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… 

❤ ❤

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.

brokenheart

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.

Happytobeme

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

 

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 🙂 

That Kind of Sunday

If someone told me last year that I will be doing what I did last Sunday, I probably would have laughed, shrugged it off, rolled my eyes, and stared into space with a dreamy look on my face…

I wouldn’t have believed.  I would have dreamed of it, yes, but I know I also would have doubted myself. I wouldn’t think I’d have it in me.

So, this happened last Sunday…

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37th Manila International Book Fair 

I had my very first book signing. 

***

This time last year, I did not have a book yet.  What I had were scribblings on pad paper. I also had typewritten and saved drafts of a number of ‘chapters’ of an unfinished story. 

I finally completed the very first draft of the book September 26 of last year (2015). I know because I noted the date on my planner.  I encircled the date — actually, I hearted it — and I wrote : finished my book, first draft

It was at its rawest, purest form. Unedited. Untouched by anyone else. 

I was happy I was able to finish writing the story, yet I never imagined that I would see it in book form. I was satisfied enough with the knowledge that I was able to create something that had more than 30,000 words. 

I only had two readers in mind — my person in L.A. and my best friend/cousin from here. I thought that was the farthest my book project will go.

***

It took a couple of months before I decided to submit the manuscript to a publishing house. By then I think I have read, edited, revised, reread and again revised the draft for about a hundred times. It was end November when I finally decided I was ready to submit it. I sent it via courier to a well-known local publishing company. One that publishes novellas for young adults, as well as chick lit books. 

I gave myself two weeks. I told myself if I don’t hear from that publishing company, it means my work wasn’t good enough. I told myself that I will forget about the whole thing and just charge everything to experience. I didn’t even have to share the experience — or the rejection — with anyone. The plan was to just let the “write and publish own book” idea die a slow, quiet death. No one brags about rejection. 

I did not hear from said publishing company. Ergo, my manuscript was rejected. 

The story would have ended there. The dream could have ended there.

***

Christmas reunion with family, 2015. I told my best friend/cousin from here that I was toying with the idea of self-publishing… that I have reached out to a couple of publishers and I was waiting for their reply… I also told her that there was this book designer whose works I fell in love with the moment I saw them online, and that I reached out to her, too. 

Of course dear cousin encouraged me all the way. She kept reminding me that this has always been my dream… and she knew that because we were cousins and we practically grew up knowing each other’s aspirations. 

She told me to go for it, told me to keep reaching. And she told me she was excited about the book signing. My book signing. There was no book yet, but she was already planning my book signing. 

She called it. I think that was on Christmas day. 🙂

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Taken at MY book signing… 9 months after she prophesied! I still blame her for all these 🙂 

Things started happening in January. Everything started falling into place.

At the same time, I also began having more moments of doubt and sleepless nights, too. I remember sending my cousin a text one night asking her to remind me again why I was doing what I was doing. She replied by telling me that nothing beats being able to physically touch and hold a book that I wrote. She made me imagine and visualize reading my name on the cover.

That truly helped me fight my fears somewhat.

***

I don’t believe in coincidences.  I believe God brought the people I needed my way because they were supposed to help me fulfill a dream. 

It wasn’t an easy process, but maybe it wasn’t supposed to be easy. Maybe I had to experience rejection from that first publishing company because I was meant to have something better. Maybe I wouldn’t have found my amazing cover artist and my super awesome book coordinator-cum-editor if another publisher found me. Maybe the ending of my book would even have been different. (You may read more about my book writing experience in my blog, Storytelling Time.)

It was a long, arduous process, but I believe I was guided every step of the way.

You want to know something else that I learned?  I learned that one is never too old to fulfill a dream. I have been writing essays since I was 12 years old. I have been dreaming of writing and publishing a book since I was a teenager. I have tried several times to come up with a good storyline for a book. Began several times. I failed several times, too.

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Note to self from six years ago… Proof that the desire has always been there

Then it just happened. God intervened. I could imagine God in a booming voice saying to me, “It is time! Let’s get this book out.” 

And God’s time is always the perfect time.

If someone told me early last year that I will have my own book by this time, I probably would have laughed, shrugged it off, rolled my eyes… 🙂

#

So now it’s out !!!

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

Available at Central Books. Soon at select National Book Store and Powerbooks outlets.  

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

And yes, because love is a wonderful thing. ❤ ❤ ❤

#20yearsinbetween #lizzieandjoseph #fiction

***

Photos are all mine 🙂 More photos from the event coming soon!!

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.

journey 2

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.