If You’re Missing your Mom this Mother’s Day

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FOREWORD: My family and I loss our beloved Mom in September 2, 2016 and this is the first Mother’s Day that we’ll be missing her. This post is also for those out there who are missing their  Moms during this occasion. 

The love of a mother is irreplaceable, and doesn’t die, even when she does. And today, in this part of the world is Sunday, and also is, Mother’s Day. A time to honor and celebrate your mother. While it is a great day and a wonderful opportunity to make your Mom feel special, it can be a hard day if your Mom has passed away. It’s a reminder of the loss you feel and carry with you everyday.

Many people have dealt with the grief of losing a parent or loved one, and they are very familiar with the foreshadowing of pain that usually follows Mother’s Day.

It’s difficult to convince yourself to celebrate this day the same way, since many people (myself included) have since considered themselves to be “motherless.”

In the past, this day was always one for admiration and love; it was a day that encouraged you to show your gratitude for the woman who brought you into this world.

But after you lose a parent, it almost seems as though the day’s only purpose is to remind you of your loss.

You see, the hardest part about all of this is the idea that she really will miss everything.

Family gatherings, holiday celebrations, special occasions such as Mother’s Day,  first child and all those other silly moments you never noticed were important until you couldn’t anymore share them with her.

All of these tribulations make it easy to resent a holiday like Mother’s Day; a day where others are filled with love, comfort and happiness.

It is a day many people take for granted because they no longer revel in it with the same contentment.

As time passes, however, you learn to cope with these emotions and although no amount of time could fully heal a wound so deep, it does allow you to find strength.

Strength that will heal you in more ways than you could ever imagine. It allows your pain to reinforce you, not define you.

And although this process is very different for many, strength allows some of the beauty in life to creep back into your view.

It transforms your grief into serenity, fear into assurance and hopelessness into promise.

For those lucky ones who still have their mothers at their side, I ask that as you rummage through the aisles of stores for the “perfect gifts” to give to them, you remember that you are the best one they could ever ask for.

Spend those last few extra moments on the phone with her; fold the clothes on the dryer (or any household chores) the first time she asks you to; listen to her terrible music because you know it makes her happy.

My deepest regret is that because I was so blindsided before, I didn’t know my last conversation with my Mom would be just that: Our last. No one is guaranteed another day, so remember to make it count.

To all of those who have lost a mother, parent or loved one, know this: They are not lost, and we are not motherless.

Celebrate this day even more so than before, for both her and you. Rejoice her life, her light and your fondest memories of her.

Remember she has a front row seat to your life and know she wouldn’t dare miss even the slightest instance of it.

Lastly, to my beautiful and courageous mother: Happy Mother’s Day. Thank you for contributing so incredibly to the person I am today.

You have given me more strength than most could ever hope to attain in a lifetime, and I am forever grateful for that.

We all hold a very special place in our hearts for you that will never be replaced. You always promised me I had guardian angels watching over me, and I’m more sure of that now than ever before.

I love you so much, and I look forward to the day I can see your smile and hear your laugh again.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the wonderful mothers out there!

Enjoy this day with your loved ones. You deserve it.

Building Connections that Matter

 

Rear View of Group of Friends Hugging

Everything in life begins with connection. In each moment, we are choosing to join or separate – to connect or disconnect – and the person to whom we’re speaking feels what we have chosen regardless of our words.

What makes relationships challenging often comes down to one factor – we build the relationship from the outside in, believing something we want is not happening because of someone else who is outside of us. We must learn to connect first with ourselves and create a relationship from the inside out. These are what I believed in: building heart-to-heart connections is that even though it takes two people to create a relationship, the responsibility for connecting starts with you; and that everything depends on your level of awareness.

Relationships begin with being at peace with yourself – having a connection with yourself that nothing can break from the outside. Other people become a reflection of the loving, kind, peaceful relationship you have with yourself. You cannot receive what you cannot give. The scenery out there reflects the situation in here. Working from the outside in, more often than not, will fall short of the ideal, and leads to frustration, conflict and lack of fulfilment in the end.

We can choose to connect with another person or not, but we cannot choose to disconnect with ourselves. Many people are uncomfortable with this truth – they spend vast amounts of time trying to escape themselves, with all kinds of activities, work and distractions.

For many, their sense of self is ego-based. Individual egos have self-centered aims, tastes, desires, opinions, likes or dislikes. The very construct of the ego brings with it a built in conflict with other egos. If you think about it, it’s surprising that separate egos, each with their own set of rules and agendas, ever get together in the first place. When they do, their connections always risk unravelling because each ego is primarily tied with what it wants. 

To my opinion, the true self is a state of awareness, not a thing, mood, sensation or feeling. All it takes is a shift in awareness to discover that love, peace and lack of conflict exist inside of us, and have the power to change any situation. Indeed, the values you most cherish are not something to seek out and find. They are something that have always belonged to you. The only thing you need to do is recognise them.

Photo source: business2community.com

Friendship Demands Truth

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These past few days, my wife and I had been making plans to meet up with some friends we haven’t seen  for quite sometime now. Trips are already booked. We are (I mean, my wife is) finalizing the plans once we get to the place of one of our friends whom we are visiting and we’ll be staying with during said trip. Purpose of the visit: to catch some time together and rekindle the fires of friendship that had gone cold over the years of limited communications. How time has swiftly passed us all, leaving us missing each other and the memories of the times we’ve shared together. 

There are friendships that serve as wallflowers and there are those that remain true no matter what. This post is dedicated to one of the basic truths about friendship. Forget about the sweet, soft and cheesy ones for a while, let’s take it to the core and talk about the  bones — the hard stuff that holds friendship stand steadfast and strong — Truth.

What does it mean to be a friend — to be kind to another human being? We are taught in this culture that being kind means not making another person feel bad. We are conditioned to believe that it is virtuous to hide our strengths to save another from experiencing their weaknesses, to deny our blessings so that another avoids feeling their sorrows. Is this kindness? Is this friendship — to put away our truth so as to save another from experiencing their own truth — which might be sad? If this is true friendship, it is of an odd sort — true friendship that does not include the truth. Hiding the truth may keep a relationship going smoothly, but going smoothly is a paltry goal for such a precious and profound entity as friendship. When we choose smooth sailing over truth, we underestimate the weight that friendship can hold; we dishonor the very substance from which friendship is made. Are we so afraid of suffering as to be willing to sacrifice even friendship in order to avoid it?

To be a true friend is not to pretend that we don’t have different experiences in life, don’t receive different blessings and challenges. It is not to pretend that life is fair. A friendship that creates a shared experience at the lowest common denominator is not a friendship, but rather some kind of hiding place from life. We don’t need more hiding places. What we need are more foxhole buddies, true friends who can keep us company in the truth, and in the hard parts, where life isn’t okay or fair.

In truth, we do not need more ways to skirt the sorrows that are part of life, more strategies for keeping the waters smooth. What we need are friends who can accompany us through the bumpy and different truths of life. True friendship is about meeting in the place of truth, and loving and supporting each other there. Anything else is just a paler shade of polite.

I guess that’s where our (my wife and I) relationships with our friends was grounded and has grown over the years.

What are your thoughts about friendship?

Photo credits: quoteslife101.net

The Beauty of Screwing Up

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The Philippines, being a country with Christian-majority populace, is entering a religious period worldly-known as Holy Week. It [Holy Week] is the annual commemoration of the Passion of Christ. It’s not just another religious tradition. We aren’t celebrating the fact that the Son of God suffered and died, but Christians (particularly Roman Catholics) are recognizing and honoring His sacrifice, accompanying Him spiritually and physically, as if we had been there with Him, two thousand years ago.

In other words, Holy Week is when Christians observe the anniversary of the last days of Jesus’ life on earth: His passion, death, and resurrection. (Source)

For me, Holy Week usually reminds me of the grace of God shown on the cross as atonement for our sins. But, in a way, it likewise has me thinking about regret and guilt — you know, the usual suspects when it comes to feeling shameful about yourself because of your wrongdoings and shortcomings as a person.

During the duration of the celebration, Catholics take the time to somehow atone for their sins, to clean the slate, to clear their conscience, and to generally make things right, while some fast for hours, others even allowed themselves to be nailed on a cross, as payment and punishment for the year’s past misdeeds or sins committed in their lives.

Sad but true, when it’s all over, most people go back to hiding their flawed selves again, burying their shame and wrongdoings as deeply as possible, never to see the light of day until they bring them out again next year for reflection and renewal.

I say atone it AND own it. Not just for one day, nor within the duration of a certain tradition’s celebration, but for LIFE.

SOMETIMES THE WRONG CHOICES BRING US TO THE RIGHT PLACES

Looking back, maybe you did some things in life that you’re not proud of; maybe you made some poor choices or unwise decisions; maybe you did some major screw-ups that sabotaged you or hurt others; maybe you acted impulsively, or didn’t act at all when you should have.

In other words, you screwed up. Join the club, we’ve all been members at one time or another.

But rather than beat yourself up for it, is it possible to accept your screw-ups with respect instead of regret? Is it possible to take your failures and mistakes and see them not as liabilities, but as assets that gave you more character, depth, and soul?

You may have screwed up big time, but you’re not screwed out of luck: the wrong choices you made yesterday could very well be taking you to the right places today.

EMBRACE YOUR PERFECTLY BEAUTIFUL IMPERFECTIONS

Instead of letting your screw-ups get the best of you, why not make the best of them? I say embrace your perfectly beautiful imperfections, and make peace with your flaws because chances are, they made you who you are today: someone who’s smarter, wiser, stronger, and more resilient.

This is why screwing up can be beautiful. It gives you incredible gifts of insight and clarity, as well as opportunities to put your guilt and remorse to good use: like making positive changes in your life and staying on the path of right action.

YOUR PAST WAS NEVER A MISTAKE IF YOU LEARNED FROM IT

Screwing up will test you, tease you, torment you, and ultimately teach you things about yourself you never knew. The key is learning the lessons. You never want to waste a perfectly good mishap by not learning from it (nor would you want to ruin one by repeating it).

I’ve had some good doses of screw-ups in my day: I squandered time and opportunities; I either wasn’t thinking, wasn’t aware, or wasn’t paying attention; I missed the boat, took my eye off the ball, and made unforced errors. I wish I could go back in time and do it over, but I can’t. I can only be thankful for the lessons I learned and the wisdom it gave me.

In other words, I screwed up, therefore I am.

Everyday we have a chance to make things right, to repent, to make amends, and to do things differently. And of course, every day we have a chance to practice FORGIVENESS: screwing up’s best friend.

Just remember, “To err is human; to forgive, divine.” To actually do this is pretty much awesome.

I’m fairly certain that screwing up makes one a better person. We’re all a work in progress, and the learning process never stops. Trial and error, live and learn, you know the drill. The challenge is to remove judgment and condemnation from your path so you can turn self-loathing into self-loving.

The Social Media Paradox

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Late last year while I was at a conference, I had an interesting conversation with someone I met there. It started when he noticed me simultaneously browsing thru Pinterest and Instagram on my phone while checking on WordPress on my laptop, and he confessed that he uses no social media despite the urging from his friends and family. For him, social media is a negative experience and is not conducive to his wants and values. That was his opinion and I respect it. Just as he respects my views when I told him my work and passions lend themselves to using social media. However, that conversation now led me to think about it in a deeper way. To it, I believe that intent and purpose are the driving factors that should be omnipotent in your relationship with social media. Is it a healthy experience for your life or is it distracting from your true values, or defining your decisions?

Social media has been a revelation to many and launched many careers. There are countless incredible accounts which have given us that all important spark of imagination or needed motivation. All of these things are wonderful – but know where the line is and where it is for you. What are your driving factors?

On the the flipside of our ability to now mass-express, we should think about whether our capabilities to interact and communicate with others on more intricate levels are suffering. How we communicate with each other has been said to be 90% body language.

An early girlfriend of Steve Jobs said that while he created something that connected the whole world, he himself couldn’t make a connection with anyone on a personal level.

What happens to our relationships when conversations are replaced with emojis?

Are we losing the subtle intricacies that come from a look or slight movement? Are we losing our attention to detail, our ability to focus or our imaginations that used to be forced to build color, people and stories amongst the pages of brilliant writers.

And in the words of one of my favorite writers, Sixto Rodriguez, I wonder.

Is this all just our way of coping with the world’s crumbling lack of etiquette, manners, moral codes and common decency? – or is it the cause of it?

I love coining quotes as much as I love reading them. I even logged into Pinterest and read hundreds of ‘pinned’ quotes. I’ve noticed some of my friends love posting quotes too, on one of the leading social media platform there is – Facebook.

You may ask, ‘Is there a problem to it?’ Nothing of huge significance, I suppose. But hear me out on this…

I believe our modern, tech-savvy lifestyles are rewarding immediacy over applied perseverance; rewarding quick, superficial gains which in turn, and rather ironically, makes many of the social’ised quotes hypocritical. Hypocritical to their very core because while we’re all well aware of the perseverance things worth achieving actually takes, (at least I hope we’re all aware), more often than not, we’re happy to take the short-cut out.

The epitome of these short-cuts being oxymorons like “Live authentically”, which is captioned under a photo of a hot boy/girl on a beach then posted to thousands of “friends” or “followers” (most of whom they haven’t personally met face to face) and subsequent “likes” on {insert social media channel here}, is just an example.

What has the world come to when people are posting things that they clearly have no connection with, and then putting them out to “friends” in the social medias. This does not amount to business sales, genuine relationships, or your own self-worth and growth. It does not tell the world you’re happy, living truthfully or that you’re a fly by the seat of your pants type happy.

It does the exact opposite. It diffuses your true self and enhances your false self.

Are we so afraid to be sad, bad, wrong, uncool, uncouth – or a combination of all of these that we have to fake a light and happy existence because we’ve skipped past the nuances of the quotes we’re reading and their implied perseverance and jumped right on to the (seemingly) quick fix happy?

Happiness. To me anyway, is a habit. It’s a choice and it’s an applied perseverance. It’s not a blessed or perfect life and it’s not a social post. It’s not immediate and it’s not fleeting. It’s not dependent on outside factors or likes. I am not Buddha and I am not Gandhi, I don’t have the answers – but I feel like paying more attention to the here and now, the people who are actually behind the technology (that’s us by the way) – might help create some lasting happy habits of my own.

My point being: social media status does not define you and your happiness and success. If your post  authentically expresses your state of happiness and success, well and good. Otherwise, look for that something by which you can express them truthfully.

 

Make Fear your friend and ally

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Even the wisest people regularly make decisions that seem rational — but aren’t.

While we often think of ourselves as rational creatures, the bigger a dilemma is or the more important a dream is, the more our choices become clouded by fear.

Have you ever turned down an exciting opportunity and played it safe instead? Have you ever made a decision out of anger and ended up hurting someone you love? Have you ever gotten so stressed that you went into survival mode and started obsessing over tiny things instead of focusing on the bigger picture? Or have you had times where you became addicted to achievement and approval?

I have. And pretty much everyone I know has done so, too. There are many faces of fear and each shows up as a limitation — as a defect that distorts our decisions, sabotages our leadership, and holds us back from the things we most want in life.

However, we usually don’t notice this. Like an iceberg, 90 percent of our fears remain out of sight, stored away in our unconscious mind. But that doesn’t mean they’re gone. Like trying to look through a layer of brown cooking grease that has been spread across a piece of glass, our hidden insecurities distort our vision and color our choices.

Instead of proclaiming themselves as such, our fears most commonly show up as innocent sounding statements that sound so reasonable — yet aren’t.

Looking deep within and in retrospect. I often caught myself on various occasions saying or thinking about the following words:

“I’m upset because…”
“I need…”
“I should…”
“I shouldn’t…”
“You shouldn’t…”
“You must…”
“I’m stressed because…”
“I can’t…”
“Yeah, I’d like to, but…”
“If I could just stop procrastinating, I would…”

Do you ever find yourself saying any of the said lines too?

If so, welcome to the human race. While each of these statements can be rational, I strongly believe that they’re almost always a sign that your choices aren’t clean, and that your decisions are being distorted by your unconscious fears.

For example, I often find myself saying things like, “I’m upset because I don’t have more money.” “I should be working harder.” “Yeah, I’d like to go on a long beach vacation with the family, but I just don’t have the time.”

And of course, “Honey, you don’t understand, I need to buy more gadgets!”

While these statements may sound reasonable, we truly need to recognize when they’re really just symptoms of our hidden fears.

While this may sound disturbing, it’s actually great news because the voice of fear can become one of your greatest allies — once you learn how to listen to it in a more effective way.

Of course, the contention of the matter always boils down to this: how to make fear an ally? 

I believe the answer would be, that is to always open your heart to meet fear fully. Just as good health requires a lifestyle of attention to diet and exercise, being at ease with fear requires an ongoing willingness to meet it directly. If you are receptive to whatever arises, as it is, you will find it does not matter if fear is present or not. Life is so rich. Every experience that arises is a friend, a gift, an invitation to break down your inner boundaries. Allow everything in always, and you will discover the peace beyond peace.

Photo source: quotefancy.com

 

Life is as you SEE it.

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The way you see your life shapes your life.

How you define life determines your destiny. Your perspective will influence how you invest your time, spend your money, use your talents, and value your relationships.

Being a youth leader back in my college years and occasionally, these not so previous years of sharing God’s word to other people, I always do get the chance to ask this question: “How do you see your life?” Asking that, you will discover that there are as many different answers to that question as there are people. I’ve been told life is a circus, a minefield, a roller coaster, a puzzle, a symphony, a journey, and a dance. People have said, “Life is a carousel: Sometimes you’re up, sometimes you’re down, and sometimes you just go round and round” or “life is a ten-speed bicycle with gears we never use” or, as I’ve also written in one of my posts here, “life is a game of cards: You have to play the hand you’re dealt.”

If I asked how you pictured life, what image would come to your mind? That image, if you will, is your life metaphor. It’s the view of life that you hold, consciously or unconsciously, in your mind. It’s your description of how life works and what you expect from it. People often express their life metaphor through clothes, jewelry, cars, hairstyles, bumper stickers, even tattoos.

Our unspoken life metaphor influences our life more than we realize. It determines our expectations, our values, our relationships, our goals, and our priorities. For instance, if you think that life is a party, your primary value in life will be having fun. If you see life as a race, you will value speed and will probably be in a hurry much of the time. If you view life as a marathon, you will value endurance. If you see life as a battle or a game, winning will be very important to you.

What is your view of life? If you got the time to reply, I’d be happy to read it in the comments below 🙂

As for me, life, basically and fundamentally, is as I see it, and I’ve dedicated large portions of this blog expressing my views about life (and living). Doors are open if you’d like a tour 😉

Photo credit: quotes4sharing.com