Two days ago, I quoted in my previous post about how repetitive actions that we call habits affecting our lives, sometimes in a great way. I had that quote posted because it resonated quite strongly to me, since I know first-handedly how important it is to incorporate some GOOD habits in our daily lives.

Saturday is a choir day, or a music practice day for me. We usually start around 9am, or 10.30am and finish around 1pm. Today, however, I have to stay back because A has got some preparations to do leading to Winter Camp this year, which will commence in 4 days. So, while he’s busy with a soldering iron in one hand and some wires on the other, I need to get myself busy, too. Or else I’ll fall asleep, and there’s no place except the pews for me to sleep on my back.

So I browsed around my favorite blog sites, and I found these posts about habit. They are really good, since one is about writing everyday, and the other one is about waking up early. Exactly what I need.

I have never been a morning person. One of the things that I find quite frustrating is waking up early in the morning. It makes me feel groggy. I don’t know if it’s got to do with me being born at 7pm at night so I am more awake at night and enjoy staying up till late at night, but man, do I struggle. Back in uni days, my semesters were filled with all-nighters of working on the never-ending essays and researches, because I found that I could concentrate much better when the sun was out and my surroundings were quite. No trams clanking along La Trobe street, no building workers drilling their brains out on the new site next door, and no shops opened that late for me to make excuses and roam around city instead. Night time has always been the best, even for writing. Until now.

Maybe I’m getting older. Too old to stay up till four in the morning, a power ‘nap’, and continue the day as usual. I grow exhausted. Maybe that also explains my blotched skin and wrecked mood.

I remember a couple of years ago when I was still working in Surabaya on this below-the-line marketing project, where our main target was school kids around East Java, mostly elementary and secondary schools. We were to promote a new line of lollies through games and small competitions involving the school kids, and the best time to interact with them was in the morning. Schools in Indo normally starts at 7.40am, so we had to be there at least at 7am. I had to wake up around 4.30-5am every day to give enough time for me to get ready, drive to the office, do some stock check, drive to the location, and some preps. I did that for a whole month, everyday. But once the project finished, so did my early rising.

I guess the key is discipline. I cringe when I hear or see that word, because discipline requires a lot of work and demands commitment. But that’s where habit comes in handy, I guess. This dude named Jack Cheng explained in his post 30 Minutes a Day that basically you can learn a new habit by doing it for 30 minutes every day. He referenced his opinion from a research by a professor named Paul Pimsleur, using a Graduated Interval Recall to teach his students to learn a new foreign language.

graphic of spaced vs massed presentation
It’s huge, I know. And I wonder why it doesn’t have a zoom-in/zoom-out icon. Oops.

Anyway, he claimed that the more often you dedicate yourself on this new skill, though for a small amount of time, the more your brain will capture whatever that you’re trying to learn. That is, compared to if you cram everything in two days. That’s why we never remember what we learned in uni (at least for me), unless we put them into practice in some ways, over and over again. Cheng mentioned in his post that, “There are moments when, caught up in the mental resistance that keeps us from getting started, we forget just how enjoyable the act of doing really is.” Like, taking a shower, for instance. It has become a habit, and we actually enjoy it, right? Right? But imagine if taking a shower was never part of our day in the first place, would you think that you would be voluntarily jump into the shower straight-away, even when you know you have to?

Before we were married, Andrew and I used to call each other at night before we went to bed. I had this air purifier machine that belonged to my brother but I took the liberty to slide it to my bedroom for my usage since he’d been back to Indo by that time. Some nights I would forget to turn it on, not realizing that I was missing the beeping and whirling sound during the night. Andrew would remind me every now and then, and there were times when I actually remembered to do it myself. He believed that it took 21 days for one to infuse a new habit, and it was proven.

So, now, I guess I’m interested in trying on this new 30Minute-a-Day challenge. And it indeed will become a challenge, since I am aware that I have taken quite a few ‘challenges’ and plans since March this year, and they have practically been put into a halt. Due to my laziness, or burning out, whatever you want to call it.

Nothing too ambitious this time, hopefully. First one is to write every day. Not impossible, but it is a challenge, since I will (and I really will, believe me) find some excuses that ‘I can’t write today, I need to do this that blablabla”. It’s not how much I write, but how often I write. Maybe I’ll try Jerry Seinfeld’s method,

… pick up one of those wall calendars that had the entire year on a single page. To Seinfeld, becoming a better comedian meant writing every day, so each day Jerry worked on his writing, he would put a big red X in the box for that day. Pretty soon, there’d be a chain of  of red Xs and not breaking the chain became its own motivation.

The second one is waking up early. I will try this method: sleep ONLY when I feel sleepy, and wake up at the same time EVERY morning. Let’s see if I can feel the pain of waking up at 7am when I only drifted to sleep at 2am, just like last night.

This post has reached more than 1,000 words, proving that I actually enjoy the act of doing, don’t I? I just need to remember the joy, or the pain, and the sense of accomplishment once a new post is published.

Until then, we’ll see, huh? :p

I can’t feel my fingers or my toes, and I’m starting to get really hungry, now. Better fetch Andrew soon.

Happy Weekend, everyone!


..without tapping on my MacBook and write down my thoughts in words.

So, what had me so busy that I couldn’t even sit on The Chair and do one of my favorite things for the full month?

Good Friday and Passover weekend.

A wedding. At the winery. With an acute case of bipolar weather during the entire day. Beautifully challenging.

Frenzy shopping for our humble studio.

A visit from my brother and his fiancee from back home. Good food, good laugh, good family time. And two-weekend photoshoot. Dead tired by the end of everything, yet wanting to do it all over again.

A coming trip back to home country. And other trips. I love travelling, really. I just hate planning, especially when I have moi Mama (broken French, sorry) on the other side of the argument team.

Just being me, most of the time. You know what it means.
I really need to step up. Seriously.


unexpected encouragement.

Cruising over my favorite blogs, when I found this;

in the cleft of the rock.

“God said, ‘Look, here is a place right beside me. Put yourself on this rock. When my Glory passes by, I’ll put you in the cleft of the rock and cover you with my hand until I’ve passed by.’”

~ Exodus 33:21-22

Sometimes when it’s the darkest…

God is the closest.

Never thought of this before. This is so unexpected, so encouraging. Thank you for sharing this, Alece.


just being cheeky..

..but after squeezing my brain and milking all the buzzing ideas inside my head onto several posts for the past days, an old post from my early wordpress day came into mind.

Now that the red bowl has got a fairly good amount of turnover, I may or may not be confident enough to say that I can have some variations of rice dishes, just to see which one works and which doesn’t. Hainanese style? Mushroom risotto? Lamb briyani? Seafood paella?

Now I’m hungry.

This one red bowl is getting there. Steadily.

writing: unearthing self – the background

It was around 18 years ago, on one scorching afternoon in Surabaya, kids in white-and-red uniforms were all sitting in pin-drop silence, concentrating on their English test. The only sounds in the room was the ruffles of papers and the tapping of the teacher’s heels, slowly going around, eyes like hawk inspecting the room. I was 10 years old, bored and sweating from the heat, contemplating on what to do while waiting for the bell to ring. Having double-checked the paper for three times and was satisfied with my answers, I decided to challenge my English skill after the stress of the test, and wrote something, anything, in my new favorite language. So I grabbed a piece of tissue, opened the folds until it was completely flat, grabbed my blue pen and started writing. I wrote few simple sentences, (my name is…, I live in…, I have a brother, his name is…), and was about to fill in the last space of the tissue when, all of a sudden, a hand seized the white cloth from below my chin. It was Ms Lenny. She took a quick read of my creation (hah), and decided it wouldn’t do any harm on today’s test’s integrity, she put it back on my desk. I could feel all eyes were on me, and I could feel the heat rising up on my ears.

The next time the same thing happened was when I was in year 11. It was during a Bahasa Indonesia test, and I was bored. So I grabbed an empty paper, and wrote a song. Or a poem. This time, I didn’t even get to finish the piece, when the teacher snatched it from my hand. She had a read, and put it back on my table, and commented silently, “you should consider to be a writer”.

My childhood was filled with books. I’m pretty sure I had more books than Barbies or Play-Doh sets. My Mum bought me numerous book sets; from kid stuffs like Disney stories and fairy tales, to anthropology, astronomy, history and biology. Yes, she thought I would be interested in those kind of subjects at 10. But I really was. They’ve got the English version, and I remember I would marvel upon the wordings and the pictures and how amazingly colorful our world is. During my school time in Indo, my grades were always above average when it came to literature and art, and everything that involve human being, and I sucked so bad at Maths and anything else that has to do with numbers and logics. Oh, I sucked at athletics, too. I guess because it had to do with logic.

I was awkward as a kid (and I think I still am), so books were my refuge, my place where I could be myself. I wrote diaries, too, growing up, and was quite committed for some years. Man, where are those books, now. When I found out about blog, I was ecstatic. I started writing online using Friendster’s facility, which I can’t remember the name, and now I can’t find it on Google. Great. I’m pretty sure I’ve got the content transferred to my Facebook Notes, so yes, I hope everything is there.

In year 9, we were asked what kind of career we’d like to see ourselves in after we graduated. I answered, “anything to do with singing/music, writing, and movies”. My friends thought I wanted to be an actress or a singer, which was completely wrong because I hate being the centre of attention. So I figured I could be working along those lines, only behind the scene. That’s why I took Professional Screenwriting in 2006; writing, movies, behind the scene. Perfect. But somewhere along the way I realized that it was not my passion. Making movies is not my forte; I just love telling stories. Making movies have some limitations when it comes to creativity. First of all, it needs manpower for it to be made. It involves so many things to be considered, and it’s not cheap. Some may think I’m a coward, ‘you haven’t even try yet, and you want to quit?’. I said nothing about quitting, though. I just feel that when it comes to movie-making, ‘writing’ can be faked. In most cases, you write not because it’s what you feel, you write because you have to sell something. In the end, when you write you will pursue something that is far from what writing is about; honesty.

It is right to say that you have to work, to produce something. Some may say that money is not everything, but dude, without money you can’t do anything. Without money, I can’t pay the bills for electricity and internet connection, to buy a laptop and books and everything else that will help my writing. But whenever possible, I will stand my ground and be true to myself. Not to be liked, but to be hold accountable when needed be.

Writing has always been in me. And as I grow older, I learn that, for me, writing is about honesty. The stronger word, which I fearfully use, is integrity. When I unveil my thoughts and stream them down in words, concreting my hope and my fear, first of all I want it to be true. Not necessarily to be right, because I’m far from perfect, but to take writing as an act of unearthing myself; of finding and rediscovering myself. This much I owe to my Maker, and to those who will care to share my life (in person or in writing), that I am willing to give nothing less.

And let the journey of unearthing self begin.
Inspired by: The Writer’s Manifesto, by Jeff Goins.

an intermezzo..

quite an unapparent habit of mine:

taking-over bemo/angkot/”the crazy Indo’s public transport which only the driver and God know where they are heading to” on the way to work.

And I’m having this sense of unhealthy accomplishment after doing that. Feels like a superwoman hahahaha..

Pardon the randomness. Now get back to work, peeps.