Wednesday, October 27, 2010

New Balance

The rain falls cold this morning. My throat is sore. We have a whole day of work to do. Some of my staff got home at 2am. Manuals need to be signed. Last week’s pace was embraced by a creative flow. Filled journals. Sketchbooks painted on. I began to understand the rhythm of visual art as it helped me channel my thoughts into words. This week’s rhythm slightly changes. I feel like delving into reading more than drawing. Sometimes I find the changes peculiar and contradicting. I have questions in my head like, “Why do I feel like drawing now and then a week later I feel like reading?” I suppose it is the nature of creativity. A pattern I need to get used to as I continue to integrate my brain into wholeness of thinking and being.

My aunt Elvira left today. She stayed with us for 3 weeks. She visited my Mom and spent time with her. I never thought I’d appreciate her presence so much till this past 3 weeks. It gave me a little bit of breathing room. And I’m sure it helped my Mom because she had company almost every moment.

I’ve had good conversations with my aunt during her stay. I noticed that she really enjoyed talking about the faith. She just recently entered the Third Order of the Carmelites just like my grandmother before her. Her presence was wrapped in peace. She talked about the saints that were dear to her and the moments she found sacred. Those conversations were refreshing. I found her very patient. On days when I would find myself slowly getting impatient with my Mom because of her mood swings, she would sit there quietly observing everything.

Life goes back to normal now. We prepare for Mom’s 3rd chemotherapy cycle this weekend.

I have found a new hobby through biking. I discovered that I enjoyed the wind rushing past when I go downhill. I realized that I should control my breathing when I am going uphill so that I can endure the tension in my legs as I pedal throughout the climb. I realized that Gatorade helps me last longer more than water. And I realized that I need to buy bike lights if I want to keep biking at night.

It’s all about the new balance.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I Wanted To Write

I have been wanting to write about the past several days but to no avail. The thoughts wouldn’t just form in my mind. The moments just pass by me. I had wanted to describe the feeling of thinking about my young niece as she boarded the plane back home last year. She has skin asthma and her mom sent her to the Philippines to get well because the weather in the US was too much for her. She’s only 3 years old. Traveling to and fro. I wonder what anxiety heaves behind her chest.

I wanted to write about walking around the village at night with friends on their bikes while enjoying the night air and the half-moon watching down from the skies. I wanted to remember how the silence felt like and how peaceful it was to be in so much quiet.

I wanted to write about the words of Madeleine L’engle that continue to haunt me towards the last few pages of A Circle of quiet. And the words of Catherine Doherty which are now teaching me to find importance in the practice of prayer.

I wanted to write about the awesome night of worship I attended last Friday and how the prayers were aligned to the groanings in our hearts. Where lukewarm faith should no longer be tolerated and the encouragement to seek even more hungrily for God to consume our entirety.

I wanted to write about my Mom’s difficulty and mood swings as she experiences with more intensity the side effects of her second chemo. And how she felt depressed that her blood test showed 4 low indicators in her immune system this time around. I wanted her to see more than just low numbers and see God doing something more than make the numbers higher.

I wanted to write about this pursuit of authentic faith and how challenging it can be to balance with all the obligations and the responsibilities around me. How difficult it is to see things you planned happen as you planned because of the wave of unpredictable circumstances all clamoring for attention.

I want to write about the impulses that my reflections make me feel. The yearning to possess utmost peace. The frantic search for meaning. The almost desperately thirst for the complete understanding of God’s love.

I am not able to draw out the words as deliberately as I would have wanted to but I hope this meager attempt can be enough.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

What Reading “A Circle of Quiet” Has Gotten Me Into

Madeleine L’Engle’s books arrived from my order on July 14, 2009. I was ecstatic. I picked them up at the post office myself and couldn’t wait till I got home to open them.

It has been over a year since I started with the first volume of the Crosswicks Journals and now I am proud to say that I have finally reached the last few chapters and am 80% finished.

I have to confess, I’m such a mighty procastinator when it comes to my creative life. Reading through Circle of Quiet has shook me at an intensity of 7.1 in the Richter scale. It had me face the facts.

I am scared to pursue my dream of becoming a writer because I feel that this desire has been invalidated 5 years ago when I decided to take a detour and go for an MBA to meet my parents’ expectations of giving myself a stable future. I am scared to journey alone. I am scared about the amount of time it would need from me and I am not sure the weight of work obligations will allow me to do what is needed. I am scared that all the time and money spent in pursuing this dream will not make me produce anything at all.

Aside from that it has made me face a lot of my desires that I have set aside since I started the responsible trek of being a professional HR practioner.

I have set aside my desire of putting up a foundation that will bring an appreciation of arts back into the youth of my country. A foundation that will open opportunities for young people to live authentic and faithful lives through practicing and appreciating artistic mediums and crafts. I have set aside the research I have begun 2 years ago in putting up this foundation. I have set aside dreaming about the people I will be working with to help me set it up.

I have set all that aside because I am afraid I have always pressed against roadblock after roadblock and there seems to be just no way to go about it.

That’s the dirty laundry so far.

Reading L’Engle’s journal has shook me because it showed how much of a coward I have been. Hiding behind the guise of an occupation that allows me to live a comfortable lifestyle and engage in some of the things that I enjoy. And I call it sacrifice. But who am I kidding?

It is not sacrifice. It is repression. Sacrifice is like incense that burns a sweet aroma under the feet of God. Repression breeds bitterness and the foul smell of rotting dreams.

So the next few days of chronicling will be about what I have done to be a step nearer the dream I have held for quite a long time and hopefully I will recognize again and be propelled into the motions of pursuing it.

Has all been about getting in touch with the flow. Responding quite introspectively to all the things I am reading. Responding positively to the interactions around me. Digging up the truth about what I really think and feel about a person, an issue, a circumstance.

I have also started searching for avenues and channels where I can learn about pursuing creative writing and landed with Stanford, Harvard, UCLA extension courses online. So far what has interested me was a short 10 week course in Stanford on Creative Writing as a Way of Life. Unfortunately the course is closed but I applied under the wait list just in case. I haven’t surveyed Harvard and UCLA options thoroughly enough but should get on it soon.


A burst of anxiety has forced me to ravage the web for information on possibilities to engage in creative writing. I emailed my business school mentor to ask for information and talked to her about my idea of a foundation. She said that the idea was good but the financial aspects of it might be a problem. I have not released my trump card on the matter but I talked to my Dad today about the idea and he has known me for being persistent about it. He told me that he has also been thinking about putting up one.

A Facebook message to a writer friend asking her thoughts about studying writing and lit engaged us in one of the animated discussions I’ve been waiting to have for the longest time. She told me to check out the Ateneo for opportunities and from there I landed at the Center for Continuing Education website and found that there is a Literature Appreciation course that will run for 4 Saturdays starting November 13 to December 4. Is that a divine appointment or what?

I told my parents about it and so far they are in agreement. So what is this fear thudding behind my chest? Sigh. It’s been a while since I did something outside my comfort zone. But I shouldn’t stop there. I have to get myself out there.

Jesus started his minister at age 33.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Things I Remember From My Mentors in School

I should always get out of bed the moment I wake up on weekends. I seem to accomplish a little bit more when it comes to my solitary moments. So far, I have spent 3 hours solitary at the new sacred space in the garden. An hour of living the internet life and 2 hours reading Madeleine L’Engle’s book. I am less groggy. And less lethargic.

Digging into A Circle of Quiet for the last stretch of chapters. I may just finish this book in a record time of 1 month (this greatly frustrates and disappoints me because I used to be able to finish a book in 1 day). Still I move forward however slowly and find my way back to my writer’s rhythm.

L’Engle provokes me to pay good attention. I wish she were still alive. I’d really appreciate some good mentoring loving care.

I miss having a good mentor.

Recalling my mentors back in gradeschool, highschool, college and business school in this (hopefully) brief roll call.

Ms. Bocalbos. Was my 3rd grade reading teacher. She was stout and had a very stern face. She had a high and round forehead which she made sure was prominently protruding every reading class by tying her hair back in a tight bun. I can still hear her firm voice and her thick fat lips enunciating every word read from the page. I was a slow reader and I had a hard time catching up. The words would glide past my attention and would selectively settle themselves in my poor memory. I flunked that class and had to get myself a reading tutor after that.

Ms. Windsor. Was my 2nd year high school English Teacher. By this time I’d have picked up a pace of reading an average of 3 books a week. But I have never gotten the rhythm for English classics. We had no choice but to read them and my first love in English Literature was Wuthering Heights. Ms. Windsor’s name always begged the question, “Is she a foreigner?” I was never really sure. She was thin and had a square face. Her mouth was always in a strict fine line located a little lower than usual which drew a lot of attention between her upper lip and her nose. She didn’t like nonsense and provoked a lot of fear as she stomped her way into the classroom. I will never forget her lecture about the poem Invictus and Robert Frost’s The Road Less Travelled. I challenged myself to reading Macbeth for our last quarter’s term paper. I knew she loved Shakespeare and I wanted to see if I could get her on my side for the last stretch. She gave me an A minus.

I cannot remember my favorite teacher in college for some reason so I’ll move on to graduate school.

Professor Cecile Manikan. I would call her the most holistic of all my mentors. She prided herself of being able to bridge her left and right brain. An artist herself who like me, challenged herself to survive in business school has come out of it alive and refreshed with a clear set of principles and an empowered worldview. Just like all my mentors, she came in the package of a strict woman who had a deliberate walk and a sharp tongue. But deep inside is the calm of a peaceful spirit and a contemplative soul. She was the refreshing spring that watered my drought of soulful interactions as the lectures in the case room pounded on my left brain until it broke into pieces. She made me understand why that kind of crucifixion was necessary. She made me learn how to be comfortable in the discomfort of life’s pruning. I suppose I really resonated with her teachings because she had the same journeys as me.

Professor Eduardo Morato. Was the scariest teacher I’ve ever had in my entire life. Every time you utter a word you would end up fearing a barrage of insults flying back at you because of your poor intellectualization of the lecture. He looks like a lazy drunk who just stepped out of bed and would look you in the eye catching you off guard saying, “Open the case.” Your palms would sweat and your breathing would fluctuate because it felt like a general’s order to wage war against an unforeseen enemy. But he taught me about the secret of a leader’s success. And I learned that it was about being able to attach like a passionate lover and detach like an indifferent foe at the same time.

All these mind twists and paradoxes of thought broke the mindsets I owned for quarter of a century. It definitely gave me a lot of migraines and sleepless nights. But they all taught not to settle for less. And when push comes to shove, all you need is a good anchor on your soul so you can bend to the direction of the wind and never lose sight of the direction you want to grow into.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Morning Encounter with Orange the Stray

It sat there lazily oblivious I was walking towards him. Orange our resident stray cat found a new place to hang out now the gazebo has been set up in our garden. He looked annoyed when he saw me. As if to say, “Awww you’re up so early! I barely got some shut eye. The night was a long hunt for scraps down the next street. Some teenager’s birthday party.”

I didn’t budge and looked flatly at him.

“Okay fine, I’ll scoot.” He jumped off and slyly walked into the bushes and out of my sight.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

After A Long Incubation

The week felt long and short at the same time. If I can only grasp the words to say it all I’d be the most liberated person alive. But oh, how complicated can thoughts be that one has to be really still just to find all of them swimming to and fro between the right and left hemisphere of my brain.

Stillness of the mind after a long activity at work is usually a challenging feat for me. But here I am still trying to carve my way into creativity.

This morning I had a moment savored. I was driving at 120kph up Aguinaldo Highway going towards Tagaytay for the last day of our Strategic Planning Workshop. The sun has just about risen. A Starbucks grande caramel macchiatto on my left hand pulled close to my chin. The light of the sun’s rays cast lightly down the left side of my face causing me to see a glow from the left windshield. A bird flies overhead. And the road was long that the drive felt like flying.

I had some words tucked in my mind and spoke them softly to myself. I can vaguely remember them but I remember saying…

Even if I do not see the whole world with my own two eyes, at least I can still close them and savor a dream.

It felt reassuring to be able to say that to myself. I ended up passing by Pink Sisters House of Prayer before going to the hotel. I spent a good 30 minutes just sitting there waiting for the tears to fall. It’s one of those moments of stillness that never escape you when you are in a consecrated house of prayer. I suppose the grace is overwhelming. And when you are at loss for words, there is nothing else to express your heart with except tears.

So I sat there and let the feelings and thoughts dance with the solace until I was overcome by a calm I couldn’t explain.