Before I dive right into you

Before I dive right into you

I had brunch with a guy on Sunday, and what was meant to be just a breakfast sandwich turned into a four conversation. And pizza. Oh and juice - who knew mango and basil is a great combination, right? Really refreshing.

He sat at a table in the shade, there was no one else at the cafe so he was easy to spot. His dimples were unmistakable too, I liked it when he smiled. It can be a bit awkward meeting someone for the first time, and I found myself talking faster than usual. When I realised this, I took a deep breathe and relaxed, and that’s when conversation flowed.

There’s that word again, flow. Lately it’s been popping up regularly on my social media, in conversations with people and sometimes, even at 3am when I’m bed. It asks me to look at my life in a way I’ve never seen it before. So, what does it mean to go with the flow?

It starts with walking in my truth, hand-in-hand with the weird part of me that kind of hides away in the corner in social situations. Especially in Peru - where I’m both free to be who I am, yet still feeling my way through an introverted culture. There are times when I feel too loud, too energetic - sometimes even too independent.

Ciao 2018! Thanks for the lessons on life and men who love pizza

Ciao 2018! Thanks for the lessons on life and men who love pizza

Choices and making them isn’t something I paid much attention to. A lot of the time I’ve just winged it and in some ways it’s served me well. I mean it got me as far as Peru, right? Then this big shift happened and it changed the way I saw myself and everything that was around me. What if my future isn’t something that happens on the other side of sleep, because that “future” is happening right now.

We’ve heard it all before, and it answers to different names. Someday, one day, could have, should have...even tomorrow. A lot of 2018 for me was spent in retrospect about the last two years, and how I was convinced that I “had to heal myself” to move on. Then I realised that each time I chose to do things that made me happy, to love myself more, it was greatly influencing the life I was creating for myself. When you let go of judgement (both of yourself and others) it asks you address the last emotional triggers that keep you from flying.

A Man, A Plan, A Canal, Panama

A Man, A Plan, A Canal, Panama

Did you learn about palindromes as a kid? As a lover of linguistics, I often wondered if other languages had them too. Let’s be clear about this post - I’m very much still a woman and don’t worry Mum, I promise that I am in Peru. At lunch, we actually walked past a canal, and as far as plans go, this trip is really teaching me to go with the flow. Synchronicity is the Universe’ way to reassure you they’ve got your back.

Travelling has always been a transformative experience for me, usually in a phase of my life where I craved change. We are not made to stay stationary (although it may feel like that at times), and when I have resisted that, the Universe steps in, guiding me back to my purpose. When I landed in Peru on Friday, I knew this is where I needed to be honest, and I can’t really tell you why.

How To Prepare Your Heart And Mind For Travel

How To Prepare Your Heart And Mind For Travel

People ask me everyday, “Are you excited about Peru?”

I’m so excited about traveling that my body is literally sick with anticipation. My eating habits are all whack, sleeping patterns are more like naps of doom, and don’t even talk to me about ‘the list’. It’s not like I’m getting cold feet, more like I wish this was a spontaneous trip so I can just pack my bag and disappear already.

Here’s the thing, as a frequent solo traveller, I’m used to these pre-travel jitters. You just have to ride it out and check yourself before you wreck yourself. Before leaving on my bigger adventures, there's a mental health checklist I go through to make sure that I have my heart and mind ready before flying out.

An Eclectic List Of What Makes Me Happy

An Eclectic List Of What Makes Me Happy

I went out last night, and spent most of today napping between my bed and the couch. Confession time - I gave up drinking over ten years ago, so I couldn’t blame it on a hangover. Oh, and I also went home earlier than the others (I was in my snuggly PJs by 1am). I reheated my leftover nachos mince for lunch (my first meal of the day), and since I had no plans to move much today, I made the executive decision that I could procrastinate going to the supermarket for another day.

If my Mum is reading this, yes I did get out of bed long enough to feed the cat. Since no human life depended on me that warranted staying out of bed, I embraced the Italian philosophy of ‘Dolce far Niente’, which means ‘the sweetness of doing nothing’. It doesn’t mean being lazy, it refers to the pleasure you get from being idle.

You can say that this is an eclectic collection of thoughts and musings of what I’ve learned about life and love over the last two years. Here’s to the old me, who I am today, and the adventures yet to come...let’s drink to that!

An Open Letter
To The Woman In
My Twenties

An Open Letter <br>To The Woman In <br>My Twenties

Time goes so fast, right? I still can’t believe I’m writing this in my thirties. Thirties! I look in the mirror every day and I swear this face doesn’t age the way my bones have. Oh I miss that youthful energy, enjoy that girlfriend, and don’t take it for granted. Before you get to meet me, you’re going to live through some of the best highlights and most profound lessons we need to learn together. Are you ready?

Why I'm Moving
To Peru

Why I'm Moving <br>To Peru

Maybe I’m hoping Peru is my version of people going to India to find themselves.

I do have a return ticket, so technically my eight months away may not ring with the same permanence as a one-way ticket. This I know is true, I would rather go now and find out for sure, than to spend the rest of my life wondering what-if.

Rain has been relentless this weekend, yet somehow I managed to drag myself out of hibernation and socialise. I also finally emptied my storage unit, which really just means that all ‘my stuff’ is now in my parents’ garage. Does it mean that after almost two years, I’ve officially moved back in? Useful things I’ve found in my plastic bins include: Thick and wooly socks, a scarf, two reams of blank A4 paper and the instruction manual to my GoPro Hero4. The real work starts when I start sorting them out - wish me luck!

By the way, have you watched the movie, Call Me By Your Name, from the book by André Aciman? I need to read the book, but what a beautiful story. At the core of the storyline is a love story, though maybe not in the way you would assume it to play out. It didn’t end with a ‘happy ending’ for the lovers, and I would have been disappointed if it did. You see, even though the main character was left rejected and heartbroken, I admired him for being able to talk about how he felt. Ironically, even as a writer, telling someone how I feel about them while they’re still in my life isn’t easy. Talking in front of a large crowd won’t phase me, but each time I stared into their eyes, words escape me.

Positive Changes Don't Always Feel Good

In early January I wrote a poem called Summer Rain - the idea literally came to me as a sudden sun shower came out from nowhere. The first verse came quick, but the rest of the poem took over two weeks to write. Or maybe, I was just scared to write with so much honesty.

Who was the poem about? An unrequited love? Not quite. More like someone who was a band aid to the bouts of loneliness I go through. Which isn’t as often, or last as long as the early days. It’s one of the few poems where I had allowed myself to be truly vulnerable, and it takes a lot for me to keep my emotions from spilling over when I perform it.

Oh, Be Brave Little One. Be Brave.

Oh, Be Brave Little One. Be Brave.

I’m going to set the scene for you…

I’m smiling as I write this. Lunch was a few hours ago, but I feel like my food baby will stick around until tomorrow. I can hear the clanger of cutlery so dinner must be soon, I smell noodles, not sure I want to eat just yet though. So, I write.

It’s a few hours until my 35th birthday, last year I spent the majority of it travelling over the Tasman Sea as I made my way to Melbourne. My book was almost finished, in fact I added another chapter. The truth is that we never really know great sadness, or happiness, until we get there. Then another moment comes along that may surpass it - what seemed like the end of the world (or the giddiest of heights), well, isn’t forever.

I’m trying to live in the moment, for the best moments are now.

What You Think You Are Seeking Will Not Complete You

What You Think You Are Seeking Will Not Complete You

Over the weekend, I took a walk in the Whirinaki Forest. Apart from needing to get my dose of nature’s remedy - I also wanted to find a quiet place to have a conversation with myself, to ground and make peace with something I’ve held onto for too long. April is my birthday month after all - I’ll be turning 35, and this one feels light years different than the last. It feels hopeful, the last couple of years seemed like so many things in my life ended, this time feels like I’m finally seeing the big picture.

Two days ago, I was dreaming about an erupting volcano for what felt like a split second before my 5am alarm clock kicked in. It was dark, maybe night time because everything was in silhouette, it also took me awhile to realise that in front of me was an erupting volcano. I could see the lava flow from the crater, but not close enough to feel the heat. I watched my head begin to turn away before the shriek of my alarm woke me up.

Loving Yourself Isn't A Catchphrase Set In A Beautiful Typeface

Loving Yourself Isn't A Catchphrase Set In A Beautiful Typeface

Loving yourself isn’t a catchphrase set in a beautiful typeface, it’s a conscious decision to be OK with being you. Being happy despite your flaws. Feeling gratitude for all of what life offers. Embracing the lessons, especially when you did the total opposite of your mother’s advice because you thought you knew better. Best of all, it’s knowing your worth, and placing a high value on your heart. And theirs. If you want to give your heart to someone, and I mean real emotional investment, start with yourself. That means they will get the best version of you, and they can give you the best version of them.

What The Movie 'Passengers' Taught Me About Being In The Moment

What The Movie 'Passengers' Taught Me About Being In The Moment

They say that life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans. As I prepare to go traveling in South America in 2018, the lives of my friends and family will go on. What am I prepared to miss out on in pursuit of where I think I need to be? What if I realised that what I was chasing on the other side of the world was here all along? That my lack of contentment is that deep down, I’m afraid to let people in because it makes me vulnerable?

What Happens After The Hurt? Three Ways To Make Space For The New

What Happens After The Hurt? Three Ways To Make Space For The New

Here’s a question for you - what happens after you’ve removed yourself from the space of hurt but you haven’t moved on...yet? I ask because I’m there, sort of just treading water, not wanting to lose sight of land, but the excitement of what is beyond the horizon calls me too. Wait, isn’t that the plot of Moana? I’m no island princess, but New Zealand is an island, well islands, and leaving these shores is all I’ve been looking forward to since I made that decision last year.

I think when you reach that place, that’s when you have to decide what you’re going to keep and what you need to let go. Are you a traveller that packs the bare essentials, or do you pack for every single scenario then get there and realise you’re still only going to wear the same five pieces of clothing anyway.

Holding on to emotional baggage is just as heavy and self-sabotaging, so here are three ways I learned to let go of what no longer served me so that I can make space for the life I truly want.

Don't Make Loneliness Your Moat - Learning To Play With Others

Don't Make Loneliness Your Moat - Learning To Play With Others

I think there’s a big difference between being independent and wanting to do everything on your own. Being independent means, that yes, you are quite capable of doing things on your own (and probably kicking ass at that!), but you don’t assume that you’re the only person that can do those things, or that your way is the only way to do it. That’s your ego making you out to be a boss, when really, it just isolates you. There’s a great sense of pride to finish a project on your own, but you may be burned out at the end of it too! Help is all around you, it’s when we don’t allow others to give that goodness that we begin to feel isolated and lonely.

The Reality of Fear

The Reality of Fear

F-E-A-R, a thought-provoking, four letter F word that walks alongside us can either be a barrier or the motivator. It depends on your perspective. Whether in life, love, your job or your self-image - to feel fear is a natural human instinct of perceived self-preservation. You see danger is real, we learn to identify it from an early age - it’s what stops us from putting our hands over a flame too long in case we get burned. Fear on the other hand is the seed planted in a way of thinking that clings on to the worst case scenario of the spectrum.

# 66 The Cultural Divide

# 66 The Cultural Divide

What I have to remember in all this is to keep living my truth. Taking on other people’s expectations of me, that’s a heavy burden to carry and impossible to live up to. I don’t want to live the rest of my days scared of disappointing people, because let’s face it, it’s going to happen anyway. When we label others, how we see them is biased while that person is in that bubble.

Peel away the labels and let go of the judgement. Take away the regrets but keep the lessons. Yeah, I think that’s a good place to start.

# 62 When The Ego Speaks

# 62 When The Ego Speaks

I cried...because I was tired, emotionally vulnerable and fear got the better of me. Not because he said anything mean or hurtful. He was right though, I got scared because whatever I thought I was looking for in him wasn’t there. I missed being in a relationship, and I was tired of waiting for ours to mould itself into the void my last one had left.

# 61 Playdough

# 61 Playdough

The date on phone tells me it’s 18 April - today’s my birthday! Facebook had reminded people it was my birthday and they have been steadily posting on my page all day. I'm on a plane somewhere over the Tasman Sea. You can say that I’ve spent my 34th birthday getting somewhere, as much as my 33rd was spent trying to run away from something. I don’t know what the next chapter of my story will be, for now, I just want a break from having to think so much.

#60 Still Falling For You

It’s that age old question - what’s the difference between being in love and loving someone?

I had this conversation with Ian (we met at his cousin’s wedding) - asking him what he thought the difference was between the two. Without hesitation, he said that to him, love is love. He didn’t see a difference between loving and being in love. It would have been easy to dismiss it. To him, if you love someone, being in love is how you share that with your partner. When you first start to date someone, that feeling of lust and constant desire to be in their orbit is normal.

What if love is all the same, and what we describe is how deeply we feel or receive that love?

I see being in love as the outward expression of emotional intimacy, not just the act of physical desire. It ebbs and flows throughout a relationship, and how we express this with our significant others is through intentional action. It can be a simple hug after a hard day, a kiss goodnight or a stolen moment in a sea of strangers. In this sense, don’t you then have to love someone first to be able to show that you’re in love with them?

Many see loving someone much like the responsible older sister of the more unpredictable act of being in love. To love is described as enduring, outlasting disappointments and frustrations, to compromise, as well as providing companionship, security and obviously someone to share your life with.

If being in love and to love someone are on opposite ends of the spectrum, then why do we use the word love at all in the former, couldn’t we have created a new word that describes “love” in its desired context?

As for the guy I’m dating, today we became ‘social media’ official. I hope to fall for him slowly - to make time to explore each other and to be genuinely curious. To love deeply and completely after a broken heart is a leap of faith - I hope he’s there to catch me when I do.
— STUCK: Friends, Lovers and the Obscurity of In Between

 

At the end of the day, regardless if we are describing a physical desire or a genuine emotional connection, it’s our intentional thoughts and actions that can develop those feelings beyond lust, to become our idea of love.

Sister, Sister

My older sister and I didn’t always see eye to eye growing up, most likely because there’s only 18 months between us but I didn’t have the same maturity level as her - and we’re also both strong-willed. Looking back are memories of endless arguments - she starts yelling, I start yelling, and tears and death stares soon follow. I resented how she would growl me for my life choices. As adults we have a different kind of relationship and a greater understanding of our differences.

We began talking about a guy I’m currently dating (the guy I met at my friend’s wedding). I was pretty surprised with her advice and insight.

I told her how he isn’t like most men I’ve dated this past year - so far out of the “normal” type of guys I’ve been attracted to. Don’t get me wrong, I find him physically attractive, yet I know what makes me stay late to talk to him on the phone (he lives overseas and currently two hours behind me) is because I find him very interesting, intriguing and he’s a really nice guy. My sister laughed, apparently it’s exactly how she felt when she first met her husband. Maybe it’s a sign of maturity - it’s certainly not the giddy kind of puppy love I remember in my twenties. Besides, really nice guys lasts much longer than a hot guy - put it this way, all the guys she thought that were hot aren’t in her life anymore.

Then I told her how I’m making life changes, and that by the end of this year I will be waking up to a very different reality. To have what we want, it has to have room in our lives to grow, and right now my life is saturated. She found that a lot of people go for success in their career and try to be super mums and super wives, just so they feel like they fit in the “normal” box. In reality it’s all just stress and busyness and affirmation from other people they get. By concentrating on one or two life priorities it has worked out much better for her and it also makes her care less about what other people think and expect.

“Not saying that you shouldn’t work if you want to be a mum, but just keep in mind that if you want to go hard out in your career, somewhere along the way it makes it harder to live up to being a “great” mum as well. It’s all about priorities and acceptance of the situation and consequence.” She’s right. In this phase of my life, I know I want children, so what in my current life am I willing to let go to make room for a family?

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t begrudge the situation at all. My heart felt lighter after I first told my Mum, so I know that it’s the right decision for me. By finally verbalising it, it feels real and I can focus my energy on my present.

As for the guy I’m dating, today we became ‘social media’ official. I hope to fall for him slowly - to make time to explore each other and to be genuinely curious. To love deeply and completely after a broken heart is a leap of faith - I hope he’s there to catch me when I do.

# 59 Don't Forget Your Roots

My relationship changed with my parents this past year - I’m grateful because I feel my separation became a catalyst to a more honest connection with them both, with my Mum especially. We don’t have to agree on everything, yet I’m not as quick to judge their perspective, or feel resentful that they may not agree with some of my life choices.

Being the child of migrant parents, born in the Philippines but raised overseas, I’m an awkward split of a generation. Even though I have spent most of my life in New Zealand, I’m still proudly Filipino. I don’t know what it is about us, but we are raised to be patriotic to the motherland. I don’t think I have met a Filipino who isn’t proud to be one.

As a child, I both respected and feared my parents. The repercussions of stepping out of line as an Asian kid is different to some cultures. You don’t just disrespect them - it has a ripple effect on your extended family too. To feel that my family were disappointed in me instilled a guilt far greater than I could ever impose on myself.

A big part of my upbringing is Westernised, and I guess that’s where my Mum and I have clashed in the past. As I got older, I learned to see and understand her point of view and how she has carried the burden of expectation of our culture, and our roles as mothers and nurturers. During those first weeks of moving back home, there were times I felt she was always in my personal space - asking where I was going, if I had eaten, what my schedule was. At first it was a point of contention between us because all I wanted to be was alone.

Pinoy ako - always have been, always will be.

 

I must have been a real cow back then - but she couldn’t give up. Someone had to save me from my own darkness. There’s no doubt in my mind that my parents love me unconditionally - even though we’ve had countless arguments, home was always a safe place to fall. I couldn’t even begin to imagine how different I would be if I couldn’t trust them like that. I have friends who don’t feel the same way about theirs and that’s sad. We always need someone in our corner to be help us tackle the sucker punches life throws at us.

They say that women who have a good relationship with their fathers have a higher chance of having healthy, loving relationships as adults. I remember when we first moved to Whakatane in my high school years, my Dad and I used to go fishing during mackerel season. We fished at a local wharf about fifteen minutes from home and would usually leave before sunrise. The mackerel came closest to the shore at dawn. There with our yellow rod, he and I would fish. OK, he fished and I was his assistant - not a very good one either because I didn’t want to get that fishy smell on my hands. Still, it was cool to hang out. Some mornings we got lucky and caught a decent sized fish. Other days we came up empty, so he would just buy us breakfast and take it home to share with my Mum.

My Dad and I haven’t fished in years, and I wonder what we would talk about now if we did. Something we do share is our love of singing, and no one loves karaoke more than us Asians. They own the latest Magic Sing (it’s a large microphone with built-in karaoke software that you plug into your TV) and a turn on it is as common as offering a visitor a hot drink. If I sleep in on a Saturday morning, I could be waking up to the smell of toast and be serenaded by Frank Sinatra at the same time.

In my meditation evenings (which I realised that I haven’t been to in weeks), we are taught to ‘ground’ ourselves. Grounding is a term used to describe that feeling of connection to the Earth, to keep you steady and safe wherever your mind may take you. I guess it’s the same as knowing your roots - by giving us a strong foundation to lead soul-enriched lives.

As an adult I finally understand why knowing my culture (or re-discovering my appreciation for it) is important moving forward. It explains a lot about who I am and what I value, my quirks and what I offer this world.

Pinoy ako - always have been, always will be.