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Heart to Heart

Dear Future Husband: Am Good Without You

Some years back, when I was running a prototype of what will eventually become Paisley Purpose, I wrote a letter to my future husband. Since then, I dated two guys and had two falling outs…had a paranormal encounter with someone who could possibly be my soulmate, a crush, and a few not-so-secret admirers in between.

Yet despite a pretty eventful emotional ride, I’m single. And to my surprise, amusement, and relief, I’m enjoying it. Still, I think of who he could be, and that old letter I wrote.

And I realized, if no one will receive it in this lifetime, it wouldn’t actually be as bad as my lovesick self believed it to be. Here’s a new letter.

Dear Future Husband,

You’re 38 today and though you aren’t my first love, I’m glad I watched Goblin and let you grow on me. I hope we meet soon and that you won’t mind the 14-year age gap. Happy birthday 😀

Your fan and bride,
Den

In case he turns out to be Gong Yoo. 😉 Anyway, let’s get down to business here. Hello, Future Husband. I don’t know if you’ll ever get to me or if you’re born in this lifetime for me. If you are, then I’ll be glad to welcome you into my life. If not, then it’s okay.

Recently, I caught the bridal bouquet at my sister’s wedding, and it made me so excited to finally meet you. After many false alarms, headaches, and heartbreaks, however, I figure that I’m fine without you. Admittedly, I’m not exactly happy and I haven’t been in a long time. But I manage and even thrive. Despite the looming cloud of gloom that I can never entirely shake off, the table-for-one lunches, and the frustration that comes with not having met you yet, here I am. And I’m doing pretty good.

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See, for years you were that one thing I’ve been waiting for. The idea of you was what made waking up, especially during my bad days, bearable. The pursuit of you pushed me to open myself up to others, take risks, and give beyond what I thought I could, despite having been taken for granted, and advantage of, many times over. I believed you were worth everything. I still believe you’re worth it, but maybe, not everything.

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Because while love is the ultimate end, it doesn’t necessarily equate to having you or being yours. As much as I want for it to be you, I understand that you may not be the source of my ultimate. I also understand that you’re not the only source of it. In fact, I understand it so well, that I may have accepted it already and even begun preparing to be the source of it myself.

I’m someone who’s done so much by herself, and will be doing more in the future, for herself. When I was younger, I was afraid of being strong. Because then no one would save me. I was afraid of this…of being okay with being alone. Because then nobody would bother to be with me. I wasn’t strong nor brave back then, and those whom I thought will see me through and help me, didn’t. A few did and I thank them. I did, too. And I continue to, and for that I thank myself.

All these years waiting for you to come and love me, molded me to someone I’m proud of. Embattled and a bit embittered, yes. Hermit and sort of distant, yes. But brave and strong enough to love everything I am, the way I want to.

When I think about you and everything I would want you to be, I realize I’m thinking of someone who will love me the way I love. Fully and emphatically. Freely and intimately. When I’m by myself, I can laugh and cry as much as I want. Most of my best meals are table for one lunches, wherein I don’t have to worry about anyone calling me out for eating a burger. I can be upset about something and tell myself that I am, without judgment. I’m not one to say “I can’t/won’t do this for you, though I know you want this, because this isn’t how I am.” I want me to be happy, with or without you. With me, I can.

Don’t get me wrong, though. I’d love to have you in my life. I’ve cried myself to sleep many times over because you aren’t here and there seems to be no sign of you. I’ve consoled myself again and again after each traumatizing relationship, convincing myself that I’m just a heartbreak away from finally finding you.

I think of how you may be doing in life and all those little details. Your eyes. Your hair. Your go-to OOTD. Your job. Your voice. Your favorite food. Your hugots. If you’re thinking of me too or if you’re distracted by the presence of a beautiful woman with whom you think you’re in love with. (She’s probably there with you and she’ll probably break your heart haha bitter). If you’re happy and if you could be happier with me.

I’m a writer and I can write me the perfect husband. But that would just be ideal and not real. And real is what I hope you would be.

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What I hope you would be, may or may not actually be. And that’s fine with me. See I was going to say there’s a lot of love in store for you if and when you find me. That’s true. But see, if there’s already a lot of love in store for you even when I’m not yet in the picture, then that would be amazing.

Because then you’ll be a person who knows love, is loved, and loves, before I can even add to that. And if I’m not meant to, then it’s all good. I have me to add love upon and I don’t mind doing it forever.

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I’m good where I am and that doesn’t make me look forward to meeting you any less. In case you never come through, I’m fine with an unfulfilled longing. And now I understand that you aren’t my ultimate end, and love is. Love may or may not come from, and with, you. If it doesn’t, then it’s not any less special. And I’m not any less capable or worthy of it. 🙂

 If you come through, there’s love reserved for you, from someone who already understands what it is and accepts what it isn’t. Though for now it isn’t you, there’s enough of it to be for you. And me, of course.

I really wonder who you are, how you are, and what you’re up to. If you’re waiting for me, too, I hope you reach a point when you feel complete by yourself. Because then I’d know that we can truly be happy together, taking turns on being strong, mature, and occasionally spoiling each other.

I wish I could end this by saying let’s continue praying for each other. We should, but hopefully, we know better now. We can’t just sit around and talk to God about possibly meeting or not. We actually have to talk and get in touch and spend time getting to know one another. Ugh. I hope you aren’t as hermit as I am. So…let’s get out of our comfy seats, continue getting to know ourselves…by ourselves and with those who know and don’t know us.

In addition to praying for each other, let’s be interested in what this life has to offer. It sucks to be alone, I know. But it sucks more to be alone, without any interest in other aspects of life, other than getting out of that forever alone zone.

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Let’s live and live and live and live…not in the hopes of ultimately being led to each other, but instead, being led towards a life that brings out the best in us.

Future husband, I mean it when I say I have enough love for us. I love me and so am creating a life in which I am genuinely myself. I love you and so am accepting that you’re free to show up or not. I don’t exactly need you…which sounds kind of mean but is actually great. It means I won’t choose to be with you out of need and if anything, I’ll choose you out of love.

I might go on blind dates to purposely bump into you. Fat chance, but why not, right? One of these days, I hope I do. And if not, there’s always Gong Yoo and reruns of Goblin and Big and other really good KDramas. Kidding aside, there’s always so much life to live and so much love to give and receive beyond you. And I can be happy with that.

I was actually afraid of writing something like this, because I might jinx myself and you really might never come to me. And everything I wrote here, I used to think of as hogwash. Upon reading this, I’m happy to be talking on a different tone and looking forward to you or whatever is, indeed, best for me.

I wish you all the best, dear. Till we meet.

Love,

Den

PS Gong Yoo is still single. It might just be Yoo, so…he. He. He. Surprise me, ahjusshi. Saeng-il Chukkahamnida 😉

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Lady in Healing

Obviously I’m having some difficulties blogging the way I used to, and my monthly releases have gone down from 5 to 3 *sniffles*. Come June, and I realize I’ve only published ONE. ONE, which makes this only my second for the month.

But I do believe that this is all for good. While I wasn’t writing, I’m living out the stuff that I enjoy writing about. I guess that’s a positive development; when you value the moments in your life, capturing them becomes secondary to immersing in them. If you’ve been following Paisley Purpose since it started (huhu thank you very much for doing so), then you know I’m undergoing psychological counselling. And now, I’m glad to let you know that I’m thriving. 🙂

So, what have I been up to?

Catching Up

While I’m able to function well, unhealthy thinking patterns robbed the joy off of many great experiences. Instead of adopting a loving attitude towards being the sister of the bride during my sister’s wedding preps, I found myself dreading the experience and being annoyed at how much work I had to do. Instead of developing my ideas and suggesting them to people who could have found them useful, I kept my marketing plans to myself, for fear that they will be rejected.  You get the picture.

Not only did the mentality keep me from enjoying; it kept me from doing things at all. So now, as I’m on my way to healing, I find myself catching up with life. In between lengthy breaks and alone times, I kept my productivity.

Got me a freelance gig as social media manager at Yeongyang Hansik (yes, that Yeongyang Hansik! See? This blog got me a job!), making graphics and captions to promote the place.

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Began doing song covers, which I have yet to record and share. Haha. Because it turns out that I surprised everyone by singing at my sister’s wedding. Who knows? Maybe in a few years’ time, I may even have a career as a professional wedding singer. Lol. Ayan o, feel na feel ko na.

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Finished watching Goblin, the Korean series. Yes, nagpapalamon na rin ako sa sistema.

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Downloaded the Uber app, and got a ride through it. You know, I was going to download Tinder but phone memory was scarce, and said phone died on me a few days after I planned to install the app. So yeah, it wasn’t meant to be.

Attended a singles conference with my best friend. I got invited to the event the day after I tried and failed to install Tinder on my phone HAHAHA. What are the odds?

And said singles conference has paved the way for what could be the biggest turning point in this journey so far: it got me to my knees.

Unprepared

I wasn’t emotionally ready to attend that conference because it centers on two things that hit dangerously close to home: God and singleness. I was still calling to God, but I refused to listen and trust Him. Those are the last things I’d like to do.  So I made sure to talk to the psychiatrist about it before I spend an entire day listening to the pastors.

Me: I got invited to a singles conference organized by this huge church, and I am not ready for it. More than having to meet new people, I dread having to face God’s presence. It’s a lot like meeting my ex after a very long time. I’m not sure I want to reconnect.

P: What kind of God are you praying to?

M: A personal one.

P: What is this God like?

M: Can’t say He’s fully good or bad.

P: Then what is He?

M: He is present.

P: And you’ve been through a lot together?

M: Yes.

P: And you think that it’s reason enough to give this relationship another shot?

M: Yes. More than enough.

I spent around half an hour debating whether or not to have a long overdue quiet time with Him in my favorite part of the university: the adoration chapel. After grabbing a bite and a bottle of water, I went into the chapel, taking the silence in as my heavy chest ached, and my legs began feeling as though I spent hours on the treadmill. It was then that I realized how tired I was of running from the spiritual stirrings that I refused to trust. And as I sat before it, the exhaustion from withholding all my burdens from Him overcame me and held me in place. Then there I was, listening again for the first time in a long, long time. The heaviness didn’t disappear immediately, but peace came.

It wasn’t the kind of “peace” that came with a resolve to give up. It’s a peace that surrenders all heartache and opens itself to faith…in spite of fate. So dread for that Saturday event was replaced with newfound excitement, a willingness to abandon that mistrust’s offshoots, and a decision to rebuild those which it has damaged as a result thereof.

So much weight has been lifted since then. And as I respond to these new feelings, I find something that I’ve long been missing: the joy of living.

Things haven’t been a walk in the park, and in between the breaks and the productivity, were days when I’d rather stay in bed, sleep, and just lock myself up in a room. On particularly stressful days, I’d have the urge to get on long bus rides without definite destinations—just so I could disappear for a while. Or for good.

The invitation to that event doubled as an invitation to begin my spiritual healing in the form of a reconciliation with God. I remember watching “The Shack” movie, in which God (portrayed by Octavia Spencer), said, “The problem in your life is that you don’t believe I’m good.”

That resonated with me, and I realize that it’s the root of all trust issues I’ve ever had with anyone in my life, ever since I was young. We’ll get to that in another blog. To have been able to start clearing it up is a major step in my journey to mental, emotional, and spiritual healing.

And looking back at how everything unfolded the way it did and still does, God is good, and so is life, even in the midst of struggle. I haven’t said that with conviction in a long, long time, and now I did. Praise God.

Happy for Me

This is truly one of the biggest steps I have ever taken so far, and I know that thousands of small ones will follow to lead me to other milestones in my healing. There are still plenty of issues to contend with, and addressing the fundamentals will strengthen me to face up to them, and maybe even see that they’re not issues to begin with J

I’m happy for myself, and if you’re on a similar journey, I hope you reach happier times in your process as well.

So…this is pretty much what I’ve been up to as a lady in healing: keeping busy catching up with, enjoying, and rebuilding the good things in life, with a good God. Finally, I’m turning on a new leaf for real 🙂

Life Lessons from Being the Maid of Honor

More than half a year ago, my sister confirmed her engagement. We were all happy for her, but truth be told, I dreaded the announcement. Being the frugal, stubborn, indecisive,and hands-on person that she is, I’m sure she will not employ a wedding coordinator. And as her one and only design savvy sister, I’m almost a hundred percent sure I will have to step into the role, on top of being the maid of honor. It was bound to be stressful, and, given my dislike for big family affairs, I was sorely tempted to back out.

Sorry sister. I didn’t think I was willing to work that hard for you. But of course even I’m surprised that I am. 😉

Anyway, that was more than 8 months back, and time went by so fast. One month came after the other, and thankfully,  I was able to prepare, though it didn’t make the occasion any less overwhelming. When the day came, however, it felt like I’ve been at it all along. Being her maid of honor wasn’t all that different from being her sister. 

There was much to pick up from the novel, albeit stressful, experience. Take these from my first, and maybe last, maid of honor stint. 

It’s HER DAY.

I guess the reason MOH-ing didn’t feel different from being the bride’s sister is that the occasion is hers. And it kind of always been that way since we were young, whether she agrees or not. She always had the spotlight, was everyone’s favorite, no matter how stubborn or occasionally annoyingly noisy she was. She charms everyone, and though that wasn’t easy to swallow, I got used to it. Being maid of honor on her special day is just bringing that setup to a bigger stage, so it wasn’t much of a stretch. 

There’s no room for being a diva on a wedding day where you’re playing support. She and the occasion should be the priority. Kahit mainit o naka-heels ka, if you need to run somewhere to get something for  a her, do it. Kung nagtataray na siya, huwag mong sabayan. Gawan mo ng paraan. And if you’re a bridesmaidzilla or anything like that, keep your problems to, and solve them by, yourself. Don’t give her anything more to worry about. Ngarag na ang bride and, chances are, mangangarag ka rin. But it’s her day; in her behalf, make sure na lang that everything is taken care of and going well. Ibalato mo na sa kanya; it’s just one day.

Be ready to rise to the occasion. 

Kung may coordinator, swerte mo. At least you can relax a bit. Kung wala, iyak na lang. 😂😂😂 Seriously, though. Regardless of her having one or not, you will have to rise to the demands of the occasion. There’s bound to be lots of mishaps, and you have to be ready to attend to them. Be it her need for a bottle of water, safety pins, and other wedding essentials, or the guests’ clamor for a fun yet short night, you have to have them all in check.

I’ve had my briefing months before, when she brought me along to  see all the wedding suppliers. She had me choose the flowers, the arrangements, and the color motif; heck, even the style of her own wedding dress! When we went to get the mock-ups and see the couturier, I had to wear a dress in the same shade as her motif so we can make sure that we got the right color. 

So, yes. The occasion, apart from the bride, has many demands of its own, and some of them will come up on the spot. Be ready to face them.

Tips, anyone? Here’re some of mine:

1. Bring a bag containing:

Tissue paper

Feminine pads 

Water

Mints

Bobby pins

Safety pins

Checklists of everything needed at the wedding 

USB with all wedding -related files (audio, video, images)

Copy of wedding flow and program

Phone

Pocket wifi (especially handy if she doesn’t have a coordinator, for the last-minute file downloads of AVPs and audio or whatnot)

Perfume

*Remember to make room for small wedding gifts and notes, though. Pretty sure friends will hand them to you for safekeeping. 

2. Wear platforms. Heels are off limits when you’re doubling as runner. Opt for platforms to get height and comfort. 

3. Always be on stand by near the entrance, both at the church and the restaurant or events place. Because yes, people will be looking for you to do shitloads of stuff.

4. Have your game face on. The wedding might have games or other activities. As MOH, you need to participate. Mandamay ka na rin, while you’re at it. Kawawa naman si bride, baka mapahiya. 

Those are my tips, so far. Will add more if and when I remember other stuff.

Let her shine.

It’s a given that she should take centerstage. The MOH should always think of complementing the bride and not outshining her. Paano? Idaan sa pagsunod sa color motif. Keep makeup light and natural, hairstyle soft and feminine. Wear fewer blings than she does, and dapat iba talaga ang cut ng damit nyo. If body hugging sa kanya, go ka with the flowy style. And! Never show a lot of skin, huy. Kasal to teh, what’s more, kasal ng soul sister, bff, Basta, a very special woman in your life. Hindi ito okasyon para magmaganda ka. 

But it doesn’t mean you can’t shine. 

Let’s face it. On the wedding day, you’re the primary PA to the bride. But it shouldn’t be a reason for you to look shabby and haggard. At a wedding, everything should look perfect, including you. 

Luckily for me, despite the challenging MOH duties, our HMUA of choice, Naturale by Nins, kept us looking perfect all throughout the event. Sa wakas, nakatikim din ng artistahing makeup ang lola mo! And let’s not forget the gown. Couturier Paul Santos of Coutuba Couture did an amazing job with our gowns. Finally, lahat ng di ko naranasan sa prom at grad ball, nabigay lahat on the wedding ^_^ needless to say, we looked and felt stunning during the wedding. Winner!

And you will shine, as you do everything with love. Not anyone can be MOH to the bride, and the fact that she chose you means you are important to her, and she to you. So as you carry out your many duties, ngarag as you are, do them all with love. 

As much as I didn’t want to be all panicky and busy on the day, I thought, if it were my day, my sister surely would have done the same. So despite the apprehensions, it’s really a go. And when you’re already there, even you will be surprised at what you’re willing to do (e.g. Run around the church and sing a not-so-well-rehearsed special number)just to make things great for the dear bride and everyone she loves.

Your time will come.

I’m single with a lot of personal issues to contend with, and attending a wedding and doing so many, many things for someone whom I’m always compared to is one of the hardest things I have ever done. It’s draining and frustrating to be maid of honor at my current state of mind and heart. But I’m not just her MOH. I’m her sister, and when the day came, as other days did, that mattered more. 

If you’re frustratedly single or impatiently waiting to become a bride yourself, and then you’re thrusted into the maid of honor position, enjoy the moment. I understand how hard that can be but it’s a once in a lifetime event you’re lucky to be a part of! 🙂 Go! You’ll have your turn one day. 

It gets old, I know. But don’t ruin the day just because you have that “kelan naman kaya ako” etched at the back of your head. I have been waiting 23 years, frustratedly, and I made it a point to enjoy the day–her turn, and the succeeding days, until I get mine. 

And I am excited for when I finally get there. If catching the bouquet is any indication, then maybe I won’t have to wait that long anymore. Haha. Fingers crossed. 🙂

It doesn’t end at the wedding.

MOH-ing to the sister is a lifetime thing for me, and I have come to terms with it so many times. God willing, I’ll be around for more milestones. Hopefully, less stressful this time hahaha. And of course, God willing, she’ll be around when I have mine, too. 

Wedding’s over, and though I hate to admit it, MOH-ing is pretty fun. Sa mga friends ko na ikakasal sa future, please get a coordinator if ako ang maid of honor hahaha. Yoko na pong mastress. 

For now, I’ll take a breather. Been an honor (and also a horror hahaha) to be maid of honor. Now officially relieved of MOH duties. 🙂 But as sister and friend, it’s obviously not the end. 

Holding Back That Silent Voice

I recently got back to drawing, my first love. Before the words came, there were the images. Cute anime style images, to be exact. I loved drawing. Enough to take up a four-year course to be good enough in it and make a career out of it. Only that, in those four years, instead of honing my skills, I found that I may not actually be good enough to thrive as an illustrator or designer. 

Sure, I passed the course. Even got a B+ on my design thesis. But I never got the confidence to pursue the original dream: to speak in color. It wasn’t a total waste, though, as I developed a way with words. Soon, I found myself a couple of jobs as a wordsmith, and it was the beginning of a new dream. 

Still, when I find old sketchbooks and merchandise designs I made, I couldn’t help but miss the drawing process. What if I didn’t let my lack of confidence hold me down?

People around me had been very supportive of my drawing jobs, as well as my writing engagements. My mom, who’s a talented portrait artist, always encouraged me to learn more about the craft and explore different styles. But feelings of inadequacy got the better of me, and I stopped drawing for years. I only volunteer to do it when people specifically asked for chibi. If not, then my sketchbook will be left to just gather dust. 

I guess I can say the same about my vocal chords. While singing was never really a passion, I do have the chops. I did join choirs and even won a contest years back, and occasionally, I’d catch myself randomly jamming with others, who end up inviting me for choir practice and carolling. I never went to any of them.

As much as I’d like to believe I have what it takes, I mostly don’t. When I do, the confidence quickly fizzles out, and the sketchbook and the vocal chords will start gathering dust once again, until I remember that I still have them.

It wasn’t always this way. Back when I was in kindergarten, a silent but firm voice told me that I was cut out for whatever comes my way. Before I got into the kids’ choir, I told myself that I should audition because I can sing just as well as the other kids. And I used to beam with pride as I show my compilation of drawings during art classes. 

Oh the things I’d give to have the confidence of my younger self back again. What held that silent voice back? Me being stuck in the “I’m not good enough” mentality. The voices I listened to drowned out my own, and the gifts I have always had were left to sit around and gather dust, instead of getting polished. 

It wasn’t always like this. And I am working hard to make sure it won’t always be like this. The silent voice may have been held back for so long, but it was never gone. I figure that I just need to listen to it more, so it will never be drowned out. 

As I go through a journey of healing and embark on the process of realizing many new endeavors, I look forward to empowering that voice within, and not letting even my own thoughts hold it back. As I rediscover many forgotten passions, I pray for the courage to pursue them and use them for the glory of He who bestowed them upon me.

Holding back no more and looking forward to new journeys. 

14 Reasons Not: Revising a Suicide Note

Back in 2005, at around 11 or 12 years old, I drafted a suicide note. It was pretty long, containing a litany of rants about people and severe bullying instances and countless misgivings that eventually led to my desire for an early demise, at least at that time. 

Written on a torn page of an old gradeschool notebook, it opened with, “If I die anytime soon, it will be because of…”, followed by a list of people and what they did to push me to the edge. It read like a not-so-creative version of Hannah Baker’s tapes, but it was just as pained and resentful. It was, after all, designed to make people regret.

That note was never finished as there were simply too many reasons, and I eventually forgot about it. Not because things got better, but because I thought it probably wouldn’t matter anyway. Years after I wrote it, I have no clue where to find it, but in my head, I found more and more reasons to add to that list. Only that, I never found the perfect day and way to do it. 

Maybe because, I’m not meant to. For years I struggled to understand myself and why I am who I am. Am I hard to love? Do I have mental health issues? Is life just so damn difficult? During my second counseling session on May 4, I realize it’s a yes to the last two questions. And another yes, to a fight well fought and a life well lived. 

With that, here I am, typing away and attempting to revise my 12-year old suicide note. At 23, I take a different angle, and I begin with this:

If I choose to stay another day, then it’s because…

1. I haven’t even started to live yet. Having gone through years of bullying and criticisms from people who are simply out to get me and people who are, by default, close to me, has a huge weight on the choices I made. Looking back now, as a young woman, I recognize that most of them were made to meet the expectations of others. 

I got jobs when I would have wanted to go on vacation after I graduated. I said I would consider some options, personal and professional, that  I don’t even intend to follow up on. Even putting off counseling was a conscious choice meant to preserve the image of a mentally strong young person. I remember having an ex who told me he just saw me as “happy and wise all the time” when I had a really bad day. Though as much as possible I don’t want to go running back to the negatives, I want to be able to go through each day knowing that I am true to myself and free to make the decisions that I believe will enrich my life. 

I got by, meeting expectations. I think it’s about time I start living a little.

2. I haven’t met me yet. Given that I did things mostly to meet expectations, I didn’t really have a lot of opportunities to figure out what I want in life. I’m okay with whatever’s convenient or available, but I need to know what I want and find ways to get to them. That way, I will get to know myself better. 

3. If I haven’t yet, I want to love me. It’s a process that I want to live out for a long time. I owe it to myself to be around to do so, when I have been around to live through everything thus far.

4. I am loved. One of my friends expressed his happiness and relief upon hearing that I will be undergoing counseling. Having seen what I have had to go through, he said it was about time. Because he was also leaving for Canada at that time, he also said,”I would hate for me to have to go back to see you because of some very sad news.” 

It hit me that it matters that I’m gone when I’m gone. And though it’s not easy to believe you’re loved when you’re battling so many demons inside, love will constantly shine a glimmer of hope and home, reminding you that it’s there. And it will be up to you to surrender to it.

5. I love. If there’s one thing 23 tumultuous years and failed almost-relationships and friendships taught me, it’s that I love deeply and genuinely. In this young life, I figure there’s still much of that to give.

6. I haven’t met the love of my life yet. If there’s another thing this 23-year old life has taught me, it’s that I haven’t met my great love as of yet. I’m not looking now, but I sure want to be around to marvel on the moment when it does come. Whether the love of my life comes in the form of career fulfilment, marriage, or maybe a house full of adorable pet tarantulas (kidding, but who knows?), I want to have the privilege of welcoming them into my life. And blogging about them and making cute chibi versions of them and telling them everyday that they’re worth the fight and the wait. Aww. What a lucky man, pet, or job you will be!

7. I want to see my friends get married. They know who they are. Haha. I invited myself already. I even volunteered to become godmother to the future kids already. Love you guys.

8. I want to meet my future nieces and nephews. Because I am willing to bet that I will be a fabulous aunt and they will surely love me. 😉

9.  I want to save up for retirement. The parentals’ and then my own. I want to have enough for the occasional yolo-ing and of course see the parentals spoil the grand kids some day.;)

10. I want to take part in growing businesses. Via Paisley Purpose and other means. I got started already and I will be at it again soon. 🙂

11. I want to design my own wedding dress and walk down the aisle in it. I also want to do that bridal walk holding a flower arrangement from Bloom Buds because why the heck not. And make no mistake about it: even if I have to go to Japan and wed myself, I will because I really want to tick this off my bucket list. *Wink*

12. There’s a dress in my closet that I have yet to wear. And no I don’t want to wear it to my wake. Got it on sale and it’s too pretty. I want to wear it when I’m alive and kicking. 

13. I have to go on an Ignatian silent retreat again. Because nothing beats a couple of days’ worth of solace in and with God. 

14. And speaking of God, He isn’t done with me yet. Faith crisis after faith crisis, disappointment after disappointment, He draws me back. Makes me stronger. Makes me learn. He shows me that He isn’t done with me yet, and though I do find it daunting, I’m also excited for whatever He has planned.

 This reason alone is enough for me to realize that I’m not done with life the same way it’s not done with me. While the most trying times can break even the mentally strong ones to total surrender, it doesn’t mean we all end up the same. After all, we each surrender differently, and we can only trust the response of life and the One who gave it, to turn out for the best.

I’d like to think that they respond by letting me continue with this life. And I’m proud to say that I’m doing so with some help. 

Looking at it now, maybe the reason I can’t find the suicide note or the disposition to actually get around it is because I will eventually find new reasons, and one great reason enough, for me to choose otherwise. 

By staying, I own up to that suicide note I drafted more than a decade ago, and add more reasons to stay as I get older. What a long and beautiful note that one would have been.

Still, it won’t hurt to turn on a new leaf. So here I am, still typing away. After revising that suicide note 12 years after it was drafted, I’m looking forward to drafting a new chapter in the life I am now choosing to live.

Sometimes you just have to realize there’s still much to live for to go on living. God be with me in this journey.

It Began With Fat

Ideas. There are times when I’d come close to convincing myself that I’ll never run out of them. They’re incredibly handy when I need to get creative with promos, captions, and write-ups, but they can also be a huge nuisance when all I want to do is to laze around and silence my head.

And they become especially cruel when they’re not mine and I don’t like them, and they’re inadvertently ingrained to my consciousness. I have a lot of cruel ideas that shaped the way I see myself, and it’s a difficult ongoing fight. Because of them, I struggle to lift myself up and have, in the process, almost given up in doing so.

Ideas can have good intentions but can still come out so wrong. I have always been subject to many people’s scrutiny because of my body type. Before I even had any idea what a body type is, aunts, uncles, and nosy neighbors have already ingrained it in my head that I was fat. Even after losing a lot of weight over the years, their predicament didn’t change; after all, that’s still how I would look when standing beside the delicately built, 100-lb mother and sister. It was almost as if I am predisposed to believe I was fat, and even less of a person, all my life. And since I never lacked reminders, that’s what happened.

Years upon years of being told that I was fat, and hearing how my mom is forever slim and how my sister is pretty, took a huge toll on me, mentally and emotionally. This, I believe, marked the start of the downward spiral of my self-esteem, if I even had any to begin with.I overcompensated and was under constant pressure to prove myself. If I wasn’t pretty, I could be smart. Or talented. Or kind. I was everything I thought people wanted me to be, as I fell into the habit of learning to morph into what was expected of me.

Of course, that wasn’t enough to keep the fat remarks from coming, or the bullies from backstabbing. And so it went, from when I was eleven, until I hit my early twenties, that people will expect, and I will over-deliver, only to learn later on that it will never be enough. 

I was miserable for many, many years; my default mode is stressed. At the back of my head, I hear those remarks about my weight, or what could be comments about my work, and feel the need to always be doing something. Otherwise, I feel guilty for slacking off again. Whenever I attempt to talk about my long-standing issues, I feel that some confidantes may be too busy to listen. And I, myself, would think that maybe I’m just overthinking. Sure, I feel awful deep inside. I developed a hatred for family reunions. During the earliest months of Paisley Purpose, I refused to show my face in any of the entries. For a time, I even decided to discontinue it because I’m not pretty like other bloggers. It felt so bad. But I function oh so well. And I’m fat. I look anything but sick or in need of any help. 

But I knew I do. So I asked for it. Last week, April 27, I had my first counseling session at our university’s center for psychological services. I have layers upon layers of personal issues I want to address, to enable myself to live the life I want.

I’m young and I want to empower myself to realize the life I have always dreamed of. I want to enjoy a career of my choice, trips alone, and maybe, God willing, a happy and fulfilling relationship one day. But most of all, I just want a shot at being happy with myself, at living life without having to consider what is expected of me, so I can just focus on what is authentic to me. 

It’s too early to say that the session has been helpful, but it has, at least, been able to establish a definite cause for the way I have thought of myself. I’m not over a lot of things yet, but I’m strong enough to have lived through them. 

Seeking professional help, for me, is more a fight to live fully and happily, rather than a fight to choose life over death. I’m relieved to have finally chosen to embark on it. I am hopeful that I’ll overcome the cruel idea of fat, and all the other shallow misgivings, with a newfound love for and sense of self. 

What began with fat, will, hopefully, end with an unconditional love for myself that will empower me to live life to the fullest. Fighting the fight. Keeping the faith.

An Intuitive, Empathic Wordsmith

Many of my friends aren’t sure what I’m actually doing for a living. Most thought I’d be handling a corporate job. Then there are others who think I’d pursue illustration, which I was a huge fan of just a decade ago. I didn’t end up doing any of them. 

Instead, I found a year-long job as a wordsmith. And though it wasn’t a big shot stint, boy, did I believe it was tailored for me. Being a wordsmith in the digital age is exciting: it’s insanely structured and stylized yet so full of room for creativity and authenticity. And let’s not forget, influence.

That single year and a couple of months flexed my writing muscles, teaching me what to write, how to write it, when to write it, and who to write it for. While it didn’t guarantee viral posts, it cultivated a habit and developed a more refined wording technique. Not necessarily less is more, but more of, everything necessary is enough. In the words of my former boss, fluff-free. Being fluff-free requires direction and foresight. And direction and foresight wouldn’t be clear without instinct and empathy. Every word. Every sentence. Every image. Every post. Every blog entry. It revolves around what feels right to you and what is right for your audience. Of course, you can’t do away with your client, but as a cultivator of ideas, you make recommendations. Suggestions backed by market research and an experience of being one with those who see your work and the brand which it showcases. There is always something bigger than a client’s request and a group’s demand. And that’s the customers’ clamor. Clamor for new ways to see whatever it is you are presenting to them. 

As a digital marketing writer, my editors often told me that my strength was creating different angles and approaches to an age-old topic. In other words, I can make it sound new. For me, my strength as a wordsmith is that I can put my empathy to words. I can tell customers what they want and need to hear, and I can tell my client what they will need more of, or what they can do away with. It’s about adding value to what others value. And in the process, weeding out what they do not need. 

I am a wordsmith and I have audiences. And my most constant audience is myself. I am very aware of the influence words have on those whom they reach. In the marketing world and in everyday life, you either wield its power as you would a sword, or silence them till they are forgotten. In this line of work, I choose to do both. 

Marketing involves more media, and writing different forms may take a back seat. But not really. Words bind everything together. Style showcases what words bind, the way others will see it best. And time and context will reveal it the way others will see and accept it the most. 

Being a wordsmith brought me to marketing. Developing empathy, foresight, and focus allowed me to make opportunities for myself, regardless of who says what about my job. 

I know my skills as a young professional may be limited, but that will only be true if I allow it to define the quality of my work. At the heart of this complicated variety of media are a string of words expressing powerful ideas. And I am the mind that conceives them and the hand that writes them. 

Of Graces, Hopes, and New Beginnings

I’d always count April 2, 2016 as my square one, career-wise. I was working on an article about budget fashion and dropped by N.Cat, a Korean accessories store, in BGC to take photos. It was my first time commuting to BGC, and also, my first time to encounter people who thought I was a blogger. The lady on the photo below, on the left side, yes, her, with the braid, she asked if I was an accessory blogger.

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I had a light bulb moment right there and then. Lo and behold, months after, Paisley Purpose was born, with N.Cat as the subject of my first entry on styling. A couple more entries followed, and a few blogger invites came, from an up and coming Korean resto and a talented HMUA. Who’d have thought they’ll eventually open new opportunities for me? 🙂

It’s been more than a week since my last day at work, as a full-time digital marketing writer. With no job security, it’s like starting from square one, which, by all accounts, is still much better than ground zero, and it’s thanks to the blog. It didn’t stay chill, as I thought square one would be, for long. On my last day at work, I got two calls. A message soon followed around a day later. And then two days after my official exit, I landed a freelance gig, one that requires me to go beyond writing.

It’s a temporary setup, I know, but it’s a great start, and it’s one that I really prayed for and about. Just a few days into the job, someone offered me a follow-up engagement, which has all the potential to become long-term, and I couldn’t be more thankful.

Those who follow my blog would know of my constant wrestling with God, and my lack of faith on His timing. Nothing says perfect will and timing better than the turnout of events this past week. I mean, His grace and perfection aren’t new to me, but because I usually resent how they don’t manifest the way I want them to, I end up missing out on the joys they bring.

This isn’t life as I imagined it to be at this age, but there’s no denying that this is way more than I have bargained for. See, God gives you more than you can take, but never more than you can handle. The triumphs and trials, as well as the strength to face them, all come from Him, the ever-abundant source.

At 23, in all honesty, plan A was settling down early in life. Plan B was entering the religious vocation. Plan C was killing off every ounce of character I have to land me a high paying job that just involved doing menial, repetitive tasks. Notice a common denominator in all these? They’re all about me finding acceptance within a particular group of people, the easy way. Never about finding myself and willingly surrendering and collaborating with God. Me considering an entrance to the vocation wasn’t because God extended the invitation to me already; it’s Plan B. The religious vocation is a way of life too special to be dismissed as just that.

And what about my dreams and His plans for me? My only dream is to be accepted by others, so I guess no matter how unambitious plans A through C seemed, they were almost entirely self-centered. Not at all self-respecting and God-fearing. Being God, He gave me some well-deserved disciplining, got me out of work, out of my self-centered and destructive nonsense, and brought me to places, mostly because of the demands of my blog, the very fruit of a gift He has generously gave and shaped in me.

March is graduation month, and years after I have finished school, it still feels like graduation to me. Full of graces, hopes, and new beginnings. Embarking on a journey that involves a balance of chasing, waiting on, standing by, and working hard for, the opportunities that will allow me to live out God’s will the most, is no walk in the park. Thankfully, it’s not one that I’ll walk alone. 🙂

As His plans gradually come into play, I learned more than a few things. First, God will always, always be there, loving you and paving the way for you, whether you like it or not. Second, He didn’t let you go through what you did, just for the heck of it. Through it, He’ll shape you and bring you to where you need to be.

And that destination may or may not be what you thought you wanted. In my case, it wasn’t, and it gave me new dreams and the means to achieve them. Third, don’t let reciprocity be your motivation for doing anything. Whether or not it gives you something in return, do it out of love: love for God, yourself, the journey, and everything and everyone that came together to make it possible.

This is only the beginning, and graces and hopes are already clearly at play. Never mind that it isn’t plan A, B, or C. It’s God’s, and that’s what matters most.

I celebrate and rejoice in it. AMDG. 🙂

Summer Shimmer; Starting Over

Summer came around a bit earlier this year, won’t you agree? The days are longer and the skies are brighter. Of course, the sun’s beginning to roast our skin, even sans the beach-y setting. And summery stuff also start popping up, here and there. Summery stuff like what, you say?

Summery stuff like the Summer Glow Makeup Workshop by Beauty Squad On the Go, which I attended last Sunday. 🙂 Pro makeup artist and hairstylist Nins, whose workshop I also attended around two months back, invited me to the fun 2-hour session which she, along with her friends and pro HMUAs Kat Nazario and Reese del Rosario, held in her studio in QC.

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Image from: Beauty Squad On the Go FB Page

Because the talented ladies are going to hold a 4-hour session this coming Saturday, I won’t spill a lot of details. I’ll just let you in on what you can look forward to.

  1. Copping the summer glow-Obviously, summer makeup ain’t heavy on product layering, but it still involves that. In this workshop, you’ll learn to layer products properly, so you don’t end up looking cakey and sun-melted, and look glowing and sun-kissed, instead.
  2. Slaying the season with easy-to-pull off and manage hairstyles-Want chic braids, beach waves, and messy high buns you can rock in and out of the beach? Let the Beauty Squad pros teach you how to do them all.
  3. Pictorial-Because, of course, getting dolled up won’t ever be complete without those beauty shots, taken by Lemons to Lemonade Project, no less. Such a great way to have your shining moment. 😉

Excited yet? There’s still ONE SLOT left for this Saturday’s Summer Glow Workshop by Beauty Squad On the Go. Check their Facebook page for more details and updates 😀

Starting Over

I get excited whenever summer comes around. Though I don’t have beach escapades or lengthy vacations, I see summer as a time to get started with new things. The sun rises real high, and so should I!

A couple of months back, I was looking forward to company outings with colleagues and trips with college friends. Now that the season has begun, I’m not where I originally planned to be. I had my last day at work just this Tuesday, so no company outing with my girls. Trips? Hmm, maybe not yet, without funding from a stable job.

So, yes. Instead of planning summer activities, here I am, starting over. It’s pretty scary, but it’s not half bad. There’s still so much in store for me and my loved ones: job interviews, homecomings, adopting new habits, among other things. Can’t wait to write about them soon. 🙂 And looking forward to starting over this summer, with my newfound (literal and figurative) glow and shimmer.;)

 

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