Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Leap of Faith

It’s been a while since I last wrote. I guess I came to a point where I had to rest. For every warrior, there always comes a time to put down his sword and regain his strength before forging on.

It has been a battle fought hard and won hard. I am happy with the work I have done. It was gruellingly difficult, but I am still left standing.

However, the fight doesn’t stop there. Life is a continuous process of re-creation and there will always be stones to turn, walls to climb and things to learn.

Now that I have reached that place where I feel much more peaceful, calmer and stronger about myself, it’s time to stand up again and proceed to the next encounter. And for me, this is to try out my new self in relation to other people.

We are all intertwined in this world. Without knowing it, we touch other people’s lives everyday, and their lives in turn touch ours. We are always in the process of interacting and there is no better gauge to measure how you have grown as a person than to see it through the relationships you develop with others and the new way you react to similar situations from your past.

A friend told me once “I am so proud of you – of the work you have done. You seem so serene.” And I remember telling her, “Yes, I feel calmer now. But wait until I get into another relationship, then we will see how far I really got.” Because it always seem easier to deal with things alone. You can control everything yourself. There is nobody else to answer to. But once you let another person enter your sphere – a totally different person than you, with his own mind, his own emotions, his own battles – then things become a bit more dodgy. You lose that sense of control, that sense of equilibrium, the sense of being in charge.

At this point, being alone seems to be the better option. And honestly, I have thought about that many times during the year. There came a point too many where I would say to myself “That’s it. I’m done. I don’t want to be with anybody anymore. It’s just so tiring.” But I know that I’m lying to myself – because I don’t want to be alone. I want to be in a relationship and experience the richness of it. I want to grow with somebody and share my life. I want to hold somebody’s hand when I am 80. So then I realize that for me, it’s not better to be alone. It’s easier, yes…but not necessarily better. I am fine and happy WITH myself, but I know that I will not be totally fine and happy BY myself. Other people might disagree with me, but this is MY truth….which might not be other people’s truth. Or maybe it’s my own personal genetic disorder.

So it came to happen that I met a man. A wonderful, charming, sweet man. And I felt giant butterflies again. And I started smiling stupidly again. And I started seeing all the colors of the rainbow again. In short, I fell back to being 17. Which was wonderful, of course. So wonderful that when you start descending from the clouds, panic sets in. Because, as with all relationships, time will come when reality will bite. Differences will come out. And then maybe, things won’t be as rosy as before. And at this junction, questions spring out and doubts start to grow. Should I stay? Should I go?

And this is the time to put the 17 year old aside, and let the 36 year old woman kick in. Yes, it’s time to ask questions, but it has to be the right questions. Questions centered on myself and not on the other person. I will not ask whether the other person will change because that’s not a question that I have the answer to. Rather, I ask myself whether I can accept. I will not ask whether the person loves me enough. Rather, I ask myself whether I love him enough. I will not ask him what he will do, but what I will do.

So I list down the reasons why I want to stay: because I believe in him as much as I believe in myself, because I see the goodness of his soul, because I can feel the gentleness of his spirit, because I love him…and most of the time, for that reason alone, it is enough.

…And why I want to go: because I’m scared to lose myself, because I don’t want to be hurt, because it’s sometimes hard to deal with the harsh realities of life, because it’s easier to run away than to stay.

And I see that my reasons for staying far more speak of my truths than my reasons for leaving. I want to leave based on fear. And when I see it like that, my choice becomes clear: I will not go with my fear. I have let it destroy my life for far too long. If I choose to go with my fear, I am not a better person as the one I was before. Fear constricts, while love expands. So I will go where my love lies, following where it leads me but keeping a constant watch that I don’t lose the person I am now. It is easier to run away, that is true. But God knows that I have never taken the easy road and miss out on life. And I am not going to start now. Life is love and love contains joy and sadness, tears and laughter, sun and rain, blue skies and grey clouds.

Wishful thinking? I don’t believe so. It’s a leap of faith - the same faith that have guided me through my dark nights and alleys and cradled me steadfast in the belief that all will be well. Faith in myself, faith in him, faith in our love, faith in the goodness of both our souls.

And, as they say, faith, the size of a small mustard seed, can move mountains.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A Matter of Choice

Each of us has the freedom to choose. In any circumstance that life presents us with, there is a myriad of avenues open for us to take. And nobody, outside of our own mind and body, can make us go where we don’t want to, nor make us stay if we want to go.

My journey, since it began almost a year ago, has been replete with choices. Hard choices. Choices that required me to jump blindfolded into the blackhole of the unknown. But looking at where I am standing right now, I can most confidently say that the choices I made were the right ones. And from now on, the life I live will be based on these choices that made me grow, made me strong and made me the person that I am today:

I choose to live elegantly and grow gracefully.

Elegance, in my book, does not depend on a person’s outward appearance. It will manifest itself outwardly but it comes from within. It takes root from your values, your beliefs, your steadfast principles. It is how you live your life, with yourself and with others, which define the true measure of your elegance.

Grace is the same. It begins inwards and radiates outwards. It speaks of the serenity of your heart and the peacefulness of your spirit.

These two traits come hand in hand. You cannot have one without the latter trailing behind it. However, to acquire them takes a bit of sacrifice and work on our part. For, most of the time, it necessitates letting go of our pride, our ego. It requires taking the high road even if nobody is there. But I found out that in order to find your own special place in this earth, you sometimes have to set yourself apart from the others.

I choose to forgive.

Many a time, my heart was full of anger, of blame, of rancour. During these times, I was gripped by an intense desire to lash back at all those people who have hurt me. I was so busy playing the victim that I didn’t notice how all these negative emotions were, little by little, eroding whatever good that was left in me. As much as I said in my previous post about goodness feeding on goodness, so does the bad feed on itself. And it will not be long before these feelings turn inward and damage your own self.

In order to stop the bleeding and spare yourself from a life full of spite, there is no other way out than to forgive. In order to live with a heart that floats rather than a heart that sinks, forgiveness is the only option.

So I chose to forgive. I chose to forgive myself. I chose to forgive others. And by forgiving, I was able to let go.

I choose to embrace the unknown.

I know fear. Intimately. I have lived with it for 35 years. I slept with it. I woke up with it. I carried it in my little purse everywhere I go. I never, for one moment, left it behind. I feared the past. I feared the present. I feared the future.

The problem with living with fear is that you do not really live. You are constantly beset by anxiety, by worry, by apprehension that there is no way that you can enjoy any moment. You might as well erase “enjoy” from your vocabulary. If you take fear with you wherever you go, you will never meet “peace” or “serenity” or “happiness”. But I wanted to meet them. So I had to let fear go.

Venturing out into the unknown, out of your comfort zone is a scary choice to take. However, the knowing lies in not knowing. Another paradox in life. In order to seek your truth, you have to know your untruths. And most often than not, the answer lies in the unknown.

Since I opened myself up to what I did not know, the more I knew. I now know what I want. I now know what I do not want. I now know what works for me and what doesn’t. And more importantly, I now know who I am and who I am not.

The choices I made were not easy. But neither is life. Peace, happiness and serenity come with a price. You only win the prize if you are ready to pay the price. But once done and once paid, there is no turning back, there is just going forward.

Thursday, June 3, 2010


I am feeling thankful. I didn’t even know that one can feel thankful. I always thought that being thankful is a fleeting state of mind. I wasn’t aware that it is something that can permeate your whole being and just settle. Like something that has found a comfortable spot and decided to linger.

But I was wrong. Because it can linger. It will stay as long as you let it. Filling up your heart with a swelling amount of gratitude each day until you feel like you can burst open with it.

It’s such a new feeling for me. You see, I have rarely been thankful. I was always concentrated on worrying, on controlling, on being afraid, on being scared - that gratitude couldn’t find a place to set its beautiful essence on. I could always spot what is wrong from tens of miles away. And worse, I could imagine a million and one ways things will go wrong before it can even start. And soon enough, I have a horror film playing in my mind fed by my very fertile sense of doom.

But since I started to open up and slowly release my fears, I could finally see beyond the clouds. The little things that I have taken for granted suddenly glistened in front of me. And little by little, gratitude entered. Now, I am just grateful for everything – the fact that I now have a deeper connection with my daughter, the presence of friends and loved ones around me who genuinely care, the roof above my head, my new job that fulfils me and let my creativity shine, a boss who guides me, values my work and recognizes my potential, colleagues who are very supportive. The list is long and my life replete.

It is such a liberation. When you enter this state, everything suddenly just falls into place. And you CAN expect the unexpected because things start to unfold right before your eyes with nary an effort. And suddenly, even the bad things that have happened in your life are seen in a different light. You see it as a blessing rather than a curse. And you are thankful that even those things happened.

However, there is one thing that I feel most grateful for. Far more than the things, people and circumstances surrounding me at the moment. Over and above everything, I am grateful to be myself. I am thankful that I didn’t buckle down under the weight of it all. I am thankful that I was courageous enough to plod on despite how stormy the journey was that most times, I couldn’t even see where I was going. I am thankful for the resiliency of my spirit. I am thankful for my faith. I am thankful that my heart was cushioned in hope, that no matter how dark the skies, I never doubted the presence of the sun.

And I am thankful to be in this state of gratitude because finally, I can love myself. I see my worth and what I am capable of. It’s funny how good things feed on good things. When you let yourself grow and just let yourself be filled up with good feelings, it just feeds on itself. And all the things that you thought could never be yours such as happiness, peace and love all start to appear – those things that every single person on this God-given earth looks for but we all think are very hard to achieve.

As I said in my previous post, I have a big love for words. It is of no surprise then, that at this moment of deep gratitude, I have found a poem that speaks perfectly of how I feel and has moved my spirit once more.


Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced or cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged the punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate.
I am the captain of my soul.

- William Ernest Henley

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Loving Oneself

« You should love yourself first before you can love somebody else » - you read any self help book, go into counselling, or just plainly have girl talk with your girlfriends and I am sure that these words, or something in the same variety, will be quoted.

It’s apparently a rule of life. Everybody knows it. Everybody quotes it. Everybody is aware of it.

But does everybody know how to actually do it? What does loving yourself mean, really? Does it mean staring at yourself in the mirror and stating “I love you, you wonderful, wonderful person”? Or do you go out publicly announcing “I am great and I love myself”? Well, these words can be the end result when you actually find the key to unlocking that self love in you. But before getting there, I found out that it is actually an arduous process.

Once you set out on your new road, start shedding your old skin and grow into the person you are meant to be, the world will look like a friendly place again. Smiles again appear, the twinkle in the eye returns, the laughter peals. It gives you a heightened sense of victory, of accomplishment.

In this case, it is easy to love yourself. You are manifesting the good in you. You again see the sun shining when you have believed that it has forever set. To hear your own genuine laughter after months and months of gloom is not just a gift; it is a miracle. It feels so good and so far from the bleak and murky sounds of your dark past that you feel that you have made it. The past seems over. The old you, gone.

Until the moment when you realize that she’s still there.

It can happen in an instant that you come face to face with the person that you loathed. You can be in a new relationship and find out that you’re still reacting the same way as before. You forge new acquaintances and you see old habits and pattern returning. You are faced with a situation and familiar emotions of anger, hurt and sadness re-appear. Then you realize that the past still looms. The old you is still ever present.

And then the turmoil within begins. Confusion bubbles up. Anger trembles your body. Your mind goes back to the questions that you thought you had already answered. Doubt enters.

And you hate yourself.

As I face this most recent episode where I am confronted by my old self again, I finally realized what loving myself means. It means that I have to be steadfast. I have to accept that I will always have that part of me that I do not particularly like. And if I am to have peace within myself, I will have to learn to grant myself the right to feel all types of emotions without any discrimination.

Loving yourself means learning to exist with your faults and your strengths. It means to be able to hold yourself lovingly in times of weakness. Again, it means not resisting whatever you are feeling but to allow it, without a judgmental eye.

From today on, let me embrace my mistakes as much as I do my triumphs. Let me receive my faults as much as my worth. I revel in the knowledge that there is still much to learn, much to know, and much growing up to do. I am uplifted by the thought that there is much room left to re-create myself. That my life will continue to be enriched by the people I meet, the experiences I encounter and the choices I make.

Let me remember that in my imperfection lies the opportunity of perfection. I allow myself to wobble. I allow myself to walk straight. By doing this, I allow myself to be loved.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Silent Companions

The road to self discovery is one that is best forged alone. Some journeys are meant to be done in solitude and finding yourself is one of them. This is because you can only discover your truest nature by going deep into your own stillness. Only through listening to the quiet can your own voice of wisdom emerge.

However, I have also discovered that once you set out in this path, you are never, and will never, be truly alone. Once you begin asking your questions, answers will come from unexpected sources. Once you have expressed your sincere desire to evolve to the universe, the universe will give you back the answers. The key is to be mindful and open to everything and anything that unfolds around you.

My own path started to reveal itself to me through one of my greatest passions – words.

I am a great lover of words. I have always marvelled at the power and influence that skilfully crafted speeches, essays or discourse have over the collective population. I have always lost myself in books. Books had the power to bring my imagination to its grandest height, to enfold me in rapture and stretch my being into raw emotions. It was but natural then, in the face of my gut wrenching grief and newfound solitude, to reach out to books for solace and guidance.

It wasn’t evident though. It took me a lot of rummaging before I actually found the kind of books that will help me rather than keep me trapped in my own misery (yes, those kinds of books exist). My very first foray was into Google typing “how to win back your ex” and other variations of the like - “how to survive divorce”, “how to get over your ex in 10 days”, “how to get over your ex in a week”, “how to know if your ex is still in love with you so you don’t have to get over him”. I read everything there was about these topics. I even downloaded e-books and PAID for them. Had I exerted the same effort during my studies, I probably would’ve graduated with honours and ribbons pinned all over my graduation dress. I am not saying that doing this is something wrong or shameful, it just wasn’t aligned to who I am and who I wanted to be.

Then I stumbled into David Richo…andI never looked back. His book “The 5 Things We Cannot Change and The Happiness We Find by Embracing Them” set me down solid on my right path and finally opened the doors to finding myself. How did I know that I finally found a friend? Because his words spoke to me. From the very first sentence of his book, I felt my spirit responding. My soul vibrated to his prose and I felt myself opening up. The teachings that he imparted in his book filled me up. I drank his words like a parched man dying of thirst. It was with this book that I finally faced my fear, and let it go. It was with his words that I finally let peace enter.

Armed with this discovery, I couldn’t wait to look for more people who spoke of a similar path to enlightenment. I looked for books that resonated with the same energy. And as I have previously stated, once you start looking, you will find.

Different names became my “unknown” friends. I held onto their words as if holding on to a friend’s hand. They inspired me, encouraged me, gave me hope. They made me believe.

In this post, I would like to thank all these people and their works that, unbeknownst to them, have helped this little soul get out of the gripping darkness and find herself:

David Richo: The 5 Things We Cannot Change and The Happiness we Find by Embracing Them
Neale Donald Walsch: Conversations with God
James Redfield: The Celestine Prophecy
Deepak Chopra: The Seven Spiritual Laws for Parents
Julia Cameron: Transitions: Prayers and Declarations for a Changing Life
Martin H. Padovani: Healing Wounded Relationships
Robert Emery: The Truth About Children and Divorce

…and the list is, and will still grow.

And so I find that in order to find who you really are and who you want to be, you have to find those things that resonate within you. For me it was books, for others it could be another thing – music, art, food, sports, photography. The list is endless. It need not also be exclusive. It can be a combination of some or all of them. Find those things that make your heart sing. Find that which makes your heart soar. Find your passion and you will find yourself. I have found mine. I hope you find yours.

Friday, March 26, 2010


I was looking at old pictures of myself and I suddenly had the feeling that I was looking into the face of somebody else. It looked like me but somehow, wasn't me.

In those pictures, I looked like somebody who was craving for somebody to notice her. I wore clothes that called attention. I was looking into the camera with an expression that says "please tell me you like me" or "please tell me you think I'm beautiful". My make up, although skilfully applied, masked rather than enhanced. I was posing like a model, which in itself is OK, if you ARE a model - which I wasn't. In short, these pictures didn't depict who I really was or who I wanted to be. I recognized in my eyes a feeling of being lost, of being in doubt, that all familiar look of fear.

Looking at those old photographs, I marvel at the changes that happened to me since then, both within and without.

Since the beginning of this year, my life has been marked by changes of gargantuan proportions that I barely had time to recover from the last and catch my breath, I am already facing yet another transformation. Not only are the changes massive, but the juxtaposition of all these changes is even more staggering. It took my emotions into different extremes all within a space of days or weeks - despondency with the pronouncement of my separation to excitement with being presented a new job opportunity, grief with the death of my father to celebration with my daughter turning 8 weeks after, from being gripped by fear of the unknown to sensing the thrill of facing it.

So many changes in so little time. I feel like the universe is catching up on all the time that I have lost walking aimlessly through life, and now that I am in the midst of discovering myself, it cannot wait to unfold all the changes and graces that I have been withholding from myself all these years. For together with all the changes happening in my life right now, I also see my own transformation. It is so palpable that I cannot even pretend to ignore it. My paradigm has altered, my core has shifted.

It is strange this place where I’m standing right now. I am no longer where I started but I am still not fully where I want to be though I can feel it nearing. I am still in the process of shedding my old skin and at the same time, already growing a new one. Is this what rebirth feels like? Am I living my own renaissance? They say that being born is one of the most painful experience humans can have. The passage through the dark alley of the birth canal is so excruciating that we have chosen to forget about it and thus we don’t remember our own birth. I guess rebirth is pretty much the same but instead of choosing to forget the heartbreaking and anguishing pain, we do so in full consciousness and mindfulness. This is precisely what brings us to a higher level of existence and spirituality. This is what catapults us from mere existence to a life of purpose. And this lets us usher in our own evolution and enlightenment.

I turned and looked at myself in the mirror…and I smiled. This person looks much calmer, more peaceful than ever. She is beginning to find her footing and finding happiness within herself. I turn back and look at the person I was in the photographs. I still hold her very dear to me. She was, still is, an intrinsic part of me. She helps me to stay grounded. She helps me remember how it easy it is to slip, if we are not constantly mindful of our course. Rather than treating her as an enemy, I choose to accept her as an ally. She will help me steer my ship. She will point out the coarse parts of the seas, the pitfalls of my way. Together, we will find our destination.

I know I will meet more challenges along the way. I will still go in places that will bring me back to that dim corner of anxiety and fear I know full well. However, this time I am prepared to meet my fate. Nothing is my adversary. Everything is there to help me. I don’t cringe nor try to make sense of what is happening. Instead, I open my eyes and heart in curiosity and let the waves of my sea propel me to the crest of wonderment.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Homage to My Father

He was larger than life. With his booming voice and a most self assured stance, he incited both fear and awe. Nobody else more than him could move me to tears and to laughter in a mere space of seconds.

It has not been an easy life with this man that I call my father. Special circumstances in our lives would not allow me to see him constantly or on a regular basis. His comings and goings would be announced with the next phone call and schedules had to be re-adjusted, plans had to be changed. It frustrated me to no end. But at the same time, it would also fill me with excitement. Seeing him would mean being able to embrace him, show him new things I learned in school, tell him of the new experiences I had. It would also mean a wait for his stamp of approval. To hear him tell me that he was proud of me and that he loved me.

As a child, I didn’t quite understand the conditions of our existence. My young mind was beleaguered with questions that sought guidance and answers…answers that would not necessarily be offered nor given.

However, through the years, I had begun to accept that whatever circumstances or decisions that led us to shape the life we lived with him, he had never stopped being a real father to me. As much as our time spent together was restricted and limited, that did not hold him from giving me the necessary love and care to help me mold myself into the woman that I am now, in the way that he knew how and possibly can.

Life with Dad was not one smooth ride. The road was replete with twists and turns, of rising and falling. Inevitably, it would be punctuated with differing levels of pain, sometimes tolerable, at times punishing. But my father showed us how to use this pain to grow up equipped with such strength that whatever life brings us, we will be able to take. He made us see that by letting ourselves fall and crumble, we cultivate within us the strength to get up and continue our journey. Through the experiences we had and the wounds that marked us, my spirit grew into resiliency. The very same resiliency that will help me overcome my own battles in life.

In the same way, my father gave me my faith, the supreme power of belief. He gave me the unshakable knowledge that masked behind every suffering and every grief, lies the gift of grace. That every agony your heart goes through is an opportunity to grow and learn and thus, serves a higher purpose. And that it is our deep spiritual responsibility to seek out this purpose. He would always tell me that “There is no room in this world for mediocrity”, something that has always been ingrained in my head. I always thought that he was speaking of seeking out the best career I can have and rising up the professional ladder. Only now that I realize that he was talking about a much higher truth – that of being the best person you can be, in whatever realm. To try to constantly go beyond your limits of being good enough to that of striving for your own excellence, in all aspects of life – professional, personal and spiritual.

My father was a full embodiment of a paradox. He can be gentle and severe, frightening and lovable, humorous and solemn. He roused both fear and respect, stirred up both anger and compassion, incited both hate and love. It has taken me years to reconcile all these opposing feelings brought about by one single and the same person. It is not easy to understand for somebody whose mind was used to resisting rather than accepting.

But through doing my own work in finding my own spiritual maturity, I finally recognized my father’s most precious gift to me that will let me go beyond my limited understanding – that of giving unconditional love. He showed me that love is steadfast. That love pursues relentlessly, in spite of and despite of, the other person’s weaknesses. He showed me that when we open up ourselves to the full reality of the other person, minus all the image and expectations we hold, we unlock in us that most stunning ability to love wholly and unconditionally. And when this happens, we are presented with the amazing grace to forgive.

Forgiveness bridges the gap between two opposing emotions. In forgiving others, we are able to hold the other person in loving kindness. My father always taught me to believe in the basic goodness of people and that gives me the capacity to not give up on anyone who has hurt me. My heart remains open to hope. My relationship with others, therefore, becomes reconciliatory and not retaliatory.

My father died on March 8, 2010 at the age of 73, when I was thousands of miles away from him. As he wished to be laid to rest as quickly as possible, I was not able to neither have a last look at him nor whisper a last goodbye. He was already cremated when I got home. Amidst my grief, I console myself with the fact that I did not see him suffer. That when I think of him, I shall always hold an image of him that was alive and full of life.

As I write and pay tribute to his memory, I begin to unravel his real legacy to me, much more than any material things he left behind. And I see that he is not truly gone from my life. The values and teachings he had given me, I will strive to pass on to my daughter and my daughter’s children. In this way, my father will continue to live. He will continue to laugh. He will continue to love.

So long, Dad and see you on the other side.

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” – 2 Timothy 4