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It’s been over two months since my first travel outside the Philippines, and here I am still reeling from this incredulous feeling of finally, “I made it!”
Everything about my travel – the places my son and I visited, the food, the people there, and all these that I narrate here – make my first travel abroad something I can never ever forget.
Thanks much to my son who invited me, my long time dream of going abroad has come true — and traveling SOLO at that! Of course, my son would be there to meet and fetch me after work, then take me around. You see, he often goes to Singapore as part of his job, so he wanted me to be able to visit the country while he was there.
Yet, the prospect of traveling abroad all by myself – getting to the airport and back (from the trip), and going through the long process from check-in to security check, and flying alone with strangers — was daunting enough for me because that meant getting out of my comfort zone. I’m used to being assisted especially in new situations.
Last year in fact — as I shared in a previous post — the chance to travel overseas already presented itself to me. Not your regular adventurer at heart, I found many excuses to back off.
But this time, I mustered the courage to embrace this golden opportunity, for such may no longer come my way. Besides, my son had already bought my plane tickets at short notice, too (so I’d no longer have any excuses to say no).
With little time to prepare my mind, my heart, and my things, “a drum of anxieties was revolving in my consciousness” (to quote Alain de Botton in his book, “The Art of Travel”) days prior to my scheduled flight.
Worrying about losing my way at the airports (here and at Changi), my hearing impairment, and my natural clumsiness even at my age, I was getting to be a big bundle of nerves as the time drew near.
Despite my own research on what to expect for a first-timer traveler, plus lots of pointers and encouragement from family, I still feared making mistakes. Which I had on several instances. After all, I wouldn’t be me without my bloopers!
My family and some close friends understand how I also hate taking a taxi on my own, or going home late, much less taking myself to the airport back and forth.
Yet, anticipation and thrill, together with my complete trust in God that He’d take care of me overtook me. An act of faith, as one good friend said.
Thus from my Grab ride to NAIA to my surprisingly pleasant experiences going through each step, and everywhere I went “already the confusion and jitters of the present moment were receding.” (Alain de Botton).
Today, I am still reliving the sights, sounds, and flavors of Singapore — as if it were only yesterday. Already I’m missing my first taste of authentic Hainanese Chicken rice and soup, the very first meal I ate right at Changi Airport. I want to go back to Singapore and explore more.
Ah traveling abroad – even for a short stay – does open a wider perspective and a great way to know myself more! I’m giving myself a BIG pat on the back as well for taking up the challenge.
Funny but the urge to travel again to a new place is creeping up on me now.
Most of all, I am overflowing with gratitude and I thank God for this blessing. Indeed, all these that I have overcome with grit and faith and my loved ones’ moral support make my first travel abroad an experience that will last forever in my heart.
Two weeks into the new year, and I’m still keeping up my good spirits, which I should be if I want to make 2019 a much kinder, brighter year than the last.
And I invite you all as well to start this year — 2019 — on a positive note.
Let’s do our best to be THANKFUL for every BLESSING, big or small, that comes our way. Something may or may not be what we truly want or hope for. Still, let’s be grateful for it because it’s the best way to keep negativity at bay.
We start with this — with GRATITUDE in our hearts — to create a positive mindset as we greet each new day.
Most of you I’m sure have your own resolutions to be and do better this year. So do I.
I hope I’ll be able to stick to them, for I’m making sure these are doable for me. I hope it’s going to be the same for you.
One of the things I keep reminding myself to do is: Prioritize and focus on the task at hand. ONE at a time. I should quiet my mind from distractions.
I find multi-tasking no longer as effective with me as in the past. I cannot segue from one task to another hurriedly lest I become absent-minded. My memory is starting to slow down. Ahhh, the travails of aging!
But sometimes, situations will arise where I still need to attend to several things at the same time. In which case, I must remind myself to pause a bit in between. And this works better for me now.
I end this post by sharing a Prayer for the New Year, which I came across online.
Three years ago in the last quarter, I wrote this in a Facebook post of mine:
“…it’s been almost 2 weeks since I moved into this place which I now call home and share with my son, this time, with my eldest. […] Somehow I feel like a tourist in a strange land. With an inventive mind such as mine, it’s so easy to pretend I’m now in a place like Manhattan in NY. I’m no longer in my house on the prairie which I shared with my younger son and his family […] nor am I in my tiny English cottage by the woods which I shared with my dear feline friends.
“Now here I am in the heart of the bustling metropolis learning to ease out of my reclusive mood. What I get to enjoy is being able to keep house and prepare home-cooked meals for my son […] and having human company to converse with, not just my plants, or my cats, or my favorite lizard…”
Now three years hence, and I’m still conversing mostly with my plants, my new set of lizard friends, some ants. No cats at all. Not that I mind. My son’s hectic work schedule and his personal life leave me all by myself most of the time.
On one hand, I’ve gotten used to my own company and still preoccupied with my part-time work, personal projects including this blog, my photography hobby, among other things. Yet it can be quite depressing at times.
Looking back, my life’s roadmap this year has been a riveting mix of ups and downs. On the upside, I’ve accomplished many of my goals. Topping them all was self-publishing my first eBook ever, Finding Your Authentic Self: A Path to Wholeness, which took me about 3 months to write.
But circumstances — such as work and financial problems — can be so overwhelming that without faith, I would’ve come crushing down. I must admit times when my very faith comes asunder letting me go on a roller-coaster ride with my relationship with God.
Like a child lost in the woods, I keep running to find my way — yet the farther it takes me away from home.
When doubt assails or bitterness creeps in, I quickly remind myself God is with me, in me, around me. He’s just hidden in the clouds.
My eyes look at the clouds to seek God’s face among them, somehow hoping to see Him in the concrete as well as in a deeper, spiritual sense. When I come to Him in prayer, I either feel empty or full of hope. When tears fall, I know deep in my heart, He has heard my cries, and suffered my agony too.
I find myself grieving still over my Mom’s passing, even after 4 years. As they say, something is taken away from you when your mother dies. So it is with me. During my difficult times, I miss my Mom’s strength and comfort.
I find I’m an irony unto myself. I, who long for human interaction and real conversation, has shied away from most invitations to social events and meetups with friends this year.
But I’m made of sterner stuff. My faith in God remains strong despite some backsliding. My faith in the goodness of others is still alive, my love for my family unshakeable, and my confidence in myself intact despite my defeats.
I’ve come to a few realizations:
A structured schedule for each day works best for me
I should assign a particular day for each important chore
I can no longer lump together in one day chores that use up too much energy
Less multi-tasking so I can focus
Must include writing practice, learning and reading into my daily schedule
Less social media and news reading
Back to book reading and journaling
Through all my ups and downs, God has been my Shield, prayer my best tool. I remind myself my human frailty is the devil’s strength. So I must always keep myself in check and keep God’s hope and promises in my heart.
“They that hope in the Lord will renew their strength, they will soar as with eagle’s wings; They will run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint. –Isaiah 40:31
This is the trajectory of my life this year — and I hope and pray 2019 will be kinder to me, with God’s grace. That like an eagle, I can soar to new heights. I do believe.
I also pray for strength, clarity, and comfort for anyone dealing with their own pain and struggles.
Above all, I hope and pray for greater peace, compassion, unity, less violence and negativity, as well as maturity in social discourse, especially in this Blessed Season of Christ’s Birth. Merry CHRISTMAS and a Peaceful, Brighter New Year to all!
Friends come and go, we often say. Indeed, as we grow older, some friendships fall on the way, so we just move on and grow into other friendships.
As we mature, we discover some friends were not real; others, we may have outgrown.
But to answer the question —
how do you make a friendship grow?
I’d like to quote one Indian proverb: “Don’t let grass grow on the path of friendship.”
Like a garden covered with overgrown grass, the beauty of friendship can easily fade with neglect. You can only see the weeds, unless you remove these and nurture your garden of friendship back to life.
Yes, unless you nurture your friendship, it will not grow. Come to think of it — each friendship is unique…special in its own way, so much like the variety of plants and flowers in your garden. Each needs its own nurturing care, love and special attention.
These are the essentials you need to grow your relationships with your friends if you are to keep them for life.
Sometimes, all it takes is a simple message of “hello, how you’re doing” or “what’s up” or “are you alright“– just to make them feel you’re not taking them for granted. This is especially true with long-distance friends whom you seldom see.
Thus, with my own set of friends, I try to give time to make our friendships grow. Time to chat a bit through social media (or even like or comment on their posts) or see them in person.
I only need to make time (though sometimes I fail too) for each of my friends, for lunch or just for a cup of tea or tall glass of iced coffee, with a cute cupcake to boot, to make life a little sweeter with our bonding moments.
Since life makes us busy every single day, going out with friends can be quite hard and means giving a little sacrifice.
Whatever it takes for you, cultivate your friendships through making time and communication.
It’s nice to have real friends — not just fair-weather ones — who can journey with you through the different seasons of your life, through your ups and downs, especially as you age.
*Note: I’m reviving this post I wrote way back in 2015 with minor revisions.
Are you an English learner whose mother tongue is not English? Do you come from a non-English speaking environment? Or are you an aspiring or practicing teacher of the English language? To be more specific, are you someone whose native language is not English, but have the passion and capability to teach the language?
Then read on, for this post is for you. Perhaps at some points, you may be having difficulty in your English language studies. Or if you are a beginner teacher of English, self-doubts sometimes cloud your mind.
In this article, I want to share 3 cardinal virtues: faith, hope, love — that help English learners and English teachers be better. I won’t be discussing the education/training, skill set and other credentials an English language teacher must have. I also won’t dwell on how learners can read or speak better and other related learning tips.
You get stuck. Again. Something makes you stuck. As ever.
And this perhaps is why you never can get your blog off. Why you can’t attract as much traffic as you want to. As you need to.
Fear. Yes, fear is what keeps you from writing with your whole heart and soul. From conveying as much as you want to – in the way you want to express yourself.
You’re afraid of giving a piece of your mind about issues that matter today.
COURAGE – this is what you ought to have. Yet…
Now look at this quote — it’s supposed to inspire a trying-hard writer like you. Oops, never be too harsh on yourself. Please.
“The beautiful part of writing is that you don’t have to get it right the first time, unlike, say, a brain surgeon. You can always do it better, find the exact word, the apt phrase, the leaping simile.” — Robert Cormier
But it doesn’t really apply to you, right? In the context this post is about?
All you can think of now is how saddening to see how much the world today is ripping itself apart. Hatred. Violence. Injustice. Destruction of the environment. Loss of respect. Enmity between kin. Apathy towards others. So much division, disunity, disintegration. So much Evil…
Others may tell you – hey, this has been happening since time immemorial.
Yes. So you push back and ask — why then has humanity not learned anything at all from the lessons of history? Is humanity that hardened, dense, fragile, weak …or just plain overcome with EGO? Must we just tolerate the negatives within and around us?
You start to feel at times your faith – in God and in humanity — slipping. Especially when you read the news. The bad news all over. Or reading ugly debates on social media. You try to avoid these as much as you can. Yet you cannot totally do so.
There — you’ve bared your soul. You’ve expressed somehow that pain in your heart.
“Ring the bells that still can ring, Forget your perfect offering, There is a crack in everything, That’s how the light gets in.”
And this is your reflection for now. You do NOT have to be as gifted as others nor try to be like them. For as long as you speak out your Truth. That’s your Life Purpose. Just be your Authentic Self.
For from Love and Goodness you have been created. SO it is upon you to answer that call to be the image of the ONE who has created you and the rest of the Universe. That’s being authentic.
Your authentic self is meant to provide light to those you meet on your life’s pathway. But it’s still your Choice.
To let the LIGHT from within you to radiate to others. And give Hope. It is upon you to share that hope. As you journey with others. You encourage others to grow into the best person they can ever be — by being the best you can ever be too because you have that hope in your heart. You choose to be that kind of person.
Yes you feel anguished, helpless, hopeless about the state of affairs in society. You even start to think that animals have become more civilized than humans, transcending their very nature of just living for themselves. You see how different species – enemies by nature -unexpectedly learning to co-exist peacefully and enjoy each other’s presence. You see and hear of stories of loyalty and love pet animals provide their owners.
Yet do not despair. Remember? Despite humanity’s brokenness and because of that very crack in humanity, the LIGHT of the World has come to save, to redeem us all.
It means despite our brokenness as human being because we are not perfect – just like everyone else — there is that spark of Light within each of us. Within you.
Still in your own capacity, and with God’s grace – you can help bring the Light, and Hope, and Faith to others. It behooves upon you to rise above your own frustration and anger at what is happening in the world to spread even a ripple of kind thoughts or deeds.
In whatever way you can. Through your writing perhaps. But remember you can only do this with LOVE in your heart. Spread the message of love, hope, and joy, especially as it is almost the Season of that LOVE that has come to save.
There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear… — 1 John 4:18
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.
I cannot fully describe my total experience while going through each of the pages of this extraordinary book “The Song of the Bird” by Anthony de Mello. It was an assigned reading by my Spirituality professor in graduate school some years back. And this reflection was a requirement of that course, so here goes.
When I set out to read, I tried to put myself into a proper frame of mind. I created a mood in order to get a feel for what the author says: “the mystical.”
I knew being mystical was more than just feelings. So I seriously followed the third suggestion of how to read the stories – in a prayerful manner.
Most of all, I tried to open my mind, heart and spirit for the grace of wisdom I would hopefully gain.
Story after story, I went and slowly some things would strike me now and then but only superficially, I felt.
Later I discovered I must not predispose myself in a way too expectant nor too presumptuous, for what I found most enlightening were those that I read in a humble way.
Like what most of the stories have to say, we must not be too engrossed with the future. Neither should we be buried in the past because we must live in the present. We must become aware of what the present has for us.
If we do so, sooner or later the beauty of the moment unfolds before us to savor, to experience, to have. Then we cannot just analyze nor rationalize. We just have to let each moment be. And let us be still in the moment. Be in the silence of the present.
Like the fish who keeps looking for the big ocean, I learned I must keep still. I must listen to the silence of myself and to the lessons that were being imparted to me here, little by little.
I should only let my heart be open and let my mind be still. I should stop walking ahead, wandering around because I couldn’t just force wisdom into my heart — just because that was what I intended to find.
I also learned that this is how we usually go through life. We race ahead to the directions or goals we have set for ourselves, as if the future is all there is to life.
What also strikes me about the book is the varied sources of inspiration drawn from different religions. That they all speak of searching for the Truth, of being one with Creation. Most of all, these stories speak of finding God in our everyday lives.
Indeed – we are of different faiths, of different races. But we all have the same stories to share, the same longings for our same God, the same aspirations and ideals. We all can learn from one another.
I was most struck by one story here, “Change the world by changing me.” I believe that this is one powerful prayer that can really ‘move mountains’ — if only we are humble enough to first transform ourselves and ask God to help us.
Because I was definitely changed somehow by most of the stories, I decided to share the book with my youngest son and asked him to write his reflection. May I then take the liberty to share with you what he wrote verbatim:
Reading this book has made me strengthen my faith in God. I am grateful that as I was reading, a lot of questions stirred inside my heart, meaning I am not contented with my spiritual life because being contented means that I already know everything there is to know about God which I think is an impossible feat.
My questions led me to the fact that I was created in His image, a little lower than the heavenly beings which makes me greater than all things here on Earth but that God is infinitely higher so there is a vast difference between us. He knows all the answers to my questions but He may not reveal those to me since He said that there are things that are hidden and are for Him alone. And it is a good thing because His ways and thoughts are not my ways and thoughts. So seeking answers that are not meant for me may be dangerous to do.
And to those questions that are answered, I will keep always in my heart knowing that those will help me experience God better. Also, it will help me lead more souls to Him. I am always looking forward to questions to pop in my mind because each question answered will help me become a more mature Christian.
I intend to read this book again and again, for each time, new insights are revealed.
NOTE: I’m reposting this piece of mine — which I first posted here in 2013 because this book offers timeless gems of wisdom. And it’s a timely read as well. If you can get hold of a copy of this great resource, I invite you to do so. But read each story as mentioned above — in a prayerful manner to get the most of it.
I’ve read somewhere that all of us are teachers in a way. No matter who we are, we find ourselves in a position to teach someone something. Even little children teach others. Whatever they learn, they are eager to share that new learning with others right away.
Teaching must be our natural vocation from God, the greatest Teacher of all. It is by which we help one another grow.
So here are five inspiring quotes about teaching to live by, for us teachers from all walks of life, young and old alike — especially for parents, guardians, and those in the field of education.
Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are endless.
– Mother Teresa
A teacher who is attempting to teach without inspiring the pupil with a desire to learn is hammering on a cold iron.
– Horace Mann
They may forget what you said but they will never forget how you made them feel.
Do not train children to learning by force and harshness, but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each.
Instruction begins when you, the teacher, learn from the learner; put yourself in his place so that you may understand… what he learns and the way he understands it.
– Soren Kierkegaard
I used to worry about my son’s penchant for changing careers even before making it to his 5th year at the job.
This tendency goes against the traditional linear path to a career growth and success.
Traditional way of career success
Back then, one had to build loyalty to a company and/or industry, to gain credibility and expertise. Aside from acquiring experience, skills, and knowledge in one job, one hoped to establish stability and security of tenure by staying long years in the same organization in hope of a promotion to a higher level, or be rewarded for one’s loyalty.
But this is today’s reality. It’s a growing trend to shift careers at the beginning of one’s work life or midway, especially among the young.
Now, I see the value. My son’s career transitions – from the academe to the corporate world, and from one corporate line of work to another – has brought him to higher management level with bigger responsibilities, in different fields. It has brought him nearer his career goals and to different places, too (overseas). Something he wouldn’t have attained yet, had he stayed in his first job ever.
Benefits of multiple career/job shifts
Nowadays, career/job progress comes from different directions. As this articlesays: “…with an ever-changing job market, technologies and opportunities emerging daily […] today’s career paths are not ladders, but more like jungle gyms.”
I myself have experienced such career shifts — from corporate jobs to teaching after a long break, then writing. At present, I’m even learning a more specialized kind of writing necessary nowadays in the digital workplace – copy writing (for content marketing).
But I tell you this. Changing careers benefits you in many ways, both in your work and personal life. You accumulate different skill sets, get to experience different work cultures, and meet all sorts of people. All these enrich your life, promote your personal and professional growth. And not the least, it widens your horizon of opportunities.
You’ll never know where life can take you. So in this post, I share six tips on how to get ready for a career or job move anytime.
This article offer some ways to make your career transition(s) a breeze.
I highlight two of them. Let’s take a look:
According to the article, you should “Decide if you need a career change. You may just need to find a new job, not an easy task, but certainly simpler than an entire career makeover.”
So while you’re still at your job, whether you’re enjoying it or not, learn as much as you can. The skills you learn will put you in good stead wherever your next move takes you.
I remember in my earliest job where my main function was personnel recruitment, I’d ask our telephone operator to teach me how to operate our switchboard and handle calls. During my coffee break or lunch time, I’d offer to relieve her because it was so much fun for me. I never expected on my next job, relieving the telephone operator was part of my duties.
Assess yourself is another tip from the article. “If you decide a career change is in order you will need to evaluate your values, skills, personality and interests using self-assessment tools, often called career tests.”
In my case –my transition — from personnel work to language teaching to content writing on the web — was not part of any strategic plans for the future, but a convenient option. But there also seemed to be a tying up of my values, skills, personality and interests which helped me segue into each of these fields.
And I add my own tips based from my personal experience.
Work on your hobbies and interests. Find time to indulge in them no matter how busy you are in your job. Hone your innate talents and find the relevant skills to develop so you can be good at whatever you enjoy doing. The more you learn and practice, the more you become an expert.
For example, while still teaching, I started a blog for my students (this one, initially meant for their use). I didn’t know anything at all about WordPress, much less about blogging. But I enjoyed learning everything I could about it.
Now, 5 years hence, I’ve become more confident with my blogging skills both for my pleasure and for my work as content writer. Yet, I still continue to improve my skills day by day by diligent learning through reading up and attending online courses.
As soon as you learn something new, apply that knowledge. Don’t worry about making mistakes. You learn by doing.
I’d always been fond of taking photos — long before the advent of smartphones and digital photography. So I’d be using my old trusted film camera, then my digicam. But I never thought about any techniques. Just point and shoot. Enough.
Then with a smartphone, I discovered the joy and beauty in taking good shots and developing my photography skills. Although I’m far from being an expert, at the very least, my photo shots today show signs of better technique and style.
Discover new interests. They can help you advance in your present job or career, or lead you to a new field. Or even help you transition from being employed to having your own business.
While in her job at the bank, my sister started networking with associates and learning about marketing. Now she is her own person running her own food franchise.
Think of your goals, as the same article above says. Set up new ones if you haven’t yet. Do this with each transition you make. What are you trying to achieve by your move?
Don’t make a move for the sake of doing so, otherwise you may find yourself adrift like a lost boat.
In short, move with a purpose and a clear sense of direction. It may not take you yet where you want to be. But it will surely help you make the most of what you can do and reach your goals one step at a time.
There are different routes to the same destination. Stay focused and determined. – Janice Harris