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. 

100 Lessons Learned in 2020

As 2020 ends, a lot of realizations come to mind. It has been an admittedly chaotic year. All of us, to a certain degree, are traumatized. I wish I could say that I was on cloud nine but let’s be realistic. More than a million worldwide deaths due to a pandemic is heavy. In fact, I am in awe of how human beings can still handle everything, probably because we don’t have a choice, but, from the farthest corners of my heart, I am proud of all of us just for surviving. Here are the lessons I learned this year. I hope you create a list of your own too.


1. There is magic in spending time with family.
2. Despite the odds telling you that you can’t, you absolutely can.
3. Do not look for what isn’t there, appreciate and be grateful for what you have.
4. The love that is for you will not be forced, it will come as a surprise.
5. Make the first move.
6. Have a power passe.
7. It’s okay to not be okay.
8. Take life one moment at a time.
9. Get a pet.
10. Be mindful of what you consume (social media, news, tv).
11. Yoga does wonders.
12. Meditation will keep you sane.
13. This is not the time to be harsh on your body.
14. Listen to your mentors.
15. When you’re sad, watch Kdrama.
16. If you weren’t productive this year, it’s okay!
17. Quit coffee.
18. Write on your journal.
19. Keep writing on that gratitude list.
20. Watch more movies with your little brother.
21. Think twice or thrice before you post.
22. Stay true to your goals but be flexible with your methods.
23. Communication is key.
24. Everbody’s having a hard time, exude grace.
25. Stop overworking, nothing is more precious than your health and wellbeing.
26. When you’re feeling helpless, help someone.
27. Keep on doing your art.
28. Accept what is.
29. Feeling shitty? Take a bath.
30. Do the workout that is fun for you.
31. Spend time with nature.
32. Stop waiting, start doing.
33. The government, the economy, or any external situation won’t change. Do what’s good for you.
34. Social media is a myth.
35. Structure is key to pandemic anxiety.
36. Keep your study table sparkly and sacred.
37. Stop counting calories
38. Comparison is poison.
39. Honor your body.
40. Drink lots of water.
41. Make an effort to call your family.
42. Everything takes time, especially worthwhile things.
43. Alcoholic beverage is a no no.
44. It’s okay to not be the best.
45. Music is therapeutic.
46. The pain of loss will always be there, but you will learn to live with it.
47. Savor the present moment, you never know when it’s your last day.
48. Make time for your art.
49. You can adapt even in the worst of times.
50. Say I love you.
51. Give yourself a treat, watch netflix.
52. Meditate upon waking up instead of scrolling on your newsfeed.
53. Give yourself a self-care day.
54. Create a schedule.
55. Invest in a good planner.
56. Trust the process, even if the path isn’t clear.
57. You don’t need to follow every self-help guru.
58. Microsteps are powerful.
59. Invest in high-quality content books.
60. Cleaning relieves stress.
61. Just have three goals for the day.
62. Pause and breathe before you react.
63. Be kind to yourself.
64. Breathe.
65. Keep on learning.
66. Stick with the study methods that work for you.
67. Any negativity goes down the drain.
68. Talk about ideas, not people.
69. Focus on what you can control.
70. Are you feeling angry? Put your rage on a page.
71. Have a consistent sleeping schedule.
72. Spend time with nature.
73. You don’t need to add that item to your shoppee cart.
74. Eat less.
75. Learn from every person you encounter.
76. Understad another’s point of view before criticizing.
77. Stop the hate language.
78. Say goodbye to expectations.
79. Be the change you wish to see.
80. Wear your mask.
81. Engage with life. Don’t be passive.
82. Eat meals on time.
83. Prepare for the worst during a typhoon.
84. Recovery takes time.
85. Volunteer.
86. Stop keeping things that you don’t need. Give it away.
87. Honor your pain but don’t dwell.
88. Stay curious.
89. Pray.
90. Trust that the universe has your back.
91. Stop weighing yourself every damn day.
92. Do your best and fuck the rest.
93. A person’s rudeness is a reflection of their own pain. It’s never about you.
94. Maintain boundaries.
95. Unfollow any influencer that makes you feel shitty about your body.
96. Be patient.
97. Choose love.
98. Have faith.
99. Keep going.
100. Surrender.

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.

Admitting Addictions

Do you have an addiction?

An addiction can be anything. It could be drugs, alcohol, sex, binge watching, social media, or food. It can even be as mundane as nail biting or as weird as eating your hair.

As for me I have recently learned that I had addictive patterns. I was addicted to scrolling through social media, binge watching, worst case scenario thinking, beating myself up (mentally), and eating. Believe me, these addictive patterns has caused me a lot of missed opportunities and major life mistakes.

Any addiction is bad. Period.

It doesn’t do any good to your physical and mental well-being. But first you must understand that an addictive pattern has a source. People who are addicted to drugs, smoking, and alcohol has that same feeling when we get addicted to something. They can’t get off it until they had awareness, and a one on one talk with the discomfort that they are trying to avoid.

Sometimes we even wonder if we are the problem. Maybe you think it’s impossible. You’ve probably asked why can’t you stop yourself from grabbing that next bar of chocolate? Or why are you so hooked to a TV drama that you totally forget about your deadlines?

Every addiction has a source. As my spirituality mentor Gabby Bernstein says, there is a feeling underneath any addiction. We get addicted to something for a lot of reasons and usually it is to escape from a feeling.

You are not alone in this addictive behavior. So far, I have dealt with my social media, binge watching, overthinking, and self-beating  addictions. Currently, I am in the process of healing my food addiction. I still am praying and researching about how I can overcome my love and hate relationship with food.

To the few who are reading this blog, know that you are not alone. Everybody deals with an addiction, whatever that addiction is.

I will be writing about how I overcame my  unhealthy addictive patterns and I hope that you will be here with me. Let us support each other to be our most authentic selves.

I’m here. I’ll listen.