RIP Anthony Bourdain

I wrote about Anthony Bourdain’s philosophy in life years back, how “not give a fuck” worked as a great business model for him. I guess it worked for a while for him.

But we do give a fuck. In some way or form. Usually, on matters close to our heart.  And we all have stuff we do care about deeply.

I don’t know what made him give up such a beautiful life. It will be forever a mystery hidden in the depths of his rebellious heart, for all the world to wonder for years to come.

But all I know is that in the years he was alive, he gave so much to the world, and so much of himself. And that is enough. He has left the world a little better because of it.

I want to do the same, and not waste a day more.

Rest in peace, Tony.

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It All Started with DIY Deodorant

You know how when you do one thing and it leads to a million other things? The internet and Google and YouTube videos and Instagram hashtags do that to you.

I just wanted an alternative to toxic, chemical-filled deodorant. Which lead me to crystal deodorant (alum) which didn’t quite do it for me. Which lead me to DIY deodorant made of coconut oil, baking soda and essential oils. Holeymoley, does this recipe work. And it’s cheap, too.

Which led me to the zero waste lifestyle, which I find is naturally aligned with my eco vegan beliefs. So what happens? This happens: I go through a whirlwind of trying to align my life with my values. And I discover Bea Johnson, Lauren Singer and Ariana Schwarz.  And so…. this is the result:

  1. I make my own deodorant now. It’s so simple: it’s made from coconut oil, baking soda and lavender essential oils. I put it in a plastic container for now, and brought it with me in my recent trip to Hong Kong. Will transfer to a glass jar soon.
  2. I make my own toothpaste. I use an ayurvedic powder with bamboo charcoal powder. This is so amazing, I am thinking of putting it on Kickstarter. I am sorry I ever got swayed into buying toothpaste in plastic dispensers.
  3. I made my own reusable cotton pads from cotton waffle fabric. I effing should have done this years ago. It’s mindblowingly easy and practical. There are many tutorials on YouTube. My FIT fashion classes have helped me do this by hand (no sewing machine needed, though it would look cool if I still had my edging machine). Not to mention, this saves me money on disposable cotton pads, saves the planet and keeps me from nasty chemicals.
  4. I am slowly transitioning from plastic to glass and stainless steel. I have a growing glass jar collection, got my own S’well bottle and mason jars, and am waiting for my stainless steel lunch box.
  5. I ordered a diva cup online. Cross fingers it works for me. Will see how it goes.
  6. I use a safety razor now. I was loyal to the Mach 3 razor for years and years. It was really good. But now that I realize how many plastic cartridges I’ve littered the planet with, I feel ashamed and am not looking back. It is the best thing you can do, girls.
  7. I carry around a mess kit. In my bag, I try to always bring a wooden fork and spoon, bamboo straw, cloth napkin and a water tumbler with me at all times to avoid plastic cups, cutlery and napkins.
  8. I just did my first attempt at zero waste grocery shopping at the wet market yesterday. Insert fanfare. And it was not as hard as I imagined it would be. Well, it confused the stall owners for a bit as they didn’t speak much English. But I made two other customers refuse plastic after they watched me hand over my cotton produce bags to use instead of plastic. Win! Two fails: I did fail at two things: bought fresh coconut milk in plastic, and gave in to a half of a squash wrapped in plastic. I didn’t want to buy a whole squash because it would just spoil.
  9. I use a bamboo toothbrush now. Never going back to plastic toothbrushes again. I still have a lot of plastic ones, free ones I get from hotels. But eventually, will be 100% plastic free soon.
  10. I avoid one time use and plastic items. When I buy groceries now, I see if they are package free. If they’re packaged, prefer glass over plastic to re-use the jar, and paper over anything else so it can be composted.

Now that I look back, it was inevitable. I’ve been eating plant based for years now (since 2010), and avoided fast food forever unless necessary. I still eat at Subway for the veggie wrap though. My only vice is Coke Zero, and am trying to reduce this soon to maybe once a week until I go down to zero. I’ve been carrying a handkerchief for the longest time till I switched to baby wipes. Now that I’ve realized how harmful they are for the planet, I’m foregoing them for good. My mom always made us bring one when we were growing up. And it’s as easy as tossing them into the wash and reusing them again.

I still have a long way to go. My beauty products are all in plastic containers and jars. Willf finish them up one by one, then slowly transition. Though I don’t know where I can get shampoo and conditioner in bulk in Singapore. My thinking is to go to Lush for a soap bar or check online for a package-free handmade soap made locally. Will see. For now, I’ve sunk into the zero waste black hole and there is no turning back.

 

 

 

 

Not Giving a F

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The Life Philosophy of Anthony Bourdain

Just putting this here. Anthony Bourdain just put into words what I thought about today.

Nothing Lasts

Mental light bulb moment. Hang on now this will be a rambling post. But you know, after many years, I realize I finally know what I am and what I believe in. This is my life philosophy and I am putting it out there: I truly believe in the impermanence and imperfection of things, people and situations; that there is beauty in the flawed and the broken. The world is always aiming to or striving to be perfect despite always being imperfect. The journey to better oneself is amazing but it will never end. Because no one can be perfect.

As Richard Powell eloquently says it, “Nothing lasts. Nothing is finished. Nothing is perfect.”

Like the wabi sabi philosophy and aesthetic I am drawn to, my belief is centered on the acceptance of the transient. I did some research, and apparently, the wabi sabi idea arises from Buddhist beliefs in impermanence, suffering and the emptiness or absence of self-nature.

Ironically, it is linked to or said to have influenced Agile programming and the Japanese art of kinstukuroi pottery, something I have been intuitively drawn to in terms of how I manage work and life, and to objects and designs I seem to be drawn to.

Jack Dorsey, the founder of Twitter and Square, also promotes the wabi sabi philosophy in design. Am still doing some research on books that can explain the movement further. Will have to make a list of the books soon.

And really, when you’re always a work in progress, you never stop growing and learning. Ironically, it’s the smartest people I admire who say they know that they don’t know everything. No one is perfect. But even in imperfection, you keep striving to better yourself. I think that is the key.

Hello from Singapore

It’s been forever since I posted here. Ages in fact. As mentioned in my last post, I figured, after a certain age, you stop analyzing and overprocessing things in your head and just do things. After 40, I guess, that’s how it goes. It gets old (literally!) just making lists and plans. You just have to act. Execute. Shut up, stop talking about plans. Go and do it.

Certainly, since my last post, that has been the theme in my life. You only get better at life really when you live it. That’s one thing I have learned in life that I have embraced. And that’s mostly what I’ve strived and tried to do.

But lately I’ve been in a more contemplative mode and wanted to record the many cool things happening in my life. I find it helps me see how far I’ve come when I look back at the old me and see how much I’ve grown as a person. Also, it helps me remember important memories or realizations I may otherwise have forgotten.

And surprisingly, this “doing” more than thinking thing I think has helped me in some way in life. It has helped me learn tremendous amount of things in short bursts of time. But only because I am in a space where I am truly interested in so many things and am in a mindset to absorb them quickly.

You know how you feel you’re forever stuck in a rut and don’t think anything new will happen to your life? I ignored that voice because from experience, listening to it doesn’t help you. So I just kept working hard, learning and improving myself, focusing on doing things well one at a time. I also tried to silence that voice in my head that keeps telling me to do more, more, more and to focus in the moment, to relish the experience, to be in the present. In the process, I felt just grateful everyday thay I was doing what I loved and had this amazing opportunity to be alive and be learning. How amazing is that?.

And yes. Let’s talk about Singapore.

It is the LAST country I would have wished to be assigned to or live in. I would have preferred bustling and creative Hong Kong, or energetic New York but Singapore? Let’s just say I was reluctant to go if not for the challenge of trying something new.

But things have a way of changing your perception of things.

And so here I am, over two years past and I’ve learned to love and appreciate life here in this beautiful tiny garden city state. What they say about this country is true. It’s super efficient, clean, safe and just plain easy. It’s easy to move around and everything seems to get done in less than 20 minutes. The food is amazing in its variety and it’s no surprise that Anthony Bourdain loves going back here for the food. I have learned to love Singapore. It has been very kind and giving to me.

Also, as an aside, there is a reason why Singaporeans are called the Germans of Asia. They make things happen! They truly are doers. Like majorly. So efficient. So no-nonsense. Tolerant of diversity. So open to different cultures. It is hot though but transportation is so Singapore easy. If you can make Singapore an adjective, it would be “efficient”.

Since arriving here, I have moved to another apartment which I love and also moved jobs. I’ve made a ton of new friends, old and new, and learned to cook many new dishes. I’ve essentially become more of an adult, albeit still surrounded by people younger than I am. I think I’ve learned to live later in life, the stereotypical late bloomer, thatln most people my age mostly because I was a bit sheltered while growing up.

But now this is me and I have lived life in my own terms, following my own path, choosing my own life landmarks and ignoring the ones “imposed” on me if I were otherwise living back home. I love who I have become. I truly am. I love life. The good. The not so good. The bad. I have become those irritatingly positive, happy people I used to be irritated by. 🙂 

I’ve started to learn Mandarin and have embraced the culture, the food and the hot, humid weather. 

I will enroll in intermediate Mandarin soon, though I know I still need to brush up on my kindergarten level Mandarin. 

They say it’s good to learn a new language because it stimulates different parts of your brain so I am doing this every year: learning a new language. I’ve started already and my next goal is to get more fluent.
I love that Singapore is so central to everywhere else, it’s so easy to travel everywhere in Southeast Asia. And also so easy to order things overseas!

I have traveled a lot and enjoyed my time alone. I have truly and genuinely reached a stage where I am so happy with who I am and enjoy doing things on my own. It will be truly hard for me to live with other people I think (except of course my cool flatmate). I can’t imagine living back home again or living with someone new. It’s not something I welcome. But who knows. Change is the only constant as they say.

I am deeply, truly, really happy right now. I read somewhere about people who are survivors or who succeed in life. Many things have happened in my life. I have done many great things. Stupid things. Silly things. Bad things. I have endured many things most people would have not survived without experiencing a nervous breakdown. But people who have gone through a lot and survive? They have what they describe as a “locus of control.”

I am happy to say I have that. I focus on what I can control. Ignore what I can’t.  So no matter what life tosses onto my plate, bad, good, horrible, I have that. It calms me. Makes me sane. I am the only one who can control my life. And finally, I can and I am doing so. It’s the most amazing realization and feeling in the world. No, am not on some feel good drug. This is all natural.

Regrets? Who Me?

Life’s slowed down a bit. I have more precious, precious time to spend with family, to renew one’s self and most especially, to just sleep and be a slob the whole day. 

I like it when I relax and just chat with my mom and we catch up the whole day. I treasure these moments more and more with her the older I get. I can actually say I know what it feels to love and be loved purely and without limits and love is great because she has shown me how. And I’m not talking about just romantic love. I can honestly say that if I didn’t have my mom in this world, I would weep – that’s how much I love her.  And that’s a big thing coming from stoic me. 

When I was younger, I never thought this way. I would rather go out than spend time with her or with family. I was just always excited to be out with friends and checking out the latest bar or restaurant or travelling. I was always thinking about ME.

I know I’ve grown up when I value time, family and values above everything else. It’s not something I understood in my 20s or even 30s. I was just too busy always chasing a goal or a dream or a self-imposed personal deadline. But now I get it. And I embrace it and accept it.

Today, after some more work got out of the way, I had time to think about the past year. I mindlessly stumbled upon this article: “37 Things You’ll Regret When You’re Old.” And know what? I mentally said “Check!” after each and every item with a smile.

At number 37, I giggled with delight with the realization that I will not regret anything when I get older (see that? I said old-er, not old). I’ve lived a full life. Ugh did I say that? I feel old.

But the best is yet to come. Still so much to do and experience. Am just happy I’ve been there, done that.

Well, I hesitated a bit with #7. I was on it for a while but I’ve forgotten all about this part. Working on that again soon. Yoga here I come.

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Appropriate Risk

It’s been a while since I updated this blog. Life and work have overtaken the need to record things that have happened. But this morning, I felt compelled to share something I’ve read because I believe in it wholeheartedly. Hat tip to Nolan Bushnell, founder of Atari:

“I don’t strive for failure. But what you want to do is strive for appropriate risk. One of the ways you can thwart appropriate risk is by making the penalties for failure high. It’s a little bit like the Catholic church and their idea of forgiveness and absolution and all that. Most employees who are really good employees, if they screw up, they feel really bad about it. What you want to do is you want to give them absolution.”

“I defy you to find somebody who’s known as an innovator or visionary who hasn’t had multiple failures. It’s really about doing. It’s really about … being a prime mover that allows you to become a visionary. It’s an uncharted path, and when you’re on an uncharted path you end up in a cul de sac every once in a while. That doesn’t mean that your overall direction isn’t correct. You just have to back up and maybe move a little bit more to the right this time, or to the left.”

Source:  Atari founder: Tim Cook isn’t the ‘next Steve Jobs’, Doug Gross

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2012: Year-ender

In a word, it was “kick ass”. In a sentence: “It was a year of less planning and more doing and creating”.

Grateful for the blessings, the opportunities, the friendships (old, new and renewed) and the countless experiences, both good and bad, that shaped the past year. Grateful for another year to do more, to give more and to love more. Grateful for the gift of life. In 2013, let’s not waste it with the unimportant, the trivial and the commercial.

Here’s wishing you an even more kick ass new year!

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Project: Nose

As they say in “Clueless”, “Project!” Wait, did I just reveal my age with that sentence? Anyway, I digress.

I mean, it’s not as if am not already busy, but I just had to do this after mulling about it for a few nights. So one day I just thought: “Screw it, let’s do it”, Branson-style. I’ve been working on weekends and after the day job tinkering on this side project but it’s been in my mind for a long time. What about, you may ask? Well, I’ve been mixing parfums, perfume, or pabango to you fellow Pinoys.

It began one day when I got curious about how these perfumes I bought were made. I really love perfumes, but after buying expensive bottles of them (Creed and L’Occitane, my wallet hates you), at the back of my mind was lodged an idea: “I should really make mine own.” How hard could it be, especially now with all the  information on the Internet, right?

That’s just me, I guess. When I’m curious about something, I research the hell out of it and find out all about it. So I did!

I took a class on a weekend at Grasse Fragrance in Makati. Bought tools and tons of oils from all around the Metro the next couple of days. Compared, sniffed, tested, blended, surfed and Googled till kingdom come. Downloaded e-books. Scanned local and foreign suppliers, blogs and sellers. Read through all the kinds of perfumes available from the different perfume houses, from Givaudan to IFF and became familiar with Ambroxan, Super ISO E and Calone (which I plan to order). And did you know that there are people whose job designation is actually called “Perfumer”, as in, someone who creates perfumes? How effing cool is that!

I never really told anyone except a few of my friends. I just thought: Why is there no innovation in Filipino perfumes? I would love to create an all natural line that made use of Philippine materials.

My dad would have poo-pooed another of my serial and ephemeral hobbies with a rolling of eyes. But for the first time in 20 or so years, I was using Erlenmeyer flasks, test tubes and glass stirring rods. And I hated Chemistry in high school. Turns out, this kind of Chemistry is so much fun!

My first few experiments were a hit with my family and friends. Not much of an objective audience, you might say. But if you knew my honest to a fault family, it means it’s really good. But later on, I actually started getting customers. Like, people who aren’t related to me in any way.

Initially, this was going to be one of my yearly last quarter projects, where the products that result from my projects become Christmas gifts. But since it’s become a growing expense, I figured, I could make it a business, too. So one night, I bought the domain, used a simple template and just put it all together.

Am excited to create a natural line soon, hopefully with materials I can source locally, but this will be the biggest stumbling block as most of the oils here are imported from abroad. I am thinking we can create more jobs here and promote our products by using scents inspired by our local culture.  These are crazy ideas but what about pinipig (wow, that would be cool), pandan, Milagrosa rice or tamarind in a perfume?

Enough rambling. I invite you to hop on over to Ladelu v.2.  Check it out. Pretty please.

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We Go Through Experiences We Need

I had a nice dinner last Saturday, connecting with a long time friend who was the impetus for me turning vegan. We discussed how far we’ve gone since we discussed our life plans years ago, and how lucky we are to have achieved all our goals, so seemingly far-fetched back then.

We might not be getting 100% of what we want (I mean, who does?) but we are in good places at this stage of our lives and are doing what we love. All the trials and hurdles in the past only were steps that led to where we are now.

So this week’s theme: gratitude. In a spirit of gratitude, I am trying to view everything as a blessing, even problems, irritations and vexing situations. 

And one thing I wish I learned when I was younger: You can do anything you set your mind on. Yes, you absolutely can. And I intend to make my nieces and nephews realize this.

 

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