Sunday, June 30, 2013

Rambling on a Sunday

This happens sometimes: having so many disjointed thoughts in my head, all clamoring to be written down, but I don't even have an idea of where or how to begin. So they usually end up just floating away as the cursor keeps blinking and the page remains blank.

I'm struggling with that right now, as I started the afternoon with an idea of what to write, and ended up here on this rainy night, with a dozen other ways to start a blog entry that had nothing to do with my original idea.

For one, I wanted to talk more about being an introvert, especially as I progress steadily with this book. I'm now at the chapters that discuss biology, and how introversion and extroversion may be traced to how specific parts of the brain function differently in each individual. The more I read, the more convinced I am that I am an introvert who has somehow ended up in jobs that require and put a premium on being an extrovert. No wonder I haven't been immensely successful on the career front-- you can only keep a facade for so long, and your true colors end up shining through, no matter how soft and muted they may be.

Then a little voice inside me said that it would be too serious a topic to talk about introversion again, so I wanted instead to talk about the two old movies I had watched in the past two weeks:

But then I don't really have anything profound to say about these two films. I only appreciated Dustin Hoffman's talent, realized that Tom Cruise could do a movie that wasn't like Mission Impossible, and wanted to know more about the life of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. I guess writing movie reviews isn't my cup of tea, and I'm really just someone who likes to watch movies to be entertained.

And I was not only entertained, but also touched when I watched this movie today with my sister and parents:

While I felt that some characters were not fleshed out as much as I'd like, I still found myself crying during the movie's climax. I think movies with family themes just really get to me in a different way-- after all, I still cry over Stepmom all. the. time. This was a good movie over-all, and I think that casting was superb. Good job, Star Cinema!

I used to analyze books and movies a lot, and now I find that it can be so tiresome to just overthink these things. It's better to just sit back, relax, and read a good book or see a good movie!

**Photos courtesy of Google Images

Friday, June 28, 2013

On being an introvert

I happened to chance upon this book while browsing through

I haven't gotten very far along the book yet, but it's proven to strike a chord with me. It starts with the premise that we live in a world and society that puts a premium on extroversion, thus making introverts seem like second-class citizens. As author Susan Cain explains:

We live with a value system that I call the Extrovert Ideal-- the omnipresent belief that the ideal self is gregarious, alpha, and comfortable in the spotlight... Introverts living under the Extrovert Ideal are like women in a man's world, discounted because of a trait that goes to the core of who they are. Extroversion is an enormously appealing personality style, but we've turned it into an oppressive standard to which most of us feel we must conform.

As early as the first days in school, there is already a bias against introversion. Parents always worry about their child being a "loner" in school, and are always prodding them about making new friends. Teachers worry about the child that's playing alone in the corner and tries to encourage them to engage with other children and become more sociable. And I think that now, parents even enroll their infants in play schools precisely so they can become more sociable.

The book takes it one step further and shows that even in the corporate environment, extroverts are perceived as ideal employees:

We perceive talkers as smarter than quiet types... [and] we also see talkers as leaders. The more a person talks, the more other group members direct their attention to him, which means that he becomes increasingly powerful as a meeting goes on. It also helps to speak fast; we rate quick talkers as more capable and appealing than slow talkers.

But there is a danger to all this, as the book cites a "highly successful venture capitalist" saying:

I worry that there are people who are put in positions of authority because they're good talkers, but they don't have good ideas. It's so easy to confuse schmoozing ability with talent. Someone seems like a good presenter, easy to get along with, and those traits are rewarded. Well, why is that? They're valuable traits, but we put too much of a premium on presenting and not enough on substance and critical thinking.

The more that I read this book, the more I am learning that 1) I truly am an introvert, and 2) there is nothing wrong with that. I think it's great timing that I am reading this book while I am at this particular point in my life because eventually, I hope to discover how I can use being an introvert to my advantage.

Here's to always learning something new about the world and yourself!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Weekends are made for these!

I love waking up on a Saturday morning knowing that there is absolutely nothing on my agenda. The weekend is young! Time to do the things I love to do!

For the second straight weekend, I started the day by watching a DVD while watching breakfast. I have a whole stack of DVDs since we love collecting movies, and this one has been sitting in the bin for months:

It was a little heavy for a Saturday morning, but it made me all the more curious about the woman Marilyn Monroe was. She seems like such a complicated person, based on what I've learned also from watching the recently-cancelled series Smash. It was a pleasant surprise to know at the end of the film that it was based on a true story. And of course, it's always nice to start your weekend with some eye candy:

Eddie Redmayne as Colin Clark
(I have a thing for thin, lanky, geeky-looking actors. Heehee!)

I'm also in the process of updating my playlist. Currently loving this song that makes me want to start jumping up and down on my bed and shaking my head until I get dizzy and collapse in a tizzy!
"I Love It" by Icona Pop
I love it! I don't care!!! I love it!!!

And of course, there's Michelle Chamuel, who may not have won in the recently-concluded The Voice, but has won a lot of space on my iTunes. Although, I have to say, listening to winner Danielle Bradbery also convinced me that she has a bright career ahead of her. She does, indeed, have the voice (pun intended) to make it in this business. I'm just not a fan of country music, so there are only a few of her performances that I enjoyed. Like her rendition of this:

This was performed at the Battle Rounds against Caroline Glaser, who I felt had such a unique voice that anyone would be able to identify immediately on the radio. It was a shame that she didn't make it through the competition. Check out her rendition of the same song-- both versions are stellar and so different. Blake Shelton should never have paired these two! I hope someone gives her a record deal.

Have a great weekend! :)

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

What to do when stressed?

Make metal mosquitoes out of staple wires...

... And have them attend a meeting!

Watch a stupid video to make you laugh. See these goats that sound like humans, hahaha! 

End the night by watching Team Usher's Michelle Chamuel perform "Why" by Annie Lennox. Goosebumps!!! Since I couldn't find a clean video of the performance, check out the video embedded on this website: and listen to the studio version here:

Go to sleep knowing that the weekend is just two winks away! Good night! :)

Monday, June 17, 2013

God listens

Today, my prayer was for God to give me a sign. As it turns out, when you pray, God really listens and gives you more than what you asked for.

He gave me A LOT of signs.

First, there was a succession of Facebook posts on my feed about "do what you love", "no regrets", and "seize the day." When I posed the question, "Is this a sign?" a high school classmate who I really haven't spoken to since, well, high school gave me an all-caps YES. A friend also replied, "Follow your heart," as if she knew what was deep in my heart.

Then, a few hours later, I saw this photo on my feed:

Granted, an acquaintance had posted this to promote a job fair-- now just wait a minute...!

I decided to check out my Rappler app for some news and saw this article:

Add to the mix the advice that former colleagues have so generously given me about the existing options in my life, and I suddenly have a lot to think about.

One thing has been made clear to me today: that this is not a decision to be made lightly. But God will be there to guide me every step of the way and lead me down the right path.

If you could pray for me too, I would appreciate it very much. Because, after all, there is power in prayer.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Have faith

I heard Mass with my family this morning, and while I usually find myself spacing out during the readings (no matter how hard I try to listen well), a line jumped out of the Gospel and was repeated in the priest's homily: "Your faith has saved you. Go in peace."

It seemed to be God's way of reassuring me that the path that I am seeing ahead of me is the right one to take: the world of freelancing. It's a scary world. Like I said in my last entry, there is always that notion that writing does not pay well. And I have always thought that success in freelancing largely depends on how much you blow your own horn, broadcasting your talents and services, and generally how hard you work. The thought of not having a steady income to expect every 15th and 30th of the month is terrifying.

So terrifying, in fact, that when we discussed it and what it would mean for our future together, he really had this scared look on his face. I could see he was trying to be brave, and he was trying to convince me that whatever I'm going through now is only meant to make me stronger. And I said that yes, it is, but it also feels like I'm slowly dying inside (as corny as it may sound).

He isn't in a job that he loves either, but he has found ways to learn to love it. I think (and I told him so) that it's because God gave him the gift of adaptability. He is so flexible and spontaneous, he isn't very fazed when situations change. He just learns to make the most out of whatever is thrown his way. I, on the other hand, am the complete opposite. I don't adapt easily, and now I'm discovering that I need to be in an environment that cultivates me. I'm like a seed that only flourishes in the right kind of soil with the right amount of water and sunlight. I feel like there's something in me that wants to burst forth into the world, and I'm just waiting for the right conditions.

I acknowledged his fears and told him I was scared too, and promised that I wouldn't make a decision without considering its impact on our future. But when I close my eyes and think of what the future looks like, within the next ten years we will have our own place and build a family. I don't see myself leaving my child to go to work everyday for an entire day, and only see my child at night. I see myself being at home, helping this child grow, witnessing every milestone, learning to be a good wife and mother while still being productive and earning enough money for us to live a comfortable lifestyle.

I believe that freelancing will allow me to do that. No matter how scary the thought may be, deep in my heart I know that that's the way to make my vision of the future a reality. And because God knows my deepest desires, He made sure I was listening when he said, "Your faith has saved you. Go in peace."

It's difficult, but I have faith that everything will work out, and I will find peace.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Finding that sweet spot

For the past couple of days, I've been reading this book, which I've owned for a couple of years now:

The core message is that God created you for a purpose and gave you a unique set of skills and personality so that you could glorify Him in all that you do. It says that you are uniquely you, and if you won't live your life and be yourself, there is no one else in the world that can live your life for you. The world misses out on you.

Reading this book was what made me start blogging again in the first place, and if you read my first entry in this blog, the unrest had already begun. I feel that at present, I am not in a job that lets me do what I was born to do.

I'm a manager. There's a certain prestige that comes with that, and it shows people that I've paid my dues throughout the years and worked to get where I am now. It means I have a responsibility over people, to set directions and strategies. But I'm learning that it's difficult to do so when the directions and strategies you think of are not the same as that of your superior's, who seems to expect you to know  exactly what they want and execute accordingly.

I say this because I've spent most of today doing the exercises in the book that are supposed to lead me to that "sweet spot" or reveal to me my S.T.O.R.Y., which stands for Strengths, Topics, Optimal Conditions, Relationships, and Yes!. The book defines the sweet spot as "where what you do (your unique giftedness) intersects with why you do it (making a big deal out of God) and where you do it (every day of your life)." In the exercises that I did, I had to look back at my life and think of times that I felt most accomplished, times that I thought to myself that "This is what I was made to do." Even if it wasn't really part of the exercise, I thought of times that I lost myself in my own world, or times that I felt my heart was just content and I felt that everything was right.

And I realized that I have not felt any of those feelings in this job. Couple that with these lines from the book:

Not every teacher is equipped to be a principal. Not every carpenter has the skill to head a crew. Not every musician should conduct an orchestra. Promotions might promote a person right out of his or her sweet spot. For the love of more, we might lose our purpose.

Reading this book has been making me realize that I think I am ready to take a step back from this career. People are always talking about moving on and moving up, and the logical progression from manager would be an AVP or something. But I am realizing that I would be willing to step back into the ranks and give up a managerial post if it means that I will be able to do what I was always meant to do. If it means that I will be happy.

I think that I have always been a writer, and God made me that way. That I was made to tell stories, to meet people and learn from them and share things about them. I was made to encourage and inspire people, maybe through the written word. What has always stopped me from pursuing it is the belief that it doesn't pay to be a writer. That writers don't earn enough to support families and build futures.

And so I buried that skill and went off-tangent. I took a PR job that required me to write a little and explore other mediums more. The time that we did a little restructuring and I had to write all the press releases for all the magazines, I think I was happiest then. But we didn't stick with that structure because we worried about the career growth in that setup-- it didn't create well-rounded PR practitioners, only good PR writers.

I honestly haven't written anything of value in years. Maybe decades. I haven't written one short story, one poem, since college. Every time I have an idea in my head, I squash it like a bug, thinking it's stupid and no one would want to read it. As a result, I have begun to doubt my own talent. Even now, as a little voice in my head says, "Writers can get paid well now, look at all those bloggers." I think to myself, "But who would want to read my blog? Who would want to trust my opinions?"

I don't know if it was God's plan that out of all the DVDs I could've watched this morning, it was Ruby Sparks. It was about a writer who started writing about a girl he dreamt of, and then one day, she became a real person. She could do anything he wanted her to do because he would just write it, and it would happen. He wanted her to speak French? He just had to write "Ruby speaks fluent French" and voila! She did! But it became all twisted when he started writing her in order to suit his needs, and she stopped becoming her own person. She was no longer the Ruby that he fell in love with in his dreams. It got me to thinking that it only worked when he created her out of love, not selfishness. It was only through a selfless act in the end that he found his way back to her.

And maybe that's what I have to do as well, to just write out of love, not because of an audience. To try to rediscover the things that I love and write about them, no matter how mundane they may seem to other people. Maybe now that I have an inkling of what it is I'm supposed to be doing with my life, things will begin to make sense again.

All I know is that I may have been placed in this job for a reason --to learn something about myself, to become stronger, to learn to deal with difficult people who don't care about you as a person and only about the job you do-- but I was definitely not meant to be here for a long time. It's time to get ready for the next adventure.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A Short Declaration of Love

It has to be said: I love hanging out with you. I'm thankful for the friendship, and most of all, the love. I will never find someone who knows and understands me the way you do. And everyday, I thank God for bringing me to you. :)

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Tough Tuesday? Have a laugh!

Kristen Stewart rocks. She has just one look, like, ALL. THE. TIME.

Photos collected from Google Images

But the best part is, she's not the only one that has the same look all the time! Check out 15 people who look exactly the same in every photo! This appears to be a product of both boredom and genius. :))

Hope this ends your Tuesday with a smile! :)

Monday, June 10, 2013

Start with a grateful heart

Today I learned that happiness is a conscious decision. You can't expect it to just land on your lap in order for you to declare "Oh, today is a happy day." You really have to choose to find the joy in each day. The easiest way to do it, as I learned today, is to start with a grateful heart.

There was so much negativity today that I could've dwelled upon, and I would've gone through the day feeling down. Instead, I chose to look on the bright side and be thankful for so many things.

Traffic was horrendous, but we made it on time. Stuck on my side of the valley for almost an hour could've been a stressful endeavor, but I chose to chat with my sister instead throughout the ride. Plus, I prayed that it wouldn't be traffic in C5 and Ortigas, and my prayers were granted! So not only did I get to enjoy my sister's company, I also started the day believing that God will make a way when there seems to be no way.

Karma has a way of coming around quickly. Let's just say that I now believe that whatever you put out there comes back at you tenfold. So if you put out a lot of negative energy and hurt other people, all that negativity will come right back at you and you cannot expect to be blessed. On the other hand, if you shower the world with love, light, and positivity, you can trust to be rewarded with good things as well. Sure, bad things happen to good people, but that's just to maintain life's balance, I suppose. Be positive to be blessed.

One rotten apple doesn't ruin the entire basket. Life isn't perfect. You can't expect a basket to be filled entirely of sweet, tasty apples. There's always bound to be at least one rotten apple, and it would just be your equally rotten luck to encounter it. But if and when you do, don't throw out the entire basket. Because then you miss out on enjoying all of the other good apples. So instead of fixating on the rotten apple, I have chosen to be thankful for all the other good apples in my basket (even if the rotten apple's stink is hard to ignore).

This positive outlook can be difficult to keep throughout the week, but it's also exciting to face each day thinking, "I wonder what good things will come my way today." And when you find that joy in the littlest things, like seeing this on Facebook:

Photo by Jay Dimayuga, item spotted at Robinsons Pioneer

You know your day will turn out all right. :)

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Coach Usher!

It's been a while since I actually followed a show on TV. "The Voice Season 4" has given me something to look forward to every week, especially on Sunday nights like these when I watch the marathon on AXN. It's the perfect way to end my weekend.

Aside from the incredible talent on the show (go, Michelle Chamuel!), what I love in particular is seeing the way that Usher has mentored his team. I've never actually been a fan of Usher (I was surprised to see that I have a lot of his songs on my iTunes-- not a conscious choice), but after this season, I'm definitely a convert.

What's fascinating about his coaching style is that it doesn't seem to come from a place of competition or strategy-- he just genuinely cares about his team and wants them to succeed. He seems to be looking at the longevity of their careers, giving them training that they will definitely carry even after the competition.

But what struck me the most is that he is willing to get down and dirty and do the work with them. He did pushups with Michelle Chamuel during one rehearsal. He worked out with his team, literally, and even got cool team jackets made:

And now that he has only one artist left in the running, his support for Michelle Chamuel is amazing.

It's so heartwarming to see a coach who really believes in you and your talent, will even shout it to the rooftops for you, and is so vocal in their praise and pride in you. It makes me think of the mentors I've had in my life, and while it sucks that the people who are in a position to be mentors have no desire to be one, I have found mentoring (and friendship) in unlikely places.

But, man, to be believed in and loved like this:

I wish I had a Coach Usher in my life.

**All photos from Usher's Instagram account (@howuseeit).

Finding my way home

After the nth time of wondering what the hell I'm doing here, I felt compelled to turn to God (as I usually do in the most difficult moments in my life). I reached for a book I had read maybe 5 years ago, "The Cure for the Common Life" by Max Lucado, and the first chapter encourages the reader to look back at his/her life to discover his/her uniqueness. It talked about a "sweet spot", something that tells you that you're "in the zone". It tells you to look for the skills that you're known for, the skills that are uniquely yours.

And it hit me like a lightning bolt-- I am, and always have been, a writer.

I remember writing short love stories in grade school. I moved on to poetry a few years later. Then I moved back to short stories, calling them "moment stories", as they always just focused on a single moment, like time went on slow motion just to capture that unique moment in time.

Beyond the creativity, I have always turned to writing to express how I feel. I kept journals on my darkest days, and a diary as early as first grade. I have always liked to document my life and I try to make sense of my life by writing things down.

I kept good notes throughout schooling. I understand things better when I read them, remember better when I've written it down.

It all seems so clear now, that the past few years have meant I have somewhat lost my way. Instead of writing, I ended up in a PR job. Granted, it has helped me become a more well-rounded individual, forcing my introverted self to come out of my shell and learn the art of small talk and building relationships. That particular job also helped me move beyond writing as a medium and learn about the over-all art of storytelling--which, I realize now, has also been a recurring theme in my life. After all, how many times have I uttered the words, "Kwentuhan mo ako" or "May kwento ka?" or "Anong kwento?"

I have gotten even more lost now in this current job. Why did I not realize earlier that I have always been a reluctant leader? That I dreaded working with a team because of all the personality clashes and power struggles? That I am much more content working on my own than telling people what to do-- how many times have I been hurt by the accusation that I am too bossy, too much of a know-it-all?

Truth be told, I have no desire to work my way up any kind of ladder. I would be willing to give all of this up to be able to do what I really want to do, which is write. And travel, if I could. But reality sets in and I realize that in order to secure my future, to build the kind of life that I want for myself and my future family, I need the money. And this job allows me to earn enough of it.

Now I realize why I have been feeling dead inside-- because I have not been writing. It has been a very long time since I wrote anything. In my past job, I wasn't really writing; I was churning out requirements. It was all technical, clinical, nothing that came from my heart. Now I am faced with the challenge of waking up my sleeping heart, dusting off the dormant writing skills, and basically start living again.

I have said it time and again as I try to start yet another blog. That this time I will keep at it. This time, I will write. Yet it never happens. Now I have an idea why-- because blogging always presupposes that I have an audience. At the back of my mind, I am thinking of what would be interesting for people to read. And when I think about my life and realize that there isn't really anything interesting to share with others, ideas die and blog entries never materialize.

Now, I am writing for myself. I am writing whatever comes to my mind, no matter how incoherent or insignificant it may be, no matter how long the blog entries get (after all, my thoughts are forever running and merging into new thoughts). The point is not to entertain others, not even to entertain myself. The point is to wake that sleeping side of me, that side of myself that has always been waiting in the sidelines while I lose my life to being a corporate slave.

This blog isn't really for you, whoever is choosing to read this. It's really a road map on my journey home to my real self. It's simply for me.