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Had good chats with two of my close friends last night. One of my friends who is a third order Carmelite attends mass daily at Sto. Domingo Church.  He was in doubt but he asked me if Fr. Lovell was the one who officiated the mass. He said the latter’s homily was a breath of fresh air.  So I asked Fr. Lovell later, he said yes. He  even mentioned my plight as a cancer survivor, how  having a grave ailment would someday be an inspiration to others to get well.  We talked about life and survival, we talked about our families and moving on. We talked about how life seems so hard sometimes.

I do agree, there are times when you feel so alone in your struggles.  There are times when you feel like giving up but it is not an option.  There are always instances when  you feel so down. Life is all about our struggles and little victories we gain from being brave and strong.  It’s hard sometimes to show strength when you really feel so weak. It is easier to show how you’ve become saddened and disappointed with what is happening around. Problems are part and  parcel of this thing we call life.  It may get a little  complicated at times  but trying times are not always here to stay. Our attitude towards vicissitudes in life spells the big difference between living and existing. It’s survival of the fittest as people often say. I do believe though that one’s weakness becomes one’s strength  in the long run. We learn, oh how we learn to survive. Staying positive may be hard to do but it is one moving force for us to survive and accept a particular situation not to our liking. I remember one writer (the name escapes me now) who said, “When life gives you lemons, don’t make lemonade. Make life take the lemons back”.

 

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Out of the blue, a friend who arrived home from San Antonio about a month ago called me up and said she is coming over for a chat.  Of course,I was elated.  Who wouldn’t be? The last time we saw each other was sometime in October 2014. she said her package has arrived and she brought all these gifts for the family. She even gave some cash to Mommy when she found out that Mom is having her birthday on Wednesday.

Two hours of updating on each other’s lives although we always chat on  Messenger in between.  She brought with her a dozen pocketbooks, baking chocolates, Spam, Skittles and M & M for Nate, a box of Pringles and two hardbound copies of two of my favorite authors Mary Oliver and Richard Paul Evans. Upstream is Mary Oliver’s latest book while The Mistletoe Secret was published last November.  To own such copies, priceless. This is my third book  of Mary Oliver, the first two are books of poems while this one are essays she wrote.  I’ve collected several books  of Richard Evans.  His latest will be out in the market in May.

Celebrating friendship – the smiles, the laughter, the serious talk about life itself, the many, many things that make friendship beautiful. This is the only time that she is free because she has come home for good and has many things to do.  Who says online friends are not real?  We used to be online friends at the Catholic site on Facebook where I am one of the admins. it started with just a few chats in  a group which my priest friend, our chief administrator created. We saw each other several times in the past. Every time she comes home, we make it a point to see each other. This is one of those blessed days to renew friendship. Just so happy.

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That’s the funny thing about writing your life story. You start out trying to remember dates and times and names. You think it’s about facts, your life; that what you’ll look back on and remember are the successes and failures, the timeline of your youth and middle age, but that isn’t it at all.

Love.

Family.

Laughter.

That’s what I remember when all is said and done. For so much of my life, I thought I didn’t do enough or want enough. I guess I can be forgiven my stupidity. I was young. I want my children to know how proud I am of them, and how proud I am of me. We were everything we needed – you and Daddy and I.  I have everything I ever wanted.

Love.

That’s what we remember.

When a book makes me cry, I give it five stars. Yes I know, the quotes sound cheesy, it’s a YA book after all.  Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah in one such lovely read. It’s my 17th book on Goodreads’ 2016 Reading Challenge. When I review a book, I don’t summarize it for other people to read, it’s more like sharing what it made me feel. Was I inspired with the story? Was it interesting enough to recommend to other readers who love stories on life-long friendship and family and how  genuine love plays through it all?

You can always read the summary and some book reviews on Goodreads, some maybe disappointed, some find it wonderful.  The story line is such that it made me cry. When I started college life, I worked in the university library for almost three years and there I found true friendship with some of my colleagues. We’ve been friends since I was seventeen and the three of them are still my friends until now. We don’t normally get to see each other but we get in touch despite the distance.  Thea is now a Franciscan nun, Grace has migrated to another country and Precy is a successful businesswoman.  Except for Grace, the three of us experienced life-threatening ailments that made us closer together. Precy once said that we had to undergo the same kind of pain that cancer brings.

Near the end, Firefly Lane delivers such painful reality of losing a mum, a close friend, a daughter and a wife. It pains me to remember the agony of being not 100% fit,  and I do remember vividly what it was like going thru chemotherapy .  Sometimes though, life let us experience something that makes us stronger, ready to accept the ugly realities and grateful for the blessings in between.

Really, when a book makes me cry, I give it five stars.

 

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Rich

They always say that everything happens for a reason.

I believe that too. It’s the same thing with friendship. It goes a long way, a lovely journey of discovery, a truly meaningful sharing with kindred souls. It’s hard to find true friends but when you find them, they are more valuable than gold. I treasure the days that I share with my friends. Some are there to make me laugh and make me realize that it is okay to cry, cleanse our eyes and hearts with all the hurts and pain. Some are there just to listen, no words needed but a ready shoulder and loving arms to make you feel you are truly worthy of being a friend. Some are there to give advice and make you see the truth no matter how painful it is to face. Some are there for a long time,  guiding you, lifting you up, rejoicing with you in your triumphs and  empathizing  with you when you are down. Some are there to make you smile and make the day worthwhile.

What a wonderful thing friendship is. What a wonderful world friendship brings.  And it’s true, “what a difference having a friend makes”.

P.S. For those friends I met through this blog, I could not thank you enough. You made a difference in my life.

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“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”

I love quoting these lovely words from one of my favorite writers,  Henri Nouwen,  for they exactly describe how friendship should be and what it really means to me, when you could be just as you are with them, when they accept you in their lives and in their hearts, warts and all.

Last Saturday was another lovely celebration of friendship.  A few close friends came over to just celebrate the day with me and mom.  Two of them will be celebrating their birthdays this month and what a fitting way to share laughter, smiles, hugs, serious stuff (you would not believe this  but most of our topics touched on our faith and the beauty of being a Catholic) and food of course. Mom was so amazed to learn that they came from  places outside Metro Manila and she was full of questions like how I met them,  why they are visiting me when we could choose to go out  and spend the day in malls, she asked where they work, things that a typical mom wants to know. When they have left, she said “ang babait nila”. Mabait in English has no exact meaning but it encompasses various traits like being kind, gentle, friendly, generous, amiable, considerate, you name it, it is all in there in that single word.  We had a good laugh of course while we were taking pictures. They brought their cameras  and we took some shots.

That's mom on the extreme right. She was gracious enough to join us in our picture-taking.

That’s mom on the  right. She was gracious enough to join us in our picture-taking.

For WP2

for WP3

Food galore....

Food galore….

Sinful mango cake from Red Ribbon...

Sinful mango cake from Red Ribbon…

IMG_6578

We were all so full  we just snacked on polvoron (yummy powdered milk candy from Red Ribbon), boiled peanuts and adobo peanuts while sharing and discussing so many topics, touching even politics and world affairs.

It was a lovely day to celebrate friendship.

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There is something nostalgic about it –  the changing years – saying goodbye to something old and saying hello to something new. Soon, the passing  days would just be memories that we will hug and remember perhaps with a smile or maybe, just maybe with a touch of pain and sadness. No matter how you look at life, there are days when the pain you feel overshadows the joy you show to the world, that all is well, that everything is just as it is supposed to be – happy.

Pretty soon or exactly three days from now, we’ll be stepping into another year of challenges, journeys to traverse, new friends to meet, things to discover. We will never know what is in store for all of us in the coming days. I’ve always written a year-end post since I started blogging six years ago (seven if you will include my blogs at Multiply). I’ve always written about all the important things that somehow made my heart swell with joy, events that left an indelible mark in my soul.  This time, I would love to acknowledge all those people I met here who made blogging worthwhile. I may not be able to mention all of you but you are in my thoughts. Blogging would not be what it is without your inspiring comments and like.

My gratitude goes to two lovely ladies from the US  (fellow Filipinos) who share their lives and adventures, places they’ve been to, and photographs they have taken. It is such a joy to visit their blogs. You can take a glimpse on what they share here. Wi’s blog is Simply Beautiful.  Take a deep breath and visit Lou’s posts, she is into gardening too and features fresh pick from her garden. I’ve learned a lot of country life from an online friend in England. Pete lives in Beetley and blogs about his dog Ollie. Be sure to read his earlier posts, he is a very good and inspiring writer. Thanks Pete for those lovely comments. You never fail to like and comment on every post I make since we became friends here. I only learned of her name lately but it does not really matter. We’ve been online friends for quite a while now and we both love Padre Pio. Kay, if you are reading this, I’d like to let you know that I am also inspired by your blog.  If there is someone whose blog posts I always look forward to and who also writes inspiring comments to my blog posts, it’s IT. Visit this link and you’ll know why. He always writes inspiring posts and comes from the Philippines although his family has migrated to another country. I’ve been acquainted with Tina for just a short while but I feel I could relate to her as we talk on life, families, journeys and such. Thank you Tina for making my blogging life one such lovely journey. Meet Laura,  another online friend who always visits my blog and shares her writings and food adventures. She goes by the name Sweet Pea To Love.  She calls herself The Dreamer Mom and she takes lovely pics of her daughter Maia. Cel, I hope someday I could meet you too.

Finally, my blog registered almost a 1,000 followers, thank you so much. Visits keep growing every day, a total of 305,550 as of this writing. Thanks again 🙂 I am glad you find something worth-reading here. And before I end this blog, I would like to wish you  all a HAPPY AND BLESSED year ahead. May we all find meaning in life’s dreams and escapes.

“It’s good to take counsel from the past but not to be ruled by it. Otherwise we end up using today to fight yesterday’s battles and miss tomorrow’s promise.”― Richard Paul Evans, Walking on Water

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“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”

Was it only a few days ago when I blogged about finding happiness in simple things? I found these wonderful words from Henri Nouwen (another favorite author) which exactly echo my own thoughts. Time and again, I’ve quoted the same words when I blog about friendship.Sometimes, you are lucky to be inspired by how other people see things, how they look at life from their end, how in one way or another, you feel that you are exactly at that same place and you smile because you are blessed.

My youngest brother and I love to talk about our younger years. Early this morning he asked me how I am going to celebrate my birthday. Will there be a party? At my age, you don’t call it a party but a gathering of friends  you are close to. You laugh out loud at some silly jokes but no one would really mind because they laugh at the same things. You shed a tear or two and they also get teary-eyed while sharing their own unique journeys.  Kindred souls…that’s who we are.  They lift you up when things seem to be not right in your world and they are not blind to your faults.  I look forward to seeing them again soon.

I found this lovely meme from one of my friends’ timeline.  How true!  It’s from lessonslearnedinlife.com.

from lessonslearnedinlife.com

lessonslearnedinlife.com

You’re lucky when you find a friend who celebrates with you at your best and be there for you at your worst.

 

 

 

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