Happiness is a letter E

Last week I ran into a co-worker who had not seen me in a while, and she asked me how I was doing and how my son was doing. She knows my son is on the spectrum, so when she asked me about my son, I excitedly told her I would show her something that shows my son’s progress. And she looked so eager waiting to see a picture of my son.

But when she finally saw what I had wanted to show her — the picture above, I saw the dramatic change in her facial expression — one of pity, which just made me laugh saying, “I know my happiness is too simple!”

At 8 years old, my son just learned how to trace the first letter of his name, E. I was ecstatic. My sisters were so excited. My husband was so moved. This picture of his first letter E kept me smiling for days. And when my co-worker saw me that day, I was still “high” from that letter E! LOL.

I fully understand why my co-worker felt sorry for me — she then talked about how there are good schools in other countries — but we see the progress in my son’s slow progress. And every progress is something that brings us happiness and are thankful for.

My son is fortunate to have teachers and therapists who have so much patience to teach him. He is blessed to have my sisters and my nephews who love him for who and what he is. And we are all blessed to have him who has taught us that happiness does not have to come from big, expensive stuff.

Happiness can come from a simple drawing of a letter E. ❤️

May you find happiness in simple things.

T.

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Smiling for a good mood

One thing I miss about being in my country is seeing the smile of people, especially early in the morning. Filipinos, in general, are a happy people, and we don’t think highly of people who are grumpy early in the morning. Even now that I have been living in a foreign country for 12 years, I still cannot understand (or maybe I do but I just cannot accept the answer) why it is so hard for people to smile, or be courteous early in the morning. (Perhaps because they don’t shower in the morning but in the evening?)

Last time I was in my home country I had to stay in a hotel in Cebu for a couple of days, and, close to the hotel is a 7-Eleven store. I went there a couple of times early in the morning, and each time, the security guard opened the door for me with a smile and said, “Good morning, Ma’am” (well, “mom” actually, if you know what I mean.) The young staff were just as courteous and smiling, and their smiles just made me feel like “Yeah, it’s a beautiful day!”

It’s amazing how people’s facial expressions can influence other people’s mood for the day. Having the habit of watching my emotions, I am always aware of how I cannot seem to get rid of a bad feeling just because somebody frowns at me (maybe the person is thinking of something else and just happens to look at me); conversely, I can be happy all day just because somebody smiles at me or greets me in the morning!

“It only takes a split second to smile and forget, yet to someone that needed it, it can last a lifetime.” 
― Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free

These words are so true. If I get a smile from this person, I’m sure I’d remember it for the rest of my life!

Bradley Cooper
A smile you can remember for a lifetime! (Photo source)

😍😍😍😍

Here are some of my favorite quotes about “Smiles” and “Smiling”. What are yours?

“Everytime you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.” ― Mother Teresa

“You’re never fully dressed without a smile.” – Martin Charnin

“A smile is happiness you’ll find right under your nose.” – Tom Wilson

“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.” ― Thich Nhat Hanh

“Always remember to be happy because you never know who’s falling in love with your smile.” – Unknown

Serenity in Solitude

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The other day I read about a father who sang a song and played the guitar for his dying baby.

I couldn’t stop crying, and just wanted to hold my sleeping Eli as tightly as I could.

There is so much pain and suffering in this world, but since I was 19, I have always believed and seen pain and suffering coming to an end, joy taking their place, and making people stronger, until the next round of pain and suffering comes.

A friend once called me masochistic because I said I liked feeling sad and experiencing pain because the experience made me think and introspect, thereby making me know myself better. And thinking and introspecting always give me peace and the energy to go on living in such an absurd world.

When I am down or just want to vanish from this world, I am blessed enough to remember the only time I had a one-week retreat in a Carmelite Monastery by the sea. It was so long ago, almost twenty years ago when I was at the height of searching for answers to questions that my mother worried were driving me crazy. (She always complained that it took me forever to finish doing the dishes because I was always lost in thought!)

For one week I was mostly alone in a 4-story building that was the retreat house. My retreat guide came to visit me twice and did not stay longer than two hours each time. I had a room on the top floor which was close to the big balcony that faced the sea, where every half an hour, a ferry from the west port would cross to the south port. I stayed out in the balcony in late afternoons and waited for the sky to turn from orange to gray and then black; and then the lights from the ports came on, and I could see the lights from the ferry moving in the darkness. In the morning I went to a wooden gazebo on stilts right in the water connected to the retreat house by footbridge made of bamboo. I would listen to the sound of the small waves as they hit the bamboo stilts underneath, smell the briny scent of seawater, and hear the occasional squawk of a bird overhead. These images, sensations come back to me as clearly as the time I was there.

My theosophist friend with whom I used to spend a lot of time talking TO (she just listened most of the time, bless her) once told me that one reason we miss somebody or something too much when they/its gone, is that when they were there, we did not give our whole self to them. Our mind perhaps wandered to somewhere else, and so our experience of them was incomplete. So that time when I was on a retreat, I made sure I was completely there. I watched,listened and felt my surroundings. I will say I miss being there, but I can also “go back” to that place whenever I need to. I can have a few minutes of peace and serenity just by remembering my time in that retreat house.

I do not mean to offend people who suffer because I, too, have suffered, but I find beauty in suffering and pain. I get energy from knowing that this suffering would come to an end, and when it does, I will experience joy, and it will be very sweet just as sweet food tastes even sweeter after eating bitter food.

But to find beauty in suffering, one needs to get away from everything. One needs to be quiet and look within to be able see better what is outside. This is nothing new, and I’m not trying to sound like an expert on this subject, but I speak (write) from experience.

These days it is extremely difficult to have some real quiet. People cannot get away from their cellphones. For everything that happens in their life, no matter how trivial, they feel somebody else has to know. Or they feel they have to know what other people are up to. People are so concerned with what they look like on the outside that they have forgotten to look within and know themselves, who they really are and of what they are capable. There is more self-absorption than self-awareness    , and it does not help anyone.

I hope we can all find time, especially when we are down, to get away from it all and go to a place –physical and/or spiritual — where we can recharge and be better equipped to face life’s absurdities.

Have a pleasant week!