Lessons From Outside The Comfort Zone

I have been working for 20 years. Two days from graduation, I trudged through the doorways of my first job and I haven’t stopped ever since. I love working. In fact, a lot of people used to say I was a workaholic and that it was my priority in life. True and I didn’t deny it. Work gave me a sense of fulfillment, not to mention financial gratification. I just love being busy and productive.

A few months ago, my husband and I decided that I should take a break from my corporate life. There were many reasons behind it. Most people would probably say, “That’s awesome!” but it wasn’t an easy decision for me. You won’t believe how many motivational quotes I had saved on my phone just to push me to do it and get perceived fears out of my head. I can keep painting but what else would I do, right? What a dilemma.

I just told myself that I will just allow God to surprise me.

I did it anyway, and had my last day of work a couple of weeks ago. It has been an extremely busy 2 weeks filled with, you got it right, surprises!

Busy And Productive Outside The Four Walls Of An Office

img_20160820_203612My friend has been asking me to help her with the events business and I wanted to do something fun, so I did. I’ve been doing corporate events all my working life anyway. It was one flurry of corporate events after another and I had worked and met with wonderful people – the production teams, clients, talents and suppliers. I have missed the adrenaline rush of running a show and being part of a good team. I even got to meet up with friends in Cebu (yes, I ended up in Cebu for a day).img_20160831_204924

Getting to know my neighbors is something I have been missing all these years as well. I never really did get a chance to meet or interact with my neighbors. I’ve never been a social animal and my schedule has always been terrible so I actually do get a chance to talk to them and know more about them.

Being out of an 8-5 job has its perks. I finally get to be part of special events and milestones in the lives of good friends. I never would have been able to do this if I had work.

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Because I just had to take this picture.

Last August 17, Cecil a.k.a. Chuvaness launched the ChuvanessXNBS line. It’s a must get line of products not just for the quirky, cute and adorable design but the quality of the products. It’s still available at National Bookstore and hoard now because they would be great gifts in the future and I don’t know if it will be a limited edition thing. Cecil is one of the most talented, warm, thoughtful and generous people I know. She has always been ready to help and there at my lowest. I look forward to her “Zee, how are you?” calls or messages (in the sweetest and most distinct malambing tone). I love her and her style to bits!

 

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Available at selected National Bookstores!
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Know more about Daphne through CHIC

Last week, another friend also had a milestone and I’m glad I didn’t miss that too. Daphne Osena-Paez launched her new book entitled CHIC. She has been working on this book the whole year and I know she worked so hard on it. I just couldn’t miss it as well and I didn’t. I had the time. Daphne has always been one to push the envelope, from her linens, furniture, jewelry, Daphne.ph, endorsements, hosting, now her book. She’s quite an admirable entrepreneur and silly to boot. She makes me laugh so hard and face palm as we exchange mundane issues in life.

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These two are inspiring people and very different from each other. I am lucky to have been part of their milestones. They are both very encouraging and give good advice all the time. They are supportive and encourage me to keep pursuing my art and writing. They hustle and work as hard as anyone in the corporate world. It’s heartwarming to get support from people you admire.

My take out from the last two weeks is that it’s not easy to be an artist/stay at home mom/entrepreneur. You have to work twice as hard, search for opportunities, motivate yourself daily. You have no set KRA’s that guide you or a company mission-vision to follow. You create your own on a daily, weekly basis. Your mission-vision is for yourself and your family – to be a better person, mom, wife, sister, daughter. This is a challenge for me. Heck, choosing the dinner menu is a challenge for me.  I can’t hide behind a desk, my schedule and my laptop anymore. I am exposed to the world and the wonderful people around it.

The good thing is that despite its being hard, I can be myself, I can wear what I want and can freely think and create.

I’ll make most out of this opportunity, just have God surprise me some more and yes, write about it. Maybe one day, it will be useful to someone going through the same thing.

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Zee

 

Lies Can Kill Supermom

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Death Of Supermom

I had my daughter at 27 years old. Pretty good age, I would think. We have both been through tough times. She’s my best friend now and keeper of my secrets and pains. We have a relationship based on honesty. “Always be honest to momma.” I tell her. “Always be honest to me.” She replies. We tell each other the truth even if it hurts sometimes. I tell her the truth even if it means that she sees her mother, weak, vulnerable, making mistakes or major disasters. We have learned to laugh at them. I open up to her about my work, my struggles, relationships, and financials. Everything is an open book and she has her inputs about this as well. There are times when the best advice comes from her. In fact, she’s the one who reminds me that we have been through much more and survived when I hit a rough patch. I’ve been mulling over this and have seen different dynamics especially with single moms.

We have heard so many times that honesty is the foundation of relationships. Sometimes we forget that we have relationships with our children. We shield them from the truth thinking that it’s best for them. As mothers we try to present a strong facade, and portray Supermom. I think not just towards the kids but towards society as well. It’s so much easier to tell them what to do and not involving them with “things that are just for adults”. We can shut them out and they live in a bubble of video games and toys, not knowing what’s going on.

We program them to think what we want them to think but these kids eventually grow up into adults, with their own thoughts and their own opinion. They turn into adults exposed to other people and experiences. Then they realize that their mother lied.

They look back and realize that the man knocking at the door weekly was not the nuisance she didn’t want to see but a bill collector, the “uncle” she introduced to you was the boyfriend who broke her heart, the man who visits was not a friend but their dad, the shatter and scream you heard as a kid was not a broken mirror but was your dad hitting your mom, many small and big lies. Everything to shield the child from “adult things” At the end of the day, all contradiction and lies.

We try to shield our children from truth and try to paint a picture of perfection but it can bear a lot of resentment and anger in the end. Children are little adults. They feel, see, hear, understand and want to help. They also love their mothers and the most hurtful thing for a child is knowing their mother lied to them all their life. SuperMom dies because all the kid will remember would be the lies.

I plan to continue to be honest and transparent to my child. She’s 12 and is my best friend. Our relationship is based on respect, honesty and teamwork. We go through every single challenge together – win or lose. We learn from this, build a stronger relationship based on this and love each other more because of this. We mutually love each other, imperfections and all. As she goes through her teens, this bond is something we need to strengthen more than ever. I am glad I started early.

What do you think about propagating honesty and transparency with your children?

ZEE

 

 

Turning 39 Birthday Blues

I dread birthdays and mine is coming up in a few days. I’ll be honest, I’m scared of aging. Not just in a physical sense but more of the fact that I really want to grow old with my daughter and pursue the many things I want to do and fulfill in my life. Welcome to my annual birthday blues post.

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30 years from now according to Aging Booth app and if I remain untouched by..err.. facial enhancements.

Wrinkles are fine but I don’t plan to just go without a fight. I will continue to marinate myself with argan oil and rosehip oil every night and slather sunblock every day! Like aged rib eye steak! We shall tap into more drastic methods if we need to!  Those botox injections were not just created to stop your armpits from sweating, you know! Though the show “Botched” scares the heck out of me. I think looking like a weird cat woman scares me more than the wrinkling.

What scares me the most would be the lower level of activity in the future as I can already feel my muscles and bones creak because of the lack of exercise. I see articles of 70, even 90 year olds pushing their limits and doing gymnastics and marathons and all I can say to myself would be “What’s my excuse?”.

Like this 86 year old gymnast with a Guiness World Record. You go, grandma!

I guess for the last year of being in my 30’s, I better push myself some more so that I can physically sustain myself for 40 more years or so. Haha.

I have a 12 year old and I had a really bad health scare from 2011 to 2013. It was something we had to overcome as a family and what gave me hope was my little girl. She is turning out to be a very conscientious and responsible young woman and I want to be there for her when she has many more “firsts” in life like stalking her and her date during the prom. I want to continue to support her and reassure her (because she can be quite anxious) when things are not going too well and even if they are doing great. I want to continue to be her biggest cheerleader and ally for as long as I can. Go, Team Bea!

Plans. Sometimes they happen, sometimes they don’t. Either way, it’s nice to plan and dream. My hubby and I have a lot of plans and dreams.
He wants to watch Wrestlemania and I want to try out the restaurants on Man versus Food, be a full time artist or work in the beauty industy and be surrounded by beauty products (Hey, it’s a dream. ).

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We talk about them before sleeping at night. I’ve learned to let go of my dreams and just be surprised and happy with what comes my way. It’s so much easier (and less stressful) that way. My husband taught me that. I used to plan and obsess and make sure things happen. Life was plotted on an excel sheet and everything documented and listed down to make sure my plans happened. I lived this way for the longest time and more often than not, I got the things I wanted. You get what you want but it does not necessarily mean you’re happy. I would rather be happy. Still, we plan, prepare what we can and pray it does happen. Hopefully, we have 40 more years to fulfill them.

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Wheelchair races at 85?

If there is anything I have not been too happy about, it is the past several years of inactivity. I have learned to fall in love with sleep and just staying home doing nothing. Now, it’s so hard to go back to being active again. It’s so hard to push myself again. Good health it seems is the key to not fearing the aging process. I know I have to start now, before it’s too late and totally give up on it altogether or my body gives up on me.

Haay…If I’m scared now, I will probably have an anxiety attack when I hit the big 4-0.

 

ZEE

New Year 2016

2016 has rolled in. We really didn’t welcome it with a big bang. I left for Cebu with my little girl while my hubby was left to old the fort here in Manila. Visits to Cebu can be fun and stressful at the same time.

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Tourists in our own city.

 

The kids rarely see their cousin (my daughter) so every night is slumber party night. Of course we have to keep watch or referee… eventually, one kid ends up crying.20151227_152306_resized

 

I didn’t even get to spend time with any of my friends (sorry, guys), it was all about the kids shopping, games, food and more food, visiting places they Googled about like this Cat Café and Café Tiala. All good fun.20151228_143255_resized

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Café Tiala. You can borrow onesies and costumes and play video games in tiny rooms.

 

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We’re not really cat people but we went to Cat Cafe

They have all grown up so fast. Soon, they’ll be teenagers and I don’t know if they would want a mom or aunt chaperoning them. The thought breaks my heart but on the other hand, it gives me time to sleep and rest. Haha. Really, I don’t want to think about the time they’ll be gallivanting on their own. 😦

 

2016 will be a great year. I just know it. I don’t know what it will bring. Everything just seems so unsure but I’m just going to just go with the flow and let things surprise me.

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Happy New Year, everyone!

 

 Zee

 

 

50 First Dates With Me

50_First_Dates_1I have been wanting to post this for a while but I forgot. That’s the problem, I forget. For the past 3 years, I’ve been getting absence seizures because of this congenital brain deformity (to be honest we really don’t know when this started). Nothing to worry about except for the fact that every time I seize, I forget some things. Things like what that thing you have in your hand is called. You know, the thing that you use to call and text people. That thing you hold against your ear and causes carpal tunnel…that thing. For the life of me, I would not be able to recall what it’s called until hours or a day after. Same as that yellow thing you use for writing and drawing with the pink eraser at the end. It’s not just these things I forget, I forget things that happen to me too. I have blurry memories of dates and activities with family and friends. Blurry memory if I’m lucky. At times, I get a total blank. Funny but it doesn’t really affect much of the memory related to work or heavy data. Stupid right? I can still remember the YOY net income of the company I worked at years ago.

It gets frustrating. It frustrates me that I don’t remember much, it frustrates me that my family sometimes has to talk to someone as if it’s a game of…I forget..the game where you have to act out things..wait, I have to ask a friend. Ah…Charades. That game.

It scares me too. I have images of Drew Barrymore in 50 First Dates. A movie I really didn’t like, by the way. I felt that the female character, Lucy was asking too much from the male character, Henry. I mean seriously, all that effort every single day just to make her remember, every day for the rest of their lives. I do have maintenance medication but I do forget to take them at times, get episodes and I end up crying when a bunch of data gets booted out of my brain. My husband patiently reminds me of the things I forget. He reminds me of the dates we’ve been to, the things I have done or bought, the things he did. He reminisces while I listen as if it’s the first time.

“Oh, how sweet of me or wow, how could I have done that?” I would say in reply. I have no memory of these things at all.

I laugh at how we were and happy at how we are at the present. That’s just it, I live for the present now. I try to be as happy as can be every single day so that in case I forget, I don’t have to worry. In case I forget, my husband and daughter have a good story to tell me in the future to laugh about. The good thing about this is that we try to love each other as much as we can on a daily basis. My husband tries his best to make me fall in love with him every single day and vice versa. We aim to have good memories every day. Just like 50 First Dates, we love and live one day at a time.

Zee

  • I will be posting regularly now and keep this site as a journal. You know..in case I forget. Do you know anyone else with the same problem? It would be great to hear about how they cope.

Empty Calling Card, Full Heart

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There are just some things that are more important than work. Admittedly, it took a while for me to learn all this. I was independent from my family in my early twenties (in the Philippines, that’s pretty early or unimaginable) and have been stressing about household bills and surviving for around 16 years. I guess working my ass off to have food to eat and save for my future was hard-wired into my system. Things changed when I had my daughter and my second marriage. Work didn’t seem to be THE priority. Whatever joy I derived from work just didn’t seem to compare to the joy I had at home. This actually confused me. For many years, I latched on to my work and it slowly ate me away – my body, personality and my joy. It turned into an addiction and just like any addiction, difficult to manage.

I stopped working for a few months this year. Dropped everything and stopped working. For the first time in 19 years, there was no company name attached to mine. Questions such as, “What are you doing now?” or “Where are you connected now?” was something I dreaded. I came out with a blank. I had no calling card.

For the months of September and October, I decided to just recuperate and re- align myself. I focused on family, friends, painting and resting. Things and people I love. In a span of a couple of months, the addiction called work melted away.

My husband and I had a long talk about our situation. My choices in the next few months were crucial. If I were make a wrong choice when get back into the rat race, all would have been wasted. At this point, I told my husband that I wanted to step back at work, paint, write more and support him. The decision came with huge sacrifices but we feel that it’s all worth it.

I’m back at work now. Everything has been working well so far. It’s so hard to consciously pull back but I know that it is needed and a decision made. I apply my “Decide, Do, No Looking Back” motto again.

Some question my decision of taking a few steps backward career-wise but you know, when we die, our tombstone won’t have a company logo, credentials and a position title. So yeah, get over it.

There is nothing is more important than being happy. There is nothing more important than family.

Zee

Vader, Our Sith Puppy

I couldn’t post this earlier. It was too painful and I would end up crying.

Exactly 6 months ago, we lost our baby Vader. I was asleep in our room, our helper was in the bathroom and we both heard our front door open. I thought it was her, she thought it was me. I heard frantic barking from Luna the pomeranian and next thing I know, our helper barged into our room wrapped in a towel telling me frantically that Vader, our baby teacup poodle was gone. We ran to the building security and reported the loss and they started searching. We tried everything on the days that followed.

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Left his things outside so that he can find his way home.

We even contacted Mr.David Consunji who pleasantly and immediately helped us. My email must have been one of the most amusing he had received for the week but I am thankful they exerted all efforts. My letter (sensitive data deleted):

Dear Mr. Consunji,

We are residents of Tivoli Garden Residences. Yesterday (May 25) at around 8:30 a.m., our black poodle went out of our unit and into the hallway of the 39th floor. He was never found. I know we were remiss in having the door unlocked or even open but we are appealing to your kind heart to help us find our dog.

We have placed posters at the Iris Bldg., did door to door flyering at the building and have informed the security and asked for them to view the CCTV footage of the elevator. We feel that he might have entered it and went to another floor. We were informed that we do not have CCTV at the hallways yet as we are a new building. We have done everything and ended our search at midnight last night.

In fact, we have gone to social media and our call for help has been shared and reshared on Facebook. We are that desperate because Vader was family. We are all devastated.

You are our only hope to ask the security to take the matter seriously as we get mixed reports or they just say “makikita rin yan” or “nanakaw na yun”. We have not lost hope and will keep hoping that he is still within the compound.

I thank you in advance for even giving us the time to even read this email. I know this may be inconsequential for some but as my daughter said, Vader, our dog is family and we don’t give up on family.

Sincerely,

Zarah Hernaez- De Joya

I was sobbing for days. Vader our baby was truly our baby. He gave my family so much joy and love. He went with us almost everywhere and weekends were spent walking him at Bonifacio High Street. He had his own Twitter account: @sithpuppy and his own Instagram account. He was family and our hearts were broken.

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Vader Come Home

Some people may not understand how we had so much love for a dog, a pet, but this little guy made life so much brighter for our household.
He was stolen for sure. Who could have opened the door? How can a dog of 4 lbs. disappear at the top floor of a high rise condominium?
They say he was stolen because we never had him neutered and some dogs get stolen for breeding. We didn’t because we didn’t want to cause him any pain.

We kept searching for weeks. We even went to the pet markets – Cartimar, Tiendesitas, Arranque Market, ready to buy him back if we have to. He wasn’t there. We went through pet buy and sell sites hoping to see his picture. Friends and even celebrities posted our call for help.
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Heartfelt thanks to all those who helped us find him, Anne Curtis, Boyet Sison, Ellen Adarna and Ramon Bautista. Pet lovers all. People sent us leads but it wasn’t Vader. Every time someone sent us a message that they saw a lost dog or a black poodle, our hearts skipped a beat only to be crushed in disappointment and I would cry again. I cried and I still cry for my baby Vader, 6 months after he disappeared. The support was overwhelming. A man we didn’t know even painted his toe nails in solidarity with us and our search for Vader. This made us smile, God bless him.

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Black toe nails with paw prints.

We will never give up but we’ve come to accept that he might be in someone else’s home now. We just pray that they love our angel as much as we loved him. I can’t even call him a pet or dog, he was truly my baby. Vader was love.

A friend said one can never get over the loss. You just have to create space in your heart to love a new baby puppy.

Marriage: Always A Work In Progress

It has been quite a while since my last post. In fact, almost a year has passed. I left everyone hanging while in the middle of packing my former life to move on to the full fledged life of a newly married (again) woman. The move to the new place didn’t go to smoothly and I’m sure some of you have experienced some condo turnover blues. In fact, I think we have the entire People’s Republic of China on the floor right above us. We have learned to live in peace the past year.

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Chairs from Craftsmithliving

A new home requires new things and finding the right pieces (that we could afford) and trying to “marry” the home ideas of two individuals was a bit of a challenge. In fact, during my last move to Makati, the house was up, running and decorated in 4 days..all from scratch (See post on: Ngarag Central ) Of course, I had to be confined at the hospital for 4 days after that ordeal but my place eventually looked like this: The Impatient Patient’s Place . it was easy because I had full run of the house, budget and the entire hullaballoo. I want a floral rug, I get a floral rug! Now, I have to consult and remember that this is not a temporary abode but something more permanent, our home. Plus, I have to consult..and consult and sometimes that doesn’t really work out too well and to think my husband and I have pretty much the same taste. We just wanted furniture that made us happy like this table and set of wrought iron chairs from Craftsmith Living or have a TV rack and a wonderful Bomb chair made by LongLive Upcycled things.

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TV Rack from Long Live Upcycled things made from vintage windows and recycled wood
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Bomb Chair by Long Live Upcycled Things

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The past year also required a lot of purging and giving away of old things and furniture. You can only fit so much in 100 square meters. Seriously. Throw, clean, give away..haggle over what to keep and what not to keep, have cabinets done and just making sure there’s a semblance of order. We are far from done, actually. We just needed to pause for a bit to put up artworks of love. Our own works and ones collected through the years. Art at home make us happy.

We are literally still building up our home. Adjusting, purging, making sure everything is perfect and working like finely-tuned machinery. It has not been easy but building a home and marriage has never been easy. You just have to keep going and trying. It may take months, years, even a lifetime. When things get tough, we pause and do things that make us happy. There are some things that just cannot be resolved so, we create our own rules and practices that just make the family happy. Every home is different, every family is different.

Marriage a year and a half later, is still a work in progress.

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Banyo Art: A reminder to the toilet users at home
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Knowledge: Signage for our study (acrylic on canvas)
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Le Carnivale: A family portrait of my different, happy, funny family. Acrylic on Canvas 4′ x 6′
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Art adds so much colour to our home.

Cranky Piece Of Humanity

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All three descriptions = me

On an average, I wake up at least 7 times everyday before my alarm sets off. Thrice as the puppies wake me up at 3:30 a.m. and I let them out at 5, twice as my hubby’s alarms go off, once to wake up my daughter and another to send her off to school.. No wonder I’m a cranky piece of humanity.

I’m typing up this article at 5:30 a.m. like a perky morning person when I definitely am not. I don’t even try to be and set my alarm at 7:30 a.m. because I know I am not wired to be a rooster. I am an owl.

I wish I could sleep earlier but nope, that’s pretty impossible. I’m usually the last person asleep at around midnight or so.

This is quite an irritable dilemma. Has been for a while. I force myself to go back to sleep at 6:30 a.m. and end up over sleeping and still cranky – irritable, strange and working badly, even sick.

Right now, I’m wishing that Mother’s Day comes along (that’s practically a year from now) and I ask for a day off. A day all to myself with no bother, no noise, no people. Nothing.

We really should have annual VFLL’s – Vacation From Life Leaves.

I don’t know how long I can function this way, really. Maybe it’s a sign that I should be a morning person…God forbid.