To my 30-year-old self

I’m writing this days before our birthday weekend. I’ve actually tried to write this earlier, but something felt off. And the truth of the matter is, I think I was trying to write that letter too smug. We may have learned a lot in the past decade, but we’re still a work in progress. Some days, months or years may come better than others but we’ll still need to work on ourselves every day. Not necessarily to reach perfection, just to be a little bit better every day. Better on ourselves, other people, and the world. 

20s was a decade filled with memories for the ages. Exciting adventures at unfamiliar landscapes, heartbreaks, disappointments, achievements and new beginnings. You’ve shown up for yourself in ways that you never thought you needed to. You’ve grown to love yourself and actually like yourself, even if you do get snotty sometimes and may need some reassurance from time to time. You’ve accepted the freedom of being wrong and being wrong often (sometimes we still need to accept this more if we’re really being honest). You’ve started to have more faith and trust, even when times feel desolate and futile. You’ve allowed yourself to feel every crashing wave of emotion instead of holding your breath until it passes. And you’ve been humbled, and continue to be humbled, to know that you didn’t do any of this on your own. You’ve been gifted the strength to fight through circumstances, but nothing compares to the grace, love, joy, courage, wisdom, peace, and power that surrendering to Christ brings. He is your most trusted friend, heavenly father and faithful partner.

There’s so much to look forward to, even if they are unknown. Many more things to learn and unlearn. And even if sharing with your best friend, Tatay and Nanay, may not be physically possible, they’ll be here in mind, heart and sometimes with a little attitude to bring yours down back to Earth. It’s okay to miss them and wish they were here. That’s part of grieving and moving forward.

Lean into your discomfort. To access the deepest and undiscovered parts of you, you have to let yourself sink into the discomfort. Floating only keeps you on the surface, wandering and wondering – half in and half out. You and I know that staying on the superficial surface has never been our style. So sink. Forgotten shipwrecks remain dormant underneath the surface could still carry treasures. You found the one true refuge amidst a shipwreck, remember?

And one last thing before I leave, you’re going to hate this but I’m going to say it anyway, fall in love with someone else again. You know how to love unconditionally, that’s not what I’m saying. Fall in love again slowly, and let yourself be loved… I saw that eye roll. Do it for us and because we deserve to. 

Always,

K

P.S. Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

Dear 2021

Boy did you come with very unexpected surprises! Some pleasant, some not so pleasant. All in very interesting timing. You’ve inherited COVID with absolutely no choice, and it most likely will be part of our regular vernacular for years to come whether or not the pandemic dies down soon. I think by now, we’re all pretty exhausted, rattled and/or fed up. And yet, I still stand by what I said last year…there’s hope for something bigger than ourselves amidst all of this. 

Upon reflecting on the past year, I kept circling back to the notion that chaos is necessary to move things forward. We can see this manifested in nature, people, culture and so on. If we look at the labour market alone, remote working conditions are prioritized, top talents are choosing to leave their high-profile jobs to start their own ventures and conversations about what it means to be an effective leader in this day and age finally included traits like empathy. Sometimes we need a little chaos (or a lot depending on the situation) to shake things up and challenge our core. So if I had to choose, the word that comes to mind when I think about 2021, it would be chaos

In today’s definition, the word chaos means being in a state of confusion, disarray or disorder. Although the origins of the word are suggested to come from the Greek word cháos or an open formless space, an abyss or void. Interesting isn’t it? How meaning evolved to denote space and time into a feeling about something. And that something is often out of our control. It feels chaotic to us because we can’t control the outcome we want to have or expect to receive. It feels chaotic to us because we don’t understand what’s going on. But did we actually fully understand before? 

Chaos compels us to trust. To trust in God. To trust that He is in control. To trust that He is an immovable fortress. To trust ourselves enough to try to make wise choices, albeit perceived high or low risks. To trust that if something fails or is not completely what we expected that we won’t fall apart. 

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

Genesis 1:1-3

As 2021 comes to a close, let’s remember that the everlasting light that shines ever so bright will set us free from the chaos towards creation and abundance. 

Always, 

K

P.S. Chaos Theory + tabula rasa. 

Dear Tatay

I woke up this morning with the sun shining as bright as can be and the skies blue and cloudless. The sound of my clock just outside my bedroom continued to tick-tock away, oblivious to the one hour we get back from the start of daylight savings. Full eight hours of sleep AND I get an hour back, PLUS a quiet Sunday with no plans but to nap, snack/eat and go for a walk. I live for Sundays like today. Yet throughout the morning, my body felt glum. Sadness crept in and before I knew it, tears started to roll down my cheeks. I kept asking myself, “Why are you crying? What do you feel sad about?” And it took me most of the morning to realize… It has been exactly a month today since you passed. They said that the body keeps score, I guess they were right.

I’ve felt at peace over the past few weeks knowing that you’re at peace now. It was really hard at first, and I kept remembering your smiling face. Most, if not all of my memories of you are you smiling one way or another. But for some reason, the prevailing memory that I kept remembering was of you and me riding the tricycle to the beach and you specifically telling me not to put my hand on the bike tires. My curious little self was adamant about wanting to know why and what that sensation might feel like. Well, it hurt like how rotating rubber on the skin would and I found out why. You were annoyed, but not upset. You didn’t yell at me or get mad. I don’t remember much about that day after that, aside from going to the beach anyway. 

You’re with Nanay now, but don’t tell her that you were my favourite. You made me laugh; danced with me; taught me how to play solitaire (after I insisted on watching you); how to fish (I assume to keep me quiet); negotiated with me when I didn’t want to share my favourite Ligo sardines; took care of me when I was sick and watched me slowly grow. With the same small almond-shaped eyes and tan skin, you helped me feel like I belonged. Thank you for your patience. Thank you for the lightness and calm you brought to my heart. Thank you for encouraging me to do my best and always being proud of whatever outcome. Thank you for giving me the privilege to be your granddaughter. 

Some days I miss you more than others. And I wish you could meet the family I hope to have someday, the friends I have and be a part of the life I continue to be in. Then I remember that you are here, perhaps not physically but you are. In the birthday letters I’ve kept, in the impromptu at-home dance parties to Mambo No.5 while cleaning, and the bellowing laughs when something is really funny.

Or when someone tells me, “Pull my finger.” 

Always, 

K

Re: Like a force to be reckoned with

I stumbled upon a musician on Spotify while looking for a podcast about the different Enneagram types. Ryan O’Neal under the name Sleeping At Last produced an album celebrating all nine types of the Enneagram, telling stories of redemption through beautifully crafted music. 

If you haven’t heard of the Enneagram, the Enneagram is a model of understanding our diverse human personality types and psyche. Not necessarily a means for categorizing people in our lives or beyond, but a way for us to have more empathy and compassion with each other as we experience the world together. There are nine types numbered between one to nine, and three intelligent centres (body, mind and heart). By all means, I am no expert so please do take the time to research more about it. That said, after taking the test and reading more about the Enneagram I find myself identifying with the type two or type two wing three if you want to get specific. 

Listening to Ryan’s podcast about the songs he created for the nine enneagram types undeniably pulled on my heartstrings – hard. The intentionality with every instrument, every lyric, melody, tempo and so on. It inspired me more than enough to write this blogpost and share his podcast episodes amongst my friends. Most of all, his songs made me feel seen in a big way during a time of trying to combat my own fears and anxieties. The ebbs and flows of how I’ve reflected on my identity as a human being is evolving over the years. I am so grateful for incredible artists like Ryan who are able to convey stories of our humanity with all its parts. Our victories, brokenness, transitions and redemption. 

Admittedly I’m still reflecting on the lyrics Ryan used for the three songs I’ve connected with the most – Two, Three and Eight. The lyrics for the song Two hits home and so that’s how I’ll be signing off for this post. Below is a link to Ryan’s video of the song Two and right below that are the lyrics written out.

*All rights reserved to Sleeping At Last

Two

Sweetheart, you look a little tired
When did you last eat?
Come in and make yourself right at home
Stay as long as you need
Tell me, is something wrong?
If something’s wrong, you can count on me
You know I’ll take my heart clean apart if it helps yours beat

It’s okay if you can’t find the words
Let me take your coat
And this weight off of your shoulders

Like a force to be reckoned with
A mighty ocean or a gentle kiss
I will love you with every single thing I have
Like a tidal wave, I’ll make a mess
Or calm waters, if that serves you best
I will love you without any strings attached

It’s okay if you can’t catch your breath
You can take the oxygen straight out of my own chest

I know exactly how the rule goes
Put my mask on first
No, I don’t want to talk about myself
Tell me where it hurts
I just want to build you up, build you up
‘Til you’re good as new
And maybe one day I will get around to fixing myself too

I don’t even know where to start
Already tired of trying to recall when it all fell apart
I just want to love you, to love you, to love you well
I just want to learn how, somehow, to be loved myself

Like a force to be reckoned with
A mighty ocean or a gentle kiss
I will love you without any strings attached
And what a privilege it is to love
A great honor to hold you up

Like a force to be reckoned with
A mighty ocean or a gentle kiss

I will love you with every single thing I have
Like a tidal wave, I’ll make a mess
Or calm waters if that serves you best
I will love you without any strings attached
I will love you without a single string attached

Always, 

K

P.S. Water has many amazing properties and complex characteristics. It has the strength to tear down buildings, wear down organic and inorganic materials yet it’s equally a fuel for things to come alive and for animals to have a home. Assertive, playful, calming, transformative and sweet.