This morning, I watched my eldest son, Carlos lose his first tooth to the dentist.
It was necessary for the dentist, Dr. Hizon to remove one of Carlos’ temporary teeth to give way to his permanent tooth which was already protruding. My son was fidgety at first but Dr. Hizon calmed him with her convincing pep talk and a promise of free stickers should Carlos cooperate with the procedures.
I watched in silence. Carlos was incessantly babbling and obviously trying to delay the dentist. I realized I started giving him the pep talk instead. In the end, he just closed his eyes and pinched both of his ears as instructed. Then, it only took less than five minutes for Dr. Hizon to get the anesthesia injected and the tooth extracted.
We went home with a smile on his face; one tooth already missing. Carlos is ready for his first day of class in grade two tomorrow at O.B. Montessori.
An hour later at home, I put down my four-month-old baby to bed after nursing her. I asked my mother to look after her so I could get food in the kitchen. Seconds later, I heard my mother shrieked with delight. I hurried back to the room and saw that my baby was already lying on her belly for the first time!
Indeed, a milestone.
Okay, it is almost midnight now. We had our family night early but my four kids would not let go of me so we played more. Until EXHAUSTION overcame them. So now I have my precious, little “me” time to spend before DREAMLAND claims me.
A series of firsts.
We all have our share of the firsts in our lives. I remember mine pretty well: my first audition for a campus newspaper at the University of Santo Tomas; my first job at AVON Cosmetics Inc.; my first attempt to drive a Fuego truck; my first job rejection at SMART Communications; my first mourning for my deceased father ;my first pregnancy and miscarriage; my first attempt to publish a book…
In the coming months, I am welcoming a series of firsts again: my first official business in training and consultancy; my first writing anthology with fellow poets; my first venture in agriculture which is chicken raising using azolla and my first volunteer missionary assignment with my husband in the Pathway program of Brigham Young University-Idaho.
I’m quite sure that going through brand new experiences are life-changing. Often, it ushers us to the road of self-discovery. It allows us to see things with fresh eyes. It enlarges our soul and prepares us to a wider engagement in life.
In 2013, Erlwin and I experienced the earthquake that hit the Visayas particularly Bohol and Cebu. At that time, we were living at the basement in a three-storey apartment in Cebu with two of our children, Carlos and Alexa. When the ground shook, Erlwin immediately snatched the children from the bed and pressed our bodies hard against a wall. Thankfully, we were able to get out safely after although that nightmarish incident continues to perplex me when I think about it now. Lives perished that day. A city was left in shambles. Heritage sites were toppled down… I realized then, more than ever, that life is short so we better make the most of the time with people who matter most to us. Because we will never know when that time will be taken from us, we need to make everyday count.
So whether good or bad, our encounter with the firsts is inevitable and irrefutable. These are meant to bring out the best in us.
And speaking of the ‘firsts’, here is my first time to write a Japanese kind of poem which is called tanka:
A child’s hearty laugh
Dissipates the cloud of ills
The spring , sunshine warm
Innocence has a fair price;
Commensurate with thy care.
I hope you enjoy this FIRST entry to the newest feature of my page which I call The Sane Mom. I dedicate this to all mothers who like me are struggling to find balance and meaning in this very colorful world of motherhood.
Oh! By the way, I held on to my post as a tooth fairy and hid a one-peso coin under the pillow of Carlos. Goodnight!
I know how it feels to be weighed down by the humdrum of household chores. There are days ( and months ) that seem so bleak and futile as to finding the balance in our lives. ( We want to do MANY things but are constrained due to our demanding roles as wives and mothers).
But there are ways to cope up. I find writing to be so therapeutic it enlarges my perspective in life ; more so with composing poems. In the coming months, I will be more engaged in novel writing.
I find solace as I weave words into the mainstream of my thoughts. I get carried away by the torrents of emotions that remind me of my purpose and direction.
I started writing my daily journal/ diary when I was nine years old. Over the years, I have chronicled my stories on the pages of my notebooks. When I am dismal or sad or simply having a bad day , I revisit my old self through the eyes of my journal entries trying to connect the dots... Each time I do this, I emerge victorious.
Writing is my ultimate redemption.
My discipline is to write daily for at least fifteen minutes.
I encourage you to do the same. Try and see how writing can be so liberating and can save yourselves from having premature wrinkles.
And a lot of STRESS.
Why don't you start today? Get a notebook and write something that made you happy or fulfilled. Write for fifteen minutes nonstop. If you can only think of problems that baffled you, write it in a positive way. (You don't want to be constantly reminded of your misfortunes in the future).
I'd be happy to share with you some of the poems and articles I wrote and I look forward to reading yours.
In the next posts, I shall give you more ideas how to make journal writing so much FUN!
I survived the day.
In no particular order: I took my three kids to the dentist; I bought groceries for a week; I wrote one unit for a career module; I added 1,000 words to my debut novel; I tended to my baby who is sick and irate (she is purely breastfed). I also finished some surveys required in my full-time job as a training manager.
And there’s more I couldn’t recall.
ALL IN ONE DAY.
Today, I also felt physically exhausted, emotionally-drained, and mentally exacerbated. Fulfilled? Oh, definitely. Will I embrace the same cycle tomorrow or in the ensuing days? Probably not. There are parts I need to fine-tune, repeat, and maybe cross out.
Two of my children are going to school already, another is one year shy of schooling and the youngest is a six-month old baby. Through these years, I have managed to keep three full-time jobs related to training and consultancy.
Motherhood is unarguably the most fulfilling and noblest of all callings for it endows women the sacrosanct roles of bearing, rearing and nurturing children. It is also very demanding in that it may seem like you are asked to fulfill goals that far exceed your human capacity. What more, women who are working in general will need to perform better at organizing, managing time and resources- on top of many skills- if they are to survive this ordeal.
Here are of some of my take on embracing motherhood and career (and staying alive).
1. Schedule your priorities (please, not the other way around).
Focus on wildly important goal (WIG) as prescribed in the book The 4 Disciplines of Execution. Applying this principle is like punching one finger through a sheet of paper–all your strength goes into making that hole. Your plate is already full. Do not be afraid to drop some or all those activities that have little or inconsequential results. By avoiding focus traps like refusing to say no and trying to make everything a goal, you can narrow your focus to one or two wildly important goals for a given day; otherwise, you are putting a strain on the many aspects of your lives. The late Steve Jobs subscribed to the ideal that learning to say no is as important as learning to say yes. Ask yourself: What is the one important thing I will do today? Identify it then proceed to act.
2. Manage expectations.
A lot of things will change on the arrival of the first baby. Both you and your husband will experience a series of firsts. Cut him some slack and always strive to reach a compromise.
I have experienced many a psychological as well as physical changes when I started bearing children. I had a mild postpartum depression with my eldest son. With the help of friends and family, I was able to overcome it soon. I learned to ease out on matters which were beyond my control. I also became more realistic in my goals especially now that we have four children and each of them brings a whole new plethora of experiences to the table.
You will always end up frustrated whenever you nag about how little time you have left to accomplish your tasks. It is a hopeless feat. Give it up. Moreover, the attitude of perfectionism in all things is crippling. Just as you cannot expect yourself to be infallible in your daily decisions and actions, let it be your guiding principle when dealing with your fellow employees and your family.
3. Pursue an interest outside work and home.
This is important for your sanity and the people surrounding you. An empty emotional tank breeds boredom and boredom is fatal. Likewise, an overworked mother is like a ticking bomb. Stress can take its toll on you and you may explode anytime, anywhere, wreaking havoc on the lives of your loved ones and work colleagues. Find ways to release, unwind and recalibrate. Engage in activities that challenge your intellect in a truly enhancing way. One of my favorite thinkers and philanthropists is Bill Gates who believes in the benefits of having a ‘think week’. Every year, Mr. Gates picks a certain week where he would not think of anything but personal development. He guards it with utmost care from people or events that will distract or ruin his thinking. In the same manner, you can avoid being burned out by being actively engaged in meaningful pursuits. There is more to discover about your hidden talents and untapped potential. Keep digging. Keep searching. But do not take away having fun in the process.
4. Listen to what your body is telling you.
I was 25 when I married my husband in 2006. In ten years, I had seven pregnancies; I lost three to miscarriage, and delivered four healthy babies, two of which were thru C-section. I hovered between life and death during these years due to my condition called Antiphospholipid Antibody Syndrome (APS). When antibodies attack phospholipids, cells are damaged. This causes blood clots to form in the body's arteries and veins. Usually, blood clotting is a normal bodily process. In APS, however, too much blood clotting can block blood flow and damage the body's organs. My doctors explained to me how important that I follow the medications they prescribed, albeit expensive to keep me safe during these pregnancies. But I followed it to the T. Even so today, I go back to my doctor for regular check-ups because my body feels differently now.
There are diverse ways you can destroy your health such as vices, poor mindset, wrong decisions and many more. Steer clear from these tendencies to abuse your body. Extended period of sleep deprivation saps your energy, impairs your judgement, and kills your creativity. You cannot do everything so learn to ask for help when necessary. It is wise to remember that you cannot neglect health and expect to perform at your optimum level. Listen to your body well.
5. Manage your finances
Do you know Lisa Nichols? She is the 6 time best-selling author and world-renowned speaker today. But almost 20 years ago, she was a devastated single mother on government assistance with less than $12 in her bank account. On the outset, one would think that given her dire situation of being born amid warring gangs in Los Angeles bereft of the usual privileges enjoyed by more affluent communities was a permanent disability. Lisa got herself pregnant at 27 and found herself raising her daughter whose father was in prison. The day she could not buy Pampers for her baby was her turning point.
Her story reminds me of thevalue of money in running our earthly affairs. It is such a wonderful privilege to have a job and earn while fulfilling your roles as a wife and a mother. You might be tempted to splurge on material things to reward yourself. That is fine occasionally but I think that this is also the best time for you to build on a solid financial foundation. You may have all the reasons to be busy and occupied but failing to manage your finances well can spell disaster in the future. Pay yourself first. Learn how to save and invest in legit companies that can give you the highest rate of return. Avoid unnecessary debt. And above all, practice prudence. You will never know when emergencies will come so be prepared.
And before anything else fails, go to a higher source for divine help. Whatever is your spiritual or religious background, you can get immense help and inspiration from above. Read your scriptures. Pray. Meditate.
I still have a long road to take before I can claim that I have endured motherhood. Meanwhile, I intend to continue on with a positive note and with a pen and paper on my hand to write my stories along the way.
Do you cheat your way to success?
Posted at Jul 23 2016 07:15 AM
As a training manager, I administer a self-help program that engages my learners for twelve weeks of intense study and immersion in education, jobs search or business. It is a learn-and-do set up where keeping commitments and developing habits are the core principles of success.
I have seen that many students struggle and falter during the first weeks because they were being ushered to a whole new spectrum of activities they were not accustomed to before.
For example, each student is encouraged to save money on a daily basis for the next 90 days. Some fell out of the program, leaving others to persevere until they reached the finish line. Others returned and asked if there was a way to shorten the course.
In other words, they were looking for a shortcut.
I have been associated with mountain climbers who risk it all to climb the higher summit as their next goal. They follow trails and when there is none, they pave new ones. Their satisfaction and bliss are not met when they reach a certain altitude. They go for the peak. It has got to be the peak.
Recently, my husband and I were reunited with an old friend named Dei Jardiniano. He is a very talented person. He paints, sculpts, sings, plays a variety of musical instruments, and climbs mountains.
One Saturday, he invited us to see his property in Batangas which he and my husband could use for a new business venture. We were dressed in our usual smart casual while Dei was clad like he would climb a mountain that day. True enough, an hour later, we discovered that we were to set foot on Mount Batulao: a novice’s initiation mountain.
From the highway, we were to cross a kilometer of a narrow road edging on cliffs on both sides. I started to think of the possibilities that we could fall and die there and no one would ever know it. I held fast to my seatbelt and prayed all the way to what seemed like eternity. My children were oblivious to the situation so they kind of enjoyed the trip. I kept my fears to myself but when we alighted from the truck, I asked Dei if there was a shortcut.
Guess what? There was no shortcut. Dei and my husband hiked for an hour to get to the place while we amused ourselves with the things they sold at the souvenir shop. When they descended the mountain, it started to rain. You know what that meant: the way back would be slippery and dangerous. Imagine the horror on my face when we started to head back. But after a few minutes, I saw the highway once again and I was never happier in my life. I realized it was not that far but because I had those fears going the first time, the way seemed endless.
Meanwhile, Erlwin and Dei were ecstatic. They achieved their purpose and only they could fully appreciate the reward for enduring the hike up the mountain.
This is true with our personal lives. When confronted with challenges, we have the tendency to look for a shortcut.
10,000 HOURS TO SUCCESS
Have you heard about the 10,000-hour rule? In the book Outliers, author Malcolm Gladwell said it takes roughly 10,000 hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field. How did he arrive at this conclusion? Gladwell studied the lives of extremely successful people to find out how they achieved success.
In the early 1990s, a team of psychologists in Berlin, Germany studied violin students. Specifically, they studied their practice habits in childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. All of the subjects were asked this question: “Over the course of your entire career, ever since you first picked up the violin, how many hours have you practiced?”
All of the violinists had begun playing at roughly five years of age with similar practice times. However, at age eight, practice times began to diverge. By age twenty, the elite performers averaged more than 10,000 hours of practice each, while the less able performers had only 4,000 hours of practice.
Evidently, the elite had more than double the practice hours of the less capable performers. One might suspect that the naturally-gifted in music would emerge in this study. If natural talent had played a role, we would expect some of the “naturals” to float to the top of the elite level with fewer practice hours than everyone else. But the data showed otherwise. The psychologists found a direct statistical relationship between hours of practice and achievement.
WHO ARE THESE ELITES?
The elites don’t just work harder than everybody else. At some point, the elites fall in love with practice to the point where they want to do little else.
The elite writer does not wait for inspiration before he writes. He writes for the mere love of it. Out of burning passion.
The elite basketball player attends practices with his teammates and finds more time to shoot basket alone.
The elite student is not confined within the four walls of his classroom. The world is his school.
The elites continue to work even in their slumber! Because the elites love what they do, at some point in their career, it no longer feels like work.
How can we be like the elites using Gladwell’s research?
First approach: Choose a field and practice for 10,000 hours. Spending 40 hours per week over five years would give you 10,000 hours.
The reverse approach: Where have you already logged 10,000 hours of practice? What is it that you do extremely well that makes people ask, “How did you do it?”
We get better at things when we are consistently doing it. But we must start somewhere. We just don’t get lucky. Luck finds those who are prepared for an opportunity being benefited the most.
YES, THERE IS A SHORTCUT TO SUCCESS
You already know how Microsoft was founded. Bill Gates and Paul Allen dropped out of college to form the company in 1975. It’s that simple: Drop out of college, start a company, and become a billionaire, right? Wrong.
Further study reveals that Gates and Allen had thousands of hours of programming practice prior to founding Microsoft. First, the two co-founders met at Lakeside, an elite private school in the Seattle area. The school raised three thousand dollars to purchase a computer terminal for the school’s computer club in 1968. As a teenager, Gates fed his programming addiction by sneaking out of his parents’ home after bedtime to use the university’s computer. Gates and Allen acquired their 10,000 hours through this ingenious strategy.
When the time came to launch Microsoft in 1975, the two were ripe for success.
In 1960, while they were still an unknown high school rock band, the Beatles went to Hamburg, Germany to play in the local clubs.
Were they an instant hit? No! They were actually underpaid. But what did they get out Hamburg experience? Hours of playing time. Non-stop hours of playing time that forced them to get better.
As the Beatles grew in skill, audiences demanded more performances and more playing time. By 1962, they were playing eight hours per night, seven nights per week. By 1964, the year they burst on the international scene, the Beatles had played over 1,200 concerts together. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Today, J.K. Rowling, Britain's 13th wealthiest woman-- even wealthier than Queen Elizabeth II -- amassed fame and fortune for the Harry Potter fantasy series, one of the most popular book and film franchises in history.
When she started writing its first installment, Rowling did not have the luxury of time to fully engage as she was a divorced wife; being extremely poor and raising a daughter while relying on the state benefits. But she wrote and wrote and wrote.
The shortcut to success as evident in the above examples is not achieved by cutting-corners, but by seeing around corners. A shortcut to success is not found by skipping steps, but by stepping out in a different way. It does not come from accepting the way things are--that is someone else’s success--but by imagining and striving to find the way things should be.
Only by finding a better way to do what needs to be done or endeavoring to find a way to do what others say can’t be done can a real shortcut to success be discovered.
In short, finding a shortcut to success does not come from repeating the past, but from reminiscing about the future.
In 2011, my husband and I were back in Cebu. Erlwin was ready to deliver his books to the different branches of National Bookstore in Manila. Because we did not have any publisher that time, we were left to print our own copies of Almost is the Same as Never books and to market it as well.
One day, he left home with four suitcases full of his books.
When he came back after two days, I was all ears to his story. He recounted how he managed to hop from one store to another; got on and off the escalators and elevators of the mall; hailed taxis to load his stuff; and got lost several times before he could locate some of the stores. He was exhausted but he did not quit.
After publishing his first book, he fell in love with writing and now he is devoting more hours writing than he used to.
As I was typing this article in my office, I turned my chair and saw the poster of Steve Jobs mounted on the wall with his wise counsel. It reads: The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you have not found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.
Whatever it is that makes you excited to wake up in the morning and breaks your back at night--because you know in your heart that you found your passion--nurture it. Nurture that talent or skill or gift. Do more than the average. Know that you must be bad first before you can be good. Always compete with yourself. Push your boundaries.
I see this poster of Steve Jobs every day in my office and smile but mostly I see myself in the mirror and smile because I knew exactly what he meant.
'I quit': Why do employees resign?
By Erlwin and Ayo Abanggan
Posted at Jul 26 2015 12:45 PM | Updated as of Jul 26 2015 08:45 PM
Do your employees come and go? Before we answer that question, let's talk about first about the psychology as to what do people really want and why.
Understanding the principle in dealing with them can help you determine what training programs you provide for them and in return, you’ll retain them.
WHAT DO PEOPLE REALLY WANT?
One time, I got a chance to take photos of my friends using my own camera. After every shot, they would immediately come and check how each one of them looked. I noticed that some of them smiled after seeing their group picture while others seemed frustrated.
Why? Is it because the group picture didn’t look good or someone just didn’t look good on the group picture?
We may not notice it but don’t we all do the same thing? We look at our faces first before anyone else. Why is that?
To answer your curiosity: people are mainly interested in themselves, not in someone else.
It can be a very hard task to just keep quiet, but getting the other person to talk about himself is the easiest job of all. We just need to start by asking a few questions, show some real interest and listen.
I use only four words as my starting question: "Tell me about yourself." And they will--and they love it. So always talk in terms of another person’s interests. That person will talk for hours about himself and will never get tired. But wait. When can we share our piece? Remember, when he gets what he wants first, expect that he will give us what we want too. If we won’t, I think we are using the wrong technique.
MAKE THE OTHER PERSON FEEL IMPORTANT AND DO IT SINCERELY
Words like “I believe in you," “I am proud of you,” are precious words we can use to make another person feel important. Various people around us like our boss, employees, friends, spouse, or children long to hear these words from us.
Telling someone “that’s wonderful” or “good job” doesn’t fetch it. But if we put our hands on that person’s shoulder, look him square in the eyes, and say, “I’m proud of you!” then that person will play his heart out for us to make us look good.
I remember asking my wife jokingly if she conjured a spell to make her former bosses promote her just a few months after she was hired. She looked me squarely in the eyes and said, “Because I made them look good.” She always said positive things about her bosses even if others did not.
Stephen Covey’s The 8th Habit points out the same principle: “Defend those who are absent to gain the loyalty of those who are present.”
Every single person in this world wants the attention of other people, whether he will admit it or not. He wants to be listened to; he wants to be heard. Every person has a deep craving--to be important, to be great, to be famous. Why? It’s just the way it is.
After understanding the principle in dealing with people, let’s now understand why proper training can help in retaining them and the risk of letting them go.
Here are the following reasons why we need to retain our people:
• When employees leave, your company loses its knowledge and (often expensively) acquired skills.
• It costs a lot of money to replace defecting employees, reducing your company’s profitability.
• Those losses are compounded when employees go to work for competitors. Not only has your firm been deprived of an important source of value, your rivals have gained it--without having to invest lots of time and money in training.
• Customers who enjoyed working with defecting employees may follow them to competing companies.
• Colleagues of defecting employees may follow them to competing companies.
That’s why proper training allows associates the opportunity to learn new skills and hone existing skills they bring to the job and makes them more productive. Being able to grow in a position and feel good about the job they are doing is important to an individual and their view of the organization.
By investing the appropriate training in an employee, they will develop a greater sense of self-worth as they become more valuable to the company. The company, too, will gain specific benefits from training and developing its workers, including increased productivity, reduced employee turnover, and decreased need for constant supervision.