Thursday, 25 February 2016

onward with curiosity

Hi all, how's it going? 

I thought I'd just do a quick post here because there were some thoughts in my mimd that I wanted to share ;) and we all know how much I tend to procrastinate with blog posts nowadays.

It's been a really great year so far. Then again, I always assume that the year will be great since I'm of the Dragon zodiac sign, which, thankfully, is always a fortuitous creature. X) But more tangibly, work has definitely improved. I no longer dread going to work every day which was what I had been feeling for so many months last year. It's different now. While I wouldn't say that I would want to do this in the long run, I can definitely see myself sticking with this rotation for a longer period of time. And every morning when I wake up simply not dreading work... I feel an immense sense of gratitude. Always a good way to start off the day.

In my last post, I talked about Elizabeth Gilbert's great book called Big Magic, which is basically her call to everyone to lead a more creative life. One in which "your decisions are based more strongly on curiosity than fear". I love that line so much. And I think it's something that I want in my life as a guidepost; something to help me make decisions when I'm faced with a situation that might end with me turning away from something great out of fear. I think it's going to enable me to live and create an extraordinary life in its own way. ;)

So basically what I'm trying to say is... I started learning how to sew. HAHA. Unexpected? Well, I can't believe it's taken me so long. It was pure serendipity, finding out that a friend's friend happened to be my former secondary school classmate who now does custom clothing designs for people (think gorgeous evening gowns and cheongsams mmmm) as a hobby/part time affair. Not only we were able to rekindle a friendship, but I was definitely inspired by her to learn to sew. Hopefully one day I'll be able to sew my own cheongsam. That's the eventual aim. When I told my mum that she was like, "Puh-lease. That's really hard!" and I was like, "FINE. Watch me then!" I think that's how the interactions with my mum went for a lot of my childhood. ;) Me, always wanting to prove her wrong and do whatever she thinks I don't have the ability/capacity to do. Maybe one day I'll find out it's all a secret method on her part to spur her kid to do things. In the meantime, I have started sewing at a local dressmaking studio. I'm only three classes in but I'm enjoying it so much. My first class, I was literally over the moon. The entire time and even after class, I had that heady rush of excitement and sheer happiness buzzing through me. It had been so so long since I'd felt that way. The feeling of endless possibility balled up inside of me. There's just no better feeling in life is there? Or at least, it's among the top of my list of Best Feelings. Of course, the initial thrill has diminished somewhat, because I'm still only in the beginner's phase of drawing sketches of skirts in my draft book. Sketch after sketch after sketch...measurement after measurement... correction and erasure after correction and erasure... But the teacher did say to me that another 4 more sketches or so and then I should be good to go. Didn't quite clarify with her about what she meant by 'good to go'. Did she mean I can start to... learn about fabric? Touch the sewing machine? Draft out the pattern on tracing paper? But I'm taking it slow and steady. A part of me feels like a primary school kid again, doing penmanship for Chinese characters. In that state of ignorance and forcing myself to do rote work because I have to. But now at least I have the ability to imagine the big picture; in that this will all make sense sooner or later and it is important work to build my foundation for sewing. Maybe that's what it means to grow a little older and, hopefully wiser. (Sadly, yes, I have become a year older this month.) You start to see beyond the immediate and begin to understand that maybe there's something larger awaiting us. But we can only fully appreciate it when we get there eventually.

Which brings me on to another aspect of learning which I thought was a real gem of an insight. I've been watching a lot of videos from Jonathan Field's Good Life Project. He's a lawyer turned entrepreneur/yoga-teacher/growth strategist (according to his bio) and his videos with all sorts of people (some experts in their fields/some entrepreneurs themselves) are really fascinating. I first discovered him when I watched an interview he did with Brene Brown and after that I was just so interested by his interviews with people. At the end of each interview, he always ends off with the question, What does it mean to you to lead a Good Life? And the answers are always inspiring in their own ways. Do check them out!

So this interview that I happened to listen to was with Leo Babauta, who was sharing his story of how he had changed his entire life mindfully to focus on simplicity and only the things he needed. One point that they had belaboured that I found fascinating was actually their thoughts on learning. They both came to that same conclusion that when you learn something, you always reach an initial point where you become comfortable with the subject and think that you're actually really good at it. But as Jonathan said, "If you keep seeking after that point, you fall off a cliff." That's when you realise that you actually know nothing. "You get enough mastery and enough comfort with what you know to start to open another door... that allows you to see how much you don't know." I just thought that that made so much sense. That really resonated with me for pretty much everything that I've learnt so far. We often learn something we're interested for a while and we keep at it till we're semi proficient in it. But then inevitably there reaches a point when it becomes difficult...and then give up. Not realising that that part that's difficult is often the bridge we have to cross in order to gain even more depth, wonder and power from that which we're learning. To become really good at something/realise that we actually know so little. But there's also a beauty in knowing that we're on this journey of learning and that it'll never end.

Elizabeth Gilbert echoed that sentiment as well in Big Magic. Talking about how people tend to give up when things become hard in their creative endeavours. But as her friend, Rob Bell, says, "Don't rush through the experiences and circumstances that have the most capacity to transform you." When things stop being easy or rewarding, we shouldn't just give up or let go of our courage. Because "that's the moment when interesting begins".

I could go on and on about these million and one insights gained from reading her book and watching her interviews... but maybe one thing at a time. ;) I would highly recommend you check them out as well. 


So far, I'm really grateful that I've been able to work on my new year's resolutions with a fair amount of success. I've been participating in a couple of different exercise classes and my absolute favorite would have to be this Body Combat class that I discovered a few months ago. It's kinda like kick-boxing but without the bag to kick. A mixture of martial arts moves with great music that gets the blood pumping and a hilarious/enthusiastic instructor who always makes it fun. Also tried a Reformer pilates class yesterday and while I nearly wanted to keel over halfway because it was HARDDD... I could tell it was good for me. And sure enough, today I already feel stronger in my core muscles and legs. So at Body Combat class today, I suddenly felt this sense of fantastic well-being, mid jump. The feeling that I think I've never been stronger or fitter (and hopefully healthier) in my life for such a long time. And I couldn't be more grateful for the chance to do something good for my body. We only have one body and mind in this life and one of the best things we can do for ourselves is invest in our bodies and in our health. ;) Hopefully you feel motivated to do something good for your own body as well. 

Hokay, TGIF tomorrow. Here's to a beautiful rest of the week.