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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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I’ve read somewhere about those seven signs when you are seriously broke. Seriously, I don’t think there are just those  seven signs for you to realize that you really don’t have enough to tide you over until the next pay-day or until your next pension.

My goodness, there must be something wrong with people who try to live beyond their means. Nowadays,  gadgets are always updated almost every six months and there are people who just can’t help themselves, they need to buy the newest and latest model of cellphones, tabs, lap tap or what have you maxing out their credit card limits in the process.

Since I started working at the bank back in 1978, I also started keeping a small notebook of  my daily expenses religiously updating it at the end of the day. Why, even a twenty-five cents worth of candies was written there. I kept a tab of my monthly budget and summarized it yearly when my two kids were still at university. I had several envelopes marked for marketing, for groceries, miscellaneous, Nissa’s and Josef’s allowances and for small indulgences now and then. That only stopped  a few years after my optional retirement from the bank where I worked for more than twenty-one years. Since then, I’ve been conscious of how and  where to spend wisely.Sometimes though, I am an impulsive buyer too. There are those things that we just want but don’t really need. Economists always tell us, save first before you spend. That seldom happens though. By the time the 15th or the end of the month is near, you are using your credit card to buy things.

I learned a lot while I was working at Bank of PI. You learn to save money the right way, you learn to invest in some funds the right way. They will teach you how. You will learn to curtail a little of those unnecessary expenses. You will learn to handle money. Money  per se is not evil, it’s how we handle it. There  are people who think money is their  God, the more they have, the happier they are.  You are rich when you have enough but you are richer when you have peace of mind, you can get up in the morning without worrying,  when you could admire simple things that give you happiness.

Is living beyond your means an ideal set-up? I don’t think so.  It would probably gives you more problems than you presently have.

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Whether we admit it or not, most of us live our lives on autopilot. We wake at the same hour, go to the same place of work or worship, talk to the same people, eat at the same restaurants, even watch the same TV show….

But sometimes the evolving terrain of life requires us to evolve with it. When those times come, we usually find ourselves quivering on the

The Mistletoe Secret

precipice of change as long as we can, because no one wants to dive into the ravine of uncertainty. No one. Only when the pain of being becomes too much do we close our eyes and leap.

Thus begins the first chapter of Richard Paul Evans’ The Mistletoe Secret. Another book to cherish. It’s my 75th book on Goodreads’ 2017 Reading Challenge.  I can relate to this book because the story is about a blogger who feels so alone and lonely and she writes what she feels through a blog.  She thought no one cares but there was someone out there who continued to read her blog.  This is the premise of the book until the guy decided to look for that blogger and you guess it right…there is a happy ever after, but of course.  The story line is simple but it has depth of emotions and feelings. It’s been a long time since I read a book by Richard Paul Evans.  His writing style is not that complicated but I love how he delves into  life in general and relationships in particular.  It’s what I like about RPE’s writing.

I am halfway through my committed books to read for this year, 150 in all. One thing with a new book is that you can’t help but  smell the pages and no dog-ears please. Use a book marker.  I started reading a few excerpts of Mary Oliver’s Upstream when it was published  late last year but now that I have my copy, I will enjoy reading her essays.

What have you read lately?

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I have previously blogged about our Lenten celebrations in so many posts before. Today, Palm Sunday, is the start of the celebration of Holy Week. It ends on Saturday, April 15 then Easter starts with Easter Sunday next week.

We attended an anticipated mass last night.  The palms we brought were blessed thrice. Most of the time we attend such masses the night before during Palm Sunday. There usually is a Palm Sunday procession in the morning. Palm fronds  are blessed. It signifies the triumphal entry of our Lord  into Jerusalem.  Holy Week is a solemn celebration for us Catholics. We remember Christ’s passion and  death for our sins.

Thank You Lord for these silent moments.

Quiet days in contemplation, quiet days of  reading  inspirational books I have collected through the years. I love the works of Thomas Merton, a Catholic writer, theologian and a mystic. He was also a  poet and a Trappist monk of the Abbey of Gethsemani.  Back in college, I encountered  his works particularly his book, The Seven Storey Mountain. It’s a timeless spiritual book that influences  probably millions of  Catholic readers worldwide. My favorite though is a thin copy of  Thoughts in Solitude  given by a friend a few years ago. I always read it now and then.  I have some favorite quotes from the book:

“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”

“Words stand between silence and silence: between the silence of things and the silence of our own being. Between the silence of the world and the silence of God. When we have really met and known the world in silence, words do not separate us from the world nor from other men, nor from God, nor from ourselves because we no longer trust entirely in language to contain reality.”

Henri Nouwen’s books come next.  He was a Dutch Catholic priest, writer and Theologian. I have three of his books which I also read when I am inspired. I bought them a while back at St. Paul’s.  I am quoting this lovely prayer for Lent which he wrote in A Cry for Mercy.

“How often have I lived through these weeks without paying much attention to penance, fasting, and prayer? How often have I missed the spiritual fruits of the season without even being aware of it? But how can I ever really celebrate Easter without observing Lent? How can I rejoice fully in your Resurrection when I have avoided participating in your death? Yes, Lord, I have to die—with you, through you, and in you—and thus become ready to recognize you when you appear to me in your Resurrection. There is so much in me that needs to die: false attachments, greed and anger, impatience and stinginess…. I see clearly now how little I have died with you, really gone your way and been faithful to it. O Lord, make this Lenten season different from the other ones. Let me find you again. Amen”

How lovely it is to encounter such gifted writers. How lovely it is to read their  inspirational works again.

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Gosh, it is the end of the month again and I’m like “where have all the days gone?” Time flies so fast and before we know it, another month is gone.

March  has been a little active socially , that is. We’ve attended a wedding,  Nate’s graduation and a dinner at Dampa Seaside. It is always a thrill to see relatives and friends who you haven’t gotten in touch with for quite a while.  It is always nice to bond with one’s family and enjoy some moments singing together in a karaoke bar belting your heart out for a favorite song.  It is always lovely to see other places aside from the four walls of the house. I am not complaining, it’s just that I seldom go out with friends nowadays.  It is always  church, market, grocery store, malls and a monthly visit to my internist.  It is more on being online to update my blog on  WordPress and to update my shout outs on Facebook.  It is most of the time holding a book in my hands or reading a story on my tab. I do enjoy those quiet moments though, they are quite precious to me.

I am thinking of buying a camera. My recent Canon Ixus is dying. The screen is dark at the edges and I haven’t taken any photo for the last six months or so. It is always Nissa who sends me those lovely shots in her expensive cellphone.  I miss taking shots of my garden blooms.  I also miss gardening but sometimes it is so hot even in the late afternoon with nary a breeze to cool it off. It’s undoubtedly summer now.

It is almost April.  Gone are those days when I used to blog about month endings and beginnings. It was a religious undertaking for quite a while. Blogging – sharing life and one’s thoughts in cyberspace. I’ve always enjoyed it, turning my thoughts into a few sentences  and writing a post.

There are these apps on other sites linked at Facebook where you are asked to take (just for fun). They tell you who is your best friend in life, what will happen to you in 2017, what you will look like twenty years from now (if you are still alive, that is).  Seems as though they know too much of your life based on the  things and profile you share on Facebook. I tried one once, about Grammar and I got this result. “You are a PhD”.   I laughed. Goodness, I haven’t even taken any graduate studies at that.  I finished BSC Economics though almost forty years ago.

When tomorrow comes, we still have lots of thing to share and talk about. We still have those lovely moments to experience, we still have those days to look forward to.

 

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A proverbial question we all wonder about sometimes.

I have a friend who once felt so down because of her health.  When we are at that instance that we feel so helpless with ourselves, we get depressed. And this is so true with having issues with our health. I would like to say, “I’ve been there, done that” but each of us face different challenges every day. Each of us see problems as a glass half-full or half-empty.  Our attitude towards everything makes a big difference.

Are you having a life or mere existing?

Our life unfolds right before our eyes. We can choose to be happy or enjoy those little things that to some people are just that, little things. Sometimes though, they make us happy or maybe we just don’t see the values of a moment. We don’t understand how it is to be happy in simple things. A child’s smiles and laughter would always make my day complete. Seeing the morning sun and feeling it right on my  face is  just lovely.  Watching a drizzle and catching it right on the leaves is an enjoyable thing to do. Playing with one’s pets for a few moments is happiness itself.

Learning to do something and making it a hobby is just as rewarding. Back in the 90’s while I was still at the bank, our former boss taught us cross-stitching. That started my joy in collecting different colors of skein thread and always looking forward to see another design to do. I was able to give some  cross-stitch frames as gifts to friends and the rest are still hanging in my bedroom. There was also a time when Nissa and I made cellphone holders too.  I am trying my hand now at coloring books but then my hands sometimes are not quite steady. Nissa gifted me with two thick adult coloring books a several  colored pens and pencils to start with.  It is a lovely experience to always learn new things, more so when you have just turned 60 and a senior citizen at that.

Being brave enough to try other things in one’s life speaks of the many, many times you felt hesitant to have a hair cut, You’ve been used too long with a wavy and somewhat long tresses that you are afraid to try new hairdo.  Yes, it’s one brave thing to do.

Saying yes to people and learning to say no too in the process. Are you always this kind of person who says yes all the time but doesn’t mean half of it? Or are you that someone who honestly can turn down something and learn to say no?  When you think it is not good for you or you are brave enough to try something new. It has always been a touch and go  for many of us. We always wonder about the “what if” in our lives.

I love this quote from Steve  Maraboli.

“When you are just EXISTING, life happens to you… and you manage; when you are truly LIVING, you happen to life… and you lead.”

Does life just happens to us or we happen to life? Big questions that sometimes we just ignore. Live life and be happy.

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Some people and bloggers say that they don’t really mind if their blogs are here but stay silent in cyber space.  I do. I mean, one of the reasons why we share our thoughts is to be recognized as  bloggers  too, right? Of course it is a welcome bonus that our blogs  could be popular on their own.

I have just reached 460,000 plus visits a while ago. For me that is an achievement for this humble blog. I must admit that it is quite hard to reach a number that you would feel comfortable  with, if your blog posts  are being read. A year of blogging would not even yield a thousand visits if  people don’t read  your blog and other bloggers don’t visit it and make comments. I think the idea of blogging is to share what you are passionate about, be it simple recipes that you do on your own, photos of places you’ve been to,  things you love to write about and such other things that you want to share  with other people. I could not exactly remember when the button  Like  on WordPress was introduced but it a lovely way of showing how one is attracted and like a particular post. When I joined the Post A Day Challenge in the year 2011, I used  to get from 300-400 visits a day but that has waned over the years. Perhaps fellow bloggers and visitors  have gotten tired visiting this blog.  I can no longer see those who used to be active in posting too. Along the way, their blog has stopped. I miss them.

One feels glad when one’s blog is noticed by other bloggers. I am not one those who promote books (I am not an author)  and those who have thousands of followers in their midst. I write about the daily happenings in my life,  the illness I went through back in 2009, the journey of getting well and feeling normal too.  I am grateful for those days that lots of friends prayed for me and empathized with me.  I am grateful for those days that I was strong enough to face everything although it was a hard journey to go through. I am grateful for my family and relatives who were at my side during those days of  recuperating and getting well.

There are so many blogs that I come across about how to blog.  There are many blogs that tell you how to be a successful blogger. I think it all depends on what we want to share with the world. If our blog is public, every one could read it.  There are no sure “how to’s” on how your blog would be noticed, much less when you are blogging on a free platform just like me.

Ah, blogging.

 

 

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