Setting boundaries and not letting other people completely drain your willpower, attention, hope, and energy: self-care. Communicating what you need or want clearly, in a calm manner, instead of repressing, denying, or being passive-aggressive about it: self-care. Stop making excuses and start making time to work on your dreams: self-care. Seeking (professional) help when it feels like you can’t keep yourself afloat anymore: self-care. Stop caring about what random people think of you and start caring about how you think about yourself: self-care.

Standing up for yourself when necessary: self-care. Closing or quitting a chapter in your life, career, or relationship that does not align with whom you want to be and how you want to live your life—then preparing yourself for a new journey: self-care. Feeling under the weather, not wanting to do anything, and not feeling guilty about it: self-care.

Moving on: also self-care.
Working on your issues: self-care.
Sorting out your finances: self-care.
Taking care of your health: self-care.
Not taking things too personally: self-care.
Forgiving yourself: self-care.

In the end, self-care is not always about doing the things that make us feel good or give us instant gratification. It’s also about doing the RIGHT thing: something that is good for us in the long run—even if it may feel hard at times.



I believe that we can have our own self-care rituals that can be done at home without having to spend a lot of money. Sure, self-care can sometimes be about treating ourselves (getting that manicure, going on that vacation, staying at that nice B&B); but this is not the only way. Self-care doesn’t have to be expensive. We have other options. It’s not only about ‘the treat’—but also about how we treat ourselves. I believe that self-care is not only about having fun. It also takes discipline and patience—just like how you would care for a plant.

So, here is a list of self-care activities you can do starting today:


Take a long shower. While you are showering and lathering your body with soap, bless and thank all your body parts from head to toe.


Eat when you are hungry. Drink when you are thirsty. Rest when you are tired. Cry when you feel the need to. Listen to your body.


Say kind things to yourself throughout the day. Appreciate and compliment yourself.


Massage your neck, shoulder, legs, upper arms, or other body parts that feel stiff with your favorite massage oil. Wish these body parts well while you massage yourself.


Eat from your favorite plate. Drink from your favorite mug. Write with your favorite pen. Surround yourself with the things you love. Enjoy the nice things you have.


Hug yourself in the morning, under the blanket. Smile when you see your reflection in the mirror as if you’re smiling at a good friend.


Remember to breathe deeply and give your body a little stretch throughout your day.


When you catch yourself comparing yourself to others or talking harshly to yourself, stop and do something else. Jump. Stretch. Do a silly dance. Listen to your favorite song. Go make yourself a cup of tea.


Keep the promises you make to yourself. You deserve to be treated with respect by yourself.


When you close your eyes, stop the temptation to replay past hurts or mistakes. Instead, imagine all the wonderful things you would like to experience in the future.


Wishing you a beautiful self-care moment,


In August, I attended a friend’s ceramic and illustration exhibition and gasped at her beautiful work: a giant dog and smaller ones, tiny turtles, wonky tulips, green grasses and bushes, colorful snakes. Everything was so cheerful, so playful, so summery! Her exhibition started as her graduation project—where one of her teachers questioned her cute and joyful park. “Where are the drug dealers and the homeless?”

“How did you reply to that?” I asked her.
“Well,” she said. “I told them this is how I remember parks. These are the things I see when I walk on a summer day at the park.”
“It’s your park,” I nodded.


One afternoon, this conversation came to mind as I sat at my desk at one of Ubud’s co-working spots. We arrived a few weeks before, from the best Amsterdam summer in years: I was walking around with shorts and sleeveless tops all day, drinking cold water from the fridge and dragging our living room carpet to Vondelpark for a nap.

But the rainy season is coming to Ubud. I wake up to rain and inch out of bed only when the coffee has been served on the terrace, wrapped in a jacket and smelled of minyak telon. I don’t mind this kind of weather. It feels like home.

I haven’t been writing a lot these past two years. I haven’t been sharing a lot as well. I didn’t have the mental capacity to do so. Moving to Amsterdam during the pandemic—with lockdowns and curfews, far from friends and families, didn’t sit well with me. I was sad most of the time. Angry, other times. Small things triggered my insecurities. I wrote in my journals almost every day, and usually, I ended up crying or feeling empty.

So I didn’t write a lot, and I didn’t share a lot. Not because I only wanted to share happy things but because I hadn’t processed my sadness. It was still too raw to share, and sharing it felt irresponsible. I wanted to take it slow, to sit with the feeling until it peaks, transforms, or passes—without feeling like I had to hurry the process.

I read a lot.
I made art and learned how to paint with acrylics.
I filled up sketchbooks.
I even started running (thanks to my persistent and supportive husband).

I cooked daily because food is my comfort, medicine, and security blanket. The stove was busy with pans and pots, the four burners occupied. I made chicken porridge, eggplant rendang, stuffed tofu, Kalasan fried chicken, shrimp with salted egg, liver in sweet soy sauce and margarine, and vegetable dumplings. It was my way of bringing home (or the feeling of home) closer: everything that is nostalgic, familiar, and missed.


A few months after I moved to Amsterdam, an editor friend asked me to write a book about living there. When I arrived in Jakarta after two years, she asked me, “What happened with the book?” I said, “I couldn’t do it yet.” I tried many times, but everything I wrote came out angry, sad, and ugly—whereas Amsterdam was depicted as a cold, hostile, and menacing city (it’s NOT!). I was too wrapped up in my sadness that I couldn’t see things objectively, let alone write about it.

Another friend of mine, upon hearing this, told me, “Maybe you can start writing in Ubud. Maybe distance gives you perspective.”

That was when the ‘park’ conversation came to me.


Sure, there are many things in the park—and if we’re observant, we’ll see everything during our walks.

Sometimes we need to see things we don’t wish to see and sit with that. To think of what we can do or accept what we aren’t capable of doing (yet). But there are also times when we can choose to capture things that uplift us, things that will make us smile and feel hopeful.

Our mind is a park.
My mind is a park.

grounding at the park,
stepping barefoot on the grass,
look out for dog poo.

—my lousy attempt in haiku.

When my park is dark and stormy, I’d prefer not to have people walk around there. It’s not safe. The trees may fall, the storm may soak you wet, and the wind howls so loud you cannot hear anything. But when my park is lush and sunny, I’ll be happy to have people come over: to smell the flowers, nap under the tree, enjoy a picnic accompanied by the dogs, the ducks, and the birds, or play catch.

And I’ll share the stories about the dark and stormy nights on a warm, sunny day.


Dear friends,

Happy New Year 2022! Wherever you are, whoever you’re with, I hope you’re all well, healthy, and safe. As usual, on the last few days of the Previous Year and the first few days of the New Year, I will spend some time journaling. Not so much about creating a resolution of some sort, but more about taking the time to reflect and refocus—like doing warm-ups before going on a long hike.

Here are some journaling prompts I have been using this year to ease my way into 2022.

Feel free to go through each one and notice if some of them (or maybe all of them?) are calling out to you.


They are things that you want to keep, remember, and cherish, either because they remind you of the things you’re good at, how strong or blessed you are, or because they teach you a valuable lesson about life, or because they give you an experience that opens up your horizon and change your perspective. Do you see any resemblance between them?


Despite all those challenges, here you are. You are still here. Know that you can thrive at one thing and barely survive another, that you can be proud of something and be disappointed in something else, that you can feel grateful for some things and still feel sad or unfulfilled from time to time, that it’s okay to feel like things are hard or challenging or difficult while enjoying little bursts of joy.


I love the message from the book Essential: Essays by The Minimalists, where they talk about cultivating a passion instead of finding/following a passion. I like to think of it as things that make our lives beautiful, fun, or enjoyable (however that looks to you)—the things we live for.


I love the concept of ‘mentally/emotionally decluttering’ and ‘unlearning‘. We’ve absorbed so many things throughout our lives (information overload, over-stimulation, societal pressure) that might have weighed us down. Is it possible to declutter or unlearn these things?


When I was still working full time, we had a weekly team meeting where we asked each other what role would we choose in the office—if that role had nothing to do with our job titles, tasks, or functions.

Someone said, he’d be the clown, making people laugh with his jokes and funny impressions.
Someone else said, she’d be the decorator, making things look neat, pretty, and artistic.
Someone said, he’d be the problem solver.
Someone said, she’d be the cheerleader.
Someone said, he’d be the dreamer.
Someone said, she’d be the devil’s advocate.

What role would you be happy to play in life?
What role would you choose for yourself at work, at home, at school, among friends, that had nothing to do with your assigned function, expectations, duties, or assumed responsibilities?
What role would you not mind filling?

When you’re thinking that you have no idea about your passion or not knowing your life purpose yet, maybe you can focus on the role you’d love (or wouldn’t mind playing).

How can you play this role more often wherever you are, whatever you do, whomever you’re with?


Write their names, what they did, and what it meant to you: how the things they do have impacted you. Write them a message, call them, text them, write an open letter, or send them a postcard telling them about what you have written, about what they mean to you. They can be people you know, someone from work, a client, a good friend, a stranger, or someone on the Internet. Reach out. Build bridges.


Take a deep breath and imagine all the things you’ve experienced in life that have brought you here, at this point in your life. See your future self in 2022 with love, kindness, and affection—the way you see a good friend or a loved one. Write a letter/a piece of advice to them, write whatever comes to mind for 10-15 minutes, and write as fast as possible, without stopping, without editing. See what comes up.

with much love,


*) This post contains a sponsored link that will help me grow this blog and post more often. The rest of the content is made with love by yours truly, as always 🙂

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?


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,


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.
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

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

I can’t believe it’s been almost 3 months since my self-isolation started.


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.


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?


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:


  • 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.


  • 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.



  • 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.


Hanny illustrator
I am an Indonesian writer/artist/illustrator and stationery web shop owner (Cafe Analog) based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. I love facilitating writing/creative workshops and retreats, especially when they are tied to self-exploration and self-expression. In Indonesian, 'beradadisini' means being here. So, here I am, documenting life—one word at a time.