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Footnote: A first stationery line from Jaelbird that includes bookmarks, postcards, greeting/occasion cards & gift tags. Letter-envelope sets and other paper goods are in the pipeline.Hand-drawn, coloured illustration & design by Jael Styling and photography by Jael
Props / Stylist’s own
I was asked by a business woman last year what my five-year goal would be. I replied (without thinking), My own stationery line. That must have been desire speaking forth on my behalf – my rational self clearly was on a day off. She raised an eyebrow but was quick to coax it back to its original place. A predictable expression from someone who has conferred self-confidence for her achievements. Though confident, she wasn’t very bright because that quickness was quite slow - I was looking at her most of the time. Discretion may not be a trait she values.
Self-confidence is the least I would invest myself with because it cannot illuminate the luster (of a precious pearl) in a person. Wisdom and circumspect are what brings forth a natural pearl, not cultured contrivances, which only produces pearls of little or no value – plus it breaks easily from a lack of substance.
That thoughtless declaration (having a stationery line of my own) was boldly spoken yet meaningless at that time but little did I know that something was already conceived in the unseen realm. The [stationery] line took root. Now, about nine months later, a once seemingly impossible endeavour had brought forth its fruits.
To be honest, planning is not my favourite thing. It rarely propels me to great heights. On reflection, this personal struggle – that I’ve longed parted company with – was formed by an unsullied forest of experiences. Getting out of a forest is all about recognising life-sustaining elements, like following along the path of a brook instead of determining a rigid way perceived only by a remarkable urbanised senses – you always lose out when you lock horns with something greater and unpredictable.
Planning is utterly conventional and excellent for fulfilling different purposes (for most people) but an absolute nightmare for some. But this is nothing of any relevance to planning itself – I’ve learned to apply that skill only when necessary. Marking 2012 with a first ever stationery line has certainly caught me unawares. A few months before I even plan for this venture, I realised that I had all the tools needed to make it happen. Funny – I received mostly affirming reactions from the people around me, contrary to my own nonplussed one.
Creating this stationery line is more a labour of love than what may come after. My motivation was always to surprise someone with a hand crafted piece of token or gift during jolly occasions. It has been a quiet tradition that I’ve happily practiced for the past thirteen years until I decided to ditch my full-time job and take on this uncertain enterprise whilst on some days imparting creative writing skills to a bunch of eleven-year-olds. A great opportunity to practice public speaking and storytelling with moves not many [ adult friends] have seen before.
A friend, who was also once a colleague used to joke about my soon-to-have champagne parties from the success of my business. That was two years ago after I had given out a dozen of hand-made Christmas cards styled with crepe-wrapped presents at the office before I took off for the holidays. He may have spoken something without much thought and I believe, that too, has taken root.
I have never turned away but instead accept every word of encouragement and confident belief from others – with gladness. The negative ones (from other folks) usually end up straight into the waste bin, including the silent but haughty expression of that business woman who is unmistakably a slow-mo of the ‘brow. I say brighten up.
Footnote: A first stationery line from Jaelbird that includes bookmarks, postcards, greeting/occasion cards & gift tags. Letter-envelope sets and other paper goods are in the pipeline.Hand-drawn & coloured illustration; copy & design by Jael Styling and photography by Jael
Props / Stylist’s own
As women, we sometimes forget the power and influence that we have. It is not found in the inches of high heels, social status or a successful career. It is a different and far more powerful elevation: our words. Words that are spoken in gentleness; it transfers hope and honour to the hopeless and dishonoured. Often, many of us have used words to displace others and bring someone else beneath us. The justification, which is commonly held as a standard [and right to hurt others in the same measure] is not what brings power into our own lives, or others. The feel-good-factor is only temporal.
Words, when skillfully used, with an understanding of the exchange that is hidden within its depths, has power. With such a gift resting behind every lip, you can either allow it to swag like a wanton woman or wield it like a woman of integrity. Many times, I’ve seen both men and women behaving badly; loosening their tongues, making sure their uncontrolled appetites are sated.
I’ve found myself in situations where words were abused and fed to gossip gluttons down at the water cooler mill, or even among friends over dinner. I would even offer the ‘icing on the cake’ from a slice of juicy information. But when I reflect upon my words that were driven with malice and insecurity, it didn’t offer any peace nor strength. Those reflections are awakened to sober up a previously inebriated state where you believe alcohol is the answer to your thirst. On the contrary, water, like words gives life.
When words are used as a weapon to hurt others and to thrust yourself higher, it does not give you any power, it merely caters to any idiot who will go along with their every carnal need. It deceives you. The power and influence that was purportedly served as an attack to others (or, yourself) disabled something else: the power to position yourself in the areas of strength and authority. Aggression through words does not yield respect but resentment from the attacked. Words can save lives. Choosing your words carefully and executing it with tact has the influence to turn hearts. But you may say, I’m not a hypocrite, I say what’s on my mind, doesn’t matter if it hurts as long as I say what I want to say. This may sound like the beauty of honesty but honestly, it is infinite folly and no different from abusing a gift designed to communicate.
Telling the truth does not mean making someone feel bad and inadequate. I am not advocating sugarcoating some things that must be addressed neither am I saying ‘going soft’ on people who did us wrong. What is my point? Words carry weight. What kind of weight (authority) are you bestowing upon others and on yourself? Does it bring any good besides soothing the itch in our ears? It leaves room for more malice waiting to be fed and stuffed like a Christmas turkey. The thing is we are merely stuffing a dead fowl instead of feeding our words to something that can uplift others and strengthen ourselves.
Our words have the ability to soothe pain and encourage others; it even has the power to awaken seeds of greatness (a great potential yet unleashed) in another person’s life. How many times have we heard of children being brought up in an environment of security and confidence through the affirming words of parents? There is a difference between a nurturing environment and a critical one. Those are not words meant to cover up the flaws and shortcomings of a person but you are speaking forth things yet unseen, and cultivating it. I think that is wonderful and it is a pleasure to inspire people that way.
Women have the gift of communication; that intimate access to either hurt or heal. Women can use words to bring back the feminine expression that was lost – that dormant power lies within us. This feature of femininity has been traded for lies: the louder you roar, the greater power unto you. Wrong. When your words carry love, understanding, wisdom and authority, a whisper is enough. It gets a little easier when you truly understand the power in your words. Words can set people free and as a woman, it gets better because it is an attribute entrusted into our hands for a greater purpose, a strength different from a man’s but no different in its value and uniqueness. If you can begin to recognise this gift and use it to elevate lives, you are truly standing in a position of power to heal – not to wound.Hand-drawn & coloured illustration by Jael
Many years ago, before I could understand what a superhero was, he already held me in his arms. At the age of four or five, my father became a sensation overnight after I realised that he was indeed a superhero – my superhero. It was a revelation to a young mind that was filled with ponies, princesses and a bunch of colourful bears that cared for children. A few years later, that same superhero whom I thought will never change [in temperament] caused a tinge of fear in my heart. That strange fear clouded my perception of the superhero whom I always ran to whenever I was happy or sad. The boat started to rock and the impression of my father as a superhero gradually faded like an uncared for painting. Discipline and growing-up were such strange and painful experiences to a child – more so when discipline was not properly administered to.
I realised that because I had changed and thus the power of a superhero in a father was also stunted – it became less sensational and more of a thorn on my side. No longer childlike, I found my own voice, a voice that sometimes skidded beyond the boundaries of a confused and fearful adolescent. Tension rose and words were used as weaponry; thus many other things were messed up. My attitude for example, took a ride on a bull, Spanish-style. And guess who was the matador.
That tension never ceased; it rose higher like a hapless teabag drowned in hot water. Conflicts became routine and resentment was my daily bread. It took on a worse turn and for many years peace and harmony were but a myth. The superhero impression was but a flicker of childish amusement that seemed unreal.
What am I trying to say? Relationships are never easy. Sometimes the other party is to be blamed for a lot more but I have learnt the long and hard way that our response has the power of influence to either make it worse or to learn from every offense. I have also learnt to forgive myself that sometimes it is OK to lose your cool – it is not a failure on my part.
However, if you allow the same situation to make you jump every single time is not just a natural reaction, it is serious. I believe that is a sign to reflect on your response, to apply self-control instead of self-ignition to anger and offense. Never mind the offending party because it is not our job to fix them. That same ignite button is not your master, your decision is.
Acceptance, tolerance and self-control are makers of peace. It allows us to demonstrate love instead of keeping it. Love is meant to be exercised, not accumulated. Fathers are not perfect and they know. They don’t need their children to remind them. This Father’s Day, I want to remind myself that as imperfect as my father is, deep down, I know and I know that he is darn proud of me. His way of showing me off [like a father of the bride] to his friends or newly acquainted people is something that I can never fathom [for years] but that is his pride pulsating, superhero style, a little boisterous, I reckon for dramatic effect.
Hand-drawn & coloured illustration by Jael
Bonded by a very special cake.
A piece of cake on a plate led to another piece (of cake) on paper. A card was conceived in my mind as I ate the cake offered to me at three in the morning. A party of twelve were gathered in a hotel suite for a friend’s post-wedding party, and half of them were friends who had flown in from Germany. They had joked about the impropriety of not having eaten the wedding cake, even after the celebration has ended.
Although the newly-weds’ apparent negligence was far from polite, the wedding cake, in pristine decoration, capped in a hardy snow-white coat appeared serene. By sunset, the cake was waiting patiently; it was modelled in a box sitting by the mini lounge area, quite alone in the suite, whilst glasses clinked and speeches read out loud in another room, all about a hundred feet below its flat chocolate bottom.
By the time the cake was eaten by all twelve people in the suite, no one paid any compliment to how it tasted – for how it tasted. There was no tribute to its saint-like patience, not that any cake was ever canonised, but there was one complaint. It was mine. I was abruptly asked by the bride if the cake was any good, It is a little dry, hence that was the one and last mention of the cake.
No justice was served except for a dessert portion of my insensitive comment. Before the cake was fully consumed and utterly removed from the face of the earth, there was a low level of comfort offered to it: everyone ate quietly and quickly. It seemed fitting to call that a post-midnight vigil between the cake and the party of twelve.
The full revelation of why I bought a bunch of flowers yesterday.
In remembrance for such bravado and tolerance, I decided to create a card for an unsung cake-y-hero, and recorded that event as a reminder: to always consider before a submissive cake, or cakes in general, and not slain it with willful murmurings. Goodbye, cake, henceforth, I will remember you. Thus it is only decent that this card was created and given to those who partook of the cake and not remembering it, from Singapore to Germany, oh and to one in Zurich. Upon conviction by the cake’s sacrifice, the bride had offered to mail it for me when she leaves for Germany tomorrow. All for cake’s sake. Decency is held by few, and fewer still to uphold it. RIP, cake.
Styling, photography and artwork by Jael Props / Stylist’s own Hand-drawn and coloured illustration by Jael
A bunch of beautiful flowers given by a friend; it mustn’t be left on its own without a proper photograph before it wilts away like an unforgettable scent. To perfume, flowers and femininity, this is for my readers.
Styling, photography and artwork by Jael Props / Stylist’s own Hand-drawn and coloured illustration by Jael
Weddings are my favourite go-to occasions since I was a little girl. I remember attending an uncle’s wedding that was held in a church more than fifteen years ago. I bore witness (from a strategic pew-view) to some relatives suppressing their yawns. The exhortation was lengthy, spoken in a shadowy voice tolerated on a humid afternoon. I had no complaints except for a few bored adults standing before me who had blocked and broken my panoramic view of the entire ceremony.
The exhilarating part of a church wedding is during the processional march when the father escorts the bride down the aisle. It seems angels have descended, their heavenly presence presiding at the ceremony that caused a supernatural effect: everyone behaves, anticipating the moment with reverence. To me, it has always been a breathtaking experience.
To solemnise a wedding in a church, is to me the most beautiful way before any after-party becomes a screamer with family and friends. The honour, purity and symbolic meaning of exchanging vows to one another before the Creator and the heavenly hosts is a great privilege. A sacred union that is designed, for better, or for worse; to love intentionally and respectfully, and always with a thanksgiving heart – it is the same attitude as when you first met the love of your life.
It has been such joy designing this card for Mark and Anja because I had many hours of font-shopping at Photoshop. I’ve also forged better friendships with some fonts that I used to snubbed, and humbled by a mere boldness from a simple letter “O” that made a distinct difference. The copy on the card is a truncated version of the original copy, (passed on to different hands and ‘edited’ without my knowledge) and instead of the Mustard Olive colour for the card, it was replaced by a classic ivory – time was just not on our side.
A little treat for my readers: I’ve uploaded a video on my Facebook page of the lovely bride, Anja during the processional march from last Saturday.
Artwork from “FOR BETTER, OR FOR WORSE//Copy & Design//Church Handout
It has been nearly forty days after I started using Oskia’s Perfect Cleanser that is also known as a nourishing balm. A potent product: it has the power to snuff out (my) nasolabial lines (the parentheses marking down from your nose to mouth).
At that time, my skin wasn’t prepared for war, not to mention an assassination, open-faced literally. The political strife that was to stir up heat within the dermal layers because of a new Cleansing Agent was none of my business because a rare excitement ran through my insides and I believe that the inconspicuous ingredients used to innovate this product would work like a (balm) charm for my skin. And it did.
MSM (Methyl Sulphonyl Methane), “the most bio-available form of sulfur” has the speed, stealth and supremacy of a deadly assassin. It delivered a swift end to the nasolabial lines within two weeks. Even the faint C-shaped lines on the periphery of my dark circles faded; the delicate under-eye pad seemed less sunken too. Why? MSM is famous for boosting collagen production, not to mention bolstering fuller hair and stronger nails. I did a research myself and am currently taking this new “food” (tablet form) daily for the past one month. The effects are quite miraculous: fuller hair with a softer texture. Did I also mention that my neck-to-shoulder blade ache of seven years has ceased quite dramatically too?
It all sounds too good to be true. Sometimes, or many times, we are so privileged and educated that the good things, easily obtained, just sail past our head. By the way, this is not a product endorsement. One last thing, their Eye Wonder Serum is quite spectacular too. And all these started with a little prayer; I only asked the good Lord for a “good” cleanser but as always, he surpassed my expectations. Now, would you excuse me, I am going to praise Him for a little while more. x
Pre-MSM dose: www.oskiaskincare.com/MSM/
Where to get: www.budcosmetics.com/
Hand-drawn and coloured illustration by Jael
Below are some shots that I’d taken a few days before Mother’s Day. I spent about five hours styling and photographing over a hundred shots just to get a few good ones. My dressing table was on loan that day for the unscripted setup. Borrowing my recent gift wrapper creation (http://is.gd/3pKRg0) as table top covers is a wonderful addition to the array of dishevelled objects, ageless and beautiful. Old and unworn jewellery saw the light of day for the first time after idling for a few years in the trinket box. A few books that had begun to put on a new coat of dust were cleaned; charms restored and a fresh face forward. Besides the sacrifice and unspoken heartaches, here’s to the loveliness of motherhood – the greatest commission.
Hand-drawn and coloured illustration by Jael
No one can really fathom a mother’s heartbeat towards her children. It is very mysterious yet often identifiable through their acts of love and sacrifice. The strength that my mother wield has remained a great mystery to me. The plot thickens especially when we sometimes respond unkindly or treat them with disdain yet they rarely give us (so deservedly) a proportional rebuttal. They shrug it off (not without a hurt feeling or two) instead of acting out on a sense of justification. Mothers are elusive that way. And that always reminds me of Jesus’ sacrifice on Calvary.
Mothers bear a tremendous burden; they also display abysmal grace. The essence of divine; untouchable. Shoes for example, disregarding the lovely figure of speech, are not divine (as often as they are described with a sense of reverence). These wearables – the Louboutins, Blahniks and Choos – garner respect merely by how they look and other predictable reasons, i.e., whose feet x shoes has “graced”. And, no, they are not comfortable. Perspectives are often cheaply exchanged for the sake of a particular pair: luxury and status. Both are reliable binding agents to the other one yet defective for sound perspectives. I like that particular pair too. However, the price is just not right: abandoning a sound mind over worshiping material deities.
I know very well, in the deepest corner of my heart, that my mother is a woman of great strength that is often mistaken as meekness. It is always easy to hurl an angry word but it takes wisdom and an unconditional love to not take offense. The plot between my mother and I has thickened through the years. However, one thing’s for sure: she is the one who puts a crown on my head because no matter how quiet they are, our mothers always treat us like royalty in their own way. What an honour.Hand-drawn and coloured illustration by Jael