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Bali’s Gates to Heaven

24 May

That travel changes a person is a concept I’ve always been indignant to accept. I never craved to catch seat sales and book a flight set still many months away from now, much less deal with all the tedious details of planning and organizing a trip abroad all because I had this thinking that traveling was an overrated endeavor. I was not convinced that hopping from one country to another could make much of an impact in my life. I mean, is it even possible for different peoples, cultures or locations to change you when you don’t even stay in one place for enough long a time? What can a week in a foreign country significantly do to you? For sure, the backpacking craze of westerners, all tied up with the keeping of one’s budget at the most minimal, the bringing of very limited number of clothes to fit in one bag for your entire trip, and the staying at the cheapest hostels where you sleep in a bunk bed and share a room with other foreigners must all be a fad, and sooner or later, the hype would die down and everyone will go back home because they miss the more comfortable, more stable life they had just chosen to leave behind. — That was what I told myself.

See, I am not a travel-hater. I do have some countries in mind that I’d be happy to see:

  • Bali, Indonesia
  • Maldives
  • Cambodia
  • Australia
  • France (Paris and Provence)
  • Tuscany, Italy
  • The Bahamas
  • USA (Utah, Arizona and Area 51)

…but I did not find NOT being able to go to these places as a missed once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Okay lang kung mapuntahan, okay lang rin kung hindi. I guess I can safely say I was relatively indifferent about it really. I just didn’t see how incredibly life-changing traveling could be.

Until this happened:
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I had the chance to visit Bali, Indonesia – the first on my list of petty dream destinations. It was all my friend Tin’s fault. She found a flight promo and excitedly asked me if I wanted to go. I told her half-seriously that it is fine with me so long as she does all the preparations because I do not have the patience and industry to arrange a vacation abroad.

AND SHE DID! THIS WOMAN! HOW COULD SHE? hahaha.

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Kidding aside, I really have Tin to thank for actually doing all the work to make this trip happen, because as it turned out, this Bali trip was more than a fancy vacation for me and her.

What started out as a not-so-enthusing perhaps even uncertain plan turned out to be a total shocker for me, but in a good way. I think it was the heaven’s will to put me in this marvelous place just when a very bad news was about to knock on my door — a news so bad because it was going to require me to make difficult choices for my life. Well, this trip did something to my soul that ultimately made me braver, free-er and must I say, happier now. It was in Bali where I was able to muster all the courage to let my heart finally speak its truth, raw and unadulterated, and hold on to my resolve.

It was in Bali that I got to witness the longest, most meditative sunset of my entire life, right above the open-air deck of a moving small commercial yacht – it was the grand denouement of my first vacation trip abroad.  As quiet, melancholic and soft as that very moment was, it was also so powerful it ended up being the  force that pushed me out of a crossroad that got me stuck for the longest time.

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All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware. – Martin Buber

And now I understand that oftentimes, that secret destination is not a place.

With its unique charm and authenticity, Bali also made me understand people’s fascination in traveling the world. It made me reconsider my previous notion on the subject, and I was just so glad to be proven wrong. It honestly made me want to travel more. I get it now. I really do.

baliOh and I forgot to say, Tin and I were literal backpackers on this trip, carrying just one big backpack and a smaller bag with us (no baggage allowance availed of in the flights). Of course it goes without saying that we also did all the cliche things backpackers do:

We stayed in a mixed dormitory/hostel with 6 bunk beds in one room, paying only Php250.00 per night (yes! Php250.00! you heard it right!)

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We didn’t eat until we found the cheapest “warung” (Bali’s version of a carinderia) in the area. We avoided all restaurants except for one; We haggled in the souvenir shops like we would haggle in Divisoria; and we most certainly abused the free unlimited Bali coffee in our hostel hahaha.

But if there’s one thing I was truly amused to realize about the whole backpacking thing, it is that I do not need to compromise on fashion despite the cheap lifestyle we are supposed to follow! 😉 So yes, we were very fashionable backpackers — wearing fancy dresses and donning colorful, chunky accessories with straw hats to boot. Tin and I agreed that we are sooooo Asians after all! We observed that westerners were usually just on their tank tops, shorts and flipflops, uncombed hair, simple black bags — so chill-looking and so free of any first world problems. On the other hand, the Asians in Bali were always instagram-ready. LOL

I also found out that working with a very strict low budget was not, after all, a hindrance to get that perfect high-end, Vogue-worthy photo I required to have by hook or by crook in this vacation. Ah well. My worries were a joke. hahaha.

(Will be sharing about my Bali Trip in a series of posts! Tune in! 😀 )

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So here I am, climbing up one of the many temples in Bali, in an attempt to reach its gates to heaven, barely an hour after our flight has landed. I was as Asian as I could be, and as childlike as I have always been, playfully posing here and there in the hopes of getting an ANTM kind of shot.  When that photo was taken, I was not yet aware that this trip would be so much more than an expensive opportunity to do a photo-shoot.  What can I say, Bali brought me nothing but good surprises.

IMG-20180426-WA0034.jpg“What you’ve done becomes the judge of what you’re going to do — especially in other people’s minds. (But) When you’re traveling, you are what you are right there and then. People don’t have your past to hold against you. No yesterdays on the road.”
– William Least Heat Moon

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Sweet Little Alfresco Spot

8 Apr

Break muna sa nobela ko. Allow me to blog about something light and happy lang for today.  🙂 I just want to share about this sweet little alfresco corner in Greenbelt that I am loving more and more by the day… or by the weekend should I say?

This is at Single Origin, Greenbelt 3. It has just recently opened. It used to be a pizzeria and I’ve only tried it once then. But ever since it got transformed into this very rustic/country kind of place that serves hefty sizes of food and nice-tasting lattes, I started to frequent this part of Greenbelt more often.

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As I grow older, the things that I truly love and want are starting to get more defined. I guess I can safely call myself an old soul because I feel like I gravitate towards hobbies which are not necessarily explosive and exciting but are rather slow, unpopular and quaint.

Sometimes, I wonder why unlike other millenials, I don’t have the inclination to travel the world and see as many countries as I can. And unlike other millenials, I do not covet the latest gadgets available in the market. My phone has had a shattered screen for the longest time, and my laptop has been showing some signs of malfunction but I cannot find the desire to upgrade them.

I cannot however let a weekend pass without visiting a nice coffee shop.

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But who can blame me right? My coffee shop escapades are the best down-time! It gives me an ample time to contemplate about life, read a book leisurely, write on my blog, review the things I’ve done the past week, and it’s the chance to have a one-on-one talk with myself for when I feel down, sad, or lonely. Hanging out in cafes allows me to push the reset button of life. For someone like me who believes she is more prone to melancholy, this is a very crucial savior of an activity.

 

It also makes the need to finish pending work on a weekend more tolerable. Somehow, it doesn’t feel as burdensome as it actually is because once in a while, some lovely birds will sing my stress away, and sometimes, some handsome stranger would share the long table I occupy and would start a random cute conversation. I mean, I don’t mind pausing work if that’s what the universe serves my plate! haha

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I especially love cafes that love my kind of music. Serve me latte and play some Bossa Nova, or those soft, dreamy 80s love songs that take me to some kind of wonderland — and I am yours forever! I cannot fully describe the love affair I have with coffee shops, especially the one with perfect alfresco spots!

P_20180331_133806_1.jpgAlmost done with coffee! Almost halfway through with my current book!

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Spending some alone-time in coffee shops is such an underrated recreation. More people should do it, and they should do it more often. 🙂

 

 

 

Time After Time

26 Feb

Just a quick throwback photos when my hair was still long and curly. So much has happened the past months/year that I’ve left this set of pictures unpublished up until I cut my hair short.

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Let’s just put it out here once and for all then. And I promise, after this post, I’ll update this blog more regularly and with recent pictures already. There is so much I want to share with you guys, but I haven’t got the time to organize my thoughts and translate them into a cohesive blog post. I’m itching to share what i’ve been upto lately, and how my life has changed so drastically yet gradually if that even makes sense. lol

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But don’t y’all worry. It’s still me substantially. Still the girl that loves beige and white, and gold, and high heels and dresses, and anything dreamy and beautiful… Just maybe more profound? Or more defined. 🙂

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It is quite fascinating how growing old(er) is turning out to be so fun for me. I like how I’m changing, and evolving and transforming.

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Mind you, it is not always happy times. But at the grand scheme of things, I still consider my life and my self a pretty awesome creation of the heavens above. I know i’m not making lots of sense right now. haha. but what the hell right? 🙂

All I can say is, the universe has been good and kind to me lately. And I am really grateful. I think I am mildly experiencing the beginning of a midlife crisis tho, and It confuses me sometimes. I am still trying to understand this internal urge to do something significant, in the grown-up sense of the word.

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Maybe I just need to let time do the comprehending. I am giving up my slight but unsettling discombobulation in what seems like a need for yet another change.

p_20161226_160518After my picture fades and darkness has 
Turned to gray
Watching through windows–you’re wondering
If I’m OK

Secrets stolen from deep inside
The drum beats out of time–

 

Curating Life

4 Jan

Happy New Year everyone! 🙂 I may be a few days late with my entry on the Year-End essay writing contest, but as they say it is better late than never. 🙂 As most of the people on this planet, I am also one that writes down New Year’s Resolutions every start of each year. But throughout the years, I’ve learned to do away with a long list of to-dos, and instead focus on just one goal. I find that it has much more impact if I try to accomplish one big, meaningful thing within the year instead of trying to complete 5, 10, 20 small, usually shallow items and end up disappointed for not achieving everything.

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They say that the first step in crafting the life you love is to get rid of everything you don’t, and so I am deciding to focus on that goal for this new year.

So this is my 2018 Resolution:

To mindfully curate my life – to edit, edit and edit. To declutter, discard and minimize: From the contents of my closet to the people I decide to have in my life. To only keep the high quality ones and throw away those that are stopping me or slowing me down from being the best version of myself. I want to make sure that the things that will take up my time and attention are only the things that I actually love.

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I’ve already started taking action in pursuit of my 2018 goal. Before December of 2017, ended I made sure to fill my mental planner with activities I truly find enjoyable and meaningful even if that meant dropping a couple (a lot?) of other things I’ve been accustomed to doing.

1. I hurriedly enrolled in a social dance class which I’ve put off for the longest time. I’ve been wanting to dance again since like two years ago but I kept holding back for one too many reasons. Well, I finally did it before 2017 ended! AND DAMN WAS I HAPPY ABOUT IT! Every chance I get to dance is always euphoria.

2. I decided to declutter my house, repaint the bathroom, the kitchen and then my room. I threw away A LOOOOOOT OF STUFF from my bedroom, and WAYYYY LOOOOOTS MOREEEEE from other parts of the house, and to be honest i’m not even done yet with the decluttering until now! We have too muuuuch things at home it is crazy! :O

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3. I gave away five big black plastic bags of clothes, and kept only the ones that make me feel fabulous, expensive, happy, and confident. Emphasis on the ‘AND’,  because if a dress fails to satisfy at least one of the criteria, they automatically go to my “donate” bags.

4. I decided to take a break from Tinder haha. It can get addictive I tell you. I had dedicated considerable amount of time, energy, feelings and money even, as I allow myself to be lost in the craze. I just thank the heavens that I finally reached the saturation point. Really, it was the most meaningless “hobby” I ever got obsessed with.  Now that I am done with it, I am surprised by how much free time I have in my hands!  It’s like i’ve taken this one thing off my list of to-dos and now I actually have time to accomplish and enjoy 10 more things! :O HAHA.

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5. I made a conscious effort to see and reconnect with friends and social groups I onced belonged with (well, I still belong to them but being the loner that I am, I feel like I am not close to them anymore now). I said yes to all invites to christmas parties, christmas dinners, reunions and whatnot. I rarely say no to coffee dates with my girl friends too. Friends – not men – are our real soulmates according to the Sex and the City girls. Hehe. They remain in our lives for a lifetime regardless of place, time and distance. And so, I’ll make more effort to choose them before other temporary people.

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In order to succeed in this life project of CURATING LIFE, we must discard the unnecessary activities or things that fill up our closets and schedules without hesitation. AND SO THAT’S WHAT I DID. AND SO FAR SO GOOD. So for this new year, that is what I still intend to do. I want to carry on this habit of decluttering and curating that I’ve started rather belatedly last year.

white shirt1mint-colored top from Forever 21, white pants from Banana Republic

So I am slowly but surely starting to stylize everything about me, making sure that what I own and keep are all useful to me and my vision. I’ve been guilty of hoarding and obsessing over things which quickly catch my attention for the past yearssss, without evaluating much if these things actually serve me well. Now it is time to ACTUALLY let them go. I still have a lot of work to do, but already it is starting to feel lighter for my spirit to see a lot of gibberish go out the window. 🙂

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Christian Siriano bag

So yea I guess I can label 2018  as my “General Cleaning Year”. I resolve to spend each of my 365 days consciously choosing what to buy, entertain and let in, and also what to throw away, ignore and let go.

I really want a classy life — classy not in the materialistic sense of the word, but in its more practical and philosophical concept. Quality over quantity, so to speak.  I want to master the art of waiting, and saving, and working hard to have something of real value and meaning to me… instead of settling for (and hoarding!) easily accessible and available but useless things.

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Well, I think I am off to a good start.  🙂 I’m happy, I’m content and I’m busy for the right reasons now.  I feel accomplished everytime I get to finish the tasks I’ve set for the day and for the week. Ah but of course… Fulfillment  comes in easy when the things that we have to do are the same things that we love to do.

That’d be all for now! 🙂 Happy New Year! 😀

Pensive Adagio

6 Dec

“Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not; and often times we call a man cold when he is only sad.” 

 Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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To live without judgment in this world seems like an arduous, if not impossible task. From childhood, we have been molded to look at other people and compare ourselves to them. Such comparison, however, will never ever do us good — If we find that someone is beneath us, we feed our vanity; If we find someone to be better than us, we feed our insecurity. Either way, we are nurturing our ego which is the real and only enemy that we have as individuals.

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Taoist principle would advise us to live in this world merely as passive observers – watching the world (read: other people) unfold before our eyes with curiosity, but never with question. Accepting things as they are; Understanding motivation behind seemingly odd behaviors; And keeping silent amidst tribulation. No one is better than me. I am better than no one too. I am here to see the creation of God grow and be; I am not God to create the rules by which others should measure up.

IMG_20170518_073122_961 “Kindness is to live to one’s essence.” Taoist teachings would always stress that “not doing” is in fact our natural state of being. Exerting effort is not our predisposition. And yet here we are all, struggling to keep quiet when something or someone’s existence offends us… It is hard… because we’ve grown up and lived our lives detached from God. We’ve befriended pride ever since we were a child. And that is why things have turned upside-down, and inside out.

As the year 2017 prepares to bid us goodbye, I am hoping to start a new year with a conscious effort to be kind — to be kinder than I have been in the past, both to others and to myself.  I’ll try to be quiet…to merely observe… I’ll try, and try and try until I finally come back to my source — I want to work on this goal until I realize that being one is in fact my natural way of being.

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“Kindness in words creates confidence, kindness in thinking creates profoundness, kindness in giving creates love.”

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The sage releases their own stories, while accepting the stories of others.

The sage is kind to the kind and also kind to the unkind: for virtue is holding to kindness.

Being as a child, within grace, when allowing ourselves to perceive and embrace essence without judgment.

-The Tao Te Ching

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There are so many things in this world deserving of our attention that we oftentimes neglect. We do not realize that the simplest of things are in fact the ones that bring us joy and happiness. We – through the wheeling of our ego – always chase the more difficult and complicated ways of the world.  But I would like to change that now. Hopefully I’d emerge triumphant. 🙂

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photos taken by me at Canyon Woods Resort, Batangas ❤

Life in a Cup

18 Jun

What’s another story to hear
What’s another laugh for two
What’s another tick on the clock
When it’s magic shared by you

What’s another smile to give?
What’s another kiss or two?
What’s another line to say?
When it’s now that’s shared by you

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Thought I’d share something of a sunny and light vibe today 🙂 Here are some snaps of what weekends should be like – an intentional pause, a well-deserved break, a needed recreation.  Weekdays are our hustle days, and most of the time we cannot help but move so quickly – chasing after the elusive time, waking up as early as 5am and going home as late as almost midnight, overdosing on caffeine to keep us running, and beating deadlines after deadlines that in the end leaves us oh so beat ourselves.

received_1378729268832717So what’s a day or two to stop? We all need a moment to immerse ourselves in the now – and make sure that we do it as slowly as we could. Go to a place that is  lovely and inspiring. Let’s treat ourselves to a cup of coffee and enjoy every sip of it this time.

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A cup in hand
You know it’s worth your while
A cup in hand
Let’s sit and stay for a while

Let minutes turn to moments
Let’s mix
Let’s talk
One moment

IMG_20170411_162014_602“Sunday is the perfect day to refuel your soul and be grateful for each and everyone of your blessings”

I’d like to take this time to appreciate all the people who care for me. I do realize how fortunate I am to know that there are lots of friends reaching out to me, offering any kind of help they could extend, and giving me unsolicited-yet-very-welcome pieces of advice and encouragement. I’ve been expressing my self-doubts, fears and frustrations in social media a lot lately but I didn’t really think people would take the time to read them much less offer me whatever they have to lessen my stress.

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I am only human. I sometimes forget to trust the higher being that guides us all. Lately, mabilis ako ma-stress and ma-rattle However, I am happy to be reminded of the universe’s unbelievable power through a lot of people – Jim, Jam, Phoebe, Mara, Lil, Steph, Mica, Ate Mylene and other law school friends who believe in me, the Bayleaf Gurls, 411 Windsor Housemates (shout out to Ate Cy and Jenny esp!), Tita Josie, Tin, Ago, Ms. Anette, and the people I’ve met only in work-related events and conferences but have been super thoughtful and caring, and I know are praying for me like Ma’am Nelia from NCDA and Ms. Jo from DOH. I also met an Atty. from DOJ  in one forum and she offered her help in my review – she told me to just text her when I have any question. She also gave me tips which I find super helpful. I won’t say na how each one of you has helped me, but you surely did. so Thank you! 🙂

I would also like to use this day to end my week-long self-declared depression. Looking back, I couldn’t believe I got through my Thursday and Friday alive. I was sick for three days starting Monday and had to miss work until Wednesday. I believe that was stress-induced. I had TONS of pending work needed to be turned over to the bosses by the end of the week that I just feared the coming of Thursday. I was so down and helpless. It seemed like everything about my remaining two work days was going awfully wrong. I cried a lot during those times and asked/complained to the Heavens about my impossible ordeal… But somehow, the universe conspired to remind me that life is my ally, not my foe. Come Friday, I magically was able to finish three deliverables/work in a span of 4 hours in the morning. And I find that miraculous because it would usually take me the whole day to finish just one.

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“You’re so hard on yourself. Take a moment. Sit back.

Marvel at your life:

      at the grief that softened you,

     at the heartache that widened you,

     at the suffering that strengthened you.

Despite everything, you still grow.  Be proud of this.”

 

The book on Taoism that I’ve been reading said that everything we need is already being provided to us right here, right now. The universe does not leave anyone behind (yes parang SDG lang! hahaha), and we need only ask and we shall receive. This past week made me a witness to the truthfulness of this teaching. And though I am anticipating another big necessity in the near future, I trust that the universe will provide whatever I need through the people, things and situations around/surrounding me.

I guess this Sunday marks another beginning for me. I will try (yet again) to be more positive even though it can be so difficult at times, and even though I am convinced now that I am genetically predisposed to be melancholic (yes peeps, it is somehow inherent for some people to be more inclined to feel sadness than joy); But this shouldn’t stop me from pursuing happiness I know. After all, nature and nurture coexist in this world to balance each other out, and bring about a perfectly imperfect individual.

IMG_20170412_073419_1742afb9cfcf73103a3e9e517b0d9822558received_1378731118832532 I really have to be consistent in cultivating a happy spirit, and i need to believe MORE in the power of the universe –> things will always work out! And it is always just a matter of perspective – glass half empty vs glass half full; life is either falling apart or falling into place.

And thankgod for beautiful Sundays too – for the downtime, for the chance to reflect, for the chance to begin again, for a clean slate, for the nth square one. I am just grateful to have come to sobriety after a drowning week that was.

I say buckets of coffee keep us awake during hustle-weekdays, but a cup of coffee on a Sunday is what truly keeps us alive. 🙂

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That’s all for today! Quite a long post, but it stops here. 🙂 Have a happy Sunday everyone! 🙂

Evergreen

5 Jun
Sharing with you today a set of beautiful photos care of this rustic resort found at the peak of a mountain somewhere in Batangas. The place is called Canyon Woods and is located in a very far flung part of the said province. It was a long drive to get there but it was worth it for me.

P_20170519_093303_BFLovely, lovely place!

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Being at Canyon Woods for three days was a good break from the hustle and bustle of the city life, especially for me because I’ve been wanting my days to slow down  and my 24 hours to double. Since I have to work and study for the bar exams at the same time, I feel like I don’t have enough time in one day to do everything I need and want to do. Pressure gets to me easily, and this breather right here has somehow calmed me down and stopped me from totally panicking.

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P_20170519_085552I particularly liked the rustic ambience of this place. I’ve always loved nature – I think that is quite evident in this blog – so imagine my delight when I found this glass-housed pool that boasts of this spectacular view of the  pine trees outside, and is surrounded with even more flowers and plants inside. 🙂

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IMG_20170520_073441_151I just had to instantly do a pictorial, you see. With the help of my phone camera that times itself, my considerate audience (kids that refrained from coming to this Jacuzzi and stayed at the bigger pool instead, to indulge the crazy me), and my very cooperative tummy which all of a sudden hid its bulge and made some non-existent abs magically appear  instead, I was able to take  some pretty good shots – one for the blog! yeah! haha

IMG_20170519_091858_262Can we all take a minute to appreciate the natural beauty that is so present here? And how the sun easily illuminates the place? And how those giant vines spreading at the ceiling just makes it all feel more whimsical? 🙂 Whoever thought about this whole architectural design gets hundred thumbs up from me!

P_20170519_090650This building is actually pretty massive. As i’ve said it has a very wide swimming pool aside from that Jacuzzi in the corner. I was only interested in the Jacuzzi area though. Haha. It was a little piece of paradise, within a paradise. 🙂

IMG_20170522_094550_796Did you know that pine trees stay alive and green even during winter? Yeah, I never really thought about it too! Didn’t realize it but sure in the movies they do cut pine trees to turn into Christmas trees and they stay green for a while even after having cut it right?

Pine trees withstand the harshest season, just when all other deciduous trees wither away.  That’s why they’re usually taken as a symbol of wisdom during hardships, of longevity and patience, and of life and hope amidst a wave of death. I just learned today that the pine trees are classified as Evergreens. Well, now we all know why. 🙂

This quick lesson on pine trees is quite timely for me.  Reviewing for the bar exams is giving me a hard time, not because reading per se is hard, but because I keep on questioning whether what I’m doing is enough. Indeed, the Bar Exams is more a test of character  than a test of one’s legal knowledge. Success in the Bar Exams relies on one’s discipline and optimism which I unfortunately think I don’t have enough of. I always make the mistake of comparing myself to other bar reviewees and ending up feeling so inadequate. I’ve always considered myself a smart woman but every time we talk about law school, my confidence shrinks into a tiny useless bud.

P_20170519_092020canyon woods“In the midst of winter, I found there is within me an inevitable summer.” – Albert Camus

It’s been a month of dark days for me but I hope to find that inevitable summer within me. I know I need to keep on living my life despite the less ideal weather, and I have to keep on reminding myself that I am enough regardless of the outcome of this bar exams. I’m scared to fail this one – but if it so happens, should that mean the end of my life? and the death of my worth as a human?

IMG_20170520_215031_551Pine trees remain boastfully tall, and thus alive despite the worst of conditions – And I think I can do that too. If I only succeed in believing that life will remain the same regardless, then maybe I could put some of the pressure off my shoulders, and maybe I could relax more and study better.

“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” – Lao Tzu

P_20170519_093437_BFI know that in this tough journey that I somehow allowed myself to be in, I must not lose sight of what’s important. Maybe this whole ordeal is not so much about me passing the bar and becoming a lawyer, but rather about teaching me to never abandon myself even at the most impossible times. I have to keep on pushing myself up, and to keep on believing in my own worth. I have to understand that failure does not and will  not define me, so it must not scare me so.

“God took pattern after a pine tree and built you noble.”

That’s all for today! Have a lovely Saturday afternoon and enjoy the rains. 🙂