Sunday, October 31, 2010

Have a Little Faith Round 2

It’s the 2nd day of the long weekend. As much as I wanted to leave the house, wander off a familiar coffee shop and read a book, the insane freeway traffic kept me locked up. But I was itching to do some reading and I have a pretty good material in line. So when the day’s buzz was over, I took my book light, grabbed my instant iced coffee and sat in a corner. I turned to page one.

I read “Have a Little Faith” by Mitch Albom a little over a year ago. Admittedly, I fast-read through it and never really bothered profoundly digesting the message. The book was released while I was reviewing for my board exam. Distraction was the last thing I needed. But knowing myself, resisting would just trap me even more.

So I borrowed a copy, fast-read the words and vowed to read the book again.

After passing the boards, I landed on a pretty demanding job. Every free time I had got occupied by newly- published best sellers. I almost forgot, not about the book, but about the promise of re-reading it. Until this night. Or, technically, since it’s almost dawn already, last night.

From page one fast forward to the very last, I was stirred up, awaken, inspired and moved to tears by the rediscovered words of this masterpiece. I haven’t come across a book that literally had me sobbing towards the end in a long while. There were many which moved, troubled and pulled me through an all-nighter, but Mitch Albom’s recollection tugged at my emotions really hard. I initially planned to give a clear review of this book. But my lack of writing skills and poor thought organization would undoubtedly produce a messed up one, so I rather resort to sharing a few of my marked paragraphs:

“And when it’s time, our goodbyes will be complete.”

I had a hard time picking those six from the many highlighted parts in my copy, but I don’t want to spoil every delightful discovery in case you find time to read this book. Personally, I didn’t think there was anything original when it comes down to the lessons imparted by the author. But that exactly what made it special.

This book reminded me of the simplest lessons I learned early on in life- from parents, grandparents, teachers, even from the comic-like Bible for Kid’s edition I used to have- on faith, love and kindness. But those lessons were in the form of plain, almost-mantra like phrases we tend to outgrow over the years. This book re-introduced those familiar messages through intricate words, realistic situations and relatable characters that you would be reminded of and transported back to the very root of all the values instilled upon you, with greater conviction and firmer faith.

Reading Mitch Albom’s Have a Little Faith has been, without a dab of doubt, worthy of my time, twice over.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Lifetime Present

Dad recently gifted me with a Fully booked discount card. He knew I was trying to accumulate P15,000 worth of purchases just to get one. So, he went for the other, much easier option. He paid P700 for it. Initially, we thought the card is valid for only 2 years. To our surprise, it is valid for a lifetime. Like, a LIFETIME! God knows how much money I’ll end up saving because of it. I’m the happiest daddy’s little girlie.

Via Google Images

My dad has always been the spoiler when it comes to books. I have stacks and stacks of unread books at home just because he let me grab whatever I want in a bookstore. When I was younger, I had book phases. There was the “Im so curious about Atlantis” phase, the “I want to talk to angels” phase (I never finished any of those books), the “Chicken soup for blah and blah phase”, etc. But the phase that started it all was Kristy and her great idea. Yes, the Baby-sitters club.

The memory of my first ever book purchase is still very vivid to me. My dad and I were in National Bookstore. I was 8 or 9 at that time. He took a thick architecture magazine from the stand and handed me comics. I just stared at it. My dad noticed I wasn’t interested, so instead he brought me to the teens section. I get to bring home whatever I pick, he said.

When we left the bookstore, I was clinging to my very first Baby Sitters book. It was No. 4: Mary Anne saves the day. 3 days after, my dad asked why I was no longer reading it. I told him I finished it already. He asked me to tell him the story, so I did. My dad said I read pretty fast for my age. I thought that was something special; I thought I was the only kid who can do that. The next day, I asked my dad for another trip to the mall, picked my 2nd Baby-sitters club book and practiced whatever special skill I thought I had.

Three years and 78 Baby Sitters books later, I knew I have this perpetual love for written words and unscathed book spines.

Fast forward to today, I owe my dad whatever satisfaction, freedom even, I get from reading books. He was the first person who encouraged me to read and supported all my book acquisitions. He would never let some unnecessary purchase pass, regardless of the amount. But when it comes to books, he always gives the green light.

So now I have this little plastic to further my book shopping addiction, care of the guy who started this brilliant addiction in the first place. He surely knows how to spoil me, while staying true to his message of encouraging me to be financially independent. I just hope his next surprise will be a pair of those invisible book shelves I saw the other day. Although I know the hard part will be convincing him to drill holes in our walls, he can’t possibly say no to my sad puppy eyes and pretty pleases. Besides, book shelves are for books, right? So he is compelled, by the undeniable affiliation, to say yes. *wink*

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Falling in love at a Coffee Shop

I think that possibly
Maybe I'm falling for you

Yes, there's a chance that I've fallen quite hard over you

No one understands me quite like you do
Through all of the shadowy corners of me

We have a thing for coffee shops. It didn’t take us until we were young adults, wanting some quiet place away from pesky teeners to discover the sanctuary that is Starbucks. In College, where the only most probable free time we had was early morning, we would meet at in Traders Hotel’s lobby. They served bad, overly-priced coffee. But we didn’t mind. They were open 24 hours a day and we meet at 5:30am. Even Starbucks near DLSU is closed at that time, so we had no other options.

From the only available meeting place to our most favorite escape, we surely have fallen in love with the peacefulness and warmth of a coffee shop.

I just like the feel of this (digitally) antiquated picture.

We will grow old and weak someday, not being able to enjoy discovering new shops together. But before that time comes, we would have gotten all over the world in search for the best coffee place and bring whatever made it the best right into the comforts of our own home.

Or maybe we'll make a business out of it and create some other couples' favorite place.

I never knew just what it was about the old coffee shop i love so much
All of the while I never knew
All of the while, it was YOUI

Friday, October 15, 2010

Money Matters

When I was a little girl, I have this pink and stout piggy bank. It has a rubber covering a small hole at the bottom. I wasn’t allowed to remove it until a few weeks before Christmas. It was tradition. My brother and I would open our piggy banks at the same time, count the change we’ve been saving all year and figure out what we want to buy with it. Whatever we wish for, we were lame wishers as kids wanting the cheapest toys, we received on Christmas Eve. It took me until I was 10 to realize that my parents bought it for us because they deposited whatever I saved for the year, including birthday and Christmas monetary gifts and the P1,000 for every subject I got 90+ fund, into a bank account under my name- with an ITF clause, of course.

My parents’ efforts of being such great examples in living a frugal life definitely rubbed on me. In highschool, I never, like NEVER, asked for money to spend on movies and weekend mall trips. I save from my allowance and was contented with whatever I had. My mom initiated the shopping for clothes, shoes, etc. When it came to books, though, I get to buy whatever, whenever.

My parents have always been thrifty and at the same time very reasonable. Yes, they make us earn the things that we want, leaving us waiting for graduations, birthdays, Christmases just for another piece of unnecessary gadget. But when it comes to the things we need, my parents generously hand us the best of everything.

Now that I’m earning my own money, I live with the words my dad told me on a car ride to a job interview with the firm where I am currently employed. I can’t recall the exact words, but this is what I remember him saying:

“When you start earning money, keep in mind that the equation should always be Income-Savings= Expenses. Never mix them up. It’s not about the amount, it’s about the discipline. You save up, not just for the far-off future or the rainy days. You save up for opportunities, for experiences, for investments that will give you more fulfillment than fancy things. Splurge once in a while but remember that youth is not a license to blow up resources. Strike a balance. There’s always a balance.”

I’ve been working for a year and three months. I was able to save a substantial portion of my salary. My 13th month pay went to buying Christmas gifts, my 14th month pay I spent in Hongkong. Today I received my Discretionary bonus and all of it will end up in my bank account. I shop, I travel, I eat at fancy restaurants. At the same time, I save for the future, I save for experiences and I even got myself a Life Insurance (my future kids are damn lucky).

Dad is right. There is always a balance.

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Smile in my Liver

More than a year in a firm that makes me work not only until late at night but until the morning after, I feel jaded. I can torture myself by focusing on that or I can look at things from a different angle. Which is, since weekdays are usually exhausting, I learned to value my free time; I try, with all the multi-tasking/planning skills I got, to maintain balance in my life. Last Saturday was a perfect example.


Despite the previous night’s office overtime, I made it a point to wake up pretty early to join the rest of the fam for breakfast. It was already sort of tradition: the 4 of us having breakfast together on weekends. We catch-up, we rant, we discuss plans. Usually, though, nobody gets to finish talking about anything since another member will eventually butt in upon remembering something. Yes, we’re all chatty and thank God we’re only four in the family. Any addition would result to an eternity of chaos.

That morning, breakfast took almost 2 hours with us leaving the table still undecided where to have a “family lunch” next weekend. We forgot to finish the conversation on. I should probably bring it up during dinner tonight.


It’s a ritual- I find solitude in the company of a book and Green Tea Frappe. I spend hours and hours just going through the pages. By hours and hours I meant 6 hours straight. Alone. In a corner of a coffee shop. That is happiness for me; my own way of stepping on the brakes to do something because I like it, not because I should.

I haven’t spent this much time to read in one sitting for so long. Starbucks Taft used to be my reading place, but then it turned into my study cave when I was preparing for the board exams. I never had the chance to convert it back. Last Saturday, I think I found the perfect replacement. Starbucks in Greenbelt had the same mix of cozy and semi-quiet thing going on. At least, in the morning until early afternoon. Plus, their couches were perfect. I found my new reading place and enjoyed a dose of Young Adult literature (because I wanted something entertaining and not serious) in one day. I’m a happy girl.

Love & Relationship

After my much needed alone time, boyfriend came for my much, much, much needed quality time with him. I can go on and on with the details- the movie, shopping, dinner, etc. But when I got home, I just had one thought in mind: I missed being with him and running out of things to do just because we had so much time in our hands. I missed that.

It was a perfect day. And it was very fitting that we watched Eat, Pray, Love because I was reminded of how significant it is to maintain balance in my life.

I know it’s not the slightest close to the boldness of actually buying three tickets to the rest of the world, leaving everything behind for a year and plunging into all things unknown and unfamiliar, but that day was my small way of not letting myself be detached and get broken to the extent of having to do all of those to fix myself. I never want to lose my appetite for life, for risks, for discovery and re-discovery, and at the same time, be able to hold on to something that challenges me, humbles me, something that pushes me to the point of almost giving up, but always, always just until ALMOST.

Balance doesn’t mean easy. Balance doesn’t mean quiet. Balance requires effort and passion. If I will just focus on one thing, on one goal, on a fist love, what will I be left with to balance it against? Nothing. And having nothing to juggle with my hands is not the state of being balanced. It’s a state of playing safe.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Worst Day

There is a Sarah Geronimo poster plastered in my office window. Some days I can take having it within my peripheral vision. Some days it doesn’t distract me. Some days I don’t get this weird feeling of wanting to rip it off and throw it away without a trace of guilt for the officemate who owns it. But today is not one of those. Today I just want to grab Sarah Geronimo by her perfect hair and put her to the trash where she belongs. The picture, I mean.

Across my laptop I can see a post-it with the words “You must have long term goals to keep you from being frustrated by short term failures” written on it. I remember carefully picking blue for the color of the post-it and using a green-inked pen . I remember being optimistic and hopeful while writing those words and I remember having the same feeling of overflowing possibility everytime I glance upon it. But not today. Right now, I just want to move my laptop and completely block it from my view, that stupid little thing.

On top of my cluttered desk is a rose drawing by my boyfriend. I don't have plans of ripping it and throwing it away but I can't help but cringe as I look at it. And I'm pretty sure that's not how my boyfriend wanted me to feel when he made it.

Today is not my best day. Today feels a lot like showing up at work without knowing my evil brother shaved my eyebrows in my sleep. Although, I can't say I’m not myself becaue I am irresponsible, unfocused and useless today and I’m not completely sure if I’m not any of those in any given better day.

Please make this day go by faster.

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