Planning Session Version 2015

2014 was a very challenging but rewarding year for me, career or otherwise. Highlights of my year were my promotion and my trip to Europe with friends, and of course, pulling off Joey’s Star Wars-themed 7th birthday party/Georgie’s baptism amidst all the work-related stress (which would be too long a discussion, hahaha). There were a lot of lowlights but suffice to say that the highlights were more than enough to trump all of them.

Not that I wouldn’t mind a kick-ass 2015. To be honest, I don’t really believe in all those horoscope/feng shui or whatever new age term you want to call it (plus, I’m Catholic – and these are big no, nos; I do sometimes read them, just for the sake of amusing myself), but I do believe in asking for God’s guidance and planning. Ask anyone from the office and they would invariable tell you that I always have am excel calendar open on my laptop at any given point in time, and a notebook/planner at every meeting.

image

Yep, hubby and I drank quite a lot of coffee this season that we got two Starbucks planners (we stopped collecting stickers after that).

My plans are hardly foolproof. But here are some tips that have worked for me over the years:

  • List down your goals or plans for the year under separate categories. It may be work/career, family, personal growth – it is up to you. But this will be helpful in identifying where you should focus your energies on, or figure out which areas you might be missing.
  • Plot just enough goals that you can reasonably accomplish – plot too many goals and you’re just setting yourself up for failure. Set too few goals and you are hardly challenging yourself. Similarly, make your goals worth your while. It shouldn’t be impossible, but it shouldn’t be as easy as breathing.
  • Trust your instincts. A lot of people who think that they can’t decide, or don’t know what they want or what to do end up asking for advice, only to do what they had always wanted to do in the first place. Usually, before we even ask for advice, our mind is already made up; we just want validation or to hear it said by another person (and therein sometimes lies the danger that in a lot of cases, we only get lip service). Also, a word of advice: if it’s a major life decision, don’t decide based on what others are telling you to do. Listen to them, but follow your heart. Of course, if your heart is a bit out of bounds or unreasonable, then by all means, give it a good beating and follow your brain.
  • It is always a good idea to put a timeframe, or a deadline for you to accomplish your goal/s. For work-related goals, I always use an excel calendar (the ones you can download for free) to plot my daily/weekly/monthly tasks and deliverables. This comes in helpful when I later do an analysis of my own productivity as it helps me identify which tasks take the most of my time and also helps me identify whether I am more productive in the morning, afternoon or evening. I can then plot my plans accordingly. (Yes, I can be OC like that – I know I am more alert early in the morning and late at night, so I schedule my repetitive/mechanical tasks or those that do not require much analysis in the afternoon).
  • Make it a habit to revisit your goals so you can check your progress. I’ve found that I get even more motivated when I am able to tick items off my to do list. Keep a list with you so you can remind yourself anytime. Memorize it by heart.
  • Prioritize based on needs and wants. Consider your resources and your current circumstances.
  • Know that you will fail sometimes and that not all plans will see the light of day. I once read this quote from Philippine tycoon Lucio Tan that “if you have accomplished all that you have planned, you have not planned enough.” It might sound like the pessimistic way to view things but I tend to agree – it means you have not aimed as high as you should have and only aimed for safe goals. Failing is okay. Not trying or dreaming is not.

So, you might be curious as to what I myself have set out to do this year. Well, I’m not selfish (hardly, hence, the blog), so here are my goals for the year (New Year resolutions kind of sounds cliche so let’s agree to call them goals):

Family

  • Make it home by 9PM, three times a week. My eldest son usually complains that he never gets to see me and I realize that my youngest knows his nanny more than me. This only means I need to spend more time with them. And strictly no work on weekends – maximum of eight hours only if absolutely necessary.
  • Go on a date or bonding activity with my eldest every week. When he was my only kid, we used to have lunch together at one of his favorite restaurants and go to an arcade after on Saturdays. Last year, we rarely went out owing to my busy schedule at work (which means I usually wake up late on Saturdays) and the fact that he now has a brother.
  • Spend one day every month where I get to put on my domesticated goddess persona: cook the boys’ favorite food, bathe the kids, take them to the park, build Lego toys with Joey, and tuck them into bed after reading to them.
  • Go on dates with hubby. True, we regularly have dinner together, but always with a phone or laptop between us (more on hubby’s side, as his cellphone is usually glued to his hands, and his laptop attached to his hip). Now this one, I need hubby’s commitment to pull off.
  • Visit my parents and grandparents often, at least once a month. I only get to see my parents maybe once every two months, and my lola probably 3-4 times a year (compared to my in-laws, who we get to see 2-3 times every month; probably because only hubby drives so I am dependent on his availability if I want to take the kids).

Personal

  • Travel to Japan with hubby and Joey this year, hopefully in May, or if not, during the last quarter. I have been putting off Legoland for the longest time but Joey has since moved on to Harry Potter (he still likes Lego but is now curious about HP) so it would be really nice to visit Universal Studios.
  • Travel to Batanes. I have this decades-old dream to go there but hubby wouldn’t go with me. I will do it later this summer alone if I have to.
  • Write more. Seriously, this blog needs more entries. I can’t blog everyday, but I am setting a goal of one post every three days this year. And to write more personal essays (something I sorely miss doing), and give my first love a little attention: poetry.
  • Read more. True, I finished all of John Green’s novels, the latest Blue Bloods, Gone Girl, Anne Rice’s newest vampire novel – Prince Lestat, and a whole lot of YA novels, but I feel I haven’t read enough. So here’s to setting two novels per month.
  • Learn a new recipe every month. For January, I am thinking of making a carrot fondant cake.

Health

  • Lose weight. I am stuck at 125 lbs. But prior to my 30th birthday, I have always been 105-108 lbs only, since I was a sixth grader. To be honest, I lost a lot of weight during my second pregnancy (125 lbs before getting pregnant and 138 lbs a week before giving birth – yet Georgie weighed 8 lbs when he was born). But I quickly gained all that with stress eating.
  • See my doctors. I have been skipping and missing appointments, sometimes deliberately because I hate waiting in doctors’ clinics but oftentimes because I simply don’t have time. You see, it’s very hard to see my doctors because their clinic hours can be ungodly hours sometimes. I have a cardio, an endo, an OB gyne, and a derma who all have weekday clinics on different days – I can’t possibly go on leave everytime I visit them. But I have been off my meds for a few months and I haven’t gone for my annual cardio monitoring routine in ages so it is really imperative that I haul myself there soon.
  • Eat healthy. I normally have fast food for dinner, since I eat on the drive home to maximize my time but I know it’s not healthy. So I will limit myself to twice a week fast food.
  • Get at least five hours of sleep on weekdays and ten hours on weekends.

Career/Finances

Obviously, some of these goals are confidential so I will keep those details to myself and just give you a peek:

  • Save, save, save! I want to have enough money to get Proj. Family Home 2.0 kickstarted by the end of the year. With the arrival of  Georgie and an additional nanny, our little condo has gotten a little cramped. My goal is for us to move into our new home by end of 2016 or first quarter  of 2017.
  • Manage my time better, delegate more, empower people more. I sometimes feel overwhelmed and this leads to me not getting any work done (because I end up just staring at the computer for hours on end). And I can get distracted (my teammates would probably say no, but yes, I can and do get distracted and I can be unproductive sometimes).
  • Learn more. The higher I go up the corporate ladder, the bigger my scope becomes, the more I realize that there are a lot of things I still don’t know.

Whew. When I started this post, I thought I wouldn’t be able to write a thing, yet here I am, 1,600+ words later. I guess that’s a good sign, right?

How about you? How do you plan for the year ahead?

 

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Big 3-0

I had a really fun time last Friday with my P&G friends as we celebrated my good friend Leah’s milestone 30th birthday. Eight hours of work + eight hours of fun! = happy campers! The birthday girl told us the dress code was something sparkly, shiny or glittery so that doubled the fun for me as you all know how much I love my sequins, crystals and beads. 🙂
First was dinner at Lusso where we surprised the birthday girl with a Prada cake:

Yey! We made the birthday girl forget WD3 so mission accomplished!

I just have to say I loved the food, the ambience and the impeccable service – it made us all feel pampered. I must make a mental note to come back here soon with the hubby.
We got the cake from Bake Happy. Since we weren’t really a creative bunch, we just told Marie that we wanted a round cake ala Devil Wears Prada. And voila! I can’t believe how pretty the cake turned out; in fact, everyone who saw it just went “AWWW.” And the cake itself did not disappoint – we got the red velvet flavour (we insisted that it was Leah’s favourite flavour, someting she never noticed before, but she orders a lot of red velvet flavoured-thingies) and it tasted good. We were kinda prepared to accept a cake that only looks good but doesn’t deliver on the taste but this one was a pleasant surprise. And everything was edible too! Well, except for the candle.
Yes, everything’s edible.

Look! Glittery ribbons on the red shoes! I just die looking at this.
Then it was drinks until morning at Skye Lounge, trying our best to finish the Absolut that came with our table. We talked, laughed and drank to our hearts’ content. Good times with good friends. We didn’t even notice the time, except that our feet were killing us after two or three hours of standing.
Too bad we were no match for the Absolut – we only finished half the bottle. A good thing that they let you leave the bottle and finish it some other time, provided you finish it all off within thirty days. So yeah, I guess we’ll be back here within the month.
Sharing the last pair of gambas

Happy birthday to my Pancake House/ranting session buddy and neighbour! Cheers to many more birthdays!
*You can get your custom cake from Bake Happy through Facebook or visit http://bakehappy.blogspot.com/.

2012 To-Do List

I wasn’t planning on making New Year’s resolutions because I would only end up breaking them, but I kind of wanted to join the bandwagon. Last year was a pretty darn good year and I have a lot to be thankful for but hey, tomorrow’s a brand new day so here at least is my 2012 to-do list, right on time for the Chinese New Year (though I am not Chinese, at all). 
  •  Take care of my health (and extend that to my family). I haven’t been taking good care of myself lately, missing doctor’s appointments, not taking vitamins, ignoring pains, etc. But I am kind of getting old so health should start creeping up my priority list.
Ok, I know I need vitamins, but to have received all of these vitamins during the holiday season is like  sending a rocket with the message straight through me.
  • Travel, travel, travel. 2011 was the first year in six years that I didn’t travel outside the country, either on business or personal trip, so I will try to make up for it this year. I should learn to plot my vacation leaves really well this year. (Oh, and to this end, I’ve already booked one trip abroad, and two local trips with the family. Yey!)
  • Buy myself a decent camera. I am such a scrooge; I’ve been telling myself I would get one but damn, I find them too expensive and I keep thinking I’ll just break it and waste all that money. But I promise, I’ll get a decent camera before I go on my trips this year.
  • Spend more time with Joey. I’ve been spending way too much time browsing the net, eating out, etc., and I realize that I haven’t even taught Joey how to read. And to think that I started teaching him the alphabet at two. My goal this summer is for him to finally be able to read. Heck, I’m such a bad mother – to think that I myself could read before my fourth birthday.
  •  Watch more movies. You all know how much I love watching movies but last year, I don’t know… I seem to have missed more good movies than watched and it’s not a good ratio.
  • Read more. I love books. I’m addicted to them – sometimes, I just leaf through them and smell them, which is why I don’t think I’ll ever be a fan of electronic book readers. No matter how inconvenient and heavy books may be, nothing can replace them. Thanks to my team, I have one perfectly good book waiting for me. 
Yey! I waited for the English translation of this book for ages. Thanks to my team for this wonderful gift!
  • Spend less. I know I’ve earned some good money but where the heck are they? I should start saving up seriously. That means I am only buying one pair of shoes every month. Heck, this is going to be tough.
  • Spend more time with my family: my parents, my brother and sister, lola, everyone. I get to spend more time with my in laws than I do with them,which is kind of weird if you think about it, so it’s about time I make it a little even.
  • Work harder. I think I did a pretty good job last year (and the year before that, for that matter). But I intend to make 2012 even better.  I’m actually excited (workaholic much? Haha).
 
Oh, and here are some pics of our Chinese New Year celebration yesterday. 

Lots of food. And tikoy! 😛

Ghost Stories

I am not very easy to scare – in fact, I like watching horror movies, reading horror books and seeing haunted places. At the height of popularity of The Ring, I watched it alone at midnight, only to laugh at Sadako’s “scary” face.
But nothing scares me more than when things hit a little close to home. Here are some of my personal experiences with the paranormal.
*****
Our high school, like all schools, had its own resident ghost – a former student, who was supposedly raped and murdered at the premises (I tried to research on her a bit, as we all knew her name and what she looked like, but turned up empty. Maybe one of these days I will research her in detail). I have vague memories but I do recall one instance when she was said to have possessed one of the junior high school students (I was a freshman) in the middle of class. Now, I knew the girl. She and I rode on the same school service every day. But I never got to ask her if any of it was true.
Anyway, one afternoon, I, along with two of my friends, went to use the comfort rooms on the third floor of the high school building during a break. We would normally use the ones on the ground floor but it was crowded that time and since the library was on the third floor as well, we figured why not use it on our way to the library?
We each took a cubicle and after our business, went out one by one. Right as we were washing our hands while looking at the mirror, we smelled the oh-so-familiar smell of burning candle. We were alone on that part of the building and the windows were closed. 
Needless to say, we ran as fast as we could from the place and none of us talked about it except to confirm that we all smelled the same thing. 
*****
Our family has more or less a few members born with a third eye. My mama has hers, and I think I might have inherited a bit of it. I don’t see ghosts or spirits, or monsters for that matter, but I can sense when something good or bad is about to happen. Or tell whether a person is good or bad. As I was saying, it runs in the family, and I think I passed it on to Joey.
It happened the day after Ondoy, on a Sunday two years ago. I had to get my laptop from the office in case I can’t make it to the office the next day and I had Joey with me. I wasn’t planning on staying long, just to get my stuff, log on a bit, and then go home. 
I had to use the comfort room for a few minutes and since the floor was empty save for the two of us, I took Joey inside and told him to stand in front of my cubicle. 
While peeing, Joey said something that made my heart skip a beat.
Joey: Mom, can we go now? I’m scared.
Me: Why Joey? We just got here. And mommy’s still peeing.
Joey: Because there’s a boy here wanting to play with me and I’m scared.
Me: Where Joey? There’s no boy.
Joey: He’s here in the CR.
I hastily finished my business, grabbed my laptop without shutting it down, and we ran all the way to the elevator.
To give you a brief background: the building itself had long been rumored to be haunted. I had my own share of it when I was still a new-hire. I was working early at 7:30am, when I heard the keyboard in the next cubicle typing furiously. My workstation was at the entrance to the area so I would have seen anyone coming in; and I knew for a fact that I was the first one at the office that day so there couldn’t have been anyone in that cubicle behind me.
In any case, ever the curious person, I stood up and looked around. The typing stopped. But as soon as I sat down, it started again. I didn’t think much of it (as I said, I don’t scare easily) but a couple of office mates reported other types of haunting on that floor (the 19th).
Two office mates who were said to be clairvoyant had said that there are two ghosts – a mother and a son, going up and down floors. What scared me about this incident is that I never told Joey about ghosts prior to this; and he couldn’t have known about the “ghost son” who might very well be the boy who wanted to play with him.
*****
Back in college, I was always the first one up every day at my parents’ house. My classes were from 7am to 11am, Monday to Saturday, and to be there on time meant I had to wake up at 4:30am and leave by 5:30 am. It was no big deal for me as I had always been a morning person.
As a consequence of this, however, I was given the front bedroom, since it was closest to the living and dining rooms and I wouldn’t disrupt the others when I wake up and go about my morning preparations.
I loved my bedroom but at night, I never want to be the last one to go to sleep – it meant having to turn off all the lights in the living and dining rooms, locking up the glass doors and walking up to the other side of our house where the bedrooms are. It was the same thing in the morning – I had to be the one to turn on all the lights, open the doors, and everything.
The task itself was no big deal – what I didn’t like about it was that from my bedroom, I could see, on an almost daily basis, a woman in white looking at me from the glass doors. And every morning, while I am busy switching on all the lights, she would be there, looking at me, watching my every move and just gliding aimlessly around the house.
I never told anyone about this for two years, when my papa and I were driving off to work one morning. I casually told him, “Pa, may white lady sa bahay natin.”
My papa looked at me, and stopped at the nearest gas station. I asked him why, and he told me that my mama had said the exact same thing to him a couple of days ago. My mom and I never talked about it and after my papa heard about the white lady from the two of us on separate occasions without talking about it, he had no choice but to believe it. 
It was a sort of validation for me as well, that I wasn’t just imagining things. After all, there was one other person who had seen the white lady. 
*****

Best Buys

It’s my first time to take a week off from work, EVER, and two days into it, I can say I’m so not used to it but I am loving it! I’m not a workaholic but I never had the opportunity to take longer than two days off except when I had to go on my honeymoon (which lasted barely a week) and maternity leave (which I cut short).
My first day off, I roamed aimlessly around our neighborhood mall and discovered that Saizen has finally opened a branch at Market Market (was I living under a rock the past two weeks???)! Yey! I’m a sucker for bargains and this is the best place to get them – I am reminded again of how much and why I love the Japanese so much (aside from Anime and Manga, they have one of the best fashion anywhere and I love working with Japanese – they’re so perfect).
I didn’t get to take photos at the store (darn, I really should have my trusty cam with me all the time; my phone was dead) but the place had two aisles dedicated to cosmetics, several aisles for office and school supplies, kitchenware (even baking needs!), home decor, food, and of course, those thingamajigs that only the Japanese would think of inventing.
I got me several of the rose-scented incense cones and potpourri (not as good as Crabtree and Evelyn but for Php85, who am I to complain) and cookie cutters, which got the little man at home so excited to bake with me this weekend. 
I would have loved to hoard more but I didn’t really want to lug around a huge plastic bag but do expect to bump into me there one of these days. 
Seeing all those JP-made stuff also reminded me of how much I love their chocolate so I decided to get some sweet fix. By the way, Saizen sells these pocket-sized Meiji chocolates but I think they’re also priced Php85 (forgive me if I hadn’t mentioned it earlier, but EVERYTHING at Saizen goes for Php85), so I got mine from Mercury drugstore just one floor below.
*Saizen is actually Daiso in Japan. But like with Forever 21, G2000, Prudential Life and a lot of other foreign brands, some smart-ass Pinoy took the name and concept for his own and so, the real Daiso had to settle for Saizen. Forever 21 was lucky they had Henry Sy backing them up, otherwise, the fake Forever 21 (now called Hip Culture) would have gotten away with their brand name. And just so you know, it’s perfectly legal here in our dear country to do that.

La Naval: 2011

Went on the La Naval procession for the fourth straight year (I think) with our Varsi friends yesterday.
But first, let me tell you:  a miracle happened yesterday. It was raining cats and dogs a couple of hours before the procession and didn’t let up. The skies were so dark and we were worried the procession will not push through (honestly, I was worried I wouldn’t be able to join – you know me, I ALWAYS end up with a fever when I get soaked in the rain and I couldn’t afford to be sick this week). Thing is, the rain stopped a bit to let San Lorenzo Ruiz out and then it poured again – until the carosa carrying Mama Mary went out of the Church gates. It literally parted the clouds. The rains stopped and the sun shone so brightly, at past 5 in the afternoon and it didn’t rain until the mass finished at around 8PM. 
Miracles have always been attributed to The Virgin of La Naval and I have personally experienced this last year. I asked for Mary to guide me on my next career move and what do you know? My current employer called up the very next day. I had to heed it as I had made the mistake of ignoring the signs before (I remember I had one wish when I went to Vigan early last year – God granted an answer immediately but I chose to turn the other way; lesson learned the hard way).
The crowd was a lot bigger this year compared with last, considering the rains that immediately preceded it. And I think the celebrant was also better at engaging the churchgoers as I didn’t feel sleepy at all.
Taken after the mass
We did break a few of our traditions though – specifically, the hubby led us astray. But I can’t divulge the details here or he will not talk to me (right Feli, Carli and Lynda?). 
hubby not in photo but decided to use this since it has better angle
By the way, the Sto. Domingo church needs your help to fix the broken stained glass windows due to the recent typhoon. 


See you next year. 
*pardon the crappy shots – I couldn’t quite figure out how to use my Olympus point and shoot. Too many settings for a simpleton like me. Haha. 

Latin Mass

The hubby had been looking for churches that offer Latin mass for quite some time; St. Therese at Newport has one every Sunday at 9am, but it’s quite too early for us. As luck would have it, hubby serendipitously chanced on a blog post about a Latin mass in Taguig. 
The San Lorenzo Ruiz de Manila Chapel in Signal Village, Taguig, started offering the Old Mass (Traditional Latin Mass) last April 24 at 6:15 PM, and every last Sunday of the month at the same time.

The San Lorenzo Ruiz de Manila Chapel – it’s actually the old church building of the Sto. Nino de Taguig Parish but they have since moved to a bigger building and the old one was converted to a chapel
The Tridentine Mass, so-called because it was in response to the Council of Trent back in the 16th century, is almost always celebrated in Latin and was widely used until 1969. In late 1969, the Mass of Paul VI was released after the 2nd Vatican Council. 
Aside from the most obvious difference in language used (the Mass of Paul VI allows for the use of the vernacular to allow full participation of the people), other noteworthy is that the priest celebrates the mass with his back to the people – because the priest faces the east and in most church layouts (at least back in those times), this would mean that the priest faces away from the people. A trivia from the hubby: this practice has an origin in pagan beliefs where the sun was worshipped; as we all know, the sun rises in the east. Actually, the more I think of it, if you will study Christianity, almost all traditions have their roots in pagan beliefs. Not saying I’m a pagan, though. 😛

Ok, altar seems a bit weird

The vestments look really nice and grand but I can hardly imagine the heat the priest must have felt

Not just the priest, but look at the others! Layers after layers of lace and black cloth

I lost track which part this is – I couldn’t understand the mass.
Communion

Ok, hubby was insistent that veils and dresses are required – he made me wear a friggin black dress and a veil in the middle of summer!
Other notable differences – the readings are taken from the New Testament and the Gospels (whereas the 1st reading we have now is from the Old Testament), there is no responsorial psalm, the penitential rite is done by the priest, and there is no “peace be with you” portion.

While it was a nice experience, I can’t say I am looking forward to doing it again – for one, I couldn’t participate fully because half the time, I was busy tracking down which part of the mass we were in. A good thing we have a mass book with English and Latin translations – but sadly, we didn’t know what the readings were. Homily was delivered in Taglish so at least I was able to understand that part. It was kind of long though, at almost two hours so if you are planning to attend one, make sure you had lots of sleep as the Latin readings and Gregorian chants might just lull you to sleep. One thing that kept going on in my mind was, how did our ancestors get through this in their time? Oh well, maybe I am just not used to it and need practice. Who knows? 😛

Some catching up…

Been really really busy lately with work so forgive me if I had been a little remiss in updating my blog. Here’s what I’ve been up to the last couple of weeks.
Dinner with Lynda and Robin, on vacation from Australia, at Kabisera:
 Ate adobong kangkong, sinigang, okoy, and of course, sisig:
Had yummy yogurt at Yoswirls at the Venice Piazza:
Robin loved PInoy food – I wish we could have taken him to a nicer Pinoy resto – then he won’t be able to get over Pinoy food. We had to settle for Kabisera since it was the most convenient for us 😛
Roamed around High Street where there was a sand castle making contest sponsored by Sanuk:
Not sure though if this was for kids or adults – I didn’t really find any of the entries spectacular.