Who are we without the people who have raised us?

It is in sadness and guilt that I write today’s blog. I found out this morning that my grandpa had passed away.

Before we moved to Canada my grandparents raised me. They lived with my parents and my siblings during the years my parents both worked full time. And while we had moved to Canada I maintained a close relationship with them, visiting them every other year, talking on the phone and even writing letters.

It has only been the last five years, the years of my growth, that I have not kept in touch with my grandpa. I had grown ‘busy’ trying to develop a career and building a life that I thought I had to live. He had stayed here with my aunt’s family and yes I knew this time was coming near. I took him for granted and distanced for the sole purpose of avoiding this huge feeling of loss right now – as I had when I lost my grandmas. But now instead of just feeling loss I’m feeling guilt, sadness and a sense of confusion. Who have I become?

The Filipino culture is so entrenched with the concept of family. I used to go to my cousin’s cousin’s birthdays, new years etc. Living in Vancouver has made celebrating every possible occasion difficult due to the expenses. How can I go out and celebrate everything when I need to constantly work to afford the lifestyle I want? And how can I develop my career if I have to consider so many other schedules into my work week?

I hope to change all this, to find my Filipino core and re-start spending more time with my family. For now, I’m left feeling so sad and so so guilty.

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Out with the old, in with the new? What is new?

Every year as December 31st hits we’re all faced with this sudden urge to create resolutions and goals for change in the upcoming year.  It’s as if  ‘January 1st’ is some magical day.

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Maybe my thyroid medicine isn’t working or I’m just suffering from my lack of Vitamin D but why do people wait until the end of the year to make choices that would benefit themselves in the long run? As each friend asks for my resolutions or goals it makes me cringe to think of falling in line with social norms (yet again) to reassess what’s wrong with my life and think about what/how to make it better.

Yes, I haven’t been in the best of moods. The lack of sun and my thyroid gland, that I had never paid attention to for all my life, all the sudden now demands 100% of my attention. Most people who know me can tell you about how painfully optimistic or chipper I can be at all hours of the day and even at trying times of the year.

For the last few weeks I have not been ‘myself’. I notice my lack of energy in socializing, my lack of ambition to further my career or even motivation to pursue my hobbies. I stopped taking my Vitamin D sprays – not too sure why but I feel pretty blah again. And in my head I begin to wander down the spiral thought process of life and its purpose.

What is the purpose of life? Some live it to leave a legacy through work or family and others live it to experience every nuance life has to offer.

I binge watched a Netflix series called Mindhunter. The show is based on two FBI Agents interviewing and analyzing the mind of serial killers. It’s so fascinating to hear about how other people view life and see how they perceive themselves along with the world around them. Granted, this series is fiction.

But how do people develop their perception of life and its purpose? As the new year rolls around how do we create these ‘new’ goals – what are they driving us towards?

All questions I’m sure we all as ourselves.

Winter blues

It’s sunny and beautiful in Vancouver this December. The holiday tunes are out in full swing on local radio stations and store fronts are decked in all the tinsel ornaments you can find. Typically at this time of year you’d find me crafting in my corner, chatting away at my networking groups and feverously shopping at the local gift store. This year is a little bit different.

This year I was given a bit more responsibility at work, I got married then flew out of town for work the next week and… my thyroid was literally knocked out.  I told myself I wasn’t the type of bride that went nuts to go on diets for a one day event (as opposed to building better long term lifestyle habits). I ate all the healthy things, supplemented occasionally and tried to maintain physical activities. September hit and it seemed that I had actually done the opposite. My body literally felt heavy and tired – worse yet my mind was tired.

After seeing my naturopath she immediately put me on natural thyroid medication (my choice). She recommended some rhodiola and ashwagandha plus tonnes of vitamin D. I’m definitely seeing a perk in my mood but overall – as Facebook reminds me my past holidays – I’m noticing that this year is different.

pexels-photo-699372I will admit, I am feeling far better this week than last (might also be from all the sun?). And so I start to think about those who do feel the blues this season. Not everyone celebrates Christmas, and not everyone loves the idea of consumer gifting – with the current environmental issues all the wrapping paper/packaging being used at this time could understandably cause more damage.

Do you celebrate Christmas? And what are you doing to support the environment through gift giving?

 

A bad day in Vancouver …

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Blogs about Vancouver usually describe its beauty or the many unique cuisines you can find in this tourist gem of a city. I rarely see blog posts about safety or security in Vancouver, so in light of recent events I’m unearthing my blog. Vancouver, as it grows, still also has the pitfalls of many other cities – tourists be wary.

This morning at about 6:30 AM I sat at the Starbucks Coffee shop on Cambie & Broadway earnestly working on my laptop. I guess that I was so focused on my work that someone had the ability to reach into my bag, which was sitting less than a foot beside me, and take my wallet. It was only after a couple hours that I noticed my wallet was missing and went into a panicked frenzy.

No one likes having anything stolen, wallets least of all. Mine contained my ID, debit/credit cards, loyalty cards, gift cards and most importantly however, in my wallet was money for this month’s rent; I was planning to deposit it into my account for the end of the month deadline.

After calling my bank and being told that both my debit and credit card had already been used at the nearby drug store I was hit with a sense of sadness. It was a horrible gut wrenching feeling when I realized it was actually stolen. It wasn’t just the money that my fiance and I worked so hard for but the idea that someone violated my personal space – while I was sitting right there!

Most people around me know how unbearably optimistic and positive I am but when I started thinking about the simple act of a person violating my personal space it dragged me down a wormhole of  questions that rocked my core: why do people do these things? Why is it that in all the dangerous places I’ve travelled I’ve only ever had my belongings stolen in the city I call home? Should I be carrying my cards or money on a strap around my neck as tourists do?

The rhetoric in my head started becoming pretty depressing. My fiance came home and he was far more expressive than I was about this whole situation. As he lamented over losing our rent money with various Irish curses, I came to realize that things could be far far far worse. Throughout the day friends and coworkers generously offered support and getting all my cards re-issued seems to be straightforward. We stopped to think of what would happen if we weren’t as fortunate in a situation as we are now and were filled with so much gratitude.

Vancouver is a beautiful city and most people are generally wonderful but as the city continues to grow we should also remind tourists to keep watch over their belongings. As such with most urban centres, pickpocketing and other big city crimes exist. With summer around the corner I’m hoping to use this blog post as a caution for the tourists that are heading this way.

This beautiful gem of a city also has it’s sharp edges.

The countdown

weddingAfter I completed my undergraduate degree I completed an Event Marketing Management Certificate at BCIT. On numerous occasions I was offered the opportunity to choose ‘Wedding Planning’ as one of my electives to complete my program and opted for other courses. I believe most aspects of event planning is pretty similar (a matter of goal setting and measuring, coordinating respective parties building rapport and of course the logistics) – the only differing factor were the opinions and people to please.

Since my engagement last August my life has been consumed by wedding planning. I’m not the type of girl that grew up envisioning my wedding day or my perfect man. I never even started dating until I turned twenty five. I’ve spent half of my life planning and executing events so I thought this wedding planning business would be a piece of cake.

Little did I know how much of a challenge planning this event would be. There are so many moving pieces, deadlines and yes important people to please – all the while trying to stay on budget! Midway through my own planning here are my tips to any newly engaged couple out there:

  1. Budgets – I can’t preach about how to stay on budget but just its importance. In retrospect budgeting is the most crucial part of any planning. You need to do thorough market research with every component of your wedding to make sure you have accurate numbers for your plan.
  2. Your Wedding Planning Bible – This is binder/digital spreadsheet that contains ALL the information regarding every supplier, attendee or logistical timeline for your wedding. Create one – JUST ONE. We started with a binder then wrote on notepads and sheets; finally we progressed to an online spreadsheet which was easier to maintain.
  3. Openness – At this stage of the process I think it’s really important to be open with your fiance and family members with their wishes for the wedding. Discussions around who wants what and when will be happening after your engagement – especially if you come from a  family centred culture. So while you have your plan and your discussions with your fiance there needs to be some wiggle room to save you your sanity.

Some days I think of how amazing a destination wedding would be, or better yet, a trip down to city hall (my frugal side). Don’t get me wrong – I value the religious ceremony and having my closest friends and family around – but I’m not sure that I will be sane by the end of these 8 months. Most people I know or have come to know have opted to skip through this stressful limbo of “planning” by either eloping or hiring planners. With my limited budget, I am opting for a Day Of Coordinator but am slowly starting to wish I had a planner. The only challenge a planner would not solve or fix are the (important) people pleasing – that is the biggest challenge I am facing now.

I’ll keep you posted on my next steps!

*advice welcome*

 

 

 

 

 

Tis the season

theme-christmasI love Christmas. In the Philippines, where I was born and raised, the decor goes up as soon as September starts. It’s a predominantly Catholic/Christian country entrenched in American consumerism so that’s likely why they go hard in celebrating the holiday. Growing up I don’t think I recall the months or days leading up to Christmas but rather have so many fond memories of that day itself. I am fortunate to have grown up in a large family and every holiday season usually involves celebrating with my aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins.

Over the last few years I’ve come to love the season, not for the day of gift giving but the weeks leading up to Christmas. It’s in these weeks that we get a glimpse of humanity at its finest. There are hoards of individuals volunteering their services for the less fortunate, the marginalized and the sick. And then there are companies and organizations mobilizing to drive funding to the organizations that are the pillars to our social communities. From a macro-society perspective it’s a win-win for everyone.

With the recent loss of a loved one and just this week having heard about the shocking loss of an acquaintance I’m learning to understand that this season is about growth – not materially but spiritually. I’m not going to talk about religion or mysticism here but more so the growth of our self conscience. This is a time to observe the blessings or fortunes around you, to look at the silver linings, the positives in every occasion and reflect on how this has made the life you are happy with or rather has driven you towards working for a life you want.

In today’s world it’s easy to fall into despair but I’m a firm believer that we have to look towards the positive in order to accomplish greater things in life. The cycle downward is easy and the climb up is hard but it is always always worth it.

Ireland (ii): Land of the rainbows

I definitely did not expect Galway to be as great as it was. Upon arrival to downtown my senses were thrilled with all kinds of sights, sounds and scents.

13680697_10153604679976436_5415760361339878812_nCobblestone alleyways filled with al fresco dining, banner flags strung throughout the street, happy fiddlers playing such fun tunes and crowds of people flocked through each establishment. We checked out a few establishments for our first night. We had dinner at the only restaurant that was not overly full – it was an Asian noodle house. But then stopped at various pubs like the Quay, The King’s Head, The Cellar Bar for a pint. When we head back to our Airbnb accommodation we were surprised with a massive loud street party put on by Red Bull energy drink with a live DJ turning tables in a trunk out on the street. It was the craziest and funnest random party ever!

Our first day in Galway was pretty great, although the one thing that I noticed about Galway was that everyone smokes everywhere and the smoke made my eyes dry and my head hurt. Aside from that downtown Galway was beautiful!

13876613_10153604704576436_3723355539356678484_nWe decided to drive to Kerry to do the Ring of Kerry, backwards. We drove around the craziest narrow roadways and the scariest part was that large (I’m talking ginormous) tour buses drove around it. We didn’t pick the greatest day to travel there as the weather was not on our side but it was lush, green and full of sheep 🙂

The next few days spent in Galway were just staying around town lounging and adventuring around neighbouring sights. We checked out the Cliffs of Moher, Bunratty Castle & the Folk Park – both were definitely sites to check out.

13879475_10153604707611436_8167719958109592884_nThe last day my fiance took me for a drive further north of Galway, past Connemara. Our drive took us around some lakes and it was just breathtaking. We stopped at Abbeyglen Castle where I was surprised with a night’s stay…and my now beautiful engagement ring. I won’t go in too much detail but we arrived at the castle and were greeted with a champagne reception, a 5 course dinner and dessert then a beautiful cozy engagement by a fireplace.