21 days self-love challenge

Tomorrow is the day when love is celebrated across the globe, Valentine’s Day. Regardless of its historical accounts, Valentine’s Day as we practice it in modern time is a day for couples or for people with someone to love; so much so that it has become the day when roses and chocolates get so expensive. Those who are single often joke that they’d join the firing squad because they don’t have someone to spend it with. For me, I want to celebrate Valentine’s day this year differently.

Few days ago, I collapsed after jogging for less than 15 minutes and a week after I was down with fever and body aches. I realized I’ve been living an extremely unhealthy lifestyle and needed to look after myself better. According to one of my favorite books, it takes 21 days to create neuro-pathways that develop a habit. So I shall call this exercise the 21 days self-love challenge where each day I would devote 2 hours for self-nourishment, which is 1 hour in the morning and 1 hour in the evening. If you’re up for the same challenge, join me! It will be fun sharing our experiences.

Once upon a time in #Biliran #Sambawan

A photo posted by Mary Antonette H. Abello (@mhabello) on

Here’s how I will schedule my day but of course you can start at a time of your choosing.

6:00AM – wake up time, drink ¼ cup pure calamansi juice (strictly no water or it becomes acidic)
6:15 AM – sit for 15-minutes meditation
6:30 AM – yoga for 30 minutes
7:00 AM – my normal day can begin (shower, coffee, breakfast, etc)

Throughout the day, I will also make sure to drink a lot of water, pause for a quick 5-minute meditation whenever I feel the need for a break and increase my vegetables and fruit intake.

My evening self-love routine will start at 9PM because I want to sleep by 10PM; that will give me 8 hours of sleep.

9:00PM – gadgets away, read a book with warm milk or chamomile tea
9:45PM – sit for 15-minutes meditation
10:00 – lights out, zzzzzzzz

It’s a pretty simple morning and evening routine, really, but it will surely take much discipline to follow. I know I will regret not doing it and my alter ego is not very kind. So fingers-crossed, tomorrow is a new beginning and if there will come a day that I’d fail, I’ll just start back again. Join me! Join me!


The innovative and the slacker

Calligraphy by Alma May Hilot Pilvera

In the last few months I spent interacting with people from different backgrounds, two dominant personalities stood out. It’s probably because I am at a point of identifying a new path so I paid particular attention to these traits.

The innovative
A friend who developed a farm in a small island said that when they began, it was impossible to farm in the area because the soil was too sandy. But that problem didn’t stop them from achieving their plan, instead they created the soil through composting. They then placed retaining walls to keep the soil from eroding.

Another friend works online, her only source of living. She found that coding skills could get one more jobs at higher rates. Unfortunately, there are no coding courses available around where she lives so she took free online coding courses instead and practiced by herself. She isn’t there yet but she definitely is a few steps closer to her goal. It’s still better than nothing at all.

My cousin is planning to get married in 2018. These days, calligraphy is a huge thing when it comes to wedding invitations and signage. Due to high demand, commissioning one to do the calligraphy can be extremely expensive. A set of invitation with watercolor graphic and calligraphy text can cost PhP300 (approx. 6 USD). So instead of paying a hefty amount, she decided to learn calligraphy herself! In fact, the photo above is her very first attempt and yet it looks pretty already! How cool is that? Way to go May.

The slacker
These are those who have future plans or knew what they want but are putting them off for a later time. I’m not saying this is always wrong. I understand there are certain things that should be set aside because there is a right time for them. However, in some circumstances, utilizing available time to prepare for the much-awaited perfect moment can be essential.

A friend went to grad school without any idea for his dissertation. He said he will figure it out when he gets there. When he started the first semester, he said he will figure it out the moment he takes the dissertation course. When he finally got down to writing his proposal, he realized that he needed ample amount of time to review existing literature and do preliminary readings on the issue he wanted to work on. He panicked and regretted not doing some readings during his free time before he started school.

Another friend wanted to be an entrepreneur. She was envious of her entrepreneur friends who seemed to have it all figured out and have full control of their time. Whenever she is not motivated in her job – which happens most of the time by the way — she would say things would have been different if she is an entrepreneur. Finally she resigned from her job, took a few months vacationing and then the much awaited “right time” presented itself. However, the painful truth dawned upon her that she doesn’t know what to do yet, which field she will venture into or what services she will offer. She spent additional months doing research which made her feel trapped into a web of challenges and uncertainties until finally when she is able to identify the business she wanted, her savings have been exhausted and she need to work again to save for the capital. Not only that, she needed some skills for the business so she has to spend the weekdays working and the weekends on short courses to gain those skills. Had she spent her time in the past preparing for the right moment, she would not have started from scratch.

Stories like these remind me of the cliché that the only thing that’s fair in this world is time because we all get the same amount of it. The only difference is how we use them. I’ve had my share of confronting challenges to achieve goals as well as periods of procrastination. What matters to me now is that I am becoming more aware of the things I want to invest my time into. I can never bring back time I’ve wasted but what’s important is to live the present moment and make the most out of it. This is something I want to remind myself every day.


A Taste of Interior Design

I’ve always had this interest in interior design stemming from my love for all things pretty although it’s not until recently that I’ve actually got my hands on it. My cousin asked me to furnish her empty condo and told me specific things to buy so I’m not so sure if I can call that interior design. But since it left me so giddy to see an empty place transform into a pretty habitable one for the first time, then pardon my misnaming the process. Besides, even if I was told what items to get and she was the one who decided which one to buy after I sent her photos, I am happy to say that she picked all the items I recommended except for one furniture. Here are some of things I learned from the process for those of you who have no experience yet.

It’s not all pretty work
I like looking at pretty interior photos on magazines and online but it never occurred to me that the process to achieve such a masterpiece can be painstaking. When we arrived at the condo, since it was my cousin’s, the first thing we did was clean up as it has gathered a lot of dust from more than a year of being left aside. I then proceeded to the first step of the work which is to get ideal measurements of the furniture. That part is easier but looking for the ideal designs that came with those measurements is the tricky part. It would have been a little easier if we have some stuff custom-made but that’s out of the question at that point and since the condo is in a city that I am not familiar with, it’s also difficult for me to find and manage the carpenters. I made do with what’s available after exploring several malls and furniture shops.

It is important for the client/owner to be able to visualize your ideas
Before I went window-shopping, I bought a red masking tape to outline the size of the furniture at the spot where they will be placed. This will ensure that my cousin who is now in California is able to visualize how big or small they are and how much space is left for her to move around once they are installed. I sent her not only measurements of the furniture but also the distance between them. I also had my companion stand on those spaces so my cousin can get a better perspective. When I had photos of the furniture from various malls, I placed them over the photo of the empty condo so my cousin can imagine how the area will look like once the furniture is there.

Harmony is key to achieving a cozy ambiance
There are several elements to consider in interior design and I must confess that I don’t have background on any of them nor made the effort to actually learn them prior to working on my cousin’s condo. I just trusted my instincts and well my eyes. I made sure things are in harmony with each other. To do so, I made sure the colors are not in contrast with each other which is why the condo ended up with gray, white, brown, black and a bit of accent colors. I admire designs that are bold with red and black colors or lively with rainbow colors but oh how my eyes hurt when I see houses that have a mixture of different colors and patterns (imagine a blue patterned floor tiles, pink patterned curtains, and green and yellow patterned sofa all in one living room!). My cousin’s personality is one that speaks of classic elegance hence the choice of those colors for her condo. I also have to credit my mom for suggesting a gray curtain, which placed everything in order.

I know my experience was very far from the real interior design thing and that it didn’t give me much knowledge and skills to qualify for a career change but still I consider it essential to my growth. It made me able to exercise my creativity on a level that considers and meets another person’s preferences. It allowed me to navigate an area that I don’t know much about but that didn’t stop me from making things happen.