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 🙂

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 🙂 

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“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.

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 😊

Girl friends make the world go round

It was one fine Monday evening. My best friend and I were at Cafe Mary Grace having early dinner, sipping our Sangrias, and chatting to our hearts’ extent.

april 3

April 3, 2017

We were exchanging stories – catching up on the things we haven’t talked about and rehashing the ones we already have.

We recalled being at the same restaurant some 6 months back, talking about going on a trip to Europe together. We talked then about London, Paris and Dublin. When we felt the idea was quite far-fetched, we settled with just going on a shopping spree somewhere in Asia – like Hongkong or Singapore.

october.jpg

Dreamin’ of Dublin… October 2016

That was six months ago. It’s now early April and the farthest we have been to together this year so far is, well, this mall.  We laughed at the realization.

We laughed and giggled a lot over dinner. It was a light evening spent with a friend.

Everything was all good.

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I have recently been invited to join this discussion group for women on Facebook. It was a closed group and the members were strictly women only. The group was set-up to serve as an avenue where women can discuss motherhood and womenhood.   Members of the group can ask parenting questions on child rearing, kids’ education, health matters, you name it. Members may also advertise their businesses, ask for contacts or referrals.  

Women helping other women. Mothers reaching out to other mothers.

I joined the group mainly for the network. I felt it was a good place to get information on things I may need or stuff I am looking for. 

A member may also opt to post anonymously, meaning the group admin will be the one to upload the question or inquiry to hide the identity of the person involved.  Most of these Anonymous Posts pertain to Family Relationships, Issues or Problems.

I don’t always read the posts, especially the long ones, but there was this one post last week that somewhat struck me.  It was a desperate cry for help.

This female – a wife and a mother – was asking the group if she can be referred to a center which can help her fight her depression. She said she has been feeling very low for quite some time now and that no one, not even her husband nor her “friends” seem to understand nor take her seriously.

For her to reach out to a group of strangers, I could only surmise how lost and alone she must be feeling. I truly felt sorry for her.

And then I remembered my girl friends, and I can’t help but be thankful that I have them.

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No one should go through life alone. 

I believe that friendship is a product of shared time, experiences, trust and love. I also believe that not everybody can be your friend… But you know that they are real friends when they stick by you through thick or thin. They love you, they are loyal, and you are confident that they will have your back at all times.  

mean girlstime zone

I may not have a gazillion friends, but I know who I can share my laughter and heartaches with… who will listen as I rant about petty stuff and who will rant along with me…

I know who shares my “self-righteousness” and who won’t judge me when I judge others… I have friends I can dream of going to South of France with – the same ones who will don a Japanese schoolgirl outfit with me on a dare…

I know whom I can bare my heart and soul to… the ones who believe in me even more than I believe in myself – the same ones who will keep pushing me to go after a dream.

And these are the same people I know I will stick my neck out for when the need arises.

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If you are feeling lost and alone, reach out to a friend. It may be your sister, your mom, or, okay, even your spouse. A friend may be someone you have known all your life, like an old schoolmate or a cousin, or maybe someone you met in Church.

I believe we don’t need a hundred friends. A handful of loyal ones will do.

They are the ones who share your joy when good things happen. They are also the ones who will be with you, who will listen, hold your hand, and pray with you at your time of need.  

Because life is not always easy… and NO ONE should go through life alone.

33.jpg

Laughing about anything and everything ❤

And good times get better when shared with people you love.

Proverbs 17:17 “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”

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. 

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

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

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photos are all mine 🙂