day’s first glimmer of light
after its long hiatus ~~
the city percolates
“If you are not where you want to be, do not quit; instead reinvent yourself and change your habits.” — Eric Thomas
The topic of reinventing oneself came casually over me – as I went through some previous posts of mine and read my revised “About” page here. I had thought of just giving up this blog, for it had outgrown its initial purpose.
But time and time again, I would back off and do a little bit of tweaking here and there, just to keep it going even if I have not been able to capture a loyal following. And to see how far it can go, learning to see in what ways my blog can inspire or uplift or share something valuable to readers — beyond merely serving as my personal creative platform.
I should, therefore, put in time and effort to come up with interesting posts, as well as to find ways to promote it. Well, this is my weak area I realize now. I have not been as diligent in posting, nor confident enough to share this to the world beyond my personal sphere of influence: family, friends, former students and colleagues.
So one aspect of reinventing is — as the quote above says — “do not quit.”
On one level, many times businesses have to reinvent their brands, products and services in order to continue giving value to their clients and customers, keep up with the demands and changing needs of the economy, or keep themselves afloat in turbulent times.
Similarly with us human beings — we need to reinvent ourselves, if we want to change for the better, grow and lead more productive, meaningful lives. In this aspect, change is at the level of doing.
For example, a young aspiring entertainer can start out as a member of a music band or a dance troupe, or even as a commercial model. Deciding that he/she would really like to be in the acting industry, the individual takes up acting lessons by joining workshop or enrolling in acting courses.
Changing one’s job or field of work at mid-career, learning a new language, indulging in a favorite hobby or even taking up a new one when one has retired — these are just some ways to reinvent ourselves by doing what we can do to achieve our personal goals.
Yet, reinventing oneself should go beyond the external, for real change is at the level of being — a much deeper level of change. This requires your time, effort, willingness to grow and be the best self you can ever be.
It is a journey that requires sacrifices, too — like giving up bad attitudes, ways of doing, and learning whatever can make you grow as a person. And it begins with the journey to yourself within, to know who you truly are, your core values, and to visualize the kind of person you want to be – as aligned with your core values and goals.
That change should begin now — it does not matter whether you are still young or already old. Life is ripe with moments to become the best you can ever be, so that you can do whatever is good for you and for others.
“Your power to choose your direction of your life allows you to reinvent yourself, to change your future, and to powerfully influence the rest of creation.” Stephen Covey
Earth’s fiery cone
A super blue blood moon ~~
Nature’s perfect collision
Mayon’s fiery perfect cone
January’s Super Blue Blood Moon ~~
Beauty and Beast
I wrote these two haiku – in tribute to two of the world’s most awesome natural phenomena in recent times, magnificently caught in one stunning shot! Writing these in February, I also shared them on NaHaiWriMo’s community page on Facebook.
My February collection of haiku is composed of my responses to some of the prompts in last month’s NaHaiWriMo (National Haiku Writing Month). More on this below. Meanwhile, please enjoy my feeble attempt in this fascinating poetic form.
Day 1: biting into a taco
biting into a taco
hot and red with chili ~~
the waning moon bids adieu
Day 2: railroad ties
wooden railroad ties
old, beat and creaking ~~
peals of children’s laughter
Day 3: Greek coffee
in the kitchen lay waiting
warm pot of Greek coffee brew ~~
lips locked in a kiss
flowing from cup to cup
mid-morning Greek coffee brew~~
ears plugged to jazzy notes
cup to cup
Greek coffee brew ~~
scent of burnt haystack
Day 4: cream cheese with chives
on a balmy day
rolling waves and sandy beach ~~
cream cheese with chives
Day 5: listening to the radio
listening to the radio
each night at 3 a.m. ~~
Day 6: cutting the lawn
cutting the lawn
trimming the home ~~
oh Lunar New Year upon us
Day 7: wrapped in quilt
holed up in the attic
wrapped in quilt ~~
cold February wind ~~
pillow soaked in tears
wrapped in quilt
Day 8: paintbox
paintbox waits ~~
tiny wildflowers strewn
Day 9: beating the heat
shaved ice and mixed fruits
cool my parched throat ~~
beating summer heat
Last month, February, was National Haiku Writing Month, or NaHaiWriMo as is more popularly known. The community is well-received and the number of members keep growing by the year.
I intended to finish the whole month by writing one haiku a day, at least — but other priorities took over, so my short collection above consists of the haiku I composed for the first few days.
Yet even then, I enjoyed writing these haiku in response to the daily prompts given, and posting them on its Facebook community page, as well as reading with delight the contributions of my fellow haiku fans.
If you want to learn more about haiku writing and participating in the monthly event (yes, it now goes beyond February), just click on the link above.
Haiku, February Haiku, NaHaiWriMo
A long, long time ago, I feasted on fairy tales: Grimm’s, Andersen’s, Aesop fables and Filipino folk tales. And of all the fantastic tales narrated to me, or I myself read, again and again, Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs captivated my heart the most. Why? It was simply magical and feeling good.
As a child, I delighted in repeating this fairy tale to my younger siblings come bedtime, and years later as a mother, when my two sons were little, I never tired of reliving this tale to them .
So whenever there would be a play or the Disney film version of this on TV, a childlike excitement would still fill me as I watched Snow White with my young boys.
Snow White was the girl I dreamed to be because then, I was always teased by my playmates for my dark complexion, and as a shy girl, I saw in her what I wanted to be. Perhaps you may say I had not outgrown my childhood fixation — to be fair like other kids — just because I was bullied for my dark skin (as how I viewed my complexion then).
Also, my mother was a dominant figure in my growing up years being a stay-at-home mom. So she brought us up in the traditional Filipino strict, yet loving way — a stern disciplinarian tempered with motherly tenderness.
Surely I loved my mom and strove to please her. But as a child with a streak of rebellion in my little girl’s heart, there was a teeny weeny part of me that would put her in the role of the Queen – and myself as Snow White. And that made me feel victorious! So much so for my childish imagination.
As an aside, Mom was beautiful and fair, and it was my younger sisters who inherited her fairness and beauty. At the core of my childhood insecurity regarding my complexion was the so-called colonial mentality which still governed many Filipinos at the time.
In the 60’s, the ideal standard of beauty was to be fair complexioned with long, flowing hair. My saving grace – my high-bridged nose, as others would point out. I guess children pass this stage of pettiness — but their limited understanding and immaturity make such all real for them.
So even with my Mom building up my self-esteem, as a vulnerable, imaginative child, I would yearn for dwarf friends like Doc, Grumpy, Happy, Sleepy, Bashful, Sneezy, Dopey (Wikipedia) who would protect me from the bad ones.
Reflecting deeper, I realized the story of Snow White and her friendly, caring 7 dwarfs provided me with a safe comfort zone in my own little world of imagination.
Because of my religious upbringing at home and in school, my awareness of the battle between good and evil was already strong. And the story of Snow White and its depiction of the good winning over evil was in a way what inspired me. Immersing myself into her situation, being Snow White in my mind was like being home away from home, and that I would be safe from the bad ones.
I guess that’s the secret to all these fairy tales, the element of good over evil, and the desire to be and do good – which rouses what is innate in the human soul, even in a child’s soul.
Children have their own way of relating to fairy tales, as I did, but the main thing that attracts them to fantasy stories like these is wanting to see the good forces to triumph over the bad, or the beautiful winning over the ugly.
And surely, many adults still have the child in them, so they still enjoy such stories from their childhood.
Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs, the magical story of my childhood, will forever tug at my heartstrings in a special way.
How about you ~~ what is your favorite fairy tale and why?
*This is a revised edition. First published here in 2016.
In response to an article by Brain Pickings, Walking as Creative Fuel: A Splendid 1913 Celebration of How Solitary Walks Enliven “The Country of the Mind” , here is a thought or two.
How I so wish I could take up walking as a regular activity – yet I’ve never been much of an active walker, such as described here.
But I remember enjoying my long walks inside the university in my college days, as well as in my years of studying and teaching in another university. Unhurried walks when I wasn’t running for time for my classes or at the end of the day – going back home – were indeed a respite for my tired mind and body.
Times when those walks were akin to having a cup of coffee; at times, walking simply soothed me enough, like a good massage, helping me unwind and relax.
Recalling one particular instance while sauntering inside the campus during a semester break several years back, I wrote:
“Late morning today, I had a most exquisite stroll on campus – the day was cool, the sun was hidden in the clouds, and everything was so still, with nary a soul in sight – ahhh the quiet joy of sem break! So I leisurely walked under the overarching trees that shaded the main avenue of the university communing with Nature – what a bliss!”
What a bliss, indeed! Walking in solitude, like this, connects us with the natural environment, with our inner self as well. If you happen to be a camera buff – just like myself — you can also capture the moment in a photograph for you to share on your social media sites.
Yet –the article describes this type of activity as a “self-defeating impulse to evacuate the moment in order to capture it — in a status update, in an Instagram photo” and goes against what the Scottish writer Kenneth Grahame (March 8, 1859–July 6, 1932) believes walking should be:
“Not a fiftieth part of all your happy imaginings will you ever, later, recapture, note down, reduce to dull inadequate words; but meantime the mind has stretched itself and had its holiday.”
This makes sense to me as far as appreciating walking for its own pleasure, and not doing it for any other purposes – though I know I may not be able to resist photographing an interesting scene along the way.
Solitary leisure walks, I agree, are a good time for us to be immersed in the moment wherever we are. To simply be and let be. As we open our mind, our heart, we lift our spirit to the beauty and quiet surrounding us. Then we can experience a stream of inspiring thoughts.
Some of those solitary walks of mine had stumbled their way to a few of my verses and journal entries.
A walk with and through Nature is a walk with our imagination, with Inspiration, with the Muses. I also see walking in solitude among nature a means to commune with the Divine Spirit, with my Source, with God – the Creator of all things, with whom I can share the power to create.
Thus is walking indeed “a creative fuel,” an impetus that drives us to create – a work of art, a literary piece, a song or a prayer.
Through walking, we can also come up with ideas that promote growth for ourselves and for the betterment of humanity.
“But all these are only the by-products, the casual gains, of walking alone. The high converse, the high adventures, will be in the country of the mind,”
— the article continues to quote.
Such a lovely description!
Sometimes, the most beautiful moment cannot truly be – or does not have to be – plucked or photographed. To honor the sacredness of that moment and hold it in our heart, in our mind’s eye — that is enough.
When I stop – or lose — my momentum, I seem to also lose my sense of balance.
It is much like catching my breath after a few minutes of brisk walk or short run, then finding myself struggling to get up and go.
My mind is engulfed by a huge vacuum from which I cannot escape – leaving me powerless to take off from where I left.
A specific example, one which often challenges me – is writing.
After losing my momentum at a certain point, whatever ideas, fragments of thoughts and feelings, seem to have gathered up in a haze.
Thus that awful empty, white space stares back at me from my computer screen or my journal page, crying out to be filled. But I remain stuck, my creative juices drained.
So an inner battle ensues, for that certain mood to get myself back into the flow of things seems hard to catch again.
More difficult is when I need to finish a work article or two. I strongly believe that the accomplishment of work tasks should take precedence over any mood or emotions. I should be able to finish something, whether I am in a writing mood or not.
Somehow, I need that pressure to keep my momentum. And once I am there – it can be irritating to have to stop whatever I am focused on at the moment. Somehow, the pressure itself causes negativity.
“In the center of our speed, in the core of our forward movement, we are often confused and lonely. That is why we have turned so full-heartedly to the memoir form. We have an intuition it will save us. Writing is the act of reaching across the abyss of isolation to share and reflect. It’s not a diet to become skinny, but a relaxation into the fat of our lives. Often, without realizing it, we are on a quest, a search for meaning. What does our time on this earth add up to?”
— Natalie Goldberg, Old Friend From Far Away
“Writing is the act of reaching across the abyss of isolation to share and reflect ” – this is so true for me – especially when I am overwhelmed with negative thoughts about myself – as in chastising myself for not doing enough or not being good enough.
Not only about writing – but also in living my daily life. I find that without any structure, things can easily go awry and I can so easily lose momentum.
So — in a way – writing is the crutch I hold onto – for support and solace. Writing allows me to sort out the negatives, and help me bring back a measure of structure to my day.
More deeply though – writing is the space I need to pour out my innermost feelings and thoughts that are just meant for me alone – and my God. Yes, often I write down my prayers instead of mentally conversing — I feel more expressive talking to God through my written prayers, my sacred space where ultimately I discover myself more and more, as I connect more deeply to my Source, my Creator.
This post is a response to the writing prompt by Ms. Laura Davis. To learn more about her and see more prompts as well as writing workshops/retreats, you may go visit her site, The Writer’s Journey Roadmap.