That’s Enough Adrenaline

When I think of all the pressure I’ve put myself into-just because the ladder of success keeps getting higher-I feel like crawling back to a much simpler life.

There was a time I used to just draw anything freely and because I was just passionate about it. I would take paper after paper, trying to perfect my craft. Because of the talent, I got accepted in an art school. I was just 12 turning 13 then.

When the atmosphere of pressure swept in and because everything became graded, I changed.

My passion shifted from drawing to winning. Not necessarily competitions but, being the best in everything.

Sadly I started entering depression at this state. Hence, I could not function properly-adding to my frustrations.

Creating art became toilsome. I don’t admit it but sometimes, I am tired of it.

The thing is, I just wanna go back to that old chloe, who used to just love drawing and painting. Her life was simple and her competition was just herself. She was content, hopeful and happy.

Artwork by yours truly.

Oil on shaped mdf wood.

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The Sting is Here Again

The sharp sting’s in my throat again
I gulp another scorching pain…

I press down my eyelids with slight force
And let out two to three droplets of tears–

seething with its saltiness.

How does one converse with God amidst pains?
My mind just seem to utter aimless words.

But I’m not feeling hopeless tonight.
It’s just that, hope seems far fetched;

It’s as if the lesson of patience is taking it’s time,
And teaching me to grieve some more

Until i’ve cried the last droplet of tear.
That are like splinters in my heart

Although Idon’t want to feel the pain again of defeat
I have to take courage and face that weak girl in me.

Sometimes I hate her.

But,

I need to let her cry,
And let her take her time to be weak.

And pull the splinters out of her heart…

One day at a time.

And so I take this time,
To just write this moment down.

So one day I can thank the Lord,
For the times He molded me.

And allowed that weak girl
To grow stronger, one day at a time.

The sharp stings are gone now.

Hush now, you little girl…it’s alright now.

Sleep now. For the world is still harsh tomorrow.

———————-

Proverbs 20:30 (KJV) The blueness of a wound cleanseth away evil: so do stripes the inward parts of the belly.

Remember your Pains

The pains of your past- it has meaning. No matter how much you want to escape from it, you actually need it. Remember those times when you got utterly-no, inhumanely rejected, used and manipulated? When you were made to believe you are special, but was all slyly strategized to leave you plummeting down in the empty space of isolation and self-doubt? Yes, those times are important. Important for you to know that no human promise, love and affection can compare to the vastness of that vacuum in your heart. Those times including the specific sensations of pain may be the times that made you decide that GOD was always there. When you fell back to ground zero, God was there. And He is still with you right now. When you are starting to feel numb again spiritually because of some mental or emotional struggles, think of those pains that pierced you. And then, think of the pain that pierced Jesus’ hands on the cross. Even if you can hardly imagine His pain, shift your focus. When He was the one, the only one, willing to tell you “I love you for who you are and I died for you to experience fulness of life again.” That, my dear, is a different kind of love. The love that even I myself cannot yet fully comprehend, but at least, there is an answer to our longings and our shortcomings. Sometimes you might struggle in the reality of God especially when circumstances become, for some, dragging and plain. Sometimes your sins overwhelm you, or rather, perfection becomes your God. But this doesn’t change the reality of God himself. He will never change His mind on you. He is forever committed to you. Oh, what love! Ain’t the best response is to fully love Him back? Not as the world taught you to love, but as God showed and revealed to you the purest kind of love.

For now, I stop making art*

I had so many burdens in my heart, pushed to the back of my mind as time went by. Parang natakpan na ng panahon. Being an artist, hindi lang naman ako composed ng pagiging artist ko. I am also a person, a daughter, a citizen, a learner, but a lost one in the overwhelming sea of adult life and art.

A time came when, I dont know anymore.

I am completely blank.

It worsened when when I went through a series of abuse and became passive as I’ve often always been. Slow to respond in situations that could’ve called for legal actions. (Though now, that is being worked out somehow)

The more I ask myself, what good can come out of me?

Should I paint my anger? Should I paint my pains? But the person–the ptsd patient in me says, I dont want to remember.

Should I then paint something beautiful? Should I just focus on something aesthetic just to sell? To make money, I say yes. But, the artist in me says, there’s something else I want to do, because that’s not where my calling as an artist lies.

Should I do installation art now, should I focus on getting my work up and about, catching atention of gallerists?
The daughter with a home to help in me says: you have more priorities than that. Those can wait.

Literally I am torn. Torn in the sea of choices. I feel so trapped, but I know, a door has opened in a way…and I can smell some glimpse of hope..hope to make sense of all these.

I remember a professor of mine told me sublimely, that I should give back to my parents first after my artistic college.

And so, I think, it has been an underlying pull in me whenever I choose not to focus on art making. For now.

Making art requires so much of your time that, even time for family is sacrificed. My outer sensibilities and human sympathy dampens as well.

And I dont want that. For how long I have to hold this, I do not know.

Hence, I let go of the pressure that I should be making more art now. How can I, if I am not even able to take care of myself first? After all, to be validated in the arts is much of a social and academic construct.

For now I am unlearning and learning to see my direction in the lens of my wretched soul, weathered by heart-wrenching experiences and lessons.

For now I just want the waters to still.

I am not making art now, but I am re-learning art. For what good could there be para pilitin mo ang isang bagay that has lost its savor in your life?

Pero, bakit ko din naman igigive up ito, and I do not and I hope not to let bitterness curb my art making.

For now, stocked up in some cloud, are my ideas and future hopes for making art once again.

For now I am a human being first-with choices (and is entitled to such choices) a daughter, and a regular part of the working force of this country.

That is it for now.

*art here means, the product of careful and intentional creative process for thepyrsuit of coming up with works to be hanged in white cube walls of galleries.

The Bliss of Normalcy

I remember the first time I felt the bliss of normalcy. People walking in the mall, buying clothes, ordering food, loitering and just people-watching…nothing was grandiose, but I envied it so, so much.

For a little while, I believe the Lord opened my senses to something very very real: I had the privilege to reflect on life’s brevity. We often want something big, something more, and something else to happen in our lives and neglect the opportunity of appreciating the “now”; of intentionally noticing the mundane, the very available things and connections we have around us. However, when we come face to face with the reality of sickness and death, that’s when we mostly tend to, start appreciating the things that were before so easily available to us. During a time when I was cleared from facing a serious threat to my health, I saw the world in new senses. My sister and I decided to eat and at that time I tasted food like I’ve never tasted before. It was just pizza hut pasta and pizza, but it tasted so delicious that I cried at the thought that I can still eat that meal and sit in a restaurant like normal people do.

During a time when I was cleared from facing a serious threat to my health, I saw the world in new senses.

Normalcy. It is defined as the state or fact of being normal. Being normal also means being mentally and physically healthy.

What if one day you wake up, and suddenly you’re not healthy anymore? Or you become faced with a loved one whose life is hanging and about to end?

It is in times when our normal lives are taken from us that we see and experience the real luxury of life: simple daily-living and state that we often turn a deaf ear to. When life is a few months, few days, a few minutes away from terminal illness or death- we suddenly notice the boring days of our normal lives. Even basic life problems seem luxurious…because at least we can function and solve such problems.

With this truth, if we are healthy, breathing, and able to eat some meals a day, let’s put a little effort to say: Thank You Lord for my normal life. I CAN walk in malls or parks. I CAN watch movies and sunsets. I CAN go to my work and face the stresses of my day. I CAN eat my favorite viand and dessert. I CAN study and cram for tomorrow’s exam. I CAN care for my kids and think about their snacks for school. I CAN still be normal me, even if nothing grand is happening, I am so privileged to be living, breathing and functioning human being.

Acknowledege what change that can bring to how we see and give importance and appreciate our lives now? What can we choose to be grateful for? What can we do for others who are suffering?

Sometimes, there is a “too late”. These are the moments that our chances and choices turn into regrets. May we live up to the verse:

Ecclesiastes 12:1
“Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them;”

This is a letter to God. Just pouring out my thoughts, excuse my inconsistent tenses.

20171006_173942[1]

Thank You, for another year. Truly this is undeserved, but your mercy surpasses my disqualifications.

2018 was a year full of unimaginable trials for me…things, from my 2017 that I still question up ‘till now, but Your love gives me hope.

As I mull over this first day of January, 2019, I cannot help but worry.

There are so many things I want to do; which scuffle repetitiously in my mind.

In my 25th year of existence, in which I have already consumed half of, what should I be doing? What should I be prioritizing?

The gait of youthful passion still dances in my limbs; and oh, how I want to do so many things in so little time! Yet, am I spreading myself too thinly?

Here comes the thought of validation. Should earthly standard of rewards be one of my focus this year? So I can feel validated, so I can have the license to be called “good” and credible in my craft? How come it’s not coming my way? Darn, I get frustrated.

Yet my heart beats for passions that are out of such ways. Passions I hope to pursue, if time would permit me, this year.

May I just not be hampered by my unforgiving mood and feelings. Speaking of, this area is also what I wish to manage more in my life. I am still learning though. Thank You for Your patience.

And mental health? Yes, I would like to still pursue such utterance of my soul. I’ve had backlogs in my vlogging but I do hope to share more about how You save me everyday. It has been a rocky road indeed, but endurance is key. I should focus more, huh?

Finance? Oh..dear. I’ve come to realize that making money is also a passion. I only get to have seasonal money, but it’s not really my passion. However, I also proved that You, oh Lord never fails to provide where You call us.

So far, I am excited about this year. I do not know what is ahead, and I am honestly anxious and afraid if my plans won’t work out. But as long as I stay with You, right? You are the True Vine. And I just want to be useful for YOU this year. Use me, help me and make me a blessing to others.

One step of faith at a time.

Yours,

Chloe

I don’t know

​Okay so, I guess I am tired of saying that I have such a structured plan in life. To be honest, I don’t know and often I am really just confused. 

“How are you?” 

Old friends ask me this.

 (The question I dread the most, is this default conversational question) 

Reality is your heart is breaking down, your knees weak from keeping firm on the ground. But then the mind automatically comes up with a perfect template of an acceptable answer: 

I’m okay (I’m confused)

 I am now planning to (but so unsure and still undecided) do this and that, 

and alongside that I also plan to pursue this (making oneself sound like wonderwoman)

 so that will help support the career path I want (trying to make things look like it has a clear direction)

 (If only I can explain how I ended up here, why I’m not okay, why I’m still unsure of things…but of course that’s impossible: limited time, limited connection to the person,  like would he/she even care)

So, the other person nods in agreement and says: oh wow, that’s really good. Keep at it.  

You leave and wish that they’d not hope on you or expect anything from you.You wish that they’d forget everything they heard.

Once again self, you made a great facade there. Very discreet. Hands down to your mask.

Why we should listen to Teenagers

​It has been quite some time since I last wrote on this blog. Well in my busyness as a high school teacher, I’ve never felt so preoccuppied almost all of the time. However in my a year and a half school year of teaching, I definitely would write no other topic than this one. 
I was 22 when I started teaching High Schoolers. I wasn’t exactly prepared because I absolutely have no idea what kind of behavioral tendencies students have at this age. I mean, I was used to teaching either kids or college studes and being in my early 20’s, I kinda forgot how my teenage years looked like.
All I know is that high school is such a tentative stage of life. Nothing is very much defined yet, not even a person’s full identity. So I felt that this is going to be just a passing time for me. That I couldn’t really gain much from these bunch of amorphous personalities. I just expect to teach and go home and earn money. 
But after more than a year, I proved myself wrong. 
Yes indeed, high school is such a psychedelic stage of life. People are excited, motivated, and all fired-up. Even the quiet ones have deep ideas running wildly in their heads. It’s like a different world, a different community of these young and fresh spirits. It’s such a nice contrast to the standard of life that our society has developed. There are not much underlying issues yet, but some of them are showing evidences of it. Which is quite good also for me as an observer because I’m learning how adult issues start. This is also the time when their passions and interests become more evident, and it’s amusing to see them become avid fans of different things. 
They’re like colorful flowering buds, some are already popped out brightly while others still reserved. It’s just a sad fact that soon many of them might just end up being conformed to the norms of our society. That soon they will have to find the standard “cookie cutter” of adulthood and be defined by those expectations.
But before those dreadful things happen, I wouldn’t want to miss the wisdom I’ve been getting from these teenagers. And perhaps it’s also important to note that in the first place, it kinda helped that being a young adult, I am not that “mature” yet in the sense that I am still interested at many people without much prejudice of them. So I think being interested is a key. Being a good and willing listener is really a great way to learn from them.
So here are some notable encounters.

This one student taught me that it’s okay to be awkward

She’s a smart, talented and awkward girl. But, she admits to herself that she feels awkward all the time and that most of her actions are just spur of the moment. 
I find it really cute, but why did I dread my awkwardness before? There was absolutely nothing wrong with it. Even if it means I’m not attractive to guys. I mean, being awkward is fine and it’s a kind of personality, just like those upbeat, confident ones. They’re different but they’re both wonderful.
I think in this society where we are expected to act in an acceptable way, we miss the beauty and  originality of those people who are..well, awkward. Meeting such people who wouldn’t try hard to be “normal” kinda soothed the awkward side of me as well. And eventually, the awkward conversation turns out to be the most genuine one. Well, I think ultimately it’s the honest, mask-less person that makes the talk worth while. 
Cheers to the awkward and introvert in us. 🙂

Another student taught me to be authoritative.
Even if he’s young, he has an admirable sense of authority over himself.
He’s the commonly misunderstood guy in school, mostly by teachers. Maybe because he’d be too aggresive sometimes. But it doesn’t end there.
He taught me to demand. Not in a bad way, but to be ambitious and have that attitude of asserting what you think would make your ideas possible. He loves grand and he loves coming out with the best things. Talking to him is like a tour in creative wonderland. He’s a melting pot of ideas, always boiling and ready to steam. 
What could possibly be the danger he’d face? Well, if this society would tell him to shut up. To be toned down, to be less aggressive. There couldn’t be a worse threat to his strength than for him to tolerate the status quo. I hope he won’t quiet down. A lot of our ideas die down because we don’t fight for it..
So being assertive, aggressive and ambitious is not a bad thing in itself. It’s for us to understand why such a driving force is important in our society, and where it can be possibly harnessed for the benefit of many.

On the other hand, another student taught me to smile at people, to hug people and to not mind talking out her thoughts
. (Mindfully though)
Oftentimes when we grow into adulthood, we tend to go back to our shell. We become awkward in hugging our admired friends and even in smiling at them with enthusiasm. Like, it becomes awkward to be happy and smiley. Also, we’d rather hide our thoughts and honest but constructive criticisms because we are bound with fears. I don’tknow how many people now still like it better when they are confronted-not only with good things about them but also their possible areas of development. Perhaps if this is our attitude, (hopefully it becomes mine) we wont grow up to be cold, close-minded, stuck-in-life adults. Learning and self-improvement is a lifetime. And personally I admire friends who’d tell me what’s wrong with me, instead of just praising me in the good things I project. 
So, smile, hug, say it with honesty! 

Lastly there’s this student who taught me to say “no”.
Very few times in our lives do we meet people whom we would learn much from. Although life taught me that people come and go, there are people who stayed in my heart, even if they’re not with me anymore. 
There are times, as a young adult, I am beginning to be entangled with my own issues and outside issues. It leaves me unable to see my options well, because I tend to go for the more accepted, less destructive, and safer way. Even if I don’t necassarily like my decision. One of my students confronted me in a way about this. I’m glad he told me that I tend to people please- not to offend me, but to make me look at myself in the mirror. In his young age, being untangled by other life issues, he sees a simple picture to my dilemma. And he tells me about it, just making me realize that I have a choice and that I can choose to say no, because that’s what I would really honestly say anyway. 

You see, these kids have fresh eyes. They see problems as situations with possible and even simple solutions. They may not be mature in terms of age, but then their season has its significance. In a Ted Talk by Kate Simonds, a 17 year old girl, she voiced out the truth about how teenagers think. That they have the capacity to solve things and to empathize. She mentioned a study that according to research in Stanford Uni, adult brain pathways  are more consistent  than those of teenagers’. Although biologically, adult brains are more connected, this doesn’t mean less advantage to the young brain. Having more spontaneous and scattered channels, they tend to be more creative. Although they don’t readily have the capacity to see the bigger picture, it is in the simple and small situations that adults can usually complicate, but teens can calculate. 
Even in the Bible, God used young people. Timothy was young, Samuel was young, David was also young when he was called. But I believe each life season has its wisdom to offer. And I don’t think it will harm us so much if we give it a chance. After all, the teenage stage is just a passing time. Soon the fruiftul amd active years will be gone, their voices will fade and tame down naturally. And after all, that’s what their stage really needs: to be recognized and listened to. And that is why, sometimes we should listen to teenagers. They’re fun by the way. 🙂 

The Difficult Christian

Admittedly, today’s Christianity is difficult, especially at the onset of us “millenials”, the self-entitled ones. It has reached it’s plateau, from its once promising revival during the years of oppression in our history. God seems to be neglected now than ever before. We are becoming lukewarm.

Let me introduce to you a person named Nebuchadnezzar. Familiar? Probably he is because he has been recorded in history books as a great king of Babylon. You’ve probably heard about the hanging gardens of Babylon, an evidence of this king’s glorious reign. Indeed, he had a glittering pinnacle of success. Babylon was his trophy.

But these history books don’t record the most important matter in his life.

In the Bible, Nebuchadnezzar knew that there was God. Daniel did not fail to introduce God to Him. Yet many times, he did several acts and made several decrees that could make one raise his brow and wonder on the consistency of his acts. He even praised and recognized God, the God of Daniel, Shadrach and Meshach. But the sovereignty of God in his life didn’t ring a bell. God didn’t affect him at a personal level.

We see here, the problem of Nebuchadnezzar’s condition is the same as ours. Yes there are plenty of churches around, evangelistic activities, special events, and what-not, but there is little evidence of a personal experience and encounter with God.

We are like Nebuchadnezzar, we see God as the God of this person and that person, but most of the time unconsciously we don’t know Him. We know there is God, but there are places in our hearts and areas in our lives that doesn’t seem to get affected by our relationship with Him. Or probably, if you are the intelligent one, your intelligence always gets in the way, forever justifying your own humanistic philosophies. There is an outward proffession, but there’s some trouble in the inward confession that Christ is Lord of all our being. Once we get out of the church, the ripples of our worship slowly fades away, and before we know it, the heat of our spirituality is lukewarm again.

There is an outward proffession, but there’s some trouble in the inward confession that Christ is Lord of all our being

Godly conversations seem to be awkward nowadays. It’s so hard to find people whom you can share God’s workings in your life. God is almost often excluded in the conversation and not even given a thought. It’s easy to post about earthly achievements but it’s hard to literally express joy when you find a gem in the Bible.

Instead of sharing stories about Bible characters and how these characters are real, once-existed people with much wisdom to gain from, we talk about big personalities, politicians, celebrities, or even our most popular classmate or colleague. The Old Testament records the same stumbles and mistakes that people do now, but we never seem to learn from them.

Instead of glorifying God in our talk, we subtly boast about our own gains. We talk about material gains, but we don’t thank God for times of pains and our ugly days which tests our character.

Instead of confessing to one another our faults and sins, we talk about other people’s shortcomings, taking advantage of their flaws to ease out our own.

We may have godly music and songs, but most of the time we listen to them because it’s our “taste” not because it’s what God wants to hear in our hearts, singing melodies to Him.

Instead of being vulnerable, we act self-dependent, sometimes self-righteous. We hide our weaknesses. We want people to love only the “good” part of us.

Instead of praying for a difficult situation, we solicit emotional concerns from our friends until we realize we are just spreading our issues.

Instead of seeing the good in others and responding in unconditional love and grace to their character flaws, we judge so easily, spoiling good friendships we could have.

The practice of Godly living is almost gone these days. But the person who finds it finds joy and real treasure which is something that is beyond any possible human mystery unlocked.

God is still gracious to us, just like he had been gracious to king Nebuchadnezzar. He may have sent deprivation to this king, but it was all for his good. How fortunate this man is! That God is still  concerned with him despite his selfish pride. God is the same to us ’till now. He never changes. He’s still concerned, not with how the church performs, but how YOU commit to that relationship you have with him. (I’m speaking to myself here as well)

God’s call is clear. And if He cannot call us, He’ll scream or do means just to call our attention. That’s why the years of deprivation in the King’s life was actually a blessing in disguise. Because of that, he knew he had nothing. “My reason returned to me..” he said. And it’s God’s grace that he was able to come to that conclusion. 

It was just recently impressed in me how God greatly honors our wills and choices, hence there is God’s permissive will. But at the end of the day, we are still spiritually lean, not until we lay off all the other “gods” we place in between our relationship with the Father. His perfect will is still the place of quiet rest and certainty. Even if everything feels uncertain. God is enough and learning to trust Him will bring joy, peace and contentment.

Perhaps it’s high time that the question we ask to nonbelievers is the same question we ask ourselves:

Do I have a personal relationship with God? And is this relationship the most important relationship of all in my life?

It is one thing to believe in Christ as our Saviour, but to trust Him as Lord of all our lives is another. May in this short life that we live, we live to glorify Him and seek Him with all our hearts, soul and mind.

Still my Savior

Days pass filled with uncertainty
Fears surround me, hidden in labored smiles
I always wonder what good could there be
In this world full of darkness and anxiety

Often we do things that cause our own troubles
And then we run to You
And I wonder..
Do you ever get tired of our weary souls?

We cry, we cringe
We pray for answers, we pray for deliverance
But sometimes silence seems to be
The answer that can’t convince

But as pillars of cloud and fire
You promise to be my eternal guide
To lead me through the waters and
Abide with me through the valleys

You are still my Savior,
Still the one that bore the cross
Everything I thought gain
I count it now as loss–

So I can seek Your face
So I can know You more
I will trust in You my Savior
Day by day, all the more..