Month: December 2013

The Changing Seasons

The nights are much longer now and even in a tropical country like the Philippines, evenings are much, much colder. We have no snow, no winter, but the cool, dry season from November to February gives us respite from the rains and typhoons brought about by the rainy season. The cool months are the most pleasant for many Filipinos, a stark contrast to the scorching summer days, which begin soon after the cool February days come to an end. The Philippines celebrates Christmas in a grand way – and for a long time. Stores and malls begin to display and sell Yuletide items as early as September. There are plenty of glitter and snow-themed displays everywhere. Many of the displays are so colorful, whimsical… and so western!     Poinsettias One of the more popular and ubiquitous displays during Christmas are the poinsettia flowers. Christmas in the Philippines is never complete unless there are poinsettia flowers – either real or artificial. The poinsettia is indigenous to Mexico and Central America, where the climate is cooler. …

Reduce Writing Commitments to Keep Your Holidays Resistance-free

Originally posted on Bane of Your Resistance:
It may seem a bit paradoxical that one of the best ways to sustain your writing habits during the holidays is to reduce your commitments to them. Commit to less, accomplish more. Years ago, before I understood the nature of writer’s resistance, I thought I should be able to log hours and hours of writing during holidays and vacations. Of course, I never lived up to those expectations, which increased my resistance along with my self-doubt. One of the watershed moments that helped me transition from frustrated wanna-be to professional writer was recognizing that writing is something I need to make time for every weekday, aka every workday.Writing would no longer be something I’d try – and fail – to squeeze in and therefore feel guilty about never doing enough of. (Note: Pprofessional is not the only alternative to frustrated wanna-be; plenty of writers who wouldn’t consider themselves professional writers are deservedly satisfied with their writing practice.) “Hobby” writer or pro, you can minimize resistance and potential frustration during your…

12 Days of Christmas: Gift Wrapping Inspiration

Originally posted on Styling My Everyday:
On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me … Ten beautifully wrapped gifts Nine Christmas songs for dancing Eight cups of hot chocolate Seven swan chocolate eclairs Six egg frittatas Five golden gifts Four colly chocolate lava cakes Three French Champagne cocktails Two sugar cookie turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tart! For the tenth day of the “12 Days of Christmas” my true love gave to me “10 lords a leaping.” Why were they leaping? Because of all those beautiful gifts! I LOVE wrapping gifts. I’ve done a gift wrapping how-to on the blog before (check it out HERE) where I exclaimed that “gift bags are lazy.” I still feel the same way—especially for Christmas gifts! I like to stock up on all kinds of different size boxes and then customize each gift for the recipient. Here are some of the gifts that are wrapped under our tree this year: Craft paper is something you should always have in your craft arsenal. It’s cheap, can be used for anything (crafts, wrapping),…

Sunday’s Blessings: Writers’ Thoughts on Christmas

“I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round, as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.” -Charles Dickens “There’s nothing sadder in this world than to awake Christmas morning and not be a child.” – Erma Bombeck “Christmas is the season for kindling the fire of hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart.” – Washington Irving “I heard the bells on Christmas Day Their old, familiar carols play, And wild and sweet The words repeat Of peace on earth, good-will to men!” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and …

Precious Words from Writers

“You’re a writer. And that’s something better than being a millionaire. Because it’s something holy.” -Harlan Ellison “There are significant moments in everyone’s day that can make good literature. That’s what you write about.” -Raymond Carver “You just have to sit down and write. I never saw myself as a literary figure. The phrase, “writer’s block” would sound a little pretentious in my mouth.” -Red Smith “If you write a hundred short stories and they’re all bad, that doesn’t mean you’ve failed. You fail only if you stop writing.” –Ray Bradbury “When I sit down on my writing desk, time seems to vanish. I think it’s a wonderful way to spend one’s life.” -Erica Jong “Watch children at play. They are terribly serious. The same is true with writing: you get caught up in the rhythm. That’s when it really gets to be complete play.” -Madeleine L’engle  

The World and Beiber Continue to Help

In the Philippines, many companies have decided to forgo their Christmas parties. The amount they would have spent for the festivities are instead going to the people in the provinces hard hit by Typhoon Haiyan last November. This is admirable indeed, and understandable because after all, the people in the Visayas are our countrymen. Aside from the additional help from these local companies, the survivors of Haiyan will also experience the joy of receiving aid from many people who work in German companies that have decided to scrap their Christmas parties and donate the money intended for the parties to the people in the Visayas. Germany’s acting head of mission Joern Rohdesaid said that various German companies operating in the Philippines have provided assistance in kind and through donations from their employees. The German companies have also used their own funds and some have tapped into the resources of their headquarters and global networks. An early Christmas gift for the people of Tacloban was a visit from Justine Beiber, who flew in from Australia. Before …

Digital Journaling or Pen and Paper?

I won’t debate about which journaling method is easier, smarter, better. Ultimately, I believe that every writer will have his/her own reason to choose one over the other.   I’ve been journaling with pen and paper most of my journaling life – I say most because for brief periods I tried digital journaling. There are many journalers who are all praises for digital journaling.  That’s why I tried it. I journaled for a while in Penzu, but when it didn’t feel right, I thought of trying a private blog with WordPress.com.  That went well for a few days, but I soon got tired of it and something just didn’t fit. I read about OhLife – and tried it. It was great to receive an email everyday, reminding me of the day and date, and the question: “How did your day go?” My journaling stint with OhLife was short and sweet  – in time I felt railroaded by the question,”How did your day go?” When journaling became a mere act of answering OhLife’s question about my …

UNICEF and Rihanna, “There for the Philippines”

Last November 25, UNICEF and Rihanna  launched “There for the Philippines,” Campaign to Help Children Affected by Typhoon Haiyan. “There for the Philippines” will support the immediate and long-term relief efforts for Filipino children and the families who were displaced by Super Typhoon Haiyan. UNICEF Supporter Rihanna helped kick-off the campaign and raise awareness of UNICEF’s relief efforts in the Philippines through social media.The singer, who has held concerts in the Philippines before, also made a $100,000 donation to the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. Other celebrities who graced the launch were  WNBA’s Skylar Diggins, MLB star Robinson Cano and actress Vanessa Hudgens. Caryl Stern, President and CEO of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF said, “We are incredibly grateful for the outpouring of support shown during this crisis.” She vowed that the organization will continue to support the people of the Visayas in the Philippines: “The effects of the strongest storm to make landfall have been devastating and the rebuilding process will not happen overnight. UNICEF will be there for as long as it takes to …

Digging Through My Journals: Lessons on Choosing the Right Journal

After journaling for decades, I recently hit a plateau and could not get the pen to move on the paper as fast as I used to. After a few months of touch and go, I decided it was time to take a closer look at my journaling habits and perhaps incorporate a few changes here and there. To do that, I thought of going through all my journals – those that I hadn’t burned. I had burned many journals simply because I felt they had served their purpose. The remaining ones were written during the past eight years.  I hadn’t decided what to do with them – it’s not yet their time to get burned, apparently. The notebooks had been stored in a cabinet in my room and it’s been a few years since I’ve looked at them closely. It was surprising to see that through the years I had written on spiral notebooks in different colors but all of the same size. I had forgotten about these notebooks, but upon seeing them again, I …

Free Online Writing Courses

Several institutions are offering free online writing courses and the great thing about these courses is that they are self-paced. So, no pressure and lots of learning. What is good writing? If the idea of writing an essay intimidates you, this unit offered by The Open University  will help you realize that there’s no reason to fear essays. Writing what you know If you want to improve your skills in descriptive writing, this unit will help you “to develop your perception of the world about you and enable you to see the familiar things in everyday life in a new light. You will also learn how authors use their own personal histories to form the basis of their work.” Start writing fiction This unit will help you learn how characters might be drawn, as well as how setting is established. The course description says the unit “works on the different levels of characterisation, from flat to round, and how character and place interact. It also works on the effect of genre and how genre can …

Remembering Paul Walker

Actor Paul Walker died in a fiery accident while helping raise funds for the survivors of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. The statement on his Facebook page reads: It is with a truly heavy heart that we must confirm that Paul Walker passed away today in a tragic car accident while attending a charity event for his organization Reach Out Worldwide. He was a passenger in a friend’s car, in which both lost their lives. We appreciate your patience as we too are stunned and saddened beyond belief by this news. Thank you for keeping his family and friends in your prayers during this very difficult time. We will do our best to keep you apprised on where to send condolences. We join the world in mourning the loss of the actor and philanthropist, and we thank him for his efforts in helping our countrymen. May he rest in peace. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia