Sunday, November 17, 2013

At the risk of being called by John as "dramatic"

... I published the beginning of my confessions. He's always on the web so I am not sure if he will discover my blog one day. Man, I felt so much better after I wrote that post. I actually started writing it on my phone last Friday on my way home. I had my Talkboard app capture my thoughts as they crossed my mind. Inside the car, at the photo studio at work, during break times--during those "in-between moments." Just needed to deal with the mental torture.

However, if there's any bright side to this, this situation revealed the fibers of our relationship. How strong each strand is and how it can be strengthened. How profound our bond is and how meaningless everything around us is actually. All that matters is that for each breathing moment, you feel alive. I want John to experience that. To feel loved, to feel happy and to feel that he has a strong grip on life.

I wonder how many wives my age go through something like this?

Truth is, I have been trying to repress things. John dislikes it when I am being a softee. He wants me tough. Like a man! He abhors drama. For him, you recognize the bleeding pain then move forward from there. While I tend to be like that 99% of the time, being threatened by cancer is something that I have no control of and it just shook the boat in the most horrible way you can imagine. Then unknowingly, this whole thing was eating me. Tried to not be dramatic with last night's post but maybe there's a little tinge to it. Just a little. ;-)

I am beginning to see how difficult it can be to not have a support system around you. Probably, it's more apt to say that I have to admit that I can't go through it alone anymore. I go to work every day like a machine, with no trace of brokenness or pain. Just functioning. Same daily programming. I am experience-free when it comes to being a wife to a patient with cancer. That part John doesn't realized. But I've been tested by various circumstances and I only know one way of facing battles--confront them.

The crux of this situation we're confronted with is straight and simple. Life and health are not a given. The only given is that we are all on this journey.

John and I intend to go through it together.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Confessions Of A Cancer Patient's Wife

Since we came home from that July trip to the Emergency Room in Legacy, I've been living in fear. When the doctors painted a clearer picture of what was in front of us, it felt worse than hell breaking loose. This Big-C word just invaded our lives and seriously shook the happy boat. We were powerless. Speechless. As though on cue, I held back my tears, removed myself from emotions, overlooked the drama and decided to wear the tougher cookie badge. That fateful moment demanded for me to stay clear-headed. My role as a wife, as a best friend, as next of kin just got challenged. My purpose as a human got redefined. I was initially incredulous but those lab results won't lie. 

Instant rewind took place in my mind. Three years ago, when I decided to marry him, I knew that the likelihood of things such as this happening is high. This year, reality surfaced. 

The findings shouldn't have come as a surprise. We've made trips to Asia (Philippines, Thailand) on an "exploratory mission." We were looking for cheaper options outside the United States. This was after we've done initial doctor visits here. Also, our research already revealed the health scare story. However, it is true that when reality hits you, it does let out an excruciating bite. The situation was unbearable, indescribable and unfathomable. I can't find the right words to say. Learning that the one you love the most is being threatened by a major illness is the worst feeling ever. However, that very second, I refrained from displaying any sort of reaction as I reached for John's hands. For heaven knows how he took that blow. It was an attack in his life, in what he holds dear, in what he feels was his last chance at having a happy stay on Earth. His feelings were far more important than what I was going through inside. Horrible is an understatement. I just knew that from that day forward, we'd have to try very, very hard to keep our heads above water. Not by choice but by circumstance, we were signed up for a wild, insane ride.

Confessions Of A Cancer Patient's Wife

If it isn't clear yet, John won the lottery in the cancer department. The kind of winning that nobody wants. He also scored a Powerball. He acquired the rarest type of it. Mantle Cell Lymphoma. The weeks that followed were spent on blood-work, biopsies, unnecessary tests and bypassing medical access red tapes. We've been blessed with awesome doctors and nurses at Compass Oncology who did nothing but pumped a tremendous amount of joie de vivre and enthusiasm into our spirits. Everyone was hoping for John to overcome this battle. 

Tonight, I cannot believe that I am writing this. Perhaps, I just need to. Offloading is a skill that I need to have. Maybe this blog can help me. I've never discussed John's cancer story with anyone except with some key people in my life. It can be devastating. It can make you feel alone especially when I don't know anybody here and my family is so far away. Or very busy to care about me.  

Normally, the only side people see is that of the cancer patient (or survivor). The part that is obscured by surface realities is the other big chunk of the story. That person has his or her own battle too. Am I being self-centered if I confess that I am very scared to lose the best thing that ever happened to me?

Three chemotherapy sessions and monthly updates to relatives later, I found myself waking up one morning feeling really knocked out. Weeks prior to that, I felt that I was running low on optimism. The sadder truth is that, I felt powered by false energies. My motivations were coming from bills piling up, food on the table, responsibilities at work, website management and of course, hope that we'll get out of this situation one day. 

It doesn't help that John's hitting emotional valleys sometimes. We're not benefiting either from his being stubborn to take the medicines prescribed by doctors. He questions everything and refuses to take anything until he's done his research about the side effects. Well, that is wise. But the negativity that comes from it causes some unnecessary toxic moments. We'd have small arguments about him doing that and those instances can immediately kill my drive, wipe out my will to go on and just say, "I don't know anymore." When he skips his pills, I feel that he is making selfish decisions. He is putting himself at risk and that will mean more health trouble. But who knows. Another thing that bugs me the most is that he cares so much about the money. He is scared of draining out our savings (well, there isn't a lot). I'd tell him it is none of his business. I will take care of it even though I don't really know where to source those funds. I just know that I can look after those. His primary role is to be healthy and to stay positive. But then he'd come back to me and say, "I am positive. I am positive that it (this cancer) sucks."

His humor is an indication that we'll be okay one day. That we will beat this thing.

Heaven knows how sad it is to go through this with John and I am the only one here. No family, no friends. It can be lonely. In case you didn't know, I am still dealing with my dad's death. But as I have mentioned, I have to be the tougher cookie this time. I can't allow our happy marriage to be ruined by cancer. Worse, by petty disagreements. We don't really argue.

I guess, what I am trying to get at is that, I am finally able to admit that I am not the solid egg shell as you've perceived me to be. I am afraid to lose him and it's been killing me all along. There are days that I feel so bummed out and I just try to overlook things because the realities of income generation can't be affected by anything related to emotions. I am also an upcoming entrepreneur, a web marketing manager and I am trying to  balance things out: his welfare, our marriage and my future. 

My weight has been going down. Probably because of loss of appetite. I feel that my maturity levels accelerated the past two to three months. I've discovered the ability to love beyond what I thought was my limit. I've seen inner strengths that never manifested in my younger years. I think that's what real love does to people. When they find it, when they find the "one."

As I have shared here, "My life's game plan right now is to make sure that he's the happiest person on Earth everyday. I've been doing that for the past three years but I will explore more ways on how to do so. If you see me smiling at work or anywhere, it is because every minute of the day, thoughts of him and our memories would play rewind and remind me that I have to be stronger. It is unnecessary to be emotional. It is unimportant to be dramatic. It is of grave importance that my head is free from "head stuff" and mini-movies and stay on top of things. This way, I can help him chart things out and together, we can make better decisions."

If you're reading this blog, please give your man an extra hug. I will go and give mine a thousand. :-)

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

One Photo A Day or Project 365 is taking a pause

Or has taken a pause.

If you noticed, I haven't religiously followed the prescribed schedule. There'd been some serious health concerns at the "for keeps house" and that, on top of my regular work, has been consuming all my energies and time.

Last July, I marked my second year here in the States. The original plan was for me to write a blog post about how our extremely prudent ways allowed us to survive here in the US while having a quality lifestyle. A life experience that I figured people can grab some major insights from. I also wanted to debunk some myths about this country that people back home tend to believe and present the reality. However, J and I were confronted with a health scare.

Trust me, I'd love to write and take pictures. But right now, there are bigger things that I need to attend to. It's that period in our relationship where I am required to remain clear-headed and to be the stronger person. J has always been very loving, kind and thoughtful. He has the purest soul and most selfless heart. I can't believe how this relationship has opened my whole being and revealed my ability to love unconditionally.

My life's game plan right now is to make sure that he's the happiest person on Earth everyday. I've been doing that for the past three years but I will explore more ways on how to do so. If you see me smiling at work or anywhere, it is because every minute of the day, thoughts of him and our memories would play rewind and remind me that I have to be a tougher cookie. It is unnecessary to be emotional. It is unimportant to be dramatic. It is of grave importance that my head is free from "head stuff" and mini-movies and stay on top of things. This way, I can help him chart things out and together, we can make better decisions.

I can deal with my own emotions later. But right now, I am keeping my strengths together for him, for us. This, while going to the office daily, as though nothing major is bugging me or is happening outside of work. :)

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Project 365: One Photo A Day #017

Restaurant Linens from LinenTablecloth

ONE SWEET DAY! That would be the title of this event, if I have to name this styled shoot that I did with Seriously Cupcakes and LinenTablecloth. These scrumptious beauties blended well with the pastel-colored linens that we brought with us. Our pink napkins matched perfectly with the strawberry cupcakes while the mint muffins softened the appeal of our valley green napkins.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Project 365: One Photo A Day #016

"My address is like my shoes. It travels with me. I abide where there is a fight against wrong."

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Project 365: One Photo A Day #015

Canby Ferry Dock in Canby, Oregon

I did not plan to take a pause with this mini-project of mine but we are going through some health scare. That required me to take it easy on the blogging front and focus on my work and spending more time with my husband. Not that things have gotten better, but today, I started to browse through some old files and found this sweet photo of John's daughter Alyssa and her visiting friend, Clemence. Two teenage girls, trying to experience what Oregon summer is like. {Remember to click the photo to enlarge it.}

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Project 365: One Photo A Day #014

Project 365: One Photo A Day #014
ADVANCE PARTY. First blooms of Spring.
These adorable pastel pops caught my eye! After months of rain, gray and cold, here's Mother Nature telling me that Spring is coming finally. Noticed that when I started seeing more bees hanging out in the garden.

Project 365: One Photo A Day #013

Project 365: One Photo A Day #013
Homemade Waffles topped with strawberries and whipped cream.
Saturday morning is the best time of the week for me and the best husband. Primarily because it's the perfect day for oversleeping. Also, it's my turn to man the kitchen. We're not keeping tabs of who should do this or who should do that. It's just that, weekends are the only days where I get to spoil my man. I cook, I bake and do things where we can be together. Unlike during weekdays when work consumes all my energy.

So for this weekend, we decided to have some homemade waffles for brunch. The photo above captured exactly how these waffles tasted. Very inviting, if not indulging. They didn't taste like the typical ones you buy at the supermarket. This one has some fruity, custard flavor in it, thanks to the eggs and the apple sauce. If you want to try making them at home, feel free to use the recipe below.

Easy Homemade Waffle Recipe

2 cups of flour
1/8 cup of sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups milk
1/8 cup oil
4 tbsp of apple sauce
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt

1. Pre-heat your waffle iron.
2. In a large bowl, blend dry ingredients. Set aside.
3. In a separate bowl, mix wet ingredients and add to the dry mixture.
4. Mix and pour into a hot waffle iron. You will know that your waffle is done when steam no longer escapes from the waffle iron and the waffle is lightly browned and crispy.
5. Top with your choice of syrup or with whipped cream and fruits, just how we did it this weekend.


Saturday, March 2, 2013

Project 365: One Photo A Day #012

Bees are Spring's foot soldiers. They prepare the flowers to bloom to signal the start of the new season.

Project 365: One Photo A Day #011

Life is what happens while you're busy making plans. - John Lennon

How Do You Face Challenging Moments At Work

(An essay I wrote during a job interview/exam in 2011, when I was still in Manila.)

TWO SITUATIONS challenged my stead recently and I'd like to share how I aced my career life's scorecard by playing like a cool cat and allowing professional maturity to prevail.

First off would be our company's plan to revamp the old web page for our physical malls. It was a long story of unnecessary layers of pride and office drama. It felt like I was in the middle of two conflicting poles that will never meet since we had two approving officers with opposing views. Making things worse was the waiting game, because designs had to go through a process at the Advertising Department. After submitting six wire frames and mock-up pages, gaining that positive stamp appeared to be getting a long way.

Since I was up versus time crunch, I had to move forward and make decisions instead of being a dead weight, while waiting for the designs to come back (after forwarding to the Designers' Department my seniors' feedback). Backed by my understanding of what my seniors wanted to see and fusing their views with what I believed will work for the company, I did a collaboration with a Web Developer, who was also well-versed in Web Designs.

At the end of the day, I submitted the designer team's work and my experiment. Surprisingly, my seniors (Both Vice Presidents, who are based in the US) approved the latter. And today, the web page or mini-site is live and running and gaining awesome web traffic.

It felt good because the approval made me feel that I did great. That although the shortcuts to change normally don't get sweet endings, my taking the call stood out like an exception. The success of that project felt like a soothing side effect when you listen to some gut feel.

The other challenging moment that moved me was when some close co-workers started to leave the company. It was difficult to see them go or to turn down offers from their companies but my plain reason for staying was I see myself in a better position if I will hold my ground. There will be better opportunities but that will be in the future. While I can't question their desire for greener pastures, I can't buy their reason for leaving which was the lack of employee development programs in the company.

My philosophical take on this is that employee development--as the main ingredient to ensure an organization's continued success--is a shared ground between the employer and the employee. It is about discovering competencies necessary to keep the company's growth going. It is also about exploring an employee's natural strengths and taking relevant steps to push the real change to the surface.

From the employer's perspective, it's about defining the upward mobility or career path for the employees and establishing a reward system. Companies do these by really focusing on whether someone has the potential to go two or three levels beyond where he is today. The way to go is by customizing a developmental plan tailored for each employee where abilities, motivations and growth opportunities are highly-factored in.

Employees, on the other hand, respond positively when they have clear expectations and are guided by specific strategies that they believe can help them maximize their potential and will improve their performance. They view "employee development" as a platform where they can embrace measures that will help them correct difficulties that interfere with productivity and their overall effectiveness. They also see it as an avenue where they can enhance skills required for decision-making, priority management, resource development, effective communication and task completion through effective delegation.

I believe I have correctly answered the question but I would like to add that my answers have somewhat of an academic feel to them and that I believe there should also be other considerations when facing odd situations: empathy and encouragement ought to be on top for example, in a leadership form that could be akin to "tough love," because it is people that one is dealing with and should always be placed with utmost importance, not just textbook issues and answers. I believe that's what maturity means. Knowing what matters more, for now and in the long run. That is how I faced events. With high level of professional maturity and sense of optimism.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Project 365: One Photo A Day #010

Wedding floral design at the Garden of Gentle Breeze, Japanese Garden and Wedding Venue in Oregon
Flowers are nature's gift to you on your wedding.

Mother Nature deserves her name. Every beautiful inspiration springs from everything that she created. Natural pops of color, thanks to blooms that surround us. Exquisite execution of various hue combinations that can only be done by a creative force such as her. A meaningful fusion of shapes and sizes that can only be a handiwork of someone who can gracefully deliver magic. This world is her canvas.

*PHOTO taken at Garden of Gentle Breeze, a Japanese garden and wedding venue in Corvallis, Oregon.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Project 365: One Photo A Day #009

Classy Pumpkin Creme mini-cakes
From kitchen staples to magical desserts! This is what happens when you have real pumpkin puree, whipped cream and homemade sweetened condensed milk in your kitchen. Put them all together and you'll have instant fantastic treats for everyone. Yum!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Project 365: One Photo A Day #008

Home Table Linen from LinenTablecloth
Instant elegance at home is possible.

An afternoon that is reminiscent of a typical English tea time. That's exactly what I was thinking when I took this photo. But don't be fooled by its fancy look! This 54 inch square golden vines home table linen in ivory is surprisingly affordable. Notice the dramatic design.  It suggests a sophisticated and modern look while at the same time, exuding a certain amount of vintage appeal. This image was taken during the home linen inspiration shoot organized by LinenTablecloth last February 14.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Project 365: One Photo A Day #007

One Photo A Day #007 - Corvallis Boat Ramp and Sports Park
Willamette River in Corvallis, Oregon

When we found Corvallis in Oregon as the perfect place to start our life in the United States, we didn't know that Wikipedia understated its beauty. The photo above just shows you how staying in this city can be a treat. I took this image at the Willamette Boat Landing and Sports Park in SE Crystal Lake Dr., during one of my strolls with the best husband.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Project 365: One Photo A Day #006

Linen inspiration shoot with LinenTablecloth
MUSIC & TEA. Food for your body and soul.
Imagine this charming setup to be a regular scene at your house. An inviting acoustic guitar that teases you the minute you walk in to your living room. A tea set that features flower shapes reminiscent of a Japanese garden. Plus, an elegant mother of lace tablecloth that adds sophisticated beauty to your table. Don't you just want to say, "Yes, please!"

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Oregon Weddings: Japanese Garden "Garden of Gentle Breeze" as Wedding Venue

Picture Perfect. Budget-Friendly. Idyllic Setting. Celebrate your most precious day in the beauty of a Japanese garden called Garden of Gentle Breeze located in Corvallis, Oregon. Imagine exchanging marriage vows in this ten-acre land of wonder where nothing but "wow" elements can be found. It offers a unique and scenic backdrop for your wedding, reception and photo session. Also known as Ga Fu En, its beautifully landscaped grounds and serene atmosphere create an ideal venue for an outdoor celebration on your Special Day. Its bride-friendly rates sweeten the deal.

While the old adage that "you get what you pay for" is true, choosing Garden of Gentle Breeze as your wedding venue in Oregon has as much to do with taste and personality as it does with budget. View the garden's affordable packages on its Weddings page. Owner Jay Gray will be more than glad to hear from budget brides like you!

Japanese Garden in Oregon - Garden of Gentle Breeze

Japanese Garden in Oregon - Garden of Gentle Breeze

 Japanese Garden in Oregon - Garden of Gentle Breeze

Japanese Garden in Oregon - Garden of Gentle Breeze

Japanese Garden in Oregon - Garden of Gentle Breeze

Japanese Garden in Oregon - Garden of Gentle Breeze

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Project 365: One Photo A Day #005

Healthy Midnight Snack!

Every once in a while, you let out the kid in you! Tonight, I simply prepared a bowl of blueberries, cereal and  Haagen Daz Vanilla Swiss Almond. All these treats have been made amazingly affordable by WinCo Foods in Tigard. Well, my trip to dreamland in a few minutes will definitely be a happy one. :-)

Project 365: One Photo A Day #004

My Choco Crackling.

Project 365: One Photo A Day #003

This chair cover styling photo is still part of the wedding inspiration shoot that I participated in on January 23. Everything that you see in this image is focused on the theme "Affordable Elegance." Don't be fooled by its chic and sophisticated look. The silver organza chair sash looks stunning but actually, it's amazingly affordable. LinenTablecloth sells them for only $0.72 each.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Project 365: One Photo A Day #002

Affordable Elegance. Green is the color for 2013 Weddings.

"Have a dream wedding for less! Elegance through simplicity. Luxe details. Affordable Green." That was the main theme of this wedding table inspiration shoot that I participated in last January 23rd at the Skybridge Terrace of World Trade Center Portland.

The biggest names in the wedding community made this shoot possible, including party favor industry leader Beau-coup and leading online linen retailer, LinenTablecloth. Danielle of Budget Bride Gossip and Hung Phan of HQPhan Photography actually organized this shoot and put together the powerhouse of wedding vendors behind it. Frank Blanchard of La Vie Flowers through his stylish floral centerpieces made sure that our table ensemble looked  inviting. Donna Anderson of Couture Table dazzled the table linen setup with her delicately designed champagne flutes. Wow, oh wow! Everything, down to the smallest detail, was just ohh-la-la. From tablecloths and runners to party favors, the table looked as though the stage is set for some sweet romance. Definitely the stylish appeal that every bride is looking for!

According to Pantone, different shades of green will be the bridal community's most prominent wedding palette this 2013. Through this shoot, the best husband and I were able to see why. The picture above reveals the answer.

WRITER'S NOTE. An article focused on this wedding inspiration shoot will be posted soon!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Project 365: One Photo A Day #001

Ashland, Oregon

"If cloudy weather is your thing, then this is your heaven."

That's according to the best husband. Oregon is a dream come true for me. Not because I wanted to move to the United States but because I've always wanted a "cooler" weather. Pretty understandable if this wish is coming from someone who grew up in an island, in a tropical country. The Philippines is a beautiful collection of cultures and islands, especially the west side. Palawan is heaven's gift to mankind, to anybody who is searching for serenity and wanting a quick run to somewhere homey. But going back to this photo, this was taken in Ashland, Oregon on a winter day. We were on a long road trip to San Diego, California.