Tuesday, December 31, 2013

What I Learned Today & Gratitude List: New Year Edition

Year-end presents opportunities to look back, reassess, and declutter our lives, hopeful for even brighter things to come next year. It's also the season to be thankful for the countless blessings we received and lessons we learned along the way. I spent four hours cleaning my room and the bathroom, and another six hours to fulfill my baking duties. All the while, my mind was drifting, remembering and reanimating the highlights of the year that was. 2013 may have been tough on us, but it brought one too many lessons that made me, and us, better citizens of this world. There's no better day to sit down and document what I learned, and what I'm grateful for in 2013.

  • You always have a choice, and when you make one, don't apologize. Maybe it's age, maybe it's experience. But I've come to a point where I feel 100% free to make decisions without a slight inclination to be sorry about it. Whether I make a good or bad decision, I am fully accountable and it propels me to where the Lord wants me to be.
  • Awakening my spirituality. Religion is part of my family DNA. I grew up abiding by the traditions albeit mechanically. It's only this year that I really felt what I should be searching for and it's far divine than any religious duties. It's been a different spiritual journey ever since and I'm very excited. 
  • Avoid negativity at all cost. I'm a relentless believer of spreading positivity. I always try to look at the brighter side of things. But all these efforts are bound to fail, if you don't actively avoid negativity. Avoid gossips and malicious conversations, choose the company of happy and positive people, stop whining and start appreciating every morning and all the opportunities it presents. Life is too short, I've lost a few friends this year (Hello there in heaven, M, A and M!), and it cemented my take to live this awfully short life the most colorful way possible. 
  • You can't choose your family, but you can change your perspective. I've said it a thousand times and I can't be more grateful to have a huge, closely-knit family where everyone is kind and generous. But it's not to say we're perfect. 2013 has been a year of struggle, dealing with my parents and all the mood swings and behavioral changes that come with age. It tested my patience, questioned my values and almost drove me out of the house. But this year witnessed how a decision to change perspective improved my relationships and turned around some really bad days. And this is not only true for family, but for every relationship you'll ever have.
  • I only need so much. Whether friends, money, possessions, I only need so much. It's great to have many friends, but it's equally fine to only have a handful whom I can trust my life with. I definitely need money, and clothes, and shoes, but I know how not to equate them with happiness. The days when I tried to please everyone, and be worried sick about my worldly possessions are thankfully gone. Good riddance!
  • I found the love of my life in 2013. Funny how he's been with me for the past nine years, yet it's only this year that I've truly seen him and all his beauty. Some may say it's pressure, I say (and feel!) it's divine intervention. :)
  • No better day than today. If you miss someone, ring him today. If you want to ditch smoking, quit today. If you want to stay in shape, start working out today. Procrastination is the cousin of failure. 
I hope you had the merriest Christmas and I wish you a safe and spectacular New Year's Eve! Hugs!

Much Love,

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Pack Light: Tips from the amateur

It's been a week since I got back from an all girls trip to Boracay but I can still feel the island vibe and the laid back life. Therefore, it's just fitting that I write about traveling. And what's more appropriate for the budget airlines revolution than to talk about about HOW TO PACK LIGHT. No missing baggage, no long queue. There's truly merit in traveling with just a purse and a 7-kilogram hand carry.

Now I do not live and breathe traveling light. My control freak self becomes weary knowing I'll be in a foreign place with very little of my everyday comforts so I usually end up bringing more than what I can realistically use. In fact, it took me years of practice, a number of valuable items confiscated in the airport and one too many overbaggage fees before I finally get the hang of it. It differs from one individual to another actually. A seasoned backpacker can live out of a bag traveling the world for months. Others require a three-piece suitcase for a weekend trip. No judgment here, to each his own. 

Personally, I prefer to have checked-in baggage for longer trips that require different sets of wardrobe i.e. corporate attire, casual clothes, outdoor gears. Or for trips where shopping is inevitable and extra space comes into play on your flight home. But for weekend getaways like beach trips where, ehem, very little clothing is expected, then I'm perfectly fine with just my handbag and my trusted powder blue Samsonite backpack.

Want to hear about the things and tips I've learned along the way? Read on and let me know what you think. Share your tips, too! 

1. Make an outfit calendar. Seriously, mapping out your outfit for the rest of your trip is not just for vanity's sake. It will prevent you from bringing more that what you actually need. It's good to have a few extra pairs, but be sensible. You won't need 10 pairs for a 2-day trip, right? 

2. Go for versatility. Bring clothes and accessories that you can wear a number of ways or times. A good pair of denim shorts, a 2-in-1 flowy dress/skirt or a cardigan that you can style and wear more than once will make a lot of difference. A comfortable, closed flats is also a good idea. Good for walking and safe for places where no open toes/slippers is allowed.

3. Invest in good quality travel essentials. If you travel often, it's smart to invest in lightweight but durable items like backpack, sleeping bag and towels. Aquazorb offers ultralight but absorbent towels that easily fit in your bag. Visit your favorite outdoor and sports brands to check their latest offering for comfortable, light traveling. It's the name of the game nowadays!

4. My secret weapon --- SCARF. This is probably the most important thing I bring whenever I travel. It can warm you on a freezing flight, protect you from the scorching heat, double as a sarong and even substitute a beach mat. It can even spice up a rather boring shorts and shirts ensemble. Bring at least two and you're good to go!

5. Keep toiletries and makeup to a minimum and repack them in travel size bottles. Save yourself from hauling full bottles of shampoo, creams, lotions etc. Most toiletries are offered in smaller packages or even sachets. You can also repack in clear bottles and keep them in zip locks to prevent spills. Choose makeup that has multiple use. I usually go for BB creams because I get sunscreen, mositurizer and makeup base in one tube. Lip and cheek stains work wonders, too!

6. Drop the baggage and just enjoy the moment. Literally and figuratively. You're in a vacation. It's your chance to break free from worldly things that occupy your mind at home --- job, bills, possessions you may or may not need. Bring the least amount of "baggage" and decide on what truly counts and matters in your journey. You'll be surprised that you need a lot less than you thought. Sometimes, arriving in a new place carrying less will give more space for new things, opportunities, experiences, memories, even people!

That's me for now. Have fun in your next travel! :)

Much Love,
*photos from Google images