Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Wednesday Wisdom: Happiness and Forgiving Oneself

An old friend of mine shared this quote recently and it resonated so much with me that I've decided to share it today. These truly are wise words, for we can never let happiness in if we are so filled with regrets and resentments, especially towards our own selves. 

Happiness is there, but only if we allow ourselves to see it.



Monday, October 15, 2018

Monday Motivation: Fall Into Healing



I had an interesting dream last night, the kind that gave me a feeling which I wanted to stay with me way after I had woken up. More than the images or characters in my dream, it was the message that struck me. I actually woke myself from the dream because I sleep-talked. I remember that the word that unconsciously left my lips was 'healing'. I caught myself actually saying it and hoped I didn't wake my husband up. 

I still need to figure out the significance of my dream and that word, but in the meantime, I'd like to take this opportunity to invite you to reflect on the Fall season and how we can transition with it. 

Perhaps as we watch the trees gently shed their leaves, we can also look within and think of what we need to shed or let go of, in order to prepare for a fresher start. 

Perhaps being surrounded by trees engaged in the act of self-preservation and preparing for the future serves as an inspiration to us so that we may tend to our own wounds in order to find ourselves more whole again, wiser and more equipped for the seasons ahead. What may feel and seem like death is actually a necessary process for survival and renewal. 

I know I have wounds and pains that need to be heard, baggage to be unloaded. The journey to confronting them is far from simple and light. But the trees are showing me that the choice is clear. Letting go may be painful, but sometimes you'd be surprised at the beauty and richness this process brings. 





Monday, October 8, 2018

Monday Motivation: If You Want a Friend, Be a Friend

Image by: Nagi Usano
When I permanently migrated to the United States from the Philippines, I knew one of the biggest challenges I'll face is making new friends. And it wasn't about replacing my long time friends back home, but rather the clarity that I will continue to need, perhaps more than ever, the energy that can only be given by female bonding. I was a newly-married, newly-transplanted adult and I knew my sanity and yes, to a certain degree, even my happiness depended on it. I needed new friends to hang out with so I can unwind; friends I can vent to and who would understand and not judge; just simply someone I can relate to, trust, and feel comfortable with, other than my husband and family. 

It didn't take long for me to realize that the task ahead demanded a lot of patience and humility. I can't even tell you how many times I thought of quitting and convinced myself that I didn't need friends. But I knew it was a facade, a lie. Sure I was okay. I was functional. But I knew something was missing and it was that energy that one can only get from being with your kind, your tribe. I'm an introvert, and for me to say that I have that need says a lot. It's not about having a big group, but just to have a handful of people I can really talk to, be silly with and still be accepted, even loved.  

Finding new friends as a married adult takes a lot of work. First you need the humility to admit that you need friends. Without that step, nothing will jolt you enough to push you to make any effort. And it does take some effort. You have to want it to get it. And to want it means you need to be a friend. You need to allow yourself to open up bit by bit. You need to make time, carve out time to spend with others so that you get to know them better, otherwise you'll always be stuck with making excuses not to put yourself out there. I get that parenthood is a challenge and maybe sometimes it's easier to convince ourselves that our children need us so bad that we really can't find time for ourselves and (potential) friends. If you find yourself thinking that, then just be honest that you are making excuses. Been there done that. I know it. But when I looked at my situation honestly, I knew it was just that I didn't want it badly enough which led me to my default lame excuses. 

Don't ever delude yourself that you don't need friends. Science has shown that having friends (real, not virtual), social connections and support, positively influence both mental and heart health. 

An interesting article from The Atlantic likened loneliness to hunger. John Cacioppo, a University of Chicago psychologist and author, said that the lonelier one gets, the more likely you are to interpret social situations negatively. He noted that lonely people's brains tend to spend more time searching for signs of social threat. Just as evolutionarily, humans are wired to be more sensitive to bitter tastes when they are hungry because 'bitter' translates to 'possibly poison', lonely people tend to more easily interpret social cues as negative. They find it safer to detect 'foe' instead of 'friend', for self-preservation reasons. No matter how hungry you are, it's better to stay away from, or spit out, what might possibly be poison (heightened sensitivity to 'bitter'), than take a chance and keep engaging ('chewing'). As such, their isolation ends up begetting even more isolation. 

Any human connection is a risk. But don't allow yourself to get to the point of extreme hunger because it will only further heighten your sensitivities and possibly give you even more excuses to stay in your shell. Open yourself a little while the appetite is there. You have to want it to take that first step and keep moving forward. You can't expect people to want to be around you when you don't seem open enough. You can't expect trust when you aren't willing to trust.
A handshake only happens when both people are willing to extend and open their hands. 


You cant stay in your corner of the Forest 

waiting for others to come to you. 

You have to go to them sometimes.

---Winnie-the-Pooh


Monday, October 1, 2018

Monday Motivation: Movimiento Es Vida


Original Image by: Vijay (CC)


In the movie World War Z, Brad Pitt's character—Gerry Lane—uttered a brief but profound lesson: "Movimiento es vida". Movement is life. And if I may further add, 'The Universe rewards action'. 

If you've always lived by "If you don't know what to do, do nothing", you may want to rethink it. In my own experience, I've realized that's not exactly the best choice. 


It's one thing to be reckless, it's another to be so caught up in caution and overanalysis to the point of paralysis. Been there, done that, regret it. I'm not saying I will stop being an overanalyzer. All I'm suggesting is that there needs to be some balance so that analysis doesn't become an excuse for inaction or stagnation. In those times when I allowed myself to push on in spite of feeling insecure and uncertain, I ended up with answers, a higher degree of certainty and satisfaction. I'm not saying I always ended up successful or that I got exactly the results I had hoped for, but at least I wasn't left with just questions and fear of the 'what if'. The truth is, the regrets I have in my life now are borne of those times when I let circumstances (or other people) decide for me. I did not move for fear of making a mistake or getting hurt, and demanded the perfect circumstances before making decisions, and yet everything around me demanded movement. The joke is obvious, isn't it? I wanted so much control over everything that it kept me from moving, that in the end I ended up with no control at all and was left to make do with the consequences of others' decisions. 

Roll the dice. If that's too much for you right now, at least pick up the dice and feel it, maybe just throw it gently. 

Rock the boat. If it's too scary, at least dip your hand in the water and see how that feels. Make gentle ripples with the tip of your finger. 

It may be a job, your health, or a relationship you need some movement with. You don't need anything drastic if that scares you or you just don't feel equipped for a big change as of yet. But opt for some movement. Make decisions. Feel the reality that life does offer you choices and you need to choose a door, a road, one way or the other. Life is about movement and energy so don't waste any of it. LIVE.

















Friday, September 28, 2018

Choices

If you've not been living under a rock and you have a school-aged son, then most likely you've been made aware that Fortnite Season 6 launched yesterday, September 27. Unfortunately, it was a Thursday / school day and I'm betting that a significant number of boys either chose to miraculously rise from their beds on their own very early in the morning (without a parent having to drag them), or rushed through their homework after school just so they can start playing online. 

Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/bagogames/39943037982


Mine chose the latter. 

He did a few quick chores after grabbing a small snack, assured me that he finished his homework when he had free time in class, and then went upstairs to his computer room. 

He promised he would do more chores before bed time (e.g. fold his clean laundry), and just double the minutes for Khan Academy 'tomorrow' (which is later today).

I let him. I've been letting him make choices as part of our training. I'm training myself not to hover as much, while my husband and I are training him to be accountable and learn real responsibility. And besides, his plan seemed sound enough to me. I had the assurance that everything that needed to be done had been done. 

Until Friday morning came...

He got up, showered, got dressed and when I saw him walking towards the kitchen for his breakfast, I saw he had a book in his hand. He read and flipped through the pages while he chewed on his cereal. At that point, I had to ask. I'm sure he knew a long lecture was coming.

"What is that?...And don't tell me it's a book 'cos I can see that it is. What I need to know is why are you reading it now?", I asked with a calm 'Mom voice', which of course only shows up when we're asking a rhetorical question. 

Casually he responded, "Oh, I just remembered that I needed to learn and memorize something here". 

Then I had to say it. "I hope you realize that you've chosen poorly last night. And that choices always have consequences."

Instinctively, but reluctantly he said, "I'm sorry!"

"Oh, no, no, no. I don't need you to apologize", I quickly responded. "If anything, you need to apologize to yourself for making a bad decision. You do see that's what you did, right? Your behavior shows that to you, gaming is more important than school work and responsibilities. And I keep reminding you...CHOICES HAVE CONSEQUENCES. When you make a decision, you have to accept its consequences and live with them. YOU will carry those consequences, not me."

I was done talking after that and neither did my son have anything else to say. I hope his silence meant he digested more than just his cereal and smoothie. 

All I could think of at that point is that, more than ever, I need my sonthis boy, this maleto be wiser and make good choices in life. I pray he fully understands what accountability means; that inasmuch as I desire that he reaps rewards for positive choices, I know too that poor ones teach immeasurable lessons if he humbly submits to them. 

I pray he understands that it is not I, nor his father, who defines who he is, but only himself and the choices he makes. 

More than ever, with what's going on in our society and the plight of women, I pray he grows up knowing how to treat everyone with respect and dignity, and to fathom the truth that how he treats others is a reflection of who he is. 

May he always choose to be a person of integrity. This is my prayer.