Unlock your fullest potential

There are epiphanies that we suddenly realize as we grow old. If we are to compare ourselves from who we were a year ago, five years ago, and ten years ago, we’d notice that we changed a lot because of our experiences. I find this constant process of discovery as an interesting journey. You have these expectations about who you are and who you will be and yet you surprise yourself that you have turned out different. As we tread these changes, I think the consistent theme in these different phases of our lives is, we can be at peace with where we are when we are making sure that we fully unlock every version of ourselves, and hopefully before our last breath, we can say that “I have exhausted everything, I did everything that I possibly could.” There will be no regrets nor what ifs.

The next question is, “How do you unlock your fullest potential?” I can only speak based on how I approach life and what I have learned overall, and that is by breaking it in to tiny, actionable steps. 

1. Make an irrevocable decision about the life that you want.
       When you know where you are going, there will be less mental burden about the decisions you’ll be making. Decide what kind of life you want, without any sort of guilt. Do you want to be a millionaire? Do you want to travel all over the world? Do you want to live a simple life on a hill or in the middle of a forest? Ask yourself this question everyday, “What do I really want?” and listen to your gut’s honest answer. Write it down. To be honest, I feel sad whenever I meet someone who is just wasting precious Earth time wandering aimlessly. We all have moments of uncertainties, but at some point, you have to choose your path. Ten years from now, what does a beautiful life look like to you. Make it as detailed as possible and then that’s it, that’s the life you want.


2. Schedule it. 
      If it’s not scheduled, it’s not getting done. This is just honest advice. If you keep on saying that I want to be financially successful, or have a family, or a car, and you’re just sitting there on the couch and praying to be abundant, I hate to break it to you, but it’s not happening. You have to put it in your calendar and make time for each step that will take you closer to the kind of life that you truly want. Start small. Take those baby steps which might seem insignificant at the moment. You’ll see that those tiny actions will accumulate and result to something great, something that only sheer hard work could ever do.


3. Eliminate anything that brings you down. 
      Are you spending so much time on social media? Do you have thought patterns or belief systems that aren’t helping you rise? Well then it’s time to let go of them. Turn your phone off when you have to focus and just concentrate on whatever task is at hand. Stay in the moment you are in. If it’s not making you a happier and better person, then let go of it. It could be a bad habit, or a dragging relationship, or even people who disguise themselves as friends. Choose your energy. Make sure that even if you plummet in to negativity a few times, you still take steps to keep yourself on a higher energy vibe.


4. Ask for help. 
      You are not an island. You belong to a species of organisms who need socializing. The news, COVID, financial setbacks, illnesses, they all are heavy to carry alone. The thing is, you don’t have to face every single one of them on your own. Ask for help. Be brave to humbly seek assistance whenever you need it. I can’t tell you how this simple step changed everything for me. I used to be the person who wants to prove that she doesn’t need any help from anyone. It’s pathological. This attitude has allowed me to be strong, independent, brave and extremely self-reliant, but it also made me a loner and somehow it closed my doors to opportunities and relationships that could have been good for me. Be self-reliant, but when you need help, please ask for it. 


5. Surround yourself with people who want to see you win. 
      Be careful who you spend most of your time with. If you just gossip, drink, or watch TV with your friends, I hate to break it to you, but you are not with the right people. If you want to become successful, you have to make sure that you are in an environment that will allow you to grow at the level that you want to. Talk about goals and how you are achieving them. Discuss ideas, passion, and creativity. Generate that energy of relentlessness. Assess if the people you are with want to see you win. Filipino culture taught us to value family, but sometimes extended family members can cause too much toxicity. You will get opinions you didn’t ask for or unwanted visits and demands. If that’s the case, stop complaining, save up, and move out. If they are not helping you, just get out of that negative space. You can’t possibly grow in a soil that isn’t capable of providing the nutrients that you need to achieve your highest potential.


6. Expect setbacks. 
      This is not a world of unicorns and rainbows. But I guess you already know that. Following your passion or chasing a dream can be equated to going through loopholes with fire on its outlines. It’s like running on a track with lanes with shards of glass or burning coal. It’s kind of morbid but there will be times when you will want to give up because it’s hard and painful. Circumstances will get out of control just when you think everything is okay. Expect setbacks, my love. There will be highs and lows but just hold on to hope. Keep the faith and know that nothing is permanent, even trials.


7. Have a go-to person. 
      To say that we have that one best friend is false in my opinion. I have a friend that I confide in depending on what I am going through. I hope you have these people. They will give you honest advice and a listening and non-judgmental ear. Having real friends is very comforting. They get you back to your senses when you are getting off track. They will patiently hold your hand when you are still healing. How do you have these people? Be a friend. Be a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on for others, and when it’s your turn to be punched by the world, someone will always be there for you.


8. Come back stronger. 
      When setbacks happen and you feel like you can’t take another blow anymore, rest. Allow your body and your mind the time and space for recovery. Stop pushing when you know within yourself that you are mentally and physically exhausted. This time frame varies for every person. When you are already rested, roll up your sleeves and with courage, start again. You have learned the lessons, and now it’s time to use that wisdom in getting back up. Know that you are strong because you have gotten through the unthinkable. Nothing is impossible for someone who doesn’t have the phrase “give up” in their vocabulary. 


9. Give. 
      Having a generous heart will allow abundance to flow in your life. I have proven this repeatedly. Whenever I feel like there isn’t enough money or when I am scared, I give. It may be my time, or any form of help that I could give. Surprisingly, abundance follows when your heart is not guarded by the scarcity wall. Volunteer for an advocacy you believe in. Serve. Just give not because you want something in return but do it because it feels good to make others feel better.


10. Surrender. 

For me, life is 50% what happens to you and 50% of it will come from your actions. We can do so much with our precious 50%. When I wake up every morning, I do my best to keep things in order and accomplish the tasks that I need to do so that my dreams will come into fruition. But I also know that there will be circumstances and forces which are out of my control, and so when I pray I surrender that 50%. “No matter how this day goes, I will do my best and the Universe will do the rest for me.” It was hard for a control freak like me to utter the word “surrender.” However, I sleep better ever since I accepted that things will get out of control, schedules will get ruined, annoying people will pop up, but how I perceive these circumstances and my legwork is all that matters. Surrender your dream and each moment and eventually you’ll get there. 

Finally free

Too often we dream about doing great things, reaching for the stars, going as far as we can go. Maybe that’s why we are consistently exhausted. Keeping up with the speed of the world can be really taxing. I am having this existential crisis of wanting to shine, to be something, or someone. It has lessened in intensity, but I’lll be honest, I want all this to go away sometimes. I just want to be happy and contented with where I am.

I used to like being able to do it all, to be the person who can do this and that. I am the quiz bee girl, the dancer, the singer, writer, public speaker, top employee, class president, a good teacher, a soul who revels in adventure, and all those other things. I am happy that I can do all this, but I admit, I did so many things and trained myself to be good at a lot of things, until the light burned out.

What is left of me, if the light has burned out?

What I saw was who I really am. I am this simple person who looks forward to quiet mornings while sipping ginger tea. I like reading books that keep my heart at peace. I love talking to God and conversing with my Dad in heaven. I like cuddling our dogs. I love lazy afternoons with my boyfriend. I love playing with my baby brother at five in the afternoon. I love endless talking with my sisters. I enjoy so many things other than being at the spotlight and performing all those skills that I could do.

Maybe this is me getting old. Or maybe, I am just unveiling who I really am in the first place. I am not a competitive person anymore, but instead I aspire to be really competent in the line of work that I chose. I love listening to my body and giving it what it needs, to the best of my abilities. I am not as neurotic whenever things don’t go according to plan. I give grace, when people come short of their responsibilities, because, the world is toxic on its own, why should I add up to the mess.

I honor my lazy days, but I do my best to be as productive. I forgive myself more often. I choose love, as often as I could. I am happy, just by honoring who I am at the present.

Lessons From Papa

Mentors are essential in our lives. Indeed, you can be considered lucky if you have one who is just filled with wisdom and knowledge that took them years to learn but then they just give it out like fairy dust. Let me share few of the wisdom that my first and best mentor, my father, Coach Neon, has taught me. Hopefully, you’ll find them helpful and maybe guide you in your pursuits in life.


1. Work Hard
Papa didn’t graduate college. He got married young and had four children. Now that I’m an adult, I can’t help but wonder how he did it. At my age, he already had three children, and yet I remember him as a happy and funny person. They say that kids won’t do what you tell them to do, but they would imitate what their parents do. I guess my dad was able to raise us beautifully because he works hard not just at work or when he’s coaching, but even in being a father. When he has to make a bahay kubo (nipa hut), I see him work hard to finish it even when he’s tired from his job. When we have issues within the family, he works hard to patch things up. When he had to ask forgiveness for a mistake he has made, he worked hard to earn our trust. He shows up not just in the happiest but most importantly, in the most difficult times in our lives. I guess I really got my work ethic from him, although he’s way better at it than I’ll ever be, but whenever I don’t feel like reading more pages of Harrison’s, I see him, and I remember how hard he worked up to the very end of his life, and I feel guilty, because who am I to complain when my dad doesn’t even have the word ‘tired’ in his vocabulary? I have the stamina to strive for my dreams because I grew up with such a hardworking, epic person, whom I admire a lot. I fully understand that in whatever aspect in life, there are no shortcuts.

2. You’re not special. Do the chores.
My father trained us to wash the dishes starting at the age of five. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we may be his princesses, but that doesn’t mean that we are exempted from household chores. I had a self-entitlement issue back when I was a kid. I thought that since I work extra hard to be the best in class, I am excused from chores. Papa wouldn’t take any of it. He let all of us wash dishes, clean our room, sweep the yard, and do our laundry. This is actually a very profound lesson for me. It taught me that the basics are important. I didn’t have issues with cleanliness or hygiene when I was in college because Papa didn’t allow laziness in the house up to a point that I think I have borderline OCD because I just want stuff to always be clean and organized. I knew that no one is going to take care of my stuff other than myself, and that I have to take personal responsibility for everything that I have and the space that I occupy. I’m just grateful that laziness is not an issue now that I am an adult.


3. You are not above or below anyone.
I’m allergic to people with superiority complex. Whenever I see or hear someone degrading another person because of their economic status, or just plainly treating them bad, I get really upset. Why? Because we are all human beings and whether you are the president of the Philippines or a billionaire, if you get hit by a car, chances are, you’ll die. We are all the same. This level of humility has grounded me to treat people equally. This would include being nice to waiters, to say thank you and good morning to security guards, and to give people the benefit of the doubt when they are underperforming. I am not less or more important than anyone.

4. Stand up for what you believe in.
I have very strong beliefs about politics, religion, and society overall. I may not talk about it that much here in my blog, but my dad made me stubborn and taught me to not just accept everything as it is, but rather ask questions. And when I see that something is clearly wrong, I need to speak up. He raised us to be interactive with life rather than just be passive and be okay about everything. Being brave and rational at the same time has brought me places and connected me to people whom I never thought I would have been friends with if I was too shy speak up. Sticking to my principles has allowed me to create healthy boundaries which has made my mind a better place to live in. I had to learn all of this the hard way, and sometimes I ask myself, are my principles too strong? But at the end of the day, I have peace of mind, and I can sleep soundly at night knowing that I lived life on my terms. I chose the people who are around me, and I am surrounded by family, friends, pets, and a significant other that I can fully trust with my life, because of that one big decision of setting boundaries. Thank you Papa, for teaching me to stand up for myself and for the people I love.


5. Love your siblings.
My siblings are the three pillars of my life. They are the source of my courage and will to be successful in this path that I chose. To be honest, I have survived medschool plus Papa’s death because of my sibs. Papa instilled in us that we must always love, support, and understand each other. I have found my bestfriends in my sisters, and our relationship is the major component of my core. Papa just emphasized this repeatedly to us, and when we were put to the test, we have managed to get through every hurdle because we have each other.

6. Choose a partner who will stay through thick and thin.
Unlike my other siblings, I am the daughter who never introduced a boyfriend to my Dad. I took his advice seriously. Study first, and when you have graduated college, you are allowed to have a boyfriend. Sadly, I was never able to introduce Mr. Right because I was single when my father was still alive. However, I asked him a lot of questions on how to choose a man. He often jokes that since I’m the most expensive one, because I’m studying medicine, I am only allowed to date rich guys. Then I asked him on a more serious tone, “Papa, to be honest, do you want me to choose a rich partner?” Then the most amazing words came from my father’s mouth, “You know, it’s not about the money. Of course I want you to live a comfortable life, but, what’s important in choosing a life partner is, you choose someone who will stay through thick and thin. Building a family and raising kids is challenging and life will give you many problems, so you need someone who stays and someone who’s willing to understand, someone hardworking, and someone who will truly love you for exactly who you are.” Since then, I was able to create a standard for the man that I will choose. I know that Mr. Perfect is not there, but so far, I think I chose someone that my father has described.

7. Live your passion.
It was quite hard for me to understand why my father loves basketball. He would train several teams after work and during weekends. His players were like a part of his life. He treats him like his kids and he mentors them. I couldn’t grasp the idea of doing something that makes you so exhausted, and not that financially rewarding, but then you do it anyway. As I got old, I somehow was able to digest it. In fact, I am living my passion. It wasn’t hard for me to quit my job and go back to school because I had a role model when it comes to following your bliss, and it was my dad. Even though he couldn’t play basketball anymore because he had kids, he still mentored kids. His passion for the game overflowed to hundreds of basketball players in our town. I saw it during his funeral. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw hundreds of previous and present basketball players went to the church. The church was congested, you would think that it was a VIP’s funeral. It all sank in that when you give so much of yourself, and live with fire and passion, people feel it. Any form of love that you put out in the universe comes back. His love for basketball inspired me to love the path that I chose in a spiritual level.

8. Forgive.
We are all humans after all. No matter how much we try to be the best versions of ourselves, chances are, we will make mistakes. I admit that until now, I am struggling to forgive several people in my life, but I look forward to the day that I can genuinely say that I have forgiven them. Forgiveness is not about waiting for the other person to say sorry. It’s actually a courageous act that you do for your own sake. It frees you and elevates your consciousness. I saw him forgive people who have clearly wronged him, and even apologized for mistakes that weren’t even his. I still wonder when I’ll ever reach that level of courage and love. But, in situations when I can, I try to forgive, because who are we to not do so? We are but a speck in this universe after all.

9. Whatever it is, face it.
I am a good runner, not in the physical sense, but when it comes to conflicts, I am the champion of bolting when a turbulent situation presents itself. But this is not a good practice. I can’t run from every problem or walk on eggshells just to keep the peace. I have to learn how to solve problems, and talk to people, no matter how difficult they are. He always told me to, “Face your problem. Approach the person concerned rather than complain.” Well Papa it’s much easily said than done. Adult problems are way bigger than my issues back when I was young. However, when you grow up with such a brave person, it’s somehow easier to emulate. Until now, I am a work in progress and I could still do better, but I try to be as self-aware as possible.

10. When you don’t feel safe, walk away.
How will you know if you are with the right people? It’s actually vague to answer but, allow me to describe this in the best way that I can. When you feel safe around a person, that’s when you know that this person is good for you. But when someone’s presence acivates your fear response, makes you second guess, and walk on thin ice, that’s your clue to investigate. He taught us to walk away from things that scares the shit out of us. I noticed that I know that feeling because I have felt it whenever I’m around him, that feeling that you are being taken care of, that he has your back, and that security that even if I make mistakes, this person will still love and accept me. Having experienced that kind of love and safety made it quite easy for me to sift through people, and know when they really mean well. It also gave me an internal compass and has directed me to the most genuine humans. It also allowed me to let go of jobs, people, and relationships that has gone its course.


Even though our father-daughter relationship has been cut short, I can honestly say that all those wonderful twenty five years taught me enough lessons to last me for the next decades that I still have. It is indescribably painful to lose the person that you loved the most, but even though the pain doesn’t go away, I breathe every day knowing that the lessons he taught will forever be etched in my heart and will transcend in the work that I do. The life of the person we lost doesn’t stop on that last breath. In a way, they live through us, and through the life of every person they have touched.

How to stop stopping yourself

You have to stop holding yourself back from the amazing you who’s still hiding in that shell. You just need to be a little bit braver. You got this.


“But what will other people say?”

Let me guess, you have been plagued by this repetitive question for a long time, am I right? We ask this to ourselves when we’re deciding what to wear, how to speak, making career moves, or starting a business. This question gives you a disease with a bad prognosis which is, “soul paralysis.” This will make sure that you will live a boring existence. People won’t have anything to talk about in your funeral because you lived such a safe and sheltered life. Let’s be real here, do you really want that? I bet you don’t. The mere fact that you are reading this blog means that you are someone who has a message to spread in this world.

So how do we open our hard shell and start exploring the world and expressing who we really are? The first thing that I will prescribe to you is, you must let go. Here are three things that you should let go of, if you want to bring the amazing you on the table.

1. Your toxic environment.
I am speaking from a place of truth and experience. We, as humans have to learn how to adapt to any situation. We cannot control the initial environment that we were born into. You are lucky if you were born into a family who genuinely love and support each other. But what if that’s not the case? What if turbulence was the norm in your childhood? What if you grew up in chaos, or in a place swarmed by backward thoughts? You can’t just go with the flow. If you recognize that your environment is taking a toll on your soul, do your best to get away. You can control your reactions and how you perceive things, though that’s challenging when you’re still on your formative years, but as long as you’re staying in a place that doesn’t serve you or contribute in your evolution into becoming a better person, then get out as soon as possible. You can only know your true self and be at your best by detaching from the world that you used to know. You will discover your likes and your passions. You can do your hobbies and express your art without thinking about what the neighbors will say. You can make your own mistakes without people giving comments about how you have to live your life. You can be you. Will detaching be easy? It won’t. Getting out of your comfort zone will not be a walk in the park, but it’s going to be worth it.

2. Your “friends” who are not into goals.
“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” I forgot who said this but, in a way I do believe that this is true. If you keep on spending a lot of time gosipping, partying and drinking, do you think it will propel your soul forward? You don’t have to be all judgmental with your friends. Most people have this stage in their lives, including me. What I’m trying to say is you have to be more conscious of how you spend your time and who you spend it with. Why? Because any amount of time you waste, can never be taken back. You know that life is short, anyone could die at any moment, so choose people who will help you take one more step towards living an authentic and passionate life. Choose to be with people who inspire you to be better. I’m not advising you to abandon your friends, but rather, I’m encouraging you to spend more time with creative, genuine, and goal-driven people. This is initially hard, but it is necessary. This doesn’t mean that you hate your friends who drink a lot, this just means that you love yourself enough. Look for people who are changing the world, if there are none around, watch videos on youtube of people who inspire and motivate you. Curate your newsfeed by unfollowing people and pages that don’t stir your soul.


3. Your old self.
We all have phases. You probably are an entirely different person from who you were ten years ago. If you want to evolve or be successful in whatever aspect of your life, then you have to get rid of your own clutter. It is difficult to admit that we have our own unhealthy behaviors. We may get defensive about certain beliefs and values that we hold on to. I used to be an extremely emotionally numb person. I built my own fortress and stopped myself fom getting too close to anyone. It helped me cope in the past, but right now, it’s not helping me anymore. I used to be a neurotic perfectionist which has made me achieve a couple of things but did I feel good along the journey? To be honest I didn’t. When I became crystal clear about how I want to feel, that’s when I took on the task of cleaning my mental and emotional space. I grieved every phase that I had to let go of. But on the other side of that humility and constantly working on myself, was the true me, that I am genuinely proud of. So please, let go of the little you. Every stage of your life will require you to change, and that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

You have to stop holding yourself back from the amazing you who’s still hiding in that shell. You just need to be a little bit braver. You got this.

10 Morning Habits that will Create a Fantastic Life

Success leaves clues. Picture a person that you admire. Maybe there was a time when you said the words, “I want to be like him or her someday.” So how do we do it? How do we become the person that we want to be? Well, you study that person.

Based on the tons of stalking that I did with my idols such as Oprah Winfrey, Tony Robbins, Gabby Bernstein, Marie Forleo, and a lot more, they have one thing in common, a morning routine. Here are ten things that you can do every day to make sure that you will have a kickass life.

  1. Wake up early honey. 

The silence of early mornings will provide you with the stillness that is needed for you to maneuver the day with ease and a mindful spirit. If you ever felt like you’re a robot who does things just because you have to, then this is something that you really need to do. Have time for silence and stillness, and honey the best time to do that is early in the morning like 4 AM or 5 AM. You won’t regret doing it. So sleep early so you can have a peaceful start for tomorrow.

2. First words matter! Say thank you.

Waking up early should be followed by a gratitude statement. Words are powerful. In fact, it can set the tone of your day. Instead of getting angry at your alarm clock or cursing the universe, please do this world a favor, be appreciative. Say thank you to the higher power that you believe in. Gratitude and anger cannot happen at the same time. So if you start the day with a grateful heart, there’s a big chance that your day’s gonna be awesome. Say three things that you are grateful for. You can say, “Thank you universe cause I’m alive.” Or, “Thank you for my family, my job, my health and my friends.” We often take for granted what we have, but the fact that you’re alive, that’s quite amazing.

3. Meditate ‘Yo

Sit in stillness. You can turn on a relaxing instrumental music, or search a youtube video for meditation. This is scientifically proven. Meditation brings a lot of benefits to our health. With all these technology and distraction here and there, we need to make an effort to clarify our thoughts and just let the moment be. People right now are always rushing to do this and that and we forget to be more present. Meditation will bring presence in your life and a higher sense of awareness. It will give you a flow. The more calm your mind is, the more creative ideas will pop up and so you can be more productive and innovative throughout the day.

4. Set your intention. (And it better be good)

Intentions matter. Good intentions create a fulfilling life through positive actions. Make sure that your intentions will benefit not just you, but also the people that you interact with.  When you are doing good in this world or simply spreading a positive aura by smiling more often, people will gravitate towards you. They want to be with you more because you create such a warm environment for them. You will be love and the bonus is they will also love you.

5.  Ask for guidance sister.

Pray. Lean to a higher presence. Ask God, the universe, or any higher being/s that you believe in to guide you. There will be days when you need to make tough decisions. That’s the time when inner guidance comes in handy. When you are guided, you will trust that the universe will point you towards the right path. There’s less stress and anxiety because you surrendered to a higher power than you.

6. Eat your yummy breakfast. 

You guys know the benefits of eating breakfast.  It gives you the energy that you will need for the entire day. It also increases your satiety, which prevents you from binging. Please don’t tell me that you don’t have time for breakfast. If you have time for facebook then it means you have time for breakfast. Make sure that you eat healthy food.

7. Drink a hot beverage.

There’s something with coffee, tea, or lemon infused hot water that keeps you calm in the morning. Sit down and drink your coffee. Again, no emails or social media while doing this.  You have to keep your morning as calm and peaceful as possible because at work, there will be loads of distraction. Sip  your hot beverage with an attitude of appreciation for the present moment.

8. Put on some tunes. 

Music feeds your soul. You can play some tunes while taking a bath or applying makeup. There’s an unexplainable warmth that comes from listening to music. Take note, it must be instrumental. Lyrics makes you think (and gives you throwbacks), so inch away from that. All the thinking can be done later.

9. Move your muscle baby. 

Physical exercise brings a change in your physiology. If there’s a change in your current state it will bring about positive actions. Exercise feels good and the bonus is you will look good. Not all schedules permit time for early morning exercise, so if a morning workout is not possible, it’s perfectly fine to do it after you get home from work. You just have to make sure that your blood is flowing throughout your body  every day.

10. Practice mindfulness.

If you’re a big fan of multitasking then you might have to think about this one. When we multitask we decrease the quality of our actions. We can multitask in simple things such as listening to music while cleaning or doing laundry. But most of the time, we need to be in the moment. Just be. We are human beings. Appreciate the present moment, the now. That’s the only thing that is important. Notice your breath, your heartbeat, use your senses, relax your muscles, and take in every moment. Time flies so fast. You have to soak in every moment.

 

These are things that created a huge change in my life. It has made me more creative and more positive. It makes me a better teacher and accomplishing these creates a momentum in my day. A great day leads to a great week, a great month, a great year, and a great life. Give it a go and I know for sure that it will change your life.

As Chris Guillebeau once said, “the choices that we make now affects the opportunities available to us in the future.” 

 

 

Clarity

Have you ever felt like your life was like a repetitive cycle of failures? Or maybe you were so anxious because nothing exciting was happening or maybe the same problems kept on slamming you again and again. Let me guess, you even thought that you were a problem magnet.

I longed for an answer for the curse that I seemingly had. How can other people be happy, while I cannot. Or at least for me, happiness was fleeting. I felt like I had to savor the happy moments because if I don’t, I’ll miss out on that happy bubble and then it’ll pop and it would probably take a long time before that same bubble reappears.

If you’re at that place, please read on.

The moment you accept that you are not what happens to you, that is the start of your wonderful journey in this world. The reason why many people are miserable, getting addicted to drugs, alcohol, food, and TV is because we keep on looking for the solution outside of ourselves. We think that if we possess all these material stuff, happiness is automatic and it’ll be there to stay. But, look at all these celebrities, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, and Elvis Presley, they can have anything they want in this world. People love them. But why did they die of drug overdose? It’s because they kept on finding love outside of themselves.

The way to a fulfilled life is to know who you are. You must first have a sense of clarity of who you are in the first place. Who are you? You want to know the answer?

You are love.

Yep, you were born out of love. From your first breath, everything about you is love. That is your original design. You are a physical manifestation of love. But why are there so many depressed people? It’s because things that were happening outside of them shaped them to be a survival machine, and along the road, they forgot who they were. I’m writing this to tell you that no matter what mistakes you made, failures, or traumatic experience you’ve had, from the beginning, you are love.

When it’s clear to you, life is gonna be like a fairy tale. It’s a magical experience. There will be ups and downs but still, you have this stillness inside. At the core, you know that no matter how chaotic your outside is, you will be okay. You know that your mission in this world is to radiate whatever it is that is already inside you. This jaded world cannot ever steal your sunshine.  You will be part of this universe’s flow. You are one with the universe, and not against its natural rhythm.

If only more people realize this simple but powerful truth, believe me a massive change will happen. We will stop hating  and fighting each other. We will lift humanity and truly make this world a wonderful place to live. Start with yourself. Every time a heated situation or a challenge comes, speak these words, “I am love.”

 

How do I become perfect?

Let me tell you a story about a girl who hates seeing herself in the mirror.

What I saw In the Mirror

I wasn’t always a fat kid. It was just when I turned second grade that I started getting fat. I was getting bigger and bigger until I hated looking at myself in the mirror. I looked at the mirror and at a young age I felt like there was always something wrong with my face and with how I look.

I would often play with Barbie dolls and would just be in an imaginary world where I am as beautiful as Barbie. But Barbie doesn’t have a huge mole on her face and she was skinny and she has a Ken. I will never look like Barbie so I thought I’d just collect them and imagine myself being them.

I was also very fond of television. Almost all lead actresses were skinny girls. Whenever there was a fat girl, she gets told that she was a pig or that her parents left her all alone in the kitchen that’s why she got so fat. And in the end, she’ll transform into a gorgeus skinny woman.

If you grew up in the Philippines, you’d just be surprised by how so many people just see you  for the way you look. My extended relatives often tell me that my nose was flat or I was fat. Nobody told me that I was beautiful. I never felt beautiful. I never felt enough. The media, my aunts and uncles, and almost everyone around me has this standard of a beautiful girl and if you don’t fit in that standard, you’re ugly or ordinary.

I did not continue to hone my passion in dancing because I thought nobody can lift me because I was so heavy. Clothes don’t look good on me. No one would want to be my partner. I was ugly. Every time I look at the mirror I call the girl in the reflection: fat, ugly, fat, ugly. I hated pictures because I didn’t like what I saw. I stopped smiling at any camera because I thought even if I smile, it won’t change a thing, I would still be fat and ugly.

These insecurities crippled me in terms of my self-confidence. I was looking for acceptance and validation. I was waiting for someone to tell me that I am beautiful. But that day didn’t come until I was 21 years old. So, for 21 years, I saw myself as an ugly person.

How I dealt with it

Since I couldn’t be noticed for the way I look, I tried anything that would make people notice me. It was in second grade when my teachers started to notice that I was a smart kid. My English teacher would let us read short stories and then she had a graded recitation after. The questions were basic, what, where, when, I can easily answer those. But for the why questions, no one in the class could think or articulate the answer. But, I can! So I bravely raised my hand and answered her why question in straight English. My teacher saw something in me that day. After that, I was motivated to go to school. My second grade teacher saw my potential. She included me in the “damath” practice. She made me practice declamation pieces. It was just a blast. She would hug me and I think I was her favorite student that time. Finally, there’s a place that accepts me, school. As long as I do great, people would love me. This included my parents and my teachers.

School became an escape, a way to cover the imperfections. I finally was shining because I was good at something. I excelled to be noticed and loved.

Excellence and Perfection

Growing up as an achiever is like a double-edged sword. Yes, I get the attention. But, little did everyone know that I was being hard on myself. I started seeing being ‘the best’ as my identity. If I join a math competition and I don’t win, I’d be so depressed. I just wanted to win, I wanted to be the best. I kept on comparing myself with my classmates. It was hard for me to accept that no matter how much I work hard, there will be people who will be better than me in all aspects. Sometimes I don’t sleep just to prepare for an exam, but still another person would beat my score and I’d still be disappointed with myself.

To put it bluntly, I mistook excellence for perfection. It thought they were the same thing. For every result that I get, there’s no joy when I realize that I wasn’t perfect. I remember being obsessed with my study table. It has to be clean or I won’t study. Everything should be perfect or else things would turn out bad. I was beating myself up so bad. I got obsessed with being perfect to the point of depression. I would hide in my apartment for a couple of days just because I failed an exam in chemistry. I got in the top university in the Philippines so I thought I could be the best there too.

All that mentality was wrong. It took a lot of failures and disappointments for me to realize that I cannot ever be perfect. As long as I was doing my best, that was enough. Trying to be perfect stole the joy in learning. I really was hard on myself all this time. Instead of trying to be the best, I focused on having the best time in university, being happy.

Acceptance

I cannot be perfect. I will never be a beautiful girl based on media standards. It’s always the skinny girl with perfect skin and pointed nose who gets to be called beautiful. That’s not me and that will never be me. I am Kate, a 5’2″, pear-shaped woman, with a flat nose, a wide forehead, and a mole on the right side of her nose. My hips are wider than most girls and I weigh more than the girls you see in magazines and TV.

But, I began to love how I look. I would often take selfies and would even get to be in photo shoots of my organization and direct their poses. Take it from the girl who used to hate the camera. I became quite good in enhancing other women’s beauty by giving them a makeover. I love fashion and clothes and reflecting my personality through what I’m wearing. I eat good food and I feel so healthy even if I am a plus-size girl.

I graduated in my dream University and I’m now living abroad and exploring the world. I accepted who I am. Sometimes I look in the mirror and see a fat girl, but, there’s this new woman inside me that tells that old Kate to stop. Destructive thoughts are now being blocked by the new me.

This is for You

This is the meaning of perfection in a dictionary.

  • Perfection is the condition, state, or quality of being free or as free as possible from all flaws or defects.
  • Perfection is something that cannot be improved.

Oops. Do you want that? Do you want to be a person that doesn’t improve?

Now that I’ve shared my perfection obsession story, I want you to do these things whenever you feel like you have the dire need to be perfect or when you’re disappointed with yourself.

  1. Look for role models.

Even if the media is portraying all these beautiful women (skinny, tall, and has a perfect skin) should be how we look like, let me tell you something: how you look is totally fine.

Stop trying to look like a  Kendall Jenner or Gigi Hadid. Start trying to be the true you. The perfectly imperfect amazing heck of a woman you. For me, I look up at admirable women such as Oprah Winfrey and Maya Angelou. I am more concerned with what women do than how they look like. I think beauty without depth is useless. Look up to women who are doing something great in this world.

2. Be a role model.

Inspire other girls to accept who they are. As John Legend says, “Love your curves and all your edges. All your perfect imperfections.”  Spread the body acceptance movement and tell other people that it’s okay, to make mistakes, to lose, and to fail. Be that person who embraces all your imperfections and tell the world, hey it’s me. If you don’t like how I look or who I am then screw you. You are here to inspire, to spread positivity and acceptance. You are not meant to criticize, you are meant to be the cheer leader of others who are fighting their own battles.

3. You are enough.

Whatever you are right now, that is enough. Wherever you are in your career, right at this moment, that is enough. Take baby steps but please, do the world a favor, stop being hard on yourself. Celebrate your victories. Cry for a while when you lose and then get back up. Whatever you did, that was enough. You are enough.

4. Stop expecting perfection.

When you finally accept how flawed you are and be okay with it, you will also be okay with other people’s imperfections. You will see them for who they are and not for who you expect them to be. You will also learn to love them.

5. You are not meant to be perfect. You are meant to be whole – Jane Fonda

You are meant to be a whole person. How do you do that? By accepting what is, and not focusing on what it’s supposed to be.

Accepting imperfection takes a lot of practice. But, when you master it, oh what a breath of fresh air comes. It’s like a big rock is lifted off your chest. It’s like having a new pair of eyeglasses, finally seeing the world the way it is and being okay with it. I hope you’re happy with who you are, but if you’re not, continue working on it. Remember that each one of us is a work in progress.

To the person reading this, to me, you are enough. You may not be perfect, but your imperfections make this world more interesting. Thank you for being you.

We don’t need much to be happy

There are three people who make me smile every day when I see them. They are not my friends, and I don’t actually know them. I bump into them at work, at home, and in market, but they don’t have a clue of how valuable their presence is. They just taught me a lot and they don’t know anything about it.

Our School Cleaner

Every day, I would see our school cleaner doing her job. She’s mopping floors and scrubbing here and there. We would greet each other when she comes to our office and when I see her I just see a woman who’s very happy in her job. She would have this big smile every day. Sometimes I wonder how she can smile when her task of making everything clean, for me, is so hard. But every single day, she would say good morning and make the surroundings sparkly. She cleans well. The previous cleaner in our building was a sad lady. But our current cleaner? She is a wonderful person to see very day. She does her job well, and she is happy.

The Egg Vendor

On Mondays, I pass by a woman selling different kinds of eggs. She can speak a little bit of English and whenever I buy eggs from her, she smiles in joy. One time, my money was one thousand and she doesn’t have change for it so she ran somewhere to get the change. In my previous experiences, vendors would often get angry when you give them a large cash and they don’t have change. But with this lady, she was even smiling as she was running to look for change. Every week, I would buy from her just because her happiness is viral. She even gives me one extra egg because I’m a loyal customer. She radiates.

Our Condo’s Security Guard

We have three security guards in rotation in our place. Our favorite guard is the one who always smiles and opens the door when we’re taking a long time to get the key card. He is happy every time we see him. My roommates and I would sometimes give him food because he is just such a nice person. I never see him sleep while on duty and I don’t know there’s just something about him that’s extra shiny.

So what’s the lesson I’ve learned from them?

We don’t need much to be happy.

Happiness is a choice. As long as we do everything with love, we can be happy. I used to think that I’ll be happy if I am rich, if I have nice clothes and a lot of money. Well, if you have a lot of material stuff, it will definitely make you more comfortable in this world. But comfort is not always associated with happiness. You may have everything you want, but still be miserable.

I saw in those three wonderful people that happiness is a decision. Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean that you should be complacent and be okay with less. What I’m trying to say is, yes, you should work for what you want, but you can be happy along the way. If we’re too serious and too stressed just so we can make tons of money, it will backfire on us. It can be through a disease or through personal relationships being sacrificed.

We only get one shot in life. After this life, there’s none. So why do we have to spend it being unhappy, selfish, and miserable? If there’s one thing we should focus on, I think it should be figuring out how to make our self and the people around us more happy. How do we fight misery, sadness, and even violence? We can do this by creating a happy space. The first step is internal happiness. Start within and radiate. Try it, and you’ll see.

Writing is Freedom

It was a rainy afternoon. I just finished the qualifying exam for a mathematics training. My neck was aching from the brain draining test. I hope I would pass. But still, I wasn’t tired. I was even looking forward to that day because I’ll get to visit my favorite store in the mall, National Bookstore. We live far from the city so it’s not that accessible to us. It is the haven for all the stuff I’m obsessed with. You see, I am the notebook, diary, planner, and pens type of girl. Many of my classmates love to go to Penshoppe or Bench, but I was more on the nerdy side. I loved the feeling of being surrounded by books, pens, and paper.

Writing has played a lot of roles in my life. For me, it is my kind of art. You see, I’m not a visually creative person. I can’t sketch or draw. I don’t have a way with colors and imagining things in 3D has been a weakness ever since. But writing? I don’t know how with just grabbing a pen and paper and using the vocabulary inside your head, can you have such a cathartic feeling. It’s like when I write, I feel that a little bit of me is relieved. It’s as if the stress goes away with every word that I pour on my laptop or on a piece of paper. When I write, my mind gets more organized. Suddenly, it’s more calm and simple.

The Day that Writing became my Best Friend

In my sophomore year in high school, my English teacher asked us to have a journal. Every day, we write on it about how our day went. Our student teacher checked it regularly and I guess my entry was quite different than my classmates’.  It wasn’t a happy diary. That time, there was so much rage inside me, so many whys, it was just what I needed. I had to tell someone or something about what I was feeling. I was being bullied and at the same time my parents were always fighting. I couldn’t pretend that everything was okay, so I decided to write it on that diary.  I can still remember the color of the notebook I used. It was a green Cattleya notebook with glitters and flowers on the cover. My student teacher didn’t like what I was writing, maybe that’s why I got a low grade, but you know what? I didn’t care. Writing on it made me feel better. I didn’t write to impress anyone. I wrote for me. That’s when I knew that writing will always be a part of my life, a hobby, an art, and my best friend.

Writing Gave me Confidence

As I’ve mentioned, I don’t write creatively. In fact, when I write, it’s just expressing what I think using simple words. My grade school writing coach made me write editorials, which I really hated. At that time I just didn’t like it. I felt like it was so forced out of me. In high school, I tried to write news and feature but still, my writing coach made me write editorials. However, when I’m chosen to write for science and math essay contests, I remember how I loved it. It was like exploring a different world. It was analyzing the current facts and trying to communicate your thoughts about something you love. Those were the moments that I felt like this is what I want to write about. I could say that, hey, I can write.  I became more confident that when I was writing about subjects that I love, even the weirdest ones, I’d be like a free person. I knew at those times, that I loved writing.

Writing as a Medicine

When problems arise and your heart feels like it’s going to burst, grab a pen and paper, and write it out. Even if the message cannot be sent to that person, embedding your feelings to something permanent will help you feel that release. I remembered when I fell in love with a boy one time and I just couldn’t say it to him personally so I got my journal and wrote everything that I wanted to tell him. Well, I didn’t give the letter cause that would be too embarrassing (good decision though). When my heart got broken, I wrote there every day until I realized that I was okay again. I got tired of writing about him and just had enough. It was like I transferred all my heartaches to that journal, and so I was left with less heartache until it was totally gone. No more what ifs or whys, it was just  me, moving on. I felt the hurt and writing helped me get through that. Psychiatrists advise patients to have a journal. In my experience, it’s true. Writing makes you aware of your thoughts. When you read that entry over and over again you’ll have an aha moment. You can recognize what you should change or how you can respond to a situation.

Writing as a Pensieve

If you’re a Harry Potter fan, you might be familiar with the Pensieve. It’s where wizards would store memories so that they can revisit those anytime. I think having a journal or a blog is just like owning a pensieve. You can revisit the memories. I’ve owned a diary since fourth grade and when I want a good laugh, I read it. You can also see how far you’ve went in life. You’ve grown up. Your concerns are different from the ten year old you. And, isn’t that amazing? Sometimes we feel as if nothing’s happening or there’s no progress at all but if you look back, you’ll see how different you are and how many obstacles you’ve gone through. Being able to read your past thoughts will let you have a sense of accomplishment. Or maybe, you’ll realize that things don’t have to be complicated because at the end of the day, everything works out after all. Time traveling is possible when you write.

Writing is Freedom

Remember that moment when you were running on a lawn or sitting on swing or playing seesaw? That is how free you can be with words. Words are so powerful that it wakes up something inside you. I think as human beings, we are so lucky to have this way with words. We are just privileged with the capacity to express our ideas and emotions. We are free. Happiness, I think, has a lot to do with freedom. When you are feeling dangerously free, that’s when you’re happy. When you’re not afraid to express yourself, then what could possibly go wrong? Writing gives me that feeling. Whatever gives you that, keep on doing it. 

DIY Pattaya Escape

Thailand is said to be one of the best travel destinations in the world. It is home to relaxing beaches and a very unique culture. I’ll explain sometime why I find Thai culture as weird and amazing at the same time. Since I named this blog as ‘epistleofadventures,’ let me share our Pattaya City adventure.

First off, I am a budget traveler, I go to the cheapest place ever because I am more invested in spending for adventures than luxurious accommodation or fancy food.

How did we manage going to Pattaya, the Sin City of Asia with a budget of 1000 baht?

  1. PLAN

If you’re a budget traveler, it would be good to plan your trip ahead so that you won’t spend too much. We were a group of five and so expenses were divided, and that helped a lot. We searched for the cheapest means of transportation, how to save on food, and places we can go to and all those other stuff.

2. PACK YOUR FOOD

A day before our trip, we went to the grocery, pitched in 150 baht each and cooked. We don’t speak Thai so it’s hard to look for a restaurant that’s cheap and yummy. Believe me, some food here, looks so appetizing on the menu, and when you taste it, you might be surprised, it’s usually too spicy or has a lot of herbs. If your taste buds are not accustomed to Thai food, better yet, bring your own food.  We cooked all time Filipino favorites ‘lumpiang shanghai’ and ‘adobo.’ We also made egg sandwiches and brought our own 1.5 liters of water. Just a reminder Thailand is a tropical country so you can’t just leave the house without water.

Here’s our itinerary:

  1. We left Bangkok at 5:30 AM via taxi from our condo to the van terminal. The van left at around 6:30 AM. It cost us around 200 baht. You can also go to the bus terminal in Ekkamai to go to Pattaya. I think that’s a better option. It was an almost 3-hour trip from Bangkok cause the van kept on switching passengers with other vans. Finally, we got to our destination, at Pattaya Pier.

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From Pattaya Pier, we went to our first destination, the Buddha Mountain. You can ride a blue songthaew or what they refer to as a taxi in the area. One trip to Buddha Mountain is worth 500 baht.

BUDDHA MOUNTAIN

The Buddha Mountain is located in Khao Cheejan, it’s about 30 minutes from the pier. It’s an amazing thing to see. I can’t even imagine how they were able to carve the Buddha image there.

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It was created in 1996 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s accession in the throne. The Buddha image was carved out of the cliff using laser technology. It is 130 meters high and 70 meters wide, hence it’s one of the biggest Buddha images in the world. (https://www.renown-travel.com/daytripspattaya/buddhamountain.html)

Tip for travelers: bring shades and a hat. Wear sunscreen too.

SILVERLAKE VINEYARD

If you want some Europe feels in Pattaya, you can head off to Silverlake Vineyard. We were able to negotiate with the driver, so for 600 baht, he took us to Silverlake. The 600 includes our return trip to Jomtien beach.

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Silverlake was a breath of fresh air. It’s a relaxing place and has a magnificent view. The plantations and tiny houses plus the flowers were so beautiful.  It has a coffee shop where you can buy their products. My friend bought a blueberry jam, which according to them tasted so good.

They also have available vineyard tours with wine tasting. There were two kinds of tours. We were actually in a hurry so we decided not to take the tour. It was a huge place so if you have the time, you can take the tour. The front gardens, fountains, and statues were enough to make us happy. On our way to Jomtien, we stopped at a new place, Upsidedown Pattaya. It was still in construction but I bet this place is gonna be packed when it opens. received_1182448875118912ACCOMODATION

There are a lot of hotels along the Jomtien Beach. We got the backpacker dormitory for 300 baht. It was a nice place. Since there’s five of us, it was just like we rented the entire room. There are three double decks, a common dining area, and kitchen. Everything was there. We just heated our food in the microwave and we were all set.

JOMTIEN BEACH

After getting a few hours of sleep, we went to the beach, rented a reclining chair and just relaxed. It was a very sunny afternoon, perfect for listening to good music and lying down.

The beach is good for walking and eating food. It’s perfect for a quiet afternoon while watching the sunset. However, it’s not a good place to swim. I’m from the Philippines, so when I say beach, what I imagine is a very breathtaking view. Sad to say, you can only enjoy Jomtien Beach if you will go on banana boat, or go kayaking. Swimming is a no no. There were so many dead fish and jellyfish that I almost cried. I soaked in the water for less than five minutes and decided that it was not worth it.

WALKING STREET

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Well, well, this was the highlight of our trip. The walking street is famous in the whole world for its peculiar night life. I’ve read somewhere that you can’t go to Pattaya and not experience being in the Walking Street. The songthaew from Jomtien to Pattaya is 10 baht. We left at nine pm and when we were there I was in state of shock.

I haven’t even imagined that places like that exists. I won’t bore you with the boring details. What I can just say is, the stories are true. We went to a bar, ordered a few beers, and danced our hearts out. At 1 AM, we rode a songthaew to Jomtien.

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That was our Pattaya escape. We stayed in the dormitiory for a night and went home first thing in the morning. There’s a songthaew in Jomtien Beach that can take you to the city proper and you can ride a van to Bangkok. It was just a quick getaway and for travelers who want to experience Pattaya, it’s very easy and doesn’t need to be expensive.


 

Don’t forget to have fun from time to time. Yes, we should have goals, but what’s life if we won’t enjoy it?