Of dreams coming true

I still don’t have a concrete reason as to why I chose this field. I just know deep in my heart that I am exactly where I am meant to be. To you, who’s reading this: Dreams do come true. As Oprah Winfrey once said, “Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.” I believe that every tiny step, bump on the road, curve ball and chaos that has happened in the past, has led to this moment.

A week ago, I just graduated medical school. Yes, finally, after four years of sleepless nights, unlimited exams, a global pandemic, here we are. Med school is now over and done. Hooray! I have been patting myself in the back for God knows how long because (if you have been following this blog since its early days) I really never thought that this day would be possible.

To be honest, I don’t know what to feel. I am happy, grateful and relieved. I am happy because, at least the bulk of studying is temporarily over. I am grateful because of all the people, who made this caveat possible. I am also relieved because, it is now less exhausting, at least senior internship will not require me to go on duty for 36 hours.

Junior internship was exhausting albeit life changing overall. If there is a word that is more extreme than that, please tell me because as far as I know, I reached my limit in terms of overall exhaustion. Medical school was hard. Medical school stole so much time that I could have spent with the important people in my life, but aah why is this still so fulfilling.

This brings me back to one of the toxic shifts in the medical ward wherein I had an epiphany. When I was still in my undergraduate days in UP, I used to love watching Marvel movies. I would download and watch every character’s movie, Iron Man, The Hulk, Thor, Captain America, etc. To be honest, I do not understand why I loved those movies, but for some unknown reason, I revel in watching Superheroes. 

Maybe because they give hope in impossible situations. They have principles that they try their best to live up to. They use their intelligence in thinking of the best strategies to combat the bad guy or to solve a problem that could lead to the annihilation of human race. I know it’s quite romanticized, but I hope you understand what I am trying to say. They try their best even if it means giving their lives in the pursuit of the greater good. I love those storylines. 

Is that related to me wanting to be a doctor? Is that why no matter how hard it gets, I’d still do this anyway? I am not a superhero with special powers. I know for a fact that I am just a simple human being who’s trying to help out sick people. I’m just a random human who loves Science, and gets a high in making strategies that solve health issues of people. As compared to those fictional superheroes, I am boring.

I still don’t have a concrete reason as to why I chose this field. I just know deep in my heart that I am exactly where I am meant to be. To you, who’s reading this: Dreams do come true. As Oprah Winfrey once said, “Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.” I believe that every tiny step, bump on the road, curve ball and chaos that has happened in the past, has led to this moment.

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. 

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.

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.

Prepare and Dare

Do you remember how 2018 was? It was so good to you but it was also heartbreaking in some ways. You won and you lost. So many things happened right? There were a lot of surprises, some where good and some were bad but what matters is you learned.

You learned that gratitude is essential.

Every day there is still something to be grateful for. You might be in too much pain, but the sun still rose, your dad cooked breakfast for you, you have family who unconditionally looks out for you. Isn’t it amazing how everything seems orchestrated? There are people who truly care for you. You can make a list of those amazing humans and also the circumstances which brought you to where you are right now.

Love is found in the mundane.

Our princess mentality taught us that love should be in a form of a knight in shining armor or grand romantic expressions. But in 2018, maybe you saw and realized that it’s actually carved in the simple, repetitive actions. It’s when your bestfriend checks up on you, or when your friend tags you in a meme. It’s when someone listens to your rants or eats lunch with you. Love is when your little brother hugs you or when your cousin plays with you. It is actually everywhere, sometimes we’re just too clouded with pain and anger to notice it. I hope you learn to look for it, even in in the most difficult situations.

Accept. Accept. Accept.

Whatever it is, accept. Whether it’s good or bad accept. This Earth is not a paradise. Maybe you got lucky and got a fair share of wealth or maybe it’s the opposite. You may be slaying your goals or not getting the results you want. Nevertheless, you must still learn to accept what is. Because only with a heart that acknowledges what the present moment offers, can you operate from a genuine place. Learn how to be okay with what you have.

Try your best to see with compassion.

This is really hard to do especially when someone is just rude to you for some reason, and you don’t understand what you did wrong for that person to hate you. Even if the other person is just too mean, you have to do your best to look at the person and situation with compassion. Their behavior is not about you, it’s about their pain. They are just projecting that to you. Probably because you are a reflection of who they can’t be or unresolved childhood issues that has nothing to do with you.

At the end of the day, only yourself can save you.

You should be your own best friend and cheer leader. Stop relying on others. You are allowed to ask for help but you must not put your life on someone else’s hands. Be the captain of your own ship. Discover who you are, your dreams and passions and relentlessly follow it. More importantly, take responsibility for everything that happens in your life. You have no one to blame but yourself. Be mature enough. Respect other people’s time. Save yourself, don’t wait for others to do it for you.

Fake it till you make it.

No one has everything figured out, even the so called geniuses still has knowledge gaps. Sometimes you just have to pretend that you know what you’re doing even if you really don’t. Prepare and dare. Claim success like it’s your birthright. Who knows, you might just wake up living the dreams you never thought you could have.

We still have a lot to learn. This thought makes this new year even more exciting. I hope you do better this year, but if you don’t, know that it’s okay to fall short, what matters is you did the best that you could with what you have. 💕

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.

A Prose for the Hurting

Sometimes you wake up less grateful than you should be

Seeing more of the disappointments that this life has struck you

Sometimes you get tired of being who you are

Strength is inconsistent though you try you still fall down

You may shed a tear or two or utter curse words

You may go back to your cave and shut everybody out

But please let yourself be because sometimes this is what you need

To lock yourself in your world and not give a damn

Sweet girl embrace yourself and be okay with what you’re feeling

You are not bad, it’s okay, being weak is part of living

Pain urges to be felt and feel it you must

Crying makes you human, always remember that

Sleep dear child and let it wear off

There’s another day, another chance, a promise for pain to fade out

I know that you’re tired of living like this

But hey, there’s the sun, the moon, and stars how much more does it take?

The beauty of this world is enough to face the day

Cheer up, maybe stars will align someday

And when that moment comes you will smile and say

Thank God I stood up, thank God I lived up to this day.

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. 

The Lucky Headband

It was my 15th birthday. I was in third year high school. Everything was happening the way it’s not supposed to be. I hit my lowest low in class ranking, from being rank 2 to rank 16. I was devastated

But…

My grandfather gave me a gift on my 15th birthday. It was a headband with a circle design and a smiley printed on it. It was a different and sort of funny headband. It was a happy headband.

That time, headbands were on trend. Though, most of my classmates would wear a headband with a ribbon on it. Sparkly headbands were cool that time. Still, I wore my happy headband with a weird and funny design with much pride.

Fast forward I was in fourth year high school. I still got my happy headband. Its meaning to me changed since then. I was a student leader slash academic person (ew!) in high school, I would often compete in writing contests, science and math quiz bee, and whatever quiz bees were there. One time, I decided to wear my happy headband  as a fashion statement. For me,  it looks so good with my uniform, and I hate it when my hair falls off when I am on concentration mode in contests.

When I decided to wear the happy headband, it was at a moment when I was losing my confidence in myself because it seemed like everything was falling apart, my sister got sick, my parents separated, and so I was falling off the winning wagon. In short, I often lost and got depressed.

So, I started wearing the happy headband. And, for some reason that I didn’t understand, I was on a winning streak again. Every time I wore it, I’d win. So I established a superstitious belief that if I wear my happy headband on days that I will be needing a lot of luck, I’ll win.

My happy headband made me feel like myself again. I was passionate with everything and I was, happy again. I took care of that headband.

But one day, I accidentally broke it.

I was frantic. What on earth will I do? Without it, I’m doomed. I won’t win. For the next competition, I still wore my broken, happy headband, but this time, I lost. I blamed myself for not taking care of my lucky charm. Why was I so stupid? The luck was gone, and I will lose forever.

At that time, studying was my life and competing made me forget about all the problems at home. I basked in the feeling of winning. At least, I have this one area in my life that doesn’t suck. When I lost, it felt as if I won’t be happy again. Maybe, that was it. Maybe I had my happy moments and that was it for me.

I used to believe in luck.

If I put coins in my shoe on a very important day, I know that amazing things will happen. If I wear my lucky blouse, it’s gonna be a good day. If I wear black, I’ll be gloomy. If I wear my happy headband, I’ll be happy and I’ll win.

As I grew up, I didn’t have my happy headband anymore. I stopped believing that certain objects can give me the luck that I need. I stopped believing that my happiness, or my dreams coming true would rely on any external object or the circumstances I’m in. I stopped escaping the bad days, instead, I faced them. I stopped getting angry at my alarm clock for ringing at 5 AM and forcing me to go to work. I stopped blaming God, or other people for the misfortune I’m experiencing. I stopped asking God, why me?

I used to run. I thought that everything was a competition, that money will solve all problems, and that success relies on how famous, or rich you are.

I used to run. When situations get out of control, I run away. I would escape, and run as far as I can. I thought that if I run, the monsters would disappear.

But I was wrong. Life taught me that I don’t have to run away. I don’t need a happy headband to make me feel good and conquer the world. All I needed was to be my own best friend. I needed to be my own cheerleader so that I can be brave when I start being afraid. I needed to be my own healthy critic, to make me realize, when I am being wrong. I needed to learn how to cry on my own shoulder when everything seemed too much. To see other people in the best light, to learn to forgive, to learn to be okay. To know when enough is enough and not take bullshit from other people. To be free. To be loving. To be inspired. And of course, to be there for other people.

No more lucky headband, just me, my head, and a big heart.

That was all I needed after all.