Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Only Sane Way to Create...

Yesterday, in my Big Magic post, I talked about fear and creativity and how much I liked Elizabeth Gilbert's book. Today, I'd like to share this passage from the same book that will help us stay sane and continue to create. Here's from page 125:

If people enjoy what you've created, terrific. If people ignore what you've created, too bad. If people misunderstand what you've created, don't sweat it. And what if people absolutely hate what you've created? What if people attack you with savage vitriol, and insult your intelligence, and malign your motives, and drag your good name through the mud?

Just smile sweetly and suggest—as politely as you possibly can—that they go make their own fucking art.
And... I will continue making mine, thank you very much!

P/S: Embrace this paradox: "My creative expression must be the most important thing in the world to me (if I'm to live artistically), and it also must not matter at all (if I am to live sanely)."

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

BIG MAGIC, by Elizabeth Gilbert: Welcoming Speech for Fear

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert is a joy to read. Mail on Sunday says the book is "brimming with positive ways to think about creative living." Huffington Post says "I have profoundly changed my approach to creating since I read this book." Harper's Bazaar says "Gilbert demystifies the creative process, [...]" AND I, Alice Teh, agree with everything that was said.

I say please read this book. Gilbert encourages us to face and accept our fears of creativity. She encourages us to live a life driven by curiosity than by fear. We spend too much time "defending" our weaknesses. I love this quote: "Argue for your limitations and you get to keep them." Why would we want to keep our limitations?

To go anywhere interesting or to do anything interesting, we must learn to travel comfortably alongside our fear. When I reached page 25 of the book, I made a note to myself to own this:
Dearest Fear: Creativity and I are about to go on a road trip together. I understand you'll be joining us, because you always do. I acknowledge that you believe you have an important job to do in my life, and that you take your job seriously. Apparently your job is to induce complete panic whenever I'm about to do anything interesting—and, may I say, you are superb at your job. So by all means, keep doing your job, if you feel you must. But I will also be doing my job on this road trip, which is to work hard and stay focused. And Creativity will be doing its job, which is to remain stimulating and inspiring. There's plenty of room in this vehicle for all of us, so make yourself at home, but understand this: Creativity and I are the only ones who will be making any decisions along the way. [...] p.25
There is no point in trying to kill fear or go to war against it, but it sure makes total sense to make space for it.

Gilbert also talks about not being a stereotyped 'Tormented Artist' (check out page 39 for the list of traits) and she suggested a different approach instead: PARTNER with inspiration. "You can measure your worth by your dedication to your path, not by your successes or failures," says Gilbert. Work steadily, thank the process. Just go make stuff.

With that, my friends, what better way to pass my days than by spending my life collaborating to the best of my abilities with forces of inspiration, and always with gratitude.

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Geeking Out with SwedishPod101

After a two-week break from Swedish language learning, I'm back! I did mostly reviews of basic lessons. Below is the chart of my most recent completion of a study module on SwedishPod101. The module is called Getting Started with and it contains 10 lessons.

What I love most about SwedishPod101 are its audio lessons, notes and transcripts. They're all downloadable. I'm a Premium Account subscriber. My two-year subscription plan will end in October next year. It's highly likely I will renew. I was previously an ItalianPod101 subscriber when I was self-studying Italian four years ago—loved it! For now, onward to my next Swedish lesson!

Check out my Swedish language journey here.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Singapore Orchid Series

In the latest series of photography on my Facebook page, The Weekend Traveler, I am sharing the photos I took a while ago at the National Orchid Garden, which I've grouped into a color theme. In this post, I have pink, yellow and purple for you. I hope you'll like them!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

"Habit" In Action: Duolingo Swedish

I have just finished the chapter HABIT of the book I'm currently reading, My 31 Practices, by Alan Williams and Steve Payne (illustrated by John Montgomery). At the beginning of the chapter, the authors are talking about the Hook Model (Trigger/Action/Variable Reward/Investment) and the Habit Loop (Cue/Routine/Reward), and towards the end they provided an illustration of the approach in a general manner.

The Book: front and back covers.

I decided to "test drive" and adapted it in the context of my Swedish language learning with Duolingo, using pages 115 and 116 as my template. To my delight it was super easy to do! So here goes...

1) At a certain time in the day, I receive a prompt to remind me to practice for the day (PROMPT/CUE).
This is a screenshot from my iPhone. This becomes my first point above.

2) When I click on the Duolingo app (ACTION/ROUTINE), I can see which sections require revision (PROMPT/CUE).

3) I take the time to (PROMPT/CUE) look at those sections and start practicing or completing them (ACTION/ROUTINE).

4) I am pleased to complete them and see the 'bar' becoming full once again (REWARD). Having completed the section(s) requiring strengthening or revising, I start on a completely new module—Duolingo does not allow you to tackle a new module until the current one is completed—and I do the section until it is completed (INVESTMENT).

5) I capture a screenshot of the new level I have passed for reflection and recording (ACTION/ROUTINE).

6) Completing this "process" is motivating because I am confirming to myself I have completed my Swedish language learning, to whatever extent (REWARD). This happens on two levels: first, the Duolingo scoring gives a sense of achievement; second, recording it (screenshots) reinforces it (REWARD) and the accumulation of this data over time builds my connection with the Duolingo approach (INVESTMENT).

7) Sharing my results on my blog or Facebook page or in person with my friends and family serves a similar purpose (REWARD and INVESTMENT).

Seeing how easy it is to "gel" it with what I'm already doing and now seeing it reinforced through what I'm reading is satisfying. I will continue to study the principles in this book and craft my own 31 practices. I've got stuff jotted down already and looking forward to the end result, which I'm sure I will always be refining.

Taking "baby steps"—just one small thing each day is indeed easy to do as part of our daily lives!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

KEDI at The Projector

My day to watch KEDI at The Projector has finally arrived. Tucked away in Golden Mile Tower, The Projector is a hidden gem (it's also one of my favorite spots in Singapore). "Kedi" means cat in Turkish.

At 4 PM-ish I bought my of pint of draft beer at the Intermission Bar (a cafe at the cinema) and promptly deposited myself into the Green Room. The show starts at 4:30 PM. I knew Kedi was sold out and it's VERY important I arrived sufficiently early to secure a "great" seat. It's a free-seating cinema. Awesome.

I fell in love the first minute the documentary started screening, my eyes welled up, I got a little emotional throughout. I swear I could see little hearts flying around the cinema from the seats of my fellow cat lovers. What a beautiful, beautiful story. The people of Istanbul truly love their stray kedi.

Director: Ceyda Torun | Duration: 79 |
Language: Turkish with English subtitles

I cat-napped this synopsis from The Projector: 
Hundreds of thousands of Turkish cats roam the metropolis of Istanbul freely. For thousands of years they’ve wandered in and out of people’s lives, becoming an essential part of the communities that make the city so rich. Claiming no owners, the cats of Istanbul live between two worlds, neither wild nor tame—and they bring joy and purpose to those people they choose to adopt. In Istanbul, cats are the mirrors to the people, allowing them to reflect on their lives in ways nothing else could. Critics and internet cats agree—this cat documentary will charm its way into your heart and home as you fall in love with the cats in Istanbul.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Shakespeare on Toast and Ben Crystal

Tonight is the night. I have been looking forward to meeting Ben Crystal in person. I have some of his father's books (David Crystal is his father) and I've watched their YouTube video a few years ago on the introduction to the 'Original Pronunciation' production of Shakespeare and what they reveal about the history of the English language. It's a really cool video.

Ben Crystal looks even better now. He's got that "ripeness" about him and that's sexy. I know this sounds shallow but I can't help making that observation. He looks like a delicious fruit. Seeing him in action at The Arts House was a treat!

I was thinking about his book, SHAKESPEARE ON TOAST, the whole time he was making magic sprouting words filling us with the wonders of some of Shakespeare's plays, explaining how it's like working with and having an intimate relationship with the legendary playwright. I brought the book home when the night was over.

From the back cover of the book: Actor, producer and director Ben Crystal revisits his acclaimed book on Shakespeare for the 400th anniversary of his death. Shakespeare on Toast knocks the stuffing from the staid old myth of the Bard, revealing his plays for what they really are: modern, thrilling, uplifting drama. Crystal explores his language, his life, his world, his sounds, his craft - and, astonishingly, finds Shakespeare's own voice amid the poetry. 

Whether you're studying Shakespeare for the first time or you've never set foot near one of his plays but have always wanted to, this book smashes down the walls that have been built up around this untouchable literary figure.