defragment.me

On “The Licensed Designer”

This was my response to Eric Karjaluoto's blog post on "The Licensed Designer". I thought it was worthwhile sharing my opinion on this blog. Obviously, I feel strongly about this because I never had a chance to go through a formal design education, and I don't think I have done worse than those who had the benefit of one.

In my earlier years I've always craved for a proper design mentor, I was still lucky because I did meet a few senior designers who accelerated my learning, but I shudder at the thought of being stuck with one for a year or two and he/she was not the correct fit (I really believe in this fitting thing. Get the right fit and you blossom. The wrong one and it can be traumatic). What would have happened if I broke my internship (I mean if I was in that scenario)? Would that destroy my design career at young, tender age? That is, if I had the money to pursue a design education in the first place.

My response below:

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Your proposal sounds like architect training, typically five years of institutional education with three years of internship before being a recognised professional.

I feel that it is a very ideal idea, it will give us the foundation and credibility the design profession so sorely lack.

However, one of the most beautiful aspects of design is its low barrier of entry. Of course, everything is a double edged sword, with the low barrier of entry you get drones of designers with unprofessional practice or behavior.

Yet, it allows many of us, who never had a proper chance to go through formal education to have an equal shot at being an accomplished designer. I believe many of us had unconventional pasts and perhaps lack the emotional maturity to go through a structured process of education in our earlier years.

Many of us went through that serendipitous, raw process of self-discovery – that unquenchable thirst for knowledge and insatiable curiousity to learn – through lots of hands-on work and interaction with like-minded people.

If this was a profession that required such stringent accreditation, there will be many of us left out – just like I am sure there are many who dreamed of becoming architects but were unable to do so because of pragmatic restrictions.

Besides, not many accomplished/experienced designers are great mentors. Learning from someone who can be a wrong fit can be detrimental instead.

Perhaps it is worthwhile practicising design principles on a designer's education – balancing structure with creative freedom. Or perhaps allow natural selection to take place. Isn't it about the portfolio? A good client goes out of his/her way to find a good designer/agency (and not rely on a big-name traditional agency for example).

I believe young designers who have the desire and drive to succeed, will. Those who have plainly rely on their prestigious college degrees, or have 'vague notions on how to improve their lacklusture portfolio' may not be suited for this career anyway, and will not be helped by any 'rigorous training process'.

It is easy to be a designer, but not easy to stay as one, and even more difficult to be a successful one.

Besides, every now and then, we get stunned by some young uneducated talent at the age of 16++. We wouldn't want to be deprived of this, would we? :)

Looking back at 2009

2009 has been a tough year for me, personally. It wasn't because of the economy. Reading my previous year's 'looking back' post, I remember that I had ended the year with lots of optimism and hopes. It wasn't to be as I endured a difficult time mentally and emotionally as I struggled to balance all aspects of my life, but I remain grateful – for no matter how difficult it was, I am still able to remain relatively healthy and my loved ones are all well. That to me, is already a blessing I am happy to be able to count, because I know for a fact that many people are not aware of how blessed they are on an everyday basis.

What I could have done better

1. Managing self-expectations

I wanted to title this as time-management, but I have gradually grown to realise that the root of the problem is not that I don't know how to manage my time properly or that I am not disciplined enough. For almost all my life I have pointed the finger at myself for being a procrastinator and that led to feelings of self-guilt and undermining my own value. I had almost come to accept the fact that I simply cannot manage time.

The problem was never the management of time, but the expectations I have laid upon myself. It is ironic because I have a relatively low self-esteem but somehow I have sky-high expectations of myself. I have this super-woman mentality that I can manage a few major processes going on at the same time and come out fine. It is one thing to have a survivor's mentality but another thing to put myself through all the unnecessary stress. I had overestimated my ability to multi-task and the time it takes to accomplish things. I always seem to think that I can be fast (very Aries of me).

If I had set reasonable expectations for myself, I would have met them well and would not have put myself in the stressful situation of being in danger of not meeting deadlines, or trying to manage multiple timelines at one go. I have learnt time management is all about setting small, achievable targets – I mean, if I expect myself to be superwoman (which I am not, or else I wouldn't even be writing this), obviously I wouldn't be able to fulfill the tasks I have set up for myself.

At one stage in 2009, I was in the middle of a huge residential move, taking on a new spiritual course, plus juggling about 5 major work projects, taking care of a dog with behavioral problems; all at the same time. It did not come as a surprise when I was on the verge of a breakdown, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. If this was to happen a couple of years earlier, I would be blaming my luck or whatever else I could blame upon. However, I took this setback very personally, it took me a long time to stop blaming myself for it.

I fell out of love with my work, my work which I so preciously hold dear to my heart. I tie my self-identity to my work and the work I create, when things do not go well with my work, I crumble. It is hard not to fall out of love with it when I am just so burnt out. Not to mention my living quarters had more than 50 huge un-packed boxes. And a dog who refused to stop barking.

I was lost. But I took responsibility for it, I sent apologies to all parties involved and decided that the only thing I could do, is just to put in my best. I stopped accepting new work apart from those I was sure that I could manage. I took myself apart to rebuild my self again.

And I think I am still in the midst of rebuilding it. Right now, I am careful with every decision I make, especially with work. I cannot help but feel apprehensive because I have this phobia of repeating the same mistake. However, I know I cannot be over-protective or I will just miss out on plenty opportunities. I can only put in my best and hope for the best.

2. Loving myself

This past year, I've been putting in a lot of effort into loving myself more. I know this sounds egoistic, but I haven't been loving myself for most of my life. Like honestly. I don't give myself enough credit and I beat myself up hopelessly when things go wrong. This whole self-image thing is central to the many other issues that is going on in my life and to the previous point as well. When things did not go well, all I could do was to lament how incapable I was instead of encouraging myself to do better the next time.

If I had loved myself more, I would have allowed myself more time to play and rest instead of working all day long, I would have valued myself more and not under-charge for my work, which would allow me to take in less work. See how this self-image thing affects me in and out? It creates a whole vicious cycle:

Lack of self love -> Under-value self -> Under charge -> Takes in lots of work to survive -> Lots of stress generated -> Procrastinate because of stress -> Unable to manage timelines properly -> Creativity takes a hit -> Start blaming myself for being unable to create to my own expectations -> Self-hatred begins.

Sidenote: I have seldom missed a deadline in the past year regardless of all my issues. I would rather slave-drive myself than to disappoint my clients. Unless I fell physically sick, which I took full responsibility for.

3. Achieving balance

Work and other personal responsibilities took over my life for the past year, I think I could have read a bit more, played a bit more, watched a few more movies, relaxed a bit more, exercised a lot more.

I tend to swing from extreme to extreme so it is important for me to learn how to go in-between.

What I can be proud of

1. Bringing myself out of the hermit-hole

Being energetically sensitive (okay stop rolling your eyes now ;p), I sort of stopped going out to meet people since 2006. It makes me feel drained and I take quite a while to recover from it. It was a good and much needed break, but I forgone plenty of opportunities in doing that. Everything exists in duality, in avoiding negativity and I had to avoid positivity as well.

Plus, I had self-image issues so I have a phobia of meeting strangers.

It all started from the AWARE incident which made me realise that I need to know like-minded people to achieve any cause. That it can actually be empowering instead of disempowering.

From coming out of my self-created hermit hole, I managed to meet tons of great people who have in turned brought tons of great relationships and opportunities.

2. Going to Tokyo and Hongkong

Amidst all the mess going on, I am glad that I managed to squeeze the time and resources to visit Julia, my spiritual mother in Tokyo, which whetted my appetite for more. Each time I travel out of Singapore I feel a sense of liberation and joy I cannot simply explain in words. I am proud that I did not allow my financial insecurity to stop me from travelling. It was a priceless experience.

An ex-client from Hongkong I worked remotely and briefly with, popped by Singapore and bought me tickets to watch Denise Ho's concert after I casually mentioned it to her. I haven't even met her prior to this and she graciously bought the tickets for me, and invited me over to stay at her place during my two-week trip. I could have burgled her house for god's sake but she trusted me unconditionally; I was almost a stranger to her. Thank you, Belle. I appreciate all of these from the bottom of my heart. This happened at a time when things was not going well for me and it re-affirmed my faith in people and the Universe. If not for my earlier decision to reverse my hermit-dom, I wouldn't have accepted the invitation to meet up and I would have missed this learning experience.

The Hongkong trip was significant to me because it was the first time I sort of travelled alone (my partner left for Singapore after one week). I am the sort of person who is afraid of being alone in the dark and this was a major step out for me. It gave me the confidence to do this traveling thing alone. Apart from that, I had the chance to catch one of the greatest concerts I've ever watched and the concert inspired me very much, both on a professional and personal level. Again, I put aside my financial insecurity to make this trip and it was very, very much worth it.

3. Finding my voice

This is again, tied to my self-image and I have been afraid to voice my true feelings and opinions because I was worried about how people would take them. Will they see me as some weirdo? Or will my clients get upset if I tell them what I truly feel? Can I stand up for myself against nasty clients?

As I grew in self-confidence after I re-valued myself (like some property, haha), I decided that it was very important to me that I find my voice back. I used to be totally self-confident and vocal when I was a kid and I lost that part of me when my life turned up-side down during my teenage years.

I needed to be true, true to myself, and to people. Finding my voice was triggered by the AWARE incident as I struggled whether to air my potentially radical views publicly or not. I finally came to the conclusion that I am my Self and I need to stay true to that self. I put my true self out there and it is up to people whether they want to accept me for me or not. Those who can't, will not be a good fit for me anyway. It will only be tiresome and will not be of any value to both parties if we all have to put on fake fronts and hypocritical smiles.

4. Realising my greatest enemy is – myself

This was a major epiphany for me.

For realising it was never about the luck, the environment, the people, the circumstances. It is all about how I choose to perceive and believe. Everything, everything can be good or bad, it is how one looks at it.

The difference between success and failure is the ability to control the mind. To train the mind and not let the mind train you. The mind is truly powerful, it can sabotage or it can empower. It just takes a flip of a mind-switch to make a radical difference but the difficulty is to convince oneself to flip that switch.

If I truly want something, I have to make that effort, no matter how great it is. It is entirely up to me whether I want to put in that extra inch or mile. Everyone has the power to will themselves into doing anything. "Cannot help it" is a bad excuse. The circumstances can be bad, people can be critical, but if you don't believe in yourself at the very least, or make the effort to go that extra mile, who's going to do it for you?

Nobody. So I have to do it for myself. And if I don't have the will to do it for myself, then who else but myself is the greatest enemy?

Nobody has the ability to create that negative situation or that bleak outlook apart from oneself. If there are people who can make the best out of crappy situations (Stephen Hawking, for example, has lost the use of his limbs but he is still contributing to the world, or Avram Grant's dad who had to bury his parents and siblings during world war II and still feel positive about life), then it is up to us to determine how negative or positive a situation can be. It is all relative.

Gratitude time for the ones who made a significant difference

  • Julia, as always. I do not know how would I have survived without you
  • My partner, for her unwavering support and love
  • Belle, for her invitation to Hong Kong
  • Andy & Jussi, for taking that effort to convince me that meeting strangers can be a pleasant experience
  • Adrianna, for being that inspiring example
  • Danny, for your moral support
  • All the great friends I have made during #barcamp
  • All my clients, especially Kevin, who has not only been a great client but a business mentor to me. The rest, I won't mention all the names because all of you have been great. Thank you for your support and understanding
  • All the Stevens (two, actually) that I know, for they see in me what I cannot seem to see for myself
  • Twitter and my twitter friends, for being my source of comfort when the going gets tough. Not sure what I'll do without the internet, seriously. I wouldn't even have a career! Can't imagine if I was born a century earlier.
  • Those of you who believe in the magic of the universe, thank you for making me feel sane.

Here's to a great 2010!

Therein lies the best career advice I could possibly dispense: just DO things. Chase after the things that interest you and make you happy. Stop acting like you have a set path, because you don't. No one does. You shouldn't be trying to check off the boxes of life; they aren't real and they were created by other people, not you. There is no explicit path I'm following, and I'm not walking in anyone else's footsteps. I'm making it up as I go.

Charlie Hoehn, via kottke.org

Quantum Touched

It is funny how life turns out sometimes. It is just not easy to see the humour in it when you're going through the process yourself.

A lot of stuff has been going on since I've last written over here. Most of it has been internal – within me. My intention when I first started this blog was to share how I had gotten over the darkest periods of my life. I have honestly believed that I have left those days behind me.
On the front, it seems like I have almost all I've ever wanted. I have a fairly stable solo business that enables me the freedom to work from anywhere I want (technically), I have a partner who loves me to bits and shares the same life goals, family issues that have plagued me during my youth were no longer existent.

I was not earning big bucks or that I can afford to relax and be stress free, but come on, it is not as if I have some life-threatening situation or like I am working to cover a mountain of debt.

But I just was not happy.

And I simply grew increasingly unhappy. So unhappy that I kept having mental and emotional meltdowns on a frequent basis. The scary part was that I do not even know why exactly am I so unhappy.

I still feel blessed and grateful for all that I have, but somehow, something is just wrong somewhere. Perhaps I knew what was wrong, but I was just in denial. I had written about what could be wrong on this blog before, but somehow I thought that I may just fix it with sheer bull will.

Burning out for a reason

I wrote a post a while ago after falling into a drain, that I had felt strongly about pursuing 'the other path'. I remember back then that I decided that I should let my current work take a backseat and go all out to pursue what they call 'lightwork'.

That decision somehow fizzled out because I had to relocate my residence plus I went to Tokyo and all the expenses did not allow me to feel like I can simply stop working and just be a student.

Apart from financial reasons, I thought I may be burnt out due to other reasons: overworking myself, undercharging, taking the wrong mix of work, etc.

I just did not think I can simply say goodbye to a career and passion that my life has revolved around for the past decade.

Design was something that could make or break me.

I was slowly growing in realisation that it may not be simply due to fatigue. I was not working during the ten days I spent in Tokyo and it did not help a single bit. I no longer feel excited about my projects and I have been feeling this way for the past six months to a year? Our emotions are a good indicator of whether we are fulfilling our purposes or if we are on the paths intended for us. My increasing bouts of depression started from gentle reminders to rude alarm bells – I am not doing what I should be doing. Whatever that I am doing now is obviously not making me happy. And I may have exhausted my best effort.

I feel like I am wasting precious time on earth. Getting eaten up slowly everyday.

Maybe my thought process has been too extreme. I did not need to think that one has to go in order for one to come in. I just need to acknowledge the other is growing in strength and I no longer loved the original one as much as I did. If we should spend time on things in order of how much we feel towards them, then it is simply put out to me that I have to spend more time on my 'other path' and let design work take a backseat.

No matter how financially difficult it could be. No matter how difficult it is for me to admit that I no longer want to revolve my life around a passion that I have built my life around.

Remembering how passion feels like

I remember how it all used to be for me. The excitement of opening a design program, drawing pixels and letting everything fall into space intuitively. Now, in order to be the true professional I want to be, every design decision is thought through really hard – will this confuse users? Will something else work better? Am I breaking new ground here? I don't want this website to end up looking like the last one, or like other typical gradient-laden websites. Or the worst case scenario – will this look like crap in IE?

Sometimes I feel, the field of web design takes out the joy of creating. At least for me. It can be upsetting to realise that being good at something doesn't equate to liking that something.

I miss designing for the fun of it. Not for the client, not for the users, not for the money. Just for fun. It had been something difficult to do because I so much wanted to excel at it that the process has been over-rationalised. The beauty of the web is ironically what kills it for me – the transience, the dynamism, the technology.

I miss laying out words and pictures meant for paper. It is altogether a different set of problems for print. Is this legible? Will this look good in black and white? Can I use special inks or varnishes for this? How about different paper or cuts? They are problems that I miss. I miss seeing my work printed, I miss feeling my work in my hands.

Earlier today, or rather, yesterday evening, I caught a whiff of how it feels like to be passionate about something. I have long forgotten how it feels like until just now.

Serendipity

I enrolled in a course shortly after I moved residence in June. Despite feeling tired after the move, despite having tons of work to do, despite many other factors, I somehow signed up for it anyway. It was not something I looked for. Serendipity works in the most amazing ways. Do you know how it came about?

It came about because I was (along with some other volunteers) searching for a missing rescued dog some when in May. To be really honest, I did not even feel like it when the call came in on a lazy Sunday afternoon. I was looking forward to resting during the weekend and searching aimlessly under the hot sun was not my idea of rest. However, the rescued dog was deeply insecure and afraid of humans, it would require every effort to be found again for the sake of its own safety. The thought of it getting knocked down by cars during possible confusion, getting caught by the authorities, or getting cooked for a good meal by foreign workers, overcame any hesitation.

It turned out that the fosterer who was taking care of the dog is a dog trainer. We had a chance to converse when we were waiting to lure the dog out from some forest foliage. She, was one of the very few humans in Singapore, who did not stare at me with *that* look when I mentioned that I have taken a animal communication course before. In fact, her eyes lighted up and was very interested to find out more. Don't you think it is amazing how you somehow 'stumble' into people with similar 'out of this world' interests when you start pursuing them?

With the knowledge that my partner and I were both interested in animals and alternative modalities, she asked if we were interested to form a small group to learn Quantum Touch.

Keeping the faith

I have already went through an Angels Miracles workshop and also an animal communication workshop last year with very limited results on my side because despite my deep beliefs regarding the magic of the Universe, I have a rather rational side to me as well as a mind that doesn't really like to quieten down (a focused mind with good visualization powers is essential for most spiritual work).

Somehow, I just kept the faith. If I feel it in my heart that I want to do it, I may not get it for now but it will eventually come to me.

I thought it would be nice for our animal volunteer work if I could learn some healing modalities (and eventually learn how to talk to them). Our animal communication teacher told us that we may want to consider learning Reiki but which I did do some research into but it just did not fall into place or feel right. When the dog trainer brought up Quantum Touch, I was like, why not? The method or technique does not matter as long as allows the subject to feel better.

Energy works

And just now, I felt it with my own hands – Energy.

It was our first workshop and within a couple of hours, we were trying out on one another. I took it with a pinch of salt since the previous other workshops were not too successful for me. Yet, it was there for me to feel. Light pulses at my fingertips. My partner's backache went away after I tried it on her. I felt the accumulated pain due to sitting for long hours in my back seemingly lighten. I saw bones aligning in the training video, stuff that professional chiropractors deemed impossible.

I just knew it in my heart there and then. This is the work I truly want to do. Not just Quantum Touch, but I want to keep on learning, marry all the modalities and experiences I have accumulated and be able to touch people and animals in my own unique way.

I may not be successful at getting my dog to talk to me right now, but I believe once I get over the stage of taking control over my mind, it will come to me. I have to take care of a fearful, aggressive dog right now, and can you imagine what difference it will make to its life and its people if I am able to rehabilitate it?

Finding my way (repeatedly but consistently)

Just the thought of it makes me happy. And I hope I will be able to do it not only for mine, but for those poor rescued animals who had been traumatized in one way or another.

The added bonus is – my partner is on the same path as me (you have no idea how rare this can be). Apart from the mutual support (imagine a partner that goes, ya...right.), it is that synergy, the common beliefs and shared vision; and in future, the partnership. I feel that she is clairvoyant and clairaudient wheras I am more clairsentient and claircognizant, so we should make a good partnership.

At this point if you're not yet rolling your eyes, thank you. To my business associates and clients, no I am not giving up on my design work, I just need to recalibrate it a bit. I would like to be able to think of work as fun.

I just finished reading "Eat, Pray, Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert (will post a review soon) and she gave me a ray of hope in trying to get my mind to quieten. I never thought my mind would ever shut up, but after reading her experience (her mind sounds like mine), I have renewed hope for mine.

I plan to really cut down on design work (time to be really selective), pack up my new place (it has been 2 months and it still looks horrible because I am just either working or moping and my poor partner is doing it on her own), continue my Soul Realignment course (it has been put on hold because my place is in a mess and I can't be in a state of mind to do such work), try out Quantum Touch on myself and my immediate family (dogs and partner first), and see where it all brings me.

Getting the little aggressive dog in my household to calm down will be a good testimonial and start.

Let me have the strength to continue my journey with not too many detours. I know some are inevitable, so I am just asking for less. That is not too much to ask for, right? :)

I have been self-sabotaging my own decisions for quite a while now and I would like the courage to be able to stick to them.

Resetting my priorities and perspectives due to shame

The past few days, if not weeks, have been hugely reflective for me. It seems like a major conspiracy from the universe to wake me up from my deep slumber. I have been feeling quite disturbed for a long while now, it has been such a while that I do not even remember when did it all start.

The issue on the surface

I have always prided myself for loving what I do and being able to do what I love. This has not been entirely accurate lately and it has been bugging me from my deepest consciousness. It eats me up slowly.

Is it because:

  • I have overworked myself
  • I have taken up web projects because of the freedom it entails me and perhaps being a print designer at heart I am actually trying to condition myself into settling for less because it gives me more
  • The projects themselves are not interesting enough
  • It is not about the work but the issue is me

The deeper, actual issues

The above questions to myself may be the cause of my dissatisfaction partially, but my gut (or my higher self) tells me there is more to it.

I have been neglecting the bigger picture.

The bigger picture has never been the work itself. Would I be satisfied and truly happy if I am doing the best work or the most interesting projects? If I imagine myself as one of the best-recognised designers right now, will that take away all my dissatisfaction? If I had less work now and have the chance to rest, will that make me feel significantly better?

A couple of years ago I have realised that even if I was doing the best work, earning the best keep, I would not really be satisfied, I would not lie on my deathbed and smile, telling myself that I have lived a good life. What is the point of even if I were to be recognised as one of the best? It does nothing except to feed my ego and probably I can tell myself I have been one of the best designers – but what comes after that? This is not meant to be any disrespect to the best designers out there now, honestly, just that different factors make different people happy, and I would not say that being one of the best makes me truly happy. I love my work but it is just not what my life should revolve around.

The picture changes significantly when one is able to contribute to the greater good with the work. I have always been a fan of Stefan Sagmeister, not because of his creative, provocative work, but rather that the messages he carries by just being himself. The work he does encourages people to be themselves, not get sold into the whole materialistic lifestyle and most importantly, to pursue your dream. Or one of those industrial designers who designs something that enables handicapped people to move more freely, for example. Or the copywriter who conceptualises the ad that carries a life-changing message to the mass public.

Yet I asked myself honestly if I thought I would ever touch people in this manner and the answer was no. It is not because I am pouring cold water on myself, but a very honest assessment of my own self. I have been doing consistently good work, but it has never been in that league. I will not say never ever, but the possibility is really remote.

What truly makes me happy on my deathbed

One of my facebook contacts had linked an article that profiled a woman with the highest recorded IQ, and the article questioned if one was obligated to use his/her natural high intelligence to 'change the world'. I remember responding to it on facebook, commenting that not everybody has to be Obamas to contribute positively to the world. I really do believe in all of us having the ability to contribute in our own unique ways, however small or supposedly insignificant it may be. The point of it is to have the intention or desire. One small gesture may change someone else's life. I have had other people's small gestures that significantly changed mine.

I slowly came to the conclusion that I will be happy on my deathbed if I had the chance to contribute to the world in my own ways, and if I had the courage to do what my heart tells me to. I actually came to this conclusion quite a few years ago, but in the middle of all the work and worries about the practicalities of life, I have gotten lost. My work has taken up so much of my time that I no longer had time to do things that I deeply cared about or that I originally set out to accomplish.

Success in the typical sense will not feed the soul, because we will always want more. Creativity declines when the soul is not being fed. I guess this makes up a lot of the reason why I have been feeling like something is withering inside me.

I slowly came to the conclusion that I will be happy on my deathbed if I had the chance to contribute to the world in my own ways, and if I had the courage to do what my heart tells me to. I actually came to this conclusion quite a few years ago, but in the middle of all the work and worries about the practicalities of life, I have gotten lost.

The conspiracy that woke me up

As I mentioned earlier, I have been feeling disturbed but I only started an in-depth interrogation within myself only when I was clearing my Google Reader's feeds and discovered that quite a few  high-profile personalities in the web industry have written about their stress-levels, work-related depression and significant decisions to do something about it. One has called it quits to his freelance career and returned to employment, one has decided to halt his thriving small business, another has gone on to another level by revolutionizing his life.

I asked myself what was I going to do about mine. In order to know what I needed to do, I have to find out the root of the issue first. That started my whole self-analysis. That was not all.

Feeling ashamed

I was extremely ashamed, yes ashamed of my own lack of guts when I saw Susan Boyle's courage to take the stage despite the expected public ridicule of her age and looks, while I would not even go anywhere anything that resembles a stage. I was totally envious and ashamed again when fellow local blogger Adrianna, at the tender age of 24, escaped a suicide bomb blast in Yemen by a twist of fate, not because she was there for work, but she was touring the Middle East by herself because she wanted to. Like seriously? I have reservations touring just South-east Asia by myself and someone else is enjoying her life and death tour to the Middle East?

I can continue to cite many more examples that made me look at myself and shake my head. That I am sitting here, being troubled about my work and not having enough guts or determination to change the situation. That I am moping while someone almost lost his life when he offered himself to the pirates as a hostage in exchange for the release of his crew, women in South Africa are getting raped to 'correct' them of their homosexuality. I feel very ashamed to have allowed mundane issues to depress me, when there is actually much greater pain and suffering out there – not to mention that there are people who are doing actual meaningful work with their lives at risk, some without a penny to their name.

Rectifying the situation

I do not want too much more of my life to tick by and lessen the time to do whatever I need to do to make myself proud at my own deathbed. This has been an on-going merry-go-round for me because I have been aware and yet getting lost repeatedly. I want to share and set my intentions openly with all of you. I may not succeed at first try, but at the very least I want to try.

The list of intentions consists of things I would like to do that I feel will bring back my passion for my work, as well as actions I can initiate in order to aid my quest to lessen my stress levels and increase the quality of my life, plus some perspectives of life in general I should constantly remind myself of in order to be grateful and not wasteful (the rhyming is not intentional ;p). Lastly, I want to consciously increase the opportunities that will allow me to contribute positively in my own ways, within my own capacity, as much as possible.

  • I want to learn hand-lettering. Looking at type, especially hand-drawn type, makes my heart skip a beat. I did not think I would be good at it so I never really tried because I suck at drawing anything by hand, but I do believe that anyone can learn almost anything if they set their heart to it. If I start drawing circles now perhaps by the time I'm 40 I may be remotely good at it. I should stop having the mentality that I am too old to start learning how to draw. (stifles laughter at myself)
  • I should not give up on doing things I truly love because it seems difficult to.
  • I must try to find more me-time and time for non-commercial creative projects to feed myself creatively.
  • I really need to look into how I can gauge myself more accurately and stop overloading myself with work because it is my number one stress factor. I will consciously finish whatever I have to do on hand and re-look into the type of work I should be working on in order to create a better creative and time balance.
  • I will also need to look into diversifying my income streams, especially the passive ones, which I do not even have one yet.
  • I want to explore other avenues of interest apart from design. I have always been interested in spirituality topics - perhaps more workshops?
  • Travel plans are still in place and will take place soon. This is important because I feel called to do so. I have a feeling this will open up the doors to more avenues for contributions.
  • Find ways and time to contribute more to the causes I support. I have been neglecting to give to my causes because I have been so caught up in my own work.
  • Should really start meditating regularly and having proper exercise soon. The health needs to be taken care of in order to have the ability to accomplish more.
  • Constantly remind myself to be grateful and to be aware of the suffering of other beings. That I should focus my energy on meaningful matters than to get myself down over minuscule matters compared to people starving in third world countries and people dying in wars. This is extreme yes, but it is real. There are people and animals who are really suffering out there and I feel upset with myself for feeling like it is the end of the world when I encounter small setbacks.
  • To not let fear affect my life and my desire to be true.
  • Spend more time writing to share my experiences so that some souls may benefit from it.
  • Write more openly and honestly on this blog about myself, my fears and failures, not worry about what the negative reactions to my honesty, and instead focus on those who appreciates me for me.
  • Give my best in trying to do what I want to do, but try not to let myself get attached to the outcomes, and not let my desire for self-improvement become unrealistic self-expectations. It is the journey that counts, not the destination.
  • Understand that while it is nice to be doing great and interesting work, ultimately whatever work I do should enable me to live out my purpose and live my life the way I want. I should never give up on finding the best compromise though – between the quality of life and the quality of work.

I hope I have not bored all of you to tears with my list and it will also be nice if any of you can share some of yours with me. :)