Love Hype II (14 February 2017)

Did you go out on Valentine’s Day?

Because I DID! It was really crazy. I had to commute for 1 hour and 30 minutes on a non-rush hour (2:30PM) with a distance of less than 4km and everywhere was already traffic.

I really couldn’t care less at all about Valentine’s until I had to leave my house and meet up for our weekly book club meeting.

Despite that, I enjoyed my so-called alone time in CBTL. Well, uhm, who am I kidding? I love having an alone time with good coffee.

Anyway, the day started with me receiving a box of fancy cookies, a rose, and a bar of milk chocolate from my thoughtful parents. They’ve been doing this for 3 years. What made them do it? I wouldn’t even know, but it’s nice to at least get one thing on a day that celebrates all kinds of love.

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This is me starting on books I haven’t read for 2 years now.

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This is also the Feminist Book Club, that makes me look forward to Tuesdays. I really don’t like speaking up, I’m more of a writer and I write things, well, privately, on my notebooks and that has been the way I am since forever. It’s different now, I get to exercise speaking and I do have people who are listening to me.

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Photo grabbed from Marika
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Photo grabbed from Marika/Jamie
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The book that I got from the exchange! Thank you, Janine!

I gave Alice Walker’s The Secret of Possessing Joy and I got Marley & Me by John Grogan, which was the one that I didn’t expect during the meeting.

Anyway, to end this entry, I’d like to say that I had a great night and I wish that everyone had the same amount of fun.

Love,

Dana A.

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Love Hype I (13 February 2017)

The love hype is everywhere and in everyone. Suddenly, it has become an another holiday in the Philippines; I wouldn’t be surprised if it becomes a non-working holiday soon. Filipinos love talking about love, and it’s universal that we all love to be loved and to love. This is the time when people all over the world will be spending money (actually, I saw the ATMs in Alabang earlier and men already formed a long line in front of it. I guess, it’s the Valentine’s day rush, eh?) on things like chocolates, flowers, and even gifts that they don’t need, some will use this opportunity to travel around and experience the great outdoors. I wish I could’ve done something different too; after all, it is a holiday.

But instead, this is how I spent the Valentine’s Day Eve:

  • I woke up at 11:58AM.
  • Thought about what I should do while listening to random worship music.
  • Reheated my mother’s Pot Roast and Hainanese Chicken for lunch at 1:30.
  • Played sims until 4:10PM
  • Waited for my dad to go off to work until 5:00PM.
  • Finally had the courage to take a cold bath at 5:15PM
  • Did my make up for my solo date with my books until 5:58PM
  • Reached Starbucks at around 6:30PM
  • Had my devo until 8PM

 

  • Read this book about Feminism and Theology (I had this book since 2014. I didn’t have the time to finish it. Now, I got plenty to finish all my books for pleasure.)

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  • Bought notebooks from the Common Room stalls in Alabang Town Center, which will be up only until tomorrow! They have wonderful finds.

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  • Talked to a friend until 1:00AM.

I don’t really feel lonely at all this Valentine’s day and that’s a big improvement. All these years of being single in my teens (except my 20th) made me feel like I was unlikeable. Triggered by so many standards, I knew I wouldn’t be taken seriously if I don’t change my appearance. Neither did I know that appearance would only attract people who don’t look on the inside of others.

This is the beauty of God. He sees what is beyond the fading beauty of everyone and He aims to cultivate and transform all of us from glory to glory.

 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7 ESV)

This verse didn’t resonate in my heart for such a long time, but now is imbibed in my heart and spirit. My prayer actually involves a lot of transformation and redemption along the way. If only you knew how deep I am in my insecurities, you wouldn’t feel bad about yours; however, God and I still have a long way to go and what matters is the commitment for the refinement of my inner beauty.

I hope that before we get too excited about the love that is about to be poured out by others on us, we become more grateful towards the One who was the first giver of love. The One who doesn’t look at the outward appearance and judges by it, but digs deep into us and learns more about our hearts – which reveals our true self – and is willing to remove all the unnecessary and sinful things hidden in it.

See you at my next entry!

 

Love,

Dana A.

I Joined A Club: The Feminist Book Club

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I just decided to went off incognito after 2 months of being gone or out of reach. Last February 7, 2017 was our first meeting in the Feminist Book Club. The book club was pioneered by one of the most creative women in the Philippines, the lady behind “Woman, Create” and a Lasallian Pride, Marika. You can know more about Woman, Create here.

It’s an honor to be a part of a book club that caters to women with open minds, hearts, and souls just for the sake of uplifting Gender Equality and other issues. Would you believe that despite of our differences and first impressions, the first meeting went on for 2 hours? And if we didn’t have other responsibilities the next day, it could’ve gone for 5 hours more! We just love speaking up for the certain causes that we have in our hearts.

How great and inspiring to see women from different backgrounds, from advertising to stock brokerage, coming together as one for feminism. The book club has an encouraging and inviting aura that will make you love yourself as a woman even right after the meeting and the fact that you’re given a chance to speak up and to be listened to without the fear of being judged really drew us in. It’s rare to have a circle like that.

To be honest, I was there to basically have a book club because I am so in love with books and nobody reads as much as I used to. Having a book club gives me an avenue to talk about the books I liked and I disliked. The Feminism part was a bonus that is way better than some of the novels I loved.

Now, I feel like I’m part of a purpose — of a fight.

The book recommendations from the Tuesday group (or the group I attend) are:

– Milk & Honey by Rupi Kaur
– The Artisan Soul by Erwin Raphael McManus
– We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
– GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoroso
– Against Happiness by Eric G. Wilson
– Born After Midnight by A.W. Tozer
Better Than Jewels by Rica Peralejo-Bonifacio
– A Cup of Sake Beneath the Cherry Trees by Kenkō
– Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami
– The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
– The Amber Spyglass (His Dark Materials series) by Philip Pullman
– Daddy Long Legs by Jean Webster
– Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl
– Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg

Even if it was a secular book club, we have discussed Christianity for quite some time (like I said, we all came from different backgrounds and there was respect,). I personally recommended a Devotional Book written by Rica Peralejo-Bonifacio entitled, Better Than Jewels, for I have been a follower of her for like 3-4 years now and I thought that it fit our topic, which was: a book that encourages you.

Furthermore, I enjoy writing on Better Than Jewels’s “My Response” page. The book actually jumpstarted my year with God. I stopped reading my Bible for a year and I have forgotten how to get to know God through reading His word, but Ms. Rica was such an answered prayer for helping me to start my Bible reading habit again. I will share some of my writings on my Better Than Jewels book soon.

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Photo grabbed Jamie Chung
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Photo grabbed from Jamie Chung

 

So, here I am, looking forward to learning with these women again next Tuesday!

Love,

Dana A.

Travel Story: The Waves & The Good God

Two days ago, I went to a beach in Zambales with two of my friends. One of them had been urging me to go ever since the beginning of their planning, I wasn’t convinced enough to go so I basically kept saying no until I found myself traveling with a grumpy mood.

“What could possibly be nice about exhausting yourself in a long travel?” I thought.

However, it became an experience that I did not regret doing. It was actually fun immersing myself to a different thing for a while.

Our hostel, named The Circle, is actually known to hipsters. I’m not a hipster so I couldn’t care less about the things that go with their interests. The whole place is painted with colors and vandals. Every part of the place has a remnant of the ones who stayed in it. It’s like in every vandal that they made, they’re leaving something that were in their hearts during the travel. It’s beautiful because of the people; they are all accommodating, fast moving, and friendly. Yes, I was never bored in our stay.

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Tourists usually go there for surfing.

Well, the beach isn’t the best beach that I’ve been to but it is beautiful on its own. It is inviting and it will really calm you down.

I usually get terrible anxieties during travels (this is one of the reasons why I don’t like traveling); however, this is, if not, the calmest sea that I’ve ever met. The waves are big but it did not scare me.

As I was reflecting on my life, a sentence came to my mind and it was simple. I know it was from God.

The waves are only big when you are near it.

It is beautiful. It lifted my whole mood during the entire trip.

This year, I’m really overwhelmed with all the happenings in my life. 2016 is rough and I couldn’t stand up on my own for so long. I’ve been needing so much help and I feel like a weak individual who will never recover.

In His faithfulness, love, and protection, He has been through it all with me and for me. When I’m hurt, down, happy, broken, scared, and confused, the Lord is there.

Even though I can see the waves that are trying to eat me alive, I am certain that God goes before me and stops the waves from doing what it wants to do – to completely destroy me.

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Next year would be different. I will try to fix my life and learn more about God. I no longer want to be in this deep pit where I see my life being taken away day by day.

This is only possible through my Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior.

Musings on MOANA

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Favorite Lyrics:

“Sometimes the world seems against you
The journey may leave a scar
But scars can heal and reveal just
Where you are

The people you love will change you
The things you have learned will guide you
And nothing on Earth can silence
The quiet voice still inside you
And when that voice starts to whisper
Moana, you’ve come so far
Moana, listen
Do you know who you are?”
I Am Moana (2016). Performed by Rachel House.

I seriously have not much to say about Moana but it doesn’t mean that it’s not good. I am speechless because I can’t remember the last time I cried in the cinemas except when I watched Moana.

The story of Moana speaks so much to me, from breaking boundaries, getting strength from the people you love, and helping others to realize who they truly are.

My favorite parts always involve Gramma Tala, Moana’s grandmother. Just like Moana, my grandparents inspired me to dream high and reach for it despite of many setbacks, and Gramma Tala was like my grandparents in a lot of ways. There was a scene when Moana almost gave up, Gramma Tala freely gave her the option to go back as long as it is what she really wants and this same thing happening to me right now as I contemplate on whether I should go back to law school or not.

Overall, I’d like to watch it again and perhaps, on the second time I watch it, I wouldn’t be as emotional as the first time.

3 Great Reminders In Law School

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A little background about my law studies:

I am currently a student in De La Salle University’s College of Law. However, due to the sudden twists and turns of life and God’s commands (whether or not I heard Him correctly), I opted not to continue my education and take a break from it until I am ready to conquer it like a true warrior. Law school is indeed not a walk in the park and one must be holistically prepared to endure it for years. I closed many doors as I walked away from it, but I believe that in God’s perfect time, He will be the One to open doors that cannot be shut, whether or not it be in the field of law.

I am now in a process of pruning and strengthening both my faith and health. I’d like to say that things are going well despite of my slow improvement. Rest assured, God is faithful.

Now, if I may, here are the 3 great reminders that I realized while I was studying law:

BUSYNESS IS A CHOICE. PRIORITIZE WISELY.

The law is indeed a tough industry to enter. One will need an extraordinary kind of diligence to survive it. Busyness is the culture of law school; unconsciously, this is also the pride of the law students. Truth is, most law students tend to prioritize law school above everything – above rest, above relationships, above God. Law school is not a God but it could be one’s god.

When I was evaluating how my life was in law school, I realized how it became my only world and how much I relied on my classmates, friends, and even, professors for comfort, support, and survival. It was as if law school is the only important thing in this world and if I don’t survive it, it could only mean two things: (1) I was not diligent enough or (2) it’s not meant for me. The attack of the enemy in this industry is directly in the mind. (Tip: It is advisable to enter law school without baggage and I mean, physical, emotional, mental baggage. It’s like getting married.) I also used law school as a distraction so I wouldn’t need to deal with my other problems, such as health issues. Thus, when all of my problems crumbled before me, I was overwhelmed and weakened. I was left broken and confused.

It is true though that you must work hard for your dream, but stop glorifying busyness. With proper time management, you can still have a social life, family time, and even, “me” time. Prioritize what will last for eternity and not just for a lifetime.

FORGIVE.

Law school is full of different kinds of people, from nerds to party animals, they will be there! Due to the high level of stress, it will not be easy to find people whom you will be easily be comfortable with. Also, there will be a lot of cussing, dramas, and even, destructive comments, these words may not be directly against you but maybe for a close friend, and you’ll come to realize that the pain is the same.

My study group and I used to reveal portions of our lives to each other everyday (there was a tight group camaraderie and getting to know because we were neighbors, classmates, study groupmates, and friends; thus, we spent almost 24 hours together. I loved every second of it.). When I was going through a tough time, they were there for me. We cried together, listened to one another, and they felt my pain. For me, spending time with them was enough to cover all the sadness and their support lengthened my life, literally. We had to constantly forgive one another for shortcomings and stupid actions.

Be reminded that law school will let you experience professors who will make you doubt your academic strengths and highlight your weaknesses. You will also have to constantly forgive yourself for every time you think you’ve had a bad recitation. Law school will ask you to stay tough but in reality, to forgive will make you greater: both in works and in character.

AIM FOR EXCELLENCE OR DON’T DO IT AT ALL.

Law school’s culture is made for one to be the most excellent person that s/he can be. Failure is welcome in the process and people will understand if you fail in law school but due to the high standards of law schools, you can only fail a few times or else, you will face greater consequences that come with it.

When you go to law school, you have to set your mind that you must excel or don’t do it at all, for it is a shame to not give your best shot when you enter it. One of the best advices given to me is “preparations for the bar exams start in your first day in law school.” I took it seriously and it made me the best student that I can be.

Lastly, from what I know, some of the best law firms hire only the top 50 (perhaps, even less!) students per batch. This is a tough cut to get in. The law studies itself is already hard to pass but getting through the keen eyes of this industry’s employers are harder.

With these reminders, I will also leave you with a verse:

So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.

(Hebrew 10:35-36 NIV)

This verse continues to inspire me despite of me being on a break. It’s just as beautiful as the the Author who inscribed it in my heart. Do not EVER lose hope! Keep fighting for the dream that God has placed in you and He will be the One to bring you to the end.

Love,

Dana A.

The Good Father

“Love so undeniable I can hardly speak,
Peace so unexplainable I can hardly think”

It is true that when you encounter Jesus, you will eventually understand love and how to love.

Every night, since last week, I keep listening to only 3 songs namely: (1) Sila by SUD, (2) ‘Wag Ka Nang Umiyak by Ebe Dancel & KZ Tandingan, and (3) Good Good Father – Housefires II. I cry a few buckets every time I hear these songs. It is as if I’m purging all the pain that I gained over time.

I mourn because I loved and lost. However, God used the incident to reveal something new about the Gospel in my heart. Though it is painful, God is a good Father. He comforts those who goes to Him.

 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,but do not have love, I gain nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:1-3 NIV)

Even if I failed and was not forgiven by a person, I know in my heart that I loved that person so dearly and it was God who sustained the love within me; this is enough. In God’s eyes, I have gained and won over a thousand folds.

I praise You, God, my Father, for loving me so deeply that I couldn’t stop loving people and it’s in their discretion to stay or flee from it but I know that it is a courageous act to do and it honors You. Thank You for teaching me by example, God!