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If you ever had something that you wanted to say

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Yesterday, I reminded a good friend of her blog. She thanked me for the reminder and replied, "These days, I feel like I have nothing much to say."

That is exactly how I feel as well. And it is why this blog -- and my writing -- is barely alive.

I feel like ever since social media gave everyone a platform, if you intend to write something and share it, you better make sure it's worth disturbing what ever silence there is left.

But shouldn't that be the goal of any creative writing endeavor? Isn't that why we strive for literature?

And now I'm suddenly reminded of this poem.

How to Be a Poet
(to remind myself)
By Wendell Berry i

Make a place to sit down.
Sit down. Be quiet.
You must depend upon
affection, reading, knowledge,
skill—more of each
than you have—inspiration,
work, growing older, patience,
for patience joins time
to eternity. Any readers
who like your poems,
doubt their judgment.

ii

Breathe with unconditional breath
the unconditioned air.
Shun elec…

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I bought this ring. It's too small for my ring finger and they didn't have it in my size but I really wanted it so here it is! A post shared by Althea Ricardo (@althearicardo) on Mar 15, 2018 at 11:47pm PDT
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…

On sitting with the discomfort

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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

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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 …

We are off to a slow start, 2018

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Last night, I dreamt that I was in the United States with some people, including a boy I liked years ago, someone I was interested in again. We were all staying in a relative's house; the family was out of the country and had invited us to use their home.

All of us were friendly, but we weren't exactly traveling together. I had my own plans, including reunions with other friends I didn't share with them. However, as people who find themselves together tend to do, everyone started planning as a group: tours, night outs, shows. I hesitated; I always start out wanting to do my own thing, not following anyone else's agenda.

But when they invited me to a barbecue night in the backyard, I looked at the boy I liked shyly and thought: This is a good way to get to know him better. I imagined the two of us chatting on the porch, laughing over drinks and maybe liking each other a little bit more.

I ran off to my room and took a shower. Before dressing, I decided to lie down in b…