Thursday, 31 May 2012

Don't sweat the small stuff - it's all small stuff

I haven't finished reading this book but it taught me a lot of things. There are simple things that I make complicated. I want to share a story, something that I can't believe happened. Thanks for the Divine intervention. Here goes: My son's classmate invited him and my other son Lex for a birthday celebration. I was on leave one day and the mother also mentioned it to me when we met in school but the celebration is only 2 days away. Since we didn't had the time to buy a gift, Lito just got whatever he can find in a toy store in downtown. He got him an Avengers set of Matchbox (Iron Man, Captain America and another one). We usually decide which one is good for the celebrator but it didn't happen for Kyle's friend. On the actual birthday, they went to a playplace and then ate at McDonald's. Then they gave the gifts. Upon opening of the gift, the mother told Kyle "I was disappointed with your gift". Kyle told me later that she told him "I invited 2 of you and that's your only gift?". My nanny told me that Kyle cried and it looked like she is scolding Kyle. She was on the other side of the room, putting Lex jacket on. Upon hearing the story and imagining how Kyle felt, I got pissed. Lito wanted to talk to the mother so I gave her number. He was not able to contact the mother but talked to the father instead and told him what happened. The father only said "No worries, I will handle it."

The next day, Kyle told me that his classmate told him that they cannot be friends anymore. I told him it's going to be okay. I realized how different it is here where in the Philippines, parents give grandiose parties without expecting expensive gifts. She only treated my sons to a playplace and McDonald's and thinks she can demand the gifts she wanted to get. I was also disappointed because Kyle said they were having real fun, the celebrator was very happy. But it was ruined by unnecessary remarks. Some people go after material things rather than the real joy that their children wanted.

We met this family again on my nanny's wedding. She was invited because she presented her daughter to be one of the flower girls. First on the rehearsal day, I already saw her in the parking lot and then while were waiting inside the church. I was playing the iPad and she approached me and said "Hi" I said "Hi" too but continued playing, my eyes glued to the iPad. She started talking but all she got was cold shoulder because she didn't even bother to apologize to her being rude to my kid. I knew she noticed it because when she saw another acquaintance, she talked to her instead. On the way home from the rehearsal, we saw them in a phone booth, maybe calling the husband to fetch them.

On the wedding day, because of the nice gown and being made up, I was high-spirited and didn't want to ruin my day. It's Annabel's day and I just wanted to enjoy too. I talked to her, in long sentences and not just nodding haha. I even commented on her daughter being cute and brave to walk the aisle without her. I thought about breaking down the walls, and whatever it was that hurt me, I'll just melt it by being nice to her. She asked us if she can ride with us going to the Reception and I told her, there's only one seat left because we have another friend coming with us. I guess she was able to find a ride because I saw her in the Reception Hall. We talked more while the program is going on and while lining up for the photobooth.

The dinner was superb but the program was long so the kids had to sleep and skip dinner. Lito wanted to leave but I told him we will just finish the speeches (and the dessert LOL!). When finally it was time to go, Lito asked me to ask the Mother to ride with us going home. I didn't have second thoughts and I felt that it was the right thing to do. Like a candle, the barriers melted away when I approached her and told her if they didn't have a ride yet, they can ride with us. She asked if we were going at that time and then she readied her daughter who was also sleepy. Her smile at that time meant a lot to me. During the ride home, we talked again like before, talking about the Koreanovelas and struggling in Canada as immigrants. When they got off, she was very thankful. She also told me that she is thankful because if not for Kyle, she will not meet Annabel and her daughter will not become a flower girl. I hoped that she will realize that what we did to her that night doesn't match any expensive gifts anyone could give.

Richard Carlson (author of Don't sweat the small stuff) enumerated strategies to simple ways to keep little things from taking over your life and it included this:

"Choose being kind over being right." We are given many opportunities to choose between being kind and being right. You have chances to point out to some one their mistakes, things they could or should have done differently, ways they can improve. You have chances to "correct" people, we have the tendency to put others down, correct them and tell them we are right. Our ego mistakenly believes that if we point out how someone else is wrong, we are right and we feel better.

But our heart says the opposite. It knows it's impossible to feel better at the expense of someone else. When your goal is to build people up, to make them feel better, to share in their joy, you too reap the rewards of their positive feelings. What you want is a peaceful interaction where all parties leave feeling good. You resist being right and choose kindness because you'll have a peaceful feeling within.

Richard warned not to confuse this strategy with being a wimp, or not standing up for what you believe in. He is not suggesting that it's not okay for you to be right - only that you insist on being right, there is a price to pay - your inner peace. In order to be a person filled with equanimity, choose kindness over being right. God will be smiling each time you do.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Running with the Giants - a book review

I've been reading so many books but this is my very first time to write something about a book (in my blog and voluntarily, I remember the countless book reports I did). It's my dream to write my own book and I wanted to write something like this - a book about God, something that inspires and give practical tips about life in general without the use of highfalutin words.

The full Title of the book is "Running with the Giants - What Old Testament Heroes want you to know about Life and Leadership". John Maxwell is a best selling author of leadership books. His readers are mostly of management calibre and those who are called to become leaders. I was hesitant to read his books at first because I thought it doesn't apply to me because I didn't have a "position" anywhere. But I was wrong, his writing style is so good that you will feel that he is talking to you face to face without qualms, as if he is not a John Maxwell. God used him to help readers like me understand and face life's challenges and win them. I can't wait for my children to read this book.

First, the size of the book is so small. It's hard bound but so handy that it's easy to bring anywhere and put in a bag. Second, the words John used were simple but full of impact. Inspiring and makes you feel excited every time you will move on to the next chapter. It's like reading a novel but with the biblical truth. I want to put here what the giants gave as words of encouragement to us. Honestly speaking, I didn't know some of the bible characters here until I read this book. You could also use some browsing in your old testament. Be inspired!

Noah - "One person can make a difference"
Esther - "God has a place for you"
Joseph - "Don't give up on your dreams"
Moses - "Live in the faith zone, not in the safe zone"
Rebekah - "Give generously to others"
Abraham - "God always does the right thing"
Nehemiah - "No problem is too big when you have help"
The Servant Girl (Naaman's) - "One small act can make a big difference"
David - "You can overcome the limitations others put on you"
Jonathan - "Strengthen a leader and save a nation"

As I am writing this, I browsed the book again for the Discussion Guide and reflection portion. The book can be a guide to a bible study and the practical application of the lessons learned are endless. If you could get a copy or borrow from the Library, please do so and start reading. As Pat Williams (SVP, The Orlando Magic, NBA) said "This book is to be read, savored, applied and then shared with others."

God bless John C. Maxwell and the readers of this book. Be blessed!

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Congratulations Annabel and Ralph

Our dear friend and the second mom to my children got married today. It's a festive atmosphere and we are all looking good. My kids are wearing formal attire. Here are some of our pictures:

The wedding reception was fun. Aloysius was also formal during dinner, he liked the food and even tried the champagne and the red wine. He was acting like a little grown up, listening to the speeches and watching intently at the performers. I'm so proud of my first born in his first formal event.

To the new Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Francis Calaguas - Welcome to the complicated and challenging world of marriage. May God be with you always :)

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Mother's day is different every year

Mother's Day should not be the only day to appreciate and greet our mothers. Everyday is an opportunity to thank them for bearing you, taking care of you and your children. Kiss and hug them often and most of all, thank God for them so that they will always be blessed and loved. Praise God for all mothers!

My kids surprised me with their cards. Here's one from Aloysius, I was so touched by his message, our travels (and shopping) paid off...hahaha!

"Dear Mom,
Thank you for doing the great things you did to me. Thank you for helping me with my homework when I needed help. Thank you for giving me what I need when you go shopping. Thank you for cooking for me when I need to eat so I would have something to eat. Thank you for taking me to new places and making me see the awesome tourist attractions like in Washington DC, when I got to see Abraham Lincoln. I like how you sent the postcards from those different places. Thank you for everything. I hope you enjoy this Sunday. Happy Mother's Day!"

Here's the card from Kyle and the picture I took when the big flowers bloomed. Both he and I are fond of flowers, that's why his card is full of them:

Here's my message to all moms:
Happy Mother's day to all mothers..reminisce the moment you first became a mom, the first cry of your baby who changed your life eversince. Hats off to you for bearing that pain in giving birth and bearing the pain that motherhood brings. There is also fullness and joy in being a mom. The journey is exciting. I love being a mom. Three times a lady.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Tulips at High Park

Spring is not complete without going to High Park. Although we missed the full-bloom Cherry Blossoms this year, it was still worthwhile to visit our favorite park during Spring. This time we see tulips in bloom.
Some of the remnants of the late-bloomers "Cherry Blossoms"

Play Dough Recipe

I used to buy Play Doh tubs for my kids, but they easily harden and I realized that I'm just wasting money on them. It's true that kids needs to develop motor skills and one of the ways to prepare the children in writing is by playing 'dough'. I was in the middle of Spring Cleaning and I got this piece of paper from the school that contained the recipe for a home made 'play dough'. Now my kids can play it anytime without me spending too much. Play Dough Recipe Ingredients: 1 cup flour 1 Tbsp oil 1 cup water 1/2 cup salt 2 tsp cream of tartar food colouring Procedure: 1. Combine ingredients in sauce pan. 2. Stir constantly over medium heat until mixture forms into a ball. 3. Remove from pan, knead and let cool before covering.