“Ok Kalvin – breathe – you’re almost there – breathe – secure your feet – good – trust your grip – NOW TAP THAT BELL!”
This was my internal monologue as I struggled to inch my way up the rope climb obstacle with my remaining strength during the last Spartan Race weekend at Vermosa, Cavite.
If you invited me to do a Spartan race 2 years ago, there wouldn’t be any chance that I’d say yes. I was extremely obese and didn’t really have enough physical capacity and willpower to finish anything this challenging.
My Spartan journey started last October 2021 in Batangas Lakelands. My gym coaches Joel and Thea of Fitness and Health Gym encouraged me to join, offering me another challenge after gaining strength and losing a lot of weight during the pandemic. Up for it, I said yes and started my training with practicing the rope climb in our gym.
Being so heavy back then, I would chicken out and panic when I reach the middle because I had a strong fear of heights. I also managed to get a good bruise on my right leg due to the rope lock and lots of painful popped hand blisters. With practice and determination, I was able to overcome my fear and finally RING – THE – BELL!
My fitness journey taught me a lot about myself and these lessons were magnified even further when I started training for Spartan races. There are many, but I’ll share ten that I have a deep connection with.
10 Life Lessons from a Spartan Race Junkie
Set yourself free from your own unbelief. Be best friends with yourself and believe in you!
You only have one body, listen to it. Eat right, rest right, treat your body right.
Trust your own process. You are gifted with a unique way of thinking and a unique set of biomechanics. Find what works for you and stick with it.
Nothing can take your strength away from you. Whatever strength you’ve gained, you’ve gained. Trust me.
Your weaknesses does not define you. Accept them and learn to love and strengthen them. You are ok as you are.
When you get stuck, ask for help. Keep yourself humble and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Failure is not the end of everything. It’s okay to fail, just make sure to learn from it and carry on.
It is ok to feel fear, anxiety, and doubt. There’s nothing wrong with you. Your feelings are valid.
It’s okay to go slow. What matters is you finish. Don’t compare your pace with another. There’s a time to go slow and a time to go fast. Going slow allows us to see beauty unfold in our surroundings.
We are all capable of jumping through fire. Life has already equipped you with tools to overcome, trust and open yourself up to do the impossible.
I believe any kind of sport that you train for can teach you something about yourself and how you overcome life challenges. These little nuggets of wisdom that we earn through grit and hard work is what makes us better athletes and ultimately better human beings. Every time I finish a Spartan race and see the results, I get to see a better me, that I’ve only ever dreamed about, become reality. I am amazed of the transformation I have achieved both physically and mentally.
There are just some lessons you have to experience first hand so it can make enough of an impact to change your life forever. Also, perhaps, in your own growth, you get to inspire other people to pursue their own version of a more active lifestyle.
Right now, I know I’ve already come a long way, but the more I explore the gift of what my body can offer me, the more I realize that the possibilities are endless.
The Bonus Lesson: In every circumstance, always find a reason to SMILE.
So friend, and fellow Spartan – Let’s move! Aroo!
Photo Credits: Spartan Race PH, Pitikulochi, Team Vitality, Team FHG
After a few weeks of detours and life events, I’m back!
I couldn’t think of a better time to post again but Easter – Happy Easter!The recent weeks felt like a journey of reinvention, and self-discovery for me. I hope that wherever you are in the world, you’re safe and hopefully, things around your area are getting better. The vaccines are already here! Let’s trust that we’ll all eventually see a better normal coming around the corner.
Random fun fact my nickname is “Kalvs.” All the pun intended in the post title.
One of the things I miss that we still couldn’t do freely in our side of the world is drinking coffee with my friends. I miss face-to-face conversations with them and having unlimited laughter while drinking my White Mocha Americano. Drinking the same drink alone in my place just doesn’t bring the same joy. Though a sip stirs up memories of people I look forward to seeing again.
Dear friend, if we were having coffee right now these are the things I’m excited to tell you.
My Amazing Calves
One of the things I learned from Coach Joel is that leg workouts are the most skipped workout routines. Hence, the epidemic of chicken legs most seen in men. I somehow get it, but I think it’s not that bad. Doing the squats, leg presses, hamstring curls, etc. makes me sweat a lot so doing them is a win for weight loss.
One time, as I was doing calf raises, Aldren pointed out that my calf muscles are getting more defined. He took a video and showed it to me. I was amazed! I never knew my calves looked like that! They looked like an inverted heart shape. They looked so cool that every now and then I look at them in the mirror. Hard work really pays off!
First Fresh Pasta
When I ordered baking supplies, the grocer put in a free 1-kilo bag of strong wheat flour for free. I was so happy but that quickly changed when I saw that it’s about to expire in 5 days. My dad used some of it for bread. I took it as an opportunity to make my first ever fresh pasta!
The recipe was easy. You only need flour, eggs, oil, and salt. You just need to mix them together, knead, and let rest for 30 minutes to relax the gluten for rolling. I don’t have a pasta rolling machine so I rolled it out by hand as thin as I possibly can and cut them into strips. Cook them for 1-2 minutes (or a little more) depending on how thick you rolled them.
Fresh pasta is definitely better than store-bought pasta. Would make it again for special occasions.
Expanded My Perfume Collection
I don’t know when it started but I’ve always been intrigued by perfumes. My dad used to own a collection too which he eventually gave away. As a kid I found his old stash lying around and sniffed them one by one. It was such an exhilarating olfactory experience!
The first-ever bottle I purchased was Bvlgari Extreme Pour Homme. That one sadly fell and the precious glass bottle broke. Since then, I have added fragrances to my collection. As of now, I have 17 scents that I spray in rotation at home since we are not allowed to go out yet. They’re all really beautiful scents!
I love how fragrances evoke memory and emotion. I wear them not only to smell good but also to feel good.
Bought A New Phone
Last year, I’ve been considering buying a new phone but everyday essentials were a top priority. Although a little slow, my phone wasn’t really broken so there’s no reason to buy a new one.
Fast forward to this year, I went ahead and bought a new one since I found a good deal and it’s within budget. I got myself a Samsung S21+ that came with a free tablet and a travel adaptor. It feels nice to have a new gadget to play with. It can even run Genshin Impact a mobile game I’ve been itching to try since my last phone can’t handle it. More importantly, I love the quality of pictures and video it takes. It allows me to record for projects.
Joined An Acting Class
This is the most daring thing I’ve done in the first quarter of 2021. I’ve always wanted to participate in an acting workshop before the pandemic so this was a dream come true. When my friend told me there’s an opening for a workshop, I signed up without hesitation. I almost didn’t get in since the slots for the schedule I wanted was full but thankfully, one opened up a few weeks before classes began.
I came in class knowing only a few terms in acting and a mind buzzing with songs from musical theater. For five days we had a somewhat crash course on acting a taught different techniques. We had homework using TikTok duets and a final monologue piece that we write on our own. Acting really is a great artistic craft, you get to learn so much about yourself and about others. For me, it’s about making your character as authentic and truthful as possible so it becomes alive.
Acting, for me, is about letting truth live so that many will see it, feel it, and experience it.
To be honest with you guys, I had to push myself to write again. It was hard to get myself back writing after exploring all the detours life has offered me. I had this weird nagging need to write again at the back of my head. It gently prods me as if I had a debt of stories to tell the world. And I think it’s right.
So I come out of my hiding this Easter and connect with the world again through my writing in whatever form it may take, hoping to reach at least one person. I had a good rest and adventurous detours and as I continue to write posts, I hope to share these stories with you.
If we’re having coffee right now, I think one cup won’t be enough.
How’s your Easter? I want to read your stories too!
Today is December 31, 2020 and it’s MY BIRTHDAAAAAYY! HOORAY! *confetti* *fireworks*
Before anything else, I’d like to thank everyone who clicked the tiny follow button on my humble blog. I’ve only ever dreamed of getting a hundred follows by the year ends but I can’t believe that there are now more than 200 of you guys! Thank you so so much! You guys made my birthday extra special!
The one thing that people always assume when they hear that my birthday is on the 31st of December is that I get to have a grand celebration. Well, yes and no, Yeah, I mean it’s grand in a sense that my neighbors, and more or less the whole world, prepare feasts in their homes and put on a spectacular display of fireworks for the new year. It’s fun to see it that way but I also get this sense of everyone wanting to rush things because they can’t wait for the past year to finally expire.
This year was tough for everyone. All of us have been tossed, turned, and bruised by the events of the world. I feel for everyone who has been victims of injustice. I pray that life will be kinder and more gracious to you as we move into 2021. Thank you for persevering to survive despite the weight of the world. I greatly admire you.
2021. A fresh new year, a clean slate, an empty canvas, where you’re free to do anything you’d wish and hope for. A happy new year. I’m with you guys in welcoming 2021 with arms wide open.
But you know, for me, going through 2020 was one of the greatest gifts that I have ever received.
I think one of the best gifts aside from a boatload of cash is extra time with a side of courage.
I am thankful for 2020 because if I didn’t go through it, I wouldn’t have time to do all the things that I didn’t know I can even do before. Many things in my life shifted and I saw them from a different perspective. My dormant skills came alive and used in creative ways. Because of 2020, I experienced several amazing things the first time.
With the gift of time and a side of courage, you get to experience many firsts. Now as I turn a year older, I invite you to look back at 2020 with me and remember all the “firsts” that made this year a memorable one.
1)Spiritual direction at the Cenacle
Coming from a retreat in 2019, I wanted to start 2020 right by meeting with a spiritual director. I met with Sr. Ana from the Congregation of Our Lady of the Retreat in the Cenacle and we talked for a while about discerning my life direction (I’ll share more about this on a different post). What’s amazing is whatever we talked about that time was tested and proven during my time in quarantine. If not for the extra time I had I wouldn’t be able to see where my talents and skills intersect and where they would lead me.
2)Experience ashfall from a volcano eruption
January this year, Taal Volcano erupted in the Philippines spewing toxic ash into the air that continued to linger for many weeks. We had to wear face masks and protective eyewear to avoid inhaling ash. It’s a precursor to the pandemic here in the Philippines. I never imagined that I’d be able to experience this in my lifetime since Taal has been dormant for a long time.
3)5km Run at Manila Bay & Intramuros
Originally, I planned to join at least one running event per month this year. I wanted to rake in medals! I only got to February, but the way things turned out was better. I started my year with fitness and now I’m still on the same goal. I miss running with my friends.
4)Start growing a blog
I started my blog last February thanks to a strict nudge from a blogger friend of mine. To be honest, I didn’t even know if my content will ever be read by people. I just wrote down my thoughts and honest feelings. Primarily, I want my blog to be a space of connection (My first post:Creating Spaces for Connection) whatever content it may have.
Today, I’m still surprised to reach more than 200 follows and post my 50th blog entry. I’m so thankful of everyone who’s reading this blog. It’s also amazing how I’m able to connect with fellow bloggers. More to come next year!
5)Facebook and Instagram accounts for Kalvin Five
With the drive to reach more people, I created a Facebook Page and Instagram account for Kalvin Five. I’m happy that I still get to reach people who might find what I write relevant or helpful to them.
6)Be a contributing writer for a religiouscommunity
I’m blessed to be able to be a contributing writer for a religious community on Facebook. Through writing for the community, I’m able to deepen my Catholic faith and at the same time learn something new about it. Unmasked.
7)Poem collaboration with a friend
I wrote a poem in Filipino in collaboration with a dear blogger friend of mine. It was both our first time and it was magical how every piece just fit together and we finished the poem in a few hours. We published it as a spoken poetry video as well on our pages. I’ve been wanting to do something like this for years and it finally comes true in this amazing piece!
A few days before our country went on lockdown, I was in Singapore for a wedding. It was my first time staying in a capsule hotel and going around Singapore alone too. Due to the lockdown measures, the original host needed to fly back earlier than expected so I filled in his spot. With little the remaining time I have, I prepared for the hosting gig and everything went great! Who knew that my first ever hosting gig will be in a foreign country?
9)Host live online prayer meetings
Ministry has to adapt to still reach out to people. As we moved our actual gatherings online, I was blessed to serve as a host in some of our live streams. It takes a little getting used to but it’s all fun once you get the hang of it!
10)Participate in an online choir
It’s a challenging feat but the end result is just amazing! I was able to stitch together a full-voiced choir using software too!
April was hardest month for me this year and reading helped me out a lot. I don’t usually read self-help books that much but these three helped me stay sane and just keep myself moving forward. These books helped me become more grounded and not spiral out of control. Especially, they made helped me figure out the inner workings of myself more.
Resisting Happiness – Matthew Kelly How To Befriend Your Shadow “Welcoming Your Unloved Side? – John Monbourquette How To Discover Your Personal Mission “The Search for Meaning – John Monbourquette
12)Do my own laundryon Facebook Live
Since lockdown happened I learned how to do my own laundry. We don’t have a washing machine at home so I hand-washed everything! There was even a time that I broadcasted my laundry session live on Facebook which people found interesting to watch.
13)Purchase my own bed frame and mattress
I’ve always wanted to remodel my room bit by bit. It was such an adulting move to finally purchase my own bed and mattress! I also decluttered my room of trash and unneeded stuff. My nights have never been so full of comfort and rest. Next up for my room is to paint it blue and get a new desk and a chair.
14)Find out I have high alcohol tolerance
I was out with a few friends of mine a few blocks from where I live. I wasn’t counting how much I’ve already taken in but after sharing a bottle each of wine, tequila, and brandy I’m still up and sober. I was amazed that I did not feel the classic symptoms of being intoxicated as it was my first time to drink that much. Fellas I don’t recommend drinking until you drop. Always keep it safe and keep to your limit.
15)Bake bread and desserts
Baking has become one of my stress busters this year. Buying an oven has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made this year. My dad has learned how to bake as well and now we don’t buy bread from the supermarket but bake them whenever we need some. I’ve learned so many things in baking and the science-y stuff always amazes me seeing your creation transform behind the glass oven door.
16)Make roast chicken and lechon belly
Having an oven also made me try out recipes that require roasting. I’m proud to have made my first ever roast chicken and lechon belly (Filipino porchetta) and they tasted amazing! I’m getting more confident in my cooking skills. I basted the lechon belly above with a little too much soy sauce on the skin hence the dark color though it’s borderline on getting burnt! haha!
17)Commit to my fitness journey
I’ve already told you guys about my fitness journey this year. I started at 121 kg last January and today I weigh in at 94 kg. It’s been a long journey and I’m still reaching for my goal weight. I started out by changing my diet and doing home exercises. My weight loss stalled and that’s when I enrolled in a gym last October and my Fitness Friday posts were born. I find it hard to keep my diet on track this Christmas season. I need to burn a lot of fat again for a better and fitter me in 2021.
18)Get a proper massage in a massage parlor
On my first full week at the gym I was really sore all around my body which is totally normal if it’s you’re getting back to lifting after a long time or if it’s your first time. I’m really shy about my body so I don’t go to massage parlors but this time I didn’t care about what the therapist might think. I just wanted the aches to go away. Under the hands of a therapist with 20 years of experience under his belt, he soothed my pains away and sent me home relaxed. Go get the massage that your body deserves!
19)Squat with 90 kilos
Coach Joel is just an amazing encourager! I never imagined myself being able to do the things I can do at the gym now if he didn’t push me to do it. I mean wow! 90 kilos! What’s next? 200 kilos? Everything is possible if you remove your own limits 🙂 Thank you to everyone at Fitness and Health Gym you guys rock!
20)Get a facial treatment
This is prickly business! I just did this one last Monday. All this mask wearing and sweating made me breakout with acne around the area. I wanted to have my acne treated before it gets worse. For the first time, I had an online consultation with a dermatologist and she prescribed me with facial treatments and medicine. The dermatologist recommended getting a Glycolic Micropeel treatment to hasten the healing of my acne.
By the gods! The technician pricked my pimples and I shed a few tears! Three days since the treatment, I feel it working! Now I just need to follow through with the skin care regimen.
In a few hours 2020 will be officially over. Today, as I look back I will remember it as a year filled with challenges that helped me come closer to the version of myself that I want to become. I’m another year older now and I feel like there’s more out there for me to experience and enjoy. This year was surely not a joy ride but it’s roughness smoothed out my rough edges. Thank you so much 2020!
I want to end with three birthday wishes.
For myself: I wish for 2021 to be a year where I reinvent myself to fully become who I envision myself to be – a person who truly loved and fully lived.
For the person who reads this: I wish that you get to finally do the things you’ve been wanting to do your whole life and share it with the world.
For the world: I wish that the world will have more safe spaces for connection where people can be loved and accepted without fear.
Oh! And I really really wish that we can already go out of our homes feeling safe without the threat of the pandemic. May our world leaders be guided. Hope to meet you guys outside!
I love you guys! May you have a happy and meaningful new year!
“What you desire on the deepest level, tells you of who you really are”
Sr. Bubbles Bandojo, RC
We are all made up of different parts and pieces. Some pieces may be broken, and some may have gotten unbreakable through time. Each piece is an important part to complete the whole.
We sometimes ask these questions: “Why do I feel like there’s something missing?” “What is my purpose in life?” “How do I go about finding it?” “I think I already found it, what should I do next?”
Friends, I assure you that you’re not the only one thinking about these things. Finding the missing piece is a journey that’s worth taking. I hope to at least be a humble guide who can point you in the right direction by sharing what I know.
Journey with me in three parts in finding our missing piece. Let’s go right in.
What Do You Desire?
When something goes missing our first instinct is to try finding it. It’s easy to start a search when we can describe what we are looking for. If it’s a pen, we can search an area for a particular brand, model, and tint color. Without any description, it’s not so easy to look for something missing.
I’ve come across many people, including myself, feeling that their life seems to be meaningless and doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Most of them have stable jobs and income, and yet they feel stuck. It was hard for them to find their missing piece because it is not something they can fully describe. Sometimes, they don’t even know that it’s already in front of them.
Some may have it all figured out already. Part of our missing piece can be found in pleasurable experiences. “When I get a taste of that special ramen from Japan, my life will be complete.” Or it can be expressed in our dying wish. ”If I could only talk to my daughter again and ask for her forgiveness, I can go peacefully.” Our missing piece can be anything and they are different for each individual.
But where do we look? The piece that we are looking for can be found in our deepest and truest desires.When we live out our desires with a sound mind, we find a sense of purpose and direction. I say with a sound mind because we have to be able to discern which particular desires will serve us into becoming who we want to be.
So, what is it that you desire?
For some, this is an easy question. The majority gets stumped by this because they have been so busy living their lives not realizing that they’re leaving their desires behind. Right now I invite you to set your inhibitions aside and take the center stage.
Awaken Your Desires
We will go through an activity to help guide us and awaken our desires. I encourage you to do this in a reflective mood, without any distractions.
Get yourself a pen or open a notepad.
Click the play button and jot down as many answers as you can until the music stops.
Proceed to the next question and do the same.
Are you ready? take a deep breath.
What do you LIKE?
What do you WANT?
What do you DREAM?
What do you DESIRE?
I am sure you have written down many things. Keep your answers so you can ponder about them later.
You would notice that even if the words above are synonymous, the depth of their meaning also progressed. Likewise, the things you have written may have also progressed in depth and some of the items you wrote may have funneled out. The way we write our answers gets deeper as we progress toward the word “desire.”
Our desires may change over time. What we desire now can even give birth to another desire as we begin to journey along where our desires are pointing. The journey with desire has three movements.
3 Movements of Desire
Your desires are part and parcel of who you are. Let them surface without judgment. Sometimes we tend to suppress our own desires because we are ashamed of them or we have lost hope in them for they seem so impossible to reach. Desires are anchored to your values. Recognize and honor your desires.
I hope the previous exercise helped you remember and acknowledge your desires. Maybe you listed down some of your closely held dreams since childhood. Like a child, allow yourself to wildly desire for something again without any self-doubt and certain that it will happen at the perfect time. Also, maybe your desires have changed since you were a kid. Look at the difference between your desires then, and your desires now. Did your desires become more meaningful or have you given up on them?
Electricity. Which of your desires is your strongest desire? Which one, when you think about it gives you goosebumps and the feeling of electricity running through your veins? Which desire ignites a blazing fire in your heart? Is it only one desire or a combination of many?
Being able to live out the desires that give us life and electricity makes us free, they make us fly.These electric desires can point us to where God wants us to be, and what desires for us to become. Feel the electricity.
Now that your electric desires are known. The next movement is for you to desire it more.
Let your desires deepen its roots. To strengthen your desire you need to test it. Is this something I deeply and truly want? Will this desire lead me to a future where I will be at peace and happy? Is this desire truly mine or just brought about by peer pressure? Does this desire deepen my love for myself and others? Desire your desires.
Pray for your desires and see what more you can discover about them.
Do not worry if you still haven’t figured out your desires. It’s not a race. Maybe that’s where you need to start – to have the desire to desire.
As our desires take root and lead us deeper, you would notice them bearing fruits. Fruits that bless you and the people around you. The stronger and deeper the roots are, the harder it is for your desires to be toppled down by other people.
With our desires taking root, there is one movement left that we need it to go through. It’s the most difficult one. Letting the desire go.
3)Let it go
I know, I just told you guys to acknowledge and deepen your desires and work on them. Now I’m telling you the famous words of St. Elsa of Arendelle – Let it go.
Let it go.
Our desires lead us to a destination. A destination that we can picture out in detail. If you desire to get married, you have probably imagined yourself at the altar tying the knot. If you desire to have kids, you can envision yourself carrying a baby in your arms with your spouse. If you desire to become the CEO of the company, you may have daydreamed about going up the ranks and successfully making it on top.
We should be prepared to let go of our desires.
We should not be too attached to it especially if it’s not giving you peace.
I have a friend who once went inside a novitiate following a vocation to become a Jesuit. He was so sure that this is what he wanted for his life. While inside, he was having trouble in his discernment a couple of years in. One night he fervently prayed for God to tell him if it’s his will to become a Jesuit. In his heart, God told him – “Is this what YOU really want? You can put it down.”
One of the hardest things to do in life is to let go of what you hold precious in your heart. Especially letting go of things that you have been fighting and working so hard for. My friend put his desire for pursuing his vocation down and ended up blessing many people by serving as their spiritual companion. Letting go of his deepest desire made way for an even better one.
Let go and know that what’s meant for you will stay and work out for your own good.
Does your deepest desire truly complete you? Does it lead you to peace? Does it bring you closer or away from God? Let it go.
These are the three movements of desire. It’s a lot to take in and unpack but I will let you do that in your own time.
Your desires are real and important. Honor them, make them grow, and when the time comes, let it go. Your desires will lead you to your truth and you’ll begin to uncover your life’s greatest treasures.
I pray that you keep nurturing your healthy desires.
Thank you so much for reading until the end. You did such good work on yourself. Sending a virtual pat on the back!
Keep safe my friends.
I’m interested to hear your thoughts about the first part of “finding the missing piece”. Comment below your insights, realizations, questions, or anything that crossed your mind in this post. Click follow to get notified when part 2 and other content is up.
A bit of a foreword. This little bundle of words made me laugh at how cheesy it came out but maybe the world needs some cheesiness right now. May the cheesiest and most audacious possibilities we dream about come true. Now pass the Parmesan please!
I can think up a million possibilities Of how things will work out for us in the end In some we end up getting lost, sad, and confused in others we become indifferent to the needs of each other Solace, all of them probably won’t happen
In all my anxious thinking about tomorrow I found only one possibility that we can rely on Possibility number three-six-five, one-four-three It tells a future that carries a promise of love for every day Where we’re held secure, no need to worry
Now I don’t need to think a million more For I’ve decided to bet my hopes and dreams On this possibility that I want to become reality Let’s work together for possibility number three-six-five, one-four-three It may not be perfect but we’re free
Thanks for reading! You’re the best! I have a new article coming out of hiding for you guys real soon. Oh and do take extra care these days 🙂 Stay home, stay healthy and keep safe!
Last December 2019, amidst all the loud Christmas celebrations, I was going through unrest. So I went up Mirador Hill in Baguio (a Jesuit Villa in the Philippines) for a silent retreat. A silent retreat, as I would describe it, is a retreat where you quiet yourself and listen intently to your body, your mind, your emotions, and importantly, listen to God (or if you may, to a higher being). Months leading to the end of last year was filled with overwhelming events and emotions, and the only thing I wanted was to walk away from all the noise.
With all the buzz and busyness that we have in our fast-paced world, silence can be one of the greatest gifts you can give to yourself.
One night during my retreat, I found myself awake very early in the morning. It was still dark outside. Sensing a thrill of adventure, I put on my hoodie and went outside submitting myself to the cold morning air. The moon’s gentle light caressed the trees and the gardens, illuminating the pathways on the hill. I let my feet do the wandering until I found a comfortable spot on a viewing deck facing where the sun will rise. I sat there in solitude, patiently waiting for the night to give way for the day.
Relishing the cool breeze, I observed the lights of the city by the hillside. I felt anxious as I saw cars zoom around making early errands. A heavy sigh came out of my chest. I didn’t want to go back to the city. At least, not yet.
From the busy city below, my eyes fixed itself on an instrument bearing the four cardinal directions with a spinning arrow on top – a wind vane. The North, East, West, and South signs were fixed but the arrow will always point towards where the wind blows with no objections. The arrow was obedient to the wind. It didn’t resist its gale but instead followed it, even if it was spun around and around not knowing where it will point to next. I watched the wind vane fulfill its purpose. As I took in the view, the sun gradually filled the sky with magnificent light.
I was teary-eyed as the rays painted the sky with beautiful colors. A masterpiece made just for me. It’s one of the moments that will last in my heart forever.
Let The Sun Rise
People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.
– Thich Nhat Hanh
That morning taught me an important lesson that I’m still learning today –letting go.
Letting go is hard especially when pain comes with it. We tend to always associate letting go with giving up control but it is also accepting things for ‘what they are’ and ‘what they are not’. Overthinking and replaying memories can ever change what has already happened or steer possible outcomes. It hurts more when we fight to tighten our grip on things that are not meant to stay.
Letting go is trusting, accepting, and embracing uncertainties knowing that you’ll be ok. Although it seems frightening, there is freedom and peace when you let things go their natural course. When we let go we make space for new things that are sometimes packaged in uncertainty.
Uncertainties will always come into our lives. It’s as constant as the rising of the sun and untamed like the blowing of the wind. It can come at us from any direction and point us toward uncharted territory. Wherever it leads, we just need to keep faith that we are exactly where we are meant to be. To experience new things that are not meant to harm us but strengthen us and make us better.
We cannot go to where we are meant to be unless we let go.
Whatever you’re going through or if you’re in the middle of letting go. You’re doing great! During this pandemic maybe we are all invited to let go of what has been and embrace the new. Whatever that “new” thing is for you. As we continue to move, dear friends, hold on to hope, let go, and let the sun rise.
“Wishing to be friends is quick work, but friendship is slow-ripening fruit.”
Aristotle, Greek Philosopher
Many of my friends tease me that I should run for mayor. They’re always amused that I seem to bump into other friends whenever we hang out. To be honest, I don’t socialize much and I prefer to be by myself most of the time. Although I’m introverted, I make myself open and accepting of people who will come my way. Being an extroverted introvert, I can socialize well in comfortable situations.
I love my friends and I’m very supportive of them. I try to journey with them in the capacity that we’re able to give and receive. Though I have many friends, there are select few whom I’ve let into my deepest levels. An inner circle that I can come home to.
These days, meaningful friendships are hard to come by. We have several friends on Facebook but I bet you only ever connect with a few of them in real life. Anthropologist Robin Dunbar suggested that there is a limit to the number of maintainable social relationships we can have, and that is 150. If this is so, how can we make sense of our circles?
Aristotle, a Greek philosopher, said that friendships can be classified into three. Let’s have a look!
The 3 Types of Friendships
Friendships of Utility
This is the kind of friendship that you might have with officemates, business partners, and study groups to name a few. Friendships like these are formed when both people in the relationship can benefit from each other. In the office setting, for example, one would befriend a person from another department because you can share valuable information to have leverage at work. Friendships like these end quickly, especially if the use of one person ends or doesn’t bring value anymore.
Friendly or user friendly? Friendships of utility are not necessarily bad. They just don’t have much quality and depth.
Friendships of Pleasure
This friendship satisfies our pursuit of enjoyment. We experience this kind of friendship in joining groups with shared interests or hanging out with a go-to person doing hobbies you both enjoy at the moment. School clubs, shopping buddies, and gym buddies are some examples that come to mind. These friendships can be short-lived as one’s interests and priorities may change and the connection would be lost.
For the first two kinds of friendship, the motivations to remain friends is not enough for it to last. They mainly focus on the benefit and pleasure the friendship brings. However, these two kinds have the potential to be nurtured and turn into the best kind of friendship we can have, which brings us to…
Friendship of the Good (Virtue)
True friendship. Also called the friendship of virtue is the most important and preferred kind of friendship to have of the three. It often lasts a long time, even until the end.
Friendships like these are between people who help each other in pursuit of the same goal of the good life and becoming better versions of themselves. It is a friendship where you value the person instead of what you can gain from them, and genuinely care for them. These are friends who does not let us fall into ruin by correcting us, and telling what we need to hear even if it stings. There is respect, and a strong desire for each other to grow more in virtue and goodness.
This shared “goodness” in friendship satisfies both affections received in friendships of utility and pleasure. Friendships like these are rare so if you happen to be in one, water it, nurture it, and take care of it.
This is the kind of friendship we should prefer, seek, and strive for.
Strive For Good Friendships
“One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”
True friendships are not simply born by clicking a “Friend Request” button. Friendship, like all relationships, needs the commitment to grow deeper. For us to have good friends, we must be a good friend ourselves.
You might ask, “But I only have friendships of pleasure. Is there hope for me to have better friends?” Yes! I think it’s fine to only have friendships of pleasure or utility or both. Only having these types of friendships isn’t necessarily bad. Deep virtuous friendships can start from here if both risks being vulnerable with each other and work on the relationship for it to grow. Honor the friendship someone can give, trust but still be discerning of who you let into your inner circle.
Pure gold is tested by fire. Friendships are tested by shared challenges, conflict, and adversity. I’ve had my fair share of this and some of the friendships I’ve held close fell apart and some endured the test and blossomed. The ones who stick with you after being tried, you should keep forever!
Good relationships bear good fruit. For plants to bear good fruit, it needs to be watered, given enough sunlight, fed enough fertilizer, and sometimes go through needed pruning. In friendships, you get to experience life with another person, loving them for who they are, supporting them, and desiring the best for them. When you have good friends they’ll also want the same things for you. Friendships are one of the best gifts life can offer.
Comment what you think of Aristotle’s three kinds of friendships below! Do you struggle in growing your friendships? Are your friendships adding goodness to your life? What kind of friendships do you mostly have in your life right now?
Relationships require work. Hard work. Building a relationship with your family, friends, colleagues, and your special someone takes time and effort from both ends. You cannot expect true closeness and intimacy with someone you just met or kissed a few minutes ago (hello Sleeping Beauty!). Great relationships are developed over time of shared experiences.
I think one of the reasons why many people in this world are lonely right now is because they simply can’t make time for meaningful relationships. It can be that they’re either afraid of being rejected or they just can’t make themselves let go of their busyness. Relationships are treasures that we should take care of because we cannot fully live without them.
Let’s think about our own relationships for a while.
Have you ever gotten curious as to how deep your relationship is with a person or a group? I encountered the 5 Levels of Communicationwhile reading the bookEmbracing Change by Joseph F. Sica. In his book, Sica says that communication is the number one quality for keeping a healthy relationship growing better for it is the only way we can get to know each other inside and out.
Looking at my relationships through the 5 levels was revolutionary for me. It guided me in sorting out which relationships I would want to develop more, keep the way it is, and ones to treasure forever. Allow your relationships come to mind as we go through each level. Here are Joseph F. Sica’s 5 Levels of Communication with some of my insights.
The 5 Levels of Communication
Level One: Could Care Less (Superficial Small Talk)
It’s these kinds of conversations “How are you? How’s the weather today? I know I asked, but I only did it to state the obvious and fill the silence as I talk to you alone. I don’t want to hear anything else. Only normal acceptable politeness.”
I don’t know if you could call that a true conversation because it only stays on the surface. There is no desire for connection and being involved with the other person. We usually hear and do this while lining up at the counter, waiting for the bus, and talking to people at parties. We do this just to be social.
Level Two: Keep It Simple (Facts and Information)
We usually engage in this level of communication at work. Often transactional. Just the facts are shared and there’s no room for disclosing personal information and open communication just like the first level.
Here, boundaries are set making people know that this is how far you’d go with them. This is convenient when living a fast-paced life where you need to hop from one idea to the next. “Hey boss, here’s the report on just the facts – nothing more, nothing less.”
On a daily basis, we may find that we usually go between Level One and Level Two. Superficial – only hitting the tip of the iceberg. Being in these levels is fine since we need them to interact with strangers. With your significant other and friends, you need to dive deeper .
Level Three: Tell Me More (Ideas and Opinions)
This is where things get more exciting. You’re beginning to test the waters with another person. In this level, expressing ideas and opinions about certain topics is encouraged. We’re sharing a bit of who we are, our likes and dislikes, and keeping communication open. “Where do you want to go on vacation?” “Where do you want to eat?” “What’s your opinion on pineapples on pizza?”
On level three, it may seem like you’re already deep in conversation with a person but you would still leave parts of you guarded. If the person you’re exchanging ideas with doesn’t agree about something, you may go back to level one or level two and build things up again.
Level Four: Going Deeper (Feelings and Emotions)
“Our feelings tell us we are alive. They aren’t either right or wrong, they simply are.”
Joseph F. Sica
After testing the waters, and deemed it safe – we add our feelings to our thoughts in the conversation! On this level, we express what’s going on inside us to the other person.
We expose our ideas, convictions, dreams, values, and feelings about experiences and situations. We share what’s important to us. When reciprocated by the other person, you get to know more about each other’s character and it will be an enriching experience for both of you.
When a friend asks, “You look stressed, are you OK?” they’re engaging in level four communication. Expressing how we feel paves the way for real connection. However, sharing what we feel with another person can be frightening because if we are not taken seriously, we end up getting hurt and retreat to level one. The response and reaction of the other person determine if we would want to tell them more about ourselves.
I’m lucky to have relationships that communicate on level three and level four. It’s a blessing to be able to talk about my deepest thoughts, worries, and joys without fear of being laughed at. They even listen to things that I have left unsaid. The feeling of being understood and safe abounds these relationships.
Level Five: Right On (Intimacy and Transparency)
Here, we have gone deep and really see into the person and let them see us. We give the person space to authentically be themselves, space where they can be free, a space that they can trust. We reach this communication level when we can be truly honest and open with the other person. You share the parts of you that you’ve been hiding, parts that you’re scared of, parts that are not easy to tell – becoming transparent. What’s beautiful about it is that the same openness is being returned and encouraged to go deeper.
Relationships take time to grow
Communication goes both ways. When someone speaks, we give our undivided attention to listen. Some relationships (family, friendships, marriages) fail because they either did not express themselves enough to be understood or didn’t listen enough with their hearts.
Building relationships take time. Observing my own relationships, some went through the five levels by stage and there were special ones that skipped two levels. I myself tend to go straight to level three or four with people. You can treat the five levels as phases or as a guide to what communication level you want to work on with another person.
It’s okay if you have relationships where your communication levels do not meet. You may have a desire in communicating on level four but the other person can only go with you on level two. This is normal. You may have to adjust with the level of communication you’re receiving or express your need for a higher level with the other person. Discernment and acceptance plays a role in determining if it’s a relationship worth keeping, let go of, or keep as it is and let it grow at its own time.
Relationships require work. Hard work. But the work is worth it because you get to see the beauty hidden in each person and allow yourself to be seen too!
I hope you learned something new by reading this article. Put your thoughts on the comments below. Which level of communication do you want to achieve in your relationships? Do you have relationships on level five? Are you struggling with a relationship that you want to go deeper into?
Joseph F Sica, Embracing Change: 10 Ways to Grow Spiritually and Emotionally. Pasay City, Philippines: Paulines, 2015
These past few weeks I’ve been focusing my energy on building a better me. In the process, I found myself writing a New You Resolution (I just invented that, pun intended). I listed down all the things that I want to become after the pandemic. Since the world has paused for a bit, now is the perfect time to sharpen the saw and learn new things. It’s like submitting yourself to a badly needed makeover.
Some of the things in my New You Resolution:
Become better at healthy living
Become better at public speaking
Become better at writing (maybe start writing a book!)
Become better at choosing things that are good for me
Become better at being consistent in my career
Become better at loving and choosing me
I started each item with “become better” to remind myself that “becoming” is not an overnight thing but a process. Becoming a better version of ourselves takes time. Not only that, but it also takes several necessary steps backward of unlearning and several steady steps forward of learning. The process is intimidating and sometimes painful but as you begin to see progress and eventually reach your goals you’ll receive the best reward – a better you.
Every New Year’s Eve, I write resolutions but none of them ever came true. On top of my list is to shed off more than a couple of pounds of weight. I did the hard work – I enrolled in a gym and tried many diets but my desire to follow through didn’t follow me through. I gave myself many excuses not to choose a healthier lifestyle. My will to continue went out of the window. Not even halfway through, I found that I couldn’t go on pushing myself to do things I didn’t like. I just put back on all the weight I’ve lost, all the hard work wasted.
All of us have willpower and there a many are disciplined enough to just power through with it alone. So if you’re starting on your journey to becoming a better version of yourself, discipline and willpower is essential to power through the process of transformation. But when your will is tired, you need to go back to what drove you to start in the first place. Pair your will with your “why“.
Start with a big WHY to keep yourself moving. It is what will keep you fired up and excited to go through the process of becoming. Your “why” will be your weapon to slay everything that goes against your progress. You need to constantly feed your “why” with all the things connected to it to have a clearer picture of where you want to go. Write your “why” down on paper and stick on a mirror to remind yourself of it every day.
It’s been a month and a half now since I started working out again and I’ve already lost 15lbs with a better diet and proper exercise. I’ve also trusted the process that works for me. This time, I started with a big “why” that shakes me to the core. My Why? To love myself more so I can do more of the things I want to do and live the life I deserve.
YOU Have The Power
Change is constant.You just need to choose what you want to change into. You have the power to choose. I don’t know where you are in your journey towards becoming who you want to be but I believe you can do it! When you fall back, be kind to yourself and never ever give up! You may not see progress immediately but as the saying goes – inch by inch, it’s a cinch!
Let’s encourage each other! Where are you now in your journey of becoming your better version? Are you running on willpower? Or are you keeping it up with your why-power? What is your why?