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.

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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. 

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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.

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Habagat represent!

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

I see their determination and grit.

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

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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.

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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.

😉 

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

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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.

 

Something to ponder on…

forgive

Cuteness overload 

I AM SURE that we all, at some point in time, have been disappointed by someone close to us. A friend, a family member, a partner, a loved one… someone you trusted. It’s not a good feeling.

Most of the time, with disappointment comes hurt. We end up feeling betrayed. We wonder how the person we thought we knew can be capable of totally disregarding how we may feel. So we become wary. We question if that person is still worthy of our trust. 

Our first instinct is to take care of ourselves and make sure that the person who disappointed or hurt us doesn’t get the chance to do it all over again. We guard ourselves from more disappointment. We build walls around to protect us. 

But man in his frailty is prone to making mistakes. We all fall short. Sometimes we hurt other people without meaning to. Sometimes, other people hurt us.

Some people turn bitter and find it hard to trust again.  Others are more forgiving and believe in giving second chances. 

Ultimately, the choice is yours. You can be bitter, you can walk away, or you can forgive.

Choose that which will liberate you.

Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart. All you who hope in the Lord– Ps. 31:24 

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Leaving this here…

apology

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photos via google images

A day in the life…

 

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Selfie ready. Always

It normally takes me an hour to get ready when I have to go somewhere — be it running errands, going to school affairs, meeting friends for coffee, or simply going to the mall for some Me time.

I have an intensive beauty regimen. If I don’t get to put on moisturizer and lotion, apply make up (i.e, eyeliner, lipstick, concealer), powder my nose, and spray on perfume, I would feel totally incomplete.  I go through that every single day… even when I have to stay home. 

It takes me an hour or so to finish in front of the mirror. I always make sure I put my best face forward.

Yesterday was an exception, though… It was one of those off days.

I was supposed to accompany my dad to his doctor’s appointment. I also had to get some documents needed for my son’s college applications from several banks. I had quite a lot of things on my mind and was quite distracted. 

Not knowing what time exactly my dad needed me, I decided to do my bank transactions first, hoping that it wouldn’t take forever for me to finish. I was in such a hurry that I was only able to take a quick peek at the mirror, put eyeliner, reapply lipstick and dab a bit of powder on my face. I rode the car with disheveled hair and all. I prayed nobody I knew would see me. 

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As expected, it took me a while to finish my transaction at the first bank that I went to. By that time, my dad has already texted three times — to ask where I was, to tell me the schedule and to ask again where I was. I was starting to feel stressed, I felt my straight hair starting to curl.

I told myself it shouldn’t be as bad in the second bank since I was simply going to pick up some documents.

The bank officer in the second bank was very accommodating. He looked for and handed me right away the documents I needed. Just as I was about to leave, though, he asked for an ID that they can photocopy and attach to the transmittal memo that went with the documents. I obliged.

As he was returning the ID, he read my birth year aloud. “19–.” He looked at me, then he looked at the ID  again and muttered, “You don’t look your age.

I smiled shyly and muttered, “I look older?” He replied, “Younger. Definitely younger. Wow.” 

I got my ID back, smiled a big smile, said thank you, and walked away. Felt like a Supermodel walking out of the bank.

The compliment made my afternoon… or at least a portion of it.

Yes, I’m shallow like that. 🙂

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Going on a trip to my dad’s doctors is not something that I look forward to.  

In the last five years, my dad has had two surgeries, colon and then lung lobectomy, a series of chemotherapy sessions, and a knee fracture caused by an accident.  It was not an easy journey. Not for him and not for the family.  We have spent days going back and forth to the hospital. He has had a battery of tests.

But he is a fighter. He looked cancer in the eye and pretty much told the disease to take a hike. He has been cleared for almost three years now, though we still make regular visits to his doctors (all 5 or so of them) for monitoring.

He recently had his scheduled physical check up — CT scan, ultrasound, cardio test, and the works.  All tests he passed with flying colors.  I even kidded him the other day about his blood test results being more normal than mine.  

He is by all indication healthy and his vitals normal.

And then he started complaining about pain in the lower abs that radiates to the hips up to his back after sitting for a long time. No real reason for worry, we say. I keep telling him it’s just muscle pains and maybe nerves… maybe even rheumatism. 

As expected, his doctor said the same thing about his pain in the lower abs — it’s just muscle pains. But to address the back pains, the doctor ordered an MRI of the lumbar area. The pain, he said, can also be just muscle pains, or it could be a form of osteoporosis. Though because of my dad’s cancer history, they had to do an MRI. My mom and I exchanged looks. Here we go again…

From the moment we went out of the doctor’s clinic and all throughout the ride home, I have been praying silently that everything’s just muscle pains. 

When I don’t know the answer to my questions… When fear is beginning to creep in and I am starting to feel the anxiety building up… When I know that I cannot show how scared I am because I have to be strong for other people… Truly, prayer is my only refuge. 

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After the doctor’s consult, we decided to go to a cafe and have snacks. We asked my sister to join so we can fill her in. 

So over three kinds of pasta (hospital news made us hungry), we talked about what lies ahead. It was just the four of us — My dad, mom, my sister and I. The original bunch. We provide each other with strength.

We assured each other that there’s nothing to worry about. That the pain may be just because of the usual wear and tear of the body. My sister even suggested that my dad does yoga. I told him to go to an orthopedic doctor and ask for therapy.

And so we wait for Monday’s MRI session and Thursday’s doctor’s verdict. As we wait, we pray. We pray for courage and strength. We pray for inner peace.

Funny how earlier in the day my main concern was just about looking good. Yes, I can be shallow like that 🙂 

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Photos are mine. Hover over the photos to see the caption. ❤