Sunday, March 27, 2005
Thea first sketched this on paper from her own imagination, then scanned the sketch, and filled in the colors and the highlights using Corel. Tala means "stalking wolf", according to her, when I commented that it means "star" in Filipino Tagalog.
She's into pets now, particularly dogs. Check out her own self-created website/forum!
She is only 12 years old. She wants to be a computer animation artist, or one of those heroine character players at Disneyworld. : )
Friday, March 25, 2005
so i spell it for her: I-L-O-V-E-Y-O-U
she sighed, "why does it take so long when it's so easy to say?"
i stop to think. hmmm...
"because 'love' is the longest word, darling. it has four letters. next comes 'you', which has three letters."
she pauses too, with the butt tip of her red crayon on her chin, 'so 'I' is easy. but 'Love' and 'You' take a really long time!"
you got it right, baby.
Wednesday, March 23, 2005
i started my vacation on the right foot. : ) i woke up at 6am today and went out for my long walk, which i haven't done for the last month! the two small kids were with me and they enjoyed running around and playing in the grass and picking flowers while i walked briskly and enjoyed the early morning breeze and light sunshine. then i took them to Jollibee (our local McDonald's here, even bigger than McDonald's on a per country basis!) for breakfast, after which paolo asked to be dropped off at his cousins' to spend the day playing with my sisters' children.
bea is now enjoying "Dora, The Explorer" on tv while i just finished showering. i have my work planned out for today -- a second visit to the ob-gyne for my annual pap smear results, my annual prophylaxis with the dentist, and my monthly facial at the skin care salon, in addition to cleaning out my closet, my bookshelves and organizing my paperwork. with all these done today and tomorrow (at the latest), i'm off to a good, relaxing and enriching summer and i can't wait!
what makes me particularly excited about summer is my summer reading list. our university library had a book sale yesterday and i ogled all the old and new books available for bargain sale. finally, i bought the following at only 50 to 80 pesos (50 to 75 cents) each!
take a look at the titles and the blurbs:
1. Lives of Our Own-- Secrets of Salty Old Women, by Caroline Bird, Houghton-Mifflin, 1995. "In this groundbreaking book, Caroline reports on the hitherto undocumented world of lively, productive, independent women who are inventing satisfying new lives for themselves, mostly after spending years in the traditional roles of wives and mothers." (although the book is about 55-something plus women, i certainly feel like the women described right now!)
2. Fire in the Belly--On Being A Man, by Sam Keen, Bantam, 1991. "With traditional notions of manhood under attack, today's men (and women) are looking for a new vision of masculinity. ... It begins with a frank discussion of men's unconscious bondage to Woman (not a woman), to the primal power that women wield over men. Only when men begin to learn the uniquely male mysteries can they go on to build nurturing, satisfying relationships with each other, with a mate and with a family." (so i can understand better how it is from The Other Side, and help "train" my men friends... until i get to My Man... heeheehee)
3. George Eliot: Voice of A Century, A Biography, by Frederick R. Karl, W. W. Norton, 1995. "Eliot, torn within by the contradictions between the desire to conserve the past and yet to change the limitations imposed by class and gender, proves to be a fascinating individual ..." (well, i think the reason for my choice is obvious. it strikes a chord within, and im hoping that by reading the book, i'll be provided with my own clearer roadmap in my own journey and blossoming as a woman, a writer, and a human being...)
4. Conversations with Maya Angelou, edited by Jeffrey M. Elliot, University Press of Mississipi, 1989. what hooked me was this blurb: "(Maya Angelou's) rhythmic, spellbinding cadence quickly draws you into her confidence as this admirably defiant artist tells you about her bewildering childhood... about black identity and self-image, about her romantic imagination ... about her personal commitment to the Civil Rights Movement, and about her rejection of all things that are negative." (sounds like me in that last part!!!)
5. Letters to Sartre:Simone de Beauvoir, translated and edited by Quentin Hoare, Little, Brown and Co., 1992. no need for a blurb. Simone de Beauvoir has been one of my personal heroines ever since i read her autobiography when i was only 17.
then, too, there are my two borrowed books from the library, borrowed since october of last year yet, which i only kept renewing but never managed to start reading:
1. Women, Sex and Addiction, A Search for Love and Power, by Charlotte Davis Kasl, PhD, Ticknor and Fields, 1989. " With this wise, compassionate book, women will learn to experience their sexuality as a source of love and positive power, and sex as an expression that honors the soul as well as the body."
2. Magdalena, The Sinner, A Novel, by Lilian Faschinger, Harper Collins, 1997. "One of the most original and controversial books to recently come out of Europe, Lilian Faschinger's Magdalena, The Sinner presents a headlong collision between eroticism and religion, men and women, freedom and conformity."
needless to say, for those who already know me and where i've been, the last two books reflect my state of mind since october, and the state of my concerns--exploring my sensuality and sexuality responsibly and with integrity, even as i grow to sexual and further emotional maturity...
notice a running theme through all the books? : )
i guess you can say that my summer reading list is my self-designed syllabus for growth.
mmmm... imagine the woman i would be after two months!!!
Sunday, March 20, 2005
he said it was a nice way of looking at it, but i hope he doesn't think im just being breezily witty, trying to cheer him up. it's actually another personal theory i have, when things don't work out for me.
when things don't work out, although im disappointed, i can also see why it didn't work out, especially what i didn't like, that made me say "NO", whether in words or actions.
so as not to dwell on self-esteem bashing, i focus instead on what i learned from what didn't work out, and basically it's a lesson on what i don't really like or want, when i thought i wanted/liked it or it didn't really matter in the first place.
so i now have a collection of "NOs" in my list, in terms of the kind of work i love to be doing for life, and the kind of man i would love to spend the rest of my life with.
in terms of work-- no to routine and drudgery and doing the same thing year in and year out, no to a controlling and very structured environment that discourages initiative and creativity, and no to not being able to directly serve people at all, without lots of human contact, to name a few.
in terms of life partner -- no to dishonesty and meanness and irresponsibility, no to a negative and judgmental and controlling attitude, no to unwillingness to admit mistakes and to learn new things, no to self-centeredness and who doesn't care about the things i am passionate about, no to poor health (if he can't take care of him self, he can't very well take care of other things in his life!), to name a few.
so maybe the next work and the next love will still show me more NOs i need to learn about my self,... or maybe i am getting to my YES now, little by little.
i can see it from the kind of work im doing now, which i enjoy; and the kind of men i'm meeting now, whom i enjoy, trust and respect, and who enjoy, trust and respect me back, as good friends, at least.
Wednesday, March 16, 2005
it's not so much what's happened but that i didn't have the energies to be Grace, much less to be Fire. all i wanted to do today by noon was to climb into bed and hide under the covers and weep.
woke up at 2am for a bathroom break, but as im wont to do, i check my email along the way for anything interesting. got an email from a friend i was fast falling for... and found him answering my question truthfully, at last, but belatedly.
another disappointment. another betrayal.
slept fitfully afterwards, wondering why i get involved with these types. thought of doing my Womanly Arts "spring cleaning" (another blog on that later) and analyzing all the past "friends" and why they ended up not the ones for me (tentative title, "Kiss and Tell", if i get around to actually writing it as a blog)... but sleep got the better of me, and so i dozed off.
woke up too late at 630 am. the ex was already outside honking, and i had to rush waking the kids up. he was upset and rushing, too, so he left the kids' allowances with the maid instead and drove off.
i didn't even manage to shower, just a quick facial wash and sponge bath and off to school with the kids, who were anxious about being late. after the two older ones were dropped off just in time, i was set to bring the youngest to her preschool recognition day dress rehearsal, when the maid told me she forgot to bring Bea's costume.
so we had to drive back home to get the damn costume and drive the other way around again to get her to the rehearsal. by this time, i was running late for my own students' thesis defense, and i pressed on the accelerator to get to school and embarassedly sneaked into the defense room, with the defense well underway already.
by midmorning i had a throbbing migraine, but i had to fetch Bea again. on the way to fetch Thea and Paolo, we were caught in heavy traffic. as we inched slowly along, the car suddenly stalled and spewed smoke inside! so i had to stop right there in the middle of the road and ask some people to push it towards the side of the road.
Bea, the maid and i got off and took out all our bags and packages, as we trudged on to find a taxi. it was getting near noon, and the extreme noonday heat was getting to us, with Bea whining, and me with a splitting headache.
still we had to go fetch Thea and Paolo. i seated the maid and Bea at a small diner near the school while i walked to fetch the two older kids. i told them we will eat lunch at the diner instead as it was too late for the maid to fix lunch at home, with the delay caused by the car trouble.
by noontime, at home, i was weepy. chatting with another good friend online helped. still, after a few minutes, i begged off to take a nap and give in to my need for crying it all away.
i slept a deep sleep, and woke up at 3pm, remembering that i missed my afternoon classes already! oh god. so i texted my students their assignments, and decided to take care of the car trouble instead.
i took another taxi ride to the opposite end of the city to my car mechanic's shop and literally begged him to take care of towing the car for me as i couldn't handle any more stress today! thankfully, he was quick to help and so, i was free for the rest of the afternoon to attend to other errands and chores i could have easily done with the car, but which took longer (and more expensive taxi rides) without the car. :(
by 5 pm, i was done. by 5 pm, i was also spent. so, despite a tight budget, i decided to treat my self to a manicure and pedicure at my favorite beauty parlor.
im glad i did, because it made the rest of an already beseiged day more manageable. by 7pm, i was home, and i further treated my self to a long leisurely bath, all alone. i expressly prohibited the small kids from joining me, as they are usually wont to do.
then, another friend, the one i had a fun date with last month, texted to say he's in town again, and asked for another date on friday evening.
hmmm. : )
of course i said yes. at least the day is ending in a more upbeat mood than when it started.
what's very interesting is this little miracle i see happening over and over again-- once i start pleasuring my self, even in very little things like a beauty parlor treat, i not only feel better, but good things happen again!
it's almost like a mantra for rough days like this-- stop, take a deep breath and take care of your self first, and the rest follows after you.
this is discussed too in Womanly Arts,... but i wonder now whether this is just a womanly thing, or is this really a universal principle that applies to all?
i don't believe the Universe is gender unfair. so that's why im sharing this here, instead of at the other womanly blog.
Tuesday, March 15, 2005
Wednesday, March 09, 2005
- Maria, The Sound of Music
i leave for manila on the first flight out tomorrow, and come back on the last flight in on sunday. i will be documenting a conference of non-government organizations in the famed resort city, Tagaytay.
i am looking forward to the trip, not just because travel always enriches and renews me, and not just because i'll be doing something i love to do (write) and am good at (document) and will be with likeminded people about my passion for community service, but also because i am hoping and praying that this trip will be the start of a new career opportunity for me, doing the network of conference documenting.
how i got into this opportunity in the first place is serendipitous. i have a friend and colleague who's a key officer of the national committee of these non-government organizations. for the last two years now, i have been helping them write and edit their regular publications and reports, for free-- because of my friend, because i believed in what they do in serving other people, and because i just simply enjoyed the work, with the enjoyment as compensation in itself.
well, what do you know? this national association of non-government organizations are able now to more closely work with an international grant provider who can provide them with the funds to hold national conferences like this coming one, and to hire professional documentors along the way. my friend suggested my name to them and they were quick to hire me.
the offer was very welcome to me, too, personally. i'd be earning the equivalent of my half-month salary in just two days of documenting. all my other expenses will be paid--airfare, accommodations, food, local transportation. it would be like taking a paid vacation doing what i love to do and earning extra cash from it for the kids and my summer vacation and summer lessons! : )
the most serendipitous thing for me, though, is that the offer came in just as i handed in my resignation as Chair, last month.
this is just another proof to me that when you follow your heart, even when you say goodbye to some things which are not part of your heart's desires anymore, new things come to you which are more aligned to your heart's desires.
when you follow your heart, you need never be afraid of what comes next, for you will be taken care of. always.
the Universe is a good place to be, if only we allow It to do its work.
Monday, March 07, 2005
Sunday, March 06, 2005
i've been feeling and thinking this quite a bit lately, how i've sort of outgrown this blog, or how some pieces here aren't really fit for general public consumption (another blush!), and i've been thinking of changing the look of this blog to a more feminine and intimate one. but once, i did try and i was afraid of the warning that some settings i might have here would be lost with the new template, so i hesitated.
anyway, i'm still thinking, too, that i might be keeping this blog, but more in line with the blog title, about life happening, not necessarily always to me, but maybe to other people too. : ) but i'm still thinking how to work that out without looking and sounding like a gossip column. hahaaa.
so i guess this is another ending here of some sorts. even if i won't delete this blog, it will surely take on a more thematic kind of content, as with my other new blog (it's in the Links section at the sidebar, too).
thank you to the friends i have made through this blog, who have shared my journey and adventures, who have commiserated with me and cheered me up especially when i was at my bottomest pit.
thanks, especially, to kolzen, who was the first friend i made here, and who gave me the idea that indeed, despite the virtual environment, there are living, breathing, caring real people out there in this wide wide world! then there was tim, and then jenny, belbeth, dan and amir, aside from my real-life friends talia and rolen and my cousin alvin.
so, this is a goodbye, and a hello at the same time, too. : )
on to our next adventures! cheers!
so many times, a big but simple-looking earthen jar is attracted to a petite but fabulously-colored little jar. they hang around for a while, pouring wine into each other.
Little Jar gets filled up easily, and can't handle more. Big Jar pours a lot and needs a lot to be refilled. so one day, Little Jar is soo full she actually starts breaking. Big Jar, in the meantime, has always been left with the feeling of being only half-full when he's with Little Jar. and so, he starts looking for other filling from other Jars, which are like Little Jar's size and color, but not quite. (it can also be the other way around with Big Jar a she, and Little Jar a he.)
and on and on it goes, Big Jar and Little Jar trying to share their wine by refilling each other, but not exactly in the way they like to be filled. and so, one day, their being together has to end.
so far, i've been feeling like i'm Big Jar, surrounded by so many Little Jars, wanting, grasping for so much from me, but never giving back to me as much in return.
and i am just soooo tired now.
a friend has suggested, well why don't you put the lid on Big Jar for a while and stay put, and wait for another Big Jar to come along?
good idea, but what if this Big Jar didn't come with a lid?
i will have to make one, i guess.
Saturday, March 05, 2005
if i didn't know any better, i would give in to that old bitching voice inside me, "what is it with you? why are you not satisfied with what is already there? why long for more? how dare you not stick with what's apparently good enough for most people?" which still follows me around in the aftermath of each ending.
but then, there's this other growing voice inside me, growing louder and stronger at each ending, that tells me, "this is not the one for you. you've grown enough to know who you really are and what is for you, and you know that this is not who you are, or who you want to be for long. so it's okay dear heart, you are just having to say 'no' now to a lot of things and people you should have said 'no' to years ago, but then you needed the lesson they give you to bring you closer and clearer to who you really are. you are just saying 'no' now, clearing out space in your life, and saying 'yes' to what is still being formed but is definitely coming!"
still, it's a lonely occupation, seeing clearly and choosing consciously, saying 'no' to what is already here, in favor of a bigger, higher 'yes' still unformed, keeping faith that it is on its way... standing alone in the crowd.
times like these, i actually wish i could just go back to sleep and slide away into the throng of the invisible mindless masses.
I have been writing freelance for local, national and some international publications for the past 24 years, since I was 13 years old, and the concepts I learned from my PJ training were basically just another set of tools in the bag which I could use in presenting topics and issues in a manner that promotes deeper thought and reflection, and a more peaceful consciousness.
But, it has only been half a year since my PJ training weekend ended and already, I have made notable strides in my improvement as a peace-promoting speaker.
Being by nature open, honest and candid, I've always have had a personal struggle with speaking my truth in a non-threatening, less hurtful way.
When I do speak my truth, I have been called everything from "refreshingly candid" to "painfully honest" to "brutally blunt" and "insensitive", and it has always been a struggle for me to get my message across as kindly as I could. So, my usual recourse before, when faced with the choice of either being brutally blunt or kind, was to hold my tongue and just stew in silence. Some times, it worked, especially if the issue at hand was not so important; but more often, in matters of principle, it only made me guilty and resentful, and I ended up brutalizing bluntly, anyway.
Now, with my PJ training, I have found a better recourse. Here are some of the few concepts I have used to improve my speaking behavior:
1. Separate facts from perception and opinion.
Whenever a topic is discussed, it usually escalates to an "issue" for argument, when the people involved mix up their facts with their own perceptions and opinions, and mistake their own version of truth as The Truth. So, in speaking with people now, especially when I find that the discussion is quickly heating up, I take a deep breath, step back (even if only mentally), and ask the other person involved and my self if we can please review first what has exactly happened, and THEN discuss our feelings and opinion about what has happened.
Usually, I find that we agree on what has happened. If not, we only disagree at those points where we had incorrect or partial information, and a cool, calm, non-threatening review of the facts brings out all the information necessary, from all sides.
This initial agreement almost instantly brings the boiling temperature down to a manageable level, so that by the time we discuss our opinions, we are able to see that each other's opinion is filtered by each other's unique personal background and character, even if the opinion also always contains a grain of truth in it. When we bring the discussion further deeper into the feeling level, we begin to appreciate each other's vulnerability as a human being, and we learn to be more careful of the words we use because at a basic level, our words either harm or heal.
2. There are always more than two extremely opposing sides to an issue.
Given the experience above, one soon learns that the world is more of a rainbow than a strictly black-and-white palette. As more people are involved in a discussion, and no. 1 above is observed, one sees and learns that there are many truths leading to a bigger truth, and in a most basic way, each truth is valid, from each person's point of view.
Given this principle, which gives rise to the notion of also interviewing the "people on the ground" (those directly and intimately connected with the issue at hand), aside from just interviewing the official "authorities", I have also learned to ask about the facts from primary sources rather than just secondary ones, no matter how authoritative they are supposed to be. And I am learning that there is a whole spectrum of interpretation of the facts, usually according to the source's intimacy with the actual event.
3. Beware of labels.
"You are just plain lazy, that's the problem." When faced with this statement, our usual reaction is to respond back defensively or attack the other person, too, quickly contributing to escalating conflict.
But if we step back and ask some initial probing questions--
a. Why do you say that?
b. What did I do to make you say that?
to get the facts, we soon learn that the accusation is basically just a perception and opinion of the other person. That realization is a tremendous release to not take things too personally anymore, and if we care about the person or the relationship with that person, to focus on working to a better understanding of facts and the personalities involved, thus creating a richer and more harmonious relationship.
"The project is a failure, because you did not perform as expected." Again, this is simply an opinion. What does one mean by "failure", according to which standards? What was expected? Was it a generally understood expectation, or was it a personal expectation of the other?
4. The best complaint is the one that also suggests a solution. Otherwise, it is just plain bitching.
We are so enmeshed in a global culture of complaining-- of mistaking opinions for facts, of a you-(or they)against-us mentality, of thoughtlessly assigning dangerous and unfair labels--without also engendering a culture of solutions that it is no wonder our world is so conflicted these days.
Imagine what could happen if, for every time a person, citizen, lawmaker, lawbreaker complains, there is a "penalty" of also coming up with a suggested solution to the "problem" (I prefer to use the word "challenge"; "problem" connotes an impassable blockage, "challenge" connotes the potential for hurdling it)? It would be good, too, to "require" the complainer to be an active part of that solution. : )
And imagine further what could happen if, when a solution is suggested, all parties involved take time to thoughtfully reflect on the perceived challenge and the suggested solution, discuss the facts involved, as well as the opinions and feelings on the matter?
(Imagine Bush and Bin Laden doing this? Heehee. On deeper thought, is it really about Bush vs. Bin Laden? Hmmm. But then, that's another story.)
Just the experience of going through this process transforms the persons involved, into becoming more humane and peaceful, instead of regressing to just being mindless, helpless complainers.
In the end, the best lesson I learned, not just from my PJ training itself, but from working with Pax Christi, is the first lesson I learned when I joined Pax Christi, and it is the opening statement we use in the Peace and Conflict Journalism Network (PECOJON)'s e-group website's introductory note:
Conflict is part of life; conflict is part of change.
And, conflict does not necessarily mean violence. There are other alternative, more co-creative ways of addressing conflict.
Peace offers many avenues.*
Friday, March 04, 2005
to be more careful
of the words i use,
to not take things
that each person
has his and her own
view of the world.
i also learned:
potentially escalating conflict
with well chosen words
and tone of voice.
soul growth, and
our daily observations
the time has come
to part ways.
we are better off
as we only hurt each other more
than at a distance.
this is no way to live.
this is no way to be.
this is no way for friends.
go in peace and love.
i bless you to your journey.
"goodbye" also means
God bless you. : )
Thursday, March 03, 2005
When Jean was born, the Sun was in the Sign Pisces, the Visionary or the Mystic.
Jean's basic sanity and vitality depend upon her frequent and regular immersion in experiences that help her connect to herself as something vaster, more mysterious and far less definable than merely her ego, body or personality. Jean needs to explore states that involve her formlessness and boundarylessness. To dissolve the narrow definitions of the self into something larger.
In short, Jean requires a steady diet of altered-state experiences to nourish the Mystic and the Visionary at the core of her need and capacity to experience other worlds, inner, meditative or creative, as just as real and compelling as the outer world. These experiences should be consciously chosen, calming, and heighten Jean's awareness--not dull it with escapist or addictive behavior.
Jean's nature is sensitive, compassionate, dreamy, and intuitive, full of mystical or psychic sensibilities. An atheistic, skeptical, totally linear and uncompromisingly pragmatic attitude and lifestyle would be poisonous to her. (emphasis mine.)
For a relationship to blossom, committed love must deepen Jean's sense of the indescribable Mystery of life, not reduce it. In intimacy, Jean's tendency towards sappiness (sappiness!) may present some problems, but they're insurmountable only in two cases: if Jean has chosen to numb her sensitivity with addictions, or if she has chosen a rigid, judgmental and defensive realist as a mate. (hmmm... no wonder that first marriage was horrible! i see more clearly now that we were really the wrong fit; i drove him crazy with my "ethereal-ness", i wilted under his very "realistic" stare. imagine Joan of Arc and Hitler together!)
Jean's constant, if unspoken, search for Spirit at the core of everything may seem unworkably Quixotic at times, yet that same search can recognize and honor the soul of her mate and add immeasurably to the enchantment of the relationship.
so, the bottomline for me is to find somebody who will feed my Spirit, more than my mind and body, huh?
hmmmm..... (no wonder i used to want to become a nun... heehee!!! glad i didn't, poor priests, with temptation right at their doors. haahaa.)
hmmmm. : )
Wednesday, March 02, 2005
we first met in november 2003. sparks flew, fireworks exploded, in a good way and in a sad way.
we clicked instantly; we also fought like hell. we were (and still are) both so frank and bullheaded.
in three weeks, it was over.
and today, more than a year later, he's back. just as suddenly.
we talked a very loooong talk.
some issues were resolved-- my intense jealousy, his pining for his dead former gf.
he wants to pick up where we left off. i held back. how dare he just barge into my life again and expect me to just accommodate him so easily???!!! the nerve.
we argued again.
and made up.
all in a span of half a day.
needless to say, the atmosphere is electric. suddenly, Life beckons again.
i am suddenly feeling so energized i feel like i could do a whole week's paperwork backlog in just one night, tonight.
hmmm... is this what my dream meant, about finally getting "It" at last?
the preparation was more exciting than the actual day.
first day of my 37th year, i spent at home, sick from (of?) work-
feverish, headachy, even jaw-achy with my other wisdom (!) tooth erupting,
dressed in old baggy clothes, with not even a touch of lip gloss, bad hair, hohum skin,
struggling to check papers i have come to dread,
opening my journal to write it all away and hopefully feel better
but staring blankly at it instead and falling asleep,
offended a friend,
short fuse with kids,
weepy but unable to weep,
fell asleep again,
dreamt an unmemorable dream
(all i knew was the sense of something clicking into place,
me getting it at last--whatever that "it" is),
waking up now, my second day
still feeling sick
unready to face the world.
days like these,
i feel like giving up
Tuesday, March 01, 2005
the title itself, and some particularly telling dialogue (how Clarissa thinks Richard's "look" means she preoccupies herself too much with triviality) highlights a fact of life most people (including the woman her self!) commonly do not pay attention to-- a woman's life.
a woman's life is generally made up of the little moments, "the hours", those seemingly insignificant, trivial and dull moments of picking out flowers to buy, baking a cake, talking with a friend, being there for a suffering friend, planning a party (interestingly, with all activities usually devoted to giving, caring, making somebody else happy)-- which still ultimately defines the quality of her whole life.
if the moments, the hours, are the hours she has freely and consciously chosen (Laura saying, "what shall we do today?") then it becomes an empowering and full life for her (is she happy too? does she find joy in doing those things that she has decided to do, whether consciously or by default?); if the hours are dictated by what she "must do" (but that she doesn't really find joy in doing) as a wife, mother, daughter, friend, then it could become a limiting and deadening life for her (Virginia Woolf at the train station, explaining to her husband how it feels to be living a life she did not choose for her self).
as i understand it, suicide can also be the ultimate act of self-reclamation. when you are feeling helpless and powerless about many aspects of your life, it can be the final liberating and empowering moment, taking back what was rightfully yours in the first place.
so i viewed this as a movie about three women who struggled and dealt with, in their own way, the deadening effects of a sanitized life-- whether caused by the small-mindedness of social mores and conventions about how a woman should be, that nameless emptiness one feels in a lonely marriage, or the prison of regret over what could have been and trying to make up for it for the rest of one's life.
indeed, it is a disturbing movie (some reviewed it as "confusing", as they couldn't make heads or tails of it), because it takes us to something which we commonly ignore and forces us to take a look at it again and re-think what it means again. (look at your wife, mother, sister, girl friend again, and ponder what she does with her hours, and whether she's happy with them... or, if you're a woman, too, look at your life again!)
Brent Trafton is also right in saying that it is a movie for people who care enough to think about the movie and what it means long after they have left the theatre.