Of music and breathing

I must confess. These past few months I have been struggling with the ever-changing frame of mind I constantly find myself in. Some days, I feel one thing, and then on others, I feel completely different. Then there are days when I feel such a conflict of emotions that I stare at the ceiling or at the wall and I just have to take deep breaths.

I’m not sure exactly when it all started, but I do know what triggered it. But that’s a post for another time.

Right now, I just want to share a few songs. The last time I wrote a similar post, my mood was a lot happier than how it is now. But the gist is the same.

Music keeps me going.

There’s only a few things in this world that can put back the gleam in my eyes, and music is one of them. When I strangle myself with life’s worries and the pressure to meet the world’s insurmountable standards, music helps me breathe.

Maybe some of these songs can help you breathe too.

I fall in love with this song every single time I listen to it. It reminds me that no matter how many times I fail or get lost or feel like crap, I always have a home to return to. And, I guess, in a world where loneliness and detachment are all too common, being reminded that you belong somewhere is always a blessing. I listen to this and I breathe a little better because I know I’m alright, and I’m alright because I’m not alone.

This isn’t my favorite version of the song; I like the version on their album better. But anyway, OneRepublic has always been my favorite band and it’s because of songs like this that make them my favorite band. I played this song on the morning of my graduation day, on the night I resigned from my first job and basically every time I’d feel like letting the entire day pass me by. This song doesn’t just help me breathe easier, it picks me up and pushes me to keep going.

I’ve been single for about three years now, and I’m always being told by so many people that I should start going out and looking for a guy. And to be honest, there have been days when I’d feel lonely or insecure. But for the most part, I’m alright. I am firmly holding on to my belief that the greatest love stories don’t begin with me going out and looking for someone to have that with. I really do think great love stories just unfold on their own. And listening to this song reinforces that. It also warms my heart because I know that someday I’ll be having a love story that will be worth writing a song about.

Every time I go through bouts of fear and uncertainty, I always feel so incredibly small in terms of my faith. I forget that God is bigger than me, that when compared to Him, my fears and uncertainties are absolutely petty and insignificant. This song reminds me of that. It reminds me to pause and allow God to take the weight off my chest. Because, really, He’s the only one who can.

This is the live and shortened version of the song, and the only available copy of the song on the band’s YouTube. Again, the one in the album is much better. Whenever I play this song, I close my eyes and imagine God, my family and my friends singing this to me. And it lifts me up. Because I know that amid the pressure of accomplishing the goals I set for myself and the fear of not being able to do it, I am loved by some extraordinary people.
That’s it. Some of the songs that help me breathe. Do you have any songs that help you breathe?

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Emptying my box of first love

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This is seven years worth of memories. In this box, I kept notes, letters and scribbles that were once the most important things in my life. Were.

The items in this box are from my first love, like the first Valentine’s Day card he gave to me back in 2003. Back then, First Love was just the nice boy who’d smile at me from afar. I was “kind of” with another boy who treated me like crap. On that day, I saw that boy make a Valentine’s Day card and because I was “kind of” with him, I thought the card was for me. It wasn’t. It was for a girl in another class. Before I left school and had the chance to cry my heart out on my pillow, First Love walked up to me every so shyly and handed me a red envelope. In it was a Hallmark Valentine’s Day card and on it was written a poem about how much he wanted to be my friend. It was the best Valentine’s Day I’ve ever had.

There are two #1 candles inside as well. Those are from the cake he surprised me with when we celebrated our 11th month together. There’s a reason why that cake was bought from the store and not homemade. When we celebrated the month before for our 10th, he baked a cake. He didn’t know how to bake a cake. He ran out of flour and figured that he could just put double the amount of cocoa to make up for it. The cake tasted like dirt. We spent the whole afternoon in school that day, fooling people into taking a bite and then laughing at how some would unashamedly spit it back out and how others would actually pretend to like it. When we ran out of people to fool, we finished the whole thing with the help of our friends.

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Inside the white plastic bag is the sash that was given to me when I became prom queen. Prom night fell on the same day as our first anniversary so First Love decided to do something big for me. He knew we were going to “win” because everyone knew it was our anniversary but just to be sure, he approached people and asked them to vote for us. After we were crowned, I turned to leave the stage but then he told me to sit on the chair. And then, in front of our 90 or so schoolmates, he sang She by Elvis Costello. I thanked him by punching his arm after he finished the song. I don’t react well to surprises, you see. It was the boldest thing anyone has ever done for me. And when I came home that night, I looked at the sash one last time and put it in that white plastic bag. I never held it since. It had too much glitter and I hated glitter.

The colored rolls of paper were given to me that same night, after he sang to me and after I punched him. In each paper, he wrote down a reason for why he loved me. There are 100 rolls of paper. The first one reads, “I love you because of who you are.” The last one reads, “I love you because of who we are when we’re together.”

Eventually, we stopped loving who we were when we were together. Or rather, we couldn’t love who we had become the longer we stayed together. And so we broke up.

That was three years ago.

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Yesterday, I decided to empty this box. Using my mom’s paper shredder. It wasn’t done out of anger or bitterness. We may have gone our separate ways but I will always, always wish him well the same way I know he wishes me well.

Believe it or not, it was done out of love. Love for the good five years I spent with him. I’ve decided to say goodbye to the memories of First Love this way because it’s the only way to keep what we had always just between the two of us and no one else.

And you know what? Love for myself. I did it out of love for myself. Because maybe, just maybe, the reason why I kept this box around is to remind me that I was once loved the way all girls want to be loved. And I’ve come to realize that that’s such a terrible reminder.

In the future, when love comes around and hopefully chooses to stay, I want to be loved the way I want to be loved. I want to be loved the way I deserve to be loved, the way I’m supposed to be loved… not the way I was loved in the past.

What my Summer 2016 will hopefully look like…

What my Summer 2016 will hopefully look like...

A cross-country road trip of good ol’ US of A with my favorite girls – my sisters and two of my cousins.

This is just the initial map; I’m pretty sure we’ll be adding more stops as we do more research since we’re all set on going big for this. We’ve allotted 30-45 days and we’ve already started saving up.

What do you think? Is 45 days enough? Too much? If you guys have any suggestions on places to go, attractions to see and things to do, I’d really appreciate it.

From Rio with love

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Little trinkets of big dreams

 

After months of not seeing each other, I finally got to hang out with my very good friend and wanderlust buddy, Meryl, and have what we call “deep shit” Monday where we talked about Life with a capital L.

She’s been busy these past few months with her own wanderlust adventures, her most recent one being Rio for World Youth Day. We’ve dubbed each other our wanderlust buddies even if we haven’t gone traveling together [yet] because we’re similar in our pursuit of seeing the world and experiencing everything it has to offer. We share the dream of building genuine relationships with people of different race and culture. And she’s been awesome at it.

It’s things like this and people like her that give me the push that I need whenever I lose sight of the “lifeness” of life.

When a song saves me from myself

Every now and then, I have a bad day. Granted, such days are few and far in between, but when they happen, I feel… burdened. Yes, that’s the word. Burdened.

I feel like there’s this big, heavy hand on my chest that’s trying to stop me from walking any further, and that it takes an extremely enormous amount of effort for me to even take a step forward. And this doesn’t depress me nearly as much as it tires me and weighs me down.

I had a bad day recently. I can’t even remember why anymore – that happens a lot, doesn’t it? I have a feeling it had more to do with me and less to do with what was happening around me. But I do remember feeling just okay right until I stepped into the car. You know how an angry person slams the door so hard that the glass breaks, right? It’s kind of like that except the glass didn’t break; it was the thin layer of just okay-ness that did.

It was like the car was suddenly filled with water and I was drowning. But I wasn’t struggling to breathe. I was just sitting there, waiting for the windows and the windshield to break to flush out the water. But there wasn’t even a crack.

Some twenty minutes later, I found myself in the driveway. I didn’t feel like getting out of the car – that would take effort I couldn’t seem to muster. So I sat there and stared at the wheel, still waiting for the freakin’ windows to break.

And then I realized something. The freakin’ windows weren’t going to break by themselves. So I took out my iPhone, connected it to the player and tapped play, hoping one of the songs in there to be the hammer that would cause the windows to crack.

Then this came on:

Kris Allen’s Out Alive was not that hammer. It was the wrecking ball that smashed the car to pieces, but left me unscathed and whole.

As the song played, the words that echoed in my head found its way to my heart. I felt uplifted, for some reason, by the song’s honesty and its humble dose of hope. The first thing it tells you is that you’re going to have your heart broken, but it ends with you hearing six words that can change everything: Maybe we’ll make it out alive.

And I guess, when we’re experiencing the worst of it all, that’s all we need to help us live through another day- a maybe.

In a previous post, I shared a couple of songs that made me fall in love with life even more. This isn’t one of those songs. In a way, it’s better. Because it reminded me that life is worth falling in love with in the first place.

Today’s dose of inspiration

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I mentioned in a previous post that my wanderlust buddy, Meryl, will be going to Brazil this June or July for World Youth Day. But as if that isn’t enough, she also won the opportunity to attend an international youth conference in India last April! Being the awesome human being that she is, she wrote me a letter while she was there – which arrived two, three weeks after she did. Funny stuff. 

It’s really inspiring to see someone close to me achieve her dreams. And because we share the same dream, her experiences show me that I can achieve mine as well and, more importantly, that I don’t have any excuse not to.

I’ve fallen in love with words on paper: Augusto Cury’s The Dreamseller

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It took me four months to finish reading this book; it’s probably the book that took me the longest time to read. I can give you many believable reasons why – I was busy with school, then I got busy with work – but then such things haven’t stopped me from reading other books before. Honestly, the only reason why it took me so long to finish it is that I never really got into the story. It’s as simple as that.

But no matter how much I tried and failed to get myself interested in the story, I wanted to finish the book. And it’s not because I’m the type of reader who reads one book at a time and who can’t start reading a new one without finishing the old one. I mean, I am that type of reader but that’s not the reason why I finished the book.

I wanted to keep reading the book because of the beautifully written and thought-provoking words I would come across on its pages. Really, I’ve never read a book that made me think as much and as deeply as this book had. Read these lines and you’ll understand why:

Pleasure had become as wide as an ocean but as shallow as a pond. (p.3)

Human beings hate pain but have an extreme attraction to it. (p.4)

If he thinks, he’ll understand that guilt, mistakes, disappointments and misfortune are the privileges of living. (p.9)

We’re both ignorant. The difference between us is that I recognize my ignorance. (p.13)

Mental health professionals are poets of existence, they have a grand mission. However, they can’t put a patient into a theoretical text, yet try desperately to put a theoretical text inside of a person. Don’t trap your patients between the walls of a theory, or you’ll reduce their abilities to grow. Each sickness is unique to the one who’s sick. Every sick person has a mind. And every mind is an infinite universe. (p.32)

I didn’t fear death, but I was deathly afraid of being embarassed. God, I was sicker than I thought. (p.36)

The greatest reason for staying alive is life itself. (p.37)

The fundamental purpose of dreams isn’t success but to free us from conformity. (p.41)

People lost their inhibitions to technology, and felt more comfortable dealing with machines than with other people. Not to engage others is a tolerable act, but not to engage oneself is indefensible. (p.121)

We live longer physically than in the past, but time seems to pass so much faster. The months rush by, the years fly by. Many are in the infancy of their mental development but look at themselves and discover their bodies are seventy or eighty. Nowadays, eighty-year-olds have the mentality of history’s twenty-year-olds. (p.125)

Life passes quickly in this small interval of time. To live it slowly and meaningfully is the great challenge of mortal men. (p.126)

The god constructed by man, the religious god, is merciless, intolerant, elitist and prejudiced. But the god who hides behind the scens of existence is generous. His capacity to forgive has no limits. It inspires us to carry those who frustrate us as often as necessary. (p.134)

The weak use weapons; the strong, their words. (p.143)

What a crime that what the fashion world has stereotyped as ‘beautiful’ is nothing more than a generic accident. (p.145)

What’s normal if not that which satisfies each person? Isn’t being satisfied enough? (p.150)

Stop the neurotic need to change others. No one can change anyone else. Whoever demands more of others than of himself is qualified to work in finance, but not with human beings. (p.168)

Human beings choose to live on islands when they should be on continents. And other times, they are on continents when they should be on islands. In other words, they should be sharing ideas and experiences to help everyone overcome frustrations. But we should be islands – individuals – when it comes to taste, lifestyle, art and culture. Television fast food, the fashion industry all have served to homogenize our tastes and styles. We’ve lost our sense of individuality. (p.184)

[Capitalism] produces freedom of expression and possession, but not freedom of simply being. (p.206)

What unbearable burden. What colossal pain. As I listened to him, I began to understand that all of us, however successful, we all miss out on something. The warm sun sets on us all, no one sails forever on tranquil seas. Some lose more, others less; some suffer avoidable losses, others unavoidable. Some lose in the social arena, others in the theater of the mind. And if someone manages to get through life untouched, there is still something he loses: youth. (p.229)

We had lost the joy of simply being. We were brought up to work, to grow, to progress, and unfortunately also to betray our very essence on our short time in existence. What kind of madhouse are we living in? (p.236)

Life is very, very long for making mistakes, but frighteningly short for living. (p.237)

After closing the book for the final time, I realized that what I got from it wasn’t a story that entertains – I didn’t care for the story. But I got so much more – the book gave me several opportunities to think about life, my life and how I’m living it. These lines, and probably many more that I wasn’t able to write down, are the reasons why I would recommend others to read this book. It’s not for the story, but for the lessons, for the moments when you would just have to put the book down and think.