Thursday, December 22, 2011


Around the Block
Canon 40D

What bright light.  

The sunlight reflecting on the broken street lamp harasses me with its attacking shimmer as I sit and write at our kitchen table.  I squint at its sharpness.  It's like the emergency beacon of a lighthouse signaling for help, I imagine.  It’s been broken, half-open for some time now, this glass casing dangling from it’s black foundation roofing.  High up there it threatens day and night to fall down on pedestrians.  But not just yet.  Maybe never.  For now it reflects the sunbeams.  


Oh, how I’ve missed you.  I’ve missed you so much that I’ve gone momentarily insane.  Crazy with very real fears that I called 911 at midnight two nights ago.  I described the pain to the operator and said it started as a strange stomach pain and I felt it slowly rising in my belly towards my chest.  The website didn’t help as there were too many “signs” to look out for in case of the dreaded heart...I don't even want to say it.  The calm yet urgent voice of the dispatcher and the many questions he asked made the thumping in my chest go faster.  In less than fifteen minutes - but felt longer in my worried state - the ambulance arrived.  

Recall: My DH is ushering the paramedics in but not before tidying up a little bit.  Discarded toys on the floor, too many glasses of water and candy wrappers on the living room table.  He looks relaxed in his just awakened state.  My DS who stayed up with me, isn’t as calm.  The paramedics, a man and a woman, both white, find me seated on the leather couch.  I am weak from worry.  It is the holidays after all, says Allen who is clearly gay and the lead guy in this quick check.  Final diagnosis:  Indigestion at best, anxiety attack at worse.   Allen is now inquiring about the decor and the mirrors by the entrance.  He is also clearly interested in my DH more than his patient.  The lady who didn’t introduce herself, is taking off the wires from the sticky thingies on my ankles and wrists after monitoring me for a few minutes.  “Your heart and blood pressure are looking beautiful.”  I wonder about her choice of words.  Beautiful blood pressure.  Hmmm...odd.  I beam a little just the same.  “It may even be better than mine!” she says smiling.  She did look overweight, and Allen was too, but much slimmer than her.  DH and Allen are chatting about feng shui now.  He lives in a condo and didn’t have to worry about that, he intimates to DH.  TMI, Allen.  TMI, I thought.

I am much calmer now having been told my vital signs are "beautiful" and listening both amused and annoyed at Allen.  He gives me the option to go with them to the hospital for a fuller check or to see my doctor the soonest possible.  I choose the latter and sign the pink release forms that he hands over to me on a brown clipboard.  He gives me the standard words of advice: relax, observe, etcetera then goes on to lecture me about my tight pants.  I just changed from my frumpy jammies to decent blue jeans just in case I needed to be whisked away.  “Wear something more comfortable, Cathreen.  Sweat pants or pajamas.  Your jeans are way too tight.”  I think he just told me I was way too fat in so many words.  He goes back to chatting up my DH about the wooden horse by the door now.  We say our thanks and goodbyes.  I walk up the stairs, one slow step in front of the other with my DH and DS behind me.

Single Leaf
Canon 40D
Winter 2009

This is me.  
The nine-out-of-ten on the Worry Wart Scale me.  I dared my DH to be honest during our after-dinner couple time on the couch last night.  “So you think I’m a worrier?  On a scale of 1 to 10, where am I?”  He didn’t even skip a beat.  "Nine."  NINE.  That’s almost a perfect 10, I thought.  “Oh, a bump.  Could it be cancer..."  He's mimicking me now.  "Oh, my hands are pale..." and he looks anxiously at his hands like I do when I don’t feel like myself and does short, deep breaths.  We both laugh.  His in amusement.  Me in more worry.  I’m a 9.  Damn.  And I thought I was the calm one.  But then again, that’s his opinion. 

This brings me back to my University years in Diliman when Cynthia, my friend from freshman year in HRA school tells me the same thing while we are on the Ikot jeep to our next class.  I was sharing something I don't even remember anymore.  “Chiquita, you are such a worry wart.”  Probinsiyana me didn’t even know what "worry wart" meant.  She was laughing when she said this so I thought it was a joke.  I think I laughed along with her.  Just going along.  I did a lot of these going alongs when I was younger.

Back to the writing exercise.  Keep the hand moving.  This is me.  Broken open and emptied to my present life.  Wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend.  Lover.  Hater.  Distant.  I’ve become what I once feared.  Ordinary.  Or so I feel.  The Ordinary Woman.  Feared it and longed for it at different times in my life.  Always, always the dichotomy.  My friend Jeannie once told me “The duality of good and evil shows very strong in your cards.  The fight between angel and demon, light and dark.  Do or don’t.  It’s almost two people in one.”  Doesn’t everyone feel this way?  I thought.  Jeannie, the archeologist.  No, not archeologist, arthritic...architect...what was it...that study of sun signs and the stars and moon...astrologist/numerologist!  And I am dumb again.  My diploma from the State U, my Iskolar Ng Bayan status, my 99+ on the NCEE and all my accomplishments combined are nothing now.  They look good on paper.  They are useless in real life.  In this lifelong search for authentic living. 

Snowy Branches
Canon 40D
Winter 2010

I am broken open.  
I am both my best accomplishment and my greatest failure.  I love with all my arms, hands, fingers, my very breath and then I hate with all my entrails, loins, blood boiling.  Overflowing.  I see everything and nothing.  I walk my morning walks for days, weeks, giving and sharing with my all my heart and then one day I am comatose on the coach, in hiding, eyes closed to the shimmering, twinkling light of the Christmas tree.  I stay this way for too many hours, withdrawn into this shell of emptiness.  Homesickness.

Hello, Winter Solstice.  I see you.  I feel you.  I honor this hell that arises with you in me.  I see me.  Finally.  I’m free from the darned, doomed, devil-hold.  How did I get here?  I refrain from analysis.  No more paralysis.  I look and listen instead.  It.Just.Imperfectly.Is.

I see you.  More beautifully, openly, crystal-clearly, your glass prism showing off all colors no longer the imitation Nescafe glass of your younger days but a crystal cut and formed by the tender hands of your later years.  I take all of you only because I take all of me, too.  The emptying of the shoulds and shouldn’ts.  It feels good to walk again.  In the sunlight.  To live and breath in the open space and wet grass and brown mud and cold air.  

To have died and live again.
I’m new to hearing this piece of music that goes la, dee, dum, dee, daaa today and bom, boomb, booom, crashhhh the next.

I’m gripping the red Parker pen too hard again.  I’m feeling my fingers, hand, right arm getting strained.  I loosen my grip, loosen my hold.  I loosen control over how this should be.  I hear Natalie's voice: Keep your hand moving.  I hear the others, too.  Still there sitting by the rafters, speaking four different languages - Filipino, English, Cebuano and one that I’m not familiar with.  The one I don’t recognize is pure venom, vile and vulgar with its grunts and pfffts and eye-rolling hisses.  My heart races again.  Is this another anxiety attack coming on?  No.  I decide it is adrenaline pumping in my veins from the fresh morning walk in the sun earlier today.  I embrace the discomfort slowly growing in my chest.  I choose excitement.  Over being reborn to this new day.  Again, born in Manila, Davao, Pasig, Makati, Toronto.  Born in every city I’ve ever lived.  Born in every home, fifteen as of last count, I’ve grown up in.  If and only if I allow it to happen.  I am brand new, brewed fresh daily just like the Tim Hortons coffee advert proudly says on the radio.

The voices of urgent chores are getting louder now - the gift-buying, the clothes exchanging, the birthday greeting, Xmas dessert-making - all still undone.  I gently, tenderly loose the voice.  Always gently and tenderly.  I notice the hard light that shimmered earlier reflected on the broken lamp light casing is gone.  The sun has moved higher in the blue, cloud-smeared sky.  It has been fifteen minutes since I began writing my heart out on this beloved Moleskine notebook.  I feel good.  And tired.  Full.  And  Empty.  Spent.  And Energized.

I feel.  Light.

Free Flight/Lamp Light
Canon 40D
Winter 2008

Courage in creativity,

Monday, December 19, 2011

i even took notes!

You know the saying "When the student is ready..."?

For my fellow left-brain leaning, excuse-riddled (no time/no resources/no support/no fill-in-your-favorite-cop-out-story) closeted, recovering creative out there, this I lovingly and wholeheartedly dedicate to you.  And me.  

And she appears...go, Master Brene Brown.

I was so riveted, I took notes this time around.

I first saw this talk about a year ago, when it first came out.  It made the rounds of my favorite bloggers and for some reason, it didn't really connect.  Or maybe it did.  But I forget.

Anyway, it's such a beautiful message that I'm posting it here so I can have access to it again and again, especially during those days - like todays - when I'm feeling down and blues-y and crying over a text message from my mom all the way from Manila, right there in the middle of Aisle 7 of Walmart while shopping for Chocolate Mice ingredients for Oona's class party.

And yes, bravely admitting vulnerability: I'm embarrassed by it which is why I've chosen to be quiet and reclusive these past few weeks.

Why are you down when it's the holidays?  You should be happy!
Why are you down when you're so blessed with so many things and people and experiences?  You should be grateful!
Why are you down when you're ______ and _______ and _______?  You should be ________!

All shameful, guilt-ridden and utterly useless thoughts.  But they're there.  And they're dark.  And they're inner recordings from voices beyond time and space that I've been once taught to hold in, keep hidden, ignored.

Echos of voices that need to go now.  But only if I let them go with grace and with dignity.  And yes, with vulnerability.

Yes, I did the ugly-cry in Walmart last night.
Yes, I feel so kawawa and homesick that I have to take naps in the middle of the day from being so low-batt.
Yes, I go into emotional eating binges late at night, vanilla cupcakes being my favorite, when I feel like I can't take the heartache anymore.

Yes, I spoke with my mom and dad today and they said all the right things and we cried together and it's all better again.  For now.

Hello, vulnerability, my dear old friend.  I've missed you so.

So, you go Dr. Brene with your measuring stick.  :)  Thank you so much for sharing your wholehearted findings with me.

Courage in creativity,

Monday, December 12, 2011

The five regrets

The five regrets

I don't wish this
on you
on me
on anybody.

May we all live our lives without these regrets.



Morning. In 3's.

"7 o'clock by my window"/Dec2011
I found out that there weren't too many limitations, 
if I did it my way. 
- Johnny Cash

6:30AM.  Snooze 1.  6:40AM.  Snooze 2.  6:50AM.  Get-up 3.  Chug water.  Wash face.  Brush teeth.  Moisturize.  Robe-up.  Pocket iPhone.  Turn on kids’ rooms light.  Bring water bottle.  7:10.  Turn on lights in hall.  In living room.  In kitchen.  Make coffee.  Choose cappuccino.  Add brown sugar.  Clear dining table.  Put toys away.   7:20.  Set journal.  10-minute timed writing.  Go.  Keep hand moving.  Sip coffee.  Write.  Sip.  Write.  7:31.  Tinker with Twitter.  Upload photo.  Tweet about writing exercise.  Fail to upload.  Later.  7:35.  Go back upstairs.   Wake up J.  Wake up kids.  Quick back rubs.    Ask for help.  “Make sure you get up already, hun.”  “Ok, hun.”  “You up?”  “Yes.”  “You sure?”  “Yes.”  Go back to kids’ rooms.   “Wake up, guys!  It’s 7:45!”  Go back down.  Review food requests.  Shrimpy rice for Kid2 and Kid3.  Beef tapa rice for Kid1.  Strawberry Choco sand for 2.  Chicken baloney w/ cheese for 1.  Green apple slices w/ choco dip for 3.  Fruit cup for K1.   Wash strawberries.  Wash blueberries.  Spray with veggie wash.  Let sit.  Crack 6 eggs.  Add milk.  Season.  Scramble.   Get pancake mix.  Add milk.  Crush half an oreo in batter.  Fry. “Guys, it’s 8!"  K1 is first.  “I don’t want to eat yet, Mom.  A little later please.”  Request for cereal.  I make him scrambled rice instead.   8:15AM.  Serve scrambled eggs.  Serve pancake.  Put cereal boxes on the table.  Alpha Bits for K3.  Cinammon Toast Crunch for K1 and K2.   Heat left-over rice.  Add sweet and sour shrimp.  Heat tapa.  Pack in thermos.  8:25AM.  Set aside.  Make sandwiches.  Remember to make self toast.  12 grain.  Take one bite.  Forget about it.  “Help me pack the water, Oona.”  “I’m getting a fruit cup, Mommy.”  “Go ahead, honey.  No need to tell me.  Hurry.”  Pack lunch bags.  K1, K2, K3.  “I’m leaving, Mom.”  “Take your sister with you, Sol.”  “Aw, do I have to?”  “Take care of each other, Sol.”  “Oh, okay.  Let’s go, Oona!”  8:30AM.  “Where’s my kiss?!”  Smooch K1.  Smooch K2.  “Joshim,!?”  Comes down.  Slowly.   "I was brushing, Mom."  Calm and relaxed.  Socks in hand.  “Joshim, hurry!  1!  2…2 and a half...”  Grab socks from tiny hands.  “Mom, did you know that my race car is ready for painting…”  Act interested.  I'm not. Help put on socks.  “Mom, is Baba dropping me?”  Help with jacket.  “Listen, Joshim, find your spider gloves and black touk okay?”  Remind him a second time.  “Ok, mom.”  Help with vest.  “Not that one, Mom.  I want the matching one.”  Grab matching one.  Help with touk.  Help with gloves.  8:37AM. 
My "Elephan3" playing on the carpet
Grab boots from outside.  Help with shoes.  “Joshim, close the door, I’m freezing!”  J starts car.  Help with bag.  “Chapstick. Put some on, ok?”  “Ok, mom.”  Smooch 3.  8:40AM.  “I love you.  Now hurry!”  “Bye, Mom.”  “Bye, honey.“  J winks.  I’ll be back, hun.  Be ready to drop me at work.”  Wave goodbye.  Throw flying kisses.  Close front door.  And breathe.  See shoes and slippers all over.  See big mess in kitchen.  Big breath.  Straighten mess.  Bigger breath.  Take in the quiet.  1…2…3.  Rinse and repeat.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

time out!

Time out!!!

Everyday Art, 6Dec11
on my kitchen table
 iShake on iPhoto

When I was a little girl in Davao City, I remember this game we played almost everyday.  It was called 'taya' which means 'it'.  It was our local version of "Tag".  I remember running like the wild wind while my heart beat like a fiesta drum. Beads of sweat would form on the top of my lip and then pour down my red face in the humid heat.  No cares, no worries, except needing to run from the 'taya' whose sole purpose in life at that very moment was to tag you.  Then you were 'it'.  I remember loving and hating this game.  For one thing, I didn't like running much.  Two, I hated getting chased by the bigger, faster and rougher boys.  Their tags hurt noh!  I was one of the slower runners so I'd always get tagged.  So I learned to yell "Time out!  Time ooooout!" when I was either too tired or just plain annoyed.  Time outs were allowed as long as you declared it.  Sometimes the taya listened.  Sometimes they didn't.  What mattered was I got to stop running.  I got to rest.  I was able to catch my breath. 

A few decades later and a new kind of running is going on.  Not the kind where one hits the pavement with her red Nikes but the going and going at this thing called life.  Not the endorphin high running but rather a beat-up, don't-stop-now because there are calls to make, shopping to do, photos to edit, cleaning to finish, school meetings to attend, meals to make, blah-blah-blah...and that all too familiar to-hell-with-all-of-it feeling at the end of the day.  No stopping.  No time outs.  Not allowed.  Or so I thought.   

When did I begin thinking this way?  When did I begin forgetting that time-outs are allowed?  I don't know exactly.  But what I know is that at a certain point in my life I just forgot.  I bought into the DIY Corp and all of it too.  I remember thinking how utterly stupid the word "relax" was when I heard Jack say it to me.  It sounded so stupid that I had to stop momentarily and give him the are-you-out-of-your-mind Cruella Deville face and barking ---

"What do you mean 'relax'?  What the heck is that?  Who has time for that?!?" I snapped at the poor guy who was only trying to help.  (Sorry, honey.  Lesson learned.)

This twisted amnesia lasted longer than it should have.  I went on like this until Life found a brilliant way to give me its brand of time out.  Too many sore throats and another run-down, flu-like symptom and I'm coughing again?  Life forced me to shut-down and shut-up.  Literally.  Instead of listen, true to Chiqui-form, I fought at the absurdity of it all.  I cursed the gods of health and wellness for abandoning me yet again.  Hated and hated some more.  It was self-directed.  On the outside I put up a brave front.  "I am supermom.  Hear me roar!"  I squeaked instead, my throat too raw and painful for anything else.

I was faced with the toughest illness of them all:  falling flat on my face out of love with myself and the whole world.  I started hating myself and with that my husband and family, my friends, my whole life.  One very smart woman confessed this: It's when I pamper myself that I feel least selfish, righteous and plain evil.

Whatever it's called, I'm yelling "time out!".  I choose it for myself.  I choose it for my family and friends who deserve a whole, calm and non-evil me.

And all together now...relaaaaaaaax.  It's allowed.  ;)

My Top 10 "Just Relax" To Do's:

1.  Coffee shop Me-Time to just write and people-watch and write some more.
2.  Bookstore browsing.  Hello, Chapters and Indigo. 
3.  Meet-up with TNKs Tunay Na Kaibigan/True=Real=Warm Friends in warm places like Spoon and Fork. ;)  (Hello, sisterhood!)
4.  Take my tiny pet camera for a walk with me and snap at anything and everything.
5.  Drive without a destination in mind and trust Intuition to guide me.  I've found some of the best views (and surprise visits with friends!) this way.
6.  Draw.  Sing.  Write and create art.  Just because.
7.  Call a friend.  Touch-base with the sacred agenda of supportive sharing.  I find that sisters need this.  A lot.  (Set a time, say 10-15 guided by intuition on this one, to not let it ran overtime and it ends up with just gossip and nonsense).  
8.  Go to Walmart.  Browse about.  And maybe get a few basic items...for oneself!
9.  Brand New: Overnight Niagara Get-Aways (there's lots on Living Deals that are oh-so-affordable!) and bond with The Man.
10.  Sit down to watch one episode...okay, two tops! of Modern Family, Two Broke Girls or X-Factor and not feel guilty about it.

***Thanks and big LOVE go to Sylvie for our Time Out session at Second Cup last night.  What a relaxing and fun evening.  I am recharged!  Let's get more of that exquisite Butter Tart next time!  xox, Chiqui

Psssst....hey, hottie!

Can I let you in on a secret?

Ohhh...kay, it's a secret that can be shared with other cool, creative, kindred spirits like you and I.

You ready?  It's called The Spark Kit.


I dove into the first chapter full-on this morning.  So far I'm loving what I'm seeing...hearing...feeling.  Danielle Laporte is whitehot spot-on and aligned with my thoughts on creativity, on courage, on living more authentically.  Let's dive into it together.

I'm a big believer of continuous learning.  Yes, there are days - many days - when I stumble and forget the lessons.  At times by circumstance, always by choice.  One of my favorite quotes from Zig Ziglar is this:  People often say that motivation doesn't last.  Well, neither does bathing - that's why we recommend it daily.  Wapow!  So true. 

Learn and relearn.  Rinse and repeat.  If there's anything my Daday taught me, it's to be open to learning at any age.

I'll be writing a more in-depth review in the coming days as I go along with the program.

I just love finding teachers, especially the kind that rock the mompreneurship!

See you later, sparkles!


Monday, December 5, 2011

what i've learned from the 100songs project

my top 3 of the first 20:

#3...because it's filled with happy pics of my happy loves! :)

#2...because it proves to me that even when down in the dark pit, one can still create. ;)

#1...because i love brave and imperfect beginnings. ^_^

my top 3 learnings from the first quarter of the 100songs:

1.  Fail faster.*

I said I would do one imperfect song a day.  Then it became one every two days.  Then once a week.  Now I don't even know how long it's been since the last one...three weeks!  Failure in sticking with the original plan.  Used to be I'd be all mopy and discouraged.  Now I've learned to be more forgiving, ache a little, justify a bit and move on.  Post something, anything, in this case my very first brave video blog (eeek!) and then rinse and repeat!  The important and most sacred thing is to start, fail and begin again.  And again.

2.  Care not. 

Of course, I'm still human the last time I checked and I do care how I come across/sound/look, etc.  But sometimes, I go back to the old habit of "Perfect na ba siya?"  Of course that never happens so the stuckness syndrome returns.  This is a take on the Zen Buddhist teaching of "non-attachment".  If it's good today, okay!  If it isn't, okay!  Either way, keep singing/writing/sharing/being.  And to remember my first intention always:  I do this because I love this.  Period.  And go.

3.  Put out.

I heard one of my favorite authors just say this:  "Authentic sharing is magnetic."  Put it all out there.  Sure, we don't need to show the cellulite-y thighs or the stretch marks in our bellies - though I know some women and men who do that and it's all good.  I'm (re)learning about vulnerability in sharing, my ever and always life lesson...hello!   It's the best lesson and the hardest one.  The one that opens us the most.

And always, thank YOU my dear kindred spirit, for dropping by!

Courage in Creativity,

*Thanks, Coach Julie Fleming, for this one.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

happy now?

After the morning rush…

I saw it in the mirror.  Just after I closed the front door.  After I waved goodbye and threw flying kisses at them as they drove out to their day.  I saw it all - the unwashed hair indisarray, straightened by me two days ago and now looking fried; the tired, puffy face with pale skin from lack of sunshine, the six year old apron stained in a hundred places with the front pocket torn in the top right corner.

Another dream-come-true, eh?  Another Probinsiyana Makes It Abroad story, yeah? 
Away, far, far away from the pungent smells.  Away from third world strife.  Another
dream board completed, check box ticked, To-Do List xʼd.  And aaamen.

Happy now?

I hear it in the humming of the 6 ft refrigerator.  The one like Tita Ellenʼs with the water and ice dispensers.  Iʼve dreamed of having a fridge like that ever since that
summer vacation.  We were invited to my aunt's home at the Subicʼs naval base.  I was in highschool.  It was always filled with imported strawberries and shiny Macintosh apples and oh, cream cheese!  Philadelphia Cream Cheese that we almost always never had enough of in our little island in the south.

Donʼt get me wrong.  Please know that I loved Davao City.  I still do.  I once fantasized about going back home to my pearl in the South, just at the height of my very successful career when it's all shiny up front yet bleeding guts and gore from the just
behind the scenes.

Davao, a place of many awakenings for me.  This is where I woke up to nature, to the coconut groves.  This is where I was exposed to all kinds of music from the happiest - Mom and Dadʼs Salsa days, to the saddest Imelda Papin ditties and her tears on TV...)  This is where I woke up to art and swimming.  This is where I first fell in love with the sea.  I miss my ocean water so much, her warm embrace, her salty air, her
way of cleansing everything.

But everybody kept leaving.  Leaving for Manila.  Leaving for the U.S.  Leaving for a land of plenty.  Somewhere.  It was always somewhere.

And here I am in the Land of Somewhere.  Here I am in the great Land of Plenty - plenty of dishes to wash.  Plenty of mouths to feed their bowls of Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Kraft grilled cheese sandwiches to.  Plenty of laundry to wash and fold and sort that makes the whole house have that balikbayan-box smells.  Downy, the smell of the dream.  The smell of ʻabroadʼ.  Here.I.Am.

Happy now?

I remember sitting at the bottom of a large makeshift stage.  Front row.  Bamboo chairs in the middle of the basketball court.  I was six.  My nanny, Manang Alma right there beside me with her big, expectant smile and missing teeth.  I remember seeing singer after singer in their bright colored sundresses with bright, big flowers, always with flowers for the girls and shiny, sparkly, half unbuttoned shirts or crisp barong tagalog for the men.  They took the stage accompanied only by a singular electric guitar that was amplified way too loudly.  I remember the male and female announcers with their broken English and Visayan accents which I had.  “Isnʼt it a meera-col...thank God for a meera-col...!” was how I sang it, the Stylisticsʼs song "Miracle" which my Tita Myrna said I loved as a child.  I remember clapping wildly after each song and imagining me in my flowery dress, me...not them, up there in the center holding the microphone.

Fast-forward twenty years later and I am up there.  Up where the keg lights burn bright, where the crowds cheer the loudest and where the stream of flowers is unending.  I left a lot of flowers in my day.  There was just too many to hold.)  I am energized, ecstatic, elated beyond words.  But only while the lights blazed.  They always got turned off. Always.  With the turning off of each spot goes the feeling of flight.  The bigger the venue, the bigger the crash.  I tried to find my salvation in books, boyfriends and booze. No.  Scratch the last one.  I was too probinsiyana, too prudish for boozing then.  Too scared and righteous to even try more than one glass to find my flight of freedom.

So I quit.  I quit that life thinking I was too good for it.  Truth be told I felt it was too good for me.  I chose to not break through the sound barrier and covered my pretty made-up face with a soft quilt and lay my perfectly salon-styled head of hair on a softer pillow.  I lay down to sleep for a decade. 

Happy now?

The stiffness in my limbs are almost unbearable now.  The ache in my heart too heavy to ignore.  I am beginning to wake up again.

Again, it calls, that unnamable yet undeniable It that beckons to all of us.  Like my once three year old child asking, no, telling me at the end of her favorite story “...again, mommy, read it all again.” 

Again, like the dawning of a new day, sun rising from the East.  Always from the East.  Always day after day.  Again.  Again.  Again.

Another dream please, It whispers.
Another mountain expedition, It teases.
Another bungee jump, deep sea dive into the unknown.

You want to soar again?  Feel the flight of freedom again?  Feel the hurt of too much game again?

Are you sure about this?  

The last voice is not from It, thatʼs for sure.  The gremlins have arrived, I see.

I donʼt know, I say to myself.  Iʼm not sure.  Let me take one more look in the mirror, my mirror on the wall, just in case Iʼve missed something...a smile...a feeling…of flying...soaring again...

Happy now?


With much love and the biggest thank you hugs to my girls for the power-nudge to go ahead and share this --- > Joyster, Oyingirl, Marojam and Crissy.  I love you, my sisterhood.  Creative mamas need sisters, too! 

Monday, November 28, 2011

My Girl Oona

I remember snow on the bare branches of the trees that lined the building back in 2002.  I walked down the hospital corridors with Jack by my side for support.  Mike's working the video cam, stopping with me every few minutes as each contraction gripped my big bowling ball belly.

She came in the late afternoon of the 28th, my girl.  All nine point six pounds of pure baby love with flared pink nostrils, pretty long fingers and chest heaving up and down as she breathed fast.  Even at birth, I knew and felt she was spirited and all-sprite.  My feisty one.

Oona Gabriella Zaynab was my first natural, drug-free birth. Sol, our eldest, was unnecessarily C-sectioned out of me in Manila (Makati Med) two years earlier.  :(

She had the sweetest, biggest and earliest smile, this one.  As it turns out, my sweetheart would have baby eczema, a very itchy and uncomfortable and sleep-depriving affliction, both for her and for me.

This was one of my best happy fake smiles during that time.  This was the beginning of post-partum nightmare for me.  The was the beginning of the process of getting broken.  Open.

Family, here in Toronto and back home in Manila, came to the rescue.  Shown here with my sister, Joey, when we visited and the beginning of a slow healing process for me.
My dearest Oona, your love for swings, for fun...for life itself showed me the way out.  You taught me this in your very special way, the Oonabella way. 

You embrace all of it - be it the songs you sing, the drawings, yes - even your brothers' Spiderman tatoos on your arm! - you are pure light, my darling girl.

"Mommy, Sol seid I smel like poo.  He even seid I am a baby.  Sol smells.  I love you Mommy.  I hate Sol." ~ Oona

And even in your hate - which we older folks know is really fierce love between siblings masked as rivalry - you make me love you more.  Because you are real.  Everything about you is real and raw and you.

You know what you want and you let everyone know it.

You saw this hairstyle in a flyer on a Thursday and got this haircut from Veronica the very next day.

You love to sing - "When I grow up, I want to be a singer just like Mommy..." and you do it with such courage and passion every.single.time.

You loved your Lucky Charms in the mornings and hated having your thick, unruly, buhaghag hair brushed before school by anyone.  Yes, even if I asked your hero and Babalove to do it.

You loved Aunt Badaw and still do with an Oonabella kind of mad biglove.  Big LAUGHS, too.

Oona Soaring, 2006

Oona Soaring, 2008
Oona Soaring, 2010

On this ninth year of your lush life, your sparkling existence, my sparkling child, I wish you nothing but more of YOU.  If there's just one thing I want you to remember, it is this:

You are perfect just the way you are. 

 And so are the two boys, your brothers, who you love to "hate" so much especially these days.


 I love you so much, my brave and beautiful birthday  girl, Oona.

May the Angels of Light guide and protect you always and all ways.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

020/100: the sweetest days

  020/100: the sweetest days i've found with you by chiquipineda 

"Through the Years
Written by Steve Dorff and Marty Panzer
Original Recording by Kenny Rogers.
Minus One Produced by Star Records for Charice "My Inspiration" Album

No infringement intended.
Please support the original artists.

Dedication : For Cora and Bert Pineda, just because.

Welcome to Song #20 of the 100i.m.perfect songs project!!!  My 20th recording!  YAY, ME.  And on to the good stuff ~

This song happens to be my mom and dad's theme song!  Sweet noh?  Married forty five (forty six?) years now.  Feel na feel nila yan - every word, every sentiment.  Kwento daw ng love story nila.

Makes me smile to think about my parents' love story.  You know how when you get to a certain age and you realize that everything...well, almost everything your mom and dad told you (especially the stuff you rolled your eyes over) was true?  I get it now.  Well, most of it.  Now the smile is a big laugh when I think about how the kids are towards me and J.  And they're not even teenagers yet!  The other day, I was helping my girl O with her guest list for her birthday celebration.  After calling everyone on her list, I said to her "Honey, make sure to follow-up on those who we only left voice messages to, okay?"  "Okay, Mommy." my 8-going-on-9 sweetheart says.  Then I added "On those 'follow-ups', put an F and a U next to their names.  So you remember...F/U for follow-up."  She starts giggling.  I smiled and asked her "What's funny, bella?"  She looks at me and says "Mommy, you said the F.U. words!"   At first I didn't get it.  Then it slowly becomes clear to me how my innocent little girl is now in school and exposed to all this.  Sigh. 

I'm so grateful for my folks, my "Mamay and Daday", for being the best teachers I could ever have.  Admittedly, I didn't always feel this way.  I was very head-strong as a young adult and that made for a whole lot of interesting exchanges between my very strict and conservative mother and me.  Dad was more easy-going with rules but a strict organizer/time-manager.  But that's a story for another time! 

Let's go back to the Love Story of Mom and Dad Here's proof-in-photos.  May they continue to be each other's best ally and wisest teacher and may their love continue to grow stronger every day!

I love you, Mamay and Daday.  Missing you.


 Mom and Dad, Baguio, 1966
Boracay, 2004

Edsa Shang, 2006

Thursday, November 10, 2011

019/100: when in doubt, choose red.

For J...because it’s his favorite song.  With love.
  019 100 i'll never love this way again by chiquipineda

10 Trivia Atbp.

1.  I had a nice walk in the rain today.  I brought Joshim’s dessert to school - sliced bananas with whipped cream and chocolate chips...yum! - which I forgot to pack during the crazy morning rush.  This, of course, is the excuse I made up just so I could wear my brand new, super cute, funky pink rain boots which J got me on our last fun Fridate last week. 

My Pink Galoshes

2.  I’m writing this on a Tuesday, just after recording song number 19 on my 100im.perfect.songs project.  *Big breath*.  Day 19.  Almost three weeks.  Wow.

3.  Well, I’ve not been doing it daily for a few reasons which I’d like to dissect here.

4.  I love what my friend Joy shared with me during one of our Mastermind Sessions.  She said “How you do one thing is how you do everything.”  Now don’t be pilosopo and take this literally.

5.  The truth to this line lies in that how my attitude is towards one thing tends to be the same for everything.  How I react to a negative situation on a Monday is most like the same way I’ll react to a similar negative situation on a Friday - with seething anger and a whole lot of grumbling - except that Friday’s got Happy Hour.  So it may be slightly different...but I digress.  :D

How I am with projects is the same with how I am with all my other projects.  In a nutshell:  With a big bang, hi energy go, go, go! beginning  and a slow cool down to a not-feeling-too-good scenario, a brief stop and a general feeling of frustration over what I call the Why of the Woe (read: analysis paralysis) and the best part of being in the forties, picking up where I left off.  My coach Julie advises:  “Fail faster.”  Translation:  Do the whole routine, start over, but get to the “pick up” sooner.

6.  Speaking of the forties, if there's one lesson that repeats itself over and over again, it is:  Attitude determines your altitude.  In other words, it matters more how you react to a situation rather than the actual situation itself.

7.  It took me thiiiis long to come up with #19 because I was forcing, yes - FORCING a song I didn’t care much for except for the impress.them factor.  (And who the heck is this ‘them’ again?  Sigh.)

8.   It was a full orchestra birit (full chest high notes) version of Wind Beneath My Wings, Charice’s version ba naman.  Of course I was making all kinds of grand mistakes everywhere.  I already know I don’t do birit all too well especially since I haven’t been singing much lately.  (Note to self:  Sing more.)

9.  Lesson #1437: In the spirit of singing, I choose songs that are more or less within my range, songs that make me feel comfortable, fit right - it may not come out auto-tune-perfect and, in remembering the purpose of this project is to get comfortable with imperfect.*

10.  I find it interesting how this applies to a whole lot of other life-stuff too like in choosing a career (choose what you like to do!) in choosing a partner (choose someone who makes you feel like you!) in choosing what to wear (choose what makes you look like...ok, maybe some of us need a bit of help in this area.  That would  LOL)

Found Star
(even on the ground
stars abound!)

It’s a process.  The whole of life is.

Thanks for dropping by, dear one.  Always and ALL WAYS...

Courage in creativity,

Thursday, November 3, 2011

018/100: make a wish...bilis, bilis! :)

Grown-Up Xmas List for the 100im.perfect.songs project
by Chiqui Pineda-Azimi
David Foster (music) and Linda Thompson-Jenner (lyrics)
No infringement intended.
Please support the original artists.

  018/100: Grown Up Xmas List by chiquipineda

Trying to bring the holiday spirit in early.  The cold, cloudy, sun-less days are bringing me down...down...down.   Lowbatt.  Mojoless.  Tamaditis. 

Imagining sunny beaches and white sands, all the fresh seafood you can eat - make mine grilled prawns please! - and my whole family happy, healthy and hollering "Cheers!  Cheers!" every five minutes.

Sigh.  My grown-up Christmas list is all of the above, that Energy makes a come back in my house soon and all of what David and Linda said.


Quotables for Today ~
I've got three for you. ;)

"Everyone has his burden. What counts is how you carry it."
--Merle Miller

"In order to succeed, you must first be willing to fail."Anonymous

"Keep these concepts in mind: You've failed many times, although you don't remember. You fell down the first time you tried to walk. You almost drowned the first time you tried to swim. . . . Don't worry about failure. My suggestion to each of you: Worry about the chances you miss when you don't even try."Sherman Finesilver 

Thanks for the website, Coach Julie!  <3


Courage in creativity,

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

now we're stronger than before

we made it through

for you, you brave soul you.

  017 100 Til They Take My Heart Away by chiquipineda

Words and Music by Claire Marlow
Guitar accompaniment by // Brian
No infringement intended.
Please support the original artists. 

10TriviaAtbp (maya-maya.... ^_^)

Monday, October 24, 2011

16/100: may you find some comfort here

My dearest,

  016/100: Angel by chiquipineda

Spend all your time waiting
For that second chance
For a break that would make it okay
There’s always some reason
To feel not good enough
And it’s hard at the end of the day
I need some distraction
Oh beautiful release
Memory seeps from my veins
Let me be empty
Oh and weightless and maybe
I’ll find some peace tonight

In the arms of an angel
Fly away from here
From this dark cold hotel room
And the endlessness that you fear
You are pulled from the wreckage
Of your silent reverie
You’re in the arms of the angel
May you find some comfort here

So tired of the straight line
And everywhere you turn
There’s vultures and thieves at your back
The storm keeps on twisting
Keep on building the lie
That you make up for all that you lack
It don’t make no difference
Escaping one last time
It’s easier to believe in this sweet madness oh
This glorious sadness that brings me to my knees

In the arms of the angel
Fly away from here
From this dark cold hotel room
And the endlessness that you fear
You are pulled from the wreckage
Of your silent reverie
You’re in the arms of the angel
May you find some comfort here

You’re in the arms of the angel
May you find some comfort here

Words & Music by Sarah McLachlan

Sung by Chiqui Pineda-Azimi
for the 100im.perfect.songs project

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

015/100: beautiful like a rainbow

© Chiqui Pineda, 2012

  015/100-Beautiful Like A Rainbow by chiquipineda

True Colors
for the 100im.perfect.songs project


You with the sad eyes
Don't be discouraged
Oh, I realize
It's hard to take courage
In a world full of people
You can lose sight of it all
And darkness still inside you
Makes you feel so small

But I see your true colors
Shining through
I see your true colors
And that's why I love you
So don't be afraid to let them show
Your true colors,
True colors, are beautiful,
Like a rainbow.

Show me a smile then,
Don't be unhappy,
Can't remember when I last saw you laughing
If this world makes you crazy
And you've taken all you can bear
You call me up
Because you know I'll be there

And I see your true colors
Shining through
I see your true colors
And that's why I love you
So don't be afraid to let them show
Your true colors,
True colors, are beautiful,
Like a rainbow

True Colors
Glee Cast Production
Original Words/Music: Tom Kelly,
Billy Steinberg, Cyndi Lauper
Denise Barry Music, Billy Steinberg Music,
Rella Music

8 im.perfect.shares.atbp.

1.  As I was singing this song, my heart was just broken in a hundred pieces.  Proof that no matter how ‘broken’ you feel, you can still create.  Yay, me! ;)

2.  I’ve always signed w/ “Courage in Creativity”.  As in the movie Evan Almighty where ‘God’ was speaking with the distraught lady in the restaurant, He said something akin to this...and paraphrasing now: When you pray/ask God for patience/strength/faith, God doesn’t just give you hope/strength/courage in a neat little package.  Instead, God gives you life experiences, chances and opportunities for you to exhibit these things that you wish for.  And before you know it, you've got the patience/strength/faith that you've asked for from the experience you just went through.  

3.  WaPOW.  I just got that.  Again rinse and repeat.  I think it may be time to change my signature.  Hee!  Hmmm...esep...esep…thinking...thinking….Money in Creativity?  Now, that my Mom would like very much.  LOL.  Hi, Mamay!  <3

4.  The old adage “Be careful what you wish for…” is true.  

5.  I realize this now:  If you can take a beating - and by take you know I don't mean to be an idiot masochist/martyr about it, right? - be it a harsh word, a skeptic eyebrow raised to the ceiling, an affront to your very nature and character, or even an almost imperceptible psychic vibe full of “who do you think you are?” hatred - from the ones closest and dearest to you, all the  seemingly big and scary “them/they” (as in the tiresome “what will they say/think/do?”) monsters out there will not hold a candle to you anymore.  Not ever.  EVER.

6.  This is what courage in creativity looks like for me.

7.  Don't get me wrong.  It still hurts like hell, oh you know it!  But you use this hurt as fuel to keep going in the path you want, wait...a better word is choose to go which is YOUR path.

8.  And a BOO! effin HOO! to you too!!!  Your scare tactics are old hat and no, thank you very much to that.

I'm done here.

Courage (and Money!) in Creativity,

The Sisterhood Shares

My Dearest Sis,

You and I both know that the contrabidas/antagonists in our lives are put there for a good reason, right?  In my case, it is to practice my wish for “Courage in Creativity” on. 

What, in your life, do you think feel is the purpose of the contrabidas in YOUR life?  Pang-inis lang (plain annoyance) is not an acceptable reason.*  LOL.  Dig deeper, sister!    Here’s an example from The Sisterhood: 

The purpose of X in my life is to push me out of my comfort zone.  I’ve always been scared to try new things.  Because of X’s lack of resolve (read: katamaran) I’m forced by  my life’s circumstances to push beyond my levels and go do the things I’m ‘afraid’ of like call/talk to people (sales/promote), get that license (I procrastinated forever), launch my business!  ~ MZ

Speak.  I hold this sacred space for you.  If you’re ‘shy’, email me.  I’m here to listen.  My <3 is open. 
Love & Light,

*Ok, I get that perhaps if you're praying for "Patience" then the "annoying/irritant" just may have a good reason to be there, yes?  Peace.