Friday, July 11, 2014

The Health Saga

"The secret of staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly, and lie about your age." - Lucille Ball
People have been asking me how come I'm proudly embracing the fact that I'm turning 40 this year. I have blogged about it. I have contemplated putting up a talent show for my gifted friends of the same age. I even organized a joint birthday party for my high school batch entitled "40 is the New Sexy." We rocked that videoke jeans party like the silly teenagers we once were.

Photo credit:

Well, if you can't beat turning 40, I said you might as well celebrate it. And I embraced this even as early as March last year, when I resigned from my job and left the country to take stock of life and regain my bearings. Upon my return since March of this year, however, everything I had left behind and even some more matters that I had encountered the past year required my attention.  In full, crashing force.

My health was the first to announce its agenda. Since being cured of astigmatism in high school, I had to start wearing eyeglasses again last March. So first doctor, ophthalmologist. I finally got to use the cool eyewear frame that my sister sent me from the States. I embraced this change Ella-style, certainly fashion-forward and with a lot of selfies.

Then, I set a swimming date with my nephews at their family condo's pool. When I got there I was having the headache of a lifetime and my brother discovered that my blood pressure was off the charts. I did not get to swim, to the dismay of my nephews, even as I had every intention to exercise. Instead, I had to lie down, rest (a strange word) and pray for the energy to drive back home. Being asymptomatic, I did not know that I was hypertensive. Or probably I knew but was ignoring it. Or perhaps it was the plateful of crab fat (yummy aligue) that I had for lunch the Sunday before. I am sad to report that I have not eaten crab since then. So the second doctor that I was sent to was an internist. He took my BP from my left arm, shook his head, and took it from my right arm as well.  He then prescribed maintenance medications for hypertension and instructed me to go through a battery of tests just to check my overall health.

The week after, armed with my test results and a bad cough, I returned to the internist. He prescribed cough medicines and then told me I had to see a hematologist because I was anemic. I asked if he could just make his own conclusions because I did not want to go to another doctor (wishful thinking, in hindsight). He simply said that it was important that I see a hematologist. He recommended one from the same hospital. I returned the next day following the doctor's schedule given by the hospital guards, but alas, said hematologist was out of the country. I called up another hospital, and all of my friends who were related to doctors, for another referral. At this point the fact that I had no medical insurance coverage was sinking in.

I received two referrals, one for a male hematologist, and another for a female one. I went to the one who held clinic on a Saturday, as my family was beginning to worry. In the process, I missed my high school barkada outing to Las Casas de Acuzar, a place I had long wanted to visit. So I was really sulking inside by the time I got to the doctor's clinic. When he saw my blood test results, he said in other cases he would already recommend transfusion. That scared me. He wanted me to go through a whole lot of tests to determine the cause of my anemia. I found myself complaining at the discomfort level of those prescribed tests. I obeyed him on some tests but not for the others. I had to miss a family outing for that. Summer came and left without me seeing the ocean. More sulking.

In the meantime, my blood pressure continued to be high, despite the medication. I was constantly feeling tired and even bordered on depression. I had, at the same time, job interviews, as my career was in need of a makeover. In fact my agenda upon returning from Australia was just that - find a job. My body disagreed with me. Listening to my body, I wanted a second opinion on my anemia and went to the other specialist, the female hematologist. I waited outside her clinic for hours in the intense summer heat. By the time she was able to see me, she took my BP and we both got shocked because it was at 176/111. Regarding my anemia, she recommended two more tests, but she was pretty certain that it was not serious. I texted my family that I was going to rest at a nearby Starbucks before driving home. Unknown to me, my brother consulted his cardiologist and learned that I was at risk for stroke. When I got home, he was waiting for me and told me I needed to see a cardiologist.

I had lost count by this time of the hospitals, clinics, and doctors I had been to. All I knew was that I had to see another specialist. I talked to my father and asked him to set an appointment with his cardiologist. I had no job, and mounting medical bills. Thank God for the support of family.

The cardiologist is a brilliant doctor who explained everything and encouraged me to take care of my health more seriously. He was the one who synthesized all that was possibly happening to me. He had the best bedside manner, and I wanted to hug him. (I have previously been known to hug a specialist, my Dr. House, who diagnosed me of an ailment I was suffering from since birth, which was the precursor to this saga.) He adjusted my medication and prescribed the proper heart rate for when I am exercising and when I am at rest. He also ordered more tests, as I had unexplained bleeding. He also asked me to see an obstetrician-gynecologist, and he happened to know of a good one, his wife, whose clinic was just next door. After weeks of queuing up at doctor's offices, I was really happy to be the first patient of the OB-GYN. She ordered more ultrasound tests.

I completely detached from job hunting as it was too much to handle. I just sent my resume whenever a friend referred me to an opening, but did not anymore stress over it. I accepted a project but had to resign because I was neither fit nor ready to work. I then watched my diet and took up zumba classes on top of my regular walking. I also went with my parents to the mall week after week to watch movies and enjoy my unplanned vacation.

The tests had to be timed and one by one, I was cleared. My friend, a radiologist, did an ultrasound test of my liver, kidney, and bladder and did not note anything unusual. Then a harrowing experience with an OB sonologist yielded news that there was some improvement in my ovaries since my last ultrasound. My iron levels and this thing called electrophoresis were the last scheduled tests before I returned to the hematologist. I got the results last Friday and the other day, returned to the hematologist. She confirmed that my anemia was not causing the hypertension, and that I had something that 1/3 of Filipinos suffered from, alpha thalassemia trait (yes, I love talking medical now, after reading and watching "The Fault in Our Stars"). She even took me off medication.

I was so happy after that last consultation but could not help thinking, what was that all about? Why did I have a grand hospital tour since March? Why did I have to go through so many tests? My parents said that they were thankful that nothing was seriously wrong with me physically, that I did not need to go through surgery. At least when I start my new job and my new life as a 40-year old woman, I could embrace a healthier me.

I still have to go back to the cardiologist and report all these, plus my exercise activities. I will do it after this week of job applications, which thankfully kept moving even without my deliberate attention, and after my short break to try the simple life in the province.

I have also been in touch with my spiritual director, the best doctor of all, who as a psychologist can manage my intellectual and mental state, and as a priest is able to check my emotional and spiritual balance. He is the one who invited me to look at the blessings of turning 40, of knowing myself better and being stronger after so many trials. (After reading this, he mentioned that he was also going through his post-turning-40-transition. He is really the perfect companion for this journey, and I am sad that he is leaving the Philippines soon for further studies. The lessons I have learned from him were timely, bordering on perfect.)

It has been a tough journey, and in fact I am still dealing with a lot of backlog, but I am now able to celebrate more the gift of life. The other day, as I was eating strawberry ice cream with some friends, which was a favorite but something I had had to give up for health reasons, I felt happy. I knew who were with me in sickness and in health. More than the doctors, my family and friends have been a great source of strength and courage.

I look forward to the next chapter of life, which is coming very soon. I put all my trust in God, who has been with me, and who has gone there before me.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Spectacular Crepuscular Rays

There was one significant moment in my not-so-distant past when I was struck by something so beautiful but I was too dumbfounded, and cranky, to fully appreciate it.

This is not an actual shot of the moment, but it is the closest I have found so far:

Crepuscular Rays Over the Sea, not my image.

Back then, I did not know what it was called. I did not have the words to describe it.

I could not capture the spectacular view with my camera either for I was inside a moving vehicle, and it was very early in the morning. I had not even had coffee yet. And I was under the worst mood in the world. There was a heaviness in my heart, and then this breathtaking sight was pointed out to me. Like a sign from God, I was told.

Now, months later, just because I am wearing brand-new reading glasses,  I get to use a scientific, four-syllable word in this blog: "crepuscular." I did some research about what I witnessed that unforgettable morning and found out that what I saw were crepuscular rays of the sun, which are "columns of sunlit air streaming through gaps in clouds... [creating] stunning displays of light and shadow." (See 20 Incredible Crepuscular Rays) They are like heavenly spotlights, or angelic steps.

That unforgettable morning, the stunning sun rays seemed to pierce through the clouds and bathe the ocean as we were driving by, and I did not want to blink so as not to miss anything. I closed my eyes only after the view was out of sight and imprinted the image in my heart.

At that particular moment, I really needed to hear from God for I was making huge life decisions. I found that it was hard to listen when my own heart was confused. In hindsight, I ask, what other sign could I have needed?

I could have read into the sign based on my situation at the time. I could have heard what I wanted to hear, and this could not have been the entire truth. I could have been wrong about some aspects of those decisions I had to make.

But I could not have been wrong about the beauty of the crepuscular rays, which I witnessed from a part of earth I was not sure I would ever see again, at the most perfect, opportune time. All the things that had happened immediately before and after that could fade and be forgotten, but the exact moment that the sun, the clouds, and the sea formed an image that showed me a way to the heaven in my heart would forever be one of the most majestic moments of my life.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Reentry, Gathering, and My Chance for a Do-Over

Reentry, defined.

  1. a retaking possession; especially :  entry by a lessor on leased premises on the tenant's failure to perform the conditions of the lease
  2. a second or new entry
  3. a playing card that will enable a player to regain the lead
  4. the action of reentering the earth's atmosphere after travel in space
Reenter, defined.

  1. to go into (a place you have left) again
  2. to go back into (a game that you were participating in earlier)
  3. to type in (words, data, etc.) again on a computer

Words: Johnny Go, SJ
Music: Ginny Pantig

Gather me; every scattered sheep in me.
I'd rather be waiting here for Your voice.
I've seen the life outdoors,
I think it's time to make a choice.
There's no other course - only Yours.

Shelter me; every shattered self in me.
Better be waiting here for Your touch.
I've been out there in the rain,
I've hurt myself far too much.
Come and ease my pain again.

Such a weary world
All its ways gone wild
Save this child from the storm
I've been tossed, I've been lost, I've been broken
All my wounded days
All the bitter tears
I have shed for all these years
But You were there all my life
Gather me, shelter me
Safe in Your arms

So please gather me;
the scattered laughter in me
Only You can make me whole.
Come and ease my battered soul.
Shepherd me -
Come and lead me home to You.

I prepared for my coming home by  bracing myself for the worst. I convinced myself that my happy days had ended and I was going to face a life of work and sacrifice again. I did not know if I could drive or find a job or reconnect with old friends. I know, how optimistic, right.

Well, the Lord has proven me wrong immediately, for aside from the warm welcome from my best friends, I also got an invitation to go on a retreat/holiday to Baguio City, the country's summer capital. I realized immediately that I had limited God again. Of course He was waiting for me in the Philippines, to be with me and to "gather me, all the scattered sheep in me."  I spent last weekend in a spacious hotel with sprawling grounds covered in pine trees, where I had uninterrupted time of prayer. The unplanned aspects of the trip included a visit to the BenCab museum, a return to Cafe by the Ruins, and a respite at the lobby of The Manor. At the end of that retreat, I readily admitted that I had the same God taking care of me here as the One who supplied for all my needs in Australia.

View from the cafe at BenCab Museum in Baguio

So when I visited my spiritual director, I shared about my experiences going back - the job interviews, the time spent with family, the friends who have welcomed me, and the God whom I had known more intimately. He introduced a word to me that captured the experience: reentry. He said that I had a wonderful chance to "do-over" everything, and I seemed to be on the right track.

"Do-over" is defined as an "opportunity to try or perform something a second time."

I am grateful for while I reenter this place I have left, and after all my travels, I am faced with good opportunities. 

People who leave correctional or prison facilities are given reentry programs "designed to assist incarcerated individuals with a successful transition to their community after they are released" (US Office of National Drug Control Policy). The Obama Administration’s National Drug Control Strategy supports comprehensive change within the criminal justice system, promoting a combined public health/public safety approach to stop the cycle of arrest, incarceration, release, and re-arrest.

Space shuttle re-entry is more complex and is done in stages, as explained in "The Physics of Space Shuttle Re-Entry."

The Fundamental Problem in Re-Entry

The phase of a spaceflight during which the craft leaves earth orbit and descends through the upper atmosphere is generally known as 're-entry'. In order to be in stable earth orbit in the first place, the craft must have attained and maintained a critical velocity. This orbital velocity is nearly 30 times the speed of sound - around a little under 8 kilometres per second. If the craft moves any more slowly than this, it will descend to a lower orbit under the influence of gravity. Because the craft will now encounter atmospheric resistance, it will lose energy and fall to earth.

In order to make a safe landing, a returning spacecraft has to lose nearly all of that orbital speed. The operation is basically a reversal of the launch phase, and this means that the returning craft must sink as much kinetic energy as the propulsion systems generated between lift-off and orbit. Theoretically speaking, there are four fundamentally different methods of doing this:

Powered Deceleration
Energy Exchange
Mass Shedding
Energy Dissipation
I could obviously talk more about restorative justice than orbital velocity, but I would leave both topics for now and just think about how to manage my own reentry into this place I have left behind, in order to make a safe landing. Surprisingly, the above discussion on space shuttle re-entry provided me further points of reflection.

If my driving is any indication, I need not have worried. I returned to the streets of Manila and Taguig and even drove as far as Paranaque for a wake, with little adjustment needed. God is good. All shall be well.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Closing the Gap Year

It is March 19, 2014. I could not let the day end without acknowledging its significance.

Aside from it being the feast of St. Joseph, one of my patron saints as I went to a Josephine school, March 19 was the day I left the Philippines last year to take a year off.

I have since returned, less than two weeks ago, from a year of travel. I am back in my parents' house, in the old neighborhood, in my room, and in my life.

I admit I am still taking stock of all that has happened, and getting used to this transition stage. For the difference between Australia and the Philippines is not just on which side of the road people walk and drive. The difference lies in the little things, which I took note of while I was away.

I try not to dwell too much on the people and the places that I miss in Sydney, or to hold on to the charmed life that I led in Canberra, Auckland, Melbourne, and Fiji, among friends and strangers. 

Fiji Sunset
It is good to be back among family and friends here at home, to be surrounded by all that is familiar, and to see them in a different light.

What am I being called to do now? What do I have to offer? What can I give? What can I share?

I am older and quieter, and still looking for my next gig.

I have lost weight but I am the same, essentially. Of course my eyes have seen new things, and my heart has felt different joys and sorrows. I have also regained my voice in words, and rekindled my love for the piano. 

I take advantage of the grace that this season of Lent brings, of my proximity to the parish, and of the presence of the Block Rosary with Our Lady of Fatima at home. It is a call to prayer, this time of change. I need guidance for all the decisions I am making.

There is peace in all these. Peace that does not make sense - because life is uncertain at this point. This probably is my version of the "peace that surpasses all understanding."

I am going on a personal retreat this weekend, and hope to synthesize more the blessings and the lessons from my gap year, so I can face the great world again with confidence.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Gap Year Lookback

Around this time last year, I was running around like a headless chicken trying to meet work deadlines, preparing for a year of travel to four countries, and shutting down life as I knew it, to get ready for the big reboot that was my 40th year.

I was not able to finish everything on my checklist, but I met as much of the people I wanted to say goodbye to as I could. Back then, my friends did not know if I was going back after a year or if I was going to send an email saying I was planting myself on foreign soil for good.

This time, I have a slower pace and more opportunities to ruminate. My social calendar is not overly booked. I have less clothes and shoes to pack. But is it any easier? Who likes goodbyes, please raise their hands? I know I don't. I'm pretty bad at it.

And so I sit with this sadness as part of the process. All good things must come to an end, so this holiday, this vacation, this time with my Sydney family and friends has reached its closing credits.

I am at peace with the decision. I know my future is bright, it is in God's hands, and even now doors and windows are opening for me. If only I could just stop feeling too much.

Yesterday I looked back at what I've written in my two blogs the past year, and came up with this:

1.  I introduced you all to the concept of my Gap Year:

I was going to eat, pray, love, write, travel, cook, babysit, sleep, walk, dream, and write some more.

In terms of travel, I've been to the following wonderful places since then:

Port Stephens, NSW
Sydney CBD
Chatswood, Lane Cove, Willoughby - my neighborhood and neighboring suburbs
Canberra, ACT
Auckland - CBD and Hobbiton in Matamata, NZ
Melbourne, and Flowerdale, Victoria
Hunter Valley, NSW
Fiji Islands 
Bowral, Southern Highlands of NSW
Coogee, Bondi, Sydney
Melbourne, Flowerdale, and the Great Ocean Road, Victoria
Auckland, NZ again – Wenderholm, St. Mary’s Bay, North Shore
Terrigal, Central Coast, NSW

2.  As soon as I got here, however, I expected to write more. I did not.

Writing From Down Under:

3. In May, I realized I was living a good life, but found the concept strange.

At times, I felt displaced, but not discouraged. I also wrote about "Experiencing the Mass in Sydney."

4. In June, I went to Canberra and Auckland, and wrote the following about my travels, posted in July:

 5. In August 2013, I had a fantastic trip to Melbourne, stayed at a beach house and then a farm, and visited good friends. 

6.  September came, and I flew to the Fiji Islands. I also experienced spring for the first time and wrote about it. The creative juices started flowing. I planned my 40th  birthday party for 2014.

7. In October, I hatched a big plan, as an outlet of all my dreams: Defying 40, A Showcase of Talents for my friends

8. In November, I hardly posted anything. I was busy with my niece's birthday party and my parents' arrival.

9. December was the  most eventful month of all. I traveled to Auckland again and Melbourne again!

I accepted who I was, and wrote Next to Normal to welcome the new year:

10.  In January, I finally did a lot of Creative Writing:

I asked,

11.  And in February, I saw how I was Connected to the World:

And I kept writing the two storylines that were born in my heart.

This list in no way summarizes the past year. I may have to read them all in order to document my gap year.

I just went through it to be grateful, and to channel the sadness into productivity.

I have been blessed, and I will be again when I go home. I am counting on that.

Going to Bondi Beach

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Praying for Sick Loved Ones

Today, I am praying for a miracle, for healing for my friend's mom, and for positive CT scan results for another friend's mom. This is making us pray more regularly for our loved ones and is reminding us that our parents need our love and care more each day.

I was grateful to read that in today's Gospel, Jesus healed the blind man. I claim healing for the sick.

Mark 8:22-26

22 When Jesus and his disciples arrived at Bethsaida, people brought to him a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. 23He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. Putting spittle on his eyes he laid his hands on him and asked, “Do you see anything?” 24Looking up the man replied, “I see people looking like trees and walking.” 25Then he laid hands on the man’s eyes a second time and he saw clearly; his sight was restored and he could see everything distinctly. 26 Then he sent him home and said, “Do not even go into the village.”

I claim comfort for those who are afflicted. I claim consolation for those who are grieving. I claim relief for those taking care of others. 

Friends, we'll get through this together. Let's ask for Mama Mary's intercession.

Prayer to Our Lady of Lourdes

Oh ever immaculate Virgin, Mother of Mercy, Health of the Sick, Refuge of Sinners, Comfortess of the Afflicted, you know my wants, my troubles, my sufferings. Look upon me with mercy. When you appeared in the grotto of Lourdes, you made it a privileged sanctuary where you dispense your favors, and where many sufferers have obtained the cure of their infirmities, both spiritual and corporal. I come, therefore, with unbounded confidence to implore your maternal intercession. My loving Mother, obtain my request. I will try to imitate your virtues so that I may one day share your company and bless you in eternity. Amen.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

All the Bread We Need

Mark 8:14-21

14 The disciples had forgotten to bring bread, and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. 15 Jesus enjoined them, “Watch out, guard against the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.”16 They concluded among themselves that it was because they had no bread.17 When he became aware of this he said to them, “Why do you conclude that it is because you have no bread? Do you not yet understand or comprehend? Are your hearts hardened? 18 Do you have eyes and not see, ears and not hear? And do you not remember, 19 when I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many wicker baskets full of fragments you picked up?” They answered him, “Twelve.” 20 “When I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many full baskets of fragments did you pick up?” They answered him, “Seven.” 21 He said to them, “Do you still not understand?”
As I played this scene in my head this morning, I was grateful that Jesus was not just a teacher, but the most patient teacher there ever was. How frustrating it must have been, after demonstrating how five loaves could feed five thousand, or the seven loaves could feed four thousand, that his disciples, the very men who had been walking with him and listening to his teachings firsthand, could still miss the point of his lessons. How he must have shaken his head, that after talking about greater things, his men could still be hung up on the basic needs that he had proven to be already covered through faith and action.

Bread basket at the Green Dragon Inn, New Zealand
In the past, I taught law students about legal writing and research, and much as I loved to pass on my tips and techniques, I got easily frustrated when, even after several exercises and projects, my students still committed the same mistakes during the final exams.

They concluded among themselves that it was because they had no bread. I imagined this scene and almost laughed out loud, thinking of the disciples, looking at each other, whispering, with puzzled expressions, trying to make sense of what their teacher was saying. In that scene, I could not fathom the depth of Jesus's patience, but could easily relate to the disciples' stubborn confusion.

I felt the Lord lovingly asking me, in my life, if I could remember how He had provided for me, and how there was always more than what I ever needed.

 Ella, do you have eyes and not see, ears and not hear? And do you not remember? Do you still not understand?
I smiled as I recalled the "wicker baskets of fragments" that I was able to pick up after each answered prayer; the abundance, the generosity, the magnitude that always accompanied an event or milestone in my life, by the grace of God, especially the past year.

As I, voluntarily, face another impossible turning point in life, and Jesus speaks to me, I hope to hear what He is really saying, and not conclude to myself that it was because I forgot to bring bread in this castaway boat. May my heart and attitude be changed, and my feelings be lifted. May I see that I already have Jesus, my savior, and nothing should be impossible for me. Like the disciples and my law students, this lesson has to be repeated until learned.

For a bible study on leaven, I read this very helpful article.  

Monday, February 10, 2014

Workout for the Heart

Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy. (Proverbs 27:5-6)
A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.  (Proverbs 18:24
Waves and Cliffs (Great Ocean Road)

I came across a quote today that brought on a search for what the Proverbs said about friendship. This is the quote:

The most memorable people in life will be the friends who loved you when you weren't very lovable.

This spoke to me because I was not a very good friend during my gap year. Aside from being far away from my friends, I was too moody, sensitive, and emotional. They would probably argue that I had always been all those, but distance and the luxury of time allowed me to embrace those parts of me more, and to accept them.

I didn't even try to be lovable. I express my love language through service, quality time, and giving gifts. How could I exercise those three by being in another country?

I was selfish the past year. All I thought about was how to improve myself, how to face my demons, how to break my barriers, and how to reach my dreams. Of course I had the noble purpose of getting healed so I could be a better person and friend. But still, I must have been a pain to listen to, or read.

I must be getting on in years, too. I am ready to say that I do not need a whole village anymore, just a few friends.

My heart was pierced recently, and I thought it would break completely. My SD reminded me that my heart is a muscle, and it needed the exercise to be stronger. Well if pain was the workout for my heart, then I had a lot of opportunities to strengthen it.  

And the true friends are the ones who loved me when I wasn't very lovable, and who did not hide their love even if it meant staying through my storms and saying the painful words.

As for the rest, I will try to let go without regret. Maybe as the wounds heal, so shall the memories, and I will hold no grudges, only gratitude.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

He Calls; I Follow.

"My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord; I know them, and they follow me." - John 10:27

Sheep in New Zealand

It is time again to listen closely and firmly to that one voice who calls. I am at peace, knowing I am with him.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Another Season of Farewells

I am going home soon. The OFF year is ending. The ON year is coming.

It is the lunar new year's eve, so it is still a good time to contemplate on new beginnings.

Being far away from home, from all that was familiar, all that I could (or tried to) control, and all that I had going for me, has changed me a lot. It has also introduced me to deeper levels of my idiosyncrasies.

A person can only take rejection from the world so much, and the past year was an exercise in that. Whereas before I could easily cry on a friend's shoulder, this time I had to face my challenges more squarely in the face, as most of my friends are overseas. Although I still asked for help where available, the usual suspects could not easily come with a cup of coffee to sort out my life for me. Those that had internet access received broken accounts of incomprehensible (foreign, actually) events and realizations, and gave advice based on incomplete narrations. Long distance friendship has been a lesson in independence, one that I needed to take.

I had dinner with some friends last night, the start of my farewell season I guess, and they said they thought my life was all about travel and meeting new people and living a relaxed life. When they learned of some of my misadventures, they realized how deceiving social media could be. Friends are great, they cheer me up for some time, as one of my favorite songs puts it. After an evening of laughter, I came home to the harsh realities of life: I need to get the next chapter of my life going.

But the heart wants what it wants. Therein lies the problem. That has always been my problem. Maybe I want too many things. Maybe I list down too many dreams. Maybe I am never satisfied. Maybe I am a restless soul.

I am very grateful for being where I am and for receiving the kind of support that I did not deserve. I know that God is the one who is in charge of the fine print, and all I have to do is wake up and embrace the day. But I want to know more. Where all this will lead. Why those mistakes happened. Who are the people to rely on at this time. What more I could do to express my heart's desires. How I am going to reconcile my head and my heart. The furthest distance I've ever known is from my head to my  heart. Old songs are filling my head again.

In a moment of gratitude, I counted my blessings: the indisputable truths, the undeniable skills, the incomparable endowments, the unchanging advantages. I told myself to not let any rejection take those away from me, for they were mine and what made me unique, even special. If people did not recognize that, then it is really their loss.

I just need to learn not to feel like I am the one who lost me.

Furthermore, and this is more important, I have a constant, unflinching, loving God. He knows me best. I have been talking to Him in prayer; He is in charge. He will not let me down. He is taking away all that is not good for me. His denials are His greatest mercies. I have proven and tested countless times how He works behind-the-scenes and how He always provides the happy ending.

It is because I have this God that I am not losing hope in anything, although everything is still uncertain.

One thing at a time. For now, this is certain: I am going home, and that is where I am meant to be.