A Mother’s Celebration of Love

September 20th, 2008

Motherhood, I have always thought, is sine qua non to nirvana. When I gave birth to Elmo and Faith, I felt an exaltation of some form. Its almost surreal seeing a child breathe and cry his lungs out for the first time, coming out of your womb. Certainly, nothing could equal such joy. Could there be anything nobler than becoming God’s instrument to procreation? The moment I conceived and bore them, God made me experience what its like to build, to nourish, to nurture, to savour, to enjoy LIFE.

My kids are my daily dose of Centrum. Remember Angel Locsin’s famous line in that commercial? “I want to be complete”. Well, my children does. Trite and over the top? I know that motherhood is not for everyone, so bear with me.  Which also reminds me of Sushmita Sen, the beauty queen from India. She was perfectly right when she waxed hauntingly that motherhood is the essence of being a woman.

I was only 22 when I faced my first moment of truth. Much too young I guess because whenever I see 22-year-olds today, I am almost always surprised. Am I that naive when I gave marriage life a shot? Looking back, it was never that easy. You see marriage is not that simple. The difficulties I encountered in school would pale in comparison to the countless boohboohs of a married woman, not to forget a “young, inexperienced, housewife” at that. Although I used to romanticize that fact. I used to imagine myself wearing a loose duster, with my bulging tummy, and I was this meek-and-obsequious house wife. Boy, was I wrong. Life made a 360 degrees turnabout. I felt I was caught unprepared for the tasks ahead. Nobody ever told me that labor pains are beyond description. With Elmo, I had the whole day devoted solely for labor (and holy shit, how I hated Jun for taking photographs of me while I was so outrageously ugly in that situation). Its the same thing with Faith. Unlike other pregnant women, I didn’t have a panubigan (waterbag) that’s why birthing for me is somewhat traumatic.

The good thing is that it transformed me into a more mature person. I realized my limitations and made peace with them. As a wife and mother, I am far from being perfect. But I am finding ways to let my kids see their importance in this world. That as human beings, they have their rights to protect. That as stewards of the earth, they have an obligation to secure our environment. That as children of God, they have to keep holy His name and respect other beings.

Having kids like Elmo and Faith makes me marvel at God’s love for mankind. I am quite sure I committed so many mistakes in the past. Even today. But it is enough to feel blessed just by looking at them. Healthy, intelligent, beautiful.

Yesterday, Jun and I were very pleased after seeing their academic performance in school. I guess we really have the right, perfect genes. Lol. Elmo got a 96 (as an average) and Faith 94. Whoa, my husband and I were joking — we didn’t have the same grades in our primary school years!

In essence, I say that any form of “giving” (positively) magnifies one’s role in this milieu called society. Experts give birth to fresh ideas that eventually  translates to human benefits in terms of technology, medical breakthroughs, etc…Policy makers give birth to ideas that eventually translates into good governance. Economists give out ideas that translates to sound fiscal policies. But us women?  We give life. We give birth to generations after generations of men and women who eventually becomes the next experts, policy makers, economists, and the likes. That I believe is a manifestation of love in all its purest form!

Living The Prolific Life

July 24th, 2008

The prolific life has been characterized by abundant inventiveness and limitless creativity. Prolificacy has also been unnecessarily enshrouded in a veil of mystery and the sources of artistic inventiveness are too often viewed as out-of-reach for the average person. Perhaps it’s for this reason that artistic inspiration has frequently been attributed to muses, the channeling of spirits, beelzebub, etc.

In spite of perceptions surrounding prolific creativity, there are several documented commonalities that consistently appear in the lives of prolific people. Indeed, the psychological literature has some definite insights into commonalities of the prolific. My investigation into this literature has yielded these . . .

7 Common Characteristics of Prolific People
Highly prolific people tend to:

1. Be firmly settled in their creative identities. Prolific artists don’t question their artistic identities. They own the title of artist, writer, musician, etc. This might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s important. Prolific people aren’t shy about what they do, or about their love of art. When they have corporate jobs they tend to view themselves as writers with desk jobs rather than a corporate employees who also write.

2. Operate from a bedrock of stability. Despite the stereotypical image of the mercurial and whimsical artist, most highly prolific people have managed to pin down a lot of variables in their life; they aren’t constantly rearranging the logistics of life and reconfiguring their life situations. As a result, they can bring their full attention to bear upon the creation process.

3. Get “adopted” early by mentors or sponsors. Prolific artists tend of have received significant artistic mentorships at the beginning of their creative careers.

4. Get an early start: Prolific artists tend of have developed the rapid production habit early in their careers. They tend to have developed the production habit very shortly after beginning their artistic endeavors.

5. Be well adjusted. Prolific people tend to be sensitive, confident, open-minded, curious, intellectually flexible, willing to work very hard, and have a sense of humor.

6. Have a habit of writing. Highly prolific people tend to work even when they’re not inspired. They’ve developed the production habit.

7. Intrinsic interest. Prolific people are intrinsically motivated, almost without exception. They love their work and, in general, would do it (in some form or another) even if it paid much less or not at all.
[Note: Not all of these characteristics are present among all prolific people. These characteristics simply appear at a high frequency among prolific persons].

With these characteristics in mind, here are some tips for developing a prolific life:

1. Ruthlessly guard your mind. Prolific people often purposefully take on mindless jobs because it allows them to devote their thoughts entirely to art. Prolific people own their own minds, and they’re often found stocking shelves or parking cars, but all the while scribbling down notes during every free moment. They manage to engineer situations that allow their minds to be constantly creative even when they’re not actively producing art. (People who engage in cognitively taxing jobs are often too mentally exhausted at the end of the day to be creative).

2. Unabashedly take on your artistic identity. As Leo said in an earlier post, don’t be afraid to call yourself an artist. Can you imagine a prolific artist who’s afraid to claim an artistic identity? I can’t. Don’t be timid about telling yourself and others what you do. If you create art, then you’re an artist. The dedication and seriousness required to consistently produce inspired art requires a singularity of purpose that can’t be present unless you’ve come to own your own creativity.

3. Realize the gestation period of creative ideas. Prolific people might be producing at regular intervals, but the gestation period for their “products” is often long. You must be giving birth to a steady stream of new ideas in order for those ideas to bear fruit in a year or two down the road. Realize that prolific people don’t always have a shortened creative cycle; they often just have more creative cycles going on simultaneously.

4. Keep your creative inertia going. Do whatever it takes to make sure that your creative inertia doesn’t die. Require small outputs from yourself on a frequent basis and make artistic production a habit. Once you’ve strengthened this habit the floodgates of creativity are likely to open. One prolific writer I know has a timer that goes off every 40 minutes; with each alarm he writes down an idea.

5. Create stability where it counts. If you’re moving all the time and changing your life situation, the single-minded focus required for prolific output can be hard to obtain. Take care of as many external variables as possible in order to allow you to focus on your art.

6. Attend to your mental and physical health. While there are some very visible cases of clinically insane but nevertheless prolific people, these people are the exception rather than the rule. Less stress = greater prolificacy.

7. Get adopted by a mentor. Leverage any and all angles or opportunities available to find a mentor who’s done what you want to do. If you want to be a bestselling non-fiction author then don’t talk to the convenience store clerk, talk to a bestselling non-fiction author.

Source: http://zenhabits.net/2008/05/living-the-prolific-life-a-how-to-guide/

Aspiring to Write

July 7th, 2008

While on a business meeting yesterday with the staff of National Bookstore, I chanced upon a very informative, easy-to-use reference on writing. What is surprising about it is that unlike most books, it gives you really practical ways on how to reflect and create. The material was a relief for someone as inexperienced as me. The author, Viesca, expounds that “one moment of writing may enrich you, even as several years of pain and recovery have already allowed you to be the best person you can possibly be”. Amazing how the author can weave beautiful, inspiring yet profound words that it made me WANT to start writing seriously right away. Admittedly, there were plenty of times in the past when I attempted to practice but somehow the police in me would censor-and-remove-and-censor-and-remove what is supposed to be expressed. To be candid about it – I think in my lifetime I have somehow managed to put up at least eight web logs (also known as blogs). Unfortunately not only did I lack the motivation to maintain them, I also seem to lose the energy and power to answer that “nudging”, that little voice whispering me to put into words what goes on inside the mind.

Writing for me is catharsis. In the process, wounds that cut deep through the psyche are refreshed. You will taste the pain. You will stare at the ugly scars left on you. Yet in that same process you also learn to acknowledge your strength that after all the countless battles gone through, you are a survivor. Is it not liberating to look back and see how or where all of those struggles took you? Not in vain but as a better person. You realize that people are scarred but still beautiful because they become far wealthier in terms of life lessons.

Writing for me is celebrating “life”. When we write, we appreciate the good things life has to offer, has offered, and will offer us in the future. Each time we wake up with food to eat on our tables, with loved ones beside to cheer us up and to be there through the sunny and stormy days, with the little “joys’ and blessings that abound us, it is always a treat to have this things stored not just in our memory but in writing as well. When we write, we are actually being thankful for all of the most poignant experiences that have enriched us.

Writing for me is continuous education. Whether it is academic or personal, formal or informal – it always comes with learning, relearning, and unlearning. In a nutshell writing is educating.
We analyze, apply, use strategies to express and create. We may have varying styles but the point is, any form of writing, potently serves as channel of learning new things in life. Each time we polish our writing styles we also improve our capability at creating.

Actually, I am just beginning to realize these things lately. But in the next days to come I want to see myself writing more and more. Only then can I say that not only have I matured as a person I also have been more productive and enlightened.

Need I say more?

on Teaching

April 23rd, 2008

(This was written prior to my resignation in the academe not so long ago.)

Years in the academe has taught me so many life lessons that I will not trade with anything else, nor will I ever forget should I finally decide to bid CLSU goodbye. It has taught me to treasure every single moment I had inside this premiere university. Each session, whether good or bad, is an opportunity to learn. It is true that not all the time is a perfect time to teach. There will always be glitches, personal or otherwise.

Teaching is not unlike governing, says Conrado De Quiros. “The best teacher is not one who is so brilliant he is able to dazzle his students throughout his course. He is one who is so brilliant he is able to dispel his students’ awe at the end of it. The best teacher is not one who is able to keep his students in perpetual studenthood. He is one who is able to turn his students into their own teachers. The best teacher is not who makes himself as gratuitous as an act of grace.”

I believe that the best knowledge worker is not measured by the string of accomplishments he has in his CV, but one who uses such to benefit students in the best way possible. He is not one who sways his students’ opinion to affirm his very own views or beliefs but one who makes them think/decide on their own. Why, a good teacher is not one who creates a “clone” out of his students but one who makes them discover ways to assert themselves by allowing them to voice out their own perspectives. A good teacher is one who empowers. He teaches because he wants to demystify “learning” in its truest sense.

People may always have something to say about teachers and their different pedagogical approaches. One thing is for sure though. And it is that in everything, what matters is you think about students’ best interest. Oh you can be funny sometimes, strict, intellectual, or even techie – but all these must still depend on its appropriateness to the very needs of the learners. I also think that the best thing in this profession is getting to learn alongside students, not just in academic terms. Honestly, most of the realizations I had in the past five years were inspiration from my students. What I got from them is far too far compared to what I got in the office or even in the college. Maybe months from now – I will finally be working in a different setting. Be that as it may seem – all the values-slash-realizations-slash-experience-slash-lessons I have gotten from them – will always remain in my heart no matter what.

Finally, I must say how it is such a rewarding experience to become a knowledge worker who brings learning at the fore.  J

About Jasmine

February 19th, 2008

I attribute good choice to sound self-knowledge. Highly significant or otherwise, decisions are always a serious matter to bat. The choices we make define our person and our decisions either make or break us. As Lao Tzu once said: “knowing others is intelligence, knowing yourself is a true wisdom; mastering others is strength, mastering yourself is true power”. Many of us encounter unbearable failure and unspeakable pain because of inability to appreciate what dwells within ourselves. Not that I perfectly know my inner self, in fact, I’ve always believed I’m still a work in progress.

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