Tuesday, December 27, 2011


In the spirit of welcoming the New Year, here’s a post that looks back on the past year here on Catharsis.  In the blogging group I belong to (PBAU), another challenge was put forth where we write a post featuring our top 5 to 10 favorite posts from 2011.  It could be something we loved, something that had the most views, comments or whatever criteria we want.

It wasn't easy choosing 10 out of 92 entries so what I did was to think of those that made the most impact on me, whether it was because I was writing about something that felt very sacred and intimate, or something that I felt exercised more of my creative spirit.  So here are my choices and I hope that you have enjoyed Catharsis this past year as I did my best to publish more and slowly write more from the heart!  I still can't believe I have 93 entries (including this one) for this year, the most for me so far!  Thank you to all you readers and fellow writers who continue to inspire me!    

Soulful Hands…Surprisingly this had the most views this past year which was completely unexpected…I still don’t know why but many thanks for appreciating this post!

Life Is A Cliché…This is the one probably most enjoyed by many of you and though the words were not originally mine, I did have a lot of fun putting this together!

Running Thoughts…This was my first time experimenting with combining form and content, which I thought was quite poetic to some extent.  I was pushing my creativity a bit with this one and I think I was successful.

In The Company Of Waves…This talks about my journey to healing after my miscarriage and I know that a lot of you were touched by this. 

The Beloved’s Voice…I have not written a long poem like this in a while so I was quite happy with how this turned out.  I hope I did justice to Beethoven’s romanticism.

What I Know About Love…It’s difficult not to have this as one of my favorites from 2011 because it shows a more mature idea of ‘love’.  Reading this reminds me of the growth I’ve experienced through the years, and that whatever pain I’ve gone through is more precious now because it has somehow translated to greater wisdom.

Saved & Emily’s Gifts…I apologize for citing two here, making my total 11 instead of just 10 posts.  I love these two essays mainly because they remind me of how God/Life/the Universe won’t give up on my healing and faith. 

The Ecstasy of the Moth…How can I not have this as a favorite when it speaks so much of who I am and how I want to love and be loved?  This essay reflects so much of my passion.

Tongue-Tied With Trivialities…This is a favorite because it has concretely helped me in my daily life.  Thinking of what I wrote here helps me become more at ease with strangers and have more confidence speaking my mind.

Star Struck…I think this was a very well written piece in terms of words, flow and rhythm.  It even surprised me when I read it again!  I also love it because it reflects my lasting love affair with astronomy.

May you all have a prosperous New Year and one filled with much hope!  

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Wise Christmas

I have way too many thoughts this Christmas season.  Of course I’m the only one to blame for overthinking this holiday and needing to reflect on what Christmas means to me now that I’m 38.

I won’t deny that I’ve always loved Christmas because of the idea of presents.  The excitement and suspense surrounding gift-giving is just irresistible and though it also creates much of the stress surrounding this holiday, I just think Christmas won’t be the same without it.  I won’t be a hypocrite and say that it doesn’t matter if I didn’t give or receive any gifts during Christmas time.  That would just be tragic.  I love presents.  It doesn’t matter how small or cheap it may be.  It could be something bought or something personally created.  Just wrap it and give it to me and I shall be fine…even if it’s just a piece of paper with beautiful words! 

One fond Christmas memory I have is when I used to fuss over the many presents sitting and waiting at the foot of our Christmas tree when my Mom was not yet retired and still working.  You see, she used to be the HR manager at the company she worked for her entire working life and every holiday season, she would get numerous gifts from everyone…coworkers, clients, friends, etc.  And she would indulge me by not only letting me arrange them nicely under the tree, but most importantly by letting me open them, one by one, even BEFORE Christmas day arrives!  She would let me choose and of course I’d start by choosing the more predictable looking ones or those in smaller boxes.  I would normally save the fancier looking packages for Christmas day and my Mom was completely fine with this, letting me tear up all the wrappings and get all excited even though they were not mine.  I just absolutely loved doing this!

Being Filipino, Christmas also naturally means family gatherings and lots of special food.  Typical members of the holiday spread would be things like ham, spaghetti (Filipino style), pan de sal and queso de bola, fruit salad (again Filipino style), embutido (which is like meatloaf but more complex in flavor than the American one, in my opinion), chicken galantina (stuffed chicken), macaroni salad, bibingka and puto bumbong, and of course, if you have a lot of money to spend, there will be lechon.  But even if we didn’t always have all these things, what was most important to me was spending it with my immediate family and my aunt’s family who resides just across the street.  My siblings and I grew up with those cousins and I consider them my sisters and spending Christmas with them as we played games or exchanged gifts always made everything more memorable.  It has been 13 years since I last had a family Christmas where we were all present.  Since 1998, someone has always been abroad somewhere so I truly miss having a complete family.  I continue to dream of being able to spend at least one more Christmas with everyone in my family present to celebrate this occasion.

There have also been lots of Christmases spent pining for a love life.  With the holiday season being so focused on love and feeling loved, I do remember a number of years feeling utterly melancholic over the fact that I did not have a boyfriend.  In 2001, when I first visited Chicago, my sister and her family made a huge mistake bringing me to the zoo.  It was close to Christmas and they had some special exhibit going on.  Who would have thought that the zoo could turn into lovers’ lane?!  Everywhere I looked, there were couples holding hands and cuddling and I swear to you, it took every drop of will power in my system to resist the urge to bust out an uzi gun and randomly fire.  I know that’s a horrible thought but I was in a horrible place.  Trust me.  2001 was rough…sweet, but still rough.

Then I got married and had a family of my own and Christmas became less about me and my needs.  Focus went to my son, more than anything or anyone else and I now want to create our own traditions.  A recent one we’ve gotten into is to do a Christmas movie night and for the past three years, it has been The Polar Express.  All 3 of us LOVE this movie and Noah even likes to watch this even when it’s not December.  Two nights ago, we had our movie night in our new home and it was a lovely family bonding time.  Just sitting with my boys helped me put things in perspective.  It is true that ‘sometimes the most real things in the world are things we can’t see’. 

So you see, there are these different elements that all make for a meaningful Christmas and it could get confusing sometimes.  A lot of times, my brain wants things streamlined, simplified or summarized.  Though I am undoubtedly a sucker for complexities, I also desire clarity and want ideas that are easy to conjure and can serve as a clear guideline for me.  I am happy to say that this year, at age 38, I have decided to summarize my belief about the meaning of Christmas this way…

…That Christmas is about following the star, just as the three wise men did.

The star could be many different things.  The star being 'light' symbolizes wisdom, knowing what do do, how to act.  It stands for hope, and ultimately love, as the birth of Jesus Christ meant the coming of salvation.  Following the star also means following Christ, just as the wise men were lead to him. And to me, following the light, following Christ, means choosing the path towards your greatest self, journeying closer to the highest potential of your spirit, endeavoring to be as 'God-like' as you could be.  In as much as the star helped the wise men navigate and find the manger, it also serves as our own inner compass today as it points us towards our north.  If we all remember to follow the star, especially during (but certainly not limited to) this season, then it won't matter if we find ourselves enveloped by a sense of lack, surrounded by problems or disappointing and hurtful people or lack of material resources and other factors that create a less than ideal holiday scenario.  We would just be reminded to follow the path of light, and act with compassion, trust, honesty, generosity, kindness, patience, gratitude and all else that aligns with light...love...Christ.

Have a Blessed and Bright Christmas, everyone!  Let your light shine!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

To Cut or Not to Cut...Is That Really Just the Question?

I didn’t think it would be this bad.  I mean, I knew I would have a hard time, but never in a million years did I imagine I would be this indecisive about something so trivial.

My hair.

Yes, most of us have proclaimed at some point that you never ever mess with one’s hair.  A person’s hairstyle could spell out confidence, success and ultimately, happiness.  Well, alright, maybe not happiness with a capital ‘H’ but just good mood which of course affects everything else, right?  My problem is that I can’t bring myself to go to a hair salon here in TN.  Before leaving Chicago, I made sure I paid my stylist a visit one last time.  I got a haircut and said to myself, “This should last at least 3 months and by then I’d have already either found a new reliable stylist or would have visited Chicago again to go back to my beloved Andy (stylist)”.  It has now been 4 months and I have not had the guts to step into a new hair salon and my hair is screaming for a cut so badly! 

Some people have given me recommendations.  I’ve also seen ads and have done some research.  I’m looking for a hip-looking place, one that at least appears to be modern enough so as not to give me a traditional or stereotypical Southern ‘older-lady’ Paula Deen hair, and I’m also not willing to drive too far so distance is a major consideration.  Do my criteria even make sense?  I don't really know but that's the truth.  

And maybe the problem is not really the ambivalence about the salons but as to whether I want a haircut or not?! For the past seven years, I've sported short hair and it has gotten shorter and shorter in the past two years.  I happen to LOVE short hair.  Yes I do have a roundish face and I am far from being skinny but I have stopped caring. I think it's stylish, suits my personality more and I feel more powerful with it. However, about two months ago, a conversation with my best friend made me wonder.

She pointed out that here in TN, most people our age have longer hair and that it's generally the 'seniors' who mostly sport hair as short as ours.  About the same time we had this discussion, there was an online article highlighting the fact that majority of men prefer long hair and that long hair, being equated with fertility, is what is deemed attractive.  Normally, I couldn't care less.  But I think something happened when I realized I was nearing 38 and that it's been almost eight years since I last noticed anyone stare at me or give me a double take.  I'd like to think that the timeline just happens to be consistent with me not caring anymore (given that I already had a significant other) but a part of me wonders and suspects it's not just that.  Sure there was at least one time recently when someone was introduced to me and though the handshake lasted longer than normal and I noticed he was staring quite intently to the point of causing me a bit of unease, I think it was not so much as attraction as him trying to figure out what I was....Is she Asian, Latina or what??  At least that's what I think.

So my point is, admittedly there is a part of me that desires to be desired.  And if it would mean having to experiment with longer hair, then I confess that I'm certainly tempted.  Part of me is curious and wants to find out if it would make a difference, while another part of me doesn't want to care and just wants to go on with my old short-haired self.  One thing has definitely become clear to me and that is the reality that I am getting old and now find myself confronting issues I never thought mattered when I was so much younger...skin, facial lines, and just generally aging gracefully.    

And since I'm still ambivalent, I have decided to go for a middle ground.  I would still go for a haircut (though unsure about which location) but go for something not too short that would hopefully transition nicely to a longer style should I decide to eventually grow it.   Below are two styles I found online.  Don't they look VERY similar to you?  How do you think are they different?  Votes are welcome by the way, so thanks in advance!

(This is me, taken around 3 weeks ago)....


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Emily's Gifts

Today I'm remembering Emily.  I don't know exactly when her heart stopped beating and when she decided to leave this world but it was on this same date last year when I went for closure.  If you have been following this blog for a while, you may remember that late last year, I was pregnant for a few weeks but had a miscarriage and ultimately had to go through a D&C.  

Did I expect too much of my self when I thought I would be completely 'over it' by now? I'm realizing that it may never happen.  Friends who have gone through the same experience have said before that the pain only gets dulled but never completely leaves you.  The worst part is that it often surprises me.  Last week, as I watched a recorded Oprah's Lifeclass episode dealing with letting go of the past, and thinking that I have succeeded in freeing myself from the stinging shards of my shattered dreams, I began to cry.  As I sat alone watching this mother who was weeping for her dead newborn, asking how she can go beyond the paralyzing pain, I felt my own pain resurface.  As I listened to Gary Zukav, one of my favorite spiritual teachers, speak about viewing reality from the perspective of the soul instead of just the personality, and therefore seeing that Emily IS a soul that lingers and that it was only her personality that CHOSE to depart when it chose to, I felt my own tears warm my cheeks.  

My Christmas Angel ornament from 2010
in remembrance of Emily
I was reminded to focus on the gifts she had (and has) to offer in choosing to come into my life no matter how briefly and leave when she had to.  I am reminded of the wisdom behind that event, that choice.  And though the wisdom is so easily clouded by pain and stubbornness, I feel more desire now to acknowledge it and seek more of it.  
In less than a month after we lost Emily, without my husband even actively searching for a different job, he got hired by another company.  As soon as he started with the new company early this year, he has had to fly so often on most weeks that I was like a single parent to Noah most months.  I am sure that it would have been extremely difficult for me to manage by myself had I been pregnant because given my history, it would have been a sensitive pregnancy.

Even before we reached the middle of this year, the interstate move became somewhat of a necessity due to the new job.  Had I been pregnant, and with a husband who has gotten busy beyond words, would it have been possible for me to pack all our things and be organized with our move?  I don't think so.  

Somehow, the pain of losing something so precious highlighted for me the fleeting nature of things around us.  It made me realize even more that each MOMENT counts when it comes to those you love.  It constantly reminds me to see what is real, what truly counts, instead of wasting energy on meaningless 'stuff'.

Having Emily in my life has also shown me a different kind of Love.  I know it and feel it but somehow am still unable to fully articulate it at this time.  For now I call it 'Love' for its encompassing presence.  I feel something transformed in me after the anger and God-blaming passed.  It is still happening and though I cannot completely describe it now for you to fully understand it, trust that it is real.  Hopefully someday soon, I will be able to fully express this evolution that I know is happening to my spirit.  What I'm certain of now is that Emily's spirit is urging mine to be more enriched.

I suppose this is what healing truly means.  It's not about forgetting.  It's not about never feeling the pain and not breaking down at times.  It's about being clear that positivity is a constant choice you have to make and doing your best to summon the strength within to enable you to make that choice.  To be on the path of healing is to have the courage to confront all your pain, and instead of choosing to be defeated by it, you choose to accept it as something that makes you deeper and more able to connect with life more fully. Most of all, it is to allow the voice of gratitude to speak louder rather than be drowned out by your cries of wanting.

Perhaps she left when she did, weeks just before Christmas, so that I may experience the real meaning of this season.  To be able to feel the resilience of my own soul and have access to wisdom only deep pain can uncover, are priceless gifts I will treasure forever.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Fortune Friday 12.2.11: When It's Wise To Walk Away

My body is completely, and I mean COMPLETELY, sore today.  My joints and muscles ache to the point where taking deep breaths hurt, let alone climbing the stairs.  Thanks to the kickboxing class I attended yesterday with my BFF, I am experiencing physical pain that makes me wish I had access to an epidural drip right now.  

It was a one-hour class and though the moves were not that new to me anymore given that I have done Tae Bo before, admittedly I have never done it nor any other cardio exercise for that matter for one straight hour in my entire life!  Even when I run on the treadmill during my 30-minute sessions, I NEVER run the whole 30 minutes, so yes, it was a shock for me and every single muscle in my body.  To punch and then kick side to side, then front and back, topped off with multiple jumping jacks is not my idea of how to best spend my last moments on earth. Because really, that's what I thought was happening.  I swear at some point I thought I was going to pass out and die.  Just 30 minutes into the session, I began to have visions of me being wheeled out of the room by paramedics. To be honest, the only thing that kept me from walking out of there was pure pride.  I knew how embarrassing it would've felt to give up just like that even though I felt like I was dying.

Before you congratulate me though, let me stop you right there and admit that right after the class, I told my BFF that I'm not sure if I would try it again and highlighted to her my long-time realization that I am, after all, a quitter. My natural tendency has always been to quit when I feel that I can't do so well, when I can't excel at something. It's probably the perfectionist side of me and no, I'm not proud of it.  That, and I'm not so certain I won't pass out next time should I decide to attend the class again.  

So why am I telling you all this now when my fortune cookie wants me to be honest about my philosophy on love?

It's because I realized that love is the one thing I seem to be incapable of quitting from.  Despite all pain and even embarrassment, I tend to go on and on...and on...for as long as I feel there is more to give.  I remember when my sister gave her speech during our wedding reception, she said that when I love, there is never such a thing as 'half-way'.    But just as some of you were probably thinking that overdoing exercise is never a wise or safe thing to do, I know that it's the same with love...that you need to know when it's wise to quit.  Recently, a popular young actress in the Philippines broke up with her boyfriend, also a popular actor.  And though her explanation of their break-up was extremely cryptic (although most people have already assumed that it's because said actor is gay), she left viewers with one clear advice.  She said (in Filipino), "Always leave something for yourself".  Learning this lesson, I believe, makes her heartbreak all worth it.

My philosophy on love is this...That to love is to give all that you have to give (not necessarily all that you are), for as long as it is healthy for both people.  Boundaries are important so you know what you can and cannot give.  Give love only to someone who can accept love and appreciates its power.  Finally, respect what you feel, what you sense.  You always know when it's no longer safe for you to proceed.  Pay attention and have the humility and wisdom to know that sometimes, quitting is not necessarily failure. It could mean moving on to somewhere you can love and be loved better.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

My Thanksgiving Postmortem

It has been a CRAZY week!  But I mean that in a good way...well, semi-good way because exhaustion is exhaustion even if it was all worth it.  

We had my husband's parents for a week and two of his siblings with their families also arrived for the Thanksgiving weekend.  All in all, there were a total of 13 guests and suffice it to say that we became like a Bed and Breakfast, although some days we offered more meals.  It was so many days of abundant food and fun times especially for the children.  My Noah was so thrilled to be with his cousins again and if only for that, I'd say it was really worth all the effort!

I'm still a newbie when it comes to Thanksgiving because there is no such holiday in the Philippines.  I still remember my shock when so many years ago, my husband told me that to some, Thanksgiving is an even bigger holiday here in the U.S. than Christmas; that it's when people are expected to fly out just to be able to 'go home' and spend time with family and close friends.  Come to think of it, the Thanksgiving holiday weekend is really longer than Christmas celebration.  A lot of companies do give time off for their employees on the day after Thanksgiving although they don't do the same for either Christmas Eve or December 26th.  Is it to support the economy on Black Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year?  Perhaps.  

It will probably take many more years for me to fully 'get' Thanksgiving, to get into the whole shop-like-crazy spirit. Heck, I don't even 'get' turkey and sorry to say this, but I have not tasted turkey that knocked my socks off.  (Well, maybe once, almost, when my Uncle in CA served deep fried turkey and I loved the crispy skin).  The bottom line is that I'm just not a fan of this bird, hence its absence on our Thanksgiving spread.  

The one thing I do understand about this holiday and perhaps the only real thing that truly counts, is that this is a day of remembrance for all things we are grateful for...for family and friends who accept and support you; for having enough despite a highly unstable economy; for still being able to share what you have to those who have less; and most of all for love...for being surrounded with people who love you as best they could that they make you believe that you must have done something good in this life to deserve such true love and devotion.

My spirit is grateful and that is all.  

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Preparing for First Grade

It is every parent's desire to adequately equip their children for future academic challenges and this is why I do my best to teach Noah what I can when we spend time at home.  My son's just in preschool and though I am clear about not having unrealistic expectations of him, as well as not giving him unnecessary pressure, I also believe that it won't hurt to experiment and try to push his limits every now and then.  Sometimes you'd be surprised at what a preschooler is ready for.  

This is why I've always appreciated learning tools that can help me make the learning experience more interesting and appropriate for my son without sacrificing my objectives.  Such is what is offered by SmartFirstGraders.com and here to tell us more about it is Michael Baum.  I hope you can check out the site and have fun exploring it with your kids!

Fun Learning for First Graders

When I was young, I used to love reading a feature in Reader’s Digest magazine called The Most Unforgettable Character I’ve Ever Met. Some of these “characters” were famous, others were not, but I always enjoyed learning about them. 

Over the years, I’ve met a few unforgettable characters of my own—ordinary people who impressed me with their meaningful contributions. One of these people is Kelli Pearson—or Miss Kelli, as I knew her when I began volunteering over nine years ago as a homework tutor in an exciting after school program at a community learning center in my hometown.

At the time, Kelli was the director of the K-5 program at the center. I watched as she taught and engaged kids, introducing them to the fun of learning. She also had a knack for handling difficult situations, making the environment a welcoming and safe place for children. I was impressed not just by her ability to teach kids, but to reach kids.

Now that reach extends farther than ever before. Earlier this year, Kelli launched www.SmartFirstGraders.com, a web site devoted to making learning fun for kids. While plenty of teachers find exciting ideas here, Kelli’s main goal is to give parents ideas for helping their kids learn. 

Since kids have a way of resisting being taught by mom or dad, the web site’s learning activities feel more like play than work. Who would have thought that playing card games, making bubbles, going on scavenger hunts and baking cookies could be used to teach math and science? But it works, and kids love it. I know because I have used some of Ms. Kelli’s ideas with my young grandson.

Success in first grade sets the stage for young kids to develop into good students, and what better way to do this than by making learning fun. With the help Kelli offers on www.smartfirstgraders.com, parents can help their first graders reach this goal. 

From articles on fine motor skills to tips on how to deal with bullies and mean kids at school, from cool science experiments to lists of classic books for first graders, www.smartfirstgraders.com is a valuable resource for parents and teachers on math, science, reading, child development, and more.

I am happy to call Kelli both colleague and friend. She taught me how to reach kids on their level, and this has made me a better tutor. If you have a first grader and want to give your child a learning boost while you and your child have a great time together, check out this site. (You can say you heard about it from Mike B!)

Image: Grant Cochrane / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Mural, Girl, Balloon, Heart, Graffiti, Innocent, Love

What if I slipped away from your memory?
What if one day you awake and no longer knew me, 
have any recollection of me?

What if the words that breathed between us all evanesced?...

As if they never were
As if we never tasted the depth and passion
they have always summoned?

A world without even your shadow,
or the faintest hint 
Of your existence or recognition
Is an indescribable void

A cry of sorrow too deep
to ever be silenced,
Too bitter to even imagine.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Sunny Sunday!

This past week, I had another wonderful surprise, thanks to Wanda of Beauty and the Green!  Her creativity and amazing ideas shared on her blog are truly inspiring so I hope you can find the time to check out her site too!  It’s because of those same qualities that I can understand how she received the Sunshine Blog Award and I am truly honored that she thought of sharing the same award with me!  To be thought of as inspiring and be likened to sunshine on the blogosphere are compliments I take seriously.  I guess being named ‘Joy’ creates some pressure eh? 

So, here are the rules for accepting this award:
1. Thank the person who gave this award and write a post about it.

2. Answer the following questions below.

3. And pass the award to 10~12 fabulous bloggers, link their blogs and let them know you awarded them. 

Here are the questions and my answers ---

Favorite color?  It hasn’t always been this way but at least for the past 5 or 6 years, it’s been sage green.
Favorite animal?  I hope I don’t get crucified for saying this but I’m not really an animal lover.  But if I absolutely had to answer this question, I would have to go with the owl.  I have always been fascinated by them and it doesn’t help that they are elusive creatures.  Dang!  
Favorite number? 10
Favorite drink?  Any kind of drink?...Well, I’d say hot chocolate.  It’s a hug in a mug!
Facebook or Twitter?  Facebook!
Your passion?  Food.  Writing.  Organizing and decorating the home.  I’m sure there are some more undiscovered ones and I will probably spend the rest of my life figuring them out.
Giving or getting presents?  Oooohhh, this is a tough one.  Who doesn’t love getting presents?!  But I must admit giving something and seeing how much it’s appreciated is a feeling like no other!
Favorite day?  At this time that I’m not working outside the home, I would have to choose Tuesday.  It’s when the crazy weekend social events are over and most of the household chores are either done or scheduled for a different day and I’m left to concentrate on my writing or to find inspiration for future material.   
Favorite flowers?  Gerber daisies.  They look friendly, happy and I love how intense their colors are. 

And now to share the love and spread the sunshine!  I’m choosing to pass the award to the following blogs because they inspire me with their positive messages, their creativity, honesty and/or humor!  In other words, they definitely put a dash of added sunshine to my online world!  I wish I could nominate a lot more but for now, I’ll stick to the rules and present you with this list.  Congratulations to all you inspiring thinkers & bloggers!

TV of TV's Take

Rachel of Lala musings

Marie of Scrollwork

Samantha of What Little Things

Muriel of 40blogSpot

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Where there's smoke.....You VENT!

All I wanted was my usual breakfast of toast and fried egg.  But then I had to step away from the stove as I had my pan preheating while I went to the fridge to grab my egg and then got distracted with other things.  I didn’t realize I hadn’t turned on the vent fan and the pan had gotten too hot that it began to smoke....A LOT!  

Beep!!...Beep!!....BEEP!!!!  By the time I thought of turning on the vent fan above the stove, it was too late and the smoke alarm had been activated.  To anyone who has had the 'pleasure' of hearing those things, you would have to agree that they are quite effective at inducing panic.  The sound is extremely high-pitched and if you are aware that it's a false alarm, that there's really no fire in your house, it's bound to increase your sense of panic because more than anything else, you want the sound to stop before you bother any of your neighbors and further embarrass yourself!  This is exactly what happened to me and believe me when I say I was running inside the house like a mad woman, opening doors and windows to try to get rid of as much smoke as I possibly can.  It did not help that this smoke detector we have now is a fancy one.  It did not only have that annoying high-pitched beep, it also had a female voice repeatedly saying 'FIRE'.  

"Yes, yes, I know but would you please shut up now 'cos there really is no fire!!", is what was going through my head.  The strange thing is, after hearing this warning voice for 2 minutes, I began to seriously get concerned. Though I know it was just the smoke from my pan that triggered the alarm and that there really was no fire in the house, hearing that scary, alarming voice made me go through every single room to check if indeed there is no fire. I began doubting myself and got unspeakably paranoid as I hurriedly went around to make sure nothing else was in flames!

As I had suspected, everything was fine and after a few more minutes of enduring the noise and the panic, the alarm stopped and both Noah and I were finally able to breathe and calm ourselves down.  At this point, the realization hit me.  My reaction was a classic one, something all too familiar to me.  It's when I know one thing and feel so certain of it.  And then the 'noises' come.  I begin to be overpowered, overwhelmed by others' voices, opinions, interpretations, expectations and stereotypes.  I begin to doubt myself, second-guess what I thought I knew and was so certain of, all because everyone else around me is drowning out my own truth with their own fears and well-meaning advice (though sometimes unsolicited).  Though I'm the one directly involved in the situation, the one with the full picture and understanding of whatever it is that's going on and the one with the firsthand information, there are times when others just have to put their 2 cents in until it all snowballs and turns into 2 thousand, and ends up diluting the whole picture, hence confusing me and pushing me to the edge of insanity.  

In such situations, I need to remind myself of what I know to be true deep in my gut, in my soul.  It is wise to heed warnings and wise words from others, but only when you know there is real data to back it all up.  When overwhelmed and confused, panic is the worst thing you could give into.  Believe me when I say that when you act from a place of fear, it will be a decision you will end up regretting.  You need to find your center, your calm; silence the unnecessary noise and believe that soon enough, the smoke (or dust) will subside and you'd be able to see clearly once more.        

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Pep Song

It's my birthday today and I'm 38 if you must know!  But I'm not here to write about the birthday angstsy stuff...at least not yet....**bwahahahah** .  For now let's talk about the Pacquiao-Marquez boxing fight last Saturday evening.  

No, I'm not going to analyze the fight as I am not really a boxing (or sports) fan and don't want to bore you either.  I do acknowledge however that it was a close fight and though the decision is controversial (to some), let me just remind you that I am Filipino and therefore am with the Pacquiao camp.  So as far as I'm concerned, the fight is done and the judges have spoken and I am pleased with the decision.

What I'm here to write about is my fascination with the fact that before the fighters stepped out and walked towards the ring, they each had a pep song.  Pacquiao's song was Eye of the Tiger, which I thought lacked creativity given that it was the theme song in the movie Rocky III.  But I guess whatever works, right?  

This got me thinking though about what I would choose as my own pep song.  I guess in Ally McBeal's world, this would be her theme song for which she chose "Tell Him".  What would be mine?  What would make me bob my head and strut my stuff?  Which song would I choose if I wanted to feel inspired and totally ready for the world?  What song would make me feel feisty, strong and even invincible, even if only for 3 minutes?  

After giving this much thought, as well as much browsing through countless YouTube videos to refresh my memory, I've finally decided that it's really just my old go-to song...the ever reliable "The Remedy" by Jason Mraz.  This is simply a song that makes me feel ready for 'the fight', the struggles of the day...

When I went with my son to go trick or treating this past Halloween,  there was a man who was walking around the subdivision, pulling a red wagon with him that carried a boombox playing Michael Jackson's "Thriller".  We all thought it was brilliant and so thoughtful of him to try to put everyone in such a festive Halloween mood like that!  Now if only we can all walk around with our red wagons like that, playing our own pep songs!  Wouldn't that be so cool (though noisy, I would imagine!) and fun!

What would be your own pep song?  Which song puts you in a positive and "watch-out-world-I'm-so-ready-for-you" mood?


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Inspirational Quotes Part I

In the past month, I've noticed a surge in the amount of inspirational quotes being posted on people's Facebook walls.  Why exactly?  I don't know, but it has certainly challenged me to come up with my own.  So here I present to you, my Cathartic Inspirational Quotes Part 1!  The first one is something I've posted before as my own FB status but I'm publishing it here again just because it's my favorite.  

Enjoy and please feel free to share  

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Thursday, November 3, 2011

What Comes Next

I just got back from a week-long Chicago trip to attend a family wedding.  Our niece Francesca got married to wonderful Mr. Josh and the entire week was just beyond joyful!  The wedding itself was beautiful, as it was held at an old Chicago Catholic church which was just simply breathtaking.  The reception was held later that evening and everyone had a great time.

There is one question that, I think, echoes after wedding ceremonies (or any rite of passage, for that matter)….Now what?

Now what?  After a period of falling in love, dating, being friends, getting to know each other more intimately, preparing for the wedding, all the stress and craziness and fun and celebration, what now?  It’s natural for couples to get all wrapped up in the wedding preparations, but after all the dancing and music stop (literally, that is), honeymoon week over and it’s time to go back to ‘reality’, then what?  There are three ways to go when confronted by this question.  You can (a) change directions; (b) keep on the same path; or (c) a combination of the above depending on what you want to keep and change.

Confronting the ‘now what’ could be a scary thing.  It suggests a certain degree of being at a loss somehow.  If anything, it suggests the need to pause and take stock of the situation, and these, I believe, are important in a marriage.  To pause and truly see where the two of you have been, are, and where you want to be are important questions that you constantly need to deal with.  It’s not a single step to be done with but an ongoing process both of you need to engage in.  And this is also why confronting your ‘now what’ could be a potentially exciting and empowering thing.  It’s up to you now.  This rite of passage affords you even greater independence.  Being (more) on your own can cause anxiety, yes.  But the increased sense of responsibility could just be as exhilarating and positively challenging.

How has your relationship been so far?  Is this how you want to keep it or are there things you desire to change?  What rules do you feel you need to be clear about?  What are your non-negotiables?  Are there things you have not been honest about up to this point with regard to your preferences, habits or character?  How will you handle your finances?  How will you divide your time between your families of orientation?  Are you planning on children, how many and how soon?  Are there family traditions you want to start now, even as a couple?  What are your rules with regard to in-laws? 

The list goes on and every list will be unique to each couple but my point is this.  It doesn’t hurt to start as early as possible.  The most valuable lesson that was shared to me by a very good friend of mine when I was about to marry is this:  Start as you mean to go on.  And as cliché as this sounds, no one will dispute that if you truly love and mutually respect each other, your ‘Now what?’ will never conjure dark skies.  If you are certain about love and your commitment, then you will find it quite seamless to transition from your ‘Now what’ to ‘Now comes forever’.    

Image: graur razvan ionut / FreeDigitalPhotos.net