Love Makes You Stronger

Love makes you happy and love also brings you pain

But through everything, love only makes you stronger.

I keep you with me in a safe corner of my heart

Where everything is pure and innocent and sacred

A place where no one else can get to and break us

Always. That’s what matters for now.

That is my truth and something you need to know for sure.

I may never wrap myself around what it is about you

that keeps pulling me in

I just know a thread is there connecting us and it’s real.

We will be together

If not in this lifetime, then maybe in the next, or the one after that

but not until we’ve learned the lessons we need to learn,

not until our karma is complete.

And if one day I meet someone else who loves me

who I will fall in love with,

I will not waste my youth and my years waiting for you.

Because I deserve love and respect, loyalty and devotion,

happiness and intimacy

An equal partnership, a true marriage of souls.

And if I find all these things and more in someone else’s arms,

I will not hesitate.

Because life is meant to be lived in love and light

And if I’m ready for that but you aren’t,

I will choose the light over you.

Even if it hurts for a while

I will never deny you freedom, because love doesn’t hold you hostage

and keep you bound together in an endless trinity

of fear, indecision, and stagnation.

You break the chain if it doesn’t serve your highest good,

if it keeps you from living out your best life.

You walk away from the shadows and back into the light

Love always gives you the power to choose destinations.

You have been my secret joy and sadness

The unexpected what-if of my life.

But you are also my most important lesson:

Love only makes you stronger.

——–

P.S. I think I understand it better now, what Meryl Streep said on her Golden Globes Lifetime Achievement Award speech: “Take your broken heart and make it into art.”

I have taken the lessons I’ve learned both inspiring and painful, and woven them into art I am proud of. My life revolves around creating and making sense of life through words. Giving myself over to creating with honesty and vulnerability is also slowly peeling away my layers and showing the best bits of me that were hidden before. You can’t go out into the light without braving the darkness first. ☀️

—————-

Image credit: Cathal Mac an Bheatha on Unsplash

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Light of the World

*This is my tribute to all the phenomenal women in my life, to those who have and continue to inspire me, and to those I have yet to meet.

Cheers to those girls who had to grow up a little earlier than their peers. Those girls who were thrust with responsibility and old woman’s wisdom when they should’ve been playing house without a care in the world. Those girls who grew into independence and resiliency and wore them well into adulthood. I see you and admire your beauty shaped by the years of inner struggles, some still ongoing, and the battles you survived. Your brave hearts that still give, despite past hurts and coming up empty more times than you want to admit. You carry the weight of the world in your arms strong enough for burdens, but always soft for the ones you love. Cheers to you, to us, because we aren’t celebrated or appreciated enough often by those around us. But we can acknowledge each other, wish each other “Blessed be” when our paths cross, and say we are phenomenal women. We are the pillars of love, hope, and strength in a world that will always look towards our light.

Gardens by the Bay, Singapore (2013)

Confidence wears a bright orange flippy skirt

*This is something I wrote back in 2010, when I was still blogging at Livejournal. Then out of nowhere, I just remembered this post a few days ago, as if someone tapped me on the shoulder and reminded me of it. I felt compelled to share it here on my WordPress site, especially after reading it again after such a long time, and realizing that the truths I’ve written all those years ago, are still very much ringing true today. It’s bizarre but in a good way.

~~~

There’s a leak in my cabinet. Whenever it rains hard (as it has been doing on and off these past few weeks), I can hear the pitter-pattering of water from the top to the middle shelf. I had to evacuate all my clothes and other stuff (yoga mat and empty perfume bottles included). This is a perfect time for a wardrobe overhaul–sort through clothes I should be giving away, and keep those that still love mon petit corps. As I was rummaging through them, I spotted my bright orange beach skirt–the one that’s so flippy, even a gentle breeze can bring it to life. It’s been two years since I bought it and I haven’t worn it even once. It still fits me perfectly. I did a happy dance and was lost in it for a while, longing very much to be a student of it again. I imagined myself walking barefoot on sandy shores–the salty sea air filling up my lungs in a most delicious way, and the cool breeze whipping my hair. It’s always a comforting reverie.

As I was very much occupied with the task at hand, my mind kept zoning in and out on different trains of thought. It would board on a station, get off at a stop, and board the next train to a new destination. It’s crazy. I remember some bits and pieces, and now I’m trying to challenge my memory. Introspection strikes again!

I’ve been re-learning a lot of things lately, and at the same time, I’ve been recharging myself. I’m letting go of the excesses.   

First stop. I realized that no matter how much you think of other people, they will almost always be self-absorbed. That’s just the way it is. As much as we are all caught up in our own affairs, I still want those who matter to me to be emotionally available. To really listen and understand what I’m saying, to take time to be really with me in the present. I’ve had enough of selflessly doling out pieces of myself and ending up unsatisfied.   

Second stop. What works for others doesn’t necessarily work for me. Different strokes for different folks, my friend. I don’t have to compete with anyone else. And I don’t have to pattern myself to what others have successfully achieved. I believe that I too will be successful and become excellent in what I do, and even then I don’t need to broadcast it. It’s enough that I know my own worth. 

Third stop. I am demanding, but I can live with it. I am not into things done halfheartedly. I want to be loved for my entirety, the same way I do with a precious few. It should be mutual. Countless times I’ve been the go-to girl when loved ones have thoughts and problems they couldn’t share with anyone else. They allow me to see them at their most vulnerable because in some little way, I can give them what they need–comfort and understanding. But as much as I know that I am capable of being their “rock”, I don’t want to be solely considered as that kind of person. I want to be there for the good times as much as the bad times. I want to celebrate with you as much as just be there to listen and uplift you. I don’t want to be excluded, much less to be noticed and valued only when you’re at your lowest and feel the weight of the world on your shoulders. I can only give so much of myself.      

Fourth stop. I thrive in an environment that allows me to just be MYSELF. A sanctuary where I can let loose all my creativity and passions, and infuse a touch of Leanesque in every aspect. I am at my best when I can nurture, inspire, encourage, and strengthen others. I am at my happiest when I could translate thoughts, ideas, feelings, and experiences into words that make people feel something too. I want to continue being warm and generous, and feel safe, knowing for sure that I will not be hurt in any way.   

Last stop. Never ever lose the light. For a long time, I didn’t embrace my uniqueness. It took a very special angel of a friend who calls me “little Elizabeth Barrett Browning” to make me realize that (to her especially) I am a rose that’s unique from all the rest. That my poetry is beautiful and I need not wait for somebody else to tell me that. I know it, and I can feel it in my bones. My passion lies here and that’s all that matters. 

Now, the mirror shows a girl in an orange flippy skirt, with twinkling eyes and a devil-may-care smile on her rosy lips. She doesn’t always feel like this, but now she is free.

——–

Image credit: frank mckenna on Unsplash 

Dream a little dream of me

I believe that our desires speak clearly to us in our dreams. It does not matter whether we are asleep or awake, whether we are fully aware of it or not.

The message will come. Maybe in cryptic fragments, maybe in a series like a comic strip or fantasy saga, or maybe it will appear whole, which can be inspiring and intimidating at the same time. But the point is, that our desires become manifest in dreams. And it is up to us whether to leave it as nothing more than a dream and get on with our lives as usual, or something that can take root in reality and create a life of its own–with our help of course.

I dreamt of you more than once already and every time, you always felt like home. I dreamed you into being and you were there when I least expected it. And though I have built a cozy home for myself, softened some edges with time, thought I couldn’t possibly have room for anyone else, you came. You are my moment that felt like Fate.

I know now that I want to keep on building with you if you share the same dreams too. Let’s take this waltz and not look back.

——–

Image credit: Sasha Freemind on Unsplash

Clarity

I can say now that every potential love who came before you–I didn’t love them. I thought I did. Maybe I did, for a while. What I know for sure is that I loved their taste in music. How I was this person’s “Yellow” by Coldplay, and our connection was “Just Like a Splendid Love Song” by Orange and Lemons. But they were full of “Excuses” by The Morning Benders even if there was a time we both “saw the light” like that romantic Todd Rundgren song I used to play on repeat because it gave me the butterflies.

I loved that they can play the guitar because when I was 13, I told my best friend with much juvenile clarity that I would fall in love with someone who was kind and smart, played the guitar, and wrote me poems and letters every day. But it was only a teenage girl’s fantasy.

I didn’t expect you. I didn’t expect to fall in love with you after all those lost years, and I never expected it would hurt like hell.

You are kind and true, smart and so humble, and I know for a fact that you can play the guitar. But it’s also unexpected that I’m the one who’s writing poems of love, longing, and heartbreak because I couldn’t tell you these things even if you were sitting beside me. And if by some unexpected twist of fate you get to read this, I want you to know that I’m like that Binocular song, “Deep”, and that my love is like that Zooey Deschanel song that goes like this:

Don’t look back, all you’ll ever get is the dust from the steps before.

I don’t have to see you every day, but I just want to know you’re there.

I wish I can just tell you, “Follow your heart and everything will be okay”. But I don’t know what’s in your heart or if you even feel the same. If the burden of what-ifs and things left unsaid also keep you awake some nights. All I know is that if you trust me, I’ve got you. And you’ve got me, my heart, and my hands–both of them, to hold through everything.

You would always be that James Taylor song that still gives me the butterflies. And yes, it would be so sweet to be loved by you.

Love is a choice too

Las-Casas-Filipinas-de-Acuzar-beach
View from a home away from home: the beach at Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar, in Bagac, Bataan (2018)

Make decisions based on love, not fear. 

Fear is the easiest and safest choice, the path of least resistance. Love requires sacrifices and putting yourself on the line–being vulnerable. It’s a road paved with jagged rocks that cut you, and trees that obscure your path ahead. And let’s face it–sometimes, things don’t turn out well. But sometimes they do, and when they do, they’re worth all those shitty decisions you made before. I do believe that something true and worth it doesn’t come too easy or cheap. You have to earn it–you have to be willing to put in the work, and you need to understand that if this decision matters a lot, to the point that it’s even life-changing, this will test you and things you hold dear. And sometimes, it will define you.

I am no stranger to decisions based on fear–fear of losing control of myself, fear of making mistakes, fear of losing respect, fear of judgment, fear of disappointing people, fear of losing friends, fear of losing love. I have made them over and over again, so many times I ran the risk of putting fear on autopilot. But now, I am finally awake and a rosy halo of light is all around me. I don’t want to go back to a safe but unremarkable life where fear is the invisible captain that runs a tight ship.

Now that I’m awake, I discovered that the peace that comes from choosing love instead of fear is just like the relief you feel when seeing your beloved’s face after a long, weary day. All your worries just melt away. It feels just like home. And that is a choice worth fighting for, a decision worth making again and again.

Karmic release

Ace-of-Cups-Morgan-Greer-tarotDecember is the month of celebrations. It’s also the month where you take inventory of your life so far–an assessment of your overall performance, whether you touched down on your major goals and crossed off at least half if not more than half on your to-do list. Then you also declutter physical mess as well as mental and metaphorical clutter. Chuck and sever ties with whatever doesn’t serve you well–destructive habits, attitudes, thoughts, and people.

December is also a month for healing. To retreat and spend more time with yourself–getting to the nitty-gritty, the heart of the matter, your genuine self and asking:

How are you, really? Are you happy? Are you content? Do you feel loved, fulfilled, and secure? 

These are the most important questions that we sometimes forego asking because they require us to dig deep and be honest with ourselves. It asks us to be vulnerable when most of us are scared shit at the mention of the word and don’t even want to go there. Outside is safer–in the company of friends, putting on our carefully crafted “social media smiles”, knocking off drinks to numb how you really feel about another person who’s been on your mind lately and can’t quite shake off, or that workhorse of a job that gives you all that prestige and promise of power but takes away your soul and freedom in exchange. You wake up one day and realize you’re a slave to the world’s whims and society’s norms. A cog in a wheel that never stops turning nor stopping for anyone. Being true to yourself and your heart–they don’t have a say in this matter. That’s just the way it is if you let it. Never has a silence sounded more deafening.

Patience, love, understanding, and trust are overflowing in a cup I am ready to offer. This cup comes from nothing less than a place of purity, honesty, and faith. But when your cup is denied, there’s nothing left to do but to take it back and guard it more fiercely than ever before. Hold on to it until the time comes when the Universe sends you someone potentially worthy again. But even until then it’s an intricate dance with free will.

Nothing to do about it but soldier on, hope for the best and release the rest. Hoping 2019 will treat you better.

——–

Image credit: Albideuter