Tuesday, March 25, 2008

In Three's

My dentist, Dr. Caboboy, told me what I already knew. When we go home to Manila, there are three things an immigrant does: visit the dentist, re-bond hair, and go for a facial.

Dental work is so ridiculously expensive here, with a filling going for $100 each, a crown for $300-plus dollars, and root canal treatments for more than $200 each. And that's at Western Dental (where I go), probably the cheapest in town--"pero hindi sosyal," said Dr. Cab.

And so if dental work here exceeds $900, better buy a round-trip ticket home.

Here there is no hair re-bonding like we know it in the Manila salons, run by Koreans. And there are Japanese re-bonding systems here, they are in the main cities and extremely expensive, like $750. (Almost a round-trip ticket home).

In the meantime, we color our hair from a box, and relax it with the African-American relaxing blend na ubod ng lakas.

When we lived in Pasig, we were a block away from Dr. Nazal's derma office, where a dermatologist will give you a thorough facial. There are no facials here. And Dr. Cab has to wait to pop her whiteheads (complete with steroid shot) when she takes her next trip home.

Well, she is in Philippines now--hopefully, doing everything we can't afford to do here in the land of opportunity. She said she missed the beach, barkada, and mountain-climbing.

"Doon, simple lang ang buhay kahit walang pera. After work, gimik with your friends," she said. "Dito, wala ka kayang maka-usap dahil sobrang pagod."

Friday, March 21, 2008

My 15.4-minute mile

"We are different, in essence, from other men. If you want to win something, run 100 meters. If you want to experience something, run a marathon." - Emil Zatopek, 1952 Olympic Marathon gold medalist

(photo by A.G Pennypacker)

Just this year, I was inspired to run. I still don't know exactly why--maybe it was my (more senior) friend's story of his 4th year running the Bay To Breakers San Francisco Annual Marathon. I thought, if he could do it, maybe so can I. Also, since this has been a time for stretching the boundaries of my mind and spirit, why not also stretch the capacity of my body--strengthening muscles that I did not know I had.

Even if I seemed athletic (I played varsity volleyball in high school, exercised most of my adult life, and played badminton seriously), I was always attracted to the seeming peace and solitude of running.

And so, on a treadmill I went, one night, after failing to complete many spinning classes.

At first, there was pain everywhere--my shins, my knees, my shoulders, and my neck, even at my back. I did about a third-of-a-mile and gave up. I was sore the next day.

To get rid of the soreness, I ran again, tyring to go for half a mile. After a week, I was surprised to have run longer without much effort. Soon, I was running a mile in 16 minutes. My Bay to Breakers friends told me that when I break a mile, all the pain will be gone. And he was right! As if the body had to protect itself, the endorphins probably kicked in and I was running more than a mile--without even thinking about it.

I ran better and longer with music so I borrowed my husband's and put my own play list in it, complete with Ricky Martin songs. I also got headphones, for TV listening. Currently, I am running 2 miles in 33 minutes. (I walk 1-minute in between).

I bike to the gym, which serves as my warm-up. My heart rate is up at 144 and I hold on to 136-140 range while running. It also takes about 3200 steps in a mile (confirmed by my pedometer). I haven't run outside yet but I will soon.

I have let this 5k training tips become my guide:

5-Week 5k Training Schedule

Week 1:

Monday - Run/Walk 15 minutes, Tuesday - Run/Walk 2 miles, Wednesday - Off, Thursday - Run/Walk 15 minutes, Friday - Off, Saturday - Run/Walk 25 minutes, Sunday - Off

Week 2:

Monday - Run 20 minutes, Tuesday - Run/Walk 2 miles, Wednesday - Off, Thursday - Run/Walk 20 minutes, Friday - Off, Saturday - Run/Walk 35 minutes, Sunday - Off

Week 3:

Monday - Run 25 minutes, Tuesday - Run/Walk 2 miles, Wednesday - Off, Thursday - Run/Walk 25 minutes, Friday - Off, Saturday - Run 30 minutes, Sunday - Off

Week 4:

Monday - Run 25 minutes, Tuesday - Run 2 miles, Wednesday - Off, Thursday - Run 30 minutes, Friday - Off, Saturday - Run 45 minutes, Sunday - Off

Week 5:

Monday - Run 20 minutes, Tuesday - Run 20 minutes, Wednesday - Off, Thursday – Run/Walk 15 minutes, Friday - Off, Saturday – Race Day, Sunday – Off

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

How to Wear It

I have always been a casual dresser, much to my mom's frustration. But after getting hooked on my favorite shows now, What Not to Wear and Tim Gunn's Guide to Style, and Project Runway, I just might have a chance for a stylish, more mature (but not old) wardrobe, instead of sticking to jeans and tops, circa 1980's.

Many people say I look young. Maybe they mean I look stuck in college--and sometimes, that is not really a compliment. There comes a time in one's life, where looking young is not applicable. Instead, looking stylish and professional, or someone-to-take seriously, and respectable--may be the look I have to go for.

Jillian was my favorite in Project Runaway Season 4. She had classic but feminine lines.

She was creative and fashionable and subtle.

Many of the make-overs in What Not To Wear and Tim Dunn said that they just didn't think that looking good can make you feel infinitely better about yourself, specially on the inside. The make-overs usually end up with tears, as they couldn't imagine that it is easy to look good and they have actually forgotten about themselves.

I always thought that beauty should come from within. But after watching these shows almost daily, I am inclined to think that we must SHOW that beauty if it is from within, and share it with others.

I always thought that beauty was intimidating. I am realizing now that it can also be an inspiration to uplift many who may need a lift. No use hiding a bright and positive spirit in plain clothes and a retreating personality. I also know that everyone has beauty. You just have to radiate it.

Remember, the rules are: no baggy sweat suits, accent the waist (or the smallest part of the body), fit is very important, and add a punch of color. Also have those 10 wardrobe staples: a dressy white shirt, dressy black pants, a little black dress, etc. (I don't know it all yet)--check out Tim Dunn's site.

And as one of the stylists said, "You cannot control how the world perceives you. You can only control how you are presented."

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Use Your Superpowers

(photo by David Haggard of flickr.com)

I dreamed last night that we all had special gifts--superpowers, if you will. In my dream, these powers were high energy that we can use to lift others up, probably even save them.

I was compelled to write about what I learned from the dream. What a privilege to facilitate thought into word.

If you have beauty, use these powers to lift someone up. Hug someone, smile at everyone, ask what you can do to make their day beautiful like your gift. Lead them to see their own beauty, outside and in. If you are kind, help someone out randomly everyday. If you are smart, teach someone how to read or how to count or how to make a living. If you are musical, play music at your church or volunteer your talent to your church, just because. If you are wealthy, give to your favorite cause every month or start you own group to help out a cause. If you are healthy, give blood, give bone marrow, enlist to become an organ donor. If you are crafty, craft out your art to sell and fundraise for your cause.

Our superpowers can save the world.

How shall we use our superpowers today?

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Oprah's Big Give

Oprah's new show, Oprah's Big Give, aired last week at ABC. Ten finalists from all over the US arrived in Los Angeles for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. To win, each contestant must make dreams come true for total strangers and show the world that one person can make a big difference.

From helping out a widow and her two young daughters keep their home, to helping a special needs teacher secure a facility for her school, to scholarships for disadvantaged children, the contestants must find ways to help out these families in need, with only a $2500 initial fund.

The contestants came up with an average of $50k per collection. Find out who won this round and who went home. Check out the video here.

Also, if you have ideas on how to give big, share them here.

The show encourages us to think about what you can do in your neighborhood, in your town, in your family, among your friends. How you can touch someone's life? Come up with a fun way to raise cash or a creative way to give back without using money at all…and, of course, plan a big reveal.

Tell them your idea, and Nate just might show up at your door!

Monday, March 03, 2008

Counting My Blessings

I have counted my struggles. And so to keep balanced, I must remember to count my blessings. Actually, I always do--I just don't get to write it. I guess it's easier to write when struggling and just keep the bliss to myself.

Though it is still officially winter, it is like Spring here off San Francisco. This is the reason we chose Northern California in the first place. The weather is beautiful! A Spring-looking day just like this calls for celebrating blessings, indeed!

Recently, R and I had many blessed days. After bringing our youngest to preschool, we ventured out to have breakfast together at our local diner, Sylvia's Country Kitchen. Sylvia's is always full for breakfast and brunch. They also won the best in Antioch Award for Breakfast service.

What a treat for R and I to have their chicken and avocado omelette burrito. The serving could have fed three, so we just split and took home the rest (for another breakfast at home). The breakfast burrito came with two sides--silver dollar pancakes and the homemade coffee-crunch muffins I like. For $15, I think we did well, as we were stuffed and the food was delicious. (I have to tell my Tito S, who loves Denny's, to re-think his favorite breakfast place. And I have told Uncle J to hang out here next time).

Because we had such a good start, the week yielded even more blessings.

R and I attended our first Filipino wedding (cousin of his business partner) in the Bay Area. It was a simple wedding, where the groom marinated his own barbeque (they own Kadoks BBQ, very popular BBQ joint in that side of the penninsula) and the bride made her own kakanin (the most delicious and home-made maja blanca, leche flan, Biko, and kuchinta I ever had--and I don't even eat Biko!). The people were simple but very friendly and generous--they sent us home with lots of cake and kakanin for the kids.

The wedding ended at 4 pm and since R and I were all dressed up with nowhere to go, we explored the City and ended up in Ghirardelli Square with the tourists. We were led to the hip seafood bar McClintock and Kuleto's, enjoyed the ambience, people-watching, and the calamari and wine--and promised to visit the city as often as we could, lest we forget how beautiful it is.
(We also realized that we had a phone camera!)

I realized we aren't so financially tight anymore, or maybe I just leave the budget to God, and He always makes it work. I learned to loosen up and enjoy more things, which leads to other nice pleasures, and more blessings. I learned to appreciate R--all his hard-work and the way he likes to enjoy life. We are blessed to have some flexi-time to enjoy the pleasures of life. We may not have much, but we have time to stop and smell the roses. . .and the coffee for breakfast.

When you count your blessings, you think of more--our kids are healthy and happy, we get to bring them to school (together, sometimes), we get to meet nice and generous people, and most of all, I am certain that God provides.

Count, count, count and enjoy your blessings. They will lead to more. . .