Thursday, September 01, 2016

The Cold and I

The cold and I
We never really see eye to eye
The cold and I
To meet halfway, we only but try

The cold and I
We struggle to do things right
Oh but this cold!
In the end, it always bites

One of these days...
Still hopeful, your coldness, I'll learn to embrace
But yeah, 'til then
Though struggling, I'll just try to deal things with grace

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Trees and Winter

As much as I don't like the cold, there's something fascinating about winter. You'd actually think that at winter everything dies. Just like the flowers in our backyard, the whole thing disappears. But when it's spring time, you see sprouts and it blooms right into summer then dries up during autumn then goes hiding back again in the winter.

While going home on the bus, I'd often gaze at the window and be fascinated by the trees. Each specie has a different way of reacting to winter. Some are dry and look so barren that it's very ugly and creepy to look at. Depressing, really. Others are beautiful and breaks that dull monotone with their greens.

The maple trees and willows look sad during this time. They look so defeated, with their branches hanging limplessly... a frew dried leaves still hanging on some of the branches which haven't been shaken of by the wind. And I guess this is how most of the trees look like during winter.

The christmas trees, on the other hand, are the complete opposite. They battle the winter without losing their green. Despite the onslaught of snow, it just catches it on its leaves and let it drop when the snow gets too heavy. To me, it seems like they're shaking off the snow when there's too much.

And then, there are the apple trees. For me, they are the epitome of a scary tree. When it's bare, it looks so different. Its small branches jut upward from the main branches which are horizontal. It looks as if it's ready to stab anything that comes in its direction. It looks like it's ready to fight, with its knives sticking out.

And then there are these trees with white trunks. I'm not really sure if they are some sort of pine trees also but the difference is that they shed off their leaves. What's fascinating though, is that even in their barrenness, they are so white that they look like white towers. They turn so white especially when there's snow.

Despite their differences, underneath, they are all alive, just waiting for the winter to pass. They just have a different way of dealing with it but when it's summer, they all bloom like crazy.

That's what makes it exciting. For every season, there's always something to look forward to, or dread for that matter, but at the end of it all, there will always be a moment to bloom.

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

And Just Like That

I read Wace's status... "Very timely. God talked to me agad."

Indeed, God makes all things beautiful in His time! Just when I was wallowing in misery and disappointments and all that frustrations, He sent me angels. Angels who encouraged me and fired me up, who shared their experiences. I heard stories of struggles and victories, of strength and will. Angels who would just listen and let their love fill you up. Thank You for these angels!

As I was reading my daily devotional at the bus, I read this note. And just like that, I heard Him speak. After a long time, I felt His arms around me again and He didn't seem so distant anymore...

When she was a little girl, Corrie Ten Boom (a Dutch Christian who helped Jews escape from the Nazis during the Second World War) went to her father and said, ‘“Daddy, I am afraid that I will never be strong enough… for Jesus Christ.” “Tell me,” said her father, “when you take a train trip to Amsterdam, when do I give you the money for the ticket? Three weeks before?” “No, Daddy, you give me the money for the ticket just before we get on the train.” “That is right,” her father said, “and so it is with God’s strength. Our Father in heaven knows when you will need the strength... He will supply all you need just in time.”’

I have been reading about the book of Job these past few days. I guess we all know what the story was about: how Job was tested and how he came out triumphantly from these trials. I have to admit I had a hard time understanding the flow of conversation. If you are not careful, you may tend to agree with Job's "friends", like when they told him, you must have done something bad for God to inflict this on you. Or that when they said, we know better because we are older and smarter. They were trying to "encourage" him but instead Job wasn't comforted.

It's tough being judged when you're going through something. But, in the end, no matter how much your friends encourage (or discourage) you, it's really up to you to say STOP - I want this to end. After all, whoever in their right mind would want to be in misery forever, right?

Time and time I fell off from the ride with Jesus but He never cease to show me how much He loves me. I will overcome! I will be still and know You're God!

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

And the Oscar goes to...

My wall has been flooding with Leo DiCaprio's win of the Oscar. After so many years of waiting, finally, he has won one. And he won it big. It's just funny how a lot of memes and videos have been circulating about his quest for the Oscar award. But I think he deserves one.

I first encountered Leonardo DiCaprio in Total Eclipse. It was a stunning performance but he was still not that known then so I only remembered years later when I went through his filmography. The sad thing was that, I had a hard time appreciating the movie because of its adult theme. I was just 17 years old then and it was one of those movies you get to see at the University Film Center. Come to think of it, I think we were required to watch it for English I and had to write a reaction paper.

Then came Titanic. I thought the movie was just too... cheesy. And that left me with an impression that Leonardo was just an ordinary actor, after all. Another Tom Cruise wannabe.

During one of our get-together, Ni described how she was so fascinated with Leonardo and his performances, how versatile an actor he is. And I was like, ok if you say so... Thoughts of Titanic still lingered on my mind.

I watched Blood Diamond. And this time, I was impressed by him. The movie did, as well. Hmmm... interesting. Unfortunately, that didn't earn him an Oscar. I really though he had a shot. Too bad.

Then came Revolutionary Road. I didn't want to watch it at first because I thought it would be just Titanic Part 2. Not sure where I watched it, though, but at that time I guess I didn't have anything else better to do. Why else would I endure another cheesy Leo + Kate tandem?

Lo and behold! The movie tore me to pieces. This time, my appreciation for Leo's performance was just way over the rainbow. And the chemistry between them was just perfect. They brought out the characters, that at the end of the movie, I felt like I was really part of their journey.

And then Inception. One of the most mind-boggling movies I ever saw. The story line itself was gripping but the way Leonardo performed was just awesome. His determination, his confusion, his love for his wife and kids... He was really into the role.

Then Manong and I thought of doing a Leo marathon. We watched The Departed and it was a-oh performance, as well! Can I have some more Leo movies please? Then we watched The Beach and that was a little woooh for me... like feeling high on drugs! But I enjoyed the film, as well.

And finally Shutter Island, the movie that totally shuttered my Titanic impression of Leonardo DiCaprio. I think it was one of Leo's best performances. He made me go crazy, along with this character. I don't want to spoil the movie for those who haven't watched it yet but his expression at that final scene was like - What is that all about?!

After all these years of great performances on-screen, you'd get to thinking why did he win an Oscar just now? Ah well, that's one of the mysteries. I remembered someone had a theory (was it Ni?) that because he always had great performance, it sort of became expected of him. The ones who usually win delivered their performance in a surprising way.

So now I'm curious as to what made him win this award. What did he do to make his performance come as a surprise? I hope the movie will be available soon.

Congratulations, Leo!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Adjustment Pains, As I May Call It

I have been in Sweden for 2 years, 5 months, 4 days... according to the date calculator. It has been that yet I'm still adjusting. Struggling to integrate, struggling to adjust to the lifestyle, trying to find my space and my pace.

See, I wasn't emotionally prepared when I had to leave Philippines. At that time, I was in a team where everything was just going perfect for us. Great team members, great bosses, and even I was in a great position. And, at home, I had two househelp to help me with my 2 kids and household management. The only thing missing was Efren. The distance mattered, but for me, that  gap was filled up with friends and family.

I didn't really had any reason to leave until Efren was rushed to the hospital. He has been suffering from vertigo but it got frequent when he arrived in Sweden. He was miserable because he missed home so much and I guess, it was really tough for him since Zach was only 2 months old when he left abroad.

And so here I was... Cold, strange Sweden.

I have been to Sweden twice before but it was only for short trips, 2 1/2 months at most. Our counterpart who was mostly working with us at that time was boisterous and lively and happy and laughed out loud often... You know, an extrovert. So somehow, I got that sense, ah I wouldn't have problems fitting into this place.

But there's always that saying... "Assume makes an 'ass' out of 'u' and 'me'".

I was all bubbly and full of passion... Basically, loud and opinionated, challenging people when I think otherwise. Typical me at a workplace. Well, it was just a time bomb waiting to happen. Soon, you'd read an email saying it's not allowed to discuss things at the desks because it will disrupt other people from their work, go book a conference room! And, something like, having a feedback template - what and what not to say when giving a feedback, because you don't know what the person is going through. Using an 'I' perspective because you only represent yourself and not the whole team. What?!

And from then on, everything was a struggle at the workplace.

The one thing that took me so long to realize is that a lot of people I have to interact with are introverts and that character is molded into the society. It's same with Filipinos. Because we are mostly extroverts, we tend to be warm and friendly and noisy and laughs at every opportunity we find.

That's what really made me homesick. I miss laughing. I miss being opinionated. I miss challenging opinions of others. Basically, I miss being who I am.

Don't get me wrong. There is a Filipino community here in the city. They are very supportive and they are so Filipino. We developed good relationships with some families and they have been really a blessing. Unfortunately, I don't get to see them often. Once a month is already a handful.

I guess what's more sad is that, I spend nearly most of my day with these colleagues, yet, they can't be bothered to have a personal relationship with you. Everything is just business. Then you'd miss having Filipino colleagues because you'll always find someone to be good friends with, even when outside office premises.

Life in Sweden is hard, especially if you're not used to doing things on your own. When I was young, I told myself I'll work hard to earn good money so I can have help at home. Ah, but that was third world thinking.

My daily routine goes like...
6 AM - cook breakfast
8 AM - Efren and I bring the kids to school
9 AM - arrive at work
4 PM - leave office
5 PM - fetch kids
5:30 PM - 8PM - cook dinner, do some cleaning (dishes, etc) and more often than not do work in between because I left some important task when I had to leave office early
8 PM - 9 PM - put kids to bed
9 PM - work
~12MN or 1PM - sleep

and on weekends, our days are just filled with the daily routine + laundry + clean house + groceries. On special occasions, try to take the kids out for something special, like going to the library.

I miss the days when after work, I can meet up with friends or have a date with Manong, just so I can unwind. Or else, jog or go badminton, leting those endorphins come out!

It's not easy.

While coming from the TFCCL Valentine's Party earlier, I came to realize I need to embrace what I have here. I have been feeling so down the past few weeks. I think, this by far, has been the most roller-coaster ride I have ever been. And I'm now at that point where my faith is being tested. I have been trying to listen to God and have been shouting out loud to lift me up. Yet somehow, I feel there was just silence.

I'm at that point where I ask myself how am I to give something back when I have depleted resources within me? But when I think of my family, Efren and the kids, I just couldn't bear to give up. I have to fight. And more importantly, find my way out of this pit. By God's grace, I am going to get through this!

Yup, it has been 2 years, 5 months, 4 days as the time calculator has said. That should be enough to adjust, I hope. Embrace what I have. Integrate. Grow to be a better person, completely leaning on to God. These are my adjustment pains and I have been longing to say goodbye to them. But I guess, it doesn't come easy eh?