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

 

Friends bonding over sushi

Several blogs ago, I talked about my high school friends and our annual Christmas or Post-Christmas get togethers (see Sunsets and Friendships). Last Saturday was the latest one. No, we didn’t watch the sunset together — nor did we wait for the sunrise…

This time, we bonded over lunch. And like what one of my friends said, “We do lunches now… Does that mean we are getting old?!” Maybe they are. Hahaha.

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Friends for a lifetime

So there we were, four ladies and a gentleman. Now that sounded old. Let me say that again…

So there we were, four girls and a guy, chatting our hearts away over sushi. When you have four girls and a lone guy in a group, guess who will monopolize the conversation? The lone guy, of course! We were hanging on to his every word.

Nah, I was kidding. We all took turns in talking and listening. 😉  I wasn’t kidding about the ‘We were hanging on to his every word’ part, though. Because we were. You see, we don’t get to see lone guy that often since he doesn’t reside in the same area as the rest of us.

Clearly one of the most brilliant minds from our high school batch — heck, I think it is safe to say that he may very well be one of the most brilliant Filipino males from our age group in the whole country, of course we will hang on to his every word (with hopes of having some of his intelligence rubbed off…)!  I am sure all four of us were mighty proud of his achievements (Which are truly out of this world… literally… believe me!).  

But then despite being Mr. Biggie in his field, he still is the same guy we grew up with… Mild-mannered, unassuming, not a single, tiny trace of arrogance. All the more reason for us to be proud.

Or maybe he is really just smart enough not to cross his female friends who know and can use his high school secrets against him! Haha. Now that was shallow.  

It was one interesting lunch that we had.  Too bad I am not allowed to share the juicy details. 🙂 

❤ ❤

Time and again I say that when you are with old friends, you can talk about anything and everything. Somehow you have a treasure trove of memories that seems bottomless. 

As we took turns filling each other in about what has been happening in our own worlds, I thought to myself, Wow, we all sound mature. Life’s experiences and the passage of time have somewhat made us calmer,  more grounded and less petty. 

And then the conversation shifts to high school memories (and certain personalities)… Did I say earlier that we sounded mature? Hmm. I take that back. 

So we reminisced, exchanged notes, laughed and gossiped away.  I believe our collective memories showed that our high school life was indeed good and fun. A major factor that made it so was because we had each other.

It is nice to remember the person you once were before you became the person you are now

When I am with my friends, I get reminded of my 15 yr. old self — the perfectionist, vain yet nerdy drama queen. 

Old friends help remind you of how you used to be. Maybe you were more brave, bold and fearless. You remember qualities the young you possessed that time had somehow tempered. You remember who you were then, giving you the chance to bring those forgotten qualities back.

And as you continue to share life experiences, you also realize how much you have grown through the years… You get to appreciate how far you all have come. 

Okay, now my musings are making me sound really old!

Bottomline is, in the company of your lifelong friends, you are the sum total of YOU, both past and present. There is simply no denying that. 

Plus, they also hold a treasure trove of your secrets… there’s no escaping that, either! 🙂 

1994

From a treasure trove of memories… all blackmail material… because we know each other well!  🙂 

Here’s to more lunches with all of you!

Our anthem from the 90’s… How very apt!

 *****

Credits: Photos are from my O+ phone… Music Video of Friends theme song “I’ll Be There for You” via Youtube ❤ 

Gorgeous’ Friends (in no particular order because I don’t play favorites): Jeg, Sandee, Liesl, Kokoy, Patrick, Joel, Manny ♥

Pretty long lashes

lashes

Pretty long lashes

They say that if you want a child’s eyelashes to grow full, thick and long, you should trim them while he/she is still an infant.  My mom did that for my brother when he was a baby. I guess it worked because his lashes grew thick and long.

On the same day that she trimmed my baby brother’s lashes, she looked at mine and thought that maybe, just maybe, my lashes needed some trimming, as well.

I’m a girl. I would be prettier with long lashes. So she decided to fix mine, too. 

I was seven years old.  

My lashes never grew long. They didn’t even get thick nor curly. They stayed straight. House broom straight… and kinda short. Much to my dismay.

I never got tired of blaming my mom, too, for that.

The phrase “And her eyelashes fluttered” never applied to me.  My lashes were never long enough to flutter. And unless I used a really good, expensive mascara, well, no one would notice my lashes.

***

I am a girly girl.  I love my long hair, my pink lipstick, my pink toe nails.  I like getting all dolled up and feeling pretty. I know I will be prettier if I have doll-like lashes. 

So today, my best friend Gracie and I decided to spend the afternoon having our eyelashes fixed. Translation: Get eyelash extensions.

We had it done at  Lavish Lashes at Festival Mall in Alabang.

lashes-1

Before…

I was really tempted to try the Glamour look… but I was afraid I’ll end up looking like a drag queen, so we opted for the Natural look… But we chose thicker, darker lashes (compared to the regular eyelash). 

The eyelash technicians led us to two beds at opposite sides of the room. I guess they didn’t want us to be beside each other so we won’t end up chatting the whole time.  (Like it will be easy to chat while your eyes are closed!)

The whole process took a little over thirty minutes. It was quite relaxing, really.

And, voila!

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After…

My pictures don’t do my new eyelashes justice… But if you will look closer, I am sure you will appreciate them better.

Another girly goal ticked off my list. 

Okay, so I am shallow… And yes, I am vain. It was a fun afternoon, though… and my heart is happy.

Plus my new eyelashes are just too pretty. ❤

***

Evening shots… 

So maybe I look like the Grudge with pale face and red lipstick… but the lashes are still pretty!!

Oh, simple joys!  ❤

*****

photo credits: Eyelash cartoon via google images (shutterstock); All other photos are mine!! 🙂 

Lavish Lashes Studio located at GF Festival Mall, Alabang

 

 

 

 

What matters most

red-rose

A rose for my friend…

The thing about Facebook is sometimes you find yourself friends with people you don’t really personally know so well.  They may be mere acquaintances… people you met at work yet you never really talked to much… or they are parents of your child’s friends… or your friends’ friends… or people you went to school with many moons ago.

Facebook reconnects people.  Facebook allows you to be privy to someone’s life events. You know of them based on their status posts and the pictures they share. Sometimes you don’t really talk to a person yet you feel you know so much about her because of what you see online. You feel you know the person’s family even.

Over the weekend, I came across a Facebook post that made me literally stop and stare at the screen of my iPad for a good ten minutes.  I had to make sure I read the post correctly.

It was a notice of someone’s passing.  It was a message from a mother, bidding her 20-year old daughter farewell for the moment, with the promise that they will see other again soon.

My heart bled.

***

I met the mom in my son’s elementary school. She was a teacher.  During one of our Parent-Teacher conferences some ten years ago, we got to talk and we found out that we came from the same high school. She was a year younger, but we had friends in common. I think she even dated one of my guy friends back in high school.  We instantly became Facebook friends after that meeting.

Over the years, I learned more about her not because we talked to each other but because I see her FB posts on my newsfeed. Though I hardly saw her in person and my son has already moved schools, I still knew what goes on in her life because of the posts she shares. And I am pretty sure that she is updated with mine, as well.

She shares photos of her girls — two young adults… She has photos of her adorable students and their school activities… she shares shots of her dog…

Mostly she posts her adventures and travels with her two girls. I haven’t personally met them but I know their names and I feel like part of their family. 

Three of them together, always with big smiles. Always happy, carefree.  Living life. Enjoying moments. Being together. 

Until the notice last weekend. Her youngest, gone too soon.

***

heart

... and the greatest of all is love

If you read a post like that and not get a jolt, I don’t know what will.

I can only imagine how she is feeling. No, I won’t even try to imagine it. Heartbroken would be an understatement. Maybe it’s more like experiencing the world crumbling down on you, both literally and figuratively.

Parents should not be burying their children. It should be the other way around. Our children should live long, full lives. We should be the ones to go first, prepare the way for them in heaven as we do on earth.

I don’t really know the circumstances that led to the young girl’s demise. I only heard bits and pieces. The girl got ill, there were complications, she didn’t survive.

It was every mother’s nightmare. My heart goes out to my friend.

***

ireland-2

Find your peace… Love what matters

 

Life is short. A lot of times we bother ourselves with the mundane that we forget to appreciate the important stuff.  We obsess about things we don’t have, people we don’t like… We get petty, we waste our time and energy on things that won’t do us any good, people who bring out the worst in us.

When you hear about someone you know losing a person really important to her, you get jolted awake. It hits close to home.  Somehow you realize that you want to make the most of whatever time you have on earth with the people you love… You realize that you want to get the most out of life. 

As we get older, the days seem to move much faster. And we find ourselves questioning — are we living the life we want to live?

So, go — Spend time with your friends… Reach out… Make time for people… Show people you love that you love them… Hug someone… Laugh…. Laugh hard…. Take selfies… Capture the moments… Don’t just connect on Facebook, connect in real life…

Love your pets… Experience how it feels to be loved unconditionally… Put a smile on someone’s face… Allow someone to make you smile… Have a purpose… Be someone’s sunshine… Feel…

Live each day knowing that time is fleeting. Because only then will you value that which is truly important.

Live with no regrets.

*****

photos via google images

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.

note-to-bgo-001

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!!