Why I’ve Had Nothing to Say these Past Few Days…

On and on the rain will say
How fragile we are, how fragile we are

– Gordon Sumner

Just before we left the house for Abbey Road that night, Bronne and I were laughing hysterically at this thing that we did where, as we stood locked in an embrace, we’d rock each other to and fro by the knees. It was so cartoon-silly, just right up our humor alley that we were in stitches up until we drove up Abbey Road’s parking lot. As we spotted the EMT vehicles and the fire truck lined up at the entrance, we immediately ceased laughing.

Have you ever been to an open jam? The venue would always be filled with loud music and bustling energy from musicians and music lovers (and haters). Some people would be moving from one table to another like bees, saying hello, catching up. Some would be seated, chatting, often a little too loudly to compete with the music on stage. You’d hear the sound of silverware and clinking of glasses as people dined or drank. You’d hear applause. You’d hear laughter. It’s an event of sounds. In some venues, I would even call it noise.

But have you ever been to an open jam that was silent? I have. It was a scary thing to walk in hearing no music, no voices of people chattering away. All I heard was the sound of the EMTs trying to revive the person lying on the stage floor. People were still and most eyes were on stage, some were filled with tears, and some with terror.

Despite the silence the air was heavy with thoughts, they reverberated in the room like music. As I looked around, I could feel people praying or reaching out to their loved ones, wishing them all well, sending out their love. I could feel people’s sadness as they think of persons they’ve lost that were dear to their hearts, the memories of loss unearthed by the tremors caused by this tragedy. I could feel fear as people thought of their own mortality and how fleeting life is.

And what of the man on stage who fought for his life? His name was JJ. We were too late to meet him. He was playing a solo on his guitar when he collapsed. People were commenting on how good he was, we heard. He was creating music that moved. Suddenly, the music stopped. And, despite the quick response of some of the people at the open jam and the EMTs, he didn’t make it. JJ was a husband and a father of two. He was a friend to one of our dearest friends, Charlie, and, I’m sure, to many others.

Some people said that night that maybe it was how JJ would have wanted to go, lost in the middle of a superb solo, enveloped by music, surrounded by musicians and listeners who appreciated his guitar skills. It’s a comfort to think of such things when people pass away suddenly. It’s our way of coping with the shock of it all. Maybe he would have wanted differently, to pass away in the midst of his family or maybe alone in his den playing his guitar. But we can’t think of that because they didn’t happen. So we soothe our fears and sorrow with the thought that somehow he was happy in his last moments.

As I write this, I think of all of my loved ones, family or friend. I send you all love. I send this to you because no one knows when their song is up, and when silence replaces sound, it’s too late to say “I love you”. The words will fall on deaf ears. I remind myself to say the words to the people I love while they can hear me, embrace them while they can feel me. I should love the people I love, and love them well. Now. The time to love is now.

panda - sad 2

28-Day Life Overhaul: Day 6

I used to have asthma and other lung ailments when I was much younger. My mom spent many hours looking after me and, though asthma symptoms like difficulty in breathing can be very scary, I was never afraid because of her presence. Plus when I was young, I felt invincible. Death was something that only happened to other people. My asthma disappeared when I started running. My dad ran for years and I, naturally, wanted to emulate him. But even after he stopped due to bad knees, I continued and my asthma was a thing of the past.

Now that I’m much older, I no longer have that delusion. My mom got cancer but survived, my father died of a heart attack, and some friends have passed away, too.  No one is invincible. I mistrust my body as it gets older. I may have a forever-young mind, but not my organs. Because I know my body has its own tempo and trajectory, I respect it more now. I want to nourish it and care for it while I can still turn things around.

Getting asthma symptoms again now that I’m older is quite scary. My mom, who was my rock in every attack in the past, is thousands of miles away. I now live in a country with a climate very different from our tropical one. The meds offered here are different as well and doctors are quick to recommend ones that are too aggressive and with many side effects. I want to overcome this new phase of asthma by using more natural methods and cures that I believe, in the long run, will be better for my overall health.

When I first got revisited by the symptoms, I stopped exercising altogether. It was a knee-jerk decision based on fear. But then the rest of my health and well-being suffered. I couldn’t let that go on. So now, managing my asthma during exercise is going to be a priority and maybe a life-long concern. It teaches me patience for my body’s recent limitations, and forgiveness instead of anger over it. It reminds me to be gentle on myself, to be kind to my body. I will only have one and it will not last forever. Respect for one’s body is acceptance of its flaws and weaknesses, as well as recognizing its strengths. I can’t go back to languishing. I want to live with what I have and live happily.

Here’s day 6. I experienced an asthma attack while filming it and, instead of retreating to my bed, I decided to show everyone how I deal with it with breathing and relaxation exercises. I didn’t mention it here but I also do a lot of steam inhalation with a little peppermint or eucalyptus oil. And in case of excessive coughing due to phlegm production, I crush up garlic bud and eat it with honey. I also drink hot lemon water with cayenne pepper. This is my longest video of late. I hope you enjoy!


28-Day Life Overhaul: Day 5 Driving Lessons

I’ll tell you next time about how my fear of driving came about. But now you know: I can’t drive. I’m 40-something and only now learning how to operate a motor vehicle. Bronne tried to teach me after we first moved here to Georgia but that ended in semi-disaster. Several friends offered to teach me since then but nothing came off it mostly because I wasn’t ready to be taught or they weren’t really ready to teach someone as scared as I was. And then a friend I recently made, Marilyn, told me she’d teach me. No many days of planning. No pep talk or soothing assurances to ease my fears. Just, “I’ll come by on Wednesday and teach you how to drive.” And she came by and that was the start of it. And on the day I was to take the written driver’s test in order to get my learner’s permit, she came by and I tried to wiggle out of it saying I wasn’t mentally or physically prepared to take it (I feigned not feeling well). But she wouldn’t have it and drove me to the DMV where I took the test and passed.

It’s amazing how my life has changed since then. Many people have told me that driving is mobility, that I’ll be able to get out of the house on my own and go to places without Bronne. But those things never were important to me. The change that driving has given me is more than mobility, it is FREEDOM, not from the confines of my home or the company of my partner, but from one of the greatest fears of my adult life. As I slowly free myself from the shackles of driving, other monsters have joined the roster of fears to conquer. They are all in queue waiting for me to face them.

So, the driving lesson part may seem boring to you drivers out there, but I hope you enjoy this episode anyway!🙂 Thanks for watching!






Day 4: Forging Ahead

Have you ever been so gung-ho about a project that you just know you’ll NEVER NOT want to continue, but then you find, after a while, that you are running out of steam and might end it after all? All of my ideas seem to go to that route. And it’s not that I’m bored with the project, or that it’s too difficult. It’s that doubts enter my mind. I start questioning the worth of what I’m doing. And after that, I decide it’s all ridiculous and just a waste of time and space. But the wastage isn’t on me, it’s on the people I inflict my project upon. Like this vlog series, for example. I’m at that point where I’m starting to think that my life is too boring to film and why anyone would want to watch me jump up and down my Rebounder or watch me prepare my food. There are days when nothing of note happens to me. I just go about my day cleaning and editing. In the past, I would have quit already. Like this blog, for example. I closed shop and let the spiders have their run of the place.

But that’s the beauty of putting myself on YouTube. I can’t back out now. I’ve imposed upon myself a penalty — the shame of people watching me fail if I don’t go on. Maybe no one will notice if I don’t continue. Maybe they’re not even watching. But I’ll know I failed. I put myself out there then retreated. It’s hardly writing a novel in the nook of your room, alone, with just a lamp on. It’s more like going on stage in your costume, starting your monologue, then quitting after a few lines.

OK. Enough metaphors. The point is: I shall forge ahead with this. The end.

Here’s the latest installment of my 28-Day Life Overhaul. It’s Day 4, baby!


28-Day Life Overhaul: Day 3

I didn’t realize vlogging can be so time-consuming. First, you film yourself. But that’s not all you do. You have to set everything up. I make sure the space is lit adequately with my soft box but I’m still learning how to do it. Then I set the camera and angle it right. I make sure to charge the batteries so I never run out of juice, and upload the video files on my laptop to make space on the SD card. Then there’s editing. But before I can do that, I have to convert the video files to .wav and audio to mp3. I don’t know if I’m doing it right. My videos, despite being taken from our nicer camera and no longer my phone, come out grainy and lackluster still. Then there’s adding the title pages, voice overs, and sound effects. It takes a few hours to finish one short video. All that hard work and I hope it’s worth it. I wish I could say that as long as I’m fine with it I won’t care if the quality isn’t good enough for other people because I do care. I want to present something good. But for now, this will have to do. I’ll learn as I go along as I’ve always done.

28-Day Life Overhaul: Day 1 and 2

The first step to any journey is the most exciting and difficult. My first day of doing my 28-Day Life Overhaul was just that. I was looking forward to it, but I didn’t find it easy. I mentioned in the video that I craved coffee. Later in the day, I started yearning for sweets (ohhh, coconut cake!), salty (I’d have sprinkled salt on my tongue and would have been happy!), and starchy (Oh, yummy rice and bread!). But I stuck to my plan and I ate my salad. Because I had little sleep, I sunk into slumber at around dinner time, woke up at 11 pm and then made my low-salt veggie soup. I guess I was still a little groggy and overcooked the veggies a little but it’s still good enough to eat. I made a big batch that will last a week so I’m all set. Exercise-wise, I was able to start — or restart — my regimen that consists of my Rebounder workout and my modified ballet routine. I did both quite terribly: wheezing badly after the first, then having improper form and speed on the second. But I did them and that’s what counts! On to day 3…

I filmed this before I made the introduction video so I’ve been using my phone’s video camera then and there was some quality loss when I converted the files. But I have to post them as that’s all part of my challenge. Video quality will get better around day 4, I promise.

My 28-Day Life Overhaul: a Vlog Series

Why 28, you may ask? Well, I remember reading somewhere that 28 days is the shortest length of time wherein someone can change their life patterns. I also saw that movie with Sandra Bullock aptly entitled, “28 Days”, where the same thing was mentioned. Whether or not this is proven, I’ll stick with it. It’s just 4 weeks — 2 or 3 days shy of a month, but I like the evenness of the number 7 being repeated 4 times. So, 28 days it is!

First, I started calling this my detox challenge because I wanted to do it mainly to lose weight and be healthier. But after explaining it to a friend, “detox” unfolded into more creases to fix: my crappy sleep cycle, my disorganized housework schedule, procrastination, low self-esteem, and more. So, it’s not just detoxing from unhealthy food, it’s really overhauling my life. I mentioned in my previous entry that I want to get things right and this is a result of that.

So I’ve decided to chronicle 28 days of my life the best that I can. I’ll share some of the things I do to better myself, but I’ll also include some everyday things we do. It’s a Vlog series so anything goes, I guess.

If you think this is easy for me, it’s not. I hate seeing myself on screen or even in photos. Although I did act on the stage and a bit on TV for a while, I like taking directions and interpreting a script. For this project, I will be directing myself and thinking of what to say. I’ll also have to learn some new things like how to edit footage, and how to light up the space so people can actually see me. I’m really excited about this and a little nervous as well. But the most important thing is that I’m doing it and not just wishing I was or thinking about it. Bronne supports me and, I think, my cats as well, so now is the time to do it! And here it is: my promo for my YouTube channel and my 28-Day Life Overhaul! I hope you like it!😀


Countdown to 2015

MHL NYE thumbnail(A little too late for this post. I wrote it a couple of days ago and intended to post it with the video but I’m still new at filming and editing, and we had a show for which to prepare. Still, I hope you find this relevant. Thank you! And Happy 2015!)

I don’t know if you guys have New Year rituals, but I do. And I say “I” because I made them up. Made them my thing. Every year my family would do the usual NYE things like Noche Buena (where you eat at midnight — or stuff your face, more like), light up fireworks (we were more of a sparkler-kind-of-family), and shake our piggy banks to usher in prosperity. In addition to that, and I don’t know if they were just playing a prank on me and have rolled on the floor laughing in the privacy of their bedroom after I do this every NYE, they made me jump several times at the strike of midnight. Why? They said so I can get taller.

Despite my doubts about the traditional authenticity of that last bit, I still do it now and will do it this year even though I know my chance of gaining a vertical inch is as imaginary as pixie dust. I also continued with the shaking of the piggy bank but with my own twist: I’d go shake it all over the house, making sure I get to every corner — no exceptions. In my head. this will not only let me be prosperous for the whole year, but also drives out the stale energy in the house. We eat well at midnight (or this year, will start cooking at midnight because we’ll be coming from a gig), then toast to a new year. And then there’s the more challenging task beforehand, a countdown to the new year, to get the house in order and make everything neat and tidy. This was something I formed in my head, that whatever the state of my room (then) and house (now) is in will be a reflection of how it will be for the whole year. Sometimes I don’t actually make it before the new year strikes, but I’ve made the concession of continuing to get the house in order 3 days after NYE. The act of cleaning in the very new year is a good thing, I’ve decided in my rule book mind, and is very much allowed. Ever since I married Bronne, he’s had to let me have my way on NYE. We jump at midnight, make noises with our piggy bank and noisemakers and parade around the house to be rid of stagnant vibes. Then we eat and make a toast, the rare times we drink wine together. I am a lucky lady to have a husband that goes along with my made-up rituals.

So, 2 days before NYE, my house is a mess. Stuff everywhere. Clothes on the floor. Boxes. Laundry baskets filled to the brim. There is much work to do and not a lot of time. What a daunting task I’ve imposed upon myself! But it’s real to me, these rules. The ritual, though made up, has been made alive by my belief and trust in it. And, if there’s one thing I know to be true, the things we believe, and not imposed by others, are the ones that become real to us.

So here’s the video I made with Bronne and our band mascot, Joyful. It includes outtakes and bloopers. We learned a lot from doing it, argued, made a mess, cleaned, and had so much FUN! I hope you enjoy!



Getting it Right

It may be a trite but I’m going start the new year with resolutions. A new beginning! –> It’s a cliché but I really want one.

To help bolster my resolve as 2015 ushers in, I created my first vlog and uploaded it on my new YouTube channel to illustrate the sorry state I am in and how I’d like to rise above it. I had been planning to make one for some time now but got bogged down by how it should be produced. But, the other night, I couldn’t sleep and I just got the urge to leave my sleeping husband in bed, sneak into my wardrobe room and record myself and a couple of dresses on King Pig, my phone/camera. So it’s not the best quality in terms of video and audio, but it’s pretty authentic and true. I know it’s sincere when I’m embarrassed at the sight and sound of me.

So, 2015 is still a few days yet, but I’m clearing the path so I can forge ahead with my journey to a better health, body, and spirit.

Outfit of the Day: Peplumed and Booted in Black

We had a very satisfying day, the highlight of which was performing at an open mic of 20 talented songwriters in Duluth, Georgia (see Eddie Owen Presents).  It was a freakishly cold day and that meant only one thing — time to awaken the sleeping jackets!

OK. . . I look like a duck. Quack.

This jacket was a thrift store find. I bought it for 3 reasons: 1) it’s well made, 2) it’s velvet but matte, and 3) it has a peplum.

I love a peplum. I was unaware that it made a comeback recently but I don’t care much for trends. In fact, I love peplumed garments because they remind me of bustles, which will probably never be resurrected.  Sure, Vivienne Westwood made a go at it and they looked smashing on the runway. But I can’t see a modern woman sporting a bustle.  Can you? How would she drive her car without flattening the thing? Just imagine her making a grand entrance to a party with deflated bunched-up fabric against her bum. Sad.

Peplums are like demure bustles. They say, “I want to make your butt look bigger, but not too much, OK? Heehee!” Why exactly this excites me, I can’t say.  It sure does amuse me.  Maybe it’s because I like a little humor in what I wear.

I confess: I’m a little knock-kneed.
A view from the top!

And here are my vintage Dr. Martens 20-eye lace boots. I got them for a steal at Ebay from a very nice seller. They are unique because they don’t have the trademark yellow stitching DMs usually have.

Haha, I say that now but, to be honest, after I bid on them, I started sweating bullets when I noticed too late the lack of yellow along the sides.  “Fake”, my brain whispered.  Maybe . . .  Then Bronne pointed out another disturbing thing: the soles are not the usual transparent DM soles with the ridges.  “FAKE!!!”, my brain screamed.  As the end of bidding neared, I stared at my laptop and willed someone to bid even just a mere 50 cents higher than me.  But, alas, I won. And the evil shoe gods laughed with glee.

Then I did a little googling. OK, a lot of it. I learned that DM does produce non-yellow-stitched boots and their soles are not always transparent. In fact, these were Made in England and they have a registered no. on their soles that can be traced and thus proves THEY ARE NOT FAKE. So take that, evil shoe gods. Who’s laughing now, you cruel clog deities!

Anyways, I love these boots. I’m very partial to combat-looking boots. Probably because they remind me of my dad’s army boots. My dad is/was the best man I know and his choices and actions have shaped my life tremendously. He was a proud military officer, but a gentle man. He used to bring us to his barracks when my brother and I were kids and we christened his men, according to their physical appearances, after characters from the comic strip, ‘Beetle Bailey’. I was mesmerized whenever they did their formations. And their marching chants to the rhythm of boots against the ground were music to my ears.

Why I included this photo, I don’t know. I hate my face sometimes. Especially tonight. I thought I looked good but this photo, snickering, proved otherwise. But I’m posting it to memorialize my hair, to show everyone WHY NOT TO CUT YOUR OWN HAIR.

Yes. I cut my own hair. Back in the Philippines, my mom usually cut my hair. When I wanted to get pampered, I would walk to the next street and have our neighbor cut it. She ran a salon from her living room. It smelled of dye and burnt hair from hair dryers. No fancy salon sinks here. Clients bend over to get shampooed from a bathroom-type sink, their crowns often greeted by the faucet jutting out — bonk!  Anyways, my hair loved Nancy-the-friendly-neighborhood-hairdresser.  It thrived after she cut it.

So, because I can’t imagine anyone else cutting my hair here, I started doing it. It’s not so bad NOW. But there was a time I didn’t have my glasses on and I cut my hair. Hahaha. That was 2 months worth of hat-wearing.

And because Bronne wanted to memorialize his outfit, I’m including it here.

Look at him. His eyes are half-closed but he still looks great (grumble!). Guess who cuts his hair? (Evil grin.)

This is Bronne’s signature look: black top and red pants. It took us a long time to find him red jeans and I think we got these at Marshall’s or Ross, two of our very favorite shops. Actually, we call them our treasure haunts.  We go through the racks until we find a treasure and for a bargain, too. I got my first pair of Dr. Martens from a Ross.  Bronne found two very nice Ben Sherman button-downs for a song (“♪♫ Twenty Dollars! Twenty Dollars! ♪♫). Often we leave empty-handed, but that just makes the treasure hunt more exciting each time!

His red-striped Addidas sneakers. I almost typed ‘rubber shoes’ which gives you a clue how ancient I am.

Who am I kidding? I practically revealed it when I mentioned the comic strip, ‘Beetle Bailey’.

Bronne has a collection of belt buckles. This, I think is one of his top three faves. He’s Superman, my husband, and his kryptonite: belt buckles and British-branded shirts!!! This superhero goes weak-kneed at the sight of a unique buckle or a Ben Sherman shirt. On sale, of course.

And lastly,

Bronne sandwiched between red pillows, having a conversation with Ladybug. He’s telling her about our open mic experience, which was pretty good. But, boy, were we tired tonight.

I wanted to be in this photo but Katie refused to take our picture. What a diva.