Rest

At times when work gets too hectically busy, my go-to source of relaxation is a hot tub (mug) of coffee or tea with honey.

I put my pen down, take off my earpods, and head on to the office pantry to fix myself that perfect cup. This seemingly rough patch-free task is sometimes disrupted by an already empty hot water air pot, which I have to re-fill because someone chose not to, and now, I don’t have any choice but to. Once that’s done though, I stand beside the dining table with my favorite pink/green mug filled with my beverage of choice: today, it’s hot tea with honey. 

I do not drink it at the pantry. Instead, I proceed to stand in front of the window behind my desk, always my favorite spot. I draw the blinds just enough to reveal the green pastures and birds waiting to greet me. When I’m lucky, I watch, oftentimes in amazement, how the soft drizzle of rain touches the greens that happily await below. 

No chit-chat. No unnecessary things said or heard. Just me, my mug, and nature – – – the same, only more meaningful, respite from work. ☕

I AM BEAUTIFUL

Dear Doreen:


Yesterday, just as you were about to conclude what was supposed to be a great day, someone ruined it for you, with words that you feel (you believe) although meant to be funny as a joke, were unnecessary, offensive, and hurtful. That person might not have realized it, but her words stabbed you in the gut, quite badly. Her words left you embarrassed, angry, hurt, and worst of all, ashamed of the way you look.

Go ahead. I am allowing you some time to feel the pain. Cry if you must. Let it out, and let it go.

How very timely and apt that you chanced upon an article about someone else’s own struggles and how she lifted herself from such. It gave you some relief and assurance that you are not alone, didn’t it?  You are not the only one who gets undermined for the way you look. You are not the only one who has body issues. Everybody has it. But these so-called body imperfections are what makes you who you are. These imperfections are what makes you, YOU. These imperfections make you beautiful.

Yes, Doreen, you are beautiful. Say it again. You are beautiful. One more time, and this time, mean it. You are beautiful.

Look, I know you’re tired of the hurt, the pain caused by people’s words, expectations, and opinions of you. Stop listening to those that pull you down, and start appreciating yourself for who and what you are. I know it isn’t easy. It never really is, but it is possible — attainable, and you can do it.

Realize and acknowledge that as you go through life, you will still meet more people who will size you up and judge you. Let them. Keep in mind that you can never really please everyone, and you don’t really, actually have to.

Cast away negativity, and keep yourself open to positivity, always.

I love you. ❤️

What It Means To Be Present 

I’m sitting at a Korean chicken place waiting for my takeout. I am surrounded by tables of young students, some women dining alone, and families having their Saturday lunch. I am reminded of those Sundays mom and dad took my siblings and I out for lunch after hearing mass. I used to look forward to weekends because it meant not just a break from school, but more importantly, it’s time spent with family. It’s a time everyone listened to each one’s story, shared on food, and cared for nothing else but having fun. 
My trip down nostalgia is interrupted as I glance around me again. I see other people dining, talking momentarily, but quickly bowing their heads to tinker with their phones. I think maybe if the lights are switched off, and there’s no sunlight coming in from outside, the light from everyone’s phones would be enough to see in the dark. The faint laughter coming from a few tables is overpowered by the deafening music from stereo speakers. The picture I see now is the complete opposite of how it was before. 
Truly, being present is not just being physically there at that moment. To be present is to engage.
*photo borrowed from the internet*

Jitters

Every year since I finished high school, around March and April, I get constantly bothered by an uneasy feeling. I usually get fast and hard thumps on my chest and a troubled tummy. I get anxious, nervous, and fearful that something bad is about to happen even when there’s none. It has become so much of a normalcy that I already have a name for it — “End of the School Year or Graduation Season Woes.”

I finished high school in 1995, but I did not graduate. I studied at a non-graded school, from Kindergarten to Senior High, where students learn and master lessons at their own pace, and unlike other schools, students do not receive numerical grades (during our time, at least), but rather checks (if passed) and squares (if failed).

Unfortunately for me and to make a long sad story short, I was not able to finish all my (graduating) requirements on time and graduate with the rest of the batch because of poor choices and priorities. To make things worse, I kept everything from my parents.

I fooled around instead of prioritizing my studies. I lied to my parents even up to the point when I already knew things had gotten worse, and I already needed (their) help. 

I lied to my parents, humiliated them, and broke their hearts and trust in me.

In order not to repeat my graduating year though and still be able to enrol for freshman college on time, my mom had to practically beg teachers to allow me some time to finish all my requirements. I was given only a week and a half to finish a year’s worth of Physics, Trigonometry, and Geometry. A year’s worth in a week and a half. 

I was dang lucky enough to even be given another chance, so finish, I did. And I was able to enrol for college the same time as everyone else.

Every time I’d share this story, people are left in awe at how I was able to accomplish all those in less than two weeks. What they fail to see though is how and why it had come to that. I fooled around and lied. I chose to have fun and defy my parents. Plain and simple — there’s absolutely nothing amazing about that, at all. And if given the chance, I wouldn’t want to go through it again; I would do things differently. I may have learned lessons from it later on, but the difficulties and hurt I had put my parents in, are totally not worth it.

That’s why, after all these years, I still get these bothersome feelings around graduation season. It reminds me of a time when I was at my most foolish self. It reminds me of a time I hurt the two people, who despite the betrayal and lies, still chose not to leave me alone to deal with the mess I have made for myself, and forgive me for it.

And I guess that’s also why, after all these years, I continue to share this story, not just so that others may somehow learn from it, but also, in the hopes that with every re-telling and sharing of the story, I learn to forgive myself as well.

*Photo borrowed from the internet.

During Ungodly Hours

When my older brother and I were kids, taking afternoon naps was a must. It was part of our daily routine. I never enjoyed them. I just wanted to get my toys and play with my neighbor friends. I always tried to look for an excuse to get out of it. One time, I tried tricking my grandmother that I had already gotten my afternoon nap. I remember scratching my eyes to make it a bit red, messing up my pigtails, and heading downstairs yawning and stretching. My grandmother greeted me with a big smile on her face, and told me to go back to my room and take a nap. I didn’t know that I had only spent a few minutes upstairs, and naturally, all the ‘preparation’ did not fool my grandmother, not one bit. 

As I grew older, I slowly lost the habit. Afternoon naps became a rarity – – – a luxury. An evening’s sleep most often eludes me. Now most of the time, I catch myself thinking about those afternoons I should have spent napping, but dreaded as a kid. 

I should have listened. 
Oh. Coulda. Woulda. Shoulda. Zzz.

Squirrel

Picture this: You’re on your usual quiet morning. It’s 10AM, and you’re already either busy with work or still ogling over the latest news on the internet.

Then in comes one of your workmates. There’s a distance between you and the office entrance, but you’re sure that workmate has arrived because she just greeted the office security with a “Good morning!” at the top of her voice, which reminds you of the same amount of cheer a preschool teacher greets five year olds. Workmate does this to everyone she passes by on her way to her desk — you included, except after she greets you, she lingers by your desk for some chit-chat about her commute to work this morning — every morning, and why she came in late today — and every day. She engages you in a conversation, which you accept out of courtesy because you just don’t have it in you to burst her bubble this early in the day.

Somehow that conversation ends, and she heads on to her desk greeting more people before she finally takes a seat. You, on the other hand, continue on with work (or your browsing), thinking you’re done with her chattiness for now, knowing fully well though, that the day has just begun, and the worst is yet to come.

Sometime in the day, not long after your first encounter, while you have your nose buried in all the paper work, a weird feeling of someone or something hovering over interrupts you. So you slowly, cautiously lift your head to see — there she is, trying to keep herself from giggling — almost as though hovering over you just as you suspected. This creeps you out, and you let her know, but she doesn’t care because she goes on engaging you again on yet another senseless conversation. The conversations are fine, you can probably look past that. Probably. But it’s more than the conversations, it’s the time both of you spend on it; it’s her loud voice —the kind that even her whispers sound like it’s coming from a megaphone; and it’s the animated way she tells her stories — complete with body gestures, yes, body gestures with her arms flying all over the place. It’s a whole show, and it’s a show she enjoys performing in.

This annoys you because although you’re an outgoing person and enjoy the once in a while mingling and socializing, you do value your ‘alone time’. And when it calls for that, you need people to understand, know, recognize, and acknowledge personal boundaries. This one particular workmate though is not capable of that, you feel. You’re tempted, every single time she comes to you, to tell her to back off or at least take a step back, but you don’t because you know it will offend her — terribly.

It’s quite a pickle you’re in, huh? This is your reality every day, at least at work, or when that particular workmate is around.

Your workmate oddly reminds you of a cartoon squirrel. The kind with two large front teeth, always munching on a nut, always lurking around, always with a seemingly crazy annoying smile on her face. And like a cartoon squirrel, oddly too, and admittedly, workmate’s demeanour annoys the heck out of you, but not in the way that would make you want to throw a shoe at her at every single encounter. She’s annoying, but not that annoying.

If you were both cartoon characters, workmate would be Dee-Dee from Dexter’s Laboratory, and you would be Daria (or if Daria’s too much, maybe Eeyore). You’re not just from different cartoons series, but you also do not (and should never be) in the same one. You’re just too opposite; and no, unlike what Paula Adbul believes in, opposites do not always attract.

Actually, come to think of it, in your case, opposites do attract because why else would workmate always ‘squirrel around’ you in the first place, right?

Point is, things — your work world (at least between you and workmate) would be a much better place if workmate just knew where to draw the line and actually acknowledge it.

That, or if you just had more patience in you than you have now. More patience to understand that not everyone’s as introverted as you are. And some people, like workmate, are just naturally harmless squirrels. 



If You Have Nothing Nice To Say…

Mom and I had our haircuts the other day.

While I was having mine, and mom was waiting for me, an elderly lady came in and started chatting up my stylist. When she noticed my very short hair (I now have a pixie with an undercut), she asked my mom, “Lalaki ba yang anak mo?“(Is your child a boy?) To which my mom politely replied, “Ay, babae po.” (Oh no. She’s a girl.) I heard what she asked despite the hair blower practically screaming at my ear, but I just gave her a smile.

When I was done, she sat next to me and promptly told my stylist she wants the same haircut as mine, but also quickly added, “Kasi may nanliligaw sa akin. Para di na niya ako ligawan. Ikaw, hija, hindi ka dapat nagpapagupit ng ganyan. Hindi ka naman pala tomboy. Ganda ka pa naman.” (Because I have a suitor, whom I want to stop pursuing me. You shouldn’t be having your hair cut that way if you want someone to pursue you. It’s a shame because you are pretty and not lesbian. Your hair shouldn’t be that short.)  I was stunned, but I didn’t say anything and just smiled. There are other battles that are more worth winning.

I am very adventurous when it comes to my hair, in fact right now, I am at my shortest cut, but that does not mean I am lesbian. I am straight. I appreciate women, but I like men. I know I don’t even have to declare or explain it. No one has to really, but sometimes, people have to be told. And so what if I am? A difference in preference does not make one less of a person.

We tend to do that, don’t we? We see a man who’s more refined compared to other men, “Bakla yan.” (He’s gay.) We see a woman with short hair, “Tomboy yan.(She’s a lesbian.) We see a person who just doesn’t smile or laugh as much as most of us, “Masama ugali niyan.” (He/She is a rude person.)

We are quick to judge. We are quick to isolate. We are quick to offend. We are quick to hurt. That’s just sad.

Personally, I don’t really care what people think of me.  Everyone is entitled to his opinion anyway. I’d just like to believe I am now wise enough to know that not all opinions are important.