An open letter to my daughter:
To my dearest darling, Sophia, I apologize for my shortcomings. Be the best version of yourself, Anak, Mamu will always love you no matter what happens. I fervently hope you grow up to be a strong, cheerful, kind and loving person, touching many people’s lives in a positive, meaningful way, like you so have mine! The ending year has been tough for both of us. I have taken the time to grow as a person, and here is a list of the lessons I have learned.
“Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
- Acceptance. I have always been hard headed. Sometimes it pays to be stubborn, but this year I have accepted the fact that there are really things beyond my control. That no matter how hard I work for it, how much I think I “deserve” it, how much I “attract” (the equivalent of prayer, if you must) it, how hard I visualize it, some things just will not go my way. It became confusing (and conflicting) as there were times when my left side of the brain tells me to accept things and move forward, and the other side (and my heart) tells me to hold on and keep the faith. In the end, I decided to let go, lest I go insane. We meditate together almost daily, and I hope you keep the habit, it is good for you.
- Flexibility. Like Forrest Gump said, “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get”. I could never have in my wildest dream imagine the kind of world that we are currently in. My business and investments were badly hit by the pandemic. I have always been resourceful (a skill I really hope you develop too), and at the start of the lockdown, I have sold rice, fresh meat, frozen meat, sandwiches, etc. I have started 2 new businesses in health and wellness. Health is really wealth. And I am not only talking about not spending millions on hospital bills, but also actually making money instead, if only one takes time to see the opportunities. The ones who win are those who adapt to change. Bend if you must, my darling, instead of standing tall and proud and break.
- Forgiveness. I have always tried to live a life without regrets and I have always been too hard on myself. I need to forgive and learn from my mistakes. I cannot go back and change the past, but I can change the way I feel about it. I forgive everyone who has hurt me. No matter how sincere and honest someone is, there are certain circumstances that makes one breaks promises. It’s wonderful to be able to have someone you could trust your life with, I am not saying to hold back, but always keep your feet on the ground. And I especially forgive myself for making all the mistakes I have made. High time to let go. Remember Anak, it is ok to make mistakes, just be careful not to make the same mistakes over and over again.
- Gratitude. Like Alexandre Dumas said, “Only a man who has felt ultimate despair is capable of feeling ultimate bliss”. In my case, “Only a person who has felt ultimate bliss is capable of feeling ultimate despair”. There are still times when I wish I haven’t met him, but like some of my friends say, I’m still lucky to have experienced what I had. All good things, including love affairs, must come to an end, in one way or another. Make sure you enjoy every minute of it, take more photos, explore more places together, spend more time together, and tell the other person how he/she makes you feel. Cry not because it ended, but be thankful because it happened. Continue with your grateful journal Babu, when you are feeling down, read them and be reminded that there are lots of things to be thankful for.
- Humility. I need help. I am always quick to judge and tell someone to not hold it in, let it out, talk to me if you feel sad. Unfortunately, I just found out recently that I am one of those people. Classic look-who’s-talking case! I rationalized that there are lots of negativity going around already, I do not want to add more. I realized that losing my cheery, positive disposition is worse than not adding negativity. And talking to a kind soul really does make it feel a little bit better. Something about being myself and vulnerable, and someone who listens without judgment do wonders. Nurture genuine friendships, Anak, it will make life a lot easier and more fun.
- Live. A lot could happen in a year. I was at the top of the world, career is great, future bright, next 50 years more or less planned. And just like that, I lost almost everything. I have hit rock bottom (and some 50 ft of crap) this year. Looking at the bright side, things could go at the opposite direction also (Newton’s 3rd Law). I would turn things around! And while I am at it, I will live and enjoy the ride! I promise we will have a good time, Sophia, trust me.
- Love. I may have lost a romantic partner (once I believed my one true love) and the pain was such that I thought it was the end of the world for me, then I was reminded that love comes in many different forms, and I am indeed very lucky. I have an almost 7 year old daughter who adores me, parents who I have disappointed time and again, but have shown me what unconditional love is all about, 3 older brothers who I miss dearly, and my friends who reminded me I am not alone. Count yourself lucky sweetheart, I am not perfect, but I am working every day to be the best mother I could possibly be to you, and I will always have your back.
- Patience. Certainly not one of my (many! Lol) virtues. I am an extrovert, and there are times when I feel like I am bursting with energy! The more I get out and talk to people the more keyed up I get! This pandemic was exceptionally hard since text messages, video calls and zoom meetings are nowhere near face to face interactions. I miss the joy of physically being with people. I sincerely hope the lockdown would end soon and we could start living somewhat “normal” lives. It was so frustrating, especially in the beginning, being locked up. With all kinds of thoughts racing in my mind, I thought I would go crazy! Once I learned acceptance (lesson #1), patience followed.
- Realism. One of the reasons why I found (find if I’ll be honest) it difficult to let go is because he made me feel like a princess. Our story is my fairy tale, without the happy ending. I am trying to look at it in another way, how maybe I have put him and our love on a pedestal. I suppose what transpired was just a series of fortunate events that led to our wonderful time together, then we found ourselves with the right person, at the wrong place and at the wrong time. I have never believed in what is meant to be will be or any of that, but a firm advocate of if there is a will find a way and make things happen! But in this particular situation, there is nothing I could do. The key, my dear daughter, is to know when there is still hope so keep pushing, and when to accept things as they are, learn from the experience, live in the present and make your tomorrows better!
- Self love. I still think of him when I wake up in the morning. I am working to break this habit and I am starting by thinking (or saying out loud) “I love you, Sarah” instead of his name. I realized this pandemic that I can have all the external support and yet nothing and no one seems to help. The decision to feel better, get better, be better, has to come from you, my precious. As early as now, I am encouraging you to keep growing, instilling values and habits I wish you would remember and live by for the rest of your life. I am sorry if I am too hard on you sometimes (most of the times) but hopefully you will appreciate them someday. Love yourself. But please be careful also. Loving yourself does not mean being selfish. Like I always tell you, I believe people have so much love to give (abundance mentality, baby!). You can love yourself and still think of other people, be emphatic, because you never know when you will be at the receiving end.
And finally, probably the most important lesson of all this year for me. When someone gives you a ring, make sure you have got the GIA. Ask seller for more information. Pre-loved, very pretty engagement ring for sale. My ex and I are certified cheapskates (I mean practical!) but the ring is a bit expensive! LOL. If no one is interested Sophia, I will give you the ring someday. Hahaha. Selling post pala ito! (true to my style, just to make this long post less serious). Certificate to follow. 🤣
If you are anything like me, you will learn the hard way. And that is ok, too. It is more exciting and someday will make a great story for your kids (if you choose to have them) and their kids. I will try my best to at least prepare you for the real world. Like the FRIENDS told Rachel, “it sucks, you’re gonna love it!” It will never be a smooth ride, but if you are mindful, I promise you will have many, many wonderful experiences that will keep you going.
Cheers to better days, my love! ❤❤❤