Monday, November 4, 2019

When I Die

My reflections during All Souls' Day. 

When I die, please do not assume that I'd gone to Heaven. Of course, I would love to be there eventually, but please do not assume that it will be a direct flight. Instead, please pray for the eternal repose of my soul.

If you are family, and the good Lord blesses me with grandchildren, please do not tell my apos (grandchildren) that Lola (Grandma) had gone to Heaven. Tell them to remember the times when Lola read them one storybook after another at bedtime, but she was the one who fell asleep instead. Tell them to treasure the nice things that Lola made for them - dainty hankies with bunnies sewn on them or maybe the floral beach shorts that she insisted they wear even when they had outgrown them. Remind them how much Lola loved them to tiny little pieces that she planted deep in her heart. After you have told them all that, tell them to pray for Lola's soul, that the good Lord may be merciful, forgive all of Lola's sins, and wash and wring her clean so that she can go marching to Heaven and be with God, Mama Mary, and all the saints. 

If you are a friend, please do me one last favor, and remember only the good times we had together. The letters we wrote each other and sent via snail mail, the miles we ran together, the Thursday afternoons we reserved for duckpin bowling, the living-in-a-strange-land tips we shared, and the protracted lunch dates we called "board meetings". Please forgive me for the times when I had been nasty and selfish because that was not the real me, right? Remember only the best version of me that you know, no matter that that version pales when compared to the regular versions of your other friends. Miss me sometimes because that would really flatter me, although I'm not sure if I would be capable of finding out whether you actually missed me or not. If you forget all that as you go on with life without your friend Marcia, fine. Just don't forget to pray for my soul to finally rest in the bosom of God's love. I'd really like that. 

When I die, there is nothing more that I'd want than to merit Heaven and an eternity with my Creator. Although I am trying to earn that while on earth, I will probably fall short. So please pray for my soul. Help me up the remaining steps to Heaven.

Friday, September 13, 2019

7 Quick Takes: Quotes from 7 Books That I Love

I will be linking this with Kelly's 7 Quick Takes at This Ain't the Lyceum.  

Some books you promptly forget after reading the last page. 
Some books you never forget because they have become part of you. 

"To live everyday as if it has been stolen from death, that is how I would like to live.
To feel the joy of life... To separate oneself from the burden, the angst, the anguish
that we all encounter everyday.
To say that I am alive, I am wonderful, I am, I am. That is something to aspire to."

"...she continued her journey elsewhere, 
high in the firmament where soul material gathers 
and plays out all the dreams and joys 
of which we temporal beings can barely conceive, 
all the things that are beyond our comprehension,
but even so, are not beyond our attainment if we choose to attain them,
and believe that we truly can."

"Housekeeping is an art: it combines intuition and physical skill 
to create comfort, health, beauty, order, and safety. 
It is also a science, a body of knowledge that helps us 
seek those goals and values wisely, efficiently, humanely."

"The act of taking care of our homes 
brings comfort and consolation of the fruits of our labor 
and in the increasingly rare freedom to engage in worthwhile, unalienated, honorable work."

"Finally, the essential remedy is perseverance, in Greek hypomone, which is a very active thing.
It is an appeal, an increase of fidelity. 
When you are in a tunnel and you see nothing at all, it is advisable to remain near the handrail;
otherwise, without noticing it, you will wander off and get turned around.
The handrail is fidelity to one's routine, fidelity to one's rule of life."

"The princess thought about what Prince Romance had said. 
It sounded very interesting and exciting, but the wise princess knew
that honeymoons and wonderful feelings could not last forever."

"The man dressed in farmers' clothes and did not look like the suitors who had come to call.
Strong and handsome, his hands were rough from working in the king's fields,
and his face was tanned from the sun...
...he seemed common - yet kindness was in his manner."

"The Princess and the Kiss" is actually my favorite children's book.
I wrote about it here.

"Some of us think that when we have power, we shall revenge ourselves
on the white man who has had power,
and because our desire is corrupt, we are corrupted, and the power has no heart in it...
...There is only one thing that has power completely, and that is love.
Because when a man loves, he seeks no power, and therefore he has power."

"I have one great fear in my heart, that one day when they are turned to loving, 
they will find that we are turned to hating."

"The people who work on the land are more likely to eat well at noon and sparingly in the evening,
a habit that is healthy and sensible and, for us, quite impossible.
We have found that there is nothing like a good lunch to give us an appetite for dinner.
It's alarming. It must have something to do 
with the novelty of living in the middle of such an abundance of good things to eat,
and among men and women whose interest in food verges on obsession."

"In the half-light the Pine Trees looked cold and lonely, 
as the Very Deep Pit seemed deeper than it was,
and Pooh's jar of honey at the bottom was something mysterious, shape and no more.
But as he got nearer to it, his nose told him that it was indeed honey,
and his tongue came out and began to polish up his mouth, ready for it."

"'There's Pooh,', he [Piglet] thought to himself. 
'Pooh hasn't much Brain, but he never comes to any harm.
He does silly things, and they turn out right.'"

from Milne. A.A., 1926. Winnie-the-Pooh. Dell Publishing Co., Inc., New York.

Have a happy, productive, and restful weekend! Happy reading!

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Docking My Ship for Good

There used to be four of them. We straggled off to an entirely new way of learning and growing. It is called homeschooling, and with the exception of my sister's family, we did not know other people who did it. It was a journey, for sure, as all family undertakings are, as the very act of raising a family is. But it felt like sailing with only your guts for a compass. You hoped that one day you will have a sighting of other ships, but you never became part of that elusive fleet.

Weeks progressed to quarters, quarters to semesters, and semesters to years. It felt like I barely blinked, and it was time for Eldest Daughter to attend university. I reluctantly let go of Only Son and sent him to a "regular" school for high school. After a few more blinks, Second Daughter packed her provisions for the college dorm. By this time, Only Son was also done with high school, and settled into his college dorm, too. Their journey with me was over. Each time, it felt like anchoring to a harbor just long enough to leave them there, to send them off, because they have to build their own ships and embark on their own journeys. By themselves. Without me.

These days, Youngest Daughter and I sit together and study in the dining table that used to be crowded and sometimes unavailable for dining. Today, there is enough space for both of us and all her books, even a printer. Soon I will have to let my anchor down again and send her off to her own journey. She will be by herself. Without me.

Then it will be time for me to dock my ship for good and watch their ships from afar.

Oh, dear God, did I do right by them? Did I teach them well and enough? Will they measure up to their classmates, co-workers, and contemporaries? Will they be good Christians in a world where authentic Christians are not hip? Will they be scared? Will they be brave enough? Should have I tried harder? Should have I been more loving and less distant? More patient and less exacting?

I have to let go, Lord. I knew from the beginning that this day would come. It scares me that I cannot be with them all the time. They may not even seek my counsel. But You, Lord, You can always be with them. You are always with them. Please fill in the gaps created by my shortcomings. Please toughen the sails of their ships especially when the wind blows cruelly in their direction, and strengthen their vessels when the waves threaten to devour them. Be at the helm, Lord, and do not let them steer away from your course.

And at some point in their journey, Lord, when they think of me, may they be kind enough to forgive me, think just a wee bit better of me, and maybe briefly anchor their ships to where their mother awaits.

Monday, August 12, 2019

What Now, Baby?

The day Husband brought home Eldest Daughter and me from the hospital, I sat on the sofa for a long time, holding my firstborn in my arms and wondering what on earth I was supposed to do with her. Not that she was not welcome in our lives, for she was. We wanted her from day one of our marriage and knew what she would be called long before she was born.

Still there was this baby in my arms, and did I say that I did not know what to do with her?

Fast forward by leaps and bounds to today. That baby is now 27 years old, a professional, and is very much on her own. Three more children were born after her. Two are in college, and the youngest is in high school. Now, I'm not going to ask where the years went or feign surprise that they have grown so quickly. (I've done that on Facebook.) Instead, let me tell you how they answered the question that I asked each one of them - in an intensity that did not decrease as one baby followed another - as I held them as newborns in my arms: what now, baby?

First, you feed me, each one of them said. I don't care what you read in your carefully chosen parenting book or what you learned in that parenting class, but you will have to feed me on demand. I am too young to structure my life on anything else but one of man's most basic need - food. Now, if I happen to demand to be fed at two o'clock in the morning, sorry, lady, but I run the show.

Next, you change my diapers, bathe me, and soothe me to sleep. If you're lucky, I may decide to sleep on my own and awaken only after you have taken a shower, stuffed a sandwich down your tummy, and gulped your decaf. At other times, I will be clingy. You put me down and I will bawl my head and your head off. No offense, just colic. What? The hubby's not much help? Hmm, that's between the two of you. Just remember that he has to be at work early tomorrow, while you can doze off with me while I take my morning nap.

Pretty soon, you will be congratulating yourself because I will be sleeping the whole night, and by extension, so will you. Go bask. When I begin crawling, standing, then walking, your agility and endurance will be put to the test. And as I crawl then stand then walk, I will be grabbing and dropping some things along the way. I say put away the precious figurine you received as a wedding gift. Now. You've been warned.

Then you send me to school. Wow, three to four hours a day (excluding weekends) without me! And more in a few years' time! Oh, the many things you can do during that time! The house will finally be in order and smelling fresh! Okay, go have your Martha Stewart dwelling. You earned it. Remember though, that I will only be in school for so many hours a day. In the mornings and when I come home, I will be the hurricane that the weather forecast missed.

But. You will miss me, Mom. You will feel guilty that you ever counted the days to the first week of school. And you will worry. Yes, you will fret, and you will worry. Then you will fret again and worry again. Do I have enough food in my lunch bag? Did you forget to sharpen my pencils? Will my penmanship be just as good as my classmates'? Will I hold up when it is time for speed drills in math? Will I be bullied or will I be the one eager to pick up a fight? Will I mind my manners?

Oh, by the way, it will not always be just you and me. I'm just the first of the little monsters your own mom warned you about. Take heart; you have heard of multi-tasking, haven't you? Yes, yes, it is overrated and is actually an inefficient way of completing tasks, but who said anything about efficiency? You will just want to get things done.

Soon enough, you will stand by me as I wobble through college. The joys and heartaches of college entrance exams, exorbitant tuition fees, the  multitude of dorm provisions - those are nerve wracking, but they are the easy parts. More questions. Will I eat well? Will I remember to do my laundry and clean the room before my roommate insists that I be thrown out? Will I remember what you taught me about not talking to strangers? Will I choose my company well? Will I be tempted to join THOSE crowds and THOSE parties? Much as college should be one big intellectual endeavor, your worries will be non-academic.

When I finally sail off to the world, not saying when I will return, you will worry about me still, no matter that legally, I will be an adult. You will ask yourself if you prepared me well for life. Can I be truly independent? Have I grown to a well-adjusted individual who is capable of making sound contributions to the lives of the people around me? Will I earn enough to be able to fend for myself? When the time comes, and I have my own family... oh, let's not even go there.

There. Finally. That was the very long answer to the simple three-word question, "What now, baby?".

Back to the present. This is me now. The mom who asked the question. Am I sorry that I even asked? Sometimes. Did I tick off all the tasks in that extensive checklist? Not all, but most. Did I do each task well? I tried. I really did. Do I deserve a pat on the back? Maybe a heartfelt peck on my wrinkled forehead? I'd appreciate that. Years from now when they are minding their own families, will my children remember me and perhaps say, "That woman was fussy and cranky and overbearing, but boy, she was something."? Hmm, something? That's it? Something? Okay, I'll take it.  

Friday, August 9, 2019

7 Quick Takes: My Thoughts on Minimalism

I will be linking this with Kelly's 7 Quick Takes at This Ain't the Lyceum.  

Image courtesy of galzpaka

1. The most attractive come-on of minimalism for me is being able to do more by having less. A most sound paradox indeed. When we deliberately reduce our physical "stuff", we tend to shed as well our mental and emotional baggage. This leaves us with fewer distractions, more positive energy, and stronger resolve to focus on what matters.

2.  A minimalist lifestyle is way of thanking God for the abundance of His blessings. The Lord is not very demanding. He just wants us to be good stewards of our material blessings. Part of good stewardship is acquiring only that which is essential and taking good care of them so that they can serve the purpose for which they have been created/manufactured/assembled for the longest time possible. That is gratitude.

3.  Minimalism is an offshoot of the virtue of prudence. Prudence grants us the ability to use our mental faculties, reason logically, and make sound judgments towards a fitting goal. These are also the requirements for mustering the resolve to start and sustain minimalist habits.

4. Minimalism cultivates generosity. Because a minimalist has the proper appreciation for the intrinsic value of possessions, he also understands how the practical uses of those possessions can enrich the lives not only of their owners but also of other people. Knowing thus, I believe that it is natural for a minimalist to want the same good things for the people around him, his family, his community, and humanity at large. That is the seed of generosity.

5. If you want to finally organize your belongings, time, and activities, try being a minimalist. For the simple reason that it is easier to deal with fewer items and to provide a structure and a system for their upkeep and use. And consider this: is it not true for both the material and the non-material?

6. Minimalism is not an extreme condition. An objective of minimalism is to enhance life, not to needlessly suppress it. If your circumstances require a La-Z-Boy and you have the means to acquire one, go buy one in your favorite color! If fresh flowers make you happy and productive, go plant or buy some for your home office!

7. Am I a minimalist? Not yet. But I hope to be. It may take me years to get there - after all, how can you instantaneously discard the hoard of many years - but I'll get there. I'm taking my family along with me, too.

Head over to Kelly's blog for more 7 Quick Takes. See you there!

Have a happy, productive, and restful weekend!

Saturday, August 3, 2019

7 Quick Takes: This and That but Mostly That

I will be linking this with Kelly's 7 Quick Takes at This Ain't the Lyceum

Image courtesy of sritangphoto at

1. I like it when it's raining. Not drizzling or raging, just raining. Medium-sized drops falling happily without scaring us creatures below. I especially like to wake up in mornings when it's raining that way. I guess most people would want to stay in bed longer but not me! This kind of rain calls for hot, hot tea, so I jump from my bed and put the kettle on.

2. When you have nearly emptied the laundry hamper, and the washing machine has gone silent, chances are you have a mountain of clothes waiting to be folded or ironed. Yup. If it's not one way, it's the other. Ah, but the sight of neatly folded clothes on the shelves and the hubby's newly ironed office clothes in the closet...

3. The adage is that healthy meals don't just happen. You betcha! It starts with careful planning and prudent shopping. The most challenging part is sticking to your planned menu meal after meal, day after day. Since most healthy meals are cooked from scratch to avoid overly processed food and to ensure proper cooking methods (because you cooked the meal yourself), time can pose a problem. For me, the lack of time is the biggest threat to my resolve at healthy cooking. A housewife has other chores beside cooking, and fitting all of them in one's day is like packing a baby's provisions for a long trip in your one and only handbag!

4. During your mom musings, do you sometimes panic as you wonder if you have brought up your kids properly? Will they be able to survive on their own, cook their own meals, mind their own laundry? Will they know how to act with decorum during formal occasions (or at all occasions!)? Will they be able to handle tough interpersonal relations and politics in the office? Will they be good spouses, doting parents, and responsible citizens? Sometimes, I do panic as I consider these questions. It's strange and ironic, but best efforts can seem to be dead ends. Nothing more can be done after rendering them. Ah, but one can continue praying, and seen that way, yes, a parent's work is happily never done.

5. I miss brushing my nose against the cheek of a newborn baby and taking in all the goodness of God's gift of life. It's been a while. The next sweet-smelling baby will have to be a grandchild!

6. Do you have a capsule wardrobe? I do now. It took a while, but it's there in three drawers of my dresser (except shoes, bags, and seasonal wear). Yesterday, I shopped for a white blouse that I will be wearing for an event that I had been invited to, and I was proud of myself for sticking to my resolve to buy just that. Yup, sometimes I do things right.

7. And sometimes, things are just so out of your control that you just have to do what you can using whatever you have at hand. Like water service interruptions and slow moving car repair shops.

Head over to Kelly's blog for more 7 Quick Takes. See you there!

Have a happy, productive, and restful weekend!

Friday, July 26, 2019

7 Quick Takes: Chronologically

I will be linking this with Kelly's 7 Quick Takes at This Ain't the Lyceum

Ready for binding
1. SaturdayI am officially a print, versus a digital, person. Hard copy person, not soft copy person. We started our school year over a month ago, and to see if we can transition to a less paper-based system, I tried using the digital copies of my daughter's homeschool course plans. I. Gave. Up. I finally printed and collated the whole lot and prepared individual course plans for ring binding. Thanks to Microsoft Windows (TM) we can have many files simultaneously available while are working, but I can only switch windows, view multiple (small) pages, and un-synchronously scroll so many times before I lose my patience. Better luck next year.

2. Sunday. A little girl received her First Holy Communion during Mass today. How nice to have a sizable chunk of the parish community attend one's milestone in faith. People you do not necessarily know but share a religious bond with are there, happy for you and your family, and wishing you blessings as you embark on greater maturity in the Catholic faith.

3. Monday. For reasons that I don't have to explain or illustrate, I dread Mondays. The Monday Monster hit early today, exactly as I sat down to start a homeschool day with Youngest Daughter. Second Daughter, that one packing for the dorm at the last minute, asked me for a copy of her birth certificate. Now, if you are Martha Stewart or Alejandra Costello or Marie Kondo, you will have the document available in seconds. But I am not any of the three, so tough luck for my daughter.

Sometimes I get it right. Yup.
4. Tuesday. Honestly, I am writing this on a Friday, and I can't remember what preoccupied me on this day.

5. Wednesday. Part 2 of the birth certificate snafu. Knowing that it may take me days to retrieve my daughter's document, I immediately ordered a copy online. Well, well, well, it arrived today, just in time for the deadline. This is why one's home (mine definitely included) becomes insurmountably cluttered. We (use the first person plural every time you have to own up to a blunder) don't organize our possessions, we end up with a cluttered house, we can't find things that we need them, we buy replacements instead even if we know that there is one exactly like it somewhere in the mess, we resolve that we'll get to organizing our houses, ourselves, and what not... you know the routine. Someday, someday.

Our Lady of Guadalupe,
Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral
6. Thursday. I met a group of lovely and prayerful ladies today. They gather to attend the Holy Mass, pray, and break bread regularly. The bond that holds them together is our Lord and His Blessed Mother. These ladies are such a down-to-earth, sincere, and cheerful lot, and their company definitely blessed and inspired me. Have you ever felt so overwhelmed with your responsibilities, so tired of trying, and yet results are not forthcoming? That is how I've been feeling recently. These ladies reminded me of what a Hail Mary try really means, though, and I think I'm up to it.

7. Friday. How do you avoid a crazy week? By starting to prepare for the following week this week. Like starting the Friday before. Like today. Kinda like working backwards. The idea is to achieve a close-to-ideal household situation by Saturday evening (because you have to rest on Sundays), thus intimidating and driving away the Monday Monster. I'll see how it works and update you next week.

Start by doing what is necessary,
then what is possible,
and suddenly you are doing the impossible.

~ Saint Francis of Assisi

How do you prepare your household and family for the following week? How do you dodge the Monday Monster?

Head over to Kelly's blog for more 7 Quick Takes. See you there!

Have a happy, productive, and restful weekend!