The Character Conundrum

The Character Conundrum

When who you are and what you need clash – how do you deal?

Perhaps one of our biggest struggles as human beings is that we coexist with others who are so different from ourselves, making each and every dynamic a unique one. Sometimes it works seamlessly, when traits that make us intrinsically who we are fit perfectly with those of another. But when we have to co-exist with those whose traits – not only differ from our own, but clash – how do we deal?

I am so desperately searching for answers, especially now that mercury is in retrograde and I am already beginning to feel the effects of miscommunication, high stress, and the emotional toll of it all.

I remember having attended an overnight retreat on self-love and healing a few months back. It was a wonderful experience, headed by Dr, Lia Bernardo. There, we were taught how to love ourselves enough to know when to put ourselves first – this is something that is quite difficult for women, especially mothers – to practice. The experience opened my eyes to the fact that self-care doesn’t necessarily mean weekly massages, or treating yourself once in a while. True self-care means protecting your heart and taking care of your soul.

After that weekend of insights, I tried to do little things, make small changes that could keep that continuous flow of peace within me. But I soon came to the realization that in order to truly reach this level of quite frankly, not giving a f*#ck, I would have to give up pieces of myself that made me me.

I write this piece having just celebrated my birthday, and I can’t help but reassess where I am and how I am doing as I turn a year older. Being born late in the month of June, I fall under the water sign ‘cancer,’ and anyone who follows astrology knows that we are one of the most sensitive signs. Because of this, I live by the motto “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” I am quite sympathetic, and very forgiving. I am not perfect though, and many times, these emotions get the best of me, making me impatient, moody and even unnecessarily angry.

But perhaps the biggest downfall of being so in touch with my emotions, as well as the emotions of others is that I go above and beyond to make sure I wouldn’t do things that would hurt me to those around me, and when the same courtesy isn’t shown to me, I take it very personally and feel betrayed. In the end, this is hurting no one more than me.

So here is where my struggle lies – How do I continue to be myself and treat my relationships in the way that comes naturally to me, yet not get affected when those that don’t have the same traits can’t reciprocate my actions?

The one solution I found that helps me be more tolerant is to remember that you never give with the expectation of receiving something in return. I have to remind myself of this regularly because I tend to think about it in a more literal sense – It has always been easy to practice this when it comes to giving material things like gifts or tokens, and to a degree, even time and effort. It is much more difficult to practice when you are giving your patience, your selflessness, and essentially your love. And yes, it may be difficult, but not impossible.

You hear and read about cutting toxic people from your life, and though I 100% agree that this is necessary, it is not my go-to solution for dealing with conflict or hurt.

As I get older, I notice that it is easier for me alter my perspective, and I try to do this even when emotions are running high. Nobody is perfect, and in life, it is only the people that you love the most that have the ability to cause the most pain. Rather than look at a loved one and see only the hurt or the negativity that they may bring, I make sure to counter that by reminding myself of the goodness inside them and the positive when conflict arises.

In conclusion, I know that being extra sensitive to the feelings of others is a side to myself that I won’t be able to change or let go of. I am choosing to embrace it rather than find a solution to it. That being said, I will also give myself leeway to be more selective of whom I let in and keep close. Cutting the toxicity is necessary, especially if there is no love or deep connection to build on from both ends. This will be my way of protecting my heart. And to take care of my soul, I will continue working on myself to be fully accepting of those I feel are worth all the emotions they bring to my life, whether good or bad.

For you who are worth it – I will never stop giving a f*#ck.

P.S. I recently read an article advising cancers to ‘not feel imprisoned by who we think we’re supposed to be,’ and that we ‘may have a difficult time seeing ourselves clearly or expressing ourselves the way we would like,’ during this period of retrograde. Moreover, it is suggested that we will “feel at odds with our external selves.” From now until the 31st, try and remember this when you feel down or when things get hard. And remember, this too shall pass. Love and light my fellow crabs.

Wonder Women

Wonder Women

Being the month of May, Philippine Tatler and Rustans the Beauty Source recently teamed up to honor mothers everywhere. While this is a project I would’ve supported no matter what, I felt incredibly humbled to have been selected as one of the mothers asked to share her story. I, along with fashion designer Vania Romoff, and influencer Cat Arambulo Antonio opened up our homes showing moments of our everyday, and snippets of what it is like raising the little gems we have been blessed with.

The video was launched in a lovely event, where a group of lovely mothers and daughters were pampered with beauty treatments, and treated to a wonderful dinner spread by Happy Ompauco Tiu. I am so happy to have been a part of this event, and I am forever grateful.

Women and Power

Women and Power

It seems like everyone is disappointed with the outcome of this week’s elections. Instead of an opinion, I will share a hope – I will try to stay positive and truly hope that those that came out victorious understand that their positions are not for themselves but for the betterment of the country. That being said, I wrote a piece for another online publication for international women’s day 2018, and I would like to share an excerpt here:

“Yesterday we celebrated International Women’s Day, and there is no greater time to truly understand and be involved in the liberation of women. We have come so far to not go all the way now – If we were once not allowed to vote, work, drive, or basically have an opinion – what is stopping us from pushing it until every man sees every woman as his equal?

I feel like 2017 was the year that broke so many barriers for women. From the fall of Hollywood’s bigwigs (or better yet ‘bigpigs’), to the hidden truths behind huge associations such as U.S.A. Gymnastics, to misogynistic statements from world leaders simply not being tolerated – women are finally finding their voices in movements such as #MeToo, #TimesUp, #SpeakUp, and the like.

The time has come to band together ladies. Now is the time to push harder, and empower one another, supporting all women, and seeing their achievements as a step in the direction to a better tomorrow for our daughters and sons alike. As happy as I have been to hear these voices that will no longer be silenced, and have cherished their stories of survival, I can’t help but also feel sad to see that these baby steps forward also come with judgment and resistance, not just from men but from other women as well. Why can’t we just appreciate these movements for what they are – sympathy for those who have been treated unjustly, care for those who have suffered, and the beginning of our brighter future?

I’ll share an example – The other day I read an article about the film ‘Black Panther,’ comparing it to the film ‘Wonder Woman,’ talking about how one movie was more about female empowerment than the other, basically finding flaws in the way women were portrayed in the shunned film. I thought both films were wonderful. I thought both showed women empowerment. I guess it just bothers me that as a human culture, we feel as though in order for something to be on top, something else has to be below it. And this to me is the fundamental problem that led to the belief that women are in some way beneath men. And this is seen in every country, and in every decade – whether in the lower expected wages, to the fact that there are still men who think they can so blatantly abuse women.”

I felt like this passage was necessary to re publish today to remind everyone that we women should continue the fight for equality, regardless of the stance of those in power. We too have our own power and we are stronger as a unit. I’ll end with the quotes in the images you see – – Now, more than ever, it is time to stand together my fellow Filipinas.

On Judging Books by their Covers

On Judging Books by their Covers

Over the weekend the news of the women empowerment rallies across the United States filled our screens, and almost created a silent bond between any individuals that have ever been ostracized due to gender inequality.

Having 4 daughters, this goes way beyond empathizing with those who are directly affected by recent events that have transpired. Whether it is the Americans with newly inaugurated president Trump or we Filipinos with President Duterte, I think their foul comments towards women have more than offended us, and not what we want to hear come out of the mouth of a leader.

With this in mind, I was brought back to a Facebook post, which my husband shared with me a few months ago entitled ‘How Your Daughter Dresses Matters:’

http://www.shellywildman.net/2011/03/how-your-daughter-dresses-matters.html?m=1

Though I had read it, I just let it sit there without a reaction. As the weeks went by, I found myself going back to words and phrases that resonated with me:

“It was always easy to tell the tomboys from the girly girls by the way they dressed.”

“Back in the day they were the ‘fast’ girls. We may have called them worse.”

“The girls in the sexy clothes are the fast girls.”

“Dressing a certain way attracts a certain kind of guy.”

Written by a mother of 3 daughters, in one end I can completely understand the concern and need to protect and guide our girls in the right direction. But on the other end, I cannot help but feel like views such as this is part of the reason why there is so much inequality in the world today. And yes, I am saying it – this belief sadly contributes to ‘rape culture.’

Why do girls have to step back and hinder their individuality because of how boys might perceive them to be? Why can’t girls be celebrated rather than condemned? And why, why, why must girls be labeled based on something as shallow as their choice in clothes?

Perhaps instead of teaching our daughters how to dress we should constantly make them feel so loved, appreciated and respected, that they have no choice but to treat themselves in that same light? Instead of telling them that their skirts are too short, we should tell them that they are God’s greatest gifts to us, and that they are responsible for their bodies. Maybe, instead of putting such a focus on how our daughters express themselves, we should think about how we can instill modesty and self-respect through actions above all else? And perhaps instead of telling them these things, we should lead by example.

I myself do not agree with many of the styles you see on women of influence today. And social media has a way of romanticizing this lifestyle. But this came to me with age, and maturity. In my younger years, I was left to make my own decisions, mistakes, choices – whatever you want to call them. But I am grateful for that because it allowed me to forge my own personal preference when it came to style. And to add to that, I am going to own it right now – I dressed provocatively a lot. I still do at times when I wake up with a burst of confidence – but I was never a ‘fast’ girl. I never popped champagne bottles in a club or made passes at random boys. I never did illegal drugs or even smoked a cigarette in a social setting. I had all of 2 boyfriends my whole life and married the second one. In fact, I’ve only kissed 2 boys my whole life!

So how can you really generalize a half the world’s population based on how they dress because of how that might affect the other half?

And please, don’t get me wrong… I will NEVER encourage my daughters to dress provocatively. But I WILL encourage them to know who they are and practice self-expression. I will tell them to only dress for themselves and no one else. Not to get the attention of a boy or to impress another girl. Now that they are young, I try to point them in the right direction, but never hindering their style, only making sure they learn how to dress age-appropriately as well as for the occasion – No sneakers or rubber shoes to a formal gathering… A sweater when you go to the movies because you know you will feel cold… cycling shorts under a skirt so that there are no “accidents.”

Perhaps instead of always focusing our attention on our daughters dressing modestly, we can also focus our attention on teaching all of our children not to pass judgment so quickly, especially based on something so shallow. One of the earliest things we were taught was not to judge a book by its cover, but here we are, a generation of people who cannot help to do just that.

And yes, I’m sure there are those who will think I am naïve, sighting that boys are naturally wired differently and think with their pieces rather than their brains. But lets give them a little more credit. I give the parents that are teaching them more credit. Mothers and Fathers (more importantly) of boys, as crucial as teaching your sons to talk, walk, swim, read, and write, ingrain in them how to respect and value girls as much as they would anybody else. Teach them that respect is a 2-way street. Teach them that the differences between boys and girls should be celebrated rather than questioned.

You can bet I will teach my daughters how special your sons are.

Let us work together to build a better generation, one that sees equal rights, opportunities and respect for all. And yes, one that doesn’t judge a book by its cover.

 

 

 

 

 

We who were blessed with children have the power to change the future generations. Let us be a part of this change.

Mothers and Fathers (more importantly) of boys, as crucial as teaching your sons to walk, swim, read, write, ingrain in them how to see girls as their equals. Teach them that respect is a 2 way street.

You can be sure I will teach by daughters the same thing, and lead by example, loving and respecting my father, and brothers, and most importantly my husband.

Fathers, show them how to love your wife. Show them that you put her above anyone else and value her opinion. Thank her for the time and effort she puts into making your house a home. HELP her make your house a home. Show your sons that it is okay to wash a dish, or sweep a floor, or hit the grocery store.

Mothers, don’t ask for equality… BE an equal. Thank your husband for the countless hours he puts in to support your home and lifestyle. Go out and find your passions, and help contribute to the household.

 

Because one day, they may share a class at school… One day, they may dance at a party… One day they may cross paths while building their careers. Because one day my daughter might marry your son and he should not hinder her growth as an individual.

 

 

Until I see You All Again…

Until I see You All Again…

Every time someone close to me passes, my belief in a higher power only further solidifies. Because I am not particularly good at goodbyes, I could never stomach a last goodbye. So when the physical body goes, I turn to meditation and prayer – talking to those who have gone in my mind and through my spirit. And even if they can’t speak back, I feel like when I need them, they respond by sending me little signs.

I know those that go live on… Where, is the question? A few days ago my grandfather bid us farewell after a very full life. He was given 93 glorious years, in which he was able to see all of his children as well as most of his grandchildren walk down the aisle, and was even able to happily enjoy his great grand children. He was such a jolly man, that his absence will definitely be felt. I already miss his hearty laugh, and the way he always wanted one of us to hold his hand.

As I began to cry upon hearing the news of his last breath, I was lucky to have all my daughters engulf me in a tight hug. Though that memory will probably forever be etched in my mind, what will always stick with me are the wise words my 9 year old said to cut the somber silence:

“Mommy, I know it’s hard, but you have to think of Opa going as a good thing. You know how you like to travel and visit new places? Just think of him going on a long long trip where he is visiting new places and also going back to his favorite places to go. Even if you don’t see him, he is happy.”

The innocence of a child allows them to see things with such unclouded vision. Suddenly, I could see my Opa clearly walking the streets of Palo Alto, swimming in the oceans that he used to frequent, looking in on his youngest daughter’s neighborhood in Melbourne, and eating to his hearts content along the way.

As for me, my Heaven or the afterlife will look something like this – A little bit of the ocean, a little bit of greens, a little bit of blooms – and of course those I hold dearest that went ahead of me.

I’ve always believed that when it is our time to go, those have that have gone before us welcome us and help lead us into the light. Which is why I truly believe that there is no such thing as a last goodbye. So Opa, and all of you up there, enjoy yourselves and your happy places… Until I see you all again.

Only Sweeter with Sweet Escape

Only Sweeter with Sweet Escape

A few months back I went to Bali to celebrate my wedding anniversary. While there, I wanted to document our trip, but also didn’t want to spend so much time taking photos. As with all my holidays – whether it is a quick getaway with my husband, a fun family vacation with my children, or even a solo soul search – I struggle with capturing the moment and living in the moment. I want both, but I can’t have both.

The closest solution to that was booking a session with Sweet Escape. They have professional photographers in various destinations all over the world that can help you keep your memories far after your trip is over, without the hassle of stopping in every corner to snap a picture. A usual session is 2 hours long, which is just enough to get good photographs in, while not taking away too much time from actually vacationing. After this first experience, my husband jokingly said, “I will invest in Sweet Escape in every trip from now on because you never asked me to stop and smile for a photo after our session.”

Joking aside, the photographs came out beautiful that sometimes, I can’t believe it only took such a short amount of time. The photographer we got was also as kind as he was talented – making us feel that much more comfortable in front of the camera. Because he was a local, he even gave us suggestions on where to go and what to do – an added bonus to an already fun portrait session.

I cannot wait for my next trip with my girls, and for the tangible memories I get to take home with me. For those planning their next getaway, I highly recommend a session with this amazing team.