Shhhh…hush hush

Dear Whiner

We talk about our problems a lot. In fact, it’s all we ever talk about. We don’t go about telling our friends how good our life is, coz it’ll sound so much like you’re rubbing it in their face. When they say “good for you”, it really means “whatever, I don’t care.” People don’t wanna know how you can get it altogether unless you’re willing to share with them what works without having them ask you like some sort of pathetic losers. But most of the time, I bet you and your friends will have different priorities and that whatever works for you won’t work so well with them. And sometimes, when you overshare the tips, it sounds like you’re trying to tell them how to live which will almost always get a boomerang. People feel most connected when you have dealt with or are dealing the same shit as them, that you are in their shoes, that you understand exactly what is going on, exactly how messy whatever it is. And that’s perhaps the best time to learn some advice from one another, you know instead of hosting and joining the pity party, you two just encourage each other and build each other up again (because trust is there).

My friends come to me for all kinds of advice. They know that I enjoy analyzing situations, comparing the pros and cons, deciding the urgency and importance, and the like. But these days, I find myself more on the listening end, letting the other person come to the conclusion which they had it in them. I even practiced stopping to “help” my friends to phrase their problems properly because I learned to really listen to the special way or version they used to tell their story. And lately, it seems like most of my friends frame their world in the most negative way possible. They use words like dying, messed up, crazy, losing, jealous, angry, and cursed. 

I am definitely not an honest person. I love this saying that goes something like this: Everything you need to say can be said with kindness. When my friends bitch about their problems, if I have nothing nice to say, I’d mostly keep my mouth shut because silence is gold. Besides, girls just wanna have someone there to listen and guys, guys ask specific questions that put you right where you can say anything but won’t hurt anybody. At least my male friends are like that.

Sometimes I just wanna say to those people who complain about the same old problems including me.

I know your job/relationship is no picnic. But you chose to stay. Yes, you made the choice to stay. No one forced you. Don’t tell me that I don’t understand your difficult complicated situation. I don’t but I don’t have to understand to know that every person has the power of choice. In March, I posted this on Facebook: Paulo Coelho once wrote, “the greatest gift God gave us is the power to make decisions.” I can’t help but wonder if that holds true for those living in some nations like the North Korea and Afghanistan. Now, I think even those who live at the mercy of some Taliban hold the power of making a choice, that is the choice of accepting or making a change.

Making a change is risky. It’s going to jeopardize a lot of things or persons you hold dear of. So if you were not going to take that risk (consciously), then please shut up and accept whatever shitty situation you got there. Life isn’t fair, it’s not the latest news. But you don’t get to complain about a problem you don’t want to solve. The weather is hot, can you solve it? Yes. Making yourself cool by standing under the fan or drinking iced tea. Simple analogy. Don’t complain about the problem that you are not willing to solve. The traffic is slow. By all means, complain. Can you solve it? Maybe. Drive with alert, don’t get into an accident. Can you prevent it? Maybe. Don’t drive at the wrong hour. A problem worth complaining is a problem worth solving. The time you spend complaining is the time you live in denial that you aren’t some sort of coward who’s too afraid of making changes.

But there’s no way I’ll tell you that, at least I’m not going to say it so harshly. It’ll hurt the friendship for sure. I’m not trying to be fake or pretentious, I just don’t want you to hear it from me. I mean, if you wanna talk some sense into me, I’d rather hear it from my mom or my favorite author. What I wrote isn’t some profound wisdom. If you haven’t known them, you’ll get there someday, on your own pace, no hurry, I’m here for you, there there.

Cheers

Bella

Flatulence or Bloated Stomach

One of my worst nightmares is to go through days and nights fighting against a stomach full of gas. I started having the symptoms when I was 18. Since then I visited plenty of doctors who told me different things but all gave the same advice: “remove coffee from your life”. You see, I’ve been addicted to coffee since I was like what, 15? Coffee had brought so much joy into my life, it had made me see the bleak world a happy place to be: the grass was greener, the sky was bluer, and for Pete’s sake, people were nicer. I know it sounds pathetic but it was true until I found peace and happiness within, or whatever it means. Though coffee stopped providing me that oomph I needed, I still regard it as my one of my best companions. On the other hand, I love tea as well just not as much. I mean, I love tea but my feelings for coffee are way stronger. Coffee is great for almost all occasions, especially for someone who enjoys spending time alone, like me. To me, a pot of tea is for family, a group of friends, or lovers who enjoy eating dates. And a mug of tea just sounds so sad, imagine sweater weather, a girl wearing a sweater, holding a mug of peppermint tea or chamomile, in a cozy one bedroom apartment, staring out at the window, sad. It spells sadness all over it. I’m sorry I got sidetracked. Today’s blog is supposed to be about how I battle with my bloated stomach whenever it decides to haunt me.

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First of all, I should mention that I have a list of forbidden food or substance which can cause gas, two actually, and they’re quite different from one another. I avoid consuming the things which I don’t really fancy. I’m not a picky eater, I can eat all types of vegetables. The problem is that a lot of types of vegetables can cause gas, I don’t really wanna name them here because I’ve learned from my experience that it’s true about the adage, one man’s meat is another man’s poison, so in this case, one man’s veggie is another man’s poison, you know, like, literally. What I’m saying is, people sometimes react differently from one another. I strongly encourage you to seek professional help if you’re not sure about the things you googled. Also, you should find time to experiment with yourself what you’re allergic to if you have any funny symptoms, just keep the dosage low, whatever it is.

  • Reflect on what I’ve eaten wrong (or done wrong)

Reflections help not only in the future to prevent the same mistakes, but most importantly, it diverts my attention from my abdominal agony to my hemispheric activity where I’d be exercising my brain muscles. It’s like driving a vehicle to battle motion sickness, you can’t feel car sick if your mind is concentrating on something else rather than the discomfort. What I mean up there, done wrong, is that I could have skipped my meal, or drank coffee before eating, you see, a lot of people I know have no problems with drinking coffee first thing in the morning, but I can’t do that, ever. I tried and I was punished by not being able to do anything productive the entire day because I’d be dealing with all the gas.

  • Sip hot water

I get very thirsty when my stomach is bloated, I don’t know why. But I can’t gulp because that would increase the gas. So I’ll boil hot water and sip it slowly. It makes me burp which makes me feel better in the end.

  • Hold a pillow on my belly

The warm feeling is definitely helping me to feel more comfortable, I also like the pressure on top of it.

  • Accept the fact that it happens and get on with work

I’m lucky that I’ve learned to control it and it doesn’t happen that frequent already, unlike those days when I had to skip classes or suffer through them. So I find it easier to forgive myself when it happens, because I know sometimes it isn’t entirely my fault. These days, my severity went down and I can still work with basically anything. Maybe I’ve mastered the mind over matter kind of thinking and it can’t bother me as much anymore. But again, the goal here is the same, focus on something else rather than the pain.

  • Try to poop

I don’t like to sit on the toilet bowl and wait for it to come. I find it ridiculous. I have pills that can get my bowel movement running but that is really my last resort anyway. Usually happy thoughts and other activities are able to do the trick, to occupy my mind and the nightmare would fade and things go back to normal again.

My 10 Best Tweets

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Among the many social networking services available, my favorite is definitely Twitter. It’s simple and elegant. I keep my profile private and a minimum amount of followers because Twitter is the one public space where I actually share some of my deepest thoughts. Apart from its best feature of educating dilettantes like me with online news, I like its layout, its beautiful, clean, user-friendly interface, and the fact that my parents are not on it. I joined Twitter in May 2009 and I’ve managed to post 5558 tweets so far. All within the character limit of 140, another plus point of it. Of course, as I am considered a very expressive person, I use Facebook when I failed to summarize succinctly and sometimes, I keep it in my journal instead, because well, my parents use Facebook, and it’s unhealthy or rude in my personal culture to block them. The things I typed on Twitter are very much personal yet subtle because, at times, I have to censor for the sake of my audience. Well then, this post is dedicated to celebrating my 8th anniversary with Twitter. I consider it a challenge not only because I love all my tweets, I mean I have to, I posted them for Pete’s sake, but also because reading them again brings back too many memories, it also serves as a window to see how I have evolved these years in my thinking. Anyway…for some reasons, I can’t seem to scroll down to see the tweets I’ve tweeted in 2009 to 2012. I will thereby narrow down the search to tweets from 2013 till 2016.

My Best 10 Tweets are as follows:

  1. The moment I stop pretending like I like you is the moment you thought I’ve changed. (May 6, 2013)
  2. Challenge of the day: Clarify your words, be precise, be specific and be polite. (May 28, 2013)
  3. Sleep is necessary to consolidate memories n make the neural connections that create learning. It’s a big mistake to sacrifice your sleep. (May 30, 2013)
  4. Whatever I say or think is subject to change. (Sep 6, 2013)
  5. Time doesn’t heal. The things you do with it might. (June 23, 2014)
  6. A year later, the same old cafe, a new friend, and different stories. (July 3, 2015)
  7. On one end of the spectrum is about don’t give a damn to what others think and the other is always think about others. (Sep 6, 2015)
  8. Never make someone your whole world. ‘Coz when they failed you, you’d have no other place to go. (April 5, 2016)
  9. Being in a relationship is like cutting onions. And for most people, ending with tears is almost always a given. (May 25, 2016)
  10. Nothing seems to be new under the heaven. I guess one of my biggest fears is that I have nothing special to offer to this world. (Sep 18, 2016)

Re-understanding the Beginning

In one of the mainstream religions, there was a holy book which recorded ancient history and lessons embedded in rich literature of poems, tales, and text. The beginning of this book wrote about a man created to be the leader of a garden. From this man came a woman who was designed to be his partner. They were happy in that garden but perhaps grew bored of the foods they were supplied with after a while. A talking creature appeared in front of this woman one day and seduced her to take a bite from one of the forbidden fruits of a special tree. She debated with the creature and told that her Master insisted eating this fruit would bring death. After attempting to talk senses into this talking creature, she was defeated and ate that fruit instead. She didn’t die and happily brought the fruit to her lovely partner and told him to eat. He obeyed her and soon their eyes were opened to things they saw but weren’t aware of until then.

This story has been told to me for at least a million times and until today I am still baffled by its every detail and this blog post is written to walk me through that story again.

For the sake of the argument, let’s say that everything about this story was true, I bet its purpose is to enlighten us with a few, if not many, truths we find around us today.

First of all, the Master in that story created a garden and formed a man. He planted many trees which will bring forth fruits to be eaten by the man. In Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, we know that food and shelter are on the bottom list of the pyramid. He also gave a simple rule to him which was not to eat the fruits from a special tree and he obeyed just fine. With rules and regulations come security and safety, albeit he only had one rule to adhere to. Next, we learn that the man was lonely. Loneliness affects every one of us, whether we like to admit it or not. To solve this loneliness, his dear Master was determined to give him a helper. He created living creatures – mammals and reptiles, and the man gave each creature a name. To kill loneliness, we too, seek for adventures, distractions, toys or devices and whatnot. Then, the Master didn’t think these creatures can tame his loneliness. He then made this man go to sleep. Some joked that if the Master didn’t make him sleep, he would have asked Him for more than just one woman. He didn’t need to seek love, but love was prepared for him. In the midst of searching for love, we’d probably come across a lot of wrong ones and only finally unite with the right one, or for some unfortunate souls, never found the right ones, because they were too impatient to wait.

Of all the living creatures, one of them was the most vicious one, and that was a snake. This creature can apparently smooth talk. It was also smart to find the right rival – a woman. And perhaps it’s not all smart. Note that the woman was actually with her man, makes you wonder why the man never voiced out. But a woman has been called for centuries, in languages from different parts of the world, trouble. This woman, though designed for the said man a perfect wife, couldn’t escape from her destiny to be a nosy being. Or to put it in a nicer way, she was just too curious. She let her mind wander after failing to convince the snake that it was a bad idea to go against their Master, even presenting a different argument than the one her Master taught her. She gazed at the fruit, picked it from the tree and decided to take the risk. Born to know that “sharing is caring,” she wasn’t going to enjoy the mouthwatering fruit alone, after taking just one bite, she gave it to her partner, who was near her, who said nothing, perhaps being smart, but then again, not that smart, as he too, ate it, perhaps out of obedience or fear to his partner. *Don’t always listen to the one you love* Then boom, from that day onward, the garden was never the same to them again.

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They hid because they were ashamed of themselves for disobeying their Master, just as we would when we did something wrong, we try to conceal it. The Master (who knew what they have done), played a little hide and seek with them. The Master challenged them to admit their faults but what they did was playing the blame game as we usually incline to and pointing fingers at one another. First, the man accused the woman, describing explicitly that the woman was whom the Master Himself gave to him (as if there was another woman or that his Master had completely forgotten about it), and then the woman blamed the snake naturally. The Master had no intention to question the snake at all and instead, cursed it immediately, followed by the woman and then the man. Just as we would be punished for the wrong actions we have taken.

What just happened was known as the first sin which rendered the fall of men. Disobedience. But I thought conformity was a negative term, I mean it must daunt us if what we have to do is just obey blindly but this is a contradicting world we’re living in. Without contradictions, I bet this world would be as dull as the factory work. And it dawned on me as I went through this story again that it all started with a choice which brings forth endless ripple effects. A choice to obey or disobey, a choice to be grateful for what you have and not crave for something you can’t have or a choice to let your desire rule over you and ruin your sanity. All it takes is to have a seed planted in our mind, and whether to water it with wisdom or to let it grow without control. Perhaps it’s true that it’s all about doing the right thing at the right time and knowing which rule should never be challenged and which choice should never be taken.

Perhaps what’s most ironic about the story is that that special tree was known as THE TREE OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOOD AND EVIL, which makes one thinks that we or our ancestors, would know better. The story didn’t just end there with the woman and the man chased out from the garden as what they deserved but resumed with a whole series of dramatic history about human beings struggling with human natures of loneliness, curiosity, blaming tendency and cravings of the eyes and bodies.

Another Take on Time

I have always been interested in the topic, time. Time is something fascinating to me personally because I was once that type of person who always feels a need to occupy my time with something, the type who can’t stand the idea of doing nothing, who believed in the myth of multitasking. Having said that, I also found myself, at times, guilty of sloth, procrastinating and daydreaming.

Thinkers should do more, doers should think more. I always consider myself the former. I seize the opportunity to exercise my brain muscle whenever possible but when it comes to stretching my body, it’s like the gravity works against me and my ass will adamantly stick to the surface, refuse to be carried. Nonetheless, I should be cut some slack because I am well aware of my problems and that I have started to apply kaizen in my life. For starter, I knew I am lazy to hit the gym early in the morning so I started my day with yoga instead. Yoga has helped my mind to be in sync with my body, which in turn, improved my mindfulness and led me to stay on one task with better focus and attention. What I mean is that I have started to take unitasking more seriously. I mean I still listen to music whenever I am writing or reading or doing the laundry, but I have grown accustomed to not checking on my phone every 10 minutes.

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When time is concerned, an interesting theory always seems to follow – relativity, that is “the dependence of various physical phenomena on relative motion of the observer and the observed objects regarding the nature and behavior of the time,” quoted from one of the dictionaries. Or if you speak English, Einstein or somebody else had a better way of putting this, “when you sit with a nice girl for two hours you think it’s only a minute, but when you sit on a hot stove for a minute you think it’s two hours. That’s relativity,” For me, the longest 2 minutes I always have is when I’m doing plank. In other words, relativity leads you to hear these phrases, “seems like just yesterday” or “has it been two years already?” or “gosh, it’s only been 5 minutes? I thought the show is ending.” But in fact, as Paulo Coelho wrote, “time neither moves nor is it stationary. Time changes.”

I may not believe in how evolution theory describes the existence of human beings, but I do agree that we are evolving with each passing day. And that’s why it frustrates some people who disagree with changes. They want things to stay exactly the same. Adele feels sad when she’s getting old, it makes her restless, she feels so mad for getting old, it makes her reckless. Yesterday was my 24th birthday and it didn’t make me sad, in fact, it makes me treasure my life, no scratch that, my day, even more. I open my eyes in the morning and feel grateful to my creator that I have received another present. Pun intended.

A psychologist, who deals with young people like me who are in our 20s, helps these lads and ladies to get on with their life by advising that they should learn to make better choices, especially in their 20s, because that would affect their life hereafter. I agree with some of the things she said like how important small choices are, but I also keep an open mind about it’s never too late. That’s probably why we’re encouraged to live each day as if it’s a new day. Paulo Coelho affirmed that by saying, “we can neither blame nor be grateful to the past for what is happening now. Each new experience…has nothing whatsoever to do with past experiences, it’s always new.” It might sound contradicting to the idea of ripple effect or butterfly effect, but I guess if you truly live in the moment, you wouldn’t think about all the wrong things in the past and you will only focus yourself in the moment right where you are to do the right thing and believe that it’s right for you, other things just don’t matter and can’t matter because again, time changes.

 

The Art of Speech

Think twice before you speak.

Urgent matters: Talk in a humane slow and clear manner.

Big issues: Talk explicitly.

Small issues: Talk with humor.

Uncertain matters: Talk cautiously.

Things which have yet to happen: Refrain from talking.

Things that can’t be done: Refrain from talking.

Hurtful things: Refrain from talking.

Unhappy matters: Talk to the right person.

Happy matters: Depend on the occasion.

Sad matters: Don’t tell everybody.

Others’ affairs: Talk carefully.

Own affairs: Listen to what others say.

Elderly matters: Listen more.

Marriage issues: Discuss sensibly and properly.

Kids’ matters: Give counsels.

 

Today

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act. but a habit. – Aristotle

First of all,  I just wanna say how grateful I am to have the privilege of taking a break before jumping right into a workplace after college. I understand that life is cruel at times and some people just have to start working right away for obvious reasons. My empathy goes to those who believe that they are stuck at the moment and that it’s not up to them at all to get out of their rut. Anyway, I’ve been jobless for almost two months now and truth be told, taking charge of my own free time (which is practically my everyday life) isn’t something I’m very adept at.

But as time passed, I’ve seen some incremental improvement. I started to value my time more and adopted a better approach towards planning for my day.

Ever since I started college, I’ve always been a planner. I plan things ahead. It’s just my thing. Even when I can’t put my plan on a paper, I’ll have my phone, and when that option is also closed, I’ll plan in my head. So planning my day is what I do every day. If I were to be diagnosed, I believe insanity would be on the list given that I kept doing the same thing – planning a schedule – and hoping for different results (that one day I might actually stick to it). To be frank, I have only succeeded once or twice, and by once or twice, I mean a day or two. In hindsight, I think my secret of success was the fact that I know I could only last it for a day. And oh boy, that revelation gave me a chill down my backbone. That’s it. Wait, I stand corrected. It is a combination of revelations.

Firstly, my conviction matters. Perhaps due to the multiple failures in a row, I have gradually, without being aware of it, believed that I am doomed to failure each time I plan a schedule. That belief brought forth a series of self-destructive acts which rendered me procrastinate, purposely forget about my purpose, occupy myself with other seemingly more urgent tasks and whatnot. So, the first step of sticking to my planned schedule is, of course, to believe in myself again.

Next, I work best when things aren’t overwhelming. I succeeded because I knew immediately that plan was only meant for a day. The word only makes it sound easier already. It makes me feel like I can get it done and get it over with. As the cliche goes, Rome ain’t built in one day. But heck, Rome shouldn’t be my focus in the first place, instead, the journey of building Rome is. Yeah well, the journey does sound arduous, extensive, laborious, fatiguing, and even difficult. But it doesn’t have to be.

Let me sidetrack a little and discuss what many loafers are suffering. Loafers avoid work because they feel overwhelmed by the BIG projects and they are impatient beings who won’t stick around long enough to see how a broken-down project can be so effortlessly done. More importantly, loafers put priority in pleasure. When something isn’t so pleasant, they escape. What loafers aren’t afraid of is boredom as in not doing anything. Yet, ironically, that’s what kills them in return.

Back to the journey talk, if you’re like me who’s occasionally guilty of being a loafer, then perhaps we should look at “boredom” as in tediousness with a new perspective. I know how practicing can actually become dull and mundane so loafers like us avoid it. But for apparent reasons, we should keep practicing. We can in fact attack boredom. What we can do is to apply Skinner’s Operant Conditioning. To put it in a simpler way: reward or punishment. Choose to reward yourself after finishing a task so that you celebrate a small victory in a frequent manner or punish yourself when you fail so to make yourself accountable for what you have not done.

Last but not least, we have only 24 hours in a day. And if you cut down the time for sleep, eat, social, and if you have the 9-5 work clock, you are left with less than 10 hours a day to accomplish the things you want to accomplish. Yesterday is history and tomorrow is a myth. Today’s all you got. In fact, 10 hours are all you got. What do you want to do with 10 hours a day? What do I want to do with 10 hours a day? Learn to enjoy your 10 hours. It doesn’t have to be like your last day or your first day on earth, or else you’ll be doing things on the extreme end, like eating that 5th piece of fried chicken and drinking 2 bottles of iced coke, smoking that pack of cigarette in a day, declaring your love to someone you know you have no future with, or spending all your money to travel the world only to sabotage your life later. 10 hours. Enjoy the process. Embrace the tedious work. The work that will bring you closer to your goal. After all, tediousness is only a matter of time.

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Someone said the ultimate key to success is grit which is a beautiful deal package of passion, self-control, and perseverance. But grit isn’t a process, it is a manifestation, a fruit of a combined effort. And it seems so unattainable at times. So don’t write building grit as a goal, write what you actually have to do to make grit your characteristic.