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.