lists

Halfway through

Hello. This is a reminder we’re more than halfway through the month and the year.

I have been meaning to post an expounded list of my gratitude list since last month but as with other things, I set it aside in case I can find better things to post. I keep a list of things that made me smile or remind me to be grateful; other times, when doing so feels more of a chore, I cheat and do a mental enumeration instead.

There are days I find myself sitting in the living room at 2 p.m. when the sun emits the right amount of brightness and heat, the wind enough to keep humidity at bay, and I can’t help but genuinely smile from the realization I may not have everything I want but I have everything I need. The food on the table, the strength to move and breathe effortlessly, a relatively comfortable living condition with my family, friends I can message at 3 a.m. about a giddy crush, the skills I can develop.

It’s impossible to be in this state every minute of the day, that’s why I need concrete reminders of mindfulness and gratitude. I can incessantly complain about trivial matters and about situations I was reactive to but ultimately, I learned the reasons to be thankful always outnumber the reasons to sulk. So cheesy you might think you’re reading a self-help manual.

I also inserted two Ted Talks which left a lasting impression on me this week because 1) you might pick up moving points from it, and 2) like other lengthy posts, reading a huge block of text can strain the eyes.

I. In my never-ending pursuit of finding the productivity routine that fits me best, I finally mustered the willpower to get rid off my cellphone from late morning until late afternoon. I discovered some text messages are urgent but not important. This is the reason I prefer texting people unless an emergency surfaces because, based on my experience, calls do not only cause unnecessary stress when I’m in a hurry but also disrupt my train of thought in accomplishing work, particularly in writing—a task I usually do either for paid projects or to decongest my mind.

It took me years to learn from my father who often drives me from point A to B. I used to bombard him with text messages asking where he is and updating him of my mood turning sour when I’m running low on patience. What an ungrateful person.  In hindsight, I realized doing so is useless because answering my texts and calls will take him more time to arrive—not to mention it increase his chances of meeting a vehicular accident—and knowing where he is won’t really make any difference as he is already on his way

Anyway, the same way of interruption occurs when I constantly answer Facebook messages; the next thing I know, I’ve spent an hour switching from one thread to another when my main purpose for going online is retrieve information for an article. Meanwhile, I’ve seen how easy it is to lose touch with friends without communication, that’s why I still go online. Plus, I feel the need to share information best known by more people.

Needless to say, I am terrible at multitasking; I jump from one task to another while feeling busy, realize my to-do list has no strikethroughs, and end up with a feeling of guilt and lack of accomplishment. Motion does not always equate to action. I then force myself to remember tomorrow is another day, another chance to be a better person instead of accepting I am the epitome of mediocrity because I will eventually act like it–in the same sense I’ve accepted I am a tardy person. Such a bad habit.

Today, I learned I am most efficient when I check my inbox and social media only after I’ve finished a task or during allotted times of the day instead of impulsively opening these. True enough, I finished a substantial part of a magazine. For obvious reasons, the exception to this rule are messages and calls from my parents.

II. A happening which may give you an idea for a prank: Our household help was making coffee when she complained to my grandmother that the sugar tastes bland. Having fixed her attention to the late afternoon news, my lola said today’s sugar probably tastes that way. Apparently, our household help put breadcrumbs instead of sugar. (My account in English does not give justice to the type of laughter I cannot fake after my lola shared this.)

III. Once, I opened the possibility to my father of becoming a medical doctor and joked it would probably give him a heart attack because the costs will delay his dream of staying in Camiguin for good. Without second thought, he encouraged me to do so and said he will support my aspirations as long as it does not put the human race in danger. He said a parent’s role is to guide, not control the life of a child.

I have been toying with this idea since grade school but, so far, haven’t taken concrete steps to make it a reality mainly because I’m unsure this is the path I want to pursue. The line between what other people think is right for me and what I truly want can be blurry sometimes; I guess big life decisions is like having a slice of pizza—only when I have a taste of it will I know if it’s bad or good. Anyway, if anything, the said conversation gave me a much needed reassurance.

IV. I have been regularly exercising again. I know, many people will probably think I don’t need it because I have a petite frame and my arms are identical to those of an elementary student but this is exactly where a huge misconception lies: that it is only done to lose weight. While its cosmetic benefits may be a strong motivation, I believe it’s an investment for my future self. I do not want to spend most of my hard-earned money on hospital bills and prescribed medicine instead of using it to travel and whatever a 40-year-old does to cure midlife crisis.

Also, for some reason, exercising gives me a sense of control. I went for weeks without doing so and I had a nagging feeling I need to get my life back in order. I know how spending time on the stationary bicycle or doing hundreds of jumps using a jump rope prevents energy dips in the afternoon and uplifts my mood throughout the day. As a Time article states:

If exercise stops, then my health goes downhill. With the loss of physical health my productivity at work goes down. I become depressed. I lose motivation to do the things that makes my business successful. I’ve learned firsthand that excellence in one area of my life promotes excellence in all other areas of my life.

Exercise is the easiest area of my life to control. It’s easy to measure. Either I get it in, or I don’t. When I do, it lifts up all other areas of my life, including my business.

Even the President of USA and the President of my alma mater find time to exercise. What’s my excuse?

V. After weeks of discerning, I have decided to stop undergoing chemical processes for my hair i.e. rebonding, perming. When I was in high school and in my early college years, my parents spent a significant amount for my hair to look the way I wanted. My throwback photos, which are usually the subject of mockery on Facebook, are enough proof of my hair being at its most uncooperative state.

Now that I have a strong motivation to save, I realize how impractical it was to spend thousands for my hair. A regular trim and a bottle of mousse will do.

VI. If everything goes according to plan, I may be exploring another side of the world at this time next year. The possibilities keep me going. 🙂

VII. Technically, I know how to drive a car but I may need more practice to have a proper eye-hand-feet coordination because “YOLO” just does not apply in this aspect. I think the reason I was surprisingly upset after my five-day driving lesson ended is I found check marks under the ‘needs improvement’ column and I’ve always considered driving a skill easy to acquire. I saw how many people can do it effortlessly and knowing I haven’t done well puts a dent in my ego. But then again, I should go at my own pace because it’s not a contest. If it’s any excuse, it’s manual.

VIII. Happiness also comes in “little things,” a term my parents coined when my brother and I were adorable toddlers who didn’t make them question their decision of having a family yet. Haha. Little things are simple surprises they brought us after a day of work.

I think them bringing a few clothes from their Manila trip was on top of my Happy List for a week because I don’t frequently shop. You know how your excitement decreases when an activity has become part of a routine?

Photo

I’m all for healthy eating but today, I cannot gather the courage to refuse my father’s KFC takeout which consists of a brownie and chizza. Chizza, otherwise known as one of man’s greatest discoveries, is boneless chicken with pizza toppings like tomato sauce, cheese, pineapple, and bell pepper. Finding out two of my favorite things can be mixed in one serving is the highlight of the day.

IX. As much as I want to complete as many tasks as I can in a few hours, I recognize rest is as important as work. To be more mindful in taking a break, I’ve downloaded and immersed myself in movies again. The only downside is, one film lasts for around an hour and a half and having too much time causes my mind to wander from a task. An advice for an ENFP hits home: Focus, prioritize, follow through.

I could share in great detail why I can closely identify with the main character.

Watching movies also helped me focus on one task instead of having millions of tabs open; otherwise, I’d end up in Hollywood Life from simply opening the Wikipedia page of the film. Plus some of its quotes call for introspection. Honestly, this is why I consider subtitles a necessity because I might miss some quotes. Movies are guiltless way of taking a break.

X. A couple of epiphanies while I hibernate in my cave for days: Realizing that a) changing priorities and outgrowing some things are part of life, b) the reason I feel guilty when turning down a request is my history of always saying yes; for some reason, saying no makes me feel less of a friend. c) In relation to b, the strongest friendships can withstand the test brought by change, and d) saving money even when people around you seem to have bottomless bank accounts or spend like the world is ending is okay, even when you can be tagged as a killjoy.

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