Showing posts with label Philosophy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Philosophy. Show all posts

Friday, February 14, 2014

Birth and Death

The past two weeks went by in a blur. Everything around me seemed to be spinning, and I was a mute follower who would automatically function to survive another day. 

On Monday, February 3, 2014, at exactly 10:16 in the morning, I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. 

We named him Khaleid Immanuel. I delivered him via an emergency caesarian section. (Not through VBAC, as everyone had hoped. More on that when I regain my sanity and when I find the time.) Aside from the failed VBAC despite eight excruciating hours of labor, my delivery had been uneventful. Khaleid was born a healthy baby. I was up and about sooner. And my recovery was surprisingly fast and easy. Perhaps, it was to prepare me for the things to come.

The following day, my hunch had been confirmed. I always felt that something was terribly wrong with the health condition of my Nanang. I knew it was coming, her death.  In fact, while I was on the operating table, I was praying that her death wouldn't be too near my delivery date so that I would have time to recuperate and go home to her. I was hoping that she could wait for me, for us, a little longer. But she was probably too tired. On the morning of February 4, 2014, a day after I had given birth, I received the news that Nanang passed away.

I was trying to sleep after I had breastfed Khaleid when I heard my husband received a call from Nanay. It was the usual updating of what our day had been about, when I heard Kristan said that I was sleeping, then he stepped out of the room and continued with the conversation outside. I knew that was it. When he returned after what seemed like forever, I was sitting already. I just asked him to tell me when. He knew I was aware of what's happening. I could feel it from the deafening silence of my family. Ngayon lang, pagtawag ni Nanay, he said. 

I broke down in tears. I imagined the last time I was with Nanang. I looked at my son. I took a deep breath. She wasn't able to wait for us. She needed to rest. 

I was given clearance to go home the afternoon of my second day in the hospital. I could walk, I could carry my son, I was not feeling any pain - a far cry from my recovery when I gave birth to Zohan. I couldn't help but think that Nanang was also behind my speedy recovery - so that I could already be by her side soon.

On Wednesday, we sought clearance from Khaleid's pediatrician if he could travel to Batangas despite his very tender age. The doctor said as long as I am exclusively breastfeeding, Khaleid would have all the protection he would need. Fortunately, he was already nursing while the doctors were closing the stitch of my CS wound. We never had any problem with breastfeeding since then. 

Nanay came home from Rome on Thursday night.

We went home to Batangas for the wake of my Nanang on Friday. 

I would never forget the day that we arrived home. As I stepped closer to her coffin, I took a deep breath. I tried to imagine her face - the beautiful, the serene, the image of a gentle soul. I convinced myself that with all the years she spent with me, that day should be a day of acceptance and gratitude. I prayed to God to always remind me of that thought, because that was the only way I know to alleviate the pain.

Goodbye Nanang. As I mentioned when I kissed your forehead for the last time before your coffin was finally closed, Maraming Salamat po sa lahat.

I will always look at Khaleid with you in my thoughts.  


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Happiness is in the Struggle

I am currently hooked to Gretchen Rubin's book entitled The Happiness Project. Don't get me wrong, I am already happy with my life as it is now. But I guess I just want to be happier, or perhaps, a little more optimistic, that's why I started reading it. 

Halfway into the book and I am already in awe. This woman makes a lot of sense and I tend to agree with a lot of her ideas! The fact that she's a lawyer who left law practice to write a book adds to my already mounting interest. 

Among the many ways that she embarked on in her quest for a happier life, there is one particular concept that struck me most. She said that to eke out the most happiness from an experience, we must anticipate it, savor it as it unfolds, express happiness, and recall a happy memory. In relation to "anticipation", she narrated a short story about how she patiently helped her daughter choose the best cake for the latter's birthday. According to Gretchen Rubin,

"Before the happiness project, I would have resisted, but now I understand that this birthday errand isn't birthday ineffeciency, but the very fun itself. It's my Sixth Commandment: Enjoy the process. Eliza will enjoy eating the cake for only five minutes, but she can have hours of enjoyment from planning the cake. In fact, in what's known as the "rosy prospection," anticipation of happiness is sometimes greater than the happiness actually experienced. All the more reason to revel in anticipation."

Now, I know it's a little boring to dissect her brilliant lines further, so let me indulge you in a little chismis instead.

One of the petty issues I have with my husband is my fervent desire to have our condo renovated. Being the practical one, my husband always dismiss the thought, with the resolve that it is something at the very far end of our list of priorities. (Well, I get that, and frankly, I don't mind waiting for months, years even, until we are financially ready for it.) 

However, my husband's approach has brushed off with me that I have also voluntarily stopped looking at interior design magazines, websites and Instagram photos of anything related to home designs. In the process, it makes me sad and wanting, despite my understanding of where he's coming from. (With another baby on the way, and a long list of other financial responsibilities, the last thing that we actually need is a drop-down ceiling or an artistic corner chair.)

But after reading the line I quoted above, I realize that I really don't have to feel bum about it. In fact, I can turn this whole "struggling" part into a one big happiness project. 

I recall a time in a not-so-distant past when Kristan and I were constantly struggling to come up with our downpayment for our condo, which was spread in a 12-month period. We were still single then, but we embraced maturity way too early. For each month that we were able to fund our check, we'd happily bring out our statement of account and goofily cross out the month paid with a bright-colored highlighter. We'd color it together to symbolize how we both tried to make both ends meet. It was a happy time because we felt so accomplished, and at the same time, there was still something bigger and better that we were looking forward to.

It was a happy and defining moment when we finally moved in. But the happiness was, well, fleeting. It lasted for only a good one week or so, for by then, more grown-up problems already came in. And frankly, coloring our statement of account was a much, much happier time for me. I guess it was the combined struggle, the planning, and the dreaming that really mattered. 

Now, I feel like I am allowing my "wanting more" to strip me of the opportunity to feel happy. Instead of focusing on what we can't afford yet, the Happiness Project has helped me ask myself, why not make the struggle, the planning and the dreaming once again a happy time?

Thanks to Gretchen Rubin, I intend to do just that from now on. I have compiled photos of my design pegs and started following interior designers on Instagram. I don't look the other way anymore when I pass by furniture shops in mall; and I plan to buy back issues of home magazines. I don't care if it will take us years before we can execute our plans. That only means we will have more years of opportunity to be happy, right?

My husband has also started his little projects at home. He changed the grout of our tiles in the bathroom, and cleaned up the grouts in the sala. (Tip: The best cleaning agent is to combine baking soda with zonrox and zim!) His next project is a better clothesline for our tiny utility area. 

I just have one reassurance to tell him though -  that even if I keep on planning and yakking about the renovation, he doesn't have to feel pressured to provide it at once, or to provide it at all. (Check out Chinie Diaz's fabulous blogpost about why "admiring but not acquiring" is also a good thing over at her blog

Seriously husband, I CAN wait. I'm chill. I'm all zen. And if the time comes and we really cannot make it happen, I'll always remember that "happiness is in the struggle." At least, it's another happy journey in our books.

As for the rest of you who are also in a challenging phase of your life to reach for a goal, let's just keep going. There's something better waiting for us at the end, but our struggle towards it-- well, that's where real happiness is.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Are you raising a mama's boy?

On election day, while the rest of you were probably feeling all nationalistic as your index finger gets inked, I was stationed at a far-flung area in Bulacan to render legal support for a candidate. I am not proud of what I did, having forgone my opportunity to make a change for this country. But as Nicole Kidman sang it in Moulin Rouge, "A girl has got to eat." (And so is her family!)
So in between attending to election protests, I was reading "For One More Day" by Mitch Albom, to ease my boredom and sadness (from sorely missing Zohan, who was left with the in-laws in the meantime).   
Halfway into the book and I came across this line: 
"You can be a mama's boy or a daddy's boy, but you can't be both. So you cling to the one you think you might lose." 
And the inspiration for this blogpost was born.
I'd like to think Zohan is a mama's boy. First thing he says when he opens his eyes is "Nana". When his Tatay comes home from work without me, Zohan will open the door and look for me. As soon as he realizes I'm not hiding somewhere, he's most likely to cry. And he clings to me like a baby kangaroo, especially since he's nursing from me.
I tagged him along to my very first shooting for a TV appearance!
But he's every inch a daddy's boy, too. He plays games enthusiastically with his Tatay and he erupts into contagious laughter every time. He prefers to do the silly things with his father, mimics the latter's every move, insists on wearing his Tatay's big office shoes. When he cries, no one cracks him up more than his father. At this early, Zohan is showing signs of looking up to his father, which is not bad. Not bad at all.
When Zohan was much younger
So you see, there's no certainty whether Zohan is a mama's boy or a daddy's boy. To be totally honest, I'd prefer him to be both, if that is even possible.
But being a daddy's boy does not create as much ripples as being a mama's boy. Perhaps because as a boy, his natural tendency is to cling to his mother (as it is with little girls who usually cling to their fathers). Opposites do attract.
This is probably the reason why if a man turns out to be good, the credit goes to the mother. As they say, if your man treats you like a princess, it is proof that he has been raised by a queen. (Pardon the cliche.) I take it to mean that men who have so much love and respect for their mothers will most likely turn out to be responsible and loving husbands and fathers as well. That makes it mama's boys the species to look for, right?
But some species of mama's boys aren't exactly the creme dela creme. I can bet my ass there's also those who aren't capable of standing up for their own family, heck even for their own selves, unless the beloved mama grants her elusive approval. This makes mama's boys look weak and coward. 

So where is Zohan headed to? I guess I go back to my theory that as parents, we can only love them and guide them, but in the end, they'll grow up to be their own person. We can only try to do the best we can. At the end of the day, our kid is bound to leave us to have a life of his own. And whether he became a mama's boy or a daddy's boy wouldn't matter as much; what's more important is whether he can look back at the way he was raised with fondness, gratitude and pride.
Taken during his first birthday party
For now, the better of me is convinced I should tuck away my bribes in the meantime.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Happy Changes

This year saw the most consistent decline in this blog's activity. It was not as if I had been around for years, but when I was starting, I was hell bent on posting regularly, reflecting on life and motherhood, improving my writing skills, and dreaming of earning a little from it all.

Then this year started, I eased into my new job description, and I became enormously busy.

But before you start to feel bad for me, do know that I've become busy with my family. Yes, it’s my husband and Zohan who's keeping my hands full. It was toxicity of the happy kind, that's why I didn't mind sending this blog into the backseat.

How did that happen? Well, a lot of changes occurred this year. An opportunity presented itself and I am now back to litigation - my first love, and now I'm convinced, my true love. I didn't have to transfer companies to do that. The universe just got kinder after I showed patience in enduring the rough start. My fortitude paid off, and now I'm back to court!

But let me tell you the more important change that happened (and please don't laugh): I wasn't given access to the internet during office hours, then work became too demanding that I didn’t even have the time to surf through my phone - yes, it was that simple. But it was a symbolism of some sort. Aside from the internet, I was likewise separated from the familiar faces I've been with and the practices I've been accustomed to. 

Initially, I thought it was a wrong decision to change career path. I mean - what would happen to my blog? Where would I draw my inspiration from? And how would I deal with the various changes in the workplace? Really, the questions are endless and my regrets infinite. (And by now, you must be raising your eyebrows.)

But I remained patient and steadfast. I read somewhere that success happens to people who are courageous enough to move out of their comfort zones. If happiness is to be the measure of success, then I'm certain I have become successful by moving to unchartered territories.

So now, I have become acquainted to limited access to the online world. I go to work at 8:00 in the morning, do the job that I like, then go home to my family at 5:30 PM. Well, there were some things that hasn't changed - like I'd still see my husband at the corner of a familiar street waiting for me with a silly face, and together, we'd walk home. But I really wouldn't mind if that one remained the same for a long time.

By 6:00 PM, we'd knock on our door and Zohan would welcome us with his shriek, "Nana!!!". He could say "Tata" but he doesn't say it very often. Hah!

From that time on, until bedtime, I'd be a hands-on mother. Zohan sure knew how to make up for the time we'd lost during the day because we would be inseparable until bed time. The only time he would not be clinging to me was when he'd play basketball with Tatay. It would then be my time to check my phone for messages, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram - a good 10 minutes or so. At bedtime, I would breastfeed him until he falls asleep, usually at around 10 to 10:30.

I still try to have a personal time, though. I'm now back to teaching, but my class is only once a week. Poor Zohan waits for me until I arrive home at 10:00 PM. Aside from teaching, I also try to attend to yoga class once a week. 

So you see, I am not always present online because life has showed me how my offline life is more important. From what I thought was a simple deprivation of internet privilege, it showed me that if I focus my time and attention to myself, to my work, my friends and family- I will feel happier and live simpler.

Maybe I couldn't strike a good balance yet between blogging my life and living the life I could blog about. I have high respect for bloggers who can manage their time to do both. So forgive the incessant absence while I find the magic mojo how they do it. Meanwhile, when there's no new post, just think that I'm happily busy being a mother and a wife.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Mr. Pogi

If there's one thing that I try as much as I can to be good at in this whole parenting duties,  it's my adamant attempt to equip my son with simplicity and humility.

But at this day and age, imposing simplicity and humility is perhaps as difficult as parenting itself. It's a good thing that Zohan's Tatay knows the virtues by heart, so much so that he takes charge whenever I'm manifesting signs of going astray.

In our attempt not to raise an egoistic son, we have been trying several methods of discipline which may probably be so out of the box for some. In the book Discipline without Shouting or Spanking by Jerry Wyckoff and Barbara Unell, one of my go-to guides, they stressed the importance of separating a child from his behavior. 

For instance, the book says,

"Don't praise your child, but rather praise what she is doing. For example, instead of saying "You're a good girl for sitting quietly," say, "It's good you're sitting quietly." Focus your praise or disapproval on your child's behavior, because that is what you're interested in managing."

It echoed our preferred parenting philosophy in the sense that we will not be giving our son the mistaken idea that his personality is a cut above the rest, without however, depriving him of praises when he deserves it.

Everything is going along well and good, until my brother-in-law taught Zohan this cute antic that goes, Sinong pogi?

As you can probably guess, the question Sinong pogi? is being repeatedly asked in our house now, just to be graced with this cute response. That includes me, the behavorial-parent-police. 

So I guess this is what they say about loosing a certain level of control on things the minute one becomes a parent. But what the heck, I guess I just have to pray, and show our kid good examples of more substantial behaviors. For now, a little praise of how cute he really is probably won't hurt. Don't you think?

Monday, November 5, 2012

An UPDATE! (plus some heavy thoughts)

Yep, I'm still here! I'm drowning in the sea of reflection and contemplation, but I'm glad I still managed to squeeze in two timely posts (for Halloween and for my anniversary with Kristan) after a very long hiatus. 

I've been through a rollercoaster of emotions and a series of events, hence the lack of post. I also contemplated on deleting this blog altogether, but I hung on to my mantra of late that "Nothing just happens". So okay, I started this blog for a reason - which may not be clear to me now, but it will have to unfold sooner or later. In the meantime, I just have to keep swimming (or in this case, writing). 

I also failed to keep you posted about what happened to my two golden weeks. Perhaps because aside from the lack of time, there was also a lack of face, so to speak. Obviously, things didn't pan out as planned. As said golden weeks drew near, I listed down the pre-employment requirements of my new work, my errands which had been archived in my To-Do List under "can wait", and some other personal stuff. I tried to narrow it down, but the list still filled up two pages!  

It turned out, in two weeks, I only managed to stay at home for three full days, which made me came up with this thought - that working mothers should be given an extra holiday and just call it "errand day". (Seriously, weekends are never enough to do all the errands because it's supposedly time for family! Now, if we could only find a kind-hearted sponsor in the Senate.)

Anyway, despite the long list that I had to tick off, I was still able to spend time with Zohan. We went home to my province and his Tatay's during the two weekends. 

at our home in the province
Here in Manila, I would whip up something in the kitchen every now and then:

pancakes (in the afternoon!) and Nanay's version of Jamba Juice's choco moo'd
Of course, we played (a lot!), I accompanied him to swim, we would sleep in the afternoon, I would read him books at night, I even tagged him along to do the groceries. I made sure that what I lacked in quantity, I made up for quality. 

Also, while I was on a break, I had the chance to distance myself a little from the chaos of the world. While I was at it, I finally did my husband a favor and bought myself the book The Road Less Travelled by M. Scott Peck. 

There was a little background story about that purchase. I had been bugging him for as long as I can remember that I wanted to enroll in a yoga class. When he asked me what for, I gave a straight-from-the-gut response that I wanted to loose weight. Apparently, that was the wrong answer, as I was accused of stripping yoga of its true meaning. So the next chance I got, I said I wanted to do yoga to find my center. (clever, yes?) He said okay but not without a condition: I must first steep myself in "spiritual literature" so that I can do yoga with a proper frame of mind.  Well, what do you expect? I conceded and bought the darn book from a plethora of his suggested titles. 

The Road Less Travelled was about a new psychology of love, traditional values and spiritual growth. Kristan read it when he was in college. When we went home to his province, he eagerly looked for his copy and showed it to me. As I browsed through it, a certain page immediately caught my attention. I grabbed my own copy of the book and looked for the same page.

We both highlight our books when we read

Read several years apart, and we highlighted the exact same lines!
"To willingly confront a problem early, before we are forced to confront it by circumstances, means to put aside something pleasant or less painful for something more painful. It is choosing to suffer now in the hope of future gratification rather than choosing to continue present gratification in the hope that future suffering will not be necessary."
Still on the mantra that "Nothing Just Happens", I took it to mean that delaying gratification should help me cope with the pressing issues I had at the moment. Truth be told, I have not finished reading the book yet. I wanted to digest each and every letter of it, and then take it to heart. True enough, the book helped me put things back in perspective  and "find my center", in a manner of speaking. While I'm still a work in progress, I could fairly say that it has been a real sanity saver. 

So that's what my golden weeks had been about. Quite tedious in the beginning, but I was glad I found something to slow me down towards the end. How about you? What has been saving your sanity lately? :)
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