Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Review: My new Skechers GOwalk 3 sneakers

My husband said out of the blue, “Hell has frozen over.” That’s because he saw my shoes in a pile in the hallway but instead of the sky-high heels he associated me with, he saw ballet flats and sneakers. It was the sneakers that did it actually since I had switched to flats when I got pregnant with Vito more than five years ago. Then the day came that I had to run after little boys, and I switched to sneakers because ballet flats just can’t compete with seriously fast little legs.

So, yep, I’m now a sneaker mama!

Who else has the same experience, trading her heels for sneakers? 

Who’d have thunk it that I’d love my comfy mommy lifestyle? And I love that my new propensity to seek comfort has not meant I've sacrificed style. In fact, I'm finding it fun to match my for-heels-only clothes with my new sneaks. Or shorts, at least. So fun to be ultra comfy now in shorts and sneakers!

I picked out my new Skechers GOwalk 3 last week. I chose this pair because I've never had black sneakers before. I love it. It is sooooo comfortable! I first fell in love with Skechers because of my GOwalk 2. Then I needed shoes for the gym and so I got Skechers Sport, which I love, too. But I wanted shoes I can wear outside the gym and onto the streets and so I checked out the latest walking shoe of Skechers. 
While out for work...
...and while working out!

The GOwalk 3 offers a more comfortable walking experience, whether I'm on flat streets or on rocky terrain. I don't slip at all. And since the sole is a bit wide, I also don't trip, which happens when I'm wearing narrow shoes. I'm guessing it's because I lose my balance? However, since my feet are narrow, I noticed that I really needed to lace up my shoes tight or else my feet start moving about too much inside the shoe.

Anyway, close up photos first:
This came with black and white laces but I switched it to all black. 
Love that black material it's made of! Parang tela so my feet don't get hot. 
I also like this hole! It makes slipping on the shoe much easier.

The GOwalk 3 has Goga Mat™ Technology. That means it has high-rebound cushioning—walking on marshmallows, I keep saying, and it still feels like it! It also has Memory Form Fit design. That means the foam padding around the heel doesn't flatten with use. So I can keep on walking and walking and walking!

When I turn over my GOwalk 3, I see pink circles. That's not just decoration. Those are the GOimpulse and GO Pillar sensors that provide more flexibility. I read that it also gives you feedback for a more responsive walking experience. I don't know how that works so I can't explain it but I do feel like my body feels better—like I don't get tired easily from walking. I guess that means my body is responding on its own to the shoes. It also helps that these shoes are super light. When you pick them out sa store shelves, it feels weird at first how light they are. Like I think, "Are these strong enough? They're practically weightless!" Guys, they are super strong. I've read reviews from marathon runners attesting to the strength and durability, comfort and flexibility of Skechers.

Love them! Go get a pair now, too! Even my sons love their Skechers. I'll do a post on their shoes soon!

Check out the Skechers GOwalk 3 at the following Skechers stores: Glorietta 2, TriNoma, Ayala Fairview Terraces, SM North Edsa The Annex, SM Mall of Asia, Robinsons Galleria, Robinsons Place Manila, Gateway Mall, Lucky Chinatown, Market Market, Festival Mall, Alabang Town Center, SM Fairview, SM Dasmarinas, Paseo Sta. Rosa, Marquee Mall, SM Pampanga, SM Clark, Ayala Center Cebu, SM City Cebu, SM Davao, Centrio Mall Cagayan de Oro and LimKetKai Mall CDO. Also available at SM Stores: SM Makati, SM Manila, SM Megamall and SM North EDSA.

Visit Skechers on FacebookFollow @SkechersPH on Twitter and Instagram! 

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Monday, September 28, 2015

Goop helps new men's lifestyle brand Covetton. The advice is gold!

And golden tips not just for Stephen Colbert but also for everyone with a lifestyle blog or website. Like me!

But first, a background:

Last week, new The Late Show host Stephen Colbert poked fun at all the lifestyle brands popping up everywhere. Watch:

Hilarious because it's so very true—every single thing he said. But, hey, I love Gwyneth, Reese, Ellen, and Blake! Why? Because unlike many people, I don't want my celebrities to be just like us. I want them to be gorgeous and perfect, impeccably dressed, living a lifestyle that is so impossibly fantastic, that will always be beyond my reach. I want them to be goddesses. I mean, there are women that inspire me to be better, to make me aspire for more. Then there are women that I just want to entertain me, and not entertain with tabloid drama but with an ethereal, out-of-my-world kind of lifestyle.

Yes, I love all these lifestyle brands my favorite celebrities are doing! Even though we all know that their brands border on the ridiculous!

I loved it especially when Gwyneth, my former life peg (former because her marriage ended and I can't aspire for that!), retorted to Colbert's mockery of her Goop-ness with this clever article: 6 Fail-Proof Tips for Launching a Men's Lifetsyle Site. I snorted with laughter when I read this welcoming line, "It's about time someone brought a sausage or two to this clam bake."

What I appreciated more was the advice she gives. Here's the not-so-funny summary hidden underneath her 6 cheeky tips:

1. Look good.
In the world of social media, what you look like matters. Whether you see that as fortunate or unfortunate, that's how the online world works. People think if you look good, you're credible. It's not as shallow as it sounds. If you want people to think you care about what you write about, then you must care about all the other details—including your appearance.

2. Be in the know.
You have to be the first to report an event, a new find, a new recipe, a new everything. But as there is, crazily enough, nothing new under the sun, you can also just retell something old in a fresh new angle, give it a new spin, make it your own. If you're the first, people will share your article or photo. If you're original, then even better.

3. Promote in every way you know.
In the vastness of cyberspace, how do you stand out? Yep, you may be original but if no one knows about it, then all is for naught. Use SEO, use click bait (ugh, I know everyone hates this but it works), and promote your blog/product/website/article on every social media platform.  

4. Create a reputation for curation.
Share what you love. Be generous with what you know. People like finding out about new stuff, what works, what doesn't, what's worth spending on. You don't have to be Goop-levels about it, but once people know you like certain things—from colors and words you constantly use to food and places you adore!—they associate you with it and will always think about you when they encounter it. For example, I always think of George Takei when I see, "Ohhh myyyy." I think of Barbie when I see bubblegum pink.

5. Cook. And eat.
Well, as Goop said, "every lifestyle brand worth its salt has a food section." But what a food section does is it makes the brand relatable because we all eat. We're all interested in food. We all love food. And we all like people just a bit more when we know they love to eat. Even when the ingredients are all kale and chia seeds and quinoa, right???

6. Have integrity. 
But seriously, whether you love simple hearty meals or a menu featuring Russian caviar, whether you enjoy a staycation with your favorite DVDs or indulge in jetsetter holidays, whether you decorate with thrift finds or with furniture flown in from Scandinavia, always feature stuff you love, you tested, you approve. Don't feature it just because it's new—do so because you love it. Don't blog about a TV phenomenon because it has 25 million Tweets if you don't genuinely follow it. Be yourself. Be honest. Be real.

There you go—advice from the queen of all lifestyle brands herself (sorry, Martha Stewart!). Now, let's all do what Goop says! Good luck!

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Thursday, September 24, 2015

My roles in life

I just realized this year that I am an entrepreneur because my blogging is my business. It's not a hobby anymore.

Hobby. It took me ten years of blogging to realize that this blogging isn't a hobby. I was thinking of this over the last few months, how all my life I've avoided labels. Just ask Vince. It took me a long time before I finally agreed to be called his girlfriend even though I was, duh, his girlfriend. After we married, I resisted changing my last name because I couldn't see myself responding to "Mrs. Sales." When I started blogging and people asked if I was a blogger, I used to say, "I'm not a blogger. I just have an online journal." On a plane to London, a woman sitting beside me asked what I did for a living. I replied, "I work for a magazine publishing company. I write. I edit." And she said, "You're a journalist." And I replied, "No, no. That sounds so serious!" 

Fear of commitment, that's what it is. As Dumbledore told Harry Potter, "Always use the proper name for things. Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself." 

I didn't like labels because I was scared to be tied to them and the responsibilities they came with.

Well, here we go: 

I am a wife. 
I am a mother. 
I am a writer. 
I am an editor. 
I am a journalist. 
I am a blogger. 
I am a friend. 
I am a sister. 
I am a businesswoman. 
I am a child of God. 

Funny how someone who always proclaimed that she's so proud to be who she is couldn't embrace the names of all that she is. Doesn't make sense, right? Well, to me, back then, to claim a name meant putting myself in a box. If people identify me as a blogger, what will happen if I give it up? If I become a wife, what happens when the marriage ends? If I tell people I'm a Born Again Christian, what happens when I fail and sin? Better to be safe and just live quietly.

Well, I'm finally claiming all these roles. Motherhood made me do it. That was what did it. Motherhood was a role I could never run away from, and accepting that role made me embrace everything else. And you know what? I love this new life of roles. I guess it comes from now knowing who I really am and not being afraid to be that. There is no longer the insecurity that plagues the young. There is no more doubt. I am who I am and I like me very much. Fabulousness and flaws.
Enjoying all my roles. Here I am mother, blogger and teacher. 

Wow. I'm finally proud of who I am. I guess I never was. Felt like all my life I was trying to prove I was somebody but deep inside I wasn't really sure that somebody was someone to be proud of. Despite all I've accomplished in career and life! Imagine that! 

Thank goodness the years have changed me! I love growing old. That's why I think I'm coming out of my shell now. I'm open to do workshops and meet my readers, meet new people, because I now truly believe I have a lot to offer and I'm also willing to learn more. I want to tell people who I am and what I know—not just what I think—and hope this can help them. I want to add to my roles. I'm now humble enough to ask for and accept help to grow and mature. I'm also now confident enough of whatever I've achieved. I'm enough. Whatever and whoever I am now, I like it. Of course, I want to improve myself (as wife and mother, most definitely!) but I also know I'm doing okay. Yes, I'm okay. 

I hope you're also okay. God bless you!

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Monday, September 21, 2015

A successful morning routine

Good morning, everyone! I'm curious to know what your morning routine is, especially those who are moms. I need a morning routine that will work for me. Whatever I'm doing now is just not helping me or my family.

I don't want to give a too detailed account of my mornings but let me just say that I have finally acknowledged that waking up after the kids is not ideal. I really must rise with them, or before they do. That means I have to wake up at 6:30. Trouble is I get up at 8 and that's because my kids are either fighting or yelling for us to wash their butts (they don't like the yayas to do it), and then we're up in a panic and then the rest of the day unfolds in a rushed and chaotic manner.

I wish I could wake up before the kids do. I've tried. I just end up like a zombie. That's because I stayed up late the night before. I usually sleep at 2 or 3 a..m. That gives me 5-6 hours of interrupted sleep. Interrupted by breastfeedings and cuddles from all three kids. (Maybe it's time to wean so I can sleep with my husband instead!) I also can't sleep well with my kids because a little cough, a murmur, or a whimper from a nightmare wakes me up. Imagine that multiplied by 3 boys and then you get a picture of my troubled slumber.

I need to sleep. If I wake up at 6, that means just 3 hours of sleep!

Anyway, a working mom advised me to sleep when the kids sleep (that will be 8:30 p.m.), then wake at 3 a.m. to start my day. I get peace and quiet for 3 hours, which will allow me to focus on work, prayer, myself and home management. It sounds heavenly. Three hours of peace and quiet after 7 hours of sleep! I imagine it like this:
3 a.m. Prayer and devotions
3:30 - 5:30 a.m. Work (writing and attending to correspondence)
5:30 - 6 a.m. Greet the sunrise! Shower and dress up
6 - 6:30 a.m. Assign the day's tasks to household help, prepare baon
7 a.m. Eat breakfast with the boys
The rest of the morning I can devote to my family and myself, like bring Vito to school, play with my younger sons, have breakfast with my husband, do errands, go to the gym. I don't need to worry about work because it's been taken care of. Then I can spend a few hours in the afternoon working again—meetings, events, taking pictures of products, shoots, etc. Then dinner at 7pm, in bed at 8!

It really sounds amazing except for one thing: where does my marriage fit in this scenario???

Vince and I spend time together at night, when the kids are asleep. That's when we talk about our day, watch TV shows or movies, be married. If I sleep when the kids sleep, those precious few hours spent nurturing our relationship will be gone.

I am obviously resisting the early wake up call, right?

One of my favorite Bible passages is from Psalm 5, which clearly says we call unto God as soon as we wake up.

I haven't done any devotions in months. Months! This spiritual drought is costing me my relationships here at home. Since I start my day in chaos, everyone is affected by my panic and stress. I'm rushing everyone. I snap at the smallest things. I yell a lot. Not proud of that and I hate to blog about this nasty side of me. That's why I'm not blogging! I don't want my nastiness to leach into such a public space. But here I am, being honest, and hoping that maybe you relate, understand even, and maybe give me some advice. I really need to change how I start my day.

When I used to start my day with prayer and devotions, I was kind, generous, patient, forgiving... basically a much nicer person. Of course! My husband has told me more than once that he likes it when I'm attending to my faith because I'm just a nicer person when I pray and read God's Word.

I feel strange sometimes. My life is amazing. AMAZING. I look at my kids, my husband, my work, even myself—it's crazy how lucky I am. And in that same moment, I'm also looking at my pimples and flabby belly, at work deadlines and how I can earn more money if I were just a bit more organized and have more time to work, I look at the mess of Legos everywhere, and the fact that my husband and I never get to finish our conversations because the kids are always interrupting, and I'm filled with irritation.

I feel like I'm living everything I've ever dreamed of (and beyond!) and at the same time I'm losing control. I'm happy and grateful but I don't act like it. I don't want my husband and kids to think I'm unhappy and I don't cherish our wonderful life, because I am and I do. Oh, how I do!

So... yeah. I haven't really been the kind of wife and mommy God wants me to be lately. And I think it all boils down to me not having a good morning routine. In fact, I need to change my entire day. I need to devote time not only to prayer, but to my kids, my husband, my work, my home, and myself. How is this even possible??? I'm so overwhelmed. I don't know what to do.

How do you do it? Please help! I'll try to implement some changes (like maybe sleep earlier!) and will tell you how I'm doing in a few months! Wish me luck!

Helpful reads:
10 ways successful people start their mornings
Why creating a meaningful morning routine will make you more successful

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Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Getting fit with Skechers Sport!

Well, I'm trying! It is not easy. I haven't really consistently worked out since... Let's see... Since before I got pregnant with my third son, Piero? Which means I haven't really exercised since 2013!

Good heavens. I need to get back in shape! I made up lots of excuses like I'm breastfeeding so I don't want to burn too much fat, or I'm too tired because, you know, three little boys. And taking care of them is already a workout, right?! Right!

Well, nope. Even with all the chasing around, lifting up, and carrying that I do, I'm kinda flabby everywhere. Look.

I know hindi halata because I'm skinny, but I'm really soft everywhere. Plus, I never really lost the baby belly. To this day, if I happen to not be wearing my Wink Postpartum Bikini shapewear, or if I was lazy and not engaging my abs, or if I was simply wearing something a bit loose, someone will congratulate me on being pregnant. Guaranteed. My baby is now 1 year and 2 months old. I really should start getting fit! No excuses na!

So there, as the photo above shows, nag-gym na ako. I'm wearing my trusty Skechers GOwalk shoes. I love my Skechers GOwalk shoes! But they're really just designed for walking so if I want to jog or run or dance, I should get a different kind of shoe. So, because I love Skechers na, I went to their big sale last month to get new shoes.

The staff at Skechers said that for my new needs (for, you know, gymming!), I need the Skechers Sport. It has memory foam so I'll feel comfy all day long, and it comes in many styles and designs so the kikay in me won't go blech. Syempre, as I was shopping, I just had to ask everyone on my social media which one I should get:
Super hit this post! On Instagram, people voted for the left. On Facebook, people voted for the right.

I voted for...

I LOVE MY SKECHERS SPORT! Look at the details:
Gray knit material. Pink polka dots. What's not to love?
The shoe breathes. So cool and fresh to wear.
Pink details never hurt!
Memory foam cushions feet. These are so comfortable!
The S is for Super. Well, Skechers. Skechers Sport. Super Skechers Sport! 

They're so pretty, I wear them even when I'm not in the gym! Now that athletic styling is mega huge because being healthy and fit is cool again, there's a lot of girls who've forsaken their heels for trainers. Like, street fashion now has girls in cute dresses with sneakers, or monochrome outfits paired with colorful trainers, or the sexiness of short shorts and mini skirts toned down with adorable trainers. It's becoming my fashion thing now, too! I'll do an #OOTD of me in my Skechers shoes soon!

But let's not forget that Skechers Sport is designed for sporty activities! So when Skechers invited me and other media personalities to a Zumba party a couple of weeks ago, gumising talaga ako nang maaga to go. If I'm serious with this getting fit thing, then let's do Zumba!

Skechers invited Colombian celebrity Zumba instructor Monica Pulgarin (in red) to teach us how to Zumba.
Whee! Guests get to wear a free pair of Skechers! These are just two of the many styles.
This is what I got! So sleek! Love. It!
Sexy ladies (and a few men) getting ready to get sweaty.
Monica (in cap) dances her way to our pounding hearts.

My friend Nicole Romero blogged about this fun party on Beauty & Sparkle: Skechers Zumba Fitness Fun. If you click on it, you'll see me super panget and pawis haha!

And here's Monica's take on the Zumba party:

Fun fun! Skechers is really making me want to get fit, ha. They're giving me and my family free shoes for a year just so I can get me and my kids out and running. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Skechers! I will really try hard to get fit na. Hopefully, as fit as Monica Pulgarin! Yes, I'm ambisyosa like that!

Skechers Sport is available at the following Skechers stores: Glorietta 2, TriNoma, Ayala Fairview Terraces, SM North Edsa The Annex, SM Mall of Asia, Robinsons Galleria, Robinsons Place Manila, Gateway Mall, Lucky Chinatown, Market Market, Festival Mall, Alabang Town Center, SM Fairview, SM Dasmarinas, Paseo Sta. Rosa, Marquee Mall, SM Pampanga, SM Clark, Ayala Center Cebu, SM City Cebu, SM Davao, Centrio Mall Cagayan de Oro and LimKetKai Mall CDO. Also available at SM Stores: SM Makati, SM Manila, SM Megamall and SM North EDSA.

Visit Skechers on Facebook
Follow @SkechersPH on Twitter and Instagram! 

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Tuesday, September 08, 2015

The proper way to brush teeth, plus other facts I learned from Colgate

This post is brought to you by Colgate.

This year, I resolved that my family will actively care for our teeth. That means:
  • a visit to the dentist every 6 months
  • strictly enforcing brushing teeth at bedtime
  • supervising brush teeth time
  • no eating or drinking after brushing teeth
  • flossing
Yep, I confess that I've never been that strict with my kids with their dental health. Of course we nag the boys to brush their teeth (and they do!) but that's it—we just nag but we weren’t in the bathroom checking if they were doing it right.

So what's been happening all this time was the boys eating their Colgate Spider-Man toothpaste! Plus, after "brushing" their teeth, I allowed them to drink milk. Even though I failed to do my parental duty there, my 5-year-old Vito's teeth were spared. Three-year-old Iñigo's teeth had a different story. So their dentist gave us the instructions above and I'm proud to report we've been diligent about this and their teeth have been looking better. Yey!  

Those little cavities on Iñigo's teeth was my wakeup call. Dental health is really important, even with baby teeth. We parents aren't so careful with baby teeth because we know they'll fall out anyway. But the kids' dentist warned us that when baby teeth rot away or need to be extracted, the growth of the permanent teeth is terribly compromised. 

That scared me! So when Colgate invited me and a few other mom bloggers to their “Colgate Healthy Smiles for Healthy Lives” quiz-off at the Seda Hotel in BGC, off I went!

Glowie Robillo, Digital Marketing and Public Relations Manager of Colgate-Palmolive Philippines,  who also happened to be our quiz host, said, “Oral care is and will always be one of the core aspects of a child’s health and well-being. By presenting facts and debunking oral health myths in an engaging way, we are making it relevant to the representatives of new-age moms, the bloggers.” And yes, it was engaging! Colgate quizzed us on oral health myths. Here are two questions that my team answered incorrectly (oops!):

True or False: It is best to rinse with a non-alcohol-based mouthwash immediately after brushing.
FALSE. While the only mouthwash you should use must be non-alcohol-based, you must not rinse mouth immediately after brushing. In fact, you shouldn't even rinse your mouth. At all! Why? Answer this: What is the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your teeth? Flouride. Where is this flouride again? In the toothpaste. What happens when you rinse your mouth? You flush away the toothpaste. So where is the flouride now? Down the drain when it should be in your mouth!

Remember: Do not rinse! Spit out the foam and the food particles. Then walk away. Walk. Away!

True or False: The acidity of your food and drink must be considered before brushing teeth.
TRUE. We're all told to brush teeth after every meal. But don't be too enthusiastic. Acidic food weakens our tooth enamel. Imagine your teeth are still recovering from the acidic food and drink you just had and then you assault them with vigorous brushing. Oh my. Your teeth enamel will be damaged!

This actually happened to me. My former dentist told me my teeth are soooo clean and yet I had cavities!!! Why? Because I brushed immediately after eating and I brushed with extra gigil pa. My enamel weakened so bacteria had an easier time attacking my (ironically) super clean teeth.

After the quiz, Colgate’s resident dentists, Dr. Bong David, Dr. Louie Quiambao and Dr. Noel Luna, as well as the BSBF/Public Health/Professional Oral Care Digital Manager, Diomar Escat, busted even more myths and misconceptions and gave tips, too:
  • The perfect angle to tilt the toothbrush is 45 degrees for optimal reach. And gently sweep the brush down (upper teeth) and up (lower teeth). 
  • Always floss! The ideal length of floss is 20 inches. That's enough to take out all the gunk between your teeth.
  • Mouthwash takes care of the spaces inside the mouth that your toothbrush cannot reach.
  • Retain baby teeth or milk teeth as much as possible. As I said above, they play an important role in guiding the growth of permanent teeth.
The moms at the Colgate quiz-off had sooooo many questions about how to properly care for children's teeth. In fact, we even told Colgate that they should create infomercials so that these tips will be known by all, or at least by everyone who has a TV. For example, that no-rinse tip. It's so important! But no one knows they're NOT supposed to rinse out the toothpaste! Well, because of this blog post, now you do! 

Colgate did a good job enlisting mom bloggers for their efforts to educate parents on proper oral health care for the family. With more and more moms turning online for information (vs traditional sources like their parents and magazines), we mom bloggers have a duty to spread important and science-supported health information!  

Glowie Robillo said, “As long as Colgate is alive and well, it will continue to promote the oral welfare of every Filipino family. Healthy lives start with healthy smiles.” 

True. I just had a visit to my own dentist (see this blog post for that sad story) and I was really discouraged that my neglect of my own oral care because I was too tired and busy to be more careful has resulted to a big financial cost. My necessary dental treatments will cost our family budget P111,000—money that could've gone to Vito’s tuition, a trip to Hong Kong Disneyland, or simply to healthy food. I'm so disappointed in myself! 

That's why I promised that we will be more diligent with our health—everything from careful brushing of our teeth, eating better food, and taking vitamins to exercising. I'll share more about our health adventures on this blog so I’m accountable!

Remember: Angle must be 45 degrees! Brush gently. Spit, do not rinse. 
Meanwhile, visit the Oral Health Center for more information on Colgate products and tips on proper oral care! 

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How to help Syria's refugees

My heart has been heavy over the weekend because of the refugee crisis happening in the Middle East and in Europe right now. I was especially affected, as the whole world has been, by the death of little Aylan Kurdi. Together with his mother, his brother and many other Syrians crossing the Mediterranean Sea towards Europe, Aylan drowned and washed up on a Turkish beach.

It was everything about him that crushed my heart. How he was dressed for a journey that must've been so exciting because I'm sure his parents told him they were going to a better place, a safe place. His little shoes that look just like the little shoes I Velcro on my sons' feet every day. His red shirt just like the ones I put on my Iñigo, who wears red all the time. In fact, whenever 3-year-old Iñigo saw the photo of 3-year-old Aylan on the news or on my Facebook feed, he asked, "Is that me, Mama? Am I dead?"

I won't say anything more about this distressing crisis. I had thought before, when the Syrian civil war started almost 5 years ago, that it's so far away. Poor people. I hope they sort it out. I hate how apathetic that sounds but my last five years have been full—I got pregnant three times, gave birth three times, am raising beautiful boys, changed careers. Life has been amazing. Absolutely amazing and yet every day, I find something to complain about.

Not anymore.

If you would like to understand how the civil war in Syria started, this comic strip describes it succinctly: Syria's Climate-Fueled Conflict.

This short article also describes the history of the conflict with the environmental factor removed: Why People are Fleeing Syria.

Here is an old video of actress and director Angelina Jolie meeting a group of Syrian siblings. It is heartbreaking how they keep smiling through it all, like this is their life now and while they don't understand it, they persevere:

If you need to read something more recent, here is an essay of writer Neil Gaiman who visited a refugee camp, no, he visited a refugee city in Jordan: "So many ways to die in Syria now."

If you would like to help the Syrians and other refugees, you can donate to the following organizations:
  • Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) - They have three ships patrolling Mediterranean waters to rescue refugees.
  • Red Cross - I checked our local chapter if they have a way for us Pinoys to donate to the Syrian refugees. Found none (although there is a donate button there for victims of the devastating Nepal earthquake). So if you like Red Cross, donate via their international website.
  • Save the Children - Donations will buy safe drinking water, nutritious food, tents and sleeping bags, and even diapers and wipes. I especially like how they renamed this whole horror from "migrant crisis" to "CHILD crisis."
  • World Vision - Funds will go to providing the basics from water, food, blankets to education and a safe place for children to play.

Last of all but for me the most important, please pray for them—the people of Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan all fleeing from the war in their countries. Pray for their safety, their health, their protection, their spirits, and that families will be kept together. Please pray for their evil governments, that they stop this horrific crime they are doing on their own people. Please pray for the countries these refugees are fleeing to, that their hearts will soften and accept these refugees into their countries especially now that winter is coming.

I am also praying for myself, for God to remove the now-burning hate anger for Assad and his regime, and for all the monsters who kill children and destroy families. There is a deep sadness in my heart that I just can't shake off. God have mercy on us all.
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Wednesday, September 02, 2015

The better choice isn't always the easiest choice

Contrary to what the title of this post may evoke, I'm not going to talk about morality issues. I'm talking about shopping. Yes, shopping!

As you all know (well, at least my Loyal Readers do!), I have always wanted a Tod's D Bag. But I never could bring myself to buy it because:
A. It's frakkin' expensive. Even though I can afford it, I just can't bring myself to fork over P100,000++ for a bag because...
B. I abuse my bags. Place them on the floor, throw them on the sofa, make them pillows. Plus, as a writer, I am always with a pen and I always end up accidentally writing on my bags or with ink spillage, which is sooo painful because...
C. See Reason A.
Well, now that I'm a mommy, another reason has come up:
D. Something always comes up.
Tuition fees. Vaccination fees. Maids who suddenly need to borrow money. And—the real culprit—our delight in spoiling our kids silly. Legos and it's not even your birthday? Sure! Cute Avengers pajamas? Sure! You like all those books even if you can't read yet? Sure!

Sigh. My husband Vince and I really enjoy making our sons happy. We spoil them with our presence (we both work from home so we are with the kids practically 24/7) and we spoil them with gifts because it is so much fun. It's for us—we enjoy the toys and costumes and games together so the money lavished on our family is always worth it.

So anyway, today, after a lunch with the Baby Magazine staff, as I was on my way to meet my Uber car, I passed by Tod's. And found this:

A Tod's D-Bow Bag in the perfect pink, the perfect size, and this time with gold accents. Total cost: P115,000.
Photos from Tod's Fall-Winter 2015 D-Bow Collection

A woman who was also shopping told me, "Don't Instagram it if you're not buying it. Someone will see your post and buy the bag."

It's not the exact D Bag I wanted (I always wanted the greige one) so it was easy enough for me to laugh at her warning and put it back on the shelf. But as I walked out of the shop, I looked back at the pink cutie and thought, "It has my name written all over it. Maybe... maybe..."

But my Uber had arrived and I hopped in because I needed to see my dentist. On the way, I suddenly decided, "Sure. Why not? Sure, it's Reason A but I'm earning more now than I ever did when I was an employee. And, sure, there's still Reason B but I'll take care of it because of Reason A!"

Then, as always, Reason D happened.

At the dentist, I learned that I needed to have my wisdom teeth extracted, a bridge made, and braces installed. Total cost: P111,000.

Perfect Tod's D Bag: P115,000

Perfect teeth: P111,000

You know what I picked, right? Yup. I've already scheduled the procedures. But the braces, I'll need to ask permission from my blog sponsors first because I have videos and photo shoots to do. They might not like the metal mouth. Not only am I practical, I am also considerate. Right? Right. Yey me!

And yet, at the dentist's chair, as I stared at the bright spotlight aimed at my mouth, I fought with this unreasonable sadness. When I was poor, I always had to pick what made sense—what product I can afford, what service is worth it, what will benefit more people (a.k.a. my family), which more often than not meant I had to do without. I didn't have a choice since I had very little money. Now that I'm a lot better off, I have choices but I'm still picking what makes sense. In many ways, this is why my husband and I live the way we do—no debt, comfortable life. We hardly ever lived beyond our means. We are always practical. We aren't miserly at all, okay? In fact, we have quite the cushy life! But the unnecessary things like designer bags and designer shoes are just deemed impractical, even illogical. We do have designer furniture but everyone benefits from furniture so those purchases made sense.

I always made sense.

People tell me, "Ganyan talaga pag nanay na." But I've always been like this. Ever since I was a little girl. And it's served me well so it's okay.

But earlier today, as that unreasonable sadness threatened to overwhelm me, I fought with the thought: "Why don't I ever just throw caution to the wind? Why must I always always be practical? Am I boring? Am I old? Have I always been boring and old?"

Thankfully, my sensibility overpowered that stupid voice inside my head as I penciled in my next dental appointment with the clinic's secretary. I made the better choice, I said. And I did.

I guess I'm just sad because I realized my poor upbringing still makes me think I'm poor. I take care of myself but I don't spoil myself because that's just, you know, frivolous. When my husband brings me to a nice restaurant, I always pick the cheapest item on the menu. I shop for my clothes on eBay. Almost all my clothes now are freebies from brands actually. I refuse to let my husband buy me gifts. I hold on to trash because what if I'll need a square of leftover gift wrapper? I smooth out aluminum foil so we can use them again. When I make sandwiches for my husband, I pack it with slices of cheese and ham or salami but when I make my sandwiches, I put just one slice. When I make Biscoff sandwiches for my kids, I slather the spread on thick, but my own Biscoff sandwiches, I just scratch on a thin layer. Why oh why do I do this?!

Of course, my dental procedures are just as costly as the Tod's D-Bow Bag so I'm not making the less expensive choice. I guess the sadness—the first time I've ever felt this way over a shopping choice!—surprised me because it made me wonder—for the first time ever—if I'm taking care of myself right. It made me realize that I think nothing of spending lots of money on my boys but when it comes to me, I think I don't deserve it. And that's sad. Sad that I think it. Sad that I don't allow others, from my husband to my friends, to spoil me. Sad that I—self-proclaimed feminist/pro-woman/girl power advocate—believe that I don't deserve to have nice things, after all.

Sadness, begone! My teeth need to be fixed! That's still caring for me! Right? Right. Silliness over. A perfect smile is waaaaaay better than a pink bag. Right? Right.

The better choice isn't always the easiest choice, I said, but it is still the better choice. I'll just keep telling myself that!

P.S. Can someone buy me the Tod's Small D-Bow Bag in pink abroad??? It's just P81,000 abroad!

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