Subtract

Subtract anything that doesn’t add value to your life.

It could be temporary or permanent.

More is not always better.

You can only keep enough,

consume enough,

use enough,

do enough,

And every season in your life

demands something different 

You cannot hold on to anything earthbound.

To Start With

Define what value means to you.

is it family, time,

health, spirituality,

experience, growth,

or your contribution to the world?

Analogy

Imagine clearing the table you’re working in now.

Slowly, place everything on the floor.

Then whatever it is you need at this moment,

pick it up and use it.

You can discard everything else.

The Challenge

Look at your current responsibilities, 

commitments, possessions, 

consumptions, and yes connections.

What doesn’t add value to your life right now?

Discern and decide what you need to let go 

So you can make room for something that does.

Uprooting

Earlier today I listened to somebody talking about the idea of Uprooting.

It happens when you decide to pluck the bud off a seed you’ve planted, that it loses the chance to grow and blossom.

I was hit hard.

You see, I’m the kind of person who would have these brilliant, inspiring ideas, enroll people to embrace the same, start working on those, and then just not follow through.

Courses I’ve never finished.

Hobbies I’ve never picked up again.

Skills not really mastered.

Good rituals that have never lasted two months.

Relationships never cultivated.

I hope I am most people, but I could see a lot around me nailing it.

Why can’t I?

At this point in my life, I think I still haven’t decided who I want to be.

I’ve been drawn to that shiny object syndrome which I heard about a few months ago and never thought it could be real, at least to me.  I was wrong to say I had it all figured out.

Looking back, I’ve been chasing a lot of things. Even now I can say I am all over the place and I have to do something about it.

This writing is hopefully a start. I want to go back to the way I used to write— unfiltered, insightful, vulnerable.

You’re probably asking why I stopped or why I changed.

Simple.  I thought then I’d be better off if I was somebody else.

Somebody that people like.  Somebody who could write something people will rave about.

Yet that failed me too. 

No matter how I try to “buy” love, appreciation, admiration from other people, even if I get those, it would never be enough until I decide I am enough.

PIT STOP

Right this moment I am writing for me. If the state I’m in resonates with you, then that makes two of us and perhaps this writing is for you too. 

It will be good to know there’s somebody out there who walks on a road with you, no judgment, no expectations, just walk with you. Human being feeling another in the highest pure sense.  Regardless of the distance, the gap, the space in between, hearts entwined even for a brief moment. 

So yes my friend, you have the liberty to break out further up the road and follow your own path. No strings need to be attached here.  After all, the road is never a straight line. There are curves, junction, crossings and before we know it, we’ll be bumping into each other again.

As for me, I still need to figure this one out. 

Who do I want to be, and what things do I need to go back doing just because it made me real?  

It’s not for any selfish reasons. I want to help people, touch the hearts of a few if not many. But I think all the cracks and flaws that we have, are the same things that make us human. The more we get real about that the more can people relate to us, and we’ll be more connected to each other on a deeper level.

So this is where I am right now. This is where I stand and I hope I’d be able to navigate this road well. Wish me luck!

This Is Why You Never Get To Fulfill Your Dream

My friend’s biggest regret is not being able to pursue her passion.  “Life got in the way”, she said.  I could feel her deep sense of frustration while we were talking. It was a bit disappointing too. Why? There she was, in her 40s, still young, but already giving up on her dreams. In her mind, there is no room for it anymore.

I think that’s the main problem.  We give up on our dreams even before we could even begin to make them happen.  We come up with a dozen excuses, like not having the time, not being ready, not having the opportunity.  All these limiting beliefs come into the surface and  90% of the time these are self-created.  The obvious question is this:

Who would believe you then if you don’t believe in yourself?

“The only person who can pull me down is myself, and I’m not going to let myself pull me down anymore.” ― C. JoyBell C.

At the root of giving up too soon is FEAR.

Fear of Failure

Who wants to be called a loser, right? Nobody wants to be laughed at, ignored, or rejected. Hence, to avoid the pain and shame, we never try. When we don’t try we feel like a failure- frustrated and angry.  Then we pick ourselves up and attempt again only to get cold feet at the first thought of failure. As you can see, the cycle continues.

Fear of The Unknown

For most of us, we like to figure out EVERYTHING before we begin. We like things to be predictable and certain, so we think long, and research a lot like we have an eternity to do it. We spend so much time planning that we never launch. Oftentimes we get caught up in what we call Analysis Paralysis.

Analysis paralysis (or paralysis by analysis) describes an individual or group process when overanalyzing or overthinking a situation can cause forward motion or decision-making to become “paralyzed”, meaning that no solution or course of action is decided upon.   [Wikipedia]

Fear immobilizes us and kills our dreams. Imagine the power we give it.

There are different ways to cope with FEAR but I believe we could start with two.

Don’t take yourself too seriously. 

Life is too short.  Learn to laugh at yourself, and try again. Ask stupid questions if you must and use outcomes as your feedback, to do better, to know better.  Grow. That’s the more important thing.

Give yourself a deadline when making decisions.

Forget about perfection. Clarify your goal. Break down complex matters into smaller actionable steps. That way you don’t feel overwhelmed. Baby steps. Just like the old days.

I believe it’s always a question of how desperate you are to get something. It’s like gasping for air when you’re suffocating. If you want  it bad enough, you know you have to do something and do it.

sundaewrites

The Day I Decided To Let Go

Letting go is obviously one of the hardest things that we can do, but at times, stepping into that new kind of freedom is very much worth it.

sundaewrites

The year came like anything normal and in so many ways I have underestimated it. Certainly, you’ll never really know where life would take you. 

During the first few months, inspiration struck. It triggered me to make small decisions and subtle changes affecting very important aspects of my life.

Letting Go of Stuff

    It started with a few clothes, some old, some new, that I’ve never really worn for months. Like most, I’ve held on to those pieces of clothing because I’ve paid for them and I already own them. 

I realized later on that possessing or not possessing them didn’t really affect the quality of my life. Nor has it affected the level of my happiness in the long term. Maybe that’s why you and I call this and similar things as stuff because literally, they’re just that. Most things we can live without and some we can only need enough of. 

On the other hand though, our stuff can be a piece of gold to someone who really needs them. With that, I gave away clothes to friends, neighbors, relatives and some more things to charity.

I was able to sell some of the stuff too and more will be sold in the comings months. I remember meeting this buyer and our conversation went like this.

Buyer:  So how long have you had this?

Me: 6 months

Buyer: how many times did you use it?

Me: thrice

Buyer: It’s in superb condition and you’re selling it for half the price. Why did you buy it in the first place?

Me: Well, I thought I needed it and would do me good. Later on, I realized, it’s bulky and cumbersome. I can actually get rid of it and make do of what I already have.

Buyer: Well, this is a gem for me. Sorry, you had to sell it.

Me: Oh no, I’m glad I did! (“and I met you”! – bonus point that I felt he didn’t need to know – insert “grin”).


Letting Go of biases

    I think you would agree that we all have our biases when it comes to culture, people of a different race or sometimes people from our own race. I for one am guilty about this. In the past, my generalizations about people have hindered the possibility of me knowing them at a deeper level and understand how they see things. 

I’ve come to realize that it was a mistake and a loss on my part. I mean, some of them could have been my close friends. They could have contributed to my growth. Most could have been helpful mentors, teachers, coaches or perhaps role models. I remember a colleague of mine said to me one time. “It’s not you. We’re just not used to saying please and thank you as often as you do. We don’t even say please or thank you to people from our own country”.  Another shared, “We look like we’re fighting because we seem to be shouting at each other, but we’re not. This is just a normal conversation”.

When I decided to finally open myself to other cultures and other communities, I felt like my heart expanded and my understanding broadened. I began to see these people the way I see myself and my friends- just human beings with imperfections like we all have, and trying their very best in life as we all do.  

Letting Go of Who I thought I was

We are who we are. This belief also limited my success as a person. 

I always thought that I’m an introvert and therefore, don’t have the ability to connect with people and actually be energized in the process. I always thought, I could never write, just because I barely passed my first essay in college. My English teacher would always ask me to explain what I’m trying to say. That time I have a knack for tying two words together, not because they mean anything but because they just sounded good. Well, it’s hard when English is not your first language. These are just two of several beliefs which crafted my idea of Me. This same idea pushed me to stay in my comfort zone because venturing out, I assumed,  would lead me to failure.  

After years, a breakthrough came.  I decided I will no longer fear failure. So I started a journey of self-discovery and that meant trying new things and doing things that actually scared me or made me nervous and uneasy. I tell you, when I look at myself now, I like what I’m seeing. Frankly, I still make mistakes but I’m growing and continuously learning.

The good thing about letting go of who I thought I was is that every day I am embracing the opportunity to reinvent myself and expand my horizons. It opens a whole new door of possibilities of what I can still be, and the results usually astound me. What you can or cannot do, is indeed entirely up to you. Henry Ford puts it this way “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right”.

My friend, is there something in your life that you need to let go and why, or, why not?

Lagom

So today, I decided to clean up. Owning a few things since going solo, I wanted to retain even less.  That means, just enough of everything.

A friend of mine traveled to Sweden months ago and fell in love with the term “lagom” which means “just the right amount”.  She was saying the Swedish don’t brag about the things they own nor overindulge in something like food, cars or houses.  They like to live as regular, ordinary people,  and give preference to giving back, contributing, and helping.  They don’t care about status or how much they earn. All of that and yet Sweden is one of the richest countries in the world.

Thinking about it makes me fall in love with Sweden too! “What I wouldn’t give to be there”- Me, daydreaming.  But Sweden or not Sweden, we can actually embrace “lagom” as a lifestyle, isn’t it? In some parts of the world, they call it, minimalism, simplicity, or essentialism (there might be other terms that you know, drop a comment here).

I grew up in a culture pretty much influenced by the Spaniards. With our concept of “fiestas” and “piazza” (in my hometown, we call it plaza), our culture has taken it further to mean:

– huge houses, 

– large “haciendas”, 

– more food on the table (than what’s necessary), 

– (boisterous) laughter, 

– plenty of stories, and 

– overflowing drinks.

While fiestas and plazas are essentially part of the Spanish culture, I believe these concepts stemmed from their inherent quality of being warm, affectionate and family-oriented. Our culture, however, took it to a different level- more like Spanish-with-a-twist.

I’m not against people who own huge properties or love to have fun with beers, food and loud music. I’m just a bit disheartened to see:

– folks with large but empty houses

– yuppies with an expensive lifestyle, and mounting debts

– people who hoard

– people having too much of something (too much alcohol, food, shoes, Netflix, etc)

– people who overwork (yes, included)

– people who overcommit (yes, this too)

– people who are having too much rest (you’ve got to get on your feet too, you know, like literally).

Overindulgence is a bad thing.  You’ve got to save something for tomorrow or share some to someone in need.  We’re not here just for ourselves.  I hope we realize that and become more mindful of the rest of the world and its needs.

Wherever we are or what our status be in society, each of us has the capacity to give.  It may not always be in the form of material things. It could be our time, our skills, wisdom, strength, or we could just lend a hand, or lend an ear.  

If there’s one thing that this weekend clean up reminded me, it’s this:

I can live with just enough, and that’s not depriving myself of anything good in the world. That actually means, giving myself space, room to breathe, more room for what’s important, and to me, that translates to not only freedom but power!  It’s kind of saying, “I can have that, but I won’t”.  

– sundaewrites

Now imagine repeating that when you’re faced with a decision:

“I can buy that luxury car, but I won’t”.

“I can book myself in a 5-star hotel, but I won’t”.

“I can consume the entire chocolate ice cream cake, but I won’t”.

“I can party all night, but I won’t”.

“I can work till daybreak, but I won’t”.

Does it make sense?  Well, I’ll leave you with this word to think about.

“Lagom”.


How Do You Define Success?

My friends and I are having a conversation one day about job satisfaction and fulfillment, and the years we’ve spent in the corporate world.  Most of us have reached some degree of contentment in how our career paths turned out and some are still halfway towards reaching the top. By top I mean, the pinnacle of success. The latter, being a relative word.

 People come from different backgrounds, culture, and upbringing. This fact plus the uniqueness of every person and the particular experiences each has gone through defines ones’ own personal view of what success really looks like and feels like.

Though I cannot accurately interpret these definitions from the viewpoint of others, let me share with you how success is pictured from my own view. 

I started out life as an achiever mostly in academics. This winner mindset propelled me to give my best in everything that I do, be it at work, music or in any display of talent.  While the experience proved an age-old wisdom that, “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve”, it rewarded me with a glimpse of joy. The problem was, that, to me, it was never enough. Pure, lasting joy, then became the cornerstone of my success definition.

Perhaps the excitement of being on top was just fleeting.  The self-gratification was temporary. The applause lasted for a moment and the spotlight dimmed after some time.  Perhaps age did catch up or life became more real as I’ve come face to face with my own mortality.

The transition took place moment by moment, piece by piece.  Soon enough I found myself longing for something deeper, more profound,  something seemingly elusive but more solid and real. 

Then it finally made sense. Instead of chasing heavenly painted rainbows I was drawn to create my own.  

 

Connecting the dots in my past helped me understand why there was sort of a lack.  Something was missing despite the number of shining moments I have reveled in.  There, I found a great hole carved out by the plain absence of meaning.

Everything I did then was for me. I took home the glory, for me.  I was proving myself to the world, to other people, to people I didn’t even know. My sole focus at that time was to convince people of my own worth.

I realized later on,  how exhausting this can be and so I abandoned that path.  I trod on new waters and became fully aware of who I am and what I can do, create and contribute. 

I started to believe that knowing my worth is enough. That forging meaning in what I’ve been tasked to accomplish in this world makes more sense.  That giving is oftentimes more rewarding than taking.  That fulfillment in it’s truest sense is an overwhelming feeling that’s not short-lived. Rather, it’s something that rewards your heart with boundless joy and serenity no words can even express.

In a sense, I became content in knowing that at the end of each day, I gave my all and I have put my heart and mind into the things that I do. That means then that I’ve got to make sure that whatever I do is worthy of my time because I’m exchanging every second of my life for it.  

 

Come nightfall, I should be in a state where I can pat myself on the back and say, “You did a good job, today”, and my Creator simply nodding a proud yes.  That my friend is, success, simplified, in my own terms.

Questions:

How about you? How do you see success from where you stand? Share your thoughts here.

 

What Is It Gonna Be?

A mentor once said, “Focus on this. One life, one person at a time. If you can create an impact, a change like that, that’s all that matters”.  #sundaewrites

 

 

Bored.

Burdened.

If you have felt these lately, you are not alone. A  million of us share the same road.

In my small circle of friends, at least half of us feel like life is a drag- a heavy load you need to carry with you wherever you want to go. Each step lands your foot in a mud.  You’ve got to pull your leg a little harder every time so you get to move.  If at all, you get to move.

Why do we have days like these? Why can’t we always feel happy and stay like that all year long?

While we all know that happiness is a decision you make for yourself, it’s easier said than done, or perhaps we don’t really know what that means or what it really takes.

All the successful people you’ve known were once upon a time nobodies. They started small. They struggled but kept on because they were driven by something that’s far greater than themselves. Something noble and beautiful. Something they desire to create not only for themselves but for the world, even if that world only meant a handful of people that they deeply care about. So in time, they’ve overcome the hurdles and eventually became great- famous, wealthy, powerful.

Then it happens. Success made these same people get so engrossed on fame, wealth, and power. The drive is now to maintain the status quo or exceed the same. So, they get to work to produce more success-  toil day in and day out that it becomes an obligation they believe they owe to themselves.

Is that bad? Not necessarily. But weak motivations won’t hold you up forever.  You see, the moment our focus change, we forget about why we do what we do in the first place. Our great WHY vanishes into thin air.

 

photo credits: Jon Tyson
photo credit: Jon Tyson

 

Take for example this writing.  I don’t know how many people will get to read this and how many of those who read it actually cares.  Despite the nagging desire to know, I choose to resist it. One of my mentors actually said, even the greatest writers still have that fear of rejection- you just have to deal with it. Then she spilled out this nugget of wisdom that up to now continues to motivate me. “Focus on this. One life, one person at a time. If you can create an impact, a change like that, that’s all that matters”.  So whenever I scribble something on a notepad or strike letters on my keyboard, I think about that one person that might find these words useful. Then the writing stops being an obligation. It now becomes an opportunity. No longer a drag rather, a source of delight.

Whenever you feel battered in life, one of the ways that can heal you is through your ability to receive love. Most “strong” people forget about that. Does it come from ego or pride? Maybe.

Regardless, you need to break that wall and let love seep through. You’ll always be a child. Even strong muscles or gray hairs cannot change that.  You need love. Don’t be too proud to receive it.

Boredom. Burden. These are real, but you deserve better.

Embrace your great WHY and open up your heart for Love.

 

photo credit: ben white
photo credit: ben white

 

Question:

Have you taken a step back at one point in life to just reevaluate things? To remind yourself again why you do what you do? What did this “pause” reveal about yourself and the life you pursue? I care about your thoughts. Share them here.

 

Perspective

Eight o’clock in the evening, last day of the workweek, and I’m still stuck at my desk typing away numbers, while the office cleaner does his evening vacuum routine, dusting off tables and chairs of people he doesn’t even know. Not that I know them more, not quite, but I sure was halfway imagining them celebrating the weekend with families & loved ones at home or wherever social places they can find.  The green monster started to creep in. I was envious. I struggled to fight back the tears not just because I wanted to be brave and keep fighting, but partly because my sobbing wouldn’t really blend well with the sound of the vacuum cleaner that still rings behind.

You see even with crying, I seem to find the perfect place and time to do it. The very first minute when I learned my dad passed away, I didn’t break down right there and then. I held it up for four hours. In between, I had a shower, had my meal, had my morning devotion, went to work, waited till my boss was free that morning, went to his office and asked for an emergency leave, and finally burst into tears – right in my boss’ office.  Maybe because finally saying out loud, “I need to go home to bury my father”, finally felt too real and painful to muster.  Back to the current scenario, I broke down right after I closed the door upon reaching home.  That’s when I finally accepted that it’s alright to cry ‘coz even strong people do.

When people look up to you or seek your help whenever their strength fails, you start to think either of two things:

I’m stronger than them

I have to be strong for them.

Such thought or decision will not last very long. We pass through a season, one after the other. You will start to doubt yourself at one point, and this is where I am right now.

I remember having a conversation inside the lift with one of the building janitor. I found out he worked for 12 hours every day for six days. I realized then that that’s the amount of time I put in every single day too. The only difference is that I crunch numbers and he scrubs floors.  We both do an honest job, we try to be the best at it. If we trade places, would I be as good as him too? I don’t know. Perhaps. All I know and believe is, we get to be equipped to do the things we get to do, and we get better through the years.

One of my virtual coaches shared this exercise one day. He said, start to use the words “get to”, instead of “have to”.

“I get to work every day”  vs  “I have to work every day”

“I get to prepare my meals”  vs  “I have to prepare my meals”

“I get know and meet people”  vs  “I have to know and meet people”

‘I get to serve a ministry”  vs  “I have to serve a ministry”

See the contrast? A different mindset. A different way of looking at things.

Today is the weekend and tomorrow is another day on the battlefield. Surely it wouldn’t be easy because we didn’t choose the easy path. We chose this since we believe we’re made for something more, and we know that victory can only be as rewarding as the sacrifices made behind it.

Yes, there will be days when we’d feel like we’re at the end of the rope, but the consolation is, like everything else, it’s temporary.  As when we take laps in a pool, we breathe in, we breathe out, we swim, but we should take the time to bask in the sun too, and enjoy our favorite poolside drink. Be it a lemonade, a smoothie or a float, it’s worthy to remind ourselves to be grateful enough.  We’re still blessed as “We get to taste it”!

Struggling with Self-Worth?

I know the feeling, and it’s absolute torture.

I grew up in a very religious environment: going to church every Sunday, going to a Catholic school, singing in a church choir, memorizing all prayers.  While all those were good and gave me a very solid training on discipline, the part of obedience though was motivated by fear.

When I was a kid my image of God was kind of like a punisher or even a dementor (if you’re a  harry potter fan you’d fear this creature).  So whenever I sinned, I felt so much guilt that I try o make up for it by accomplishing more, doing more, that I became almost like the perfect kid out there who’s got it all.  But,  who was I kidding right?

Inside I was broken. I hated myself and I envied everybody else who to me were close enough to be saints.  I feared God and his wrath so much that the scared me would either run away or crawl down a very deep pit of self-condemnation. Believe me, the place that I end up with was dark and lonely, even if that place only existed in my mind.

 

It wasn’t until my late twenties that the dark clouds in my horizon actually cleared. It’s like suffering from a cataract fro the longest time and finally able to see the world with its vibrant colors and distinct shapes.  and yes, it was beautiful, as it is today.

Now, the God I know is tender- hearted, forgiving, gracious and merciful. I want to say He fixed me but that would be an understatement.  He loved me and He loves me still. That’s all He did and still does.  When you have Someone like that, your response is no longer hiding and running away. It’s showing up and running towards. After all, who doesn’t want love or desperately need one?

It’s not anymore about what I think I deserve but what I’ve been freely given.  When I shifted my focus to this indispensable truth, I began to realize how my desire for worth was misplaced all these years.  I hungered for the world’s recognition and applause when God was filling me with so much more and all this time I took it for granted. Tell me about shortsightedness.

Of course, I still have my cracks and all, but it’s in these cracks where His love seeps through.  God can never fill your cup when it’s already full. So choose to stay in need of Him.

Last week I saw a video of a woman climbing a very large and tall tree. Reaching the top she muttered, “The world is very huge and we’re just but a tiny speck”. When you’re up there the tiny ones underneath becomes barely noticeable.  And when you come down everything and everyone one again becomes large.

Perspective.  When it changes, your attitude change and your take on the overall picture change. But to the One who made it all, you’re the same child He first breathed life into as the person that He’s looking at now. And it doesn’t really matter what you get to accomplish or achieve in this life, it’s how much love you put into it, and how much of that love was for Him.

What Scares You

Fear is most people’s nemesis.  We’re afraid to lose, to fail, to get hurt or to start again.  We’re afraid to frustrate loved ones, to be laughed at by friends, to not gain everyone’s approval.

Fear is in not knowing.  Take for example a newbie investor.  He’s unsure how the market is going to perform, where to invest his money, or to invest at all.  He fears he’s gonna make the wrong choices, lose his money and fail.

What could this person do? Study. Research. Know everything there is to know. When you learn, you equip yourself, and then you can make informed decisions.  What if the decision was wrong? The important thing is you did what you know was right at that particular time with all the information you have. If you fail, then take the lesson with you. Successful people pursue learning. It feeds their appetite.

Fear is a control issue. This is when a person knows he doesn’t have a hand or power over things. Paranoia exhibits this fear- a condition where one is obsessed with the belief that bad things are going to happen and that everybody is out there to get him. He becomes helpless, paralyzed, panicky, worrisome.This is not a pleasant and healthy state to be in and there’s no easy cure but two ways can help:   To trust and to let go.

First, It all boils down to your belief system.  when you learn to trust people and trust a Higher Being, your perspective change.  To worry and to focus on things you can’t control just doesn’t make sense. It’s  a waste of your time and energy, two resources that you have a limited supply of. To shift your focus on things you can control is more sensible and a more productive way to live your life. Delegate.  Do what you do best, and leave the rest to experts.  You ask for help, you collaborate or team up with the someone. You can even team up with God.

To let go on the other hand demands acceptance- the courage to embrace the truth.  There are things that are bound to happen. You can’t do anything about it.  Even if you can the efforts would be futile. Death, taxes, and change are on top of the list. You can’t avoid death. You can avoid taxes but with disastrous consequences. You can resist change but that will disrupt your growth.  See, it’s pointless to argue with these truths much more prevent it from taking place.

Lastly, fear is refusing to take responsibility for your own happiness. When you dread rejection or demand affection you are bound to fail. The former will immobilize you, the latter will frustrate you.  Don’t avoid the chances of getting turned down. Successful people have had a fair share of it. There’s  Colonel Sanders, Oprah Winfrey, and Sylvester Stallone to name a few. On the other hand, if you look forward to pleasing everybody- you will end up living up to their expectations and not yours. Remind me, who’s life is this again? Yours right?

Fear has many facets and all of it are not good for you. Of course, there’s a healthy kind of fear and it’s a topic worthy of discussion on a separate occasion.  For now, think about where your fear stems from, then deal with the root cause.  Work on what you can.  Everything else is not meant to be dealt with by you. Wave the white flag if you must.  Help will certainly come.