I Wish I Were…A Nun!

One fine school day, during recess time, when I was a Kinder pupil at a Catholic school run by nuns, I hurried up to the chapel.

All alone in the silence, I tiptoed along the middle aisle until I reached the communion rail (pre-Vatican II days). Then gently I knelt, looked up at the big crucifix lording over the altar, and whispered with all my childlike fervor my simple prayer, “Dear Jesus, please make me a nun!”

In those days, nuns almost everywhere wore their white habits long, until their ankles, their neck and forehead also covered with their white and black starched headdress. So did those nuns in my school, and what often caught my attention was the big, heavy, rosary chain hanging from the waistline down to the hemline of each nun.

Because every evening, we would have our family rosary time at home, and each of us had our rosaries, the nuns’ huge black rosary beads fascinated me a lot. I do not recall any longer what else made my 5-year old self wished to be like them, but it was my ardent dream, my 1st ever.

Later back at home that day, I confided to my parents about my prayer in the chapel. Hearing that, my parents only smiled, then my Mom asked me if I were ready then to sleep all by myself in my own room because that is what nuns do. You see, as a child, I was always afraid of the dark.

Soon after, my childhood dream seemed to have gone beyond the glorious sunset.

A glorious sunset by Holger Link/Unsplash

 

 

You Can Age with Grace Without Ever Growing Old

Is it possible to age without growing? Why or why not?

Thus, goes the prompt for the day – and this question can have answers from different perspectives.

For most, “to age” means simply adding years to one’s life, and growing may either be the natural process of growing old – with the accompanying signs of physical, emotional, psychological aging. Or it can also mean self-development, self-improvement, gaining maturity. The term old  can be taken literally or figuratively; positively or negatively.

Depending on our unique life experiences and how we look at life itself, it is possible to age without necessarily feeling old‘ — because one is at peace with his/her life, and may at the same time be growing fuller in wisdom…

Or one can age and grow old as when one has lost the idealism, fervor of his/her youth…

As well as some other forms of aging and growing in between…

As for me, I’d like to believe that as I age, I am getting better as a person, aging gracefully  like fine wine. No need to feel old.

So I embrace my years with grace and gratefulness, learning new things as much as I can, recognizing life lessons from my experiences, and digesting nuggets of wisdom along the way…

Like vine, I do my best to cling to the good values that have formed me… — photo by Boudewijn Huysmans on Unsplash

When I ripen to my diamond years ahead, my spirit shall still be as sweet and bubbly as in my days of youth.

Though my years will be fading, my heart shall remain sparkling with Hope!

 

 

Why Not Having it All is Okay

This is a sequel to my previous post “Can a Woman Ever Have it All?” in which I wrote “what matters more is not having it all, but the striving that a woman does…”

I came along this article by Anne-Marie Slaughter, Why Women Still Can’t Have It All.” An academician in the fields of politics and international affairs, a woman who once held a high-level government post (which she left in order to have more time for family and teaching), and currently President and CEO of the New America Foundation, wrote that though she believed women, as well as men, can indeed have it all, even have it all at the same time, yet she stresses

“but not today, not with the way America’s economy and society are currently structured. My experiences over the past three years have forced me to confront a number of uncomfortable facts…”

What struck me was her assertion:

“Women of my generation have clung to the feminist credo we were raised with, even as our ranks have been steadily thinned by unresolvable tensions between family and career, because we are determined not to drop the flag for the next generation. But when many members of the younger generation have stopped listening, on the grounds that glibly repeating “you can have it all” is simply airbrushing reality, it is time to talk.”

Another article, The Only Definition of Success That Matters”  likewise explains what matters most is whether you are happy! The author, Jeff Haden wrote, and I quote: “Defining success is important, but taking a clear-eyed look at the impact of your definition matters even more. As in most things, your intention is important, but the results provide the real answer.

In other words, whatever you choose to do, if it brings you happiness, you are satisfied, then you are successful in that area. He also stresses, like I do, something else has to give. You cannot have everything, for as he says, “tradeoffs are unavoidable […]  Other things are clearly more important than making money, and that’s okay.”

I most agree with him that there are more important things in life than making money (more than we actually need for ourselves and our families and the good works we do for others), and reaching for the top. These are good goals, but they should not take precedence over our time spent with family and loved ones, maintaining good health and inner balance. I again stress that instead of focusing our energies on having it all, we should strive to do our best in anything we do for the betterment of ourselves, our families, our communities. Let us strive to leave a good mark and make our world a better place each day.

 

Can A Woman Ever Have it All?

My Personal Thoughts on Having It All

Having it all, for most people, carries the connotation of having reached the level of success an individual has envisioned for oneself.

Often too, success for many women is measured up against what the society/culture/organization/ dictates upon them. In today’s world, usually having it all is tied to material as well as social expectations.

And if a woman tends to conform to those dictates, she may feel a sense of failure, or a sense of not yet being accomplished – thus, having it all will still be an elusive dream for her.

I’d rather define my personal success, as a woman, as having attained my dreams or accomplished my goals, short-term or long-ranged.

Yet, it also depends on how a woman defines “having it all” based on her values, principles and aspirations in life. Thus, if I were talking about my values, especially in terms of family, love, happiness, health – I must say I have it all. These are the intangibles in my life I cherish most.

On the other hand, it can be said that having it all is dependent on the attainment of material goals, and I guess this is easier to evaluate or quantify.

Still, on deeper reflection, since life is not perfect, I wonder how one can truly “have it all,” but this is me – my own understanding of that expression. I do not believe that any woman can realistically have it all at the same given time, no matter how one tries to: fame, wealth, love, good health, family, career, having a successful business — the list goes on.

Somehow, something has to give, one way or the other, no matter how one does her best to achieve work-life balance.  Besides, there are circumstances beyond the control of the individual that may affect her attainment of all her hopes and dreams.

Thus, I consider myself a work in progress; each day, presents new challenges. Somehow, there are things that I wish I had but still don’t, or there are tasks/goals I still yet have to meet. There are aspects of myself I know I must harness or improve to be the best person I can ever be – for myself, for my loved ones, for God.

Despite these “imperfections” or “lack of something” or “small failures,” in my life, am I happy? YES – and that is what matters for me because all these are measured up against MY OWN values, beliefs, life principles grounded on my personal faith in God, most of all. I have learned to be content with what I have for now, but I still strive to the best I can.

I do believe what matters more is not having it all, but the striving that a woman does in order to achieve, to grow, to contribute in whatever way she can – time, talent, resources, her heart, her love, for the betterment of the world around her.

My dear readers, do you think a woman can ever have it all? Share your thoughts with me.

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

Image Source

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.

 

Here Comes December Joy!

Here comes December, a time of joy…

What do I do when I’m down to bring myself a little joy?

It takes so little to make me feel joyful…simple little things that can mean a lot to me, like sipping coffee or listening to my favorite music/songs, contemplating on nature, puttering in my tiny garden, composing an entry for my journal or blog, curling up with a book…

Sipping coffee brings a cupful of joy…

Just simply doing the things I love the most, having the food or drinks I enjoy, already makes me content…

But mostly, it’s thinking about joyous occasions like Christmas, or birthdays – mine and those of my loved ones and close friends, and being with them, that make me feel wonderfully happy. Looking ahead to out of town trips especially family visits to my sister in the convent, or simply lunch or dinner dates with family or friends, is enough to make my heart thrilled and filled…

Perhaps there’s still so much the child in me that when irritating things get me down, I just hie off to my fantasy world and daydream. Yes, at my age I still do a lot of imaginings and in a while, I’ll be back to my normally cheerful self.

However, when things do really become depressing, difficult, I turn to prayer to seek safe refuge with God, and gather strength from Him, which ultimately brings joy to me again…Or significantly, I may forget to give thanks for my day or task at hand, so I feel out of sorts. Then prayer is the answer.

Christmas Joy

Now that December is here, and the Christmas season is at hand, the real meaning of joy should not be lost on me and anyone else who profess to be Christians. For the real meaning of joy is in finding God in our everyday lives no matter how mundane. It is in rising to every occasion we can apply the Christian values we are called to practice every day. And for me, it is in communicating with God in prayer that I can find joy in each of my days…December helps me put JOY in deeper perspective as I prepare my heart, my soul, my life in meaningful celebration of my Christ Savior’s Holy Nativity.

 

 

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

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