valentine's day
Two Valentine’s Day from the two most important guys in my life (next to my dad) strike me as the most memorable. The first one is my first Valentine’s day with Butch, my ex-boyfriend. The second is the last Valentine’s Day Card that my son lovingly crafted for me. valentines day.jpgLeafing through the yellowed pages of my diary, I found a journal entry written on February 14, 1979. The wonderful thing about keeping a journal is one is able to relive those youthful years and feel giddy all over again. Oh my, were we that cheesy!? Looking back that day, I wrote I saw him through the window carrying a single red rose and a gift. Clutching the red rose, Butch chuckled at the scene unfolding before him. Just like the movies, he muttered. Three pages of sweet nothings where my sappy ex-boyfriend declared his undying love and our dreams in my paper journal. In the last part of my journal entry, he had whispered “Let’s make Valentine’s day the whole year through”. kilig. Today is our 43th Valentine’s Day celebration.

Though our love endured, it was not all roses and sweet nothings.

happy valentine's dayThe childlike scribble of the I love you that my son wrote in his handmade Valentine’s day card never fails to bring tears. Tears of joy, of course. Reading through the same journal entry of February 14, 1979, Butch and I wove dreams of our first-born son who we called Jose Luis back then. (Jose, because both our fathers are Jose’s and Luis for Butch’s actual name.) Many years later, the dream of our Jose Luis materialized, whom we nicknamed Luijoe, for short. The reality lasted for six glorious years. I caress the crayon drawn heart in this card to remind myself that death may have taken our son away but his love and memories remain alive and pure in our hearts.

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As with the past 44 Valentine’s Day , we celebrate it at home with my husband.  Since we could not spend Christmas Day together in 2020 except via Zoom so today, we wore our ugly Christmas shirt. Never too late to celebrate love and life. ??

Let’s remember what love truly is…

Love is patient. Love is kind. Love isn’t jealous. It doesn’t sing its own praises. It isn’t arrogant. It isn’t rude. It doesn’t think about itself. It isn’t irritable. It doesn’t keep track of wrongs. It isn’t happy when injustice is done, but it is happy with the truth. Love never stops being patient, never stops believing, never stops hoping, never gives up.

Love never comes to an end

<< 1 Corinthians 13 >>

I know I will embarrass my husband with this post. I wrote this list a couple of years ago but I just want to revive this for Valentine’s day. He tells me that his friends read my blog but I assure him I only write the good stuff. haha.

butch and I
For now, Let me count the ways:

1. I love the way my husband smiles across the room as I sit down and write this entry. To this day, my husband gazes at me lovingly (on random moments) as if it’s the first time he met me. As if I am the most attractive woman in the world.

2. I love my husband’s persistence. He refused to let me go when I told him that “I have had enough. I want a separation”. With courage and love, we got our second wind.

3. I love his courage to change, the way he let go of unhealthy behavior patterns as we worked on achieving our new normal after the death of Luijoe.

4. I love living with him one day at a time which requires so much faith in us. We don’t look back at the past unless healing from the past is part of today’s work. We look ahead to make future plans. We focus on this day’s activity, living it to the best of our ability.

5. I love that we sit down and laugh over our favorite show, or laughing together at the silliest things on TV.

6. I love the way my head fits nicely on his chest when we cuddle in front of the TV set.

7. I love that he does the grocery every weekend.

8. I love the warmth of his hands as we hold hands in the mall.

9. I love those random wet kisses even if I tell him “not now, the kids!”. The random display of affection in front of my horrified girls who often shriek ““Dad, Mom..no!” Their disgusted looks are priceless.

10. I love the way he took care of me at the hospital when I broke my leg and needed surgery. I had already left him that time and insisted that I live with him.

11. I love the affirmation. He assures me that I am beautiful even during those days I feel ugly or just having a bad hair day.

12. I love his frugal nature even if it means buying roses close to midnight of Valentine’s day.

13. I love our inner child moments when we play with our imaginary cats in “Neko Atsume”. It’s just good that we can giggle and let our hair down more often now.

14. I love to reminisce over our love story and the ups and downs that came along in our marriage. We like to look back and laugh at our stupid mistakes.

15. I love that he allowed me to own a pet cat knowing that he is allergic to cat fur.

16. I love the fact that he tries to treat everyday as Always Valentine’s Day.

17. I love watching the sunset with him while holding hands along Manila Bay.

18. I love our emails. I always close my email or chat with ““your loving wife”, or ““love and kisses” or ““your sexy wife” ““love you”. In turn he affirms my email with ““Dear Loving Wife..” or ends our chat ““see you , dear or I love you”. We never tire of saying sweet nothings to each other.

19. I love the daily text messages that affirms his love for me. And vice-versa, of course.

20. I love the recipe books that he regularly buys me.

21. I love the way he pretends to be shocked when I suggest something “sensual”.

22. I love random romantic moments. Buying me flowers when there is no occasion. Butch rarely buys me flowers but there are those days when he buys a bouquet just because.

23. I love our movie dates and munching popcorn. Just being there , holding hands and acting as if we are still steadies on a date.

24. I love his endearment to me which is calling me a punk. I don’t know why he calls me punk but I find it such an original endearment. I admit I can be a punk and a bitch.

25. I love that the good stuff I listed above more than surpass his annoying ways.

There are more than 25 ways my husband shows his love to me. We often say that we will love each other till eternal life. Our wedding vows are ““till death do us part” and should end there. Our belief that our son is in heaven gives us hope for eternal life. We look forward to more loving years of togetherness.

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me and my ex bf

I wrote this 13 years ago, but I thought I’d update it again because today is our couple anniversary. I like to look back at the good old days and dream about the future together. Here is our story:

I gaze at my two lovely daughters and smile. I realize they are much older than us.. when we, their parents, were just college sweethearts. My two daughters wailed and wondered when they will meet The One. Will they be as blessed as their parents who found their true love from each other? I have no ready answers. Love just happens when you least expect it. Who would have thought Butch and I would end up together for better and for worse? He became my boyfriend for the most shallow reasons, which was “I wanted a cute boyfriend”

Butch and I met through my college roommate at the University of the Philippines Shopping Center ‘ restaurant. It was not love at first sight for me. I think Butch was stricken by Cupid’s arrow that fateful night. To my great annoyance, he kept staring at me “You have beautiful eyes” all night long. He never let go of me since then. Though Butch was utterly charming and really cute, I wasn’t interested. First, he looked really wild as in “jeprox” (the slang word for punk during those days). Second, “mestizos” are not my type. Third, he was two years younger than me. I knew he was 18 years old, yet he lied that he was 20 years old.

butch78c.jpgHe was very persistent. Riding on his yellow motorcycle, he’d zoom past the dorm as if “by accident” and pretend to be surprised to see me. I liked the attention but felt he was too dangerous. But see, Butch had a way with words (think “bolero”) which would make any girl giggle. Fear engulfed me when I began to fall in love with him. His wild and dangerous looks were just too tempting. What was it with “bad boy image” that attracted me to him? For years, I poured over my books just to get excellent grades, but for what? College is supposed to be fun. I wanted to have fun. My motto that semester: be adventurous and grab a cute boyfriend. After all, graduation loomed the following semester. I decided I wanted to have a boyfriend. Not just any boyfriend. He had to be a cute.

My greatest fear though was he’d seduce me. Butch looked really reckless and seductive. Heck. I threw caution to the wind and “went along with him” the night he announced to the world that I was his girlfriend.

I thought, “I am his girlfriend? How did that happen?”

Whispering sweet nothings to my ear, “I will marry you one day. I will be a lawyer. You just see.”

I was laughing inside and mused I would never marry this guy. He’s a bum. I won’t have a future with him. He is my boyfriend because I just want to have fun. I hate my boring student life.

True enough, the following month, I found out he didn’t meet the university requirements of passing 21 units, 60% passing of all subjects and to have a passing grade in at least 4 units. He scored a grand slam. The verdict was expulsion from the state university. I knew there was hope, so I dragged him to the college secretary for a reconsideration.

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“No, I don’t have hope. I will move to San Beda then take up Law after college” he moaned.

“You are going to graduate AB Political Science from UP and proceed to the College of Law”, I convinced him to appeal.

Thanks to Dean Martin Gregorio, Butch was granted a reconsideration. Since we became steadies, he passed all his subjects and eventually studied Law.

butch78d.jpgDespite Butch wild streak, he never took advantage of me. Haha. I should give him credit for being a gentleman in that aspect. In fact, we enjoyed a clean and responsible relationship. Friends doubted that we practiced abstinence. True, Butch would suddenly wrap me in his arms and plant a kiss on my lips right in front of my horrified friends, but that was it. We were a romantic couple for 7 years. Locking our hands together, we sat by the sunken garden and watched the sunset as we wove dreams of being together forever and having babies one day. Amidst the Beegees “How Deep is Your Love”, time stood still for love struck us. Well, mostly his dreams. I wasn’t too sure if he would be a suitable husband.

Two years later…

Holding pizza and a dozen red roses , Butch took me by surprise as he knelt down and proposed marriage. How roooomaaaantic, I gushed .

My brain woke me up from fantasy land.

I said “God, No. You’re only 20. You don’t have a job. You haven’t graduated from college”

We married 7 years after we first met in college.

Our love story is quite long , romantic and crazy so I am not boring you to tears . But see, our love spans 42 years. We have two anniversary dates: March 7 when we first became college sweethearts and May 5 for our wedding day. And of course, celebrating the day we met on January 26, 1978. That sums up 38 years together as a couple who are still so madly in love with each other. You know it is true love when you have gone through the worse moments in marriage and yet managed to survive and make the love even stronger than it ever was.

It wasn’t all roses, sweet nothings, and icing on a cake type of relationship.

We nearly separated 16. years ago. Grief had overtaken us so much. Our marriage suffered during the first few years after my son died. My husband and I had different ways of coping with our grief. He wanted to talk about Luijoe’s death. I preferred to keep quiet and be by myself. This created a distance between us. Sometime in 2005, I packed my bags and muttered goodbye to a tearful Butch. I couldn’t stand him anymore. I wanted a new life without him. I made sure the girls were settled in their dormitories for me to make this great escape.

Alas, God destined me to stick it out with Butch.

fractureAs I moved in to my new pad, I lost my footing on the steps and fell to the ground. Were those firecrackers I heard? Oh dear, that awful popping sound came from my ankles. Holding on to the lifeless ankle, my ex-landlord helped me into a cab and brought myself to Medical City emergency room. Fuelled with pride, I refused to contact Butch but asked L to bring me clothes for my confinement. I suffered a fracture which required insertion of metal rods onto my right tibia and ankle bone. Butch got hold of my accident and drove to Medical City. He insisted on taking care of me.

I had no choice but to live with him and work things out. Truly God works in mysterious ways. It was as if God said, ” you can’t run away from your marriage. Try to fix it”. Eventually, with the help of a caring grief counsellor, we sorted out our problems and renewed our commitment to work on our marriage. The secret in the renewal of our marriage was reliving that first time we fell madly in love with each other.

For the next 6 months, I was confined to the wheelchair or crutches . Sounds like those cheesy Filipino scenes in a movie, huh?

Our love is best seen as devotion and action, not just an emotion. Our love during those college sweethearts ‘ days were based on shallow emotions towards each other. Today, our devotion to each other has truly led us to true love.

Yes, young love is possible, dear girls. Our love will always be a work in progress till death do us part

Often when the revival of Beegees “How Deep is Your love” plays in the airwaves, the meaning of the lyrics rings true then and now:

Chorus:
How deep is your love
I really need to learn
cause were living in a world of fools
Breaking us down
When they all should let us be
We belong to you and me

I believe in you
You know the door to my very soul
You’re the light in my deepest darkest hour
You’re my saviour when I fall
And you may not think
I care for you
When you know down inside
That I really do

Epilogue- March 7, 2021

I took this picture on December 30, 2020 when my husband arrived home from a two-week hospitalization due to an asymptomatic case of Covid-19. This illness is so unpredictable that I thought the worst. Would he die? Would we both die? I don’t know how I survived those two weeks. Fortunately, my household staff and I tested negative for the coronavirus. But I prayed so hard that we survive this because we have so much to live for. Our coffee project is just starting. We still have to a meaningful life ahead of us. Despite all the hardships in our marriage, I would rather face them than live without the love of my life. Treasure each day with your loved ones. Celebrate life. 

March 7, 1978
butch and me

7 Years Later

wedding anniversarywedding anniversary

2006
butchandme.jpg

2008
anniversary

25th anniversary shoot at the UP Campus, March 2010

2011

2012

butch and I

2013

me and hubby

2014

beijing

2015

my husband and I

2016

new year 2016

2017

2018

2019

2020

December 30, 2020 – The day my husband went home from the hospital where he was confined for two weeks because of asymptomatic covid-19

Every man ought to be a macho macho man,
To live a life of freedom, machos make a stand,
Have their own life style and ideals,
Possess the strength and confidence, life’s a steal,
You can best believe that he’s a macho man
He’s a special person in anybody’s land.
(Village People – Macho Man)
gift of laughter
Dad dancing Village People “Macho Man” at a Christmas Party in the late seventies
It’s the booming laughter I remember the most. It’s a laughter that runs across the room that never failed to cheer me up. My father may have passed away 17 years ago today but his sense of humor, the laughter and the positive attitude remains alive in me.

My earliest memory of dad was his round belly that looked like a pillow stuffed under his polo-shirt. I was convinced that fathers also got pregnant just like mom. As I grew, a little older and a little wiser, I realized his paunch stayed the same way, and no baby would ever come out of it. That often puzzled me. I often laid my head on his soft paunch, but only just for a minute because dad would find it uncomfortable.

My sister , Myrna believes that dad’s legacy is his example of strength and perseverance to us, the seven children and eighteen grandchildren. I learned by watching him suffer from the ravages of Stroke, that I should never give up on life, and to hold on to every precious moment with my loved ones, fully aware that, like a candle’s flame, life can flicker out in an instant. His laughter just resonated . Enthusiastic, effervescent, so full of life!

Above all these, the best thing dad gave us is his legacy of true love and family devotion. Even though he is gone, that love and strength of character live on as we now pass these to my daughters, to our granddaughter’s’ children, and so forth down the generation line.

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Today, I want to remember my Daddy old boy, round and pudgy, full of life, his voice confidently booming across a room, his loud laughter rising above a crowd. He may not have the body of a muscled macho man, but he lived the style, the ideals, the strength and confidence of a true-blue macho man.

gift of laughter

My dad has always been my role model. I may have been a late bloomer in citizen empowerment and community work, but Dad was always at the back of my mind all these years. I hope he is proud of his children, who in one way or another are following his lead. My Dad, Jose P Lardizabal, was our role model for community service and leadership. Dad was an accountant and a corporate man but he was very active in PICPA, Jaycees, Rotary (a Past District Governor), Caritas (Board President), Sacred Hospital and Southwestern Univ, St Martin de Porres (for special children), Enercon (chairman), Sinulog (Chairman), UP Cebu MBA, and many more.

Dad is a special person in anybody’s land. He is alive and well in my treasured box of memories. May Dad still be smiling down upon us from Heaven, happy about how our lives have turned out.

I miss you, dad.my father

Update: Last February , 2018 the City of Cebu honored the composer, Vicente Rubi for his Contribution to Music. Ludivina Rubi Najarro, his lone surviving child received the award.

Tita Luding Rubi Pleños with Ka Bino Guerrero

Kasadya Ning Takna-a (“How Joyful Is This Season”) is a classic Christmas Carol and my favorite Filipino Christmas Carol. I still remember the lyrics by heart because I used to sing this upbeat Christmas song as a little girl while caroling with my friends in Cebu.

 

 

Listen to Kasadya ni Takna-a on Spotify.

classic Filipino carol

Preface:

Kasadya ning taknaa
Dapit sa kahimayaan
Mao’y atong makita
Ang panagway’ng masanglagon
Bulahan ug bulahan
Ang tagbalay nga giawitan
Awit nga halangdonon ug sa tanang Pasko
Magmalipayon!

Chorus:
Repeat Preface
Bag-ong tuig
Bag-ong kinabuhi
Duyogan ‘ta sa atong gebati
Atong awiton aron sa kalipay
kita makaangkon!

Chorus
Preface
Awit nga halangdonon ug sa tanang Pasko magmalipayon

I am sure the song is more familiar to you if sang as Ang Pasko ay Sumapit, a popular Filipino Christmas Carol and the Tagalog adaptation of the 1933 Cebuano carol. Ang Pasko ay Sumapit first hit the airwaves when I was a teenager but I was horrified to hear my favorite carol sang in a different accent and beat. It’s not the same., I cried inside. I don’t hear the rondalla introduction of the song. It sounds horrible. I thought. The heavy (maragsa) accent that added vigor and festiveness was just not there in the Tagalog version. I’m sure if you heard the Tagalog version, you would appreciate Ang Pasko ay Sumapit but I first heard it sung in Visayan!

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For me, Ang Pasko ay Sumapit is NOTHING compared to the joyfulness of the carol if sang in Visayan. The closest Tagalog version that follows true to the original version is the one sang by the Mabuhay Singers. Even the meaning of the lyrics are different.

But what makes the song even pathetic is the composer was paid a measly price for the Tagalog version. Here is the story of the Cebuano composer, Vicente Rubi.

A gentle Cebuano composer Vicente Rubi jotted down the notes of this daygon (carol) for a Christmas festival that year. Mariano Vestil, another Cebuano, wrote the lyrics. Forgotten Today, carolers in Cebu still sing the lilting beat and lyrics that the now-barely-remembered Rubi and Vestil blended 70 years ago. Bulahan ang tagbalay nga giawitan (“Blessed the homes that carolers sing to”). ….”It’s the supremest of ironies in a country that boasts of the longest celebration of Christmas,” Jullie Yap Daza wrote in the Times Journal in 1978. “But not a trace of effort has been made to attribute the beloved carol Ang Pasko Ay Sumapit to its author, Vicente D. Rubi.” By then, Rubi was an old impoverished widower, confined in a Cebu hospital. His carol had been hijacked by a recording company for 150 pesos.

Cebuanos recall the frail old man would shuffle to teach carolers, at his gate, how to sing his carol right. “Nong Inting” died in 1980, denied “what is due him in royalties,” now Manila Standard editor Yap-Daza wrote. This is raw exploitation. Today’s jargon calls that “Intellectual Property Rights” theft.

I heard Kasadya Ning Takna-a sang a few years ago and nearly choked in tears at the thought of Vicente Rubi never being paid royalties by that greedy recording company. Whenever I listen to Ang Pasko ay Sumapit, not only do I feel strange hearing it sung in a different tone but I feel history should give more credit to Vicente Rubi.

Bagong tuig, bagong kinabuhi, the Cebuano original, and its Tagalog adaptation, proclaim. It echoes the Advent cry of Isaiah: “Break the fetters of injustice … and break every yoke/ Then, will your light break forth as the morning.”

Where is the justice due Vicente Rubi?

Though more than 70 years have lapsed and royalties are way past the 50 year mark, I will honor Vicente Rubi in this blog for all the world to know him as the composer of Ang Pasko ay Sumapit, the Tagalog version of Kasadya Ning Takna-a.

One day, I hope a music producer will come out with the Kasadya Ning Takna-a , the original daygon version. Hopefully, this forgotten Cebuano Carol will once again claim its rightful place in Philippine music.

How joyful is this season if we remember Vicente Rubi.

What is your favorite Christmas song?

Thanksgiving day being the most celebrated holiday in the states reminds me of the word “gratitude”.


A few years ago, I was planning to bake Pumpkin Pie because I remembered just how delicious it was during my visit in Missouri a few years ago.

My daughter said “we’re not Americans, mom so why should we celebrate Thanksgiving Day”. (But did you know that, for several decades, Thanksgiving had also been celebrated in the Philippines?)

I protested “but I love Pumpkin Pie” and I want to bake it to feel like I am celebrating with my brother and sisters in the states. My siblings often wished I’d visit them during Thanksgiving day but I just tell them that I will be with them in spirit. So I thought baking the Pumpkin pie was a great idea

But…

Nope, my daughters refused to acknowledge Thanksgiving day the American way.

As a compromise, I agreed to bake Pumpkin Pie on Christmas day and thought that was the end of the discussion.

Then, I gleefully announced “let’s honor and reflect on your paternal great-great American grandfather who arrived in the Philippines in 1921 from Iowa. He was quite an adventurer just like you, Lauren.”

Photo: Great great grandfather of my husband
I think that settled the issue.

I love looking back to the past and knowing the roots of my family. I like knowing their way of life, their personalities and quirks to see if these were passed on to my children.

I am grateful for the life and the traditions that have been passed on through the years.

Thanksgiving day being the most celebrated holiday in the states reminds me of the word “gratitude”. I can affirm my gratitude any day I want to but I want to dedicate this entry especially for my siblings who will celebrate Thanksgiving day. I want to share my gratitude to them.

In honor of Thanksgiving Day, I have a lot to be thankful for today and everyday of my life.

gratitude
1. I am thankful for second chances and a new normal.

2. I am thankful for the laughter that rings true in my home. There’s nothing like a family who laughs together.

3. I am thankful for financial challenges because it taught us discipline that money can be budgeted wisely for basic necessities.

4. I am thankful for a loving husband that never gave up on me.

5. I am thankful for the excruciating pain brought about by my son’s death because it transformed me into a more compassionate person.

6. I am thankful for my two girls, that despite the turbulent teen years due to their sibling’s death, they never resorted to drugs or alcohol.

7. I am thankful of new and old friendships ,a comfortable place to be myself.

8. I am thankful for negative feedback as I can make an honest assessment of myself without jeopardizing my identity.

9. I am thankful for the internet, blogging and all of YOU, twitter followers, the lurkers and readers of my blog as you help me fulfill my mission in life.

10. I am thankful to God who I thought abandoned me but never really left me after all.

gratitude Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. I have learned the magical lesson that making the most of what I have turns it into more. I have learned an important concept to get me through this stressful time and that is gratitude. I learn to say thank you, for all these problems and feelings. I am full of gratitude because today’s pain could be tomorrow’s joy.

What are you thankful for?

Youth fades, love droops, the leaves of friendship fall. A mother’s secret hope outlives them all. – Oliver Wendell Holmes

my children

I was once a mother with small kids. There are so many amazing mommy experiences that I want to capture them in a few photos. I loved watching my girls sing, laugh, and play together. There were just two of them for the first six years until Luijoe came later. I miss being a mom of little kids. At that time, all I could think of “hurry up. Grow up fast”. Now I look back and see their cute adorable faces and often sign “why did they grow up so fast”. I will always be a mother in every stage of my children’s life. There is a quote that says “a man’s work is from sun to sun, but a mother’s work is never done.’ The needs change in every stage but they will always be my children.

Let me take you down to memory lane.

Laughing even if little Lauren says ” I am tired of this photo shoot.

Being pregnant with M. as L. turns one year old. Spacing is always a good idea.

M named after the Dutch form of Mary. I was sick with acute Hepatitis B when I was 6 weeks pregnant. I prayed to Mother Mary so that my baby won’t get sick.

Not a good idea to wear longish hair style if your kids sleep with you.

Having two little kids in tow cause competition. Who should be in my arms? aww poor Lauren wanted to be carried too.

I don’t regret giving up my career to be a full-time mother. The lessons learned from being a mother makes me a better person today. My children taught me a lot. Those parenting books don’t really teach you much. One should take time to be attuned to one’s kids, and listen to their feelings.

My daughter thinks my dress is horrible in this photo but how would I have known? They have taught me how a mother should dress in style which I share in my Beauty Over 50 blog.

Then I was blessed to have three beautiful children. How I miss my little babies.

Having Luijoe at 35 years old meant it was harder to lose weight. I was 48 years old when I finally lost significant weight.

I was so fat that I was not inspired to have photos with Luijoe and me together. One of my regrets.

The truth is I made mistakes that makes me wish I could turn back the time. Yes, I cannot undo the past  but I wish I had a support group of mom friends.  Looking now at my mistakes, I would not have discovered my capacity to be a better person and more loving mother. No wonder Rajneesh mentioned that “the moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new. ”

Mothers these days are so lucky because they have access to information and support from other mothers. In those days as a young mother, I had to buy books that were hard to find.

Though Luijoe is not with me anymore, he lives in my heart. Just like my two girls, it’s been a short while I held their hands. I know I will hold their hearts forever.

I wish all the young mothers out there, to always take care of yourself . Do a “Pamper Me” once a week and most of all, play, enjoy and have fun with your kids (no matter what age they are).

Happy Mother’s Day.

Happy Chinese New Year. February 5, 2019 thru January 24, 2020 is the Year of the EARTH PIG. A lot of stalls are sprouting out in shopping malls selling all sorts of cute pig charms to celebrate the Lunar Chinese New Year. My husband, Butch’ Chinese Zodiac sign is the pig. Maybe he believes in pig charms and the symbolism it represents. Holding up a fake jade pig charm, he observes that the pig charm bore many piglets. The sales lady at the mall says “swerte yan sir” (That’s good luck). Butch bought this pig charm for $5.00 and told me that the green pig complements the color scheme of our new living room. Right! I teased him.

What do these lucky pig charms really mean?

Grandmaster Lin Yun says that the PIG is the most blessed of the animals of the Chinese zodiac. The horse draws a cart, the ox plows the fields, the goat provides milk, the rooster lets you know when morning has come, and the dog stands guard at night, but the pig is obligated to do nothing at all except sleep, eat and sleep some more. Haha, how lazy is that? The pig is happy go lucky, easy going, and eager to avoid conflict. Don’t you think people should adopt a more easy-go-lucky attitude to tolerate others and strive to live life free of conflict? Life is full of conflicts but trivial conflicts can be avoided.

Whether one is of Chinese descent or not, people need to be patient, and tolerate the idiosyncracies of others. What does tolerance mean exactly?

I realized the meaning of tolerance when I got married. It happened on the first night of our honeymoon. Oh my god, Butch hogged the bed with his legs sprawled all over the bed space. I tried the practice of tolerance when he’d mess up the room. I wasn’t all that tolerant. I was too obsessive with the orderliness of my physical space.

The practice of a healthy and loving tolerance of myself started when my grief journey hit rock bottom. The constant bickering with my family in so little matters forced me to be more open to new approaches. It started with myself. I set healthy boundaries and trusted myself to own my power with people.

I learned to

1. Tolerate my quirks, my ups and downs, my humanness, my struggling and awkward nature.
2. Tolerate my fears, mistakes, my need to occasionally feel superior and to sometimes feel ashamed.
3. Tolerate my instinctive desire to control and learn detachment with love.
4. Tolerate my tendency to get obsessive and forgetting to trust God.

There are some things I do not tolerate. I do not tolerate abusive behaviors or destructive behaviors towards others or myself. Often , I get the ire of abusive people when I exert my stand on their destructive behaviors. But that’s another story.

When I learned healthy and loving tolerance, I learned tolerance for others. I also learned that the humanness I tolerated is what makes myself and others beautiful.

We don’t need the lucky pig charm  to remind us of healthy tolerance to ourselves and others.

It is just the two of us, the four cats and our trusted helpers as we got ready to welcome the New Year. Listening to Auld Lang Syne and tooting our horns, my husband and I reflected what we needed to focus this year and let bygones be bygones. The end of a year often signals new beginnings. Auld Lang Syne is traditionally sung at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve in Scotland and around the world, especially in English-speaking countries. My husband loves to listen to this song. Listen:

As we tooted our horns, our boxer howled along with us as if saying Goodbye 2018. We were so amused at our dog’s howling.

I thought we would just hear the tooting of horns but instead, the sound of firecrackers from the neighbors surprised us all. We waited for 2019 to arrive, and cheered the New Year along with our toast of sparkling juice.

The next day, I was so excited to write on page 1 of my new planner. Its pages are still blank. I know I am going to put words on them myself in the coming days. Yes, this is a book called “Make today magical” and its first chapter is New Year’s Day. I scribbled a note on January 1, 2019 and greeted everyone a happy new year . The 2019 Belle De Jour Power Planner is usually used by the young ones. I don’t care. It is cute and I love the food for thought — usually something inspirational, partnered with pretty artwork.

When I wonder what is coming, I tell myself the best is coming, the very best in life has to to offer, the best God will send and claim it as mine.

Happy New Year, everyone. A blessing becomes a blessing when spoken. So I declare that you are blessed with a loving family, good health, faith, favor, promotion and provision. A blessed New Year to you and your family!

To all my visitors, may you have a Blessed Christmas. May the warmth and love of family and friends that make the holiday season so memorable. May peace be your gift at Christmas and your blessing all year through. Merry Christmas everyone.

Peace and Joy to all.

From the Dado Family

To those who have lost a child, here is a poem for you:

Christmas message
Luijoe’s last Christmas with us, 1999

Twas the month before Christmas
and I dreaded the days,
That I knew I was facing the holiday craze.
The stores were all filled with holiday lights,
In hopes of drawing customers
by day and by night.
As others were making their holiday plans,
My heart was breaking – I couldn’t understand.
I had lost my dear child a few years before,
And I knew what my holiday had in store.
When out of nowhere, there arose such a sound,
I sprang to my feet and was looking around,
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash
The sight that I saw took my breath away,
And my tears turned to smiles in the light of the day.
When what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a cluster of butterflies fluttering near.
With beauty and grace they performed a dance,
I knew in a moment this wasn’t by chance.
The hope that they gave me was a sign from above,
That my child was still near me and that I was loved.
The message they brought was my holiday gift,
And I cried when I saw them in spite of myself.
As I knelt closer to get a better view,
One allowed me to pet it – as if it knew –
That I needed the touch of its fragile wings,
To help me get through the holiday scene.
In the days that followed I carried the thought,
Of the message the butterflies left in my heart –
That no matter what happens or what days lie ahead,
Our children are with us – they’re not really dead.
Yes, the message of the butterflies still rings in my ears,
A message of hope – a message so dear.
And I imagined they sang as they flew out of sight,
“To all bereaved parents – We love you tonight!”

By Faye McCord

christmas message

Luijoe and my family, 1998