r u lost, bbgurl?

You’re not lost, you’re right where you’re supposed to be!

This is still the same blog you used to read, but I’m glad to tell you that I have a new home, and you are very much welcome to pay me a visit!

www.MartsValenzuela.com

I will focus all my “writing energies” there, and if you’re into blogs that have something to do with personal development, Christian living, and ministry sprinkled with inspiration and encouragement, by all means be my guest! I am a Christian writer from the Philippines, with the goal of sending messages of hope and life to my readers.

If you are looking for quick tips and hacks for your time, goal-setting, journaling, finances, productivity, and everything in between, I can be of help.

If you are looking for instructions from the Bible about making life choices, relationships, growing deeper into the Word, making the most out of your Christian life, this can a stop-over.

If you are looking for ministry-related blogs and ideas, as well as learn from my personal journey, let me share my thoughts.

www.MartsValenzuela.com

I’ll wait for you!

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Here are the Reasons Why Your Goals are not Doing You Any Good

Every time the earth completes its revolution, we celebrate with fireworks, loud noises and greetings from our friends and loved ones. We welcome another chapter, as we poetically say. We change calendars, we try to change outlooks, we want to be better.

We make resolutions.

But after a few days, we are back to our old selves, feeling defeated. Soon, we give up on our goals.

Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash

Why is this so? What’s wrong with wanting to be “physically fit” or “be more productive” or “be more financially stable?”

There’s nothing wrong. Whatever our resolutions are, they are all good. However, your goals might lack the following:

It is not written

If you are serious in achieving your goals, write it down.

“A goal that is not in writing is like cigarette smoke: It drifts away and disappears. It is vague and insubstantial. It has no force, effect, or power. But a written goal becomes something that you can see, touch, read, and modify if necessary.”

Brian Tracy

An unwritten goal is just a wish. There is power in writing down your thoughts on paper. Putting your thoughts into paper (or digital notebooks) gives us visual reminders that we have a plan that needs completion, a destination to go to, and a purpose to fulfill. Written goals motivates and energizes.

Failure to write your goals down – no matter how simple or silly, elaborate or impossible it looks like, only means that you are not sold out with your goals to begin with; that it doesn’t matter to you if you achieve it or not.

If your goals are not yet in paper, write it down – NOW.

It is not about YOU (but about others)

Sometimes we make goals because we are triggered with what we see in others, especially in social media. We see our friends travelling, we put luxurious travel in our bucket list. We see them getting married, we pursue #RelationshipGoals as if our life depends on it. We see them as if they “have it all figured out”, we jump into whatever wagon they are into.

Be reminded that not everything we see in social media is real. As Craig Groeschel puts it, “We compare our behind-the-scenes with other people’s highlight reels.”

Don’t chart your life based on what you see in others. Chart your life the way God wants it to be. You are born original. Don’t settle with being a copy. Make sure that your goals in life are not measured and pressured by what society dictates, but what you really want to achieve and God’s purpose for you.

Evaluate your goals. Is it really what you want, or a goal fueled by the desire to be like others?

It is not SMART enough

Probably you have heard it before. SMART means Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound. In case this is the first time you have encountered this acronym, here it goes:

S – Your goals should be clear and highly-specific. Don’t leave gray areas. You don’t say “I want to save”, save how much? “I want to save 50k”

M – You need to be able to accurately track your progress. So if you want to save 50k, because of its monetary value, you can easily measure if you are anywhere near your goal.

A – Your goals must not be impossible. Unless you are a multi-millionaire or is getting married to one, don’t aim for 15 Billion in just a few months. Make sure your goals are attainable according to your context.

R –  Your goals must benefit you or those whom you care directly. Is saving 50k relevant to you? I believe so. Otherwise, make sure it is.

T – Your goals must be within a time frame. Deadline makes a goal manageable. It keeps you focused and motivated. They say goals are dreams with deadlines. So if you want to save 50k, do it within six months? One year?

Having SMART goals is a smart move. Without a clear, quantifiable goal, achieving success would be challenging. SMART goals doesn’t complicate your goals. It fine tunes it so it becomes more meaningful. To follow through on our example:

“In six months time(T), I should be able to save Php 50k(S, M) from my salary and side hustles(A) that I can use for computer upgrade(R).”

Are your goals SMART enough? If not, do the necessary tweaks.

It is not followed through

Organizations evaluate their goals periodically to make sure that their objectives are met and necessary adjustments are implemented. There’s an obvious reason for this: “you can’t expect what you don’t inspect”.

You must revisit your goals from time to time. Monitor your progress. If you’re distracted, get back on track. If you feel lost, reorient yourself. The reason why most resolutions don’t make it until the following month is because they lack follow through.

If along the way you see yourself “swallowing more than what you can chew”, don’t dump your goals at once. Consider breaking it down into smaller chunks. Perhaps your goals became too overwhelming because of circumstances beyond your control, then adjust your goals to suit your current realities.

“I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.” 

Jimmy Dean

Are you following through with your goals?

It is not birthed with commitment

Half-baked commitments is paradoxical. When you say you commit to something, you must work for it, fight for it, and make sure it happens – come what may. Commitment speaks volume about ourselves: how serious are we? How persistent are we? Can we really deliver?

No matter how awesome or carefully crafted our goals are, without committing to it, they are useless. Year after year, countless resolutions never make it until December because of one culprit – failure to commit. But those who are committed enough to persevere are richly rewarded.

“Obstacles can’t stop you. Problems can’t stop you. Most of all, other people can’t stop you. Only you can stop you.”

Jeffrey Gitomer

Focus on the finish line. Reach towards the prize. Commit to your goals 100% – no exceptions. Don’t let complacency or unjustified excuses get the best of you. If your goals are important to you, fight for it.

Are you ready and willing to commit to your goals?

It is not communicated well

When goals are communicated to others, it produces two results:

First: you become accountable to people you shared your goals with. It motivates you to work hard because people are waiting and expecting you to fulfill it. When you communicate your goals to others, it pushes you to do your best because you know all eyes are on you.

Second: you gained yourself cheerleaders and detractors. Both are useful because they will help you see areas of your goals that you might not notice yourself. You just have to be careful with their insights.

Communicating your goals doesn’t mean you broadcast everything for public consumption. Just select a trusted few and some relatives. Their inputs, positive or negative will help you refine your goals until it is fully realized.

Without counsel plans fail,
  but with many advisers they succeed.
Proverbs 15:22

Don’t keep your goals to yourself. Allow some trusted people to check up on you, help you, cheer you up and celebrate with you whenever you reach milestones on your goals.

Do you have trusted few to share your goals with?

It is not prayed for

Perhaps you have made all the things mentioned above, but still your goals aren’t doing you any good. You still feel lost and confused. You wander around your goals, clueless. I have a suggestion: pray for your goals.

The heart of man plans his way,    
  but the Lord establishes his steps. 
Proverbs 16:9 

Let the Lord guide your steps. Perhaps you’ve been very meticulous with your plans (or the opposite, very lax and complacent) that you forget that God leads and guides. Consider this verse:

The steps of a man are established by the Lord,
  when he delights in his way;
though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong,
  for the Lord upholds his hand.
Psalm 37:23-24

We can make all plans all we want, and monitor our progress all year round, but when our plans and goals are not in alignment with the Lord, we will struggle. We need to acknowledge that at the end of the day, it is not always about us. Let Him direct your paths. Include Him in your goal-setting. Let Him help you in achieving your dreams. He is your enabler, and He is rooting for you!

Have you prayed for your goals yet?

There you have it! Seven reasons why your goals are not doing you any good. Should you have some additions to this list, feel free to comment down below.

Together, let’s reach our goals!

How to Get Back on Track

When was the last time you found yourself lost in a certain place? Getting lost in unfamiliar territory is both a scary and challenging thought. Scary because you’ll never know what lies ahead, and nothing is more frightening than the unknown. Moreover, challenging because you’ll discover more of yourself and more of the world around you. It is like opening a new door of opportunity of learning and maturing in life.

But what if getting lost leaves you in a desperate state of helplessness and you can’t seem to find yourself out? What if after all the good intentions to get to your destination you ended up lost in the middle of nowhere?

As you journey towards your purpose in life, there will be times when you find yourself losing focus and losing your way. You are not getting any nearer towards your goal. When this happens, consider these as your spiritual guide to get you back on track:

Evaluate your situation

“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.” Psalm 139:23

Acknowledge your situation. Be honest about yourself and to yourself. Personally, there are times when it is obvious that I need help from people around me but I choose to remain silent because I don’t want to be seen as helpless and vulnerable. Obviously, this is pride. When you are lost, you are lost; when you need help, you need help. It doesn’t make you less of a person.

Personally, there are times when it is obvious that I need help from people around me but I choose to remain silent because I don’t want to be seen as helpless and vulnerable. Obviously, this is pride. When you are lost, you are lost; when you need help, you need help. It doesn’t make you less of a person.

When you find yourself lost and in utter helplessness, look within yourself. Evaluate your situation in a truthful manner. Don’t allow pride to lead the way or else you will be left without help. There will be people around who are willing to help and guide you for you to get back on track – don’t hesitate to receive help. Fulfilling your life’s purposes doesn’t have to be a one-man journey, it can be a community project.

Moreover, as you evaluate your situation, allow God to search your heart and deepest emotions. Allow Him to check where did all went wrong and which of the decisions you made in the past led you into the wrong path you are taking now. Let Him make you halt for a moment, evaluate your thoughts and decisions, rest for a while and be your compass to lead you right.

Go back to the Source

“It is God who arms me with strength, and makes my way perfect”. Psalm 18:32

Sometimes, it is easier to go back to where you started than to continue walking towards uncertainty. Never hesitate to go back from where you started. It will spare you from lots of wasted opportunities and resources.

Likewise, as soon as you have acknowledged your situation and have made a complete stop, find strength in the Lord. Go back to the ultimate source of your passion and purpose. Remember that our purpose in life comes from Him and him alone, so the timing and the strength and wisdom to carry through will come from Him. He is the power source so plug yourself in Him. He is the power source so go back to Him to recharge yourself with determination to be energized in your life’s journey.

Some people, as they go through life, often forget that God is and must be involved in their life’s journey. God is left in the sidelines and the will to move forward becomes centered only towards self-fulfillment and self-glory. This is the reason why purposes are derailed, people lose focus and determinations are sapped.

Go back to the Source.

Take one step at a time

“A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

As you get pumped up with your renewed energy, don’t rush in! Learn from your past mistakes and be careful in making your decisions. Remember that life is not a race you need to compete with, but a journey to enjoy and learn from. Take little steps if needed. Take strides when necessary – what matters is you take life seriously and by faith. You don’t have to test the depths of the water with both feet.

Remember that life is not a race you need to compete with, but a journey to enjoy and learn from. Take little steps if needed. Take strides when necessary – what matters is you take life seriously and by faith. You don’t have to test the depths of the water with both feet.

Allow the Lord to direct your steps. Allow the Lord to direct your decisions. Your purposes life has to be shaped and directed by His pacing and by His timing. He wants the best for you, He wants you to learn from Him. So trust His timing, take one step at a time.

When things go wrong, you don’t have to be discouraged. Our life’s purpose remains and is not dependent upon our present circumstances, but about God himself – the author and our purpose-giver. So when you can’t find yourself in the middle of your journey, take a pause: evaluate your situation, go back to the Source and take one step at a time.

Photo by Austris Augusts on Unsplash

New Year. New You.

It’s New Year once again. It’s time for resolutions that will run only for only a couple of weeks. Ordinarily, these are the times when strong-willed men and women will begin to flock at the gyms and sports centers carrying their hashtags #OplanBalikAlindog and #NewYearNewMe. Of course, we need to “shake off” the extra pounds we gained after the holidays. But since COVID-19 is still a threat, either we postpone our fitness goals for a while, or be creative with our fitness routines.

New year also calls for new plans, (and new planners!). For me, I’ll just reuse my slightly used, undated planner, for obvious reasons – I spent most of the year at home and online.

But seriously, what’s new? We’re still subject to weird weather disturbances unless the world takes the fight against climate change seriously. Corrupt politicians are still wasting our hard earned taxes unless someone will take the helm of fighting corruption seriously. The carmageddon in EDSA and other major thoroughfares is not expected to be addressed urgently, unless all commuters shift to bike instead. Even Coco Martin’s “Ang Probinsyano” shows no sign of ending its story any time soon.

We’re just changing our calendars, but really nothing is new.

Unless we do. Unless we intentionally do.

As we grow older, New Year becomes more meaningful not just for celebrations but as life markers. What lessons have we learned? What changes have we implemented? Are we becoming better? New Year serve as reminder that we only have two options in life – to dwell in the past or to move forward. It gives us hope and brand new opportunities to correct our mistakes and learn from it. But it also gives us free will to sulk and live in the glory of the good ‘ol days. It is always ours to decide.

This New Year, what intentional actions are you planning to do?

It doesn’t matter whether it takes us longer or others have it better. As long as we’re making progress, we’re good to go. Forget the fact that others are making strides while we are only taking baby steps. Life is not a race, but a marathon. Focus on your own race. Let the success of others serve as an encouragement.

Time flies too fast. Don’t let it be wasted. You are not the same person 3-5 years ago. Don’t be the same person you were 3-5 years ago. May this year be your jumpstart to a wonderful journey ahead.

Let’s make this new year count!

Photo by Danil Aksenov on Unsplash

What Does It Mean to be Gentle

I had a classmate who talks very gently. Her voice is soothing and sounds like a lullaby. Whenever she talks in front of the class, everyone seems to be attentive because of the manner of her speaking. Not to sound stereotypical but she is an Ilongga, and Filipino culture say it is one of the reasons for her sweet-soft voice.  

Some of the instances we use the word gentleness is when we refer to a person’s manner of speaking, or the way one moves. Men of culture are expected to be gentlemen. But in derogatory circles, those who are effeminate are regarded as unmanly. Harsh words and rash actions are considered ungentle responses.  

But what does it really mean to be gentle?  

Gentleness is a fruit of the Spirit 

Gentleness is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit, as mentioned in Galatians 5. As Christians, we must exhibit gentleness in the way we speak and act. Brutality and harshness has no room in the Body of Christ. But just like a real fruit, it might take time to develop.  

I personally know many who struggles with being gentle. Their words offend people, albeit unintentional. They hide under the guise of being frank and truthful. But harsh words, when spoken, can never be taken back. It cuts like a blade. It pierces the emotions.  

Paul reminds the Philippians, “let your gentleness be evident to all” (Philippians 4:5). It has an imperative tone because not many of us are naturally gentle. Also, our forms of gentleness are not always evident to people. We claim to be kind and nice but sometimes it doesn’t show. Thus the instruction.  

Though this is a fruit and it might take us some time to fully learn the habit of being gentle, let us all remember that a mark of maturity is when our gentleness develops in an increasing measure. If you know you struggle with being gentle, learn to be one, not just for the sake of those around you but more so for yourself.  

Gentleness is not weakness 

In a misogynistic culture, being gentle is considered weak. Men are taught to display bravado and try to intimidate others to rule over them. Gentleness has no place when you want to outdo others. But the only time we should outdo others is when we express our brotherly love to them. Paul reminds us to “love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor” (Romans 12:10).  

The most common illustration of gentleness is a smiling Jesus carrying a little lamb on his arms. It exudes a warm and comfortable feeling of compassion, care and love. It pictures Jesus as soft and tender, ready to embrace us as he sings for us. But this same Jesus once overturned the merchant tables within the temple courts’ premises when he got angry for the desecration of the supposed house of worship. Jesus is both referred to as a lamb and a lion, meek and strong. 

Gentleness is not a weakness. The meek is not weak! If this is so, then Moses is not qualified to lead, and so is Jesus. Gentleness is strength under control. Rather than angrily overreact or passively underreact in any given situation, the gentle person chooses to do what is right – assess the situation, calmly respond with a well-thought of solution. It takes emotion to react without thinking. It takes strength to stay calm and be gentle even when things get out of control.  

Gentleness is commendable 

Who would you like to be with, a person who offends you with truth or a sweet-talker who spews lies? Of course I’d rather be with someone who speaks the truth, always. But let me propose a better option: how about a person who knows how to speak the truth in love but also knows how to be gentle?  

Proverbs 15: 1 says “a soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger”. I always believe that everything we say must be true, but not all truth has to be said. Sometimes we need to “hold our horses” and time our rebuke. It takes wisdom to speak the right words at the right time. What does it benefit us if we prove ourselves right but we lose the confidence of a person?  

If Jesus is not gentle with his words, I am sure no one will choose to stay by his side. Day in and day out, people flock towards him, listening to the words he speak. Yes, he offends the priests of his day. His words pierces the hearts of those who listens to him. But more often than not, he is gentle and compassionate, and his love soothes the wounds caused by sin of his hearers.  

To the lady caught in adultery, his words brought restoration and hope. 

To the Samaritan woman, his words brought acceptance and joy. 

To Zaccheus, his words prompted repentance and dignity. 

If Jesus is known to be a harsh-talking person hiding under the guise of being frank and “real”, these people would not even bother to talk nor listen to Jesus. But Jesus is approachable. He is not intimidating. In fact, even the little children loves to be around him! 

Gentleness is an outward display of our changed life. If we remain to be sulky, irritable, harsh and easily-angered, people will doubt whether we really are Christians. Worse, we misrepresent Jesus with our ungentle countenance.  

HOW DO WE SHOW GENTLENESS 

If you are struggling to be gentle in the way you speak or act towards others, let me suggest the following practical action plans: 

  1. Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. This is James’ instruction to the readers of his gospel. We should listen more than we should speak. Doing the opposite is considered rude. 
  2. Be more emphatic. Whenever you feel tempted to comment about something or someone, try wearing their shoes first. If you know where people are coming from, you will be more considerate next time. 
  3. Be intentionally gentle. Before you spew those words or give unsolicited comments, remind yourself that it is more important to win the person more than winning an argument. Practice gentleness on a regular basis, and be more intentional. 
  4. Be ready to overlook an offense. The reason why people become harsh towards others is because either they easily get offended or they don’t want their rights to be stepped on. Learn to surrender your rights and privileges from time to time. As Proverbs 19:11 says, “good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.” 

We may have different personalities and temperaments but let us remember that the world does not revolve around us. Instead of expecting people to adjust to us, let us win their affection by being gentle towards them.  

Photo by Liz Sloweiser on Unsplash

Resilience Plus

After the battering of Typhoon Ulysses, my brother and I made a quick trip around the vicinity as soon as the flood waters in our area subsided, both to check the surroundings and to check if his motorcycle is still working. Thankfully, his motor is still in good condition, but not for most of Marikeños. Ulysses relived the gruesome experience we had from Ondoy of 2009.  

But we have to move forward. No matter how heavy the beatings we receive, we have nowhere to go but forward. It’s funny that the first people I saw in the neighborhood are those who chooses to celebrate their safety through liquor. What a typical Pinoy episode of resiliency.   

As a true-blue Marikeño, I have heard stories, seen and experienced its actual transformation from a muddy and unfamiliar municipality to become a “City in the Pink of Health” and one of the “Most Bikeable Cities in the Metro”. I have seen my city leaders in action – not just in words but real action be it during typhoons, flashfloods and pandemic. I must say, I am proud to be a Marikeño. The Marikina City mayors I have witnessed growing up raised the bar of what leadership should look like. Leadership is not embossing one’s name in street lamps and school buildings. Leadership is not about etching one’s face in food packs and paper bags. It is not about press conferences and media exposure. It is about actual service and caring for your constituents. It is about assuring and reassuring your people that you are with them no matter what.  

If you’re thinking, “sana all” and consider me privileged, I agree with you. I am indeed privileged for being a Marikeño. And I hope all Filipinos have the same privilege as I have for having a leader with compassion and heart to serve. With the kind of leadership that we Marikeños have, we are sure to stand up strong again after this storm. 

But let’s talk about resilience. I have to agree with most of the posts flooding my social media feed. Resilience is good, because we really have no better option. It is better to stand up and be positive than to sulk and refuse to move on. But we cannot afford to accept the same fate over and over. Resilience is a good trait but it must not be an excuse not to grow as a person and as a nation. We can continue to smile in the midst of challenges but it is better if we smile because we have learned how to avoid unnecessary challenges. Just like what’s being said around in social media – let us stop romanticizing Filipino resilience. 

Resilience is good but let us add the following to make it better: 

Resilience plus call for accountability  

This has been the call of many in the social media. It is ok to be resilient but we must not welcome every pounding with a smile while people in power exploit us. Authorities must provide means to secure us and safeguard our  assets. Gamit lang yan, mababawi rin yan! (it’s just an item, you can have another one). True enough, we whatever is lost during a natural calamity can always be replaced, but with proper planning and disaster risk management, we can mitigate our losses. 

It’s not wrong to demand for reasonable service from our public officials, especially since we are basically paying our taxes and voting them into their offices. Our resilience is not a license for their corruption and incompetence. Besides, our demands will raise the bar for the quality of their service. If we remain silent and take all beatings to ourselves, we are empowering their inaction and insensitivity. Let’s help our officials to put their offices and our taxes into action. If our officials take it as an attack, perhaps they are not fit to public service?   

Resilience plus proactivity 

We have learned a lot from Ondoy. It has been revealed in our faces that our drainage system was not enough to take hold of the surging waters from the mountains of Rodriguez. So there were efforts after Ondoy to construct dikes, improve drainages and flood control systems. I remember people heavily inconvenienced during the construction of DPWH’s flood control, but I believe it helped mitigate the floods we experienced lately. News outlets informed us that it Ulysses’ flood level is a little over Ondoy. Imagine its effects if no projects were done in between.  

It’s good thing to be resilient but it is just being reactive. It is basically moving on and picking up the pieces after a beating. But being proactive is preparing yourself even before a beating happens. It is taking precautionary actions even before something bad happens. It is making the most out of the situation by learning the lessons it brought you. As the saying goes – “once is enough, twice is too much”, to which I add “third time’s foolishness”. 

BUT I also counter myself in this – not everyone has the privilege, no matter how proactive they would like to be. Some people don’t have the necessary resources, connections or opportunities to change their situations. But I’d still like to emphasize that being proactive helps, especially when one has the means to do so.  

Resilience plus faith  

If we add faith in our resilience, imagine the benefits it will bring. I’ve been hearing a lot of hate about toxic positivity that instead of helping people in their plight, it gives them false sense of security. To some extent I agree that relying on a false sense of security is not good, but being positive and hopeful is way better than looking at things from a doom’s point of view.  

But I’d like to propose something better than positivity – faith in God. Positivity tries to dismiss all the things that happen, especially the bad to see only the good. In essence, it is plain escapism. Faith, on the other hand, does not ignore the bad, but accepts it as a part of life and reality. As we live in a fallen, sinful world, faith gives us hope that no matter what happens, there is hope. It gives us assurance that there is light at the end of the tunnel, and there’s a rainbow after the rain. God knows what He’s up to, and our confidence is in Him even in the midst of chaos. After all the challenges I have experienced in life, I can proudly say that God is the One who sustained me.  

If resilience is the action, faith is the fuel. If we move forward without any hope for the better, we are missing the point. But we move forward in life after all these challenges because there awaits a better future for us and our loved ones.  

There you have it! It’s always good to be resilient but let’s add more to it. Let us be better person, expecting and working towards a better community. Adieu!  

Photo by Stephanie Ecate on Unsplash

Why Self-Care is not Selfish

Day after day we’re being pursued with demands and requests from people – be it from work, from our loved ones or just from our personal checklists asking for our attention. Society lures us to hustle. Our bills has a unique way of keeping us awake. We are bombarded with the desire to accomplish, and slowing down feels like a luxury we can’t afford.

Not slowing down for too long and soon you will find yourself unproductive, irritable and exhausted.

When stress overwhelms you to the point of exhaustion, remind yourself to pause for a while, take a rest and recharge. It is not selfishness. It is taking care of yourself.

It can be as simple as spending a few minutes doing nothing – no work related thoughts, staying away from social media, lying in bed snuggling with your favorite pillow. It has to start somewhere.

Why is self-care important? Here are some reasons:

It recharges you physically

Our mobile phones has a limited battery capacity. Once it is drained, it can no longer function. It needs to be recharged from time to time. Likewise, we too get drained when we function for a long period of time without resting. We need to recharge so we can be productive. Our bodies were not designed for non-stop work. It is not a sin to pause and take a day off. It is actually both biblical and practical.

It redirects you to yourself

More often than not, our exhaustion comes from people whom we want to please or convince of something. Think of your social media feed for example. If not envy, it triggers self-pity, or anger or a mixture of it all. When we turn off notifications and stay away from these triggers, we’ll realize that we have been neglecting the most important person you need to take care of – yourself. Give your mind some peace. Treat yourself with some rest. You don’t have to prove to people anything.

It prepares you for greater service

I understand that most of us refuse to stop because they want to give more to people, myself included. We want to give our best service as an expression of love. But inasmuch as we want to give our all, we can only do so much. We have to realize that we cannot give from an empty vessel. We too must be filled so we can fill others up. Machines need some rest. Even the best people need to rest. Even Jesus need some rest! We don’t have any excuse not to rest.

It is being true to yourself

Admit it – you are no superhero. Sometimes you get tired of working non-stop to provide for your bills or just to prove something. But there is more to life than just exhausting yourself from endless pursuits. We need to pause we need it like everyone else! Our responsibilities will always be around, teasing us. If you really want to face it squarely, face it prepared – recharged and ready.

It gives you a clear vision

Our vision get blurred when our emotions and bodies are exhausted. We say things we don’t want to say, and we do things out of impulse and unclear mind. When we take a rest, we see things differently. We are not irritable and we do things better.

I believe in the principle of working hard, but it doesn’t mean we need to work non-stop. Heavy machines get tired and depreciated from continued use. Use it to exhaustion it will wear down and cease to function. Same is true with humans. If you want to give more to others, keep yourself – your health, sanity and your vision intact. We do ourselves a favor when we rest. We do others greater favor when we take care of ourselves because we offer the best version of ourselves to them.

Photo by Anthony Tran on Unsplash

The Power of Writing It Down

When you’ve got too much on your lap and you don’t know what else to do, I suggest you bring your emotions to a rest using the power of writing your feelings down. I tell you, it works wonders (at least, for me).

People like me who gets easily bombarded with thoughts gets distracted easily. Since I usually accommodate requests from work, from ministry and from people, I accommodate emotional toil and relational stress as well. So I need to unload from time to time.

This is where writing comes in.

It has the power to focus your thoughts

Social media feed has a lot to offer, but we can only take much. And with the information overload and screen fatigue we are experiencing on a daily basis, we desperately need to learn and re-learn focus. Think of a subject you want to write about. Jot down your ideas. Process your thoughts. As you enter the realm of whatever you’re writing about, for a moment you will forget of the stressful social media trend that’s bugging you for quite some time. Take time to narrow down your thoughts. It doesn’t matter what will you write about. Just write, and focus.

It has the power to free your mind

Writing is freedom. Sometimes we are too ashamed to unload our emotions to people for fear of judgment. However, your pen and paper won’t mind. Write about your fears and worries. Write about how you feel about the people around you. Write about your plans and desires. Write just about anything – even your rants and complaints! Free your mind from the burden of keeping it all by yourself. Write truthfully, without inhibitions. You may even cry! It’s your space. However, where you write – public post or private journal – is another topic.

It has the power to fill your drained energy

Our phone gets drained over continued use and so is our mind. Fact is, we all charge differently once we get drained Since writing helps in focusing your thoughts and releasing your unnecessary burdens, it lends us the power as well to fill us up. Writing is recharging! I get pumped up when I write reflectively. Some writers I know gets thrilled when they write poems or short stories. After long days of work or studies, doing what you love is a bliss. If writing energizes you, fill yourself up!

It has the power to freeze time

One benefit of writing is it brings back memories. Most of us tends to forget easily. But like photographs, when we read back our previous posts or journal entries, memories flash back and we recapture the joy, the pain, the lesson, and the people involved. Imagine if there are no chronicles in the past, if history transpired without any written and published trace, we will not have any idea how people managed to live in life pre-technology. Writing freezes and encapsulates our present time and makes it available for the future, so our future selves can go back to what transpired in the past. Am I making sense?

I know some people are more passionate in writing, blogging and journaling than me. They have a lot more to say about how writing empowers them. But in my humble stint in writing, I have personally experienced why famed writers claim that the pen is mightier than the sword.

Until next post!

Photo by Nick Morrison on Unsplash

Missing Normalcy: 5 Stages of Grief

I have been feeling a little off lately. I feel tired most of the time though I can’t even remember doing too much physical job. My routine goes just the same: office work – online class – rest – repeat. But lately, I felt too weak and sleepy.

I usually sleep around 11pm and wake up 6:30am. Yesterday, I decided to sleep as early as 9pm because my eyes were a little heavy. I woke up 6:45am. Just when I thought that my energy will be restored, I went to office with the same tired and heavy feeling. Perhaps its not just some kind of physical exhaustion. It’s beyond that.

I posted about this a year ago in my other blog. However, this time the toll seems kind of heavier. Is it because of the pandemic? Is it because of limited movements? Is it because of uncertainties at work and the looming recession? I don’t know. One thing’s for certain – we are undergoing a collective anxiety or collective grief. I know I am not the only one experiencing this.

This year, we’ve let go of too many people without the chance of actually saying goodbye. Relationships ended. Friends and family members died. Plans failed. Jobs lost. The worst thing about this pandemic is its open-endedness. When will this end? We’re robbed of the normalcy of life and we’re not sure when are we going to fully embrace this “new normal”.

I had a discussion with a friend about COVID. She told me that it is not “real”, implying that it’s just a fabricated issue, a ploy of the authorities for their selfish gain. While part of me agrees that yes, to some extent there are social and political, even financial maneuvering to make the most of the situation, but for the sake of my friends and loved ones who suffered, and some even died because of COVID, I cannot just dismiss it to a simple cough and flu. It is real, and so its effects.

The worst thing about this pandemic is its open-endedness. When will this end? We’re robbed of the normalcy of life and we’re not sure when are we going to fully embrace this “new normal”

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, in her book “On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief through the Five Stages of Loss”, referenced five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Though we may not particularly experience these in linear timeline, these serve as tools to help us frame and identify what we are going through.

I’d like to borrow an illustration from Harvard Business Review article “That Discomfort You’re Feeling Is Grief” by Scott Berinato.

Denial: “This virus won’t affect us”.

Anger: “You’re making me stay home and taking away my activities”.

Bargaining: “Okay, if I social distance for two weeks everything will be better, right?”

Sadness: “I don’t know when this will end”.

Acceptance: “This is happening; I have to figure out how to proceed”

While the power lies in acceptance, the process of “getting there” is equally important. Grief is almost always unwelcome, but it makes us grounded. It makes us whole. It makes us capable of understanding others. It makes us human. Challenges and sufferings are crucibles that purifies us from the inside, and grief is a part of the purifying process. Cliché it may sound but what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. If we know how to process our emotions, we’ll end up better with wider and meaningful perspective of things.  

While the power lies in acceptance, the process of “getting there” is equally important. Grief is almost always unwelcome, but it makes us grounded. It makes us whole. It makes us capable of understanding others. It makes us human.

Grieve if you must. Don’t hold back the tears. Weep and wail if necessary. It’s OK to not be OK. You’re doing yourself a favor if you acknowledge that you’re not at your best.

So yes, admittedly I am getting anxious. Seven months after community quarantine was first implemented, I still don’t know what I am even afraid of. I get tired emotionally to the point that I get tired physically as well. Virtual meetings are great alternative but it gets too taxing even. I miss normalcy, but normal as I know it seems elusive as of now.

But soon, I know we’ll get through this.

Related blogs:

Sadness and Sepia Moments: http://bit.ly/SadnessMoments

When You Can’t Find Joy: http://bit.ly/CantFindJoy

The Gift of Acceptance: http://bit.ly/38vNlx3

Photo by Kristina Tripkovic on Unsplash

Unearthing Diamonds from Dirt

They say that in terms of being the best of friends, dogs are to men while diamonds are to ladies. Though I am not a lady, I wouldn’t mind owning a piece of a diamond! Who wouldn’t want one? This piece of jewelry is definitely a fortune. No wonder, if you adorn a lady with such a precious stone, she ends up beaming with pride.

I was reading a leadership book and I stumbled upon an interesting illustration about diamonds. It says:

“In a best-case scenario, in the world’s most diamond-rich mining locations, about one hundred tons of dirt must be removed per carat of diamonds. In the average diamond mining locations, 1,000 tons of dirt yield one carat of diamonds. That’s a lot of dirt to remove in order to discover a small number of diamonds.” (Murrel and Murrel, 2017)

I realized that in one way or another, we are all polished diamonds in the making. While some have been found out, polished, and are already flaunting their sparkling beauty, some of us still lie beneath the surface, waiting to be removed from the dirt. We all have potential, we all have a purpose. However, we have different seasons. Some are being fleshed out from the dirt, some are awaiting discovery.

It’s easy for us to look at people with “sparkling” personality as if they’re the only real deal. We look up to them. We try to pattern our lives with them. But if we look around us, we will discover that a lot of people are waiting for us to lift them out of the dirt and help them to find their “beauty” within themselves. We look at the old cab driver and see him just as he is – an old cab driver trying to make both ends meet. We pass by “mommy” usher in the church and see her as she is – simply a married woman who tries not to miss her Sunday routine in spite of her marital problems. We try to ignore and not give much of a concern to that unruly teenage neighbor because we think we have more things to attend to than spend time with a “delinquent” juvenile.

Only those with glittery lives catch our attention.

But what if we begin to invest in the lives of ordinary folks within our reach? What if, while waiting for our complete transformation to become flawless diamonds ourselves, we try to unearth some people from the dirt, help them clean them up, and speed up their “makeover” process? The concept may seem odd and vague but I think you know what I mean – let us add value to people, help them in their respective journeys, and believe in what they are capable to do. Let’s give them hope, encourage them, and share our lives with them. Let’s begin to look at them as who they really are – a diamond!

In order for a diamond to be a sparkling diamond, it must be unearthed first.

“But only if we get our hands dirty can we find a diamond in a pile of dirt. Are you ready to get your hands dirty? Are you willing to get dirty? ”

Unearthing is not easy. Unearthing means work. Unearthing looks messy and will get your hands dirty. But only if we get our hands dirty can we find a diamond in a pile of dirt. Are you ready to get your hands dirty? Are you willing to get dirty? If one can find a diamond in a pile of dirt, I bet he’ll say “it’s worth it!”

I am once a resident of the dirt, wallowing in the filthiness of circumstances and personal view of life. But some people helped me up and encouraged me to see life the way God sees it. I began to see that I am not a product of my circumstances but I am a child of God. I began to see the beauty of life. I began to discover that I am not worthless because I am treasured by the Lord. This is because some people saw past through the dirt in me and saw me as a diamond.

I know you have a story to share too! Now share your story with others and begin investing in a life today. Do a good deed, an act of kindness. Look at people pass through their façade. You’ll never know, you might be living under the same roof with a precious diamond.

Photo by Carlos Esteves on Unsplash