Category Archives: This So-Called Life

Early Morning Madness

Dear Kuya na Katabi Ko sa Shuttle,

Sana maging familiar tayo sa concept of seat sharing. 

Times like this make me wish that I were like Jane (Twilight reference – desperation has gotten me to this point). Then I could simply look at you, whisper, “Pain”, and watch you writhe in agony. 

At ngayon lang kita nakita in the 4 years I’ve been taking the shuttle every morning. Ano ka, giant mushroom?

Love,

Me

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StoryWeaver Stories: I Teach Life

Someone recently asked if I ever get tired and frustrated when I engage with a company for years only to teach the same thing over and over again. 

Truth? Yes, I get tired. But it’s the physical kind, brought about by all the walking around, making sure everyone’s on the same page. It’s because I don’t sit on my ass at the back of the room, leaving them alone and making that incredibly dangerous assumption that they’re doing it right only to shoot them down in the end. 

It’s also the mental kind of tired, from learning their past, understanding their present and trying to knit all those bits of information together so I could make sense of their future. It’s the constant turning of the wheels in my head, trying to find ways to make a complicated concept relevant and easy to understand. 

It’s also the emotional kind of tired, from listening to the stories that they’ve been secretly dying to tell. It’s the bringing of their experiences home with me, because their lives begin connecting with mine – when they cease to be random faces who will eventually evaluate me in the end and become individual persons with individual stories, each of which is important. 

But most of all, it’s the spiritual kind of tired – from standing aside and allowing them to go through what they need to go through in order for them to bloom after being broken. It’s from being secretly sorry for causing headaches and stress but understanding that it is a requirement so they will understand that they are capable of succeeding on their own. 

So yes, I do get tired. But frustrated?

Never. 

Not when I get to read their messages when the course is done. Not when I get to see twenty-somethings or thirty-somethings grow in a span of three days. Now when it sinks in that for a short span of time, in moments that sometimes feel so fleeting and temporary, I realize that I had somehow made a difference. 

When people ask what I teach, I give them the usual answers: I teach leadership, I teach wellness, I teach concepts and I teach frameworks. But this is my real answer: at the end of every course, of every topic, of every hour of every day, I teach life. 

I always find myself playing the part of a proud mother, basking in the reflected glory of my children’s triumph. In the many, many years that I have been doing this – as a consultant, as a trainer, as a tutor, as a mentor, as a leader, as a friend – and with the many, many pieces of myself that I have given, I find that I am forever grateful for those pieces of them they have also left with me. 

And when I see my group photos, when I see my batch pictures… Honestly, how could I not?

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The Truth About Tips and Trust

It’s become a habit for me to take a cab from where I get off the south shuttle in the morning to the office. The building isn’t far – I could close the distance in 7 minutes. 5 if I walked with a purpose. The cab ride isn’t necessary, but I’ve found it to be a luxury I could let myself take if only in exchange for more time to do the things that need to be done. 

Today I handed my morning driver the amount needed to cover my fare, with about a little under 20 to spare. As I reached for the door handle, he turns to me and says, “Ma’am, may sukli pa po kayo.”

Change. It’s been a trend. Cabbies are more observant to give change back when it is warranted. How different from that cabbie from more than a decade ago, who blatantly asked for extra payment when I had the audacity to give him the exact amount. 

Maybe change has come. Not only from them, but from me. I, who asked first if they had change, before giving my payment. I found myself saying that it was okay. I knew I had overpaid – albeit not by much. But still. 

I wonder if the cabbies zipping around the Metro have noticed this – that people are now more willing to give what they’ve asked for, simply because they stopped asking for it. 

It’s surprising, sometimes, how I find the thread that connects all things in my rather colorful life. Today marks the fifth graduation I’ve held for a course I researched, designed and launched one year ago. The second for this year alone. Despite not being as popular as our older, more established courses, we’ve never had to cancel a class yet. 

I am fiercely proud of it – this program that was researched from the ground up, built from a framework that originally contained material I found to be unusable due to either lack of clarity or lack of relevance. This was my first design and it hasn’t failed me yet. 

As with any product, it has gone through many, many iteration cycles, each shorter than the last. No design is perfect. No design is permanent. With a perpetually evolving world, I have come to realize that all designs must evolve with it. 

But I digress.

In one iteration cycle, I decided to strengthen the topic on Relational Trust. Finding that I could not clearly delineate it from Organizational Trust, I eventually found a way to merge the two concepts in one: Building Trust. Trust is a universal belief. It is a truth from which all relationships stem – personal, professional or organizational. Graduation day is always the day when trust is discussed. 

Funny how, in all places, I found today’s thread between tipping a cabbie in the morning and discussing trust in the afternoon. 

Trust, I realize, is similar to the tips given. The less you ask, the more people are willing to give it. 

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Echo

I suddenly realized that I tried too much to be like you that I forgot to be myself. 

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2016.1: Starting Over Again

So obviously I haven’t been writing as much as I’ve been wanting to. There are days when something pops out of my mouth and I think, “That sounds awesome – that would look awesome in my blog!” And then I would completely end up NOT doing it. 

Or, like last night, when I hap opened this app (I’ve decided to try mobile story-creation), typed in “2016: Dear My 22-Year-Old Self” and then, after 5 minutes of not writing anything, I discarded the offendingly empty post. 

And so here I am, trying to restarts my journey into writing. Let’s hope this works out.  

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2015: Top 5

I recently took an online assessment which eventually told me what my top 5 strengths were. Upon reading the results, I came to the conclusion that I was unbearably honest while responding to the 177 questions.

Here were my Top 5:

1. Deliberative

Shared Theme Description:
People who are especially talented in the Deliberative theme are best described by the serious care they take in making decisions or choices. They anticipate the obstacles.

What Makes Me Stand Out?
Instinctively, you sometimes take time to reflect on what people say, reaching conclusions only after thoughtfully weighing the information, rather than reacting to the moment. Your practicality might have a sobering effect on certain types of discussions. Now and then, you intensify your own or other people’s capacity to consider “the bigger picture.” Because of your strengths, you select your friends with great care. You are comfortable nurturing up-close and personal relationships with these chosen individuals. The quality of your relationships is much more important to you than the number of people who say you are their friend. Driven by your talents, you might approach some days with a matter-of- fact or practical attitude. Sometimes you expect to do your work flawlessly. You may strive to reach the high standards you establish for yourself. Perhaps these are a bit more stringent or detailed than those set for you by others. By nature, you offer verbal feedback and positive reinforcement that is equal in measure to people’s accomplishments. Even though you praise sparingly, your words echo in the minds and hearts of recipients. When you compliment individuals, they have no doubt they are truly worthy of recognition. Chances are good that you choose not to reveal to others too much about yourself, your thoughts, and your feelings. You exercise great care and weigh all possible risks when you interact with people. You prefer to give sincere and well-deserved compliments. You are likely to refrain from acknowledging the talents, contributions, and accomplishments of individuals and groups until you have clear evidence they merit special acclaim.

My Own Conclusions (Did you really think I wasn’t going to put this in?):
Yes, I am not given to whims of fancy. It’s very unlikely that I will start screaming my head off in times of crises. I will very seldom have emotional outbursts (but when I do, expect a barrage of text messages or a phone call describing the incident complete with details). It’s not that I have no emotions – I just have them buried deep, deep, deep, deep down inside.

It’s true that I refuse to affirm for the sake of affirming. I don’t give recognition often, but when I do, I mean it. So if you’re just looking for affirmation, I am so not the person to go to. Unless you want to be bitterly disappointed.

My personal bubble is extremely big. I’m choosy – I don’t have a lot of friends, but the ones I have are the ones I intent to keep for life (until they wrong me, at which point I will hunt them down). I have requirements for friendships. Seriously.

I am intensely private and slightly obsessive-compulsive. You are not allowed to touch my things just because we’re friends. My friends are divided into “levels”. Just because we’ve known each other for a lifetime doesn’t mean you’re in my inner circle. So, following this line of logic, going out of town with me for four days… You know how this statement ends.

2. Competition

Shared Theme Description:
People who are especially talented in the Competition theme measure their progress against the performance of others. They strive to win first place and revel in contests.

What Makes Me Stand Out?
Because of your strengths, you are eager to broaden your knowledge and expand your skills when comparisons are made between you and your opponents. Sometimes your rivalries are public. Sometimes they are known only to you. Either way, you are determined to be victorious by capturing the top prize, finishing in first place, or being declared the very best. Driven by your talents, you consistently aim to turn in the prize-winning performance. A second- or third-place finish can send you into an emotional tailspin. Your ability to pull out of it depends on your other talents. Instinctively, you refuse to be content with your performance until you have been declared the most capable, successful, or accomplished person in the group. Just knowing you are being compared to others gives you the extra energy and determination you need to surpass everyone else’s performance. Chances are good that you are enthused about being declared the very best. The experience of winning likely means much more to you than any monetary reward. It’s very likely that you act like a rival when you are pitted against others and only one person can be declared the very best at something. Your deep-seated desire to finish in first place probably drives many of your choices and explains much of your behavior.

My Own Conclusions:
I am literally the most competitive person I know (well, except Lady J). I cannot stand being second best. I have to be the best. I guess that’s why I do the things I do. I revel in bragging rights – the money is nice but it’s really not the end all, be all for me. The thing about me, however, is that whenever I don’t come out on top, I immediately think it’s my fault. I’m not the type to blame it on… others. We also know where this is going.

3. Achiever

Shared Theme Description:
People who are especially talented in the Achiever theme have a great deal of stamina and work hard. They take great satisfaction from being busy and productive.

What Makes Me Stand Out?
It’s very likely that you ordinarily take time and exert extra effort to comprehend what you are reading. You probably refuse to rush through written material. Why? You likely intend to commit to memory as many facts and concepts as possible. Instinctively, you tend to be a very good adviser to many individuals. When offering suggestions or asking questions, you probably are much more engaged, intense, and involved than usual. Driven by your talents, you possess the physical and mental endurance to withstand hardships as well as stress. Characteristically you work harder and longer than most people are capable of doing. By nature, you tend to be quite selective about the company you keep. You prefer to spend time with individuals who are trustworthy. You consciously avoid people whose words and deeds indicate they value honesty less than you do. Chances are good that you labor tirelessly when you know your performance and results are being compared to those of other people. You probably find it hard to recall a time when you failed for lack of effort. You are naturally motivated to be the very best — not merely one of the top finishers. Your satisfaction comes from being “number one.”

My Own Conclusions:
This strengths apparently compliments “Competition” very well. I see a trend in my strengths. Seriously.

I do react to stress fairly well. When I say “I work well under pressure”, I’m actually not lying. I think it’s my ability to compartmentalize and “shelf” things that allow me to do this. There are times when the stress does get to me, but that takes a long while (but when it does I end up getting sick. I’m psychosomatic.)

I told you I have requirements for friends. With the trustworthy thing – let’s put it in perspective. My moral compass does not exactly point north, so I can’t be with someone who’s straight as an arrow (because eventually I will have to kill him). However, the people I deal with must be people I can trust – those who I know will not leave me hanging in the air or say something about me behind my back (seriously – if it’s true, say it to my face).

4. Intellection

Shared Theme Description:
People who are especially talented in the Intellection theme are characterized by their intellectual activity. They are introspective and appreciate intellectual discussions.

What Makes Me Stand Out?
It’s very likely that you are willing to spend time sharing your ideas with intelligent individuals. Of course, you want them to tell you their latest thinking. Conversations that involve a lot of questions and answers stimulate your mind. You know you have spent your time wisely when you have a number of new ideas, theories, or concepts to somehow file away or remember for future use. Because of your strengths, you are a well-read individual. People whom you have befriended turn to you for guidance. Often you help them see a situation or problem from a different perspective because of something you discovered while surveying a book, article, letter, or Internet site. For you, reading is the key that opens the door to a world of fresh ideas. You collect them, never knowing when something you read will benefit someone else. Instinctively, you sometimes enliven or stop conversations with your thought-provoking statements, unusual viewpoints, jarring questions, pointed demands, or candid opinions. Sometimes you deftly play the devil’s advocate — that is, take the opposing view. Once in a while, you force people to think philosophically about the meaning of good, evil, truth, justice, or happiness. Driven by your talents, you are the ideal example of a person with an open and agile mind. Thinking consumes a great portion of your time. You like to exchange ideas with individuals who are as well-read as you are. Your passion for the written word fuels your thought processes and lays the groundwork for sophisticated conversations. When you are alone, you probably reflect upon the thoughts of brilliant writers or the findings of notable researchers. Chances are good that you probably need a place where you can be alone to reflect on your experiences or conversations with people. You often draw conclusions about a person’s knowledge, skills, talents, likes, dislikes, or moods. These insights naturally influence how you interact with that individual in the coming days, weeks, or months.

My Own Conclusions:
I told you I had requirements!!! My people need to be smart. The don’t need to be brilliant, but they do need to be able to carry a decently, intellectually-stimulating conversation whenever they’re five feet away from me.

In senior year, while we were collecting all those things we wanted to show in our yearbooks, I had a friend who wrote “A thinker” on my “What Can You Say About Me?” sheet. That always stuck with me. Maybe I’ve always been like this or maybe he just knew me really well. More than two decades later, I guess things haven’t really changed that much.

I love to read!!! Reading is an escape, a chance to travel without ever having to leave my bed. A chance to become someone else, or live vicariously through a genuinely-written character. It was Nancy Drew that started it all for me in third grade. I haven’t stopped since then.

And, because I’m mean and I have to say this, reading does help me with my vocabulary. I mean, at least I know how to pronounce “siphon”.

5. Significance

Shared Theme Description:
People who are especially talented in the Significance theme want to be very important in the eyes of others. They are independent and want to be recognized.

What Makes Me Stand Out?
By nature, you can prod people to accomplish more than they thought possible. You purposely make an effort to know each one as an individual. You probably discover and appreciate the qualities that make every human being unique. Driven by your talents, you urge, coax, and even demand that individuals do whatever it takes to reach their goals. When you step forward and exercise your authority, most people let you push and prod them toward excellence. Instinctively, you seek jobs and assignments that allow you to influence people to do whatever needs to be done. You are eager to be in a position of authority. Chances are good that you look for people who share your strong work ethic and your desire for excellence. Apparently, it is easier for you to partner with individuals who are highly productive and industrious. You tend to define your worth and value in terms of what you do, how much you do, and how well you do it. You feel most successful when important people notice your accomplishments. Their opinions probably motivate you to work even harder and longer the next time. It’s very likely that you yearn to get ahead. You strive to acquire many of the status symbols and special privileges that come with rank, title, or position.

My Own Conclusions:
I can’t work with people who don’t have the same work ethic as I do. I seriously cannot take it. I’ve been known to be a slave driver (it’s true), a really, really harsh critic (it’s also true), and a bitch to work with (very, very true) – but this is because my standards are incredibly high. I have difficulty working with people who are less than competent – this speaks more of me, I know. But I am impatient when talking to someone who just cannot get it after a million explanations.

*          *          *

When I went through my Top 5 Strengths, I realized that I have no relational strengths. Seriously. I dislike humans. It’s very seldom that I find an automatic, effortless connection with one (and when I do, it’s usually with a person who dislikes humans as well). It’s not that I don’t want friends, it’s just that I’m not going to go out of my way to collect more than the ones I already have.

So these are my strengths in a nutshell. Pretty accurate, won’t you say?

Dark & Twisty…

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2014: Random Acts of Kindness

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People talk of kindness all the time, but it’s rarely seen in real life. But speaking of real life, let me tell you about a real story.

In a rather well-known restaurant in the south, a couple decided to have dinner after a long day at work. Mainly due to the wife’s insistence, they ended up with 2 viands, a noodle dish and a cup of rice. After eating as mush as they could, they still ended up having both viands doggie bagged. As per their normal routine, each decided to light up a cigarette.

While finishing their respective sticks, a couple of street childred came by, selling flower necklaces made of jasmine (well, three pieces of jasmine, really). After several attempts to sell their garlands, the husband finally looked over to his wife and said, “Okay lang ba kung ibigay nalang natin yung isang ulam sa kanila?” (Do you mind if we give one bag to them?)

His wife agreed, saying, “Of course not! It’s still better that just giving them money outright.”

The husband gave one of the bags to one of the boys. “Hating kapatid yan, ha!” (Share it equally, okay?)

After a word of thanks, the children went off to a side and started picking on the food they had been given. The husband noticed this, eyed the remaining bad, turned to his wife and said, “Ibigay na kaya natin ‘to sa kanila?” (Why don’t we just give them the rest of the food?)

With a nod from his wife, he gets up, and tells the children, “Jan lang kayo.” (Stay there). He then goes back in the restaurant. Upon caming back out, he was empty handed. He tells the kids to sit down at the next table. Less than two minutes later, a waiter comes out carrying two plates of rice, the viand in a nice plate and two glasses of iced water.

*          *          *

Again, people talk about kindness all the time, but this is the first time in a long while that I personally witnessed an act so selfless and so random that it just completely overwhelmed me.

After seeing that, I think that that man stands the kindest man on earth. And I am the luckiest woman in the world because that man is my husband.

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