Psalm 147:8

“He covers the heavens with clouds, prepares rain for the earth, makes grass grow on the hills.” — Psalm 147:8

Rain clouds

As Psalm 147:8 says that God put clouds in the heavens to make way for rain to water the earth and make the grass grow on the hills, so does He also allow difficulties and challenges to cloud our lives, not because He wants us to suffer. Rather, it is His loving way of preparing us for the rains of blessings to come and make us grow into the best person He wants us to be. To be the beautiful person we are meant to be, in and out.

 

Psalm 34:17-19

When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears, and rescues them from all troubles. The LORD is near the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD rescues them from them all.

One recent morning, I spotted a lone pigeon on the rooftop of the building next to ours. I was so used to seeing almost every day a group of them, either resting or flying around in circles.

But today this little bird looked forlorn and sad and a bit confused.  Where are they, my dear companions?

My heart filled with pity and wondered too about his usual companions. Have they been caught and served as a meal? And oh, why wouldn’t he fly away despite the soft rain? In the drizzle, he kept still, seemingly awaiting his friends. I waved my hands and opened, closed the window shutters in hope of catching his attention. Alas!

Lonely pigeon
All alone in the drizzle…

Purple Sunset Skies

“The mighty one, GOD the LORD, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting. Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, GOD shines forth.” — Psalm 50:1-2

Purple sunset skies with a patch of bright golden orange forming like a halo over a tall unfinished structure. For almost six months, this building under construction went totally dark devoid of any activity. Thus, it gladdens me to see it springing back to life with lights on until curfew time because it means it is back to work for the building laborers who had lost their daily wages during the past months of more restricted community quarantine…

Bright orange halo forming around the tall structure, symbolizing hope amid troubled times

Purple sunset sky

 

Glow of a New Day

“By the tender mercy of our GOD, the dawn from on high will break upon us.” — Luke 1:78

Just before the first light of day
distant tall buildings in the business center
A slightly different angle
the golden sky serving as perfect backdrop for those commercial edifices…

Envision Your Dreams to Make Them Come True

“If you can imagine it and you visualize it, you can create it.” — Anonymous

So here’s a page from my Vision Board. Well, who knows?

My Silver Kitchen Vision Board consisting of some of my own home-cooked dishes which are a hit with my family.

How to Unleash Your Inner Creative Self

“Every child is an artist, the problem is staying an artist when you grow up” – Pablo Picasso

Each of us is endowed with a desire and strength to create, just like our Creator. For you and I are created according to God’s image and likeness, so each of us is gifted with the will to do something good, to create something beautiful.

As the above quote says, each child is an artist. Children are born with creative talents and a natural desire to draw and paint and sing and dance. Just watch any infant starting to communicate with those around him/her — the baby will instantly respond to singing or music by smiling, clapping/waving, kicking, and moving his/her body. A toddler who is given a crayon will instantly start to doodle on whatever surface is available, even on his/her arms and legs. No wonder babies and very young children are instinctively attracted to bright, vibrant colors!

Yet, along the way to adulthood, the creative energy that is innate often lies hidden, remaining either untapped or stifled. As the second part of the above quote from Picasso says, “the problem is staying an artist when you grow up.”

Perhaps you were told  you weren’t good enough or meant to be an artist or singer or dancer. Or perhaps, you yourself might have believed this to be true of you.

Fortunate are those whose natural talents were earlier honed and developed with much encouragement and nurture from parents and teachers.

For those who are not as blessed with such environment of encouragement and nurture, you can by all means still untapped your hidden natural creativity.

How to unleash your inner creative self?

Practice digital canvas with my recreation of a painting from an online art tutorial class. I painted the background then added the images and text.
  • Believe in yourself
  • Express your inner child
  • Keep your sense of wonder
  • Be curious about life and how things work
  • Learn and learn and learn – be a lifelong learner
  • Be adventurous
  • Think creatively- for example, when dealing with problems, look for creative solutions
  • Expand your horizon
  • Widen your perspective
  • Brainstorm every day for new ideas
  • Journal your thoughts daily
  • Read storybooks
  • Commune with nature — even just looking out the window and gazing at the sky and watching birds fly
  • Find inspiration even in mundane things or activities
  • Cook up new dishes for your family to enjoy
  • Go ahead and sing or dance or paint or write poetry — just have fun doing it and silence your critical self
  • Enroll in online classes or watch tutorials on YouTube to learn and hone your artistic side

These are only some of the many ways you can unleash your Inner Creative Self.  No matter how old you are, it’s never too late.

I’m in my early senior years, yet I’m able to re-discover my sense of creativity. Even at my age, I’ve been able to learn and improve my sense of beauty through my acquired photography skills, dabbling in some graphic designing, and now — digital painting.

The power to be your natural, creative self resides in you and you alone.

“We will discover the nature of our particular genius when we stop trying to conform to our own and other people’s models, learn to be ourselves and allow our natural channel to open.” — Shakti Gawain

Quotes source

 

Channeling One’s Inner Creative Energy

Look at these digital canvases! I was overjoyed to discover there is a creative tool built into my old laptop — I’d never bothered to explore this because it looked or sounded too technical for me — something to do with 3D!

But a few days ago, out of curiosity, I clicked on the icon and viola! It’s an Art tool which can allow me to paint and transform my digital art work or part of it into 3D image. I can also insert 3D images from a gallery to personalize or make my digital art more interesting. Now I have another medium by which to channel my inner creative energy, much like photography and writing. Especially in this time of uncertainty and lockdown, it is good to channel my anxiety and fear brought about by this pandemic to something uplifting.

Because I am not really good with brushes nor with drawing pens and crayons ever since  I was a kid, I went over to some painting tutorials for beginners at YouTube to learn about brush strokes, blending of colors, preparing/painting the background, and more. Then I started to apply what I’ve been learning and I also copied some designs there to see if I can do it.

Wow, I’ve never felt so amazed as to realize I can paint — even just digitally! I’ve always loved to do artwork — but I’ve always thought I wasn’t good enough!

Digital painting is a skill so different from real brush painting, but it is still a skill. And a challenge too because I need to learn how to maneuver the mouse, tweak the thickness or thinness of the brush or pen/pencil or crayon I want, choose the right colors, and everything else — to come up with something nice. Here are my initial attempts.

My 6th attempt at doing a digital painting with my own design.
My 7th digital painting project inspired by a painting in one of the tutorial classes on YouTube. This is a common design being taught to children and beginners like me.
My 8th and my favorite so far –another copied design but notice the 3D images I added: the moon and the 2 birds, instead of drawing and painting them.

    “If you hear a voice within you say, ‘You cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” – Vincent van Gogh

How do you channel your own inner creative energy, dear reader? Do share your thoughts on this in the box below.

If you are interested in unleashing and channeling your inner creative energy through painting but don’t know how, I suggest the following YouTube links:

My Extra-Special Mother’s Day Tribute to My Mom

I have written an article about my Mom for a book about mothers which I co-authored with 40 plus other authors and which we are launching later today in celebration of Mother’s Day.

To the First Woman Who Loved Me

Doing this book project is my extra-special Mother’s Day tribute to Mommy, or “Meh” as we in the family endearingly called her. It stands for the last syllable of “mommy,” with a short (e) sound.”

It’s my way of honoring her memory in a special way — immortalizing her and her undying love and sacrifices for her family in a book that can be read by many.  I’ve already written articles about her here in this blog, but having her featured in a book is quite extraordinary!  Here is an excerpt from my book article about Mommy.

Mommy: My Beloved Rose in Heaven

It has been five years, four months since God called my Mom back to His heavenly kingdom. Mommy, named Rose, was also a strong, faithful devotee of Mama Mary. This makes her more special and my memories of her more fragrant.

My Mom, you see, was born on the feast day of the Queenship of Mary – one of the most popular Marian feasts in the Catholic Church. Years later, she and Dad, a Marian devotee too, wanted to wed on the feast of our Lady of Lourdes. But because the Church prohibits (yes until today) weddings on feast days, they got married a day after. As if that was not enough, Mommy passed on to her eternal home on the anniversary of the Miracle of Fatima (or Miracle of the Sun), again another day associated with Mama Mary.

So with that, let me recount a few vivid images I cherish about my Mom and the lessons she imparted to me that make up her total essence. Each recollection is a lump in my throat as it brings me back to my sacred past.

Photo by Ergita Sela on Unsplash

NOTE: If you want to get your copy of this inspiring book, please click on To the First Woman Who Loved Me For now, it is in e-book format — as printing of the hard copy version is on hold due to the ongoing ECQ (Enhanced Community Quarantine). The stories contained here will truly warm your heart, each a special pearl of tender memories and praise to the first woman ever to have held and loved us.

“Moms are the people who know us the best and love us the most.” – Unknown

 

 

Enhanced Community Quarantine Life in the Time of the COVID-19 Pandemic

I chanced upon this post on my Facebook news feed and found it worth sharing. With a little edit in the first part (date and 1st paragraph), everything else I just copied and pasted here on my blog, as is, save for the format for ease of reading.  Original date of my copied post was April 3rd.

 

Wash your hands. Image created by Rok Mar. Submitted for United Nations Global Call Out To Creatives – help stop the spread of COVID-19.

 

Today April 30 is Day 48 and Extreme Community Quarantine has been extended until May 15th for our safety.

  • Curfew has been declared 8pm – 5am
    Quarantine Pass — issued, only ONE (1) per family, aged 18-59 years
    Schools suspended, students study on-line
    Forced Work From Home (for the lucky ones)
    Self-distancing measures
    People wear masks and gloves outside of their homes.
  • Tape on the floors at grocery stores, drugstores and others to help distance shoppers (6ft) from each other
    A limited number of people inside stores, therefore, lineups outside the store doors.
    Non-essential stores and businesses mandated closed.
    Entire sports seasons cancelled.
  • Concerts, tours, festivals, entertainment events – cancelled.
    Weddings, family celebrations, holiday gatherings – cancelled.
    No masses, churches are closed. Hear mass on TV or on-line.
    Malls are closed, restaurants and fast-food too
    No socialization with anyone outside of your home.
    Children’s outdoor play parks are closed.
  • We’ve been eating more as a family.
    More home-cooked meals, more experimental and creativity in cooking.
    We are to distance from each other. No handshakes, hugs or kisses.
    Two (2) rounds of Happy Birthday song while hand washing became the in-thing.
  • Shortage of masks, gowns, gloves for our front-line workers, as even we wear masks and gloves outside our homes.
    Shortage of ventilators for the critically ill.
    Panic buying sets in —- shortage on rubbing alcohol, toilet paper, hand towel, disinfecting supplies, paper towel, anti-bacterial hand soap, laundry soap, no hand sanitizer.
    Shelves are bare.
  • Wet markets open from 8 – 10am; 3-5pm
    Manufacturers, distilleries and other businesses switch their lines to help make visors, masks, hand sanitizers and PPE (personal protective equipment)
    Government closes the city borders to all non-essential travel.
    Old facilities open up for the overflow of Covid-19 patients.
    Make-shift hospital tents start to rise.
  • Press conferences daily from the Government.
    Daily updates on new cases, recoveries, and deaths.
    Government insists people to stay home.
    Barely anyone on the roads.
    Essential service workers are terrified to go to work.
    Medical field workers are afraid to go home to their families.

This is the Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) Pandemic, declared March 11th, 2020.

Why, you ask, do I write this status?
One day it will show up in my memory feed, and it will be a yearly reminder that life is precious and not to take the things we dearly love for granted.
We have so much
to be thankful for, to be grateful for.

We survived … we are alive…
Be kind to each other – love one another – support everyone.
We are all one! ❤️

 

Thanks to the original owner of this post.

Writing Exercise: Writing a ‘Really Shitty’ First Draft

“…the only way I can get anything written at all is to write really, really shitty first drafts.” —

Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird

So, this is mine, my own ‘really, really shitty first draft’ (of another writing exercise). I never tire of looking for prompts or exercises to improve my writing. I’ve never been the storytelling type of writer. But still I’d like to flex my writing muscles toward that direction. So here it is — my own ‘really, really shitty first draft.’

“On a whim one lazy Saturday morning, Summer thought of going through her pile of memorabilia. She pulled an old photograph album lurking in a dusty corner of the bodega upstairs.

Its edges were beginning to show signs of wear. Summer no longer remembered what photos lay hidden in each page because she had not opened this for ages.

Overcome with anticipation, she pried open the hard cover with care. The album looked ancient with its yellowish pages. Each leaf contained one or two faded photographs stuck like glue beneath the plastic lining.

A soft, creaky sound arose at each turn of a panel. Then she saw her mom bidding her to sit beside her at the dining table where lay a big tray of freshly baked chocolate bread pudding, whose sweet aroma wafted around her. In a while as Summer was about to take a bite of her Mom’s specialty, she heard her Mom humming, “Beyond the Sunset”, a hymn her parents would sing together.

Without much prodding, Summer’s alto voice blended with that of her Mom’s soprano, until they reached the last strains of the hymn. Summer could still hear herself singing, but her hands were now wet with tears as these memories of her Mom replayed in her mind. And all the more this sent her body shaking with uncontrollable sobs.

You see, looking through family albums was her late mom’s favorite weekend activity.”

Photo by Anna Jiménez Calaf on Unsplash