Friday, October 28, 2005


i think i am improving much in the self-care department, these days.

it is 2 am and im finishing my long overdue stats assignment in my MA Conflict and Reconciliation Studies course, but i am okay. there was a time when i used to automatically and subconsciously castigate my self for not doing all that i have set out to do for my self for the day, for the week, and i am my own harshest taskmaster and slavedriver, pushing my own self to burnout.

but these days, my attitude is -- if i couldn't do it today, despite my best efforts, then it must have been something that couldn't have been done today. so what, there's still tomorrow, after all, paraphrasing Scarlett O'Hara. : )

and i am more conscious now about the self-talk going on in my head, taking care to congratulate my self for all that i've managed to get done so far, for all the love i've given to others, for managing my finances better, for taking some time for my self to rest and renew, leading a more balanced life now.

i am gentler with my self now for the things left undone, easier to just ssshhh them away softly as i allow my self to take space and time for my own inner needs for rest and renewal, building up from the little snippets of time i could only manage to eke out for my self before.

and i find that i am more at peace with my self and with the world, lately, less likely to get stressed from the myriad demands placed by other people on me... it's like i have a warm, golden bubble of serenity enveloping me all around as i go about my day, and no matter how rude or cranky or irritable other people are, it's not easy for them to get to me anymore.

this is a healing place i've come to, and i am glad and grateful for it.

Monday, October 24, 2005

This Life I Live

at times like right now, i shake my head at the kind of life i live.

there's a measure of stability now, more or less, but moments still come up when, because of my inherent good faith in things working out, and my creative open nature, i do things at the last minute (but perform oh so well!), causing me and those around me both anxiety and thrill at how i will be able to orchestrate things in perfect timing so that they turn out well... at the last minute.

i promised a friend today a long overdue date to a mongolian buffet lunch and a spa massage treat, in "payment" for her being so good to me last May, when, also because of my last-minute habit, the flight we were both going to take for a speaking engagement i was going to and which she was going to assist in, bumped her off in favor of me, because we both lost our seats coming in after check-in deadline.

i did schedule today weeks ago. and i did schedule today to use some funds from a writing project i did and earned weeks ago. however, i deposited the check only last thursday, but the bank teller did tell me it was going to be cleared today.

i am getting fidgety now, though-- the funds haven't cleared yet, and im down to my last P20... although i have my butterfly biz commission of around 40k hopefully coming in via bank transfer by noon today, too.

so, it's another magic act to orchestrate. it is both exhilirating yet wearying on the nerves, too, this "dangerous" life i live. : (

next time i will do better. my friend deserves more from me than this. : (

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

"Aha!" Moments

it's the second day of my senior mass communications and interdisciplinary studies students' theses and theses proposal defense today. i've sat in their defense per group every hour, by the hour, for two days already. so far, i've helped facilitate the defense of 8 groups. needless to say, it can be very mentally draining.

still, it's a special feeling one gets during those moments when they do well, articulating themselves and their thoughts excellently as they defend their theses. i remember the many hours of our working together and discussing their ideas and brainstorming for better ideas and the long sleepless nights of poring over and improving on what they have written so far. but that moment when they finally get it right, when you and everybody else who listens to them and reads their work see how something has finally clicked into light inside them.... ooohhhh, you are both humbled and awed and proud at being participant and midwife to such blossoming!!!

in moments like these, all the struggle and the painstaking walking them through their mental and spiritual landscapes makes it all worthwhile!!!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Can't Wait

the semester ends on friday; we're just having exams this week. the kids will be having theirs next week, and then it's vacation time again!

this is my first semestral vacation in four years where i don't have to work as administrative officer, as i am back to faculty status now, so when my students vacation, i vacation too!!!

ooohhh, joy of joys!!! i feel like somebody just let out of prison and enjoying her first time out in the world alone! heeheee....

thank God for small everyday blessings! : ) : ) : )

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Becoming My Own Best Friend

becoming my own best friend takes some learning and practicing.

i started to do that more consciously today by deciding two things--
1. that i would more steadfastly guard my mind, not so much against the negativity and unloving thoughts, actions and behaviors of others (as i've learned to be good at that already), but more of against my own not- so-loving thoughts, actions and behaviors against my self;
2. that i would more reverently treat my self, from the littlest thing to the biggest things, and not rush around too much, but to take time just to savor each moment and my experience of it, and to always go gently and tread lightly with how i treat my self.

today, just the practice of showering and eating breakfast alone became enlightening meditation and self-reflection sessions.

while showering, i closed my eyes and rubbed and soaped my self slowly, gently, reverently, letting the water flow through my hair and down my skin and body, and sighing at the pleasure of it all. although it was pleasurable, it took some effort from me, though, to pause and start going gently again, as i found my self rushing out of habit, and soaping my self absentmindedly. it took effort trying to gently lead my self back to becoming mindful of my self and the whole experience of showering again, but the few moments when i did get it right... became pure bliss.

it made me reflect and wonder how i could have lived before so driven and so stressed, accomplishing much, yes, but also neglecting my own self too much. now that i am able to actually experience these little snippets of unadulterated joy and pleasure just being mindful of the moment, i want to cultivate the habit now of more of these little mindful reverential actions... not just because they make me feel soo good, but because they help "insulate" me somehow from the storms and stresses of the outside world, and also because i know that the more i build up a habit of little self-loving actions like these, the more i will cultivate and attract a more serene and self-loving kind of life.

it was the same thing with my eating my breakfast. i normally already eat slow, savoring each bite and swallowing slowly, but this time, i really paid attention to what i was doing, even smelling the food i was going to take in. and i had to exert extra effort, too, to just pay loving attention to what i was doing, as the usual cacophony of insistent thoughts tried to assail me.

interestingly, as i paid attention to what i was doing as if it was the only thing worth doing today, i actually felt less affected by the thoughts starting to distract and attack me, like somehow, an invisible bubble had formed around my innermost self, and nothing could touch my peace.

these must be what all saints and mystics have described as the meditative moment and how living life this way in a series of these meditative moments, is the key to peace and love and joy and all those myriad inner blessings of life and the spirit.

for me, though, this morning's experiences also felt like making good, sweet, passionate love to my self, in more and all ways than just the usual. : )

Today is Mine

i first woke up at 5:30 a.m. earlier, looked out the window, wanting to take my early morning walk again, but decided to go back to sleep after seeing how very dark it still was for a solitary walk.

i next woke up at 7:07 a.m., and, instead of quickly jumping off the bed as i am wont to do, not by nature but by habit and lifestyle, today i just opened my eyes and stared at all the things around me, like a newborn babe just awakened, in alert but serene and quiet attention. and then the realization fully dawned upon me-- today is mine to use and choose -- and i smiled.

of course, most of us intellectually know that, but today, i knew it from inside, looking at all the things in my room with the kids-- the dresser, the closet, their scribbles and artwork on the wall and in the various pieces of paper taped to the dresser and the closet... and of course, my sleeping daughters, most beautiful and innocent in their slumber.

i felt a tremendous sense of gratitude for my life and my children, and how it's turning out so far, the home we have, our safety and good health and wellbeing, the food and clothes and books and toys we have, the love and laughter and learning and dreams and struggles and pains we all share...

i just felt lucky and blessed being alive today.

and so, instead of jumping off the bed, i started savoring today more slowly and tenderly and gently. first i stretched and enjoyed the stretching, then i got up slowly and walked barefoot, even as i turned off lights and opened the windows and started the pc. right now, i am listening to PianoRadio's Whisperings even as i go through my emails, the butterfly biz emails, and now, my blogs.

a little niggling thought tries to upset me-- "you have a verrry long list of To Dos; what are you doing taking your time not doing even one on your list?"

but i brush the thought away and decide-- i will probably always have a long list of To Dos for the rest of my life, what with my many interests and passions and projects. so what, let it be. the To Dos will always be there, after all.

but starting today, i decide more fully, more consciously now, how i will go about my day, which To Dos to pick and work on (or not work on), and how my day will turn out at each moment, each experience.

i decide to be happy and joyful today, to savor and enjoy my moments, to go gently, to speak softly and lovingly, to work more serenely, instead of letting other people and outside "demands" on my time and energies get to me.

i am feeling like i've just won the lottery this morning, with the next 16 hours a precious precious gift to do with as i please.

today is mine. and all the days after, from now on.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Bea's Food

late yesterday afternoon, while in the car with the kids driving home, we (Thea and i) got to scolding Bea again for eating too much. she had barely started on her tempura and native milkshakes yet she was asking to be bought some boiled corn from the street vendors we passed already.

just yesterday, aside from her usual meals, i bought her her usual ice cream treat at the mall after picking her up from nursery school. then she wanted a doughnut with rainbow icing, too, and then a slice of pizza and some juice, and then french fries, which she all ate with gusto in half an hour!

in the afternoon, on our way to picking Thea and Paolo up from school, i decided we'd pass by my father's bakery first, and pick up some bread and sweets for home. i called the bakery staff before we left, so the goods would be ready for pick up by the time we got there, and i wouldnt have trouble with the traffic police when i double-parked in front of the bakery, as it would only take a moment anyway.

on the way to the bakery, Bea thought of ordering a cupcake with strawberry icing on top, too. this irritated me as i explained to her how i cant guarantee that because we hadn't ordered it over the phone, and it might take some time getting it, and i might get a ticket for double parking along such a busy street. Bea kept quiet... and as we neared the bakery and she saw the tight traffic situation, she softly asked me, "I won't be able to get my cupcake after all, huh, ma?"

it tore at my heart, when Bea gets like this. she has a way of telling you how she doesn't really want something she actually craves.

and it got me to thinking how maybe, her passionate love for food is her way of filling up some empty spaces needing comfort and assurance inside her.

of all my three kids, Bea, the youngest, was the one i wasn't able to focus all of my energies and attention to while they were growing up, as Bea had barely turned one year old when i left their father. all these past years, in my struggle for survival and getting my feet back on the ground again while trying to take care of the kids and i independently, i mainly let being there for Bea when she cried or was hurting go.

before, with the two other older kids, i made it a policy and a habit to quickly go to them and comfort them when they cried or were hurting in some way. with Bea, i would, at best, perfunctorily hug her, give her some food or her pacifier, then go back to what i was doing.

so now, the connection becomes clearer. at 5, Bea still sucks her pacifier when she's feeling tired and stressed. now, too, food is her prime comfort, although it doesn't show yet in her body, as she's pleasingly plump in a cute way.

Thea and i got to talk about it privately, last night, these insights and reflections of mine, after Thea commented how much of a glutton Bea is becoming. i tried to explain to Thea how we need to give Bea more love and assurance and attention, to wean her away from her excessive attachment to food and her pacifier.


i can't help feeling guilty, too, like i'm not doing enough as their mom. although, another part of me knows im being the best mom in the world to them; even the kids keep telling me so with their daily i love yous and cards and artwork with "I love you, Mama" scrawled all over them.

still, the bottomline is-- i have to be there for Bea more.

God help me with this, too!

Paolo's Bullies

last week, Paolo told me how he and his 1st grade classmate were playing with some 2nd grade boys in the football field, and how more 2nd grade boys later joined them and challenged them to a fist and wrestling match. at first it was just playing, he said, but then later on it hurt, and the 2nd grade boys taunted him and his friend for running away.

the next day, Paolo got some more of his 1st grade boy classmates to come and play with him in the football field, and the 2nd grade bullies were there, too, challenging them to a fight again. this time the match was even.

i think it affected Paolo, though, because when thursday came last week, which was their Club Day, Paolo asked to be absent from school. after further probing, i learned that the 2nd grade bullies were in the same club as he was. i told him, "okay, you can be absent now, but you can't be absent forever. you will have to face your own problem; let's find a way to solve it." he agreed to my terms.

last friday, i was told by the office secretary how Paolo and his 1st grade friend came running up to her and asked her to accompany them to the football field where the bullies were heckling them again. the office secretary, who was plump and looks stern, amusedly told me how the bullies ran away after seeing her holding Paolo and his friend, one on each hand, marching to the football field. i smiled, too, thinking how cute it was, but inside, i felt troubled.

i was torn between being the usual protective, angry mom who felt like reporting the incident to the teachers and the principal, even confronting the bullies themselves right away and scolding them and threatening them. on the other hand, i remember my training now in peace work. i know the first option, although the natural one, isn't the way to go. i realized that this was a good opportunity for me to teach my children more peaceful and creative ways of handling conflict and violence...

so in one of our car rides home, when the kids usually talk about their day, i asked Paolo and his elder sister Thea to at least get the bullies' names first, and what their class sections were. Paolo was afraid, "why, ma? are you going to scold them? don't do that please! i would look like a sissy to them, telling on you!!!"

"no, honey. i just want us to know them better," i explained. "the more we know about our problem, the better we are able to know how to solve it." then i tried to gently explain how we need to understand why the bullies do what they do, as a second strategy. i made it sound like a game, even a military game, to appeal to their sense of adventure, but im hoping that as i lead them on, we won't even have to resort to "military" actions. : S

anyway, i asked him about it again just now, remembering that yesterday was Club Day. Paolo said they didn't do anything to him, as the teacher was there. but he got one name right, and i asked him how that makes him feel. he says he doesnt feel so afraid anymore, knowing he has the name. and i said, that's good. right now, we'll just watch them and observe them okay? and he nods his head nonchalantly and moves on to talk about other things.

he seems okay, so far, and im a little relieved.

but i understand now the terror that struck in Mary's heart, when they found 12-year-old Jesus speaking to the scholars in the temple. it's the same kind of terror, the realization that you can't protect your little boy from the world anymore, that he must find his own way, develop his own spine and spirit, yet you must be there for him, too, in gentle and loving support, without babying him or smothering him.

i fear for my little boy, and yet, i am also proud of him so far, for his own ingenious ways at trying to solve his own problem-- first, getting more kids on his side, too; then, getting the help of a fearsome looking adult to scare the bullies away.

still, i know, those methods are not enough. i have to teach him more creative and peace-promoting lifelong lessons and skills in conflict transformation, the same lessons and skills i am learning now in my MA Conflict and Reconciliation Studies course... if i can't do that for my children, all the degrees in the world won't mean anything!

God help me walk this fine fragile line between being a righteously indignant mother and a more enlightened peace worker right. God help us all!

Thursday, October 06, 2005


i've been feeling like a retiree these days.

the long years of struggle and proving my self seem to be finally over. i am coasting along now, borne by the goodwill i've sown among people, and the various inner gifts of character, insight and wisdom i've developed because of those long years of struggle.

i'm wrapping up old long, overdue projects even as i launch new ones with new people, new groups im meeting in my life now. new shoots are sprouting up, which are going to need my care and attention in the coming months and years. they are shoots now that are more in line with my lifelong goals and vision for my self and the kind of life i desire for the second half of my life -- peace work, communications, training and consultancy, writing...

wonderfully, they are also projects which would be giving me multiple streams of income in the coming months and years. just what i've always wanted; to not be too dependent on any single regular job, beholden to some people and an institution, but going freelance instead, working from home, and being sought out by people who need my services and willing and able to pay good money for them too, because of the reputation i've developed for professionalism, quality work and integrity...

i'm even relearning these days how to be my own best friend even, not bashing my self too much for things left undone at the end of the day, but congratulating my self instead for things i did do. there is a lot less pressure now to pack it all in in 24 hours, when they are things actually good for accomplishing in 48 to 72 hours.

... all good news, huh? : )

still, it takes some getting used to. some days, i still slip into the old mode, "pressuring" my self almost unconsciously instead for largely inconsequential matters... i guess it's always like this in the process of growth and change... a cyclical process where even as you move forward, you step back a step or two some days and actually almost "regress", just to feel comfortable again in the old mode, even as you try on the new and grow into it and learn to get used to it... much like a child, too, on her first few attempts at doing something new for her self, then going back to mama or papa to hide and be a baby again, then going out to attempt a little more next time, until she gets the hang of it.

but then again, i feel really old and wise and a little world-weary too, now. been there, done that, know a lot now.... so instead of looking ahead, as a blogger friend suggested some time ago, i just look around now and enjoy the sights and sounds, smelling the roses at last, just being open to what life offers each day, and responding as i am, however i feel like being at the moment.

it's a strange kind of being, though... being this at peace with one's self and one's world and one's life, when all around you people hurt and struggle and hurt each other and spin around in circles not knowing whether they're coming and going...

sometimes, i think i could die now, heehee... but not yet, as my kids need me to take care of them still. still, i can't help but feel too... there must be more coming, surely this must just be a temporary resting place, before new challenges come to test my mettle again... except that, this time, i am not afraid nor confused anymore, as this time, i finally know what i am about...

40 is still three years away. but i think Life has finally begun, even as all the "practice-living" before is now finally ending.