Saturday, December 20, 2008

As good as it gets

About two weeks ago, I received a call from a headhunting firm asking if I was interested to become a Recruiter for a company in Seskatchewan, Canada. While I was elated, I was also puzzled. Although I eagerly waited for an offer like this, I stepped back. It was just too good to be true. What was the headhunter's basis for considering me when I didn't even apply to their company?

During my phone conversation with the HR Manager, I was informed that she made a research in the Canadian HR industry, and my name cropped up on the list. The explanation was as simple as that. Canadian HR industry? The only Canadian HR experience I can boast of is my membership with the Human Resource Management Association of Manitoba which is nothing special really because anybody can become a member of this organization.

Of course, I politely declined the offer as it involved relocation which I wasn't prepared to undertake at this point.

Then another offer from another consulting company came. This time, I will be designing a sales training and performance management system for a marketing company. By that time, I was already in my 3rd week as HR Clerk for the government in a temporary role. I gave my word to the employer that I am going to finish my contract until March next year so again, I had to decline the offer.

Me receiving HR job offers and actually declining them? How could life change so suddenly? And to think that a few months ago, I was so despondent and hopeless because no company seemed to take notice of my HR resume. I shed buckets and buckets of tears then, seeing no light dawning upon my heart's desire. But determined to make it, I enrolled in HR courses. It was then that I was advised by the educational institution that the shortest way is for me to take the National Kowledge Test which I did last October 4. I dropped the HR courses and concentrated on reviewing for about 2 months.

Last December 10 (3 days after my birthday), the pieces of the puzzle finally fit together. It was a confirmation of the faith that I had within me all along. I made it to NKE with a score of 87% (passing grade is 70%). My score is the 7th highest in Manitoba and 12th in the entire Canada. Whoa - what a great bonus! what a wonderful birthday gift!

Having hurdled the exam, I can now use the title CHRP Candidate after my name. There is still another exam that I need to write after a minimum of three years experiece in the HR profession to become a full-pledged Certified Human Resource Practitioner.

My friends think it is not very smart for me to hold on to my temporary job given the opportunities that are coming my way. Truth to tell, I still feel inadequate about my ability to mesh in in the corporate set-up here. There is a lot to learn about the Canadian workplace culture and work ethic. The current job that I have, although temporary, gives me that perfect opportunity to learn something I could not find in textbooks. Thus, despite having made it to the NKE, I admit I am still very much a learner. There is wisdom in staying in my job so I can acquire the necessary experience which would hem up my confidence to work side-by-side with the Canadians.

More importantly, I don' want to leave my employer in mid-stream. They took me in when I was a nobody and they have treated me so well from day 1, giving me meaningful assignments and showing a great capacity for tolerance during my adjustment stage. It is only fitting that I return the favor. What comes around goes around.

But in the midst of it all, I acknowledge, with deepest gratitude in my heart, that this blessing is from God. I may have been very focused and determined in my goal but if His hands were not upon me, I would not have made it. This may sound cliche but for me, it rings true on all things and for all times.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Things That Matter

I just turned 41 last December 7. I woke up to hugs and kisses from my hubby, a serenade of my favorite songs from my daughters and love letters and a bouquet of roses waiting at the breakfast table. Later in the night, I had a quiet dinner with my family.

What more could a woman ask for? I was asked by friends about my birthday wish. I told them I have everything I wished for, and so my birthday prayer was actually a prayer of gratitude.

At 41, I find it interesting that I have taken one step closer to 50. But the feeling is no different when I was 21 or 31, which seems to lend credence to the saying that “age is only in the mind” I still have the passions and excitement and inclinations of a twenty- or thirty-something year-old. I feel life radiantly bursting in, through and around me. I feel that there is still so much to do but at the same time, time is slipping away.

As I think about the fact that I am now into the middle age, this also brings me to reflect upon the things that truly matter in this stage of my life. My values and my priorities in life have changed tremendously over the years. What seemed important before is not nearly as important to me today.

• I used to define success as being able to make it based on the standards of this world – a name, a position, a bank account. Success for me is now being happy in whatever I do – whether as a simple housewife or mother or a corporate employee. Rank, position and money maybe important, but they no longer define my worth as a human being.

• I must and continue to take responsibility for my own life. I consciously live my life with a purpose and meaning. I now seek to be more joyful than to be happy, because happiness is a function of circumstances while joy is a function of inner peace inspite of the circumstances.

• Family and real friends are most important than anything else in the world. In their deathbeds, people usually died wishing NOT that they have spent more time working, BUT that they have spent more time with their families and loved ones.

• My relationship with God is of chief importance to me. I make Him as a part of my daily life, even with mundane things. He walks with me and I walk with Him everyday, even if my walk is not always straight. I realize that I am utterly dependent upon him. My life is in the palm of His hands. Just one click of his fingers and I am gone. Everything I am and I have I owe to Him. In fact, I am nothing without Him.

Everyone has a journey - and a story of what their life is, and what it isn’t. I have danced around inevitable changes all my life, taking and missing some of the precious opportunities that have come my way. But I have no regrets. I have accepted my place and have revolved my life on truths and values that are fundamental to my sense of being.

As I continue to write my story, I want to seek a life that truly matters. I want to continue to ponder on life’s great surprises, to feed on my natural sense of awe and wonder for ordinary things with extra-ordinary meanings, to affirm who I am as a person and to live the fundamental truths that have given my life meaning.

For every birthday marker that I go through, I see the “grains of sand” running out of my hourglass. And I’m rushing to ensure that I won’t run out of time to accomplish what I believe are the things that truly matter.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

My Girl

My girl turns 12 today, and I couldn’t help but feel a little bit mushy.

Time flies, and how fast indeed! Twelve years ago, she was just a tiny fragile infant that I carefully held in the palm of my hands. The first time I held her – I was overwhelmed by a deep sense of joy I almost wept.

She was such a well-behaved baby. She didn’t make much fuss even with wet diapers or hunger bouts. She knew how to entertain herself, cooing and laughing when no one was around, as if talking to invisible angels. She’d only given me very few sleepless nights which are nothing really compared to the joy when she smiled sheepishly at me, snuggled close to my breast to take her milk, and cooed and squeaked no end in the middle of the night.

At two, she had an immense vocabulary, she spoke straight tagalog and English, she recognized the letters of the alphabet and mimicked the sounds of animals. More than anything else in the world, she was fascinated by books with colorful drawings and illustrations. She was also such a fan of “The Land Before Time” video series to the point of memorizing practically all the songs in the collection.

Coming home from the office one day, I was greeted by an awesome sight - a three-year- old walking around the house in an oversized- high-heeled shoes that belonged to her mom, with kitchen spoon in one hand and my office bag in another. At this young age, she was fast showing signs of fierce independence, allowing no one to spoonfeed her, or to bathe her or to dress her up. She wanted to do all things by herself. I kidded myself – she is indeed her mother’s girl!

When her little sister came into the scene, the bouts of jealousy or selfishness that we predicted never surfaced. Instead, she surprised us with the kind of genuine concern and caring that she showed her sister. When the little baby was crying, she would race with her dad to find out what the fuss is. At night, she would send her sister to sleep with a wonderful rendition of the songs from the “Land Before Time”, culminating in the infamous “If we hold on” that had become the family’s unofficial theme song to this day. I didn’t have to teach her to take care of her sister. It came naturally to her. Even today, she is her sister’s best friend.

I could go on and on recalling the wonderful surprises, the endless joys and the precious bonding moments that she had delighted us with. Today, as I look at her and marvel at how she has perpendicularly grown up over the years, I am awed at the realization that my baby has now become my girl. In a few years, I know that my girl will soon transform into her own person. Already, I could spot the signs of its coming.

As a pre-teener, she had been pretty consistent in her ways: non-fussy, self-initiated, caring and responsible. But I have also seen that although I have raised her in a certain “mold”, she is slowly escaping that mold. She is starting to assert her independence in everything she does. It is fascinating to see her unspoken determination to be her own person – free from the dictates and pressures of others, even from her mom who used to be the center of her world. It’s not her style to wear the fad just because it’s the “in” thing or everybody else is doing it if she thinks it looks silly. She has very different interests compared to girls of her age. While others talk about Hannah Montana and acne and crushes, she would rather read books about astronomy and science.

But she still continues to sing. And how she loves to sing. She’s also into a lot of musical instruments – piano, clarinet, guitar, violin. On her birthday, she requested for an electric guitar to replace her acoustic guitar. She’s currently saving her weekly allowance so she can buy drums this summer. She’s a member of her school band and music choir and is the guitarist in our local church. Music is her greatest passion, if not her life. Why – she wants to become a music director or music teacher as an adult.

She also excels academically. She is on top of her class and is a very strong candidate for the dean’s honour by the end of the term, as her teachers told me during our parent-teacher session last week.

What all these means to me is that I am raising a girl with extra-ordinary potential and passions. A girl who at a young age already knows what she wants in life.

I have read somewhere that raising a kid is like flying a kite. At the initial stage of flying, the kite owner must maintain a tight grip as the kite struggles up high. Upon establishing the momentum, the owner must help the kite maintain its balance. And as soon as the kite becomes stable, the owner must learn to let go, albeit gradually, and be contented to watch the kite in its full flying splendor from afar, but vigilant to come to the rescue in case of brewing storm.

At this stage of my girl’s life, I know that I have to correspondingly evolve from the overprotective and imposing mother that I used to be into a supportive, nurturing, and empowering mom that is exactly what she needs as she spreads up her wings. This, to me, is the greatest gift I could ever give her.