Category Archives: Things to do

Week 44: Meditate

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In late January, my sister-in-law L sent me a link to Faith Hunter’s 30-day Meditation Challenge on DoYouYoga.com. Until then, I had no idea who Faith Hunter was (turns out she’s a famous yoga teacher). Also, I thought my capacity for meditation was two seconds. Still, I went ahead and signed up because I felt like taking life by the horns that day.

The challenge began on the first day of February. For each day of February and a couple days of March, I receive via email a video featuring Faith Hunter walking me through 10 minutes of meditation. In some, she asks me to stretch my arms way up while working on my breathing; in other videos, she makes me cross my hands over my heart, close my eyes, and tell myself all things positive. Every video is focused on a specific goal: to teach me how to think positively, to be courageous, to know my worth, etc.

I could have begun this challenge with a better mindset. For starters, I crammed three videos in one day. I wasn’t able to begin on the first day of February, only got around to it on the third day because of all the noisy things in my life. Faith Hunter must have known this would happen. The day-2 video was on breathing meditation for stress relief; day 3 was on calming the mind. Yes, she definitely knew people would be procrastinating and cramming her videos.

For the first few days, I just went through the motions. It was me following meditation instructions from a video. But then, I was so surprised to realize later on that meditating was making me calmer and more present in the moment. Sure, I was still disorganized and tended to get into strange situations–for instance, today, I hurriedly dressed in the dark to begin my day only to discover hours later, in broad daylight, that I’d put on a thin white dress over a bright pink bra with black polka dots. I spent the morning looking like Julia Roberts before she became Pretty Woman. But anyway, I digress.

Meditation has been helping me, and I’m so bowled over by this discovery. I used to dismiss meditating as a hack job to brainwash people. But the breathing exercises have taught me how to breathe properly so even if sometimes I have a hard time catching my breath, I can talk myself through it and eventually find my rhythm again. And the brainwashing part? I’ve found it’s not really so bad if it brainwashes me to be braver, to be more positive, to be more chill.

Throughout every day, I often need to go off by myself even if just for a few minutes, just to be silent and still. But a couple of weeks after I began meditating, I realized that those periods when I was alone were still full of noise. Sure, I was quiet, but I had my phone in my hand and would lurk in Facebook. Or I would reread Stephen King and fill my mind with so many words and terror. Or I would eat chips to escape being referee in a fight downstairs about who gets to use the newer badminton racket.

Meditating makes everything outside and inside me quiet. I’m learning how to exhale stress, frustration, and anger. I’m learning to be right here, right now. And somehow, I’m learning to deal with the fibro pain like Batman deals with his fear: embrace it. Meditation. What a gift.

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Week 36: Climb to the roof

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When it wasn’t raining every day and there were still no classes to belatedly suspend because of bad weather, we scaled a wall and climbed up to the roof of our house.

The Tactless Child had gotten it into her head that she was afraid of heights. I suspected that this phobia conveniently manifested itself after I told The Tactless Child that she was hereby in charge of feeding the fish, whose tank is on top of a book shelf. She would have to stand on a chair to feed our silent pets.

But just in case the fear was real and not a means to manipulate the ignorant mother, I thought back to an article I wrote about phobias. The doctor I interviewed said that the quickest way to remove a specific phobia is to gradually expose the person to the subject of his fear.

I don’t remember if I did it gradually, but I do remember feeling very smart when I thought of it: Why don’t we climb up to the roof of our house to show The Tactless Child that there’s nothing to be afraid of?

Turns out, there indeed was a bit to fear; beginning with The One Who Spits running up the ladder. There I was on the fourth rung, reaching up to hold The One Who Spits’ ankle and reaching down to pull up The Tactless Child. There was a brief moment, when I resembled a human letter T, that I realized the stupidity of my plan, but soon after, I’d cleared the ladder and pulled myself up to the roof.

We were on top of the big storage shed, a.k.a. bodega, behind the house. Right beside this shed grew an atis tree which was full of ripe fruits that balmy afternoon. The branches made a little cocoon of leaves over the roof, about four feet high. Sitting under the branches, it felt like we were inside a tent made of leaves. The One Who Spits immediately started harvesting atis – ripe, nearly ripe, and half-an-inch small, he picked them all. The Tactless Child forgot about her fear and got into harvesting, too. (The quickness in how her phobia left her made me realize that a six-year-old had finally succeeded in playing me for a fool.)

After harvest time, we explored the rest of the roof. The storage shed connects to the main house so covering the entire space was easy enough – for someone who didn’t have two young kids with her. Seeing the wide new space, The One Who Spits started quivering with joy. He didn’t know where to run to first: would he run to the street side of the roof first, where he could head-dive into hard cement, or would he dash to the part at the side of the house, where he could plunge into sharp tree branches? Oh, the choices!

When we had enough of the sun, we retreated to another part of the slanted roof where there was an overhang of santol branches. I had a snack of fruit (picked right from the tree!) while The One Who Spits massacred unsuspecting ants and The Tactless Child called down to our helper for a spoon, because her barbarian of a mother, who was eating santol with just her hands and teeth, didn’t think to bring spoons to eat fruits with.

We spent about a couple of hours on the roof, enough to extinguish all trace of one’s fear of heights. But it wasn’t long enough. Both kids thought the roof was a treasure trove and wouldn’t leave. Together, they found a rusty pair of tongs, a ballpen with no cap, a forlorn kite, and a spool of string. Our roof was apparently someone’s lost-and-found drawer.

Finally, we were ready to go. And then I learned the hard way that coming up a ladder is worlds different from going down it. It was a very good thing that our helper, who is used to my unexpected “plans”, was waiting at the foot of the ladder. The Tactless Child got down first without incident. Then I climbed down with The One Who Spits. I had him pinned against the ladder, supported by my arms and stomach. But somehow, he wormed his way out of my body cage and, with still six rungs to go, jumped off the ladder sideways. It was a fantastic catch by our helper, the savior of the day.

Since then, a trip up to the roof has gained status in our house. It’s now up there with Unlimited TV Time (which never happens) and Eating Chips Instead of Healthy Food (which happens from time to time, when I’m feeling guiltily rebellious). It’s something you don’t want to do because you know it’s just not a good idea. But you still do it because when you’re up on the roof, at least, you can reach up and pretend that you can touch the sun. And how glorious would it be if you actually could?

Supertamad’s New Home

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Yes, you’re in the right place. Welcome! I just thought I’d do some renovations and get everything to look more like me. Don’t worry, I’m still me. Everything – except for the stoic blue headboard – is still here, with additions. I’ve put widgets – or sidebars – to make things more accessible. Now you can look through the past weeks more quickly. You can also do the countdown to Week 52 with me. We’re less than halfway there!

I won’t be changing looks often. In fact, I think I’ll stick with this one. I kinda like it. So take a look around and let me know if you like Supertamad’s new home as much as I do. (Wipe your feet at the door and have some laughs. They’re on the house.)

Week 26: Do 3.5 Hours In a Salon

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I do realize that this is nothing new to many women, maybe even to many men. But it is to me. Sometimes, I even forget to look in the mirror before I head out because first, of course, I have to help The Tactless Child button her dress. Also, I have to pull The One Who Spits from under the car, where he likes to hide. Who will remember to glance at a mirror after all that?

So when the Hub and I were momentarily free yesterday, we headed to the mall and got our fixes – he fueled his testosterone with 3D glasses and Jar Jar Binks at the cinema and I headed to the salon to get my hair relaxed. To the unaware, with whom I belonged two days ago, getting hair relaxed means taming wild wavy strands (like mine) with
chemicals slapped on the hair. The girl at the front desk told me the
process would take about 2 hours. I was hesitant at first because that
seemed like a lifetime to me, but this hesitation was overshadowed by
my early (and shallow) dream of becoming breathtakingly beautiful. No better time to take breaths away than Valentine season. haha.

So within minutes I had an ottoman under my feet, a pile of magazines on a sidetable, and the stylist’s assistant hovering over me.
He had a pot of some chemicals in cream form, and the smell was beyond offensive. He explained that he was going to smear all that on my hair and let it stand for 20 minutes. I would have thrown up if I were young and immature – the chemicals smelled like they were fished from inside a filled-to-the-brim toilet bowl. But I stayed strong and went on zen mode.

After applying the goop on my hair, my guy wrapped my hair in cling wrap then stalked away. I felt like leftover lunch. I passed the time reading magazines and feeling rich with all the free time I had. I do love taking care of The Tactless Child and The One Who Spits. But sometimes, when someone else is looking after them for me, I get this momentary surreal feeling of not knowing what to do with myself. That, above all else, is what pushes me to find some “meaningful” work and
me-time. So I never catch myself staring at a wall.

Rinsing off the goop was the best part of the process for me. I love having someone shampoo my hair and massage my head. Heaven!

Unfortunately, wetting hair means drying it afterward. And I have thick hair. (Not the missing link, but close.) It took an hour, sincerely, and a couple of blow-driers whirring at the same time to
dry my mop. Gosh, it did feel good knowing that my two stylists were putting their skills to use to make me look nice. After that, they put another kind of goop on my hair. This one had a less offensive
smell, maybe only up to the caliber of a men’s locker room after a good game.

After another round of blowers (don’t know how else to put it), I was done and ready for my date with The Hub! I probably didn’t look breathtaking, but that’s alright. I don’t need to take breaths away anymore. Having nice, toilet-smelling hair is good enough for me.

Week 20: Scare Myself

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For the past week, I’ve been feeding an obsession. I do it when The Two Halves and The Hub are already asleep because it’s not good for them to see what I do.

Less than a month ago, The Hub bought this HD TV thingie – like a small hard drive where you can download up to a hundred movies and TV series, which you then attach to a TV and watch away (by my description, you get an idea how in I am with the techie world). The thingie came already loaded – Game of Thrones and The Fast and The Furious Tokyo Drift for The Hub (his range of interests gives me a whiplash sometimes), Monsters and Aliens for The Hooligan and The T-Rex, Grey’s Anatomy for me (I was secretly overjoyed about this, but wasn’t about to admit to The Hub that I like shallow, self-indulgent stuff like Grey’s Anatomy. Anyway, he knows that already). 

The object of my obsession is also on the list – The Walking Dead. The Hub and I watched the pilot episode and I was hooked! It’s about a group of survivors trying to stay that way in a world that’s been taken over by zombies. Based on a comic book, The Walking Dead is such a guilty pleasure to watch because it tells the story of a parallel universe shot to hell. There’s gore – after all, the series is about zombies. There’s delicious terror – you never know when a zombie will come groaning around the corner. And there are philosophical questions to answer – does eating isaw and chicharong bulaklak make Pinoys part zombie?  

So for the past week, I’ve been sneaking downstairs when everyone’s asleep and after writing for work to get my zombie fix. I bring my survival kit with me – a flashlight (in case there’s a brownout), a whistle (in case a zombie pops out of nowhere and I’m too shocked to scream), one of The Hooligan’s sharpened pencils (in case the whistle doesn’t work and I have to defend myself), and my cellphone (where I’ve saved the number of the Animal Bite Center). I know zombies aren’t real, but you never know.

It hasn’t given me nightmares yet. I don’t think it will because, while watching  The Walking Dead makes me too scared to turn off the lights sometimes, the horror is so self-indulgently juicy that I enjoy it too much to add it to my nightmare track. Of course, there have been times when I’d wake up in the middle of the night and have to spend half an hour on OMG! or People.com to empty my mind of walking un-dead beings. But, really, what is life without a little horror pick-me-upper?

Week 10: Do Videoke

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We live in an old house. The steps creak when we climb them; the jalousies are made of wood; the trees in the backyard are so ancient they not only provide shade for our kitchen but the neighbors’ as well. We love how this house folds us in and lets us live in our own world. Our house is a cocoon of serenity in the midst of a busy street and new townhouses.

One thing consistently shatters our peace, though, and that is the ultimate icon of Pinoy culture – the videoke machine. As far as we can tell, only one neighbor owns a machine and, unfortunately, the proud owner is our next-door neighbor. Once in a while, inspiration hits them and they decide to crank up the damn machine and grace the whole neighborhood with their ululation. It is a constant wonder why only the tone-deaf singers next door attempt world domination through their singing. The ones who do manage to carry a tune keep the volume at a decent level.

Listening to them (without much of a choice), I have homicidal thoughts. When my murderous musings reach fever pitch, what happens is the barangay tanod come to intervene; or sometimes the neighbors just stop wailing abruptly, as if feeling the hundred evil thoughts aimed at them.

Tonight, we had just arrived from a Halloween thing at The Hub’s workplace when the warbling from next door assaulated us. I was in no mood to be serenaded by Scat Cat and the Sociopaths so I marched next door to demand some silence. The Hooligan wanted to come, too. Which meant The T-Rex was right there at my heels, too. We were 10 steps out our gate when I realized The Hooligan was still in a fairy princess costume and The T-Rex, in a Peter Pan costume. But it was too late to turn back. I figured I’d just use my “authoritative work-voice” so they’d take us seriously despite our get-up.

Next door, the videoke machine was being worshipped with a lively rendition of The Carpenters’ “Top of the World.” I never heard Karen Carpenter screech so high. Fortunately, no one was drunk yet, and the kids and I were greeted by a chorus of happy halloweens. The “singers” were properly apologetic when I said my piece.

When we were turning to go, The Hooligan asked, “Can I sing, too?”

Of course, our neighbors scrambled all over themselves to hand her the mic. My limelight-obsessed daughter, The Hooligan, gamely took the mic and took over, acapella. “A is for apple, B is for bed, C is for a crown you wear on your head,” she sang, with no thought to tune or tempo. I doubt if the “videokers” present ever sang anything more edifying.

Then The Hooligan asked me to sing, which I hesitantly did, prompted by our neighbors’ egging. I sang the first song I recognized, Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline.” I began grudgingly but soon, I secretly admit now, I started having fun. I ate my words and had no problem swallowing. It was not so much the singing, really, but the letting loose that made it a blast. After that, the T-Rex wanted his turn. But that one was over fast because he only has a few syllables in his vocabulary and he says them real quick.

We left with an open invitation to come by anytime to sing again.

Oh please.

(Don’t let me kid you. I plan to google the lyrics to Madonna’s “Crazy for You” when I’m done here.)