18 Lessons of 2018

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Well, here we go again.

I actually drafted this post a few days earlier than I was supposed to. I thought that maybe since the year was already ending anyway, I should just write this while I still had time. What could possibly happen during the last few days of 2018 that could still change my life?

I spoke too soon. 2018 wasn’t going down without a fight.

To be honest, I didn’t expect to experience as much conflict and existential crisis this year. Because of all the blessings and happy moments that 2017 spoiled me with, I hoped that in 2018 it would get better. (Judging by my tone, I think you already know that it didn’t.)

But, despite all the drama, I guess, it was during this year that I really grew as a person. I confronted a lot of fears, internal and external, and it made me tougher than ever. I’m pretty much broken, scarred, that’s for sure but I now know how to fight with battle wounds still open. And I now know what I’m really fighting for.

With all that said, here are the 18 lessons of my 2018:

  1. Family means working on it no matter what. – You don’t give up on anyone. You don’t give in on anything. You’re family.
  2. Healing is a process you can’t rush. – Refer to: 1 mosquito and 3 hospital beds in Youngblood Inquirer (Yiiiii)
  3. Getting angry can be proof for self-respect. – When I was younger, I used to try hard to not get angry. But you can only try so much until tolerance turns into being a pushover. Looking back at it now, I realized that I was only able to contain my anger because I felt like I didn’t deserve such emotions. 😦 Hey self, it’s okay to be angry especially when it means that you and/or your principles are being violated.
  4. Own your dreams (even if it’s not practical or realistic). – This summer, I had to confront one of the biggest crossroads of my life. I had to think about my dreams and my future. The thing is, despite all the constraints of my physical world right now, I still know what I want to be and I WILL BE IT. I just needed to actually own it and want it and (hello) do something about it!
  5. There may be sacrifices you can afford to do now (but not forever). – This is related to #4. Obviously, I had to sacrifice some things and make some detours before I work on my dream. But here’s the wake up call: I can’t stall forever. I have to choose my dreams someday.
  6. A day, no matter good or bad, always ends. – Thanks for this one, Dad.
  7. Don’t obsess over goodbyes. – Let’s just say that I’m afraid of people leaving. That’s why I try to brace myself all the time or I don’t initiate the connection in the first place. But there were so many unnecessary drama that ensued and so many moments missed because I was too tentative. If I have you in my life now, I’ll live our moment now.
  8. Stand out like stars against the night sky. – Your ideas, love, were not meant for boxes. The same goes with me. I have so much magic inside me and even if that’s unorthodox, I’m sticking with it.
  9. Kindness is both sweet and sour. Be kind anyway. – There is a cost to kindness. The cup does not fill itself. But once kindness is your first instinct, there are hearts touched and worlds changed that would make everything wonderful again.
  10. The sea washes away pain. – You can run away to it if you’d like.
  11. Children will surprise you. – I became an adviser this year and “surprise” would be an understatement. (My kids can frustrate me because of their differences but it’s these same things that make me *cringe* love them.)
  12. Relationships require effort. – People don’t stay friends just because you added them on Facebook and you see their posts on your newsfeed.
  13. Always be grateful, especially for what has been there all along.
  14. You are the most beautiful when you are yourself. – And never let anyone tell you otherwise.
  15. “Impossible” things are survivable.
  16. Sometimes it’s the people that make you stay. – Everything in life is hard but when you’re with the right people, everything would feel worth doing.
  17. Love is a choice. (But don’t forget that you can choose yourself also.)
  18. The best things happen after 4:30 PM.

With that, thank you. Next. (But 2019, please give me time to pace myself before you attack.)

To check out my other pre-new year posts, here’s “16 lessons of 2016” and “17 lessons of 2017“.

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A quick escape to Tagaytay

Last Sunday, me and my girls had a quick get-together at Tagaytay. Though we all had our fair share of worries for the upcoming week, it just felt great to see each other again.

After our roadtrip to Tagaytay, we initially attempted to eat at Balay Dako. However, the place was booked and we were already hungry. (The view of Taal was spectacular though!)

We went to Carlos Pizza instead since it was just right beside BD. We ate outside with Taal just there.

Hello Taal!

Of course, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take photos.

Before going down, we stopped over on one side of the road to take photos.

I loved that quick break. It was the first weekend that I just went out without really working on something. (The best part was, of course, being updated on each other’s lives despite not always seeing each other. Love you!)

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.)

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.)

Of having have left

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Photo grabbed from: Vince D.

A year ago, I wrote “The curious case of leaving”, detailing how I felt during graduation and the LAVOXA send-off. There, I told myself that:

I may not be in a good place right now but I know that I’ll get somewhere someday.

Somewhere, after a year, turned out to be on Sir Jun’s roof top, celebrating his attorney-hood with Lavoxans of different generations. Despite initial hesitations about going, I came to congratulate him for achieving his goal and for just being an awesome human being, really. Also, it was the perfect excuse to meet up with Lavoxans and other friends.

In a mix of familiar and new people, I felt less overwhelmed than I would’ve been a year ago. I wasn’t fretting about silence and having no one to talk to (because, bottom line,  I really just wanted to be a part of this moment). More importantly, despite being a potato, I have learned to give in to urges of wanting to see people whenever I have the chance to do so. Perhaps, I have grown up.

Note to self: Missing them could just mean missing them, not distance or rules of separation.

Other than being a little more carefree, there’s a lot that changed about me – both good and bad. The good include this new sense of self-love and assertiveness that I found inside me. The bad include parts I’ve left stagnant and parts I lost.

I admitted it before, there are parts of myself that I may have unconsciously traded away for learning experiences, but at least, now, these missing pieces are currently being healed and filled with a new kind of magic. So right now, I’m happier and I know more of myself.

Status: Healing and Happy.

After a long while, I finally felt like I’m doing something right again. For so long, I’ve been so down about life, getting through days just because I had to. I’d almost forgotten how it felt to do good, to care about people, to pin your heart on your sleeve without worrying that it’ll be slashed into pieces.

It seems that, even though I’m still not 100% percent sure about where I want my life to go, I’m at a place where I’m meant to be. And this place, is not a safe haven where I can hide until I feel better, instead, it’s a home where I can challenge myself and rediscover the “Pauline Navarro” that’s been slumbering for months. I recognize myself now.

God, I’m just so thankful!

A year ago, I couldn’t even imagine how I would be able to go, survive. Now, I can look back on the experiences I’ve had so far and thank them for the lessons they taught me. It’s just unbelievable how after being so lost back then, I’m here now with direction and heart still full of hope.

Maybe, this piggy really has taken flight.

 

16 Lessons of 2016

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2016 Highlights

Living through 2016 felt like riding Anchors Away. I was always on the edge of my seat, stomach churning, head spinning, half-regretting why I rode the ride in the first place but then remembering that I don’t have much choice but to wait until it stops.

I’ve been through what I thought was unthinkable this year. A lot has changed for me, the way I live and who I am as a person, and adjusting  hadn’t been as easy as a flick of the remote. (Do you know how hard it was to change mindsets?)

There were a lot of firsts, goodbyes and what ifs. And honestly, I felt like majority of the year I’ve just been wandering mindlessly, bumping into poles once in a while.

That being said, ending the year felt like a relief more than anything. I learned a lot, I’ll give it that, but I’m just thankful that I’m still standing after it all.

Here are the 16 lessons of 2016 that I earned through all the challenges of the year that was:

  1. Allow yourself to have glory days. – I find it difficult to give myself credit for the good things I do because I often do not know how to accept compliments. But this year, I’ve learned to appreciate the feats I’ve accomplished and the obstacles I’ve overcome. (I can be an awesome potato, if I try to be one.) Once I knew how to do that, it became easier to appreciate myself and forgive myself of the misses and fails I did.
  2. You can make/find multiple sanctuaries in this world. – It takes a lot before I feel comfortable and before 2016, I used to believe that I could only be truly comfortable at home or with the people I consider as home. But once I was left to fend for myself (lol exaggerated), I was forced to make places my home. Though it started as something I had to do, it ended up as a mindset that helped me a lot in Manila. I learned that wherever I go, I should have a space to breathe, to laugh and to be weird.
  3. Always go home to people. – I loved Lipa more this year, not because it’s familiar and safe, but because most of the people I truly care for are here. 2016 helped me appreciate that.
  4. At the end of the day, the day always ends. – This was a statement my dad told me and it’s gotten me through really tough days. // I’m a worrier and I obsessively worry about stuff to the point that my body can feel the negative impact of my worries. But gosh, if I did that for every little obstacle, I believe I wouldn’t stay sane. I just have to let go sometimes and focus on one thing at a time so that I can power through it. It will end too.
  5. Family is important. – Damn. This is the main thing this year. 2016 showed me that family will always be there no matter what. I admit, I haven’t been really open to them before and I used to turn to friends first before them, but this year allowed me to anchor my everything in them.
  6. There’s no use dwelling in the past. – There are moments I can relive in my head but not in real life, I know that. Rather than wishing I was where I was, I learned to use the feelings they gave me to move forward. (I still cringe occasionally at my regrets tho.)
  7. Don’t make money decisions using feelings (at least not all the time). – Refer to Christmas 2016. Haha. For real though, I know I decide using feelings most of the time but when it comes to money, I learned to get my head in the game.
  8. Find a way to let go of your negativity. – An outlet is helpful, but having even just one person to depend on to listen to your shit is amazing. 2016 showed me that apparently, I have a ton of those. I just need to open up.
  9. The fear of not knowing can be conquered by admitting ignorance and asking. – This is my ultimate fear. I just have to keep learning.
  10. Getting lost is an experience. – Direction-wise, this is self-explanatory. 🙂 But in life, getting lost can be taxing. It’s up to me though to change my mindset and enjoy the journey (which is harder than I’m making it sound).
  11. Never let people tell you who you are. – It took a lot before I grew into the Pauline I am now. It took forever getting to know me and deciding who I wanted to be and what are the values I can’t be without. So excuse me if I won’t let people define me and belittle the woman I’ve become. (I’m not going down without a fight. Not anymore.)
  12. Find/keep people you can be weird with. – Amidst all the pretentiousness of this world, you have to stay true once in a while. Haha. Do that with people. // Also, potate-ing isn’t shameful. There are people out there who’d be more willing to potate with you.
  13. Work on relationships.– I’m lazy with staying touch but 2016 challenged me. It taught me that if I wanted to keep people, I have to communicate. (And hey, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.) I sort of forgot how it felt to live off stories of other people’s days and how kilig it is to have inside jokes, because I was busy denying that I needed anyone. But yeah, now that I’m adulting, I learned to put extra effort on this.
  14. Love yourself to be your own person. – Be a potato or a solider if you want to. Once you forget who you are, that’s when your world will crumble. Hold on to your person. // This also goes with not having to force yourself into a relationship just so you could feel wanted. Want yourself. You don’t need anyone to make you feel special. You are special. Independence is empowering. (Ayyy. This is for you, Pollen.)
  15. Anchor everything on the Lord. He’s listening. – Wow, it’s humbling to realize that God does take the time of the day to pay attention to your prayers. Maybe it’s because I’m finally paying attention but it’s 2016 when I truly saw His hands working in my life. God’s just been so present and been so forgiving of me this year.
  16. Hang onto your dreams and work on them. – I’m a writer, not because I professionally practice the craft but because it’s a part of who I am. That means, no matter what life throws at me, I will continue to write. 2016 tested me, teased me for not writing enough, but if there’s one thing it made me sure of, it’s that my soul will not rest if it’s not finished my story. Come what may, I’ll get it done and the world will know of it. // Dreams are not lists you make or stuff you stick on boards for display. Dreams are things you accomplish. (Go 2017 Pollen!)

I’ll miss you at a distance.

(Written last July 11, 2016)

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Photo credit: favim.com

I miss you and distance is the only thing that allows me to do so.

You see, even if I believe in fighting to stay in your life, I couldn’t find the willpower to fight against my worries. I don’t have the strength to reach out to you, to ask you how you’ve been or to just simply break the barrier between your green dot and mine, and start a short conversation. Maybe, it’s because I wish, deep in my heart, that we connected so deeply that not talking wouldn’t matter. And maybe, secretly, I also don’t want to seem so desperate, clinging onto you.

In my head, I’ve drafted the rules of closure and goodbye, and rule number two is to stay away long enough to miss and be missed. That’s what I’ve been doing all these months, I guess, with every unreplied message and missed call. It works in my head, trust me, and this rule allows me to keep to my thoughts and keep what we had alive in my mind.

I believe that once a farewell has been said, whether it just happened or it had to happen, it must be respected. It’s a both a restriction and comfort. For one, I would no longer worry about messing up the things I say and I would no longer panic about the relationship that was bound to get rocky somewhere. In turn, I won’t hear from you and I would have to stop the urges to tell you how my day went.

You’ve become my far away star. I wish on you every night and miss you when I remember how warm you were by my side. But then again, nowadays, I am more familiar at gazing at you, scrolling through my newsfeed and seeing your photos, and hearing about you from common friends. I am strangely relaxed by this sad comfort.

Still, some days, I don’t know why I do this or why this is worth doing in the first place. The sidelines can get lonely and staying by the walls can feel cold and suffocating at times. But, I also don’t know exactly how to break the silence and this is the only way I’ve come to learn how to think of you.

And so, concealed in messages I don’t send and in attempts to contact you after dreaming about seeing you again, I miss you at a distance.

In my heart, I know that not talking could seem like I’m brushing you off or that I don’t care anymore. I am fully aware that losing touch could mean losing you. But, I just couldn’t wire myself to suddenly open my soul to you, because, trust me, if you see inside me and discover how much I miss you and how sad missing you makes me, you’d be scared. You’d be overwhelmed with the sea that is my emotions and I’d never want that.

I miss you in silence and I’ll miss you like this. This is cowardly but this is my kind of safe.

The Doctor’s Dilemma: On Giving Advice

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Ninjas during our ninjanniversary

For several moments in my life, I often find myself listening to other people’s problems, comforting them and giving them advice. I relish in these moments because not only do I feel a sense of strengthened bond, but also, I am able to do what my heart has always been willing to do, help someone I love and care about.

In elementary and high school, I was known as the “love doctor” to some of my friends. Whenever they have emotional highs and lows about their crushes and partners, I’m the one they talk to. I didn’t have any experience back then (and until now) but they trusted my opinion because I can show them both sides of the coin, being an innocent bystander.

In college, I still retained that charm in some way. My friends know that I’m sensible enough to knock them to their senses whenever they go crazy over anything. I listen to them whole-heartedly and give them genuine and reasonable options (plural, because I try not to shove my ideas to them).

(By no means am I an expert in life or in the affairs of the heart. Maybe I just have a level head and a good ear and that’s why people tend to consult me.)

Part of me takes pride in my ability to be objective. I give advice based on the situation, the logic behind it, and most of the time, I try to remove myself from the situation in order to not to be biased. Because of that, I am able to see a wider spectrum of consequences and focus on the person who needs me. It helps me come up with what they need to hear (read as: what I need they think to hear).

The reason why I try to be objective as much as possible is because I care about the people so much that I just want to help the best way I can and I feel like doing so means balancing their emotional chaos with my reasoning. I have to be sensible for them and provide meaningful insight that they can’t see because their clouded by feelings. I’d be the stable one if they aren’t.

But recently, this way of giving advice seemed off to me. It felt, I don’t know, robotic. I found myself saying things that are different from what I want to say (because I felt like what I wanted to say wasn’t what they needed). It also felt dry and somehow repetitive because I found myself saying standard answers for similar situations. It didn’t feel like me.

One night, someone I cared about was asking advice about leaving. To me, I didn’t want that person to leave, but in a rational perspective, it was better if that person goes. How do you ask someone to stay if they have to go?

Another night, someone I cared about was feeling broken and hopeless. To me, I wanted to root for that person and urge that person to keep going, but logically, because of the situation, I thought that it would be better for that person to give the dream up. How could you encourage someone you knew wouldn’t stand a chance?

For more nights, I found myself stuck with the same dilemma. I didn’t know what to say anymore and it’s making me doubt my credibility to give advice.

Writing this post, I realized that I’ve forgotten where it all started and why people were coming to me. It wasn’t because I was good at analyzing. Before anything else, it’s because I’m their friend and they trust me.

Being a friend doesn’t always mean you’d say the right things. It means being with them through everything, listening to them just because and sharing their feelings and being honest with your own.

I want to be a friend again, really. I don’t just want to say the things I know I have to. I want to share a part of my heart too and be as genuine in giving advice as I am when listening to people. They’re worth it anyway (;they always are).