14 Advantages of Listening or Reasons why we should shut up more

 Huh, what did you say? is my answer when my son is telling me something. Mama always advises me to listen more to my boys because she knows I am a chatterbox. The temptation to talk more is great so I made a list of 14 advantages of listening to make you and me shut up more.

  1. You learn more. – This is an important skill as a student, as an adult and as a parent/carer. The advice from the elders is rich with wisdom.There is information overload on the internet and with the right choices of videos on YouTube, audio on Podcasts and even the songs you listen to – GREAT IDEAS can be learned that you can apply in your life.

 

  1. You can help someone in distress just by listening. It is a way of showing one’s love. You don’t have to provide a solution to their problems. Just being there and listen can improve their well-being. It is a bonus when after the conversation, a solution may come up.

Photo by Ben White

two women crying
This is too much for me to handle…
  1. You are being proactive in preventing someone getting angry.

One of the things that can stir your anger is the person not listening to you.

Parent to a child: You were not listening to me!!! ( blah blah)

Child to parent: You don’t care, you are not listening to me! ( blah blah)

Partner to partner: I TOLD you about it but you were not listening to me! ( blah blah)

Boss to subordinates: I instructed you to do this but you were not listening! ( blah blah)

Subordinates to Boss: (grumble, grumble..) If only our boss will just listen! ( blah blah)

If you just paid attention in the first place, these people will not be MAD.period.

  1. You understand more other people.

WHY DO THEY BEHAVE THAT WAY? is the common question one is asking when you encounter persons different from you. Listening opens your mind to the reason why they speak, act, think and decide like that.  You can adapt well when you run into them.

  1. There are fewer chances of saying something foolish.

In my lifetime, I said things better left unsaid. It was TACTLESS. Looking back, I cringe every time it crosses my mind. I couldn’t take it back.

When you listen more, it creates an opportunity to stop yourself from saying things you will regret. Your future self will thank you for that.

 Photo by Abigail Keenan

woman covering her face
What was I thinking? I shouldn’t have said THAT!
  1. It is for your own safety.

Worst case scenario… There is a fire in the building. The staff said to go to the left side of the building.. you turned right. Holy moly.

Another worst-case scenario: The instruction was to cut the blue wire, you chose red. BOOM. The end.

  1. Improving your listening skills is necessary to pass an English test.

Do you need a visa or prefer to pursue higher education overseas? One of the requirements is to pass the IELTS  or the International English Language Testing System. Part of the exam is the listening test. No matter how good you are in reading, writing and speaking, if you fail the listening test, you need to repeat the assessment.

Photo by Tim Gouw

I need to get a grip on myself. What did he say: flashlight or torch?
  1. You can be efficiently assertive to get what you want.

Listening to the sales persons about the advantages and amazing deals they have to offer, you are in a position to negotiate better and grab a great bargain.

  1. As a leader, you can offer better service because you know what the community wants.

Listening to the needs of the community is one of the effective ways of giving the service that they will appreciate and enjoy. The provision matches the necessities of the people.

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo

happy audience
Happy constituents are the people whose voices were heard.
  1. It promotes creativity.

Brainstorming in a group can trigger ideas that will create a masterpiece. As long as there are open-mindedness and respect in the group, the possibilities are endless.

 Photo by Climate KIC

group of people in a meeting
Based on our references, your idea is the best one!
  1. It inspires you to be the BEST YOU.

Listening to inspirational or motivational audio or videos can spark something inside you to GET BETTER. Maybe, you reached the point you got tired of being in the dump both literally and metaphorically. Listening to something uplifting can change your attitude towards life in general.

Photo by Ross Findon

 

  1. It gives you the chance to THINK MORE or REFLECT.

It is quite hard to think effectively when you are blabbering at the same time. Thinking out loud can lead you into deep waters. Listening to the opinions especially during meetings can make you compare the best suggestion that makes sense. Your own beliefs may be challenged and your mind may reconsider.

  1. You need to listen so that others will LISTEN TO YOU TOO.

Have you wondered why the people around you are not LISTENING to what you say? Maybe you are chatting, nagging, harassing or gossiping so much that you are no longer listening to them.

They got tired of your criticisms and became numb. Their reason is WHY BOTHER? Mum never listened anyway. She is always RIGHT.

Photo by Paul

cat on the table
My human doesn’t know how to stop talking. She even forgot my FOOD.
  1. Making a habit to listen cultivates your skill in picking up the ideas NOT BEING SAID.

You know you could hear alarm bells when the person says “ I’M FINE.”

You can distinguish the feelings of the person who says “GREAT!”  with a cheerful countenance compared to someone who mentions “GREAT!” but continuously mumbling and rolling their eyes.

Body language and the tone of voice are just added hints to the person’s sentiments at the moment. A know-how in listening can equip you with the right questions to ask and advice to say if they want it.

Photo by Stefan Steinbauer

hippopotamus
How many times do I have to tell you I’m FIIIIINE!!

To sum it up, I believe that listening is an important skill that should be taught at home and school. To impress someone in a gathering, the focus is too much on speaking… how do you come across? In fact,  a listener can leave a huge impact because he/she was patient enough to make time to pay attention.

I am a work in progress in refining my talent in listening.(Note: I talk a lot.)  I could already see the difference in my life when my option was to listen. There is JOY in it. I should have shut up more when I was younger.

 

I remind myself every morning: Nothing I say this day will teach me anything. So if I’m going to learn, I must do it by listening. -Larry King

 

 

 

13 Reasons Why the Person didn’t Answer your Greeting (Awkward)

Why do some people don’t acknowledge your existence when you greet them? Here are my 13 reasons why your greeting was unanswered.

  1. The person has a lot in his or her mind that day.

Do not be disheartened. Maybe the individual was just worried and already got lost in his or her own thoughts to be bothered with.

Possible issues they are considering:

sick family member

financial difficulties

stressful relationships

  1. The person saw you but it didn’t register in his/her mind.

The individual might be daydreaming at that time. You might see their eyes looking or even staring at you but their minds are in a faraway place like:

  • Last movie they saw and how cute the character was
  • Dreaming of eating something delicious
  • Winning the lottery and what to do with it

Photo by Alexander Solodukhin

woman thinking with a book
Yes, I guess it was the BUTLER who did it!
  1. The person has limited vision or hearing.

They may not see you from afar or even heard your greeting. Greet them at arms-length just to be sure.

I will not see you from a distance so forgive me in advance if I don’t greet back. My friend once told me I have a serious face. Please bear with me. I am a work in progress in having a cheerful face. *giggling*

  1. They are snobbish.

Some believe that they are better than the rest of humanity. They do not want to mingle with human beings they consider inferior.

Photo by Saúl Venegas

eyeglasses on the sand
I can’t find my eyeglasses!Someone said hi and I don’t know who it was!
  1. The person forgot who you are.

Ouch. Sometimes, you meet interesting people at parties and other social events. When you try to greet them at a random place, they might be deliberating in their minds where they met you. If they see you as a stranger, it might be a wake-up call to improve your social skills.

  1. The person just doesn’t like you.

You may encounter people who totally hate your guts. You are not doing anything wrong to them and yet every cell of their being is disgusted by your mere presence. Strolling in their space makes them cringe.

Photo by Bill Jones, Jr.

WHO ARE YOU?(brain working overtime)
  1. The person is shy.

Some individuals are anxious when meeting new people. What others take for granted like greeting someone, can be a huge deal for them. The chance to interact was lost because he/she was reluctant to respond.

  1. The individual was in a really awful mood.

Others may have a terrific poker face when angry. Some do not want people near them when they are furious because the closest person may become the poor victim of their wrath. They decided not to greet you.

Photo by Luke Braswell

woman in black
I am going to explode in 5…4…3…2… (seething inside)

 

  1. The person can’t think straight because of medication.

You are not in the mood to greet somebody when you feel numb, nauseous or dizzy. It is the last thing on your mind.

  1. Someone does not want to make a mistake.

Awkward moment: You said hello but realized the person was greeting somebody behind you.

Other people want to make sure they are the ones receiving the greeting not the ones near them. However, the opportunity was lost in a blink of an eye.

Photo by Eric Didier

woman looking
Did that man say hi to me or what?!Weird.

 

  1. The person just looks straight ahead.

They are not snooty. Some walk so fast, they don’t even have time to look left or right. The person was on a mission. You cannot bother him/her no matter what.

  1. The person’s height can affect their view.

I know someone who is 6’4 feet (193.04cm) in height and is a friendly guy. Sometimes he sees me and smiles, sometimes he doesn’t. My height is  5 feet (152.4cm)  so I usually get lost in a crowd of tall people.

One time I was in the shop and had to turn right in the corner but almost got my face flat on a guy’s broad chest. It was embarrassing for both of us because he had to dodge me. I could have bumped on him and landed on my bottom. *giggling again*

Photo by mauro mora

fast-paced crowd
I didn’t see you coming.

13.     Sad to say, maybe the reason is YOU.

Was your voice loud enough to be heard?

Where you too far to be recognized?

Do you tell every time each person your dramas in life?

Could the reason be your social skills? Do you stay near the walls every social event or continuously tap on your phone during parties? Your face can be forgotten in a gathering.

Does your body language show sadness, aloofness or even an arrogant aura?

Do you talk a lot to the point the listener is bored to death?

Sometimes, we need to focus on ourselves so we can have personal growth.

Photo by Andre Hunter

angry face
Ha! I bet my problem is worse than yours!

 

Give the man/woman the benefit of the doubt if they didn’t answer your gesture. Do not take it seriously. If they didn’t return your greeting and lovely smile, it’s okay. Yes, it might be awkward on your part but just keep smiling and saying hello to others. Friendships start that way.

I think that anybody that smiles automatically looks better. – Diane Lane

 

Photo by Vladislav Klapin

hello sign

 

 

 

 

Songs that will make you feel good, guaranteed!

One of these songs is bound to perk you up, make you feel alive, have FAITH and believe in yourself.  I play these songs especially when I want to feel good.

I included the songs I grew up with listening on the radio, cassette tapes and CDs. Presently, I appreciate some of the songs at Spotify app, Freegal music app, and YouTube. My apologies if the songs are not the latest ones. Enjoy the VIDEOS!

WOMEN RULE songs

When you hear these songs, it creates a feeling that YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH.

This list boosts your confidence. The main idea of most of the songs is even if the person committed a mistake, there is an option to move on, learn from the experience and come out a better version of oneself.

Due to possible copyright issues, I cannot write the lyrics of the songs that convey the main message. I could write the title of the song and the singer though.

  1. Fighter – Christina Aguilera
  2. Beautiful – Christina Aguilera
  3. Fight Song – Rachel Platten
  4. Brave – Sara Bareilles
  5. Roar -Katy Perry
  6. Firework – Katy Perry
  7. Part of me -Katy Perry
  8. Let it Go – Idina Menzel
  9. Stronger( What Doesn’t Kill You) – Kelly Clarkson
  10. Strong Enough – Cher
  11. R-E-S-P-E-C-T – Aretha Franklin
  12. Stronger – Britney Spears
  13. I Will Survive – Gloria Gaynor
  14. Titanium – David Guetta ft. Sia
  15. Girl on Fire – Alicia Keys

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CevxZvSJLk8

Official music video for Katy Perry’s “Roar” brought to you in Junglescope directed by Grady Hall & Mark Kudsi

Music video by Cher performing “Strong Enough”. ©1999 Warner Bros. Records.

Alicia Keys’ official music video for Girl On Fire

POSITIVE VIBES songs

Start the day right by listening to songs that brainwash you with positivity.

As a mum, there are times there are so many things inside your head that you have to PLAN, DECIDE AND OVERCOME.  The list will help you relax.

  1. Happy -Pharell Williams
  2. With a Smile – Eraserheads
  3. Undefeated – Daughtry
  4. Drag me Down – One Direction
  5. Walking on Sunshine – Katrina and the Waves
  6. Can’t Stop the Feeling – Justin Timberlake
  7. Tonight Again -Guy Sebastian
  8. Don’t Worry be Happy – Guy Sebastian
  9. Count on Me – Bruno Mars
  10. Shake it Off – Taylor Swift
  11. Beautiful Day – U2
  12. Ain’t No Mountain High Enough – Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell
  13. Don’t You Worry Bout a Thing – Tori Kelly
  14. I Gotta Feeling – Black Eyed Peas
  15. Feel this Moment – PitBull ft. Christina Aguilera
  16. Don’t Worry Be Happy – Bobby McFerrin
  17. Everything’s Gonna Be Alright – Bob Marley

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iPUmE-tne5U

Official video of Katrina & The Waves performing Walking On Sunshine from the album Walking On Sunshine.

YouTube video by blaxter47 published on  June 16, 2006

PharellWilliamsVevo Published on January 8, 2014

If you want to FEEL COOL WHILE CLEANING THE HOUSE songs 

  1. Gonna Fly Now ( Rocky Theme Song)

Cleaning the house becomes awesome because the song takes you to the feeling of Rocky punching the air and jumping joyfully after conquering his doubts and fears.

  1. I Get Around  or Surfin  USA– The Beach Boys

Listening gives you the sensation of surfing at the beach while vacuuming.

  1. Staying Alive – The Bee Gees

As if you are wearing the coolest sunglasses while showing off your 70s wardrobe when this song is your background music.

  1. Uptown Funk – Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars

I like Bruno Mars. period.

  1. Man, I Feel Like a Woman – Shania Twain

It is a country song that celebrates You.

YouTube Video by RHINO Published on August 3, 2010

Stayin’ Alive” is a disco song by the group Bee Gees from the Saturday Night Fever motion picture soundtrack.

ShaniaTwainVevo Published on October 8, 2009

If you want to FEEL GOOD WHILE TRYING TO FINISH A TASK PLAYLIST

When it is that time when you feel sad for no reason or when the chores are overwhelming but you have to finish it and when your mind has to be awake, choose a song from the list.

  1. Shut Up and Dance – Walk the Moon
  2. I’m So Excited – The Pointer Sisters
  3. Let’s Get Ridiculous – Red Foo
  4. Born This Way – Lady Gaga
  5. What Makes You Beautiful – One Direction
  6. The Twist – Chubby Checker
  7. Eye of the Tiger – Survivor
  8. Dancing Queen – Abba
  9. Express Yourself – Madonna
  10. Girls Just Want to Have Fun – Cyndi Lauper
  11. Wake Me Up Before You Go – George Michael
  12. Foot Loose – Kenny Loggins
  13. Livin La Vida Loca – Ricky Martin
  14. On the Floor – Jennifer Lopez ft. Pitbull
  15. Geronimo – Sheppard
  16. Party Rock Anthem – LMFAO
  17. Gangnam Style – Psy
  18. Take on Me – a-Ha
  19. It’s Raining Men – Geri Halliwell
  20. Dancing in the Street – David Bowie and Mick Jagger

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eh8eb_ACLl8

YouTube video by easylyricsorg3609 Published on December 30, 2010

© 1974 Polar Music International AB Published by Universal/Union Songs AB

Music video by WALK THE MOON performing Shut Up and Dance. (C) 2014 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

If you are in the MOOD FOR LOUD MUSIC AND ROCKSTAR MODE while doing the Headbanging dance move (and vacuuming, dusting, washing…)

I didn’t focus on the lyrics of the songs in this playlist. Some of the lyrics don’t make sense at all. In spite of that, the songs will make you feel good if you want to hear electric guitars, loud drums, and powerful vocals. I don’t even agree with some of the lines of the songs but when I hear the music, it takes me back to my youth when I don’t care. *giggling*

  1. Feels Like Teen Spirit – Nirvana
  2. Grace Kelly – Mika
  3. Raise Your Glass – Pink
  4. Livin on a Prayer – Jon Bon Jovi
  5. It’s My Life – Jon Bon Jovi
  6. Don’t Stop Believin – Journey
  7. Under Pressure – Queen or Under Pressure – David Bowie or both
  8. Sweet Child of Mine – Guns and Roses
  9. Zombie – The Cranberries
  10. Bring Me to Life – Evanescence
  11. All the Small Things – Blink 182

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YoDh_gHDvkk

YouTube video by QueenHouse85 Published on Mar 19, 2013

Music video by Bon Jovi performing Livin’ On A Prayer. (C) 1986 The Island Def Jam Music Group

journeyVEVO Published on Oct 19, 2010 
Journey’s official live video for ‘Don’t Stop Believin” performed in Houston

If you want to AWAKEN the Sexy Diva in YOU ( Yes, you are sexy. You just need to be reminded.)

  1. She’s so high –Tal Bachman
  2. Venus – Shocking Blue
  3. Crazy in Love – Beyonce
  4. I Never Loved You Anyway – The Corrs
  5. Vogue – Madonna
  6. Can’t Get You Out of My Head – Kylie Minogue
  7. Don’t Cha – The Pussycat Dolls
  8. Just the Way You Are – Bruno Mars
  9. Only Girl (In the World) – Rihanna
  10. Oh, Pretty Woman – Roy Orbison
  11. She’s A Lady – Tom Jones
  12. (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life– Jennifer Warnes, Bill Medley
  13. I’m Every Woman – Whitney Houston

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YPwtJ89jes4&list=RDYPwtJ89jes4

Official HD Promo Video for Kylie Minogue’s fantastic single ‘Can’t Get You Out Of My Head’. Published on Jan 23, 2015

© 2011 WMG. The official music video for ‘Just The Way You Are’ by Bruno Mars from doo-wops and hooligans -Directed by Ethan Lader Inspired by the artwork of Erika Iris Simmons

whitneyhoustonVEVO Published on Nov 14, 2009

 If you want to take it Slow but still uplifting SONGS

  1. Lazy Song by Bruno Mars
  2. Amazed by Lone Star
  3. Climb Every Mountain ( Sound of Music soundtrack)
  4. Hero by Mariah Carey
  5. Somewhere over the Rainbow – by Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwoʻole

 

If you prefer songs that inspire FAITH IN GOD when everything doesn’t make sense

  1. The Lord’s Prayer (Our Father) – by Johnny Mathis
  2. God Will Make a Way – Don Moen
  3. Shine Jesus Shine – Graham Kendrick
  4. Lead Me Lord – Gary Valenciano
  5. You Raise Me Up – Josh Groban
  6. Amazing Grace – Susan Doyle
  7. Lift Up Your Hands – Basil Valdez
  8. Give Thanks ( With A Grateful Heart) – Don Moen
  9. Take Me Out of the Dark -Gary Valenciano
  10. When You Believe – Whitney Houston ft. Mariah Carey
  11. I Will Follow Him – Sister Act 1 Movie Finale or I Will Follow Him – Peggy March

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_rSWXf2Y4z0

DonMoenTV Published on Feb 14, 2016 

YouTube Video by TheGoddess461 Published on Apr 4, 2011

 YouTube video by vinzpaul747   Published on Jul 13, 2009

I hope that scanning through the lists, you may discover a song that will truly make you FEEL GOOD about yourself, the day you will face and about LIFE.  Have faith.

What are you waiting for? Search up the songs on YouTube, Google or even Spotify. Take care.

Share this post with someone who copes with stress through music.

How to Cope when you miss someone

There are instances when you see an object like a picture,

smell a familiar aroma,

hear a song,

taste a particular food or

touch an item like a soft blanket made you MISS SOMEONE SO MUCH.  Time stood still and tears rolled down your cheeks.

It was just an ordinary day doing your normal routine at home then it HIT YOU- BAM, right on your chest. You thought you were already capable of managing your emotions. Oh no. You realized you were wrong.

Years have passed. Then an item suddenly TRIGGERED something inside you. You burst into tears.

It is quite depressing when the person you suddenly remembered had already passed away. It is impossible to see him/her in person. There is nothing you can do but reminisce the memories you had together. You may

smile

cry

laugh

be annoyed with yourself especially if there were words left unsaid.

Each person copes differently when they miss someone they love.

  1. Cry and Grieve.

Some people take time to recover from a loss of a loved one. When they are caught in the moment of heartache, they give in.  Crying may not change what already has taken place but it is a good release of painful thoughts. Crying is one way of healing.

  1. Visit the cemetery with a loved one.

One approach of letting go and accepting the fact is a visit to the cemetery.  Looking at the tombstone is a reminder that the loved one is already gone and is in a better place. Lighting a candle, giving flowers and saying a prayer with family/friends are ways of showing we remember and we love them.

Photo by David Monje

one lighted candle in the dark
May you rest in peace.
  1. Do an activity which they did together when the person was still alive.

This is a make or break option. Let us say what they did together was go for a walk at the beach. The person may feel good (memories shared) or unhappy about it (can’t do it again with him/her). 

  1. Go out with family or friends.

When you feel that sadness is creeping in on you, then one choice is to go out with family or friends. Talking with a trustworthy person and having a drink at the same time release your inhibitions. The atmosphere is conducive to an honest and open communication. Whatever is bothering you at the moment is heard and another person’s point of view may change your day for the better.

Photo by Greg Raines

Two women on top of a car
Thank you for being here. I feel so much better.
  1. Pray in the church.

November 1 is All Saints Day which is a special day for Catholics. Most Catholics go to church to pray for the souls of the departed. Sometimes, missing someone takes away the belief that everything will be okay. Praying strengthens our faith that everything will be alright.  The song of Don Moen sums it up – God will make a way.

  1. Be busy with an activity that makes you happy. Divert your thinking.

Other people are good at diverting their thinking when they miss someone they love. Instead  of moping around, they will rather:

  1. Watch a show that entertains them.
  2. Improve their garden.
  3. Shop until they drop
  4. Eat out.
  5. Enjoy nature.
  6. Walk with a pet.
  7. Sing until their voice becomes hoarse.
  8. Dance like mad.
  9. Cook as if they are feeding a hundred guests.
  10. Write their thoughts.
  11. Renovate the house.
  12. Travel to a place they have never been.
  13. Read an inspirational book.
  14. Listen to a motivational speaker.
  15. Create something like art.

Photo by Vincent van Zalinge

lady bug
Appreciating the beauty of nature
  1. Enjoy the company of loved ones who are still alive.

Other folks redirect their emotions to the people surrounding them. They will make time, especially with the older family members. They will try to catch up for the lost time. It is a wake-up call for them to say their I LOVE YOUs.

Photo by Nathália Bariani

two elderly persons sitting on a bench
Do you still remember the good old days when we…?
  1. Time to reinvent oneself for the better.

Missing someone you love stirs in you the will to improve yourself.  One thing that you CAN DO is create a NEW YOU. New look ranges from losing weight, new hair color or hairstyle or change of attire. It could also be personal development like studying a new course or changing your attitude.

Photo by Miriam Miles

tortoise
No matter how slow, keep moving forward.
  1. Help someone.

Rather than focus on their own melancholy, some individuals go out and help other people who are experiencing worse. It gives them satisfaction to be of service. At the end of the day, when they suddenly feel again a pang of emptiness due to someone’s absence, there is instant joy filling their hearts because they were able to make a difference in someone’s life.

Photo by Larm Rmah 

happy children
Happy even if they do not have enough
  1. Opening oneself to opportunities to love again

It is devastating to miss the presence of the love of your life. Some were able to cope alone while others found love again. Their hearts are overflowing with love so you see them happy with someone new.

It is normal to be sad when we miss someone. For me, the feeling of unhappiness should be acknowledged. Sadness runs deep, especially if there were issues left unsettled with the person who passed away. Being consumed with regrets will do you no good.

Make time for grieving and weeping if you have to. Then, move on. Move on until you can laugh again.

It must not be a reason to be miserable all the time. There are still people around you who need your love. That is the good news.

Give more hugs and kisses to the people who matter to you. Express more love and appreciation to family and friends. All of us do not know when our time is up.

Focus on the present. You are alive  which means you have TIME to

Love

Celebrate

Sparkle

NOW.

So when Death comes knocking at your door,  your ABSENCE will be truly felt by family, friends, co-workers and even acquaintances. You are a person worth MISSING SO MUCH.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

15 Lessons I learned so far in Raising Boys

This article lists 15 Lessons I learned so far in raising three primary school-age boys. Each grey hair on my head is a remembrance for the lessons I gathered.

  1. Do not promise anything that you cannot do.

I remembered I promised my son that we will go bowling when winter comes. The winter here in Australia is June to August.  It was too cold to go to the beach or the parks so my son kept asking me WHEN ARE WE GOING?

It was a promise I kept postponing because we had school activities, sports events, a family member got sick, just plain tired and wanted to stay home. The last straw was when my son said: ” Mum, YOU PROMISED.”

My integrity was at stake. If I wouldn’t do this, my son will have TRUST ISSUES with me. It was the last day of winter 31st of August and we finally went and had a wonderful time bowling.

From then on, I seldom make promises. I realized boys have a strong memory when you give your word you will do it. They will GRILL you if you don’t deliver.

Photo by Chaiyaporn Atakampeewong

cat staring at you
Human, you made a promise to a little boy.
  1. Whatever you do to the eldest, do it as well with the other sons.

No matter what you say, it is what you do that they focus on. Example, I bought candies for my three sons. It should always be DIVIDED BY THREE. All of them looked at me opening the packet and I distributed the candies equally. The package has 12 candy packs so there was no issue. There was one that had 10. Each had 3 so who gets the last one? They were waiting who will I give it to. I told them no one. That packet is for dad and mum.

Hugs and kisses should also be given similarly. I thought that the two elder boys were not already into the hug and kiss mum thing.  However, my assumption changed when my middle son told me, “You always hug and kiss our youngest brother.”  I learned that when I give a hug or kiss to one of them, I should also do it to the other brothers too. No more complaints after that.

If you give them a chore to do, it should always be at the same time. If they play with their gadgets Saturday morning then by the afternoon all of them should be doing their chores like vacuuming the house or folding the clothes. No one should be having a free time while the other one is doing a chore. You don’t want to hear the complaint ” Why is my brother watching TV while I am folding clothes?”

Photo by Tim Gouw

candies
Okay, let’s divide these equally among you.
  1. When you say NO, mean it.

When the decision is a NO, strong resistance will come up. Asserting your parental authority is vital to show to your sons that no matter how many complaints they come up with, your decision will not change.

Saying NO was put to the test when my youngest son had a temper tantrum at the mall. We watched the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles perform on stage. He saw a child in the audience wearing a TMNT costume and I know the price of that was $25. He wanted to have that costume too and I said NO. People around us had curious stares or even judgmental looks why my child was crying so loud. I reasoned out to him we do not need it. It was a luxury for us during that time to buy that costume. No matter what I said, he kept crying. It was one of those days.

We walked all the way to the car park and his cry filled the entire shopping center. When I put his seat belt on, there was still a few tears then came silence. I looked at him and he was fast asleep. When he woke up at home, he already forgot about the costume and hugged me like nothing happened.

Photo by Liam Welch

eye of a boy
Watch out! Tears falling soon.
  1. Be careful what you say in front of them.

Curse words. Driving can make you say swear words especially when the other driver on the road feels he/she owns the entire highway.  There was one driver that cut me  off on the road and I said ” Oh sh*t!”  My son said ” Oh sh*t!” too when he was playing with me.

I didn’t like what I heard. From then one, I tried to control my words even when I was annoyed with other drivers who were tailgating or cutting me off the road.

Words said out of anger. My sons have a nickname for me when I am furious – HULK MUM. I told them, don’t create an opportunity for me to scream at you.  They did. After I calmed down, I felt guilty because they don’t deserve that word ever. I couldn’t take it back. I said sorry after that and I explained to them why I was upset.  Even at the height of my annoyance, it is not an excuse to say offensive words.

Self-confidence. Primary school children are in the process of developing their self-esteem. They will ask questions if they can do this or they can do that.  It is a big deal for my sons when they made a mistake. They take it personally. With the help of their school teacher, my husband and I advise them that we make mistakes too but we learn from them and move on. Love and support the boys.The best gift is you sign on a wall

Photo by Dakota Corbin

  1. The presence of the father or father-figure is important.

The presence of the father in their life is necessary because they are learning to become a man. There is something about the company of dads that is so COOL.

Outdoor activities.         ” Son, this is how you kick the ball.”

”  This is how you hold the basketball.”

” Hold the bat this way.”

” Son, let’s go fishing.”

”  Let’s enjoy the outdoors and go hiking and camping!”

  Indoor activities.

” Son, this is the anime we watched when we were young, DRAGON BALL Z.”    ( They discussed  the characters on and on.)

Son: ” Dad, I can beat you in this video game!”

Dad: ” No, you won’t.”

As mums, we try to be the best that we can be. Still, we cannot teach what we don’t know. We cannot give what we don’t have.  Sometimes, conversations are better handled by dads especially when it comes to personal development: physical changes and attraction towards the opposite sex.

Photo by Filios Sazeides

father and son on a surfboard
This is how you do it, son.
  1. Spend time with them. Your presence is more important than the toy.

Even if you bought them a toy, they still want your presence. One time, I was exhausted with all the household chores. My son kept telling me to come and sit with him and play with the train set. I told him I need to lie down for 10 minutes then I can play with him.

He took the kitchen timer and timed me for 10 minutes! While I was lying down in bed, he kept reminding me at the door that I still have 8 minutes to rest. Then, he came again and told me I had still 5 minutes. I wasn’t able to rest because I had reminders by the minute!!!

My boys may not have the most expensive toy but we played board games and ball games that we laughed together, got annoyed with each other (especially Monopoly)  but still part of treasured memories looking back.

Photo by Michael Bergmann

train set
PLAY
  1. There is no one perfect strategy for raising boys.

One strategy for disciplining a child may be effective with the eldest son but may not be suitable for the middle child or the youngest one. It is up to the mum to CUSTOMIZE.

Strategy 1: Be brutally frank about it. No holds barred. The truth will wake him up.

Strategy 2: Explain it to the tiniest detail with as much time as possible. Use normal voice. Be patient when answering queries.

Strategy 3:  Compromise. If you do this, then you will get that.

  1. Listen to the boys and to older mums because it is a part of learning.

 

  1. Quotes from the boys

The boys come home from school telling me stories of what happened that day. My eldest told me, ” Mum, I heard someone said, Do not ASSUME because you are making an ASS of U and ME.”

(Second son  ) Mum, you are stress-eating again. Why are you eating ice cream again?!

(Youngest son) Mum, I have a joke. ” How did the egg cross the road?”

Answer: Splat!”

  1. Older mums than you

Older mums inform me that I have to enjoy my boys while they are still young and while they still prefer my company. There will come a time when they will have their own set of schedules, prefer the company of friends and outdoors than stay home with mum and dad.

  1. They are smarter than you think and can immediately feel that something is not right.

It is better to tell the truth. Explain it to them using age-appropriate words. When they saw me crying, I told them that mum just feels homesick. At least, they wouldn’t think of other out of this world reasons why mum is weeping.

  1. Do not be too hard on yourself.

There will be regrets along the way stabbing yourself with the question “WHY DID I DO THAT?” Sometimes, I have sleepless nights thinking, am I doing the right thing? I have a big responsibility raising young men.

My mother advised me to pray for it. “Yes Shirin, it is challenging raising children. You know now what I felt when I was raising you.  Pray for wisdom and strength.”

Photo by Olivia Snow

praying hands
PRAY
  1. READ more to learn more.

I recommend the book RAISING BOYS by Steve Biddulph. The part of the book that got stuck in my head is the topic:  words we say to our children. If the mum keep saying to her child ” YOU NAUGHTY BOY!”,  the child might think ” Yeah, my mum is right.  I am a naughty boy.” It is a self-fulfilling prophecy that he is a naughty boy and therefore create more circumstances of proving he is definitely a BAD BOY.

  1. Ask for advice.

As a mum, it is impossible to have the answers all the time. It is better to seek help from a trustworthy family, friend or even a psychologist when the issue is too personal.

  1. Teamwork is necessary between mum and dad.

If you said NO to your sons but their dad answered YES, it creates confusion with whom to follow and believe. PARENTAL AUTHORITY IS CHALLENGED.  When the question of the child is a major decision like starting a sports activity or joining a club, dad and mum should have the same answer.

Once, I heard my husband tell the boys, “Your mum will get angry at you.” I didn’t like it because I felt that I was the VILLAIN of the house and he is their best friend forever. Therefore, I told my husband about it. From then on, whenever we discipline the boys, he now says, ” Your mother and I are upset with… ” or ” We didn’t like what you did because…”

Moreover, there are times when one parent should stay cool when the other parent is becoming too emotional: mad, worried, stressed out. The cool parent should be the one talking or listening to the child when the other parent tries to calm down.

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo

couple wallking
Dad: So what do we say to the kids?
Mum: Can’t think straight. Let’s have some ice cream.
  1. No favoritism.

Encountering the questions: ” Mum, who is the most handsome?

Am I the coolest?

Isn’t it I am the BEST in playing ________ (fill in the blank)

Questions like these made me feel I was answering a MISS UNIVERSE FINAL QUESTION.

I always tell them ” I do not want to compare. All of you have your own strengths and weaknesses. Remember, Dad and I love all of you.”

Sibling rivalry is real. Having a favorite makes it even worse.

  1. Be specific with your instructions.

If you say ” CLEAN YOUR ROOM.” you will just be disappointed. Give the boys specific instructions because based on my experience, it is more effective. Consulting them and meeting halfway works. The tasks should be:

SMART : Specific Measurable Attainable Realistic Time-bound

  1. Fix your bed.
  2. Arrange the books on the bedside table.
  3. Hang your clothes.
  4. Fold the clothes and put them in the drawers.
  5. Put the dirty clothes in the hamper.
  6. Vacuum.

The tasks can be done for one hour either  Saturday or Sunday depending upon the final negotiations between parent and child.

The reason why I was able to make them help me with the chores is that I told them the TRUTH.

” Boys, I am not getting any younger. I need help with the chores.”

“If you do the chores then you can  ( REWARD) ____________ fill in the blank.

Give them options with the rewards so they will do the chore.

I am learning life’s lessons one day at a time as a parent. It will be a new ball game for me when my sons will all be teenagers or young adults. As of this moment, I am sharing with you what I found effective with raising primary school-age boys. My three sons make my life interesting and meaningful. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Photo by Matthew Sleeper

 

 

Do Try and See What Happens

person on a lonely road

Did you try something because it is your choice or you have to? The consequences might be good or bad. The effects may be short-term or even a lifetime. Here are the 10 things I tried.

  1. I tried to say what was on my mind.

To say or not to say, that is the question. When you decide to express it, how you say it becomes important. I learned this the hard way.

  1. It feels so good to release what really is bothering you.
  2. You hurt someone close to you.
  3. You were able to correct someone’s assumption of you.
  4. Relationships become better or worse.
  5. You were able to say something that changed the way people think and behave.

No matter how good your intention is in stating it, if the delivery is too emotional, the communication is totally lost.  Both of you become defensive and listening with an open mind is impossible.

Photo by Michelle Phillips

Seriously… you said WHAT?!
  1. I tried to DIET and Exercise.

These are the two words every middle-aged mum will have to DO AND CONQUER.  Being a middle-aged mum, I know I am not getting any younger anymore and lifestyle changes are necessary.

Let us start with DIET. Articles I read stated that healthy eating means everything in moderation. You don’t have to starve or deprive yourself of food you really love. It is a healthy lifestyle that you can keep up without screaming at yourself that you had ENOUGH!

Photo by Markus Spiske

strawberry,raspberry and blueberry on a plate
Are you kidding me? Is this it?!

I posted on my blog an article about cravings. Craving for a comfort food during an emotional turmoil is a  weakness of many (including me). It really takes discipline to stop stress-eating.  I believe there is always a way. I am still in the process of finding the way.

There is a long list of benefits of exercise but remaining CONSISTENT in doing it is a struggle. I was able to do it and lost weight before my wedding. I gained it back after giving birth to three boys. Experts say do what you love and for me, dancing is one of them. Let’s see what happens in the future with this type of exercise. I SALUTE you if you can shed off the kilos permanently!

Photo by Chris Arock

woman touching her head
Mantra:  I can do this. No orders of cappuccino and a slice of cake.
  1. I tried to write a blog.

I have never taken a writing course or journalism but decided to try and start a blog.

The question WHAT IF is no longer in my head. This website is good for one year. I am writing to express my thoughts and feelings. Through this, I can

make someone happy,

let a reader ponder an idea,

share a concept or two and

even change me for the better.

I may not be the best writer but if I was able to touch someone’s life with the words I wrote, then I can say, I am glad I TRIED TO WRITE A BLOG. If I couldn’t maintain this website in the future, I can still say to myself, at least I became a mum blogger once in my lifetime! Thank you for reading.

Photo by Parker Byrd

typing on a laptop
Learning blogging as I go along.

 

  1. I tried to be a POSITIVE THINKER.

My line of thought was something might go wrong. I am Mrs. Worrier.

However, my thinking changed when I read the book The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. It never occurred to me that one day the person who would improve my way of thinking is an Australian. Never in my wildest imagination that one day, my family and I will migrate to Australia.

Worrying is a part of a mum’s life but gradually having a positive mindset improves your coping skills. Pessimism will creep in when you are at your lowest point. It is crucial to be surrounded with people who remind you to stay positive. A person cheering that you will overcome the issue can boost your morale.

Photo by Jessica Bristow

thankful sign

  1. I tried to talk to a STRANGER while waiting.

There was a time when there was no wi-fi or smartphones and all you have to do is wait with other human beings. I tried to strike a conversation while waiting in line at the bus stop, in the hospital, in the restaurant and at school.

I tried to say:

“ What’s the time?”

“ It is so warm today, isn’t it?”

“ Hello, your face looks familiar. Do you live..”

“ Are you a Filipino?” and other conversation starters.  If the person has a short answer then the person is not in the mood to talk. If the person looks you in the eye and says more than you ask for then it’s a good start.

I had different experiences chatting with strangers.

Stranger 1:  The person wanted someone to talk to and was glad to have a company. I had a chat with an old woman on the bus and we were both going to the same hospital.She was battling cancer and she doesn’t know if she will still live the following year. We ended up hugging each other. It was my purpose to be her listening seatmate that day. I wished her well.

Stranger 2: The elderly mum gave advice on how to raise sons. I was waiting for my order and she sat in front of me. She told me it’s her 75th birthday and her son’s 50th birthday on that day and waiting for her salon appointment. She commented, “ Have TIME for your sons. Let them be active in sports so that their minds will not think of silly things.”

Stranger 3: The man told me about buying a house. We were renting that time. I didn’t see that guy anymore but while conversing with him, he made me realize that we had to save money if we decide to give a down payment when purchasing our first home.

Stranger 4: We talked to a stranger in the shops. He and his family became our friends since 2010.

For me, it is not a coincidence meeting random individuals. There is a reason.

Photo by Tobias Zils

people on the street
You’ll never know whom you’re going to meet that will change you.
  1. I tried to LISTEN.

An acquaintance once suggested to me to try to listen to my husband for 10 minutes without interrupting him and see what happens. I am a chatter-box and my husband is a listener. Even when we were dating, he was a man-of-few-words type of guy (or maybe he was just shy to interrupt haha).

After having two sons, I DID. (What?! You might say.)

I set the timer for 10 minutes and I gave my best not to interrupt him. At first, he didn’t know what to say because from the beginning he was the listener. He started telling me things that happened way back in his childhood. I tried to keep my mouth shut. It was hard because I am the type of person reacting within a few minutes in the discussion. After 10 minutes or more, his voice became hoarse due to non-stop talking.

Wow, what a revelation. I learned things about him he didn’t even mention in our first years of being married. Give guys the chance to talk and stop interrupting.Be patient.

Photo by rawpixel.com

woman listening to a man
Note to self: Listen more.
  1. I tried to VOLUNTEER.

It is quite scary for me when I volunteer for a task. However, one good thing I learned when volunteering is it broadens your mind. There are various people you meet whether it is in the church, school or community.

You learn through experience tasks like public speaking, serving other people and communicating with individuals with multi-cultural backgrounds. Volunteering improves your cultural awareness because it makes you see the other side of life that you usually are not exposed to. You understand more other people’s dilemma.

Photo by Alexandr Podvalny

woman and a boy talking
Connecting and reaching out NOT through social media
  1. I tried to pass the driving test.

We didn’t get to the bus stop on time and so the bus left without us. I felt like I was in a Hollywood movie screaming with outstretched arms “ NOOOOOO!” Getting an Australian driver’s license became a major goal for me.

Written exam- done and dusted! On the other hand, the driving test was a nerve-racking experience for me. I failed the first one because I drove 60kph in a 50kph speed limit road and other mistakes which if I was the examiner, I will not give a passing mark to myself.

I failed the second try and I cried while we were leaving the transportation office. The car windows were open and the guy standing on the footpath saw me. Looking back, I saw his reaction seeing me weep. He looked angry while staring at my husband. I guess he could be thinking “You jerk, why are you making the woman cry?”

Passing the driving test on my third try felt like winning the lottery. At last, I have the option not to ride the bus! When the examiner announced I passed the test, I hugged her because I couldn’t contain my joy! After 8 driving lessons and advice from my patient husband, I did it.

Lesson learned: Try and try until you succeed. Yes, it is a cliché but it is so true.

Photo by Alex Harvey

 old woman staring at you
It’s about time you passed that driving test! I thought I would never live to see it.
  1. I tried to study a course.

Trying to study while taking care of a family will test your GRIT as a mum. From what I wrote from my previous blog 10 things to think about before enrolling an online course, studying pushed me to my limits and out of my comfort zone.

Time management and setting priorities were life skills that helped me finish the course. It was not easy but I did it. Cheers to all middle-aged mums out there who are continuously studying and improving their craft. Keep up the good work!

Photo by Stefan Cosma

focus sign

  1. I tried to LOVE.

It has been the common plot of a love story in movies. A guy likes a girl but the girl likes another guy. The guy the girl loves is in love with someone else. It is the same story of unrequited love.

I remembered my classmate. She assumed that our male classmate was courting her because he visited her on weekends. She was so ecstatic telling me that he invited her to his hometown and will be introduced to his parents. To my surprise, the next time we met, she told me in between sobs that he introduced to her his girlfriend during the fiesta.

When you love somebody, it is not a guarantee that you will not get hurt. You will because there is too much emotional investment in it. You become vulnerable and gullible. However, it didn’t hinder me loving someone because it is a risk I had to take.

I am glad I did try to love or else I wouldn’t have three wonderful boys calling me mum.

How about you, my dear reader. Is there something that YOU DO WANT TO TRY? As long as it is not life-threatening or not breaking any laws, what is stopping you?

The question for you is WHY NOT?

 Photo by Martin Shreder

Do what is great sign

 

Countdown: Issues of a Teenager

teenager thinking

I was looking at my son one afternoon while he was watching tv. I realized suddenly that a few months from now, he will be a TEENAGER. Oh goodness, I am TERRIFIED. Don’t tell anyone!

Older mums tell me that when the children are still young, the stress is physical. So true. However, when they become teenagers, the stress becomes MENTAL. Let’s reminisce the good old days of parenthood from baby to primary-school-age children.

Baby to toddler years:

Most mums looked like zombies (including me) because they were sleep deprived with all the crying and the chronic illnesses of coughs, colds or flu of the children. Those were the days when you can’t think straight.

Photo by Sabine van Straaten

sad baby
Why is mum so worried?I better not fall asleep!

Remember the temper tantrums that will test your patience as a mum? Mums’ ears are so versatile, they can withstand a high pitch scream from a preschooler. Don’t get me started with the running and following your child with hawk eyes like a stalker just to make sure the child is safe. Good luck if you have the chance to sit down and relax!

We LOVE OUR CHILDREN.  Hugs, kisses and words like I LOVE YOU MUM were truly appreciated especially if said out of the blue and not just saying sorry.

Kindergarten to Year 6:

The pram and the bag full of diapers, feeding bottles and bibs are out.

It will be the years of FIRST.

First day of school

The child deals with same age children who believe they are entitled to everything

First time to tell you that they cried in school because:

they missed you so much

have an annoying classmate

the everyday routine is gone and change is hard

a lesson is beyond his/her comprehension

they are not good in sports

they are scared

staying at home is better

Physical stress is still there but lessened because they could take care of their personal hygiene. The morning rush of preparing breakfast, putting healthy food on their lunch boxes and taking them to school become a huge part of life to mums or dads. The challenge goes up to the next level when one of the kids gets sick, the school project was forgotten at home or the child doesn’t want to go to school. I am just talking about early morning scenarios!

Photo by Les Anderson

girl staring
I have no idea what she just said.

It will be the years of TRIAL AND ERROR in terms of discipline and teaching. What works out with the eldest child may not apply with the second one and so you try other strategies.

The good news about these years is you can go out and have some fun! You can explain when they did something wrong because they could understand better the situation, unlike the toddler years. You can take them anywhere because they still prefer your company and have a blast family bonding. They can help you now with the basic chores like cleaning the house, folding the clothes and preparing the dinner table.

AND NOW…  Let us talk about the troublesome Teenage years. (13-19 years old)

Teenage years:

Listening to stories of mums raising teenagers is enough to give me a high blood pressure. It is a NAIL-BITING phenomenon every parent has to go through.

Here are some of the worrisome stories on my list:

Talking back and being disrespectful  – This is the most common one. Screaming countless swear words at your parents, throwing random things while the parent is reasoning out with you and slamming the door and keeping everyone out because the teenager hates every family member are just examples.

Keeping secrets – The child who reports to you everything becomes secretive in his/her teens. Your teenager has a boyfriend/ girlfriend or going out on a date without you knowing it.

Photo by Kristina Flour

sign of keep quiet
Sshhhh. Don’t tell my mum or dad or they will freak out!

Laziness– Cleaning one’s own bedroom becomes an epic battle between parents and teenagers.

Got pregnant– The adolescent is still childish and is having a child of her own? It is a scenario that will cause deep anguish and sleepless nights.

Photo by Jenna Norman

woman with a baby
I could have been enjoying with my friends and not stuck in here.

Got someone pregnant– The teen is still immature and now a father-to-be? Instead of pursuing a career or traveling, a responsibility is at hand.

Drugs- This is one issue that destroys dreams. If the teenager cannot overcome the addiction then it will be a cycle of rehab or even jail.

Depression– Some teenagers are way too competitive either in academics or sports or even both. When they fail, self-esteem gets affected. The feeling of not good enough emerges. They start to shut people out.

Don’t care attitude – Some teenagers don’t care about their studies or what they want to do with their life. Setting a goal is not part of their vocabulary.

Photo by Pablo Varela

teenager thinking
Why don’t they understand me? I don’t care anymore.

All-knowing and too proud– They don’t listen to advice. They think that they already know what’s best for them and their parents’ ideas suck! (quoting a teenager)

Too much alcohol  They don’t know when enough is enough.

Addicted to video games/gadgets– They don’t go out of their rooms anymore. Eating together as a family becomes a difficult task. Teenagers become more aggressive and smart-alecks when confronted with too much screen time.

Cyberbullying and bullying at school– There will be schoolmates who will say the most hurtful words, treat you like you don’t exist and post publicly things that may be humiliating on your part. It is quite upsetting when you see it in the news.

Photo by Andrew Neel

woman with a covered face
WHY ARE THEY SO MEAN TO ME?

Eating disorders– Either the teenager is not eating at all or the teen is eating too much because of insecurities.

Broken hearted -First love was a jerk or a better word – imbecile.  The teenager had a difficult time moving on with life.

Studies– The pressure and stress of submitting school requirements may affect the well-being of a teenager.

Choice of friends -The attitude of your teenager changes because of the powerful influence of his/her friends. Your words have no meaning anymore because they rather listen to their friends’ opinion on the matter.

Photo by Toa Heftiba

woman with a nose ring
What are you looking at?

Rebel-  Control- freak parents have a living nightmare when their teenager is against everything they say JUST BECAUSE. Clothes are too revealing or too shabby. The hairstyle is beyond your tolerance.

All sorts of accidents: A teenager can have accidents at home or on the road and performs mischievous thrills trying to impress the crowd which ended up in the hospital.

Photo by Andrew Pons

boy on a skateboard
I will be the coolest kid doing this!

Just plain stupidity– No matter how much words of wisdom you give, it is not a guarantee that they will not make mistakes. They will learn from their blunders but deep inside your heart, it truly hurts to see them that way.

Bodily changes and mood swings – FIGHTS ERUPT DUE TO temper caused by the monthly menstruation of the daughter and the mood triggered by hot flashes of the mum trying to adapt to menopause.  A teenager without proper guidance may end up having STD (Sexually Transmitted Disease).

TIME – They love your company and their world revolves around you when they were younger. It becomes the opposite during teenage years because they rather spend time with their friends. You rarely see them home.

Sorry if I made you anxious.

These are only some of the distressing stories every PARENT OF A TEENAGER may or may not encounter. We do not know yet what will be the new challenges a 21st-century teenager has to deal with! It will test our parenting abilities but as we go along the way, I believe we CAN DO IT.

We can be the best mum or dad for our teenager. I do not know all the answers. I am also learning life’s lessons one day at a time! What are the keywords I could leave you with?

LOVE

SUPPORT

TIME

LISTEN

TRUST

Photo by Nigel Tadyanehondo

For all the parents, carers and guardians out there responsible for teenagers, I am praying for you. May you have more love, wisdom, strength, patience and resilience. Pray for me too because raising three boys is not a piece of cake.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is something about crying

crying woman

As a mum, you sometimes catch yourself staring into space, tears kept rolling down your face. You told yourself, I am tired of being strong. This is too much for me. You don’t understand your emotions anymore. Sob. Sob. And more weeping. You are now in the moment when you just feel like CRYING.

There are countless reasons why you are angry, frustrated, sad, anxious and tired. No matter how you try to reason out with yourself with common positive self-talk:

You can get through this.

It is just temporary.

You can overcome this.

Still, after all those affirmations, you end up CRYING.

Alarm bells will be heard around the household when they see their MUM weeping. Every family member is worried. Mum, the multitasker, the tough one that balances home and work, the troubleshooter of all sorts of problems of the family is WEEPING. Oh-uh. Something is terribly wrong. Even a toddler will feel your pain and may even hug you even though the child doesn’t understand what is going on.

It feels good when there is a trusted loved one who is available to comfort you during this time of struggle. However, what if you are alone?  This is when the mums become different. The object that you grab or hold on to while you are crying causes the difference.

When you feel that the issue at hand is beyond your control, you might get:

Box of tissues – Ah, the classic box of tissues which is an alternative to the handkerchief. The latter is an extra part of the laundry but the former is just a throwaway in the bin. Tissues are way better. Blowing your nose until it becomes red, swollen eyelids and red eyes from non-stop crying, tissues are the silent witnesses to your dilemma.

Photo by Jeremy Wong

old lady crying
Why don’t they visit me anymore?

Pillow – The pillow is the partner of the tissues because most of the time, the whining is usually done on the bed. Because no one is there to judge you, the cushion becomes the shock absorber of your tight hugs, punches and screams. Screaming on the pillow is a good free therapy.

Photo by elizabeth lies

woman under the pillows
WHY?!WHY?!WHY?! (screaming curse words)

Comfort food – My last blog discussed FOOD cravings. You might suddenly have the irresistible urge to grab an ice cream, cake, chocolate, salty food, savory food and other junk food that you can shove in your mouth.

Photo by Patrick Fore

Your mind: DO NOT eat DONUTS! You had two already. ( gets another one)

I just hope you feel good afterward. This is also one of the reasons why most middle-age mums are overweight (including me). The food becomes the friend.

Alcoholic drink – For other mums, a drink makes them feel bolder while drowning in their own misery. All I can say is drink responsibly. You need healthy organs.

Remote control – Other mums do not want the silence in the room so they get hold of a remote control to watch something on TV or a movie. Even if the movie is not heavy drama, you still cry because a spoken word or a part of the movie is related to what’s going on in your life.

Photo by Jens Kreuter

Mind-numbing tv marathon while in a bad mood

Smartphone – The smartphone has various uses for the person who has a problem.

 Photo by Rami Al-zayat

smartphone
Tapping the apps.. tap-tap tap-tap
  1. You can cry while listening to your uplifting songs, depressing songs, rock and roll songs, heavy metal or alternative music depending upon your state of mind.
  2. You can have a video chat with someone miles away while crying your heart out.
  3. You can call a trustworthy person who will patiently listen to you or not.
  4. Listen or watch a video on YouTube just to make you feel better.
  5. Listen to a podcast or news just to divert your unhappy mind.

 Sacred item – A mother who is going through a crisis takes a religious item to say a prayer for strength and guidance.  It could be a Bible, a rosary and a prayer book.

Photo by Ben White

Oh God, help me get through this.

 Paper and pen – There are countless swear words you want to say over and over while you are crying but for other mums, they prefer it in written form. They will start writing about their feelings or what they want to say to someone without offending anybody as long as that paper is burned or shredded.

 Photo by Helloquence

Dear Joe, You really bring out the WORST in me. What were you thinking?!!…

I tried this once. I read what I wrote the next day. It gave me a perspective on what was going on in my mind. It was as if I was reading another person’s letter. I made sure no one read it because I burned it.

 A glass of water – You can’t breathe anymore in the middle of your sobs so you seize a glass of water for rehydration. A half an hour of weeping is exhausting and drinking water is a must or else you get dehydrated. After a long session of crying, it feels like you went on a hike.

 Cleaning tools – Crying out of frustration is put to good use by scrubbing away the dirt in the kitchen, the bathroom, the toilet. The good news is after you finished crying, the house is immaculately clean!

Photo by Lucas Pimenta

sad woman near the bathroom sink
So frustrating… at least the bathroom is squeaky clean.

 Knife – Don’t get me wrong. I am talking about cutting the ingredients for cooking. Vent your despair by chopping, mincing and slicing the meat and vegetables on the chopping boards. Good thing, the ingredients don’t have feelings. Moreover, there is already a dinner for the family.

Photo by Mike Petrucci

Crying and cooking at the same time, I salute you.

 Sewing or knitting materials – At the end of your weeping, a creation is made like a blanket or a dress. Your hands were so busy that you didn’t realize you produced a masterpiece. Sometimes, the mind is busy thinking that you stop crying without knowing it.

Pet – The ever loyal pet dog or cat is by your side when no humans are around. Patting their fur while a tsunami of doubts and fears in your mind create a calming effect.

Photo by Jacob Ufkes

dog on the bed
I will stay with you human.

Photo by Chris Abney

pet cat with the owner
Why is my human crying again?

I have nothing against crying. It feels good to release the pent-up emotions. It is challenging being a mum but I wouldn’t exchange my place with someone else’s.

After you STOP CRYING is a game changer because you might be thinking of a plan. What are you going to do afterward? Mums may either:

  1. Do nothing about it because why bother when you cannot change it?
  2. Determined to work things out no matter what and try other options.
  3. Feel you are the victim of the situation and cry repeatedly.
  4. Change the way you think and how you feel about it because life is too short to be miserable.

If you feel that you cry more often than before then I suggest you seek help from a trustworthy family, friend or a psychologist.

Whatever you are going through now, I just hope and pray that you will surpass it and come out of it stronger and wiser. Do not be too hard on yourself. Do not bully yourself by being your worst critic. Cry and move on my dear reader. It is SUPERCALIFRAGILISTICEXPIALIDOCIOUS to be alive! it just means terrific.

Cravings, Emotions and Filipino Food

Halo-halo

When you have cravings, there are emotions attached to it.

Suddenly craving for an ice cream? Everything fell into place and you want to celebrate!

rainbow ice cream
Happy eating!

Dying to eat chocolate? You just want to shove the piece in your mouth because you are upset.

chocolate waffle
Looks delicious… yes it is.

Angry at someone? You see yourself getting the potato chips in your pantry because you want to release stress.

Feeling bored? There is a bottle of wine somewhere…

There are various reasons why we crave a particular food or drink. I will not discuss alcoholic drinks, coffee or soft drinks.

I want to focus more on FOOD.

CAKE – This is always present on special occasions: birthdays, anniversaries, mother’s day and other special days. In spite of that, when you feel you are an actor in a drama series, the cake is one of the options for stress eating. I could already hear the song “All By Myself”.

ube cake
So happy to see you!

There was one night when I craved for Ube Cake. It is a purple yam cake with macapuno (coconut sport)  in it. Oh, it was one of those nights I couldn’t do anything about it! I do not know how to bake it or if the ingredients are available at the Asian store. I only see it when a talented guest shares this treat in the party.

ICE CREAM – There is something about ice cream that makes you want to eat more. I couldn’t sleep one night and went to the freezer to get two scoops of Rocky Road ice cream. I asked myself, WHY AM I DOING THIS? My mind didn’t even bother to answer and just gave in to temptation.

rocky road ice cream
Eating ice cream with family and another one for midnight snack

What is your tempting ice cream treat? Vanilla? Strawberry? Chocolate? Special flavors like pistachio ice cream perhaps? It even tastes better with an ice cream cone, just like the good old days of childhood. Yum.

CHICKEN – There are two types of chicken I CRAVE: Chickenjoy from the Filipino fast-food chain JOLLIBEE and the spicy chicken from KFC. At the moment, I could not eat chickenjoy here in Australia because it does not have a  Jollibee branch yet. However, I see myself most Tuesdays falling in line at a KFC branch ordering the Cheap Tuesday option.

three boys with Jollibee
We miss you Jollibee especially your chickenjoy.

CHOCOLATE – This is my weakness, is it yours too? There are days I do not even look for it in the pantry or not even eat it for days even if it is just within my grasp. When the craving starts, as if I am a little child coming back to the pantry eating a part bit by bit.

MEAT: BEEF? PORK?  MUTTON? This is not much of a craving for me but other people are craving for these. Do you want it grilled or barbecued? Fried? Baked? Stewed? Eat the jiggly  fats that come with it? Mmmmm…

LECHON
Lechon, where art thou lechon?

POTATO CHIPS – You are not much of a fan of sweet food but you suddenly get uneasy when you crave for something SALTY. Disgust fills your mind when you open the cupboards or the pantry without potato chips. You promised yourself in the grocery store that you will start a healthy life by not buying potato chips. You breathe in and breathe out and close the pantry.

Boy Bawang Cornick
We travel for half an hour just to get one of these!

Stop it. Hold it. I could go on and on with the other food cravings. Don’t make me start with pizza. Let’s go a bit deeper with this. Something familiar.

Furthermore, there is another cause why we desire a particular food: HOMESICKNESS.

–  It was part of your childhood.

–  Father or mother used to cook it for you.

– You associate it with a friend back then.

– It is the food that you devoured during a special occasion in the past.

– Foodstuff that reminds you of home miles and miles away.

Good for you if you can buy it in the shops or the ingredients are available and you can cook it from scratch. Other times, you just have to grin and bear it. Wait for the chance to visit your country of origin and eat it all you want until you can’t take it anymore.

Here are the  Filipino foods that I craved once or twice or more.

Taho – I grew up eating this for breakfast during my childhood years. It is made up of soft tofu with caramel and sago pearls.  Most of the time, the peddler shouted TAHOin front of our house so I asked my grandmother to buy some for me. The answer was always yes. *grinning*

I ate this in front of the house with my childhood friend who was still wearing her pajamas. We didn’t even wash our faces or combed our hair but we were already outside eating taho for breakfast.

Taho
One TAHO for me and one for you

Philippine Mangoes – I already ate different types of mangoes but my heart still craves for Philippine mangoes. Maybe, it is the taste I grew up with or the special memories associated while eating it. Looking back, I always ate mangoes with my loved ones.

Philippine mangoes
I want to eat you all!

Lumpiang sariwa / Fresh spring rolls – The fresh spring rolls prepared by the experts will make you forget your diet. Different vegetables are wrapped in a soft white wrapper then topping it with sweet sauce and peanuts. The secret here why it is so delicious is the sauce that comes with it

one fresh spring roll
The last fresh spring roll… mmm.

Banana cue – This was my afternoon snack growing up. Deep fried bananaplantains with brown sugar are the best! My friends and I devoured it while drinking coconut juice.

two banana cue
Banana cue, when can I eat you again?

Chicharon/ Pork crackling – Dipping this in vinegar and stopping yourself finish the pack is an effort. Hearing the crunch of the pork crackling in every bite and catching up with friends is a match wherever you are.

chicharon/pork crackling
It takes self-discipline to stop eating this.

Balut – fertilized duck egg. Do I have to say more? It is best to eat it with salt or vinegar. It is not for the faint of heart. Legend has it that even the most adventurous, thrill-seeking food lovers have said NO THANK YOU to this.

Balut
I am challenging you to eat BALUT.

Dinuguan – is pork blood stew. I do not know how to cook this but every time I see it in parties, I always taste it initially. When my son first saw me with this, he exclaimed: “ Mum, you are eating dirty food!”   NO, I AM NOT.

Dinuguan
Dinuguan by Nelia

Pandesal – It is a part of breakfast of every Filipino family. You buy it in a bakery early in the morning then fill it with your favorite peanut butter, margarine or cheese. When I was young, the pandesal was bigger. Nowadays, it became smaller and more expensive.

Hot pandesal for breakfast = good start of the day

Leche flan and polvoron – My mother rarely prepared these special treats so when she did, I was in sweets heaven.Leche flan needs 10 egg yolks, condensed milk and evaporated milk. These ingredients are expensive for simple folks. I controlled myself eating the whole serving so I could eat it for days.

3 leche flan
Party Leche flan… I know you want it.

Polvoron is another one. Mama didn’t bother anymore wrapping the treat. She just put it in a big container and gave me a spoon. How I loved eating polvoronwhile watching my favorite cartoons! Be careful eating it or else you might cough and scatter the powder all over the place.

sweet polvoron
Polvoron (right)

Halo-halo – It is a Filipino dessert with shaved ice, evaporated milk, sweet beans and bananas, jelly, leche flan and other ingredients. Halo-halo becomes special because of the other ingredients you decide to mix.

Example, other people put macapuno (coconut sport)  in it or vanilla ice cream on top or jackfruit. It depends upon the preparation and available ingredients. Delicious!

Halo-halo
HALO-HALO: Mix all the ingredients then eat.

Kakanin – Filipino delicacies or rice treats

To prepare these treats, patience is needed because there is a lot of mixing involved. I am still a work in progress in cooking. The last time I made one, it got burnt. I rather eat the food prepared by someone who knows what they are doing. If you are interested to cook Filipino kakanin then here is the website for you.  Click here.

KAKANIN/ RICE CAKES
Examples of KAKANIN/RICE CAKES
sapin-sapin
Sapin-sapin: layer upon layer of sweet sticky food
colorful puto
Colorful puto by Joselito

Tamales or Bobotu to Kapampangans- There is the feeling of anticipation every time I remove the banana leaf wrapper from the tamales. Will the tamales be huge like the wrapper or is it small? My father loves tamales and I love it too.

Tamales wrapped in banana leaves
Surprise! Huge tamales in the house!

Street food – OH YESSS. Air pollution from the public vehicles didn’t stop me from eating street food. I only ate siomai (dim sum dumplings) and quail eggs. I was not adventurous enough to eat the grilled organs of the pig.

street food on a stick
Street food on a stick. Yum!

Pancit Malabon –  Savory noodles with toppings like smoked fish, eggs and sea food ( shrimp, oysters, mussels)

Pancit Malabon
A plate of this and you are good to go!

Reno – It is a canned good of liver spread. Yes, we do love this and we put it in Caldereta or Beef stew.

Reno, you will always be special.

To sum it up, there will always be a time that you start to crave for something. Sometimes it is okay to give in to the temptation. Just have the discipline to STOP yourself when you know enough is enough.  My enough is when my belt needs to get loose. *giggling*

A friend once  told me ”  JUST BUY A BIGGER T-SHIRT  if you don’t fit in it anymore.” Funny yes. In the long run, it will not be.

There you have it, folks. At the moment, I am craving for BALUT.  How about you? What are you craving for?

Just Dance 2016

guy dancing on the street

The boys excitedly handed out a  second-hand Just Dance 2016 game to me one Sunday afternoon. We tried to play the game out of curiosity. As a mother, here are my ten thoughts about the game.

  1. It is a game that hit me with the reality about the status of my weight.

I love to dance but the moves made me feel my toned fats were too heavy. I was trying to catch my breath after a more than 3-minute song! It was the day I discovered how badly I needed to lose weight. Talking about an in denial mum!

Photo by Carlos Bretón

bear
It is time to take a stand and LOSE THIS BELLY FAT!
  1. It gave me the opportunity to play a game with the boys.

I have driven for years but the boys kept giving me advice on how to drive in a Mario Kart game.

“Keep your hands still mummy.” Of course, I always fall off the cliff in that game!

Just Dance gave me the chance to shine and receive my 3 or 4 or 5 stars just following the dance steps! I no longer hear the bits of wisdom coming from the boys this time.

  1. It is an alternative to gym exercise.

It takes dedication to go to the gym, run on the treadmill and use the gym equipment until the muscles hurt.  I had the option to sweat at the comfort of my home with Just Dance video game. Fit and healthy me soon! Fingers crossed.

  1. Learning the modern dance moves made me feel young.

It really looks cool doing those moves. So this is the kind of dance they are doing now! So what if I am doing it wrong? Dancing with the boys rubbed in me their youthful energy.

  1. I discovered new songs I like to dance to.  

Gibberish by Max

Animals by Martin Garrix

Blame by Calvin Harris featuring John Newman

I can still appreciate songs of today. My playlist is not limited anymore to the songs of my generation.

  1. It is a game that makes the boys move and dance.

I try to limit the video game time of the boys. I just see them sit around staring at the monitor or television. With this game, it is like inserting exercise in their schedule!

  1. I felt good after dancing the playlist.

I could have eaten a brownie or devouring my favorite chips. NO. I used my 30 minutes to dance. It was the right decision.Raising my heartbeat and sweating away my fats felt sensational.

Based on my experience, you must have a dance buddy to push you to dance and exercise or else, excuses will start rolling in.

  1. It is another way to do family bonding time.

Weekends come by so fast. One way of spending quality time indoors is to play this game.  It was fun teasing or challenging the boys to dance a particular song we know the steps are suited for girls. My son remarked “Seriously!” after dancing to Born this Way by Lady Gaga.

Furthermore, you will encounter songs that are easy or difficult to dance with. The good news is if you keep on dancing the same song over and over with family, you will get used to it even if you have two left feet. Watching ourselves and laughing about it is time well spent.

Photo by Simon Noh 

sign: NO MUSIC,NO LIFE.

  1. We could sing while waiting for our turn to dance.

While the song is playing, the lyrics are shown at the bottom left corner of the screen.  When we are not sure what the word we heard was, we just look at the lyrics and sing our hearts out.

  1. The little technophobe in me is gradually slipping away.

Oh sure, just press x or the circle then go up.  Trying to learn how to turn on and off and reading the options was a bit too much for me. Learning how to manipulate technology is one step away from feeling obsolete.

 

My family gave me Just Dance 2017 for my birthday. Hopefully, I could dance away the food I ate during winter time. Spring is here and it is time for new beginnings and new YOU! Are you with me?