Birthday Candles

Happy birthday to me!

Another birthday has passed, and as always I’ve filled up my entire week with celebrations with the nearest and dearest.  Last night though, as the last of the parties dwindled down and I settled in to my quiet room, I was able to think through the entire year that went by, and all the things I’ve learned that have (hopefully) contributed to my becoming a better person.  Happily sharing my thoughts with all of you.

  1.  True friendship always finds its way back.   Many things happen over the course of our lives that may affect our friendships with others.  Some incidents may have been totally unintentional, some misunderstood, some may have been difficult judgment calls, and some strong differences in opinion or values.  But whatever the case, I’ve learned that the real friendships endure not because you are always together, not because they know every detail about your life, but because true friends understand and accept you for who you are, faults and all.  So yes, you may make mistakes, you may make stupid decisions but a true friend would be, at the right time, willing to forgive…willing to listen…and willing to understand.  There is no need to force yourself on people who find reasons to resent you and jump at the first opportunity to put you down.  I am very grateful because I’ve reached the point where I know who my real friends are, and they are more than enough.
  2. Honesty to yourself is very important.  When I was younger, I was very unsure about a lot of things—what things to consider acceptable or not, what activities I really enjoyed not only because they were considered ‘cool’, and even the people I chose to spend my time with.  The good thing about maturity is that it also teaches you to be honest to yourself first and foremost, otherwise you will never be happy.  So clarify your values, know what your non-negotiables are, find out what you are really good at and what will never be your strength, recognize the people who make you a better, more positive, more inspired person.  The moment you start to be more honest with yourself and accept that there are certain things that are just not meant for you (and there’s nothing wrong with that), the sooner you will feel at peace and free.
  3. Some things are worth waiting for.   #2 being said, it feels wonderful to be validated or rewarded when you are clear about what you want, and that is exactly what you get.  Some years ago, I read the book “The Secret” by Rhonda Bynes, and having been so inspired, I set out to make vision boards and lists of the future I wanted.  Of course after a couple of weeks I got sidetracked by the usual day to day madness and forgot all about it.  Since then I’ve been called choosy, and cautious, and ‘safe’, but  I refused to compromise on what I knew I wanted and needed.  In the middle of spring cleaning, I came across those lists and vision boards sometime last month and couldn’t believe it when I saw that nearly all of it was checked out.  It is so good to know that despite all the twists and turns or even nearly getting derailed now and then, you were on the right track all along…and that Someone must have been guiding you through the entire time.  All you really needed to do was wait.
  4. You can never go far from home.  When the impending relocation of my job was announced about a year ago, I was apprehensive and sad.  I am happy living in Cebu, and moving would mean dealing with a lot of inconveniences I never even considered before, not to mention missing home, my friends and my family.  Having gotten used to the idea though, I’ve come to realize that everything happens for a reason and that change and opportunity must be embraced, otherwise we would never learn anything new.  Besides, home is not the place itself but made up of the people you hold close to your heart.  Like Jason Mraz sang in his new song 93 million miles (my latest favourite)– “Just know that wherever you go, you can always come home.”
  5. Venture out of your comfort zone. It is all too easy to get attached to a certain level of comfort where everything is safe and predictable and completely under control.  But the longer you stay there, the more stagnant and irrelevant you become.  So when something new presents itself, dare to venture out of your comfort zone and give it a try.  Of course, some risks are bigger than others, like taking on a major career shift or making large life-changing decisions, but let’s remember that saying—“If nothing ever changed, there would be no butterflies”.  The reward for your courage may be far greater than you could have ever imagined.
  6. Chase after your dreams. In my high school yearbook, I remember we were asked what we aspire to do in the future, and I said I wanted to see the world.  At that time I hadn’t the faintest idea how that could happen but I knew I wanted it above anything else.  And so I studied hard, I worked hard, I saved up for years, I invested well, and before I knew it, while strolling around the Louvre in Paris one day with my friends, I heard my sixteen year old self exclaim “I can’t believe I’m really here!”.  Then I smiled and thought, “Was there ever any doubt?”.  And no, I am not gloating.  It would have been all too easy to just spend whatever I earned on all sorts of stuff (and you guys know how much I love fashion!), or to give up on it altogether and focus on more ‘practical’ things, but there is nothing more nourishing to the soul than seeing a dream come true.  It was totally worth it.
  7. People are drawn to positive people. There was this quote I posted on Facebook recently from a guy named Marvin Ashton (no idea who he is, sorry) that said: “Be one who nurtures and builds, be one who has an understanding and forgiving heart, who looks for the best in people.  Leave people better than you found them.”  Nothing beats being around positive, healthy, happy people who just seem to glow from somewhere in their gut, and make you want to be a better person.  I have resolved to spend more time in the company of such people and to try and become one of them.  Of course, you can’t please everyone and no matter what you do there will always be people who will be negative and critical and vengeful…but well, haters will always be haters and it feels so much better to rise above it all.
  8. There is always reason to be grateful.  Regardless of your circumstance, you could be having the worst day of the year, or the worst day of your life even, and yet there will always be many, many reasons to be grateful.  You are still blessed, be it with a beautiful family or a bunch of crazy friends, a good, honest person who loves you, a job that makes you feel fulfilled, or even something as simple as a warm blanket to cuddle up in while it’s raining outside.  You just need to identify these reasons to be grateful and focus on them for things to start looking up.
  9. Anything worth doing is worth doing well.  If you’re going to spend time and effort on something anyway, might as well go all in.  This can apply to anything in life and in love, be it with a new project or a new flame.  If you don’t give it your best shot, and muddle it with uncertainties and insecurities, you’ll always wonder if you could have done more, given more and maybe things would have turned out differently.  But remember to continue to think clearly no matter what—do not let emotions get in the way of making the right choices.
  10. The best things in life are free.  This is as true for me now as it always has been.  The best things in life don’t cost a thing—like faith, and friendship, and hope, and laughter, and love. This year, what I wish for myself is less of the frills and the fancy, and more of what’s real and what (or who) really matters.  I wish that for all of you too. 🙂

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