Sunday, May 26, 2013
How to be strong
I am a twenty-something woman. I’ve had my share of
heartbreaks, disappointments and terrible monsters inside my head. Yet, if
there really is such a thing as pain quota, I don’t think I’ve used up my fair
share at this point. Not even close to half of it. Although that can be seen as
a blessing, sometimes it makes me shy away from other people’s troubles. I feel
unqualified to dig into their misery when I, in fact, haven’t had
enough of my own.
This troubles me the most when the heartbreak staring at my
face is that of the person most important to me.
You see, the love of my life had gone through one of the
most, if not the most, painful thing anyone can go through in this lifetime.
His spirit was broken; the pain was similar to his chest being ripped open, or
so I imagined. That’s the thing. I can only imagine. This happened years ago.
And although the pain of such loss is no longer the center of his being, it is
still there, tucked at the corners of his heart. Whenever that feeling
resurfaces, I listen to him with all my heart. But sometimes, I want to do more
than just listen. I want to make th
I want to have enough strength to face my fears and drive
away those of the people I love. But how do I do that? How can I be strong when
the very person I want to be strong for also happens to be the only soul my
heart dares bare its weakness? How do I make him feel he can lean
on me when, time and again, he has seen me broken, fed up and expressing
intentions to just give up, although not meaning to but just needing to say it
I am far from getting answers. What I know is that everyday,
every single day, I will try my hardest to stand still at the face of his agony,
to not cringe despite feeling insufficient and undeserving. I will try. And
perhaps someday I’ll figure out that being strong isn’t an endpoint. That
strength is not something you catch and forever hold in your palms. Strength
lies in the undertaking; strength is in the attempt.
I can only pray so.
Monday, May 13, 2013
My favorite 'P' word
I once told a friend that we belong to the Passion
generation. I don’t know how true that is for everyone else but I want to
believe that it is true for me. As what Celine shared during her The Better
Story Project workshop (read story here), it is
exceptionally amazing how you can be anyone you wish to be in this era.
Compared to our parents whose choices were probably limited to what constitutes
the word “professional”, we can now make a living out
of being a hair stylist, a fashion stylist, a blogger, a fitness
instructor, just about any other job that doesn’t directly stem out of a formal
degree. We are no longer confined to the choices we made when we filled out
College application forms at 16.
Celine’s journey, of turning her back at the corporate
world, taking a risk and putting all her faith into her passion, truly made me
think of what it is I am passionate about. After Celine’s talk, we were asked
to make a sort of vision board of what represents our passion. This is what I
came up with:
I am an accountant, people, please be very forgiving if my work doesn’t
mirror any kind of vision to you. Anyway, I’ll just explain it briefly. I
understand how hard it must be to interpret my work correctly. Basically, the
words “on the job” and the stiletto-wearing foot with the never-ending leg
represent my passion for my profession. I know it may be difficult to believe,
but I like what I do. I like the challenge and the structure it brings in my
life. But, as signified by the black and white picture of a woman with
colourful eye make-up, I will never be content with a life solely about that. (See?
May lalim ang vision board ko. Hindi lang obvious!) I need space to accommodate
all the other things I like that add color and spice to my life.
That night I learned that I do not hate my job. Actually, I
like it. Geek alert!!! I like crunching numbers, as long as you don’t mix them
up with letters in one equation or what I know to be the ultimate enemy of my
existence, Algebra; let’s not even go to Calculus. I like providing solutions
to day-to-day operation chaos. I like being ambushed with questions and be
forced to think on my toes. I hate long meetings, except when they include
really experienced people because that is when I learn the most. I like taking
charge and, as much as it breaks my heart, being held accountable for the
consequences. I realized that I do not drag myself out of bed on most mornings.
At least, not anymore. But is this what I am passionate about? Is this what I
want my life to be aimed at?
For the longest time, I am sure about two loves in my life
(people excluded): reading and writing. Reading helps me make sense of this
fascinating Universe, while writing is my validation that I truly get it. The
Passion workshop made me recognize one more thing: learning.
I am passionate about learning.
I love asking questions. I love listening to what people
have to say. I love school; I sincerely look forward to my graduate class every
Saturday. I don’t mind recognizing that someone knows better, so much better,
than I do. I like that, actually. I love that you can never run out of things
to try in this lifetime, as long as you make a move. And
you can never, ever run out of things to learn about, as long as you are humble
enough to recognize that there are so many things you do not know yet.
I realized I do not have to turn my back on my day job to
pursue my passion. Being an accountant is part of who I am. Letting it go is
chipping a piece of me away. My personal challenge is to maintain balance: to
constantly have an empty space in my life for new things to learn, to experience,
to read and write about, despite everything else that goes on. For someone handling a corporate job and under Finance, at that,
this definitely requires effort and constant priority check.
Regardless of when I’m 30 or married with 5 kids (Oh, Lord)
or 65, regardless if it’s diving or baking or crocheting,
I need to unreasonably allow myself to learn. Always.
|The Better Story Project: 4/29/13|
'Til next time, girlies!
Sunday, May 12, 2013
Predictably (and amusingly so) Irrational
I swear I read Freakonomics. But ask me now what chapter I found
most interesting and the only response I can give you is a guilty smirk. It was
amusing- the relationships, the variables, the way factors are interconnected-
but it was simply not my cup of tea.
However, I haven’t given up on Economics just yet.
Predictably Irrational is a compilation of research
experiments that tackle Economics. The difference between this and
Freakonomics? Predictably Irrational explores the world of Behavioral
is a relatively new field, one that draws aspects of both psychology and
economics. It’s not just the behavior that I aim to understand, but the
decision-making process behind such behavior”. –Dan Ariely, Author
Using my own words, this book helped me understand why we
all want to be honest, happy and content individuals but find it challenging to
be so. Is it the environment? Is it pressure from other people? Through simple
yet structured experiments, this book somehow managed to dig into the bottom of
things: we are the very people who sabotage our own happiness, and we do it not
only by being irrational, but by being predictably so.
If there is a substantial amount of curiosity you’ve
developed by now that may urge you to get a copy of this book, stop right here.
I don’t want to spoil it for you. If not, read on and appreciate a handful of
my favorite insights:
- Most people don’t know what they want unless
they see it in context. We don’t know what kind of racing bike we want – until
we see a champ at Tour de France ratcheting the gears of a particular model… We
don’t even know what we want do with our lives- until we find a friend or a
relative who is doing just what we think we should be doing. Everything is
relative, and that’s the point. Like an airplane pilot landing in the dark, we
want runway lights on either side of us, guiding us to the place where we can
touch down our wheels.
- “I don’t want to live the life of a Porsche
Boxster”, said the owner after selling it, “because when you get a Boxster you
wish you had a 911, and you know what people who have 911s wish they had? They
wish they had a Ferrari”. The lesson we can learn: the more we have, the more
- Tom (Sawyer) had discovered a great law of human
action, namely, that in order to make a man covet a thing, it is only necessary
to make the thing difficult to attain. - Make Twain
- Zero is not just another price, it turns out.
Zero is an emotional hot button- a source of irrational excitement.
- Money, as it turns out, is very often the most
expensive way to motivate people. Social norms are not only cheaper, but more
effective as well.
- In a modern democracy, people are beset not by a
lack of opportunity but by a dizzying abundance of it. We are continually
reminded that we can do anything and be anything we want to be. The problem is
living up to this dream. We must develop ourselves in every way possible; must
taste every aspect of life; make sure that of the 1,000 things to see before
dying, we have not stopped at number 999. But there comes a problem- are we
spreading ourselves too thin?
- Ownership is not limited to material things. It
can also apply to points of view. Once we take ownership of an idea- whether
it’s politics or sports- what do we do? We love it perhaps more than we should.
We price it more than it’s worth. And most frequently, we have trouble letting
it go because we can’t stand the idea of its loss. What are we left with then?
An ideology- rigid and unyielding.
- “If a
tree falls in the forest, and no one is around to hear it, does it make a
- The danger in expecting nothing is that, in the
end, it might be all we’ll get.
- Since people engage in a cost-benefit analysis
with regard to honesty, they can also engage in a cost-benefit analysis to be
dishonest. According to this perspective, individuals are only honest up to the
point that suits them.
- We have doors- rigid and big ones- which we all
ought to shut.
And lastly, even though I get to appreciate
more through this book, I’m still a hopeless romantic. Isn’t this one of the simplest,
yet sweetest dedications, ever??? J
Finally, thanks to my lovely wife, Sumi, who has
listened to my research stories over and over and over and over. And while I
hope you agree that they are somewhat amusing for the first few reads, her
patience and willingness to repeatedly lend me her ears merits sainthood. Sumi,
tonight I will be home at 7:15 at the latest; make it 8:00; maybe 8:30, I promise.
Saturday, May 4, 2013
A better story from a better you
The Better Story Project is a non-profit organization whose
advocacy focuses on facilitating activities that would help empower young
women. I stumbled upon their website late last year and became interested in
their movement since then. Fortunately, last week, I was finally able to join
For the month of April, their watchword is Passion. The group
invited Celine Encarnacion, a fitness instructor, yoga enthusiast, and plana forma teacher, as the
speaker. I was really excited to listen to her passion journey because,
obviously, there is no definite path to a life of a fitness enthusiast. No
child ever said, “I want to teach yoga!”, when asked what she wants to be when
she grows up. So I was looking forward to hearing how she maneuvered her way into the life she is living now.
Before the talk started, I was able to meet a couple of
girls. I went there alone so it was such a relief that other participants were
very open to meeting new friends. After a few minutes of chitchat, I figured
out that most of them either work in advertising or are teachers (as in
preschool and high school teachers). I received blank stares when I shared that
I am an accountant.
I know what could have been going on in their minds. Like,
hello? We’re talking about passion here! No place for serious, all about cold hard logic, number-crunching accountants! Luckily, that was just my paranoid
brain talking. Even though they didn’t get what I do exactly, in the same way I
couldn’t imagine how a day is spent in advertising/marketing, I felt warm and
welcomed around them. In fact, I feel like attending their workshops regularly,
despite being quite beyond the “young women” category.
The Better Story Project is a such a noble move. I can only
hope more organizations will be dedicated to the empowerment of youth,
, in the future. There are so many factors
that influence us to focus on the wrong things, to look for ugly spots in the
mirror, to chip away parts of us here and there to fit into society’s
cookie-cutter definition of a woman, as if we need any defining.
I wish the people behind this project the time, resources,
inspiration and all the love they need to keep it going. :)
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