12 October 2017

the distinction of distinction


My husband's dinner time wisdom illuminated my somewhat dreary (on the average) disposition.  I'm usually (average of the average) cheerful (link to Exhibit A), but I suppose...imagine a high magnitude earthquake followed by a series of aftershocks. Or a stone thrown on a pond proceeded by ripples of water.  Or the opposite: a seemingly harmless stick that's patted on your arm in increasing frequency and intensity resulting to marred skin. Alright, that's enough of glamorized pain...

Wisdom. Husband. Right.
Our conversation was a mixture of daily events, achievements of our children, and my usual "what is your opinion about___" and "how do you interpret how I felt when___" and "what should I do/think about___."  What resonated with all that he had told me was to not immerse too much on thoughts about the future.  It was brilliant. Simple and brilliant.

On molding our children to be inclusive
I had suggested that perhaps we could educate our children about the difference between those who are vegetarian and those who are like us.  I thought that it would be a good exercise to emphasize that people differ in certain ways; perhaps through books or educational materials.  My husband didn't want to overemphasize that concept too much, because he didn't like the idea of teaching about "us" and "them." I thought, yes, it's "we." I like the thought. Expose but do not exaggerate.

On bracing myself for what is to come
On the subject of my verbal diarrhea concerning my thoughts, my husband (understandably exasperated) advised that I try to reduce the amount of thinking I allot for potential future scenarios. I had been introspecting about living in the present for years and I realized that I had deliberately bumped my head on an imaginary wall, developed amnesia, and stepped on the quicksand of "woe is my future." He also reminded me of my worth, because he thinks I undervalue myself.

"Adulting" and Self-Worth
We all, to a certain degree, have internal tussles about pride and humility.  Some people are overly proud and their entitlement levels are off the charts. Then there are those who consider themselves worthless and allow people to treat them like doormats.  Today's moral lesson is balance.  It can be a healthy practice to look in the mirror and have an imaginary conversation with the world by stating "I am valuable and I need to be convinced that you deserve me."  Or if you don't have time, just wink at yourself and say "You da man--Woman!"

10 October 2017

on awakenings, prudence, and vulnerability

Today is Canadian thanksgiving day and this long weekend was filled with memorable moments spent with family and extended families. Truly, there is much to be thankful for--and to share.

 I had been fixated on self-development and self-discovery for the past few days. After numerous inspirational videos and podcasts, I encountered this old Oprah episode:
 

My favorite statement from the video stated by Dr. Brene Brown, a social science researcher at the University of Houston, goes: "you share with people who earn the right to hear your story." I tend to be stingy about my stories--primarily because it's exhausting to recollect and share them with people. Also, I have to agree with Dr. Brown about being careful about what we share with people. But, it's a trial-and-error process isn't it? People aren't labeled with "10% share-worthy" or "half-and-half share-worthy." The episode above is a useful guideline, but based on experience what I find helpful is to give a sneak preview. Like a trailer. As time goes by, I become enlightened and realize that my stories are either being used as a stratagem to capitalize at my expense or become the basis for strengthening a connection.

 On a related note, when we are fully aware of our imperfections and accept them or improve when applicable (if it's a physical issue, then acceptance would be the best route), only then can we become compassionate with ourselves. When we are kind to ourselves, then we can be kind to other people. Our empathy can then be a magnet for fellow empathetic persons and the chances of getting a win-win situation when sharing our stories are high.

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08 October 2017

The ties that bind


 This post was prompted by a series of ordinary conversations both in person and through social media about loyalty. I hold persons who manifest honor, integrity, and (most of all) loyalty consistently in high regard--much like soldiers in battle. In this present day of heavy politicizing where there are "no permanent allies only permanent motives", it is a breath of fresh air to find people who have other people's backs. I venture to say that I aspire to possess the kind of honor, integrity, and loyalty that I hold in high esteem. And you might agree that this is a difficult and almost futile task especially when one's social environment reeks with deceit and hate. At least the movies continue to inspire us...

 

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05 October 2017

forbearance is a farce

Laughing at yours truly. Oh well. Erratic daftness levels. Imaginary horn blows in my ear to say "wake up!"
 

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25 September 2017

birds of the same peculiar feather

Image from Pixabay

It is a source of consolation to know that true friendships exist.  Friendships which are effortless and comforting.  The past few days led me to reminisce about my younger years and how I have many acquaintances, but quite few close friends.  I met my best friend (mentioned in this post) in high school during a summer class before our freshman year. We both came from Italian-based co-educational schools and were transferred by our parents to this French, Catholic all-girls high school that was once informally dubbed as a finishing school/ convent school. There were two other girls whom I had met previously from inter-school oratorical contests who entered the same high school--the four of us initially hung out then our recess/lunch group grew with the addition of a few other girls.

I fondly remember how we always looked forward to finishing exams, because that meant we could leave school early and walk to this mall where we would shop for pens and stationery then proceed to have our photo booth sticker pictures made. Interestingly, even though we were friends--we joined different extracurricular clubs and pursued our interests.  We didn't have rules and no one forced anyone else to do anything.  We didn't even go to each other's houses on weekends.  Looking back, I realized that it was precisely that inherent respect for each other's individuality (and we were all strange sorts, to be honest) that made our friendship work. It wasn't about wearing similar clothes or having a set schedule to do a specific thing--and that surely works for many other friendships--it was simply the appreciation of companionship.  

I am still in touch with my friends through social media. Thank heavens for social media. 
Indeed, birds of the same feather flock together---or as my husband would jokingly state, birds of the same feather are the same bird.

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18 September 2017

Silver Lining and Moderate Generosity

via Pixabay

I find myself holding on to a thin silver lining--that still, there is hope of deliverance. Liberation from bleakness. It will happen and so I have decided to let go of the heavy anchor of great expectations so as to be led by the waves of fortitude. Indeed as in Invictus, "I thank whatever gods may be for my unconquerable soul." Whenever we feel that we are armies of one, we ought to;remind ourselves that there are silent steady fixtures in our lives--pillars of unquestionable loyalty. We should then endeavor to be the same to those persons whom we call family or gut friends. Generosity in both giving and receiving. But giving too much, I find, makes one a fool.

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05 July 2017

a comma, a pause


I once mentioned the film Wit starring Emma Thompson in a 2016 blog post and I remember seeing the made-for-TV film while still mourning my mother's passing due to cancer. With my father's declining health and my bleeding heart that is worsened by my inability to be physically beside him (irksome passport processing times), I take comfort in John Donne's Death Be Not Proud

[05 July '17, I have now edited the punctuations below based on the "Gardner" edition]
Death be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so,
For, those, whom thou think'st, thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poor death, nor yet canst thou kill me;
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul's delivery.
Thou art slave to Fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppy, or charms can make us sleep as well,
And better than thy stroke; why swell'st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And death shall be no more, Death thou shalt die.

In the scene above, Emma Thompson recalls her exchange with her metaphysical poetry mentor. It helped me appreciate the essence of John Donne's poem. I could relate to Emma Thompson's desire to best understand the poem in an academic sense, but I could also very well relate to the professor's intention for Emma Thompson's character to apply the meaning of the piece. Carpe diem.

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Multitasking


Today's productivity level was above satisfactory (pat on the back). I had to remind myself that it is of far more benefit to focus on things that I can control. There is this book entitled Real Happiness at Work that I purchased for ~1/3 of its original price at a discount book shop and I would like to quote a section called "Multitasking..."

We would like to believe that attention is infinite, but it isn't. That is why multitasking is a misnomer. The brain can focus only on one thing at a time. We take in information sequentially. When we attempt to focus on multiple tasks simultaneously, what actually happens is that we switch back and forth between tasks, paying less attention to both. This does not mean we can't walk and chew gum at the same time, of course..."Successful" multitasking has been shown to activate the reward circuit in the brain by increasing dopamine levels--the brain chemical responsible for feelings of happiness. The danger of this is that the dopamine rush feels so good that we don't notice we're making more mistakes...In addition to dopamine, multitasking prompts the release of adrenaline and other stress hormones, which contribute to short-term memory loss as well as long-term health problems...Rather than divide our attention, it is far more effective to take frequent breaks between intervals of sustained, one-pointed attention.

Absolutely.

This book also recommends taking frequent vacations to boost productivity when one returns to work. I realized that most people I know who are from North America or Europe take regular long holidays abroad, which is almost taboo in the third world country I come from. Perhaps, I'm wrong--or maybe it's a third world middle class thing. I'm not certain. 

I've never been to Maldives...

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26 June 2017

like a sitting duck


There is a need to admit to oneself that sadness is swirling within.  It is a kind of sadness brought about by circumstances beyond one's control. A defenselessness-induced kind of sadness. There is no issue about other faculties--one is still able to function efficiently. It is those brief quiet moments in between accomplished tasks when unfortunate realities pour down like a sudden thunderstorm of moroseness. The kind that you do not want to spread around like a self-righteous pharisee parading one's fast by deliberately looking haggard so as to obtain the pitiful approval of people. But a comforting clutch from a loved one truly helps. Kind words from more empathetic persons too. Once again, the important point is to allow oneself to immerse in the emotion like a warm bath that later becomes lukewarm and eventually dissipates---evaporates. As opposed to forcibly removing a drain plug in an attempt to be immediately rid of the emotion. 

As a conclusion, here is Pablo Neruda's "Ode to Sadness" as an example of the irrationality of a typical woeful state: 
Sadness, scarab
with seven crippled feet,
spiderweb egg,
scramble-brained rat,
bitch's skeleton:
No entry here.
Don't come in.
Go away.
Go back
south with your umbrella,
go back
north with your serpent's teeth.
A poet lives here.
No sadness may
cross this threshold.
Through these windows
comes the breath of the world,
fresh red roses,
flags embroidered with
the victories of the people.
No.
No entry.
Flap
your bat's wings,
I will trample the feathers
that fall from your mantle,
I will sweep the bits and pieces
of your carcass to
the four corners of the wind,
I will wring your neck,
I will stitch your eyelids shut,
I will sew your shroud,
sadness, and bury your rodent bones
beneath the springtime of an apple tree.

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23 June 2017

Harrowing but surpassing


Last night's  brief chat with my father was once again a reminder to be in the present. To balance one's focus on future ambitions and present pragmatism just like Josephine March from Louisa May Alcott's "Little Women" who struggled to accept her individuality and fate in spite of her stubborn resolve.  On a related note, St. Teresa of Calcutta's many quotable quotes include "Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin." True. Even if the more noble choice is the more painful case, the more altruistic option, the less popular opinion. 

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