Archive for Chris’s Blog

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

 

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.

How I did my own personal makeover

080210-jennifer-320

Once in a while I get tired of my usual appearance and think of new styles to try.  As I flip through magazines or surf TV channels, I excitedly picture the new “me.”  A new look that becomes me always fetches raves from friends and family members so that I feel good on the inside as well.  I realize that I have the ability of transforming myself physically just by thinking and wanting change. 

While I managed to carry my self well with the appropriate cosmetics, a suitable hairstyle and flattering clothes, I admit that I was deficient in the personality department and was no Miss Congeniality.  As vice president for the company’s Legal Services and Human Resources Division, I adopted a strict attitude at work.   Finding fault in everything was my forté.  An internal memo that was meant for my eyes only always left my hands with red marks and revisions as though it had gone through an editor. Because my job entailed hiring and firing, I was used to sending out memos informing people of their violations at work.  People labeled me as someone with an “insatiable desire for perfection.”  In other words, I was difficult to please and saw the bad instead of the good in anything.  You could say that being negative almost became my second nature. 

I assumed the role of company critic and hatchet man for 7 years.  By the time I left, I was complaining of constant fatigue and exhaustion when all I did was sit on my desk for 8 to 10 hours a day.  I suspected that the physical stress came from constant negativity. Worse, I hardly made any real friends during my stay because people feared my power and my sharp tongue.  I could almost hear a hundred employees heaving a sigh of relief as I announced my decision to downshift and retire from office.  But what they did not know was how sad I was to realize that I became a negative person because of my job.   Being negative did not make me rich nor did it gain me valuable friends.  Being negative deprived me of making the most out of life.  Fortunately, I decided to do something about it.

I turned away from negativity.  I avoided friends who seemed to talk for hours about every negative event of their lives.  I quickly changed topics whenever someone close to me would gripe about someone at work or at home.  I bit my tongue when I felt like lashing out at someone even as I felt that the other person deserved a piece of my mind.  Every time something warranted a negative comment, I quickly discarded the thought and searched for something nice to say. 

I made positive thinking a way of life.  I start each morning with a short prayer of thanks for a new day.  I avoid watching movies that deal with violence or anything disheartening while I gravitate towards comedy films and videos with positive themes.  I took more drastic measures in dealing with negative people.  I quickly delete negative emails and text messages.  Instead of responding to negative comments and statements, I ignore the remarks and turn my attention to something else. When conflict arises between two people who are close to me, I withdraw from the issue and refrain from taking sides.  Furthermore, I went to the extent of assessing the status of my friendships with some people who were either a source of negativity or bad influence and avoided contact with them. 

Making a conscious effort to think and stay positive has yielded results after a period of time.  Those who I could not see eye to eye with in the past gradually softened up towards me and while they did not become my best friends, they no longer speak ill of me.  I understand that my change of heart may not easily be accepted by my critics and the cynics who still believe that “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” But I do not let their doubt or suspicion about my true motives deter me from continuing my quest for becoming a positive person. While I may not be able to gain the approval of those who I may have offended before, I gained new friends in the meantime who appreciate my presence and find me a joy to be with these days.   It’s how I feel about myself that matters in the end.  And I feel great with the more positive me.

Oh, and I’m sure you’ve noticed that it’s Jennifer Hudson on the cover of Instyle Magazine here…she’s one woman I admire these days for her amazing transformation from a size 16 to a svelte 6!

My secret to good health

Two years ago, I started to suffer from chronic migraine attacks almost three times a week.  To make the throbbing pain go away, I used to pop an over-the-counter pain killer and to shut my eyes for fifteen minutes.   Ibuprofen, my pain killer’s generic name, became my best friend.  I had one with me every time I headed off for a meeting.  I kept a regular supply of ibuprofen just as I would keep stock of daily multivitamins.  I already thought of ibuprofen as some sort of maintenance medicine. 

During my annual medical check-up, my doctor asked me to undergo some tests as she suspected that my blood sugar level was high.  This really came as a shock to me because I did not have a sweet tooth nor was I overweight.  All along I thought that diabetes had something to do with consuming large amounts of sugary food and a bad diet.  I was underweight.  I avoided rice, meat, pasta and soda.  I did not want to believe that I was a candidate for diabetes. 

My visit to the doctor served as my wake-up call.  Once I got home, I started to read up on sugar and learned about low glycemic foods.  Along the way, I stumbled upon a website that not only gave food suggestions for lowering blood sugar levels but also mentioned yoga and other stress-reducing techniques for addressing health issues.  I decided to try my hand at stretching and breathing exercises simply because I abhorred sports or any strenuous physical activity. 

My stretching routine was my quiet moment when I reflected on positive events and let go of negative issues.  I adopted a breathing technique which entailed exhaling hard while telling myself, “I release you _______”  or whatever name, thing or disease produced negative feelings in me.  Within days, I started to feel lighter and more positive about myself.  After thirty days of constant practice, I realized that I had not popped a single pain killer for my migraine, nor could I remember when my last migraine episode was.  Best of all, when I finally had the guts to take my blood sugar test, I came out with a clean bill of health.  My efforts worked. 

Nowadays, I am mindful about my thoughts.  When a negative feeling or  thought creeps in, I recognize it and banish it immediately.  I resort to my regular selection of mood switchers to help me substitute bad thoughts with good ones.  On most days, listening to good music or watching feel-good movies keeps me going.  On other days, catching up with a good friend over a warm cup of coffee uplifts my mood.  While I have my trusted mood switchers to help me through the day, nothing beats the releasing technique that I have incorporated with my daily exercise.  That is the secret to my good health.

The Write Stuff

I was born to write.

As a little child, I had a special attachment to my first yellow and blue Bic ballpoint pen that my Dad gave me.
I used it first to write a short letter to God thanking Him for my new ball pen.
I hid that note behind a huge statue of the Holy Child Jesus that was dressed in white and gold.

When its ink ran out,
I cried so hard that my Dad thought someone had hurt me badly.
He quickly replaced my pen with a new one and I used it again to write a note asking God to please not let my pen go dry on me again.

As I grew older,
I developed a huge ball pen collection of every color imaginable.
I had scented ones that seemed good to eat and glittery inks that made all my classmates envious.
My favorites were the pastel colored slim Sanrio ball pens that I painstakingly saved up for with my grade school allowance.

I had my first gold Cross pen when I was 15 and had several more after that.
But I’m not particularly obsessed with expensive pens– only the ones that write well.
I used to find it hard to leave a bookstore or office supplies shop without buying a few pens—the disposable generic variety.

Some days, I like them in blue and on other days, I prefer to write in black.
Nowadays, a good disposable ball pen is my partner at work just like my yellow pad.
I may not use pens to write letters to God anymore as I communicate directly through prayers, but I use them as instruments for change–inspiring and teaching people how to change their lives in my own little way.

All Rights Reserved. 2011 -2013 MaryChristine.Me by Mary Christine Florido