The Home That Nurtured My 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

My precious dear granddaughters, I write this to you so that when you grow much older you will have something to look back to, from your dear NaiNai…I remember when I was growing up as a child like you, I was as precocious as you both are today, and though I was really shy inside, mostly I was happy growing up in this house…home to me for almost 20 years.

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 was one of those American style 2-storey apartment complexes designed in the popular retro architecture of the ’60s, and located in a quiet middle-class neighborhood. Most families here sent their children to the nearby Catholic schools or the pilot public schools.

Our front door opened to the main driveway, the right side of which, if you were entering the big iron-wrought gates, was lined with a variety of green plants and flowers, from the gate to the end of the long pathway. A tall fruit-laden star-apple tree also stood by the entrance, like a solemn guard.

From the kitchen, our back door led us to the small yard that laid between our building and the 2nd main complex where most of the family members of the clan lived in their own smaller units. At the tip of that small yard was my father’s garage. Hence, when he drove home each evening from office, he would have to turn left from the main driveway.

The yard and the driveway fronting our unit served as our points of connection with the other children in that compound.

Most interesting were all the box-like windows in the house, the type of which we could climb up inside, close the shutters, and viola, we’d be in our own little world, out there in the open yet safely enclosed within the house.

These windows. They were often the stage for my and my siblings’ imaginative wandering minds. 

Much like the houses of old, an enclosed staircase led from the 1st landing up to the 2nd floor, and this staircase was another favorite nook of mine, where I’d often write in my diary or create poems, or read books – books filled our home including the bathroom. But many times, dreamy me would just sit there on one of the steps, leaning against one side, my feet up on the wall, musing my hours away…

That staircase. My comfort zone where I was free to be alone with my thoughts.

“I should say: the house shelters day-dreaming, the house protects the dreamer, the house allows one to dream in peace.”
Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space

Our family unit’s focal point was the medium-sized living room where we had our family altar, the Sacred Heart of Jesus on the wall, hung over the corner table lined with statues of Mama Mary and St. Joseph, and other saints like St. Jude and St. Therese of the Child Jesus. Yet in each room upstairs, smaller altars were enshrined as well.

Each evening, my parents would gather us all in that cozy space, in the living room, after my father had arrived home from office, to say our family prayers that would start with the recitation of the holy rosary, before we partook of our supper — one that often lasted an hour. Our family prayers were personal to us for they were composed by my parents.

Our family ritual. It was, until now even in our own homes, a ritual that has nourished our souls, our faith in God, and one that has marked us as a family.

Family meal times were also a time for sharing stories about our day, or quiz time as when my parents would check on our lessons, or just simply telling jokes. With a large brood such as ours, it was usually a time of mirth, playful bantering or at times – marked with petty quarrels that my parents would soon squash enough with just a simple stern look or a “ssshhhhh” from either of them.

The house where I grew up. The home that nurtured my dreams. It has helped transform me into the person I am today. Thus, so thankful am I there were those elements that cultivated my inter-, intra- and meta-personal relationships: with others (family & childhood friends), myself, and with God: the yard. the driveway. the windows. the family dining table; the staircase; and most of all, our family altar.

That house. My family’s sacred space. A special memory for me.

“When I think of home, I think of a place where there’s love overflowing.” – sung by Diana Ross

 

 

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 that exclusive girl 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 boys’ 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.)

And that was what made me so terribly shy in grade school. Dare 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 of my comfort zone, like playing alone in the school playground, or taking fun rides with other kids during our school fairs. Or signing 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, till 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 for I wanted to do these things.

I remember one talented young boy in that painting class asking me why I was there. He was right – I didn’t have the talent for drawing nor painting…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!

 

Back to Life On a Monday Morning

 

Just when most people kiss the night early on a Sunday evening, to prep for work next day, I may still be up late winding down with the last of my articles to post for the week.

And while many, cloaked with a tinge of the recent weekend, hurry over breakfast, dash off in hope of beating the traffic, I find myself resurrected back to life on a Monday morning.

Monday morning means having a renewed sense of energy...

An early riser, I get up on Mondays, late nite or not, with a renewed sense of energy, not exactly physical though.

It comes more from knowing I’ve done my darndest, even as I still shake with the mental fatigue that have me drained, dragging towards the end of my week…

Thus, Monday morning means enjoying each second through yoga, chores, errands, going out, before facing the computer again. No hurrying. No minding of master time as he passes by.

Yet, I should remember nothing lasts, and downtimes are not forever —

Soon I must earnestly begin, lest I find myself trudging back to the graveyard!

~~***~~

 

Photo Credit: Clinical Hypnosis

 

Uncanned Laughter: My Blooper

 

People who know me well, like my close friends, often brand me as funny, crazy, and even wacky at times. Many of my students likewise have remarked they like it when I make them laugh.

Perhaps there is that touch of hilarity in me, albeit in my deadpan way, that elicits uncanned laughter.

But what constitute my ticklish moments for others are those times I’d rather bury my face in the sand. My closest friends tell me that if my life were a collection, it would be a collection of bloopers.

Bloopers indeed — embarrassing, hilarious or clumsy…

...if my life were a collection, it would be a collection of bloopers...

Like that day in college when I was only a shy sixteener in my 1st year in the university. You know how it is when you are trying to muster enough grace to walk in your 3-inches heels and white uniform that rose 2 inches from your knee, and hoping your crush would be around. That feeling of balancing your steps while trying to look cool, casual.

But I didn’t expect this. I stepped daintily towards the university’s main building, took another step, and felt my right foot … on the ground! My shoe somewhere behind me.

With all those students swirling around me, I felt like dressed chicken being roasted on an open fire…

How about you — have ever experienced anything like this?

Life by the Advantage of Foresight

 

If I could have the power to predict

A heart that sees... PhotoCredit: Inspirational Christian Blogs

and make things happen as I see

By the advantage of foresight                      

I’d predict my

Life without blight

A life where tears

Means Joy

Peace

Love

Not cries of anger

Nor hatred

From this wounded soul chained

by the shackles of sin

Not cries of lament,

anguish nor torment

From an isolated soul

Waging battles that

Leaves the self

Broken, shattered

Even if it

Means a day less

For what is a day

If ruled by wickedness

I’d rather see Tears

Washing away

Each pain

As I make my way

One step closer to the fullness

of Life I am meant to live

in Christ’s Everlasting Home.

 

Image Source

My Mirror Crack’d!

 

There’s a superstitious belief that when you break a mirror, bad luck is sure to follow, and it’s 7 years at that. And often, a cracked mirror is disposed of quickly.

Now, if indeed I were to wake up one day to find the mirror crack’d, I’d see a much better world. Not perfect, not even close to it.

Beauty Behind a Broken Mirror Photo Credit: imgarcade.com

Yet, around me, beauty would shine more strikingly than ever just like in an eclipse —

the moon’s mystifying form, sans its own light, renders her more beautiful than the blinding light of the sun…

My mirror crack’d, thus I could see myself more clearly, through my neighbors’ eyes and mine;

Perhaps in a world without mirrors, people would be more humble, quiet, content…

We’d become more in touch with ourselves less the self-consciousness that would otherwise distract us from our real purpose in life — and that can allow you and I to journey on with humility, simplicity, sincerity…

Truly, when our mirror of self-vanity cracks open, it reveals the real gem beneath our facade, our mask…

Each of us becomes a beautiful broken piece from that shattered glass of superficiality and pride.

 

Image source

 

You, Robot: My BionicEyes

 

Oh I’ve been dreaming about this for so long, but if only I could have a Robot, I’d have a pair of BionicEyes that can scan my mind, as I write.

You see, now that I’m earning a living out of creating content for websites – I realize that writing cannot all be fun, especially when running out of time, and there are still loads of articles to read and curate.

Anybot's Glowing Eyes, my dream Robot! Photo Credit: PopularMechanics

And so, if ever I could, I’d command You, Robot,  my dear BionicEyes, to do just this one Big task:

Capture, collect and gather all the thoughts that have been running here and there in my mind, and flash them onto my screen, so that all I have to do is just to re-arrange them as neatly, logical as I want them to be…

Not wanting to use my keyboard any longer as I curate an article, when my wrists are tired – my dear Robot – Be my Eyes and set all the ideas right before me – on the screen – Now.

This is not to say I do not enjoy what I’m doing. On the contrary, it delights me immensely so.

Yet, times when I do want everything automated, except thinking itself…so please, my BionicEyes, come to my rescue!


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And My Writer Pad’s Name Is…

 

The Name’s The Thing, yes. It feels good naming some things. Just like My Writer Pad,  one among several journals I keep. And my Writer Pad’s name is — Sean George. How it came to be, I will tell you.

"My Writer Pad" - my conventional hardcopy journal, whom I fondly address as Sean George, and my little blue book - a collection of my earliest poems...

Sean stands for the name of my long-time Hollywood crush — the ever so debonair Sean Connery. I’ve liked him more since watching him in “Finding Forrester” and in “First Knight.”  The way he carries himself like true blue royalty can still make me swoon for the moon, letting my imagination go wild with his hypnotic gaze and deep strong voice. Sigh….

Then, George comes from the name of one of the main characters in a short love story my Korean student, a nun, and I read, discussed in class. At the end of several weeks of digesting the story, my student said she hoped I’d find my own George. Well, here he is, together with Sean.

With that name, it’s easy for me to be lured to come to Sean George, my Writer Pad, bare my soul, with my words streaming down on its pages.

 

 

 

The Eighth Sin

 

Backstabbing, today's plague, as it was then, continues to shatter countless relationships... - Photo Credit: Marichu Fajota Jose

 

Et tu, Brute? — this oft-quoted famous line from William Shakespeare’s play, Julius Ceasar which most of us studied in English literature speaks of deception, the ultimate betrayal of one’s closest friend. Can you imagine the shock, the bleeding pain and disgust Ceasar could have felt at seeing his most trusted friend Brutus among his assassins?

And how about feeling Jesus’ anguished pain at Judas’ betrayal of him — Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”

In my own “Book of Books,” backstabbing is the eighth sin.

Backstabbing, today’s plague, as it was then, continues to shatter countless relationships, destroying homes, annihilating nations. Oh the torment it brings, this eighth sin of humankind…

 

How about you, what do you consider the eighth sin? Why?