Evening Sky

Imagine
the twilight sky after it’s been washed by rain
One of the coolest sights you can ever behold…
No moon nor stars;
Just sunset hues of fiery orange and gold;
Smoky greys and cotton whites —
What a dramatic sweep across the once blue heavens,
Now merging fading light and deepening dark
Yet
Weeping hearts in wait of an unforeseen tomorrow
Remain drenched in tears

Evergreen

Unusual Form

Unusual, this week’s photo challenge of The Daily Post ~~

I call this Shamrock my “butterfly” plant, as you can see from its shape,  quite unique for me.

From dusk to early morn, its deep purple petals close to sleep away the night, just like how many flowers do. Its tiny lilac flowers make this plant even more special.

Then one afternoon, perhaps due to the close angle shot I took– my Shamrock “butterfly” plant gave me a picture of an unusual form. See it?

Unusual

9 Nuggets of Wisdom Harvested from Farmville

For some years, I was busy planting crops, fruit trees, vegetables and a rich variety of plants on my moderate-sized farm, which I also surrounded with ornamental plants, shrubs, and trees to make my farm look inviting.

I also raised farm animals, like hens, cows, pigs, horses, and took care of some domesticated animals like cats. Through time, I was able to grow my farm, even building structures inside, until it looked more like an estate fit for royalty. <BIG Laugh>

I did ALL these on most nights, and more so, on the weekends. Full of excitement, I’d rush home from school each evening, hurriedly finishing some chores, and teacher’s stuff, so I could sit at my desk, relax in front of my laptop to begin playing the much in-demand game at the time: FARMVILLE, by the Zynga Company. The original version, no less.

Each harvest I made, each acquisition and expansion I did, would of course send thrills up and down my spine – as if it were real. You know that feeling? If only my students then knew how their strict teacher who’d make them cry in class would transform into a giddy child with this game. And guess who would share my excitement of farming? Who else, no other than my ever patient and bemused Dad…Hahaha!

At first, he would only indulge me as he listened nonchalantly to my endless tales of feeding my livestock, tilling the soil, planting, watering, fertilizing, then reaping the fruits of my diligent efforts, and of decorating and expanding my beloved farm.

Then as he saw how little by little my farm was growing, and getting more enticing by the day, my Dad also became just as thrilled. As if my farm were real, and my life depended on it.

Yet, Farmville was also a tiring game in the sense that you’d have to be patient in waiting for the new crops, plants and trees to grow, blossom, and bear forth so that you can harvest heaps and heaps of blooms, vegetables, and fruits — for your own use, or for storage, or for sale in your own yard. You’d have to do all the things a real farmer does on his real farm, and more.

With that said, I did come to harvest a lot – a bushel of life’s wisdom. I never realized it at first, but deeper into the game, I thought this might really be the goal of the game. So, here are some nuggets to share.

  • Patience. That’s the #1 lesson I learned. You cannot hurry things if you want to achieve your goals well. No shortcuts. You need to be thorough. Otherwise, your crops wilt; your animals die.
  • Perseverance. You need to persevere no matter how hard the task is. If you want to reach your goal, don’t quit.
  • Focus. When you have a goal to reach, distract yourself not by any challenges you meet. Instead, use them to your advantage, as you keep moving forward to your aim. Also, do not listen to naysayers. Just keep moving on.
  • Cooperation. You cannot grow or prosper by your own efforts alone. It is often through joint efforts with others — your family, neighbors, community — that you can achieve your shared vision, shared goals. Harvest is sweet, as you reap the fruits of shared toil.
  • Diligence. Water the plants of your dreams with constant work and tireless effort. You cannot succeed in life if you easily give up or fail to do your part. Your dreams will not just fall down from the sky.
  •  Creativity. Living life is an art, so be creative in your approach in building up your dreams as you make them come true. Strive to be unique. Use your own individuality to express yourself and inspire others to better themselves.
  • Helpfulness. You gain more when you help others achieve their goals. Not only will you build good relationships and good vibes, but you can count on others when time comes you need help.
  • Time consciousness. Far from just the cliché that the early bird catches the worm, being on time for all your important activities – getting to school or work, seeing a doctor at a first sign of illness, resolving family or money issues, and even throwing garbage out — can save you from troubles.
  • Investing wisely. Farmville has shown that without spending more, you cannot grow your farm. So it is in real life, you cannot become rich or wealthy if you do not invest your money wisely. You need to cultivate the mindset of an entrepreneur so you can harvest even in lean times.

So there you are…just some of the choicest harvests from my “farm” @Farmville. I don’t think there’s any other online, social media game that can come quite close to it.

 

 

 

Embracing Aloneness

I enjoy being alone. I’ve gotten used to it by now.

With adult children leading their own busy lives, this is just how my life is. Being alone most of the time.

But because I come from a big family myself, sometimes I can’t help feeling lonely.

I still long for company at mealtimes, or when I feel a conversation with another human being is more palatable than talking with my plants, or the occasional lizard that makes itself visible to me.

This reminds me. Lizards are such friendly creatures. They mean no harm when they jump at you. You only scare them. That’s why.

A lizard can recognize you as somebody familiar – and if it knows you are not out to harm it, will even greet you when it sees you. How? It looks you straight in the eye; does not run away from you. It even inches closer to you — all because it knows it’s safe with you. You are a friend.

Going back to being alone, I find ways to balance the need for companionship by staying connected with family and friends. Plus the fact I still have a myriad of things to do to occupy my hours with.

I remember taking photographs of lizards in the house, and one lovely creature at a mall. You see, I feel like I’ve developed a special bond with these quiet beings that they’ve become among my willing subjects!

Truth is I do feel really lonely at times, but I just amuse myself in that way. Soon my loneliness dissipates; I’m back again to savoring my alone-time, and embracing my aloneness.

With that said, being alone doesn’t necessarily make you feel lonely. But this can also be hard for some, I understand, like parents who have to deal with the empty-nest syndrome, for example.

So here comes the value of having your own life. Of keeping your own circle of friends.

Of dreaming and fulfilling your goals; of pursuing your own interests and passions.

Carve your own life.

Most of all, do Not become too dependent on others for your personal happiness. Sounds harsh?

Think again.

If you are able to embrace your aloneness, you become stronger. Instead of depending too much on others for becoming happy, you can draw upon your interior strength and joy.

Do not define yourself as being somebody for another one – that is, you are not just a daughter, nor a sibling, nor a wife or a mother – to the point of losing your own identity.

Do not limit yourself to the roles you’ve designated for yourself, or to the expectations society has of you. You are your own person.

On the other hand, you may have company, but if you are just like a moving shadow to people around you, then that must be quite hurtful. Have you ever experienced being treated this way?  It can happen. You may or may not have a role in it. Not everything can be under your control, too.

The point is, you need to grow from your need to be with people around you. You should learn to appreciate your solitude. As one apt quote says: “But many of us seek community solely to escape the fear of being alone. Knowing how to be solitary is central to the art of loving. When we can be alone, we can be with others without using them as a means of escape.” 

To sum up, you can be alone without being lonely. You can find ways to still remain happy and fulfilled just being by your lonesome. Accept being alone, and become enriched by your new experiences.

 

 

Cherished Habit

“Above all, do not lose your desire to walk: Every day I walk myself into a state of well-being and walk away from every illness; I have walked myself into my best thoughts.” –Soren Kierkegaard

I like this quote…how it sounds like and resonates with my idea of being able to relax, with nothing in mind, but just being in the moment -without even having to think about finding myself.

Especially since I have moved into a community where walking is inescapable. Almost everything I need is within short walking distance. This makes me imagine I am in another place. Not that I do not appreciate this place. In fact, it makes me appreciate this place even more because of the image it conjures for me ~~ that of New York, my fantasy place.

I also like the idea I can walk at leisure, but I can only do so when running errands <laugh>

Thus to “have walked myself into my best thoughts” while am sitting or quietly doing my tasks in an ordinary busy day, is a habit I cherish.

Thinking while in motion, and going deep into myself while I’m absorbed in a physical task is what I do best. It is where my most creative ideas come through.

Yet from time to time, I yearn to walk – to truly walk at leisure – enjoying the spots I pass through — to dive into the moment, so that I do not have to go inside myself, but to be with the outside world. In that case, I become more attuned to myself.

There is a need for me to balance between motion and stillness moving from my inner self to the world outside, or conversing with the many thoughts running in my mind. That is how I get my energy and purpose — be able to get hold of myself for now — when I immerse into my thoughts or my feelings or relishing the different emotions, as I enjoy watching the people or spots I  pass by.

These days, as I do my errands, I walk with purpose, taking note of what is going on at the moment.

But I need to be mindful; otherwise, I tend to forget. To avoid this, I make a list or a note to myself. Then I can just abandon myself to the moment, as I shift from one task to another, from one errand to another.

Given a chance, I’d love to walk long distances as well, where there is nature beckoning. Just like in the books or movies. So sad I do not live near a park.

 

This post is a response to the weekly writing prompt by Ms.Laura Davis, through her site, The Writer’s Journey Roadmap

 

“I’m Busy Now”

How many times have you received this response from someone you’ve been counting on – for company, or support, or a listening ear? Perhaps not just once, and most likely, you might have also given such response to someone you want to fend off.

Yes. This is often the lame excuse we give anyone who we deem as a burden on our time. Most of us are guilty of doing this – rebuffing someone.

For example, I’ve been hearing a lot of this lately, as I’ve been trying to invite friends to our business presentations in the office. And as expected, this would be a natural response especially from those who have outdated notions of what a business networking is all about. So even before getting ahead and hoping to change a few mindsets about this kind of business, and the exciting opportunities our company has, all I often get is “I’m busy for now.” I don’t mind, of course. I do that too, to others wanting my undue attention for things I have little interest.

Yet, it sorts of makes me uncomfortable as well, when I approach the same people, but for a different purpose. Now, that kind of response – being too busy, whatever… is somehow a disturbing thought.

As we come to think of it, there’s always something to be busy about in our day-to-day life. Many things are indeed essential for us to pay attention to. For most of us, we do not really run out of things to be busy about.

The question is whether our busyness contributes to our growth as a human person, or diminishes our humanity.

Are the things that keep us busy meaningful for our lives, for our relationships?

You can easily know how much meaning you give to others, or your place in others’ lives when “I’m busy” or worse, “I’m too busy” becomes the normative response.

This quote on priorities by Dr. Steve Maraboli strikes at the very point of my message:

When someone tells you they are too “busy” … it’s not a reflection of their schedule; it’s a reflection of YOUR spot on their schedule.

Other quotes worth pondering:

It’s not about “having” time. It’s about making time.

A person being “too busy” is a myth. People make time for the things that are really important to them. – Mandy Hale

Think about it then. How do you relate to others, especially to people who count on you the most? And how do you feel on the receiving end of being less of a priority in someone’s life or time?

Times when all someone needs is a little time to be heard, for emotional or moral support. Perhaps if we put ourselves in another’s shoes, it will be easier to give a little bit more time, a little bit more of ourselves for the other person. Then this world will be a better place each time.

 

 

 

On a Sunday Morning

I go to have brunch at one of my favourite hangouts, right after church. Being Sunday, the small resto which serves breakfast meals 24/7 is filled and people keep trooping in. Diners already taking their meals do not seem to hurry.

I order an egg & mushroom omelette meal, a mug of brewed coffee, plus a slice of tuyo. As I wait, I become a bit self-conscious, as I didn’t bring my mobile phone to keep me company.

Perhaps, that’s one use of cell-phones – it keeps you from looking bored, boring, or like a pathetic sore thumb. Having one with you creates a safety net around you, keeping at bay unwanted intruders, or lets you blend with the rest of the nameless faces around you, all attached to that ubiquitous gadget in their hands.

So I let my eyes wander unobtrusively around the small confines of the café: a family just finished with their breakfast and soon leaves. A couple takes their place, locking themselves in an intimate chat with each other. To my left, a family of three is taking their sweet time. At the farther end of the room, another family squeezes themselves into the tiny corner, begin to peruse the menu, place their order, and start to converse animatedly.

In a short while, the family of three, perhaps aware of the growing number of customers coming in, gives way to a group of young cheerful friends. More diners stride in, some still drowsy from sleep – this café being inside our residential complex; others from the same community Mass earlier.

It’s a typical family day in this cozy nook, its ambience made warm, almost homey, by its dainty pastel-colored country-style décor and layout, combined with the aroma of appetizing food wafting from the small kitchen.

Despite being crowded at the moment, quiet engulfs the space amid the soft chattering of voices, and occasional clattering of utensils against plates.

In an instant, my eyes spot a man, all by himself, talking on his phone. He too waits for his order to be served. Shortly, his companion arrives. Looks like his wife. He acknowledges her arrival, but remains hooked to his phone.

Their meals are brought, but obviously, the man isn’t done yet with his call, nor has any intention of cutting it. As they commence eating, the man continues paying more attention to his friend at the other end of the line, rather than to the person in front of him.

I feel upset. I think how rude, inconsiderate, disrespectful of him to ignore her throughout their shared meal. Here she is having a meal together with her hubby at that small round table, yet the distance between them must be wide. I’m just imagining of course. She may know who the other person is, and the nature or urgency of that phone conversation?!? So she may understand. And it’s okay with her I guess.

The group of friends nearby are each on their phones, too, while talking or sharing a laugh or two. They seem to – well really enjoy each other’s company, even though their eyes are glued on the screen of their phones.

As with the rest of most people nowadays – this is a common scene, be it at home, at work, in the malls, or elsewhere.

One video comes to mind – that of a dolphin undersea who goes up to a diver, takes his hand, to rub his belly. We are used to domestic pets doing this. The point is, even animals yearn for interaction from humans, but humans are getting more and more inclined to create, enjoy virtual relationships – through their electronic gadgets.

What an utter sad, wrong way of using technology. Our mobiles/laptops/tablets/computers are meant to augment – never to replace or destroy — our face-to-face interactions. You hear of family members, texting each other, even though they are just there in their home. You see them eating together, almost mechanically because some seem more attentive to their phones than on the food, totally oblivious of their moms or dads or siblings.

Back in my time, our elders used to remind us, “Eating is like praying.” Sadly, the sacredness of family time today is marred by the intrusion of these electronic gadgets. Many families no longer communicate on a deeper, intimate level.

Communication gadgets are without doubt helpful in times of emergency, and when we are separated by physical distance from the important people in our lives.

Yet, how can strong, meaningful relationships ever thrive when communication is driven solely by technology? Where have good table manners gone? Well, just some food for thought, folks.

Oh, here comes my breakfast now. I’m asking for an additional order of fried garlic rice because I forget they serve two slices of buttered toast to go with the omelette. Hmmm, not good with the tuyo.

 

 

 

In the Stillness

The depths of the human heart always long for silence and solitude. ~~ Felix O. Magallanes

I speak for myself and these words ring true for me. I need to connect with my inner self for my spiritual nourishment. It may be because I’m reflective by nature. My energy easily depletes when I cannot find even a little time for silence. Silence.

But I believe that for most people this must be true as well. We’ve heard of stories of the rich, the famous and beautiful, the accomplished, who at the end of the day find themselves feeling empty.

Perhaps in the busyness of their lives, they haven’t yet journeyed deep within where they could seek the real meaning of their lives. For it is in the stillness of the human heart that discernment takes places. It is where one can communicate with the Higher Being, or for us Christians, with the Holy Spirit and listen to the voice of God.

In the stillness of the human heart also comes the rumblings of the soul as it takes in all the negativity that whirl around – the world being an imperfect place. And the soul cannot hush itself as long as the cries of the anguished are ignored. For deep within the human heart is the thread that binds each to one another.

To better appreciate this truth, and to encourage us to find a deeper mission in our lives, here is an excerpt from John O’Donohue, whose books, such as “Anam Cara,” “Eternal Echoes,” and “Divine Beauty” are – in the words of one of my nun-friends – consoling and reassuring to read…that calls and awakens all that is noble in the human heart.

THE VOICE OF YOUR OWN SOUL
When you take the time to draw on your listening-imagination, you will begin to hear this gentle voice at the heart of your life. It is deeper and surer than all the other voices of disappointment, unease, self-criticism and bleakness. All holiness is about learning to hear the voice of your own soul. It is always there and the more deeply you learn to listen, the greater surprises and discoveries that will unfold. To enter into the gentleness of your own soul changes the tone and quality of your life. Your life is no longer consumed by hunger for the next event, experience or achievement. You learn to come down from the treadmill and walk on the earth. You gain a new respect for yourself and others and you learn to see how wonderfully precious this one life is. You begin to see through the enchanting veils of illusion that you had taken for reality. You no longer squander yourself on things and situations that deplete your essence. You know now that your true source is not outside you. Your soul is your true source and a new energy and passion awakens in you.
John O’Donohue
Excerpt from BEAUTY

You may want to read and digest more inspiring quotes from John O’Donohue through this link.

I love this in particular: “If you send out goodness from yourself, or if you share that which is happy or good within you, it will all come back to you multiplied ten thousand times. In the kingdom of love there is no competition; there is no possessiveness or control. The more love you give away, the more love you will have.”  ― John O’Donohue, Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

On Self-Giving

The simple gift of self is the greatest gift of all.

The above quote is from a reflection contained in the book, Thoughts In Solitude: Capturing the Essence of Being Human” by Felix Berto O. Magallanes, in which the author speaks of sharing oneself to others not just utter words, communicating our very being, and expressing our inner feelings, to share […] as we would to one who is not totally “other,” but is part of oneself.

self-giving-waterThe most profound example of this giving of self is God’s self-giving – sending His Only Begotten Son to be born in a humble manger to become one of us. And again, as the Son’s total obedience to the Father, Jesus Christ gave up His life on the Cross in atonement for our sins and to redeem humanity.

It’s Advent. So it’s an opportune time to reflect on this wonderful gift of God’s Love, which we Christians are called upon to exemplify in our daily life by sharing our blessings with others, for example.

To help us ponder on the message of God’s self-, sacrificing-love, here are more words of wisdom about the Blessedness of Self-Giving. What I understand as the main point in the author’s reflection is that of humility. The giving of self without the temptation to seek glory, except for the Glory of God. And aside from the perfect example of Christ, the writer also mentions about Paul: With lowliness of mind, with tears, with trials, coveting no man’s silver or gold or apparel, but caring for himself and his companions by daily labour at his trade, he gave himself to teaching publicly and from house to house, going about preaching the kingdom.

I also came upon this insightful article on self-giving love. It invites us to think about these important questions: How can one person give himself to another? What does this mean? According to the writer, only each of us can find the answers. Each person has his own mind and his own free will. In the end, no one else can think for me. No one else can choose for me. Yet, at the same time, the article helps us ponder more deeply: in what sense can one person give himself to his beloved?

I’d like to add my own thoughts on self-giving; I also believe – as in the 2nd reflection I mentioned above – that the sincerity of our giving is clothed in humility, without vainglory. This truth struck me one time I was browsing through my social media news feed.

I couldn’t help noticing the postings of friends wherein they shared about the charitable activities they were doing for their respective orgs. There is nothing wrong with that. Their generosity and active participation in community-building are inspiring, encouraging, uplifting.

So just a timely reminder for us — that while we give ourselves in service to others, let Humility live in our hearts – to restrain ourselves from bragging about the good we do for others. There’s a thin dividing line between sharing in order to inspire and sharing in order to seek people’s praises and recognition.

In our self-giving, may God’s praise suffice.