pinay e-motion

a heart across the ocean


Leave a comment

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

 


Leave a comment

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!

 


Leave a comment

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


Leave a comment

Glam Challenge Update

If you have been following my blog, then you have probably read about the glam challenge I accepted from my friend Mrs. D. sometime in May of last year. At first, I thought the challenge would be easy peasy: just dressing up and taking a selfie. You would think it is a piece of cake, right? Well, not even close. Mrs. D. and I have encountered some hiccups along the way. A couple of those I considered the most challenging are the following:

Busy schedule or lack thereof 

The idea of our glam challenge was to celebrate success: we both were starting our dream careers and felt a need to digitize our activities away from books and “no comb” days. While you would think it is simple to take a photo of ourselves before heading to work or going for a husband date – well, hell heck no, sorry! We have no training when it comes to modeling. Remember, I am an instructor and Mrs. D is a lawyer. So you can imagine our struggles just to get a decent photo. Most often than not we had a tendency to take the glam out of glamour.

A One Woman-Show

I didn’t realize the complexity of fashion photography until I got myself involved in this glamour challenge. Initially I would just ask my supportive husband to take my photos. To his credit, he went along with my shilly-shally whims and fancies for months until I became a picky subject. My husband can only take one or two shots and he’s out, so that didn’t last very long. In fairness, however, he didn’t leave me totally in the dark. I told you, my husband is the best. On my birthday he surprised me with a tripod, and I interpreted it as his way of saying to me you are on your own.

I must admit, the tripod was a tremendous help; however, the problem in photography is not only having a good photographer. Chasing good lighting as well as perfect timing are also important factors. I realized that if you’re not a trained model or someone comfortable having your photos taken in public, it could be real challenging.

Mrs. D has shared the same predicaments. Perhaps hers were even greater than mine since not only is she a career woman, but she’s also a full-time mom. Thankfully, despite our struggles, we persisted and successfully accomplished our goal. From May to December last year we were able to put together 20 collages of our glamour efforts, and here are some of my favorites:

Glam challenge update

To celebrate the success of our first venture, we are coming up with our Glam Challenge Year 2. This time we are taking our challenge to a higher level; perhaps coming up with more artistic shots and meaningful concepts. Indeed, something to look forward to. However, let me clarify that our glam challenge is more than just exchanging photos; it is about our friendship.

We often forget that friendships are like a garden. They need tending, too. You need to weed, water, and nurture to get those fabulous petunias with those funnel-shaped corollas. Making good friends may be easy, but keeping them and developing into best friends is the difficult part. This is true for people like Mrs. D and I who live on two different continents. It is so easy to give up friendships when you are apart and juggling career in between household chores and other responsibilities. So, that is the real test of our Glam Challenge project. Mrs. D. and I will attempt to keep our friendship alive by bridging the gap of time and distance that separate us. As a testament to our hard fought battles to attain our new careers we truly believe that there is nothing impossible to those who persist, including our friendship. Wish us luck!

“Friendship is not just about hanging out; it’s finding time in spite of having very little…” Pinay E-motion

 

 

 


Leave a comment

Year 2016: It’s a Wrap!

Although I must admit the year 2016 was “fast and furious” for me, with intermittent gut wrenching challenges, it has been a meaningful and productive one. Here are some of its highlights: I graduated from my second Master Degree in August, and I’ve been employed as a college instructor immediately after. My husband and I had two short getaway trips: one in spring, and another one in summer to celebrate our anniversary. I attended four workshops on TESOL, one of which I met a well-known theorist in the field of linguistics. For the first time I also participated in a political event with the sitting US President as the guest speaker. And, finally, after a year of delay, I successfully finished reading the book “An Astronaut Guide to Life on Earth” by Col. Chris Hardfield.

In hindsight, I must say, some goals I intended to achieve this year fell a little short. Not because I didn’t work hard enough but because opportunity just didn’t present itself. This has brought me to the realization that indeed everything has a time and a season. No matter how much I try, I don’t think I can force things to happen if they are not meant to be. However, it doesn’t mean that I have to lose faith and give up on my goals. I think it simply means that I just have to wait longer and probably want them more. I am convinced that sometimes there is something going on in life that is greater than what we think before planets align. That being said, before everyone gets revved up to turn the page for another year and another beginning, let me share with you some important lessons that 2016 has taught me.

  1. On my GTA Program: Success is not the result of taking chances, exploiting golden opportunities. It is the determination, hard work, and persistence to make these opportunities work to my advantage.
  2. On my graduation: Big events in life – my graduation for example – is ephemeral. Soon afterwards, the applause and adulation will stop, the spotlight moves on, and so do I.
  3.  On my job as an ELS instructor: Understanding diversity makes me see myself as no different from others. It makes me kinder to humanity.
  4.  On reading and travelling: Reading, as well as travelling, broadens me as a person.
  5. On both challenging and rewarding experiences: More than material things and fleeting victories, the most important thing in life is making most of my time I have in every situation.

There will be many endings and beginnings in our lifetimes. I surely agree with Hardfield, and I quote “Endings don’t have to be emotionally wrenching if you believe you did a good job and you’re prepared to let go.”

I wish one and all a happy New Year – 2017 bring it on!

winterbreak-2016-063

 


Leave a comment

Timeout

After going through a demanding curriculum while attending graduate school, a timeout, albeit short, is absolutely delightful. That being said, you can call my last two weeks a pleasure. A simple pleasure, that is. There was no grand trip nor big revelry. Rather, I was afforded with a much-needed uninterrupted long sleep in the mornings followed by unhurried afternoons of unostentatious activities. Ahh, tranquility! At first, I thought it was lovely – except for one thing:  after being on a roller coaster with non-stop actions of twists, turns and drops, the idea of inactivity was almost inconceivable for me.

My first few days of my hiatus, I was constantly searching for things to do: cleaning the house, and then cleaning the house some more. Can you believe it? When I was in school I had yearned for the day to come when I could just laze around and not worry about anything at all. I thought it would be wonderful, yet when I was finally face-to-face with inactivity, I seemed not to know how to handle it. Like getting off a roller coaster ride for the first time, I felt disconcerted that all the action suddenly came to an abrupt halt. Suddenly, I felt a little bit thrown off balance.

My loving husband, of course, came to the rescue. Despite his busy schedule, he was kind enough to give in to some of my whims and fancy. No budget buster, but fun nevertheless. I realized that even as simple as quick dip in the pool, a round of Frisbee throws at the park, or a trip to the movie theater were more than enough to satisfy my hunger for adventure. After a while, I felt a quiet sense of joy and contentment just hanging out with my husband, compensating for those QTP (quality time plus) moments we both missed.

During lackadaisical afternoons, I quietly engaged myself in pleasure reading. I’ve started reading (again) the book “An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth…” by Col. Chris Hardfield. I got his book in summer 2015 while I was doing my internship at St. Petersburg College; however, I temporarily abandoned it when I started my Graduate Assistantship Program at UCF.  It has been a year since I laid it down. Until I returned to the page I last left off, I have almost forgotten how much I appreciated the insights he shares of his life experiences as an astronaut. I must admit, as a non-science person there were many scientific jargons I hardly understood, but still I have enjoyed it enormously. I found many bits and pieces in his stories that I felt were not only thought provoking but also worth emulating. His wit, tenacity, and humility are indeed inspiring. I was captivated by his adventures, so much so that while my co-GTAs were travelling to exciting destinations in the country and other parts of the world, I, on the other hand, was travelling in space orbiting the earth – in my mind.

astronaut

Photo borrowed online

So it goes with my timeout.

Next week I am returning to work: new work place and new job, that is, and beginning a new chapter in my life. I’m excited!

Thanks for reading.


2 Comments

Live Well or Just Live

The past couple of months were truly challenging. Everything went by like a gust of wind; there was hardly any chance for me to breathe. I was sprinting from one course requirement to another. It was an ordeal, especially the idea of sitting for the Comprehensive Exam, which I considered a high stake test as it determined whether I would graduate or not. For preparation, all test takers for the Comp Exam were given four concepts for each of the eight core courses in our program, which was a total of 28 different concepts to commit to memory. Although the exam only required us to explain 5 concepts, still we needed to study all the materials as questions were randomly picked. The exam was also timed which made it more stressful. Thus, I assumed when the test paper was passed around, every one of us hit the ground and running – as fast as we could. It was nerve-wracking, especially the waiting time for the results. No wonder when I received my e-mail announcing the outcome, I couldn’t help not to get teary-eyed. It was a feeling of relief and gratefulness for being able to get through and pass the exam.

Despite the Comprehensive Exam’s result, however, still the two weeks that followed were a marathon of  research papers writing  and final exams preparation. These two tasks combined I am determined to believe are my Waterloo. As a field dependence (a big-picture) person, my ability lies in looking at the field as a universal whole, rather than analyzing variables without the contamination of neighboring parts (makes sense?). Add to that my being a right-brain person who is more comfortable in inductive (e.g. processing holistic, integrative & emotional information) rather than deductive (e.g. logical, analytical, linear processing) data. In short, looking at minute details is not my cup of tea, which I realized eventually is a “disaster” when dissecting information imbedded in abstract evidence, in particular statistical data in research. I must admit, this Term was surely rough and tough. But again, we don’t stop in pursuing our goals and dreams simply because it is difficult, do we? Justice Sonia Sotomayor says, and I quote, “People who live in difficult circumstances need to know that happy endings are possible” (My Beloved World, 2014). That being said, I want to believe that my sacrifices will bear fruit one day, and that I can honestly say that I just didn’t live my life; I have lived it well. I gave it my best shot!

Now that the Spring Term is finally over (and it looks like I passed all my courses this Term, Thank God!), I am taking a mini break just enjoying the tranquility around me, and the joy of inactivity. Hmmm, what a wonderful life!

epcot 7

End-of-the-School-Year, Epcot Adventure with my friends


Leave a comment

Finding Balance

February quickly passed like a Florida afternoon summer shower that I barely noticed it. After Valentine’s Day I scanned my calendar, and I realized how many assignments were awaiting me. I panicked a little bit, and my first impulse was to take ahold of my calendar for some serious planning. I filled each box in my calendar with things-to-do, making sure that every assignment will be met before its corresponding deadline. Surely, it was no fun. It was not what I’ve envisioned of taking things in a stride as I originally plan to do this year. But, I have to do what I need to do.

My life right now is all about finding balance. In other words, I cannot let my social life outweighs my academic life. Otherwise, everything I have worked for the past years will poof up in smoke. I can imagine some of you arching your eyebrows and asking, is graduate school that daunting? Well, I guess it depends on the person. I remember my last year in my first graduate program also overwhelmed me because of the thesis writing (you see one Master’s Degree was not enough pain so I am doing it again *sarcasm). I had to bribe myself of a trip to the US (never mind if that means breaking the bank) just to motivate me to finish it. This time, I opted for a non-thesis track; however, I have a Comprehensive Exam to pass and get through, or I will not get my degree. I know some people in my class are taking it lightly. Some of them are juggling two jobs besides family and graduate school, and yet they seem to be doing very well. As a matter of fact, some of them are scheduled for a trip while all these deadlines are pressing and passing. I call them “superheroes” for their brave invincibleness. I wish I had their superpower, but unfortunately I don’t operate like them. I’m more like the ordinary student who has to spend time with books to pass the course. I’m pretty sure if I slack off, I either go haywire and off the rails and repeat my courses becoming a retread.

Therefore, here I am on my Spring Break racing with my assignments due right after I return from our week of our spring hiatus. One thing I have learned in my experiences as a GTA (Graduate Teaching Associate-Instructor) is to always anticipate. I need to get on with my forthcoming assignments because surprises are just inevitable. They’ve started early this term, and have never stopped. For instance, last month my Listening 1 class was observed three times. Oh yeah! Usually, you just get one classroom observation a semester, or if you are lucky, maybe one in a whole school year. Imagine, I had three last month: one from my Skill Coordinator, and two from a colleague at work who is doing a project for her Ph.D. class. Not that I am complaining about the idea, I am just making a point about life’s unpredictability. Nobody knows what is coming; thus, preparing ahead of time is an important lesson to learn, or at least I must say, one thing I’ve learned.

Having that in mind, I race with my forthcoming assignments, which consists of a slide presentation, an interview transcription, a research paper, and a review for my Comprehensive exam. For days I did nothing but tackle one assignment after another, deciphering academic text as I burned my eyes in front of my computer. Sure, I have beaten my deadlines, but just like anybody who goes in to a race or marathon, after racing non-stop, I’ve felt my body deliberately slowing down and feeling the exhaustion. When I’ve started feeling it, my first reaction was wanting to sit down and catch my breath. I can feel my body feeling overwhelmed by information overload. No wonder, I begged my husband yesterday to go out – for a little fun. I know that “fun” may be an absurd word right now because I am in the middle of schoolwork and my teaching job. But, I don’t think “killing myself” (okay, that’s an exaggeration) is what finding balance is all about as well. Because of my obsession to beat the deadlines I self-imposed, I sometimes forget that my brain is not the only part of my body. I also have my heart and soul that I need to feed, or I would never feel the wholeness in me. So, as I am writing this, I am waiting for my husband to get ready for our small adventure. Hopefully when we come back I will be refreshed to continue my race to get through the finish line.

Thanks for reading!

My favorite events in February

VDAY racquetball

Capping VDay with a Racquetball match with my favorite stud muffin

 

krashen

Hearing Dr. Stephen Krashen speak at the Ist Annual UCF World Languages International Studies Colloquium


1 Comment

Creating My 2016 Masterpiece

I was watching an Italian soap opera last night and was struck by one of the lines uttered by the lead actor. He said something about creating a masterpiece in our life. I thought it was very timely since almost everyone at this time of the year is talking about his/her New Year’s goals and resolutions. For a minute or two I pondered on the word masterpiece, or a stunning success as the dictionary defined it. How do we create a masterpiece by the way?  Did our famous artists have a picture in their head when they created their masterpieces, or they just created them by chance?

I guess you can say it is pretty easy to imagine something beautiful in our mind. Many of us actually do it a lot; we daydream. However, imagining and creating are two different things. The latter entails not only hard work but a substantial amount of tenacity. I guess that is why we put a high value on anything considered a masterpiece. As for me, I am not setting any grandiose daydreaming/planning or even resolutions this year. I will gladly open my arms to anything that will come my way. I will take my chances and create my “masterpiece” one stroke of luck at a time. This way I will get the chance to see and enjoy the process of creating versus just admiring the final result of my haphazard endeavor.

For full disclosure, I wrote this almost a month ago (sorry, I forgot to post it) and so here am I a month later still trying to keep my mantra very much alive, albeit sometimes struggling. I’ve started this year with quite a hefty workload. My Spring Term has presented me with two teaching assignments (Speaking Level 1 and Listening Level 1) and three graduate classes. Not very easy to juggle, considering the unavoidable “surprise” of an extra-curricular activities every now and then. These surprises may be inconvenient sometimes, but in retrospect, I believe these incidentals are what make life more interesting. They challenge and stretch me to my limit. For instance, last week we had the Accreditation Reviewers visit the Institute. It was my first time to be involved in such a process, and it was tedious. For three Fridays we attended boot camps to familiarize ourselves with the Institute’s workings: from mission statements to students’ initiatives. The GTA Lead used my GTA report I submitted last Term (we now refer to it as the GTA Handbook) as a reference. I didn’t anticipate that my work would eventually play a role, so when I received a document from my GTA Lead with my report as an attachment I panicked. I went through each page of my report just to make sure that I didn’t miss anything. Well, I did miss some words, and so at the last minute I edited and updated the report. Besides the “surprise GTA Handbook,” one of my classes was also chosen to be observed. My initial reaction was total serenity; I thought it would be just one of those days when I have to go to my class and go on with my teaching routine, easy as pie. I’ve had observers in my classes before, so I thought it was no big deal. That was what I thought until I was preparing my lesson plan for the scheduled date. I realized this is for the Institute’s accreditation, and I couldn’t mess up. I was having butterflies in my stomach when I entered my classroom that day. Thankfully, the 20 minutes ordeal went by very fast, and thank goodness, I did not throw up or pass out while on my toes trying to make a good impression. One final surprise was on the next day when I, together with a couple of GTA colleagues sat for an interview for the same accreditation purpose. We were on pins and needles, but we proudly made it.

Now that the hustle and bustle at the Institute is over, I would like to say I am up for another surprise (oh, that is pretty bold) – but please not today (c’mon be a peach). Fast forward: I haven’t come up with a research topic for one of my classes yet, and I have three presentations to prepare in another class. I would like to enjoy the ride, soak in all the lessons I need to learn, and at the end feel grateful to God for all the experiences and the opportunities. That in mind, I have to be mindful of taking things one day at a time. After all, life is short, and as my friend eloquently says, “All we have is today.”

Blog 2016

Thanks for reading!


3 Comments

Impulse

  AS I SAW YOUR FEET…

  • As I saw your feet today,
  • A sudden tinge of pain tugged on my heart strings.
  • I wonder how many ladies can change their shoes every day,
  • When there’s so many of you who can’t even buy a pair.
  • As I saw your feet today,
  • I imagined how does it feel to walk with  flatten bottles.
  • Can the worn-out string holding your feet survive a long way?
  • Please tell me, does wearing them make you feel  like fighting hard battles? 
  • As I saw your feet today,
  • I realized that life may not be fair.
  • How I wish life is the other way:
  • when everyone is equal, and all of us do care.  

note: picture borrowed online