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Archive for September, 2010

Embracing the Broken to Make A Whole (and an Eat Pray Love Movie Review)

Eat Pray Love. Photo courtesy of Columbia Pictures

In a recent post, I wrote about how Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert has been one of the most pivotal and life changing stories I had read in the last few years. While some may say the story is a little self-indulgent, I feel that the story speaks volumes to me, in many different levels and ways. When I read (or should I say re-read) it when I am on a low point, it picks me up. On better days, it makes me reflect on what I have, and on really good days, it allows me to appreciate myself and the world around me. Whatever the message is, however, it always, always seems to come at the perfect time.

And as always, last night was no exception. I was finally able to catch the film adaptation of the story, which starred Julia Roberts and I walked away from the theater sighing a happy sigh.

I truly enjoyed the film, although admittedly, like most book-to-movie films, there were bits and pieces in the book that I would have wished to see but didn’t. In the same way, there were elements that were portrayed differently from the way I imagined it when reading. Nonetheless, I loved it. Not only do I love the story to begin with, I also love any film Julia Roberts, so that was surely an added bonus. I loved how real her performance was, and how I could really feel and become engaged with the character. It’s funny, though…while watching it I would catch myself seeing myself in many, many situations and discussions she was having with herself and others. There were scenes too that were too “real”  to me…real because it reminded me very much of conversations over margaritas and little synchronous moments I personally have been experiencing in the last few months with very special people around me. Like I said, Eat Pray Love always seems to give me messages at just the right time :-)

One of my favorite lines in the movie (okay, for my dear readers who complain about spoilers, I apologize if you consider this as one, but I don’t think it is :-) ) goes: ” Ruin is a gift; ruin is the road to transformation”.  That struck a chord deep in me because just recently, I found myself looking back at a difficult time in my life. A period in which I allowed myself to explore the artist in me, and during that time I found comfort and solace in working on that art. One of the most cathartic and meaningful things I did then was to take some chipped and imperfect vases and dishes that, because of their flaws, were no longer functional, but for some reason, I couldn’t throw away. So one day, I took them and smashed them to tiny pieces. From there, I picked up the bits and pieces that I liked and put them together in a mosaic to make new and more beautiful things that worked for me and by embracing that brokenness, I was able to make a better whole. Yes, by welcoming the ruins, I paved the way for transformation.

Today I embrace all that is broken and damaged and imperfect in me and sigh in contentment knowing that these are what make me better, for me and all those who are around me.

*happy happy sigh of contentment*

Eat Pray Love opens in Philippine cinemas on October 6, 2010 and is released by Columbia Pictures. This is surely one of those movies I wouldn’t mind watching over and over. Much as the book has found a way into my heart, so has this movie :-)

Beyond Eat Pray Love: Live

Every once in a while,  a great book comes to speak to me in ways I cannot explain. In the last three years, I have been blessed with two life changing tales: Dark Night of the Soul by Thomas Moore and Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. This is a very rare gift for me, I must say, because even though I am a teacher (thus one would assume I’m a big reader), I have trouble reading, so many times, no matter how good a book is, I miss the messages it is sending me. However, the two books I mentioned have found its way beyond my dyslexic brain and burrowed deeply not just in my heart but they have planted the seed of hope and growth in my soul.

I don’t know if I can call it coincidence (or should I say it is because of synchronicity that they came to me at the same time?) but those books came to me at the most difficult period of my life. The first during my darkest days and the second, as I made my way out of that deep pit. During those days I found myself alternating from curling into a ball in my bed and physically abusing my office furniture as I tried to contain tantrums of discontent that were brewing inside of me. In many ways, the wisdom those books gave me helped me make it through that period.

Today, I still find comfort in leafing through them every once in a while and going through passages that I had earmarked or highlighted over time. One quote that speaks loudly to me today, and I share with you here now is:

“Life, if you keep chasing it so hard, will drive you to death. Time – when pursued like a bandit – will behave like one; always remaining one county or one room ahead of you,…At some point you have to stop because it won’t. You have to admit that you can’t catch it. That you are not supposed to. At some point… you… gotta let go and sit still and allow contentment to come to you.”

And believe it or not, the powers of synchronicity and how wonderfully put together the Universe reminded me once more that despite the seeming uncertainty of everything, everything is in its place. About an hour before the quote spoke to me, I had sent my Kindred Spirit a message that read:

my heart is too full of joy and is oveflowing with blessings for words to express. i am so content and happy with my life and how wonderful it has become since our souls connected despite of everything that happens.

and for once, there is nothing left to say but i wuv you.

My heart and soul are content. Today Eat Pray Love reminded me of the most important message of all: to live.

Today’s Thought Bubble: My Kind of Equation

Anyone who knows me knows how much I hate math…but when the equation goes a little like this, I guess I wouldn’t mind it much :-)

swoon, swoon, swoon…. :-) And yes Sarah and Dani, thank you for saying I’m prettier than you know who…kahit na I forced you to do it lang mwahahaha!!!

Oh yes, the universe loves me today!!!

31/365

Be Still, Listen and Just Breathe.

“Happiness is like a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.”

I started out my day with a note to myself:  be still, listen and just breathe.

I wrote that very, very early this morning as a reminder because lately, I had been having trouble finding my center, especially on weekends. While the rest of the week would go perfectly for me, whenever Friday night would come, I would see myself slipping down a slippery slope and I couldn’t figure out why. It was like everything was spinning out of control.

So today I told myself to just be still, listen and to just breathe.

Of course I had difficulty doing just that until I finally picked myself out of bed and got in my car and drove over to “see” the most important person in my life. My Lolo.

When he was dying, he told me one afternoon that when he goes, I shouldn’t bother to visit his grave much. After all, he said, its not like I’m going to be there right? What matters, he told me, is that he knew how much I loved him while he was alive and that he appreciated how I would make it a point to stay home with him on weekends just doing nothing together. That was enough, he said. Besides, he reminded me, I’ll always be in your heart.

He went on to tell that all that really mattered was that I would always be happy and that’s what he always wished for for me. He always knew how insecure I’d feel around the family because I never really was the pretty one, or the smart one, or the one with the fun personality. I was always the brooding, sullen, matampuhin drama queen who would cry at the slightest hint of anything. When it would be just the two of us, he’d hold me close and say he didn’t really care about those things. It wasn’t important the ‘most’ at something, he’d say. What counted was that if at the end of the day was if I was happy with what I had done. If I the answer was yes, he said that’s what was important.

Lolo always knew how different I was from my cousins and other children my age. He always used to say that I was an old soul and that I was destined for more. He knew I never really fit in a lot of the times and he would try to tell me that it was okay to be different, even though often times it would hurt. He just said to let it be. He was one of those few souls who really knew me inside out, sometimes even more than my own mother did, and that was okay. I guess mom would agree when I say she and I really never saw things the same way and while we both knew how deeply we loved each other, we came to accept the fact that we were simply two very different characters, and in many ways, it was lolo who always reconciled that for us.

In the past few weeks I noticed that weekends were especially rough for me. It wasn’t till today that it dawned on me why. Weekends are rough because it is when I feel most alone and lost. Without work to distract me, I find myself face to face with just me and nothing else and this is when all my doubts and insecurities come to haunt me, no matter how happy I may be with the wonderful things that are happening in my life. Since he’s been gone it’s become harder and harder to remember that. I guess part of it comes from the fact that I have gotten older too, and the magic of just being me has gotten overshadowed by responsibilities and obligations. Without him reminding me that it’s okay to be different or to be dark and twisty, or that being difficult and temperamental and having my own opinion was acceptable, I let go of who I am and allow people and things around me to define me.

Today I found myself, for the first time in many, many years, sitting by his grave and just talking to him. Something in me told me that it was where I had to be at that moment so I can be still, I can listen and I can just breathe.

Even before I got there I couldn’t hold back my tears and I could barely breathe. I sat there for a long time and suddenly I knew I was okay. For the first time in a long time, I got in touch with that little girl inside of me who knew what true happiness was, simply because she felt she was loved and accepted for who she was: in spite of, despite of and because of everything she simply was.

I felt him telling me to just breathe and believe that no matter what I did, I am loved. I felt him remind me too that while he may not be here to tell me that himself, God has given me so many wonderful people in my life to remind me of that. I knew, too, that my friend was right when she told me that my lolo recently sent me a message through one of my little boys in class who, out of the blue, drew a picture of a baby in a bed and said he comes up to me and gives me a drawing. he says, “Teacher, this is Basti and this is the baby. Her name is Andrea. I make her a bed so she can sleep”. When that happened I was floored because I never told my kids my name was Andrea and that lately I’ve been having trouble sleeping. Yes, I know now that my lolo was telling me to drop my guards and rest, because I need no masks, I need not pretend, because at the end of the day, it didn’t matter what I did or accomplished, but what is important is that I’m happy with being me. And for now, that’s what I intend to work on.

So once again I remind myself: be still, listen and just breathe. In silence, the answers always, always come so clearly and perfectly.

Today’s Thought Bubble: Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah

I have this friend who has a knack for posting the most perfect quotes just at the right time. Well, at least for me. Tonight, she posted yet another one that read:

Sometimes it just feels best to cry so our heart can express itself in a way that words cannot.-Lemony Snicket

So perfect after my day yesterday :-) And yes, today was indeed a wonderful day. It’s not that things are all okay now, it’s more like I can see the sunshine come through again. All the tiredness and confusion that marked the past few days has dissipated and is now more sensible to me.

The downside to all this self-realizations and “me” time, however, is that I have lots of pending work to do that I had to put aside for the weekend. Oh well :-) Will catch up during the week, I promise!!!

23/365

Today’s Thought Bubble: A Bad Day Comes to Visit

Today started out all wrong in all ways possible. For one, I slept on my side wrong, which kinda made my arm and neck hurt a wee bit. I woke up all tired, despite the fact I slept for much longer than I usually do. Secondly, I had a headache and a sore throat, most likely from being overly tired the day before. And lastly, I wasn’t doing too good emotionally either. I was feeling a sense of trepidation and dread, and I could feel my Dark Night hovering, waiting to pounce. And very sneakily she did come in….complete with the doubts, insecurities and irrational thoughts that would not be quelled no matter how much I tried. The thoughts were swirling but I couldn’t make sense of them.

So I did what I knew I had to do: I cried. I cried until my eyes hurt and my head felt swollen beyond description. At first it hurt so bad, it felt as if a vise was squeezing my heart until I was left breathless. But over time, the hurt dissipated and I felt like I could breathe again.

I realized that once again, I was overthinking things, taking on more than I should and allowing myself to get sucked in to things I shouldn’t get sucked into. I guess even though I am consciously trying to kick the habit of doing that, I still fall every once in a while.

I’ve talked a lot about this Dark Night in the past few weeks, and I guess, for those who are asking, I can fill you in better. In the not so distant past, I came face to face with my inner demons and had to make amends with them. During this period of depression, I was at a loss for who and what I was. As I became whole again, I found bits and pieces of wisdom that allowed me to become a better me. While I may have dealt with that episode in my life, I don’t think I will ever be free from ever feeling sad or lost from time to time. The difference now, however, is that I know how better to respond to it. My friend asked me once why I called it a Dark Night of the Soul. And I told her that that’s exactly what it felt like. Like you are trapped in a dark night where you are helpless and lost and in indescribable pain. In a post I wrote about it before,  I said that it wasn’t until I came up close and personal to depression did it make sense to me. I honestly used to dismiss it as a sign of weakness and just plain illogical.

However, as I said in that old post,

If you ask me now to describe depression, I can say it is truly like, borrowing Thomas Moore’s description of sadness, depression and troubles that come into our lives, a dark night of the soul. It felt to me like one day I woke up and the sun was gone. In it’s place was a dark shadow, hanging heavily and ominously over every waking hour. Every day in that period of my life was a long, dark, starless night”.

If I were to give you a picture of what my depression was like, I would tell you to imagine a dark, heavy cloud in the sky, just like those sudden rain clouds that come out of nowhere on a bright day sky. It suddenly covers the brightness around and casts a greyness on everything. In the core of the cloud is a dense darkness where not even a sliver of light can pass through. The rest of the cloud is also dark, but of varying shades of gray.

During that dark night of my soul, I could not think or see straight. I stopped being who I was. In the midst of it, it was like standing in the eye of a storm. There was an eerie calmness while everything around spun like mad. The thing is, that calmness was only around when I was curled up in bed, pulled away from the world around me. Then, I finally understood what people with depression were saying. I started to realize it really was more than just mindset, or attitude.

Today I knew it was just a bad day and that I had it in me to understand what this feeling of a hovering darkness needed. As such, I tried my best to be still and remember that true happiness in more than just bright sunshine. After all, there is beauty in darkness, too. I end the day on a happier note knowing that I was where I needed to be today.

Read the full post of Dark Nights of the Soul here.

22/365

Today’s Thought Bubble: I Have a Little Secret

’nuff said. secret nga e! But….if you’re my Plurk friend, I’m sure you know what I’m talking about hehehe.

21/365

Dear You Who Had My Heart

I thought of you and smiled today... not because I still miss you, but because I realized I can be happy without you :)

Dear You Who Had My Heart (and shattered it to a million itty-bitty pieces),

It’s been a few weeks since I finally let go of the “it’s complicated” in my relationship status after only God knows how long and I must say, letting go of that last thing I was holding on to of you has made a lot of difference.

In letting go of that, I think I finally allowed my spirit to soar again, and to become hopeful once more. I began to believe that yes, you weren’t the one for me after all, no matter how much I wanted that to be true. But more through cutting that string I began to believe that despite the fact that losing you made me feel unlovable and unwanted, I can actually be loved by others if I let them, but I was too blind to see that because of you.

Oh don’t get me wrong: I’m not pinning the blame all on you. After all, this was a game we both played, right?

I won’t pretend that every once in a while,  you don’t still creep into my dreams, suddenly jolting me from sleep and leaving me all antsy and full of angst.

However, these past few days, when you came to visit, I don’t think you have the same power anymore. I do still feel that little tug in my heart when I think of you, and remember, but the sharp pains it would bring that would take my breath away and leave my heart thumpity-thump-thumping away is no longer there. It was as if that knee jerk reaction that used to compel me to respond to the vision of you suddenly dissipated and I felt that I had finally regained control over how I react to you. In a way, you stopped being like one of those apps in Facebook that would scream out click here, click here, which, despite your better judgment, you always click in the end and before long you are hooked on the game you clicked.

By giving up the complicated, I let go of impulsively clicking on the buttons of my heart which repeatedly let you in no matter how many times I had to pick up the pieces and put it back together. In the same way, I can now go back to the Starbucks we used to go to and sit there knowing it’s okay that I was there without you. I can listen to songs you used to sing on the phone with no more tears springing to my eyes. And you know, I can actually say your name with no more hurt.

As the caption in the photo says, I know now I can be happy without you. I still thank you, though, for what we had because if not for that, maybe I wouldn’t be where I am today. You were perhaps one of the most pivotal moments of my life. I saw the happiest and brightest of days and the darkest of nights with you and because of you. At the end of the day, I know I will see that it was an important cornerstone of my life. A dot I had to pass through, as my dear friend would say. And like she always reminds me, somewhere down the line I will see how wonderfully connected the dots are in my life.

♥ ,

Andrea (yes, you read that right. Much as I denounced my name because you insisted on calling me that because it’s “yours” to use, I am taking it back and letting it be a part of me again. Ktnxbai :-) )

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