Intentional Living

Dream Again

Stitches & Words | Dream Again | Cinderella quote

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Do you still remember how you answered this question when you were younger? I do.

  • Interior Designer
  • Architect
  • Journalist
  • Lawyer

Those were the jobs that I aspired for from grade school to high school. Pero ang totoo, kahit I never said it out loud as a dream job, I really wanted to be a performer. To act onstage or be on TV (hello, Ang TV!). I loved doing theater (also interpretative dance)!

I still remember the moment I switched from one dream to another.

It was a visit to an exhibition of Interior Design students that I got the inspiration to become a designer myself. I was very young then, 7 years old maybe? Parang ang saya kasi, seemed like such a joy to decorate rooms and spaces that would be appreciated by others.

Then I remember my Dad taking me to the still-under-construction building that would be their new office, and then having lunch with the Architect (or maybe he just told me about the Architect?). Hmm, I want to design homes and structures instead!

But after awhile, I realized that my drawing skills were very rudimentary. And I had a feeling I wasn’t creative that way – not creative enough to design spaces and structures.

But I could write.

A college Journalism professor told me so when I was 10 years old. She mentored us young writers aspiring to be part of the school paper. The school ran a great program while I was there: every start of the year, they would run a 1-day (or was it 3 days?) workshop led by her. She told us stories about her experiences, and also gave us an overview of what it means to write for a newspaper. By the end of the event, we would all have written something. Through our work, she and the school paper adviser would decide who qualifies and for what post.

I loved being part of the school paper and how we ran it. Those three years went by quickly. Sometimes I still wonder what would have happened if I kept on writing and cultivated the skill. I remember my Adviser (not the Professor who only worked with us during the workshops) believing in me so much that she came to our house one summer day to get my application for a creative writing workshop at the CCP. She also strongly encouraged me to stay in the paper for my last year (sixth grade, though she left the country that year), when I said I was switching to a different club. I wish we had stayed in touch.

Years later, when it was time to figure out what university to apply to, syempre I had to first decide what course I wanted to take. At the time, influenced by my involvement in the child rights movement, I thought I wanted to become a lawyer. A classmate told me that BA Psychology would be a good pre-law course. So I ticked that off as my first choice for UP Diliman. My next choice was Journalism.

Sometime in my first year at the University, I realized how much I didn’t enjoy going to school. Of course I loved learning, and I loved UP, I just didn’t like having to go to school. I never did. Or maybe it was traditional classes I didn’t like? And the idea of extending my years of having to be in school just didn’t appeal to me. I decided I did not have to become a lawyer to help others.

Fast forward.

To Now.

I am not designing, not writing for a living, not advocating for someone before a court of law.

It’s okay.

Posted with permission. EMM, Not Emma.

But I think it’s time to dream again.

Let’s Hit The Road!

Monday, June the 3rd, marked the end of my 14-year career in the customer service/outsourcing industry.

I wish I could say I had done so on my own terms. That I had made the decision of my own free will, because I was finally ready to move on to bigger and greater things.

But the truth is, no matter how long I have been telling myself that I wanted OUT of this job (mainly because of the hours), I hadn’t so much as drafted a resignation letter in the last nine years. I didn’t even setup a LinkedIn profile until a few days ago!

There were so many excuses to stay. Even after losing my own team two years ago, I had found reasons to convince me I wasn’t meant to be anywhere else but there.

  • I don’t have enough of a cushion to explore what I’d rather do for a living. How would we live on a single income while I figured out what I wanted to do? (Technically, we could. There’s just the two of us after all, plus 4 dogs (and two little puppies)).
  • I can’t imagine working for someone else.
  • I’d wait until I’ve built a substantial side hustle before I quit my day job.
  • Moving to another BPO would just be more of the same – same shit, different office.
  • My friends wouldn’t be there (wherever there is. Although I mostly worked alone the past two years anyway)

Late last year, I did some exploring into the freelancing world. I researched possible online side hustles I could do while employed which I could eventually scale to a high-paying gig. But because I didn’t give myself a deadline, I had one opportunity that was barely started (an online course), and another that I hadn’t yet truly pursued. Which means when the news of my letting go was delivered to me – I had no backup plan that was already waiting for me.

But, not surprisingly, I took the news quite well. Of course, it didn’t hurt at all that I was getting a decent send-off package for all the years I had been with the company (9). But it wasn’t just that. I felt relieved that the decision had been made for me. The decision that I had been putting off for quite a while.

And it could have been worse – a lot worse. I could have lost my job due to poor performance or loss of confidence, in which case I would have left empty handed. Thank goodness that wasn’t the case.

I do not envy the position of my bosses who had to tell me the news face to face – I believe it was a tough decision, and that they would have prevented it if they could. After all, I wasn’t the only one they had to let go.

If only they knew, that all along, they were setting me free.

What they had given me was the kick in the butt I needed to finally start on a new and exciting adventure. All that’s left for me to do is to take stock of all that I have learned, maximize my strengths, and hope for the very best. Oh, and to take action.

I am hitting the road, and I am excited to find out where it takes me.

How I Survived A NO-SPEND Month

Stitches & Words | How I Survived a No-Spend Month

I started my year with a shopping detox, and I survived!

What is a NO-SPEND month?

A no-spend challenge is an undertaking to spend only on necessities, or to refrain from spending on specific categories, for a specified amount of time. The intention is generally to cut-back on specific types of expenses, but it could also be a means to evaluate and reframe spending habits, or taken as an opportunity to look at one’s attitude towards shopping.

In my case, I decided the whole month of January 2019 to be my no-spend month. In part, I feel like it may not have been the best time to do it because so many brands go on Clearance Sale after the holidays. On the other hand, it could also have been the ideal season to do it, because I saved a 100% on the stuff I didn’t buy – and we most likely didn’t really need them.

Having said that, perhaps it was all the sales happening online and in-stores that made me think for a second that I wasn’t going to be able to pull through. But I did!

How I Survived A Whole Month Without Shopping

To say I didn’t spend anything in the month of January 2019 would be a lie. But I can definitely state for the record that any spending I did were for our day-to-day necessities or were pre-planned expenses (like me pairs of flip-flops). For someone who does a lot of online shopping (me!) that is really tough. If you would like to do a similar challenge, here are my tips for success:

Set your WHY

This has to be the most important step – set your intentions for taking on a no-spend challenge. You must be very clear of your goals, and why you want to do it. Without the Y, you are likely going to fail.

Why I did No-Spend January – My husband and I earn a decent income. It definitely affords us a comfortable (for us) lifestyle, and funds our hobbies and interests. But believe it or not, we don’t have a lot saved up. I was not hoping to “save money” through this exercise (I had already decided to reduce my shopping budget for the year) but I did want to stand back and re-evaluate my spending habits. I want to do all the things, but I also want to be more intentional with what I spend money on, and what I make space for in my life. Staying away from any unnecessary spending for a whole month was a way for me to reflect on that.

Identify Triggers, and Stay Away

It is important to dig deep (okay, maybe not even) and find out your triggers for unnecessary, and/or impulsive shopping. For me, it’s Instagram. And I don’t mean those influencers with curated feeds, but actual online sellers with IG as their platform.

Thanks to my favorite Plus-Size seller on Instagram, I have quite a lot of clothes that fit, and that spark joy. 🙂 I ordered a lot from her last year, even when I had no plans to. My shopping style was this:

  • Seller posts new clothes up for sale
    • Is it my size? Yes. Mine!
    • Refresh feed.
    • Is it in my size? Yes. Mine!

And I follow more than one plus-size seller – so that could happen multiple times a month! And I also have a favorite book seller, a few local bag-makers, and then those lovely accessories too. If I surrounded myself with those triggers, it would be a little more difficult to say no to spending. I didn’t unfollow them but I did turn off notifications. I also stopped myself from visiting their profiles when they start popping-up on my feed with new stuff on sale.

It’s also a good idea to stay away from the mall. Out of sight, out of mind.

The hubby was due to get some new clothes and we decided to hit SM North’s 3-day sale last month and take advantage of the discounts. I didn’t think I could walk away without a personal purchase, but we made it happen. We had also done a few trips to Greenhills (his errands), and I am proud to say that I was satisfied with just looking, and not buying.

Make A List, Check It Twice

It is not uncommon to suddenly realize or remember that there is actually something that you just absolutely must have. I’d say, make a list and sleep on it. Check your list and evaluate if it’s a need or a want. Ask yourself why you need it. Sleep on it some more.

If you still feel that you neeed it after checking it twice, go ahead and buy it. No-spend month or not, if you need it, then you must have it. But be honest with yourself here.

Let The World Know

Okay, maybe the whole world doesn’t need to know, but at least let significant people in your circle know about your challenge. I didn’t tell anyone right away that I was doing this, but it helps to let people know so you could have help to keep yourself accountable.

If I didn’t tell my husband I was doing a no-spend month, he would have enabled my shopping. For sure.

My Takeaways

Just Because I Can, Doesn’t Mean I Should

Shopping definitely makes me happy. And we tend to do more of the stuff that fills us with joy.

I have always been plus-sized and, unfortunately, there hasn’t always been a good source of nice and affordable clothes that fit me. So when I find pieces I like in my size – I grab them and take them to the counter! I end up buying so much because I fear of missing out. Sayang naman kasi. But now there’s a lot of options out there! I can shop online, and at the mall.

But just because they’re available, and I can afford to buy stuff, it doesn’t mean that I should. Specially not when I don’t need them.

As much joy buying stuff gives me, I have to remind myself that there are also other things that do – like having an emergency fund, getting to use up my stash of scrapbooking supplies, seeing our space cleaned up and organised (no matter how brief it stays that way), traveling, hanging out with family and friends. I must keep in mind that seeing stuff pile up and not being used does not make me feel good at all.

Shopping List

I’ve done a bit of destashing prior to January, so I have a good idea of what’s in my closet. This also gave me an idea of what else I really need, like a really good pair of jeans. That goes on my running shopping list. This is a hand-written list of things I have on the back pages of my Passion Planner, and these are stuff I will allow myself to shop for, for the rest of the year. Not everything on that list will necessarily be purchased. See tip #3 above. I will check that list more than twice, and evaluate the need for each item, and set aside funds for it.

This is true also for any gadgets and items for hobbies, or for the home. It’s easy to succumb to impulse buying but if I tell myself I’d put it on the list for later consideration, it helps avoid the wasteful spending.

We already know the value of having a shopping list helps when doing groceries, there’s no reason why it won’t be a good idea for everything else.

Stop the FOMO

When you don’t hit the weekend markets, the bazaars, the sales, and even the latest zero-waste or sustainable fair, you’re not missing out.

I skipped The Good Trade fair last month despite looking forward to it for weeks, because I realized that I don’t want to turn my zero-waste efforts into just another reason to go shopping. After all, to keep amassing stuff you don’t need completely contradicts the concept of zero-waste living.

Prompted by a reminder from the good folks of The Good Trade, I looked at my list of things I thought I needed to get at the Fair and realized I didn’t really have to go.  

If course, if I were going there with friends and we can make a day of it, why not! It would have been a great way to encourage others in my circle to move towards a more sustainable lifestyle. But it wasn’t the case for that weekend. So I missed it, and I was okay.

Be More Intentional

Perhaps my biggest takeaway is this: being intentional in every way, including spending money, is key to a fuller life. Splurging on a few priced things every once in a while, may be a better reward than buying a few little things too often.

Of course I have done some shopping since the month ended (we’re almost through February now) but I have no guilt feelings about those purchases. I know there will be a lot less shopping in the next two to three months, at least. The best feeling though, is knowing you say no to buying something not out of budgetary considerations (that’s good too, though) but more because you know you don’t really need or want it.

Thanks for reading!

Would you consider doing a no-spend month? Or is there a specific expense category you’d like to cut-back on? I would love to hear about it!



Passion Planner 2019

This is my third year being a bonafide #PashFam member!

Stitches & Words | Passion Planner 2019 - my Atrium Red Planner
Stitches & Words | Passion Planner 2019 – my Atrium Red Planner

Craft the Life I Love

I really do think that using a Passion Planner has helped me focus on crafting the life I love. That is not to say that I have accomplished everything I set out to do (or want to), because I AM SO FAR FROM THAT! But using my Passion Planner daily and working on a spread at the start (or end) of each week has helped me reflect on how I spend my time. In turn, this helped me to want to make time for activities that mean more to me. Slowly I find that my ‘productivity’ is slowly reflecting my ‘priority.’

In 2017, I wrote about Why I love my Passion Planner. And I think now, on my third year, I just love it all the more. I had my doubts about the new “Pro” size which is now the only size new planners come in, but it’s growing on me. I specially like that it weighs less and fits in my bag/s better.

I chose the Atrium Red dated planner (Monday start). $1 from each red planner sold is donated to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. My maternal Lola was afflicted with AML and I really pray that there be better, more affordable treatments for blood cancers, and all other types of cancer.

Planning as Self-Care

Along with my Sunday Night Journal,one of the ways I practice self-care these days is by setting aside time each week to reflect on the week that was, and to map out what’s coming next. This is helping me look at what I am grateful for, and to look forward to the coming days. I usually do these on Sunday nights, or Monday mornings (since the work week officially starts Monday evening, anyway).

Tools for Success

In previous years, I didn’t feel like I maximised the back pages of my Passion Planner all that much. Last year, I did enjoy creating tracker pages and lists on so I am carrying that on for this year.

I’ve also attached a few pages of Elise Cripe’s habit tracker for those daily habits I’d love to cultivate and build on. Subscribe to her newsletter to get the free download! I love her getting her newsletters, there’s always something in there that sparks my interest. Oh and I love her Instagram feed too!

Here’s a quick flip-thru my weekly spreads so far this year, and the trackers, planning pages, and lists I’ve set up:


If you are using a Passion Planner, I would love to see how you use it! If not, (why?!), what do you use for planning?

The Good Trade Fair – October 2018

Just as we did back in July, we went all the way to Central Square at the Bonifacio Global City last week for The Good Trade fair. It’s a weekend pop-up of small businesses espousing a zero-waste and sustainable lifestyle.

I finally restocked on the first organic deodorant I’ve used that didn’t have me worrying about smelly pits after a long day – Zero Basics Deodorant is all natural, keeps you dry and smell-free for 24 hours (maybe more), and doesn’t leave chemical residue that darkens your pits. Believe me, I have tried deodorants from a couple other local organic brands and this is the best so far.

One bottle will go a long way, unfortunately for me, I dropped my first bottle which is why I needed to restock so soon. Sa totoo lang, ikinalungkot ko yun. The bottle was still more than half full, and I just really had such a good product experience. My deo of choice used to be Dove Original. I love its powdery smell. I was quite happy with it except that the container ends up in a landfill and will probably exist longer than I will. So I made the switch. 

This one comes in an amber glass bottle with a spray nozzle and is refillable at a discount. Zero-waste, and cost-effective. 

I also got a pair of bamboo toothbrushes from the Zero Waste Hub, and filled a bottle that I brought with me with peppermint hand soap from Ritual.Ph. I love that there were a number of brands there that allowed for package-free, buy-what-you-need purchases. It does feel a little weird to already be lugging a shopping bag of empty containers BEFORE you do any actual shopping, but it really wasn’t all that bad, and not an inconvenience.  

It was also great to see Anthill Fabric weaves up close and personal. I didn’t buy any this time because sizes do tend to be for the average Pinay (translation: maliit para sa’kin), and they do cost considerably more than fast-fashion options.  I have my eye on a couple of pieces that I might save up for a custom order though. 

It was also great to dialogue with some of the shop owners and learn a little bit more of their products and advocacies. I was really trying to be intentional with my shopping and didn’t want to just purchase whatever I fancied – but there are definitely new-to-me brands that are now on my radar ?

What these fairs do, really, is make us more aware of the small changes we can do that can have great impact in reducing plastic waste, and leading a sustainable lifestyle that will be friendlier to Mother Earth. I was really looking for an alternative to dishwashing sponges. We go through one of those every couple of weeks and I know there’s a better alternative out there. I was hoping to find wood brushes or those abaca scrubs that weekend. Sadly, whatever stocks were available had already been sold out.  

Luckily, the Daily Convos Shop had these:

I didn’t buy any. But the lady who makes them was nice enough to talk to me about her products. I mentioned that I’m a yarn hoarder and could probably make one for myself. She recommended using cotton thread and even told me about how to keep these scrubbies clean and sanitized so they can be used for a long time.

SO I made a couple of squares to try. I actually still have a few sponges for backup but so far, the scrubbies are holding up and doing the job just fine. We have a silicone pot scrubber that we got from Taiwan for the tougher stains so I’m hoping that this is a switch we can do without any hassles. I just have to convincethe hubby to use the scrubbies instead of the sponge. 

I made a couple more to give to a friend to test-drive too. Friends and family out there who would love to switch too, I can make a couple for you as Christmas presents, just let me know!

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