Taking Selfies is An Art

It’s May, my favorite month of the year! And what an apt theme to go with my favorite month – Photo.

I’m not a pro, I’m not even half as good as the younger ones in my family/clan who are amazing with their photography skills. But taking photos is my passion – and with the coming of the age of Selfies, I’m drawn to it more than anyone else of my age, methinks.

Do you like taking selfies? Why or why not?

I do not find taking selfies bad at all, so I shall disagree with the supposed findings of the American Psychiatric Association that taking of selfies is a mental disorder.

Taking of selfies is an art form, not a mental disorder. Continue reading “Taking Selfies is An Art”

Life is a Dash of Spice & Herbs from the Garden

Life is a dash of spice and herbs, so if I could grow a kind of food and be successful, I’d love to grow a spice-and-herbal garden….

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I love food with spices and herbs; a simple everyday dish, sandwich or soup becomes a gourmet adventure, not to mention their medicinal benefits.

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I fancy growing a spice-and-herbal garden, fragrant, vibrant and blooming – a feast for the senses, a feast for the soul, and a feast for the tummy with the yummy soups, dishes, and salads I can prepare for my family and friends, with freshly picked spices and herbs from my own home garden: basil, parsley, mint, rosemary, thyme, oregano, ginger, spring onions, red and green chili, to name just a few…

I also imagine my lovely spice-and-herbal garden to turn into a cozy nook where I can read or write in solitude while inhaling the mix of aromatic, tangy, sweet, lemony, spicy, peppery scents wafting from my plants…

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Or a snack corner for my family and guests, so preparing tea would be fun and delectable with the many choice herb leaves to add to our cups…

Or into a perfect outdoor dining area, right in its midst, with white-painted trellis in the perimeters, skylight, old style iron-wrought chairs, some soft settee and a long heavy wooden table. Hmmmm…

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Spices and herbs are a delight indeed to have to perk up our meals and moments with loved ones, add zest to everyday rituals, and give a bit more life to our surroundings!

 

My Simple Garden

I’m just glad I have this small, unassuming place where some green plants grow alongside one wall. They were just sparse the first time I moved in, yet now they have grown and their thick foliage partly shield my porch from the gate.

Just a simple home greenery

It delights me each morning as I look through my front window, which faces the morning sun, to see the varying shades, shapes and sizes of my home greenery and my sole yellow hibiscus.

My Garden Collage

I love gardens, and how I wish I had one as lovely as this one I photographed on an out of town trip…

In a highland resort south of Manila

Yet the simple garden I keep, including the few potted plants I have at the back of the house, just gives me as much pleasure.  Tending my plants – watering, pruning, propagating and watching them grow, seeing little brown maya birds, even a few butterflies fly about, uplifts my spirit because this affords me a space to commune with nature right in the middle of the city, and a welcome respite from my work-at-home-job and house chores.

For me, gardening is my special form of praying, so I feel one with God’s creation.

Even with such a small garden as mine, gardening is almost like taking care of a child, or a pet….and I realize a creative project as well. It isn’t as simple as it seems, as it takes time, diligence, and love to keep a garden, nurturing it to growth.

Yet the joy it gives is so much more than the sensual pleasure you derive from it – for when you nurture a garden, you also nourish your soul.

My Garden Collage 2

In My Garden Collage 2 are a picture of my citrus plant, in the bigger box above, and of a young “lanzones” fruit tree, as well as the other green plants in my simple yet refreshing garden.

 

*Note: If you notice, my images here no longer appear — since I changed my theme, I lost them and still need to go over my files to recover them. But I’m keeping my post as is — nice to see what I wrote at the time.

Befriending Oneself

Are you your own best friend?

Sometime lately, I wasn’t feeling good about myself due to not having been able to meet some of the goals I set to accomplish – for my work and my personal tasks. As if I’d been treading on parched grounds or caught up in a swirl or lost in a maze, leaving me utterly restless, unproductive. Things like this makes me irritated – annoyed at myself.

Now recently, I’ve come across one   interesting article, “The Kindest Thing You Can Do for Yourself in 2015” by Martha Beck. According to her, most of us are more than one person. As we figure out how we fit in socially and learn how to tailor our behavior to various situations, we end up with several—often wildly dissimilar—versions of ourselves.

And these different ‘selves’ form a bustling community of judges, critics and doomsday prophets who conspired to put me through hell. So follow the drift? In other words, it is why you easily fall into the trap of disliking or even hating yourself.

Thus, she suggests a method of befriending oneself — one that’s centered on empathic listening. Paradoxically, this process begins with exaggerating the divisions between yourselves, she writes. Part of that process is a conversation with yourselves: with your Best Friend Self, or BFS, and your Train Wreck Self (TWS). The point is if you are able to recognize both the positive and negative aspects of yourself, you can let your BFS become truly like a best friend to your TWS, and help that aspect of yours to grow. But the real challenge here is to listen to your TWS — do not negate it nor suppress. As Martha Beck says, friends do things for each other. Read more about it here:

However, the one thing I’ve found best in dealing with my negative self is…prayer. In prayer, I can lift all my burden, my cares to God without hesitation. Through prayer, I acknowledge God as the Source of my being — the God of Love is in the deepest core of my being, and God loves me totally, unconditionally, no matter how sinful I am. Thus, if God can love me so much as to send His Son as a ransom for my sins, who am I to despise myself?

Photo by Sarah Bürvenich on Unsplash

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. – John 3.16

 

Watch this video for the song “Through My Father’s Eyes” – one song that aptly describes how God is the Greatest Friend we can ever have.

 

Food Trip

Dreams nourish the soul just as food nourishes the body. The pleasure of the search and of adventure feeds our dreams.

Warm, hearty, vegetable soup ~~ photo by Nathalie Jolie on Unsplash

 

No, I wouldn’t go as far as ordering for something too exotic — such as snake or pig’s ears.

I remember the most exotic food I ever ate at a restaurant was boar’s meat, which turned to be a gastronomical delight, but it also had a kind of after-taste I didn’t quite relish. And the first time my sisters and I eagerly tried one particular lamb dish, my tummy almost did a double somersault, so my first bite of that succulent meat turned to be my last. Or so I thought until I’ve come to slowly develop a taste for lamb dishes.

But eating out especially in a fine restaurant with my family, and occasionally with friends, I tend to order something I’ve never tasted at all, be it foreign or Filipino dish. My adventurous taste buds often long for the strange yet delectable concoction, nicely presented. My rationale: why not? Why order for something that I can easily cook at home. Besides a new dish at a restaurant is another recipe I can try to whip up in my own kitchen later on.

However, those times when both body and soul need nourishment, my favorite comfort food, any kind of vegetable soup similar to the one pictured above, will always be my go-to dish to have.

 

Repetition and Change

A great part of me enjoys repetition. I feel comfortable with the tried and tested pattern of my everyday life, yet I also yearn for change every now and then. I try to strike a balance between the old and the new.

a church's domed ceiling with patterns of repetition
a church’s domed ceiling with patterns of repetition

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Welcome 2015!

Thankfully, I was able to capture this at the precise time during the countdown…

The world, once again, has been thankfully gifted with the Blessing of a New Year, a precious time when many feel brand-new, and almost everything around seems pristine. Whatever the past year has been, most of us bask in the glow of hope that the newborn year brings. Much like how a mother feels at birthing her infant, that special mix of joy, thrill and awe, or how hearing a baby’s first cries or coos warms the cockles of the heart.

Such a perfect time indeed to promise, once again, as in the years before – to be better, to do better –  a pledge that underlines our personal new year’s resolutions. Such a time-worn tradition meant to be broken, as the old cliché goes. Perhaps so, for those who do not take this yearly ritual seriously.

However, as much as we do intend to follow through the resolutions we make around this time, still many of us, myself included, fail to do so with some of our intentions, for some reasons or the other.

Thus, as I thoughtfully, meaningfully reflect on the year ahead, I’d still vow to start on a clean slate to be a better person, to do better for myself and others, and in my own small way, make the world a better place.

It sounds like a cliché, I know, but this is my most basic resolution from which to draw my specific action plans — not for the entire year though. Rather than be my ritual vow at the beginning of 2015, I shall make it my daily commitment, for in this way, I know I can stay true to myself, and reach my goals.

 

The Home That Nurtured My Dreams

The apartment where I grew up with my parents and eight younger siblings was a corner unit in the 1st building complex inside a huge family compound belonging to a clan from up north of Manila.

And this little space which my family occupied was home to me from the time we moved there shortly before I entered kindergarten until I got married. It was my home for 19 years, the home that also nurtured my youthful dreams.

“It didn’t matter how big our house was; it mattered that there was love in it.”
Peter Buffett, Life Is What You Make It: Find Your Own Path to Fulfillment

Continue reading “The Home That Nurtured My Dreams”

Giving Thanks for All God’s Gifts

It’s Wednesday and I’ve been thinking of what to write when I noticed that most posted statuses today on Facebook were expressing “feelings of being blessed.”

I do believe God grants each and everyone of us countless blessings, great or small, that come in many different forms. And blessings do not necessarily come in ways that make us happy, joyful or feeling rich.

Blessings are also packaged as pain, sadness, frustration – like an illness, death or separation from a loved one, loss of job – but they are blessings too. Continue reading “Giving Thanks for All God’s Gifts”

Loving Me, Loving Mom, Loving God

Picture this: a thin, brown-skinned girl, not exactly kayumangging kaligatan but darker and taller than most of the fairer mestiza kids in an exclusive all-girls school, with thick white-framed eyeglasses, black hair pulled into a neat ponytail pinned with a big blue or black silk ribbon on top.

This waif of a girl would also speak so softly almost like a hush that her teachers often coaxed her to raise her voice a decibel higher.

She didn’t wear boy shoes as most of the girls did, and which she too wanted, but always wore her black ‘Mary Janes’ to go with her bobby socks trimmed with lace.

In other words, she was the 1960s’ version of a school nerd — the odd girl out, so she thought.

Now don’t get me wrong – but my being conscious of my brown complexion was only when I did not know any better; my mother would often tell me my complexion was something to be proud of. As I grew up, I disliked using whitening lotions and the like.

Me in grade school as a shy “nerdy” pupil…

And that was what made me so terribly shy in grade school. Dared I not join a group during breaks unless one classmate would call me in or was with me. And in the class, I’d often wait for the teacher to call on me to recite even though I knew the answers well.

Yet, in a strange way – my shyness would also lead me, at times, to venture out with courage to play all by myself in the school playground, or enjoy fun rides with schoolmates from other sections during our school fairs. Or to sign up for a drum and bugle class, a singing group, and a painting class in high school.

You see, I could never carry a tune ’til now, and I could only splash a mixture of colors on my drawing pad – my idea of being a future Picasso or Monet. But I still surged ahead with doing all these. Just because.

I remember the look of stunned disbelief of one particular  talented young boy upon seeing me on our first day in the painting class, like he saw his dog or cat taking up the brush. I sensed a note of contempt as he asked me why? He seemed to think based on his self-righteous standard, I wasn’t meant to be there. SO… what?

The spirit of that young girl from way back still lives in me — as I pursue my passions with a mix of confidence, audacity and spunk. And that is what I love most about myself – because it’s what makes me unique, what gives me the courage to learn new things, cultivate new interests like blogging…a late bloomer in the field of writing.

That lakas ng apog  was sparked by my Mom’s own passion for living, for she indeed was a woman oozing with confidence and grit, inspiring in me and my siblings to achieve our goals, test new waters and scale the heights.

And that is what I love most about her, my dearest Mom, even if she’s no longer with us. To her I will forever be grateful for this, and whatever I achieve, to God be the Glory!