A mentor once said, “Focus on this. One life, one person at a time. If you can create an impact, a change like that, that’s all that matters”.  #sundaewrites

 

 

Bored.

Burdened.

If you have felt these lately, you are not alone. A  million of us share the same road.

In my small circle of friends, at least half of us feel like life is a drag- a heavy load you need to carry with you wherever you want to go. Each step lands your foot in a mud.  You’ve got to pull your leg a little harder every time so you get to move.  If at all, you get to move.

Why do we have days like these? Why can’t we always feel happy and stay like that all year long?

While we all know that happiness is a decision you make for yourself, it’s easier said than done, or perhaps we don’t really know what that means or what it really takes.

All the successful people you’ve known were once upon a time nobodies. They started small. They struggled but kept on because they were driven by something that’s far greater than themselves. Something noble and beautiful. Something they desire to create not only for themselves but for the world, even if that world only meant a handful of people that they deeply care about. So in time, they’ve overcome the hurdles and eventually became great- famous, wealthy, powerful.

Then it happens. Success made these same people get so engrossed on fame, wealth, and power. The drive is now to maintain the status quo or exceed the same. So, they get to work to produce more success-  toil day in and day out that it becomes an obligation they believe they owe to themselves.

Is that bad? Not necessarily. But weak motivations won’t hold you up forever.  You see, the moment our focus change, we forget about why we do what we do in the first place. Our great WHY vanishes into thin air.

 

photo credits: Jon Tyson
photo credit: Jon Tyson

 

Take for example this writing.  I don’t know how many people will get to read this and how many of those who read it actually cares.  Despite the nagging desire to know, I choose to resist it. One of my mentors actually said, even the greatest writers still have that fear of rejection- you just have to deal with it. Then she spilled out this nugget of wisdom that up to now continues to motivate me. “Focus on this. One life, one person at a time. If you can create an impact, a change like that, that’s all that matters”.  So whenever I scribble something on a notepad or strike letters on my keyboard, I think about that one person that might find these words useful. Then the writing stops being an obligation. It now becomes an opportunity. No longer a drag rather, a source of delight.

Whenever you feel battered in life, one of the ways that can heal you is through your ability to receive love. Most “strong” people forget about that. Does it come from ego or pride? Maybe.

Regardless, you need to break that wall and let love seep through. You’ll always be a child. Even strong muscles or gray hairs cannot change that.  You need love. Don’t be too proud to receive it.

Boredom. Burden. These are real, but you deserve better.

Embrace your great WHY and open up your heart for Love.

 

photo credit: ben white
photo credit: ben white

 

Question:

Have you taken a step back at one point in life to just reevaluate things? To remind yourself again why you do what you do? What did this “pause” reveal about yourself and the life you pursue? I care about your thoughts. Share them here.

 

There’s no need for love to be profound.  It is what it is even in the mundane of things.

 

Words are cheap. It’s easy to say I love yous’ and not really stand by every word you express. It’s easy to feel love for other people especially when they’re miles away and you don’t need to put up with their daily dramas and annoyances. So I believe, we love best when we do so even if,

it’s uncomfortable,

even when it’s hard,

even when it takes up your time, your energy and your resources.

So, are we really ready for this? Do we have the strength of will to carry on?

Love is a verb.  It’s a call to action. The most beautiful of roses have thorns. So it is with love- the sweetest of it requires the greatest sacrifice.  A call for a noble deed or dying for a friend may be uncommon these days, but that call exists even in the simplest of circumstances:

-to lose sleep for a loved one who needs to talk his heart out through the night

-to save a sandwich for a coworker who missed lunch because of deadlines

-to trash your well-laid plans for the day and drop by to check on a friend

-to laugh at your dad’s joke no matter how silly it is ‘coz you’re happy that he is

-to remember someone’s need in prayer, even if you have much of your own

-to put up with a kids tantrum, knowing he’s just scared and maybe needs attention as grown-ups still do

There are a lot of different ways to act on love, but often times we neglect these opportunities because we’re so focused on ourselves and our needs. So we end up loving in our own terms. Conditional. But maybe if we give it a little more effort, and speak the kind of language the other person has, we can brighten someone else’s day and there’ll be one less lonely or sad person in the world. One person at a time. One effort at a time. That wouldn’t be so overwhelming.

If a person feels loved when somebody listens to his stories- lend an ear. If a person feels loved when she gets an encouragement- say something. If a person feels loved by receiving some help- extend a hand. There’s no need for love to be profound.  It is what it is even in the mundane of things.

And for us who expects love in a big way- like a strong wind that sweeps us off our feet, my challenge is this:  Wake up, and see love in the ordinary.  A kind smile. A sunny day, even a rainy one. A warm home-cooked meal. A hand to hold. A glimpse of nature. A gentle word.

Love is everywhere and it is in you too.  Don’t just show up to receive it. Show up to give it. Your own little way makes it special, makes it count.  A friend, a husband,  wife, a father, a son, a mom a daughter, a colleague, a stranger, we are no different from one another.  Everybody needs love. And everybody is capable of giving it. Be it simple or grand- act on it, and on the flipside, learn to recognize it too.

 

Photo Credits: Kristina Litvjak

 

Eight o’clock in the evening, last day of the workweek, and I’m still stuck at my desk typing away numbers, while the office cleaner does his evening vacuum routine, dusting off tables and chairs of people he doesn’t even know. Not that I know them more, not quite, but I sure was halfway imagining them celebrating the weekend with families & loved ones at home or wherever social places they can find.  The green monster started to creep in. I was envious. I struggled to fight back the tears not just because I wanted to be brave and keep fighting, but partly because my sobbing wouldn’t really blend well with the sound of the vacuum cleaner that still rings behind.

You see even with crying, I seem to find the perfect place and time to do it. The very first minute when I learned my dad passed away, I didn’t break down right there and then. I held it up for four hours. In between, I had a shower, had my meal, had my morning devotion, went to work, waited till my boss was free that morning, went to his office and asked for an emergency leave, and finally burst into tears – right in my boss’ office.  Maybe because finally saying out loud, “I need to go home to bury my father”, finally felt too real and painful to muster.  Back to the current scenario, I broke down right after I closed the door upon reaching home.  That’s when I finally accepted that it’s alright to cry ‘coz even strong people do.

When people look up to you or seek your help whenever their strength fails, you start to think either of two things:

I’m stronger than them

I have to be strong for them.

Such thought or decision will not last very long. We pass through a season, one after the other. You will start to doubt yourself at one point, and this is where I am right now.

I remember having a conversation inside the lift with one of the building janitor. I found out he worked for 12 hours every day for six days. I realized then that that’s the amount of time I put in every single day too. The only difference is that I crunch numbers and he scrubs floors.  We both do an honest job, we try to be the best at it. If we trade places, would I be as good as him too? I don’t know. Perhaps. All I know and believe is, we get to be equipped to do the things we get to do, and we get better through the years.

One of my virtual coaches shared this exercise one day. He said, start to use the words “get to”, instead of “have to”.

“I get to work every day”  vs  “I have to work every day”

“I get to prepare my meals”  vs  “I have to prepare my meals”

“I get know and meet people”  vs  “I have to know and meet people”

‘I get to serve a ministry”  vs  “I have to serve a ministry”

See the contrast? A different mindset. A different way of looking at things.

Today is the weekend and tomorrow is another day on the battlefield. Surely it wouldn’t be easy because we didn’t choose the easy path. We chose this since we believe we’re made for something more, and we know that victory can only be as rewarding as the sacrifices made behind it.

Yes, there will be days when we’d feel like we’re at the end of the rope, but the consolation is, like everything else, it’s temporary.  As when we take laps in a pool, we breathe in, we breathe out, we swim, but we should take the time to bask in the sun too, and enjoy our favorite poolside drink. Be it a lemonade, a smoothie or a float, it’s worthy to remind ourselves to be grateful enough.  We’re still blessed as “We get to taste it”!

I know the feeling, and it’s absolute torture.

I grew up in a very religious environment: going to church every Sunday, going to a Catholic school, singing in a church choir, memorizing all prayers.  While all those were good and gave me a very solid training on discipline, the part of obedience though was motivated by fear.

When I was a kid my image of God was kind of like a punisher or even a dementor (if you’re a  harry potter fan you’d fear this creature).  So whenever I sinned, I felt so much guilt that I try o make up for it by accomplishing more, doing more, that I became almost like the perfect kid out there who’s got it all.  But,  who was I kidding right?

Inside I was broken. I hated myself and I envied everybody else who to me were close enough to be saints.  I feared God and his wrath so much that the scared me would either run away or crawl down a very deep pit of self-condemnation. Believe me, the place that I end up with was dark and lonely, even if that place only existed in my mind.

 

It wasn’t until my late twenties that the dark clouds in my horizon actually cleared. It’s like suffering from a cataract fro the longest time and finally able to see the world with its vibrant colors and distinct shapes.  and yes, it was beautiful, as it is today.

Now, the God I know is tender- hearted, forgiving, gracious and merciful. I want to say He fixed me but that would be an understatement.  He loved me and He loves me still. That’s all He did and still does.  When you have Someone like that, your response is no longer hiding and running away. It’s showing up and running towards. After all, who doesn’t want love or desperately need one?

It’s not anymore about what I think I deserve but what I’ve been freely given.  When I shifted my focus to this indispensable truth, I began to realize how my desire for worth was misplaced all these years.  I hungered for the world’s recognition and applause when God was filling me with so much more and all this time I took it for granted. Tell me about shortsightedness.

Of course, I still have my cracks and all, but it’s in these cracks where His love seeps through.  God can never fill your cup when it’s already full. So choose to stay in need of Him.

Last week I saw a video of a woman climbing a very large and tall tree. Reaching the top she muttered, “The world is very huge and we’re just but a tiny speck”. When you’re up there the tiny ones underneath becomes barely noticeable.  And when you come down everything and everyone one again becomes large.

Perspective.  When it changes, your attitude change and your take on the overall picture change. But to the One who made it all, you’re the same child He first breathed life into as the person that He’s looking at now. And it doesn’t really matter what you get to accomplish or achieve in this life, it’s how much love you put into it, and how much of that love was for Him.

As I am writing this, it’s been a week since we came back from Switzerland. An exhilarating short trip that has been made possible and more memorable by the generosity of a couple we knew. Let’s call them Uncle H and Auntie B and here are some of the things we were blessed with:

  1. Uncle and auntie offered us a place to stay for the rest of the week (the best place I’ve stayed on since I started traveling in 2010- it’s more like a hotel, really!);
  2. They made us meals (always yummy and imagining it now still makes me crave for more)
  3. They drove us around (honestly, this is so much more than a chauffeur service- we didn’t have a hard time getting to places— and yes- it’s free!),
  4. and took us all to as much city and countryside areas in a span of nine days (the entire itinerary would have taken us longer- I’d say three weeks at least)!

Scenic, picturesque, breathtaking, spellbound— I’d run out of magical and wonderful words to describe the places we’ve been and the sights we’ve seen.  We did a lot of picnics, we hiked most of the time to see falls, green fields, mountains, old houses,we ate by the lake, in the park, in front of museums, cool restaurants, at home and almost always with a hearty conversation. But more than that I had so much of a great time meeting and knowing Uncle H & Auntie B- what they’ve given me- the experience, the wisdom, inspiration, and the love- is a gift that I’d always treasure for as long as I live.

I have never been struck by the life of someone else after meeting and being with them for a short span of time. But this was an exception. The encounter had left me in awe, it supercharged my heart, my body, and greatly enhanced my perspective in life. If you can imagine walking with springs in the soles of your feet and wings on your shoulders- like you’re almost leaping and flying with a wide smile painted on your face- that would pretty much describe my current state. I feel super happy and super blessed, no words can express!

Most nights I wonder, “where is all the love coming from,” “how can they give so much selflessly, not just things that money can buy, but the time, the effort (the cooking, the long drive), “how do uncle and auntie recharge their energies after a day spent outdoors and hiking in the mountains (did I mention they’re already in their 70s?!)”,  and they have so much wisdom, knowledge, and stories- – I could just listen to them all night and it’ll be like having read a book or two, and just see the world through their eyes.

I wish to grow old like them- full of life, wisdom, love, and abundance- – to put more heart in everything.  They may not be a perfect couple but to me, they are.  I’ve met their daughters and their grandkids and you can just see the energy, warmth, and kindness that runs in the family.  Being around them made me feel at home and there’s always sincerity, kindness, laughter and of course, delicious food (can’t be missed)!

With all the delightful memories I brought home with me, those nine days can be summed up as:

Living in a postcard (with all hearts, smiles, and sunshine drawn all over it)

Signed: by the coolest, sweetest, enthusiastic couple I’ve ever known.

The goodbye wasn’t easy. I dragged myself from bed the morning of that day.  I had no words to speak and I was already missing them and the place while we were having breakfast.  The drive almost felt like an eternity, if I can just turn back time or reset the journey to day one, I would not have given it a second thought.

All the way to the airport, check-in counters, to the passport control, Uncle H & Auntie B were with us, escorted us like little kids-  they’re always thoughtful like that.  I held back my tears as I hugged them for the first and last time.  As I went in I looked back and waved as quickly as I can so as not to cry.  I sure hope to see them again.  I wish them long life, good health, more adventures and more strength.  Uncle H & Auntie B always carry with them a sort of charm, exuding slowly as you spend time with them day by day.  I was charmed. And I will always be grateful for that.

Now to me, Switzerland means more than just the Alps, the chocolates, and the cheese.  It’s so full of marvelous people & wonderful nature of stunning simplicity and warmth.  And somewhere in that little country, uphill on the slopes of Monte San Salvatore, live an extraordinary couple that continues to touch hearts by their lives.  They definitely overwhelmed mine.