New Chapters

It has been almost a month since my last blog entry.

A lot of things can happen in a month. Indeed, a lot of things have happened these past four weeks.

Milestone moments.

So, my unico hijo graduated from high school last May 30. He graduated with highest honors. He was one of the recipients of the Citizenship (Leadership) award, and he was also given the Scholastic and Academic Award. 

I was one proud mommy. I still am. 

I listened in awe as he delivered his Valedictory speech. That speech which he didn’t want to show us prior to graduation — mainly because he wanted it to be his own. I respected his decision because I knew that the writer in me would have ended up editing the speech here and there… And the mother in me would have added stuff that I thought was important. 

And so he held his own. He wrote his speech without any inputs from his parents… And he delivered it to the graduating class and the whole community with such grace and confidence. He talked about superheroes and about how one need not be a superhero to leave a mark in the world. He talked about his classmates and friends who in their own ways are mighty enough. He talked about the school and the community that shaped him to become the person the he is today.

As I observed the teachers, other parents, and the rest of the school community listening to his every word, I couldn’t help but think that yes, I must have done something good. Although I knew that the day was not about me… still, I couldn’t help but take pride in the fact that I helped raise this young man up. I had a hand in molding him into what and who he is now.

I also said a silent prayer of thanks to the Creator — for entrusting this child to me. I thanked Him for allowing me to experience this precious thing called Motherhood.

the graduate

With the Cup and the Cap that kept falling off — much to my dismay!!

❤ ❤ ❤

June 4 — the unico hijo turned 18.

Wow. 18 years. Time just flew by. He is now 18… I can no longer claim to be just 27 years old. Gosh.

I tried to think about how 18 years of being a mother has changed me. Aside from the additional 18lbs (or maybe even 20?) that I have gained through the years, surely there were other changes that took place.

For one I am no longer the clueless young mother that I was years back… I am now a clueless old mother. Haha, kidding. 

Motherhood doesn’t come with a handbook. One learns about parenting from other people — like your elders, or your peers. You also learn given the situations or circumstances that you face. You learn from your child. You learn from your mistakes, too. 

Ultimately you learn to trust your instincts and you make decisions based on what your heart tells you… because your heart will always opt for the good, wherever your child is concerned. 

Motherhood changed me. I learned things about myself, did things that I never thought I was capable of doing. I found that kind of strength that I never thought I had. I learned to make wise decisions. And more importantly, I learned to put someone else’s needs before mine.

Years back, when I decided to be a full-time, hand-on mom, I heard remarks that were enough to make one feel inferior. To some people, I became “just a mother.” Like my value as a person diminished somehow.

Now 18 years later, I’d still say that I wouldn’t have had it any other way.  

almon

Our first date after he turned 18 ❤ 

❤ ❤ ❤

The coming months will be pretty interesting because once my son is already in college, I will only be mothering from afar. So basically, I am starting a new chapter in my life, as well.

Whenever I read a book, I always look forward to starting new chapters. Each new chapter holds promise. If the previous one was bad, I look forward to the next one being good. If the previous chapter was good, I look forward to the next one being better.

As my son begins his new chapter, so will I begin mine.

Here’s to living God’s purpose, one life chapter at a time.

photo credits: pictures are all mine 🙂

Ms Universe Hangover

ms-u-crown2

And the winner is...

Spent this morning with my eyes glued to the TV, watching the Miss Universe pageant.

I don’t normally watch the whole pageant in the previous years. What made this year’s pageant different –and more interesting– to me is the fact that our country hosted it. Again. After 23 years. I believe this is a big boost to our tourism. Seeing our beautiful country being promoted all throughout the event made me really proud. Kudos to the people from Department of Tourism who were behind this successful endeavor.

Though Ms. Philippines did not get the coveted crown, I still believe our country won this morning.  Continue reading

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!!

Reflections

anchor

God keeps me safe

Psalms 46:1 “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”

**ANCHOR. Picture a ship at a dock. It does not go anywhere, but it still moves. It follows the ebb and flow of the waves. It doesn’t stay still. The wind and the water move it. To and fro, side to side. Sometimes the current is smooth and the waves move slowly, softly. At times, the waters are rough.

Anchors are used to keep the ship in place. It is supposed to connect the ship to the seabed, to provide a firm hold so as to prevent the vessel from drifting.

Certain situations and circumstances in life make it difficult for us to stay still. Just like a sea vessel, we go where the wind and the current take us. It is easy to drift away, get lost in the storm, crash into big rocks… Not unless you have an anchor that will keep you in place. An anchor that will not let you drift away, despite the storm that is brewing around you.

Everyday I thank God for being my Anchor. I rest in the knowledge that no matter how hard the wind blows and how strong the currents are, He keeps me in place. I know that even when I get weary and just too exhausted, He will provide me with that firm hold so that I will not drift far away.

He will do the work that on my own I will not be able to do. 

What is your anchor? WHO is your anchor? Who keeps you in place and keeps you at peace? ❤

***

A couple of months ago, I decided that I will begin each week with a Bible verse and my reflections posted on my Facebook account. I tried to be consistent… unfortunately, it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. Mondays will pass without me being able to post anything… Sometimes one whole week passes — no Bible verse, no reflection.

Things happen. We don’t always get to do what we planned to do. We get preoccupied. We get so busy. We turn our attention elsewhere. Life happens.

But then despite the chaos, the busyness, all of a sudden we find ourselves with extra time in our hands. Time we can use to think, to reflect… to pray.

This is one of those times. Today was one of those days. I was able to post my reflections on Facebook… And then I told myself, why not share it in my blog, as well?

I may not be able to do this consistently every Monday, but I will try. Sometimes, an encouraging word is all we need to get us through the day — or week.

Have a blessed week! 🙂

*****

photo via google images

Me, Myself and I

selfie

sheer talent

Everyone who knows me — and I mean, who TRULY knows me — would also know what a selfie-freak I am.  Oh yes, I have that Kim Kardashian blood running through my veins.  I have so mastered the the art of taking selfies that most of my photos look like they were taken by someone else.  I’m that good! (Or maybe, I also just have long arms…)

I love making photo books, too.  I have already made several photo books of our family trips and vacations… birthday parties — of my son and my nephews… just recently I made a photo book of my sister’s family’s vacation.  The whole process of picking what pictures to put and decorating the album with various frames and art work, plus choosing the background color or theme of each page, all these somehow destress me.  And it’s nice to look at the finished product.  

It is always nice to look at pictures that capture special moments in time.

Sometime late last year, I was able to purchase a voucher for a 40-paged 6×6 photo book at such a low price. Believe me, the amount was insanely low that I couldn’t pass up the chance of getting one. Recently, though, I was notified that said voucher was expiring. Oh no!!  I didn’t want it to go to waste… But I didn’t have any project in line, as well.

And then the bright idea… Since I have already made gazillion photo books for the family, I thought to myself, why not make one for, uhm, myself, this time?  Besides, I had loads of selfies to choose from — saved in whatever gadget I have (two cellphones and an iPad, to be more precise… plus the desktop files…). This should be interesting.

let me take a selfie

say “selfie!”

So I gifted myself with a photo book of MY selfies. A 40-paged album filled with photos of no one but myself.  Photos I took of myself at different places, different times of the day, from the past 5 or so years to the present.  All solo shots. All me.

Me, myself and I.    It was narcissism at the highest level. 

I had a blast making it… Though I don’t know if I can say the same about the guy who had to print the album. My face probably haunted him in his dreams afterwards. 😉

***

I have always been vain.  My childhood and high school friends can attest to that. I always make sure that I look my best every time, everywhere. My pocket mirror, hair brush and lipstick are — and will always be — my bestest friends.  I can stare at myself in the mirror for half an hour and not get tired. I guess it just follows that for me, taking selfies is not just a skill, it’s a talent.

But truth be told, these narcissistic tendencies of mine don’t stem from having that feeling of being superior. It’s also not because I admire myself so much. On the contrary, most of the time, I have self esteem issues.  I lack the confidence. There’s this fear of being not good enough and of being judged by other people.

When I was much younger, my belief was if I don’t look good, then there is nothing about me that people will like.  People will think I am not good enough.  My self-image was hinged on my looks. My self confidence was dependent on my physical appearance. Thus, I took pains in making sure that I always looked my best.

In time I realized that true beauty emanates from inside. Inner peace, love and joy can give one the natural glow that no make up brand, no matter how expensive, can match. 

I still struggle, every now and then. Whenever I gain a few pounds… or I see a wrinkle here and there, or a line under my eyes… or I feel my cheeks starting to sag… I do feel bad.  It still gets to me. 

I am still vain. I still enjoy staring at myself in the mirror — and yes, taking selfies. Taking selfies is my way of capturing and preserving my moments. It is my way of celebrating myself.

Yet I have learned to accept that though I am not the best, I know that I am beautiful. I am beautiful because I am a child of God… His grace sustains me.

Besides, I also rest in the knowledge that people who truly love me will love and accept me, wrinkles and all.

***

We were all young once…

Two year old Me.

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pure, wide-eyed and innocent

“I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;” – Psalms 139:14

 *****

photo credits : via google images; black & white pic of the cute little girl was from my mom.