Aye, The Stork Has Landed!


Today, I take a break from travel writing (Okay, let’s get real here. I am far from a celebrated travel writer/blogger. I just happen to travel quite a bit and occasionally write about my trips.) to talk about something personal, yet incredibly magical. The proverbial stork has paid our home a visit and I am now 17 weeks and 4 days into my pregnancy. I have been meaning to blog about it since the day we found out five weeks into my pregnancy, but Hubby and I decided we would wait until we’ve done the First Trimester Pregnancy Test (FTPT) and are assured of our baby’s health and normal development. Weeks have gone by and somehow, I can’t seem to find the right words to describe just how unrestrainedly excited I am – WE ARE – for the coming of our baby.

What I’m about to say is totalement cliché but I will say it anyway: What I am experiencing now is simply too beautiful for words. That pregnancy in itself is a life-altering event in a woman’s life – especially this woman – is a universally-accepted truth, but nothing could have prepared me for the overwhelming joy and occasional bouts of trepidation (Am I really ready to become a mother? Am I going to be a great Mom? What’s going to happen to my career after this? Will I be able to get rid of my pregnancy weight and how soon?) of actually going though it myself. The physical changes that my body goes through week after week is just one thing. The mental and emotional tumult (in a good way), is another.

It’s not because Hubby and I are worried for any particular reason. Deep in our hearts we know that we are both ready for the big picture responsibility of parenthood. Although we have been a couple for more than seven years (married for nearly three years out of those seven), we mutually-agreed at the beginning that we will not be rushing into parenthood for a handful of reasons. Some of those, I admit, were decidedly selfish but necessary in the way that they helped us become more prepared for what’s to come. Not to say that we already know exactly what to do – no one can possibly be that deluded – but we are trying and learning day by day. Do we regret having a baby quite late as opposed to getting right down to it at the early stage of our relationship? Not really, no. There are merits to spending a good amount of time as husband and wife, first, considering we spent much of our boyfriend-girlfriend years trying to make our long distance relationship work. We took time in nurturing our relationship and now that we have built a pretty solid foundation, we both felt it was time to bring in a new member to love and care for as much as we have done for each other all these years. Or perhaps even more. For isn’t it that children can bring out the selflessness you never even knew existed in you?

It was late last year when we started having serious baby talks and I won’t lie to you: I was starting to worry about my ovaries ageing faster than I could even perfect a pincha mayurasana (which I still haven’t learned to do unassisted, by the way) pose. I am 35 and I am not one to age-shame, but that sounds pretty advanced to me. Unfortunately for us women, our ovaries simply don’t decide to stop ageing at 21. Besides that, there’s also the late pregnancy risks to consider, i.e., the increased risk of Down’s Syndrome for the baby and also the potential risk on the mother’s wellbeing – if the mother is not very healthy to begin with. Thankfully, I have been living a somewhat healthy lifestyle for many years now. Yes, I do binge occasionally like any other human being with natural urges, but I try to compensate for it with a lot of weird exercises and then some.

To make things a little bit more compliqué, I had been diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome, which means, my hormones are completely out of whack and I’ve been told that getting pregnant may not be as easy as boiling eggs on a kettle with a timer. And because of my hormonal imbalance, I had to take hormonal pills for several years. So when we decided to have a baby, I prayed that I won’t have wait too long because, again, ageing ovaries, and well, we thought it would be really lovely to deliver our baby in Singapore, just as the nation celebrates its 50th year. After all, we did get married in Singapore on 12-12-12. Why not take the number play a notch higher and go for a Jubilee baby as well? LOL.

We may have been over enthusiastic about the whole let’s-start-a-family thing when we were in Europe last February (oh yes!) that I had the highest hopes of seeing those two blue lines when we got back from our winter holiday. But instead of two, I saw only one blue line, and I could feel myself slowly sinking into the abyss of sadness, that gnawing feeling of inadequacy, and aching worry. Weeks passed and my period still hasn’t come but at the same time, I was feeling these weird symptoms that were terrifying me because they were raising my hopes so far up – and I was afraid of crashing down in a pile of rubble. Hubby saw how distraught I was with the result of the first HPT and it was affecting him, too. The week before my second appointment with my OB, I took one of those HPTs and again, no two lines. By this time, I was oscillating from sadness to frustration and some other wild emotions in between, that it was pretty hard to play catch-up with my mood swings. Poor Hubby.

Finally, I went to see my doctor, primarily to complain about my period taking an extended break and the two happy lines not showing meanwhile. It turns out, I got false negatives on my HPTs! I was alone at that time as Hubby had a meeting he couldn’t get out of and anyway, we didn’t really expect anything different other than the singular line during that particular visit, so I didn’t really push him to go with me. So when I called him immediately after I stepped out of the clinic to break the news of my pregnancy, we were both so overcome with joy that’s unlike anything we’ve ever felt before. So freakin’ intense! I mean, if I thought having raclette and an undisclosed amount of wine up in the snowy French Alps in winter with was pure bliss, knowing that I have this beautiful seed blossoming into life inside of me is about a million times blissful! God has heard our prayers and we are going to become parents!

So for the last few weeks, Hubby and I have been quite busy making all the preparations for the little one’s arrival. And since I will most likely be blogging about pregnancy, motherhood, and the whole shebang far more frequently in the coming weeks, I should probably end my post right about here. On my next post, I will have tips and funny stories to share, so I hope you’ll stick around for that as well.:)

Oh, did I tell you that we are having a baby boy? Mais oui, c’est un garçon!

xoxox

My 17-week old bumpie.

My 17-week old bumpie.

Five Things to Consider When Going On a Holiday


Wouldn't you want to just lose yourself in THIS magnificence?

Wouldn’t you want to just lose yourself in THIS magnificence?

Going away on a holiday is a necessity for most of us who are deeply entrenched in the brutal corporate and (even) domestic jungles, primarily to relax and recharge our batteries, to get lost in the moment and rediscover our fun self (remember that time when you used to be fun?), meet new romantic partners or recapture excitement with current beau, or perhaps to disengage ourselves away from the maddening demands of our daily lives. Also, going on a holiday takes us to that state of natural mindfulness, where we pay complete attention to our life experiences and evaluate them with a fresh pair of eyes as we try to look to the future.

But now that we are bombarded by travel options, it becomes increasingly important to make wise travel decisions without having to kill the thrill of spontaneity and intoxicating randomness, in order for us to fully maximize the perks of our trip. Consider these tips when planning your next travel adventure:

  1. Traveling on a budget is NOT (always) synonymous to bad travel experience, and it shouldn’t be. What it does is simply help you manage your resources efficiently and encourage you to experience some aspects of traveling without having to go expensive all the time.
  2. Be an explorer! Now is your chance to absorb all the colors, sights, sounds, tastes and emotions your body can contain, so don’t waste it by being cooped-up in your hotel room the whole day. If in a safe neighborhood, you can take a walk, rent a bike, or run at your own pace. This is also a good way for you to keep fit while on vacation. Go out there and live life like you mean it!
  3. Direct your own travel documentary. Capture moments and places as much and as often as you can. These will give you enough materials to create your own travel videos which you can revisit each time you feel the need to escape but just can’t.
  4. Make one or two friends for each day of your trip and by that I mean, make it your mission to know more than just their name and what sort of work they do. Have engaging conversations on books, movies, sports and of course, your travel adventures.
  5. Be a student – learn. Discover more about the place, its history and culture, and the people, by watching, observing, listening, and asking questions. Make each travel an enriching experience for you and you will be surprised by the great number of things you will soon learn about yourself.

REVIEW: Singapore School of Meditation and Yoga (SSMY)


But first, something we all need to know from the get-go: Yoga is NOT a religion.

What it does is to promote certain steps for guidance in leading a meaningful life here on earth. Stuff like moral discipline, self-discipline and meditation are taught and practised in traditional yoga, but there are no religious obligations (like attending services) attached to it. Some even do it purely out of fitness pursuit and that’s okay, nobody’s hating on anybody, because that is simply un-yoga-like.

Like me, for example. I have been practicing yoga on and off for about a year or so and to be honest, I do it mostly for the asanas. I have not fully embraced the yoga way of life because my self-discipline is still far from the level that it’s supposed to be at, for me to be able to truly live the yogi life. But I know one day it will come.

I like yoga because each practice gives me a more positive outlook on life and if you know me, you would know that I sometimes have the predilection to be too pessimistic about certain situations, people included. It also allows me to be stronger and more flexible, not just physically but also mentally. In fact, I like yoga so much that I am planning on taking a yoga teaching course sometime next year. Hopefully, after I pop one out.:)

Fast forward to Saturday night, when Hubs and I attended the opening of Singapore School of Meditation and Yoga located at Tras Street in Singapore. At the event, invited guests were treated to a one-hour session of group meditation, followed by another hour of Vinyasa. Both sessions were led by SSMY Founder Japadas Bismark, whose entire life is a living testimony to the physical and spiritual benefits of yoga.

Embrace yoga beyond the asanas.

Embrace yoga beyond the asanas.

The Singapore School of Meditation & Yoga is dedicated to improving the well-being of every individuals through its teaching of Bhakti yoga. Like most people who are not as knowledgeable about yoga and its origins and teachings, I turned to Google and this is what I found: (http://www.zentofitness.com/yoga-eastern-western-philosophy/)
Yoga is actually represented as four “ways.” The way of harmony, or Raja Yoga (of which hatha is one), is the physical component. The way of unity is known as Jnana Yoga (the intellectual approach to yoga). Bhakti Yoga is the way of devotion (the religious orientation). Karma Yoga is the journey of works (the path of cause and effect). They each fit different yoga practitioner’s temperaments and form much of the comprehensiveness of yoga.
According to Japadas, SSMY’s purpose is to reinstitute the real meaning and purpose of yoga and mantra meditation by imparting to the community the true ancient knowledge and practices of yoga and mantra meditation that have been handed down through generations of bonafide gurus. So for people who are looking to deepen their appreciation and practice of yoga, beyond the asanas, SSMY is where you will find solace after a gruelling day at work or at home.
SSMY, from an aesthetic point of view, has been designed to really showcase the serenity and peace of the senses that one hopes to achieve during practice. It may be small in space but it does pack a lot of positive energy, clearly evident in the pristine white walls, the cushions on the floor of the small receiving area before it opens to the asana room with a floor-to-ceiling mirror on one side and big beautiful windows typical of traditional shophouses, and the custom-made yoga mats and yoga blocks for the students’ use. The asana area can accommodate up to 12 people.
The SSMY asana room

The SSMY asana room

Hubs and I practicing yoga together.

Hubs and I practicing yoga together.

Meanwhile, the meditation room located upstairs was designed differently from the asana area. Up here, the mood is more soothing and tranquil with less noise piercing through the walls and windows. The meditation room can accommodate a maximum of 15 people, all seating comfortably on plush cushions placed on the carpeted floor.
The SSMY meditation room

The SSMY meditation room

The studio also comes equipped with lockers and changing rooms and a nice clean toilet for everyone’s convenience.
The Singapore School of Meditation is offering free meditation classes on Mondays at 7pm beginning on the 17th of November. Meanwhile, the asana classes are available every morning for now but will accommodate evening classes soon enough. Founder Japadas’ vision is for SSMY to launch yoga retreats outside of Singapore beginning 2015. For the full schedule and other queries, you may visit SSMY’s Facebook fanpage.

Vicky’s Guide To Moving On


Nine years, three months and I have finally moved on. And the journey is, surprisingly, not at all painful. It’s as easy and smooth as you would have wished all your breakups in the past had been. But perhaps I should start by explaining what it is, or was, that I have moved on from.

So here it is.

Three weeks ago, I left my job. Or more to the point, (my) life for almost a decade. You know how sometimes you develop an intense affection for something or someone (the latter being more relatable, I guess) that you think the romance is never going to wane, but then you wake up and bam! It’s. just. not. there. anymore. However, in my case, it was more gradual rather than abrupt. No drama, no tears, no gut-wrenching pain or guilt. Except when I finally had that chat with my former Boss, whom I have always respected and I reckon, always will, and not only because of our working relationship but because he’s just a genuinely awesome person, that I got a wee bit emotional. A really good man, that one. And then of course, I have a few (so few) colleagues whom I really liked talking to and collaborating with. Let’s not forget the fun memories of the good old days when people were a lot closer, less calculating, more genuine, more fun. When you’ve had your fair share of breakups, you know that often, even when you know the relationship is heading south, you try to delay the inevitable by allowing yourself to be swayed by memories which are really no more than just dying embers. And these things (do) die, eventually. But I remain loyal to people, good memories and experience spanning nine years and the learnings that came with it. Otherwise, if I forget all of that, those years would have been all for naught. And they weren’t. I just…needed a good change.

Which brings us to here and now. Since I tendered, I found myself planning and doing all sorts of really fun stuff which admittedly made the transition so much easier, like I said. So here it is, Vicky’s guide to moving on:

1. Buy a MacBook Air. I mean, I wish Apple had just given me one for no reason but in my case, Apple came in the form of my doting husband. Merci beaucoup mon mari for my early Christmas gift! With my new job, I intend to pick up blogging again so Macquette and I are certainly going to have a LOT of crazy fun adventures together!

MacBookAir

2. Go to a baking class with newfound friends. Making friends is always encouraged but I prefer my connections to be more than just the perfunctory follows, likes and comments on social media. I want to be in the company of beautiful people (hi Mae!) who are just as passionate about learning new stuff as I am. Plus, baking is totes fun yo! And c’est bon, says Hubby.

BakingClass

3. Indulge your inner fat kid. Met up with a dear friend (hi Madie!) and discovered Market Grill and its famous Mangalica Pork Chop and swooped down on Dean and Deluca’s top-rated rainbow cake for dessert. Before the night was over, we made semi-concrete plans to hit foodie haunts we’ve never been to before in Singapore and just let ourselves go. Anyway, there’s always running and yoga to turn to when things get a little bit out of hand.

RainbowCakeDeanandDeluca

4. Go to a Mariah Carey concert. Okay, this one was not random. I bought the tickets months before but it was just fortuitous that the concert happened during my period of transition. Mariah can still sing and she performed beautifully last night! So haters and trolls, you can all give it a rest now. Give the lady a break. She’s been through a lot.

TheElusiveChanteuse2014

5. Go to a yoga and music festival on the beach! What can be better than these three things – beach, yoga and music -combined? Them three plus a lifetime supply of Ben & Jerry’s! Jest aside, I’m glad that I signed up for SoulScape SG where  I met a lot of likeminded yoga and fitness enthusiasts and got to do some fun things right on the beach! Never mind that the sight of their yoga-toned and taut bodies made me feel overweight.

SoulScapeSG

6. Repurpose old clothes. I started with a major spring cleaning session and, tadaaah, found clothes I have not worn in ages which I am now in the thick of repurposing so they don’t go to waste. While repurposing ex-lovers is a big no-no, I cannot say the same thing for, you know, things.

7. Reorganise stuff. Books, clothes, bags, shoes, kitchen items, digital photo albums, etc. Basically, anything messy that I can get my hands on, I will eventually reorganise.

8. Plan for winter holiday… (or any other holiday because now I have 20 plus paid vacation leaves a year to use whenever and however which way I want!) Planning is actually more of Hubby’s hard skill but I do get involved occasionally by scouring Instagram and Pinterest for places I want to visit and haranguing him nonstop to consider plugging it into the itinerary.

So there you go. Bottomline, we all have different ways of dealing with a major transition in life and mine just happened to have come together to form this beautiful pattern, for which I am truly grateful. And now that I have put the past behind me, it’s time to plan, nay, just BE awesome in life everyday.

The One With Random Updates On Married Life


I had just finished typing my last email with 33% battery life still left on my laptop, so thought of posting a quick one on my blog, which, upon checking the last update, might as well be a quarterly journal of heaping nonsense. My kind of nonsense.

If I could encompass these past few months that I have been sort of away, I could only think of a word: Wife. Married for four months now, I would have to say the new role suits me just fine – in a way that a person can never go wrong with a tailored suit or dress. It’s like playing house with a carefully-chosen housemate, only better, because you actually get to share a lot of intimate stuff and find delight in each and every moment. Of course there would be the occasional fights, mostly when I would lose my marbles for no reason (and let me tell you, I am pretty adept at that), but what’s marriage without excitement, right? I cannot be in a state of perpetual bliss 24/7. I need to lose it every now and then to feel alive. Thankfully, my husband loves me enough to understand and embrace my weirdness. But perhaps I shouldn’t push the envelope too far, ya?

So in between work and constant travel, I try to spend as much time learning how to fit into this wifey role – which I must admit, was perplexing at the beginning because I had been so used to just looking after myself and my own needs and now, I have a husband to cherish and look after. Suddenly, it is no longer just me or about me. I am now 50% of a life partnership and the more emotionally, mentally, and spiritually prepared I am, the better the journey will be.

A husband and this…

Image

… horticulture type of things, which I might be getting a little too obsessed with these days. You know how old folks would say you gotta try your hand at caring for a plant or a pet first before you even make an attempt to bring forth a child in this big, bad world? I guess it’s safe to say that I’m presently at that stage. Oh, have you met Perpetua my perpetually sleeping petit chat, yet?

Perpetua

So there you go, big fat checks on both plants and a pet. I am sooo ready to become a Mom, yey! LOL.

And then there’s also this…

Image

I have been spending some time in the kitchen on weekends (when I’m not downward dog-ging on the yoga mat or cycling and running around SG, that is) and I would sometimes surprise myself – and C – with the delightful dishes I would come up with in quick minutes. I’m no Nigella that’s for sure, but I don’t think I am entirely useless around the kitchen either. Ask C and I bet you he’d say without a hint or sliver of bias that my sinigangadobo, and four cheese pasta are the best he’s ever tasted! Haha.

All things considered, I would actually recommend marriage. But make sure to pick the right partner or life could be a lot more complicated than you would have cared to prepare for. But don’t tell anyone I said that — I (still) have a reputation to protect. LOL.

Goodnight Loves!

I’m Getting Really Good At Falling Off The Grid It Seems


For the first time since my last post, I remembered to visit my blog and I noticed that I haven’t posted anything by way of an update since November – and now, I don’t even know what to say anymore!  One thing I can assure you, though, is that while I had gotten unabashedly lazy blogging, I had never been more serious about life .

A lot of things happened in the last quarter of 2012 and they’re mostly great, that if one were to cut open my heart now, I will be bleeding gratitude and joy. And yes, love.

First, I moved to Singapore to finally join Mr. A. We’ve talked about my moving for quite sometime, only to find me getting cold feet once or twice. Until finally, last October, I had found the chutzpah to just pack up and go.

Then I ran and completed the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon (SCSM) 2012, after defaulting in the last two years on account of injury and a trip abroad. I was awfully slow at 40 minutes past my last marathon in Manila, but I didn’t care. The route was amazing, the race was wonderfully organized, and I was happy to hug my then-fiance at the finish line. Marathon number 5, check! Now let’s find me number 6, shall we?

While it's good to count mileage, counting moments is way better.:)

While it’s good to count mileage, counting moments is way better.:)

Two days later, I traveled to Pune in India for work and it was such a lovely experience seeing everyone so involved and invested in the training tour. It was also my second time to visit India and just like the first time, I was held captive by the heat and the cacophony of colors and noise of this very interesting nation.

Pune, India

Pune, India

And then I became Mrs. A, officially, on 12.12.12. No, I don’t think the choice of date for the civil marriage thingy was cheesy at all. And if you ask the 500+ couples who also got married in Singapore on that day, I’m sure they will say the same thing. Haha. Now we have to prepare for the wedding ceremony happening soon in Bali.

Mr. and Mrs. A

Mr. and Mrs. A

Me, a married woman? I know, I know. Sometimes, I have to pinch myself and sneak a glance at my ring finger to double-check. And you know what? It’s a beautiful thing. Being married, that is. And I think Mr. C and I have a great love story. One that I can’t wait to share with our future child – or two.

And then we went to Phuket for our Christmas holiday and it was just perfect. We were in the one place we both worship – the beach. We went on a tour of the famed Phi Phi island (something we didn’t get to do the first time we went to Phuket in 2010), lazed around Karon, Kamala and Surin beaches for days, went trekking with Dodo the Elephant, watched a few sunsets, had Thai massages, and put on a lot of weight eating rich Thai food and wine-ing whenever we can.

Phi Phi Island tour

Phi Phi Island tour

Trekking with Dodo the Elephant

Trekking with Dodo the Elephant

Sunset at Patong Beach.

Sunset at Patong Beach.

God had been quite generous with me last year. Always have been, even when I thought I deserve much less.

Life is truly beautiful. Don’t ever let anyone convince you otherwise.

TOTAL FITNESS: Why LOVE is good for your health


NOTE: Published in this month’s TOTAL FITNESS Magazine. Grab a copy today!

***

Love, it seems, has immense therapeutic potential that inspires professionals to continue exploring ways in which to channel its benefits in promoting good health, longevity, and a fulfilled life. Where there is love, intimacy cannot be too far behind. And these two, put together, often bring healing, joy, and meaning to human lives.

1.  Being in a healthy relationship keeps you fit. Literally.

But before that, a caveat: Just because you consider yourself (finally) off-the-market on account of a relationship, it doesn’t mean that you have earned the right to let go as some men/women tend to do. Being in a healthy relationship means looking after each other’s needs and in doses that are non-detrimental. Keeping it to the physical aspect of romantic relationship: Did you know that the simple act of kissing can burn up to 28 calories, while up to 30 minutes of sexual activity can burn 85 calories – the equivalent of a small glass of red wine. This might not sound like much but a vigorous session can burn up to 200 calories, which is about the same as running for 15 minutes. Sex also works the core muscles in your legs, pelvis, bottom and abdomen and can boost levels of testosterone, which leads to stronger bones and muscles. So, next time you feel like opening that bag of Cheetos, grab your beau instead.

2.  Love is a potent stress-buster

Relationships – and especially marriages – might traditionally be seen as sources of stress but supportive, long-term relationship brings mental health and physical health benefits to both the man and the woman.  To prove this point, a study published recently by researchers at the University of Chicago found that men and women in happy relationships or marriage had lower levels of stress hormone cortisol in their bodies, indicating they had reacted less to the stress. In addition, happy and fulfilling relationships have also been linked to improvements in mental and physical health and longer life expectancy.

3.  Healthy relationships promote better immune system and can help reduce pain

It has been found that optimism and positive attitude boost immunity and people who are in love and cared for in return are naturally optimistic. Going further, some studies indicate that having (safe) sex once or twice a week lead to higher levels of an infection-fighting antibody called immunoglobulin A, or IgA. Having physical contact with another person, whether kissing, cuddling or having sex, promotes the release of the hormone called oxytocin – dubbed the “love hormone”. Aside from its relaxing effect on the body, oxytocin can also reduce anxiety and help numb pain by releasing endorphins.  To demonstrate this, scientists at Stanford University School of Medicine, launched a trial whereby patients suffering from chronic headaches were given a dose of oxytocin in the form of a nasal spray. Around half of the patients administered oxytocin said their headache pain had been reduced by half and a further 27% reported no pain after four hours.

4.  Healthy sexual relationships promote longevity

On the subject of longevity, many scientists believe that good sex and orgasm may be linked to higher life expectancy. In 1997 British Medical Journal, there was a study published which reported that men who had at least two orgasms a week had less than half the risk of dying from various causes over 10 years of follow-up than those with a lower frequency of orgasm. Meanwhile, other studies have suggested that sexual dissatisfaction is a predictor of the onset of cardiovascular disease.

5.  Love and marriage alleviate depression

It’s quite common to hear people complain about their significant others driving them crazy on many occasions, but what most people don’t know is that companionship actually tends to be good for mental health—especially for women. This is particularly true when it comes to depression, which is roughly twice as common in women. According to experts, depression is a very female expression of psychological distress and the benefit of marriage shows up in women in lower levels of depression. Marriage also appears to be a stabilizing force in women with bipolar disorder. Married bipolar women have fewer and milder depressive episodes than their never-married counterparts, but the same trend is somehow absent in bipolar men.

6. Financial Stability and insurance

Believe it or not, married people are more financially stable than their single counterparts.  By recognizing the fact that they now form part of a partnership, couples tend to become more conscious of their expenses, savings, and the pursuit of a comprehensive insurance for their family in the future. While worrying less about money certainly helps reduce stress and anxiety, financial stability also impacts health in a more concrete way, via access to health care. Marriage is associated with a hearty increase in the likelihood of having health insurance for both parties.

So, are love, relationship, and marriage good for your health? In general, as research and studies suggest, YES. People who are in happy and fulfilling relationships tend to live longer, have better access to insurance and health care, enjoy a more satisfying and exciting sex life, experience less stress, live a healthier lifestyle, and have lower rates of serious illnesses and depression compared to their single counterparts. Now, if you happen to be in a relationship and you don’t see or feel any of these, then it’s time to evaluate the situation and work on changing the course.

Thirty Three.


There comes a time in your life when you stop thinking about your birthday and I think I ceased obsessing about mine a long time ago. In fact, my birthday is the last occasion I would look forward to with excitement – not even a speck of it. Last year, though, was different. It was romantic and special because at one point after our dinner, C got down on one knee and with tears glistening in his eyes, asked me to be his wife…and I said yes!

Before that, my birthdays have all just been a haze of billowing cigarette smoke, fun, sidestitch-inducing moments of hilarity, and fifty shades of drunkenness – but there was no singular moment that really stood out. I think, perhaps, age has a lot to do with it: this mellowing out. The wanting to just be with a few people you feel most comfortable with. People who allow you to just be.

And that’s how I celebrated my 33rd, cruising Palawan’s famous subterranean river national park (aka Palawan Underground River), named as one of the New 7 Natural Wonders of Nature early this year, with Atche Noel, Jay, and C. We had to wait for hours on end to get on the boat that would take us on a 1.2 kilometer river ride inside the cavernous cave, but it was well worth it! I told C that in a way, we’re truly blessed to have traveled to a few places together despite living miles apart and having individual careers to manage. C and I may be poles apart in a lot of ways (and I’m obviously not just talking about our complexion, accent, and passports), but if there’s one thing we both love to do, traveling would be it.

After our Underground River adventure, we wanted to see more of Puerto Princesa and so the four of us decided to go to Isla Pandan and just chill before boarding the 5:30pm flight back to Manila on Sunday. At this point, we were ever so glad that the sun actually came out after a gloomy Saturday on account of tropical depression Ferdie that submerged some parts of the country in floodwaters, so we happily sunbathed until it started drizzling again shortly after noon. I had wanted to try stand-up paddling but there were only two boards and they were unavailable at the time of my asking.

Once back in Manila, I immediately threw myself into work as there are about a million and one things to be done still before  we fly to Jakarta for our biggest annual event on September.

Palawan for my birthday wasn’t such a bad idea. I wish I were more relaxed, though, but it was quite tough because my mind was just running at top-speed, almost nonstop, thinking about work and projects still sitting on my plate. In any case, that doesn’t take away from the fact that I had great Palawan memories – Kalui’ being one of them. Food and ambience are top-notch in this famous Puerto Princesa restaurant, you’d be crazy not to pay a visit when you’re in town. Meanwhile, those looking for fun live band entertainment can opt to hie off to Tiki Bar, where incidentally I spent the eve of my birthday sipping red wine and trying to make sense of one of the showband girl’s bad singing.

So this is it. I’m 33, all-woman, and soon-to-be bride/wife to the most loving, patient, understanding, (and a few more things) man I have ever known. And oh, incidentally, with zits the size of Jupiter I would put any acne-sporting 13-year-old to shame. I’m surprised that C can still look at me adoringly and call me mon amour even with these unsightly marks on my face. This really must be love.

Happy birthday, psychogirl.:)

TOTAL FITNESS: Stand Out In A Crowd


When we were much younger, we were taught to cultivate and nurture our individuality. ‘Express yourself’ is an expression you have probably heard one too many times, and not just from Madonna. But as you go through different phases of growing up, you will find yourself trying to blend in with a certain crowd – morphing into a certain type of personality. For a moment, your sense of individuality takes a backseat – until such time when you begin to realize again just how important it is to be recognized and appreciated for who you are and what you are capable of doing.

When you can draw the attention of others positively because of your unique individuality, you can have windows of opportunities opening up to you. Whether you want to stand out from the crowd because you want others to know how special you are, you want a particular job, or you feel that doing so will help you become more confident, knowing what steps to take to achieve this goal is important.

How do you stand out in a crowd?

  1. Develop a healthy self-esteem. People who are confident about themselves and their status in life are more likely to stand out in a crowd. Keep yourself abreast with current events and feed your hunger for new discoveries – whether it be a new language, culinary skill, playing the guitar, etc – and do whatever it takes to remain confident and on top of your game.
  2. Speak your mind. Have your own opinion about things and make your opinions heard but in a polite and respectful manner. It is also important to have a solid basis for whatever opinion you voice out because nobody wants to listen to ineffectual ramblings during a discussion.
  3. Be passionate about something and be a powerful speaker. Is there a particular advocacy you support? Then make sure your community knows about it. It may also be a good idea to hone/enhance your communication skills so you are able to get your message across eloquently. But don’t let it be just lip service. Walk the talk and you are guaranteed to stand out.
  4. Show a genuine interest in those around you. Make eye contact when talking to people. Pay attention to details of conversations and mention them in later encounters. Say thank you when someone does something nice for you and make it a habit to send notes of appreciation when necessary. Making others feel special will ensure that you do not blend in with the crowd.
  5. Be your own fashion icon. While it’s tempting to copy whatever is touted by magazines and fashion gurus as trendy; it won’t help your case one bit if it’s not a reflection of your personality, character, and strengths. Don’t hold up a mirror to someone else’s personality by merely copying. Be your own fashion icon.