Re: 10 lessons the last 10 years taught me

With a brand new decade coming very shortly, I’m sure I’m not the only one who has been feeling extra reflective lately. A lot has happened over the past ten years, as they should. Life moves along regardless of whether or not we realize that another decade has come and gone. It’s our duty to live in it, learn from it and be grateful it happened. 

Distilling all of the lessons I learned over the past decade was easier than I initially anticipated. Frankly, because most of these lessons I haven’t fully understood. So here they are:

  1. Grief changes you. It changes you in a way that you never thought sadness could. After enough time passes by, grief also propels you to move on to the next chapter because your life persists. 
  2. Sometimes conflict is necessary for progress, but it is not an excuse to regurgitate accumulated anger. Address conflict with the goal to forgive. 
  3. Your definition of success changes. And it will continue to change as life changes you. 
  4. Understand your core values and stick by them. They will help guide your decisions and who you want to invite in your life. 
  5. Stand up for what you believe in. Even if the circumstances may seem daunting. Though this may not sound revolutionary, there’s a reason why it’s a popular expression. 
  6. Always keep a grateful heart.
  7. Assume that everyone is just trying their best. 
  8. Let yourself accept and claim love. God’s everlasting, pure love is not something you need to earn neither is it conditional. 
  9. Trust in God’s plan, and trust that He will be by your side every step of the way. You are on His time. 
  10. Love deeply and courageously. Beyond the gooey warm feelings. Beyond the arguments and disappointments. Beyond the fears and anxieties. Because loving someone is a commitment you make with yourself and the other person.  A choice you make everyday.

Always, 

K

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Dear Lisbon, Portugal

I had a lot of reservations before landing at your front doors as a solo traveller. English is not your mother tongue, and I knew very little about you. In fact, all I knew about you were: great sardines, coastal region and somewhere in Portugal. In some odd way, it felt liberating to know nothing yet nerve racking that I knew nothing. My expectations were nonexistent. With my bright green backpack, comfy running shoes and a heavy heart, there was no turning back.

Walking along your uneven mosaic tiled streets it felt like something was missing. I don’t know whether it was the abandoned buildings with new grass sprouting in between the concrete slabs or the empty Moorish castles once adorned with the finest of furnitures. It all felt sad. Fortunately, somehow I found solace amidst the melancholy floating like dense humid air on a summer’s day.  I was forced to sit in the sadness. An experience I never had before. It didn’t feel right at first. I was used to bucking up and not letting sadness phase me. Sadness used to be like an enemy I had to conquer. Not anymore. 

Going to Lisbon taught me that it’s okay to feel sad or angry. Lisbon, you taught me that feeling anything else that’s not happy or positive is as much part of our human experience as joy is. You taught me that just like those little broken tiles, everything comes together in the end somehow. All the cracks and distress between the edges are just earmarks for stories of people’s lives once lived. No tile is perfect. No life is perfect.

The culmination of our imperfect lives is what makes it real

Truth be told, going to Lisbon forced me to sit in the sadness I was feeling long before my trip began. The same sadness I carried across the North Atlantic Ocean with me. I thought that if I kept burying it with work it would eventually fritter away. Boy, was I wrong! It actually grew, and grew over time until everything just couldn’t be soaked in anymore. Sitting at the foot of my hotel bed, I started to weep. Lisbon, you taught me that it’s okay to feel sad for a moment or two or more. It’s okay to feel loss…to feel grief. 

They say that time heals all wounds, but what’s left unsaid is that wounds also leave scars. A tangible reminder of what was lost and what is missing. 

Always, 

K

P.S. This blog post is dedicated to a dear friend. Thank you for being a part of my life, then and for always. 

Though she be but little, she is fierce!” -William Shakespeare, Midsummer Night’s Dream

To my future children

I can’t wait to meet you. I can’t wait to watch you grow and see the people you’ll become. Most of all, I can’t wait to show you the world that God created for His children.

Year after year, your father and I will dread the moment you leave home in search of your independence and personhood. I hope to have instilled in you enough courage to take risks, with tremendous faith that God will be your guide, ally, and friend throughout your journey. I hope to teach you enough discipline to challenge yourself to do your best in everything you do. I hope to show you compassion and empathy to treat others with dignity and respect.

There may be times when you’d stumble. Or times when you may think that I would be mad enough to stop loving you or caring for you. Hear this now:

I will always support you. I will always forgive you. I will always love you.

That my darlings will never falter. Though, that also doesn’t mean that I won’t give you some tough love from time to time.

As I await the time you’d come into my life, please know that you are always in my thoughts and forever in my heart. I vow to slowly but surely blossom into the woman you would be proud to call your mother.

Always,

K (a.k.a your mom)

P.S. Don’t worry, I also vow to not be a helicopter parent. Mistakes and failures are pretty good teachers. Make them often.

Re: When you live life in gratitude

I was on the elevator on my way home from work when I felt a faint yet warm feeling of relief. Shoulders relaxed with a soft smile on my face, all I can think of was how thankful I am to be able to live the life that I do.

I’m not saying that to boast or to insinuate at all that I’m living life as comfortably as Nick Young’s family in Crazy Rich Asians. In fact, I’m far from that. Nonetheless, I still feel incredibly grateful to have a cozy home, food in the fridge, friends I can lean on and the spare change in my bank account after the rent money has been taken out.

You don’t have to live a perfect or lavish life to feel grateful.

Often we think of life as cruel because of the circumstances that life has dealt us. And absolutely, sometimes we go through a period of complete and utter despair. But the brilliant thing about being human is that even though life happens in all of its cruelties there will always be light when we choose to see it. Every hardship we go through comes with a lesson to learn, and more importantly, an element that makes us even more resilient.

When you live life in gratitude, it’s not about just looking at life through an optimistic lens. It’s seeing life for what it is – with all its messiness, stress, anger, uncertainty – and being okay with it. All of it. And doing so not because of complacency or passivity. But because you, as an individual part of a greater whole, are trying your best to be a better person, son/daughter, parent, friend, professional and so on anyway.

None of this is revolutionary. It’s just something that needs to be put out in the world more often.

Always have a grateful heart.

Always,

K