Why I Write.

I write because sometimes it’s just too complicated to tell everything to anyone. I write because in my darkest days, I do not even feel like seeing anyone–let alone talking to them. I write because I think people won’t understand. I write because I don’t think I can fully trust anyone. I write because I think people won’t be so nice or approving. I write because I think people would try too hard to be nice and approving.

Journaling

PHOTO BY CLARADEVI HANDRIATMADJA.

I write because in my teenage years, I learned that my knuckles would hurt if I punch the wall. That instead of getting sympathy, my parents would simply scold me for breaking things or throwing my stuff away. That to swear and curse from the top of my lungs, I needed to go to a jungle or a mountain so nobody would hear me, but I couldn’t travel that far. That cutting myself sounded like an intriguing idea to play with, but I could never get myself to do it. I write because at the time, I didn’t have whatever it takes to run away–both mentally and physically.

There were times in my early 20s when I envied my friends who could run away to other cities/countries, drowned themselves in sexual adventures, went to wild parties and got wasted, tried out drugs of different kind, or showed everyone the scars they inflicted on themselves in an attempt to ‘feel’ again. There were times when I looked at them and wished I could do that, too.

But I didn’t.
Instead, I wrote.

***

I write because the pages are simply being there. They are not talking back, they are not giving any advice, they are not offering words of comfort, they are not judging. They are simply being there in their blankness, waiting for my pen to vomit the chaos of my thoughts and feelings. They never flinched no matter how dark, mean, or depressing those thoughts and feelings turned out to be. Sometimes, my handwriting is tiny and neat and round, other times thin and messy and sharp, other times huge and bold and wet with tears. But the pages are still there–even when they get damp, torn, crumpled, thinned, or worn out; they stay.

Screen shot 2015-04-08 at 7.27.56 PM

PHOTO BY CLARADEVI HANDRIATMADJA.

I write because at the time, it was the only thing I can do. I write because it was the cheapest and safest way to express myself: my sadness, my anger, my hatred, as well as my secret wishes, my dreams… my love. I write because when things get hard, writing gives me an outlet to empty my mind (and my heart) for a while. I write because only by doing so, I can transfer the revolving and revolting thoughts in my mind into the pages of my journal, name it, recognize it, pinpoint it, then lock it in a drawer and give it a safe ‘distance’. I write because I can reread those words a few hours later, nine days later, nine weeks later, nine months later, or nine years later, and feel differently each time; noticing how much I have grown and how much I have learned. I write because that’s the one thing I know to see the many sides of me and finally understand who I really am–and who I really want to be (even when nobody is looking).

***

Different people in all walks of life choose different outlets to cope with different kind of things. It just happens that I choose writing. And I’m thankful for writing, too, has chosen me.

Tagged , , , , , , ,

A Gift of Being.

photo-3

Even if our only prayer is gratitude, maybe it’s enough.
Even if our only ablution is acceptance, maybe it’s enough.
Even if our only service is being compassionate, maybe it’s enough.
Even if our only invocation is words of blessings, maybe it’s enough.
Even if our only offering is non-judgement, maybe it’s enough.
Even if our only ritual is forgiveness, maybe it’s enough.
Even if our only pilgrimage is being fully present, maybe it’s enough.
Even if our only scripture is love, maybe it’s enough.
Even if our only way is peace, maybe it’s enough.
Maybe it’s enough.

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

It’s Okay To Not Be Okay.

: : dedicated to t. a. n.

You don’t need to offer anyone an apology for not being okay. You don’t need anyone’s permission for showing, owning, and honouring your feelings, no matter how far-from-okay those feelings actually are.

4556345580_8f8a17a05d_o
PHOTO: I LOVE GRAIN via PHOTOPIN (LICENSE)

Don’t ever feel guilty for not being able to fake a smile when everyone’s dancing and laughing some evenings; and don’t ever feel ashamed for not being able to lift the veil of sadness from some of your heavy mornings. It’s okay to not be okay.

You don’t have to repress your feelings to please others, nor push away your sadness to comfort others. You have the right to feel whatever it is that you feel; to talk about it and to try to understand it in all honesty, unapologetically. You have the right to not be okay.

Release the tension from not being able to bounce back so easily and drop the pressure from not being able to snap yourself ‘out-of-it‘ so quickly–you know you would if you could. You are allowed to be sad; to cry your eyes out when you feel like it. You are allowed to be vulnerable; to reach out when you feel like it. You are not a failure just because you allow yourself to feel what you feel.

You are just being human.
And it is okay to not be okay all the time.

Ian Curley: A Message on Mindfulness from the Kitchen.

Maybe it’s true: that an end is merely a start for a new beginning. Or maybe, whether something is ‘an end’ or ‘a beginning’ largely depends on our perspective and the choices we make along the way.

When Ian Curley ran into trouble with the police in London back in the 80s; he could have think of it as The End. But Ian decided to see it as a chance to start a new beginning: he flew to Australia and started over. Today, Ian is considered one of Australia’s first class chefs–appearing in the ever-popular Masterchef’s program, having his own reality TV show Conviction Kitchen, and preparing meals for Hollywood celebrities; from Beyoncé to the Kardashians.

***

IanCurley

It was a sunny afternoon. I had just finished savouring Ian’s delicious steak tartare–after watching him preparing this classic dish in the kitchen. But the leek salad, that came before the tartare, enabled me to see Ian in a different light.

“Leek is a very humble vegetable,” Ian said, as he put the leeks on the grill. “It’s easy for people to overlook this vegetable. It’s just a leek! What can you do with a leek? So they say. They know they can do much with meat, for instance. But leek? But leek is special, too. You just need to see it closer. If you really ‘see’ the vegetable–even if it’s ‘just’ a leek, you can always cook delicious meals with it.”

I watched Ian as he gracefully moved around the kitchen, laying out some plates on the kitchen counter and peeling the outer layer of a grilled leek that had turned dark brown. “Nothing should go to waste,” he smiled as he put the brownish peels on an empty bowl. “You can even use these peels to make leek powder. Just put them in the oven for a little while, and when they’re dry enough, you can crush them into a powder. It’s crunchy and tasty, and adds colour and texture to your salad.”

This was when I realised the fact that I had just witnessing mindfulness taking place in the kitchen. Ian’s message is a message that translates not only to cooking, but also to living. How often do we overlook the small things in our lives, taking things for granted, or wasting the things we already have? How often do we wish to have ‘some meat’ instead of ‘just a leek’–believing that we’d be happier that way?

“See. The ingredients do not compete on the plate. They just complement each other,” Ian smiled, as he prepared the leek salad on the plate–and sprinkled it with leek powder. “Here. Now, try this!”

Leek salad

***

When I meet people I admire, I don’t ask them much about their success. I ask them about their failures, their hardships, their darkest days. I ask them about what happens when the lights go out and the curtains are closed. I guess it helps me to see people as human beings–with their ups and downs, plus and minuses. No matter who we are, we are all fighting our own struggles. It’s easy for us to be envious (or jealous) when it comes to seeing other people’s success. But will we be that easily envious (or jealous) if we only knew what they’ve had to go through to get there?

“I chose my career over my marriage,” Ian said as he tapped his glass with his fingers lightly. “I guess… it’s something that just happens. There will come a day when we have to face difficult choices in our lives, and we have to make a decision about it, and then live with it.”

I could see where this was coming from; especially after Ian mentioned that he couldn’t remember the last time he went traveling not for work. Even when we met in Jakarta, he was on a work tour together with Victorian Government Business Office.

“It’s hard, you know. It’s hard to really know people–or a country, when you arrive at the airport and someone with a fancy car is already there, waiting for you. And you are taken into a nice hotel, people treat you nicely,  you meet the press, and then you go to a really nice kitchen to cook, and then go back to the hotel. You don’t get to see the real things,” Ian shrugged his shoulders. “That’s why I like to connect with real people. When I’m back from my work tour, I go to my restaurant’s kitchen. And I feel sane again. There are my staff, they just want to work and make money and go home to their families. To them, I am not a celebrity chef. And I think this real interaction is what keeps me sane, what keeps me real, what keeps me grounded.”

***

“You know, when you are blessed with so many things in your life, you just have to give back,” said Ian.

steak tartare

I smiled, knowing by heart that he was right. Before, Ian told me about his TV show, Conviction Kitchen, where he teach life skills to recent inmates. I wondered if this choice of working with inmates had something to do with his past in London–when he ran into trouble with the police.

This reminded me of a friend who ran away from his port-city life by the sea in Vladivostok; only to find himself being pulled in by other port cities and sea-related works in different parts of the world. Some of us are running away from an event (or a place) in our past, only to find out that we’re being reconnected again with it in different ways, at certain times in our lives. It’s like a calling–a missing link that helps us to understand the reason why we need to go through certain things in our lives; no matter how unpleasant they may be.

***

Ian runs his restaurant, European, in 161 Spring Street, Melbourne, and still travels all around the world–from time to time, from one kitchen to another.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

A Parisian Note: A Reminder “To Feel”

It was not Louvre. It was Musee d’Orsay I fell deeply in love with.

From one floor to another, from one alley to the next, those enchanting paintings and sculptures never ceased to amaze me.

PHOTO BY HANNY KUSUMAWATI

At times, silently, I hovered around some visitors who were accompanied by a guide–most probably an art student–and eavesdropped as the guide explained the symbolism behind “the color orange” or “the appearance of a tiger” used in a certain painting.

I do not ‘understand’ art–though I wish I do. Eavesdropping the guide’s detailed explanations suddenly threw me away to another miraculous realm–where all shades, shapes, lines, tints, colors, brush strokes, hues, shadows… hide deeper meanings then what the eyes can see.

But the deeper meanings behind the paintings in Musee d’Orsay struck me on the 5th floor–where they exhibit the works of the ‘impressionists’, like Monet and Renoir. It might not be a coincidence that one of my most impressive moments in Paris happened exactly there.

I was sitting on a bench overlooking walls of paintings, resting my feet while looking at the museum’s guidebook. In front of me, a father and his son stood side by side. I guessed they were African-American. Both were dressed stylishly–very Parisian in a way.

“I don’t understand this!” the son, most probably a 9 or 10-year-old, let out a sigh of desperation. “We keep looking at these paintings and I just don’t understand what to make of them!”

The father turned his face towards the boy and smiled.  He casually lowered himself so that the two of them were on the same height, and then he said, “Hey, man. It’s okay if you don’t understand. You don’t have to understand it. You just need to feel it.”

There was a pause in the air, and I realized that I was actually holding my breath.

“Now here, look at this painting here,” finally the father pointed out at a painting and looked at his son once again. “Do you feel anything by looking at it? Just recognize how you feel about it. That’s it. Just note the feeling.”

“What if I feel nothing?” the boy asked.

“If you feel nothing–nothing at all, then just move on to the next painting,” the father smiled calmly.

That conversation was the first thing I wrote in my notebook that day. Later that evening, the conversation was still playing ever-so-vividly in my mind.

It struck me how often we feel as if we need to understand things in life, and–just like the little boy–get frustrated when we couldn’t find an answer. We said things like, I-don’t-understand-him or I-just-don’t-know-what-to-do or I-just-don’t-get-it all the time, in a sigh of desperation–as if not understanding or not knowing or not getting ‘it’ was something wrong; as if it was our fault; as if we were not trying hard enough.

But how often do we stop trying to understand ‘it’, and start feeling ‘it’ instead? To simply see things as it is and just recognize the feelings that are welling up slowly from the inside? How often do we give a chance for our hearts to just completely feel, without having our minds interfering?

When the feeling has surfaced, actually we will only have two rhetorical questions left: is this the kind of feeling we want in our life, or is this the kind of feeling we do not want in our life? When we have come to these two questions, an answer is no longer needed. We just intuitively know.

And on those particular moments when we “feel nothing”…
are we ready to move on to the ‘next painting’?

Tagged , , , , , ,

6 Ways To Live The Life You’ll Love.

This is an unbranded sponsored content; but the content is written solely by me,
and brought to you with love, as always :)

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………

When we let other people write our life story, we are signing ourselves up for disappointment. When we let our parents, our friends, our boss, our colleagues, or some celebrities shape the way we view the world, decide what we are supposed to like or dislike, or define how success looks like; we are actually living their life instead of ours.

What life would be like if you can write your own life story—and be really honest about what is it that you really want? About what is it that really matters to you? If no one can give you any pressure, if you don’t have to answer to anyone, if you don’t have to find excuses, what kind of life do you want for yourself? Write your own story.

___

Once you have envisioned the life you really want for yourself, start taking small steps to actually live your dream life. Whenever you’re about to make a decision—no matter how small, look at your own life story–the one you have written on your own; and ask yourself: “Is this decision going to take me closer to my dream life?”

You need a strong will. You can always dream of an ideal life, but you can only get there with a commitment on your side to get closer to it every single day. Follow your dreams.

___

If there are things you’re really good at, if there are things you really love with all your heart, if there are things you’re truly interested in, pursue it with perseverance. It is not a coincidence that the word passion was derived from a Latin word that means: to suffer.

Passion is overrated. The real question is: what do you want to do with the thing you’re so passionate about? Do you want to keep working on it? Do you want to be better in it? Do you want to master it? Do you want to do something good with it? Do you want to share it with those who need it? How much you’d willing to suffer for your passion is what separates movers from dreamers. Pursue your passion.

___

Make sure that you do your very best in every single thing that you do, no matter what it is. Brewing a cup of coffee, preparing a simple lunch, getting caught in a terrible traffic jam, mopping the floor, hugging a friend, holding your lover’s hands… whatever you do, always strive to give your best at that very moment.

Always ask yourself, how can I give more? How can I make people happier or feeling better after they interact with me? How can I offer more of myself, my skills, my talents—or anything else that I have to the people around me?

Deliver the unexpected. When someone is asking you for a cup of coffee, give him a cup of coffee and a slice of banana cake on the side, with a personalized thank-you note. Give them more. Give them more of you, and give more to yourself, too. Try doing this in every aspect of your life, and you’ll see how it will change you from the inside.

___

As a struggling perfectionist when it comes to my passion-driven projects, I find solace in the book SHOW YOUR WORK by Austin Kleon. He told us to simply show our passion project and share it to the whole wide world—even if it’s just a tiny bit of it, every single day.

If you want to write a novel, write 1 page a day and in a year you will have a 365-page novel. If you want to have a food photography exhibition, take a picture of a person’s breakfast every single day, and in a year you’ll have a collection of 365 breakfast meals of 365 people. But just do something, now.

Don’t wait for something to be perfect, because it will never be. Don’t wait until you get better at something, because you will always want to be better than better. Don’t wait until something happens, because you won’t have any guarantee that it will happen. Stop making excuses. Just go ahead.

___

Step out of your comfort zone. Do the things you won’t normally do. Change the ordinary. Face your fear. Do not settle for less.

The more it feels challenging or frightening; the more reason you need to do it: because it means that you’re about to cross a junction in your life that will take you further in life. The idea here is not to be successful in it. If you’re afraid of riding a roller coaster, you are allowed to ride on it while closing your eyes and screaming your heart out and crying excessively afterwards.

It is okay.

What’s important is to know that you have tried. It’s just like those times when you dare yourself to fall in love again and find your heart broken again, but you end up smiling after a while, knowing that it only makes you stronger. Because you know that you have the capacity to love someone so much and that you will always have the courage to try again.

You just need to remind yourself again and again, about how strong you are. To know that no matter what life throws out at you, you’ll be ready to face it, because you know everything will be okay; that you will always survive.

ALL PHOTOS BY HANNY KUSUMAWATI
Tagged , , , , , , ,

SPICES: A Valentine’s Writing Boudoir

SOLD OUT!

If you are:

  • A woman, 22 years old or above and
  • A single woman looking for something exciting to do this Valentine’s Day, or
  • A woman in a relationship but having no plan to spend Valentine with your partner-in-love, or
  • A married woman, but somehow crave a private women-only connections over the weekend

If you answered ‘yes’ to those questions:

Maybe SPICES is something for you. Because aren’t we all–publicly or secretly–wanting to spice up our lives, in one way or another?

Which is why I’ve decided to hold SPICES: a one-of-a-kind Valentine’s writing boudoir at a secret loft somewhere in Central Jakarta (this Saturday, February 14, 2015). There will be heart-warming girls’ talk, writing sessions, luscious sweets and savories, caffeinated giggles, seductive music, intuitive dialogues… and many more.

Click here for details. And let’s spice up our Saturday’s Valentine.


photo credit: Journal BW via photopin (license)
photo credit: IMG_1792 via photopin (license)
photo credit: CHOCOLATE CAKE!!! via photopin (license)
photo credit: Flickering flames of the Diwali diya via photopin (license)
photo credit: via photopin (license)
photo credit: IMG_1792 via photopin (license)

Tuesday: A Celebration of Acceptance.

[dedicated to n.n.]

Tuesday is the day when mixed emotions are starting to get into you–sometimes they irritate you to the point where you feel like you’re about to boil up in rage or break down in tears any time soon. It seems like challenges, obstacles, and responsibilities are being thrown your way every now and then, and they start to weigh you down. It’s hard, difficult, and overwhelming, but you know that you just have to appear… fine.

Tuesday by Nico WijayaPHOTO BY NICO WIJAYA.

But you know that you are not. You are not fine. You are not okay.

Sometimes you feel so tired pretending to be so strong and in control all the time while you are actually stressed and frustrated and afraid and worried and confused. You feel as if you have to be the strong one on behalf of everybody else’s sake, and after a while, it feels suffocating. Sometimes you ask yourself why it seems like you’re the only one who is making an effort. Why it seems like you’re the only one who tries. Why it seems like you’re the only one who cares.

But Tuesday is a celebration of acceptance. This is the day when you can tell yourself, that it is okay to not be okay. You can’t be fine all the time and it’s fine–because we’re all human after all. You make mistakes and let things slip through the cracks. Things don’t go as planned and relationships don’t end up with a happily-ever-after. But such is life.

We do things we regret sometimes, and say the things we do not mean other times. There are moments when we hurt people we love or break a promise we have once made. It’s only human to be imperfect, and it’s okay to admit this. To accept the fact that we do screw things up sometimes and that we make mistakes every once and a while, because this is how we learn our lessons. And Tuesday is a celebration of acceptance. It’s a day to celebrate the way you accept yourself in your entirety: accepting the fact that it’s okay not to be okay, accepting your past mistakes and regrets, accepting a side of you you’re not to keen about, accepting the bumps and imperfections you’re about to encounter in life.

And exactly because this is the way you are and this is the way life is, there are times when you just need to reach out to those around you. To seek help. To deliver an apology. To ask for guidance. To mend broken relationships. To say the things you’ve kept hidden for so long. And to let someone to take care of you.

Because those people you love and those who love you, they need to know that there will be times when you need them, too–just as much as they need you.

Monday: A Celebration of Labor

[inspired by a.b.]

Monday is waking up early in the morning to the sound of the alarm clock, knowing that it’s time to venture out and embrace the challenges and opportunities that will soon come your way, and both are equally promising. It’s a day when you remember that the word passion is derived from the Latin word patior–which means to suffer or to endure. You know that there’s beauty behind your sweat and tears and fatigue, as there is labor behind every dream that comes to life. And you–you have your eyes on your destination already, knowing that you’ll get there eventually, and that you’re not going to give up so easily.

Monday by Nico Wijaya

PHOTO BY NICO WIJAYA.

Monday is a celebration of labor. It’s the day when you’re most grateful for having the ability to give a part of yourself to serve others; for having the skills that is needed by the people around you; for having the capability to solve a particular problem; for having the patience to persevere when everyone else has given up; for having the desire to bring your best self in every single thing that you do.

This is the day to remind yourself that everyone has their own role in the world, and no role is too small if you put all your heart into it. You know that feeling of being dead tired as you finished your day, and as you finally climb into your bed at night, already half-asleep, you feel all your muscles relaxing and then you realize that you are smiling: because you know that today you have given all of you: all you can, and even more.

There is a good kind of fatigue, like the kind you have after running a marathon or washing your car or preparing dinner for the whole family–and this is one of those fulfilling fatigue. You can feel the difference when the fatigue is satisfying; when you know that you can’t do today better because you’ve done your best. Because you have used all the skills and talents you’ve acquired along the years. Because you have given your 100% percent to the task and it always feels amazing.

Monday is the day to rekindle your relationship with why you’re doing the things you do. It’s the day to curl up with the reason behind your waking up early in the morning or your coming home late at night, the flame behind attending those long meetings and typing for 8 hours non-stop until your fingers hurt, the dreams behind braving the storm on your motorcycle in the afternoon and the hellish traffic jam in the evening.

You know that you’re enduring all this for a beautiful reason (or a beautiful person), and so let Monday be your celebration of labor. To know that no matter who you are, no matter what you do, you do make a difference in someone else’s lives (and yours), every single day–even if you (and them) do not realize it, yet.

And so thank you.

Thank you for doing what you do, and for pouring your heart into it today.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 12,813 other followers

%d bloggers like this: