Tuesday, July 30, 2013

On going freelance

Well, I finally went and took the plunge-- I am officially going freelance by the start of September.

I seemed to have God's go-signal, as my cousin sent me the link to an advertisement for a seminar: "How to start a career as a freelance writer in the Philippines". Held in an accessible place at a convenient time for an affordable price, it was like all the stars had aligned so that I could attend this.

And so off I went to 47East in Esteban Abada, Katipunan on a Saturday morning, excited to learn more about this path I'm about to take. Though many had signed up, only four people had arrived. Which I actually liked better because it made the discussion more casual and free-flowing.

It was definitely an informative morning, as Ime Morales, founder of the Freelance Writers Guild of the Philippines, shared tips on how to get started, as well as the types of opportunities available out there. It wasn't a step-by-step procedure or anything, but more of points to consider if you truly want to pursue this path. As I am slowly realizing, freelancing is bound to teach me many things about myself and how I really want to live my life, as I am in control of everything for the very first time.

So the talk really helped set the direction for me, and I now need to think of the following:

What's my specialty?
Based on my previous career, I would say writing press releases, personality features, and feature articles. I enjoy doing interviews and telling a story.

But based on my writing style, I believe I'm also capable of writing corporate materials like brochures, manuals, and content for company websites.

The seminar taught me that it's important to have a specialty so that it will be easier to be top-of-mind when clients have specific needs.

What are my fields of interest?
Again, if I were to base it on my previous line of work, it would probably be local show business. But really, I like travelling, reading, and watching movies. I've just never really tried writing about full-length reviews about places, books, and movies. I guess now I'll have the time to try.

Knowing what interests you is important because writers have to be credible. The only way to have credibility and engage people with your writing is to be truly interested in your subject, because your interest and passion really do show in your work.

How much is my work worth?
This was the most eye-opening part of the seminar. Although I haven't been as allergic to numbers as the stereotypical communications major, pulling numbers out of thin air to make costings has always left me beffundled.

Thanks to the seminar, I learned first to create a quota for myself. I examined my monthly expenses and determined how much I would need to earn in order to meet these obligations.

Then I decided on how much time I would have to work in a day (which then multiplies into number of hours in a week, then in a month). As tempting as it is to say that I would only work for two hours a day and spend the rest of the time sleeping and basically just bumming around, the seminar also taught me that freelancers need to have an incredible amount of self-discipline, and treat yourself as though you were treating an employee. Whatever standards of excellence you would have as a boss in a regular workplace must be applied to yourself now.

So yes, I made my computations based on an eight-hour workday, five days a week. Just as my weekends are sacred to me now, I feel I must continue to keep them sacred even as a freelancer. Now that I have an hourly rate in mind, it will be easier now to gauge how many projects I will need to take on in order to prosper.

Where can I find opportunities for freelance work?
Here, I realized that I am lucky to have friends in the right places. All I need to do now is get over my shyness and announce my availability to the world.

And when the opportunities come --as I have faith that they will-- I have to say yes to everything in order to really establish myself. My mantra now is "Newbies can't be choosy", and I'm ready to take on all the jobs that I'm capable of doing without sacrificing my health.

As much as this path is scary and unpredictable, and while I've always feared the unknown, this is the first time that I am excited to face a blank slate in my life. Maybe it's because I know I am blessed to have family and friends rallying behind me and believing with me that I can do this.

So I'm keeping the faith, high on optimism as I count down to September. 😄

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The process of letting go

I've done quite a lot of reflecting in the past few weeks, and one thing I've realized about myself is that once I say the words "I give up", there is absolutely no turning back.

As it turns out, I tend to put up with quite a lot and still not let go. Just a look at how my past relationships (romantic and otherwise) have played out, and I wonder how I could have hung on as long as I did.

Back then, it was the heart that whispered for me to stay. The mind had all the reasons to leave, but the heart refused until such time that it, too, realized that there was nothing to stay for anymore.

This time, it is the other way around. I thought I could tough this out. I thought that I could just psych myself into adapting, into not letting things get to me, into putting up with the present by keeping the future in mind. But the heart and even the body feel differently. And as always, in the end, it is the heart that always wins.

In all of this, I've learned that you really need to listen to your heart. You need to look at how you feel when you wake up in the morning and when you go to bed at night. Basically you have to ask the question "Am I happy?" and be as honest as possible when you answer. Of course, it's naive to think that life will always be a bed of roses, but I believe that in spite of all the challenges, you still have to be able to go to bed at night knowing that at your very core, you're still happy with your life and how it's playing out.

While the other aspects of my life are going well, this has been eating away at me. And when you take into consideration that more than half of my day is spent here, while I only get to see my loved ones a few hours a week, I don't think it's right that I'm only happy a couple of hours a week.

And so I begin the process of letting go, of wrapping up loose ends. It's like I've been deep in the heart of a very dark tunnel, and now I begin to walk slowly towards the light, to a brighter albeit unpredictable future ahead. And I begin this process with God by my side, because if there's one thing that has been getting me through all of this, it has been the daily pep talks with Him, the little prayers thought and whispered, and feeling His love and presence through the support of my loved ones.

Finally, finally, I'm beginning to see the light.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Words of the Day

An enlightening conversation yesterday revolved around two words:

To express something in words

You're very good at verbalizing your feelings. That's because you're very cerebral, and that's how you cope. You're able to gather your emotions, make sense of it, then verbalize it-- "I'm upset because..." or "I'm sad because..." or "I'm happy because..." It's one of your strengths, how you're able to communicate very effectively what you want and how you feel.

To express psychological conflicts through somatic symptoms
E.g. Some people somatize-- they have all kinds of body aches and pains that their doctors cannot explain.

The problem is, in your environment now, you're unable to verbalize your feelings. It's like a cork has been put in place to keep you from speaking up, to stop you, to hinder your growth. And so you've kept it all inside. You've kept quiet, you've buried your feelings, you've stopped verbalizing.

That's why your body is somatizing. Your body feels warm, your pulse races, your acidity acts up, you feel nauseous, you get headaches-- all of these things are your body's way of expressing that something is wrong, since you're unable to verbalize it. And it's not healthy. It's not healthy at all.

When you wake up on a Sunday with an anxiety attack, and you have to remind yourself, "It's only Sunday, relax, it's not Monday yet, you're still okay..." Something is terribly wrong.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

On family, childhood memories, and growing up

I'm in Cebu for the weekend because we have a new baby in the family, and I'm her godmother. If for the past week I've been thinking about the gift of life, this weekend has me reflecting on family and my childhood, and how it has all affected who I am today.

The couch has been reupholstered, a new TV and an ottoman have been added, a carpet has been removed, but I look at this living room and remember lying on that couch on lazy December afternoons, reading a book while the rest of the house took a siesta. I remember the years when we had power interruptions that lasted almost entire days, and we whiled away the time here by playing cards and memorizing statistics of Marvel characters using those collectible cards I'm not sure they still sell.

The godmothers are ready for the baptism! We have been best friends all our lives, and we have been through all sorts of adventures together. During the baptism's reception, we were observing the new generation of kids and silently doing the math, realizing that a few decades ago, that was us. Two little girls two years apart, playing happily in our own little world. And in a lot of ways, we're still those two little girls today-- still having conversations only we could have with each other, still lost in our own little world.

Of course, whenever we would be in Cebu, our little world expanded to include one more person. Together, we have memories of playing Nintendo Family Computer, sneaking chocolates from the refrigerator until we finish the whole bag, daring each other to finish a gallon of water under time pressure, watching Beavis and Butthead on MTV until two in the morning, and having conversations in our own bubble. And now he's a dad. Even more amazing, the lady holding his child in the photo is the same lady who took care of him when HE was a baby! She was so surprised to see all of us all grown up, just as I, too, am surprised sometimes when I realize how much time has passed.

And now we have a next generation of children. My beautiful goddaughter here has grown to be a lovely young lady. I remember carrying her around when she was three, a time she no longer remembers. She's very smart (and tall!) for an eight-year-old, seems to have a good head on her shoulders, and is even saving her money by putting it in the bank. I was watching her during the baptism and saw how she was just so excited by everything, how happy she was to be playing with her cousins. She was just living in the moment, and I longed for those times when you could just be fully present, feel pure and unadulterated joy, and not have to worry about anything at all.

We still have a full day ahead of us, and I'm trying not to think about flying home later this afternoon. All I know is, I would love to come home to Cebu more often and --more than reminisce about the good times that made up my childhood-- see this new generation of children grow. 

Especially this little girl, who slept through her own baptism and had no idea that all the festivities last night were for her. It was so interesting to see that while she would cry (which always sounded more like a long squawk), she would also easily calm down, so easily pacified. It makes me wonder if it's a trait she will carry later on in life, if it's telling of a chill and steady personality that's just littered with a few outbursts here and there.

This little girl I'm privileged to call my goddaughter.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Life is short.

Somebody from the office just died. We weren't close, didn't even have to work together, but I knew she was young and therefore taken way too soon. She died because of a brain aneurysm and multiple heart attacks, and left a husband and two young kids behind.

I find myself tearing up at the realization that God can take you anytime, so quickly. It calls into question my own mortality: what have I been doing with this precious gift of life that I've been given?

You tend to go through life thinking you have so much time-- time to fulfill dreams, time to make decisions, time to meet up with friends. But the truth is, we never know if we do indeed have time. Maybe God laughs at all the plans we make because He knows better.

She was going to watch a movie with her kids that day she collapsed. She was fine on Friday, went about her work, gossiped with officemates. Then in just one weekend, everything changed. Her young family's life will never be the same.

Not that I ever doubted the saying "live each day as if it was your last", but this has put things into perspective and makes me take a look at my life and the way I spend each day. Do I show the people I love how much I love them? Do they know it and feel it? Do I go to bed happy, knowing that I did good today? Do I spend my energy on worthwhile endeavors?

Life is such a precious gift, and it shouldn't take someone's death to make me realize just how true that is.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Travel bug

"I need to get away," he said to me one night. No place in particular, but preferrably to a place where we would need to ride an airplane.

So it got me to thinking about our options. Since he doesn't have a passport, it should be somewhere in the country only. I have the following options in mind:

Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte
I went here for the first time in 2007 with my friends, and would very much like to go back. I remember having the beach all to ourselves, and I think he would like seeing the windmills.

Panglao Island, Bohol

My family and I went to Bohol a few years ago, but we stayed in the city and only went on a day trip to Panglao Island. Since he loves the beach, it would be best for us to stay on the island and just bum around at the beach the whole time and take a day trip to see the tarsiers and the Chocolate Hills.

Bantayan Island, Cebu
Sunrise from Maya's Resort

This was our first out-of-town trip together and I would love to go back. But this time, I would like to stay along the beach strip so that we can go on a food trip like many suggest we do next time.

Basco, Batanes
This has always been my dream, but he may not like it because it's not a beach place, and we run the risk of getting stranded there due to unpredictable weather.

Pearl Farm, Davao
I had only been to Davao once for work, and it would be great to go back for leisure. Some former officemates went there years ago and really enjoyed their stay, so I'd like to experience it myself.

If only we had a lot of time and money in our hands, we would travel the world for sure!

**All photos are taken by me. :)

Monday, July 1, 2013

All in the timing

Be patient. Good things will happen, all in God's time.

I posted this status on Facebook today, and a lot of people liked it. I actually posted it as a "note to self" kind of thing, trying to stay positive in the face of everything happening now, so I'm glad that it has also touched people somehow.

I really do believe that it's all in the timing. When I think of this, one thing always comes to mind: the way my life's love story has played out. I sometimes find myself thinking, "Why didn't I meet you sooner?" and I realize that we were meant to be together now-- not in high school, not in college, but now.

After all, when I look back at who I was in high school, I don't think he would've been able to stand the petty, unreasonably jealous, overly-dramatic Me. The one that liked fighting over the phone and slamming it down with so much passion, only to call him back to say, "Why aren't you calling me back??" The one that blew things out of proportion and just turned everything into a big deal-- everything except the things that really mattered. So no, we would not have lasted then.

It would not have worked out in college either, when I found myself defined by a relationship and didn't think of establishing my own identity outside of it. The short-sighted, naive Me that supported dreams and ambitions that didn't really include me, yet still believed that this love was forever. The one that said yes to everything and adjusted to everything, just to avoid the drama.

The right love entered my life at exactly the right time: when I had learned the lessons I needed to learn, when I had an idea of who I was outside of a relationship, when I knew just how I wanted a relationship to be. It came at the point when I realized that relationships are not perfect-- he's not perfect, and neither am I. That it takes a lot of work to stay together, and we have to be willing to make the effort to appreciate each other and always be grateful for one another. That there is a way to fight with each other that is fair and not hurtful, that makes you a better person when all the tears have dried. That love isn't just all the warm, fuzzy feelings inside, but takes root in deeper things like trust, respect, and friendship.

Any younger, I would not have learned those lessons yet. Any older, we might have missed each other and grown in opposite directions. We got together at a time where we had gone through experiences that made us who we are, yet we were still young enough to do a lot of growing up together, constantly evolving into better versions of ourselves.

When I look at us and see what a good thing we have going, I know that God brought us together. And if I only hold on and have faith, more good things will enter my life and bless me in a similar way.