Category Archives: inspiration

My New Beginning…

Don’t you just love plane rides?!  I do, I do!

1476158_10201063590531954_1003069799_n There’s just something about subsonic speed and being 30,000 feet up in the air, hurtling through the clouds that makes writing more exciting and grand.

So here I am!

Joy is our producer, Ms Gigi Borromeo’s cousin.  We’re a couple of excited mamas enroute to Orange County where we’ll be spending the weekend with friends and family for two reasons: 1) to celebrate the gift of music; and 2) to honor this gift by fundraising for super typhoon Haiyan victims. It’s a humble and most heartfelt effort that started with a very different story. You can follow the story here.

In two hours, we will be landing in sunny and warm California.  Buh-bye for now Toronto’s freezing weather. Buh-bye beloved kiddies, all three of them were still sleeping in their warm beds when Joy and I left home at 4:30AM this morning.

Buh-bye beloved asawa, who I missed as early as last night at the dinner table while having the sweet and sour noodles with beef and veggies.  I’ll be missing you for four days and three nights, my darlings.

I am declaring the official beginning of The Work todayIt is the sprouting of seeds I planted back in 2004. A full decade of many prunings and re-plantings blossoming into The Work.

It’s all about resonance. Teachers (and they come in all forms) hold up a mirror for you in just the right light, at just the right moment, and you just happen to catch YOUR reflection in it. They are strumming chords that are strung in your heart. You had it, they just tickled it. Your truth collides with their truth and you have an a-ha moment. – Danielle LaPorte

The deepest desire of your heart since Day One is alive and deserving of life and light!  I had to find this through sheer grit and gnawing at false beliefs and ideas.  Thing is only YOU can give your desires life. Inversely, you can let it wither and die in the cold.  The muses plant the seed, then free will needs to kick in. It’s up to us to water and care for the seedling.  Yes, my dear, I speak from my very own ups and downs.  My downs were so bad that I had unexplainable afflictions – like itchy, crusty eczema on my thumbs, just the thumbs (I know…weird!), sore throats every other month and this low-grade fatigue I felt daily whether I had full rest or not.  Living life without honoring one’s passion makes for a very blah*full (as against the bliss*full) existence.


My ‘wild ride’ began when I heard the four-letter command right there at the St. Mary’s church grounds alongside Jeanette who accompanied me. I have not gone to church for a while, make that a very long while. The clear-as-crystal command was: SING!

So I gave my three-letter word reply: YES. The see-saw, step-yes-step-no life was getting old anyways so I finally got tired of that and picked one.

Funny that, as soon as I replied in the affirmative, my Facebook friend, Ms. Gigi Borromeo offered an invitation: Come to Fullerton. I’ll help produce a show for you! We need to have a benefit show for the Marian Missionaries in SoCal. Are you in? (See how funny and punny God is? He even threw in the two Mary’s in the mix just in case I miss it again!)

There was no iffy-ness about Ms. G’s invitation. Oh, I’ve had tons of those in the past. (Something about water finding its own levels…me iffy = experiences iffy.) So, fresh from the Command order to SING just the weekend before, I said Yes!  That plan however went kaput due to US work visa issues. However, it morphed into something more expansive. And if I may humbly add, evolutionary for me. You see, I received another offer. This time to help raise funds for another church, St. Norbert, in Toronto. I subsequently inquired with a lawyer, a university schoolmate, for help regarding the US visa matter. He said, “That’s bad news, Chiqui. You’re not going to risk coming into the U.S. without a valid work visa.”  And as we were chatting about the recent earthquake in Bohol and Cebu (wala pang hangin ni Yolanda noon) he mentioned his fundraising event for the cause and suggested I do the same here in Toronto.

I believe that everything, in the grand scheme, happens for a good reason. We sometimes don’t see the good right away.  OK, I most times don’t see the good right away.  But it always flows towards that direction in the end.  The very pull to this page is a sign that there’s something here for you. And for me, too.

I believe it is this connection right here, and the many others like it, that will open us up to the next chapter of our lives. I’m ready. I know you are, too.

PS:  For tickets to my upcoming shows, please click on images on the upper right. Do RSVP @

Courage in Creativity,


Continue reading My New Beginning…


Super Serendipity Sunday (or When It’s Time…)

The day was Friday, and just like any other morning, I woke up thinking of the following things: what to pack for the kids’ lunches, which coffee to brew, Vanhoutte’s hazel vanilla or Nescafe’s house blend, and how the heck I can overcome the daily resistance of the dreaded morning workout routine which seems to get harder and harder every year!

Oh, there’s another thing that’s been added to my morning’s running script in my head: What songs am I going to sing for my show in California in November?!?

So  I went to the bathroom, but before going, I glanced at my phone’s prompts, a daily habit now, and briefly saw it: (paraphrasing)

 On Twitter: It seems like the red-headed cat is alive and well.  Thank you @chiquipineda for sharing…. and I thought to myself “Hmmm…Twitter.  I’m hardly on there.  Who could be tweeting me this early…” and then let the phone go, went on my business and didn’t think about it until later that morning when I was more awake.
It turns out, this tweet was from my favourite kick-a** teacher, Steven Pressfield’s team!
The full story is right here.
Today, another serendipitous moment hits me.  Of all people that my favourite speaker of inspiration, Oprah, no less, would have in her SuperSoulSunday for today, it would be, who else, but Steven Pressfield, but of course, right?    Like, can it be anybody else?!?  😀
Everything Mr SP shared in today’s show I’ve heard at least a dozen (and a hundred and two) times already.  I’ve had his book, The War of Art by my bed, in my bag, and in my iPhone – yes, I got the audible version as well – for years now.
Last week, I excitedly grabbed the follow-up which is Turning Pro.  I was, at first, momentarily disappointed.  The book was not on my which is my go-to source of books.  I hesitated.  I was going to wait until it was up.  It was going to be up sooner or later.  But something inside me said “Go.  No more waiting, Chiqui.”
And so I did.
I got the substandard – no fancy audible techie tags (read: a bit disorganized) and more expensive version on Kindle.  But I remembered this, too: When the (God) Voice says “Go.”, you go.  So it’s 3x the price, so what!  I put Thrifty Chiqui to sleep.
I haven’t stopped listening + reading since that day.  I haven’t stopped getting nudges since that day.
This now brings me to the moment of Universal Truth that Mr. Pressfield and many other life teachers share about one’s passion, from William Hutchison Murray ~
“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”

I’ve been ignoring my signs for a very long time.  My closest and dearest will tell you how many excuses I’ve made, how often I added all sorts of drama to the mix and frankly, it gets boring after a while.  Thank YOU, to you who have listened, supported, put up with me.

And the signs are everywhere.  They are always strong and super-soul*full if and when we allow it.
The KEY is exactly that:  Allow it.
What signs are you noticing in your life?
What keeps popping up over and over, again and again, like a broken record CD?
And more importantly, this:
Are we paying attention yet?
And if I may have your attention for a few more…here is my very personal love offering to the world these days ~ Our California Show is a go. Nov. 15, Friday, Dance Pavilion in Fullerton, OC is a go!  To reserve your tickets, you can call/viber Ms. Gigi Villavert Borromeo @ 1(714)699-6143. It’s a small venue (150-200pax) so grab your tickets now! 😊👍💃🎶
Always, above all else ~
Love and Courage in your brand of creativity,
Chiqui Pineda-Azimi
Thank you, Ms. Oprah Winfrey and Mr. Steven Pressfield for the Work you do in this world.

The Red-headed Cat (or What’s Your Life’s Metaphor)

In his book, Turning Pro, Mr. Steven Pressfield (The War of Art, The Legend of Bagger Vance, Do The Work) shares a story from his younger years about this particular cat that used to stare him down when he had his dinner at this rundown rental he used to live in.

Almost every night, as he sat by the cinderblock steps out back, this red-headed cat would come out from his side of the woods where he lived and just sit and stare at Steve, as if to give the vital message of how pathetic his life had become. At this point in his hero’s journey, Steve had come to terms with his hiding and avoiding his true calling: writing books.  He knew he was making up excuses and BS ones at that.  He’s been a trucker, an apple picker, a taxi driver among many other odd jobs, divorced, and was basically watching his life swirl slowly down the great metaphorical drain one miserable year at a time.

Redhead (let’s name him that for now) he recalls, would not even take the dinner scraps that he would toss out across the distance to him. “He was nobody’s pet.” and made sure he knew it.  In this staring contest, Steve continues, they both who was boss. Both knew who was in control of their lives and who was not. Both knew who had the upper hand.

Redhead sat there there, staring, daring SP to do it already.

Redhead was Steve’s life metaphor.  He says,

“I miss that cat. I missed him nights he didn’t show up.  I miss him now.”

So, as I was making the kids’ third (and 458th) chicken/bacon sandwich for the school lunches, after frying four eggs – two sunny side, the usual for Joshim and two scrambled, Oona’s special request; as I just finished wiping down the breakfast table and by chance, glanced out the sliding glass door of my kitchen, as I looked across the crab grass and weeds growing in our backyard, I had the sweetest sight of my morning :  a shock of bright red-orange against deep, dark green. 

Redhead.   My Redhead was right there.  This time he was facing away, back towards me, and immediately I knew it was him.

And this time with a message for me: “I’m here. And I’m watching you.”

As I opened the sliding door as gently and quietly as I could, he turned his big, round head and faced me and just as he did with Steve, stared at me for a full minute unmoving as if in a dare:

What now, Chiquita?

I knew. At that very moment, with Steve’s words and all of the 94 chapters of the book, MY book, Turning Pro still ringing in my ears, I knew.

My own life metaphor was staring me in the face.

Like Steve, and I imagine like you, we’ve all had my very own version of “slow-swirl”.  Thanfully mine hasn’t been Steve’s version of miserable.  Though you know what I mean when I say there’s that empty, hollow feeling, almost like a hole in your heart from all the hiding and feeling self-doubt and shame.  There were years of not singing a single song, all because I was…what?  Afraid of trying again.  I felt and allowed the fear to take over. I’ve had my own share of making excuses. And now…

My Redhead. He’s watching me.

Of course I took a photo:


And I didn’t wait another minute and shared it with Steve. Yes, we’re definitely on first-name basis now. 😁 His simple “That’s him!” email reply to me this morning got me sharing this with you today.  And just like that I am a giddy fan all over again.

Thank you, Steve.
Thank you, Redhead.
And as always,
thank YOU for being here and keeping me company on this journey.

Here’s to YOUR life metaphors.  May they come at you with the same red-orange, Red-headed intensity and make you write your own version of your Turning Pro story.

What’s your *cat*, *dog*, *life metaphor* telling you today?


{This post is dedicated to Steven Pressfield and all the other teachers in my life.}

With love and courage in Creativity,

***Update: News Flash*** | Sept. 27, Friday, Mr. Steven Pressfield and his team posts this on both his Facebook and Twitter accounts!  I, of course, died and went to crazy-fan heaven.  The end. 😘

Work + Love: two words we don’t see together very often

a downtown window by the bus stop
a downtown display window by the bus stop.

i was so happy to finally get out of the house and grab me some proper Me-time yesterday! the last time i went to the spa was…naku, last winter pa yata! my sister-in-law, joliet, and i drove to yorkdale, parked our cars there, and then took the subway downtown.

we ended up in body blitz on king street east by 11AM. after registering and getting the first-timers’ tour, i was buzzing with glee especially as my tight muscles touched down onto the first of the four pools of the water therapies : the dead sea pool.  ahhh, bliss!  my mommy-stress officially floated up and out of the building right there and then.

Continue reading Work + Love: two words we don’t see together very often

Day 25 | for the queens in my life

©KatShots | Queens Park: Blur | iPhoneography
I’ve got nothing for you today.  
Nothing note-worthy.
There’s just too many moving parts.  
Too tired.  
Too much.
To do.
I’ve got nothing for you today.  I think.
But Elizabeth Gilbert of the Eat.Pray.Love fame and the Ideas At The (Sydney Opera) House) does:  
“Women are very hard on themselves and I feel my message is to constantly remind them to relax that grip a bit.” 
©KatShots | Queens Park: Clear | iPhoneography

Courage in creativity (and relaxing the grip),

Here’s to the real you

I love that. I love anything that reminds me that I have permission to mess up and I always love a good Go Ahead And Mess Things Up permission slip from hot mama Danielle. 
Today is not going to be about mess-ups, no ma’am, because today, we’re talking about Jian.

I listen to Q with Jian Gomeshi almost everyday, 99.1FM on the car radio on my way home from the gym.  My husband, Jack, knows that I have a big crush on this guy’s voice and over all talent.  The smart brain behind the soothing sexy voice is a turn on, he’s got this velvety, mellow tone and bonus points for him being funny and witty and cute! 
He does get a mood going some days and I catch that. (You should see this one interview with funnyman Russell Peters where I thought at some point they were going to slug it out right there on the screen…so much tension and undercurrent and testosterone. Whew!  Or maybe that’s just me.  *wishful thinking?*) But, see, I respect him more for being authentic about it. Done are the days of the automaton announcer with the agreeable, bobbing head and monotone voice, thank you very much.
Anyhoo, Jian and I – yes, we are on a first name basis and when he interviews me on the show someday I will gush about this again – have lots in common.  Well, sorta.  We’re both immigrants.   His parents are Iranian and they moved here to Toronto from London.  My parents are Filipino and although they didn’t move here, I did along with my husband and kid.  We both love music and the details behind the songs (rock for him, classical and pop for me) and most importantly, we both think that perfection is overrated.   (I can’t wait to tell him about my 100im.perfect.songs project!  One day…one day soon!:)) 
The last bit about perfection made official my Crush Connection with my Radio Romeo. On this short, barely four minute blog, he shares his opinion on how Beyoncé unnecessarily (allegedly) lip-synched the National Anthem during President Barack’s Inauguration and in his words (Jian’s, not President Barack’s) ~
We’re obsessed with perfection…the quest for perfection pervades nearly every aspect of our lives…and yet perfection does not reflect the natural state of things. Imperfection is the far more common condition…and possibly, the more attractive disposition. But we’re frightened of our flaws, of the very thing that make us human. But, hey, wouldn’t it be okay to hear a bit of a blue note, or a little waver at the towering crescendo of the Star Spangled Banner and a few less meticulously tuned vocal gymnastics….”

Gush. I love a guy who is a manly man (I think?) yet can shift to a heart-centered, more emo*full state in the same breath.  Now, now, notice how Jian takes a breath in the oddest yet cutest points in his sentences?! *more swooons*  

See, here’s what I’m saying ~
The old stereotypes are now broken, thank You, God. The mainstream media is now beginning to embrace imperfection more and more. The old standard pitch-perfect, glitch-free, Simon Cowell approved renditions of songs is no longer the only preference (As long as you don’t sound like Russell Crowe in Les Mis, that is!) and the macho man persona is dead. Hallelujah! I’ve been praying for that one for decades!

With authenticity as the new cool and passionate enthusiasm, the new hip, I believe we are coming into heaven on earth and the whole End of the World (as we know it) circa 2012 could have been the best thing that ever happened to our species of late!
And with a few more words from my cutie pie, Jianiepie, before I go ~ 
“Here’s to imperfection. To the flaw that makes things beautiful. To the magic that comes from the unexpected…”
An imperfect macro shot of a perfect pink rose that sits on top of our kitchen table.
Just for you!
Here’s to the real YOU,
DailyTruthBombs are owned by Danielle LaPorte.
Q with Jian Gomeshi rights owned by CBC Radio, 99.1FM, Toronto.

12 Things | It feels so good to connect with you again.

Jan. 15, 2013 @ Sheridan Nurseries Limited, Mississauga ©KatShotsPhotography

Jan. 15, 2013 @ Sheridan Nurseries Limited, Mississauga ©KatShotsPhotography
Thing 1 ~ I’ve fallen in love – hard – with macro photography.  I’m head-over-heels and like a fellow photographer friend, Zeetzjones said, “Naku, may naa-adik na.” which is Filipino for “Oh my, someone’s getting addicted.” 🙂

It’s really one of the healthiest kinds of addiction, this business of creating things, don’t you think?  I use the Squidcam and am very happy with the results.  Many thanks to amazing macro artists Teresa Franco and Maria for showing me the way.

Potted pink flowers I got myself – that’s right, I got these for me! – and then photographed with my then brand new Squidcam.  Used the fisheye on this one.

Thing 2 ~ Celebrated Birthday #45 this week!  First, we surprised the kids and pulled them out of school midday to have a birthday brunch with us at our favorite Sunset Grill.  Then J and I took off for our reserved overnight stay for two at the Old Mill in Toronto.  I was extra-happy-dance-happy because Samantha at the front desk moved us from a King Room to a large Suite!  I say a little prayer of thanks to the gods of upgrades and relaxing and fun moments for this. 

Suite 503 had a receiving room with a desk and a stereo that was already playing my favorite classics (plus points for that, Old Mill!), a living area with a fireplace and heavy drapes…DRAPES and many lamps all over.  I love a well-lit room.

We also had a kitchenette and dining area with and a table for my writing toys, of course!

Mega plus points for the whirlpool in the very large bathroom practically the size of my office. 🙂  It had the jet bubble thingies, baby!   

We are definitely coming back, Old Mill, thank you very much. Next time with the kiddos.  You have exceeded our expectations in a grand way.  I just love when that happens.  Bonus when it happens on your birthday!

As I was saying…45th and right smack midlife, assuming we reach the 90’s, and no crisis here, Thank You.  Well, let’s wait ’til menopause and see how it goes then.  I’ve heard a lot of close-to-horrible accounts from dear girlfriends about how it can range from uncomfortable to downright unbearable, those heat-flashes and hormonal imbalances and mood swings!  Which is why I’ve decided, wholehearted to embrace…

Thing 3 ~ My Green 2013 Plan!  It all began with little aches and pains here and there.  Elbow, what’s that annoying ache you’re showing me today?  Tennis, anyone?  Man, I don’t even play the game and I have what?! Tennis elbow?!?  Jack says it’s a condition that’s quite common and gives me his standard “Don’t worry about it!” He then bought me an elbow brace to wear during my workouts.  Sigh.  My sweetheart.  Thanks, my love.  It still bugs me though.  There are other pains, I suspect are psychosomatic and chemical imbalances.  Then there’s the fogginess one can’t shake off even after mugs of coffee!  Some people will conveniently say: Ah, we’re just getting old!  In a great part, true.  But my gut tells me, both literally and figuratively, that it’s the abuse I’ve been putting my body through all these years!  The Pinoy diet isn’t exactly a healthy one.  I’ve loved on my Spam and Sarangani Sardines and Palm Corned Beef, the longganisas and crispy patas and bacon, oh, I love you, bacon.  Salty-sweet deliciously umame poisons from childhood eating habits that need to be controlled if not completely removed from our diets now.  We know better, we do better, right?  My grand plan is to fight back with everything I’ve got.  

Enter, The Vitamix. 

Yes, it deserves that much reverence, this thing some call the “Lamborghini of Blenders”, for what it’s done for me.

Big thanks, too, to my positive and beloved influences like Myrna and Grace who have shown me the value of eating more raw foods and greens and the carb-less/no-carb way, I’ve been at it for almost three months now – first with my  

Hamilton Beach blender and last month, this powerhouse got me gobbling down gloppy green smoothies  which, I swear by the green gods, has given me much  more clarity and a better, firmer handle on my moods.  Bad foods, especially carbohydrates/sugars, simply bring out the monster in me, plain and simple.

One of my regular morning smoothies: grapes or apples, kale, half a banana, bell peppers, pineapple, almonds and flax seeds.  Blended to 10 for a smooth and velvety green and nutritious glop!

My present-favorite Sweet Cherry Tomato soup recipe.  I simply add a handful of tomatoes and parsley or basil.  After blending to a fine liquid, I add it to my already sautéed garlic and onions in a pan.  Light and fresh and very yummy!

Things 4 to 11 ~  My toys. They make me happy.  ^_^

Anybody who says grownups can’t have toys is one very sad body.  Toy #1, The Premium Sketchbook, I discovered while browsing the paper section at my happy place, Chapters.  The pages have perforations so it tears beautifully for when you want to give your artwork as gifts to friends and family.

Toy #2, I like the Staedtler triples fine liner that doesn’t get dry even when you leave it open for days and isn’t that amazing!  Especially when you have little ones who love to borrow your stuff and forget that pens have caps. :p) along with the newly discovered Faber Castel Pitt Artists Pens in 4 sizes: S,F, M, and B.  S being my favorite because it’s super fine!  

The colorful paper Toys #s 3, 4, 5 and 6, I found at Walmart while searching for just the right family calendar for the kitchen.  I love the colours and designs so much that I got the whole set: the 2013 planner with pockets inside for papers (for work), the weekly planner (for family activities), the project planner for all the projects I dream-up and will make real in 2013 and of course, the journal which keeps my morning pages.  I was smiling so much that my dear J thought I was going just a bit nuts “over paper”.  You’ll never understand, my love.  You’ll never quite understand.

Toys #10 and #11, the iPhone4s now has its twin Squidcam attached to it at all times got more interesting and fun because of it.  Same with the iPad since I got the green case for it.  It used to have a sturdy but boring black case for it.  Color does add life to things.  

Thing 12 ~ I love snailmail!  

Here are some of the birthday goodies I got this week from dear friends from all over:

Eternity Scarf from Zeetsjones and Wanderfoot

My very own “Fat/Calorie/Guilt-free” handmade chocolate cake from my BFF-since-U.P.-days, Myrna V. 

My BFF also made a moustachioed
 mug cozy for the Hubster and cute Angry Birds characters and a pink donut for the kids!

Rediscovering the simple joys of snail mail in this lightning fast world of instant messaging is something that I’m very grateful for.  I cherish Vina’s inspiration on this one – she’s been doing the the Swap project for a while now.

I’m ending where I started, with these inspiring words from Seth Godin’s latest book, The Icarus Deception ~

We are all artists now, and the connection economy we’re living in relentlessly rewards those who do work that matters.  Okay, you knew that.  So why aren’t you?

For a long time, I stopped connecting, and let the monsters take control.  It’s time to start again (and again and again) and it feels sooooo good!  The writing and sharing are their own rewards.  

Looking forward to connecting with you more and praying to God and Her muses that this continues in 2013 and beyond!!

Courage in creativity,