A Letter To My Younger Self


Here's What I Wanted To Tell To My Younger Self


I've always kept a journal all my life. But they're kind of everywhere and not really consistent. I wrote mostly about my reflections on the lowest moments in my life. Specifically when I was heartbroken! Don't we all?!? Journal writing became my source of courage. But I realized that when I'm on a happier state-- like where I am now in my life, I was seldom inspired to write anything. That's why for the last four years, the most consistent journal I have is: The Happiness Project Journal.

These past few days, I've started to re-read again my other journals, as old as 2014. And I was quite surprised, that I can hardly remember that I've written something so profound and inspiring!

So I wanted to share it here with you, my girlfriends! ;)


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Dear Child,

I am your older version. The version who have been through it all in life. The version that will tell you so much about the world, its people, and most especially-- YOURSELF.

I tell you this now, more than anything else, that LIFE IS HARD, very tough! But in that toughness and roughness-- it is beautiful! And I want you to understand and experience it from my own eyes.

First and foremost, remember that who you are, the real you-- will contribute so much as to how your life will turn out to be. That even in the toughest of days in your life, you will realize that being who you are will change circumstances and perspectives.

So start from your pure heart. Love what you see. Bring out your most beautiful smile. Always think that every new day is a gift. It is a gift of life. Not everyone are given that gift. So be grateful the moment you wake up and opened your eyes. The sun is a living testimony that you are given the opportunity to shine each day from the moment you get up.

Smile. Always smile. 

Be kind. Treat yourself with kindness as well as the people around you. Remember that when there are days that you can't smile, it's okay, but don't put other people down as well. Yes, it's okay to feel bad that's why practice kindness for you. But never forget that each and every person you meet have their own worries, challenges, and problems, so remember that understanding them also means that you're kind enough and that's already love.

Yet, never assume. It's okay to ask questions but know when to stop asking-- that's when they don't want to talk about it. More often, the silence you bring will also bring calmness and comfort. Never assume that you're better than them. Be grateful that you already achieve something. Your humility can go a long way for people who acknowledges you in that manner. Never assume about people's bad actions. There are some things that are too personal and you are only allowed to see it from afar. In that case, only hope that they will be better soon.

If there's really anything that I want to tell you as a secret ingredient to my life, it would be, I'm a very prayerful person and I talk to God as my best friend. I go to church but I'm not pretentious. I go to church to feel His presence and really listen to what He's trying to tell me. God has never ever forsaken me. And I have given my life in promise that I will live a life in His love, guidance, and protection. For me, to be able to do that is, I love. 

I do everything with love, whether I do the simplest of things or the unbearable ones. I show affection and kindness and respect to all the people around me. And most of all, I love myself by valuing my worth as a person.

You see, the world maybe ugly at times but don't forget that with your love, affection, and kindness-- they can create a HUGE difference. Yet, when someone treats you otherwise, learn to stand up and walk away. There's this tiny/little voice at the back of your head that speaks to you, so always listen to it. You can't go on allowing people abusing you for your kindness and love. 

As a love for yourself-- learn to stand up and respect your own feelings. There will always be a solution, a substitute, and changes when you say goodbye, or when you walk away from them.

Life is what we make it. Your life is how you make it. So don't ever, for one second, believe that you can't make it. Dream big and small. Focus on that goal, and do things with love. Before you'll realize it, you already had your dreams come true. 


Be a good person. Be a believer of God. Be a dreamer. And you will be an achiever.

I love you.

Dinah 

35 Things On Being 35!

 

HOW WAS TURNING 35 FOR ME?


It was a reflection. A deep and profound reflection!  

I have accepted the fact that, I'm no longer a part of the young and the restless demographic. Haha!

Gone are the days that I can party all night till wee hours in the morning. These days, my idea of a party is being tucked under my blanket-- in the comforts of my bed.

I can't make excuses anymore. Part of adulting is being totally responsible of my own actions, saying the sensible words, having a stable job, and paying my own bills. I thought living with my parents as a teenager was like being in prison. Little did I know, that it was the easiest life one can have when you're provided of FREE stuffs. 

Yep, teenagers...don't rush yourself into controlling your own life. Because as much as it's the most liberating feeling in the world, 90% of the time you'll look back--- to when all the serious decisions and anything with monetary values in your life, was made by another adult. 

Yet again, I had no regrets of the life I chose to live. For it has given me lessons, opportunities, experiences, strength, and courage to take on whatever challenges and difficulties to have lead me to where I am and who I have become today. 

And for ALL of that, I am grateful!

On that note, I wanted to share the 35 THINGS I LEARNED IN LIFE, RELATIONSHIP, CAREER, AND TRAVELING--- that I would have definitely advised to my younger self... 


ON LIFE

1. Life gets better. Only if you work harder and believe it will be. Be proactive! Like, literally!

2. Never ever assume. There are always two sides of a story.

3. You can reach your dreams, regardless of your age. Here's a factual inspiration: Ellen Degeneres was 45 years old when she started from zero(!) into building her TV career once again. 

4. We are never too old to study anything. Even if you just turned 30 or 70 years old.

5. Communication is the best solution to any life problems. Talk directly to that person. Express if you're upset, hurt, annoyed, or embarrassed. 

6. Sunscreen is a must on your daily regime. While investing in good skin care products is the best gift you can give to your older self.

7. Stay curious. And never be afraid to ask what you don't know and what you want to know.

8. Having a positive mind and outlook in life is 100 times better than being grumpy and negative. Being negative will only give you wrinkles!

9. Don't be afraid to take risks. It is life's way of opening MORE doors and windows for you.

10. Don't count the years. They seemed long. Count every moment of everyday, and before you know it--- a year has passed by.


ON CAREER

11. If the job likes you, they will hire you. But make sure it is the job that you will love to do.

12. Stop working-- just for validation. You're not there to work, only to please them. 

13. Your passion and hard work will never get unnoticed. But it does take time.

14. If your job doesn't give you purpose, meaning, and passion anymore. Quit!

15. Help and treat everyone with respect-- just the same. From your boss down to the cleaning staff.


ON PEOPLE ( AND FRIENDS ALIKE)

16. Just because everybody is doing it--- it doesn't mean it's also good for you. Don't give in to peer pressure when every inch of your body says NO!

17. You don't have to have many friends, a few is enough. As cliche as it may sound, what matters is a true friend who will be there for you--- through thick and thin. And vice versa.

18. The decisions and choices we make-- speaks volume of who we are. Always choose the one that makes you a better and kinder person.

19. Take compassion wherever you go. Everyone of us have had difficult battles and challenges in our lives-- whether you're white, black, or brown.

20. Be kind. No matter how people treat you. Because at the end of the day, people will remember us on how we made them feel.


ON RELATIONSHIP, LOVE, AND SEX

21. Value your self worth. Really. 

22. When a man really likes/loves you. He will pursue you. He will invest time and effort. No buts, no excuses!

23. Love is not blind. We need to open our eyes to who's in front of us and what he truly is. Knowing the person from the very start is just as important as investing our feelings and time with him.

24. Young love is great to have. But don't stay there too long. Because you're a different person when you were 16 and you're a completely different person when you're 18, 20, 24, 26 or 30. In other words, grow up as individual, because the longer you stay, you will fall out of love and you will end up-- resenting each other. Never make such excuse that, "you're just staying in the relationship because you felt bad of wasting the amount of years you've invested".

25. There's a good reason for a break up. You are both giving yourselves the gift of not wasting any more time, to be more mature individuals, to be more respectful as a person, and to be able to give a bigger kind of love to the next one.

26. Moving on takes time. Take as much time as you need! And take the lessons you learned about yourself and your capacity to love from that break up.

27. Sex should never ever happen when you're drunk. Never.

28. Sex is never the answer to please a man to like you, the way you like him. Don't do it with the hope (or goal) of, "being the girl who can change him". Because the only person who will change a man, is himself.

29. Always have protected sex. Always! This will not only protect you from any STDs but also for unplanned parenthood. You can't bring a baby into this world from your mistake and unprepared life. (Ahhh, I wish every parent should undergo a grueling application process and interviews before they're even allowed to have children.)

30. The best kind of love and relationship-- is when you both value your self worth, you know how to genuinely communicate with each other, that you will continue to support each other's dreams, and you will always respect each other through your differences.


ON TRAVELING

31. Get out there and see the world. Get to know more the locals and the fascinating history (and stories) of your town, your city, your province, or your own country.

32. Contrary to what they say these days, traveling can still be expensive. But investing on it, is just like investing on a new iPhone, new laptop, or an expensive handbag. So would you choose to have a fleeting happiness in buying those things, or would you choose to have lifelong happiness through your travel experiences?!

33. When flying on a plane, always ask for the exit row. It'll give you more leg room and comfort! You can thank me later for this tip. ;)

34. There is nothing more fulfilling in life than learning life lessons from everyone you meet while traveling. So always have an open mind-- while staying true to who you are, as you collect these stories along the way. And take note: agree to disagree, just in case a debate will ever take place.


Above all these, the most important life lesson I learned for the 35 years of my existence is...

35. Always live in gratitude! With a grateful mind and a grateful heart--- life will reward you a hundred fold of blessings. 

WHAT LIFE LESSONS MADE A HUGE IMPACT TO YOU?

2017 and beyond!

 

What are you looking forward for this year?


I'm four days late. But what the heck! Let's start something fresh and new and exciting for this year!

As I grow older and more mature every year, I no longer do the New Year's resolution thingy. I was never good at it. I was never successful with it. And perhaps, it's safe to say that we all were. 

So I make things a little bit different. I make things rather more commitment friendly and attainable.


How do I start a new year?


  • I always start the year in gratitude. Four years ago, I came across the Happiness Journal and ever since, I committed myself to writing down any small or big things that made me happy everyday.


I have always been a firm believer of gratitude and positivity. I really make a conscious effort to be both in my life, especially, on how I deal with any challenges, on how I treat people, and on how I approach new things.

You don't have to buy the exact same thing. You can either use a nice planner you got from Starbucks or a really nice notepad. I love writing my thoughts, so this mini journal works best for me.

  •  Every year, I also choose a word to be ''my word to live by'' for the rest of the year. The word would simply remind me of what do I really want to achieve this year. It is something that will help me get by and at the end of the year, it will somehow summarize what kind of year it was.


For 2017, I choose the word--- ACCOMPLISH.


Honestly, I'm a person that barely finishes my-self-imposed-tasks! The word will be quite a challenge and a fresh change for me. Because for the most part, the tasks would pile up right in front of my face before I could really finish them.

To give you an example, to keep up this blog, I needed more time, commitment, and energy. So I really hope that by having the word-- accomplish, at the back of my head, it will give me more results rather than just the effort I did.

  • Every year, I make it a point to go some place new. Ever since the travel bug has bitten me many years ago, I make sure that every year, I should go some place that I have never been before. 

My birthday falls in March, so I make it as a good excuse as a gift to myself. I call it as ''my yearly solo travel ritual'' that I usually do after my birthday. 

If you're asking me how I am able to afford a life of travelling, the simple answer is I set my mind on a place and I save a good amount of my hard-earned-salary to be able to do it. I don't spend A LOT of money on material things anymore. I'm the first girl you'll probably meet who is never interested on a Louis Vuitton or Gucci bag or anything with 'labels'. Frenchie has taught me the most valuable lesson that label is not important. Only those who value it so much, would care. My 'valuable' purchases are usually my gadgets just because I love documenting everything-- online. 

This year, I'm brewing something big on my travel adventure. One good reason for this is that, it's my last year in Brazil and in South America. So I wanted to make the most of this whole year to see this country and this continent before moving forward to another level of adulting.


If my word for this year is, ACCOMPLISH...

what do I want to accomplish?


I want to accomplish reading more books than I have read for the past years. I have set aside books that I was suppose to read. So it's about time to finish reading them.

I want to accomplish writing more on my blog and really making it more interactive. After all, that's why I made it look like this.

I want to accomplish to be more healthy and fit. No losing weight, just being able to accomplish of not getting sick. Last year I was absent at work because I can barely get up from my bed.

I want to accomplish my 'legacy' for the school I'm working at. It's in the form of compiled lesson plans and fun-filled activities for the next teachers to come after I leave.

I want to accomplish more travel adventures with myself, Frenchie, my sister, and my friends. It's what keeps me pump up and exciting for this year. After all, I'm in France for the whole month. So what better way of collecting new adventures than jump-starting it here.

I want to accomplish all big or small stuff that I was tasked to do by other people. Promise. Really.😉


So what are your goals for 2017?

Let's Talk About Doing Something What You Really Wanted To Do

 

What is that dream that you wanted to chase?


Sometime in the later part of 2013, I felt drained and too exhausted with my job. Coincidentally, I was also ready to break up with Beijing.

For most of my friends, they thought I already had my dream job, being promoted from my kindergarten teaching job, as I became the Teacher Trainer to all our Chinese and foreign teachers around China.


The perks of the job did give me the chance to travel and see different parts of China, every weekend for free...


Treated to authentic Chinese regional dishes that their city can offer...


Stayed in fancy hotel rooms...

 

Most importantly, observed & mentored teachers

on how to teach our children of today!


Yet, despite having all those privileges I still had the need to walk away from it all. I felt stuck and caged. I heard these same complaints from other friends. Like me, they too, need to escape from 9-5 job and should be doing something more meaningful. Or explore, or be more creative, or be more adventurous. Blah. Blah. Blah.

In my case, I do feel that I'm doing something very meaningful...


I LOVE TEACHING. Yes, I do! It's in my veins and genes! ;)

But I don't love being in Beijing (or in China) anymore. 


That was my problem. And in my defense, I'm not the only expat who lived in Beijing that shares that same exact sentiment. Yes, go ahead, ask them... 

Thus, I left Beijing in June 2014, after having lived in a country and city that adopted me for exactly eight years. Bound to never-neverland!


Leaving China didn't mean I am settling back home in the Philippines. I saw it as a perfect opportunity to brave the world of unemployment and explore the endless options in life-- that many of us failed to see because we are so contained in a box of fears...


Fears to fail. Fears to leave a job that gives us financial stability. Fears of not being able to live up to our countless of responsibilities (i.e house bills, family, & children). Fears of what others would think about us, if our decision will end up as the biggest mistake we'll ever do.

Yes, it was my decision to walk away from my contained box. It was my decision to take such HUGE risk. And this is pretty much what sums up MY DREAM, after I left Beijing for almost two years now...


"I'm not sure what I'll do, but-- well, I want to go places and see people. I want my mind to grow. I want to live where things happen on a big scale."


Have I regretted that decision? Nope. Because I've seen places. I've seen people. My mind grew and learned so much, that I don't think I have learned in school and textbooks. And yes, I've lived where things happen on a big scale!

If there's anything I wanted to share with you as a GREAT LESSON from this taking-risks journey (with Frenchie as well) is that:


Our life is more liberating and awesome when we genuinely live a life we always wanted... not the kind of life that our society expects of us to live or other's dream for us.

This is the kind of life I want...to see more of the world, it's people, and the amazing lessons I will learn along the journey (and share them with you through this blog). And having the freedom to do it, is really pure happiness!

But of course, I would be lying if it wasn't hard. It was hard and difficult. The challenge was really to make it work. Yet somehow, somewhere in between the moments of my fears, I recognized a very certain word...courage. 

I walked the unknown path for almost a year. I didn't know if I was really doing the right thing. I juggled working on jobs that I didn't love to do, but I'm grateful that I did. I lived in a country that I didn't embrace completely because of its 'cold' culture. I met people that treated me as if I didn't exist just because they got more privilege than me. I learned so much about my strength as a person and my capabilities with human tasks. And in all of these, I never once doubted myself.

I have always this truest desire and gut feeling that I can do it. Therefore, I WILL DO IT!


The thing about taking risk is that, you have to walk the path of focus, direction, and determination. You have to genuinely tell yourself that no matter how hard the challenges will come your way--- you need to get to your ultimate goal. 


If you'll ask me if there's a right time of taking risk or taking that leap of faith? Honestly, I don't know. But then again, if not now...when?! 

And as my circle of life goes on, after exactly a year of leaving China, I moved to country number 4, in continent number 3--- after my brief stay in the US. Because, my ultimate goal was to live and work in Brazil! 😘


Because if I believed I could and-- I did! You could, too!

Let's Talk About Beauty

 

WHAT DO YOU LOVE AND YOU DON'T LOVE

ABOUT YOUR BODY?


For the most part of my growing-up years, I thought that whatever "shortcomings" I had in my body will be my life-long insecurities. But then, LIFE happens--- like moving to a new country, to a diverse culture, and to different standards.

In the end, I became proud all of my-so-called-insecurities...

I have small boobs. I've been surrounded by women in my family who were just as flat as me, so I was never been insecure, nor did I think of having more after realizing that some girls have "gifted" boobs.

I have big eyes. Countless of Chinese girls have swoon their love for my big eyes and wished to their gods they were also born with such.

I have brown skin. My European girlfriends would swear to trade their skin to me. Once or twice a year they spend $$$$ just for skin tanning. Yes, Kate Middleton you're included!

Being skinny is genetic. So don't hate me. I have told some guys I've dated that I would have loved to gain weight. That's why I'm most likely the last one to stand up from a dinning table.

I know, I know, I'm not going to be a hypocrite by saying I don't have any insecurities in my body. Sheeettt, that woman named Candice Swanepoel is she for real?!? I also saw her last month with her baby bump at a furniture store and she was exquisitely divine! The world is indeed unfair! 

Yet again, seeing the likes of her, on billboards, magazines, TV, and social media created thousands & thousands of insecure women around the world.

But did you know that it's what killing us softly...women's body are turned into things & objects by media (and advertising).

It has become a heartbreaking epidemic in our society for over 40 years!


How can we stop this?


We need to change our attitude. 

I became aware that the more I embrace my flaws, the more I become content with my body. 

We all need to stop obsessing to be someone we're totally NOT. 

I can't be Candice Swanepoel because I don't have her genes and blood, and I'm sure she's having a tough time to cope up with her own hotness. Physical beauty is fleeting, we'll all grow old with wrinkles and saggy boobs. Haha.

What we all need is simplify our lives. 

I just realized this when I started packing my things. I spent a lot of my money on CRAP! I had more garbage than real and valuable things. Frenchie taught me that spending money on worthwhile expenditures made me richer, a.k.a. traveling, good food, and good books.

I am also lucky to be surrounded by strong, unique, and amazing women, who continuously remind me that women's beauty comes in all shapes and sizes, and they don't give a shit of not being the "normal" size that our shallow society expected from us all.


So please, please, choose to embrace and love your uniqueness. Your individuality. And your amazing-ness as a whole person. Nothing less.



So girlfriends, how can we REALLY start loving ourselves? In what ways?