Monday, December 1, 2008

A career shift or a shift in daily routines?

Hey, congrats! That's what most of my friends told me when they learned I was taking on a full-time job, after being a freelance for the past six years.

That I was making a major career shift in my life.

Yes, for the past 6 years, most people (especially my neighbors) I know, thought I had so much free time to bum around. But how can I do that, when I was always in front of this monitor, re-viewing a lot of documents and finishing a report so I can get my professional fee, in time to pay for my bills.

This is one thing I like in being a freelance -- nobody knows for sure when you really got a job out there, or you are just feigning to have a job out there.

There are actually a few reasons why I decided to try working full-time again. And these are the things I give in response to such query:
  • I got burned out from working freelance for a long time; (burnout out? freelance?)
  • I want to experience working in an office, to relate with officemates, again;
  • I want to stay out of the house more often (as I think am getting a bit too domesticated already)
  • My office wear were getting dusty and outmoded; (that's what my daughters tell me)
  • Change of daily routine, as I was getting too attached to our pet cats and dogs, who are my constant companions at home, while my two daughters are out to school;
  • I need a social life daw (what's wrong with wanting to stay at home all the time?) ...

After a month of working in an office (again), I found out that indeed, it was not simply a matter of changing my daily routines at all. Okay, I love the feel of sunshine touching my skin every morning while am on my way to the office. I also find it more enjoyable to observe the changing weather condition while sitting in an office with glass walling and no windows, than doing it at home.

For the first two weeks, I realized I was resisting the idea of waking up early, which also meant sleeping earlier than I used to. This created a lot of self-imposed pressure and stress, not only to myself, but also to other people inside our house.

After I succumbed to the idea of waking up early as part of the choices and decisions I made, things became much easier to bear.

Coming home from the office each day turned out to be an enjoyable walk from the office, passing through the mall, then walking a little bit farther, taking a few left and right turns around a few corners ... and then I am home!

But I was not prepared for the physical fatigue I experienced at the end of the day. Having been used to working alone, I never thought that relating with several people each day can be tiring din pala! Makes me wonder how other people manage that everyday!

However, despite the 8 - 5 or a 9 - 6 schedule, my mind still works like a freelancer. Thoughts about work still go beyond an 8-5 and a 9-6 type of mindset.

There are several other changes that occurred - both positive and negative, and new things learned as well. That includes my concept about "free time". Before, I simply let my day flow by slowly (or swiftly, if there are deadlines to beat) ... then wait for my free time to come, where I can sit by the window and start writing ...

But now, if I don't schedule it, I mean when my "free time" is going to be, I would never get to enjoy it anymore.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Being on a fork road, with several bumps ahead!

Yesterday I promised myself I am going to write about my online portfolio. For many reasons I wasn’t able to write anything about it. As I went through the ups and downs of my emotions and struggling thoughts on my present financial situation, I found out a few important lessons and insights on my experiences in planning and visualizing things I want to do and what I hope to happen.

A few blogs inspire me to do this.

There is KM Altomonte who's multiply account has evolved to what now appears to be an inspiring running portfolio of his creative projects. There is also EdLaT with his continuing stories of his trips and insights on his creative projects as well.

I want to write about my passions in life, too. About those wonderful experiences of working with clients, trips to the provinces, being with people in the community, and even being by myself while contemplating about upcoming projects.

There are moments, too, when I want to write a blog about this process of overcoming my financial difficulties for the past few months. I am hoping that this will push me to sustain my efforts in overcoming negative thoughts, nitpicking, and involuntary release of statements I tend to regret later on.

There are several things that keep pulling me down. And make me want to ‘disappear’ for a while until such time I could pay my debts and unpaid bills here at home.

But amidst all these not-so-comfortable feeling about my situation, I really strive to keep my spirits up; hoping things will change in a wink of an eye. But the moment I open my eyes, they are still the same.

Maybe, I am depressed. I just try to hide it even to myself. The truth is I am not happy about the way things are. I feel so much pressure to make things work out normally because deep inside I do feel helpless and some sort of a failure in providing for the needs of my two daughters.

I also feel so much envy for others who aren’t worrying about things that bother me a lot. I wish I can be like them, too. Cool and happy. I guess.

I am speaking out my mind here, hoping this will help me release all the anxieties that surface, even in my sleep.

Things I read tell me to keep my goals on the front. To hold on to my dreams of having a better life, the best life I can make out of each moment that comes my way. Although I know that sitting here, doing nothing is not going to take me to where I want to be, still I am doing it.

Last night I requested for a sign to tell me things are going all right. Today I got a spam email with a subject title “I found a job for you”. Although not sure what this meant, I took it as a sign of whatever is being revealed to me.

No sir … not having a job right now is not a big problem to me. But not having enough funds is. I cannot move much because every time I think of going out of this house spells ‘expenses’ for my accounting mind.

Right now I just want to go to sleep. To play with these cute kittens and just rest my heart from all these worries.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Two female dogs claiming to be mom to newborn puppies

First, FunnyLooking giving birth to her puppies ...

Then Ducky (FunnyLooking's mom) getting all excited when she smelled and saw her new grandpuppies ...

Two days later, Ducky started whining when she wasn't allowed to get near the newborn puppies ... (we were afraid this might trigger the new mom's protective reaction so we had to put the two other doggies, Ducky and Teddy, on leash).

Third day, we woke up to see the puppies curled around Ducky ... (yes, she was on leash in her own space inside our home, some five meters away from FunnyLooking's nesting place and we don't know how the puppies got to be there!). Worried that the puppies might be hungry already, we slowly brought each one back to FunnyLooking's breast.

Ducky started whining again ...

Four days later I was starting to get a bit irritated with Ducky's whining. Being the only one left at home, I didn't know what to do and decided to call up the vet for advice about this ... and the vet said:

"Oh, sometimes that really happens, when a female dog wants to be a foster mom to another dog's puppies. You can let her stay with the babies, but try to stay nearby for a while and observe what happens ... and see how FunnyLooking reacts to this. And by the way, you can check later if there is milk that may come out from Ducky's teats."

Upon hearing this, I immediately let Ducky off her leash and she hastily ran to the babies. But the moment FunnyLooking approached her puppies, Ducky started to growl.

Uh-uh, I guess the vet forgot to tell me to observe how Ducky actually reacts to FunnyLooking getting near her own babies. After an hour or two, I had to pull Ducky out so that FunnyLooking can feed her babies. And made a resolution to myself to try to ignore Ducky's whining again. I didn't want the puppies to go hungry at all.

For the next few hours, all went well, with some intermittent whining from Ducky.

Fifth day, as adviced by the vet, I slowly pinched Ducky's teats to see if there was milk that will be coming out. Whooooh, I started laughing because I couldn't believe what I saw there. I didn't believe it when the vet told me about this but there was milk coming out indeed!!! Quite a surprise and what a relief!!! Now we can let Ducky and FunnyLooking take turns to stay with the new babies without worrying that they might get hungry!

For the next few days both dogs took turns in feeding and keeping the puppies warm. But still Ducky wouldn't allow FunnyLooking to get near when it was her turn to be with the babies. This seems to be nice break for FunnyLooking and gave her the chance to be as frisky as she used to be.

Every now and then, FunnyLooking would sneak in to stay nearby Ducky and her babies. This went on until a time that Ducky stopped growling at her presence and simply allowed FunnyLooking to lie down beside the puppies while it was still her 'turn' to care for them.

Things went on smoothly for the past week ... and we just laugh it off whenever we find the two 'mom-dogs' race each other to be the first one to be with the puppies, after having their own meal. Imagine two dogs racing each other like this!!!

Three days ago (the puppies must be around 3 weeks old by then) ... we saw FunnyLooking and Ducky lying down together, with their heads touching pa nga. Strange but they were lying there comfortably. No growls, no quarrel at all. We were extremely curious what happened.

When we looked closer, we found out that while FunnyLooking was feeding one puppy, Ducky was also feeding the other puppy!!!

Ha-ha! Took a while before they came to accept that this was not a competition after all. That they can both be moms to the babies, can stay to keep the babies warm, and take care of them as well, together.

Oh, amidst all these, Teddy appears to be cool and even seemed to be 'sympathetic' to both female dogs. Not indifferent at all. Whenever Ducky starts her whining, Teddy just 'bumps' his head on Ducky's face in a playful manner as if telling her, "Oh please, tone down your voice!" Then turns to FunnyLooking and starts their 'tag' game all over again.

And he is even helping take care of the babies --- learned to clean them, and sometimes pushes their behind to keep them 'walking'.

One thing I noticed here ... while both mom-dogs are caring for them, and while Ducky is the more 'confident' mom between the two, the puppies seem to know who their real mom is. I often see them run, or should I say, crawl, towards FunnyLooking.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Parenting to the XYZ Generation (Part 2 of 2)

To be a mom to children of the present generation, which I prefer to call Generation XYZ, is something that is probably comparable to taking up a post-doctorate degree! I've been pursuing this 'study' for more than two decades now and yet, I haven't mastered it yet. New questions keep coming up and there is no easy answer to most of it.

For some of us who may be thinking of influencing and making our own contribution to creating a better world for the next generation -- this can be truly extra-challenging.

How easy it would be to simply manage things 'automatically" with the help of our 'autopilot' to manage day-to-day situations and never worry how this is going to affect the development of would-be parents and adults in the next generation.

But after having been made aware of how one's upbringing can influence much ofone's growing up years, as a parent, I want my two daughters to grow up happily, with confidence, and as responsible individuals. I also want them to be aware of who they are and be able to utilize whatever gifts have been bestowed on them, and have the tenacity and optimism to face challenges along the way.

Daunting task? Maybe, if we really think about it.

But if we live it one day at a time, striving to be sensitive and maintaining an open-mind (and heart) and a learning attitude while remaining conscious of how we respond to daily life circumstances, I believe the pay-off will benefit not only our children but also WE, the parents. We do and we will commit our own 'mistakes' in this kind of process. But such 'mistakes' are mere indications of the battle between the 'old' and the creation of an evolving 'new' approach to parenting.

It's not easy but it's possible. It can be done.

The joy in hearing stories from my daughters of how their day has been, how they hate that so-and-so somebody in school for being so mean, and how they almost got a perfect score (almost!) in their class exams, only prove that it's been a fruitful day for all of us. That all those years of challenging myself to continue learning and practicing what I've learned has been all worth it.

Who knows, one day, I might be able to retrieve back my badge of honor. It would be wonderful to hear my daughters' friends say, "Hey, your Mom rocks! Can I come and visit you at your place again? Jamming uli tayo!"

Or better yet, to hear my daughters tease me about my being able to post a blog again ... after some time of doing a lot of reflection and re-thinking these past months.

[Image credit]

Monday, August 4, 2008

Parenting to the XYZ Generation (Part I of 2)

Originally uploaded by

Years ago, I've heard my daughter's friends describe me as a 'cool mom'. Whatever that means, I graciously took this as a compliment to my open attitude towards my two daughters -- of not resorting to giving 'lectures' when I see them act quite 'differently', of course, in comparison to how I think I acted when I was their age!

My desire during the past years was to learn with them, to learn from them, on how it is to be a teenager in the present times.

I did learn a lot from them. And until now, it seems that they really enjoy teaching me and giving me tips from how to dress up for a meeting, to helping me understand what the latest catchphrase means, and even in updating me with the latest craze in showbiz, techno gadgets, and whatever is happening in the music industry. Each day, there is always a new lesson for me.

These conversations (while I am in this learning mode) also helped me understand why they enjoy watching horror films and still find them funny while I can't even stand to watch a horrifying scene. This attitude also helped me appreciate their kind of music, the likes of Mars Volta, My Chemical Romance, Urbandub, and many other bands I've become familiar with now.

I can't remember exactly when I started to act more like a 'typical' parent, as my daughters describe it, wherein a series of shoulds and shouldn'ts became part of my vocabulary. It must have been the clutter and 'garbage' covering our homely living room ... or the pile of laundry that's been in the corner of their room for the past two weeks that triggered this. I don't exactly remember. Foremost in my mind was the need to get things organized. To create a better ambience inside our home. To be their mom. Period.

But the point is, I just found myself issuing more 'commands' that need to be followed, a tone which I only realized when they also started to respond with a "Yes, Mom!" (or was it actually a "Yes, Ma'am"?)

There were even times when I simply allow my 'autopilot' to take over and deliver those punches of guilt-inducing lines, which can be hurtful, I realized later on. Such strongly-worded statements I would say that I don't want to be on the receiving end of what my autopilot is able to pull out, unknowingly.

These are moments when I've been drained of all
energies, had been under stress from work, or had been dealing with a difficult client ... only to find out that upon arriving home there's still a lot of things to do ...

Sometimes it's just too much.

Putting it simply, there are times when my badge of honor of being a 'cool mom' fades out and loses its relevance amidst the challenges confronting working moms like me.

On hindsight, I think this is also what happens with most 'typical parents' (from my daughters' point-of-view) who have been out working the whole day, have been going through Manila's heavy traffic and several other stressful circumstances that make it difficult to maintain a 'cool attitude' once we are with our children or with our family.

(to be continued ... )

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Some Thoughts and Reflections: Celebrating CERD's 30th Anniversary

Yesterday, I attended this event at the University Hotel (formerly PCED Hostel), located inside UP Diliman, to join former colleagues in celebrating CERD’s 30th anniversary and to attend the launching of a book published by CERD, its new livelihood program, and CERD’s website.

Truth is I had no idea before I arrived at the venue what was going to be ‘launched’. A call from Cely telling me, “Azl, attend ka sa Saturday! Anniversary ng CERD tsaka me launching,” was enough for me to say, “Yes, I’ll be there.”

An event like this in CERD is like a high school reunion for me; an event I always look forward to in anticipation of meeting former colleagues whom I haven’t seen for the past years. Greetings such as “Hey, you looking great, as great as the last time I saw you!” is almost synonymous to “Hi! How are you doin?” This is also a time for exchanging more updates -- where one is currently working. Noteworthy, too, are stories shared about each one’s kids, as our children used to be that, literally, kids, several years ago.

When I arrived at the venue, these vivid memories of previous CERD activities were exactly how I anticipated them to be ... and there was even more. There was more laughter, a greater sense of warmth everyone shared with each other, the sheer joy to be seeing people you only get to read in the internet, pictures of CERD programs-in-action decorating the wall, booths showcasing products from the different program areas, and new faces in the crowd.

The warmth one feels in the atmosphere when surrounded by CERD ‘pipol’ never ceases to amaze me. It’s like coming home wherein you would feel a warm energy surrounding you upon entering the doorstep. A sense of familiarity, a sense of belongingness. And yes, a sense of comfort in just being there with everyone.

These hugs and exchanges came to a pause when the emcee called on everyone to enter the hall (the conference room) where the “formal part of the celebration” was going to be held. What followed was a three-hour program for the General Assembly, highlighted by updates on recent developments in CERD’s work for the past 5 years.

While sitting there listening to each speaker and presenter, fleeting before me were things indicating that a lot of things have changed for the past 5, or maybe the past 10 years, in the life of CERD. For one, there is pride and confidence among the presenters while showing the achievements for the past 5 years. One speaker, a bit shy but proud when he presented an innovation still in the process of being tested out. There was also a brief report on the financial standing of the organization, showing the list of different agencies already supporting or have supported CERD’s work in various coastal communities.

The program flowed enjoyably, with funny crunchy lines thrown here and there by the two co-emcees for this event.

Watching Parallel Slides (The CERD that I used to know 5 – 10 years ago and CERD as it is now)

During those three hours, vivid images of long-ago and short-term memories about CERD ran its parallel course in my mind-screen while watching the slides being presented before us.

I remember it very well that Program Coordinators used to travel from the field carrying bags and ‘maleta’ filled with manila papers containing the details of program reports. But now, with just a click of 4 – 5 slides, program updates in various areas can already be observed without going through the tedious process of folding and unfolding sheets of manila papers.

There was even a video presentation on the Hatchery Project showing the process of producing tiger prawns, an enterprise project implemented in one of the project areas. I was startled from my reverie when everyone started to laugh while watching the harvesting and marketing part of the video showing bangus (milkfish) being harvested instead of tiger prawns. Probably the team responsible for this video production was unable to gather documentation on harvesting and marketing of tiger prawn. Or maybe, they wanted to show both enterprise projects after all!

Years ago, documenting CERD’s experience was still limited to print form through publication, i.e. the Biyaheng Dagat, and photo exhibits of various program activities.

But now we learned that CERD has also developed and utilized new forms: posters presented in local and international conferences, video documentation, and yes, tapping on the potentials of the internet by creating CERD’s own website.

It’s so heart-warming to see how CERD has evolved through these years and how it has captured its own experiences, using different forms. I do believe that this is not simply a matter of documenting things. It also reflects how the organization appreciates its own efforts of implementing the programs, and the pride that comes with accomplishing 'things' (read: facilitating changes in people's lives) and not just simply doing them.

And that’s the second point I noticed in the presentations.

At first glance, one would already be impressed by the figures on the number of fish / marine sanctuaries established, the number of communities and people organized and involved in the fishery management program, of livelihood projects being implemented, changes in gender relations at the household level, and even the noted increase in fish catch for each trip -- these are stories if told in detail would require another day or probably a week of sharing and discussion among those attending this Assembly.

And if allowed, I am sure that the CERD staff who are working in the field (in the different project sites) would have more stories to tell ... of how many turtles have been tagged, and dugong being protected, and the number of times they have crossed those big waves to get to the communities ...

But then I guess, the road that leads to the sea is truly endless. There will be more surprises and blessings on the road up ahead for CERD as it never cease to stay where the small fisherfolks are.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

My bed occupants

Woke up very early this morning to the sound of howling winds outside, a sound I recognize so well when a typhoon is entering or is just merely passing by. I rushed to close all the windows so that the rain won't enter my room and found all our six cats getting frantic as they must be hearing the sound of our neighbor's roof being hacked by the strong wind.

After an hour or two, here they are, four of them invading two-thirds of the bed, sleeping soundly.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Of classical music and writing

I can’t help thinking about Nodame Cantabile, a Live Action (from the anime series with same title) while I am trying to finish this write-up for an article in a magazine. I really admire and appreciate how the film was developed. It hit me deeply and quite strongly. It made me appreciate classical music once again. It's truly amazing how great composers were able to create such wonderful music.

In moments like this, I feel so grateful my two daughters also appreciate the depths of classical music and even the stories behind the lives of the composers themselves. This makes it easier to reveal how a beautiful rendition can bring tears to my eyes. This is the reason why I can understand it when I see tears in others’ eyes while watching or listening to musicians play their music from the heart.

Mahirap i-explain talaga itong universal impact of music.

Chiaki, one of the main characters, is someone I admire in this film. Stoic, but philosophical and deep, as observed by one member of the orchestra he was conducting. I can see suppressed passion in his eyes and gestures while conducting the orchestra.

Lessons he learned seem to be lessons I also need to learn while I am working on my papers here. It wasn't easy for him to get all members of the orchestra to play the piece the way he wants to express it. The same way that my paragraphs seem to be moving in their own direction, and not necessarily the way I want to express the ideas in this paper I am working on.

Just as it did to the two main characters in this film, I also have to face my own “musical score”, which came in the form of references and focus for the topic that I need to write. A lot of ideas are already running at the back of my mind. But it's been more than 2 weeks now that I've been suffering this 'writer's block'... like a quicksand that's pulling me down with every effort I put in writing these articles.

It's quite clear to me though that I need to write whatever comes into my mind. To do it freely, without the restriction of any outline. To write it simply the way I write. Editing this piece can come later.

Photos by betsythedivine

Okay, okay, I know ... I know what I need to do. But to overcome this inertia, I need some more push .... a little more pull ...

Maybe a promise that once I am able to start writing this in a flowing manner, my reward would be to play the piano for maybe an hour a little bit later today.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Finding Remedy to a Classic Writers Block

Two months ago, I was really excited to be involved in a writing project. Nope, it was three months ago actually. It would be the first time that I'll be working with a dear friend, whom I've admire for being such a prolific writer and a communications specialist at that. I've learned a lot from her from all those years of exchanges we've had about developing communications strategies for NGOs engaged in development work.

A month later, sometime in March, I started reading some of the references to prepare my initial write-up. I found myself writing several pages, deleting more than half of it, and rewriting again, in an attempt to capture what I was expected to put in paper after reading all those materials.

I've been going through this writing-deleting-rewriting cycle for almost a month now, just for the initial article. Until I got tired and finally after finishing, I immediately sent it to her because I was afraid I won't be able to finish all articles assigned to me.

I experienced the same thing in writing the next two articles. When I finally told her what I've been through, with an astonished look on my face, without batting an eye, she told me, "Oh, a classic writers block you had there!"

"A classic writers block? What is that?" I asked her, as I really couldn't understand what was happening to me. It's the first time I've experienced such difficulty in writing.

I know and I've heard a lot about other people experiencing this writers block. But I had no idea how it feels nor how it happens. All I can remember was sitting in front of the monitor for hours, typing and retyping everything I write and hoping that words would automatically come out instead since nothing worthwhile seems to flow out of my fingers while they rest on top of this keyboard.

Adding up to the pressure I was feeling inside is the knowledge that we do have a deadline to beat. Deadlines are sacred commitments for me, so much so that I'll do everything I can just to meet my promised deadline for a client. This is something my friend knows very well.

I tell you, it was a triple whammy (not just a double whammy) that hit me there when I couldn't put in paper all those thoughts running inside my head.

Having read articles that talk about "An experience of having writers block" did not prepare me for what I've been through for the past two months. Getting mad for not being able to beat the deadline, and feeling so guilty about it (my getting mad, in the first place) afterwards.

But now after finding a label to describe this experience ... I came to fully embrace the fact that ... yes, it was something I didn't want to happen at all ... and I don't need to punish myself any further because of it ... and it's something I want to overcome.

My dream of becoming a creative writer almost faded away during those agonizing moments when no single paragraph came out that didn't get deleted immediately after ... almost, because I'm trying to hold on to it right now.

I really hope that other people who may have the chance to read this blog entry I am writing here would learn from my experience, too. I would like to share some articles that helped bring back my zest in writing. Hope that you would find them helpful, too. Do check on these two nice articles:

1. Writers Block: A Definition by example

2. Writers Block: Tools you can use

Whew! That was truly amazing! I was able to write this entry in just a matter of 15 minutes. Feels great to have my confidence in writing, back with me again.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The grace of letting go

I am mad. Thoughts of that incident makes my blood boil to more than a hundred degrees.

With eyes focused on the monitor, fingers busy typing on the keypad trying to catch each thought that flowed through my mind, I didn't notice the unfamiliarity of those two pairs of feet enter the door.

The face of those two guys who entered my doorstep are still clear in my memory. While one was pointing his gun on my face, the other guy was struggling with the cords attached to my laptop, not knowing that all he had to do was simply pull out those USB drives ... no need to struggle with it ... but he fiercely cut the wires with his bare hands ... anger and fear made me rush to my laptop ... to protect it and what was inside ...

Before I realized what was coming, I was down on the floor with my 'sacrum' hitting the edge of the stairs. Gosh, that really hurt a lot!!! The other guy hit my forehead with his gun when I tried to take back my laptop!!!

... and they were gone in less than 5 minutes, with my laptop, cellphone, and wallet. It took me a minute before I was able to stand up to cry for help. But it was too late. They were gone.

No, this is not an introduction to a short story. But I wish it was. The same way I felt in those 5 minutes. But it happened for real.

This incident happened a month ago ... the whole thing happened in less than 5 minutes ... but its impact slowly emerged and stayed with me for almost a month. The physical pain, the mental anguish, the fear for our safety, helplessness for the lack of decisive actions by the nearest police forces to catch the rooks, the guilt for being too trusting for keeping my door open most of the time for the past year-and-a-half, and a lot of other emotions that flooded my being.

For the following weeks going through my usual routine was an attempt to feign normalcy and show everyone that everything's alright. This was also meant for those who might be observing us, yet to make a comeback, as others say about robbers going back to the 'scene of the crime'.

I had to finish and submit my report ... on time ... cook meals, manage the house, take care of our pets, meet up with clients, and do everything else as if nothing happened.

But deep inside, time stood still ... and if it moved, it was moving so slowly. I was experiencing a lot. And February became the longest month I ever experienced these past few years.

... I went through a week of self-denial: "No, it only happens in the movies. Not to me." But the space on top of my computer table, however, patiently reminded me that it really did happen.

... several nights of restless sleep and being easily awakened by sounds of footsteps (by stray cats, our pets, and anybody else in the neighborhood).

... there was constant fear that I might see those 2 guys back on my doorstep to get the power cord (for the laptop), the only thing left of my laptop.

... the nervous laughter whenever I see one end of the USB flash drive, with its wire severely cut forcefully by that foolish guy.

I was told I should be thankful that all I got was a knock on my forehead and a butt that hurt. But I know that getting hurt like that is not something to be grateful about. I still felt doubly violated: for being robbed and being robbed right inside a place I trust(ed) to be safe -- inside our house. But given all the stories I read in the newspaper, I guess I really have to be thankful about this.

I was also thankful that I have started to back-up my files and copied them in CDs before this incident.  Those were important records, reports I made for previous and current projects, and photos that were recently uploaded by my two daughters.

From the time it happened up until yesterday, I was able to convince myself that what I lost were "things" that can be replaced. We can buy another laptop, another cellphone, to replace them. But losing these "things" also created a vacuum that increased in size ... as their real value to my daily routines continue to unfold ...

After a couple of weeks I began to feel the absence of my laptop, my virtual office (as a freelance) for the past 5 years; the absence of a cellphone ringing and reminding me about things and appointments for each day.

It's a blessing that several friends gave me unlimited access to their computers to continue with my work. And the landline phone suddenly became the main instrument to connect with the outside world.

We were able to cope, somehow.

But there is one thing I realized only now, after copying back those files into this new laptop --- I lost something very important to me... my journal entries (the ones I wrote in my computer) for the entire year of 2007 were gone. I wasn't able to copy them in those CDs.

In moments like this, I strive to remember what a friend once told me, to never allow such incidents to affect how I view life; not to allow it to stop me from enjoying the warmth of the sun, the soulful conversations and the company of friends; and never to allow it to stop me from opening up my heart and experiencing the joy in life all over again.

It took a while before I was able to gather my courage to write about how I felt, to express my anger, my vulnerability, and appreciate the love and support given to us.

Writing about it with a mixed feeling of anger and resignation is all I can do right now.  Good thing there are many things before me now that demand more of my attention.  Gotta shift my focus then and simply let go ... come'n, Azl, let it go.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Yachi and her four tiny kittens

Here's an update on Yachi and her babies.

I really wanted to take pictures of their day-to-day development. Feeling like a mom, too, to Yachi's tiny kittens. But I noticed that Yachi doesn't seem to like us or anybody else peeping inside at them. And so I was only able to take these few pictures when the mom is out of sight.

Speaking of privacy and spending those intimate moments with her babies, I'm sure I would feel the same way, too, if I were in her place. So all I have are these few pictures to share with you.

Last Saturday evening, upon arriving home after meeting up with a friend, I was surprised to find B and K upstairs to where Yachi and her babies were staying. Then I heard tiny shrieks! The babies!!! I ran just in time to see Yachi slipping out of the door, while 'biting' one of her babies on its nape, and was walking slowly and went inside a small opening on our ceiling.

I hastily asked my two daughters what was happening. 

K replied that she saw Yachi and one of the babies outside the 'zipped cabinet' but she thought Yachi was just cleaning the baby. And so she just left them alone.

The next thing she heard was a kitten's cry which was coming from inside the ceiling.

It suddenly dawned on me that what I saw was already the 2nd baby kitten being carried to this 'new hiding place'. Yes, when I checked inside the 'zipped cabinet', there were only 2 kittens left.

I wanted to get mad, then anxiety started to join the mixed emotions I was feeling inside. Was there anything that threatened Yachi that made her take her babies to another place? To a dirty place for her babies? I knew the ceiling must be filled with dust and sand since it was more than a year since we had it cleaned up.

Right at that moment I couldn't do anything at all. I couldn't stop Yachi from taking her babies to wherever she felt they will be 'safe'. I was staring at the 2 other cats, Wabbit and Turkey, who also loved taking a peek through the small hole on the side of the 'zipped cabinet'. Maybe they were as curious as we were of where those tiny sounds were coming from. Must have stepped on Yachi's boundary for privacy of her new babies.

Both are male cats, by the way. Probably they got no idea about 'mother cat's instincts', I thought to myself, while wanting to find someone to blame or something that will help me understand Yachi's seeming strange behavior.

The whole night was toss and turn for me, thinking how cold it must be in the ceiling. Even when I woke up in the middle of the night and found Yachi taking her usual place, sleeping curled on one side of my feet, my mind was still on the babies left inside the ceiling.

Two days later, while working here at home, I heard a crying sound coming from my room. I asked Bam to check it out. She came back laughing as she was trying to describe what she saw upstairs.

So I went up to my room, myself, and saw my blanket pushed back on the side of the bed. I started laughing, too, when I saw the tiny black kitty crawling on the creases of my blanket.

Yachi brought the kitten back. Not inside the 'zipped cabinet' but on my bed!!! 

The moment Yachi left the room, I picked up the kitten, carried it (don't know yet if it's a he or a she) on my palm. It was feeling cold, I guess...and so I held it gently for a few minutes to keep it warm. A warm feeling crept inside my heart when it looked up and allowed me to see its eyes already open. Woaah, then I slowly returned it back to that part of the blanket where Yachi left it.

I was hoping Yachi would take all the other 3 kittens back out of the ceiling. But a few minutes later, I saw her carry the black kitten back to the ceiling.

My guess is as good as yours.  Yachi wanted to assure me everything's fine by showing to me one of her kitties. 

Until now I still do not know up to what extent should I be feeling responsible for our pets. I want to trust Yachi's instincts about the welfare of her babies. And just leave them alone.  Well, why not?

Friday, January 11, 2008

Giving birth with confidence

Yachi, one of our pet cats, just gave birth to 4 kittens last night!!!

The whole evening I was so frantic, not knowing what to do, how to help our pet the moment she started getting restless and showed signs of labor.

I was rubbing Yachi's spine tenderly when I noticed movements in her tummy. Oh the babies are moving now, I told myself! Yah, there were movements in all sides of her tummy which gave me this idea that there is more than one kitten inside her.

Truth is although I have given birth to 2 daughters myself, both of them were delivered by caesarian section (CS) and that leaves me with no idea how it feels to give birth the natural way. Nope, got no first-hand experience of having labor pains. My OB used to tease me that I didn't give birth at all. My babies just popped out of my tummy. These thoughts only made me feel more incompetent last night as I was sitting there beside Yachi.

"Oh, Mom," my eldest daughter kept reminding me. "Don't worry. Cats know what to do! This is something they do by instinct, and would be better off without us intervening at all!" She really sounds so confident here. I remember it well how excited she was when Ducky, our pet dog, delivered her first babies a few years ago. Okay, allow me to digress here for a while.

I was working on an evaluation report then when we noticed Ducky getting restless. This, we easily recognized as signs of 'nesting'. I couldn't leave my writing work at that moment because I knew it would be difficult to go back again to this 'mode' the moment I turn my attention to somethings else.

So Bam was the one who stayed with Ducky while giving birth inside her whelping box. Every few minutes Bam was announcing, "Hey Ma, there's one now.....Ma!.... there's another one here!!" ... until she finally said with an amazed voice, "Ma, there are 5 of them here now? They look like dugong!!!"

Okay, okay, back to Yachi. This time she agreed to stay in the same room where Yachi is ... as I really couldn't contain my excitement and might affect Yachi's own birthing process.

A few minutes later we heard a small sound. While holding back our breath, we slowly peeped inside the old zipped 'cabinet' (where I keep my house clothes, a place Yachi chose to be her nesting place, while ignoring the box we made for her) and saw Yachi licking a very tiny kitten. After assuring Yachi with our soft voices that we are just around, we went back to what we were doing earlier.

Within the next hour, we saw 3 new babies, still with eyes closed crawling around their mom. It was almost midnight when Bam decided to go back to her own room. It took me another hour before I decided to go to sleep, too, and stop checking on Yachi and her babies.

I was nearing dreamland when I was suddenly awakened by another YELP inside the 'cabinet'. I hastily stood up, turned on the lights and peeped inside to find another baby lying there beside Yachi. Hmmm, and that makes it four. Then I went back to bed again ...

The only thing I was thinking of while drifting back to dreamland last night was ... I hope all the four placenta have been out so that there won't be any complications or possibility of infection for Yachi...and I hope Yachi doesn't get suffocated or vomit from eating too many placenta ... zzzzzzzzzz

When I opened my eyes early this morning I saw Yachi step out of the zipped cabinet to drink from her water bowl...and was eating ravenously. That was the only time a heaved a sigh of relief and started to relax. Hayy...

Must have been a long night for her. It's really amazing how cats can give birth on their own, and to four babies all in a row!!!

I have listed a few materials that helped us understand and prepare when our pet dog and cat were about to give birth.

Related links:
That's all for now. Thanks for dropping by and hope you visit again! I will be posting more stories here in the next few days.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Communicating with your teenage kids … (Part II)

Here’s a segue to my previous entry about communicating with your teenage kids.

Two days after posting my last blog, I got this feedback from my eldest daughter.

"Ma, you really got it wrong! I wasn't laughing at your friend! I just can't help laughing when an image of somebody else came into my mind! ... you weren't listening kasi eh.” After a short pause, she added, “I read your blog, Ma.”

Ah ok, that gave me an idea what my daughter was referring to. I had mixed feelings when I heard her talk about it -– glad to know she read my blog, and at the same time I was also wondering how she felt about what she read, which made me ask her: “If you were somebody else, say, one of your cousins or friends, and you read that blog … what would be your impression about it?”

“Hmmm…I would think it’s Bam bashing,” was her immediate reply.

My mind went ‘uh-uh’ as I was about to ‘defend’ what I wrote but instead of doing that I chose to remain silent and listen more intently to what she was about to say. Am sure both of us wouldn’t want to enter into another argument about it. And sure enough, this decision paid off when she suddenly said …

“But that’s your blog anyway, Mom!” and smiled at me.

Upon hearing this I suddenly realized that indeed, here's a young adult before me now ... oh my kids are both grown up already.  I really have to relax a bit and start learning how to grow up with them. There's a lot of my stored knowledge about raising kids that need some updating.  This sent me wondering ...

Do I really have to be irritated when I see clutter in their own space? Is there a better way to handle this?

Should I be bothered that they don't seem to be that affected when they watch horror movies? (...and am too afraid to watch one with them?)

Do I need to feel hurt when they put on a strong argument when I say "because i say so..."?

Oh, it seems like there is really a lot of rethinking needed about these things. I thought having gone through their early adolescence years was already much of a challenge to my intelligence, and yes, my own sanity. Kaloka talaga yon!

And now, am treading a new path with them once again. Why do kids have to grow up so fast? I haven't familiarized myself yet in relating with teenage daughters, and now there are more instances my eldest daughter is more sensible than I think I am. Painful, yes, but also very humbling. And I love that moment when I heard them say ...

"Of course, Mom, the next generation should be better than the previous one, di ba?"

This time I was the one who smiled back at them. I can't help from smiling inside when I see a compliment coming, intended or not, I still wanna smile. ^_^

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Communicating with your teenage kids (errr...a young adult, I should say)

As soon as the sound of firecrackers and spectacular display of pyrotechnics started to fade, we ran back inside our house to sit down for our media noche. Bam was so hyper that night, teasing everyone in sight, sparing nobody who live inside our compound.

Medyo pikon pala ako that night. I didn’t realize this until I heard Bam make a funny (not so funny for me) remark about one of my friends. While my blood was starting to boil, she was still laughing so hard at her own joke, not noticing the stern look I was already throwing at her (the ‘Mama look’ as they often call it).

Normally, I simply smile when Bam starts making teasing remarks like this, not minding at all since we were talking about other people. But not anyone among our friends (hers, Kim’s, or mine). This was the first time I heard her make fun of how one of my friends looks like.

After a few exchange of ‘arguments’ with her about this, as you see we are both able to find our own reasons for our actions and reactions, I turned on my ‘silent wall’, not wanting to say anything anymore about the topic and just went on cleaning up our kitchen.

It took me one day before I went back to thinking about what happened that New Year’s eve. I always felt uncomfortable whenever we have this kind of arguments wherein nobody wants to give in, and nobody is talking to anybody inside the house. Just going on with our usual routines doesn’t feel good without the usual comments and remarks exchanged whenever we are together in any part of the house. On new year’s day we were literally avoiding each other, except of course, during meal times. What a way to start our year, I thought to myself.

While reflecting on this recent happening, I knew that I raised my two daughters to grow up with the ability to speak out their thoughts and feelings freely, but I felt I need to set my bottom-line about certain things. I really don’t feel comfortable talking about the physical attributes of other people and making this a butt of joke.

It was only the following day did we start talking to each other again. But still there were a few arguments that followed, so I went back to my 'silent wall'.

One of my friends who learned about it texted me, “Hala, you might be arguing with Bam for the entire year!!!” I was actually worried that this might worsen if I don’t open up my heart to relating with her again. That would be a torture not only for the two of us, but also to Kim. Sumisikip ang loob ng bahay, is how they describe it whenever there is animosity felt by one of us. Moreso if there are two of us feeling that way. I guess this is what happens when 3 strong women (or ladies) are living inside a house. The space expands when everything’s okay, and it shrinks when things are not that okay.

On the third day we were talking amiably about buying a new digicam (since Kim will be needing this for her school projects, and Bam also needs it) when Bam suddenly said, “Ma, I saw my classmate using a camera that’s also an mp3 or mp4 player!”

Oh, I think I saw one in that store where I bought Kim’s mp3 player, I replied.

“But I don’t like going to that store. I don’t like that store at all. Their products are not that good!”, was her reply.

When I heard her last comment, I just stared at her and asked: “Did you hear what you just said?”


If you were in my shoes and one of your friends made that same remark you just said, how would you feel?, I asked her again.

She thought for a moment and said: “Babatukan ko siya!

Okay, so ilang batok kaya ang kailangan ko nang ibigay sayo?

Then she started giggling and replied, “hehe, mga sampu siguro Mama!

Still making my face look serious, I added, “Nagigets mo ba Bam why we often have those arguments? We are both strong individuals, we know that di ba? And when we are both mad, sumasakit ang ulo ni Kim because of the strong negative energy we are both emitting. Kaya oh please, stop provoking me. Nakakabobo pag galit!

And that was it. Everything went fine again after that. No sneering comments, no arguments. Siguro ayaw din niyang maging bobo. Ako din.

This is one thing I love whenever we are able to talk things out and express ourselves more clearly. It’s always as if nothing happened at all. Able to re-start again with a clean slate.

Maybe I shouldn’t feel bad about these arguments I sometimes have with Bam or with Kim after all. Maybe we need that to clear things out and get to know each other better. This is exactly how I felt after going through this kind of experience. I learned to understand and appreciate what Bam is trying to tell me. I hope she also feels the same way about this.