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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I’m 10/10: What’s Your Rating At Being Human?

On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate yourself at being human?

As you think about it let me tell you a short story.

Growing up I used to frequently have moments where I think that I’m failing at life. That I was going nowhere and anything that I do would not amount to something great. That the projects and activities that I involve myself in aren’t enough to make me successful no matter how much I compensate. I wanted to please people to get appreciation because I felt that my efforts aren’t enough. That I wasn’t enough and I’m a failure.

I rated myself a low four on being human.

My definition of a successful human being before was for one to live a life of perfection, reach goals, have high self-esteem, be financially secure, and many other positive traits. I had a narrow view of how the world works.

In order for me to rank higher, I needed to be perfect. I put on several masks so people wouldn’t ask too many questions and that I will “appear” like a ten. Little did people know, behind the mask, what I can’t express healthily came back at me destructively. With the self-imposed pressure of becoming pristine in front of others, I didn’t notice that I was forgetting to be more compassionate towards myself even losing my own self-worth. It was depressing.

It took a lot of unlearning and hard work but I was able to peel my mask off layer by layer. Seeing the world unobstructed by the narrow eyeholes was freeing. I embraced my flaws and weaknesses and built myself with better pieces. I didn’t need to be a certain way to gain approval from others. It’s more peaceful to be an imperfect human instead of being a perfect alien from a galaxy far far away. 

Being human is not judged on perfection and success.

Being human means allowing yourself to experience life as it is. Going through highs and lows, joyful moments, heartbreak, victories, mistakes, and many other adventures that life has to offer makes you human. It’s normal for humans to experience bumps and find treasure in their journey.

Nothing that has happened in the past is wasted. Every moment has built you up to be the human you are today. Everything that you’ve lived through and every emotion that you’ve felt makes you 100% human

No matter what they say, you are a ten.

No matter what you say to yourself, you – are – always – a – TEN.

Now, on a scale of 1-10 how would you rate yourself at being human?

Say it out loud!

“I’M TEN OUT OF TEN!”


Thank you for being an awesome 10/10 at reading my post!

I want to hear your thoughts! Comment them below 🙂

Keep Safe!

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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Creating Spaces for Connection

Many people would not believe me if I told them that I’m an introvert. If I didn’t know myself well enough I wouldn’t believe it either! Haha! How is that dude who can speak energetically on stage, strike random conversations with strangers, and sing with total abandon be an introvert? I know, I’m surprised myself!

From grade school going to high school I was well-known for being that gentle, quiet, and sometimes quirky kid in the corner. It was the perfect place where I wouldn’t draw attention to myself. Speaking in front of the class terrified me so much that I would involuntarily shake in my seat (It’s a miracle I didn’t pee my pants!). I only have select friends growing up so when they’re off to somewhere else I’m left with my rich inner world to keep me company. Being alone does not bother me much. My weekend activities would usually rotate around reading books, playing video games, and building amazing chair forts. Being alone is great because you can just be yourself around yourself without worry.

“Aww, you’re so shy! Do you want cake?” or “Vin, meet Mark, you can be friends with him!” were some of the things that the friends and colleagues of my parents would say to me when I was a kid to get me out of my shell. Did I get some of that cake? OH YES, I DID! – Was I able to make friends with Mark? Only for a while.

Getting to know myself was easier for me than letting my walls down and giving others an opportunity to get to know me. I craved something deeper. I didn’t realize back then that the more I kept to myself, the more isolated I became, and loneliness would get to me as I am always stuck in my head. My teachers warned my parents that my behavior could be an early sign of depression. I didn’t know how to make sense of that back then. Connecting with others was a real struggle for me.

Vulnerability

Life loses its meaning without other people.

As human beings, we are not only rational beings but emotional ones as well. We become fully alive when we have shared experiences with each other and being able to experience feelings such as pain, joy, sadness, grief, hope, and love are some of life’s greatest gifts. Death could mean being void of all these things.

Connection is what gives purpose and meaning to our lives. True connection with others will not happen if you want to remain hidden. Coming out of your hiding place can be terrifying because it makes you vulnerable to whatever you’re hiding from and telling them the truth of where you are – “I’m here! I’m scared but I’m here! I’m here!”

Vulnerability is not a weakness. Brené Brown, in her book Daring Greatly says “Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness… Our willingness to own and engage with our vulnerability determines the depth of our courage and the clarity of our purpose; the level to which we protect ourselves from being vulnerable is a measure of our fear and disconnection.” The more we share, the more we connect, in reverse, the more we withhold ourselves from others, the more we disconnect.

The journey of unhiding was difficult for me. To let other people in and at the same time giving them a part of yourself, being vulnerable in sharing my story. The most challenging part about it was finding the right safe people to share it with. The path of vulnerability led me to find a home in a community whose members has the capacity to be patient with me when I’m in hiding, meet me where I am and even run after me when I’ve gone away, accept my flaws as they are, and love me fully especially at times when I don’t feel worthy of love.

They would listen not only to the perfect version of my story that I have carefully crafted to hide behind but also to the unedited, raw, and messy story of my struggle. I was provided with a free space where I can recreate myself, make mistakes, and breathe until I can finally stand on my own. It took many years of hard work but whatever disconnect I was in, turned into multiple lines of connection I didn’t expect to have.

Create a Space

I was at a wedding reception when my phone rang in my pocket. I immediately went outside the banquet hall to receive a call that would shake up my life.

“Hello Kalvin, the leaders have been discerning this at length” ate Kathy (we dearly call her “ate” /ah-te/ – older sister) said, “We’d like to invite you to be part of the core as the Connect Ministry Head.”

“What? Connect Ministry? Me? Are you serious?” I replied in disbelief, thinking it was a joke as I heard her laugh at my reaction at the other end of the line. After getting over the initial moment of shock, I told her I needed to think about it.

I said yes. Even if I felt like I wasn’t the right fit, and even if I didn’t see myself functioning properly in that role, I went for it because I trusted the people who saw it in me. From being the disconnected one who found a safe place, a home; Now, I’m the one trying to bring people home, making a room for them, and creating a free space where they can nest in and grow.

Creating space can be hard work, it takes a sincere welcoming heart, an openness to change, and eyes that see beyond imperfection. Starting out can be a little uncomfortable as you allow others to become fully alive by being themselves even if it gets gross and stinky sometimes. Letting people take their garbage out by helping them tell their stories and share their experiences. Sharing your space is a great gift especially when you finally see them begin to stand on their own.

When you create a space for someone, oftentimes, they will create a space for you too. Sometimes people will just pass by and some special few will make a home there forever. The hardest but necessary thing when letting people in is to accept and know that there will come a time that you will have to let them go so they can grow. If we hold on for too long or too tight we end up imprisoning them rather than creating a free space for them to live. The same applies for you too.

 Connect

We are all invited to create spaces for connection. The world we’re living in now is in so much disconnect even if there are so many advances in social media where the attempts at bridging gaps ends up building more gaps. There’s a current trend where many people are content to be in hiding afraid of wanting to be found or seen because they don’t want to be labelled soft, different, weak.

The world needs you, the real you. The world needs your story of struggle, joy, sadness, grief, hope, and love – this is what makes us human, this is what makes us strong and it binds us together. Are you in hiding? Are you searching for a safe space? Or are you the one leading people home? We are all invited to create spaces for connection so we can fully live. 

 

 

 

For my first post, my heartfelt gratitude goes out to:

“Forest lady / editor / friend forever” for believing in me more than I believed in myself.

“Friend wearing a scratched silver watch” for giving me the right amount of nudge to get me started.

Art (c) Grant Snider [http://www.incidentalcomics.com/]

 

You’re welcome to stay in my space. Stay tuned for more!


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