I recently went to the mall to meet an old friend. After the meetup, I happened upon this accessories store that was on sale. Against my better judgment--I'd recently thought of renewing my commitment to be minimalist--I decided to take a look inside the shop.

I ended up buying something: a silver sand dollar ring. I didn't need another ring, for sure, but I fell in love with this particular ring because it reminded me of something I did in the past for someone I loved: I collected sun-bleached sand dollars on a beach off Puerto Princesa so I could share a bit of paradise with him.

Many of the sand dollars didn't survive the plane ride to Manila. What was left of them disintegrated in the mail, and the recipient, while grateful and touched, didn't, couldn't, really appreciate the grandness of my gesture.

That was how I loved back then: romantic and impractical, thoughtful and contrived. How I threw myself into love!

I don't miss it, and I do.

On sitting with the discomfort

Yesterday, I ended up doing more work because someone didn't do a job well. I felt angry; my instinct was to lash out at the person, completely convinced that it would lighten my emotional load.

But I remembered these two things:

1. A quote from this excellent essay by Internet hacktivist Aaron Swartz.
In moments of great emotional stress, we revert to our worst habits: we dig in and fight harder. The real trick is not to get better at fighting — it’s to get better at stopping ourselves: at taking a deep breath, calming down, and letting our better natures take over from our worst instincts.  2. This expression that I see often in discussions on mindfulness, meditation, and yoga:
Sit with the discomfort.  Or, in this context, sit with the uncomfortable feeling. So I did.

I still ended up doing the work, but at least I was no longer doing it upset.

Purposeful whimsy

Whenever I try to picture the kind of life I want to create this year, I always end up thinking of teacups, delicate ones made of porcelain or bone china, with pretty flowers and edges gilded with gold.

I see myself drinking tea or coffee in them, gracefully holding the saucer, even. There are no sandwiches, scones or cake in the picture, because while I do drink tea and coffee, I am not really one who actually does tea, you know?

There's a word I discovered when I was working in media many years ago: aspirational. I still can't use it with a straight face, but maybe this dainty teacup I keep envisioning is exactly that, aspirational for me.

What words do I associate with this teacup? Elegance and design. Beauty. And also purposeful whimsy.

I'm also reminded of criticism--the kind you want when you want to improve as a writer--I received at a class writing workshop many years ago: Your words are beautiful, but they say nothing at all.

A teacup is beautiful and elegant in …