Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Some Articles

I thought I'd point you out to some of the more interesting articles of mine to date:

It was the first time I attended a poetry reading session. It was quite fun, inspiring, nurturing to any kind of artist. Check out Brentwood Open Mic Poetry Reading and find out why one can never be too old to write poetry.

The United States of America is actually as varied as the countries of the world. And why not? A melting pot of different cultures, immigrants comprise about 33 million of the population--and that was as of 2002.

It's no wonder that even in far out Antioch, CA, the community has become more diverse than ever. Farmlands have slowly but surely given way to new residential and commercial developments. Check out what Independence Day means to some of these immigrants as Diverse Community Celebrates Independence Day.

And of course, one of my favorites, Read To Dogs, where, because of strict regulations of photographing children only with written consent and release from parents, I had my own daughters pose for the picture. Taking them along was such a good decision. They had a great time as Selena, at 8 years, reads at a 6th Grade level, and Monica, at 3, is the cutest listener!

I was just thinking how I will not be able to write for a month as I will be in Manila, fixing some property legalities. And how it has been quite fun so far to be writing about the community and its people.

I have met so many of them, some I have gotten to know quite well. I realized that to write well, you must be genuinely interested in people and the commonalities amongst us. Many tell me I ask the right questions. I think it's more that I listen to them genuinely, they end up telling me more than they should!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Be Aware of Blessings

Really, when you ask, you shall receive.

And sometimes, even when you don't ask, good karma (just like bad karma) has a way of finding you when it's time for an upgrade.

Consider that a bigger house with patio overlooking a most beautiful rose garden, 2 blocks from the community pool and park, appeared from nowhere when it was time for us to leave our modest old home. Consider that the bigger home was new and clean and spacious, and affordable, just $50/month more in rent, when really houses like these rent for much, much more.

The rose garden soothes me daily, and the patio gives us lots of extra space and shade. We harvest organic strawberries when it is in season. There is so much beauty in this space.

I heard myself asking, "What did we do to deserve this?"--half-scared that it was a fluke. I heard squealing in thanksgiving and then stopping myself and holding my breath kasi baka maudlot.(blessing might go away if you brag about it). But then I'm thinking udlot might be a way of not trusting God. For why would we think that He would give us a blessing but take it away when we acknowledge it?

Consider that my dad agreed to transfer a sentimental property into our names. We spent many summers and Christmases in Baguio. My brothers and I decided to keep it, lest my dad sell or mortgage it to someone else and we will never see it again. The fact that we have the means to keep the property is a huge blessing.

Consider that I am going to get to visit Manila to fix this transfer. I have been eager-but-scared to visit. My running joke is I might not want to come back to the US after I get a massage in Manila, not to mention manicures, pedicures, foot spas, hair color, re-bond, a real salon haircut. I had no plans (nor funds) to go home and I couldn't imagine leaving work (and pay) here. But I guess this is called "God's Perfect Time." And when the universe finds you, it gives you matching funds and a booking in this season of full flights.

You know they are blessings when they come easy, unexpected, like a pleasant surprise. Sometimes, doubt sets in: "Is the property really worth all the trouble?" "How will I get back my expenses?" "Do we really deserve this new house?"

Blessings keep coming. I am the only photographer who shoots her pictures just feet from the subject. My colleagues (they have become my friends), come in with intimidating zoom lens and can shoot inconspicuously from afar. Here comes a friend who want to get rid of his zoom lens because he never uses it. He gave me a deal that I couldn't resist. Talk about an upgrade. Now, I can shoot from afar, too, and not be shooed away by security.

I was doubting where I will source my funds from. Then I made a decision to use a cash gift from my father-in-law last Christmas. I was saving it for something special and concrete. Here it is.

Well, I say ditch your doubt with prayers and kind deeds. Doubt is throwing cold water on your blessings. And you don't want to do that, do you? Just as your spirits must not dampen if it rains on your birthday party, you must be creative about going around the situation. If it rains, you will find a tent, go indoors, wait a bit, make the most of it.

I think so should it be with blessings. When you hear the Lord say, "time to do it," trust that He will give you the resources (even if you want to conserve it), to pursue the blessings. Or else, you should be creative in finding resources on your own, could also be exciting and glorifying God. Trust that you deserve it. Trust that He will replenish you. And don't believe the old thinking that God wants us to suffer, be poor, and be unjustly deprived.

Consider that my husband has been laid-off work. We went through depression and doubt. But my husband has become positive lately. And though, he has no job yet, I am dead sure that he will find one.

I realized that I trust the Lord so much in times of hardship. I must learn to trust the Lord just as well in times of abundance. That way, I see and feel the Lord everywhere--in the photos that I take, in the people that I meet--some at the exact time that I need assurance. Some say the exact things I need to hear to go on, some at the exact position to refer my husband to a job.

I look for signs--literally--in the BART, in the bus, in the highway. Sometimes, messages and blessings are reinforced through sign boards. Remember, God is everywhere. We must learn to look and listen and ask.

When a good thing comes, at the right time in the right place, don't doubt it. . .It is a blessing that you deserve. That's because what you focus on expands, and when you focus on the goodness in your life, you create more of it, Oprah Winfrey had said.

Give thanks and honor the blessing so the others may see that the God is truly generous and good.