Thursday, August 30, 2012

Yes, I Fake It!

I had a haircut yesterday in pursuit of the perfect pixie cut (and by perfect I mean   Michelle Williams’ cut....Is there really any other kind?).  So off I went to a a new salon and tried a new stylist.  I like my cut.  I still don’t look like Michelle Williams but then if I did, given that I’m Filipino, that would just be creepy don’t you think?  Anyhow, I did not come here to talk about my hair, and sorry to disappoint some of you but I also won’t be posting a picture of how my cut turned out.  Suffice it to say that I am booking my next appointment with the same stylist in a couple of months. 

Now here’s the thing.  It’s common knowledge that going to your stylist is pretty much like having a chat with your therapist, right?  Or is it just me and my penchant for over sharing?  Crap.  But really I don’t think it was so much as over sharing as just making decent effort to connect.  How about that!

Anyway, during my ‘therapy’ with my new favorite stylist JB, I casually mentioned that I consider myself to be quite reserved and more of an introvert.  This was after I had barraged her with questions and have spoken about my experience with IVF, having a miscarriage at some point, and that I had a whirlwind marriage.  Naturally, her reaction to my 'I'm-actually-shy' pronouncement was, ‘REALLY??!!!’, coupled with a genuinely perplexed look as if to say, “You’re pulling my leg, aren’t you?”

Then it hit me.

Dang!  What a good faker I must be!  It was obvious that she thought of me as someone friendly and funny, and quite possibly psychotic (which I’m sure added to my entertainment value really).  But reserved?  Introverted?  Nooooooo......No way!  And looking back now, I think that she's probably not the first person I've surprised with my self-labelling.

What people have to realize is that on the other side of that introversion is also a person afraid of failure.  Now what does that have to do with it again??  Well, the point is that though I'm still an introvert to the core, I force myself to step up.  When the situation calls  for it, I force myself to make the effort and show up (or maybe even show off, but not in an annoying way, I assure you).  I just make the effort to make sure that I minimize people's discomfort level, and trust me when I say this is not me being utterly considerate and self-sacrificing.  Because really experience has shown me that people seem to be quite uncomfortable when they find themselves around painfully shy people.  And when I sense their discomfort (which I very easily pick up on), it ends up further heightening my sense of discomfort...and then I panic, I could stutter, which then makes me feel like an idiot, then get lost in self-judgment and endless criticism in my head, self-loathing and in the end find myself wishing I had a cocktail of anti-depressants in front of me.  

I know that some of you are probably thinking that I should maybe consider the possibility that I may not really be faking it; that maybe I'm not an introvert after all and that this self-definition no longer holds true.  I assure you I've thought about that too but still believe that nothing has changed.  I will still choose being left alone over being in social situations.  I am still extremely self-conscious, edit my thoughts a lot before speaking (or writing) and will never really be the 'life of the party'.  I am still more internally oriented and will always find social situations, especially ones that are unfamiliar, draining and inexplicably stressful.  And understand that the stress is made even more real because English is only my second language.  Though I speak it well and on multiple occasions have had Americans tell me that I hardly have an accent, the truth is that I still find myself translating words in my head before I utter them.  It all adds to making social interaction real effort for people like me.

I'm not telling you all this to disillusion you, to make you wonder about the authenticity of every single person you interact with. When I show up, it's still me.  My thoughts are my thoughts, same beliefs, same values, same heart.  But I think it would be nice if we all put more thought into our interactions, gave it more value, and recognize that we are with a human being, with real stories, tensions, angst, struggles; that what we see are not just plain mindless proprieties.  It would be nice if we could consider the possibility that really each interaction involves REAL effort and that they are well-choreographed dances and even well thought out gifts for some of us who still need to take deep breaths before facing the world.  It's not effortless for everyone so let's make the efforts count.

Is there something similar you are 'faking' as well?  What takes effort for you which people perceive as effortless?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Turns Out, It's a Big World After All.....

As promised, this will be the Disney World blog entry.  As I had mentioned, two weeks ago, our family (together with my brother in law's family) went to Orlando, Florida to have a last hurrah before the kids return to school.  It was my and Noah's first time at Disney.  (Before some of you get too shocked about that, let me remind you that I spent the first 30 1/2 years of my life in the Philippines).  Suffice it to say that it seemed like never-ending walking and sweating.  Frankly, I'm surprised I didn't lose any weight after that entire week.  Oh right!'s 'cos at the end of each day, I felt I deserved all the calories I can consume in one meal.  *sigh*

Before we dive into the photos, let me just share with you some of the thoughts I had while walking, lining up and basically getting burnt in the Florida heat...

***Disney is a well-oiled machine.  There are a ton of rules and 'choice' is simply factored out of the equation (e.g. you are told where to park, no questions asked) and yet no one dares to complain.  That's what happens when rules have been proven to work for generations and you appreciate that they are there for efficiency.  That's also what happens when individuals shed their egos and the belief that they know better, can make things better.  And the shedding of egos becomes easy when you are thinking of someone more important than you...your child/ren, and that your mission is to to bring fun to your loved ones and make lasting memories.

***Wouldn't it be so unspeakably awful if a loved one broke up with you while you're in Disney?  Well, not just a break-up, but actually any kind of bad memory.  While everyone thinks of Disney as "where dreams come true", you wouldn't want to be the one thinking, "where rejection and the nightmare took place".  (On second thought, it might just be the perfect place for heartbreak considering you are surrounded by positive energy and celebration.  It might give you hope and the realization that there are far more beautiful things around you to focus on than the a**hole who chose to break your heart).  

***Fast Pass offers a valuable life lesson.  For those who are not familiar with this, Fast Pass is a process Disney implemented on certain popular rides/attractions they have.  Instead of lining up for your favorite attraction (which could sometimes take more than an hour before you get in), you can go to a kiosk with your Disney ticket and after you put it in, it will give you another ticket indicating the window within which you can just come back and go right in to enjoy the ride.  No more waiting in line as long as you come back during that designated time indicated on the Fast Pass ticket.  Now this does not mean doing the Fast Pass exempts you from waiting.  You still need to wait because you can't get in instantly.  The only difference is that you don't need to stand in line.  You can do other things, walk around the park or go to other less popular rides while you wait for your 'magic window of opportunity'.  

Isn't it pretty much the same in life?  Waiting and waiting unproductively makes the wait more painful and less manageable.  But if you busy yourself with other things and focus on things you can also enjoy, then waiting for that which you want badly makes the wait more bearable.  The long wait becomes less of a 'wait' and more about living.

Enough said.  Now on to the photos.........

Below are a few of my favorite pictures (and I mean 'few', because I have more than 500 pictures from the trip and don't see the point in torturing you all with that) .  I've selected them because I think they either tell a good story / are interesting to look at, or I think they are moving in some way.  I hope you enjoy looking at them, as well as reading the silly captions!

First day and I had to wear my knee brace.  Fortunately, I was able to walk without it the rest of the week.
That sucker made my leg feel so hot (and look not so hot).

This photo was taken by Noah.  I didn't edit this in any way.

Noah wanted Wazowski but only Sulley came out at the time.  Look at how my son was grabbing on to the monster's hair.  He was so excited!

Another exciting time for Noah...posing with one of his favorites, Buzz Lightyear!  Look at that arm, as if checking to see if he was real!

Probably THE highlight of our trip, as far as Noah is concerned...We signed him up for the Padawan training and he had the chance to fight Darth Vader on stage.

The Tree of Life (Animal Kingdom)

The Tree of Death (??) sure looks like it...and yes, this one is real.

I don't know why, but I ALWAYS need to take photos of apes when I see them.  The fascination must stem from the fact that I have a natural affinity to them.

The kids insisted on getting their faces painted.  I wanted a more 'kiddie' design for Noah, but he REALLY wanted a mean looking one.  I guess I should be prepared for my son's 'dark side'....yikes!

with the cousins

hot, red and sticky but it doesn't matter.....You gotta kiss when you gotta kiss

spoiled...Daddy would do anything for this boy

I guess I should leave them alone.  Looks like a really serious, man to man talk.....

This is what it's all about....We were a group of 9, 5 of which are the  kids.  But no one got lost at any point.  It's so touching to see siblings / cousins taking care of each other at all times.

Oddly, this was the only time I saw Mickey Mouse.....How strange is that??

Taken after the Fantasmic light show at the Magic Kingdom...can't believe the sea of people exiting all at the same time

Can you blame him for getting so knocked out?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Do You Really Want To Know More??

I'm glad to be back!  Or am I assuming too much in thinking that someone actually noticed I was gone last week??  

Well, our family went on a week-long vacation to Disney World and it was just pure fun! Hot, sticky and crowded, but nonetheless fun and over all, a lovely, lovely time with my family.  But I will hold off on talking about that one for now.  I still have a ton of pictures to upload anyway.  

For now, let me share with you a blog game I'm participating in.  It's my blogger friend Lalia over at Skank, Rattle and Roll who tagged me.  It's just a series of questions I'm supposed to answer that will presumably reveal further how neurotic I truly am.  Well, at least that's what I think it will do.  We'll see.  

Here it goes!

What is the thing that makes you want to get out of bed each day? 
The thought of going on my daily 5-mile run.....Oh wait, that's when I wake up from a dream in my dream.  In reality, it's probably just me wanting to get out of bed because I've been bored for hours and hours lying there without any sleep.

What do you tell yourself to get through painful, difficult, or challenging times?
Two things:  That if I deal with this as positively as I can, then it's an investment in good karma;  and that any additional drama in my life only provides me with interesting material to write about.  As they say, pain is always so much easier to write about than happiness.

What can you look back on and remind yourself you were successful at, or were strong enough to come through?
My heart getting smashed into smithereens over and over....and over again....and again...

Look around you at this moment and choose one thing to smile about or be thankful for. What is it?
My son, always.  No doubt my greatest blessing and deepest joy.

If you could do anything at this moment to make yourself happy, what would it be?
A lobotomy.  

Do you have a special place, real or imagined, where you go to in your mind or reality to regroup, seek peace, or just be?
No.  Thanks for the suggestion.

Has there been a particular book that you have read that inspired or motivated you to seek your potential?
The Seat of the Soul by Gary Zukav.  I read this more than a decade ago and it spoke to me in a way that truly made me want to be a better soul and live with a wider perspective.  I'm still not perfectly there but the effort continues.

What childhood fable, fairytale, or movie stretched your imagination and sticks with you today?
E.T. comes to mind.  I loved it, will always have fond memories of it, and possibly started my obsession with aliens and the cosmos in general.

What is your favorite form of art and artist (anyone and anything you consider art qualifies)?
I love music.  To me they're poetry in motion.  

Do you have a personal anthem, a song, that reminds you of who you are and want to be, that represents the ideal of you? 
Foolish Heart by Steve Perry.  It doesn't necessarily speak of who I want to be, but certainly speaks of who I am...a hopeless romantic who gives and gives it all.  Foolish, yes, but I know no other way, won't choose any other way.  This song has been my anthem since I was young and didn't really fully understand its meaning.  But now that I have actually lived through it, all the more this song resonates with me.  

What did you experience while answering these questions?    
A bit of panic, realizing that I should not have stopped seeing my therapist!!    

And now, to the following blogger friends, your mission should you choose to accept this, is to answer the same questions about your self:

TV from TV's Take
Kenya from Here's The Thing

I think I'm supposed to tag more than three but this should be good.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

A Star Is Born....Or Maybe Not, And So What?


In about two weeks, school will start again and the little one will be in Kindergarten.  I must admit I seem to be the more anxious one between the two of us, and yes, I am anticipating a little bit of separation anxiety.  Although he has gone through two years of preschool, this is the first time when he’ll be gone 5 full days a week.  Yes, a part of me welcomes the alone time, but undeniably, I know I will miss him still.

But that’s not why I’m writing.  Right now, I’m trying to make sure I have all the paper work for his school ready, and there is one question in the packet that has given me pause..................…a long pause.

What are your child’s interests and talents?

The interest part is easy for me.  But talents?  I am seriously beginning to panic for taking more than 3 days to answer the said question.  I'm feeling so pathetic on so many levels. It's either I'm such a bad mother that I don't notice the presence of any 'talents', or, I'm such a bad mother, genetically that is, for not passing on anything wonderfully and remarkably innate to my offspring.  

Don't get me wrong.  I think my son is wonderful and I couldn't ask for anyone better, more suited to me.  But he's a normal 5 year old.  Seriously, is he really supposed to exhibit something remarkable at this time?  Or maybe he is already doing that but my expectations are too high that I don't see them or deem them remarkable, hence adding to my 'pathetic' state.

He sings but still goes out of tune.  He loves to dance but nothing to make me think I can now stop worrying about money since I'd be earning millions out of being his talent manager.  He picks up very quickly on video game mechanics and most other technological devices even though he can't really read yet.  He 'figures things out' and obviously has great problem solving skills.  He's also very articulate, very well-spoken, but is that even a 'talent'??? He does not play any musical instruments, and is definitely not exhibiting anything that would lead me to conclude he could be the next Van Gogh or Picasso.    

Last time I checked, talent means "above average ability, a gift, a genius, a special natural ability or aptitude". Isn't this a special thing?  But how come I feel like in this egocentric age we now live in, everyone wants to proclaim that each of us have talents?  I understand the value of valuing oneself and honing our potential.  But if everyone were 'special', then no one really is, right?  Besides, is there really something so wrong with being just normal or average?  When did we become so afraid of those words?  

I don't want to be one of those impossible to please mothers, never appreciating their children for what they have to offer.  But I don't want to be one of those neurotic ones either who overly praise and commend every single ability their child exhibits, like maybe wiping their butts.  While I find my balance and try to answer this question for my son's school, let me just leave you with this video of a talented 8 year old.  This song will always remind me of Noah, as we both love this and sing to this.  He's nothing like this boy though.  But kid's 5 and this one's 8.  Give us a break!  Besides, I still have 3 years right???    

***Photo credit: By Bernd Moehle (Flickr: School bus) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons