Butterflies

I lost my father to cancer not too long ago.

Unknown to many, he was the reason I uprooted myself and my small family and moved back home last year. Dad and I initially talked of trying alternative remedies to treat his illness and I thought it best to take care of him in his final years.

He never made it back home alive.

And we never got the chance to try natural or alternative forms of treatment that we both had planned.

Dad passed away in the United States– far away from where I moved to be with him.

It took months before Dad finally lost his cancer battle and in the meantime, I worked in his law firm assuming some of the cases he had left behind.

Death not only took away my precious and most-loved father– it also took away a group of people who I believed were family and a job that partly sustained my children.

Estate“, “heirs“, “properties“, and “sue” were used frequently even before my father’s funeral.

But uglier than impatience were the schemes hatched even before a tombstone could mark Dad’s fresh grave. To be told by my own mother that my Dad never wanted me here… To be called an ‘ingrate‘ in front of others only because I stood my ground in the face of greed… To be called a ‘traitor’ when I refused to disobey Dad’s final instructions…

All I have now are not money or properties inherited from Dad– with the number of children Dad left behind, I stand to gain what may be considered ‘loose change’ to some. Instead of tangible things, I carefully guard text messages from Dad that I have saved all these years– messages that remind me to pray always and remain strong.

Now, you must be wondering why this post is entitled ‘Butterflies’…here’s why.

On the day I was removed from Dad’s office, I went home and retreated into my room, silently weeping over the combined pain of losing a father, people who I regarded as family, and the only legacy that Dad left behind. Like a little lost child, I called out to Dad: I always wish you were here, Dad. But the thought that you are in a better place now consoles me. 

As I dried my tears and blew my nose, a large brown butterfly flew into my room, hovered around my shoulders and settled on the wall directly above my head. Instantly, I thought of Dad. It was the 32nd day after his death. People say the spirit of the dead move on to the next realm after the 40th day since their passing. Whether or not this is true, that butterfly visit and the subsequent butterfly visits will always remain in my heart and mind.  Until we meet again, Dad.

 

Yes, Yes, Yes

Again, my apologies for the long silence here.

The previous year was a major overhaul– uprooting my mini family and settling down into a beautiful city down south, juggling family responsibilities across continents, and keeping up with work obligations just made posting photos in my social media accounts (instead of blogging) irresistible.

Yes– I faced major challenges.  2014 was a bully. But if I’m still here blogging about it, then I’ve already won against it.

My move shook my relationships– long-standing friendships that spanned decades, ambiguous relationships with mostly emotionally-absent men, and budding friendships that could have been more.

Yes– I said my goodbyes and promised to keep in touch with everyone. But distance, new faces, new places, and new routines have gradually reshaped those relationships into online conversations usually happening on Viber, Messenger, and Skype. (save for a few who took the time to see me in the new city that I moved into)

Is there anything new that I can share with you here?

YES– there is.

I admit– some people have come and gone in my life these past 11 months. That kind of turnover could make anyone an emotional wreck or become a battle-tested relationship warrior. So, I chose to be the latter.

How to deal?

If you’re in a toxic relationship, or are struggling in a relationship beyond it’s Sell Before date, then let me end by sharing this : “At some point, you have to let go, accept things as they are, see him/her for what he/she is, opt out of the crap, and be good to yourself.”

Love and Light. — Mary Christine

Christine Florido

The Power of the Pen

I experienced my first triumph as a lawyer at 23.

I was what lawyers call “under-bar” or a law graduate practising while waiting for the bar results.

It was a criminal case entitled, “PP vs. Rhodora Sulit”. The accused was found guilty of possession of drugs and drug pushing at the trial court. On automatic review at the Supreme Court, Ms. Sulit’s case was assigned to a senior partner at the law firm where I worked as a mere associate, as her counsel de oficio. Expectedly, the appointed partner was not enthusiastic about it. Under-bar associates do the dirty jobs and most of the legwork at big firms. As one such associate, I carefully studied her case and dutifully prepared the Petition for Review. The senior partner signed copies of the pleadings and submitted them without taking a second look at the papers I authored. I guess that lawyer expected to lose the appeal, and couldn’t care less since the accused was not a paying client, nor was she someone who anyone at the firm knew personally.

Many weeks after, and a couple of projects in the meantime, we received an envelope containing a decision that simply said the lower court’s decision was REVERSED. The accused was acquitted. The senior partners of the firm shook their heads in disbelief. They admitted that they never bothered with the appeal because the findings of the lower court seemed to be airtight. Some thought it was sheer luck, while I pleasantly discovered the power of the written word. Although I drifted out of litigation work (something my father or grandfather may not have wanted for me), I eventually found my place in contracts, documents and anything that involved pushing pen on paper. Maybe I am best read than seen or heard. (Or how I appear can be a distraction from my role as lawyer hahaha) While most of us can talk, not everyone can write. And so my journey into writing continues.  If used properly, it can change lives– such is the power of the pen.

Lessons my Father Taught Me

There are only four men in my life: my Dad, my two sons, and Mr. Snuffalufagus.
And I love them all.

My Dad is my (as well as all his clients’) ultimate “go-to” person in times of trouble.
Going to him for direction and enlightenment reminds me of the proverbial trek, in hope for an audience with the Wise One. (Think: Yoda and the Wizard of Oz).
From Dad, one may get the most practical answers
or the most difficult lessons in life.

A situation that usually stands out among family members involves sibling relationships.
In a family of more than one child ( in my case, we are ten children), it is impossible to expect parents to pour out “equal” affection upon all their children.
One may love all his children, but one or some may occupy a softer spot in a parent’s heart.
As children, we assume that the ones who bring home the accolades from school or contests are the ones who are looked upon with favor.
After all, weren’t we disciplined at a young age using the simple concepts of reward and punishment?
As good children, we strive to be pleasing always to our parents’ eyes.

Only a disturbed child would use ill behavior to call attention to himself

But what happens when the balance of favor is tilted towards the more problematic sibling or the not-so-white-sheep (help! I’m trying to be politically correct here) of the family ?

More often than not, we roll our eyes while watching these animals, rather, sheep, being smothered with exaggerated attention and excessive material support. And while the solicitous parent is at it, the good ones are temporarily forgotten, sometimes taken for granted. Sniff-sniff.


In protest, the good child seeks the counsel of the Wise One.
In answer, the Wise One gently reminds the good child of the Parable of the Lost Sheep, where the shepherd who loses one out of the one hundred sheep he has, leaves behind the 99 good ones in order to seek out the one lost sheep. To my mind, more apropos would be the Parable of the Prodigal Son, where the father rejoices and celebrates over the return of the squanderer while temporarily forgetting the faithful and obedient son. (See also the Parable of the Lost Coin).

While we were students, we glossed over lessons which we heard often in school. Most of the time, we simply learned them by rote in order to pass or ace theology exams.

How we now struggle with applying them in our daily lives reminds us of why they are called lessons in the first place:

We may not always like them but we need to learn them

 

Fastest Learning Technique : S.A.P.

The ability to grasp lessons quickly is an indispensable skill both in business and life, in general.  With loads of information available on the Internet, the best information products or resources are those that maximize learning in the shortest time.   Here’s what some experts recommend

Fastest way to learn

Memory experts maintain that the fastest way to learn is not by following a step by step guide, but by using the Scan-Absorb-Process (SAP) technique.

Scan

The learning process often starts by scanning a training product or resource, in search of key points that answer your most pressing issues or solve a problem.   When you scan, you go straight to the portion which relates to your needs.

This technique, however, works well only with specific types of content. What you’re looking for are articles or books that use:

  • bulleted or numbered lists
  • subheadings
  • table of contents
  • bold letters, italics and other special font styles
  • structured paragraphs with thesis and concluding sentences

Absorb

Absorbing content must accompany scanning for optimum learning.  You can do this by taking down notes verbatim or by rephrasing lessons and ideas. You can also make an outline or draw a mindmap as you scan to aid absorption. 

Process

A great way to process what you’ve just learned is by trying out the method or technique immediately.  In learning, experience is still the best teacher.  This is why experts encourage students to do practical exercises immediately after scanning a new lesson. This not only drives home the point but helps test the principles taught.  

Kinesthetic movement while learning promotes optimum education. So, read a book while on a stationary bike or  listen to an audio lesson while taking a walk. 

While learning new skills ordinarily takes time, you can reduce the learning curve by applying the Scan-Absorb-Process technique.  Experts maintain that children can also be taught this technique for better performance in school.

Why Most People Fail At Meeting Their Goals

There once was a thirsty crow that came across a pitcher with very little water left in it.   Alas, might as he tried, he could not reach the water at the bottom of the pitcher.  A wonderful idea struck the crow and he set out to drop a small pebble one by one into the pitcher until the water at the bottom rose up to the brim.  By dropping little stones into the pitcher, the thirsty crow got what he wanted and saved his life.

                             Moral of the story  :  Little by little does the trick.

This was one of my favorite stories from Aesop’s Fables.  It may have been written once upon a time but the simple lesson still holds true more than ever today.

Setting a big goal can overwhelm you with the amount of work, time, energy and resources required to achieve it. As time passes, frustration may set in and eventually lead to the abandonment of that goal. 

Set smaller goals first:  Successful people share one thing in common—the superior ability to define their goals and break them up into small bite-sized portions that are easily achieved.  To illustrate, if you need to lose 50 pounds, the kind of exercise you need to do everyday and the amount of food you need to cut down can seem like a tall order.  Easier said than done!

How it works:    The better and realistic approach is to set a short term goal that is achievable, say losing 5 pounds in fourteen days.    Ordinarily, a diet that is 500 calories less than your usual daily intake and at least 20 minutes of cardiovascular activity 3 to 4 times a week will let you drop that kind of weight in 2 weeks. Once you experience the short term results, you are motivated and encouraged to go for the next 5 to 10 pounds in the next week or so until your body starts to lose weight much faster with a consistent workout, improved metabolism and healthier diet. 

Applied to financial problems:     The same holds true for financial goals.  Setting aside small amounts of money every month from your regular paycheck and putting it into an investment fund will one day grow into a comfortable nest egg for your retirement years. 

Example – Get rid of credit card debt:  Getting rid of credit card debt also responds to this approach.  Start with the debt with the highest interest rate, settle it first so that you reduce your interest expenses and have extra cash the next month for paying off another debt with the next higher interest cost. I’ve seen ordinary folks deal with similar problems and who are now credit-free after a few years. 

 It can happen. It only takes discipline, patience and perseverance.  Determine your ultimate goal and break it up into small parts.  Little by little does the trick!

How to Deal with Challenges

Educators teach with chalk and books, life teaches through adversity and challenges.” – Pat Mesiti

Life occasionally throws us curved balls and lemons.  Without inner strength, these moments can be scary and depressing.  Even the most successful people go through severe challenges but the difference lies in how they hurdled these and survived.

Pat Mesiti  was on top of his game when a series of crises rocked his life. In a blink of an eye, he lost everything that he had– marriage and well-paying career. Today, however, Pat Mesiti is back on his feet, better and wiser than before, taking on the path of guiding others who struggle with personal challenges.  

Life lesson No. 1 : Pain brings growth

The pain you experience while at your lowest can be the seed for growth. Just like Pat Mesiti, it was when I was at my lowest that I developed my inner strength.  Problems can bring out the best or worst in people. With the right mindset, it is possible to use this struggle to rise above your challenges and soar even higher than before.

Without life’s challenges, people tend to develop complacency. Painful experience forces them to change. No pain, no progress.  

How to deal with challenges

Attack the problem, not the people.

A serious problem can cause a lot of stress and overwhelm, often leading you to take out your frustrations and disappointment on others. Bear in mind, however, that in times of trouble, your best allies are those who stick around and support you.  Instead, pour your pent up energy on exploring  solutions to your problem.  

Gather all the information you need. 

Every problem has a solution.  And this involves learning all there is to know about a problem.  This applies to many aspects of life. For instance, a doctor will only prescribe the appropriate medication after a thorough patient examination, asking the right questions and analyzing results of physical and laboratory tests.  By going to the heart of the problem, you are able to devise a plan of action.    

List possible options. 

Writing down possible solutions allows you to process each option objectively.  The appropriate solution will soon emerge after weighing the pros and cons of each option.  

Look at the positive aspect of your problem. 

Focusing on the negative aspect of your problem will only increase feelings of helplessness.  On the other hand, looking at the positive side eases the emotional aspect. Learn to look for the brighter side of every problem.    

Challenges add meaning and purpose to life.  They teach you how to appreciate the good things that come and to count your blessings more.  While pain and difficulty may accompany every problem, a positive mindset and fighting spirit will help you get over the hump and emerge much stronger than ever.

Save A Relationship by Unattachment

“The challenge of life is to appreciate everything and attach yourself to nothing.”– Andrew Matthews in Follow Your Heart

Relationships are all about connections and attachments. We say we are “attached” when referring to the presence of a significant other. 

Attachments signify value. It can be material or emotional.  You know someone is attached to personal possessions when he or she tends to accumulate useless vintage items for “sentimental” reasons. 

Life, however, is about filling and emptying– winning and losing, holding and leaving, hellos and goodbyes, beginnings and endings.

We lose friends or loved ones, things or cherished possessions.  In every case of attachment, the sense of loss is just as great as the sense of attachment.  

I am a seasoned “loser”, having lost a few times in relationships and in friendships.  I’ve also lost valuable things, particularly a cellphone, and the experience taught me a huge lesson in letting go.  

I lost my cellphone a few years back while on a night out with friends. It happened so fast and in a blink of an eye, I didn’t just lose an expensive item, but also 2 gigabytes of important data that I failed to back up on my laptop.  Depressing since memories are often anchored in images.

On the emotional front, I’m a veteran of broken relationships and friendships. And for me, the pain of breaking up with a best friend is just as unpleasant as parting ways with a boyfriend.

But I learned not to focus too much on my losses.  I turn my attention instead on the aftermath, minding my feelings and working on healing them in order to move on. 

Sure, I cried buckets at every loss but I made it a point to get up as soon as I  dried my tears.  Some people may mistake the relatively quick turnover for being “callous” or “stone-hearted”.  Others presume I move on easily because of “closure”. 

The problem with closure is this: its popular notion presumes that two ex friends or lovers manage to talk things over and say goodbye peacefully.  Not always, I say.  But that doesn’t mean one can never have closure in relationships with bad endings.  I refuse to allow my personal happiness to be dependent on the whims of another, especially that of a bitter one. 

There are ex friends who simply turn cold.  Instead of spending energies figuring out such frenemies, I let them be.   Having found peace in spite of the lack of proper goodbyes, I now know that closure entails self detachment from someone close or something valuable.  While mutuality is essential in  relationship, it can also end unilaterally through unattachment.  Don’t fret for long, though.  Just think:  It was good while it lasted.     Now, on to the next!

From experience, I learned as well that it is best to be unattached at the start of something new.  In that scenario, you savor every moment of the present while understanding that it may one day be lost. Hope for the best, and not expect the best.   

Unattachment, not detachment, also allows space between people– the kind of space that makes living things grow on their own.  In this sense, letting go a little may spell the difference between losing and having.  Just like sand, when you hold on too tightly to a relationship, the more it slips away.

So how do I feel now about my stolen mobile phone? After replacing it immediately with a sleeker and more advanced model, I managed to find joy after its loss. But to the one who got my phone: May a thousand fleas infest your armpits. Ha ha ha.

Thoughts About On and Off Relationships

Relationships are like roads.  A relationship can be generally smooth but it isn’t free of the occasional bumps on the road.  

Once in a while, you and your partner will experience problems that will rock your commitment to one another.  If your commitment to stay together is strong, then you can overcome the crisis together. 

But not all relationships are as lucky.  Some go through repetitive cycles of breaking up and making up.  If you find yourself in an on and off relationship, peace of mind escapes you as a consequence of instability. 

You will always have the feeling that the next break-up could happen any time.  Instead of just going through the motions of a love-hate pattern, you may want to look into what’s really preventing you from staying together or from leaving one another altogether.                    

Fear of Commitment :  One or both of you may be frightened by the thought of a long term relationship.  While you both enjoy each other’s company, the one who is afraid of settling down worries about missing out on some things.  Sometimes, you may fear commitment if you have experienced getting hurt by someone in a previous relationship.  Serious relationships in the past that have gone sour can leave one feeling skeptical about the future of a current relationship. 

If you are constantly plagued by questions of what if, then you need to talk things over with one another. Only a strong commitment to work things out can keep you from breaking up at the slightest doubt or provocation.  Because a fear of commitment is personal to you, you will have to overcome it someday or brace yourself for an emotional rollercoaster ride for the rest of your life.    

Hard Habit to Break:   On the other hand, there are those that leave a relationship for the right reasons but somehow find their ways back to one another, not due to a genuine love for one another, but because of the fear of stepping out of a comfort zone that the old relationship has created. 

In long relationships, certain routines have usually been established and when you break away from it, you find yourself missing those familiar routines rather than the person you were with.  If this is your only reason for getting back every time, you may never have a stable relationship at all, as the same conflict that brought you apart before may arise occasionally to split you up again.  You can do one of two things:  settle for an unstable relationship or break the destructive pattern you have gotten used to.      

While it is true that a relationship can become stronger from the experience of hurdling serious obstacles together, the constant cycle of breaking up and making up may an indication of more serious issues that need to be addressed. 

Take the time to reflect on those issues and determine for yourself if you can still work it out or if it really is high time to find someone you can build a stable relationship with. 

Whatever it is you decide to do, aim for stability.  

Does Love Deserve A Second Chance? What to do when he comes back for you

Boyfriends may come and go, but once you have loved someone, he will always have a special place in your heart. 

 Sometimes, it takes a little separation for your ex to realize that you actually mean a lot to him.  He may start to send you signs of wanting to reconcile with you.  He may embark on a mission to restore your old relationship or to start all over again with you.  You consider the idea of getting back. 

 It is easy to fall in love again with someone who shared a special history with you.  The break from the relationship may have managed to erase some of the negative feelings between you and your ex.  And you wonder if both of you deserve another shot at a relationship.  

It’s nice to know that he still thinks of you and is wooing you all over again. Back when you first started your relationship, you used your heart in making that decision because you didn’t know him then as well as you know him now.  The circumstances now are different.  Take time out to reflect on the relationship that died.  Consider the following first:

  • There is a reason why you are no longer with him today.  If the cause of your break-up was serious enough to separate you from him, then it is possible that reconciliation may be short-lived or temporary. 
  • True reconciliation is possible only when both of you decide to change.  You can’t expect your relationship to run more smoothly than before if you both still make the same mistakes. 
  • A strong commitment is always essential in a relationship.  Without a firm resolution to stay and work things out, your relationship with him will break at the slightest provocation because you do not have the desire to stay. 
  • Some people can get past an infidelity.   It is still possible for the two of you to have a loving relationship after one or both of you was caught cheating on the other.  To move beyond a partner’s betrayal, one has to work hard at regaining that trust while the other should be open to trusting the erring partner again. 
  • Haste makes waste.  There’s no need to rush into a second relationship with him if you still need more time to convince yourself about its merits.  You’ve made some mistakes before; take care to avoid them this time.  There’s no telling what a second break-up can do to your lives. 

 Some relationships are just so broken that reconciliation is out of the question.  Others are lucky to be able to use their past as a learning experience for them to become stronger as a couple. If you truly believe that he deserves a second chance, then go for it. 

As the old adage goes,

 “If you love someone set him free. If he comes back to you, then it was meant to be.”

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