Single During the Love Month

Valentine’s Day is around the corner. It’s gonna be Single Awareness Day for me.

Who says you can’t be happy and be single at the same time? Not me.

By the way, three years ago…

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The Hang

“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. When I let go of what I have, I receive what I need.” –Tao Te Ching

It’s been a while since I last whipped out my tarot cards. Having slept all day and unable to sleep tonight, I decided to kill my boredom by doing a reading. I opted to pick one card from my deck with the intention for the card to tell me something I needed to understand.

I drew out The Hanged Man.

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Looking at the card, the first thing I noticed was how chill the guy was despite hanging by a foot from a tree. His other leg was bent and his arms were behind his back. It’s like he’s on vacation! His situation was not worrying him it seems. Also, because he was hanging by a foot, I would have expected for gravity to have stronger pull on him. So why was he still so relaxed and at peace despite the predicament he is in?

From my intuition and research, The Hanged Man card can be said to signify letting go and surrendering to “what is.” Hanging upside down can mean looking at things differently as well.

Let it go. I have heard it a lot the past few days. I didn’t like myself these past few days to be honest.

In yoga

I learned how to flip my downward dog already. I managed to make a split with my right leg forward. Yet, I still cannot manage Chaturanga Dandasana (Four-Limbed Staff Pose) no matter how I tried.

My belly keeps dropping first, my shoulders collapse, and everything else always goes wrong when I attempt it. So, I asked for the teacher’s guidance on how to do it. At home, I watched YouTube videos on how to do it. Yet, no matter how hard I tried, my elbows won’t bend when I try to move from high plank to low plank. Then, I collapse on my mat.

Rina, my work colleague who inspired me to try yoga again, is very encouraging. She keeps on telling me not to rush myself and to not be ashamed of going for modified poses when I cannot do the main ones yet. But, stubborn me and my pride won’t let it go. So, despite my sore muscles, I kept trying and trying to do it at home.

Long story short, I now have very sore shoulders that hurt every time I raise my arms. I pushed myself too hard beyond my limit. All because I couldn’t accept that I am not yet strong enough to pull of the move.

In my relationships

I do not understand why I still keep on reaching out to people I want to avoid. They make me feel like crap, but I still approach them anyway, trying to see any sliver of hope that I can make the relationship work.

There’s someone I haven’t seen in a long time but I refuse to go out and see this person. Why? I am mightily scared of this person because of a long history of unhappy experiences. Yet, I am pissed at myself because I still care even if it’s just a little bit.

So, I sent this person gifts for Christmas through a courier. I did not hear anything although this person received the package. Don’t get me wrong. I was not expecting to hear this person’s gratitude or to receive gifts in return. Any reaction was highly acceptable. I just needed assurance that this person is still alive and kicking.

I told my friend, Alex, about it. I told him I felt like crap because I made a conscious decision to stay away from that person at all costs, yet I reach out and hope for a reaction. I am so messed up.

Alex told me to let it go. He’s right. But all I could think of doing was replying with a GIF of Channing Tatum in Elsa’s costume, singing “Let It Go.”

In my faith

I was talking to my work colleague, Hanna, about my recent attempts to attend the church services of this born-again Christian group. I opened up to her about my Catholic upbringing and my lack of the habit to go to church every Sunday to hear mass. I shared with her my reasons for looking into attending church service outside my Catholic religion.

While we were on the topic, I also admitted to her how everything still feels different for me. One of the things that feel so foreign to me is seeing people sing with their arms raised up and their eyes closed. I told her how much I wondered how profound those people’s experiences are of God that they could do that without fear of judgment. I bet that if I were to do that, I will feel mightily embarrassed. Don’t get me wrong. I am faithful; just not showy.

Hanna replied that she was told by someone that being able to do that means you have been freed of the shackles around your wrists (metaphorically). I guess that by being free from those chains, one becomes less inhibited to display their faith that way.

Back to the card

If were the one hanging by a foot, I bet I would have been in a panic while trying to grab on to the branch to free myself. I doubt I’ll be able to do that given my weak core muscles though. But, you get the point. I could never be as chill as that guy in the card.

I have a bad habit of holding close everything that is dear to me. Letting go has not been my biggest skill even if I preach it to other people. So, it’s good to be reminded of what I need to practice on.

 

Rams and Horses

“A horse loves freedom, and the weariest old work horse will roll on the ground or break into a lumbering gallop when he is turned loose into the open.” ― Gerald Raftery

I was born in 1991. When I turned to Google to know more about this year, it turns out that it was a very eventful one. Thanks to Wikipedia, I learned that the following are just some of the events that took place on the year I was born:

  • It was the end of the Cold War
  • India turned its back on socialism and autarky
  • The first website was created
  • The Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) was formed in The Hague, Netherlands.

The last bit actually took place on my birthday.

Every last few days of the year, Filipinos have a fondness for having fortune-tellers, who are knowledgable in astrology, be interviewed on TV to share what’s in-store for people based on their zodiac signs and the year they were born. While I believe that we make our own fate, it’s sometimes fun to indulge in these stuff just for the sake of it.

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Photo by Trinity Kubassek on Pexels.com

Growing up, I thought I was born on the Year of the Ram/Goat/Sheep like my Mom who was born in April of 1955. At home, Mom and I had the closest personalities and I just attributed that to the possibility that being born rams had something to do with that.

A recent conversation with my Singaporean cousin-in-law about Chinese Zodiac got me thinking about personality assessments I used to read as a child about the signs and wondered what it “meant” to be an Aquarius child born on the Year of the Ram. A little research and Googling of my birthday led me to discover a shocker. I was born on the Year of the Horse.

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Here’s the thing about Chinese Zodiac. Even if they say that 1991 is the Year of the Ram, you have to check whether your birth date is before or after the Chinese New Year of your birth year. So, since I was born on February 11 and Chinese New Year that time was on the 14th, I technically still fall under the Year of the Metal Horse instead of the Metal Sheep.

So what’s the difference between the two? These are lifted from Travel China Guide website:

Horse

Sheep

Enthusiastic and energetic Gentle and calm
Warm-hearted Sensitive to art and beauty
Does not give up easily Loves quiet life
Independent and has strong endurance Hardworking and persistent
Too blunt Indecisive
Upright Timid
Easygoing Moody
Helpful Wise
Friendly Compassionate
Loves spending Sticks to prescribed order
Always works on self-improvement Lacks flexibility

I see that they have some qualities that are not far from the other, but also have opposite ones. I actually think I am a mix of both.

Then again, that’s what we are as humans. We have different sides to us and those sides make us the perfectly imperfect beings that we should embrace. We are all just trying to make a sense of this thing called life and one trait should not define our entire being. The same goes for our mistakes. We are not dolls that can be put in boxes and labeled because we are dynamic beings. We’re always evolving, always changing, and hopefully, always improving.

So, while I enjoy reading about personality assessments and stuff, I still believe that we make our own destiny in this world. We cannot discount our capacity for love and forgiveness because we are capable of so much more than we think we are. With our lives interlaced, things happen around us based on choices we make, good or bad. I don’t think that the alignment of the stars can influence that.

That being said, I will now be reading what’s in-store for people born on the Year of the Horse this 2019. Just because I don’t believe in fortune-telling does not mean I do not like being told I will have a lucky year. Who knows? There might be a sweet coincidence waiting to happen for me next year.

Perks of Having a More Successful Older Sibling

“Sister is probably the most competitive relationship within the family, but once the sisters are grown, it becomes the strongest relationship.” –Margaret Mead 

They say the youngest child is the luckiest child in a family. I am not sure I can say that with the deepest conviction. Maybe it’s because in our family, there’s only my elder sister and me. That makes me the “younger” child and not the “youngest.” That does not make me the middle child either so I do not think I have the right to say I feel the sufferings of a middle child. Let’s just settle on being the last kid.

Growing up, I always felt like I was my sister’s shadow. It was like my whole being was attached to my sister’s. As a kid, I remember Mom buying two sets of the same clothes (some exactly the same or some in the same style but in a different color) for me and my sister to wear. Lots of people thought we were twins with my sister having the advantage of being the taller one. That was when our sizes were not too far apart yet because when my sister eventually grew at a much faster rate, we stopped wearing similar clothing. That is, she got to wear new clothes while I wore her old ones.

Hand-me-downs. When I was younger, I really felt bad about always having to use stuff my sister outgrew or got bored with already. I felt so undeserving of being spent on. It wasn’t until I started working that I truly learned the value of money and learned to see the positive side of hand-me-downs.

I recently went to Hong Kong and my sister wanted to buy a new Fitbit watch. She wanted the one that had a heart rate monitor because her Fitbit Alta did not have that feature. Guess who goes back to Manila with a Fitbit on her wrist? Uh-huh. You guessed it!

I remember all the other stuff that I my sister passed on to me every time she bought a newer version or model for herself. The first was her iPhone 4s, then the iPhone 5c in that bright pink color, then her iPhone 5s. Yeah, my sister is quite the Apple fan. I’m waiting for her to buy herself a new Macbook laptop so I can get my hands on her Macbook Air that she bought several years ago.

Being given hand-me-downs meant not having to buy expensive stuff for myself. Since I was not so particular about always having the latest model of phones, I was contented with her hand-me-downs even if that meant having the phone on life support (frequent plugging to the power bank) a year later. I used to be pissed about using stuff she already used but these days, when she asks me if I would like one of her old stuff because she’s planning on getting herself a new one, I highly encourage her to make the new purchase. I dare not question her choices at all (insert an rotfl emoji here).

Oh how things and priorities change when you reach adulthood…img_9159

A Bottle of Happiness

I love bottles. I love jars. I don’t know why. When we go to the household section of a mall, I always look for the rows of bottles and jars. It’s not like I buy one every single time, but I like looking at those stuff. The crazier and the smaller, the more I feel like a toddler given a teddy bear. Plastic is mmmmmkay; glass is perfect.

Sometimes, I would look at them and think of what I can put inside, trying to find justification should I decide to buy one. When I started baking, I thought a cookie jar would be cool so I have a nicer way of presenting the cookies I bake and bring my colleagues. I figured that cookies looked more appetizing in a proper container. I still haven’t gotten one, thank God.

I wonder why I like these little containers so much when I suck at organizing. Sometimes, I tease my mom that I used to be a mambobote in my past life. In my native tongue, bote/botelya means bottle. A mambobote is a junk collector who goes around collecting empty bottles and old newspapers to sell them to the junkshop.

Some bottles can be so adorable at times that I buy not for the sake of the contents, but for the packaging.

Sometimes, I buy stuff because I was after the freebie. In one instance, I got an earful from my mom for buying a huge box of artificial sugar substitute because I was after the mini mason jar/mug that came with it. I now use the jar for my instant yeast for breadmaking.

Sometimes, I encourage Mom to get stuff I am not sure I even like or will like because they were in cute containers. Recently, I supported her wish to try an apple chutney because the jar it was in was too adorable.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not a hoarder yet. I cannot even consider myself a collector. Ican still exercise self control when I know I will have no use for the stuff eventually. Still, I wonder why I like these stuff.

Is it because I tend to bottle up my feelings? Does it tell me I feel empty inside? Hmmmm…

I like to think that I just view an empty bottle or jar as a sign of all the space there is for possibilities and creativity. That being said, I saw these cute bottles in the shape of a lightbulb from a brand called Kasa Ko (translates to “my house”). It made me want to go on a bartending/cocktail mixing workshop so I can fill them up with colorful drinks that I can pretend to be potions. My inner witch was excited upon seeing them, hihihi…

I wonder if I was a genie before and lived in a bottle or a lamp. That might be another explanation! Hahaha…

To Grandpa With Love

Dear Abuelito,

Last Friday, you would have celebrated your 107th birthday. I wonder if you celebrate birthdays in heaven.

I do not have much memories with you. Mom did say you used to pass by the house and visit me as a baby. Turns out, you still drove a car at 80. I feel so good about knowing you used to spend time just to look at me sleep. I wonder if you carried me a lot because I happened to love being carried as a baby and as a toddler.

I do have a picture of you holding me. I looked so small in the arms that had fought battles and wrote books and letters fighting for war veterans. I will not sugarcoat things. You have had blood on your hands, fighting for the land and for the people you have sworn to protect with your life. But, look at how gentle your hands and arms were as you carried me. I guess even the mightiest heroes have gentleness in them too.

I remember visiting you in Fort Bonifacio from time to time. You were this huge man who, even at over 80, still demanded respect when he stood. Eventually though, you were always in bed. How many times were you in and out of the hospital? Ah. Even the strongest fall. But, I wish you were stronger for a little longer.

The last memory I had of you, I accidentally stepped on your swollen toes when I went near you to kiss you. You cried out of pain and I ran a high fever afterwards because of fright. I still regret being clumsy to this day. I would have wanted a much nicer last memory with you. But, you showed me how strong you roared. I wonder how much stronger you did when you were in the battlefield and barking orders. I guess you can take a soldier out of a war, but you can’t take the soldier out of the man.

Let’s admit it, Abuelito. You are no perfect man. You left a lot of broken hearts in your trail and Abuelita’s was one of them. I never really understood that side of you. I never ever will. Sometimes, I wish I could ask you why you were the way you were.

Despite your flaws, I always looked for parts of me that mirrored parts of you. That’s how much I looked up to you. I find that I have your nose and your left dimple. Maybe the shape of your face too and the wide forehead. But, that’s pretty much it. It’s my sister who got the twinkle in your eyes–the one I have always wished I got as well.

Mom said you were a little knock-kneed like me and that we walked the same. If you only knew how much I got teased in school for that. But, it’s okay. I eventually learned to accept parts of me that I was born with and could not do anything about. I am sure the way you walked just added to your charm. I just hope your knees did not give you a difficult time during the war though.

Mom also said I got my generosity from you, recalling that your house was like an extension of the Department of Social Welfare and Development. There were those who paid for your legal services in the form of animals and food. And along the way, you made some really good friends. One of them even had the marble cross for your grave made just for you.

I was told that when soldiers retire, they get promoted one level. You retired as a general but wanted your cross to bear colonel instead. Mom said it’s because you believe that you did so much more as a colonel. Your humility made me respect you even more.

I really wish you got to stick around for much longer. I would have loved having a grandpa. I lost the other one when I was five. I lost you when I was eight. I missed out on a lot.

I would have loved showing you all of my accomplishments and showering you with hugs. I would have loved listening to your stories, regardless if they were about the war you fought in or your battles in court. I would have loved you so much.

I wish I were as courageous as you. I wish I could demand even only a tenth of the respect you could when you were alive. Your strong personality seems to have all gone to my sister. Hahaha…

I miss you so much, Abuelito. You have not visited me in my dreams for a while now. I hope you’re still watching over us.

One day, I will see you again. I hope not too soon though because I still have a lot of things I want to do. But, when that day comes, you and I will have an awfully good time.

Hugs and kisses,

Monique

Mamma Mia 2

“Super Trouper beams are gonna blind me,

But I won’t feel blue,

Like I always do,

‘Cause somewhere in the crowd there’s you.” -Abba, Super Trouper

I have always loved musical plays and movies, from The Sound of Music to La La Land. Maybe it’s because I came from a family that had great musicians and actors. And while I did not inherit the vocal chords to die for, I have always had this little part of me that longed to perform in an acting role and break into songs every now and then. You know, like a typical Disney princess.

So, when I heard Mamma Mia (2008) was going to have a sequel with Lily James in it, I was ecstatic! They had everyone I loved from the original film as well although the trailer had you guessing whether Meryl Streep was going to be there or not.

I took my Mom and our companion at home with me to watch it at the Power Plant Mall cinema. I liked how the movie house wasn’t too big and the sound systems were set just right. The cinema wasn’t packed but I could say almost 95% of the seats were taken.

The movie was just like the first. There was a good mix of drama and witty comedy. The flashbacks are inserted at just the right moments! The actors played the characters as if there was not a ten-year gap between the films, making you feel as if they really were the characters they played.

The choice of songs was brilliant! It’s amazing how one can create a story by putting songs side-by-side. The actors they got sang well but Lily James and Amanda Seyfried were my favorite! I’m glad they got another actress to play the younger version of Meryl Streep’s character, Donna, rather than having Amanda Seyfried play both Donna’s younger self and her daughter, Sophie.

There were inconsistencies in the story when compared to the first movie such as the order by which Donna met Sophie’s potential fathers. Also, for Cher to play the character of Ruby, Donna’s mother, was bizarre to me. After all, Cher was only three years older than Meryl Streep. She looked every bit the age of Donna’s friends in the movie, if not, younger!

Overall, I’m still pretty pleased with the film. I just sometimes want to strangle Donna for assuming the worst of Sam immediately. Imagine, a single moment of hearing him out could have changed their lives forever! This teaches one to not be hasty in making life-changing decisions.

Were you pleased with the sequel?

Note: Featured photo obtained from https://www.mammamiamovie.com/?redirect=off

New Favorite Show: Sketch (2018 Korean Drama)

“If you do not know you are in danger, you are that danger. You do not know me, but I come in peace; if you think that is strange, then you are the stranger.” ― Justin K. McFarlane Beau

Recently, I wrote about how I got hooked on Partners for Justice/Investigation Couple Korean Drama. It’s currently at Episode 28 with only four episodes to go. Argh!!! I want more episodes!!!

sketch-03So, I tried searching for another Korean Drama to watch. I discovered Sketch. This drama stars Rain (Full House) and Lee Dong-gun (Lovers in Paris), two of the first Korean actors I discovered as a teen. I do not know the rest of the actors and actresses anymore.

What caught my attention was the synopsis. This is a crime and suspense type of TV show that features a detective who is able to draw crime scenes three days before the actual crime occurs. Thus, effort is poured into preventing the crimes from taking place.

The premise reminds me of one of my favorite shows as a kid–Early Edition. This was back when we had no cable TV and relied on the local channel, Studio 23, for foreign TV shows like 7th Heaven, Gilmore Girls, and Boston Public. I loved those shows as a kid!

In Early Edition, the protagonist (Gary Hobson) receives a special newspaper daily. This newspaper is dated a day in advance. Hobson also made it a point to save the lives of people featured in the newspaper to have been victims of accidents and ill intent. The great thing about him though is that he didn’t make use of the paper for his personal gain such as trying the lottery after having known the winning combination in advance.

Sketch will run for 16 episodes and is currently at Episode 14. Unlike Partners for Justice that I discovered a little bit earlier, I will have the luxury of binge watching Sketch. No need to wait for 6 days just to know what happens next. Although, if I like it too much, sixteen episodes might leave me wanting for more too. Argh!

What other crime and suspense TV shows should I watch? Got ideas?

New Favorite Show: Partners for Justice

“I’m for truth, no matter who tells it. I’m for justice, no matter who it’s for or against.” -Malcolm X
Being a doctor was my dream and I wanted to be the best neurosurgeon I could possibly be. I didn’t end up being a doctor who cures the sick. Instead, I am searching for defects to “cure” in my audit/compliance assignments.

But, I had another dream. I attribute it to watching to many shows about detectives while I was growing up with Criminal Minds having the most impact. I wanted a job that deals with solving criminal cases, catching crooks and getting justice for the victims. However, this is not a dream I have every intention of pursuing in real life. I do not have the makings of an awesome detective/FBI agent.

While I am not a huge fan of Korean dramas, I just got hooked on this new show: Partners for Justice. It’s about a warmhearted rookie prosecutor (Eun Sol) relying so much on her intuition and a grumpy former surgeon (Baek Beom) who is now a medical examiner performing autopsies. It’s both my dreams in one story!

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What makes me love this show? The plot twists have always been unpredictable. They always manage to ties the ends together in a way you’d never expect. Yet, in the end, it made the most sense.

It also looks like the show will develop the character, showing their motivations and what makes them who they are. I am glad they did not start with a flashback of the characters’ lives. Instead, they give you a look into their past little by little, getting you to relate to them one story at a time.

The supporting characters also make the story even more interesting. You got a lazy assistant, a detective so infatuated with a pharmacologist, a senior prosecutor who harbors so much anger for the lead male character and so many more!

I don’t want to give any spoilers here but one of the reasons I love it too is because it does not look like they’re going to turn the story into a love story anytime soon. I mean, I am not against the prosecutor and the medical examiner ending up together if that is in their plan. However, it’s already episode 18 out of the 32 episodes planned for this show and it has not shown any sign of a love interest between the two main characters. That’s good because it’s the crimes they are solving that’s got me hooked.

This show airs every Monday and Tuesday. On each day, they air two episodes at roughly thirty minutes each. I love it so much that I sometimes get impatient waiting for the next week to arrive because I want to know what happens next. I will watch this show until the end!

 

Currently Playing: Harry Potter Hogwarts Mystery

“I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.” –The Prisoner of Azkaban  

Harry Potter was a huge part of my life. It’s the series that got me hooked on reading books. Those seven books turned me into a bookworm.

Every new book or new movie release was something my sister and I always looked forward to. We did not splurge on luxuries when we were younger except for books. When we read, we got transported to a different world that became our escape from the realities of life.

I was truly excited when I heard about this new game: Hogwarts Mystery. I made sure to subscribe to the newsletter to know when it’s already available for download. I couldn’t wait to see what adventures were in store for me in that game.

Currently, I am in my second year at Hogwarts. I thought I got to choose the character I wanted from the books but it appears that the game is set years before Harry Potter was born. Only the professors and Hogwarts staff are the familiar characters so far (although I know Bill Weasley will soon make an appearance).

It pains me so much because no matter how I try to love the game, I find it boring. I was expecting exciting challenges and mind games or something. But, it’s almost the same thing over and over again. All I needed to was to keep on tapping on my screen for lessons to be over, trace figures to cast a spell, and keep on tapping during duels. Not much variety so far.

Energy takes so much time to get reloaded too. Most of the time, I’ll start a challenge, use up all my energy, wait for it to refill by getting work done, and then completely forgetting about the game.

I am not sure if I’ll continue playing this game at this rate. It makes me so sad because I normally love anything related to the Harry Potter universe.