Hello, 35.

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As I am now a day older being a 35 years young, I wish to thank everyone who greeted me on my birthday. Whether my 35th is a milestone birthday or not is up for debate, but I think that as I look back at the past twelve months, the last ten, twenty years ago, I begin to think it might be even more a milestone birthday.

The last twelve months have not been all chipper, that’s for sure. It is a mix of victories, losses, highs, lows, happiness, sadness, and many stories of redemption. In fact, I am starting to think that my horoscope last year (I was born a pig, the year of; mind you) could not have been more accurate. In 2016, forecasting for 2017 beginning Lunar New Year, almost everything it said happened to an astonishing precision. Maybe the stars and the universe do conspire to make the publishing of horoscope books every CNY a profitable enterprise for astrologers and geomancers. Feng shui stores and bookstores sell them at a premium!

My 35th feels like an entirely new chapter and I welcome it to be one leaving no time nor space (in the mind and heart) for any regret, angst, or hateful (or bashful) feelings anymore especially that, speaking of conspiracy, it seems that all my prayers have been answered. The universe is listening and has never failed to give what it thinks we truly deserve. So much so that strange occurrences that may cause us harm or to be hurt become essential to usher one along the right, prescribed, and well-deserved path.

Looking back, maybe there would not have been any better way to experience life but exactly in the way that I experienced it because it allowed me to discover a formidable inner strength that has, so far (at least), helped me weather the challenges I faced and emerge unscathed, happy, and content. I realised through real life experience that I am only as strong as my principles are. It allowed me to see past the people who have hurt me and to forgive them for good just as it gave me the courage to forgive myself for the things that make me fallible, irrational, imperfect. And with that, I learnt that the best way to enjoy life’s most precious gifts is to simply let life happen almost short of saying, ‘go with the flow and be free.’

My experiences in the last twelve months have also taught me an invaluable skill: measuring up people. It taught me to trust completely or never and not trust at all. There is no compromise when it comes to trust; and I have learnt that the best people who are just as trusting are the ones you can trust even more. Distrustful people tend to carry with them a rather heavy cloud that only brings you down and never up. I am not sure about what others prefer, but I prefer to be around happy, trusting people. Big learning there.

That is not to dilute the joys I have experienced in the last twelve months. In fact, I would even say that the last twelve months have given me tremendous joys from love, family, friendship, entrepreneurship and self-discovery. My time with Pablo, I would say, has been one of the greatest highlights from the past year. I have gotten to know him and see him grow up, which in the business as usual scenario would have been impossible or hard to achieve. I have grown a special bond with him that I consider to be a wonderful gift any dad could wish to have. I enjoyed every chance I got to spend time with the little one and would not trade it for anything else even if you had to pay me a million bucks. Maybe not even ten.

I have also met new friends who also became long-term partners in addressing a huge gap in the industry today. I am not going to start a litany of what ought to be here, but I am glad to know that there is a group out there that is profoundly invested in driving real innovation for both corporates and society. And little by little, one by one, this group will grow to be an irrefutable proof of how much innovation marketing, advertising, brands, companies is needed to survive the maelstrom of challenges that await those who turn a blind eye on signs of terrifying obsolescent thinking (and doing). The fruits of innovation will be shared amongst those who have given the human condition a central role in the business of doing only what is truly good and not just for show.

The last twelve months also saw a major shift in my life in which I took a step closer towards a long-held aspiration: to earn a Ph.D. in Economics. I have always known that there would come a time in my life that there would no longer be any excuses to not do it especially that, in my hearts of hearts, my ultimate vocation is to teach. Not too long ago — in fact it has just been over a month — I started my journey towards that ambition. I could only imagine the possibilities following the hopefully not too long a journey towards earning the degree, one of which would definitely be teaching at the university. There seems to be a serendipitous (almost unlikely) coalescing of marketing and economics that has started to energise me. The signs are out there, yet again, that I am, indeed, on the right path. That excites me a lot.

I have also found a renewed sense of passion for fitness as I joined CrossFit and found in it a very supportive community at Central Ground where I made new friends who are likewise genuinely interested not only in fitness but in each other’s wellness (happiness, health, sense of community/fraternity/brotherhood/sisterhood/family). For a long time, I have dismissed the idea of joining the sport, but I think I made the right choice especially in which box or, more appropriately, community to join. To feel ‘incomplete’ after missing a few sessions must mean something. Or, actually, a lot.

If you have gone this deep into my post, you would already know that I am no Superman as the kid in this photo seems to visually suggest. But there are real superhumans in my life and I wish to take this opportunity to, first, foremost, above all the stuff I have written about here, thank them here: my husband who has made all my days shine bright like there would never ever be a storm (or in our case in the Philippines, typhoons) that could bring this family down. Ever. Rhex’s strength is twice, or even thrice, of mine. He has been a great source of inspiration and strength… and laughter. His love is truly and deeply inspiring all the time. I am blessed to have a husband who is supportive just as he is loving and caring at the same time. My mum whose care and love have never missed a beat. I could only wish to have more time with my Mum as days are now getting busier again. My Ate Ellaine whose support give me confidence and courage. My Ate Charis, Kuya Robert, Ate Arwen, Kuya Abet, my Dad, Oma, Ate Erika, Daddy Romy, Mommy Flory, Gin whose support and love have given us continued joy to relish life’s gifts and the confidence to weather life’s craziest curveballs. And of course, the love of my life, my Pablo whose voice alone saying “Papa!” as I come home from wherever I came from gives me a lot of joy and a deep sense of purpose.

In the last 24 hours, I have spent an equal amount of time on the things I love most: sleep, time with loved ones, working out, writing, and wine at 5PM. If this were a sign of what lies ahead, then I am in. Here’s to 35 years on earth and the exciting journey towards 40. Maybe in between would be another milestone birthday that is filled with continued and ever stronger optimism, joy, and love. Here’s to you, too!

 

 

 

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