Five Chic Reasons I’m In Love With Short Hair

Once-upon-a-time, cutting my hair short was unthinkable. But, bitter years spent tangling with bad hair days had finally taken their toll on my patience, leaving me to no avail but to take the ultimate act of a woman’s sacrifice–that is to surrender the fate of her crowning glory into the hands of a hairdresser. Today, I am loving every single thing there is to love about my new look.

Short hair is literally cool and fun. It has many perks no woman with long hair could ever understand. If you want to know what the chic benefits are of having short hair, then here the following reasons I won’t be missing my long locks for a very long time.

Chic Benefit#1: It’s the Shock Factor

There is always something impressively audacious about women getting a short haircut that shocks people every time. When I had my long thick black hair chopped to a boyish crop about two months ago, I received all sorts of reactions–ranging from derisive disapproval to major admiration–from people who knew me. For a change, I felt brave and unpredictable seeing people unsettled over my drastic transformation.

Chic Benefit#2: It’s a Daring Look Only A Few Can Pull Off

I realize that not everyone can carry a Jean Seberg crop, or rock a Miley Cyrus mohawk. It usually takes a lot of guts and the right amount of sass to shift from soft and feminine to ass-kicking rock star cool.

Chic Benefit#3: It Costs Less to Maintain

What I love about having short hair now is that I don’t have to use as much shampoo or conditioner as I used to when I had longer tresses. Gone are the days where I had to spend a ridiculous amount of money and agonizing time in a salon chair to have work done on my unmanageable frizz. Obviously, maintaining hard-to-tame tresses over the years hadn’t exactly been stress-free for me. But now, it no longer has to cost me an arm and a leg just to look fabulous.

Chic Benefit #4: It’s Flexible

Another thing to love about wearing short hair is that you can style it any way you like (unless it’s too closely cut to the head). You don’t even need gel to look cool and edgy. Sometimes, all that you need to achieve a really mean rocker (just got out of bed) look are eight hours of deep sleep.

Chic Benefit #5: It’s Simply Liberating to Have Short Hair

I used to deal with bad hair days by efficiently hiding hideous knots and horrific split ends in a tight, neat and practical bun. And so, chopping off those hard-to-tame tresses was obviously the wisest thing I have ever done so far this year.

In fact, it had benefited me in more ways I could have thought possible. Not only did having shorter hair make me feel lighter and literally freer (as if half of my life’s burdens have been lifted off my shoulders) but it had unshackled me from the unflattering stereotypes any “frumpy,” “boring” and “old-fashioned” stay-at-home mom would love to finally rid of herself.

Short Hair Mom Blog Post

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“Work Smart” Hacks from My Husband

Nanny-less with two young kids, a blog and freelance writing job, I find that I suck big time at this entire being organized business. Meanwhile, my husband–a virtuoso in a field where women are reputed to be subject matter experts–is an adept juggler of tasks. He can breeze through any litany of chores, inserting one or two rounds of basketball in between, while there I am–bedraggled, hair unkempt, and could barely change out of my pajamas.

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His energy is limitless and his efficiency is unparalleled. I resent and admire him for those very same qualities. For all my mommy angst towards the man who seems too eager to assume my role–on top of his duty as father to my children–I just can’t help but gush a little bit about those Superman qualities of his.

I never thought that I would say this, but I think it’s kind of cool how a guy can get so many things done on top of his own work responsibilities in the office. And, if there is anything at all that I have learned living with this man, it is working smarter and not necessarily harder that helps you get ahead each day and, ultimately, in life.

So, what are these “work smart” techniques that I’ve picked up from the husband over the years? Here they are:

 

  1. Sleep

I used to wonder where he’d draw his energy from; but knowing how he values his sleep, I shouldn’t be surprised. As it turns out, the secret behind his get-up-and-go attitude is six to eight hours of uninterrupted zzzs.

  1. Early Start

Except for his Friday night drinking sessions with the boys, he loves turning in early so that he gets a good head start the following day. Waking up early gives him time to start slow, drink in the silence and exercise before he plunges into some real work ahead.

  1. One Task At A Time

I’ve always admired him for the way he can handle so many things at the same time. But truth be told, my husband attributes his efficiency to focusing on one task at a time. Basically, it’s quality over quantity for him. Concentrate on the task at hand to come up with an excellent result and immediately move on to the next. Before you know it, you have accomplished more than you have intended.

  1. Prioritize

For the husband, doing what’s important first always work best. For me, however, it’s getting the easier tasks out of the way as working on the more challenging parts can be time-consuming. Whichever way you choose to go about accomplishing your to-dos, prioritizing always works to anyone’s advantage.

  1. Efficiency is a Habit

Routine may sound ho-hum to you, but it’s a practical and effective way of getting things done. In the process of doing things over and over, you develop or discover better ways of accomplishing tasks which then over a period of time becomes a habit.

  1. It’s in the Attitude

Sure, I know a thing or two about this science of budgeting time and I’ve written about it once for a webzine and the other time for a defunct personal blog. But, I realized that preaching about what should be done is a lot easier than actually applying the techniques. As for my husband, managing time has less to do with keeping a planner or sticking to a timetable, rather it has always been more about his attitude towards work and life’s challenges.

An Open Letter to My 9-Year-Old Daughter

Dearest Thea Alexandra,

lettertothea4You turn 9 today and I marvel at how much you have grown, or rather metamorphosed into this amazing adult of a child. Every day, you keep me in awe with new revelations about yourself.

You’re now into rap music and song-writing which I think is awesome. I’m thinking maybe you’re a poet, just like your grandma when she was alive. You’re quite a story-teller, too, preferring to narrate your tales in the way scriptwriters organize their story lines into scenes and segments. Perhaps someday, you’ll be the greatest Pinay playwright the world ever had, or the genius creator of brilliant cinematic artistry worthy of a Cannes or an Academy award.

I know that you’d rather be a teacher so that you may serve as a beacon of inspiration to many young learners. Or, a doctor so that you could extend a healing hand to the sick and the needy. I won’t stop you from pursuing those dreams. It’s just that I see a lot of myself in you. But then again, unlike your mommy, you have a way of growing on people. And I suppose in that way, we are different.

You have a knack for dressing well, too. With your sense of style, I bet you can upstage any sophisticated twenty-something-year-old at their own red carpet event. But there are still so much of that baby in you that you haven’t outgrown: Barbie dolls, Disney princesses, and wearing big fancy bows and candy-colored hairbands. There isn’t a single trace of masculinity in your body; for some reason, that worries me a lot.

You see, the world can be a great and dangerous place: something like a bottomless ocean that can swallow you into its perilous depths should you slip out of Mommy and Tatay’s close watch. I suppose liberal as I am in my parenting philosophy about raising you and your brother, I am no different from any parent prone to paranoia. Though you continue to amaze me with your beyond-your-years insights, there is still a lot that I want to teach you about this world.

It’s your 9th birthday and here are nine reminders (out of a never-ending litany of advice and life lessons) to guide you in the next nine or so years of your life at the least.

  1. Enjoy your childhood. You are allowed to be a kid. Though education is very important, never forget for even just a second to reward hard work with a lot of fun play.  Run, jump, leap, and laugh out loud even though I tell you off for being too rowdy. Play dolls, play soccer, go hide-and-seek with the children in the neighborhood, and hang out with your girlfriends at our balcony. Celebrate your youth before it’s all gone.

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  1. Learn to love reading. It’s  your ammunition against ignorance and it will take you to the farthest reaches of the world. But, Alex, when you’re old enough to afford it, travel to those far-flung places. Sometimes firsthand experience is better than imagination. For now, relish the joys of reading books.
  1. Appreciate beauty in every color, shape, and size. Kim Chiu may epitomize your definition of beauty, but I want to remind you that being beautiful is not just about being tall, glamorous, and fabulously thin. You can be short, brown-skinned, and stunning in a pair of faded jeans and a tie-and-dye tee, or voluptuously gorgeous in a velvety blue cocktail dress. A girl’s true beauty shines brightest when she is at her element: doing what she loves best and so comfortable in her imperfection.
  1. Remember that beauty is skin deep. For adults, this saying may sound like a line worn out from overuse to convince friends that they are beautiful. But there is truth to this cliche. You see, beauty really does come from deep within. If you feel good, it just radiates.  When you are sick and feeling down, it is reflected in the pallor of your skin and in the dark circles under your eyes. If you’re mean, people will distance themselves from you. Physical beauty is nothing when you have an ugly heart.
  1. Try to be kind even when it’s hard.  There will come a time when you will feel insecure about your looks. You will be discontented about the way things are going in your life. You may even feel pressured by the success of other people. As a result of this sense of inadequacy, you may want to lash out at people and indulge in gossip to make yourself feel better. No matter how terrible you feel, be kind anyway. When you try to hurt others you hurt yourself more because the satisfaction you derive from putting people down is only temporary. And, when you’re happy and feeling on top of the world, be kind still. Never gloat in your victory over other people. Instead extend a helping hand because you never know when you might need it.
  1. Know that there is really no Prince Charming! When you grow up, you will discover that fairy tales are simply just that: the stuff of make-believe. And boys, in general, are just as rough-and-tumble as anything. They are nothing like the princes of fairy tale books–gallant, chivalrous, and perfect. They are prone to self-doubt and temper-tantrums as any little girl. They are not always invincible and brave as they make themselves out to be. They cry, too. Only that they won’t show it. But be warned: there are boys who will use their tears to get what they want.  Be wary of those people. Nevertheless, respect them as your equal.
  1. It’s the quality of your friendship that counts and not the number of likes on Facebook.  lettertothea1It’s sad that many people find validation from the number of acquaintances in their friends list or in the number of comments and likes on their social media wall. But genuine friendship cannot be measured by the stats that appear on your posts. Rather, it is defined by the conversations that take place in private; the warm hugs; the kind words; the arguments; and the apologies that are not publicized on your FB account.
  1. Be your own hero. Not everyone you rely on can be depended on all the time. Sometimes, you will have to face your fears and fix your problems all on your own. Trust your instincts, rely on your skills, depend on your inner strength, and learn to stand up for yourself. Most of all, stick up for other people, too.
  1. Be grateful. “Thank” and “you” are two of the most important words that you will ever say to anyone. Expressing your gratitude for every kind gesture, big or small, can make a world of difference. It makes people feel good to be appreciated by others. It will also make you feel better to know that you’ve made someone’s day by simply being gracious. So, thank your teachers for imparting new knowledge. Thank your friends for staying by your side. Thank your brother for making you laugh. Thank your parents even when they’re mad. Thank a stranger for helping you out with the right directions. And thank God for the simplest things. 

Most of what I’ve written in this letter may sound gibberish to you at the moment, but in time you will understand what I mean. Keep this letter and read it every year on your birthday until it finally make sense to you. I have so much to tell you about life that it would probably take me a couple more pages until I am done. So let me reserve the others in my succeeding letters to you that are yet to come. 

I love you, my Alex. Don’t ever doubt that.

Happy 9th birthday!

 Mom

 

What I Want My Children to Know About Gender Equality

When a young woman lambasted a passenger on social media for allegedly refusing to give up his seat for her inside a crowded train, the post immediately went viral and elicited negative reactions from netizens.  When I came across that post, there were three things that became apparent to me:

  1. The lady was no feminist.
  2. She must have been living in another time.
  3. Her sense of entitlement and her perceived injustice for that matter were simply out of place in this day and age of advanced technology and equality.

Gender equality is an important social, political and economic issue that had been tackled over and over throughout the ages. Women for many generations had fought to be heard, educated and recognized not just for certain abilities but for their limitless potentials in the workplace. And to this day, women continue to stand up for many more rights.

So, to hear a woman whine about chivalry being dead, considering the hard work that went into attaining the freedom majority of women enjoy today, is just out and out disappointing.

As a mother to an eight-year-old girl and a five-year-old boy; the topic of gender equality certainly holds a special place in my heart.  Though admittedly I am no subject matter expert on the issues of equality and feminism, there are still a lot that I want to teach my children about respect and equality between boys and girls.

Here are the following fundamentals of gender equality that I want my children to know this early on in their lives…

One thing Gender Equality definitely is about is that it is everything that IT IS NOT:

  • It is not about girls versus boys.
  • It is not about women being the better sex, or about men being the stronger ones.
  • It is not about having to carry out a set of behaviors as prescribed by society.

Gender equality is basically about fairness and respect. It can’t get any simpler than that.

  • Equal rights. Equal opportunities.  Equal responsibilities for all.
  • It is essentially the freedom to be who you want to be–living up to your full potential by not being boxed into stereotypes. You define who you are. No one else.
  • It is about being aware of your true value as a human being–having self-respect and knowing what your rights are as a law-abiding citizen.
  • And to women, it is about respecting men, too.  Boys are just as susceptible to emotional frailty and physical limitation as girls that they deserve to be respected for their needs, as well.

Gender Equality

 

How to Overcome Writer’s Block from A to Z

It’s been a while since my last blog post.  And flexing my writing muscle to break that four-month writing drought certainly feels a lot like learning to walk again after coming out of a coma.

Indeed, kick-starting creativity when you’ve been out of the blogging practice for quite a bit can be distressing.  But there is always a way around that difficulty and I could think of several strategies to get any writer’s blood circulating again.

Now, realizing that the best remedy to a writer’s block is to actually write about it, I have decided to come up with my own A to Z compilation of how to get out of that horrible writing rut.

So how do you get the right words coming your way?  Here are the ABCs:

writer'sblock

A is for Archive

Archive all your works (published or not) for your future reference.  Previous blog posts and long-forgotten drafts are your life buoy and best friend in the direst situation.

B is for keep Busy

Pre-occupy yourself with different activities.  Whether it’s creative stuff or the most mundane thing, being productive keeps your blood flowing.  Your mind follows sooner or later.

C is for Classical Music

Soft, mellow music not only quiets your body and soul.  It also keeps your mind relaxed and open for new ideas.

D is for Discussions

Sometimes the best materials are found in the most meaningful conversation.  Exchanging ideas with friends (including small talks with acquaintances and strangers) can produce some really substantial points for further discussion on paper.  If your mind continues to produce a blank page, why don’t you call and visit a friend for some good catching up?

E is for Experience

Since Life is the best teacher, the most significant lessons are usually drawn from personal experience. So the next time you are at a loss for anything substantial to write about, count on a recent event to back you up with some exciting topics, or travel back in time for some inspiration.

F is for Freewriting

The most effective way to kick procrastination in the butt is to simply keep going.  Keep tapping away until your freewriting lead you somewhere.  Our brilliance starts to manifest usually after a couple of awkward sentences or several rewrites later.

G is for Google

Utilize the internet for rad ideas. The World Wide Web is rich with writing materials and story ideas. Google for writing prompts and blogging topics.  If you already have a topic that you wish to write about but don’t know how to go about it just yet, google for similar articles to kick-start your creativity.

H is for Hypothetical

Begin your posts with a hypothetical question.  I bet many of the most uniquely interesting stories we’ve read and seen are those that started off as what-ifs.

I is for Imagination

Use your imagination.  Create another world.  Invent something. Predict the future.

J is for Juxtaposition

Look at the world at different angles and find a spot where the old meets the new or where North and South collide.

Compare and contrast.

K is for Kindness

Don’t push yourself too hard.  Give yourself a break from time to time.  You deserve the occasional reprieve from hard work with a trip to the ice-cream parlor or local book sale, vent-out session at the coffee shop with like-minded friends, or fright night at the movies.  Maybe a good scare could get that writing blood pumping again.

L is for List

When in doubt, compile ideas.  You cannot go wrong with lists.  You can do a lot of things with it like:

  1. Write a bucket list.
  2. List the top 10 things you love/hate about blogging.
  3. List the top 10 or 100 places to visit in the world.
  4. List different ways to bust boredom on a rainy day.
  5. List breakup lines.
  6. List pick-up lines.
  7. List the stupidest things you’ve ever heard.
  8. List your many firsts.

And the list goes on.

M is for Memory Lane

If you’re feeling a little sentimental then write a #throwback article about high school, your childhood, or your early years in an exotic far-flung place.

N is for Notebook

Always keep a notebook handy because inspiration can strike at any time anywhere.

O is for Open Letter

Write an open letter to a friend, a lover, a politician, future husband, your children, or yourself 10 years down the line.

P is for Photograph

They say a picture can speak a thousand words; so cut out an image from a magazine, pick out an old photofrom the family photo album, take snapshots of people in action and write about them.-This simple classroom writing activity should get your creative juices flowing in no time.

Q is for Quotes

One way to begin a great article is to introduce it with a quote.  Whether it’s inspirational or motivational in its purpose, a quote from a person of historical impkrtance never fails to set a tone of greatness to any story.

R is for Rant

If all else fails, vent your frustrations.

Rant about the terrible traffic jam.  Rant about your boss (and make sure he never gets to read your post.)  Rant about your in-laws (and make sure that they never get to read about it).  Rant about how unfair society is.

Rant about life.

S is for Street Signs

Think out of the box. Go out and take a stroll around your neighborhood. Source the streets for possible stories. Take note of street signs and use them as your writing prompt, if not, make it your central topic.  Search for funny billboards.  Make a mountain out of the most mundane.

T is for Title

Think of an interesting title (even if you don’t have a storyline or article in mind).  Work your way from there.  You can draw inspiration from street signs, too.

U is for Update

Update yourself with the new.  Broaden your horizon.  Travel.  Meet people.  Keep up to date with current events.  Read about the world.  Read the latest bestselling novel.  Be in the know.

Having stock knowledge is always handy in writing emergencies.

V is for Visualize

Picture the story in your head.  Visualize how you want the article to be.  Select pictures and drawings to inspire you.  Then write.

W is for Write about Writing

Write about writing itself—your challenges and how you overcame it.It is better to deal with writer’s block by simply writing about it than not to write anything at all.

X is for eXtreme

From time to time,try to write out of your comfort zone.  Being stuck for ideas may be a sign that it’s high time you blog about something you’re afraid to voice out your opinion on. Like politics.

Success often results from doing something that scares you most.

Y is for Young Children

If you’re a parent, this shouldn’t be so hard to do.  Children make a fantastic topic.

You can write about the darndest things children say; how kids have a knack for putting adults on the spot; or rant/rave about their antics that can drive you mad or make you glad.  Better yet, allow yourself to get in touch with your inner child and write something for the younger generation.

Z is for Zeal

Don’t let stumbling blocks and other challenges douse your enthusiasm for writing. Keep the passion burning by believing in yourself.

 

 

 

 

Messages for the Soul

My social media account is saturated with all sorts of life hacks and inspirational quotes about attaining success or dealing with everyday anxieties. And every time my sanity needs salvaging, these motivating words of wisdom have a funny way of popping up all over my cybersphere with answers to unspoken questions, like esoteric road signs from God along this rough and winding highway called Life.

lemonades and tequila

It isn’t easy being a mother.

Often I am besieged with frustrations and nagging self-doubt as a parent that I’d forget the very reason I chose this path in the first place.  Then just when I’ve convinced myself how terrible and uninspiring and messy life has become, an inspired mommy friend would up and post this on her wall as if to remind me over again what a beautiful blessing motherhood is.

Motherhood

It’s a great pick-me-up for any parent going through a bad day.

Sometimes what a stressed-out mom needs is a dose of humor to dispel that overwhelming sense of inadequacy or feeling of being unappreciated despite all her pain and efforts.

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It’s just eerie how the universe has a way of agreeing or sympathizing with me every time I’m feeling down and persecuted.  On .such days, I would stumble across posts that any hapless individual on the receiving end of vicious gossips would simply love to fling at their critics’ faces.

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I admit I am given to occasional spells of self-pity that seeking refuge in the consoling arms of misery is a lot more enticing than standing up against a battalion of haters.  However, people know only too well that this–wallowing in defeat while your enemies gloat in their victory–is a total waste of time.  Even the late and great Elizabeth Taylor would’ve gladly slapped some sense into me, if she could, just to get me to deal with the matter at hand.

Pouryourselfadrink

However, where there’s no drink strong enough to knock some gumption into me or lipstick red enough to bring me back to life from zombie mode, a no-show at some dreaded event is always an option.  But of course, there will always be someone who, as if somehow reading my thoughts, would contradict this notion by sharing this well-meaning no-nonsense advice on her wall.

nevergiveup

Speaking of never giving up, these words of wisdom from Martin Luther King, Jr. never fail to motivate me in the aftermath of a major crisis. .

keepmoving

And indeed, unfaltering determination is key to achieving any goal as grit is the secret super power of the truly successful.

tryingharder

But getting back up on your feet after careering off track and splat into the mire of shame isn’t always what it’s apt to be.  It’s an excruciating process that often requires a helping hand or two and some encouraging words from people who love you most.  Every time I see this post on my profile wall or news feed, I am immediately reminded of a friend’s comforting arms and gentle reassurance of what really matters most.

how we rise

 

In this fast-paced day and age of advance internet technology, it is easy to get caught up in the latest trends or to be overcome by the pressure of social media.  Like everyone else, I am plagued by anxiety and other paralyzing self-deprecating thoughts about my ability because of this.  It’s akin to being lost in the woods, and a motivational quote on your news feed when you need it the most is like a headlight of hope in a dark abandoned highway.

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Also, stumbling across a quote that is just spot on (and funnily so) is like discovering a dime in the dirt when you’re feeling blah and stuck in a rut.  And so far, this motivational quote below is the best advice I’ve come across  in social media.

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The Pitfalls of Being Too Emotional on Facebook

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When you choose to bare your soul in a place as public as social media, you are setting yourself up for criticism.

As I scroll down my Facebook memory lane, all seven years of it, I can’t help but cringe at some of the posts–emotional rants, cheesy love notes, quotes with undercurrents of bitterness, and a host of other regretful outbursts that had dotted my wall like angry gunshot holes. It had felt good to write about them at that time. Now that I’m looking at them from the third person angle for the first time, I feel utterly ridiculous.

Regret is a terrible thing. As feelings are ever-changing, what you feel strongly about today may not always ring true a week after. For that very reason, I am turning a new leaf. And, here are just some of the things that had gotten me thinking thrice lately before clicking that “post” button.

Gossipmongers’ Delight

I’ve had my fill of the juicy inside news on who got dumped, who cheated, who is warring with which relative, and the lot. But, I’ve also made my fair share of the headlines in the social media news feed given my flair for the melodramatics. I could imagine former colleagues, old high school friends, and relatives feasting over the morsels of information I’ve unwittingly fed them at the climax of emotions. Like everyone else, I do care about what people say or think of me from time to time. I mean I know how it is to take part in round table lunchtime discussions on so-and-so’s post about her terrible breakup and oohed and ahhed over the controversial Facebook war some Ed started with Jed. Whether you like it or not, what you choose to write or post on your wall can automatically become hot topic for some serious gossip marathon.

SocialMedia2
What you choose to write or post on your wall can automatically become hot topic for some serious gossip marathon.

Target for Ridicule

When you choose to bare your soul in a place as public as social media, you are setting yourself up for criticism. Many people stalk to find fault in others–I think that’s a given. I have seen friends snicker at some online displays of affection which they thought spared nothing to the imagination and rolled their eyes at posts that were, by their standards, tacky and over-the-top.  If wearing your heart on your sleeve can place you at a vulnerable spot with gossipmongers, volunteering too much information not only places you in danger of giving psychopath stalkers the lead on your whereabouts but also puts you on the receiving end of ridicule and more nit-picking.

Damaging Friendships

It always feels liberating to unload all those pent-up emotions on some virtual wall which I believe is a lot like relieving yourself at the johns or the little girls room. However, letting it all out online can do more damage as far as relationships are concerned.

Let me put it this way.

Do you know that feeling when you read about yourself on someone else’s post? Your name may not be there, but you recognize yourself nonetheless in the description that is reminiscent of a recent event involving you. As a result, you resent the person who posted it for all to see. You either confront this person or distance yourself all together, opting to cut your ties with him or her as quietly as possible. Ranting about a friend to cleanse your otherwise negatively clogged up system may provide temporary relief in the present but does nothing to resolve the issue that started it all.

The pictures you post and the things you say on your Facebook wall will always be a reflection of who you are, even though they are just tiny representations of a whole mass of things in the real world. It affects your readers to a certain extent, but its effects on your reputation and friendships maybe permanent.