We’re not here to find our voice, because we have never lost it. Maybe we forget about its existence, maybe we rarely make a sound, maybe we choose to whisper. But we have always carried that voice within us since the beginning of time, like that stillness at the bottom of the ocean. And we will always carry that voice along our journey until the end of time, like that crippling second when the last layer of mist disappears, revealing everything we have accidentally missed.
We are here to find the song for our voice.
Not just a random song, because there are far too many songs out there, and some are way out of our vocal ranges, and some always come out off-key as we sing it, and some have been claimed or sung much better by others and we could not make it ours no matter how hard we try, and some… well, we just don’t like the music.
We are here not only to find our voice or our song, but we are here to find THE SONG FOR OUR VOICE.
It’s like something destined, a perfect match, something that vibrates your vocal cords naturally, effortlessly, flawlessly, and as you strike that first note, it would submerge you under the rolling waves of sound you’ve never thought could’ve ever st(r)eamed out of the depth of your soul.
The days are getting shorter, and I can smell autumn in the distance, coming closer.
The farms along the Amstel displayed their best pumpkins. The supermarket ran out of cinnamon powder. The animals give off a rounder appearance as if they are enveloped in an oversized knitted scarf: fluffy sheep, fluffy pigeons, fluffy ducks. The dogs were wrapped in thermal clothes.
There has been plenty of rain (which I love) and I’ve been baking batches of chewy chocolate cookies because they just smell… festive. The other day, a friend delivered Indonesian food in the morning: chicken porridge, street-style fried rice, and ketoprak (some sort of warm salad with peanut sauce). One of my favorite past time is coming home–through food.
The number of infections from COVID-19 in the Netherlands was quite alarming this month; so we spent more time at home. I changed my capsule wardrobe last week, replacing my sleeveless linen tops and summer dresses with sweaters and hoodies. All the blankets are out from the cupboards.
I was so used to expressing myself as the ‘creative tropical girl’ through the clothes I’m wearing. The sleeveless linen dress. Jeans and a short-sleeved shirt with a light cardigan. Oversized blouse and denim shorts. Flat shoes, leather sandals, or sneakers.
I feel like I’m so… ‘me’ in them; and I just miss that feeling.
Sometimes, dressing in layers and layers of thermal clothes, with boots, bulky sweaters, and coats… I feel like I am losing myself. Who are you? This isn’t you. (well, probably, we’re not really talking about clothes here, eh?)
So, last week, I tried to be creative (which I may be lacking a little these days) with my capsule wardrobe. I chopped and cropped some pants and sweaters. I tried layering my summer wardrobe with my winter ones–to find a combination where I could still feel like myself; but also feel warm. I started dressing up again in the morning every now and then, even though I won’t leave the house. Eyeliner. Eyebrow pencil. Lip balm.
When I first moved here to the Netherlands and had to get some winter clothes, I was only thinking of getting something basic, low-maintenance, functional, and practical, preferably in blue, grey, or black (after so many cycles of washing, my grey sweater shrunk; so cute, though!). But I realized I do miss having colors in my life.
I am trying to be more mindful and minimalist with my wardrobe (one in one out, necessary buying only, leaning towards thrift stores or responsible brands), so at this point, one way to add colors into my life without buying more clothes is through accessories.
I want to make my own jewelry again; from clay, or woods, or yarns, something that can make me feel like I am wearing myself, my colors, my creativity. (Maybe everyone will get handmade jewelry this Christmas!)
I have been browsing for some inspirations for statement jewelry and although I know how to make pendants and earrings from clay, woods, or yarns, I have never made a ring with these materials. (I ‘made’ silver rings on a silver workshop, though).
Funny, because actually rings are my favorite piece of jewelry and whenever I shop for jewelry, I am always attracted to rings the most. So, I guess, it’s something I’d like to do for the end of the year: making my own statement rings and bring back some colors into my wardrobe (and my life, for that matter.)
There’s a saying that you’ll be more creative when you’re facing constraints and limitations. There’s a psychology behind it, and I have to say that it’s true.
I realized how I’ve been trying out new things and avenues since I got here. Designing a journal with a stationery brand, making my own stickers, opening my online shop, binding my own journal inserts, accepting commissions for my illustration works, learning how to make animated GIFs, editing videos…
Even in Indonesian, we often say, “Kreatif karena kepepet” which refers to a situation where you just need to be creative because you must, because that’s the only way you can survive”.
At the moment, I think working with my art, journaling a lot, and trying to be creative despite what is happening in the world is how I am going to survive this upcoming winter.
>>> Click here to download my morning journaling prompt <<<
Morning journaling has become a part of my morning routine for years. I find this practice helps me to ease into my day gently, with more awareness and clarity about my state of being (how I feel, what I’ve been thinking, etc.) before the rush of the day begins. It’s a way for me to find my ‘calm’ in the morning, something that keeps me centered and grounded.
It took only 4.5 – 5 minutes for me to do this practice but it’s enough to help me approach and plan the day better. For instance, how I would structure and plan my day would be different for the days when I woke up feeling groggy, grumpy, and tired, and the days when I woke up feeling cheerful, inspired, and energized. This is my way of checking in and reconnecting with myself, to see what I need more or less of on a particular day.
This video explains more about my morning journaling practice, and the journaling prompts I use (that can be downloaded here):
Do you have any morning journaling practice? Do you journal in the morning or work on your morning pages? Feel free to share your practice and journaling prompts down below! I would love to hear from you!
Because, sometimes, we don’t have to figure everything out to start something.
Because, sometimes, not knowing is part of the journey, and knowing how the story ends is merely an unwanted spoiler.
Because, sometimes, striving for perfection only takes the fun out of everything we do.
Because, sometimes, we don’t need to know exactly where we’re going.
Because, sometimes, we just need to be on our way: knowing that we can pack our bag and leave, but also knowing that we can change our destination, or stay longer somewhere, or… we can come home.
Because, sometimes, we don’t have to be able to do and be everything.
Because, sometimes, we can stop, or cry, or get frustrated.
Because, sometimes, we are allowed to feel tired and exhausted.
Because, sometimes, we can give up on some things and slowly pick up the pace to start new ones all over again.
Because, sometimes, we don’t have to aim for success.
Because, sometimes, failing is also an option.
Because, sometimes, we just need to try things out and make mistakes and go back to zero.
Because, sometimes, we don’t have to live the idea of a big flashy life if we’re not resonating with it.
Because, sometimes, we can live one tiny step at a time: to wake up slowly and smile, to sniff the rainy clouds and serve our simple lunch on a pretty plate, to fall in love and wash the dishes and be goofy, to pluck our brittle nails and laugh at our Pinterest fails.
To start, read some random pages of your journal(s), quickly. Start from the first page, then randomly flipping it to the next pages, until you arrived at your latest entry. Just skim those pages for about 10-15 minutes.
1. the choice of words
What are some of the words that pop into our mind or catch our eyes as we’re reading our journal(s)?
Write them down.
What kind of words are they? How do these words make us feel?
Notice some words that make us feel happy, uplifted, and warm, and underline these words with our pen.
Notice some words that make us feel angry, sad, or down.
Which set of words do we use more often when we’re talking to ourselves or thinking about our life?
How can we converse better with ourselves by paying more attention to our choice of words?
2. the theme of our journal(s)
If there’s a one-word theme for our journal(s), what would that be?
How do we feel about this theme?
Why do we think our journal(s) is concentrated around this particular theme?
How does this theme reflect the theme of our life?
What would life look like if we’re following this theme?
What would life look like if we change the theme?
3. the ones on repeat
Find the top 3 things that appear in our journal(s) repeatedly, over and over again.
What are they?
A particular person?
A particular issue?
A particular dream?
Why do we keep talking about these 3 things over and over again?
What are their significances in our lives?
What do these 3 things represent or symbolize?
If we can rewrite these 3 things, how would we rewrite them to better fit our narratives about how we’d like our life to look/feel like?
On his 41st birthday, the sun retreated for a while. The windows were open and the cool breeze whisked our bread dough into the oven.
A bowl of summer pasta salad, a bite of tiramisu for breakfast, leftover rice and egg whites, fried.
I spent my time in the studio: reading, journaling, and enjoying the wind caressing my skin. Thunders rumbled in the distance and the sky dripped tiny drops of water on the terrace.
The evening whispered past the empty boats, the bridges, the road closures. The canal hosted bowls and bowls of food: baked potatoes, bruschetta, tortilla chips with tomato dips, Greek salad. We toasted for another year, the smooth crema di limoncello and cans of 0% Radler.
Things were so loud on the surface but underneath them all, the deeper you went, the more silent they became. Wasted words were muffled by things left unsaid. Aggression and criticism were set aside for an honest confession: I am scared, I am afraid, I am worried.
Sometimes I wonder why people say things at all.
I am okay with silence.
Silence is not awkward.
You don’t have to fill the air.
The air is amazing the way it is.
I felt like the summer is over, and it was okay. Today I woke up to a cloudy sky and it reminded me of a celebration of an ending. I welcomed the weather and smiled. What a beautiful day.