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.


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.

Shoe Boxes

Since I was a kid, I kept shoeboxes of my ‘stuff’. Photos, memorabilia,  letters, small gifts, anything that meant something or made me remember something and things that were too cute to throw away. I always had these shoeboxes. Even when I moved away from home and lived with my sister, I carried with me the shoeboxes. When the shoeboxes got too old, tattered and ugly, I would replace them with newer ones. Sometimes, I would clean up the boxes, throw away things that didn’t mean anything anymore but I always carried them wherever I moved to.

These shoeboxes are a part of me. They hold the memories that gets pushed away through the passing of years. Opening them is like opening a journal that was written years ago. Rereading old letters, going through old photos, browsing through things that were long forgotten would always always make me smile. It reminded me of how silly I used to be and how complicated growing up could be.

The other day, I sat at a cafe with someone who used to be one of my best friends. The hours went by with me trying to hold back tears and spilling tears, hearing words that were like daggers to my heart, and all the while my heart was screaming “No. You are so wrong.” I could not understand how she could think that I betrayed her.  I was still weeping while I drove back to the office. What happened  felt unreal and vague at the same time. I left the cafe knowing that the friendship we had was lost.

That afternoon, I decided to put the morning’s event in a box and I stowed it away. Our emotions are very powerful. A person gripped with anger and grief can easily twist a story into something as ugly as what they are feeling. I realized that everytime I replayed the words that I heard that morning, it burned a different emotion which I recognized could easily turn from defense to anger. I just wanted to forget it so I put it in a box. I could always choose to open the box again but at this point, it won’t do any good. I hope someday that girl in the cafe and I could both open the box and laugh at how ridiculous it was.

I know it would take some time for her to heal. I’m not expecting a reconciliation very soon but I’m not losing hope. For now, it’s enough that I found out her reasons. I hope someday she will realize that I never betrayed her.

We could always choose to revisit a painful memory, replay it over and over until it gets uglier than it really is or choose to put them in a box and stow it away.

“The soul always knows what to do to heal itself. The challenge is how to silence the mind.” – Caroline Myss

Borrowed People

“People come into your life for a reason, a season and a lifetime”

It is a ridiculous, sad part of life that there are certain people who are meant to be in our life for only a season. They are the people whom we wish we could keep forever or thought of keeping forever but for some reason: they drifted, walked away, changed or were too far away. And that’s the sad thing about friendship, when people walk away you let them. There’s no holding-on-fighting-for bullcrap that goes on with romantic relationships. When a friend walks away, you let them because you know that it was their decision. Friendship is simple. It’s either you stay or you don’t. There’s no grey area in between. There’s no uncertainty of feelings.

I could count a few people who I thought were going to be lifetime friends and there are those people I met who I wish I could keep as lifetime friends. But … as what I was saying… the universe shifted and well the seasons changed and the season for them to be in my life ended. Some stayed longer than the others, some just for a very short time but all the seasons I spent with them brought extreme joy and happiness.

2000: It was the first few days of my life in college. I sat in my chair, bent over, filling up some form.  “Pareho kayo ng birthday ng bestfriend ko”. a girl declared. I looked up to see her beaming at me. Four years later, we were both standing infront of the panel, wearing our navy blue suits and confidently defending our “so-called” thesis. She was the same girl who drove me every day to the review center, a few months after graduation and the one who sat next to me on my first job hunting exam. She was the same girl I watched get broken, years later. The last thing I expected was for us to be in the state we are now. We have probably lost each other.

2008: It was my last night in Shenzhen. I stood outside some bar bidding goodbye to the people whom I became friends with in the one month that I stayed there. I was crying. Thanks to social networking I didn’t feel alone in a foreign country. In fact, it was one of the happiest months of my life. Two years later, I was back in SZ and my friends were still there. We all changed within those two years but they remained to be my SZ friends. But the season is over. Everybody moved somewhere and created new lives. When I go back to that country, they won’t be there anymore.

2010: It is the year I’ve built new friendships with people in the running community. It’s the year I met awesome friends. And just like the others, the season has ended. Some moved out of the country while some moved to a different community and some changed preference of social hangouts.

I think it’s part of growing up and getting older. It’s part of the losing and gaining scheme of the universe. Some people may have left or walked away but some will surely pass by again. And those who have left, those whose season ended–I’m sure God lent them to someone else so they can be the friend they were to me, so they can share the same joy they’ve showered me.

And just as Isa Garcia wrote, “”But for all its messiness, I think that friendship persists. In a photograph. Or an old story. In memories that can’t be snatched or taken away……..I do believe that our history will always keep us bound. I believe that we will always be able to use it to find our way back to one another when we need; that it will be more than enough to bridge the gap. “

A Tribute to the NFFs

She was in a green blouse and a black skirt. She was pretty.  A lot of runners were gathered around the table in their non-running attires, some meeting for the first time and some were already regular acquaintances. I sat beside the girl in the green blouse and we started to chat. I don’t remember what it was about but I remember I had lots of photos with this pretty girl and me with the yagit clothes and bulging eyebags.

Later on that same night, a cute girl with the cute bangs and her DJ friend joins us. I don’t really remember anything about her. It was a very brief meeting. A few weeks later, she approaches me after the first ANR session. She asks me where me and my friends were going to have dinner. Being my ahem friendly self, I invited her to join us. However, she wasn’t able to make it because the guy she was carpooling with wanted to go home already (*rolls eyes* to the guy).

A few weeks later, we were drinking beer and eating enchiladas at Jalapeno, talking about our most recent heart misfortunes. We had something in common. We all had “bastards” to talk about.

Probably, I won’t be able to enumerate and recount all our great memories. It’s less than 2 years worth of them but it has been two of the greatest years of my life because they were there.

Irene’s leaving for overseas soon. Apple has been very very very busy since the end of last year. Looking back through our old photos and conversations brought back gazillion of memories and it showed me how far we’ve come.

Funny, how we never get used to people leaving.

However, there’s comfort in believing that no matter how long we won’t see each other, or talk as much as we used to, or hangout like we used to, I know our friendship will always be there.

Parang highschool lang.. but I guess these are one of the things we never outgrow.

Cheers to my NFFs!

This one is for you.

Closing Chapters

They say that what we regret the most are the things we didn’t do and the words that haunt us the most are the words we didn’t say.

I finally understood how important it is to close our chapters in the best possible way we can—to transition to the next chapter and stop rereading the previous one.

At the beginning of this year, I knew that I have moved on past the pain and transitioned to the acceptance phase. However,  friendship remained to be a painful  and unwelcome idea…until I saw you a few days ago. We have only exchanged a few smiles but seeing you again washed away the remaining bitterness of a painful past.  I realized that I no longer felt threatened about the idea of becoming friends.

I typed a quick hello hoping that we were both on the same page already, hoping that my intentions were regarded as how I wanted it to be.

Between our random exchanges, these were the words that took me by surprise. I was unsure what it meant but I knew that to me, it was a distant memory.

“It’s been a while but it feels like yesterday. I want to talk to you in person soon.”

“Ok. Pero walang drama ha? “ I replied trying to lighten the mood, knowing that soon was a very relative word.

I have learned some time ago that SOON can mean today, tomorrow, a few days or months from now and sometimes it can also mean never. I don’t know if we’ll ever get the chance to talk again but I’d like to picture that day as something like this.

I’d walk inside the café and find you sitting at a corner table, probably fiddling with your blackberry. It would be a bright, sunny afternoon in a warm, cozy place—my favorite setting. You would see me and you would smile. I would smile. You will look happy and so would I. No more of those somber, uncomfortable, emotional atmospheres that we frequented some time ago.

I will sit down and we’ll take our orders. You would ask me “how are you?” and I would sincerely answer it “Great!” as you would when I would ask you the same question. That would be how I want you to be. You would sigh just like how our conversations started before but it won’t be followed by your brows furrowing into a worried look like you are about to say something dreadful. Instead, you would speak about how great things are going.

You would talk about your new job and it would be good, as I hope it would be. You would recount the great adventures and misadventures of your passion. We would laugh easily like we used to. I would talk about my same old boring job, about our friends, about my plans for the future. You would talk about your plans for the future with a smile in your eyes.

Then you would slowly speak out the words you would have wanted to say a long time ago. You would look somber about having hurt me before and the possibility of hurting me again. I would take your hand, look into your eyes and smile. I will say “It’s okay. It doesn’t hurt anymore.” I would want you to know that I have really forgiven you. I would want you to rid yourself of the guilt. I would want you to move on as I already have.

I would tell you how I want our final meeting to be something which will allow us to move forward without regrets weighing on our decisions. I would hope that you would have forgotten those ‘somedays and what ifs’ because I want you to live your life and be happy with what you have chosen. I’ve said those words so many times before but I would mean it more this time, without secretly wishing that you would choose me. I will tell you that I have long accepted that we were not meant to be together. I will smile and tell you of my hopes about finding the one and you would smile and wish me the same.

I would not want to hear that you have made your decision based on obligation. I would want you to tell me that you have wholeheartedly chosen her because you realized that you didn’t want to lose her and that you are still in love with her. That would have been the fair choice. That would have been the manly choice. That would have meant you had enough courage to stand up for what you want in life. That’s what I would’ve wanted for you, to have found the courage to live the life you dream of. That would keep me in peace knowing you are going to live your life happily.

And when it’s time to say goodbye, we will hug each other and smile, instead of cry. We will smile because we have finally closed a chapter in the best possible way we can. There will be no tears, no regrets, only memories and lessons learned. I would tell you that I am no longer afraid to love again because I know that I am capable of healing and forgiving and that pain is temporary.

We would wave with a smile, knowing that wherever life leads us, we are going to be okay.

We would walk out of that place wiser, stronger, a better person with more love and compassion for ourselves than we had when we walked in.

That would be how I want our chapter to end.

Forgiving is not only forgetting the pain. It is extending compassion to the person who has hurt us. It is wishing the other person good despite the circumstance they have thrown upon us. We should always come out of our pain as a better person.

Something About My Family

Hello, readers! It’s been a while since my last substantial post. Blame it on laziness and lack of inspiration.

Something really struck me today. It was a line from Isa’s blogpost that says “Tell me about who you’d call if it was your last hour on Earth”. I paused for a moment and thought about my mom, then my dad, then my sisters. Just thinking about the possibility of a last conversation with them made me a bit teary eyed. I reached for my phone and sent mom and dad an “i love you” message. Growing up, we weren’t really the “iloveyou” kind of family. It was only after we graduated from college that we started being more verbal and showy. I guess it’s part of getting old, realizing that we can’t keep our loved ones forever, forgiving and understanding our parents and stripping away that rebel part of ourselves.

Sometimes, I look back at my young self and wish she was more mature, more understanding, more forgiving but then I look at myself now and smile at how much I have grown and have become a better person. I guess this is the age where you say “Mom, you are right. Mom, I don’t want to lose you.” I can’t describe how much pride I have for my mom and dad for raising 5 children and holding their marriage together.

It was a scratch and scrape for my parents to send all of their children to a private school. We used to live in a really small house. Me and my 3 sisters were all crammed in a small room with two bunk beds. My brother had his own room at the basement, one of which smelled like burnt lead and smoldering socks. We moved to the bigger house (beside our old small house) when I started college. It was a house that took 10 years for my dad to build. The cool thing is that it’s got rollers, something that supposedly lessens the impact of an earthquake. That is the bonus of having a Civil Engineer for a dad. I think it was living in a small house and sleeping in a single room that made me and my sisters the best of friends. Sure, we had those cat fights when we were young. There was a time when I made my sister’s nose bleed, a time when we threw anything at each other, a time when my sister chased me with a knife but we outgrew those and became what we are now.

My parents thought us to be thrifty. Our family did not invest on material things. We grew up with a single TV, no family computer (we just borrowed it from our cousins), a black and white VHS player which was given as a gift, no components, etc. Nothing of those. The only thing my parents saw to it was that we never got hungry. The only luxury they provided was dining out every Sunday, after mass. I think that is the biggest lesson my parents taught us, how to value the time spent as a family, more than anything.

We weren’t perfect. My parents did not have a perfect marriage. We’ve seen them at their worst. My dad crying to us must have been the most heartbreaking thing I’ve seen. This was back when I was in high school. He cried about how his children seemed to love their mother more than their father. I’ve seen my mom cry many times but to see my dad crumble was something else. My dad was a very strict and stern-looking man, a figure me and my siblings were afraid of. Due to his work, there were times when he was seldom home. His projects were mostly out of town so we got used to seeing him less. None of us was a daddy’s girl, sad as it is. He wasn’t a showy man but he loved his family quietly by providing well. There were times when I wished I had a different father, a cool dad or something. I remember hating him for a time. It was only after college that I learned to forgive him and love him for the person that he is. He is not only my father but he is also his own person. I’ve heard my mom say several times that she was staying only because of her children, because of us. But that was a long time ago. I’m just really glad that they’re still together and I think they have grown to love each other more over the years. I can see it now. It’s quite comforting to know they still have each other, now that all their children moved out, all grown up. I can see how much they’re afraid of losing each other at this point.

Just relieving all of these fragments of my childhood makes me feel so so much blessed. I was blessed with an imperfectly beautiful family, one that I am proud of.

Last month our complete family headed to the beach. It was something we haven’t done in over a decade. While we were having our afternoon merienda of spaghetti and grilled fish, 4 women selling lobsters came over to us. My mother and brother in law tried to bargain but the women were firm with their price. Then, they asked for some spaghetti in exchange of a kilo of lobster. While my mom was handing over the plates of spaghetti to them, the woman who was carrying the pale of lobsters walked out and headed to the shore. My mom was a little annoyed that they committed to give some lobsters but walked out after taking the spaghetti. Then my brother calmly said, “Hayaan mo na sila. At least hindi tayo ang nanlilimos ng pagkain.” (Let them be. At least we’re not the ones begging for food.) To which my father voiced his agreement.  

how cute