Gentle Birth Goals

I already had an inkling that I will not be approaching childbirth in the mainstream way, if I can completely avoid it. A small movement of people in this country are revolutonizing the notions of a painful pregnancy and introduced the concept of gentle birth plans that are all natural. Only a handful of women are into it. I signed up. 

This week, I floated the idea to my ultra kind OBgyn and while she supported my childbearing rights to decide on my mode of labor, she told me that such choices will require me to switch to another doctor. Prior to discussing my birth plan, I was already sold to give birth to a cozy private hospital near where I live in the East. After our conversation, it was back to the drawing board as far as hospital birthing options are concerned. The support for my chosen method for birthing is poor. 

I am quite fascinated with the outcome of my research, but I was not at all surprised that I am game to try something new for welcoming my little one into this world. Of course, that did not sit well with those who have never tried this method. But that’s the thing about pregnancy: what your mother or mother in law or friend chose for their birth plan is not necessarily your fate or destiny. They can scoff all they want but they won’t understand why I think this will work for me. It’s a unique journey. I may get laughed at for my birth method choices but I arrived at this method for a reason. I did not just chance upon the resources I have found online by accident; I was meant to find them and make empowered decisions about my personal pregnancy journey as a result. And it allows me to firmly decide on it even if nobody else wants it. 

Gentle birth is the goal, that’s what I am sure of at this point. Getting there has different paths, and the availability of those paths in this side of the world is quite limited. But I am willing to try. I truly hope that it can happen. 

Low-key and Redefined

It’s been five months since I deactivated my public Facebook account which contains many acquaintances and very few close friends. I am only using a work-only Facebook account that often appears like a weird spam or dummy account. I redefined my usage of Facebook from a social networking tool to a tool that I use for researching article topics, reading up on my favorite online publications, checking on the latest news in the world, buying stuff, and joining Facebook groups that I genuinely like. There are no selfies, status updates, feverish adding of people (although when asked at social functions, I provide it now as my main account), notes, or whatnots. My family now prefers to tag me using my dummy, work-only account on some photos in the absence of my now-deactivated public page. Honestly, I prefer not to be tagged there but it’s just the way it works under normal circumstances.

Facebook impacts a lot of lives, and I redefined my usage of it to suit my needs. I have my online involvement with this blog and When in Manila when I want to share something to the world. And I have Twitter for my micro-blogging requirements or the random minutiae of my day. I also have Instagram when I want to highlight certain services visually. Recently, Facebook opened its Philippine office. The brand’s presence in the country continues to go strong. My mother posts feverishly and it is eerily similar to my old style of using the giant social media website. We are deeply inside this Facebook culture that I often find myself sheepishly explaining my Facebook account appearance to people who are really requiring me or asking me to add them up. I just don’t volunteer the information about my account unless I really need it to keep in touch with certain people like my parents, my siblings, and people I work/collaborate with. You won’t even see my face on the display photo. And it was designed exactly in the way that I want it– for it to be invisible and invoked only on extremely important and unavoidable circumstances.

Going low profile is one of the best life decisions I have made last year and it continues to be so this year. The nearest and dearest to my heart know how and where to find me. And they also know that I am more active on email and texting than FB messenger. Since it’s election season, I chat with friends on iMessage and they tell me how toxic their news feeds are with the extensive political commentaries and verbal vitriol. One of my bestfriends from my former government job is actually contemplating erasing the Facebook app on her iPhone because it was just unbearably toxic for her. I felt like I prepared well for this season because having this weird but efficient kind of FB setup minimized my exposure to toxic vibes.

Whoever I vote for is as private as my underwear. I don’t need to post a political commentary to justify my choice of presidential candidate. Some friends tend to fish on who’s my bet. But I just tell them I am an undecided. It amuses me to see everyone fighting tooth and nail for their candidate. I respect each person. Voting is a right. Not that I don’t care as much as they do. I really do. I read a lot as a lurker. I just figured that unless that passion for supporting a presidential candidate is coupled with real and tangible action offline to make this country better, it’s kind of pointless to banter about my political choices. I mean, I suppose everyone is thinking of what’s best for the country. Everyone naturally thinks that they are right, and that their choice is the best one.

These days, I usually think well of people, give them the benefit of the doubt. This world is far from ideal. This world is full of trolls. But there are good people out there, and for as long as they are there, it’s not entirely hopeless.  The strange thing was that in my new Facebook setup, I learned to believe again, to be in tune with who I really am (not what the mainstream wants me to believe or become), and to make really firm choices about the elections and in my life that I genuinely want.

In removing the distracting, marketplace-like noise from my former social media account, I managed to find the beauty of using Facebook as what it was originally designed for– a tool for connecting people and resources. These days, it’s being used as an arena for whose opinion is better, whose candidate is better, whose “public life” and exploits is better, etc.

And since people don’t know too much about me these days, I get to have more meaningful hours of face to face conversations with the people who are close to me when we catch up with each other. Instead of building a wedge, it has done wonders for my relationships. I don’t have to add people in Facebook out of social obligations because nobody really knows that it’s me who owns that obscure account unless they are actively finding me in the network. The mystery of not following someone on Facebook and hearing their stories live during a bonding session is refreshing and better than a cup of well-made coffee. You pay more attention. You savor the moment. You give that person your undivided attention. There’s also this unique magic of bumping into someone somewhere and being actually happy that you do not have an image or default impression of their Facebook wall. You get to see for yourself by looking in their eyes and saying “Kumusta ka na? It’s been ages!” with a very unparalleled level of surprise and thrill.

It’s just very radical, this low-key setup. But it works for me. And I really wish the Facebook friends in my old account the very best in their lives even if I don’t subscribe to everything about them now. It’s a tough adjustment at first, but these days, I get the power to choose who I want to keep in touch with and when I want to keep in touch with them. I do not see myself going against this low-key and redefined social media setup that I have built for myself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Core Flow Yoga

I am not quite into the new age and “Ohm” side of yoga which made me hesitant to try it for the longest time. Today was my first time to give it a shot. By golly, sedentary me worked up a sweat in the Zen-like and warm studio. The hype is real.

In my giddy excitement to begin exercising again, I ended up signing up for the advanced Core Flow Yoga session. It was a crazy idea. I was stumbling as the others adroitly and fluidly bent their bodies to do the advanced poses. I admired them as barrels of sweat dripped from my forehead.

No Ohms and strange salutations, just plain hard work with the poses.

My first time remains amazing despite my hilarious appearance as a first timer in an advanced class. At least it gave me a primer on what to expect from an advanced class. But I would make it a point to sign up for a beginner session next time.

All good things take time to build. Matters of genuine personal fitness such as this hold no exceptions.

 

 

The Shaky Scribe

I take a look at myself, a left-handed person with sweaty palms and shaky hands, and the calligraphy nibs and brush pens. If I were to judge my ability based on my existing situation, it would be have been an ill-suited hobby. Fortunately, I did not judge. 😀 I am a judger by nature so I am always working to overcome the tendency to do so.

At the outset, it’s quite daunting. You need concentration (not the chief quality of someone with my illness), a steady hand, and full muscle control on the fingers to sustain the upstrokes and downstrokes of calligraphy as a hobby or as a sideline or as a way of life.

But it found me.

desiderata-go-placidly-amidst-the-haste

I previously toyed with the idea in my head but never got around to dragging my butt out to attend a workshop or actually do something about it.

By chance, I went to this really nice resort (Aquaria Waterpark in Calatagan, Batangas) for a writing assignment some weeks back and they had basic brush calligraphy lessons in the event.

I gave it a try despite my condition, in spite of the voices in my head telling me that it’s not exactly a good fit for me. I am happy I took that risk on that day.

Some random dude even laughed at my drills because it was shaky. I almost wanted to give up on the brush at the time but why would I waste an opportunity to learn something new just because he decided I was not doing so well on it? If there’s anything I have learned this year, it’s this: it’s not going to taint my humanity one bit if I fail. It’s okay. It’s part of being human. It’s part of improving over time.

It was an involuntary shake; my hands are already suffering from medical side effects so drawing a straight upward line with just the right amount of thickness is a Herculean challenge. I took solace in the downward strokes and crawled through the others. Somehow, I managed to make it.

It was a very trifling thing but it made me so happy and I started to practice daily since then. 🙂

I think the calligraphy thing became more than just a thing as the days went on. It’s not yet poster or invitation scrawl quality. And honestly, I am not even after that.

It’s something I can do without my hands on the laptop keyboard and eyes on the computer screen, for a change. I usually do things for clients and it gets tiring to keep looking at this screen, pleasant as it may be 70% of the time.

It’s still refreshing to write on a piece of paper, whether it’s an essay, a diary entry, or a couple of words in swirly font. Nothing beats the thrill of that.

Also, I guess calligraphy represented something more than ink being placed on paper. It represented a defiance of the gravity that beckons me to just passively remain put or stagnated. I have witnessed a person stagnate before. Whenever I am inclined to feel lazy, I just think of her and I am prompted to keep moving. It represented the hard accomplishments wrought in silence and in pain. It represented beauty, the elusive and simple type. It represented a lot of inner battles fought with the echoing scars that only a selected few will ever see.

Most of all, it represented the present moment, because you cannot even create a basic curve or simple straight line without focusing on what is, momentarily flushing out the pains of what was and the anxieties of what will be. 

I bought new colors for brush pens at a local bookstore 15 minutes from home a few days after the workshop in Calatagan. A week later, I met with a friend and she gave me a complete set of nibs. She tried before and it was just collecting dust in her house for two years. She decided to give it to me. It meant a lot when she did. It signaled to me that I can actually continue this hobby and no one can tell me what I can’t do. That I am my worst enemy.

The stage is set. Left-handed, shaky-handed me is really doing this for a new hobby. Apart from this new discovery, I am doing things now that I never imagined I’d be able to do before.

I had to close some doors. At first, I wept for what I lost. But so many more doors opened up to replace what I decided to let go. And it kind of fell into place. It made sense why things had to happen the way they did. It made sense and I knew I was back on track and I am everyday grateful for that.

Empowering. And as such, I went on to sign up for other things this week: a body training regimen, a few MOOCs, and meetups for cutting edge topics that deeply interest me. 

I rarely wrote in this blog for 2015. But this is the year that really nailed it as far as a deeper knowledge of myself and a higher level of improvement is concerned. This is the zero bullshit year where I got to know myself and engaged in new and better ways of looking at the world. The ground was never steady. It kept shaking, just like my left hand when I try to imitate the calligraphy exemplar. But I was able to draw lines where they are required. I was able to create. For that, I am massively grateful.

I fought for the precious minutes I am typing this down. Possibly, the next post will be next month/year. This blog is scattered with all thoughts, dingy in the older pages, and introspective in the recent ones. Even so, it’s still here. I am still here.

And just as I have fought for the time to write here albeit intermittently, I will find time to continue being the shaky scribe that meditates quietly in her cave with scrawls manufactured from a tapestry of thoughts, brush pens, and nibs dipped on ink.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mungey ou Mangez? :)

(Note: Munge – to clean data; Mangez – French verb, to eat)

I had been following the 365 Travel Dates Instagram feed for a while now. Chance had it that we were digitally in the same social circles (apparently, I still had some form of social presence despite my decision to stay in a cave) and then Mark shared to me a lovely post from their blog containing a highly recommended TED Talk of Alternative Punk Rock musician and singer Amanda Palmer.

Because I admire this awesome traveling couple, I read the article and watched the TED video. I was practically mesmerized by Amanda Palmer. After watching the talk, I went on to listen to her songs which are available for free at her website and on Youtube. Consequently, Amanda Palmer is Neil Gaiman’s wife! What the heyyyyyyyy! I cannot imagine a more awesome partner to this super awesome singer and artist.

A few days ago, I wrote about Butch Dalisay’s prowess in Penmanship and Other Short Stories. A blogging friend named Nonoy gave me a link to the work of another awesome writer. When we give something out digitally, it expands. The groundswell phenomenon makes sure that your bases are covered.

 

This Universe really knows what each person wants deep inside and there seems to be a cloud that attracts us to the right people, things, circumstances, and vibes that we emanate to the world.On my end, I was marveling over all of that while chomping off pieces from a non-glamorous bag of potato chips and some reading materials about data munging techniques. Munge. Mangez!

The nerdgasm has no cure, indeed. I like where I am, so Amanda Palmer’s song goes. And while I listened to it, I felt every word reach to the core of my soul. Such soulful music can only come from a person who genuinely connects with others. Today is the day I am supposed to hear her TED talk. Some inevitable things happen to us to steer us in the right place.

The whole thing reminds me how we should always guard our minds. What we attract takes it cue from what we magnify in our heads. We attract bad things when we think of bad things excessively.

I thought of bliss and creativity more often these days as well as out of the box idea generation and this is where it led me: a chance to interact with my favorite couple blogger, awesome music from an inspirational woman with one of the most moving TED talks I have ever watched, ideas for my current humble collaborations, and…

I purposefully leave that sentence hanging because there is more, I am sure. I can only plan a certain segment of my life and leave the rest to the inevitable uncertainties introduced to us daily.

I just need to keep calm and let these things unfold on its own, munge and mangez notwithstanding.

 

 

 

 

Goal Iteration: Failing Fine and Forward

One of the things I had to let go of this year with much struggle is the need to perfect everything all the time. I wanted it so much that it led to an unnecessary control of even minor details, leading to sweating of the small stuff.

This month, in particular, I learned how to fail without permanently lodging my face in the dirt when I am wrong. I learned how to trip without feeling like it’s the end of the world. I have learned to take things a bit more lightly. Over time, humans decay and make more mistakes and become decrepit versions of their former selves. Not being able to laugh at my mistakes is a wrong and unhealthy pattern to sustain because eventually, that’s the hand everyone gets dealt with anyway.

So I let certain things slide. Just a bit, so that I won’t have a panic attack. But I still maintain the semblance of OC-ness that allows me to do my best effort. I messed up a little. I assure myself that it won’t stay that way because I’ll fix it. But first I have to acknowledge that I messed up.

When I get old, there’ll be that age where I can no longer hold my own pee, I will forget my house keys, and I can no longer write simple sentences or replicate my very own official signature in bank documents. That time, I will fail a lot. My grandkids can pretty much take me wherever and I won’t be able to oppose it that much because I am too frail and weak to do so. I can even be at the mercy of complete strangers by then, who knows?

And this is what I learned: Whatever power you gain in your youth, you lose it more quickly than you gain it. It’s fleeting and honestly, almost useless considering the number of hours many people put in or the immense amount of life energy being expended just to get a whiff of it. The mere thought of that makes me really sad sometimes.

Some failures in the present are good ways of signing you up for what ultimately lies ahead when you reach a rich old age. (Assumption: Will reach rich old age) Then, there are also failures that you’ve done more than ten times already and dammit, it’s time to let go of these mistakes. They are no longer mistakes but unhealthy life patterns.

I count myself lucky to have been exposed to open source communities. I see inspiration there. Most software systems do not get it right the first time. The developers ITERATE and introduce improvements in incremental fashion. And that similar approach is good for life, too. You will not always get it right the first time. There will always be room for improvement. AND the work is truly done only when you are.

 

 

The Gratitude Goal

This year for me is the year of zero shortcuts and the complement of this mantra will definitely be gratitude. There are many things that I can choose to be irritated about on a daily basis, but these days, I try to be more mindful of where my thoughts take me. Because that is also where my life energies go. 🙂 So one of the biggest investments I decided to make in myself this year is to cultivate an attitude of gratitude.

Pretty much, that means, all the toxicity has to go. Toxic friends. Toxic things. Toxic ideas. It’s detox year, baby!

 

This week was not particularly smooth sailing but there are a lot of things to be thankful for. I am enjoying the cold, for once, the non-aircon manufactured type that can only come from days of rain. The grass is literally greener these days.

I am thankful for very awesome brain training (a bit grueling at times but the brain settles for no less). I am keeping the nature of it under wraps for now because I do not want anything to spoil it. 🙂 That’s what we do to precious things– we quietly hold them in high regard and savor every moment we spend with it. There are clearly just some things that are meant to be savored in privacy.

There are guideposts although it’s not exactly asphalted expressway clear (it’s zero shortcuts, after all!) but more of a muddy dirt road and I got some boots on for the trip. Really pretty boots. Bright pink and a sturdy grip.

In retrospect, I look at things and I realize that much has happened and I am actually at a place where I am perfectly fine with the imperfection. I can let certain things slide when before I used to desire control at the micro-level that my life kind of got suffocated with the numerous assurances I needed to keep all bases covered. Life doesn’t work that way. I was in the wrong place. I rested my ladders in the wrong wall. I am standing still now, and quite happy to be here.

It took me a long time to come to terms with certain things. I realized that I was not born with a silver spoon in my mouth, that I have to basically start from a lower starting point than most people my age and that I had to assume responsibilities earlier than most people had to in their lifetime. I have to basically claw my way through things that other people I have met find basic or standard to their living. It still amazes me that I was able to float through all that despite the excessive discomforts I had to experience growing up. And I never forget those growing years because it made me tough.

So, yeah, universe, thanks for letting me start at a very disadvantaged position and allowing me to reach the edge of what I thought were my limitations. You always do this to me and you let me survive it. Every time someone tries to dig for me to fall in, I just grit my teeth, climb back out, and unfortunately annoy the shit out of the person who tried to dig me downwards.

Each time, I end up thinking: “Hey, I never thought I can do this.” If the digging did not happen, I would not have explored alternative routes to reaching my goals. Always a surprise where it leads me. 🙂

The testing never ends. It will always be there. There will be new things to make me tougher this year and I embrace them now. I embraced the scars of the past and embrace the wounds of the present.

I am not just thankful now for the good things. I also thank the sad and distressing things because most or all of them were necessary to help me learn something about life and what must be done to reach the summit of it.