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A Safari Experience

Last Saturday was a corporate family day. They do this event once a year. I like it better than any other social occasions like Christmas party and such because, for an introvert like me, it’s heaven. You can be among people you are not forced to socialize with. They hired the entire place for member only, free food and drinks and personnel enough to cater to your needs. What could be better than that?

This time it was a zoo they hired. I was skeptical. I hate animals in captivity and if they are there to parade for your pleasure, I hate it even more. That is why I don’t go to the circus or zoo. But I was pleasantly surprised. There were no cages, no fences, all natural open-air surroundings. What they did basically is to turn acres of acres into a jungle, then section off the place into different rooms, each designed for the needs of a particular animal. The division is so subtle it isn’t obvious and each section is so huge you can get lost. You will have an impression that the birds are free to fly around but if you look closely, high above are concealed nets to keep the birds where they are supposed to be. You can even walk among the vultures. They keep track of your movements but other than that, they are pretty docile. The enclosures and viewing areas are so cleverly designed that you can watch the animals without interfering with their privacy. They don’t even know you are watching them.

They named the areas according to the kind of animals you will discover in that specific place; what do you think of Rainforest, Taiga, Tundra and Savannah? Inviting, isn’t it? 

There is an amazing play area for the kids (including big kids) with a huge seating area to rest tired feet, also a number of small play areas dotted along the way.  And those little interactive sections throughout the zoo are also fascinating. There are restaurants and places to drink and have snacks. The parking area is big enough to accommodate thousands of visitors. All and all, it was a positive Safari experience. No wonder the establishment is voted year after year including this year the best park in the country.

I don’t know if I’m going to be back. I hate doing things twice and new surroundings are much preferable than something I’ve already seen. Besides, once you already have seen something, the novelty is gone. How many ways you can see a giraffe for example.

But I did learn something. The lesson I’m walking away with is ‘give something a chance’ who knows, like me, you could be in for a very pleasant surprise.

(Pardon any mistakes. Too tired and too lazy to edit today)

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Calendar

“Time spins away like a mad spider’s web, cast open over the gulf of time and existence…the pages of the calendars tear themselves off the screen, like in old movies. The pages flip past before we realize. It’s astounding! I never remember traveling this quickly in the past.”

Here we are again, another year is about to end before it could really begin. It seems like only yesterday when we started writing 2018 on greeting cards, personal agendas, and journals and look where we are now, Christmas is just around the corner and Halloween is on the threshold following hard on the heels of Thanksgiving and after that, another year, a new beginning all over again.

What I have learned this year?

Well, after years of waiting for a definitive conclusion, I now have a clear diagnose of what is wrong with me. They say I have Fibromyalgia as a direct result of Ehlers–Danlos syndrome along with Rheumatoid Arthritis, Arthrosis and all the painful consequences of the illness. I have Celiac disease and Lactose intolerance and I have abdominal ulcer since I was sixteen.

I learned how to take care of succulents and Cacti. They are still dying on me on a regular basis but out of my 200 collections, only ten of them have perished due to TLC. One died today.

I also learned the importance and benefits of air purifying plants around the house. I suffer from chronic grass/pollen allergy the whole year through and I have a serious case of sinusitis. Since I have my green babies, I have yet to visit a doctor’s office. The only downside of indoors gardening is it is quite addictive. I found out that you can never have enough plants to satisfy your cravings.

What else I have learned this year?

I found out during my three weeks vacation in La Palma that I am not as daring as adventurous as I thought I was nor I love peace and quiet that much. Though my son said to me that the real reason why I don’t do any more risky endeavors is because I have already done it all before and it is long lost its charm since then. I blame it on old age.

I learned how to use make-up and dress up properly without losing sight of comfort which I value the most. I learned to budget and the importance of wants versus needs. I am still learning the art of minimalism in the true meaning of the word which means Minimalism is a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom that allows you to pursue purpose-driven lives.— Sounds great, right? Easier said than done believe me.

This year I discovered the value of learning to accept, forgive and love yourself. I hope to master the art of letting go of the past next year.

What about you?

Do you think that time does really fly?

Did you learn something new this year?

What is your hope for next year?

If you have the time, tell me. I appreciate other people’s stories.

Have a wonderful weekend and see you next week.

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What “Love Yourself” really Means

I’ve always been a master at giving love to others.

However, when it came to giving love to myself, I fell short.

I noticed the way I loved others was skewed; I had no limit to how much I gave. Even when people walked all over me, I kept on giving. In the end, I blamed other people for either not loving me back or for not meeting my expectations.

The idea of loving and giving to others is in itself beautiful and something we should all practice. But, I’ve realized that before giving someone our all, we should decide “why” we’re giving. The motivation behind our love for others speaks greatly of our own self-love. Personally, I gave some people so much in the past, because I was the one who needed love. I unconsciously gave them the love I wanted to be given, and I ended up building expectations around them that they couldn’t meet.

Consequently, I’ve realized that I loved a few people for all the wrong reasons—that if I could only give myself the love I need, I would be happy, and I wouldn’t need to pressure people into giving me more than they can. This is what I realized when I stopped neglecting myself. However, I won’t fool you into thinking that I’m some expert in self-love now; I’m still exploring who I am and how to love myself. But, I have learned a thing or two about self-love over the past few years—which has also affected and altered my way of loving other people.

My love for others has become healthier and separate from my own neediness.

It is said that we must love ourselves first before loving anyone else (or before we can find the love of our life). While this stands true, we shouldn’t practice self-love just for the sake of finding “the one.” Self-love isn’t a means to an end. We should love ourselves for the sake of ourselves first—for our own happiness, benefit, and comfort. Later, when we follow this path, everything else falls into place.

So, how do we do this thing called “self-love”? When I realized I needed to love myself, I didn’t know where to begin—I didn’t even know what “love yourself” means. Now, after years of building a relationship with who I am, I’ve realized that asking ourselves this one question helps us figure out the answer: “How do you love the closest people to your heart?” Think of one person you dearly love and respect (it could be your parent, your partner, your friend, or maybe even your pet). Reflect on how you treat them, how you’d never want to see them unhappy, and how you look after them. Now, do this for yourself…this is how to begin.

When we love ourselves, we are confident in who we are. We don’t need validation on how we look, feel, what choices we make, or what beliefs we adopt. Other people’s opinions become an inspiration or an addition, rather than a dealbreaker. We stop asking for validation when we become our own support system.

We set boundaries with others.

Why do we need to set boundaries with others? Because we know that not setting boundaries with people allows them to take us for granted or take advantage of us, which only breeds misery. To love ourselves means to learn to say “no” when we need to. Not because we’re rude or selfish, but because our emotional and intellectual health comes first. It could be as simple as saying “no” to a hangout if we’re tired or as serious as leaving a relationship that doesn’t meet our values.

We look after ourselves.

Physically and emotionally. You don’t do what hurts your body or spirit. You leave situations, jobs, or relationships that suck the life out of you or devalues you in any way. You avoid drama and what brings you down. To love myself means that I can smell misery a thousand miles away, identify it, and choose not to be part of it.

We’re okay with who we are.

This is a big one. You see, we’re not perfect human beings, and it’s fine. Loving ourselves means accepting our emotions as they are in the present moment. Whether we feel something good or bad, we pause, notice the feeling, and allow it to be. Even when we make a mistake, we are capable of meeting ourselves with honesty and forgiveness. We learn the lesson, understand our imperfections, and will be ready to move on to the next chapter.

We spend time alone.

Loving yourself means dedicating time to yourself the same way you’d dedicate time to other people. You go for coffee alone, watch a movie, read, exercise, and so on. Alone time is pivotal for self-love because it teaches us abundantly about ourselves. Since there’s nobody around us, it means our thoughts, emotions, and choices are not affected or manipulated. Thus, we learn more about what we love, what we don’t like, what we accept, what makes us happy, and what doesn’t.

More importantly, self-love doesn’t include labeling being alone as loneliness or misery. We understand that alone time is healthy and fun. We practice it for our own sake—and being okay with being alone also allows us to give those we love the space they need and the freedom to be because we know we need this space as well.

We don’t stop loving ourselves.

Loving ourselves is not a trip to the mall; it’s a journey that has no end or destination. Just like we would check our bank account, weight, or schedule, we weekly (if not daily) check how our self-love practice is going. For instance, I keep a journal. I’ve been doing this for more than 10 years. Every once in a while, I go through what I wrote the months before and scrutinize my emotions, thoughts, and the lessons—and I work on what I should tweak for myself or toward my behavior with others.

We love others.

Because we value the importance of love, we learn how to love others the same way. We must understand that how we treat ourselves is a reflection of how we treat others and vice versa. That said, we give the same amount of love to others mindfully and consciously. We love others because they, too, want our love—and not because there’s a void within us we need to fill.

~Relephant: via Elyane Youssef

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The Balance Between The Bright Colors Of Humor, Serious Issues Of Identity, Self-loathing, The Possibility For Intimacy And The Love That Is No Longer Necessary.

“I hate solitude, but I’m afraid of intimacy. The substance of my life is a private conversation with myself which to turn into a dialogue would be equivalent to self-destruction. The company which I need is the company which a pub or a cafe will provide. I have never wanted a communion of souls. It’s already hard enough to tell the truth to oneself.”

― Iris Murdoch

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What Is Your Addiction?

I don’t have one.

I do have a fixation problem once in a while but it doesn’t last very long. For the moment it is succulents and cacti. It used to be scarves, then handbags, then blazers then shoes or pizza. My son’s poison is coffee. For D. anything sweet, in particular chocolates, but cakes and ice creams will do. He’s onto it too much that he hallucinates if he can’t eat any of those within three days. My Ex’s weakness is more lethal: alcohol. It’s a habit, a dependency, an enslavement it cost him our marriage and I heard that history is about to repeat itself. I hope not. I hope that he learned already his lessons but does leopard really lost his spots?

How about you? What is your addiction? 

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The Saddest Truth

“No matter how much suffering you went through, you never wanted to let go of those memories.”
― Haruki Murakami

Isn’t it just? 

Though sometimes I wish I have or would develop an amnesia. Selective amnesia for that matter. But then again I thought: the past and my experience sum me up, they made me the person I am today, laughter, tears and pain included. They are lessons learned in a hard way and I wonder if without them I will be still that naive starry-eyed chick I once been. Would I be this knowledgeable, compassionate, emphatic, pragmatic if I never went through that ordeal? I guess not. I guess I just have to accept that:

 “My yesterdays walk with me. They keep step, they are gray faces that peer over my shoulder.” 
― William Golding

And I truly believe that the past is what makes me strong, keeping me in check and stopping me to fall victim to circumstances and abling me to view this life in a very sober manner and at the same time making me appreciative of the little miracles that come my way. So, I’d say shoulder on and be grateful for having those gray faces as companions.

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Genetic Makeup

I have always been fascinated with the DNA of everything. More in clinical ways than theoretical or scientifical. How can I explain it… I want to know the hows and whys of a living organism without spending hours, weeks, years in a laboratory or drowning myself in paperwork. I want to understand why things behave in certain ways. For example, why cacti (and succulents for that matter) know what shape to evolve and what kind of spines, glochids, spinose teeth or whatever they call it to grow to protect themselves. Why they flower when one abuses and neglects them? Why siblings who grew up in the same environment, shared the same genetic makeup, identical background, and upbringing become completely two different individuals, opposite in every way. Why two identical plants, planted side by side in the garden grow completely different from each other, one of them big and robust, the other small, thinly and dying. I once dismantled a transistor radio and a watch of my father out of sheer curiosity. I wanted to know how they work, what makes them tick. I am none the wiser of course after that episode. I lack the knowledge and the drive to pursue the interest. I am more artistically inclined than technical though I like to think I am both. Anyway, isn’t it handy if we understand the mechanism of everything so we can treat them accordingly?

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Am I a feminist?

A Scold’s Bridle is an ancient primitive instrument of repression. They were used in the Middle Ages to curb the tongue of nagging women.

If I had lived during those times, I might… I wonder… for sure they have… but I don’t nag. I merely state the obvious (privately) and my opinions and verdict are always supported by hard facts and I only voiced them out (repeatedly if previous attempts were ignored) as a last resort when the object (or is it the subject) of my dissatisfaction refuses to listen to my case and deliberately missing the points.

Publicly I admit I have some difficulties holding my rather strong views of anything I disagree about (and my sense of humor may be dark, dry and cynical but at least I have a sense of humor) but disagreement is always done with respect and tact and always politically correct that no one can accuse me of being rude. I might say what I have to say too straightforward for everyone’s taste but never in insolence and never in the hope of embarrassing or discrediting someone but rather born out of curiosity and inquisitive mind that refuses to rest unless all the options had been explored. I just can’t accept anything at face value except if my instinct tells me they are true then I shut my mouth, smile, and nod.

No, I have to remove from my mind the possibility of wearing the said contraption if ever I have lived or find myself (you never know with time traveling being possible in the future and don’t forget reincarnation) stuck in that era. But the thought is rather unsettling. Much like the idea of not being able to read and write. Imagine… I can’t think of anything worse than not being able to speak my mind and form an opinion and the freedom to voice them out politically correct or not, which leads me to another question that is in my thoughts for quite some time now: Am I a feminist?

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