The Birthday Blog

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First of December 2016 selfie

Dear Diary,

So, I am turning 27 again in a couple of days.

I can imagine my friends shaking their heads no… but hey, it is my birthday. Indulge me.

For the past couple of weeks, I have been complaining that my back has been hurting and my neck and shoulder muscles have been pretty tight and stiff. I think it’s stress related. Now I am realizing that this normally happens to me whenever December comes and my birthday is nearing. Getting another year older stresses me out somewhat.

Getting older means having wrinkles, eyebags with baby bags and skin that won’t defy gravity. It is also about that extra five pounds that just won’t go away but easily manages to double after a drink of mocha or a bite of brownie. It’s about the body aches that you suddenly feel even after not really doing anything strenuous. Sometimes I am just sitting in the car and my neck will start hurting — and it’s not as if I craned it to take a selfie or something.  

Of course I don’t want to die young… but it’s the looking old, getting wrinkled and all part that bothers me. Maybe this is neurotic, but you know how vain I am, so the pain — and fear — are genuine.  

True beauty emanates from within. Maybe I should make that my mantra.

Excuse me as I get more expensive moisturizers and eye gels… Brb.

Love, Shallow Betsy ❤

❤ ❤ ❤

The Real Thing

So, I am celebrating my birthday in a couple of days. I think this is the perfect time to look back on the year that passed before I let it go and start another year…

As with the other years, this year I met new people, formed new friendships… only to see some friendships fizzle out even before the relationship can take off.

People really come and go. Some stay longer than others. Some stay as long as it’s convenient or you have something in common. Still there are others who just stay, regardless.  These are the ones you can call your real friends. 

I am thankful for my friends — whether old or new. They make life interesting and fun. The old ones keep me sane and grounded, while the new ones inspire me to be the best version of myself always (lest they change their minds and think that I am a flake, after all!). 

The past year was not devoid of challenges, frustrations and disappointments. And yet my God has always been faithful and He always came through for me.

I may not have had all the things that I wanted, but this year He gave me a desire of my heart. (Insert shameless plug of the book here: Twenty Years in Between, now available at Central Books AND Fully Booked!! Grab a copy now! 🙂 ) A childhood wish turned real. 

This year I learned that one is never too old to dream — or to go after a dream. Truly, the only one who can limit you is yourself. 

Indeed, I have so much to be thankful for. 

I thank God for my family and friends and for the love that they provide. I am thankful for good health — especially that of my parents’ and I pray that they will have many more years of being active and happy.

I am thankful for the opportunities thrown my way that allow me to grow as a person. I am thankful for the skills and talents that I possess (Here’s to more write ups, blogs and selfies…).

I am thankful that I look the way I do (Gorgeous, according to my brainwashed besties) … Though if God will make me miraculously lose several more pounds, I will be more thankful. 😉

I am thankful that every day I am protected and I have angels all around me.

I am thankful that God guards my heart and that though it sometimes breaks, experiences hurts and pains, it doesn’t remain broken and bitter because Someone up there keeps it whole and happy. 

Surely the blessings far outweigh the bad times. And I can’t help but be expectant of more good things in the year to come. 

Joy — like true beauty –emanates from within

Here’s to another joyous and beautiful year ahead. Happy 27th birthday to me… 🙂  

❤ ❤ ❤

photo credit: Selfie belongs to me!!

Li’l Ms. Sunshine

 

 

mary poppins

You only need a spoonful of sugar…

I have always loved kids.  Even as a teenager, my relatives would call me Mary Poppins because for some reason, my younger cousins just loved to follow me around.  I enjoyed taking care of them, too.  

I have always been patient with little children, whether they were my cousins or my nephews and nieces… even our neighbors’ kids. I would hang out with whoever wanted to hang out with me.

I would read them books, tell them stories and jokes, sing them songs. Plus, I also liked the fact that I could sing lullabies and nursery rhymes out loud without them laughing at me.  With kids, you don’t have to perform like you’re in Broadway. Sometimes they even like it more when you are singing off key.  They think it’s fun. They think you’re fun!

I also spent a lot of time with my younger brother’s friends. I would tutor whoever needed tutoring — and I did it for free.  I liked sharing knowledge. I liked answering their many why’s. When I didn’t know the answer, I liked researching to come up with the correct reply. 

I liked teaching kids… And I valued the lessons I learned from them, as well. It is a two-way thing.

***

teacher

One thing I like about teaching really young kids is that you start on a clean slate.  More often than not, they are eager to learn and they show a certain enthusiasm in learning that makes you as a teacher want to give nothing but the best.  When you know that you are shaping someone’s future — and that you see their willingness to learn, it is embarrassing not to give them what they deserve.

Some ten or twelve years back –when my son started going to a ‘big’ school– I realized that I had time to spare, so I decided to take teaching seriously. I studied again, I took Child Psychology and Early Childhood Education Programs, I got a certificate, and eventually set up my own Kiddie Learning Center.

And so for two school years and two summers, I operated a learning center for children aged 2 to 5.  I did not teach big classes.  I opted for one-on-one tutorials.  I spent an hour and a half, sometimes two hours, with one student.

Believe me, when you are with a child, a lot can happen in two hours.  You will never know what MAY happen in two hours.

Usually, though, my enthusiasm for teaching was matched by my students’ thirst for knowledge.

Every session was different.  Every session was amazing.

***

My youngest student then just turned two when her parents enrolled her. Unlike her older cousin who was always enthusiastic about writing and being read to, this girl was more playful… That basically meant she wanted to play more than “study.”

Oh, she could be a handful. She couldn’t keep still, was always fidgeting. She would hold the crayon for five seconds then will throw away the whole box when she gets bored coloring. I had to think of creative ways of keeping her attention, otherwise the whole session will pass with us not accomplishing anything.

On some mornings, the two of us would stay outside, under the heat of the morning sun, and explore the garden using our five senses. She was my Little Ms. Sunshine.

I remember her being stuck with me one stormy day… She was so scared of the lightning and the thunder that I had to carry her and sing her lullabies for about an hour just so she wouldn’t cry. My arms and shoulders were so sore afterwards that it felt like I worked out for one whole day.

One December morning, she “decided” she wanted to help me decorate our Christmas tree. We spent an hour and a half studying shapes, sizes and colors of the ornaments while singing Christmas songs. She had a blast.

Like I said, every session was different.  Every session was amazing.

***

seasons

Seasons

In time, life took a different turn. That season in my life came to an end. Eventually I stopped accepting students and started with a new venture. My students got older, too. They started going to big schools, most of them moved houses, some have gone to other countries. For some time I lost touch with them.

Life happened. Life went on.  But the memories of those mornings and early afternoons I spent with my young students somehow stayed with me.. and never failed to put a smile in my heart.

The thought that you were able to help shape a child into becoming the best version of himself/herself is something that one cannot take lightly. It is something to be proud of.

 ***

ms sunshine

Li’l Miss…

I found Little Ms.Sunshine on Facebook a couple of years ago. We are Facebook friends now.

When she turned 14 several days ago, I couldn’t help but marvel at how fast time has flown.

Little Ms. Sunshine has grown into a really sweet and beautiful young lady.  I could see how close she was to her parents and how loving she was to her younger brother. 

When I greeted her on her birthday, this was her reply, Thank you, my first teacher.

My heart melted. 

I can’t help but think that maybe, just maybe, I made a difference in her life. ❤

***

“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”  Prov. 22:6

 

photos via google images

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

#Thankful

rainbow

Life is beautiful

Truly there are so many things to be grateful for.  Sometimes, though, certain situations wear us down.

I have those moments, too.  Moments when life’s uncertainties just sow fear in me, enough to make me feel sick with worry. Sometimes I end up feeling sorry for myself.

When I go through challenges, no matter how trivial they may be, sometimes I find myself asking, “Why this? Why me? ”

But then, when I stop focusing on myself and my woes… When I stop and look around me, these are what I see–

  • I see people carrying their own share of burdens.  Sometimes lighter, oftentimes heavier than mine.
  • I see people who may have less in life yet who also have bigger smiles. 
  • I may see people who are proud, yet I also see selfless and loving ones. 
  • I see the opportunities that have been laid down in front of me.  Opportunity to help a brother in need… opportunity to showcase talent… opportunity to be the best Me that I can be.
  • I see all those times I surpassed a challenge — and came out stronger, better, wiser. 
  • I see all the answered prayers.
  • I also see the innumerable blessings that I have been showered with all these years.
  • I see all those times that my God pulled through for me.

And I go back to being thankful.

***

Be still and know that I am God. – Ps. 46:10

*****

photo via google image

Kindness matters

So there I was, sitting alone at my favorite coffee shop, enjoying some Me time…

It was almost lunch time and I came from an errand.  It has been quite a stressful week for me so I decided to give myself a treat. I felt I deserved a cup of ice blended mocha that day (which of course I regretted afterwards, but that’s another story…).

As I was sipping my mocha, I watched the people around me.  Yes, whenever I am alone at the coffee shop, that’s normally what I do — I people watch.  I don’t ogle or stare… I just observe surreptitiously.  Sometimes I can’t help but overhear the conversation from the next table (or from two tables away if the occupants are talking too loudly).  I have a favorite spot near where the cashier stands, so I normally hear what the other customers are ordering, even their specific requests.  I try not to be too obvious, though.  I don’t want to be intrusive. Continue reading