Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Luck's Twisted Sense of Humor

It was to be our first time at this posh and very highly-reviewed downtown restaurant. We were both excited and feeling romantic about this anniversary dinner. I guess most of all, as foodies, my husband and I simply couldn't wait to experience the culinary adventure we knew awaited us. 

I get the sense though, that when I thought 'culinary adventure', the Universe probably only heard the last word and decided to give me a taste of its sense of humor once more. For as soon as my husband surrendered our car to the valet attendant and he got the chance to feel his back pocket, he blurted out, "Oh shoot! I don't have my wallet!"

My panic at that point wasn't so much from the fear of not being able to pay for dinner since I knew I had my credit card with me, but from not being able to pay for our valet parking! On my own, I know that this would have been a full-blown disaster in my head. Luckily, I'm married to someone who simply knows how to talk to anyone and find solutions calmly. My husband very discreetly but candidly admitted the situation to our server, who happened to be a very nice and approachable gentleman, and they came to an agreement that he will give us some cash which we'll just add to our gratuity to pay him back. Problem solved! Blessed with a savior, an angel, once more!

That's the thing I notice about AJ. He's lucky (and not just 'cos I married him, haha!). Good fortune seems to follow him somehow. I'm not talking about winning the lottery or anything like that (although I'm still hoping!), but more about being blessed with kind strangers or finding himself in situations where circumstances thought to be hindrances or bumps in the road just almost magically evaporate, open up or resolve themselves in such timely manner.

I always tell him this and explain that it's probably because of his good karma, a law I firmly believe in. Aside from the fact that I'm married to a genuinely kind human being, I suspect he's also done some pretty amazing stuff in his past lives to reap these blessings. It's just the little things that add up. A good parking spot suddenly opens up in front of him in spite of an entire building or lot being insanely packed. Or being given the date and time slot he really wanted for our civil wedding eleven years ago even though it seemed impossible given that we booked so late. There are other examples, I'm sure, but the point is that he appears to have a charmed life.

Mine is a little bit different. I'm not saying I'm highly unlucky or cursed. But 'luck' seems to have a funny way of showing up for me. I think it likes playing hide and seek first before fully revealing itself. I think it gets a kick out of scaring the shit out of me initially before consoling me with its appearance.

Here's what I mean. For the past two weeks, my brain and creativity in general seemed to have been taken hostage by worries over jury duty. I received the dreaded letter summoning me for jury selection and for three days each in the past two weeks, I was to make myself available in case I needed to show up in court and be part of the pool of potential jurors. I ended up being summoned to appear in court two out of the six days. This meant that for those two days, I held my breath for a total of approximately 5 hours, intently willed myself to manifest whatever mind control or telekinetic powers I might possess, while simultaneously prayed to God and all the saints and angels, in the hopes that I would be lucky enough to NOT have my name and number be called. To say that it was beyond nerve-racking is an understatement. Sitting in that jury box is definitely not in my bucket list!

Luckily, my name was never called. But seriously, how 'lucky' of me that I've been sent that dreaded letter twice now when I've only been a citizen of this country for seven years?! I know of people much older than me and who were born here and yet have never ever been summoned for jury duty! How crazy is that? 

My first time was in Illinois and I was a new mom at the time. I was excused because I was the primary caregiver for my newborn. Dodged it. Now living in Tennessee, but only for 4 years, here we went again with that dreaded envelope that says "SUMMONS FOR JURY SERVICE". Fantastic.

I'm unlucky that way, but still lucky I suppose for not being selected in the end. But like I said, I had to shit in my pants first before luck let me have a big sigh of relief. I must have been a prankster in my past life and now it's payback time. Luckily I'm married to one lucky guy! Let's hope his seriously good luck can balance off the mischievous nature of mine. 

Friday, July 17, 2015

Are You a Slave to Your False Beliefs?

"Your total is $66.68".

This was all the cashier had to say to the woman in front of me to bring her to a state of semi-panic. Hurriedly, she turned to her side, deciding what small item she could purchase to add to her total. I'm not sure what she ended up grabbing, maybe a pack of gum or a candy bar, but what I did hear was her saying, "Oh no. There is NO way I'm ending up with a 666 total."

Obviously the woman considered it bad luck and felt compelled to do something to avoid it. I thought it was nonsense and amusing, but really, who am I to judge? It's her belief, her life and her choices were really of no consequence to my existence, other than to inspire a thought for this blog post, obviously. 

The idea of false beliefs, and how these affect our lives, is what came to mind. And I'm not even talking about mere superstitions although they do function in similar ways. By definition, a superstition is a belief in supernatural causality even in the absence of rational, scientific proof. But a lot of us who say we're not superstitious still cling to certain beliefs about ourselves and our realities that don't make much sense, don't have much basis in practical reality. These same beliefs are also clearly detrimental to our mental health and how we conduct our relationships.

As a teenager, I was told by someone that if I didn't lose weight and become slim, no one 'worthy' (translate: an all around great guy) would fall in love with me. I believed it for a long time until I realized it was too painful to hold on to. Eventually, I had to convince myself that anyone truly worthy would choose to see past my size and appreciate what I'm truly about. Events in my life have disproved this false belief. I'm obviously married to a most wonderful man who saw beyond my bulges and tomboyish demeanor. But I'll admit that it's still a daily struggle to fight that mean voice in my head. The worst part is that now the voice is mine and it's one I have to always keep in check, at least until I'm able to finally fully slay it.

My struggle has to do with my false belief about the relationship between my physical appearance and my sense of worth and lovability. It continues to cause fear and insecurity within me which of course is never good for my marriage and how I open myself up to others. I know it doesn't make much sense but I still allow it to affect my behavior and bleed into my relationships. It's just as baffling as that woman's superstitious behavior in the store, only much less amusing and more damaging.

So why do we cling to our false beliefs? 

I think it's because we derive a false sense of security from them. They become safe and comfortable spots for us. Perhaps your false belief has become convenient and has protected you from taking risks or kept you from pursuing something more challenging which will force you to venture into the unknown. Perhaps it has become easier to cling to what we already know rather than change our minds and try something different. Status quo is always the path of least resistance but also the path of least evolution.

Maybe you think you're damaged. Maybe you think you're incapable of making anyone happy. Perhaps you've convinced yourself that you're not good at anything. Or perhaps you believe that no one around you could ever be trusted. Whatever negative belief you're holding on to, do yourself a favor and at least pause to question your data. How reliable is your belief? What gifts has it really given you? Is it costing you too much?

If you muster the courage to ask and consider the alternative, you might actually want to give it a try and realize that there is greater peace to be found in walking through life more freely without your false beliefs as crutches. Simply try it. You might just enjoy the amount of growth that's bound to follow. 

Are you holding on to a false belief? 
What have you done recently to challenge it?

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Intimacy of Love and Hate

My sweet blogger friend, Susan of The Most -- Of Every Moment, wrote a post on love and hate last week. She created an interesting list of things that she simultaneously loves and hates, depending on the facet she's focused on. I enjoyed reading the post as it highlighted the complex relationship we sometimes have with things in our lives, that it's not always as simple as loving or disliking something in its entirety. You can check it out for yourself here.

On that post, she tagged me and some other wonderful bloggers. So here is my personal take on this love-hate topic.

I'm very careful with these wordsLove and Hate.

To me they are both very strong and meaningful words, and should never be used loosely. I don't believe you can really love or hate unless you fully know and understand someone or something. These feelings assume a deep level of intimacy with whatever is loved or hated. 

That said, I've decided to focus my list on marriage and family life since these are two realities that are very dear to me and definitely possess intimate knowledge of. 

Let's start with things I LOVE about my marriage and family life...

The sound of my boys' laughter. This to me is the pure sound of joy and it melts my heart every time. It's like the Divine whispering to me, reminding me that this is all that matters, that life is good.

Spooning. My nights never seem complete when I don't feel my husband hold me close in the middle of the night. It doesn't have to last all night and I don't think I'd last too long anyway because I'm a restless sleeper. But feeling his arms around me and our bodies fitting perfectly in each other's arches always reassure me that everything is alright, no matter what we went through all day long. 

Five star food reviews. It's not always easy satisfying everyone in my family when it comes to meals. I still have a picky 8 year old, not to mention the pressure I have to always try to satisfy both Filipino and American palates in our household. So when I make something and hear "That was really good, Mama!!" (and they both call me Mama), it makes all the hard work truly worth it. 

PDA, but only on a non-embarrassing level. I'm merely talking about holding hands, or arms wrapped around the other, kissing my son (although sadly he's beginning to be shy about this now), or the occasional goofy stuff my husband and I do to each other such as winking at the other or pinching the other's cheek. I love these random acts that make me and my boys feel loved. 

Receiving special occasion greeting cards or notes that bring me to tears. Birthdays, anniversaries, mother's dayall these make me look forward to the kind and loving words that my boys come up with to show their affection and sentimentality. My husband is not a poet but he certainly always chooses the best greeting cards. And when he finds the words, writes his own note, with my son adding his spontaneous and completely unfiltered words of appreciation, they never fail to make me cry. 

Certainly I don't love everything. So, from the top of my head here are five things I HATE with regard to family life...

Cleaning bathrooms. Even after all these years, I still hate cleaning someone else's bathroom mess and please don't ask me to expound. I'm sure you can all imagine the kind of grime I deal with living with two males. 

Homework time. I still don't understand why I must suffer along with my son when he gets home from school as he deals with homework. It's not that I do things for him but I can't resist the compulsion to monitor him and make sure he's doing what he needs to do and is doing it right. I honestly don't recall my parents doing the same to me when I was in school. Was I just more disciplined, or were my parents just busier and I have more time being a SAHM? It could be a combination, who knows? When you've unlocked the secret to finding the right balance between caring for your child's success and teaching them a healthy level of autonomy and accountability, please let me know. I'm still not that consistent. 

Not knowing what to cook. I don't mind cooking, as a matter of fact I enjoy it. What I hate is when I run out of ideas to cook and every dish I think about simply bores me. Although when I start thinking this way, I try to force myself to change perspective. It could be much worse, right? At least I still have something to cook for my family.

Worrying. I wish it were possible for me to care about someone and not worry or be obsessive. But this is the curse for most of us. As I always say, Love and Fear are more intimate than most of us would like to acknowledge. Whether it be about my family's safety, health and general well-being, you name it, I worry about it. I'm not proud of it and I definitely hate it.

Hurt feelings. But this is inevitable, isn't it? Vulnerability is part of love, and love is what we share in our family. Just as we have the power to bring immeasurable joy to each other, we can also wield that power to break each other's hearts and cause the other pain. I may hate fighting, miscommunication, and feeling hurt, but we have to accept all of it as part of learning how to better love each other.


I'm supposed to tag a few blogger friends on this post and challenge them to create a list of 10 things they love, and 10 things they hate. As this love-hate list has morphed now since the original, I'd say you can create your own list involving loves and hates depending on how you want to interpret it. You can make a simple list of what you love and hate, or create a theme, or whatever sort of configuration or iteration your creativity dictates. I obviously deviated from the original idea so I won't tell anyone how to write theirs.

I want to emphasize though that these bloggers are in no way obligated to create such a post. However it would be interesting to see what they come up with as this list of amazing bloggers features both humor and 'serious' writers. I hope you can find the time to visit these great sites!

Have fun ladies!

Marie Nikodem Loerzel of Rock the Kasbah
Krysta Manning of The Thoughtful Mom
Rena McDaniel of The Diary of an Alzheimer's Caregiver
Janine Ripper of Reflections from a Redhead
Sarah Schmitt of Salty Bug