It’s been quite a while since I last posted; it feels like years even though it’s only a couple of months as so much has happened.
This morning in class, I told my students it felt like I had not met with them for years, even though it was only in July that we said goodbye for the summer break. I forgot how to use some of the features of our virtual classroom.
Though I went to Cebu twice last year, and to Manila this year, I haven’t left the country in over 2 years. The last flight I took was 2 weeks ago, coming home from Manila, and I felt so sorry for myself for feeling nervous about the turbulence.
Before the pandemic, I took 4 flights every month for almost 4 consecutive years, and always took red-eye flights that I was too tired to worry about turbulence.
These days I easily get nervous, scared. I’d rather pay more than take a late afternoon flight. But I know I should overcome this fear.
I still have some traveling to do. I still have to see my husband again.
There’s still so much that needs to be done. There’s still miles to go….
“Living well is the best revenge.” — George Herbert
I feel very fortunate to have come across this aphorism when I was relatively young. I think it was from an episode of Seinfeld that I heard it, and it was the first time it made sense to me because at that time I was rejected by someone I was madly in love with, and he had already moved on.
When I heard Seinfeld say, “The best revenge is living well,” it was like figurative scales came off my eyes, and I thought, “Why do I cry my eyes out when he is having a good time? Why do I let him know that I’m suffering when he is happy with his life? Why do I think he’ll be unhappy if I tell him I’m unhappy? He won’t! Because he doesn’t care!”
It’s amazing how an episode of a sitcom can change one’s life, but that’s what an episode of Seinfeld did for me. It made me realize that I lose if I let the one who broke my heart know that I’d become hopeless without him. I decided I was going to get my revenge by becoming a better version of myself.
A quick summary: I got over him; I’m happily married NOT to him; he and I have become best friends, me becoming his confidante for years now.
This is a lesson I always share with young friends who tell me about being betrayed or dumped by a friend or boyfriend/girlfriend, or adults who, sadly, have hatred for other people.
Harboring anger or hatred towards people is really exhausting because it takes a lot of energy which could be spent on something more productive.
Instead of spending time and energy badmouthing the person you hate or are angry with, use that time and energy trying to feel better, to look better, or to do something that will benefit you — start a hobby or a project, read that book you’ve been putting off reading for years, visit an elderly member of your family, do some gardening, exercise and lose weight and feel and look better. There are so many things worth spending your time and energy on rather than feeling angry with a person who most likely is not spending a single minute thinking of you.
In other words, LIVE WELL. Once you focus on trying to live well, one day you’ll realize that you really don’t care what the other person thinks anymore. And that is going to be such a relief.
I’ve heard angry people say they want the ones who hurt them to suffer. Anyone who was hurt has the right to feel anger, but it is also important to be aware that wishing for others to suffer simply proves that you, yourself, are suffering. Misery loves company after all.
If you let the other person know you are suffering, you lose. He wins.
Snapped this photo earlier from behind the old wet market in my city. I make it a point to stop by this spot whenever I go there either in the early morning or late afternoon. The view never disappoints..
When burdened with life's Unending demands, the soul Needs tranquility.
I’ve been so busy multi-tasking. Once again, I’m a full-time student and on top of that, a full-time teacher.
It’s hard to find time to be quiet when now the only reason I wake up early is to work on projects my professors have asked the class to do. Though I enjoy being a student again, I miss having some quiet time. I miss going up to my property to do gardening or just raking fallen leaves which was what kept me contentedly busy last year.
I do enjoy being busy — I feel I am learning so much from the tasks the professors assign the class; I feel productive making lessons for my own classes in the university; it makes me happy spending time with my son….
Perhaps it’s time I practice being quiet for reflection while busy working or studying. I’d probably end up more productive.
Time is precious. The earlier a person realizes that, the more certain he will be he won’t regret its passing.
Do you remember how we spent hours Talking about everything And laughing about nothing?
Do you remember how we walked for hours Not really knowing where we're going But kept walking anyway?
Do you remember walking in the rain On a rainy April day?
Sadly, you don't. But I do.
And it's sad when you're alone In remembering happy times You spent with those Who have forgotten.
Yesterday I texted with a former co-worker who was once mistaken for my mother when she brought me to her husband’s workplace. We had not seen each other for years, and I was happy catching up with her.
When I reminded her of that time when she brought me to her husband’s workplace and the trip that we took after that which was full of hilarity, she said she had forgotten all that. And it truly made me sad, not just because she had forgotten but also because, I know, one day I will also forget.
A day will come when all those crazy things that made me laugh will be as if they never happened. My friends and I are all getting close to that time when our memories will cease to be memories. No one will remember.
The practical side of me says, “Would it matter that no one remembers when you’re already dead?” No, it wouldn’t matter when I’m dead, but right now when I’m still alive and capable of remembering, I cannot help feeling sad knowing that some of the best times I’ve had with people I care most about have been forgotten by them. Not because they don’t care but because those memories have been buried underneath newer memories and retrieving them is not as easy as it used to be when they were younger.
I, too, am guilty of forgetting many things, and I know one day I will forget walking hand in hand at the park with my husband, reading books with my son, laughing with my family, driving around the city with my best friend, having coffee with my other best friend…
These are all memories which, at the moment, I am still capable of recreating and remembering, but inevitably I will forget. C’est la vie.
When you reach a certain age, You tend to look back at your life The same way you look down At the view from your window seat Thirty thousand feet above the ground.
You see the blueness of the ocean The greeness of the mountains And you marvel at the beauty And feel peace emanating from within you
But then as your plane nears the city You see the unsightly smog hovering over it, The gray waters that surround it Then you get a sinking feeling as the plane descends.
Memories give us the same sense -- Of happiness when we think of the good times, Of loss and sadness when we think of the bad ones. But we can choose to look at the amazing view from our window seat And fasten our seat belt and look straight ahead
I was very busy and stressed out for most of the week, but today I had time to meet with friends I had not seen in about 5 years and we spent the whole day together. They took me to the beach and had breakfast and late lunch together. It was great to catch up and have a really nice conversation.
The resort we went to called Bluewater Maribago in Mactan, Cebu had lovely old trees.
It had been a while since I visited a place that I really liked, and today was a treat.
I would love to come back to this place in the not too distant future.
Taking this trip feels like Going to a battle With only courage As your fuel For which you have a full tank; Experience and knowledge -- Your only ammunition Of which you have barely enough. Yet you go on, you fight On a suicide mission For the future, For the ones you love, For love. For life
I had a very busy November and December, and this busy-ness is not ending with the end of 2020. Yet, I am very grateful for so many things, and I’m sure we all can find things to be grateful for even though we may have suffered some.
But life has always been like that, hasn’t it? We win some; we lose some. We can acknowledge the pain, but we shouldn’t let it stop us from living because life isn’t all pain. There are joys, too. We just have to open our eyes and hearts to them.
Thank you for visiting my blog. I wish you and those you hold dear all the best for 2021. May we all find more reasons to be grateful in this new year. 🙏🙏🙏🙏
After having my flight cancelled five times in the last 5 months, I decided I would not think about when I can actually go back to China and just live my life as if I’m never leaving home again. This decision led me to pick up gardening as a hobby.
Thankfully my sister had postponed throwing away our late mother’s flower pots and plants that badly needed some tending.
And tending I did!
At first my sister was doubtful about my resolve to take over our mother’s garden, but it didn’t take long for her to realize I was serious about it!
Now my morning routine has changed a little: instead of reading the news while having my morning coffee, I now visit my little garden and water some of the plants while having my morning coffee. I get to enjoy a quiet and cool morning seeing green plants (not many flowers yet), and blue sky and also hearing birds chirping.
Tending to the garden is quite relaxing and rewarding. I especially like seeing new leaves come out.
Though I miss my quiet life in China, I’m beginning to readjust to living at home again — I’m slowly finding ways to have some quiet, “me” time despite being busy every day. (I’m typing this at close to midnight.)
Gardening reminds me of the need to be patient — some plants take longer than others to grow, but they will grow if you take good care of them. And when they do, you’ll feel a certain kind of joy that those who have never planted a thing could never understand.
Just as I have to be patient with the plants growing, this pandemic has taught me and a lot of other people, I’m sure, to be more patient as well. These days there’s so much uncertainty, and things change so quickly sometimes and sometimes they don’t. All we can do to stay sane is to let things be when there’s nothing we can do about them, and to always do the best we can with those we have control over.
This is one reason I like gardening. I can plant when I want and feel I have accomplished something when the plants grow. I have control.
I hope you find something to make you feel good about yourself every single day. 🙏
This week Patti challenges us to show how we crop pictures we took, and for people like me who don’t know much about photography, the explanation/reason she gives for cropping her photos, are really helpful.
Before the crop:
As I am not quite good at focus, almost all pictures I take get cropped!
My son has a very infectious smile and laughter. Most of the time though, we don’t know what makes him smile or laugh. We are just happy to see him happy.
Sometimes he makes me say, “dinosaur” and then, “roar!” And that’s enough to make him smile as he walks away from me.
If only our joys could be as simple.
The other day, I got a message from Ahmed asking if I could help promote the comic book he created which features a superhero with Autism. This project aims to spread awareness about Autism. It’s called The Epics of Enkidu. You can click the link to learn more about the project.
This year is the 14th year my husband and I have been married. It may not be that long for those who have been married for at least two decades, but I am grateful we have come this far and are as committed to each other as we were on our wedding day.
As I reflect on my marriage, I feel so grateful that my husband still has the patience to stay married to me. I joked about it with my Facebook friends, but in all honesty, I really am grateful. I am not a very easy person to live with — I can be really mean to my husband, but we do find more reasons to laugh about with each other than reasons for meanness.
I don’t think there’s really any special secret to a lasting marriage — friendship and commitment are all that’s needed.
This week Amy challenges us to post pictures of home.
For years after my father died, my mother was the core of our home — everything planned or decided depended on what was good for her. This was especially true in her last years. Because I worked away from home and only came to visit twice a year, home was my mother.
Though she has passed on, we still keep some of the stuff that was part of her daily routine — such as her rosary beads which she prayed daily, twice a day.
Now that she’s gone, the attention has shifted to the young ones — my son and my nephews.
Where home in the past was the sight of my mother praying and the sound of her voice directing the cleaning of the house, these days it’s the sound of my son’s endless chatter and the banging on (not really playing) the (not computer) keyboard, ukulele and of course the sound of my voice constantly reminding him to quiet down.
Our home is probably the noisiest in our community (thankfully we are all relatives — all first cousins who understand– living in separate detached houses), but for as long as my son is happily noisy making what he thinks is music, I’m fine with it.
I did not participate in the LAPC Challenge for months because of my very busy schedule, but today I am able to squeeze in some time to write a post and John’s chosen theme is something that most of us, I’m sure, can easily find photos for as there are many places we would like to revisit or imagine revisiting at this time when we cannot travel to any place outside our home cities.
The first place I would really go to again as soon as travel bans are lifted is Jimei, where my husband has been living all alone for three months now after my son and I left. Jimei has been my second home for over 17 years, and this is the longest I’ve been away.
Last year, I was so lucky I got to see the U.S. of A. for the first time, and before the virus broke out. I got to see New York and Boston and enjoyed every minute of it. I was looking forward to seeing Washington, DC and Maryland in June this year, but I guess it’s not meant to be.
The one other place I would really love to visit again is South Korea, not just for the place but to see my best friend again.
I hope we all get to travel again soon, and have the chance to revisit places we love and create new memories.
After spending a couple of hours marking papers in McDonald’s (I can’t work at home as I’m always tempted to do something else like doing laundry instead of marking papers!) I went to my favorite noodles shop which was noisy as it was lunch time. Traditional Chinese music blaring from the speakers, a group of young women at a table behind me talking loudly, buses, cars and motorcycles driving past, some honking — so much activity and noise, loud noise.
But as soon as I started thinking of the issue that I’ve spent months thinking about — all those sounds went away. My eyes were only perceiving the movements not quite different from a boring, black-and-white silent movie.
I was figuratively alone in a figuratively quiet but in reality very noisy place.
This made me think of most people’s capacity to tune out noise or to tolerate minor irritants if they truly want to and try. I am saying most people because I believe most of us actually have this capacity to do so, but perhaps there are many who just refuse to even try. And of course there are those who have some sensory or emotion regulation problems who literally cannot stand certain irritants (like my autistic son who does not mind loud music but cries and gets angry when he hears other children crying!)
I have heard and read numerous accounts of people complaining about babies crying during a flight, especially a long haul one. Some reactions and suggestions offered I find quite unhelpful and extremely unsympathetic. I understand that there are parents (or grandparents!) accompanying children on a flight who may not be bothered by the child’s crying and do not care that other passengers are bothered by it. I honestly think these people are in the minority though. Most parents or caregivers on the flights I’ve been on (and I fly several times a year) do try to get the child to be quiet. But yes, there are those who don’t, and their indifference is more annoying than the child’s behavior.
As I said, I have read reactions and comments that are quite unhelpful or are extremely unsympathetic to parents who do try their best to calm down their child (and I believe they do because, let’s be honest, no sane parent loves to hear his/her child cry or be noisy.) Some people said: babies should not be allowed on a flight. This is very unhelpful because these people who complain do not know why the family are traveling. One never knows unless one asks why somebody is traveling — maybe for a holiday, or maybe to see a doctor. But one doesn’t even have to know — everyone has the right to fly and they are paying for it like everyone else.
I have taken several flights with my son, and thankfully he has always behaved himself (we have 2 flights coming I hope I don’t jinx them!) Even as a baby (at 5 months was when he had his first flight), he never cried. But also as a parent, I have always prepared for our flights — toys and gadgets to keep him occupied (I am also lucky that my flights with him are no longer than 2 hours.) However there are babies and young children who are really bothered by ear pressure during flight and parents who do not know how to deal with it. (click here for Tips) When I travel domestically, I usually say something to the parents (fellow Filipinos), “Maybe baby needs his bottle or pacifier?” but in international flights, I tend to keep quiet as the culture is, “Mind your own business.”
There are misbehaving children with parents who let them be and there are babies who cry whose parents just let them be. But there are lots of good parents who do try their best and babies who, for whatever reason, just cry! I hope we can be more sympathetic. We were all babies once — were we always so angelic?
So going back to my main idea — we are capable of tuning out noise or tolerating minor irritants. We surely can if we truly want to and just try. We do not even need noise-cancelling headsets to do this. To prove this, pay attention to how you sometimes tune out your best friend when he’s going on and on about something you’ve already heard a thousand times. That easy.
In response to Amy’s challenge this week, I am using photos I’ve taken in our local supermarket. Two of my favorite fruits are in this collection — mangoes and durian! Yes, durian! I know, for sure, most people dislike the smell of durian, but let me tell you, I love it! And the smell of it makes my mouth water. Lol.
I am a morning person, but my husband isn’t. But once in a while I can get him to go out for a walk with me early in the morning.
This morning we had beautifulweather at 15C (59F)and walking past the lake I spied an egret (one of the few who haven’t migrated south). To me it was a beautiful sight, and made me smile. (I know I sound like a drama queen, but it is that easy to make me feel happy!)
And it came to me that there’s somuch beauty to see early in the morning that people fail to see because they are still in bed. I feel lucky to be able to see and be touched by such a simple sight.
I hope you find something to make you smile today.
Leaving the office today, I looked up at the sky and saw the clouds. I wanted to capture the image of the tree with the clouds as the background, and the result is, to me, much nicer than I imagined. To me, it looks like something I would really like to paint, if only I could!
Last night, for the first time in a long, long time, my husband and I went out to attend a party. This time it was at the Kempinski Hotel. It felt good to go out again and relive those evenings many years ago when we used to go out with friends more often without worrying about adult stuff.
But those night outs aren’t what I’m nostalgic about.
It’s Christmas. Kempinski had nice Christmas trees both in the lobby and outside the hotel, and I felt like a kid again excited about Christmas!
Kempinski Hotel, Xiamen
And Christmas always brings me back to my childhood when our Christmas tree was small and simple and the Christmas presents we got from our parents were not expensive, but we had the tradition of getting up at dawn to go to Mass at 4:30 in the morning (Misa de Gallo, literally Rooster’s Mass). Yes, you read that right. 4:30 in the morning which meant waking up an hour earlier before that to wash up and have something hot to drink!
You would think we were unhappy to be woken up that early, but we were actually pretty excited to hear our mother whispering our names to wake us up.
Christmas tree in our house in the Philippines. Picture taken by my sister
We then walked to church (a 10-minute walk from our house) and would see other churchgoers walking. During Mass, my sisters and I often dozed off especially during homily, but would once again perk up just before the singing of the Lord’s Prayer as it meant close to Communion and the end of the Mass.
After Mass, we would walk to the bakery and buy pan de sal for breakfast.
Life was so simple yet we were happy.
If only I could be a child again, and have my parents worry about things that only adults worry about.
As a child, I loved climbing trees. There used to be guava trees in front of our house before my uncle built his house there and a java apple fruit tree behind one of my aunts’ house, which is behind our house. My grandfather made sure all his 8 children lived in the same place, so where I grew up there are 7 detached houses where my mother and her siblings had built their homes.)
My sisters, cousins and I used to climb the trees in the afternoons and sit on the branches (we were all young and thin!) and pick fruits. We were all pretty good at climbing back then. (I can probably still climb but I don’t think any of my sisters or cousins will dare! Lol!)
So whenever I see a tree, I judge it as being climbable or not. Part of me really wants to climb when I see street trees (here they are mango trees) , but living in the city, I don’t want to embarrass myself. A couple of years ago, I went to visit my former professor and he had a very climbable tree in his yard, so I asked if I could climb and sit in it. Being eccentric himself, he said, “Why not?” So, I did!
Sitting in a tree gives me a wonderful feeling of being safe and worry-free, especially when I hear the rustle of the leaves when the wind blows.
At my age now, I see a lot of trees that were I ten years younger, I would consider climbable, but can only look at with a sigh. I wish I could teach my son to climb a tree. That would probably need hundreds more of occupational therapy sessions, but who knows.
“Into each life, some rain must fall.– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
It’s that time of year again — cold and raining. And the thoughts that crossed my mind last year, surfaced again this year as I walked by the lake and felt the cold wind on my skin.
Funny how such ordinary things as the rustling of leaves, the breeze on one’s skin, the chirping of birds can bring back a flood of memories — all those feelings from years ago come back and seem so fresh. Yet, you are brought back to reality as soon as you tell yourself, “That was then, this is now. And now you are wasting time and energy thinking about it.”
My best friend has told me many times I think too much of the past, that the future is more important. Maybe so.
But one has no control over what comes to mind, or does one? I can shake off thoughts that come to mind, but there is no way I can stop these thoughts from entering my mind. Even saying, “I will not think about it,” is proof that I AM thinking about it.
Walking in the winter rain does this to me all the time — full of drama in the head. But this too shall pass.
Hope you have a lovelier weather than what I have in my neck of the woods.