Open a gap for words. Create a space. Be patient

Why I read

It takes a village to raise a mother. 🙂 My latest post for Mothering Heights.

Today Anna asked me five why’s in quick succession. When I ran out of answers, I had to do the only quick survival tactic available to tired mothers: I pointed out the window and shouted, “Look!” (So what if every slapstick comedian does that? It worked this afternoon.)

One day Anna is going to ask us, why is the sky blue? My first thought is, “Because it doesn’t look good in red.” It might make her laugh, perhaps make her think out of the box, maybe exercise her imagination, but in the end it won’t help her much.

So this is what it also means to raise a mother—I have to read.

 The rest of the post is here.

Photo credit: Best Books

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The Truth, and Nothing But

May I share my latest post on my column, Mothering Heights.

There is a term for an answer too late in the coming. The French call it l’esprit de l’escalier—literally, “stairwell wit”—a comeback given too late, a retort thought of only after the moment had ended, perhaps when one is on the stairs, leaving the event that required the rejoinder.

Read the rest of the post here.

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Reasons for breathing

May I share my recent post on my column Mothering Heights.

I learn much from other mothers. I learn love and unselfishness from my sister, Naomi. I learn about creativity from Rhea. I learn about wellness from Richelle. I learn about defying the odds from Rachel Santos.

I visited Rachel in 2006 to interview he­r for Working Mom. She talked almost non-stop, with a mouth primed for laughing and eyes built for smiling. She had just finished her licensure exams for teaching, her dream job since she was a little girl. “I am just so excited to start teaching,” she said. “But who would hire me?” She pointed to her arm, “They’d look at this and think I tried to commit suicide.”

Her right forearm was pocked with needle marks, bruises, veins, and a noticeable bump on her wrist that vibrated when you laid a finger on it. It resembled a battlefield, for that was what it was, with scars of Rachel’s crusade for her life and that of her son’s.

Read the rest of the post here.

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Like magic

This is an excerpt from my fifth post on my column Mothering Heights.

A few nights ago, while I was journaling, I thought: Nothing remarkable happened to me today. But that’s the thing: nothing has to. Writing isn’t just about recording the fantastic; it’s recognizing that the very ordinariness of our days are worth writing about, are worth being grateful for. Each day is carved into its own space, separated from the gush of time—each day is sacred and each day’s delights are sanctified. What we do with that grace is our gift, but also our accountability.

Read the rest of the post here.

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It’s my second night away from home. Didn’t get to sleep much; I was namamahay.

An exact translation for the Filipino term namamahay escapes me; the term homesick doesn’t capture the traitorous way my body searches for familiar scents, for pillows shaped by our contours, for carlights playing on the ceiling, or for a bed that creaks when I turn to my right but not when I turn to my left.

Our home has carved itself on my body.

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Prayer before work

Alas, I have to work today, on a Sabbath. Borrowing words from Prayer before work:

When we pray for our work, what we lay our hands and hearts to do, we think about coming alive. We aspire to be in that place where we are fully alive, being everything that God has destined us to be.

May we not do work because we think we ought to. Rather, may we “come alive” and see where that leads us.

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Broken Road

May I share with you my fourth post for my column Mothering Heights.

“My husband and I would like to share our story, which was published in a lovely anthology, Against All Odds: Coincidence or Miracle? Volume IV, produced by Flor Gozon Tarriela and Butch Jimenez. It was one of the hardest stories I had to write, not because I didn’t know how to tell it, but because the road we’d traveled, from there to here, had been pockmarked with hope and despair. It was hard to relive the journey, and much harder not to break down in tears for how God had blessed the broken road that led us straight to our Anna. (Thank you, Rascall Flatts, for letting me borrow your words.)”

Read the rest of the post here.

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I practiced deep breathing today, in spite of.

My three-year-old, long bereft of my presence due to amassing work deadlines, asked me to join her as she watched A Bug’s Life, which she has renamed Ants. “Mommy, come,” she said, patting the space beside her. “No work, OK?” What she meant was would I please not bring my laptop and then appease her with distracted replies like “Uh huh” or “That’s great.” She needed me fully present and fully engaged.

So I watched Flick yet again, my arm around my daughter but my mind on the work set aside, so pressing that  I had to work on this Sabbath day. I tried not to feel guilty about not wanting to be there, which only added to the stress. The best way to use the downtime, I figured, was to do deep-breathing exercises, for which I had to set phone alarms and make little post-it reminders to do.

I inhaled, deeply, feeling the air as they journeyed to my heart and head. I focused on my breath, thankful for the life that flows in and out of me. I kept my eyes away from the screen and on to things that gave me pleasure: my daughter’s hand on my knee, her hair that needed trimming, so many books, family photographs, the light on the shelves, the khaki wall. Each time I released my breath, I released gratitude for a blessing given to me, many of which I did not deserve.

After the movie, my daughter kissed me and ran off to play. The world did not disintegrate while I was at play. I returned to work fully recharged and at peace.

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Fear not

I read somewhere that the Bible has 80 “do not fear” references and 4 “fear not” references. Here are a few of these verses:

Do Not Fear

After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not fear, Abram, I am a shield to you; Your reward shall be very great.” (Genesis 15:1, NASB)

And the LORD appeared to him the same night and said, “I am the God of your father Abraham; Do not fear, for I am with you. I will bless you, and multiply your descendants, For the sake of My servant Abraham.” (Genesis 26:24, NASB)

See, the LORD your God has placed the land before you; go up, take possession, as the LORD, the God of your fathers, has spoken to you. Do not fear or be dismayed. (Deuteronomy 1 :21, NASB)

Do not fear them, for the LORD your God is the one fighting for you. (Deuteronomy 3:22, NASB)

“And the LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear, or be dismayed.” (Deuteronomy 31:8, NASB)

And the LORD said to Joshua, “Do not fear them, for I have given them into your hands; not one of them shall stand before you.” (Joshua 10:8, NASB)

Joshua then said to them, “Do not fear or be dismayed! Be strong and courageous, for thus the LORD will do to all your enemies with whom you fight.” (Joshua 10:25, NASB)

So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” (2 Kings 6:16, NASB)

Then you shall prosper, if you are careful to observe the statutes and the ordinances which the LORD commanded Moses concerning Israel. Be strong and courageous, do not fear nor be dismayed. (1 Chronicles 22:13, NASB)

(A)nd he said, “Listen, all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: thus says the LORD to you, ‘Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but God’s.” (2 Chronicles 20:15, NASB)

‘You need not fight in this battle; station yourselves, stand and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out to face them, for the LORD is with you. (2 Chronicles 20:17, NASB)

Be strong and courageous, do not fear or be dismayed because of the king of Assyria, nor because of all the multitude which is with him; for the one with us is greater than the one with him. (2 Chronicles 32:7, NASB)

Though a host encamp against me, My heart will not fear; Though war arise against me, In spite of this I shall be confident. (Psalm 27:3, NASB)

Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea (Psalm 46:2, NASB)

He will not fear evil tidings; His heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD. (Psalm 112:7, NASB)

The LORD is for me; I will not fear; What can man do to me? (Psalm 118:6, NASB)

Get yourself up on a high mountain, O Zion, bearer of good news, Lift up your voice mightily, O Jerusalem, bearer of good news; Lift it up, do not fear. Say to the cities of Judah, “Here is your God!” (Isaiah 40:9, NASB)

Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you. Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10, NASB)

For I am the LORD your God, who upholds your right hand, Who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’ (Isaiah 41:13, NASB)

But now, thus says the LORD, your Creator, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine!” (Isaiah 43:1, NASB)

Do not fear, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, And gather you from the west. (Isaiah 43:5, NASB)

In righteousness you will be established; You will be far from oppression, for you will not fear; And from terror, for it will not come near you. (Isaiah 54:14, NASB)

‘Do you not fear Me?’ declares the LORD. ‘Do you not tremble in My presence? For I have placed the sand as a boundary for the sea, An eternal decree, so it cannot cross over it. Though the waves toss, yet they cannot prevail; Though they roar, yet they cannot cross over it.

“But as for you, O Jacob My servant, do not fear, Nor be dismayed, O Israel! For, see, I am going to save you from afar, And your descendants from the land of their captivity; And Jacob shall return and be undisturbed, And secure, with no one making him tremble. (Jeremiah 46:27, NASB)

Do not fear, O land, rejoice and be glad, For the LORD has done great things.( Joel 2:21, NASB)

Do not fear, beasts of the field, For the pastures of the wilderness have turned green, For the tree has borne its fruit, The fig tree and the vine have yielded in full. (Joel 2:22, NASB)

Therefore do not fear them, for there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known. (Matthew 10:26, NASB)

And do not fear those who kill the body, but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:28, NASB)

Therefore do not fear; you are of more value than many sparrows. (Matthew 10:31, NASB)

Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are of more value than many sparrows. (Luke 12:7, NASB)

Fear Not

Say to those with anxious heart, ‘Take courage, fear not. Behold, your God will come with vengeance; The recompense of God will come, But He will save you.’ (Isaiah 35:4, NASB)

Fear not, for you will not be put to shame; Neither feel humiliated, for you will not be disgraced; But you will forget the shame of your youth, And the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more. (Isaiah 54:4, NASB)

‘And fear not, O Jacob My servant,’ declares the LORD, ‘And do not be dismayed, O Israel; For behold, I will save you from afar, And your offspring from the land of their captivity. And Jacob shall return, and shall be quiet and at ease, and no one shall make him afraid. (Jeremiah 30:10, NASB


Attitude Problem

Photo credit: Mental Benefits of Exercise

My attitude towards exercise is not good. I don’t want to get off my lazy butt! I’m not very kinesthetic. I don’t enjoy working out. It takes a lot of mental gymnastics before I could move a muscle. I argue with myself. My brain is my staunchest, most obstinate critic.

What I like about WholyFit’s meditational exercises is that I don’t have to dress up. All I need is a comfortable tank top and sweats or Dry Fit bottoms. No need for a bra, shoes or socks. I reduce the effort it takes to prepare for workout, minimizing the squabble between body and brain. I don’t have to go out of the house; a mat and a video player are all I require. My brain has less ammunition.

It would be great if I didn’t have to be dragged kicking and screaming into a workout. For now, I echo Dorothy Parker, paraphrased: I don’t like exercising. But I love having exercised.

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