tea in the balcony

I go inside and feel a wave of fulfilment envelop me – this is a place I truly call home, I think to myself.

I hear the splash of warm water in this cold January night, your voice singing along to another pop punk song, as I turn around and see the bits of belongings we acquired together to make this place a bubble of our own.

In moments like these, I look back and see how far we’ve come, and that I am exactly where I always dreamed of being since I met you.

No, it’s not perfect, and I know a lot will still have to take place, but as Billy Joe puts it, “Baby, I don’t have much, but what we have is more than enough”.

In the most mundane of days, doing absolutely nothing, my heart is at peace and I am filled to the brim with joy and ease.

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This Happened: I Wish I Hadn’t Found Out

It was still February, only a days before this post happened, when I wish I hadn’t found out about one of the biggest surprises in my life. Let me take you back to that night, and for the sake of discussion, I’ll refer to him on this post and every other as ‘D’.

It was around 9 in the evening, I was lying comfortably on the bed, fumbling on my phone trying to take a rest after a long day of work. His four-year-old nephew (let’s call him ‘G’) sat across me, busy playing on my Nintendo Switch. Just moments before, he broke my mindless scrolling on Instagram and asked me to download a game or rather a painting/coloring application which is actually quite more suited for him than those stuff I have on my console.

Preoccupied in our own worlds, I didn’t notice D leaving the room and leaving his phone beside me. I usually don’t notice such things as he rarely keeps anything from me, we know each other’s ATM PINs, phone passwords and can easily open these things but we don’t invade each other’s privacy so all these stuff just goes unnoticed. Well, until that night.

G must have painted over a couple of pictures by then and has started to learn how to create an empty canvas to draw into. Quite amused with his new discovery, he then drew, and colored happily on the Switch. G then called out to me, “Tita, picture mo ‘to. Send mo kay Nanay.” (Aunt V, please take a picture of this and send to mom.)

I would have used my own phone if it weren’t for these two things:
1. I was pissed off during that moment G asked me to send a pic to his mom because I found out that I lost my ‘G Forest Points’ completely, which I know should be full during that time.
2. I didn’t see D’s phone beside me.

I didn’t even have to put in his password – both my face and my fingerprint are registered in his phone. I should’ve stayed away from his Messenger app that night. Not knowing better, I opened the app, and yet again instead of just searching for G’s mom name, fate had it that I scrolled through the messages to look for her chat message.

I did see his mom’s name on the list of chats, but before I could send her the photos as G asked me to, my heart first lost it. It was one of the moments you’d never see coming but would change your life forever. Just a few messages above G’s mom was a reputable jewelry store specializing on engagement rings, and the most recent message says, “Thank you”. I know, I know. I should not let this get the best of me, for all I know he could simply be inquiring for a different jewelry, or a gift for his mom (it was almost her birthday), but my heart feels like it’s pounding right off of my chest. It took all my willpower not to open that conversation.

As if on cue, D entered the room and looked right at me. He knew I saw. It must have been the look on my face, or the tears in my eyes, or my shaking laughter that gave it away, but I’m absolutely certain without saying anything that we both knew. He started laughing as tears start to build up on his eyes too. We dare not interrupt the moment with explanations. Had he been just simply inquiring was enough. It meant that he had plans, and in that moment, it was more than enough.

I didn’t ask, nor did he confirm. As we lay in bed that night before sleeping, I found myself crying happy tears. He must’ve noticed because then he said, “Kapag nakita mo, alam mong para sa’yo ‘yun.” (If you saw it, you’d know it’s meant for you).

This Happened: A New Home

Let’s go a trip down memory lane to the last time I fired up my laptop and written for this blog – February. Okay, so my last post was dated February 2 talking about how it’s okay to not get everything together on your own. Irony may be lost on me, but a week after that, my long term boyfriend (then) and I decided to buy a condo. It may come as a rash decision especially for someone who just talked about not having her life together, but we’ve talked about this before, and he’s already been eyeing condominium units for quite some time already. So, we jumped in.

We’ve decided on a condominium just a few km/miles from both our families place and stay in the city where we’ve both lived in since time immemorial. I guess, we just both aren’t willing to take the plunge away from our families, and the familiar comfort of our little town even if it meant paying more. Real estate prices in Metro Manila, Philippines are over the top more expensive than those of nearby provinces.

Apart from working from home, trying to keep myself fit and well-fed in this seems to be never ending community quarantine in the Philippines, I haven’t had the energy to keep my blog updated because oh boy, I never thought about the hassle of paperworks and required personal documents you’d have to go through once you decided to buy a home of your own. Consider yourself warned, fellas.

But I’m glad to say that I’m back now, blogging from the comfort of our new home and will do some recap series of the lost months because A LOT has happened and I can’t wait to write about it here. ❀

… but that’s okay.

Independently living for two months now made me ponder and realize a lot of things – things I wouldn’t have learned if I was still living in my comfort zone. In fact, I wish they’ve taught us this in school, or that I was raised ready for it. Well, I guess, learning it the hard way makes it a bit more rewarding, or so I tell myself.

But I’m not writing this post to talk about how difficult or costly it is to live by yourself in the city, I’m here to share an epiphany I had while I was doing or not doing (rather) my household chores.

Back then, we have a helper that does most of the things around the house and the only time I help out is whenever I wake up early and without hangover on Sunday mornings. During those moments, I quite disliked how meticulous the house has to be kept but I got no choice but to do as my stepmom likes, because after all, I’m still mooching off her and my dad.

Little did I know that her thing for cleanliness would set a standard for me as I leave the nest. During the first month in my condo, I diligently cleaned everyday (sometimes more than twice a day), without fail. My 24.0 sq. meter unit is tidier than I expected it to be. I’m a tad surprised, if I was being honest – I was never one to keep my room my tidy.

But then came long meetings, tedious tasks, fatigue from working out, and bouts of sadness and anxiety from a major issue my family had to go through that hindered me from doing my supposedly daily routine. There were moments that I’d rather be lying on the bed, doing absolutely nothing but listen to my breathing rather than sweeping off that bundle of hair fall on the floor. It wasn’t a complete mess, but it was for from my standard, let alone perfect.

It went on from time to time, when my emotions got the best of me. And then one night, as I was doing the dishes that’s been sitting on my counter throughout the day, it dawned on me: It’s okay.

It’s okay to come short of your standard.
It’s okay to fall far from perfect.
It’s okay to hit and miss, sometimes.
It’s okay to stay down for a while when life knocks you out.

What matters is that you keep going, you keep trying, you keep pushing.
Dory was right after all: just keep swimming.

Not Your Ordinary Salmon

I have always stayed away from the kitchen. ALWAYS. The times I cook when I was still staying at our family home resulted to either injury, smirks of disappointment, or worse, combination of the two. It didn’t help that we still have a helper inside the house that takes care of the household chores. So when I decided to put my foot down and seek out the independent life, I had no clue how the hell am I going to feed myself.

Dining out isn’t an option for me, at least, given that the Philippines is still badly affected by the pandemic and of course, it’s gonna take a fortune to be dining out all the time. I can opt to have food delivered by meal plan businesses or from small local food stores but combining its costs will also take a huge chunk out of my budget. The best way to keep me and my wallet healthy is to learn how to cook.

It’s been almost two weeks now that since I moved in to my condo unit and after filling up my ref with groceries, I realized that I completely suck at grocery shopping. I ended up buying incomplete ingredients, stuff I don’t necessarily need (I have a whole level of my ref with beers and chips), and produces that I don’t know how long they’ll be good for.

I may be good inside the academe, I may have take on numerous tests, and even passed a licensure exam without much trouble but I am in utter surrender to the fact that I am yet clueless to the things that matters most in real life. I am taking it as a challenge and allowing myself to learn from experience, even if this feels like it’s the hard way.

At the start of my journey, I was able to whip up a truly delicious grilled cheese sandwhich and Filipino Pork Adobo. But what truly inspired me to write is the Pan Seared Salmon I did for lunch today. Not only because it ended up having perfectly cooked meat, and surprisingly delicious, it also challenged me to improvise and cook by my guts instead of the page of the recipe.

I am far from being an expert, I am not even knowledgeable, but I was able to come up with a Pan Seared Salmon with Calamansi Garlic Butter and if you’re interested, continue to scroll down.


Ingredients:

Salmon Calamansi

Butter Salt

Garlic Pepper

Oil

  1. Peel and chop the garlic cloves horizontally. Personally, I like to use plenty of garlic.
  2. Slice the calamansi in half. (It was supposed to be lemon but I forgot to include it in my grocery list.)
  3. Pat dry the salmon using paper towels.
  4. Rub some salt and pepper on both sides of the salmon.
  5. Put a little bit of oil in your pan and set the heat to medium.
  6. Cook the salmon skin side up first for like four minutes first or until you think the flesh is crusty or crispy?
  7. Flip the salmon and put in some butter and add in the garlic cloves too. Baste the salmon with the butter.
  8. Wait for another four minutes or until it is cooked (but do not overdo it).
  9. Dish out the salmon from the pan and put squeeze out calamansi juice all over it.
  10. Let it rest but serve while still hot.

Leaping Out of Comfort Zone

None of us has imagined this is how things are gonna go when the year started. 2020 took all of us in a path we aren’t accustomed with, and shaped us into a new version of ourselves, or so I believe.

When the pandemic hit and the Philippines was declared on lockdown, I was living under the roof that my dad pays for completely. Quick note: it is part of the Filipino culture to stay with your parents well until a.) you get married, b.) you rent out closer to your workplace, or c.) you put your foot down and start living by yourself. And most of the time, Filipino parents wont allow you to take the C path. As a 25-year-old young professional, I was living under the privilege that my parents paved for me. We aren’t crazy rich, but we can live comfortably, even in the midst of a global pandemic.

In a previous post, I mentioned how half of the year in lockdown took a toll on my mental health. But I opt not to discuss the factor that also affected my deeply was members of my family not taking the pandemic seriously and not doing their part on trying to flatten the curve. You see, the Philippines isn’t the country best equipped to battle out pandemics like the COVID-19 – as what happened in the earlier part of the year, our health care system can’t keep up with the demand. And for this reason, I believe we all have a civic duty to do our best to flatten the curve, not only for our own good and those around us, but also for the frontliners too, our modern day heroes.

One anxiety attack after another, I finally lost the patience and had the last straw when my family took my 70-year-old grandmother to the casino. I told my dad I’d be staying a few days with a friend to avoid further confrontation but I realized that this is a recurring issue that I have to work on. It costs me my inner peace, and I have to do something about it.

After contemplating and basically begging my dad to let me, I stayed with my mom for a few weeks while condominium hunting online. I realized that the only way I can deal with my newfound work without the risk of a burnout caused by anxiety while staying in my dad’s house is to finally get a place of my own. And for someone starting over career-wise, this is such a bold move that requires tons of faith, adding the fact that I know nothing how to keep the house or live by myself.

As one of my best friends called it, I bravely took on the last quarter of the year by stepping out, no scratch that, by leaping out of my comfort zone. And as I adjust to this new found independence, I will write about it as a series of posts. Hope you enjoy the ride with me!

Bye, Rolly!

In times of trouble and despair
when the world is dark, frightening
and heavy to bear.
When rains rage and heaven rumbles,
even as the skies hurl its terrors,
in Your tight embrace I find shelter.
In Your promise I seek refuge,
Your strength and grace I look up to –
my rock, I lay it all up to You.


I’m not the biggest believer and I have to admit that my faith needs a bit of rekindling. But in a time like this, when the Philippines is currently battling and trying to survive the world’s strongest typhoon of the year (#RollyPH), one of the things that really calms me is not the thought of the government making decisive and definitive actions (it’s damn hard to put your trust in it) but really just anchoring my hope on nature’s own way of weakening the storm and trusting in God’s wisdom and plans.

Blessed to be spared from the super typhoon’s wrath. (Staying w/ my mom until I move in to my own rented condo back in the city but that’s for another post)

The fact that I was able to still write and post right now means that I am lucky to have stayed in an area not being greatly affected by the raging storm. However a lot of our countrymen has been badly affected and whose livelihood and homes were destructed. My prayers, thoughts and help are with them. If you can spare the time to pray for them, I kindly ask you to do so. You can also try to lend a hand in this site to send relief food packs and other essentials to those in need: forthefutureph.com

Thanks and keep safe! πŸ™‚

Breakthroughs, Breakouts, and Workouts

Libra season is here and it’s slayin’

If you’ve seen this blog before, chances are you already know that I created this to help with the burnout that I am experiencing from work, to rekindle the passion that I have for writing, and also to meet people over the web who shares the same passion and interests that I have. And now three months into this blogging life, I can already notice some great changes in my daily life and I also have you, yes you — the one reading this to thank for.

In my last post, I mentioned that I resigned from my job. A fierce, bold move in the midst of the pandemic when a lot of people are being laid off and looking for work. I myself am dumbfounded with my decision but it is one that I had to make if I wanted to keep my sanity in check. With an economic crisis, this thought should not even be entertained, but after some careful and dreadful thinking, I still believed that it was the right thing to do – I have to quit my job, even without a job prospect in sight.

It might even be called reckless or stupid, but I wanted to see what I can get away with. Sometimes, life requires you to take the leap off the edge to teach you how to fly. And as the last quarter of the year started, 2020 decided to throw in an awesome plot twist my way: I got offered a job opportunity that was better than what I even hoped for.

And to top it all off, I also experienced significant improvement in terms of my mental health. Of course it hasn’t been all up to fate and the universe, I also did a lot of changes and tried to incorporate mindful techniques and other healthier lifestyle habits as much as I could in my every day life. And as it has helped me, I also want to be able to share some of it with you:

  1. Workout – With all the snacking and food deliveries that became a routine during the six months of quarantine in my country, I had to find a way to keep my body burn those calories off. I found some good and fun exercises on Youtube and on the Rebel app that keeps the endorphins coming. I’m admitting though that I still am not that disciplined yet.
  2. Skincare – I totally disregarded my skincare routine when I suffered burnout from work. Months passed by that I did not even bother to put on any moisturizer or even wash off my face with some cleanser before sleeping. I was too tired to care, and even more to function. But last month, I decided to step up my game and bought a whole new skincare set and has been religiously taking care of myself in that area.
  3. Mindfulness – I learned about mindfulness from a couple of self-help books that I was reading a few months ago but only truly gave it a try when I hit rock bottom. Simply put, it is a type of meditation wherein you focus on the present, and nothing else at all. My favorite exercises are breathing exercises as it really works like magic on me. You can also checkout a beginner guide here.

Honestly, I just wanted to share the good news and also to bring some positive light to this blog too. And if you’re reading this and need an ear to listen, or a virtual friend to talk to, please don’t hesitate to let me know. I’m also open to suggestions! πŸ™‚

Cheers to the sunrise and new beginnings!

Stick It!

I started this blog for a sole purpose – to act as my passion project as I start working on my self-care. For the first few weeks, I have tried to write religiously as possible to justify the cost of purchasing the domain, and honestly, because I am excited with the community I found here and it also was my sort of escape. However, I have been in a slump for about two weeks now not because I don’t find this fun anymore, nor because I felt lazy and decided to just quit out of the blue but because I realized that there’s more than one way to practice self-care during this time of pandemic.

A month ago, I decided to quit my job. Yes, during such a crazy time. And yet, as I am writing this, I know deep in my heart that it is the right thing to do – the job has taken the life out of me and the anxiety and the sadness (depression(?), I wasn’t medically diagnosed yet since I haven’t had the courage to see a doctor in this pandemic) that it brings outweighs the pros of staying – mainly, just my salary. It was such a bold move and my anxiety got even worse, there were times that I could not function the whole day -I would just stop and stare at my laptop screen instead of doing my job, then breakdown. It wasn’t a pretty sight. I wanted to write but I also could not find the energy to open my laptop and do it without thinking about the work I should rather be doing. I know I had to do something about it so I took a few days off from work to give myself some space without feeling guilty.

I filed for two days off before and after that weekend to have more time to gather up my thoughts and “fix” whatever it is that I’ve been feeling. I also did not tell my family about the leaves so that they’d give me my space, thinking I was working. It was during those days that I realized that self-care truly comes in different forms but it always starts with this step – you’d do something good to yourself, for yourself.

And while I’ll be talking about these newfound habits and interests of mine in other posts, I’d like to use this post to highlight the help of essential oils to help me relax during such stressful time. During the nights that I have a hard time sleeping due to the anxiety, I’d pop in the diffuser we have at home and let the lavender scent caress me to sleep. Aromatherapy is a practice that has been around for centuries that uses essential oils for its therapeutic benefit. And with the rise of the popularity of holistic living and alternative medicine, also comes the rise to stardom of essential oils. In fact, in the Philippines, there’s a term for people who uses essential oils for healing or those exploring its wonders – “oilbularyo”. The oils have different effect on the body and mind but one particular scent that I like is rosemary as it is said to combat fatigue, mental exhaustion and it smells really fresh too!

The universe’s magic also intervened as Princess from The Mindful Modus shared in her previous post that she’s recently decided to sell her own essential oil inhalers on Shopee. It was exactly what I need – a pocket sized essential oil inhaler of the scents that I already like and trust. Ordered it right away and was delivered shortly after two days.

I tried her three available scents – Dream (lavender and eucalyptus), Focus (rosemary and eucalyptus), and Breathe (lavender and rosemary). I knew before I ordered that I’d like breathe because it’s my two favorite scents from our oil collection at home but I was surprised to find myself really liking her mix of rosemary and eucalyptus for her Focus scent.

So if ever you find yourself dipping your toes on the world of essential oils and would like to test if the hype about it is real, feel free to check out Princess’ oh ma therapie! for affordable personal inhaler sticks. πŸ™‚

Replay Or Rewind

If you had a chance for a β€œdo-over” in life, what would you do differently?

At the young age of 6, I got tested and was said to be ‘gifted’ by a respectable doctor from a research facility here in the Philippines. My grandparents who were living with me during that time deemed it necessary to hone the talent that I was given with. Unlike most children my age, I did not get to experience the typical childhood life outside of the house – I did not get to play physical games with peers, ride around town on my bike, or simply have playmates. Heck, my childhood best friend is my classmate who I competed with for gold medals during quiz bees and school competitions. I was a total nerd but it wasn’t because my grandparents forced me to study or hindered me from a normal childhood life – it was because as early as 7 years old, I already liked to rise up to the challenges presented to me and they made it seem like finishing at the top of the class was a feat.

Come the end of my high school life, when we were all deciding what course to take that’ll help shape our future. I wanted to do something related to Communication Arts but everyone was telling me that I’d throw away my gifts if I pursue it. I ended up going for a ‘tough’ choice, a course everyone thinks is challenging for most, a degree worth pursuing they say – Electronics and Communication Engineering. Up to now, I don’t know what people should really be doing given this degree.

I got through engineering school even if I didn’t like it in the first place, going through each class thinking that it’s only a challenge to conquer, I looked at complex circuits as riddles to be solved. Then right after graduation, I took the board examination and passed the ultimate test. It made me proud but I wasn’t happy, I wasn’t even satisfied. And yet, my dad was ecstatic and proud of his little girl who has just become a licensed engineer. I will never forget the look on his face. For that alone, if I were given another chance, I still would have taken the degree. Even if it leads me to where I am right now – a place full of confusion.

Well, if I am to go through that again, what’s the whole point of the post? What’s something that I would “do-over” if given a chance to hit the rewind button? There’s only one thing that I could actually think of: I’d let myself experience failure. I will not be scared to lose, to fall down, and fall right flat on my face. It took me 25 years to realize that experiencing failures and rising on your feet again is its own reward and would only make success a bit sweeter. I know, there’s no going back in time, so instead of having to “do-over”, I will let this be a reminder as I continue to shape my future and face the hurdles of fate: winning isn’t everything and there’s no such thing as failures, only lessons learned. πŸ˜‰

Today, V knows the difference of being ‘good’ and being happy.


I would like to thank Think Talk for nominating for the Liebster Blogger Award and for providing a beautiful set of questions which inspired me to write this post. I feel deeply honored knowing that someone out there appreciates the things I write.