Sunday, December 21, 2008

Just an Update

Last week Friday, I was surprised to see that UP made the second page of Express. The Express is a publication of the Washington Post and is given to all DC Metro passengers. Anyone familiar? I think this one was taken at Diliman. I'm not so sure as it wasn't specified on the description.

Well, here are a few of my early Christmas presents. I just love Christmas =). Below is a set of marinade, chutney, and other butter/jam for breakfast, which came with a cute cheese board. I can't wait to use the marinade.

Recently, I've been receiving some mail love - "Love in the Moonlight" fridge magnet (S. Korea), pink dog cellphone charm (Singapore), and Jewels decoration set (Ireland). Thank you so much.

I hope everyone is enjoying the season. I'll be in Hawaii for the next two weeks, and I'll probably not update this blog for that duration. Have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Little Visitor

This little guy has been visiting me since last week. He perches on the balcony railing and sits there until he decides to move on. I don't know what he particularly likes on my balcony - maybe the view or maybe my company. I don't feed him, as I know these smart creatures are self-sufficient. Besides, there are tons of nuts and trees in the neighborhood, as I live close to a protected forest park. I took this photo when I first saw him. I took it through the screen, as I thought he'd scurry away if I'd open the door.
Here's a closer photo of him. This week, I even managed to stand on the balcony without scaring him away. I think he's cute.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Finding Healing

The first thing I do when I go through intense emotional upheavals or get stuck in a challenging situation is go to a bookstore and spend hours at the self-help books section. I know that books have been written about different ways on "how to," so finding a book that specifically addresses my turmoil is an out breath - a relief. I'd sit, order a cup of coffee, and pour through the book as if my world depends on it. This is how I found Pema Chodron's writings. While reading her book, "When Things Fall Apart," I found solace, peace and understanding in her writings. One of the best lessons I learned is that - whether it's pain or happiness, such feelings or any feelings must be accepted and felt wholeheartedly.

Most of us are uncomfortable with pain, and we try so many things to avoid the ache or find things or activities to distract us from feeling the hurt. We turn on the TV, full blast the radio, and get busy socially. But according to the teachings of Chodron, these are ordinary fixes. The best way to handle pain is to feel it at full blast. Feel how your chest collapses or how your breathing tightens. For it is during this time, "in the midst of chaos, that we can discover the truth and love that are indestructible."

I am reading another book by Chodron, and again, I am finding myself truly inspired. Today, I leave you with a wonderful quote from one of her books, The Wisdom of No Escape.

“There's a common misunderstanding among all the human beings who have ever been born on the earth that the best way to live is to try to avoid pain and just try to get comfortable. You can see this even in insects and animals and birds. All of us are the same.

A much more interesting, kind, adventurous, and joyful approach to life is to begin to develop our curiosity, not caring whether the object of our inquisitiveness is bitter or sweet. To lead a life that goes beyond pettiness and prejudice and always wanting to make sure that everything turns out on our own terms, to lead a more passionate, full, and delightful life than that, we must realize that we can endure a lot of pain and pleasure for the sake of finding out who we are and what this world is, how we tick and how our world ticks, how the whole thing just is.”

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Sam and Blackie

The photo above is a page from my journal. Every evening on my way home from work, I've noticed this black dog peering through a glass window whenever I pass by one of the residential houses. He or she, since I don't know the dog's gender, is always at that window between 6:15 to 6:30 PM. I've decided to name him/her Blackie. About two months ago, I started waving and smiling at Blackie, and I'd see his/her nose pressed on the cold glass window making wet, nose imprints. Sometimes, Blackie would held up a paw on the glass just to show that he/she sees me. Seeing Blackie respond to my gestures puts a smile on my face and laughter in my heart. I don't know, but I just love dogs so much.

My love for dogs started when I was a kid. Our house was always filled with barks and chasing games with our dogs. At one time, we had seven resident dogs at once, and boy, it was rough. I still remember how rowdy they were at times, but they always brought me happiness, loyalty, safety and most of all - unconditional friendship. Actually, I had a dog named Sam, who was born on the same day I came to this world. Whenever we celebrate our birthday, I make sure to give him a piece of cake or anything that we'd prepare for the celebration. I felt so lucky having him. He died of old age a few days before our 17th birthday. We buried him in our backyard, and I've missed him ever since.

I've noticed that Sam and I were sort of connected. He follows me around, and would sit beside me when I had a bad day at school or I got some scolding from my parents. Sam was my best friend, and he never complained and never asked for much. Sam and I communicated in our own way. When I talk, Sam would raise one of his spotted ears. When I'm crying, Sam would just sit quietly as if saying, "I am here." Whenever talks about dogs come up, you can't blame me if I talk about Sam. Sam's always in my heart.

Everyday, I look forward to seeing Blackie on my way home from work. He/She gives me something to look forward to and that I appreciate that we communicate in some way. A wiggle, a nose imprint, or a raised paw on the glass, it's just wonderful to have a new friend on the other side of the glass window.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Friday Update

This week has been really dragging and boring. I think my brain went on vacation earlier than my flight. I keep telling myself one more week. I've also been eating unhealthy - strawberry pop tarts for breakfast, chicken quesadilla hot pockets for lunch, and tonight, I might just boil some hotdogs and eat them with relish and ketchup. Talk about five days of TV dinners...yuck...but they taste fine. Does it mean I've lost my interest in cooking? Nah, I think I'm just adjusting to living on my own, and I've also been feeling rather lazy. I blame it on the cold weather. Although, I'm thinking of cooking something this weekend - something good but I don't know what it is yet. If my plan to cook fails, there's always Chinese take-out to depend on. This is the beauty of single life, I can do whatever I want. The consequences I'll face later.

Happy weekend everyone!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Alone Again...Naturally

Why is it that no matter how crowded and busy the airport is, it always feels empty right after you dropped a loved one at the departure gate. It doesn't matter how good you are or have had the practice of saying farewells too many times, goodbyes are just hard - sometimes too hard. I don't mean to sound like a broken record, but this is exactly how I feel right now. Mom flew back to Hawaii this morning, and I awfully miss her. As I sit and type this entry, I can't help but sing that song in my head..."Alone again, naturally."

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Shaved Ice and Celestial Treat

Tonight, our area got a light dusting of snow. It looks like someone up there was making shaved ice.
Here's Mom enjoying her first snow. Hopefully, there'll be more snow throughout the night.
I've been meaning to post this photo I took on December 1st. I took several photos, but this one seems to be the most decent. This is supposedly the "rare conjunction of the Moon, Venus and Jupiter." Mom and I were in awe witnessing such a rare celestial treat.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Mele Kalikimaka me ka Hau'oli Makahiki Hou

This year, it's going to be "Mele Kalikimaka me ka Hau'oli Makahiki Hou" (Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year). I've decided to spend Christmas and New Year at home in Hawaii. My vacation's been approved, and I found a reasonable ticket price to Honolulu. In two more weeks, I am off to the islands. With my numerous trips back and forth to Honolulu, this is the first time I have a stop over at Kona, Hawaii (also referred to as the Big Island). Although I've visited the Big Island three times in the past five years, I am so tempted to stay there for a day, then hop unto a flight to Honolulu the next day. I am also planning a two-day trip to Maui, but that depends if I do find a good package deal on it. I am so excited to see all of my ohana (family, friends etc.), go holoholo (leisurely travel) with old friends, eat at my favorite local restaurants - maybe dig in to a plate of Island Style Loco Moco (this is not recommended to the health conscious), but most of all - feel the warmth of the Aloha spirit.

Did you know that in Hawaii the Aloha Spirit is a state law? The world law is actually too strong, but more as a guidance to the leaders and people of Hawaii. I've heard too many people use the word "Aloha" too loosely. If you've lived in Hawaii, you'll understand that "Aloha" is much more than a word for hello and goodbye. In the traditional sense, "Aloha" is a way of life. According to the Hawaii State Legislature, "Aloha Spirit is the coordination of mind and heart within each person. It brings each person to the self. Each person must think and emote good feelings to others." Here's the unuhi laula loa (free translation) of the word ALOHA:

"Akahai," meaning kindness, to be expressed with tenderness;
"Lokahi," meaning unity, to be expressed with harmony;
"Oluolu," meaning agreeable, to be expressed with pleasantness;
"Haahaa," meaning humility, to be expressed with modesty;
"Ahonui," meaning patience, to be expressed with perseverance.

So, the next time you do say "Aloha," mean it from the heart just as Queen Lili'uokalanai stated, "Aloha to learn what is not said, to see what cannot be seen and to know the unknowable."

Aloha oukuo. (Aloha to all of you.)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Thanksgiving Dinner and Black Friday

My 2008 Thanksgiving went really great. I could not even believe it. Mom and I spent dinner with the P family. Mrs. P and my Mom attended the same high school together, so when Mrs. P's husband heard my Mom's in town, the family immediately invited us for Thanksgiving dinner. It was a wonderful and very relaxed party unlike the ones I've attended in the past. The company was great, there was so much food, and lots of stories to tell and listen to. Aside from the sumptuous dinner, I also met a couple of new acquaintances and friends. I was such a fool to dread the arrival of the holidays.

One of the days I've actually been looking forward to is the day after Thanksgiving - Black Friday. This is one of the busiest shopping days of the year, and it also signals the beginning of the Christmas season. The big word for that day is SALE; some as low as 75%. Prior to Black Friday, I spent a lot of time online researching which stores were giving the best deals. On Friday at 5 AM, Mom and I braved the chilly temperatures and headed for the mall. The mall was filled with shoppers busily hugging their latest toy purchase or pushing carts full of their new acquisitions. I was impressed at how organized the stores were in dealing with the huge number of shoppers, as more cashiers were added, store workers were ushering people to the right line making the check out process very smooth and orderly. Since I detest crowds, I made sure I had a shopping list, went straight for the goodies I wanted, paid for my stuff, and got out. I bought some new work clothes, sweets, and DVDs. Here are a few photos of my new goodies:

Yes, I finally got my very own Wii Console. It's been on my "wish list" for a long time. It feels really great to finally have one, and playing it is much more fun. Anyone up for a Wii challenge?

These movies were so cheap I couldn't resist ($3.99 - $5.99), so I bought a few additions to my movie collection.

Speaking of freebies, I got a free limited edition, handmade, glassblown "monkey hugging the world" Christmas ornament from my favorite store. There were a hundred of these given to the first 100 customers of the day.

In addition to the Christmas ornament, now hanging on my tree, I also won two wine glasses and a serving bowl from a scratch ticket from the same store. I guess this is one reason why it is my favorite store.

What is Black Friday?

* According to Wikipedia, "the term "Black Friday" originated in Philadelphia in reference to the heavy traffic on that day. More recently, merchants and the media have used it instead to refer to the beginning of the period in which retailers are in the black (i.e., turning a profit). It is not a term of endearment... "Black Friday" usually brings massive traffic jams and over-crowded sidewalks as the downtown stores are mobbed from opening to closing." To read more on Black Friday's origins and history, please click here.

My take? It is simply called "black" because of the stress it