo credit: floridamemory.com

The beach houses that my mother would find always seemed so big to my four-year-old perspective. 

With a staircase that I remember to be spiraling and

a brown and cream-colored chess board in the middle of a large living room

which was later to be covered in wrapping paper is what this house seemed like to me at the time. 

My mother was always frantically scurrying around the house to make sure everything was perfect for my grandmother, 

meanwhile, she didn’t mind the imperfections but simply didn’t have the power to say anything. 

The uncles were catching up as the oldest was in Chicago and the youngest was living his life in Australia.

My brother, was playing with his GameBoy, 

eyes locked to the screen. 

My grandfather was looking at the beams and the ceilings to find some reason why the house wasn’t architecturally perfect in his eyes.

And then there was me, either in the corner or on the couch next to my grandmother, where I would play with my Polly Pockets being relatively quiet.

/ / /

I do not remember a lot at the houses except for the people and the feelings surrounding the time.

The presents and all the other material items around me did not matter,  especially because I knew the reality of the grandmother’s illness and how she had limited time here on earth with me. 

I do remember the smell of the house, 

a mixture of palm trees, 

salty ocean mist, and

the sand that has been carried many miles, 

just for me to feel that unforgettable warmth between my toes. 

I also reminisce about her during the holiday season. She wore fuzzy socks. I still have a worn out, baby pink pair of her socks stuffed in the back of my drawers. 

From cuddling on the couch, with the chaos of my family 

to being on the beach, with the rolling waves and the roaring wind, 

her amenity still remains within me. 

Daily Mandala Challenge: Everything You Need To Know About This New Self-Care Trend :)

A Mandala is a symbolic spiritual geometric design which, when reflected on, has the ability to bring out profound inner transformation.  The Mandala is self-expression in the design, meant to represent the universe. The first evidence of Buddha Mandala art dates back to the first century. The Mandala is rooted in Buddhism but later became present in Hinduism, new age spirituality and other religions. Each Mandala has significance and represents an aspect of wisdom and is supposed to remind the meditator of a guiding principle. The Mandala’s purpose is to help transform ordinary minds into enlightened ones with the assistance of deep healing. 

The “Mandala a day” challenge was created by Australian artist Elyse Lauthier and it is now showing up in select areas across the world. Drawing, painting or somehow creating a Mandala a day helps express yourself creatively in ways you wouldn’t normally. It promotes self awareness and Chakra alignments. 

The Challenge is simple: Each day you make a Mandala and simply let your creativity flow, embracing your originality. Creating Mandala is therapeutic because you can express your feelings through art. The Mandala a day challenge is a form of meditation and art.  Mandala’s take “The meditator on a wordless journey into the minds deepest mysteries” said in Eastern traditions. 

Another way to fully grasp Mandala’s intentions is to work/meditate with them. I would recommend investing in Mandala Source Book by David Fontana and Lisa Tenzin-Dolma, as it gives you specific guidance while approaching the artworks. The book includes 150 Mandala’s grouped in four sections: beginning Mandala meditation, healing mandalas, nature mandalas, And other mandalas. This book is a good reference for your own Mandala challenge or meditations. 

Obtaining Mandala mindfulness is a path of self discovery. This challenge challenges us to open up and learn more not only about our conscious minds but also our unconscious minds as we remain unaware of the deeper mysteries of our inner selves through Mandala realignment.

Image from Pinterest.com

Tis the Season

If anyone asks me of favorite holiday of the year, I would reply “Christmas” without hesitation.  There are several reasons why I like Christmas. First of all, I get to see my parents for solid amount of time. However, I just like the unique vibe of Christmas. I like the special smell of Christmas that triggers my nostalgia. Also Christmas carols that are played everywhere on the street.  Good foods are always available during Christmas, and then you get to enjoy the new year celebration. My favorite part of the new year celebration is Fireworks for sure.  It is mesmerizing to watch bursts of fireworks in the night sky, making me think about new year resolution that I will never do.

PC: Patch.com

minty

By the river with the low hanging cypress trees and the strong rapids, down by the field, she was sleeping, 

envisioning God,

envisioning freedom, 

envisioning life. 

But reality woke her from what she knew to be a dream, and not her future. 

she was neglected, hurt, defined by the scar on her forehead. 

she was abused for the color of her skin

she was owned.

she was cheated by the world, just like each of her brothers and her sisters.

photo credit: phoebewahl.tumblr.com

she was alone. 

she waited for an answer, an answer that could only come from liberty or from death. 

so minty ran. 

minty ran far,

one-hundred miles far following the North Star that shown bright in the sky.

when she was lost, He guided her to the river that took her home, 

the river that took her away from the heat of hatred and grimness

the river that washed over her face, cleaning her from the dirt of her “masters.”

in thirty-days time, she felt 

the warmth of acceptance, 

the warmth of respect. 

she stand there,

with the right of her freedom in her grasp,

the sun reflected in her tear-filled eyes. 

Minty felt the freedom embrace her,

she felt her brothers and sisters around her,

she felt the comfort of a home.

a diary from the valley part 1

the various moments i experienced in the valley:

  1. A seven hour car ride where i skipped about 80% of my music library.
  2. The smell of fresh pine everywhere I went.
  3. The smell of smoke embedded in my hair for the entirety of the trip.
  4. Freedom.
  5. Shock when looking at the sheer face of El Capitan.
  6. Pain as I slowly walked up the seven million switch backs to the top of Vernal Falls.
  7. Astonishment as I looked down at the waterfall.
  8. A freezing cold lake.
  9. Burning thighs, calves, and feet.
  10. Being really cold.
  11. Feeling incredibly lucky as I am able to be in a place that is so treasured.
  12. Eating too many PB and J sandwiches.
  13. The strong urge to see a little bear.
  14. Moments where I did not feel anything, no stress, jealousy, anxiety. And it felt really good.
  15. Seeing the valley in a new light. Literally and Figuratively.
  16. The mist blowing against my face as I looked at the waterfall above me.
  17. A seven hour car ride back where I realized that I really enjoy a good podcast.
photo credit: pinterest.com

comfort food

“The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.”

Maya Angelou, All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes

From the smell of fresh baked goods always circulating the house to the comfort of a warm bed, the idea of home sparks warmth and happiness, and I have been so lucky to consider my home in that way.

The white door that creeks and the roof that leaks is where I find home currently, but I have a vision of where I want to be or see myself once I have finished growing up.  

Being a mix of all cultures, the Philippines in itself represents me. Living in a higaonon hut on one of the several islands, I would devour salty chicken adobo and lumpia.

Settling into my home, I would write in my journal about the culture that I experienced that day while looking out from my hut into the orange sunset reflecting off the ocean. 

With beams of warm colors bouncing off the water, I would feel my late grandmother and her mother, wrapping their arms around me with their soft, delicate arms. Eventually, I will feel a sense of comfort and understanding of my surrounding culture.

Living the simple life and knowing my roots, I would sense closure and be able to flee to my new home in San Fransisco, California. 

Even though I was not born there, my roots are in California and more specifically, San Francisco. Like my little Filipino grandmother, I would come from the Philippines and go to the Golden City.

My fate would bring me to the perfect two bedrooms and bathroom apartment on the seventh floor having an auburn red door. Decorated with poems written by my father, my apartment would have the smell of essential oils embedded into the walls, specifically lavender representing my mother’s spirituality.

This would be my sanctuary where tears would be shed, laughs would explode, and love would be felt. 

The Mission district, where my brother was born, would give light to the art forward theme that I created in all the rooms but made sure that every area had its own distinctive flair.

Wanting to explore more about my culture and ancestors, I would travel to the plains of Africa. Settling down in Nairobi, Kenya, where the lifestyle is filled with the history of the Bantu people and the Swahili language, my home would be in a Kikuyu house with no rooms.

Compared to my other homes, I would be connected with the earth where elephants and antelopes have carried their children on their migratory voyage.

This home would give me insight to my African heritage before Europeans came into their territory, before slavery, and before segregation. Instead of learning about the hardships of my culture, I will learn about the rich tradition that the country brings. 

I have always been a homebody. I find extreme comfort with the idea of my home and enjoy its atmosphere. I am excited to see where my future home may be.

photo credit: pinterest.com

Burned Bridges

The United States has a complex and deep rooted relationship with the rest of the world. We stood beside Europe on the march to victory in the first two world wars. But then the 60s and 70s yielded economic and political corruption centered in Latin America, casting us in a malicious light. Then the 1980s saw the fall of the Berlin wall/ Soviet Union, which the US had a large part in. We were the heroes – until the Gulf Wars and Afghanistan, when we invaded places where there was no need to invade, while withdrawing from regions at crucial, inopportune points. Now, in October of 2019, we burned a bridge that had been forged with blood and brotherhood, united under a common desire for justice and peace. For decades, the Kurdish people, an ethnic group living between Syria and Turkey, helped the United States with intelligence, manpower, and resources. In turn, we drove radical insurgents from the surrounding area. But as of this week, the Kurds no longer see us as the ally we have always been. Despite strong warnings from various agencies and the pentagon, President Donald Trump ordered American troops out of a buffer zone between Turkey and Syria, which had for years stopped the Kurds from fighting with the Turks over land. By essentially opening the gate for the Turkish Army, the United States turned its back on the Kurdish people, which has resulted in a plethora of problems. Two issues that stand out greater than the rest are the fact that we betrayed a long standing and loyal ally, and that because of Turkey/Syria’s concentration on the impending conflict, large amounts of prisoners that belong to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have escaped from prisons that as of recent lack security. Many fear that an old and strong bridge has been destroyed, and that the future of the western Middle East may be drastically changed for the worst. The events that are to unfold are likely to be harrowing and unpredictable, so please read from reputable sources if you wish to learn more.  

Image result for kurdish fighters
Credit: The Times of Israel