It takes a village…a look back at 2019.

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As the year comes to a close, I realize that 2019 has been a year of contradictions….full of ups and downs, a few tears from broken hearts but quickly replaced by an inner strength, and old friends lost but replaced by newfound friends.

However, through it all, I realize that it takes a village to get us through difficult times as well as share the laughter and good tidings during good times.

One recent example was when Olivia’s heart was broken one December day.  As she stood on our driveway, numb, dazed, blindsided, and not knowing what to do next, our neighbor from across our house came to the rescue. Peter and I were out shopping when we got a text from Oliva that “Aunt Mo” came and she made her soup, gave lots of hugs and stories about teenage boys not mature enough, and told her that she should not take high school boyfriends so seriously; the world is her oyster–there are so many more adventures waiting for her! Aunt Mo and Uncle Ray have been our neighbors for as long as I can remember and they might as well be family.  Broken heart restored and moving on…

Another recent example is when Olivia had a panic attack at school and her best friend Carol, Olivia’s math teacher Mrs. I  and her guidance counselor Mrs. D. took charge and made sure that Olivia felt safe and grounded during such a scary incident.  To this day, Olivia’s teachers check up on Olivia…I know because I am included in the check-in emails they send her. I also know that her friends like Kathryn and Khalid keep her focused and constantly remind her to keep it real…

As for me, I recently went back to my hometown in the Philippines.  I have not been back for almost 35 years and it was just because of Olivia wanting to “find our Filipino roots” that we went.  I left the Philippines when I was in my teens and I really never expected to come back since there are so many more other places in the world to visit!!  However, I was glad I came back as I got to meet up with my former classmates who still lived there and I was regaled with stories about how my nose was always buried in a book and somehow missed all the shenanigans they got into! My long lost friends were so warm and kind and actually took the time to meet with me and point out our old haunts…I had forgotten how warm and kind my Filipino culture is!  I will be back for another visit, I’m sure.

I’ve always tried to do everything on my own.  In honest truth, I like doing things on my own; I like being in control and not have to rely on anyone.  However, this year taught me that being part of a village is what makes life so much more interesting and more fulfilling.

As I read my 2018 post Happy New Year!, I realize that 2019 was even more wondrous as it made me realize that I am blessed to be part of an incredible group of people who has my back and look out for me even when I least expect it.  Thank you to everyone who made my 2019 the most awesome year ever (you know who you are)!

I hope you had a wonderful 2019 as well and looking forward to 2020!

Happy new year, everyone!

Love always.

Debbie.

“Rage, rage against the dying of the light…”

Elderly-Hands

She is almost 100 years old.

Everyone just assumed she would live forever so it gave everyone quite a scare when she was rushed to the hospital due to a collapsed lung and the doctor said they she doesn’t have long to live.  The priest was immediately called to give her her last rights and there was even a heated discussion about what she was going to wear in her own funeral.

That was a week ago.

As I visited her in the hospital, I came face to face on how old she had become since I last saw her, which was few years ago.  I would have wanted to visit her sooner but her children and I had a falling out after harsh words were uttered. As you may recall, I take grudges to a whole new level. (See my previous blog about my relationship with grudges Holding on…). But, I digress.

She seemed so fragile and so very frail…yet somehow, she had the energy to watch one of the Batman movies “The Dark Knight” on her grandson’s iPad.  She was sitting up and other than a nose breathing tube on her nose, she looked to be in good spirits.  Definitely a far cry from the pictures I received a week ago.

She reminded me of a poem “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night” by Dylan Thomas:

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light

She also made me rethink about what I should be doing NOW so that in the event that it is my turn, no one will put me in a pink froufrou frilly frock from the 1960’s.

So, this is what I came up with:

  1.  Have a plan:

    ..and no, I am not just talking about a will.  Honestly, what good is a will if no one really follows it?  I’ve heard of stories where the will stipulated that the family home be sold.  Yet, somehow, it took years of bickering among siblings to finally follow through and honestly, I really didn’t think all the bad blood was worth it.  People just had to grow up and face reality that you can’t live in the basement of your parent’s house all your life, that’s all.

    What I am talking about is actually having a plan and having someone you can trust who will carry out your last wishes.  It may be a family member or a close family friend.  I remember when my father died, I was about 10 years old.  I don’t recall that he had a will.  What he did get was our trusted neighbour to video tape him so that there was no confusion on what he wanted when he passed away.  In his own words, he outlined what he wanted.  And he entrusted loyal friends to make sure that our family was taken care of.  Of course, you have to bear in mind that this happened in the Philippines in the early 1980’s when the country was in turmoil under the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos and papers (especially wills!) and lawyers tend to disappear conveniently.  But, again, I digress–but you get the gist.

    2.  Take care of yourself

…and no, I am not really talking about getting a massage and a manicure while you are at it.  Well, on second thought, maybe a massage once in a while.  What I am alluding to is to actually take care of your body inside and out.  I read about this 105 year old from Norwich, England who does yoga and drives a Mini.  Perhaps she has good genetics but the fact that she keeps fit, eats reasonably sensibly, and drinks a glass of wine (or two) a day, but I would certainly want to try to look as good as her when I reach my nineties!  Google her…her name is Eileen Ash.

3.  Be there for your loved ones

I think this is the easiest one to do.  I recently heard about a young mother who had a brain aneurysm and never woke up.  She left two young children and a grieving husband who just could not accept such a tragedy.  So, kiss and hug your loved ones everyday–you never know what can happen in an instant.

4.  Finally, just put things in perspective

This is one lesson that my daughter Olivia has taught me.  There would be times when I would be stressed out at work or juggling several things at one time.  Of course, I would not be the nicest person to be around. She always seemed to have a knack of figuring out what is bothering me.  And one day, she asked “Mom, if you died tomorrow, would this issue even matter?”

Silence. I’m speechless.

So, really, put things into perspective when things don’t go your way.  In the grand scheme of things, what was bothering you may not really be that important.  All this would result to less stress, better outlook, and longer life…win-win.

So, there you have it, my plans to live a longer and you bet I will “rage, rage, against the dying of the light…”

How about you?

Have a good rest of the week, everyone!

Debbie

P.S. If you’re reading this, thank you so much for supporting my blog! Much love.

Yes, I Remember….

I remember when my family was still living in the Philippines, I used to run and dance in the rain…with not a care in the world. The kids in our street always came out and played tag when it was pouring out. Running around with squishy shoes added just the right balance of chuckles and moans of disgust! I also remember when I used to just stand outside under one of the banana trees that my father planted around our house and listen to the raindrops as it hit the leaves and fell to the ground.

Nowadays, my days are so filled with hurrying around, catching the train, getting in and out of cars, sitting behind glass walls…that I haven’t really thought about how it feels to be outside in the rain. I think the last time I was outside in the rain was when I was training for a marathon and I got caught in the rain during a Sunday long run. That was 10 years ago. I remember thinking “I hope it doesn’t stop raining…”

Yes, I remember that I used to be just like that girl in the picture…and yes, she is still somewhere inside…

Let it rain.

 

Debbie.

5 uses of Coconut Oil that I can vouch for….

I have been around coconut trees ever since I could remember. In fact, when I was growing up in one of the seaside towns in the Philippines, we had coconut trees in our backyard, and my father used to tell me that he planted the trees to remind him of the coconut trees in his backyard when he was growing up. I also remember visiting a Filipino folk healer or “albolario” as my mother used to call her, when my brother fell out of a guava tree and broke his wrist. The Albolario smelled of coconut oil and herbs and I recall my mother telling me that the witch doctor was over a hundred years old. It was only when my family moved to Canada 30 years ago, that I lost sight of the sea, coconut trees, and mystic healers who lived in tree houses….

However, with my re-evaluation of what healthy living means for me, I have gone back to basics…to a basic ingredient that I had taken for granted all those years in the Philippines. In my research, I have been pleasantly surprised how coconut oil is now considered a miracle cure for almost everything! So, in the past few months, I have slowly started to integrate coconut oil into my diet and health. I am still experimenting on some seemingly outlandish claims (including those that say that coconut oil helps in weight loss!) but for now, there are 5 things about coconut oil that I can totally vouch for!

1. Creamer in your morning java

I normally take my coffee black but recently, I started adding a little bit of coconut oil for an added energy boost in the morning. It contains medium chain tryglicerides (MCT) which are fatty acids that are metabolized differently and it goes directly from the digestive track to the liver for a quick source of energy. I know what you must be thinking…who really wants to see a floating oil slick in your morning coffee?  But don’t give up on it too easily. I found that just a little bit (say, 1/8th of a teaspoon or even less to begin with…not the teaspoon that most websites seem to say!) is enough to give me that extra boost in the morning.

2. Popping popcorn

Olivia and I just started staying in and watching movies on Netflix instead of going out to the movie theatre. It is way cheaper for one, and we can pause the movie whenever we want. So what is a movie without popcorn? We have been trying to move away from microwave popcorn (Sorry, Mr. Orville Redenbacher! ) and just pop our own popcorn the old fashioned way.

To pop popcorn over the stovetop, put coconut oil and popcorn in a pot.  Again, don’t go overboard…1/4 teaspoon or less for 1/3 cup of popcorn always seemed to work for us.  Put the lid on, turn the stove to medium and give the pot a little shake to coat the popcorn as the oil melts. Leave a little sliver to let the steam escape. Wait for the popping extravaganza and give the pot a few more shakes. Once you hear the popping slow down, turn the stove off. The last few kernels may still pop so give it a minute.

Enjoy.

3.  Acne

Who could ever forget the teenage years when out of the blue, you get that really annoying zit that never seems to go away!  Well, now, when I see one coming up, I put a dab of coconut oil on it and in a day or two, it’s gone. That’s likely because coconut oil has anti-inflammatory properties that helps the healing process and it contains lauric acid that helps to kill bacteria that causes acne. Try it and see if it works for you as well.

4.  Oil pulling

I’m going to be honest with you, this one is going to take a while to get used to. Oil pulling has been around for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine and just involves swishing a tablespoon of coconut oil in your mouth for 10 to 20 minutes. This has to be done first thing in the morning before you do anything.  Take a tablespoon of coconut oil, put it on the side of your mouth to let it melt, and once melted, start swishing around your mouth. It you think you are going to start gagging, pause and then start again. If you need to, spit it out and get a new tablespoon of coconut oil. Once you are done swishing, spit it out in the garbage, not down the drain. It will clog your drains over time.

I have been doing this for a month now and while I don’t see a difference with how white my teeth are (apparently, coconut oil whitens your teeth too…but I can’t vouch for that. I can’t see a difference with my teeth), I do feel the difference in terms of my sensitivity to hot or cold liquids.

I still plan to go to the dentist though for normal cleaning and checkups but I’m definitely continuing to do oil pulling everyday. Who knows, maybe my teeth will get whiter over time…

5.  Hair care and dandruff

Have you ever seen those commercials of pretty Tahitian women with long flowing dark hair?  Well, I’m thinking they use coconut oil in their hair!  I can totally vouch for putting coconut oil on my hair, leave it for an hour and then wash it off with my normal shampoo and conditioner. Sometimes, I would put peppermint oil and tea tree oils with it and it smells wonderful. I find that when I do that at least once a week, my hair is soft and silky and I don’t ever  have dandruff.

Also, when I colour my hair to cover my grays and the whole house smells like chemicals (I know, I have to find a better way to cover my gray), I use a blend of coconut oil and rosemary after I wash the colour off and leave it for half an hour. By doing so, I never get that itchy allergic reaction and my hair smells wonderful.

I have read that if you use coconut oil with lemon and put it on your hair, it helps with blending your grays….hmmm, maybe I will try that next time.

The coconut oil I use is the organic virgin coconut oil kind. The less refined, the better.

So there you have it, 5 uses of coconut oil that I can totally vouch for.

Try it out and let me know if you agree!

Debbie.