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.

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?

    Random Thoughts: Happiness Part 3

    Artwork

    I regularly pass by this lovely piece of art by Nate Frizzell called “Charlotte”, and whenever I see it I start thinking of the many people, events, and things that bring happiness in my life.

    Artwork
    Artwork by Nate Frizzell

    The wind blowing on my face as the bicycle speeds downhill.

    Hearing the waterfalls after miles of hiking, and finally seeing its grandeur up close.

    A quiet night away from the city lights, and looking up to stars.

    Reminiscing and laughing about childhood memories during a family gathering.

    A rainbow in the sky, seen after hours of driving back home.

    A night out with friends, singing to the strums of a guitar.

    Completing a successful project after watching and learning about it from YouTube.

    A trip to the museum with loved ones, on a traffic-free holiday morning.

    Seeing fish jumping up and ‘dancing’ as I hover my flashlight on the sea after twilight.

    The taste of freshly squeezed orange juice.

    Running my hand through the soft and clean fur of my dogs, after they dried up from their baths.

    Receiving a personally-made card and/or from my niece.

    The smile in D’s eyes as he sees me from afar, when we both get to our agreed meeting place.

    Check out the other sources of happiness in my first and second blog of the Random Thoughts on Happiness series. 

    Thank you for reading and I wish you a happy, blessed day!

     

     

    Random Thoughts: Happiness Part 2

    blooms

    “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.

     

     

     

     

    Musings and New Year’s Resolutions

    2019

    I woke up today thankful for the year that was and the beginning of a new one. 2018 was mostly awesome and I got to spend time doing things that mattered to me spiritually, emotionally, physically and mentally. I say ‘mostly’ because I still had bouts of anxiety, though I had my prayers and support during these times.

    So on this first day of 2019 I started to transition my journal entries from 2018. As a tradition, I use CBTL’s Giving Journal, because I like the way it makes me plan my month while allowing me to reflect on ways to express more gratitude.

    As I was thinking through what my 2019 would look like, I read through what I said was my new year’s resolutions on January 2018. I wrote:

    I start yoga in 2018. In fact, tomorrow I go to a beginner’s class at TreeHouse Yoga Studio.

    Yikes. I only did that for a couple of months. But at least I was able to stick to the other 2 that I’ve written, namely:

    Read more books.

    To which I was able to bump up my annual target and read 95 books set for the GoodReads 2018 Reading Challenge.

    Serve at the community church.

    Which opened up more channels for me to be able to serve the community.

    Now it took me just a few minutes to put in my resolutions for 2019, because this time I’d continue the things I have already kicked off last year. In essence it’s about the evolution of my journey and the fulfilment of my purpose. I’m also pretty much leaving blank spaces in my list – so I can add more whenever and wherever my journey takes me.

    Happy new year to you! I wish you a peaceful, joyful, blessed, and love-filled 2019!

    Daily Habits for a Blessed Day

    oasis

    It’s been more than two decades since I attended a recollection – if I remember right the last time was when I graduated from high school. Recently I have been serving in our community church and was gifted with an opportunity to participate in a recollection conducted by Reverend Father Lino Nicasio. His tips were somehow similar to what my acupuncturist shared with me (she also practices Reiki, a Japanese form of healing). They shared this with me within two consecutive days – so I took notes because I didn’t want to forget, and I took it as a ‘sign’ to reflect on my own daily way of living.

    I’ll try to go back to this every time that I can until it becomes second nature. For now, I admit it will be a struggle to fully adhere to it, but I have to start somewhere. Baby steps. One foot forward, and hopefully not two steps back.

    1. Today I will not strike back

    I’ll see if I can count to ten when I come across anything that annoys me. Recently I was caught in the middle of family drama and someone bullied a loved one using social media. I had to muster all my willpower to keep calm, and focused my energy on more productive, meaningful work to distract me for that day. I

    2. Today I will ask God to bless my enemy

    Asking for blessings for my enemy may be a challenge, so I remind myself that bitterness will not only affect me in all ways: emotionally, spiritually, intellectually and physically.

    3. Today I will be careful about what I say

    Connected with the first habit, especially when I am tempted to say a sarcastic retort. Also, I will try to remember that words are very powerful, and the impact of good or bad words to other people can last years.

    4. Today I will go the extra mile

    If I reflect on the people whose services I go back to time and time again, they’re the ones that went above and beyond. It’s not just about doing a task or a project or a job. It’s giving it the best every single time.

    5. Today I will forgive

    I know, anger and resentment do no good for the soul. One of my favorite quotes about forgiveness is from Harriet Nelson: “Forgive all who have offended you, not for them, but for yourself.”

    6. Today I will do something kind for someone (but I will do it secretly)

    All good deeds, little or big, will not go unseen by God.

    7. Today I will nurture my body

    For me this means his means eating more fruits and vegetables, avoiding the sedentary lifestyle through ten thousand steps a day, deep breathing, sleeping enough, aromatherapy, drinking enough water, stretching.

     

    Hay Stacks

    Hay stacks

    I haven’t seen these in a long time!Hay stacks

    When I saw them again en route to Sagada and back, I am reminded of how I used to wonder about them when I was a child: what were they for? Are they the same stuff used to build the house of straw of one little piggy (in the story Three Little Pigs)?

    Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Field

    Random Thoughts: Whenever I Walk

    walking

    This is my response to Ragtag Daily Prompt’s RDP Tuesday: WALK.

    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.

    A Photo a Week Challenge: Reflection

    Temple

    I’m a day late in responding to nancy merrill photography’s A Photo A Week Challenge: Reflection. I know the theme had already changed for this week (I will respond to that too – they photo challenges are quite fun). But I just couldn’t let the theme on Reflection pass! I realized as I was digging through old photographs that I did have some photos for this theme. So here they are…

    My take on Reflection: I love the dramatic effect of reflections on water.

    These are are photos taken from travels D and I made from over the last decade. They were all taken by D as he has the eye for good shots.

    The first one is a photo of Kinkakuji, the Golden Pavilion in Kyoto. It is also called Rokuon-ji, and is one of Kyoto’s most iconic sights. When we got here, there were throngs of people getting off tourist buses. We intentionally rented a B&B close by in the hopes that we could get there early before the tourists do – we were wrong. Good thing is that the lines of tourists move quickly. The sun was not yet fully shining at the time, but nevertheless it was a sight to behold. 

    This next photo shows the reflection of the pyramid at Louvre, Paris. It was just after sunset and at the time, we were using our digicam. It took a lot of shots to get this one.

    And lastly, a photo of the reflection of the UNESCO World Heritage site, the Angkor Wat in Cambodia. I’ve always wanted to go back to Siem Reap because there were too many temples I have yet to see. At the time we went there, we were only able to see the bigger, more popular ones. I saw tourists riding bicycles as their modes of transportation to temples and I would really love to do that someday. I also like Siem Reap’s simplicity, and the friendliness of its people. 

    Seeing Kyoto, Paris and Siem Reap were a dream come true. We were just simply in awe by the culture, architecture, and landmarks of these cities.

    Random Thoughts: The Edge

    Odaiba

    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:

    img_5517
    Me on the Edge of a view deck at Sagada, overlooking the Echo Valley.

    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.

    Random Thoughts: Self Change

    sun and clouds

    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.