Forward

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward”.  

– Martin Luther King

Inch by inch we need to pull ourselves forward. 

Perfection is never the aim, it’s progress.

You say, your progress is nothing compared to that of others.

That’s the thing. You can’t and should never compare. 

Focus on your pace, your own run

If you look at your life, you’ll see you’re not the same man or woman as you were twenty years ago.

We’re capable of changing, growing and evolving.

Don’t ever underestimate that.

If you stumble, there may be nobody there to pick you up.

But there will always be YOU.

So dust yourself off, and get back up.

Help that’s available will come. Be grateful if it does.

But always, and I say always, count on you!

YOU are the one who can HELP yourself the MOST.

Subtract

Subtract anything that doesn’t add value to your life.

It could be temporary or permanent.

More is not always better.

You can only keep enough,

consume enough,

use enough,

do enough,

And every season in your life

demands something different 

You cannot hold on to anything earthbound.

To Start With

Define what value means to you.

is it family, time,

health, spirituality,

experience, growth,

or your contribution to the world?

Analogy

Imagine clearing the table you’re working in now.

Slowly, place everything on the floor.

Then whatever it is you need at this moment,

pick it up and use it.

You can discard everything else.

The Challenge

Look at your current responsibilities, 

commitments, possessions, 

consumptions, and yes connections.

What doesn’t add value to your life right now?

Discern and decide what you need to let go 

So you can make room for something that does.

Change and Humanity

Change  

We cringe about this word most of the time. But the thing is, the more we resist it, the more life becomes difficult. So embracing change seems to be a logical thing to do if we want to survive.

As a kid, I loved my sunny afternoons. I still recall sitting on a wooden bench under a tree, at 2 p.m. on a Saturday just listening to the sound of the birds with the wind rustling through my hair.

Back then, I wondered what’s out there in the universe. At that time, I only knew of “my world” that little space in a decent-size house my father had worked so hard to build. I have always been fascinated by the skies, the stars, how people live in some parts of the planet. I know for sure they don’t look like me or speak like me. I felt an ache to reach out and communicate.

Fast forward 30 years, I have met a lot of people from different nationalities and worked with them, not to mention people from my own country who spoke a language different from my own. I’m halfway through life and realize that regardless of speech, color, race, profession or, status, people go through the same things – – love, loss, triumph, defeat, and yes, change.

Yet change scares us.

More than loss or failure, I think what we fear more is what we’ll find or who will we find in the aftermath of change. The version of us who’s more capable, free, and courageous. A person who can rebuild, recreate, rediscover, and navigate his or her way through this journey we call LIFE.

sundaewrites

We might have heard people say, “But I’ve built my life around this. I can’t let it crumble down”.

If it’s no longer serving you or the people you’ve built it for or with, change is imminent.

Humanity

Past our conceived limitations is a world of possibilities. It is a world where we find people like you and me who do their best every single day. When we realize that, we will find comfort in knowing that we all share this journey regardless of where we are at this moment in time.

We can choose to either figure things out on our own or ask for help from those who have gone before us. That is the beauty of being human. We can be there for each other, and be a beacon of light. Believe that there is more than enough goodness in the world.

Thoughts

If you are keen to find out how other people made it through or let them know how you did, communicate. That always bridges the gap between the two worlds.

I have not been to every country around the globe and have not met a person in every race, but I have been and met enough to tell you that you are not alone.

There’s one race we all share, the human race. There’s one language we all need to learn for us to communicate, and we call it love.

sundaewrites

So take heart. Be hopeful and be courageous because you and I, we can do this!

Uprooting

Earlier today I listened to somebody talking about the idea of Uprooting.

It happens when you decide to pluck the bud off a seed you’ve planted, that it loses the chance to grow and blossom.

I was hit hard.

You see, I’m the kind of person who would have these brilliant, inspiring ideas, enroll people to embrace the same, start working on those, and then just not follow through.

Courses I’ve never finished.

Hobbies I’ve never picked up again.

Skills not really mastered.

Good rituals that have never lasted two months.

Relationships never cultivated.

I hope I am most people, but I could see a lot around me nailing it.

Why can’t I?

At this point in my life, I think I still haven’t decided who I want to be.

I’ve been drawn to that shiny object syndrome which I heard about a few months ago and never thought it could be real, at least to me.  I was wrong to say I had it all figured out.

Looking back, I’ve been chasing a lot of things. Even now I can say I am all over the place and I have to do something about it.

This writing is hopefully a start. I want to go back to the way I used to write— unfiltered, insightful, vulnerable.

You’re probably asking why I stopped or why I changed.

Simple.  I thought then I’d be better off if I was somebody else.

Somebody that people like.  Somebody who could write something people will rave about.

Yet that failed me too. 

No matter how I try to “buy” love, appreciation, admiration from other people, even if I get those, it would never be enough until I decide I am enough.

PIT STOP

Right this moment I am writing for me. If the state I’m in resonates with you, then that makes two of us and perhaps this writing is for you too. 

It will be good to know there’s somebody out there who walks on a road with you, no judgment, no expectations, just walk with you. Human being feeling another in the highest pure sense.  Regardless of the distance, the gap, the space in between, hearts entwined even for a brief moment. 

So yes my friend, you have the liberty to break out further up the road and follow your own path. No strings need to be attached here.  After all, the road is never a straight line. There are curves, junction, crossings and before we know it, we’ll be bumping into each other again.

As for me, I still need to figure this one out. 

Who do I want to be, and what things do I need to go back doing just because it made me real?  

It’s not for any selfish reasons. I want to help people, touch the hearts of a few if not many. But I think all the cracks and flaws that we have, are the same things that make us human. The more we get real about that the more can people relate to us, and we’ll be more connected to each other on a deeper level.

So this is where I am right now. This is where I stand and I hope I’d be able to navigate this road well. Wish me luck!

Rescue Me…

Do you need a rescue? I’m sure we all do. Some may need it once in a while, some very often.

Not all rescues are healthy. Doing it every time to the same people creates a dependency. It cripples the growth of the person being rescued. It can be exhausting to the one rescuing.  A wise man once said, ”When you’re helping, keep in mind that you’re teaching them how to fish, not training them to be beggars.

To The One Being Rescued

You see, everyone has a load to carry and if everyone helps himself, we  become less of a burden to somebody else.  Of course, we have our down moments, bouts of loneliness, the taste of failures, and it’s a relief to have a shoulder to lean on, a hand to hold, a reassuring look from somebody we love to say, “Don’t worry, I got your back”.  

Our support system can only do so much for us. The answers that we are looking for and the ability to make it happen lies with us.

It all starts with YOU.

Our joy, peace, freedom, success, however that translates to us, is not up to anyone. We are on the driving seat here, playing  the main role in the story of our life. The challenge is, we like watching other people run their life including our own.  Life slips through our hands simply because we choose to let it go. 

If things are within our control, taking action is the key, nothing else.

On to the Rescuer

You don’t always have to be the solution to everyone’s problems.  If you’re stretching yourself too thin, you’re not giving 100% to everything that comes up, rather a percentage of you to everything that comes up.

Prioritize. Even the richest, wisest people in the world cannot save the world. It’s not up to one mortal man. 

“Our job is not to fix people, but to love them, as best we could.”

Bo Sanchez

Loving can sometimes be tough.  It’s allowing the person you care about, make their own mistakes because some things are just meant to be learned the hard way. Mistakes help us do that.  We fail, we learn, we know better, we do better.

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

St Paul.

I believe we’re not here to be each other’s burden or even so, to be somebody’s crutch, at least not permanently.  Thinking otherwise will only disempower us and discourage us.

When you see an old man collecting garbage for a fee just to feed his disabled wife, your heart breaks and you want to help.  Seeing a fit, healthy 40-year-old man sitting all day watching television and getting drunk while waiting for his son to feed him, I think there’s something wrong about that. I pity the son.

Last Words

Every situation is different and it’s not my place to judge. 

I just believe that we can do better by helping ourselves.

I believe we can be each other’s partner, encourager, cheerleader.

I believe we can empower and inspire one another.

You don’t have to be a teacher, an author, or an actor to do that.

You can be someone who lives his life, not merely surviving, but thriving in it.

Do you Get Tired Offering Solutions To People?

I sure do. 

A friend comes to you complaining about something, venting his frustrations out,  feeling hopeless and desperate. You step in, give him some perspective and suggest something  that might work. He nods and finally gets it, saying, “You’re right. I should do that. Thanks, pal!”.

Weeks passed, you check in to see how he’s doing. Same old, same old, and surprisingly you hear new complaints too, coupled with excuses why he never acted on the things you talked about.

I get frustrated of course. It’s like handing a bottle of milk to a thirsty toddler. He only needs to put it in his mouth and drink it up for the thirst to go away. What happens instead is he keeps on staring at the bottle of milk and continue crying.  

When the student is ready the teacher will appear. When the student is truly ready the teacher will Disappear.

Lao Tzu

Reflecting on my behavior, I’ve seen how this is apparent to me too, personally. 

How oftentimes do we realize that the solution to our predicament is obvious but we don’t take action? I can think of a couple of reasons why.

The pain is not painful enough that we are not yet over desperate to fix it.

Admittedly, like our pets, we like to lick our wounds. We don’t budge, nor move until it hurts too much or we’re kicked out of the door.  No wonder why we stay on a job we hate until we get fired. We stay in toxic relationships until the abuse sends us to a hospital or worse, we end up wandering the streets of who-knows-where.  Complaining is easy. Work is hard. This leads to the second point.

We prefer the current pain over the pain of working to fix it.

This preference though is buried deep in our subconscious. We forget that “something’s gotta give” every time. There are trade-offs in life. Choosing one means we cannot choose the other. In this case, it’s either you want this pain or that pain.

The other day, somebody came to me complaining about someone but fears confronting this person. So I said, “Look, you only have two options here. Either you tell this guy what your issues are and risk him feeling hurt, or you keep it civil between you two but keep your frustrations to yourself.” 

We always have options. We can always work out solutions. We can always find answers. The question is, “What do we do with the answers we get? Do we stand by and just stare at these solutions? What choice do we make?

We regret the things we don’t do more than the things we do.

Mark Twain

There’s never a perfect time to do anything. The world won’t give you that. How many doors have closed in on you just because you waited for the perfect wind to carry you through, or the perfect soundtrack to play in the background as you walk along?  The door is never going to stay open for long. So I’m not sure what you’re still waiting for.

What I tell you, I’m telling myself too. We are a work in progress and I believe it’s good that we remind each other when we need to.  So take this as a reminder. 

And yes, lesson learned:

Don’t offer solutions to people’s problems. The real fix is always within themselves. You just have to help them uncover it.

Supercharged or Regular?

Some days I get so pumped up like I’m in my best element and can achieve almost anything. So I do and do and do. You know, strike while the iron is hot.

Other days I slump and feel uninspired. I want to be lazy and just not care too much about what’s going on in the world.

Maybe it’s just me, but I wonder, do I really need to pursue things and work nonstop, or just do things I love, without the feeling of being obligated or even having to meet any deadline?

We fill our days with plenty of to-do lists that life becomes a project instead of an experience. 

Society dictates who we should be. It defines what success looks like and we succumb to this definition. All along we know, that at the end of it all, what would matter is ours and our loved ones opinion of us, not the whole world. The world can go by without remembering how much we’ve made for ourselves, or how famous we’ve become but perhaps how we’ve made an impact to the lives of the people around us.

And yet, how do we accomplish such a thing?

“What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for a worthwhile goal, a freely chosen task. What he needs is not the discharge of tension at any cost but the call of a potential meaning waiting to be fulfilled by him.”

Viktor Frankl

A freely chosen task. That’s what struck me the most.

Maybe it’s not the same for everyone. It doesn’t have to be. It can even change at any point in time.  So I guess the question is, “What is it for you?”. “What is your freely chosen task?”. Right now I’m starting to think.

I don’t need to get too hung up with outputs and outcomes. This is my life, my time, and I can freely choose what to do with it.

To Squander or To Make It Count.

More than time being our responsibility, it’s first and foremost an accountability.  It’s a limited resource that reduces in number every second of the day until it finally runs out.  Now what we do with it is indeed our call. It doesn’t have to feel like an obligation, rather, something cherished simply because we’re not gonna get any more of it.

“Our greatest fear should not be of failure… but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.”

Francis Chan

In the end, when somebody asks you, “How was your life?”. It’s either, “Well you know, It happened” or “Yeah, I lived it and t’was hell of a ride!”.

Supercharged or regular? I cannot care about your choice any more than I should care about mine. But tell you what. When those white hairs start to stick out , wrinkles and all, come by and see me. Let’s talk about it with a couple of beers. And maybe bring along some pizza! 

What Outside of Your Comfort Zone Looks Like

To amplify your growth, you need to operate outside of your comfort zone.

I know. Preaching about this is easy, but doing it is a different story. There’s going to be a lot of “push and pull” occasions with yourself, albeit the “pull” part is more encouraging.

In late 2018, I lost my job.  Eight months later, I joined a new company. At first, I chickened out because the role was outside my comfort zone.  Instead of finding excuses, I took the job. Looking back, I can tell there’s a lot that I’ve learned in a year compared to previous work experiences.

Was it easy? Picture yourself heading home after school every single day. That’s what I feel until now.  It’s challenging and rewarding. Here is a preview of what happened so far.

Discoveries

  1. I’ve learned something new about myself. I never thought I could dance until my teammates and I had to perform an act from the movie “The Greatest Showman”  with costumes and all.
  2. I never knew baking with teammates via zoom could be fun. Now I could make delicious crostata and lemon cake, plus potentially make money out of it. If not, baking would save me a few bucks too. I can’t imagine myself hanging out in a coffee shop with a slice of pie or cake ever again.
  3. I realized I could get along with different nationalities and discovered we have  a lot of things in common if only I open up, strike a conversation, trust, listen and take time to get to know someone.
  4. I’ve learned it’s rewarding to accomplish something outside of your expertise, especially if you do it from a genuine desire to contribute, help or, pitch in. There’s nothing wrong about doing something for the first time and therefore asking many questions, even when you’re older. 
  5. In a work that continuously encourages you to grow, there’s never a dull moment. There’s no room for boredom. You could honestly say, “I learned something new today” at the end of the day and drive home feeling accomplished.

“Great things don’t come from comfort zones.” 

Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

I believe, if we explore more, our growth in day or week would be exponential.  The challenge is, we don’t.  We like hanging on to old ways and beliefs, even beliefs about ourselves, and come up with excuses.  Think about what staying in your comfort zone has cost you.  For me:

The Would-Have-Been Costs

I would have never learned English and be good at it. It’s not my first language.

I would never have launched this blog. Somebody told me my grammar sucks and people don’t care about my opinions.

I wouldn’t have traveled to different countries. Somebody told me it’s expensive and it’s dangerous.

I would never have found a spiritual community. Somebody told me I’m a hopeless case, and it will be difficult for me to change.

I would have never joined and won singing competitions. Somebody told me I couldn’t carry a tune.

I would never have built something for myself. Somebody told me I will always be poor.

Conclusion

I am not sharing things to brag but to remind you that in the past,  you have accomplished things too, not because you were less afraid but because you decided to go ahead and face your fear head-on. You made it this far because you kept on. That’s the truth, even if you say you did it because you had no choice.  The fact that you have accomplished it proves that you’re capable. Now imagine what more you could have achieved had you given yourself a little more faith.  It’s about thriving, not surviving.

Why don’t we dream again like when we were kids? Try new things and be curious enough to learn?  

“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore”- Andre Gide.

Once again, light up the fire in your heart. Make no room for fear. Instead, save enough for “what could be’s”.

Why Having More Choices Can Make You Feel Less Happy

It all boils down one thing. But first, let’s go through a typical day.

From the minute you wake up, your mind would have gone through a long list of decisions to make.

  • What will I have for breakfast?
  • What clothes do I wear today?
  • Which pair of shoes would go with it?
  • What should I prioritize at work?
  • What can I order for lunch?
  • Which flavor of ice cream shall I have?
  • Which coffee shall I order?
  • Should I opt for plan A, D, or F?
  • Shall I have meat tonight or fish?
  • Which brand of tissues should I go for? Brand of shampoo?
  • Which show do I watch on Netflix? Which program do I watch on tv?

And the list goes on, and longer especially when you are a parent, a spouse, and you’re trying to do all things and squeeze them all in one day.

Is choosing meant to be a joy-stealer? No. Then why is it draining our energy? Mind you,

It’s not the decision that’s exhausting us, it’s the number of options we have on the table.

Think about these.

If you only have one pair of office shoes, you’d just wear them every day regardless of the style or color of clothes you put on.

If there’s only one brand of tissue, one brand of shampoo, your trip to the grocery store would be done in less than half an hour.

If there’s only one show on Netflix, you never have to scroll through it for too long. You just decide whether to watch it or not.

If there’s only one school in your town or city, you won’t have to spend time comparing. Instead, you can focus your energy on finding ways to pay off tuition fees.

Too many options lead us to experience what Psychologists call Decision Fatigue. It’s

the deteriorating quality of decisions made by an individual after a long session of decision making.

Wikipedia

Why? Because,

We use the same amount of willpower every time we make a decision regardless if it’s important or not.

Having too many options before us can be exhausting. Imagine scanning through a lot of information, choices, and combinations, that you end up feeling like, you don’t know what you want anymore. So when you’re faced with more important decisions, you’re left with depleted energy, no focus, and no wits.

There’s no quick way to fix this, but definitely,

We could start with reducing our choices

Dr. Laurie Santos- Yale University

Perhaps:

  • Have the same thing for dinner every night. Create a routine.
  • Have a fewer set of clothes, or stick to two pairs of shoes.
  • Stick to one color theme at home.
  • Only keep one phone. One tv. One mug, if you’re living alone.

Whatever you decide, keep things simple so it’s easier for you. Remember, you only have limited mental energy for the day. Make sure you use it, where it matters the most.

Where I’m Heading

So last night, I wrote this email to one of the writers I admire.

=========

Hey _____,

I hate you.  

I keep stumbling upon your blogs for some reason. Each and every time, the “what if” about pursuing my passion gets re-ignited.  I’m too comfortable with the security I have in my life right now that I can come up with excuses to not take another shot at things that give my heart wings.

I love writing and speaking.

BUT…

I have a “9-5” job working as a  _____________. I don’t have the luxury of time to work on things that inspire me.

I run out of ideas on what to __________   or  _______   about.

I’m insecure and worry about what _________  would think or say about my opinions/thoughts.

I only have a fair command of the  _________.

I am fascinated about __________, _________, _________, ________ and helping/teaching others what I know but I don’t have a degree on any of these.

Yet, time and again, I dream about becoming “that ________”, “that ________”. This unfulfilled desire leaves a hole in my heart,

A dent in my life, in my own person, that makes me feel like I’m not living “me”.

I don’t believe pursuing these things will give me a sense of security that I sort of value too.

But you, you are living your dream, my dream. And you’re being true to you, and you’re happy, and you’re creating an impact on the lives of people you don’t even know.

I wish I could be you. I wish I have your wisdom. I wish I have your courage.

Frustrated as to where I am right now, I just ______________________.

I’m desperate. I think I am. Where and how do I go from here? I’m half way through and very much aware that life is slipping away.

Help.

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Apologies for the “redacted” parts. I think I’m not ready at all to be completely vulnerable.  But I think you get the sense of frustration I am in.  If you’re in this state too, isn’t it comforting to know that It’s not a lonely world for you? Somewhere out there or here, someone else is stuck at a corner, not sure if the right thing to do next is to just turn.

Frustration is good. It helps you see how badly you’re unhappy of what’s happening now, and probably of where things are heading.  Unhappy in a sense that, what you see, may not always be the truth that you’ve always known.  

Someone once told me that in life, sometimes it’s not about knowing the answers, It’s about what you do with what you’ve come to know.

So my friend, what is it that you’ve been wrestling with? Chances are, you already have the answers. You’re just scared of what it’s gonna take.

I am scared too, and yet, here I am.