Get Your Hands Dirty

I’ve been thinking about hard work lately.

I remember one time, when I was preparing for a sort of date, I complained to a friend about how it was so hard to make an effort sometimes. Like, at one point, you kind of just don’t want to exert that much, and shouldn’t this thing be easy? Shouldn’t it just fall into your lap when you’re not looking?

But relationships and love are complicated, so let’s talk about something more tangible, and easier to measure. Like, losing weight. My workout schedule has been erratic ever since 2015 rolled around, and I would rather catch up on sleep or eat or do something else than spend an hour in the gym. Until my female colleagues signed up for Curves, the all-female gym near the office, and invited me to join them. I tried it out, and signed up, because it’s cheaper and it’s more intense than what I’m doing now. Of course, as soon as I started, I expected that I will shed pounds like that, completely forgetting that when I first lost weight, it took me lots of muscle pains, sweat, discipline and hard work to lose all that I lost in nine months. I suppose I assumed that just because I did it before, it should happen the same way again, but obviously, it’s not.

Or, school. I started taking a certification course for Digital Marketing last August. Since it’s my first time to study and work at the same time, it wasn’t as easy to get my study habits back. I always remind myself that I won’t learn if I don’t put in the necessary hours to actually learn the things. It could be spending an entire Saturday in a classroom, missing some other things in the process. Staying a few more hours after work to attend a webinar. Allotting extra hours to go through the course material, and working on the assignment ahead of time. I often said when I started studying again that I thought I could go by just swimmingly and not put too much effort into things, like how I did some things in college (heh), but the first assignment totally took me by surprise and I realized that I can’t just wing this thing. I need to put in the work.

How about writing? Like I said last time, I’ve been stuck in a certain part of book #2 for a long time now, and it’s frustrating because I know what’s going to happen, but the feelings just weren’t there. It’s like I’m writing robots instead of characters with stories and feelings. And then I see some people who are coming out with books and I feel like they’re churning words like machines while I just keep on writing and rewriting the scenes that I was stuck in. Then there were so many things happening to other author friends and it’s all exciting, and then I’ll think: when will that happen to me, too?

And then, I remember that as with everything in life, writing and putting out books still requires hard work. From writing the first draft to the revising and editing, to sending it to the world and then thinking of ways to get people to notice your book and read it and talk about it. There’s no overnight success in this, and venturing into all of this meant I have to do the dirty work. It may look effortless to some (as I have sometimes fooled myself into thinking), but there were many things that happened behind the scenes for the show to look flawless.

So yes, hard work. I have to remind this to myself – especially recently – that nothing worth having ever comes easy. I forget this easily, because I have allowed myself to believe that I deserve things simply because I want them, and not because I worked hard for them.

I want to make a promise to myself this time, for the sake of all the things that I still want to accomplish before 2015 ends (and beyond) to never neglect hard work. I want to remember, and learn – and maybe sometimes even force myself – to sit down in front of my computer to write, to open my course notes to study, or to take those steps to the gym, because I believe that the things I want to accomplish is worth rolling up my sleeves and getting my hands dirty. They should be, because if they’re not, then why am I even wasting my time reaching for them?

Let me end this post with wise words from HB:

All good things come tangled up with sacrifice of time and space and resources. You have to go out on a limb. You have to trust in the things bigger than yourself. Not everyone is going to understand your discipline but it’s going to be necessary for the race ahead. Stay focused. Keep your eyes forward.

(Image source: Desktop Sketching, Eric Heupel, Flickr)

Remain in My Love

I think it was late last year, during my most stressful days at work, when I thought of running away.

Not really run away from home, mind you, but run away somewhere just so I won’t have to deal with the things I had to deal with everyday. I was so, so tired, and I thought of all the options I have in front of me: to resign, to study, do something else – just be anywhere but there.

But in the end, I didn’t do it, because responsibility won me over. Plus I couldn’t help but think of what my manager told me before I joined the team when she saw my tenure – that I was someone who stayed, and it’s a big thing. I thought maybe I should hold on a little while longer, and not make hasty decisions. And it’s not like it was so easy to just run away.

Besides, if I didn’t remain there for a little bit longer, I wouldn’t have found my 2015 word, and I wouldn’t have moved to this other job.

So it all worked out in the end.

The One Who Remained.

At the SFC International Conference at Cagayan de Oro last year, the second talk was all about the apostle John, and the crucifixion.

You see, John was the only one among all of Jesus’ apostles that was at the foot of the cross up until Jesus drew his last breath. When everyone else had run away and hid, John stayed. After Peter denied Jesus three times, John followed Jesus to the cross.

Why was he there? The speaker asked.

The answer was simple: He was there because Jesus was his friend. 

The speaker further explained: He was there because he loved the Lord. John thought that his presence there would somehow ease Jesus’ pain and suffering just by merely being there.

It was early morning, and I was on my way to tutoring when a thought hit me.

Why don’t I study abroad? That’s something nice to do.

It was, admittedly, a nice dream. It was something I had parked at the back of my mind years ago, but I never pursued because I didn’t want to leave. And then I found a reason. Or perhaps, it wasn’t really a reason, but a push.

It seemed like a good idea, though, and it is still a good idea now. Except back then, the reason I wanted to do that was because I wanted to run away again. I wanted a fresh start that I can’t seem to get here, so I thought, where else can I get a fresh start but in another place where no one knew me?

Of course that didn’t happen, because other things did.

John could have ran away, too.

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The New Normal

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A few days ago, I woke up and felt unsettled.

This was new, because the past months have probably been the calmest I’ve been in since 2013. There wasn’t a rush of emotions, thank God, but there were twinges – and those twinges were the kind that gave a warning, like maybe if I keep them unchecked, I will spiral back to where I used to be.

It didn’t scare me, really, but I felt a little confused about these feelings, the ones that I didn’t expect to come. I wasn’t sure what to do with it, and I felt that all this had to happen now, during the Holy Week, for a reason. So I sat down and tried to unravel it all.

* * *

A few months ago, after Pope Francis’ visit to the Philippines, I asked: how can you go back after all of this? The Papal Visit was one of the most amazing weeks of 2015, and it was only January, and as I packed my things from the press headquarters, I felt nostalgic. Sure, I was about to go to my new work by then, but the glow of the Papal Visit weekend has overshadowed everything. How is life supposed to go back to normal after this?

But maybe it’s not meant to go back to normal.

That answer came to me soon after. Maybe it’s not about going back to normal after something life-changing comes your way. Maybe it’s all about making a new normal, you know?

* * *

But the thing is, new normals are out of our comfort zones.

The thing about life is that when we have learned to live with what we have for a while – be it happy thing or not. Resilience has taught us that, how to live with what we have against not functioning at all. And with this resilience, we become comfortable with what we have, and when we’ve finally moved to something better, adjusting to it is a whole new thing.

And sometimes, we’d rather be where we used to be because we’re comfortable, even if what’s being offered to us is something new and better.

* * *

It was in the middle of cleaning my desk on Maundy Thursday that I finally understood. Nothing like household chores to give you clarity with the things that bother you.

“I think I just missed being where I used to be. It was comfortable and I knew how to deal with it. Now I need to navigate through unfamiliar waters and a part of me wants to regress.”

I wrote this in relation to that little twinge of feelings that I felt last week, but I realized later on that it applies to all the things that has happened in the past months: a new job after seven years, new projects, new responsibilities. Old and new friends, restored relationships, and new memories. All the things that has come and will come are a part of the things that make this new normal that I have to learn to not just live with, but enjoy. :)

“I guess what I want to say is instead of looking back to how I used to deal in the past, I should just be thankful that I am given a chance to have another set of normal. That God loves me enough to give me this so I might learn to see how He works in my life.”

“This realization earns me plus points in self-awareness,” I told my best friend via text message, smiled, and went back to clearing my desk.