Dad, Mom and Me: It Wasn’t Always What You Think

This is my first time ever to write something like this, especially as it is about my beloved parents. I’m going out of my comfort zone as it isn’t easy to be writing from a deep, dark, wounded part of my soul. This piece is to be a blog post for the meantime, but I intend to include it in my “legacy writing” some day.

I’ve written several posts about my mother and one about my father. I have even contributed one article about Mom for a book project, which we launched last Mother’s Day. And in these articles, I have described almost an ideal loving relationship among the three of us.

But, let me break that myth for you. It wasn’t always what you think it was!

Ours was at times a Clash of Wills. Don’t get me wrong, though. I loved Mom and Dad so dearly and they loved me more than I could ever repay them that love.

You see, we three were first-born. Each three of us had our own unique, distinct personality and temperament, like chalk and cheese. I cannot even claim to be a blend of their best traits.

Yet, I assure you they raised me well and good and I have imbibed the best of their characters. Most of all, they loved me to a fault.

“You always want to have the last say, always!” That was Mom. Dad, silently approving.

Just in my late childhood, I remember being scolded for some wrongdoing – quarreling with my younger siblings – who to my sensitive heart were more bullish than me — for not doing my assigned chores right away or well enough.

“Okay so you know everything now, huh?!”  Mom again. Dad was often silent, but with a face like thunder.

“No, it isn’t like that, po!” I painfully defended myself.  Then I’d go off  like a loose canon, giving off steam.

 “Stop!” “STOP, I say!” Mom and Dad in unison – and even years later back into their home, I found myself arguing with them – often on little incidents that would flare up in the end. Nay, for me it was only rationalizing. To them, it was answering back.

Hot tears flowed, stinging my tongue with its bitterness. At times, my fists clenched to beat my chest so hard that it left me breathing hard.

I hated each scene. I hated myself even more. I was angry with Mom and Dad. Yet, I couldn’t hate them.

During such confrontations, I wasn’t my very best. Pride often overtook me.

Being the silent, aggrieved party riled me so. “Why does Mom have to see it her way?”  “Why can’t we just talk?” I groped for answers.

“Let me finish first,” Mom often would order me. The thing is, she sometimes drew a mistaken assessment of the situation. Hurting, accusing words would stream from her mouth.

So, my ears would flinch. My mind would rush to my defense.

And like any beaten animal, I felt like beating them in turn. Hurt for hurt.

Worse still was when Mom would recycle old issues. I felt like the worst person in the world.

All I had at such point was to reclaim my wounded honor, dignity, and pride, or to restore a sense of justice.

I failed to appreciate that what I felt was so much true for both of them, even more. They needed to restore their sense of parental authority. How I wish now I could have just embraced them and soothed their broken hearts.

But I guess in any family, in emotional struggles like these, compassion is hard to give no matter how much you love your parents or your siblings or your children. You only see things from where you are.

Sometimes, I thought Mom was just being childish. In that aspect, I thought we were alike.

Perhaps our ugly battles ensued when the Parent in me would clash with the Child in each of them.

Yes, I see now that was how we transacted with each other during our verbal fights.

If we transacted such that it was my Child addressing to the Parent in them, or vice versa, the result depended on circumstances. Sometimes good, sometimes bad.

Everything was fine, however, when we interacted with each other on the same level: Child-Child or Parent-Parent or Adult-Adult. For then, we understood one another. We were in harmony.

Mom hated the drama of reconciliation – so did I. But I – like the rest – needed to utter the magic words, “I’m sorry po,” whenever we erred. No silent treatment from us. No giving of excuses, too. They never wanted that.

Mom and Dad just wanted everyone to cool off – and be back to our normal, happy, loving selves. Sometimes, that was easy. On other occasions, it took a little while.

Our family’s saving grace during ugly scenes was my Dad. A paragon of patience he truly was. He’d come to comfort me after each clash, advising me to learn to let go and let Mom have the upper hand.

Humility wasn’t my best trait.

Fast forward to each of my parents’ waning years – specifically – on their death throes, their dying was in a way my own saving grace.

It gave me a chance to give back and care for them as they did when I was still an infant in their arms.

I cannot get over this striking realization: Mom’s hands were the first that held my tiny hands at birth – and in the first few seconds after her death, my hands were those that held hers. 

Photo by Liv Bruce on Unsplash

My Dad’s passing was even more grace-laden because God blessed me with the opportunity to be a co-caregiver with my sister even for a few months. Tearful goodbyes, expressing our filial love, humbling ourselves, and asking for forgiveness marked his last week of life.

Today, my heart still grieves for them. The grieving will remain for long, for grief never truly leaves. Yet, recalling their last days on earth helps me to soldier on — and to forgive myself, little by little, for the countless aches I caused them.

Photo by Emma on Unsplash

Moral Lesson: Treasure your parents while you still have them around. They may not be perfect — no one else is — but they are the only ones you’ve got. Life is short, so spend quality time with them as much as you can. Give them your understanding. Treat them with compassion and patience. Be easy with their shortcomings. Make their remaining years happy and fulfilled. Hug and kiss them, and say the words, “I love you, Mom. I love you, Dad.” Most importantly, when you’ve hurt them, or they cause you pain — for this happens in any family — ask to be forgiven and to forgive them as well.

For when they are gone, no amount of tears will ever bring them back.

Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God gives you.4  —   (Ex 20:12)

 

 

 

Envision Your Dreams to Make Them Come True

“If you can imagine it and you visualize it, you can create it.” — Anonymous

So here’s a page from my Vision Board. Well, who knows?

My Silver Kitchen Vision Board consisting of some of my own home-cooked dishes which are a hit with my family.

How to Unleash Your Inner Creative Self

“Every child is an artist, the problem is staying an artist when you grow up” – Pablo Picasso

Each of us is endowed with a desire and strength to create, just like our Creator. For you and I are created according to God’s image and likeness, so each of us is gifted with the will to do something good, to create something beautiful.

As the above quote says, each child is an artist. Children are born with creative talents and a natural desire to draw and paint and sing and dance. Just watch any infant starting to communicate with those around him/her — the baby will instantly respond to singing or music by smiling, clapping/waving, kicking, and moving his/her body. A toddler who is given a crayon will instantly start to doodle on whatever surface is available, even on his/her arms and legs. No wonder babies and very young children are instinctively attracted to bright, vibrant colors!

Yet, along the way to adulthood, the creative energy that is innate often lies hidden, remaining either untapped or stifled. As the second part of the above quote from Picasso says, “the problem is staying an artist when you grow up.”

Perhaps you were told  you weren’t good enough or meant to be an artist or singer or dancer. Or perhaps, you yourself might have believed this to be true of you.

Fortunate are those whose natural talents were earlier honed and developed with much encouragement and nurture from parents and teachers.

For those who are not as blessed with such environment of encouragement and nurture, you can by all means still untapped your hidden natural creativity.

How to unleash your inner creative self?

Practice digital canvas with my recreation of a painting from an online art tutorial class. I painted the background then added the images and text.
  • Believe in yourself
  • Express your inner child
  • Keep your sense of wonder
  • Be curious about life and how things work
  • Learn and learn and learn – be a lifelong learner
  • Be adventurous
  • Think creatively- for example, when dealing with problems, look for creative solutions
  • Expand your horizon
  • Widen your perspective
  • Brainstorm every day for new ideas
  • Journal your thoughts daily
  • Read storybooks
  • Commune with nature — even just looking out the window and gazing at the sky and watching birds fly
  • Find inspiration even in mundane things or activities
  • Cook up new dishes for your family to enjoy
  • Go ahead and sing or dance or paint or write poetry — just have fun doing it and silence your critical self
  • Enroll in online classes or watch tutorials on YouTube to learn and hone your artistic side

These are only some of the many ways you can unleash your Inner Creative Self.  No matter how old you are, it’s never too late.

I’m in my early senior years, yet I’m able to re-discover my sense of creativity. Even at my age, I’ve been able to learn and improve my sense of beauty through my acquired photography skills, dabbling in some graphic designing, and now — digital painting.

The power to be your natural, creative self resides in you and you alone.

“We will discover the nature of our particular genius when we stop trying to conform to our own and other people’s models, learn to be ourselves and allow our natural channel to open.” — Shakti Gawain

Quotes source

 

Channeling One’s Inner Creative Energy

Look at these digital canvases! I was overjoyed to discover there is a creative tool built into my old laptop — I’d never bothered to explore this because it looked or sounded too technical for me — something to do with 3D!

But a few days ago, out of curiosity, I clicked on the icon and viola! It’s an Art tool which can allow me to paint and transform my digital art work or part of it into 3D image. I can also insert 3D images from a gallery to personalize or make my digital art more interesting. Now I have another medium by which to channel my inner creative energy, much like photography and writing. Especially in this time of uncertainty and lockdown, it is good to channel my anxiety and fear brought about by this pandemic to something uplifting.

Because I am not really good with brushes nor with drawing pens and crayons ever since  I was a kid, I went over to some painting tutorials for beginners at YouTube to learn about brush strokes, blending of colors, preparing/painting the background, and more. Then I started to apply what I’ve been learning and I also copied some designs there to see if I can do it.

Wow, I’ve never felt so amazed as to realize I can paint — even just digitally! I’ve always loved to do artwork — but I’ve always thought I wasn’t good enough!

Digital painting is a skill so different from real brush painting, but it is still a skill. And a challenge too because I need to learn how to maneuver the mouse, tweak the thickness or thinness of the brush or pen/pencil or crayon I want, choose the right colors, and everything else — to come up with something nice. Here are my initial attempts.

My 6th attempt at doing a digital painting with my own design.
My 7th digital painting project inspired by a painting in one of the tutorial classes on YouTube. This is a common design being taught to children and beginners like me.
My 8th and my favorite so far –another copied design but notice the 3D images I added: the moon and the 2 birds, instead of drawing and painting them.

    “If you hear a voice within you say, ‘You cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” – Vincent van Gogh

How do you channel your own inner creative energy, dear reader? Do share your thoughts on this in the box below.

If you are interested in unleashing and channeling your inner creative energy through painting but don’t know how, I suggest the following YouTube links:

On Capturing the Sacred Beauty of Nature

Sometimes we have to let things be. We have to let the sacredness of the moment pass us by without having to document it as it happens. To be more specific, I am talking about capturing in photographs the sacred beauty of nature as you see it in the here and now.

I know, I know what you are going to say.

Perhaps for photography buffs like me — you’d disagree with my above statement because you believe each moment is fleeting and there’s nothing like capturing it in a photograph to help you remember it. True.

But hear me out. I’m also much like you who almost never let a beautiful scene of nature pass by without me clicking on my phone’s camera button.

Yet — my AHA moment regarding the importance of a silent appreciation of Nature’s wonder came to me recently as I was about to do that. As usual, I’ve been watchful of the sky especially in the early mornings, midday, and towards late afternoon until sunset.

As soon as I saw the stunning colors of twilight in the skies, I rushed to get my phone only to pause and ponder: wouldn’t it be better to appreciate this ephemeral moment, this beautiful scene just in the silence of my heart as my deep tribute to the Great Artist Himself, my Creator God?

Sometimes we need to break away from our tendency to just click away anytime at something that catches our interest. Just like what most of us are doing at the start of a great — or even a simple — meal. Be at home or dining out, people tend to photograph every morsel of food before partaking of it.  Some even forget to offer a blessing or prayer of thanks for the grace of food; they are busy shooting the laid-out meal, dish by dish, to post the photos later on their Instagram, Facebook and other social media profiles. (More on this later in another post).

Photography’s vaunted capture of a moment in time is the seizure and freezing of presence. — Rosalind E. Krauss

Indeed –yet,  photography need not be too trite that it cannot allow us to step back and gaze in Awe and Silence at the wonder of Nature before us.

Photographing. Every. Scene. of Nature you see  is like stealing a kiss or plucking a flower from its stem. Or more bluntly, it is a sacrilege like photographing every moment in the Mass.

Not every wonderful scene needs to be Instagrammable. God’s wonderful work of Nature cannot just be confined to mere photographs, but should be enshrined in our memories and in our hearts.

He doesn’t take a photo or a video because he wants to remember – by which he means he wants to misremember because the moment is made up of what the camera can’t capture. —Jeanette Winterson

How about you, my dear reader, what’s your take on this? Do you think every scene of nature should be photographed? When is it okay or not to do this?

 

 

Gateway to God’s Grace

I’ve always enjoyed looking at the sky and I especially find clouds fascinating whatever form they take. Now I’ve been noticing, perhaps from the start of the year, cloud shapes are becoming more and more dramatic or strange or weird.

And now for the past several evenings, I’ve been seeing this kind of night sky…a bright, shining opening amid an enveloping darkness. Stunning, isn’t it? How amazing God’s piece of creation!

With the pandemic still raging, on top of the mounting problems we are facing the world over, I believe this must be God’s message of hope and assurance all will be well, with God’s grace!

It’s become sort of ritual for me to view the scene fronting me almost each evening —

“Shall I open the womb and not deliver? says the Lord; shall I, the one who delivers, shut the womb? says your God.” — Isaiah 66.9 (NRSV, Catholic edition)

Now, it strikes me that this Sunday Gospel and readings give the same message of hope and assurance from our Lord God.

From Zechariah 9:9-10, we read:

9 Rejoice heart and soul, daughter of Zion! Shout for joy, daughter of Jerusalem! Look, your king is approaching, he is vindicated and victorious, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

10 He will banish chariots from Ephraim and horses from Jerusalem; the bow of warwill be banished. He will proclaim peace to the nations, his empire will stretch from sea to sea, from the River to the limits of the earth.

The second reading from Romans 8:9, 11-13  sets the condition with which we ought to develop in ourselves, in our daily living, — the gateway to God’s Grace.

The Gospel taken from Matthew 11:25-30 speaks of Christ’s assurance, of His offer of rest from our daily struggles.

Indeed, God speaks to us through His words in the Scriptures, through the people He sends in our lives, and through His wonderful works in nature.

 

Random Lockdown Shots 2020