Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Gifts

It is the shortest day of the year, the first day of winter, winter solstice. All the trees are naked once again and my husband had just finished blowing all the autumn leaves away. It has been warmer (70’s) during the weekend, quiet opposite in the East Coast which was having a snow storm.

I was looking for some old pictures on my drawers last night and I came across this book of S. Peck. On the first page was my signature, the date and the place where I bought the book (I always do that). I had the book 9 years ago. I can still remember how that book changed my life in many respects. It was December and a first Christmas away from my family. The ironic part though was that turned out to be the best Christmas I ever had. I’m talking about the gift of recognizing God’s grace and the gift of understanding, inner freedom and inner peace. It was all very humbling! It wasn’t simple at that time though. It was both a death and a life. A death of my old self and a welcoming joy of my new self- a life that promises bigger things. It was an awe-inspiring experience of a blessing of a grateful heart. To say I was in seventh heaven is a celebrated understatement.

I appreciate all sorts of figurative lessons I’ve learned during the past years following that Christmas. I thought I’d share some of it with you:

1. My definition of success changes from “wanting to be significant” to “doing significant things”.

2. I learned how to treasure “the moment”, not to rush away and just enjoy the richness of the experience whether it’s painful or joyful. There’s always beauty hidden in all circumstance and those that contemplate on each beauty find treasures of power that will long withstand.

3. Attitude is everything. Ever since I started changing the way I look at myself, others and the things around me; everything had changed too. I was able to separate myself from others. And to realize that I’m not perfect made me more tolerant unto others.

4. I realized that no matter how heavy the burden is, it will pass. And I count it as a blessing too- just like a gold is tested on fire and so is our character.

5. That I’m always a work in progress. I need to keep working on me. I need to be always ready for adopting, adapting and reloading. Life is too short for complains.

6. That there’s nothing more powerful than to be committed to truly care. It cultivates emotional sanctuaries that create a better chance of touching both myself and others.

It’s been said that every road leads HOME at Christmas, a bridge under which the river of time flows. May you take time to remain on that bridge- recalling your Christmas past, relishing your Christmas present and hoping for more blissful Christmas future! I want to take this occasion to wish each and every one of you a very Merry Christmas and God bless us all!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Happy Advent!

I was holding my second cup of tea while staring at the fireplace and listening to the Christmas songs played on our iTV. It’s quiet a wintry night and I just finished decorating the Christmas tree.

“You know, I was sorting through these pictures back when I had a lot of money”, my husband interrupted from the kitchen. He’s been doing a gallery for his office and the bonus room has been a real mess.

“So, were you happier then than you are now?” asked me.

“I’m no happier than I am now. Money is not everything” he replied.

Then the conversation jumps up to telling him how happy I was then regardless of our family’s financial constraints. I’m talking about those good old days when my Dad will just grab a branch of tree down the hill. Oh, we were so excited to put Christmas balls on it while Mom was busy making lanterns made of crepe paper. The joys it brought to me were different then. The yearning, the joyful hoping and vibrant dreaming were more intense and profound.

“That’s what my Dad kept telling me that the journey is sweeter than the arrival” my husband remarked. How true that is!

I realized life is all about advent. From the moment I wake up in the morning, there’s that joyful hoping in my heart for a meaningful day, a yearning for God’s embrace and a prayer of gratitude and asking for guidance…that I may be His voice or I may be His face in every moment.

I have always looked at life as an adventure, a journey to the unknown. And yes, awareness is my best companion. There’s so much to discover if you’re always attentive. I see ample of hopes in a fog of quiet disappointments, greater excitements of things that I’m about to discern and that the world is filled with endless beauty and possibilities. I always see precious riches I have been given to live, to experience, and to share. And that what keeps me awake, vibrant, young and hopeful! Most of all, it’s a gratitude that while I am worthy there is something worthier and greater than me.

And oh, like you…I’m keeping Christ this Christmas too! Happy Advent!

Thursday, November 19, 2009


It was a chilly, foggy morning when I noticed a missed call and a voicemail from a friend. I hurriedly listened to her message and in between lines were sobs. I was deeply saddened by the news too. I called her back and wished her sympathy and condolences. She was all the more crying and I was lost for comforting words. Saying goodbyes are always tough.

Then it hit me thinking about her past. Her dark secrets of unhappy married life. I definitely understand and respect her wishes as to why she’d love to keep it to herself. We just live in a small town as you know. It’s always difficult to deal with some not-so-smart neighbors. I can’t help but sigh. As if the whole world was dropped on my shoulders.

I prayed for her safety and that God will give her more strength to be able to carry her cross and continue on her journey. Her perception about marriage is commendable. Sure, it’s easy to love a lovable person but the biggest challenge of the faithful is to love the most unlovable person. It leaves me confused and yet relieved to know that she’s aware of what she’s doing. She had a better understanding of some things and probably had a better grip of reality let alone, marriage.

As much as I wanted to pour in the whole situation but I prefer to keep it anonymous. The whole point is the impact it gave me as this point of my life. Every journey is packed with mysteries and danger. The journey demands we listen, observe, feel the "new" while letting go of the "old". Sure, there’d be challenges. There will be that first challenge; there will be that next challenge; there will be those lifelong challenges. There will be intense trials to endure and upsetting circumstances to meet. They continually will seek to control our own voice into a submissive echo. Sure, it’s a lot harder to paddle against the current. Most of the times, we just let it flow to be able to survive. Yes, surrender is a virtue that one can learn overtime.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Notes for Myself

I woke up early this morning just before my alarm rang. I was thinking of dropping by at the church or maybe say the rosary. I was all dressed up for work and realized I was one hour ahead of my usual schedule (I drive to work around 9:30). Okay, I had time to stop by at the church. I would love to spend some quiet moments at the Adoration chapel but I realized they’re not open till 9AM.

As I was driving through the church’s parking lot, I noticed it’s full. Yes, it’s Wednesday and I know that there are masses everyday at 8:30 but I didn’t realize there’s many people that go to church on weekdays. I can’t help but smile. I don’t know why. I just felt like I’m home. Ah, I missed Wednesday masses.

It was soon that I remembered riding on a bus on Wednesday nights when I was in Taiwan. There are just few people that go to the Wednesday masses. It’s calm and intimate; yet, I thought those were the great moments of my life. All this recollection had been stirred by the fact that I felt a little dry and unbalanced lately. It’s always easy to do something that you’re comfortable with. I mean, I have a good life. My husband loves me. I’m blessed with a big family. I seemed to cope up with life in my own way and my own understanding. However, lately… I felt so blah, so uninspired. Yes, I put my brothers to school. I felt that would be something inspiring. But really, I thought it’s easy. I mean, it’s not easy tossing away all the money I’ve worked for every month but that thought come by so easily. I can’t just close my eyes and pretend they’re fine. Basically, that “call” is normal for me.

What is it really? Glad you asked. I had the slightest idea but I feel like I wanted to do something. Something that’s not “playing it safe”. Something that is significant. I understand I’m not so good at communicating with people socially but I’m determined to change my not-so-significant life right now. I want to be part of this humanity. I don’t want to lock myself in a lonely spot just thinking about myself and my future. Isn’t that what I’ve been dreaming for? Apparently, dreaming and wishful thinking is no less than lip service. It’s about making it happen. And that is work, sometimes a lot of work.

At this point, I recognize trying to get by won’t get me much and seeking only to fit is not living at all. And no, I’m not seeking perfection. I’m seeking significance in life. I can’t continue watching life passes me by. I can’t allow myself rolling down the hill till mosses enfold me and just let the grass grow on my feet. I’m a big girl and I should do what a big girl does, right? So, help me God!

Monday, October 26, 2009

The 10 Commandments for a Long and Peaceful Life

1. Thou shalt not worry, for worry is the most unproductive of all human activities.

2. Thou shalt not be fearful, for most of the things we fear never come to pass.

3. Thou shalt face each problem as it comes. You can handle only one at a time.

4. Thou shalt not cross bridges before you get to them, for no one yet has succeeded in accomplishing this.

5. Thou shalt not take problems to bed with you, for they make very poor bedfellows.

6. Thou shalt not borrow other people's problems. They can take better care of them than you can.

7. Thou shalt be a good listener, for only when you listen do you hear ideas different from your own. It's very hard to learn something new when you're talking.

8. Thou shalt not try to re-live yesterday for good or ill—it is gone. Concentrate on what is happening in your life today.

9. Thou shalt not become bogged down by frustration, for 50 percent of it is rooted in self-pity and will only interfere with positive actions.

10. Thou shalt count thy blessings, never overlooking the small ones—for a lot of small blessings add up to a big one.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Rain, Rain, I love Rain

Thank God for another day of rain! It’s been raining since yesterday. Everything just looked so clean and the trees, grass seemed so happy. We badly need rain here in California especially on the fire hazard places. Some places in the world might be sick and tired of rain and here I am praising God for the rain. Ironic, isn’t it? To Filipinos, rain right now is just unwelcome after being soaked in a flood and has been wet for weeks now.

Anyway, I’m just amazed at myself being so excited with the change of season. I mean, we don’t feel it much here in CA but definitely it’s something new for me who came from the tropical country where there’s only rainy and sunny season. Most of all, I love fall. It just hints some good family holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. Ah, how I love Christmas! I can’t believe I had the same excitement in my heart for as long as I can remember, whenever I think of Christmas holidays.

Day Unto Day

DH picked up B late last night or should I say very early at the airport. He drove to LAX past 11 and came home around 3 in the morning. B just got back from his meeting with one of our major accounts in the East Coast. He’s been in the airport for 4 hours after they canceled his flight. Annoyed by the changing of flight schedules, he just decided to go for the next available flight regardless of time. So, there it is… they both went to bed so late and B still managed to go to work today! Superman that he is! No wonder he makes real good money. He just loved his job and we’re so proud of him. His work ethics is really impressive. DH is now half-retired you know. He shows up here in the office maybe twice a week for a couple of hours. He mostly works at home now. Good for him and I’m even more proud of him. I remembered the times when we were still on the “getting-to-know” stage when he kept telling me how late he went to bed and how early he had to wake up to catch up the East Coast customers. His company had gone so far and we’re ever more grateful for all the blessings!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Overcoming Adversities

With the economy spiraling down, it’s beyond words to describe how badly we are affected by the recent tragedies in Asia especially to my kababayans (countrymen) in the Philippines. It’s quiet depressing to watch the news on TFC and I can only give my fervent prayers to those who were affected and to those who lost their loved ones.

On the brighter side, I’m all the more impressed by the generosity of so may people who helped in one way or another, big or small. Once again, the nation rose amidst adversity and was firmly united. It’s sad to know that we had to be tested first to realize we can do a lot of things if we are united. True enough, every tragedy is another door being opened into something bigger. I’m just hoping that it’ll be an eye-opener for all to continue taking care of each other without dwelling so much on some vanities and cynicism. We all know that the latter doesn’t work, right?

Fight Over Nothing

B had been out of town again for a series of meetings with buyers. Basically, I had to sit, work and answer phone calls at the office. When DH called, I was in the restroom and so A had answered the phone for me. DH freaked out when A told him that he doesn’t know where I’m at. He’s working at the back in the warehouse. Then DH called me on my iPhone but unfortunately, I didn’t hear it. I put it on silent mode. I called him back the moment I saw a missed call. He then asked me, where did I go? Innocently, I said- I’m right here. Then he snapped at me. I didn’t even have a clue why he got so upset. Anyway, he apologized after I explained what happened, why I haven’t answered his calls. He knew I was hurt.

I went to the bank, did some deposits and I arrived with this flower and a post-it-note in my desk.
Still hurt, I managed to ask him if the flowers are real. He said it is real coz his apology is real. That put a smile on my face and we made up! Okay, so much of the dramas, lol!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Magic of Polynesia

It’s neither the thud nor the tap. The sound of Hawaiian drums resonate with the deep echo of ancient voices telling the legends of long ago. My husband said a visit to Hawaii is not complete without witnessing the Hawaiian feast called Luau. Although he described it as corny, I was thrilled to go especially when he mentioned there’s going to be a roasted pig!

It basically was consist of dinner and Polynesian dancing. Ah, I found myself capitulated with the sounds, the simulating hula dances and authentic Hawaiian foods where cultures and traditions come to life. It’s one of those commercial Luau productions in Sheraton.

The host gave us the brief history and then the Imu ceremony started.

It was quiet interesting, dining on an authentic Luau buffet including Kalua pig, poi (starchy food that comes from taro), island fish, chicken, and beef. It was such a great dinner especially on a dramatic sunset at Kaanapali.
After dinner, the extravagant revue showcasing the dances of Tahiti and the exciting fire-knife dancing started. I wanted to take a picture with the hula dancers when my husband tricked me. He told to go up on stage and he’ll take a picture.

The next minute I knew, I was dancing with them. We only not witness it but we did participate. How nice! Here’s a video of Jim dancing the hula on stage. I just can’t stop laughing!

The hula dancers had to pick one from the audience and teach them how to do the hula. Oh boy, it looked a lot easier but it was actually tough, lol!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Beyond Expectation

There’s just so much to enjoy and discover about Hawaii. At first few days, I was so fascinated with the whole exploration and I even considered it a time travel. The coconuts, the flowers, the mountains, the sea… ah, the magnificent views are so similar to the small island where I came from. Not until the last days, I realized there’s so much more in Maui, Hawaii that our island doesn’t have. The stunning sunsets, the evergreen scenery, misty mountains, rainbows, perfect weather, idyllic beaches, mesmerizing music, expressive hula dances and plummeting cliffs. I could on and on. The place is indeed beyond paradise! There is profound peace and majestic contrasts. It’s definitely grand in nature’s gifts.
(Lana-i beach with Manele Bay in background)

I could say that the highlight on our 12-day vacation was whole-day trip to Lanai Island (thanks to Trilogy). We did snorkeling and toured around the small village up in the mountain. The island was owned by James Dole of Dole Food Company in 1922 and developed a large portion of it into the world's largest pineapple plantation. I was even more surprised to know that 70% of the population is Filipinos. Now, I had connected the dots of our family roots. My grandpa’s brother was one of those that were hired for the pineapple plantation back in 1930’s. Suddenly, I felt more connections. Well, cheesy as it may sound but that’s how I felt. The hibiscus flowers, the small houses that remained unlocked, one gas station, few smaller stores, and people speaking Tagalog, kids smiling and waving as they see tourists. It was very mysterious and yet so serene place to live. Although, there’s not much going on in the island, I could tell there are tons of reasons why most people choose to stay. What’s more surprising to me is their weather, it’s really nice up there! Not so hot, not so cold. Presently, the island is owned by Southern California’s David Murdock as a result for his purchase of Castle & Cooke. It must be tough to switch the villagers from pineapple farmers to being in the hospitality jobs. There’s only about 3,000 population though and guess what? They all know each other and perhaps they had to look for husband/wife somewhere as they may all be related, lol! I just can’t believe I was so fascinated with the island’s history!
(the only gas station in the village)

(this place brings back a lot of fun-filled childhood memories)

Anyway, I’m so happy to be back blogging. I’ll share more experiences later.

Just a Quick Note

I would like to apologize to my avid followers. I know there’s still some, hehehe… I have been caught up with work lately. We came back on my birthday. Yeah, I spent my 32nd birthday at the back of the plane, lol! Good thing, it’s from Hawaii. I haven’t had a chance to blow my birthday candle but I did open my surprise present from my husband (of course) which I personally picked a month before. Yes, that’s a lot of surprise for me, lol! I loved my new Cartier watch, very simple yet elegant.

Anyway, our Christmas sales started right after we arrived from vacation. That’s why we took that vacation in the first place (wink). It was a perfect timing for us! We know it’s going to be a hectic weeks ahead of us. Aside from my daily routine at work, I helped A with his paperwork. It’s very tedious since one of our major accounts doesn’t have a distribution center. I worked 3-whole day for that since it has to be shipped right away. I couldn’t complain though, A had been sweating in the warehouse. He had more tough things to do. I’m just happy to assist him. And in a week, three- 40’ container arrived and most of the items will be shipped in 2 weeks. We’re darn full and to solve the problem, we rented two-40’ container and were parked right outside our warehouse. Oh boy… what else can I say? It’s a blessing! Thank God!

Oh, how I missed you all! I definitely will get back to you soon as I get a chance but for now, please accept my apologies! Hugs!!!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Another Day in Paradise

The morning is very uplifting and the plumeria smells are so inspiring. We were enjoying our breakfast that I cooked (bacon and eggs) at the balcony and saw bunch of people having fun at the pool.
Yes, it’s pool time once again but we decided to walk at the beach to the black rock first. We had a little action with the gushing waves. Geee, I wished those waves are not that wild, lol! The neighboring island covered with cotton-candy clouds looked like Camiguin to me.

We had a great time at the pool and guess what? I joined the kids with the slide adventure, lol! It was so much fun!
We drove around town and saw the “pride and joy” of Maui, the Bunyan tree- the biggest in the world. Wow! That tree occupied the whole block! It gives a cozy shade though, very interesting!
We walked through the harbor and saw some submarine adventure signs. We bought tickets and off we went for the underwater quest for the first time. Yeah, that’s very exciting! We rode through a little ferry to where the sub is and as the tour guide counted 1 to 5… and oh, we were so ready with our camera.
The submarine getting ready to surface:D
Oh, there it is! Awesome!

We went down as far as 150 feet. It was very cool!

As we sailed back to the island, there is this familiar smell of the ocean and the sticky feeling from the salt water. Ah, the island life! I remember that (wink, wink).

We went back to the hotel, soaked in the pool. Grab some Italian dinner and shared a glass of MaiTai with the hotel's spectacular view! Yes, another day in paradise!


Saturday, August 29, 2009

Vacation at Last!

So, we got our ticket upgraded to first class. Unfortunately, our flight was delayed for 2 hours. I was playing Bookworm on my iPhone the whole time, draining its battery. Finally, we boarded and the flight was not bad at all. The seats are pretty reasonable size that I curled myself and covered with the blanket all throughout the flight. I drink my husband’s cocktail accidentally. I thought that was just juice and sure enough that knocked me.

Hawaii definitely reminded me of Philippines- humid and warm. We rented a yellow Jeep and off we went to our destination villa. It’s a very neat Ocean Resort (timeshare) and such a great deal for a 12D/13N stay. The kitchen is fully furnished with washer & dryer. I just love the kitchen!
Hurriedly, we changed to our beach clothes and swam a little bit on the sea. The water is very refreshing! Then, we soaked in the pool for few minutes. Got some dinner at Hula Grill. The foods are superb! We did some groceries at Safeway and I’m very excited that I still can cook. That surely saved us some money instead of eating out everyday. Suddenly, I felt like home!
Yeah, finally- we’re on a vacation! Cheers!