I have experienced a myriad of emotions since the pandemic broke out. Add to that a plethora of online activities. I learned to shop online. Harry Potter toys. Taylor Swift mugs, ref magnets, key chains, 3 of her journals with her CDs Lover Era, which I didn’t get to buy before, and of course, her latest, her folklore album. Dangling earrings because I saw the ones on my life coach. A foam pillow for my back. An egg seater for my derriere. A lovely book stand with the drawing of a pretty girl. Just like meeeeeeee.
I learned to cook. The certified Undomesticated Gal learned to peruse the recipes on the net, and even have the IG pictures as proof.
I’m on my second Harvard University EDX Course. I earned a Certificate of Achievement for the course- the Art of Rhetoric in Writing and Public Speaking. The second one I’m about to finish soon is Storytelling in the Workplace.
In my first Harvard course, I got to write about the drug war in our country. I wrote a speech on why it’s crucial to vote wisely. My first draft included the lyrics of Taylor Swift’s “Only the Young,” which I scrapped, replacing it with a simple but more nuanced use of a metaphor in the final version.
The haphazard handling or lack of a plan to contain the virus, the pronouncements of the president that only lead to more confusion and stress, the way his people would explain for the umpteenth time that he was just joking as if life and death now is just a notion to be laughed at.
I cried and still find myself crying when I get to read our less fortunate brothers and sisters’ stories, the very alarming rise of COVID-19 cases each day. Of Ronel Mas being released, the Anti-Terror Bill, which can be the death of us all. The haphazard handling or lack of a plan to contain the virus, the pronouncements of the president that only lead to more confusion and stress, the way his people would explain for the umpteenth time that he was just joking as if life and death now is just a notion to be laughed at. On mere suspicion, we can be detained for being outspoken on social media, red-tagging at its best.
This week, for the very first time, I signed up for a week-long Reading Webinar sponsored by Vibal Publishing. It’s up my alley because I’m an M.A. Reading graduate of UP Diliman, a national trainer of the National Educators Academy of the Philippines (NEAP), DepEd’s training arm, and the Foundation of Upgrading Standards in Education (FUSE). And because I also give trainings in my own turf in DepEd Makati.
I had a teeny weeny crush on the speaker this Wednesday, but I was in denial. He spoke this Friday again, and my crush was confirmed. He’s brilliant. Erudite. Outspoken. Principled. His command of the Queen’s language is wicked, flawless. His accent is to live for. I hang on to his every word. I nodded in agreement with his ideas. I laughed at his jokes. He does not lack in the looks department either. He’s perfection. But he’s a religious brother. I don’t have a chance with him. So I’m asking the universe to conspire. If I marry again – I want a teacher, a writer, a lawyer, or a docter – any of those human permutations!
The speaker, the day before my crush, spoke said these words, “These are tough times. You can’t disregard the societal gap. Destroy the gap”. My tears flowed. Then he said again, “More than just a gap in words, vocabulary deficit is a gap in society.” He crushed my heart. I died there. Call me what you want, but as I typed those words, I find myself crying all over again. I feel for the marginalized, the lost, the last, the least.
But I don’t want to ever lose hope because even if that Darryl Yap releases a thousand in-your-face content like he did with his most recent video “Online Class”, I still believe in teachers’ innate goodness. It’s wired in our DNA to strive for what is good. My daughter-in-law has headaches after spending so much time in Google Meet sessions and countless webinars.
Everyone has a story to tell of valor, something heroic, that can move us if only we have ears and hearts that listen.
It has to be told that in the last week of May and the first week of June, I got depressed. But the magic pill my doctor prescribed lifted me out of the doldrums. For two weeks, I did things mechanically, after which I would lie down in bed. I forgot about Monster RX 93.1, Chico Garcia, who I love for his fantastic, funny bone, and the other deejays who never fail to put a smile on my face or elicit maniacal laughter from me. I even forgot to play my Taylor Swift CDs. Depression keeps you quiet and tied down to your bed. But during those times, I never failed to draw outline animal drawings I googled plus the hopeful quotes that I would send to firstname.lastname@example.org to give cheer to the patients and frontliners. I did it depressed. I asked myself, “How can I give hope to someone when I require it myself?” But I pushed on. I would usually send my drawings with hope-filled quotes on a Wednesday. I felt that it was the only useful thing I did that dark, dark time.
I pray for everyone, and that includes my enemies and those who have conflicted feelings about me. My faith increased in this pandemic. Before, I thought that I was praying too little, like five minutes tops. Until my life coach pointed out that everything she does is not separated from her prayer life. Although theoretically, I knew that our work is also a form of prayer, it didn’t really sink in. Until I affirmed within myself that my every breath, my very life is a prayer.
At the onset of the pandemic, I started a weekly FREE teaching series on grammar for anybody who wished to learn, but I started concentrating on poetry on my fourth mini-lesson.
When DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones urged the adults to work around their fears, I wrote an article on my Facebook account that runs counter to her ideas. I spoke on behalf of the teachers that they should not be going around the communities in no way, distributing the modules. Of course, I do not agree with an academic freeze because the children will lose out on so much. But if I’m a parent of those little ones, I wouldn’t let my child step foot or be within the school’s ten-meter radius. I attended the SEAMEO webinar on how Southeast Asian schools coped with the onset of the pandemic. I listened aghast at how some countries made their teachers go to the communities to teach! Education is important, but safety should be foremost in everybody’s mind.
In one of the writing communities I belong to, someone pointed out that I’m swamped and yet so productive. It’s a way of coping. I’m a Type A personality, a Popular Sanguine, and Powerful Choleric, so I run true to form. Every minute counts. I have a to-do-list every day. I get a kick by checking those little boxes, signs of my wins for the day.
Since the Cenacle Retreat House started their virtual retreats, I’m always an attendee.
In one of the writing communities I belong to, someone pointed out that I’m swamped and yet so productive. It’s a way of coping.
First to Dr. Maria Teresa Gustilo-Villasor’s “Uncertainty, Stress, and Spirituality. I followed it up next with “Dealing with Our Feelings: The Place of Emotions in Spirituality.” Last weekend, I attended “Transitions in the Midpoint of Life.” By month’s end, I would have had participated in the “Praying in the Time of Pandemic” retreat.
I joined the Unlock the Diva Community of Life Coach Ning Barcelo-Tadena. I signed up the other day and won a slot in a virtual Wine Night on August 21, 2020. In the morning of that day, I would also attend Go, Guro’s free seminar on “Strategies on Active Learning.” I am one of those who often send invites, announcements to anything good in the city, paid or otherwise. Some of my friends tell me that I expend so much energy in inviting people to these events. It’s inherent in me to have people enjoy the perks of something good, of something that will hopefully bring out everyone’s best versions. Maybe, it’s because I hate apathy. Or perhaps it’s the leader in me. I hate to see people miss out on opportunities out there. But I’m choosing to let other people be. Not everyone has the energy, the inclination, or even strength of mind, to cope with so many things. I choose to remind myself that there’s such a thing called different strokes for different folks. Plus, I learned in one of the retreats I attended that an immature person’s hallmarks are impulsiveness and rigidity. I am immature in some aspects, but I have one saving grace- I have a great sense of humor.
I think it’s been three weeks that I haven’t prayed the rosary. But I’m trying to be flexible.
Tomorrow, I will attend the Zoom webinar, “Confidence in Public Speaking,” by Vertical Parallel Asia. Although I’m a reasonably good speaker in my own estimation and bolstered by the testimonials of my audience, I continue to sharpen the saw. I am so in love with learning. My approach in life is 17 Forever in my heart.
At the ripe old age of 57, I am so enamored with life, interests, and passion projects. I’m currently writing my memoir- “Coming Out of the Dark: A Life Under Construction.” The laughter of my first grandson gives me pure unadulterated joy. He turns a year old next month. I pray to God that I’ll get a negative result when I have my Rapid Testing done, a requirement for one to travel to the provinces.
These past three weeks, I can feel the Jill in me not having some sort of fun. Months ago, I managed to read Lang Leav’s Poemsia, it’s YA fare that had the heroine losing her cherry in the car’s front seat. The conservative me did not like having the kids read about that, although it’s one of my fantasies. But I think I’d like to get it on in the back seat of a car. Shades of “Summer Nights.” Last month, I got to read Rupi Kaur’s “milk and honey.” I have several ebooks waiting to be read. I have a physical copy of Neale Donald Walsh’s “Conversations with God.” It’s an assignment reading given by my coach.
My copy of “Midnight Sun,” showing Edward Cullen’s POV, is waiting for me at Fullybooked Rockwell. These days, I’m a slave to my grueling writing deadlines. I wake up, eat, take a bath, and then face another day of watching webinars and try to squeeze in time to write. My sleeping pattern is shot. My beauty regimen is not complete. After taking a bath, I put some gunk on my face, and that’s all I could manage. Even my prayer life has taken a different turn. It’s a good day if I manage to write on my journals, answer my 200 Prayer Prompts Journal, read my favorite prayers, read Didache, and my Bible. I think it’s been three weeks that I haven’t prayed the rosary. But I’m trying to be flexible. I whisper my little prayers to God throughout the day. I talk to him in my mind, sometimes I even find myself talking to Him out loud.
I look at the pictures of my first grandson. I watch his videos; of him laughing, his two front teeth peeking out. He’s a happy baby. He is a slice of heaven on earth. I think back to when I was pregnant with my elder son, I was too depressed, but I marvel at how he turned out. Although we quarrel and have our differences, it’s God’s grace that he survived our hard, poverty-stricken life and my limitations as a mother.
We will see this pandemic through with our family, with a little help from our friends, our faith, our sense of humor, and God, who is bigger than our problems.