Contentment + Gratitude = Peace

peaceIn light of the current economic recession, I found myself pondering lately on how I’m incredibly blessed to have a stable job, right now. And not only is it stable, I truly feel that with this job, I am being paid for my hobbies, too! To wake up on Monday mornings excited to go to work is something I don’t take lightly. I am grateful that I am not only passionate about the work that I do, but also because I work with people whom I trust and consider friends… a very important factor, I believe. I can honestly say that in the last four years working where I work, I haven’t felt an ounce of stress, at all. Being in the office, in fact, does not feel all that much different from staying at home, either. This is just ridiculously good! Sometimes, I can’t help but wonder how much longer I can get away with it.

But even that’s only the beginning.

The real story I wanted to tell here is what dawned on me, this past couple of days. I realized that I have been debt-free for exactly one year now. Yes!!! I was able to pay off everything I owed right about the time the economy was beginning to falter. After having religiously lived like a broke college student (okay, I’m exaggerating a bit, but you know what I mean…) for many years, I was now able to breath freely and… well, not hesitate to fill up the tank and go for a joy ride, every now and then.

But wait… here’s the cherry on top of the whipped cream. Right after my debt was paid off, I set up an automated savings account just so I can get myself back to financial normalcy without having to think about it, all the time. Now, I had forgotten about this account. Yesterday, I decided to give it a look. Well, what do you know? I was surprised to find in there – well, let’s just say a substantial amount I’ve never had before! Just like that! I was like… gee wiz, if not for my occasional trips to Guitar Center (which, by the way, can be hazardous to a struggling musician’s financial health), I would’ve ended up with much more! Haha! Nope, not complaining at all!

Anyhow, I’m not saying this is a lot or even a big deal of a case. Circumstances are obviously different for everyone. But for a single guy who loves the simple life and doesn’t need much (well, sans the occasional musical acquisitions), this is absolutely monumental. Yet, I don’t think my spending habits have changed much at all, after all these years. When you’ve trained yourself to be content out of necessity, contentment eventually becomes a comfortable way of life… even long after necessity has expired. And this goes beyond mere finances, of course! When you are grateful for the littlest things that come your way, trust me, the peace it allows you is simply priceless. And no matter where we’re at in life, isn’t peace what we all crave for, ultimately?

I thought so. Especially, in times like these.

Faster than the speed of life

My mom had a huge family. If I’m not mistaken, originally, there were 15 siblings, all in all. I’m not kidding, our Christmas parties in the 70’s used to be bigger than the entire neighborhood itself. And, I had fond memories of those days.

Today, only four of them are left. I can’t tell you how grateful I am to God for keeping my mom, not only alive, but very well, to this day. Her family history isn’t exactly what I would call pleasant. In fact, it is extremely tragic, in my opinion. I believe, two of her siblings died from birth; another two would die unexpectedly at different times; one would be kidnapped, never to be seen again; and, still another one would be murdered in his sleep.

Sometimes, I feel for my mom. It’s not her fault. But what a waste of life, I thought.

Today, I thought of one of her brothers. An uncle of mine whom I’ve only known from a distance. We were never close, for some reason. However, he was one whom I thought had started out with an incredibly blessed life. To start, he had married into a ridiculously wealthy family. They ran thriving Vegas-style businesses such as casinos and night clubs (remember those?), among others. I remember when I was little, we used to get invited to my cousins’ birthday parties. And I would overhear phone conversations regarding the party plan; that we would bring certain gifts, arrive at a certain time, and that it would be held at the white house. The white house? Oh, it’s what my uncle’s place was fondly called back then. When I saw it for the first time, sure enough, those gigantic Greek pillars made it seem like it was a presidential mansion, indeed. And if that wasn’t enough, there were Cadillacs on one side and a couple more on the other whose names sounded a bit German and Italian to me. But what really blew my mind, was that my five year old cousin’s bedroom was big enough to play ball in without actually breaking a China. I mean, it was unspeakably huge! I never forgot that to this day.

Years have passed since, and I haven’t heard much from or about him and his family until fairly recently. My sister had told me that he eventually became so stinking rich. Needless to say, he had also fallen into the usual traps that money brings, such as substance abuse, gambling and marital unfaithfulness. He had a child out of one of his affairs. His marriage eventually came to an end and was kicked out of the (white) house. He lost all his money and was homeless for years. I was told that he camped out in the back of his old beat-up Lincoln Continental. Though, usually, it was just parked somewhere for long periods of time, because he didn’t have money for gas. That is, unless someone (like my sister’s husband. God bless him) actually thought of him, paid him a visit and handed him some cash, just so he could eat.

To make a long story short, things didn’t improve one bit. In fact, he died abruptly. The doctor said his lungs were black like charcoal. He was in his late fifties, I think. And, it was just a few years ago.

What a tragic story. Though, much like with my relationship with him, I could only mourn his death from a distance. I think of his life. The beauty. The abuse. And, the pain. I can only imagine.

I remember the few times I had to come up to greet him during family occasions. I was always terrified. He wasn’t exactly the approachable type. He was way up there and I was way down here. As if I wasn’t worthy of him. Even to this day, when I think of those times, I feel awkward about it.

But what does it matter now? He’s gone. Life is so quick. Though, I’m learning that sometimes, we can easily live life faster than we should. Whatever happened to stopping and smelling the coffee? Or was it the roses? I’m definitely in no position to judge my late uncle. But when I thought about him today, I couldn’t help but think of a parallel universe. Maybe, he could have been more grateful for what he was given in the beginning. Parents who broke their backs to afford him a good life and education. A beautiful and wealthy wife that truly loved him for who he was. Beautiful children who desperately needed him to be the example of how life should be lived. And, even luxury that one can only ever dream of. If this was the case, maybe things would’ve turned out different for him. And for everyone else involved.

I mean, he had the cake, the icing and the cherry on top! If only I could pick the crumbs from under the table, I’d be in heaven.

But maybe, I’m really the lucky one here. Because I do not have the unnecessary distractions that could keep me from slowing down and enjoying life at a pace that was meant for me. I wake up in the morning and remember to smell my coffee before taking a sip. Much like I remember to smell my food before I start to eat. Much like I remember to close my eyes before I listen to music. Much like I remember to drive slower so I can enjoy my trip. And be safe, at the same time.

I believe, if we don’t go faster than the speed of life, it can give us a lot more than we can ever ask for.

Presents abound

As I came to work this morning, I approached my desk and found it piled with Christmas presents. Guess, Santa stopped by last night.

Well, let’s see… I got cookies, candies, toys, ornaments, pastries, to name a few. And, a handful of well-wishing cards as well.

And, some guy’s photo. With his teethy smile. Thanks, dude!

I had no idea the folks in the office were as appreciative of me as they apparently were. I must’ve done something right this year. 🙂 Amazing!

I feel loved. That’s all I can say. 🙂

 Merry Christmas, y’all.

There goes the bride

It’s so hard. Everyday is torture.

Sure, it helps to write things down but still, it haunts me to this day that my marriage didn’t work.

I take all the blame! I am weak and did not deserve her in the first place. Though, I am grateful to God that he gave me a chance to love and be loved. A chance to see me for who I really am. How I was and who I can be from this day forward.

As promised, I am sharing with you the bridal procession song that I wrote and recorded for my wedding. All I have now are the memories. And this song is from a moment in time when love was born. Like a baby, so tender and pure. I am so sorry that it has now passed away. Oh, so soon. How I wish I could bring it back to life.

Deb, I know you’re reading this. I hope you don’t mind me sharing it here. This will always be your song.

Here Comes My Bride

Here comes my bride
All dressed in white
I have been waiting all my life

My brand new day
Will wipe the tears away
All arise
Here comes my bride

Can’t always get what you want

I woke up with a headache just a few minutes ago. Not a good way to start your Thanksgiving day, I’m afraid. So I step outside on the porch to ease it a bit by breathing some fresh air. Brrrr. The cold bites. And the snow from yesterday is still on the ground and atop the cars in the street. Checking the weather channel, local forecast says it’s 2 degrees right this moment. Awesome.

Coming back inside was nice and warm. But not as warm as Thanksgiving days usually are. You know, the kitchen normally starts to generate heat from all the preparation and cooking.  And the smell. Hmmm…

There won’t be any cooking in my kitchen this time, though. Except maybe to boil water for my morning joe. But I’m fixing to go to another house where a friend will do all the cooking. That would be nice. Just to hang out and not have to worry about all the fuss.

Don’t get me wrong. A house warmed by its kitchen on Thanksgiving day is a good thing. A very good thing indeed. I wish my house is one of them but hey… you can’t always get what you want. Right? Not all the time anyway.

This brings me to my thought for this morning. I’ve been doing a lot of wishful thinking lately. Lot of what if’s. I don’t know. But sometimes, not getting what you want is the best thing that could happen. And for that, I’m thankful. For if I did get everything I wanted all the time, I probably won’t as grateful as I am today. To say the least!

So this morning, I’m giving thanks. To God, mainly. For there’s a lot to be thankful for. Think about it. I will.

Happy Thanksgiving Day.


And you thought I was dead or something… I don’t blame you. It did seem like it to me as well. Which reminds me, my life has always resembled that of a movie.

Let’s see. Hmmm, this time it may have been a combination of… oh let’s say… heartbreak, laziness, a blank mind, freezing temperatures and a month-long case of severe cold. Now, is this drama or what?

A blank mind I still have, for sure. But I think it’s long overdue that I, at least, give a little shout out to my friends out there. Let them know I’m still around.

So, what’s going on lately, you ask? Not much, really. It’s been busy at work. Heck, it’s always busy at work… even when it’s not. I think that’s how I kill time and make everyday worthwhile. I simply keep my mind preoccupied… just being creative and productive. Even if it’s just ranting here on the bloglines, in fact. I really am grateful that I love what I do though. It really does make my daily efforts worthwile. Now, if I could only rock out on the guitar as well, huh? It would be heaven! But we don’t get to have our cake and eat it too, now do we?

It’s okay, I guess. I love where I am right now. I remember coming back home (Cheyenne) from visiting home (Manila). It was a revelation. Right when the plane landed at LAX, and I was walking outside of the airport, it was a sigh of relief. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed my trip and am very grateful to have seen my family again after almost 20 years. But being back here in the States made me realize, this is where I belong now. This is it. This is home.

Sometimes I wish I could go back in time and fix things. But then again, do I really want to do that? I mean, it’s been one hell of a ride, I know. But at the same time, like I said, I love where I am now. And “now” would not be here the way it is if things didn’t happen the way it did.

Huh? What in the world am I saying? After all this… well, y’know.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that gratitude makes you not regret anything. Gratitude only makes you accept, learn and move on… all with a smile on your face. Now, if that’s not life, I don’t know what is.

It’s 10:30pm right now. The wind is howling mad. And there’s food cooking in the crockpot. Oh yeah! In honor of Mardi Gras, I’m getting into some Red Beans and Rice action! Anyhow, even though the thing is set to automatically cook for 10 hours, I couldn’t sleep. I keep checking to see how things are. The smell is making my tummy growl more than it’s making me snooze (and this, after having eaten a big plate of lasagna just a couple of hours ago). Oh, by the way, we’re having a Friday potluck at work tomorrow. That’s what it’s for. And I’m excited that I’m able to be a part of it. Show off, if you will, a little of my cooking expertise (if you could call it that).

And so anyhow, yeah… life goes on. And life is awesome. Even when sometimes it’s not, it still is, in fact. Gratitude. It does make you move on. I’m just pondering on that right now. Hmmm…

I gotta go though. Go to sleep. To the kitchen. Sleep. Kitchen. Taste food. Might need more seasoning. Oh well. It’s all good. And I hope you are too.

See you soon.