Dear Diary 003: I'm On A Roll! I Guess?



I'm writing this on a Sunday afternoon while Reiko is watching Minions (is that the title of the movie?), and my husband is re-painting our bedroom walls white. I have done my fair share of painting - the doors, my desk or work table, and my work chair! I finally got to recycle an old desk we have here, and cleaned up space in our little house for my home office station. 

I originally wanted to have an entire room for my home office but I thought that I wanted the room to be Reiko's room instead. That's for when the time comes he decides not to co-sleep with us anymore. LOL. For now, it's a storage room. At seven years old, Reiko still loves to sleep in our bedroom. I'm not complaining though. He's growing up too fast and before we know it, he won't be hanging out with us a lot anymore. 

My life is as productive as it can get. I still have my full-time home-based online job but last year, I was able to negotiate my work hours to 6 hours daily instead of 8. I'm always working on my niche channel, making and editing videos, doing the social media stuff, creating my business model, still writing on this blog, plus recently, I just accepted an invitation to be the chairperson of Cebu Content Creators. Uhuh? 

On top of all those things, it's back to school in a week!!! Plus I'm fixing and organizing everything in this house. You can say I have time? I don't know how I do all these. I guess planning is the key. And breathing. And thinking of my vision and my future. 

AND DID I MENTION? I reached 1000+ subscribers on YouTube just yesterday! With 26 videos and in just 5 months! It's so crazy to know that it is actually possible. I'm so happy and overwhelmed every time I receive a comment or message that my videos have helped. I'm probably doing something right. Yasss! 


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I paid all my credit card balances recently. Congrats to me and thank you. LOL. I'm also in the process of living a sustainable and minimalist lifestyle. I removed all shopping apps on my phone. I unsubscribed from all shopping newsletters. I've been watching YouTube videos about saving and investing. I vowed to stop being an impulse buyer. 

I unfollowed all celebrities and influencers who are constantly posting only material stuff and their too good to be true lifestyle. I have nothing against them, but when I see these people on my feed, I'd always wonder how they live such perfect lives, but at the back of my head, of course I know that social media is just less than 1% of their real life. I don't know where I got the 1% statistics. Haha, I just thought of it. 

Anyway, I can say that I'm not the materialistic type. Perhaps, at one point, I was a hoarder. I hoarded phone cases, books, cute notepads, notebooks, planners, Sharpies, brush pens, and art stuff. But I totally vowed not to buy again until after 5 years (?). Haha, but you get the point.

You can check my wardrobe and my closet, I can fit all my clothes and shoes in two suitcases, and go. I don't have the latest gadgets and I'm not attracted to them especially if I don't have money to buy and they're not my priorities. I settled with a middle-end kind of mobile phone and laptop that would serve their purpose. 

If you check my credit card account, you will see lots of grocery transactions, prepaid load, some more for groceries, stuff for renovating the house, and travel tickets to my hometown. I always pay attention to our expenses so I'd know if we're going overboard or not. 


But still, I think everything is not enough. I still want to cut down more of our expenses. I'm nearing 30 and I'm seriously considering getting another property and other investments. And save. Save. And travel. But only when I have money for it. LOL 

Anyway, I'm not making this entry very long because it's Sunday, and Reiko wants us to watch a movie together. So byerss for now! 


Dear Diary 002: Of Life and Death



Life is like a game. You win. You lose. You smile. You cry. You go on living every single day... until someone dies.. and you feel like the world already stopped revolving.

Up until college, I was fearless. I only thought about life in the future, as if death was non-existent... as if I was immortal. When I had my son, it was when I took a step back and realized I wasn't fearless anymore, or never really was at all.

If you ask me how I want to pass - I'd say through old age, and I mean the dying age. But who am I to choose? Who are we to choose? What if I die soon? Tonight? Or tomorrow? And what if it will really happen soon and anybody reading this after my death will surely say "her blog post was a premonition".. Yes?

But when can or should you really say what you feel? Shouldn't you be saying what you feel when you're still alive? When you're gone, your family and loved ones won't hear from you anymore. 

In college, we had a subject about speeches. We were asked to write a eulogy, then my best friend asked me if he could write one for me, and said that "at least I'd know what he really has to say to and about me while I'm still alive." 

He was right. And he did ask me that even before The Fault In Our Stars. If you've read or watched it, you would know why. 

You have to realize that it is difficult for me to write this. Because I've always avoided the topic of death. But I'm already at this point in my life when I see a family member's death happen one after the other. I'm grateful that my immediate family is still complete. But seeing and watching some relatives and friends leave the world makes me think - "what's next?" or "who's next?"

I've never had any near-death experience or anything that happened to me where I saw death flash before my eyes.. except perhaps when I was almost hit by a big truck while crossing the street back in grade school, or when I realized I was drowning in a swimming pool with my friend who also didn't know how to swim back in high school. Well wait, now that I think about it - there were probably several instances when my life was at risk but I didn't notice it. Does giving birth to a child count? 

But my point was that - it wasn't that clear to me that there was a risk. Now, almost everything I do feels like a risk. Sometimes I get paranoid, but I do my best to push the anxiety away and try to live life as best as I can. 

The real life and death situations are like these: My father managed to dodge a bullet during his student journalist days. He was also almost going to join an election campaign that led to one of the biggest massacres in the country where so many journalists were killed. He wasn't able to join the event because he had to attend my grandmother's birthday the night before and didn't make it the next day. A lot of his colleagues were killed. 

It could also be my father getting into a motorcycle accident, then had a leg surgery after. He had a rib taken from him to be moved to his leg (or at least that's how I recalled it from what my mother told me). Years after that, he got into a car accident where his car turned upside down, but he still managed to get out of the driver's seat to go home. He was fine. 

Or my younger sister undergoing two surgeries due to atrial septal defect (a hole in her heart) - one of it was an open heart surgery when she was 18. She survived it. 

Or my husband being held at gunpoint in a public utility vehicle once. Or me going home from work back then during the wee hours of the morning. 

Or poverty. Government vs rebel wars. Nuclear wars? Calamities! 

And why am I saying all these? Because when I'm alone, I'd realize that we deal with life and death situations every single day. More often than not, we never notice them. 

Every time I read or hear the news about deaths, I read quickly, then my heart goes heavy. Then I close my eyes for a while; certainly, tears drop. Then, I try to move forward with whatever I'm doing.

Surely, people die. Recently, my father's cousin died. I believe all deaths are equally painful for the family and loved ones. I'd like to put it that way. But it's a different feeling when your loved one got killed by another person, a drug addict. Like how can you say it was his time? When another person just took away his life like that. :( 

He was shot on duty, during a buy-bust operation. He was a cop. And definitely a good cop. People say (sad to say) it's part of his job and he also probably knew it was, which is why I'm forever thankful to the people who keep this country safe. He was only 27. My clear memory of him was when he was still a young child. We never really talked or saw each other because I've lived far from my hometown since college. He did add me on Facebook and that was it.

I wept for him. For his family. For his fiancee. For his friends and colleagues. For this country. Every time I see a testimonial on Facebook about him, my tears would fall. 

I wept because just late last year, I also lost an uncle (my father's brother). It was very recent! I wept because every year, every after reunion or big gathering, it seems like someone from our family is gone. It's like a curse.

I wept for anyone I know and for any stranger who passed away. 

But as they say, death happens. My father's cousin -- I'm even confused how we're connected in the family tree - even though we weren't close, he's still family, and it hurts to know you lost someone in the family.

When my husband and I went jogging one time, I told him I needed to see Reiko to kiss him first. My husband said not to bother him anymore because he was happy playing outside with playmates. Then I told him, "what if something happens to me on our way home? and this might be the last time I can kiss our son?"


So really that's what I do now. Reiko is young. I'd always tell him to be strong because I love him so much. My husband would always tell Reiko to take care of me when he dies. I always think it's too early to talk about death to Reiko. He's 7. I'm turning 30, my husband is 33. But apparently, death doesn't choose an appropriate age.

When I think of all the problems and challenges I encounter in life, I try to remind myself that everything in life and in the world is temporary. So yes, the saying "live life to the fullest" still lives on, still holds true.

Whenever my husband and I argue or have a big fight, both of us do our best to make peace as soon as we can because we never know how long we have left in this world, and we just wasted our time fighting.

This is also why I don't bother holding a grudge on people who have cheated or did something bad to me, and I'm always bothered if I think someone is mad at me so I do my best to reconcile right away.

This is why, even though flight fares are crazy expensive every time I need to go home to my hometown, I don't bother worrying about the price anymore. Because TIME is valuable. I can always earn the money, but I can never and will never be able to bring back time especially the ones spent with family and true friends.


When I die, please help me make sure that my husband, my son, and my family are fine. :) At first, thinking and writing about this creeps me out. I mean I'm talking about death and me dying. But hey, people prepare memorial lots and memorial plans so this is definitely a thing we have to prepare for. Sheesh. Also, please don't post a photo of my dead face anywhere on social media and please call out anyone who will. Pleaasseee. :)

Wow, this has been a long post. If you've reached this far - thank you. I love you all! Let's all have a happy life!



5 Tips to Getting Yourself Ready for Snowboarding


5 Tips to Getting Yourself Ready for Snowboarding

When summer fun is over, there are still more things to look forward to even if the weather is going to become bleak. Before the snow sets in, everything should be ready, your brain, your body, and your gear. The winter cold is no excuse to avoid becoming physically fit despite lesser sunlight. 

Physically challenging sports such as snowboarding will keep you on your toes even on long, cold wintry days. Engaging in winter sports can keep you active and fit even if the weather condition is less ideal for working out. Here are five tips to get yourself ready if you choose snowboarding to be your winter sport.

1.  Have a gear checklist
Before trudging down the snow, you must get all your gear ready; else this will be the main reason to keep you from being active this winter season. Meticulously check your equipment to be sure that everything is complete and in tip-top shape. Your safety and health are equally important as fulfilling the adventures of your life.

2.  Do some warm-ups
Warm-ups are necessary if you wish to engage in winter activities such as snowboarding. You should be physically ready to avoid the risk of injury. Warm-up exercises such as jumping jacks, squat jumps, and lunges will develop your stamina, increase blood flow, help lubricate your joints and activate contraction of muscles; activities which mimic what your body experiences during actual snowboarding. 

Doing some exercise before actual sports activities also stimulate the central nervous system helping you to become mentally active as well. Do these much-needed workouts to keep you on the go in the winter season.

3. Wake up early
If your body is still on summer mode which has a waking hour before noontime or with the weather so perfect for sleeping in, you should start practicing waking up a little earlier than your usual wake up time. Doing so will ensure that you will be active during the winter days because the shorter days and reduced sunlight might pull you more to bed without you knowing it. You may do it gradually, wake up an hour earlier each week until you reach your wake-up time goal.

4.  Do some skateboarding
After the warm-up exercises, you can do some skateboarding which the nearest thing to snowboarding that you can do. Having this goal helps you wake up early in the morning and helps in building strength and endurance and gives the needed confidence for the actual snowboarding activity.

5.  Reconnect with family and friends
Having winter sports activities such as snowboarding is good family bonding especially for those family members who are equally enthusiastic about snow activities. It is also the time to call up friends whom you only meet up on the slopes. Discuss the coming winter season and plan your snow activities and slopes you plan to conquer with your winter buddies.

Before snowboard season approaches, be ready mentally and physically because unlike in summer, winter season would take much of your willpower to be active. Just think of the slopes you’ll be riding with the new buddies you’ll meet along the way along with your constant winter allies, families or friends alike. 

Be active and be prepared before all the fun in the slopes begin, you know you’ll need it to last you the cold, snowy months of winter.

Stop Dreaming and Start Traveling 2 Continents at a Time


*Photo by Nathan Cowley from Pexels

It is so easy to while away your hours thinking of all the beautiful places you can visit - one day. But sometimes, ‘someday’ never comes around. Sometimes you have to take the leap and start planning for the trip of a lifetime. It might seem like you’re asking for the impossible but a well-planned trip doesn’t have to take months, in fact, it is perfectly possible to have an extraordinary trip in as little as two weeks. 

If you are looking to indulge in some cultural trips, browse endless museums, eat food that tastes sensational, and is of course as authentic as it gets, you have a (more than a) couple of options. Depending on how much of an adventure you want, think about the type of food you’d like to eat, and how long you would like your journey to be. 

Traveling is more than taking a holiday or a little break, it’s about growing as a person, finding some peace, learning, and being immersed for a short time in a culture you're not familiar with - all of which is pretty special. 

“Stuff your eyes with wonder, live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories.” – Ray Bradbury

So where should we start?

Well, we are going to play it smart here, and look at how we can fit in two continents into each trip. With a quick rundown of the food, the people and some of the reasons that it should make your list of places to go. A few things to remember, pay particular attention to some customs, many countries have strict laws and enforce them very well. 

In some countries, it’s incredibly impolite to blow your nose; in others, too much skin on display is offensive also. It is important that while you travel you respect your surroundings and the locals that live there. Try to pack as sensibly but also as lightly as possible, if you have a lot of flights or connecting trains, trams, and coaches, the last thing you want to do is be carrying a large bag around with you. 

Try to book a mix of Airbnb, hotels, and hostels - this way you will be able to maximize your budget. If you have the ability to work as you go,  (depending on how long your trip will be) then take a look at that too. 


First up:

South America & Antarctica

It might seem like a strange combination, but they are surprisingly close, and the journey between one and the other is actually very easy. If you could picture yourself taking a selfie with a penguin only a few hours after catching some sun in Buenos Aires, then this double whammy is pretty neat. 

The best time to go is that start of the year, January and February. It isn’t super cold in Antarctica at that time and is summer in Argentina. There are two options to see Antarctica - first, you can get on a smaller ship, with less than 100 people, you’ll be able to go ashore and explore a bit. If you want to see it but not be in it, then a cruise-only might be your cup of tea. Eat some authentic Empanadas, drink some Yerba Maté and soak it all in. 

Why South America?
It is a vibrant hive of color and people
Like to dance? Work yourself into a sweat with the Tango
Beaches galore. Atlantic, Pacific, Caribbean. 
There is said to be a spell that falls over those who visit (intriguing, no?)

Why Antarctica?
It is unlikely you will see anything like this before or after regarding landscape
Wildlife is a big draw for many
Ideal for avid photographers or Instagrammers
It isn’t exactly highly populated, making it very relaxing and peaceful
Unlikely to have mass visitors


There are so many other reasons to visit, but imagine a photo album with snow one moment and deep orange dusky sunsets the next. Going from wedges and a summer dress, to a winter coat and a pair of boots in the space of the space holiday. 

*Photo by Torsten Dederichs on Unsplash

Australia and Asia

This one just makes so much sense. The proximity and the length of the flights are so short it would almost be rude to visit one without the other. Plus it takes some serious air miles to land in either of these, so it’s better to make the most of it. Make sure you have checked out the costs of air passes. It just means you can fly to a few cities within Asia and Australia. 

There is a pass that covers around 50 cities, so that is probably your best bet. Proximity wise if you are looking to cut down on journey time and have more exploration time, then a rough triangle of Aus, Singapore, Indonesia, and then back to Aus will be ideal. A few things of note:

Why Australia?
The beaches are insanely good. Usually heaving with people and undeniably beautiful. 
You can go Cage Diving and see some sharks up close, and take a jumping crocodile cruise. 
Sydney Harbor
Tim Tams 
Glorious weather

Why Asia?
Due to the location, it is a melting pot of cultures and languages
The food is heavenly, and they cater well for vegans and vegetarians
Street food is a big deal, go hungry
Friendly locals 
The streets are so clean in Singapore; you might end up googling real estate Singapore

This one sounds like more than a quick one week trip, the flights alone will take up a lot of time, not to mention the time difference creeping up on you and stealing your days away. If you decide to combine these two, then you are really about to encounter a whole new culture and should try and make the most of it, and check out as many food markets and street food vendors as you can. 

*Photo by VILLY STOJANOVA from Pexels


Europe & Africa

Europe is pretty easy to travel around on its own, interrailing is a significant trend and makes the journey really easy. You can wake up eating croissants and drinking coffee on the sidewalk of Paris in the morning and go to be chowing down on Tapas in Spain. If you are ready for an adventure, then get yourself to Tarifa and hop on a ferry to Tangier. Hey, presto you’ve hopped continents. 

Try to avoid booking June-August, which is peak tourist time, and everywhere will be more expensive and packed with people. If you want the warm weather but not the people then book your adventure for September or October, the prices drop and so does the temperature - but not by much. You can finish up the rest of your travel adventure exploring the Palace of Kasbah or go shopping in the souks

The people are generally friendly, and English is a really common language, but to make your trip more comfortable, try and pick a few words in each language that you might come in to contact with.  



Why Europe?
Super rich in history and art
Incredibly easy to travel around using public transport like coaches and trains
Midnight Sun
The Northern Lights
UNESCO world heritage sites
Easy to travel around, good for budgets

Why Africa?
The different, vibrant and deep cultures to be experienced throughout Africa
The wild and diverse mix of wildlife
Many people like to book a Safari for their visit
Whale watching
The food, a mishmash of delicious curries, authentic and traditional Southern African cuisine like boerewors, or fried bean cakes for the vegans


“Travel brings power and love back into your life.” ― Rumi


BONUS:

Not everyone will be up for all of the city hopping and the packing you’ll need to do to manage two continents in one trip, but maybe you’re still looking for a few destinations that are phenomenal. So here you go:

Fiji - for nothing more than the views and the relaxation
Bora Bora - The sky at night will take your breath away, and the ocean is perfection
Victoria Falls, the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia - the most significant waterfalls in the world
Neuschwanstein - a castle in Germany that looks like it belongs in a fairytale
Iceland - for the Northern Lights
Burma - for the Buddhist temples and the surrounding landscape
Petra, Jordan. Being carved into the sides of a rock cliff potentially around 312 BC, it is a UNESCO World Heritage site and wasn’t even discovered till 1812
Machu Picchu, get your hiking boots on and head up the Peruvian mountain ridge and you’ll get to see the peak of Inca civilization. 
Venice, and you can spend days and day water-bound on gondolas, while it is the city built on water is is unlike anything else you’ve ever seen
The Taj Mahal, one of the most photographed buildings in the world, and for a good reason. It is the jewel of Muslim art in India and is a place to go to worship, but also just have your breath taken away. 


*This post is contributed by Ellie Jo for Blissful Snapshots.