Walk with me through my 2014.

Thank you for all your ridiculousness, your storms, your breakthroughs. One last look, but actually, 2014, I’m quite over you.

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I made new friends.
I traveled to see people. I traveled with Buhay Makulay. I traveled alone.
I stood in front of thousands of little children, from the poorest communities I know, trying my best to shape life into the word hope by telling stories and painting murals.
I was welcomed into the makeshift houses of families that lost theirs.
I saw the impact of history’s strongest storm and the brokenness, amidst powerful healing, that persisted months after.
I was reminded of God’s faithfulness.
I was left in awe of people living with less wanting. People living with less.
I turned 25.
I met heartbreak. The dream shattering, paradigm shifting, inky, moonless kind of heartbreak.
I paid a lot of bills.
I sold back my first car to my brother after an expensive year of maintaining it, and bought a smaller, more fuel-efficient new one in the same color.
I still didn’t gather enough courage to drive.
I went on adventures. I wandered.
I met healing. The joy mending, light pouring into your dusky musty cave, dewy, liberating kind of healing.
I picked up my pen again and wrote poetry.
I moved out of my family’s house and got my own place.
I received visitors. Friends with noise and laughter.
I learned how to teach four more classes at PlanaForma.
I was challenged.
I tried hard to make time for my sketchbook and blank canvases.
I made a lot of challenging decisions as a manager running operations at The Paper Project.
I listened to my gut.
I stood in front of the work of some of my favorite artists like Sebastiao Salgado and Mark Rothko.
I got to spend time with friends who live far away.
I wrote out checks.
I fell for coffee.
I cried more this year (almost certainly) than my whole lifetime of crying after the age of five.
I met hope, again and again.
I made a lot of messy, but valuable mistakes.
I was embraced by community. The spirit resuscitating kind of community.
I started to skip the trips to the salon. I cut my own hair.
I danced. But not enough.
I prayed. But also not enough.
I ate a lot of good food. A lot.
I laughed. Hopefully more than I ate good food, or at least just as much.
I dreamed new dreams.
I claimed big visions for the new year.

You were one for the books, 2014. Now, please pleasantly get out of my way.
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2014: You Were a Beautiful Storm; a playlist

An important year-ender tradition – a playlist to sum up my year.

2014, you were ridiculous, and this music helped me roll with your punches. You were far from what I expected, but absolutely amazing nonetheless. A beautiful, stormy year were you.

Songs are in no particular order. And yes, I’m a little upset that I had to put a Pitbull song into the mix.

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Prayer in C – Robin Schulz Radio Edit – Lily Wood and The Prick

Give Me Faith – Elevation Worship

Gospel – The National

Girls Chase Boys – Ingrid Michaelson

Wild Wild Love – Pitbull

Here with Me – Susie Suh

Baby Don’t Lie – Gwen Stefani

How Long Will I Love You – Ellie Goulding

Neon Love – Claire

Another Story – The Head And The Heart

Let Your Hair Down – Magic!

A Long Time Ago – First Aid Kit

Bones – Dustin Tebbutt

Magic – Coldplay

I’ve Told You Now – Sam Smith

Good to Me – Audrey Assad

Maps – Maroon 5

Mercy – Phil Wickham

For My Help – Hayden Calnin

Geronimo – Sheppard

My Silver Lining – First Aid Kit

One Day Like This – Elbow

Stacks – Bon Iver

I Had This Thing – Royksopp

“Imperfection is part of life: It’s where the poetry and humor hide.” -Dorte Mandrup-Poulsen

 

The playlist is also on Spotify and YouTube: “Speak Soon: 2014 in Review”

And here are links to my year ender playlists from 2013 and 2012. 

California: Five Things That Inspired During this Vacation

On the first day, I couldn’t even remember what it was supposed to feel like.

Slow mornings. No pressure to look at my inbox. A completely reconstructed to-do list (containing names of people to see and coffee shops to visit). Vacation.

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I’ve been wanting to plan a creative sabbatical, a clean and generous slice of time just for my art. I’ve been dreaming of one for over a year now. My normal life schedule is full, one thing rolling into another, mornings of Paper Project spreadsheets into a train of Plana Forma classes to teach until closing time. Weekends for the kids of Buhay Makulay. The best I could do was an hour or two of ink drawing on the rare free Saturday.

But thanks to friends being wed, a vacation was set, and I think the creative sabbatical found me.

Here are five things that have been inspiring me creatively while on this trip:

1. Coffee, Tea, and Chocolate.
Flying Goat Coffee. Melange Market. Peet’s Coffee. Saint Frank Coffee. Coupa Cafe. Cafe by the Green Library. Alegio. Beacon Coffee and Pantry. Philz Coffee. Sightglass Coffee. Réveille Coffee Co. Station. Blue Bottle Coffee. And everything homemade in between. Yes, there’s been a lot of coffee shop time!

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2. Wandering.
Magical moments come to you when you don’t try to look for them.

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3. Being a student in a class, not a teacher.
It’s good to take a break from teaching – good for the soul, healthy for the ego.

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4. Old friends / new friends.
Reconnecting with friends from years ago and dreams ago, help re-ignite dreams on pause. New friends remind you how much of the world you forgot you were longing to meet. I’ve had a great balance of both.

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5. Different views, different air.
Sorry, Manila, I love you dearly, but a break from your stoplights, standstill traffic, scary swervers, humidity and heavy pollution was much needed for a short bit of time.

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Hello, California. You’ve been good to me. And you’ve been good to my friends. Thank you for giving me room to be.

Mid-Year Moment of Gratitude

Happy July 1st! Where did the first half of the year go?

Here are a few things I am thankful for today, the midpoint of 2014.

1. Work.

Whenever I am tired and feeling overworked, I try to remember how difficult it is for too many others to find a livelihood. I am blessed to have two jobs that are stable, safe, challenging, and engaging. I continue to love what I do.

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2. Ideas.

I feel the love of God when He plants a seed of an idea in my mind, and allows me to discover it. These are ideas for things to do – whether personal, professional or in between – Buhay Makulay activities, independent projects, creative initiatives, process improvement, troubleshooting, an interesting perspective, ways to mentor my staff, new ways to approach the classes I teach, or new adventures to go on. These are all gifts from above.

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3. Hope after the storm.

In the wake of devastating SuperTyphoon in November last year, and in celebration of the 8th year of the annual Fairs – we’ve taken our Buhay Makulay Children’s Fair on the road. The children and their communities continue to teach me about hope.

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4. Travel

Because of the #3, I’ve been able to travel the Philippines a bit more this year than most years. We’ve played with children from Capiz, Cebu and Leyte. Hopefully Iloilo and Negros in the coming months too. And I finally made my return to Singapore to visit my older sister – a plan six years in the making.

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5. Art

#3 has allowed me to do some community art. But in the past few months, I’ve been craving personal art-making time. I cannot always fit it into my schedule, but since reading a beautiful novel about Claude Monet, going on a painting afternoon, purchasing a sturdy & easy-to-carry sketchbook while in Singapore – I’ve picked up my drawing pen again and vowed to restore art to its rightful place in my life. I also want to start dancing again – and by dancing I mean, not Zumba..

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My pen portrait from a couple Sundays ago.

 

 

Speak soon,

T

 

6 nuggets of life-wisdom from my 4th grade Sunday School students

Every Sunday at 10:15 am, I walk over to the room with a purple door to see my Sunday school class of 4th graders. For the next hour and a half, we talk, tell stories, make crafts, play games. We talk about the Bible, about Jesus, and about what it means to follow God in their own lives today.

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When I started teaching Sunday school for the first time, almost two years ago; it took a bit of time for me to figure out how to best relate to the 4th graders. How smart they are!

I’m still learning. And a handful of nine and ten-year old kids sure can teach you many things. They continue to surprise me with their thoughts, their imagination, and the way the world looks in their eyes. (Their world is, in many ways, profoundly different from the world I grew up in. Sometimes I am astounded. Read: One of the most important things you need to take on a camping trip to survive is your iPad!??)

Still each week, I am often left fascinated by the wonderful ways these little humans are just themselves.

 

“Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong.”  Exodus 23:2

 

Yesterday, after storytelling and discussion about a Bible story, we did a craft that the kids got to do in pairs. They were to come up with slogans that would encourage them to do do what is right, especially when the wrong choice is the easy choice. The example we gave them was straight out of our curriculum, ” Be wise about what you see with their eyes.”  We encouraged them to rhyme, but more importantly to make their work applicable in their own lives.

After much thought and animated, even heated, discussions, each pair of students came up with some fantastic nuggets of wisdom. Catchier and spunkier than I could’ve ever come up with at their age.

Meet my fourth graders!

1. If you litter, your Future will be bitter. 

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2. Don’t be a fool and don’t cheat in school. Challengers 3

 

 

 

3. Fear isn’t evil, it tells you what your Weakness is. 

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4. Loyalty makes your friends HAPPY. (And makes them trust you and God will be proud of you.)

 

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5. Know the fact before you act.

(In the context of placing the blame on others.)

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6. Honesty is the best way to be TRUSTWORTHY. 

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Pretty awesome, right?