Hiccup Eyes and Purrs

As a dog person I’ve just admired cats at arms length. I’ve been terrified they might scratch me if they feel like it and I couldn’t undertand their body language. Until we adopted Meow who lived most of his life in the streets, I didn’t have a reason to study cats more closely. Now I read about them and watch YouTube videos of cat owners to understand them a bit more.

And then came Quebec, and I met Dandy, a big black cat which resembles Hiccup from How To Train Your Dragon. I first encountered his tail sticking out from the curtain, his back turned on me. And then when we made eye contact he quickly warmed up to me and for the first time a cat came curling at my feet and rubbing his head on my Delta slippers. That was the first of many head curls in the two nights I stayed at the AirBnB. He would walk away when D is nearby, and when I am alone he’d come running at my feet. He even climbed the bed where I tried to take a good selfie with him but he jumped right away as D entered the room.

Last night he actually purred while curled on my slippers. My friend who loves cats told me that a cat expresses happiness through purrs. Now I know what it sounds like in real life. And that purr melted my heart and will be one of the best memories of our visit to Quebec.

Now en route to Montreal I sure will miss Dandy – he’s a sweet and good boy.

Do we say good boy to cats? Dandy sure was and he didn’t mind me telling him so.

Travelling Light

It’s almost 9 o’clock in the morning, and I’m humming to the tune of Leaving on a Jet Plane. I’m so excited for this long-awaited trip to Montreal (my second take at French). I would like to think I’m more equipped now, having retaken my modules in DuoLingo and having completed basic French class. I know, I have a long way to go in mastering the language, but it’s a start.  Reality check: If I don’t blog about my second attempt at speaking French in Canada, that means I’ll do a Take Three. For now, I would like to think determination and confidence will help me get my way around Montreal and Quebec.

Back to my song for this morning: “All my bags are packed and I’m ready to go.” And speaking of bags….C’est sont ma bagages.

To be exact I have one small luggage and a backpack. Been travelling for business in August and one thing I’ve started doing is packing light as I cannot be bothered to do some weight lifting with my baggage. My last trip to Singapore I didn’t even check in any luggage, and it worked just fine.

So for this trip, I only have five sets of clothes, a scarf, toothbrush, comb, socks and undergarments, my sneakers, a hoodie, and a small pouch containing my toiletries in travel-size amounts: sunblock, lotion, toothpaste, and moisturizer. For makeup I just brought BB cream, powder foundation, a lipstick and a small blush on powder. When we were booking our AirBnB, I made sure that we got the rooms with a washer and dryer so we can do our laundry in between trips.

In my backpack are my cellphone and charger, passport, hand sanitizer, pen, and my “North America wallet” because I’d like to keep my local currency bills separate to avoid confusion. I’ve got enough space and I’m contemplating now if I should bring this book that I’ve been hoping to finish reading. Maybe I will, because after hours of watching shows and movies in a plane, it’s nice to read from an actual book and rest my eyes from gadgets.

My goal next time is to do what the backpackers do. I’ll see how it goes with this trip and if it works just fine I’ll go give my big backpack (that’s gathering dust in my storage room) a try.

 

What’s the Time?

I’m on a 3-day trip to Singapore this week, and I thought I did not need to adjust as the timezone is the same as what it is back home, the temperature and humidity similar. I also consider Singapore as sort of like home, a “big BGC (Bonifacio Global City)” – the city where I worked where the layout and buildings remind me so much of Singapore (sans the parks, trees and flower-lined highways). When I got to the hotel on Monday, I did not bother to go out and play tourist. I just got to the mall next door to get my food – and then back to the hotel. Set the alarm and dozed off right away.

I vaguely remember waking up twice in the middle of the night checking what time it was. At 6:30 I woke up and looked outside, relieved it was still “night time”. But then I recalled turning off the alarm about an hour ago. I got up with a start with thoughts coming to my mind as I checked what time it really was:

Is it 6:30 AM or PM?

Did I sleep through the day? How will I explain this at work?!

Is my clock still set in Japan time? 

I figured eventually it really was 6:30 AM. I didn’t realize the sun rises late in Singapore – 7:03 Google said. This was new to me, as over the last 3 weeks I went to places where the sun rises early (Summer in North America and Japan). Oh, the things I learn in every trip.

Take Four: Food and Tokyo

Lobster sandwich, fries and ginger ale

I was able to have a taste of different kinds of food from my trip to Tokyo last week. Unlike my previous trips to Japan where I defaulted to eating the same type of food over and over again per visit, I mustered all my will power to “stick to the plan”, which was to try out a variety this time.

I guess the only time I deviated from the plan was during breakfast, because the hotel I stayed at only had 2 options: Japanese or Continental. I tried the Japanese set the first day, and the next 3 days was Continental. The Japanese breakfast set comprised of fish, pickled fruit and veggies, salad, fresh fruits, miso soup and seaweed flakes. The Continental set comprised of yogurt, a variety of bread, jam and butter, eggs, bacon and sausage (I skipped the last 2).

Japanese breakfast set
Japanese breakfast set

For dinner, I discovered a great alternative which I think I’ll resort to again next time: the basement of big department stores near the train stations usually have food courts, so I opted to buy my food (in portions) from different food courts for two nights in a row, hence my “dinner with a view” from my hotel room.

Dinner with a view part 1
Dinner with a view part 1
Dinner with a view part 2
Dinner with a view part 2

For lunch I’ve had curry and naan, cold soba and unagidon, and shrimp tonkatsu. I’ve also had my sweet tooth satisfied with the variety of cakes and pastries available almost in every corner of Tokyo (because they’re also found in the convenience stores).

On my last night, I was able to try food from an Izakaya with my colleagues. We had sushi, tempura, edamame, and skewers.

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Different kinds of tempura
Different kinds of tempura

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Because it was hot and humid, the cold drinks available in the convenience stores did not disappoint. I was lucky to have discovered Mr Bean while panting and looking for something to drink around Shibuya station. It reminded me of the taho, a soybean drink that I used to have when I was a kid.

But I’m saving the best for last. I’ve had my first ever lobster sandwich a week ago when I was in Philadelphia, and just couldn’t get enough of it. I searched for a lobster sandwich place in Tokyo and luckily, there was one at Ginza called Luke’s Lobster. I had to navigate to this one, which was a couple of buildings away from Muji Ginza. I know it’s not Japanese food, but this one satisfied my lobster craving – the size of the sandwich was just right – it came with a pickle, fries and ginger ale.

Luke’s Lobster Ginza Tokyo
Luke’s Lobster Ginza Tokyo
Lobster sandwich, fries and ginger ale
Lobster sandwich, fries and ginger ale

 

My Sweet Tooth

Royce Chocolates, a popular souvenir request from home

One thing I like about Japan is the multiple choices of eye-catching, mouth-watering confectionery. I guess even for those whose encounter with Japan is only through layovers at Narita or Haneda, a thing that stands out are the colorful, pretty boxes of chocolate or cakes at the duty free stores – usually flocked with tourists on a hoard-spree of these goodies.

In my last 4 visits to Tokyo this year I was lucky to get a chance to try out the different sweets cafes and food outlets (most of them at the basement of department stores, or at the basement of Tokyo Station) have to offer. Even convenience stores have them – truly a sweet tooth’s delight as they’ll never run out of options.

Two of my go to’s – when in Japan: Royce dark chocolate. I started with the refrigirated ones, and have discovered lately the regular bar ones. I brought it home to D and to my colleagues and it has become a popular request whenever I ask what they want me to bring home from Tokyo. There was a time D ate it all and left me frustrated as I opened the cupboard to find out it was all gone. So lesson learned – keep a stash for both of us for the rainy days.

Royce Black Chocolate

And lastly there’s the crepe cake at Cafe Veloce. Simple, not so eye-catching, but when I gave it a try I was hooked on its taste and texture: not too sweet and portion is just right. Goes well with coffee, it sure is a treat after a long day of walking about or just while seeking refuge from the wind or rain during thunderstorms.

When Old Friends Meet

RJ and I first became friends when we shared a workstation years ago, as we both worked in a call center, at the time when the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) was still a budding industry in the Philippines. He was a new employee and I was a newly promoted team leader. Back then we were the wide-eyed, hopeful, young leaders learning the ropes of people management, with both our shares of small wins and learnings. I’d say the work of a team leader had been the toughest one for me to date, and it was the support groups like the one I had with RJ and several other colleagues that helped a lot. We would find time despite the different schedules to hang out and catch up over dinner or very early breakfast (when our shifts would be overlapping). And then eventually our support group drifted apart when most of them, RJ included, migrated abroad. Thankfully there was social media that allowed us all to keep in touch. And then the rare get together when any one would visit the other’s country.

Last week I had the honor of getting to visit North Carolina for a couple of days for work. I contacted RJ to see if he was in any way close to the Raleigh Durham airport. He said he was, and he and his little boy picked me up at the airport that sunny Wednesday. He has not changed since I saw him last, about seven years ago. I met his family – they were all so lovely, down to earth and welcoming. They prepared a dinner feast! There was crabs, prawn, pasta and home made pesto, and boiled corn and potatoes. When the kids finished eating, us grown ups had more to talk about – from catching up as to what we’ve been up to for the last decade, to reminiscing our “yuppie” years. It’s heartwarming to know that despite the gap in time, we were still the same old friends. I told him and his wife that the reason I clicked with RJ back then and until now is because he reminds me of my brother with the way he talks, and he cracks me up everytime with his witty humor.

Soon after RJ and his family drove me back to the hotel. Though we only had a few hours together, that day was the highlight of my week in the USA. When in a different country, be it for work or leisure, nothing beats spending quality time with old friends. They’re the family we get to choose.

Rainy Day Feels

Rainy afternoon view from my window

How do rainy days make you feel?

When it rains, it poursNow that we’re in the monsoon season here in the Philippines, I’d say rainy days have its ups and downs. I’ll start with the downs because I wanted to end this blog with a positive twist. Some of the disadvantages include occasional floods, aggravated traffic in the metro, and on typhoons crops that farmers have worked hard for may potentially be wiped out. For people going to school or work, it tends to be a hassle getting a proper commute, so one has to leave earlier than usual. When it rains I resort to carpooling instead of walking. Laundry could also be tricky because we have to wait for a bit of sunshine so we can dry our clothes at the yard.

Being in a tropical country, we have it almost half of each year, so pretty much it’s a way of life here. There are days I embrace it and look forward to it (and quietly hum to the tune of Garbage’s Only Happy When It Rains). The skies may be gray and the mood gloomy, and when this happens it’s nice to have a cup of hot drink or a good hot kakeage udon or pho for a meal. On weekends, I’d sleep or play my Lazy Rainy Saturday playlist on Spotify while reading a book or blogging away, with my dogs seated next to me. One of the things I used to do when I had longer weekends was try out soup recipes from Pinterest – I get more inspired doing them when it’s raining outside. If all else fails, there’s my list of Korean shows to binge watch on Netflix.

 A good book and hot drink for a rainy day

Cuddled next to me

Through the years, my sweet boy

 

 

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?