Monthly Archives: June 2011

20 questions a woman should ask herself (question no. 1)

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Instead of staring into space or willing the traffic to move, I bring my pinkpad with me on my everyday commute and listen to podcasts or read books or magazines.

Today, I read the February 2011 edition of O, The Oprah Magazine which was a free download. I especially liked Martha Beck’s column May We Help You? This month’s topic was all about the 20 essential questions every woman should ask herself. Since I’m currently at a ‘confused’ stage, the article caught my attention. Maybe asking the right questions could help me ‘find’ myself and redirect my life appropriately.

Knowing which changes are best for you comes, always, from assessing what you feel. Ask yourself every day.

Yours for the Asking question number 1 is:
“WHAT QUESTIONS SHOULD I BE ASKING MYSELF?
…Without this question, you wouldn’t ask any others, so it gets top billing. It creates an alert, thoughtful mind state, ideal for ferreting out the information you most need in every situation. Ask it frequently.”

I know that my answer to this would be, “What do I really want?” because hubby keeps telling me I should try to discover what I truly want instead of merely saying or recognizing the things I don’t want.

I’m magulo and don’t have concrete plans to get to where I want. And that’s a fact that my husband pointed out to me just the other night. I argued that I do have plans but I need to invest in myself and some capital, which brings me to my other favorite question for the past month: “Bakit hinde ako nananalo sa lotto? Bakit?!!!” (pretty desperately). Anyway, after someone won the 6 55 grand lotto last night, I decided to quit this nonsense dream that I will win the lotto someday. There’s got to be a better way. Hmmm… What are those ways?

I will answer the other questions in the coming days. Hopefully, after I get to question no. 20, I’ll be on my way to a better me. Yet. After all, change never ends.

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a bit scary experience

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Scared myself big time yesterday for almost blacking out while inside the Metro Rail Transit (MRT). I had a bad case of stomach cramps then felt nauseous. My vision became blurry. I was thinking of telling the ladies near me that I was about to faint but I felt I could not trust anybody at that moment, especially because I had pinkpad with me. Haha! The thought of losing consciousness in the company of strangers was not comforting.

Good thing I had a piece of chocolate in my bag. I had fainted a number of times when I was pregnant so somehow the feeling was not new to me. Still, it was a bizarre scary experience. I took a quick bite of the chocolate and prayed so heartily that I will not lost consciousness. I did not black out totally but was fast losing it so I decided to call my hubby on the phone. I felt I was being pulled out of consciousness but I tried hard to reach out to hubby. I was also thinking of the best way to deal with my predicament. Good thing the MRT stopped at Shaw Station. It must have been adrenaline rush because I somehow got off the train even though I could barely see where i’m going. I went to find the guard. He let me sit on the steps of his station and gave me an empty bottle of white flower. Somehow, its smell prevented me from totally fainting. It was empty he said because someone fainted earlier that day. I tried to compose myself for about 15 minutes before braving the MRT again, comforted by the thought that hubby will be waiting for me in Ayala.

Fainting or syncope is a sudden loss of consciousness from lack of blood flow to the brain. I guess my vagus nerve, which connects the digestive system to the brain, got a little too excited and pulled too much blood from my brain. Consequently, my blood pressure went down and I felt faint.

Signs and symptoms of fainting include feeling lightheaded, confusion, nausea, tunnel or blurred vision, sweating, flushed or pale color, feeling hot and trembling or shaking. I must have looked weird because even before I asked for help, the guard was assisting me and trying to keep me cool. In my case, the cause of my fainting I think was my stomach cramps. I also felt a bit of chest pain.

I guess the best thing that I could have done was to just lie down in the MRT and let the fainting spell pass. But I did not feel comfortable doing that. It’s also a blessing that I did not completely black out. I really hope it won’t happen again.

the promise a cloud holds

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I wrote this ‘short story’ some time in high school.

The Promise A Cloud Holds
Lianne Valdez 1998

Intense heat radiated from the sun yet I felt a spine-chilling breeze envelop my whole being. Today’s the 3rd day of the last week of March. Periodical tests were finally over so here I am sitting on a bench under the mahogany tree with mind and body set on some relaxation and idling. Absent-mindedly, I riveted my gaze to the skies up above. My sight lingered there for a moment until it focused on a lone cloud. I was hypnotized by its simple charm and before I knew it, memories of a sweet voice barged in. It was of someone I’ve spent almost all of my time with two long years ago. It was your voice.

“I wish I were a cloud!” was your favorite statement and whenever I gave my negation, you add jokingly, “Don’t you want it? I could watch over you.” You used to walk me home and we spent some time on top of a hill we claimed our own. Under the sky ablaze with bright orange and purple hues, we shared and laughed over silly jokes. We talked about our future until light succumbs to darkness.

We were almost inseparable. You were always the jolly one, very optimistic. You were my constant companion and a very good friend – my light in this bleak world. Of course, we had our own share of misunderstandings. One of which caused most of my bitterness…

It was a day of two years ago when we both flared up. I understood the fact that you were having headaches. What I couldn’t accept was your indifference and coldness towards me. We parted for summer without patching things up. I went to visit a relative for 3 weeks. We never communicated or at least, you didn’t. At that span of time I began to think of you and me and decided to make up with you when I return home. I thought it could wait but I learned the hard way. Time passed by fleetingly and there I was, jumping the last steps to our home, only to be met with a deafening silence. Everyone at home was acting weird. I subconsciously knew what was coming yet I was greatly shocked. I felt numb and oblivious to everything else around me. No tears left my eye. I just stood there – wide-eyed, knees trembling. I knew you were sick but I never thought it would come to this. My mind shouted total indifference.

I stubbornly denied the fact until I saw you in that coffin – calm, composed and achingly handsome. It felt like a dam was opened and reality flowed, almost drowning me. Tears welled and I cried until I was hoarse but it was not enough to exhaust me of my grief and the pain of your loss. What hurts me more is the fact that you were gone without hearing me say “I’m sorry.”

That day and the other days that passed were all a nightmare. I was like a robot – eating, sleeping yet oblivious to everything else around me. I was a living zombie until I finally had the guts to read your very last letter. The end part of it jerked me soul-deep.

No matter what happens, I’ll be a cloud watching and loving you from up above. Please live on.

From that day on, I tried to live back to normal. It was hard but with the help of my family and friends, I somehow made it through. Though whenever I see a cloud, memories of you rushes back to me.

I wiped the tears rolling down my cheeks. I stood up and threw the cloud one last glance. As I opened the school gate, I decided to bury memories of you. It was a difficult decision but if I had to live on, I would have to forget. The clouds will always be there, I don’t want to suffer forever.

Maybe someday, I will come back and reminisce once again thoughts of you. That is, when the pain of your loss no longer brings mist to my eyes.

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the young ‘poet’ in me

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While visiting home briefly for the wake of a dear aunt, I decided to dig up my old journal which contained poems and short stories I conjured in my high school years. I also have one bound collection of my own ‘masterpieces’ aptly titled ‘Thoughts and Memories’. I believe I was a better writer when I was in my teens than I am now.

Browsing through my journal, I read a mixture of poignancy and happiness.
Here’s a sample:

Wanderer

Flowers smiling in the twilight
Brings me pain more intense than night
Blissfulness is a strange word to me,
I’m as melancholic as could be.

Laughter, where can I find you?
You left me forever blue.
A lonely cloud drifted by the breeze –
The rain to pour is my only wish.

I must have been good with words then and such a drama queen. I can’t imagine myself putting together a poem nowadays.

i am a drama queen (a repost)

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For a person like me who has this constant need to reinvent and improve* herself, writing is therapeutic and sharing my thoughts to those who care to read is relieving.

I’ve been gone for a while. Way back, I felt a need to keep my thoughts to myself. I was hurting then and seeing my deepest emotions and bitterness translated into words didn’t help. I didn’t want to expose my broken heart for all the world to see when I was in denial myself.

Between then and now, a lot of things has transpired. God heeded my prayers. I made big decisions and leaps of faith. I quit my first job, fell in love, moved to Ireland, been to Paris. I bought my Imac, met new friends, got lectured by my South African partner, been to the pub (trying to ignore persistent irishmen – i’m not into foreigners), broke up and got together with my boyfriend, tendered my resignation. All of these in the span of one adventurous and refreshing year. Can’t say life is dull at all.

I feel like i’m alice in wonderland. I’m in a twilight zone. Things that happened were too good to be real. It’s like i’m in a vacation and I have a job in the sideline. After more than 6 months in Dublin, I still feel like a tourist. The downside was that my career’s gone down the drain and distance just isn’t easy on lovers.

I’m awakening from a pleasant dream. It’s time to live the real life again. And although it hurts to grow up, the pain is enlightening. Maybe, after a year, i’m a woman who now knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to go for it even if it means giving up some good things.

I am a drama queen and my life is never naught of drama.

Lianne 2007

the roller coaster ride called life

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I have come a long way. There was a time (seems like a hundred years ago) when I wanted to ask God to stop the ride and let me get off. I fervently wished I would drop dead to end my misery. I’m glad I didn’t. I’m truly grateful that I held on and let the bad phase pass. When I look back, I could see clearly that whatever burden I was carrying then was so petty I should be ashamed for almost giving up. But I was barely a teenager at that time and my idea of what is important was limited.
I can’t say that I have truly grown or matured but in a way, I believe that I have gained wisdom through the years. I have not been through catastrophic situations that are ‘Maalala Mo Kaya’ material but I have experienced enough pain and I have scars to show for them. I also know that I have the tendency to be melancholic and make things look a little more dramatic than they truly are. That is the way I cope with life.

Anyway, I don’t mean to present a lonely mood in this blog. I just wanted to share this idea that life is just a cycle – sometimes you’re really way down and sometimes you’re really way up and sometimes life is just a dull lull you can almost go to sleep. Ngork! I had known for a long time that problems and miseries do pass and that the good times always come but that reality still amazes me from time to time. Most of us can think of a situation that we never thought we would ever get through but we did and that at the end of the day, we’re better persons because that not-so-pretty event happened. And for most us, those mind-wrenching, soul-breaking heartbreaks stem from L-O-V-E, love.

Sometime in 2006, in between two love ‘affairs’ of my life (one in which I hurt someone and one in which I was hurt by someone – talk about karma!), i wrote this:

Do you believe in magic? I do. Somehow, time has a way of melting away bitterness for things one can’t have, healing scars for hurts caused by unexpected twists of fate, and giving one a new perspective and fresh hope for the future even with regards to matters of the heart.

I’ve lied to myself for some time. It’s ironic how I bravely admitted to falling out of love but not to faling in love. But I do realize that only with acceptance can I truly move on.

My heart has a mind of its own and like its owner, it’s smart and sensible and smiling, optimistic that as the old year gives in to the new, magic is going to happen and this time, it will be for keeps.

lianne – 27/12/2006

While I was reading this, I couldn’t help but smile and give myself a pat in the back. After all, I was really good in fooling myself, was I not? That entry was bitter (bitter!)…and hopeful at the same time. And I guess it worked because I believed myself and eventually found love again.

It was not an easy struggle. One can never get over a heartbreak without grieving and being bitter and asking the ever-so popular question ‘why’ or if you tend to be more positive, ‘why not?’ over and over again. But I had the sanity to do one right thing and that is to pray. I asked God for forgiveness for hurting someone and forgiveness for hurting myself. I asked God to grant me the strength to accept the things that I can not change. I asked God for world peace (toink!).

He doesn’t grant every prayer and I’ll never know why. All I know is that He granted all my prayers that truly mattered.

After all these years, here’s what I conclude, all I really need is to believe that things happen for a good reason.

And to stop searching for that reason. =D

P.s. This is a repost from a blog in 2007 I already forgot about. Hubby sent me the post.

an embarrassing confession

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I used to join beauty contests. Please don’t laugh. I did!

Yes I had guts, back in the days when shame and pressure of societal expectations were not yet part of my vocabulary, when fear of disappointment and failure were still strangers to me. What a fun opportunity it would be to be a kid again!

During family gatherings, i would volunteer to sing or declaim or dance. I had no shame even though i could not carry a tune. I was blissfully unaware of my lack of talent back then. My relatives adored me for my bravado, or maybe made fun of me? I’m not sure really.

I grew up to be a confident child, what with all those practice and the applause and praises of my family. And then the most embarrassing moment in my life happened – I peed in front of the class! After that unfortunate incident, i was depressed for a while. I would stay awake staring at the ceiling, shedding silent tears, hoping for answers why such an embarrassing experience happened to me. To my young mind, that was the ultimate worst thing that could happen to anyone. I was too embarrassed to go to school so i was absent for days. When i finally mustered to go back, i tried to put on a brave face but somehow i knew deep inside, there was a part of my self-esteem that died with the incident. There i said it, now let’s move on.

Move on? Easier said than done. I wasn’t able to move on for a while until i experienced deeper hurt and pain from failures, disappointments and heart breaks. That’s when i realized, one embarrassing experience does not define who I am and what i would become. I should stop wallowing in self-pity over something that has been done and can not be erased (and maybe already forgotten by most but me). I knew i had forgiven myself only when i could already laugh at the incident.

One good thing that i reaped from that embarrassing experience is this special relationship i have with God. Back when i was ashamed and at a very low point, i sought solace in Him and in writing. I am not religious but i have absolute faith in God’s grace and His unusual way of teaching us life lessons and showing us His unwavering love. He has become an old dear friend.

I would like to believe that I am a better person through that experience, humbled and more empathetic of the pain of others. I try hard not to embarrass another person because i know firsthand what it feels to be shamed and laughed upon. I have also learned to focus on my blessings and the good things that i have in life rather than the bad or sour part.

I have become stronger and grounded, accepting that life is hard and unfair at times. But most of all, i developed a sense of humor and learned to laugh at those many times i make a fool of myself.

“That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” -Friedrich Nietzsche

daydreaming of the beach on a rainy day

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I love the sun, sand and sea and how those elements fuel my imagination.

My fondest memories of summer are those spent in a beach in La Union with relatives. A few grade school summers were spent frolicking under the sun, almost drowning from the huge waves, and running freely barefoot in the sand. I love those carefree times! Sometimes, i wish i were a child again, picking sea shells by the seashore, unmindful of the time or the sun burning my already bronze skin, and dreaming, dreaming of the good things to come.

The beach is still my dream destination. I can’t swim but i love sitting on the sand, reading a good book or hanging out quietly with a loved-one, lulled with serenity by the rhythm of the waves and disposed to quiet reflection. Sunsets are the most amazing thing! Looking at their splendor makes one realize that there really is a powerful God who made things so beautiful and wonderful.

One my dreams is to go on a vacation in a pristine beach with my hubby and son. I imagine how happy my toddler will be! We’ll play in the sand, making sandcastles. We’ll walk by the beach, hand in hand, leaving our footprints in the sand. We’ll waddle in the water and play with the waves. Then at the end of the day, we will watch the sunset together and relish that delicious, glorious moment when the sky becomes ablaze with the color of God’s love… and one feels a weird mixture of intense happiness and pain for being able to share that lovely miracle with the people one loves most.

my money mishaps

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I was never good with money.

I remember when i was a kid, a then-childless aunt would occasionally borrow me. I would sleep over and we’d say the rosary before we go to bed. I knew the rosary by heart then and my auntie would let me lead as we pray for her special intentions.

The best part of being with my auntie was the upgrade in my baon. She used to give me P50, which is more than twice the baon i normally got from my parents. The first time that happened, I felt I won a major prize and went on a spending spree on food, mostly ice cream and soft drinks. The rest of the day, I felt rich and powerful and every now and then bought candy and snacks. I had a smirk on my face I couldn’t erase!

On the way to the tricycle stand after school, I reached into my pocket for my P1.00 fare but alas! I had nothing in my pocket. Not a centavo. Nothing! Nada! How could that have happened? I started the day rich and then suddenly I was penniless? I felt like crying. I almost did. How the hell was I to go home without money for fare?

I felt so desperate at that time. I turned to my cousin for help but all she had was P1.00, just enough for her fare. Our young minds could muster only one solution at that time – we flagged down a tricycle and I sat on her lap the whole trip. We must have been a funny sight! We were the only passengers yet we tried our hardest to occupy space for one person because we can only afford fare for one. The driver was indignant when we handed over our precious P1.00 coin but we didn’t wait for his reaction, we ran as fast as we could and never looked back.

I felt so euphoric in being ‘rich’ that I spent more than what I had. After that humbling experience, one might think that I would have learned my lesson. Not really. I always felt scarcity of money was the problem, not me or my attitude towards it. The mindset was “If I just had more money…. “.

I continued to have financial mishaps through my teenage and working years. I would ask for money from my parents for ‘ghost’ projects so that I can go out with my friends after classes. I remember my first salary was not enough to finance my daily expenses that I had to call my mama every once in a while to ask for money. Eventually, I became financially independent but with the increase in salary came credit cards! What a temptation those small plastic cards were. They thought me how to invest and my ‘investments’ were in the form of stilettos, bags, cellphones, office suits, clothes, facials, salon treatments, etc.

And then i realized i’ve been working for almost a decade and getting old but with nothing to show for it. What a shame! I even had the guts to go jobless for six months!

It is hard and a bit embarrassing to start thinking of managing my finances only at this stage. Of course, i did try to put my finances in order at some sane points in my life but somehow, I always failed.

I am proud to note though that since the start of the year, i have been more prudent in my spending. Reading my husband’s blog and an occasional nudge from him helps. We’ve been saving some money by cooking our baon for lunch instead of buying, and going on runs instead of date-night movies. I also do not frequent shopping malls as much. I have one credit card left which i use only for my online purchases (restricted to apps and digital magazines) and I make sure that I pay my bill asap. I have also made my first mutual fund investment. Yay!

I dream of financial freedom someday. I read somewhere that a long journey starts with one small step. I am not hopeless. I may be a late-bloomer but as they say, it is better late than never. I don’t want to grow old and miserable.

“Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen six, result happiness.
Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds six, result misery.”
– Dickens’ Mr. Micawber

true color

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I love my hubby and his passionate mind, especially his appetite for learning and sharing. Just this morning he tweeted the link on how to find one’s passion by zen habits, as a friend and i were discussing about finding our life’s passion.

Last week, I’ve been intrigued by the November 2010 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine which had the same theme – “What’s your true calling?”.

Earlier tonight, i started reading “Career Match: Connecting Who You Are With What You’ll Love To Do” by Shoya Zichy and Ann Bidou. The purpose of the book is to foster understanding and accepting the dynamics of our own GENUINE style – its unique strengths and weaknesses. It promulgates that it is possible to be the right person doing the right thing in the right place and enjoying it for those who are true to themselves in spite of naysayers, parental expectations and societal pressures.

I’ve finished answering the Color Q Personality Style Self-assessment, a 10-minute self assessment designed to acquaint one with concepts that are applicable to one’s career. It turns out my primary style is Green, my backup style is Gold and i’m an introvert. Not really surprised with the results and i totally agree that as a Green/Gold introvert, i am a curious combination of warmth and reserve. I also no longer regard myself as a weirdo because apparently, people like me need opportunities to spread our creativity and to impact the lives of others. This trait may be the source of my constant longing for higher purpose or deeper meaning. It makes me think i really might make a good teacher or writer.

I’ve only read a few chapters so far and will continue reading it this week. The book does inspire me to try to be true to my nature, “live a meaningful life and improve the world any way i can” just like my fellow Greens – Oprah Winfrey, Mahatma Gandhi and Ralph Waldo!

http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/how-to-find-your-passion.html

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