Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Day 12: In Sickness & In Health...



Nobody wants to get sick or see their loved ones be sick.   But it is a fact of life. It is painful, emotionally & psychologically trying, physically draining.  However, in this dark hour, we chance upon the shining light of God's love. That light gives us hope and the faith that we are not alone. Whatever happens, God is with us. We surrender; we trust, COMPLETELY!

Do you know the poem, FOOTPRINTS IN THE SAND?
The memories when my hubby was in the hospital bring chills to my spine until now.  It started with a headache. How we survived the horrific experience is a miracle. The same miracle, in another breadth, happened recently to a very good friend whose partner suffered the same fate. When I learned of his emergency, I just had to let him know I understood how he felt in that moment of uncertainty, fear, and despair.
Thus, flashes of memories came as quickly as my pulsating heart.
We were in a boat trip for Manila.  As usual, many people went to my hubby for quick chats or serious discussions.  Midway through the trip he complained of a terrible headache which concerned me because I had already given him anti-high blood medication and painkillers, to no avail.  Another scary sign was when we docked, he did not mind all the people greeting him as we went down the boat. I was bewildered because all those people were his friends & staff.  I just excused him to be tired and with a terrible headache. They also expressed concern because my hubby was usually talkative and full of life.
The 5-hour trip to Manila seemed an eternity.  When we got home at 3AM, I told our eldest son my observations and so we brought his dad to the nearby community hospital for first aid.  My hands became clammy, my heartbeat seemed to burst my ears when the doctor said his blood pressure was 200/120!  He was also disoriented.  He was under observation till we could transfer him to a tertiary hospital.  Instinctively, I whispered prayers. Then I  got in touch with my stepsister who is a doctor as I didn't know what to do next. She gave instructions and assured me she would wait in the ER.  But she warned that if my hubby starts to vomit, I have to go to the nearest hospital, STAT!  And it happened!  My daughter was with me and we rushed to the ER of The Medical City, the nearest hospital. Everything was so fast; the next thing I knew all my children (except for another son who was studying in the province) and I  were huddled & asked if we had a neurosurgeon.  My hubby's  headache was caused by the 70cc of blood dislodged in his head due to aneurysm.  My stepsister, waiting in the other hospital, gave a name and wished me the best of everything.
I went to the early Mass the  next day and was surprised to be asked as the First Reader.  How God assured me was overwhelming! The reading was about Abraham's offering of his son, Isaac, to God. It was about Abraham's trust test. I tried so hard to control my emotions.  As I went to my seat, tears rolled down my cheeks. I felt the immense love of God in that moment. Footprints in the sand! The Lord was carrying me! I wanted to share the ineffable feeling with everyone there but clasped my hands to my chest instead. Thank You, Lord! Here I am, Lord!  What do You ask of me?
Since we entered the hospital, friends, family, my HS best friend, high school classmates, priests and 2 bishops assured us of prayers.  Imagine, a province-wide Sunday Mass for my hubby!  Even the contemplative nuns of the 2 Convents of St. Clare were praying for him!  Profound kindness abound. How can  I not trust the Lord?  How can I question His Will?  As I have done in my adult life, Thy will be done, O Lord!
 After a week in the ICU, and  a month & a half in the hospital, my kids and I cannot believe we survived!  My hubby survived despite countless seizures and near death stages. My amazingly steadfast children inspired me and gave me strength.  So many helped us emotionally and financially. I will never forget them. Their names are all forever etched in my heart. Our neurosurgeon and cardiologist were God-sent.   In those moments of uncertainty and darkness, God was my light.  I just followed Him.  He sent wonderful people, inspiring situations, and even funny moments.
I think all normal people live surrounded by families and friends. We laugh and celebrate the peaks & milestones with them. We go through the deepest valleys of our lives with them.  We are all bound and inspired by God's agape love. No conditions are needed.  No judgments.  In sickness and in health, love strengthens everyone.  Through the people who truly love and care deeply for us, God is truly alive.  If you know what I am talking about, lucky you!  Let us spread this goodwill. Everyday is crucial for somebody, somewhere; or a time to celebrate.  Whether in sickness or in health, spread love. It is the best gift God bestowed on us.  It begets miracles.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Day 11: Why It is Cool to Keep Your Groove






Whatever and wherever you are , at this stage, you have somehow found your niche or your groove. The thing that makes you upbeat and perky.  The topic which lightens up your face.  Some lucky ones have known their place in the sun earlier.  The late bloomers are lucky too because they have rich stories to tell from their  journeys.  In any case, ain't it cool to keep your groove?

Life, as it is, has daily challenges.  Whether it is the traffic, the helper at home, colleagues at work, your kids, your hubby, your in-laws, even bad personal decisions pose all levels of hassle. Overcoming them on a daily basis keeps your spirit high. You keep fighting!    No matter what, you get back on your toes.

Your groove keeps you sane and grounded. It enables  you to  know what you want and where your place is.  It is your anchor when there is so much going on around you.

In this fast paced world, love yourself and how you improved yourself through the years.  There are many things to share and when you keep your groove, you love what you do. Besides, how cool is it that you are where you want to be and more!


Saturday, May 20, 2017

Day 10: 5 Reasons Why the Grass is Greener on the Other Side

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      This is a phrase often heard when comparing decisions made by different people or assessing one's status in life.  Of course we want bright green grass in our lawn.  Some even plant flowers in the garden!

Here's why the grass is greener on the other side.

1. YOU REAP WHAT YOU SOW
            It all starts with a seed or the roots.  Literally & figuratively.  They have to be planted.  Goodness, do not keep them in the kitchen or garage drawer!  Plant them!   As in life, we all have a  talent.  We must hone it.  Whatever it is, you own that talent.  Nobody can get it; so, improve  yourself.  Whether you are rich or poor, that talent is in you and you have to develop it.  At this time  and age, opportunities abound.  Do not keep your seed in storage.

2.  DO NOT PROCRASTINATE.  
         The time is NOW.  Stop giving excuses for postponing things.  Tomorrow may be too late or it may not even come.  All the very successful people I know have a common denominator; they all act immediately.

3. NURTURE YOUR GARDEN. 
       As printed up there, "Of course the grass is always greener on the other side- they water it!" Our mind should also be  nurtured. Cultivate your mind garden to have a positive mindset. Remove the weeds (literally & figuratively, again) everyday.  You will eventually attract happy thoughts. You will have the energy to do what is necessary to achieve your goals.  The sense of fulfillment will make you value yourself.  A ripple effect is inevitable and people will value you too.  People will be drawn to your wonderful world.  You may rest, but not stop cultivating your life.

4.  SHARE YOUR GREENS.
          When you are happy, you just want to share your joy with others.  You cannot help but grin. Smiling is infectious.  Even just thinking of your happy memories while reading this makes you smile.  A hilarious scene will even evoke a hearty laughter!  The green grass is nice to see. It is even a nice place to have a picnic with loved ones. Teach others how to plant in their lives. Imagine if the grass is green everywhere! 

5.  APPRECIATE!
     Those whose lawn has vibrant green grass know what I mean.  You wake up and see, through your window, a relaxing sight.  Thank God for the sun and the rain that help sustain the wonders around you.  Appreciate the gardener who tends to your garden.  In your personal life, gratitude is uplifting.  It blesses both the giver and receiver.  Our mentors, our parents, family and friends who stood by us are like the gardener who weeded, watered and trimmed so the grass remains green.

       Whether in career, in personal relationships, at school, and all else, the grass is truly greener on the other side because they water it.  No reason to be envious; do the same to yours.
          
        

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Day 9: Finding In-Law

          Many of us have children who are ready to leave the nest. That scares us, parents, unless the person they will settle with is somebody who can really "settle down" and provide the best for our children.  Again , we define provide as the act of supplying or giving what is needed.  People need love, care, house, clothes, money, attention, moral support, etc.  C'mon, all our parental life was devoted to ensuring that  nothing bad happens to our treasures! Getting married is a lifetime choice (cross fingers) for them- without us hovering over their shoulders all the time. So, after school & work, praying, hoping, and finding the right in-law is the next in my parent's list.
            I did a little research and found some engaging courtship & marriage traditions from the other parts of the world.  Here are some:
         1. CONGO:  Beware of those pearly whites!  The bride and the groom cannot smile on their wedding day lest they be accused of not taking their vows seriously.
         2. ARMENIA:  Men and women eat a slice of high sodium specialty bread baked by a happily married middle-aged woman or their grandmother.  When they sleep they can expect to see their future spouse in their dreams.
        3. PHILIPPINES:  This dream version in the Philippines is like this.  Every eve of the First of May, the woman should wait in front of the mirror for the clock to strike 12 midnight.  When it strikes 12, the woman will see her future hubby's image behind her.  (Ladies, hope  gallant men appear and not one from the Walking Dead!)
        4.  FIJI:  When a man courageously asks the hand of his beloved lady from her father, he must give him a whale's tooth.
        5. BHUTAN:  Called BOMENA, it is wont in Eastern  Bhutan where, in the dead of night. a man sneaks into the room of the lady he likes. It is an old practice of courtship.  If caught, three things face him: he will marry the girl, work in the family's  field, or leave her to be pregnant. Though still occurring in a few places in Eastern Bhutan, the people have enacted laws to protect women, DNA testing, and the practical steel locks have been inherent in the structures of the houses.
       6. SW CHINA:  During April, women cook sticky rice, and dress ornately to excitedly celebrate SISTER'S MEAL FESTIVAL ( Valentine's Day). The sticky rice cooked in four colors based on  the seasons in a year, is rolled in a handkerchief and given to the suitors. If a man gets 2 red chopsticks inside the sticky rice package, it means YES.  One chopstick means a kind NO.  A garlic  or a chili means a blatant NO. A pine needle means the girl will wait for the man as long as he gives her gifts.
      7. CAMBODIA:  In the  Treung Tribe, the father builds a love hut for his daughter.  She invites as many men  she likes to sleep with.  Although this may seem promiscuous, incidents of rape are low and divorce is not heard of in their tribe. Collect and collect and then select?
     8. EUROPE:  In some parts of Europe, a guy puts his handkerchief in his armpit before attending a dance. Thereafter, he will use this sweat-scented hankie to wipe off perspiration from the face of the girl he likes.   In Austria, the girl puts a slice of apple in her armpit  then feeds her unsuspecting prospect with the laced apple slice. Presumably, the prey falls madly in love with the person because of the sweat-scent. O my!  The nose knows.
         There are more ways to skin a cat, they say. The bottom line is finding the appropriate in-law.  Who doesn't want the perfect boy or girl for our child?  Is there such a thing?  All parents wish their children a stable, and happy family life.
        What would be your criteria for your future in-law? In my order of things I watch out for manners & language, respectfulness, integrity, attitude in life, attitude towards others, and tell tale signs to be wary (coached by some elderly in the family).  But of course, the most important is still love.  How about you?


     
       
       
         

Friday, May 5, 2017

Day 8: ASSUME = ASS U ME


        He thought, she thought, I thought, we all thought but we were all damn wrong!  The damage has been done. Boom!
        Familiar?
        How do we repair lost relations because of too many assumptions.  Good if they are correct or at least positive.  What if your assumption was wrong and hurt someone deeply, or destroyed a colleague's career, or a friend's family, or your own?   What if you assumed wrongly what your client meant?  There are agents I know who are blabbers and put words in the mouths of their clients.  They went way ahead and beyond. Because they forgot to listen well, deals went awry.
       Why do some people carelessly assume and judge?   Why are some people able to hold their thoughts & bite their tongues before blurting out some things?
       When I was younger I did a lot of guessing why and what happened.  I thought the directions in the exam meant this or that.  With my assumptions, my grades assumed to fail too. So I learned to ask clarifications when I don't understand some thing.  It turned out most of my classmates had the same queries but were either too lazy or afraid to ask.  Some didn't ask for sheer lack of interest.
      Same when travelling.  I prefer to ask for directions than guess and go down a road only to find out we were supposed to traverse the other way!  What a waste of time and gas!
       I'm sure you have your own situations when assuming made an ass out of you, as it did me.
       I thought about this.  I think if people will practice active listening it will be evaded, or lessened.  What is active listening?.  It is when you really pay attention to what a person is saying. There are times when we are talking to a person and we think that person is listening attentively, nodding his head as we speak only to realize he was spacing out! In the end, he did not understand what we meant and just assumed his interpretation from parts of the conversation.  So, with active listening, when there are unclear things, you can ask for clarifications right away. Thus, less misunderstanding and less mistakes, less arguments, less stress.
     Now what if you don't know a person and just overheard something he or she did?  Then from that situation you just assume his or her personality.  That is outright prejudice. You did not assume; you prejudged a person you do not even know. Worse, you were either eavesdropping or overhearing people talk.  Overhearing  happens sometimes and we should take things with a grain of salt or just be amused.
      What is assumption?  According to Merriam &Webster, assumption (noun) is defined as:
1. taking to or upon oneself (new position);  2. the act of laying claim to or taking possession of something (assumption of power);  3. an assuming that something is true (our topic).
      On hindsight, often, people assume to pretend to be  knowledgeable and not ignorant. The consequence of this is stupidity, or  embarrassment.  Knowledge is simply to know that  you do not know when you do not know;  and to know that you know when you know.  Easy-peasy distinction between assuming and knowing, right?
     I estimate that  2 out of the 5 people we talk to or give orders to come back to us with a question, "What was it again?".  Though, at times, it is annoying, it is better than assuming something else and doing what they thought was right when actually it was wrong.  Though fallible, we can practice to be careful. Nothing wrong with that; rather than be an all-time ass!

     
     

 


 

Monday, May 1, 2017

Day7: Happily Separated

I got a request for this topic.  Actually it excited me because I admire  solo parents. Imagine how a parent goes through the odyssey of rearing a child alone. Solo parents are a strong bunch!
First, you had to go through the emotional, psychological and internal battle of whether  to stay in your marriage or leave. Sometimes the young 'uns witness the unwell wayward parents.   The many painful reasons you had to reach this state is already hell on earth!
Second,  after your decision, there is still the push and pull due to social hypocrisies you have to deal with, the battle of the conscience (vows), the economic need and of course the children. In the end, you just have to get out the door ( or kick your partner out  the door) before your sanity leaves you. You have to save yourself to save  the children.  NEMO DAT QUID NON HABIT!  You cannot give what you do not have.
Third is the breakthrough.  Getting out of the comfort zone (no matter how uncomfortable it seems to others) is tough.  Once done it is freedom!  After getting out of the ailing relationship you have to heal yourself.   Family, friends, church group & community group abound to help you.  Such an amazing grace!   You are reborn & become brave to start afresh.   Move on.  To be better or bitter is another choice for you.  Nevertheless, from studies, forgiving (time heals all wounds, they say) is really beneficial for your body and soul. If you want to remain good looking, forget the ugly past but learn from it.
As your new status is either single, divorced or legally separated - filling out forms in the first year is emotional.  But for those who loathed the partner they left - it is a mark of victory & relief! Emancipation!
Hopefully, you don't go through a custody battle where the real victims are the children whom the law wants to protect (?!).  Happy are those who settle amicably; for their children have less trauma.
First order of business as a single parent is putting direction in your life.  Where you plan to head is where your children will be towed in.  They are not things to drag just anywhere.  In fact, as a parent, you get strength from their very existence.   Your responsibility is immense because you want to raise productive upright adults - alone!
But I notice these days there is less drama after couples part ways.  Or am I just imagining?  When it was a traumatic incident eons ago, it is an accepted sad and painful fact these days. Both parties discuss how to be active parents for their children in spite of their changed status.  I think it is a relief for all parties concerned- the couple themselves, their children and in-laws.  After all, the human relations nurtured among all cannot be thrown out the window just like that.
A single parent usually attends school PTCs and programs alone, courageously  filling both shoes so his or her child will not lack in moral support.  I remember decades ago a very close relation confided in me how lost and hurt her 7 year old daughter felt because when the essay was about daddies, she did not know what to write and just cried in class. My friend was immediately called by the school guidance counselor who helped raise her daughter. Another friend tried to reunite with her ex to try being a family again.  But it did not work out well as the guy remained insanely insecure and lazy.
Separations are bittersweet moments.  No matter how much you try if things cannot work out, you have to do it.  It is better than killing each other emotionally & psychologically-  or even  just glaring at each other daily.  It is the better thing to do. Some shred of dignity is left between both parties.  Like in all battles, there are spoils.   Just rise, clean up and walk on by.  At least you won't live in misery.
Although we all want to save relationships and families-  we also have to support those who choose to part ways. We cannot judge them. Often they become better persons.  They can raise their children well too.  Being  separated doesn't have to be a moribund situation.  Many successful people are happily separated. As my happy friends say, as long as their kids are settled at school, they go wherever they want with wanton.
Gloria Gaynor best sang it for many women everywhere,
" First I was afraid,I was petrified
  Kept  thinking I could never live without you by my side
  But then I spent so many nights thinking how you did me wrong
  But I grew strong & I learned how to get along.....
  Do you think I'd lay down and die? I WILL SURVIVE"!




Thursday, April 20, 2017

Day 6: My ER Moment

          Who wants to go to the ER?  I dread that thought,  much so the actual going there!  One time I went to the ER  we were forced to check in for one and a half months!  No way, man!  As much as possible...
          Numbness of the left side and general weakness.  Two doctors recommended going to the ER to eliminate all probabilities; to be sure and not be sorry.   I went; for fear of unimaginable consequences!   Entonces, I was calling all the angels and saints to plead my case to The Superman up there.
       A little backgrounder; indulge me a bit.  At home, I am usually up and about singing whilst doing chores or busy in the office for stuffs.   Otherwise,  I am happily watching my favorite SBS, KBS and  reruns- laughing boisterously   or crying for joy or pain (depends on the scenes).  That day, I cannot help but stay quiet and listen to my body.
My left cheek and arms  felt weird- numb and thick.
It definitely wasn't normal.  The other side of me was "normal".  There was pain in the stomach area.  Yet I do not want to be OA and be embarrassed in the hospital.  That happened to me ages ago in one of my pregnancies.   I thought I was going to give birth.  Everyone at home was frantic!   We rushed to the hospital.  I just needed to fart!
           This time two doctors from 2 satellite clinics said the same thing.   Join me in this trip where I fought with myself to remain calm and shun fear. Fear is bad.  It raises the BP and stirs crazy  ideas in the mind.
           I was asked to use the wheelchair (a mama in a stroller).  The usual interview which my daughter took care of.   I stayed on a bed along the corridor because it is first come, first serve in terms of bedding accomodations.    But of course, as in all ERs, gory & life- death emergencies are first.
          A lovely intern or resident took care of me.
By this time, I was actually feeling better.  I wanted to go home.   We learned one cannot just leave the ER.   One has to be discharged properly.  I was planning on exiting quietly though.
         I underwent the routine ecg & other elimination tests.   I passed them all!  Thank You, Lord!   One more: MRI.
           That noisy machine!  The cold room and cold steel cylinder that would host my head for 45 minutes.  The little fear I had vanished with thoughts of getting this over with!  "Courage don't desert me!" (quipping Anastasia)   The guy in charge was reassuring too so my nervousness was eased.   I was told not to move a single muscle or else the procedure will be repeated.  That would mean delay!  My brain needed  to control all the parts.  My poor family has been subjected to unnecessary stress & waiting.  They should be resting at this time.
          I was falling asleep but thoughts pinched myself to stay awake ( imagine?).   Sleeping will cause unnecessary movements.  Oh no! I didn't know if my fingers twitched because I could not feel them.  Can my eyes move?   If this guy could see my brain thru the screen, he'd probably laugh at the debacle that went on in there.  Since I was afraid to move a muscle, the hemispheres may be actively debating and hitting each other ala three stooges!  That kept me awake.  The headphones did not totally eliminate the banging sound.  One time it was like a jackhammer beside me; then clanging of cooking vessels.  I just made music out of their sounds.  Metallic rock was noisier.  Before I knew it, the kind fellow was in the room helping me out of the white cylinder.  I forgot to ask why there was a metal gear (like a football player's) on top of my face.  For safety?
        At 2am, finally, we were told the MRI did not show any signs of stroke.   But I have to see my neuro for the results.  Thank God!
     My children were all in the coffee shop the whole 7 hours patiently waiting for me.  They had turns dropping in to make me and their Dad  laugh.   I am sure they were worried for me &  their Dad  who was a house guest of the hospital seven years ago.   Will share that story of faith, hope, love and charity next time.

        What have I realized in this trip to the  ER?
You remember when our grannies and yayas told us of the certain ways of doing and not doing things?  They actually prove to be valid points, no matter how old fashioned.  Eat fruits & veggies, old style home cooking, not bathe in cold water when the body is tired, massage, raising up the legs when standing the whole day,  sleep well , play to move about and  the all time fave-  DRINK LOTS OF WATER!  Let me add what Eddie Garcia, a famous Filipino actor, told me when I asked how he keeps fit at 80, "Moderation in everything".
        Life is to be lived fully.  But sometimes we overdo things and forget our body is not a machine.  Actually even machines conk out when overused.
       Listen to your body!  When you are in the golden age which is also  half a century, you need to take time for check up and overhaul.  Not because you are sick; but because you want to enjoy the other side of the hill.
      I fear going to the ER.  The thing is I pushed my body's limits trying to be a superhero.  The trip made me accept my limitations.  What we can do during our 20s or 30s cannot be the same at 50. That is even hard to accept!  I don't want to act and feel too old for my age.   I know women who are 20-30 years older than I yet they just keep going and going.  I think attitude also counts to total well being.  A worrywort is likely to get sick and die younger than an outgoing cheerful octogenarian.
          I was hesitant with my ER moment because it could have been a waste of time and energy of the whole family.   It destroyed the rhythm of the activities  at home and at work.   It drained everyone.   But as my children reiterated,  at least we all know I did not have stroke.  It pacified the anxiety for the fear of the unknown.   Questions were answered.    My wacky caring children were correct.
          A mother is afraid to be sick and be a burden to her family because she should take care of everyone.   Again, being a burden is an unfounded notion, according to my wise 5.   It is a comforting reminder.  My ER moment was an influx of many emotions and thoughts.   It  affirmed  the adage, " An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."
      Listen to your body.