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

 

525,600 minutes

Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Moments so dear…

Exactly two weeks from today, my precious unico hijo will be graduating from high school. 

Over the past weekend, I started listing down the things we should prepare for, things that he would be needing for college. Though he won’t be leaving until end of July, I just thought of planning and preparing early enough so we won’t forget anything.

Last night I found myself watching YouTube videos that featured his future college. I watched the ones made by current students (mostly entitled A Day in the Life…), I also viewed the promotional videos posted by the school itself. 

I thought of how he will have a lot of exciting opportunities, meet new, interesting people, learn a lot from this college experience. I know it will be quite an adventure for him. I am probably even more excited than him. I probably already know more about the school than he does. 

I slept feeling at peace, excited about the college we chose, and what the future holds for my son. 

This morning, my sister sent me an article she read online entitled Give Me the Strength… A Parent’s Prayer at Graduation. 

That article/prayer brought me back to the present. It brought me back to here and now….

To the realization that in two weeks time, my son and his classmates are graduating, spending one last day at their beloved high school. They will be saying goodbye to each other, to their teachers, to their younger friends.  They will be spending their last morning in that school, all together, perhaps for the one last time. And then they will say goodbye and part ways.

All they will be left with are memories — good, bad, ugly… It doesn’t matter, I am sure they will embrace each memory just the same.

I was a weepy mess after reading the article… also because I realized that as my son leaves high school and goes off to college, I will have to say goodbye, too. 

Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes
How do you measure – measure a year?

When my son first left to attend a College Weekend (you may read about it in the post Stages and Seasons), the house truly felt different. It was more quiet.

My son was never a noisy, rowdy individual. On ordinary days, he would just stay in his room to study, so I am pretty used to the house being quiet.  But it is a different kind of silence when you know that your child is just there in the other room. 

In Church that weekend, one of the Senior Pastors chatted with my husband and me. We got to talk about empty nesting and he gave us some words of advise, words of wisdom. He empathized with us, even shared their own experience as a family when their eldest son also graduated from high school and moved out of the house for college. 

Parents have to let go of their children at some point. And it hurts when we do so. What makes it more sad is the realization that as we end this season, we also have to accept that things will never be how they were before. We say good bye to our young child. 

We say good bye to the ordinary day to day life we spend with them. The ordinary and the mundane days spent with our young children that we normally take for granted. 

In daylights – in sunsets
In midnights – in cups of coffee
In inches – in miles
In laughter – in strife

In – five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes
How do you measure
A year in the life

But then, like what the Pastor reminded us, parenthood does not end when our children become adults. We just all enter a new season together

How about love?
How about love?
How about love?
Measure in love
Seasons of love
Seasons of love…

I am proud of the things my son has accomplished and of the person that he has become. But I also know that there is so much more in store for him and as good parents, we will have to give him the freedom to grow. 

We will always be his parents. I will always be his mother. Whenever he needs me, all he has to do is to holler and he will have my attention. Sometimes he doesn’t even need to holler, sometimes I already know he needs me even if he hasn’t said a word. That won’t change.

And I will continue to pray for him — for his health, his well-being, his happiness and success — whether he is here or in another country. Just like I do so every single day. 

We will embrace the change of seasons… and we will make new, happy memories.

New season. Different season. But a parent’s love remains. 

Measure, measure your life in love… Seasons of love.

Neither ordinary nor mundane 🙂 

❤ ❤ ❤

“Seasons of Love” lyrics from the musical Rent; “Give Me the Strength… A Parent’s Prayer at Graduation” from mylifetree.com; Photos are all mine.

This story is about me, God… and Gary V.

Sometime in the late ’80s…

There we were, my friend and I, two teenage girls pulling an all-nighter. No, we were not finishing a paper or a project, or anything close to that…

We were doing what normal teenagers do on sleepovers — chat the whole night. We were listening to our favorite songs and we chatted. At times we giggled a lot… certain moments, we whispered to each other about our secrets, fears and dreams. 

It was a long night.  At some point, we decided to pretend that we were making a music video of a favorite Filipino song. The artist: this singer popularly known as Mr. Pure Energy, Gary Valenciano. The song: Di Bale Nalang.

Di Bale Nalang. Still the best dance song in my book up to today. Best dance song ever. (Insert Gary V. dance moves here…)

***

I was  am a huge Gary V. fan. The very first live concert that I watched was Gary V’s. I was in sixth grade then.

Hmm, now that I am thinking about it, I think I watched an Air Supply concert prior to that… but that doesn’t count because I never really liked them (I can belt out most of their mushy songs, though. But, duh!). So yeah, I will stick to my story — The first concert that I watched live was Gary V’s. And I have been a fan ever since. 

You know how teenagers can memorize the lyrics of the songs they liked? Well, I was once a teenager, too… And I practically memorized most, if not, all of Gary V’s songs then. Yes, even the ones which were not that popular, both fast and slow. 

I can proudly say that I still remember most of them up to now… Insert Gary V. moves here again... 🙂  

***

Was there ever a time in your life when everything seems to be going right, yet you know that there is still something missing? Or how about that time when nothing is going right and you don’t know where to look for that one thing that can or will sustain you? 

The year was 2006. On the outside I seemed to have everything I needed in life. I had a family, I was raising a wonderfully gifted child, and we were living comfortably. Things seemed perfect. But they were not.

I was not happy. There were times when I felt dead inside. My relationship with my husband was in shambles. I was exhausted. I felt I deserved more from life. I didn’t know if I wanted to be where I was.

I had everything and I had nothing.

One evening over dinner, my husband told me that his friend, an old schoolmate, invited us to his Church. I remember my husband saying, Let’s try something new… It won’t hurt. 

I just shrugged and said okay. Whatever.

His friend’s name? Gary Valenciano.

***

That following Sunday, we attended Church service at New Life Christian Center for the first time. 

And there he was — Gary V., in the flesh. So while everybody was singing, worshiping, I was there watching him.

gary v

One Big Fan

I think a Gary V. album was playing in my head the whole time. I didn’t know any of the worship songs, anyway. 

Besides, I also didn’t really know what I was doing in that Church — or what was expected of me.  I was happy enough to see my idol.

I was fangirling quietly.

After service, my husband introduced me to Gary. We talked a bit. Actually, he talked more because I was so starstruck that I couldn’t think of anything smart to say. I just mostly smiled.  

I was a totally different person the weekend after that. We went back to Church the Sunday after, and I came prepared. I told myself that if Gary was there and I’ll be introduced again, I will be friendlier. 

He was there again. And this conversation transpired right after service:

  • Gary: Hi! Good to see you guys again here in Church! (Or something like that)
  • Me: *while fanning my face with my hands*  Hi Gary! Oh gosh, I am a big fan!!!!
  • Gary : *Smiles and turns red*
  • Me: *still fanning my face* No, really. Bata palang ako, Gary Valenciano ka na!!! (You were already Gary Valenciano even when I was still very young). I know the lyrics of ALL your songs!
  • Gary: *still blushing, and probably thinking, How old are you, anyway??* But now you’re not a fan anymore, we’re now friends!
  • Me: No, I’m still a fan!! I will always be a fan!!!
  • Husband: *practically pushed me away before I embarrassed myself — and Gary– more* Bye Gary! See you next week. (Or something like that. I really don’t remember because I was still reeling from excitement.)

My husband apparently never took me seriously when I mentioned before that I was a big fan. He only realized it that day.

But God knew. And God also knew how He can get my attention. 

***

We have been going to the same Church — from that Sunday up to today, for almost eleven (11) years now. 

We rarely saw Gary V. after that because he is, after all, a celebrity and a busy guy. But we met a lot of people and made new friends. We grew spiritually as a family. The Church became our second home — the Church people, our second family. 

In that Church, I found what my spirit was searching for. I found the relationship that was lacking in my life. I found the God Who provides me with strength and sustenance during trying times. The same God who gives me peace and joy, whatever season in life I may be in.

We often mistakenly see God as this Almighty Being, Someone Who is way up there… Some Authority Who will judge or punish us for every wrongdoing. Someone unreachable.

But God is a Father. And like any father, He wants a relationship with us. He knows what we need and He wants to give us every good thing. Yet we have to heed His call. 

We have to want to know more of Him.

God knew how to get my attention… He used a Gary Valenciano.

Gary v NL

        Finally, a picture in Church!!           (taken just a couple of years ago)

God also made me realize that yes, He has been watching me all these years. He knew what makes me smile, what makes me listen and pay attention. 

God saw where I was and He called me to lead me somewhere better.

Gary V concert

See? Gary and I are friends now! 

I also believe that God has a sense of humor. 

❤ ❤ ❤

Where are you in life right now? Maybe you should allow God to surprise you, as well? 🙂 

***

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye.” – Psalms 32:8 

*****

photos are all mine 🙂

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.

16122166_10154382247573737_909312362_o.jpg

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 ♥

Being a Better Me

The last two weeks of December pretty much breezed by. 

There were endless get-togethers, last-minute shopping sprees and gift wrappings, family reunions with overabundance of food (with everything seemingly delectable, yummy but utterly sinful, and totally irresistible)… And we wonder how we gained those unwanted pounds. 😦

I can personally say, though, that aside from the full stomach, December left me with a full heart, too.  A heart full of love and joy.

Spending time with family and friends reminded me what true joy is about… what love is about. It is about having a certain sense of belonging and acceptance. It is about knowing that you are with people you love and who also love you back, regardless of who you are, what you have been through… People who are ready and willing to accept your flaws and quirks.  

It is about feeling at home and armed with the knowledge that there are people who value you, who will stand by you and protect you when need be. 

When you have joy and love in your heart, you are somewhat braver to face whatever tomorrow brings.  It gives you courage to conquer the new year and whatever surprises it has in store.

❤ ❤ ❤

I am a “New Year’s Resolutions” person. It has been a childhood practice of mine to list down the things I ‘promise’  I will do (or in some cases, not do) in the coming year.  

Yes, I normally start with : Lose five pounds… And truth be told, I don’t think I ever lost those five pounds.  Maybe sometimes I do, but I most likely gain them back when December comes… plus a couple more. 😦 

When no one else knows about your resolutions, chances are you will end up ignoring them or forgetting them altogether. It is never easy to lose those five pounds, you know. It IS easier to forget that you even thought of wanting to lose weight.

And so, to challenge myself this year, let me share with you my 2017 resolutions. 

If you are a friend and you see that I am getting off track, feel free to tap me on the shoulder — or send me a text message– and let me know. I will try not to feel bad nor get offended (…nor punch you on the face). Promise. 🙂 

Here goes — in no particular order of importance…

My 2017 ‘Be a Better Me’ list:

I will…

  • lose at least five (5) pounds. Yes, this still tops the list.
  • eat healthier.
  • walk more.
  • have regular spa treatments (facial, massage, etc.)
  • not scrimp on good moisturizers and body lotions.
  • wear more skirts and dresses.
  • be more positive; get rid of negativity and grudges.
  • leave hurtful events, people, memories behind.
  • do my best not to get easily offended by other people.
  • smile more; be friendlier.
  • learn how to take a compliment.
  • laugh at/make fun of myself more; learn how to loosen up.
  • be more patient with people, even the difficult ones — most especially, the difficult and overbearing ones. 
  • read my bible daily.
  • fill my head and my heart with worship and praise songs.
  • NOT listen to sad songs, especially when I am having an off day… they simply don’t help.
  • talk to my parents and spend time with them regularly.
  • make more time for my friends.
  • write more.
  • start writing my next book.
  • NOT be embarrassed to share my work, my talent and my thoughts.
  • still take selfies as much as I can, and enjoy every minute of it!
  • take photos to document my day.
  • make more picture books / photo albums.
  • read more books — one book a month, at the very least.
  • learn — really learn —  a new language.
  • travel to a country I have never been to.
  • always be grateful for the blessings, whether big or small.

Phew, that was quite a lot. I can still think of others, but this should do for now…

I know I will have hits and misses along the way… But aren’t we so blessed to have the chance to start on a clean slate? We have twelve new months ahead of us. 

Twelve months that we can spend trying to be a better version of what we already are. 

Twelve months of keeping the joy in our hearts… in our lives.

Because I said I’ll take more selfies (I guess I have this one covered)…

selfie-9

And because I also said I will laugh at/make fun of myself more… 🙂 

Happy new year, everyone! Here’s to an exciting year.

********

photos are all mine, obviously… 😉