Overwhelm: The Art of Subtly Killing It in 5 Simple Ways

I wrote this back in early 2021 and completely forgot about it. I’m currently in the process of writing a short story, and my writing process always begins with everything that has nothing to do with writing – like spring cleaning my laptop. So I’m blowing the dust off this article and sharing this with you because, hopefully, some of the things I wrote here may still have value.

It’s a Monday. The other days of the week are staring back at me from the bright screen of my phone – a fitting substitute for a fog light. Everything is becoming a blur in my head, and I’m beginning to feel it – it that I have no proper name for.

The blur in my head is like a tenant who flagrantly refuses to pay rent but stays anyway. I’m trying everything in my power to rationalize the source of my discomfort because when you can’t even give a name to what you’re feeling, what are you supposed to do anyway? I’m in a labyrinth of thoughts that just goes on and on and on.

I look at my laptop screen, and it feels like I’m racing against something, and losing the game. I can’t win the staring contest I put myself up against. There are thousands of words of things that I need to do and read and review. If I could pull these words out of the screen, they would pile up on my desk – layer after layer of print on paper, and I’d be buried under them – still asking myself where I’m supposed to begin and where to end.

Work. Work is the only thing that could possibly cause tension between my temples, and an unbidden temporary paralysis. More than 20 years in this industry and – no double job in the past, no excitement from the newsroom, no overtime that lasted until dawn, no www abyss – could overwhelm me.

Until now.

There it is. The word is overwhelm.

Once upon a time, ‘overwhelm’ was not even a word I would use to describe my job/tasks/everything else in life. I would look at a kilometric list of things to do, and at the end of the day, I’d be dusting off my hands and putting my feet up and… actually end my day. However, things changed, and these past three weeks, I’ve felt like the days would never end. My checklist kept on growing, and I never seemed to get to the bottom of it, no matter how many hours I worked every day.

Here’s a glimpse of what I do: I manage people and do project and website management. I also write scripts, marketing funnel material, non-fiction, and once again, attempt to write fiction. Not a lot these days, but I write even just inside my head.

On the side, I also manage our bed and breakfast together with my husband. So you see, I’m not treading an unfamiliar path, nor am I new to this. Becoming overwhelmed is an unwelcome novelty in my life.

I read up on a few pieces of advice that experts have given on being overwhelmed with work, life, love. While these prescriptions were designed by people with years of professional experience in psychology and other fields related to human behavior, I could not find anything on their list that could help me. For instance, creating a task list is a given; getting a good night’s sleep is kind of like a chicken-and-egg situation because it’s difficult to fall asleep when you have 50 things going on in your head; taking a break – an advice I like, but if you’ve dealt with anxiety then you know that taking a break sometimes leads to an even heightened anxiety; setting a deadline for yourself – consider it done, then you find yourself hitting the wall of anxiety again; taking a moment to be aware of your surroundings (one of the suggestions that work according to science) – I like this, but it’s another given because I’m a homeschooling mom and new grandmother to my kids’ pups, and so yes, I am very aware of what may be being chewed, where weird smells may be coming from, looking at the lovely sight of soul twins – a teacup Pomeranian and golden retriever, both three months old – playing with each other.

Having said all that, I’m not refusing to try what has already been tested. I realized, though, that we all have different life experiences that led us to this space where the feeling of being overwhelmed is now ruling over us.

Sick and tired of being overwhelmed, I sat my husband down to talk. That’s when everything started to get better.

I’m sharing a few things I’ve done to slowly take me out of the big O in case you’ve also been looking around and feel like none of the other things will help you.

5 Things to Help You If You’re Overwhelmed

1. Talk. Find someone you really trust and can pour your heart out to. It has to be someone who will listen to the nitty-gritty details of the mundane, yet gargantuan, workload you have without them running away from you halfway through your story. Don’t just tell this person that you’re overwhelmed, why you are overwhelmed. Walk this person through your entire thought process: what happens as soon as you wake up, what it is about the kilometric list that bothers you, how you start sweating when you think about things that you need to do for the day.

Speaking out your worries will help you analyze things that you might have been overthinking without realizing it. Sometimes, we tend to magnify little worries, especially if we fail to verbalize them.

Getting another person’s perspective on a matter also helps at times when we’re being unkind to ourselves.

Frances Beldia

2. Measure. Look your tasks in the eye no matter how much bigger they are than you. I realized that my sense of panic stemmed from feelings of being unsure about all the tasks ahead of me and everything that’s already on my plate. For a time, I had to deal with a nagging feeling that there’s something I needed to do, but wasn’t sure what – which led to me being more paranoid because I might be forgetting something important.

Knowing that I needed to deal with it badly if I wanted to get restful sleep back, I sat down with a pen and paper. I’m a firm believer in the hand-and-brain connection, thus, I still have a handy notebook on my desk. I listed down all tasks that needed to be started and completed. I didn’t hurry into it just to make sure I didn’t miss anything. I created a major list with sub-tasks under it and a note on how I planned to accomplish each task.

As soon as I filled up a few good pages of those tasks, I looked at everything, and I realized that the list may be long but very doable as long as I created a plan of how to tackle the items on that list. Just knowing that nothing was beyond my control was more than enough. Creating a visual aid for your tasks will help you design a measurable way to finish them.

3. Control. We like the idea of being in control of things in our lives, but even the most successful people have failed in this area. I used to like to think that as long as I could plan my working days well, everything would always go right. Wrong. There are more than 10 reasons why your day won’t go well the way you planned it because you’re not living inside a box impenetrable by outside forces. Let go of the obsession of being in control and the less overwhelmed you will be.

Being overwhelmed is sometimes not about all the tasks you can’t seem to finish, but the feeling that you are not in control of everything.

Be like Hurley. Relax and take it easy.

4. Goals. You always hear people telling you to have goals and being realistic with them. But what does that really mean? It’s not like you enjoy setting up goals you know you can’t achieve. I would define realistic goals as ones that are actionable, and doable. I used to write a minimum of 15 things to finish in a day. I would always feel in control when I was writing them, not to mention very sure that those were doable on a Monday because there’s another list waiting for Tuesday. But reality has it that there are tasks that are not only humps on the road you bump into and get over. Some actually stop you in your tracks and lets you say goodbye to the rest of the things on your list. I used to like to think that I should only give a 700-word article 20 minutes of my time to review, but when I get to the first article, I’d realize that the article needs an overhaul, not to mention that the writer completely missed the entire gist of the assignment, and also contained some wrong information. Providing feedback to the writer already takes a lot of time because you want to make sure nothing is amiss in the next submission.

You look at your list, and that article is only #3.

Now I take a better approach when it comes to my to-do list. There is a list, but it’s not screaming at me to finish 15 things or so all in one day anymore. I’m no longer scrambling to finish everything in haste – which often leads to errors, by the way – and this way, I am relaxed as I approach tasks.

Frances Beldia

5. Gratitude. I know this looks out of place among the other four things that I mentioned, but this is the one thing that fueled me to move away from overwhelm or the feeling of being overwhelmed. Although once derided by peers as a workaholic (which I honestly doubt I ever was), the way I feel about tasks changed when I got older. It’s not only about finishing a list of things to do – I wanted to start work more efficiently; walk through taskland and know that things will get done with each given a proper amount of time.

What’s making you feel overwhelmed, and what are you doing about it? Would love to hear your thoughts, so be sure to share them in the comments section.

It Wasn’t a High Tea or Wagyu Kind of Day, But What Made It All Worth It?

We don’t do Valentine’s. Well, not usually. I do get the flowers every year, though. Being a relatively newcomer in this place, and having been locked down and stuck in the house for a year, my husband thought Valentine’s this year was a good way to surprise me with a spontaneous trip that led us to the beach.

Yes, I just discovered we live 15 minutes (or less) away from the beach. Alex has told me that again and again, but I have trouble understanding concepts of distances. You say the words near, far, and it won’t register well in my head unless I actually set my foot in these places. I’m the kind who looks at the map and see places being inches away from each other. I don’t like the sound of kilometers or miles. I was born disoriented. Period.

Maybe it wasn’t as spontaneous for him as it was for me. After all, he had to do the premature planning, if he did any planning at all. I later found out the kids didn’t know about the surprise — which was another surprise for me because nothing is hush hush around this house.

Was I asked to put on my bikini and slather myself with sunblock? No, I wasn’t. After lunch and the last sip of my black coffee, Alex told me to get up because we needed to go.

“Where are you going?” Attika, our nine-year old, asked. Well, protesting mostly.

“We’re going to the market,” Alex said.

So, I immediately and obediently got up to get ready. For some reason (well yes, I think it’s the age, duh) the word market works up its magic on me. I put on my most fashionable going-to-the-market garb. Meaning, my lazy everyday clothes — a tee, jeans and my nearly disintegrating Toms. If my Toms could only speak…

No bikini, no idea why we were going to the market, no intention of asking. That’s me. There’s a word for it in Filipino — kaladkarin, which translates to draggable. Like most files in a device, I’m easy to drag anywhere. I like not knowing where I’m being taken. Let’s go are my two favorite words put together.

Our First trip to the Lemery Market

Our journey of a thousand-ish steps started with a jeepney ride, almost missing the corner stop where people alight to get to the market, and then a few strides to the massive Lemery market.

We snaked around the market passing by stall after stall of clothes, plastic ware, shoes, household items, cellphone accessories, food, toys, native products, animal feeds, and yes, more clothes. It was exciting as it was baffling because sales ladies and gentlemen would follow us around endlessly asking us, “Anong hanap niyo, Ma’am? Sir?” (What are you looking for or what do you need?)

Er, I’m not sure. A job? Money? A way to travel? Peace of mind? Oh, I know. The will to drag myself to exercise every day!

“Pasensiya na, wala po kami niyan.” (Sorry, we don’t have that.) I can almost hear them say it again and again, stall after stall.

I love markets. Markets are magical places. They can be malodorous, but that’s part of their charm. Everything is colorful and the vibe is always exciting.

Frances Beldia

It often makes me wonder how stalls that sell the same stuff are able to compete with each other.

The Elusive Kesong Puti

We have been looking for kesong puti these past few weeks. It’s white cheese similar to cottage cheese. We’ve asked around; asked sellers of everything else but kesong puti if they or somebody they know sell kesong puti; contacted sellers who have the cheese but won’t deliver to our area. Alex and I have played the role of Sisa asking everyone we’d meet on the streets if they’ve seen kesong puti anywhere.

We did the same at the Lemery market, but like Sisa, we failed in our search for the elusive cheese.

To See the Sea!

I can’t remember the last time I saw the sea. I’ve longed and yearned and dreamt of it, but the mask got in the way.

Stepping on sand once more was like getting on a magic carpet. The beach was a far cry (very far indeed) from Boracay and parts of Siargao and Panglao, but it was a beach nonetheless. And sea, wherever it is, is beautiful because it sings to you, let’s you breathe fresh air, and it wakes the hypothetical surfer in you, even when you know that plywood of a body you own would never float.

Orlando’s Beach Resort, Lemery

In my most unbeachy clothes, we went to Orlando’s Beach Resort. We were greeted with utmost enthusiasm and we were led to the restaurant. The first thing we did was to walk to the beach and take a photo for the kids to see.

When we got back to the restaurant — a large cabana with low tables, actually — we were told that they only had unlimited samgyupsal available. And water. We wanted coffee. No coffee. Who looks for coffee at the beach? We do. But who eats samgyupsal at 3:30 p.m.? Apparently, a lot of people do. There were three tables of unbeachy looking people happily gorging on their meats.

Alex and I looked at each other and knew our option was to either take the old lady’s offer of Indian mango by the beach or head out to look for another restaurant. We politely apologized and left.

The thousand-ish steps I mentioned above covered our tracks walking along Nonong Casto Road looking for our coffee. The road is lined with budget-friendly resorts, but most of the restaurants aren’t operational yet. Covid-19 affected these businesses, crippling them to a degree.

Across the road from these resorts there are several small shops and eateries. I’m just painting the scene for you in case you’d be crazy enough to look for coffee in this area. I saw 10-peso coffee signs, but we know what that means — instant coffee in styro cups. Instant and styro are not my friends.

Orlando’s Beach Resort Information

  • Orlando’s is among the budget-friendly resorts in Lemery, Batangas
  • Address: Nonong Casto Road, Lemery, Batangas
  • Published Contact Number: (+63) 0916 652 1028 (and yes, it’s a working number)
  • Website: They don’t have their own website
  • Price Range: Rates can be as cheap as approximately PhP 2,000 for 2 guests and PhP 8,000 for 9 guests
  • Payment Options: They don’t require credit cards for payment; you can book through booking portals online or call them for reservation
  • Parking: Free, private, safe, on-site parking is available
  • Pool: Yes, there’s an average-sized pool
  • Availability: Since the rates are among the cheapest, the place is always fully-booked especially on weekends and holidays
  • Corkage Fee: None. You can bring your own food and drinks
  • Restaurant: Options are very limited
  • Cons: The place can get really crowded because of its low-priced accommodation; guests bring in grills, pots, pans, rice cooker, their own food and drinks so the place gets chaotic

RMS Garden Resort, Lemery

Finally, we found a resort with a functional restaurant. The resto was overlooking a mini water park packed with people, selfiers, Tiktokers and all. I wasn’t going to spend the rest of my afternoon people-watching and wanted to check the beachfront, so we moved. The clerk gladly offered to bring our food to the beach. She got me at “bean bags and food stalls”.

Bean bags it was and a couple of food stalls selling siomai and burgers reminiscent of the sought-after buy-one-take-one Angel’s Burger. Both stalls were manned by the same guy who played slow Pinoy rap love songs in full blast for his crowd of 30 or so who would suddenly break into a chorus. At some point, I felt like we crashed into somebody’s party.

Our seafood platter and lechon kawali from the other restaurant came and we had our siomai and burger. We were in the party. We finally belonged.

RMS Garden Resort Information

  • RMS Garden Resort is among the budget-friendly resorts in Lemery, Batangas
  • Address: Nonong Casto Road, Lemery, Batangas
  • Published Contact Number: (043) 411 2149
  • Website: They don’t have their own website but you can find information on their Facebook page
  • Price Range: Find their rates here
  • Payment Options: They don’t require credit cards for payment; you can book through booking portals online or call them for reservation
  • Parking: Free, private, safe, on-site parking is available
  • Pool: Yes, there’s an average-sized pool
  • Availability: Since the rates are among the cheapest, the place is always fully-booked especially on weekends and holidays
  • Corkage Fee: None. You can bring your own food and drinks
  • Restaurant: Available with ample choices on the menu; beachfront stalls limited to siomai and burgers
  • Cons: The place can get really crowded because of its low-priced accommodation; guests bring in grills, pots, pans, rice cooker, their own food and drinks so the place gets chaotic

Classic Filipino Way of “Beaching”

In the midst of the monotonous beat pounding from Mr. Siomai’s speakers, people walking back and forth in their swim clothes of leggings, jean shorts and boxers, Tiktokers half-heartedly dancing, motorcycle riders in their full gear taking many, many photos of themselves, and almost inebriated beach goers cheering one Tanduay glass after another, I found myself honestly quite amused.

These people came all the way from places like Las Pinas (we did hear a woman say it out load where she and her family were from because Mr. Siomai, remember?) and other parts of Metro Manila to spend their Valentine’s Day there. What a few minutes ride was for us to find coffee was a couple of hours drive for those people with bags and rice cookers and grills and frying pans and whatnot in the trunk of their cars. That’s classic Filipino beaching for you. It reminded me of the time when as kids our parents and grandparents would load huge containers of food and cases of softdrinks and beers at the trunk of our cars or hired jeepneys because there would only be huts with makeshift tables and no restaurants on beaches.

That’s how you would party even in Boracay back then. But let’s save that for another story.

It was far from a Wagyu kind of date in a fancy restaurant with wine and the works, but the rusticity of it all brought back a nostalgic feeling. And people were genuinely having the time of their lives, too. It was a good sight after what swept through us last year.

Coffee? There was no coffee. After the nth Pinoy rap love song, we left. We left smiling and having a good time in spite of ourselves.

“Buy me a cappuccino,” I told him. So we walked out of the crowd hand in hand knowing we’d never be back.

Cure for Mondays, Asia’s Top Women’s Blog, Philippine Homeschool Blog, Best Mommy Tips, Family Issues Website, Cheap Resorts in Lemery Batangas, RMS Resort, Orlando’s Resort, Cheap Dating Places Batangas, Lemery Market

5 Meditation Guides for the Noisy Mind

Meditation requires more than just sitting, breathing deeply and closing one’s eyes. After five years of meditating, I still sometimes find myself wandering off to my dream vacation — or to the pile of laundry in the other room, or to the list I made for the almost empty pantry, or the chores I haven’t done — during meditation. And the occasional times when I’d end up having conversations with myself.

Even if I’m in a quiet place, I would still find it a bit challenging at times to keep my mind still. I realize that no matter how quiet my external environment is, it is the noise inside my head that keeps me from being able to concentrate.

The thing about meditation is: the more you try so hard to concentrate, the more it gets noisy inside your head. This happens because you pressure yourself to get into a state of calmness, which is unnatural. Both your mind and body are not in sync — the reason why you feel you’re losing the battle with putting them in a harmonious, serene state.

Why Can Meditation Sometimes Be So Damn Difficult?

There are some limiting beliefs that we impose upon ourselves when we think about starting a meditation practice. One, that you should be sitting in a lotus position near Buddha in a nice garden somewhere because when you look at photos about meditation online that’s what you see. Two, that you should be in a certain position to start meditating. You can meditate in the car (just tell the driver not to do the same thing), when you’re commuting, while you’re standing gazing at the sky, when you’re taking a break from a book you’re reading, or whatever. Three, that you should be burning incense or diffusing an expensive oil.

While it’s true that being in a serene place and having the right elements make up for what you would consider a good meditation practice, there is no reason why you shouldn’t meditate if all you have is the time to breathe.

If it’s your first time to practice meditation, it would help to be with a teacher to guide you. And yes, doing it in a nice garden or a mountainside view with Buddha and an incense burning on your side would be nice. But given the situation on the ground, it may be a long time from now until you can sit with a teacher to practice meditation.

I meditate in the morning upon waking and at night before I go to bed. However, since we moved to this small town, the clucking of chickens has completely taken over my life. Being the flawed human that I am, I either bring all my neighbors’ chickens to the happy, calm place inside my head, or I kill them all — yes, in that same head — during meditation. So, it sometimes helps when I put on my earphones and play a meditation guide to unplug from the world.

The irony is, you sometimes need to plug to unplug.

Frances Beldia

There are so many guided meditations available online, the place for anything between chaos and peace. I have not even explored the apps yet and have no intentions of doing so very soon. I use YouTube for guided meditation. In my years of navigating meditation guides, I have found a few that I find both helpful and effective, not only in drowning out the massive clucking, but in helping me relax at night or helping me get ready first thing in the morning.

Here are 5 Meditation Guides for Self Healing, Chakra Cleansing, Meeting Your Spirit Guides While Sleeping, Deep Pain Relief and Forgiveness

Louise Hay. She was a metaphysical counselor who spent a huge part of her life going around the world helping people understand why human beings develop dis-ease; why our bodies get sick. Most importantly, Hay has taught the world how much thoughts affect the physical body. If you, for instance, believe that you will never heal from whatever sickness you have, then that’s what your body will listen to, and there is a huge chance that you will never heal. Be very careful of where your thoughts lead you.

Hay has guided meditation for the evening, deep sleep, morning, as well as affirmations. My favorite among her collection of guided meditation is her self-healing meditation. She spends the first part of the recording explaining about how powerful our thoughts are and how they’re continuously shaping our world. The guided meditation starts on the 37th minute in case you want to go to meditation right away, but I found that no matter how many times I’ve listened to her, there is always something new to learn. Don’t skip anything if you don’t have to.

Listening to Hay, I often can’t help but smile when I hear her say, “See you on the other side of the tape.” Her guided meditation recordings were done between the 70s and the 90s when tape was what the world used to record everything. I myself was a big “tape person”.

Louise Hay answers some of the most personal, burning questions you have in her guided meditations. You’ll be surprised.

Michael Sealey. Not all who do guided meditation come from the deep forests or from beauteous Himalayan mountains like I used to think. That’s dragging you down to my moments of ignorance, you’re welcome. Sealey is a trained and certified hypnotherapist and is also an Australian actor.

If you just want a very calming voice to guide you, he has sleep relaxation, sleep hypnosis to cleanse destructive energy, and sleep meditation for clearing negative blockages, among others.

My favorite among his guided meditation is the chakra cleansing. I have done chakra cleansing with Filipino parapsychologist Jaime Licauco and it was one of the most interesting experiences of my life. If you just want to explore chakra cleansing, you can begin with this one.

Good health starts with Chakra Cleansing.

Jason Stephenson. He comes from an interesting place in his meditation practice. Before he became a meditation teacher, he spent a number of years downing drugs. It wasn’t until he was diagnosed with HIV in 2005 when he realized that it was time to heal, and that was when he found meditation. He can’t help but shake his head in disbelief when he thinks about what he subjected his body, mind and spirit to during those tumultuous years in his life. It is a place we find ourselves in sometimes even if drugs are not always in the equation.

Stephenson has guided meditation on detaching from overthinking, forgiveness, sleep hypnosis, releasing negative energies and deep positivity guide. Over the last 10 years, he has released hundreds of meditation guides, so you will find everything you need on his vast playlist.

My favorite from him is meditation to meet your spirit guides while sleeping.

If you have not experienced the most relaxing sleep in while, now is the time to get it back.

Helen Ryan. She is a clinical hypnotherapist and creator of the Channel Progressive Hypnosis on YouTube. I have used her guided meditation for relieving pain, particularly lower abdominal pain when it’s that pesky time of the month. Her soothing voice always helps the pain go away and puts me to sleep easily. Perhaps it’s the fact that she’s also a woman that makes me feel comforted because only women understand what period pain is like.

Here’s my favorite from Channel Progressive Hypnosis.

Reduce painkiller popping with guided meditation. It works wonders for chronic pain.

Sandra Rolus. If there is one word I wish I paid attention to a long time ago, it would be Ho’opono Pono. It is healing through forgiving, an ancient Hawaiian practice that has become widespread in the last few years. I would always encounter Ho’opono Pono, but for some reason — maybe it was difficult for me to read? — I’d ignore it. It’s one of the bad decisions I’ve made in the past. Imagine ignoring a very important word, a technique even, just because I could not pronounce the word?

I recently found myself finally trying the Ho’opono Pono guided meditation by Sandra Rolus last year. I was amazed at how powerful it is even in its simplicity. Rolus guides you with just four phrases. These are I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you.

I directed this meditation towards my mother and myself, having lived through a difficult relationship with her all my life. All my dis-ease have come from that relationship and not being able to forgive. As soon as I learned to truly forgive, it has helped comfort me through physical pain. Forgiveness is the medicine, sometimes the only one, that we need in this life.

Rolus is an Arizona-based timeline trauma release facilitator. Experience her guided meditation using the Ho’opono Pono technique here.

Can’t say it enough — forgive, forgive, forgive yourself and others.

Is Guided Meditation Safe?

I see this question get asked a lot. I personally don’t see how or why guided meditation can bring anyone harm. As long as you choose a guide that is trained and experienced in this field, then you have nothing to worry about. The word hypnosis can be intimidating for those who have never tried guided meditation before, but don’t let it stop you from exploring what could be a very important aspect in your life. No, you will not get into paralysis, and no, you will not lose control over your mind and body.

It doesn’t matter where you are in your meditation practice now, you have to remember to keep going. And yes, even if it feels frustrating sometimes.

Cure for Mondays, Asia’s Top Women’s Blog, Philippine Homeschool Blog, Best Mommy Tips, Family Issues Website, Best Guided Meditation on YouTube, Guided Meditation, Sleep Hypnosis, Forgiveness, Meditation for Insomnia, Meditation for Pain Relief, Natural Pain Relief

My 20 for 2020: Awesome Things that Kept Me Going

I wanted to spare you — and myself — mostly, from this cringey excuse for a title, but I don’t think there’s any other way around it. Besides, it’s cute as it is cringey, and after 2020, what else is there that we can’t take anyway?

We cringed, we cried a little, we bawled our eyes out. We were tested as human beings, big time.

Frances Beldia

Covid-19 left friends losing family members and family losing friends. There was a time when I refused to look at my Facebook feed because it almost resembled an obituary.

Covid-19 also caused the collapse of industries with small-to-medium companies taking the brunt of adverse global and local economic situations. People lost jobs, with me included in the statistics, unfortunately.

It wasn’t only the virus that turned our world upside down. There were massive forest fires, earthquakes, typhoons and other kinds of illnesses that were easily ignored because of the thick, mucky mud that was Covid. Some people rose above the occasion, some sank, and some were left unfazed.

Where some people found themselves at their weakest, some surprised themselves by discovering a strength from within them that they didn’t know even existed.

Frances Beldia

This is where I want to begin my list. The list, by the way, is not ranked in a particular way.

20 Things I’m Thankful in 2020

  1. Discovering the strength and resilience I never acknowledged I had. The year 2020 was not so much about going against the negative forces happening around me because there really was nothing I could do about it. There were times when I got scared and got overwhelmed by feelings of uncertainty, regret (not doing some things at a time when I easily could), frustration (I abhor wearing masks), and a general sense of fear that things may never be the same again. But underneath all these, I was also experiencing a deep sense of calmness and steadiness that anchored me through one maskful year. You see, our challenge started in January 2020 when Mount Taal (one of the most active volcanoes in the Philippines) erupted and we experienced the horrendous ash fall. Our doors and windows had to be shut tight for two months. We could not go out without masks on, and the whole thing was literally suffocating. By March, we had to continue wearing masks for a totally different reason — Covid-19. I think the one thing that helped me get through was consciously living one day at a time.
  2. Family–my first favorite word. Having my family beside me at a difficult time has given me more reasons to squish them all together, sniff them, see them smile, hear them get mad and vent out their own frustrations, have small fights with them, be able to help them, laugh with them, just lie around and do nothing with them. Being with my family is like living in my own sitcom.
  3. Laughter. If there is one thing I don’t ever want to lose, it’s the capacity to laugh at myself, laugh at my — and secretly at others’ — innocent mistakes (because as humans we are allowed to be mean like that sometimes). A good sense of humor is the best antidote to any illness. I didn’t make that up. Evidence-based studies say so.
  4. The power of the internet. Both my sisters live in places far, far away. The snail mail won’t cut it at a time like this. My closest friends are also in different parts of the world and across the country, and being able to talk to them real time adds one big point to the happy list.
  5. The not so powerful internet — because we need to slow down and cut back on our screen time what with fearmongering and fake news reigning in all the time, and not to mention the anger, anxiety and feigned intelligence that are all enough to give us an ugly hangover we don’t deserve.
  6. Gratitude — my second favorite word. It leads the way to everything that is good and beautiful in my every day especially if I begin my morning with a ‘thank you!’.
  7. The ability to be creative with food. Stuck at home with limited access to fresh food and new batches of weekly groceries, my husband and I depended on our creativity to whip up food that’s not boring and bland.
  8. A safe night market a few steps away from us. We award ourselves ‘lazy days’ and it’s great that we have a reliable go-to night market with lots of options for food that are cheap but sumptuous. Travelers and bikers traversing the Tagaytay-Batangas route (or wherever these ubiquitous riders are coming from) may agree because we see a lot of them dropping by on weekends to enjoy the food.
  9. Meditation. I honestly don’t know how to survive without my daily morning ang night meditations. It works powerfully well that it’s even addictive.
  10. Being a new pet owner. I thought my little, hyperactive and amazingly intelligent Pomeranian was going to benefit from me being his human carer. Turns out, I’m benefitting so much more from him.
  11. Kind, generous, and hardworking children who also happen to have a great sense of humor. All throughout 2020, I have seen so many posts from parents complaining, albeit subtly, about how getting stuck at home has changed their kids in one way or another. Thankfully, ours are riding through difficult times gracefully. They also religiously do their daily household chores without being told to, find humor in so many things and are thriving really well even under the new normal.
  12. My husband’s job and his hard work and dedication to it. We suddenly became a one-income household when the pandemic started. It has allowed us to continue living a simple yet comfortable life that’s also free of worries. At a time like this, it’s so much to be thankful for.
  13. Airbnb named us Super Host for the second time. We sadly had to close down our daily home rentals because of… what else… Covid! It was such a surprise to get an e-mail from Airbnb that we made it as Super Host for 2020. The first time was in 2013 when we hosted in Boracay for a year. I am sincerely thankful for the hundreds of guests who left us 5-star reviews that led us to getting this much-coveted recognition for hosts.
  14. Music. Sometimes I get enlightenment from spiritual gurus and experiences. Sometimes I also get it from Christopher Cross.
  15. Great-paying side hustles. Being offered a freelance job by a former boss means not only gaining the ability to earn good money on my own free time, but also getting the same trust and confidence he gave me under his employment in the past. This is not the first time a past employer has offered me a freelance job. There is wisdom in the words “never burn bridges”. Also, 2020 gave back my faith in freelancing. There are legitimate freelance jobs that pay more than the usual measly $5 to $10 dollars an hour rate out there. I promise.
  16. Good health. Aside from the sniffles usually caused by allergies, none of us got sick throughout the year.
  17. Living a small-town life. There is always joy in living a quiet, rural life. This set-up will not be permanent for us, but while we’re here we are tremendously enjoying fresh and good food, fresher air and well-meaning neighbors who even offered to do our grocery runs for us, clean up the front of our house and do other chores we couldn’t do while on quarantine. We moved here in July — at the height of the lockdowns — and the town gladly adhered to strict quarantine rules for newcomers like us, thus the home quarantine.
  18. Access to electricity and clean water. A lot of people take them for granted sometimes. Not me. There isn’t a day when I don’t say ‘thank you’ for both of these. People who know me well know that running water is the one thing I consider real wealth!
  19. Movie streaming. In short, Netflix. Something is telling me I don’t need to explain this.
  20. Endless opportunities for learning. Having “nothing to do” while on lockdown was a myth. Life in slow motion opened the chance for me to learn new things. I gorged on books that have been on our shelves for many years, learned lessons online, looked at things around me and gained better insight and appreciation for them.

There are so many things I am thankful for, but let 20 be my magic number for now. I am praying that 2021 will be a much better year for all of us.

What’s the biggest thing you’re thankful for in 2020? Would love to hear them!

Cure for Mondays, Asia’s Top Women’s Blog, Philippine Homeschool Blog, Best Mommy Tips, Family Issues Website, Covid-19 2020, Surviving 2020, Things I’m Thankful For

Can You Choose Your Child’s Friends? Or Should You Even?

It’s is not the first time I’ve mulled over being involved in the decisions our children make, especially with the people they choose to become friends with. Our children are growing up fast, and once again I’m back jumping through these little humps thinking if, as parents, we should have a “friends checklist” to discuss with our kids.

I have actually asked the question I myself dread: how do I teach my child to choose friends without going overboard?

We all had good and bad friends when we were young, and when I look back to that journey of diverse friendships I am thankful for the experience of meeting all kinds of people. I am grateful for the opportunity of learning how friendships unfold.

If there’s one thing I consider to be true, it’s the fact that our friends and the foundation of our relationship with these people have a lot to do with how we treat people and how we let people treat us later on in life.

Frances Beldia

Has anyone influenced you in choosing your children’s friends — if you have ever gotten to this point at all?

Can You Choose Your Child’s Friends?

When I was  in fourth grade, I briefly became friends with a girl named Lena. How we met escapes me now, but she must have been the daughter of one of the housekeepers at my uncle’s hostel. My uncle and his family weren’t running the hostel anymore and was only using a small portion of it as their home. The four-storey structure was a haven for the Nancy Drew wannabe in me. All the empty rooms and dark hallways gave life to the stories I always carried with me inside my head. 

Lena and I would meet every Friday at the top floor of the hostel and sit at the landing that had quite a view of the tiny city. I was doing an “adventure” in the hostel one time when I saw Lena there. She didn’t say anything when she handed me what looked like a cone made out of newsprint. The cone, I found out soon, was filled with polvoron (powdered candy). She went to a public school and the students were each given polvoron before the end of the week. It was part of some sort of a government feeding program.

After she explained how it was supposed to be eaten {raise your head, pour the contents into your mouth and try not to choke}, she looked away and gazed at the view in front of us. There was something about Lena. She was a quiet person and she never talked about her family. She also didn’t talk about friends. Lena was what one would consider a lonely person. She only talked about school of all things, and, surprisingly, it was one of the rare times when the topic of school didn’t trigger a pre-crisis crisis within me. 

I went to a private school and Lena often expressed curiosity about what people there were like. She was particularly curious about nuns since she had never met one, while I was surrounded by a many of them every single day at school. 

My friendship with Lena only lasted for a few weeks. When my mother found out that I was friends with this girl who went to public school and whose parents “may be one of the caretakers”, she became wary and strongly disapproved of the friendship.

I wasn’t too happy with that decision, but following her was the only way to assure peace at home that time. She was my mother after all, and she just wanted what she thought was good for me.  In hindsight, maybe she should have explained more about the importance of choosing good friends.

We all just want what’s best for our kids, that’s why we focus on teaching the importance of choosing good friends–and honestly — sometimes to a fault.

Importance of Choosing Good Friends

I was raised in a small town where people had quite a standard for everything: only expensive schools produced worthy graduates; poor people were most likely dishonest; kids who are not the kids of your parents’ friends were not the right kind of people for you, etc, etc. 

It was something that I wasn’t very happy about growing up, and yet, like a deadly disease, I unconsciously carried some of those invisible, dreaded yardsticks. I finally knocked my own head off later on. This was when I had my first kid and wanted to be the kind of parent who did not judge people, like or dislike them on the basis of what kind of house they had, or what their parents’ jobs were.

I became aware that kids copy what their parents do, and you can’t teach kids anything that you’re not capable of doing {or becoming} yourself. That includes kindness, respectfulness and obedience. 

Frances Beldia

All throughout my life, I’ve met people — all kinds of people with so may different stories to tell. It’s beautiful and it happened because I escaped from the norms of a culture that was so limiting. I learned that people could be good no matter to which financial status they belonged

The Friends Checklist. How Do I Teach My Child to Choose Friends?

Should there be one? Yes and no.

There are a few things we might want to discuss with our kids when it comes to friends. If you want to know what our checklist looks like, it’s this simple.

  • Respect is needed at all times; no sweating over pointless things like politics, religion and noontime shows. 
  • Mood swings are not welcome at our home. We like positive energy, and mood swings may be an indication of deeper troubles at home, especially for kids. Sort them out first. That’s one of the importance of choosing good friends.
  • Bad words are uncool, so leave them outside our door.
  • Good Manners and Right Conduct (remember GMRC?) are still on top of our list no matter how much the rest of the world has forgotten about them.
  • Just be a friend and be sincere. There exists no competition around here. Our home is not a place for blind auditions.

Children are their own persons and have their own personalities. Truth is, we can’t choose their friends for them while standing on our chariots and pointing at who could be their friends and who should be removed from the lot. I certainly don’t own a chariot. I usually walk holding hands with my little one.

The most that we could do is to provide them with a home brimming with love and treat them the way we want other people to treat them. This is how they know how they are valued and will, in return, value other people.

Children also learn from example, so if they grow up in an environment where there is love, respect, openness and acceptance, it will be such an effort for them to stray and end up with the wrong people. 

Let’s share stories. If you have anything to share about the importance of choosing good friends, do e-mail me at cure4mondays@gmail.com. 

If there’s one thing I consider to be true, it’s the fact that our friends and the foundation of our relationship with these people have a lot to do with how we treat people and how we let people treat us later on in life.

Cure for Mondays, Asia’s Top Women’s Blog, Philippine Homeschool Blog, Best Mommy Tips, Family Issues Website, Importance of Choosing Friends, Can You Choose Your Child’s Friends?, How Do i Teach My Child to Choose Friends?

Social Media Affects Mental Health: Helping Yourself Through a Difficult Time

Since news of the pandemic broke out in December 2019, panic quickly gushed like an avalanche into our newsfeeds. Social media and mental health are not coffee and cream, but can we help ourselves from dipping into social media even if it means compromising our mental health?

We’re dealing with humans — the very beings in charge of making this world an exciting place to thrive in. Our search for facts sometimes leads us to the realization that we may have taken some things for granted all along.

Case in point: the toilet paper. People rioted over it in supermarkets during the first two months of the pandemic.

Like maybe most of you, I have also mulled over the question of how the spreading of a virus, with shortness of breath, fever and cough for some of the symptoms, led to the “shortage of toilet paper” in some parts of the world. We humans are a mysterious lot.

For now, let’s park that toilet paper somewhere around here because after four long months, it still is a ludicrously developing story in other parts of the globe. I just checked and people are still fighting.

Meanwhile, the polarized views on mask wearing in public have escorted people to their graves. And you ask, is a mask worth dying for?

These screaming news, whether you care to admit or not, get into your subconscious and leave you perturbed. And anxious. Sometimes you blame it on your constant trip to the coffee station without ever realizing it’s your constant consumption of news from social media that’s getting you depressed.

Learn how to slow down. Read that important life lesson here.

Social Media: Where Fact, Fiction and Fake Mingle Like Singles

There is nothing that you can do to control what goes on in social media. As soon as you log on — which I hope is not first thing in the morning — you begin your extreme emotional and psychological ride.

One minute you are scared because you hear or read about the deaths caused by COVID-19, then you bounce back to a happy place when your feed shows you photos of your adorable nephews and nieces (yes, yes, and of cats and dogs), and then you uncontrollably switch to envy mode when you see your friends’ (throwback) vacation photos. Sometimes it hits you like a baseball out of nowhere.

Inspirational memes eventually catapult you to an emotional plateau — a soft spot where you swiftly decide whether to start rolling to the better side of the bed or not.

You scroll up a bit more and there it is — words that make fear inside you swell: lockdown, confinement, curfew, quarantine. Then things got more baffling with the Extended Community Quarantine (ECQ) and so many other terms. There’s just no way to keep up.

People are angry, confused and afraid. And now, so are you.

It’s easier said than done, but sit still and pull back a little. There’s a reason why the unfollow button exists. Choose which people and what goes into your feed wisely.

Don’t Let Social Media Force-feed You with Depression

It’s all a matter of choice. Do your research and look for reliable sources for news, features and stories and stick to them. Choose trustworthy, unbiased local media outlets for national and local news. This could be tricky, but it will benefit you.

People are free to throw their opinions out there and this freedom has been abused in social media platforms. If one-sided, limited opinions are not what you want, scroll through your social media feed like you’re playing The Wheel of Fortune, or simply hide posts from people who contribute to your anxiety, e.g. the medical/political/sport analyst with exploding diastolic and systolic measures. I personally avoid them like the virus.

I would have suggested quitting social media altogether, but then it’s a happening place where yoga instructors, art teachers, meditation practitioners, professional dancers, chefs and many others share their expertise, talents and skills for free.

There are also several courses online that are being offered for free. You don’t want to miss out on the chance to learn something new, or to continue learning from home. The operative word is “free”.

If you’re one of the millions who lost their jobs because of the pandemic, here are tips to help you get through these tough times.

Social media is not always a bad place. You just have to know where to look.

Choose Peace of Mind, and Do It Consciously

Silence is food for the soul. We live in noise and have come to accept that it’s okay. Noise has become our normal. It’s not only the deafening noise at the office, at home, at the streets. It’s also the noise in social media or the internet in general. You can turn off the audio, but you can’t turn off the inaudible angry, demeaning words that people haul at each other, unless you look away.

And of course, there is more showboating out there than you can handle.

Silence and its beauty is underrated. I can’t blame you. Most of us rarely have a quiet time to enjoy, that is why a 10-day Silent Meditation is still considered out of this world by most.

Silence — sometimes that’s all we need to hear ourselves better. However, it doesn’t happen by chance. You have to choose it.

To choose peace of mind means tuning out from social media as often as you can. Ask yourself, how often do you really need to hear from the world? Every day just might be too much.

But then again, FOMO. The Fear of Missing Out is another phenomenon that has become intertwined with our lives since social media came to invade us. Mental health experts say FOMO affects people’s self-esteem more than they know.

There is so much more to the world than social media. Begin by calling a friend today and getting in touch for real. We are designed for face-to-face interactions and social media is not a substitute for real life.

Woman holding up a paper with a smile to her face.
Social media is not a substitute for real life.

Don’t Let Social Media Engagement Enslave You

The number of ‘likes’ and comments you get feed your dopamine level, that is why you feel compelled to check for updates every few minutes after you post something. Dopamine is responsible for making us feel good, but like most anything we feed our bodies, we have to be careful about our source. Social media is a bad one.

During difficult times like where we are now with the pandemic, taking care of our mental health is just as important as taking care of our physical well-being.

If you think social media is contributing to your problems with mental health, now is the time to act.

Yes, stop waiting on the number of ‘likes’ to keep going up. It’s getting you nowhere.

Midnight Diner: Relearning 5 Life Lessons from Master

With all the noise strafing us from all sides of the world, a little hush could be quite refreshing. Netflix is a busy street and when I hauled myself into it during the quarantine period, I’d always end up flustered by all the choices. So, I spun the imaginary wheel and discovered Midnight Diner by chance.

I needed a break from my usual mix and (mis)match of British crime series, black comedies, sitcoms, psychological horrors and documentaries. Having no expectations whatsoever, I found myself slowly melting into melancholia — the good, nice, deep, warm and familiar kind.

Set in a rather typical Japanese izakaya, the Midnight Diner offers a totally different experience, a trap that will keep you wanting to sink deeper into the enthralling stories of the oft intertwined lives of the diners. It redefines binge watching because the stories are so well crafted you’d want to take them in slowly and savor every moment of it, like you would your cup of tea.

No, you can’t watch it all day even if you wanted to because you’d need to take breaks to contemplate between stories, and sometimes even between dialogues.

The Midnight Diner is run by Master, and all that we know about him is his name.

Every story begins with the Master opening his shop.

When people finish their day and hurry home, my day starts. My diner is open from midnight to seven in the morning. They call it Midnight Diner. Do I even have customers? More than you would expect.

5 Lessons I Relearned from Master in Midnight Diner for a Better Life

1. Never rush through life.

Master only has four items on his menu, but he would make anything that his customers would request for if he had the ingredients or if they’d bring them to him.

The first thing he asks is, “Are you in a hurry?”

At the diner, no one is ever in a hurry. You could come in hungry, but you’d have to wait for a freshly cooked meal, then you savor it like it’s the first time you’ve ever tasted it.

Oriental rice meal with vegetables and dragon fruit on the side
Every meal has a story. What’s yours?

It is a glaring comparison to what we normally do in life now. We breeze through the day and do everything in a hurry. People eat breakfast with one foot already out the door, spend less time with the people they love because work is always hovering, and even bring work to bed to beat a deadline. Everywhere you look there’s a traffic light going on.

We forget the value of slowing down. Ironically, the more we hurry to finish a kilometric to-do list, the more we lose valuable time. We don’t often realize it because it’s been part of the norm. We live in a “if you don’t hurry, you worry” mentality.

It won’t hurt to say, “No, I’m not in a hurry” once in every while and just enjoy life’s sweet time.

There is a reason why the term ‘mindfulness’ exists. It helps us hit the breaks so we can make those short stops and look into ourselves and assess our actions if they’re truly helping us reach our life goals.

2. Forgiveness is the key ingredient to a happy life.

People pick on our weaknesses because we let them, whether they’re aware of it or not. These people may not be physically present in our lives anymore, but we still afford them a good space inside our heads. These are the people who have done us wrong, but instead of letting go, we hang on to that feeling of hatred — which unfortunately hurts only us, not them.

Diners come to Meshiya with pockets full of both heartwrenching and funny stories, but some of my favorites would be the ones on forgiving. I realize that we are weighed down by experiences that no longer serve a purpose in our lives.

It’s easier said than done, but nothing else sets a person free than forgiving and letting go.

3. Everything in moderation.

Even if you are in the mood to get inebriated, Master will only serve you up to three drinks.

“This is a diner, not a bar,” he’d remind his customers.

Japanese people are generally known for their healthy diet. Their portion is a fourth of the size of what Filipinos normally eat during each meal. As a Filipino, there’s no escaping a lavish food culture where we eat until we’re too full to move, and we even talk about the next meal while we’re enjoying the current one.

I had to start making a conscious effort to eat until I’m about 80% full or what the Japanese call hara hachi bu. It has not only helped me maintain my ideal weight, it has also helped me gain control of everything else in my life. If you can control your food portions, then you can control everything else.

Automation and technological advances have pushed us to live excessively. We don’t need to leave the house to get everything we need and we don’t need. Shopping and dining in the comforts of our home have never been so convenient…and damaging.

The thing to keep in mind is, just because you can have something does not mean you have to. Living a minimalist life has proven to improve people’s mental state and overall well-being.

Sure, you can manage more than three drinks a night, but no, you don’t really need more than that.

Happiness is not defined by how much you have, but how you enjoy what you have.

4. You can’t overdose on kindness.

In life, no matter which crossroad we are at, there will always be people who will need us, as well as those we will need to get us through tough times. We may not realize it all the time, but there are challenges that we overcome with ease because families and friends are there to help us slide through.

If you have helped people, you know that the feeling is priceless. If you got help during your lowest point, it is proof that good souls exist and the world is not that all bad. So yes, gratitude counts. It’s scientifically proven to help with mental health, too.

5. Food is a universal language.

If there is one thing that binds us together beyond color, language, smell, race and origin, it’s food. Even during this time of pandemic, people disagree about so many things in so many levels, but never about food.

Food heals, food helps build relationships, food brings people to all sides of the world. Food sometimes even stops conflicts in its tracks.

Food is a language we all speak no matter at what point in our lives we’re in.

Is the Midnight Diner Real?

The set looks as real as it could be, but the diner is set in a studio.

A documentary called Japanology will take you through alleyways in parts of Japan frequented by those who love a more traditional approach to dining. I’ve had the impression that Japanese people mostly keep to themselves, but the documentary revealed otherwise when interviewees said they frequent diners similar to the Midnight Diner because it’s where they strike up random conversations with strangers. Well, apart from the fact, they say that these obscure diners have the best varieties of drinks and food. And, apparently, of people.

5 Ways to Help You Heal from a Difficult Mother-Daughter Relationship

Happy Mother’s Day to all the women reading this — whether you’re a mother or just about to become one.

While everyone is celebrating Mother’s Day today, there are those who were or are not blessed with a loving relationship with their mothers. If you’re one of them, I’m sending you love and good energy. If there is something that you need to know right now, it’s the fact that you are not alone. It may be odd talking about it on Mother’s Day, but it is on days like this (yes, when everyone is raising wine glasses to cheer their moms) that makes it a tad more difficult for some of us to think about our own mother-daughter relationships. Or the absence of it.

Yes, I know.

“Thank you for being the best mommy in the world!” My daughter hugged me while telling me this yesterday. I get my daily dose of this almost every day. I live and breathe I love yous and thank yous from my children. It still makes me wonder what I’ve done to deserve this. It is, without a doubt, too much credit for the aglio oglios I make for them.

I would have said the exact same words to my mother had there been a relationship that existed between us. Unfortunately for me, and I imagine for her, too, that there just was none. I will spare you the details, but I’ll tell you this much for perspective. Growing up, my mother was always distant and cold. And scary. It was that side of her that other people never would see because no matter how “close” she seemed to be to some people, they didn’t live in our house. No one sees what happens beyond walls.

Those cautious smiles that were few and far between were not meant for me.

Today, she’s the same. It took more than 40 years of  practice for me to finally get to this point of acceptance — that no, there will still be no hugs, no I love yous, no apologies, no thank yous. There will never be “you are worth my time”. Ever.

I grew up believing that for as long as your mother puts food on the table and gets the household chores done (either by her or the househelps), you have no reason to complain. I never did, until the years rolled by and I felt like I was missing out on something.

For most of my teenage and adult life, I had an incessant feeling of loss, of emptiness, of spaces within me that could neither be filled with the presence of friends nor alcohol. It was an incurable, invisible gash.

Then a cure came finally. Miraculously, I should say. It came in a small package called motherhood.

They say your relationship with your mother will define the kind of relationship you have with your children. That is why I live to defy that statement.

Here are 5 Ways to Help You Heal from Your Difficult Realtionship with Your Mother

1. Accept that your journey is different from others’.

One of the most difficult things I had to deal with growing up was envy. It was hard to look at other mothers hugging their children or to hear them asking how their kids’ day was without feeling that lump in my throat. I wanted to be asked, too. It was a long, winding journey for me to finally accept that the path I was treading was different.

I hoped and prayed for change, and, when I knew that it would never come, I tried so very hard to change my perspective. It was a long, hard road. I faked it until I made it. At the end of it all, I began to see the beauty of it all. My friends and relatives who have a beautiful relationship with their mothers are happy, successful and strong. How could I not be happy for them?

I realized that it’s not a one-way road. If I could not be at the recieving end of affection, nothing was stopping me from giving it. Others have their own journey, and I have mine.

I got myself busy paving my own road that any mother and daughter who passed by began lighting up my way until I have forgotten how envy felt.

2. Let go of the shame and blame game.

It is not your fault and it was not your choice. Everyone is raving about their mothers in social media while your own brushes you off in the hallway and eats dinners with you in silence. You can’t talk about how your mother is when people ask you because you simply have been coldly co-existing and not really sharing a life together for decades now.

Tell your story as it is. That is the only way to free yourself. If your mother can’t fix what’s broken in her, so can’t you. She has faults that should no longer matter now because no amount of force can help you change the choices she had made for herself.

3. Give motherhood a new definition.

A daughter will always seek the attention of her mother up to a certain point in her life. If you were not granted this as a young person, it’s time to move your focus to other beautiful relationships around you. Open up to friendships that will help you grow. Seek the guidance of other women in your family.

Despite my circumstances, I am grateful for having a sister who is six years my senior. She is kind, caring and loving. She has always been there for me. We did not only share the same experiences, she also enveloped me with love that protected me from irreversible damage. She has always been my guiding light and her selflessness has molded me to be the mother that I am right now.

4. Forgive, but don’t expect reconciliation.

The mistake I kept making was expecting a reconciliation or seeing a change in our relationship. I believed that’s the natural course of things, but whenever the verbal and psychological abuse would happen again, I knew I had to park the idea of reconciliation somewhere. Permanently.

Among so many things, forgiveness is probably the most challenging process. First, you have to forgive yourself before you can forgive her. I know it’s counterintuitive to forgive yourself when you are the victim, but being human, you are not infallible. To forgive, you have to be in that loving place within you.

Forgive and let go. This will not happen overnight, but the sooner you get into the process, the earlier things will get better for you.

5. Create your shield.

It would have been impossible to do this when you were still living in your parents’ house. As an adult, you are now free from the walls that kept you from expressing your innermost feelings. The physical freedom alone will help you protect yourself from any more abuses.

I can imagine (and I know) how challenging it is if your mother is under your care and is living with you and your family.

Remember that you can always close your boarders to toxicity. It is your home now, run it the way you want to. Fill it with love, so much love to cleanse away negative vibes. You are no longer that young person who can’t leave your room out of fear.

Honor the fact that she is your mother, but no longer subject yourself to her opinion. Fulfill financial obligations, but don’t let her make decisions for you, especially when she has refused to be part of your life growing up. Consider the silence between you and her a blessing.

Having a difficult mother is like being on a ship with the person who wants to sink the boat. However, we are all given choices in this life. If you can’t convince your mother to dock the boat so you can swim to shore on your own, jump ship. There will be an island somewhere or a passing boat. I know so because I’ve gotten this far alive and well, and with children who remind me every day that they’re glad I did it.

Le Petite Prince and the Disadvantages of Being a Grown Up in the Modern World

Being a grown-up is a boring job. It is a job to begin with — a big one where people expect you to do big things like earn money and have “important” things like houses, and cars, and all those expensive stuff that have nothing to do with being happy. Remember Le Petite Prince?

We all have times when we tell our kids to never grow up because they’re so adorable and we don’t want them to grow into larger human beings bedeviled by worldly problems.

I foolishly once begged my son a long time ago to never grow up, to which he politely said “yes”, only to shoot up to a five-foot-nine 14-year-old anyway. I’m doing the same to our daughter now. Grown ups never learn, I know.

Besides being adorable, we also don’t want our kids to grow up too soon because childhood is a happy place that you can’t go back to. Time machines have yet to prove they work.

When you get to an age when people earnestly begin to explain to you that magic isn’t real and unicorns don’t exist, that’s when life starts to get boring, and then being happy becomes a job.

Adulting for Dummies: Who Else Needs to Know a Thing or Two About Being Happy?

A few days ago, we sat around the dinner table and started recalling our life as kids. So much positive energy bounced around the room and there was just so much joy in sharing stories about the kind of games we played {the ones that young people know nothing about because we didn’t press buttons to play}. We played funny pranks on people {house helps were favorite victims, so it seemed} and recalled all the mischievous deeds we enjoyed as kids.

It was the call of the dirty dishes that brought us back to reality, and that is what makes adulthood not so fun sometimes. You need to have time for everything, yet not really have enough time for…well, everything.

Frances Beldia

I don’t wish to go back in time although I may sound like it sometimes. The tunnels that lead us back to happier times in our lives are called childhood memories, and they certainly help when we need to remember that life isn’t entirely a long foreboding journey. Oh well, we do need an adulting for dummies guide from time to time, but it can’t be so bad.

We are better versions of ourselves now, but the younger us weren’t so bad either. We were just more genuinely joyous. And again, being happy wasn’t something you had to think about. The world looked so much brighter and had more free-spirited people in it.

For our homeschool film-showing last Tuesday, we watched Mark Osborne’s take on The Little Prince, a reinvention of  Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s book of the same title published in 1943. We watched the charming 1974 fantasy-musical The Little Prince last year. This is why Attika, who couldn’t read that time yet, knew Le Petite Prince so well.

My Re-acquaintance with Le Petite Prince Made Me Realize Why Adulthood Isn’t Always Fun

Inescapable zombie pre-programming. On the average, a person spends 16 years getting himself “educated” so he could, later in life, spend eight to nine hours a day in a job he hates. He drags himself to work like clockwork five, maybe seven, days a week. He complains about it, but does it anyway.

Being happy is just another concept. Everyone is sure they’ve heard the word “happy” somewhere from someone but can’t quite put a finger on it.

Question: What makes you happy?

*Crickets…crickets*  Does anyone have a copy of Adulting for Dummies?

Vacations don’t come for free anymore. One has to work like a horse to go on a decent vacation. Don’t you miss the times when everyone enthusiastically volunteered to pay for your travels? I certainly do.

Daydreaming equates to being lazy. When you’re young it’s synonymous to the word imagination, and imagination is good. It was what summers and afternoons and dawns were for me. When you’re an adult you have to do something, or at least pretend to do something, while daydreaming, so no one accuses you of being lazy. Or crazy. They even have a word for that. It’s called multitasking.

Meal planning never ends. “What do you want for breakfast, lunch, dinner?” Repeat twenty times, and if you get lucky you will get an answer that’s not “anything”, then repeat 365 times. Life was easier when I was from the “anything” end.

The must-haves list is a very long one. Most adults’ head-to-toe list of must-haves is kilometric. I never thought I would be told I’d need ten different things for my face alone. Not ever.

Nap times used to be a daily requirement. In an adult’s life it is a million-dollar privilege.

Even if I said all that, being a grown-up isn’t all that bad. Being able to think about what life was like and how to make it better from there is a gift.

I believe everything that happens to us is a result of the choices that we’ve made.

Frances Beldia

The one thing that’s great about being an adult is having a choice. So you can’t blame your imaginary friend anymore if your life turns out to be…a little bit less than what you hoped for.

Being a grown-up is a boring job. It is a job to begin with — a big one where people expect you to do big things like earn money and have “important” things like houses, and cars, and all those expensive stuff that have nothing to do with being happy.

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Needles, Not Candles, for My 44th Birthday

I turned 44 today, let’s get that out loud and clear. All (surprise) plans my family made had to be moved because our daughter has German measles (rubella). So the hush, hush plans the hubby made are not so hush, hush anymore because now he has to know when he could rebook the secret hideaway. For now, we can just enjoy the three lovely cakes hanging out in the fridge. After all, anyone who’s 40-something, who feels like she got stuck at 25, deserves a sugar high from time to time. My mother has already asked me many times why I’m still not eating my cakes. For one, I want to behave like a good patient since I just got out of my acupunture therapy session.

“Drink plenty of water. Many, many. It’s good for you,” my Korean acupuncturist sternly told me.

“And maybe eat lots of cake, too!” I muttered under my breath.

Acupunture, Spagyrics and Anthroposophic Medicine: My Newfound Health Defense

I am sure you have heard, or maybe have even tried, the alternative healing practice called acupuncture. Spagyrics, on the other hand, is something you have to dig in on if you want to understand it better. I admit I had to do my own digging months before I went to see my new doctor. According to Ancient Origins, “Spagyrics were old alchemical herbal preparations which required the alchemists to take raw plants, which had been identified as holding healing properties, and turn them it into more potent forms – effectively amplifying the plants’ curative effects.”

Both ancient practices were discovered to help balance the Chi (also Qi). And a well balanced Chi is what we all need to get that life force flowing well within us.

I have always wanted to try acupunture, but I also wanted to make sure that I’d be working with a trusted practitioner. My search and research went on for a long time. When it comes to our health, it pays to wait to find the right doctor. I have long parted from conventional doctors. I’m done with fastbreak check-ups with doctors who would barely look at you, ask what you’re feeling then scribble away on their prescription pad. I don’t particularly enjoy being told to pop chemicals. I’ve already done that most of my life growing up with asthma. Doctors could either look too bored or that patients have just become all too familiar and boring.

Oriental, as well as anthroposophic doctors, really spend their time with you, checking not only your symptoms, but your emotional, psycholigical and spiritual health as well. The balancing of the Chi can’t possibly happen in haste. It makes sense that these doctors spend time to get to know you better, so they can help you fix what’s causing trouble to your body.

Acupunture: Why It’s Worth the Prick

“Your first time?” Dr. Park asked me the first time I went to his clinic last week.

I nodded. He must have sensed I was a bit nervous because he showed me how it’s done on his arm. “Nothing to worry about,” he said. He pointed at both my huge tattoos, smiled, and asked how old they were. I think I got the message. How would an almost negligible pain from acupuncture compare to the buzzing, lasting pain of tattoos while you’re having it done?

I was more relaxed when I went today. I lay down on the clinic bed, stared at the white ceiling, thinking and thanking life for being good to me before I closed my eyes to meditate. I did not get to the age of 44 without cuts and burns, but I’m here now with that spark in my heart. I think it’s called happiness. A genuine one.

For weeks, I have been experiencing low energy, a foggy brain and an overall sense of weakness. Oh, that I hate. I am fine feeling anything else, but this? My cousin always asks me where I get my energy from and I don’t even notice my abundant energy unless people tell me or ask me about it. This feeling of very low to no energy was starting to bring me down emotionally. I initially thought being made redundant at work pounded on my emotions, but then introspection and meditation did not lead me to that.

Ever Had Birthday Blues? It Comes with Another Name

It was not until I visited my anthroposophic doctor last week that I learned I’m in the Purging Cycle of my life. It happens in the last 52 days before one’s birthday, and this is the time when things — that you won’t be very happy with — happen. Ever heard or experienced the birthday blues?

Dr. Brawner asked me to not do anything except to let go of things that don’t make me happy anymore. In short, it’s the best time to Marie Kondo my life.

In the therapy that followed the acupunture, Dr. Park told me that my hip joints are turned at the wrong angle and my right leg is shorter than my left. I would notice this every time I’d practice yoga, but would ignore it thinking it was okay. My feet are also always cold, and now I know it’s because I have poor circulation caused by all the “misalignments” in my body, should you call it that. During acupunture, he’d direct infrared lights on my feet to keep them warm. All these, since I’ve never been in an accident, were caused by my wrong strides when I walk, the wrong way I sit, and even the wrong way I breathe. At 44 years old, what do I know?

I wonder if some decisions I made in the past were based from my cold feet. Kidding aside, I’m looking forward to getting better — hips, legs correctly aligned and all, so I can claim my full energy back. Just two sessions and I’m “almost back to my old self,” according to our daughter. I need to go walking every day and make sure I don’t sit too long.

For now, that’s good enough. Cake, anyone?

So I’ve Been Made Redundant at Work. Here are 5 Things I’m Doing to Get Back on My Feet

Losing your job hits you hard in so many ways, and from so many directions you feel like a hurricane came directly at you out of nowhere. I, together with 16 others from our now partly defunct company, were recently made redundant. It obviously came as a shock despite hearing rumors about it weeks ahead. I was part of a small group that was called in for a meeting a few days before the big announcement was made and we were assured that there was no truth to the rumors of the company closing down. A short software training followed — to improve how we’d run day-to-day operations, and as we know now — to help us forget about things we’d heard and gather strength for what would really hit us. While it’s true that the company is not closing down and has kept a few key employees on board, it doesn’t change the fact that the company’s decision to let a majority of us go has tremendously changed the course of our lives. Much similar to the fate of talents trying their luck in a popular singing contest, those chairs didn’t turn for us and have left us hanging, thinking, why not? Why us?

Shit has hit the fan. We can cry a little, rant a lot, but as the lyrics of a song goes, “Time asks no questions it goes on without you, leaving you behind if you can’t stand the pace…” Like most of my colleagues, I’m also a parent who needs to provide for our kids. If I could put voices to the silence that came after the announcement, it would be cries of fathers and mothers asking, but what about our kids? Or the younger members of the group saying, what now? Reality isn’t always a pretty thing to deal with. The company expressed the anticipated apology, while I slipped off my seat convincing myself to get a grip. Literally.

5 Things I’m Doing After Losing My Job

1. Doing Nothing. It seems counterintuitive, I know. There is no use, however, in acting up on the panic, the disappointment, the fear that you feel after losing your job. I am allowing myself to take it all in, accept my current situation and clear my mind (meditation works wonders), so I can make plans and take action soon enough with a clean slate — or in other words, a head that’s not muddled with decisions made out of fear and anger. I find this to be a great time to just be quiet and understand that we’re not always in control of the things that happen around us. I also remind myself that the redundancy had nothing to do with my ability to do my job well, and that there is always a good opportunity elsewhere.

It’s time to grow. The universe may have a mean way of sending messages sometimes, but we won’t grow sans the challenges and by staying on the same spot. ‘Doing nothing’ also means I’m taking myself away mentally, emotionally and psychologically from the work environment that just released me and focusing on things I enjoy doing. And yes, binge watching on Netflix passes off as doing nothing.

If you’re doing the same, make sure you give yourself a deadline. Don’t allow yourself to do nothing for more than three days because there is a chance you will spiral down, and that clearly is not part of the plan.

2. Reviewing the Family’s Finances. It’s something that some of us do often, moms especially. I don’t particularly enjoy it, but I have to if I don’t want my household running amok. With one income source shut down, I’m checking if there are extra expenses in my book that need to be slashed down. I’m making sure that there are no forgotten or overdue bills. The last thing I want is a mountain of bills avalanching on me at a time of financial insecurity. We’re not huge spenders, so it’s helping that we’ve stuck to basics in the last few years. We also have no loans, so for me it’s a big win in my current situation.

The advice of financial experts is to set aside three months worth of your salary in case the unexpected happens. But with, again, the mountain of bills that come knocking on your door very often, school fees and other household expenses, it’s just not feasible sometimes. If you haven’t done this, know that it’s okay and that you’re not alone. Maybe it’s time to do an audit of your stuff at home and see what you can let go through an auction or a garage sale. Trust me, some of the things that are just collecting dust at your home have buyers just waiting for you to sell them. Creating pockets of income, no matter how small, is never a bad idea.

3. Considering Freelancing. I see it as a blessing that we now have numerous freelancing opportunities in the Philippines. It’s something that was not available to us many years ago. To earn, we had to be on a nine to five job…in an office. Being between jobs is not as scary as it was in the past. I’m checking online and I see several freelancing opportunities that I may jump into now that I’m still trying to decide whether to get back on a full-time job or go freelancing all the way. The point is, there are jobs that can help tie people over while searching for a new job. Also, don’t discredit the joys of freelancing or remote work. You get to spend more time at home with your family or any place you fancy. I have been doing remote work for eight years now, so I’m able to say this with certainty.

4. Updating My CV. It’s time to put a dot on my tenure with this company. I thought I’d stay for many years because I was very happy with my job, but the decision was really not for me to make. There isn’t much to change in my curriculum vitae and my LinkedIn account, but this is one of the things I like paying attention to. It’s feels symbolic even, of a new phase in my life.

There are some people who need help with their CVs and don’t take offense if you’re one of them. If you check online, there are people and companies that offer resume/CV writing services because quite frankly, it takes some skill to put together a CV. Don’t hesitate to approach family, friends or experts. Remember that your CV showcases your strengths and there’s no harm in getting as much help as you can.

5. Exploring and Learning New Skills. Working a regular job meant sacrificing the time for some things I enjoyed doing, and learning was one of them. Now is the best time for me to pick up where I left off. This means finally finishing the Modern Poetry course and the health courses I started embarking on a couple years ago.

This is not the best time to spend money, so don’t pay for courses and trainings just yet. Given the rich resources we have online (yes, this way I adore you, dear internet), all you need to do is look for free trainings and courses online. There is no excuse not to learn anymore. Learning is a choice, not a privilege.

Being made redundant at work is a bitter pill to swallow. But then again, you can only give yourself a short time to sulk because time flies. The thing to keep in mind is you just lost a job, not the world, and as you may have proven to yourself time and again, there’s always something better out there waiting for you.

Also, isn’t it a relief to say goodbye to Monday, even just for a bit?

Feel free to share your experiences. I’m sure a lot of people would want to hear from you.

Brighter and Happier Kids: The Power of Creative Play

Creative play is one of the most important facets of learning. It helps young learners develop a strong appreciation for learning while it prepares them for more complex lessons in the future. In learning, everything begins with love and appreciation, never with fear and intimidation. Creative play is a process that allows kids to use sensory experiences to discover things, develop math skills by playing with patterns and shapes, as well as encourage communication skills. Homeschooling gives kids an environment where they can freely explore and focus on their own interests. They hone their skills at their own pace and communicate their questions directly to their parents and other adults around them. Homeschooling and creative play are integrated, and this is why there is a huge success rate for homeschoolers and unschoolers around the world.

creative play using oli's boxship
Can’t wait to see them grow!

One of the challenges of homeschooling is putting together materials you need for creative play. Yes, it’s easy to go to the store and load up on art and other creative materials (I can do this all day!), but conceptualizing projects for creative play is a totally different story. There are many things to consider like age — so you can create age-appropriate activities, the safety and quality of materials, and making sure you never get near the shores of boredom. Creative play has to be a good mix of fun and learning. If it sounds like a lot of work, it is. However, it is one of the most fulfilling activities you can do at home with your young ones.

apron coloring
First, she makes her apron from Oli’s Boxship colorful.

Some of the exciting things we’ve done include making paper planes, boats, and all sorts of vehicles with imaginary engines; all kinds of fun and colorful jewelry; room designs; and we’ve also done fun science experiments like volcano eruptions (thanks to the very magical baking soda) and lava lamps. Attika loves making slimes and she has experimented on different kinds with colors, scents and whatnot. We have also planted seeds and herbs, of which some sadly didn’t survive — but hey, there’s also a lot of learning that goes into that experience, too.

And talking about growing things…

My daughter and I were recently talking about Christmas. We were thinking about the presents we wanted to give, and ones we secretly wanted to receive this year. A few days later,  we got through mail what we would consider our first and very early Christmas gift — the Farmer’s Garden from Oli’s Boxship!

An early Christmas gift from Oli! It’s one box that offers a lot of activities.

Meet Oli’s Boxship and Why This Box is Full of Wonders

oli's boxship materials, creative play project
Creative play using materials from Oli’s Boxship offers convenience to parents and teachers.

Oli’s Boxship is a one-of-its-kind subscription for creative play. Truth be told, parents don’t always have the energy to put together materials for creative play. There’s always that kilometric list of chores and things to do following us around. We have been homeschooling for many years now, and although the effort is so much lesser now that Attika is eight years old and has become more independent, I can’t help but recall the challenges we had when she was still very young. When I discovered Oli’s Boxship, I knew it would send a lot of parents cartwheeling. Oli’s Boxship has different themes like Galactic Galaxy, Animal Kingdom, Color My World and many more. Oli’s Boxship is delivered to your doorstep with your kid’s name on it. It’s like receiving a Christmas gift every month, only it’s from Oli, not Santa.

The one thing that I love about Oli’s Boxship is the convenience of not having to worry about what to do for the day if you were not able to prepare anything. You simply open the box and begin a new discovery. It is also a great way to move them away from gadgets and get them busy with things they can really learn from. Oli’s Boxship encourages interaction among family members and that means everyone is communicating and doing something together while having fun. I personally love the quality of the materials inside the box. Nothing in the entire package goes to waste. The Farmer’s Garden box, for instance, serves as a pretty planter holder for the alfalfa and radish sprouts that Attika got from Oli.

I love Oli’s Boxship because it’s fun to do! I also really like the part where I discover what’s in the box. Now, I’m just going to wait for my plants to grow and I can’t wait! ~ Attika

Now we wait for her new babies to grow.

Why Creative Play Makes Kids Happy and More Intelligent

Creative play benefits children in a lot of ways. Science has not shied away from admitting that there are cognitive advantages to letting kids explore. After all, exploration is a kind of investigation, and we know that it is the curious mind that benefits more from this world. As a mom, I love it that creative play strengthens the bond between the parents and their children. Singing together, reading to them, counting with them, positively interacting with them all point to kids who are spending no less than quality time with their parents.

Here are some of the benefits of creative play:

It fosters emotional strength.  Children love to express their emotions and providing a positive outlet for them makes them feel secure. Studies say that emotionally strong people come from families who have a loving, supportive environment at home where someone readily listens and interacts with then. This feeling of security will also lead the way for creative expression later on.

It helps develop math skills. Counting, reading and writing numbers, classifying, studying patterns and shapes all help in building foundational skills in Mathematics. Learning through play also significantly reduces the fear in numbers.

It develops communication skills. When children are presented with materials, they describe orally what they’re seeing and, in turn, their vocabulary is expanded. It impacts their language centers.

It hones motor skills. Activities such as cutting, drawing, folding and pasting refine motor skills in children. Art helps them practice their skills in hand control, which may be challenging for them at first.

It develops self-esteem. When children create something new they realize that they have the ability to create something unique that no one has thought of before. They are also given the opportunity to receive compliments.

When you give children a venue for fun and creative learning, you help them develop skills that they will need later on in their lives. You also move them away from the virtual world that we know is very detrimental to their cognitive development.

So why are kids indulged in creative play happier? It is because they get to spend time with people who are important to them. They explore new worlds in a safe environment. Art helps them express their feeling and thoughts, and this process of self-expression is essential to their growing up years and throughout their adult life.

When my daughter was about seven years old, she asked me one day what I did at work. I told her I worked at the college — that my job was to teach people how to draw. She stared back at me, incredulous, and said, “You mean they forget?” ~ Howard Ikemoto

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Using Media to Enhance Homeschool Curriculum

We are the only people we know who are not subscribed to a cable service, or who do not watch television. For some reason, people find that “strange” about us. When asked why, and believe me, we often get asked WHYYYY, Alex and I tell them that we don’t want our kids’ frontal lobes fried. Kidding aside, we don’t want our kids’ frontal lobes fried.

More than that, we don’t enjoy advertising companies telling our kids that it is perfectly fine to drink powdered juice with aspartame or that too much sugar and instant food are okay.

When you leave your kids to watch television it leaves you little control of the language, ideas and concepts that are presented to them.

Using Media to Enhance Homeschool Curriculum

This does not mean though that we are detached from media. As a matter of fact, we enjoy using media to enhance homeschool curriculum. We have quite an obsession with movies, science videos and short films. Alex dedicates a huge portion of his time reviewing films and videos so he has a database where we pull out our family-friendly movies that inspire and stimulate learning. You can’t blindly rely on films labeled ‘child-friendly’ as some of them have themes your child may not yet be ready for. Homeschooling gives you the opportunity to be mindful of the exposure of your kids to films, music, literary work and the like.

I am happy to partner with PureFlix and their Homeschool Curriculum Movie Resources where they find you help the right content to help you enhance your child’s education by using media to enhance homeschool curriculum. Find my tips below.

Photo courtesy of Pureflix

Benefits of Plants Inside the House

When we moved into our new home in September 2011, I got unbelievably busy with so many things. Attika just turned three-months-old; Cole was still attending regular school then; hubby had an important job to take care of, and I had an entire house to unpack. I wasn’t doing everything on my own but the term obsessive-compulsive exists for a reason.  I was carefully arranging and rearranging things (and sometimes repeating the entire routine when “something looked like it was in the wrong place”) to the amazement of my (superwoman) friend Christie who was visiting at that time.

I couldn’t get any luckier. I had a fairy godmother staying with us and showering my kids a lot of love. But it was me, really, who needed her more than anyone else. I needed her to be there to laugh with from the time we’d wake up in the morning until we’d fall asleep late at night. With her around, everything seemed funny. Now thinking about it, Christie’s the reason why I never had to suffer from postpartum blues.

Talk to the Plant!

So while all that love was being passed around in our household, our plants were out in the verandas suffering from brutal neglect by yours truly. Not that I intentionally did that but for weeks I completely forgot that besides my little one, there were others waiting for me to feed them, too. They all looked withered and their leaves were starting to fall out. Some of them were on the verge of dying, some looked weather-beaten, all of them looked thirsty and hungry, some of them looked…sad. I was panic-stricken when I saw what I’ve done (or haven’t done) for them. I promised them my White Dwarfs, Snow White, and all the living things we owned that I’d start feeding them regularly and that I’d talk to them more often than I should.

Another friend of mine, Anna, left me with two boxes of books before she left for Canada.

One of the treasures in that collection is Lynn and Joel Rapp’s “Mother Earth’s Hassle-Free Indoor Plant Book” published in 1973. I love the old book dearly because it was written for dummies like me who love plants but don’t know how to grow them. It’s so comprehensive and a fun read, too.

Here’s why you should become emotionally involved with your plants.

A plant will make you happy.

A plant will beautify your home.

A plant will freshen the air.

A plant will make a friend feel good.

A plant will never talk back to you.

A plant will never mess on your rugs.

A plant will love you if you water it.

A plant will give you something to talk about.

And best of all – you don’t have to walk a Begonia!

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Becoming a Working, Homeschooling Mom

I published this article in 2012, the year when we decided to go back to homeschooling. It’s been six years and people continue to ask what made us decide to homeschool. I’m very glad that over the years, more and more parents have also started homeschooling or are now considering to start homeschooling their children. One of the best gifts we can give our children is time — time with them and time to focus on things that they are interested in. They are important and we have to make them feel that. We want our children to grow up as intelligent, strong, healthy, conscientious, kind, loving and most of all, happy individuals. Homeschooling allows us to work on all of that every day and best of all, together.

I admit that the idea of homeschooling and becoming a stay-at-home mom scared me so much. I knew that there were a lot of benefits in bringing education home, but there was this nagging fear inside me because I knew that it would change everything in our lives. Everything! True enough, it did. And everything changed for the better. The fact that my son was so much happier and actually had time for things he was genuinely interested in when he was younger (like Greek mythology) was enough to prove that we made the best decision for us as a family. Our son also became healthier, more energetic, more thirsty for knowledge.

I’m sharing this again because a lot of moms e-mail me to express how much they want to homeschool, but are very scared to do so. If you’re one of them, please know that I truly understand all those questions that keep you awake at night: What if I can’t do it right? What if I lose my patience? What if my child/children refuse to listen to me? What if I don’t have enough energy for this?

I have been there, so I understand. What I did initially was to do in-depth research about homeschooling and discuss everything with my husband over and over again. He was very patient with me and never got tired of listening to me when I’d repeatedly tell him about all the doubts I had in the world. It would help a lot if you discussed all your concerns and goals with your partner so you could build a good foundation for your home school.

Cure for Mondays is an extension of my thoughts, an attempt to a creative form of expression, a platform for my experiences as a homeschooling mother, our experiences as a homeschooling family, learning experiences, sometimes random thoughts (or nothingness), food, recipes and healthy, natural options for our family.

Like my husband, I also do not get tired of answering questions and I encourage you to ask. You may e-mail me at cure4mondays@gmail.com.

The decision to go from working mom to SAHM was a bit scary to make, but there’s not a day when I’m not thankful I made the move. Just an update…now that the kids are a bit older, I once again dove into the publishing world and have been enjoying my editorial work tremendously. I’m doing it full time from home, so yes, I have the best of both worlds.

One of the things I consider a great blessing is getting featured in 9 Homeschooling Moms We Love by The Asian Parent. Light and Love to those who acknowledged our efforts!

Now here is the original post from 2012:

Today is Cole’s last day of classes. Today is also his last day in school. We were on our toes for weeks waiting for this day. The end of his days in school is the beginning of our journey into homeschooling. After four long years, my husband and I realized that we turned our backs on something that made it all wonderful for Cole, and for us as a family. We started homeschooling Cole when he was five years old, a time when others bring their kids to play schools. He learned how to read at the age of six, and he could do three of the basic operations in Math: addition, subtraction, and multiplication. If I remember it correctly we saved division for later when he turned seven.

Unlearning in School

When he was seven years old, we had to make what seemed to us then was a wise decision. We put him through school. Sometime in the middle of the school year in first grade, we began to feel that we might have made the wrong decision. For some reason, Cole began “unlearning” some of the things that he had known the months before he started school. All the fun in Math was suddenly gone and he was constantly confused. That was just the beginning of it all. It was also a time in my life when I went back to a career in publishing, then the corporate world, so putting him in school seemed like the right option for us. Every morning the parents go to work, and the son goes to school. It sounded right and attuned to the norm. Then it dragged on for four long years. In those four years, something was nagging my husband and me. Cole became disinterested in stuff that he used to really like and seemed to be always tired.

Communication is Key

One time when he was in third grade, I asked him what the problem was. My son discussed to us in detail what made school so uninteresting.

Some of the problems he mentioned included:

1. Too many people in the classroom (most schools in the Philippines, both public and private, have at least 40 students). The teacher hardly has time to check on individual student work and there was minimal student-teacher interaction.

2. Kids spoke bad words and answered their parents back in public.

3. Some teachers would get irritated when he’d ask questions.

4. A teacher in one of the schools he attended brought a curling iron and started fixing her hair in front of the class.

When he was in third grade, he asked if he could be homeschooled again. We said yes. However, we kind of pushed it a little bit more thinking that a reputable private school would solve the problem for us.

Cole was quite happy in that school during the first few months and Cole’s adviser even told us that he adjusted well and fast enough for a new student. But that feeling of happiness was short-lived, and we started feeling once again that something was not right. He would come home tired with loads of homework to do, and there would be lessons he’d be clueless about, but was forced to understand — all because the teacher had to breeze through some of them to make sure they’d be on time with the lesson plans. We respect teachers’ lesson plans; we just don’t think lessons plans do their job all the time.

Working Mom to SAHM

Whether to go back to homeschooling or not was initially my call. One of my fears was becoming a stay-at-home mom because I started working at the age of 18 and had tremendously enjoyed life being a working mother (even if I had slips in my choices of jobs along the way). My husband was patient and did not push me to make a decision right away. But the Universe has a way of answering questions and straightening out confusion. Our answer came in a small box called a pregnancy test. It was a miracle of miracles because I thought I’d never get pregnant again. Yet there it was, delivered straight from the heavens to our doorstep. The tiny seed growing in my tummy would later become Attika Xafiyya Ssian Sade. As soon as we confirmed through my OB-Gyne that indeed there was an earthling growing inside me, my husband put his feet down and said, “Welcome back, homeschooling!” And pure bliss hugged me.

So here we are, finally back home! I’m also delighted at the discovery that there are so many homeschooling parents in the Philippines now. The numbers significantly grew over the years and this means more and more kids are spending quality time at home and are getting a lot of love and learning from teacher parents who genuinely care for them.