What being 27 taught me

Hey there readers, I just turned 28 last month, and I found this craving for writing again about how life has been. I have started this blog seven years ago, as a form of self-expression, as a way of making sense about everything that was happening around me. What does 27 year-old Kate know about life so far? What have I learned? How am I going to navigate the next years knowing that I have lived one-third of my life in this planet? How am I going to be more intentional? How will I live? Dear ones, here’s what I know for sure.

  1. Family is the starting point of everything and it grounds you. I have learned to appreciate my family now more than ever. COVID and my father’s passing has definitely been a factor as to why I found so much strength in being with family. I tend to not spend a lot of time with my family because I was too busy chasing goals, making ends meet, hustling, working hard in academics, and just doing everything my competitive self wanted. But as I turned 28, I know, for sure, that my family is the starting point of everything that I want to do with my life. They are the foundation that created who I am and guided every step that I took and will be taking along the way. When I get too stressed in the hospital, I just have to go home, play with the dogs, sleep, and have deep and fun conversations with my sisters. Everything that I do makes sense because of the strong foundation that I have with family. We’ve been together since day one, and it comforts me that I have them and that they got me.
  2. Don’t be afraid to take the first step. Just like how a child unconsciously takes the first few steps, I learned that being a beginner at things is okay. Falling down is okay. Taking the first step may be the most difficult thing for someone to do, but, once you bravely take the plunge and just go with your gut, even if you know that so many bad things can happen or that you may fail, taking that first step is always worth it. I was so afraid of going back to medical school, taking weekly exams and so unsure about everything that I was doing. But here I am now, about to graduate in a few months. I can do simple medical procedures that I never thought I’ll be able to do or even be good at doing. I can now extract blood, insert intra foley catheter, make an IV line, administer drugs, do CPR, do suturing, deliver a baby, and a lot more, all because I took the first step, even if I know that I might fail or be bad at it the first few times. Life is about taking the first step again and again and being okay with falling over and over again.
  3. Keep on exploring. I guess getting older kind of erases the innate curious being inside us. I used to love watching discovery channel documentaries and travelling. But as we become adults, our schedules get more complex, our to do lists get longer and we forget the part of us who love to explore and discover things, and not just do things out of routine or necessity. I still want to explore places, even if it’s just a random coffee shop in our town, or a beach or mountain. I still want to feel exhilarated by the cold air, the sunrise, the sound of new music. I have learned that our yearning for exploration, is still here. It doesn’t fade away.
  4. Keep on learning. I used to love playing the ukulele. I loved learning. I loved reading. I know that this part of me will always be here. Right now, I get excited by learning the Biochemistry of medicine. It’s like I am starting medical school all over again without the pressure of learning it fast. I guess the thirst for learning has lessened through the years, but not learning is not living. This blog post is an attempt to put into paper what I have learned so far. Alas, learning never ends.
  5. Read. What more can I say? I love books. I love how imaginative I can be just by thinking about how the characters look like or how this world that the author conjured looks like in reality. Reading pumps up your imagination. Harry Potter has opened up that creative tunnel for me. Reading courtroom novels opened up my mind that other people can think a certain way. I just found a best friend in reading.
  6. Stay creative. Creativity gave me a push, a reason to live, a reason to play. Writing is my form of creative expression. Dressing up, buying clothes at thrift stores, hair styling. Anything can be a form of creative expression. Creativity will inspire you and you need to make time for it. I noticed that when I stop writing, that’s when my anxiety and depression come back, that’s when my soul slowly withers, and so I have to keep it up, it makes me cling towards living. It makes me wonder, it makes me think, it summarizes the 1 million thoughts that float in my head. We have to live creatively if we want to live a full and happy life. I try to incorporate it through my medical kit, I use a pink stethoscope, a pink tape measure, I use colorful pens, absolutely anything that could introduce play in my job. Living life in color, living creatively, even if I am in a very stressful environment, that is how I fight the norms of this society.
  7. A little competition is healthy, too much is a no no. I love a little bit of competition. I even got addicted to it when I was still a little kid. I guess I have to incorporate more of this in my life right now. I have been more of a zen person, to the point that I got fat because I was contented with where I am. I mean, it’s good, but I have to up my game and compete. It’s fun as long as you are not toxic to others. Use competition in a healthy way.
  8. Sing. I have learned that singing takes stress away. Having a bad day? Sing. Having a boring day? Sing. I don’t have a scientific explanation as to why it feels so good to sing but what I know is based on personal experience, singing makes you feel better afterwards. So, sing!
  9. Make friends. I was never scared of shifting careers or changing workplace because I know that no matter where I go, I can easily make friends. Humans did not evolve to be alone. We are meant to socialize, build tribes, and face things TOGETHER. We are not meant to be islands. We are meant to work together, to slay goals together. Friends have saved me so many times. I survived every phase of my life because I had amazing friends who stood by my side, and backed me up when there were too many shit sandwiches. Friends will keep you sane and make you laugh.
  10. Dance. Dancing, just like singing, is a perfect way to feel better afterwards. I used to dance as a kid and even at work, I still did that. I have to get back at this if I want to feel happier, lol. It just makes me sad that there are less events where people can dance because of COVID but we can dance in our homes, have our solo dance parties, or even do zumba sessions.
  11. Sharpen your skills. At 27, I have a certain set of skills that I was able to develop and there are still a lot more that I need to learn. But even if we grow old, we must never stop sharpening our skills. We must make it an art. I once read a blog in Tiny Buddha about how Picasso was not the Picasso that we know when he was just starting out. I want to be more skillful than I am now. I am like this baby who doesn’t even know how to walk alone in terms of medical procedures and knowledge, but I know that I can’t be a Picasso overnight. It takes practice and it takes time, and I am patient with my process. I will be my own version of Picasso, in time.
  12. Chaos is inevitable. Wherever we go, whatever we do, chaos is just there. 28 years and this fact is still true. No matter how much you curate a perfect schedule, a flawless plan, something will always come up. Since this is certain, we have to learn how to dance with the rain instead of expecting that the weather will be good, or that it will always be sunny. Let me give you a reality check, it won’t. There are good days, but there are days when the world seems like it’s against you and your goals. But you know what? Those challenges make life exciting. Those crossroads and obstacles, make life interesting and make the reward all the more worth it. So let chaos come, but you, will be okay.
  13. Proceed, despite. This is a phrase that my doctor friend (Hi Doctor J!) often writes, and it really made a mark on me. No matter what hurdle comes your way, you have the power to choose the next move. Am I perfect? I definitely am not. I have so many days when I just want to give this all up and go back to my comfort zone and live an easier life. I do find myself questioning my decision to dive in the medical field. But somehow, I just can’t stop and I definitely don’t want to quit, even when I got so depressed when my Dad passed. I just can’t give up our dream. Hence, despite all those insanely painful things that happened, I choose to proceed, despite.
  14. Keep going. Hope is hard to find when you are inside the dark tunnel. I was 14 when I attempted to commit suicide. I couldn’t find the sense in living because of how turbulent our life was. I couldn’t find the reason, I just felt trapped. But what made me stop that dark choice was, the me that I saw 10 years later. I thought to myself, that it’s impossible that life will always be like this. I decided to live even if that was the last thing that I wanted to do. Fourteen years later, here I am, about to become a medical doctor, living with my family, four dogs, loving partner, and it gets absolutely better.
  15. You will rise. I know it sounds cliche. Sometimes the shit sandwich just keeps on coming and you just want it to stop. But let me tell you what being in rock bottom does to you, it teaches you that if you have reached rock bottom, there’s no other way but up. It is a fact. If you have been through the worst, there’s no way for you to go down because you are already at the bottom of the pit. The next events will be exciting, because it is now your climb. You can never climb down, there is no way but up. You will rise and good things will definitely come. Keep on working and never give up.
  16. Success comes to those who are willing to dedicate their energy and time to the things that excite them. Whenever I get decision paralysis, I just follow what excites me. When an idea or a career choice doesn’t excite me, then I am not having any part of it. Medicine, as challenging as it is at the moment, still excites me. Learning about diseases, and how to manage sick patients still pique my interest. I don’t want to paint a perfect picture for you, but if you are excited about something, you will keep on working at it and even if you get tired, you will still get up and keep doing the work over and over again, because as weird as it seems, this is what you love doing. It can be something as seemingly mundane as coloring nails or organizing your closet, but if it excites you, and you just have one life to live, isn’t it a sin to not do it?
  17. Freedom rocks. I remembered my university days and how happy I was. UP had this culture of freedom. I can dress however I want because I am not in the province where judgemental looks were given to those who dress differently. I loved how radical, our professors think, and how self expression is the norm. I discovered at that age that freedom is one of my non-negotiables. I love being free to do what I want. So if a person makes me feel like I’m being strangled, or an environment is suffocating, I know that this isn’t where I am supposed to be. You get my point? To live fully is to be free.
  18. Try new things. You are never too young or too old to try something new. At the moment I still have so many things that I wish to try. I still want to go scuba diving. I still want to learn how to ride a bicycle. I still want to travel around the world and immerse in different cultures. I still want to have my own pet. The list goes on. Trying new things keeps our soul alive.
  19. People aren’t perfect. This is definitely a hard to swallow pill. However, getting older will teach you that every one of us has good and bad sides. There are people, whom you thought are good, but has this dark side that is just hard to believe that a human being can possess. The people that you love dearly have the power hurt you the most. But at the end of the day, people are people. We are all human beings who are trying our best to live in the best way we could, with what we have. We will make mistakes and hurt people along the way. It is just a matter of grace and establishing healthy boundaries.
  20. Celebrate. I guess we are all guilty at some point of being too hard on ourselves. When we have slayed one goal, we don’t even take enough time to celebrate. We just move on to the next goal. I learned that I should celebrate my wins, big or small. We should give ourselves a pat in the back whenever we do a good job, or finish a difficult project. Remember the effort and challenges along the way. Everyone deserves a celebration.
  21. Jump and take risks. Living a safe life is a big no for me. You will never know what you’re capable of until you take risks. You just have to be smart along the way so that you will not fall flat on your face. All of the best things that happened to me are a result of taking good and calculated risks. I’m not saying you should climb Mt. Everest or go skydiving. Just make brave choices from time to time, and let the magic unfold. You just have one life anyway.
  22. Party, explore, navigate. Getting lost is part of the game. Remember that. Whatever exploration means to you, do it and live it. Try new things. Meet and talk to people who have different beliefs as yours. Follow your curiosity. It will give you lessons that can only be learned through experience.
  23. Be brave in making decisions. I do believe that there is no such thing as a right or wrong decision. It’s a matter of being brave in living with the consequences of your choices. If you chose to get married early and have kids, then that’s good, just take the good with the bad. If you chose to be single, then that’s also good, take the good with the bad.
  24. You can only connect the dots looking backward. As Steve Jobs said in his Stanford speech, “You can only connect the dots looking backwards.” At this age, I still have so many dots that are yet to connect. It’s still too early to tell. But based on everything that happened in the past, where I am now makes sense. The people I met, the wins and losses, all of them made me who I am. And I am so fucking proud of the person that I turned out to be. I still have a lot of figuring out to do, but I look back and I am proud.
  25. Loss is inevitable. The biggest heartbreak in my life taught me so many lessons than no self-help book could. It’s really when you face the unthinkable, that you discover how strong you are and how much one person’s life can mean . It has been two and a half years since I lost my favorite person in the world. I learned how finite time is, so we must stop with the nonsense and just, love. But it’s true, the bigger the love, the bigger the loss. Nevertheless, just love.
  26. Learning to live without your North Star. The universe-sized hole in my heart is still here. Time doesn’t heal all wounds after all. There are wounds that one lifetime cannot heal but you will learn to live with them. You will get used to living with pain. Whenever I remember my Dad, I get sad, but I know that this sadness means that I have loved as much as my human heart could. And isn’t that beautiful? Doesn’t that make life worth it? I am one lucky human to have lived and loved someone so much. I am one lucky daughter to have 25 years with a Dad who gave an amount of love that could last more than a lifetime.
  27. Allowing others to love you. As trials came my way, I learned to accept love. I am still the strong, independent, and self-reliant woman that I used to be, but having lost my Dad, taught me to accept help. My heart feels so warm and fuzzy now that I have the confidence that I can stand alone, and it’s a lot of fun to have family and friends holding your hand and helping you live each day. Allow people to love you. Lean on others and be a shoulder to lean on. I have survived and thrived in the past 27 years because I had a tribe with me.

Indeed, 27 has been amazing.

The Day I Stopped Reading Horoscopes

I love astrology. It somehow gave me a level of certainty that things are going to be okay because duh, Capricorns are ambitious and goal driven, right? When the horoscope says today will be filled with luck, I believe it. I want things to work out so bad even if a lot of circumstances are out of my control. Astrology helped me deal with life.

I can analyze compatibility and understand a person’s attitude just by knowing their birthdate. I like things to make sense even though deep inside I know that astrology doesn’t have a scientific basis. Planets, the sun, and moon, oh come on, why on Earth would I believe that? There are no published scientific journals that prove their truth.

Be that as it may, there’s a mystical part of myself that believes in a power that is outside of this realm that we live in. My soul tells me that there is a higher intelligence that is working, and that I have to work with it, rather than against it. So how do I reconcile the mystic and realistic parts of my brain?

I give them both a chance. I stopped reading horoscopes many years ago. I chose to work daily on improving myself without compromising my health. I work my ass off, but I also pray that whatever it is that is at play which is out of my level of consciousness, may I be in alignment with it.

Horoscopes are still fun to read, but I also believe that when we take charge of our life, the possibilities are endless. When we never stop working to get better, we give our life a fighting chance.

I do not need astrology to give me that certainty anymore. When I am in alignment, when I am taking care of myself physically, when I carve time for creative work, when I bust my ass off in my chosen field, keep my life organized, and spend time with the people I love, I am good.

Antidote to frustration

When the pandemic started I plummeted on a spiral of negativity. I got disappointed, more than I usually am, with almost everyone who’s handling this pandemic. I understand that COVID is a monster virus but I also know that this could have been handled better. More than a year after the first lockdown, and yet, here we are, experiencing a pandemic in a third world country, which could possibly be the worst place for a human being to be in. I was depressed and demotivated to study because the system is just too broken, but luckily, I was able to crawl out of that tunnel. How do we make peace with a shitty situation that is mostly out of our control?

1. Acceptance
      I discovered that the more we resist the situation that we are in, the harder it is to take the steps to solve problems. Accept that in this moment, these are the cards which we have been dealt with. You are in the Philippines, a country that has been colonized by three big countries for hundreds of years. This is where we are and we have to make peace with this fact. Maybe in another life I’m from Canada or Australia, but in this one, you are born in the Philippines. Accept that monsters exist, that the culture of corruption is a staple here in our nation. There are so many starving kids and sick people who are dying due to the poor healthcare system. Accept at the moment, that we live in a very flawed government, that not all leaders take their job “public servant” by heart. Recognize that not everyone has the same heart as you and your environment is pathological. Right now, this is your life situation. 

2. Gratitude
      Even though these are the realities that we must face on a daily basis, I still believe that we have to acknowledge what we have been given. It is unfair to just focus on the negatives. You are lucky that you are alive, especially since COVID lurks around the corner, and yet, here we are, still surviving. If you are reading this, it means that you have the privilege of being able to access gadgets and the internet. Having food on the table, getting an education, having a safe home to live in, and being with your family in these difficult times, are all things that we have to be thankful for. Being grateful doesn’t disregard the numerous flaws which are still present, but don’t we owe it to the Universe to be happy about what we have? For the past five years, keeping a gratitude journal has kept me aligned with what is important. Even though heavy and difficult things arise, I know that the fact that I am still breathing means that there still is a fighting chance for whatever that we are waking up for.

3. Decide that you can do something.
      Maybe you think that I am so naive for even imagining that I can make a difference. But come on, if everyone accepts that mediocrity and injustice is the norm, then aren’t we helping perpetuate these crimes to humanity? I refuse to give up. I refuse to say that this is all there is, that dying people will be the new norm. I know that even if I am just one insignificant human, I can make a difference. Know that you can do that too. We are intelligent species filled with thousands of neurons with connections that has allowed people to fly to the moon and discover the other galaxies in the sky. How come we think that we are so limited? We are not. You are not limited. You can make a difference wherever you are as long as you are brave and aren’t afraid of the legwork that living purposefully entails. Your existence matters. Make a decision that you will stop playing small. 

4. Stay in the moment and offer it the best you that you can give. 
      A lesson that I have learned from Oprah and Eckhart Tolle is to be present. This might seem a little woo-woo to others but, our present moment creates our future. We have to be fully present with the task at hand, the conversations we are in and the relationships in our lives, because when we are, that’s when the magic happens. People feel it when you genuinely care. There are people who will see how authentic you are. So if you are reading a book, give it your full attention. If you are bonding with family, stop using your phone. When you are talking with clients, don’t multitask, focus on them. Even in activities such as doing the laundry or washing dishes, stay present. That’s when you deliver quality work, and when that accumulates, someone will always notice. You owe it to what has been handed to you.

5. Be the role model you wish you had.
      Some people are lucky to be born with parents who are conscious enough in raising children, but most of us I guess didn’t have that. I think we have to take in to consideration that our parents didn’t also know better. I kept on looking for role models as I was growing up, but I found it difficult to find one, so I decided that if I can’t find one, then I’ll be one. I am frustrated with our leaders, so I decide that I will start by leading myself. Try it too. Be the mother, father, sister, best friend, mentor, leader, that you wish you had. Work hard on becoming the best version of yourself. Align your actions with the solutions to your frustrations. Stop waiting for things to change and start with you. Make a difference in the space that you are in and try to expand that culture of authenticity and humanity in the biggest scale that you possibly can, at your own pace. 

6. Be kind.
      We are not perfect. I am guilty of being impatient and cranky especially since I am in the medical field. But I try my best to be as kind as I can be. When I fall off the wagon, I also forgive myself. I learned this lesson the hard way. I used to be the person who cannot forgive slacking off. When there’s a group project in college, I expect all my groupmates to perform at the level that I do, not meeting deadlines is non-negotiable. I get mad at my groupmates who aren’t sending their parts for our lab reports on time, up to the point that I was becoming a very toxic person. I became unkind. It is their  responsiblity after all. But when difficult things happened to me, that’s when I realized that, I don’t have an idea about what is happening to another person. I don’t have a clue about their situation at home, their finances, or if they are eating at all. So I can’t be unkind, because as the quote goes, “Be kind. Everyone is fighting a battle we know nothing about.” I’m not yet as kind as I want to be but everyday, I try my best to be as mindful. 

7. Live a life of service.
     I am not sure when what I want to do has become crystal clear to me. I like leading, managing projects, and learning ever since. I also like seeing that what I do has a contribution to even a single creature. I’m not saying that I am aiming to be Mother Teresa, but seeing others win and do great and humane things for others makes me smile before I sleep. Isn’t that beautiful? When I learned that service and a hunger for learning keeps my soul alive, I knew that I wanted to be or at least try to reach for that MD. Here I am, about to start fourth year, I still have a long way to go but I have come far. Even though there are hard and painful parts, I would still choose this. My service is my offering to the universe. I hope and pray that you reader, are living a life filled with purpose.

8. Create a solution for people’s problems.
     One of my dreams is to create a business that will allow people from my hometown to live comfortably without leaving their families to work abroad. Writing in this blog is not just for creative expression. At the back of my mind, I want to offer clarity to my readers and in a way, help them maneuver challenges in their own lives. My efforts may seem futile, but even if only one person reads an entry, and somehow learns something or thinks differently after reading, then I would be most thrilled. That one person has friends, family or colleagues that they can influence. I want to make more good in this world. That is how I make peace with my disappointments. Find your art or an avenue  for your activism.

9. Educate, don’t hate.
     Since the advent of social media, I noticed that opinions are getting more polarized. Friendships die because of different political beliefs. There are more facebook comments filled with attacks just because of opposing views. Offensive words are like a staple. You just need to look at the comments section and you’ll see so much lack of respect. What if instead of trying to win arguments, we focus on understanding the other party and offer education instead of shaming them? What if we choose respect? We can’t control other people’s thoughts but we can manage how we respond to them. We can engage in a healthy discussion and if the other person attacks, leave. Making a point is never the point. Enlighten instead of winning.

10. Live each day as if it were your last. 
     When I get caught up in the craziness of this world I try my best to remember that today could be my last day. Will I choose to live with anger and negative thoughts? How do you want your last day to be? Draw a picture of your last day on earth. Live that. Focus on what matters. We only have one shot in this life after all. Live fully. 

A letter to my journal

I guess you really are my bestfriend. Whoever created words are people that I am deeply indebted too. Imagine a world without poems and songs. I just couldn’t. 

Somehow, words feel as if it’s art. It is a dialect that I’m comfortable in, my safe place, my cocoon. When things are exciting, it’s you, my journal, that I tell these stories too. And when I feel suffocated, it’s you that I turn to.

I am beyond grateful that I have you as my bestfriend, as my crying shoulder and my emotional sponge. I have you to thank for helping me cope with a world that moves too fast for a person with a fragile heart. I have you to thank for being my playground and avenue of creative expression. I thank you, my journal, for being the witness to all the highs and lows of being a human.

My mind cannot fathom how 23 characters can make intangible ideas and thoughts feel so real. It is beyond my understanding how typing on a keyboard or grabbing a pen and paper can give such a cathartic feeling. Writing to you my journal, is one of the most magical things that I am grateful that I can do in this era.

Thank you, my journal, for listening to my rants, for accepting my rage, and for acknowledging that I can have all these thoughts and be rough around the edges, and still be accepted. Thank you for giving me the space to write about the nightmares and for immortalizing the good stuff. You have gotten me through a lot and helped me survive when I was walking in the darkest tunnel. With you, I know that I am safe.

I wish more people would write. I wish more would get to see the beauty that pouring yourself on a page could bring. I wish more would be more reflective of their thoughts. I do believe that if more people write on you, journal, there will be a better generation of humans.

Not everyone will like you, and that’s okay.

In this short life, why not stop living for the likes, but rather live for the things that make your heart beat a little bit stronger?

I know what you desire. I know that there’s one thing that you want, that all of us wants. You want to be happy. I mean, who doesn’t want that? You want your heart to feel at ease. You want to exist in this world with that spark and that fire. You want to feel peace and security. You want that heart of yours to have a warm and fuzzy feeling.

But let me break this down for you love, just like every other pursuit that we have in our lives, happiness takes work. Happiness will not be consistent, because in order for life to be interesting, sadness must be felt. However, the probability of your heart feeling at ease increases when you do the work. Let’s say I’m your soul doctor, what will I prescribe you?

I can only think of one thing, and that is, stopping yourself from wanting everyone to like you. We grew up wanting to please our parents. Maybe you bend over backwards just to make your partner happy. You may even not express who you truly are for fear that you won’t be accepted by your family. Maybe you’re pursuing a career that your parents want for you but your heart is nudging you to do an entirely different thing. You may show people that you are strong, smart, and perfect and never want even a drop of weakness to spill. Or maybe you created a persona on social media that does not reflect your true self. You post all these glamorous photos, when the truth is, you are dying inside.

Maybe you live for the likes, the heart reacts, the compliments, or applause. You may be living for the titles so that people can admire you because you’re a lawyer, a doctor, or an engineer. But let me ask you something, does the superficial world create a warm and fuzzy feeling that sustains you to wake up and do the work every single day? Do you feel like you are living a life filled with gratitude and meaning? Or are you just waking up, working, achieving, and posting?

In this short life, why not stop living for the likes, but rather live for the things that make your heart beat a little bit stronger? Why not live for the moments that you will remember before your last breath? You need to start really living, now. You need to be who you exactly are. Stop chasing dreams for the applause. Just do things because it gives you joy and it serves other people. Be honest with yourself and maybe then, you’ll find yourself breathing lightly, and smiling, not because of likes on Facebook, but because you genuinely adore the person that you see in the mirror.

Musings of abused kids

I didn’t know genuine happiness until I lived a life without you.

We know that our abusers have at least, tried. We know that that they probably have legitimate mental health issues and a terrible past. But that doesn’t give them license to hurt the people that God entrusted them to take care of, repeatedly.

We don’t understand why sometimes you were so good and loving, but whenever there’s a minor setback, you flinch and resort to hurting the people that you were supposed to love. We grew up constantly asking if we are good enough. Did our feelings even matter? Did we do something wrong again? All this time, we learned the art of perfectly walking on eggshells because if we didn’t, we were doomed.

We would get a beating or receive verbal abuse from you the moment that you get upset. Does it feel good to throw broken glass to an already shattered heart? Did hitting us serve you well? Do you know that sleeping still doesn’t feel safe, because nightmares of you still linger?

As trautamized children we have so many questions for you abuser, but we are okay with not knowing the answer. We even second-guess if the choice that we made was right. Now that we’re grown-ups, finally away from the terrors of you, we feel warmth.

When we grew up, that’s when we realized that cutting you off was the most difficult and yet the best decision we have ever made. We didn’t know genuine happiness until we lived a life away from you. You don’t get to take credit for anything anymore because we are where we are not because of you but inspite of you. You don’t get to manipulate us anymore. We will never give you that power, ever again.

It feels good to not to live on thin ice. It feels warm to be with people who truly love and support you. This is the last letter that abused kids will ever write to you. We don’t expect any apologies, or even remorse. We are still on the process of healing, and for every brave step we take, we are proud.

This is us, children of traumatized past, finally letting go.

My Sun

Yours was the sunset that brought me to my knees,
but you are and always will be, my sunrise.

Whenever I remember the 17th of May,
The scar stings, a stare of loneliness surfaces,
I’m taken back to that unthinkable day.
A life without you never crossed my mind,
How I managed to live,
An answer I can never find.

It took every ounce of energy my cells could generate,
To breathe and live in a nightmare, in a body that I didn’t wish to live in.
I couldn’t just erase you, I couldn’t unfeel the pain.
That would mean denying all the love you unselfishly gave,
I woke up in tears, I denied reality,
I numbed, I was so scared.

You were the pillar of my identity, my safety blanket, my confidence.
My number one fan and believer.
But why did my sun set so quickly, why didn’t God make him stay?
I couldn’t live. I couldn’t breathe.
A world without you has never occured in my mind.
Where are you now, my sun? I badly want to feel your warmth, one last time.

I want you to tell me that everything is going to be okay.
That this will pass, that I can still be happy,
Even if you are not there, even just to annoy me for one day.
I miss you still, I love you so,
I will try to live,
Even though everyday, my climb is still uphill.

With every sunrise, it became a little bit easier.
I kept on breathing, I asked myself what would you say?
What would my hero tell me?
What would he want me to do?
So I continued to walk with small steps, sometimes in strides,
Whatever I manage, that’s okay.

It has been a year, since that sunset,
It still haunts me like a terrifying dream,
But I thrived even in the darkest times,
Sometimes I hid, sometimes I faced the sadness.
It’s okay.We can face it.
We will be alright in time.

I learned that I’m not alone,
I can feel your heart beat right next to mine.
You are still whispering that, “You can do it.”
Whenever I want to break down, an invisible force pushes me,
To take one more step, to be bold and brave,
And watch the sun rise.

We were riding on your red motorcycle,
We were talking about our dreams and your stories about life.
I saw the sun. I saw you, my sun.
Forever etched in my heart.
Yours was the sunset that brought me to my knees,
But you are and always will be, my sunrise.

Guide to getting unstuck

Hi reader, so far in the Philippines I do believe that we are stuck in a shit pickle, and a really deep one for that matter. You know that I am not a fan of toxic positivity. I am more of a girl who likes to know the real score and deal with it to the best of my abilities. Just like you, everyday I still wonder when is this ever going to end? When are we going to stroll on parks, beaches, or schools without the fear of getting COVID-19?

If you have been following my posts for the past years, I have an idea that you are someone who’s chasing your dreams too. And for us who find satisfaction in slaying goals and reaching for the stars, being this limited is the worst situation that we could find ourselves in. We like movement, we love the momentum, and the chase. We find an adrenaline rush in getting closer to our goals. But then here we are, stuck, literally and figuratively.

Let me try to make sense of it all through my favorite form of expression, writing. I think this is the opportunity to be our most creative and unlimited self. What we have now is the best resource out there, TIME. Here are my tried and tested list of things that you can do when you’re in a hell of a negative situation. Feel free to add up yours in the comments section.

1. Be realistic and be informed.
We need to educate ourselves. We need true information in order to move forward. Education has brought me to places that has created such an adventure in my life. I like to know the reality. I appreciate brutal honesty rather than sugar coating things. I might not like what someone is going to say but, it’s okay as long as it’s the truth. You can only assess objectively if you are well informed.

2. Acceptance of the present.
I think the secret in life is knowing when to let go of the steering wheel and when to take control. There are things that you can do to make sure that your plans will fall into place. And I very much believe that you have to take control of your physical, mental, financial, professional, and emotional well-being. You cannot let anything or anyone take your power. But, you have to accept that no matter how perfectly crafted your plans are and how you flawlessly executed your moves, there will be times when shit will just hit the fan. When that happens, as much as it sucks, you have to recognize that this is the reality, and accept. Because if you keep on ruminating for a long time, you might miss the growth opportunities that the current situation presents.

3. Acknowledge your feelings.
As I’ve mentioned, you have to accept the present. I know what probably runs in your mind, that it’s easily said than done. Please understand that you must accept the present but you also have to acknowledge your feelings. Give yourself time to grieve the situation. Fully express your sadness, anger, or disappointment through calling a friend or by talking to your family or your partner. You can express your rage through art or writing. You can run or shout on top of a hill. But you have to feel and express your emotions. Don’t bottle it up or it will be your life’s poison. Feelings are meant to be expressed and not repressed. Okay?

4. Do something that brings you joy.
Once you have let all the feels bleed out, you now have space for joy. Think about the activities that make your heart feel a little bit lighter. For me, it’s writing or listening to Cardi B. I also love singing, dancing and coloring. Keep a running list of things that make your heart sing. Open your heart to joy. Tuck it in and keep it close. Have a list of these sanity pills and take them. They will heal you and open your mind to creative solutions to your challenges.

5. Access your body’s intelligence.
You know what causes too much thinking and mental exhaustion? It’s when you’re not channeling mental energy through your body. Do some workout, my friend. Stop being a couch potato. The poison loves it when you don’t move. Your blood and energy has to flow. Let it reach every corner of your organs. I do nike training club during not so busy days in the morning and when I am really stuck in the deepest puddle of shit, yoga is my saving grace. It fixes your breathing and keeps you present.

6. Sleep.
Recovery is an important part of the healing process. Give your brain the rest that it needs. Let your subconscious handle the complexities of the situation. Some of the best ideas and solutions pop up early in the morning. It’s because your brain is well rested and fully oxygenated. Remember that you can only be truly empowered if your machine is well-oiled. So love yourself and let your thoughts rest. Let it go.

7. Have a morning routine.
By sticking to a morning practice, you will have a foundation that you can always go back to. No matter how crappy the previous day has been, your morning routine will serve as your refresh button. I do encourage you to make it a habit. Whether it’s drinking coffee in the morning, declaring affirmations, or prayer, just do it. Make your mind a healthy garden for trees of positivity and creativity to grow.

8. Be decisive.
Stop thinking. Just engage and co-create the life that you want with the universe. Stop spending so much time in your mind because it’s so easy to drown in the negativity sinkhole. As Nike says, just do it.

9.Practice self-forgiveness.
I do believe that you should talk to yourself the way that you will talk to your little sister or your daughter. We are humans who are just imperfect. We make mistakes and do stupid things. Be that as it may, it is our job to be kind and forgiving to ourselves especially when we fall short of being the person we expect ourselves to be. When negative thoughts swarm in my head, my tendency is to be really hard on myself, and I admit that I am still a work in progress when it comes to this area of life. But I know that I have to try practicing radical self-love and self-forgiveness so that I can be truly free.

10. Be patient.
Great things take time. Sometimes we’re too anxious to get to the finish line, so much so that we don’t even notice how beautiful the journey is. Life is full of ups and downs and sometimes it’s easier to say I give up. But if you can find the beauty in crashing and then rising, I think you’re good to go. Be willing to wait and be patient with your process. Everybody has their unique path. You just have to focus on yours because no one can ever do the great job of being you. Respect how sacred your journey is. Love it wih every fiber of your being. Ready, set, go.

Ukelele

With gentle tunes
And every pluck of each string
I summon happiness
I live with glee.
Whoever made you
Has indeed a heart of gold
For the joy you bring me
One that even by words can’t ever be told.

You had me at hi
I pulled you close
Sad songs you transformed
A pretentious melody sounded true.
Lying in the hammock
In front of the sea
I strum with passion
I dream of thee.

Tell me about the first time
Our skins have touched
I never knew that love would feel this much
Every dull moment you made serene
Every song I played you with
Had love within.

I never knew this kind of happiness
Till I chose to play you
I’ve tried the guitar and drums
But nothing ever sounded like you.
How you made the sun shine
Everywhere you go
How you made me smile
Even when I thought I’ll never do.

You are mine and I am yours
Let’s compose and sing
Let’s dance to unsung melodies
Let’s make everybody plug in
I promise to take care of us
This gift of music, of love
That seemingly came from the stars
Maybe from the deepest seas or high above

When the Heartaches Make Sense

Once upon a time, a girl dreamed of healing people. She wanted it so bad and did everything she can with whatever she has to make that dream happen.

Sadly, life happened and the dream of attaching two letters at the end of her surname sounded impossible. She accepted that if it’s for her, it will happen. Though at that moment, everything around her sent one message, “No, this isn’t for you.”

She listened to the signs and messages. She accepted that she was probably one of those people who had a dream carved in her heart, did everything to make it come true, but ended up doing what was needed of her instead of what her heart desired. She said, “Alright fate, it hurts that the one thing that pulled me to wake up in the morning is not happening.”

She surrendered.

I was an atheist. I could probably be one of the most pragmatic person you will ever meet a year ago. One could even say, “Katey, please grow a heart.” I never believed in fate or whatsoever external force that guides you to your path. Oh please, not me.

I used to think that hard-work is the sole key to success. If I work hard enough and give it my 101% things would work out according to how I want it to happen. The world was my oyster, and I was there to play the field. I was a beast, determined to wrestle with challenges and smack it on the face, and say, “Bring it on because this girl can do it all.”

And the world really gave its all. Until I found myself picking up the pieces of my so-called armor of courage, or of arrogance the way I see it now. I was broken. I became so afraid of what viand is going to be served again. Can I still handle it?

No, not anymore. I couldn’t take any more of it. I give up.

“I give up.” Those three words that I never thought I would utter, but I did, repeatedly. I beat myself up for being a failure, for always coming short of what I expected of myself, for being a coward. It was all a bluff. I wasn’t brave after all. I was the worst. I look at the mirror and all I saw was someone who was weak. I’m not even worth an ounce of love.

I felt that, longer than I should have.

But, slowly, I crawled out of that hell hole. It wasn’t easy though. Especially when you’re all alone in a foreign land. It’s scary to fight your demons when you decide to move to another country with people who barely speaks your language. I had to learn how to find my way without losing the little sanity that I still had.

I started with saying “Thank you,” the moment I wake up. I began running again, going out with friends, and writing. Sometimes too much human interaction still overwhelmed me, those days I still hid from the world. I didn’t know the exact day when I felt totally okay. I just realized one day, that I was smiling again, the kind of smile that stayed. It wasn’t an all for show smile. I was happy.

It’s okay that I will not be Dr. Katey anymore. I am fine with who I was and looking forward to the person that I was going to become. When I was okay, I decided to go back home and do the work that I was set to do, whatever mission that was.

I started working in the BPO industry. I applied because originally, I planned on taking a master’s degree in environmental science. I would need a day job that would put food on the plate and finance my youngest sibling’s studies. I needed also a job that unlike teaching, would not require so much mental energy when I get home since I was going to apply to graduate school.

When you have a plan, it’s funny how one phone call can change your life.

I was about to prepare for work when my dad called me. It was the usual dad jokes and checking up on me phone call. But then, he called because someone volunteered to pay for my medical school tuition fee.

“Papa, is this a joke?” I mockingly said.

“No, this is real. Do you still want to do it?”

Without a second of doubt, “Hell yeah!”

Sometimes I still pinch myself. Is this fucking real? I even get scared when I’m reviewing for NMAT. What if this gets taken away from me? But even if I’m scared, I’ll still move forward.

I believed that someday, my dream for my myself and my country will come true. I gave up the MD dream. A week before the news, my good friend L asked me, “So Katey what’s the plan?”

“To tell you the truth L, I don’t know anymore. I would probably go to Law School or push through with master’s. I’ll just go with the flow. But if someone would give me a million pesos, it would still be medschool.”

A week after that conversation, I didn’t actually get a million, but I got so much more.

To you reader, don’t give up on your dreams. You never know what’s ahead.

Love,

Katey (Future MD)

P.S. I will be posting more about the MD Journey from now on.