time out!

Time out!!!
Everyday Art, 6Dec11
on my kitchen table
 iShake on iPhoto

When I was a little girl in Davao City, I remember this game we played almost everyday.  It was called ‘taya’ which means ‘it’.  It was our local version of “Tag”.  I remember running like the wild wind while my heart beat like a fiesta drum. Beads of sweat would form on the top of my lip and then pour down my red face in the humid heat.  No cares, no worries, except needing to run from the ‘taya’ whose sole purpose in life at that very moment was to tag you.  Then you were ‘it’.  I remember loving and hating this game.  For one thing, I didn’t like running much.  Two, I hated getting chased by the bigger, faster and rougher boys.  Their tags hurt noh!  I was one of the slower runners so I’d always get tagged.  So I learned to yell “Time out!  Time ooooout!” when I was either too tired or just plain annoyed.  Time outs were allowed as long as you declared it.  Sometimes the taya listened.  Sometimes they didn’t.  What mattered was I got to stop running.  I got to rest.  I was able to catch my breath. 

A few decades later and a new kind of running is going on.  Not the kind where one hits the pavement with her red Nikes but the going and going at this thing called life.  Not the endorphin high running but rather a beat-up, don’t-stop-now because there are calls to make, shopping to do, photos to edit, cleaning to finish, school meetings to attend, meals to make, blah-blah-blah…and that all too familiar to-hell-with-all-of-it feeling at the end of the day.  No stopping.  No time outs.  Not allowed.  Or so I thought.   

When did I begin thinking this way?  When did I begin forgetting that time-outs are allowed?  I don’t know exactly.  But what I know is that at a certain point in my life I just forgot.  I bought into the DIY Corp and all of it too.  I remember thinking how utterly stupid the word “relax” was when I heard Jack say it to me.  It sounded so stupid that I had to stop momentarily and give him the are-you-out-of-your-mind Cruella Deville face and barking —

“What do you mean ‘relax’?  What the heck is that?  Who has time for that?!?” I snapped at the poor guy who was only trying to help.  (Sorry, honey.  Lesson learned.)

This twisted amnesia lasted longer than it should have.  I went on like this until Life found a brilliant way to give me its brand of time out.  Too many sore throats and another run-down, flu-like symptom and I’m coughing again?  Life forced me to shut-down and shut-up.  Literally.  Instead of listen, true to Chiqui-form, I fought at the absurdity of it all.  I cursed the gods of health and wellness for abandoning me yet again.  Hated and hated some more.  It was self-directed.  On the outside I put up a brave front.  “I am supermom.  Hear me roar!”  I squeaked instead, my throat too raw and painful for anything else.

I was faced with the toughest illness of them all:  falling flat on my face out of love with myself and the whole world.  I started hating myself and with that my husband and family, my friends, my whole life.  One very smart woman confessed this: It’s when I pamper myself that I feel least selfish, righteous and plain evil.

Whatever it’s called, I’m yelling “time out!”.  I choose it for myself.  I choose it for my family and friends who deserve a whole, calm and non-evil me.

And all together now…relaaaaaaaax.  It’s allowed.  😉

My Top 10 “Just Relax” To Do’s:

1.  Coffee shop Me-Time to just write and people-watch and write some more.
2.  Bookstore browsing.  Hello, Chapters and Indigo. 
3.  Meet-up with TNKs Tunay Na Kaibigan/True=Real=Warm Friends in warm places like Spoon and Fork. 😉  (Hello, sisterhood!)
4.  Take my tiny pet camera for a walk with me and snap at anything and everything.
5.  Drive without a destination in mind and trust Intuition to guide me.  I’ve found some of the best views (and surprise visits with friends!) this way.
6.  Draw.  Sing.  Write and create art.  Just because.
7.  Call a friend.  Touch-base with the sacred agenda of supportive sharing.  I find that sisters need this.  A lot.  (Set a time, say 10-15 minutes…be guided by intuition on this one, to not let it ran overtime and it ends up with just gossip and nonsense).  
8.  Go to Walmart.  Browse about.  And maybe get a few basic items…for oneself!
9.  Brand New: Overnight Niagara Get-Aways (there’s lots on Living Deals that are oh-so-affordable!) and bond with The Man.
10.  Sit down to watch one episode…okay, two tops! of Modern Family, Two Broke Girls or X-Factor and not feel guilty about it.

***Thanks and big LOVE go to Sylvie for our Time Out session at Second Cup last night.  What a relaxing and fun evening.  I am recharged!  Let’s get more of that exquisite Butter Tart next time!  xox, Chiqui

Psssst….hey, hottie!

Can I let you in on a secret?

Ohhh…kay, it’s a secret that can be shared with other cool, creative, kindred spirits like you and I.

You ready?  It’s called The Spark Kit.


I dove into the first chapter full-on this morning.  So far I’m loving what I’m seeing…hearing…feeling.  Danielle Laporte is whitehot spot-on and aligned with my thoughts on creativity, on courage, on living more authentically.  Let’s dive into it together.

I’m a big believer of continuous learning.  Yes, there are days – many days – when I stumble and forget the lessons.  At times by circumstance, always by choice.  One of my favorite quotes from Zig Ziglar is this:  People often say that motivation doesn’t last.  Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.  Wapow!  So true. 

Learn and relearn.  Rinse and repeat.  If there’s anything my Daday taught me, it’s to be open to learning at any age.

I’ll be writing a more in-depth review in the coming days as I go along with the program.

I just love finding teachers, especially the kind that rock the mompreneurship!

See you later, sparkles!


what i’ve learned from the 100songs project

my top 3 of the first 20:

#3…because it’s filled with happy pics of my happy loves! 🙂

#2…because it proves to me that even when down in the dark pit, one can still create. 😉

#1…because i love brave and imperfect beginnings. ^_^

my top 3 learnings from the first quarter of the 100songs:

1.  Fail faster.*

I said I would do one imperfect song a day.  Then it became one every two days.  Then once a week.  Now I don’t even know how long it’s been since the last one…three weeks!  Failure in sticking with the original plan.  Used to be I’d be all mopy and discouraged.  Now I’ve learned to be more forgiving, ache a little, justify a bit and move on.  Post something, anything, in this case my very first brave video blog (eeek!) and then rinse and repeat!  The important and most sacred thing is to start, fail and begin again.  And again.

2.  Care not. 

Of course, I’m still human the last time I checked and I do care how I come across/sound/look, etc.  But sometimes, I go back to the old habit of “Perfect na ba siya?”  Of course that never happens so the stuckness syndrome returns.  This is a take on the Zen Buddhist teaching of “non-attachment”.  If it’s good today, okay!  If it isn’t, okay!  Either way, keep singing/writing/sharing/being.  And to remember my first intention always:  I do this because I love this.  Period.  And go.

3.  Put out.

I heard one of my favorite authors just say this:  “Authentic sharing is magnetic.”  Put it all out there.  Sure, we don’t need to show the cellulite-y thighs or the stretch marks in our bellies – though I know some women and men who do that and it’s all good.  I’m (re)learning about vulnerability in sharing, my ever and always life lesson…hello!   It’s the best lesson and the hardest one.  The one that opens us the most.

And always, thank YOU my dear kindred spirit, for dropping by!

Courage in Creativity,

*Thanks, Coach Julie Fleming, for this one.

happy now?

After the morning rush…

I saw it in the mirror.  Just after I closed the front door.  After I waved goodbye and threw flying kisses at them as they drove out to their day.  I saw it all – the unwashed hair indisarray, straightened by me two days ago and now looking fried; the tired, puffy face with pale skin from lack of sunshine, the six year old apron stained in a hundred places with the front pocket torn in the top right corner.

Another dream-come-true, eh?  Another Probinsiyana Makes It Abroad story, yeah? 
Away, far, far away from the pungent smells.  Away from third world strife.  Another
dream board completed, check box ticked, To-Do List xʼd.  And aaamen.

Happy now?
I hear it in the humming of the 6 ft refrigerator.  The one like Tita Ellenʼs with the water and ice dispensers.  Iʼve dreamed of having a fridge like that ever since that
summer vacation.  We were invited to my aunt’s home at the Subicʼs naval base.  I was in highschool.  It was always filled with imported strawberries and shiny Macintosh apples and oh, cream cheese!  Philadelphia Cream Cheese that we almost always never had enough of in our little island in the south.

Donʼt get me wrong.  Please know that I loved Davao City.  I still do.  I once fantasized about going back home to my pearl in the South, just at the height of my very successful career when it’s all shiny up front yet bleeding guts and gore from the just
behind the scenes.

Davao, a place of many awakenings for me.  This is where I woke up to nature, to the coconut groves.  This is where I was exposed to all kinds of music from the happiest – Mom and Dadʼs Salsa days, to the saddest Imelda Papin ditties and her tears on TV…)  This is where I woke up to art and swimming.  This is where I first fell in love with the sea.  I miss my ocean water so much, her warm embrace, her salty air, her
way of cleansing everything.

But everybody kept leaving.  Leaving for Manila.  Leaving for the U.S.  Leaving for a land of plenty.  Somewhere.  It was always somewhere.

And here I am in the Land of Somewhere.  Here I am in the great Land of Plenty – plenty of dishes to wash.  Plenty of mouths to feed their bowls of Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Kraft grilled cheese sandwiches to.  Plenty of laundry to wash and fold and sort that makes the whole house have that balikbayan-box smells.  Downy, the smell of the dream.  The smell of ʻabroadʼ.  Here.I.Am.

Happy now?

I remember sitting at the bottom of a large makeshift stage.  Front row.  Bamboo chairs in the middle of the basketball court.  I was six.  My nanny, Manang Alma right there beside me with her big, expectant smile and missing teeth.  I remember seeing singer after singer in their bright colored sundresses with bright, big flowers, always with flowers for the girls and shiny, sparkly, half unbuttoned shirts or crisp barong tagalog for the men.  They took the stage accompanied only by a singular electric guitar that was amplified way too loudly.  I remember the male and female announcers with their broken English and Visayan accents which I had.  “Isnʼt it a meera-col…thank God for a meera-col…!” was how I sang it, the Stylisticsʼs song “Miracle” which my Tita Myrna said I loved as a child.  I remember clapping wildly after each song and imagining me in my flowery dress, me…not them, up there in the center holding the microphone.

Fast-forward twenty years later and I am up there.  Up where the keg lights burn bright, where the crowds cheer the loudest and where the stream of flowers is unending.  I left a lot of flowers in my day.  There was just too many to hold.)  I am energized, ecstatic, elated beyond words.  But only while the lights blazed.  They always got turned off. Always.  With the turning off of each spot goes the feeling of flight.  The bigger the venue, the bigger the crash.  I tried to find my salvation in books, boyfriends and booze. No.  Scratch the last one.  I was too probinsiyana, too prudish for boozing then.  Too scared and righteous to even try more than one glass to find my flight of freedom.

So I quit.  I quit that life thinking I was too good for it.  Truth be told I felt it was too good for me.  I chose to not break through the sound barrier and covered my pretty made-up face with a soft quilt and lay my perfectly salon-styled head of hair on a softer pillow.  I lay down to sleep for a decade. 

Happy now?
The stiffness in my limbs are almost unbearable now.  The ache in my heart too heavy to ignore.  I am beginning to wake up again.

Again, it calls, that unnamable yet undeniable It that beckons to all of us.  Like my once three year old child asking, no, telling me at the end of her favorite story “…again, mommy, read it all again.” 

Again, like the dawning of a new day, sun rising from the East.  Always from the East.  Always day after day.  Again.  Again.  Again.

Another dream please, It whispers.
Another mountain expedition, It teases.
Another bungee jump, deep sea dive into the unknown.

You want to soar again?  Feel the flight of freedom again?  Feel the hurt of too much game again?

Are you sure about this?  

The last voice is not from It, thatʼs for sure.  The gremlins have arrived, I see.

I donʼt know, I say to myself.  Iʼm not sure.  Let me take one more look in the mirror, my mirror on the wall, just in case Iʼve missed something…a smile…a feeling…of flying…soaring again…

Happy now?


With much love and the biggest thank you hugs to my girls for the power-nudge to go ahead and share this — > Joyster, Oyingirl, Marojam and Crissy.  I love you, my sisterhood.  Creative mamas need sisters, too!