Ramblings and Brain farts

How to Maintain Good Vibes While In Quarantine

In our neck of the woods, it’s Day 13 of {Extreme} Enhanced Community Quarantine.

I mentioned in last week’s update that life is almost normal and that despite all the things that makes this situation difficult, life is still good. And it is.

As we end the second week of quarantine, I wanted to share with you some of the ways in which I maintain GOOD VIBES despite being in this time of uncertainty and hearing all the sad and upsetting news.

verabear.net | How to Maintain Good Vibes in Quarantine

Start a Daily Gratitude Practice

Now is a good time as any to start a daily gratitude practice. Carve out 5 to 10 minutes out of your day to jot down what you are thankful for. It could be just one thing, or five things, or ten.

As for me, I have a journal (on my second now!) where I try to write 10 things that I am grateful for on a daily basis, usually at the start of my day while sipping coffee. Some days I don’t make it to ten, and that’s okay! Doing this daily has helped me stay positive and it encourages me to recognize the lessons from otherwise difficult and upsetting situations.

If you don’t feel like writing in a journal, consider sharing what you’re thankful for daily on Facebook, or creating a card for posting on Instagram Stories. There’s value in sharing your practice with others, you’re spreading the good vibes!

Get Moving

Movement plays a huge role in boosting your mood and energy. Movement and exercise release happy hormones! So does going out to soak up some sunlight (in these times of Corona, do this in the safety of your front/backyard or balcony/terrace).

So I may not be the most credible here because if you Google sedentary lifestyle, my image will probably pop up! BUT I get points for effort.

Start by walking around the house. When you’re working, set a timer to stand up and walk around (and maybe do stretching, and hip circles (it’s fun!)) every hour.

Go outside (put on a mask, if you must).

Take frequent breaks from whatever it is you’re doing and do a 30-minute happy dance ala Meredith and Cristina.

When I’ve gone long periods of NOT moving enough (as is the case now), my go-to exercise to ease me back into the habit and to build-up stamina, are Leslie Sansone’s Walk-at-Home videos on Youtube. I really do not like exercising and hardcore workouts stress me out (I’ve tried HIIT), but these videos, even the hubby sometimes does them with me.

Find the movement or exercise that is doable for you.

Socialize!

Now is not the time for isolation. Yes, we are physically distancing from each other, but this is the time to be social. And I don’t just mean scrolling Social Media feeds.

Talk to the people you’re quarantined with. Binge-watch a series or movies together. Eat together. Be present with each other.

Chat with your parents, wherever in the world they may be. Call them!

Setup group video calls with your friends and family.

Reach out to friends and workmates just to say Hi! Ask how they’re doing.

If you’re in a book club, participate! If you used to meet up in person weekly/monthly, do it virtually now.

Instead of sharing doomsday theories and/or fake news, share the good news. Exchange recipes, book recommendations, crochet/sewing patterns, online courses.

Stay connected.

Sing

So I had a bad headache all day Friday and all I did was sleep it off. I got up just before 8 PM, right in time for an exclusive training inside a freelancing tribe I belong to.

Before it started, the host played music from the early ’90s and, of course, I sang along. I immediately felt better!

Sing out loud to upbeat tunes or any of your favorite songs. Kebs na kung maingayan ang kapit-bahay.

I’ve also been tuning in to the Facebook Live sessions of various Pinoy singers/musicians raising funds through Bayanihan Musikahan. They have a different set of performers each night (who perform from home, with just their phones or computers to broadcast with, yet they STILL sound great!) and it’s been fun and AMAZING too. You can still catch them, performances usually start at 6PM each night, until late into the evening! I think Martin Nievera’s performance on Wednesday lasted 2 hours!

Get Good Sleep!

Just like movement, sleeping well has a lot of benefits. Remember my post about The Sleep Revolution?

A person who hasn’t had much sleep tends to be cranky and irritable. Sleep deprivation increases the risk of depression and higher levels of stress. Don’t let that be you. Sleep 7-8 hours each night. Take naps if you need them.

Sleeping well does wonders for you, and helps keep you in a good mood 🙂

Spend QT with your Pets

We now have 4 grown dogs (Sirius Black, Pandora, Jango Night Fury, and Lep) and 2 puppies (YuQing and LuXia). They’re not trained, but I swear, they are like emotional support dogs.

The way they’d come close and reach out when you don’t feel all that well. Or particularly sad. Hay.

The hubby randomly picks up one or two or three of them at a time, smells them and showers them with love. The two pups are particularly smelly because they haven’t had a bath in two weeks (sabay sa quarantine, haha) and they eat dog food (pellets) but he still smells them. I believe it’s because it makes him feel better.

Give

I know that when you spread goodwill, you shouldn’t expect anything in return. But, it is true also that giving makes you feel better. So, for my last tip on how to maintain good vibes while in quarantine, I ask that if you are able to, give. Share your blessings.

In closing, I hope that you picked up a thing or two from me today (not the virus!). Though we continue to hear a lot of stories that are heartbreaking, and there are whispers that sow fear and anxiety, it’s important that we stay in good spirits and not be led by fear or scarcity. This is just the rain we’re putting up with right now, soon we’ll see the rainbow.

I leave you now with a short list of ways to help others. Thank you in advance for sharing what you have, prayers and good thoughts included.

Ways to HELP

Donate any amount while enjoying the sounds of Bayanihan Musikahan performers. They are raising funds to send food and PPEs to frontliners, AND to feed and help out families whose livelihood have been compromised by this pandemic. Food and assistance will be sent to them so they won’t be forced to leave their homes to earn a living and run the risk of contracting or passing along the virus.

Support this group who makes Faceshields for Frontliners!

Protect the Poor by supporting Caritas Manila in providing COVID-19 Ligtas Kits and/or Manna Food Bags to poor families.

Extreme Enhanced Community Quarantine – The First Week

Our story this week isn’t any different (not that much) from that of any other family in many places the world over. We are in that period of suspended animation – much like what you find yourselves in on those few days between Christmas Day and New Year – when you’re not sure what day it is, or what you’re supposed to be doing.

masked stuffed bears on quarantine
Photo by L N on Unsplash

Because three residents of our barangay (the smallest unit of local government here in the Philippines, like a more ‘official’ type of neighborhood) have tested positive for COVID-19, we have been declared under Extreme Enhanced Community Quarantine, an announcement made three days into the Metro Manila-wide Enhanced Community Quarantine.

Residences of the confirmed patients are considered Hot Zones and are blocked off. There will be no one going in or out of those homes. Houses within 500 meters of the Hot Zone (like ours) are considered Warm Zones and are also on a sort of lockdown. For a few days, we were not allowed to go beyond the checkpoints on both ends of the street, but now we are given a Quarantine Pass to be used by one person per family, to buy essentials.

I work from home, and I’m grateful that I continue to have work during this time of crisis. My husband is also able to work from home.

We are surrounded by family, and get to interact with them ALL THE TIME if we choose to. The other day, I got two nephews to clean my car, plus the windows out front and today, another nephew indulged me when I asked him to fill a bucket with soil (which I will later use to bury my Bokashi in).

And as we both continue to work, we also both talk to clients/colleagues over Zoom all the time.

Our pantry is currently stocked – thanks also to food packs we received from caring groups and individuals – and our last-minute grocery run before the restrictions kicked in. We have food and vitamins for our dogs. The puppies missed their scheduled vaccine, but we can always get that done after all this settles.

So life is almost normal.

Except that we can’t go out to visit our parents.

And we can’t physically show up for friends who are grieving.

And we can’t just go out anytime to go anywhere.

But life is still good.

I recognize that we’re one of the privileged ones. And we won’t take that for granted.

From our home to yours: love, light, and healing. xx

Dream Again

Stitches & Words | Dream Again | Cinderella quote

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Do you still remember how you answered this question when you were younger? I do.

  • Interior Designer
  • Architect
  • Journalist
  • Lawyer

Those were the jobs that I aspired for from grade school to high school. Pero ang totoo, kahit I never said it out loud as a dream job, I really wanted to be a performer. To act onstage or be on TV (hello, Ang TV!). I loved doing theater (also interpretative dance)!

I still remember the moment I switched from one dream to another.

It was a visit to an exhibition of Interior Design students that I got the inspiration to become a designer myself. I was very young then, 7 years old maybe? Parang ang saya kasi, seemed like such a joy to decorate rooms and spaces that would be appreciated by others.

Then I remember my Dad taking me to the still-under-construction building that would be their new office, and then having lunch with the Architect (or maybe he just told me about the Architect?). Hmm, I want to design homes and structures instead!

But after awhile, I realized that my drawing skills were very rudimentary. And I had a feeling I wasn’t creative that way – not creative enough to design spaces and structures.

But I could write.

A college Journalism professor told me so when I was 10 years old. She mentored us young writers aspiring to be part of the school paper. The school ran a great program while I was there: every start of the year, they would run a 1-day (or was it 3 days?) workshop led by her. She told us stories about her experiences, and also gave us an overview of what it means to write for a newspaper. By the end of the event, we would all have written something. Through our work, she and the school paper adviser would decide who qualifies and for what post.

I loved being part of the school paper and how we ran it. Those three years went by quickly. Sometimes I still wonder what would have happened if I kept on writing and cultivated the skill. I remember my Adviser (not the Professor who only worked with us during the workshops) believing in me so much that she came to our house one summer day to get my application for a creative writing workshop at the CCP. She also strongly encouraged me to stay in the paper for my last year (sixth grade, though she left the country that year), when I said I was switching to a different club. I wish we had stayed in touch.

Years later, when it was time to figure out what university to apply to, syempre I had to first decide what course I wanted to take. At the time, influenced by my involvement in the child rights movement, I thought I wanted to become a lawyer. A classmate told me that BA Psychology would be a good pre-law course. So I ticked that off as my first choice for UP Diliman. My next choice was Journalism.

Sometime in my first year at the University, I realized how much I didn’t enjoy going to school. Of course I loved learning, and I loved UP, I just didn’t like having to go to school. I never did. Or maybe it was traditional classes I didn’t like? And the idea of extending my years of having to be in school just didn’t appeal to me. I decided I did not have to become a lawyer to help others.

Fast forward.

To Now.

I am not designing, not writing for a living, not advocating for someone before a court of law.

It’s okay.

Posted with permission. EMM, Not Emma.

But I think it’s time to dream again.

Let’s Hit The Road!

Monday, June the 3rd, marked the end of my 14-year career in the customer service/outsourcing industry.

I wish I could say I had done so on my own terms. That I had made the decision of my own free will, because I was finally ready to move on to bigger and greater things.

But the truth is, no matter how long I have been telling myself that I wanted OUT of this job (mainly because of the hours), I hadn’t so much as drafted a resignation letter in the last nine years. I didn’t even setup a LinkedIn profile until a few days ago!

There were so many excuses to stay. Even after losing my own team two years ago, I had found reasons to convince me I wasn’t meant to be anywhere else but there.

  • I don’t have enough of a cushion to explore what I’d rather do for a living. How would we live on a single income while I figured out what I wanted to do? (Technically, we could. There’s just the two of us after all, plus 4 dogs (and two little puppies)).
  • I can’t imagine working for someone else.
  • I’d wait until I’ve built a substantial side hustle before I quit my day job.
  • Moving to another BPO would just be more of the same – same shit, different office.
  • My friends wouldn’t be there (wherever there is. Although I mostly worked alone the past two years anyway)

Late last year, I did some exploring into the freelancing world. I researched possible online side hustles I could do while employed which I could eventually scale to a high-paying gig. But because I didn’t give myself a deadline, I had one opportunity that was barely started (an online course), and another that I hadn’t yet truly pursued. Which means when the news of my letting go was delivered to me – I had no backup plan that was already waiting for me.

But, not surprisingly, I took the news quite well. Of course, it didn’t hurt at all that I was getting a decent send-off package for all the years I had been with the company (9). But it wasn’t just that. I felt relieved that the decision had been made for me. The decision that I had been putting off for quite a while.

And it could have been worse – a lot worse. I could have lost my job due to poor performance or loss of confidence, in which case I would have left empty handed. Thank goodness that wasn’t the case.

I do not envy the position of my bosses who had to tell me the news face to face – I believe it was a tough decision, and that they would have prevented it if they could. After all, I wasn’t the only one they had to let go.

If only they knew, that all along, they were setting me free.

What they had given me was the kick in the butt I needed to finally start on a new and exciting adventure. All that’s left for me to do is to take stock of all that I have learned, maximize my strengths, and hope for the very best. Oh, and to take action.

I am hitting the road, and I am excited to find out where it takes me.

I don’t like this picture!

I enjoyed our vacation in Taiwan so much – there was a lot to see, and we were in good company.

But I’m not LOVING this photo so much. Haha!

Here, we were about to go up the steps in Jiufen Old Street that is famous for being the inspiration for the animated film Spirited Away (not just the steps, ha). Somehow though, instead of igniting memories of sights and sounds of that rainy but FUN day, looking at this photo has me fretting over my not-so-crowning glory. Ugh!

But I am still sharing this photo. Why?

Because I realize that having thinning hair has been bothering me MORE than it should. I mean, of course I do worry about it – it could be a sign of some health issue (and as it turns out, of low levels of a particular hormone). And I am dealing with it.

But I shouldn’t let this bother me SO MUCH, and in THIS WAY.

Not SO MUCH that I wouldn’t want photos of me being taken. And definitely not SO MUCH that I see a photo and completely overlook the more important memories and experiences memorialized in that captured moment.

Sure, I don’t look perfect (ha! It’s not just the hair, hon), but I was having a GREAT TIME.

It had been raining; my hair, scarf and jacket were wet – so I was getting really cold. And I was thinking, I should have brought a backpack instead. But I didn’t mind. I just really wanted to keep walking and keep exploring. I didn’t care about how I looked right at that moment. It was the weekend and Old Street was teeming with tourists, stopping for a photo already meant blocking the way up. I didn’t feel the need to take the time to fix my hair and everything else right then. Besides, why be bothered NOW about how I looked THEN when all I’m supposed to be doing is looking back at that memory?

Of course, most of the time I would also try to look better when being photographed, just like every other person. There is nothing wrong with that. Who doesn’t want to look good? I just also have to admit that I don’t look good all the time. Not Instagram- or Pinterest-worthy every second of the day. And I am okay with that.

This quick visit to Jiufen is one of my favorites of the entire trip because I felt that the place had a vibe like Sagada’s – it’s in the north of Taiwan, and the quieter street had interesting artisan shops and cafĂ©s. It is definitely a place I would love to visit again.

Over at the very busy Old Street, there was so much food and it was interesting to just stand back and witness all that was happening. Even watching food being prepared is quite the treat.

All that, and more, is what I should remember. And that’s what you should see too.

The next time you look at photos of a vacation, event, or even everyday life, and it sparks a good memory BUT also shows you in a funny or unglamorous light – choose to look beyond your perceived imperfections. Remember its context and remind yourself of the stories associates with it.

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