Precious Moments

The moment I found out that their College had a quarter break in September and my son had five days to spare, I immediately got him a plane ticket home. (And because he is favored, I was able to get the ticket at a really good price!)

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My son’s home!!! 

We didn’t tell anyone that he was coming home, only my husband and I knew about it… but I scheduled a family dinner (with my parents, mother in law, siblings, brother-in-law, and nephews) at my sister’s house the day my unico was supposed to arrive. My sister thought I was getting depressed that’s why I was insistent on having dinner with the family.   Little did they know…

We told my son not to enter with us and to wait a few minutes outside the house so it will surprise them more when he enters. 

And so we were all mostly at the living room… my mom was saying it would have been nice if my son was around so we were complete, my dad kept asking me for updates on college activities… my nephews were just there hanging out with the adults, trying not to act bored…

On cue, my son knocked on the door — didn’t wait for anyone to open it — then entered and said, “Hi!” 

My older nephew let out a low, shocked, “HUH!!!” Followed by a high-pitched “What?!” from the younger one. My mom stared at his eldest grandchild for a good three minutes, not recognizing him, thinking we had another guest. Eventually she realized who she was staring at, stood up and hugged him tight. My dad asked me if I knew he was arriving — uhm, yes, father, I bought his ticket! 🙂  My sister who was slowly coming down from the stairs saw him and stared hard before realizing she wasn’t dreaming. 

It was a good surprise. It was nice night for a family reunion. 

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Act surprised, Leandro!

Family is 

The days passed in a blur. 

My son had homework to do, papers to write and submit, so it was somewhat a working vacation for him. Yet whenever possible, we took the time to go out and do things together. 

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Malling

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Hanging out with my dad 

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Buying groceries

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Eating some more… 😉 

He also spent a day at his old high school, visited his teachers and friends.

When at home, he would spend his hours reading or writing. We didn’t always have good, meaningful conversations because he had “stuff to do,” and there were plenty moments like this…

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Spongebob, how cute are you??!

I didn’t really mind much. He was home… that’s all that mattered! 

Besides, I can always pester him like this… 

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Me: Smile for mommy! Him: Why??! Me: Because I said so… 😉

It was a short break. Before we knew it, he had to fly back to Singapore. 

But then one thing I know for sure is that the moments spent together, no matter how fast — or how short — will always be precious.

Sooner or later he will be busier. He will be more settled in school or swamped with more activities, that staying at the dorm would seem like a better option than coming home. 

As our children grow older, they begin to need us less and less. And so we make the most of the moments when we can still hold them near. 

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Off to the airport. Again.

We make the most of the moments we share and spend with our loved ones because ultimately these are the moments that matter, right? 

Hello and goodbye…

These are the moments that put a smile in our hearts and give meaning to our lives. 

 

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This, to me, is the loneliest place on earth… 😦

 

photos are all mine

 

 

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Beautiful Minds

mother

We do have a number of things in common 

One Christmas season many, many years ago, my mom and I spent a morning sorting the Christmas gifts we bought, making sure we had all the gifts properly labeled and checking who else we missed buying a gift for.

We came across this big box, beautifully wrapped, yet unmarked. No name on the card, no secret marks, whatever. My mom wondered out loud whose it was supposed to be. I said I didn’t know… because truly, I didn’t recognize the box when I first saw it.

And so my mom fidgeted. She held on to the box, turned it around, surveyed it up and down, weighed how heavy it was, shook it over and over, hoping the sound that it makes will make her remember what was inside.

After a few minutes, I realized that it was supposed to be our Christmas gift for her. My sister was the one who bought and had it wrapped, that’s why I didn’t recognize the box right away. Casually I told my mom to just leave the gift alone. But before I could stop her, she tore off the gift wrapper and ripped the box open.

After taking a peek at what’s inside, she got more confused. In a daze, she muttered, “I don’t remember buying this…”

“Why don’t you just put it back?”  I said, trying to salvage whatever’s left of the surprise.

In a tone full of dread and with sheer panic in her eyes, my mom said, “My memory is failing me!!!”

At that point, I knew I had to confess. I told her that she wouldn’t remember nor recognize the gift because she did not buy it. I told her that the gift was supposed to be for her – but now she ruined the surprise.

I also told her that no, her memory was not failing her. Not yet, at least.  

She was probably, at that time, the same age as me now.

That line — My memory is failing me — became a running joke between us, though.

I have always prided myself with having a good memory.

I’m the type who can tell a story of something that happened ages ago and I can remember and relay the details like they just happened yesterday. Try doing something bad to me and most likely I will remember it for life (holding a grudge is another thing, though).

Lately, however, I seem to forget things quite easily. Small things, like passwords… or people’s names… or where I put things.

Like this afternoon, I realized I was losing an ID card. I knew I used it sometime in the not so distant past, but I just couldn’t recall when, where and why. I knew my husband had something to do with it… I insisted that I entrusted the ID to him. But I couldn’t remember why so I started doubting my memory.

Whenever this happens, me not remembering something, I can’t help but panic.

I’ll first try to rack my brains to remember the detail that I forgot… When racking my brains doesn’t work, I’ll freak out internally – all the more reason for my brains not to cooperate.  And then I will start feeling bad, and resignedly sigh, “My memory is failing me.”

But I am much too young to accept that. 😦

Just recently, I watched CNN’s Fareed Zakaria talk to neuroscientist Lisa Genova about Alzheimer’s disease — a progressive disease that destroys memory and other mental functions*– and how to prevent it.  It was a very informative segment.

According to Ms. Genova, one can have the disease for some time without it manifesting right away. She said we can actually help prevent the advancement of the disease. Having enough good sleep, exercising, having a heart healthy diet, are among the things that one can practice to stave off the disease. Basically, I believe she meant taking care of one’s body by having a good lifestyle.

One more thing she mentioned was learning new things.  It is more than just restoring knowledge that’s already there. She pointed out that learning new things make you build and connect new neural connections, or synapses. This, I deduced will help keep your brains from degenerating.

The human brain is a beautiful, complicated organ. Like the muscles in your body, the brain can be trained to improve its function. And for it to stay healthy, it requires great care, exercise and yes, stimulation.

One is never too old to learn something new. In a way, the more we use our brains, the more we keep it from getting old fast. Interesting, huh?

After watching that segment, I made a resolve to care for my brains and keep it as healthy as possible. I promised to be more mindful of things, make an effort to remember names and details.  I will read more and learn new words. I will also write more… and use the new words that I learned.

I will learn new things.  

Besides, a beautiful mind complements a beautiful face, right? ❤

***

PS…

I found the ID I was looking for. I racked my brains, retraced my steps, and proved my memory did not fail me. It was with the file that I gave to my husband. He couldn’t remember having it at all! So I blame him. 😉

 

*****

Credits and sources:

*Alzheimer’s disease definition from Mayo Clinic.

Fareed Zakaria is a journalist and author. He is the host of CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS. You may watch his segment on Alzheimer’s via CNN video.

The picture is mine 🙂

Dream a little dream

It was 12:30am and I couldn’t sleep.

I was tired of watching Downton Abbey and Game of Thrones reruns… so I thought of reading a bit ’til I fall asleep. I decided to reach out for the book nearest my bed side… 

Lo and behold, I got hold of MY book. 

20yrsBGO

my 12:30am companion

I didn’t start reading right away, though. Instead, I think I stared at the cover for a good ten minutes. I looked at the front, then the back… I took a couple of photos then posted them on Instagram.

I marveled at the thought that this book I had in my hands bore my name on it. I was the author. It was my creation. My thoughts, my ideas, my words, on paper. My childhood dream realized. 

So this was what my bestie-cousin meant when she said, “It is different when you have the actual book in your hand. Something you can reread and bring with you everywhere you go.” And to emphasize further, “Your work. In your hands.”

She told me that at the time I needed encouragement… at the time when I was full of self-doubt and a voice in my head kept asking, “Why am I doing this again?”

It has been a year since the book first came out — though it wasn’t until the latter part of last year when well-known local bookstores started carrying it. 

Looking back, it was quite an experience, really.  From the first rejection of my manuscript, to the time I met the special people who worked with me to improve the outcome of the book… And then there was the challenge of how to distribute the books once published  (thought balloon: I might run out of family members and friends to sell to)… And all throughout, I had to deal with internal struggles — basically self-doubt and fear of being unworthy and being criticized. 

The whole process was a journey with moments of highs, and not exactly devoid of lows.

I have had good reviews and I have had so-so ones. I have readers clamoring for a second book — and yes, I have had one reader telling me that the book’s “not for her.” Short of telling me that she found it so juvenile.

It was a form of rejection, but I have long learned to take everything in stride.  

No, I didn’t turn into an instant celebrity author. I’m quite far from it, really. But I consider myself blessed for having those people who read and appreciated my work.

You see, all I really wanted was to tell stories and to entertain the readers in the process. I wanted to make them feel something. I thought of all the novels I read that somehow stayed with me long after I have placed the book down. I wanted to share that same feeling with my readers. If I can make even just one reader smile and feel good while reading my work, I knew I’ll be happy enough.

Truly if we allow our fears to take control, we will never be able to do anything. If we allow one rejection to get the better of us, then our goals — our dreams — will forever be out of reach.  

The other day I received a sales report from one of the bookstore chains distributing the book. So far they have sold about half of their inventory (based on total sales from various branches). Not bad… At least this time I know people other than my relatives bought the book!  Not bad for a newbie nobody like me. 🙂  

I started feeling sleepy even before reaching Chapter Two… But I know I fell asleep with a smile on my face.

Leaving you with this excerpt…

excerpts20yrs

Together they waited for the night to end.

❤ ❤

Fellow writers, artists, dreamers, I read this article on ‘rejection‘ online and it really struck me to the core. If you have been rejected or are afraid of rejection, this article is for you!! Sharing it with hopes that it can enlighten you the way it enlightened me: Why You Should Aim for 100 Rejections a Year, by Kim Liao, Literary Hub.

Twenty Years in Between, available at select National Bookstore, Powerbooks and Fully Booked branches. Also available online at Bookbed.org.

To God be the glory always. Photos are mine 🙂 

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Eph.2:10 NKJV

 

 

 

One Fine Day at Downton

I am not really a TV person. I choose the shows that I watch. I have a friend who is so into local teleseryes and Koreanovelas. Nope, I can’t stand those.

I will sound snobbish, but I truly can’t stand the crying-shouting-slapping-more shouting-then more crying scenes that local teleseryes seem to have a lot of.  I can’t take too much drama. I think life is challenging as it is, and watching depressing shows won’t do anything to uplift one’s morale. 

I am more of a Criminal Minds, CSI, How to Get Away with Murder and Game of Thrones person. Okay, also Grey’s Anatomy — when McDreamy was still with them.

Several years ago, however, I discovered this British historical period television series which piqued my interest. It was set in the 1920’s and it followed the lives of the fictional Crawley family and their servants. 

The show’s title: Downton Abbey.

After watching several episodes — I think the show was already on its third season then — uhm, I had no choice but to get hooked. Remember I said I don’t like drama shows? Well this one is every bit a drama series. Minus the shouting. And the hysterics. The characters can get angry without raising their voices — they can tell someone off while still looking classy and dignified.  I loved it! This kind of drama I was able to stand. 

It was still a soap opera… it just happened to be British. And, oh, do they make elegance look so easy.

I found myself searching for and watching online the episodes that I missed. I fell in love with the characters — my favorites being Lady Mary Crawley (played by Michelle Dockery) and the Dowager Countess of Grantham, Violet Crawley (Maggie Smith). Being the fan that I am, I hang onto their every word. Okay that sounded creepy, but Violet Crawley had really good one-liners that would make one laugh even while watching alone.

I remember a friend telling me that watching Downton Abbey was like watching paint dry. Oh well, to each his own. I enjoyed watching this paint dry. 😉

After my husband and I dropped off our unico in his residential college, we still had a couple of days to spare in Singapore.  And because I am greatly favored, guess what?! There was an ongoing Downton Abbey Exhibition at Marina Bay Sands while we were there!! 

Of course we had to go! I was sooo excited. I was like a little girl on Christmas morning. My husband was like, Downtown what?! (And yes, he only got the Downton right halfway through the exhibit…)

And so with much pleasure, I am sharing with you some photos that I took…

My Downton Abbey Experience (of a Lifetime!!)

DA tikets

Tickets to my other world…

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The Downton Abbey

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The patriarch, Lord Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham

Obviously my favorite character, Lady Mary Crawley, the eldest of the Crawley daughters

She’s beautiful, smart, confident and headstrong. What’s not to admire??

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 The three Crawley daughters, Edith, Mary and Sybil

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Adorable little George, Lady Mary’s son.

Some of Lady Mary’s to-die-for wardrobe; Lady Mary’s bedroom

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Believe it or not, I used to have one of these growing up… 

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Where the interesting Crawley dinner conversations take place…

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Servants’ dining area downstairs… where the conversations are even more interesting!

Lobby leading to the exhibition

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Dear Mr. Carson (Jim Carter), the Head Butler of Downton Abbey

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It’s Downton, dearie, not Downtown!!

Downton Abbey was created by Julian Fellowes and co-produced by Carnival Films and Masterpiece. It ran for six seasons, airing first in the United Kingdom in 2010. The final episode also served as the Christmas episode and was shown December 2015.*

I used to watch it on Diva TV — normally catching it Sunday mornings. After the series ended, I just waited for the reruns. Like so… 

… and because I am such a fan, I didn’t really mind.

Mary

One fine Downton Abbey Sunday morning in May 2014… as documented in my Instagram account. 🙂

“Vulgarity is no substitute for wit” – the Dowager Countess Violet Crawley

❤ ❤

 

*Downton Abbey information from Wikipedia

Downton Abbey The Exhibition, Marina Bay Sands, July 31, 2017; photos are all mine

A Whole New World

If you are wondering why I have been awfully quiet these past few weeks (and you don’t follow my Instagram and Facebook accounts) — well, the time has come. No, my Game of Thrones friends, I didn’t mean winter…

I was referring to my son’s College Move In Weekend… Though now that I think about it, the experience felt very much like a GoT episode — exciting, yet dreadful at the same time. Minus the gore, of course.

I digress. Anyway, so two weeks ago we brought the unico hijo to Singapore for College. After all the planning and the preparation and the psyching of one’s self (I am talking about myself here), when the actual day comes that you have to let go of your child’s hand and leave him to fend for himself… well, you are never really sure if you are ready or if your heart will not cave in when you see your child walking away from you.    

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Our customary “off to school” photo 

But then this is what parents do, right? We raise our children to be the best that they can be and we offer them the greatest opportunities possible. We allow them to experience things on their own, not always under our shadow, so they can grow. 

That Sunday afternoon as we were saying goodbye — he has already moved in to his residential college while his father and I were headed back to our hotel — my son’s last words to us were, Will you be okay?” 

I knew he was merely referring to the commute from the College back to the hotel, us being ‘tourists’ and all.  My head asked my heart the same question, though… Will I be okay? 

I know I will miss his presence in the house. I know I will have to get used to an empty bedroom across mine. I will miss our nightly chats over dinner. The house will seem bigger, quieter…

But when I think of the whole new exciting world that he is entering… When I think of the vast opportunities and meaningful experiences ahead of him, all the learnings that will make his life richer and will make him a much better person still, I am assured that there is no reason not to be okay. Everything will be well.

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No goodbyes, just see you later!

So yes, I will be okay. And so will he. 🙂 

❤ ❤ ❤

new world

His home for four years 

 

*****

photos are all mine 🙂