Of Trees and Huge Doors: Masasa Beach Adventure

It started as a way of escaping, but as it turned out, running away would not be the story that I’d be telling. Instead, I’d be writing about a dream-like sort of happiness that I would treasure in my heart for as long as I can treasure something.

The morning before I left for the trip, the atmosphere at the house was amazing. I woke up very early to clean the house, write a mother’s day letter and surprise my mom. When she saw our surprise, her mood was great and it lifted everyone else’s spirits. We even had a nice little chit-chat over breakfast where she said something I needed to hear (about a certain something I’ve been panicking about for the past few days).

Basically, the morning allowed me to calm the storms in my heart that would’ve been excess baggage if I didn’t have them sorted out. So, I guess I could say that I left with a light heart, ready to be filled with all the love the world would give me.

Gims and I met up at SM Lipa around 12:00 NN to buy groceries. Ate Jen followed later on after her church service.

Since the transient house we went to provided plates, utensils and cookware, all we really had to worry about was the food we were going to eat and some essential toiletries. With a budget of PHP 600.00 we were able to buy food good for three meals along with snacks.

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Lunch time! Let’s fuel our stomach before a long journey.

After our errands, we met at the terminal to eat. We were in a hurry since we wanted to beat the 1:30 PM deadline we set for ourselves. (Surprise! Surprise! Ate Jen was the one who packed the lightest among the three of us.)

We boarded the bus (PHP 35.00) to Batangas Grand Terminal for about 20 minutes. Coincidentally, during the ride, a shark movie was playing. Looking back, I’m glad that it wasn’t some sort of premonition! (We requested Kuya to play a certain Marvel movie next.)

When we got to the terminal, we rode a jeep (PHP 40.00) to Anilao Port next. Since a lot of people were going there, we had to squeeze in with the rest of the crowd. For me, that meant leg work since I was barely touching the seat and the ride took about 30 minutes.

After the jeepney ride, we had to walk a bit to get to the port. There, it was buzzing with people going to Masasa and people with cakes and flowers (who were probably going home to spend time with their moms). Our original plan was to buy rice and water there before boarding the boat but because we were so caught up with the excitement of everything and everyone, we forgot about it and just proceeded to line up like everyone else. We paid a PHP 30.00 environmental fee and then went into the Island Express (PHP 80.00) (going to Tingloy Port).

According to Ate Elvie, the landlady of the transient house we stayed at, there are boats that could take us directly to Masasa. But, since we didn’t ask around and we were caught up in the moment, we just followed the crowd and rode the boat they went to.

It was my first official long boat ride (I rode once already in Tuguegarao but that was barely 10 minutes long and it wasn’t in a big passenger boat). I prayed the I wasn’t the time to get seasick because I really love the sea and if I was a seasick kind of person, that would be horrible! Thankfully, I didn’t get dizzy and I even loved the waves crashing against the boat, rocking it to the rhythm of the music in my ears.

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Commemorative photo of my first boat ride! (Sorry Ate. I couldn’t get any other photo.)

The boat ride to Tingloy Port took about 45 minutes. Once there, we rode a tricycle (PHP 40.00) for about 20 minutes until we reached the area where the transient house was located.

The overall travel time was roughly two hours, not counting the waiting time.

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The three of us with Ate Elvie! Thank you for letting us stay.

The transient house we stayed at was Ate Elvie’s. We stayed in a room good for 3-4 people, ventilated by a wall fan. The house was very clean and spacious, with a kitchen, dinning room, living room, terrace (with karaoke), bathroom, outdoor kitchen and nipa hut. Ate Elvie was also very accommodating, giving us travel hacks and helping us with our food and water concerns (because we forgot to buy them beforehand).

After unpacking, we headed straight for the beach. It was late afternoon by then so the sun wasn’t too harsh on our skin and we had just enough time to enjoy the water before the sun would set.

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Tucking my glasses in my pockets 🙂

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Masasa beach in all its sunset glory

After swimming, we headed back to the house to clean up and cook dinner. Thanks to our teamwork *winks*, the night went on nicely. (Just as inside jokes I want to remember, I’ll be placing keywords here: water, cellphone signal and storytelling.)

We retired to bed soon after. Our room had a twin-sized bed and a twin-sized cushion so it was a good fit.

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Good night, loves!

The next morning, we woke up unbelievably early. Unlike what we were used to, the sun in Tingloy rose really early. It looked like it was 8:00 AM when in fact, it was just 5:50 AM. We got up because it was already bright out and we didn’t want to burn daylight.

After eating breakfast, we went snorkeling (PHP 100.00). Ate Elvie knew a boat man, Kuya Ariel, who guided us for that activity.

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Aboard Mr. Suave!

From the pre-boat ride photo shoot to the lagoon trip, Kuya Ariel had been incredibly accommodating. We went around the beach to look at corals, fishes and even sea turtles! (It was just saddening to see human waste there too. It didn’t belong there.)

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Snorkel away! I felt like a mermaid tbh.

After snorkeling, we had a few minutes to take pictures and enjoy the lagoon bay. Unfortunately, we had to hurry back because the waves were getting a little too strong for the boat.

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We’re on the edge. Anchors away!

Instead of going back to the beach, we went back to the house first. (Inside joke keyword: keys.) We then sang karaoke and ate our merienda/lunch. Time flew way too quickly so we had to pack up and travel back home.

Initially, I thought one long weekend would be enough. But, as we were getting ready to leave, I would find any excuse to stay one day longer. The two days, one night vacation, to me, was some sort of reverting back to nature and tapping into its energy. It was a moment free from inhibitions, worries and insecurities. It was, in essence, simple living and feeling.

All vacations end, and as I ended this one with me dragging myself home, I closed it with both heaviness and lightness. I have been shown kindness and wonder once again and so I look forward to when I’ll be back.

For reference: Total expenses per head (food, transpo, accomo, snorkeling) – PHP 1,100.00 | Transient house contact: Ate Elvie – 09171359977

 

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8 Phases of an ISFJ Existential Crisis

(Note of warning: I am in no way an MBTI expert nor am I really knowledgeable in Psychology concepts so this is merely me trying to find a way to frame my thoughts. Expect hasty generalizations.) The world views ISFJs as cookie and milk giving grandmothers who basically hug everyone they see. That may be true to an extent (*nods in the background*) but that’s not the whole picture. ISFJs get swallowed by their dark side too especially when they drown in their own existential crisis (*nods more intensely*).

  1. Listlessness – For someone who has a certain order for things, you begin to stop remembering what day it is. You don’t mind time all that much. Later, you forget writing to do lists and just go about winging it. You’d mistake this spontaneity as excitement or something good because it feels different that you don’t feel yourself slowing down, slowly unbecoming until you don’t know where to place yourself.
  2. Confusion – How is it that you’re suddenly not okay? It doesn’t feel like depression, at least not yet. But what does depression feel like anyway? Why are you thinking about depression? You love so many people. You are loved by so many people. How can a person who receives and gives so much love feel this way?
  3. ‎Unexplainable Sadness – Rock bottom tastes like salt and you are out of water. (You talk in poems because you can’t figure out and say what it is that’s bothering you.)
  4. ‎Two Souls – To crawl in your hole or to run away? To cease to exist or to stay with people you love? To rot in bed or to put on makeup? (What is it that will make you feel better?)
  5. Passive aggressive release of “anger” – You feel that the world has wronged you (or at least someone must have one way or another) and you want to get back at it/him/her/them. But you’re nice. Nice people don’t do revenge. (But you can’t help but wanting something for yourself for a goddamn change.)
  6. Validation – You need to hear it be said. “I love you”, “I miss you”, and “I need you”. But you won’t ask for it. You’d just hope that someone would take the hint.
  7. “Dramatic Change” – Logic flies out the window. Screw it. You make an impulsive decision. (And sometimes, this means hurting yourself or someone else.)
  8. ‎High-functioning Routines – Okay. After going compeletely out of line, you are awake. The nothingness and sadness has become tasteless already and you’re ready to be kind again. (Maybe it’s your destructive way of recharging. After all, all this love must come from somewhere.)

Back to work, ISFJ!

17 Lessons of 2017

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As I scrolled down my newsfeed, looking at all the 2017 memes, I thought to myself: “So this is what it’s like to not relate to new year posts. I like it.”

Photo credits: Sarah Andersen

Around this time last 2016, when I was doing the same thing, I was one with the general sentiment of the public – we had been beaten down to a pulp, surprised by plot twist after plot twist, taunted by everyday existential crisis and we just couldn’t wait for the year to be over.

I’m glad that now, I actually feel different about the year that was. By the grace of God, it has been amazing and life-changing for me. Rather than relieved, I’m ending the year feeling extremely grateful for all the chances I was given and for all the love I’ve received.

2017 was a year of growth and learning what it was to dream again. It’s about winging it and discovering that I could fly. And most importantly, it was about people, rooting my heart in them and understanding how it was to build and belong in communities.

(One important milestone: I started teaching this year. Though I originally planned to teach later in my career, God called me to teach this year and I decided to give it a shot. Best decision ever!)

With all that said, I’d just like to share a few lessons I learned from this past year:

  1. Leave toxic relationships. – When the year started, I was still in a state I didn’t want to be in. I was slowly losing myself – I could feel it – but at the same time, I was scared to do anything to regain myself because I felt like I was merely walking away instead of moving forward. Eventually, I realized that that was the thing about toxic relationships – they will make you feel like you need them, like you have no choice to be with them, like you would be a coward if you leave them. But those are all untrue. You can learn from them and go on with your life. You don’t have to be stuck in a situation where you are unable to grow and be yourself.
  2. Climb your mountain. – This applied to me both literally and figuratively. (Shout out to Team Tagaktak!) Though I’ve only climbed a mountain once this year, it was enough to wake me up and get me going. Physically exhausted, I thought that I’ve reached my limits. But, with good company and motivation I never thought I had, I reached the summit. With this experience, I learned to believe in myself, to believe that I am capable of taking charge of my fate. (It was this climb that pushed me to leave and take a step into a new direction.)
  3. Start your dreams now. – Maybe it was the climb or the desperation. I don’t know. But this year, I learned that you make your perfect timing, so if you have a dream, pursue it.
  4. You are your best self. – I actually reached a state of being this 2017 where I loved everything about myself and my routines. I was super caring about the welfare of those I loved. I took care of myself too. And I was doing everything to the best of my abilities. I called it my best self. Unfortunately, my best self was only good for two to three months, and when it wore off, I was so frustrated at myself. It took a while for me to understand that I am my best self. It’s all within me. I just really have good days and bad days but that doesn’t negate the fact that I have become this person that I can now love and forgive.
  5. Anchor yourself in people (no matter how scary that might be). – One of my biggest struggles this year is in the attachment department. When you’re someone who’s learned to live alone and depend only on yourself, you tend to detach from people or be more cautious in forming new relationships. So when God sent me a ton of good people this year, it was hard to accept immediately. I didn’t know what to do and how to open up (especially since I learned that people can be lost and relationships can be broken). But let me tell you this: anchoring myself in those people was the best thing I did this year. Whatever happens in the after, by welcoming them in my life, I have been blessed with beautiful moments.
  6. When you open yourself up to the world, it will open itself up to you. – Trust me, for an introvert to learn this is a BIG feat. I prefer my world to be small, focused on a certain group of people. But, as it turns out, when you give the world the benefit of the doubt and the opportunity to be good to you, it will respond with kindness.
  7. Sadness, anxiety and doubt, even during sunny days, are valid. – For most of the year, I’ve been showered with blessings. But, believe it or not, even on those good days, I still sometimes feel bad. Initially, I thought that feeling the way I felt was wrong, that people have it worse than me so I shouldn’t mope around. I was blessed, for crying out loud! But it does happen and it’s alright.
  8. Relearn what it means to be a part of a community. – Going back home meant rewiring my brain from strong independent woman living alone to strong independent woman living with her family. Since I already had a taste of independence and freedom, I had to relearn consideration – how to consider other people and include them in my routine. And because of that, I was able to take down the walls I put up when I had to “grow up” and “go away”.
  9. Your happiness can depend on you.  – I’m not saying that only you can make yourself happy. I’m saying that you are capable of making yourself happy. When you go out into the world where your path isn’t as predetermined as you thought it was, you realize that you have to actively participate in your life and to make decisions in order to be happy.
  10. Not shouting back doesn’t always mean that you’ve shut yourself up.  – This applies to arguments. When I was younger, I always just kept quiet whenever I’m at the receiving end of a conflict. Over time, I learned to speak up and I detested keeping quiet. However, maturity helped me realized that the quiet is needed and valid.
  11. Kindness, true kindness, has no concept of self. – Refer to Christmas 2017 or even all the small things. I realized that during the most spontaneous moments of kindness, it’s all about choosing them over you.
  12. Pursing your dream won’t be exciting all the time.  – Hello Haber (my book in the making)! You’d think that when your finally writing it, you’d be so inspired and motivated all the time. You’d think it will finally feel like your doing something right and the whole world is proud of you. Wrong! That’s the idealized version of a dream my friends. Dreams will drag you down in the gutter even when you have nothing to give. But you go through that journey anyway because its your dream.
  13. Every person deserves a massage, at least once. – You’ll understand when you experience it.
  14. Keep track of yourself to better understand yourself. – Thanks to a close friend (henlo, Gims), I was inspired to journal. For the first time in forever, I consistently journaled for roughly four months. Throughout this experience, I was able to escape, pace myself and most importantly, reflect. Because of that, I was able actually detect if I have issues that I’m merely trying to repress.
  15. Allow yourself the comfort of comfort things. – This year it was pizza and donuts. You really need to have something to hang onto.
  16. You will always get tired and stressed. But you can choose what to get stressed and tired over. – I don’t know if this goes with the saying “Choose your battles” or something but what I’m pertaining to here is about career. All jobs will tend to demand from you but you can choose one where doing so wouldn’t be so bad.
  17. Get up, even if your back hurts, even if you had a bad dream, even if you’ve barely slept. – The day gets better. You’ll never know what’s in store if you don’t get up.

If you want to read the 16 lessons I learned from 2016, click this link.

how she learned to be afraid of attachments

 

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Artwork by Fanny Nushka Moreaux

 

Younger, she could boast about one thing – once she decided to keep you, she’ll never let you go. She never gave up on a friend, even if there was distance, because she wasn’t one to lose people. (Perhaps, that was why death was one of the concepts she found really hard to process.)

But older, one of the parts of her she had to trade away was her naivety. She learned that there were people who went away, who took different paths and worse, that she wasn’t that good at keeping correspondence because time and distance had the power to make her forget and feel awkward.

The lesson was: She had to work hard to keep people because people didn’t and couldn’t always stay.

But learning this lesson also birthed a new fear – the fear of getting too attached. She’s already too familiar with forming deep connections with the souls of the people she let in. But, as life had been slowly teaching her, all these people eventually became just parts of moments she once lived and not constants with whom she shares her new secrets to (and sometimes, it was her fault for not reaching out as often as she used to).

Accepting the possibility that people could leave meant she had to worry about investing her heart in every new person she lets in. It meant dreading the goodbye. It meant trying to promise in a future with a person while trying to push down some sort of bitter taste down her throat. It meant learning that she mustn’t be as capable as she thought in being a friend who keeps and a friend worth keeping.

(How and why is it even possible that good people would be sent in your life only for you part ways?)

She hopes, one day, that this fear turns into an inspiration instead, that the fleeting nature of people make them more precious. For now, she’ll try to live in moments, work on keeping people and remind herself to live life boldly, without any regrets.

The concept of timing and time

 

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Image grabbed from Pinterest

 

Isn’t time merely a construct (just like all the other abstract things I cannot explain well)?

One early afternoon, I was writing down my third to-do list of the day (instead of actually trying to accomplish one more task). As I was listing lessons that I needed to make PowerPoint presentations for, I kept thinking about the vacation that was and how I planned to supposedly have made the same presentations I was planning to make, then.

I planned a lot of things that I supposedly should’ve accomplished during the sembreak. I made a lot of promises to myself too. Though I did tick some stuff off my bucketlist  like jumpstarting my novel, learning to drive (properly) and getting a student driving permit, I didn’t finish everything I had to do.

As some sort of mechanism to forgive myself, I told my turbulent thoughts (Hello Virgil!) that maybe there isn’t really a certain time for certain things. After all, if I really wanted to get things done now, I would and should do it now. I didn’t have to set a one-week vacation period for me to function hyperproductively. I could continue on and I can start anytime. It was me who set that deadline and me that was disappointed in myself for not being able to commit to it.

It sounded like an excuse. Of course, I believed in time, whether it be a construct, a divine gift or a limitation. More specifically, I believed in timing – that there is a right or wrong timing for things. In writing – and I hold onto this dear God because if not I’ve just been wasting the years – I believe that certain things have to be experienced first before they can be written. I couldn’t have written about magic if I didn’t know what magical feels like, right? In love, I believe that the right love and the right person wouldn’t feel right if it isn’t the right time.

So if there is such a right time in doing things, shouldn’t it have been done then? Or is that not the right time too?

I’m talking about two different meanings of time and timing now, aren’t I? (I shall not correct myself. I’m merely rambling so mismatch of meaning and non-sequiturs are normal.)

I don’t hope to get any resolution, to be honest. All I want is peace of mind. For now, that means believing that whatever happened during the past week was meant to happen – the good, the bad and the lazy (and yes, even the sickness).

Writing Anxiety 1: How do you keep at it?

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Since I’d have relatively more time for at least a couple of days, I decided to continue writing my novel. With God’s grace, I would be able to finish it before the year ends.

I just have a tad bit of a problem.

I conceived the novel idea last 2014 but it took me about a year to actually begin writing it down. And as you can see, it’s already 2017 and I’m barely halfway in. (I’ve just written about six chapters.)

I know that I can write and that I actually have no problem letting the words flow. It’s just that I’ve always found excuses to not write the book. I would often busy myself with work or other writing and creative projects instead of doing it.

I think, I’m just really worried about not getting it right that I’m obsessed with being in the perfect state of mind before I get to writing it (and if you know me, you know that that almost never happens. My mind’s always a wreck).

For this week, even if it’s just this week, I’ll try to turn that part of my brain off and just do it. I’ll sit down and write and let the world come alive again. It’s been so long and that’s why I may be too focused on making it good rather than telling the actual story I want to tell. I need to remember.

Last night, I started doing that. The dilemma was actually finishing chapter 5. It’s been almost six months since I began writing it that I didn’t know how to finish it. I actually thought that it’d still be a long way before I can cut it but I surprised myself by just doing it.

Now, I’m at chapter 6 and what’s so lovely about this journey is that I was surprised by one of my characters because *insert spoilers here*! It’s amazing when they come alive like that, doing things I didn’t tell them to do.

Okay. That’s it for now. Hopefully, I am able to stick to this thinking until the end.

how do souls brush against each other?

 

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Photo credits: Pinterest (Mishal Benson)

 

to remember that it was a kind of brown,

one that looked like a Monday, like coffee overflowing with sugar,

tucked away inside the eyes of someone who had a lot to say.

there was music and it sounded like pieces of piano keys falling, one by one, like

childhood and the last second before falling asleep. the room knew what was happening,

letting itself be occupied by vacancies and paint splattered on the walls. the paper knew

what it felt to be remembered, so it offered itself to idle strokes and the silence thereafter. in

that instance, there was a universe created, a silent agreement of

allowing the breaking of defenses and taking a step closer. there were secrets

unexplored still but it was then that looking into someone’s eyes meant

seeing them. (finally.)

To me he was Odin

If there was a rule to guard against attachment, it would be this: Do not let the name speak to you. Do not allow it to roll off your tongue. To use names would permit a sense of permanence and familiarity to settle atop your shoes and would bless the soil with that moment forever. (It would be too hard to commit to.)

But the eyes will always try to speak to you first. Despite your initial resistance, it will whisper to you. That day, it was Abby. And then, Odin. Before I knew it, my system accepted the register and I was holding your head. I said it aloud.

My hands never reach out first. They dread the split second they hang on air, wanting. But if I do attempt something, the heart suffers the most, because it explodes both at the thought of flying and actually getting somewhere.

I’d just like to think you understood me then. (Let me pay tribute, before I repress the happiness any further.)

because secretly, i’m a mermaid

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Photo credits: The Daughter of the Sea by Marco Busoni

There had to be sunlight somewhere. For fish hungry for water, it seemed ironic to first look for heat. But there she was, feet already sprouting, yearning for the sort of warmth she didn’t even understand.

What does it take for breaths to have meaning? Swimming around, she came to know air only as something you need for catching up. The sea was just a place to go. The waves were just a means of passing by.

Inside her, stuck in between bones she called her body, was more water. Her lungs were a well of salt and saliva, thickening with every inhale. Was it dark there? Was it dangerous? (Nonetheless, they were still just transparent.)

What did it mean to be buoyant? Sometimes, when she touched her scales, she can imagine herself floating. Though in her head the surface is also the sea, she knew she really didn’t need to escape water. Drenched, she only needed a small flame to hide underneath her shell.

Write about happy things, Pollen.

 

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My attempt at trying to look cute (sorry)

 

Maybe it’s because, for a really long time now, I’ve used writing for the bad stuff by default, that I feel somewhat awkward using it to document something good. Like for instance, an intense argument would prompt me to write a poem, immediately taking me out of my heaven-knows-how-long writing slump while the small miracles happening in my day to day life wouldn’t even deserve a short diary entry.

Maybe, because it’s so easy for me to come up with sad words, I’ve forgotten how to write about being happy, or at least how happy felt like, that now that the emotion’s overwhelming me, I don’t know how to describe the feeling.

I’ve had so many reasons to be happy over the past couple of months but I haven’t really been keeping the stories about them, even in my private journals. At the time, I figured, I wanted to feel them in the moment and keep them alive only then because I’ll remember the feeling anyway.

However, now that I’m looking through the things I’ve written during this time of happiness and bliss, I realized that there weren’t many memories to look back on. Yes, I remember feeling happy and I still am happy, but I couldn’t find the little stories that built my big moments.

Hence the questions: “Have I forgotten how to write about the happy things?”; “Do I still know how to write about the happy things?”; “Why am I not writing about the happy things?”

Not wanting to miss out any further, I decided to write this post, just so I could remind myself later of the reasons why I have been and am happy.

“Senpau”

At the time I’m writing this, I’m preparing for my fourth week as a teacher.

I always knew I was going to teach someday but I didn’t expect to be teaching this early. Despite my initial worries, I’m so glad I took the risk anyway because I’ve found a place where I can do purposeful and meaningful work every day.

Though the workload can be overwhelming at times, at the end of the day, my job makes me feel like I’m serving God’s purpose and I’m making a difference.

(Sometimes, I wonder if I’m normal because I didn’t think it was even possible to love something you do so much that the stress feels like a minuscule part of the job package. Is it still normal to want to do this so much?)

Good people

Now that I’m back home, I’m constantly around the people I love the most – family, best friends, orgmates… etc. In a way, that has healed me and brought me back to a healthy state of mind.

I’ve also met a lot of new and nurturing people who make me so so so happy. All of them are very supportive during tough times and are good company when in need of a good laugh and deep conversations. I’d like to think we were brought into each other’s lives not to just cross paths and make a difference for a short amount of time, but to keep each other as wonderful friends from now on until who knows when.

My best self is myself

The past few weeks has helped me constantly meet my best self, and Pollen, when she is her best self, could be absolutely wonderful. Pollen is at her best when she is unafraid, when she trusts herself, and in those moments, she can do anything.

To know that my best self actually exists within me can be absolutely life-changing. There’s a part of myself that I like and I can trust and that means everything.

The things I can do, the purpose I can serve will be limitless if I kept being my best.

(I like this writing exercise. I’ll try to write more of these happy reminders.)