Slow down, take time, breathe in…

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This book just turned 1!! 

Over the weekend we were at this popular bookstore near our place to look for my son’s assigned books/textbooks for college. I knew that the said bookstore carries my book (uhm, my published novella) —   I personally delivered their copies sometime in January of this year. Out of curiosity, I tried to check where my book was displayed and yes, I wanted to know how many copies were left on the rack.

I walked around the store but couldn’t find one copy, so I went and asked Customer Service. So the staff checked their computer, then asked me to follow her… and led me to a pushcart, not so far from the counter. When I asked where they were supposed to move or display the books, I was told, “Oh, these are for pull out.”

Okay, so my eyes opened wide, my jaw dropped (and yeah, my heart pretty much broke). Casually I asked the salesgirl, Who ordered the books to be pulled out – and why? Basically she couldn’t answer. She looked at the other clerks who at that time were all listening in and staring at us. Nobody could offer an explanation. They just said the books are to be returned to the supplier. When I told them I am the supplier and I was not told about the pullout, they just all gave me a blank stare.

Calmly I told the salesgirl that I will just get in touch with Purchasing department. Hopefully they have the answers. I turned to leave before I ended up saying something mean – or throw a fit, or have a meltdown.

A LOT of things ran in my mind… Only a few people bought my book… Maybe it was too expensive?… My fault for not really marketing it…  Maybe I suck as a writer?!… Why do I even write when no one reads me anyway?! … What a loser… And so on, and so forth.

On my way out of the bookstore, I told my son, “Now I feel bad.”

At that time, I pretty much allowed eight unsold books to define me… and to ruin my evening.

Don’t we all experience those days?

Nothing seems to be going your way… Expectations are not met… Prayers are left unanswered… People disappoint… You feel lost… You don’t know your purpose… People do or say things that mess up your psyche… Circumstances strip you of your confidence, make you question your worth… People are hurtful and insensitive… We don’t know the answer to our many why’s.

The world can be cruel. It can weigh you down.

That is if you will allow it to.

For the past several weekends, our Worship Team in Church had been singing the song “Take Courage” by Bethel Music.  Over and over.

It’s about taking courage, holding steadfast, holding on to hope. It’s about waiting and watching for your triumph to unfold.

I kept hearing the song in Church. Over and over.

It was when I started having those days — Those seemingly bad days… Those I feel like such a loser kind of days… It was then that I realized that the song was being played for me. Over and over.

My God’s reminder that something good is about to come. Just wait.

When I got home from the bookstore that evening, I found a message waiting in my social media account. From halfway around the world, someone was telling me how excited she was that she finally got hold of a copy of my book. I believe God sent this angel to cheer me up. I hope she knows she was my angel that evening.

And to further make me feel better, a few minutes later, I received another message from another time zone — from someone I hardly talked to — telling me how much my blogs inspire her and that she enjoyed reading them. Totally unexpected.

Right when my self confidence was starting to spiral down, it was like I was reminded to just chill.

It happens. We get tired and weary. The world can be mean. 

But as the song goes, Slow down, take time, breathe in… He’d reveal what’s to come.  

In the meantime, God sends angels to comfort us, remind us that everything will be well.

Sharing with you the link to the song ‘Take Courage’… Because someone might be needing it right now.

 

That Yellow Lab Named Bunso

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King of the Outdoors

Our 7 year old pet labrador’s death last week did not come as a shock. He had been ill for a couple of months already. We have gone to the vet quite a number of times and three times we had to leave him there so they can observe and monitor his condition closely. 

It started with hind leg paralysis caused by blood parasites. Then he had kidney issues. Both the blood parasites and kidney issues were resolved, but not the paralysis. Every time he tried to move or walk, he had to drag his right hind leg. Eventually he got tired of trying. He seemed to have lost the will to move, even to stand. His pressure points began having sores and wounds which we had to clean and dress twice a day, every single day. 

Maybe in his mind our dog was thinking labradors were born to run wild and free… that it goes against their nature to stay still and be immobilized by paralysis, sores and wounds. 

In our minds, once his wounds are thoroughly healed, we can send him to a dog therapist so his hind leg can regain movement. Because that was the plan. We would solve the blood and the wound issues first and then we can explore the leg therapy option so he can walk again.

But how do you explain that to a dog? Does he truly understand what you are saying whenever you give him the reassurance that everything will be okay? When he looks into your eyes with that loving, doggie look of his, is he saying, yes he understands what’s happening — or is he merely trying to tell you that he is in pain?

Or is he just trying to tell you how thankful he is for the love and care that you are showing him?

Eventually the vet discovered other complications. Supplements and pain medications can only manage whatever pain he may have. The meds may make him a bit more comfortable, but they won’t cure him. We knew that sooner or later he would go. We prayed it would be later — much, much later. 

Our dog never regained the energy that he had prior to his illness…Yet he had a way of showing us that he was happy and content enough just having us around him. 

I guess we will never know how much physical pain he was feeling all throughout. He would cry, he would whimper, he would bark and call our attention, but the moment someone is with him, he keeps quiet. Like he just wanted company.

Much like all those times he kept us company when we were alone outside. No frills, no expectations, just silent companionship, selflessness and yes, unconditional love.

Our dog’s death did not come as a shock… but that doesn’t make it any less painful for us. Our hearts are broken just the same.

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How do you say goodbye? 

I realized recently that I wrote about him years back, when he was still a puppy. The article came out in Action and Fitness Magazine.

I was a newbie dog owner then. I didn’t know anything about dogs, I never had pets before because — well, I guess I was afraid of the responsibility and the attachment. 

Thought of sharing with you said write up…

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He was a puppy once… 

A Girl’s Best Friend  

By: Betsy G. Ochosa

They say that a dog is a man’s best friend.  They are very loyal and they will love you unconditionally (yes, i am still talking about the dog). 

I, for one, never experienced such friendship with an animal because i never — ever — had a pet when i was growing up.  Oh, okay, so maybe i had a fish. But what relationship can you have with a fish, right? (especially when their life expectancy isn’t exactly that long)

The other day, we bought my son a labrador puppy.  We promised to get him one for his birthday and we searched far and wide to get the “right” one.  We were directed to someone who really knows about dogs and breeds champions.  After visiting her house and seeing her litter of 8, we ended up choosing the youngest of the bunch.  Youngest, and definitely biggest, of them all.  Welcome to our world, Mr. big, yellow, labrador puppy… We called him “Bunso” for being the youngest.

Yesterday, Bunso’s second day here, he was just content playing inside his crate… or sleeping mostly.  He almost never made a sound. He only barked when he needed to go (out of his crate to do his thing… he IS well trained for a two-month old).  Come early evening, my husband got a little worried that he was lethargic.  He seemed too laid back for a labrador! (Though that really isn’t an issue with me because I like being stress-free and laid back…But the hubby is type A, and he knows more about dogs…)

10:00pm… just about the time we were preparing to sleep… Bunso suddenly realized he had too much stored energy… and decided to bark… and howl… and wake the whole household up.  Maybe he’s from another time zone.  He was just so awake!  And worse, he wanted to play.  He eventually calmed down after an hour of playtime.

… and stayed calm until 4:30 in the morning… and then he barked… and howled… and growled… and gave this guttural cry that seemed to sound like he was begging for someone to wake up and play with him again – or at the very least, mind him.  Of course he had his way… we couldn’t risk having the neighbors reporting us to village administration for disturbing the peace at 4am.

It is almost 12 noon as I am writing this and Bunso, so far, has been pretty calm.  I have to thank my helper, of course, for simply being there because I know that I won’t be able to handle this guy alone.  I can only play with him while he’s inside the crate… or when someone else is holding him… and when i’m wearing jeans… I’m still a newbie puppy owner and I haven’t insured my legs yet so i won’t even attempt to pretend i know how to handle a playful giant of a puppy like this one.

But i know he already knows me.  He goes to the side of his crate and lies down so i can rub his fur, and he’ll just calmly stare at me… like he’s memorizing my face– and my voice –or maybe finding out a way grab my long hair.  It’s like he knows that he is stuck with me for the most part of his everyday – so he might as well know the face that goes with the hand that would feed him.  When i stood up to take a walk, he stood up as well, and started howling the moment i was out of his vision. 

It is a challenge taking care of another living creature.  But I believe the rewards are great.  Hopefully Bunso will be as loyal to me as he will be to the rest of the family. I pray that he grows up – grows old — with us, and will love us unconditionally.  Hopefully, my legs will never get bitten nor scratched… And that we get to share many wonderful years and memories with him. 

In time I will get to say that a dog can be a woman’s best friend, too. 

Bunso was with us for 7 years. He was our welcoming committee… always the most excited every time one of us comes home. He was too friendly to the mail and delivery men that we couldn’t call him a ‘guard dog.’  Several times we would catch neighborhood kids scratching his back, petting him, as he positions himself by the gate. He was happy enough just resting his heavy head on my feet whenever I was outside. I helped take care of him, I got attached, but I didn’t mind. Because of him I experienced the joys that come with having a pet.

Yes, he showed us unconditional love. 

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Goodnight My Sweetie 

Hopefully we were able to give him seven good years.

 

*****

Bunso, April 21,2010 – June 23, 2017.

Photos are all ours. Article “A Girl’s Best Friend,” first published in Action and Fitness Magazine, 2010.

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.

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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.  

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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 🙂

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.

Happy place

The other weekend, my unico was fortunate enough to have been  invited to another College Weekend experience. Whereas last time he went to a University in Abu Dhabi, this time, he flew to Singapore.

It was an activity-filled weekend for him in another country. By himself, without nagging parents. What an adventure.

Unlike the first College Weekend that he had a month ago, this time I was not as anxious seeing him off. Perhaps it’s because Singapore is just four hours away, and he’ll be gone for just three days, anyway.

We dropped him off at the airport early Friday morning…

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Saying goodbye…

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Needless to say, I am already preparing myself mentally and emotionally for the time  when my son will leave for college for good.

It is inevitable. We have known this will happen… that he will study in another country. This has always been our plan for him, and his dream for himself. And given the opportunities that he has been blessed with, we know that this is also God’s great plan, as well.

But I guess no matter how much you prepare yourself, there will always be a feeling of loneliness that looms over, knowing that your child will be far away from you. As excited as I am with what the future holds for him, I still cannot help but be anxious, as well. Classic case of sepanx (separation anxiety).

The house was awfully quiet that weekend that he was away. Worse, I barely heard from him the whole time he was in Singapore!

At first I thought that maybe something was wrong with my phone’s signal, or with our internet connection at home. Eventually I realized — and got to accept– that he was busy. It was an eventful weekend… And he was having fun.

I also realized that it would have been more difficult for me if he kept texting and telling me that he was homesick, or that he was unhappy. I would rather that he was busy and enjoying… Even without us.

Letting go is not as hard when you know your child is excited, not unhappy, and is unafraid.

***

Alas, Sunday evening came.  We were back at the airport, this time to pick him up.

It was a rainy late Sunday evening, but the airport was still buzzing with activity. A lot of families were picking up their loved ones.

As our car was lined up in traffic along the Arrival area driveway, a thought came to me…

To people or families with loved ones abroad, THIS IS the happiest place on earth.

Because truly, nothing beats the joy and happiness one feels when you see your loved one coming out of that Arrival area.

Being reunited with someone you love = priceless. ❤️

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Okay, so he probably doesn’t look so happy… Let’s blame the hour and a half flight delay. It’s one thirty in the morning, so I’m cutting him some slack. 😉

❤️❤️❤️

Photos are all mine 😊