Since we got back from a very long road trip, life has been back to normal. And by normal I mean, very busy being full-time, stay-at-home parents to our 18-month old toddler, Tuz. We’ve gotten back to our natural body clock which is on U.S. Time Zone (I swear, it keeps going back to this time zone for no apparent reason at all!) and we’ve quite settled into our new routine:
- Wake up before or after midnight.
- Fix bed.
- Prepare breakfast/brunch.
- Do chores.
- Let Tuz play in the rubber pool.
- Bathe together.
- Dress up.
- Go out for errands or food at dawn.
- Provide more activities for Tuz.
- Prep meals.
- Do other chores.
- Wind down.
- Sleep before noon or after.
Then the whole thing starts all over again the next day. It’s been like this for a month now.
When I’m doing our routine, it sometimes puts me on autopilot mode and my mind begins to wander…
It wanders to what Mark Zuckerberg said in his commencement speech when he talked about purpose. (What is my purpose?) It wanders to the articles I read about twenty something girls who start their own businesses and succeed (Woah!) It wanders to my batch mates becoming successful professionals in their own fields (Congrats!) And then it wanders back to my life… to me.
I remember when I was 18 years old, I felt excited to turn 40. I just felt like it would be the age when I’d be a lot wiser than before; I’d be who I wanted to be; I’d have life all figured out; my dreams would’ve come true by then; and life would be much easier for me.
Well, 9 more months to go and I’d be 40. Am I still excited? Do I feel any wiser? Am I any closer to fulfilling my dreams? What was my dream back then in the first place? So now it got me thinking. Hmmm…
In case you don’t know me and haven’t had the chance to come across any of my former blogs, let me share with you a little something about myself…
I grew up with not much — not much to eat (which contributed to me having peptic ulcer at a young age), not much clothes (I remember sewing a skirt by hand from a scrap textile my mom had), not much toys (I remember envying my cousins who always had the latest toys from Jollibee and that much coveted Nintendo player I wished we also had) — pretty much living a deprived kind of life I might say. At least that’s what it felt like for me growing up. My mom is a government employee (who’s about to retire next year) who survived supporting 3 kids by getting loans so we can have a better life than she had. My dad, after getting quite sick, has been jobless since I was in high school. On the other hand, I was educated in the best Catholic schools by being a scholar all my life and through the financial help my grandfather gave us from time to time. Suffice it to say that I grew up feeling poor compared to my rich classmates and friends. All I wanted then, my ultimate dream then, was for me to finish college so I can get a job, any job, that can feed me and my family 3x a day or more; help pay for my own space (I’ve always wanted my own space which was why I moved out of my parents’ house at the age of 13 and lived with my grandparents in the province; then at 18 I lived on my own in my step grandmother’s empty apartment for free; then I started renting a studio unit at the age of 22 and eventually took a housing loan for a two-storey, 4 bedroom, 3 t&b townhouse in an expensive city at the age of 29); have a car (if possible) coz I was so fed up getting harassed inside jeepneys and other public transportations; and have something extra to give back to my family too (like pay for my brother’s tuition fee and pay for my parents’ utility bills and more). I graduated at the time of the Asian crisis under former President Fidel V. Ramos and jobs were scarce. So I said yes to the first company that hired me even if I really didn’t feel like it. My goal, my dream was just to get past survival mode and somehow be self-sufficient.
Years quickly passed by. I knew I had a lot of potential in me. I could’ve pursued a different path if I was nurtured enough to want to. I could’ve taken medicine, or law, or became an actress or an artist or any of those usual professions parents would want their kids to pursue. But I didn’t and I honestly thought at that time, given my circumstances, that it was the best thing to do.
I remember after college, a Japanese company wanted to sponsor my master’s degree in one of the best universities in the country. The catch was I had to be a full-time student and must get straight As for two years. I was ecstatic! I wanted to take it! Another full scholarship for me! But because I needed to earn as soon as possible to help my family pay for bills, I sadly declined the offer and said yes to the first company that offered me a job instead, no matter how little the salary. You see, having been brought up in an environment of depravity, I got so messed up in my head. I often went to school hungry. I always worried about where to get my next meal, where to get my next fare going to and from school, my next budget for school projects and books. I never really had the chance to nurture my passions nor did I have the luxury to stop and ponder upon the path I wanted to take. My passions were always on the sidelines as a hobby, an org, an after thought. I just wanted to survive and finish school so I can start earning my own keep. So whatever life handed me, I faced it, kept at it and made the most of it.
When I started working, I immediately set aside a portion of my salary for several life insurance policies and some savings which I later cashed in after ten to fifteen years. I wanted to retire early so I can figure out “what I really wanted to be when I grow up” coz at the age of 21, I still didn’t know what I wanted to be. Whenever I’d have extra cash back then, and just so I can say to myself that I at least tried things once, I’d spend it on things I felt I should do which was why I studied singing during weekends at Center for Pop Music, why I took up acting at ABS-CBN talent center, why I attended soap making seminars, experimented on making my own spa products, bought raw materials for crafting and drawing… stuff that I felt were my passions. But because there was always this voice in my head that kept telling me “you need to focus, you need to earn now, you need to keep your job, you need to be wise about it…”, I slowly learned to let go of those activities that didn’t bring me steady money.
I remember Cinderella, yes the shop, asking me to produce P50K worth of my own homemade spa products that they can resell. I didn’t have much money then. I also didn’t want to touch my savings. I was doing the spa products for fun during my extra time (before going to bed). And I didn’t have the time nor the energy to take care of all the legal requirements to set up a full-blown business because I had a full-time job. So I said no to the opportunity that could’ve made me successful and rich by now. If I wasn’t so worried about earning a steady income at that time, helping my family out, and making sure I had some savings instead of debt, I would have had the luxury to pursue that enterprise in my early twenties. And who knows where I’d be now? Yeah, coulda, woulda, shoulda… Anyway, there’s no point regretting it now. I still believe I did the best I could at every moment presented to me, given the circumstances I had.
Looking back, having had a handful of jobs I surprisingly excelled at even if I wasn’t passionate about them, and fulfilling my other dream of retiring early (having been a retired government employee for ten years now), I think I have more than exceeded my simple dreams and expectations then. I am about to become a homeowner now to my first dream home at the age of 39. The last amortization for my house was due last May 24. I already saved up the budget for it and as soon as my body clock goes back to Philippine time, I’d be able to go to the bank during proper waking hours and pay for that last mortgage installment plus a little bit of interest due to late payment, hopefully this week (I would love to go there now but I’m already zombified and will probably sleep after publishing this). Then the processing of getting my house title will start. All those years of hard work, sacrifices, diligence, sleepless nights, marital and money problems, anxiety attacks from fear of losing my townhouse, years of saving up, wise insurance investments, and availing of early retirement to get a huge retirement benefit are finally paying off. I will soon have my house title, probably a feat that not too many who have been in my shoes are able to do (unless they worked abroad). I have a car too under my name which I paid for out of the retirement pay I got from my previous work but it’s long been given to my ex since I don’t drive anyway and so I can keep the house in exchange for it. Good thing that my partner now has a car of his own so getting harassed in public transportations won’t be a problem anymore. And miracle of all miracles, I now have my own family too which I totally didn’t expect nor dream of! We’re always together which I’m happy about and we’re currently living the lifestyle that suits us — enjoying our time together at home and traveling all over the Philippines and perhaps soon, abroad too.
Looking back at my younger self, I feel blessed having achieved all these material blessings which are really a big deal for me considering that I came from nothing. But do I feel wiser? Maybe a little bit. I’ve learned to let go of people, things and thoughts that no longer contribute to my happiness and well-being. I’ve learned that it’s okay to say no. I’ve learned to manage my stress levels and negative thoughts and emotions. I’ve learned to be happy for others’ successes. I’ve come to know that at the end of the day, what matters the most is how much we’ve loved our family and how fully we’ve lived.
Next question… am I still excited to turn 40? To be honest, I feel anxious about it! The anxiety is mostly coming from the political situation here in my country. Mahal and I have been planning for so long to leave the city and live a simpler life in the mountains where our ancestors have huge parcels of land we can to use for a different kind of farming. I’ve always wanted to pursue an organic and DIY kind of lifestyle which was why I planted my own vegetables in 2010, why I lived in Boracay for a month, why I travelled to different provinces in the country, why we create our own soaps and spa products at home, why I make my own beaded accessories, why I sew stuff from time to time and make crafts for our home, why we travelled to our ancestral properties the whole month of April. I wanted to own a farm and now we want to go full blast with our mushroom growing and organic vegetable farming (hydroponics, anyone?). Then martial law was declared in the southern part of the Philippines and there’s a possibility that it can also happen for the whole country. While I do support our current President Rodrigo Duterte’s agenda to end terrorist attacks in our country, the whole thing did damp our plans of leaving the capital. It might be safer to stay at home for now and continue living our life here at the moment. We’re playing it by ear and see how it goes.
In the meantime, I am hoping and fervently praying that in two months, this whole thing with the ISIS/Maute group will come to an end and that there’ll be peace in our country. I am also praying for a suitable tenant for my lovely cozy townhouse to provide us with more than enough capital to get our farm going. We want to start with our new sets of dreams, possibly even have baby #2 and an intimate beach wedding.
So 9 more months to go before I turn 40. Do I now know what my purpose is? I honestly still don’t know what my sole purpose is, or “what I want to be when I grow up”. I am a mom now and a partner to Mahal. I am focusing on being the best mom for Tuz and the best partner for Mahal. I have a number of hobbies. I still have other things I would want to pursue (like take my masters and open my cafe boutique). Life trained me to just make the best decisions I could given the circumstances I have and so that’s what I’ll keep doing. So many things can still happen. But with God’s grace, I am praying and hoping that things will get better for us and our country. He has always provided us with what we need and I believe in His continuous blessings. In the meantime, our 18-month old toddler is here to keep us busy, exhausted and happy.
How about you? Any ponderings, musings and prayers you’d like to do too? Let me know in the comments below! 🙂