Living life to the fullest is more than just accomplishing a set tasks each day, buying a To brew your very best stems from nurturing the different aspects of your life such as fostering your talents, asserting yourself to learn more, and living a life of overflows to be able to give back to the community.
Suzette Lim’s story as a Community Member of Brew Your Best Year began when she first volunteered and shared her time with children with cerebral palsy during National Disability Week in 2014. Since then she has continued to live with a purpose by regularly volunteering in Caring Cup activities. Through the years that she has surrounded herself with supportive people who share similar passions and helped her grow as a person, she was able to do meaningful work, and has expanded her knowledge about her interests and herself.
Read all about Suzette’s journey as a Brew Your Best Year Community Member, and how she chooses to live her life with overflows in this week’s Community Feature!
WHO IS SHE? Nina Suzette Lim, 29 years old.
WHAT DOES SHE DO? She volunteers and participates in The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf®’s events during her spare time.
1. How did your Brew Your Best Year journey start?
I have been familiar with The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf®’s since 2009, when I used the coupons from the first Belle de Jour Planner I bought in 2009. However, I think my journey actually started while browsing through The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf®’s Facebook page in July 2014. They were looking for volunteers who wanted to spend time with children with cerebral palsy (CP) during National Disability Week. Out of curiosity, I signed up for the activity.
My first volunteering experience turned out to be insightful. I learned that children with cerebral palsy are just like us in many ways. Sometimes their special needs frustrated their guardians, but they usually brought joy to everyone around them. Also, they can be creative with their artworks.
Listening to the storytelling session amused me too. I’ve forgotten what the story was about, but I still remember how the narrator entertained both kids and us adults with enthusiasm and passion.
Since then I joined The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf®’s events whenever I could by submitting entries for their contests, donating money, or simply showing up on the spot.
- What are your most memorable experiences in joining our events so far?
Besides the one with the cerebral palsy kids, the others were:
- A) Doodle Workshop with Memory Crafters — I submitted my first paper clay artwork to Brew Your Best Year. The theme of the contest was about sharing happiness with others. I was surprised when they sent me a confirmation email accepting my entry for the event. I did not expect to be accepted for the workshop or even for my work to be posted on their website.
During the workshop, I met fellow participants who, like me, were beginners in the art of doodling. This reassured me that I wasn’t alone with my struggles in creativity. I made a birthday card for an aunt. I realized I did not have to possess amazing artistic skills to make others happy. What matters is a willingness to share your work with others.
- B) Solar Saturdays with Liter of Light —
At the start of the event, I learned that electricity is a luxury for indigenous tribes like the Dumagats. They have to rely on kerosene as a source of light that gives off toxic fumes and endangers their health. Lack of electricity has hampered their daily lives, affecting the quality of life for the children who could not properly do their homework at night.
With the help of a volunteer, I assembled my first solar-powered lamp. I had fun using a soldering gun to meld wire together. Most importantly, I felt happy knowing that my “creation” would combat energy poverty by giving someone the gift of electricity, a resource I tend to take for granted.
- C) The Giving Town 2016 — This jam-packed event struck me as unique. It brought together different NGOs, singers, and crafters who generously shared their time and talents with other people.
I listened to resource speakers talk about their partner organizations and bought products to support their various advocacies. I participated in several craft booths, such as:
– origami graduation hat creation at the Real Life Foundation booth
– freehand doodling from Lynne Apura
– emboss calligraphy from Rafy Cabrera
– DIY notecards and envelopes from Ilyn Lopez
I liked that I could give away my finished artworks to family and friends.
I also appreciated the free holiday drink coupon I won from a game where I assembled the phrase “Season’s Givings 2017” in less than two minutes. I used the coupon to write an essay draft at The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf® Bonifacio High Street.
- Favorite pieces created during The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf®’s various events
Among my favorite pieces was the “Curiosity” wire bookmark I created during the launch event of the 2015 Giving Journal. The cat charm reflected my preference for cats, while the key charm represented my desire to unlock the answers to personal life questions.
My other favorite is the first dreamcatcher I created from the Catch Your Dreams event by Craft MNL and Soulflower two years ago. I used to be intimidated with the thought of creating one because of its intricate web patterns, but after that event, I discovered that I can make my own anytime I wanted to.
- Where do you get your inspiration?
Everywhere — pets, people I interact with, heritage buildings, content I read online and offline, artworks, travels, literature, films, nature trips, markets, commuters, etc. Sometimes ideas strike me while running or hiking.
- What is Brew Your Best Year to you?
For me, it is:
– an outlet for expressing my creativity and my thoughts on life matters
– an avenue for interacting with community members who share their essays, artworks, or photos on the Brew Your Best Year website
– an opportunity to meet other people who want to learn new things, expand their knowledge, and give back to the community through meaningful volunteer work
- What are the biggest learnings you have gained from being a part of the community?
My biggest learnings often come from the artists and guest speakers I meet in the various events of The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf®. They know what they’re good at, love what they do, and make a difference in others’ lives by sharing their experiences and teaching their skills to others. By listening to their stories, I’ve discovered that living an inspirational life is possible with hard work, dedication, and trust in yourself and your vision. Being surrounded with supportive people who share similar passions as you fosters your growth as a person as well.
- What do you believe are the most important elements in brewing one’s best year?
– The courage to live and speak truth is very important. I know this is easier said than done, but living a life controlled by fear is worse.
– Knowing what your values are allows you to make better decisions and prioritize what matters most to you. Without this awareness, you drift around aimlessly and you’re easily swayed by others’ opinions and agendas.
- How do you plan to make your year your best one yet?
I plan to continue doing and learning more about art this year, though I’ve not really decided what kind I want to focus on. For now, I keep experimenting on whatever strikes my fancy.
I keep a time capsule journal to mark my 30th year of existence. It’s challenging to think of what to write or how to lay out the pages with stickers, photos, newspaper clippings, and markers. At the same time, I am working on a sketchbook called “Draw Every Day, Draw Every Way: Sketch, Paint, and Doodle through One Creative Year” by Jennifer Orkin Lewis. Each month has a theme and a set of art materials to try out. For example, “A Month of Characters” is about drawing with red, blue, and black ballpoint pens. I use the daily prompts to draw the subject matter within 30 minutes.
I’m still figuring out how to fit the arts into my overall plans to change my life direction and career path. Just the same, I hope to keep up with my arts exploration until the end of the year.
- What advice can you give to the community?
Be open to trying out new activities. Learn as much as you can from others (join The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf®’s events and workshops)!
Most importantly, have the guts to face rejection. I have held back from submitting my work because I feared it was “not good enough,” so I missed out on some Brew Your Best Year events. Being rejected stings, but it’s also useful feedback. I find out what works and what doesn’t work, so I find ways to improve my next piece. Better try and fail than not try at all.