Gratitude · Jodythinks · Love/Life · Thanks

Midyear Thoughts

Lately I’ve been thinking about how my year has been going. It has not been the smoothest, and definitely there have been some curveballs that I’m still figuring out how to deal with. 

Suffice to say there’s no shortage of whining and crying about how things have not gone my way. I keep hearing myself saying that I miss my grandmother and how my knees are still not being helpful in my quest to be a better exerciser. The year has not been perfect. However, there have been some bright spots. I am putting these down “on paper” so I can remind myself the next time I’m on the edge again, and find the bright in the dark.

  1. First time in Japan. Osaka. Second time traveling with my cousins, but now a smaller group of four. It was one of the most relaxed, extra food-y trips of my life, and even if we walked around more than 14 kilometers a day, I think all the Japanese rice made us gain a few kilos each. Osaka was a food wonderland at every corner, and seeing the Gion I only used to read about in one of my favorite books when I was in college was amazing. I cannot wait to travel with my cousins again.
  2. A weekend in Taipei. No planning, just booked tickets in a span or a couple hours of agreement that we were actually going to do it, a weekend in Taipei was a yummy jolt to the senses. The best hot pot I’ve ever been to the second time, art spaces and more food, it was a super short trip that only lacked more time for more of the former.
  3. The time and the resources to be able to be with my friends. One of my friends that I’ve known the longest got married this year. Another got his house built. We got to go to weddings. We got to go to the beach to start off the year. We got to go to our family’s town fiesta and introduce two friends to the joy of drenching fellow adults in ice cold water while drinking. We got to have good food cooked by each other (With my sister and I mostly just doing the eating). I met significant others for the first time in a friendship that spans more than a decade and a half. There were big things, and little things, but all these things just cemented the friendships more, even if some of these things were hard to laugh at when it was happening, it was funny eventually.
  4. Taking time for myself and the family at the house. I had always been busy since I enjoyed working. With a night shift job in the past, I had to put my health to the side and just do what I needed to do, take what I needed to take to be able to sleep, and then to stay alert for the post. There was no helping at home, or contributing to the overall cleanliness of the house. I bought what I could to help, but the labor wasn’t really there. I am not saying I’m helping full time now, and I still feel guilty when I don’t think of how to help, or that I really can’t when it comes to the dog’s foodstuff because the smell makes me want to yak, but I hope I’m more helpful. I’m not a saint like my sister, but I do want to be a better contributor. Maybe the taking time for myself is around 70% to the 30% I actually help out around the house with, and mostly with driving my mom around to do her errands, or cooking here and there.

Yeah. 2019 has been a kick in the shin but my life is pretty difficult to complain about overall. Not that I’m challenging the universe to throw more at me because please no I’m just saying I’m grateful still for what I have.

What are you grateful for so far this year?

Cheese · Gratitude · Jodythinks · Love/Life · Thanks

Can I keep you?

Lately I’ve been thinking about loss. With my sister and a friend going to wakes one day after the other, another terrible number up on this year’s wake count, I cannot help but think of who we can keep.

Honestly, I am quite lucky, my parents are both here and generally healthy (I say generally because they are not perfectly there but that’s another conversation entirely). I got time with both grandmothers and one grandfather. My mom’s siblings are all thriving. Cousins are intact and can be direct messaged or sent embarassing videos at any time. Friends who’ve stayed are those who are amazing (and even saw me through my worst when I just wasn’t there for anyone and was just surviving).

But what happens when the loss is unavoidable? A death. A choice. A fight so big it breaks the whole thing. Waking up one day realizing you had nothing in common. It’s inevitable, unavoidable.

Clearly I cling. Some of my closest friends are one that I’ve loved since I was 5 years old. Decades of weirdness, thousands of miles apart, misunderstandings, horribly embarrassing formative years.

And it’s not just them. Some people I’ve met I just want to keep forever. A month ago, a friend I made a year ago basically asked me if she could keep me and I didn’t hesitate. Good women, good men, amazing friends. I’ve been blessed to be surrounded with people that love and support me through something as big as a cancelled wedding to something as small as terribly applied makeup right before we went out in public in her hometown.

So when I ask to keep you, know that I mean it, and I will do my best to deserve to keep my place in your life. Also know you can tell me if I’m doing it the wrong way and you want to run in the other direction. My heart is patched up and perhaps defensive but it has the best intentions. And I intend to keep those who are in it to stay.

Gratitude · Thanks

Thankful Tuesdays

This Tuesday I am grateful for:

  1. Globe’s quick turnaround for our backup internet. Finally on Fiber after 6 months!
  2. Life hack that saved me from buying a replacement travel tumbler. 200 and a very helpful salesguy and my beat up Starbucks tumbler is back in business!
  3. Queer Eye. I love each and every one (but have a soft spot for Bobby and Tan) and they are now my new go to happy show.
  4. Anthony Bourdain. He would have been 62 today (June 25 US time). The world is grateful and we miss you.

What are you grateful for on this gloomy Tuesday?

Thanks

To gratitude

In my life, I have had a lot of things to be thankful for. Experiences that have made me who I am. People that have encouraged me to do better. Opportunities that have gotten me places I never thought possible. Recently I have had  to say thank you for a lot of things as well, and remind myself of what I really have. Taking stock and thinking about things has made me less short overall, but I have to remind myself on a daily basis.

As I said, I write about everyday and mostly I find myself writing down things I am grateful for on Mondays, without even thinking about it. Maybe because Mondays you have to remind yourself to be grateful, or Mondays really give you perspective of the week past and the week coming ahead. This weekend I said thank you a lot and while it may have been a painful conversation at some point, it doesn’t change the gratitude I feel and have felt to the people I had it with.

So I’m sharing today what I’m grateful for to start the week:

1. I am thankful that I was eligible to give blood at a moment’s notice, after a two year hiatus.

2. I am grateful that the medical technologist that assisted me at the Red Cross was super nice and helpful, and it barely hurt even when we had to restart because of thin blood vessels.

3. I am grateful for the inverter aircon in my room that is able to keep me cool and not make me feel too guilty about keeping it on.

4. I am grateful to my dad who brought home lobster, steak, and basil for the bunnies. I only asked for the steak, the rest, he bought on his own.

5. I am grateful for colleagues that know the process and work their darndest.

What are you grateful for today?

Jodythinks · Love/Life · Thanks

3 things that make me happy

If you're happy and you know it
This was a particularly happy moment in the early months of 2011

Well, for one thing, lists. I like lists. They give me a semblance of organization, a purpose, and with my ten second memory, it’s a heck of a good way to track things that I may well soon forget. So now, let me tell you about the things that make me happy today:

1. People I love. Well, no surprise there. When I was discussing what I was passionate about the other night, I couldn’t really give a concrete example that I could back with evidence. Sure, food is there, but hey, food is almost everyone’s passion. I cannot begin to tell you what settings your camera should be in when you’re indoors, outdoors, or any other situation. I write because it’s therapeutic, but I can easily forget about a subject. Then it was pointed out to me that I was passionate about the people I love, and I had to agree. I guess it’s why I’m touchy when a friend is cold. Or a family member is getting hurt, or pissed when someone I care about is seemingly self-destructing and I can’t do anything about it. I am passionate about the people I love, because they make me happy. I want them happy. I go out of my way sometimes to accomplish that. But I digress. Yes. People I love make me happy, just because they exist.

2. Books. Books are my favorite way to while away hours, or drop off to sleep when my head is filled with worry, or anger, or annoyance. Their ability to transport me to another world is amazing. The emotions they can stir with words, and the way they can get you invested in characters that don’t exist beyond imagination. A book is an escape, a friend, a comfort, a distraction, and all other things you want it to be. And while others hold true to books that are in print, I have no qualms about electronic readers, as long as I can lug them around to distract me while I wait for other people to arrive (coz I’m usually the first to get there).

3. Food. I have always had a close relationship with food. And it’s not just eating it, even preparing can make me happy, making people happy with what I cook is always fulfilling too, and it may be one of the simplest things I do that are the quickest in terms of finding gratification. I may have a more complicated relationship with it from before when my metabolism was a monster, but good food is always bound to put a smile on my face.

 

Simple, but can be complicated at times, but happiness is something I always want to have around. Joy can be difficult sometimes in this world, but when you find the good in the small things, it makes it easier for you to get long term happiness.

 

What makes you happy?

Love/Life · Thanks

Simulain at Pangarap: A Night with the PPO at UPD

A couple of weeks ago, I caught a free concert by the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra at the campus of the University of the Philippines Diliman. We saw the posters one day at the campus and decided to go, the day before my sister’s birthday. They were celebrating the 106th commencement exercises at the UPD, and we were only to happy to celebrate with them. It also helped that the conductor was a UST Conservatory of Music graduate, as UST has not had great press lately, it felt good to hear the alma mater mentioned in a positive light. (Also, can I take on the title Maestro in my job because it sounds really cool)

Simulain and Pangarap, to my knowledge, translates to Beginnings and Dreams, so it was really a hopeful, but also nostalgic feel in the air.

So we sat on the grass and enjoyed a couple hours of classical music with a full orchestra.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not one for pure classical music. I cannot distinguish a piece by Mozart from the Nessun Dorma. I like the strings. Cellos, violins, and violas make me happy, and the fact that I didn’t have to dress up for this really helped make it a much more friend easy night out.

And it was such a good night out. There was a light summer breeze, there were families and fancy people dressed up, and people on their first dates just enjoying the music. It was such a great mix of all kinds of groups that I found myself comfortable enough to be that girl that closed her eyes to feel more in touch with the music. I got teary eyed when they performed All I Ask of You as it is still one of my favorite songs, and clapped when the unmistakable melody of Aegis’s Basang Basa Sa Ulan came on.

As a bonus, they played Happy Birthday and it was a few hours until my sister’s, so all the birthday greetings really paled in comparison to “Oh, the Philippine Philharmonic performed full orchestra the Happy Birthday to me.” Smug.

I’ve half a mind to follow the PPO to their next venue as they did say they were touring campuses around the PH, because when else can you say you were serenaded by a full orchestra? For free. Oh yeah.

What a great (free) Friday. When was the last time you enjoyed something free for so much?

P.S. (And in case you needed to start your day with beautiful music, here is the link to their performance of Gaano Ko Ikaw Kamahal at Carnegie Hall)

 

Love/Life · Thanks

Happy Easter!

I like Easter in the Philippines. It seems like everything shuts down, and people get their choice of what to do to spend the really long weekend doing. If you want to brave the crowds at the beach or popular tourist spots, book early and pack a lot of patience. If you want to spend it following the Holy Week traditions with your family , you can do that too, or if you just want to spend it vegging out and exploring the very rarely non-traffic parts of Metro Manila, you can do that too.

While I’m usually with my mom’s family spending the Holy Week, I only got a couple of days in, waking up Good Friday with my nose stuffed up, head swimming and feeling like coughing up my lung, I was barely sociable and weirdly, had a bigger appetite since I couldn’t taste most of the food so my mouth didn’t know when to stop (hi, it’s Jody, I have an excuse to eat more at every turn).  Parent and self imposed rest gave me something I rarely get to do nowadays, which is sleep in at night. Working nights has really changed a lot of routine and my lifestyle, but of the most is just not having to draw my blackout curtains in and closing the windows to get some shut eye.

BUT I DIGRESS (If you’re a new reader, prepare to read this phrase a lot. If you’re an old one, hello, my bag of tricks is the same).

More than Christmas, I feel like the Holy Week is more of a time with options and relaxation, and generally, that keeps people happy. (And there’s no pressure of having to buy presents for everyone you’re going to see, so there’s points for that too)

So take a page from The Guy Up There and use this as a renewal, a celebration of new beginnings. From the ashes, the pain, the grueling torture He went through, he got up and got shiny new again. And if He went through that, you’re okay with what you went through too. If you’re not a believer of these things, then just use this time (you still have several hours) to get a new haircut, sleep in, go to your favorite restaurant, get a day trip in your favorite beach, and wake up tomorrow refreshed, happier, with new beginnings. Because you deserve it. Because you’ve earned it.

How was your Holy Week? Are you going back to your Monday grind a happier person? I hope you are.

Jodythinks · Thanks

A day with the Laguna Pit Bulls

Jack, who’s chill and cuddly.

 

I found out about CARA’s rescue of the pit bulls a long time ago but I only found the time to get there last year, and my outlook of love for animals has changed since.

You see in March of 2012, hundreds of dogs were rescued from a dog fighting operation in Laguna and about a month later, CARA Welfare Philippines gave the dogs a home, love and care since. It’s been more than 5 years, and still around 88 dogs still need to find homes, have medical care, and share the love they still have for humans, which, considering what they’ve been through, is a miracle in itself.

So we volunteered to spend the day with the pit bulls at their sanctuary. We went through the screening process, sent them a filled up application form, sent them government IDs and after about two weeks, found ourselves around the sweetest dogs ever.

When you get there your heart invariably melts because they are all excited and happy to see you. You get oriented and shown around to meet the dogs, and are encouraged to put your hand with treats into their cages to say hi. Consider that. These dogs that were raised to fight, gingerly fishing the treat from your hand and licking you at first contact. I, without exaggeration, have not met a friendlier group of dogs kept in cages. This is ultimately due to the constant rehabilitation, love and attention CARA’s full time staff provides them, which I believe has to be the most heartbreaking but also most fulfilling job one can undertake for the love of a dog.

We got to walk them and throw a ball around with several dogs, but there’s a lot of work you can do around the space. You can bathe them or help brush or clean the cages and space. You can donate here if you don’t have the time to spare. You can reblog and spread the word through social media so others can help. If you have the space and the love, you can foster. Best yet, you can find a place for your home for a pit bull of your own. The process is stringent but also, fair as the organization wants these dogs who have spent almost their whole lifetime waiting for a home, to find a good, permanent one.

It is ultimately my wish to help these dogs find their forever home, and encourage my friends (and even am volunteering to drive and cover the adoption fee) to open their homes up for these loves who just want to be loved back. I currently have my hands tied because my home is not fully behind the idea of pit bulls (it will take some time to rehabilitate pit bull reputations around here), but I am sincerely hoping to help get someone the love of their life. And by that I meant if you want someone to love you for the rest of their life, open your heart to a Laguna Pit Bull, and see how your life will change.

Cheese · Jodythinks · Thanks

On looking at the bright side

Most people hate the rain, and why wouldn’t they? It makes driving harder, which makes it more traffic to get to work or wherever it is you need to get to, and so on and so forth. It soaks your outfit, makes a mess on the floor, makes your dad yell at you when you come in with wet Chuck Taylors (long story).
But it also makes for this view at the Banaue Rice Terraces:

Walang tapon,
Walang tapon,

 

We forget how beautiful nature is sometimes when it’s beating down on us and is seemingly endlessly depressing. We forget that it makes the grass green, the trees lush, flowers bloom, fruits exist. The beauty of nature is that it doesn’t merely exist, it sustains. Food. Air. Overall nourishment. It took us 14 hours in a van to get to here, and I’d like to think it was worth every second. What about that view, eh? It’s intensely gorgeous without trying to hard, and it makes food too.

 

What view are you grateful for today?