Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Tips on New Widgets for Blogger blogs and Credits for the creators of these widgets

My topic this time is somewhat a departure from my usual blog entries. But I got two reasons why I wrote this blog: first is ... I've been asked a few times by some friends where I got them and how to put these items found on my sidebar; and second ... I've long wanted to express my gratitude to those who created these widgets. Until now, the language they use still fascinates me.

1. Creating your Guestbook

While browsing through different sites I found the Smart Guestbook site that taught me how to create a Guestbook. The image below is the result of hours of tinkering and playing around with the different tools found in this site. I'd suggest you click your mouse on the image to view it more clearly, in a larger format.

Maybe, if I were to do this again, it's gonna take me just a little bit more than an hour. It's quite easy and simple actually. I guess, the reason it took me so long to finish it when I did it the first time was ... I enjoyed experimenting on the color combinations and fonts and background images. And so I have to warn you if it's your first time to do this, stay cool and don't be afraid to make your own explorations, too.

2. New Widgets in Blogger

I "accidentally" discovered new widgets created for Blogger, courtesy of one blogger who wrote about it (am so sorry I couldn't recall who wrote it but I'd like to say thank you to the writer of that blog). Prior to this "discovery" I only saw 2 new widgets whenever I open the "Add a page element" in the Template window: the Slideshow and the Poll. (It's only now am I beginning to realize that "blogger" and "blogspot" are still two different things, tho they seem to be related ... but I don't know how).

You can try this yourself to see a different set of "new widgets" for Blogger.

First, you have to open your blogspot URL, then click here or type on the same box where you entered your site's URL. You can try it now and that should take you back to your Dashboard. I know it still looks the same but soon you will see the difference.

When you click 'Layout' in your Dashboard and after clicking 'Add a page element', you should see these additional new items in the pop-up window -- Google Gadgets, Subscription Links and Search Box, in addition to the 2 other new widgets I've mentioned earlier.

If you want to try them out, you can choose one and follow the instructions procedures in adding a new page element in your blog. I, myself, have installed the "Subsciption Links" and "Search Box" in this blogsite.

3. Creating a "Recent Comments" for your sidebar

For the past months, I've been looking for a widget to show recent comments from readers who come to visit my site. Here's one link that I strongly recommend for it's simplicity and easy-to-install procedure. Just click on this to get your "Recent Comments" widget from Blogger Templates.

That's all for now. I hope these few tips would be able to help you make those improvements to your blogsite.

Once again, I'd like to express my appreciation for the efforts and creativity of those who gave time to create these helpful widgets. For sure, I cannot do them myself. I'm just passing on what I learned from them.

Related Links:

In case you got some questions or something you may want to add on this entry, please post them either as comments below or you can leave a message in my Guestbook by clicking here.

Thanks a lot for visiting!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Zen amidst flurry of meetings and beating deadlines

Being caught inside the trap of stressful living is one of the things I have long given up that moment I decided to give up having a full-time job.

Recently, when I saw myself irritated and mad as hell over mundane things I realized I haven't fully given up my typical response to stress yet.

Looking back now I can't help but smile while remembering my anger upon seeing our cats' poop all over the litter box without enough granules to cover them. Oh this really stinks!!!

Or that moment I found out I left my ATM card at home while already in front of the ATM machine. I made a short stopover here while on my way to an important meeting as I didn't have enough cash to pay the cab driver to get me to the place for this meeting.

My 'all-four-seasons-in-one-day' mood swing is keeping me company again. Though I appreciate the adrenaline rush that goes with it, it also depletes my energy before I am even finished with my tasks for the day.

"I want to feel appreciative and positive," was my mantra yesterday, at least to maintain my energy level and maybe have enough supply of it during the meeting. Soon enough, I saw this mini-garden just beside the conference room of this soon-to-be-blessed new office of CODE-NGO. Slowly I went out through the sliding door (shown in the picture on the left), and took a few shots while waiting for the others to arrive.

Blue flowers always catch my attention wherever they may be, be it on a hillside or found hanging on a tree as shown in the picture below.

And how these leaves seem to be smiling as sunlight started to beam on them ...

While looking around, I saw this lone white flower so small and so dainty-looking ...

And big pebbles that show they haven't been threaded on much yet ...

Beautiful, isn't it? Or is it just my mood that's influencing my perception?

The pictures shown below were taken early this afternoon while walking in one of the side-streets perpendicular to Makati Avenue. I was greatly amazed to find this 'landscaped garden' on the side of Best Western Astor Hotel while all around it are the tall buildings that mark the city of Makati (as can be seen reflected on the glass wall). This garden is mounted 4-feet above the sidewalk that I had to stand on my toes to find a nice angle for these shots.

Oh by the way, you can click your mouse on the pictures to view them in a larger format.

It worked!!!

I felt a lot better ... and was able to go through the series of meetings the past 2 days without my 'topak' (bad mood) ... met new acquaintances ... and enjoyed the warm energy shared by participants in these events.

But most of all, it felt wonderful to be able to have my 'powerful nap' upon arriving home this afternoon.

I guess, even if we are
already so, so tired, we can always find something to appreciate in everything around us ... if we are only able to set our minds, our eyes, and all our other senses to it.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The surprise birthday gift

Today is Kim's birthday.

Yesterday after attending a conference, I thought of dropping by the mall to look for a nice gift for her. While still at the mall, I received a text message from Bam asking what time I'll be home for dinner. I immediately replied with the intention of sharing with her a "secret", my surprise gift for Kim, by texting her: "Sssh am still here at the mall. 2.3t mp3 1 gig."

Being a mom who is not quite aware of current market prices for these types of gadgets, I was also asking her, through this message, if this was the usual price for an MP3 player with a memory size of 1 gig.

To cut the story short, I bought the item even without getting the feedback I was hoping to receive from her so I can be home soon.

Upon arriving here at home, Bam couldn't stop laughing while relating to me about a funny incident that occurred while I was still out. She told me she had a hard time understanding my cryptic text message which she got while sitting there, with Kim right in front of her. And so she was kinda trying to decipher those words she couldn't understand while reading my text message aloud: es eych? .... 2.3t? ... mp3? ... 1 gig? What's this, she asked out loud. She thought to herself that I might have misspelled something in my message to her.

Then Kim suddenly spoke and revealed to her (to Bam) that she actually requested for an MP3 player as her birthday gift from me. And Kim added..."Mama is telling you to be quiet, ssssh daw, wag ka daw maingay (just keep it quiet) ... kaya lagot ka!!!" and started dancing with delight!

Monday, November 26, 2007

In search of a meaningful Christmas

I really enjoy the company of my two daughters while taking a walk around the block or going out for groceries or just simply 'walking around' without any clear destination in mind. Although we live in the same house, have meals together, watch movies together (which is becoming rare nowadays), moments like these still feel like hanging out with one's friends where you get to talk about things you don't normally discuss everyday.

Yesterday was no exception to this ritual.

While on our way to the mall, I suddenly asked my youngest daughter what would Christmas be like if there were no decorations, no Christmas lights flooding the streets, no loud announcements of sale in every store that we passed by.

"You mean," she asked, "if Christmas was not this commercialized?"
"Yes," I replied.
"Oh, it would be just like any ordinary day here in Manila," she answered matter-of-factly.

Then I found myself sharing with her how Christmas was like in my growing-up years. There were no malls. We didn't even bothered so much about what we were going to wear or what to buy for Christmas. But we also exchanged gifts with each other. Simple gifts actually.

We enjoyed our choir practices, singing carols for the Christmas eve. We mounted cultural presentations and production activities for these events. We had parties, too, which also served as reunion with high school classmates.

Thinking about Christmas spent during those years compared to how it is commonly celebrated nowadays ... made me feel a bit sad. I couldn't help thinking about other families who don't even have enough food to eat, and what Christmas feels like for them.

And so there we were, entering the glass-paneled and Christmas lights-flooded mall, while thinking of new ways on how we are going to spend Christmas ... definitely not the commercialized way it has become nowadays.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Yes, I got inflicted by Paralysis of Creativity!!!

Three days to go and it's gonna be one month since I started 'blogging'!

I have to remind myself about this because I've been running around to a standstill for the past 5 days. I've been hit by what I'd call a 'paralysis of creativity'. Ever heard of 'paralysis of analysis' or 'paralysis by analysis'? This is almost similar to that.

The symptoms were already showing as early as Thursday last week. But I tell you, it's not easy to recognize them when you are deeply involved and engrossed with what you are doing. Moreso if you think you are utilizing all your creative energies in it.

I started by following those different links, copied widgets for the sidebar, tried reading html's and javascript, and copied them as well. But I admit it now, this language is so strange and foreign to me, and I don't really understand them at all. Hence, I never knew when I was already committing mistakes while applying them.

After 2 - 3 days, all of my attempts only led to 'failure' and made me more confused than I was before. That was the time I decided to keep it cool, sit down, and just do nothing.

Nope, I am not blaming this on anybody at all. Truth is there were several insights and tips shared by other bloggers. I appreciate their efforts in doing this because they provided me with a map of what lies ahead, of what can possibly be done, and what can be developed along the way.

My big mistake was wanting to do them all at the same time. Blame it on my ignorance and excitement to try what others have accomplished before I came to this new world out here.

But rather than be sad about it, I was even thankful because this helped me realize that what I really wanted to do when I started 'blogging' is simply to explore and to enjoy sharing my thinking-aloud writings here.

I also found out I still like the original look of my blog. This sounds like deja vu for me. After exerting so much effort of changing the layout, still I find myself going back to the 'original' content and layout of this blog.... because I really appreciate it, the way it is.

To pacify my craving for change, "In time," I told myself, "changes and improvements to this blogsite may be necessary. By then, I hope I already know how to do it. And more importantly, I hope to be fully convinced why I need to make those changes in the first place."

So, what have I learned from all of these? Well, for one, I think it is helpful to follow this instruction: "Save your template before adding the following..." It is really very practical to do so and it's also a safety net that allows you to commit all the mistakes that you want and not be afraid to explore and continue to be creative.

Related entries:

1. Are you suffering from ... Paralysis of Analysis?
2. Paralysis by Analysis

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Communicating through music

”Ma, would you like some background music in your blog? I heard this music by Natasha Bedingfield and I think you're gonna like it.”

"I'm not sure if I can do that, Bam. Am still exploring things here."

"Just listen to it first, Ma."

Then she turned on the media player and played the song. When she heard me singing along but with my own improvised lyrics, she hastily showed me the lyrics so I'll get it right.

I immediately fell in love with the song.

I started remembering other instances when songs they play served as my barometer to their 'mood for the day' (oh that rhymes!). And this also became one of our means of communicating with each other. But before I get lost in my reverie, here's the first part of the song...

by Natasha Bedingfield

I am unwritten, can't read my mind, I'm undefined
I'm just beginning, the pen's in my hand, ending unplanned

Staring at the blank page before you
Open up the dirty window
Let the sun illuminate the words that you could not find

Reaching for something in the distance
So close you can almost taste it
Release your inhibitions
Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins
The rest is still unwritten Oh, oh, oh

I break tradition, sometimes my tries, are outside the lines
We've been conditioned to not make mistakes, but I can't live that way


Passion for writing and music are two of the things I share with my two daughters. Through the years, we were able to develop our respect for the different choices we take, especially when it comes to music.

I think music is one of those means of communication that we can use effectively to express what we want to communicate to others. But come to think of it, it can also be a means to influence our own emotions, too.

UPDATE, 26 December 2007: I have added a few links for readers who are interested on the topic "communicating through music". I hope you find them helpful. I intend to write future blogs on this topic, too. So stay posted.

Links related to the topic:

  1. Why teach music?
  2. The Power of Music in Therapy
  3. Organic Acoustic Music

Monday, November 5, 2007

An afternoon delight

B: "Ma, lagi talaga tayong tatlo napagkakamalang magbabarkada ... pero hindi naman bilang magkakapatid."

"Bakit nga kaya?"

K: "Kasi, ang magkakapatid ... laging nag-aaway!!!"

Wow! What more can I say to that?
These two girls just came back from shopping at the mall. Must have been an insightful afternoon for them to be out by themselves. Thank you for the insight, girls! I just wish I could let you go shopping everyday ...

Feels so good to hear them say this. It wasn't easy to take on different roles -- of being a friend, a sister, and a mom to them. And I'm gonna say it again: it was all worth it!!!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Blessings that life brings

Amidst the 'blues fever' that seem to cover my entire being, the cool breeze coming in through the windows and through the open doors... reminded me of my 'appreciation list'. When I scanned through my journal entries, here's what I saw scribbled on my notes:

1. Sky, my inaanak (goddaughter), coming over on my birthday.

I learned from Pinky that all the way from their house to our place, she has been singing Happy Birthday Ninang, Happy Birthday Ninang! But when they entered our door, all she said was -- "Birthday mo kasi, Ninang (because it's your birthday, Ninang!) ... birthday mo kasi!" -- while giving me a warm hug and showing me the cake they brought with them. And soon our house was filled with her shriek and laughter as we were blowing bubbles at each other's face. Ang sarap maging ninang talaga ni Sky!!!

2. Neil Gaiman's The Sandman collection ... here to stay with us, at least for a while

Yes! Pinky, my dear friend, lent us all 11 volumes of her The Sandman collection of this graphic novel (or novels) by one of my favorite writers, Neil Gaiman, together with his other novels -- Black Orchid and Creatures of the Night. Nagpiyesta na naman ang 2 kong anak. My two daughters just love Gaiman's books as much as I do. Too bad I can't start reading them yet. Got a deadline for this paper I've been working on these past few days. I know that once I start reading one volume, I won't be able to stop myself from reading the next.

3. Hearing Bam play her electric guitar the whole day today

The whole time last week, these guitars were just sleeping inside their hardcase.

I know it when my eldest daughter is super-depressed. She doesn't touch her guitar! Or rather, she 'forgets' to do her scales and play her guitar. Knowing how passionate she is about music, these scales and some bit of 'jamming' with her sister have become part of her daily ritual.

When I heard her playing with Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir" and later on singing other rock music ... I would say that these are moments when even the music of Korn or Linkin Park are sweet music to my ears that can lull me to sleep.

4. My entry to the world of Blogosphere.

I didn't know 'blogging' can be so much fun, so much so that I was able to write an entry on this. Please see my earlier post Addicted to writing ... getting addicted to blogging to see how delighted i have really been. It's really true what they say that you'll never know that you are missing 'something' in your life until you experience that 'something' yourself. Ano daw? Well, it only means that I never missed 'blogging' before. Only now.

5. Receiving comments and feedback from friends who came to visit this site

Outside the realm of my work, this is the first time I received such warm comments from friends who knew me before but may have never set eyes on things I wrote. I really love to reply to all your comments as soon as I receive them. Some of these comments are already great ideas on where to take my next step and next turn for future blog entries.

After reviewing these notes, I felt lighter and so full of gratitude. This 'list' really comes handy, especially when you feel as if everything's just topsy-turvy 'out there'.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

For Jan, wherever you may be ...

Yeah, I know Organization Development is really a complex topic to discuss. There are many layers that need to be uncovered, to be understood … I can understand what you have written here because I’ve been teaching OD for Ph. D. students before I came to this project. But you need to write this manual for a linear-thinking audience, for people who may not even have heard about OD before …

These words were running at the back of my mind as Criz was telling me the news about Jan.

That was my very first encounter with Jan Shepherd, as she gave me her feedback on the draft of the OD Manual I wrote for the Woman's Health and Safe Motherhood Program - Partnerships Component or WHSMP-PC. And that was my first attempt to write a manual for an organization I haven't worked with before.

I took her challenge seriously and rewrote the entire document. After she read the second draft, there were more comments that came but this time she expressed them from the perspective of the project's field personnel and women's organizations in the different project sites, the 'users' of this document.

That was my first lesson on communications and working with a client organization. It didn't take long for them to hire me again to work on another writing project, and another project, and another project. Soon I found myself working with Jan for the entire year of 2003, my very first year as a freelance consultant.

My relationship with Jan extended beyond the typical consultant-client type of relationship. She became my mentor on matters related to OD work and improving my writing skills, on 'managing' my relationship with my two teenage daughters in their growing up years, and pursuing my chosen career path.

Since then I've worked with various agencies and organizations. But I always find myself going back to those talks I had with Jan whenever I'm faced with a challenging project. Even without telling me with words, I always felt that trust and confidence she had on my ability to do anything once I put my heart into it.

When I checked my inbox early this morning, I was so glad to see a message from Jan. But when i read it, that was the only time I cried over the news Criz told me yesterday. This was a letter signed by Andrew (Jan's hubby), sent through Jan's email account / address, informing me that Jan passed away while enroute between Melbourne and Manila.

Faced with a similar challenge when you asked me to rewrite that OD manual, I want to ask you now, Jan, how do I express the impact you've made into my life?

I wish you could see my blog now for this is one of my efforts to extend myself beyond my comfort zone, as you have always reminded me. I just hope there is an internet connection where you are now.

So long, Jan.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Addicted to writing ... getting addicted to blogging

Must have been too excited to start blogging that it surprised me when my best-friend asked, "Why do you have two blogs in different locations?"

Before I was able to make a reply, Bam suddenly said,"Split personality kasi si Mama." (You see, my mom has a split personality.) Oh my, before you start believing her, I think I need to inform you now that they just love teasing me about my changing moods and the shift in my perspective that goes with it.

Going back to my friend's question ... I started blogging without any idea how many blogs i will be creating. But for sure, I had no intention to have as many blogs as the number of posts I publish. I just wanted to explore how things would look like if I create one with Friendster and another one with Blogger.

Along the way I enjoyed learning new things. I read a lot on how to start blogging ... until my head felt like a balloon on the brink of blowing up.

After several attempts, I finally congratulated myself after being able to do the basics of creating and changing the layout, creating a new post and editing earlier drafts, creating a guestbook (don't know if am gonna need this at this early stage), finding a means to know if readers and other bloggers have started to visit my blog site, creating a photo album and publishing it, too (but that's in my Friendster blog) ... and many other things I need to know to get on with the next steps.

Blogging is indeed therapeutic. It helped me forget about my sorrow and start to appreciate things once again. If you can only see my learning curve here, it's really steep.

After experiencing so much sadness last week, I found it hard to sit down and write another entry (except for the one I wrote to release the pain I felt inside a few days ago). Although many things are running at the back of my mind, I couldn't write a coherent paragraph that would make sense to anyone who reads it. My thoughts were all over the place.

But I knew I need to write. I want to write. I am addicted to writing. The act of writing is my best way to make sense of what is happening to me and whatever is happening around me.

Rather than worry about not being able to write anything, I decided to focus on form (the interior design of this house) when I sat down to revisit my blog here tonight. I started by making a few changes on the layout (again!?) and placed a photo to my profile. After several experiments, what you see here now is the product of my 3-hour 'artwork' in front of my computer. I know it still looks a bit bare right now but in due time, I hope it is going to take its own form and content as it wants to be.

I wanted to expand the width (of this space) reserved for blog posts but I don't know how to do it. I hope someone would be kind enough to provide me some tips how to go about this. I have a feeling I need to work on the template and maybe, click on Edit HTML or something but beyond that, is a big unknown for me.

I am not really much of a techie and these jargons are just overwhelming for a new blogger like me! But I hope to develop my 'conversational skills' level on this soon. By then, I hope to be able to help other friends who are also struggling with their own attempts to blogging.

For now, I am okay with this. I'd better rest my head tonight and hope to dream of nice entries for the next few days.

Good night Fluffy! Good night moon! Good night to everyone ...

Sunday, October 28, 2007

When the pain remains, the best way out is always through it

“Typ mo conspi?”, a good friend texted yesterday afternoon.

“Yup,” I hastily texted back, without even asking sino ang may gig sa gabing yon.

Had been through a lot this past week! It sure felt like being on a rollercoaster ride! Though, i admit, i have never ridden on one in my entire life ... ever! The exhilaration one experiences in this ride is something i can just vaguely imagine.

Going to Conspiracy Bar is a much-longed-for break. I wanna be away from it all. It’s been months na hindi ako gumigimik and I couldn’t even remember when was the last time I went out for a drink and enjoy the warm company of friends.

While cruising along EDSA on our way to Visayas Avenue, my friends started asking, "So how are you, Azl? Haven't seen you for a long time!"

Such a simple question really ... but at that very moment … I found it so hard to give a straight-forward reply. This is unusual, my friends must be thinking then. They have been used to hearing me tell one story after another whenever we go out like this.

But that night I just couldn't describe how I felt inside. As the traffic was starting to build-up on the northbound lane of EDSA while approaching Cubao, my stories started to build-up, too. Soon I was blabbering about Bam and Kim’s enrolment, about finally seeing Bam’s serious efforts to get readmitted and enroll this coming semester to pursue her studies. That at long last I was able to sit down in front of this laptop without Yachi or Wabbit or Turkey (our 3 pet cats) claiming their space and sleep on top of the keypad. And how excited I was to be doing a new research project, something that hopefully, would benefit NGO workers.

And how relieved we were when four of the 5 puppies found their new pet-owners because our space at home is not big enough to accommodate 3 dogs, 3 cats, and the additional 5 puppies. Literally, they were all over the place.

Then my voice began to falter when I started talking about Fluffy, one of the 5 puppies. Told my friends na dinala namin siya sa vet at 9:30 PM last Saturday because i found out he wasn't taking any food and was just lying down on the throw pillow in one corner of the room.

"He has a 40 degree fever," the vet told us a few minutes later. Then he gave us a list of medicines we need to give Fluffy.

We went home with high hopes that the medicine prescribed would bring back the frisky spirit in him.

The following day, however, we had to take him to another vet to get a second opinion because there were instances when he was rapidly shaking his head. We didn't know what it was and what was happening to him. We only found out later on that these were already 'seizures' when the vet gave us a brief description of her diagnosis to Fluffy's health condition. That same day, we had him confined at the animal clinic.

I was trying to hold back my tears while relating this story to my friends because I, myself, was wondering at my own reaction to this situation ... why it hurt so bad and why I can't stop myself from crying.

"Last Wednesday night," I went on with my story, "I was with Bam and Kim (my two daughters) at the vet's clinic ... couldn't stop my tears from falling on my cheeks while we were singing softly a lullaby for Fluffy. We had to let him go to sleep na because his condition was fast deteriorating and his body couldn’t fight the infection spreading inside his bloodstream."

Two bottles of beer weren't enough to numb this feeling i was trying to hide. I still can't get over the sadness and this piercing pain whenever I remember carrying Fluffy in my arms every time he had a seizure. It's almost the same feeling I had every time one of my two daughters got sick.

I was on my 3rd bottle of beer when I suddenly asked : “Why is it so hard to understand feelings? Why can’t we control it? I know that letting Fluffy go was the best option on hand ... but why won't this pain go away?”

"Whether it's a puppy or a kitten, it is still a baby! That is why." My friend tried to console me with this explanation when she noticed this mixed feelings in me. She knew very well that we treat our pets as animal companions, other beings like us, but only in animal form. And we love all our pets very much.

I knew there is more than one answer to this makulit kong tanong and yet every time intense feelings overpower me, I still find myself asking these same questions. I have always believed that once you get to understand something, once the lesson is learned, it helps one to transcend a difficult experience and dissolves the pain as well. And so this time, I did everything I could to understand what was happening to Fluffy. But still the pain won't go away.

While in the middle of this reverie one of my friends replied, “Maybe there was something else that happened to you before this incident about Fluffy, that affected you so badly…you know, and it only ‘exploded’ now.”

Hmmmm ... I can’t help but agree to his comment. Fluffy was the 5th pet we brought to the vet the past six weeks. Oh, but those were regular visits for deworming and controlling ear mites and ticks and fleas! Although medyo mabigat ito sa bulsa but these check-ups didn't give us any problem at all. No heartaches at all, except this last one.

"Well, yes," I finally admitted after a few moments of hesitance to reveal a feeling I've been keeping to myself. "I’ve been through some pain and turmoil ... a couple of months ago. But that's another story I am not ready to talk about yet."

The truth is, I found out that whatever affection I had for Fluffy came from the same source as the feelings I had for this other person I-just-can't-talk-about yet. I may have only one heart but at that moment, I found out this heart could love and embrace several people and beings all at the same time. But the price is just too much to bear. The pain can be so devastating.

Once again I heard my friends telling me, "... when you love deeply, Azl, you also hurt deeply. You can't take one end of the stick without the other. "

During those moments, i was really contemplating the idea of 'going back' to the workaholic and stoic person that I used to be, that I learned to be, to cope with this kind of situation. Magpaka-bato na lang muna kaya uli ako. Am confident i can do that. Been there done that, I told myself.

But the moment I looked up and saw the faces of my dear friends ... thoughts of the warm hugs I get from Bam and Kim ... I knew I can't do it any other way. Despite the uneasy feeling of pain and sadness that sometimes come with disappointments and unmet expectations, I knew there is no other way except to get through this.

I just hope that this time, this 'bridge' i need to cross is shorter than the ones I've been through before.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Finding my way around

"Wow, Ma, ang haba ng nasulat mo ah!" was the comment I got from Kim, after she saw my first blog post yesterday. I couldn't help feeling a bit insecure that I might be 'talking' too much again... *sigh* ... as this is one of my usual response when faced with a new experience. On other occasions I tend to be more of a listener, an observer until I get familiarized with the environment.

But when it comes to my work and meeting up with a new client, things just flow quite naturally. Got no worries about talking too much or not saying enough. Discussions flow as it is and as if on cue, pertinent questions are raised, and views and opinions are shared quite openly.

These running thoughts sent me wondering about my initial blogging experience.

Is it having a face-to-face interaction with another person that makes the difference? Is it the confidence in knowing what one is supposed to do that make communicating easier? -- these questions I continued to ask myself on my way back home from my meeting this morning.

Is it the Pinoy culture? I've thought of this, too, because I've often heard that we do have this penchant for verbal communication and verbal traditions.

Now I am beginning to understand why friends who have started blogging long before I even thought about it, often asked for comments to their posting. That while there is so much freedom and space to be creative and expressive in the world of cyberspace, it still helps a lot to build something based on interactions with others in this new world out here.

I guess I better go and find someone to 'talk' with first .... or read on someone else's blog and send in my comments, too. I really want to learn more and make new friends soon!!!

Good night everyone... good night dear Self ... good night moon...

Monday, October 15, 2007

The road to get here ... anxieties of a new blogger

Believe me when I say that writing this first post did not come as easy as I thought it would be.

What am i gonna write about? Which story am I gonna tell first?

Have you experienced meeting up with a long-time friend, someone you haven't seen for maybe more than a decade now? I mean, someone who has been dear and close to you who probably knows some of your secrets and has probably heard those stories you wouldn’t dare tell others who are not that close to you.

I guess so, too!
Cold sweat on your palms!
You bet!

That’s exactly how I felt when I sat down to write this entry for my blog.

It sure feels like those few minutes before actually meeting up, when all the stories you have stored in your memory and kept inside your heart suddenly come to the surface and flood your entire being.

The decision to start blogging came even before I realized it. This happened a month ago while I was browsing through these 'small notebooks' (a.k.a personal journals) that is now starting to fill up a large portion of the bookshelf standing right beside me now.

Come to think of it, I haven’t touched any of my journals for the past 10 years. Although writing in these personally-selected notebooks has become a daily ritual, it’s just that ... as soon as I finish writing on the last page, got this habit to simply keep them together with the rest of the growing stack of journals, sitting there patiently, probably waiting for the time when I would be visiting them once again. I often make that promise to myself whenever I start writing in a new notebook -- that one of these days I'm going back to read them all over again.

Years passed, and soon I completely forgot to remember that I haven’t fulfilled that promise at all.

That afternoon, reading the first few chapters of the book Leaving a Trace by Alexandra Johnson made me jump from my seat to go and pick up one of my well-kept “small notebooks” and started reading from a page that actually opened up by itself. Soon, the floor piled with all the other notebooks and I was scanning briskly one notebook after another.

This book, by the way, is about keeping a journal. It talks about the art of transforming a life into stories. It offers ways to find the story underneath the surface of what has been written in one’s journal.

I waded through layers and layers of thoughts and memories, each claiming to be prioritized as THE story I should use as ‘starter’ in our conversation … but I continued wading some more to give me enough space for the ‘preliminaries’, as I often call it, to say “HI” and “Hey, how are you now?” … and maybe, an intentional silence after that … the way we often do when we finally find ourselves in front of someone distantly familiar, but familiar nonetheless.

While in the middle of being thrown 'back in time', I suddenly realized that while previous entries (meaning, entries written 8 - 12 years ago) were written primarily for my own future reading purposes, entries for the succeeding years (2000 - current year) revealed a subtle shift … a different voice, different voices actually, have started to assert themselves! There was also a change in the tone and the way things were written.

At first I couldn’t recognize what the difference was. After a few more days of re-viewing more stories of what happened way back then … I finally found the ‘difference’ I was looking for!!! I discovered that for the past 5 years, I was starting to write for an-other audience!

I guess that signaled that journal writing has slowly ceased to be purely a private matter for me. I even removed these notebooks from their boxes where I used to keep them, and placed them alongside with all the books on display in these shelves.

For some of you who may have experienced writing in personal journals and have now become experienced bloggers, you could probably imagine what that ‘shift’ means. I was telling myself that I got an inkling about it, I guess … but every time I try to catch it, to describe it … words continue to slip out of my fingers. Such definition remains elusive. Maybe, it’s not meant to be defined after all. It’s just that. The way stories are told and shared with others … in search of that resonance and affirmation that we are not alone with what we experience in our day-to-day lives.

Now that my 2 daughters are both teens, we also enjoy exchanging stories: they, with their recent 'episodes' with their friends, and me, with my own stories as well ... and some stories culled from my journal entries, too.

And aside from dear friends who continue to encourage me as some of them have already started their own blogs, reading stories shared by other bloggers touched me so deeply so much so that all my apprehensions and hesitance to share mine slowly dissolved to oblivion.

And so here I am, introducing to you this world of Meandering Thoughts,** with a vague notion of what this Blog is going to be all about.

Hope you'll visit often and join me meander a bit more...

** Meandering Thoughts is the original title of this Blog.