On Finding My Unique Writing Voice

I know I’m smart, but I don’t sound smart when I write. I know I’m intelligent, but I don’t want to sound all-knowing or intellectual. I know I’m fun to be with, but I don’t want to sound like fun.

I’m a serious person – but I don’t want to sound too staid or flat when I write. I want my articles to be able to speak to you, move you, make you react or comment. You may give me pointers or feedback or anything as long as we can strike up a conversation. To create a ripple among other readers, I hope.

I want my blog to have a far reach – especially among people my age – but anyone is most welcome. I want my blog not only as a repository of my reflective thoughts on life in general. But of opinions on issues that matter around the world today. More so with the kind of world we have today that abounds with hatred, violence, lack of civility, and the like.

But I don’t want to write about anything political or of current events. Maybe just an opinion or two about some issues. Maybe just to influence some thinking and inspire some deep conversation.

I feel shy or embarrassed whenever I tell people I write in my own blog because I feel my writing lacks something. Perhaps what they say as personality or voice. Hence what I’m doing now is an exercise to find my own voice.

I know I write with sense – but I see now it lacks chutzpah. What can I do to add some life to my pieces?

Okay. I’m writing now to you my dear friend. You know me well enough, and one thing I like is I’m able to make you laugh because I’m witty, smart. There – I’ve just found two adjectives I want my blog to sound like: WITTY, SMART (not trying hard nor trite).

I also wish my blog to sound cool, soft and flowing – peaceful and serene. Because a deep part of myself longs for quiet and calm. Like meditative sounds in the background — that’s how I long my blog to sound like.

I came across this quote; somehow it makes sense.

If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it. Or, if proper usage gets in the way, it may have to go. I can’t allow what we learned in English composition to disrupt the sound and rhythm of the narrative.”
—Elmore Leonard

Being in the Here-and-Now

Surely most of you have found yourselves at one task, yet your mind was elsewhere. I guess this is a normal part of a busy person’s life. Or of the modern person.

And many of us are not even aware that our thoughts drift, here and there. We seem to be always running after time. Catching our breaths. Cramming so many things within a short span. Mindless doing.

We lack attention. Our focus is elsewhere. We tend to think of what we have to do next.

Such is the illness that plagues our modern times. Our time has become more stressful due to the Noise that comes with our wired space/environment.

Hence, we destroy our bodies. We burden our minds. And we sap our spirit. No wonder why the world seems to experience these health conditions more and more: depression, anxiety, cancer, and other diseases.

We often forget: the best way to heal ourselves physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, is in our Being at the moment. In being present in the Here-and Now. In being mindful of our task at hand. Enjoying our life at the moment. Leaving past aches behind. Not worrying about tomorrow.

We are given ONE LIFE to live. We have only this moment — Now. Life becomes more Meaningful; Fruitful; Enriching — if we try to live in the moment. Not rushing headlong into the far unknown, nor being stuck or fixated on the past. (Of course, this does not mean not cherishing good memories and forgetting life’s invaluable lessons gained).

The PRESENT is precious and sacred. We are called by the Almighty God to relish His Gift of Today. To hold and honor it with all the good we can do in the best we can. Before it slips away…

It’s Not How Many that Matters

A lively group discussion, an intimate tête-à-tête, an inner monologue — in your view, when it comes to a good conversation, what’s the ideal number of people?

Thus goes a  writing prompt on Word Press’ The Daily Post sometime ago…and as I ponder, I find not one right number of people to include in a meaningful conversation. It depends perhaps on the purpose or setting.

For instance, in social gatherings in the family, or in school, or at work, the more, the merrier seems to be a good dictum to follow.

However, one should not come expecting a meaningful exchange of ideas, thoughts or feelings. Why? It’s often only an avenue to keep up with each other, or feel/pretend like one belongs and not seem an intruder or outcast. Sometimes big social events have this intimidating effect on me.

Mostly in this setting, it’s more fun to observe where the ball is rolling. Have you ever tried doing this?

Listen carefully and you aren’t sure if you can get the flow..each seems to be waiting to throw their own ball in this verbal ping-pong interaction that often results in a cacophony of voices that falter to meaningless ‘Ohs’, ‘ahs’ ‘uhmmmms I see’. Anyone can just drift in or out. And no one seems to mind. Have you ever experienced something like this? Did it also make you feel awkward?

A lively group discussion can be had when there’s a meeting of the minds – no matter what the topic or where the discussion takes place — at home over dinner, in the classroom, in the gym, on the street corner. You can sense people in the group are having a great time storytelling, debating, or simply exchanging views because each one listens, each one responds accordingly, and each one has learned something. That’s the biggest take away!

It’s not really how many people that matters to make a conversation meaningful. For as long as each participant gets into the flow — each voice speaks up, each gives a listening ear making everyone feel positive about themselves, the people they’re with, and the interactive moment –then it’s good, for it brings out the best in each person in the group.

What about you dear readers? What makes you feel good about a conversation? Share your thoughts down below.

 Note: I originally posted this in 2016 and this is my revised edition (2018).

Respect: What Today’s World So Badly Needs

It’s my first time to write something like this but I can’t just help it. What urged me to do so was the recent news that reported about one Law student being shamed by her professor when she came to class wearing shorts.

Her professor reportedly made sexist remarks to the third year female student and asked her to “dress properly.”  The comments made by the professor were indeed uncalled for, over the top, and yes, sexist —  arrogantly putting into question the student’s credibility and character!

Couldn’t he have just waited after class to reprimand his student in private? It would’ve been more respectful of him to do so, and could’ve avoided needless hurt on his student and the rest of the class. He should have comported himself with decorum, in the first place, for it was his perceived “lack of decorum” of his student that he was being angry about, and because he is a professor who should be modeling proper behavior to his students – at all times and circumstances. His profession demands he conducts himself respectfully, politely and with dignity.

Granted he could not wait after his class – shouldn’t he have chosen his words more wisely? Why did he have to go out of the issue anyway — the matter of dress code in his class.

Just because he is male, and an esteemed professor, he perhaps thought he had every right to chastised his student in front of everybody. So he chose to do so, without much discernment, without much thought to his choice of words and act. And according to another report, the professor said in an interview, there was no written dress code for students in NLSIU’s rules currently but he has asked the university administration to issue clarifications about the dress code to the students, especially keeping in mind that “certain decorum” is expected from students attending lectures taken “especially by a senior faculty member”.

certain decorum” is expected from students attending lectures taken “especially by a senior faculty member” — Clearly, the professor’s ego got pricked at seeing his student in shorts. More so, as this happened in a culture that is predominantly conservative, traditional and where a machismo attitude still takes hold of many males. But he could have acted with grace by keeping quiet until the bell rang, and talk with the student in a nice way.

Yes, I feel for the female student – and young as she is, I can just imagine the pain, embarrassment and shame she had to endure. She and her classmates had every right to feel aggrieved and protest this uncivilised act of their professor’s public shaming.

Yet on the other hand — I also wonder about people’s sense of propriety nowadays, not just the young. But older ones too. It seems to me that the very idea of being proper – is no longer observed because what is given more importance today is one’s individual preferences, one’s own comfort, one’s own ways. Individualism is the rage!

Who cares about what others say? But to observe propriety or decorum is still called for because showing respect is never out of place and is never out of fashion. Proper behavior or decorum is still a must in a civilised society. We all should adhere to unspoken rules as well that we give consideration for others, as we would expect them to be considerate of us. Respect for others, for places, for people’s time — this is part of plain good manners and right conduct. Giving others due respect is also respecting ourselves.

Yet many people — men and women, young and old alike — do not think about this, as they think of only themselves and what makes them happy and comfortable.

How would you think if a guest attends your formal wedding rites or that of your offspring, in very casual outfit – slippers and shorts? Would you not also feel upset about that? Or  even inviting your friend to a sit-down dinner at your home – honestly, wouldn’t you have some sort of expectation as to how your friends will be attired, or even you, when you visit other homes?

I’m not blaming the young girl – what I am just saying is, perhaps she, just like so many others – no longer think twice about discomfiting others – with the way they behave and dress in public.

Thus – my point is – whether the professor was right or wrong on being upset with what his student wore to class – he shouldn’t have behaved the way he did. And for the young girl, unless her shorts were of knee-length, such attire in class is improper indeed.

What the world today needs more of is RESPECT – respect for oneself, for one another, for rules of propriety, for whatever it takes to make the world a better, civilized place to live in.

Young and old, all should observe proper decorum. Let’s remember, the world isn’t just about us. We live with others; thus, it shouldn’t always be “live and let live.”

 

Morning Lessons from the Birds

Today, my morning blessing as I watched the dawn break into a beautiful sweet day came through a delightful treat. A flock of birds – doves or pigeons – circled the sky in a choreographed dance. In flight formation, they cut an awesome picture of grace and fluidity, and I realize they have been doing this each morning. How many times I’ve watched them by the window!

 

The birds glided together forming a wide triangle across the sky when in a split second, the head bird at the tip of the formation winged away on its own into another direction. It swept the sky with more dramatic, graceful motions. Yet the other members of the flock did not seem to mind, as if it were but natural for their guide to move away to oversee them from afar.

 

Despite the gulf that now lay between them and their head, the courageous birds held on with each other in formation without missing a beat.

How beautiful it is! Their morning ritual. Just like it’s become my morning ritual to gaze by the window.

 

Back to that bird going solo, and his flock, isn’t that an image of how God manifests His presence in our lives? Times when His presence is so palpable we can feel He is indeed leading the way. But sometimes, He seems to be gone particularly in our most trying times, or when we are overwhelmed with our daily concerns.

 

Yet, the truth is He is always with us, in us…we need only to trust in His constant presence and care, much like those birds whose confidence in their leader never falters. 

 

Isn’t it awesome that we can glean many of life’s greatest lessons from the natural world around us?

The Broken Glass: A Reflection

God heals a broken heart, but He has to have all the pieces.

This quote came to mind after I broke a glass by accident, and I was keeping it away intending to wrap it carefully before I’d relegate it to the trash bin.

Despite the damage, a sparkling glean radiated – like a glint of the rising sun – from its sharp, broken edges and the shards scattered at the bottom, transforming the broken glass into a stunning beauty!

Reflection

We are just like that glass ~~  broken, crushed at times. Yet we can appreciate ourselves even more, if we can look at ourselves through God’s eyes. And if despite our weaknesses, our failures, our struggles, we carry on and lift to God our pains and sorrows, we strengthen our character; we strengthen our faith in God and in ourselves.

But we need to trust God, first of all. Trust that He can work His miracle in us if we allow Him to do so. Thus, we need to lift up to Him all our cares, our sufferings — He has to have all the broken pieces” of ourselves to make us whole again, and again, and again…

Times when I do get angry at myself for some reasons, such as not meeting my goals for the day, or when stuck at a certain task, or faced with situations that make me think low of myself. Tears flow, especially when the hurt inside is much like the pain caused by the sharp edges of a broken glass. Yet I remember to pray – sometimes, it’s a real struggle to, still I cry my heart out to Him.

At that point, God’s Peace and Mercy fill my heart to the brim, and I get the confidence to move on. Indeed, I can start to love myself wholly again, for God makes me whole again with His undying Love.

God sees the beauty in our brokenness…

A Prayer to the Holy Spirit

Come, Holy Spirit…replace the tension within us with a holy relaxation.

Replace the turbulence within us with a sacred calm.

Replace the anxiety within us with a quiet confidence.

Replace the fear within us with a strong faith.

Replace the bitterness within us with the sweetness of grace.

Replace the darkness within us with a gentle light.

Replace the coldness within us with a loving warmth.

Replace the night within with Your day.

Replace the winter within us with Your spring.

Straighten our crookedness, Fill our emptiness,

Dull the edge of our pride, Sharpen the edge of our humility,

Light the fires of our love, Quench the flames of our lust.

Let us see ourselves as You see us.

That we may see You as You have promised,

And be fortunate according to Your word:

“Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.”

(prayer courtesy of the St. Joseph Convent of Perpetual Adoration, Hemady, Quezon City)

 

(I edited this piece because the glass photos that came with this post could no longer be used since I updated the theme of my blog…)

Finding Contentment

When life gives you lemons, make some lemonade.

Thus the saying goes. And I say, when there’s brownout (power cut-off), take some photos.

So what else is there to do when it’s raining, with a pestering brownout to boot – almost eight-hours long. You take photos, just like I did.  Thus, during yesterday’s heavy afternoon downpour that led to that long power cut-off, I busied myself with my simple phone camera looking for interesting angles, textures and patterns.

And here they are. Be warned though; they’re not pro. These are just snapshots meant to amuse, and let the creative juice flow. Just my way of finding beauty in the mundane – just as in my previous post with the same title– even during a heavy rain.

Looking through the rain-covered window

Finding contentment, seeing beauty even in the most mundane…

reflection in the rain
light and shadow
tangled wires and bamboo leaves freshened by the passing storm

 

a glow in the dark

 

 

Midlife’s Birthing Pain

Last evening I took enough time to ponder — about my blogging, and other aspects of my current life situation:

  • It upsets me to see I’m lagging behind my daily goals for my blog, (to write each day, follow the prompts…) for one. 
  • Another thing – my blog isn’t attracting enough readers or supporters as I want, even from friends and family to assure me I’m doing just fine – even after all the tweaking I’ve done, for the umpteenth time – and this frustrates me…a lot.
  • And yes, a little angry because no one even dares to tell me how bad my writing is or my topics are…something like this.
  • Lately, I’ve been feeling somehow vulnerable, helpless and weepy – feeling like I’m no longer my usual bubbly, capable self.
  • Times when I feel more like a woman conceiving for the first time…
Midlife's Birthing Pain

      Times when a midlifer’s journey is rough or uncertain…the path ahead not so clear; yet with faith, you move on… – Marichu

Well — it’s not just me alone. If you’re a midlifer like me, at one point, you may have undergone your own midlife crisis..we all do. Midlife is like this – as in any phase of life, you may stumble and fall; you may make a wrong decision or turn; you may feel bad about yourself, and so on.

It’s all part of self-growth…you only need to be able to see the gem of insight behind each mistake you make, then use it to your advantage.

But the term midlife crisis has a negative ring to it, so I’d rather call it midlife’s birthing pain. As in my case, like a woman conceiving, I am about to give birth to my new self, to actualize my new goals and visions in life, that may seem too big for me to handle, but it’s okay. It’s part of my life’s adventure.

Because my new dreams, my new goals are BIG DREAMS, BIG GOALS, so my midlife’s birthing pain is just as big – the anxiety of the unknown borne of an eagerness to see my dreams coming true.

Just like giving birth to a new purpose for my blog and making it grow, I’m hoping Summer’s Third Wind will finally gain readers as I share my stories, insights and thoughts, hoping these can somehow help other midlifers out there.

Thank you for reading this post.

Sticking to My Game

Today, in prayer, I revisited my life purpose and core gifts which I wrote in my heart, and on paper a few years back (My Soul Dreams) – and lo! The assurance I was seeking came in the form of today’s message from my favorite Filipino best-selling author, entrepreneur, preacher and lay minister Bo Sanchez — whom I’ve been following all these years –
Part of his Truly Rich Bronze letter for the week:

Friend, do you want to build a business?
Here’s my most important word for you: Stay in your core gift. God has given you a gift. Paul said in 1 Timothy 4:14, Do not neglect your gift. Use it and you will prosper.
Richard Carlson said, When you love what you do, it’s difficult not to succeed. And I love what Bestselling Author Zig Ziglar said: I don’t care how much power, brilliance or energy you have, if you don’t harness it and focus it on a specific target, and hold it there, you’re never going to accomplish as much as your ability warrants.
Stick to your game.
May your dreams come true,
Bo Sanchez

Thus, I stick to my game, as I believe what I have been doing – with much passion – are all part of my Life Purpose and my Core Gifts.

Teaching is My Core Gift

I believe God prepared me when I was younger to be a teacher, and that is what He wants me to be – and now that’s what I am.

And the road to my becoming a teacher, was not the conventional path, and I started late – in my 40s. Indeed, my Core Gift is to teach, to communicate.

But I believe God wants me to not only teach, but to also mentor others to become a good teacher. He wants me to be a teacher of other fields as well, not only of English.

Based on my experience, being a midlifer has helped enrich my teaching methods, while at the same time, I like that I’m still able to learn, to acquire new knowledge and skills.

To write is also my CORE GIFT, and God wants me to share this talent of mine to others, and to let others be inspired by my writings – not only my students.

Writing is My Core Gift too

With that, I vow to continue growing my skills as a teacher, as a writer, and where these core gifts lead me, God will give me the wisdom to know.

How about you my dear fellow midlifers – have you discovered what your life purpose is, what your core core gifts are? Do share them with me by leaving a reply below.
Thanks for being in the journey with me.

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 Dream's Glorious Sunset