• Eye on the Prize

    One day, turned to another week, another month has passed since the simultaneous cancellations of all non-essential activities and government mandated lockdown worldwide. The glimmer of hope for the vaccine is at least for another year. There are not enough evidence that the anti-viral medications they propose are effective. The PPES and disinfectants are still scarce and in high demand. There are more massive protests, conspiracy theories, more political issues. The only certain thing is the uncertainty. We don’t have the answers.

    It is not supposed to be like this. I should be on the prime of my life. I should be traveling and enjoying the fruits of my hardwork.  I deserve a vacation after all the years of toil. Being unemployed and feeling helpless is something that I did not plan. When will it end. All our lives had changed dramatically. All we do is complain and mumble. We forget that our lives are intertwined that whatever we do or don’t do affects one another. Even a simple prayer, a faith as small as a mustard seed can create a ripple effect.

    We are afraid of the invisible virus. But stronger is he who believes God is still God and His promises are still true. The same God that lifted when you were nothing is the same God that will bring you through. I don’t know how but He is will. May we endure and finish the race and until we see the big picture. May God’s name be glorified and magnified now till the end

     

     

     

  • How to be happy

    What is the secret to lasting happiness? Is it having a doting family, having a secured job? financial security?  a good portfolio? successful career? having a good business that will not fail and carry you through all the economic distress? having no worry? good health? being vegan? popularity?having a sense of pride, respect, appreciation? being a generous giver? a pretty face? being well traveled, a fulfilled bucket list?

    Will a new Louis Vuitton purse give me excitement? will having a belly full of treats makes me happy? will being mindful make me happy? will decluttering ease my stress?

    Are we really chasing after the wind? Will all this things grant us the joy of contentment?We all take pride in our accomplishments, we all enjoy the applaud and approval. We are happy when people appreciate us. But is that enough? Is there something more?

    If we don’t have enough food to eat, we don’t know how we are going to pay the next bill, mortgage, when our jobs will reopen, are we less happy than someone who have a healthy appetite or enormous wealth? Do we fear that one day, we will get old and helpless, that our wealth won’t save us? That someone has to pull the plug on our life support. Our life wouldn’t matter if we are old and debilitated.

    For years, I think that someone with autism or disabilties have no chance to survive in the world. How will they cope with society. For neurotypical individuals, it is hard, what more hardships can life can offer for them. Will they ever be fully prepared for the outside life? My good friend, before she passed, was worried that not even her relatives will handle the responsibilty of taking care of her severely disabled child, and that she is considering putting her in the home. She was worried that when she dies, no one will love her like she do. She is afraid that she will get abused and raped because of her mental status. It is hard to imagine, in this fallen world we are afraid that anything that may or can happen.

    Sometimes we torture ourselves with fears and thoughts. these thoughts serve no purpose but to instill havoc and stress.

    How can we get prepared  for a pandemic, when during our normal lives, we are struggling? we are struggling to make ends meet, our jobs are already dead end , our relationships are already o the fence.  Its like we are adding insult to the injury.

    As we are safe In our own homes. we are itching to go out. We are anxious to return to work. We are envious of the people who are still working and making a difference by staying essential. We are envious of the rich who can afford to stay at home and not work for a lifetime and yet have some money to spare and help the needy. We are envious of the people who never worked in their life yet getting unemployment benefits that we tax payers are paying. We are envious, ungrateful, unappreciative. We think life is unfair. People in the fron tlines are dying. Where is justice for that. At the blink of an eye, we are unemployed, we are homeless, we are in debt, we are stricken with sickness. We are in need of God. If life was fair, we would be punished already for the long list of our debts! We need God’s mercy!

    We only seek God in times of need. Its not to late! We can seek Him now!

    For many years, I thought that happiness is a destination. That we can be happy if we achieve our dreams of becoming somebody. If only we have this or that that we can be whole.

    The reason I was unhappy was instead of counting my blessings, I was looking at my neighbors green lawn that I forgot to water my own. I was resentful because I felt that people are happier than me. That I deserve to be happier.  I am suffering so other should be too. Nobody should be happier than me. Is it true that misery loves company?

    I envy my friends child. I envy her perfect family. Why can’t my child be. Why is my child so different?  As felt my child is lagging behind on his academic skills. His reading and comprehension is in the lowest percentile. While some of his classmates are reading greek mythology, mine was learning to discern vocabulary. I am not fishing for sympathy, I felt defeated!

    I realized that could not be proud of my son because I was looking at his disabilities. I forgot that he is smart in his own ways, he is improving, he is trying.  He did not speak until he was four, and now he is thriving! I forgot that God that make no mistakes. He is mine to love. He is my gift.

    I felt that as if God is pruning me. Not to be a victim of comparison. Not to be full of hate. Not to be greedy of attention. It is not about me. Its about God. He is the source of all. What ever he gives is because is who He is and is not because we deserve it. It is humbling to be loved by Our Father that in no instance will belittle us for our shortcomings. I pray for God to change my heart and to be more like His son as we all continually seek his will.

  • Solitude

    My aunt passed earlier this week. I wonder how she felt in her last waking moments? Did she felt scared? alone? is she at peace? I haven’t seen or talked to her since four years ago when we came back home for a visit. What I do remember is when we were young, me, my siblings and cousins, used to spend our vacations at our aunt’s. I remember she would always hand us a gift and money on special occasions.  She never had any children of her own, but she had a lot of nieces and nephews that she would shower great affection. She was a elementary school teacher for many years. She was adored by all the children she has taught as she was like a mother to them. She is a generous and selfless giver and always give her last penny to her relatives and those who are in need. I wonder if she left anything for herself.  On her last dying breath, what was she thinking? was she ready for this? was she fulfilled?

    As far as I know, she was the third sibling who had succumbed to pancreatic cancer. Our genes predispose us from this terrible disease. If we had known that we are sick, will we have changed our view of life? If we knew we were dying, would we love harder, be sympathetic to others and ourselves, would we lend a helping hand? Sad to say, but some of us will only receive flowers when we are gone.

    It is unfortunate that there is no commemoration or memorial service for all those who passed away in this time of crisis. There were no hands to hold, there was only solitude. Did they know that we loved them? Did they know that they had made a big impact in our lives? Their legacies are not in vain and will never be forgotten.

    We all know someone we love who had died and reality is death does not exempt anybody. No matter how great a fortune you amassed, how much good deed you did, how many followers you have, none of it will matter.  With all our great accomplishments, the one thing certain that we are all headed to the grave. We all fear death not only because it is inevitable but because it is the finality of our earthly lives. We hold on to the promise of God that the everlasting life with Him is something we all look forward to.

  • Choices

    7C7E2C53-9CAF-4557-9D84-E1CA06A85D1EThis social isolation situation has me dumbfounded and second guessing myself. So many emotions. The days that had flown by, for me, can either be described as okay and not so okay days. Some days, I have the energy to to productive tasks, other days, I have to force myself to shower. In, between days are reserved for stress cooking and mindless repetitive scrolling for anything.

    The other day, I have this overwhelming feeling of guilt. I comtemplated that I should be contributing something myself to alleviate the suffering of the world. I should’nt be netflixing my days away while the frontliners are sacrificing their life and all. I should’ve sign myself to volunteer somewhere and not take a time off from my job in the health care. The more I ruminate, the more I am doubting my decisions in life.  If I should’ve taken a nursing degree or any essential professions. I should’ve signed up long time ago. If I had know that this will happen, I should’ve been more prepared. I envy the people I know who are thriving from home based work and made suitable career choices.

    I realized that who am I as a person now is a summation all my collective hardships.  I cannot be resilient now if it were not for all the struggles. There is no easy path around. We have to take a road that is meant for us to trudge. There is no looking back unless you want to see how far you came and how many boulders that you dodged. The callouses in our foot are the constant reminders that we can overcome fear and pain.

    I realized that pandemic or no pandemic is not the time to start a new career. It is not about making drastic life decisions. Life doesn’t have a reset button, if it does, failure won’t be an option. But, it is still not too late to make sensible and practical choices.

    Saying that this is the new normal is an understatement. Adjusting has always been the norm. When a sudden event change poses a threat, we have an natural survival instinct and once the threat is gone, we adapt to a new routine. We learn from our mistakes hopefully and evolve to a wiser human being. 

  • A Question of When

    What’s happening in the world now, is like watching a post-apocalyptic movie scene, where you are protagonist and instead of zombies, you were being chased by a virus.  The movie which we are hoping for a twist to the story, that there is an alternate ending to which the main characters are spared and everyone get’s along in the end.That would be a satisfying conclusion.

    It is no longer a question of if or how, but a question of when the inevitable will come upon us. The world is testing our coping and surviving skills more than ever. It’s what we have prepared for all our lives: the rainy days, the days that we would need to stock up on strength, compassion and resilience. 

    We picture the distant future as something to look forward to. The trips we carefully planned in our heads. The we are excited for the vacation leave we saved for excursions and reunions. We envisioned our children reaching their utmost potentials

    But fear has it’s funny way of creeping into our minds. The reality is that road is unclear. The future is uncertain, we thought that we had it figure out. We thought that if we have a great portfolio, a stable job, we are all set. We value our security like we are invincible, that we can steer our lives the way we want.

    As we adjust to our new normal, maybe the change is for the good after all. Our focus is to keep rowing, amidst the turbulence. I think we are all going to make it together.If we look at the bigger picture, that are our lives our intertwined, and that we can make a difference if we become a part of the solution. Instead of bickering and pointing fingers, we can think of viable plans and long term solutions. 

    There are things that we thought we cannot live without. We appreciate today that we can hug our loved ones because in just a blink of an eye we can be isolated. The luxury of traveling, going to the movies, gym, eating out  will never be the same. Not being able to worship services physically is testing our faith.

    It is question of when. When time comes, we will realize what is important. To find great joy in the small things. To be selfless and kind. That is what humanity is all about.

  • Back to reality

    B84022E0-578C-489B-B5CA-8ADC0E2B3EE1.jpegAs the long stressful/restful holiday break comes to a conclusion, we look back and reminisce on all the good tidings, food and celebrations that we had. Now that it’s over, we start facing the reality, after all the decorations are put up, all the presents are unwrapped and shoved into your bedroom closets. Facing the back to work jitters, the protruding belly after engorging the sweet desserts silently depositing in your fat cells are a reality check.

    We don’t want the festivities to end. Over indulging on the Netflix and updating your social media like you are having the best time of your life.  Like old saying goes, all the good things will eventually come to an end.  Bills have to be paid and dishes has to be cleaned.  The new decade is a new start of hopes as cliche may it sound. We leave our sorrows behind and on to the new great chapter full of possibilities. Oh how we have grown and changed during the past ten years health wise, mentally and aged of course.

    What do we aspire when we make our resolutions? Is is good to aim for an high unrealistic goal? Do we start making promises to ourselves and break them the day after we lose motivation and lease on life? Do we fall back to our old ways or habits? Do we go back to were we are or be the best version of our selves?

    The key to accomplishing a task depends on the drive called self-efficacy. Psychologist Albert Bandura defined self-efficacy as a belief that an individual has the ability to accomplish a specific task. Along with motivation is grit, persistence and resilience are qualities to consider. Repetition breeds confidence.

    How do we even start? The hardest step is usually the first step. We have to start somewhere. Putting our best foot forward as we go on our day. Sip our coffee with delight as we get a headstart using all our senses to enjoy.  Breathe and savor the moment and thank God for new beginnings.

  • Anti-social media

    EA566E03-D56F-4474-8528-05EB3D4BA354.jpegFor someone who be on social media a lot, I think it should not consume majority of our time. It has indeed become a part of our daily life. Our day is not complete without check what our facebook friends’ status.

    It has become an addiction for me and a stress reliever. Not knowingly, what is does is create an cycle of doing nothing, a mindless repetitious scrolling looking for something that would be interesting. We become a victim of comparing ourselves with someone’s highlight reels. If people would be mindful what they post, it will be different, I said in my head.

    The beauty of social media is that we can be anyone we want to be. We pretend to be someone we are not. We can portray on social media a life of fantasy and excitement.  That is social media, it is not our reality. It’s purpose is for only for entertainment.

    What we see in some posts are unrealistic, an idealized filtered version of themselves. For some people, seeing these posts can have a negative effect because it can be depressing and can bring low self esteem.

    When we present ourselves positively, do we like to seek validation? If we share our misfortunes, do we seek sympathy? Or are we just overanalyzing stuff? What are our motives in posting? Are our posts trying to say that we are better or more successful that our peers?

    Are we truly happy for our peer’s achievements or do we get bitter? We don’t see their struggles, we don’t hear their complaints. We shouldn’t judge a person on social media by what they post or don’t post. We shouldn’t take things seriously. (Which is what I am doing by writing this article, LOL)

    What I am trying to say that, viewing things differently from a positive perspective will bring a change in our mindset. Social media will be here for a long time. Trying to filter who we follow and what we see in our newsfeed would be good for our well-being.

     

     

    J

  • In search of the perfect gift

    FA9082B6-98BE-4E86-8475-FAE9B4993BC9The most wonderful time of the year can be the most dreaded time to most people. Trying to plan the perfect thanksgiving and holiday meal can be a daunting task. Picking the perfect table centerpiece that will match with your table setting can be arduous when you are working with a tight budget with zero craft skills.

    The holidays are fast approaching.  A sumptuous holiday meal surrounded by a festive decorations such that featured in the magazine cover, sounds like a perfect holiday dream. Tradition dictates that holidays should be lavished with expensive gifts  surrounding a tree. Can we truly enjoy the holidays without forking a ton of money on gifts and food? Not everyone can afford an extravagant meal on holidays.

    As we are prepping for the gift giving season, it can pile us a lot of debt if we are not careful. Why do we we give gifts? Do we give because we expect to receive something in return? We put a lot of thought in our gifts, because we do care of the recipient. Giving gifts doesn’t have to be stuff or material things. May it be a card or a simple gesture, a phone call that reminds us that we are being thought of.

    Everyone has different way of celebrating the occasion. The holidays are supposed to be a joyous occasion. But it can bring feelings of isolation and anxiety because of unmet expectations. It can bring sadness because of a loss of a loved one, health concerns or money issues.

    What I remember most during these time are the smiles and laughs during family gatherings and occasions. Opening gifts with your name on it are just an icing on the cake. I do remember the enticing aroma of homemade meals, the warmth of hugs and anticipation of the wonderful memories yet to come.

     

  • For bitter or worse

    808749B9-6E5C-4E31-BA25-68FE887070CF.jpegRelationships are hard. There are moments when you are on cloud nine. When you both agree on almost everything and there are days you are not even on the same page, not even on the same book!  Even the slightest inconvenience annoys you. Your beliefs and goals doesn’t seemed to be aligned anymore, You feel that your feelings doesn’t matter, to someone who used to be your world.

    It is not your fault. It is never your fault. You loose your self trying to please them. Pride tells you that you are not wrong. You hate it when someone criticizes when you are just barely making it through the day. Appreciation would’ve made someone’s life bearable. But you never get that pat on the back. Of all the things you have did right, what is remembered are the things you didn’t do. An apology would’ve been nice.

    You try to compromise and be open minded. Sometimes you feel that your voice seemed unheard. You feel that you are doing more than your share in the relationship. It is more work that it becomes stressful. Your give everything you got,but it is not enough. Until you just loose it. You just loose it.

    Expecting a little too much or better to lower your expectations, I learned to accept the realities.  That you will be hurt by the same person that you Love the most. You feel numb that the tears doesn’t even make any sense anymore.

    You hate this feeling. Of not able to control the situation.  Of breaking down over and over again. There comes to a point that you are both tired and overwhelmed. When everything is happening all at once. You try to be the strong one but sometimes, you get disgusted. Your heart get broken to little pieces, itty bitty pieces.

    The moment you will realize that this feeling will soon pass and the cycle continues until you break it. Or until someone gives up.

  • Life Happens

    DBED2F35-0B06-4803-BE16-3C42B3BB1D6B.jpegThere are days that we succumb to our fears, we give up before the battle starts. Stress becomes overwhelming that we don’t have any motivation in our cells. You dread doing the monotonous 9-5 job and living paycheck to paycheck and the cycle continues.

    Everybody struggles and have problems, each of us carry an invisible load. It is so quick to tell somebody who had encountered a traumatic experience to lighten up and think positive because we don’t know what they are going through. We act tough until something devastating happens to us. We all have been through a difficult stage in our lives. We shouldn’t judge anybody period.

    When we focus on the negatives, our outlook in life becomes dimmer. What and who we listen to on the daily basis affect our thinking. We surround ourselves with people who can be our tribe, who have the same aspirations and will build each other up.

    Life becomes so overwhelming when we want to accomplish everything all out once. When we prioritize unimportant things that drains us mentally, emotionally and physically. We need to focus on life, work, balance and sanity to avoid chaos. Finding a outlet to de-stress should be in our to do list also.

    Life happens when we are busy making plans as the saying goes. We can’t really be prepared with unexpected events. The inevitable still happens whether we like it or not. While we are able, we try to keep up with the things that we can control. If we know our time on earth is limited why not we love harder and treat each day sacred as if it our last? Chase our goals like it’s nobody’s business. There would not be time to worry and wallow.

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