Working in Freedom.

Working in Freedom.

make it blissful living room

One of the things I’m grateful for is that I can work at home. Actually, I can work from pretty much wherever I want, if I wanted to. But for me, I like doing the jobs I do from the comfort of home. Especially now, Manila being what it is now with the traffic congestion issues and the general problems in the transportation system!

When I started blogging “blissfully,” one of the things I wanted to do less of was be away from my family. I guess with the tight-knit arrangement we have while the kids are young, it is ideal to be a hands-on mom and still be able to work.

Blog Your Best Year

I am grateful that the work I do know — mainly blog coaching — is something I can do anywhere as long as I my laptop, my phone and a steady Internet connection. I’ve taken Skype calls while breastfeeding or carrying my baby, which is the case now that I have a high-need infant. I’ve overseen projects using online management systems while teaching my son handwriting exercises. I’ve directed website and blog projects while on the road, sometimes in the car coming home from errands. I’ve even taught workshops holding my baby, like that time I gave a workshop on blogging and photography:

make it blissful workshop

Who says we can’t find a new way of working? Who says that as a mom (with no helper and having a high need baby) that I can’t bring my child along with me to my place of work? Isn’t this day and age all about adapting and revolutionizing the way people work? And not just moms, all people. Even single people who want to do something more than climb the corporate ladder. Even disgruntled office employees who want to escape a cubicle lifestyle.

But the point I want to make about working in freedom is not just about being able to access my work emails while I’m on the go. It’s not about having portable devices and being a workhorse.

As a mom, it’s about these little people:

makeitblissful.com

But even if I wasn’t a mom, I know I would want to work within a lifestyle that matches my need for constant learning, for “location independence,” so that I could do things I enjoy and not feel guilty about it. Wouldn’t it be great to have a job that you enjoy? I think so. I know of friends who enjoy being virtual assistants, because they can still go on road trips and still manage the businesses of clients halfway around the world. I have friends who are freelance writers and copywriters who can live in a different province every quarter of the year, just because they have the “location-free” type of jobs that let them do so.

What working in freedom looks like to us

What does “working in freedom” look like for our family? Well, it’s simple.

We get to do our groceries first thing in the morning on weekdays, with no crowds or lines in the checkout counter.

We can take staycations from Sunday to Monday if we want to, instead of peak times like Friday to Sunday.

We can let the kids wake up past 8AM, because we can spend the morning homeschooling and my husband can go to the gym or the running track to work out, because we can begin work after lunch.

Instead of going out on weekends, we can stay in, at home, because it’s too crowded in the malls and parks.

I know it sounds silly to some people, but if you knew these little “freedoms”, you’d understand what I mean! Working in freedom means making work work for us. If it’s going to help us to make time for the kids first thing in the morning, then our projects and our sales reports can be done in the afternoon while they nap or play or draw quietly.

Working in freedom, for me and my husband, often means our days don’t look the same or follow a regular routine. But it also means that our days have a rhythm that works for our little family. Maybe when the kids are older and one (or both!) of them doesn’t want to be homeschooled, our “normal” will change. But this is our “normal” right now. And it’s been our “normal” for five going six years. I wouldn’t mind if it went on and on for more.

Do you want to work in freedom?

This September, the folks at Manila Workshops are holding their 3rd annual Work at Home Expo, together with the group we co-founded, the WAHMderful Life Community of work at home moms. The Work at Home Expo is a one-day, whole day event on September the 26th which will feature a slate of entrepreneurs and speakers who believe in doing work that sets people free — financially, location-wise, and in their respective fields. I invite you to join us!

work at home expo 2015

The WAH Expo is an annual one-day expo of talks and mini- workshops geared towards the encouragement and empowerment of Filipinos who are working from home or would like to be work from home professionals. This event are for people who are currently working from home as entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, freelancers, and for those who are planning to work from home in the near future. This event will provide attendees knowledge and tips about working from home. It will also be a great event where people can network and meet other people that they can collaborate or work with or for in the future.  (… Read more on Manila Workshops)

I hope to see you at the WAH Expo! We’ve got an amazing line-up of speakers, including Tippy Pelayo-Go of GooglyGooeys.com, Frances Sales of Topaz Horizon, Anna Meloto-Wilk of Human Heart Nature, Rissa Mananquil of Happy Skin, and many, many more! Be inspired to “follow your bliss” and work in the freedom that you deserve!

To sign up now for only Php100, go to Manila Workshops’ right now: BUY tickets now for the WAH Expo 2015

 

Back-braking.

Back-braking.

blissful at home

No, that isn’t a typo in today’s title. I have a point. It has to do with (1) my back and, (2) the art of “braking.” I suppose this type of blog post is what they call a “brain f**t” but I can’t bring myself to call it that. So let’s just call it another “study” in the art of making things blissful. OK? Ok.

I pulled my back the other week, see. It all began when I had a meeting at a cafe nearby, and had to bring Krista with me. I was alone, and waited for my husband to pick me up after my meeting was through. And so I carried Krista around in my sling, maybe for a good 40 minutes. I didn’t notice it of course until we got home and my shoulders ached. So I scheduled the home service masseuse to come and work on me that night, to relax me a bit.

Well, turns out I will never ever hire that masseuse again, because while she was massaging me she manipulated a nerve in my lower back, causing a small tearing of the muscles. I only felt it keenly, however, when I reached down the next day to pick up Krista from her high chair during Sunday brunch. Immediately, I felt this piercing pain course through me. It was awful, enough to keep me hunched over. I hated it!

For the next few days (well, whole of last week, actually!), I was mostly hunched over and wincing in pain. I couldn’t do anything around the house, and I felt so utterly useless. Thank God I had no important matters to attend to outside the house, but even doing the daily chores was torture. Here’s a glimpse into the mess in the kitchen, sigh!

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What’s worse is that I couldn’t take care of both kids a hundred percent of the time, with my usual faculties. I was instructed by my physical therapist to not lift anything, especially the baby (who now weighs a hefty 18.7 pounds at 6 months old). You can imagine how hard this was for me and her, being attached at the hip almost every day. (She is a high-need baby.) When it came to nursing, the only way to safely do so was to lie down on my side and nurse the baby that way, but everytime I’d go on my side, my back would twitch in pain. I seriously had no comfort, whether I sat down or lay down. It was awful!

———

I received an email from my friend Maricel during the middle of the week, which gave me much comfort. She related the same kind of back problems that she used to have, and her empathy made me feel a lot better. Part of her email mentioned taking a rest, catching up on reading and just really slowing down and waiting for the healing to happen naturally, in time.

I back-read on some of the blogs I’d written in the past, like those about slow living and being less-hurried. Of course, the posts spoke keenly to be because it was like the injury pulled the brakes on my life, forcing me to just stop and be injured. What a weird thing to say, but it’s true: It’s like who I was in that moment was saying to just “be” in this state of helplessness and dependence on my loved ones and caregivers.

So that’s why I say it’s been a “back-braking” week.

————

As of this paragraph, I’m much better. It’s been almost two weeks since the stupid strained muscle and nerve-pinching, and I am doing well. There is still a bit of back strain whenever I forget to stand up for a time, which explains the short spurts that I’ve been writing this blog post! I also have to go back to doing my back stretches to avoid sciatica, stretches that I’ve been lax about, hence, the injury. (OK, ok, so the masseuse isn’t to blame for my out-of-shape #mombod. I have no excuse for it!)

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Being injured and unable to do my usual tasks is always humbling. It was like a force beckoning me “halt!” and step on my brakes abruptly. It wasn’t just about schedules being screwed up and conveniently ordering take out. It was really a wake up call for several things, like slowing down (again, forever!) and getting back in shape (mea culpa!). I’ve actually been tapering down on work and on-location meetings in the city (too stressful to go through the traffic in Manila), but I realize that balance with the working at home also needs some “braking,” some thoughtful “stops” to our current methods. With every change that happens for the kids — Vito needing more attention in his homeschooling (despite how intentionally relaxed we are about it), Krista needing more attention now that she is on solids and starting to crawl —, changes also need to happen for Ton and me and the way we work and run the household.

Braking, when it’s in a moving vehicle, prevents, safeguards, protects. I’m seeing the parallel in our home and family and work life, too. My forced brake because of the back injury was protecting things like our family dynamics, the quality of rest that I needed. Now that I’m out of that hellish pain, I can look back at things with some kind of gratitude.

OK, now that I’m recovered, it’s time to get down to the real deal of strengthening my core again, working on my exercises again, and adjusting to the pace of life right now. I’ve had time to think and take stock. Now it’s time to live my next stage of normal.

Has an injury or illness ever forced you to “brake,” too? What insights did you have? Let’s talk about it in the comments, maybe?

Now open for registration, The Blissmakerie 2015

Now open for registration, The Blissmakerie 2015

MartineBloggers-68

When I launched Make it Blissful in late 2013-early 2014, I was launching a new kind of blog community. Blogging has opened up so many doors for me, and I have found it to be so much more than just a platform to share lifestyle, products, services and reviews. When I began writing about the idea of  “blissful blogging” and using this platform to launch one’s dreams, passions, or even a business, it was a relatively new concept here in the Philippines. I know it’s because we’re somewhat “delayed” in the creative/inspirational blogging scene. And, because of that, I wanted to see if this type of “blogging to launch” — a passion, a dream, a business — was even possible here.

I have found that it is, through my work coaching ladies towards a more meaningful method of blogging. A number of them have found it more pleasurable to blog, others have launched businesses because of their blogs, and still others have used blogging to fuel their passions for travel, creativity, art and more.

One of my blog coaching clients, Patty Laurel of pattylaurel.com

One of my blog coaching clients, Patty Laurel of pattylaurel.com

Creating a gathering for the community

As I grew my client base for “blissful blogging,” the need for a community gathering grew, too. It was then I began praying and meditating about some direction for this. Through the mentoring of my intention coach and through connecting with inspired blog communities like my Decor8 Blogging Your Way classmates and Blog Society blog mates, the concept for the gathering became clearer. It would be a gathering where women could openly talk about their passions, dreams and goals, and where others could encourage them, even help them make these things a reality.

Thus, the Blissmakerie was launched in December of 2014The first event was not open to the public, and was solely for blog coaching clients and collaborators I’d worked with through the years.

The Blissmakerie 2014 saw around 30 bloggers and creatives come together, all of whom have worked in one way or the other with Makeitblissful.com's events, blog workshops and services. Thank you, all, ladies!

The Blissmakerie 2014 saw around 30 bloggers and creatives come together, all of whom have worked in one way or the other with Makeitblissful.com’s events, blog workshops and services. Thank you, all, ladies!

This year, the Blissmakerie is finally ready. I had every intention to plan one for April, but new motherhood, baby challenges and life in general naturally came first. Still, I wanted to make it happen at least once this year (because it’s ideally supposed to happen twice a year). Thankfully, the Make it Blissful community itself — through the private bloggers’ mastermind group — helped things come together.

Each Blissmakerie has a simple program, which you can read about more in the official Blissmakerie pageClick on the image below, to be taken to the page itself, where you can also sign up for the upcoming one.

Blissmakerie - About

The Blissmakeries are always a product of collaboration. For this September gathering, my collaborators are my newest “blissmakers”, fellow bloggers Carmel of Pink My Ride, Audrey of Cheerful Journey and Rikka of Rikx Knows Best. I honestly could not have asked for a more invigorating trio of collaborators! Carmel and Audrey were my blog coaching clients, while Rikka is actually my social media manager for Make it Blissful. We’ve been planning this gathering during our free times in between work (We all work fulltime, yes!), and on daily Facebook chats and group sessions. You’ll get to know more about these ladies when you meet them on September 13:

Collaborators Grid

We invite you to join us! We’re opening up 15 seats to the public for this one. Our event partner is Mateo’s Restaurant & Cafe, which will be styled by Sweet Street Manila. We can’t wait for what we’ve prepared for you along with Craft Carrot and Juice Hut Manila. You’ll also be inspired by the “follow your bliss” story of April San Pedro of I Am Artisan and Yellow Hauz, a lady who has truly put the creative scene in Davao on the map.

MIB_Event Sponsor

You can now purchase your tickets at the official Blissmakerie pageWe shall be taking registrations for the event until September 4th, upon which we will close the registration window and begin preparing our special Blissful Boxes — one of the highlights of each Blissmakerie — for our guests. This Blissmakerie, we’re privileged to have the following sponsors as contributors to the Blissful Box. Rest assured, each item in this box was lovingly selected by me, Carmel, Audrey and Rikka, from businesses that we believe are inspiring. 

Blissmakerie BoxContributors copy

Blissmakerie RaffleSponsors copy

You can now purchase your tickets at the official Blissmakerie page. We hope to make things blissful with you. #Blissmakerie2015 #makeitblissful

Taking a writing time-out so that I can write

Taking a writing time-out so that I can write

writing tips for bloggers

I have been in sort of a writing slump, if you can believe it.

If you blog regularly, you need stuff to write about each week. That can be hard, I know. You know what’s even harder? Getting into the zone to write something worthwhile.

I’ve been challenged about my blogging productivity ever since life changed five months ago. I used to be able to squeeze out blog posts three times a week, as a habit. I used to have something to say, something smart or intelligent (at least to some people). I kind of got sidetracked by the busyness of home and second-time-new-mamahood, but this week I was able to really write blog post that was just about family, and it made me feel great. See, I miss writing for the sake of just writing. Not as a blog coach, not as a digital content consultant.

It’s hard to sometimes reconcile myself with both. It can get overwhelming, honestly! Just today, I was dealing with lethargic Internet connections in my in-laws’ place, and I felt like I was getting left behind by blogger friends who seemed to be (1) busier than I, and (2) churning out blog posts like they had time enough for a holiday. Rather than deal with sloth-like data speed, I just decided to catch up on some rest (because I’m under the weather right now — thanks Vito and Krista, for the germs.)

I got home this afternoon, ready to jump into whatever emails I had to read and work that I had to catch up on. As soon as I popped onto Gmail, Facebook and Instagram, I felt overwhelmed.

There was just too much information.

Too many emails to open up. Too many posts on Facebook to engage in. Too many (appreciated, adored, respected) blogger friends and business friends to share with, connect with and cheer on. (Don’t even get me started on Snapchat and Periscope. No, I’ve not added to or updated mine — where’s the time??)

Creating a status update that’s worthwhile, or a Instagram post that’s worth posting, or a blog post worth reading…. Whew. Creating can wear me out. There’s just so much to create on a regular basis, in all different formats. Yes, I teach this stuff and these habits as a blog coach, as a content creator. Yes, I enjoy what I do. But honestly, there are days when it doesn’t feel fun.

Timing out of writing to write

I’m actually not one to get burned out easily. I guess it’s because I actually practice some degree of slow living, even slow blogging. But despite the relatively chilled out way I live my life, there are days when the fun around my work fades and I feel like I’m just churning and churning in a way that gets me to the burnout state. When that happens, I know I need a bit of self-care.

This doesn’t always mean the spa or retail therapy. For me this could be reading, meditating, playing with my kids, baking, decorating, doodling or writing, specifically journaling.

OK, why would I journal if writing is already something I do for work?

writing tips for bloggers

It’s different. Blogging, for me, is work already.

But writing — journaling, poem-writing, freewriting — is one of the best ways to boost my creativity and go back to what my writing really feels and sounds like.

You know how some people are notebook, pen and paper people? I’m not talking about stationery hoarders. There are people who still write on paper as some kind of self-care or therapy or creative outlet. I’m one of them. 

Perhaps you might want to try it. In fact, I challenge you to try journaling — writing with pen and paper, and not on your blog — old school style. Check out the prompts below, and join in. I bet you’ll also discover some insightful blog topics, even stuff for your Facebook and Instagram social media updates.

Some writing prompts for journaling

Today, there are two things I’m really grateful for…

Something I read in the news this week got me thinking…

When I was a kid, I wanted to grow up to be a…

I’ve been blogging for some time now, and I’ve been thinking about it lately…

This week, my biggest challenge has been….

I remember the first day I started this small business…

Blogging has taught me a few things, and lately I’ve been learning about…

If I could design anything for the world, I would…

This weekend, I think I will try…

I remember something funny that happened in high school…

Tips to help you write for self-care

1. Use a notebook or journal that you love. I remember how much more I enjoyed blogging when I was able to do it from a Macbook Pro. In the same way, a beautiful notebook or journal inspires me to write! Remember this when you choose something for your journaling.

writing tips for bloggers

2. Use a pen that you love. We’re so into calligraphy and hand-lettering these days, and we use all sorts of pens for those types of writing. Journaling is the same: Use a pen that you’d love to get out each day and write with. (I recommend Kikkik Loves or a Parker pen — good mid-range pens!)

3. Get in the zone. Write away from your desk, away from your phone and laptop. Go outside, sit on the veranda, connect with nature, go to a cafe and don’t be tempted to turn on your data or wifi. Make yourself a drink you love (if you’re at home), or order something you’ll enjoy, like a long black specialty coffee (yes, I am craving). Put yourself in your “writing mode” by creating a space you love.

4. Let go of your inhibitions. Writing for pleasure and self-care can feel weird in the beginning. This is because we usually see writing as such a formal discipline. But writing can be likened to an artist letting lose with a paintbrush or a lump of clay, and can help you express your innermost parts in very satisfying ways. The rule when journaling is to just “let it all out” and connect with the most honest part of you, your soul. Try freewriting for a bit and see where your words can take you. Be silly, if you want to. There are no rules. The point is to set yourself free to express your thoughts, dreams, goals, musings, whatever.

5. Read, then write. For me, reading a book or an indie magazine (not glossies, for some reason) is great for getting me into a “thinking” state or zone, which in turn helps me write. Maybe reading can be a helpful trigger to you, and provide with something to reflect on or provide commentary for as your start journaling.

I challenge you to journal for self-care sometime. Have you ever tried it? Do you think you can make a regular habit of it, if it’s your thing? What are your inhibitions about writing for pleasure? 

Movie(ng) moments.

Movie(ng) moments.

“Two more sleeps, and then it’s Minions, Mom,” Vito reminded me a couple of days before Saturday. He had already prepared his H&M shirt, the one with the long sleeves, anticipating the airconditioning in the cinema.

“I’m going to get a hotdog and popcorn,” he mused, the night before while we had dinner.

“That’s great, babe,” I said. Looking back, I felt I responded rather nonchalantly, and I apologized the next day (not that he recalled!)

#mymamonminion

I forget how quickly these days will pass, how he’ll not always look forward to going to the movies with me and his dad. We’ve taken him to the movies ever since he was comfortable being in the cinema, and these days it’s like he’s waiting on tenterhooks for the next big film to hit the screens. Any excuse to eat a tumbler of popcorn to himself, I suppose!

We arrived at the movies promptly before 3PM last Saturday — a special block screening by Monde — and I watched my little guy smile eagerly as I handed him his popcorn and lemonade.

#mymamonminion

The movie was fun, but it was even more fun to watch him laugh out loud! It carried on next morning, when we made our #MyMamonMinions for breakfast. We went through two packs just to claim the icing so that he could make up four mamons! He’s quite the artist. (We also quite enjoyed the Belgian Waffles and Chocolate Muffins by Monde, too — yummy with coffee, for me and Ton, of course. Vito always has milk with his breakfast.)

#mymamonminion

As a mom, movies with my little ones will be one of my fond memories. I know this because I remember the first movie I went to as a kid: Land Before Time, 1986, Pacific Place, Hong Kong. (We lived there then).

I don’t know how many movies Vito will watch along with us, but I will remember to count each of them as special.

I don’t know how many opportunities I’ll get to enjoy his creative bouts of inspiration… even if it is just to ice some sweet cakes in his favorite characters.

I don’t know how many memories I’ll make with him, but I hope that they will be too many to count. In the end, I just hope that he will cherish them as much as his Dad and I do.

Oh, I also saw my good friend Frances Sales of Topaz Mommy there with her family! Tried to get our two Vitos to have a photo together but it didn’t happen, so us nalang, haha! 

#mymamonminion

This is an essay for Monde (http://www.monde.com.ph/mymamonminion), and their #MyMamonMinion campaign. A few of us bloggers were treated to a block screening — thanks, Monde! Follow #MyMamonMinion on Instagram to see fun creations, or upload your own Minion mamons, too. Thanks for reading!

Patience and the process

Patience and the process

unschooling thoughts philippines

The other week, my son wanted to know how bread was made. After many trips to the supermarket, a lot of snack sessions in places like the French Baker and Sonja’s and Bread Talk, he was curious about the process enough to ask me to teach him. He made sure to remind me daily to buy all we needed: yeast, flour, baking soda, sugar, oil, salt, and milk. (We were going for a basic yeast & milk loaf from a recipe I’d learned as a kid.)

There are many lessons a child can learn from breadmaking. Unlike baking cookies, there’s a lot of waiting involved — something that a preschooler has a hard time dealing with! I explained the process would take a total of 3 hours, which to him was a lifetime compared to the 30 minutes it takes to bake our chocolate cookies, from bowl to oven to plate.

He agreed to wait. And so we began.

unschooling thoughts philippines

Mixing the ingredients was the first step. I let him measure out each one to make the dough. “It’s important to follow the recipe properly when we bake,” I said, stressing the importance of taking things slow and deliberately measuring the right quantities, or the bread wouldn’t come out right. And so, we dissolved the yeast in a bit of boiling water; we measured the flour, the milk, the salt, the sugar, and I let him mix the mixture until he “felt tired.”

At this point we were only less than ten minutes into the process, but I took over since the dough was coming together and a bit challenging for him to mix. At least with my son, he shows that he is willing and eager to learn about things that interest him. Teaching him about the dough rising due to the yeast; the step of kneading the dough to let air in (which would make the bread soft); the second “rise” to let the bread set: I saw that he appreciated each step.

unschooling thoughts philippines

Patience and the process. If there is anything I want my son to know when he is learning about the things around him (the food he eats, where and how his clothes are made, his toys, etc.), it’s that nothing comes about without someone putting the hard work into it.

“It’s easy to eat our bread every morning when we buy it from the supermarket,” I explained. “But can you imagine how hard bakers work to make us our bread each day, so that we will just have an easy time eating it?”

The baking session was meant to drive home that point: Patience and the process pay off with a yummy ending. He understood it, and after tasting the fruit of his labors (and waiting through the 2 and a half hour process of letting the dough rise, kneading it and letting it rise again), he was able to enjoy his bread more. He had his first slice plain and warm, and the next with some eggs later on that day.

unschooling thoughts philippines

In teaching my son to bake a loaf of bread, I also learned a couple of lessons myself, mostly about my son and the way we’ve decided to let him learn things. I related to him how the yeast “wakes up” the other ingredients for the dough, how the yeast “eats” the sugars in the dough while it “sleeps”, creating the bubbles in the dough that make our bread soft and yummy.

He picked up well on it, but I think it will be good for us to bake some more to reinforce the lesson. But I find that he initiating the lesson made it so much more meaningful a learning moment to him. It is this “meaningful learning” that I cherish during these unschooling episode we’re in. In the past year, he’s picked up on quite a few things, like writing sentences on his own, using inventive spelling (starting January 2015), creating his own “superhero” stories, using mini sketchpads, telling time to the hour, and reading level 1 “I Can Read” readers, and the Kindergarten sight reading list, all on his own and enjoying them so much that we often buy two more copies each time we head to the bookstore (which is often)! Much like a lump of dough left to rise and expand, so is Vito’s knowledge and awareness of the world around growing gradually.

It’s not so much that he knows how to read and write. Of course I’m happy (and relieved!) that he does.

But what is most important is that he stays hungry, stays curious. (See what I did there? #stevejobsreference) It’s that his mind expands each time he learns something new, and hopefully, so does his awareness of the people and places and situations that shape his worldview.

I hope that he keeps on being hungry to learn. Not so much about how to study — not yet, anyway — but how to ask more questions, how to delve deeper into a topic that fascinates him (which today, was the skeleton), how to never stop expounding on what he knows. Just like the yeast that “gobbles” up sugars and expands the dough in the loaves we make, I hope Vito will keep on gobbling up these learning moments and grow wiser, deeper as a person. I remind myself to never tire of his constant questions and to see them as coming from a little mind that wants to get bigger and bigger, curiouser and curiouser.

May I never be a reason for him to want to stop being the inquisitive, sometimes naughty, but the always observant sponge of a learner that he is. May I have the patience to enjoy the process he is going through, because this is also a life lesson that I will be learning for the rest of my life.