Sunday, June 22, 2008

Turning Point

Three months ago today, I and my family decided to pack up our things to move to Canada, for good.

When we left, a number of my friends and relatives were flabbergasted. And for good reasons. Back in the Philippines, I was a woman who lived a comfortable and easy life. I had a good-paying and rewarding career that showcased the best in me both as an employee and leader. I had a bank acount that, by ordinary standards, is more than enough to send my children to good schools, build my dream house and sustain a comfortable life.

I wasn't rich, but I had almost everything a woman of my age could ask and wish for. Why trade them for a life of uncertainty and hardship? Why rock the boat?

Somehow, amidst the stable and secure life I was living then, there was a sense of longing in my heart that cannot be captured by words. No, it is not midlife crisis. I didn't have the negative emotions usually associated with those going through this stage. I think that for the rest of my life, I will continue to hold on to and live by the values and principles that have given my life meaning and direction. I think that I am and will continue to be on the right path.

I think it is more of identity affirmation as opposed to midlife crisis. It's the kind that has made me take stock of and appreciate what I have only to realize that I was ready for the next level of personal growth. It's the kind that has made me felt full and yet seeking for more, for something higher, something deeper. I'm not talking about material things here. I'm talking about things that are unseen by the eyes, but felt by the heart and spirit.

Such was the seed planted in my heart. And God has led me to this place by opening this door of opportunity for me and my family. There must be something out here for me. There's a spirit in me that says I will be able to survive the tough times and adversities here and become the best person I could ever be.

I am now on my third month in this new country and for sure, we're not yet fully settled nor adjusted. I have not yet found the right job for me. I am currently employed as department manager of a big retail store but I don't feel a sense of belonging in the job. I'm still figuring out a lot of things in this new culture. I get confused every now and then but somehow, I manage to find my way. I get frustrated even for just simple things. I miss the old familiar places back in the Philippines and terribly long for the presence of my dearest friends.

Adjusting to life in Canada is an unfolding and slow process for me. And I think that is ought to be.

My personal journey is just beginning.

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Prodigal Father

I wasn’t particularly fond of my father, nor was he of me. He was there since I was born up to the time I was growing up. He was physically present but was so elusive, near yet so distant. I could only recall one or two bonding moments with him, obviously not enough to cement our relationship.

I grew up becoming cold and aloof towards him. Something has gone terribly amiss between us. And I knew exactly why and how it happened.

My father was an incurable womanizer. For sure, he did not abandon us. But his bad habit of leaving us alone in the house for three straight days and reappearing later without a word of explanation had rendered my little world unsteady. I would wake up in the middle of the night wishing that he would be home soon. But when he wasn’t around, I felt strangely settled and secure. And yet, I envied my friends who had fathers that obviously cared for them a lot. Their world was a lot complete than mine.

Slowly, I became painfully aware that my resentment was turning to anger, then hatred, then betrayal. I sincerely doubted in my heart if he truly truly cared for me or his family.

When I became financially independent enabling me to support my college education, I basked in the newfound freedom. At last, I was free from his control. I was determined not to have anything to do with him. I left home and cut whatever ties I had with him. I communicated with my mother and siblings throughout the years I wasn’t home but never with him. The truth is, I was consumed with so much anger and pain inside. Strangely, I also felt so empty and hollow.

For years that I was away from home however, my father’s shadow kept following me. I viewed every man that showed interest in me as a potential heart-breaker or home wrecker. I had all my defenses solid and intact around me. I tended to question my authorities, whether in school or at work, and always doubted their credibility as leaders. I greatly envied my friends every time they would talk about their dad being their best buddy, and dismissed that as sheer nonsense.

After several years of unbroken silence, my father and I were eventually thrust into a situation that we both didn't like, but had no choice. He was into an extensive medical treatment for his heart ailment and he needed me to care for him and to assist him financially. I had the choice to either give or withhold my support. I chose the first, albeit grudgingly.

When my father lay comatose in his hospital bed after a near-fatal heart surgery, I saw the image of a different man – helpless, weak and broken. I suddenly felt the need to touch him. As I touched him, all the feelings within me were miraculously unearthed -first there was confusion, then anger, then bitterness, then pain. And then there was something else underneath, a solid core that never left me. It was a deep kind of love, compassion and kindness that had been there all along, only these were masked by the negative feelings that I carried with me through the years. Sometimes, we wander to look for answers only to find out that the answers are within us all along.

After his heart surgery, my father lived on for five more years. It was one of the most meaningful events in both of our lives, as we tried to gather the broken pieces, deal with our own hurts, confront our own weaknesses, and forgive one another, over and over again. It was not an easy process, but both of us tried and gave our best, and in the end, both of us triumphed. He died with peace in his heart, knowing that he has reconciled with the one person he has hurt the most.

My father was far from perfect. But looking back now, he managed to give me something precious, a unique gift that has sent my soul soaring – the discovery of who he really is and who I really am. He is divinely-connected to my destiny, a God-sent companion that taught me, not by words or examples, but by presenting himself as the instrument through which I could understand, what real healing and forgiveness is all about.

Belated Happy Father's Day!

Friday, June 6, 2008


The winter season is over and everything around me is literally “springing” back to life.

I hear the soft whistles of birds in their silvery voices, the heavy thumping of yard machines around the neighborhood, the shrill and excited laughter of children swimming in the pool nearby. I smell the delicious aroma of grilled barbecue interspersing with the warm smell of cut grasses and twigs and the fragrance of flowers that bloom everywhere.

The trees are standing proud teeming with life, displaying their grandeur to the onlookers, with their leaves in beautiful hues of green and yellow and purple. Tulips and daisies, carnations and dandelions continuously sprout here and there.

Only two months ago, all I saw around me were white, brown, grey and other shades in between. As if by magic, everything has been transformed to a world of different colors, almost like a paradise garden consisting of red, green, yellow, orange, pink and purple. Traces of snow have disappearedand winter has seemingly become an illusion. Until today, I still cannot believe my eyes.

Witnessing the changing seasons is truly an awesome experience for me. To most people who have grown used to it, they may see nothing special about it. But for me, it has touched the core of my being, leaving a powerful and lasting impression.

There is indeed a rythm in nature, just as there is a rythm in everything. With the changing of seasons unfolding before my very eyes, I am finding a place in my heart pulsating with the same rythm of nature - vibrant, constantly changing and yet remaining the same.

Today, I go through life in a time of rapid change and new adjustments where seconds, minutes and days seem to be merging into a loud crescendo. As I dance with the rythm, I find an incredible peace that subtly weaves the melodies and tunes of my own life into something much bigger. I can't explain what it is. I just feel it pulsating within me. And as I listen to it, I become acutely aware that I am part of a bigger rythm, a beautiful orchestra, a super symphony that connects me to the very source of it all. I know I cannot outlive this rythm, but it renders my life beautiful, punctuating my hours with a quiet call to live life to the fullest.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

True Joy

As a child, I remember how fascinated I was by the sight of snow. I dreamed of touching and playing in the snow and donning those fabulous winter attires I’ve only seen in pictures. The grandeur and beauty of white-capped mountains, veiled by a cotton-like fog against a sunny day, was like a billowing enchanted wonderland that was waiting for me.

When we moved to Canada this March, I finally set afoot into the "enchanted kingdom" in my mind. There was however no king or queen or princesses to welcome me. There was instead the terrible, bone-chilling cold and windchill that felt like a long and sharp kick all over my body followed by numbness. I felt like Cinderella, crying out for help from her fairy godmother, or more like Snowhite wishing for her prince charming to rescue her. Alas, there was not a fairy godmother nor a prince charming in sight.

And then something very beautiful and powerful - beyond words to describe- happened in the midst of it all. I saw the fulfillment of a childhood dream. No, I didn't dance or run or roll over the snow. It would take a lot of cajoling for me to do that. I'm talking about my daughters' dream even before we even thought of migrating, coming true.

At first, I was adamant when they said they wanted to go outside in the snow. The ever-protective mother that I am, I worried about them getting sick due to sudden exposure to the cold. Or catching the virus that lurked beneath those dirty snow-covered grounds. Or getting the winter itch which usually attacks newcomers. I had a host of reasons not to let them go out. But children are children who wouldn't easily give up. And so I threw away all my defenses into the air. And as they played in the snow - building caves and castles and making up their own stories about pirates, dinosaurs and all those childhood stufffs - as if they are playing in summertime, I felt a surge of joy slowly swelling through me. At first it was a tiny bit of joy, until it became bigger and bigger, setting my soul aglow.

Who was it who said that the true joy of motherhood is found in the joy of one's children? Hmmmm, it would be interesting to join them in their snow games and make-believe stories next winter....