Sunday, November 27, 2011

A sample movie review

While having dinner last night ...

Daughter: [suddenly asked] Ma, have you seen the film "The Tourist" (a Johnny Depp-Angelina Jolie movie)? 

Me: No, I haven't seen that movie yet.  Why?

Daughter: Ibang klase talaga itong si Johnny Depp.  Character actor talaga siya.   Nakakatawa yon eh kasi pinapaliit niya ang kanyang sarili sa movie na yon siguro para hindi niya masapawan si Angelina Jolie.  Doon nga sa isang scene, nakaupo lang siya at umiinom ng beer.  Wala siyang ibang ginagawa or sinasabi kaya.  Pero sapaw pa din niya sa screen si Angelina Jolie.  At si Angelina na yon ha!!!  Eh di lalo na siguro pag iba ang kasama niya sa movie. (Johnny Depp is really a character acter.  He's so funny in that movie because I noticed that he really tried to reduce his projection on-screen whenever he is in a scene with Angelina Jolie.  There was this scene wherein he was simply sitting in one corner, drinking a bottle of beer...doing nothing...just sitting there silently.  But goodness, he still has this strong projection on-screen that you won't even notice Angelina was there.  Imagine, that's already Angelina Jolie!) 

Me: [was just smiling and listening...trying to imagine the scene...]

Then she suddenly remarked:

Daughter:  Pero pag si Cate Blanchett yon, hindi siya kayang sapawan ni Johnny Depp.  Ibang level kasi si Cate Blanchett.  At pag pinagsama sila sa screen....sasabog yong screen!!! (But if it's Cate Blanchett, oh, I guess that won't happen at all.  But if you have Johnny Depp and Cate Blanchett together in one scene...hah, the screen might explode!!) 

Me: [now trying to imagine Johnny Depp and Cate Blanchett together in a movie] I couldn't imagine that scene... and besides, hindi sila bagay eh. (I don't know but they don't seem to have that chemistry at all.) 

Daughter:  Oo nga, ang hirap isipin.  Parang pinagsama mo yong Pirates of the Caribbean tsaka Lord of the Rings...(Yah, it's really hard to imagine Johnny Depp and Cate Blanchett being together in a movie.  :-) It's like combining the movie Pirates of the Caribbean and The Lord of the Rings!  So unimaginable, really. )

How about that for a typical conversation over dinner?

This makes me want to watch those movies I've missed in the cinema so I can catch up with these reviews.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Baby Furball, the cat with an attitude


Journal entry:

09 December 2005, 8:38 AM

I remember that day seeing this cute kitten sneaking at our gate, rushing behind one of the pots when Ducky, our pet dog, came running after him.  I hastily called Bam and Kim, “Dali, tignan niyo! May cute na kitten dito sa labas!”  And soon my two daughters were out looking for the kitten in our driveway.  Since I was in the middle of finishing a report at that time, I completely forgot about this.

A moment later, Bam and Kim came to my room carrying the sneaky and shy kitten, whom they have already nicknamed “Furball”.  Both girls kept saying “ang cute niya Mama no?”, which of course simply meant - "dito na siya Mama ha? aalagaan namin siya."  We already had three pets: 2 cats (Turkey, the black cat, Wabbit, the white cat) and 1 dog (Ducky - a doggie who came to adopt us - oh that's another story I want to write about).

And since that day … I couldn’t help but feel so much warmth and affection for the new “baby” in our family.     We discovered that Furball had his way of communicating with us using different tones of his “meow” which sometimes sounds “wow” in different notes.

Whenever I am washing the dishes, he is there sitting on the side of the sink to strike a conversation with me -- him, with his meows and wow and whatever sound he creates while looking up at me; and me, talking with him the way I do with small kids.  I enjoy these funny conversations with him.  I guess, Furball also enjoyed it as much as I did.

It wasn’t easy for Turkey and Wabbit to get used to having another kitten with us.  But as the days and weeks passed by, slowly, they became used to his makulet na presence, even tolerant of his distinctly different behaviors.

Wabbit and Furball became funny playmates.  I could see that they love the same toys, claim for the same sleeping space in the shelf, and love for the outdoors.  And it turned out that Furball was the bully to a bigger Wabbit, who was more than double his size.

Turkey became Furball's mentor and disciplinarian, teaching him where to pee and how to use the litter box, and maybe taught him many other things that we didn't care to know anymore.

And Ducky, our pet dog, became his best friend.  I believe they were really close that Ducky knew something happened to his best friend when he made that very sad cry (bigla siyang nag-alulong) yesterday.  True enough, when we got to the clinic we found out that Furball made his last breath at the exact moment Ducky cried out loud.

I really miss him so much.  These were the thoughts running at the back of my mind while folding the laundry atop our double-deck bed.  But while doing this I couldn’t help from bursting into tears for not hearing his “wow” for the past two days.  When I turned my head, I saw Wabbit staring at me from down below and hastily jumped up to the “second floor” of the bed and gave me that “bite” in my arm, the way Furball used to do.  Then he started rubbing his body on the pillow I was embracing as if sharing with my sadness and assuring me that he is still there to give me those funny habits we have associated with Furball.  I embraced Wabbit and told him, “I know you miss Furball, too!” And he stayed beside me for a few more minutes, maybe also remembering Furball.

Then I started remembering another scene.

A few months later after adopting the kitten, Furball's mom, a stray cat fed by Bam when she saw her nursing several kittens, came over and stood staring at our door as if knowing that her baby is with us.  Upon seeing her at the door, we brought Furball out to her mom.  When the mom-cat saw Furball, she slowly walked away towards our neighbor’s gate.  We noticed that she was treading slowly, hesitantly as if waiting for Furball to follow her.  We simply watched through our window to see what was going to happen.  Although Furball took a few steps towards the gate, we saw that instead of following his mom he started poking at the pot of plant that was a few feet away from the gate.  Then the mom-cat walked through our neighbor's gate out of our sight.

Taking that as our cue that Furball made his decision to stay with us, we hastily got him back and brought him inside our home.  We felt at that moment that the mom-cat also wanted to give Furball the choice, in the same way that we wanted to leave them by themselves to make that decision.

We had a restless sleep last night.  Kim felt that Furball was actually with us the whole night.  Even Turkey and Wabbit were a bit restless, too.  In the middle of the night I saw Wabbit go up to the top of the cabinets, the place where he usually stays when he wants to be all by himself.  And it was early morning when I felt Turkey creep to his sleeping area, on top of my malong,  between my legs, while  Wabbit slept beside me the whole night.

We woke up at 6 a.m. today because we wanted to bury Furball very early in the morning, before the sun is up.  I wanted to hug him for some more minutes before placing him inside the hole Butch dug up last night.  Putting Furball in his resting place was a very painful gesture on my part.

I started wondering if the three of us (me and my two daughters) shared the same feeling inside our heart.  And so I asked Kim, my youngest daughter, if she also feels that pinch inside her heart.  She said, “Ganon din ang nararamdaman ko, Ma.”

No amount of rationalization could remove the pain and guilt I feel in my heart after what happened.  I can’t help but cry once more as I remember Furball finding his way to the CR, despite the pain and being weak, to pee.  He even tried to find his way to the laundry area and use the litter box, as he usually did in the past.

It's sad and it's a mixture of many other things...ang hirap i-describe.  basta.

... and we bid him good bye and au revoir very early this morning.  I know it's gonna take some time before I stop crying about this.  and it's okay. sarap magmahal ng ganito.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Need some quiet time?

Coffee shops are favorite hangout places when I want to meet up with friends.  Maybe it's the ambiance, or the pipe-in music.  Or maybe it's the coffee.

The past few days I was feeling bored seeing the same side of my workplace, the same sights outside my window and so I thought of dropping by at the nearest coffee shop today to have a change in atmosphere...and yes, a change in ambiance, hoping my muse will like it and help me find the inspiration to write a post for my blog. 

I felt so lucky to see that there were only a handful of early shoppers sitting at this cozy place.  For the first 30 minutes I browsed through the newspaper and then started to look around.  Nice place, I told myself.  It also feels so peaceful without the usual chattering crowd populating coffee shops nowadays.  I also felt free to take this photos without disturbing anybody.

 Coffee shop at the 2F of Shangrila Plaza (Pasig City)

 Coffee shop at 2F Shangrila Plaza (Pasig City)

The next hour was spent reading the book I brought with me.  I found the articles truly engaging and I even chuckled several times only to find a guy who was two tables away staring at me with that amused look on his face. 

At that moment I decided to leave the coffee shop and proceed with my other errands for the day.  And was off to another mall.

After going around Megamall to purchase the needed household items, I wanted to continue reading the book and found this spot right in the middle of Building A.  I ordered for a cup of cappuccino and immediately dived into the bookmarked page.

Once again I enjoyed this relative silence and decided to take some more pictures.  That was the only time I realized I was in the same coffee shop though this time, I'm in a different location.

 Same coffee shop found at 2F Building A, Megamall

 Same coffee shop located at Megamall

So you say you want some peace and quiet?  
A nice coffee shop can be a cozy place to find one's desired solitude but only if you visit early in the morning.  

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

When your writing problem is not so much about writing

We are all book-lovers at home although it would be safe to say that each one has her own taste  when it comes to often-preferred books to read.  Each one has her own shelf for these preferred books, the ones we really protect from any form of  'calamity'...

I was surprised when Kim told me she borrowed my book on writing.  I must have mastered the art of thinking aloud that when I turned to face her with a running question: "which book is Kim referring to? Which among those books?" at the back of my mind, she hastily replied: "that small book, Ma. The book for writers' churvah…"  

"Ah the writer's-portable-therapist book", was all I said, as an image of the small book came to my mind.  I remembered buying that book from Booksale hoping this might help me overcome my difficulty in writing feature articles.  But I forgot to mention to her that after reading the Introduction, I got stuck in that part and actually forgot about it until she mentioned it that day.  That was a week ago.

Yoda & Mowgli at dusk (2011)
Early this evening I was telling Kim I found it really hard to concentrate in my writing with two of the male cats (Yoda and Uban) literally shouting out their voices as if they are performing a rock concert.  At first I found their meowing sound a bit funny because they did a lot of combination of tones, from a simple growl to what seemed to be some sort of vocalization - of high notes and very low ones.  However, it became irritating after several days of hearing them go through this kind of 'vocalization' the whole day.  And I was starting to suffer tension headaches whenever I hear Yoda and Uban perform these numbers. 

This time I asked Kim to help me clean up the wound I saw in Yoda's jaw as this might be the reason he is creating those loud sounds.  Maybe he is in pain, I told her.  I couldn't treat the wounds of our pets without getting stressed out, which according to my daughters, are also felt by our pets.  And so when I make this request, they know I am already getting pissed off and I couldn't treat Yoda's wound  with a cool head. 

Just before dinner, Kim handed me the book she borrowed last week and told me, no, she instructed me to read it because she thinks I need to read it to help me reconnect with writing once again.  She told me that reading just a few chapters already helped her get on with her own short stories.

And so while Kim was cleaning up Yoda's wound, I pulled up a chair and started reading the first chapter of this book.  The following paragraphs suddenly caught my attention:

"(…)There are many different causes of writing problems as there are writers.  Writing is hard work.  As a licensed psychotherapist, I work with all types of writers at every level (…) I have dealt with every kind of personal, professional, and psychological problem that writers can experience.

When writers feel discourages, depressed, or demoralized, it's often the result of outside circumstances such as not being able to get work, not being able to sell the work, not being able to make a living through writing, or not being able to get an agent.  Rather than focus on writing problems, my clients and I work on solutions.  Together, we develop personal action plans and set writing goals.  We search for successful strategies to be proactive rather than inactive.  We also work together to raise the writer's self-esteem and to transform negative, self-defeating beliefs into positive ones." (Excerpt from Introduction of The Writer's Portable Therapist book, p. xi)

After reading this I thought of opening a new file using WordPad.  Then found myself typing automatically.  After having typed three paragraphs it suddenly dawned on me that earlier this evening a friend texted me asking if I am free on November 16 - 17 for some writing job.  I hastily replied that yes, I am free and would like to take on this job.  Well, I've been in-between jobs for the past couple of weeks.

I don't know what happened here tonight but looks like I will be reading more chapters of this book in the next few days.  I am just about to finish the Introduction part but here I am -- already able to post this blog ... after almost a month of not being able to write anything.  I feel a lot better although Yoda still continues to vocalize at the top of his voice.  Perhaps we will have to check on Yoda's wound again tomorrow and continue treating it ... pay more attention to other concerns and perhaps go out to visit that art shop I saw the other day, check on new arrivals at my favorite book store, and find time to reconnect with my journal notebooks again.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The impulse to write

Nobody ever asked me about it before but sometimes I stop to think about what it is that makes me want to write.  Have you every thought about this before?

Several answers came to my mind.

  • I write even on small scrap of paper or a tissue for future reference - some scribbles I can look back to when I write about a topic that may be related to what I was thinking at a particular time.
  • I write things that I want to understand and to remember.  I read it somewhere that each one of us has a particular learning style.  Some learn better when they can hear things spoken.  While some of us prefer to read silently, those in this category prefer to read things out loud. Some are more visual-oriented and prefer to draw or see diagrams and illustrations that describe something. Others, like me, learn more by doing and I include writing as part of the act of 'doing'.
  •  I feel that impulse to write something that came with my reverie while the thought is still fresh because I know that once the moment has passed it would be impossible to remember those fleeting thoughts that drop by every now and then.
There is also another instance when I really feel I want to write.  I want to describe it this way:
If you noticed it, there is no such thing as 'talking block'.  Yes, we often hear someone say he or she is having a writer's block but not a problem with wanting to say something.  We may not be able to speak this out loud but the flow of thoughts, some sort of an internal conversation continues.
There could also be times when you yourself are taken by surprise by the quality of thought that is running at the back of your mind and make you exclaim: "Hey, that sounds good! Why haven't I thought about it before!"
And then you suddenly grab a pen and try to capture that image or flow of thoughts on a piece of paper.  Others may find it convenient doing this on their IPad or laptop or a netbook, whatever gadget that is available to them.

Now I am thinking how my voice recorder could aid me in doing this.  I would like to experiment on that -- using a voice recorder to capture fleeting thoughts and transcribe them later.

Monday, October 10, 2011

An experiment in using the Dynamic View template for your blog

For today's blogging schedule, I will be writing a blog post on the same topic as one of my most popular posts. I still don't consider myself a techie when it comes to these things and this is only the second time for me to write about a similar topic.  Well truth is I enjoy sharing things I learn here, especially in blogging, so I guess it won't be that hard to write about it.  I hope this helps improve your blogging experience while using Blogger.  

Now let me ask you a few questions:

Are you bored with how your blog looks like?

Would you like your blogsite to look a little different without necessarily going through a lot of effort?

Are you someone who loves to tinker around gadgets, changing the background of your blogsite, and enjoys trying out those various menu options that has been offered for bloggers like us?

I replied "yes" to at least two of these questions. 

This is how my site looks like for the past week.

Yes, it looks cool! 

And no, I am not bored with it.  

I just wanted to make a few more tweaks on this site when I went to the "Design" menu.  I had no intention to make any major change in the design at all.  But when I saw that there was a new option on the "Template" menu, my ever curious mind urged me to click on the new option and give it a try.  That's the one highlighted below.

Yes, that's the "Dynamic View" option.  

Guided by my curiousity, I clicked on the Dynamic View and found several more options.  I saw lined up at the bottom of the box the following new options: "Classic", "Flipcard", "Mosaic", "Sidebar", "Snapshot", and "Timeslide".  You have to click on each one to see them appear in your blog. 

Feeling more daring than usual, I tried using the "Classic" option last Friday.  Then the following day I decided to try the "Flipcard" option to see how it's going to look like.  Although I enjoyed seeing all my blog posts in one page, again I wanted to try using the other options, too.  So later in the afternoon, I shifted to using the Timeslide option.  And this is how it looks like.

That was truly amazing!  With just one click your Home page could look different and more interesting, I would say.  When you click on a particular Post Title, you will also find that reading your blog is much easier because of its "clean" look. 

I enjoyed playing around with this new addition to the menu options being provided by Blogger to people who are always seeking for something new not only on the blog content, but also on the physical layout of one's blog site.  

If you are a curious blogger like me, I guess at this point you are now getting interested to give it a try.  If you are then the first thing to do is to look for the "Design" menu.  You can find this in the upper right corner of your page.  Have you found it now? Okay, just go and click it.  Then once you are there, choose "Template" and then you will find the "Dynamic View" option right in the middle of the page.  

It's quite easy to make a few experiments here since it won't affect your blogsite yet until you click on "Apply to Blog" option.  And even if you already did and you want to go back to your previous template, you can always go back to "Design", then you will find at the uppermost line the option to revert back to your previous template before you made the change to Dynamic View.  

Why don't you give it a try?  And please don't forget to post your comments below if there was anything I missed in the procedure I mentioned here.  Of course, I would appreciate any comment from you.  

Oh by the way, you may be wondering why I am back to my previous template.  I reverted it back to make sure that I could easily go back to my old template and then back to the new one so I can share with you every bit of new knowledge I get from this experiment.   

Thanks for visiting! Hope you enjoy working on your own experiment, too!

Friday, October 7, 2011

What 5 books have influenced you the most?

I've lived with books since I was a kid.  I was lucky enough to have parents who showered us with reading materials -- children's books, illustrated comics, 'condensed books', Reader's Digest, Women magazine, Liwayway, and volumes of encyclopedia.  

We also had reel tapes of audio recorded fairy tales and nursery rhymes, Greek mythology and bible stories.  While nowadays, you will find cassette tapes, CDs, and even DVDs easily in any store in your neighborhood, but in the 60s these did not even enter our imagination.  During those years, a reel tape recorder/player was considered a luxurious item since nobody among my friends in our hometown had experienced listening to stories being read by someone they haven't seen nor met before. 

Over the years books became my constant companion, some of which I've re-read at least for the second time.  I have selected what I consider the most influential ones as these were able to shape and change the way I view things in life.

1.  Heidi

I've read this book when I was in grade school. I love sitting in one corner of our house where nobody can disturb me as I got so caught up with this story of a young girl who grew up with her grandparents somewhere in the Alps. 

At that time I didn't know why I loved this book so much.  It was several years later that I began to realize the reason for this: Heidi, the main character in the story, had similar experiences to what I had in my growing up years.  I cried with her and also laughed at funny episodes in this book.  While it may have been a fiction story but for me, it was all so real.  The snow-covered mountains, the goats, and everything else in this book were all real.  This book kept me company in those lonely nights of being away from my family who were in Manila at that time.

This book found me sometime in 1999, a time when I was in a crossroad on what to do with my career and how to go about with my life.  This book helped me know more about what made me happy, what things I want to accomplish, and what I really want to become.  It contained several exercises to help you go through this process until you become more acquainted with what the author is talking about, that making a difference can really make a difference in your life.  I love that moment when I was able to come up with my own Personal Mission Statement after going through layers of uncovering my inmost dreams, values, and desires in life.  

Up to this moment, I still go back to crafting my Weekly Plan as a guide on how to go about each day of the week.  But sometimes I forget to do this.  The moment I feel 'lost' and seem to be just going through the motions of life, that's my signal to reconnect with my Mission Statement and draw up a Weekly Plan once again.

If you have read this book probably you would agree when I say that this is one hell of an adventure story.  But after reading the first few chapters, I came to realize that there was so much more to the main story line that can make you stop and think whenever there are parallel stories that makes each insight resonate inside your being.  

I've shared this book with other friends several times.  It's nice to know that even if this book is not returned back, I am often told that the friend I've lent it to has also lent it to another friend, and that other friend also lent it to another friend.  I think I have bought three copies of this book already and I kept the 3rd copy with me, as reading it on New Year's eve has become part of my rituals.

As I have often mentioned in my other blog posts, I have been a journal writer since I was in high school.  Writing journals served me different purposes: it acted as a 'spleen' where I can pour all my anguish and sorrow; a dear friend who would listen attentively to anything and everything I write on it.

This book showed me many ways of appreciating my journal collections by teaching me how to uncover the underlying thread that connects several stories I have written.  That even a blank page with only the date on it still had a lot of stories being told...that all I need to do is to find time to remember the details, and continue with the story that was unwritten at that particular time. 

I am sure other journal writers would also love this book. 

5. ... I guess I will take a pause here first as I am still trying to select the 5th book to include in this list.  I intend to update this post the moment I have selected which among my other favorite books it will be. 

Perhaps you may want to check on the links I have provided for each book.  All you have to do is hover your cursor on the book title, click on it and that should take you to a site that provides some background information about the book. 

Thanks for visiting and I hope you enjoyed reading this blog post.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Three amazing things we learned from our pets

Have you ever noticed that when you start sharing stories with another pet lover (I assume that you also love your pets as you seem to enjoy telling stories about them) several hours may pass without you realizing it?

That's exactly what happens when I meet up with friends who also have pets and we start updating each other on what's been happening with our animal companions at home.  We share our joy, the warmth, and sometimes sad feelings when our pets get sick. 

We decided to have our very first pet cats when my eldest daughter came home after visiting her grandmother, carrying with her a huge box as her surprise for us.  When we opened the box, we discovered two beautiful kittens - one was all black and the other one was all white.  Black and white!!!  

The first time I left for a 2-week training in Bukidnon, that was also the first time my two daughters will be left by themselves to take care of the 2 kittens.  When I came back, they suddenly remarked, "Ma, we just learned that we need to feed the kittens pala.  All the while we thought they just grow up the way they should."  I just smiled when I heard this because sure enough, each day when I get home from work, these two girls always had new stories to tell about their experience with the new tiny kittens who came to conquer our home. 

A few months later and after several visits to the vet, my eldest daughter commented that having pets is not for everyone.  She added that there is so much responsibility attached to our decision to have pets at home. It also changed their daily schedule as one of them need to be home to feed the 2 kittens at particular times of the day.  There were changes indeed in our daily routines but this was something all of us embraced openly and without any second thoughts. 

Since that day Turkey (the black cat) and Wabbit (the white cat) came to live with us, they have taught us a lot of lessons on how to care for and live with them.  For this blog post, these three things I am sharing with you are what you may consider 'tip of the iceberg' among the many wonderful things our pets have taught us and continue to be teaching us.

1.  Lady dogs can give birth to puppies of different 'dads'.  Yes, in one same litter.

The first time, Ducky gave birth to 5 puppies.

For a long time we've been wondering why Ducky's litter had different features.  Well, they didn't look exactly like her. There were 3 'white ones' and 2 'brown ones', as you can see in the photo above.

We learned from one of our neighbors that female dogs have 'separate compartments' in their reproductive system and that, according to her, allows them to carry babies formed with more than one male dog.  I am not sure how true this is but there was another friend who mentioned the same thing.

2.  Among male cats (we got 6 of them at home), the one who becomes the 'alpha male' is not only the strongest and biggest in size but also grows a stronger jaw muscle and neck.

Turkey, our first black cat, used to be the recognized leader among our pet cats.  He has his way of instilling discipline among them, taught them how to use the litter box, where to drink water, and many other things that really amazed us.  We even called him 'Turkey Sensei' because he revealed to us an intelligence that's so hard to describe with words.  He passed away more than a year ago.

After Turkey, Mowgli asserted to be the alpha male.  Nobody seemed to question this for a long time (except one cat named Yoda).  Mowgli soon grew bigger and his jaws also became stronger and more rounded.  
Yoda was named "Yoda" because when he was still a kitten he couldn't hold his head up very well and keeps babbling his head instead. He looked so frail that I was often protective of him whenever Mowgli dares him for a fight.

Over the past months, Yoda continued to defend himself to Mowgli's assertion as the alpha male. The photo below shows these two cats having  one of these episodes.

Mowgli (standing on the roof) and Yoda having a 'growling' argument at dusk.

Then recently I noticed that Yoda does not seem to be afraid of Mowgli anymore.  I can hear him fighting back...and was soon starting to assert himself, too.  He became bigger (while Mowgli became somewhat slimmer in size) and started to have bigger jaw as well.

3.  Cats, and dogs, are very sensitive to human emotions and  well-being.

Whenever I get sick with a high fever, I wake up in the middle of the night to find at least 5 of our 10 pet cats sleeping or lying around me.  They make me feel warm and secured. 

Now here's another story.  Wabbit, our white cat, loves to stay outdoors.  After eating his meal, you will often find him walking around the neighborhood or sitting on top of our neighbor's firewall.  This is why I am always surprised when he suddenly jumps on top of my table (while I am working at home) and lie down right beside the laptop. But this only happens when I really feel so sad.  Well, amidst my busy schedule, I also get the blues every now and then.  Wabbit wouldn't  leave this spot until I assure him that I am feeling okay.

While I am writing this blog post Wabbit has been sitting on my lap, listening to the music by Allison Kraus.  I guess he could sense that I am writing about him here. I wonder if other pets are also like our pets here at home.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Ideas for future blog posts

As early as February (this year) I made a list of what I wanted to write about for the next couple of months.  That was my attempt to send a signal to my subconscious to help me gather related information to those topics as I go about with my daily routines.

For strange reasons I couldn't find that list in my files now.  Although coming up with this list is much easier now, I still had to choose topics from similar lists drawn up by other bloggers and from WordPress to motivate struggling bloggers like me to continue posting in our blog sites.

After going through this 'selection process', I finally came up with this list, which I hope will keep me going in the next six weeks.  It's actually more of a menu than a chronological list since all I need is a spark, an inspiring thought to push me to writing something I want to share with you. 

  1. What 5 Books Have Influenced You The Most?
  2. What does 'home' mean to you?
  3. The stronger pull
  4. About 'alternative universe'
  5. The impulse to write
  6. What the purpose of my website is, who I am and why my blog is unique?
  7. Answer one question I think people visiting my blog may have.
  8. Write a blog post on the same topic as one of my most popular posts.
  9. Share a photo I took this week and tell you about it.
  10. Embed a legal youtube clip that I either found today or created myself. Then tell everyone about the clip and related information.
  11. Create a blog post on a subject I’ve never blogged about here before.
  12. Share hints or details of what I intend to write about in the future.

Have you got any topic suggestion?  Please feel free to post it as Comments below.

    Friday, September 23, 2011

    Coming full circle

    True enough, when you know what you are looking for, the universe will conspire to give you all the support to attain this. - Anonymous

    Yes, I am still here with my Post A Week Challenge.  This is my 3rd blog post since I started, or should I say, re-started blogging again.  Breaking a 'habit' of posting here only when I am in the mood to write is one of the challenges I need to get over with.  It's not good, I know, and it doesn't align with what I want to achieve this year.  But I have memorized several 'alibis' for not writing regularly which include:

    • Having a writer's block
    • Too busy catching up a deadline with an ongoing project
    • Too busy being depressed about something I don't remember now
    • Not knowing what topic would interest visitors in this blogsite
    • Having a sore throat or something (what has this got to do with writing?)
    • And many other reasons my creative mind could come up with ...

    I became so good in procrastinating and started to believe that these are good enough  reasons for not blogging.

    And so after making a commitment to post at least two times a week, I had to come up with very strong and powerful justification for this commitment.  There were two things that came to my mind --

    One of these is my desire to develop a discipline to write in the manner I am most comfortable with -- intuitive and structured.  That's not supposed to be hard, isn't it?  While this may sound a bit paradoxical, it's actually a matter of knowing what you want to write about and allowing your fingers to do the typing and the work for you.  That's the way I wrote my blogposts for the past years.  But soon I found out that this practice of "having no idea what I will be writing next and when this is going to be posted" can only work when you are brimming with so many thoughts and ideas that can feed your blog for an entire year.  It doesn't work when you are going through some 'dry spell' in your writing.  One needs to prepare for those 'dry spell' as well.

    That is the kind of discipline I want to develop in writing -- being able to write even when you experience that not-so-creative feeling inside yourself.

    The second one is the realization that for the past decades, I have actually been into many things.  On the professional side, I have experienced working full-time as a development worker for at least two decades and became a freelance researcher-writer-trainer-consultant for almost nine years up to now. 

    My personal life is also filled with stories on single parenting or stories of how it is to live with more than ten animal companions at home (as of now we have ten pet cats and three dogs).  

    But what's the point? How do I organize those topics for blogging?  What kind of message can I write in my blog?  This is the second point I want to learn, to achieve in doing this challenge.  I want to find my message.  This thought came to me after I chanced upon this article "How to Find Your Message and Stand Out."   I enjoyed reading it and used it as a guide in identifying possible topics and the kind of message or messages I can share with target readers.

    Beaming with excitement, I shared this exercise with my youngest daughter who is also into blogging.  She suggested I write down these topics, with one topic written on a piece of paper, and draw out one piece everytime I need to write an article for this blog. 

    I did exactly what Kim suggested.  I now have a list that I will be sharing with you in my next blog.

    Tuesday, September 20, 2011

    Raving for UP Pep Squad

    "Sporting blonde hair and effortlessly executing lifts Madonna-inspired routines, the UP Pep Squad danced their way to the 2011 Samsung Cheerdance Competition title, beating injury-hit De Salle Animo Squad and FEU Cheering Squad for their second straight crown." (The Philippine Star)

    Since the UP Pep Squad won champion in the recent UAAP Cheer Dance Competition, I haven't stopped talking about it.  I felt so proud and excited in describing their routine to anyone interested to listen.

    I watched the competition on live stream since I wasn't able to buy a ticket to watch it live.   When the first runner-up was announced, I heard the crowd chanting "U-nibersidad ng Pilipinas! U-nibersidad ng Pilipinas!" although it was De la Salle University that got this second place.  Everyone was already anticipating for UP to be declared the winner.  And when UP Pep Squad was finally announced the champion, even those from other universities were also chanting "U-nibersidad ng Pilipinas! U-nibersidad ng Pilipinas!" Goose bumps and teary-eyed ako talaga.  I couldn't explain why.

    After showing the video to my youngest daughter, I was surprised to notice how cool she was while watching it.  I was hoping she would be as excited as I am, but instead this is what she said: 

    Daughter:  They should have reduced the number of members in the pep squad para hindi kalat ang kanilang performance (so that their movements is more synchronized).

    Me:  Oh (looking at her with an amazed look) but they look very synchronized to me.

    Daughter:  Okay, yah, there are instances that they are able to move as one but there are many instances that they are not... (and she went back to clearing the dining table as if wala lang :-))

    Me:  Hmmm ... (thinking to myself: I think they did it perfectly well.  What's wrong with my daughter? ... and continued watching the video)

    Daughter:  Hey Ma, (suddenly facing me) of course you couldn't see the imperfection and mistakes in their routine. (with a grin on her face)  That's your alma mater!  You are biased to your school!

    I was about to react to that but then I chose to smile instead because she was right.  I wouldn't be able to see any mistake and even if I did, I could easily find a justification for that.

    I want you to watch this video of the UP Pep Squad and see for yourself why I enjoy watching them over and over and still not getting over it.

    Friday, September 16, 2011

    Post a Week Challenge - Why I am doing it

    How did I start blogging?  What was it that inspired me to write and share my private journey through life to the public readers?

    I have been a journal writer for quite a long time; I've been writing since I was in high school.  But these remained "for my eyes only" and took it as a violation of my rights to privacy when I find out that someone has been sneaking on my journal notebooks.

    Although for some people I appear to be an extrovert, an easy-go-lucky type of person, but the truth is I am more inclined to keep things to myself, keeping private the thoughts that accompany me in all of my undertakings in life. 

    Then there came a time when I realized that sharing them with others not only relieved my anxieties of being unable to meet up to my perfectionist standards on myself.  These conversations opened up my eyes to the reality that I wasn't alone in this journey.  There are many others traversing parallel paths to the one I chose to take.  Most of them even have crossed my path several times.

    Opening up my private thoughts about what I experienced in life was, at first, a scary step to take. Later on, with constant encouragement from friends, and the impact this had on me and also to those I've shared stories with, I decided to start blogging.

    As I have mentioned in my very first blog post, the book Leaving A Trace pushed me further to continue writing and sharing these thoughts and writings in public.

    While writing in my journal notebooks came easy for me, publishing them for a public reader was not THAT easy at all.  I still continued to keep handwritten journals while striving to build this blog site as some sort of an online journal.  Statistics on blogs I've posted here compared to what I have written in my journal notebooks is so incomparable.  While I now have an additional ten journal notebooks filled with handwritten stories and insights from reflections, I was only able to post around 42 blogs for the past 5 years!!!  I even had only one entry posted in 2010. 

    I want to be a writer.  And a good one at that.

    I want to write a book, lots of it.  But to become what I want to be and do things I really want to do I know I need to overcome these challenging obstacles to blogging regularly.  As somebody once told me, the only way to conquer my fear is to do exactly what I fear most.

    With this in mind, I decided to take this challenge -- to blog regularly and more frequently, and conquer whatever fear I have in writing and in writing for a public reader. 

    I intend to post twice a week for the remaining months of 2011.  I want to beat my track record of blogs posted in 2008 and push all these fears away, too.

    Wednesday, July 20, 2011

    Taking a breather

    snapshot talk is all i can write today
    got so many thoughts stored up inside my head
    but this don't even sound like a haiku at all

    am just resting my mind
    from all these paperworks
    that seem like a 10k marathon of sorts

    Monday, March 14, 2011

    I stand in awed silence ...

    I was in the middle of a meeting, sharing stories with long-time friends at UP Diliman last Friday afternoon when suddenly a colleague came rushing to inform us of the news that there was an earthquake in Japan with an 8.9 magnitude.  We were told that because of this, a tsunami was expected to happen within the next few minutes.  Before this news sunk in, we heard that a 10-meter high water, a tsunami has just hit the shores of the northeastern part of Japan.

    An hour later, another news came that the eastern coast here in the Philippines was already on Alert Level 2 - meaning, residents in these coastal communities will be advised to evacuate to higher grounds.  Then was thinking of my hometown, which is located in one of the provinces mentioned...

    Watching the news was really heartbreaking.  But more than anything else, I was, I am truly impressed and amazed to see how the Japanese people responded to this disaster.  Truly admirable and made me bow with full respect.  The discipline and order, their automatic response, the humility, the steadfastness, and everything else gave me layers of mixed feelings.

    I am thinking aloud here. Please allow me to digress a bit and set  aside what I originally intended to write in this post.  There is something else that wants to be articulated.

    It feels quite different, a restless feeling, when you watch the news of what was happening in Japan and you have dear friends in that country and you want to know how they are and really wish you could be with them in this crisis ... 

    Aside from the news stories that's been seen and heard on TV and through the internet, I started to have additional insights to what was happening there as I read stories shared through the email from friends who are out there.

    As one narrated:

    Friday was the scariest day in my life.  Our office building was shaking so much and for a long time.  But thanks to the engineers and designers of this building that it was earthquake-resistant.  In any other country, the building would have collapsed.  That is why Tokyo is still in tact.  But the cities near the epicenter of the earthquake are all destroyed.

    For 12 hours, Tokyo was almost shut -- no trains, no busies, no taxies, traffic jam everywhere ...  had to stay at the office the whole night.

    Another friend shared:

    Here in Tokyo, there was no physical damage.  But because of the emergency situation, all public transport stopped and electricity did not work properly.  People working had to go back home on foot.  Some of the public places such as universities, metropolitan offices, hotels, opened their spaces for the people who could not go home that night.  Some people stayed in public places and only went home the following day.  Luckily, I was able to go home on foot without problems.

    And I could relate very well to what she must be going through when she mentioned towards the end of her letter:

    ... However, what I am thinking right now is that human beings are very small and can do the least in front of the power of nature.  There are many things that are out of our control.  I sincerely hope there would not be anymore severe incidents ...

    Japan is teaching us a lot of things.  Their culture and way of life, the discipline, engineering and design of the physical structures, modern technology, the people's relationship with nature, the drills that need to become part of daily life, the preparedness for this kind of disaster ...

    ... and the RESILIENCE while in the midst of this situation.

    Yes, we need to learn from this.  Let us allow this experience to remind us to take NATURE, the Mother EARTH into consideration in anything we do.  We are not just individuals in our community, in our own country.  We are global citizens, too, and we need to remember that we are all connected.

    I'd like to join Paulo Coelho in praying for Japan.