Tuesday, August 16, 2016

WHEN AUGUST COMES, DECEMBER CAN'T BE VERY FAR BEHIND







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A friend called me up on the phone just to say.... "Len, pasko na! Asan na pamasko ko!?" (Christmas is hear! Where's my gift!? ) ... and gave out a huge hearty laugh almost blowing out my eardrums! That's a Pinoy for you! The country is the only country (I think) which runs the longest Christmas celebration on the planet. In fact, check out the malls and you will find (this early) Christmas items and trimmings on sale lining their shelves. Sometimes a Christmas song or two rolls out on their sound system filling up the halls non-stop till your ears drop.
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Since I was a kid I hear of ... Winter Wonderland. I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas, Here Comes Santa Claus, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, Let It Snow ..... Christmas songs from the land of Uncle Sam and winter snow. My favorite? - Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.
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I remember Tagalog Christmas songs, too..... Pasko Na Naman, Pasko Ay Sumapit, Sa Paskong Darating, Pasko Na Sinta Ko, Mano Po Ninong, Paskong Anong Saya. My favorite? - Pasko Na Naman.
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Truthfully, Christmas is my favorite time of the year. Have you noticed that at this time of the year people smile so much more and often --- that people become so much kinder and giving --- that even strangers out on the streets have that happy glint in their eyes --- that streets, buildings, houses are all brightly lighted up with Christmas lights (whether they can afford it or not) --- !!! That everyone and everything is spelled --- g-e-n-e-r-o-s-i-t-y! That's the best part of the season that I love. Everybody is... feels... becomes... so GIVING. So generous!
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Now I won't take any argument about the kind or of reasons for the giving because I don't care. Simply put, I'm just a big sucker for a person who gives and gives...... even if it hurts their pockets, egos, hearts, minds, and time. And I like it best when someone is kind to others by saying the right things not because he or she is smart but because the other person needs to hear kindness and love. It's beautiful to see kindness and generosity in others... and lovely to strive to grow in generosity in our own.
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The idea that you are able to give of your time.. of yourself -- that already is a big deal to me. Though I have been chided plenty of times that I will be disappointed just as much. I know and I have been hurt dozens of times then and now because of generosity under false pretenses. Meaning that the giver cares more about self than about others. It's still the I, ME, MY, and MINE of things that eases quietly or loudly into life and living.. But of course I know that.... we know that, don't we?
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Still that won't change the message of the season, that is... giving and being happy about it.
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The Christmas spirit can be very contagious. Indeed! It's that spirit lovely to see all year round. Maybe we can; it's up to us.
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But of course we all know the main REASON for the season. I'll reserve that for another post.
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Enjoy these times of the maybe slow (oh yes, some people can still be so impatient about this) but the sure unfolding of..... Christmas! God bless you with lovely days and precious memories.

Friday, August 12, 2016

FRIENDS DON'T LEAVE - THEY COME BACK. BY GOD'S DESIGN




 
 
 
 

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A best friend from high school back in Tacloban City sent me a private message here in Facebook. She stumbled on my fb page but was hesitant for a bit quite unsure if I was the girl she once knew. So she cruised down the Photos and saw that picture of my kid brother and his girlfriend. That then sat the wheel in motion of forgotten-friendship-now-found.
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'Forgotten' wasn't really anybody's fault. Life as its nature always takes people away from each other and into different adventures, directions, and pursuits. She had hers and I had mine. The friendship took a backseat as we wrestled with our challenges and with our lives, respectively. But who would think that our paths would cross again several years after.
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As expected, we threw questions back-and-forth at each other.... about family, children, old friends, joys, sadness, travels, frustrations, successes, and every other stuff best friends would talk about. Then she asked me if I was still designing dresses, gowns, particularly. I replied that it had been quite a long time that I hadn't done any. In fact, had forgotten all about it. It was a hobby that was indulged in whenever the mood presented itself or after homework was done with back then. I had also lost my sketches in the big flood which hit the city in that particular year. Everything was swept away or destroyed by the rains, my high school photos included.
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Occasionally though I would take up a pencil and sketch pad and leisurely do a sketch or two in the years that followed. But not as regularly as I should have because life gave me other things to focus on and do.
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She asked.. "Have you some in your file now?"
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"Nowww?... why do you ask" I countered with my interest tweaked.
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"Well, there's an event I'm preparing for and I'm looking for something to wear." "I'd like to see them." she wrote.
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Okayyyy... I'll email them to you." I offered.
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"No! Now. Here in fb." 

Gosh, she hasn't changed a bit. Just like an old song goes.... 'whatever lola wants --- lola gets'.  But other than that she's a darling. And she doesn't mind my writing about it. I even suspect a chuckle or two from her right now.
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So bear with me, folks, just for this post and for my friend. But wait.... I think it would be nice to share the sketches with everybody, too. So here they are.
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By the way, friends don't leave (even if life takes them to America); they just wait for the right time to come back into your life again. By God's design.
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Blessings, everyone!!



Tuesday, August 9, 2016

BOOKS, MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE, ARE YOUR BEST FRIENDS




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A rainy weather doesn't give you much to do if you plan for outdoor activities. But indoors, that's a different thing. I have about a few things lined up for this kind of weather i.e. arrange my closet (which I have been doing for the __th time because I mess it up just as quickly as I arrange it)..... sort through old clothes and move it to the donation box (the kids do the same)..... sew the frazzled seams of my favorite maong shorts..... scrub the bath tub (baking soda is a good cleaner) but I think I will dish this for another time because it's too much effort, so then na-ah to this one..... do some Tai Chi moves in lieu of the regular morning walks...... or clean up the shelves of my small personal library of selected treasured books. All three shelves filled with books I keep coming back to again and again.
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The last item on that list won over the rest, for obvious reasons.
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I love books. Mom's words and my favorite line from her was..... 'You don't stop learning just because you're done with school. Books, more than anything else, are your best friends. It won't let you down.'
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It never has. What classrooms didn't teach me I have learned from books. What teachers failed to expound upon, books gave me its better explanation or version. Confusion, fuzzy principles, insufficient insights were eased up or resolved by the right books on that subject or subjects. And if I wanted to delve deeper into the secrets of the universe certain books easily would take me there. If the what-why-where-when-and-how-or-who of life and living seem like a huge puzzle to me, books would gladly lead me to its understanding and clarity. If I wanted to know my God better to grow my faith, the bible would gently take me there. And if all I ever wanted was to be entertained, there were the word puzzles... adult coloring books... Sudoku... humor books... travel books.. hobby books... and DIY (do it yourself) books.
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Through the ups-and-downs of life's journey books have always kept me company. Mom was right.... "Books, more than anything else, are your best friends. It won't let you down."
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How did I get to be this way? Credit goes to Mom, a teacher by profession; she started us young. Mom would buy us books, picture books when we were kids. We could easily say 'railroad track' and point to its picture while the other kids in nursery were just learning their A-B-C's. (Even before we got into nursery.) As students, we would hie off to the school library at the slightest chance we could get. That love affair with books continued in and through our adult years.
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One love affair that is forever.
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May God bless you with all things good .... and great books to last you a lifetime. 
 
 
 

Saturday, August 6, 2016

YOU MUST AND SHOULD INDULGE YOUR GOD-GIVEN GIFTS OF TALENT - IT'S GIVEN YOU FOR A PURPOSE




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If only to prove my point that you must and should indulge your gift of talent, I am posting here paintings (in watercolor) which I did the past few weeks or so. I am showing you that talent is a gift from a magnificent God who simply wants you to enjoy life through expressions of your heavenly gifts.
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Now this gift which I speak of varies from person to person. Things such as the gifts of song... of writing... of poetry... of dancing... of designing... of needlework.... culinary skills perhaps.... of creative ideas which turn the ordinary into the extraordinary. Or the gifts of leadership... teamwork... compassion... kindness.... vision.... management... teaching.... healing... organization... of being a visionary... an inspiration... an encourager... a brilliant builder.... or being simply a Pollyanna to the world.
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These gifts are not there or given you just for the heck of it. They are given you... or us... to serve a purpose. But I'm not going to tell you what your own purpose is because I think and believe that Somebody up there will lead you to discover it yourself. As He had given me opportunities to discover mine.
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With no formal training in the art, one day several yeas ago I decided to give it a try armed with just a simple desire to paint. My daughter seeing that I had more free time in retirement gave me a huge nudge or push to get things done pronto before and to quote her.... " the desire gets lost or vanishes in thin air." Yeah, it was a push I could no longer ignore. I guess its time had come. And so I did!
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I can't tell you in sufficient words the satisfaction and delight felt in accomplishing something you thought you never knew or had. Through the years that followed paintings in watercolor came out from my first fumbling steps and on to honing my newfound craft while growing too with every canvas finished. And now trying my hand at acrylics. Still so much room to learn and grow... and happily at that. Thank God.
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I urge and encourage you to seek out your gift; it's there waiting to be discovered. When you soon discover your God-given talent, do remember to share the precious moment and experience with us, your friends. We'll be expecting it. :-) God bless you.
 
 
 

Friday, July 15, 2016

IF YOU ARE THE SMARTEST PERSON IN THE ROOM --- YOU ARE IN THE WRONG ROOM



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Tacloban City --- I lived there for some few years with my parents and kid brother in my granny's home. I'd rather call it a house. Granny wasn't the granny people picture grannies to be. She was a mystery to me.... distant, circumspect, and I perceived her to be cold. So I never had that grandmother-granddaughter relationship which I saw in my friends' families. She never made a dent on my young mind back then except that she was cold. So much for granny. I hope she's having a great time up there. Maybe she would finally learn to party with the angels and saints.
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My kid brother was a nerd. Intelligent, even-tempered, good with people, great with books, and with his guitar. He could sing, too. Looking back at it now I think he sounded more like Don Maclean. My fondest memories of him were those times when we would butt heads exchanging facts.. insights.. observations.. opinions.. while doing our homework. Now our house was small that wherever you stood you would have the great advantage of seeing the living room, the kitchen, and the bedroom in one momentous mind-boggling instant. (we lived on the ground-floor) Before they invented the word 'open concept' in interior design, we were living in it with the bare necessities of life.
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But in that precious house and home I had the best moments of my life. And the biggest lesson learned from a mother who had the mind as expansive as the universe and a heart as limitless as deity.
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One evening, my brother and I were at our usual mental butting as we defended our respective turf on subjects which turned incessantly on the I-know-better-than-you wheel. We created quite a rumpus with our voices. Dad, with a knowing look in his eye and a secret smile on his face, simply took his cigarette out to the yard. But Mom, who was cooking my favorite chicken adobo in the kitchen, stopped what she was doing and turned to us with this........
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'I hate noise.. and you two get on my nerves like hell. But.... if that is the price to pay to see you learning. Carry on. Just lower your voices a notch, okay?'   (Spoken in waray, the dialect of Taclobanons)
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And I have never stopped learning hence.
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Love life.. love your home.. love your family.. love learning.
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God bless you, your family, and your home.




Tuesday, July 5, 2016

BE GENTLE AND KIND WITH A CHILD'S HEART




 


Yesterday at dusk, I stood just outside the door of my home wanting some breath of fresh air. But.. Nahh .. not the slightest breeze at all. So I turned to go back into the house when suddenly a child's crying pierced the humid air from out on the street. I went to the patio to see who it was. It was easy from there because I wouldn't be so visible to whoever was passing through. Yup, 'twas a child of about five or six being towed by her mother who appeared flustered by it all.

Mother: (Tersely) Tara na. Uwi na tayo!
---- (Come! Let's go home.)


Child: (Crying) Yokooo! Sabi mo punta tayo Jollibee..
----- (No-ooo! You said we'd go to Jollibee.) 


Mother: (Angry) May gagawin pa ako sa bahay. Tara na!
----- (Got work to do. Let's go!)


Child: (in between sobs) Sabi mo kakain tayo ng spaghetti...
----- (You promised me spaghetti!)


Mother: Hay naku! Tara na! Dali-iii!
----- (Hurry up! Let's go!)

That made me think.......

The scene broke my heart. Little children have simple hopes... simple hearts. They trust fully.. completely. They cling to every word spoken to them... good or bad. They hung up their own tiny world on it. Be careful what you speak or promise to them. It is easy to make them happy as it is easy to break their hearts.

In some measure it is the same in the adult world. Through the years many have made promises to me, many kept it, many did not. Happy over those kept, sad for those which failed. But Mom, as always, would assuage my disappointment with -------- 'Do not hung up plans, hopes, or dreams on others. They have their own way of doing things or looking at things. It may not always jive with yours. So learn, too, not to make promises you cannot keep. Always be kind.' ........ And I listened to Mom, because I knew how it felt to have a broken heart, too.

Looking back at that child, she cried as her little gentle heart broke over a broken promise. But there was nothing she could do. She was just a child. But I think that when she grows up she would be careful with words... promises. Lesson learned.

Take care please. Be gentle and kind with your children.
May God bless you and your family.



Friday, June 24, 2016

AT SEVENTY -- MADE ME THINK





 




70. Seventy. What does that mean to me? Plenty. Have celebrated my seventieth birthday two days ago with my daughters springing a surprise party. Indeed a huge surprise because I wasn't expecting one But there it was... and another gold nugget added to my treasure chest of golden memories.

Made me think.....

The past is no longer useful to me. It's done its work in my life. Mistakes made. Lessons learned. With that there no longer lies a reason to hold on to what was or what had been. Even those wonderful times that filled my cup full and even took it running over the brim. It had made its mark on me, left its imprints on my mind, heart, and body. I am its creation.

The future holds no more promises. Well, not the kind when I was 20 or 24. It's more settled and defined now. The landscape, blurry and fussy before, is much clearer as I view it with eyes wide open. I can see both the forest and the trees. I can see the journey and the road.

But.. the present. This is where life is!

The present moment allows you to be who you are... pulsatingly alive in mind and heart. Perhaps the body will, too, but understandingly will be forgiven if unable to catch up.

One may chase rainbows and moonbeams in his mind and 'catch a falling star and put it in your pocket'.. (as an old song goes).. 'and never let it fade away'. One may gallop down the full spectrum of emotions... happy, ecstatic, sad, lonely, angry, morose, or just down right silly. Who cares?!! It's life! One is given just that moment to live it. So live it!

This is where I am me now. No more 'I-should-do-this-because' ...or... 'what-would-they-think-if-I-did'. This is where I connect deeply with the wind in my hair, the sun in my face, the wild chirping of birds in my ear, the enjoyment of gazing at starry nights, watching flowers a-bloom down the meadows bathed in color and beauty. Savoring. Relishing. Enjoying. Liking. Faltering and stumbling but Loving it all just the same!!

What a lovely place, time, and moment to be! Thank God for 70!
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Monday, June 20, 2016

AT WHATEVER YOUR AGE ALWAYS BE KIND



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My daughter and I were walking out to the main street to get a ride to the mall, on an errand... when two ladies hurriedly walked past us. One looking in her twenties and the other apparently thrice her age. Overheard this.....

Young girl: "Bilis-bilisan nyo naman, nay. Ang kupad-kupad nyong maglakad!" (Walk faster, will yuh, mom? You're so slow!"

Old lady: "Eto nga, anak, mabilis na nga." "Doing my best."

Although the younger one showed such insensitivity to her aging mother, let's withhold judgement there because we do not know their stories. Or maybe they really have to hurry to catch up on something important. But I did form an unpleasant impression of that young girl in my mind. I was seething with anger, in fact.

But it made me think.....

On other occasions have I heard of similar words by the young. Sometimes even said in banter to and with their friends. Words such as......

"Para kang matanda; ang kulit-kulit mo ah!" (You're so annoying, like an old person!"

"Ang malilimutin mo naman. Para kang tanda." (You're so forgetful, just like an oldie!"

"Ano ba! Balat-sibuyas.. para kang lola." (Overly sensitive bloke! Just like granny."

"Ano ba! Dali mong matapilok. Tanda mo na ba!?" (Missed your step again! Are you that old!?)

That sounds so mean, harsh, and inconsiderate, even if it be true... or it be a joke. Sure older people can be ofttimes forgetful, repetitively annoying, and buckle down easily in their steps. But that is just the natural course of age and aging. We all know that. It's as normal as eating pizza pie. So why be mean about it just because in their company you would have to slow down or unwillingly rethink the usual things you would be doing in your own 'young' time, space, and world.

Let's nudge your memory a bit, young lady.....

Do you remember when your mom would patiently guide you through your first baby steps?  Or those long sleepless nights she spends by your bedside when you were sick?  Or those times when she listens attentively and patiently to your rambling mumbling incoherent stories?  Or those times when you stumbled and fell but she was quicker at catching you... every time?

This I have learned...... Life is not all about you. When you're done growing up (the time when everything is indeed about you), then it becomes time to think of others, too. Even care for them, serve, shield or protect, encourage or inspire them, maybe teach them too. In fact, if you have learned your lessons well you do all of those things alongside growing up.

Most importantly, at whatever your age --- always... "Be kind."

God bless you with everything good.





Friday, June 17, 2016

WORDS ARE POWERFUL




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This line from a quote may come across as somewhat stern (medyo taray) to some. But I think that's not the intention. It's more of real good simple truth.

To quote:
"I am responsible only for what I say not for what you understand."    --Unknown.

We never can read a person's mind, no matter how close that person is to us. The mind is a mystery and always will be. So is the heart.
So then when I say things or write my thoughts down, I do not expect listeners or readers to see it or understand it the way I would want it understood. Oh but some do and I consider it such a blessing and appreciate it much. But also some won't or can't or will not. Still good, I respect the differences of our respective histories and nature. People are as different as the wide range of colors in the color spectrum. That makes it even more interesting. We may be looking at the same thing but when you may be seeing flowers I may be seeing its leaves instead -- or maybe you see some good where I can see only utter bad, and vice versa.

But I am responsible for what I say or write. I should be careful that whatever is said or written would not in any way be damaging to another person's personal growth or well-being…..… Would not detract from the beauty of his god-given nature and soul…..… Would not diminish his self-worth…..… Would give credit where credit is due…..… and would not feed his fears, doubts, frustrations, or even bias.

Instead in great measure allow for his greater potential and possibilities to shine through and out to the world…..…. To perhaps help sweep away the cobwebs of his mind and help ease confusion and self-doubt…..…. To help understand the good and the bad that comes with life and living…..…. To help understand human flaws and imperfections and that God’s work in us isn’t finished yet…..…. Better yet to help clear his way or nudge him gently along the path of his own life journey, by God's design.

That's quite a tall order, right? But Mom would simply say to that…... "Better trying than not trying at all.  Remember to be kind.”  Yes, Mom! I hear you loud and clear.

I see it that we all are travel companions regardless of gender, color, culture, ability, talent, education, belief or temperament, creed or personal history. You are my brother or sister - equals in this common journey we call life.

It is a privilege and pleasure to travel this same road with you.

Here’s a wish and prayer that you and your loved ones be blessed with huge portions of blessings from above. God bless you!



 

Thursday, June 2, 2016

I AM EVEN MORE





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While sorting through my old stuff meaning to throw away those no longer needed, I stumbled on a piece of paper which was apparently creased badly like somebody meant to throw it away but changed his mind. It was typewritten. Well, I brought it out to the table and began to read it.....
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I am even more.

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Life has been tough. A roller coaster ride through hills, mountains,
and valleys. I had been bombarded with cares and woes that I've lost
count on my fingers, toes included.
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I've lost chances. Plenty of them which could have made my life
different. I've lost people too which could have lent my existence
some joy and fun.
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I have faltered, stumbled, and fallen a dozen times. All different
from the other, not the same, but I soon discovered that everything
served the same goal of my learning.
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I fumed, cried buckets, felt sorry over lost chances, and regretted
mistakes. Many things angered me, and many more succeeded to break my heart.
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BUT..... I have realized that I can't fix everything even if I wanted to or no matter how I try. Strange but some things sorted themselves out. Divine intervention some would say. That then saved me a lot of 'huffin-and-puffin' just to bring the bad ones down. A good number I figured out myself, fortunately. Yet some do not disappear and simply stick out like a sore thorn on the side. You just have to learn to live with it. I learned that, too.
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Bruised and scarred by my own battles, (life is indeed tough, amigo)
and yet here I am. Still standing. Because I have learned that I am
even more. So much more.
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Somebody up there must be smiling. I guess HE meant it that way. And you know what... I'm glad that HE did. Thank you!
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Heyy.. that's my story! :-) I think it's everybody's story, too. You are even more. If you do not know it yet..... let me say this again --- You are so much more!
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God bless you
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