“Say not in grief ‘he is no more’ but in thankfulness that he was.” – Hebrew Proverb
Recently, my family commemorated the first anniversary of my father’s entry into eternal life. I still grieve at his passing and times when tears just well up in my eyes at the slightest thought of him.
Yet, at the same time, due to the raging pandemic, the pain seems to have been tempered by a sense of relief and gratefulness. Yes, it may seem selfish especially as I think of those who have suffered deaths in their families because of COVID-19. But to me and the rest of the family, it was a blessing in disguise that our parents had gone on when they did.
And as a tribute to my father on his first birthday in the afterlife, here I share another of Dad’s legacy to us his family and loved ones.
We grew up with Music at home, with different musical instruments: the violin which was Dad’s forte; harmonica, banduria, guitar, xylophone, and the organ. He even sent me and my sister to learn the piano in school from Grade 1 to Grade 3. But I grew tired of it.
Dad was blessed with a deep baritone voice so he also taught us to sing, even teaching us the Solfeggio and letting us sing one by one. Singing together was one of our family weekend activities. We older ones were members of our church choir with Dad as the choir Conductor.
The nuns in the convent where my sister belonged would even request him to sing the Exsultet (Easter Proclamation) during the Easter Vigil each year, which he faithfully did, until my parents moved far outside the metropolis.
Dad also had a large collection of long-playing albums of classical music, Ray Conniff Christmas albums, plus many other musical records which we’d play and listened to on the stereo every weekend (often with him singing along or playing the violin).
Later on, he inspired one of my sons to play the violin and the banduria. Picking up from my Dad, my son learned the organ as well. Now a father himself, he guides his own children in playing the violin and the piano. Such is my Dad’s legacy of music to us, so cherished in our hearts.
“Blessed be the Name of the LORD from this time on and for evermore. From the rising of the sun to its setting, the Name of the LORD is to be praised. The LORD is high above all nations, and His Glory above the heavens.” — Psalm 113:2-4
“He covers the heavens with clouds, prepares rain for the earth, makes grass grow on the hills.” — Psalm 147:8
As Psalm 147:8 says that God put clouds in the heavens to make way for rain to water the earth and make the grass grow on the hills, so does He also allow difficulties and challenges to cloud our lives, not because He wants us to suffer. Rather, it is His loving way of preparing us for the rains of blessings to come and make us grow into the best person He wants us to be. To be the beautiful person we are meant to be, in and out.
When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears, and rescues them from all troubles. The LORD is near the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD rescues them from them all.
One recent morning, I spotted a lone pigeon on the rooftop of the building next to ours. I was so used to seeing almost every day a group of them, either resting or flying around in circles.
But today this little bird looked forlorn and sad and a bit confused. Where are they, my dear companions?
My heart filled with pity and wondered too about his usual companions. Have they been caught and served as a meal? And oh, why wouldn’t he fly away despite the soft rain? In the drizzle, he kept still, seemingly awaiting his friends. I waved my hands and opened, closed the window shutters in hope of catching his attention. Alas!
“The mighty one, GOD the LORD, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting. Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, GOD shines forth.” — Psalm 50:1-2
Purple sunset skies with a patch of bright golden orange forming like a halo over a tall unfinished structure. For almost six months, this building under construction went totally dark devoid of any activity. Thus, it gladdens me to see it springing back to life with lights on until curfew time because it means it is back to work for the building laborers who had lost their daily wages during the past months of more restricted community quarantine…
“Every child is an artist, the problem is staying an artist when you grow up” –Pablo Picasso
Each of us is endowed with a desire and strength to create, just like our Creator. For you and I are created according to God’s image and likeness, so each of us is gifted with the will to do something good, to create something beautiful.
As the above quote says, each child is an artist. Children are born with creative talents and a natural desire to draw and paint and sing and dance. Just watch any infant starting to communicate with those around him/her — the baby will instantly respond to singing or music by smiling, clapping/waving, kicking, and moving his/her body. A toddler who is given a crayon will instantly start to doodle on whatever surface is available, even on his/her arms and legs. No wonder babies and very young children are instinctively attracted to bright, vibrant colors!
Yet, along the way to adulthood, the creative energy that is innate often lies hidden, remaining either untapped or stifled. As the second part of the above quote from Picasso says, “the problem is staying an artist when you grow up.”
Perhaps you were told you weren’t good enough or meant to be an artist or singer or dancer. Or perhaps, you yourself might have believed this to be true of you.
Fortunate are those whose natural talents were earlier honed and developed with much encouragement and nurture from parents and teachers.
For those who are not as blessed with such environment of encouragement and nurture, you can by all means still untapped your hidden natural creativity.
How to unleash your inner creative self?
Believe in yourself
Express your inner child
Keep your sense of wonder
Be curious about life and how things work
Learn and learn and learn – be a lifelong learner
Think creatively- for example, when dealing with problems, look for creative solutions
Expand your horizon
Widen your perspective
Brainstorm every day for new ideas
Journal your thoughts daily
Commune with nature — even just looking out the window and gazing at the sky and watching birds fly
Find inspiration even in mundane things or activities
Cook up new dishes for your family to enjoy
Go ahead and sing or dance or paint or write poetry — just have fun doing it and silence your critical self
Enroll in online classes or watch tutorials on YouTube to learn and hone your artistic side
These are only some of the many ways you can unleash your Inner Creative Self. No matter how old you are, it’s never too late.
I’m in my early senior years, yet I’m able to re-discover my sense of creativity. Even at my age, I’ve been able to learn and improve my sense of beauty through my acquired photography skills, dabbling in some graphic designing, and now — digital painting.
The power to be your natural, creative self resides in you and you alone.
“We will discover the nature of our particular genius when we stop trying to conform to our own and other people’s models, learn to be ourselves and allow our natural channel to open.” — Shakti Gawain
Look at these digital canvases! I was overjoyed to discover there is a creative tool built into my old laptop — I’d never bothered to explore this because it looked or sounded too technical for me — something to do with 3D!
But a few days ago, out of curiosity, I clicked on the icon and viola! It’s an Art tool which can allow me to paint and transform my digital art work or part of it into 3D image. I can also insert 3D images from a gallery to personalize or make my digital art more interesting. Now I have another medium by which to channel my inner creative energy, much like photography and writing. Especially in this time of uncertainty and lockdown, it is good to channel my anxiety and fear brought about by this pandemic to something uplifting.
Because I am not really good with brushes nor with drawing pens and crayons ever since I was a kid, I went over to some painting tutorials for beginners at YouTube to learn about brush strokes, blending of colors, preparing/painting the background, and more. Then I started to apply what I’ve been learning and I also copied some designs there to see if I can do it.
Wow, I’ve never felt so amazed as to realize I can paint — even just digitally! I’ve always loved to do artwork — but I’ve always thought I wasn’t good enough!
Digital painting is a skill so different from real brush painting, but it is still a skill. And a challenge too because I need to learn how to maneuver the mouse, tweak the thickness or thinness of the brush or pen/pencil or crayon I want, choose the right colors, and everything else — to come up with something nice. Here are my initial attempts.
“If you hear a voice within you say, ‘You cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” – Vincent van Gogh
How do you channel your own inner creative energy, dear reader? Do share your thoughts on this in the box below.
If you are interested in unleashing and channeling your inner creative energy through painting but don’t know how, I suggest the following YouTube links:
I have written an article about my Mom for a book about mothers which I co-authored with 40 plus other authors and which we are launching later today in celebration of Mother’s Day.
Doing this book project is my extra-special Mother’s Day tribute to Mommy, or “Meh” as we in the family endearingly called her. It stands for the last syllable of “mommy,” with a short (e) sound.”
It’s my way of honoring her memory in a special way — immortalizing her and her undying love and sacrifices for her family in a book that can be read by many. I’ve already written articles about her here in this blog, but having her featured in a book is quite extraordinary! Here is an excerpt from my book article about Mommy.
Mommy: My Beloved Rose in Heaven
It has been five years, four months since God called my Mom back to His heavenly kingdom. Mommy, named Rose, was also a strong, faithful devotee of Mama Mary. This makes her more special and my memories of her more fragrant.
My Mom, you see, was born on the feast day of the Queenship of Mary – one of the most popular Marian feasts in the Catholic Church. Years later, she and Dad, a Marian devotee too, wanted to wed on the feast of our Lady of Lourdes. But because the Church prohibits (yes until today) weddings on feast days, they got married a day after. As if that was not enough, Mommy passed on to her eternal home on the anniversary of the Miracle of Fatima (or Miracle of the Sun), again another day associated with Mama Mary.
So with that, let me recount a few vivid images I cherish about my Mom and the lessons she imparted to me that make up her total essence. Each recollection is a lump in my throat as it brings me back to my sacred past.
NOTE: If you want to get your copy of this inspiring book, please click on To the First Woman Who Loved Me For now, it is in e-book format — as printing of the hard copy version is on hold due to the ongoing ECQ (Enhanced Community Quarantine). The stories contained here will truly warm your heart, each a special pearl of tender memories and praise to the first woman ever to have held and loved us.
“Moms are the people who know us the best and love us the most.” – Unknown