Monday, July 23, 2018

How to open your chakras according to the guru of the Avatar

This summer, my kids and I became addicted to this old show, Avatar: The Last Airbender. It's old because it was first broadcast on Nickelodeon in 2005 and gained a popular following over its three-year run. It's a critically acclaimed, multi-awarded, truly entertaining animated series that follows the adventures of Avatar Aang in his quest to unify the four nations—Fire, Earth, Air, and Water. To do this, he must first master himself and his powers to bend (or to wield) the forces of nature to do his bidding. He discovers friends and mentors along the way who teach him not only how to navigate a dangerous world at war but also to control his emotions, thoughts, fears, and ultimately his powers.

It's a really good show! I'm so happy it's streaming now on Netflix because that's how my kids and I discovered it. I think it's the best animated series I've ever watched!

I watched it with my kids and there wasn't any scene that caused me to worry or be alarmed. Yep, no bad words, no misogyny, no sexy time. There were so many things my kids and I learned together about friendship, responsibility over one's talents, duty towards other people, the dangers of nationalism (so relevant in these times!), and self-control above all.

I'm 41 and I'm better now at controlling my temper, my tongue, my thoughts, my anxiety, my spending... myself basically. But it took so many years and I may be better at it but I'm still not good at it. There's so much to subdue, rein in, control, understand still! If there's anything I learned most from Avatar, it's this: When you master yourself, then everything else is easy.

How does one master oneself? First, recognize what you need and desire, identify the fears and negative emotions that stop you from achieving what you want, and release all those negative energy. Only then can you have complete control of yourself and understanding of others and the world. Easier said than done! 

In the Avatar, a guru tells Aang how to release his energy, or chakras. When your chakras are blocked, your energy to achieve things can't be released. And if you don't have any energy, good luck getting anything done! Here's the video of the scene from Avatar but I'll type it down below anyway, in case you're at work and can't put the volume up haha. Then I'll do a little personal working-mama-related note after each chakra description.   

"Chakras are pools of spiralling energy in our bodies. There are seven chakras that go up the body. Each pool of energy has a purpose, and can be blocked by a specific kind of emotional mark. Be warned: Opening the chakras is an intense experience, and once you begin this process, you can not stop until all seven are open.

"The first chakra is the EARTH chakra, located at the base of the spine. It deals with survival, and is blocked by fear.

"What are you most afraid of? Let your fears become clear to you. You are concerned about your survival, but you must surrender those fears. Let your fears flow down the creek."

Survival sounds so dramatic but isn't that our every goal—to survive this day? As working mothers, we have too much on our plate and some days feel like they're going to kill us. Seriously! What are the fears that force me to keep myself on a punishing schedule? Fear of failing as a career woman, fear of failing as a mother, fear of neglecting my marriage, fear of running out of money. Funny thing is all these things I do out of fear makes me ineffective in every role!

"Next is the WATER chakra. This chakra deals with pleasure and is blocked by guilt. [Note: research told me this chakra is located in the sex organ or pubic bone. Since Avatar is a kiddie show, I guess they couldn't say that haha]

"Look at all the guilt that burdens you so. What do you blame yourself for? Now accept the reality that these things happened. But do not let them cloud and poison your energy. If you are to be a positive influence on the world, you need to forgive yourself."

I think all working moms are plagued with guilt. I've always heard of mom guilt but I've never heard of dad guilt. Why is that?! That's because men are never made to feel guilty about pursuing their passions, making money, and providing for their family. We women, we're only supposed to devote all our time and energy on our family so when we do something else that takes time away from our family, people make us feel bad. We have also internalized this belief so much that we make ourselves feel bad!

How many times has guilt stopped yourself from enjoying your job? How many times have you felt so amazing after an impressive presentation and then beat yourself up because you missed your kid's soccer practice preparing for that presentation?

You know what I feel guilty about? I enjoy work more than motherhood sometimes. Many times, to be really honest. It's hard for me to admit that because here comes all the judgment! Work is less frustrating and more predictable. You work, you like what you did, you get paid for it. Sometimes you even get praised for what you've done. The rewards are immediately felt and seen. The rewards are expected.

Motherhood? Well, sometimes you try and try all day and your reward is "I hate you, Mama." Sometimes you try your hardest and you give your best and NOTHING happens, not even a thank you. And then a new fear-and-guilt combo plagues me: Am I doing a good job? Are my kids jerks or am I just a bad mother? What kind of a mother am I if I think my kids are jerks??? Will what I do ever be enough? Do I really love them if I sometimes feel like I just want to give up? There you go: Guilt prevents me from enjoying motherhood!

"Third is the FIRE chakra, located in the stomach. This chakra deals with willpower, and is blocked by shame.

"What are you ashamed of? What are your biggest disappointments in yourself? You will never find balance if you deny this part of your life."

Shame is a bottomless pit. Don't fall in it, mamas. Shame prevents you from achieving anything because you just don't want to face the world and be confronted with what you've done in the past. I'm ashamed of many things in my working mama life. When I used to be a magazine editor, I let it get into my head. I became arrogant. I'm ashamed of that. When I was a new mom again to my second boy and I had just lost my editor-in-chief job, I was so scared of my unemployed status, I accepted lots of freelance work. But because I had a new baby and too many assignments, I failed to meet deadlines. The people who hired me got angry at me and never got me again. I am so ashamed of that!

Because of my shame, I was afraid to ask people to give me another chance. I was scared to work with certain people or ask for referrals because I'm sure they'll say bad things about me (and much deserved, too). You know what I did? I apologized to each and every person I disappointed. Some of them forgave me, some didn't—and I understand. What matters is I owned up to my mistakes and from there I was able to have the willpower to move on, unencumbered by shame.

"The fourth chakra is LOVE, located in the heart. It deals with love and is blocked by grief.

"Lay all your grief out in front of you. Love is a form of energy, and it swirls all around us. A love of your lost ones has not left this world, it is still inside of your heart; and it is reborn in a form of new love. Let it flow through you."

I'm going to talk about this chakra strictly in terms of work. As most of my Loyal Readers know, all I ever wanted to be in my life was to be an editor-in-chief of an international magazine. It happened when I was just 30 years old but within 6 years, my dream career crashed around me when the internet killed magazines.

It's hard to love work and any kind of work after that. I still love my magazine job more than anything I've done, even my blogging career which has paid me more than the publishing industry ever had, has brought me more opportunities than magazines ever did, and allows me to stay home and be with my family. Blogging is much kinder and more generous to me than magazine publishing, but I fail to appreciate it fully because I'm still grieving over my dream magazine career.

I just typed all that and realized I'm in a MUCH BETTER place and I can't love it??? Goodness me! What a fool I am! I'm going to let go of this grief and love blogging wholeheartedly now!

"The fifth in the chain is the SOUND chakra, located in the throat. It deals with the truth, and is blocked by lies, the ones we tell ourselves.

"You can not lie about your own nature. You must accept yourself as you are."

Not an issue. You all know I'm all about truth, honesty and integrity! But many of us can't accept the truth of who we are, of what we want, what we believe in. We live from fear to fear, from day to day, from pay check to pay check, without giving a thought to what we really want in this life. Mindful living is such a trendy term these days but I think we should pay attention to it. Be mindful of your thoughts, words, actions. You'd be living a life of true integrity when everything is aligned!

"The sixth pool of energy is the LIGHT chakra, located in the center of the forehead. It deals with insight, and is blocked by illusion.

"The greatest illusion of this world is the illusion of separation. Things you think are separate and different are actually one and the same. We are all one people, but we live as if divided. We are all connected, and everything is connected. Even the separation of the four elements is an illusion. If you open your mind, you will see that all the elements are one; four parts of the same whole. Even metal is just a part of earth that has been purified and refined."

From a purely working mama perspective, sometimes we compartmentalize our lives in an attempt to organize it. We hate our job when we should be grateful for it because it provides for our families. We resent our families because we can't seize career opportunities because of them. Instead, we should appreciate our life's phases and find opportunities within them.

For example, I'm a mom of three small kids. There's hardly any time for work when you're a fully hands-on mom. Instead of resenting my kids, I discovered mommy blogging and how lucrative it could be! So I may not be a famous writer or a magazine editor or a newspaper columnist but I'm earning money as a mommy blogger. My family inspired my new job. I don't know how long this job will last but I'm learning to let my life inspire my work because everything is connected.

"The final chakra is the THOUGHT chakra and is located at the crown of the head. It deals with pure cosmic energy and is blocked by earthly attachment.

"Once you open this chakra, you will be able to go in the state of mind where you will have complete control and awareness of all your actions. Meditate on what attaches you to this world. Now, let all of those attachments go, let them flow down the river; forgotten. You must learn to let go, otherwise you won’t be able to let the pure cosmic energy flow in from the Universe."

In Avatar, this is the chakra Aang had a hard time releasing. He couldn't understand why he had to let go of the people he loved most to be able to achieve the avatar state. As a wife and mother, I can understand. Our families are the most precious people to us! But I always remember the story of Abraham and Isaac. Remember that (horrible) story when God commanded Abraham to lay his only son, Isaac, on an altar and sacrifice the child to God? I CAN'T DO THAT! But Abraham obeyed without question (but definitely with grief and sorrow) and God spared them both. He now knew that Abraham's priority is his faith in God and nothing—not even his precious son—can stop him from obeying God. This led him to do great and mighty things for the Lord.

In my case, I have always nurtured a tender detachment from my sons. I love them, okay. More than the world, more than my life! But even when they were still in my tummy, all I focused on was the truth that they aren't mine. I'm just preparing them for their purpose, their future families. My one purpose as a mother is to prepare them for a life WITHOUT ME. If they can't function without their parents, then I failed as a parent. The best thing a parent can do for their kids is to let them go.

And that's it! The seven chakras and how to release them! Wasn't that amazing? I suggest we do a weekly evaluation of our fears and negative emotions, meditate on how they're stopping us from achieving great things, and then release them. Good luck, mamas! I hope this post helped you!

Avatar: The Last Airbender is now on Netflix. If you have the time, do watch it with your kids. It's amazing!

*Chakra image from MP3 Meditation Club. Visit their website to have a deeper understanding of chakras.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

How Mr Muscle® helps me keep our toilet clean while potty training

Good news, mamas! We're done with potty training our youngest boy, Piero! We’ve been talking to him about it and he was resisting it for the longest time but when he turned 4 years old two weeks ago, he just suddenly decided to go for it! There have been a few mess-ups, but fewer than expected, so we’re so very proud of our potty-trained little boy. Hooray!

To deal with the accidents, I’ve been cleaning the bathroom more often these days. So, if you’re a toilet-training mama like me, let me share with you a few toilet-cleaning tips so that the frustrations of potty-training won't be worsened. Here we go! 

1. Keep cleaning materials in the bathroom. 
When we didn't have kids, it was okay to clean the bathroom once a week so the cleaning supplies were stored away in the utility area. But when you have little boys—even those who are already potty-trained—the bathroom gets stinky and dirty fast. 

To combat this, clean the toilet every day. Just wipe it down. Won't take you 5 minutes, mamas! What I do is keep a spray bottle of diluted bathroom cleaner like Mr Muscle® Bathroom Cleaner in the bathroom and spray the toilet area regularly. Mix 2 parts of Mr Muscle® Bathroom Cleaner with 1 part water. Just spray down the toilet seat, toilet seat cover, and anywhere else that may have fecal matter (like the flush handle and walls. You never know!). Then using the bidet, I just rinse the sprayed surfaces and wipe dry. 

2. Keep a special-purpose trash can near the bowl. 
Place a trash can specially devoted to soiled diapers near the toilet. It seems obvious but the bathroom trash can is usually just for facial tissue, cotton buds, and dental floss. Keep a smaller one lined with a biodegradable plastic bag and you and your child can deposit soiled diapers and wet wipes here. It's easier to empty it daily and the bathroom won't stink up. 

3. Use the best toilet-cleaning products (like the powerful toilet-cleaning product, Mr Muscle®!). 
I need to mention this because my kasambahays before would use laundry detergent or muriatic acid or rubbing alcohol to clean the bathroom. No! You need to use a toilet bowl cleaner and a sturdy toilet brush at least once per week to clean inside the toilet bowl. These are especially made for the toilet—the extended-reach neck of Mr Muscle® is especially designed to reach under the toilet rim better and the toilet brush is specifically made to fit the hole of the bowl—so please use them. 

I like to use Mr Muscle® Foaming Bleach Gel because it foams and freshens for a more powerful clean than basic bleach. 

A daily clean-up sounds like a lot of work but actually just spending a few minutes each day cleaning the bathroom after your child uses it means less time and scrubbing when you do your weekly deep clean. And as a working mama with no kasambahays, I really believe in using products that work harder so that I won't have to. In this case, I highly recommend Mr Muscle® Foaming Bleach Gel because just a little goes a long way. It cleans, disinfects, and whitens my toilet in just 5 minutes. And the bathroom smells soooo good after. Yep, even though my little boys abuse that porcelain throne with their enthusiastic peeing and pooping every day! With Mr Muscle®, I clean less and live more! I get to spend more time with my kids—and also get to work and clean the house, too. How amazing is that? Mamas, always choose household products that help you be more efficient! 

The new Mr Muscle® Foaming Bleach Gel is available at all leading supermarkets for as low as (SRP) P95 for 500ml. Like the Facebook page of Mr Muscle® for more information. 

*This post is brought to you by Mr Muscle® Foaming Bleach Gel.

Monday, July 16, 2018

What I wore last week

Here's the next episode of my OOTD details! You know, I'd actually watch a show of my favorite style stars talking about how they put their outfits together. I bet it would be so fun plus it's going to be full of tips on what goes with what. Why is there no show like this???

Anyway, till that happens, we'll just do my OOTDs! Not because may balak ako maging fashion blogger. To be honest, the last 7 years or so, wala na talaga akong pakialam sa damit ko. Comfort and efficiency above all! I don't think I dressed too sloppily but it is a slippery slope when you live in daster and sweats, diba? So I was looking through my Instagram last year and I think I slowly realized I looked like crap hahahahahaha

We're going to sloooooowly change that this year, mamas! Again, I have no plans to become a fashionista. No budget! Lahat ng budget napupunta sa grocery and tuition kaloka! So I'm going to have to get creative with what's in my closet. Here's what I wore this week with the clothes I've had in there for years:

Lunch with family! I paired my favorite Topshop pajama pants with an off-shoulder blouse from Casual Chic Manila (shop here). I used to just wear these pants with t-shirts but my husband Vince said I look like I'm going to go to sleep so he suggested I pair it with nice tops para hindi ako mukhang nakapambahay. And so I did. What do you think of this look?

My favorite piece ever since lumaki balakang ko: midi-skirts! These are full skirts that cinch the waist and make hips and butt look sexy not fat. I got this skirt from Zalora and I love its deep pockets. Every woman in the world needs pockets! The shirt is from Uniqlo. The ballet flats are Mango. This is one of my go-to outfits.

Sundo duties means dapat comfortable ako. I usually wear a t-shirt and shorts when I fetch my kids from school but I leveled up with a silky blouse. Problema lang is mainit so dumidikit talaga siya sa pawis so maybe I'll wear this blouse kapag aircon lang ang pupuntahan ko. Scallop-hem shorts are Mango, blouse is from Cole Vintage, backpack is H&M.

I use my backpack a lot now because my spine is bending to my right side because heavy bags. Moms always have heavy bags. Plus, with 3 kids in tow every weekday, I need my hands. This is one of my mommy uniforms. Simple and easy to throw on. But if I didn't have my kids with me, I'd wear it with a big belt, chunky necklace, platform heels, and a tote.

Here's another of my mommy uniforms—shirt and shorts! That's a knit sleeveless top from Zara, shorts from Zalora, Melissa sandals (kasi minsan lang ako may pedicure so ipakita!), and my Kate Spade tote. Super pambahay look hehe Usually, I wear a bright lipstick to offset the pambahay outfit but sobra akong tamad this day! 

Hindi ako tamad this day, though! I really like this top I'm wearing! It's a cowl-neck blouse from Pastel and Paisley (shop here). Cowl necks, turtlenecks and long-sleeved shirts (and let's not forget silk blouses) are usually not a good idea in our climate but since this is made by a local brand, it's manipis and magaan so hindi mainit. I paired it with Mango jeans, Dune flats, and my Fino doctor's bag that Vince gave me 10 years ago. I wish I used another photo na mas cute si Piero but a manong guard took this photo and he said one picture lang daw kasi baka mapagalitan siya.

And that's this week's instalment! If there's anything I'm learning from my OOTD updates is I need to add more color to my wardrobe and I have to make my mommy uniforms more interesting! Okay rin pala ang naka-document ang outfits ko on Instagram (follow me!) kasi I become more mindful of what I wear. I hope this makes me strive to look my best!