11 January 2014

Toffee Nut Latte and the Manong Guard Who Made Me Cry

During the holidays I was feeling down -- I was thinking about all that is "not enough" in my life.  I wish I had more money to support my parents, more money to buy clothes, appliances and other material things that I want.  I dream of having a savings account that will not make me worry about Julia's future.  I wish I can work less and have more vacation days to stay home and do nothing or to go out of the country for an adventure with Don and Julia.  You must think I am bad, selfish, mukhang pera.  I am not.  Really.  Sometimes I just wish for a better and more comfortable life.

We spent the holidays at Don's hometown.  It was the last day of the year and we went to the mall to celebrate the birthday of Don's nephews.  On our way back home around 8pm, we stopped at a bank to withdraw money.  Don waved at the security guard as he walked towards the ATM.  The security guard smiled.  A genuine smile.  My heart melted -- he will welcome 2014 alone, working and far from his family.  I thought about the kind of work he does -- protect the bank, risk his life and receive minimum wage for it.  And yet, he is happy.  I can see it in his eyes.  Without hesitation, I asked Julia to walk over to the guard with me and we gave him the Toffee Nut Latte I just bought from Starbucks.  He thanked us and said he needed it because his shift will end 6am the next day.  He is happy and it was not because I gave him coffee.

As we went on our way, I cried.  Really cried.  As in hagulgul.  God indeed speaks to us in mysterious ways.  I have so many blessings! So many! But I chose to spend my last days of 2013 focusing on what I don't have.  I failed to appreciate family and friends that I love and the people and experiences that made a positive impact in my life.

Here are SOME of the my blessings (Madami kasi so I chose a few that I want to share):

No Boss since June.  Yes, I am thankful.  It was difficult and tiring, but I learned a lot.  I was given the exposure that allowed me to work with the country leadership team and some colleagues from the Asia Pacific region.  I report directly to the Asia Pacific HR Lead and the Country Lead of the Philippines -- 2 of the great leaders in the organization.  What an opportunity!  I handled projects that I never thought I can accomplish without a boss.  The trust and confidence given to me by the leadership team fueled me to do more than what is expected from me.  I hope my new boss will be onboard next month and I look forward to the new challenges and new learning opportunities at work.

New Home in Las Pinas.  We are enjoying the quiet neighborhood that we have now.  Julia can run around and play with other kids in our street.  This environment is much better than the one we had in Quezon City.  I lived in my dad's house in QC since 1995 when I moved to Metro Manila for my college studies.  That house became my dad's wedding gift to Don and I.  We shared so many memories there, but we decided to move to a more safe location suitable to raise a family.  The decision to sell the house in QC -- the first house my father has ever bought -- is heartbreaking.  But my dad understood and we got his blessing after we had a long talk when I visited him in Davao. We are renting now and hopefully soon, buy a new house as soon as we are able to sell the house in QC. 

35 Humps.  Yes, there is a total of 35 road humps on my way to work.  This means 70 humps every day going to and from work.  Annoying but I am still thankful.  These humps replaced approximately 80 kilometers in distance and roughly 3-5 hours of travel time from Quezon City to Alabang to Quezon City every day.  Should I also mention the stress that goes with driving in Metro Manila? 

Reconnected with good friends.  Moving to Las Pinas allowed us to reconnect with Don's best friend and his family.  They are our neighbors now and I am happy that Don is finally able to spend time with his BFF :).  

High occupancy of Pacific Palm Suites.  This year, my family embarked on a business managed by my brother and his wife.  They worked on EVERYTHING -- concept, design, construction and management.  Since it opened, we have been blessed with high occupancy and loyal clients. 

Kindermusik and Teacher Jeannie Castillo.  Our Sundays are never complete without Kindermusik and Teacher Jeannie.  She is part of our family and we will forever be grateful for all her help and love.  We have not been attending our classes lately because of the distance but soon, we will enroll in Kindermusik with Teacher Jeannie and Company, Fort Bonifacio branch.

SoMoms.  To be part of this mommy support group is a great privilege.  More than the events we attended together that you read in our blogs, we have a special bond that our blog readers don't read about.  I learned a lot from our #BetterMe sessions with Coach Pia.  Our candid and honest conversations in our FB group gives me tips and keeps me sane.  I learn a lot from the SoMoms and I am so blessed to be part of it.

Don's employer.  If you follow me on FB and IG, you can probably guess where Don works.  They are family oriented -- you can tell by the kind of benefits they provide.  Don has been working there for 13 years (14 next month) and I am forever grateful to the company.  Sana dumami pa ang tulad nyo!

Weekends - Saturday AND Sunday.  Since I transferred to my new employer, I have been enjoying my weekends with Don and Julia.  Swimming lessons on Saturdays and Kindermusik classes on Sundays.  Malling or visiting parks in between.  Though work is stressful and tiring, my weekends with Julia and Don help me recharge for another work week.

Yaya Lani.  I may be unlucky with an all-around helper but I am SO BLESSED to have Yaya Lani.  She has been with us for 3 years.  Julia loves her and she loves Julia too.  I hope she will not change and will stay with us for a long time.  During our last #BetterMe session with Coach Pia, she said if the tenure of the helper is 3 years and more, it will be a good time to help them improve their way of life.  We plan to send Yaya Lani to school... a vocational course or any course that she is interested in as long as the schedule is manageable and we can afford the tuition.

Mama Cita, Papa Toto and Mama Lulu.  We are happy that our parents are as in love with Julia as we are.  My MIL lives with us and oversees the management of our house.  She cooks and makes sure Yaya Lani takes care of Julia well.  She keeps me sane because after a long day at work, I do not worry about stressful household concerns.  Also, I appreaciate that my parents take time to visit us from Davao to see Julia.  They look forward to my FB posts of Julia's photos and anecdotes.  I can hear the joy in their voices whenever they laugh and ask me for more stories about Julia.  Don and I are so lucky to have great parents!

Don and Julia - A lot has happened in 2013.  Good and bad.  They inspire me and give me strength.  They provide meaning to my life.  I am a better person because of them.  No words.  Now I'm crying!

I turned 35 last month and Don.. well he celebrated his birthday too (baka magalit pag binanggit ko ang age niya).  Yesterday, we celebrated our 10th Anniversary (Isang dekada na!) and next month, it will be Julia's 3rd birthday.  So many celebrations, so much to be thankful for!  I look forward to a more challenging but more meaningful 2014.  So many plans and activities to prepare for.  It will not be an easy ride I know.  I look forward to all the learning opportunities, after all, I am in control of my own definition of happiness. How about you?  What are you thankful for?
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