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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

Indigestion

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Bottled Paper Cranes | (c) Aliya Agbon | Canon 550D

Not in the literal way, but I’m hoping that through this blog I’ll be able to digest (sort of) some of the things that I learned the past few weeks. I was part of a workshop – one that allowed me to meet beautiful souls and help me understand/appreciate/love/accept ME. The workshop had three tracks and every single one required all of us (participants) to dig deeper into ourselves and the world around us.

I sound like I’m writing metaphors and I’d love to be more specific about these things but since I’m still trying to absorb everything, I figured it’s best if I  share this photo of the bottled paper cranes I made last month. For now at least. In case you’re wondering, the size of the paper is 1.5″ x 1.5″ and that tells you so much about how committed I am when it comes to folding tiny pieces of paper.

So why am I posting this photo today (9/11/16)?

I just feel like there’s so much going on in the world. When our workshop ended, I was a bit fidgety because that meant going back to the “real world” where I’ll be once again exposed to people who were not part of the workshop. It doesn’t mean they should be avoided, no. I was just being my usual anxious, fearful self and the question “omg what if I forget about the things I learned?” lingered. Writing all these thoughts in a journal helped a lot, because that meant getting over the urge to post it online. Yay!

I guess I’m posting this because it kind of symbolizes what’s in my head at the moment, and I’m slowly starting to see this picture from a different perspective. When I took this photo, my only goal was to upload it on Eco Choices’ Facebook page so people will know that we have this product but now, I’m seeing stories, colors, and relationships.

“Wow, deep pare”

Well, that’s exactly what it is. DEEP. Time for you to join me in my journey towards digesting all these thoughts and feelings, eh?

Anyway, going back: paper cranes symbolize peace and good fortune and in all honesty, I believe that the world needs a lot of that today. These days, there’s so much misinformation going on,  people are bashing other people, and it’s just starting to become toxic. I want to break the stream of hatred on my Facebook feed by posting these colorful paper cranes.

The bottles, if I were to interpret them, are the walls that we place around ourselves so no one can hurt us. Unfortunately, and this is something that was said to me by a beautiful wise woman, keeping pain out is also keeping love out. When you avoid the bad things, you avoid the good things and that’s a sad way to live.

You can also look at these bottled paper crane necklaces (chain not included in the picture, sorry) as constant reminders that no matter where you go and no matter how bad the situation is, there’s still kindness in the world. Love (not necessarily the romantic kind) still exists, you just need to change those glasses or shift to a different perspective. It’s all about perspective. It’s all about changing those conversations inside your head and allowing yourself to experience the world for what it really is.

Nope, this is not an attempt to market the bottled paper cranes (I’d post this blog in a different tone if that were the case). It just happened that these crafts represent what my current thoughts and feelings are. Pure coincidence.

All for now, I guess. Have a rainy/sunny Sunday!

Breta

As I type this, I’m literally feeling a huge lump in my throat and a void in my chest. It sounds so dramatic and I planned on NOT writing about this here for fear of being judged but ugh, who cares? This is how I process things so I really need to write.

I just returned Breta to her owner and I’m not supposed to feel anything since she’s not my dog in the first place but here I am, writing a blog about a 3 y/o beagle who spent the past seven days with us.

Seven beautiful days. It feels like a dream.

Perhaps going back to day one will help me understand where this weird feeling of emptiness is coming from. People say we need to forget the past in order to move on but for me, I believe that we need to understand the past so we are better prepared for whatever it is that’s on our way. I’d rather acknowledge and understand than forget.

It all started two weeks ago when I received a text from Marina. She was asking if they can bring their beagle, Breta to our house. They learned about Marley’s good genes and they were wondering if the two beagles can mate. I thought of it as an answered prayer since I’ve been wanting to find a partner for Marley so I said yes. A couple of days later, Marley and I finally met Marina and Breta. After a short conversation with Marina, I was left with two beagles: a shy Breta on my left and a giddy Marley on my right.

I remember feeling a bit annoyed at first because I had so many things to do. There were articles that had to be written, crafts that needed to be finished, plus some more errands but despite my annoyance, I found myself checking on Breta every now and then. Marley immediately attempted to do what he was supposed to do but Breta just wanted to sit down and familiarize herself with the new environment.

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Seeing double | Canon 550D

Knowing that I easily get attached to people, animals, events, whatever, I kept a safe distance from Breta. I’d feed her when needed, clean her wounds and play with her for a bit but I remained distant. As days passed however, Breta showed some similarities with Roxy. That’s when that familiar area in my chest started to hurt again.

Their barks sound the same. Plus, Breta also does the little things that Roxy used to do. She’d put both front paws on my knee whenever I approach her, or she’d put both her paws on Marley’s back as he walks around the house, and she’d stick her head inside the hole on our door to see if we’re cooking food. It was bittersweet. Think of it as… still trying to be friends with the dingbat who broke your heart. No matter how much you want to break the person’s neck, you need to take the high road, stay classy, and be civil. That sounded a bit morbid but yeah, having Breta around was like that. I didn’t want to break her neck though. I just didn’t want to be overwhelmed by all of the similarities I was seeing, but I had a job to do.

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I finally decided to take down my walls of defense. I began to appreciate Breta’s presence because having her around reminded me of how things were when Roxy was still with us. I went back to feeding and playing with two beagles. Mornings once again meant receiving greetings from two happy beagles, both wagging their tales. For a brief moment, it felt like Roxy was with us once again. Everything felt right once again.

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It was fun, but then this day came. I already knew the fantasy would end at some point, and as much as I want to keep it going, I’ll have to give in and press ‘STOP’. I kept checking on Breta last night, and she was extra cuddly. Her feet were sore from stalking me all morning and I felt bad. I guess that’s how dogs are when they know they’ll be leaving soon : they stalk you, and they stare at you for a long time, as if trying to memorize every single detail.

I was bawling my eyes out hours before Marina and the owner came by for Breta. Part of me didn’t want to let go but part of me also knew that it had to be done. I managed to squeeze in a few minutes with Breta before finally bringing her downstairs. I thanked her for being with us and for allowing us to relive what life was like when there were two beagles in our house, and for doing antics that made us laugh.

Roxy, if that was your doing, tuso ka talaga. I know you would have wanted to say goodbye properly but God had other plans. If that was your way of saying goodbye, of helping me deal with the pain of losing you, of telling me that you are in good hands and that you are no longer in pain, thank you. I felt your presence, and it was a joy having you around once again. In four days you would have been a whole year older and I will blog once again on that day. For now, I’ll have to deal with missing you every single day, reliving all of our happy memories, and looking forward to that time when I’ll get to hug you once again.

To Breta’s owners, thank you. My heart is filled to the brim. Until we meet again.

Morning Routine

These days, I spend the first two hours of each morning at the garden. My mom once told me that everything looks so serene at 5:00 in the morning and after finally having the strength to wake up that early, I had to agree.

Our garden is usually a blend of colors but at 5:00 in the morning, everything looks like it’s desaturated and under a blue filter with an opacity of approximately 25%. It’s not the depressing kind of blue. Rather, it’s the kind of blue that makes you want to sit back and enjoy your cup of hot tea and patiently wait for the sun to show up.

I recently took on the responsibility of looking after my mom’s Echeveria collection and I’ve been trying to apply the things I learned from various articles online. I wasn’t born with a green thumb, but taking on this project is such a huge responsibility so I try to lessen the casualties as much as possible. I make it a point to water them once a week, give them enough sun, and make sure they are healthy. The Echeverias are looking fine, so far. As a matter of fact, I noticed some mini Echeverias this morning:

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Pups also started to appear in some of our cacti. It takes so much time and effort to nurture these plants that’s why my mom and I were thrilled when we saw the teeny tiny versions of our cacti and succulents.

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Yellow Mandala | Canon 550D
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Grafted Gymnocalycium mihanovichii | Canon 550D

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I usually spend the whole two hours at what I call the “propagation station” and monitor the progress of the herb cuttings and some of the succulents. Majority of the first batch of herb cuttings I planted during my grandfather’s birthday died so I tried use a different technique in propagating the second batch of cuttings.

It’s a nice break from all the articles I’ve been writing and crafts I’ve been doing. I have to admit though, there are days when I feel extra impatient. I understand that it takes some time for the plants to grow, but sometimes I can’t help but feel like it’s taking forever to see any progress. There are days, however, when I’m rewarded with blooms from our plants. I must say, seeing their beauty makes the whole waiting period worth it.

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The last picture is actually a Spearmint. I removed the flowers after taking the picture because according to some articles, the leaves begin to taste bitter once the flowers appear.

 

It’ll take a few more weeks for the pups and herb cuttings to grow into healthier and well, much older versions of themselves. Until then, we’ll have to continue our morning routine and take good care of every single one of these plants.

How about you? What’s your morning routine?

Monday Moth

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Monday moth | Canon 100D

Since I saw this moth on a Monday morning, I’ll be calling it “Monday Moth”. I was on my way back to my workstation after taking more pictures for Eco Choices when I noticed that Marley was staring at something on the gate. That’s when I saw Monday Moth.

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Marley and Monday Moth | Canon 100D

At first I thought Marley was trying to ignore me because I insisted on giving him a bath this morning. I found it funny that he was sitting beside the moth and looking at it, as if trying to figure out if it’s something he can eat.

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Chillin’ on a Monday | Canon 100D

You probably think it’s weird that I’m writing about a moth and I don’t blame you. When I started with Project 366, I thought it was going to be easy, but I guess I underestimated the project. The tricky thing with  Project 366 is that at some point, you run out of things to shoot. I know it’s supposed to challenge your photography skills and creativity but sometimes you just feel like you’re shooting the same subjects, and then you decide to just  give up and do it next year, and then Monday Moth appears. Ding! Lightbulb!

Well, here’s to the remaining four days of the week! Cheers!

The Sunday Currently | 05

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“I’m glad to see that you’re finally creating plans for yourself”, he said. I have to agree, it’s been a while since I wrote down tasks and future plans on my mini calendar. I guess that’s what happens when you’re with someone who inspires you. Ack, cheesy but yeah… it’s been a while since I wrote cheesy blog entries too.

Reading

Articles and emails.

Writing
The Sunday Currently vol. 5 + plans :3

Listening
To the rhythm of the falling rain.

Thinking
Possibilities.

Smelling
That rich fragrant smell of shampoo.

Wishing
My back would stop hurting.

Hoping
For more steady rain in the days to come.

Wearing
A floral top and my favorite shorts.

Loving
The weather.

Wanting
A cup of warm green tea.

Needing
An extra pair of hands. Or a button that will automatically delete all of the negatrons in my Facebook feed.

Feeling
Inspired ❤

Join The Sunday Currently link-up by siddathornton!

Eco Choices: Product Shoot

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Two hands, countless crafts, endless possibilities. | Canon 1000D

I spent the entire morning crouching over our wooden table to take pictures of Eco Choices‘ water hyacinth crafts. While it’s always difficult to wake up early on a weekend, I had to fight the temptation to go back to bed because during the Visual Merchandising Workshop, Mr. Rey Soliven mentioned that the best time to do a product shoot is between 9:00 – 11:00 in the morning via natural light. I found a wooden table by the window and after preparing everything, I started to shoot.

I had to measure every single product, after placing it carefully on the table. I wanted to photos to be bright, sharp, and clean not because they will be used for our website, but because the products are equivalent to sleepless nights, expensive workshop fees, revised design concepts, body pains, and hours that I will never get back. I only noticed that I’ve been working for hours when my back started to hurt. I looked at the products and I couldn’t believe I made those. Two hands. Countless water hyacinth crafts.

I’m not writing this so I can brag about what I can do. I’m writing this because I want to give you a glimpse of what happens behind the scenes. There are stories behind each output, and the effort put into each and every single one of them is exceptional. It’s not secret that the products are not perfect and that’s okay because at the end of the day, it’s their imperfections that make them beautiful.

 

 

Entrepreneur Diaries: E-Commerce Seminar + Visual Merchandising Seminar and Workshop

Last May 24, 2016, entrepreneurs gathered at the Greenleaf Hotel in General Santos City to attend the Seminar on Expanding your Business through E-Commerce, an event organized by the Department of Trade and Industry Region 12 in coordination with the E-Commerce Office, the Regional Operations Group, and the Special Concerns Group of DTI. Topics such as Introduction to E-Commerce and Different Internet Payment Platforms were discussed by Ms. Janette Toral, e-commerce advocate of the Philippines and owner of http://digitalfilipino.com.

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So far from the stage but so ready to learn! | Olympus C-5060

I was still a bit groggy when I arrived ( I left Cotabato City at 5:00 in the morning) and during the first few minutes of the seminar, I was overwhelmed with the numbers that Janet showed in her presentation. Apparently, there are billions of internet users all over the world and a huge percentage of that are active social media users. These numbers are impressive! Representatives from Shopify, Ureka, TackThis, Paypal, Gcash, and PayMaya were also there to tell us more about their products and services.

The Visual Merchandising Seminar and Workshop was scheduled the next day, May 25, 2016 at FB Hotel in Koronadal. It was nice to sit down and listen to one of my mentors, Mr. Rey Soliven as he emphasized the importance of visual merchandising and showed various techniques on how to present our products. I think it’s high time that I learned about visual merchandising, especially since our team struggled during the Treasures of Region 12 Trade Fair last year – we did not have the right tools, and we had a hard time decorating the booth.

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Bedazzling Booth Concept | Asus Zenfone

We created mood boards, mini booths, and come May 26, 2016, we were asked to execute the designs that we submitted. There were busy hands everywhere, and it was just refreshing to see the creativity and resourcefulness of the participants. Rewards were given at the end of the program, and after an exchange of calling cards, the participants were finally on their way home.

As a rookie in the world of entrepreneurship, I’m grateful for events like these. I get to network with fellow entrepreneurs, and I always leave with a cup filled with new business-related discoveries.

Raindrops

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I took a break from work and stepped outside when I noticed that it started to rain. I wanted to take macro shots with my Olympus C-5060 and capture the glossy finish of the raindrops but since I wasn’t getting the photos that I want, I switched to my trusty Canon 550D. It was cold outside, obviously, but I didn’t mind because I was busy taking pictures of the raindrops.

IMG_1641I like how raindrops sit on top of leaves or flower petals. It’s like there’s a universe with teeny tiny people inside every single one of them. I tried so hard not to touch the leaves while shooting so they won’t fall off. “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” was playing in my head the whole time.

IMG_1663It took me a while to find the perfect combination of ISO, aperture, and shutter speed to capture this. I was also doing the Asian squat the whole time and it was quite a struggle. I love the photo nonetheless.

IMG_1680Someone played in the rain this afternoon. I wanted to scold him, but then he flashed me those big brown eyes and my heart melted. It’s unfair, really. I have his meds ready just in case he ends up with fever tomorrow.

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The raindrops made pleasant sounds as they hit our roof. I stood there for a while, listened, and tried to tune the world out. I then found peace in the rhythm of the falling rain and the scent of wet garden soil.

IMG_1710I went back to work after taking this picture. It was a short break, but it was enough to make me feel energized. I hope I get to take more pictures tomorrow, with or without rain.