Giving From the Heart

What does giving mean to you, and how does giving make you feel?

We often hear that it is better to give than to receive; this is true for me, is it for you? but why is it? 

When I was a little girl, whenever a friend was in need, I always wanted to give, whether I have something to offer or not. I always felt the obligation to find ways to give. I gave whatever I had in excess. One may say I was a very giving person and still am. Somehow, giving gives me a surge of satisfaction. Giving makes me happy. 

Giving can be a burden.

Sometimes the feeling of wanting to give all the time can become a burden; this was true for me as well, especially when I do not have the means to provide. I never understood why I had a more deep-seated desire to give. As time went by, I slowly realized why. 

Giving makes someone happy and, in return, makes me happy. It wasn’t about how I looked to the person or how expensive my gift was; I just wanted to offer something. That’s when I realized giving was never an obligation. I enjoyed giving, whether it was material things or merely giving my time. I understood why It is better to give than to receive.

Christmas and giving

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Christmas is a time for giving. Everyone saves money months before the holiday expecting to spend and give. As time draws near, people start to shop for everyone on their list. We all have our lists, don’t we? Some lists may remain the same, and some may change. Each year people may add new names to their lists, may it be new friends, relatives who somehow did not make it on the list last year, or new clients to show our appreciation. Some lists become shorter, depending on the budget or how people treated us the year before. I know, I know it is sad, but there’s truth to it, isn’t there? But why do we make the extra effort to save and make a list? Is it all about the presents? Is it because we are obligated to do so? It is Christmas, after all. Christmas has always been connected to gifts.

Christmas, however, is more than just giving. It is giving with and out of love; it is giving unconditionally. We give not because it is Christmas, or because of what others may think of us if we don’t, or give because we are expecting something in return. We give because we want to, we give out of love as simple as that! 

Giving should not only be done during Christmas, giving should be done every day. If Christmas makes us want to give, then every day should be Christmas day. I am not saying that we must spend money every day. What I’m saying is that we shouldn’t automatically correlate giving with money or material things. Giving is so much more than that.

Quality Giving

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We can give our time to help someone in need. We can give our shoulders for a friend to lean on. We can give our ears to listen. We can give our attention, our affection, our kindness. We can give our time to the homeless shelters; even animals need care and love, so why not spend time at the animal shelter as well? There are many opportunities out there to give; all we need to do is take a moment and look.

God gave.

God gave, just as it is said in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” God gave something, or should I say someone precious to him, his son. He gave something valuable to us; eternal life. He gave out of love, so should we.

In the course of this holiday season, let us not lose sight of what giving is all about. Let us be intentional and attentive to the needs of others. There are many out there who are lonely desperate to belong — there are many out there who are alone during the holiday seasons, perhaps a widow or someone away from home. Some people may be suffering from physical and mental illnesses and may need someone to be there during the holidays to brighten up their day.

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Please focus on the quality of what we are giving. Let us give from the heart. When giving comes from the heart, it is felt in the heart of those who receive it. Give the gift that can never be forgotten, a gift that can never be replaced, Let us give the gift of love this Christmas, and every day after. 

Thankful For Memories

Look back and find things to be grateful.

Growing up was tough for me. I did not belong to a nuclear family. My mother worked hard raising me, but she had to travel to put me through school. I spent my childhood moving from place to place, living with my grandparents and relatives. Some may actually find that difficult, and yes, it was at times.

There were times of loneliness, times of trials, and there were times of questioning. In the midst of it, there were also times of learning and times of growth. There were opportunities to meet new friends from different places, fun times with cousins, and memorable moments with my grandparents.

Papalolo ” I will always treasure and be thankful for the time I spent with my cousins and grandparents in the province of Bohol, Philippines. The times I spent with my grandfather, who will all call “Papalo,” were very special! I remembered when he used to call out early in the morning, “LARGA!” means let’s go in the Visayan dialect. All of us would get up no matter how sleepy we were still, for it meant beach time. It was bonding time; it was time for fun!

“Mamala”
My grandmother, who will all called “Mamala,” was a great cook. She spent most of her time in the kitchen. My favorite as a kid was her “flying saucer burger.” We call it as such since my grandmother would make it in this flying saucer looking cooking gadget. I will never forget the aroma of the burger as we all enter the house after playing outside; it sure made us all full and happy afterward.

A home filled with love
Their home was nothing special; it was simple, made out of wood and tin roof, but it was big enough to hold more than twenty kids and some adults. It was not a mansion, far from it for sure, but it sure felt like one to us. The house was filled with laughter and love, that’s all that mattered to us.

Fondest Memory One of the fondest memories I have as a child was when all of us would camp on the living room floor. Can you imagine twenty kids in the same room? Chaos right? Well, somewhat, but as soon as Papalo comes in and sits on his favorite wooden chair, we all get quiet. We all get comfortable as we listen to him tell us one of his made-up tales. Some made us laugh, and some were meant to scare us. It was our routine before going to sleep.

The next day, we are awakened by the sound of a man yelling “puto konchinta,” a popular breakfast treat in the Philippines. We all get up, run outside, making sure we don’t miss the man, but as always, Papalo beats us. We find him speaking to the man as if they were best friends. We go back in to see Mamala, with hot cocoa ready for all of us. I will always be grateful for the time I had with my grandparents and with my cousins. One to be cherished for sure!

Thanksgiving
We celebrate Thanksgiving Day by being thankful for many things. We are grateful for good health, for blessings, for family and friends. Every day, I try to be appreciative of everything I have and don’t have. I make sure also to be grateful for the things I don’t have, for it makes me appreciate it more when I am given a chance to have them.

In the spirit of this year’s Thanksgiving, I am making an intentional effort to look back, remember the good times, to cherish the memories I have with the special people in my life, especially those who had passed on and be thankful for them!

Remembering, Regee Cabagnot,Rudolph “Tabugok” Cabagnot, Marcello “Papalo” and Florentina “Mamala” Cabagnot

Happy Thanksgiving!

Turn Struggles and Limitations Into Opportunities To Make A Difference.

Sometime in 2010, as I was walking to the store, I felt a sudden weakness on my left leg, it took me by surprise and fell on the ground. I immediately stood back up, dusted myself off, and went about my way. I attributed it to a simple spasm- no big deal, I thought. A few months later, the same thing happened, this time, my calf was solid as a rock. I told myself that perhaps my body needed more potassium, or maybe I was dehydrated. I ignored it once again until one day; both legs gave out on me.

The Stress of the Unknown

I knew something was amiss. I decided to see my primary Doctor, and after a few tests, I was sent to the neurologist, I started to get nervous. The initial diagnosis was multiple sclerosis, a potentially disabling disease of the brain and spinal cord. My nervousness turned into panic, as you can imagine. I can handle pain, my pain threshold is high, but I am not as tough emotionally and mentally. I started thinking of the worse possible scenarios. I thought about how this illness will change my life, how my family will be affected, and how it could stop me from doing the things I love.

Though some of the tests said it was indeed MS, some said; otherwise, I was a bit relieved, but we were back to square one. I was sent to different specialists for years, and as the years went by, my symptoms progressed, and my stress level skyrocketed, making my symptoms worse. The spasms had gone from my legs to my torso to my vocal cords, making it hard to speak at times. My body would twist involuntarily, and my ankles would twist like pretzels, bringing tears to my eyes. My family did not know what to do or how to help me.

One day, some unusual symptoms manifested. It wasn’t something I’ve experienced before. The left side of my face drooped. I was confused, I had difficult time concentrating, retrieving words, and when I was finally able to speak, nothing made sense. It was a petrifying experience. Stroke most likely was the culprit my neurologist told me, but it started to happen quite often, things were not making sense.

After years of seeking answers and being given a different diagnosis, I was finally diagnosed with Dystonia, a rare neurological movement disorder that causes muscle contractions. Added to the diagnosis was Hemiplegic migraine, another rare type of neurological condition where a headache is accompanied by muscle weakness and other symptoms that mimic stroke. Both symptoms overlapped with each other, one triggering the other at times. Everything made sense. 

Though medication controls both conditions, there is no cure for Dystonia, and when I go through dystonia storm, there’s nothing I can do, but to ride it ‘til it passes. Sometimes I could not help but feel sorry for myself; I, more than most, know full well how self – pity can affect one’s life. The negative thoughts and feelings added to my stress and in return, made my symptoms worse.

Pride Took Over

“My illness is not going to stop me,” at least that’s what I repeatedly told myself, but my condition had something else in mind. I could not keep scheduled meetings, my job was affected, and I lost clients. My husband took over most of my responsibilities as a mother and a housewife; it made me feel useless and inadequate. My condition prevented me from spending time with friends.

I kept pushing through despite the struggle, ignoring the desperate call of my own body to stop and rest, whether I was physically, mentally or, emotionally beat down; I paid no attention to them. I tried to continue to be who I am, a strong person! I planned projects at home and work. I refused help from family, showing them nothing has changed; I can still do things on my own. I continue to smile and put a grand façade, carried on with my obligations until my body could not handle it any longer, and received a wake-up call.

One day, despite all the warning signs of impending doom, I went about my day like nothing was wrong, and before I could stop and think, I was on top of the staircase seizing, putting my whole family in panic mode. The last thing I remembered before losing consciousness was my youngest daughter’s voice screaming in terror. I traumatized my daughter. I placed myself in danger of falling and hitting my head on the ground, perhaps not waking up again. Yes, I was unconscious for a while, but the moment I opened my eyes, it woke me up with a worthy realization. Something needed to change.

Realization Leads to Acceptance and Opportunity: 

I guess I was afraid that my condition would change everything. I was worried that my illness would define me. I was scared to look weak. It wasn’t easy for me, and it took time for me to see the positive side of my situation.I turned things around. I started to find ways to feel useful, to feel complete despite my limitations. My weakness had given me a new perspective in life, and this is to acknowledge the little things presented to me, to see the beauty each day brings, and to savor the limited time I am given each day.

I decided to join a soccer league. I never played any sports before, let alone soccer where there’s a lot of running involved. Still, because I knew I might never be given a chance again, I took advantage of the opportunity to do something I’ve never done before.

I decided to write! I used to create stories in my head as a young girl to help me fall asleep at night, I suppose I still do it from time to time, but this time, I decided to write them down and thus my first book, “Believe” was born! “Believe” never made it to the bestselling category, far from it, but the process was a part of my healing process, a story to tell, and there were no regrets.

I started to add value to myself. I decided to serve and add value to the people in my community. I started sharing my experiences in the hopes for someone to realize that struggles don’t mean defeat; it is an opportunity to find the real beauty in life that we may take for granted. It is an opportunity to find one’s strength; a strength they can share with the world.

I may be limited in what I can do, but I am not limited in power, passion, or opportunity to make a difference in myself and my community no matter where I am or how I feel. I now live with the mantra of doing what you can, when you can, while you can and enjoy every minute of it! Life’s struggles only stop you if you allow it.

Revelation

I was wrong when I thought I lost my identity. I was crazy when I thought my condition defined me. I was wrong when I thought strength was being able to do everything whenever you want to; I was wrong about a lot of things. However, I realized that I am still the same person; I am still all the things I was before my condition, perhaps even a little bit stronger and more spirited.

I needed a little waking up to understand that I am, somehow, a better version of myself now. Someone who can say, it’s OK to take a break and ask for help. Someone who found strength from weakness. Someone who looks for opportunities to be great despite hardship. I needed to see myself as somebody who can take a moment, enjoy the sound of raindrops, and expects the sun to shine again after the storm.