I see them everywhere lurking around, trying to get my attention. Some are gorgeous, I must admit, but I cannot see myself having a life with any of them. “They are sweet and lovable,” I often hear others say, “Thank you, but they are not my type,” my quick reply to them.
One day, I saw him from afar, and his dark and tantalizing eyes caught me by surprise. He wasn’t gorgeous, but something about him was charming. An odd feeling came over me, but I quickly shook it off; it can never be, he is not my type.
I saw him again a few days later, and I sensed something about him that was quite intriguing; what it was, I did not know. I saw an evident charm that drew me into him; “Could I be?” I asked myself, attracted to him, that is. His gaze seeped deep into my soul, and at that moment, something inside me changed; “should I?” I did!
I decided to give him a chance to get to know me, or perhaps it was the other way around. I gave myself a chance to get to know him. I let my guards down and allowed him to court me and court me he did!
He showed me affection I never thought his type possessed. He had a look in his eyes that captivated me, making me stop whatever I was doing. Instead, I was compelled to spend time with him. It didn’t take long; he made me searched deep into my sanity and asked, “am I falling in love with him?”
He jumped to settle on my lap as if he’s done it before. His alluring eyes met with mine, and there was nothing I could do but return his affection. I picked him up, drew him close, so close to me that I could feel his heart beating; it was overwhelming! He rolled on his back; he stretches his legs; showing me the cutest paws I’ve ever seen! He claimed his territory; he felt at home. I couldn’t help but smile.
For the first time, I heard him purr; it was a sound of satisfaction not only for him, but surprisingly, I shared his sentiment. No, I did not purr. He closed his eyes and curled into deep sleep. I felt his body quiver in comfort as if saying, this is where I belong. Suddenly something magical happened as I watched this precious guy sleep peacefully on my lap; I fell in love.
For the first time, I fell in love with a kitten, yes, a kitten! He has the most gorgeous black fur with specks of grey that almost shines in the light. He possesses the most dazzling yellow eyes with intensity like the sun. He is irrefutably handsome! He has an undeniably prodigious personality that can go from being in charge of everything to total helpless submission. Yes, he can be annoying and demanding at times, but what cat isn’t?
I delight in watching him chase a ball, tossing it everywhere and, at times struggling to get it off his claws. I enjoy watching him jump for the feather I dangle in front of him. I love to see him crouch down like a tiger ready to catch its prey, but for him, he is merely playing, trying to snatch the dog’s tail. I am fascinated by his curiosity as he goes from one area to another, checking everything in his environment; he is quite intelligent!
I enjoy every moment with him! I never thought I could fall in love with a cat. I was gravely mistaken about them. Yes, cats are lovable! Yes, cats are sweet! Yes, I fell in love with a cat, and his name is Kula!
See yourself for who you were created to be; a beautiful masterpiece.
I was never good with compliments, especially when I hear someone tell me I’m beautiful, I used to ask myself, “Are they blind?” Honestly, I still do. I would look in the mirror and try to see what they see, and for some reason, I fail to recognize it. What happened to me? Why can’t I see what others see?
I hated having my photos taken because of the way I saw myself. I used to hide every time the family photos were taken. Now, there are selfies everywhere! I would try it and try it, but then delete and delete it! Yes, you are right, I have low self-esteem; well, I had very low self-esteem, but I worked through it and continue to do so every day.
“Hi, my name is Jennifer, and I am a recovering insecure person.”
“Beauty isn’t about having a pretty face. It is about having a pretty mind, a pretty heart, and, most importantly, a beautiful soul.” – Anonymous
Beauty that we see in photos is all superficial, but most of the time, the insecurities go deeper and hidden. I’m sure some of you can relate. There is so many photo application out there to fix one’s flaws or change an appearance altogether; everything to make one look beautiful in their eyes. I am guilty of that. I have tried filters to cover my flaws, and most of the time, there is nothing wrong with that; however, the danger is in failing to see one’s true beauty.
“Beauty is the opposite of perfection – it’s about confidence, charisma, and character.” – Anonymous
Insecurity affects more than physical attributes. Insecurity hindered my progress in life, blocked my ambitions, it told me that I could not be who I wanted to be. Insecurities affected my relationships; it clouded the way I viewed myself; It killed my dreams.
Insecurity is debilitating and a hindrance to one’s personal growth, professional productivity, and success in life. Many suffer from it, and unfortunately, this is prevalent even in our children and teens today. Insecurity is a silent killer, and we must be careful and address it when we see it. I suffered from it very early in life, and I wish I knew how this would affect me as an adult.
Many of our youth today believe that they have to look perfect. Some, unfortunately, suffer from insecurity so severely that it affects our youth’s everyday life, including their physical, emotional, and mental health. They tend to compare themselves to others, to be prettier, or to be skinnier than everyone else. They look for beauty in the wrong places. They seem to have a false perception of what being beautiful is. Some become bullies to compensate for how they truly feel inside, and some become victims of bullies because they do not see their real value. Insecurity can be dangerous in both scenarios.
“The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” – SteveFurtick
It took me a while to realize that beauty does not come from perfection. It does not solely come from looking good, though there is absolutely nothing wrong in trying to look good if it gives you confidence in life. In fact, I encourage it. I believe that when you dress up and look good, it can provide a boost of confidence. However, one must be careful not to depend on merely looking good to boost their self-esteem. This is false confidence.
It took a while for me to understand what being beautiful is, where I can find it, and how I can reveal it. It took me a while to realize that I am beautiful. We are all created uniquely in the image of God. We are all fearfully and wonderfully made. We were given abilities and talents that make us all beautiful in different ways. I was wonderfully made by my creator, and in that, I can rejoice.
I am beautifully made, and I should see it every day and be grateful for it! Therefore, I will be bold and claim that I am beautiful, not in a superficial image, but beautifully made creation by a magnificent artist. He created me in His own image; therefore, I am beautiful the way I am! Insecurity should not exist because God made me beautiful, able, and capable!
“True beauty in an individual is reflected in their own soul.” – Audrey Hepburn
You might say, “that’s easier said than done!” You are absolutely correct! It is easier said than done, but it doesn’t mean that we must accept insecurities in our lives. It doesn’t mean that insecurities should live and subconsciously dominate inside us. I think a little insecurity can be humbling, but we must be guarded and make sure that it doesn’t consume us. It did me at some point, and the result wasn’t pretty.
“The real difficulty is to overcome how you think about yourself.” – Maya Angelou
Overcoming insecurity is very difficult, especially if it has taken residence in one’s heart for a very long time. This is why it is imperative that we intentionally communicate the importance of seeing true beauty to ourselves and, most notably, to our younger generation. The earlier, the better. Children must-see, not the superficial but their true inner beauty. They need to know that they were created beautifully, able, and capable. When they feel beautiful inside, it will reflect on the outside. When we see our true beauty and value in life, everything is within reach, and fear will take the backseat. Insecurity is a silent killer, but true beauty is powerful. Focus on the beauty not the beast in you.
See yourself for who you were created to be. Believe in yourself and live a life full of beauty. When you see the beauty in you, you see the beauty in others, and all that surrounds you.
We all do our best as mothers; we raise our children the best way we know-how. We make sure we create lasting memories. We teach them right from wrong, and we are there to guide them in life. We hope that someday they will remember everything we’ve done, but what exactly do we want them to remember? Is there something specific?
Last year, my mother in law passed away. She was a wonderful woman. I had the privilege of receiving her kindness, generosity, and love for 20 years. I knew she was a sweet woman who had a big heart. She was someone who everyone knew had a servant’s heart. She did not mind helping those who are in need. Though I knew these things about her, not until I heard the testimonies about her during her memorial service did it hit me hard.
My husband talked about her mother’s legacy; her extravagant love. Karen was an extraordinary woman with an extraordinary love to share. She demonstrated this love by her dedication to her husband, children, grandchildren, friends, and people in her community. My mother in law had a servant attitude. She gave her time to help and serve people around her. She never asked anything in return; she gave and served.
She did not only leave lasting memories for her children; she left a legacy that is to be passed on to the next generation. It was a turning point for me; it was a moment of reflection. I realized that on top of my obligation as a mother, I needed to develop a legacy. I needed to create not only memories for my children, but a legacy that they can pass on to the next generations.
My husband saw the incredible value his mother possessed and made sure he conveyed it to our children. The testament he shared about his mother’s legacy made me re-evaluate my ways. What kind of legacy am I leaving my children? Is it one that they can also testify on when I’m gone? Is it something they can pass on to their children?
Hearing my husband’s eulogy made me understand the importance of passing on a legacy to the next generation in our family. He and others witnessed his mother’s extravagant love, her willingness to give, and serve without hesitation. I want my children to see the same thing in me now. I want them to see something valuable in me that is worth passing on to our future generations.
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
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.
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, 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.
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.
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!
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 to 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 a 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 anyone could 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 revealed it was indeed MS, some revealed otherwise, I was a bit relieved, but then, 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 in 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. Now, 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. Now everything was making sense.
Though medication controls both conditions, there is no cure for Dystonia, and when I go through dystonia storms, there’s nothing I could 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 had 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 had traumatized my daughter. I placed myself in danger of falling and hitting my head on the ground, perhaps not waking up ever 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 toAcceptance and
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 had 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
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.
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.