Girl friends make the world go round

It was one fine Monday evening. My best friend and I were at Cafe Mary Grace having early dinner, sipping our Sangrias, and chatting to our hearts’ extent.

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April 3, 2017

We were exchanging stories – catching up on the things we haven’t talked about and rehashing the ones we already have.

We recalled being at the same restaurant some 6 months back, talking about going on a trip to Europe together. We talked then about London, Paris and Dublin. When we felt the idea was quite far-fetched, we settled with just going on a shopping spree somewhere in Asia – like Hongkong or Singapore.

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Dreamin’ of Dublin… October 2016

That was six months ago. It’s now early April and the farthest we have been to together this year so far is, well, this mall.  We laughed at the realization.

We laughed and giggled a lot over dinner. It was a light evening spent with a friend.

Everything was all good.

❤ ❤

I have recently been invited to join this discussion group for women on Facebook. It was a closed group and the members were strictly women only. The group was set-up to serve as an avenue where women can discuss motherhood and womenhood.   Members of the group can ask parenting questions on child rearing, kids’ education, health matters, you name it. Members may also advertise their businesses, ask for contacts or referrals.  

Women helping other women. Mothers reaching out to other mothers.

I joined the group mainly for the network. I felt it was a good place to get information on things I may need or stuff I am looking for. 

A member may also opt to post anonymously, meaning the group admin will be the one to upload the question or inquiry to hide the identity of the person involved.  Most of these Anonymous Posts pertain to Family Relationships, Issues or Problems.

I don’t always read the posts, especially the long ones, but there was this one post last week that somewhat struck me.  It was a desperate cry for help.

This female – a wife and a mother – was asking the group if she can be referred to a center which can help her fight her depression. She said she has been feeling very low for quite some time now and that no one, not even her husband nor her “friends” seem to understand nor take her seriously.

For her to reach out to a group of strangers, I could only surmise how lost and alone she must be feeling. I truly felt sorry for her.

And then I remembered my girl friends, and I can’t help but be thankful that I have them.

❤ ❤

No one should go through life alone. 

I believe that friendship is a product of shared time, experiences, trust and love. I also believe that not everybody can be your friend… But you know that they are real friends when they stick by you through thick or thin. They love you, they are loyal, and you are confident that they will have your back at all times.  

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I may not have a gazillion friends, but I know who I can share my laughter and heartaches with… who will listen as I rant about petty stuff and who will rant along with me…

I know who shares my “self-righteousness” and who won’t judge me when I judge others… I have friends I can dream of going to South of France with – the same ones who will don a Japanese schoolgirl outfit with me on a dare…

I know whom I can bare my heart and soul to… the ones who believe in me even more than I believe in myself – the same ones who will keep pushing me to go after a dream.

And these are the same people I know I will stick my neck out for when the need arises.

❤ ❤

If you are feeling lost and alone, reach out to a friend. It may be your sister, your mom, or, okay, even your spouse. A friend may be someone you have known all your life, like an old schoolmate or a cousin, or maybe someone you met in Church.

I believe we don’t need a hundred friends. A handful of loyal ones will do.

They are the ones who share your joy when good things happen. They are also the ones who will be with you, who will listen, hold your hand, and pray with you at your time of need.  

Because life is not always easy… and NO ONE should go through life alone.

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Laughing about anything and everything ❤

And good times get better when shared with people you love.

Proverbs 17:17 “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”

photos are all mine 🙂

Meet me at the bookstore…

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Oh, the places you’ll go…

The book – Twenty Years in Between – is out!!

Those who have been following my blog, Facebook and Instagram accounts would know that I have been doing the rounds, distributing to various bookstores.

Lately I have been receiving a number of inquiries on where they can get the book. Truth be told, right now there are limited number of printed copies available, so I had to choose strategically where best to place them.

Below is a list of the bookstores that already carry Twenty Years in Between:

National Bookstore: 

* Alabang Town Center (ATC) * Festival Supermall * SM Southmall* SM Center Molino, Bacoor* Glorietta* Greenbelt 1* Market Market* SM Aura Premier* SM Mall of Asia (MOA)* Robinsons Place Manila* Harrison Plaza* Taft Madison 

Powerbooks: 

*Alabang Town Center* Evia North* Festival Supermall

Fully Booked:

*The Fort, BGC* Mall of Asia (MOA)* Katipunan* Eastwood* Alabang Town Center 

Central Bookstore: 

*SM Megamall* Lyceum Branch, Makati* Also available online at http://www.central.com.ph

For delivery this week in the following National Bookstore branches:

Trinoma* SM City North* Quezon Ave.* Loyola Heights Katipunan* SM City Fairview* SM City Marikina* SM Megamall

Copies are limited, so GRAB ONE NOW!! ❤

***

This time last year, I was still in the process of getting to know my publisher. Truly I am still amazed at the many things that can — or better yet, that had happened within a year’s time! 

I am grateful to the people who have supported this dream of mine. Indeed, I am so very blessed. 

Sharing with you some photos of this wonderful journey…

From the Book Signing last September

With Ms. Clarissa Ines, my uber talented book cover artist!

 Dear family and friends… What to write, what to write… 🙂

More Friends Enjoying the Book…

How to write heartfelt dedications… ❤ 

My Bookstore Visits…

It is fun, it is tiring… it is exhilarating! Best part is– I know this journey has just begun.

All glory goes to the One Who made all these possible. All for You, Lord. 🙂 

Leaving you with this… 

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Because this is truly, definitely how you will feel after reading the book…

Twenty Years in Between… The Love Story of Lizzie and Joseph

Grab a copy now!!

❤ ❤

photo credits: BuzzFeed Books post grabbed from Facebook ; all other photos are mine 🙂

Like us on FB: Twenty Years in Between 

Notes from mommy

So, this is what happens when your only son goes to a party on a Saturday evening and decides to sleep over at a friend’s house instead of coming home in the wee hours…

Mom is left at home on a Sunday morning, finding time to rummage through old stuff — mainly old albums… and realize once again that time does fly so very fast

I can’t believe he is now 17 years old and will be off to college in several months. I know that he is still quite uncertain of what he really wants to become in the future. As parents, don’t we sometimes wish we can just make the decisions for our children to make things easier for them?

But surely, that shouldn’t be so. Our children still have to make their own choices and decisions. They have to live their lives. We are here to just guide and direct, provide pep talk when needed, and maybe an occasional push. 

Sometimes the most we can do is to put some fun in their lives… 

Because son isn’t home, mom is free to blog about him yet again– and unabashedly so…

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“Oh no mommy… NOT again?! “

Yes, sweetie. Sorry there’s just one of you that I can pick on. But I promise I will be nice. 🙂

So, this is Miguel. My unico hijo. 

We have always known that he is scholarly. He has enjoyed studying and learning even as a very young child…

If you’re going to be a nerd, be a cool one…

… and choose the right role models…

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… and yes, you have to pursue your passions, too.

We have always known that Miguel likes to perform…

I think he already knew then that he will one day try to emulate this guy named…

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Bruno Mars

Oh, wait, I think Miguel has something to say…

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“Seriously? You had to drag Bruno Mars into this?! Stop mom, you are embarrassing me…”

Thought balloon: “Wait, the sign said Dress Up Like Pooh, WHY am I dressed like a bumblebee??”

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“This is for dressing me up like a bee…”

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“… and for posting my pictures!”

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“I am sooo embarrassed I’ll just hide…”  

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“…or I’ll just eat sushi and give you a deadly stare!!”

Seriously, my child, you can be anything you want… You can be a genius and a charmer, and you can be a great performer like Bruno. 

You can be anything you set your mind to be. Just always strive to be the best YOU. That’s all we ask.

Remember, the world is your oyster. Explore and enjoy!

And just like what good old Leonardo di Caprio’s Jack in Titanic said…

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“I’m the king of the world!”

Own it.

photos from the treasure chest of memories are all mine 🙂 

Storytelling time

north and south

I was a fan!!

Once upon a time…

The year was 1986. I was a sophomore in high school. There was a TV mini-series entitled North and South that I religiously followed.  It was based on a trilogy of novels written by author John Jakes.  I liked the mini-series so much that I “attempted” to write my own version of North and South (which I entitled, uhm, North and South…)

Using my dad’s typewriter, I would spend my nights typing away on blue typewriting paper (don’t ask why it’s blue… it just was blue!).  My version was a love story. It was about an heiress named Elizabeth who fell in love with stable boy Joseph. Okay, I am cringing now…

But hey, I think I was only 14 years old then — so what did I know about love stories?!

Only one friend of mine ever read that story.  Every time I would finish a “Chapter,” I would pass it on to her… and she would beg me to write some more. She was my best fan and worst critic. Well, she was my sole reader, so what did I expect. But she gave me the first push. She gave me reason to believe that my writing was good enough.

I don’t think I got past 5 chapters, though.  I think I ran out of ideas… and most likely I got busy being a teenager that I forgot about the story altogether. But one thing remained, though. I knew then that I loved writing and I loved telling stories.

I also knew that I would want to write – and publish – a book someday. A love story… Maybe a sappy one like my North and South… 🙂

It was a dream. It was a girly goal. 

***

Dreams don’t really die… some are just forgotten.  But they are still there with you, inside you.

When the right time comes and you realize that you still want to go after a long-forgotten dream, even the universe will conspire to help you achieve it.

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My inspiration

2014. I received handwritten letters from my best friend/cousin from the US.

For some reason, these gave me a storyline to start with and work on.

I told myself I was ready to take on the challenge. Told myself I would write that love story I have long been wishing/dreaming to write. 

And so the journey began…

So, what do writers need when they are to create a masterpiece? Of course I armed myself with the “tools.”

journey 1

i’m more hi-tech now!

My laptop came very handy especially since I preferred to ‘work’ at my office space outside my home…

journey 3

view from my office

And surely, I needed my energy drink…

journey 4

this kept me awake

I was ready. I was excited. I was writing my first book!  I wrote several chapters. I almost felt like a real writer.

Almost.

And then I hit a blank. I didn’t know where the story was going. It didn’t help, too, that my laptop kind of crashed.

***

Angels all around us.

2015. After shelving the project for about a year, I saw the saved drafts of the first several chapters that I wrote… and I found myself smiling while reading. I felt bad for not finishing the story.

journey 5

my bestie from LA

I emailed the finished chapters to my best friend/cousin in the US for her birthday last July.

All she said was — Finish it. Finish the story. Just keep writing.

That gave me the drive to continue. At least I knew I had one loyal reader.

And so I started writing again.  But since my laptop crashed, I had to contend with good old pen and paper this time around. So much for being hi-tech. 

When I hit another moment of anxiety and insecurity — when I started asking myself what the point was in all these, and I was starting to tell myself that I don’t write well enough and surely I don’t think I can actually finish writing a book — another angel intervened…

journey 6

my bestie from here

She read the first part of the draft and demanded that I share with her the rest. 

She also pretty much told me to stop being a drama queen and just continue what I have started. 

Real friends push you when you are just too tired, scared and unsure of yourself. They will not give up on you even when you are ready to give up on yourself. 

***

Divine connections

I continued with my project and finished the manuscript late September of last year. 

A manuscript is not a book until it is printed and published. At least to me, it’s not. Since it was truly just a personal project, I decided to explore the self-publishing option. I researched and inquired…

And then I met this super cool guy (a writer and an artist) who answered all my two hundred questions about self-publishing and who was more than willing to work with me in making a book. He eventually became my book coordinator, my proofreader and editor, as well as my lay out artist. He was my best friend for several months. It didn’t hurt as bad when he edited away (which translates to him chopping off some parts, fixing some lines, etc. etc). The editing took time, we added and changed stuff here and there, yet he was very patient all throughout. I was truly flattered when he said he really liked my work (despite it being chick lit). 

God then sent another angel my way in the form of a really talented artist. I found samples of her work online and they were truly divine! I reached out to ask if she would be ever so nice to design a book cover from me… and she agreed!! I was overjoyed.

I cannot thank these two artists enough. Though I was a total stranger, they entertained my queries — and helped me create something.  

When the time is right, God leads us to the right people… or He leads the right people to us.

***

And so, after two years of creating… and about thirty years of dreaming, here it is…

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realization of a dream

Because it doesn’t hurt to read a sappy love story every once in a while. ❤

***

Available this July at Central Books in SM Megamall, Central Books Lyceum Makati and Central Books Cebu. Also available soon at their online bookstore: http://www.central.com.ph.

Limited copies only 🙂

Twenty Years in Between… the Love Story of Lizzie and Joseph; copyright 2016 Betsy Gacutan- Ochosa.
Work of fiction. All names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Heartfelt thanks to Clarissa Ines for the cover design and Adam David for the edits & layout.

 

 “Commit your works to the Lord, And your thoughts will be established.” Prov. 16:3

*****

photo of North and South via google images; all other photos are the author’s.

First of June

And just like that, it’s the first of June.  Five months have already passed… we are almost at the halfway mark of 2016.  Where has time gone??

I can still distinctly remember celebrating New Year’s Eve with my family and friends. Then came a series of post-Christmas reunions.  Then came Valentine’s day — which I honestly have no recollection of… Then Holy Week which we spent here at home. Then the national elections which happened first week of May.

And now it’s June 1.

Did I spend the first 150 days of the year well? Or did the days just pass? I wonder.

***

In the beginning of the year, I embarked on a personal project.  Amid the usual day to day tasks required of me, I challenged myself to do something I have long wanted to do… Something for, basically, myself. And no, it’s not a fitness challenge… and I’m not 5 lbs lighter or anything like that. This project has something to do with one of my first loves– writing.

Like what I said in one of my essays, when God puts a seed of a dream in your heart, He also gives you the tools to help you make it grow.  He will give you the inspiration, He will connect you to the right people — people who can help you fulfill your dream, and I believe He will also give you the courage and the strength to finish what you have started, despite the fear, the insecurities and all the uncertainties you have in your head.

And then there’s time. Time to work, time to pray… and time to wait.

This — where I am right now — is waiting time.

It can get so tiring to wait. I get impatient. I get antsy. I get all the more insecure.   But then I hear this Bible verse in my head telling me to just Be still...and to know Who my God is. 

My God who provides the seeds of my dreams.  My God who connects me with people.  My God where I derive my strength from… Who tells me to just press on.

***

It’s the first of June.  This morning after running my usual errands, I passed by my favorite coffee shop for a few minutes of alone time.

I looked back at the past 5 months. I thought about the progress of my personal project.  I drank my favorite drink. I said a little prayer.

I thanked God for the days, months that have passed, the provisions and the favors, and I thanked Him in advance for the bountiful blessings to come.

I also thanked Him for the Now.

***

Of course, I had to do this before leaving the coffee place…

June 1

But first, let me take a selfie…

the view

view from my favorite seat / work place

photo 2

June 1 breakfast

All’s well. 🙂

***

…being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion…” – Philippians 1:6