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… 😉 

The many firsts

For the past several days, I have been busy helping my son with his College Apps (College Application) requirements. As I sort documents and fill out forms, I couldn’t help but realize that… this is really happening — my unico hijo is off to college next year! 

Where has the time gone?? 

I can still remember bringing him to Nursery school and waiting for him outside the classroom for two hours every school day, for the first two months.  I couldn’t leave because he might look for me and cry if he finds out I wasn’t there.

Well, he never looked for me — and he never cried inside the classroom. He has always liked going to school. 🙂

That was Nursery school.  Now, we are talking College. I wonder if he will let me wait for him at the campus on his first day in College…

Okay, so I am beginning to get sentimental. I guess it happens to every parent — especially mothers. We look at our children and we see them as our babies. Whether they are 7 years old or 17, they are and will always be our babies. We simply cannot let go.

Oh, we will let go, eventually. Because we have to. But then that doesn’t keep us from being as protective… and maternal.

I have talked to several mommy friends whose children are also going to college next year, and they share the same sentiments. Some are already looking for the closest place to hang out while their children are in school (yes, we are moving our coffee and brunch meet up venues near their children’s universities!). I have a friend who can’t help but bawl whenever she sees a baby picture of her kid. 

Sometimes it’s not always fun being a mom. Sometimes we just feel too much…

***

One of the perks of being a full-time, hands-on mom is that you get to witness your child’s many firsts. And if you are lucky — and prepared — you get to document them, too… Or you take pictures.  Lots and lots of them. Pictures to be shared in your blog when your child is much older (and will probably think of killing you for embarrassing him or her)

I dug up my son’s albums and got a few favorites… Photos of some of his many firsts. His firsts according to my mommy eyes.  

This is me getting sentimental… Indulge me.

First Day of School

The first one was his first day in a small school (Nursery) and the second one was his first day at a big school (Junior Prep).

First Field Trip

I remember being sick on that day. I had really bad colds and cough — but I had to accompany him. We were under the sun for the most part of the day. I felt like dying!

But seeing the excitement and big smile on my child’s face was more than enough to keep me alive — at least for the next eight hours.

Incidentally, that was also his first time to ride a big bus, so, double the excitement! 

First Trip Out of the Country

To Paris, with love… We just love Paris!

provence-002

Carpentras

This was taken before my sister’s wedding somewhere South of France.  

First Costumes

Back when he was too young to complain about wearing a bee costume. Take note, he wasn’t Winnie the Pooh… he was a cute bee. 🙂 

filipiniana-001

But of course…

First Filipiniana Costume… Katipunero or Farmer? We were never sure which.

filipiniana-002

Dr. Jose Rizal

In Jr Prep, he was supposed to come as our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal. But on the day of the event, he had sore eyes… Yet that didn’t stop us from dressing up — and taking photos!  (How do you like the mustache?!)

He was supposed to be a pizza for Nutrition Month. But during the parade, they put the box with the back facing front, so he ended up looking like a pizza delivery guy.  The cutest pizza guy ever! (Mommy made that pizza costume!)

Hawaiian costume — which he also wore for his Jr Prep Recognition; Cheong sam for United Nations Day (good for sleeping, too!).

Our favorite costume, good old Capt. Hook! Won quite a number of prizes.

And yes, I had to dress up one Halloween. Capt. Hook needed an evil muse.

First Friends

friends-001

Stephanie and Emily

His first friends were two French girls. 

One taught him how to ride the bike, the other helped plan his 3rd birthday party. They all cried when the girls’ family had to move to Belgium. 😦

friends-002

The Justice League

 His posse. ‘Nuf said. 

First Sports

First time at the fairway and first golf tournament

baseball

Baseball beginnings

First baseball game.

He didn’t have baseball uniform yet. He looked like an extra. He was the 10th player on the field. 

Best Wanderer ever. 🙂 

First Studio Pictorial

It wasn’t his photo shoot… it was mine.  But he was just too cute to say no to.

***

I still have lots of other photos. I have his firsts, seconds and thirds. But this should do for now.

Maybe the next picture should be of his first day in college… With me still lurking in the background. Totally uncool. 😉 

If only they can be young forever. *Sigh*

***

PS… Note to fellow parents:

Take photos of your kids while they are young. Take lots. Even if they whine and complain. They are only young once and they do grow up so very fast.

Capture moments. You will be thankful some day that you did. 

*****

photos are all mine!!

A day in the life…

 

14610996_10154124421708737_6114771645764497218_n

Selfie ready. Always

It normally takes me an hour to get ready when I have to go somewhere — be it running errands, going to school affairs, meeting friends for coffee, or simply going to the mall for some Me time.

I have an intensive beauty regimen. If I don’t get to put on moisturizer and lotion, apply make up (i.e, eyeliner, lipstick, concealer), powder my nose, and spray on perfume, I would feel totally incomplete.  I go through that every single day… even when I have to stay home. 

It takes me an hour or so to finish in front of the mirror. I always make sure I put my best face forward.

Yesterday was an exception, though… It was one of those off days.

I was supposed to accompany my dad to his doctor’s appointment. I also had to get some documents needed for my son’s college applications from several banks. I had quite a lot of things on my mind and was quite distracted. 

Not knowing what time exactly my dad needed me, I decided to do my bank transactions first, hoping that it wouldn’t take forever for me to finish. I was in such a hurry that I was only able to take a quick peek at the mirror, put eyeliner, reapply lipstick and dab a bit of powder on my face. I rode the car with disheveled hair and all. I prayed nobody I knew would see me. 

***

As expected, it took me a while to finish my transaction at the first bank that I went to. By that time, my dad has already texted three times — to ask where I was, to tell me the schedule and to ask again where I was. I was starting to feel stressed, I felt my straight hair starting to curl.

I told myself it shouldn’t be as bad in the second bank since I was simply going to pick up some documents.

The bank officer in the second bank was very accommodating. He looked for and handed me right away the documents I needed. Just as I was about to leave, though, he asked for an ID that they can photocopy and attach to the transmittal memo that went with the documents. I obliged.

As he was returning the ID, he read my birth year aloud. “19–.” He looked at me, then he looked at the ID  again and muttered, “You don’t look your age.

I smiled shyly and muttered, “I look older?” He replied, “Younger. Definitely younger. Wow.” 

I got my ID back, smiled a big smile, said thank you, and walked away. Felt like a Supermodel walking out of the bank.

The compliment made my afternoon… or at least a portion of it.

Yes, I’m shallow like that. 🙂

***

Going on a trip to my dad’s doctors is not something that I look forward to.  

In the last five years, my dad has had two surgeries, colon and then lung lobectomy, a series of chemotherapy sessions, and a knee fracture caused by an accident.  It was not an easy journey. Not for him and not for the family.  We have spent days going back and forth to the hospital. He has had a battery of tests.

But he is a fighter. He looked cancer in the eye and pretty much told the disease to take a hike. He has been cleared for almost three years now, though we still make regular visits to his doctors (all 5 or so of them) for monitoring.

He recently had his scheduled physical check up — CT scan, ultrasound, cardio test, and the works.  All tests he passed with flying colors.  I even kidded him the other day about his blood test results being more normal than mine.  

He is by all indication healthy and his vitals normal.

And then he started complaining about pain in the lower abs that radiates to the hips up to his back after sitting for a long time. No real reason for worry, we say. I keep telling him it’s just muscle pains and maybe nerves… maybe even rheumatism. 

As expected, his doctor said the same thing about his pain in the lower abs — it’s just muscle pains. But to address the back pains, the doctor ordered an MRI of the lumbar area. The pain, he said, can also be just muscle pains, or it could be a form of osteoporosis. Though because of my dad’s cancer history, they had to do an MRI. My mom and I exchanged looks. Here we go again…

From the moment we went out of the doctor’s clinic and all throughout the ride home, I have been praying silently that everything’s just muscle pains. 

When I don’t know the answer to my questions… When fear is beginning to creep in and I am starting to feel the anxiety building up… When I know that I cannot show how scared I am because I have to be strong for other people… Truly, prayer is my only refuge. 

***

After the doctor’s consult, we decided to go to a cafe and have snacks. We asked my sister to join so we can fill her in. 

So over three kinds of pasta (hospital news made us hungry), we talked about what lies ahead. It was just the four of us — My dad, mom, my sister and I. The original bunch. We provide each other with strength.

We assured each other that there’s nothing to worry about. That the pain may be just because of the usual wear and tear of the body. My sister even suggested that my dad does yoga. I told him to go to an orthopedic doctor and ask for therapy.

And so we wait for Monday’s MRI session and Thursday’s doctor’s verdict. As we wait, we pray. We pray for courage and strength. We pray for inner peace.

Funny how earlier in the day my main concern was just about looking good. Yes, I can be shallow like that 🙂 

*****

Photos are mine. Hover over the photos to see the caption. ❤

 

Me, Myself and I

selfie

sheer talent

Everyone who knows me — and I mean, who TRULY knows me — would also know what a selfie-freak I am.  Oh yes, I have that Kim Kardashian blood running through my veins.  I have so mastered the the art of taking selfies that most of my photos look like they were taken by someone else.  I’m that good! (Or maybe, I also just have long arms…)

I love making photo books, too.  I have already made several photo books of our family trips and vacations… birthday parties — of my son and my nephews… just recently I made a photo book of my sister’s family’s vacation.  The whole process of picking what pictures to put and decorating the album with various frames and art work, plus choosing the background color or theme of each page, all these somehow destress me.  And it’s nice to look at the finished product.  

It is always nice to look at pictures that capture special moments in time.

Sometime late last year, I was able to purchase a voucher for a 40-paged 6×6 photo book at such a low price. Believe me, the amount was insanely low that I couldn’t pass up the chance of getting one. Recently, though, I was notified that said voucher was expiring. Oh no!!  I didn’t want it to go to waste… But I didn’t have any project in line, as well.

And then the bright idea… Since I have already made gazillion photo books for the family, I thought to myself, why not make one for, uhm, myself, this time?  Besides, I had loads of selfies to choose from — saved in whatever gadget I have (two cellphones and an iPad, to be more precise… plus the desktop files…). This should be interesting.

let me take a selfie

say “selfie!”

So I gifted myself with a photo book of MY selfies. A 40-paged album filled with photos of no one but myself.  Photos I took of myself at different places, different times of the day, from the past 5 or so years to the present.  All solo shots. All me.

Me, myself and I.    It was narcissism at the highest level. 

I had a blast making it… Though I don’t know if I can say the same about the guy who had to print the album. My face probably haunted him in his dreams afterwards. 😉

***

I have always been vain.  My childhood and high school friends can attest to that. I always make sure that I look my best every time, everywhere. My pocket mirror, hair brush and lipstick are — and will always be — my bestest friends.  I can stare at myself in the mirror for half an hour and not get tired. I guess it just follows that for me, taking selfies is not just a skill, it’s a talent.

But truth be told, these narcissistic tendencies of mine don’t stem from having that feeling of being superior. It’s also not because I admire myself so much. On the contrary, most of the time, I have self esteem issues.  I lack the confidence. There’s this fear of being not good enough and of being judged by other people.

When I was much younger, my belief was if I don’t look good, then there is nothing about me that people will like.  People will think I am not good enough.  My self-image was hinged on my looks. My self confidence was dependent on my physical appearance. Thus, I took pains in making sure that I always looked my best.

In time I realized that true beauty emanates from inside. Inner peace, love and joy can give one the natural glow that no make up brand, no matter how expensive, can match. 

I still struggle, every now and then. Whenever I gain a few pounds… or I see a wrinkle here and there, or a line under my eyes… or I feel my cheeks starting to sag… I do feel bad.  It still gets to me. 

I am still vain. I still enjoy staring at myself in the mirror — and yes, taking selfies. Taking selfies is my way of capturing and preserving my moments. It is my way of celebrating myself.

Yet I have learned to accept that though I am not the best, I know that I am beautiful. I am beautiful because I am a child of God… His grace sustains me.

Besides, I also rest in the knowledge that people who truly love me will love and accept me, wrinkles and all.

***

We were all young once…

Two year old Me.

Betsy 001

pure, wide-eyed and innocent

“I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;” – Psalms 139:14

 *****

photo credits : via google images; black & white pic of the cute little girl was from my mom. 

First of June

And just like that, it’s the first of June.  Five months have already passed… we are almost at the halfway mark of 2016.  Where has time gone??

I can still distinctly remember celebrating New Year’s Eve with my family and friends. Then came a series of post-Christmas reunions.  Then came Valentine’s day — which I honestly have no recollection of… Then Holy Week which we spent here at home. Then the national elections which happened first week of May.

And now it’s June 1.

Did I spend the first 150 days of the year well? Or did the days just pass? I wonder.

***

In the beginning of the year, I embarked on a personal project.  Amid the usual day to day tasks required of me, I challenged myself to do something I have long wanted to do… Something for, basically, myself. And no, it’s not a fitness challenge… and I’m not 5 lbs lighter or anything like that. This project has something to do with one of my first loves– writing.

Like what I said in one of my essays, when God puts a seed of a dream in your heart, He also gives you the tools to help you make it grow.  He will give you the inspiration, He will connect you to the right people — people who can help you fulfill your dream, and I believe He will also give you the courage and the strength to finish what you have started, despite the fear, the insecurities and all the uncertainties you have in your head.

And then there’s time. Time to work, time to pray… and time to wait.

This — where I am right now — is waiting time.

It can get so tiring to wait. I get impatient. I get antsy. I get all the more insecure.   But then I hear this Bible verse in my head telling me to just Be still...and to know Who my God is. 

My God who provides the seeds of my dreams.  My God who connects me with people.  My God where I derive my strength from… Who tells me to just press on.

***

It’s the first of June.  This morning after running my usual errands, I passed by my favorite coffee shop for a few minutes of alone time.

I looked back at the past 5 months. I thought about the progress of my personal project.  I drank my favorite drink. I said a little prayer.

I thanked God for the days, months that have passed, the provisions and the favors, and I thanked Him in advance for the bountiful blessings to come.

I also thanked Him for the Now.

***

Of course, I had to do this before leaving the coffee place…

June 1

But first, let me take a selfie…

the view

view from my favorite seat / work place

photo 2

June 1 breakfast

All’s well. 🙂

***

…being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion…” – Philippians 1:6