A Daily Pattern and Rhythm: Worship, Work, and Music

In my previous post, I talk about the need to Establish a Daily Pattern and Rhythm in Our Lives.

This is so we can have some order and inner peace and a sense of balance. But how can we create a daily pattern and rhythm to bring about these?

Let us first look at these terms.

Pattern, according to Oxford dictionary, is “a regular and intelligible form or sequence discernible in certain actions or situations.” Rhythm, says Oxford, is “a regularly recurring sequence of events, actions, or processes.”

Through our daily routine and regular activities, we are able to build a system or order of conducting our lives, which lends a certain cadence or tempo into our days.

Hence, we talk of our regular eating/sleeping time and so forth. If we skip a beat, we might feel uneasy. We get sick, if we form the bad habits of sleeping too late or getting not enough sleep, and missing our meals. (I will be writing more on this in a later post.)

Photo by STIL on Unsplash

Again, using the fine example of contemplative religious communities, they start and end their day in worship and prayer, and interspersed in between are their hours of work and/or study, as well as time for their rest and recreation.

Such mindful use of their hours with nothing put to waste! So much so they have no time to focus too much on the bad and the ugly. Rather, they tend to set their sights on the good, their hearts on God.

God’s Template

Come to think of it, I’ve realized God himself has given us the perfect template for creating pattern and rhythm in our daily life:  work and rest and worship.

“For six days, you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God.[…] For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore, the Lord blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it.” — Exodus 20:8-11

  • Worship and Prayer

Wouldn’t it be good to also start your own day with a prayer of thanksgiving and praise to your God, the Creator of the Universe and of all beings? As well as end the day with a prayer or quiet time with Him?

Photo by Luis Quintero from Pexels

For Christians, worshiping God is His first commandment to us, which He himself spoke to Moses and the people of Israel on Mount Sinai:

“I am the Lord your God […] you shall have no other gods before me.” – Exodus 20: 1-3 (NRSV)

And Jesus too spoke of the same when He was tempted by Satan in the desert:

“Worship the Lord your God, and serve only Him.” – Matthew 4:10 (NRSV)

For the religious communities I mentioned above, in obedience to God’s divine law  to worship Him, these  are two verses from the Bible by which they design their daily life:

Psalm 119:164 “Seven times a day do I praise thee because of thy righteous judgments.” (KJV)

Psalm 119:62 “At midnight I will rise to give thanks unto thee because of thy righteous judgments.” (KJV)

So Christians even in the secular world are called upon to worship God — though not exactly in the way religious communities arrange their prayer time.  I myself have been doing my best to preserve my own sacred time with God. I wrote about this in my previous post, Create Sacred Time in Daily Life to Attain Calm, Achieve More, and Grow.

As God himself commanded us, so be it, as it is good for our spiritual lives. Worshiping Him is God’s greatest commandment: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and with all your might.” — Deuteronomy 6:5 (NRSV)

Non-Christians also do pray. They have their own special ways to commune with a Higher Being or Deity.

In other words, praying is as basic as the need to eat, sleep, and breathe — to  ground oneself, be firm, and grow.

  • Work/Study

Surely you know how work and study are important for us to grow.  Work is the means by which we can make use of our God-given talents, and enables us to provide for ourselves and those entrusted to our care, as well as be of help to the less fortunate.

But what I’m stressing more here is how to make your day more meaningful. How are you maximizing your time? What are you aiming for — being busy or being productive?

Aim to spend each hour of the day in producing results that can lead you closer to your goals. Avoid spending time on needless tasks or activities that will not help you grow — as in too much time on social media. Allot time for your continuous learning. “One hour per day of study in your chosen field is all it takes, “ as Earl Nightingale once said.

When we fill our days with meaningful work or activity, we glorify God. And we are safe from the temptation of the evil one, as the popular saying goes, “An idle mind/hands are the devil’s workshop.”

Photo by Jeff Sheldon on Unsplash
  • Music

What better way to mark our daily pattern and rhythm with special sounds that can enhance our day than music? I like this definition of music from Wikipedia: “Music is an art form and cultural activity whose medium is sound organized in time.” 

Music as a form of worship and prayer is uplifting, soul-refreshing, unifying our soul and spirit with God. It is indeed the highest form of prayer we can offer to God, to whom all Glory and Praise belong.

Outside the realm of religious rites, music is an invaluable part of our lives. It’s one of the most effective ways to express emotions and create mood. Isn’t it nice to have music playing in the background while you work (or do chores),  study,  or to simply relax?

Also, today more and more people are turning to music as a healing therapy, such as those offered by Breathe & Chill on YouTube: binaural beats, calming sounds of nature. They even have binaural beats for children.

So there, dear reader. If you are already getting fed up by the noise  and pain in the world, or yearning to deepen your spirituality, or to gain clearer direction, it is time to re-arrange your daily life with these 3 important elements of worship, work and music. Let go and let God, too, if things are getting too much to bear!

  • God created the Universe and all in it according to His set design and pattern, so there may be ORDER in the natural word.

“For thus says the LORD, who created the heavens (he is God!), who formed the earth and made it, (he established it; he didn’t create it a chaos, formed it to be inhabited!): “I am the LORD and there is no other.” — Isaiah 45:18 (The NRSV Catholic Edition)

  • God gave us His commandments for our own good, that we may lead orderly lives and not lose our way.

“GOD is Light and in Him there is no darkness at all. ” — 1 John 5 (NRSV, Catholic Edition)

See this article too on “Why is Obedience to God Important?” by Mary Fairchild, Learn Religions, Feb. 11, 2020.

God’s perfect template for pattern and rhythm in our daily life: work and rest and worship.

 

 

 

Establishing a Daily Pattern and Rhythm in Our Lives

Are you getting jaded, disheartened, or depressed by what is happening around the world?

Our world today is full of strife, noise, and excesses. These chaos around us can deplete us of our inner energy and peace, causing us to drift mindlessly or drown in a sea of confusion or meaninglessness. It is easy to lose ourselves.

So we need to retain or restore our sense of balance and of self. One way to do this is by establishing a daily pattern and rhythm.

Lately, I’ve been striving to build pattern and rhythm into my everyday life under the maxim, Ora et Labora: Prayer and work incorporated into each of my day. I also include listening to music into my routine: classical, instrumental, and healing music.

My inspiration for this is the monastic and convent life of religious orders and congregations of contemplative  priests/monks and nuns, (those whose main life is devoted to prayer inside their monasteries or convents) such as, to name a few, the Benedictines, the Carmelites, and the Holy Spirit Adoration Sisters (Pink Sisters) of which my younger sister is a member.

A community of Pink Sisters at prayer. We brought my dad’s urn to the Pink Sisters community where my sister is a member, for a memorial Mass, as they are not allowed to go out and attend family events…

Their daily life is marked by a routine of worship and prayer, work and study, rest and recreation.

Not to overlook that singing is also part of their worship and prayer. Music is very much interwoven into their daily pattern.

PATTERN and RHYTHM Brings ORDER into Our Lives

It will be good for us, if we can adopt the same principle into our own life in the secular world.

Establishing a daily pattern and rhythm  brings order into our lives, both external and internal. Let me explain further.

Have you ever had some experience dealing with or interacting with contemplative monks/priests and nuns?

If so, you must have noticed how calm, quiet, and gentle they go about their day. Even their movement seems unhurried and fluid, their voice soft and angelic. Nothing harsh nor abrupt in the way they move or speak. The same is true with my own sister and her co-sisters in their convent.

It must be their disciplined, structured life. I also remember my professor in Pastoral Psychology and Counseling, a Jesuit priest, reminding us to “move slowly, speak slowly, eat slowly.” He stressed the importance of being in the moment, in the here-and-now.

Perhaps there is wisdom in that way of living, which we can adapt to our own individual environment, circumstances, and everyday living to:

  • Help us put up with the negative forces around us of which we have little control;
  • Enable us to tackle the challenges and problems of modern life, especially those brought about by technology, and still remain sane.

Among the downside of technology we are facing today are:

  • Disconnect between the real and the virtual world
  • Climate of negativity and superficiality on social media
  • Spread of fake news, lies, and hate-crimes
  • Depression and suicide among the young
  • Technology-driven warfare

So disheartening, huh? That is why, I state again, we need to have some form of defense against these negative forces in the external world, or call it crutch if you will, to help us maintain our inner composure and equilibrium. Something to pull us back to ourselves in case we get lost.

Now,  some of you  especially the young or those of you who are more free-spirited and dislike being hemmed in by a strict time regimen and routine,  maybe you won’t agree with me. But it pays to have structure and regularity in our daily life.

Photo by Robin Spielmann on Unsplash

In fact, studies show we are wired to follow certain patterns and rhythms – just like our heart beats, breathing, and sleep-wake cycle, for example. Even nature follows patterns and rhythms, like the rising and setting of the sun, the ebb and flow of tides, seasonal changes, and so on.

Just observe things around you. You will notice the presence of patterns and rhythms in your own life and in the natural world. Don’t you just feel safe and secure when you see daylight comes out after the dark hours of night? No matter the weather is, day is sure to follow night. That is the natural law, the natural order of things.

More than a disciplined, well-arranged daily pattern, these priests/monks and cloistered nuns seem to be possessed with quiet confidence that everything will be alright despite all the above-mentioned issues. They remain unperturbed like lotuses in a pond.

We can indeed re-arrange our days to help us weather the external chaos going on around us; that despite the turmoil of a superficial, hostile world, we can still live with inner peace and balance.

In my next post, I will show you how you can create pattern and rhythm in your own life through Worship, Work, and Music interwoven into each of your days.

 

* NOTE: This is my revised post. The original contains the 2nd part which I now have to make into a new post in itself.

 

 

 

Create Sacred Time in Daily Life to Attain Calm, Achieve More, and Grow

I remember growing up with a daily structure to follow. I belonged to that generation when parents instilled a disciplined time management to their children. Whether on schooldays or vacation, we had to start our day early.

Do you know the saying, “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise?” That was my parents’ motivation for us.

This is true for most parents that they want their children to be successful in life. They believe success starts with an early day.

Another parents’ favorite saying is, “The early bird catches the worm.” Thus, when my own children were growing up, I also instilled in them this good habit of waking up early.

Downside of Flexible Hours

But as years went by, long after my children had grown and started their own lives, I managed to establish my own flexible time routine as my needs demanded it. Like if I had a class, or appointment, or an errand late in the morning, I’d get up late too, beyond 7 am.

My days became more and more flexible, since I quit my teaching job at a pastoral institute and opted to work from home. Yet, the freedom flextime (flexible hours) gave me was both simultaneously good and overwhelming!

Photo by Enikő Tóth from Pexels

I realized I wasn’t as productive as I used to. Without a set time structure for my day, the hours seemed to fly by without me having accomplished as much as I wanted or needed to.

Besides, the feeling of cramming too many things in a few hours of the day was already creating a sense of mindless flow and needless stress.

It seems like Time and Temper run in short supply, as we get older.

The Beauty of Creating Sacred Time

Fast forward to the beginning of this year, I vowed to be more mindful of the hours I spend in a day.

I had to rediscover the joy of waking up much earlier again, at the crack of dawn when everything was still dark, cold, and dreary.

But, more than waking up early, something inside me was still yearning for more, for something deeper and far more meaningful for each of my day.

I realized then I needed to create a special time for prayer or quiet meditation, a time for communing with God.

And I can only do so by setting particular hours of my day for this Sacred Time, spread throughout my day, with intention; to pray not only when I feel like or have extra time.

So far, this has been helping me set the tone for my day.

The beauty of doing this? Waking up earlier than usual and creating Sacred Time for certain hours of the day, I can, among many other benefits:

  • Start my day with a prayer and conversation with God with no hurry
  • Enjoy watching the dark dawn turn light into a new day
  • Watch the first glow of the morning sun peeking through the mountains in the eastern side of the metropolis
  • Observe the pigeons in the neighborhood take flight for their morning exercise
  • Organize my day’s activities, including rest, more mindfully and meaningfully
  • Focus more on the present
  • Feel more calm and relaxed despite hardship and challenges knowing I am a prayer away from my Creator
  • Accomplish more by giving priority to the most urgent tasks and doing away with killing time
  • End my day with a healing prayer before bedtime
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

In short, I find it refreshing and energy boosting in starting and ending the day on a positive note, which can only come from having a time for prayer. My Sacred Time! It has helped deepen my prayer life.

Of course, I still feel challenged at times, and problems still take the better of me. Yet, growing closer to God through my Sacred Time, I can overcome the negatives, do more, and grow to be the best person I can ever be.

“Be still and know that I am God.” — Psalm 46:10

If you feel you need more calm, want to be more productive, and grow, you too can try this. You can also create your own sacred time or space. You may have your own version of it – your own quiet, solitary time, communing with your Higher Being, at an hour/or hours  and place you choose. It brings the same effect. It will surely benefit you in many more ways than you’ll ever know.

 

 

 

 

 

2020: New Year, New Life, New Hope

It’s 2020! A brand New Year!

Like most people, I ‘d like to believe a New Year signifies New Life, New Hope.

A new year inspires in us a new way of living.

Living more positively.

Resolving to overcome bad habits.

Creating new ones in the hope these will bring us much closer to our goals.

And this is what I’d also like to wish for my blog, too: time to head for a new direction, a fresh outlook, more inspiring posts and articles, and so forth. To rise again like a lotus.

There was a time I used to name this blog, Summr LotusPond. Why?

As I wrote then in my blog’s former About Page, I’d like to see my blog as somehow akin to a Pink Lotus flower — that despite my imperfections in writing, my blog can hopefully withstand these and continue being a garden for my creative inclinations where my dream of being a writer can flourish.

And though I still see my blog as ‘a garden for my creative inclinations,’ I will strive to post something more useful, more inspiring, for you dear reader, straight from my heart.

Photo by Vivek Doshi on Unsplash

The Pink Lotus is considered to be the supreme lotus; though not a Buddhist myself, I like the symbolism attached to it — Rebirth. The Lotus thrives in dirty, muddy ponds — goes through a cycle of opening all its petals in the morning, then closes each in the late afternoon — yet, it emerges untainted and beautiful despite its mucky surroundings.

And just like the Pink Lotus that is said to symbolize a person’s spiritual journey: while still a bud, it represents a ‘closed’ person who is yet to move on to the next step in his/her spiritual journey; as the flower blooms, it represents an opening up of a person to all that is around.

Last year, my blog sort of went on a limbo, when I stopped posting in the second half of the year.  And this year, I promise you, just like the Pink Lotus, English All You Can: TeachMarich Journal of Inspiration will have another of its Rebirth!

 

Why I Can Never Forget My First Travel Abroad

It’s been over two months since my first travel outside the Philippines, and here I am still reeling from this incredulous feeling of finally, “I made it!”
 
Everything about my travel – the places my son and I visited, the food, the people there, and all these that I narrate here – make my first travel abroad something I can never ever forget.
 
Thanks much to my son who invited me, my long time dream of going abroad has come true — and traveling SOLO at that! Of course, my son would be there to meet and fetch me after work, then take me around. You see, he often goes to Singapore as part of his job, so he wanted me to be able to visit the country while he was there.
Me and the mini Merlion somewhere along the Marina Bay – a photo taken by my son, my avid photographer during my stay at the Lion City

Yet, the prospect of traveling abroad all by myself – getting to the airport and back (from the trip), and going through the long process from check-in to security check, and flying alone with strangers — was daunting enough for me because that meant getting out of my comfort zone. I’m used to being assisted especially in new situations.

 Last year in fact — as I shared in a previous post — the chance to travel overseas already presented itself to me. Not your regular adventurer at heart, I found many excuses to back off.
 
But this time, I mustered the courage to embrace this golden opportunity, for such may no longer come my way. Besides, my son had already bought my plane tickets at short notice, too (so I’d no longer have any excuses to say no).
 
With little time to prepare my mind, my heart, and my things, “a drum of anxieties was revolving in my consciousness” (to quote Alain de Botton in his book, “The Art of Travel”) days prior to my scheduled flight.
 
Worrying about losing my way at the airports (here and at Changi), my hearing impairment, and my natural clumsiness even at my age, I was getting to be a big bundle of nerves as the time drew near.
 
Despite my own research on what to expect for a first-timer traveler, plus lots of pointers and encouragement from family, I still feared making mistakes. Which I had on several instances. After all, I wouldn’t be me without my bloopers!
 
My family and some close friends understand how I also hate taking a taxi on my own, or going home late, much less taking myself to the airport back and forth.
 
Yet, anticipation and thrill, together with my complete trust in God that He’d take care of me overtook me. An act of faith, as one good friend said.
 
Thus from my Grab ride to NAIA to my surprisingly pleasant experiences going through each step, and everywhere I went “already the confusion and jitters of the present moment were receding.” (Alain de Botton).
 
Today, I am still reliving the sights, sounds, and flavors of Singapore — as if it were only yesterday. Already I’m missing my first taste of authentic Hainanese Chicken rice and soup, the very first meal I ate right at Changi Airport. I want to go back to Singapore and explore more.
at the Marina Bay, Singapore with the Esplanade in the background – the first area where my son took me right from the airport
Capturing the Marina Bay Sands on my 1st evening…

Ah traveling abroad – even for a short stay – does open a wider perspective and a great way to know myself more! I’m giving myself a BIG pat on the back as well for taking up the challenge.

Funny but the urge to travel again to a new place is creeping up on me now.
 
Most of all, I am overflowing with gratitude  and I thank God for this blessing. Indeed, all these that I have overcome with grit and faith and my loved ones’ moral support make my first travel abroad an experience that will last forever in my heart.
While waiting for our lunch to be served, I took a shot of this view of the Marina Bay Sands from the National Gallery of Singapore
 
One of the waterfalls at Cloud Forest at the Gardens by the Bay – I was careful not to let my phone slip from my hands while taking this photo
Silhouette of the Marina Bay Sands looming in the background

 

NOTE: You can find two more related articles on my Singapore trip posted on another blog of mine:

Vignettes of My First Overseas Travel

Flying to a Dream

Do you still remember your first ever overseas or first ever solo travel? How was it? Please do share about it on the comment box below.

Starting 2019 On a Positive Note

HAPPY NEW YEAR everyone! Welcome 2019!

Two weeks into the new year, and I’m still keeping up my good spirits, which I should be if I want to make 2019 a much kinder, brighter year than the last.

And I invite you all as well to start this year — 2019 — on a positive note.

Let’s do our best to be THANKFUL for every BLESSING, big or small, that comes our way. Something may or may not be what we truly want or hope for. Still, let’s be grateful for it because it’s the best way to keep negativity at bay.

We start with this — with GRATITUDE in our hearts — to create a positive mindset as we greet each new day.

Most of you I’m sure have your own resolutions to be and do better this year. So do I.

I hope I’ll be able to stick to them, for I’m making sure these are doable for me. I hope it’s going to be the same for you.

One of the things I keep reminding myself to do is: Prioritize and focus on the task at hand. ONE at a time. I should quiet my mind from distractions.

I find multi-tasking no longer as effective with me as in the past. I cannot segue from one task to another hurriedly lest I become absent-minded. My memory is starting to slow down. Ahhh, the travails of aging!

But sometimes, situations will arise where I still need to attend to several things at the same time. In which case, I must remind myself to pause a bit in between. And this works better for me now.

I end this post by sharing a Prayer for the New Year, which I came across online.

Lord

Whether I leave behind

a year of joy or of trials and difficulties,

I pause to GIVE THANKS.

Thank you for being with me

Every day of every year.

Thank you for making all things NEW

And for giving me the grace of

Fresh starts

And New Beginnings.

Remind me of your presence in the days to come,

Even when I feel pushed and rushed by

Busyness.

Be Glorified in My Life This Year.

~ AMEN ~

heatherking.org

 

 

Prayer for the New Year

As the world awaits 
the coming year 
May Love, real love
Compassion
Generosity 
Empathy
Unity
Peace, Justice
Goodness
echo our heart's yearnings
And bells ring not only
to usher in a materially blessed year
but more for spiritual graces and blessings

We pray Lord grant us each
an openness and space for the poor in 
our midst
a ready hand to lend 
to anyone in need

May each heart O LORD, Creator of all
respond to Your Call of
oneness with those suffering
from sickness, poverty, and other ills;
with those differing from us in faith,
politics, race, color, creed
and other divisive walls
as well as a rejection of all that 
displeases You O Most Loving Merciful GOD

All these in Jesus' Name we pray. AMEN



A Look Back at the Fading Year 2018

Three years ago in the last quarter,  I wrote this in a Facebook post of mine:

“…it’s been almost 2 weeks since I moved into this place which I now call home and share with my son, this time, with my eldest. […] Somehow I feel like a tourist in a strange land. With an inventive mind such as mine, it’s so easy to pretend I’m now in a place like Manhattan in NY. I’m no longer in my house on the prairie which I shared with my younger son and his family […] nor am I in my tiny English cottage by the woods which I shared with my dear feline friends.

“Now here I am in the heart of the bustling metropolis learning to ease out of my reclusive mood. What I get to enjoy is being able to keep house and prepare home-cooked meals for my son […] and having human company to converse  with, not just my plants, or my cats, or my favorite lizard…”

Now three years hence, and I’m still conversing mostly with my plants, my new set of lizard friends, some ants. No cats at all. Not that I mind. My son’s hectic work schedule and his personal life leave me all by myself most of the time.

On one hand, I’ve gotten used to my own company and still preoccupied with my part-time work, personal projects including this blog, my photography hobby, among other things. Yet it can be quite depressing at times.

Looking back, my life’s roadmap this year has been a riveting mix of ups and downs. On the upside, I’ve accomplished many of my goals. Topping them all was self-publishing my first eBook ever, Finding Your Authentic Self: A Path to Wholeness, which took me about 3 months to write.

But circumstances — such as work and financial problems — can be so overwhelming that without faith, I would’ve come crushing down. I must admit times when my very faith comes asunder letting me go on a roller-coaster ride with my relationship with God.

Like a child lost in the woods, I keep running to find my way — yet the farther it takes me away from home.

When doubt assails or bitterness creeps in, I quickly remind myself God is with me, in me, around me. He’s just hidden in the clouds.

My eyes look at the clouds to seek God’s face among them, somehow hoping to see Him in the concrete as well as in a deeper, spiritual sense. When I come to Him in prayer, I either feel empty or full of hope. When tears fall, I know deep in my heart, He has heard my cries, and suffered my agony too.

I find myself grieving still over my Mom’s passing, even after 4 years. As they say, something is taken away from you when your mother dies. So it is with me. During my difficult times, I miss my Mom’s strength and comfort.

I find I’m an irony unto myself. I, who long for human interaction and real conversation, has shied away from most invitations to social events and meetups with friends this year.

But I’m made of sterner stuff. My faith in God remains strong despite some backsliding. My faith in the goodness of others is still alive, my love for my family unshakeable, and my confidence in myself intact despite my defeats.

I’ve come to a few realizations:

  • A structured schedule for each day works best for me
  • I should assign a particular day for each important chore
  • I can no longer lump together in one day chores that use up too much energy
  • Less multi-tasking so I can focus
  • Must include writing practice, learning and reading into my daily schedule
  • Less social media and news reading
  • Back to book reading and journaling
My reading list — books I’ve read (since 2012) and current readings

Through all my ups and downs, God has been my Shield, prayer my best tool. I remind myself my human frailty is the devil’s strength. So I must always keep myself in check and keep God’s hope and promises in my heart.

“They that hope in the Lord will renew their strength, they will soar as with eagle’s wings; They will run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint. –Isaiah 40:31

This is the trajectory of my life this year — and I hope and pray 2019 will be kinder to me, with God’s grace. That like an eagle, I can soar to new heights. I do believe.

I also pray for strength, clarity, and comfort for anyone dealing with their own pain and struggles.

Above all, I hope and pray for greater peace, compassion, unity, less violence and negativity,  as well as maturity in social discourse, especially in this Blessed Season of Christ’s Birth. Merry CHRISTMAS and a Peaceful, Brighter New Year to all!

Through the Lens of an Amateur Photography Enthusiast

A professional photographer friend of mine recently gave me a few honest-to-goodness critique of some photo shots I did as I’d requested. I appreciated it because there’s nothing like having a mentor or teacher who can help in your journey of learning.

And the most encouraging part of his feedback is telling me to just enjoy my photography — for his is more on the technicalities of taking photos, such as avoiding overexposure, taming the whites in your photos, proper framing, and the like. At least I know where my weaknesses lie, and how to improve my techniques.

Then I  came across this article, What is Composition in Photography?

“Composition is the language that you, the photographer, can use to communicate with the viewer. How you place the different components of your image relative to each other is what gives your photos meaning.” — Harry Guinness

It gives me great comfort to know what I’m actually aiming for in my photos has a place in the world of photography. As this author-photographer Harry Guinness writes, “Photography isn’t just a technical pastime; it’s an art. […] There is something more to photography than just technical perfection.”

Of course, I like to be technically correct, so I’m learning to use the manual setting on my phone cam or my digicam, instead of the Auto mode.

Yet, for the most part I enjoy creating a certain mood, like making a scene dramatic or pensive. Or making the scene before me seem like someone is peering through a corner. During the post-editing stage, I refrain from relying on filters to get the effect I want. But I use the editing options for straightening, cropping, and improving the tonal quality of my shots. It’s something like cinematography. It’s creating art indeed.

I like how I was able to frame those people within the bars of the railing from where I stood…

Often, I get so caught up with this particular goal of mine that I tend to overlook the technical part. So I do understand if some of my better equipped, more polished photographer friends fail to recognize what I’m really aiming for.

More than ever now, I commit myself to continue honing my photography skills (as taught by experts and professionals) and still enjoy expressing myself the way I want to.

Here are some of my favorite practice shots.

Thought it would be fun to capture the silhouette of my sister’s cat as she lays next to her reading a book…
Caught my sister reading and thought of focusing on her book and her hands’ silhouette
A practice on perspective – at the same time I tried to come up with a different kind of composition
My practice shot on scaling…
A shot from my book pile series
taken with my old Canon PowerShot A3100 IS — tried to imitate a common book arrangement in bookstores…
It seems like the leaf is catching those soft fluffy white clouds…
To trained eyes, this shot is not a good one (long shadow on the building’s facade) but it’s still a better version of many of my earliest photos…

There you go, my photography journey in 2018. Hope 2019 finds me offering you a fresh batch of more artistically done shots. Blessings to all!

a gift from my son…

 

A Teacher’s Dream Book of Poems In Focus

As a year-ender for the Poetry category of my blog, I just want to put here my envisioned cover for my dream book of poems. I’ve designed my cover using Canva, and why am I doing this?

Just so I have something concrete to focus on. Something to motivate me to act on this dream of mine of compiling some of my best poems and verses into a book — those that have earned praises and comments from my readers on another site, Writing.com, where I go by my username Summerblossom. And some verses dear to my heart.

My dream book of poems will also serve as an impetus for me to compose new poems or verses, focusing on life, love, and faith…

Cover of my dream book of poems…

Looking back, I was glad that my best friend in college gifted me with a personalized blank book especially meant for my poems back then. So I immediately wrote down my earliest verses from when I was 13 — the good, the angsty, and the not so good (aka immature) — on that little blue book with its title, On Dreams and Realities.

A page from my 1st poetry collection
Another page from my 1st book of poems…

With that, I wish everyone a better year to come…May 2019 be as awesome, if not more than the year that is about to fade. May all your fondest dreams turn to realities. HAPPY NEW YEAR!