Slow down, take time, breathe in…

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This book just turned 1!! 

Over the weekend we were at this popular bookstore near our place to look for my son’s assigned books/textbooks for college. I knew that the said bookstore carries my book (uhm, my published novella) —   I personally delivered their copies sometime in January of this year. Out of curiosity, I tried to check where my book was displayed and yes, I wanted to know how many copies were left on the rack.

I walked around the store but couldn’t find one copy, so I went and asked Customer Service. So the staff checked their computer, then asked me to follow her… and led me to a pushcart, not so far from the counter. When I asked where they were supposed to move or display the books, I was told, “Oh, these are for pull out.”

Okay, so my eyes opened wide, my jaw dropped (and yeah, my heart pretty much broke). Casually I asked the salesgirl, Who ordered the books to be pulled out – and why? Basically she couldn’t answer. She looked at the other clerks who at that time were all listening in and staring at us. Nobody could offer an explanation. They just said the books are to be returned to the supplier. When I told them I am the supplier and I was not told about the pullout, they just all gave me a blank stare.

Calmly I told the salesgirl that I will just get in touch with Purchasing department. Hopefully they have the answers. I turned to leave before I ended up saying something mean – or throw a fit, or have a meltdown.

A LOT of things ran in my mind… Only a few people bought my book… Maybe it was too expensive?… My fault for not really marketing it…  Maybe I suck as a writer?!… Why do I even write when no one reads me anyway?! … What a loser… And so on, and so forth.

On my way out of the bookstore, I told my son, “Now I feel bad.”

At that time, I pretty much allowed eight unsold books to define me… and to ruin my evening.

Don’t we all experience those days?

Nothing seems to be going your way… Expectations are not met… Prayers are left unanswered… People disappoint… You feel lost… You don’t know your purpose… People do or say things that mess up your psyche… Circumstances strip you of your confidence, make you question your worth… People are hurtful and insensitive… We don’t know the answer to our many why’s.

The world can be cruel. It can weigh you down.

That is if you will allow it to.

For the past several weekends, our Worship Team in Church had been singing the song “Take Courage” by Bethel Music.  Over and over.

It’s about taking courage, holding steadfast, holding on to hope. It’s about waiting and watching for your triumph to unfold.

I kept hearing the song in Church. Over and over.

It was when I started having those days — Those seemingly bad days… Those I feel like such a loser kind of days… It was then that I realized that the song was being played for me. Over and over.

My God’s reminder that something good is about to come. Just wait.

When I got home from the bookstore that evening, I found a message waiting in my social media account. From halfway around the world, someone was telling me how excited she was that she finally got hold of a copy of my book. I believe God sent this angel to cheer me up. I hope she knows she was my angel that evening.

And to further make me feel better, a few minutes later, I received another message from another time zone — from someone I hardly talked to — telling me how much my blogs inspire her and that she enjoyed reading them. Totally unexpected.

Right when my self confidence was starting to spiral down, it was like I was reminded to just chill.

It happens. We get tired and weary. The world can be mean. 

But as the song goes, Slow down, take time, breathe in… He’d reveal what’s to come.  

In the meantime, God sends angels to comfort us, remind us that everything will be well.

Sharing with you the link to the song ‘Take Courage’… Because someone might be needing it right now.

 

That Yellow Lab Named Bunso

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King of the Outdoors

Our 7 year old pet labrador’s death last week did not come as a shock. He had been ill for a couple of months already. We have gone to the vet quite a number of times and three times we had to leave him there so they can observe and monitor his condition closely. 

It started with hind leg paralysis caused by blood parasites. Then he had kidney issues. Both the blood parasites and kidney issues were resolved, but not the paralysis. Every time he tried to move or walk, he had to drag his right hind leg. Eventually he got tired of trying. He seemed to have lost the will to move, even to stand. His pressure points began having sores and wounds which we had to clean and dress twice a day, every single day. 

Maybe in his mind our dog was thinking labradors were born to run wild and free… that it goes against their nature to stay still and be immobilized by paralysis, sores and wounds. 

In our minds, once his wounds are thoroughly healed, we can send him to a dog therapist so his hind leg can regain movement. Because that was the plan. We would solve the blood and the wound issues first and then we can explore the leg therapy option so he can walk again.

But how do you explain that to a dog? Does he truly understand what you are saying whenever you give him the reassurance that everything will be okay? When he looks into your eyes with that loving, doggie look of his, is he saying, yes he understands what’s happening — or is he merely trying to tell you that he is in pain?

Or is he just trying to tell you how thankful he is for the love and care that you are showing him?

Eventually the vet discovered other complications. Supplements and pain medications can only manage whatever pain he may have. The meds may make him a bit more comfortable, but they won’t cure him. We knew that sooner or later he would go. We prayed it would be later — much, much later. 

Our dog never regained the energy that he had prior to his illness…Yet he had a way of showing us that he was happy and content enough just having us around him. 

I guess we will never know how much physical pain he was feeling all throughout. He would cry, he would whimper, he would bark and call our attention, but the moment someone is with him, he keeps quiet. Like he just wanted company.

Much like all those times he kept us company when we were alone outside. No frills, no expectations, just silent companionship, selflessness and yes, unconditional love.

Our dog’s death did not come as a shock… but that doesn’t make it any less painful for us. Our hearts are broken just the same.

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How do you say goodbye? 

I realized recently that I wrote about him years back, when he was still a puppy. The article came out in Action and Fitness Magazine.

I was a newbie dog owner then. I didn’t know anything about dogs, I never had pets before because — well, I guess I was afraid of the responsibility and the attachment. 

Thought of sharing with you said write up…

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He was a puppy once… 

A Girl’s Best Friend  

By: Betsy G. Ochosa

They say that a dog is a man’s best friend.  They are very loyal and they will love you unconditionally (yes, i am still talking about the dog). 

I, for one, never experienced such friendship with an animal because i never — ever — had a pet when i was growing up.  Oh, okay, so maybe i had a fish. But what relationship can you have with a fish, right? (especially when their life expectancy isn’t exactly that long)

The other day, we bought my son a labrador puppy.  We promised to get him one for his birthday and we searched far and wide to get the “right” one.  We were directed to someone who really knows about dogs and breeds champions.  After visiting her house and seeing her litter of 8, we ended up choosing the youngest of the bunch.  Youngest, and definitely biggest, of them all.  Welcome to our world, Mr. big, yellow, labrador puppy… We called him “Bunso” for being the youngest.

Yesterday, Bunso’s second day here, he was just content playing inside his crate… or sleeping mostly.  He almost never made a sound. He only barked when he needed to go (out of his crate to do his thing… he IS well trained for a two-month old).  Come early evening, my husband got a little worried that he was lethargic.  He seemed too laid back for a labrador! (Though that really isn’t an issue with me because I like being stress-free and laid back…But the hubby is type A, and he knows more about dogs…)

10:00pm… just about the time we were preparing to sleep… Bunso suddenly realized he had too much stored energy… and decided to bark… and howl… and wake the whole household up.  Maybe he’s from another time zone.  He was just so awake!  And worse, he wanted to play.  He eventually calmed down after an hour of playtime.

… and stayed calm until 4:30 in the morning… and then he barked… and howled… and growled… and gave this guttural cry that seemed to sound like he was begging for someone to wake up and play with him again – or at the very least, mind him.  Of course he had his way… we couldn’t risk having the neighbors reporting us to village administration for disturbing the peace at 4am.

It is almost 12 noon as I am writing this and Bunso, so far, has been pretty calm.  I have to thank my helper, of course, for simply being there because I know that I won’t be able to handle this guy alone.  I can only play with him while he’s inside the crate… or when someone else is holding him… and when i’m wearing jeans… I’m still a newbie puppy owner and I haven’t insured my legs yet so i won’t even attempt to pretend i know how to handle a playful giant of a puppy like this one.

But i know he already knows me.  He goes to the side of his crate and lies down so i can rub his fur, and he’ll just calmly stare at me… like he’s memorizing my face– and my voice –or maybe finding out a way grab my long hair.  It’s like he knows that he is stuck with me for the most part of his everyday – so he might as well know the face that goes with the hand that would feed him.  When i stood up to take a walk, he stood up as well, and started howling the moment i was out of his vision. 

It is a challenge taking care of another living creature.  But I believe the rewards are great.  Hopefully Bunso will be as loyal to me as he will be to the rest of the family. I pray that he grows up – grows old — with us, and will love us unconditionally.  Hopefully, my legs will never get bitten nor scratched… And that we get to share many wonderful years and memories with him. 

In time I will get to say that a dog can be a woman’s best friend, too. 

Bunso was with us for 7 years. He was our welcoming committee… always the most excited every time one of us comes home. He was too friendly to the mail and delivery men that we couldn’t call him a ‘guard dog.’  Several times we would catch neighborhood kids scratching his back, petting him, as he positions himself by the gate. He was happy enough just resting his heavy head on my feet whenever I was outside. I helped take care of him, I got attached, but I didn’t mind. Because of him I experienced the joys that come with having a pet.

Yes, he showed us unconditional love. 

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Goodnight My Sweetie 

Hopefully we were able to give him seven good years.

 

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Bunso, April 21,2010 – June 23, 2017.

Photos are all ours. Article “A Girl’s Best Friend,” first published in Action and Fitness Magazine, 2010.

In case you missed it…

college-graduation

Start of something new…

I wrote this piece for Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf’s online site brewyourbestyear.com just recently.  It’s something I wrote especially for this year’s graduating students. I thought of posting it here in my blog for the benefit of those who missed it. 

Read on and ponder… 

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Nuggets of Wisdom

Ahh, graduation.  It’s that time of year once again. A time to close another chapter of one’s life… a season ending.

It is during this time when parents listlessly ask, Where have the days gone? How did my child grow up so fast? Is he ready for the real world? While the students probably think to themselves, What is in store for me? What will life offer? Am I ready?

Don’t we sometimes wish that life comes with a guide book where we can find solutions to our problems or directions to follow so we can avoid getting into trouble or sticky and hurtful situations? Unfortunately, there’s no “Manual for an Easy and Perfect Life” available.

We learn from our own experiences.  We also learn from our peers. More so, we learn from our elders. We gain wisdom from the ones who went before us, simply because they have “been there” and yes, they have “done that.”

To the graduating students who are just about to go out into the real world, allow me to share some insights on life.  These are learnings that I have gathered through my years of having been there and having done that.  

Hopefully, these nuggets of wisdom can help guide you in this journey called real life…

Girlfriends

#Girlfriendsgoals

On Friendship

Friendships do not happen overnight. We all know that. It took days, maybe even months and years, for you to form a bond with your childhood, high school and college friends. I believe the same thing goes with people you will meet in the work place – or in the great ‘out there.’  Remember: Trust is earned.

Hold on to your old friends. You will meet new people. You will have new and exciting relationships. You may even not see your old friends for years.  Yet neither time nor distance can erase real friendships. Value the ones who were there when you were young, pure and innocent. They will remind you of who you really are, no pretensions needed, and they will love you just the same.

True friends are those who stick by you through thick or thin.

Not everyone can be your friend. So, you are Mr. or Ms. Congeniality… and yet there is someone who rubs you the wrong way. Or maybe you rub them the wrong way. It’s okay. You don’t have to be friends with everybody. But be nice.

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People can sometimes break your heart…

On Dealing with People

People are not always appreciative so don’t expect them to be. You don’t have to please everybody.

You cannot expect everybody to always agree with you or think the way you do.  You don’t always have to agree with someone else’s opinion, but you can learn from the differences.  Besides, life will be boring if we all think the same way.

There will always be people who have a lot to say. The “know-it-alls.” They have something to say about you, about the government, about other people, about the weather. If you think and feel that what they say doesn’t do you any good, then by all means, shut them out. Constructive criticism is different from just plain criticism. Don’t let the negativity get to you.

Stay away from toxic, negative people.  They will suck the energy out of you. And check yourself, too. 

You cannot please everybody, help everybody, make everybody happy.  But being one person’s hero is enough.  Be that hero.

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I am the best Me

On Being the Best You

A person’s true character is revealed during difficult or trying times… not when things are good. The same applies to yourself, too.

You cannot buy breedingNor can you buy character.

Keep evolving. Is there a skill you want to learn? A hobby you want to begin? Then go for it. One is never too old to learn something new. You’ll be surprised at what you can actually accomplish if you just put your heart and mind to it. Don’t be afraid to surprise yourself.

Respect. Yourself. People. Their Belongings. Don’t be rude and self-absorbed. The amount of respect you expect from others is commensurate to the respect that you give.

It’s all about perspective.  When you feel like the world is closing in on you, step back a little.  Find a better view.  Breathe.  You may not be able to change the situation, but you can change your outlook.

Learn to forgive yourself. We all make mistakes. Sometimes we make small slip-ups, sometimes we do major tumbles and fall hard. When you do, don’t wallow nor condemn yourself. Own up to your faults, dust yourself off, then move on.

Learn to apologize. Know when to say sorry and know when to forgive. Be the bigger person.

Stick to your non-negotiables.  They define who you are.

Be kind.  A little kindness, a heartfelt smile, a generous act, selfless actions go a long way. Some people need to see light shining on them. Be that light.

In everything, give thanks.

Lastly, share yourself, share your wisdom. Share what you know. Allow others to learn from you.

As you get older you will realize that one of the best compliments that you will ever receive is when people say how proud and fortunate they are that you are in their lives and that you are indeed a blessing to them.

So, go and be that blessing. ❤ 

***

 

All photos were grabbed — or borrowed — from google images. Thank you clipart, Sex and the City, and Sesame Street.

Write up originally published at CBTL’s brewyourbestyear.com. You may find the original link here. For more of my write-ups on this site, please click : Betsy Gacutan-Ochosa

 

New Chapters

It has been almost a month since my last blog entry.

A lot of things can happen in a month. Indeed, a lot of things have happened these past four weeks.

Milestone moments.

So, my unico hijo graduated from high school last May 30. He graduated with highest honors. He was one of the recipients of the Citizenship (Leadership) award, and he was also given the Scholastic and Academic Award. 

I was one proud mommy. I still am. 

I listened in awe as he delivered his Valedictory speech. That speech which he didn’t want to show us prior to graduation — mainly because he wanted it to be his own. I respected his decision because I knew that the writer in me would have ended up editing the speech here and there… And the mother in me would have added stuff that I thought was important. 

And so he held his own. He wrote his speech without any inputs from his parents… And he delivered it to the graduating class and the whole community with such grace and confidence. He talked about superheroes and about how one need not be a superhero to leave a mark in the world. He talked about his classmates and friends who in their own ways are mighty enough. He talked about the school and the community that shaped him to become the person the he is today.

As I observed the teachers, other parents, and the rest of the school community listening to his every word, I couldn’t help but think that yes, I must have done something good. Although I knew that the day was not about me… still, I couldn’t help but take pride in the fact that I helped raise this young man up. I had a hand in molding him into what and who he is now.

I also said a silent prayer of thanks to the Creator — for entrusting this child to me. I thanked Him for allowing me to experience this precious thing called Motherhood.

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With the Cup and the Cap that kept falling off — much to my dismay!!

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June 4 — the unico hijo turned 18.

Wow. 18 years. Time just flew by. He is now 18… I can no longer claim to be just 27 years old. Gosh.

I tried to think about how 18 years of being a mother has changed me. Aside from the additional 18lbs (or maybe even 20?) that I have gained through the years, surely there were other changes that took place.

For one I am no longer the clueless young mother that I was years back… I am now a clueless old mother. Haha, kidding. 

Motherhood doesn’t come with a handbook. One learns about parenting from other people — like your elders, or your peers. You also learn given the situations or circumstances that you face. You learn from your child. You learn from your mistakes, too. 

Ultimately you learn to trust your instincts and you make decisions based on what your heart tells you… because your heart will always opt for the good, wherever your child is concerned. 

Motherhood changed me. I learned things about myself, did things that I never thought I was capable of doing. I found that kind of strength that I never thought I had. I learned to make wise decisions. And more importantly, I learned to put someone else’s needs before mine.

Years back, when I decided to be a full-time, hand-on mom, I heard remarks that were enough to make one feel inferior. To some people, I became “just a mother.” Like my value as a person diminished somehow.

Now 18 years later, I’d still say that I wouldn’t have had it any other way.  

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Our first date after he turned 18 ❤ 

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The coming months will be pretty interesting because once my son is already in college, I will only be mothering from afar. So basically, I am starting a new chapter in my life, as well.

Whenever I read a book, I always look forward to starting new chapters. Each new chapter holds promise. If the previous one was bad, I look forward to the next one being good. If the previous chapter was good, I look forward to the next one being better.

As my son begins his new chapter, so will I begin mine.

Here’s to living God’s purpose, one life chapter at a time.

photo credits: pictures are all mine 🙂

My Instagrammable Life

I just finished reading Sophie Kinsella’s latest book, “My Not so Perfect Life.”

I have always liked reading Ms. Kinsella’s works (e.g. Undomestic Goddess, Can You Keep a Secret, The Shopaholic Series, to name a few) because the stories are light, funny, and the characters are pretty relatable. Her main characters could very well remind you of your best friend, your sister, or in most cases, yourself. A lot of times I catch myself thinking, “She’s just like me…” or “I could be her.”

My Not so Perfect Life (according to the blurb) is Part-Love Story, Part-Work Drama. One thing I found interesting, though, was how Katie, the female protagonist, portrayed her life on Instagram (living in an exciting city, doing cool stuff with marvelous friends), versus her reality — job issues, financial struggles, simple life, really small apartment.

It got me thinking… Haven’t we all, at some point in our social media obsessed lives, projected an alternate version of our reality?

(I will not spoil the book any further for the sake of my chick lit-loving friends, but it is a good and entertaining read. You won’t be sorry if you grab a copy.)

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Ahh, Instagram.

On any given day, we see something nice… or we go somewhere nice… or we think we look nice… And so we decide to take a photo — click, and then post. Then we add cute, interesting captions. We explain further by adding a number of #hashtags.

Then we wait for a hundred hearts (signifying that our follower friends liked the photo). Sometimes we feel bad when only a few people would “heart” the photo. Of course it hurts when you are not validated. (Personally, I am easy to please. I am happy with 10 likes. Anything beyond that to me is already a blessing — or a miracle.)

When you think about it, how much of our real lives is posted on Instagram? Or maybe the bettter question is… What stories do our IG accounts tell?

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Out of curiosity, I checked MY Instagram account.

If a total stranger will make a story about me based on my IG photos, what will he come up with…

From the 12 latest photos I posted, one will see: My latest selfie (with me all dolled up)… My bruised knees… Dining with my BFF… More selfies… A promo of my book… A collage of old photos with my son… A throwback photo with friends circa ’90s… And still more selfies…

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Basically from my IG, one will gather that 1) I have a book, 2) I have a son, 3) I was much thinner in the ’90s, and yeah 4) I am a selfie master — and I love myself so much.

My Instagram account pretty much depicts how self-absorbed I am. Yep, narcissism at its finest.

That’s my Instagrammable life. #ialwayswakeuplookinglikethis.

Alternate version or reality? 😉

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When we share photos on Instagram, we allow other people to take a glimpse of our lives.

It is easy to create a perfect, always exciting version of your life. Just carefully pick the photos you will post — Choose the ones that will tell the version you want your followers to see.

I bet our Instagram stories are all exciting.

Don’t be fooled, though. Things are not always as good as they are depicted on IG. That is why it is not wise to judge — nor envy– someone, based on what you see on Instagram.

I also believe that every photo has a backstory… And often times, it’s the backstory that is truly more interesting… and real.

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Example of Perception vs Reality / Alternate Version vs Backstory

latest selfie

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#selfietime #chilling #memyselfandi

Perception created: She’s so chill… She’s so vain… She’s always made up…

Backstory (Reality): Photo was taken after four (4) hours of sitting through the College graduation rites of our helper. FOUR HOURS. But it was a momentous occasion, a celebration of someone’s educational achievement. I had to keep a smile on my face, even after four hours…

Plus I looked good that day. So, I just had to take a photo…

So, yes, maybe I am quite self-absorbed. Quite. 😉

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What is your Instagram story???

*****

photos are mine 😊