Learning More About Mindfulness

Origami I got as a token from the Matsumoto Timepiece Museum

In between travels, I study. Mostly online, with the exception of French weeknight classes (more of that to come soon). I find it a good balance with the routine from daily business hours, and the temptation of sitting in front of the TV watching Netflix and munching on popcorn at night. So I eagerly signed up for some free courses from my Coursera app, and the first one in my list is De-mistifying Mindfulness by Universiteit Leiden. It’s a 6-week learning course, and I’m now on my second week. Well, I should be on my third week, but I’m lagging behind because of no valid reason. Yes, sadly, I got distracted. Netflix won.

I honestly thought I’d just breeze through it, treated it more of a refresher training of sorts. I was wrong. First module in, I realized I’m one of those who stereotypes mindfulness as a monk, or a sage – requiring a place of peace and quiet in order to practice. And then I took the Perceived Stress Scale test with the notion that I’d probably rate at the lower, if not the lowest, end of the scale. Halfway through the test I realized I’ve been more stressed than I thought I was – so when I rated higher than the average person of all age brackets, I was not surprised anymore. Yikes, so it’s true then, I easily get stressed. And worse, I keep it all bottled in, appearing as calm and chill as how I am mostly known for. No wonder I have a chronic case of acid re-flux and other body pains! While stress is good for the body, too much or too little can be life or mind altering.

Before heading out for breakfast today I tried to think of what my major source of stress was. It didn’t take long for me to accept that it’s because I expected people or things to act like or turn out how I expected them to be. It stems from me, and my so called ‘standards’.

I’m not even halfway through the course, and I look forward to learning more. For starters, I should really make time and effort to practice the exercises (lab work) on a daily basis. One if the practices that I like most is the body-scan breathing exercise.

I know I’ve got so much more to learn AND unlearn. I’m taking it one module at a time. One thing’s for sure – Netflix is now scheduled accordingly, and in moderation, in my calendar.



Learning Minhwa


I’ve been honing in on my art skills, and I’m keen learning any medium that I can. Earlier this year I’ve participated in an acting workshop, attended basic drawing and oil pastel class, did a bit of coffee painting, practiced water color and acrylic painting, and most recently I’ve enrolled in a semester of Minhwa classes. Minhwa is a traditional Korean art using painting as a medium. My teacher, Teacher Yoon, said during our orientation that Minhwa was art done by the common people, when they expressed thoughts and depicted everyday life through painting. Usually the subject is an animal or flowers. They use vivid colors when painting.

My first Minhwa painting
First finished work

The class that I am attending is held at the Korean Cultural Center of the Philippines in Bonifacio Global City at Taguig. For 12 Saturdays I would go to class and paint for 3 hours. I always look forward going to class because I quite enjoy mixing colors, deep breathing while painting, and listening to the different genres of music that Teacher Yoon plays. I have fun focusing on my work and I would barely notice the time when I start painting.

My Minhwa
My Minhwa painting – still a work in progress

Because I am a beginner, I was given flowers as subjects of my paintings. My other classmates who are more seasoned animals and landscapes as their subjects. We use hanji (Korean paper) and a mixture of Korean oriental painting colors. The paint is similar to acrylic when it comes to its vibrance, and its texture is similar to water colour. I would do two layers of paint to make the colors pop out more. Like water colour, I would let the first layer dry first before I apply the second layer. The paper is thin and absorbs water quickly. It also takes just a few minutes to dry. Teacher Yoon created the wood frame for both of my paintings.PaintBrushes

Overall I find the class worth my time, and I look forward to enrolling to other semesters so I can do more paintings. There is another class being done in the Korean Cultural Center of the Philippines and it’s called Mooninhwa. I’ll try to find out what the difference is and see if I can also enrol to that class next semester.

Random Thoughts: The Edge


My random thoughts in response to Aroused’s Friday Foto Fun question on what The Edge looks like to me. I liked the blog because it got me thinking…and here’s what I think:

Me on the Edge of a view deck at Sagada, overlooking the Echo Valley.

When I think of the word EDGE, the first thing that comes to my mind is END. But as I delve on the word more, I remember it can also mean a point of something new: a new territory, a new beginning. Sort of like The Beatles’ song “Hello, Goodbye”.

“I say high, you say low. You say why, I say I don’t know…You say goodbye and I say hello”

You see, I’ve come to a point a couple of years ago where I had a 180 degree shift in priorities and started to see life in a different light. Maybe it’s midlife crisis, or maybe it’s a result of a harrowing experience. Anyway, ‘the edge’ for me did not happen overnight – it took weeks of contemplating and assessing the pros and cons of decisions I would make. I asked what my purpose was and what really makes me happy. I figured I didn’t need all the riches in the world and what I have is enough. I prayed for guidance and for me to have the courage to take that first step to get out of my comfort zone and try something new.

And so here I am now, treating each day as a new opportunity to appreciate, to learn, to explore, to one way or another touch someone else’s life or make a difference to someone, somewhere. Hopefully.

Learning Oil Pastel Drawing


I love going to museums and stare at works of art for hours. There are even some paintings or photographs that make me tear up. I love art, but I admit I still need a lot of practice to become an artist myself.

Because I’m trying to hone my artistic skills (or try hard to draw out any artistic talent in me), I have enrolled in several workshops: drawing & oil pastel, acting, and Minhwa (Korean painting). I found an art school that conducts classes for all ages near my home – the Luna Art Workshop. Because I was a beginner, I took the basic drawing and oil pastel class which was composed of 8 2-hour sessions (total of 16 hours). Included in my enrollment fee are the drawing materials: a sketchpad, pencil, eraser, 24 color oil pastels, and Canson mi-tientes art paper.

On my first day, Teacher Ted taught me the basics of drawing using my sketchpad and pencil. At first I was a bit shy because I was the only adult in the class, but later on I relaxed as Teacher Ted patiently guided me and gave me feedback and tips. The atmosphere in the studio was light and soft music was played, making the students at ease. I practiced drawing shapes, created a pencil gradient, and drew still life objects. I was advised to keep practicing my drawing even at home, so I tuned in on some YouTube and Pinterest tutorials for inspiration. I even started bringing a small notebook in my purse for my doodles.

One of my random drawings while practicing at home.

The following days were dedicated for oil pastel drawing. I was able to make two still life objects, two landscapes (using cool and warm toned subjects), and 2 portraits.

Canson mi-tientes has two sides: rough and smooth, and I drew on the smooth side of the paper. What worked for me was starting with a light sketch before adding the colors and fine-tuning the details.

Of the themes, I was most comfortable drawing still life objects. Still Life

Still Life 2

While I love landscapes, I am still not an expert in doing my own drawings or paintings. So this is something that I continue to practice as much as I can. For now, I still struggle on warm-toned landscape subjects. My goal is to be able to draw or paint a beautiful sunset soon.

Landscape Cool

Landscape Warm
Sunset drawing: a work in progress
A ‘practice’ drawing I did at home.

Portraits were the most complicated ones for me. I tried my best drawing a model, but ended up making something that looked like a cartoon. Teacher Ted was very encouraging, and he said that I did not need to perfect the features of the model, otherwise it would look like a photograph.

For some reason, this portrait looks like me…

I’m glad I found Luna Art Workshop, and my teacher was very supportive. I believe it’s never too late for me to learn so as long as I keep practicing and getting guidance and feedback. My dream is to be a watercolor artist some day so I’m grabbing all the chance I can get to attend these workshops, or spend at least an hour a day to draw or paint at home.

Luna Art Workshop is located at 66 G. Puyat St., BF Homes, Paranaque City, Philippines. For more information, you can find them in Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/artlandph/