All posts filed under: Life

Prayers for Writers

  Prayer of a Writer  Lord of all things, whose wondrous gifts to man Include the shining symbols known as words  Grant that I may use their mighty power only for good. Help me to pass on Small fragments of Your wisdom, truth, and love. Teach me to touch the unseen, lonely heart With laughter, or the quick release of tears. Let me portray the courage that endures, Defiant in the face of pain or death; The kindness and the gentleness of those Who fight against the anger of the world; The beauty hidden in the smallest things; The mystery, the wonder of it all…. Open my ears, my eyes; unlock my heart. Speak through me Lord, if it be Your will.  Amen                                                                                                   –  Arthur Gordon A Writer’s Prayer …

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to all our readers in the United States! To all of you, I’m passing on this wonderful Thanksgiving Reader from Seth Godin. Although I live in the Philippines, I will join you all in reading this heartening compilation of Thanksgiving reflections. “This is a holiday about gratitude, about family and about possibility. It brings people together to not only celebrate the end of the harvest, but to look one in another in the eye and share something magical. “I’m hoping that this year, you and your family will help us start a new holiday tradition.   “The idea is simple: At your Thanksgiving celebration (and yes, it’s okay to use it outside the US), consider going around the table and having each person read a section aloud.” -Seth Godin i   Download the Thanksgiving Reader    

The Self

Home in this world is my Self. The Self that houses the spark of God’s divinity. My Self, my Soul, where the Holy of Holies resides. It is that which is easily obscured from sight; that which is drowned in the din of materialism. But if I can see this sacred vessel within me I will be able to appreciate its presence in others, in animals, and in all things. And then I shall be free.                                                                                        -2014     The sea turned red with the blood of 250 pilot whales slaughtered in the Faroe Islands in Denmark…but the carnage continues and more whales will be slaughtered.

What Lies in a Handshake

This was originally posted on QP and Eye: My father believed in the power of first impressions.  He accepted, that as he appraised someone for the first time, so they would similarly judge him. When I meet someone for the first time my father’s voice reminds me, “Always make eye contact, smile, dress smart and shake hands with firm enthusiasm.” A weak handshake was a symptom of insecurity and feebleness that would almost certainly be manifest in other aspects of a person’s personality, according to my father.  While I may not entirely agree with his view, I am put off by cold, weak or limp handshakes. read more  

again and again, our hearts shattered by the echo of the gunshot

Originally posted on pull up a chair:
the morning light spilled across the front pages, across faces bowed and streaked in tears. it didn’t take long till my own tears were added to the morning’s misery. a “lone wolf,” a man who sat for an hour near a pastor leading bible study, in a historic charleston, south carolina church, pulled out a pistol, and, one by one, took aim and fired, riddled the prayerful, felled nine lives, including the church pastor, a revered state senator. i’d come downstairs in this quiet old house to write of something else, but i picked up the news pages off the stoop, and there it was in all three papers: “deadly church attack;” “scene of carnage has long history of pain, pride and dignity;” “loner held in church killings.” sadly, only in chicago was the story “below the fold,” meaning it got second billing to something else, and in this case the “else” was a silver trophy for men in ice skates. because i’ve spent more time away from…

Pope Francis Addresses Every Living Person on this Planet

Pope Francis in his Encyclical, “Laudato Si.” “The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth. In many parts of the planet, the elderly lament that once beautiful landscapes are now covered with rubbish. Industrial waste and chemical products utilized in cities and agricultural areas can lead to bioaccumulation in the organisms of the local population, even when levels of toxins in those places are low. Frequently no measures are taken until after people’s health has been irreversibly affected. “Now, faced as we are with global environmental deterioration, I wish to address every person living on this planet.”  read more Photo credit: zabmo via Morguefile

Time is My Friend (a Haibun)

In the past I viewed time from the same perspective as the rest of the world. I saw time as expendable, limited, and something to grab because it is fleeting. Things changed when I decided to look at time from a different perspective. When I decided not to hurry, I discovered an entirely different aspect of time. I saw that it is limitless. I realized that time is expandable – it can be stretched to infinity. I learned that we can dance with it. And time is always there – here, now. It will never disappear – time lasts forever. holding my breath I run after that which has no legs Time is of the essence, we are told. Time is essence, I now know. Time heals. Time allows us to unfold our wings. Time waits for us. Time is my friend now. Time indulges me. It waits for me. I see more clearly when I am not in a hurry. There are no more marathons for me to run. photo credit: clockwork gold via photopin …

Keeping Quiet

by Pablo Neruda Now we will count to twelve and we will all keep still. For once on the face of the earth, let’s not speak in any language; let’s stop for one second, and not move our arms so much. It would be an exotic moment without rush, without engines; we would all be together in a sudden strangeness. Fisherman in the cold sea would not harm whales and the man gathering salt would look at his hurt hands. Those who prepare green wars, wars with gas, wars with fire, victories with no survivors, would put on clean clothes and walk about with their brothers in the shade, doing nothing. What I want should not be confused with total inactivity. Life is what it is about; I want no truck with death. If we were not so single-minded about keeping our lives moving, and for once could do nothing, perhaps a huge silence might interrupt this sadness of never understanding ourselves and of threatening ourselves with death. Perhaps the earth can teach us as …

We’ve Got Talent!

I’m dedicating this post to the amazing Filipino talents that were showcased in the first ever Asia’s Got Talent competition. The Grand Finals were held tonight in Singapore. El Gamma Penumbra – the Filipino shadow play group that earned several standing ovations from the judges and audience during the competition was proclaimed Grand Finals winner. Here is their award-winning performance. This six-minute video will amaze and inspire you – promise! Please watch it!       Filipina Gerphil Flores was among the three Grand Finalists. Her performances also gained her several standing ovations, plus a promise from Canadian musician, record producer, composer, songwriter, and arranger David Foster who publicly said:“I promise you, I promise you, the world is going to know about you. That’s a promise.” Here is her amazing grand finals performance.       Coming in second were the Mongolian ‘throat singers,  Khusugstun who were recognized for their spellbinding and ethereal performances. Another personal favorite!  

At a Turtle’s Pace

I’m making slow progress in rebuilding a writer’s life. I’m going at a turtle’s pace, so different from last year’s attempt, when I thought I was just being determined. But going at a fast and at times frenetic pace resulted in stress and soon I began to equate writing with stress. Now I am going slow, taking my time. I am enjoying the process of waiting and watching the words flow and typing and writing them down. Blogging used to be a big deal and required much time and thinking. Now I sit before the computer and ask myself, “What do I want to blog about today?” I asked myself that question a while ago and there was no answer. “Oh my, I don’t have anything to write about,” I whispered to myself. So I decided to meander and see where the energy would take me. I thought of revisiting  an online writing community I used to participate in and was so surprised by the changes within the group. It has grown beautifully. I made a decision …

Blooming time

Originally posted on redosue:
Twenty years ago a thoughtful cousin gave us a sapling cherry tree as a shower present to mark the arrival of our daughter. Three days ago it wasn’t in bloom and now it is, full of airy white blossoms, astonishing, like a baby discovering her fingers. Twenty years ago – my daughter. Three days ago – the cherry tree. I was watching. I witnessed the unfurling. And yet every year I am surprised when the cherry tree blooms, defies the past bitter winter, when it gives testimony to beauty, bounty, and fruition in a sudden spring exaltation. In a few weeks our 20 year old is taking her first solo holiday – a backpack, a fearless heart, and The Diary of Anne Frank as her luggage – and soon she will be lifting her chin, her eyes, and her mind to new places, new smells, new people. Naturally, I am worried. Naturally, she is not. I give voice to my worry in the form of traveller’s advice. My husband says, mocking…

Embracing the Painfully Impossible in the Human Heart

Originally posted on BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog:
A guest post from Kelly Morse, examining the work of Claudia Rankine, one of the anchor authors for our forthcoming Special Issue on Race, Racism, and Racialization: When the world all around is calling for clear distinctions, loyalties to Self and hatred of others . . . . —smooth narratives—what greater threat exists than that voice which rejects such easy orthodoxies with their readily understood rhetoric and urges, instead, the most difficult readings, those that embrace the painfully impossible in the human heart?”  – Maria Rosa Menocal, from Shards of Love: Exile and Origins of the Lyric Lyrical writing, like the lyre it originally accompanied, holds its heart in song and in the address of another. It is an observation shared with someone else, when the ‘I’ of the singer births a ‘you’ in the form of an audience, or a writer a reader. However, there’s a funny trick that happens with lyric: a blurring begins. The pronouns get mixed up. It occurs every time you sing your favorite…

Elizabeth Gilbert on Living Your Own Waking Dream

This was posted on Elizabeth Gilbert’s Facebook page some time ago: Dear Ones – I found this picture today that my husband took of me in 2011, doing research for THE SIGNATURE OF ALL THINGS. This photo captures exactly what I did for three straight years. I sat in a chair, reading books about botany, evolution, abolition, women’s history, missionaries, Dutch 18th century commerce, and more…in order to fill my brains (and index cards) with enough information to write that novel. There is no situation in which I could possibly be happier than this — submerged in the vocation that I love, vanishing for hours a day into my work. Un-showered, greasy hair, eyes tired, totally falling down the rabbit hole of research…this is me, living my dream. I was thinking today about all the other paths that I did not take in life, no matter how shiny and appealing they may have looked. I’ve had the possibility of living so many different kinds of life that could have been a dream for somebody else. …

A Prayer for Nepal

On this 4th Sunday of the Easter Season, we pause and remember our brothers and sisters in Nepal. Those who perished from the earthquake – May the Light  embrace them as they pass through the eternal threshold; And may their families find comfort in their time of sorrow. May those who were wounded be comforted in their pain and fear; May those rendered homeless find warmth and shelter from the cold nights; and may the good Samaritans who are helping in whatever way they can be blessed with strength and fortitude as they dig through the rubble. We pray that they find many survivors. Sympathies and condolences to the families of the mountaineers who perished because of massive avalanches on Mt. Everest. They who dared to climb and perished knew the dangers. Yet they persisted, hearkening to the call of the mountains. Where one  feels the pulse of nature merging with  one’s sinews. Where the wind sings songs one hears only in earth’s highest places; Where the majesty of nature abundantly nurtures the soul. May they find …

Walking in My Neighborhood, Several Stories Deep

Originally posted on Catching My Drift:
Maxie, the newly appointed mayor of the neighborhood… I clip the leash onto the collar of my wacky little dog, Greta, and pull open the back door. Greta stiffens, and I look down to see Maxie, the new mayor of the neighborhood, standing expectantly outside the storm door. Maxie is a black cat with a priest’s collar; his head is the size and shape of a squashed softball. He is sleek and talkative. He waits in the ivy, under the shrubs that line the drive, when I come home. As soon as I open the car door, he starts his approach, spouting a long line of complaints: Yowlyowlmewwwwrrrryowlyou! MEW. He always ends decisively, waiting for a response. I usually give him a little piece of frozen turkey from a baggie in the freezer; he accepts this, but seems none too thrilled. Max lives with the Next-to-Newest Neighbors across the street–a lovely mom and her just-college age daughter. Max was the daughter’s friend’s cat. When Daughter’s Friend was going off…

A Listening Walk

    This morning I took a Listening Walk. I love to take walks but this is the first time I paid attention to the sounds as I walked. I had always been a “visual” walker, and it was such a different experience to be an “auditory” walker. This Holy Week, I promised myself I would take a Listening Walk everyday until Easter. The idea for the Listening Walk came from a children’s book, The Listening Walk  by Paul Showers.  I Like to take walks, I take walks with my father and our dog. Our dog is called Major. He is an old dog and he does not walk very fast. We go down the street and we do not talk. My father puts his hands in his pockets and thinks. Major walks ahead and sniffs. I keep still and listen. I call this a Listening Walk. On a Listening Walk I do not talk. I listen to all the different sounds.  I hear many different sounds when I do not talk.     You can …

Fun Time!

I wanted to have some fun today and surfed the web… and discovered Storybird!  It’s a great visual community that revolves around storytelling. Storybird allows anyone to create wonderful stories accompanied by gorgeous artwork in a matter of seconds. You can write a poem by choosing an artwork and some words that you drag into the artwork   Press the Publish button and voila! You have a copy of your fully illustrated poem!   I also wrote a few pages of a picture book and this is the cover   Here are the first two pages…both written in a matter of minutes!   You can also create a multi-chapter longform book. There are lots of great artwork that you can use to illustrate you poem or story. Grab some fun now!

Dancing a Slow Dance

I feel like I’m dancing a slow dance. Priorities fall away one by one and I am left with one task at hand, and then another, and another. No multitasking, no running after time. It is a strange place, a landscape heretofore unknown. But I like being here, dancing to a slow tempo that allows the body to really feel life’s melody, and the spirit to relish every step. In this kind of life there is no need to rush, simplicity is the norm and wants and needs fall by the wayside. This is the life that Zen inspires. Many, many years ago I began to practice Zazen, which is basically the study of the self – a form of meditation that is very much at the heart of Zen practice. Zazen was life changing for me, and it has taken all these years to reach the pinnacle of this journey. And now the challenge is to find out how this new way of BEing can be applied to writing. In the Writing Life, Annie Dillard wrote: A …

A Passive Stretch to Ease a Writer’s Aching Body

    Last week was an extremely busy one for me, mainly because I committed to submit ten articles to a London publisher. Sometimes we make decisions that are totally insane, and that’s what I did when I accepted the writing assignments that had to be submitted within one week after acceptance. I managed to finish all ten articles one day and a few hours late because I was able to work on them only a couple of days before the deadline. It required hours and hours of striking the keypad and needless to say, by the time I finished, my shoulders and back were really stiff. Through the years, when the body stiffens and begins to ache due to overwork, I always do a passive stretch which I call the “Fulford stretch.” It’s an easy and highly effective way to relax the muscles. This stretch was recommended by Dr. Robert Fulford,  who was a leading practitioner of cranial osteopathy.  In his book, “Dr. Fulford’s Touch of Life: The Healing Power of the Natural Life Force,” he …

Slowing Down

After the flurry of activities, life deliberately provides us with opportunities to slow down and rest. If we have learned to move our focus away from the call of the material world, we are able to enjoy this time. Life ceases to be a race and begins to take on the pace of a sweet, slow dance.  

Finding My Own Rhythm

I work on weekends and today was my day off! I spent much time pondering upon yesterday’s post on early morning writing, and my failed attempts at it. I opened up to a dialogue and it helped a lot – it always helps to clarify persistent issues. From the dialogue with the Self, I realized that I was being too “left brained” about the whole issue. This much I would say, though. All those times that I was consistently doing early morning writing, I tell you, the writing ideas literally flowed…sometimes it was a deluge. Looking back now, that’s one of the reasons why I kept at it and tried to get back to it after backsliding. But it’s time to get real. Five days a week I come home late – sometimes after 9 p.m. from my therapy sessions. I usually start sessions at noon and some days I begin at 3 p.m. I have to meet my clients halfway – many of them work too, so my work schedule is far from regular. Aside from …

More on the Art of Savoring

In Writing and the Forgotten Art of Savoring, a blog post I wrote sometime ago, I explained how I take the time to savor the little pleasures of life; and how writing can teach us the art of savoring those precious moments. In this TEDx Talk, neuroscientist Ted Hansen explains how we can use pleasurable moments to change our brains. It’s a scientific way of explaining the fine art of savoring. Enjoy!   My apologies, for some reason I can’t get the video to appear – please click on the link.

Of Candlemas and the Fallen 44

I clutched my ochre sweater as I walked through the yard this morning, relishing the second day of the coldest month in the Philippines. The northeast monsoon brings with it chilly winds coming from the Siberian High and it tends to blow strongest in February – it was 19°C during the wee hours of the morning. It’s also Candlemas, the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple and there’s a fiesta in the Parish where we celebrate mass every Sunday. According to Biblical accounts, Mary presented Jesus to God at the temple after observing a traditional 40-day purification period. At the temple, they were met by an old Jewish man named Simeon, who declared that the infant would be a light for the Gentiles – thus the event came to be known as Candlemas. It is also celebrated as the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin – the Feast of Our Lady of Candelaria, the Spanish word for Candlemas. According to the Bible, Simeon was promised that “he should not see death …

A Tribute to the Philippines’ Fallen 44

Today is a National Day of Mourning in the Philippines. The whole country pays tribute to the 44 gallant men of the Philippine National Police Special Action Force who lost their lives on January 25, 2015 in the town of Mamasapano in Maguindanao. The 44 were part of the Philippine National Police’s elite corp that was entasked with the responsibility of serving arrest warrants to two terrorists:  Malaysian  Jemaah Islamiyah leader Zulkifli bin Hir also known as Marwan, who is listed among America’s most wanted terrorists; and Filipino bomb maker Abdulbasit Usman. Marwan is believed to have been killed in the encounter. Update: On February 4, 2015, the The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Field Office in Los Angeles, California, officially confirmed that  preliminary DNA testing of a finger supplied by the Philippine National Police belonged to Marwan.   Marwan was considered the “Osama Bin Laden” of Asia, and was among Al-Qaeda’s top bomb makers. Thank you for your courage and loyalty to the country…you do us proud. “Is it worth it? One international terrorist, equivalent to 44 SAF troopers? …

Turning Aside

All monastic life centers around silence and solitude. These twin blessings are also the essence of a writer’s life. Writers need silence and solitude in huge chunks.  However, in an increasingly noisy world dominated by cell phones, mp3s, tablets and social media, we are barraged by constant stimulation. The renowned psychologist Wayne Edward Oates developed a technique called turning aside, which helps one find silence within even in the midst of turbulence. Turning aside means removing your focus from the chaos around you and shifting your focus upon a small object. Giving the small object your hundred percent attention trains the mind to shut off all the noise and chaos around you, and in time all that will matter to you will be the object of your focus. It is as though the noisy world simply recedes into the background. This exercise can be done anywhere and at anytime. It’s a great exercise for writers. I’ve practiced turning aside for many years. My brother taught me how to shut off the noise around me and fully focus on my intention or …

Lessons from Rock Balancing

I’ve always had an affinity for stones and rocks. So, late last year when I heard about rock balancing, it was a no brainer – I simply had to learn how to do it! I took some small stones and a few rocks from the garden and brought them into my bedroom and in the evenings, I tried to learn how to balance stones and rocks. There’s a science to it, actually. You just have to “help” the rock find its center of gravity by “assisting it.” You let the rock fall and then slightly turn it away from the side where it falls. The rock falls and falls and falls, and each time it does, you turn it slightly, until finally the rock stops falling – it has found its center of gravity! I’ve spent many nights balancing rocks and stones. There’s a feeling of exhilaration each time the rocks find their center of gravity. I’ve done the same thing with my writing – I’ve set goals over and over. I’ve fallen time and time again. I’ve tried …

Writing and the Forgotten Art of Savoring

Jack Heffron tells writers to have fun with the writing process. I’m sure humor writers have lots of fun when they write, but I was absent when heaven showered writers with the gift of humor. I have the sneaky feeling though that two other bloggers, Pam and Susanne were in the front row when  it happened and I always grow green with envy after reading their blogs. To have fun during the writing process, I started a “fun journal.” That’s my best shot at having fun while writing. I love to write, but I cannot say it’s fun. How does one have fun while searching for the right words to express one’s feelings? English is my second language so when I’m writing, I’m regularly questioning whether this or that word is the right one and I Google the meaning of words when I am in doubt – which is quite often. No, writing isn’t fun for me yet, I haven’t found the path that leads to that state and I hope I’ll see the signposts that leads to that place – soon. But  writing does …

A New Word for the New Year

Originally posted on A Soultender's Journal:
Asking for a word that would provide the direction for one’s life has been a tradition since the time mystics fled to the deserts and mountains to seek enlightenment. These mystics, known as the Desert Fathers and Desert Mothers, were visited by many people who sought their guidance. The practice of asking for a word is closely related to Lectio Divina, an ancient way of praying practiced by Christians. Lectio Divina involves pondering upon a word or phrase from Scripture with the aim of attaining union with God. I never developed the habit of making New Year’s resolutions – it just didn’t appeal to me at all even when I was young. But last year, when I heard of this ancient tradition of asking for a word, I knew it was for me. Thus, I asked for a word, and it flowed to me. The word Peregrinatio was a revelation, and through the days and months, it defined, explained, gave purpose and identified many aspects in my life,…

Praying through the Storms in Our Lives

All over our country -the Philippines- the atmosphere reverberates with prayers as millions and millions of Filipinos continue to pray over the weekend. The Philippines is the third largest Catholic country in the world, and millions of Filipinos head for the churches on Sundays. This Sunday though, some of the churches in 47 of the country’s 81 provinces are serving a different purpose, and people are praying specifically for their safety. Thousands have flocked to churches which are stable and sturdy enough to withstand the fury of Typhoon Hagupit. “The strongest storm of the year anywhere on the planet is zeroing in on the Philippines,” a CNN broadcaster announced, “and we’re talking about Super Typhoon Hagupit,” she explained. Foreign correspondents have begun arriving since a few days ago to cover the arrival, stay and departure of Hagupit, which has made its first landfall late Saturday evening. On November last year, millions of Filipinos prayed that they would be spared from the fury of Super Typhoon Haiyan, which, according to meteorologist Jeff Masters, was the strongest typhoon to ever make …

Simply Blossom

  The small, fragrant white blossom is the national flower of the Philippines. The sampaguita (jasminum sambac) is a hardy shrub with a multitude of blossoms at any given time.  As a young plant, the sampaguita is fragile and the blossoms oftentimes appear singly. A single, tiny flower the size of a big coin looks lonely. I couldn’t help but feel how we too, sometimes look lonely when we are alone.  When our size, color or lonesome state calls attention, we feel vulnerable and fragile. This tiny flower is so fragrant, that even if there is only one blossom, there’s a hint of its fragrance when the wind blows. We can be like that too, no matter how different we are from the rest, no matter how small we feel – or how alone we seem to be.  When we are true to ourselves and allow ourselves to be, we will simply blossom.

Meditation, Life and Tea

Drink your tea slowly and reverently, As if it is the axis on which the whole world revolves — Slowly, evenly, without rushing to the future. Live the actual moment. Only this moment is life. – Thich Nhat Hanh The best state of mind in which to drink tea is one of deep meditation. The second best is while looking at a beautiful landscape or listening to music. The third best is sharing a stimulating conversation. In all cases, it is necessary to aspire toward a quiet and tranquil frame of mind. – attributed to Chinese Zen Master Paichanng

Possibilities Often Missed

I almost missed seeing these fruits on a tree. I was walking a path that led to a tourist facility, and like everyone else, was focused on getting there. The sideshows presented by the trees went unnoticed.. My attention was drawn to these fruits only when three boys began to play beside the tree. Life dishes out so many opportunities that are ripe with possibilities – for peace, joy, comfort, solace…all the good things that could nourish the soul.  But we often miss seeing these opportunities because we are too caught up with the frivolities of the material world. Nature has so much to offer us, to teach us. May we all find more moments and images that would help us slow down and enjoy life in a more soulful way.

Sunday’s Blessings

Originally posted on A Soultender's Journal:
Life presents us with many paths along our journey. Sometimes the pathways are lovely and make us feel good. Some pathways are are rugged and look hard to traverse; while others are just – well, ok. When we are presented with a new pathway, life asks us to make decisions. Do we proceed along the path we are currently treading or do we stop and take the new one being presented to us? It is almost always easier to go down the familiar road, but the fact that we are being presented with a new pathway means that we are up to the challenge of exploring a new journey, a new way of Being. The next time a new pathway appears before you, know that you are being presented with the prospect of a new journey – and that you have everything you need to face the challenges presented by the new path. Everything you need is within you. ?

Find Your Own Writing Rhythm

Two years ago, I decided that I wanted to learn more about creative non-fiction writing. With Amazon.com as my guide, I ordered ebooks and books on journaling, creative non-fiction writing, as well as books on writing exercises and writing techniques. For the first time in my life I had so many books on writing, and I explored the pages eagerly. I am still in the process of reading the books…there must have been quite a thirst in me at that time because I ordered quite a lot! I have learned and continue to learn from the books. There are many discoveries. For instance, I discovered that long before Julia Cameron wrote about morning pages, Dorothea Brande recommended early morning writing in 1934; before Tony Buzan surprised the world with mind-mapping, Gabrielle Lusser Rico wrote about clustering in 1983; and Eric Maisel’s recommendation to write a little every four hours during the day, “just like taking your medicine,” is very similar to Dorothea Brande’s writing by prearrangement. Setting aside my concerns about attribution, perhaps we can …

Celebrating First Year with a Giveaway for Commenters

This blog is celebrating its first year with over 1,200 followers! I am of course in a happy mood as I mark this milestone. I believe that in the game of life, we achieve milestones with the help of others. In my case, I am well aware that WordPress.com was a big help in inviting followers. I remember when the blog was new, after each post, I would get a message from WordPress.com saying they had alerted a certain number of bloggers about my blog post.  That went on for a while – a much needed boost. Then it stopped, and I knew that it was up to me to keep the ball rolling. Joining blogathons helped a lot too.  I joined the Wordcount Blogathon, Yeah Write’s 31dbb, and NaBloPoMo. I know that these blogging events helped spread the word about my blog, and I encourage you to join one if you haven’t yet. Writing the posts for this blog was very therapeutic for me. I set it up initially with the intent of learning …

Emerging from the Shadows: Lessons from the survivors of Haiyan

It is cold and dry here in our part of the Philippines – December thru February are the coldest months in this country, when the amihan or trade winds blow through the archipelago, and the cold northeast wind makes life pleasant especially during the day. But the world’s climate is truly changing, because in the two other main islands of our country, there has been rain, a typhoon and much flooding. The very same areas – central Visayas – that had been devastated by super typhoon Haiyan last November, and Mindanao, which was hit by category 5 typhoon Bopha in December of 2012 had been once again inundated, when they too, should have been enjoying the cool and dry northeast winds. Filipinos in the island of Luzon are enjoying the blessings of the trade winds, while our countrymen down south are continually challenged by nature. It is such a paradox, and a few days ago, I wondered if it was right to enjoy our blessings while others so close to home are having such a …

What’s Your Word for this Year?

People around the world are marking the new year in different ways.  The most common manner of  welcoming another year is of course by making a list of new year’s resolutions. Over at the Abbey of the Arts, the spiritual community that I belong to, we prepared to welcome 2014 by pondering upon the one word that would provide the spirit for the new year. Choosing my word for 2014 was easy – the word “Peregrinatio” reverberated in every fiber of my soul the moment I read about it in a reflection written by the Celtic priest Dara Malloy. For the whole year, “Peregrinatio” will set the course of my life; the word will provide me with the inspiration, nudges and challenges I will need as I move on. I will not bore you with the meaning of the word, nor of its significance in my life. What I would like to do instead is to encourage you to choose your own word – or allow a word to choose you. Why choose a word? Because …

The Changing Seasons

The nights are much longer now and even in a tropical country like the Philippines, evenings are much, much colder. We have no snow, no winter, but the cool, dry season from November to February gives us respite from the rains and typhoons brought about by the rainy season. The cool months are the most pleasant for many Filipinos, a stark contrast to the scorching summer days, which begin soon after the cool February days come to an end. The Philippines celebrates Christmas in a grand way – and for a long time. Stores and malls begin to display and sell Yuletide items as early as September. There are plenty of glitter and snow-themed displays everywhere. Many of the displays are so colorful, whimsical… and so western!     Poinsettias One of the more popular and ubiquitous displays during Christmas are the poinsettia flowers. Christmas in the Philippines is never complete unless there are poinsettia flowers – either real or artificial. The poinsettia is indigenous to Mexico and Central America, where the climate is cooler. …

Reduce Writing Commitments to Keep Your Holidays Resistance-free

Originally posted on Bane of Your Resistance:
It may seem a bit paradoxical that one of the best ways to sustain your writing habits during the holidays is to reduce your commitments to them. Commit to less, accomplish more. Years ago, before I understood the nature of writer’s resistance, I thought I should be able to log hours and hours of writing during holidays and vacations. Of course, I never lived up to those expectations, which increased my resistance along with my self-doubt. One of the watershed moments that helped me transition from frustrated wanna-be to professional writer was recognizing that writing is something I need to make time for every weekday, aka every workday.Writing would no longer be something I’d try – and fail – to squeeze in and therefore feel guilty about never doing enough of. (Note: Pprofessional is not the only alternative to frustrated wanna-be; plenty of writers who wouldn’t consider themselves professional writers are deservedly satisfied with their writing practice.) “Hobby” writer or pro, you can minimize resistance and potential frustration during your…

12 Days of Christmas: Gift Wrapping Inspiration

Originally posted on Styling My Everyday:
On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me … Ten beautifully wrapped gifts Nine Christmas songs for dancing Eight cups of hot chocolate Seven swan chocolate eclairs Six egg frittatas Five golden gifts Four colly chocolate lava cakes Three French Champagne cocktails Two sugar cookie turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tart! For the tenth day of the “12 Days of Christmas” my true love gave to me “10 lords a leaping.” Why were they leaping? Because of all those beautiful gifts! I LOVE wrapping gifts. I’ve done a gift wrapping how-to on the blog before (check it out HERE) where I exclaimed that “gift bags are lazy.” I still feel the same way—especially for Christmas gifts! I like to stock up on all kinds of different size boxes and then customize each gift for the recipient. Here are some of the gifts that are wrapped under our tree this year: Craft paper is something you should always have in your craft arsenal. It’s cheap, can be used for anything (crafts, wrapping),…

Sunday’s Blessings: Writers’ Thoughts on Christmas

“I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round, as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.” -Charles Dickens “There’s nothing sadder in this world than to awake Christmas morning and not be a child.” – Erma Bombeck “Christmas is the season for kindling the fire of hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart.” – Washington Irving “I heard the bells on Christmas Day Their old, familiar carols play, And wild and sweet The words repeat Of peace on earth, good-will to men!” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and …

The World and Beiber Continue to Help

In the Philippines, many companies have decided to forgo their Christmas parties. The amount they would have spent for the festivities are instead going to the people in the provinces hard hit by Typhoon Haiyan last November. This is admirable indeed, and understandable because after all, the people in the Visayas are our countrymen. Aside from the additional help from these local companies, the survivors of Haiyan will also experience the joy of receiving aid from many people who work in German companies that have decided to scrap their Christmas parties and donate the money intended for the parties to the people in the Visayas. Germany’s acting head of mission Joern Rohdesaid said that various German companies operating in the Philippines have provided assistance in kind and through donations from their employees. The German companies have also used their own funds and some have tapped into the resources of their headquarters and global networks. An early Christmas gift for the people of Tacloban was a visit from Justine Beiber, who flew in from Australia. Before …

UNICEF and Rihanna, “There for the Philippines”

Last November 25, UNICEF and Rihanna  launched “There for the Philippines,” Campaign to Help Children Affected by Typhoon Haiyan. “There for the Philippines” will support the immediate and long-term relief efforts for Filipino children and the families who were displaced by Super Typhoon Haiyan. UNICEF Supporter Rihanna helped kick-off the campaign and raise awareness of UNICEF’s relief efforts in the Philippines through social media.The singer, who has held concerts in the Philippines before, also made a $100,000 donation to the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. Other celebrities who graced the launch were  WNBA’s Skylar Diggins, MLB star Robinson Cano and actress Vanessa Hudgens. Caryl Stern, President and CEO of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF said, “We are incredibly grateful for the outpouring of support shown during this crisis.” She vowed that the organization will continue to support the people of the Visayas in the Philippines: “The effects of the strongest storm to make landfall have been devastating and the rebuilding process will not happen overnight. UNICEF will be there for as long as it takes to …

Songs for the Philippines

iTunes tweeted, “The music world comes together for Typhoon #Haiyan relief on Songs for the Philippines. http://tw.itunes.com/0As.” Several top artists/groups have contributed songs to the album “Songs for the Philippines,” which is available for download on iTunes. Proceeds from the sale of the 39-track album which cost US$9.99 will be donated to the Philippine Red Cross and will fund relief efforts in the Visayas, in the Philippines, where more than 5,000 people were killed and 670,000 people were displaced by Typhoon Haiyan. The anthology includes songs by top international artists including Justin Bieber, Alicia Keys, Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Adele, Katy Perry, Justin Timberlake, Eminem, and Madonna. Songs by famous bands like U2, The Beatles, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Fray, Linkin Park, Imagine Dragons, and Kings of Leon are also included in the album. List of Songs: 1. The Beatles – “Across The Universe” (UMG) 2. Bob Dylan – “Shelter From The Storm” (SME) 3. Michael Buble – “Have I Told You Lately That I Love You” (WMG 4. U2 – “In A Little While” …