Monthly Archives: December 2013

Is Next Year Going To Be Better?

This is a question that you’ve been probably wondering. Even if you don’t want to expect anything next year, I’m sure there’s something deep inside of you that makes you hope. Besides, who wants to have a bad year anyway? Sometimes we don’t even want to expect anything so that we won’t get disappointed in the end. Among life’s numerous lessons to us is the fact that most of the time, we don’t get what we want. That isn’t really a depressing fact, it’s just… a fact. In the course of one year, a lot of things can happen. It won’t be always sunshine and rainbows and you can be sure it won’t be bad all the time. It’s just a matter of when these things will happen. It’s like one of those Keeping up with the Kardashians episodes wherein you’re not exactly sure what’s going to happen but there’s a 99.9% chance that Kim will bitch around. (Did I just use a KWTK analogy? And did I just an acronym of the show? Oh yes I did!)

In my research (basically pestering other people), I think a number of individuals can be categorized into the following subsets with regards to their approach to the following year:

a)   “2014 will absolutely be better! I know it! I’m filled with so much hope and excitement! Bring it on!”

b)   “I don’t really care. I’m just a go-with-the-flow type of person. Whatever happens, happens.”

c)    “I don’t want to expect anymore. If you don’t expect anything, you won’t get disappointed that much.”

d)   “Okay, I’m now X years old. I’m mature. I’m an adult. I don’t want to get my hopes up too high or too low either. I’m just going try to do my best and see how it goes. It’s just another year for crying out loud.”

e)   “Wait, it’s New Year’s already? I didn’t get the memo! Time flies so fast!”

These are logical, reasonable, and even normal, for anyone. I’ve been pondering this question on how do we become assured that the following year will be better than the last. Is it the fact that last year sucked so bad that the next one couldn’t be any worse? Or is it the other way around wherein 2013 was so good to be true that you’re afraid that 2014 will be the exact opposite? Do we go with the psychologist Francis Galton and factor in here the whole “nature vs nurture” thing? Do you solely rely on your own abilities on how you can make next year better or will fate play a much bigger role? We not only don’t know what’s going to happen around us, but we also aren’t sure on how we’ll react when certain things happen.

Ergo I came up with a little theory on a person’s character and the bricks that life throw at you:

If you are younger than 22 years old: Certain situations help you build your character

If you are older than 22 years old: Certain situations reveal your character

See the difference? When you get old enough, things that life throw at you will show who you really are. You’ll either be a Kobe Bryant who’ll persevere through victory and especially in defeat or be a Lamar Odom and cover yourself up with defense mechanisms and drugs that your wife Khloe will leave you and you won’t be on a reality show in the next hundred years. (Yes, I just placed an NBA analogy together with a Kardashian. Someone shoot me now.)

That being said, by the time you’re an adult, circumstances make you realize the different sides of your personality. So for next year, I’m about to try something different. Well actually, this isn’t necessarily new; I just didn’t have the follow through to have the mind set for the entire year in the past. I’m not sure how to explain it. I even think it falls under one of the aforementioned categories of people above. In any case, I’d like to share a song here by Kendall Payne. Kendall is a Christian singer but her songs are actually used in the hit TV series Grey’s Anatomy. Take a close look on the words of the song. I actually came across this when she sang for Cornerstone Church in California. If you want to listen to the song, you can just search it on YouTube. (Before she sang, Kendall shared a story about Mother Teresa, inspiring me to write my blog entry, “Are You Sure Where You’re Going?”)

 Pray by Kendall Payne

I will pray for you now, for you have been my faithful friends
While the road we walk is difficult indeed
I couldn’t not ask for more than what you’ve already been
Only that you would say these prayers for me


May your heart break enough that compassion enters in
May your strength all be spent upon the weak
All the castles and crowns you build and place upon your head
May they all fall, come crashing down around your feet
May you find every step to be harder than the last
So your character grows greater each stride
May your company be of human insignificance
May your weakness be your only source of pride


What you do unto others may it all be done to you
May you meet the One who made us
And see Him smile when life is through

May your blessings be many but not what you hoped they’d be
And when you look upon the broken
May mercy show you what you could not see
May you never be sure of any plans you desire
But you’d learn to trust the plan He has for you
May your passions be tried and tested in the holy fire
May you fight with all your life for what is true


I have prayed for you now all my dear and faithful friends
But what I wish is more than I could ever speak
As the way wanders on I’ll long to see you once again
Until then, would you pray these prayers for me?
Oh, that you would pray for me

Take a second and read the lyrics again.

I know right? There’s so much power and truth in the entire song. So, who cares if next year will be better or not? There’s a temptation that when we pray for ourselves or even for others is that we can hinder the things that God wants to experience for us. You understand what I mean right? I strongly believe that this will probably the hardest (and scariest) prayer you will ever pray. I mean, if you think about it, who asks for this stuff? I hope my heart breaks enough so that compassion enters in or may my blessings be many but not what I hoped they’d be? I’m not saying that you should pray that you’ll go broke or anything like that. Instead of just praying for circumstances to change, ask God to have a change of heart. It’s difficult, but I’m sure it’ll build character. It’s seems impossible, but of all the things you’ve been through, doesn’t this sound more hopeful than anything else? It’s uncommon, but in a world wherein everybody goes for something popular, this may be the most reasonable thing one can do. It sounds weird if you pray it, but I’m sure God will listen.

In the coming year, let whatever it is that suppose to happen, happen. Fall in love or fall out of love. Stay in your job or find another one. Accomplish your New Year’s resolution or fail. Get married and settle down or stay single. Forgive those who’ve wronged you or cower in hurt. Go on an adventure or realize that you’re already in an adventure now. They say life’s a journey, well because it’s true! Maybe you’re not over with a break up you had this year and frankly next year you might be still doing the same thing in trying to get over that someone. Maybe it’s a two-year journey not one. You have to welcome these things with open arms. But not in an arrogant way wherein you say “Bring it on 2014!” Oh yeah, what if 2014 strikes back and you’re not ready? As Rocky Balboa said, “it’s not how hard you hit; it’s how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.”

Hopefully I’ll keep this attitude for the rest of the year. As I pray for myself, I pray for these things for you too. Is next year going to be better? Let’s check up on each other as the year progresses. Happy New Year everyone!

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How Do You Make New Year’s Resolutions Work?

In my previous entry, I explained that accomplishing a New Year’s resolution is indeed possible. There are ways and tips to help you through a long and unpredictable year. Below are some of those random tidbits to aid your cause or in any case, something to think or smile about.

1.    Set realistic goals –

First off, don’t get ahead of yourself. Make simple and rational resolutions that you think you can actually pull through an entire year. This seems a fairly common sense type of advice but you really ought to look at it more seriously.

Imagine you had a friend named Bobby. Now Bobby wants to trim down for 2014. Seems like a normal and healthy goal for the year ahead. So how realistic should his target weight be? Should Bobby try to lose 90 pounds in 12 months or is it more reasonable for him to try to lose just 10 pounds every 2 months? For huge life changing resolutions, Bobby can simply take baby steps to attain his goal to lose weight.

2.    Don’t get into situations to be tempted –

From my previous entry, I gave an example of how distractions can deviate you from your goal. These distractions can come from friends, relatives, or even your own husband/wife. Sometimes we get into situations wherein we can’t help but join in. Peer pressure was evident in our youth, but I believe there are still forms of pressure from our environment even as we get older. Let’s say your goal for the year is to cut down on your drinking. That being said, maybe you shouldn’t go to bars or clubs for a little while. You can’t go out on a Friday night with your friends and kid yourself by saying “Oh, I’m just going to drink iced tea tonight.” I say don’t go out at all if you think the temptation is too much. Get away from distractions and anything that will allow you to be tempted. Stay home for the night or go watch a movie.

Do not go testing yourself either. You may have a strong will but don’t punish yourself by getting into situations where you have to question it. That’s silly. It’s like handing your enemy the gun and mock him by saying “Come on, hit me!”

3.    It’s a constant decision –

A New Year’s resolution is a constant decision that you have to make all throughout the year and not just on January 1st. It’s a decision that you have to make again and again if you really want your year to be a different.

A concrete example are people who flock to the gym by the first week of January and not see them again by February. It’s an on going commitment between you and your resolution.

I remember the movie, Keeping the Faith, wherein Edwin Norton who played a priest, was pressed with a dilemma of falling in love with his childhood friend and drop all his priestly vows or to stop with the nonsense and remain a priest. He confronted his senior and asked for advice on what he should do. The elderly priest said that being a priest is a commitment that you have to make again and again, and not just when you decided to follow this career.

Okay, maybe the priest example is a bit too extreme but you get the point.

4.    A vice is a vice –

Another piece of advice is to realize what kind of resolution you’re dealing with. Let’s go back to Bobby for a second and think about his goal to lose weight. It’s healthy, positive, and something he can really pursue. It’s not smoking, drinking, or even drugs. However, I think it’s a different ballgame when you’re dealing with an addiction or even a “sickness that you have.” Convincing yourself to quit smoking is very different to try to lose weight. There are not only the distractions from external factors, but it takes a whole deal of your internal demons.

You can’t just flip the switch and all of a sudden stop inhaling all sorts of things into your lungs (well technically you can stop immediately) but it’s different from losing weight or trying to be more charitable next year or spending more time with your family. There are some people who can do a cold turkey but 8 out of 10 times it’s really difficult. You’re dealing with a vice and more often than not, vices can consume you. Maybe you need a different approach that involves more people around you.

5.    Make room for adjusting your resolution –

Though time is relatively fast, a year can be long. A lot of things can happen that can either hinder or help you towards your goal and you have to give yourself for changes along the way. For instance, a common New Year’s resolution is to travel to a different place. The possibilities are endless for travel lovers that can go from Japan, Cambodia, Australia, Europe, and more. But what if it’s already September and you find yourself short on budget? Maybe it’s time to cut down and try for a local trip. You’ll still travel to a new place and who knows, maybe it’s the adventure you’re looking for.

6.    Don’t put too much pressure on yourself –

New Year’s resolutions deal with the concept of “me” and how the “me” can accomplish set goals. It is through the person’s determination and perseverance that he or she is able to achieve the promises that were made. However what if you don’t get to do what you set out to do at the beginning of the year? What if you didn’t get to save money and you’re still in debt? What if you didn’t spend more time with your family than you should have had?

Resolutions are made to have a better version of you after a year. Even though there is a possibility of you not getting them done, think of it as a journey that you’re pursuing. Maybe Bobby will lose just twenty pounds, or maybe instead of smoking one pack a day you’ll end just consuming half a pack, or maybe you won’t get to travel at all next year but you spent more time with your family. These little victories are still victories. Resolutions, big or small, take time. Maybe it will take a year or two, but keep pursuing them. You will learn, you will grow, and you will change.

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Do New Year’s Resolutions Really Work?

More than anything, a New Year brings hope to everyone. Whether you had a good year or a bad year, there’s so much anticipation of what the next year will bring. You don’t know what’s going to happen and that’s exactly the reason why it’s so exciting.

Along with hope is the concept of having New Year’s resolutions every year. These are promises, ambitions, and maybe even dreams we aspire as we look forward into the coming year. But do these self-made proclamations really work? If so, how do they work? On the other hand, if not, then why do people still cling to a hope? As you get older, you slowly realize that things don’t turn out quite the way you planned it. I believe that a lot of these plans begin at the start of every new year. So, do these resolutions really work? Well, yes and no.

YES

New Year’s Resolutions come in all shapes and sizes – losing weight, quitting cigarettes or alcohol, starting a new hobby, traveling to a foreign country, reading 50 books, and so on. I honestly believe that there are people out there who are really good in setting out goals for the year and actually achieving them. They have the dedication and the sheer will power to pursue what their set their mind to. I’m not just talking about the Michael Jordans or the Warren Buffets or the people you can find in Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers. I’m pertaining to more personal experiences like your boss who said that finally he won’t be late ever again, your younger sister who really saved money for a year, your boyfriend who said he won’t cheat anymore, or even yourself when you said you were going to read more books than watch movies this year. These acts take a lot of sacrifice and hard work (though maybe not the boyfriend cheating part because that’s pretty much a given).

If you really think about it though, achieving a New Year’s resolution shouldn’t be all that difficult. You set it, work hard for a year, and then reap the benefits. It’s supposed to be easy as one two three. And that’s why we see people change over a course of a year. We see a 200 pound friend slim down to size 30 waistline in just a couple of months. It didn’t happen overnight. It probably took a lot of sacrifice to not get that extra steak during his mom’s birthday party.

It’s truly possible and we’ve all seen it.

NO

At the other end of the spectrum, we also realize that, well, it’s pretty damn hard to set a year goal and actually see the results twelve months after. A whole year is pretty long if you think about it. A lot can change in your day-to-day schedule and we can forget the goal we’ve set at the beginning of the year. You may not notice it, but a year can fly by as quickly as the last one. It’s like you blink even for just a second and you wake up and realize you’ve just had a 3-hour nap. Old people say that life is fast and they’re exactly right. It just breezes past you. The moment you take a break from your goal, you might lose sight of it. This is also the reason why there are people who have the same New Resolution they had the previous year(s).

Aside from your own laziness and blindness, there are also distractions during the year. Take for example a friend of mine a year ago when he said he won’t eat McDonald’s for a whole year. Sounds great right? You know what I did? The next day I told him I’ll treat him to a burger and fries. Boom. Resolution over within two days. Sounds evil I know, but hey, I wanted to test the guy.

In most cases, I think people put a lot of pressure on the whole concept of doing a New Year’s resolution especially when they’re going to change a huge part of their life. Saying “Next year I won’t smoke anymore” will be such a big transition in your life that you bet on just because the numbers switched from 2013 into 2014. We all know it doesn’t work like that. It’s not a light switch you can just flick on or off. It takes time and a whole lot of effort.

The answer to “Do New Year’s Resolutions really work?” is in fact yes or no to various people. There are those who achieve success in the end and there are those who feel disappointed. On my next post, I’ll give a couple of tips on how to achieve a New Year’s resolution. They are just random tidbits to help people get through the year. Hope you keep reading!

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What Makes Your Christmas Special?

Everyone wants to have a perfect Christmas – perfect presents, perfect dinner, and perfect little family. It’s natural and it’s even human nature. Even though there are a few imperfections here in there, people just want to make the season extra special. Our wanting to have a certain kind of Christmas makes the season personal and something we can call our own so that by the end of the day we can say “Yeah, I had a great Christmas, how about you?”

Christmas is subjective as much as it is objective. Though it is a season commonly celebrated by everyone, each individual has his or her own wish lists every Christmas. Everyone wants a family to spend time with, parties to go to, dinners to attend, and presents to open, and so on and so forth. But we all know that each year, there’s a possibility that each Christmas will be different. Maybe your brother won’t be home this year, maybe your dad got a Christmas bonus, maybe you finally get one of those ipad things, and the possibilities go on. They may be good things or they may be bad as something like a relative passing away this year.

What’s inside of us that make us want to make Christmas so special? Or is it the other way around wherein what’s with Christmas that makes us seem obliged to make it perfect? Somehow the season has a voice of its own and makes a people a little bit merrier than normal. Words like forgiveness, giving, care, and love are often forgotten not until the month strikes December.

Do you think people act a certain way just because it’s Christmas? You’ve heard the phrase, “people do crazy things when they’re in love,” but I bet it can also be applied in Christmas! People do things out of the ordinary during this season. You see businessmen donating money to charities, people volunteering in homeless shelters, families reunited, friend forgiving friend, and more. Not to take anything away from any of these activities, but somehow they just seem more common in Christmas. Maybe it’s the season, maybe it’s us, or maybe it’s both.

In any case, it’s your life and it’s essentially your Christmas. Maybe this year is special but then again maybe it’s not. Maybe everything seems perfect but then again maybe it’s just another ordinary time. The season is special in its own right and the time now you spend with the people who care for you is special. Whatever situation you’re in, don’t take it personally. Besides, it’s not your birthday anyway.

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How Do You Wash Your Hands?

 

Vertical-Wash-Hands-Sign-S-4868-217x300

“How do you wash your hands?” he asked me.

I reply, “Um, like a normal person. I just wash them like a regular guy.”

The other day I had a meeting with a few people who wanted me to write for them. After the meeting, I wandered in the mall for an hour or so because I had to wait for a friend of mine who I was meeting up with. I was headed towards the ATM machine when a guy comes over and gives me a pamphlet. You know, those things that sales people give when they’re selling a car or a condominium. This guy however was selling skin products.

I had time to spare so I indulge him in his sales making skills. His product comprised of material from the Dead Sea. If you didn’t know, water or material from the Dead Sea makes your skin healthier. It’s the composition and the sheer amount of salt that makes the place and its products famous.

Before anything else, he introduced himself as Jericho (coincidentally the name of his product is “Jericho.” Maybe he’s the owner? I didn’t bother to ask). He was a thin and tall man and looked healthy as the products he was trying to sell. He was a foreigner, not from anywhere in the Philippines, and he talked like a foreigner too. Think of a Saturday Night Live sketch with a cast member playing an Israeli and you can imagine the accent. True enough, he explains that he hailed from Israel thus his products were from Israel themselves. We had about a 30-second small talk conversation about how old I am and where I lived and all that stuff.

He went on to demonstrating me how his products work. He took this container which had looked like tiny pink crystals.

“Give me your hand sir.”

I willingly obliged.

“Now scrub your hands like what would you do with soap.”

The “crystals” felt a bit strange, like scrubbing sand all over the hands. He sprayed water over as I was cleaning. He explained a bunch of stuff with regards to its benefits, but to be honest I was too concerned with the scrubby feeling in my hands then listening to him.

Afterwards, he showed the bowl in which I cleaned my hands and there was liquid into it. I thought this was obviously the water he sprayed. He explained however, that this was the oil that’s left in our hands. Oil? Much like our faces, our bodies including our hands have a lot of dirt and oil into them that we barely notice. This Dead Sea pink stuff is used to eliminate all the dirt, oil, and unwanted bacteria.

After the pink crystal stuff, it was on to the lotion and nail cleaner. If I was a girl, this ought to be similar to a day at the salon! Okay, I’m kidding. The lotion he used on me looked any other lotion at first. He placed some gooey stuff on my left arm while placing a regular lotion on my right. He took a towel and said, “My friend, don’t scream.”

Don’t scream? What the heck is this going to do? Is this going to burn my skin?

He continues, “promise me don’t scream my friend.”

“I um, okay?” I replied hesitantly.

He scraped off the lotion and to my surprise the results were amazing! The regular lotion felt like… well, regular and ordinary while his lotion felt incredibly smooth. It wasn’t the type of smooth wherein it’ll only last a couple of minutes just like a regular lotion but it was uniquely different. I was smiling stupidly when he said “See? It’s good no? I told you don’t scream.”

Again, I’m a guy so I don’t really know if there are current lotions out their on the market that are also unique in their own way. He told me that this is perfect for women and even men can use lotions and scrubs. Especially in the arms and the elbow he says for these are the ones that need tending. In my mind I agreed because I remember my ex girlfriend giving me lotion to make my skin smoother but also specifically for the skin on my elbows. At this point, his production presentation was pretty spot-on.

For his last product, Jericho asked me to give him my fingernails. He took my thumb and he started brushing on it. I thought it was some sort of nailbrush but after a few seconds he returned my thumb and lo and behold, my fingernail was shining. It was shining as if I just had a manicure. It was so clean and sparkling that I had to smile. This wasn’t like a manicure he told me. He took a bottle of nail polish remover and applied it to my sparkling nail and it didn’t disappear!

At the end of it all, he told me the price and said he has a special package just for me. Of course I knew that this was just a selling technique and he probably said this “special price” every time he gets a hold of a potential customer.

“My friend I’m sorry. I love your stuff but I just don’t have the money.” I sadly had to turn him down because it was a bit too expensive for my liking. So I took my freshly cleaned hands and arms, together with my shining thumb, and set off.

When I finally met up with my friend. I immediately told her this story and even showed my shining fingernail.

“Pretty cool right?” I asked her

“Yeah, that’s nice.” She said.

She did sound impressed with the whole story about the stuff that came from Israel’s Dead Sea but when I really thought about it, who really cares? Haha. I’m just a regular joe cleaning my hands with good old fashioned soap and water. If what you have is something that you needed to show another person, then it’s not really worth showing at all unless they notice it themselves. Who has time to look at your hands anyways? All I have now is a shining thumb. In the end I’m just a regular guy washing his hands in a regular way and I could care less.

 

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How Do You Measure A Year?

As 2013 is coming to a close, every person has probably already started to look back at the year that has gone. It is human nature to always stop and think if the year that you’ve been through is essentially good or bad. But how exactly do you reflect on the past year? A single year can contain multiple memories of happiness, regret, peace, loss, heartache, or love.

Do you measure… through Success?

This year may have been a good year for you professionally. You might have gotten promoted or you finally got the dream job you’ve always wanted. We all know how difficult it is to find your place in the world let alone a career that you can truly pursue. Through dedication and hardwork, this year may have been the one that made things click.

On the other hand, maybe you’re just in the middle of the journey, finding your niche in a career that you can call your own. In whatever point you are in your professional life, a year is a long time to gauge whether or not it has been a good one for you.

Do you measure… in Moments?

Normally, when people reflect about this year, they remember them in moments – the overwhelming feeling of excitement at the beginning of the year, the valentines date that had gone so perfectly, the summer trip you and your friends had, your memorable birthday that marked another milestone in your life, that difficult event you had for work that took away so many hours of your life, the feeling of losing someone you love dearly, the Christmas you spent with your family, and many more.

Reflecting on something, especially as long as a year, come in moments; moments of impact that changed the course of the year whether you notice them or not. They can be brief or even a long period of time, but be it as they may, these are the flashes in your memory that light up when you look back. You probably don’t remember what happened on a specific date, but you do remember what you did and the experiences that you felt. Good or bad experiences, these moments in a year are precious, momentous, and unforgettable.

Do you measure… in Love?

Do you know the song Seasons of Love from the Broadway Musical rent? “Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes – how do you measure a year in the life? How about love?” Yeah that song. It makes perfect sense right? Well, how do you measure in love? Do you measure the love that came your way through a boyfriend/girlfriend or husband/wife or a birth of a child? Do you measure the love of your family and the growth you experience with each of your siblings or parents? Do we also measure through the friendships with other people that have been forged in the course of twelve months? On the other hand, did you experience the loss of a love this year? Do you measure your breakup or losing someone in death?

We measure in love – how much we have loved and how we are loved in return. We love when we are happy and fulfilled, and we also extend that love especially when we’ve been hurt or lost.

As the year comes to a close, measure the love that you experienced in the past and the love that envelops you now. Remember the people who loves or have loved you and the people you love yourself. Though love can be intangible and even immeasurable, we always choose to love because it is worthwhile. Hopefully, by the end of the year, you and I can say that we have loved and have been loved by others.

 

 

Of course, you can measure your year whatever you like – success, moments, love, or any other thing. It is your year. In looking back to a long year, you not only relive the memorable moments that you’ve experienced, but you also assess the person you are now. You look back to the instances that shape this exact moment in time. You look at yourself physically, emotionally, and spiritually and try to measure how far you’ve gone compared to twelve months ago. In the end, you’re the only person who can measure your year so measure it with an open mind a patient heart.

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What Are You Willing To Give Up?

The giving of donations when tragedies strike mirrors who we are as Christians and what we are willing to give to others. Jesus did say that whatever you do for the poor, you also do it for Him.

However, it’s easy to give up things we don’t really need. We can give our old clothes, extra food, or even extra money. It’s unchallenging to give when we have more. Well, what if God did ask you just that? It’s one thing to say, “Lord, I offer my life” and we all know it is another thing to live it out. It’s difficult because we have our own wants and desires that we keep for ourselves.

Maybe it’s a sin that you’ve been carrying, a past hurt, an addiction, or maybe you haven’t forgiven those who have wronged you and that’s what’s keeping you from pursuing Christ. I’ll go even a step further and maybe it’s your money, your job, church ministry, or even your family. Whatever it is that we put first before Christ is a form of idolatry and we have to be willing to give those things up. I’m not saying God will take away your job or anything like that, but from that begs the question of – if God will take away the one thing you love the most, will your relationship with Him stay the same? Let’s say your marriage falls apart or you get bankrupt, is the love of Christ still your security? Remember Abraham when God asked him to give up his son? Are you willing to do the same?

The victims of the recent typhoon had to answer all these questions. God literally took everything away from them. We have to understand God can do anything He wants. And with that, we put everything on His feet and trust Him with all our hearts. Maybe in the course of life, you can really say that you’ve given up everything for Christ.

 

*This post is what I wrote for our Church’s bulletin, Word Circular for the December-January issue. I also wrote another article “What Can Ordinary People Do?” but it’s just a shorter version of one of my previous works here with the same title. Thanks to Kyleen for letting me write and to print not one but two of my works!

 

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What’s In A Dream? (Part 2)

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I told myself the other night that if I had another weird dream I’d write about it. I’ve been having more strange dreams the past few nights but the last one was so real that it took me a few moments to realize that it was only a dream.

I was talking to a dear friend of mine whom I haven’t talked to for quite sometime. I don’t want to explicitly tell here what we were talking about but it was about picking up right where we left off the last time we spoke. It was fun, heartwarming, and with a hint of nostalgia like putting a cherry on top of a good ice cream. It felt so real to me in my thoughts unlike all other dreams I had recently wherein I knew that a dream was happening. Sometimes you just know when you’re dreaming right? It’s like you can think for your own while the dream is actually happening. This was different because I was engrossed in our conversation like the person was speaking to me in both heart and mind.

The clincher of the whole thing was the feeling I had when I eventually woke up. Like I said, it felt so real that when it stopped it took me a few seconds to collect myself and realize it was only a dream. The first thing that crossed my mind was “Damn it was only a dream?!” I wanted to give a massive F you to the dream gods because it played so much with my emotions.

Dreams are unfair because sometimes you can control what’s happening but on other times you just tag along for the ride. Things just make sense while you’re dreaming; though when you really thinking about it when you wake up, that made no sense at all. You can be dreaming about your old highschool which is now situated at a top of a hill in the dream and think that makes perfect sense but when you stop and think, why the heck is my highschool on top of a hill with a big old church right beside it? You have no control with what’s happening, you just accept it the way it is while you’re dreaming. Dreams permits the unconscious to wander around the thoughts or desires you may have that you don’t know while you’re conscious. You’re vulnerable to its traps and can let you feel what you don’t want to feel.

I felt angry and uneasy when I woke up not only because I thought it was real, but also because my conversation with my friend didn’t actually happen. In a way the dream sort of made sense because I haven’t talked to her for what seemed like a very long time and maybe the dream was telling me something. I also know that now that I am awake, I can’t just go ahead and talk to that person. It’s weird if I just randomly message her out of the blue. There are some friends you can tell random stuff, but you and I both know that there are others who will find it weird and maybe even intrusive if you tell them about it. Somehow there are restrictions that people build between them and that’s where I find the conflict. My unconscious probably wants to talk to her but my awake and conscious self prevents it because it’s not that simple. It felt perfect and right in the dream, but wrong and conflicting now that I’m awake.

If I have another weird and uncontrollable dream in the next few days, maybe I’ll look for a psychiatrist or something. Or maybe just write about it. This is one of those pending questions that will haunt me for the rest of my life.

 

What’s In A Dream (Part 1) can be found here – https://pendingquestions.wordpress.com/2013/11/07/whats-in-a-dream/

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What If Christmas Time Isn’t Actually… Christmas Time?

Let me start off by asking, did you know that Christmas isn’t technically supposed to be celebrated in December? If you go back to the history of how the whole tradition of Christmas began, the birthday of Jesus is not December. In reality it was supposedly during the middle of the year. I’m not sure which month exactly but it was maybe between May and August. I believe it was the Roman Catholic Church who moved the date so that it would fit better in the Christian calendar or so that it signified the end of the winter solstice. I’m not exactly sure of the history of this and you can go ahead and research for yourself but it’s kind of interesting don’t you think? It’s celebrating someone’s birthday on a totally different date.

Can you imagine if we decided to have Christmas on July 25 for example? That would be so weird. That would go against everything we thought of for Christmas. Everyone has their own thing when deciding it’s actually Christmas – when the kids start singing carols, when you hear that famous jingle on your car, or when the decors are up in your house, and the list goes on. Every little that makes a Christmas special has to be set up at just the perfect time. Now if we have it in the middle of the year, I can’t even begin to imagine what would happen. If you’re American or living somewhere where it snows and you celebrate Christmas when it’s not snowing, then that would look really weird.

Another strange idea that popped into my head is what if we have two Christmases in a year? That wouldn’t work right? Try Christmas shopping twice in a year. I also don’t believe offices will spend two bonuses in a span of a couple of months. Plus, the season wouldn’t feel that special anymore.

You know what else is crazy? I have to admit that my family doesn’t recognize Christmas in December. Now how does that work you may ask. Well, no gifts, no decors, no Christmas lights, no Noche Buena (a Spanish tradition wherein a midnight meal takes place every Christmas eve, no nothing. I mean of course my parents still give gifts to their offices and stuff like that to make them seem normal and we do have a mini reunion with my mother’s side on Christmas day, but other than that, that’s it. No presents on Christmas day yo! Now we weren’t always like this but one day my mom just went to my room and frankly said we’re not having a Christmas tree this year because of so and so. I’ll go Freudian with this one because I was maybe a teenager at that time and that was like an arrow to the heart and that sting bugs me till now. I guess now that I’m older I kind of get her point, but still, I’m a bit disheartened with a tradition that I know means something. More than the carols, the decors, and the presents, it truly is a season of giving and spending time with each other and that’s what I miss the most.

I don’t want to sound too depressing, but like always, I’m just here pondering the questions for people and ask what if their favorite time of the year is not in the right time of the year. It’s something to think about. Maybe it’s as simple as “thank goodness there’s only one Christmas because of the shopping” or as deep as “I’m grateful we only have it once a year because that’s what makes it special.” Besides I shouldn’t feel all that bad to it because it isn’t my birthday anyway. In any case, have a wonderful December. As for me, I’ll be okay alone with a couple of beers on Christmas eve. 😉

 

 

 

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What Are Cheap Presents You Can Give This Christmas?

It is that time of the year again dear friends when we get excited for the month of December because of Christmas. There are many facets of this season that makes us joyful and thankful for the year that has gone and most importantly for the people we love most. One thing I’d like to focus on is the whole idea of gift giving and the inevitable Christmas shopping. Whether it’s for your family, boyfriend/girlfriend, officemate or whoever it is, it’s that time to empty our wallets and head to the mall.

Every year, it amuses me when I see friends and workmates get so excited with the money they’ll get for Christmas and then become slightly sad all of a sudden because they spent it all. I’d say slightly sad because there is a cheerful feeling whenever you give someone a present. But still, the money you worked so hard for can simply fly by you in a blink of an eye.

With the money being an important issue, I thought of ways how to lessen the cost of your Christmas shopping this year but still give tons of presents to your love ones. Here are a couple of my suggestions:

1)   Do-it-yourself presents

This is when you can be creative. Get your bond paper, colored markers, paintbrushes, glue, and all that and just make stuff up. I would say this is perfect for kids (or people you think it’s okay to give them a mini Art Attack). You have to be careful with “kids” though because it’s in their nature to be materialistic and if they say they want a Barbie doll, you have to get a Barbie doll. Trust me, you don’t want to mess little girls and their Barbie dolls. Don’t give them like a painting or anything (though Meg gave me one awhile back which was cool because it was really good) but for kids I think it’s something that they can play with. It can be an origami and you can have fun by teaching him/her how to do one. See, it’s simple fun, plus doesn’t require an app on your phone.

2)   Downloaded music or movies

Another cheap thing you can do is to make a modern day “mix tape.” You know how people back then use to give mix tapes to their girls containing love songs and stuff like that? Well, I wouldn’t 100% percent recommend this now but there’s still some level of sweetness into this.

This isn’t restricted to couples however. Euge used to give my classmates and I CDs that contained random songs that reflected our personalities. He would select songs that he thought we would like. Pretty thoughtful don’t you think?

In this day and age when you can just download pretty much anything online, you have a wide range of music and movies you can give. If you know that your friend’s favorite movie is “The Royal Tenenbaums” then you can give him/her that movie.

3)   Letters

This is probably as cheap as you can get. Get a pen and a piece of paper and just write stuff. Though seems ultimately low cost, there’s a big sense of sincerity into it, because well, it is still a letter. Somehow, there’s just more things you can say with a letter than with a material present. The good thing with letters is that you can give it to anyone: your five-year old nephew, your grandfather, old classmate, and more.

I’ll tell you this though: a letter has more chance getting remembered years after than let’s say a t shirt or something.

4)   Time

Now I know what you’re thinking; giving time this Christmas is common sense. Of course we have to spend time with our friends and loved ones. However, I hope you’ve realized as much me that dividing your time proves to be difficult. There’s your family, friends, workmates, old barkadas, and the list goes on. It’s like one Christmas party after the other.

Time is truly important because I know that there are a few people in your life that you only get to see during Christmas time. It’s an annual thing and people just try harder to see each other every December. Time is a precious gift, let’s not forget about that.

Of course if you’re really rich you can forget about all the things I’ve said and just buy stuff. Then again, you can always choose the ones you’re going to give a new pair of shoes or a letter. That’s the beauty of giving; you get to decide what to give. In the end, the other person will always appreciate what you give. As cliché goes, “it’s the thought that counts.”

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