Counting Tuesdays

I’m writing this because unlike most of my friends, I believe that 2016 deserves an essay from me. I experienced the lowest of lows that year and I have no idea how I managed to survive all of that. To say 2016 is full of crap wouldn’t be fair to all of the good things that happened last year. With lows are highs, with highs are lows, and the space in between is big enough to make room for learning and realization.

Nope, this isn’t a resolution post because I know at some point this year I’ll be breaking my own rules. I’m just writing this to resurrect my blog and to pay tribute to all the events that happened last year. It’s also a post I intend to go back to, should I doubt myself once again in the future.

So, here we go. In 2016, I learned…

That Every Minute Is Literally A Chance to Turn It All Around

img_1009
Words of wisdom c/o A. (c) 2016 | Canon 550D

There are so many things that I don’t post on social media mainly because I feel like they shouldn’t be there. I’ve actually been struggling with the whole sharing my life vs keeping things private shiz that’s why I’ve been on and off with my blogging. On one hand yes it’s fun to have an audience and thousands of followers, but on the other hand, it’s not fun to have an audience and thousands of followers. Anyway, back to the story. I found myself in a hellhole that started around April. It was tough and at some point I wanted to give up. Good thing I had my family, and close friends with me that time because they pulled me back up with I hit rock bottom. The problem would have lingered a lot longer if I didn’t decide to put an end to it by looking for ways to solve it.

That the Sun Shines Equally On Everybody

img_1206
Sun catchers | (c) 2016, Canon 550D

Some days I agree with it, some days I don’t. I mean really, how can the sun shine on the murderers, the rapists, the robbers, the naysayers, or people who don’t have at least 1% of kindness in their hearts? How can the sun shine on those who gave me a hard time? How can the sun shine on all the douchebags who broke my heart?

But the more humbling question is, who am I to decide?

I first heard about it in August and I’m still not able to digest it. On the days that my higher self is more dominant, the statement makes perfect sense. When you set your judgement aside, you’ll be able to see that indeed, the sun shines equally on all of us. However, when the higher self decides to go on a vacation, that’s when all the questions begin to appear. This is something that I’ll have to keep going back to during reflection and meditation.

That I Have to be Kinder to Myself

img_1717
I | (c) 2016, Canon 550D

I went on an art therapy session once and the funny thing is, my art revealed the things I tried so hard to conceal. Of course the things discussed during the session won’t be revealed here, but if there’s one realization that struck me, it’s that I have to be kinder to myself. It’s easy to be kind to other people but it’s hard when the same amount of kindness has to be given to ourselves.

That Grieving is Personal

Jpeg
My babies | (c) 2016, Asus Zenfone

When Marley and Roxy died, people were quick to tell me that it’s okay, they’re just dogs and that I should move on. I tried my best to filter out the words of nosy naysayers because really, what do they know? I took my own sweet time to process, recover, and accept their deaths. Some say I’m taking an awfully long time to move on, but for me, the speed is just right. I also don’t believe in moving on because that means having to cancel out their existence and forgetting about them. I’d rather move forward. I wear my scars with pride, and I carry their memory everywhere I go. This is also why this entry is entitled Counting Tuesdays because both dogs died on a Tuesday, both dogs died last year, and it feels like the perfect title for a tribute post to the year that was.

That Family is Everything

img_7756
Ohana with my ohana | (c) 2016, Canon 550D

I was helping my grandfather stand up from the hospital bed when I realized that I was holding the hands of a man who used to hit me with a belt/slipper/wood/whatever. The very hands that would spill rock salt on the wooden floor and ask me to kneel on them. I was looking at the eyes of the man who once grabbed me and threw me on the wall. I was assisting the man who once called me stupid just because I had a red mark on my report card.

But know what? None of that mattered. Set all the disciplinary stuff aside, I know that my grandfather meant well when he did all of those. I wouldn’t be able to write all these entries if it weren’t for him. When the world told me that I’m an accident, my grandfather agreed with my mom when she said I’m a blessing. He’s still one of the few men I look up to and I can only pray that he’ll be with me on my wedding day. That man means the world to me.

That the World Needs More Love and Light

img_6922
Paper Cranes | (c) 2016, Canon 550D

Oh man, where do I begin? For the most part of last year, I’ve been trying to tune out the negative juju. People are so quick to bash other people these days, those who scheming minds are now in positions of power, and don’t get me started on the cruelty that we’ve been showing to Mother Earth. I’m just hoping that things will turn around this 2017.

2016 was insane, and I’m sure all of you will agree with me. I’m not sure what 2017 has up its sleeve but what I do know is this: I’m ready to face the challenges that it’ll throw my way.

Bring. It. On.

Questions

I won’t lie, I still haven’t gotten over Marley’s death and I think it will stay that way for some time. It’s not about playing victim, nor is it about begging for attention. It’s about accepting, dealing, processing, all these emotions. Guilt is one thing, grief is another, but when you add regret, frustration, sadness, and anger you enter this carnival of emotions. One minute you’re up, next minute you’re down, and the only person who understands everything is yourself.

11046972_1008101499209736_2886471104204088435_n
(c) Aliya Agbon, 2015

I’ve been asking a lot of questions the past weeks and I have yet to find the answers to them. I was once told that the questions we ask are more important that the answers, and that the answers change depending on the questions we ask. So I’ve altered words, punctuations, and tones, hoping that I wake up to an epiphany the next day but to no avail.

I’ll just have to keep on asking, I guess. After all, isn’t that what this life is all about? Ask questions, get answers.

A Tale of Two Beagles

Two years and four months ago, I sat on the edge of my bed, thinking of ways to put Marley to sleep. It was his first time in our house and he couldn’t stop running around the place. Such a curious little thing. The dining area was a huge playground for him and the more I begged him to sleep, the more he ran, as if asking me to play with him. I remember posting a question on Facebook and asking other dog owners for tips on how to deal with puppies. Most of them said that I have to be patient because it’s not easy task. I tried different techniques, even tricking Marley into falling asleep, but to no avail. I was sleepless for two months!

img_7642
Marley @ 2 Months | (c) Aliya Agbon, 2016, Canon 550D

 

But that’s how I learned to be his mom. Sometimes we buy pets thinking that our role is limited to just being their owners when in fact, our responsibility is so much more than that. With Marley, I had to learn how to scoop poop, clean pee, and deal with the many scars I gained on both arms and legs because of his sharp nails. He never bit me, although there were times when he attempted to, because I’d make it very difficult for him to access his food.

On our third month together, I realized that he was already seeing me as his “mom” because he’d run to me and ask me to carry him when I arrive home, and cry hard whenever I have to go. He’d follow me everywhere I go, and he’d find ways to still see me when I’m busy with crafts at the work area. He’d greet me first thing in the morning and I’d hold his front paws so we can do our “good morning dance”. I’d sing to him, tell him how much I love him, and give him a belly rub before sending him to bed.

 

As months went on, we noticed so many things about him, like how much he enjoys running around the garden. He enjoys barking at the dogs outside our house, and then he runs around the garden once more while waiting for the next opportunity to bark at somebody. Whenever I notice that he’s sad or mad at Taz, the other male dog, I take him out for a drive around the city with Manong Noning because he enjoys riding the car. He loves the view, he loves sitting on my lap, and he likes to put his head outside the car window to enjoy the the wind on his long ears.

IMG_6832
Marley and the Moth | (c) Aliya Agbon, 2016, Canon 550D

My mom gave him ube ice cream for his first birthday and he enjoyed it so much! He devoured every single bit of it. He likes eating what we’re eating, and hates it when I tell him he’s not allowed to eat chocolates. He enjoys playtime with the other dogs at 4 in the afternoon, and joins us when he sees us making our way back to the house. He enters the house and sleeps under the dining table or my mom’s bed at around 6 PM and come 10 PM, follows when I ask him to go outside. He’d argue with me sometimes, but after receiving two of his favorite biscuits, he’d oblige.

My thoughts are always with him whenever I travel, and I’d make sure that I have something for him whenever I return home. It’s always a joy to see him, after weeks of being in another city for work. His hugs and kisses are always worth looking forward to, mainly because they are genuine and sincere.

IMG_1301
My guard fell asleep | (c) Aliya Agbon, 2016, Canon 550D

When he was a year and seven months old, we introduced him to Roxy, his partner. Roxy was a different character. She has this weird way of running, her howl sounds funny, and she has this habit of hugging poles whenever she senses that Manong Noning is preparing their food.

Having Roxy around meant having to learn to be a mom all over again but this time, I was faced with another challenge: how to balance my attention between the two beagles. There were times when Marley felt left out and I’d explain things to him to help him understand. After a month Marley finally learned to accept that Roxy will be sharing his space with him and that she is his partner, not his enemy. They’d play around at exactly four in the afternoon and come night time, they’d sleep beside each other. They eventually became best friends. As a matter of fact, they were both holding each other’s paws on  New Year’s Eve because they were scared of the fireworks.

Jpeg
My babies | (c) Aliya Agbon, 2016, Asus Zenfone

Everything was okay, until we noticed that Roxy was getting weaker and weaker. After a series of sessions with the vet, we were told that she has Ehrlichiosis and they cannot guarantee her survival. We did the best we could but on February 2016, just a few days before my first marathon, Roxy went to heaven.

IMG_1193
Roxy | (c) Aliya Agbon, 2016, Canon 550D

It was so painful, I spent weeks crying, and for a long time, I had to struggle with her absence. I decided to focus on taking care of Marley, and it helped so much that my family was there to join me on my journey. As months went on, Marley and I grew closer. There are times when we’d just sit on the floor and enjoy each other’s company. I’d sing to him sometimes, and when we’re both in the mood, we’d play catch. I enjoyed watching him sleep at night and sometimes I’d wake him up just so I can hug him tight. I made sure that he knew how much I love him.

I planned on making videos with him, training him, and playing with him. I imagined what the next few years would be like for both of us and I wondered how handsome he’d look like on the day of my wedding. Each day I’d thank God for giving me the chance to take care of him and for telling him to choose me as his mom.I looked forward to spending more years with my baby, but unfortunately, that won’t happen anymore.

Last September 20, 2016, Marley rushed outside our gate and he got hit by a car within minutes. He lost a lot of blood and he was no longer breathing when I approached him. The blithering asshole of a driver did not apologize, and nope he didn’t even stop to check if Marley was okay.

So here we are today.

It’s been two days since my baby earned his wings and we’re still trying to understand what happened. I’m hoping that this blog will help me accept things in the future, but for now I need to write down my thoughts here. I don’t understand why Marley left. There are so many evil souls in the world, why did God have to choose Marley? And seriously, why did I lose Marley and Roxy in just seven months?

I’ve been told that Marley has a higher purpose, and the world needs his light. There is so much evil in the world, and it needs the guidance of pure, spiritual beings. That does not make a lot of sense for now, but I know that in the future, I’ll be able to accept it. All I know for now is I’m waking up to a quiet house and my baby is no longer with us.

I’m trying to deal with the guilt right now. As a mom, it is my duty to protect Marley from pain. But I failed. Miserably. I keep seeing snapshots of his dead body on the street and it keeps on breaking my heart. I’ve been crying non-stop since the day he died and I don’t think I’ll be stopping anytime soon. For now I just want to deal with the fact that he went  home to meet his Maker. For now, I just have to try to process things in the hopes that someday, it will all make sense.

When I had my heart broken before, I thought it was the end of the world. Losing Marley only made me realize that those heartbreaks are a huge ZERO compared to this one. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced this type of pain before, and I’ve been trying to take things by the minute. I cry when I have to, laugh when I need to, and work when the situation calls for it. I declined a trip to Manila because it’s something I cannot do for now. I just need to be here. Where Marley is. Where Roxy is. Where family is.

I guess this is also my way of telling you, dear reader, that #beaglethemarley finally went home. I’d give anything to have him back, but I have a feeling that the world needs him more. All I can do for now is miss him, think of him, pray for him, and deal with the eerie silence now that he’s gone. The word “gone” sounds final and cuts like a knife, but it is what it is.

Two years and four months from Marley’s first night here, I’m back to sitting on the edge of my bed, but this time for a different reason. I’ve been begging for Marley and Roxy to come back and asking for the Universe to hear my plea but I have a feeling it’s just falling on deaf ears.Or not. I don’t know anymore.

My heart is in so much pain and I’m filled with questions and no answers. There are so many emotions inside me and as much as I want to believe that the sun shines equally on everybody, I demand justice for the death of my baby. Dear driver, if you’re reading this, I want you to know that you killed a beautiful soul. Maybe someday I’ll forgive you, but for now let me deal with this anger. You do not get to kill my beagle and drive away pretending that nothing happened. I wonder how your conscience lets you sleep at night. I really do.

Jpeg
My baby Marley | (c) Aliya Agbon, 2015, Asus Zenfone

Marley taught me a lot of things. He taught me to be patient, he taught be to be kind and compassionate even to those who do not deserve it (eg. driver), he taught me to be playful and funny, he taught me to focus on the now, he taught me to let got of the past, he taught me to look forward to what the future has to offer, and he taught me how to love. Because that’s what Marley is. He is love. Right now, I don’t know how to move on and frankly, I don’t think I want to. What I do know, however, is that someday I will need to move forward and bring Marley and Roxy’s memories with me.

In the days to come, I want to honor Marley and Roxy by celebrating their lives and sharing to the world all of the lessons I learned from them. I’m grateful that they chose me to be their mom, and that somehow, the universe brought all of our souls together even if it was just for a short period of time.

I miss you dearly, Marley and Roxy. I am very sorry I could not save you. I am sorry I failed as your mom. I hope you forgive me.

I know you’re both watching over us. It’s painful now, and the pain has manifested physically but no worries because we’re working on it as a family. I hope that our spirits will meet again in this lifetime or the next. I also hope that when we do see each other, you’ll recognize me and I’ll recognize you. I cannot wait to see you both and hug you once again. Thank you so much for sharing your life with us. Now go forth, my love! Let the world see your light! I miss you so much! I love you!

All Is Swell

 

Scarf, Saizen | 'All Is Swell' Shirt, Coast Thru Life | Lace skirt, Jatujak | Leggings, Watsons | Sneakers, Converse
Glasses, SM Department Store | Scarf, Saizen | ‘All Is Swell’ Shirt, Coast Thru Life | Lace skirt, Jatujak | Leggings, Watsons | Sneakers, Converse

We rise up when we fall and when we do, we become better versions of ourselves. I believe that at some point in our lives, we hit rock bottom and when that happens, the temptation to just stay there and dwell in the negativity of the situation is hard to resist. To hate the world and blame everyone for living lives better than ours is always our go to option as humans compared to acknowledging the situation and eventually accepting it as a part of our life’s story. I used to take the easy route and just allow my emotions to get the best of  me. The younger version of me enjoyed having people care for me and look after me. It felt good for some time until I realized how weak and dependent I’ve become. I failed to live up to the meaning of my second name, ‘Aliya’.

 

IMG_6839
Ballers, Billabong San Juan Surf School (White) and Roxy (Pink) | Bracelets, Amihan sa Dahican | Bag, Thailand | Anklets, Amihan sa Dahican (red, green, yellow) and Jenny Tañedo

To acknowledge that you’ve hit rock bottom is one thing, and to make the decision to make your way out of the hell hole you’re in and rise up is another. I can’t remember how many times I hit a slump in my life, but I do remember receiving the biggest blow and making the decision to deal with the situation head on. People usually think that facing challenges is a piece of cake but I tell you, it’s hard work. The monster that whispers words that feed negative thoughts which eventually spiral into some twisted form of reality when you wake up at say, 3 in the morning does not help either. Most of the time, you find yourself playing a tennis match in your head where one side says all systems go, and the other makes you doubt every step you take towards picking yourself up and moving forward. It’s a feat, it’s exhausting, but trust me when I say that though the battle may be long, you’ll definitely come out strong.

IMG_6829

Every challenge comes with lessons that need to be learned. Yes they’re difficult, and we all have our fair share of trials that we wouldn’t wish on anyone but in retrospect, I believe these trials are life’s way of molding us into the people that we’re destined to be. You can’t go to chapter three without reading chapter one. Sure you can skip, but then the story won’t be complete. I’m not trying to sound like some hyper optimistic know-it-all. What I’m trying to say is maybe, just maybe, with a slight change of perspective it’ll be easier for us to prepare and deal with the roadblocks ahead.

***

Photography by: Wu Vila

Location: Botanic Garden, Melbourne, Australia

“All Is Swell” shirts

were designed by Carla Sebastian

as part of Coast Thru Life’s efforts to raise funds for

the survivors Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda). 

Another Rainy Day

I love the rain. I love waking up to a room with just the right amount of darkness. I enjoy listening to the sound of raindrops falling gently on the rooftop, as if making sure it doesn’t disturb anyone as it makes its landing. I like how all of a sudden my room feels so cold, making it impossible for me to fight the urge to just snuggle my pillows and go back to sleep.

IMG_9349 copy

IMG_9355 copy

I was on my way to work this morning when I noticed how radiant the colors of the plants in the garden are. The droplets of water resting on the petals and leaves were like glitters that made them glow, even with the little amount of sun.

IMG_9378 copy

IMG_9382 copy

It’s always nice to take some time off our busy schedules and allow ourselves to be wowed by the beautiful things that have been there all along, waiting to be noticed. I found comfort while twisting and stretching my limbs to get good angles; it’s been a while since I’ve done that.

IMG_9386 copy

IMG_9388 copy

When I saw how the photos turned out, my heart was really happy.  It’s as if the plants were telling me to stop worrying too much because everything will be fine. I guess when you allow yourself to listen to what God or what the universe wants to tell you, the message is heard with so much clarity that it travels from your ears to your mind and heart.

IMG_9392 copy

IMG_9399 copy

Most of us are too scared to take a break because we think about the money that we’ll lose. What we don’t realize is that we gain so much and we give so much to ourselves just by taking some time off our daily routine. We say we live only once. The beauty around us will only live once, too.

-Canon 550D. Lens 18-135mm. ISO 100-200-