Dreaming in French

Woke up to an early start, and felt inspired. I dreamt I was speaking with former colleagues – fluently, in French.

It must be because the topic from yesterday’s Basic French class was passions et rêves. And maybe because I kept reciting “Ma passion est les chiens et les voyages”.

In my dream I was still finding words to express my thoughts to be more conversational. What amazed me was how quickly I found the words and made sense to the people I was talking to, sans my French class notes, all from memory. And they cheered me on because I was a bit more confident.

I remember before waking up from my dream I responded to my audience’ words of encouragement. I said “Petit à petit” with a matching wide grin.

Running Home

Someone’s waiting for me

Woke up very early today, had a quick breakfast even before the sun was up. The initial plan was stay at the apartment and drive straight to our out of town trip early morning tomorrow. But a weekend away meant I won’t see my boys until next weekend, and I miss them so much right now.

Got this photo from my aunt yesterday. Sealed the spur of the moment decision to commute all the way home today. Despite the Friday rush hour madness.

I gotta run home, this boy’s waiting for me.

Iced Tea, Hot Days

Royce iced tea

My first post for this month is an admission. It’s only been a couple of weeks so I am confident I can still turn this around. You see, I’ve become hooked on sweet iced tea – any tea with pearl or pudding, and lately I’ve discovered this variation of tea and dark chocolate (with actual choco bits) sold at the opened milktea shop nextdoor.

What triggered my cravings had been the extraordinarily hot humid weather. Much as I would like to spend at least 30 minutes walking around the block after lunch, I end up breaking a sweat less than a hundred meters in. And then there’s the presence of these new teastalls popping up.

No excuses, just wanted to give background context. I figured I should load up on drinking water so I’d feel full.

Help! Any suggestions?

When Life Gives Me Mangoes

The Philippine Mango, particularly the carabao mango, is one of my favorite fruits of all time. It’s sweet and quite filling – I can eat one fruit and be quite contented. I also love having it with salad, either its bits or as a mango vinaigrette dressing. Back in the university, I’d do a trip to the BioSci or PhySci buildings to buy myself green indian mango with bagoong (shrimp paste). Lastly, a trip to the beach is always made extra special when there’s a glass of fresh mango shake.

So I read online that because of the El Nino climate phenomenon in the Philippines, where the hot and dry season happens for an extended period of time in the year, there’s a surplus of mango produce that the government is helping farmers sell at a way much cheaper price. While this is supposedly good news for mango lovers like me, I care more for the farmers whose livelihoods are impacted because of this. When my friend posted on Facebook that she’s harvested several baskets or “kaings” of mangoes from their farm, I readily raised my hand to be one of her buyers. So one Sunday morning after my morning walk with D at Filinvest, Alabang, we drove off to Laguna to pick up the kaing of mangoes that I bought for five hundred pesos (US $10). The kaing weighed 15 kilos.A kaing full of mangoes that my friend harvested

Mangoes galore
Mangoes galore

As soon as the mangoes became ripe, we popped them into the freezer. And then my cousin made his specialty: mango graham cake. To make this no-bake ref cake, he layered graham crackers and mangoes with condensed milk and all purpose cream mixture. He made several layers of this and popped it in the fridge to cool. When it was time for afternoon tea, viola! We finished this awesome sweet treat in just one sitting.

Mango graham cake
Mango graham cake

 

 

Learning More About Mindfulness

Origami I got as a token from the Matsumoto Timepiece Museum

In between travels, I study. Mostly online, with the exception of French weeknight classes (more of that to come soon). I find it a good balance with the routine from daily business hours, and the temptation of sitting in front of the TV watching Netflix and munching on popcorn at night. So I eagerly signed up for some free courses from my Coursera app, and the first one in my list is De-mistifying Mindfulness by Universiteit Leiden. It’s a 6-week learning course, and I’m now on my second week. Well, I should be on my third week, but I’m lagging behind because of no valid reason. Yes, sadly, I got distracted. Netflix won.

I honestly thought I’d just breeze through it, treated it more of a refresher training of sorts. I was wrong. First module in, I realized I’m one of those who stereotypes mindfulness as a monk, or a sage – requiring a place of peace and quiet in order to practice. And then I took the Perceived Stress Scale test with the notion that I’d probably rate at the lower, if not the lowest, end of the scale. Halfway through the test I realized I’ve been more stressed than I thought I was – so when I rated higher than the average person of all age brackets, I was not surprised anymore. Yikes, so it’s true then, I easily get stressed. And worse, I keep it all bottled in, appearing as calm and chill as how I am mostly known for. No wonder I have a chronic case of acid re-flux and other body pains! While stress is good for the body, too much or too little can be life or mind altering.

Before heading out for breakfast today I tried to think of what my major source of stress was. It didn’t take long for me to accept that it’s because I expected people or things to act like or turn out how I expected them to be. It stems from me, and my so called ‘standards’.

I’m not even halfway through the course, and I look forward to learning more. For starters, I should really make time and effort to practice the exercises (lab work) on a daily basis. One if the practices that I like most is the body-scan breathing exercise.

I know I’ve got so much more to learn AND unlearn. I’m taking it one module at a time. One thing’s for sure – Netflix is now scheduled accordingly, and in moderation, in my calendar.

 

 

Singing Out Loud

Back in the 80s, when Tiffany, Debbie Gibson, and Menudo songs dominated the radio – I was obsessed with music. I learned to play the piano, and then eventually begged my uncle and older cousin to teach me to play the guitar.

I sang while I played those instruments. I sang to the lyrics from my uncle’s songhits (magazines or books of the latest hits’ chords). I sang to my minus one tapes. I sang in front of friends and strangers. I was THAT confident. Felt I was God’s gift to the world, gracing everything and everyone around me with my melody. Oh, the innocence (and ignorance) of youth.

Years passed and I’d say, much to the relief of the people around me, I’ve shied away from holding the microphone. I won’t be one to sing in karaoke bars too (except when there’s alcohol involved, and in that case, it does not count). I don’t even remember why I stopped in the first place.

Until lately. After having reacquainted myself with art, I came to appreciate how it is good for the mind, the heart, and the body. I get to focus on the present when I am painting, or drawing. And since music is art, I’ve rediscovered the joy I feel, or the “whole new world” I get to imagine myself in when I sing. But most of my singing now is just within the confines of my room – alone. And I sing to an app called StarMaker. Still won’t have the nerve signing out loud, even in front of D. Maybe in front of Rex, Theon and Pedro I would. I haven’t tried it yet. I’m sure they won’t mind, and they’d still look at me with oh-so-loving eyes. No judgment.

I’m amazed this idea came to me as I was writing this earlier. With my headset in place and the dogs sitting as my audience, I’ve crooned to a song I’ve been humming along since the last season of Game of Thrones: Jenny of Oldstones.

Update: The boys were supportive – one turned his back on me, and the other fell fast asleep.

 

Sunshine Blogger Award Nomination

It’s my first ever Sunshine Blogger Award! A big thank you to Mr. A of https://barbariangentlemen.wordpress.com/ – this award truly warms the heart, and I’m happy to be shared with this!

And because it’s my first time to do this, I had to read the mechanics more than thrice to be sure I’m doing it right. Here are my answers to Mr. A’s questions:

  1. Tell us about something that you have been pursuing (or at least used to) just because others say it is worthwhile, but you haven’t found valuable? Running, I guess, because it’s not for me, and I stopped when I injured my ankle. I have since switched to cycling.
  2. What makes you feel truly alive? Traveling, breathing fresh air, experiencing different cultural traditions. 
  3. Tell us something that you regard as a whim, but is also highly integral to who you are? Some may regard my change in lifestyle as a whim as it’s a complete 180 degree change from who I used to be (more than a couple of years ago). Now I’m more focused on art and sustainability, something some friends don’t quite appreciate as much. But this is my newfound purpose – to make a difference in my own little way to the world around me. 
  4. What aspects of your identity are you still holding on but no longer believe in wholeheartedly? I’ve moved past this (as with my answer in question #3). I’d like to think I’m doing things I believe in, and I can easily say no or move on from things I don’t find worth my time and energy.
  5. In what aspects of your life you’re highly competitive of? Learning a new language, in particular: French. I’ve attended two classes already, and will start beginner’s class, yet again, next week. Just won’t give up on that! If all goes well, I can practice my French later this year (fingers crossed!)
  6. If you were to learn any form of martial art, what would it be and why? Arnis. It looks so cool!
  7. Give us 3 wrist watches that you consider an essential to a man’s wardrobe? Seiko Diver’s watch, a Rolex dress watch, and an Omega casual watch. Clearly I got these answers from D as I don’t know anything about watches (I use my cellphone to tell the time!)
  8. How do you like your eggs in the morning (runny, over easy, scrambled, hard boiled, soft boiled, etc)? Hard boiled, unsalted.
  9. What book have greatly challenged your perception of the world but turned out for the better? Hope for the Flowers by Trina Paulus. I read this in college – a simple read with a good message. I’d say I related to it when I was in my 30s. 
  10. What are your opinions on the current state of my blog? What are the things the you find noteworthy? What are the things that could be improve more? I like the layout of your site and the structure you follow – TMIs on Tuesdays, blogs about Fitness, Social Skills, etc. I like the blogs about style. And I like how you keep true to yourself with expressing your thoughts. Can’t think of improvement points.
  11. Now for something fun, please note that this is just optional. Not need to answer if you don’t want to. For the ladies, if your special someone decided to give you a lingerie as a present, what kind of lingerie would make you feel sexy? For the guys, if you were to give your special someone a lingerie as a present, what lingerie do you think would make your special someone feel so sexy? Again, this is just Mr. A being Mr. A. I mean no disrespect to any of my nominees, and I won’t feel bad if you don’t answer this. This had me thinking as I’m more for comfort over fashion. I guess any gift will make me feel sexy if I feel like being sexy – be it lingerie, a cap or a hoodie. 

Now I’m sharing the sunshine to the following bloggers whose recent blogs made me smile. Here are my nominations for the Sunshine Blogger Award:

Mitch Teemley of https://mitchteemley.com/

M o o r e z a r t of https://moorezart.wordpress.com/

The Flying Tofu of https://theflyingtofu.com/

Paula Light of https://lightmotifs.wordpress.com/

AJ Vosse of https://ouchmybackhurts.wordpress.com/

Chopkins2x3 of https://chopkins2x3.wordpress.com/

Samira’s Notebook of https://samiramohana.wordpress.com/

My questions for the nominated bloggers are:

  • Where do you find the inspiration to write your blogs? 
  • When was the last thing you’ve done something for the first time? 
  • If you were a superhero, who would you be? 
  • What is one simple thing (or person, place, event) that never fails to brighten up your day? 
  • What tradition in your family or country do you always look forward to? 
  • What blog (and whose blog is it) inspired you to take action? 
  • What is your favorite TV show?
  • What movie can you watch over and over again and make you feel the same way every single time? 
  • What is your favorite holiday destination? 
  • When was the last time you laughed so hard you had tears in your eyes? 
  • If you had the power to change anything in the world right now, what would it be? 

The rules are:

  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you;
  2. Answer the 11 questions the blogger asked you;
  3. Nominate new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions
  4. List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award in your post/or on your blog.

Enjoy and congratulations!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wishing on a Sunflower

“Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow.” — Helen Keller

Last Sunday I saw our first fully bloomed sunflower crane its face up to the east. Its height is same as mine, and I gazed at it for a few minutes – feeling warmth and happiness in my heart as I very gently touched it.

This morning, my aunt sent me a photo of our first bloom’s siblings who have likewise ‘woken up’. They’re now a colorful happy bunch.

I wish I am now standing in a field of sunflowers. That’ll be awesome!

Catching Up

Last night I met up with a couple of my classmates from the university – my first few friends when I moved to the campus way back in the 90s. It was a reunion of some sorts – something I’ve been doing a lot of lately, with different groups of friends whom I’ve known from school. My girlfriends were celebrating their birthdays this month too, so we treated ourselves to a mini feast sans the birthday cake. Funny how we reminsiced about the diverse not-so-healthy food we recklessly ate when we were teenagers – when nowadays we have to carefully consider ingredients and nutritional information as basis to decide what to eat. I’m glad I share the same dietary preference with one of my friends. I sometimes feel unnecessarily special when my other groups of friends would take a step back to plan out where to eat out with me because of my needs.

My girlfriends and I looked back and wondered at how we’ve grown. Out topics are now into the more serious stuff like taxes, work-life balance tips, raising children, and other things we didn’t even imagine when we were younger. Back then, our pressing needs included what and where to eat for lunch and dinner, who took the most notes and getting them photocopied in time for midterms and final exams, what to do in between classes (do we play billiards; or go bowling; strum and sing to the guitar; or on occassions we felt more responsible, study for the next class?). I kind of separated paths with them when, after several attempts to comprehend what’s being discussed by my Math 36 (i.e., Calculus) professor, compounded by the daze I felt everytime I went to STAT 1 and CHEM 15 classes, I decided to shift my course from Civil Engineering to Agricultural Economics. The College Secretary looked at me quizically at the time when I said I was losing sleep over these subjects and I remember to this day him telling me that “sleep is a luxury, and our bodies only need three hours’ sleep a day”. That sealed my decision to shift to the College of Economics and Management.

It’s been two decades since I graduated, and we started catching up regularly once again about two years ago. Thanks to social media, we found one another. I’m happy I’m able to keep in touch with my classmates from Engineering. The first year in a faraway university was gold – and I’ve built a lot of memories together with them.

Run Like I’m 10 Again

art

I was watching Jack Reacher on Netflix yesterday and noticed how Tom Cruise running. I know he does this on quite a lot of his films, and whenever Tom Cruise runs, I wish I could run that way too. Makes me think – when was the last time I’ve ran like there was mo tomorrow?

In this last decade there were a few years I used to run. I would excitedly mark fun runs in my calendar, queue at the marathon sign up booths to get my shirt and race bib, and wake up before sunrise to conquer the miles. I did it mostly for fun and for the cause. And by fun I meant 5 kilometers. That’s it. I stopped when I had an ankle injury and recognized I’ve not been running the right way so I was putting unhealthy strain on the wrong parts of my feet.

But what I miss most is the way I felt when I ran as a child. When I thought my lungs and the sides of my tummy would burst because I gave it my all. When I played tag or hide and seek with my friends. Or when I raced the street with my brother or cousins. When the neighbor’s dogs would chase us and we raced all the way back home. When I pretended I was a superhero and ran off to rescue an imaginary person in distress. I had my share of scratches and scars along the way, but I ran wildly each time like the world depended on it.

I wish I can run that way again.

Quiet Solace

I came across the May calendar from actionforhappiness.com and today’s action is to share photos of things that I find meaningful or memorable.

I surprised myself having to think twice about this – too many memorable and meaningful things/events/people/places to choose from. So I figured I’d not go far and just look at what’s in front of me. Well, technically I’m imagining I am home right now since I’m literally located in another city.

Pedro, our adopted senior bulldog, had been very lethargic lately – may be because he is ten years old going eleven, and maybe because the scorching heat of summer makes it harder for my sweetie to frolic about in the yard. Cuddled next to me

Rex is also a senior dog – a bit older by months than Pedro. He’s been with us since he was three months old, and we’ve had a share of destroyed furniture when he was young. I’ve trained him, and dog training wasn’t easy but quite rewarding. It was Rex that bonded us with other dog-loving families. For some time our neighbors knew him more than they knew D and me. It’s funny how people would associate us with the folks ‘from the white house where the labrador lives”. If I was asked what my period in Rex’s life I’m more fond of, I’d say now that he’s older. He’s my ever quiet shadow in the house – my gentle giant. I like to rub it in on D at times as I know Rex loves his mum more than his dad. Dad is someone he ‘plays’ with, but when it comes to serious stuff, mum has the final word.Through the years, my sweet boy

When I am at home Pedro and Rex would take turns (mostly subtly kicking each other out – for some reason they don’t mingle together for long) sitting next to me. Nothing beats the soft touch of their fur on my hand, the quiet comfort they give as they sleep beside me. When they are awake they often look at me and their soulful gaze seem to say so many things. And I don’t care if anyone sees me talking to them all the time – I believe they understand what I feel, without any judgment. Sometimes for kicks, D and I would dance, with Rex and Pedro as our audience. Yep, they do not judge indeed.

I know that the time our dogs live is not as long as we would want them to, and though this makes me sad at times I shift my thoughts to what I am grateful for instead. Rex and Pedro are part of the family – all memories that D and I have about home almost always involve our dogs. Their loyalty and love for us have no limit, and we are fortunate and blessed to have them in our lives.

Kindness

Art by Nate Frizzell

“A little consideration, a little thought for others, makes all the difference.” — Eeyore, Winnie the Pooh

Is kindness innate or learned?

I notice how babies look at me with smiles on their faces – and no one asked them to do it, they just do. And instinctively, I smile back. When I was a child, way before I was taught about the Golden Rule, I remember treating my brother and the kids I played with in the same way I wanted to be treated.

As I grew older, I admit my kindness towards others became selective, and sadly there were times I put up walls to allow room for self preservation. Until a life-changing event a couple of years ago, when my eyes were opened to the more important things in life, did I consciously try to re-learn what kindness is all about.

Do an act of kindness to a stranger daily.

  • This is my new mantra. At first it was a bit overkill, as I defaulted to associate kindness with financial charity. I eventually learned that kindness does not have to cost a thing. It can be as simple as opening the door for someone, or cleaning as I go (when I am in a restaurant or ina cinema) or accepting a brochure or product samples being handed out by a store employee and listening to what they have to say.
  • Now, on a scale of 1 to 10, my kindness level is still at a 6. There are still times I steer myself back to remembering (and standing by) my mantra whenever I slide back to moments of impatience and entitlement. Sometimes in the middle of thoughts of snapping back at someone, I would summon all my will power to breathe and count to ten. Well, it’s a start. Hopefully I will stick to the path I envision to be.

    How do you practice kindness everyday?

    Reflections: Purpose and Legacy

    What do you want to be remembered for?

    If we met a few years ago and you ask me what my measure of personal success is, I would have said things like reaching a certain point in my career, conquering travel destinations in my bucketlist, being financially independent, and other similar ‘wins’. Thanks to a turning point in my life, I have since then redefined what matters most – like what is my purpose and what would be my legacy.Footprints

    My purpose is something I have not yet fully discovered. As for what I would want to be remembered for, it’s something I try to do every single day. I would like be the person that, one way or another, made a positive impact and made a difference to the world and to someone’s life.

    For this blog I asked some of my loved ones what they would want to be remembered for. My parents answered me without hesitation. Some of my friends would take a minute or two to reflect and process their thoughts. Here’s what I gathered:

    “I would like people to remember my smiles and laughter, and that I brought them happiness.” – Dad

    “I want to be remembered for being silently resourceful in providing to my family’s needs, and someone who is always grateful to God.” – Mom

    “For having a big heart.” – D

    “For helping Mother Earth and voiceless, even in my own little way.” – my sister

    “Someone who listens and is compassionate.” – R

    “That I cared for the people who matters to me.” – I

    “I want to be remembered for being a person – be as a daughter, sister, friend, mom and wife, who would go out of my way to help and do the right thing for my loved ones even when I don’t get acknowledged for it.” – K

    “I want to be remembered for the love and care I give to my family, for being a good daughter, sister, and FurMom.” – O

    “Someone who brought out the best in others.” – M

    In the end, everyone wants to be remembered not for what they have, but for what they made others feel.

    How about you? What do you want to be remembered for?

    Bicol Beaches, in a Heartbeat

    Roadtrip

    “If you were taking a road trip tomorrow, where would you go?”

    I came across this question in my A Sentence A Day diary that a good friend gave me for my birthday a couple of years ago. The diary has different questions I get to respond to with a one-liner, and these questions repeat on the same date for three years. Reading through my answers for the previous year, not only do I get to appreciate how time flies, but more importantly I get to reflect how my thoughts and feelings evolve and change on these different points in time.

    Today’s question is different: after writing my response, I took read through my entry for last year and realized my thoughts remained the same. In a heartbeat I wrote beaches in Bicol, Luzon’s southernmost province. I’ve only been to Bicol once, when D and I spent a weekend exploring the surrounding areas of the majestic (and notoriously shy) Mayon Volcano. Because we were there for only a couple of days, we were not able to go to the beautiful beaches nearby.

    First on my list (which I wrote this same day last year) is Caramoan Islands. It’s an isolated, and undeveloped rugged paradise composed of a cluster of islands in Bicol’s Camarines Sur. Tourists of Caramoan compare this beautiful place with El Nido in Palawan.

    This year, I’ve written down Calaguas Islands as my road trip dream destination. It’s about 325 kilometers (one way) drive from Manila to the province of Camarines Norte in Bicol. Some dub this group of islands as “the next Boracay” because of its fine white sand.

    Same thoughts for the same question, for two years in a row. I’m still trying to convince D to drive to any of these destinations – he said not this summer as the beaches are already packed (The heat is ON!), and he said I might want to consider flying to Bicol instead.

    However which way, I intend to go to Bicol, to either (or both) Caramoan or Calaguas. Definitely this year, first chance I get. I have faith. It’ll be awesome!

    boat
    an almost empty white sand beach

     

    Random Adventures

    Artwork

    “Actually, the best gift you could have given her was a lifetime of adventures.” — Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

    Two years ago, D and I decided to change the way we planned for our weekend activities.  In the spirit of spontaneity, we thought of writing down our ideas of a good way to spend a weekend, and add a twist of randomly selecting what to do in a sort of  ‘pick our adventure for the day’ kind of way. So I dug up a mason jar and cut out small pieces of paper. There I wrote fun activities we could think of, from quiet dinners and watching Netflix at home, to outdoor activities and those that will entail a couple of hours’ drive.

    Here are some examples of the things we wrote down:

    Some of the things we have done already, and most of the time the list gets longer. Recently I have segregated the activities by color so we can budget accordingly: activities that we can do indoors for free; indoors for a fee; outdoors for free; outdoors for a fee.

    It’s fun brainstorming these date ideas. In the process, I realize, that it does not matter what or where, how much or how long the activities are – what’s important is that D and I make the time to do them together, and make happy memories along the way, every day.

    Adventures
    Our adventure jar