First Hopeful Post in 2021 #weeklysmile

It’s been almost a week since I got back from an extended stay in a small town surrounded by great, seemingly untouched mountains just a few hours away from the city. It was a much needed ‘retreat’, digital detox and all, and a spontaneous decision after an out-of-town trip during Christmas. Within this ‘time-out’, husband and I found a secret beach, ate good, wholesome food (I caught on late, air fryers are such game-changers!) and visited a few historical sites from our weekly exploration of this small town and surrounding areas. It was easier to safely distance physically in a small town surprisingly outside the radar of holidaying tourists. With refreshed minds and worries left behind, we also managed to start a few passion projects and even get short-listed for a startup grant by a venture capitalist. Nothing is set in stone but just having a few things to look forward to and learn in the process are welcome opportunities, especially after a wearying 2020. Entering a new year with some good news helped achieve a new year ‘high’, however fleeting, and flex some of those ‘hope’ muscles. I’ve decided to not make any big 2021 plans and just take it one day at a time. I only plan to not take any blessing or opportunity for granted, make the most of my time and take care of myself and my people, and hopefully have more than enough to help others around me.

How about you? I hope you’ve had some good news or encouragement this new year💜

These trees hid the secret beach we found a few weeks ago.
I had a view of this mountain from the balcony of our temporary home over the holidays.
A quaint cafe in the courtyard of a museum we visited one weekend.
A garden cafe in the middle of nowhere.
One of the oldest cathedrals in a UNESCO Heritage Village the country.
Inside the cathedral.

SoCS – Some Rings To/On It

I haven’t worn my ring in awhile, or any jewelry for that matter. Hubby and I are not all that into jewelry or accessories, save for his small collection of watches. Makes me think we should have gone for something else, like a watch for him or a pair of earrings or necklace for me. Because I’m not used to it, I try not to remove it (which is against my instinct) when I wash my hands in public restrooms so as not to lose it. One time though, while on a business trip in Macau, I removed my rings once to wash my hands in a hurry and forgot about them, both my wedding ring and another accessory, for about 2 hours. I was dining with friends in the same hotel when I noticed my ringless fingers. My friends and I hurriedly went to the concierge, with little hope of getting it back. In my head I was already thinking of whether to order the same ring and not tell hubby about the first one getting lost, or just to come clean about losing it. Luckily, after about 15-20 minutes of waiting while the staff checked with the rest of her team for any missing rings found in washrooms, someone found and reported them missing to security. The staff and my friends thought I was very lucky someone even returned it, and that they found it right away and just in time before I had to catch my flight out of Macau.

On the subject of rings, I remember my wacky engagement a few years back. My then fiancé and I were on our third trip and was getting ready for our next stop. I was fixing our bags when a velvety box fell out of his backpack. We both stared at it in surprise, him because it was not how he planned to show it and me supressing a laugh. A few minutes later, we couldn’t keep it in and just started laughing in short bursts for a good 30 minutes or so. I told him to not feel pressured and to still go with his plan whenever he wished and I’d just pretend the box incident didn’t happen. He finally did ask me to marry him the next morning at a deserted beach, or at least we were alone for a few hours enjoying the waters before the tourists came in hordes. It was a good way to start a day, a good day to get engaged 😊.

Where he popped the question.
The rings. The one with the ruby accent in the center is the engagement ring which he designed, knowing that I’m not really into diamonds. The other one stacked on top is the infinity wedding ring which matches his platinum band.

This post is part of SoCS.

Seat At The Table

I found this very informative talk/video encouraging, stimulating and hopeful in almost equal parts. While the responsibility lies largely on this generation, it helps paint a brighter future if we start getting our act together as a global community and start working together instead of in silos, enormous challenges in themselves but not impossible. Which other generation has had the privilege to solve the world’s problems with all the information we need at our fingertips?

Another video I found highly informative and inspiring is this ted talk by Simon Anholt. It’s encouraging to know that about 10% of the world’s population share the same values/perspective as global citizens/globalists. That can make up a country with the 3rd highest population in the world. If you think in these terms, know that you are not alone in worrying about our future and where the world is headed.

Happy Breaks and A Vote From a Kid

I’ve mentioned it before in a few other posts that I rarely check facebook nowadays and if I do, it’s only for a few minutes. I did today and found some happy updates/posts. First is an engagement announcement by my cousin c/o his new fiancé. She tagged it as something beautiful in 2020. Indeed 😊. Another happy couple I know got married recently after being together for about 10 years. I guess the challenges this year have made minds clearer on important/urgent things in life or at least, some direction we want to take.

Guess I’m not deleting or deactivating Facebook, at least not yet. Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Another post I saw was from NZ’s PM Jacinda Ardern. She got a letter from a 6 year-old kid expressing how upset s/he was to learn that s/he can’t vote yet. The kid went ahead and created his/her own ballot paper. While I’d rather kids not grow up too fast and carry the world’s problems on their shoulders too soon, It is amazing to inspire them to be involved in society this early, to engage in matters than concern the larger community. That’s worthy of praise and quite an accomplishment, one that I imagine she (NZ’s beloved PM) didn’t plan to do but managed to accomplish anyway.

Here’s the link to the post. I hope it cheers you up as well.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com
Photo by Khaled Akacha on Pexels.com

This post is part of Happy Tuesday and Awww Monday.

More Qs – Mind Over Heart, Dead Plants and Superstitions

I came across another Q&A post and found it to be one by crunchityfrog which pcguyiv rolled into one post (thumbs up, pcguyiv!). Here goes:

In your opinion, is it harder to exercise more or to eat healthier?

Yes, it’s harder to exercise, at least for me. Exercising takes more time/effort although eating healthier can be more costly in most places.

What funny or embarrassing story does your family often tell about you?

I don’t consider them funny or embarrassing, ok maybe kinda funny. They say I used to sleepwalk as a kid but they didn’t realize it until after several instances because they could still have a conversation with me when I was in that state (while rummaging through the pantry or fridge a few flights of stairs from my bedroom lol). They had to add/change locks every now and then because I can still work them in my sleepwalking state.

What holiday did you enjoy as a child but do not celebrate today?

Surprised to realize it’s Lent c/o my aunt who was actively involved in raising me and my siblings. She would always bring us somewhere nice during Holy Week. Now I’m no longer Catholic and even if I still were, it would be an odd, unlikely choice.

Does your heart rule your mind or vice versa?

Vice versa. I always thought my guardian raised me in the military style. I had to work on acknowledging and working on my emotions almost as an adult.

What superstitions do you have regarding the kitchen?

None. Come to think of it, I haven’t heard of any particularly regarding the kitchen.

Does a black cat loitering in the kitchen count? Photo by David Bartus on Pexels.com

Does a person have to be either a night owl or a morning person?

No. I think it boils down to what works for the person. I used to be a night owl, then I became a morning person with traces of night owl tendencies lol.

Have you ever carried a one-sided friendship along? When did you stop watering that dead plant?

Yes, for too long. I had an unhealthy messianic complex up until my late 20s. I stopped when I realized it wasn’t worth it. Life’s too short to waste on unhealthy relationships.

An Exercise in Positivity #weeklysmile

This alone got me smiling when I saw it. An opportunity in the form of a prompt to share/spread positivity, why not? Do head over at trentsworldblog for the guidelines and to join in.

I barely check facebook/fb for some months now and when I do, it’s only for a few minutes. This conscious fb fast is a decision I made even before covid happened. I did, in the past, post regularly and some of these posts come up via facebook memories. The most recent memory that came up was a photo taken at work a decade ago where my then colleagues turned friends were planning a reunion. For some reasons, I was fortunate to have made the most friends and had the most fun during that time in my career. That’s also where I met my first guy best friend. Sadly, he passed away almost a decade ago of cancer, about a year or so after the photo was taken. He was 30, too young and with a lot going for him. He was well-loved by many and made the workplace fun despite the stresses from our workload. Business was doing great but we were understaffed so sleep was ultra luxury back then. My friend was working overseas when he learned about his cancer and decided to be with his family during treatment. At the time, I didn’t know how to comfort him, but he didn’t seem to need it. His last few months he was genuinely at peace, serene. It was amazing to witness. Even when he was dying and almost immobile, he made people around him happy each visit. It was hard for me to understand then but his attitude and grace about death left an impact on all of us, his family and friends. Even now he puts a smile to our faces.

This song reminds me of my best friend when I heard it just a couple of years ago.

Lyrics

I lit a fire with the love you left behind
And it burned wild and crept up the mountain side.
I followed your ashes into outer space
I can’t look out the window
I can’t look at this place
I can’t look at the stars
They make me wonder where you are
Stars
Up on heaven’s boulevard
And if I know you at all
I know you’ve gone too far
So I, I can’t look at the stars

All those times we looked up at the sky
Looking out so far
We felt like we could fly.
And now I’m all alone in the dark of night
The moon is shining but I can’t see the light

And I can’t look at the
Stars
They make me wonder where you are
Stars
Up on heaven’s boulevard
And if I know you at allI know you’ve gone too far
So I, I can’t look at the stars

Stars
Stars
They make me wonder where you are
Stars

Up on heaven’s boulevard
And if I know you at all
I know you’ve gone too far
So I can’t look at the stars

This is also written for Three Things Challenge

Remembering Happy Times

This challenge brought a smile to my face. I didn’t have a lot of pictures as a kid but pure, happy times tend to stick around longer. Remember the movie Inside Out?

Memories from Childhood

I enjoyed drawing / designing dresses for a time and bringing paper dolls wherever I went instead of plushies or the bigger ones. Receiving crayons or jars of paint and sorting them out were more preferable to expensive toys I’d receive as gifts.

One of my aunties would bring me to work a lot and she was in concert production for years. This exposed me to music of all kinds, genres and decades. I’ d use money I saved from my allowance or weekend ‘work’ to buy cassette tapes back then (Thank God for Spotify nowadays).

I remember writing a horror/suspense story after reading my first few horror novels (not exactly by choice, just my brother’s books lying around). This started a pile of notebooks from a few years of journaling.

I realized a lot of the stuff I enjoyed like reading comics, assembling toy robots and wrestling were more because I spent time enjoying them with my brother or friends more than anything else.

Working on the weekends was also a lot of fun as this helped me earn some coins for my piggy bank.

Back in University, languages (Spanish and Japanese) put me right or at least took away the stress from STEM coursework or extra-curriculars.

Some weekend classes are for creating.
They say working with your hands is good for the brain. Duh.

Someone said it is never too late to have a happy childhood. I luckily have some memories of a happy childhood, albeit a short one. Pre-covid, exploring/ slow traveling (as part of self-discovery, growth/soul work, looking outward) and self-education healed me from some painful or hurtful experiences in adulthood and some part of childhood. These efforts paid off and helped me rediscover or restore my joy. Nowadays writing, reading and cooking brings me joy, or at least calms me down. Not everything can be right all the time but looking inward and working on my self help me cope with challenging times and whatever chaos there is around me.

One spring in Japan
I like flowers on trees than on pots or vases.
Trying local food in a new place may not always satisfy taste but can always satiate in other ways.

Written for Cee’s On the Hunt for Joy Challenge

Traveling In The Dark

She hurriedly grabbed her bag and went out to look for him. She hardly knew him but he has some answers for her, that she’s at least sure of. Besides, he’s the only one who’s traveled the way she did this past year. I have to find him before it’s too late.

She found him just as a curtain of dark clouds covered the skies.

“We have to go,” she said, urgently. “Did you find the way?”

“It should be here any minute now,” he assured her.

He grabbed her hand just as a whooshing sound carried them both to a different time, a different place, not of their choosing, but where the answers are.

For visually challenged writers, the image shows a bank of dark clouds rolling in across a sunny moor, casting its shadow on the hills of the horizon.

This story was written for Sue’s #writephoto challenge.

Employee Review

Photo by Miguel u00c1. Padriu00f1u00e1n on Pexels.com

I used to work for this young family just outside the city. They live in a dreamy cottage by the hill, where the birds sing their songs in the morning and cattle with names like Connie Francis lounge by the creek. It was idyllic if not for the…

Oh, I know them,” Diana interrupted. “I don’t know how he can stand her rude behavior. It gets me incensed every time.”

Anne nodded in agreement. “And he leaves most of the parenting of their gifted child in the hands of that boorish woman.

Diana sighed. “I hope that kid could still grow up to be a high-quality person.” Both fell silent with their thoughts.

United in their resolve to leave the town for good, the two women continue with their task to clean the walls outside the house, for the last time.

Written for these prompts: Ragtag Daily Prompt (dreamy), Three Things Challenge (Been, Clean & Wall), The Daily Spur (song), Fandango’s One-Word Challenge (boorish), Your Daily World Prompt (incensed), Jibber Jabber (quality), and Word of the Day Challenge (united).

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