Transitions

It has been more than 2 months since we left the place where we have lived for seven good years – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  There were just a lot of last minute “TODOs” days prior to our flight that I wasn’t able to write about everything for that moment.

The heart was unsure.  The day of our flight just came swiftly that it felt that there were still a lot of things that can be done and moments that can be shared with our friends.  At the end of the day, we just need to submit ourselves, accept that we have given our best to accomplish everything, believing that we have created wonderful memories over the years of our journey in KL – enough to comfort the heart and to stop the tears from falling.

The body was tired. It was a cycle of buying stuff that we thought we need, weighing-unpacking-packing-weighing and endless sorting up until hours before the flight that has forbidden us from getting a good rest to at least prepare for the long hours of travel ahead.  There was just a lot of extra baggage that needs to be taken out and placed to the box labelled “to follow”.  We left KL with four large checked-in luggage and four hand carried bags, not to mention the 3 large boxes that we have sent in advance months before via courier service .

We are grateful.  We are always grateful for all the help from our friends and family in Kuala Lumpur.  With the amount of toys, household items, bags, clothes and books that we have accumulated over the years, we will not be able to clear up and pack everything if without their assistance in boxing and delivering to the place where it will temporarily be kept.  Our move came smoothly like it was planned to have everyone helping throughout the process – some were present during the preparation, others were on the day of the flight and the remaining group did their part days after our flight.  Upon arrival to Melbourne, we were welcomed by a close family friend where we stayed for a month and helped us while we were in transition.

We are getting by.  Melbourne is treating us nicely, my wife has started working, we have moved to our rented unit and my daughter has been enlisted for childcare and visiting the centre twice a week.  I am now actively looking for a job.  So far, I have attended two interviews and I have taken the rejections positively and as an opportunity for me to grow and learn.  I know that a better one will be coming my way – this, I am sure.

With all that came around – the rush, excitement, worries and tears were some of the proof that we are humans who deal and travel along with time together with its opportunities and challenges – individuals who are exposed to making choices every minute of our lives and with our heart and Faith that everything will be alright, we make those little steps forward in making important decisions.

For now, it is time to turn the pages of our book to begin writing each page of the new chapter as we strive to make each a memorable one.  Without a doubt, the previous one was indeed a great chapter.

The Interconnected World

THE PAST : Curiosity

My first hands on with the internet were when I entered College on Circa 2000.  My professor asked us to create an email address that I don’t even know what it is and how it is created.  Acquiring the 1st small piece of technology also during this period thrilled me.  Well, having that phone means I can play snakes and beat the highest score that so happens to be my score as well, send picture messages  of a bear a heart and another bear, compose the “Sweet Child of Mine” ring tone (rock on!), send text messages and be contented with the 5 liner-160 characters.  Having a phone camera doesn’t count yet during that time. 

Using the email address that I have created plus my little knowledge in using the internet explorer and the money that I have in my pocket to “rent” a computer, I signed up for my first social networking called Friendster where you share photos, write testimonials to a friend and browse what is happening to their lives.  In terms of checking the e-mails, I would just normally go to the computer shops to rent probably once a week and stay online for at most 30 minutes – I can live my life normally without bothering with what is happening inside that interconnected world.

THE PRESENT : Peak 

The availability of internet connection and the advancement of technology have made everyone “connected” to each other.  Gone are the days when you need to wait for weeks to receive a communication from a family abroad.  We can now get updates as it happen – a friend receiving his recognition, an officemate having a bad day, a family member celebrating his birthday, your neighbour who bought a new car, a college friend who delivered a baby and many other things that may either make you feel good or the opposite.

Technology has changed not only on how information is being processed, it has also transformed human’s social interaction.  One can send emoticons, press the “like”, write a comment, poke a friend even you’re oceans away from each other and yes even you are seated right next to each other, in the toilet, commuting, in between sleeps, meetings, concerts, movie house, lunch appointments and any other place and circumstances that you can list down.  And that is virtually done in the crowded environment that we are moving everyday – the cyberspace.

Convenient and fast information delivered right into your screens (smartphones, tablets, PCs and laptops).  I am one of the millions who enjoy the benefit of being “connected.”  It allows me to perform transactions in just few taps on my screen while browsing some Facebook updates, opening a whatsapp message notification, reading the new comment in your instragram post and many other screen actions that we can do on the apps we have decided to have.

Notice that this invention has given each of us an enormous power to carry out important tasks that enable us to even multitask that we didn’t imagine in the beginning that we are capable of doing.  But is it really attributing towards achieving a good quality of life or is it slowly destroying the balance in our lives? Does it make us smarter or less effective?  Can we cope-up with this trend?

The book called “Hamlet’s Blackberry” by William Powers presented factual elaborated details on how communication evolved since the ancient time.  He described using the Greek letters where Alpha represents minimum connectedness while Omega is the maximum connectedness with the crowd.  In one of the chapters, he explained that the poles represent not just the fact of being in a crowd or being alone but the types of experience associated with those situations.  When we’re alone, our thoughts and feelings are oriented inward and the experience tends to be relatively quiet and slow where in a crowd – whether physical or virtual – orientation is more external, simply because there’s more happening, more demands on our attention.  Life in a crowd is typically busier and faster, he added.

The author listed number of Philosophies by Plato, Shakespeare, Benjamin Franklin, Thoreau, McLuhan and many other admirable Philosophers on how we can find balance in our life in the digital age.  It was a well-researched book and ideas were presented clearly.

THE FUTURE : Take Control

More than 10 years have passed since my first experience with internet and the way we use technology have drastically changed and I am guilty on this.  More often, we tend to neglect simple things that really matters – the undivided attention in a conversation with depth and with personal connection; a well spent time with the family; a good sleep and; an authentic and ethical conduct to the activities we are presently in.

Things going on in a dinner table, coffee shops, public places are the evidences that humans have forgotten the very essence of human interaction.  One would be busy browsing Facebook updates from his screen, another one would be occupied by a chat in his instant messenger and the other person would be busy doing his attack in COC (Clash of Clans) – few of the many actions we can do with our screens.  The next time you feel that you want to take out your phone from your pocket while in the middle of a conversation, think again.  You may be hurting others without knowing it.

Technology has brought undeniable convenience to everyone but let us not forget the responsibility that comes hand in hand with these benefits we are enjoying.  The noise, the rush and busy lines in today’s world can be balanced with the right amount of awareness, control and care to the people around us.

“We don’t need to know everything, just the few things that matters.”

Cake, Balloons and Party Hats

It is amazing on how Birthdays make one’s day to shine brighter than usual days.

Weeks ago, I turned a year older and it is one of the happiest days I had.  If Baymax has another set of program that would test one’s level of happiness from the scale of 1-10, I would give a perfect score for that specific moment.

During school days, my birthday would always fall during the holy week or school break where no one from your classmates would be able to sing the birthday song for you.  I once wished that my day would fall on a normal school day but that was far from happening as our school holidays in the Philippines for primary and secondary levels used to end every March.  When I started working, I would always make sure to file a leave for that day to rest and to have a simple celebration.  For this year, I initially filed a leave from work but due to some urgent concerns in the office that needs to be attended, I just decided to defer the leave to another date.

The warm wishes from my timeline and IMs, the polo shirt, the lunch treat, the coffee session, chocolates, coke in can, cupcakes, the pancit, ice cream, slice of cake, heartfelt song dedications (#525600), the jump start to a faulty car battery, crazy photos, funny video messages has made the day a “Happy Birthday”.

Birthdays are always special and according to Gretchen Rubin  who authored “The Happiness Project”, we should celebrate this occasion and make it memorable to mark the passing of time.

And so after that day, I have come to realised that in able for us to achieve joy, we should always treat each day as our birthdays.  Anyway, the gift of a new day is more than enough for us to be grateful for another opportunity to live, to love and to experience happiness.

Movements and Changes

Driving back home yesterday after a long day in the office, with silence with me inside the car, my mind started playing pictures of the changes that is about to take place.  I found myself teary-eyed when my brain slowly rendered a detailed narrative of the picture.  But before bursting into tears, I immediately turned on the radio to interrupt the pattern.
 
The world with time as its measure is just continuously moving and so the plans that we have held for a long time just need to be released to let it take its own course.  It is just happening.  Necessary arrangements have been made – work, banks, accommodations and air tickets; utility services have been also scheduled for cancellation.  My mind just needs to be in good shape in able for my body to execute what I still need to accomplish for the remaining days.
 
It was a brave decision to step forward from where I am – my comfort zone.  Life is just moving in one forward direction and we just need to hold lightly and comfortably while appreciating its surroundings and let it bring us to the place that will allow us to explore, test our limits and will help us to grow.

Better things will come out of this.  I am sure on that.

Hard Choices

Some may not notice how frequent they are having the challenge of deciding the “which one”, “where to”, “what to” in their daily pursuit of life. When we are given options that most of the time is the case, we tend to put so much effort in choosing and giving the firm decision. Why? Simply because we always want the best for us and we don’t want to be caught in the middle and say that we failed.

Let me share some among the number of situations that I deal with every day:

Carpark. I prefer parking beside the wall or in the corner areas just to avoid being “in between” cars and prevent my doors from getting those scratches. So even I have finished parking in a decent space, once my favourite spot became available, right there and then, I will re-park my car and I’ll feel better after doing that.

Clothes. I go for brand labels at times although I would prefer a cheaper one as long as I feel good (and the bonus to look good). The fit, quality, color, material, texture and the price would be the deciding factor.

Coffee Shops. Do they have discounts & reward points? Is the internet access unlimited and stable for me to do my work? Is the place conducive for me to relax, to do my task or to have a good conversation? Normally, I would go to Starbucks whenever I need a coffee given I have a budget although the company have implemented a limited access to the internet by using a password in able to connect to the network that would last for 2 hours. I have also noticed the decline in the quality of customer service that the crew are providing to the customers. Price, coffee quality, ambience, internet connectivity, rewards and customer service – these are important.

But of course, nothing beats a hot cup of coffee over a warm conversation with your friends and family, whatever coffee shop it may be.

Food. To do our work with efficiency and to allow us to deal with the people around us effectively, we need to take food that will give us the nutrition that our body need and to trigger some positive mood as a result of our satisfaction from the meal we just had. But there are just so many choices – one can go for a healthy, sweet, savoury, spicy, fancy restaurant, canteens, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Asian, Western, convenient, fried, grilled or steamed food (and the list goes on). Normally, I would go for the food that I am craving on a particular moment as long as the budget permits and as long as it compliments with what your spouse, your friends or your officemates want (it’s sad to eat alone). The value for money, quality of food and customer service should be within the standards.

Jobs. When I started working 10 years ago, the figure in my payslip is the major consideration for me to sign the contract and including the company benefits in the equation was not important for me during those days. But with the two retrenchment exercises that I have experience and with the work that I have done from different organizations, I have grown mature in choosing a place to work. The stability of the company, culture and work-life balance have become the main considerations as I grow in the corporate world.

Moving to a new Place. A better quality of life, who doesn’t want it? Being the bread winner, I just felt that the amount of money I was getting was not sufficient to sustain the family’s need back then, I am sure many are still experiencing the same challenge in the Philippines. So I was compelled to accept a job offer in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and relocated together with my wife on 2008.

Sure, before any move, there will be always anxiety as you are not familiar in the place – the “Fear of the Unknown” as many are calling it. Some may be also afraid of letting go of the job positions they have, bonds of friendship and attachment to places you love and norms that you became accustomed with.

The list would go on from the gadgets to buy whether Android or iOS, school choices, course that you desire, houses, cars, appliances and everything that surrounds us, living or non-living things, from a simple to complex selection, from an easy to hard choices.

Looking at the enumeration above, we may notice that the emotion on how we feel that is attached to a particular choice is a common factor in our decisions. We want to feel better or rather happy after choosing that option. The reason? Well, I have no expert advice on how to make it easier but according to a TED Featured Talk on “Hard Choices” by Ruth Chang, the decision should come within ourselves – reasons should be created by us and should not be dictated by others or the world around us. We should make choices that would help us to write our own story of life rather than allowing others to write it for us. She has also highlighted that we don’t choose options because of the ease of accomplishing it or based on quantitative or scientific methods, instead we should take hard choices on par and allow ourselves to go towards that choice based on who we really are and what do want to be.

Making choices is one of my favourite subjects and whenever I find myself trapped in making “Hard Choices”, I’ll give time for my brain to process for a moment and later countercheck with my heart if it agrees with what my mind is trying to say. Sometimes, if I find the situation really tough, I make use of the readily available tools like the calculator, internet, social media, pen, paper and a personal conversation with my family and friends. In the end, after doing these things, the final decision is all back to my hands and with Faith, I will make that decision and submit myself to that firm choice.

Train Ride

Growing up then
I was excited to explore everything
I want to be in the future
I was excited to see what the world can give me
Embracing each opportunity that is coming

Years have passed by swiftly
Nature has thrown so many lessons
I stumbled, I cried, I laughed, I shared joy, I learned
Memorable moments were shared on every occasion
A train ride with lessons on each station

Now that I am in the so called “future” then
I just don’t want to move my feet
And stop the train from moving
Life is just fine here, not so fancy
But I am sure it’s happy

Change, if I could just control you
I will take charge and stay on where I am now
But nature has its own way
We may not understand why for now
We just need to surrender and follow

One day, on the sea shore while watching the sunset
I would understand why
One day, on a beautiful morning while opening the window
I would see things clearly
One day, on a cool rainy afternoon while holding a cup of coffee
I would experience the calmness
Knowing that what I have left behind has found its own place

TGIF

Research suggests that having enough sleep attributes to one’s happiness. You get to see things clearly, you can hear what others are saying, you can give better decisions, your food or coffee tastes better than usual days – your senses remain intact when you had enough sleep. Gretchen Rubin in her book “The Happiness Project” also highlighted how sleep can improve one’s mood.

Upon reaching the office, I immediately put on my earphones and listened to some podcasts saved on my mobile phone. Just to justify that antisocial-do not diturb- snobbish act, I believe once in a while, it is healthy to filter the things that we hear to allow us to focus to ourselves and be able clear our thoughts.

A supposed to be “Thank God It’s Friday” atmosphere came as a big challenge to achieve. I felt that things seems to be scattered all over the place that I cannot pull them together. I ranted about things that happened in the past, I was quiet and I was ineffective.

Sometimes the power of the world that surrounds us makes us blind to see the good things and weakens us to remember how to behave as “proper” individuals. Human relationship is dynamic and it is important for us to rule over our emotions. Lots of positive self talk can replace the dark cloud on your mind and a quick interrupt is needed to break the negative pattern.

I was just tired.

A Work in Progress

We deal with different individuals every day. We are exposing ourselves with diverse culture and behavior as we interact in the community we exist. You may find a perfect match of your funny character; a person who can understand your matured way of thinking; somebody who can go with your crazy thoughts; one who would support your idea; someone who will find a way to fulfil what you want; and of course millions of a direct opposite of you – the number is speaking that it’s normal. Every day is a test of courage, patience, kindness and faith.

We only want the best for our “every days” that most of the time, we tend to expect things to happen based on what we believe will make us happy and satisfied. But it is not always the case. Period! There are things that no matter how perfectly we have designed and mapped in our minds, it will turn out to be different from what we have expected. And so, what’s the side effect? It will leave us hurting, numb at times, mad, unproductive, negative, lousy, ineffective, selfish – a definitely unhappy individual.

Before anything could happen as an effect of our unmet expectations, we have to turn off the trigger and pop out that bubble of expectations and let the day to surprise us and allow possibilities of happiness to flow in. We also need to remember to be effective in communicating what we are thinking so that the people around us would at least understand what’s running on our mind and be able to help. I am still a work in progress in this matter and I know it is a bit of a challenge, but for the sake of keeping our sanity, we just have to choose these options.

Just grab your favorite cup of coffee, relax and let it be.

Learn from the Past. Enjoy the Present. Look Ahead.

Welcoming a new season; your daughter getting married; seeing signs of ageing; goodbyes and hellos; gaining weight; assuming a new position in the office; break-up; completion of a big project; living in new place; letting go; beginnings; loss of a loved one; arrival of a new family member; growing together; growing apart; failed attempts; achieving your goals.

A seed being planted will sprout to a young and vibrant seedling; it will thrive for its survival by adapting to the environment. Soon it will boast its trunks, branches and green leaves giving comfort to others, providing protection from the scorching heat of the sun or shelter during the rainy season. It will mature and bear its fruits giving nourishment to others. It will be happy witnessing the young minds as they run around its territory; a man comfortably resting his back in its trunks as he writes about his dreams. As time pass by, its leaves will turn yellow and fall down, its trunks can easily be broken; it will become weak and can no longer hold against the wind.

CHANGE IS INEVITABLE.

Dealing with change is easy for some and for other half it is tough, exhausting and traumatic. We are humans who most of the time deal with our decisions and change based on our emotions. We enter the sacred world of marriage, the challenging task of being a parent, but no matter how situations test us, we continue to keep the promises that we made as Love binds the Family. We meet new people and we start to know more about them making strong connection of trust and friendship; we acquire new things that we protect too much that we don’t want it to be damaged – we are taught to value the things and people that comes along our way.

On the other hand, we can also deal with change by reframing our mindset, our thoughts. It is powerful and can bring you inner peace and boost your energy to move ahead but can be destructing and can paralyze you if you allow negative thoughts to flow within you.

When we encounter change, say a termination from your job. Our brain sees it as a negative event that will send signals to our body to make it sad and weak. It will bring emotion of sadness and uncertainty as there is no more available source of income. What about looking at it as an opportunity to empower ourselves so that we can get a better job? Or take the opportunity to bond with our family? Or allow the situation for us to regain our energy from the stress that the corporate world has brought us.

In my opinion, we have to be the master of our minds and just add the balance of emotion so that we will be able to cope up with change. It’ll bring a change that is acceptable and a feeling of true happiness. I know it will be difficult but practice with commitment and patience will make it perfect. Taught from the “Manuscript Found in Accra” written by Paulo Coehlo, being in an unfamiliar place will be a big shift but know that with the passing of time, people who shares the same passion will come to our lives that soon we will start to travel the road with confidence and we will start to notice and enjoy its surroundings.

Today, I am opening myself to anything that could happen. Wherever my destiny brings me, I am ready. Life will only pass once so why not make it a good one.

Like a flowing river, I will embrace wherever situation takes me. I will try my best not to stumble on whatever life will give me.

Like the tree, I will make sure that this journey will be a happy and meaningful one – a Life with a Purpose.

It took me a decade to read this book

When I started working in 2004 at NEC, Manila – my first job, a friend in the same office forwarded a copy of an e-book that they were saying a good read. I browsed few pages of it but never continued and attempted to read it again.

After 10 years, I finally had the chance of getting the physical book on my hand. I needed to buy a present to my officemate here in KL (on my fifth job) so I thought of buying my own copy since I am catching up on reading and I felt that this book would be a good investment as I have received positive feedbacks about the book.

Now that I have the time to read as my work schedule is no longer as hectic as before, I took the advantage of it. Contrary when I first had a copy of the story back in 2004, reading the first few pages of the book today has already caught my attention – words are inspiring, powerful and yet written in a manner that everyone can easily grasp. I may have grown matured probably in terms of working on written materials. Aside from that, being at home today has given me the freedom to finish the book (seldom that this happens). It took my entire Sunday (no regrets) to finish the book with meals, household chores and little rest in between.

“The Achemist” written by Paulo Coelho tells a story of man’s quest for his destiny. That each one of us has a purpose and there is always a reason in everything that is happening in our lives. God allows negative things to happen to prepare ourselves for something greater and better. For sure, as we journey our lives with different circumstances; as we establish relationships with the people around us; and as we battle the challenges of life while we are on the road towards our dreams, we learn something valueable out of it – patience, perseverance, Faith, we discover our capabilities and most importantly we become a better person to others. Just don’t give up on trying and make sure to listen to what these situations are trying to tell you – befriend your heart and he will tell you where to go and what to do.

It is not too late to read this book, it just came to me just in time. They were right, indeed a good read – a story that would reignite one’s dying passion towards attaining his dream.

Let me share excerpts from the book that I have highlighted in blue when I was reading it:

“Because I don’t live in either in my past or my future. I’m interested only in the present. If you can concentrate always on the present, you’ll be a happy man. You’ll see that there is life in the desert, that there are stars in the heavens, and that tribesman fight because they are part of the human race. Life will be a party for you, a grand festival, because life is the moment we are living right now.”

“Every day was there to be lived or to mark one’s departure from this world.”

“Every search begins with beginner’s luck. And every search ends with the victor’s being severely tested.”

“Life is a journey.”