Sunday, November 19, 2017

compliments that aren't compliments

If there's one tool anyone can use to brighten up someone's day, it's a compliment. Compliments evoke positive feelings and interactions, they add sparks to the conversation. Even though I'm  horridly incapable of accepting them, sometimes a few nice words, when said genuinely, can truly lift our mood.

However, as flattering as they may be, we also need to be cautious in expressing them. A compliment might be delivered with good intentions, but the "kind" string of words might also include a specific remark that doesn't carry a good message. Or other times, the compliment sounds a little too backhanded, sounding more like a pat-on-the-back insult.

1. "You're brave, for a girl."
The same problem applies if you call her "smart, for a girl", or saying she "drives good, for a girl." It's 2017; girls find jobs and speak for themselves and are not always the fearful weaklings you identify us to be. Be careful in your flattery. You may not have meant to insult anyone but congratulations, you just stereotyped the entire female population.

2. "You lost weight!"
Living in a world that worships "skinny", we tend to overlook how there are some circumstances that can make a person lose weight. Sure, they might've worked for it (in which case, do commend them for their efforts!), but what if they fell ill? What if they're under a lot of stress? What if they're stuck in a horrendous eating pattern? Does "looking amazing" seem to be on their agenda?

And call me crazy, but I still think that beauty comes in different shapes and sizes. In glorifying supermodel-type bodies and praising someone for "losing weight", we're reinforcing the "thin equals pretty" idea, which can sometimes be more harmful than it is rewarding. (I'll speak more about social perceptions of body image some other day.)

3. "You look different with makeup on!"
Did you think we bought that $30 mascara and spent 20 minutes getting ready just to look the same??

4. "How on earth are you still single?"
"You're so funny, gosh, why are you single!" "You're such a great person, I always wonder why you're still single." Ah yes, it's such a surprise in this modern era to be a fully functioning person without being in a relationship! Such magic!

We take it lightly, but is it really that hard to compliment our sense of humor without reminding us yet again that we are still single? And how are we even supposed to react to your "compliment"? "You're so funny" gee thanks "why are you single" man, I don't know???? 

Point is, if you have something nice to say, say it. But if you plan on following that statement by questioning the status of our love life, do consider stopping. :)

5. "You look better without glasses on!"
I know I took them off for this party, but unless I asked for your opinion, please don't tell me I look better without the one object in this world that I wear everyday......... 

6. "You're pretty, for an Asian."
Last but definitely not least, I cannot describe enough how cringeworthy these words actually are. Despite your "nice"ness, what are you actually saying about the entire Asian race? Or are we continuing to promote that Western beauty standards are "ideal" and just handpicking from anywhere else?

This basically applies for every sentence that goes: "You're (insert positive adjective), for a (insert specific race)." It's not a pleasant gesture. Similar to #1, your honeyed words are served with a side of prejudice. Honestly, it doesn't take that much to be a decent person; just think of compliments that don't make you sound a little racist. 


I'll end by saying that by no means am I trying to shade anyone in this writing. Do take it lightly, dear friends, and besides, let's be honest, many of us have probably said at least one of these things before.  But nevertheless, let us all try to become more considerate in the ways we communicate.

Just a short, playful reading for today, 
only to entertain you guys shortly before I leave for a trip tomorrow morning.

Wish to stay updated? You can find me on Instagram.

See you around!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

you can do anything, but not everything.

Whether you're a laid-back person who doesn't stress too much, or an overachieving perfectionist like myself, at one point in your life, you've probably been told to do as much as you can. You're young! Make the most of it! Be good at as many things as possible, just keep going!

These principles aren't wrong. In fact, if it weren't for such optimistic motivation, we couldn't have gotten to where we are today. But in our efforts to "live life to the fullest" by constantly trying and doing as much as we can, are we setting ourselves up for success in the long run, or just failure to reach all our unrealistic expectations?


The best way to identify myself is that I always feel like a jack-of-all-trades; I'm okay at a lot of things, but I'm not really really great at anything. So even if people consider my skills commendable, I'd still end up feeling unimpressed.

There is also something about establishing ourselves, as someone who's flourishing in all aspects of their life, that places us on a higher ground. We cannot ignore how there is some kind of a social approval that comes with being able to do multiple things simultaneously. 

"You're working on so many things! You're so gifted, it's amazing how you manage to do them all!" 

While many people seem to worship the idea of multitasking (or multi-skilledness) though, I find myself increasingly hating it. See, the more things you focus on, the less meaning they eventually carry. Your life grows busy, but not always productive. Reason strays further, and not closer to where you are.

Despite being raised to believe that the more we can do, the better we are, and as admirable as it seems to "do as many things as you can", it is widely irrational to think that we can be everything we want ourselves to be. Because the truth is, we can't.

"You can do anything, but not everything."

Yes, you, an invincible force, a treasurer of many hidden potentials. Hear the countless pursuits that are calling your name. Go for it, the world is yours! Indeed, we must always believe that we are capable of more than we think.

But despite our endless room for possibilities, we also have our limitations. We're not superheroes, and our willpower isn't always made of gold. We set sail on broken boats. We make goals and we fall short.

That's how the first and second parts of this David Allen quote go hand in hand. It's why we should push against our boundaries but also acknowledge them. It's how we embrace that part of being human; being a mix of both prospect and capacity. Possibility and impossibility.


Everyone is on the search for Life's Grand Purpose. Their profound reason to live. Yet often, the search becomes counter-productive. As a student, for example, the more college pamphlets they give you, the further you are from making a decision. For the young couple, the more houses they look at, the more agitated they become on choosing the right one.

The same happens to us when we constantly ask ourselves, what do I wish to become? Which path do I pursue? We try and try to give our life meaning. And during the earlier stages of our lives, in this world of a thousand maybes, it's easy to be somewhat misguided.

The key, my friends, is not to find more things to do, but to do less things with more focus. 

Life is too short to do too many things that don't excite you. Whether it's trying a new skill, or finding your "true passion", aim for wholeheartedness instead of expertise. Think of this as a reminder that you don't need to master as many things as you can. You don't need to be good at everything. Let go of the idea that investing in 10 different skills can somehow add value to your life. Let go of anything that just ends up blurring your sense of direction. 

On that note, forget multitasking. Forget appearing more competent than everyone else. Forget the idea that juggling many skills can make you seem like an awesome human being. 

Outside of your education or work, find the activities that make you happy, find the paths that help you grow, then eliminate everything else. The world tells you to "be the best version of yourself", but that doesn't necessarily mean desperately trying to prove to yourself that you're capable of doing everything on earth. We first need to know ourselves in order to become the best version of it. And that includes fixing our eyes on just the few things that make us glad to be alive.


Reminding myself of this quote was a life-saving act, and I hope it impacts you the same. Lately, I'm also learning to apply this to how we spend our time. I used to think that "I shouldn't waste my time, therefore I should fill it with as many activities as possible." However, now I'm learning to spend most hours of my day for one specific thing, instead of spending 2 hours each on countless other things for me to "try." It gets more things done, and it gives my life a lot more clarity.

Being an idealist often shows through my ambitious nature. My mind always sets on a constant pursuit. As much as I wanted to, though, I know I couldn't paint every weekend and write everyday and work a freelance job and learn a new language and read more books, all at once.

We can't all be child prodigies. Regardless of how much time I have on my hands, or how much "practice" I put into it, no human being can excel in 10 different things within a lifetime. 

So do I already know what I was born to do? Do I write? Do I paint? Do I go out into the world, feed the hungry and help the poor? Who the hell knows? I still don't have my packet of answers, and neither does anyone. But at least it's clear to me that with these two hands, and just enough dreams, I only need to trust more in time. I can do anything in the world. Just not everything, and not all at once.

I guess my real triumph isn't in being exceptionally gifted, because I'm not. But the real achievement is that I'm no longer so hard on myself. The constant pursuit begins to slow down, and the areas of my life where I lack no longer make me think that my world is falling apart. Rather, it's building up,

and it finally knows where to go.


If my writing is a little dry today, it's because I'm in the midst of an identity crisis. This took me a week to finish, and my brain now feels like a squeezed lemon. So I'm sorry if this is a little sour. 
(Cue the dry laughter.)

I hope I see you around.

Friday, November 3, 2017

life in october

A street glistened by a recent rainfall. Warm evenings decorated with flickering candles with the sound of  laughter and acoustic guitars. Colors that remind you of autumn. Time seems to move quicker, as if it's eager to reach the year's end. The month of October, and how it ended much too soon.

A newfound love for Wes Anderson films. Not only for his twist-and-turn plots and fascinating characters, but also his unique visual and narrative style. I'm obsessed with his work; peculiar stories that tug at your heartstrings even if they make very little sense. Earlier this month I watched The Royal Tenenbaums and it became one of my most favorite films of all time.

Other movies I'd recommend are Amelie–a sweet classic French movie following the steps of a curious young lady and how she radiates life to the people around her, and The Zookeeper's Wife–based on a real story from Poland 1939, it's about a couple who hid dozens of Jews inside their zoo and helped them escape to safety during the WWII.

My recent obsessions include this fun tune by Parcels and a talented soul named Renee Dominique. Her voice is angelic, and I'm in love with her style of videos. Queen of ukulele covers, I tell you. Also, I've been immersing myself in basically everything from Hillsong United's Of Dirt and Grace album (especially Prince of Peace and Heaven Knows.) 

Last but not least, Nicole Zefanya; a gifted and young singer/songwriter who creates some of the most beautiful songs I've ever heard. She writes lyrics that are beyond me. I'd recommend Anaheim to anyone who hasn't heard it already. A final word: a best friend who always gives amazing music recommendations is a best friend to keep.

Earlier this month I went on an exciting book haul that you can read about here. So I have spent many mornings mindlessly finishing a cup of tea while paying attention to the pages of my novel, or laying on the couch with a book over my head. This October, I finished reading: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, It by Alexa Chung, and The Daughter by Jane Shemilt. Also, I'd filled the last pages of my journal; my fourth completed Moleskine notebook to add to the stack of completed journals in my bedroom.

social media revamp
"Digital makeovers" is what I call them. Changing the blog's name and URL (cheers to finally purchasing a domain!), deleting my old Facebook account and replacing it with a new one (because the previous one had been there since 2008 and remained untouched for years), and giving a new URL and look to my Tumblr page. (My Tumblr is basically how the inside of my head would probably look like; the words I resonate with, the daydreams I visualize. The main reason I still use it is for visual inspiration.)

Making some much needed changes to your social media platforms can be very beneficial. "Personal branding" sounds like an arrogant term, but having all your pages appear as cohesive as possible is really helpful for networking and sharing your work.

The strangest thing that happened this month was that I finally started to learn how to cook. Second strangest thing was feeling like I'm beginning to enjoy it.

I've been spending more time in the kitchen, and I'm starting to like that sense of preparing something for other people to enjoy. Now I understand why people can love doing it; around the kitchen there are little joys, like the sound of grilling something on a pan, or the rich smell of spices and freshly cooked meals. By no means am I any good at it (yet?), but it's always good to try something new.

& elaine
On the 29th day of October, Sunday night, we heard the news that my sister finally gave birth to her baby daughter. So on Monday morning, we were already gathered in the hospital room, anxious to see the little angel that has become the newest addition to our family.  

Being an aunt gives you the experience of loving a child that isn't your own, and it's a special, touching memory in itself. When I finally saw her pink cheeks and little hands, it was literally like feeling my heart melt. Giving us a new set of eyes to look into, this year, she has become one of my favorite things. Our new reason for joy; the ray of light we've awaited to descend.


This month the blog posts I wrote include this travel post from Bali, a list of 100 things I love, my views on the words "broken home", and an article on how to politically disagree. I also made this small narrative about the stuff I'd written in the past, and published a Bali travel vlog on YouTube.

A light post today, just to give a few updates on how life had been in October.
Time is moving by so quickly these days that it feels like I couldn't even get a grip on anything. Trying to balance productivity and passion and people all at the same time can be pretty overwhelming.

Anyway, wishing you all a lovely month ahead.

I'll write again soon.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

bali | kim soo

A smell of coffee and cinnamon drifting faintly through the air. Monochrome-patterned cushions, wooden furniture, and dozens of antique fixtures. The combination of beads, mirrors, and varieties of linen. Kim Soo; destination of the brunch-getters, creative wanderers, and home decor enthusiasts.

Their aesthetic was irresistible; think Pottery Barn meets minimalism. I made sure to have a look at every inch of the premises, and completely fell in love with their lifestyle items and housewares. Granted, most of the things were far too bulky to carry home. But going into these stores, I always love to imagine I'm on a shopping spree for home items, picking things out to place in ~an apartment I just bought for myself and live alone in.~ (Does anyone relate?) But "No, Joanne," I said to myself, "you do not need a wooden coat hanger, or that gorgeous copper kitchen set."

Because it was the first place we visited on our second day, my friends and I may have spent 85% of the time taking pictures at every possible corner. I know, I know; for the sake of Instagram, everyone turns into embarrassing tourists. 

For something that looks so serene from the outside, Kim Soo was a place bursting with energy. With the cafe being the extension of the shop (or is it the other way around?), their range of food is mostly very brunch-themed; not so much of glorious, great meals, but definitely pleasant enough for a quick sit-down with friends. Also, their cakes and beverages looked immensely tempting, even though I apparently didn't get to try any.

The insides gave a feeling of warmth and "home", while the outsides were just– gleaming. Picture perfect trees and crisp, white umbrellas giving humble shelter from the fierce Bali midday heat. The pleasant atmosphere was decorated with the sound of passing vehicles, stirring of teacups, and relaxed vacation chatter.


Have you been to Bali before? Did you get to pay a visit to this peculiar little place?
Leave a comment below! I'd love to hear from you.

(How long has it been since my last travel post? Three months. Go figure.
Also from Bali, I talked about our experience in Motel Mexicola; you can read it here.)

I really enjoy making these photo-journal compilations so do expect more of them soon.

See you around!

Saturday, October 21, 2017

how to politically disagree

Feminism. Gender equality. Health care. Climate change. Religion. Racial minorities. 
Votes, elections, and more.

Regardless of what country we live in, political issues have been garnering massive public attention. Two years ago, it had been just that. Politics. But these days, they're trends. Neighbourhood buzz, viral content. 

In every topic from how women choose to dress, all the way to presidential elections, everybody has something to say. You can blame your president, you can blame the media, or immigration laws, or people from a specific racial group. Yet all disagreements seemingly boil down to one conclusion; nobody's right, and nobody wins.


The world is now a jigsaw puzzle of propagandas. Our opinions become pieces that need to be placed side by side; sometimes we get along, but other times, we can't always form a compatible picture. Everyone fights for influence, for being heard, when in fact, none of us has all the answers.

My purpose of writing this isn't to bombard you with some loaded subjects to analyse. I'm also not going to explain every political issue under the sun and try to reel you into my point of view to agree with me. Rather, I simply hope this affects how you approach politics; to add a little softness to the ruthless nature of how we see it.

As a student living under her parents' roof, I don't normally have much to add to political conversation. As a writer, however, my mind is faced with a question. How do we coexist in a world where no one fully agrees to anything?

1. Stay educated. 
Ignorance is bliss, but it also doesn't get you anywhere. Stay updated with the things happening in your country. It's not "grown-up conversation", it's information that you've been privileged enough to receive. In an era where all that information can be obtained through a click of a button, it's a waste to choose to neglect them.

How you form your opinions is entirely up to you; but without facts, don't be surprised when they're seen as invalid. So read the paper or turn on the news, at least every once in a while. It'll be easier to form healthy discussions when you've already expanded your knowledge beforehand.

2. Learn to listen.
Something I've grown to realise is that sometimes, it's better to be kind than to be right. When you give people a chance and try to understand where they're coming from, it helps you consider their perspective, instead of turning them into total antagonists in your head.

The key is to stop seeing everything in a good guys vs bad guys situation. Subconsciously, we tend to label ourselves the "right" ones of the crowd, and the others "wrong". But who are we to be the judge of that? Who are we to call them "biased", when we're all biased at some point as well? Don't we only read the news we want to read, and agree with the people we want to agree with?

Let us try to look past that line we've created. Try hearing people out the way you'd want to be heard. Ask for the reasons behind their argument, and try to learn from their story. People won't remember you for how well you argued, they'll remember you for listening to what they have to say.

When it comes to politics, it's unlikely we'll ever find middle ground. What we can find, however, is a way for communication. When we learn to finally "agree to disagree" and move on, that's how we cultivate tolerance, and mutual respect. Forget being right; just be a decent human being.

3. Express yourself wisely.
Recognise the power in saying something when it's necessary, but also staying silent when it is not. As important as it is to form a logical opinion, it's equally important to know how, where, and when to express it. To what audience do we want to speak? Will our words do more harm than good?

In today's political climate, social media has clearly become the outlet of choice. It's easy, quick, and greatly accessible. Even I love to write small pieces of thought myself, as a way of urging people to think about certain events and then further reflect on it.

However, don't forget that the Internet is vast and limitless. It's where one man's opinion can send a ripple effect throughout many others'. (While a person's tweet may not do anything, enough retweets can cause an uprising, and enough opposing replies can turn the digital forum into a battlefield.)

Whenever you choose to state your opinion where it wasn't necessarily asked for, you are already at the risk of receiving negative feedback. Learn to understand this, so you don't act completely appalled by the thought of people disagreeing with you after you explain your argument. Do stay authentic, but know that freedom of speech can sometimes come with a cost.

Let me end by saying this clearly; it's okay to be young and also care about politics. It's okay to have an opinion. It's okay to ask questions and have discussions with people who are willing to.

I get it; we all hate that one uncle who talks too much about politics in the family dinner. Also, when you're below 20–and I speak from experience–there's a certain look your friends will give you when you start talking about anything political. "Heavy subjects" cause unease; they're not appropriate for a social setting.

There is a time and place for everything (see #3), but my piece of advice for you, that I hope you can take and remember is, you are never too young to care. You are never too young to make a difference.

Despite being labeled as "the Instagram generation", I challenge you, friends, to be political.

Be aware of what's happening. Acknowledge your leaders, and question how they're using their power. Speak up for the groups of people whose voices are left unheard. You don't need to have a lot of money, or a skyscraper in your name, or even a seat in the government. Just be brave. Use whatever skills and knowledge that you have, and don't settle for social injustice when you see it. You have a say in what happens around you.

When something happens and we find more news breaking the silence, there'll be thousands of voices that erupt. As tempting as it is to raise your voice in a world that's already constantly shouting, know that a righteous, gentle whisper can be worth a lot more than an ignorant speech. Stay principled and virtuous when representing your beliefs. You do have a voice, but use it well.

And that's how you build an impact. That's how change happens.

From within.


For a closing note, I'd just like to clarify that I wasn't trying to talk like I know everything. 
Because I don't, and nobody does. 
As always, I simply hope this inspired you and helped you reflect.

 Hope to see you around.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

bbw 2017 book haul

It was a Saturday. The sun shone on the city mercilessly, with a heat that blanketed every inch of the crowded streets. Sounds of traffic mixed harmoniously with shouts from the tired parking staff. And in the morning of that hot Surabaya day, a helpless bookworm finally convinces her mother to take her to the biggest book sale of the year.

BBW 2017 stands for the Big Bad Wolf book convention, a massive book sale event that happens yearly in our region. Until last week, it took place in my hometown, and sure enough, I was dying to go. On Saturday morning, my mom finally agreed to take me there. So we went across town, stepped into the building, already crowded, and filled with thousands of high-grade books all sold at a much cheaper price. In a word? Heaven.

Above - 
One of the first books I picked up was titled Take This Bread. Labeled as a spiritual memoir, it displays the story of one Sara Miles–a once atheist, Democrat-minded journalist–and how she'd rediscovered Christianity when she wandered into a church and joined communion, at the age of 46. Here, she narrates her views on a faith that goes beyond "church culture" or "good behaviour." I've never owned a book quite like it before, so I wanted to try getting into it.

Pictured on the right is a plain notebook I got at an excellent discount. For no more than US$3, I was granted 192 plain pages, a gorgeous binding, with an inside pocket. Because my current journal is running out, this was a good find, and I'm eager to continue journaling in it.

Below - 
The Answer to the Riddle is Me tells the story of a young man who woke up in a train station in India, with no memory of his identity, how he got there, or anything about himself. I've read books that feature mental illnesses before, but never one about amnesia, so I figured this story was too fascinating to miss out on.

Also, I have a deep love for books that portray the different perspectives of people from all walks of life. Hearing a good story from one person can expand your mind, but a good story told by several different people can expand how you see the world. That is why I bought Astray by Emma Donoghue (author of Room), whose story here "lights up four centuries of wanderings that have profound echoes in the present, and offers us a moving meditation on restless times." It won my heart.

Scanning through the Crime & Mystery section, the book I picked up was titled The Daughter. It tells you about a once successful, loving mother, whose life became torn apart by the disappearance of her daughter. Digging into the mystery, she discovers secrets surrounding her family, and how nothing was ever as she believed them to be.

So now, I have a good feeling that these will be some great additions to my shelf. I'm also determined to finish at least one of them by the end of the month.

The biggest (and heaviest) I purchased that day was this hard-cover, 560-page book titled TIME: 85 Years of Great Writing. As far as magazines go, Time is quite legendary, and lately, the world of media and journalism has been appealing to me more significantly. It's no secret that I love writing, and I like to admire and learn from a good, well-written piece every now and then. So when I found this book, I was completely amazed.

The book contains boundless stories; a plane crash in Washington, the war in Cambodia, the Berlin Wall, all the way up to a number of articles featuring the world's most influential leaders; Martin Luther King Jr, Gandhi, Churchill, and more. With more than 80 different stories and coverages, this was a book tailored to my heart's desires.

A book that makes you more well-educated by the time you finish it is a book you don't want to miss.

(Also, the convention didn't sell it for any more than US$6. I call that Heaven-sent.)


The experience of purchasing a book, I feel like, is that, it's your heart that tells you. 

As cliché as that may have sounded, I think any book-lover in the world can at least know a bit of what I'm talking about. As always, thank you for stopping by!
If you have any thoughts on these books, do leave a comment, I would love to hear from you.

See you around.

Monday, October 9, 2017

why i don't say "broken home"

If there is a topic I always avoid speaking of, it's personal matter. But if it bothers my heart, if it makes my mind restless, if it reveals a truth I feel the need to pour out, then my God, I'm writing it.

During church yesterday, I heard the pastor say, mid-sermon, about how he "came from a broken home". Long story short, he told the story of how he held onto Christ and finally made something of himself, etc etc. He delivered a good message, but the two words kept echoing inside my head.

Broken home.

I don't live under a rock; I've heard this term said probably a thousand different times before. 
"I really liked what he said, because I too came from a broken home-"
"He's had a tough life, a broken home child-"
"They're also from a broken home, but wow, they're really strong-"
I usually stop listening right there.

Not an uncommon phrase, nor an uncommon case, broken home describes "a family in which the  parents have divorced or separated." To countless others, it describes something even more complicated.

I will not shed light on my past, and I won't roll my eyes bitterly if you say it in front of me. But for something that I've understood and experienced myself, it is not a phrase that I like to use.


The dictionary explains the word broken as having been "fractured; no longer in working order". "Failed" or "ended" when spoken alongside the word "family". So to me, uttering these words feels like declaring a family as permanently damaged.

But what do we mean when we call a home broken? Who draws the line?

We've constructed this entire category for families with separated parents, but do we need another term to use for the families in which the parents are still legally married, but no longer talk to each other? What about one that's been fighting for years, living under the same roof with no communication and no love? Would that still be considered "whole"?

Could a woman today call her single-mother-neighbour's family broken, then come back to her own house and fight with her husband as they do everyday until well past midnight, all inside her un-broken home?

What are we calling "broken"? Or rather, who?


As someone who was neither born into a "perfect" family, nor raised in one, I first grew accustomed to it. Growing up, words like "came out of a broken home family" was plastered as a part of my identity. I've acknowledged the parts of my past that have shaped me into who I am today, but I remember how feeling obliged to label myself a "broken home child" made me feel like a cardboard box they slapped the FRAGILE sticker onto. 

After stepping into new areas of my faith, though, I'm starting to realize how much I dislike hearing that term. It has nothing to do with personal shame. I just don't think God would see something broken and leave it that way.

I believe that He's planned everything exquisitely. Every year of my life, to every minute I'm breathing. For every storm I needed to sail through, He already saw the entire ocean in a much bigger picture. As imperfect as my past may have been, today I stand here grateful for the things that were once broken, for they remind me of how He's mended every single piece. If not my home, then at least my heart.


Making peace with the past has nothing to do with what the world expects of you. It has a lot to do, however, with how you choose to see yourself. When a person uses the term "broken home", it's okay to choose not to identify yourself with it as well.

Now, I never wish to erase the things I couldn't change, but I do wish that society could learn to view it in a different light. I know my household isn't perfect, but by God's grace, it now fills my heart with love every passing day. We still share our jokes and moments that to me, will forever be irreplaceable. My family can be a lot of things. Broken is not one of them.

Remain careful of the words you say. Even though "broken home" doesn't sting me anymore, I imagine they'll sting a lot more to a 5-year-old girl whose dad just "moved away", or a little boy who still couldn't understand why his parents had to go to court.

Do me a favour; let's not associate them with something broken for the rest of their lives. Let's not make them feel like another casualty in a set of divorce statistics. Let's not wrap that label around their neck just so people can "understand." You don't know if it might break them even more. You don't know if it might push them back just as they're starting to heal.


After writing all of this out, I know that I could never control how you chose to perceive this message. But please know that I'm not aiming to argue in a heated debate; just to hopefully open a room large enough for discussion.

This was long, and more personal and raw than my other posts, but there comes a time where I need to write like this. There are things I always avoid speaking of. But if it bothers my heart, if it makes my mind restless, if it reveals a truth I feel the need to pour out, 

then my God, 

I'm writing it.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

what i've written so far

Having a blog, I always push myself to write something every now and then. Some days, inspiration flows like a river, and it turns into something I'm quite fond of. Other days, inspiration is a brick wall, not moving an inch when you try to push it with all your might, giving only silence and stillness even if you press your ears against it.

But on most days, inspiration comes in waves, and like a surfer, I'll have to swim forward and catch it in perfect time. When the wave recedes, again I wait for another to arrive, and for me to make the most of it once more. Sometimes they surface in forms of crafty metaphors or eloquent vocabulary. Other times they surface in the form of stories, words of advice, or when my soul is just brimming with musings.

Recently, the things I've been writing are often somewhat personal; close to my heart. Therefore, I'm often very insecure about my writing. But lately, hearing how the people around me seem to enjoy reading my words and agreeing with my thoughts have brought me a type of joy unlike any other. So I briefly made a small compilation of some of the articles I've written in the past, if anyone were to read them.


Caution: The posts I've chosen can be quite lengthy. And some of these ramblings make me cringe as I read through them. But here I am, embracing it fully, in the hopes of letting you into my thoughts through different doors and pathways.

"I Quit Social Media for a Week"
- "Things I Need to Tell Myself (2)"
- "The Art of Finding Confidence"
- "The Art of Embracing Defeat"
- "4:58 PM"
- This untitled piece on heartbreak and emotion.

- "Living with Perfectionism"
- "Life Lately | Internships, Harvard, and More" (I wrote this in the first semester of senior year in high school, so all the events by now are already quite outdated, but in it still some silver lining thoughts came to light)

Sometimes, though, I write in pure sarcasm; you can find those articles here and here. If you wish to see some travel posts (which are more visual than they are literate) I suggest this recent one from Bali, or the one from Melbourne when I went last year.


As a closing note, I'd just like to say thank you. If it's your first time here, or if you've read some of my work before, or if you've ever told me you liked my writing, I could not write any words as to how much I appreciate it. This blog is in no way "popular", and it's not that I have thousands of online followers, but simply knowing that what I write can make an impact on how you see things, or how you feel, knowing that my words resonated with you in any way, is more, more, more than enough. Thank you for sticking around, and for hearing my voice as I spoke.

'Til next time.

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Sunday, October 1, 2017

100 things i love

  1. When cars slow down to let you walk past.
  2. Crazy amusement park rides.
  3. Staying at home.
  4. But also traveling. In all forms.
  5. The feeling of tucking myself into bed after a long day.
  6. Beauty and the Beast. (Not only referring to the movie, but you can read my movie review here.)
  7. Sitting alone in a cafe (With a really good book, or a laptop to do some work.)
  8. Peanut butter.
  9. Indie magazines.
  10. Learning new languages.
  11. Worship.
  12. Youth; spiritual communities that make you feel at home.
  13. Wearing black.
  14. Sound of Music.
  15. Wedding photos of that moment where the groom sees the bride for the first time.
  16. Concept stores. (Example)
  17. Frozen yogurt.
  18. Friendships or bonds that make my heart full, in which I don't feel like I'm forcing or pretending to be anything.
  19. Long, loose, un-sexy pants.
  20. Morning walks or runs.
  21. Good podcasts.
  22. Photographing people.
  23. Going to Target.
  24. My bed.
  25. Drinking cold water.
  26. Christmas time and everything about it.
  27. Michael Buble tunes. (I'm bad at defining genres, so what is that? Jazz, swing, show tunes, all of the above??)
  28. Breakfasts.
  29. Journaling.
  30. Denim jackets.
  31. Grocery shopping.
  32. Whipped cream. Don't judge.
  33. Solitude. (Introverts, hi?)
  34. Days where leaves fall from the trees and flutter in the air, just because they can.
  35. Tidying up.
  36. Cold pillows.
  37. Mascara.
  38. Showers after a long day.
  39. Chilly weather.
  40. Riding on a bike.
  41. Doodling on my notes.
  42. Standing on a shore and looking into the horizon.
  43. Watching orchestras, and being immersed in that musical trance.
  44. Wood elements in home decor.
  45. Brick walls.
  46. Videos of ballet dancers.
  47. The Overtunes.
  48. Deep conversations.
  49. Winter coats.
  50. Imitating different accents and dialects (or at least ridiculously attempting to.)
  51. Granola.
  52. Long, chill drives accompanied with music.
  53. Kind and friendly strangers.
  54. Exploring Ikea (or any furniture store, imagining I'm looking for items for my own future home.)
  55. The smell of freshly toasted bread.
  56. Long, sincere, and lovely messages from fellow bloggers that they leave on my posts.
  57. Pyjamas that are made out of satin/silk and make you feel all ~fancy~.
  58. Nailing the eyeliner on the first try.
  59. Looking at houses.
  60. Warm drinks on a cold day.
  61. Sleep.
  62. Looking out the window on a train ride.
  63. Looking out the window of an airplane.
  64. Or just staring out of windows in general.
  65. Singing when no one can hear me.
  66. That big mouth filter on Snapchat.
  67. Trustworthy leather bags.
  68. The colour blue.
  69. Dessert.
  70. Theatre plays.
  71. Face masks.
  72. Yoga.
  73. Big dogs!!
  74. Dogs that look like tough guard dogs but are actually such sweet creatures with loving eyes. (Yes, give me all the sweet German shepherds and Rottweilers you have.)
  75. Old, classic TV shows.
  76. Successful naps.
  77. My 50mm f/1.8 lens.
  78. Mountain breeze.
  79. Sketching flowers.
  80. The fact that turning the batteries inside a remote control to trick it into thinking you changed the batteries actually works.
  81. How the colour brown matches navy blue.
  82. Keeping tokens of travel memories (train tickets, city maps, boarding passes.)
  83. Morning light.
  84. Flannel shirts.
  85. Watching the steam come out of a hot drink, and how it sort of dances out of the cup and wisps into the air.
  86. A refreshing bowl of fruit.
  87. Disney soundtracks.
  88. Waking up early.
  89. Waking up late.
  90. Spoken word poetry.
  91. Having short hair.
  92. Oversized T-shirts.
  93. Smiling at strangers who then smile back.
  94. Modest jewellery.
  95. Tall trees.
  96. Pretty, scented soap bars.
  97. Having people pronounce/spell my name correctly.
  98. Trying on the first silliest hats/headpieces I see in a clothing store.
  99. Acapella sounds.
  100. Every moment in my life where anyone ever made me laugh. 

The last "100 Things I Love" list I made was written when I was 15, so I figured it was quite outdated. This took me practically weeks to put together, but I suggest you try it as well. Find 100 things that make you feel grateful to be alive; it helps you look on the bright side. Happy Sunday!

I'll write again soon.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

life in september

A change in time where mornings grow colder, and rain drops start to fall. People grow busier as their hearts start to yearn for a getaway. A different atmosphere fills the air, and it smells like freshly sown hope. The "newborn babies" time of year. The peak of wedding season. The month of September nearing to its end.

In the past few weeks, I feel my music taste slowly shifting into a new direction. My recent favourites include this song by Daniel Caesar, these two songs by Teddy Adhitya, and this one by Lauv. I've also been loving a lot of this guy's music, despite them sounding immensely lovesick for someone who isn't necessarily falling in/out of love at the moment. Needless to say, I've been getting lost in YouTube playlists and mixes daily.

Other than that, the ukulele has been keeping me company. This involves playing short covers of La Vie En Rose in my bedroom, and when I get tired of that, it's Dream a Little Dream of Me until my fingers hurt and voice runs dry. The sound adds colour to my mood.

the diary of anne frank
Because I've been telling myself to speed up on my reading, I'm now close to finishing Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl. It's a well known story, and I'm finding it rather fascinating. Not only does the book offer you a glimpse into the life of a Jewish family in hiding during WWII, but it also analyses the situation through the eyes of a 13-year-old girl, casting the story with her hope, innocence, and curiosity about the world. It brushes up on heavy matter like war history and politics, but also features the many aspects of Anne's heart, like her falling in love. In many ways light and entertaining, but in others valuably insightful.

memories of youth camp
When I came home from camp last week, I made a small writing piece here saying how it felt. Overall, it was a very positive, memorable experience, as I spent great time with my close friends, while also meeting new ones in the process. I loved every hour of worship, laughter, taking photos, listening to the Word, and walking that long, uphill climb to our bedrooms. For my last ever camp experience before flying quite far away, it definitely left a mark.

& a wedding
Aside from those, September has been an eventful month in itself. On the 15th, I got to play a piece on the piano in my teacher's wedding, accompanied by a male vocalist and a whole orchestra. Nerves aside, having it be the song for their wedding dance moment was such an honour. Taking part in someone's "happiest day of their lives", makes you pretty happy as well.


At this point, it's been four months past my high school graduation, and it's four months away from holding a one-way ticket in my hands, starting my life away from home. Even as days start to look the same as I wait for my departure, I find joy in how every month always turns out so differently, as I encounter new moments and new people frequently along the way. 
Increasingly, it gives me something to miss.

How have you been? Do leave a comment, I'd love to hear from you. 

Hope you all had a lovely September.

See you around?

Sunday, September 24, 2017

a love that breaks my fall

"Too much to make sense of it all,
I know that Your love breaks my fall.
The scandal of grace, You died in my place
so my soul will live."

As much as I love writing, people might be surprised to know that my faith is one of the most challenging things to write about. 

How do you put into words the feeling of being loved by a King, who owns the stars, but wants your heart? How do you put into words the abundance of blessings and mercy He places upon your life, even when you're not looking? How do you put into words receiving a Fatherly love so magnificent, that you don't even deserve it?

After coming home from a three-day retreat, my body tired but my heart full, I've now learned to accept that love differently. 


When you're young, it's easy to think you have your whole life figured out. To play the world like a game of chess; know where you stand, make the right move, and you'll eventually get to where you want to go. But the thing about chess is, you always play it alone.

I used to think that it's about being good enough; smart enough, strong, or capable enough. I used to think that I need to just play my best game, and God will watch me from the sidelines and tell me if I'm wrong. I could read all about the great God I serve, yet still rely on my own abilities to decide "where to go from here". I kept turning to pursue a purpose I've crafted for myself, on my own. 

By observation and experience, however, I've found that life is rather fluid. You might think you have a tight grip around it, but as you press your hands, something is always bound to slip through your fingers. I can try everything and push forward, thinking that I need only to rely on myself, but I'd repeatedly lose my way. 

See, you can be the greatest person alive. Have everything you've ever wanted, thousands of people at your feet, and all the knowledge you can gain. But when the world hits you at "checkmate" and brings you down to your knees, there's only going to be One voice calling you home. 

By grace, where we come to the end of ourselves, where our "strength" is no longer strong, and in the midst of all our flaws, His love and goodness prevail.


It took me about three days of many moments of worship, meeting new people, and several different sermons, to hear how He's been calling my name. A camp I was actually even doubtful of joining, turned out to be an experience that transformed and renewed me from the inside out. 

I was exposed to the invitation to receive a love that I never had to work for. The invitation to pursue a life of a godly purpose. The invitation to finally let Him step through the gates of my heart that I've kept locked for far too long, and make it His. All this broke me free from the weight of my past, my fears, and my sin. Now my heart wakes up with a newfound peace, knowing each day that my life is not my own, but Christ's, and that He's in control.

A great God we serve, indeed, but we mustn't forget that He's a good God as well. 

If I live my life for Him, it wouldn't be because I was trying to repay anything. (What form of payment can us humans possibly come up with to "repay" a love that strong? A love that came down and became flesh, proved it through sacrifice and then conquered death itself?) Rather, it is so that my life becomes a living proof of that love. 

I'm slowly letting go of that tight grip, and it takes me bits of time and practice. I know that someday, the world will attack the faith I proclaim. It will slip failure under my door, and it will question the cross I wear around my neck.

But as many, many chapters await in my journey, I now continue to learn to let go of my fear of tomorrows. Instead, I do my part, and hold onto the love that He's promised for me.

A love that gives you strength, 

and a love that makes you whole.


I've been rambling a lot these days (which probably shows), so apologies in advance if this wasn't what you expected. I actually wrote this piece simply because of this overflow of emotions after coming back from camp yesterday. Also because I missed writing very much. Thank you for reading this far, and I hope this helps remind you of that love as well.

See you around.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Social Charity: How You Can Do More

As a society, I feel like we don't talk much about giving back or helping those in need. It's not a "sensitive" subject, it just tends to be overlooked. There seems to be a subconscious thought that in order to help people, it'd help if you were a mega-star philanthropist or if your life resembles that of Jane Goodall's or Mother Theresa's.

But we don't always have to go to the extremes to look for ways in helping others. When there's a hurricane and you look into the town, you'll see many people needing help. But actually, if you look around, or look in other parts of the world, there are always just as many people that need your help.

Causes range from disaster relief, wildlife conservation, helping third-world countries, cancer research, and many more. Below is a list of ways that you can start taking meaningful action, and doing more.


1. Do more than just give.
Anyone can swipe a credit card or deliver a cash-filled envelope to a certain address and be done with it. You send off the money, pat yourself on the back for being such a generous modern-day philanthropist in the midst of your work, and get on with your life.

Giving is good. And people need to do more of it in order to establish a better world. I'm not going to start pointing fingers and accusing people of "not doing enough", but if your efforts of social charity only involve giving, maybe it wouldn't hurt to try doing more. Sure, a village could use those tokens from their anonymous sponsors, but sometimes, what NGOs and communities really need is a person that gives a helping hand. Your time and energy can be just as needed as your money and secondhand clothes.

YOU CAN START BY trying something easy, like passing out food, or giving them a smile. Beyond that, you can try engaging with them. Sit among them, start conversations, and get to know the people you're trying to help. These are the conversations that will most likely make a lasting effect on your experience. You can never truly know what someone needs until you sit down and talk with them.

Most of the time, the thing that these people need more than money or things, is change.

2. Care for your cause. 
People would already do a ton of research before donating a significant amount of money to a certain organization. But donations are not, expanding your knowledge on the cause will truly be helpful for your efforts.

Who do they partner with? How much have they accomplished and how much more are they doing now? What kind of impact has been made, and what kind of impact hasn't been?

Finding out everything you can will help you know more about the environment you're stepping into (if you're planning on going out onto the field), or it might just motivate you to let others know about what you're working towards, and invite them into action as well.

3. Get involved
After finding a cause that you're passionate for, don't be afraid to reach out to the groups working within it. Don't just wait to hear a pitch in a shopping mall; go out and look for it on your own! And when you join them, you have to be brave enough to connect to people. Part of being involved means putting yourself out there and doing as much as you can. Don't be afraid to ask them how you can lend a hand, because there's usually always going to be a need in something. 

4. Stay updated with the places you'd visited.
Anyone can make donations or send care packages, but the challenge is to really have a heart for the people in need. One of the ways is by keeping the contact details of the foundation, group, or location you'd visited, and taking note of them so you can stay updated on how they're doing, and whether or not you can offer any more help in the future. If you've been to several spots, make a list. You can directly contact them in your free time, or just keep tabs on their webpage if they have any. It reminds them (and yourself) of how devoted you are to the cause, and how you're keen on assisting them in nurturing their growth.

5. Join social charity events.
Most cities today would already have at least one charity foundation up and running, and there are probably already hundreds of organizations in your country alone. This calls for charity events! Some are pretty straight-forward (like donating blood, going on mission trips, visiting a children's hospital) but some others wrap it in a more entertaining event; like charity runs, fundraising fairs, etc. Keep your eyes open for any that might come near you and take part! You can be a volunteer, or just be there for the occasion to help raise the money. It's the simplest and most efficient way you can help.

(If you live in Surabaya like I do, I'd suggest referring to @exploresurabaya on Instagram, or this website for knowing about any upcoming events in our city!)

6. Plan your own!
If you happen to have your own organization/foundation you're trying to attract more attention to, or a cause where you can help raise awareness, plan your own event! Probably, you will need to already have/be involved in an organization with plenty of experience already, or have reliable partners for the cause/project.

Needless to say, the tools you use for planning said event will be equally as important. Planning an event is a lot of fun, but no easy feat. Eventbrite is a well-known event planning site, and their nonprofit fundraising tools are perfect to use for planning nonprofit events or fundraisers in any form! You can head over to their website where it's not only easy to navigate, but also very clear and informative.


For personal purposes, I'd also written about one of my own experiences. I did three different small activities in three different places, all within the month of August 2017, but sharing about all three just didn't feel right. However, I wrote about one of those days in a separate page you can only access here. I didn't want to make a blog post and publish it felt a little too oversharing. Visit if you wish to read my short narrative on my experience, and see some photos. I might write about my other experiences someday, but for now, that'll have to do.

As always, I'll write again soon.