An Upcoming Change

Ah, I know this blog has been neglected, and I’ve been feeling bad for keeping it on the backburner. But I’ve discovered that it’s tough work keeping up with posts when I’m trying to juggle a full-time job with serving in two church ministries, honing my artistic/musical skills and being present in my rather active social life. Anyway, artists go through harvest/fallow cycles and now I happen to be readying the ground, not so much harvesting the fruits of my labour (that’s what I like to tell myself, but it’s also true!)

The good news: I’m going to continue keeping this space up. I’m not sure who reads this, but props to my friends who do; I’m glad you enjoy reading my random and sporadic posts. The even better news: I’m going to start taking my artistic portfolio seriously, and will be converting this site into a gallery of my creative progress.

Continue reading “An Upcoming Change”

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Doodle of the Day: My Art Journey + The Wonderful Cross

Today I have something doodly to share. One doodle was drawn yesterday and one today; both were drawn with Tayasui Sketches on my iPhone 4. Here’s the first one. It’s the story of my art journey:

My Art Journey

(that weird half-formed A/star is my way of signing off my pieces since A is for Antelune, y’know)

When I was young I used to draw lots. I also painted. Then I stopped doing that for a while, but I still liked doodling on my notes. In lectures I would doodle and doodle on the margins of my foolscap paper. While most of my friends would pass notes to stave off boredom, I would doodle. I never took it further than that though.

Later on, I started taking photographs and editing them using photo apps. I had this deadly fear of Photoshop and I’m not even sure why! I think it’s because everything looked so complicated and I never had the patience to sit down and go through tutorials. Instead, I took to Tayasui Sketches (sketch app) and PicMonkey instead. I use PicMonkey to make some graphics for my blogs and it’s a great and simple image editor with design tools thrown in.

A year later, I decided to try my hand at GIMP because I was trying to create stuff for Society6. It didn’t turn out so bad, and I was pretty pleased that I had gotten over my fear of image editors that looked like PS. As I recently joined my church’s social media team (design + copywriting), I decided that I needed to learn PS and get better at it. I took the plunge and the psychological barrier was broken. Years after my initial fear, I finally realised that… it wasn’t that bad after all. I’m exploring my options in PS now and am really pleased that I’m learning many new things without fear of failure. I’m also extremely glad and grateful that my prayer at the start of 2014 was answered – I prayed that God would nurture my skills and interest in visual art, and it has happened so gradually that I never noticed!

This brings me to the next doodle…

The Wonderful Cross

Some of my friends were having a rough day today, and I immediately felt like cheering them up with a doodle. The first thing I thought of was the wonderful Cross, signifying the risen Christ, and this Cross has all manner of confetti, hearts, and stars bursting from it as a massive blast of Love! It’s wonderful how much inspiration His love has given me, and I pray that everyone may experience it in abundance like I have. It’s all about how open your heart is to receiving His love, that’s all.

To end this doodle post off, I’ll just say that I have some really exciting design plans for four posters and they came to me randomly just now. Also had this really cool dream about blood moons yesterday and am going to transcribe the dream into a story. I’m looking forward to making these projects a reality!

Marriage?

Marriage

This was just one of the many pithy quotes by Pastor Benjamin during GenRev service last week. I was pondering it for quite a while because, well, now’s the time to consider marriage as the next step in my relationship. It’s not been easy for me to consider long-term commitments in love. I don’t believe in “The One”, but rather, in multiple “ones,” one of whom could possibly become my life partner. With this possibility comes doubt – how do you know the one you’re with now will be the one to weather the storms of life with you? These sorts of questions make me reluctant to agree to settle down even though my relationship is going well at the moment.

I was glad to hear the married couples at GenRev telling us that on their wedding day they weren’t fully sure they had made the right choice. But is there really a right choice? Barring the obvious red flags, I’m assuming that your (and my) potential life partner is a decent person. But that doesn’t guarantee anything. Two decent people can get together, have kids, and still have a nasty break up. Marriage is a risk, like all other things in life.

I must sound like I feel very negatively about marriage, but I really think that it’s a beautiful thing. It’s beautiful because it’s a union of love (I hope) that transcends the love between two people. Marriage reflects God’s love for humankind, with Jesus as the bridegroom and the church as the bride. Our human marriages are part of that larger love story. But like all human things, the love within marriage is also subject to our imperfections. If I were to place my faith in my partner, I would be setting myself up for a huge disappointment, and so would he. Only one person will never fail us, and He’s Jesus Christ, the third party every relationship needs. One verse that constantly resonates with me is

He existed before anything else, and He holds all creation together. (Colossians 1:17)

By this I know that He holds us together in the palm of His hand, and He will sustain my future marriage with His eternal love. When I don’t feel loving, His love will fill me and overflow to bless my partner. When I feel tired, He will beckon me to come and rest under His wings. When we have an argument, He will show us the most loving and honest way to resolve it. I’m only just beginning to understand the amazing ways in which He works in my life, especially in my relationship with my partner. My past relationships have been very different and much less satisfying because I didn’t invite Him in. But I’ve entrusted this one to Him, and He is showing me how much better it is when we both let Him carry us through the highs and lows of love. There are a lot more things to learn and explore on this journey, but hey dear I know you’re reading this, and I’m glad we’re in this together. May we keep seeking God together in our lives both together and apart, and may we keep enjoying His love for us!

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. . . . And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:4-13)

Throwback Thursday: Old Paintings + WIP

While tidying up some stuff on my very messy computer, I found two old paintings of mine. They’re really old, probably done for an art assignment when I was 13 or so. The assignment required us to do 9 4×4 squares of art, each with a theme/subject to keep to. I liked these two the most and took pictures of them with my ancient Nokia handphone before misplacing them somewhere in my cupboard.

I sometimes wonder how differently my art work would have turned out if I had gone to art college instead of studying English Literature and other academic subjects. Then again, wondering about hypotheticals doesn’t do much in the way of improvement. Did I ever mention how much anxiety I had just picking up the brush again? When I was younger, I painted because it was fun. I told my mom I wanted to be an artist. When I grew older and was swamped with school work I had little time to devote to art. It became a source of anxiety for me because I kept dwelling upon the missed chances, the many years in which I could have improved my skills but didn’t and worst of all, how good other people already were. Even when I had time I would resist doing art. I felt paralysed.

Things changed recently. I went through a period of anxiety about my health and other things. It was one of the worst times of my life but also became, in retrospect, one of the most artistically productive times too. I turned back to doing art as a form of solace and therapy. I drew things on my iPhone and took photos. I starting writing and painting again.

Moons WIP 2

I’m in the midst of painting this. It’s still far from finished and part of the reason is because I’ve also been doing other things, like writing fiction/poetry and composing music. This journey has been nothing short of amazing and perhaps, just perhaps, without all the adversity and uncertainty, I wouldn’t have been prompted to kickstart my creative processes again. I thank God for seeing me through everything and for inspiring me with love and light – and hope, always.

One thing I know now: creating things is what I need to do in life. And I will keep on doing these things until I’m no longer here.

Favourite Books

Recently, I was asked the most interesting question (or series of questions) by a publishing firm that was considering my job application. The question was: what are your five favourite books, and why? It was hard enough coming up with a list of only five books; it was even worse trying to explain why I liked them in a reasonable amount of words. I’ve always loved these books and have variously mentioned them to friends. I also go on and on about them if anyone will listen. What I hadn’t done prior to my application is come up with a concise paragraph of what makes each of them so unique and lovable. Who knew that a job app could benefit me in this way? If anyone asks me the same question, I can simply refer them to this post and they’ll understand how I feel about these books.

I hope this list inspires someone (anyone!) to read these books – that would be really great. Also, if anyone has already read them and has something to say/discuss about them, let’s talk in the comments! I would love to hear from fellow literature lovers.

Continue reading “Favourite Books”

The Whys and Hows of Happiness

Strasbourg, France Tunnel

Somewhere in a tunnel in the small town of Strasbourg, France, someone had taken it into his head to ask a question to all who passed through.

Are you happy?

It’s a question that seems deceptively easy to answer and yet for many, the answer is anything but simple. I’ve tried to answer it for months. I wrote this draft last year, in October, and I’m revisiting it now because I feel compelled to complete this post and resolve my thoughts on the matter.

Happiness tends to be a confusing thing mainly because of two reasons:

  1. Human beings may confuse happiness with euphoria (e.g. the high you get when you win a prize, competition or when you ride the rollercoaster)
  2. Human beings are not good at predicting what would make them happy in the long run

Not everyone will fall prey to no. 1, but it seems that no one is exempt from no. 2. People who predict how happy or unhappy they will feel about a debilitating life incident often end up feeling happier than they had predicted once the incident had occurred. People who win the lottery are happy for approximately two weeks before their level of happiness goes back down to a happiness “baseline” that depends on genetic, environmental and personality factors. When I was younger, I remember thinking that my achievements and failures would make a huge difference on my overall happiness. Yet when such major events occurred, I was affected for only a few days to a week. So much for that.

So far we’ve been talking about levels of happiness and the state of being happy – but what exactly is happiness? That’s the complicated part. Some people think it’s an object to be strived for, like a prize at the end of a well-fought race. Other people think it’s an undefinable, fleeting moment that comes unasked and leaves a void in its place. Do happy people experience happiness because they are happy? Or are they happy because they experience happiness? Not so easy to answer.

Continue reading “The Whys and Hows of Happiness”

Living Authentically: What Antelune is all about

This has been the hardest post to write. Even though I just started writing it today, it has been floating around in disembodied bits in my mind for at least a few weeks. It’s not surprising that the first post is usually the most difficult post to get out, especially if it’s not just a “hello” sort of post. This is a “hello” sort of post but that’s not all to it

First things first though – hello and welcome to Antelune, my little space on the web. I like writing, but didn’t originally start out over here. I had a couple of blogs on Diaryland, Livejournal and Blogger, but I ended up abandoning them all for different reasons.

Recently I was blogging over at CherchezBeaute.com as a lifestyle and beauty blogger. Things worked out for a while – I gained recognition, got sponsorships, reviews, invitations to events and all sorts of opportunities going for me – but I began to feel dissatisfied. It’s not that writing about beauty and lifestyle was boring, rather, I felt that it was limiting my growth as a writer. I want to write about things that are important to the inner me, and beauty and lifestyle topics only scratch the surface of the outer me. I often read and have full respect for beauty and lifestyle writers who are honest and upbeat (Of Faces and Fingers, Bun Bun Makeup Tips and MBB are some examples), but I realise that it’s just not what I want to do in the long run.

I will still be running Cherchez Beaute and perhaps will resume posting in the future, but it won’t be a priority anymore. I’ll be hanging around Antelune much more and publishing all sorts of things – from creative visual and written works, to musings on various academic (or otherwise) topics I’m interested in. These things keep me going in life – reflection and creation – and I’ve realised that anything else brings only fleeting satisfaction. These are my inner thoughts when stripped of all attempts to “fit in” to society. You’d have seen the more extroverted, bubbly side of me had you visited Cherchez Beaute – that’s equally me, just not in this capacity.

In a way, Antelune is the necessary outgrowth of Cherchez Beaute. I am invested, both mentally and emotionally, in everything I put up here. You could say it’s an expression of the self, if you believe the self can be expressed in such a way. It’s about living authentically; being true to my dreams/fantasies/yearnings and tackling them purposefully. It’s about aligning my thoughts, words and actions. All I ask is for you to take me as I am, and if you wish, to continue a conversation with me that exceeds the boundaries of these pages. Thank you for being here.