Category Archives: sacred shares

Hello? Can you hear me now?

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Sound-check-1…2…3, check! @The Fairmont York, Concert Hall. 2013 Nov 24

How about now? 

Now?  ^_^ Well hello there and welcome back!

Sweet Success.  We all want it: success in our family life and in our careers. We make goals: physical, mental, spiritual and everything in between. We may very well achieve every goal we set for ourselves. By the age of 28, I did.  Or so I thought.

The missing link is literally just that: The LINKs.  I was missing the connection. 

You see, embarrassing as it is to admit, I understood success all wrong.   I’ve learned the solo style, lone ranger version.  Long story short, it’s shitty and sad and downright dark and depressing because it’s so damn hollow, like the inside of a rusty old drum.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, I was blinded by the bling-y version life.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with going for the bling. You want bling? You go get it, darling! Except that you cannot be happy and I mean truly happy when you succeed and play with all this bling alone.

Sweet Connection.  Do you like sweets?  Me, too.  Here, I’ll give you life’s desserts with a cherry on top:  There are people who are willing, able and actually want to support and help passionate and committed you.  I’ve learned, later than sooner, that we must receive this help graciously because in bringing others in, we are helping them too!

To be clear, I am not talking about paid help. Not hired assistants, employees nor managers. I am referring to folk who will sit with you when you’re feeling drained and overwhelmed and confused.  (Read: dramatic and suicidal.)  Friends who will hold your hand and hug you and sometimes give you the much-needed batok when you’re in your level 7.2 bitch-mode.  Folks who will continue to love you even if you’re crying and whining like a fx#8ing baby because you had to bite off more than you can chew.

“You’re so afraid to take a bite off more than you can chew. Don’t be afraid, you won’t have teeth, when you reach ninety two.” – Doris Day, ENJOY YOURSELF (It’s Later Than You Think)

The Other Side of The Sweet.  I belong to the Just Smile Sweetly generation.  You know, the one where when things are bad, your folks tell you to just ‘grin and bear it’.  When things get worse, well, Just Add Syrup.  This made for a lot of very confusing and painful emotions growing up.  I’ve learned that we need to take the bitter with the sweet by not denying that it exists.  Too much candy’s not good for you anyway.  We take the good with the bad.  Hiding the bad behind a goody-two-shoe persona and a perfectly painted, albeit fake, scenario never works.  Not in the long term, anyway.  (See Brené Brown’s TEDTalk on Vulnerabilty)

What works for me is this thing called allowing for more openness.  Quite hard for one hardwired to keep it all in, lock it all up and throw away the key.  But I’ve proven, time and again, that keeping it all in makes for some very ugly implosions.

Word of caution though: Be discerning about whom to open up to.  It takes smarts – both from the head and heart – to choose whom to share life’s ups and downs with.  It’s not that hard to find them.  The right people, your peeps, are all around you. If you look with your heart.  For those of us who were trained in the more left-brain leaning, logic-filled reasoning, this isn’t more challenging.  I had to go through so much reprogramming in this regard. Here’s my solemn promise though: Trust your heart and the right people will show themselves to you.  If not right away, sooner than later.  Trust in that.

At this point in my blessed life, with all its ups and downs, I can honestly say I’ve found my peeps.  Funny thing is that they’ve been there all along!  Friends from way back nursery who I can count on any time, any season, I know they’ll be there for me and I for them.  Family, oh blessed family, most who I took forgranted during the bling-y years – sorry for my momentary blindness and thank you for your patience with me!

It’s been almost two decades of pig-headedness slowly unlearning the bad habits: holding back/off/away.   I’m just back from a full month and a half of playing the diva dervish, and yes, enjoying some of the bling that life brings, and here I am sharing my adventures with family and friends.  Some days were divinely delightful.  Other days completely damned and drama-ridden. Overall, a flipping WIN-filled last quarter of 2013!  Being able to share it with my most trusted and beloved connections is the best feeling ever!
Courage in Connected Creativity,

680d7-chiquisiggysmallsmile

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Project Bayanihan at Max’s for the ABS – CBN foundation international’s Sagip Bayan fund. Nov 22.

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(l-r) up: Joy, CP, Chriss, Bing, down: Oying, Maro
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[Fiction-writing* practice] For one more day

What saves a man is to take a step. Then another step. ~ C.S. Lewis

It’s all a beautiful mess. ~ Danielle Laporte | Instagram | March, 2012

She was feeling the same old resistance again, along with the the mild disappointment of writing in blue ink.

He forgot to get the Uniball Signo 207 pens. Black.  Only black.  How hard was that to remember?  To read off of the short list of 12 items?  How hard is it to do for one who asks for so little?  She complained a lot.  She caught herself going into the self-pitying places.  She caught herself just before jumping off the edge and stopped.
She remembers dinner the night before.  Remembers the dull white of the carbohydrates on the blue and white ceramic plates.  The IKEA bowl is filled with beef stew in red tomato sauce, vegetables hidden – chopped cremini mushrooms, processed broccoli and celery stalks seasoned with turmeric powder.  She remembers to take out the lemons from the fridge to squeeze on the kids’ fruit tomorrow.  She must avoid the browning of those perfectly sweet, organic apples from Walmart.  She must remember to give them their full doses of Vitamin C on these cold winter days.  The Thermos bags remain smelly.  She decides they’re bearable for another couple of days.
She worries about the self-cleaning oven, the one that always threatens to burn the kitchen down.  She frowns at that bully of an oven lock that holds in the over door hostage and only lets it go after two hours, three if she’s obsessing.
It is morning again.  She likes to twirl her freshly shampooed, Conair-curled hair around her left index finger while she writes.  Hair finally manageable after a decade of stressing over how to get the thick, black, unruly hair in place.  Ben, her Ricky Reyes salon stylist since her teenage years intermittently complimented and complained before every single show.  Always in one lush breath, “It’s so makapaaaaaal!  It’s taking me soooo long!  I wish I had your hair, ‘dai!!!  You’re so laaaaacky!” always ending these swishy declarations with a toss of imaginary long hair off his thin padded shoulders.
She snaps out of the reverie and turns to her son sitting across from her at the breakfast table.  He’s home with a cough, eleven now and growing bigger, wider, chubbier around the waist.  He’s gotten fuller in those pink cheeks with the darling peach fuss.  Soon the non-moustache will become darker, she imagines.  She notices the crumpled red and black cotton shirt, the one that says No Fear on the chest.  The flat iron and board are neglected in the spare room in basement, never used in all the five years they’ve been living in suburbia except for that one time when the borrowed pink piña shawl needed to be starched to a crisp for the Fiesta Filipino concert last June.  Those need to be returned to their rightful owner, she tells herself guiltily.  She remembers how she’s forgotten for almost half a year now.  She remembers how she’s forgotten how much of a decade’s worth of worthless things are still in the over-stuffed cellars, storage rooms and mice-infested garage.  She vows to let everything go this spring.  All of it.  2012 is the full spring-cleaning year and she recommits with resolve.  She momentarily doubts this will all get done…without hiring outside help.
It is ten thirty in the morning now.  She decides to walk over to her office, the blue benches by the man-made lake across the street.  This loon-filled reservoir has the power to calm the crazy loonie-minded mother-of-three living under the forty four year old dry, flaky, winter-weather beaten skin.

She was spent but happy after the walk, ecstatic even, after photographing some more geese, gulls and taking in the wide, open spaces.  She is tired but will not be able to rest much, not today, because after clearing the morning’s clutter in the kitchen, doing a load of laundry and folding while watching the Ellen Show and a quick lunch of a chicken sandwich with humus and sugar snapped peas thrown in the mix, the 2:45pm alarm will be quacking to pick up the kids. 

She opts for the smell of fresh-baked Pilsbury croissants and chocolate chip cookies to clean her cluttered home for one more day.  She joyfully serves this to her own hungry birds after she gives them their lunch of chicken alfredo pasta.   Kitchen Helpers are called helpers for a good reason. 
A quick gulp of caffeine from a can of Coke Zero momentarily heals her sagging spirit.  She smiles at the irony of how a zero-calorie drink with pseudo-sweet black-gold poison is able to fill her hollowed soul.
On the walk to the school, the second one for the day in the sun-drenched frozen-solid stretch of street, she quietly marvels at how a thirty-minute morning walk and bird-watching early in the day is able to revive a life.  For one more day.  She says a quiet prayer of thanks over how a thirty-minute long distance phone call can save her messy kitchen, her midday meal and consequently her mood.  For one more day.  She finds the grace of gratitude softly landing, finally arriving and she smiles.  For one more day.
She takes another deep, full breath.  For one clear moment, this calms her million-mile per hour mind.
For one more day.

Near-sighted/Far-sighted | Instagram | March 8, 2012
Courage in creativity,
Chiqui | “instasahm” on Instagram

*or is it now?  😉

i even took notes!

You know the saying “When the student is ready…”?

For my fellow left-brain leaning, excuse-riddled (no time/no resources/no support/no fill-in-your-favorite-cop-out-story) closeted, recovering creative out there, this I lovingly and wholeheartedly dedicate to you.  And me.  

Ready.
Set.
And she appears…go, Master Brene Brown.

I was so riveted, I took notes this time around.

I first saw this talk about a year ago, when it first came out.  It made the rounds of my favorite bloggers and for some reason, it didn’t really connect.  Or maybe it did.  But I forget.

Anyway, it’s such a beautiful message that I’m posting it here so I can have access to it again and again, especially during those days – like todays – when I’m feeling down and blues-y and crying over a text message from my mom all the way from Manila, right there in the middle of Aisle 7 of Walmart while shopping for Chocolate Mice ingredients for Oona’s class party.

And yes, bravely admitting vulnerability: I’m embarrassed by it which is why I’ve chosen to be quiet and reclusive these past few weeks.

Why are you down when it’s the holidays?  You should be happy!
Why are you down when you’re so blessed with so many things and people and experiences?  You should be grateful!
Why are you down when you’re ______ and _______ and _______?  You should be ________!

All shameful, guilt-ridden and utterly useless thoughts.  But they’re there.  And they’re dark.  And they’re inner recordings from voices beyond time and space that I’ve been once taught to hold in, keep hidden, ignored.

Echos of voices that need to go now.  But only if I let them go with grace and with dignity.  And yes, with vulnerability.

Yes, I did the ugly-cry in Walmart last night.
Yes, I feel so kawawa and homesick that I have to take naps in the middle of the day from being so low-batt.
Yes, I go into emotional eating binges late at night, vanilla cupcakes being my favorite, when I feel like I can’t take the heartache anymore.

Yes, I spoke with my mom and dad today and they said all the right things and we cried together and it’s all better again.  For now.

Hello, vulnerability, my dear old friend.  I’ve missed you so.

So, you go Dr. Brene with your measuring stick.  🙂  Thank you so much for sharing your wholehearted findings with me.

Courage in creativity,
Chiqui

Morning. In 3’s.

“7 o’clock by my window”/Dec2011

I found out that there weren’t too many limitations, 
if I did it my way. 
– Johnny Cash

6:30AM.  Snooze 1.  6:40AM.  Snooze 2.  6:50AM.  Get-up 3.  Chug water.  Wash face.  Brush teeth.  Moisturize.  Robe-up.  Pocket iPhone.  Turn on kids’ rooms light.  Bring water bottle.  7:10.  Turn on lights in hall.  In living room.  In kitchen.  Make coffee.  Choose cappuccino.  Add brown sugar.  Clear dining table.  Put toys away.   7:20.  Set journal.  10-minute timed writing.  Go.  Keep hand moving.  Sip coffee.  Write.  Sip.  Write.  7:31.  Tinker with Twitter.  Upload photo.  Tweet about writing exercise.  Fail to upload.  Later.  7:35.  Go back upstairs.   Wake up J.  Wake up kids.  Quick back rubs.    Ask for help.  “Make sure you get up already, hun.”  “Ok, hun.”  “You up?”  “Yes.”  “You sure?”  “Yes.”  Go back to kids’ rooms.   “Wake up, guys!  It’s 7:45!”  Go back down.  Review food requests.  Shrimpy rice for Kid2 and Kid3.  Beef tapa rice for Kid1.  Strawberry Choco sand for 2.  Chicken baloney w/ cheese for 1.  Green apple slices w/ choco dip for 3.  Fruit cup for K1.   Wash strawberries.  Wash blueberries.  Spray with veggie wash.  Let sit.  Crack 6 eggs.  Add milk.  Season.  Scramble.   Get pancake mix.  Add milk.  Crush half an oreo in batter.  Fry. “Guys, it’s 8!”  K1 is first.  “I don’t want to eat yet, Mom.  A little later please.”  Request for cereal.  I make him scrambled rice instead.   8:15AM.  Serve scrambled eggs.  Serve pancake.  Put cereal boxes on the table.  Alpha Bits for K3.  Cinammon Toast Crunch for K1 and K2.   Heat left-over rice.  Add sweet and sour shrimp.  Heat tapa.  Pack in thermos.  8:25AM.  Set aside.  Make sandwiches.  Remember to make self toast.  12 grain.  Take one bite.  Forget about it.  “Help me pack the water, Oona.”  “I’m getting a fruit cup, Mommy.”  “Go ahead, honey.  No need to tell me.  Hurry.”  Pack lunch bags.  K1, K2, K3.  “I’m leaving, Mom.”  “Take your sister with you, Sol.”  “Aw, do I have to?”  “Take care of each other, Sol.”  “Oh, okay.  Let’s go, Oona!”  8:30AM.  “Where’s my kiss?!”  Smooch K1.  Smooch K2.  “Joshim, where.are.you?!?”  Comes down.  Slowly.   “I was brushing, Mom.”  Calm and relaxed.  Socks in hand.  “Joshim, hurry!  1!  2…2 and a half…”  Grab socks from tiny hands.  “Mom, did you know that my race car is ready for painting…”  Act interested.  I’m not. Help put on socks.  “Mom, is Baba dropping me?”  Help with jacket.  “Listen, Joshim, find your spider gloves and black touk okay?”  Remind him a second time.  “Ok, mom.”  Help with vest.  “Not that one, Mom.  I want the matching one.”  Grab matching one.  Help with touk.  Help with gloves.  8:37AM. 

My “Elephan3” playing on the carpet

Grab boots from outside.  Help with shoes.  “Joshim, close the door, I’m freezing!”  J starts car.  Help with bag.  “Chapstick. Put some on, ok?”  “Ok, mom.”  Smooch 3.  8:40AM.  “I love you.  Now hurry!”  “Bye, Mom.”  “Bye, honey.“  J winks.  I’ll be back, hun.  Be ready to drop me at work.”  Wave goodbye.  Throw flying kisses.  Close front door.  And breathe.  See shoes and slippers all over.  See big mess in kitchen.  Big breath.  Straighten mess.  Bigger breath.  Take in the quiet.  1…2…3.  Rinse and repeat.

Psssst….hey, hottie!

Can I let you in on a secret?

Ohhh…kay, it’s a secret that can be shared with other cool, creative, kindred spirits like you and I.

You ready?  It’s called The Spark Kit.

 

I dove into the first chapter full-on this morning.  So far I’m loving what I’m seeing…hearing…feeling.  Danielle Laporte is whitehot spot-on and aligned with my thoughts on creativity, on courage, on living more authentically.  Let’s dive into it together.

I’m a big believer of continuous learning.  Yes, there are days – many days – when I stumble and forget the lessons.  At times by circumstance, always by choice.  One of my favorite quotes from Zig Ziglar is this:  People often say that motivation doesn’t last.  Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.  Wapow!  So true. 

Learn and relearn.  Rinse and repeat.  If there’s anything my Daday taught me, it’s to be open to learning at any age.

I’ll be writing a more in-depth review in the coming days as I go along with the program.

I just love finding teachers, especially the kind that rock the mompreneurship!

See you later, sparkles!

Love,
Chiqui

happy now?

After the morning rush…

I saw it in the mirror.  Just after I closed the front door.  After I waved goodbye and threw flying kisses at them as they drove out to their day.  I saw it all – the unwashed hair indisarray, straightened by me two days ago and now looking fried; the tired, puffy face with pale skin from lack of sunshine, the six year old apron stained in a hundred places with the front pocket torn in the top right corner.

Another dream-come-true, eh?  Another Probinsiyana Makes It Abroad story, yeah? 
Away, far, far away from the pungent smells.  Away from third world strife.  Another
dream board completed, check box ticked, To-Do List xʼd.  And aaamen.

Happy now?
I hear it in the humming of the 6 ft refrigerator.  The one like Tita Ellenʼs with the water and ice dispensers.  Iʼve dreamed of having a fridge like that ever since that
summer vacation.  We were invited to my aunt’s home at the Subicʼs naval base.  I was in highschool.  It was always filled with imported strawberries and shiny Macintosh apples and oh, cream cheese!  Philadelphia Cream Cheese that we almost always never had enough of in our little island in the south.

Donʼt get me wrong.  Please know that I loved Davao City.  I still do.  I once fantasized about going back home to my pearl in the South, just at the height of my very successful career when it’s all shiny up front yet bleeding guts and gore from the just
behind the scenes.

Davao, a place of many awakenings for me.  This is where I woke up to nature, to the coconut groves.  This is where I was exposed to all kinds of music from the happiest – Mom and Dadʼs Salsa days, to the saddest Imelda Papin ditties and her tears on TV…)  This is where I woke up to art and swimming.  This is where I first fell in love with the sea.  I miss my ocean water so much, her warm embrace, her salty air, her
way of cleansing everything.

But everybody kept leaving.  Leaving for Manila.  Leaving for the U.S.  Leaving for a land of plenty.  Somewhere.  It was always somewhere.

And here I am in the Land of Somewhere.  Here I am in the great Land of Plenty – plenty of dishes to wash.  Plenty of mouths to feed their bowls of Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Kraft grilled cheese sandwiches to.  Plenty of laundry to wash and fold and sort that makes the whole house have that balikbayan-box smells.  Downy, the smell of the dream.  The smell of ʻabroadʼ.  Here.I.Am.

Happy now?

I remember sitting at the bottom of a large makeshift stage.  Front row.  Bamboo chairs in the middle of the basketball court.  I was six.  My nanny, Manang Alma right there beside me with her big, expectant smile and missing teeth.  I remember seeing singer after singer in their bright colored sundresses with bright, big flowers, always with flowers for the girls and shiny, sparkly, half unbuttoned shirts or crisp barong tagalog for the men.  They took the stage accompanied only by a singular electric guitar that was amplified way too loudly.  I remember the male and female announcers with their broken English and Visayan accents which I had.  “Isnʼt it a meera-col…thank God for a meera-col…!” was how I sang it, the Stylisticsʼs song “Miracle” which my Tita Myrna said I loved as a child.  I remember clapping wildly after each song and imagining me in my flowery dress, me…not them, up there in the center holding the microphone.

Fast-forward twenty years later and I am up there.  Up where the keg lights burn bright, where the crowds cheer the loudest and where the stream of flowers is unending.  I left a lot of flowers in my day.  There was just too many to hold.)  I am energized, ecstatic, elated beyond words.  But only while the lights blazed.  They always got turned off. Always.  With the turning off of each spot goes the feeling of flight.  The bigger the venue, the bigger the crash.  I tried to find my salvation in books, boyfriends and booze. No.  Scratch the last one.  I was too probinsiyana, too prudish for boozing then.  Too scared and righteous to even try more than one glass to find my flight of freedom.

So I quit.  I quit that life thinking I was too good for it.  Truth be told I felt it was too good for me.  I chose to not break through the sound barrier and covered my pretty made-up face with a soft quilt and lay my perfectly salon-styled head of hair on a softer pillow.  I lay down to sleep for a decade. 

Happy now?
The stiffness in my limbs are almost unbearable now.  The ache in my heart too heavy to ignore.  I am beginning to wake up again.

Again, it calls, that unnamable yet undeniable It that beckons to all of us.  Like my once three year old child asking, no, telling me at the end of her favorite story “…again, mommy, read it all again.” 

Again, like the dawning of a new day, sun rising from the East.  Always from the East.  Always day after day.  Again.  Again.  Again.

Another dream please, It whispers.
Another mountain expedition, It teases.
Another bungee jump, deep sea dive into the unknown.

You want to soar again?  Feel the flight of freedom again?  Feel the hurt of too much game again?

Are you sure about this?  

The last voice is not from It, thatʼs for sure.  The gremlins have arrived, I see.

I donʼt know, I say to myself.  Iʼm not sure.  Let me take one more look in the mirror, my mirror on the wall, just in case Iʼve missed something…a smile…a feeling…of flying…soaring again…

Happy now?

CPA
30Nov11

With much love and the biggest thank you hugs to my girls for the power-nudge to go ahead and share this — > Joyster, Oyingirl, Marojam and Crissy.  I love you, my sisterhood.  Creative mamas need sisters, too!