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Naturally, I don’t like workouts.

Maybe because there’s the word ‘work’ in it—that makes it feel like another thing I need to tick off from my to-do list; a chore; a responsibility. However, I enjoy movement, and I feel the need to move my body every single day. To me, it’s about ‘celebrating what my body can do’ (I read this somewhere, and it really encapsulates how I feel).

There are some weeks when I am diligently roll out my yoga mat late in the afternoon or following some strength training and boxing workouts on YouTube. There are some weekends when I go into the natural parks and have a 12-kilometre hike. But there are also many days when I just feel too tired, too heavy, or too sad to do such things.

However, I am trying to make movement a part of my daily life, and one way to do so is by incorporating mindfulness practice into it.

Let’s call it mindful movement.

Listening to my body

I know when I need to move because my body tells me so. When I wake up in the morning with a stiff shoulder. When I go about my days feeling lethargic. When I have spent 2 hours in front of the computer.

I think our body communicates with us every time. The urge to stretch your arms or legs after a long working day, for instance. I realised that if I listen to my body more, and do check-ins from time to time throughout the day, I can hear when it needs me to move. It could be to just stand up and do a stretch, to walk around the house picking up dirty laundry or to do some quick jumps in place to increase my heart rate. 

Finding what feels good

When I feel angry or agitated that I wish I could punch something, I will do some boxing exercises and channel my emotions through a 15-minute session of kicking and punching the air. When I feel solemn or cosy, I will go for a qi gong practice. When I feel good and energized, I’ll go for strength training. When I feel tired, I will go for a comforting and calming yin yoga session. When I feel like my head is full, I will go for a walk in the park or go swimming. When I feel sad and blue, I will put my wireless headphone on, turn on some of my favourite dance music, and do a silent disco in my room.

I find it important to find the right movement that corresponds to how I feel, my state of being, and my energy level.

When nothing feels good, I check if I am lacking nutrients. I take supplements sometimes, like B-12 vitamins and magnesium. When needed, you can check how you feel and shop for supplements to fulfil the nutrients you’re lacking.

Doing it my way

I know I’m not the kind of person who would commit to one type of exercise for a long time. I like to change things up a bit. I like to experiment. I know I like to exercise mostly alone or with the people I feel close to. I don’t find it comfortable to exercise surrounded by strangers. I don’t like it when someone shouts at me to ‘lift up my spirit’. I don’t enjoy competitiveness. I don’t like gyms with loud thumping and pumping music.

Knowing what I like or don’t like enables me to find the movement and exercise that works for me. I don’t need to be stressed out by doing exercises I don’t like in an environment that stresses me out.

Being aware of the present

I like to do my mindful movement in silence, without talking to anyone or watching something on Netflix. When I am walking outside, it’s nice to just walk and feel the ground beneath my feet, noticing the plants and wildflowers along the way, the smell of decaying woods, the chirping of the birds. When I am dancing, I just dance, feeling the beat of the music and move accordingly. When I swim, I just swim back and forth, feeling the way my body moves, that magical buoyance, the way the sunlight makes the lapping water sparkle, the faint smell of chlorine…

To me, it’s about being present with my body, with my movement, and my surroundings, to the point that I don’t really know what I’m doing anymore, I don’t think, I don’t command my body to do something… my body just moves, and my mind is still. Maybe it happens for only 2-3 minutes during the exercise—but that is enough time to feel the ‘euphoria’ of what I guess people often referred to as a “runner’s high”: when my mind is completely still and I feel like I am not moving, but I am the movement itself.

How about you? What’s your version of mindful movement?

hanny
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Dear friends,

2020 has challenged us in many ways, collectively. Some of us may have been ‘forced’ to spend more time with ourselves, more than ever. For some of us, this can also mean having to stay with things that don’t feel right, things that annoy us, scare us, tear our spirits down.

It isn’t easy to stay where we are when we can’t really go somewhere else or do not have many options to do so.

So, instead, we go deeper.

We embark on an inner journey to face the things we used to be able to distract ourselves from, things we used to be able to run away from, things we used to be able to push aside. This year, we sit with them, we stay with them, we look them in the eye, and here we are.

Despite everything, we’re here, still here, still trying to understand what this year has shown us, on a personal, collective, and global scale. This year, more than ever has shown us our true nature. Our fears, our dreams, our weaknesses, our strengths, have been brought into the spotlight.

Do we still respect, like, and love ourselves (our circles, our job, our environment, our friends, our families, our communities, our world), when we truly see them, when we have to sit, stay, and look at them without running away or turning our head the other way?

I hope, whatever the answer is, it would give us a reason to step into 2021 with a purpose, a mission.

Maybe the Path is still dark and we can only see a glimmer of light to take one step ahead without really knowing where we are heading; but it’s okay, too. It’s okay to just take that one step for today, and another step tomorrow. Also, do remember to look up from time to time because, in the dark, the sky lit up the stars, unrolling the map of our Souls.

May we find our brightest North Star guiding us to where our soul yearns to be.

I wish you a gentle 2021 with much love,

hanny
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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.

Mustard yellow.
Moss green.
Terracotta.
Pumpkin spice.

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.

I hope you are well, my friends.

Photo by Liam McGarry on Unsplash
Photo by Sarah Boudreau on Unsplash
Photo by Cayla Bamberger on Unsplash
hanny
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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.
It’s honest.
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.

Photo by Tanya Prodan on Unsplash
hanny
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I can’t believe it’s been almost 3 months since my self-isolation started.

1st MONTH

The first month was the month when I was trying to figure things out. There were still loads of worries and fears about what could happen and how it would affect my families and loved ones. I wrote in my journals almost every day, trying to understand what was happening inside of me and give things a bit of perspective. I stopped checking the news or updates surrounding the pandemic because I realized it didn’t do me any good.

I fell back into my meditation and journaling practice and did some light yoga or qi gong every now and then, to help me feel a bit more grounded. I did what I could, but then I also needed to accept the fact that I couldn’t do everything, help everyone, or control what was happening, and this was okay.

2nd MONTH

The second month was the month when I started to reconnect with friends, jumped into online meetings and calls. I knew I wasn’t fully ‘out there‘, yet. Some people were very productive during these times, and I sometimes felt like I didn’t do enough.

However, I tried to listen to my body and spent most of my time reading or learning without guilt-tripping myself. I felt like it was time for me to go inward instead of outward. Maybe I needed this month to refill myself, recover, and recharge?

3rd MONTH

The third month, the month of May, was the one where I felt most grounded. I felt the urge inside of me to move (both physically and mentally). I picked up on both client and personal projects, planned some stuff for the rest of the year, facilitated online courses and IG lives, and revisited some old projects with friends that got postponed or delayed.

And here are some of my favorites in May:

Books

  • Save The Cat!® Writes A Novel by Jessica Brody and Novelsmithing by David Sheppard. I think they are in my all-time top-3 books about the technical aspects of writing novels (especially when we talk about structures) alongside Story Genius by Lisa Cron. If you’ve been writing fiction for quite some time and have learned about the basics of story structure, character, plot, dialogue, etc., these books will give you more than the basics. Instead of telling you where you need to go, they give you a map and guide you on how to get there. They give you the blueprints for your story that you can really follow, step by step.
  • Ask The Passengers and Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King. I have a soft spot for young adult novels, but I have never read about A.S. King until I watched Ariel Bisett‘s recommendation on YouTube. I have been binging on her novels these days, and I love every single one I’ve read, but these two are definitely my favorites so far.

Movies/Series

  • Parasite. A movie that has been recommended by so many people, including my brother-in-law, and finally I could watch it on Viu. It started out light and funny but ended up so dark so fast. I don’t want to spill more details, but I think it’s really a movie that will make us rethink the way we interact with others. I love movies where you can see a reflection of yourself in each of its characters.
  • Unforgettable. A movie I watched on Viu, about a radio DJ that received a letter and song request from a listener, that brought him back to one summer when he was still a teenager, at a small beach town where he spent his time with his group of friends. This is such a simple, heart-warming story, but also a tear-jerker. I cried. A lot.
  • Another Child. Another one from Viu. About a teenager who found out that her father was having an affair with the mother of one of her school mates. It was such a touching story about a teenager that got caught in the middle of her parents’ drama and how she ‘found’ herself (and a friend) in the process.
  • Money Heist. A Netflix sensation my husband and I watched for days on end. The last time we did this kind of marathon was when we watched Stranger Things. Our friends already warned us that we should start watching Money Heist during the weeks when we didn’t have much to do because it was addictive. And it was! I wouldn’t think of myself as someone who would enjoy watching a heist movie, but Money Heist was addictive not only for the heist itself, but also for the drama and the character arches! I also watched the documentary at the end of Season 2, about how it went from a local series to a worldwide sensation; and listening to the team and the cast talking about it only convinced me about how much they love this production. It was truly a passion project.

Courses

Apps

  • Duolingo. I’ve been using this app for quite some time, but picking it up again during isolation to self-taught myself Italian, and a little bit of Dutch.
  • Blinkist. It’s an app that will give you a summary/key takeaways from popular books in around 15 minutes. I like to speed up the audio to 1.25x, so it’s around 10 minutes per book for me. Blinkist is an app to find out what the hype about a certain book is all about, get some nuggets from books you’ve heard about but haven’t had a chance to read, or to decide if a particular book piques your interest enough to be bought and read in its entirety. I like to listen to some books on personal development, creativity, and motivation & inspiration in the morning.
  • Gramedia Digital. I was late to notice that the biggest Indonesian publisher & bookstore chain has a premium package of IDR89,000,- per month; and you can read unlimited e-books under their collections. It’s a bargain for me, especially when I realized how many books they have under their Literature & Fiction collection!
  • FunRun 3. I’ve been playing this multiplayer racing game with my husband every day during our downtime. It’s a great way to bond and do some activities together, now that we can’t really go out much. Sure, we’ve been watching series/movies together, but playing games together (sometimes against one another) feels more active and fun!

What are some of your favorite books, movies, courses, or apps this month?

Do you find yourself having more time to read or chill, or on the contrary, you are even more swamped with work and other daily chores? (I know some of my friends find themselves much busier than the pre-pandemic time!)

Wherever you are and however you spend your time during these times, I hope you are well.

I hope you stay healthy, loving, and kind.

hugs,

hanny
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As an air sign, during times of disquietudes, I really need to keep myself grounded. It’s important for me to develop some personal grounding practices on a daily basis. ⁠

I realized that if I allow myself to fall into the rabbit hole of scrolling through various news outlets and reading commentaries about the current situation, I could get easily carried away in the ‘fight-or-flight’ response. ⁠

However, at times like these, I find it necessary to have a ‘faith-and-flow’ attitude towards life. To keep believing in humans and their capacity for loving and showing kindness towards one another (and towards other living beings!)—and to keep flowing with the changes instead of resisting.⁠

Surely, it’s easier said than done. And it’s exactly why I spend more time these days on grounding myself: from meditating, cleaning my space, folding my clothes, brewing rosella tea, doing qi gong and yoga exercise, listening to calming music (love Tibetan singing bowls), gazing at the swaying trees—following their movements, and of course, journaling.

When my mind is foggy and heavy, I pour everything down on paper to have some necessary release. It feels so natural and familiar to me, like seeing an old friend, like coming home to a place inside of me that has always been there all along.⁠

***

A few days ago, a friend of my husband dropped by with his motorbike to deliver his homemade ragù bolognese; before returning to his semi-isolation. Having to spend more time at home, he decided to stock up his fridge and cook more meals. He’s good with pasta sauce (and his carbonara is amazing) and I still remembered the day (before the pandemic) when he threw a successful gnocco fritto party.

In the evening, my husband and I boiled some pasta and heated the ragù. Sitting cross-legged on the floor of our bedroom, we ate our spaghetti bolognese with gratefulness. It was so delicious!

Suddenly, it dawned on me that maybe this was what it means to be present as who you are; even during times of crisis.

***

I could still recall the day when the pandemic started to escalate here in Indonesia, and I sensed a wave of worries and anxieties flushed over me from all the circulating news and rumors on the Internet. Then I stumbled upon a friend’s Instagram account, where she posted herself doing the dancing challenge to a cheerful song in TikTok.

I watched her dancing cheerfully; smiling and making funny expressions. She was having fun, I could tell. I could even feel her energy filling me with joy, and as she swung her arms and jumped and jerked, I noticed a smile on my face, and slowly, as I was feeling more pumped and excited, I finally felt like I came back to my senses. The feeling of hope started to fill me in, and I went to the shower, ready to start the day.

My meditation teacher started to provide more online guided meditation classes; from once a day to 4 times a day now. Another friend sent me stupid jokes and funny pictures from all over the Internet; another one kept updating me and her Instagram followers on various acts of kindness we can do during these tough times and which social initiatives we could support and send donations to. The sister-in-law of the Ibu who owns the house where we live, sent fresh towels for us the other day, and she folded the towels into a cute little elephant, with eyes made of leaves cut into small circles and a frangipani flower stuck on its trunk.

***

So, this is what I see: I see people trying to do what they can and lift each other’s up by being even more present as themselves, as who they are, in whatever they do.

Those who love to dance, dance. Those who can sing from the balcony, sing. Those who love to cook, cook. Those who fall in love, fall in love. Those who love to decorate, decorate. Those who love to get directly involved in the field, get involved. Those who love to donate to charities and social initiatives, donate. Those who love life, give life.

The underlying idea, I believe, is knowing that we can be present in these challenging times as who we are, honestly. To give as who we are and to give from Love. To know that there’s no act of Love that is too small, too unsubstantial, or too unimportant, even when it can seem small, unsubstantial, or unimportant.

So, today, take good care of yourself, the people you love.
When you can, be kind and be present as who you are.
Share the Love with the people around you.

I always think of Love as a wave of energy that touches others and creates a ripple that spread out further and further. We’ll never know where it began: how many lives it has touched, how many souls it has lifted up, how much hope it has infused in someone’s desperate times.

Let’s create those ripples.

hanny
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sky full of stars

The morning sunlight that spilled through the curtain bathed my bed in its early glow. I opened my eyes to the chirping of the birds and the rustling of the leaves faraway. Nobody worked in the rice fields today. Nobody started their motorbikes’ engines. Nobody shouted from the neighboring village. The world and its familiar noise disappeared.

At first, I thought: “How silent it was!”

But soon, the silence was filled with the hum of the refrigerator, the song of the cicadas, the buzzing of the bees flying around the bougainvilleas… and I could hear a bird (that perched itself on the branch of the frangipani tree) flapping its wings.

It was the Day of Silence for the Hindu Balinese. Nyepi; retreating from the hustle and bustle of the busy world. And the whole island was resting. Everybody stayed home. Everything was closed (even the airport!). Internet and phone signals were shut down. Lights were turned off.

I sipped my coffee downstairs, surrounded by the Ibu’s orchids, listening to mantras from my headphones while journaling my thoughts for the day. This was the first day since the Covid-19 outbreak that I didn’t start my morning by checking my phone for the latest updates. Today, the world was limited only to the one in front of me: the rice fields, the garden, the orchids, the terrace. I didn’t (and couldn’t) know anything past this.

***

I spent the rest of the day reading Ali Wong’s Dear Girls and Katherine Marsh’s Nowhere Boy, napping, doing yoga (for creativity), preparing lunch (rice) and dinner (pasta), meditating, and finally, at night, after showering, I went out to the upstairs balcony with my husband to gaze at the stars.

As all the lights stayed off across the island, the sky was now full of these glimmering specks and twinkling dust. From the rice field, the fireflies came into view, flickering.

It was magical.

At that moment, I felt so connected to everything above and beyond our world, our Universe. After weeks of uncertainties, of going about my days while trying to navigate my fears and worries, last night I finally felt fine.

It dawned on me that the stars had always been there. The sky I could see from the upstairs balcony had always looked THAT magical. I just didn’t notice it on regular days because the lights that surrounded me dimmed the radiance of the stars.

But it was always the same sky; with the same amount of stars.

***

Sometimes, to see the stars, we need to turn off the lights and be in the dark for a while. Maybe, that is what we’re experiencing at the moment. I wish, in this situation, I can choose to see not only the darkness but also the stars.

I hope you are, too.

hanny
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Sipping coffee is our way to fall in love with the bittersweet.

It always begins with a closed door.

And from what it allows us to glimpse upon, our heart is pounding with curiosity. Should we come in? Should we give it a chance? Will we like it? Will we regret it?

Most of the time, we decided to take that chance. To swing the door open and walk in, wishing to find something.

Anything.

There are times in our lives when something, anything, is better than nothing.

Sometimes, we fall for the welcoming smell of fresh-brewed coffee, the 3D latte art, the friendly bandana-wearing barista, the pretty ceramic mugs, the excellent selection of background music… and some other times, we don’t.

Sometimes, as we peered inside from the window, we thought it’s going to be cozy, inviting, gezellig. Until we realized that while some things are better seen close-up, some others are better seen only from a distance.

But, no matter what, usually, we stay for a while with a cup of coffee, waiting to see if we’ll change our minds. Some of us stay too long to be able to notice what’s wrong. Some of us leave too soon to notice what’s right. Some of us stay long enough to see what is, and leave soon enough not to see things we’d rather not.

However, in the end, like it or not, we all must leave. Even those 24-hour coffee shops can close down, move to another location, be shut down for a renovation, or the owner simply has a change of heart.

Still, sipping coffee is our way to fall for the bittersweet.

Because there are some particular stages in our lives when bittersweet is better than just bitter. When a once-opened door is better than one that is never opened. When leaving an about-to-be-locked premise is better than being locked up.

At least, we’ve taken the chance to walk through that door, place our order, sit down, and sip our coffee. At least we’ve experienced what it has to offer.

We know that there are still so many coffee shops out there. The ones we haven’t heard of, the ones we haven’t peered into, the ones we haven’t visited before.

One day, if we take a chance and swing the door open, one of them may steal our hearts.

hanny
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When meditating feels hard, I watch a candle or an incense burn in silence. I fix my gaze onto the flame, the glowing dot; following each movement and noticing each moment of changes; no matter how minuscule: that second when the candle melt, when something flickers, when the ashes fall.

In the evening, I listen to this and this, beautiful music from Toshi Arimoto. I lit up some of my favorite scented candles and sit cross-legged on the couch in the dim-lit room. I close my eyes and start breathing following the rhythm of his music. I find this activity really soothing and I can tell that my body is enjoying it. I also realized that since I am concentrating to breathe according to the rhythm, my mind doesn’t wander as easily. I’ll do this breathwork for 20-30 minutes, and I always feel calmer and more grounded afterward.

hanny
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Hanny illustrator
Hi. I'm HANNY
I'm a published writer and a writing/creative workshop facilitator based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. In Indonesian, 'beradadisini' means being here. So, here I am, documenting life—one word at a time.

hanny

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