I’ve been living in my head the past couple of weeks. How is it possible to feel stuck and at the same time feel like you are unwittingly being propelled forward but not on you own volition? Are these the markings of a midlife crisis?
Maybe this is it. Maybe this is why I have been questioning every single life choice I have made for the past 25 years. Thinking about all the times I could have said yes and all the other time I should have said no. Life would have been so different.
Is that what I really want? The notion of overhauling this life that I have that is the cumulative result of all the yes and no decisions I have made in the past? Or do I love this life but I just want to experience some things a little more?
Always wanting more is a natural human reaction to progression. The very tenet of #goals. But is more better? How does one know if what we have is enough? How do we know when to stop when truly, we feel like this is just the beginning? Or how do we know if this is the end – the end product that we have doggedly worked for?
Where do we look for all the answers to these questions? Or will these questions answer themselves as time unravels?
How do I get outside of my head? How do I layout all the jumbled thoughts, hopes, dreams, ambitions, regrets, plans in a strategic and practical way that I can make sense out of all these and put them to good use?
In the meantime, I will stay here. In my head. And try to make sense of all the voices and noises that may or may not be welcome.
Meet my husband Mike. We’ve been married for 10 years. And we’ve been friends for around 15. 131,400 hours is a lot of time to think about a lot of things and process a lot of feelings in a marriage. Love, anger, patience, frustration, boredom, euphoria, life and the number of ways to kill a person. I’m 88.2% joking, by the way.
I’m not going to lie about it. Marriage isn’t what I pictured it out to be. Giant bouquets of long stemmed tulips. Belgian chocolates in fancy boxes with red ribbons. Regular out of town trips to places like Switzerland or Africa. I mean, what can I say, I’m just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to treat her like a sugar baby.
When we were little girls we were told about the grandiosity and the magical things about falling in love. Nobody really ever told us that staying in love is a choice that we have to make every single hour of every single day.
To choose love, over anger. Because he keeps forgetting to clean the bathroom and throw out the trash.
To choose patience , over frustration. Because he always, always chooses to encode in MSWord instead of an Excel file.
To choose to talk (nicely), when you really want to get annulled and want to ship him back to his parents.
Falling in love is easy. Staying in love is another thing. Getting married is easy. Staying married is a challenge.
Here are my top 10 relationship essentials to save your sanity, save your spouse, survive your marriage and choosing love above all else.
Space is sacred – While marriage may all be about choosing to be together, personal space is essential. Space A is literal space: your own corner in the house or your own space for your clothes or your own desk. Space B is figurative space: your me time, your personal downtime, your time away from the spouse. Create your own personal bubble.
Food is always the answer – Also wine. Wine is the answer. When you feel the need to reconnect, go on a date night. Steak and wine dinner dates. Or McDo Cheeseburger and orange juice drive thru. Share and enjoy a meal together. Or a bottle of wine. Just the two of you. Just like before.
Do household chores together – Share bathroom chores, split dishwashing duty, love the laundry. It’s all about equitable contribution.
Support systems are key to sanity and success – Point A: It takes a village to raise children. Point B: Spend time with people who don’t need anything from you and who remind you of who you really are without all your many hats. Support systems are also known as family and friends and friends who you call family.
Keep your money but share what you have – What’s Mike’s is 80% mine and what’s mine is mine. Haha. No seriously, bring what you can to the table but also save some for yourself. Save for a rainy day, or a fancy massage or that nice pair of shoes. Enjoy the fruits of your own labor. You deserve it.
Compromise – Marriage is all about the mutual acceptance of whatever, whenever. Agree to disagree. Give and take. Find the middle ground. Strike a balance. Compromise all the way.
Feed the fantasies – I’m just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to treat her like a sugar baby. Also, be Maria Ozawa (lights off, post partum version) or whatever tickles your fancy, sir, yes, sir.
Talk then act. Say then show. Promise then prove. Now say it all again.
Go to sleep – There’s a saying that goes don’t go to sleep angry. I beg to disagree. Sleep is important. The less sleep you have, the more likely you are to make a poor decision. So for the love of your spouse, go to sleep and talk about it the next day.
EXTRA GRACE REQUIRED – Always extra grace. A little more extra grace. Add a bit more extra grace. Extra patience, extra understanding, extra respect, extra affection, extra trust, extra gratitude, extra romance. Extra grace required always.
It’s the little things that become the big things. When he opens the car door for you. When he lets you sit in the car while he puts the groceries in the trunk. When he orders extra rice even if you say you don’t want extra rice. When he exchanges his grilled porkchop for your baked salmon because you said it tastes it better. When he silently suffers listening to your eclectic playlist of Boyzone, Nine Inch nails and meditation to the sounds of nature. When he sleeps with one pillow so you can sleep with four. When he turns on the car a full 15 minutes before you get in so you won’t complain about the heat. When he fixes your morning coffee because he knows you have a series of meetings. When he offers to put Salonpas on your back because he knows you had a long day. When he sits through the 36th re-run of John Wick because he knows it’s your favourite movie.
We forget the good things that we have going on for us because we think some higher form of happiness can be found somewhere else. When in reality, happiness is in the little things because the little things become the big things.
So here’s to my first husband Mike and the millions of husbands, spouses, partners out there. Cheers to you for staying alive and cheers to us for choosing to stay in love.
How was your January? Me, I hit a rough patch&lost the appreciation for all things good, big&small. Working from home for more than 12 hours a day while simultaneously homeschooling a 3rd grader and babysitting a 3 year old, add in sales targets&account management concerns&reshuffling for our small businesses. I was one exhausted Mama. 😅
My boss encouraged me to change scenery&I was too happy to oblige. I took my work (and my family) out of the house&onto the beach. And what do you know! Spark refueled, reignited& I’m ready and raring to continue my 2021 journey.
Pause. It helps get the creative juices flowing&invokes inspiration. To do better and be better and to do more and be more. You owe this to yourself. Pause.
“Winning the battles within you, is an even greater feat than winning the battles around you.”
I haven’t been the best version of myself the past few weeks. In the past 10 months, while in quarantine and navigating the blurry lines between work and home, I have tried meditation,pilates,aromatherapy,grounding techniques,breathworks to find my center and keep my peace. And I thought I had gotten the hang of things. After the holiday high and with the promise of a brand new year, I got slapped back to harsh reality. I had so successfully convinced myself to see the good in most things…that I kind of completely forgot that not all people live by the same premise. We meet people we don’t share the same values with, who don’t have similar personal and professional ethos that we do. And as coccooned as we’ve become during this pandemic, there are people who will shake us and try to break us and make us question our Why.
In the past 2 weeks that I slid between anger,disappointment,apathy,disbelief,etc. I lost sense of who I really was and why I do what I do. I forgot I was a mom, wife, mentor, friend… I forgot about the good things because I was so consumed by the bad ones… all because some people insist on twisting the truth to fit their own narrative. I forgot that it’s not the circumstance that matters, it’s how we react to it. I forgot that I was me and I had a right to be me. And the me that I had tried so hard to be was just generally a happy, peaceful, non-violent, kumbaya ray of sunshine.😉
Half the battle is with ourselves. So yes, here’s end-of-January 2021 me, trying to bring back the Me that i had worked so hard for in 2020. Cheers to better tomorrows.❤
This is my Dad. His name is Ben. Thus the Ben Lucas Miguel and Ben Markus Mikhael names of my boys. 😆
He used to work as an aeronautical engineer for PAL and Lufthansa. I have many happy memories of free flights and personal tours of airports and airplanes.🤣 One time, when I was 13, he smuggled my sister and I into the airport and into the Mabuhay lounge so I could meet @boyzoneofficial and my pubescent crush @rokeating (pics to follow😂) My dad wasn’t around much because his job took him to many places overseas. Everytime he would come home, my sister and I would always have the latest Archie comics or Walkman or digital diary (I know, stop it) that unpacking his suitcase was an adventure in itself.
In 1998, my Dad was one of the few thousands who lost their jobs because of the recession and I remember him spending days and nights reading through classified ads for a new job. He said in passing and this has always stuck with me: your principles will not put food on the table. Which at that time, struck me as odd. Aren’t you supposed to make your principles the basis of everything that you do? Aahh. What a sheltered, privileged life I lived. As I grew older (and wiser, I pray), the meaning of that sentence evolved too. Just by example, this particular moment in time defined who I will eventually become. Not a a housewife (still a dream though) but an honest, hardworking mama:
Lessons from Dad: 1.) Humility – position and title don’t matter. It’s what you can literally bring to the table that does, at work or at home. 2.) Gratitude – that there are still opportunities instead of none. 3.) Hardwork – will pay off. Perseverance, dedication, an honest job and a whole lot of heart will make you a good provider for your family.
They hired him back but he got a better offer. 😊 He got sick in 2002 and was diagnosed with leukemia and passed away in 2005. It’s been 16 years but I can remember January 12, 2005 like it was yesterday.
For those who still have dads, how lucky you are, so hug them tight. For those whose dads are no longer here, how lucky we are to have them watch over us from heaven. Happy 16th up there, Daddy.❤ i hope I make you proud.
Mama got a little bit sad today. The news about the girl found in the bathtub after a night of partying with friends is the kind of news that no mama should ever get to hear. It made me think about how little time we have left in having you as little boys who we can keep under our watch. Soon enough, you will go out on your own, choose friends of your own, have a life on your own that in many ways do not include us. And it makes me think if we can ever do enough to mold you and shape you and most of all to protect you from all things bad out there in the real world.
Mama’s prayer ever since both of you were in my tummy was always: Mama Mary, please guide, bless and protect my boys and keep an eye on them and keep them away from sickness and harm. You see, way before you were even born, I was already preparing myself for moments that I will have to watch you from afar, watch you walk away and lead a life completely separate from us. I don’t think I can ever prepare enough yet I know those days will soon come. As much as I want to keep you under my watch and under the same roof all the time, I know that would be too selfish of me. I am bringing you up to be independent, adventurous, street-smart men. As the second half of my daily prayers go: I pray that someday my boys grow up to be happy, healthy, extraordinary people who will someday make a positive difference in this world. And I know that in order to bring that prayer into life, I must let you go and let you be. Did you know Mama cried in the car when we first dropped you off in big school? Yes, Mama is a massive (bad word that starts with B) but this massive (bad word that starts with a B and ends with an H) cried watching the video when you first walked (Mama was at work), cried when you said your first words (Mama was at work again), cried when you drew me your first ‘love letter'(Mama was at work but came home to this), cry silently when you give me a hug out of nowhere and just because. So you can imagine how you growing up makes me feel. Mamas can be tough but we’re big piles of fluff and tears when it comes to our babies. I know you will tell me again I am OA but dude, it’s the truth.
My dear boys, Mama won’t always be around to pray for you, to watch over you and to protect you. And while we are still here and we still have the finite (a.k.a limited) time to dictate (a.k.a. tell) you what to do, how to do it, where to go, who to be with, I wish to share with you one of the most magical ‘gifts’ you can forever give yourself: FRIENDS. Friends are family that you get to choose.
You see, friends are the people who will get to share your amazing journey in discovering what you want and who you want to become. You will go on adventures with them, share the same likes and hobbies and things with them (like gaming and music and sports and some other stuff Mama doesn’t understand), they will be the ones you will find so easy to talk to because they will understand you (and know what you’re talking about – like what flexin’ and rage quitting means (!?!?) and who Elias of WWE is (?!?!) and who Lany is (!!!). Sometimes, you meet people you have nothing in common with but they end up making your world so much more colorful and you become friends. From now until a long time from now, you will meet many different kinds of people and many of them will become your ‘friends’. Please take into heart when I say: Friends are family that you get to choose. I pray with all of my heart that you choose people who will love you for who you are and not for what you have or what you can do for them. I pray that you choose people who will in somehow, someway take our place when we are not around: to guide you to choose what is right, to care for you when you are sick and to make you laugh after you cry, to pray for you and with you, to remind you to keep on keeping on and to tell you when you’ve had more than enough, to keep you safe and protect you when your defenses are down, to learn with you and grow with you and most of all, I hope you choose people who will make you feel like you are home at anytime of the day, anywhere in the world. You see, my dear sons, home is not only a house. It’s not the place where we live. Home is where we should feel most comfortable to be our true selves, to not feel afraid, to be safe and to feel at peace. And Mama’s prayers will always be about those: praying you will always find home, and that you will always have guidance and protection and peace of mind surrounded by family and friends you get to call family.
I’ve always believed that in my heyday (like, ew, this makes me sound ancient) wherever I went, whoever I was with and whatever I decided to do, my Mommy has sent her angels ahead to sprinkle my places of travel with her prayers of love and protection and I believe the same. Not all angels come flying in white dresses with wings and shiny bright halos. Sometimes angels are the people you play with during recess, the people who share with you half of their snacks (pre-Covid this was), the people you happen to share a nice song with (like Lil Nas or Dua Lipa who did not turn out to be a boyband – my bad.) Basically ‘angels’ can also be your friends – the people you choose to become part of your life and who choose you to become a part of theirs. My prayers can only do so much, boys, that’s why when you read this, take into heart: Friends are family that you get to choose. Mama and Daddy will not always be around, but we pray that angels keep you safe everyday and always.
We were never really taught about credit and taxes and managing funds in school and what little I knew of it, I kind of picked up from books and magazines and tidbits of overheard adult talk.
I was always amazed at how much power a microchipped piece of plastic can yield. Blinded mostly, by the sheer convenience of just swiping away hard earned salary I literally couldn’t see. There’s a huge difference between paying cold hard cash and paying with a card, and it’s mostly psychological. No money in my wallet, nothing to spend. Simple. Credit card equals “I’ll pay this right after. Will go to the bank. Promise. Wipe this clean next payday.” Etcetera etcetera. The lies I told my 20-something self are now so cringey. 😅
Unless you were born into a family of financial gurus (I wasn’t) or was fortunate enough to be exposed to financial literacy during the developmental ages (nope, not I) or was born with an uncanny knack for math, fund management and self-control (def not me!), well then, my friend, we’re probably on the same boat. 😆
When we’re young and impressionable, we don’t initially pay attention to the interest rates or annual charges or the other details in the fine print. Until we have been sucked into the abysmal world of credit card debt.
At one point, I had 4 credit cards with credit limits exorbitant enough to pay for ten of my neighbors’ children. And as i was young, wild, free and reckless, didn’t really bother much with due dates and what nots. Until the bank and the bank’s collection arm started to bother me with it. Bothered me enough to awaken my financial conscience and take control of my wanton spending. What did I swipe for? Shoes, gadgets, bags. Mostly revolved around those items. Long story short, I slowly paid off my credit cards and stuck with only one.😊
Now, I usually prefer paying with a debit card instead. Or cash. Because out of sight, out of mind (this refers to my virtualy tucked away money, whether I really do have money to spend or not) and tangible money or money I can see/smell/touch, triggers my visual brain that no-money-in-wallet means nothing to pay for my shopping.
So what are the simple steps in saying no way josè to piling up credit card debt?
1. Read the fine print a.k.a. T&C (Terms and Conditions) of the bank. Some banks offer low interests rates and zero annual fees. Collect and select.
2. Be aware of your due dates. Calendarize it. Write it down. Set an alarm. Tell your mother. Do it. Pay on time.
3. Self-control. If you don’t need it, don’t buy it. No Lizette, you don’t need 30 Muji ballpens, 10 notebooks and 5 different sizes of acrylic boxes plus a cute stapler.
4. Use the reward points. Credit card companies usually have marketing promos. “Get a free 2 piece Jollibee chickenjoy meal for every Php5000 single receipt purchase.” Yes! That means that’s one free lunch somewhere in the future. Most people use this feature to redeem miles for their #travelgoals but I’m really just happy with free meals.
5. Relative to #2: Pay on time. And pay in full. If you can. The idea of a credit card is to pay for something in advance. This is where the old adage comes in: Give credit where credit is due. (?!) And when credit is due, pay it pronto. This means you are a responsible, trustworthy adult who has enough discipline to maintain good credit standing in all aspects of the banking universe and with this, you can sleep in restful peace.
6. Relative to #5: If you have current credit card billS, the trick is to pay this off with consistency and persistency. Slowly but surely is the key to success. If you’re a visual person like me, type up or write up your budget and expenses in excel file and use the hoarded multi-colored highlighters and Muji pens to really see where your money goes.
Financial awakening is similar to the process of mourning: Denial (WTF I.do.not.spend.that.much.in.a. month!), Anger (pistingyawaanimalkulerabitok kamahal ba diay!), Bargaining (dear self, if you stop spending, I swear I will…*insert half hearted promise*), Depression (huhuhuhu self pity crying) and then finally, Acceptance and Awareness. And I would like to believe that this is where the real journey towards financial freedom truly begins.
Thank you for taking time to read as I’m really just writing this to remind myself not to repeat my past mistakes. 😇 The road to financial awareness is an interesting, but tough one. If you see me at the mall with my credit card, please approach me and check if the items I’m purchasing are essentials.😅 Catch you on the next installment of #moneymatters 🤗
What is the most useless thing you bought during quarantine?
I bought hair curlers and glass nail files and bags but I have massive hair fall because of stress, super short nails because I can only manicure one hand and hello, I have pretty bags but I have nowhere to go.😅
Coronacoaster has besmirched my better judgements. And ate away my supposed savings with useless things to fill that wide gaping hole caused by missing window shopping, malling and retail therapy.
As I wallow in self abomination at my complete lack of self control, I got to thinking: How prepared are we really for the things we don’t quite expect?
Documenting my journey of shoulda-woulda-coulda’s because someday I want to look back and pat myself at the back for getting over the add-to-cart quarantine addiction.😅
Fun fact: I wanted to become a teacher when I was a kid. I grew up in an academically inclined family, my maternal grandparents were teachers in Masbate, my paternal grandmother was a college librarian, and P.E. teacher, my grandfather worked in the University of the Philippines Cebu College, and my dad was an aeronautical instructor and engineer. I remember receiving lesson planners when I was about 7. Ahahaha! 😂
I will always be thankful for my parents who worked very hard to give me and my sister the opportunity to study in schools that has made all the difference in our lives because of the quality of education, the classmates we have who have turned into friends who we also now consider family, and he overall experience that has shaped us into lean, mean, hustling machines. 😉
Today, I hope to pay it forward by grabbing the opportunity to help other children have a fantastic educational experience.
I came across a Facebook post of a friend asking for help for public school elementary teachers requesting for donations for bondpapers to be used for printing student modules and decided to ask for help from my batchmates and officemates. I thought, if we reach 10 reams of bondpaper, that would be great! Less than two hours later, my friends came through and we were ate 30 reams! This morning I woke up to donations of more than 70 reams of bondpaper! Bless your kind hearts. 🥰 Amazing how collective effort can make a bigger difference!
The focus of of the first virtual Brigada Eskwela is the continued children’s education despite the pandemic we are experiencing. Since many students don’t have gadgets and don’t have access to internet connection, the schools will provide them printed Modules.
One module per student and per subject will be distributed each week and some modules contain 10 to 20 pages each.
One ream of short bondpaper (containing around 500 sheets) costs around 177 Philippine Pesos or around three (3) U.S. dollars.
We all know the government and the schools have budget allocations for these, but wouldn’t we rather actively participate than just sit back and watch? 😉 I’ve always been a believer that a little help goes a long way. I hope you share my sentiments of giving these in good faith and momentarily setting aside our pandemic-induced politicizing. Hahaha. Let’s pay it forward! 🙂
Your donations will be distributed to four (4) teachers from different schools in Cebu. Rest assured, your donations will be properly documented.
If you’re interested to become a Brigada Hero, you can send your donations through:
Aromatherapy has become part of my family’s daily routine. The two essential oil must-haves in our home, and easily the kids favourites, are Lemon and Eucalyptus.
Eucalyptus essential oil when diffused helps relieve respiratory ailments. When one of us feels the onset of stuffy and runny nose, eucalyptus is our go to oil to diffuser. Its properties are also know to help in clearing respiratory tract and stimulation bodily circulation. Its soothing minty aroma helps alleviate stress, irritability and tension at the end of a long day.
Lemon is one of the best selling and most commonly used essential oils simply because of its happy aroma. This is my favourite oil to diffuse in the morning to jumpstart a workday. I use it to help fight off of sleepiness, tiredness, anxiety and depression. There are studies that show that lemon helps with mood and stress regulation. Other uses of lemon essential oils are for skin care (they say it helps with acne!), relieves pain and helps with symptoms of colds.
I haven’t really tried ingesting essential oils and have only routinely used these with a diffuser. We likey the smell of diffused oils when you go inside a room. 🤗 YL has a line called Vitality that you might want to check out if you want your all-natural journey to go up a notch.😉