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.

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

 

 

How to Grow Your Friendship

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.

Thus, with my own sets of friends, I try to give time to make our friendships grow. I

Cupcakes of Friendship

only need to make time for each of my friends, even for just a cup of tea or tall glass of iced coffee on a hot summer day, with a cute cupcake to boot, to make life a little sweeter with our bonding moments.

 

Aging Gracefully Like Wine

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, just like fine wine.

Like vine, I do my best to cling to the good values that have formed me...

So I embrace my years gracefully, picking up lessons and nuggets of wisdom along the way…

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 sparkle 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.

Life is Good Despite Its Imperfections

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

Be a friend to yourself; all things shall pass...except Love.

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. ‘Twas 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:

Have a conversation with yourself like real best friends do. This is a photo I took of one special nook at the Eggs for Breakfast Cafe in Antipolo City.

 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?

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.

Photo Credit (for the image of Ocean Waves)

Food Trip

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

 

Filipino-Spanish Fusion Dish

Image Source

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.

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, similar to the one pictured above, will always be my go-to dish to have.