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.

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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!

 

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!

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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.

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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! ♥

 

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. :)

Thirty

I turned 30 yesterday.

To be honest, it didn’t seem that much of a big deal now that I got there, not unlike how I was freaking out back when I turned 29. Maybe it was the anticipation of it that made me freak out, which proved that sometimes we really do over think things when it’s not so scary after all.

But it still felt a little bit surreal now that I’m officially in another decade of my life. I’m trying to remember if I had saved any blog post ten years ago, in 2006, when I turned 20. I was still in college, then, and if I remember correctly, I was in school, to do a project and to attend a YFC event. I remember that I wanted to be surprised, then, because I have never experienced a birthday surprise. I think I got pretty disappointed after, because I didn’t get what I wanted, and then that night, it felt like God was teaching me a very important lesson on humility.

It’s kind of hard to believe that those things happened ten years ago. That’s such a short time in the existence of the universe, but a long one in a lifetime of a person. In the past ten years, I have…

Graduated from college. Got my first job. Joined SFC. Switched jobs, twice. Disappeared from SFC, and went back. Joined a book club. Head the NaNoWriMo group. Organized conferences. Attended conferences. Lost a phone. Killed my phone with saltwater. Attended n weddings. Attended n christenings. Survived a major flood. Earned lots of money. Spent lots of money. Traveled to Davao, Subic, Camarines Sur, Quezon. Bohol, Cagayan de Oro, Puerto Prinsesa, Cebu, Coron, El Nido, Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Sur, Camarines Norte, Pangasinan, Pampanga, La Union, Baguio, Zambales, Aklan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Spain,  Switzerland, Austria, France, Guam, Thailand, Cambodia, Japan, Indonesia. Saw two Popes. Slept outside with more than a million people. Danced in the rain. Consumed lots of sweets and alcohol. Baked my heart out. Gained weight, lost weight, gained it again. Trekked to a volcano. Shared onstage at a CFC event. Taught kids how to read. Wrote several stories. Published a book. Became a sister-in-law. Became an aunt. Lost touch with friends. Made awesome new friends. Said yes. Said no. Fell in like. Got disenchanted. Fell in love. Got my heart broken. Forgave. Forgiven. Learned that I am loved all along.

I wonder what the next ten years will bring?

* * *

 

I like that my birthday comes so close to the New Year, so it feels as if I had another chance of a new year after whatever mess-ups or whatever I missed in the first two months and 16 days of the year. So I take the time to pray more and to listen harder, in case I haven’t been listening enough before.

And He never fails to tell me something, too. Last year, it was all about being a source of life. I can’t really tell if I was able to do that, save for some moments when I was the sane one during times of distress at work. The other year, it was a full life that runs over. The year before that, was about “…forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead.” (This was super fitting, by the way.)

I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make nations of you, and kings will come forth from you. I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant,to be God to you and to your descendants after you. (Genesis 17:7-8)

The word faithfulness echoed all throughout my prayer time yesterday morning. The assurance of it made me smile – it was as if God was already setting the tone of my 30th year, reminding me that just as He has been faithful in my 20’s, He’s definitely going to be faithful in my 30’s, too.

And all I needed to do was to let Him love me.

Pretty mind blowing when I think about it.

So that’s what I’m going to try to remember in this thirtieth year of existence, my fourth decade in this world and all that. I have this tendency to forget, I know, but I’m going to keep trying. I’m going to keep on praying, so I may keep remembering God’s goodness in my life, and in the life of the people around me. :)

Remember His wonders which He has done,
His marvels and the judgments uttered by His mouth. (Psalm 105:5)

Cheers to 30! :)

Blessed are the poor in spirit

The Sermon on the Mount is one of those Gospels that I tend to gloss over, because of familiarity and because let’s admit it – it’s kind of hard to understand. It sounds very nice, as well as very difficult, because some things there are not the things you’d want for yourself. Poor, mourning, persecuted. I mean, really.

It’s been a bit of a struggle at work lately, not because work is too hard or I have too many things to do. It’s just these questions of what happens next, the resistance of doing some things you were asked to do, and really, the general uncertainty if what you’re doing for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week is even worth it. I can already imagine my dad telling me, “Everyday is a Friday!”, which he started quoting to me back when I was super stressed in my previous role. Maybe it’s a millennial thing to keep on asking.

Yesterday, out of desperation and an attempt to keep my life in order after what felt like a terribly unproductive day, I heard God tell me: Consecrate your day to me, my daughter. I’m not a stranger to consecration, but I neglected to think of that: consecrating your day to Jesus. More so, consecrating your day to Jesus, through Mary.

So I prayed yesterday, and told Jesus I’ll consecrate the day to Him. And yesterday was a way better day for me, and I went home feeling happier and productive that I was able to do a lot of things. Nothing like checking off items from your to-do list, right?

I prayed the same prayer today, but at the back of my mind, I was a little doubtful. I mean, just because I consecrated the day to God doesn’t mean everything will be fine and dandy, right? I could have another terrible unproductive day.

Over breakfast, I was reading Fr. James Martin, SJ’s The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything, and I was already at the chapter about poverty. Lately, I’ve been thinking that sometimes you pause and read certain parts of a book at a certain time because you’re meant to read it at that time. (Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic had that effect on me, that’s why I haven’t finished reading it yet). As I was reading, I had this feeling that there was something in the next pages that was going to speak to me.

And they brought me back to the Sermon on the Mount. At least the part of it.

Poverty of spirit means accepting that we are powerless to change certain aspects of out lives. “We are all members of a species that is not sufficient unto itself,” [Metz] writes. “We are all creatures plagued by unending doubts and restless, unsatisfied hearts.”

Well what do you know. As I read the next pages, I felt the Holy Spirit tell me: Pay attention. And I did. I forgot that I was eating as I read the next pages, and reread them again, I can’t help but laugh, and maybe tear up a little bit at the affirmation that I was heard, and that I wasn’t really as lost as I thought I was.

Poverty of spirit does not take away joy in life. Quite the contrary. It is the gateway to joy, because it enables us to surrender to ultimate reliance on God, which leads to freedom. “Paradoxically, then, we are truly rich,” writes Fleming, “with an identity that only God can give and no one can take from us.

Reliance on God may sound like a recipe for laziness, as if you needed to do nothing on hour own. But the reality is the opposite. It is a practical stance that reminds you that you can’t do everything. Many things are not within your power to change. Some things, outside of hour control, need to be left to God. Spiritual poverty frees you from the despair that comes when you believe that you can rely only on your own efforts.

Maybe consecrating your day to Jesus through Mary isn’t about having great days. Maybe it’s just about learning how to be poor in spirit, so you can learn how to rely on God more and be free from despair.

And I could really use more of that.

* * *

Somewhat unrelated:

I meant to blog more the past few weeks, and I had drafts of posts here for Valentine’s Day and Leap Day and thoughts on turning 30 (7 days!!!), but a lot of it remain drafts because I can’t seem to find the words or the point. It’s quite possible that I’m over thinking things, so yeah. But in case the few of you who are still reading this is still reading, I’m still here! (I also opened my author site, so yay.)

On that note, I do plan to write something on my birthday. I’m thinking of what to write that day, to make it a little different, and to make this personal blogging thing a little exciting again. I found that ever since my life has calmed down, it’s like the words stopped coming, too, and I kind of don’t want that. Words are friends.

Maybe you (one of the few readers of this blog, heh!) can help? Is there any specific thing/topic/answer to a question that you want to read here? I’m far from a life expert, but I figured there must be some things I know that could help someone out there now that I’m almost 30. :D