What is the sound of a heart breaking?

“Your heart breaks, that’s all. But you can’t judge or point fingers. You just have to be lucky enough to find someone who appreciates you.”

–Audrey Hepburn 

I wish it were as simple as that. And not me, walking around in a daze and bleeding all over the place. Because whenever my heart breaks, no one else is left to pick up the pieces but myself.

You take risks but sometimes they don’t turn out how you want them to, not even close to what you’ve imagined. But that’s why they’re called risks. Rarely am I ever a risk taker, but this one that felt like the risk of my lifetime, I went all-in and lost.

I chose my cards (and my words) carefully, and with the obssessive-compulsiveness of an inner editor. I thought I read the signs right. I thought the Universe had my back.

But maybe it isn’t me. Maybe the other half of this equation was scared shitless, so hung up on keeping up with appearances, letting peer pressure win. Maybe the other half has trust issues, doesn’t believe in the Universe, or doesn’t think I am worth the risk.

I don’t believe in the last lie.

I am worth all the damn risks in the world. And if I was brave, and yes, crazy enough to take a risk for you, then I damn well deserve someone as brave and crazy (even braver and crazier, welcome) who would take the risk as well.

I only wanted to be true to myself and I was. I have no regrets. Every risk you take is a learning experience. At least, I tried.

——–

Image credit: Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash
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The Universe and You

The Universe has a way of teaching us the life lessons we need to learn, sometimes in contradictions, but mostly in ways only we can understand and make sense of.

These past few months alone, I feel that I’ve learned the equivalent of what I have in 8 years combined. A few weeks ago, I’ve had an angel card reading by this lady I bought bracelets from and who felt overflowing with good vibes. She told me that my creative proclivity is a gift and can benefit many people, not just myself.

So here I am, sharing a few things I’ve learned through what I do best, in the hope that these simple nuggets of wisdom will be of benefit to someone, even to just one person. I’ll be happy with that.

🖤 To find a true friend, you need to experience betrayal and hurt. 

🖤 To see a person’s true character, you need to be thrown into conflict together. 

🖤 To savor every moment and be grateful for the gift of life, you must experience loss. 

🖤 To trust (again), you need to let go and release your fears. 

🖤 To get answers, you need to take risks and be patient. 

🖤 To achieve your dreams and goals, you need to be the flow. 

🖤 To be at peace, you need to accept and not expect. 

🖤 To find happiness, you need to realize that it comes from within you and doesn’t depend on other people and stuff. 

🖤 To find meaning and purpose in your life, you need to declutter and simplify. 

🖤 To get what you want, know how to ask for it. 

🖤 To be with the right person, you need to let go of the wrong ones. 

🖤 To find the love you deserve, you need to wake-up from the illusion of love you’re settling for. 

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When “very good” is enough

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“Muni-muni muna”: Bicol (2006)

When I was in nursery school, I was given an award for “Distinction in Deportment”. I was six at that time and didn’t know what the words “distinction” and deportment” meant, obviously. I just thought it meant I was very well-behaved in school, that I was very good, and it was enough for me. I was content and happy.

When I entered “real school”, it was a different story. Grade 4 was when I first felt that I wasn’t enough and that I needed to be excellent, not just very good. To be excellent, I had to compete with the smart girls and secure my already tenuous spot in the Top 10. Academic life became a constant struggle and anxiety trigger for me from that point on. I wanted to excel and remain in the “smart girls category” because I wanted people to be proud of me, to like me. Thinking of it now, my drive to excel boiled down to a desire to be loved. A lot of our hang-ups in life can be traced back to the all-too-common (though we always deny it) desire to be loved. If you’re someone who already feels secure that you’re loved regardless of what you do, hang-ups and all, then you wouldn’t feel the need to pursue excellence in a mad frenzy just to get the attention you want.

Imagine if I had learned this and took it to heart back in Grade 4, Grade 6, high school, college, or even the confusing years right after it, what a huge difference it would’ve made in my life.

It’s fine to acknowledge realizations like this one, and I do. But it’s also important not to get too hung up on it because if you do, then you’ll be setting yourself up for more disappointment by opening a can of “what ifs” and “I should’ves”. Skip that can opening! It’s way beyond its expiration date so toss it straight to the trash. Don’t leave any opening, even just a tiny crack for regret to leak through because regrets can pile up even without your permission and stunt your growth. Regret puts a damper on living in the moment and accepting yourself.

To be happy and at peace with my life and my choices, I realized that I need to re-connect with that 6-year-old kid again who felt so alive with being “very good” and not excellent, who never thought she had to do something extraordinary just to be loved. Because, I am enough. And very good is enough.

Chasing the light

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View from Tingloy Island, Batangas (2018)

You can never know with finality how your life is going to be like. How it pans out through the years, what you’re given to deal with. You can never truly know if you’ll ever meet the love of your life, share your days with that person who makes you laugh and feel like fireworks inside, grow old with the one who has seen you at your worst and still finds you beautiful. You grew up with your head stuffed with romantic bollocks but you know better now. You’re a realist romantic.

You’ll never know if you’d get another shot at studying and mastering something you should’ve chosen when you were filling out college application papers, make a living out of your passion when they tell you that’s not a real job, do work that you love, be your own boss and not tie yourself down until retirement years to a life of modern serfdom and secret despair.

You’ll never know if you’d get to travel one enchanting place at a time, meet strangers whose kindness will be etched in memory, bask in solitude and togetherness, discover old things new to you, get lost and secretly dance a jig because more than anything you love finding your own way to your destination and back home again.

You’ll never know if you’d get to read all those books on your list and in your library in your lifetime, get to write every story inside you, every idea that pops into your head while in the shower, sweeping, cooking, doing laundry, all the while believing that yes, you are a writer and your words have worth.

You’ll never know if you’ll win the lottery and be stinking rich you can finally put up more public parks, museums, and libraries in your city, rebuild the crumbling local post office in this godforsaken country run over by bullies, liars, and misogynists who call themselves public servants.

You’ll never know if you’d still have your one true friend with you in the next ten years, if you’d still have her unconditional love and support through all your “reality bites” moments. But one thing is for sure. You still exist. You are here right now–mind, body, and soul. You can choose to look at what you’ve got and find happiness with your blessings, to forgive, to make it to the deadline so you can pay the damn bills, to laugh off mishaps and negative people, to bake your favorite shortbread cookies and savor it like you would a rare orgasm, to write another fledgling story in your head, to love despite all past disappointments and hurts, to smile at random strangers again. If tomorrow comes, and thank God when it does, you have another day to live life on your own terms.

Take your heart and make it into art.

“It is impossible for you to be original, but you can be authentic.” –Sarah Ban Breathnach, Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy

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Creativity ebbs and flows, like a river. There are days when I churn out over 3 pages of writing and days when I don’t even glance at my notebooks or touch my yellow pad.

As creative beings, why do we do the things we do?

We do it for love. Because we love doing it. Because it makes us happy while doing it. Because seeing others happy with what we’ve made or shared also makes us happy by default. Because it satisfies a need, fans a desire, fuels a dream. And that is when authenticity comes in. Authenticity–being true to yourself, is what gives more depth, clarity, and direction to your art.

My friend Carla once posted a quote on Instagram: “The dreams worth chasing are often the ones that scare you the most.”

My dream is to fully embrace who I am as a writer, as a woman, but this scares me. I’m sure I’m not the only writer on earth who’s scared of writing. Because writing means getting inside yourself and putting things out for the world to see and judge. I don’t think I can ever write and detach myself from feeling. I wasn’t built that way. That’s not who I am. Writing scares me because what if I give it my all and the world spits back at me, rejects me, or worse, think I’m not enough? What then? Should I just give up and keep my writings in the dark, like a secret I indulge in and let loose when nobody is around and I won’t get caught?

But no, that’s not what I want. I could play it safe–slave in an office all day or choose another career path my family and peers would be proud of. But if I ignored the whispers of a story or the itch to write down lines that come out of nowhere when I least expect them it would make me feel empty inside and incomplete.

I choose to write. Writing is my life. It’s my work, it’s what gets the bills paid, but it is also my passion and calling. It’s definitely not a hobby I pick up and get back to on rare days I can just laze around. A fear of failure and unworthiness is warranted.

But knowing now that writing scares me on some days when being vulnerable is just too much, I still choose to write it out and share it with the world. Because it is my gift and it’s who I am. I choose to embrace creativity and authenticity, writing my way to where ever it may lead me.

“There is no one in the world like you. Your work is born of your sensibilities, temperament, experience, emotion, passion, perseverance, attention to detail, idiosyncrasies, and eccentricities. When you’re authentic, so is your art.” –Sarah Ban Breathnach

 

Soul Food for Introverts

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I am an introvert. I identify as an INFP. Looking back, I have always been introverted since I was a kid. My love for alone time, getting lost in a book and with my own runaway thoughts, plus moments of melancholy would have clued me in had I known and understood what introversion was before.

But there were times during my growing up years that I got lost. In my desire to belong and be just like everyone else, I second-guessed myself. I worked so hard to keep up with my peers, and growing up in an exclusive all-girls school just reinforced the pressure to go with the flow and be in with the majority.

If I were suddenly face-to-face with my acne and insecurity-riddled 13-year-old self, I’d tell her it’s going to be okay. That all she’ll need to make it in life is to be true to her self even if the consequences are losing friends, being betrayed, getting hurt and disappointed, learning lessons the hard way. I’d tell her writing and reading more would be her salvation. That humor, true friends, and the inescapable longing to experience being infinite, being in the here and now, will always keep her going.

And dear reader, if you are a fellow introvert needing a little bit of comfort and validation, know that you are awesome the way you are. Know that you are not alone. Know that someone understands exactly how you feel, knows what you’re going through, would hit like in a heartbeat if you post about the intricacies of your introvertedness on social media. We may be the minority, and our comrades may be hard to find especially in the midst of the daily grind, but we’re scattered everywhere, basking in our own pockets of peace and quiet whenever and wherever we do get them.

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Be a sweetheart to yourself

I have been on a writing slump lately, and I know exactly why. The mind is such a terrible thing sometimes especially when it latches onto self-destructive mode with thoughts like, “I could never be as good of a writer as J.K. Rowling, Emily Dickinson, Natalie Goldberg, or this random cool lady whose blog I’m obsessively stalking right now. When I go down that rabbit hole of self-doubt, the more I feel inadequate and insignificant as a writer. My voice is but a whisper amongst the chorus of bold and brilliant voices.

But when you fall, you’ll reach the bottom eventually and when you do, the instinct to pick yourself up and climb back to the light again to get yourself out of the pity hole you’ve gotten yourself into is stronger than any pull to stay huddled in the dark and host your own pity party. Pity parties are no fun. I’d rather break my back in multiple escape attempts to see and feel the light again than channel Bridget Jones and lip synch “All By Myself” at a pity party.

This is when I recover from writer’s amnesia and remember that I am not J.K. Rowling, Emily Dickinson, or Natalie Goldberg. I am Lea. I am myself. I am a writer. I am a writer because I write and will not do or be anything else. I am a writer because as cheesy as it sounds, I have given my heart and soul into the world of words. I am a writer because I can feel it in my bones. If Ladybird gave herself her own name and speaks of it with pride and dripping with juvenile defiance, I give myself the title of writer and own my words–all of it. The beautiful and the ugly, the subtle and deliberate, the naive and risqué, the sensual and the crazed.

I have my own unique voice. It doesn’t sound exactly like anyone else, and nobody else sounds exactly like me. I will keep on writing, swimming in the sea of all these writers’ voices whom I admire and feel kindred connections. Their voices will buoy me up to the surface and I’ll be Venus on a shell riding the waves, my words taking off on their own. I won’t look even a hint of similar, but I’ll feel that way.

Not everything I write will captivate, be killed with praises, or get likes. Some won’t sit well with delicate sensibilities and versions of me they’ve been intimate with. And a massive chunk won’t even see the light of day, an iceberg of words hidden beneath the water. But none of that matters just as long as I still have the yearning to write. I don’t need an audience to write. I write for myself first, for my soul to continue to thrive. And finally, I can be kinder to myself in a world where an artist’s worth is constantly measured and judged. I can be my own sweetheart.