Our Garden of Life

Leonard Nimoy tweeted, “A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory.”

Sometimes when I see a beautiful flower in full bloom, I am tempted to pick and put it in a vase to enjoy it. Yet flowers stay longer right where they are until their petals close, wilt and fade. Sometimes in the best of moments, we forget to capture it in a photograph — yet perfect moments we experience are sometimes better left untouched, spared by the camera, and kept private.

Can we ever capture enough of the joy or pain, or the happiness or sadness of a moment? Many times, they remain just as beautiful or poignant, or hurtful pressed in the deep recesses of our hearts and minds, much like pressed or dried flowers…

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This indeed is our garden of life. The journey we take, with all our experiences, good or bad, is the garden plot in which we sow seeds of growth in a variety of ways —

These are the flowers we cultivate as we nurture the garden of our lives into full bloom – developing ourselves, cultivating our potentials until we reach our full flourishing. So as we dig deeper into the soil, the foundation of our spiritual selves, we also weed out what can hinder our personal growth.

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Each of our experiences, the people we have and encounter, are unique on their own, and provide for us an enriching life – despite the mud, thorns and prickly bushes —

 

 

 

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These are mistakes we make, the hurts we cause or are caused by others, the toxic people we sometimes meet — all these provide us invaluable lessons and insights so we become stronger, better persons.

Our failings do not necessarily mar the beauty and dignity of our persons, just as thorns do not mar the beauty of a rose…

And life still remains beautiful!

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Note: This post was first published in 2015, and this is a revised edition: new title, new photos and with minor edits.

Today My Story Begins

In my new small notebook given at a recent writing workshop I attended,

these words are written on its first page: Our Story Begins

So underneath, I wrote: TODAY… as a starter.

Onto the next page, I continued:

“Yes

            today (at one hour and a half close to midnight)

             my story begins.

I’ve found my voice

long buried beneath

the pages of years gone by

so with a vengeance

back it comes

raring to spew words…

The Voice

Now I write it anew:

“Yes

            today (at one hour and a half close to midnight)

             my story begins.

I’ve found my voice

long buried beneath

the pages of years gone by

so with a vengeance

back it comes

raring to churn, spew, spill words…

onto the pages of my notebook

Eureka! This might be the answer to the challenge that faces me each time I write for my blog and other personal writings (not work for it involves a different writing style) –

To write in the manner I did in the days of my youth — rhythmic, poetic — reflecting the inner poet in me.

Thus from today onward, I start to write like this again. Writing reflections in blended prose and poetry.

With this, I hope my blog be refreshed, and capture the attention of even just one soul…

3 Life Lessons from Photography

Indeed, “Life is like photography.” As another quote goes, “You use /need the negatives to develop.” 

 

This reality hit me while watching the early morning scene outside the window.

 

Truly, there’s beauty in an image or in the scene before you – when there’s a balanced rendering of light and shadow. A captured image or the real scene before you is rendered more beautiful with its shadows – making it more dramatic or captivating.

In life, light and shadow are both essential – light being the good, positive things we experience, and shadow being the bad, negative ones. Without our ups and downs, we cannot truly grow.

It’s during our lowest point do we learn fresh insights, gain more wisdom – all these helping us to get up and move on. To let us rise up from the ashes of our ‘decay’ and fly again like a phoenix.

Our lowest-point experiences: the sad, bitter, painful life situations; the struggles and frustrations – all these make us appreciate our good times, our blessings, our gifts which we often fail to consider when we’re happy or content; when everything’s in our favor.

Our sufferings can motivate us to become better persons. They can also lead us to be more appreciative of ourselves – with all our light and shadows, as well: the good and bad aspects in us, that make up who we are.

My daily practice with my camera — shooting scenes of nature, the urban landscape, people, house pets, and objects – has sharpened my power of observation, letting me notice more keenly even the minutest of details, such as the slant of shadows as sunlight strikes the earth at different hours of the day.

What fascinates me most is the constant change in the way the same scenes before me are being played out second after second, minute by minute, hour after hour, day in day out.

Each passing time brings about change — slight or dramatic — depending on how light and shadow fall on anyone, anything around me. I’ve developed a keener awareness of what’s happening in my immediate environment all because I’ve learned to use my power of observation.

In the process, I’m discovering, learning more new things. Indeed, there’s so much beauty around.

Most clear – all the beauty I see around does not stay that way all the time!

Nothing’s permanent no matter how beautiful it is. So are the negative things in our lives and in ourselves.

Three important lessons we can derive from this:

  • First, we shouldn’t be too attached to anything in life, not even with the people in our lives.

Too much attachment can only cause more pain, more frustration – because it makes us expect or demand more. Just. Let. Be. A much wiser thing to do.

  • Second, we should not despair over the worst in ourselves, for there’s always HOPE for us to become better. And the sad, painful, or bad things that happen? All these, too, shall pass away.

Besides, our negative experiences make us stronger, wiser, more mature. These are opportunities we can use to grow into the finest version of ourselves and learn how to better handle such situations. Each of our life experiences is a time of discovering the truth of ourselves — the good, the bad, the ugly.

  • Finally, discovering our truth, we can choose to highlight the beauty and goodness within us because after all, we are truly beautiful creatures of God, who made us in His likeness and being. Just like how seemingly ugly a landscape is, when light is cast upon it, its beauty shines or it becomes more attractive.

Still, we need to recognize our weak points, so we can overcome these, and let our innate beauty as human persons shine.

Realizing both the good and the bad in us, we see ourselves in a better perspective, in a better light. We grow to understand, accept, and love ourselves more.

And this is how we learn to view, appreciate, and love others as well.

Writing for the Joy of It

Write for the craft, the passion, the creativity.

Writing creates something. Something is there right on the screen or in the notebook and a body of work exists. 

Writing can kill time. 

It all started with being an observer and writing it down. You can do that too.

(The above are some snippets from: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/why-you-must-write-i-richard-a-moran)

I can’t remember a time since childhood when I didn’t like to write.

My parents often gave me a journal or a diary to write on.

In grade school, we learned to write not just sentences.

I recall how theme writing became part of our language lessons from the 4th grade up.

It made me feel good because our teachers would ask us to write with a fountain pen, not with a ball-pen, and on a special writing notebook at that.

Sometimes, I had to struggle to find the correct words, but that was fine for me. I’d just asked my Dad or my Mom for help.

You see, Mom was a language teacher, and she minored in English.

My Dad spoke English well, much better than most his peers because he worked with Americans at a very young age, during the American period (of my country’s history).

I remember my Dad gave me a Thesaurus as a birthday gift.

Perhaps he had seen how hooked I was on reading – anything, be it storybooks, newspapers/magazines, comics, even the dictionary and my Mom’s volume of “The Complete Works of Shakespeare.” So, that Thesaurus was my Dad’s support for my love for reading & writing.

Together with my Mom, he encouraged my literary inclination. Both also wrote their own poems — some of which I stumbled into which inspired me to write my own since then.

So there I should consider myself fortunate for having had a good early start and exposure to writing — but somehow through the years it had only remained an enjoyable activity, a favorite past-time. Or as an occasional outlet for pent-up emotions or bursts of creativity. I didn’t think much of it as a profession.

Well, I should have.  But what’s most important for me then was to simply write for the sheer joy of it.

 

The Truth of My Life Now

This is thetruth of my life – right now, today, this moment” – that I find myself being pushed towards the precipice of a mountain or at times towards the edge of the shore.

And it scares me. I feel so alone and weak.

What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? The world would split open.”

–Muriel Rukeyser

Lately you see, a confluence of several factors is challenging my inner peace. Things that just came up unexpectedly, without warning. Continue reading “The Truth of My Life Now”

A Mother’s Day Special

Mother’s Day is just a week away, and I ask myself, what could be a fitting way to honor and give tribute to my beloved Mom this year? It’s been four years since she’s been gone, but I still miss her dearly.

So I’ve thought of sharing a roundup of some of my previous pieces I wrote about my mother, as my Mother’s Day Special. Here they are:

Leftovers: Cherished Thoughts of Yesterday  – This is my first piece about Mom. Sadly, over two months later, she passed without this reaching her.

How I wish I had let her read this soon after I wrote it, so she would know I finally understood the reason behind her “penchant for collecting, never discarding, her old stuff,”  a bone of contention between us sometimes.

Loving Me, Loving Mom, Loving God – my tribute to my Mom’s strong influence on me, her “passion for living, for she indeed was a woman oozing with confidence and grit…”

When Death Gently Waits, God’s Grace Suffices – My way of making sense of her death and a description of my Mom’s strong, unwavering faith in God, persisting until the end even when pain overwhelmed her physical being. “That was the start of her final days here on earth, and Death waited for her gently until she was ready for her purification … her grace from God…”

As a finale, here is the best loved Filipino lullaby, “Sa Ugoy ng Duyan,” an immortal song that never fails to move to tears anyone like me who loves and misses their mother.

Sa Ugoy ng Duyan

The meaning of the Tagalog phrase “Sa Ugoy ng Duyan” in the literal sense is “In the Rocking of the Cradle.” The song’s official English title is “The Sway of the baby Hammock.”  This is a Filipino lullaby, the most popular collaboration of two National Artists of the Philippines: Lucio San Pedro for the music and Levi Celerio for the lyrics.  Read more at Wikipedia

What fond memories or stories do you have about your mothers? I’d love to hear from you , dear readers. Do share them here.

 

From the Shadow of Failure

“I work continuously within the shadow of failure. For every novel that makes it to my publisher’s desk, there are at least five or six that died on the way.” – Gail Godwin

Failure is part of the human experience. No one is immune from it, not even the great ones. The most important thing is how to let failure pave the way to a new beginning.

I remember that one time early on in my teaching career when I thought I was doing fine, until a student of mine pointed out that she was not learning much from me. Continue reading “From the Shadow of Failure”

Dealing with Rudeness

Sometimes, we find ourselves dealing with or being in the company of unpleasant people, and it takes some effort to keep our composure. So here in this post, I’d like to share how you can deal with obnoxious people, such as those being rude.

Rudeness is all around. I will mention here at least two general kinds of rudeness.

First, you have those nasty behavior displayed in public, often one you get from total strangers.
Continue reading “Dealing with Rudeness”

4 Big Lessons I Learned as an English Language Teacher

These days, I seldom teach. My days as an English language teacher may not be as active as it used to be. This is so because I’ve moved on to other pursuits, like writing and photography. Yet, I have gained much insight about language teaching, and in this post, I share my 4 important lessons as an English language teacher.

As I reflect on my more than a decade in the field, I’m glad for these precious lessons which any aspiring English (or any) language teacher can also benefit much from. Continue reading “4 Big Lessons I Learned as an English Language Teacher”

On Reinventing Oneself

“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 My Blog” 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. Continue reading “On Reinventing Oneself”