Thirty One

Years ago, whenever March would roll by, the countdown would start. Actually, sometimes, the countdown started as early as the 17th of February, when it was exactly one month to go before my day. I’d post wish lists, make plans, and start using hashtags when it became the thing – #goodbye27, #hello28, etc, etc.

It stopped this year.

Well, kind of. I still used the hashtag, but I barely thought about turning a year older until it was finally the birthday week. I was busy with work, with writing, and other things to really think about the fact I was turning a year older. Then when my birthday this year finally rolled around, what did I do?

I went to do some grown-up things by paying bills.

Maybe this is growing up? Not that I’m less thankful for my birthday passing, but it just becomes a steady, pleasant hum in the background, because I don’t have time to be all

Am I becoming less fun now? Haha.

But yeah, I turned 31 this year, and the younger me would have had a post ready a few days after the 17th. This year, I had to remind myself to do this. My 31st birthday, was, as I mentioned, spent paying bills and eating and playing with my nephew, and the rest of the weekend was full of art, friends, and family. I was exhausted, so much that I had to go for a massage on Monday to get rid of the knots that I felt formed on my back.

If you’re freaking out about getting to this age, don’t. It’s fine. Whatever you feel like you lack now, it’s just you being hard on yourself. :) You are enough, you are valued, and your age doesn’t define you. It’ll all be okay. :)

But if anyone asks, I’m just 27. :P 

I hope you guys had a splendid March. I apologize for not being here often, and I honestly still don’t know what to do with this blog now that my writing is eating a lot of time, but I’ll figure it out eventually. :)

Be Grateful

So it’s almost the end of January, and it’s only now that I’m blogging my 2017 word. Talk about late? I don’t have any excuse, except that it’s a combination of laziness, busy-ness, and part wondering if I should even keep at blogging for the nth time.

This always happens, you know?

But okay, better late than never.

So 2016 was the year of bold prayers. At the start of the year, I held onto this, in the midst of all my complaining (and believe me, I complained like crazy), prayers held me up and accompanied me in all my struggle to be still. Of course, sometime in the middle of the year, I struggled with prayer itself. Not that my prayers were ever empty, or that it felt like no one was listening to me. It just felt like I wasn’t praying bold prayers, and that was a crucial part of my word/phrase in 2016. It took me a while to hit my stride again, and by the end of the year I realized that maybe the point of praying bold prayers is not so much in me making those bold requests to the Lord but having the wisdom and the grace to notice when He answers.

Because let’s be honest: more often than not, we don’t notice those answered prayers because we don’t make ourselves aware of it.

 

Sometime early last year, when I was going through some sort of personal crisis in my day job, I had one prayer: Lord, teach me to be grateful. It was so hard to be grateful when all you want to do is complain, when everything feels so unfair, when you want to quit (but can’t, for some reason). It’s hard to be thankful when you have to do something uncomfortable, something you didn’t choose to happen to you, or when everything at work, in your life and in the world feels like a never ending source of stress.

And yet, we are called to be grateful.

So there’s my word/phrase: 2017 is the year to be grateful.

Gratitude is a word that has made made its way into my life in the past years, but I never really paid much attention to it. It felt like an extension, an effect of whatever word I chose, but now this year I want to live that word. In my year of bold prayers, I discovered that gratitude is the one integral part that is often overlooked. And now after 5 years of choosing a word for my year, it feels just right to give gratitude the attention it deserves. Gratitude deepens the faith, brings you joy, requires your courage, and opens you to love

Here’s to a grateful year ahead. ❤

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” – Colossians 3:17

16 Things for 2016

Right before I went on holiday break, I was trying to think of a year-ender post and realized that I actually had enough to write 16 things for this year. Maybe I was a little bit lazy in 2015, or maybe 2016 was just chock full of stuff, both good and bad but I need this little reminder to keep myself grateful for the following year.

But let me be all cliche for a while: I can’t believe it’s almost 2017.

So let’s start – some 16 things for 2016.

1. 2015 started with an intense longing to leave and maybe, quit. Haha, okay, so maybe this isn’t so positive? But there were several things that I wanted to end at the start of the year, partly for cleaning up, and partly because the environment wasn’t so healthy anymore. Without really going to detail, I did manage this — with some actual cleaning up and letting go, and with some decisions to stay. It’s funny when I look back on it now, but I realized that yes, decisions to leave or stay shouldn’t be done when you’re emotional.

2. Singapore! First SFC International Conference in an international setting. My first out of the country trip for the year, and also quite adventurous because of our airport shenanigans on our way back. Was terribly sick this time, though, but it was a good trip nonetheless.

Weee excited for tonight! #SFCUnstoppable #iamSFC

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Then I went to Singapore again later in the year for a business trip. My first out of the country business trip was very productive, and made me feel quite…mature? It was fun!

See that chili crab? I couldn't eat that crab, huhu. But yay, lovely dinner with the Ascender Global Marketing team 🦀🔶

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3. I turned 30. Funny how I was more scared of turning 30 when I turned 29 than when I actually turned 30. I turned 30 quietly, with my family, in a comfortable bed with wine and cheese on the side. If you’re almost at this age and you’re freaking out — don’t. It’s actually quite nice. :)

 

4. Switchfoot x 3. My third Switchfoot concert! I will never get tired of watching them live. :)

 

5. #AprilFeelsDay + #FeelsRushInHow do I describe this? Oh, I already did. This is a happy day in the middle of a hot summer and pre-election madness in the Philippines. Kilig is the answer. :P

 

A few months later, we had #FeelsRushIn, organized in 10 days by the awesome girls (wasn’t hands on with it so much because of school). It was just as fun, discovering new talents and observing the crowd and all that. A preview of what’s to come? :D

 

6. Speaking of elections…talk about toxic? Still toxic now, but the bright spot was always #romanceclass and how we all managed to find the kilig in everything, despite the madness. Like that fic we wrote because of a picture and a ship we formed. The fic remains unfinished, because we couldn’t take reality. Sort of. :P

 

7. Finished school! I started a Certified Digital Marketing Course in 2015, and finished it this year! I took up Social Media Marketing in April which I enjoyed immensely (and learned that I have been underestimating social media marketing a bit) and took the final Marketing 360 course in July. Both of my defenses were on the day before Feels Days, haha. But I am now certified, so yay. Studying is fun!

Kristina Ana Matanguihan, CDM 🎉🎉🎉 🍾

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8. Lost a dear friend. This year was also the year that I faced grief from losing a dear friend to death. It’s surprising and sad and I still miss him terribly, but I am glad that I had good memories shared with him. Thanks for everything, Chief.

The last time we saw each other was the first time I found out about your writer life. You told me you were a UP National Writers Workshop fellow and I was so surprised – in the 5 years I have known you, why didn't I know this? Haha. And then you asked me about my next book and I told you that it was almost done. Then I apologized because your name was supposed to have a cameo in a scene but I took it out. "Manginginom sa kanto kasi si Kuya Erick sa kwento," I explained. "Kaso parang di bagay sa pangalan mo. So next time na lang." You just laughed and said it was okay. Little did I know that it was the last time I would ever see you. And when you left, I almost thought of putting that scene back, if only to remember you, but I realized that you deserved to be in a better spot, where people who know you will have no problem knowing that it's you. After all, we did meet at the WYD that was all about standing firm in the Faith, so it seemed right that this book about faith will be dedicated to you. :) Around this time five years ago was the time you asked me about my prayer intentions for the WYD vigil and it would be one of the things that sparked that fire that brought me back to SFC. It's been lonely without your bright soul here, but it's not so dark what with the many tiny fires that you have sparked in all the people that you have met and loved. :) And it's comforting to recognize you in them. 🔥 Will always miss you, Chief. Estad firmes en la fe. 😇❤️

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9. Published books 1.5, 2, and 2.5. After a book and writing that is 2015, I made up for it this year! I finished and published It’s a Match last May, Keep the Faith last July, and Five Minutes Till Midnight, part of Make My Wish Come True in December. It was a challenge to keep pushing words out because I still face a ton of self-doubt but the accomplishment of seeing it out and having them read is satisfying. So yes, I’m still here, still writing and not going anywhere. :)

 

Special mention to the Christmas anthology because I organized this, and like I said, it was fun because it wasn’t so hard to organize it with a bunch of talented writers. :) ♥

 

10. So much theater. I think it was in 2008 to 2010 that I thought I was a theater person because I watched some shows but those years were lightweights compared to 2016. I was in the theater 10 times this year: 3 Stars and Sun, Godspell, Rak of Aegis x 3, Love/Sick, Ako si Josephine, The Tempest Reimagined x 2, and Mabining Mandirigma. I credit these theater experience with #romanceclass, especially Tara, who kept on organizing feels trips so we could support our friends. Definitely going to more shows next year. :)

 

11. Romance Lectures. Learning doesn’t have to be boring, and kilig is always the answers. I wasn’t able to attend the previous #romanceclass discussions in 2015 because I had other commitments, but this year we changed it up to  being paid lectures. We did 2, but that was because the second one was kind of the peak? Haha. Not complaining, because hey, I never thought I’d meet Atom Araullo in the flesh until #romanceclass came along. ;) (I already met Champ through a friend years ago, but I only discovered his LI factor during the rockstar lecture. :D)

 

12. Conference Sharing, Part 2. I was blessed to go onstage to share at the TEACH Expo in 2014, so when the opportunity came again this year for the SFC Metro Manila Regional Conference, I said yes. And man, what a journey it was to write my sharing, polish it, and then deliver it. It was my sort of coming out to SFC Metro Manila about my writing. :)

 

13. #romanceclass x Manila International Book Fair. Talk about dream come true. Every time we were asked if we’ll ever have a booth in MIBF, we always say no because it was too expensive. But BDAP generously offered us a booth, and we took it and it blew us all away. I wasn’t there for the first few days but news of our books getting sold out was crazy thrilling, but it was even more crazy when I got there on the weekend. Probably the first MIBF I attended that I didn’t get to buy books, but the most memorable of all MIBFs I have attended. Thanks to everyone who bought my books! ♥

Thank you, friends, for dropping by and hanging out! 💖 #MIBF2016 #romanceclass

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14. New stuff at work. So the earlier part of the year had me struggling for things at work, which was a usual struggle of staying or going. I held on to opportunities to be poor in spirit, and held on to God’s work, no matter how slow it can be. Later in the year, so many things changed at work that left us breathless, but has introduced me to more doors than I can count? Really getting by with God’s grace, and still getting by with that in the coming year. :)

 

15. FeelsFest All Feels days are specials, and this one was extra special because we had a lot of time (well, a month hehe) to prepare for it, plus there were so many feelings this day! And new books! And other things! I posted a longer recap here, but my favorite part would be having my favorite scene in Keep the Faith read by Gio and Gab. ♥ ♥ ♥

 

 

16. Lots of family time. I had a lot of out of town (read: Tagaytay) vacations with my family this year, and it’s always extra fun with my nephew around. This Christmas, I was all set to celebrate with them via Facetime, but God was gracious and gave us time to be physically together for the holidays until the year ends. :)

 

2016 has had a bad rep, and in fact, I’m nursing an allergy attack right now so it’s really a hassle. But it’s so easy to focus on the bad and make us feel bad when in fact, there were good things that happened this year if we just care to look, and if choose to be thankful. Despite all the darkness, despite all the craziness in this world, let’s not forget: gratitude is always an option. :)

See you in a bit, 2017. :)