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.

love,

hanny
WANT TO SHARE WITH SOMEONE WHO NEED THIS?

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:

1.

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.

2.

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.

3.

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

4.

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.

5.

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.

6.

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.

7.

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

8.

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.

9.

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

10.

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,

hanny
WANT TO SHARE WITH SOMEONE WHO NEED THIS?

Jackie Homan wrote an article for @taketinytrips, ‘Rest Is a Right, Not a Reward for Productivity’. I think it’s an excellent article to read, especially if you often find yourself feeling guilty about taking some time to rest or if you’re relaxing after a ‘productive’ day and think ‘aah-I-deserve-this.’

“We all need rest, not because it makes us more productive at our jobs, but because it makes us happier, healthier, more well-rounded people,” wrote Homan.

Naiylah Warren, a staff therapist, said that we could also reflect on our relationship with rest and leisure by asking ourselves:

“What was I taught about leisure and rest?”
“What am I being taught about it now?”

(Those questions could definitely be exciting journaling prompts)

For instance, I remembered being called lazy and useless when I was resting (lying in bed, reading novels, listening to the radio) after school/after studying as a child; of how I was told that if I had enough time to ‘rest’ I should’ve had time to help out with house chores or to continue studying other subjects.

I remembered how it filled me up with so much guilt like I only deserve rest when I no longer have the energy to do anything else.

I realized I internalized these words and thought that I should be (or look) busy, that having spare time was something alerting or… wrong.

At school, when we had a 1-hour exam and I had finished answering and checking all the questions in 20 minutes, I would pretend that I was still thinking or working on it until 5 minutes before the time was up, because, well… what would people say if I handed over my exam in 20 minutes and what should I do in the remaining 40 minutes?

Now I realize that this is ridiculous, but, yes, having ‘spare time’ used to stress me out.

However, as a staff therapist, Naiylah Warren said, “Just as we need food, water, or connection, we also need rest. Rest is not a hobby, it is a biological need, and when we embrace that perspective, it can help us release the guilt or shame we feel when we attempt to engage with it.”

Here are some journaling prompts if you’d like to spend some time writing about it:

  • How was/is my relationship to rest and leisure?
  • Do I feel guilty if I am resting, taking a break, or on vacation? Why?
  • How did my family or community view rest and leisure? What was my experience with rest and leisure back then? How was their approach influence mine?
  • How do rest and leisure contribute to my mood, well-being, and general contentment in life?
  • What kind of feelings and benefits would I like to have from a healthier approach to rest and leisure?
hanny
WANT TO SHARE WITH SOMEONE WHO NEED THIS?

I was watching Kimberley’s video the other day, where she mentioned our tendency to envision our future self (or even looking at our present self) based on ‘the library of our past’—and something clicks inside of me.

I tend to do this as well: referring to my past successes, failures, experiences; or even my family background or my upbringing—to define who I am today.

Sometimes, it feels like having an explanation on why I have certain triggers or behaviors. Other times, it feels like having the foundation to decide where to go next, and most of the time, more than I’d like to admit, it feels like having a perfect excuse not to change or not to face my fears.

But, in line with what Kimberley said in her video, what if one day we wake up with no memories or attachment towards our past? Who are we today if we are not the sum of our past? Who are we today if we start our journey onwards with a clean slate? What if we no longer refer to our past hurt, past trauma, past achievements… to live our lives today, or to shape our future? How are we going to think and behave differently? How are we going to live differently?

***

This idea reminds me of the concept of time as understood by the Aymara people—who inhabit some of the highest valleys in the Andes, northern Chile. While most of us think of the past as something that happens behind us and the future lies ahead of us, researchers found out that for the Aymara people, it’s the other way around.

The Aymara people see the past as something that lies ahead of us, and the future as something that lies behind us.

Notice how in our concept of time, we tend to see the future as the continuation of the past, how it seems like we are ‘stepping’ into the future from the past, or ‘carrying’ the past into our future.

The Aymara’s concept of time, on the other hand, invite us to see the past as something that lies in front of us: something visible to the ‘eyes’, something ‘known’—while the future is something behind our back: something unforeseen and unknown, representing potentials and possibilities.

To me, it’s like an invitation to step back (instead of stepping forward) into the future without ‘seeing’, without knowing where to go, without following a pre-made map. Sure, we can’t erase the past. It has happened already, and their traces are right there, right in front of us.

However, as we step back into the future, the past we see in front of us doesn’t particularly give us a clue on where we should go or where to step on next, as the ‘road’ behind our backs remains unknown.

The only way we can get a hint about where we’re going and where our steps are slowly taking us is by taking a leap of faith and walking that ‘moonwalk’: stepping further ‘back’ into the future.

***

I ask these questions often when I am working on my journal these days:

  • Who am I today if I am not defined by my past?
  • How can I live as who I am today, as who I want to be today–without referring to who I was yesterday, without referring to my past experiences or memories? What would I do today? How would I behave today? What would I believe in based only on everything I experience today?
  • How would I treat the people in my life today if I do not feel the need to adjust my approach based on my past experiences with them? How could I relate to them as my present self, instead of my past self?

_______

Photo by Lia Stepanova | Illustrations by Beradadisini
hanny
WANT TO SHARE WITH SOMEONE WHO NEED THIS?

Several instances (and incidents) in my life have forced me to embrace ‘minimalism.’

When I was little, and my mother and I were still living with my mother’s parents, late at night, in bed, my mother would whisper about her dreams of leaving this house, her parents, our whole family.

“What if we could move somewhere else and start a new life where nobody knows us?” she asked. “We’ll rent a small house. But because the house is tiny, we may only have a kitchen, a bathroom, a table, and a bed. You see, we can’t take everything we have to the new house. If you want to come with me, you can only pack things that you can fit into your school bag. Okay? Think carefully about what you are going to carry with you.”

As a child of eight or nine years old, it sounded like an adventure.

In my mind, all day long, I packed and unpacked my school bag with all the things I would want to carry with me (mostly my favorite novels, pens, and some stationery items). Around the house, I noticed more and more things I wouldn’t mind leaving behind. Every day, I was preparing myself for the night when my mother would tell me that this was the night when we were going to start a new life.

I have rehearsed the ‘fitting-your-life-into-a-backpack’ scenario my whole life.

Around twenty years later, when my mother passed away while I was abroad, I came home two days later realizing that sorting out ‘sentimental things’ that once belonged to hers wasn’t exactly a problem. Upon hearing about my mother’s death, some of my aunts came over almost immediately and took away most of my mother’s belongings they deemed valuable.

My father managed to save a set of jewelry he gave my mother on their wedding day, a gold ring, and my mother’s recipe books that he handed to me. That was when I realized that I didn’t need a lot of things to remember a loved one.

During a 6-month trip to the remotest places in Indonesia on a work assignment, when I had to be constantly on the road and moving from airplanes to cars to motorbikes to boats, I somehow lost my external hard disk. It contained everything I had backed up for the last five years, from past works and portfolios to travel photos and unfinished novels. I learned to let go and move on.

When there was water leakage in my family house (that we didn’t know until it was too late), around 70% of everything I stored in my wardrobe had been ruined by fungus and moths. A few months went by, and I realized that I didn’t need to replace most of them.

When I got married and needed to divide my time between my family house in Bogor, our house in Amsterdam, our second base in Ubud, and my husband’s hometown in Albiate, I got better at fitting all my life into a suitcase: a combination of stuff that would still allow me to work and have fun doing what I love for the next three or four months, from wherever I am.

These instances (and incidents) taught me that things do perish. They can get lost, ruined, or stolen. I know that I can survive and live a good life without the things I have lost or the things I never have. I have learned not to attach too much value to the things I own (or even the people in my life). I don’t open my heart (or purse) to things or people without first reminding myself that I may lose them at any point in my life.

***

I don’t like calling myself a minimalist (partly because I don’t feel like one, yet, and partly because of what most people may assume when they hear the word), but I’d like to say that I am embracing minimalism and being more mindful with my consumption.

In their blog, ‘The Minimalists’ Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus explained their view on minimalism:

At first glance, people might think the point of minimalism is only to get rid of material possessions: Eliminating. Jettisoning. Extracting. Detaching. Decluttering. Paring down. Letting go. But that’s a mistake. True, removing the excess is an important part of the recipe—but it’s just one ingredient. If we’re concerned solely with the stuff, we’re missing the larger point. Minimalists don’t focus on having less, less, less. We focus on making room for more: more time, more peace, more creativity, more experiences, more contribution, more contentment, more freedom. Clearing the clutter frees up the space. Minimalism is the thing that gets us past the things so we can make room for life’s important things—which aren’t things at all.

The Minimalist

***

This month, Mirha invited me to join in as a guest at The Knitting Club—where we talked about the book Essential: Essays by The Minimalists. I wrote down some of my takeouts and thoughts below:

1. KNOW OUR WHY

It is essential to know why we’d like to be minimalists or to embrace minimalism. Is it because we feel suffocated living in a house that is so full of things? Is it because we spend so much money buying things we do not need? Is it because we want to save more money? Is it because we realize that we have five scissors in the house?

I think, first and foremost, we need to be clear about what doesn’t feel right in our lives:

  • What feels excessive and unnecessary?
  • What feels like a burden (physically, emotionally, financially)?
  • What are some of the problems I am facing?

Then, ask ourselves if minimalism can be the answer—or part of the answer—and how. Because minimalism is not a magic pill. It may not be the answer to our problems, and that is okay, too. We just need to know what we need at a particular time and honor that.

In that case, before even decluttering our wardrobe or throwing away stuff, always ask ourselves several times: why am I doing this? How will it help me to do more of the things I want to do and be more of the person I want to be?

2. IT’S A PERSONAL JOURNEY

Some people may feel happy, content, and productive by being a maximalist, so who are we to tell them otherwise?

Minimalism is a personal journey, and it can look different for everyone. It’s not about comparing how little we spend, how empty is our wardrobe, and how small is our house. If minimalism solves some of our problems and can help us to live a better life, that’s great. But if someone we know is a maximalist, or doesn’t feel like minimalism can be beneficial for them, let’s also honor that.

Embracing minimalism doesn’t make us better or less than. It’s our personal journey and our personal choice. If people are attracted to how we live and would like to seek some advice or perspective, that’s great. If they don’t, that’s okay, too.

3. ON MINDFUL CONSUMPTION

I believe that it’s not about not consuming at all, but more about consuming with purpose (why do I want/need this), purchasing pre-loved items instead of new ones when possible, or even consuming without regret and with so much gratefulness (I am so happy with this purchase, it’s something I will cherish all my life!).

On another note, although we may feel like we have stopped buying things compulsively, or don’t go on a shopping spree during Black Friday, I think we also need to check if we are consuming less material things to consume more immaterial things (which is something I am still struggling with). Basically, it’s like replacing one addiction with another.

Here’s a question for reflection: What am I still consuming excessively and why?

For instance, I am still consuming a lot of entertainment (movies, social media, books) and education (online courses, workshops, talks, self-help books). Although it can seem harmless (what’s wrong with educating yourself?), I realized that this obsessive tendency to keep on learning and deepening my knowledge on certain topics has to do with my self-esteem. I feel like I am not good enough or I don’t know enough, so I need to learn more before I can do, create, or share anything.

So, even though we have gotten rid of the material things and bought fewer things, we may still ‘hoard’ other things: memories, feelings, skills, knowledge, money, sermons, unrealized plans… as we discussed earlier, well, it’s a journey. A long journey. For me, this month, I start asking myself how much time I spent consuming and how much time I spent creating/sharing—just to see if I can be more mindful with that.

4. THE IMPORTANCE OF UNLEARNING

Which brought me to the next important takeout: unlearning.

Most of us associate learning with self-development, self-improvement, or even life/career progression. We feel like the path of learning is the right path to take on whenever we feel stuck in life. Probably it’s because we’re so used to it. Most of the time, we are judged or evaluated based on what we’ve learned.

As children, we are praised when we learn something new, or master a new skill.

As adults, in a professional setting, we are encouraged to keep learning and improve our knowledge. During our performance evaluation, for instance, our supervisor may ask something like, “What have you learned this year? What have you learned in this role or on this particular project? Have you learned something new about our industry?”

Sure, learning does hold such an important role in our self-development, self-improvement, or life/career progression. However, what if it is not the only path to get there? What if the path of unlearning is underrated? What are things we have been taught and internalized that actually work against us, or no longer serve us? 

That habit of procrastinating.
That perfectionism.
That belief that we’re not good enough.
That saying that money is the root of all evil.
That tendency to judge people, to assume the worst, to be so hard on ourselves.
That conditioning of attaching our self-worth with our career or financial status.

What are the things we need to unlearn to live a better life and become a better person?

5. FINDING THE SWEET SPOT

Initially, we may want to embrace minimalism because we believe that it will make our lives better; that it will make us a better person. I think that is why it’s essential to ask ourselves THE WHY before embracing the journey. 

Why do I want to do this and how will it make my life better? How may it improve my relationship with friends and families? How can it allow me to live a more meaningful life?

The answer, I think, can serve as a compass to help us navigate our minimalism journey and find the sweet spot when we interact with other people in our lives who may have different beliefs or perspectives.

For instance, at this time of the year, with Christmas and New Year approaching, we’re entering the season of gift-giving. It has become such a cherished tradition in most families that it may cause a dramatic stir when we said we don’t want to give or receive gifts due to being minimalists.

I think in such a case, it’s important to find the sweet spot by asking ourselves, “Is this battle worth fighting? Will winning this battle make my life better, happier, and more meaningful? Will winning this battle improve my relationship with the people around me? Is there another option here?”

When our friends or families insist and it feels too harsh to stop gift-giving altogether, we can tell them the things we would appreciate receiving (“Can you donate to this cause under my name?”) and we can also ask them the things they would love to receive in return. We can ask them to create a wish list—to make sure that we are gifting them the things they have always wanted. We can gift an experience we know they’d enjoy—like an hour at the spa, or a half-day wine tasting. We can also bring them some food they have always wanted to try, or a bottle of wine if they love a good one.

During those instances when someone happens to gift me things I don’t need or like, I remind myself that this gift comes with love and good intention—so I thank both the person and the intention, knowing that I can always donate or offer it to people who may want, need, or like it.

***

Here are a few journaling prompts if you’re considering embracing minimalism:

  1. Which part of minimalism looks interesting/attractive to me?
  2. Why do I want to embrace minimalism?
  3. How do I think it will help solve my problems or help me live a better, more meaningful life?
  4. What feels excessive in my life at the moment?
  5. What are some of the things in my possessions that I feel so strongly attached to? Why? What does it represent? What if I lose those things one day?
  6. What are some of the material things I want to have? (you can create a list of things)
  7. How would I feel if I have those things right now?
  8. How would my life be better or more meaningful by having those things? Which problems will those things solve?
  9. How would my daily life look like if I already have those things? What would I do throughout my day?
  10. Can I actually do some of those things right now even without having/possessing those material things?
  11. What are three of the most beautiful memories or meaningful experiences in my life? Why are these moments beautiful or meaningful to me?
  12. What do I want to do less, feel less, hear less, see less, talk about less?
  13. What do I want to do more, feel more, hear more, see more, talk about more?
  14. What are the three adjectives I would choose to describe my ideal life, a life I aspire to live/experience?
  15. If I need to pack my life into a suitcase and I have to live out of that suitcase for one year, what will I carry with me?
 
What’s your take on minimalism? Are you embracing minimalism in your life? What are some of the challenges you’ve been facing? Do you have some lessons about embracing minimalism that you can share?
hanny
WANT TO SHARE WITH SOMEONE WHO NEED THIS?

In Indonesia, kopi hitam (black coffee) is made by pouring boiling water over coffee grounds (and, if you like, sugar). Stir as you need, then leave it for a while, not only to let it cool down a bit—but, most importantly, to let the coffee grounds fall to the bottom of the glass and settle there (yes, it is served in a glass, not a cup). 

Lately, to me, social media feels like watching someone stirring a glass of black coffee. 

It’s hot and loud and chaotic. 

The ridiculous amount of things trying to catch my attention reminds me of drinking a glass of black coffee immediately after stirring it: it burns my tongue, and the floating coffee grounds that entered my mouth makes me cringe and cough. 

For this reason, I have been thinking of leaving social media for a while. I started by deleting Twitter, then Tumblr, then I deactivated Facebook. I feel good about it. I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything. I think that Instagram will be next, as I am not too keen on the direction they’re going. 

So here I am, waiting for the coffee grounds of social media to settle at the bottom—and once everything is calm, quiet, and unruffled, I am back to my blog. 

I realized that I keep (wanting to) coming back to this blog: a place where I feel like conversing with a close-knitted circle of people who share similar sentiments about life, instead of talking to a bunch of strangers who are in a hurry to board a bus. 

My blog feels like a home where I can invite my closest people to come over, while social media feels like a big party I am invited to. (You know how I, an introvert, feel about going to parties). 

Yes, big parties allow me to meet plenty of people, which can be fun for a while. However, I realized how I crave more for a one-on-one connection and a slow(er) conversation after some time.

Instagram starts to feel like that big party to me, where people only see you for a minute, exchange a few words, and move on to the next topic or say hello to the next person. We scroll so fast (Well, I scroll so fast). 

Faces, messages, and interactions are soon forgotten and buried away, the way our Google Photos becomes a photo graveyard. 

Recently, I read illustrator Rebecca Green’s blog post about her intermission from Instagram and watched Julia Bausenhardt’s video, ‘One Year After I Quit Social Media‘. I feel like they are talking to me. Alexandra Franzen wrote ‘21 Ways to Find Clients and Customers without Using Social Media‘. I nodded to most of her points.

My steps of quitting social media apps are gradual. 

First, I post less. 
Then, I stop posting but still reading, liking, or interacting. 
Then, I stop checking the app altogether.
Then, I deleted the app from my phone. 
Finally, I deleted my account. 
With Instagram, I’m still on my first step—but it feels like I have lifted a weight off of my shoulder. 

Now I see a vast difference between ‘I need to share, so I need to create something‘ and ‘I want to create something, and if I want to, I can share it.’ The latter allows me to slow down. It gives me the time and space I need to focus on what I want to create.

I’ve been enjoying these few weeks facilitating an intimate 3-week online workshop on Found Poetry & Collaging.

We’ve been working on our 12-page zine, featuring our takes on various Found Poetry & Collaging techniques learned during the workshop. This week, we’ll present our zine and share stories about our challenges, creative process, and things we learn about ourselves as writers/poets during the wrapping-up of this project.

I’m excited about it, about the fact that we’re creating a finished project together, challenging our creativity by imposing limitations and boundaries, and having conversations about our creative decisions. 

Interactions like this make me think of sipping a glass of black coffee together with friends in a small warung somewhere, accompanied by fried banana and vegetable fritters. 

We’re not in a hurry. 

We have all the time in the world to wait for our coffee grounds to settle on the bottom of the glass.

hanny
WANT TO SHARE WITH SOMEONE WHO NEED THIS?

From time to time, we may find ourselves asking, “What is my life purpose?”

Some of us may be able to answer that immediately, some of us may not.

There were times when I thought I have found it: the answer to my ultimate life purpose–but then I looked into it closer, questioned it and I wasn’t sure anymore. So I searched again.

It became an infinite loop I could not escape.

I used to think that knowing my life purpose would be the key to deal with those times when my life seemed too calm or too chaotic (never truly satisfied, are we?). As if knowing the answer would give me all the assurance, motivation, inspiration, and permission to march through life, knowing for certain where I’m going and that I’m taking the straightest path to get there…

I almost forgot that in 2014 I learned about how we’d never find “the ultimate answer” because no matter what, we’d always have another question to ask.

That’s why in my January newsletter I told you that I just wanted this year to be the year of play: the year to explore, to reconnect with my curiosity, playfulness, and excitement, to do the things I want to do without worrying too much about what will come out of them.

A few days ago, while washing dishes, my mind went to one afternoon a long time ago, when I was still working full time. We were in one of our weekly team meetings at the office and we were talking about ‘role’. We were asking 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 I be happy to play in life today / this week / this month / this year / at this stage of my life?” 

When I think about it, this question feels lighter and more playful than what-is-your-life-purpose, but it can also give us a hint about where we may wish to go.

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 I asked this question to myself the other day, it was funny that what came to mind immediately, was serving food.

I have always felt a strange pull towards kitchens, cooking, and food, as you can see here and here.

I guess what I love about serving food is that warm and fuzzy feeling of making or preparing something for others and seeing them enjoying the things I make. It’s a lovely feeling to see the immediate impact of ‘serving’ and the experience of sharing: to see someone’s hunger is finally satiated, to get someone’s appetite back, to share stories upon rows and rows of pans and plates and bowls, to come out of of the interaction feeling full, nourished, and satisfied.

Funny enough, if I choose to see ‘serving food’ as a metaphor for what I do: writing, drawing, creating content, or just being present in life in general–I can see how the role is still somewhat valid.

So, for the time being, I’ll be playing around with this role.

Let me know what role you’d happy to play this year!

P.S. If you’re a lover of zine and cats and all things handmade with love, you may want to subscribe to Koran Bulan, a digital zine by @hairembulan, or get some lovely handmade stuff she made at @pondokserbaaneka or order her embroidered linen clothes at @SunandMoon.id – while doing this, you can also help her to care for some rescued cats. Read the story about the latest rescued cat, Yin, here.
hanny
WANT TO SHARE WITH SOMEONE WHO NEED THIS?

What are the things you would do anyway, even if you know you would fail?
What are the things you would do anyway, even if you can’t make money out of it?
What are the things you would do anyway, even if you know you won’t be great at it?

I wrote in my journal that 2021 will be my year of PLAY. After such a heavy and tumultuous 2020, I realized how much I missed living life with a playful attitude: being spontaneous and silly, doing things just for the fun of doing it, being curious and full of wonder.

Psychiatrist Stuart Brown, the founder of the National Institute for Play in Carmel Valley, Calif, said, “Play is a basic human need as essential to our well-being as sleep, so when we’re low on play, our minds and bodies notice. Over time, play deprivation can reveal itself in certain patterns of behavior: We might get cranky, rigid, feel stuck in a rut, or feel victimized by life.”

Last year, I had been so focused on ‘understanding my purpose’ and ‘being purposeful’ it made everything felt heavy. At the end of 2020, I felt so overwhelmed I had a little breakdown.

I started questioning why I should continue doing the things I do if they don’t produce tangible results; if there’s no direct outcome.

But I forgot some things.

I forgot that life is more than just producing tangible results and direct outcomes.
I forgot that you can live a good life even if it seems like you don’t understand (or confused, or unsure, or unclear about) what your purpose is.
I forgot that ‘to have fun’ can also be a purpose.
I forgot that ‘to play’ can also be the answer to the question: “WHY?”

I realized that I had forgotten how to play.

So, this year, I want to learn to take myself (and my work, and my art, and everything else) less seriously.

Lately, I find myself asking these questions while working, designing stuff for my shop, having a call with a client, washing dishes, walking at the park:

  • Can I make it a bit more fun?
  • Can I inject more playfulness into it somehow?
  • Can I find something to help me enjoy it more?
  • Can I drop the importance of it and focus on having a pleasant time?

 

Most of the time, the answer is yes.

“What all play has in common is that it offers a sense of engagement and pleasure, takes the player out of a sense of time and place, and the experience of doing it is more important than the outcome,” Brown said. “To benefit most from the rejuvenating benefits of play, we need to incorporate it into our everyday lives, not just wait for that two-week vacation every year.”

So, if you know that you will fail at it, won’t make money out of it, and won’t be great at it, what are the things you would still want to do anyway?

Do it.
Let’s play.

hanny
WANT TO SHARE WITH SOMEONE WHO NEED THIS?

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
WANT TO SHARE WITH SOMEONE WHO NEED THIS?
Hanny illustrator
Hi. I'm HANNY
I am an Indonesian writer and an artist/illustrator 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.

hanny

TAKE WHAT YOU NEED
VISIT THE STUDIO