Life Skill #8: Pliability (Bent, but Unbroken)

There will be times when life becomes really grindy, your troubles unbearable. And that deep sense of helplessness, and self-pity, and rage all at once gnaws its way into your heart and eats you from the inside.

You've had your worst time yet, or so it seems. And it is in your darkest hours that your true colors are revealed. Or reversed.

Some succumb to despair and never recover. But there are those who can weather their darkest hours and come through unscathed. Like an oak, they bend but do not break. Wouldn't you be one of them?

You can develop this life skill today if you will. Here are three practical tips to begin with:

  1. Stop taking (almost) everything personally. Realize that it's not always about you. Most of the time, nothing others do or how they behave has anything to do with you or about you. When you always take things personally, you are giving other people more power over you than they deserve or should ever be allowed. Instead, make it a habit to create a space between yourself and your reactions to evaluate the truth about any given situation.

  2. Stop beating yourself up over (even the least of your) mistakes. We're living in a success-driven, celebrity-obsessed culture today and the pressure is so daily we cringe at the slightest hint of 'failure' coming our way. And there's that annoying voice inside of you that berates you for less than wise choices, or actions. Often, this voice gets the better of you. Because it's a crippling feeling to think that you're not good enough. Stop. Just stop, right now. Sure, acknowledge your failures and amend the ones you can, but let go of those you simply can't. Remember, 'you' are only what you've got left when everything and everyone else fails. They eventualy will. So, love yourself. You deserve that, too.

  3. Start each day with thoughts of gratitude and appreciation for everyday things. Gratitude is a necessary habit. It has the power to pull in a chain of good things into your life if you simply practice it everyday—in your thoughts, actions, and words. From that steaming cup of coffee you get to enjoy every morning, to the safe ride home you get into at the end of the day—learn to appreciate everything! And soon enough your life will be filled with so much positivity it will be hard to break you down with even the hardest blow life throw your way.
Today, we're living in such a restless and confused world that it's become even harder to find your own sense of meaning and purpose amid it all. You get tossed and bent in every direction imaginable. Sometimes, life knocks you flat to the ground. But still you will rise and trudge on.

Because you're pliable. You bend but do not break. You have the uncanny ability to accept all the punches and fireballs life hurls your way yet remain unfazed and holding steadfast to your values no matter how worst it can get.
“Have the capacity to adapt to change, it's your healthy growth, intelligently and emotionally. Our life can be full of extrinsic surprises, your flexibility is a key when you accept changes.” ― Angelica Hopes

3 Life Lessons My Mother Taught Me That I'll Never Forget

Mothers are special. I know. I had one. As adults, we've all learned our best life lessons from them, for some even more.

As for me, my mother's life has marked my own in ways only daughters can understand.

Today, I'd like to share a few life lessons my mother has taught me that has molded my adult life into one that seeks to find meaning and purpose in everything I do, think, and feel.

So, here goes...
  1. On family and relationships: "Love is an act of your will. You will not, you love not."

    Mom took care of us, deliberately looking after our welfare everyday. She memorized our birthdays by heart. I'll never forget how she'd persistently ask me to call my brothers in every special occasion without fail just so she can talk to them. She celebrated our little victories with pride and shared our pains in failures or disappointments. Even fatigue never stopped her from making sure we all wore clean, ironed clothes to school; that we brought delicious baons or packed lunches (home-cooked meals she'd prepare in the wee hours of the morning) to school or work; that we came home to sumptuous dinners at the end of the day. I'll never forget what she told me when I asked her the secret to cooking delicious meals: "You always cook well when you love the ones you're cooking for." (Masarap ang luto mo kapag mahal mo ang mga taong ipinagluluto mo.)

    The "love" I've seen, felt, and grew up with was the kind that always forgave, was selfless, was patient and tolerant of our weaknesses, gave until it hurt, and yet was quick to correct our follies and point us back to the right direction. All because she intentionally loved us, her family. Even in her death bed, she willed herself to ensure I can personally handle life on my own, without her by my side. She didn't let go until I assured her so.

  2. On dealing with people: "Acts of kindness matter. Especially small, unnoticed ones."

    I have personally seen how she treated lowly people, especially lowly people, we've met in her lifetime. She always acted in compassion and grace. Her ministry was teemed with women who were always drawn to her because she genuinely looked after their welfare. She gave until she had nothing left to give. She secretly helped people with every chance she got.

    In her wake, women, children, and families showed up with stories of how their lives were made better because of her kindness. And it is humbling to know. Indeed, her life mattered because she never got tired showing kindness when it mattered, where it mattered.

  3. On work and ministry: "Whatever you do, put your heart on it. Else, don't do it."

    My mother, she always took pride in the works of her hands—whether it was laundry, crocheted doily, hand-sewn kitchen whatnots, her garden, her cooking—and would obssessively re-do anything that didn't quite look perfect or "best" in her own standards. She shunned mediocrity (Hindi pwede and 'pwede na yan'.).

    I got the best career advise from her: "Never do your work halfheartedly. It reflects who you are and what you're made of." I've always loved that about her. While she never got materially rich (and amazingly, she never complained about it), her personal excellence marked my life and that of the many others whose lives she has touched.

We all live cluttered lives these days. Distractions are all around us so much so that we simply forget to live intentionally, to make our "life" matter.

We need to slow down, really, and take time to notice.

“Understand and be confident that each of us can make a difference by caring and acting in small as well as big ways.” ~ Marian Wright Edelman

The Long Run

I lie unmoving, paralyzed
I stagger to my feet
oblivious to the glares of
blinding lights around me

I stand and fumble
my face stuck to the ground
I groan in pain—
a gush of warmth sweeps over me

It rushes to my veins
like venom, its choking me—
and still I rise
unrelenting, albeit weaker …

I resolve to run this race
to the last phase
I will not give up without a fight
I will not lose helpless!

I'm pushing forward,
I will be

By a rare stroke of insight, or perhaps sleeplessness, my writing mojo is back :)