Photography by Shutterpanda
It’s the first time I’m featuring a family member outside my immediate family here, but I have good reason to. I have so many relatives who are doing wonderful things! Anyway, meet my cousin, Rina Atienza, who recently came back to Manila after growing up, studying and working in England. Way before #Brexit, she came home to Manila to try a new path, and not just work-wise. She knows she is a work in progress (We all are.), and she is navigating her way through the questions we all ask, like “Why am I here?” “What’s my purpose?” “How can I help others?” and so on. What I love is that while she’s at it, she’s got plans and she’s putting herself to work — which I always feel is a positive attitude towards growth.
1. Tell the readers about yourself, what makes you “Rina.”
When my sister’s kids recorded a video greeting for my birthday, they said I was funny, relatable, inspiring, crazy and weird. Out of the mouth of babes, right? I like to think these fall under one trait, which is being playful. Like a boisterous type of Wendy Bird, who keeps running with scissors, Lost Boys brothers, cousins and misfit friends. This manifests in how I see the world, like a child who wants to play it, and test the boundaries of what I can do.
As for why I’m here, the notion of ikigai is something that continues to unfold. I believe it involves faith, hope and love… with sprinklings of games and joyful nerdbait.
2. Please tell us a bit about your life in London. Why move back to Manila?
Becoming British was part of my heritage thanks to my English lolo (grandad), but it was my half-Kapangpangan mother who sacrificed a great deal and paid the cost of her children’s citizenship. I absolutely love being a Londoner. I treasure the richness of its history, art, park life, and all the adventures I had with friends.
After 21 years in the UK, I moved back to the Philippines to answer a calling that had been constant for some time. In Jan 2015, I attended an ‘unconventional’ retreat to Morocco, and discovered I was ready to explore what I could do with my Filipino roots. There wasn’t a catalyst as such, rather a matter of timing, or as they say in Tagalog, “naboo yung loob ko,” and there were signs that affirmed my decision. My heart was willing to serve in whatever capacity God was willing to deploy me. I frame it as a quest to expand my ‘world domination’ game, and I’m here with an allegorical bag of magic beans, to trade for sacred carabaos and plant in tropical soil.
Oh, as a small aside, I was craving the sunshine and beach life as extra perks that come with the kind of hanap buhay I want to create.
Photography by Shutterpanda
3. We speak of “bliss” on this space as a mindset, a way of living one’s life with meaning. What, for you, is a life of meaning, based on where you are in your life stage.
In 2009, an annus horribilis, my friend Elysia (her name uncannily means ‘blissful’) recommended I check out Rob Bell, who that year published ‘Drops Like Stars: A Few Thoughts on Creativity and Suffering’. It was a timely intervention because it helped me see that our making is in our breaking:
“Many of the most significant moments in our lives come not because it all went right but because it all fell apart. Suffering does that. It hurts, but it also creates.”
When it comes to ‘passion’, it’s more than having a lust for life or a project, because its etymological origin is in ‘suffering’. Joy is found when we overcome darkness and despair, remembering that hope is contained within pandora’s box – We always have the choice to convert towards more positive outcomes.
I am not chasing perfection or happiness. Like many people, I have an itemised wish list of work in progress desires and dreams, and I remind myself to be thankful for what I’ve received so far, rather than worrying about what I haven’t got… yet.
I’m currently working on various income streams to sustain a free-range lifestyle. When someone comments “You’re glowing”, sure, maybe it’s the tan from sunny beach trips, but in truth, it’s because one shines by being at peace with who you are. It’s a process that involves acceptance of everything that has been in the past, being gratefully content with the here and now, and optimistic about a bright future.
Meanwhile, am also learning how play the guitar, rock climb, surf, practice kundalini yoga…
4. Let’s talk about your advocacy, which you brand under “Evil Schemes, Ltd.” What is it, exactly? It intrigues me.
In 2013 I was encouraged by mentors to brave doing freelance work. I was meant to create some kind of company. That inspired me to be a founder of a creative agency, but one that doesn’t’ officially exist, though is nevertheless a real enterprise. I have this unusual nickname given to me at university called ‘eevilmidget’ – I chose the persona of a ‘wicked person always up to something’, but I apply this seemingly malign model towards more benign experiences.In other words, because like the true villains of the world who never stop plotting their reign of darkness, good agents too should never rest and likewise work for world domination, in order to keep the netherworld at bay.As per Hugh McLeod’s book Evil Plans: Having Fun on the Road to World Domination:
“World domination is about everybody living in their own little world. The planet is just too damn big for one person to take it all in. So every human being seeks out their own little microcosm, and these are the worlds that we want to dominate.”
You can find out more by listening to a radio interview from last year, where I mentioned returning to the Philippines: https://www.mixcloud.com/londoninterview/rina-atienza-the-london-interview-009/
5. You had some experience with the School of Life, London. Concepts like these are new to many in Manila. Please explain what makes this type of “school” relevant.
Traditionally school is an official place (a building) where you’re supposed to study to become numerate and literate, then pass exams and get qualified so you can get a job and have money to pay for things. Many people skip this entirely and seek employment straight away, sometimes by choice but often not. Regardless of educational levels or achievements, LIFE and the universe has its own agenda for tests and lessons.
It is often said that experience is the best teacher of all, hence why storytelling has been a crucial cornerstone for societies. Man cannot live on bread alone, but on every word… that is spoken, written, read and heard by another person. Books, music, painting, movies, Facebook, Twitter, name your text-based technology.
Our species crave information and knowledge. We are all students, as we daily figure out what we do with our lives. However, the ultimate assessment is how we become better human beings, for our personal development, and in our various relationships with other people.
6. What are your plans, moving forward?
I just finished helping out with the production of Art BGC’s 2nd Mural festival in collaboration with Lebasse Projects and Honeycomb Arts.
In addition, I recently passed an exam so that I can be a certified life coach, and will be working with the amazing motivational marketing company TrainStation.
As a social engineer, I’m working towards making the next day better by building on a preferable present and future. The E.S. brand specializes in creative mischief, social experimentation and epic adventures that group people together.
Together with partners, am keen to run radical workshops. Am toying with the idea of some sort of Anti-Finishing School’ for women… like how to unveil their more queenly ability beyond the princess trope. I also intend to write a history or sociology syllabus called ‘World Domination 101’, as I plan on teaching in universities at some point.
Looking forward to collaborating with Rina on the last part in particular. To reach her, you may send her an email or contact her on social media. Visit her blog at evilschem.es
The Blissmakerie has always been about bringing together women from the creative and entrepreneurial commmunities, all in the spirit of collaboration. Last June 5th, we had a chance to meet up again with one another. For the first time, it was a mom-oriented Blissmakerie, made possible by a partnership with The Parenting Emporium. I have so much love for this organization and parenting hub, because it is so inclusive, so supportive of moms from all walks of life, all styles of parenting. So when Beng Feliciano and Maricel Cua — best friends the dynamic duo behind TPE — proposed that we do a Blissmakerie with their partner brands, I said “yes” immediately.
Together with event partners The School of Styling and Bizu Patisserie, the Blissmakerie originally was planned as a pre-Mother’s day gathering, to be held on the last weekend of April. However, my baby contracted some form of German Measles a day before the event, and so I didn’t push through with it. We waited for a free date when all of us would again be available, and it was set for June 5th, thereby becoming a “post-Mother’s Day” event, hehe!
The venue was gorgeously styled by The School of Styling’s Indy Ycasiano. This woman is a magician. I learned about Indy through Amanda of Glamomamas.com. I’d seen her parties in other blogs and websites, so when I finally got to meet her sometime last year, it was like a fan girl moment for me. And to have her working on the Blissmakerie was amaaaaaazing, a privilege!
The photography for the event was by Kaizer Photography, who is actually the hubby of my friend and collaborator for my kids’ Fluffy Pwets’ line, Tina de Guzman. (Thank you, Reindl, for these gorgeous photos!!!)
As you can see, everyone went into full Instagram mode before the gathering began. I mean, how could you not with a setup as pretty as this? I was saying that if I were to do my wedding again, I’d get Indy to style it. Haha! Maybe on my 10th anniversary?
Yes, folks, that is how to get the perfect flatlay: Height! Haha!
We had a gorgeous spread by Bizu. I remember being blown away by the coddled eggs, the soft-shell crab, the gnocchi and shrimps, the roast beef, the DIY pavlovas for dessert…. gaaaaaaah. And did I mention each table had a wooden slab of terrines and cheeses that were almost too pretty to eat? (I’ll be doing a separate post just about the food. That’s how much it deserves, a feature of it’s own! Haha!)
As for the gathering, well, it was more casual than our usual Blissmakerie. Yes, the participating brands were able to have some time up at the front to talk about their businesses and advocacies, but what was more fun and meaningful were the conversations that happened at table. And this is really what we love most about this gathering: It’s about connecting with real people on the same journey. In this case, we had lots of mompreneurs and a handful of moms hoping or dreaming of starting their own businesses. There was no agenda for the conversations except to just find out more about each other and start new conversations, on the idea of collaboration, support and encouragement.
We also had time for a game: Instagram Yourself! Everyone was encouraged to submit a photo about the event, and they used the event styling and goodies as their “props”. The winning entries would get some lovely prizes from one of our sponsors.
Want to see some of the entries? Hop on over here to our #Blissmakerie hashtag: #Blissmakerie
Our sponsors for the prizes were Tramontina, The Carpenter, L’Indochine and art.iculate.
These happy ladies above won for our Instagram posts! They went home with bags from L’Indochine.
Everyone else got to win raffle prizes!
Of course, the event would not have been complete without the inclusion of the Blissful Box. This is a box of handpicked premium items, exclusively for participants of the Blissmakerie. The brands who participate in this box understand that the box is going to be given to a very specific market segment that is aligned with their brand and offerings. Beng and Maricel curated the items to be given, and these were tried and tested in their own households and among Parenting Emporium patrons. I’ll also be doing a separate feature on the brands inside the Blissful Box, because they really do deserve a post of their own! Meanwhile here is a glimpse into the box.
We’d like to honor all the moms who came and spent their Sunday afternoon with us! My friend Maggie (shown above) said that it was her “me time” to be with us that afternoon, and for many moms the Blissmakerie really is! It’s not always that we get together to talk about being creative and doing something meaningful and fun as a business. Often times, we get so caught up working in our businesses that we forget to disconnect and just be with others on the same journey. That’s what we hoped this afternoon was for you ladies who attended. Thank you! You are so loved!
Thanks most especially to Beng and Maricel of The Parenting Emporium. Your tireless work to bring meaningful and inspiring events to mothers and parents is something I hope to model my own events after. I am a mom, too, despite the work I do, and thank you for always reminding me that I can do the work I choose while still trying to be the best mom I can be. Don’t know what I’d do without your constant support, ladies! Thanks for your trust in the Blissmakerie.
Thank you to Indy & Em of the School of Styling (more on them in another feature, too!), and for bringing the gathering to life with your gift of style and wonder. Thank you to Audrey of Biz Catering, for providing such a feast for our moms! Thanks also to our Blissful Box sponsors SoYoung, doTerra, Nature 2 Nurture, The Green Company, Indigo Baby, Mustela and Seve’s Mom.
For more information on the Blissmakerie, check out our past events:
United in Bliss: Blissmakerie 2014
Conversations: Blissmakerie 2015
Thankful: Blissmakerie 2015
It was a working Mother’s Day for me last May 8, as Make it Blissful collaborated with Greenbelt 5 for it’s official Mother’s Day affair, “Blooming Moms.” Together with French skincare brand Nuxe and my favorite tea parlor TWG, Make it Blissful co-crafted an afternoon of bliss for around 60 or so women (and some men, too!) who were shopping, lunching and spending the afternoon in Greenbelt.
As the emcee and co-host for the event, my task was to conduct an afternoon activity that would help the people slow down and create something meaningful. And so together with Sunday Paper Co., Paper & Pen, and I’m Feeling Crafty, I conducted a short Letter-Writing and Tiny Bouquet-Making interlude for the afternoon. Each guest would be treated to some customized stationery, as well as a goodie bag filled with blissful finds from our sponsors: Victoria Velasco (paper flower kits), Paper & Pen (mini correspondence set), Nuxe (samplers), NiQua (mini envelope pouch), Vanilla Story (organic vanilla body care), and TWG (tea bags)
Brand new floral company Floral Pursuit (makers of floral crate arrangements) were the brand partners for the “floral bar” that we provided for the guests. I wanted the moms and their kids to be able to make small, hand-tied bouquets to compliment the letters they would write to each other. Floral Pursuit customized their own “floral cart”, and provided a selection of local blooms and twine.
The venue was beautifully styled by The School of Styling, while the gathering tables were tablescaped by the wonderful Periwinkle & Lace event stylists.
Nuxe Philippines had a French garden setup and theme for their popup, and their brand managers conducted a simple skincare demo featuring their best-selling products. Everyone got to go home with some Nuxe goodies, too!
The entire gathering was tied into Ayala Mall’s “Blooms” theme, which is actually an advocacy in support of local floral conservation. I love how meaningful this campaign is! It’s also at the heart of the construction of any Ayala Mall, which prioritizes the surrounding greenery wherever a new development is established. Have you ever noticed how much green there is when you’re in an Ayala Mall? That’s intentional.
So let me just take you through the event in pictures! The guests really enjoyed the letter writing, surprisingly. At a time when most people would rather just send messages using social media or instant message, it was refreshing to see people enjoying the slow, deliberate process of writing a real letter, just like the old days. Coupled with some refreshing tea time treats and iced tea from TWG, it was really a great way to spend the afternoon! Even though I was the emcee and quite busy (with Krista in tow!), it was actually a relaxing day!
Welcome to another installment of Blog Love! I’m still featuring bloggers from the wonderful group that is Blogging Boost, and this is the fourth and final lady I’m headlining. She’s the owner of Whatever Bright Things, an intentional and meaningful blog with a positive yet honest, authentic approach to a life well lived. I love her blog posts on the creative process and self-discovery. Get to know her better in this interview!
1. Tell me a bit about yourself, as a woman.
As a woman in my early twenties, I think I’m still trying to figure that out. For a while, I felt like I was selling myself short or being a “bad feminist” for finding joy in stereotypical feminine activities or qualities. But I’ve come to realize that those are the things that make me who I am, and that’s okay. We don’t all have to break the status quo, we just have to support and defend and stand beside our sisters who do.
2. What made you want to begin ‘Whatever Bright Things’?
More than anything, I think it was a need to create. After graduating from college, I found myself missing that feeling of starting a project and seeing it through. From designing my blog, to writing, photographing, and publishing each post, I found that I loved the combination of creativity and technical knowledge blogging requires.
3. Let’s talk about your blog’s themes: Why the words “bright things”? What does this mean for you, as a blogger?
I have never shared this online, but “Whatever Bright Things” actually comes from a letter F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote to his daughter. It’s about finding the bright side even in the darkest times; it’s about not letting the hard times get you down, but rather keep your heart and mind open for “whatever bright things come your way.” While this doesn’t seem to have anything to do with planners or some of the other things I blog about, I find that the general theme of optimism is something I want all my posts to communicate. I’m all about bringing beauty and creativity into everyday life, and to appreciate whatever bright things make life beautiful for you.
4. What are some challenges you’ve faced as a blogger in your niche?
I think my biggest challenge is that I’m trying to combine two niches, or create my own niche. The Planner Community is very visual – very active on Pinterest and Instagram – while the Writing Community is very word-based (surprise!) – very active on Twitter and Facebook. I find that my “tribe” is kind of all over the place, and yet I wouldn’t have it any other way.
5. Take us through a typical day (or week) as a blogger?
I try to stick to a blogging schedule, but I also believe in creative spontaneity, so that makes for a very interesting week. On a typical day, I spend the first few hours of the day promoting content like new posts, interacting on Facebook and Twitter, and doing something creative like journaling, lettering, drawing, or playing guitar. Then, I start working on content – creating a planner spread, taking photographs, formatting printables, writing text, or designing graphics. Sometimes I wish my schedule was more routine or organized, but one of the things I enjoy most about blogging is the variety of tasks I get to do on a daily basis and the choice of when to do them.
Another important part of my week is participating in Twitter chats. I love getting to interact with other writers and creatives in real-time and discussing the unique challenges and joys of what we do. Some of my favorites are #craftblogclub and #storycrafter.
6. What are some of your favorite things to do, outside of the blog?
I love love LOVE to read. As a writer, reading is an experience that feeds my soul in a way that nothing else can. I also love to spend time with my family. I am also currently revising a novel, so I try to work on that as much as I can.
7. Where do you see your blog, down the road, and what are your hopes for it?
I see my blog as an archive or collection of the things that make me happy. My biggest hope is that through my blog, I would be able to bring joy into the lives of others as well. When I think about how I would like my blog to grow, I think in terms of community. I hope my blog is a positive and encouraging voice into the lives of my readers, and I would love to see a community develop around a common goal of creating a beautiful, creative, organized, bright life.
Social Media Links:
All photos by Lightkeeper Studios
I just had the most fun doing my first collab with my husband! Well, our most fun collabs have been our kids (haha!), but what I’m talking about is the recent Blooms & Brews Workshop we had this April 30th at the Mateo’s Restaurant Cafe. It was a partnership between me and his coffee company, Shophouse Coffee Co.. I would do a simple Floral Workshop while he would do a demo and coffee tutorial on specialty coffee.
Why coffee and flowers? Well, this workshop was part of our “Art of Homemaking” series, specifically the “Art of Floral Arranging” component. However, I thought to give it a twist by injecting a coffee angle to it, because wouldn’t it be nice to hand-brew coffee or tea for our guests while we entertain at home? I know I enjoy lovely flowers and a good serving of coffee any day!
My hubby began the afternoon with a demo using three coffee drippers: The Clever Dripper, the Kalita, and finally the Chemex. We used Shophouse Coffee Co. coffee single-origin coffee beans from Panama and Brazil.
Ton explaining the different methods, such as the Chemex, for brewing specialty coffee at home.
Make it Blissful also partnered with Extraction Coffee (purveyors of fine home brew coffee products), whose products we featured in our coffee demo. Everyone fell in love with the beauty of the Chemex coffee maker! (Trivia: For those of you who are Friends freaks like me, you’ll know that Monica always served their coffee in the Chemex, hehe.)
The Kalita dripper, ceramic version.
The Chemex glass coffee makers
Ton serving the Chemex brewed single-origin Panama roast, flash brewed over ice. Iced coffee was perfect for our summer afternoon!
Extraction Coffee also put their coffee makers on display for us to see and enjoy discounted prices during the workshop! Thank you, Keren, for popping up at our workshop! (Guys, she’s carrying the limited editio Chemex with the wood holder! Grab it while it’s available!)
The floral arranging component was actually my first attempt at demo-ing florals! I’ve been taking up an online course in basic floral arranging, and I’ve been learning a lot. I wasn’t about to give lessons, but I wanted to share what I knew about making arrangements for small home gatherings. I had with me my “floral mentor”, Edna Abellon, a family friend who has been in the floral business for 20+ years, and she did my wedding flowers and those of my brothers’ weddings. It’s all in the family!
Edna and I, talking about the floral choices.
For our gathering, we chose long-lasting flowers and greens. Seeing as the weather’s been SO hot lately, we wanted our participants to make arrangements that could withstand the heat. We chose a variety of florals that could last for at least one to two weeks: imported carnations, gerber daisies, and imported mums; China berries; misty blue, asters, local eucalyptus, iris stalks, and other green fillers which are found in most home gardens.
I was going to make a Provencal-type arrangement, one that favored a less “hot house” look (not so polished) and a more “field-inspired” theme that used lots of fillers and greens. It’s a personal preference!
After my little demo, everyone partook of the floral bar. Tip: If you want to save on costs, go for a natural, field-inspired arrangement like those we created. This means more greens and ferns, and a certain number of statement flowers. Less “wedding bouquet” and more garden-like, free-form and natural. It takes practice to get the balance right, but once you get it, it’s quite satisfying! Take a look at the arrangements that some of us created:
Thanks to all who came! We all had loads of fun sharing stories over coffee, yummy food by Mateo’s and our pretty arrangements. We also enjoyed such sweet take-aways from our partners Juice Hut (almond milks), Neutra Organics (organic aromatherapy & body care), and The Little Whisk (coffee-themed cookies)
Have a look at our Facebook album, “Blooms & Brews” for more photos of the event. Thank you to Lightkeeper Studios for sponsoring the photography for this gathering!
Our next workshop after this is “The Gathering Table: Tables styling for home gatherings.” That’s on May 28! Would you like to join us? Read about it here: “The Gathering Table Workshop” and sign up if you want to join us!
I’m excited to share this new issue of Blog Love with you today, because it feels like sharing a rare gem. I came upon Maple Alps — an intentional living blog and community — through the Facebook group, Blogging Boost. I was immediately drawn to what Amanda was trying to achieve through her community, and it spoke to me deeply. I suppose it is because I am going through a new path in my own quest to live intentionally, and Maple Alps gives me such practical tips and resources to help me along. Allow me to introduce you to Amanda, the blogger behind this inspiring community.
MiB (Martine): Tell me a bit about yourself as a woman. What are your passions, interests, and work?
Hi there! I’m Amanda. I am a recent graduate and a newlywed. I am also a Canadian living in the United States with just enough time on my hands to work on my lifelong goal of becoming a ‘domestic goddess.’ Needless to say, my life is taking pretty interesting twists these days!
I always thought being a housewife might be fun, and I was totally right. When I’m not cleaning or cooking, you can usually find me crocheting, taking a run, or practicing a musical instrument.
One day I hope to fulfil another dream of mine and [finally] become a full-time music teacher. If that never happens, I’ll be content as long as I can travel often!
How did you come to begin Maple Alps, and what is the goal for it as a blog? Did you always intend for this to be your blog’s focus?
I have always loved writing, and actually started blogging in 2007 for myself, just to get out some poems and thoughts. When I traveled abroad, I kept a blog to keep my family and friends informed of my crazy (and they were crazy!) adventures. I also actively kept (and still keep) a Tumblr (you can link muspiral.tumblr.com if you like)
Maple Alps came out of a season of uncertainty. Living in a different country, and not being able to work outside of the home created the perfect circumstances for starting a blog. My husband encouraged and reminded me I should be using my talents and time to help others and suggested I start a blog. The more I thought about it, the more the idea became appealing, and Maple Alps was born.
It has evolved from my first intentions, and is still a work in progress, but it has been fun!
Take us through how you create the content for the blog. What are some best practices you use, maybe tools, communities and resources that you could recommend?
A lot of what I write about is from experience. My content also springs from what I am currently learning about, working on, or things I want to explore.
As for my process, I usually start with a list of brainstormed topics, which eventually turn into drafts. A really great practice I began was keeping an editorial calendar, which keeps me on track and organized.
I love how you talk and write about intentional living. What is your belief about this way of life, and how do you translate this to content for your blog?
Living intentionally may mean different things to different people, but as a Christian, I believe that I am called to glorify God in all that I do, and that my life truly has purpose. I wish this belief to permeate everything I do. So often, our lives get so busy and it seems like we have no time for anything of value. Sometimes, we allow this to happen for so long, that we don’t even recognize things of value. By consciously deciding how we go through our lives, we decrease the possibility of looking back in regret.
Here are a few intentions I focus on in my own life:
- Intentionally spending my money to ensure I am a good steward of it
- Intentionally choosing food that is healthy and in turn betters my life
- Intentionally choosing to invest in people to build meaningful relationships and help others
- Intentionally spending time constructively, as to not waste the precious days I’ve been given
Of course this is not a formula to having the perfect life – there are other factors involved – but, I think it’s a good mindset to have. It has helped me have a quality of life that is fulfilling.
When I write, I write with intention. I share practical things, such as decluttering help and meal planning, that have helped me as I’ve strived to live an intentional life. I do this in hopes that others may try for themselves and find this certain satisfaction.
What are some useful tools, communities and resources you’ve used, as a blogger?
I never knew there was so much out there for bloggers, until I became more serious about it! The first resource I usually go to when I need assistance is Pinterest. It’s really my go-to for life. There are so many great people out there with great advice and who know so much! Who knew?
Community is also a fantastic thing I never knew about. There are some really helpful groups on Facebook, such as Blogging Boost, that are just loaded with knowledge and help from people with experience. The best thing about these groups is that not only can you find others to help you, you can help others!
As for tools, I love using Trello as an idea board, but Google Drive and my planner are my right hand for everything else.
What are your plans for Maple Alps, and where do you see the blog going in the coming years?
I would love it if Maple Alps could develop an awesome community and continue to grow and expand! I’m excited to see how that happens in the future.