Jul 262015
 

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My previous post earned a conversation with a concerned friend who thought I might be clinically depressed or suffering from concealed depression (aha, a brand new disease !). Like I said in the post, I am not prone to depression, but this does not mean I have not felt despair, sadness and grief. I have. I am somewhere in that well now, but slowly finding my way back to the surface.

Now, I know myself, but I also like to guard against denial. I went online after we hung up and read several articles on depression, even took a few quizzes, enough to confirm what I already know: I’m just sad, and I know it’s something that comes with my life experiences of late. If I went into detail, you would agree that it is a very sad time, indeed. Continue reading »

 Posted by at 4:32 pm
Jul 182015
 
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photo from flowersavenue.com

I have been underwater lately; it has been a year of tough lessons and unexpected reckoning. I am not prone to depression, not one to wallow, but these days levity and laughter are elsewhere. Humor has always been my fall back, reliable beacon, my go-to-light at the end of all of life’s tunnels. But not this time. Still, I refuse to accept it has abandoned me.

On a morning when I could barely keep my head above water, I noticed a family of three walking–sisters and their father. As my car passed them, he flashed a smile at my tinted window. He didn’t mean to, I think; It was already there. It was relaxed, content, full of quiet joy.

A short distance later I saw a boy of about four aiming his face at the breeze just beyond the family car window. On him I saw radiant joy and certainty, as if he knew it would always be his.

Joy. It is everywhere. There will be moments when it will elude you, when you will feel it has left, but on that day I learned the next best thing–to look outside and find it there. For now it is outside you, and it is enough to know it is within reach.

 Posted by at 1:43 pm
Feb 162015
 

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I recently had a talk with my godson about marriage. His friends seem to be diving in, left and right, and he’s having to fly to different places to attend weddings and christenings. Part of him was feeling a little odd being one of two in his group who is still single, but it was clear he had many questions about the institution. I told him I had as many and feel marriage to be painfully outdated given our present context.

We are different human beings today, evolving towards becoming more and more ourselves (hopefully), so more and more marriages are ending up torn and frayed, if not completely shattered. Religion certainly has not helped in this area. There is much talk about fidelity, forever, sin, morality, God, but not much about the necessary and spiritual evolution of the self, and how this can happen authentically within the same space. Isn’t this what marriage can be–a conscious spiritual endeavour, the nurturing of shared space that allows each individual freedom and self-actualization over time, the recognition and honoring of each other’s essence, learning to love in truth, first ourselves and then another? I move towards these points each time I think about marriage and all its possibilities. Continue reading »

 Posted by at 7:36 pm
Nov 242014
 

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I’ve been spending a lot of time with mine. I am an introvert, so this is portentous. I seek them out, listen to their often hilarious but wise counsel, and mostly fill myself with abundant gratitude for who they are and all they mean to me.

On a birthday that veered towards abject sadness, they rallied. We buried our hands in clay and made imperfect pottery, all the while making fun of the beautiful mess of our lives. We tormented our teacher with endless inappropriate remarks, laughed even more, sang while we kneaded, and held each other’s stories close. We shared a meal and snickered as the waiters slunk away from our vehement fun.

Shortly after, still on the birthday theme, I travelled with two of them–something I haven’t done since my early twenties. I had the best time chatting, exploring, getting lost, eating with joy and gusto, having our faces made up by strangers who did their best with what we had; We are in our late forties after all. But we laughed even through that and invented jokes about the many undiscovered (until now) uses of our most reliable concealer, all the while acknowledging — if not finding ways to humor — the heartbreak in the room. I chat with these two nearly everyday. We are never far away from each other. Continue reading »

 Posted by at 2:32 pm
Apr 032014
 

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I’ve been very quiet since Yolanda and going through a sort of crisis.  There was so much to do and such incredible noise around it.  All of a sudden volunteerism became all about selfies and narcissistic posts.  I just couldn’t get into the culture.  And that made me look twice at the stuff I write and wonder if there was still space for it in today’s obsession with lists, quizzes, travel posts, witty one-liners and other “look how clever I am” entries.  I rebel at the thought of having to post and promote my own writing.  Then D. said just this morning, “But how else will you do it today ?”.

I honestly don’t know. Continue reading »

 Posted by at 12:59 pm
Oct 102013
 

 

 

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Many years ago, during a particularly difficult time, I was sitting in pained silence as we flew above a sea of flame trees.  I was sinking deeper into despair, even as I found joy in the sea of orange before and below me. Then I heard it: “find your voice”. It was loud enough so that I looked around, only to find that everyone was looking elsewhere. No one was speaking, nor looked as though they had just spoken. Come to think of it, was there really a sound to the message? Maybe not. But it was so clear. Continue reading »

 Posted by at 5:07 pm
Nov 192012
 

October is my birth month and this year it was very busy. I normally have very quiet birthdays. I’ve had only two birthday parties consciously and willingly planned and celebrated by me: one when I turned 16, and the other when I turned 35. I’ve never been big on celebrating my own birthday.

This year, the day was both difficult and extra special.  A much-loved member of my family responded to a reprimand by refusing to acknowledge the day.  That was painful. But then the universe worked extra hard to ease my pain anyway.

First, my little boy came into my room at 6:30am. This is a boy who likes to stay in bed long after I’ve woken him up, so it meant he had set his alarm and willed himself to rise.  His effort, radiant smile and standing hair were enough to make my day, but he came in bearing a gift anyway. It was an extra special birthday book he illustrated and put together himself, then wrapped every so carefully (yes, in plastic). He even made a ribbon out of popsicle sticks. My pictures suck, but I wanted you to get a glimpse of the things that tugged at my 46-year-old heart. Continue reading »

 Posted by at 3:29 pm
Dec 082011
 

 

 

A well-organized space is a sight to behold. It makes me want to dance. This is true of our internal spaces as well. How often have we foisted our emotions on the wrong people, at the wrong time and for all the wrong reasons?

Just like our outer spaces, our emotions need organizing. There are times when our emotions become bigger than us, because we fail to see them objectively. I suppose it’s normal. It is difficult to see ourselves objectively and emotions do tend to run away from us, but that’s why it’s so important to make an effort to put them where they belong.

Recently, a parent nearly traumatized his child over schoolwork, when his frustration was really directed at the child’s school and what he felt was their negligence in providing him with the proper foundational skills. He was angry at the school, but he let his anger leak out towards his child.  Did that solve anything? No, it created more pain. That’s what happens when we are not conscious of our emotions and WHERE they belong.

We can live with our emotions for years until they become habit. We are angry, very angry, but we don’t really know why anymore, or where we ought to put it, so it leaks out everywhere until we bubble up and burst, causing irreparable damage everywhere.  What a mess we make when we let our emotions rule us.

If we are aware of our points of anger, rage, frustration and pain, we can make an effort to examine them–with the goal of seeing them objectively. Where does it belong? What was the source? Am I taking it too far now? Have I let it become bigger than it is? Is it time to put it to rest, or do I need to dust it off and re-shape it? Where does it belong today?

It’s easier said than done, I know, but it’s a useful practice and one that allows us to manage our emotions, rather than the other way around.

I grew up with very volatile, emotional people and that taught me to be the opposite:  organized, methodical, cool, calm, because I know that big, obtrusive emotions can wreak indescribable havoc. As an adult, I had to adjust by telling myself it’s okay to be angry and hurt, as long as I don’t inflict it on others.  I am still working on that and it helps me to have a picture just like the one I posted above. I tell myself that as long as I can put my feelings and emotions in context, I will not behave abhorrently towards others.

That’s the goal, really, to make sure we do not impose our emotions on others. Emotions can be so powerful that we tend to think they are RIGHT, and sometimes this leads to misplaced indignation. But, emotions are only arrows that give direction. There is no right or wrong there. I believe they are indicators of what we need to look at and work on in our biography. And it would do us well to pay attention, take a step back, breathe, and later on see where everything belongs.

Wouldn’t it be great if our inner spaces could look organized, yet creative, orderly yet unfixed?

I think so.

 Posted by at 1:35 pm
Dec 062011
 
Love the detail

I had a great time shopping at TALA a few weekends ago. TALA is the brainchild of Mavis Fuentebella and some like-minded moms. I love the stylishness, the fabrics and the price points of these clothes. There was a time I could only look wistfully at the TALA clothes because I found them too short, but recently Mavis started designing longer dresses, so I finally made a few purchases! And just when I was getting excited about TALA, she launched Grubbies. Grubbies is the active lifestyle line. I’m more the Grubbies type, since I don’t do a lot of dress-up events anymore.  They are comfy, well-designed pieces that take  you through the day in understated style. I love Grubbies!!!

 

Happy colors!

 

 

Great color palette!

 

Earth tones and textures.

 

Mavis and her mom partners have a great arrangement. They’re all moms first and that’s understood. So when someone has to be home or with a child, that takes priority. Everyone defines his commitment to this endeavor. I love that. It gives everyone freedom. From the way it looks, the arrangement is working beautifully.  Every woman has a creative and entrepreneurial expression, without the pressure of being away from home and the children.

 

TALA dress with JO accessories

 

Did I tell you that they collaborate with Joyce Oreña as well? She makes the most amazing accessories and I’m always trying to veer away from her counter so as not to involuntarily give up my wallet.

 

Mavis and husband, Jim, making sure the kids of customers are happily busy while mom shops.

 

This season, you can find Tala and Grubbies at Unit 103, Three Salcedo Place, Tordesillas St., Salcedo Village, Makati. They are open Thursdays-Saturdays, 10am-6pm, and Sundays from 12nn-6pm.

 

Natural beauty, Mavis, with my favorite Grubbies denim bag. I use it for everything.

 

There is so much to love about this initiative, but the thing I love most is that it’s 100% Filipino made. The price points are good and you know you’re getting value for money and supporting a local business as well.

Congratulations to TALA, Grubbies, Mavis and her team!!

 Posted by at 8:59 am
Nov 012011
 

 

How old is your relationship and how are you and your partner towards each other? I’ve been in the midst of falling-apart relationships and I’m aghast at how unkind partners can be towards one another.  Time, I know, has to do with it–familiarity breeds contempt and all that–but does it have to be? Must we march so resolutely towards the inevitable?

In the beginning your partner will do everything lovingly and willingly for you. As the relationship settles and loses its glow, this compulsion to actively care for you fades. When in the beginning he would drive you up to any entrance, today he won’t even carry an umbrella because a slight drizzle won’t hurt you and don’t you see what a hassle it is to have to bring one? In the beginning there is joy in your conversations, today there are moments of sharpness, a shard of coldness in the eyes, impatience and worse, the inability to see the frost that is claiming your  shared inner spaces.  Where before you would stop the world to air grievances, today you’re just too tired;  let the chips fall where they may. Whatever.

Isn’t it possible for time to bring the opposite into our relationships instead? Couldn’t time bring more kindness, tenderness, sensing and caring?

It is if you decide it. Hold your tongue when you’re about to spew spike-laced words.  Show up on time. Show up at all. Be true to your word. Bring the umbrella. It’s a hassle to bring one, but if it makes my partner feel cared for, it isn’t. Be patient. Dull the sharpness, melt the chill. It takes but a moment of consciousness to step out and make a change.

Kindness. The word feels so inert, but there’s so much in there that goes towards keeping a relationship healthy. Let time build warmth and kindness between you instead.  Make a promise to yourself to try anyway. If there is love, will it, and let it be so.

 Posted by at 9:50 am