November to remember

It’s two days ’til December… Less than a month ’til Christmas. This morning, I woke up to this: 

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Saddest Christmas tree ever 😦

And I couldn’t help but feel bad. 

I have always loved the Christmas season. I love the festive atmosphere. I love looking at the Christmas decors, watching the lights, and listening to Christmas carols. And yes, I love going Christmas shopping. I normally finalize my list sometime late October because I like doing my Christmas shopping early. By mid-November, I’m done setting up the Christmas tree and lights.

I am a gift giver. I relish the whole process — from making the list, to buying and wrapping gifts… I even like putting them under the Christmas tree (that I lovingly set up and decorated). This entire practice gives me a certain high.  

At nights before I sleep, I spend some time getting lost in the Christmas lights. Simply watching them relaxes me. I may go to bed exhausted from the day’s activities, but there’s always a warm, fuzzy feeling inside.  I call this my Christmas feeling.

Things have been quite different this year, though. It’s almost December and our tree isn’t up yet. No Christmas decors… no Christmas lights outside. In fact, there are even several busted regular bulbs inside the house that I have yet to change.

Yup, I have been neglecting quite a number of things around the house lately. I don’t know if this has something to do with our ’empty nesting.’ Since we no longer have a little child in the house  who will appreciate the decors and the lights (as much as I do), well, it suddenly doesn’t anymore feel as exciting to decorate. Somehow it is different when you have someone — other than yourself — who admires, appreciates, and gawks at that Christmas tree you have painstakingly set up for more than half a day.

So, right now, all we have is a bare tree. No lights. No gifts. No warm, fuzzy Christmas feeling.  Bah-humbug.

So what kept me busy this whole month of November? Let me backtrack a bit.

Okay, last week I was in Singapore. Again (Yey, Singapore!). You see, our Baseball Club sent two teams to play in a Thanksgiving Tournament. My husband was the head of delegation, and we pretty much spent a big part of November preparing for the trip. But unlike those other tournaments where I was on top of the travel coordination, this time we had parent leads who took care of most of the travel details. I only assisted where I was needed, giving them tips and suggestions on certain matters. And since I had no son playing in the said tournament, basically, I was just a tag along.

For a split-second I asked myself if I should still go with the team, knowing full well that I will be paying for my own expenses. Besides, weren’t we in Singapore just a month ago for the Parents’ Weekend? (Remember the previous blog?) And didn’t we extend that last time because of my son’s injury? (Remember the blog before the previous one?)

So I asked myself, is it still practical? Should I go or should I just stay home, fix my house, prepare for December, shop for Christmas?

I believe that home is where the heart is. And the heart is where the family is. My husband will be in Singapore. My son IS in Singapore. They are my home. Of course, I had to go to Singapore, as well. 

And yes, there’s also Sephora in Singapore. But that’s beside the point. 🙂

Snapshots from the Week that Was…

You’d think that since we were in Singapore, my husband and I will be able to spend a lot of time with our unico, right? Uhm, wrong! He’s in college… and the term’s about to end… he had a lot of school work to finish, papers to submit. So after seeing him and having dinner with him on the night that we arrived, well, we basically did not see even his shadow for the next several days.

Since the main reason for the trip was the baseball tournament, our days were filled with baseball games… and moments.

2

The weather was not always good… 😦

We brought two teams composed of boys mostly aged 9-10 and a couple of 11 and 12 year olds. One team played in the 10u age group, while the other played up and joined the 12u group.

Unfortunately for the 10u team, all of their games started at 8am. Since they needed to be on the field an hour before for warm-up, it meant waking up and getting ready really early and being in the bus by 6am. 

3

Daybreak 

On the morning that I rode the bus with the two teams at 6am, I asked myself — Why do I still do this? I don’t have a son playing in this tournament… Why wake up early? Why even spend the day on the field?

And then I see the boys.

4

Habagat represent!

I see the smiles on their faces. I see their excitement. 

I see their determination and grit.

8.1

I see their courage in the face of bigger, stronger boys. I also see their eagerness and willingness to learn, to get better.

8

Hi, Callum! Habagat 2015 

I get to experience baseball moments, however small or grand, in and out of the field. I  also get to see relationships — friendships– being formed.

5

Two teams, One Habagat.

Plus, I get to meet new people, form new friendships of my own.

Incidentally, in all my 7 years of being part of the Club, I do think that this is one of the coolest bunch of parents that I have spent tournament days with. 

These parents cheered like crazy and they supported each player, not just their own sons. And you know what, the players responded. The boys appreciated being cheered on.  The parents gave whatever support they can, the way they knew how. 

What’s commendable, too, was the fact that these parents knew their boundaries and did not overstep them. They let the coaches coach and the players play. Talk about respect.

Going back to my question on why I still do this… Perhaps I still get myself involved in the sport because as I watch the boys grow and learn, I also grow and learn with them.

So that was basically how the week went. Daily baseball games, a little shopping on the side (with a lot of walking)… 

Lots of stories, fun and laughter with fellow parents. Lots of selfies, too.

On our last day, well, we got to spend it with the most important person in Singapore (at least in my book)…

This is home.

So, all that kept me busy this November.

Maybe by the time I get to post this seemingly neverending blog, well, December will be just a day away.  I think I am now ready to get that warm, fuzzy feeling back.  

I will set up our Christmas tree tomorrow, lights and all.

😉 

*********

This blog was written 28th of Nov. 2017. Photos are mostly 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 🙂

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.)

❤️❤️

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?

❤️

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…

image

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? 😉

❤️❤️

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.

❤️

Example of Perception vs Reality / Alternate Version vs Backstory

latest selfie

image

#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. 😉

❤️

What is your Instagram story???

*****

photos are mine 😊

Sadly, I’m no Wonder Woman…

It was a cool, Maundy Thursday evening. My mom, dad, husband, my mother-in-law, and I decided to stay and chat outside to enjoy the night breeze.

We were on the street, actually. My mom, dad and I were leaning against the front of our car which was parked right outside the gate of the house. The hubby and his mom were standing several meters away, at the corner of the street, nearer the main road.

We live in a gated village and I can say that the place is relatively safe.  On any given night you will see residents walking their dogs, or maybe they are jogging or brisk walking. People who know each other wave and exchange pleasantries.

That Thursday night, we saw a good friend of my mom’s walking with his daughter. They said hello as they passed by. And then we saw two ladies walking their dog. We all smiled at each other as they passed. 

It is a quiet, friendly community. 

And then the commotion.

We saw two teenagers running on the main road – some 20 meters away from where we were standing. We saw them run past the hubby and his mom.  Then we heard voices from where the teenaged boys came from, shouting what sounded like, “Stop them!” and “Snatchers!”

Then another group of men ran past, obviously running after the boys.

From the corner of the street where he was standing, the hubby saw the group catch up with one of the boys. Then he saw them punching and kicking the boy who, at this time, was already down on the ground.

It was at this point when the hubby decided to intervene. When I say intervene, I meant he decided to walk towards the group to, well basically, stop the fight – or keep the guys from killing the teenager with their blows.

So hubby went to the scene of the action. Followed by my dad. Then my mother-in-law!!!

My mom and I called out to the three of them, telling them NOT to get involved… But all three  pretty much ignored us.

Panicked, and thinking I should do something to help, I said out loud, “I’ll call the guards!”

So I turned towards the house in a rush, took a step…

…and tripped…

I took several more uncontrolled steps… then felt myself falling…

I knew I was going to fall hard. Not necessarily fast, but hard.

 

falling

Me.

 

Nah, that picture is too cute. I believe I looked more like this:

A woman falling down face first

Me. Take two.

Then I heard my mom screaming my name.

Several thoughts ran in my head as I was about to fall…

  • I need to find my footing. I can do this. Nope, I don’t think I can.
  • I shouldn’t have teased my sister about her knee injury!
  • I need to break the fall. I’ll try to land gently on my knees. Nope, didn’t work… I just heard my knees hit the ground with a loud thud.
  • I HAVE to protect my face!!! I can’t let it hit the ground…

And as I was sprawled face down on the ground…

  • Great, now my palms are all bruised, as well.
  • Oh gosh, the dogs are pulling at the shirt that I am holding!

Then I heard my mom call out my name again with a panicked, “What happened to you???!!”

She tried to help me up but I had to take a minute because I was still shaken up from the fall – and my whole body was pretty sore. Plus my knees were hurting so I couldn’t stand.

And then my mom and I started laughing at how silly I must have looked. I couldn’t cry, so we just laughed harder.

If I were playing baseball, it’s like diving into home…

dive into home, Pete Rose

Safe!!!

I would have scored a run, too.

❤ ❤

bruised knees

battered & bruised

My mom and I went back inside the house. I was able to call up the guardhouse – as originally planned.  Then she suggested that I put some ice on my knees after I washed them clean.

 

I guess it’s true that not all casualties are on the battlefield. Some are just there on the sidelines, minding their own business…

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In case you’d like to know how the commotion ended, well apparently, the boys were not snatchers or anything like that. It was an online relationship gone awry between the boy and the teenage daughter of the man running after him.

Shades of Romeo and Juliet.

We didn’t really find out the whole story since my hero hubby, his mom and my dad went back inside our house as soon as the guards arrived. Much to their amazement, I was the one with scrapes and bruises.

Unfortunately, in the street brawl between this Montague and Capulet, I was the collateral damage

❤ ❤

Update on my injuries: No need for x-ray nor immobilizer. I can walk, but it still hurts a little when I bend the knees or straighten the leg.

As of this writing, both knees are still black and blue, with small bruises and scrapes. Palms just have small scrapes.

Pride and dignity still bruised, as well. 

Wonder Woman would have saved the day… or at least come out of it unscathed. Oh well… 😦 

 ❤ 

photo credits: Cartoon images via Google clip arts and cartoons; Pete Rose dive to home plate via Google and Getty Images; photo of my bruised knees taken by my son for remembrance, he said. 😉 

This story is about me, God… and Gary V.

Sometime in the late ’80s…

There we were, my friend and I, two teenage girls pulling an all-nighter. No, we were not finishing a paper or a project, or anything close to that…

We were doing what normal teenagers do on sleepovers — chat the whole night. We were listening to our favorite songs and we chatted. At times we giggled a lot… certain moments, we whispered to each other about our secrets, fears and dreams. 

It was a long night.  At some point, we decided to pretend that we were making a music video of a favorite Filipino song. The artist: this singer popularly known as Mr. Pure Energy, Gary Valenciano. The song: Di Bale Nalang.

Di Bale Nalang. Still the best dance song in my book up to today. Best dance song ever. (Insert Gary V. dance moves here…)

***

I was  am a huge Gary V. fan. The very first live concert that I watched was Gary V’s. I was in sixth grade then.

Hmm, now that I am thinking about it, I think I watched an Air Supply concert prior to that… but that doesn’t count because I never really liked them (I can belt out most of their mushy songs, though. But, duh!). So yeah, I will stick to my story — The first concert that I watched live was Gary V’s. And I have been a fan ever since. 

You know how teenagers can memorize the lyrics of the songs they liked? Well, I was once a teenager, too… And I practically memorized most, if not, all of Gary V’s songs then. Yes, even the ones which were not that popular, both fast and slow. 

I can proudly say that I still remember most of them up to now… Insert Gary V. moves here again... 🙂  

***

Was there ever a time in your life when everything seems to be going right, yet you know that there is still something missing? Or how about that time when nothing is going right and you don’t know where to look for that one thing that can or will sustain you? 

The year was 2006. On the outside I seemed to have everything I needed in life. I had a family, I was raising a wonderfully gifted child, and we were living comfortably. Things seemed perfect. But they were not.

I was not happy. There were times when I felt dead inside. My relationship with my husband was in shambles. I was exhausted. I felt I deserved more from life. I didn’t know if I wanted to be where I was.

I had everything and I had nothing.

One evening over dinner, my husband told me that his friend, an old schoolmate, invited us to his Church. I remember my husband saying, Let’s try something new… It won’t hurt. 

I just shrugged and said okay. Whatever.

His friend’s name? Gary Valenciano.

***

That following Sunday, we attended Church service at New Life Christian Center for the first time. 

And there he was — Gary V., in the flesh. So while everybody was singing, worshiping, I was there watching him.

gary v

One Big Fan

I think a Gary V. album was playing in my head the whole time. I didn’t know any of the worship songs, anyway. 

Besides, I also didn’t really know what I was doing in that Church — or what was expected of me.  I was happy enough to see my idol.

I was fangirling quietly.

After service, my husband introduced me to Gary. We talked a bit. Actually, he talked more because I was so starstruck that I couldn’t think of anything smart to say. I just mostly smiled.  

I was a totally different person the weekend after that. We went back to Church the Sunday after, and I came prepared. I told myself that if Gary was there and I’ll be introduced again, I will be friendlier. 

He was there again. And this conversation transpired right after service:

  • Gary: Hi! Good to see you guys again here in Church! (Or something like that)
  • Me: *while fanning my face with my hands*  Hi Gary! Oh gosh, I am a big fan!!!!
  • Gary : *Smiles and turns red*
  • Me: *still fanning my face* No, really. Bata palang ako, Gary Valenciano ka na!!! (You were already Gary Valenciano even when I was still very young). I know the lyrics of ALL your songs!
  • Gary: *still blushing, and probably thinking, How old are you, anyway??* But now you’re not a fan anymore, we’re now friends!
  • Me: No, I’m still a fan!! I will always be a fan!!!
  • Husband: *practically pushed me away before I embarrassed myself — and Gary– more* Bye Gary! See you next week. (Or something like that. I really don’t remember because I was still reeling from excitement.)

My husband apparently never took me seriously when I mentioned before that I was a big fan. He only realized it that day.

But God knew. And God also knew how He can get my attention. 

***

We have been going to the same Church — from that Sunday up to today, for almost eleven (11) years now. 

We rarely saw Gary V. after that because he is, after all, a celebrity and a busy guy. But we met a lot of people and made new friends. We grew spiritually as a family. The Church became our second home — the Church people, our second family. 

In that Church, I found what my spirit was searching for. I found the relationship that was lacking in my life. I found the God Who provides me with strength and sustenance during trying times. The same God who gives me peace and joy, whatever season in life I may be in.

We often mistakenly see God as this Almighty Being, Someone Who is way up there… Some Authority Who will judge or punish us for every wrongdoing. Someone unreachable.

But God is a Father. And like any father, He wants a relationship with us. He knows what we need and He wants to give us every good thing. Yet we have to heed His call. 

We have to want to know more of Him.

God knew how to get my attention… He used a Gary Valenciano.

Gary v NL

        Finally, a picture in Church!!           (taken just a couple of years ago)

God also made me realize that yes, He has been watching me all these years. He knew what makes me smile, what makes me listen and pay attention. 

God saw where I was and He called me to lead me somewhere better.

Gary V concert

See? Gary and I are friends now! 

I also believe that God has a sense of humor. 

❤ ❤ ❤

Where are you in life right now? Maybe you should allow God to surprise you, as well? 🙂 

***

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye.” – Psalms 32:8 

*****

photos are all mine 🙂