Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Resolutions


Last day of the year. I remember a particular quote from someone famous, who said in high school people actually believed they can change the world, and later in life, we find out that we can only, in fact, change ourselves. I've been around for 29 years, and as the coming year marks a milestone for me, I really want to make some changes in my attitude- New Year's resolutions I actually want to keep. Since I'm making them public, feel free to remind me anytime if I begin to stray from these goals. Here they are:

1. Be more practical. You see, I rely more on instinct and emotions ("how I feel about certain things") rather than logic when deciding. My rationale before was that, since man is perpetually in search of happiness- then why not use your emotions as a barometer in deciding if you are going the right direction or not. The problem is that emotions are transient. They are no permanent than waves at the beach- and more often than not when one decides based on feelings either: 1) long term effects are not taken into account, and 2) one tends to be impractical and this leads to costly decisions.

2. Live within means. As a working guy from 2002-2006 and comparing that with living on allowance now (i.e. having no income on my own), one lesson definitely learned is that living within means is a life with less headaches and debt. Actually, it doesn't matter how much you earn- as I totaled my Net income for those years I worked, I did make my first million, so to speak. Only that by the time school started in 2006 I merely had more or less 30,000 in cash left. So where did the 400k per annum went? Rooftop apartment, clothes, accessories, gadgets, parties on weekends,trips to Bora, Sagada, Galera at least once every quarter. And when I started studying again- although I toned it down already, I was still in the habit of overspending. So my resolution is be less impulsive (stay away from shopping malls), keep tabs on daily spending, keep tabs on what is spent in the household which I have managed for the last four years, and not exactly the most thrifty I might add.

3. Be more patient, be more humble. I remember during our thesis we went to Leyte Normal University to see a statistician. The entire department, including their boss kept criticizing our work- why we did a pairing (Me: "Ma'am, we made the variables of gender and age constant because there are developmental considerations and gender differences which may affect the academic performance of these subjects. Head of department:"It is not necessary for you to pair them, you may have different numbers of students from the adequately nourished and and undernourished groups. Me: reasons out yet again, the transcript of this conversation would go on for hours) and other particulars and I explained each of those details. The following week, a friend from another group confided in me that our statistician said that I had a "superiority complex". This coming from a complete stranger I only met for a few hours, OMG it must be true! LOL I also do projects on the side and multi-task, so when I delegate tasks to my contemporaries I expect them to be done correctly. But of course considering that my batchmates are young, I need to keep in mind to make allowances. By nature, I have a short fuse. By 2010 I want to be mooooore patient, and humble enough so I can learn from others, and learn more. Though I want to accomplish a lot, I don't want to be a Nazi in the process- just be really mature about it.

4. Do tasks as scheduled, balanced with R & R. I don't think I have much problem in this area except for boring and tedious tasks like studying. With other tasks- I can more or less accomplish with minimal trouble. With rest and recreation- well, sometimes goes overboard. So there, study as scheduled, study as scheduled.

5. Focus on long term goals, and live life with meaning and balance. This is very broad, yet this encapsulates what I really want to see in me for the next year and beyond. Stay principled and grounded with Christian values, work on maintaining good relationship with family and friends. I have a lot to work on, and hopefully God gives me the strength to continue on and improve. One day I hope I fulfill what God intended me to be.

So that's pretty much it. I thank everyone who has been a part of my life, sorry to anyone I have ever offended, and I wish you the best for the years to come. To my blog readers, friends, family Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Sage


My Dell laptop had seen more than its fair share viruses, worms, malwares, and careless physical handling. Four years ago my father bought me this INSPIRON B130 model which was my most reliable tool for school. Every time I look at its faded casing, I remember all those nursing care plans and other hospital duty requirements, countless papers, articles I've written and edited for the magazine,more than 500 posts in my blog, three manuscripts, layouts, spot maps, photographs perfected, a hundred movies and a thousand mp3s. I think at some point, it contained the most pertinent files and information- practically my life, in its humble 60 Gig hard drive. It is a "budget laptop" with an all-plastic casing, but its speaks volumes when it comes to sturdiness.

I've taken it to the beach- listening to music while on a bamboo raft, I've spilled Pepsi on its keyboard, the screen is practically encased in a layer of dust, and it had endured being bumped a number of times while on travel- and at one point I used my backpack as a pillow, forgetting the laptop inside. Through time, I've had to replace its cord twice, as well as its battery. I've seen what other laptops can do with their fancy Vista, awesome graphics, and sleek appearance, but this is the laptop for me.

I consider its best quality- the integration of Norton Ghost into its hard drive in factory- to be the thing that saved it from becoming junk all these years. I once had a Toshiba- my first purchase back in 2002, which was rendered useless after it crashed. With my Dell, so many viruses and malwares had caused it to shut down- and with it precious files gone, but push of a few keys activates the Recovery Setup, and no matter how corrupt the files or the drive had been, Norton Ghost is always able to restore the laptop the very same settings as I had before the problem started.

To this day, I have never had a technician repair it. Although it sucks sometimes that some new files and programs which were installed after a specific recovery point gets lost- at least the restoration to its functioning level is guaranteed. As I have begun to back up all the important stuff in a 180GB Maxtor, this becomes less of a problem.

I'm just so amazed at its resilience. Anything that endures the wear and tear of something I constantly use deserves the mention, thought sadly I think they've long stoppped making my Dell laptop model- we found that out after trying to buy new batteries. Four years and counting- I promised I'd take better care of you. Thanks to my old man :-)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Much love, Thadie

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Cindy

Our loyal Japanese Spitz died of old age today. We buried her in the yard. Farewell Cindy, thanks for the 8 years of companionship :-)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Nostalgia


“While he spoke these words, I drank from a bowl of the most extraordinary soup I’ve ever tasted; every briny sip was a kind of ecstasy. I began to feel that all the people I’d ever known who had died or left me had not in fact gone away, but continued to live on inside of me…The soup was filled with all that I cared for in my life; and while I drank it, this man spoke his words right into my heart.”
-Memoirs of a Geisha, Arthur Golden


I was half asleep on a bus, which sped through the dark road. My cheeks were ruddy from the cold, and the wind whipping my face roused me from my stupor. As we winded through San Juanico Bridge, with the faint rush of water below, I saw the breathtaking city lights at a distance. The cluster of lights looked like tiny galaxies against a crimson sky, alive and pulsating.

Something about its dark beauty put me in a pensive mood, and I got to thinking of my life’s trajectory. A sign of my impending 30th birthday next year perhaps? Sometimes I smile at myself when I hear of my classmate’s (who are ten years younger than I) antics like drinking vodka like there’s no tomorrow, sneaking out during school hours to watch New Moon, or hitching a ride from a random truck at dusk from a fiesta outside the city. In a way, I’m living my younger years through them, and I especially see myself in some of the young friends I’ve come to know the past four years of Nursing school. I’ve never seen so much eagerness in them as they celebrated the beginning of their twenties. I should know; I’ve made the most out of mine.

But of course things are different for me now, and not solely out of conscious choice. Sometimes you just grow out of certain things. You won’t see me in clubs every Saturday night, or maybe doing outrageous stunts (unless I’m drunk). I no longer see my favorite movies five times and never getting tired of it. It’s sometimes a point for argument between my beau and I- that I should act mature and not “one of the kids” when I’m with my mates, but hey I’d definitely say I’ve mellowed down. They should have seen me seven years ago.

Sometimes I think of how different things would have been if I never left for Diliman, or if I had the chance to migrate to the US with my family. Would we have been still together? Would Mama be still with us? I used to wait for the time the petition would be approved and I could work abroad, but I’ve stopped waiting. I can find my own happiness here, besides I wonder what kind of life I’ll be living elsewhere. Suburban streets, maple trees, and winters?

I’ve tried many things, and have never regretted the richness of my experience. My life was like a river, and it meandered, bled, and intertwined with the lives of people around me. Once, I had to return to UP to secure a document, and stepping off the ubiquitous Ikot jeep, I suddenly felt a wave of nostalgia, much like when the bus passed by the glass-and-steel RCBC Plaza along Ayala. It feels strange returning after all those years. Reminds me so much of the young man I’ve been, and how my days here formed me- every crevice, every nook, every mannerism I had, and even my tastes.

And it’s really true what they say, at a certain point in your life; you’d one day look for your niche. Settle down maybe, and inevitably age. As I took a last look at the bridge before the bend, I wondered where the strait flows to- somewhere unexpected perhaps, but it flows toward it with such fearlessness and certainty.

Moving, always moving.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Seasons


                 Death seems such an ordinary occurrence in the hospital that even as a student nurse many years ago, I have regarded it with complete impassiveness.  As part of the healthcare team, we were never afforded to indulge in an emotional connection with our patients more than what was called for in a professional environment.  When a patient dies, I remember in automation what needs to be done: after the physician’s declaration of the death, we carefully remove the tubes- the IV, the respirator; we remain a respectful distance from the grieving family and offer our customary sympathies as we continue the procedures for post-mortem care.  I was always philosophical about death- it is simply the way of the world, a cosmic turnover to be rid of the old and replaced with the young.  Little did I know, that the mnemonics I have memorized so well in class: DABDA, Kubler Ross’ stages of grief, would hit home.  I was in my third year when my mom, who was once a staff nurse at EVRMC before she became a USRN, passed away.
            I was excited to finally be exposed to the clinical areas, when one day I got a call from my brother informing me that she had been hospitalized for pulmonary embolism.  During those days when she was feeling better in the ICU, we talked over the phone- she told me in a weak voice they would be moving her to a private room soon.  I tried to sound cheerful but each time she coughed, I said a silent prayer pleading to God to keep her well.  On a Tuesday morning at 2am, the phone rang- it was my brother who told me between sobs, that our mom had died.
            The past few days went as a blur to me.  What made it especially difficult was arranging the transfer of her remains from Louisiana, USA to Tacloban.  Our grandmother took charge of the pa-syam- the Filipino Catholic custom of nine day novena for the dead in our home, while in America, Papa and my brothers had a memorial for Mama.  The prayers offered some measure of comfort, but it seemed I had a huge void full of questions- I was still numb and disbelieving.  I was expecting it was only a nightmare I was going to wake up from; the last image on my mind had always been the time we vacationed with Mama in Samar- so alive and happy.
            When my brother brought home her ashes, the reality hit me like a hammer- it was then I cried hard, because I knew I would never see my mother again.  During the mass, the priest said something to me: we may view death as something devastating, but it also meant that Mama was already in God’s arms, free from bodily pains and all too human hurts.  Faith was the only thing holding me together; I never even questioned anymore why it had to happen.
            Two short years later, another tragedy happened as I was reviewing for the Nursing Board Exam- heralded by yet again another ominous phone call late at night with an aunt who told us that Papa had a massive heart attack.  This really put me in the pits of despair, in possibly the most trying times of our family life.  The same rituals were observed: pa-syam, pa-kwarenta, with the strange superstitions like we were not supposed to take a bath, not to say goodbye to visitors who visit the wake, cutting a blessed rosary into several pieces and placing it inside the urn of ashes and sealing it, as we were told it would stop a “series of deaths”.  We did not dispose of the dust, dry flowers, burnt matches swept to the corner of the house until the interment.  On the day we said goodbye to Papa, I was holding the urn, walking slowly down the steps of our house- the last to leave as everyone else had left the house empty.  As I stepped on the last stair, there was a thunderous roar and shards of glass that hit my back, as one of our relatives smashed a glass plate behind me.  Let all the bad things leave the house.  My grandmother uttered, still in tears.  We buried Papa the day before the board exams.
            I remember my final days of hospital duty in the delivery room, prior to my enrolling in medical school.   I was beside the obstetrician ready to assist, but I froze when the membranes burst.  The baby was stillborn.  The feet of the baby came first; the head was stuck in the vaginal canal and took almost an excruciating ten minutes to deliver.  The doctor was apologetic, really there was nothing that could be done- the fetus was not viable and weighed only 500 grams. Lying on the delivery table, the mother stared at the ceiling, unmoving.  We asked her if she had a name for the baby, so that we could baptize him before we give him to the waiting relatives.
Our eyes met as she fingered the plastic rosary on her neck. She came out of her reverie and from her moving lips sprung a name.  I could never forget the look in her eyes- regret maybe, or emptiness. I carefully wrapped the fetus and took Holy Water to baptize him. I had no time to linger on those feelings because there was another lady giving birth. I was asked to change gloves and assist, and this time the mother gave birth to a healthy baby girl.
Funny how the ebb and flow of life in the hospital almost goes unnoticed. How new life is born in an instant, and how deaths become merely statistics. I suppose when one deal with these things on a daily basis it becomes routine.
As I lay the crying neonate on her bassinet, it suddenly occurred to me that I was in the same Neonatal Intensive Care Unit my Mom worked in many years ago.  I looked around the room and saw her for a moment in the nurse on duty changing a neonate’s diaper.
Somehow I knew at that instant that my brothers and I would be okay.  Through the passage of time things change.  Some wounds heal as we learn to accept the will of God, some remain abstruse like the young mother’s loss, while some are renewed in the hearts of their progeny, like our parent’s legacy.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Curacha


It really is hard to believe that almost four years ago I segued from working man to school boy. I became part of the largest ever batch of Nursing students in St. Scho Tacloban- a strong 500+, as it were the peak of the exodus of health workers abroad and the demand for Nurses was high at that time.

Our batch had certain peculiarities- for one, there were a lot of second coursers (“elders”, they would call us). We had batchmates from all over Region 8, and some came as far as Manila and Mindanao just to study here. Others were transferees from big name universities like UST and La Salle, and of course there were a number of us who were certified Iskolar ng Bayans running amok (lol).

I think we were also the last batch to follow the stringent screening process (aka elimination) and many of our comrades didn’t make it. By mid-semester of the 1st year 1st sem, we already had classmates who would mysteriously stop attending classes. We had 31 units straightaway, and I’m proud to note we were trained by the best Gen Ed team (some of them unfortunately, sometime in 2007, have started to seek other opportunities). I remember our Monday schedule which began at 6:30AM for the morning praise and ended 8:30PM. The rest of the week was a blur of lectures, quizzes, practical exams, and more written exams. There were 9 sections left when the enrollment for the second semester of 1st year came.

By the time we finished the 2nd year second sem, we all lined up to see the Dean, who was going to inform us of our fate. Half of the entire batch didn’t make it. Some shifted to another course, some transferred to other Nursing schools in Ormoc, Cebu, and Manila, others simply dropped out for one reason or another. Two hundred fifty or so went on to attend the coveted Capping and Badge Pinning Ceremonies- signaling the start of our transition from mere classroom instruction to actual hospital duty.

There was a twist in the new sectioning which began the summer before 3rd year- the administration pooled together all the Dean’s Listers in one section, which at some point raised controversy. I was in favor of the usual heterogenous sectioning, which was done for the majority of the batch, but the decision to have Section A homogenous according to GWA was upheld. In hindsight, I would have really preferred to be just placed in different sections because you get to meet a lot of different classmates and the solidarity of the batch was increased. Being in Section A bunched up with the same faces over and over again gets a little boring, not to mention these people are naturally competitive (myself included) which could get annoying and frightening sometimes. I’ve had friends who actually preferred to be transferred to other sections rather than be in A.

But that drama aside, we surmounted a few more hurdles like Promotive and Preventive, Curative and Rehabilitative Nursing, and research. At the same time we were trained by our Clinical Preceptors in the different areas like DR/ NICU, operating room, emergency, outpatient, community and the unforgettable Psychiatric nursing. Our batch was successful with the Case Presentation at VSMMC, and completed the affiliation without incident. And of course our batch also happened to be champions in the Sportsfest twice in a row- in 2007 and in 2008, when the teams were by year level.

I will never forget what one of our Preceptors told us during the course of our Clinical duties: “Here in the hospital you are dealing with lives. There is no room for error when you are caring for your patients.” I finally understood why firmness and strictness was always maintained in our training, and I think in that moment, by the examples shown to us in Clinical practice, I was also able to grasp what kind of health professionals we should be.

Saying that my Nursing life in St. Scho is colorful would be an understatement. So many people- fellow students, faculty and staff had touched my life in one way or another. Here I delved into another one of my passions which is writing, and I’ve gone far from my original blog entries which I initially posted to come out hahaha! They also had me dance the Curacha (a traditional courtship dance in Leyte/ Samar) in front of an audience, participate in a Cheerdance (with my “two left feet”), and play Basketball. Oh dear.

I can’t believe that in four months or so, we would be concluding our Nursing life and move on to the next chapter. It is with both elation and a hint of sadness that accompanies this realization. But if I were to encapsulate the feeling it would be gratitude- to everyone I’ve met here, to the patients I’ve cared for, to our Preceptors, and to the school and the profession I’ve come to love.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Mooned

After the demise of Bella, Edward and Jacob visited her mausoleum. The two fought wildly, and somehow Jacob found himself on top of Edward.

One thing led to another and then... (Newmoon, gay version lol)

Addict

Which one are you particularly guilty of? :-)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Rush, rush

12:01 PM. I wrapped up an hour of polishing my article for Jurisprudence, took a quick shower, and laid out my immaculate white uniform on the bed. I should arrive in school by 12:30, perfectly composed, with still half an hour to review for the quiz. Perfect.

I frowned as I put my foot outside the door- a speck of water suddenly appeared on my shoe. Then another, and another. It was starting to drizzle.

Fine, I took out my umbrella and headed out the gate, hugging my backpack close so it doesn't get soaked in the rain. In the distance, there were no pedicabs in sight, which meant I had to walk to the highway to catch a ride.

It was then fate decided to play a joke on me. It seemed, as I put one foot in front of the other, the rain poured harder. My shoes were completely soaked now. Even as I held the umbrella closer, the wind was blowing the rain sideways. barely a hundred meters from our front door, I was already dripping wet from knees down, and the rain also soaked the back of my uniform, my arms, and my bag.

Halfway to the main street, I had to finally stop at a neighbor's hut- I was completely soaked from head to foot, and could not possibly go to school looking like I just stepped out of the shower fully clothed.

Finally a pedicab passed by, so I requested him first to drop by our house so I can change my uniform. As I finally made it to the highway minutes later, changed, and a little less irritable, the sun shone its brightest, mocking me.

I lost precious minutes for review so I decided to start reviewing while riding the jeep. After what seemed like an eternity, I arrived at our building and flew four flights of stairs to our classroom.

What greeted me was an empty room with the lights off, and a solitary person inside.

"Where is everybody?" I panted, struggling to catch my breath.

She looked me in the eye and said:

"Haven't you heard? We have no classes today."

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Sohoton

Traversing the waterways of Basey, Samar is like going back in time. Despite its proximity to Tacloban (the town is around 30-40 minutes away), majority still use traditional means of transport namely passenger outrigger boats and the motorcycle people call “habal-habal”.

Our trip to Sohoton caves in Rawis was in conjunction with a trip to the gorgeous Balantak falls, also in the same Baranggay. Though we hit a few bumps along the way (I was soaked from waist down because of the splashing of water, and the boat had engine problems that had us waiting for 30 minutes before resuming the trip), the places of interest was worth the trouble.

Our guide was an imaginative and jolly 54 year old man, who led the way inside the caverns of Sohoton. The cave itself was not that spectacular- I have tried spelunking with challenging 8-foot drops and underground streams in Sagada, but the redeeming quality was in the hospitality of the guides as well as the completeness of equipment. Helmets with flashlights were provided (at additional cost) for the conveniece of tourists.

The trip to Balantak was another 30 minutes on rough road. The roaring waterfall was quite a sight- and at the time we visited we were the only tourists at the site.

Tip: Book a tour at the Tourism office in Basey town proper. Brochures are given so tourists can choose from a number of trips. The 16th century church in the town proper is also a must-see, as well as banig weaving- for which the town is known for.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Pilgrim



When I woke up the day after my birthday, the sun’s rays bathed a bouquet of roses my friends gave me the day before. It was lovely and fragrant, and I wanted to preserve it as long as I could for memory. Last night I thought- maybe I should get these roses and press them individually between thick books and frame them like the ones I did with the anniversary roses my beau gave me, or maybe leave it as a bouquet and let it dry like what Nanay did with her flowers on her 80th birthday.

In that moment- on an ordinary morning, this phrase came to mind: “omnia transeunt” (all things pass). Like everybody else, I keep mementos. I preserve everything that makes me happy- beautiful things that remind me of good times, in fact my room is crowded with all those things: books from even way back elementary days, numerous timepieces my brothers and my mom gave me, trophies and awards, picture frames that fill every possible space on the night table, dried flowers, bags and clothes of every size, shape and color.

But I remember a striking lecture that Sister Aquino once gave in Theology, she talked of a time they exhumed the body of the first nuns of their order to die in the Philippines. While they were in the cemetery, the men brought the coffins to be blessed before they were opened. When the prayers were done, the coffins were opened. Inside, the only things recognizable were the skull and major bones of the body, everything else- the nun’s habit, the small bones, the flesh- they looked like earth. This skin of ours, the tissues underneath, once decomposed look like mud and dirt. And so Sister asked us, “Anong pinagmamalaki mo?”

“You are dust. We are all the same- from the most powerful heads of state to the lowliest beggar, sinners and saints, men and women in every color- we become dust. Everything you have is on loan- your abilities, your properties, your life, they are not yours. Will God care if you were Cum Laude? Will God care if you were the richest man on the planet? No. He will only ask you how you loved Him and how you loved your fellow men.”

It certainly got me thinking of the way I’ve been living my life for the past 29 years. What were the things I’ve put so much value on? Pretty things, accomplishments maybe? I have every imaginable face cream, cleanser, deep cleanser, scrub, masque, SPF, and whatnot, and to what end? Beautify a face that would one day be dust. Ok, so maybe hygiene is necessary, but my excessive vanity is I guess something I could do without. For the past years, I think I have been working hard for the wrong reasons- acclaim. Though I do think being KSP had something to do with low self-esteem growing up, but now I know better.

And so on that note, I promised myself I’d make changes with the way I look at life. There are more important things that are not mentioned in one’s resume- like being a good friend, or being someone who keeps his word. I want to work hard for the right reasons, reasons beyond self-improvement or mere enrichment.

I have neglected the importance in being prudent and humble in my relationships with people around me that this caused a lot of strain, and nearly breaking off ties. Knowing I guess is half the battle, making amends and reparations are next. I guess what Sister said was right- we are only pilgrims in this life, making our journey to the next life. What we do now matters, because we are preparing ourselves. Will the world forget me when I die? Maybe, but I hope I would make a positive impact on the lives of others before I’m gone.

I guess I had a change of heart. I picked up a scissor and cut the pretty ribbons that held the bouquet together. I neatly folded the tissue that wrapped the roses and went downstairs. Placing the roses on a large vase, I hoped it would last longer, and that more people could appreciate its beauty. That’s a better remembrance.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Thankful

Click the cake for pics :-)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Home


Our house is a little bit peculiar. Sitting on a corner lot surrounded by cyclone fence, the gray exterior contrasts against the trees in the foreground. We have a lot of trees in our lot- a large mango tree in the front lawn, bent when a strong typhoon once hit Tacloban, a golden acacia beside it, and a mahogany tree on the eastern corner. Outside my bedroom window peeks the sun-dappled leaves of a tamarind, with a java plum rising from the spot near the abuhan of our dirty kitchen below.

We live in a two-storey duplex, about a twenty minute walk from the highway. I like the peace and quiet here. From the terrace, one can view the tin roofs from the subdivision right beside the main road, with a hectare of vacant lot overgrown with cogon separating them from us. We can also see the big “R” sign of Robinson’s mall- a short walk from our residence.

My brothers had a penchant for pets and we had a lot growing up- twenty or so doves, which have taken residence up on our roof, a number of dogs- a Japanese Spitz named Cindy the most beloved, adopted stray cats, a lone turtle, white mice (at one point had cross-bred with black rats and overmultiplied, thus prompting our mom to feed them Racumin to control their population), and chickens. Now my brothers are all grown up and residing in the US, but some of our pets remain. The doves still spew a generous amount of bird poo which causes the wooden beams to rot, our cats still catch mice from time to time, and Cindy is enjoying ripe old age.

Cindy is almost blind from cataracts on both eyes. She’d been with us for nine years now, and she was my mom’s favorite. They bought her while I was away in Diliman, so every time I went home that spoiled puppy would always bark and be all hostile to me. Now it’s a different story of course, when I feed her for example, she won’t eat the piece of chicken or meat in front of her, until I gently nudge her so she can smell the food. She does waggle her tail when she recognizes my voice when I come home from school even if, I reckon, all she sees is blur.

The other side of the duplex was said to be haunted. The reason was that for 14 years no one lived there. Next door, the situation in our house is different because we are always noisy and chaotic- no ghost would dare live with us. Sometimes, when our house overflows with guests (during fiestas mostly), we let them stay next door. The next day they’ll either come out with rashes all over their face, or be covered in hives, or won’t be able to come out at all because they got locked up inside the bathroom- we had replaced the lock on this door three times already- after three different people got locked inside. A number of years ago our neighbors asked us if someone was living in that house already, because they saw lights being turned on and off in the house. I told them that’s impossible- that house has no electricity. If there were ghosts, well, they never bothered us anyway. And at present that place is being rented out, and so far our neighbors have been fine.

My late mother’s orchids still bloom beautifully on the north side of the lot. She bought them from the many places she visited as a nurse, a Waling-waling from a Davao trip, dendrobium from Southern Leyte, and many others that still thrive in her little garden. My grandmother planted white anthuriums that lined the damp concrete barriers, and the single agave still stands proudly.

We moved into the home my father built for us even before the construction was done in 1994. The second floor was made from coco lumber, but I thought it was really lovely that they made French windows for the façade, while other windows in the back had only humble jalousies. Like an old friend, I loved it with all its imperfections, after all it is here I find solace. Though sometime we all had to move away, this place is thick with memory- our family’s memories, and they are still alive. In the unpainted house, my brother’s doves, my mother’s orchids, my grandmother’s bromeliads, the trees that have withstood time and many a typhoon, and of course, dear old Cindy.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Suddenly Twenty Nine

I recently felt the need to change my template. It took me four hours more or less, searching, saving, and discarding widgets. This for me, is equivalent to cleaning my room. It was time to be rid of old things, and start with a clean slate once again.

This also marks the start of a new semester- the final leg of Nursing school, in fact. Time certainly flies; wasn’t it just yesterday that I had my first assist during a delivery, or my first time to act as Scrub Nurse in the Operating Room? In a way I’m a little relieved those long hours are almost up, but I have to be honest, I will miss all that.

I really hope I do well this semester because this is crucial to Med school application. Good grades might mean a scholarship, that is of course paired with good NMAT scores. Which reminds me- I need to plan with my other friends who wanted to take the aptitude exam so we all can plan where to squeeze it between this semester’s schedules or maybe during the board exam review.

I’m still peddling my manuscript, with no luck as of yet. But there are wonderful people who are helping me out- one I’d like to mention is my editor who is based in Toronto. I’m so lucky because it just so happened that on the very same afternoon I discovered my old editor in Leyte Normal is no longer with the university, she left a comment on my blog. Days later, I e-mailed the manuscript for her perusal. It’s still being edited as of now.

Making money online is the new trend nowadays and I’m one those making a few bucks from blog ads. I gave up on Adsense before, but with Linkworth and a few independent advertisers who contacted me- I’ve begun putting up ads again.

Finally, I’ll be celebrating my birthday on the 17th this month. My high school batchmates and I have been teasing each other about how the clock is ticking on us and a birthday with a zero is fast approaching. We’re officially old!! But for now, I’ll enjoy my final year as a twentysomething, until I’m ready to move on to the next chapter of my life.

Donations, gifts accepted hahaha! Just throw me any old fountain pen or diver's watch for good measure. Kidding :-)

Photo: With my first NICU case at Ormoc District Hospital- minutes old baby girl.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Ink

There’s something about writing with a fountain pen. My handwriting is as indecipherable as a physician’s, and to paraphrase my Grade 1 teacher Mrs. Rarallo,
“It im agi bagan tinaraan hin Carabao.”

Roughly translated, she was telling me that I had the worst handwriting ever. I haven’t changed much over the years, but using a fountain pen allows my strokes to be fluid and graceful- and strangely enough, my handwriting rendered almost legible. I equate using fountain pens with speaking phrases in Latin- no matter how ridiculous the statement, it still manages to sound profound.

Earlier today I took out my old clogged fountain pen, which happened to be one of my first purchases when I started working. The pen itself isn’t as handsome as one would imagine- mine is a dime-a-dozen Inoxcrom from Spain, plain silver with my name engraved on the side.

My first fountain pen was a Parker my mom gave me. Of course, knowing me, I managed to lose it within three months in my dorm locker in Yakal, or was it at the UP Village boardinghouse? I can’t trace where it is now, and to this day I haven’t told anyone because I’d surely receive a lecture about looking after my things.

Here’s what I did to unclog my old pen: I disassembled it, carefully taking out the disposable ink compartment, and placed the parts on a glass of hot water. Almost instantly the dried up ink diffused out of the pen, coloring the water a hue of violet. The color swirled as it tinged the water darker. I let it sit until it cooled.

As I lifted the pen from its bath, hours later, my fingers dripped and stained the tiles in the kitchen. My ink-stained fingers assembled its parts and tested it by writing my name on blotted paper. Lo and behold, my handwriting was suddenly fluid, beautiful, and yes, almost readable.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Fetish

Tale of the Undercover Thief who Steals Old Underwear for no Reason.”

-oOo-

T’was a hot April afternoon when I decided to drop by the plush RCBC Plaza gym, to work up a sweat before my shift at the office. As I changed in the lockers, I noticed that although I brought my workout clothes- spare t-shirt, shorts, and rubber shoes; I forgot an extra pair of underwear.

What I was wearing was a pair of ancient “granny pants” (sorry, it was laundry day) I had since I was a freshman in college, with the garter stretched and curled like a piece of pasta. Hiding behind the locker door, and afraid someone would see me, I decided to keep my granny pants and my office clothes in the locker while I go commando in my gym clothes.

So I locked the cabinet and “bounced” all the way to the workout area. I started with the weights and the machines, carefully keeping my legs together so the one-eyed monster won’t take a peek to the outside world.

It was a rather uneventful afternoon as I listened to music while “bouncing” on the treadmill that was facing GT Tower. When I finally finished with the weights, I went to the steam room and then the showers.

With my towel wrapped around my waist, I walked to the locker area where a gym bunny was rolling deodorant under his arm while completely naked. Omg! I averted my eyes (charot!) and opened my cabinet. I took out my stuff.

Undershirt, check! Long sleeves, check! Necktie, pants, check! Wait. I froze. Then I checked everything again- inside the locker, my bag. My granny pants were missing!!!

As I checked the pocket of my bag where I kept my valuables- cell phone and wallet- the money was complete.

“Was I sure I really wore underwear kanina?” I asked myself.

Yes!!! How could I forget wearing granny pants? After checking every inch of my bag and locker, an attendant noticed my distress and approached me.

“Sir, is there a problem?”

I hesitated. What am I supposed to do, tell him I was missing my granny pants? Even if they found those it would be too embarrassing to claim ownership of that thing.

I smiled. “None, everything’s fine.”

Damn. I had to go to work commando, I’d be late for office if I go home for a pair. As I exited the locker area, I looked around the guys inside the locker room in various stages of undress.

One of these people took my underwear. I found it hard to believe because it was an upscale place, and there was certainly no shortage of underwear in the Philippines. Oh well, those granny pants had to go anyway.

I headed out with both an amused and annoyed look on my face.

Tacloban City Guide: Food

I’ve long been planning to do a city guide, and now I’m actually bored enough to do it. One of the ways one can explore and literally taste the culture of a certain place is by trying the local cuisine. Here in Tacloban, we have both a mix of traditional delicacies and an eclectic mix of foreign food in several restaurants in the city.

Here are some of my notable favorites:

Binagol, sagmani, and moron (not the same as the meaning in English!) at Cherry Refreshment- this small snack center is a dealer of native delicacies delivered fresh daily from suppliers outside Tacloban. Binagol is usually from Dagami and moron from Abuyog.

Binagol is made from talyan, a relative of gabi, with sweet coconut milk and peanuts that consist the creamy center filling. Sagmani is made of gabi I think, but without the filling, and instead of being encased in a coconut shell it is wrapped in dried banana leaves. Moron is like a chocolate version of suman. These sweets are excellent paired with coffee.Seafood at Tacloban City Market- Forget supermarkets. Robinsons and Gaisano may boast of having complete amenities and air-conditioned shopping but the best place to buy fresh-off-the-docks seafood at very low prices are from the city market. From tuna to blue marlin, to tanigue for those delectable kinilaw (our version of sushi), to mollusks, to squid, to crustaceans of various shapes and sizes, you name it, they have it.
Now, here are my favorite restaurants:

Café Teresa, Hotel Alejandro
What to try: They have a wide selection in their menu, but what I love particularly is their brewed coffee. Desserts like crepes and banana splits are excellent.

Why I love this place: The décor is tasteful, with a nice ambiance. Live piano sometimes, and the service is good too.
Giuseppe's
What makes this place unique: An authentic Italian restaurant. Well, I've only dined twice or thrice here but compared to Manila fine dining establishments- the prices are quite reasonable. From the table napkins to the attentive service, this is as close as we get to a four star restaurant here. Most of the patrons are foreigners and sosy people ;-)

Ocho, Lucky Six

What to try: You might wonder why I put two restaurants together. The reason is that both specialize with seafood dishes. In Ocho, you can buy seafood by the gram (you can even choose live seafood) and have them cook it for you.

What makes them different: Lucky Six has genuine Chinese cooking. The restaurant itself used to be Lee’s Grocery- a popular deli in Tacloban during the eighties.

Royal Seafood
What makes this place unique: Ok, so you are probably rolling your eyes by now. Seafood na naman! Royal offers excellent seafood and then some- exotic food like jungle lizards, aphrodisiacs and all that freaky stuff are available. Testicles anyone?

Sorry guys, I've never tried anything exotic except their pancit canton. Good enough for me.

Sombrero
What to try: Al Reem. I was expecting some sort of Arabic food but this is actually a cross between a drink and a dessert. Topped with cherry and cream, a mix of syrup, pineapple bits, kiwi, and some other ingredients (sorry, I’m no food expert)- it just teases your buds and goes down smoothly.

Other dishes to try: They have kebabs, fajitas, and rice dishes with either seafood or beef- your choice, of course.

Zanzibar
What to try: Rhum ribs are excellent (and good enough for 3 people), also noteworthy are the nachos and tacos. Yum!

Why I love this place: Very quaint and cozy place where you can have those chats with friends. I also love red iced tea, and the fact that they serve beer during noon. Haha!
Zaibatsu
What to try: I love their pasta. They have generous servings so make sure you haven’t eaten yet.

What’s special about it: The interior looks really nice. Though I have visited the place only once, I was particularly happy with the service overall.Stick around for more of my city guide. My fingers ache from too much typing lol!
Image Credits: Anton Diaz (native delicacies), Rommel Cabrera (Zai)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

To Market

What can you buy with 500 pesos nowadays? I usually go to the market myself unless busy with school. And though the Tacloban City Market isn’t exactly the most fragrant place to be, I wanted to see how much food I can buy for that budget. Here’s what I got:

Cabbage- P50 1 kilo
Onion- P17.50 ¼ kilo
Tomato- P9.50 ¼ kilo
Garlic- P12.50 ¼ kilo
Ginger- P13 ¼ kilo
Okra- P10
Pumpkin- P20 ½

Chorizo- P25/ dozen
Chicken- P120 whole
Daing- P60 ¼ kilo
Fish- P40 ½ kilo
Alimango- P120 1 kilo

I guess one of the perks of living in a coastal city is having very affordable (imagine, Buranday- a variety of Mussels cost only P20 ½ kilo) seafood- a personal favorite. Fish and crustaceans are better to eat than pork, I’d like to think- less fattening. The ones I bought should last a few days for our household.

The alimango was still alive when I bought it, and I was worried they’d slip out of the bag (their pinchers were held in place only by rubber bands) and I’d have to chase them around the jeepney to catch them. Thankfully, that didn’t happen.

With a little malunggay plucked from our front yard and few cups of coconut milk- the alimango was good to go! Image credit: Tacloban Market(above) by Gary Landry

Tadjao Beach





The town of Tolosa (infamous Imelda's hometown) is about 30 minutes from Tacloban. There are plenty of nice beaches (some open to the public, while some charge for a minimal amount of Php50 for entrance) and resorts like Olot Beach Club and Tadjao, pictured above.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Writing, dreaming, living

Meeting someone from high school automatically activates my instinct for comparing our life’s trajectory. There are always a few surprises- the most demure girl turned out to be the first among us to become a parent, the homely guy in the back unexpectedly turned into a good-looking eligible bachelor, and one of the brightest in our class quit med school to pursue a different career path. The irresistible question would suddenly pop out unbidden from my mouth, “So are you happy with your life?”

Some would answer, some would only shrug. If you ask me, one of the most precocious students back in the days, I’d say- “I’m doing okay.” My life had always been work in progress, and maybe it’s true, no one can say they’ve lived in complete and consistent state of bliss. Without discontent, we’d stop moving forward. Without disappointments we’d never introspect and correct what went wrong. Without goodbyes we can never move on to new chapters in our lives. Priorities change, people change.

So what’s in store for us ahead? How far we go in life is entirely up to us. Many people head for the stars with no intent to sweat it out, and often they stay in exactly the same place where they started. Dreams often remain dreams unless actualized with hard work.

In any case, we all have the capacity for happiness. That’s the point isn’t it? No one except ourselves can define what it is that brings us fulfillment and bliss. And so we learn to cope, to enjoy, and to aspire to be more and live our flawed lives the best we can.


17 October 2009
Tacloban City

Friday, October 16, 2009

Why it's Always Better on the Other Side

I remember a time when my mom nearly beat the crap out of me for two reasons: first, she got home to find her make-up kit ransacked and in complete disarray, and second- every shade of her eyeshadow and blush-on were caked on my face.

I was eight. What really happened was that my fourteen year-old female cousin decided to make a Barbie out of me. She wrapped the kumot around my scrawny frame and put make-up on my face, then asked me to parade around the room while she chanted “Miss Universe!”

I thought I was so cool, looking so pretty. That was, of course until my mom walked in and manhandled me to the bathroom to forcibly wash my face while I was crying and mascara was running all over my face.

Throughout high school, she grew more concerned of me as I grew into an adolescent. She was worried that I’d have a hard life if I was indeed gay, so both my parents did what they thought they could to “straighten me up”. They would show disapproval especially if I showed signs of being effeminate- which actually never quite changed me, instead made me just even more skilled at hiding it.

When she celebrated her 50th birthday and I was all grown up, I finally had the courage to tell her that I’m gay. I mean, this orientation was certainly not my deliberate choosing, and I still refuse to believe the notion that gay people are simply maladjusted or have some sort of personality problem. People can label me all they want, but for me the two most important things were that I accepted myself (how else would I have self respect?) and that my mom at least acknowledge it.

She did. And all those years of my struggles, my overcompensating by becoming an overachiever just because I thought people would see me as worthless because I’m gay- they all faded away just as darkness fades when the sun comes up. My mom’s blessing meant so much to me, because my biggest fear was that she’d stop loving me as her son because of my orientation.

The next step of course was to come out to my friends, to come clean and finally put a stop to questions like, “Why are you not married?” or Why don’t you have a girlfriend?” There were those who applauded my honesty, there were those who were apathetic, and finally others who were disgusted. I suppose everyone has a right to their own opinion and how they feel about things, but as far as I’m concerned- it is so liberating to finally be myself. I have repressed a large part of who I am just because I was afraid people would not like me- now, all I can say is “better for people to hate me for who I am, rather than like me for who I am not.”

My mom’s acceptance and understanding taught me the value of unconditional love and how very few people have that. After I came out, I felt like I could just share a laugh or enjoy a friend’s company without worries. My mom taught me I’m just as worthy a person as everybody else.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Learn to Fly

Following the conclusion of our 1st semester, I was able to finish the unedited manuscript for Learn to Fly. I hope the production is done by November, this time the dimensions are smaller- 4x5 inches only with 123 pages. The target is that the SRP is only Php 100 so ordinary students can afford it.

Sa kakulitan ko, I've asked McVie for a foreword para makadagdag ng credibility haha! Joke, actually sa mga gustong magbigay ng review I can send the PDF file. Reminder,di pa tapos ang pad-edit nito so be kind. May short feedback form lang that you have to accomplish so I can make improvements sa font size/style for example, or which articles to include, etc. Thanks in advance to those interested (kindly give me your e-mail address please, where I can send the PDF file).

May konting feeling ako na may bloopers, pero like my friend always says, "Go lang ng go!" Eh di go!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Ouch.

A striking article from Psychotherapist Dennis Portnoy.
Is your personality causing you to burn out?

Jim’s skin is hot and prickly as he gets increasingly agitated. His legs nervously tap under the table as he struggles to contain himself. The meeting had been going on only fifteen minutes and it was not mandatory for Jim to attend this meeting, yet he feels compelled to take over the direction of the meeting because no resolution is being reached.

Jim admits he is a “control freak” who gets overly involved with work. What he does not realize is how his difficulty tolerating uncertainty interferes with his ability to relax and recognize his limits.

You can take courses on time management and attend seminars on stress management techniques and still suffer from burnout. These strategies are often helpful, but will not lead to lasting changes if you do not address personality traits that foster stress. Much of the literature on burnout focuses more on external pressures than on self- imposed stress. While external pressures such as a demanding workload, juggling personal and professional life, unclear job responsibilities do contribute to stress and burnout, so do beliefs and personality traits. Jim’s worries about uncertainty and lack of control were driving him to burnout. Even authors who write about personality characteristics that cause stress tend to emphasize overt and extreme behaviors such as the type A personality- overly driven, highly competitive, aggressive and obsessed with work. There are many burnout prone people, however, with personalities who do not fit this profile. The most prominent personality characteristics that contribute to burnout are exaggerated responsibility, self-judgement and self-definition. Below you will see how these three traits influence each other.

exaggerated sense of responsibility

Throughout our lives we are told how important it is to be responsible. Being too responsible, however, can hurt you and others. Taking on too much responsibility can make you prone to over work and intolerant of your imperfections. You take on too much and overlook your limits. Exaggerated responsibility can also cause you to feel obligated, guilty about your needs and bad about yourself when you are not giving your best. Being overly responsible often interferes with your ability to relinquish control and an excessive need for control fosters burnout because you cannot relax and take your limits seriously. Jim’s need for control showed up as a need to always be on top of things and difficulty tolerating uncertainty or unpredictability. You may tell yourself, “if I do not do everything myself it will not get done correctly.” Your lack of trust causes you to take on too much, interferes with your ability to delegate and creates tension with others.

Rescuing and caretaking are manifestations of over-control. You get overly invested with work and with fixing situations. Your attempts to create harmony, fix problems or improve someone’s mood are often an attempt to regain control and distance from feelings of powerlessness. You are the one who is always trying to make peace. Doing too much for people does not help them because it often interferes with their ability to be accountable for their lives. Exaggerated responsibility may increase performance in the short run, but will decrease your effectiveness over time. So if being too responsible causes so many problems, why can’t we stop?

Exaggerated responsibility often develops in response to difficult family circumstances. Kids who grow up in families where there is chaos or lack of predictability often cope by becoming super responsible. Jim’s childhood was unpredictable and filled with tension. Several nights a week he was in charge of bringing his intoxicated father home from the local bar. He also watched his parents fight. This reinforced his need to be responsible, in control and belief that he could only count on himself.

You also take on adult responsibilities to help the family if your parents are struggling to make ends meet, This can include helping run the family business, doing housework or taking care of younger siblings. Your parents can be very caring yet preoccupied, causing you to rely on yourself at a young age to get many of your needs met. You may feel that it is your fault if problems arise and view your needs as further burdening your parents.

The roles of caretaker, confidante or the one that provides stability for the family foster exaggerated responsibility. You learn to measure your worth and define yourself by being strong, competent and dependable. If you were encouraged to be strong and self reliant, being vulnerable or needing others may cause you to feel shame or less worthy. When you do not live up to a responsible self- image or if you let someone down, you may feel like a failure. It can be an overwhelming burden when adults expect you to provide strength and comfort and put you in charge of their wellbeing. If you had to be strong or super responsible growing up, you may have difficulty recognizing your limits and needs for support. Being able to ask for and receive support, whether it mean asking someone to listen to your troubles and concerns or offer practical assistance, is a key ingredient for promoting self-care and counteracting burnout.

exaggerated sense of responsibility and your history

You can tell whether you take on too much responsibility by asking the following questions:



* Do you accept yourself at times when you are not dependable or competent? For example, how would you feel about yourself if you did not complete an assignment?

* What were your parents’ spoken and unspoken messages about the importance of being self-sufficient versus relying on others?

* Think of some problem situations that were unresolved where you felt responsible for the outcome, and felt compelled to fix it. Try to recall how you felt in these times. Now imagine resisting your impulse to change or improve the outcome. When you are not acting so responsible, do you feel like a failure or guilty? Does your self esteem decrease?

* Picture being less responsible when you were younger. What if you had refused to listen to your mother’s problems or were less helpful with chores? Would you have faced disapproval, withdrawal of attention, punishment? Would your family situation be less harmonious or more chaotic?

* How productive, strong, responsible and competent do you need to be to feel good about yourself? How do you feel about yourself when these qualities are lacking?

* Does being less productive or strong make you feel out of control?

* What were your parent’s spoken and unspoken expectations about your performance? Did they expect you to get all “A’s”? Excessive parental expectations can foster exaggerated responsibility.

Perfectionism

Late at night Judy lies in bed restlessly, unable to sleep. Two weeks into her new job, she is feeling nervous day and night. She is obsessed with trying to make sure that nothing goes wrong and that no one sees her make a mistake. She has to prove to everyone, including herself, that she is worthwhile. Judy believes that she is a failure if anything goes wrong. She needs to realize how never being appreciated growing up causes her to think that self worth comes from perfection.

If you are a perfectionist you push yourself, get overscheduled, promise too many things to too many people, or take on too much work. You judge yourself harshly when you fall short of your expectations or when you make mistakes. You probably would not treat someone you care about in the harsh manner that you treat yourself. You learn to measure your worth by your performance and equate excelling with deserving attention or praise if your parents rewarded you primarily for excelling.

The pursuit of excellence is different from a relentless need to be the best. When you seek perfection and cannot measure up to your ideal, your self- esteem decreases. Developing realistic standards and self- compassion go a long way to counteract stress that leads to burnout.

When you make mistakes, notice how do you feel about yourself. Notice the ways that you talk to yourself when you fall short of your ideal. You may not recognize that your standards for yourself are excessive. Pay attention during the day to the ways you tell yourself how you did not do something well enough or how you could have done things better. Has anyone else ever spoken to you in this way? You may have internalized the ways that your parent’s spoke to you. Now picture someone else talking to you the way you speak to yourself. Chances are you would not tolerate them talking to you in this same manner.

Ask yourself these questions:

How much do family and societal expectations of who I should be run my life?

What were their spoken and unspoken expectations of you?

How did your parents respond to you when you did not live up to their expectations?

How comfortable are you being average? If being average is unacceptable, why?

What were the behaviors that got you noticed and respect?

DEFINING YOURSELF BY EXTERNAL CRITERIA

We live in a society that measures worth by what you do rather than who you are. We are taught the measure of success has more to do with your image and what you produce than on internal qualities such as honesty, humor, or perceptiveness. This teaches you to define yourself by your achievements and by externally imposed ideas of how and who we should be. If your sense of identity and worth comes mainly from external criteria you are likely to overlook your needs and limits.

Corporate culture often reinforces the idea that your personal value is based on what you produce. If you grew up in a family that reinforces these cultural values, you learn to define yourself by others standards and validation. Judy’s view of herself was based on other people’s validation and not her own. The only way she got recognized growing up was when she excelled. She sought validation through her achievements. If your parents place a lot more value on your outer behaviors than on your innermost feelings and concerns, your desire for their approval causes you to adopt their ideas of how you should be rather than discovering your own values. You may equate your with self worth with measuring up to others’ standards. For example, you may think that if you conform to society’s ideas of how you should look, then you are acceptable. If you feel like you are not measuring up, you may compensate by pushing yourself in order to prove to the world and to yourself that you are okay.

Aside from your parents, you may also be trying to please friends and co-workers. Your relationship with peers can cause you to be externally directed. If you experienced being teased or left out by peers as a teenager a lot of your focus may be on being included and accepted. So when teens ostracize someone, that person can work extra hard to fit in as an adult. Your desire to be liked, accepted, to fit in, and measure up to some standard can lead to burnout. You can become too involved with work, give too much, push yourself and overlook your limits. The solution is to become more internally directed and self -validating. You do this by recognizing and valuing your intrinsic qualities, and by challenging cultural and parental messages.

Challenge your assumptions by asking yourself the following questions:

How important is it that others like you, and how do you feel when you are not liked? Can you accept and approve of yourself even when others do not accept you?

What thoughts and feelings get evoked when you contemplate rejecting or questioning your parents’ values? Do you have criteria about what makes you a worthwhile person that differs from your parent’s or the criteria of the society?,/P>

What “inner” qualities do you value about yourself that are unrelated to what other’s value in you? Examples include intelligence, resourcefulness, humor, and perceptiveness.

On a sheet of paper write, “what makes me a worthwhile human being?”

Then write a list of qualities, omitting achievements and what you do for others. Notice if this is difficult, and, if so, why?

Judy was frustrated and sad when she tried this exercise because she couldn’t identify intrinsic qualities in herself.

Self-awareness

Once you are aware of the beliefs and outdated coping strategies that cause you to become too invested in outcomes, push yourself too hard, overachieve, you have the opportunity to challenge them. You can recognize hidden forces that interfere with your ability to set limits and attend to your emotional needs as they are occurring in the moment. You can stop being so responsible and can developing realistic standards.

It is important to distinguish between past and current realities while reminding yourself that perceived threats are outdated. For example, when you do not perform well it does not mean you do not count or that you are less than someone else. If you do not separate past threats from the current reality, you will continue to act as if childhood consequences still exist in your adult life. Your identity and sense of worth is often shaped by family roles. For example, being in a confidante role for a parent could make you feel special, valued and connected to that parent. To be less responsible or perfect may pose a threat to your emotional survival and identity. Choosing not to listen to mom’s problems could result in losing your special connection and your sense of usefulness. The same can be said about the role of the strong one. If you did not go along with your assigned role and were less responsible, you may have lost connection with your parent’s .You may feel guilty for letting them down if you were not so responsible and strong and they were unhappy. Without realizing it, you may fear that being less responsible will cause you to be all alone or overwhelmed with helplessness. You may be convinced that being average or making a mistake will mean no one will value you. If you do not over achieve, you will not be valued. Jim, who I mentioned in the beginning, grew up with unstable caretakers where uncertainty led to chaos. He was unaware of how past influences still impact his adult behavior, and how always being in control is how he deals with the helplessness from his upbringing. The reason why Jim was unable to relax and relinquish control was because uncertainty associated with his upbringing. Your rational thoughts often have a logic that is different from your feelings. Even though his rational mind knew that uncertainty would not lead to harmful consequences, on an emotional level Jim was convinced the threat is real for all time and in all situations.

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Learning to listen to yourself

Listening to your inner self is a powerful antidote to burnout. It is hard to do when you are too concerned with being liked or with other’s perceptions of you. These habits keep you focused externally and this prevents you from paying attention to your inner world. Another reason you may avoid accessing your inner world is because this causes you to experience uncomfortable emotions. You tune out and deflect your attention away from loneliness, boredom, or areas of your life where you feel dissatisfaction by making work the center of your life. You can get so busy and focused on what is immediately in front of you that you do not take the time to listen to your feelings and your body. Sometimes you are able to hear your internal signals, but your agenda or obsessive focus on getting things done takes priority. By learning to listen to your body, feelings and intuition you can access and be guided by a deeper knowing about what is best for your well being. Your bodily sensations and emotions tell you when you need to slow down, exercise, set a limit, what to and not to eat, whether to be social or alone. You discover needs that are both general and specific in the moment. For example, you desire more supportive friendships or for a specific friend to be more supportive in the moment. The type of information that is revealed from deep listening is different from desires that are based on an impulse for instant gratification or escape.

Burnout begins gradually and occurs in stages. At first, you feel irritable, disillusioned, less energy, and life feels less fun. You think about work more when you are not at work, get physical symptoms like headaches and colds, and are less idealistic. In more advanced stages you may experience feelings of overwhelm and often get sick. You may be so numb or distracted by busyness that you are unaware of accumulating stress. If you are like most people, you only become concerned about burnout in the advanced stages when your health or important relationship is in danger. When you listen to your body and emotions that are not colored by childhood distortions, you detect the early warning signs of burnout. You will choose what is best for you and pay attention to what you really need. Taking the time to become attuned to your inner life fosters self care and is an antidote to a burnout personality. There are many times when you will not be able to change external circumstances that are stressful. However, you can minimize the negative effects of stress and learn to take care of yourself in ways that make you more resilient to external pressures. You accomplish this by counteracting beliefs and habits that foster burnout and that throw your life out of balance.

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