And If It Matters

People make mistakes. You, me, everyone else in this planet are capable of making a mess out of everything that supposed to hold beauty, order and peace in it. We are creatures of the flesh; we are never spared by the vultures that haunt us in the deepest oceans of our core. We have the ability to break the bones of our fragile words, to leave a scar on someone’s bloodstream, to spread darkness in a room searching for its light. We are human. We are only human. Our voyage to lead a life that only knows Hope will encounter the wilderness of Lost. And I wanted you to know that these, all of these, are inevitable because we are living. Because we have life. Because we have choices. And there’ll be times of wrong choices. And there’ll be times of deranged resolutions. And there’ll be times of destructive break-frees. These, too, are expected because life is a many splendored crap-hole.

It doesn’t mean though that when you jumped into one wrong move, you’ll end up in the never ending cycle of cursed fate. It doesn’t mean that when you placed all your aces in the game of life, you have all the risk of blowing everything off. It doesn’t mean when you made something wrong, you lose the chances of making it right. It doesn’t mean the way you think when you’re thinking of all the awful lists of how you are not worthy of any redemption.

Please remember that Grace, Forgiveness and Love is what defines your soul. This, my friend, is your armor. We have been bought for a price for all our shortcomings and we have to be grateful for this. There is Someone who believed that we are worthy of redemption, of salvation. Although we are not capable of being perfect, being righteous, being holy – we are capable of living, of making choices, of facing the consequences of our choices. And this is your beauty: to live your own story. It might be ugly, it might be chaotic, it might be unpleasant at times but it is yours. You are the only one who can live your life for you. I encourage you to hurdle the storms and live it.

Emptiness and Brokenness are two faces of growth. They are friends with Hope – the gem that we are all holding onto. Trust the struggle. Trust the overcoming. Trust the potential of your story. And if it matters, I trust you with every fiber of faith I have. So please, trust yourself and this situation. Trust the Divine. Anchor all your energy into your armor.

There is beauty in every unwise decisions learned. There is completeness in every vulnerability. There is comfort in every honesty. There is redemption for you and me.

But the lives we lead are squishy shoes and the only way to get it right is to wear them well, not trade them in. (Isabel Garcia)

Live your story six hundred forty eight words per minute.

Choosing an Alternate Ending

I’m the kind of person who loves to start doing things which will later end up unfinished: running twice a week, journaling significant moments in a day, writing down lists of things I’m grateful for and dropping it in my Gratitude Jar, keeping up with my planner every year, reading books, creating art, eating in moderation, (and possibly) ending this sentence properly, heh etcetera etcetera. One major proof of this phenomenon as you can see is my “absence” from this humble space for almost half of the year last year. Gee, am I such a mess?

This is also the reason why I believe that the end doesn’t always justify the means. See, people can have beautiful beginnings yet have tragic endings and vice versa. Because choices bring a lot of who we are in this wilderness called Life.

As I grew older every year, I am desiring to see if I’ve been making a difference, if I’ve been doing something worthy, if I’ve been living this life to the greatest extent possible. I’m coming to realize that whenever I start doing something, it would be brave of my character if I’ll pour in the needed effort to actually finish it.

2015 is a fresh start (once again) and I got this impression in my heart that this year is a year of getting soaked so deep in the ocean, swimming. You must understand that “me, swimming” is a metaphor of “me, committing” – me showing up for the things I’ve signed up for. Because it’s one thing to get in the water and it’s another thing to go paddle yourself to the center island from the shore. It’s one thing to start something and it’s entirely different to have the urge and hustle all the way to the end goal of what you have started.

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The word Commitment is such a bold word, though. It asks so much from you and to be honest, it’s scary. You gotta have the patience and the discipline to keep on pushing when all you wanna do is relax and take everything easy. I bet Easy is not even in the vocabulary of Commitment, maybe there’s only Hustle.

Now, there’s a good chance of me failing to do my commitments. The month of January have proven that to me. When I was a little bit younger, once I failed on something, I convinced myself that I’d probably be failing my whole journey anyway so might as well stop. And I did. I stopped three fourths of the way, mid way, or even if I just took the wrong two or three steps from the path I’m trying to go to. I stopped because I felt that maybe I’m just too hopeless to even continue. Well, the younger self clearly didn’t understand commitment.

I guess when things get tough and we can only measure our hope by teaspoons, we should still choose to stick to the possibility of overcoming. Commitment is hustling. It is working doubly hard to stand by our words, our passions and our innermost desires even if, sometimes, we have to face defeat. The overcoming of defeat is the highlight of every victory. And, it’s never gonna be easy.

Here’s to the beautiful hardships that Commitment will bring this 2015! Here’s to hustling! Here’s to choosing an alternate ending – a well done one, a complete one. It’s about time.

You is kind. You is smart. You is important. You is brave.

I watched the movie The Help over the weekends, and I must say, the story is a story of Courage.

Courage has always been a beautiful word for me. It’s like a secret chant you say to yourself which instantly delivers a wonderful amount of bravery and confidence. When uncertainty lingers at the porch of your mind, trying to quaff every single barrel of your sunshine, Courage will make you believe that there’s nothing wrong being in the dark for a while. Courage trusts that you’ll find the light. That’s what Courage does, it makes you Hope. And Hope shares the same attributes of Courage: beautiful. (I abuse the word beautiful so much, but, there’s no other way I can describe these two.)

The movie was set in a far away past where racial discrimination was still eminent in the United States of America – the Blacks serve as helpers in White people’s residences. However, their rights has always been disregarded. It makes me feel lighter, though, when I saw that not all White people are prejudiced; take Skeeter, a journalist who pushed for the Helpers to share their side of story with their service at the White people’s houses. Although, all her efforts might have been for naught if not for the willingness of Abiliene to support.

Skeeter and Abiliene were the two lead persons in the movie who took a stand and choose – what many people in their time, won’t – Courage. What’s very crucial about Courage is that it has to be chosen. You have to choose to be courageous. Nobody else can do it for you.

Despite the fact that Skeeter and Abiliene (together with the other Helpers) could be in grave danger, they still do what they had to do: act against racism and seek equality between the Colored and the Whites. They started a revolution, a spark for change. And I believe, they contributed a big part in the freedom of all cultures and races America is experiencing today. Imagine if they didn’t do anything when the very circumstance they’re in is asking them to make a stand? We, humans, most times don’t act out when we need to; afraid of so many things that would expose us in possible danger. Courage, often requires sacrifice – of our own time, money, talent, and even comfort – for the greater good. We have it all inside of us, we have the capacity to be brave, we have been given the ability to serve. It’s just that, sometimes, we tend to forget.

Yes, you is (also) brave.

When things go way out of hand and you tremble to your knees as you are shaken to the core, hold hands with Courage, do not let go. When every single molecule of your being wants you to run away and escape the grind of tomorrow, behold Courage in the eye, as long as his eyes flicker, don’t lose hope. When there’s too much fear in your heart and you can’t keep the tears anymore, look up, Courage is always looking down.

To have Courage is not to rely on your own strength. To have Courage is to surrender all your weaknesses in the hands of an Almighty God, entrusting every small portions of your life into His bigger plans for your future – be prepared to witness His power working in you. To have Courage is not to be free from fear, Fear is a healthy friend. To have Courage is bringing Fear with you in skydiving; no matter the struggle, it will remind you that you have wings – you are meant to fly. To have Courage is not to go through life easy. To have Courage is to embrace life in all of its uncertainties.

Show me how big your Brave is.

Do Not Fear the Future, Thomas

I had been meaning to write something about how September greeted me with so many unexpected things in life since Day 1. But much to my chagrin, I wasn’t able to sit down face-to-face with this white blank page until today.

To summarize what’s the fuzz in my mind about: I am just overwhelmingly grateful of how the Big Guy favored me in the most unexpected time in my most unguarded moment.

If you ever heard about the disciple named Thomas, you might actually heard about me: the Doubter. I am a person who doubts a lot – mostly, the subject of all my doubts is myself. I got this very low regard with my capabilities as an individual; I tend to focus more on what I might fail to do or what I might actually done wrong to a perfect situation. I’ve come to learn that that’s not humility. Whenever we say, I can’t do this or I don’t know how to do that, we really are hindering all the possibilities where God can intervene in our lives. Sometimes, when doubt just pops out a big CAUTION: This might be dangerous for you, it is strongly suggested for you not to continue – we just freeze and we just want to stay where we are comfortable. Fear takes over. Doubt is eating up on Hope, every second that it counts.

Last month, I was really at the edge of my seat wanting to dive in my sea of worries. And I did so, because I lost heart like losing a battle I’m itching to win. That particular Friday, I became emotional, too emotional, that I cried to God to ask Him what does He want from me because I believe I gave it my all and all I wanted is some consolation – what about what I want, for a change? Selfish little brat that I am, I did ask that.

I wanted to explore a new field. I already proclaimed it with all conviction that I’ll be in one on September. And then doubt came in halfway August and I panicked. How can I possibly enter September with new beginnings if the company I’m applying for – the company which my mother told me to try – haven’t been in contact with me after two days? Spell #atat. LOL. (Now that I’m looking back, it was actually funny that I think they won’t ever consider getting me since they haven’t given me a text, call or email…and it was only two days passed!!!) That day, I seriously accepted the fact that they won’t ever regard me. See what our emotional hormones can do?

I was discussing all my drama to the Lord and just before I dwell deeper into the quicksand of paranoia and worry, a text message came in. Guess what the message was about? Yup, it’s God telling me, Why are you in such a hurry? Have you forgotten that everything is under my control? because the company already came in contact with me and told me that I am scheduled for an exam and interview the following week.

In that week, I finally surrendered all my doubts. I prayed to God that if the job really is for me, He’ll make way; if it’s not, I prayed that He’ll bless my heart whatever the decision may be. I will not elaborate point-per-point how everything unfold the way it did. All I know was, the Lord backed me up big time. Meaning, He approved of me getting it and so I did. Everything went smoothly by God’s grace! True enough, what I proclaimed September to be, it happened.

After getting the job, another set of doubt – actually, fear – came in. Since I’m getting myself in a new field, I’m fully aware that it’s different from what (some) people will expect from me. I’m afraid that they’ll judge me. Some of them – I saw through their actions and words – seemed to think through on my decision, assessing if I’m doing the right one. I know that they are just concerned, but that kind of quiet pressure, made me doubt my decision to explore this new field too. And I remembered that I prayed about this, the Lord gave His answers clear. I need not to worry.

You see, we all are in varying stages or phases in our lives where we are choosing what we want to be, where we want to be. To tell you honestly, I don’t know where I wanted to be and what I want to become, yet. If others are sure that they wanted to be teachers, accountants, doctors, writers, musicians, etcetera; all I wanted – as of this moment – was to be an explorer of life: to do things with my heart, to feel the world in my hands. I swear, I see nothing wrong with that. I think it’s beautiful to enjoy the voyage when you haven’t got a clue where you are headed. At least for me, that’s the case.

Although I fear the future, calculating if my decisions will benefit me in the long run, I have come to realize that I don’t have to, because the Lord has promised to be with me wherever I go.

And as for my Doubt,

Doubt was cool. Doubt was predictable. It broke my heart a lot less. But over time, that changed and I realized that all doubt really did was stifle truth. I am always grateful for that. There are big things out there for each of us. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is just believe.

-Isabel Garcia

Take that! Lol

Instead of Fear, I’ll choose to Hope. Hope always lets you believe that you can fly and it has always been a liberating feeling touching the clouds.

There’s a lot to learn in this new expedition. I pray that the Lord will give me Courage to face the calmness of the sea, as well as its rages. For the now, let’s take heed of my September Moodboard (yes, it’s back!!!): Do Not Fear the Future :)

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Take it in. Let it out.

So, this is what it feels like. Do you feel it — your heart that’s full of questions, frustrations, anger?

You keep on believing that everything’s fine; trying to navigate the stillness on the surface while everything’s boiling under. Wake up! You are far from fine! It’s time for you to feel it. Accept it. Embrace it. Listen to your body just for once.

I’m not here to judge you. Please don’t fear to be judged by people. Stop acting like you got everything under control because, clearly, you don’t. And you have to understand, it’s okay.

I know you don’t want to hear these things. All you wanna hear is how everything happens for a reason and that there’s always a rainbow after the rain. Yes, this shit happens for a reason. And yes, rainbows do appear after the rain. But, don’t fast forward things. You are in the middle of this shit. You are drenched in the rain. So, why don’t you find yourself where you are?

You are here. In the core. This is pain. This is madness. This is where you find yourself on the floor — weak, tired, confused.

Breathe.

Today, you breathe. Today, you recognize.

You always have to recognize where you are. In that way, you can clean yourself off from the bruise you’ve got from the fall. In that way, you can process what’s really going on in your head before you say things you might regret saying when you’re mad. In that way, you can comfort yourself no matter how cold you pressed your hands to your heart. Trust me, the beating of it will produce the heat and will make you warm.

Breathe. In that way, you can let go. You recognize, and then, you move on.

Oh shut up. Every time it rains, it stops raining. Every time you hurt, you heal. After darkness, there is always light and you get reminded of this every morning but still you choose to believe that the night will last forever. Nothing lasts forever. Not the good or the bad. So you might as well smile while you’re here.

The Return to Green, I Wrote This For You

Live High

Lately, things keep blowing in front of our face. Reality is stinging every corner of our minds. We thought we know how the world works like the back of our hands, but, do we really?

Everything is fast-phased. It’s like we’re all in a bullet train. All we know is evolving in a snap — technology, communication, relationships, culture, faith. How do we define choices? What constitutes our beliefs? What do freedom and equality really mean? Why are we keep on accepting the behavior that this world keeps on imposing unto us? Is it absolutely okay to tolerate ideologies just so we can say we are accommodating to everyone’s perspectives? Who’s to say who’s right and who’s wrong? Why are there so many questions and why can’t we find an answer?

There’s something wrong in our world today; there’s something terribly wrong that’s happening. And I cannot, for the life of me, understand how will I properly respond to this. I never wanted to cast judgment on the way people deal with their life choices because I am never worthy to do so; I am a messed-up person myself. But it seems like this world is telling us that everything is okay as long as you’re happy and you’re true to yourself. What kinds of standard are we living in today? It pains me to see the picture that we are all living for the sake of ourselves — for our own rights, for our own happiness. We are nearly living in a Love-Only-Yourself kind of World, a Selfie (selfish) Generation. It’s all about us now, isn’t it — what we want, we should get.

Really?

Is that all there is to live? For people to know how great we are? How amazing our talents are and the things we do? How we can bend the rules and break them just for us to do the things we want to do?

Really? That’s life? That’s what we call living to the fullest?

NO. There’s more to life than just us. There’s more to life than all these — pleasures of the world we believe we must possess.

I want you to know that Happiness is different from Joy. Doing what we are ought to do will always be worthy than doing what we want to do. And that our choice is always important. Please don’t be deceived that you don’t have any control as to what and how you are going to feel; it’s not true. Saying that you don’t have a choice is like you not owning up to any consequences of your actions. Be man enough! Stand by your choices! I can only hope that you are choosing the right ones. But if you find yourself stuck in a mistake, you can always get out. Please choose to get out.

This world is ever-changing. This world could easily die to the standards that we people regard as virtue back then. But that doesn’t mean we should die with the world. We believe in God, right? He gave us an example to follow. And yet the freedom to choose what we do with our lives is in our hands.

Live high. Live mighty. Live righteously.

 

Small Things

I was at the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) today, yesterday and last week. I had been fixing something for our organization regarding this new BIR policy on official receipts and invoices for business owners. The old ORs/invoices will be invalid starting July 1, hence, new ones are needed to be printed out before the end of this month; those who won’t be able to comply will be penalized with P20,000-P50,000 (that’s A LOT of money especially for small business and NGOs huhu). I think the BIR wasn’t able to communicate this information properly with the business owners even though they’re telling the news that it has been proclaimed six months ago (we only knew about this policy at the end of May). What’s kind of more  frustrating about it is that they are not going to extend the deadline. Talk about mercy! Dear Lord, please help our organization not get penalized. (please pray for us too — the processing of papers, printing of new receipts before deadline; we can’t afford to be penalized)

***

Sometimes I just wanna complain because of all this “messengerial” duties that I’m doing now and in the previous months. There would be moments that I would think that this is not what I’m supposed to be doing since it was never a part of my job-description nor it was a course that I finished in College. And there would also be moments where I ask myself if this is what I’m worth?

Before I get too succumbed by all the lies in my head, I had to snap out of it by renewing my perspectives in life.

***

Most people don’t understand my field of work — they don’t really get it. I totally understand them since I myself took my time in figuring out all the whys I had in mind.

If you must know, I am working as a Program Officer for a non-government organization (NGO) for two years now. I had tendered my resignation last February of this year but I’m still extended up to this time.

Six months back, aside from being a Program person, my boss requested if I could do the admin stuff in the office since our Admin Officer resigned then. At first I thought it was easy, but boy, I was so wrong! (!!!) It was never anything that I thought it would be. It got me at the verge of insanity at some point. HAHA. Added to that, I was doing most of the messengerial errands already (long story…). Admin work is fine but messengerial? To be honest, I don’t like it. I felt that I don’t deserve to be one.

***

Here’s a thing about humility: Jesus washed the feet of His disciples.

I don’t know when or what particular month in those six months that I felt peace in what I’m doing as a Program/Admin/Messengerial person at the office. I’m always praying to God that He will always guide me wherever I go or whatever I do because I wanted to please Him and obey Him. And I know I had failed many times, but I kept praying for a heart that is willing to be used by Him everyday anyways.

There were times that I felt that I’m not appreciated in spite of what I’m doing but I’m thankful that the Lord gives grace to people like me who could really be sunk at being too self-absorbed.

***

In my two years in an NGO, I can say that I learned a lot. It was and is a great ride. I can’t even narrate in words how much growth I had experience ever since. It was wonderful. Galing ni Lord kung san Niya ko nilagay, ngayon ko lang narealize!

I was strengthened intellectually and emotionally throughout the whole course of being a Program Officer. I had no clue and I started from scratch but see, the Lord got my back on the most confusing times of my life at the work place. #iSurvived It was amazing now that I think of it. (I’ll have to have a separate post on the learnings I had working with the people in an NGO.)

One of the pivotal moments though was doing the Admin/Messengerial work — the things I considered of “small” importance when it was not. I gained new appreciation for them. It was different. Imagine, they take care of a company’s government duties and all! I mean, we must not look on them as if we’re much greater than them because we are in a higher position. NO. That mindset is wrong.

It reminded me so much how small people (like me) matter in the plans of God. There are big people, yes, but they also needed the small people. We need each other. We compliment each other’s strengths and weaknesses. That no matter what your role in life is, you have occupy a space here on earth and therefore: you matter.

***

The small things are not always the smallest when it comes to greatness of impacts. Small doesn’t mean less. There might be difference in sizes, difference in roles played, difference in circumstances and it all boils down on how you’ll see the small things in the bigger picture of life.