Sharing some notes from my journal:
Today, I choose to be the person I want to be. Faithful. Grateful. Courageous. Positive. Joyful. Hardworking. Focused. Disciplined. Confident.
Today, I choose to do the work I want to do. Work that gives me purpose and meaning. Work that allows me to contribute to society or at least changes someone else’s life for the better. Work that makes me feel alive.
Today, I choose to accept myself. In spite of my sins, my shortcomings, my weaknesses, my failures, and my limitations.
Today, I choose to see what’s good in me. Even if it means searching deep within me.
Today, I choose to love myself. Even when I haven’t proven anything yet. To myself and to others.
I pray that you also find it in your heart to love yourself… today.
Because of my day job as a writer, I’m using my laptop every day for eight hours. During my break time, I read ebooks on my tablet or watch basketball highlights or funny videos on YouTube using my phone. In the morning or at night, I write blog posts using my laptop again and draw illustrations on my tablet. I also use my laptop to write my thanksgiving journal before I go to sleep. And if I am not doing any of those, I’m probably watching movies on TV.
When I had my driver’s license renewed last week, I went through an eye test and the doctor asked me whether I blinked or not. She said there was a problem with my eyes. But since I was able to read the letters on the eye chart, she told me that I probably just blinked. Not wanting to be re-tested, I just said, “Probably,” and continued with the renewal process.
But the truth is, my right eye has been twitching for the past month and I couldn’t see with it as clearly as before.
So, I decided to spend less time on my devices.
Aside from that health reason, I’ll be spending less time on my devices for creative reasons.
Stealing from Austin Kleon, I will use my devices only to finish what I’m creating. I will create (that is, draw and outline my blog ideas) on index cards and publish them using my laptop.
I like what he wrote on his book, Steal Like An Artist:
“Just watch someone at their computer. They’re so still, so immobile. You don’t need a scientific study (of which there are a few) to tell you that sitting in front of a computer all day is killing you, and killing your work. We need to move, to feel like we’re making something with our bodies, not just our heads.”
There really is joy and excitement when you are able to touch what you created, not just being able to see it on your screen. And yes, when you're offline or away from your screens, you also notice what's around you. Like how I just noticed that wonderful tree that has always been outside my window. Has it always been there?
Hat tip: Austin Kleon
P.S. Moving forward, I will post more “index card drawings” than digital ones. I might also post more than one drawing on my Instagram account: @carlocruzph. “Might.”
There is physical work. It is when we use the strength of our bodies to produce a good or deliver a service.
There is mental work. It is when we use our thoughts, imagination, and intellect like delivering valuable insights to make things better, creating a plan to run things faster, and coming up with a solution to operate processes more efficiently.
Everyone always does these two types of work, but at varying degrees. While manual labor requires a lot of physical work, workers are still required to follow rules and instructions which takes mental work to understand. On the other hand, white collar workers exert a lot of energy doing mental work. But, they still need to have the physical capacity to endure long hours of thinking, analyzing, and presenting their ideas on paper, on their screens, on the stage, or on any other medium.
Finally, there is emotional work. Emotional work is when we put our emotions into what we do. Most of the time, emotional work also evokes the same feelings from others. Emotional work is what makes an article, a book, a drawing, a painting, a performance, or even a spreadsheet a work of art. Art is not created by the beautiful words in a book, the masterful strokes in a painting, the gracefulness of a dance step, or the vivid colors of a photograph. Art is created by the emotions we put into our work.
However, not many of us do emotional work. Because many of us are afraid to do emotional work.
Emotional work requires that we invest not only our time, but our entire selves into what we do. We pour our love, our pains, our joys, our beliefs, our failures, and our triumphs into what we do. When we do emotional work, we are opening ourselves up and becoming vulnerable. And when the products of our emotional work get rejected, we feel as if our very selves are rejected.
That’s often the reason why our workplaces are devoid of emotions and why the work that we do are uninspiring. People are afraid not only for their work to be rejected, but also their very selves. They are afraid to be vulnerable.
When we make mistakes doing physical work, the product is often easy to repair or to rebuild. It is easy to just do a better job.
When we make mistakes doing mental work, it is often easy to revise or correct our work. We also learn from our mistakes and move on.
But, our emotions are never right or wrong. When our emotional work gets rejected, it is difficult to identify what went wrong and what we can improve on. We blame our emotions for failing us. Or we blame ourselves. And so, we begin to refrain from doing emotional work., from being too invested in what we do, and from being fully human at work.
All three types of work are risky. There is always a risk of failure or, more positively, a chance of success. Emotional work risks the possibility of experiencing the most pain. But, it also offers the chance for the most joy and fulfillment.
I have always believed that there’s an artist in every one of us. At one point in your life, you may have felt the itch to draw, to write, to act, to dance, to sing. To simply create. To make something you can call your own.
When we were younger, we scratched this itch unreservedly, without any hesitation. We showed our “creation” to our parents or to any audience we can find. Even when we didn’t show our work to others, we created.
But now, we hesitate to scratch that itch. Something happened along the way. Maybe we found someone who was much better at what we wanted to do. Maybe someone or some event discouraged us into believing that we were not good enough. Maybe we felt stuck and assumed that we were already at a dead-end. Or maybe all of the above.
I stopped drawing when I was in high school because I saw someone who drew so much better than I did without copying from another art and taking less time. Since then, I stopped filling my notebooks with doodles and art. Since then, I was afraid to show my work.
It took me 13 years before I started drawing again. I have been drawing (albeit inconsistently) for the past year and I feel like I have ways to go before I even get back to the level where I was at when I was younger. But, I’m no longer afraid to show my work once again.
I can’t pinpoint what really changed. Maybe I became braver or more confident. Maybe I learned, no, relearned, to be true to myself and to pursue what I’m truly passionate about. Maybe I re-learned to create just because I want to. (Yes, even if my blog’s readership doesn’t grow, I will continue doing this simply because I want to.) Or maybe, again, all of the above.
“If you want to make a masterpiece, you have to be willing to create a little garbage along the way.”
Maybe I just learned to write, to draw, and to create without being afraid of failing anymore.
Hat tip: James Clear