Break the Pattern

I’ve been working on some work-life balance recently, and been experimenting on some things to become more productive. One of the things I’m trying out is outlining a schedule for myself every day, making a kind of general task list of when to do things. I forgot which article I’ve read some months ago (and couldn’t find it through Google), but measuring time seems to be one of the steps to a more productive lifestyle. Some of the things that I quickly become aware of are my habits or ‘patterns’. I just then have to decide if they are good patterns to keep, or a bad habit I need to change (likewise, coming up with habits that I decide I want to develop). What I didn’t immediately realize though, is how breaking patterns from time to time is also a refreshing change that can contribute to productivity (maybe) or just a more ‘balanced’ lifestyle.

It’s so easy to fall into habits, good or bad. Sometimes, even staying late in the office can become a habit. Things that are fun (and work can be fun) are easiest to get into, and I end up being blind-sided by forgetting that there are other things in life. This isn’t a novel idea, but just today it really occurred to me how refreshing breaking patterns can be. It can be a movie night with friends hastily scheduled, or buying lunch from a place I’ve never tried before, or even going to a meet-up that I don’t normally attend. Maybe even picking up a free class, or signing up for something I never imagined myself trying. Doing something different every once in a while could also force me out of my comfort zone unexpectedly, and I think these are things that contribute to Life Skills! It could also lead to seeing things in a different perspective; who knows?

I want to be more conscious of breaking patterns. To do things I probably won’t normally do. Let’s see where I go from here. :)

A brief look at 2014 and a late welcome to 2015

(After Victor published his blog post, I forced myself to finish writing this, too. Thanks Victor!! :P)

This post is a bit late, but I feel that 2014 deserves a dedicated post to help me recount where I am in life now; what my previous goals were for the last year, and what I have achieved.

2014 is a bit of a murky year. I moved jobs thrice, and I have failed and succeeded in different things. I moved out, but not only from my parents’ house, but also to a different (but familiar) country.

Continue readingA brief look at 2014 and a late welcome to 2015

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Nobody can intervene and make that right and nobody will. Nobody can take it back with silence or push it away with words. Nobody will protect you from your suffering. You can’t cry it away or eat it away or starve it away or walk it away or punch it away or even therapy it away. It’s just there, and you have to survive it. You have to endure it. You have to live through it and love it and move on and be better for it and run as far as you can in the direction of your best and happiest dreams across the bridge that was built by your own desire to heal.

Cheryl Strayed, “Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life From Dear Sugar”

I’m thinking, “I’m almost 23. I should be traveling the world.”

My family never really traveled. With one parent working, we just couldn’t afford it. Growing up, the farthest I got to was Puerto Galera (back when I was four years old and it was still pretty) and Baguio (around high school). I think my mom wanted to go to other places in the country, but she wasn’t a big planner. My dad’s well, I don’t want to explain. My brother travels around the country with his friends, but see, it’s because of his friends.

I’m pretty proud of the fact that the first time I traveled was because of a short scholarship stint in Singapore — I never really asked for more than what my mom initially gave me and from then I slowly started going to places: Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia (just Bintan). A year later: Thailand again, and I would want to go back again and again and again. Two years later: Cebu, Hong Kong, then Taiwan in a few days. Vietnam is lined up for next year, but I want to plan more trips with my friends. I want to keep doing this for the next few years. Not worry about the future too much and just travel, travel, travel. It’s great when you’re young and you can travel with people you love and you don’t have to worry about so many things. Since I didn’t grow up going anywhere the feelings are still new and I feel excited over the smallest details (just the bare idea of leaving!). 

It brings me away from home and from problems and leaving on a plane and landing on a different country, breathing foreign air and seeing exotic sights —

the world is better away from home. 

Sometimes I imagine myself with a job that’ll take me away for a few years (hopefully to Europe) and I’ll be leaving alone again and I’ll be independent the way I want to be — no family responsibilities, me in a new place with strangers and new people. Newness that never fails to fascinate me. 

Creatures of inclination

  1. No more freelance work after this.
  2. Focus on feeling better.

I don’t want any baggage when I go to Taipei at the end of the month.

I don’t want to crash and burn anymore, which has been happening lately.

Sometimes I believe we’re creatures inclined towards sadness.

On consumerism and tech waste

Before getting my own iPad, I saw how my boyfriend’s brother in-law used his for everything. They played podcasts at work with it, podcasts in the car, for drawings on SketchBook, among other things. And his was an iPad 2, which meant it seems like the device was worth the investment because of its quality and until now he hasn’t updated to the newer iPad. He had a PowerBook for around seven years before he replaced it with his 17″ MacBook Pro and it felt such an amazing feat for me (when I was thinking my beat-up 15″ MBP was too old after four years).

I got an iPad on June this year, mostly because I really needed to get used to the tablet experience for a freelance job. I’ve been enjoying it and learning a lot. Rumor has it that there’s going to be updated/newer iPads this year or next year and I’m not entirely jumping the upgrade boat unless I really need it.

Honestly, I’ve considered selling my current iPhone 4S to upgrade to iPhone 5 (let’s face it, the changes they made to the phone — even just the huge difference in weight — I thought was a pretty good perk upgrade, aside from the fact that I can convince myself that I needed the new phone as part of my job). The truth is? I don’t need to, really. Not when my contract isn’t over for another year and my own phone, as heavy as it is, is perfectly fine. I can study all the mobile UI that I want with a phone one generation (which sounds far older than what it means) behind. I’m just being convinced that I needed the best and the newest when whatever I have right now works for me just fine.

I see a lot of people jumping this upgrade-regardless-of-need bandwagon though. People have already sold their 4S phones for an iPhone 5 and more will jump that boat — for a range of reasons, and I won’t judge them. I just realize that I don’t really want to be part of that bandwagon unless I have valid reasons aside from aesthetic wants. Our generation’s consumer attitude is fairly scary. Coming from a university with privileged students, I have seen a lot of them own tech things that they don’t really need (i.e. MacBook Pro’s that they would mostly write papers and fill spreadsheets vs. multimedia work that maximizes the higher-end specs). I myself have sold some old phones to be replaced with the new but I always, always wonder what happens to the hundred, thousand other old phones that have been sold in Greenhills or second-hand somewhere, and where the older devices go, and the devices older than that. What happens to all these tech — waste, as I would think of it — when a number of people I know (and more in the richer countries) discard (or resell) devices less than a year old for sparkly, new ones?

How many people think of how this wave of consumerism and our demand for cheaper, premium technology affects laborers in China? Or how it affects our way of living, and how we budget our own expenses? I don’t want to be the type of person who lives in excess just because I can. I think there is a humbling lesson to be learned if I can live with what I actually need and not just with what I think I need.

If anything, that means I can splurge more on my travels. :P

“Enable me to see reality as it really is.”

One of my muslim friends shared this

Rasul Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wasallam) said: “Oh Ali, if two people come to ask you to judge between them, do not judge in favour of the first until you hear the word of the second in order that you may know how to judge.” [Ahmad, Abu Daud]

Humans are hasty by nature. We are quick to judge. A situation aggravates us and we rush to condemn without bothering to determine all the facts first. In our haste usually only one point of view is considered. This could happen in our households when children get into a fight. This also often happens when we hear things about people. We don’t stay out of things that do not concern us; then we do not bother to hear the other side of the story either. Thirdly, we also get easily influenced with one sided information broadcast at us through the media.

In short, we do exactly what Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) has forbidden, which is to make haste in passing judgment. Rasul Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) used to make dua begging Allah, “Enable me to see reality as it really is.”

I have been hurt (so much) by people like those who judge hastily. I am frightened by them, but even more terrified by people who lie very well. I know I’m not the only person being affected by this and I want to feel hopeful for all of us, that we’ll win all our battles in the end. But for now, we try to handle each inner conflict one by one. 

Charlie opened up to me and I realised: we have both experienced the same things, but differently. We have been hurt and trampled by the same woman, was disappointed by friends. But he has something I don’t, I’m not sure what. Maybe how he sees some things in life. Maybe he believes in things (and people) that I don’t. But he’s definitely the stronger person and I can only aspire to be more like him in more ways. I am very stubborn but Charlie is very constant. He is forgiving where I am not; maybe that is where our differences lie. I wonder how he has so much trust in people left. I guess some people are naturally good that way. 

It’s difficult (still is). The past — I am thankful my closest friends reacted the way I expected them to: with disbelief. It would have broken me more if they didn’t. I am thankful they were there always, always, always in loyalty and honesty and love. I value these things very highly in my relationships: responsibility, loyalty, righteousness, honesty, and justice. Even with things being so muddled for me, I am thankful for those people who had these virtues consistently that I could hang on to them when losing faith in everyone else. 

You guys know who you are. Thank you, and I love you. 

Is he my lebenslangerschicksalsschatz?

For anyone who’s watched the first episode of the current season of How I Met Your Mother, you’ll know what a Lebenslangerschicksalsschatz is.

Klaus: Lebenslangerschicksalsschatz is not something that develops over time. It is something that happens instantaneously. It courses through you like the water of a river after a storm, filling you and emptying you all at once. You feel it throughout your body, in your hands, in your heart, in your stomach, in your skin. Have you ever felt this way about someone?

If you take shows like HIMYM for gospel truth then you’re in for trouble. I feel that ‘love at first sight’, or whatever name you have for it, has been romanticized too much in so many Hollywood movies and other shows.

For all the men and women who love deeply and truly, Klaus’ lines may have a ring of truth in it. But that he says in the beginning: “Lebenslangerschicksalsschatz is not something that develops over time,” sets my point of disagreement.

To say that love, the truest and most sincere kind that fills and overflows you is something that happens suddenly in the beginning instead of developing over time is so contrary to my own experiences of love (romantic and of real friendship, as love has many forms) and of the growth that seems so natural for people in love. 

For me, Klaus’ definition of something that happens simultaneously is either infatuation or lust, or of parents towards their children. Obviously the show doesn’t refer to the latter. How much do you know a person’s being if you do not take time into consideration, as well as time needed to know that whatever it is you feel – love if you will – makes you and this other person grow? In real life, break-ups happen because something is wrong with the relationship (worst case scenarios include couples being toxic for each other, abuse, among other things. Deal-breakers include wanting/not wanting children, religion (sometimes), fundamental beliefs, etc.). You don’t stop marrying someone because oh, you suddenly don’t feel that he or she is The One or an ex-boyfriend comes to take you away because in those nine years that you haven’t seen each other you are absolutely sure that who he is now is the person you want to spend the rest of your life with. 

But perhaps there is a different angle for this, and I’m willing to consider that this might be a better interpretation of what Klaus meant. That after a while of dating somebody and getting to know that person, there may be doubt as to whether or not that person is The One.

Maybe for some people, they experience a ‘eureka’ moment. That something may trigger a sudden surge of feelings that you realize the importance of one person in your life – an outburst of joy at the thought of someone, a lightness of being at the company of somebody. But emotions as strong or passionate have to bank on memories and other feelings which can only be built through time. But the thing is, doubts are normal. It’s alright to be unsure at some points in a relationship because when would you be ever sure of a future that haven’t happened, really? There is doubt in faith and faith in doubt (as I’ve learned in one of my Theology classes). I have less inclination to believe that people who let themselves be swayed by passion without considering responsibilities and reason are experiencing true love. I have seen and experienced love that hurt (yourself, other people) when love is idealized into these instantaneous moments and it goes against what I believe true love is. 

It may be just a personal opinion but I believe that love that grows slowly like the oldest trees, taking root in the deepest soil is stronger than the river that flows after the storm.

Notes to self

Just because nobody publishes compliments about you or your work doesn’t mean you aren’t good too. So stop feeling insecure and instead be thankful for the amazing people you’ve met and look up to. The fact that they talk to you is encouraging enough already. You’re not so bad. :) 

That one whirlwind romance

I believe in the whirlwind romances, and not just because I’ve been in one. While a lot of people believe in approaching relationships with a lot of caution and with the safety-net of knowing a person for a much longer period of time, I don’t really believe in lessening risks (or having greater certainty) just because of time

I’ve taken (and heard of) a lot of things from other people: sound advice, words of caution from people who actually care, smarting ones from others who gossip — and while they were discouraging, I’m stubborn to a fault (sometimes doing things just to prove others wrong even when it’s not the best decision I’ve ever made) and stick to my principles like a bull. Despite everything, I stuck to my decisions and one of the few good decisions I’ve made in the past year was, still, having said “yes” when Charlie asked me: “would you want to go out on a date with me?” 

Reading about other people’s experiences of a quick but amazing romance that lasted years, reaching marriage and even going past that — they’re comforting for me. My relationship with Charlie is healthy and great for the most part, the only problem being my seasons of depression (which has nothing to do with him, but with a lot of people linked with him). Otherwise, I’d feel truly happy. 

I still wouldn’t know how well things will go in the future, but if I can keep my depression in-check to prevent it from messing this relationship up, I believe it can keep being as great and healthy as it is right now. I think it still amazes me and Charlie whenever we think of how perfectly we fit together. Yep, sometimes I just can’t believe it.