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… 

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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. ❤ 

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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

 

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!!

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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 ❤ 

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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 🙂

My Instagrammable Life

I just finished reading Sophie Kinsella’s latest book, “My Not so Perfect Life.”

I have always liked reading Ms. Kinsella’s works (e.g. Undomestic Goddess, Can You Keep a Secret, The Shopaholic Series, to name a few) because the stories are light, funny, and the characters are pretty relatable. Her main characters could very well remind you of your best friend, your sister, or in most cases, yourself. A lot of times I catch myself thinking, “She’s just like me…” or “I could be her.”

My Not so Perfect Life (according to the blurb) is Part-Love Story, Part-Work Drama. One thing I found interesting, though, was how Katie, the female protagonist, portrayed her life on Instagram (living in an exciting city, doing cool stuff with marvelous friends), versus her reality — job issues, financial struggles, simple life, really small apartment.

It got me thinking… Haven’t we all, at some point in our social media obsessed lives, projected an alternate version of our reality?

(I will not spoil the book any further for the sake of my chick lit-loving friends, but it is a good and entertaining read. You won’t be sorry if you grab a copy.)

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Ahh, Instagram.

On any given day, we see something nice… or we go somewhere nice… or we think we look nice… And so we decide to take a photo — click, and then post. Then we add cute, interesting captions. We explain further by adding a number of #hashtags.

Then we wait for a hundred hearts (signifying that our follower friends liked the photo). Sometimes we feel bad when only a few people would “heart” the photo. Of course it hurts when you are not validated. (Personally, I am easy to please. I am happy with 10 likes. Anything beyond that to me is already a blessing — or a miracle.)

When you think about it, how much of our real lives is posted on Instagram? Or maybe the bettter question is… What stories do our IG accounts tell?

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Out of curiosity, I checked MY Instagram account.

If a total stranger will make a story about me based on my IG photos, what will he come up with…

From the 12 latest photos I posted, one will see: My latest selfie (with me all dolled up)… My bruised knees… Dining with my BFF… More selfies… A promo of my book… A collage of old photos with my son… A throwback photo with friends circa ’90s… And still more selfies…

image

Basically from my IG, one will gather that 1) I have a book, 2) I have a son, 3) I was much thinner in the ’90s, and yeah 4) I am a selfie master — and I love myself so much.

My Instagram account pretty much depicts how self-absorbed I am. Yep, narcissism at its finest.

That’s my Instagrammable life. #ialwayswakeuplookinglikethis.

Alternate version or reality? 😉

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When we share photos on Instagram, we allow other people to take a glimpse of our lives.

It is easy to create a perfect, always exciting version of your life. Just carefully pick the photos you will post — Choose the ones that will tell the version you want your followers to see.

I bet our Instagram stories are all exciting.

Don’t be fooled, though. Things are not always as good as they are depicted on IG. That is why it is not wise to judge — nor envy– someone, based on what you see on Instagram.

I also believe that every photo has a backstory… And often times, it’s the backstory that is truly more interesting… and real.

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Example of Perception vs Reality / Alternate Version vs Backstory

latest selfie

image

#selfietime #chilling #memyselfandi

Perception created: She’s so chill… She’s so vain… She’s always made up…

Backstory (Reality): Photo was taken after four (4) hours of sitting through the College graduation rites of our helper. FOUR HOURS. But it was a momentous occasion, a celebration of someone’s educational achievement. I had to keep a smile on my face, even after four hours…

Plus I looked good that day. So, I just had to take a photo…

So, yes, maybe I am quite self-absorbed. Quite. 😉

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What is your Instagram story???

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photos are mine 😊

Sadly, I’m no Wonder Woman…

It was a cool, Maundy Thursday evening. My mom, dad, husband, my mother-in-law, and I decided to stay and chat outside to enjoy the night breeze.

We were on the street, actually. My mom, dad and I were leaning against the front of our car which was parked right outside the gate of the house. The hubby and his mom were standing several meters away, at the corner of the street, nearer the main road.

We live in a gated village and I can say that the place is relatively safe.  On any given night you will see residents walking their dogs, or maybe they are jogging or brisk walking. People who know each other wave and exchange pleasantries.

That Thursday night, we saw a good friend of my mom’s walking with his daughter. They said hello as they passed by. And then we saw two ladies walking their dog. We all smiled at each other as they passed. 

It is a quiet, friendly community. 

And then the commotion.

We saw two teenagers running on the main road – some 20 meters away from where we were standing. We saw them run past the hubby and his mom.  Then we heard voices from where the teenaged boys came from, shouting what sounded like, “Stop them!” and “Snatchers!”

Then another group of men ran past, obviously running after the boys.

From the corner of the street where he was standing, the hubby saw the group catch up with one of the boys. Then he saw them punching and kicking the boy who, at this time, was already down on the ground.

It was at this point when the hubby decided to intervene. When I say intervene, I meant he decided to walk towards the group to, well basically, stop the fight – or keep the guys from killing the teenager with their blows.

So hubby went to the scene of the action. Followed by my dad. Then my mother-in-law!!!

My mom and I called out to the three of them, telling them NOT to get involved… But all three  pretty much ignored us.

Panicked, and thinking I should do something to help, I said out loud, “I’ll call the guards!”

So I turned towards the house in a rush, took a step…

…and tripped…

I took several more uncontrolled steps… then felt myself falling…

I knew I was going to fall hard. Not necessarily fast, but hard.

 

falling

Me.

 

Nah, that picture is too cute. I believe I looked more like this:

A woman falling down face first

Me. Take two.

Then I heard my mom screaming my name.

Several thoughts ran in my head as I was about to fall…

  • I need to find my footing. I can do this. Nope, I don’t think I can.
  • I shouldn’t have teased my sister about her knee injury!
  • I need to break the fall. I’ll try to land gently on my knees. Nope, didn’t work… I just heard my knees hit the ground with a loud thud.
  • I HAVE to protect my face!!! I can’t let it hit the ground…

And as I was sprawled face down on the ground…

  • Great, now my palms are all bruised, as well.
  • Oh gosh, the dogs are pulling at the shirt that I am holding!

Then I heard my mom call out my name again with a panicked, “What happened to you???!!”

She tried to help me up but I had to take a minute because I was still shaken up from the fall – and my whole body was pretty sore. Plus my knees were hurting so I couldn’t stand.

And then my mom and I started laughing at how silly I must have looked. I couldn’t cry, so we just laughed harder.

If I were playing baseball, it’s like diving into home…

dive into home, Pete Rose

Safe!!!

I would have scored a run, too.

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bruised knees

battered & bruised

My mom and I went back inside the house. I was able to call up the guardhouse – as originally planned.  Then she suggested that I put some ice on my knees after I washed them clean.

 

I guess it’s true that not all casualties are on the battlefield. Some are just there on the sidelines, minding their own business…

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In case you’d like to know how the commotion ended, well apparently, the boys were not snatchers or anything like that. It was an online relationship gone awry between the boy and the teenage daughter of the man running after him.

Shades of Romeo and Juliet.

We didn’t really find out the whole story since my hero hubby, his mom and my dad went back inside our house as soon as the guards arrived. Much to their amazement, I was the one with scrapes and bruises.

Unfortunately, in the street brawl between this Montague and Capulet, I was the collateral damage

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Update on my injuries: No need for x-ray nor immobilizer. I can walk, but it still hurts a little when I bend the knees or straighten the leg.

As of this writing, both knees are still black and blue, with small bruises and scrapes. Palms just have small scrapes.

Pride and dignity still bruised, as well. 

Wonder Woman would have saved the day… or at least come out of it unscathed. Oh well… 😦 

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photo credits: Cartoon images via Google clip arts and cartoons; Pete Rose dive to home plate via Google and Getty Images; photo of my bruised knees taken by my son for remembrance, he said. 😉 

Make up 101

Coming out of Church service last Saturday evening, I saw a lady friend, someone we knew from church, talking to one of the pastors. When they finished chatting, I approached her to say hello. After the usual pleasantries, I caught her staring at me with that bewildered expression on her face.

Then she said, “You know, you are always so put-together…” She continued to stare at me — at my face — and said again, “You look so put-together. Always. Every time I see you. Like, do you wake up like that?”

By put-together, I would like to think that she meant unfazed, unruffled, poised, gorgeous… I could go on… 😉

That was probably the sweetest, nicest compliment I have received this week… especially after my hair color change which, truth be told, kinda drove me nuts for a couple of days!

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It has been five days since I colored my hair — on a whim, if I may add.  

The first two days after were quite difficult, really. First of all,  I was so not used to the lighter shade that I had to take a double look whenever I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror (which was quite often, if you know me well enough). I felt like I was seeing a stranger. 

Secondly, since my hair now has a different shade of brown, I felt I had to adjust my make up as well. 

Haha, yes, I researched.  I looked at photos of celebrities with same hair color shade and tried to see what make up is suitable. 

ja-brown

For some reason, Jessica Alba’s photos kept popping up. Oh, if only my eyes are as brown… and my face as small… *Sigh* … and those lashes! *double sigh*

I am used to black eyeliners and I figured I needed to temper down my eye makeup a bit. So the day after my salon date, I went to the department store to get new eyeliners.

Valuable lesson learned that day: Never… and I mean, NEVER, scrimp on eye make up. Or any make up for that matter. 

Because I did. I normally don’t, but that day, I did. 

I bought a local brand that I never tried before… Because it was cheap. I even bought two eye pencils. Thought to myself, “It’s just an eyeliner and I can even use it for the brows.” How bad can it be?

So the moment I got home, I began experimenting with the liners and whatever eye make up I had. The goal was to look as good as Jessica Alba. Such lofty goals.

Come evening, the sides of my eyes started to itch. I saw a couple of rashes that looked like small insect bites. I removed all the make up that I had on ’til my face was squeaky clean. I told myself I will just let my face — my eyes — rest. 

Right before I slept, my eyes were already watery and my eye bags itched so bad.

When I woke up the following morning, my eye bags had baby bags

Just in case I did not make it clear the first time, NEVER scrimp on anything you put on your face. It just might cost you.

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Good thing my ordeal did not last the whole day (thanks to antihistamine). Come afternoon, I found myself at my favorite make up store Etude House… my old-reliable. 

I ended up buying an eyeliner, something for the eye brows… and another lipstick. Proved to be more costly, indeed.

make-up-5

Just a few of my favorite things from Etude House.

So if there is anything valuable you will take away from this post, let it be this: You pay for quality. Especially in beauty products. 

Make up can be expensive and I also like to look for good bargains. Who doesn’t? But test the product first. Make sure it is hypoallergenic. If you are unsure or if you have even the slightest doubt, then don’t get it. 

Good things hardly ever come cheap.

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PS… Going back to my church-friend’s statement…

No, I don’t wake up looking like Jessica Alba.

I have a daily beauty regimen. I look put-together because I take time to do so. I put effort. I don’t look hideous without make up, but I use it to enhance what’s already there. 

I know it’s pretty shallow having your confidence or self-esteem hinged on your looks… But I feel good when I look good. And who doesn’t like feeling good?

My face, my canvas. 🙂

made-up

Favorite golden brown haired selfie so far… 😉

photo credits : Jessica Alba’s photo via google images; Etude House loot and BGO selfie from my O+