Lesson #3 Courage

This weekend has been an eyeopener and an affirmation of the person i want to be.

I’ve realized that I need to be brave inorder to attract brave people. I think I have attracted the most coward of men in the past because I, too, was very fearful. In the end, I ended up getting hurt because no one had the courage to fight for me.

Courage is fighting for the things you want and letting go of the things that doesn’t benefit you.

So now, I’m changing the game. I will find the courage to say “no thanks” to people who offer less than what I deserve and allow myself to be vulnerable to those who are willing to hold my hand and walk with me in the uncertainties. In the end, I want to be with someone who’s love is something I don’t have to think about and won’t leave me trying to convince myself of its truesome, someone who says “This is what I want. Period.” (No buts ) someone who is strong and brave enough to love me. I don’t want to be enslaved by someone else’s hesitation and fears nor do I want someone who confuses me.

I choose to be brave.

Lesson #2 Give without expectation

This season is teaching me not to hold back. It is teaching me to give a part of myself even when I don’t feel like it. It is teaching me to be unselfish. It is teaching me to overcome my sense of entitlement. It is teaching me to be generous in sharing myself to others. It is teaching me to love unconditionally. Love is the one thing that propels me to give beyond what I am inclined to give.

Many times, I tend to deny someone a part of myself because they are not giving a part of themselves. We are more inclined react and reciprocate to those who are giving us something but if we reach out to those who are not offering us anything, that is real generosity.

Most of the time, our actions are dictated by how other people act around us, by how much they give, by how much they say, by how much they do, by how much we receive, by what we think they will think of us. We like people because they like us, we appreciate people because they appreciate us,  we demand from people the same things that we offer. We should learn to move beyond this. We should learn to overcome being reactive and start being proactive. Reach out, give, share,  open yourself to people without demanding the same things from them. Don’t hold back a kind word just because you haven’t received it, don’t hold back a smile just because they won’t smile back, don’t hold back an act of love because they may not give it back. Give because you have something to give. Reach out. You are a gift worth sharing. Give out of love and do not expect anything in return. It is in this form of giving that we learn how to become full by who we are rather than by what we receive.

Forming a Habit

After 9 days of holiday vacation I returned to work in my laziest. During the vacation I was contemplating about quitting my job this year. I read somewhere that quittinga job you hate is something old people regret not doing. I’ve always felt that this job was not meant for me. I couldn’t see myself growing old in this industry. But being in my 20s, I had that hunger to learn, to please people, to let them know I am brilliant. Yes, after a short time people saw that and that’s when the decline happened. That’s when I felt like I no longer needed to prove that I am an exellent employee so I gave myself room to slack off. I think the only thing that has kept me doing this job for the past 7 years is my habit to do well in anything and everything that is thrown at me. Because I have built myself well in this job there are times that I feel I’m being over appreciated. People still appreciate my work even though I feel like I did not give my 100 percent. It’s good but I guess it also made me jaded because I know that even my so-so is good enough for them. It just didn’t push me to work harder, to give more, to be better. It has left me giving  mediocre.

So yeah.. I came in Monday and complained about everything. That’s when I realized that I do really complain a lot — from small stuff to the big ones. That’s when I listened to myself and to the people around me. We complain a lot! Read facebook, twitter, etc. so I made a plan, a rule — Not to verbalize any complaints, to completely avoid complaining.

Tuesday rolled by and I broke the rule at 10am when I shouted in the office “Ang BAGAL ng INTERNET!”. Strike 1. I pushed myself that day to do my work without complaint.  When I got home in the evening, our neighbor was holding a party with people singing karaoke at the top of their lungs. I restrained myself from complaining, trying to divert my attention by thinking about something good out of the situation.

Wednesday came and I had to zip my mouth when the HR sent an email saying our salary will be delayed. “uh-uh don’t complain” I told myself so I preferred not to comment. Our neighbor held another party that night.

Thursday came and I thought I was doing pretty well. When I got home, our neighbor was holding another party. I didn’t sleep well the night before and I really needed a good sleep that night in preparation for a busy weekend. As much as I restrained myself from being annoyed, I just really couldn’t take it anymore. By 11pm they were still not done and I couldn’t get myself to sleep. I searched the web for the building’s number and called them. Gladly, someone answered who told me they were about to finish. I just couldn’t hold back myself from posting a complaint on twitter. God must have really tested me that week and I failed.

I’m still trying to follow that rule everyday, forming a habit. I hope the next time a neighbor holds a karaoke for 4 straight nights, I will have more restraint.

By verbalizing our complaints and negative thoughts, we are throwing the negative energy out in the universe, creating an echo. We must learn to drown out these thoughts before they come out of our mouth.

Complain Less. Do More.

What’s your type?

“Ano bang type mo?” A friend threw the question at me in the car last night and I remember having a hard time finding an answer. Type? Errr. The only answer I could find was “Wala eh. Hindi ko na iniisip kung anong type ko. Darating nalang yon.”

Of course, there are certain qualities I would like to find in a  future partner but I’ve learned to quiet down those desires. I’ve learned not to put people in categories. I just think that making up a list blinds us in discerning what God is giving us. Once we have drafted a picture of that someone, it becomes so easy to reject the person God has designed for us when he/she doesn’t fit the picture. I know that when I meet the person God has planned for me, it wouldn’t be an instantaneous recognition. It would be like spring or watching a flower bloom, like listening to a million yeses from God over time.

HMHS Baguio Retreat Jan. 24-26 2014

Looking for a retreat, a recollection or some sort of getting plugged back in to the source (God)? Check this out.

Healing Missionaries of the Holy Spirit will be holding a retreat in Baguio City on Jan. 24-26, 2014 at the Jesuit Villas in Mirador.

It’s primarily designed for the healing of past and present wounds, although it works perfectly well if you simply want to rekindle your faith in Jesus. It is run by a group of ‘wounded healers,’ -people who themselves experienced past hurts and have found rest and healing in our Lord Jesus.

It would be a nice kickstart for 2014.  Email me at aileen.piacos@gmail.com if you are interested.

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A Day Well Spent

Before the chaotic transfer of Operationn Salubong (a volunteer group who welcome Yolanda Survivors as they come off the C-130 plane) to Camp Aguinaldo, a friend and I were already signed up to do the 8am-3pm shift at Villamor as counselors on Friday, Nov. 22, 2013- my birthday. The previous week and the one before that were very toxic and I wanted to make my birthday week as worthy as a thanksgiving offering to the Father and so I planned to do as much volunteer work and prayer that week. My sister, Irhys, and our friend, Gino, were volunteer marshals on Monday that same week. On Thursday evening, Nov. 21, 2013, we received the news that Oplan Salubong was moving back to Villamor and we also read posts about Oplan Hatid (a volunteer transport service for the evacuees of typhoon Yolanda who have fled their homes and are brought to Manila via the military planes) having to reassemble after packing up that same day. I was still in the office that time and my sister was at home preparing to sleep. Gino and I were exchanging messages about our planned volunteer work the following day. We were planning  to volunteer at the Oplan Hatid if the Oplan Salubong didn’t work out since it was still unclear on how DSWD would manage the volunteers for this operation. After a few minutes, Gino suggested we volunteer that night since Oplan Hatid was in need of help.  It was 10:00pm. I said yes. I called my sister and told her to get ready as I was going to pick her up in a few minutes. She was already in bed but she was quick to say yes.

We arrived at Villamor before 11pm and was told to proceed to Gate 5. Around 20 volunteer drivers were already there waiting for DSWD’s go signal for transportation. A few minutes later, we were told to transfer to the parking lot at the grandstand.

At 11:30PM, we got our first passenger, heading to Pasig Palengke. We were not familiar with the place but I was confident that Waze could navigate us where we needed to go. Our passengers were 2 male cousins and the baby daughter of one.

I asked Gino to set the waze app since I was busy driving. As geographically challenged as I was, I missed the exit to Magallanes. Waze recalculated the route and pointed us toward Osmena Highway going to Manila. I asked Gino to check the route again since I believed we were taking the wrong or a very long route. Gino disregarded the Waze and dictated which road to take. After a few minutes, my sister and I were surprised that we were somewhere in Sta Ana. Apparently, Gino took the wrong destination in the GPS map so he was trying to navigate us to a route he was familiar with—which turned out to be really really long. We spent the whole ride teasing Gino until he finally said he will shoulder the gas for this trip. After an hour, we finally reached our destination. My passengers bid their goodbye and their heartfelt birthday greetings then we headed back to Villamor. Another plane just landed when we got there. We were concerned that volunteers were needed at the grandstand so we headed to the volunteer registration booth to sign up as PFAs while waiting for passengers to be deployed. We got our IDs and headed to the grandstand. However, the DSWD didn’t seem to be in need of our help so we headed back to the Oplan Hatid tent. The bidding started. Our next bid was for Dasmarinas Cavite. Three young teenager siblings. Again, waze destination was wrong. Good thing, Gino knew the area. We passed by a road filled with colorful parols and it was enough to reenergize everyone. We got to Waltermart at around 5am and waited until our passenger’s sundo was able to pick them up. We bid our goodbye then we headed back to Villamor to check if they still needed drivers. It was already 6:30am when we got there. The tent was almost empty except for 2 sets of evacuees. The DSWD asked if we can take two passengers and drop them at the bus station. One was going to Apalit, Pampanga and the other one to Cavite. Gino and Irhys needed to go to work that day so we couldn’t take them to their destination but we were willing to drop them off at the bus station. We drove to Victory Liner, Pasay.  I asked my sister to accompany Kuya Rey to the ticket booth and buy him a ticket since no one sponsored his ticket from Oplan Hatid. Our other passenger and I were left in the car chatting about the destruction that Yolanda brought to Tacloban. He said that his mother and aunt did not want to leave Tacloban and opted to stay at the makeshift house that he built before he left. He was going to ask for help from their relatives and return to his family. It was also sad to discover that the violence against women and children at the aftermath of Yolanda were real. He said it was true that a female doctor was raped and killed in Tacloban and that the prisoner’s were at large. A few minutes later, Gino, Irhys and Rey came back with the news that there were no trips to Apalit in that station. Apalit trips were only being carried out by Victory Liner in Caloocan. I checked my watch. It was almost 7am. I didn’t have any work that day so I told Gino and Irhys I could take Kuya Rey to Caloocan. But they were both quick to say they’d go with me all the way. We loaded Kuya Rey’s luggage again and drove off to Taft to drop our other passenger. He said he was familiar with the place and that he could catch the bus going to his Aunt’s house in Cavite. We bid our goodbyes and then drove off to the now busy roads going to Caloocan. I was starting to get groggy. We reached Caloocan by 8:30AM. After buying Kuya Rey a ticket, we headed back to Makati. EDSA was now at its busiest. Gino and Irhys needed to go to work and I had to renew my license since it was going to expire on that day. We got home by 11am. It was a day well spent and the privilege to help others was enough birthday gift. When we share ourselves with others we always, always get more than what we give.

I was able to renew my license in the afternoon which took me less than 15mins, drive back home, take quick nap, attend mass where Father Apacible told about a loving community being embodied in Villamor and I was happy to be a part of it, drive to Greenbelt, have dinner with my sister who has been awake for 36 hours already—we ate at … dyaran! MAX’s (my other sisters were quite surprised that we were not dining at a fancy restaurant. With everything that just happened it just felt inapt to be spending so much money on food)  and to cap it off,  watch the Hunger Games which ended at 12 midnight.

Before Friday, I disabled wall posts on my FB. I wanted to simplify my birthday this year. In our current social media era, it’s so easy to lose track of which friends are mere acquaintances and those who really care. I’ve always preferred a personal greeting, a personal message, a call, a real communication than mere HBD posts on my wall. It was really heartwarming to receive sincere greetings from family and friends, those who really matter, and from the strangers who were a part of that special day.

With only a few hours of sleep, I had to wake up early the next day for a roadtrip to Baler with Aiza — an epic adventure worth another post.

Irhys, Gino and Me in Villamor, waiting for our passengers. With Aiza in Baler -11.23.13

Irhys, Gino and Me in Villamor, waiting for our passengers. With Aiza in Baler -11.23.13

BIG 3-0!

Late post. I have been contemplating on what to write regarding this epic milestone for weeks already but I still haven’t quite organized my thoughts. There’s just so many things to say. But anyway, here it is, raw and not as eloquent as I wanted to describe everything that happened the previous year.

When I turned 29, I freaked out. I felt such a big pressure in almost turning 30. I felt like I only had a year left to make something out of my life, to make things right and to achieve my dreams or whatever I expected my life to be at 30. My 29th year surprisingly turned out to be the best year of my life, not in the way that I imagined it before but it was a defining year for my faith which definitely gave me the peace of heart and peace of mind. I no longer fear getting older, being 30, 40, being single because the previous year has taught me how to live in the present, how to cherish every moment, how to make my limited time on earth meaningful, how to focus on becoming the best I can be and how to stop being afraid by trusting God.

It has been a defining year because I have finally come to love the person that I am, the person who I have worked hard to be. I no longer question my worth because I have received the only affirmation that really matters and that is from Jesus. I’ve learned to cherish what I have instead of focusing on what is missing and I’ve learned how to be confident in the plan that God has for me. God has been nothing but good to me and He has shown again and again that I am special.

It has been a year of faith, healing and transformation. All thanks to all the people that God has used as an instrument. It has been the best year of my life yet. What better way to end the year and start my 30th year by paying it forward. I spent the eve of my birthday driving Yolanda survivors to their relatives until noon of my birthday and I wouldn’t have chosen any other way to celebrate it. Birthday greetings from strangers and from my closest friends and family were more than enough to make my birthday special.

When we come face to face with our creator, it’s important to understand that it’s not really about how much time we have spent on earth but how much of ourselves we have shared.

Don’t just count the years, make the years worth counting.

Cheers to the BIG 3!