The Webinar, The Haircut, and The Isolated Ramen

Weekends excite me. Before the pandemic, I usually stay out a bit late after office on Fridays and go to spots near my workplace that I haven’t been to before. I like to take walks, taking in the world around me, and letting myself be swayed by the motions of the night. I would treat myself with a new book, good food, and coffee – really good coffee. When I get home I do a bit of binge-watching on Netflix knowing I don’t need to get up early the next day.

Surprisingly, accepting the new normal for my weekends came easily. I quickly acclimated to being more of a homebody during the quarantine. Yes, cabin fever kicks in especially when I’m bored and stressed out. To balance it I loosely plan my weekend activities so I can be productive and maybe go outside for essentials.

Yesterday (Saturday) was really eventful since I got to learn something new and go outside for an essential trip!

The Webinar

A friend of mine, Kris Austria, is building something new to pivot during this season. He wanted to follow through with his dream of using his skills and talents in speaking to teach and reach more people. He gathered a few of us at 10 am in the morning for a test run of his webinar “SPEAK UP: Your Confidence Booster in Public Speaking.”

Even if it was only a test run, I felt my public speaking skills got a needed boost through all the practical points he gave. What stuck with me the most was the part on using speech patterns to organize your thoughts better when speaking. It’s a blessing to learn something new from a friend who’s taking a step in making his dreams a reality.

If you want to know more about Kris you can follow his blog here!

The Haircut
Social distancing and all hygienic precautions are in place and the stylists are wearing PPEs

After the webinar, I went out with my anti-virus gear and got a much-needed haircut. My hair has grown four inches since my last visit to the salon. Ever since I got my head shaved I became finicky with my hair and have switched from one stylist to another. I think once you try going bald you just get more adventurous with your hairstyle. 

My new haircut and my customized compliant mask

My search for a hairstylist was fulfilled a few years ago when I found this quaint salon in Alabang. Jeryk, my stylist has a sixth sense when it comes to what I want with my hair. He knows my head so well and I’ve become friends with him over the years. He got a new cool-looking scorpion tattoo! I told him I wanted a quiff and a couple of hours of expert snips later I got what I wanted. He’s just the best!

The Isolated Ramen

After getting my hair done I heard my stomach rumbling. There is only one thing on my mind – ramen. Good ramen. I’ve been craving for ramen for weeks so I cautiously went to Ramen Nagi in the nearby mall to get my fix.

Dining out takes a bit of getting used to in the new normal. You need to comply in filling out contact tracing forms, hygiene checks, and get your temperature taken. Safety first! When you’ve gone through all the necessary checks, then you get seated. The restaurant tables are arranged in such a way that social distancing is still in place and only a maximum of two can be seated per table.

I got seated between tables occupying two people. I felt awkward and a bit lonely since I usually eat ramen with my friends. Seizing the joy at that moment, I ordered my go-to ramen and some gyoza on the side. I missed these dishes so much that I finished eating in under fifteen minutes! *burp* It was such a good heart-warming bowl! 

I’ve been outside long enough and getting a bit paranoid, so I went straight home after eating which was good since it started raining. It was a productive day. 

I continue to have faith and hope that one day there will be a better normal to replace our new normal. As we wait for that day to come, let’s seize the joy that our new normal can offer. See you in the better normal!

My friend, be reminded that safety is still the number one priority so if you need to go out please practice proper hygiene, social distancing, follow rules, and always wear your face mask! Keep safe always!

What does your recent new normal weekend look like?


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Letting The Sun Rise On Mirador Hill

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.

The sun rising on Mirador Hill

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.


Thank you for reading! See you on the next post!

Leave your thoughts on the comments below.


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How To Become A Better You? Use Your Powers!

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

WILL Power

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“.

WHY Power

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?


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Ever Asked Yourself: Am I Just Surviving Or Fully Living?

A thought struck me with all this pandemic crisis going on. Let me re-frame what’s happening at this angle. What if, right now, as we are staying home we are being resuscitated and we’re experiencing a very gentle near-death experience. Where us being resuscitated means choosing between living a new and better life after the crisis or just go back to the same old uneventful life we’ve had before. It’s like a reboot for a 2nd chance in life!

I’ve been battling with my own thoughts these past few days and been attempting to clean the clutter inside my mental space. It’s hard work because you have to submit yourself to the process of taking things out of the closets and cupboards of your mind and see if what you have pulled out still serves you well and contribute to you being a better version of yourself.

It’s like spring cleaning but instead of taking things out, you take out memories, habits, weaknesses, flaws, joys, triumphs and etc. and see if they are still helping you grow. Otherwise, you have to decide whether to throw them away or not. It’s not an easy process. Because like spring cleaning you will encounter stuff that is unmistakable “clutter” that has served you well in the past but it’s of no use to you now, something hard to let go, but you must. Throw the garbage out.

Restlessness and discontent about where I am right now have been one of my driving forces to move forward. There is a lot of resistance that needs to be slain so I can keep on moving. Resistance is a b**ch (saying it as it is!). It tells you to go back down in comfort and not do anything to take a step towards your fullest potential. I don’t want to just survive, I want to fully live! I want to make my dreams reality, I want to make better choices for myself, and I want to spend more time with people I love.  The one thing I fear most after the lockdown here gets lifted is that I will stay the same, that nothing has changed within me even just a little. 

When discontent makes you restless – move. When you are not satisfied with where you are – move. When you’re not happy – move. When you’re stuck – move. Even if it looks like nothing is happening you still did something – you moved.

You know, I consider this restlessness, discontent, and fear a blessing because it tells me where I want to go and who I want to become. I now know who I want myself to be. And I’m going to spend my 2nd life moving towards it. I want to make a little ripple that can change the world and make the most of what life has in store for me, not only surviving but fully living. For when we fully live our lives the breaths we take for granted gain more meaning because in fully living, we give more of ourselves to the world that is striving to survive.

How is your mental space? Does it need a spring cleaning? Are you just surviving or are you fully living?


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Confession: I’m Struggling Too

Our living room ceiling

You’re broken.

These words gently echoed inside my head as I laid down on our living room floor gasping for air. I took a break from doing a set of crunches and just stared at the ceiling letting the words sink in.

“I am broken. Kalvin, you’re broken!” I whispered to myself.

Then the most unexpected thing happened. I laughed out loud like a maniac!  With each triumphant “ha” making my non-existent abs ache.

I found joy at that moment because finally, I have embraced the truth that everything is not right within me. I’m like a car with a loose gear trying to move forward in bad traffic. Accepting and owning my brokenness prompted me to go inside my heart and apply much-needed self-love to the parts that I have forgotten and neglected. Self-love can take little getting used to, and it may sting a little bit, but it has a promise of healing and of peace.

My journey during this pandemic has not been easy for me emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually. You may see positive and fun posts coming from me but don’t be fooled, I’m struggling too. I’ve nearly lost myself to anxiety, I’ve almost completely shut myself off from the world, and I’ve countlessly rocked back and forth between faith and doubt. I’ve had many okay days, not so okay days, and days where I sit in the middle of the two. What kept me going was clinging to an unexplainable piece of hope, honest conversations, and a little bit of exercise.

How about you? How are you feeling? Are you ok?  

Wherever you are, whatever you’re feeling, and whatever situation you are in don’t lose sight of hope. Maybe you’re also being invited to go inside your own brokenness too. Don’t be afraid to do what you need to do to heal. Go take that sick leave, say no, delete your social media apps, start exercising –anything!

Life can be messy right now but it can’t take your hope from you. So hang in there and believe that breakthrough is still coming.


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The Gift in A Pandemic

two woman hugging each other
Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

Today is Sunday (at the time of writing), and I’m now on the 7th day of my self-quarantine having traveled from a country with confirmed cases. I’m not showing any symptoms so don’t worry! It’s a little bothersome for me that I’m holed up inside our house, mostly staying in my bedroom, with the occasional trip downstairs to eat meals and use the bathroom. I know, this will be the new normal for me, for everyone, as long as the worldwide quarantine is still being enforced – we better follow!

Life was fast paced for me as the calendar rolled from February to March. I was living from responsibility to responsibility, and worry to worry with all my plans lined up in front of me. I was in execution mode, hyping and constantly reminding myself of my “to-dos”.

“Ok man, here’s what we’re gonna do today:
Quit procrastinating!
Prepare training materials!
You need to deliver your tasks today!
Attend that important meeting this afternoon!
Leave early else you won’t make it to your weekly prayer meeting!
You have choir practice in the office AND band rehearsals at the studio tonight!
Attend Bible Study!
Keep yourself healthy!
Get ready for an upcoming talk!
Ready the script and documents for the retreat!
Reach out to people, keep them in the fold!
Pack your bags for your trip outside the country!
Eat!
Sleep!
Sanitize!
Exercise!
And, oh! before going to bed, Overthink! And overthink about overthinking!”

Gift of Rest and Action

A sudden change of pace happened as I started my self-quarantine. After a very busy month, I was able to pause and breathe as the whole city goes into a community quarantine. I don’t want to discount the negative things this disease has done to the world but with all the hope and optimism I have, I choose to see it as a gift.

It’s a gift that’s hard to appreciate (-having disrupted and taken many lives) but it has allowed, for most of us, to slow down, stop, rest, and listen. It has also given us back time to do the things that we want to do but can’t in our regular lives. It’s as if mother nature pressed a reset button so the world and everything in it can put itself back together and heal.

We are now given more opportunities to reconnect with our loved ones, eat uninterrupted meals with our families, and reach out to old friends. We now have more time to rest and let our bodies heal from lack of sleep, stress, and fatigue. We can now listen more intently to your heart’s desires, to the thoughts that bothers you, and to events happening around you, and put things into perspective. Most importantly, we can now set aside more time for prayer and rekindle our relationship with God.

Taking a moment to rest is good, but rest should always be followed by action. We may not be allowed to go out of our houses but we can still move in ways that will help people, especially the ones risking their lives in the front lines.

What can we do?

  •       Follow the rules for the quarantine
  •       Write uplifting stories and hopeful songs
  •       Affirm people making an effort in combating the disease
  •       Share good news (not fake ones) and spread reliable information
  •       Donate to organizations and causes that aids in eradicating the pandemic
  •       Pray for the front liners and the people responsible for making decisions

These are only some of the ways we can extend our help outside our homes. Let’s do our best to flatten the curve.

We are all in this together. We are now healing together. We have been cooped up in our houses for so long with little to no human touch that I can’t wait for that day when we hear from the morning news, the words “Last case of COVID19 has recovered”. I can only imagine the joy of people running out of their houses all over the world, celebrating outside, hugging the first person they see so tight, tears streaming down their faces, feeling the warmth of a person’s touch.

Be Still

What’s happening right now can be overwhelming. To take it all in and deal with the uncertainty of not being able to know what’s gonna happen tomorrow can cause a lot of doubt, confusion, and anxiety. It’s ok to feel this way. Wherever you are right now, and whatever you’re feeling I can assure you, it’s all going to be ok in the end we only need to be still.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him according to His purpose” Romans 8:28

Friend, may your faith increase today. Allow yourself to be held. Trust that no tear, no worry, no sigh, and no struggle is left unheard by God and everything you’re going through is not wasted. God is close to the brokenhearted and hears the cry of His people. He hasn’t turned His back and left you, but He is with you, beside you, above you, behind you, and around you. He is blessing you right now with peace beyond understanding.

We don’t have to worry about what’s going to happen tomorrow because he’s already been there. He has seen the healing take place. There’s no need to be afraid for He already knows what’s up, He’s not shaken, He’s not surprised. We will be able to see each other again, we can do hi-fives again, and interact with people again. No more hiding inside our houses as the day of breakthrough comes.

Right now is a time for us to fix our eyes on God and lean on him for hope for his promise of his faithfulness, joy, strength, and peace.

See You!

I believe this will be over soon and I’m so excited to see you!

We are all in a season where we can rest and take action on things that we can control. We have been given many gifts and opportunities this season and the only thing left to do is open them with gratitude. Remember that you’re not alone, the whole world is in this together. It’s OK to be overwhelmed, but don’t be discouraged and put our hope in a God who never fails.

What other gifts are you being invited to open during this quarantine? (Did you receive the gift of forgiveness? The gift of time? The gift of rest?)

See you on the day of breakthrough!

The Blessing

Let me end with a blessing from Numbers 6:24-26

“The Lord bless you and keep you

The Lord make his face shine upon you

and be gracious to you

The Lord turn his face toward you

and give you peace “

Amen


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