Monday, May 25, 2015

BRAVE IS WHAT HUMANS DO

 

  
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Brave is what humans do. Brave for a diverse dozen or more reasons.... visible and invisible. The visible ones we can easily understand -- it's all around us.... broken relationships, single parents, widows, orphaned children, army wives with spouses away in battle on the other side of the globe, abandoned elderly, losing jobs, not making it on the list of graduates, a father holding on to two jobs to send his children to college, losing fortunes, illness, death, etc.
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The invisible ones are just as many, perhaps even more. A choice many of us choose to hide from the world --- the burden or suffering of an illness, the quiet hurt or pain of betrayal, the hidden tears and grief over something lost, the deep fear or disappointment or frustration over things beyond control, the pain of a mother seeing her child's life go wrong, the heartache of a girl prevented from marrying the man she loves, desired answers to prayers taking too long in coming, and those other things we feel be kept away from prying eyes.
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Oh both lists can be quite long. Where there are trials in a life, bravery can't be very far behind.
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A friend once commented as she scrolled down her list of friends.... 'Buti pang mga ito ..Ganda ng mga ngiti noh? Mukhang walang mga problema.' ------ (Look at them smile.. like not a care in the world ever existed!)
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I looked at the faces she was pointing at... I don't know them; oh maybe some will be my friends one day but I know those smiles. Smiles of people -- brave people -- living brave lives. How do I know that? Because everybody has a story... is a story... and where there is a story you'll find bravery in it. Brave is what humans do.
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Blessings, everyone!! It's just there... open your eyes and hearts.



Wednesday, May 20, 2015

THREE FAVORITE THINGS --- AND SOMETHING MORE


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When the muses are quiet and no inspiration pushes the pen or laptop keys.... or when some days are lonely... or when saddled with cares and woes... or when days are even boring... I turn to three favorite things. One, I go out to the garage and have a nice chat with my three dogs -- Lucky, Buddy, and the new addition Scruffy. (There's a fourth one Maxie but she prefers napping on the couch in the living room.) Or.... two, I get myself a cup of yummy ice cream (if there happens to be one inside the freezer), sit on the couch and watch my favorite show on TV. If nada on the ice cream thing, a peanut butter sandwich takes its place with a glass of iced tea... and eyes still glued on the TV screen. Or..... three, my daughter and I go out to the mall to watch a good movie or have our favorite frappe at Starbucks. 

And...... Oh by the way, also squeezed in-between those three are the one-and-a-thousand details of things we usually do around the house. Plus.... the different roles a mother plays to her children regardless of their age. Plus.... the things done for 'me-time'... listen to music, paint, read a good book, sew a bag from an old pair of jeans, call up a friend, sort through old files for some hidden 'gold' to feed the writing, etc.
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Now I almost forgot this. After listing down the I, Me, My, Mine of being human and was set to move to the next thing to write ---- I remembered this >> Plus..... this precious life nurturing-connection.... Being still to acknowledge God's presence in my life. The wonders of His Magnificent God-ship. Those should be etched in the heart for nobody would last a day or a second without Him. All that we are -- our brilliance, intellect, talents, wealth, beauty, successes, achievements, acquisitions, titles, positions, or greatness -- everything comes from His goodness, love, compassion, and mercy. Gifts from His divine heart. The magnificent I AM. Thus if I have the 'me-time'.... this one's called the 'HIS-time'.
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Now why am I telling you this? Because I have learned something very important which I'd like to share with you. It is this........
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"Look only to the good. Look only to what you have, to what God has given you. Do not let your eyes come to rest upon any other thing but the blessings and peace of Christ. Do not fix your gaze upon the negatives, upon the past or the future. Remember, your life is hid with me. By now you know that I can be trusted and that I have all your affairs in My hands. Not one thing escapes My attention." --- God 
 
(Yes, those lines are from the book 'Good Morning... God')
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Nice, aye? Give it a try. You might like it, too. Furthermore you will soon discover that trusting God gives you more time to be you.. with your life... with your gifts.... with your God.
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God bless you!



Friday, May 15, 2015

SHED OFF THE I - ME - MY - MINE OF LIVING


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"We are in danger of destroying ourselves by our greed and stupidity. We cannot remain looking inwards at ourselves on a small and increasingly polluted and overcrowded planet..." ----  (Stephen Hawking)
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Allow me some thoughts on this....
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We are so often told that life is all about us. And that is what media, business, schools, entertainment etc is doing to us. Yes but to a certain point. Then we must learn to shed off the -  'I'  'ME'  'MY'  'MINE'  - of living. The lessons become very difficult now because habits die hard.
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Lest we forget, our job on this planet is no longer to live for ourselves alone.  We live for others too if we want a better world and planet.  We stand connected like it or not. What we each do, good or bad, will definitely affect the next guy or people down the line and beyond ... as it also will affect our environment.. our world.
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So it behooves us to better our selves to enable us to serve others and the world with the best of who we are and what we have. If we can do it in a grander scale so much better for the world... but the little that we do in our everyday lives and even if it's for just one person.... will suffice as long as the noble intent is there.  Small is big when the motive is for the better good or for the greater number of people you can reach.
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God himself says..... to 'love one another'.  Am I my brother's keeper? Yes! Because we were not created to live solitary lives,  by Divine design. We need each other.  No man is sufficient to himself.  Even Mother Nature needs our human care and nurturing. That is how God created the world each dependent on the other .... to co-exist in peace and harmony .... being blessed and blessing one another with blessings received.  Let us remember who we are and our Divine purpose.
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God bless you!!

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(Thanks to the internet for this lovely image.)




Wednesday, May 13, 2015

PROBLEM-FREE IS NOT WHAT LIFE IS ALL ABOUT




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Whenever I hear these words from someone... anyone... something inside of me gets riled up by such a remark.....
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'Buti ka pa maganda ang tagbo ng buhay mo; alang problema. Ako isang katutak ang dinadala.' -- 'You're having a good life going for you -- no problems at all. I got tons on my shoulder.'
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Oh yes, before Mom knocked some sense into me I admit using those same crazy lines with my close friends who were seen enjoying their perceived share of life's good pie ...and eating it with gusto! I moaned.. bewailed.. anguished about my sorry lot as compared to theirs. Mom then would bonk me on the forehead and say...
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'Baliw! Sa tingin mo hindi sila dumaan sa mga pagsubok?' -- 'Silly! And you think they didn't go through their own struggles too?'
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She taught me what she knew about life... and I learned about it too firsthand when the time came that it was my turn to journey down the same road.
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Pardon me but I must be honest. It makes me seethe in anger albeit silently. Because I cannot truly understand why anyone should envy those who they perceive to be enjoying a good life or perceive to be problem-free. Problem-free is farthest from the truth.
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Allow me my thoughts.....
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I have learned that life is not a bed of roses... never... no matter who you are-where you are-what you are. Nothing is ever handed to you on a silver platter. Even to those who were born rich will come times when difficult decisions or choices will need to be made in hoping to define a desired future. Believe me, making such decisions will surely knock your brains out and weary your hearts.. unless if you're made of steel. But who amongst us is made of steel?!!
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Struggles, trials, tests, difficulties, challenges or whatever else people may call it are the regulars on life's menu list. But unlike in a food restaurant you can't get to pick your favorites. Life, the chef, disregards personal likes or dislikes or preferences. Instead it has set down an array of dishes which it believes you will need. So the bottom line is it's what you need and not what you want that you'll get. The objective which we now get to understand is seemingly your growth and development. This then, I believe, is the true leveler of men. We are all asked to grow. That, too, is by God's design.



Thursday, May 7, 2015

THE ONLY TRUE SOURCE OF POLITENESS IS CONSIDERATION




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Am going nostalgic this time thinking of mom. She taught me a lot of things; she was both my guru and hero. Among the nuggets of wisdom lined up in my head, I remember this one most......
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Mom taught me and kid brother to be polite with people since we were kids. When I grew older I took that lesson further to that point when even if the other person was unpleasant, to say the least.. I would still be nice and be in my best behavior with that person. Mom's words always stayed at the back of my mind..... 'Be polite.'
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But when I grew older, much older and understood more about life and people, things began to change. Better yet said, I changed. It was now knowing who the good guys are and who the jerks are and filling up my life more with the first. I no longer waste my time with those types whose main goal in life is to make other people miserable in theirs. Further have learned that nothing one can ever do no matter the good intent will change them because by all appearances they seem to be happy in who they are, in the mean things that they do, in the selfish choices that they make. Happy... Not really so, a beloved teacher once said, -- poor souls with heaps of insecurities disguised in the form of superiority though superficial in its being and core. If rudeness is second nature to them, yours be that of being polite. Pray for them though, she added, they will need all the help that they can get.
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Mom also reminded me to surround myself with good people. She described good people as having their hearts in their heads and their heads in their hearts. At first I had difficulty in understanding that until I had the chance and opportunity to meet them and experience their goodness while traveling down my own life journey.
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Among other fine qualities I saw in them was their being polite. This politeness, as I had observed, stemmed from a foundation of sincere consideration and respect for others. They cared about not hurting nor offending anyone in any perceived way or manner. They seemed to have learned the art of loving people both in their good and in their bad.
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So it's not just about good manners -- of saying . 'Thank you' . 'Please' . 'I'm sorry' .'Excuse me' . or offering a seat to an older person in the bus, or doing the simple courtesies of daily interaction. It's about honest care and respect towards a fellow
human being be that in matters huge or small, of significance or not, or even in the simple day to day experiences of our mundane lives. Or as simply summed up by the ordinary man on the street....... 'you want to be treated right, treat a person right'. I believe I've read that too somewhere in the Book --- 'Do unto others as you would want others do unto you'.... or something like it.
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Be polite.. it's not just all about manners; it's also about being kind. And I believe that we are sent lessons by life everyday to hone our skills in that direction.



Wednesday, May 6, 2015

BE PRESENT IN THE PRESENT.... GRATEFULLY



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I suppose that we all go through dull moments in life. That moment or day when you don't feel that twinkle in your eye or the spring in your step. When not even the nice gentle breeze blowing into your day would make you feel serenely refreshed and energized. When a good book you immensely enjoyed reading just the other day isn't anymore. When a cone of ice cream is just a cone of ice cream.
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So.... you pick up the remote and indifferently switch through the channels on TV hoping that something would catch your eye and inject your disinclination-to-motion with a strong dose of perk-me-up. Nope, that didn't work.
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At this point, I was ready to allow the dull day its full reign in my turf having given up all options for a brighter day.
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And then she came.....
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.....brown fur with a tinge of black here and there, black wet nose, intelligent black eyes, a tail wagging feverishly, and laid her snout on my lap. But the prettiest thing was when she gave me her half-smile. Not a full smile, as humans do, but a half-smile lighting up the left side of her pretty face. Not a crooked half-smile either.. or the so-called sneer a human being is very good at... but a sweet pretty half-smile! (It still puzzles me how she manages to do that!) But it said everything!.. even more than words a human could ever say for another on such a spiritless languid moment. Then she bounded up the couch and snuggled close to me..... looked up into my unbelieving eyes like saying.... 'It's okay, it's just a dull day; this too will pass.' And settled peacefully by my side.
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She was right --- the dull moment passed.
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Sometimes in life we get the brightest wisdom from unexpected sources. If only we would pay attention.
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When perchance a dull day happens to you.... open up your senses, tune in to your surroundings, notice every detail of life around you, forget about yourself. Then you will begin to see awesome beauty and meaning into your day..... and life.
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Blessings are not choosy about time and day --- it comes anytime to a welcoming heart.
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God bless you.
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(That's Maxie in the photo with daughter Malen)



Monday, May 4, 2015

ACTUALLY WE KNOW VERY LITTLE


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Browsing through an old book found in one of the file boxes under my bed,  allow me this tiny bit of wisdom which grabbed my attention on this fine although still hot morning..... to quote
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"Que Sais-je?"  ("What do I know?")  was the motto of Michel de Montaigne, the sixteenth-century French essayist whose amiable good sense still endears him to many readers today.   His question was intended to remind him that knowledge was there to be tested and tried.  But it was also a reminder that he, an educated and quite wealthy man, well-read and with his own library of books,  actually knew very little.  ----- Lifted from the book Pearls Of Wisdom by David Ross
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Unquote.
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This made me think............
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'Actually knew very little.' -- No matter the great knowledge or wisdom each of us may have gathered for himself through the years, the truth is there is still little we know.  No man can hold all the information or knowledge or wisdom in and of the world all by his lonesome self.  It would take a person a million lifetimes to acquire every information about life, people, the world, mother nature, the animal kingdom, inventions and technologies, the universe, and etc.  But we all do have our individual store of those although minute in measure and size.  Furthermore, easily observed is that one person may know something the other does not, and in turn this other person knows something nobody else does.  No one person's monopoly of knowledge there as you may have noticed.
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So a little bit of knowledge can be ineffective... dangerous... superficial... and cannot or shouldn't be passed around as sufficient.  As such it will be a terribly  lame excuse for engaging in a blown-up ego or pride which would mean nothing to those who know.  Yet sometimes we see many or few strutting around the universe with their heads bobbing as big as their mouths....  they who my mother would call  'Mr/Ms Know-It-All'  with much amusement.  And yet they need to be understood just the same.
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A dear friend has this special way of dealing with that with one question:  "Really!? Tell me more......"  without batting an eyelash.  Almost always this makes that person stop dead in his or her tracks because he or she cannot tell  'more'.  Like a bank ATM messaging you with  'Insufficient funds'....  this one fails with  'Insufficient knowledge'.
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We are here to learn.  But when at some point you would think to stop awhile to evaluate your progress,   you will see how very little you have in your store and how so much more there is yet to gather, gain, and learn.  On the other hand when you have so much in your store,  keep your feet solidly anchored on the ground.  True humility gives you more mileage in wisdom and admiration  from all points of view ...without the floss and frills which come with pretense.
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The whole point of the story is DON'T STOP LEARNING. Just learn all that you can with who you are and with your God-given talents. With what wisdom you may have gained through it all, consider it your treasure but... not solely for keeping. It should be used as tools to grow yourself with and too to help others grow in their own journey.  Better yet use it to better our world......  or if this is too big for our small resources,  aim to help improve at least one life.  Let it be said that one life was made better by having met you.  Let's try to be what this beautiful quote says about ....   being the 'rainbow in somebody's cloud'.
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Blessings, everyone! God bless you.



Sunday, May 3, 2015

A COMFORT ZONE IS A BEAUTIFUL PLACE BUT NOTHING EVER GROWS THERE

 
 
 
 

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Most of us don't really warm up to any kind of change.. even if it were for our better good. We much prefer to stay where we are most comfortable and familiar. Our comfort zones. We tend to shy away from the unknown, from perceived danger, from taking risks, from failing, from being hurt, from strange new faces, places, and experiences, from anything which would make us leave the safety and comfort of our box. That's right we have placed ourselves inside a box, huge or tiny, where we live.. love.. work.. play.. and die. We tell ourselves that we are happy in it but down there in our hearts we know that we're missing something. Admit it.. we long for something still.
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This void lingers persists but which sadly we seem to be ignoring.
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Then a friend comes along and tells us wonderful stories of how beautiful the world is out there... about the awesome adventures he had... the interesting people he met... the amazing opportunities which led him to better his life... the many battles he fought and yet won with strength he thought wasn't there... and finally admitting that he didn't know that he was missing so much until he took that first brave step and stepped out the door of his comfort zone... at last setting himself free! Free to be the person he longed to be and was meant to be.
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Yet we tell ourselves that it's something which happens only to special people. People who are brighter.. braver.. smarter.. talented.. and made out for success. But wait! Are we not special people, too? We each have our talents and abilities, the same things which enabled us to do what we do inside our comfort zones.
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Perhaps... maybe... all that is needed is for us to expand or stretch our horizons far beyond the four walls of our familiar lives. To nudge ourselves to become better than the persons we were yesterday. We can do that-it's possible; others have done it before us.
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But that can only come when we agree to change...  from small to bigger -- from ordinary to extraordinary -- from average to exceptional -- from blah-blah to exciting -- from fearful to freehearted. And finally one day when we have learned to use our God-given talents wisely we become the persons He designed or meant us to be. 
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Nope, this isn't empty talk. This is what we were designed to be, truly ... People of joy, heart, courage, strength, hope, success, and faith. The potential is already there. Just step up and out. Claim what belongs to you.
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Blessings, everyone! Make life matter and moments count.



Tuesday, April 28, 2015

YOU KNOW WHERE THE DOOR IS

 
 

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Life seems to be throwing me lemons these past few days.. weeks... months... (?) The thing is I am a big fan of lemons.... so too its cousin calamansi. With the fruit.....    I make myself a tall glass of ice cold lemonade! Add a bit of honey... and at other times dip in a sachet of chamomile tea.... grab a good book.... find a nice comfy spot on the couch... aaaahhh makes my day!!
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Now with life's lemons...  I would throw a bucket of vile emotions at it. That bucket would be drained empty and dry as all of its contents would be nastily poured out on the object of my fury. Pipigain ko pa kung pwede pa nga eh. Big frustrations, disappointments, letdowns ------- eat me up to the core big time. A certified fiery temper which got me into arguments with kid brother often in our home. But Mom would simply shake her head and say ... 'That, too, will pass.'
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BUT... that was long ... long ago. Oh yes! She was right. Mothers know best.
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This time, I would simply look it straight in the eye and say ----  "You know what, Mr. Life's Lemons.... you know where the door is!".
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Because I have plenty more of sunshine stored away you just can't reach. And a dozen more or so of rainbows squeezed in there somewhere.
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I have learned nothing in life is permanent .. or forever. (Thanks to Mom)  Everything has its own shelf-life.  But that I can always build new dreams, new goals, create new adventures - destinations - journeys, and catch more rainbows to add to my treasure. These things never run out;  you can do it again and again. No shelf-life on this one.
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Here's a little poem Mr. Quote Man sent me today. The message in it is beautifully clear in helping us understand all about life. and its lemons.  To quote.....
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Rainbows would never be rainbows
If sunshine had never met rain
No one would ever need comfort
If there was no sadness and pain
But life holds both sunshine and showers
The days aren't all bright and fair
So look through the showers for the rainbows
You'll always find hope shining there..

-------Unknown
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God bless you!




Friday, April 24, 2015

BEST FIND OUT WHAT HE OR SHE IS LOOKING AT




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I'm sharing with you one of my most treasured quotes.  It's from a book by Hugh Prather....... 'NOTES TO MYSELF'.  It says.....
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"No one is wrong.  At most someone is uninformed.  If I think an individual is wrong, either I am unaware of something,  or the person is.  Unless I want to play a superiority game I had best find out what he or she is looking at."
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Unquote.
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Allow me some thoughts.......
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Long ago in my blossoming self-righteous youth I would brush this aside as silly because I had this thought in my young silly head that people can be wrong and there can be no explanation to that except that... they are wrong.  But when I was wrong I always pointed to my youth as a ready excuse. Foolish, of course. Ah but the shortsighted folly of youth!
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As we grow older life proves us wrong on many things we thought we already knew. One lesson drilled into my mind by mother was this.....  'Always get to the story. Behind every individual is a story... his story.'  So whenever I hear someone say something, right or wrong, I would imagine mother shaking her finger at me.... 'Wait for the story.' 
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Yes, she was right ....because life did show me that there is always a story behind every right and every wrong. Opinions, insights, decisions, perceptions and the like are all shaped by experiences contained in a person's personal history.  So when a person presents an opinion but which you think is wrong,  hold judgement.  Find out why or how. That person's history influences his or her thoughts, words, and deeds.... the same way it does yours.  It's possible, too, maybe that person knows something you don't know... or maybe he knows nothing of what you already know.  But definitely he is speaking right off his own life journey and experiences.  You would, too, in your own.
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Besides nobody has the monopoly of knowledge or wisdom or information. Further we both may not be seeing the same thing in the same way........... you may be seeing trees but I am looking at its fruits. Like a friend had this crush on a good-looking fella, but I found his manner quite abrasive. But when later I found out why, then I finally understood.
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Seek to be informed. Wait to be informed. With information comes better understanding, compassion, empathy, wisdom.
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As Prather said.....  '..best find out what he or she is looking at.'