Thursday, January 27, 2011

girls talk: other intentions for 2011

We've posted about our 2010 plans for health, work and love in the past few weeks of Girls Talk, and this week we're rounding up our resolutions month with life in general.

The overall purpose of making resolutions and setting goals for oneself, I believe, is personal growth and/or betterment.

Ever heard this practical piece of advice? - Don't compare (or compete) with others; just compare (or compete) with yourself. The bottom line is to be secure about yourself, but at the same time checking that you are growing. You don't have to be a perfect person. Just make sure you're a growing one. ;)

This is how I do it: Periodically I ask myself Am I a better person than I was this time last year? Follow it up with question along the lines of, Am I in a better place in my life? Am I better skilled at something? Have my relationships improved? Am I happier or more content now? And so on. I just want to be sure that my life is not stagnant and that I am constantly growing and improving.

Other areas I want to work on:

Chat at least once a week with my Mom and my brother.
Drop by my mother-in-law's place weekly (or at least every other week).

Now that the Hubby and I will be generating more income, we're glad we can set aside more savings. Aside from leaving a certain amount untouched in the bank, I want us to put P100 each in our piggy bank every payday.

Spiritual health
Spend time with God daily, and get back into the habit of making journal notes. I used to be a committed journaller, but I noticed that I've neglected journalling since I started blogging my thoughts.

I intend to get myself more involved in our new church this year.

Intellectual / mental growth
I don't know how I should do this yet. In the past years, I've made it my goal to read a certain number of books for the year, but I'm thinking that books are ridiculously expensive these days, and if I want to save money I have to be a bit more practical.
Maybe I should do at least one crossword puzzle a week, to keep myself sharp.

Keep blogging. ^_^
Be faithful with my 365 Project - one photo a day for every day of the year.

That's pretty much it. :) See other girls talk about their 2011 resolutions at Beauty Queen Gene:

Thursday, January 20, 2011

girls talk: work-related plans and love-related ones

I'm doing two entries in one today since I missed last week's girls talk.


It's been nearly four years since my last day of working in an office setting. Between that time and now, I have cheerfully concluded that I am not the kind of person who would flourish in rigid office-type job and I should not work at an office again, hahaha.

I've been working odd online tasks, but I've been thinking about really working again this year. I definitely would like to have a more stable income. Though I can boast that I can successfully manage my time, I'm not very good at managing stress, so I want a kind of job I can enjoy, preferably a part-time one.

I am glad that these days, due to the boom of jobs online, I have the options to work from home. Just this week I submitted an application for a part-time English tutor. It looks fun and practical enough. The pay isn't that big but it's at least bigger than what I make now, and more importantly it's regular income. I'm hoping and praying I get accepted (hey, maybe you can pray with me too ^_^ ). If I don't get accepted, I intend to look for something similar.

love life

The Hubby and I will be celebrating our tenth wedding anniversary in June (I think we're old now, but I don't feel we're old, so I guess that's okay). We haven't really planned anything for the anniversary date itself , but we've been scheduling some trips this year.

Love isn't just in the big celebrations; it's also in the little day-to-day things. I therefore intend to do small, simple but deliberate gestures of showing my affection and appreciation for the Hubby every day. It's as easy as writing a random but purposeful note, or cooking some fruits into his oatmeal to make it special. I got this idea from Diana Hagee's book, The King's Daughter (a good read for every Christian lady); she calls it "one way every day". The point is just to intentionally show love in at least one way, every single day.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

how not to let those online social networks steal your time

If you've got access to the internet, you've already likely made an account in at least one of them. Sites like Facebook and Twitter aren't only "the in thing" nowadays, but they've become a major means of interaction, communication and the sharing of information.

You've also probably witnessed -whether first-hand or by observation - how these things can suck you into a black hole of non-productivity. You know; you sign in just for a little while with the intention of just checking your inbox ... And then hours later you find yourself deep in a chatfest with a friend, or lost somewhere in your virtual kingdom.

As you probably already know, these social networking sites aren't harmful per se. I don't believe in simply writing them off as useless time-wasters, since they do prove beneficial at times. I actually believe we should embrace things like Facebook and Twitter if we want to stay relevant and ready for the next wave of technological change, as well as in touch with the next generation (Let me explain: Look around now at those aged 40 and up who don't know how to use a computer and need their kids to switch it on for them just to check their e-mail. Those are people who did not acquaint themselves with the PC when they were younger, because they failed to see the practicality of the computer, and are now still unfamiliar with something so ordinary and necessary. You wouldn't want to grow old into someone so detached, would you?).

While I don't at all claim to be the poster-girl for discipline, I came up with a few points to outsmart these online time-stealers. These are a few conditions that I put on myself.

how not to get sucked in:

1. Assign specific times for checking your inboxes. Perhaps an hour or two in the morning, an hour or two in the evening - and that's it. Don't go over. Set an alarm if you have to.
Go through all inboxes - Facebook, Google, all e-mails and other accounts - all at once instead of checking several inboxes at several different times of the day. Skip over the unimportant messages. Send the short replies within that time; for those that need attachments or longer responses, see to them later until you've checked all your messages. When your alarm goes off, wrap things up.

2. Filter your Facebook homepage. Hide all posts by anyone and everyone who rarely ever say anything worthwhile. I suggest hiding those who whine most of the time, those who spam your inbox with too much useless information, those who are offensive and are pretty much uninteresting. For that matter, you can leave only the feeds from people who matter to you. You will probably not care about what's going on in the lives of your 700 other contacts anyway.

How to do that: Go to a person's last post on your feed. Hover your mouse pointer by the upper right corner of the box. Click on the little x that appears, and then click on "Hide all posts".

It's okay; no one will know you did that. You will still be able to interact with them when you want to. And it's totally reversible by going to "Edit options" at the bottom of your home page.

3. You don't need to respond to all alerts and messages. As a general rule, don't post comments just for small talk; don't remark on each and every new status or new photo just for the heck of it. Post comments with intent. If it's neither urgent nor important, skip over it. A single remark can easily boom into a lengthy, time-consuming thread, so don't feel obligated to keep clicking that "comment" button.

4. Ignore invitations to install applications. If you think about it, the biggest time-wasters on Facebook are the applications and games. Now, if you don't install them in the first place, you won't waste precious hours playing them, right? But seriously, some of the games on FB are really fun, even cool. If you like playing the games, choose just one, stick to that then delete or ignore the rest. Time yourself inf necessary.

5. Appear offline so no one will initiate a chat. On Facebook, click on that Chat tab on the bottom right part of the screen. See that little green thing that looks like a jellybean? Click on the white dot on it and drag it to the left of the jellybean so it turns gray.

6. Don't leave FB or Twitter on in the background all day while you work.
Sign out when you're done. Honestly, your followers won't suffer if you won't feed them trivial details every five minutes. You can tweet some in the morning, once during your coffee break, and then some more in the evening - that would be sufficient to update your friends.

Also, it would benefit you not to see the tweets coming in one after the other, so you won't feel the need to read them and respond to them right then and there. You can get back to them all at once later during your assigned times.

7. Limit the number of people you follow on Twitter. Realistically, you don't have the time to read every single tweet by several hundred different people every day. You probably even don't need to know most of the stuff they put on there, and you definitely don't want to follow people who have nothing worthwhile to say. And by the way - you don't have to follow back everyone who follows you.

Every few months, clean out your contacts - delete the constant complainers, obsessive updaters and random blabbers.

8. Put your Twitter contacts into lists. Put all your real friends in one list, all the celebrities in another, all the news updates in another, and so on. That way you can easily switch from one list to another as needed. Ignore your celebrity and entertainment lists for most of the week and check it only on the weekend. Believe me, you don't need a blow-by-blow account of Demi Moore's day, and it wouldn't kill you not to know what Tyra Banks had for breakfast.

9. Postpone some stuff for the weekend. If it is neither important nor urgent, you can postpone reading it, watching it or replying to it until the end of the week. Generally you can ignore all "amazing" videos and forwarded "inspiring" e-mails, even they claim to be a must-see.

10. Don't keep your computer in the bedroom. This is to avoid all-nighters. Place a time limit on yourself and don't go beyond it.

I hope this is helpful. Now have some responsible fun online. Embrace the wonderful innovations on technology and communication, but don't let them grab ahold of you and gobble you up. ;)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

tagaytay, ukay-ukay and a happy high

I went with a few of my cousins to Tagaytay for some mountain air, mushroom burger and civet coffee. It was good, clean, fuss-free fun, spilling over from the cheery Holiday spirit.

We found this lovely little inn with a coffee shop, in which we enjoyed a splendid view of the lake ...

... and I had a blast at the trip to the ukay-ukay stores.

I got me some tops for P120-150. The gray one cost me a mere P50. I also got that pretty dupatta (Indian scarf) above for P150. A really happy thawt.

Oh, about the civet coffee ... We dared each other to at least have a sip of the exotic drink ... but that didn't happen ^_^ We already stuffed ourselves with mushroom burger and dessert, we just didn't have any appetite left for it.

I'm still intrigued about how it tastes though (I've been told it's really good). Perhaps I could work up the courage to taste it the next time I visit Tagaytay.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

girls talk: planning for better health

I personally dislike making "New Year's Resolutions" just for the sake of having some at the beginning of the year, since resolutions usually fizzle out. I instead prefer to make practical plans. The former is an expression of good intentions, or things that should happen; while the latter entails definite, measurable, realistic objectives, or things I will make happen and how I will make them happen. The difference is that resolutions are vague and therefore have the tendency to fade into the background; plans and objectives are well-defined, time-bound and written and provide a referable "tracking system".

For the first week of January, we're girls talk-ing about what we hope for / plan for about our health.

This year I intend to get some physical exercise back into my routine. I used to walk on the treadmill regularly, but that all stopped when I noticed that our particular treadmill was too hard on the ankles (and then there was a convenient change in work schedules, so I decided to ditch walking altogether, haha). Recently though I noticed how much easier - and more fun - it is to take actual walks outside, especially with a good, comfortable pair of running shoes. I got the Hubby to be my "walking partner". We'll be walking at least twenty minutes, three times a week. After we get used to the routine, we'll increase it to thirty minutes, and then maybe to forty or an hour.

Health not only refers to physical health, am i right? With that in mind, I intend to maintain my emotional and mental health by continuing to do what I've been doing the past several years:
  • Choose my friends. While anybody is welcome to be a friend, not everyone must be allowed in my inner circle. A woman's inner circle contributes to her personality, and I don't want anyone's negative vibes or misplaced values influencing me.
  • Choose what I allow in my mind, because my thoughts shape my attitudes and so on. It pays to be discerning when it comes to simple things like books, movies, music and stuff. It's also good to be a critical thinker regarding the stories people tell, i.e., don't be an idiot.

About health - I was watching a rerun of "America's Next Top Model" last night, and the judges mentioned that true beauty lies in health. A truly beautiful person, they say, is really just a picture of good physical, emotional and mental health. With that definition of beauty, I aim to be a person who is beautiful and brings out beauty in others.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

a look back at my 2010

General climate of 2010: Grace-filled and hopeful. Like a huge burst of fresh air.

The best decision made: Exiting a stressful, dead-end situation.

Biggest joy: Open doors and uncapped lids. The possibility - or perhaps the probability inclined toward likelihood - of bigger, better, more exciting things for us.

Biggest challenge:
A shift in finances. The Hubby switched jobs early this year, which meant a change in the amount of income. This also meant the need to take on a few other jobs and adjusting our lifestyle. God has taken very good care of us though; we are still living comfortably and have fortunately settled all accounts. Praise the Lord!

Greatest find: SC and CS. :) It's God-ordained, I tells yah.

Greatest loss: My father-in-law. :( He was a wonderful man and will be truly missed.

Most noteworthy injury: An inch-long laceration at the base of my right thumb, caused by carelessness and a tin can. It required stitches and a few weeks of having not to move my thumb.

Spiritual principle of the year:
Liquid church. Less of the ordained, more of the ordinary.

This year's ministry: The Cave. Our little group of misfits and outcasts, inspired by King David's group of misfits and outcasts in 1 Samuel 22.

Most fun project: Tim Burton Un-Birthday Party. I pretty much conceptualized the thing and helped to organize it, though I never got to invite any of my friends since there was a sudden drastic shift in the intended age group ^_^ Nonetheless I had a lot of fun making decors and thinking up the details. I want another one next year.

Best trip out of town: Definitely the trip to Vigan, Ilocos Sur. A literal feast on local cuisine, and a feast for the eyes. It was also quite educational, particularly in the level of family history.

Best party attended: The motherside's Christmas reunion.
A good second would be the Tim Burton Un-Birthday Party that I helped organize.

Prettiest thing I made: The modified Audille nymph necklace I made as ordered by a buyer. I thought it was so pretty, I was tempted to keep it for myself.

Fashion fixation: Statement necklaces and tumbled semiprecious stones.

Favorite gift received: My new Nikon D5000 camera, from the Hubby. ^_^

Favorite gift given: A fondue set for the sister-in-law and brother-in-law.

The biggest disappointment: The candidate I soooo wanted to become president didn't win. I really thought he had a chance. Oh well. When Noynoy's popularity flops as he sits this through for the next five-and-a-half years, it'll make the guy in green look a lot more decent. Maybe in 2016.

The most hurtful thing: Rejection and betrayal by those we used to trust.
The ones who were once like family / Now treat us like the enemy.

My best reads for 2010:
Nonfiction: A Brief History of Time, Dr. Stephen Hawking.
Fiction: Trainspotting, Irvine Welsh
Another must-mention is So You Don't Want To Go To Church Anymore by Jake Colesen, et al. It isn't a gem in terms of literary style, but it's a freshly-faceted treasure of Christian principles.

My fave 2010 movie: Inception. It rocks in several different levels. Chris Nolan is a genius.
My second favorite movie would be the unexpectedly praiseworthy remake of an '80s favorite, The Karate Kid. A wonderfully feelgood flick for the underdog in everybody.

Fave TV series: Still, The Big Bang Theory. I'm not too fond of the additions to the cast, but the ensemble works as a whole.

Fave new snack: Dairy Queen Blizzard in Brownie Temptation trumps Lay's Potato Chips this year.
And almonds. I'm loving almonds.

Fave New Game: Last Word.

Fave new acquaintance: Josh T. Another one would be Luigi T.

Fave re-acquaintance: Bro. Manny.

Fave month of 2010: Easily, December.

Weight gained: Two chickens.

Monday, January 3, 2011

i just had a beautiful december ^_^

I disappeared from the blogosphere for a couple of weeks to make room for the loveliest holiday season I've had in years.

What made this December extra special are the relatives (on my mother's side) most of whom I haven't seen in a decade or so. They flew in from different places on the globe and we had that rare family reunion. We spent a big, loud Noche Buena together at my aunt's house, and lunch after Christmas at another aunt's house.

It definitely was nice to see my cousins again (most of whom are now a lot ... er, bigger than I remember them to be).

I guess my favorite part was the trip to Vigan. I've always wanted to go since a lot of people have told me it's a picturesque must-see.

But more significantly, Vigan is the hometown of my maternal grandparents. I went with my Hubby, my sister and twenty or so other relatives; my aunt, who is now sort of the clan matriarch, played Group Leader / Tour Guide. This was an informative sort of vacation, the main agenda of which was to get to know more about our ancestry. I loved every bit of it.

The trip also included a stopover at the Capas National Shrine at Tarlac en route. My grandfather was a Death March survivor and a prisoner of war at Camp O'Donnel back in 1942. This stop was for us to remember and appreciate him.

The Monument at Capas, Tarlac

My lolo and his brother's name engraved on the walls of the memorial.

We also had a daytrip around Ilocos Norte and a calesa tour of Vigan.

Interior of Paoay Church, Ilocos Norte.

Citrus-colored Parakeets at Baluarte.

And oh - we capped our nights with riotous Videoke sessions.

The frosting on the whole cake is my new camera. I'm really loving it. It's a lot more capable than the other camera I've been using, and the important part is that it's my own, not something I have to borrow. I took a lot of nice photomementoes and artistic printables.

There have been some ideas tossed regarding another possible reunion for 2011, to be held in Cebu this time. I'm hoping, and looking forward to another colorful December.