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a heart across the ocean


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The Joys & Benefits of Working From Home

Despite some drawbacks that are associated with remote work, I find that in terms of the freedom and time management, working from home provides a great deal of advantages. To demonstrate it, here is a snapshot on a day in my life as an instructor teaching online during this pandemic.

No morning rush

My schedule of classes has never really changed since I have started working at the college: my first class begins at 9:00 A.M.

Before the pandemic, my day would begin at 6:30 A.M. bright and early no fail. I would often find myself crawling out of bed even before the morning light came streaming in our bedroom windows. The hardest times for me were during cold days (I know I am a Florida wimp) when I needed to coax and prod and ultimately wrestle with my pleasure center telling me to avoid pain and drag myself for an early morning shower. Despite resistance from my inner child, there was no time for me to dilly dally. Every minute counted. My husband and I needed to head out the door for work before 8 A.M. to dodge the customary morning heavy traffic, which we often did thankfully.

Of course, that routine has temporarily changed after I have started conducting my classes online. With my workstation just next door to our bedroom, I can leisurely get out of bed at 8 in the morning, dress up for my classes, have an enjoyable breakfast, and sometimes even straightened up the house before Zooming in to my first class.

Always on time

With no traffic to contend with, I am usually online 15 minutes before my class starts. I go over my materials and get my Canvas and PowerPoint slides ready while my students slowly trickle in. I often keep my video and mic muted before our class time to give my students the space to chat and interact. This, in my observation, helps them to create a meaningful classroom community, albeit done virtually.

Meanwhile, I cannot say, however, that my nonchalant online experience resonates the same way for all my students. I still have learners who will show up to class late. This happens for various reasons. The most common explanations I receive are due to challenging technical issues and unavoidable personal concerns. For the latter, I have seen students creatively multitasking while attending our classes. The most frequent examples of these are students listening to our synchronous online class lectures and discussions while: 1. tending to their children, 2. driving to or from work, and or 3. traveling to another city. While they may not be the most ideal learning conditions, in my opinion, it has also served some net positives for students. For one, given the stringent requirements for the face-to-face learning mode, I am sure some of my students will now be able to survive the term due to these online flexibilities. Whereas, in a more rigid environment like face to face, their attendance or lack thereof will surely sink their grade to the bottom.

Productive breaks

As an instructor who has been regularly assigned split schedules, distant learning has afforded me the chance to be more organized. It also gives me the ability to spend my down time more productively. While waiting for my next classes to zoom in, regardless if it is just a 15 minute break or five hour wait, I can always find something constructive to do. For instance, on days when I only teach a couple of hours in the morning, I can do a short stretch exercise to reinvigorate or take a long walk in the park while waiting for my next class to commence.

Likewise, I can also multitask while doing my remote work. For instance, doing my laundry while quietly doing my lesson plans or checking students’ written assignments. And, if household activities do not appeal to me, I can always choose something leisurely to do. I will usually sit on our patio with my husband, enjoy the nature around us, and get the most needed Vitamin D from the Mother sun as much as she will share.

Evidently, working from home has provided me the time and opportunity to undertake my work responsibilities in an unhurried fashion. Being calm and relaxed. In my view, this lack of stress has added a rippled effect. This placidity translates even more to the already positive demeanor in my classes. As the facilitator, I set the classroom tone, and, therefore, anything positive coming from my end will always resonate to my students. Thus, giving them an added learning advantage.

No late night drives

Before the pandemic, I would finish my evening classes around 8:45 P.M. Although driving home at night may not be the biggest challenge, it was arriving home late that I have considered not the most ideal situation. My husband, before picking me up at night, would often prepare a ready dinner for me – a bag of sandwich or a bowl of salad – that I could munch on our way home. I must admit, after being on my feet for hours, all I could think of was to get ready and hit the sack.

Remote instruction has changed all of that, of course. While I still get tired from straight hours of teaching – especially my posterior (from sitting) and voice box (from talking) in particular, at least now, when the clock strikes signifying end of class, I know that I am done. I have no driving to worry about, and I can start my chicken dance to de stress.


Undeniably, this pandemic has thrown me some lemons, but at least, there is some lemonade to drink. Like many instructors, in the beginning I struggled and buttressed myself to climb the learning curve posed by online instruction. But, in hindsight, given my personal experience, after a year of working remotely, I can say that it has also provided me some positive benefits that are numerous enough to counter anything it differs or lacks in comparison with the in-class instruction. So, with that I say, Zoom me in!


“Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow.” – Helen Keller


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Life in Quarantine

I thought after the arrival of 2020, there would be a new order of sublimity, a year of coolness so to speak. After all, look at its numbers so round and all, a resemblance of a sleek European sports car. I was expecting that it would be the beginning of a new decade and great new adventure. There were all signs of endless possibilities with all merriment and revelries in Time Square ringing in the New Year and then came Valentine. In early March I even had the opportunity to return to Tampa after years of being away to present at BARTesol’s Tech Day. Everything was splendid until, without much warming, suddenly the world went spinning out of control with the arrival of Corona virus infamously known as Covid-19. As we know, it is a vicious one spreading like fire and immediately filling hospitals with infected patients and the numbers of the loss of loved ones are a staggering statistic. There was serious widespread panic. A pandemic was declared, and immediately almost every border was forced to lockdown and people quarantined.

Since then my husband and I have been living our new normal…

Lockdown 1

Hello world!

 

Remote Teaching

I can vividly remember the day Covid-19 entered Florida. Immediately our college, together with other schools all over the country,  made the drastic move to transfer all our traditional classroom teaching to remote instruction. Our hair was on fire! Many of us were in the same predicament. We were not prepared for online teaching considering the very little time we were given to prepare. But alas, this is teaching in 2020, health and safety have to take precedence.

A day after the college’s announcement, I was glued in front of my computer to attend a series of teacher training to help me transfer all my six classes online. I felt like I was in a marathon, challenging myself in crossing the digital divide, facing a steep learning curve  navigating the unchartered waters of remote instruction. I have learned how to use Zoom for my virtual meetings with my students and maximized the benefits of Canvas to build a digital home base for my courses. Despite some fears, trepidation, and self-doubt at first, I courageously jumped in and stepped up to the plate. I took it one day at a time, proving that there is nothing impossible or improbable to a willing spirit.

It has been five months since then. I sailed through the strait of Spring term and Fall term mastering the Summer term without losing my faith, optimism, and sense of humor. We in the college will continue to conduct our remote instruction in the Fall term as the corona virus remains to be a threat to many people’s health and safety here in our county. While this may mean possibly spending another four months in my fortress of solitude (without the obligatory cape), which I call my situation room or colloquially AKA home office, I have seen myself slowly yet steadily learning to adapt and overcome in my new 2020 normal.

Lockdown 2

Welcome to my fortress of solitude

 

Teacher training

Before Covid-19’s eruption, my participation in teacher training was mostly swayed by in-service compliance or at times self-serving motivators that prompt my appearance. You see, glorious financial incentives were my Achilles heel (as the college usually pays us for attending personal development training programs), or resume enhancement spurred  my desire to continuously grow in my field. However, with the compulsory creation of the  2020 new normal, being able to adjust and acclimate to the new way and concept of doing things is not just expanding one’s horizons and advantageous for educators, but I would say also righteous necessity.

Since Covid-19 erupted in the first quarter, I have clocked at least 16 of teacher training hours. While it has some pluses, let me be the first one to say that sitting for 3-4 ZOOMING hours training is something I find more arduous than driving to the brick-and- mortar and getting jiggy. Of course, this has been my personal experience, and it could just be me.

I never realized how exhausting it could be until I attended my first training for 3 straight hours via Zoom. Eventually my eyes were twitching from staring at my computer while I continuously listened to a talking head. Do not get me wrong, the presenter was brilliant. However, the fact remains that the experience could be isolating as many of my colleagues could attest, who like me, were nowhere to be seen behind dark boxes with our cameras off and microphones muted. Needless to say, as time passed by my glutinous maximus also began  to go numb along with my brain. And, it did not take long before my head began spinning and searching for an excuse to move around and escape from my imposed Zoom lockdown.

I have got better since then. Like anything else, the more I attend different training, the better I get in adapting and coping with the situation we find ourselves in the new 2020 normal.

 

Living with Less

With the continuous escalation of Covid-19 cases here in our county, wearing a mask has become our new normal every time we need to venture out. Our outdoor activities have been limited to trips just around the neighborhood or nearby parks to add grease to our creaky bones and get some sun and fresh air. All our travel plans this year have been deferred and supplanted by simply feeling content in bracing the beautiful nature we are surrounded by here at home. We have also learned to be satisfied with our home cooked meals avoiding the perils of restaurant visits and dining. Even our groceries and shopping have all been done online and home delivered, hoping that all these efforts will minimize our exposure to the virulent 2020 contagion.

Difficult? Sure, it is.

Like many people, we miss close human interactions. The freedom to move around without social distancing. The certitude of a steady job and good health.

Because of the difficulty of getting in close contact with other people without fear of getting infected, my husband and I have relied and depended a lot more on each other. On days I do not have to work early in the morning, we start our day by sitting on our porch with my husband sipping his favorite (Columbian) brew of coffee while I eat my breakfast. We soak in the beautiful landscape that behold our eyes (never mind the Florida alligators under the water), enjoy the noisy conversations of our feather friends passing by, and simply embrace the warm summer 2020 breezes.

locdown 3

Our morning routine

It has been our routine to talk about mundane things, usually morning headlines that, of course, never escape the meticulous eye of my political junkie-husband. There are days when our conversations turn to the irony of which is a real political story, and which is a Saturday Night Live skit. There are also days when our preference or our version of reality leans toward the apparent doppelganger or the comedy side of it all in 2020.

 

Living with a Grateful Heart

Whatever limitations Covid-19 have brought us, we faced them with a grateful heart.  I remember the morning my husband came to me begging for a haircut. The truth was he already attempted to do it on his own but had fouled it up, and now he was at my mercy. It was my first time to use a hair clipper, which I was a little bit skeptical to even hold at first. I have not been an expert in cutting anything, so much more cutting hair, so you could imagine the pressure I felt. The good thing was my husband was ready for the worst. So, I took the plunge. I cut his hair while watching a You Tube tutorial in-between.  You could picture how it turned out. I will not even brag about the finished haircut. Let us just say, it was beginner’s luck that my husband got up from his chair without a drop of blood spilled.

Since then he has come up to me for his regular haircut proclaiming the $ we saved has paid for “My Clippers” not his mine. He does this either because he has no choice, or he is slowly getting comfortable with his “anything goes wild & crazy” hairstyle. Whatever it is, it has made me discover another hidden crazy bone I never thought even existed in me. You are right, I am one fearless woman (wink, wink), or is it just 2020 lockdown lunacy? Who knows…

Last week my husband and I also had our first taste of telehealth, or as my sophisticated husband likes to call it a virtual visit. If that does not sound familiar, it is the new way of meeting your doctor or health practitioner via teleconferencing. While it was not the most ideal annual check-up that we are used to, it was the most viable option we have right now. So, we took the chance and plunged in. Thankfully, I have not had a lot of urgent health concerns which permitted me zooming in and out of my doctor’s computer screen with little concern. The consultation only took me 30-minutes. Of course, it does not mean that my husband and I are discharged from our regular lab work. We surely need to complete them. However, until we feel comfortable to undergo all our medical routines, I guess we just have to take care of ourselves right now and stay healthy.

I have also never been in-touched with so many of my old friends and former classmates until this 2020 quarantined period.  One by one they have showed up in my social media saying hello. Mind you, some of these people I have not seen nor heard from for decades except on what they have posted on their social media page, so you can envision my excitement when some of them eventually decided to meet through video conferencing to revisit our friendship and catch up. It is funny how quickly I recognized the friends for which I have planted deep connections with because we clicked instantaneously like we have not been separated by time and distance one whit.

I must say, catching up with family and old friends via online has become a way for me to compensate for the close human interaction that I miss during this pandemic. And, at times when I feel the need for my own personal “me-time,” I revel in the quietness of the day while I read a book (I’m on my last few chapters of M. Obama’s Becoming), play with my brushes and watercolors, and or watch a feel good TV show (my recent favorite is 1960’s Leave It to Beaver & Disney’s streaming of Hamilton with subtitles for rap deciphering) that fill my heart with optimism and surely add up to my happy vessel.  Yes, I realized through it all, or should I say I was pleasantly reminded in 2020, that we humans are adaptive and resilient if we are nothing at all.

lockdown 4

“When we learn how to become resilient, we learn how to embrace the beautifully broad spectrum of the human experience.” – Jaeda Dewalt

 


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Ten in Ten

It was 2009 when I first moved here in the United States. I must admit, while I was oblivious to the things God had in stored for me, I had no fear nor doubt in my heart. I knew that I was marrying the man I prayed for, and I was confident that everything would be fine – or even lovely.

Fast forward, 2019 quickly flew by marking my ten years here in the US official. As I look back at how the last decade had shaped me, I couldn’t help feeling truly grateful for the many blessings and challenges that made me the person I am right now. So, for my first blog in 2020, let me recount my ten achievements in ten years.

1. Got married to my loving husband;
2. Got my US Driver’s License (not my expertise);
3. Completed several teacher courses and passed the state’s teacher licensure examination making me credentialed to teach ESOL here in the US;
4. Became a US citizen;
5. Graduated from my master’s degree program in TESOL;
6. Achieved my ultimate goal and dream job to become a college instructor;
7. Presented in TESOL conferences both locally and abroad;
8. Got published in a TESOL publication/book;
9. Selected as an English Language Fellow, a project by the US State Department; and,
10. Travelled with my husband to different cities both locally and abroad, checking off some items on our bucket list.

ten in ten

Despite some hurdles along the way, it was a great 10 years. I owe an honorable mention to my husband who has been a great lover, friend, supporter, and travel companion. He often calls us the perpetual honeymooners, and so I acquiesce for that’s what we are.

Going forward, I pray for more decades of joy and marvelment as we travel life’s journey together. God bless us all and Happy New Year to everyone!

“And suddenly you know… It’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.” – M. Eckhart


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Grateful!

I consider 2019 quite a special year as it marks a lot of milestones for me and my better  half. To sum it up in a nutshell, there is no other way describing it but to compare it to a rollercoaster ride filled with constant thrills of ups and downs that has made it not only exciting but also memorable. So, here’s a peek on our 2019 adventures:

First Quarter: Foggy Winter

foggy winter

Call me a dreamer. I dream BIG. Sometimes bigger than myself that it scares the hades out of me. But nonetheless, I continue to dream just naturally as I breathe each day.

If you read my blog from early this year, I hinted about an application to a program I applied sometime in autumn 2018. It was my application for the US State Department English Language Programs (ELP) Fellowship. I intentionally did not elaborate what my application was in my blog because of its stiff competition and the rigorous selection process involved. I was not sure if I would be selected, and I didn’t want to get ahead of myself.

Despite keeping my application a secret to the whole world, however, I pressed on. After my successful interview with an ELP representative from Georgetown University, I was placed in a pool of applicants for possible projects. While I tried to keep my optimism intact, I must admit, there were days I struggled with self-doubt. I knew that it was a long shot application, and with hundreds of experienced TESOL instructors nationwide who also applied (500 plus to be exact), I had my days when my skepticism and my “no way” voice won.

Months quickly passed by – January, February, March. No word. There was deafening silence. It felt queasy inside – I was starting to lose hope…

 

Second Quarter: Spring Time

Came April. Buds began to sprout, and like blossoming trees in spring, hope sprung eternal and so did my application. I received an email from the Georgetown University that I was selected as a Fellow for an ELP project in the East Asia Pacific region. To say I was delighted was understated. I was over the moon – and so as my husband.

Springing Time

While we were both overjoyed by my fellowship selection with high fives all around; nonetheless, there was no time to really bask in and relish in the feeling of excitement. We did not realize that the preparation for the assignment would be more involved than what we initially anticipated. There were lots of paperwork associated; complex process with external forces challenging us at every turn, and, of course, they were mostly beyond our control. Sometimes they could be overwhelming, but despite it all, we persisted. Like stubborn orchid bulbs making their way up the cool soil in the spring time, we rolled with each setback.  Thank goodness, eventually our perseverance paid off. We completed the requirements in July just in time for the program’s scheduled pre-departure orientation in Washington DC. What a relief it was! (plop plop fizz fizz)

 

Third Quarter: A Magical Summer

Then came the moment of truth…

Summer is known as having the hottest weather among all seasons, yet it is also considered as fun, vacation time, and most exciting one. Just reflecting on what we had experienced this summer, I must say, the word “interesting” just perfectly fits the bill.

Believe it or not we flew a total of 15 flights to 4 major destinations this summer (Washington DC, China, Vietnam, and the Philippines). I can’t believe it either. The flying part I found quite daunting, and I would skip it if I had a choice. However, come to think of it, those combined long and short flights may have served a good purpose after all. It was during those humdrum air travel miles that I had moments of epiphany about so many things about life in general. I must say, if there was one thing that I value the most in those trips, I supposed it was those realizations.

Fellowship

Travelling to attend my Fellowship in China made my heart full. There was no other way to describe it but an experience of a lifetime. I’ll let some of my favorite photos speak for themselves and you be the judge.

I will be forever grateful for this fellowship opportunity not only for the experience, but most importantly for one of the greatest lessons it has taught me: “Sometimes our smallest actions can lead us to our greatest victories.”

While I had my moments of uncertainties and fears during my application, thankfully, I did not allow them to stop me from at least trying, or I would have never experienced the joy of serving as a Fellow. That brings me to the realization that it is “we who define our path by the strength of our character.” If we can just continue trusting our capabilities and true worth, then indeed we can be assured that “Our only limitation is our imagination.”

Big Ten: Our 10th Wedding Anniversary

It is no big secret to many of my trusted friends that I considered my marriage to my husband synonymous with hitting the jackpot. I am one lucky wife for having the best husband in the world. He is my fortress of solitude, my port from stormy seasons, my joy on gloomy days, and simply the love of my life.

When we got married on the beach called Honeymoon Island in 2009, it has become a tradition for us to celebrate our anniversary on the beach every year (except on our 6th when we moved to a new city*).
1st wedding anniversary – Venice Beach, Florida
2nd wedding anniversary – Boracay, Philippines
3rd wedding anniversary – St. Pete Beach, Florida
4th wedding anniversary – Paradise Island, Bahamas
5th wedding anniversary – Ana Maria Island, Florida
6th wedding anniversary – Celebration, Florida*
7th wedding anniversary – Cocoa Beach, Florida
8th wedding anniversary – Waikiki Beach, Hawaii
9th wedding anniversary – Cape Canaveral National Seashore Park Beach, Florida

Since this year marks our Big 10, my husband and I had planned to celebrate it a little bit different. I even brought my wedding dress all the way from the US for the occasion. However, I believe there is truth to the saying, “Our life is not our decision; sometimes it’s up to the Higher Power.” And, that was exactly our greatest life’s lesson on our 10th wedding anniversary.

To cut the chase, we landed at Da Nang Airport in Vietnam just in time for our Happy 10th. We were on transit and working from another game plan. You see, while it was not our initial plan to be in Da Nang, it turned out, however, to be everything we wanted for our special day: another simple yet romantic and memorable time on the beach together.

10th wedding anniversary

So, I guess, this was a reminder for all of us that when life doesn’t turn out the way we planned, we shouldn’t immediately go ballistic. Calm down. Take a deep breath and hold on for the ride. God may have a better idea, and going through some bumpy roads may be exactly what we need to arrive to beautiful places. That describes our situation to a T.

 

Fourth Quarter: A Blessed Autumn

My Golden Year: 50th Birthday

I can’t believe I am now a member of the golden club. Imagine, fifty trips around the sun – Oh man! It is funny though that I don’t really feel that old. Perhaps because I don’t really pay attention to my age, or maybe because I am just surrounded by people (like my husband) who often look at the bright side of life, which I believe helps tremendously.

50th birthday

As I look back on how my life has been, I feel grateful on how God has taken control of my life. Surely, I have had my share of trials and tribulations. I don’t think God plays favoritism with His children. As a matter of fact, just this year life has thrown me some wild curveballs and fastballs that they almost beaned me. Thankfully, they just merely brushed me back from the plate, and here I am ready to hit another Home Run.

Life is dynamic. We win some, we lose some. Simple. But I suppose when we believe in a Higher Power, there is something that supersedes our fear, pain, insecurities, and failures. My life has never been perfect, but I’m truly grateful for God’s many wonderful blessings: loving parents, happy childhood, great education, satisfying career, blissful marriage, good health, and little treats along the way in life. How much more can one person ask for?

As I look forward to the future, I can only wish for more meaningful years to come according to God’s will. I know that sometimes He has other plans and they are not what I want, but I pray that I can be an obedient child and learn to live my destiny with a joyful and grateful heart.

So, to another 50 years and more – cheers!

family pic

My greatest birthday blessing this year was getting the opportunity to visit and spend time with my family in the Philippines. It was precious! 

The End of a Broken Promise: Completing my Certificate in Instructional Design

I am wrapping up this year with the completion of my Certificate Program in Instructional Design. It was one of those things I didn’t plan but was probably meant to happen. Thanks to my stubbornness and continued pressing from my husband. After chasing 15 credits and piling up 5 semesters, I’m finally crossing the finish line.  Oh man, it feels really good!

Despite starting the year with some uncertainties, it looks like my husband and I will end our 2019 adventure on a high note. And, for that, we are forever grateful.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!

 


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A Day in My Life

Hi there!

Three months later, and here I am back from blogging. How have you been, guys? I hope each one of you is doing great!

My class in my Instructional Design program started in January, and that what keeps my hands full. This term I am taking EDF 2170: Adult Learner, which is indeed remarkable. For this week we discussed about Embodied and Spirituality in Learning, and one of our tasks was to keep a diary for a day. Jotting down any physical feelings or responses that accompany our thinking as we go through the day. I haven’t done it before, and I was surprised at how much my body was “talking” to me, once I started listening to it. So, I thought of sharing it with you, and I hope you enjoy it.

Diary: Thursday, March 28, 2019

6:21 a.m.:  Good morning! – It’s time to get ready for work, but I couldn’t keep my eyes open. My body was craving for more sleeping time, so I gave in.

6:32 a.m.:  Tried it again – I pulled away the soft blanket wrapping my body and keeping me warm. Oh man, I couldn’t believe the cold air was like ice! My body shivered in surprise.

7:05 a.m.: Shower time –The lukewarm water hit my skin. Oh, what a pleasant experience. It felt soothing not only for my body but also for my soul. Soooo relaxing!

ready

8:23 a.m.: Hitting my launching pad – It was 66 degrees when I arrived at work. I got out of the car, and immediately I was welcomed by a cold morning breeze. I could feel the cold air blasting my bare legs. This was not an ideal day for a pair of cropped pants. Wrong outfit! I walked faster and faster, almost running.

10:00 a.m.: In action – My students were working on their writing activity attentively. I couldn’t help smiling. My heart was full seeing how much they progressed since we have started this term. I walked around the classroom to check how they were doing, making sure everyone was on-task. Then I stood at the back of the room where sunlight was streaming through glass windows. It hit my back, and it felt so calming. It reminded me how much I love the sun especially when on the beach. Wishful thinking.

11:30 a.m.: Comfort break – It was my second class, and I could hear my plumbing whispering to me. I know, I haven’t been to the restroom since I left the house, so I excused myself discreetly before the waterworks were unbearable. I know this is over sharing, but a diary is a diary. Ah, what a relief!

12:00 noon: Tummy talk – Lunch was calling. I heard my tummy growling like a baby lion. However, it’s 45 more minutes before my class would end. I pacified the hungry cub in me with a biscuit. Thanks Heaven for written exercises. My students were oblivious to my hunger attack!

1:20 p.m.: Back home – The moment I stepped inside the house, my barking feet yelped for freedom. I was on my feet for four straight hours teaching. I think the reaction was understandable. I took my shoes off, and walked freely on my barefoot. Ahhh lovely!

2:30 p.m. – Shhh, nap time!

5:15 p.m.: Round two. Back to work (split shift, oh yeah!)On Scene: After a short walk around the campus (health conscious), my husband and I were ready to head back to my assigned building. I was ready to drive the car when something distracted me in the parking lot. Instead of putting my foot on the brake, I unintentionally moved the gear lever to Park, and the engine immediately responded with a jerk. What was I thinking? I panicked. I felt my heart suddenly race from combined surprise and fear. Thankfully it didn’t last long.

9:20 p.m.: Three hours and more later – After another exciting lecture and time spent with my students, I was back to where I started – my bed. I heard (you know, body talk) my back and legs complaining from a little bit of pain, but they were more grateful for the rest after another accomplished day. My heart was full of love and satisfaction. Before I knew it, I was dozing and off to La La land.

You may ask what was my takeaway from the experience of keeping a diary for a day. Well, the answer is simple. I have never really imagined how much fun I had in a day until I put my experience (feelings and reactions) down in black and white. This exercise made me realize how important mindfulness is to fully experience life in its truest form. Now, I understand why meditation, reflection, and journal writing are all important part of every day living. So, go ahead. Give it a try and keep me posted.

Have a nice day. Thanks for dropping by.

‘The best way to capture moments is to pay attention…” – J.K. Zinn


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It’s a Wrap for 2018

Time goes by so fast. I can’t believe that it’s the end of another year!

Looking back, I consider 2018 a year of creating possibilities – at least, for me. Early this year, despite being content with my college teaching job,  I got an itchy feet and broke a promise I made to myself to study no more, given the grind of obtaining my last MA degree a couple of years ago. I decided to temporarily forgo or suspend that tenet and return to school to further improve my acumen as it pertains to my chosen field, Instructional Design. While I had some wins in the process, I had to give up my fantasy of endless idle time to keep up with the course requirements: reading textbooks, writing papers, doing projects, and taking exams. I must admit, it wasn’t easy! Nonetheless, although the coursework may had challenged me at times, the thought of advancing my knowledge base was enough to make me feel gratified.

This year I also welcomed the challenge of painting as a hobby. Playing with watercolor and my paint brushes has unleashed my curiosity of what kind of art I can create and what not. My ambitious attempt immediately made me realized I am no Salvador Dali. Surreal, yes. Artistically blessed, absolutely not! Let me explain. While I was drawn to expansive depictions of all forms, conversely, I discovered I have little patience working with the minute and detailed attention essential when creating an intricate landscape, for example. Painting is more than just being creative, I found out. It requires a huge amount of patience and perseverance that I found for me is still a work in process. Despite my shortcomings, however, I have continued to play with my paint brushes every opportunity I have. If there is something I love about painting, it is savoring the peace and tranquility it always affords me. And, that is enough for me for now.

blog 2018

In April this year I also declared a victory when for the first time I saw a piece of my written work in print as a contributor published in a TESOL book. Although it wasn’t  monumental as it may sound, for me it was a defining moment. Receiving an actual copy of the book made it more real and tangible compared to the acceptance letter sent to me by the book editors last year. It was indeed a humbling experience, and I embraced it with combined joy and deep gratitude.

My husband and I also did a little bit of travelling this year and checked off a few items on our bucket list. In spring, we had the opportunity to have a close encounter with the NASA’s (retired) Space Shuttle Atlantis which is majestically displayed at the Space Kennedy Center. In summer, we headed to New York City and visited the iconic Statue of Liberty, the Freedom Tower, the 911 Memorial honoring our fallen brothers and sisters, and the Strawberry Fields/Imagine Memorial which is NYC’s tribute to John Lennon’s life. In celebration of our happy 9th wedding anniversary in September, we also visited the Cape Canaveral National Seashore which is listed as one of the 50 national parks in the US. If you are interested, you can check out the stories of these trips on my other blogs.

Finally, in early fall I also explored the opportunity to apply for a US government project. I wish I could tell you more about it, but it is still in a holding pattern, circling somewhere in the universe, so just stay tuned. I must admit, I can’t wait for 2019 to come and reveal what it has in store for me and my family. I have a feeling that 2019 is going to be another meaningful, empowering and exciting year. So, let’s see. Fingers crossed.

Thank you 2018. Happy New Year, everyone!

“2019: More laughter. Less stress. Improved finances. Healing. Lots of love. Miracles,” – borrowed online


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Our Happy 9th at New Symrna Beach

This blog is way behind, I apologize. As much as I want to keep this site updated, like many times my demanding schedule at work and school just throws me off balance. I guess this is something I have to live with for now as I juggle work and my Instructional Design course. Thankfully, the term is slowly winding down, and hopefully, that will give me more free time.

Anyway, in mid-September this year, my husband and I paid a visit to New Smyrna Beach (NSB) to celebrate our Happy 9th Wedding Anniversary. NSB is located just 60 or so miles away from where we live. Our fun and quick drive brought us to this charming white sandy beach rooted in local culture and abundant in old Florida nature.

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Upon our arrival, immediately our attention was captivated by its eclectic boutiques, one-of-a-kind eateries, and intriguing coastal architecture and personality.

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From our hotel, we took a leisure walk around downtown and was drawn by its laidback community feel reminiscent of Key West. Of course, NSB was teeming with interesting sceneries to behold.

During our trip, we also visited the Canaveral National Seashore (CNS) located between NSB and Titusville. As a national park, it is known as a recreational paradise to visitors interested in camping, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, swimming, boating, bird watching, and or simply enjoying nature. Besides its natural beauty, it is also known for its shuttle launch facility. Unfortunately, however, the access to the seashore can be restricted during launch-related activities at the space center. For us, we were lucky that there was no launch that day, and we sailed past the gate after showing our free pass.

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My husband and I drove the 24-miles of beaches which is said to be the longest stretch of undeveloped beach on the east coast of Florida. From Playalinda Beach in the southern part, we headed to Apollo Beach on the northern side, which I’ve heard has some “interesting” beach activities.

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CNS’ beaches were just amazing. Its sights and sounds were just paradise in comparison to our daily grind. I just wish that it was not blistering hot during our beach day, 94 degrees, or we could have enjoyed staying longer. Nonetheless, it was a great trip that we will always remember for the rest of our lives.

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Thanks for stopping by!

Life is short. Have fun. Fall in love. Appreciate what you have.

Live life to the fullest!


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New York City: Imagine

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Entrance: Strawberry Fields

Central Park was featured in one of the very first movies I shared with my husband, the classic comedy the “Out of Towners.” Being first, in some ways it has some sentimental significance for both us. I guess, that’s one of the reasons why it was hard to exclude  from our list of places to visit in New York City. Besides that, being a Beatles fan, my husband has also a more personal mission – to pay his respect to John Lennon’s  Imagine Memorial which is located in Strawberry Fields.

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Imagine Memorial Mosaic

As everyone knows, John and Yoko used to live in the Dakota Apartments which is just adjacent to the Strawberry Fields in Central Park. He was shot in December 1980 in front of  Dakota which took his life, and since then the 2.5 acres of Central Park was dedicated to his memory. It is named after the Beatles’ song “Strawberry Fields Forever” written by John. It is a place he was said to have sat with his son many times and enjoyed the park.

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Entrance: Dakota Apartments

During our visit, a local musician played Beatles’ songs while people poured in to pay their respect to John and view the beautiful “Imagine” Memorial mosaic. I must say, it was a heart-warming experience for me despite my lack of connection with the band. We took some photos, sat for a while to enjoy the moment, and then headed to the Dakota to see the apartment where he used to live.

It is still unfathomable to me how so quickly and so senseless someone could take a life of someone like John who was a peacemaker, very talented and still had a lot of beautiful music to offer. Life is sometimes very mysterious! I guess our trip to his memorial was another reminder that life is fleeting, and indeed we should revel in every minute of time we have.

         bucket list 5” Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world as one.”

                                                                    – by John Lennon


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New York City Part 2

9/11 Memorial

It was on Sept 12, 2001 Philippine time when I learned about the horrendous 9/11 terrorist attacks. I arrived at the embassy my usual time and was surprised that everyone from our department including the ambassador was already in. There was unusual silence in the room. All eyes were glued on the TV with the same stunned expression. The media reported the tragedy all day for hours: that four passenger airliners were hijacked, and two of the planes were crashed into the North and South towers of the World Trade Center complex in Lower Manhattan, USA. The first thing I saw when I looked at the screen was the sight of the tower collapsing. It was indeed heartbreaking and unimaginable. To many of us who lived through that day, we will never forget the pain and loss it has brought to so many people.

Since that infamous day, it has been on my bucket list to visit the 9/11 Memorial to pay respect to those brave innocent souls who lost their lives during the 9/11 World Trade Center bombing. While the dedication ceremony commemorating the tenth anniversary of the attacks was held at the memorial on September 11, 2011, it was only during our recent visit to NYC that my husband and I had finally checked it off from our list. From the Battery Park we walked across the street to the Freedom Tower which is most commonly known as the One World Observatory.

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The feeling of being on that hallow ground was moving as you might imagine. It took a few minutes for us to register the moment: to juxtapose what we saw on 9/11 that fateful day and later the recovery efforts so valiantly undertaken on “the pile”, as the rescuers came to call it, and where we were now standing.

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It was a beautiful place of serenity, of sounds of water similar to a gentle bubbling brook. There were images of artful concrete, bronze and steel, but now “the pile” is clean, untwisted and renewed like the American spirit that is embodied in every name that is inscribed there.

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The construction of the Freedom Tower as well as the 9/11 Memorial and Museum only shows that no attack, small or big, can diminish the American spirit. From ashes we will rise to prove to any detractors that goodness will always prevail over evil.

God bless America!

“If we learn nothing else from this tragedy. We learn that life is short and there is no time for hate.” – Sandy Dahl

 

 


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Summer Getaway: New York City

Known as the Big Apple, the embodiment of the American Dream can be (remember Blue Eyes singing Make It Here Make It Anywhere?) for many newcomers and natural born alike, freedom is symbolized by the Statue of Liberty which is located in New York harbor. I have always fantasized of visiting New York City (NYC) to see her holding her freedom torch  both representing strength and a welcoming respite. I had seen it on TV, in movies, magazines, and even vlogs, and almost every year I would plan on making my pilgrimage. Well, of course, it didn’t materialize until recently. It was sometime in May, after being offered four courses to teach in summer that my husband and I finally decided to take the plunge and gave in to my enduring heart’s desire and itchy feet. Surely, the sheer awe and magnificence of that experience will live with us forever.

As everyone knows, New York City is the most populous city in the United States. With an estimated 8,622, 698 population in 2017, distributed over a land area of about 302.6 square miles (784 km2), it is quite densely populated. However, inhabited as NYC, it is funny that you don’t really feel smothered at times like say Manila, Tokyo and other densely populated cities. From the airport, we headed to the Marriott Hotel in Manhattan which served as our launch site and accommodation for the next few days. The 45 minute ride from the airport gave us the opportunity to enjoy the landscape and people watch. Its architecture and bustling with life very much reminded me of Manila – just roomier: the towering buildings sitting on top of each other, busy streets with crowds of people heading to work, and, of course, its diverse and vibrant inhabitants/populace immediately appealed to one’s intellectual curiosity. There’s no doubt that NYC remains to be the cultural capital of the United States.

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Another Bucket List Items Checked

When my husband and I booked our trip, we immediately made a list of places on our sub-bucket list that we wanted to check off in NYC. I must say, despite many distractions surrounding us (fancy restaurants and glamorous boutiques), we kept our nose to the grindstone. We hit the road and checked off our list one by one. In doing so, we covered a lot of miles walking as there are just too much to see. By the time we got back to our hotel, our feet were barking and just ready for a good night rest.

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Meeting Lady Liberty

Near the top of our list, of course, was to visit the Statue of Liberty. While my husband and I were both very excited to see her up close, we didn’t anticipate that it would be a little bit challenging. To see the Statue of Liberty, we took a ferry trip the from Battery Park to the Liberty Island. Besides the crowd, we didn’t expect that getting sea sick would be part of the adventure. Call it luck, but the loading of passengers on our ferry was like riding a bucking horse on a Hawaiian big wave. I saw some passengers being thrown about and sliding from one side to another before disembarking and while our boat was still tied to the dock. Ouch! It was a little bit disconcerting, yet once on the island, we knew it was all worth the pain.

 

Lady Liberty

One of the world’s most famous monuments, the 304-foot (92 meters) tall Statue of Liberty was a gift to the United States from France in 1886 to commemorate the American Declaration of Independence. During the 19th century, Lady Liberty greeted exhausted immigrants travelling by boat from Europe hoping for a better life in the United States. Magnificent and full of grace, Lady Liberty is indeed the epitome of freedom and true courage.

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If you are planning to see the Statue of Liberty in New York City, please don’t delay as we did. Take a bite out of the Apple as soon as you can!

Part 2 of our NYC trip coming soon… Thanks for reading!

When I am in New York, I just want to walk down the street and feel this thing, like I’m in a movie.” – Ryan Adams