Personal ‘Life Hacks’ That Kept Me Sane Over The Years…

“There is, I have heard, a little thing called sunrise, in which the sun reverses the process we all viewed the night before. You might assume such a thing as mythical as those beasts that guard the corners of the earth, but I have it on the finest authority, and have, indeed, from time to time, regarded it with my own eyes.” ― Lauren Willig, The Garden Intrigue

“There is, I have heard, a little thing called sunrise, in which the sun reverses the process we all viewed the night before. You might assume such a thing as mythical as those beasts that guard the corners of the earth, but I have it on the finest authority, and have, indeed, from time to time, regarded it with my own eyes.” ― Lauren Willig, The Garden Intrigue

Today, I turn 45.

Looking back at the year I had, I have nary a complaint. Yes, I had my ups and downs — and have done things that I am not proud of — yet, the year-that-was was a good year for me still.

And here, I share with you some ‘philosophies’ that have kept me going through the years…

1. Put some S.A.L.T. (Spend special Attention to the Little Things) in everything you do.

Negativity should have no place in our daily lives. But since we do not live in a utopian society, negativism, almost always, finds its way into our day-to-day routines. So, before negative thoughts and emotions creep its way into our psyche and cripple us emotionally, psychologically, and yes, even physically, we’ve gotta purge ’em out of our system!

A good cure to keep negative vibes away is: SALT WATER — Sweat. Tears. The sea.

Feeling lazy and bored? Try running, jogging, trekking. Sweat it out.

Someone broke your heart? Cry yourself an ocean. Wash the grief away with tears.

Stressed from too much work? Let the salty sea breeze caress your face.

2. Just D.O. I.T. (Dare to do Original Ideas Totally)

We are faced with many uncertainties in life. You’ve been through these things millions of times, I’m sure. But how many of those times have you truly taken that advice, and gave something new and different the old college try? It can be as simple as dyeing your hair blonde or it can be something more daring, like sky diving. Whatever you choose to do, don’t ever let the words “I can’t…” escape your lips without actually trying it out first.

Fear can cripple you and prevent you from living the life you shoulda-coulda-woulda lived. Most of the time, these shoulda, coulda, wouldas are generally followed by still wantas.

“Fear, is every problem’s bottom line, and you can’t be afraid to start at the bottom if you want to solve your problems.” — I Would If I Could and I Can, James H. Hoke

3. Do not be S.A.D. (Spending the day in Abject Disillusionment). L.O.L.! (Live Out Loud!)

Today, I choose NOT to be… S.A.D.; instead, I will be here to… L.O.L.

Finally, some "me" time

Finally, some “me” time

Martha Washington declares, “I am determined to be cheerful and happy in whatever situation I may find myself. For I have learned that the greater part of our misery or unhappiness is determined not by our circumstance but by our disposition.”

I’m gonna do the same.

Maybe, these lines from The Mighty, Mighty Bosstones will clarify my point further:

Have you ever had the odds stacked up so high
You need a strength most don’t possess?
Or has it ever come down to do or die
You’ve got to rise above the rest?

No? Well…
I never had to knock on wood
But I know someone who has
Which makes me wonder if I could
It makes me wonder if
I never had to knock on wood
And I’m glad I haven’t yet
Because I’m sure it isn’t good
That’s the impression that I get.

4. Don’t talk, just K.I.S.S. (Keep It Short and Simple)

brev·i·ty, noun \ˈbre-və-tē\
: the use of few words to say something

Why do we always say that short and simple is good?

Because simplicity is not just about minimalism or the absence of clutter, it is a measure of one’s understanding. Y’see, to be truly simple, you have to go really, really deep into complexity. You have to thoroughly understand the essence of something in order to be able to get rid of the parts that are not essential. Saying “less is more”.

Courtesy of George Orwell, here’s a quick cheat sheet to become more practical as possible:

Always use:

A word instead of phrase
A phrase instead of a sentence
A sentence instead of paragraph
A paragraph instead of a page…

5.  I always W.I.N.G. it (Write Incessantly, Never Giving up)

I seize each day, each opportunity to write. Anything. Everything. The consistency. The monotony. The certainty. All foolish notions and affectations are covered by this daily re-occurrence. After all, you don’t go to a well once but every day, and sleep comes to you each day, so do the muses–Calliope, Euterpe or Erato.

“How do you write? You write, man, you write, that’s how, and you do it the way the old English walnut tree puts forth leaf and fruit every year by the thousands. . . . If you practice an art faithfully, it will make you wise, and most writers can use a little wising up.” — William Saroyan, 1981

… and of course — today, and everyday — I always choose to PRAY:

O Divine Master, Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

AMEN.

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A picture of calmness

Being without a yaya for a few days has its own rewards: I get to see more of her up close.

Sleeping like a baby... that she is.

Sleeping like a baby… that she is.

We remember…

Candles for the dearly departed...

Candles for the dearly departed…

Renewal

This essay was written by a dear friend. Her commentary on humanity’s moral decline is very insightful…

DSC_1499The clouds hang low on the horizon. Reddish-black smog enveloped the place in a blood-smeared haze. Blocks of concrete devoured the vegetation. Monitor lizards, wild boars, bear cats, squirrels and pheasant peacocks roaming the once pristine forests will soon be just stuff of legends and myths we read in books. The rumbling thunder cannot be distinguished from the roar of trucks that are laden with minerals extracted from the mountains. The deserted mountains will then be left with deep wounds. Wounds caused by men. Wounds that will never heal. There is no cure because men do not recognize it as an ailment.

The stench of decaying values of men pervades the air.

Unwanted children and adults alike littered the earth, and nobody seemed to care. Pseudo-wars played by children are no longer pseudo but real in the world of men bent on destroying each other–for what? We do not understand… People kill each other over petty things.

It’s all greed. People become greedy because of a hunger that cannot be satisfied. We crave for more luxurious things, destroying what we already have for free, in exchange for those that would make us seem wealthy.

But what we do not want is taken away from us… The sea swallowed back beaches into its bowels, as waves surged to claim what man has wasted. The howling wind unleashed its fury on the hapless people who can only wail in anguish. But nothing can dissuade the wind from revealing its tremendous power to man who is in fact so minute, so helpless, so unfortunate… Man in his uncaring way forgets that something is inherently more powerful. So the great wind needs to remind him to acknowledge mother nature’s might!

Man rose from among the debris, and searched for the monuments he has built for himself, but nothing remained. Then man remembered… this isn’t what he really wanted. He has sold his soul for flashy things that are irrelevant to man’s existence, yet, he didn’t find fulfillment in what he has chosen. Now, there is only the scorching heat of the sun and dry land before him.
He looked up to the heavens and asked for forgiveness.

Then he felt a drop on his face, a light drizzle mingling with his tears… rain fell piercing the heart of the earth, letting go of the strangled seeds, which man finally learned to nourish with his blood and sweat.

IANTHE MARIE BENLIRO
10 February 2011

How do I ‘unlove’ you?

Starting-Over-Again-Movie-PosterLet me start this piece with a disclaimer: I am not a film critic nor I pretend to be one. I am just among the many moviegoers who—in one way or the other—had experienced the emotional rollercoaster ride provided by the movie Starting Over Again.

Honestly, there’s nothing “new” about said movie. Its storyline is not an unexplored one; in fact, had it not been for the excellent narrative flow, this film would’ve ended as just another formula flick.

There is something about this movie—no, it’s not Piolo nor Toni… Joross or Lito, maybe… but I digress—that catches one’s interest: the unraveling of the story. Being a storyteller myself, I cannot help but be enthralled at how Direk Olive Lamasan took us inside Marco (Piolo) and Ginny’s (Toni) love story, giving us an overdose of “kilig” moments and introducing us to an unorthodox kind of courtship… and from that emotional high, Ms. Lamasan jolted us back to reality by giving us a peek at the couple’s eventual falling apart—reasons unknown— and how they found each other again. But contrary to what many would expect, we are presented with an unexpected twist. No, I’m not gonna spell it out here. I am no spoiler. Let’s just say that the Marco-Ginny affair is no Popoy-Basha love tale.

You see, what made Starting Over Again stand out from the other fall-in-love-break-up-reunite formula movies is that it did not follow that conventional flow. Instead, what the movie afforded us were peeks and glances into various episodes of the Marco-Ginny love story—each scene leaving us with questions, and more questions: “what happened” or “what did he/she do” or “why are they such-and-such”. There was nothing predictable about the movie. Just when you thought you had it all figured out, the next scene would shatter your “conclusions”. It kept us interested, at times, echoing the lead characters’ demand: “I deserve an explanation!”

Each scene—each confrontation, monologue and soliloquy—were well-thought of and presented in a very relatable manner, something that is not strange to the viewer. The contemporary language and dialog added to the impact of every scene—may it be laugh-inducing or tear-jerking.

Starting Over Again, as the title implied, is a story about second chances… about moving on… about finding closure—one that is with finality; a letting go of what once was. A closure that would usher in complete acceptance of what has happened and honor the transition away from what’s finished to something new. In other words, a closure with the ability to go beyond imposed limitations in order to find different possibilities.

The movie had indeed succeeded in evoking that bittersweet nostalgic feeling of finding that special someone whom we’d rather fly up into the scorching sun than get over with. It brought us back to our very own “demons past” that seemed unthinkable that time—where a lover leaves abruptly; runs you over like a train, as if you were just something to be left on the side of the curb like road kill. It reenacted our very own journey of finding closure with someone who headed for the hills and never told us why, reminding us how gut-wrenchingly difficult it was to seek closure within ourselves.

The ending of a significant piece of one’s life—a relationship, a job, a stage of life, or a way of thinking—may be difficult, yes, and even painful for many of us… but still, we cannot afford to lose hope and give up. Starting Over Again allowed us to remember the good and the bad times in our own lives, enabling us to assess these memories and just let the emotions flow: cry, laugh or jump around if we have to, but just let ourselves be. Some of these memories may still haunt and torment us, but the movie showed us that it’s just normal; and that we have to give ourselves a timeline. It can be weeks or months or ever years, but the bottomline is that: when that day comes, that will be the day when you must stop wallowing in self pity and angst and start life anew.

… the pursuit of a happy nest

Happy Jump!

Happiness comes in many forms — getting what you wanted for Christmas, finally being able to watch your favorite movie, or simply enjoying a tall caffè macchiatto while sprawled in this cozy chaise lounge here in a small coffee shop along Jupiter Street… and, happiness can also be found in the joys and blessings received by others — like someone passing the UP College Admission Test. By the way, congratulations to my neice for qualifying in a quota course in UP Diliman. Woot-woot!!!!

How about you? D’you know what makes you happy? I bet you’d be quick to reply: Of course! I know what makes me happy.

But, do you know how to be truly happy?

Y’see, i believe that in order to find true happiness, one needs to be able to realize that all the things in his life are generally good, and that he can be happy with the people already in his life and those who influence how he lives his daily grind. In short, one must see that happiness is all his positive experiences combined into one emotion. Think happy thoughts, they say. This emotion can, and usually does, bring out the best in people.

ACCEPT. For someone to be truly happy, one should learn to accept that EVERYTHING — yes, everything — happens for a reason. Cherish the good ones and discard the bad ones. Learn from the lessons of your mistakes and channel them to make you a better person.

PERSEVERE. Although things may be hard to handle at the moment, you need to understand that whatever bad experiences you’re having now can contribute to the overall lessons that this life wishes to impart to you… and yes, to ultimately make you a better person.

SACRIFICE. View hardships in a positive light. I know, I know… How can you NOT think of desolation when you’re already down to your last penny and the rent is due tomorrow? Well, accept that happiness isn’t really free. You have to earn it and work doubly hard to keep it. The price for happiness is having to suffer and having to question events that occur during one’s life. People need to be able to adapt to their surroundings so that they can get the best out of them.

EXPERIMENT. You can’t live your life in fear of what can go wrong. You just need to go out and live your life to the fullest and know that you’ll be happy, even if something doesn’t go the way you planned.

LOVE. The best kind of happiness is knowing you are capable of caring for someone without the promise of being reciprocated. Care enough for the people you love and aspire for the best FOR THEM, and not what YOU WANT for them. Return every act of kindness afforded you. To me, this is the basest form of happiness — an unspoken agreement between people, affirming each will do whatever they can to make the other person happy; and in the process, you, yourself, will be able to enjoy the moment and be happy.

Lastly, we must be conscious of the fact that happiness may come and go like the seasons. This awareness of its fleeting nature will help us enjoy every moment filled with happiness, and remind us that every tear-jerking or unnerving event we have to endure is well worth it.

Well, in the mean time, here’s wishing you all the happiness in life! Merry Christmas!

When the wish fits the pure heart of the child…

Why am I not surprised when — at age 42, my mental age is just 16!

Well, according to yourmentalage.com, anyway; however, not that I fully subscribe to its ‘findings’, but I somewhat agree. Call it the perpetual child in me. You see, one of the most evident traits that I have continuously nourished is my “childlike” attitude toward life. It goes down from my childhood, I guess. I am sort of the eldest in a brood of five then. Christmas was not much an occasion for us because we really did not have more than enough, and my mother did not want to make it as a marked event in our young hearts, for she knew we can never have the things most children have. My father was working and studying at the same time and we were just getting by with whatever was left of his earnings. One thing though that my mother never failed to do was to tell us that Christmas was really a celebration of thanksgiving…. thanksgiving for the food on our table… for the shelter over our heads and the clothing on our backs… for a loving family… and, most especially, for our Mother and Father.

1469810_675095172513038_635903336_nI have never really questioned why we never have what other kids have. What got stuck on my mind was that we were thankful. But as I was growing older and became more accustomed to being with friends, which at an early age seemed to be very natural for me, a name became an obsession: SANTA CLAUS!!!

My schoolmates talked about him as if he’s real. Whenever our teacher at school showed his picture on a card or sang those Santa songs, I did not dare ask my mother whether it’s true or not, because somehow, someway, she might just convince me that he is not real. I wanted so much to believe that there is a Santa Claus; simply because, the child in me wanted to believe that if you are good and nice, Santa will give you the gift you ask for.

But Santa Claus became real only through my being him to my siblings. I could still remember vividly when Kimmy was three and I, together with Kuya Texx, Bing-Bing, Bulilit and Balot, bought her a walkie-talkie (we pooled our savings from our daily allowances) with just one unit wrapped — the other used by us interchangeably, play-acting Santa and the elves. Boy, that was really fun! I could just go over and over that moment and still laugh-cry at the thought.

I am too old now to be believing in a fat, bearded man in a red suit; yet, deep down in me, the belief that Santa DOES exist was never extinguished. Every now and then, I would play around with the thought that one day, if I do good — if I really, really behaved — I would make it in the Nice List and Santa Claus will come and whisper in my ears that my gift — the one I have always asked for — will be there on Christmas day.

However, my wishes changed every year. I waited for them to come true but to no avail… maybe, I had Santa confused as to what I really wanted…

When I was 16, I got a girlfriend, but there was no passion. So I wished for a passionate girl with a zest for life.

In college, I dated a passionate gal, but she was too emotional. Everything was an emergency, she was a drama queen, cried all the time and even threatened suicide. So I wished for someone more stable — up there.

When I was 23, I found a very stable girl — emotionally, psychologically, and [wink] financially… but she was soooo boring. She was totally predictable and never got excited about anything. Life became so dull that I wished for a girl with some excitement.

When I was 25, I found an exciting woman, but I couldn’t keep up with her. She rushed from one party to another, never settling on anything. She did crazy, impetuous things and flirted with everyone she met. She made me miserable as often as happy. She was great fun initially and very energetic, but directionless. So I wished for a goal-oriented woman — someone with ambition.

On my 30th Christmas, I found a smart, ambitious lady with her feet planted firmly on the ground… so we moved in together. Three years later, I came home to an empty apartment. She was so ambitious that she dumped me and took everything I owned.

… for quite sometime now, one wish persisted in my adult life though.

I have always prayed for someone to grow old with. Someone whom I can pour my deepest emotions with. Someone who can make me laugh aloud and do silly things and not feel embarassed. Someone who will support my love for work, and more importantly, my love for adventure! A woman who has also experienced life, had tried living outside the box — who can cry at her mistakes and triumphs, someone who can stand on her own and be her own. Say her own piece… and make things happen… Someone whom I can tell my stories, my exploits and bloopers, my escapades — good and bad.

And for me to live life to the fullest without thinking of rules or limits, I can only do so much. I wanted someone who can live life for me… someone who can create an albumful of tales and anecdotes — all painted through words and snapshots.

Hush now… let me tell you a secret that was just recently revealed to me. Santa Claus DOES exist! In fact, he already gave me what I have always asked for… not on Christmas…. but even months before it! He gave me my gift not at age three nor at thirty-three; but when the wish fits the pure heart of the child… his perfect gift came — wrapped in shrieks of laughter and giggles, of sweet whispers and warm hugs… and feather kisses. Now I know what perfect time means. It is finding the RIGHT WOMAN at the RIGHT MOMENT.

Thank you Santa for leading me to her… for making our paths cross anew… for teaching me to look not with my eyes alone. Thank you.

Now, all I need to do is unwrap my gift and tell her she’s the one I’ve been waiting for…

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