Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Social Charity: How You Can Do More

As a society, I feel like we don't talk much about giving back or helping those in need. It's not a "sensitive" subject, it just tends to be overlooked. There seems to be a subconscious thought that in order to help people, it'd help if you were a mega-star philanthropist or if your life resembles that of Jane Goodall's or Mother Theresa's.

But we don't always have to go to the extremes to look for ways in helping others. When there's a hurricane and you look into the town, you'll see many people needing help. But actually, if you look around, or look in other parts of the world, there are always just as many people that need your help.

Causes range from disaster relief, wildlife conservation, helping third-world countries, cancer research, and many more. Below is a list of ways that you can start taking meaningful action, and doing more.

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1. Do more than just give.
Anyone can swipe a credit card or deliver a cash-filled envelope to a certain address and be done with it. You send off the money, pat yourself on the back for being such a generous modern-day philanthropist in the midst of your work, and get on with your life.

Giving is good. And people need to do more of it in order to establish a better world. I'm not going to start pointing fingers and accusing people of "not doing enough", but if your efforts of social charity only involve giving, maybe it wouldn't hurt to try doing more. Sure, a village could use those tokens from their anonymous sponsors, but sometimes, what NGOs and communities really need is a person that gives a helping hand. Your time and energy can be just as needed as your money and secondhand clothes.

YOU CAN START BY trying something easy, like passing out food, or giving them a smile. Beyond that, you can try engaging with them. Sit among them, start conversations, and get to know the people you're trying to help. These are the conversations that will most likely make a lasting effect on your experience. You can never truly know what someone needs until you sit down and talk with them.

Most of the time, the thing that these people need more than money or things, is change.

2. Care for your cause. 
People would already do a ton of research before donating a significant amount of money to a certain organization. But donations are not, expanding your knowledge on the cause will truly be helpful for your efforts.

Who do they partner with? How much have they accomplished and how much more are they doing now? What kind of impact has been made, and what kind of impact hasn't been?

Finding out everything you can will help you know more about the environment you're stepping into (if you're planning on going out onto the field), or it might just motivate you to let others know about what you're working towards, and invite them into action as well.

3. Get involved
After finding a cause that you're passionate for, don't be afraid to reach out to the groups working within it. Don't just wait to hear a pitch in a shopping mall; go out and look for it on your own! And when you join them, you have to be brave enough to connect to people. Part of being involved means putting yourself out there and doing as much as you can. Don't be afraid to ask them how you can lend a hand, because there's usually always going to be a need in something. 

4. Stay updated with the places you'd visited.
Anyone can make donations or send care packages, but the challenge is to really have a heart for the people in need. One of the ways is by keeping the contact details of the foundation, group, or location you'd visited, and taking note of them so you can stay updated on how they're doing, and whether or not you can offer any more help in the future. If you've been to several spots, make a list. You can directly contact them in your free time, or just keep tabs on their webpage if they have any. It reminds them (and yourself) of how devoted you are to the cause, and how you're keen on assisting them in nurturing their growth.

5. Join social charity events.
Most cities today would already have at least one charity foundation up and running, and there are probably already hundreds of organizations in your country alone. This calls for charity events! Some are pretty straight-forward (like donating blood, going on mission trips, visiting a children's hospital) but some others wrap it in a more entertaining event; like charity runs, fundraising fairs, etc. Keep your eyes open for any that might come near you and take part! You can be a volunteer, or just be there for the occasion to help raise the money. It's the simplest and most efficient way you can help.

(If you live in Surabaya like I do, I'd suggest referring to @exploresurabaya on Instagram, or this website for knowing about any upcoming events in our city!)

6. Plan your own!
If you happen to have your own organization/foundation you're trying to attract more attention to, or a cause where you can help raise awareness, plan your own event! Probably, you will need to already have/be involved in an organization with plenty of experience already, or have reliable partners for the cause/project.

Needless to say, the tools you use for planning said event will be equally as important. Planning an event is a lot of fun, but no easy feat. Eventbrite is a well-known event planning site, and their nonprofit fundraising tools are perfect to use for planning nonprofit events or fundraisers in any form! You can head over to their website where it's not only easy to navigate, but also very clear and informative.

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For personal purposes, I'd also written about one of my own experiences. I did three different small activities in three different places, all within the month of August 2017, but sharing about all three just didn't feel right. However, I wrote about one of those days in a separate page you can only access here. I didn't want to make a blog post and publish it felt a little too oversharing. Visit if you wish to read my short narrative on my experience, and see some photos. I might write about my other experiences someday, but for now, that'll have to do.

As always, I'll write again soon.








Thursday, August 31, 2017

Things I Need to Tell Myself (2)


August 11th 2017. 

It was a rainy afternoon in Bandung, and strangely enough, I'd found myself in a peculiar small cafe in the Dago area. Art installations, wooden furniture, and a pleasantly quiet atmosphere made me feel very much at home in this little place I randomly decided to visit. 

Alone, I had a table to myself, overlooking a view of mountains, trees, and hillsides from a distance. I'd ordered a warm, sweet drink, and my first thought was, I should've brought my book with me today. Making the most out of the situation, I simply sat still. I admired the sight of nature displayed in front of me, my fingers embraced the warmth of the cup I had in my hands, I felt the gentle mountain breeze sweep through the room, and then I paused.

A lot can happen in a pause. In this case, I paused and I began to reflect. What a whimsical year it's been (so far), and boy, what magnificent hopes and dreams I had for the next several months. Like any writer would, I decided to take note of them; all the thoughts, contemplations, and life lessons that started surfacing in my mind and came to me like that mountain breeze. The list below, unedited, is what I wrote down, in that rainy afternoon.

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1. The world doesn't stop for anybody. Time doesn't pause just because you need it to. 
So embrace this life of yours that doesn't stop moving. 
Because it's all you have, and it's all you can do.

2. Hot chocolate is good for the soul, and any health 
magazine that tells you otherwise is not worth your time.

3. Find a person who sees all of you and still wants that
You can't spend the rest of your life only being a part of who you are.

4. The rain is nature cleansing itself. 
We (and our activities and cities and "plans for the day") are just standing in the way.

5. Love is simple, life is complicated. 
That's why it becomes challenging for the two to simply co-exist.

6. You do not have to look, or talk, or live, or be, like everybody else.

7. Master the art of being alone without being lonely.

8. Different experiences come from different places and different people. 
In a pursuit of an interesting life, there is no use only sticking to what you know.

9. Write in a journal but make is as messy as your life feels like. 
Pretty is boring, make it annoyingly unreadable.

10. In this world, there will always be art that you cannot comprehend, 
the same way that there will always be people that you cannot understand.

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I'll write again soon.













Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Life Lately | Why I Haven't Been Writing


You can find many bloggers who come back from a weeks-long hiatus, and start off with a post explaining why they've been gone for so long. The reasons vary, but they usually fall along the lines of "feeling uninspired", "swept up in work", or "we just moved into our new apartment and everything has been so crazy!"

I, on the other hand, have no excuse.

August has been amazing. Recently, I'd just spent a week traveling out of town, in which there were many exciting and enriching experiences. Our country just celebrated our 72nd Independence Day, and I spent the whole day in the fun of celebrating. In a month, I've been catching up with distant cousins, high school friends, and also meeting new people. Many, many things happened in the past few weeks. It's been one of the best months I've had.

So honestly, I have tons of blogging material!

Yet I haven't brought myself to write a single word.

I tried writing poetry; it usually only works when I'm feeling something very deeply. Nothing came out. I tried piecing together words to create a poem, an ode to my country. Re-reading it was like tasting bread that'd gone bad. 

I should write about my travels! But as I landed in my hometown and took a few days of much-needed rest, I came out feeling immensely empty. It was like standing with a fully-functioning microphone in your hands, speakers on standby ready to blast your voice into the air, yet no words escape your lips.

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Writing is my therapy, and blogging is something that my soul simply aligns with. I love it with a passion, and have truly missed it after all this time; especially with all these unwritten stories circling my head. 

But more often than not, I find it a little... daunting.

In a previous post, I'd mentioned it as a "strange paradox"; identifying as an introvert but still sharing all my thoughts and honest feelings on the Internet. The thing about introverts? Whatever comes out of us, it's probably only our 20%. The other 80%, we keep stashed away in different pockets of our personality, shielded safely from the rest of the world.

Many have read my blog. Hundreds know where to find it, and an undescribable amount of people have access to it (hence, the Internet.) The last thing I want to do is to turn it into something I've never wanted it to become; a chamber of lies.

When I've written about hopes and dreams, yet still become terrified of the future, or when I've written about "confidence", yet I struggle day by day with trying to even like myself, I feel like failing already. It's no secret that I always care a bit too much about what others think of me, but building a facade around my insecurities is not how I want to be known. 

Another thing I also never want, is for my blog to make me vain. I am not the most important being in this world, and as much as I enjoy writing about self-discovery, I've found that there are other things yet to be discovered as well. Other experiences to invest in, other people to learn from, other things to bring you joy. I think taking a few weeks off of blogging have opened my eyes to at least that.

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As much as I want to keep writing in the hopes of inspiring people and sharing what I have, vulnerability is one of my biggest fears.

However, now, it's so strange to think that anyone can just click on a link and have access to all my deepest thoughts. Do I overshare on this website? Have I spoken too much? Should I stop writing about real emotions at all, and just focus on the more weightless stuff, like beauty and fashion and travel and books? 

In real life, I can do several things, but opening up to people is nearly an impossible task. Does that mean they can just find my blog and read all they want and the next day, they'll have me all figured out?

I remind myself repeatedly, it's just your 20%

But the timid little introvert living inside of me keeps reminding me as well;

that's still way too much.

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Perhaps this is me saying that I'm "back". Whatever that means. Or maybe it's me saying "I'll write when I'm ready". I still don't know; I guess time will tell.

In making this post, I've realized that after all this time, maybe it's not that I have nothing to say; it's that I have too much to say, that I end up not saying anything at all. The thought of putting myself out there again has become too frightening, that it's made me slowly inch back into my shell.

Maybe I'll "wait" for that inspiration and new courage to come, or maybe I'll just have to force it out of myself, even if it means writing like a toddler on training wheels, with repetitive words and tacky metaphors. But I have to start somewhere, and I know I'll start someday.

On the bright side, my life has not decreased. I know this post might have sounded a little melancholic, but I am the happiest I've been in a while. I'm very pleased with how this month is turning out so far. I am pushing forward in a better direction, even without talking about it all on my blog. In other words, I guess I've been too busy living.

And for that, I'm not even sorry.

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Thus marks the end of my rambling today. I can only hope that this 
makes sense to whoever reads it. Thank you for sticking by.
I'll see you around.




Friday, August 4, 2017

Reasons to Declutter Your Instagram Following

Everyone's decluttering something.

In articles and videos that discuss Productivity, Better Living, and Improved Mental Health, many bloggers and YouTubers mention "decluttering". The ~modern era~ has given us a whole world of clutter, and we've filled our lives (and homes) with it. But as many suggest decluttering your wardrobe, bedrooms, and apartments (which I'm all for), today we discuss decluttering something that we may come into most contact with; our social media.

"Social media decluttering" is a term I use that means narrowing down your social media scope to things that are only very important to you. A while ago, I deleted my Snapchat app, simply because it wasn't significantly useful. Even though I'll have to reinstall it in the near future (because it's the best app to use for staying in touch with my friends), the truth is all the app gives me is major FOMO. Instagram, however, is the one I use most; I enjoy seeing curated feeds, aesthetically pleasing photographs, fascinating captions, just consuming what others have created.

But in the same way one would watch what they eat for the sake of their health, I think that one must also watch what kind of media they consume for the sake of their sanity.

Uninspiring celebrities
// This sounds harsh, but let me clarify: If I had one (like, one) good reason to follow Kim Kardashian, I probably would've done it a long time ago. There's a reason I don't follow up on Kylie Jenner's "beauty empire" or Justin Bieber's shirtless studio sessions; I just don't see it as relevant content. A lot of people seem to have a love-hate relationship with the Kardashians, yet millions have chosen to keep up with them religiously on social media.

Using social media for entertainment is great, and I won't advocate unfollowing everyone from the family of Ks and start following NGOs and ~charity foundations~ instead, but think about it: How many people are worth of our follow just because of their looks? In the big names that you're following, are their activities that interesting/significant for your lives? If you "don't know why you're still following them", that's a good enough reason to stop doing so.

People you have no close relations to/people you barely see or talk to anymore 
// Of course, we always have a good enough reason to want to stay in touch, and that's a great thing that social media has given us the ability to do! However, it can be totally unnecessary if you're simply following everyone you come into contact with and then still continue to follow them for years after. It's a good idea to not choose to follow them if, 1) You've never seen/spoken to them again, real life or online, 2) You've never been properly introduced, 3) You only know them by a first-name basis and have never had any engaging conversations together, and/or 4) You share very few to no mutual friends. There's simply no need to keep up with the lives of people you barely know.

Fan accounts 
// Because I've used Instagram since the age of 13, it's taken me through countless phases of "fandoms". In the Tumblr era, I was that typical teenage girl who adored Selena Gomez, and then Taylor Swift, and then other artists, then TV shows, movies, and I'd look up all the fan accounts and join all the fandoms, double tap on the fan art, laugh at all their memes, and so on. Looking on those now, I'm getting too old for it. It's fun to enjoy "fan content" every once in a while, but lately I've been tracking down and unfollowing them one by one. Most are inactive, so they won't really disturb my timeline, but it did add a number to my followings list that I simply don't need.

Pages featuring hobbies/interests you're no longer into 
// There can only be so many watercolor-calligraphy accounts to follow, right? For many of us, our "interests" vary throughout our lives. In senior year of high school, you were interested in A, and before college you tried getting into B, and during college you discovered C and then enjoyed it. However, this results in many fields/interests that get left behind and would no longer appeal to us. Some things stick with us for longer, but you shouldn't feel bad just because you fill your days with different things now.

When I had a thing for calligraphy, I followed all the hand-lettering accounts I could find. Now, even though I still like it and play around with it from time to time, I obviously don't need a daily dose of content from 30 different accounts posting in that same category. Another example: Because I stopped pursuing fashion, I pushed myself to unfollow countless high-fashion brands, magazines, and designers. I just didn't have any business keeping up with most of them anymore, so aimed on finding some really good and consistent ones and stick to only a few of those. Keep your timeline updated, interesting, and relevant for your own life right now.

Pages that are toxic for your self-esteem 
// Before proceeding, I'll start by saying that if your self-esteem is threatened by use of social media, there are two things you need to learn to do: 1) Self-evaluating, working through your insecurities, and trying to acknowledge your self worth and gain that confidence (improving your self-esteem from within) and 2) Getting rid of the parts on social media that don't help you in the process.

These parts refer to content that doesn't inspire you. A while ago, I'd decided to unfollow Victoria's Secret because a) I don't even wear their brand, b) I'm finding the "supermodel" buzz to be increasingly cliche, and c) I know their Photoshop work can be a bit much. Subconsciously, we go through Instagram day by day while frequently thinking to ourselves, "I wish I had that life" or "I wish I looked like that instead." When we filter/replace our content, we give more space for our minds to start thinking differently.

So you don't have to eradicate all the enchanting parts of Instagram coming from many people with their ~glamorous lives~, but instead, try filtering them out and really understanding how their content makes you feel about yourself. Replace it with content that you'll find more relatable. Instead of following too many high-end-life luxury fashion bloggers, I narrow my search to smaller bloggers who lead more normal lives, or bloggers with whom I share mutual thoughts or interests. We should do our best to not give social media that much power over how we view ourselves and our own lives.

Do feel free to follow me, though *wink* | @joanneamarisa
How to spot other accounts: If you think that your list is still too long, even after filtering out the ones I mentioned above, what I tried doing was going to my followings list and searching for them manually. Because of the new algorithm, sometimes they'll show you the most active and relevant accounts first on the list, so what I do instead is I click on the Following's search bar >> Type in any letter, or any pair of letters >> Start screening the list from there, and repeat on other letters when you're done!

I mean if you come across some accounts everyday that don't do anything for you, then why still keep them on your following list? Don't we at least owe it to ourselves to be more discreet and mindful in filtering the content we allow to make its way into our Instagram-leisure-time?

So far, I've made a vow to keep my Instagram following below 1,000 people (because who needs to keep up with a thousand different people?), and after decluttering that list recently, I've cut it down to about 960. I still have a lot more to cross off that very long list.


Has this article helped you? How do you prefer to use Instagram?
Leave a comment below, I'd love to hear your thoughts!

See you around.



Monday, July 24, 2017

The Art of Finding Confidence

confidence (n.)
a feeling of self-assurance arising from one's appreciation of one's own abilities or qualities.

When I was younger, I had a habit of walking with my head down. My eyes were always busy scanning the floor and the shuffling of my feet. When I grew taller as a child, I felt lanky and odd, always seemingly out of place. I never stood or sat up straight. In middle school, I'd brush my hair and wear it down the entire day. I wouldn't tie it back, nor clip it to the side. I kept bangs for a long time. "It shows less of my face," I'd say. 

I couldn't think of a time from my childhood where I ever felt beautiful.

When I entered high school, my perception of self worth slightly shifted. It's no longer only what is seen, but also what is countable. The strange, awkward transition from being un-confident, to trying to feel slightly decent about myself. Embarking on a path of figuring out who I was, and whether or not I liked it. So I relied more on things that hold certainty; numbers. Numbers on a scale, grades on a report card, likes and comments on a photograph. My self worth was defined in digits.

Maybe people who read this would laugh and think, What's she talking about? Of course she's confident, she's got a whole blog. Or something like There are pictures of her on her Instagram, if she really was so self-conscious she wouldn't share them in the first place. It's a strange paradox; being an introvert who writes her thoughts and shares it on the bloody Internet. Bloggers are typically stigmatized as being sociable, outgoing, carefree, and quite full of themselves.

But if there's one thing that I've struggled with my whole life, it's that; finding confidence.

My closest relatives will tell you how they always sigh in annoyance whenever I frown at a dress I'm trying on because I didn't think I looked good in it, even when they saw nothing wrong with it. They can tell you how I always utter my insecurities under my breath whenever we're shopping. My friends will tell you how indecisive I can get about the simplest choices. My mom will tell you how bad I can be at socializing and opening up to people.

Even though I (thankfully) came out of high school with eight times the confidence I had when I first walked into it, such "transformations" can only go so far.

Having a blog doesn't break down the mental shield I keep around myself, wrapping me like a shell. It doesn't silence my inner critic, doesn't instantly push all my deepest insecurities away. If anything, the pressures in my life as I grow up seem to enhance them.

I'm starting to think that perhaps I never have come out of that shell. A shell that has always made me self-conscious, uncertain, insecure, but also a shell I've always kept around me just to feel safe. I can write a hundred posts and I would still never crack it open.

But I know that we shouldn't spend the rest of our lives feeling inadequate. We shouldn't take on every opportunity, action or decision in life based on the thought that we're not good enough. I don't know if these words resonate with any of you, but if it does, I hope you can imagine a life without that imaginary shell. A life where you make peace with whatever you are, or however you look. A life where you break free.

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Learn to accept compliments. Over the course of my life, I've mastered the skill of deflecting compliments. Dodged them like bullets. I never knew how to react to them properly, because I could never wrap my head around them. Every nice thing anyone says, my mind would just warp it into: "They're just being nice" or "They probably just have low standards". It took a while for me to start saying "Thank you" instead of a "No I'm not!" To this day, I still have a habit of saying the latter.

Find people who make you feel good about yourself. Friendships aren't meant to drain you. It's a red flag when a group of people makes you feel like shrinking when you're around them. This doesn't mean you should find friends who shower you with compliments. Rather, find people who understand your feelings. Uplifting friendships; people who respect you, appreciate you, and are honest with you.

Learn how to become selfless. More often than not, insecurities stem from our fixations on ourselves. We overthink about our imperfections, we don't feel good enough, etc etc, all leading to a fractured self-esteem.

Try doing things for others. Fill your life with spending time with or helping people. Find passions, activities, things you can act upon. Have a heart for other people. Slowly, your life will revolve more around what you're doing, what you're investing in, and less around how you're feeling. And once you distance your mind from thinking about yourself so much, your insecurities will no longer feel so significant.

Don't be so hard on yourself. Being a perfectionist, my inner critic finds flaws everyday. I spend most of my days thinking that what I am is something that needs to be "fixed". But regardless of your imperfections, inside and outside, regardless of what you've done or could never do, you have to be brave and declare that you are enough.

In the words of Taylor Swift, "You are not your mistakes. You are not damaged goods or money from your failed explorations. You are a product of the lessons you've learned, and you are a person who survived a bunch of rainstorms and kept walking."

Sweater: H&M // Glasses: Karamata
It's not something you "find". Lastly, my verdict is that confidence is a tricky thing to find. It's something that you can grasp, but then one split second of comparing yourself to others will simply make it slip through your fingers. Knowing that, I realized that confidence isn't something you "find". Not in good looks, followers, or academic achievements. It's not "found". It's practiced.

Sometimes, it takes a little bit of faking it. You force yourself to put on that mask of being confident, and go out into the world and if you're lucky, that confidence seeps right into you. Other times, it's something you develop over time. Something that takes practice, trial and error, adjustments to settle into. Changing a whole mindset, whole habits where you constantly degrade yourself, is not an easy task. But regardless of what your mind tells you, regardless of who you are, regardless of who you've been, I urge you, friends, to at least

try.


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Many people have been sharing their "stories" or "tips" on how to become confident and whatnot, but I guessed that maybe people needed to hear it from someone other than a famous blogger with this glamorous amazing life, perfect bedroom, all smiles in front of a camera, telling you how she "achieved confidence".
Maybe some needed to hear it from something like this. Someone struggling, just the same.
So whether or not that be the case, I truly hope this helped you on your path.

See you around.







Thursday, July 20, 2017

BOOKS | Currently Reading

I've always loved to read, for as long as I can remember. But with enough tasks and distractions, it's astounding how I can completely neglect my books for months on end. However, upon taking a week off of social media, I started to re-connect with this bookworm inside of me. 

Since then, I've been catching up with several books kept on my bedside table, and started to continue my "book flow" (reading, finishing, buying more books, and repeat.) Re-incorporating reading into my daily activities is one of my best decisions. I'd forgotten how much I missed being lost in the pages of a good story. Listed below are the books that I'm currently in the middle of and still reading through to this day.

Indonesia, Etc. by Elizabeth Pisani
This is one of those books that's very complex to explain. Every time someone asks me what it's about, I end up talking a whole mouthful. That's because Indonesia, Etc. features Elizabeth Pisani's many, various, eventful experiences surrounding Indonesia. When she was working together with Indonesia's Minister of Health on issues surrounding HIV/AIDS more than a decade ago, she visited the country frequently, mostly spending her time lobbying or finishing up jobs in Jakarta (including being exposed to the prostitutes, drug users, and transgenders living in the capital city's slums.) For this book, she'd flown back to Indonesia; this time with her journalistic skills, determined to travel to its islands and experience every part of the country, immersing herself in the different cultures and norms found all across Indonesia. Seeing Indonesia through her eyes and through her writing is both relatable and revelating, so much so that it got me scribbling on some of its pages.

As an Indonesian, I have so much love for this book. It's so fascinating that through reading about her travels, I could learn so much more about the parts of this country that I'd never even heard of before.  When she talks about the social situation, or the little quirks Indonesia has, I would laugh and think "how true!" I also love how she entertains the readers by providing well-written summaries of Indonesia's history, government, and chaotic bureaucracy. Now, I'm still in the middle of the book because it becomes hard to keep up with some of the challenging vocabulary, and her chapters surrounding heavy politics, finances, or import-export policies. But through this book, I'm re-learning about my own country in a very interesting, unconventional way.

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Just For Teenagers
Believe it or not, this book was actually given to me by one of my favorite teachers on my 17th birthday. That's more than a year ago. It's been sitting in my room, untouched, for more than 365 days. How the hell have I been spending my life?

But when I finally picked it up and started, I read through probably 20 stories before stopping. The  diction and tone of the writing are very simple (probably because it's meant for teenagers), but I quite enjoy the short stories packed into this book, and it makes it easy and weightless to read. The stories are parted into different segments (like "love and relationships", "reaching your goals", or "liking yourself".) They're all written by different contributors, and each one gives a different lesson to learn. 

I think that's the important part of the book; that's also why I keep reading it despite its lack of details or climax. It simply inspires me. It's not the most ~*fascinating*~ book I've ever read but some of these stories managed to make me smile. Now, it's usually the book I read every morning during breakfast, and if not, I basically just read at least one story a day. It doesn't "change my life" but little by little, it helps me re-evaluate.

Beauty and the Beast: Belle's Library by Brittany Rubiano
As an avid fan of Beauty and the Beast and a loyal, inspired follower of Belle, purchasing this book was a biased move. But it's one I do not regret. I didn't know what to expect when I bought it, but the hard cover was not only pretty, but- alluring. It intrigued me so much that I ended up buying it, rather spontaneously.

It turns out that the book is this very adorably-illustrated curation of quotes and thoughts, all strewn together as if you're flipping through an actual literary journal that belongs to Belle herself. I loved the concept, even though I still haven't really delved into it yet. The words are presented in these very whimsical, pretty, animated layouts; giving you that storybook essence you can expect to find in any Disney children's book. Looking through it felt very lighthearted and entertaining, but still, I want to get the most out of this book. I've thought about doing so by looking up all the stories/books that are referred to (at the very start of this book.) I've always wanted to learn more about literary pieces from all over history anyway, so this book gave me a good start. So once I finish my two other books and get into this one, I'm determined to broaden my literary horizons by looking up the origins of these quotes one by one. Who knows? I might just become a Shakespeare know-it-all by the end of the book. I guess we'll see.


What are some books you've been reading lately? Are there any you'd recommend?
Leave your comments below, I'd love to hear what you have to say!

I'll write again soon.












Saturday, July 15, 2017

BALI | Motel Mexicola

We visited many places on our 7-day trip in Bali, but I gotta say, this place was one of the most vibrant and unique spots we got to experience.

Demographically speaking, Indonesia is a country with very little to no Mexican influence in its people. Unlike Americans who thrive on Taco Bell and embrace their many Mexican joints found at every corner, our country's overtaken by cultures and cuisines from our Asian counterparts instead. So when I saw that there was a restaurant in Bali called "Motel Mexicola", I knew it was totally worth a look. (Apparently not an actual motel, though.)



Walking in, I was impressed with the elaborate mix of patterns, portraits, and Mexican art decorating the colorful walls. You see crosses and flowers and grubby mirrors and framed quotes and paintings of people I assumed were famous (politicians, artists, musical icons in their day.) Unlike most of the hangout spots in Bali, I'd say the owners did not put a lot of thought into their interior designing. Nevertheless, it worked.

After a lousy security bag check, we entered and found ourselves in the face of this huge, cavernous centerpiece. We opted for a table upstairs, as the ground floor was filled with tourists chattering away at the bar.



The food in itself wasn't bad at all. Among a choice of tacos, tortillas, fritangas, and many other foods we mostly never even heard of, my friends ordered a couple glasses of mocktails, while on the table we had a plate of quesadillas and churros. It tasted great, but then again, I don't have many other experiences with Mexican cuisine to compare it to. Although I will admit those were the best churros of my entire life. They also served some Indonesian dishes or flavours, served with a Mexican twist, so I'll give them credit for that. The mocktails were fitting as well, perfect to freshen us up in a hot sunny Bali day.

As decorative and vibrant as the place felt, it looked a bit half-abandoned in the hours we'd visited (a few hours after noon.) I then learned that it was quite too early; Motel Mexicola is a "cool spot" in daylight, but it actually comes to life at nighttime, with their bar parties, more lights, music, and dancing. In retrospect, I would've totally bought an extra night in Bali just to be in that scene.

There were only a couple of things I did not enjoy about the place, though. 1) The very confusing layout where you enter and it's relatively dark, and you come upstairs (or walk a few steps down onto the outdoor area) and then it's so bright it's blinding. It was just confusing for me, but then again, I suppose it was a place meant for nighttime entertainment as opposed to afternoons. 2) The service was not enjoyable. It wasn't hard to sense how much they favored white tourists as opposed to- well, every other customer. They were fine with their jobs, but just not the friendliest staff (they even mocked our group for taking "too much photos"). Even if my friends did spend quite some time taking photos, it's still very low and unprofessional to call your customers out like that. So we did leave feeling slightly irritated by their attitude. But hey, if you're a foreign tourist, they're probably gonna pull a good face.

Is this how you pose? I have no idea.

So! (Why did this post become a little shady hahaha) That's all the impressions and commentaries I can give. More or less, it's a cool experience. For a look at the menu or basically any other info, they actually have an awesome website here. I'd simply recommend you to come in the evening or night time instead, if you ever find yourself in Bali's Seminyak region and are looking for a trendy spot to enjoy yourself in!

I'll write again soon.

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Long overdue? Perhaps.
But I'm still determined to share onto this blog every tiny bit of memory I have from Bali. 
Our trip was at the start of June, but there are still many I have yet to write about. So bear with me. 
In the mean time, catch up with me through these links below. Have a great weekend!

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Monday, July 10, 2017

I Quit Social Media For a Week


I finally did it.

Over the last few months, I started to notice how dependent I'd become towards social media. How it was the first thing I'd reach for in the morning, and the last thing I'd fiddle with at night. How I'd enjoy breakfast while scrolling through Tumblr, or spend hours on my bed, aimlessly going through Instagram. There's a lot of talk about how we're "getting addicted to social media", to which I'd usually answer, well yeah, but we can't just live without it.

Or can we?

The thought came like an epiphany. I began to think back and wonder what (or who) in this world ever suggested to me, and everyone out there, that we desperately need social media. Do we really? Is it really that crucial for us to have a social media presence, or to constantly be in touch with it day by day?

I decided to challenge the idea. I admitted that even though I don't obsessively spend every waking minute on social media, my relationship with it was borderline addiction. So finally, I made a commitment to go off all my social media sites for a whole week.

Why the sudden change?
  • Social media has the terrifying power to permanently reduce the brain's ability to focus on one thing for a long period of time. To make it simple: It shortens your attention span. I learned about this through this Ted talk by Dr. Cal Newport; one of the key reasons as to why I finally decided to quit. It made sense, because none of us spends 5 whole minutes looking at an Instagram photo. Our habit is to scroll at a quick pace. Stories give us a chance to look at three-second photos, but even then we still tend to tap through just to get to the next photo quicker. These apps are designed to be addictive and fast, and that's why we can't just let it go. Once I knew it was damaging, I fully wanted to sign off.
  • We live in a world where people are drawn to gadgets more than they're drawn to other people. How phones have intervened into real life situations among us, began to scare me. Cafe meet-ups turn to Instagram-worthy photo sessions. Hanging out with friends only involve a group of people enjoying each other's phones; together. Birthday surprises with one person holding the cake, one blowing out candles, and the rest of the group recording it on their phones is just not authentic. Is it really that necessary to record everything that's happening around us? If we don't post it online, does that mean it never really happened? I wanted to start living, not for the sake of likes or comments, but for the sake of being there.
  • If there's one system that contains every person's highlight reel, every peak of their lives, every good and special moments only, it's social media. It's not a secret that what we see isn't always real. Everyone will seem like they have better lives if you look at them through the eyes of Instagram. Comparison is toxic, and social media is one of the tools that make it much worse. At the end of the day, it's not healthy to think "I wish I looked like her" or "I wish my life was as good as theirs" every day for the rest of your life. 

When I mention to people that I'm quitting social media, they look at me like I just saved a child from a burning building. As I was announcing to everyone that I'll be off of social media for a week (so they can reach me through my phone number instead), multiple people were quite surprised. They messaged me and asked me for the reasons behind this "big decision".

Part of me found it hilarious (I mean, gosh, I'm just deleting my apps for 7 days, not getting married), but a part of me also found the reaction quite reasonable. It clearly defies the We Can't Live Without Social Media implication. By "detoxifying" myself from social media, I've committed to detaching myself from the endless, constant stream of information and communication that ties our society together. 

Well, hey, someone has to try, right?

For someone like me, who would post and share quite frequently, this social media detox was actually very much needed. Going into this, I thought that I'd totally regret it. Can I really do this? What's gonna happen while I'm away? What if I miss out on things? What was I supposed to do with myself?? Live??

And live I did.

The most common question I got asked was, "So how will you spend all that time?"

After deleting all my apps (Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Tumblr, Line, and Pinterest) on Sunday night, it felt bizarre to wake up on Monday morning and find my phone- well, empty. Because of this blog, I'd spent a lot of time on those many sites networking, and building ways to share links and self-promote. I'd always try to maintain a good presence throughout all of these sites solely for that reason. Now, with all of them gone, I felt like I needed to find another purpose; another way to fill the void of my days. Something that didn't require scrolling, tweeting, posting, commenting, or double tapping anything. 

Not gonna lie, I felt like a BuzzFeed experiment.

As I woke up and finished my morning devotionals (distraction-free this time), I stood up and headed for breakfast. Standing there, I realized my hands were empty. Usually, I'd already have my phone on hand, my eyes fixed on the many things I'd missed among the 7 or 8 hours I was off sleeping. With that out of the way, I opted for a book instead. A book that's been sitting on my table for far too long (accompanied by 2 to 3 other books). I then learned that starting the day with a book was ten times better than catching up on any latest news online.


So how did my week go?

Strangely, it was one of the best weeks of my whole summer. Social media is one of the main reasons I procrastinate so much. Without it, I instinctively became more productive. Other than that, it also gave me a lot of peace. I genuinely enjoyed how my days went. After being so hung up on social media all this time, finally granting myself that solitude felt like pure bliss.

As my sister was staying at my home, a week off of social media gave me the time and chance to spend a lot more time with her. I spent mornings and afternoons playing with my little nephew. We went out to the mall and not once did I get so hung up with my phone that it runs out of battery, like what usually happens if I go out. In short, it improved the quality of our quality time. 

When I get restless at night, instead of jumping into hours of scrolling through social media as an escape, I simply continued my book. When I still wasn't tired, I listened to podcasts and wrote notes about it in my journal. Just because I can. 

So last week, I went to a dinner gathering without documenting anything.
I celebrated both my sister's and my good friend's birthday and did it without holding down a Snapchat button; I'd learned to be present in social situations.
I finished my small book and am now reading two other books.
I started taking walks and running in the morning again.
I resumed my internship after summer break.
I dealt with moments of anxiety better than I ever had.
I finally got back to learning Dutch, this time while taking actual notes (8 filled pages and counting).
I finished digitally coloring a drawing that I'd started the week before.
I somehow managed to consistently practice my piano everyday.
I finally decluttered my bedside table (a small step towards decluttering my whole room).
And I'm having the time of my life, by making the most of it.

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This post will be published on a Monday; my first day back into social media. I'll probably need to catch up on some things, but this time, I won't let it overwhelm me, or take up too much of my time. I don't necessarily think social media is a problem (it's actually very useful and beneficial in our modern society), but I think it all comes down to how much we let it control our actions. I might even quit again soon, just because of how liberating it felt.

If you're thinking about doing this, I totally suggest that you try. 
It won't change your life to the point where everything becomes perfect overnight, but it could make you feel like a different person. And if you try, it'll give you room to discover and learn new things, and to pursue a life that you'll be proud of.

See you around.




Friday, June 30, 2017

Common Misconceptions on Eating Disorders


"No thanks, I'm not hungry."

"I'll just eat this and skip dinner."

"I don't think I can go out today."

With many people in the world struggling with an ED, and many others trying to recover from an ED, and others who don't even know they have an ED, it breaks my heart to see a world that still sometimes thinks it's not "real". Apparently, peer pressure and society both play a large role. They are partly why over 50% of teenage girls take unhealthy weight control methods like laxatives, fasting, vomiting, or skipping meals. And why there have been 20 million women in the US alone suffering from a clinically significant ED, and why anorexia has the highest fatality rate of any mental illness. 

While many are unaware of the problem, many also choose to turn away from it. In my country especially, the term "eating disorder" isn't even a familiar context. In this post, I'm not going to elaborate on whether or not I have experienced it; I'm not being pretentious, I just don't think I'm ready to share that story. But I've listed some ways people always seem to think wrongly when it comes to the issue.
  1. People with disordered eating = people who are extremely skinny. // Anorexia is a real thing, and yes, when someone is severely malnourished, they will appear to be very skin-and-bone or weak. But that is only one end of the spectrum. When someone tells you they might have an eating disorder, please don't believe them any less just because their arms don't look stick thin or their hipbones don't show. So do avoid saying "but you don't look like you have an eating disorder!" because that would just create more unwanted pressure regarding their appearance.
  2. "If she had one, I would've known." // Even though it's very likely that when a person is struggling, it will show through their behaviors around food, it's also still very easy for a sufferer of an ED to hide it from everyone else, including the people closest to them. My advice is, don't assume. Ask. 
  3. It's only about "dieting". // Diets taken to extreme measures are one of the major causes for  long-term eating disorders, but disordered eating is a complex term. It revolves around one's fixation on food, but it could also involve issues surrounding self-esteem, peer pressure, and even depression. Labeling eating disorders as just "strange diets" or "girls who just want to lose weight" is an extreme, extreme insult to those who have lost (or nearly lost) their lives, or have suffered actual consequences to their health. 
  4. They're just thirsty for attention. // To this I should emphasize: the reason why so many people with mental health issues choose not to come forward is because of this stigma. I'll just ask, what part of a girl trying to throw up in her bathroom alone is "attention-seeking" to you? Do consider that some people are genuinely struggling, not fishing for pity. It shouldn't be taken lightly, and people should not just casually say they have an ED without doing proper research and self-introspecting. But it doesn't make it right for you to imply that they're self-absorbed.
  5. It only affects your eating. // As much as we wish it only affected our eating patterns and nothing else, an ED can affect much more. Hormonal imbalances in the body caused by this unsteady stream of nutrients and fuel can cause damage to many metabolisms. I won't get much into it, but it takes a toll on everything; your skin, blood sugar levels, reproductive health, and especially mental health. (You can read more here.)
  6. It can simply "go away". // Again, we wish it could. But it's not as easy. It's not like a cold, where some dosage of medicine can guarantee you a nice exit out of it. When dealt with, they can take up a lot of time. Recovery can't happen overnight. Instead, it can take up to months and years, even longer than the time they were suffering from said ED. The fact that some keep it concealed, and don't seek out treatment/help, also makes it worse. Even as you are recovered, you'll find that the thoughts will still try to creep into your head, affecting you again and again. I hope for those of you who can't seem to move on, feeling like this is already a part of you, the key is to have compassion for yourself, and to learn to live with it and try your best. Slow progress is still progress. With time, you can and you will overcome.
I'd often thought of writing about this, and in fact, the idea crosses my mind nearly every day. But I'll be honest; I don't deem myself that brave. Today, I am in no way less scared, but I'd decided that if there was an open issue that was still happening, that I could write about and then bring to discussion, why should I stay silent? Even as my heart is racing as I type in the contents of this post?

So I could only list six misconceptions so far, but a second post will be up if I ever come across anything more. For more references, you can also read tips on staying in recovery (and overcoming fear of relapse) or why eating disorder jokes aren't cool.

Hopefully (truly, truly, truly I hope) this has helped speak for any person reading this. And for anyone who happens to be here, and if you're struggling, in whatever stage you are in right now, I hope this reminds you that you are never alone. Please be kind to yourself. My comments section (or social media links) will be open for any form of questions or stories that you might have. Let's build each other up. I'd love to hear from you.

See you around.