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Saturday, March 04, 2017

Creative Output must equal Material Input

Today, I started on one of my Big Hairy Audacious Goals, which was to clear and organize the journals on my table. This was an important and urgent goal, because

1. They were a disaster waiting to happen. 
The journals were in a precarious pile on the table and every time someone breathed near them, an avalanche occurred.
2. They were not in a convenient location. 
I wanted them arranged in a more accessible way that made sense for me. They were arranged in a huge stack on top of one another, and that certainly made it 'convenient' when the one I wanted happened to be, oh, right at the bottom.
3. They were mixed up with too much other junk. 
There were other stuff mixed up with the journals which I was not using. This included stationery, stickers, random pieces of paper, name cards, other homemade journals... 

All combined, the pile was long overdue for a decluttering a la Marie Kondo. As I started to clear the pile, I uncovered even more bits of paper and trash, resulting in another small scrap heap that I had to clear other than the journals. 😖 Some were easy, like outdated insurance letters dating back from 2008. Some were more difficult, like Christmas cards from close friends. *sigh*

One thing became clear though: My creative output was not equal to the material input that I had accumulated. For all the paper, stickers and junk I had kept, how much of it had actually turned into actual artwork? I had kept a lot of paper, thinking "This would come in handy if I wanted to...*insert craft project here*" but for work or some reason or another, I never got around to doing it and the materials just stayed there. Or I would buy new materials, thinking "I can use this if I... *insert new craft idea here*" but again, the materials stayed there. 

Even the things I used were also existing in surplus. I did more journalling in 2016 so I told myself I would allow myself to use whatever I had bought, without fear of failure. I wrote on my nice notepads, I tore things out of my Flow Book for Paper Lovers, I shrugged away the numerous mistakes I made, resolving to be more careful the next time, I gleefully tore out metres and metres of washi tape. 

And I still had tons of those materials. 😱 The things in my room seem like a neverending black hole of paper, washi tape and stickers. Made even worse by my seemingly bright idea to do a couple of projects with junk paper, which meant that I had also accumulated a small stack of junk paper from work...... 

I think I'm not the only person this has happened to. How many times have we bought something with good intentions, thinking that it will come in handy, or that it will help us to achieve some goal? Hands up all the guilty ones who have books unread (me), paints unused (me), clothes unworn, exercise equipment being used as clothes hangers and other things bought with good intentions in January only to be covered in dust by March. 

For me, the bottom line is clear. I bought these supplies to be creative, so be creative I must. That is,

my CREATIVE OUTPUT must = my MATERIAL INPUT

Everything I have now must be used, used and used even for what seems like the most frivolous of reasons. It doesn't matter even if I don't churn out the Mona Lisa from my supplies, what matters is that I use them to the best of my abilities and use them to improve my creative skills in whatever way possible. That also means that I will make mistakes and end up chucking away some hard-earned material. Take it as a lesson learned rather than a wasted failure. 

The funny thing is that during this month when I was doing that, somehow I started to improve in small ways. My brush lettering improved because I now had oodles of junk paper to practise on. My journalling started to look better when I used my coloured markers to write with and my washi tape and stickers to decorate. I even found some of my markers running out of ink, which was sad yet gratifying at the same time. 

So if there's one thing you have to remember:


This can be found on my Instagram (@khelath) 

We are not put on this earth to buy and accumulate things. We are meant to DO things. So if there's something around you that's accumulating, (like my craft materials) ask yourself why, and just DO something with it to get started. We are not buyers of life, we are DOERS. 

Monday, February 27, 2017

Personal Thoughts

I realize it’s been a while since I last blogged and maybe some of you are thinking of calling the blog police to make a Missing Bloggers Report (Ha, I only hope!) so I thought of doing a Personal Thoughts entry as an update.

It’s the end of February 2017 and I’ve been on leave the past 2 weeks at home, waiting for the birth of my first baby! After all the walking around at work, it was a relief to finally stay at home and relax before baby comes out and creates a new round of havoc.

I enjoyed the first 3 days of leave just slacking around, doing some art journaling, reading, watching TV… and then I got bored.

You see, it is relaxing having no obligations or deadlines to meet, but after a while, life becomes very aimless. I felt like I was just floating around without a purpose, other than waiting around for baby to be born. I also felt like this was a waste of my precious leave.

So I took out the To-Do lists again and started giving myself some aims. I didn’t want to make my whole life full of deadlines again but I could commit to doing some ‘work’ in the morning and then keep myself busy in the afternoon with art or photography projects. In that way, I could also write enough articles to keep the blog alive even after baby came out.

Now I realize I made myself into something like a freelance writer. -_-!! I can’t complain that it’s a bad life, seeing that I wake up at any time I feel like and I’m actively doing something I’m good at, but most of all, I appreciate the sense of purpose it gives me. That now, instead of my identity revolving solely around being a mummy, I also have other things in life to work and develop towards. Treat it as a kind of school holiday, I guess.

And what happens when baby comes? Well, then I switch to taking care of him then. Just like during the school holidays, I also have to understand that this period of freelance writing is temporary. I’m not in it to make money or build a career (though it would be a bonus if I did!) but rather to create a sense of purpose and identity. To help me see myself as a more rounded person, more than just being a teacher or a mother.


Whether this continues or not still remains to be seen. But after all, this blog has seen a few years’ hiatus and has weathered it through to be better in the end. I may take it up again after I have kids or I may end up neglecting it until the kids get married and I have Empty Nest Syndrome -_-!! More importantly, for now, I feel I’m working towards something and even if I leave it aside, I have something else waiting for me to take up again later in life.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Happy Birthday to Me...

Today is my birthday. I woke up early to have breakfast with 2 good friends, splurged on books and magazines at the bookstore and had a hotdog and fries for lunch. I went home full and contented and stuck myself in my study to journal, draw and now, blog. :) 

Years ago, when I was much, much younger, I wanted a big party. The kind where I could invite all my classmates with fancy invitations. We would play party games on the day itself, (where presumably I would be allowed to win all of them), eat a ginormous birthday cake and I would open lots of great presents. 

Well, my folks were broke though, so that never happened for me. I did get the cake and some presents though.

When I was older, I outgrew the idea of party games, birthday cakes and eventually, presents. I didn't need the whole shebang, but I did like the idea of having all my friends with me. We would eat dinner at a special place, you know, not the kind we usually ate at, but somewhere nicer and fancier than usual, and it would still be a special kind of day. I still look on the memories of those days fondly on photos and Facebook. 

Now at this grand old age of 36, I find I'm not even interested in that. I just wanted to have a slow, comfortable day consisting of the big loves in my life: books, fries, friends and family. So I arranged to have a breakfast date with friends, I decided I would have fries for lunch (oh, what a decadent treat at our age!) and I would splurge on books. After that, I would stay home, eat chips and watch TV. 

It's a very simple plan and I'm fine with that. In fact, with work and all its obligations being what it is, having the time in the whole day to be able to do all that without any shred of guilt feels like a decadent, luxurious treat. More so than any fancy restaurant or present I ever received.

Because now, I'm learning that happiness is not just about the big grand parties in life. A stronger, more lasting form of happiness can also be found in the smaller pieces of our everyday lives and in everywhere that we are. I am grateful that I have found some of those small pieces of happiness and they are enough for me for now. :) Happy birthday to me, and here's to more chips and fries.