Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Present Future

To live in the moment, or worry about tomorrow?  Live like there’s no tomorrow, or spend today planning for contingencies?  Make the most out of the present, or hold back because there is a future?

I never realized it, but it finally hit me that these are the questions that I’ve consistently struggled with for years and years.  Now don’t get me wrong.   I do understand that there are no hard and fast rules here; that most of you would say that it all depends on the situation.  But I suspect that people can be grouped according to those two tendencies:  those who, for the most part, truly live in the present and take each day as they come, versus those who perpetually think of the future, living their lives in anticipation of what may happen, whether good or bad.  

Should I get married now or wait until I’m completely ready and all the pieces are in place? 

Do I spend money decorating my house as I see fit, or do I hold off because I’m not sure that money will be enough for future emergencies? 

Should I enjoy this romantic relationship for which I am completely passionate about even though I am uncertain of its future, or quit while I’m still ahead, while my heart is still intact?

Is this the time to quit the job that’s been making me unhappy, or wait some more until the perfect opportunity presents itself? 

Should I really go on that vacation that I have always dreamed of and can finally afford now, or wait some more until I truly have enough savings for rainy days? 

At some point, you may have found yourself struggling with such questions and I imagine that the resolution was not always quick and painless.

In 1995, one of my best friends introduced me to Alan Lightman’s magical novel “Einstein’s Dreams” and it has remained one of my absolute favorites.  As I’m plagued with these existential questions, I am reminded of this masterpiece.  Here is an excerpt to further illustrate my angst:

"...In fact, this is a world without future.  In this world, time is a line that terminates at the present, both in reality and in the mind.  In this world, no person can imagine the future.  Imagining the future is no more possible than seeing colors beyond violet:  the senses cannot conceive what may lie past the visible end of the spectrum.  In a world without future, each parting of friends is a death.  In a world without future, each loneliness is final.  In a world without future, each laugh is the last laugh.  In a world without future, beyond the present lies nothingness, and people cling to the present as if hanging from a cliff.

A person who cannot imagine the future is a person who cannot contemplate the results of his actions.  Some are thus paralyzed into inaction…..Others leap out of bed in the morning, unconcerned that each action leads into nothingness, unconcerned that they cannot plan out their lives.  They live moment to moment, and each moment is full." (Einstein’s Dreams, pp. 130-131)

As I read those words, I am overcome with such pangs of desire to be like one who does not really care how the future unfolds, or if there is even one to consider.  Part of me always wants to throw all caution to the wind and just live no matter how irresponsibly, carelessly.  Unfortunately, (or fortunately?), I have always been a ‘planner’.  The irony in all this is that though ‘planners’ would like to believe they are able to control the future, it is actually them (us) who are held prisoners and are controlled.

Do you know which group you belong to?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Running Shoes Chronicle: Balancing Act

It’s amazing how insightful I get when I’m on the treadmill.  I suppose it’s true that running (exercise) clears the mind (as I’ve demonstrated before when I wrote my Running Thoughts). 

Like most of you, my routine looks something like this:  I start out with my first two minutes walking, and then after that, I try to run for a continuous 3 to 5 minutes (when I can), and then slow down again for a walk.  I alternate this way until I am either too exhausted or until I have reached my 30-minute limit.  Anyway, all this time on the treadmill is only possible for me because of music.  I have my Ipod to provide me with whatever song sounds feisty enough to keep pushing me and drive boredom as far away as possible.  For the longest time, my favorite track was Adele’s Rolling in the Deep.  Recently, it’s been Dido’s Here With Me.  I also like alternating Dido with The Script and /or Coldplay.  And then towards the last 5 minutes of my workout, what I do is play something slow and soothing.  Recently, it’s been all about Ben Howard’sThe Promise.  

And now here’s the thing….

While I listen to Ben Howard, I normally end up closing my eyes, as I watch my breathing, and pay closer attention to my thoughts.  I suppose you can think of it as some form of ‘active’ meditation.  The problem is, I find it impossible to walk on the treadmill with eyes closed without losing my balance.  Without my capacity to see and accurately gauge my position relative to my surroundings, I am left with no other choice but to hold on lightly to the side bars / handles to keep me safely planted towards the middle of the moving belt. 

Life is quite the same way, isn’t it?  When I find myself utterly spent, or when I feel enveloped by darkness, I need to be able to hold on to something or someone.  These are people mere thoughts of whom give me some sort of guidance and strength.  To me, they are like anchors, able to plant me firmly on where I need to be.  Most especially, I see them as beacons, lighting my dark world, giving me hope that I will find my way back eventually.

I have only a handful of such souls in my life but that is enough to make me TRULY happy.  Their presence in my life, the thought of them, memories of them, their words and love are riches that truly define me.  These are souls whose wisdom I cannot be without and the mere thought of losing them creates what seems to be an irreparable hole through my soul, a bottomless void.  To know someone like that is both a blessing and a curse.  For such creatures are rare and truly irreplaceable, are they not?  I suppose this is why soul mates are special.  Not everyone is lucky enough to find them.

By any chance, has anyone like that come your way?  How do you convince yourself that you can remain centered and not falter if you ever lost a precious anchor like that?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

An Open Letter to the Suicidal Stroller Moms
WarningJoy’s hormonal and evil alter-ego has temporarily taken over and decided to publish a post.  If you are afraid and easy to shock, then leave now and read a different post.  If you are willing to venture into pissosity, then by all means, proceed and enjoy. 


Dear Stroller Moms,

Since we first moved to this subdivision, I have consistently seen your group during the mornings I either look out my window or actually step out of my house.  I’m not friends with any of you, nor do I have any intention of becoming so.  First of all, I won’t qualify given that my son no longer needs a stroller; and second, I have come to the realization that I’m better off pursuing fitness activities by my lonesome.    But that’s actually the problem.  I don’t think you’re walking around the subdivision with your strollers, sporting your sporty outfits, for fitness’ sake.  And how do I know this?  It’s because every time I see you, you are walking quite leisurely and all three of you are walking side by side….like you own the freakin’ road!!   

For some reason that still eludes me, the side walk seems to be invisible to the three of you, which makes it even more obvious that you are mainly doing your morning ‘exercise’ for social reasons.  Why not just organize some play date at one of your houses, or maybe a picnic at the park, instead of parading around the subdivision, using the main street as your route, between 8 and 8:30 in the morning just when people are rushing to go to work or school.  It drives me absolutely insane to see you walking leisurely while I'm here running late and rushing, and then there's the three of you, seemingly oblivious to the rushing cars around you doing their best to not run you over as you occupy half of the narrow street!!!

Did I miss a memo somewhere stating that you have more right than I do as you use the streets for your morning chit-chat?  Is it really that hard to walk in single file?  And is it so difficult for you to wrap your minds around the fact that you are being idiots for walking in the middle of a street that gets a lot of the morning rush hour traffic with your babies ?!!?  This all tells me that you just don’t care.  Either that or, like I’ve said, you are IDIOTS. .. lucky idiots though, because you have not been run over by anyone given your carelessness and annoying arrogance as you strut as if you own the streets.

Yes I hate you (obviously)!  I hate that I have to swerve and step on my breaks just to avoid you as you block my way when I drive my son to school.  I hate that even though you see rushing cars around you, you behave as if you just don’t care and simply expect the world to accommodate you just because you have strollers.  Oftentimes I ask myself why I need to give you any special consideration when you obviously don’t give the rest of us, at the very least, common courtesy.  

I don’t wish you any harm for your children’s sake.  But for the love of God...move out of my way, B**ches!!   

*photo credit:

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day Insanity

I have decided to live up to the cliché and general expectation so here it is….my posting for this year’s Mother’s Day!

It is my sixth year as a mother and I would have to say that this holiday is becoming more and more interesting by the year, as Noah ages and learns how to express himself better.  But before I get to that, let me just give you some updates on how we spent the day. 

This year is even more special because I have my Mom here with us.  Not doing anything special to mark this day would have been tragic given that most years, I don’t get to spend this holiday with her.  

So, off we went to Mother’s Day Brunch at a Marriott Hotel nearby. Food was great, company was awesome (had my bff’s family with us) and by the end of the 2 hours of stuffing ourselves, my belt was once again begging to be unbuckled.  (See you again tomorrow, beloved treadmill!)

I only had my Ipod with me and I was too embarrassed to take photos of everything  so this is all I have...
I did share all this with my Mom...well, except for the chocolate cupcake...

So what did I receive from my baby this year?  With the help of his preschool teachers, each of the students in his class made cards for their Moms with a picture of mother and child.  


And the piéce de résistance was a vase that he painted himself and then clear glazed.  I LOVE IT!!  And it’s so adorable how my son is just so proud of it and told me that he picked the colors himself and that he really wanted the vase to be bright and cheery!  I was curious about how he chose the color for the lip of the vase.  He said his teacher asked him how he wanted to paint it and that he chose green because it's his favorite color.  It's mine too so...well done, son!  It's simply perfect!

Now, let's go back to the card.  The teacher wrote the text for them but the idea was for them to complete each sentence about their mothers.  I was struck by the consistency in my son's answers.  At the same time, it troubles me.  Here's what I mean:

My Mom is special because..."she cooks for me."
My Mom can do many things!  I think she's best at..."cooking spinach pastry."
My Mom is smart!  She even knows..."how to cook hard (difficult) things!"

Remember my blog post on a SAHM's secret identity?  Well, it appears I was spot on especially where it concerns my son's perception.  Apparently he thinks I'm all about cooking and serving him his meals.  Though I am touched by his appreciation of what I do for him, his statements have also made me wonder if in his eyes, that's all I am capable of doing.  I was expecting at least something like, "My Mom is smart, she knows how to type a lot of words on the computer for her blog site", or something to that effect.  At least that could have added more dimension to my being a homemaker.

And this brings me to an even deeper question.  How do I really want my son to see and define me?  More than just saying I'm a good mother, loving and caring and all those almost given qualities, which of my capabilities do I want my son to acknowledge?  And more importantly, WHY?  Why would that be so important?  Am I once again going back to my insecurities about the value I add to our lives by choosing to be a homemaker?  Is my desire to further prove my self resurfacing once again?  

I have a million questions in my head, endlessly multiplying.  Who would have thought Mother's Day could cause such psychosis!?!  Is there anyone out there willing to offer free therapy???

Monday, May 7, 2012

Bound Sorrow

Grief suspended
like clouds afloat in waiting
against an unknowing sky
A seamless transition into mourning
with such subtle heaviness
and muted echoes of a pained cry

Rays of sun may peek
there and in between
if only to deceive
But darkening shades of gray
fueled by a sense of loss
undoubtedly know no reprieve

Soon the fort will hold no longer
and these dark skies
will pour out with all their might
For sorrow this deep can't be buried
thrusting one's heart
into forever night.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Catholicism and My Catholic Self: Who's Rejecting Whom?


This is one term I never imagined would describe me but apparently it does.  Well at least that’s how my religion defines me. 

I’m a baptized Catholic, raised and socialized as one, and currently (semi) practicing as well.  But recent events have forced me to reassess that self-definition and are truly forcing me to question how much of a Catholic I still am.

If you live in the U.S., you have probably heard on the news that an Indiana woman was fired from the Catholic school she was teaching at, all because they found out that she underwent IVF.  This news bothers me on so many levels, but one that I find even more striking is that the pastor who fired the teacher told her that she should just have kept mum about her IVF treatment so as to avoid a scandal.  So, is she really being fired because of her choice to do IVF to which the Catholic Church is strongly opposed, or is it because of her admission and putting it out in the open?  If she had kept it secret, would it have been more acceptable?  Isn’t that quite like saying that a ‘sin’ does not exist if others don’t know about it?  On another level, is IVF really so taboo that one should not be allowed to discuss it in the open?  Is it really a ‘sin’?

Well it is, according to Catholicism.  In the mid-‘80s, I remember being taught in elementary school that IVF is unacceptable, immoral, and therefore one sure path to mortal sin.  During that time, there was one popular Filipino actress who admitted that she had tried that route in order to conceive.  She was discussed in class as an example of someone ‘immoral’, sentenced to eternal damnation for committing mortal sin.  Little did I know then that I’m one with blocked tubes, reproductively challenged, and would have a difficult time conceiving naturally, if at all possible.  I now apologize for all the judgment I felt towards that actress.  I did not know any better.

The Catholic Church, in its document Donum Vitae of 1987 which outlines the church’s stance on respecting the origin of human life and preservation of the dignity of procreation, prescribes that conception/procreation be tied to marriage; that fertilization is only acceptable if it is the result of an act of conjugal union and love.  Furthermore, the document states that any type of conception that is not the result of a conjugal act deprives the resulting human life of its proper perfection’.  One other noteworthy point from the Donum Vitae is that it clearly states that marriage does not give couples the right to a child, because giving spouses that right robs the child of its rights and objectifies that child, as if it were some form of ownership.  Such is said to contradict the belief that children need to be viewed as the ‘supreme gift, a living testimony of the mutual giving of his parents’.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I agree that human life is sacred and should be respected and preserved.  It is in this light that I remain conflicted with the common IVF practice of discarding embryos.  In a way, I feel lucky that I did not ovulate as much as other women do; that to begin with, I never produced a lot of eggs for the fertilization process, and that for the ones that were fertilized, only three were completely viable enough to be transferred back to my womb.  That is true for both IVF attempts I’ve gone through.  In other words, there were no extra embryos for us to freeze and later dispose of.  However, I did have those extra embryos that were not viable and therefore did not survive on their own in a Petri dish and eventually had to be naturally discarded.  For that, I will always bear the burden of guilt and suffer whatever consequences there may be.

However, I reject the idea that the manner in which my son’s life began is labeled unacceptable by any religion, or person because they think it is not borne out of love.  That would be terribly unfair and uninformed.  Choosing IVF was a joint decision, and my husband and I knew how difficult the journey would be, both physically AND emotionally, and decided to support each other through it all.  Once you start on this process, you know there are no guarantees, and though you know what sacrifices it would entail, you just keep reminding yourself of the possibility of a priceless gain and truly just hope for the best.  If you don’t think this all requires love and commitment, then I don’t know what else to tell you.

I also find it abhorrent that my religion believes that I denied my son his ‘proper perfection’ just because he is a product of IVF.  How dare they say that he, or any life born, is less than perfect?  Who are you to say that?  Did God not have any hand in my child's coming to life?  Yes, science helped me get pregnant, but science does not guarantee the survival of all embryos transferred to the womb.  Even my fertility doctor then said, "That's as far as I can go.  The rest is still up to God."

I have countless sins and you can call me immoral based on other things I’ve done in my life if you so wish, but I refuse to be judged this way based solely on how I had my son whom I love with all that I have, and more.  It simply would not, and does not, make sense to me.  And if the Catholic Church still wants to call me immoral, then so be it.  Their label does not have to be mine.  If that is the case, then I'm brought back to the question I asked in the beginning of this post:  How much of a Catholic am I still?  More importantly, how much does that still matter to me? I am struggling with these questions and I suspect I will continue to do so for a very long time.

All I know is that I refuse to believe that the God I want to believe in is narrow-minded and discriminatory.  I can debate this issue for days but it won’t change the fact that religion is just that…an expression of belief systems, a man-made institution.  I will never take it as something infallible or perfect.  When I was younger, I used to say that if you don’t want to feel my wrath, you should never insult four things about me:  my family, my alma mater, my nation, my religion.  I guess I grew up and realized that always speaking in absolutes is not a very intelligent thing to do.  Identity claims do change.  And right now, one of mine is, (or has been), in limbo.