Friday, October 29

Live In The Moment to Make It Through

I went into the week with a heavy heart. I had too many “challenges” at work. But guess what? It’s Friday already! I made it through the week!

It wasn’t easy. I had to carry the heavy heart every day. But, I tried my best to focus on the moment, to focus on the work at hand. Mind over matter. One challenge at a time. One day at a time. And now, it’s Friday!

Which brings me back to Sam's Ingredients For A Fulfilled Life.

There is nothing wrong with dreaming. Dreaming is good. It’s good to look to the future; to look at a goal, an end state, to get the things that fill us. However, dreams are supposed to inspire us. They are supposed to drive us. They should not be a source of frustration and unhappiness. Dreams become a burden when we spend more time whining for them than working for them. We need to deal with the here and now to get to our dreams in the future.

Dealing with the here and now. Now, that is work. Hard work. Life throws us lemons and curved balls. Deciding whether to catch the lemons and turn them to lemonade or deciding whether to get hit or to dodge curved balls by moving to the right or to the left. Making decisions is work and acting on decisions even harder work. Regardless, making decisions require that we focus on the moment.

Now, how does one survive the moment? For sure, even the moment can bog us down and drown us. Well, the following work (notice, the word is “work” as there is effort involved) for me:
  • I think positive. I look at the glass as being half full and not half empty.
  • I ponder upon and take to heart the "Serenity Prayer". There are just some things I can’t control and that I just have to let go.  That no amount of anger, of sadness, of worry, of dwelling, etc. will correct and make the situation go away.  That the only thing I can do is look at the situation straight in the eye and take the beating if need be.
  • We need to take time out ... yes, a drop-everything-time out to smell the roses.
  • As a result of #2 above, I just have to believe.  Believe that this moment shall pass and that tomorrow, the future, shall come.
  • Part of believing is knowing that what I have to endure at the moment is necessary for me to get to the future. The moment is my investment towards a fulfilled life.  As it has been said, "Nothing beautiful ... (a fulfilled life in this case) ... comes easy."
Monday, then I was a 5 year old not wanting to work. Friday, now I am an adult looking forward to a restful, fun-filled weekend. Have a great weekend, everyone!

Sunday, October 24

My Escape

The past week had been "bothersome" (to say the least) for me.

First, there’s that epic panic attack I brought upon myself for the (bleep!) decision to tell my EX that I now have a blog.  Tsk.  Tsk.  Tsk.

Second, I don’t know how I’ll be able to pull 2 business deals through.  With all the company restructuring and other cost cutting initiatives, I simply do not have the same rope to work with in closing deals.  It’s like extracting a tooth out before anything gets approved.  Ouch!

Third, I learned that I need to tell a complainer client that his request for better terms had been disapproved.  Oh, I can imagine him now. My poor ears (sigh)!

Fourth, have you been to the Coffee Shop recently?

Last but not least, at school, it felt like my students were caffeined-up as well.  Dear Lord, were they all hyped up!  I think I’ve gotten them too engaged.  Or was I just cranky?

So, to calm and soothe my nerves, I went to the nearest reservation to my house.  A leisurely 20 to 30 minutes drive.  Camera in tow, I started clicking away.

Yes, when I want to escape reality for little while, I become an amateur than amateur photographer and poet. Thought I’d share some of my works ...

(one I posted in Sam's Ingredients For A Fulfilled Life page, where picture is mine, but prayer written by somebody else).

Incidentally, I will be getting back to my Fulfilled Life series once I am back at my elementMy mind is all blurry now.

Wednesday, October 20

Panic Time!

Stupid, stupid me told my EX that I started a blog.  Teasing?  Probably.  But I was so confident that she, no one I know in fact, will ever find my blog.  That is, until last Sunday.

I had this feeling that my EX was already in search of and that was dangerously near to finding my blog.  I’ve done a google search before and my blogspot user name or my google buzz name did not appear.  Then, from nowhere, I thought of typing my gmail name.  And, to my horror, all blogger buzz entries with my gmail name showed!  Worse, if one clicks on it, it goes to my profile and my blog’s link!

Pitter patter, pitter patter rising to a crescendo of THROB! THROB! THROB!

I nervously posted questions in the help forums asking why my gmail name showed and, more importantly, I how do I correct this.

Sunday.  Monday.  Even Tuesday was drawing to an uneventful close when I heard my gmail alert.  At exactly 11:30 pm EDT, somebody was visiting my blog.  Can it be?  I logged in StatCounter and my heart leaped out of my mouth.  Oh no!!!  My EX is reading my blog!

It was a battle of nerves.  What to do?  What to do?  Do I erase the posts I wrote on her/us?  Or do I leave them there?

I BBMed her to let her know that I know she’s lurking.  And guess what?  She logged out!  Well, what do you know?  And now, we’re both playing innocent.  As if she didn’t see my blog.  As if I believe her

I wonder what will happen next … between me and my EX … this blog?  What will become of my blog?  Think, think, think.  I guess this is a “To Be Continued”…

Monday, October 18

What I Did

I procrastinate.  I vacillate.  I’m simply indecisive; or maybe I am just a moment person.  I believe in feeling the moment out – if the timing is right or not. I believe in “signs”.  I believe in gut.  I believe in that “voice within”.  So, until I have said or acted my decision out, it’s as if no decision has been made.

In other words, I was totally unsure of myself till it was time to leave the church, the very end of school day!

I agree that I needed to inform the “authorities”, whether it meant telling Y’s mom or the Sunday school director.  I have the responsibility to.

But I was also torn with my responsibility to keep my student’s trust and confidence.  Clearly, I needed to tell Y that I need to tell someone of the rape.  Never mind if she did not agree.  Never mind if she did not want me to.  For as long as I talked to her and explained to her why I would do what I will do.  At least I did not lie to her.  At least I did not do it behind her back.  That should be enough for her to give me credit for.  That should be enough for me to be worthy of trust and confidence in the future.  I had to tell Y that I would do what I will do because I believed, at that very moment, that I was doing the right thing.

It was right not just because I was doing what was expected of me.  It was right because by telling “authorities”, she will get more help and support than I can give.  There will be more people looking out for her; and for other kids too.  The “molester” needed to be stopped; and that wouldn’t happen if I kept quiet.

While I was rehearsing all these in my head, my spiel, it dawned on me.  On the way to church, Y asked if she can sit beside me during mass.  Of course I nodded “yes”.  But, as my duties called for it, I ended up sitting beside another student.  So, right after mass, I motioned to Y to come to me.

“I’m sorry I couldn’t sit beside you during mass.  Did you want to tell me something,” I asked.

She just looked at me so I continued. “How are you? Has it stopped?”

Y said, “Yes. He left the country.”

“And that was after your mom talked to him,” I asked.

Y nodded.

“What else did your mom do,” I prodded.

“Mom brought me to the hospital. And the police came.  Then mom brought me to a special doctor and the doctor gave me medicine.  The doctor said I had an infection like a diaper rash.”

At this point, I wanted to hug her but I didn’t.  I didn’t want to break down.  I couldn’t, shouldn’t.  Here in front of me was this strong little girl.  You can see the fear in her face, but you can see that she wasn’t about to cry.  And I didn’t want her to. So, no hug.

Instead, I started walking out of the church with Y beside me.  That’s when I put my arm around her shoulder as if in a casual walk.  And I gently asked, “How did it happen?”

And Y started telling me the details, which I will skip.  And that’s because more important than details of the rape was what Y said at the end of her story; an ending that said a lot about the little girl.  An ending that gave me confidence that Y will be ok.

While in the hospital, Y asked her mom: “Mom am I pregnant?  Because if I’m pregnant, I want to keep the baby.”

Huh?!  Unbelievable!  Here she was, an 11 year old rape victim, and what she’s worried about is keeping her baby!

So, I asked her, not knowing if she’ll understand: “Do you already have your period?”

Thank God Y understood and said, “No.”

And thank God, too, that I had the chance to say this before Y’s mom came, “Y, a bad thing happened to you.  And a whole lot more bad things will happen to you. Some better, some worse than this one.  Just remember, just because bad things happen to you it doesn’t mean that you’re going to have a bad life.  It’s up to you.  It’s up to you to make your life a good life.  It’s up to you to turn bad things to good so that you will have a good life.  Do you understand?”

Y smiled.  And the hug came.  Y gave me the hug!  Then she ran and took her mom’s hand.

Well, I guess, that one didn’t turn out bad.  Oh, the things we worry about.  Especially when there are others who have a whole lot more to worry about than us.

P.S. As for B, I thought I had a plan already. But while I was typing it now, it didn’t seem like it was a good plan after all.  I need to re-think this one.  I know.  I’m procrastinating again.  But sometimes, as I've learned, procrastinating can be a good thing, too.  As it is said, "Good things happen to those who wait."

Wednesday, October 13

Just What Do You Do When You Are Told These Things?

Ok, hold on to something. I’m about to say something about myself: I teach Sunday school Yup, I’ve been a volunteer Sunday school teacher for 3 years now. And I teach 6th grade.

Two Sundays ago, I happen to sit beside a current student, Z, who happens to be the brother of a student I had in my first year of teaching. I asked Z, “How’s your brother B?” And Z said, in a matter-of-fact way, “He’s got cancer.”

I don’t know if the weight of my shock showed on my face, but there definitely was a pregnant pause after that. My shock was for two reasons:

  • Shock at learning a kid I actually know (this is the first one for me) has cancer
  • Shock at seeing how stoic Z was when he said that his brother has cancer. I don’t know if he is aware of how bad that illness can be. Or if he was just acting strong. I was trying to see if he was teary-eyed or if he needed a hug. Or maybe, I just wanted to give him a hug. A hug for him and his brother.

Then last Sunday, after the mandatory Sunday school mass, while I and the kids were on our way out of church, my student Y suddenly turned around and told me, “My uncle raped me.” Again, I was shocked and searched my student’s face. Y looks like a very emotionally healthy kid. Always cheerful, always lively. She doesn’t look like the sexually abused little girls I see in Law and Order. So, I was trying to see if she made it up and was just pulling my leg.

“Does your mom know,” I asked.

And Y said, “Yes.”

“Do you want to talk about it,” I mumbled.

“No,” she said.

“You sure,” I followed up.

“Yes,” and she flashed a sweet smile.

“You ok,” I just had to ask.

“Yes.” And she ran away.

Now, I was thinking ...

I want to send a card to B and a card to his parents as well. But then again, doing so feels a little awkward. Some people just don’t want to be reminded of the situation they are in. The cards might, instead of cheering them up, pull them down again. 

And Y? Should I talk to her mom about it? But what if Y was just making it up? If Y wasn’t lying about this, can she be lying about telling her mom? What if Y’s mom doesn’t know? Shouldn’t her mom know? Was Y actually asking me to tell her mom?

Questions, questions. Questions I need to answer before Sunday comes. What do you think?

Monday, October 11

What Fills Your Life?

This is a true story.

A year and a half ago, my friend A had a miscarriage. After listening to her story, I said: “I don’t want to make you feel any worse. But you do know that you lost your baby because you were stressing yourself with anger; anger at your bosses for not supporting your move to and promotion in another division, right?”

And she started crying. In between sobs, she said: “Thank you. For aside from my mom, you’re the only person who recognized the connection between my anger and my miscarriage. You don’t know how good it feels to be understood.”

Fast forward to last week. A surprised me when she asked the trainer: “What’s next? What if I feel so happy and contented now?”


After the miscarriage and the lost promotion opportunity, A once again conceived and, this time, successfully gave birth. She’s still in customer service with the same boss and still wanting to get a more challenging job. So, what changed?

Here’s what. A almost lost her life after giving birth. As she explained, “I am just happy being alive! What they say is true. We tend to appreciate the things we take for granted when they are (almost) taken away from us. I had such a scare at the thought that, in death, I will lose my family!”

Still, something was not quite right to me so I had to ask, “If you’re really so happy and contented, why even ask for what is next? Why not just revel in the moment and wish that the moment never end?”

And she answered, “Because I want to know if I am missing something while I am in this happy and contented state.”

Another "Huh?!"

Moral of the story: “knowing what will fill your life" is probably the trickiest of all the ingredients in having a fulfilled life. Why? As A’s story seem to show, it may be because there is no one thing that will fully fill your life. Maybe it is a combination of things over a continuum of time. Maybe we get to know “what’s missing” after we go through life’s experiences. Maybe it’s trial and error. Maybe Maslow* is head on.

Remember our analogy on how a "fulfilled life is like a full stomach"? How the need to fill our hungry stomachs is just like the need to fill our hungry lives? Maslow said that we will experience perfect moments; moments when a need is filled. However, needs change. And, being the intelligent and full-of-possibility human beings that we are, there is a need that we will never fill. And this is the need to fully satisfy our potential – you know, the “I can be this … I can be that … I must be this … I must be that … I will be this … I will be that,” kind of thing. Yes, man is such an insatiable being!

Wait a sec though. Does this mean then that we are just wasting time, me writing and you reading this blog since it seems impossible that we will ever experience having a fulfilled life at all?

On the contrary, this is the reason why I will continue to write and, hopefully, you will continue to read. For Sam’s second ingredient for a fulfilled life is: knowing when to stop!

* Want to know more about Maslow?

Saturday, October 9

A Fulfilled Life Is Like Having A Full Stomach

Funny, but I was having a hard time writing up the answer to the question, “What is a fulfilled life?” Too many answers racing thru my mind that I was unable to pin down what it is that I really wanted to say.

So, to put structure to my thoughts, I decided to google the subject. And this is what Google showed:  About 19,400,000 results (0.21 seconds). Even Google had too many answers.  Encouraged by all the jumble I saw, l think this is the best way to go about it …

A fulfilled life is literally a life that is fully filled. Questions are:

• What is it that will fully fill life?
And knowing the “what”, how does one fully fill life with it?
• In the first place, what does “fully fill” mean?

Again, we begin at the end. To fill is to saturate, pack, make something full.

Imagine your stomach as your life. Remember how an empty stomach feels or, on the other hand, how a full stomach feels?  Hunger can cause you to feel some discomfort, to lose concentration and, at times, to even get sick.  A full stomach generally gives a good feeling.  It gives you energy to continue on.  A fulfilled life doesn’t feel like an empty stomach. A fulfilled life feels like a full stomach. 

Extending this analogy further. Ever experienced overeating and all you can think about is throwing up and getting whatever you ate out of your body? Or, worse, ever experienced eating something that just didn’t go well with your body, you get this stomach ache for hours and you find yourself ending up in the hospital? 

Same with life. We may be filling our lives with things that we thought we want or need, only to realize that we should be filling our lives with something else. 

I won’t drag this first point any further. Without further ado, here it is. Sam’s first ingredient for a fulfilled life: Know what it is that will make you feel fulfilled.

Thursday, October 7

My Fervent Prayer

Have you ...

... ever been in a love-hate relationship with someone who is a fixture in your life?

... ever "hated" the person enough that you knew growing up what you DO NOT want to be?

... ever "hated" the person enough that you started rebelling inside and out, and started becoming cold and withdrawn?

"Hate" is such a strong word, but I can not think of any other word which best describes that strong feeling of utter disgust. Yes, I had this repulsive feeling in me while growing up.

And did you ever ...

... just literally wake up one day and find this "hate" feeling gone and in its place instead is the feeling of warmth, tenderness, and protectiveness; of love and gratitude, because you realize that the person you "hated" is but a product of so much anger, hurt and pain?  And that all the person really did was to love you fiercely, thinking that her way of caring will protect you from the people and the things that crushed and calloused her? 

I have.

And as I lulled myself to sleep last, I couldn't help but cry. Why? Because this person, my Mama, in her old age is living alone!

She says she misses us all. But when she hears of all the crime and suffering in our country, she's only too glad that we have all left. She says that knowing we are in safer countries with far better opportunities makes the loneliness all worth it. 

I know this sounds morose, but I fervently pray that she will not pass on alone. She deserves much, much more than that! She is the ultimate mother hen – always there for everyone, sheltering everyone under her wings, making everyone’s problems her own. I BEG, BEG to be there for her, with her when her time to rest comes.

Sunday, October 3

A Note Of Thanks

Dear T and BM,

Thank you for your words of support and encouragement! And yes, I will continue to blog.

I believe that everything happens for a reason; that nothing comes out of a vacuum. Although I started blogging just to vent – to express thoughts and feelings that I am unable to say out loud – somehow blogging has began to feel like a “calling”. As BM said, “… there might be someone out there that your blog inspires or even helps …”

I can’t say that it is my dream, as “dreaming” for me is like "winning the lotto", but the thought did cross my mind that my life is worthy of a book. I have a story to tell – a story of hope, faith, and victory. My life is a life of ironies and paradoxes. It is so twisted when gauged against conventional beliefs (religious or even scientific) that it is hard to believe (even I am amazed sometimes), how “well” I and my life turned out to be (knock on wood lest the rug be pulled out from under my feet after this!).

Please note though: my life had never been, still isn’t and I don’t expect it to be perfect. But that is the point. Despite my life’s lack and imperfections, despite the current professional and personal grayness in my life, at this very moment, I genuinely feel like I’ve lived a full life (not to say that there’s nothing for me to live for anymore). I feel like if I was money invested in the stock market just yesterday, whoever invested me already doubled the investment and more!

Another note, another point: if twisted me can feel fulfilled, everyone else can!

And this is why I will continue to blog. I am no writer. I do not have the skill or the discipline to be a real writer. My thoughts are all over the place (now you know why my blog title and header are what they are). Now, since I am writing-challenged and, thus, I am unable to write a book on life, I will do what it is I can do. I will do the next best thing (not to mean I am great at it either), which is to blog.

P.S. Just had a lightbulb. I will work on adding another page in my blog. A page that I will be updating every time I have a eureka. I will entitle the page: Sam’s Ingredients For A Fulfilled Life. I will cue you in, via an introductory post, when the page is added.

(I can see you both now saying, while shaking your heads and rolling your eyes: "Why couldn't we have just kept our mouths shut. We've created a monster!")

Saturday, October 2

Should I?

After 3 months of blogging, I am still undecided.  Do I want to change my profile and, someone asked, reveal my gender?

Two reasons why I didn't and haven't:
  • Gender is a big part of my blog being.  It will reveal itself in time, if it hasn't still.  Isn't it obvious from my posts?
  • I want people to read my blog for its merits.  Because there is something in it that they can relate to and appreciate, not because it/I fit in nicely into one of the buckets.

My interest in blogging has branched out from writing to reading.  And since reading is way easier to do than writing, I find myself reading much more than writing (lazy and nosy me!)  As I read more and more blogs, it is clear that flocking is very much alive in blogworld.  Interesting. 

I'm not mad.  I'm not sad.  I'm just sayin'.  Interesting, really.

Friday, October 1

The Good Side of Profiling

I have always been fascinated by psychological tests, or psychological assessments as they now call it. The objective of such assessments is to know an applicant’s personal qualities –- knowledge, skills, attitudes, behaviors, aptitude –- and see whether the applicant will “fit” the job, the team, the company. One can say that a psychological assessment “profiles” a person to predict future performance.

Just this past week, I had the pleasure of being assessed using 3 different tools:
  • DISC describes me as a DC (dominant-conscientious), task-oriented person
  • STRENGTHSFINDER  listed my top 5 strengths to be:  strategic, learner, responsibility, connectedness, and futuristic
  • EMERGENETICS  profiled me as a strong “quad” – a person most likely to succeed in any situation!  Yay! 

Why do psychological assessments move me? Three reasons. 

1st -- just like with psychics and zodiacs, it tickles me when somebody (or something) is able to tell me what I am like without having the benefit of really knowing me.
2nd -- it is nice to hear good things about myself as it is nice to get a gentle nudge for me to work on the chinks in my armor. And knowing that I have areas for improvement, it is reassuring to know that I am actually a WIP (work in progress)!  That I change and with change comes hope.
3rd -- assessments are humbling reminders that this corporation called Life has expectations. And for us to fit in this world and have meaningful lives, we need to work at it. We need to know what the expectations are and we need to know if we can continue as we are, or if there is a need to change and reinvent ourselves.
Looking around, I see corporations and their markets evolve. I see life on earth and earth itself evolve. I guess this only means that so should we.