So today, I decided to clean up. Owning a few things since going solo, I wanted to retain even less.  That means, just enough of everything.

A friend of mine traveled to Sweden months ago and fell in love with the term “lagom” which means “just the right amount”.  She was saying the Swedish don’t brag about the things they own nor overindulge in something like food, cars or houses.  They like to live as regular, ordinary people,  and give preference to giving back, contributing, and helping.  They don’t care about status or how much they earn. All of that and yet Sweden is one of the richest countries in the world.

Thinking about it makes me fall in love with Sweden too! “What I wouldn’t give to be there”- Me, daydreaming.  But Sweden or not Sweden, we can actually embrace “lagom” as a lifestyle, isn’t it? In some parts of the world, they call it, minimalism, simplicity, or essentialism (there might be other terms that you know, drop a comment here).

I grew up in a culture pretty much influenced by the Spaniards. With our concept of “fiestas” and “piazza” (in my hometown, we call it plaza), our culture has taken it further to mean:

– huge houses, 

– large “haciendas”, 

– more food on the table (than what’s necessary), 

– (boisterous) laughter, 

– plenty of stories, and 

– overflowing drinks.

While fiestas and plazas are essentially part of the Spanish culture, I believe these concepts stemmed from their inherent quality of being warm, affectionate and family-oriented. Our culture, however, took it to a different level- more like Spanish-with-a-twist.

I’m not against people who own huge properties or love to have fun with beers, food and loud music. I’m just a bit disheartened to see:

– folks with large but empty houses

– yuppies with an expensive lifestyle, and mounting debts

– people who hoard

– people having too much of something (too much alcohol, food, shoes, Netflix, etc)

– people who overwork (yes, included)

– people who overcommit (yes, this too)

– people who are having too much rest (you’ve got to get on your feet too, you know, like literally).

Overindulgence is a bad thing.  You’ve got to save something for tomorrow or share some to someone in need.  We’re not here just for ourselves.  I hope we realize that and become more mindful of the rest of the world and its needs.

Wherever we are or what our status be in society, each of us has the capacity to give.  It may not always be in the form of material things. It could be our time, our skills, wisdom, strength, or we could just lend a hand, or lend an ear.  

If there’s one thing that this weekend clean up reminded me, it’s this:

I can live with just enough, and that’s not depriving myself of anything good in the world. That actually means, giving myself space, room to breathe, more room for what’s important, and to me, that translates to not only freedom but power!  It’s kind of saying, “I can have that, but I won’t”.  

– sundaewrites

Now imagine repeating that when you’re faced with a decision:

“I can buy that luxury car, but I won’t”.

“I can book myself in a 5-star hotel, but I won’t”.

“I can consume the entire chocolate ice cream cake, but I won’t”.

“I can party all night, but I won’t”.

“I can work till daybreak, but I won’t”.

Does it make sense?  Well, I’ll leave you with this word to think about.

“Lagom”.


Pancakes.  I love to wake up each morning to the smell of it. The sensation it gives equates to a fresh beginning. A promise of a new day, stuffed with a basket of hope and a few more dreams. 

We all have to have something to look forward to every day, else, our lives would be dull and meaningless.  You have to know that you’re made for more. Do you know why?  

 

 

Your heart skips at the sight of sunflowers and roses, or the smell of meadows and green fields. You smile at the sound of children’s laughter more so of a baby’s chuckle. Your face glows, and your body less tense at a loved one’s touch, or a friend’s hug-  the warmth of it, the comfort, the sincerity of  “I’m with you”- even in the absence of words.

We are a feeling creature, and what moves us, MOVES us. Think about it.

  • You feel inspired, you write more stories.
  • You feel bold, you dream more, you dream big.
  • You feel loved, you yield.
  • You feel strong, you give a hand.
  • You feel happy, your steps turn into leaps.

 

But how about in your not-so-great days?  You feel bored, lazy, incapable, unsure, tired, or on the brink of giving up?  Is there something that can do the trick? Surprisingly, yes!

Emotion follows motion.  You act until you feel like it. This is still you, but this time, you’re throwing the ball instead of swinging the bat. Wondering how?

Say it’s the first day of the week, and you’ve got to get to work.  If you’re stuck with an uninspiring job, the drive to your workplace, all the way to the steps leading to your desk, feels like doomsday.

Picture this. You’re treading down a narrow path leading to a tiny cubicle, with a mini desk, filled with hills and mountains of paperwork. Your steps feel heavy right? You’re feeling down already, but you have to work. So try this. Don’t walk on your way to your desk. Skip. More like bounce.  Like you’re dancing. It’s hard to do that and not smile right? Your muscles need to harmonize. So smile.  Notice this time, It’s hard to bounce and smile and not feel happy. So then take the liberty to poke your heart.  Your mind will then start to talk.    

Mind to Heart.  You know life is too short. Let’s give it our best shot. Even just for today. Tomorrow will have its own time,  I mean, It’s for another day. But right now, it’s you, me, and this awesome body taking on this day. Let’s do this! Ahhh and I’m so looking forward to that cup of barley tonight, and a fresh stack of pancakes in the morning, with blueberries on top? (and so it goes).

 

 

Emotion follows motion. Try it. Your days are too precious to leave it gloomy and sad. Make it happy. Throw in glitters of hope.You owe it to your self. 

Come on. Smile already. 🙂

 

 

It cannot be found. The world doesn’t owe it to you. It can’t be guaranteed by anyone or anything, not even by a therapist, an enlightened guru, or by any amount of wealth, fame and power.

Chasing happiness makes it elusive, just like sleep when you desperately want it.  So where does happiness lie? How does one get to possess it?

Let me tell you a story about a wealthy family. 

One day there was this boy who’s celebrating his 8th birthday. As a present, his parents took him down the countryside for the weekend. They stayed in a spacious cabin by the lake, not very far from a small farm. This was the very first time that the family ever spent time away from the city.  

 

The next day, the father took his kid fishing, and both decided to stay until mid-afternoon to feast on their catch.  After having their fill, they decided to take a longer route going back and happened to pass by the small farm. 

The pair saw the family living there spending some fun afternoon just outside their barn.  Three kids are running around, playing with chickens and goats, climbing and jumping down haystacks. Two men sipping their cup of hot tea while a teenage boy plays a folk song in his rugged jeans with his old guitar entertaining the older men. Coming out from an old wooden house, a young woman and an elderly lady are carrying a plate of freshly baked cookies and a pile of bread, bidding the kids to come and grab some. 

As the father and son moved in closer, the oldest man from the farm noticed them, and without hesitation waved and invited the two to stop by. The rich man hesitated, said thank you and carried on.  

As the pair inch further away, the boy can’t help but look back and glance at the family again and again. Finally, they reached the cabin. The night was already deep and the farm was out of sight.

At the dinner table, the boy recounted his day and out of the blue, he quipped.

Boy: “Dad, I realize they are richer than us”.

Dad: “Who, son”?

Boy: “The family at the farm”.

Dad: “What do you mean? They don’t have much. But we, own a lot of companies, live in a huge house, lots of cars, you can have all the sweets you want, and you’re always safe as I have servants looking after you, drop you to school and pick you up.  There’s freedom in our wealth, son, you can do anything”!

Son: “Well dad, they have a million lights above them, they have the stars. And the sky is huge, they get to enjoy it every time. They are always together, they look very happy and they celebrate every moment. They don’t just pass the time, they live it, savor it, just like those freshly baked cookies. It smelled so delicious and to them, every moment is treated like that. And it seems they didn’t feel scared.  They don’t have big men watching over them or guarding them. I think they have Someone bigger and stronger than the guards we have. I don’t know. But I just feel they’re richer than us, they’re freer, happier, and I think they’ve got something really special”.

The father was astonished about what he heard and was lost for words. 

My friend, happiness cannot be circumstantial because it’s within us- a sleeping giant that just needs to be awakened. You don’t need any magic tricks, fancy cars, shiny shoes or mansions. You don’t need to be a superstar nor would you need a hermit to reveal an ancient secret to you. Happiness is already in you. You just need to bring it out. Your spark, your gift, your beauty, your goodness, it lies at the very core of your being. 

The challenge? Piece by piece, layer by layer, strip yourself off with your masks, pretensions, pride, hate, with worldly desires and dependencies. Your soul and your heart, in it’s barest state, reveals the true you, and because of so much goodness that lies within that core, there lies not just happiness, but pure joy too.

You are your own joy. Celebrate your being, and move the world beautifully in ways that only you can.

 

“What’s the point of all this? Maybe, there’s no grand plan, after all, no essential meaning or worthwhile reason that can really affect the world.”

I planted myself in one corner of the room, a tiny space, with a small plastic chair and an unused, sturdy, air cooler supporting my back.

This has always been my favorite spot. Sitting on a blue chair, my thoughts would take me someplace far away, where I can listen to them like a couple of old friends dropping by to say hello. Often times though, they’d stay a while for a cup of coffee or two.

This is what happens when you get time in your hands. You can revel in the moments that you’re alone, pondering about life, thinking about your very existence.  

Sometimes I think people get themselves busy for one reason-to escape these little moments, and come face to face with themselves, confronting deep questions, unconsciously buried in their minds. 

They don’t dare to wake up the sleeping giant.

But I love these little moments. 

I love having conversations with myself. Kind of weird, but these interactions actually reveal a lot about my deepest fears and desires.  The experience keeps me grounded.  It helps me get the worldly stuff beneath my feet, as a reminder of their fleeting existence.  

In this time when everything is mechanical and automated, we rarely get the chance to look at the bigger picture, or confront our doubts and deepen our understanding of profound truths. Most days we run on autopilot and drift.

After some time, you wake up and your kids are all grown up, your parents are much older, your gray hairs are starting to show, not to mention, a few more wrinkles adorning your face.  Yes, time slips away, and who knows when it runs out.

 

Is this all there is to it? 

I think about Oprah, Mark Zuckerberg, Hillsong United, JK Rowling, Mother Theresa, and their path seems to be very clear and very significant, affecting many.  

Where does that leave you and me- the ordinary boy or girl in this small part of the world? Will our voices be ever heard? Will our actions breed fire that can ignite the soul of a sleepy world? What difference can we make? Does our breath find it’s way someplace where it actually gives life? I wonder.

Maybe there’s no spectacular scheme, no fireworks, no rainfall of stars bound to fall down our path. But this I know. We are meant to be here. 

Out of a thousand possibilities in the whole biology and mystery surrounding birth and procreation, we are the ones who made it through. The ones who have seen the light.  

Maybe our WHYs may never get answered. Maybe we can never find it. But what if we create it by forging meaning into our circumstances, or the experiences we’ve been given?  What if the WHY lies in the little things we do every day, the things we were called to accomplish on simple occasions, the things that are normal, and ordinary? What if these little things are leading us to that one big thing, or maybe that big thing is actually the sum of these little things? 

We are no Michelangelo, Anne Frank or St. Paul, but we’re given the same opportunity to walk this earth just like they did.  Will our trail leave behind colorful dust so people can see the way too? I hope so. It doesn’t matter if we could light the path for one person or two. What matters is, we do.  

The light is always more beautiful when it shines through the darkness.- Unknown.

Question: 

Are you casting your light so others may see the path? What are the little things you’ve done to bless the people around you?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

I was scrolling through posts on my social media account and noticed that as years past, I’ve uploaded fewer and fewer photos of myself.  That actually got me thinking, “What changed in the last few years?”

A lot of major things took place. Loss of a loved one, job change, learning new skills, less but unique adventures, going out of my comfort zone. Yet I was looking for one or two subtle things that might have made the greatest impact. Lo and behold, I figured it out.

Somewhere along the way, I made up my mind to stop capturing moments. Instead, allow my self to be captured by it.

In the past, I was eager to take a snapshot of every interesting thing I see. Eager to show it to the world, and sometimes eager to show it off to the world.  Regardless of the intention, every time I post something, it made me feel proud. While I agree that all good things are worth sharing, sometimes, a rare moment invites only you:

to be in it,

to be enchanted by it, 

be intimate with it, 

to savor its goodness, 

or be lost in its spell.

 

Maybe sooner or later you will encounter these moments and will be faced with a challenge. Who knows one day while gazing through a beautiful moonlit sky and sensing an impulse to take a photo, your camera just suddenly won’t work, or maybe your phone can’t be found. Rather than feel frustrated, allow yourself to take it all in—  

the scenery, 

the feel of the soft wind blowing on to your skin, 

the sound of a peaceful night gently whispering to your ear, 

the smell and sight of fresh leaves clutching to branches of a tree.  

Just be in it. Be one with it.

You will be surprised that not all beautiful experiences need to be grand.  Oftentimes, beauty rests in the simple,  and sometimes in the ordinary. You just have to be in it to unravel its charm, to recognize its wonder.

Moments earlier, I could have just shown you a photo of that moonlit sky and the beautiful surrounding. But I chose to describe it to you. Even then my words fell short. That’s just because the highest good cannot be perfectly expressed or defined, though you know it’s there, and it is real. You can’t just fit it inside a capsule or recreate an image of it.  You can’t place something so infinite, absolute and boundless into a limited, confined medium. It will be like draining a vast ocean of its water and putting that water into a little hole.

Next time, allow yourself to be captured by a special moment.  Take everything in and bring it with you.  When the right opportunity comes, share that experience with someone. Describe it to him or her:

-with an overwhelming delight, 

-with glitter in your eyes, 

-with excitement in your hands and 

-thrill in your body. 

When you do, you get to relive that moment as you tell the story. You get to be inside that sublime experience one more time.

 

Question:

Were you able to experience these rare moments yourself? Do you revisit these occasions and does the feeling about it never grow old? Comment here. Share your story.

It was 2011 when I made the decision to leave the work that I love, with all the people in it.
I don’t have any job offer from another company, and I wasn’t ready to go back home and settle. While everyone thought of it as a careless move, I actually believed it was bold. I was following my heart, and I was aiming to realize my vision.

The old job wasn’t all rosy. It had some challenges but nothing that I couldn’t handle. It wasn’t perfect but was way better than prior ones.

I had six weeks to find myself a new company to join, else I’d have to start something back home. Ads were applied for, contacts have been tapped, the search expanded. And then, there’s one. An interview invitation with the owner of a big group of companies.

I turned out overqualified in a way, but here’s the catch. The offer was almost half of what I was earning at that time. Knowing the extent of the expected workload made it obvious that I’m being dealt with a bad hand, so I knew I had to decline. Quite upset, the owner asked me, what do I want and heartily, I shared my top 3.

I want to do a job that I love.
I want to work in a team.
I want to get a salary equal to or more than I currently do.

The owner believed he could offer me the 1st two, but not the third. His words, “You’re not going to find a job that could offer you that pay. Not during these times”. I confidently quipped, “ I believe, I can”. We parted with him giving me a challenge. “If you do find that job, let me know, I’d gladly apply for it too”.

To cut the long story short, I did get that job. I got what I desired for, and more. My last day with the old company fell on the 31st, and my 1st day with the new one starts the day after. Amazing, right?

Aside from being told careless, most people around me thought that I was too confident or proud. I wasn’t. For some reason, I just knew it in my heart that I can find that job. I didn’t know how, but I knew.

Some call it gut-feel, but I’d like to call it, Faith.

I’ve got no words to explain it but the intensity and power of that faith were undeniable and it drove off all fears and doubts, insecurities and second-guesses. I knew the opportunity was out there, and I knew it was waiting for me. Outside noise couldn’t drown it. Others couldn’t see it. But I could. To me it was real.

I don’t know how the power of Faith has worked in your life, but I believe that when it did, the confidence you had, has been unshakeable. You know you’re treading on the right path. You never looked back. You didn’t even pause. You just went out there and got hold of that promise, that prize, that precious piece glowing in the distant. To the world, it was hard to notice, but to you, that glow shined the brightest.


Question:
Have you experienced this much faith? What gift did it reward you? Share your faith experience here and bless someone.

Admit it.  If you’re living in the city or working in a fast-paced environment, it’s normal to end the day feeling exhausted.  Yet when you reach home, there are household chores to finish, priorities that need to be invested in like relationships, personal growth, and side hustles. You need to have ounces of energy left to do these things before you hit the sack.

Truth is, in this day and age, when computers and electronic advances were meant to make things easier and faster, people are feeling more overwhelmed.  We get too much information and too many distractions so we get comfortable with getting things done in an instant-  instant messages, instant food, instant report, etc.  While these are all good, we often times overlook the essential, the basics, the natural, the simple and the quiet.

 

I am living in this environment too and through time I have learned the value of slowing down. And by that I mean slowing down:

*the pace–  focusing on what’s important

*the heartbeat– letting go of temper outbursts

*the talk– taking more time to listen and get into real, meaningful conversations

*the automatic defenses– to proact and not react

In the process, I have learned and practiced four maneuvers which allowed me to breeze through the day with ease and with a subdued feeling of being weightless. You can try them and see how it’ll give you more freedom- in mind, body, and soul.

1) Stop Complaining

Being a bystander won’t really accomplish you anything. You are not contributing and often disposed to either being critical or indifferent.  Why not become part of a solution or be a champion of change? What if instead of bashing or blaming, you choose to help or fix things?  We can all be more useful to the world by being more helpful and being more caring.

2) Focus and Let Go

You need to focus on things that you can actually do something about, and let go of those that you cannot control. At every point in our lives, we need not know or figure out all the answers before we act or do something. Else, you’d be stuck and end up seeing opportunities pass you by. Letting go also means you need to take calculated risks. Only the person who risks in life is truly free. (taken from a famous poem).

3) Forgive

It’s okay to fail if you do it “leaning” forward.  Take one step at a time. For each step, even if you fall to the ground, take the lesson with you. Important things are, you grow and you keep growing.  Don’t be too hard on yourself, so you don’t get too hard on other people too. When you are more accepting and forgiving of yourself, you become more accepting and forgiving towards others.

4) Restart

Each day is a new day. Don’t compete with anyone. Just be better than how you were yesterday.  The thing of the past, is actually what it is. Today is another chance, and privilege to write another page in the story of your life.  It’s a blank canvas. You can do anything. But fulfill something that you can really be proud of at the end of the day.

Life is short. We already know this but we keep living our lives as if our days are not numbered. So choose wisely and decide now how you want this journey to unfold. At the end of this race, you want to look back and feel glad about what you have accomplished.  Make sure that what you do today, will someday make you feel proud.

“Dear future self, wherever and whenever, I want you to be pleased and really delighted when you think of me”.

Question:

Are you practicing a habit that helps you go through life with ease and more peace? What are those occasions that these habits helped you? I’d love to hear your story. Comment here.

Dreams.

What are they?

Vision.

Picture of the Future.

What you long for.

Your Happy Place.

No matter how you describe it, dreams are powerful. Everybody strives to achieve them. Everybody desires to fulfill them.  Why?  Because we made a decision to pursue a happy life. Painting our life’s canvas with passion, relationships, and stability. But more than just happiness, each person has a burning desire for MEANING. The point of it all.  I call it the 3 Gs.

What we Get.

How we Grow.

What we Give.

It really is a cycle. We take, we nurture what we’re handed, then we put it back to the world.  We name it…. Stewardship- the best of its kind.

These three elements are undeniably intertwined:

Learning– We should enjoy being a  student.  There’s a lot of good things in the world that can nurture our mind, our heart and our spirit.

Experience– This is acting on all good things we already know and have learned. This is where “creating wonderful memories” come in.

Legacy– Help. Give. Contribute. Serve. Make this world a better place for the kids in your own home, in your own town or city, in your own country, wherever they are on this planet called earth. Think of them and make them happy.

I was with a group of beautiful, positive people yesterday and we spent some time working on our Life Plan, our personal Dream Board.

A stimulating discussion came up about wanting to talk about or not talk about our personal dreams.  Well, I’ve been in both states of desire. I’ve crossed over from not wanting to share to wanting to share.  Each of us would have to weigh the pros and cons of each choice. Then from there, we decide.

I made a list of helpful pieces.

Why you would not want to talk about your dreams. 

1) It’s Personal.  Case closed.

2) Fear-  of rejection, failure, criticism

3) Shyness-  you might be teased, ridiculed, laughed at

4) Hesitation-  you feel you’re not ready to either talk about it or to work on it

5) Belief- sharing your dreams early on might hinder its fulfillment

 

Why you would want to talk about your dreams.

1) Law of Attraction- putting it out into the world for the universe to conspire and bring the right opportunities to your doorstep

2) Inspire- you want to encourage people to have and work on their own dreams to give them something to look forward to.

3) Accountability-  you want to push yourself a little bit more to fulfill them since you’ve already “worn your heart on your sleeve”

4)  Tribe- You want to find yours.  The group of like-minded people. Those who share the same dream passion as yours. Those who can and will inspire you. Those who would stimulate your brain to create and stir your heart to keep going.

5)  Support from loved ones-  you would need this especially if your dreams include your own family.  You would appreciate their help. Surely It’ll lighten the load when the going gets tough.

6)  Remind yourself what you value the most-  Thinking and talking about your dreams helps you focus on them once again, especially when you get off track.  With lots of distractions around us, it helps to cleanse our lenses now and then and set our sights on what really matters to us in the end.

We already know that dreams have to be time-bound.  But obviously, we’ll never know how powerful this aspect is until we try it.  So put a month and year next to your every dream or goal. You can be more specific and narrow it down to the day or time.

However long it takes, you can always do something about it right now.  One decision at a time. One choice at a timeStart now with what’s in front of you.  Ask yourself, “What is one thing that I can do right now that will bring me one step closer to my dream”?

Try it.  You’ll see.

 

Question:

Have you thought deeply about your dreams? What steps have you taken to fulfill them?What motivates you to pursue these dreams? Share your thoughts. Comment here. 

Photo Credit: Romeo Conilas

 

Imagine this:  You wake up to a beautiful Saturday morning, eager to start your day with a perfectly planned home-cooked breakfast.  After a few stretches, you get on your feet and head to the kitchen. Egg, sausage, pancakes, a bowl of fruit, and a  cup of freshly brewed coffee, one by one perfectly laid on the breakfast table. You grab a bottle of ketchup from the cupboard, and remembered- – Bistro! Oh no! You look over your shoulder and see your fear actually happening! Big Bistro gobbling down a big breakfast!

Joy stealers are like that. They’re cunning. While you get so self-absorbed and unaware, they come out and take something you really value. There’s an army of them, but let’s talk about two that may seem non-threatening, but prove to be strong enemies of your time.

Laziness

– you say you want to get fit, but you don’t get up early in the morning to exercise.

– you say you want more sunshine, but don’t make an effort to go to the beach or just outside your home

– you say you want to be more productive, but you linger for hours on social media

– you say you want more income but don’t find ways to get one

– you say you want stronger, healthier relationships but you end up with just intentions, no effort, no actions.

Indecision

– you want to accomplish a lot of goals but you don’t start working on a single thing

– you want to explore opportunities, but actually, don’t pick one of several choices that come along

– you want to change something in your circumstances, but you get stuck at wishing and not doing

My brother once told me that completing a marathon is more of a mental thing, not a physical one. The strength lies in the mind, not in the body.  I believe this applies to almost everything.  We are stronger, more able and better than we think we are.

When I see old people dancing, running, biking or doing yoga it inspires me and makes me happy.  When I see them accomplish their greatest feat ever in their old age, it drives me crazy!

Philippe Dumas, a 60-year-old man who took the fashion world by storm in 2016 after growing a beard.

80-year-old Deshun Wang, who killed it on the catwalk during the 2015 China fashion week.

Greta Pontarelli who started pole dancing at the age of 59 and at 61 won first place in 2014 pole sports world championship.

And who can ever forget Paddy Jones who wowed the world and the audience of  Britain’s Got Talent in 2014  with a salsa dance when at that time she was turning 80!

If older people can do it, surely the young can do better!

Laziness. Indecision.  Nip the problem in the bud. Both can kill your dreams. Both can waste your time. Both can stop you from discovering an ocean of possibilities laid down your path.  Both will hinder you in accomplishing something more than what you’ve hoped for in this life.

Why did we call them joy stealers?  Because they stop you from becoming the best version of yourself.  Embrace them and you end up being unable to give your best gift to the world. You retire with a wealth of regrets. You’d fail to finish strong.  You take your dreams to your grave.

Let me leave you with this quote:

The graveyard is the richest place on earth, because it is here that you will find all the hopes and dreams that were never fulfilled, the books that were never written, the songs that were never sung, the inventions that were never shared, the cures that were never discovered, all because someone was too afraid to take that first step, keep with the problem, or determined to carry out their dream.”-  Les Brown

You don’t want your dreams to end up there, do you? So move and win this life.

Question:

Have you identified your own joy-stealers? How is your battle against them? Are you winning or are you losing? What steps are you taking from here today to move you closer to your dreams?

Comment here.