Okay, so people who have known me for years know that by nature, I am a whiner. It’s not that I was a given a bad lot in life, I just find it oddly cathartic to whine. I also used to have this notion that whininess =honesty: So if you share your troubles with others, or if you give them a heads up that you’re not totally keen on what they’re doing to you, then you’re being upfront. And I’m all for being upfront. So I end up whining. These reasons were exacerbated by this crazy superstition that I swear by; I believe you can preempt an unfortunate event from happening (or getting worse) if you talk about it. For me, it’s as if I’m giving a heads up to the universe, “hey, I’m on to you. So whatever practical joke you’re about to play on me, stop it.”
The thing is though, I realized that all my whining has made me a Debbie Downer. You know those people whose facebook statuses you hide on your wall just because they’re always so emo? Well I became one of them.
And it’s not just about what others thought of me too. I always prided myself on being able to be alone for long, long periods of time without getting bored or restless. But my whining had slowly infringed on my “me time” and I got to the point where I would get really anxious thinking of all the “problems” and “injustices” that I had to go through.
That’s when I realized that things have got to change. I mean, it’s one thing to be perceived as insufferable by others. You can’t please everyone after all. But if you can’t stand your own nega vibes, then dude, it’s time to take a chill pill.
Last year, a few months after I got married, I started a gratitude journal. The idea is everyday I would write about things that I’m thankful for. My list isn’t always major or life changing. Sometimes, I just tick down simple stuff, like being able to sleep well the night before (I’m an insomniac so that’s actually pretty major) or being able to make edible cream of mushroom soup from scratch (ok, again, if you guys know how much of a dud I am in the domestic department, that’s actually pretty major too). But I noticed that as the weeks passed by, listing down all these happy things made me realize how good my life really is.
One of my blog mentors, Martine (her blog is pretty awesome, makeitblissful.com), gave us an assignment and asked us to write down things that make us blissful. Much to my surprise, it didn’t take long for me to come up with things. What actually made it harder was narrowing my list down; so now I’m forced to divide my list into two. The significant list and my cutesy simple things list.
Posting the significant one first. Will publish my cutesy list next time.
Being married and more importantly being married my husband
I will not get into details because I plan to write a long, sappy post about our relationship to commemorate our boyfriend-girlfriend anniversary (yes, we still celebrate that. After being together for more than a decade, we feel that it’s still more of a feat than the measly 1 ++ years we’ve actually been married).
I find I find that being married has given me such peace and happiness in life. And knowing that I married “the (right) one” has made things even more blissful.
We’re not always passionately, “The Notebook” happy.. I think our marriage is more like a Tina Fey-Steve Carrell movie than a Ryan Goslin-Rachel McAdams one. We don’t spend our days sharing our hopes and dreams while holding hands and gazing into each other’s eyes. If anything, because we’re technically an old couple, we skipped the honeymoon period and went straight to practical and mundane. But simply put, I married my best friend. And when you’re with your best friend, even the most boring of activities, like grocery shopping or driving across SLEX every single week can be quite entertaining.
And just like my bffs, I feel totally secure with my husband. I can say the most inappropriate things (he’s usually more inappropriate anyway), cook the most inedible meals and examine my newly -acquired wobbly bits indifferently because I know at the end of the day it will not change the way he feels about me. (Well, there was a moment of doubt when I miscalculated the amount of chicken needed for a recipe and ended up just giving him 2 pieces. He seriously looked like he was contemplating why we were together at all. :P).
There’s a saying that goes you can’t choose your family but you can choose your friends. The funny thing about it is, even if I was made to live a different life, I would still choose the family I have now.
I remember my husband telling me how he finds it baffling how my parents (dad included when he was still alive), my brother and I could spend hours and hours and hours just talking to each other. That’s when I realized how incredibly blessed I am to be part of a family that I actually like hanging out with.
My dad, was my confidant and my source strength. My mom has always been my cheerleader, the one person I could count on to not only to support me, but to make me feel like I’m the sh*t. My brother never fails to make me make me laugh with his absurd sense of humor even when I’m in the throes of one of my heartfelt melodramas.
Like other individuals who spend an enormous amount of time together, we have our fair share of squabbles. We also tease each other mercilessly, without regard for each other’s self-esteem. At the end of the day however, we sincerely love and respect each other.
The great thing about it is, over the years, I’ve gotten to appreciate my extended family as well. I used to whine (I did mention I was a whiner) about my parents being overly-involved with the lives of our relatives, but truth be told, my life wouldn’t be fun without all my quirky uncles, aunts and cousins.
I’ve been blessed with a great set of friends. I’ve known most of them since I was in my teens and we sort of started hanging out because we had certain things in common (going to the same church group, being in the same block in college). But despite having outgrown all these common things, and despite us having somewhat disparate lives, we’ve managed to keep our friendship intact.
I know that these friends are for keeps because we’ve been through just about everything together. We’ve comforted each other through heartbreaks, deaths, career and financial upheavals, and have celebrated new relationships, marriages, child births and promotions together. I also know they can’t get rid of me that easily because I’ve managed to worm my way into their families’ lives as well. (I lived in Taytay, so I was a squatter for most of my college and young adult life. I shamelessly took advantage of their parents’ hospitality and would spend days at their houses. I’ve become such a familiar fixture that even their long-time house helpers would get cheeky with me. Whenever I visit my friends’ houses, they would unabashedly ask me why I’m not pregnant yet and would offer unsolicited advice on how I can loose my “excess” weight)
Truth be told, I would have been perfectly content with just my “childhood” friends. And I could live a happy life not making any more new friends. But because the universe loves me, I’ve been blessed with more people in my life. Some of these people I’ve met through work, some through my husband and surprisingly, a handful through our brief stay here in Subic.
These friends may not have know me when I was a skinny, poufy haired, outspoken teen, but my bond with each of them has grown surprisingly deep despite short time we’ve known each other.
So I guess life has a way of compensating for the things I lack. I may be a pauper in terms of finances, but I definitely have a lot of true friends I can count on (many of whom are not paupers and I could potentially mooch off of if the need arises. :P).
Living in Subic
Okay this is another reason why I think my whining does not do any good. When my husband (who was then my boyfriend) first got an offer to work in Subic, he practically had to drag me here kicking and screaming. I spent many blog posts describing how I lamented my fate. I was seriously dreading the move, especially since I was going to be away from family and friends. But just a few months of living here and I was already eating my words.
Now, my husband has to drag me kicking and screaming every time we need to go back to Manila (still whining, I know).
Living here has filled me with such an inexplicable calm. I surprisingly love having to live away from all the “noise” that I used to thrive in back when we were still in the city.
Again, will not elaborate because I plan to write a post about why I love Subic as well. But please allow me a moment to gloat because I can’t help myself : No traffic. No floods. Enough said.
Finding My Passion
Everyone who knows me knows that I’ve struggled with finding what I really wanted to do. Among all the careers I tried, I stuck with psychology and counseling the longest; mainly because I was genuinely interested in the field, I’ve invested so much time and effort training for it and because I was getting feedback that I was good at it. Also, at the risk of sounding immodest, being able to discern how to help people in that manner came quite naturally to me.
The funny thing that I discovered about personal callings however, is that it’s not always a matter of what you’re best at. Sometimes it’s really a matter of what makes you happy. And for people like me, those things don’t necessarily coincide.
There are two things I realized that I want to do: I want to continue being a stay at home wife (kids are not yet, and may potentially never be, in the picture) and I want to do freelance writing. The weird thing is, I’ve never actually considered myself good in either one.
Growing up, my family used to tease me about how helpless I was around the house. I couldn’t even boil water for crying out loud. And I’ve never operated a microwave until I my husband left me alone a couple of days after we got married with nothing but wedding food leftovers. (I had to read the manual from cover to cover before having the guts to push any of the buttons).
But once I got the hang of things, once I learned how to plan meals, cook, budget, clean, and basically do stuff to manage a household, I found myself loving every aspect of it. I’m quite proud that our helper can go on a vacation for a couple of weeks and I could boldly proclaim that I could manage without her. I love being able to anticipate my husband’s simple everyday needs and being able taking care of them even before he could ask. I love researching on new cleaning products and new recipes and trying them out. Weird I know, but scrubbing faucets until they’re shiny fills me with more satisfaction than any of my other jobs ever did.
The same thing goes with my writing. I’ve never been a total dud in this department the way I was with keeping house. All through out my academic life, I was always placed in advanced English and writing classes. But I also knew very matter of factly, and without a trace of insecurity, that I was never at par with my incredibly talented classmates.
In our college English class, my teacher (the great Doreen Fernandez, may she rest in peace) gave us mock awards at the end of the term. My classmates got “Most Likely to win a Pulitzer award” or “The Next Newberry Award Winner”, really cool literary stuff. Guess what I got? I got “Most likely to be a Seventeen Magazine Editor”. So see, I sort of knew early on that I was never going to have an illustrious writing career. Infact, when I graduated, I tried my hand in various fields, but I never even tried to get a job as a writer.
I rediscovered my passion for writing however, shortly before I got married. There is something about finding the right words to communicate your thoughts that I find incredibly fulfilling. It’s also quite rewarding to know that you can fill people with a multitude of emotions by just putting certain words and ideas together.
Realistically, I know that being a housewife will not pay the bills. And freelance writing may help augment our expenses but it will definitely not send our future kids to Brent (if we stay in Subic) or Ateneo (a non negotiable for my husband if we go back to Manila). So I’m very open to doing other things in future if need be.
But I’m so thankful that at the very least, after years of trying on different hats, I’ve finally found a couple that actually fit.
Reading through my list, it dawned of me that the things that make me the happiest are pretty basic. But I guess that’s the beauty of being blissful. It sounds incredibly simple, but I now seriously believe the cliché that was constantly being shoved down my throat by all the religion and philosophy classes that I took; happiness is being able to really appreciate the things you have.
When I gradually I let go of this belief that life is a struggle, I realized that being happy isn’t really that complex. You don’t really have to search long and hard for bliss. Happiness isn’t something that you have work for. You already have everything that you could possibly need to be happy. All that’s left for you to do is to recognise it.