Balancing life and work (with my bamboo wand in tow)

I was only six years old when I met Salliji in the late 70’s, my parents’ yoga and meditation guru. It was through Tita Sally (which is how I called her) that I learned the beauty of yoga and meditation and at that tender age before the age of reason, my love for solitude, peace and quiet was awakened and blossomed. I realize now as I write this, that this is probably why every so often, I crave some time alone, to slow down and listen to nothing and think about nothing. When this longing nudges me, I find myself turning to my bamboo wand.

It was six years ago when Tita Sally came back to Manila. She had been teaching all over the world for more than 30 years (clients include Elizabeth Taylor, Michael Caine just to name a couple) and came back to the Philippines for a much-anticipated visit. Although Chinese, she was born here and made an impact on so many lives, including mine and my family’s. It was during this visit in 2009 that she taught us the bamboo wand exercise. What an honor to learn this ancient Chinese daily health maintenance routine. It dates back to thousands of years and was only meant for the emperor and his family. In fact, it was a long-kept royal family secret. It’s been said that the exercises prevent illness, delay the aging process and ultimately prolong life. I fell in love instantly with the bamboo wand workout. A series of 17 movements, they exercise every muscle in the body and promote efficient circulation as well. Salliji was 82 when she visited and she was still as energetic and charismatic as how I remember her from more than 30 years back.

Admittedly, in the last many many months, I had allowed life to completely engulf me. Family and career have taken center stage and left me gasping for air. Meanwhile my bamboo wand had been left in one corner of the bedroom, collecting dust. Every time I walk passed it, I make a mental note to set aside time to practice. That never happened. Mornings are difficult as I’m always rushing to work. Evenings seemed impossible because I would be mentally and physically drained by the time I get home. But the longing to pick up my wand and feel the calm peaceful energy it brings still kept nudging at me-very much the same feeling of anticipation for that long overdue lunch and conversation with a childhood friend you’ve been missing.

Then it was as if the universe had conspired. I couldn’t have received the invitation from a friend to teach the bamboo wand exercise at a worst possible time. I was still reeling from a loved one’s medical emergency and we were in the process of moving in to another house. I was literally covered in dust, moving out/moving in and my mind was just all over the place. I should have politely declined the invitation, given the circumstances. There was no way I would have been able to practice and perfect the movements let alone teach a class in such a short period of time. I asked my friend in a slight panic, “Who will I be teaching the exercise to? How many students will be attending? Is the venue big enough considering each bamboo wand is four feet long? And WHEN is this happening?” I didn’t even have any bamboo wands available for my students–I felt there just wasn’t enough time.

But then the universe decided I would have my bamboo wands in time–and my own wand at long last was finally back in my hands, because I had no choice but to practice and practice. My evening routine became incomplete without practicing. I remembered again how quiet my mind becomes when I’m doing the series of very slow movements while maneuvering the four-foot long stick. How I missed the feeling of slow movement, mindful breathing and the glorious pain from stretching my muscles–muscles that had been sedentary for some time.

I realize this was how the universe conspired once again to force me to slow down and empty my mind from the clutter. It dawned on me how my bamboo wand is a physical representation of the balance I often long for as I juggle all my roles as wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend and career woman. As I practice, I feel the equilibrium returning slowly and quietly while I progress from one movement to another, with the ultimate goal of completing all 17 exercises.

So what a wonderful gift it was to be invited by Philippine Wacoal to teach the bamboo wand workout to their guests as they launched their sports bra collection through the event, Unlimited Movement. What an incredible and diverse group of women I met–working moms, entrepreneurs, athletes, coaches, writers and even a beautiful ballerina. It was an honor to have interacted with them and share the wonder, beauty and benefits of the bamboo wand workout. I am grateful having had the opportunity to further my life and work balance advocacy in this way and for that, I am grateful. I salute Philippine Wacoal’s dedication to empower the Filipina.

P.S.

I absolutely loved wearing Wacoal’s sports bra during my bamboo wand class at the Unlimited Movement event. Being that the bamboo wand is a gentle, low-impact routine which gradually intensifies, the medium-impact sports bra was just perfect for me. A non-wired bra with thick straps, it offered adequate support and yet was so comfortable I forgot I was wearing it. It didn’t constrict my movements at all as I moved from one bamboo wand form to the next. There is something to be said about Japanese technology. I’m now a firm believer of Wacoal’s Unlimited Movement. Interested to check out their new sports bra collection? Visit wacoal.ph for convenient online shopping. The collection offers specific sports bras ranging from high to medium and light impact sports and activities.

*I was invited to try out and use the Wacoal products mentioned, after which I have provided an honest review of my experience. This is not a paid advertising feature.

For inquiries about bamboo wand classes, please email me at mothersatworkhub@yahoo.com.ph

Photos: (1) All set to teach the bamboo wand workout, an Ancient Chinese exercise said to delay the aging process and prolong life  (2) What an honor to have this diverse group of women in my very first class (3) Cirque du Soleil’s Kris-Belle Paclibar-Mamangun in top form after delivering a beautiful and dramatic performance  (4) After the low-impact bamboo wand workout the ladies were ready for some high-impact activities like boxing

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(Photos courtesy of Philippine Wacoal)

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My new online buddy

I recently learned that Wacoal Philippines now has a website to make shopping for lingerie and undergarments fast and easy. This is good news because as a working mom I’m always pressed for time and depend on online shopping, not just for myself but for my kids too. In fact, I’ve been putting off my lingerie shopping for weeks now because I simply didn’t have time to visit the mall. So last night after a long day at work (travelled from Manila to Batangas and back) and from the comfort of my home, right before my bamboo wand workout, I decided to check out wacoal.ph and finally get started on my long overdue lingerie shopping. All I had to do was create an account by supplying my email address and it was pretty easy from there. Since I was in a very decisive mood and wanted to get started with my workout, I found what I needed quickly (I just went to ‘Styles’ and chose from various options like bandeaus, multi-ways and more.) I realized what I was missing from my closet is the much-needed Camibra which will go conveniently well with my on-the-go working mom wardrobe. After choosing my items I put them in my cart and proceeded to check out. It took me all of 15 minutes and I did everything on my cell phone! I Ioved that I didn’t have to to park and go to the mall! I was happy that I used the time I saved to get my bamboo wand workout done and have a nice dinner and chat with my girls. All in all I felt I had a semblance of work-life balance yesterday-despite my full busy day.

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Mission I Am Mom Enough

I can’t recall when I made this decision–to stop the mad race to be the most admired supermom on the planet. Perhaps after years of multi-tasking which resulted in a perpetually jam-packed daily schedule, weekends included, that ultimately manifested in allergies, hyper acidity and sleeplessness, I finally said to myself: enough, slow down, be kind to yourself and rest. Easier said than done admittedly, as it is impossible to shift overnight from being a self-proclaimed workaholic, worry wart and masochist to someone who is relaxed, happy and self-fulfilled.

Nevertheless, I prod on, towards my goal to be at my best no matter what hat I’m wearing–be it wife, mom, daughter, sister, friend or employee–while keeping my sanity and balance.

Here are four reminders that I am mom enough:

1. Slave to the supermom aspiration no more. It took me more than ten years of being a working mom to realize that I don’t need to be a supermom–that I don’t have to kill myself at work and at home to be an accomplished mother and career person. I still remind myself of this everyday. If at the end of the day I wasn’t able to tick off everything on my to-do list, I create a catch-up plan to effectively manage the delay by tomorrow. Tomorrow is another day after all. I also ask myself, “What’s the worst thing that can happen if I don’t get this done today?” I find that more often than not, nobody will die if I don’t finish that item on that day.

Quick tip: When creating my daily to-do list, it helps me to categorize according to priority as follows:

a) Urgent/Needs action today

b) Important but can wait a few days up to a week/Needs time to be thought out and planned

c) Important and can wait two weeks/Needs time to be thought out and planned

2. Shed the guilt. Ah, the omnipresent working mom guilt. I have felt guilty for leaving the office at 5:30 on the dot to rush home to a sick child and I have felt guilty for working from home while nursing a persistent migraine. While I’ve learned that guilt is a useless emotion, it can be debilitating nonetheless. I’ve often asked why we parents are always feeling guilty? I personally feel it’s because we fear the thought of making our children unhappy. We also fear that the time spent away from them, specially when they’re young, will damage them in some way.

Well, I would like to report that after being a working mom for 15 years, my three children have survived. And I have survived. They are in my eyes happy, well-adjusted individuals. The youngest is now a freshman in high school, the next a junior and the eldest going on as a college sophomore.

I think that while I spent a whole lot of time at work while raising my three kids has also helped me manage my time better. I have really tried to make evenings and weekends count. I’ve also recognized my weakness as their tutor and have delegated this to the experts by sending them to real tutors as needed so that time spent with them is more relaxed and meaningful when we can catch up on each others’ day (our ups and downs) versus butting heads over a math equation.

Quick tip: Whenever I start feeling guilt creeping up on me (I missed another softball or soccer game, I had to postpone the urgent pediatrician appointment to Saturday, and my personal favorite: Oh SH#T!! The hubby and the kids have no dinner!!) I remind myself of the OTHER million things I’ve actually done right throughout this working mom journey.  In the grand scheme of things, are the reasons for my guilt really valid?  Chances are, I was just being too hard on myself and have set such unrealistically high standards and expectations. And let’s not forget the fear of failure. Well guess what, I’m human, I make mistakes and I fail from time to time–but I’m also doing my darn best. I have given 200% Of myself and more. And if that’s not good enough for my family–then tough. So the next time there was no dinner, I calmly stopped by the nearest KFC–because  nobody ever got hurt from a little fast food. Oh and I also figured out that leftovers and a can of Spam once in a while won’t kill them either.

3. Remember the value of rest and sleep. Sleeping can be a problem for me because in the back of my mind, amidst my 30-item to-do list, I am unproductive while I’m asleep. The idea of rest and idle time doesn’t sit well since I could instead be doing something more productive that will allow me to cross off more items on my list. Again, it took me more than ten years to realize how unhealthy this is. I realized the hard way that non-stop work leads to stress, burn out and will manifest physically–in my case, through allergies and migraine headaches. I am now making a conscious effort to rest and get more sleep. Whenever I do, I notice a marked improvement in my mood in the morning (I’m not a morning person) and an increase in my daily productivity at work and at home. I’ve proven that getting enough sleep makes me an overall happier and more energetic person the next day–this is such a plus for working moms. As I always say, when I get home from a long day at work, my day has just begun. I’d like to have some energy and passion left for my family in the evenings and it all starts with getting a good night’s sleep.

Quick tip: I constantly remind myself to sleep early on week nights. I set my alarm one hour before I should be in bed. When the alarm goes off, it signals me to start winding down. Winding down means I should take a shower, brush my teeth and get my work clothes ready for the next day. I then cuddle up with a book which helps me to relax. The next step is to dim the lights, being in the dark actually tells your brain it’s time to sleep and will help make you feel sleepy, quicker.

Another way to feel energetic instead of lethargic? Rest during weekends. In my line of work, I sometimes need to work Saturdays or Sundays. When this happens, I make sure to avail of a rest day between Monday to Friday within the following week. As I’ve gotten older, I have learned the value of quality time with my family on weekends. Nothing can beat catching up with the hubby and kids at a leisurely pace. On weekends we try exploring new places to eat–I just live for these simple pleasures–food adventures and long conversations with my loved ones. They make for wonderful memories. You just can’t put a price tag on that. A weekend  spent with my family recharges me. The happiness prepares me for the inevitable hectic Monday up ahead. Knowing the weekend is right around the corner somehow fuels me throughout the week because I have something fun and pleasant to look forward to.

4. Love myself. I know it sounds selfish to some and it sounded selfish even to me at first. But I learned that loving myself simply means giving myself credit when credit is due and being kind to myself. The most beneficial result of loving myself is that I have become a more loving person to my family, since there’s so much more love and kindness to give.

Quick tip: On weekends, I schedule a thirty-minute back massage at the nail salon and if time permits, I have a mani-pedi or just a cleaning when I’m not in the mood for nail polish. The main purpose of the visit is the back massage. Just half an hour does wonders and gives me an added boost! (If you’re in the Alabang area try Nail Tropics at ATC).

And when I happen to pass by tthe vicinity of Bizu, I allow myself a chocolate macaron indulgence or two. Yes, I’ve finally accepted that I’m worth one or two macarons.

Starting 2015, I’ve made it a point to spend time with friends. Every month, I schedule at least one dinner on a weekday or lunch on a weekend to catch up with a friend or a group of friends. Being with people I genuinely like and feel at home with is a way to recharge. I have found that surrounding myself with positive energy from people I care about contributes to my well-being and happiness and is one way of loving myself!

My wish is for more moms to appreciate themselves and recognize their value to their family and workplace. More moms should be exclaiming, “We are mom enough!”

Do you believe you are mom enough? Why or why not? Let me know by writing your comments here or emailing me at mothersatworkhub@yahoo.com.ph.

Am I Mom Enough? Validation comes from seeing three carefree, happy beings. Yes, I am mom enough.
Am I Mom Enough? Validation comes from seeing three carefree, happy beings. Yes, I Am
Mom Enough.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Time Out At Last

It was supposed to be a family trip to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary so I felt guilty knowing the hubby and my son couldn’t go after all. On the other hand, I knew it was a break I so much needed. Being the daughter of a pilot, I learned at an early age how travel can heal a tired, beat up and weary soul. I reminded myself that my two daughters and mom were going on this trip and it slowly started to feel like an adventure-specially without the boys.

The time away from work and the usual daily routine did wonders. I got reacquainted with my love for food and allowed myself some indulgences. It was specially fun exploring the different flavors and textures of foreign cuisine once again.

The highlight of the trip was being with my mom and daughters, without having to worry about deadlines and to-do lists. For once they had my undivided attention. It felt wonderful just being in the moment. It was extremely liberating to bask in nothing but the absolute present. I felt like a ton of bricks had been lifted off my shoulders and my batteries were recharged. I’m truly grateful for those five days.

Hong Kong Holiday

It’s been ages since I’ve last visited Hong Kong and this is my first trip with my daughters and my mom. So the first order of business, naturally was some shopping and then a day in Disneyland. It was a special treat to have my elder daughter’s best friend join us on this trip!

Because we only had two nights and three days in Hong Kong, I was happy with our decision to stay at The Prince Marco Polo Hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui at Kowloon. The hotel has its own access to Harbour City and it was just a few minutes walk from Silvercord Mall. The hotel also provided us with one cellphone per room which we were able to use to call each other and as our pocket wifi, free of charge. The phones helped us out a lot when we were out shopping and during our day at Disneyland, plus we had wifi wherever we went. The hotel was also just a few minutes walk to the ferry terminal and this was so convenient  since we were crossing over to Macau. This made the hotel’s location just superb for us.

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All the walking left us famished!! Thank goodness for this Singaporean vermicelli with seared scallops and veggies.
Loved this clear potato soup with the skins on! This was served with the dish below.
Loved this clear potato soup with the skins on! This was served with the dish below.
Shrimp dumplings on top of silken tofu with the lightest soy sauce ever. Happy we chose to eat at the Silvercord Mall food court.
Shrimp dumplings on top of silken tofu with the lightest soy sauce ever. Happy we chose to eat at the Silvercord Mall food court.
My craving for chocolate was satisfied after this chocolate macaron from Laduree at Harbour City.
My craving for chocolate was satisfied finally after this macaron from Laduree at Harbour City.

Macau in three days

While the three days in Hong Kong was a blur, Macau was more leisurely paced. We had enough time to visit both Senado Square at Macau Peninsula and then Taipa Island. The rest of the time was spent at The Venetian on Cotai Island. It was really interesting to see the mix of Portuguese and Macau culture in the architecture as well as the food.

Three generations at the ruins of St. Paul's Church, Senado Square
Three generations at the ruins of St. Paul’s Church, Senado Square

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More scenes at Senado Square:

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Lots of different kinds of jerky
Lots of different kinds of jerky

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These Portuguese egg tarts quickly became my new addiction – the custard is light, smooth and melt-in-your mouth silky (and it’s not too sweet at all), with a perfectly flaky crust. I made sure to bring some home – even if I had to hand carry them.
Thank goodness for Starbucks! They had wifi - and the English speaking baristas were a big help!
Thank goodness for Starbucks! They had wifi – and the English speaking baristas were a big help!
Funny how shopping found its way back to our itinerary. But we couldn't help it - there was a SALE at Forever 21!
Funny how shopping found its way back to our itinerary. But we couldn’t help it – there was a SALE at Forever 21!

Here’s a look at Taipa Island:

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We came across pretty pastel colored structures all over Taipa which showed the country’s Portuguese influence having been a colony of Portugal for more than 300 years.
This crunchy squid was my fave at Seng Cheong Restaurant in Rua Do Cunha St., Taipa
This crunchy squid was my fave at Seng Cheong Restaurant in Rua Do Cunha St., Taipa

The Venetian Macao Resort and Hotel, Cotai Island:

We stayed at The Venetian Macao for two nights and three days. Due to budget constraints we chose the smallest room, the 70 square meter Bella Suite. With 2 queen size beds and a living room with sofa, chairs, and dining or work table, the suite was more than comfortable for the four of us. I loved that the third level of The Venetian housed The Shoppes, an indoor mall. The food court was also on the third level, so we had a wide array of affordable but delicious food to choose from. It was a challenge trying to decide among so many options – Chinese, Indian, Italian, and of course Portuguese and more.

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We got this naan and hummus from one of the stalls at the food court serving Indian cuisine. The  hummus was so good we asked for an extra order of fresh warm roti to finish off the hummus with!
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The ceiling of the outdoor driveway arrival area
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The third level of The Venetian features The Shoppes mall area. It took me a few minutes to realize the sky wasn’t real. This illusion messed up our body clock, we were still window shopping at 10pm but it felt like it was just early afternoon.
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Also at The Shoppes, guests are able to take a gondola ride under the pleasantly cloudy and blue ‘sky’. We didn’t do this though since we decided to use the time to visit Senado Square and Taipa instead.
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This roasted goose with hoisin sauce, fresh bok choy and a generous serving of white steaming hot rice was good and hearty.
The lobby at The Venetian. Look down. Do you see it? I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me.
The lobby at The Venetian. Look down. Do you see it? I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me.
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This very refreshing dessert and drink in one: coconut milk with sago
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Look up at the hotel lobby ceiling and you’ll see this

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I enjoyed this potato and vegetable soup so much I had it twice in two days! It was pretty cool having Portuguese soup using a Chinese spoon and chopsticks. Such an interesting fusion of Macau and Portuguese culture.
See's Candies always brings back pure joyful childhood memories. I'm just happy whenever I'm in a See's store.
See’s Candies always brings back pure joyful childhood memories. I’m just happy whenever I’m in a See’s store. My fave during this trip was the dark chocolate truffle topped with ground nutmeat.
Absolutely divine: Godiva dark and white chocolate soft serve ice cream
Absolutely divine: Godiva dark and white chocolate soft serve ice cream

It was a great five days in Hong Kong and Macau with my mom and my girls. The time off from work and household responsibilities no doubt rejuvenated my spirit and I’m thankful I had this opportunity. Still, I can’t help but think how much better it would have been with the boys whom we missed so much. Perhaps I can put this to rest when we finally have a chance to celebrate our 20th anniversary out of town. That’s something I am certainly and happily still looking forward to this year.

Divine Design

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Circa 1978. My parents introduced me to Salliji when I was only 6 years old. Here, she teaches yoga and meditation to the pilots of the Airline Pilots’ Association of the Philippines and their families
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Eighty-seven year old Salliji, author of Cosmic Arrangement, has been teaching the benefits of meditation for 42 years

To say that the book “Cosmic Arrangement” by Salliji teaches the art of meditation is selling the book and Salliji’s teachings short. While it does certainly teach this art, it is so much more.

The book narrates Salliji’s cosmic journey around the world over the last eight decades. At PowerBooks Greenbelt 3, Makati, Philippines on June 20th, Salliji’s friends and disciples participated not just in the book launch event, but also in a meaningful session of learning and interaction. Salliji engaged her listeners in a brief lecture on the benefits of yoga, mindful breathing and innercises (versus exercises).

Three innercises were demonstrated, namely: sun breathing, swimming in space and diagonal stretching. Salliji emphasized that each innercise is combined with meditation, thereby allowing one to be aware of and to feel the flow of energy. Proper and mindful breathing (versus empty breathing) was also discussed and demonstrated, with emphasis on the benefits of being present in the moment.

Sun Breathing was the first among three innercises taught during the book launch
Sun Breathing was the first among three innercises taught during the book launch.

As a perpetually busy working mom who multi-tasks as a norm, I could readily identify with the challenge of simply being mindfully present in the moment. This alone inspired me to finish reading the book. If anything at all in this article piques your curiosity or interest, it may just be cosmic arrangement or divine design in motion.

Cosmic Arrangement is available in PowerBooks, Greenbelt 3, Makati, Philippines. Please leave a comment here if you’re interested in getting a copy but have no access to PowerBooks.

My very cool parents
I met Salliji 37 years ago through my very cool parents during the yoga and meditation class she offered to my dad’s group of pilots and their families at the ALPAP (Airline Pilots’ Association of the Philippines) office in Pasay City, Manila, Philippines. I have vivid and fond memories doing the yoga poses Tita Sally taught me and look forward to practicing yoga again. Even as a hyper six year old child, I remember that warm peaceful feeling of stillness and calm, whenever I was in meditation state or during yoga.
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My younger sister shows pure joy in finally meeting Salliji
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Cosmic Arrangement is available in PowerBooks, Greenbelt 3, Makati, Philippines