Thursday, July 24, 2008


Part of my morning routine is to walk Danee to her summer school located around three blocks away from where we live. Hubby and Bianca are still very much asleep by this time, unwilling to trade off their pillows and blankets to a brief walk under the early morning sun. That is just fine, as this is is my moment to bond with my youngest daughter and to have brief time for solitude as I walk my way back home, alone, undisturbed.

On my way back today, I took a different route for a change. Having negotiated the same familiar pavement for the 9th time, I looked forward to a new path this time. Once in a while, it feels good to stray away, knowing that you will always find your way back. This was one morning that I felt different, and the prospect of getting lost but finding my way back somewhat thrilled me.

No sooner than I started traversing the pavement to my right was I led to a beautiful scenic place that had me repeatedly muttering “ohh and ahh!” What with a quiet small lake surrounded by lush of green where ducks and wild geese congregate, a beautiful park where colorful flowers abound, and a quiet and well-landscaped community with neat bungalows lining up the pavement - enough to take my breath away. Before long, I started to dream living in that community and enjoying every moment of it.

After an idle time at the park, I lazily inched my way back home, running a mental note of the many chores waiting for me. I was nearing the intersection of a busy traffic and had in fact stopped to pave the way for the rush of incoming vehicles when my heart suddenly froze. There in front of me, at the other side of the road, was a toddler running so fast towards the traffic, with only about a ten-meter distance between him and the edge of the road. Trailing behind him - about fifty meters away - was his mother with another toddler in tow, screaming, yelling at her child to stop running. The child, oblivious to the impending danger, seemed to be enjoying the “chase” game and henceforth continued running with all his might.

I was closer to the boy than the mother was but the endless surge of traffic prevented me from crossing the intersection right away. Time seemed to stand still as the distressed mother's cry echoed so loud in my ears. With the “go” signal still on, I instinctively braved the traffic with the hope that I could outrun the boy. I didn’t know how I did it but in the next moment, I saw the little boy making a 180 - degree-turn towards his mother, scared at the sight of me, a stranger, looming before him. The poor mother could only mutter “oh my God, oh my God" in between sobs as she held her precious boy in her arms.

On reflection, I was amazed at yet another powerful realization. It wasn’t an accident that I took a different path that morning, sat idly for five minutes at the park, reached the intersection at that precise moment in time. It wasn't ordinary that I felt differently that morning and took the unexplored path hoping to find something new. I did find something - an affirmation of a higher truth, at a different realm, about how perfect strangers are connected to each other in the overall scheme of things. The timing is perfect, not one second advance nor delayed. Another person may not be able to see the connection in those series of events. Someone up there orchestrated them to be so.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

From whence comes my help

Back in the Philippines, I used to have house helps who did most of the house chores, usually minding my children in my absence. I was able to effectively juggle family and work matters because of them. They made life so much easier.

Where we live now, house help is mostly unheard of. Gone were the days when we can stay glued to bed all morning without worrying about our breakfast. Or watch tv or read book all day without minding about the accumulated dust and mites. Or simply spend the entire day at the mall oblivious about the pending laundry.

Nonetheless, hubby and me were able to fashion an arrangement that conveniently meshed well with our new lifestyle. The one who is available must do all stuffs in a row – from laundering to washing the dishes to cleaning the floors. Capping these of course would be a good meal served hot upon arrival of the queen or king of the house, as the case maybe.

Happily, I recently discovered a great and effective way to ease our household burdens. It was there right under my nose, waiting to be tapped and utilized. I am talking about none other than my two dutiful daughters.

It was amazingly easy to get them to act on their feet – simply by asserting my authority over them. Now I hope I don’t sound like the Wicked Witch of the West or Hitler the Dictator. But given our family atmosphere, I knew this is the only way for me to get quick results. Of course, this wasn't easy for them, having been accustomed to the presence of nannies helping them in many ways before.

I started by setting clear and concrete expectations ripe for their age (like fixing the bed, folding the clothes, cleaning up, washing the dishes, cooking rice, setting the table, etc.), giving allowances for mistakes as a way of learning, reinforcing positive outcomes, and implementing consequences as needed. Rewards came in the form of heaps and heaps of affirmations, praise notes and love letters, extra allowances, favorite toy, extended tv or computer time, or anything that is viewed valuable by them. Consequences came in the form of grounding, withheld allowance or use of computers, not being able to watch their favorite show or additional workloads or anything viewed unpleasant by them. I had to resist the urge to do the tasks myself. I also had to be firm and consistent all the time and to really put on a good act of seriousness (the kind that says, I mean business, baby, so don’t test me) between procrastination, whining, promises to do it later, or outright tantrums.

After training them for about three months, my perseverance was worth it. They do their house assignments even without nagging from me and with little or no supervision. It had become a habit for them.

What is more important is that the payoff is way beyond helping me in completing the chores at hand. It’s about teaching my children the value of caring, consideration, flexibility, hardwork, teamwork and excellence even in the lowliest of tasks. It’s all about teaching them life skills that will prove valuable in their adult life.

Truly, the best lessons are first learned at home.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


I was doing an inventory test in relation to life's purpose, and one of the questions that made me do some deep soul-searching is this - how do you approach life?

It's a very tough question. For one, I particularly don't approach every situation in the same manner. Different strokes for dfferent folks, as the wisdom of the old says so. But I liked the question, because it enabled me to look deep inside and get in touch, once again, with the things that really matter in my life.

So here goes...

When I embraced my newfound faith, my perspective about life has changed tremendously. I now consider myself as a "realist optimist", believing that everything that comes my way, no matter how unpleasant, carries with it valuable life lessons through which I can grow and mature.

I realized that when I didn't learn the lesson in a particular situation, it kept repeating itself. Not necessarily the same situation but through different circumtances and different persons, but always the same lesson. For instance, I had great difficulty before in controlling my emotions when I get really pissed off. What happened is that I continued to be exposed to many situations that really stretched my patience. And so by being exposed to these situations, I learned what patience is all about.

The lessons were there because they were what I needed at that moment. Once I learned the lesson, life would then open up new opportunities through which I can learn more advanced lessons. Sometimes I learned easily, at other times I learned painfully. Or I didn't learn at all. When it's the latter, I kept moving around in endless circles.

I used to define my life in terms of milestones and significant accomplishments complete with timetables. I felt then that happiness is contingent upon these accomplishments, so I was deeply frustrated when things didn't happen as planned and expected. Now this perspective has changed too. I still consider it magical and exciting for me to get from point a to point b. But I also know that I will definitely miss the point if I don't see the day-to-day life in the same light. I found out that the beauty of life is found in the joys of the present moment, although my goals will provide me the compass how to live my life.

What is amazing is that my positive approach to life had become somewhat contagious. I never knew that I could make a great difference in the life of another when I encouraged them or simply said a word that boosts their spirits. I realized that when I am able to comfort somebody, I become happier. There's a song in my childhood that resonates with how I approach happiness and it goes this way:

"The time to be happy is now,
The place to be happy is here
And the way to be happy is to make others happy
and to make a little heaven down here"

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Why I Blog

Time is such a slippery thing. I cannot seem to get enough of it.

Where I am concerned, life is taking such a rapid pace. I now live in a different world, across several continents. I have given up a lot of things I used to have, in pursuit of a different direction. I am no longer the same person I was yesterday.

Yesterday’s memories have all been consigned to imagination. Today’s memories will similarly be buried into obscurity very soon.

Should l allow the present moment melt into yesterdays and tomorrows without a trace? Should I let the treasures, wonders and joys of my journey pass by without me pausing a bit to acknowledge them?

These were the questions in my heart when I discovered blogging. Instantly, I liked the idea of being able to capture in words what I felt at the moment. And then, I couldn’t stop anymore. It felt wonderful – the idea that I can actually conquer time, albeit momentarily, and hold it in my palm. It was deliriously joyful that I have something to go back to when I am old and done. That I can actually collect and preserve today’s memories so I can remember who I was before I became who I am today.

And then there was an added bonus. As I blogged and hopped between blogs, I discovered as well the joy of being able to reach out to kindred spirits, including my newfound on-line friends and those from the olden times.

They were right in saying that blogging allows for rediscovery and reconnections. Blogging has made the world a much smaller place for all of us. Their blogs have touched me in a way I could never imagine. I sat in front of my laptop smiling and sharing with their little joys and life’s pleasant surprises. At other times, I can’t stop the tears rolling down my cheeks as I feel their pains and inner turmoils. Talk about a true and beautiful connection!

Thursday, July 3, 2008


I am now into a crossroad in my personal journey. To find my footing, I only have two options – either to move to the left or to the right, or to move forward. Staying where I am is definitely not an option.

There are two paths to choose from - an instant career in retail (customer service) or a long struggle to make it in the human resource management field.

The first path is tested and easy, promising immediate reward and instant gratification. It welcomes me with open arms, and I revel in the warmth of the familiar routes, the quirky yet fun-filled zigzags, the all-familiar easy turns and overtakes. This path is my cup of tea, the language I speak, the game plan I have won many times over.

The second path is only half-open and a bit distant and unsure. None would take me in, and perhaps for good reasons. Canadians speak a different HR language which I can understand, but cannot fully relate with, having come from a country with HR challenges and issues culturally divergent to theirs. Bottomline – it’s all about meshing HR practices with western culture – something that I am not equipped to handle at this point.

But HR is my first love. Before I became a customer service professional, a retail banker, I was a trainer, a recruiter, a counselor, an employee champion, a change management specialist and how I really enjoyed the role. For sure, HR was a thankless job (a case of “damn if you do, damn if you don’t”) but I truly loved it! The love for HR work flowed through my veins and nerves, giving me a soft kick, a sweet tickle inside.

Which road to take? What do I do? Do I stay in my comfort zone and let life pass me by, or do I take the risks necessary to move forward in the direction of what I really want to do?

With my passion and desires awakened, I think I know what I want. The answer is within me all along, and the choice is mine to make. And so now, based on my internal compass, I am forging ahead to the next connecting path, the second path … that of exploration.

As I diverge from the other road of my comfort zone, I am also pulling off for a reality check – I’m weighing in everything, coming to terms with my greatest aspirations, deciding which to give up and to trade off, which cargo to unload and which equipment to pick up. I know I need to brush up my HR skills and competencies to make them compatible with western culture. And this means going back to school, obtaining a certificate and writing the national knowledge test. The message is clear - I need to prove myself first. I need to begin all over again.

Obviously, the second road is much harder to thread. My travel will not be easy. There will be humps and bumps, snagging me from time to time and even scratching at my newfound determination, tempting me not to let go of that last thether.

When that happens, I think I’ll know what to do. I just have to look inward and tap the resources within me as a worthy, inspired being. I’ll keep my inner eyes and ears open, ready to take action when I’m prompted to, as wisdom dictates. I just have to shore up my courage, and continue threading on. I'll take the necessary actions maybe right away, maybe one step at a time, until I see the big sign that says “welcome, to a life that is in synch with your soul”.