Sunday Lifestyle

What am I grateful for?

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A lot, actually.  Maybe even for the fact that I am slowly but surely turning into one of those old-fashioned, sentimental ladies who smiles at trees and uses homemade natural potions. I do not know what it is about life as I find it now but there are days, like today, when I feel like I basically woke up suddenly more attentive to (and appreciative of) most everything I sort of took for granted, if only because they were always a given.

I do not speak of the big things, by the way; I am thinking more along the lines of waking up early enough to enjoy the way the morning sun casts almost cinematic shadows through our bedroom window; sitting down to enjoy fresh jackfruit that is actually sweet (I am not always lucky when it comes to jackfruit, so many of the ones we have bought turn out to belie their gorgeous golden yellow color and taste so bland!); finding good bread at a random bakeshop by the street at that point when you are hopelessly stuck in traffic and really hungry; perfectly cooked pork chop with plain rice to end the day; a delicious cake aptly named King Oscar (for those curious, this is available at The Peninsula Manila).

Today, I also realize how somewhat strange it is that the more I let things slide off my back (#dontsweatthesmallstuff), the more I take pleasure in taking on small tasks that can make the day more beautiful. For instance, because sleep is such a luxury, I like making a ritual of it. Someone gave me this gorgeous scented spray that wonderfully smells like being stuck on a bed of vanilla pods in a field of lavender (if that is at all possible) and I spritz it lightly on my pillow, feeling very grateful for the gift of being able to snuggle under crisp white sheets at day’s end, one cooking show after the other on the Food Network to lull me to sleep. If both my husband and our 16-year-old are in the same bed with me at that given moment, then all the better. Together we will watch the shows, and plan the next day’s meal.

I also have this relaxing balm that I carry with me everywhere. When the day gets stressful, when a kink needs fixing, or when the sight of a pile of paperwork very simply overwhelms me, I take out my precious little pot of calm balm, that I rub on my temples, my wrists, and the tip of my nose, and I feel better. For others, it may be coffee, but for me, it is this. No, it will not solve the world’s problems but for the moment, there is at least some pleasure to be instantly had that will afford me a second wind to go on, no matter how seemingly insignificant. My husband and daughter think I am a witch of sorts, and they chuckle and think I’m a pseudo-voodoo queen, with all my potions for this and that. But boy, do they look to me when they need something! Maybe other wives/mommies like me can relate — we lug around big bags that make men wonder why we have to bring the whole house with us but when they need a balm and a cure, we are able to whisk it out in an instant, like a girl scout, laging handa!

What else am I grateful for this week? Happy cups of Rose Tea at the C Lounge of The Conrad Hotel, an unobstructed view of Manila Bay before us; a sandwich Richard deliciously put together for lunch (thick slices of mini baguette smothered with butter and piled high with three kinds of cured meats, topped with thick slices of juicy tomato); Pablo cheesecake (so glad it is finally here!); the most perfect and flaky handmade mooncakes, preciously hand-carried by a lovely lady all the way from Japan; many different kinds of Salted Egg Potato chips that serendipitously found their way to our doorstep; and in the non-food category, two pending prayers finally answered, one after the other!

I mentioned trees earlier. I grew up in the province, where there are trees aplenty. They were beautiful then, I’m sure of that, just as they are now. But for some reason I appreciate them so much more now that I am older. We were in Vancouver for a week a few months back, and we spent many of our days taking long walks in the cold weather, bundled up in thick jackets, huddled close together. I remember telling Richard and Juliana that we would do the very same thing when we were all old and gray. We wandered into great big and beautiful parks dotted with beautiful benches; we saw lots of birds and beautiful flowers, beheld the gift of magical sunsets, and enjoyed long lovely meals with friends. Life was not perfect in every single aspect but those very moments, though seemingly ordinary, offered many shades of very beautiful and very wonderful. 

I am older now. I feel I am turning into a tita; sometimes I feel ancient because I do not know all these young artists and their new music. I am drawn to the ways of the old, where brewing leaves and herbs for both health and beauty were the norm and, yes, maybe I am like a witch with my arsenal of essential oils and natural cures. I don’t like things complicated, I do not wish to over-analyze, I do not like to argue or to speculate nor do I seek to find an answer to every question in my mind. I am okay with wondering and not knowing. There is enough to do with what I do know. I also do not want to have too many things; I just want to like everything I do have. Even as I say that, I still do have dreams that I wish one day would come true.  And until they happen, if God so wills it, I just want to find joy in lifting my chin up to the sunshine that I know every day will have and can give. It may rain sometimes, yes, but a little rain can still be a good thing.

I am grateful for all that is, right here and right now.

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