Posts Tagged ‘musings’

Connecting the Dots

Today a friend asked me how my vacation was and all I could answer was that it was a roller coaster ride of ups and downs. Part of me felt guilty and selfish for not having been able to say “oh it was great”, after all, not every one can afford to put their entire lives on pause and just go on hibernate mode, right? But, well, I guess I couldn’t just say it was all great because it wasn’t. But then today, I realized, as my friend pointed out, vacations aren’t always 100% happy all the time anyway. More so, I realized that the reason why I couldn’t say it was perfect was because by taking pause, removing myself from the daily grind and just being by myself to some degree, it was a period of self-discovery, reinvention and, I guess, moving forward, which, I suppose, is never really easy.

Let me back track a bit…for those who have been reading my blogs, I’m sure you’re familiar with the fact that I had just let go of my preschool teaching job, one that I had done and loved oh so dearly for the past twelve years. In many ways, giving that up (although I was indeed looking forward to it because I was tired already) kind of made me lose a big chunk of who I have become. And so since I finished everything I needed to have done in the preschool on the 30th of April, and it was term break in the university I teach in, I decided to declare the first 15 days of May as my Eat, Pray, Love vacation. I may not be as lucky as Elizabeth Gilbert to have the chance to do it for a year, but heck, 15 straight days of no work should be good enough for the time being, right? And so on the eve of the first, I had posted on my Facebook page that for the next fifteen days, I was only to exist for yoga, for friends who matter and the occasional soup day (errr..which is code for, well, lets just say fun lunches or dinners harhar).

Anyway, I was lucky enough to get my break of started on track with an Eat, Pray, Love overnight adventure in Subic Bay with a fellow yogini friend of mine. We took an overnight trip and met up with another yogini friend who teaches a class at the Subic Yacht club where we joined in on the class and got to meet a whole lot of new people. It was so timely, I must say, that the night we got to join in was a night in which they were bidding farewell to one of their family members (I say family because their group is very much like family…it’s more than a club, more than just friends, but more like family :)). They had a little ceremony that evening that brought tears to my eyes because as my personal friends would know, saying goodbye and having people move away is something very, very difficult for me. But as I watched them and allowed myself to be part of that ceremony, I realized that distance between friends is but physical space, but the heart, though ends up longing oh so dearly for the other, remains connected.

Although the trip was quite short, being under the golden sunshine, walking by the bay and feeling sand on my toes allowed me to touch base with my soul.

When I got back to Manila, I continued on my journey by really shutting myself out from most of the outside world. Very few people, save for my yoga teachers and classmates, got to see me or hear from me much, even through text messages (although FB still remained a constant haha…but a far less frequent one!). I barely spoke to anyone and except for when I was in yoga and the three or four lunches/dinners I had out with friends, I barely moved at all. I had planned to clean my room, paint, draw, and so on and so forth but noooo…nothing happened. My blogs have been mostly silent too, except for those posts of brilliant insights that happened from the mat 🙂

Being in the quiet for so long, however, started to take a bit of a toll on me because, well, because that’s what silence does. It’s confrontative. You’re left with nothing else but yourself in a place that suddenly becomes so foreign and unfamiliar. As my favorite writer, Thomas Moore put it in his book Dark Nights of the Soul, Imagine you awoke one day to find yourself in a strange land. You remember who you were and what you have done, where you used to live, even your dreams and longings, but now it seems so far away. So out of reach it all seems in this strange land. Here it is as if nothing that once was familiar matters any longer, all that matters is that you find yourself where you are right now. You cannot return to what once was, neither do you know where to go from here. Now there are no distractions. You have to look closely at what has been revealed.

In that silent bubble I lived in for 15 day (granted there were moments of distractions…going to yoga class and the occasional meeting up with the few friends who really matter to me), I realized how different I was from the me I had gotten to know in the past year, year and a half. Without the distractions of work, and even television for that matter (because my TV’s been broken haha!) and even the absence of family and friends, I was left  to just let things unfold. Maybe it’s also the weight loss, plus the career change, and even the discovery of yoga, but all these changes were like  diamonds in the rough, waiting to be found and treasured. But for the longest time I wasn’t seeing what was there because I was too busy and too ignorant of the signs. As I was telling another friend a few days ago, I guess I was making it a point to be too busy because I was afraid to admit to many things: feeling lost and confused about who I was, angry and hurt about what might have been, and yes, even displeased and dissatisfied because of things I want but don’t have. Before I could admit that, however, I had to wrestle with the defeaning silence and the frustration of loneliness and solitude.  Worst of all, I had to go head on with my harshest critic:  the voices of insecurity and doubt in my head.

So there, it was indeed a roller coaster of ups and downs, right? There were moments of brilliant clarity and fulfillment of heart, but there were moments of darkness and feeling lost at sea, with no lifelines to hang on to. But now that I look back, all of those moments, from the loss of the familiar, feeling hurt because of it, opening myself up to new things and people, challenging myself in many, many ways…  were little dots waiting to be connected to form a bigger picture.

Today marks the end of my two week hiatus from life. Tomorrow I must head back to reality and get back on track in all sense of the word. I think it is but fitting that I end it by having cut and colored my hair, gone for a body scrub, deleted messages on my phone and files in my computer, thrown away a lot of stuff I’ve been holding on to for so long. Kinda like a rebirth, yes?

I don’t know if it is just coincidence, but I’d like to believe it is but one of those things I like calling random synchronicity, but just a few days before my break I had said that I have come to learn that many of the most difficult, most painful, most tiring and most excruciatingly frustrating things that come my way always, always pave the way for realizations that are significant, life-changing, and rewarding. Yes, it may not be something extremely drastic or devastating, but all of those moments have led up to something new, as long as I allowed myself to surrender and make some space for it. It’s never fun or easy, mind you, nor pleasurable for that matter, but in the end, I can look back and say, so that’s why it had to happen.

And  so through this roller coaster of a ride I had just found myself in, I take with me, a renewed appreciation for what I have, a more grateful heart, a somewhat darkened self (literally and figuratively haha…As Moore put it, dark luminosity…a black sun at your core…that is less innocent and more interesting than naive sunshine), and perhaps, even a more hopeful spirit for what lies ahead.

As I end today, I found this lying in one of my piles of papers…it was a project I had done for one of my classes before, wherein I gave the students a coloring sheet and asked them to remember that the only road that mattered, no matter where they went, was the one paved with prayer and ended in believing that no matter what, you will find yourself exactly where you’re supposed to be.

‎”Beautiful thoughts build a beautiful soul…There’s always something beautiful to be experienced wherever you are.” — Wayne Dyer



Playing Out the Wave

To say the past two weeks or so have been like treading on rough waters is an understatement. Perhaps caught in the middle of a summer storm in the middle of an angry ocean would be a better way to describe how it has been for me. Yes, that rough. So much so that almost every night, tears stained my pillows as I stuggled to fall into a restful sleep and even my yin yoga class last Wednesday (which is one of the things that gives me the most pleasure lately) was a great struggle for me. It’s been quite difficult to deal with so many things that have been going on, so many things I feel I messed up with and perhaps, yeah, there was some mistaking there, but it just felt so overwhelmingly difficult that it was like being caught in a riptide with barely enough lifelines to hold on to, or strength and desire for that matter, to do so. In a way I guess I should say I was glad I was on holiday break because save for Monday, the only people I had seen were my yoga teachers and so I didn’t really have to explain my goldfish eyes or have to pretend I was happy and okay and that my heart wasn’t so painfully wounded by words said and unsaid. I could just be sungit and quiet and that would be fine.

Although the storm seems to have tapered down a bit, and the faint glow of the sun was slowly returning, I found myself so very tired from treading the waves that were so big and strong. And so with a very tired heart last night, I did the only thing left to do. I prayed. I heeded to a message I was sent not too long ago, that I should pray more. I should pray for strength, I was told.  And for hope. And for love.

And so as I wrote down my prayer (I like notes, so there :)) I prayed oh so very hard for those. I said, Lord, I am trying to find reason in all of this, but I know the more I search the more I won’t find it but that all I need to do is believe there is reason for it. So please, take it from me and give me an answer to what I ask for. I’m tired, I had said, of having to figure out what to do, how to fix things, how to manage, and of doing everything myself. So I asked for the strength physically and mentally to be able to just keep trying, even if I always feel like I’m falling short, to keep going, despite all the bitter disappointments, and yes, to hold on even if I don’t want to anymore. I asked for the strength to keep on giving and caring, without expecting or asking anything in return and to let go of bitterness when disappointments set in. I asked for hope to be able to quiet my spirit and give my heart some rest. But most of all I asked for love in all sense of the word, from myself, from family, from friends. I asked for a love that I could understand and believe in, and one that wouldn’t go away or get mad or push me away when I am hard to understand (which very often admittedly I am).

Um…demanding much? Haha. Maybe, I guess, but as I dried up my tears I felt a stirring in me that said go to the Chapel on the Hill tomorrow and you’ll find the answer there.

As I did last October when I felt that need to go on a road trip to converse with my soul, I fought and rationalized at first. It’s a waste of time, you have lots of other things to do, it’s a waste of gas and money yadiyadiya. I even went to yoga class this morning and told my teacher I had planned to go to Caleruega but opted not to because I’d rather go to her class instead.

But no…the Universe, nay —God, had better plans for me.

My teacher often has a theme in her yoga classes and today was all about waves and how we everything is like the wave of an ocean, it comes and it goes, like the tides. So you just have to play out the wave, she says, go with it and allow it to take you where it needs to take you. Talk about being toinked while doing your asana, right?

So I was in the snail pose today, one that I struggled with for a long time prior to today, and for the first time, I find comfort in it, feeling the pleasurable surge of energy and chi flowing in my body. And it hit me: ride the current and breathe, Ria. Play out the wave, don’t flail too much and soon you will make it back to still waters. Thus I decided to play out that wave and listen to the voice that told me to go drive to that chapel.

And so after class, I came home to change, threw in my camera, my iPad and a blank craft box with some pencils and coloring materials into my and drove away.

When I got to the chapel, I entered through (as would be expected of me) one of the side doors and as soon as I did, the answer I had asked for last night was right there:

Caleruega Chapel on the Hill

remain in my love that your joy may be complete...

I asked for love, and I got it.

Or should I say, I was reminded that I had it all along.

When Old Wounds Bleed

"It has been said, "time heals all wounds." I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone." — Rose Kennedy

I have come to the conclusion (or perhaps I should say to the agreement with what Rose Kennedy said about it)  that many times, old wounds never do heal. Yes, they do get better. Yes, the pain subsides. Yes, you do get over it. But despite these all, the scars of those wound remain and no matter how much time has passed, the damage is always going to be there. The thing is, even as you try to heal it or to fix what had been broken, it never completely is the same anymore.

Let me put it this way: There’s this street corner I pass on my way to work that, despite how many years have passed, still cause me so much fear and anxiety. Read the rest of this entry »

Wishing on A Night Sky

Night, the beloved. Night, when words fade and things come alive. When the destructive analysis of day is done, and all that is truly important becomes whole and sound again. When man reassembles his fragmentary self and grows with the calm of a tree. ~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

A few months back, when my soul was weary and troubled, I went back to something I knew would quiet the voices in my head and give my heart the rest it sorely needed: my art.

Back then I clung on tightly to the bright sunshine that always brought me comfort, hence the beginnings of my Project Sunshine. Then, I felt the urgent need to create my own sunshine and hold tightly to lifelines thrown my way, sometimes a wee bit too much.

In the past few months, however, I have grown stronger and better, made so by necessary pains and conversations with my soul where I got to know myself better and explore other sides of me that I never once allowed to exist. Coupled with my yoga practice, where I have allowed myself to create spaces in my mind, body and soul, I have begun to learn what balance really means, how to have faith and to trust, and how love really works. I have likewise welcomed the darkness back to my life, knowing full well that in that in the dark, cold silence of night time I can thrive, too, albeit differently than I do under the warm golden sunshine, but that both are essential for the fullness of my soul.

Yes, I have learned to stop chasing rainbows and to let things go and let them be as I am learning to sit and wait in patience, just believing in myself, in people around me and in fate, love and in the certainty that though they may not be in sight, they do indeed exist.

And now I have returned to the heart of my art, no longer in troubled waters, but in still ones, now honoring the polar opposites that exist in my life, the yin and the yang so I’ve been told…and so side by side my Project Sunshine now comes the beginnings of my Night Sky 🙂 And so tonight I whisper a little wish up into the night sky, and think of it with light an love, then dropping it knowing that in time, when it is right, I will be able to connect the dots and see how all the twists and turns, stops and starts and everything else make complete and perfect sense.

Creating Spaces in Mind, Body and Soul

“Just as light brightens darkness, discovering inner fulfillment can eliminate any disorder or discomfort. This is truly the key to creating balance and harmony in everything you do.” - Deepak Chopra

I have fallen in love. Yes, I have fallen truly, madly, so deeply in ♥ with Yin Yoga.

I never would have imagined feeling this way, after all, I have loved other exercises and whatnot in the past, such as hula hooping, but this one feels so different. I think it’s more than the movement and process I have fallen for, but the meanings and metaphors that it conjures up for me. Although yes, the breathing, the emptying of thoughts and just being with the moment are equally wonderful, it is perhaps the timing of all this falling into place that means so much to me.

Let me backtrack a little bit before I continue. I have wanted to try out yoga for the longest time, perhaps since way back in 2007 during that dark night of my soul. However, when things started to clear and I felt no more need to be in the quiet to converse with my soul, and because I thought I had found the answers and defined happiness for me, I let it go. After all, I always said, I barely have enough time to juggle my many jobs, right? Why add on something else that will consume my time “unnecessarily”. Also, while people may still laugh at me when I say this, I still struggle with having to extend myself socially, so calling and inquiring about classes, going to these studios or shalas, was gonna be a stretch right? So….there. I didn’t. Read the rest of this entry »

In Silence, There’s So Much More Said

“To make the right choices in life, you have to get in touch with your soul. To do this, you need to experience solitude, which most people are afraid of, because in the silence you hear the truth and know the solutions.” - Deepak Chopra

There’s a saying that goes, shallow brooks are noisy. I never really appreciated that saying until lately. For the most part, I have never been one to be comfortable in silence. What’s funny, however, is that while I may appear highly extroverted and exuberant all the time, deep down inside I am a very quiet and shy person who actually likes to be in the silence and quiet.

However, in as much as I love the quiet, I fear it just as much, maybe because in the silence there’s so much more said and that there are no distractions to keep you away from introspection. When I’m with others, I feel this urge to fill the space with noise because I fear what they might be thinking about me if there was no interaction between us.

Yes, that is one of the many polar opposites about me.

Lately, however, I have been discovering the joy and beauty of silence and solitude. I used to think that it was very lonely and painful being in silence, but now I find that it is actually a pleasurable thing. Before, in times that needed silence, I always made it a point to be extra busy or to go out of my way to avoid it, but now, I may resist a bit in the beginning, but the struggle is not so great anymore. I was just telling my friends from work the other day over lunch that lately, I really just want to be in the quiet bubble of my room…no TV, no music, just me in my bed and the silence.

Of course at times it can get very uncomfortable, especially when things are not going too well, but for the most part…bliss 🙂

When I was first told by my wise sage to welcome sadness (or periods of difficulty for that matter) and sit in silence with it, I couldn’t get it. I struggled quite a bit with her and with it, but now that I have grown leaps and bounds, when I find myself in moments of pain and sadness, I have learned to sit with it and listen to what it is telling me. And because of that, I have learned so much.

In the same manner, when I am with friends, I can now just sit and be quiet. My friend, who I go out with quite a lot lately, called this comfortable silence. I chalked up our comfortable silence to the fact that we had been friends for almost 14 years now, but I realized just lately, it is not just with her I have started appreciating comfortable silence with. I guess  it’s part of growing up and growing together in relationships that allow this, right? For whatever it’s worth, not talking about too many things, but just focusing on what is important, has been such a great blessing to me.

And so tonight I have finally appreciated what the cliché shallow brooks are noisy means….its when you take in too much from the outside so as to distract you from what is important, it’s flailing around too much acting like you know things, and it’s filling up space with the non-essentials, and when you do, you miss out on so much.  And more so, the “noisier” I am, be it externally or internally, the more I stay on shallow waters, trying to ignore the deeper meaning and value of the moments I am living. Like they say, still waters run deep right? So being still, listening, and just breathing, like I’ve been writing about since October, lets me go to the innermost core of myself and just be where I am suppose to be and in that silent solitude, the answers to the questions that weigh me down and the burdens that threaten to swallow me whole all of a sudden become so miniscule and insignificant, and in return, I become a better me 🙂

Turning a New Leaf

The noblest thing a human being can experience is acceptance of the mystery. - Paulo Coelho

I had set off for 2011 with a lot of positive hopes and aspirations. After all, 2010 ended on a good note, despite it being somewhat of a rocky start. However, barely two weeks in to the new year, I got “toinked” (err…toinked meaning stumbling on something unexpected or slipping down a path I wouldn’t normally wish on anyone) really badly. So much so that it threw me off for a good week. Literally.

I hate how these things happen. Being the type of person I am, I thrive on certainty…on routine…regularity. Things that are random and unexpected throw me in a loop and make it so difficult for m. As I’ve said so many times in the past, change was (and often times still is) never really something I dealt with easily. I like structure…I like knowing…I like being sure.

However every time I think I’ve gotten things down pat, some force comes and toinks me. Read the rest of this entry »

The Craft Box Project

A couple of Mondays ago, despite the fact that I was nursing the worst migraine EVER, I found myself suddenly inspired by a new project that was perfect for  me. The inspiration of this came a bit from the traditional Christmas party we have in the clinic where we have all sorts of crazy themes and tasks that aims to challenge us to go beyond just shopping for our Christmas tokens and the like. So this year, we were told that instead of having some kind of kooky theme and a price cap for the Kris Kringle, this year it should be anything handmade. Oooohhh 🙂 so perfy for me, right? 🙂

Anyway, I immediately knew what I wanted to do, but was not sure about the execution yet. I knew I wanted to design a box and do that. Given my usual enthusiasm for projects like this, it soon snowballed into something bigger and…well…suffice it to say that The Craft Box Project was born.

The Craft Box Project

It took me some time to find the right boxes but eventually I found some and even if these weren’t really the “perfect” ones I had wanted but I just went with it. Not only did I go with it, but I spent a little fortune (well, that’s an exaggeration. A nice sum would be a better way of describing it!) on all sorts of shapes and sizes. I also stocked up on paints, glitter, glue, colored sand and paper, as well as double sided tape and all sorts of other craft stuff.  Today I think I took Project Sunshine to a whole new medium 🙂

I have always loved boxes for some reason, especially pretty little boxes tied up in string. Something about it speaks volumes to me. What made my love for boxes even more was the fact that during one of the most difficult and painful time in my life, it became a sanctuary for my soul.

During that time, when I had no words to speak and and only pain to know, I discovered the gift of my art. I began, what I called back then, to doodle to help quiet the thoughts in my head and to comfort my weary heart and soul. Eventually I stopped calling them doodles and realized they were messages, very special ones, from my soul.  And so I continued to draw until I had a whole bunch of them and I realized they needed a home. And so I found this box, a craft box painted with brilliant red and black swirls, and I knew it was the perfect home for my drawings. I lined the bottom with a bed of soft tissue, as a mere reminder that whenever I am tired, there is rest to be found if I be still and centered.

When I started to get my words back (which, for a writer like me was the most painful loss at that time), I began to write little notes as reminders of my dreams, wishes and even hurts which soon found it’s way to it’s own little box. Before putting these notes in boxes, I tied them up in pretty ribbons, much like a ritual or tradition that allowed me to give my thoughts, good or bad, validation and honor.

And so these boxes still have a special place in my room, tucked neatly away safely, away from prying eyes and harsh criticism. In them  still lie all my secret dreams and wishes, as well as my deepest, darkest and most unspeakable thoughts. Every once in a while, when I am feeling lost or tired, I take it out and just listen, and eventually, I find myself feeling better somehow.

In as much as my boxes have seen me through my brightest of days and my darkest of nights, one thing I am grateful to them for is the fact that not only do I find healing with them, but because of them, I, too, am able to help others find their own healing. It doesn’t really matter, I think, what the boxes hold, but it’s the way it becomes much like a totem that one can hold on to to remember who they are and what really matters. I never really thought of it as such, but someone once called my box a treasure chest….I suppose she was right. And so while the box I will be giving my Kris Kringle will come empty initially, I hope it soon is filled with little trinkets that speak of  love, hope, and whatever it is he or she deems their treasures.

Random thought: I know I’ve been using the word “project” a wee bit too much lately (errr…Project Sunshine, Project Prettify Me for example), but lets just go with it, okay? 🙂 Oh…I couldn’t stop with just one box (teeeheeeheee)….check them out in my Flickr stream 🙂