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…

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? 😉

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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

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. 😉

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What is your Instagram story???

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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.

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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

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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… 😦 

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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... 🙂  

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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. 

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

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

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photos are all mine 🙂

1st of March

…And just like that, it’s the third month of the year! Gosh.

Plans…

This time last year, I was pestering  reminding my editor about the draft of my book. My cover artist had also already given me sample artworks to choose from. Geesh, time flies. I’d better start working on a new project so I’ll stop this reminiscing and I can start moving forward. 

I actually have two book projects lined up. One is a children’s storybook and the other is the — drum roll please —  sequel to Twenty Years in Between. (Did I say that out loud?! Am I really committing myself to a sequel??)

Without meaning to brag, most of my readers have been asking for a Part Two. I would like to believe that the book was that interesting and exciting that they wanted more. I have been asked several times when the second book is coming out. Yeah, like it didn’t take me more than a year to finish writing the first one…
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It’s all good

I spent a big part of the morning talking to several people on the phone regarding the sales and distribution of my book. 

Being a self published author, and a first-timer at that, I had to learn about the whole book publication process on my own.  And it doesn’t stop at the printing of the actual book. I am also on top of the distribution, promotion, and yes, collection of earnings/royalties.

I will not pretend that the whole process is easy or that everything is a breeze, because it’s not. I need to talk to and deal with people. I have had challenges along the way. It is a test of patience for the most part. Nope, not easy.  Continue reading