500 Pairs of Shoes

It was another sultry afternoon under the scorching torture of the sun for Ben. Salty perspiration trickled freely across his sunburnt forehead drenching his thick, dark brows. The rice fields had almost been entirely ploughed, as Ben forcefully drove the blade beneath the thick mud. His stiff bones were aching; his lips cracked from dehydration.

“One more push,” he cheered on the water buffalo. “One more push” was the mantra two hundred pushes ago.

“Farmer boy! Farmer boy!” a mocking voice echoed across the rice field into Ben’s ears.

Thirteen boys had gathered around one perimeter of the rice field. They were watching Ben condescendingly, pointing to his ragged, muddied clothing and aging water buffalo whilst holding their stomachs as they laughed heartily at Ben’s poverty.

“Hey… hey, Ben,” one of the boys, a chubby delinquent who was out of breath from cacophonous cackling, desperately squeezed out a feeble gag, “Yo’ mama so poor, she uses fireflies for light!”

Ben ignored the eruption of roaring laughter.

“Hey you!” one of the oldest boys yelled out at Ben, presumably the leader, as he was the tallest and toughest-looking.

Ben ignored him.

“I’m talking to you, idiot!” The older boy was now irritated.

Still, Ben maintained his calm demeanour and remained quiet. That is, until he felt a sharp sting at the back of his neck. His world blacked out. Time seemed to have slowed and the voices around him became warped. The last thing he saw was the face of his darling mother, and his eyes settled upon the calloused, bare, bleeding feet of his mother until he surrendered and gave in to the darkness.

When Ben awoke, he was lying down on a hard, bamboo bed in his mother’s dark hut. A wet towel soaking the heat from his fever covered his warm forehead. His mother did not have enough money to take him to the doctor.

As he turned to his side, he saw a strangely beautiful woman on the chair. A woman unrecognizable, but by her feet he had known her. The woman was none other than Ben’s mother, but the stone had been cast, and so was his fortune that he could no longer recognize the woman who laboured for him—the young widow who finished but third grade as she had to care for her siblings when her own mother became blind. He had forgotten that the hardworking lady who sold rice cakes in the market was his own flesh and blood. But he could only distinguish this woman by the only rubric that his brain permitted: She was the woman with the calloused, bleeding soles. He was moved with love and compassion.

Still feverish and delirious, Ben rose to find a piece of wood. An elongated plank would do. A log, a lumber, a stick would not suffice, but a timber, a plywood. Desperately, Ben scrambled around the tiny village gathering strange looks.

It must have been half past noon when Elena awoke from her slumber. She had fallen asleep on the chair next to her ill son. But as her vision cleared, she was jolted by the sight of an empty bed. Her son Ben had been acting rather strangely, sporadically screaming in his sleep in a fit of rage. The herbal woman had recommended putting heated banana leaves and lime upon his forehead, but nothing seemed to have worked for nearly two weeks. Elena had been closely watching over Ben, lest her only cherished son perish in his sleep.

Elena was frightened. She searched all over the tiny village, asking every neighbour and villager, until alas they pointed her to the direction where Ben had gone. At last, although tearful, she had found him under the shade of a mango tree. Ben did not recognize her, but a smile formed upon his chapped lips when he saw her calloused feet. He had made a slender and chiseled wooden shoe for Elena. A piece of velvet cloth neatly lined the beautifully crafted shoe. The piece of velvet cloth, he had unreservedly pilfered from the reject pile of the village seamstress, Miss Rosalyn, who had just finished a nursing degree at the university, but could not obtain a job in the city.

Ben placed one shoe on his mother’s foot, and they fit perfectly, as if divinely tailored. Elena felt the soft velvet against her beaten feet. How lovely those feet were for Ben. Those very feet that had punitive intercourse with the earth and the jagged rocks therein. But bravely, she walked with temerity to sell rice cakes to the neighbouring village and city market.

The wooden shoes were only the first of many Ben created for Elena. He had weaved flat shoes made of sturdy coconut leaves, of mangrove, of hide from domestic and wild animals, of leather, of rubber, of fabric from Miss Rosalyn, of plastic, of old wrappers, and even of flat stones.

They were not only inventive but were also exquisite, stemming from Ben’s unbridled passion to shelter his mother’s precious feet.

The villagers had seen Elena wear the shoes and had inquired as to who was making these handsome shoes. As Elena sold her rice cakes village to village, and in the city, Ben’s creative preoccupation harboured fascination and curiousity. First, it was only the experimentation of a few daring individuals, but soon, orders poured in from the city and surrounding villages, and before long, even the whole province knew about Ben’s crafts. Ben diligently worked tirelessly, creating each handcrafted pair of shoes with care, but never neglecting to create special ones for Elena and Miss Rosalyn, who generously imparted fabric for his linings.

It was not long before a wealthy, old businessman had taken notice of Ben’s work and hired Ben in his company, who quickly rose up the corporate ladder.

Years had gone by, and although Ben had been successful, he bought shoes for his mother every week. These were designer shoes from Paris, New York, London, Prague, and Milan. He had married Miss Rosalyn and they had moved to New York City as the business had required it.

Now, Elena was aging, and had preferred to stay in the village as she could not stand the cold and buzz of New York City. For many years, she had continued to receive shoes from wherever Ben had gone in the world. Because of his work ethic, he had proven himself indispensable in the company. Soon, life became demanding as Ben and Rosalyn had bore children. Ben had also gone back to school to obtain a degree. Shoes came rarely to Elena’s doorstep, only once a month, and then once every two months, and so forth. Many more years had gone by, and Elena only received shoes on her birthday.

Alone, and waiting, Elena ceased to receive shoes from Ben, who had become incredibly wealthy and successful in the world of the wolves.

Years had gone by, and Ben received a letter that had been lost in the piles of letters in his lavish office on Wall Street. The letter was addressed from a local hospital:

Please come home.

                Love,                                                                                                                                                                                     Mama

Immediately, Ben booked a flight home, but not before buying the most beautiful and striking glass shoes, studded with precious jewels. He had wrapped it in a golden package and a quaint bow.

Upon arriving, Ben searched for his mother, who he assumed to be ill as she had used the hospital’s address.

Sure enough, he had found his mother. Serenely asleep. Her face was wizened and leathery. Her bony knuckles prominently protruded out as her hands clenched a rosary. Her thin, transparent skin showed the cobalt vein on her hands harbouring an intravenous buried beneath. Her breathing was shallow.

Ben was deeply moved by the sight of Elena, whose wispy hair now resembled freshly microwaved popcorn.

Gently, Elena awoke at the sight of Ben. She could give only a tiny smile.

“I have been waiting for you, my precious child,” she said softly, “but I am afraid I cannot stay long.”

“Mother, what do you mean?” Ben inquired.

“Ben, your father—my beloved—is calling me now, but I told him I needed to see you one last time.” Elena smiled sweetly; her yellowing teeth peered through her parched, pale lips.

“Please, mother, do not go just yet.”

“I am sorry my child. I love you.”

And with that she breathed her last.

“Elena had been battling stage four bone cancer. We had to amputateboth her legs to prevent the spread of cancer,” the doctor informed Ben.

Ben was dumbfounded and could only stare at the shoes he had bought for Elena. After the funeral, Ben went to his childhood home. On the shelves, on the floor, on the chairs, on the desks, there were but shoes—all four hundred and ninety nine pairs.

But no Elena to wear them.

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Facebook: Killing You Softly

www.popularairsoft.com

 

 

What started out as a school project became real life inspiration about a month ago. Me and my partner chose a topic that was close to our hearts – that are close to many of our hearts – Facebook. Facebook has had profound impact on our lives since its inception in 2004. It’s been connecting long lost families, friends from the past, and I even know couples who have met on Facebook. I ride the bus, and find people scrolling through Facebook. Heck, even my mom is on Facebook. I guess a little Facebook is beneficial. It allows you to “connect” to people like never before. But, as I was going through life, I began to question if I truly had connection with my Facebook friends. I have 1000+ friends from all over the world. I have lived in many places throughout my lifetime; from the Philippines, Toronto, Northern Ontario, Oshawa, and Ottawa and I have made “friends” from all those places. It was quite satisfying to keep up with friends this way. With every update, I felt like a part of my friends’ lives. And when I update my status, everybody knew how I was feeling, doing, and thinking right away.

Somewhere along the way, I became tired of this superficial living. It’s as if people around have become zombie-like mindlessly scrolling through Facebook. Then, one day, I looked up from my phone. There was a sinking feeling that another day has gone, and I haven’t had anything done. Facebook has become a way of life, embedded, incorporated, enmeshed, and we don’t even realize just how deeply it has penetrated society to the point of it as natural as breathing. Isn’t it the first thing we check in the morning and last thing at night? With two billion users worldwide, Facebook isn’t just a benevolent site for connecting friends, it is a corporation. Some guy is making money off these dysfunctional friendships.

Not only that, Addiction to social media may affect the physical health of a person. Studies have shown that prolonged sitting as is mostly the case when engaging in social media world, kills more people than HIV aids, and is not being dubbed the new “smoking” (Schulte, 2015). Sitting, although harmless as it may seem at first, may have adverse effects on the health. Individuals are more susceptible to obesity, cardiovascular diseases, which may lead to heart attack The physical inactivity that is linked to excessive social media usage is also an increasing problem in society due to economic cause of healthcare; most diseases could have been preventable by physical activity, such as morbid obesity leading to heart problems. Not only that, users’ eyesight may be unnecessarily strained due to prolonged screen staring which could lead to permanent vision impairment. Most of the damage are subtle yet irreversible – the users needlessly suffering.

Studies have also shown that Facebook usage makes users unable to devote cognitive resources to task fulfillment and involves problems in initiating and maintaining action. Individuals lose the ability for self control and often ruminate in negative thoughts.

Sounds a lot to me like Good ‘Ol Brain Washin’. People are incapable of performing even the simplest task because their brains are hijacked by the constant feed of Facebook. Isn’t it sad how our society has become like this? People are merely existing, scrolling through artificial photos of friends who seem to be having the time of their lives. But often, these pictures are doctored, filtered and enhanced, I know, because it’s a well-known secret amongst people my age to use apps that filter our imperfections and present only our best self. The only thing missing is a label “pictures are far less fun than they appear.” It seems people are only doing “fun” things so they can post it on Facebook. The essence of true living is lost in order to perfect the fantasy life that is Facebook. Addiction to Facebook is real. Facebook use can be a vicious cycle of perpetual escape from reality equated with that of alcohol and drug use. Marriages and relationships have fallen apart because of this “greener on the other side” mentality. While it’s great to catch up with family and friends, Facebook must never take over our lives. Facebook is a tool, don’t let it make us a tool. Facebook is capitalizing on what is one of the most important things in a person’s life – friendship.

Facebook use is sheer mindlessness that is brought upon by diverse factors converging to create a generation of automatons – zombies. The cognitive faculties are easily hijacked by Facebook usage which could actually lead to depression, these negative effects include chronic distraction, engaging in social comparison, ruminating, and recalling negative memories (Tran, Uebelacker, Wenze, Collins, & Broughton, 2015).

It’s time to break out of the mold. After doing my project and doing hours of research and reading many articles, I realized I am addicted to Facebook. I had physical symptoms of withdrawal when I quit. I would felt so lost, with suddenly so much time on my hand. Facebook did not let me off the hook easily. When I deactivated my account, it showed pictures of my closest friends saying they will miss me. It even prompted me to list my reason for quitting, and had suggestions to improve my Facebook experience for me not to leave, like a very clingy lover. But, I had my mind made up. While I may undoubtedly be back, I want to take my time to really live, and not have this website control who I am and how I’m supposed to be.

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Don’t you just feel so betrayed?

 

So, I’d like to encourage you not to quit Facebook just because, but challenge you to live life with whatever you have been given. For me, that is school, my volunteer position, my writings, and all the things I never had time for because I was umbilically bound to Facebook. What was life like BF (Before Facebook). What did you enjoy doing? Life is so much more than the imprisoning hold of Facebook; much more than the jail cell(phone). Be so engrossed in life. Take time to really live right in the moment. Go to the gym, read a book, cook, and feel the intrinsic satisfaction of doing things you love without the external validation of a virtual thumb. Because, those are the things you remember on your deathbed, and not how many likes you attracted that one time you posted a heavily filtered picture of yourself.

The Day I Almost Kind Of Met The President Serendipitously. (Based on a True Story)

If you ask me “how did your day go Elle?” I’d say “Fantastic!”
“Tell me about it.” 11109174_858746097507121_1163259547570328187_o
*Cue dramatic music*
I woke up in the morning and went for a jog down my street. 11169818_858744760840588_141186769074917456_o
Little did I know, there were police on motorcycle on my way. My first thoughts were “Oh no, was I jogging too fast? I swear I was only running 5 km/hr.”
Then they just smiled at me. Just then, I saw a car which had a small Philippine flag inside the windshield! Then it hit me: The Philippine president was staying at Westin hotel on my street! (I was like OMG!) I felt giddy and proceeded to the Parliament. Philippine flags were flirting with the wind against the cerulean skies and crisp spring morning breeze. (And there was a small spider on my shirt. Yikes!)

I spotted the GMA and ABS-CBN reporters, two of the largest TV network station in the Philippines and I had the opportunity to talk with the GMA reporter, a very pleasant lady who congratulated me for being a Canadian citizen and a university student. (Thanks(?))11169561_858744784173919_8257164897656022841_o11143306_858744697507261_7705715045796455072_o

Then I made me way near the Parliament building where an RCMP officer informed me that the president was coming at 10:00 AM. He insisted we take a selfie. 10458771_858745117507219_4711129163424079065_n

It turned out, Filipinos in Ottawa were too busy to meet the president and it was only Miss Eve, a fellow Filipina who left work to take videos, and I who decorated the street to meet the president. As all decent Filipinos would do, we took a selfie. Teehee.

We waited and waited. And of course 10:00 AM was Filipino Standard Time. The president arrived at 10:45ish (Canadian Time). We didn’t realize it was him and we completely ignored the diplomatic cars going by. Turned out, he had passed right under our noses!

Nevertheless, we met the Filipino “Men in Black” Rolando Vargas and the other guy (dunno-his-name) and we chatted with Rolando and he informed us that they were indeed staying at the Westin Hotel(!!!!) Few doors down my apartment. I was like “Waah no way! That’s like soo weird.” His Excellency had gone to Rideau Centre, (Mall next to my house) which was connected to Westin, to buy some CDs.

Just Miss Eve and I greeting the president

Just Miss Eve and I greeting the president

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Soon, we made a mad dash towards the parliament building to capture Prime Minister Stephen Harper and President Benigno Aquino, although from a far distance as we were not allowed to be near the building.11174236_858746060840458_7622855120725923977_o

Going home, I also witnessed a peculiar sight with different types of Canadian army. They had a moment of silence and oops, I pressed the button to cross the street and got dirty looks. I’m really sorry!! D’:11110996_858745280840536_6061408003603359724_o

Hello Again: Blessing of Quietude

It’s been such a long time since I posted here. I’m still alive. I have just finished 2014-2015 school year. However, this summer, I decided to take a course at a local college for American Sign Language. As an introvert, I have to periodically withdraw from the world as I get agitated easily by the crowd or overwhelming attention.

My exams were tough tough tough, but thankfully, I managed to somehow get through the year without dropping out. Certainly not my best year, but hopefully the next few years will be better. My life has been very quiet, and I love it! My favourite part is when I attend sign language class. My teacher is deaf so he only communicates by sign language, and it is the quietest 3 hours of my life. Spring has also been wonderful and I can just be still as I listen to the humming of birds and the rustling of leaves. 10407207_858872390827825_8173246675482256283_n

Quietness keeps me grounded as the world is constantly bombarded by unnecessary noises, especially as I live in the city being a country girl.

The Real Philanthropist

I’m not a social activist, economist or Sociologist, but in my short time on Earth as a social observer, I cannot help but feel appalled by the entitlement some of the rich of our generation feel.

The rich complain: “We’re giving large amounts of money to the poor. Billions of dollars coming out of philanthropists for housing projects and charitable organization, but the poor never help themselves. It seems every year, the population keeps growing poor. Poverty will never end. What’s the use of giving?”

Let me tell you, that the very same “poor” that the rich are complaining about are the true philanthropists. They sacrifice their precious time, talent, and money just so the rich could satiate their insatiable greed.

It is the poor and low-wage workers that serve you in restaurants, check out your groceries, it is the poor that make up your bed in hotels, who take care of your kids, who pick up the garbage; you know, that thing you make you cringe by the mere thought of taking it from your front door to the sidewalk.

These people make sacrifices, living in minimum to no wage just so the rich could afford that new Ferrari because Ferraris are so important that the precious, endangered species – the rich, would suffer from hypoxia without it.

When it comes to appraising dignities, the poor are automatically valued to a scale that would shame a thermometer in the North during mid-winter.

Do you really want to help the poor? Don’t cling to your money, make life an expression of genuine concern for humankind rather than to flaunt wealth, because you owe it to humanity, and humanity does not owe you sparkling trophies and accolades.

“Let us not be satisfied with just giving money. Money is not enough, money can be got, but they need your hearts to love them. So, spread your love everywhere you go.”
– Mother Teresa

As a human being, I feel pitiful towards the loss of humanity, as many of our co-humans are reduced to becoming money-making machines to the point of delusion from the dizzying hamster wheel of perpetuating pursuit of wealth.

But it doesn’t matter, does it? Because in this world, money is the measure of one’s worth, not the consistent, selfless services stemming from the core of human kindness.

Mental Hygiene: How Dirty is your Mind? (Rejection, Failure, Obsession)

I have a confession to make. When I was a little girl, I hated brushing my teeth. I would often skip out on the bristles for even as long as a month. Gross? Of course! But I thought it was normal. My siblings complained of course especially my sister as she had become a dental hygienist. I had a lot of cavities but thankfully, they were my primary teeth and not my permanent teeth. I wasn’t very keen on my personal hygiene either. I would go into the woods and the murky seas just a few steps away from home and play, not minding the mud, and the corals cutting my skin. I didn’t care too much about showering either as I hated the cold water touching my skin. I wasn’t particularly neglected, but was rather independent, and I had a lot of caregivers, so much that everybody else assumed somebody else took care of me. (I told a little lie here and there.)

Disclaimer: For the record, I do love taking showers now and brush my teeth regularly twice a day. 😉

Living in this day and age, many of us are educated about our personal hygiene. In fact, a person who does not practice hygiene is often avoided. But not too long ago, in history, we’re talking only 160 years out of the world’s long history was the tooth brush invented. Even then, it was not widely used. Brown teeth were quite common.Animals brown teeth bears wide HD Wallpaper

Before having hygiene as a norm, people went on living in unsanitary conditions without even thinking of the dire consequences. Doctors would not wash their hands as they operated, and people left their excrement in open places.

We are reminded of human ignorance in this matter in the form of many disasters and several plagues, namely the Bubonic plague.

It’s a no-brainer that personal hygiene is crucial, but have we ever thought about mental hygiene?

Is mental hygiene really important? If you ask me, I think it is.

We are living in an advanced digital age. Just as the push for personal hygiene as the population increased just a few hundred years ago was necessary, so is mental hygiene in this time and age where knowledge has indeed increased pressing our brains to work to the fullest capacity. Our brains are constantly stimulated, our mind taunted by the challenges of the and we don’t even think about the consequences and injuries we are causing just because there isn’t a pool of blood, browning of our brains, or even odour emanating from our heads.

Some common injuries to our brains include, rejection, failure, negative self-talk and obsession with the past encompassing guilt and rumination.

Mental hygiene is more important than you think, more important than ever as our brains are constantly on the go. We make erratic choices in response to failure and rejection because our mind did not have time to heal. Imagine running a 10k race when you had just broken your leg.

Fear of Failure – Fear of failure is really the fear of the unknown which is ubiquitous. As humans, there will always be unknown since we are but finite beings. Knowing this, we can equip ourselves to better cope with failure. This takes mental hygiene as a habit. This habit would include positive self-talk, the will to try again, and not label oneself as inherently “bad”, or a failure.

It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.

– Albert Einstein

Develop a growth mindset as opposed to a fixed mindset described by Stanford professor, Dr. Carol Dweck. Growth mindset is the type of mindset asserting that those who believe their success is based on hard work, learning, training and doggedness are  more likely to thrive and succeed. People who have growth mindset believe they never stop learning and intelligence does not depend on one’s initial IQ.

By amending our mistakes, we get wisdom. By defending our faults, we betray an unsound mind.

– Hui Neng

Rejection – Today , I was called for the first time by an elderly as a “stupid, damned faggot.” She said some other things, but I had ignored it as I continued to wheeled her across the hospital’s ward where I volunteer. Rejection hurts a lot. There were many times I had been rejected, from university, love, friendship, jobs, and even in my volunteer placement such as today. But there also been many times where I had been accepted for who I am.  It is important that with every rejection, we must take time to shield ourselves by building up immunity. We can build immunity to rejection by knowing who we are first before internalizing everything. If the elderly lady had called me a stupid damned faggot a year earlier, I would have cried right then and there, but today, I could only empathize with her. You see, she had Alzheimer’s and desperately wanted to go home. She did not even remember who I am. She was yelling “God, Jesus, please help me. I’m gonna die soon.” I saw the desperation in her eyes as tears began to form behind her glasses. Often, people who reject us are not rejecting the very essence of who we are, more often it’s about them and not because we are useless. Reject rejection.

Rumination – I am guilty of this as my brain has obsessive tendencies. I would ruminate about all the things I have done wrong all the time, things I could have said disabling my from moving on. Indeed as a CD is scratched from constant replaying, so our brains obtain scratches until we injure ourselves.

Dr. Guy Winch, a renowned psychologist in his book Emotional First Aid: Practical Strategies for Treating Failure, Rejection, Guilt, and Other Everyday Psychological Injuries, has said, “We often neglect our psychological wounds until they become severe enough to impair our functioning.”injured brain illustration

All of us go through mental injuries that sometimes manifest itself physically in depression and ultimately suicide if we are not careful to remedy our mental needs. There are a bunch of us running around severely injured, yet we just smile and shrug and say ‘I’m fine.’

Like bacterias and diseases take over our bodies if we are not careful about our body hygiene because our immune system is weak, so will negative and equally dysfunctional people prey on our mental weaknesses. If we have low self-esteem people will happily take advantage of that to their own benefit. If we are suffering from depression, people will easily point out “it’s all in your head.”

But the worst vulture, my own worst enemy – is myself.

After living with their dysfunctional behavior for so many years, people become invested in defending their dysfunctions rather than changing them.

Marshall Goldsmith

We have installed a virus inside our own mind limiting our own capacity to live life to the fullest. It’s that “Obnoxious Roommate” as Arianna Huffington calls that negative voice. “It feeds on putting us down and strengthening our insecurities and doubts.”

It’s time to put the eviction notice on the door and start caring for our mental health more now.

Develop a healthy mental habit every day. Isn’t it time we learn first-aid coping tools when dealing with mental injuries such as rejection, failure, loneliness?  

There are many books available to help establish that routine so that you would be able to combat negativity and become mentally healthier and stronger.

The Frog Race: Ambitious Frog

Once upon a time, a group of frogs decided to have a race climbing a long pole, slippery pole.

The toughest frogs came to compete and all the frogs in the village came also to witness the race.

Everyone was ribbiting and croaking. “Ribbit ribbit, croak croak.”

The First Tough Frog ascended up the pole. The village frogs kept croaking “You can’t make it! It’s too slippery.”

The First Tough Frog felt the pole slip from his hands, and he could not hold on any longer, and the poor frog gave up and fell on the ground.

The Second Tough Frog was up next, and he was even bigger and tougher than the First Tough Frog. But sure enough, the village frogs croaked “You’ll only fall like First Tough Frog. Ribbit Ribbit. The pole is too slippery you can’t make it.”

Indeed, as you might have guessed, the poor frog fell on the ground.

The Third and Fourth frogs also tried but only to end in demise, as the village frogs croaked in harmony “You can’t make it, it’s too slippery. You’ll only fall.”

Finally, one determined, ambitious frog was up next. Before the village frogs were ready to croak, he was already climbing the pole, as he neared the top, the village frogs kept croaking discouragements louder and louder in perfect unison, but the determined frog kept going and going until he reached the top.

Everyone was amazed, and of course, they wanted to interview this Ambitious Frog.

But as they asked him questions, they noticed he was not responding no matter how loud, or how long they asked him.

The Ambitious Frog was deaf.

Often, life is full of discouragements. Perhaps not verbal, but they are manifested in the results of our actions, maybe it’s in grades, work performance, or in relationship.

But if we are set on a goal, we must never let anything discourage us no matter what. Most importantly, it is imperative to do your part of the race by doing things to the best of your abilities despite the croaking discouragements of peers, results, or authority.

Drown out the noise with the noise of the engine of the wonderful machine God has designed for you; these are your brain and hands. Keep doing.

Good News: You Are Not the Center of the Universe

                                  Good News: You Are Not the Center of the Universe

*Letter of advice to my children [nieces, nephew, and future children] in form of a Sonnet. 

Yours is a fragile soul dear child.

A fragment which you value above all else.

You have no regard for the things of the wild.

Until Love’s gone; all left are farewells.

Don’t you see your soul’s shadow is but a darkness?

Concealed in the universe in which you have harnessed.

The starless firmament of your soul is but an empty vacuum.

A Black Hole devoid of vivacious sights and dancing lights.

For you have let the dark shadow command in great volume.

Dear child, your soul is but a frightful night.

Open those eyes of yours and lighten that darkened soul.

For there are no grim gremlins nor ghouls most foul.

There is only the impenetrable stubbornness of will.

That fear conquers your heart – innocent and inculpable.

When it seems all these worldly things cannot fill,

Unlatch the windows of your soul to what is most valuable.

Carry not the universe into your soul for it exists in itself.

For the universe, even for your soul, is impossible to engulf.

Set free what must be free, and abandon consternation.

Be an observer, not the controller, for the universe must run its course.

Although you must stride with caution for a lifetime’s duration.

world-revolves-around-me

Me- Center of the universe

There is a larger, more powerful source of force,

Than your fragile soul dear child.

Cast your worries away; into triviality compiled.

The universe is vaster than the imaginings permit.

But it does not exist within your soul, but merely in part.

But such news should not crush your spirit,

For only relief it brings, to a weary soul impart.

No longer shall you bear the world upon those thin shoulders.

Look up! Tis no longer a burden to live; life no longer series of heavy boulders.

Let go of what once was, in humility acknowledge fallibility.

Thou art merely human, not God from whom all wonders flow.

Instead, refrain from control and succumb to vulnerability.

Instead, nourish the soul with kindness, and fertilize with meekness to grow.

For your soul is not the center of the universe,

But the universe lies within you, never the reverse.

The Envious Frog

March.01.15

I have been told numerous times by people that they envied me. This causes me to raise a brow because it puzzles me why anyone in the right mind would ever envy me as I have nothing worthy to brag about. In fact, if I may be blunt, envy is one of my weaknesses that started last year at this time of the year. I have always believed in hard work and focusing on my own goals, but this time last year, I started to envy a girl. She was very pretty, wealthy, had glamorous friends, and won the heart of the one person whom I loved most.

The envy became horrifyingly terrible that I started acting and dressing like how I thought she is, and I was shamefully

"Do I look like her now?"

“Do I look like her now?”

becoming overly obsessive. I painted my nails, bought a new wardrobe maxing out my student credit card, but I didn’t care. I am ashamed to say, I spent hours and hours just obsessing over this person, wasting my precious time trying to be someone else when I could have been improving myself intellectually, and perhaps my skin would have been smoother had I not stayed up too late obsessing, instead, I would have eye bags and break outs due to these late night obsessions!

I was intimidated by this person, and I put her upon a pedestal. I adored her, idolized even, yet hated her to the core without even talking to her or knowing her life story. I just knew she was perfect. I compared myself to an Instagram-filtered, made-up, perfect-haired, starbucks-drinkin’, mall-wanderin’, food-enthusiast, selfie-takin’, nail-polish-wearin’ stranger. How silly.

Yet, seeing her perfect life made me unhappy, and unable to cope with my broken, imperfect one. For many months, this went on, but something changed one day.

I was not happy with who I was becoming. I felt I have betrayed my old self – that idealistic, simple, person.  For one, I do not really like nail polish, I like wearing comfortable clothing, and I hate wearing make up. Shopping bores me, and I’d prefer to read a good book by myself than to concern myself over trivial girly tasks.

Envy is a deadly disease that is insidious, caused by an uncontrollable virus of negativity. But why waste your time on something that you cannot control. Sure, maybe I can throw acid on her face to make her ugly, but would that really make me feel better about myself? Probably worse.

WHY NOT: Begin to work on something productive and something of value not only to yourself but to the                                 people around?                      

                  Stop focusing on other’s strengths as this is completely useless and frustrating.

                   Focus on your strengths and accentuate it, and let your flaws fade out in light of your new found                            confidence in being the best in your specialty? 

Envy creates a false sense of entitlement. Why claim something that’s not yours in the first place, when you could claim your own strengths and ability and hone it from there rather than letting someone else’s success paralyze you until you can no longer function properly? Don’t let envy be the compass of your life.

 “Whatever quality you envy in someone else is reflecting back to you a part of yourself you have    denied. ‘If I envy someone’s looks, I am denying my own beauty. If I envy possession, I’m           denying my own abundance, my ability to create whatever I truly desire.'”

Start evaluating your own core values. For me, it was to work hard, be inquisitive, and continue to learn. Realize who you are, one in 7 billion, and count your blessings knowing you have the power to be an even better you if you so choose. If you want things, it’s up to you to get it.

Accept who you are in life; a driver of your own vehicle. You are not merely a window shopper, drooling outside a BMW store. Because it’s never merely about what you are given by God, whether you are prettier, smarter, wealthier, it’s about driving towards your dreams with what you are given and keeping your eyes on the road so that nothing will ever knock you off – not even envy or jealousy.

Envy and jealousy are powerless against people who are focused on their own journeys and those who do not wish to be on another road for they know that each road brings its own challenges and difficulties that are unique to each of us.

           *If there’s anything you can take from this entry, I hope it would be that if you are envious, don’t let envy ruin you, turn it to motivation, and emulation. Grab envy by the tail and turn it into gratitude; from focusing on what you lack into what you have. Wish the best on those you envy, and you’ll find that you, too, will be blessed. Be confident. 🙂

Truth or Lie – A Manifesto of My Faith

Truth hurts. Whenever a friend, who is incredibly honest shoots me with the arrow of truth, I could not help but cringe in pain. Of course I could not get mad at this friend because [they] are telling the truth. It has always been a goal of mine to be honest and be real, but sometimes I am guilty of cotton candy compliments.

Now, the Bible has some of the most hurtful truths. But many manipulate the Bible to fit their own desire. Let’s take for example Leviticus 11. It details all the animals that God does not want us to eat. Now, people could say, “hey that’s for the old testament, it doesn’t apply today.” Really? God made our bodies, shouldn’t He know what diet is good for us? Like a manufacturer of cars know which oil is most appropriate for the car. It was not a matter of life and death, but God knows what’s best for us.

What about the fourth commandment? (Exodus 20:8) “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy six days you shall work, but the seventh is for the Lord your God.” What is the seventh day? Look in your calendars, isn’t it Saturday? The Jewish people have been keeping this for millenniums, even Jesus kept it (Luke 4:16). Nowhere in the Bible has the Sabbath changed. Historically, it changed because of a Roman/Pagan emperor named Constantine wanting to integrate the Christians with the Pagans who worshiped the Sun god hence Sunday. Many say again, “That’s an outdated truth! Foul! Foul!”

If you love me keep my commandments. – John 14:15

Why is it so hard to follow the truth? Because truth hurts. That’s all we’ve ever known all our lives, and that’s all we’ll ever believe because some people would rather manipulate the Bible than to be proved wrong. 

I want to be proved wrong, because that means I am closer to the truth, but I will only believe when there is evidence in the Bible.

Just because humans have believed otherwise for many thousands of years, does not mean they are right.

Does God ever change? I don’t think so. As Christians, we take pride in our unchanging God.

I am not perfect in any way. Jesus, who came down on earth taught us to be humble from His examples.

I believe being humble is essential. We do not know everything, so why do we always insist we are right when the Bible says otherwise?

For me, if my childhood faith is proven wrong with sufficient evidence and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, I would rather obey Jesus than what my parents, pastor, or teachers say, because after all, our salvation does not depend on the authority but on our own.

So I urge you, whoever is reading this now, be a truth seeker. Do not be complacent in your faith. Search the Bible for yourself.

 And the truth, shall set you free.