“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!
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.
“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.
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.
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?
“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:
Walk and eat at Binondo, Chinatown
Early morning stroll at Roxas Boulevard
Avail of a new gym’s free trial
Volunteer walking the dogs at Laguna Pitbulls
Join the free zumba class at 6AM on Sunday at Filinvest, Alabang
General cleaning of the house and garage
Jog or brisk walk for 30 minutes at the Ayala Triangle park
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.
Alarm set to 5AM, settled myself comfortably on the bed, closed my eyes.
Just when thousands of thoughts raced in my head.
I tossed, turned, and reminded myself it’s time to sleep.
It’s already 11PM I should get plenty of rest. But I’m not sleepy…
Deep breaths, prayed for sleep to come, but no.
What am I going to eat for brekkie tomorrow? Maybe I should wear my sneakers to work so I can walk around during lunch break. I gained two inches around the hips, Just when I already cleared out my wardrobe. Yikes. But maybe, instead of shopping for new clothes I should really just save up for my upcoming holiday. Let’s see, where to go? I prefer somewhere we haven’t been before…Or, for a change, what if I just hang out at home with the boys? I could not spend enough time with them on weekends, and I miss them so much. Wait, what’s the time? Argh it’s already 1:44 AM and I’m still not sleepy. I MUST SLEEP.
Reminisced a good memory. Tossed and turned some more.
What, I’m still awake! Roar. I’ll be grumpy tomorrow. Please make me sleep...please, please…
And then my alarm goes off.
What?! Was I dreaming I couldn’t sleep?What a bummer. Give me five minutes more. Please.
Alarm goes off again.
Pfft. Fine. I’ll sleep early tonight to make up for this.
“I see trees of green, red roses too. I see them bloom for me and you.
And I think to myself what a wonderful world.” — Louis Armstrong
During my 1 year hiatus from work, I would hear this song being played on the local radio everyday at 8 o’clock in the morning. I remember my dad whenever I hear this – it’s one of his favorite songs of all time. He even bought a singing frog stuffed toy a long time ago, and he would play this song again and again.
As I got older I could relate to this song more. Come to think of it, it’s the simple things in life and in the world that could bring a smile (or laughter) in my heart.
Happiness, for me, is waking up refreshed from a good night’s sleep;
It is the smell of freshly baked bread, and the sight of blooming flowers of the season;
The pleasant surprise of stumbling upon a new find, or rediscovering long lost remnants of a fun childhood routine;
A bird randomly perching on my shoulder one cold winter’s day;
Clasping hands with D every now and then while walking thousands of steps on a sunny day;
The feeling of accomplishment after hours of climbing up a mountain;
Singing softly to a seedling encouraging it to grow strong, and stumbling upon colorful dragonflies during tree planting activities;
And finally after a day’s work, being able to snuggle under the sheets on a cool January night, recounting all blessings I’ve received earlier that day, and finally being able to sleep soundly at night being at peace with myself and with God.
I still know the lyrics written on my old Fisher Price music box. The thought of its tune brings back good childhood memories. I would wind up the music box again and again, hum or sing along.
Whenever I feel afraid I hold my head erect
And whistle a happy tune, So no one will suspect I’m afraid
I guess the words stuck to my head, along with walls I built through the years. Growing up I’ve mastered being calm, sometimes too much that I am perceived as unconcerned, transactional. Even though deep inside I feel like crumbling.
Until fate shattered these walls and reminded me of the beauty in humility and the refuge I can find in prayer. It was not an easy path, with fear lurking every so often. When this happens now, I say out loud, again and again:
My faith is stronger than my fear.
And then, slowly afterwards, I would feel a sense of peace. Always.
When I walk I try to focus on the present, breathe in the air and listen. I thank God for another day, for my feet that could take me anywhere. For the blessings, the challenges, the courage, the faith. The messages He tells me through the things I encounter, the words of enlightenment that I read or hear, the nudges to remind me that I must believe. I must be humble, not entitled. I must be patient and kind and spread the love.
My random thoughts in response to Aroused’s Friday Foto Fun question on what The Edge looks like to me. I liked the blog because it got me thinking…and here’s what I think:
When I think of the word EDGE, the first thing that comes to my mind is END. But as I delve on the word more, I remember it can also mean a point of something new: a new territory, a new beginning. Sort of like The Beatles’ song “Hello, Goodbye”.
“I say high, you say low. You say why, I say I don’t know…You say goodbye and I say hello”
You see, I’ve come to a point a couple of years ago where I had a 180 degree shift in priorities and started to see life in a different light. Maybe it’s midlife crisis, or maybe it’s a result of a harrowing experience. Anyway, ‘the edge’ for me did not happen overnight – it took weeks of contemplating and assessing the pros and cons of decisions I would make. I asked what my purpose was and what really makes me happy. I figured I didn’t need all the riches in the world and what I have is enough. I prayed for guidance and for me to have the courage to take that first step to get out of my comfort zone and try something new.
And so here I am now, treating each day as a new opportunity to appreciate, to learn, to explore, to one way or another touch someone else’s life or make a difference to someone, somewhere. Hopefully.
Personal Change begins with the soul and the mind – thoughts, beliefs, priorities, actions. It can be brought about by circumstances, a realization, an enlightenment, dilemma, a coincidence. Regardless of where it stemmed from, real change starts with a decision, commitment and action. Otherwise it’s just lip service, or you’re just putting on a show.