JOY in finding one’s Prince

For my 40th birthday, I wanted a view of still waters and a beautiful mountain. And so when a friend mentioned about her beautiful stay at Ashinoko Prince Hotel in Hakone, that is famous for its view of Mt. Fuji against the peaceful 3000 year old Ashinoko crater-lake, I immediately booked one night at one of its premium rooms. So we planned on having tea at the balcony, a picnic near the lake and a run around this circular hotel. 

But it rained so hard we did not see Mt. Fuji at all. And worse, Adana had moderate to high fever all day, all night that I ended up staying in the room without a view, hearing only the rush of wind and smashing rain disguised by a massive cloud of fog. 

Pido gently reminded me that while things did not turn out as planned, my heart should be in a position of gratitude. After all, there could be beautiful surprises in the rain.

And so I spent time reading, praying and reflecting. Everything around me reminded me of how my life has been and should be. 

The beautiful hotel, reminded me that one can age gracefully. It felt like entering a facility that was once grand years ago but has chosen to embrace its oldness. I loved the hall with a red carpet and golden ceiling that led to the rooms. I loved the winding stairs that were understated elegance; the walls of various materials ; the wooden furniture that added so much character to the place. I loved the French restaurant with high ceiling and a 180-view of the lake. The walkway towards the lake with towering trees stood tall and charming despite the intermittent fog that fell like a soft blanket. The onsen that was almost empty when I had the chance to take a dip was exactly what I needed. The view of boats and the sound of birds and splash of water all made me feel really grateful for all the 40 years.

That while so many things did not turn out as planned in my life, specially the past decade, I was reminded that there was so much to be thankful for. My past decade has been filled with heartbreak, all cannot be seen in my Instagram and FB posts. I felt the most rejected and deeply hurt for things that only God and closest friends will ever know. I felt the most afraid for my life during the big earthquake that hit Japan while on my 9th month carrying Adana; the most helpless when my mom had a heart attack on the eve of Adana’s birthday. I cried so much more this past decade than I have in my life the rest of the years. 

Yet, my heart remains grateful. I have experienced the comforting, fatherly and unconditional, faithful love of God in all those times. That while the past decade has not been the best, I also experienced the best of God’s surprises and provision, all of which I did not feel I deserved.

So on my birthday morning, although sleepless, I dressed up and spent so much time in worship. Whether things turn out well or not in my life, my God remains good. That is my place. Right at the feet of my Lord; in the loving arms of my Father; in the sweetest embrace of my Prince. 

This love changes me like no other.

Thank you my Prince for September 29th, 2:45 pm and for my Mama who fought hard to give birth to this now 40 year old. These and the blessings thereafter. 

Birthdays are God’s miracles. 

JOY in dreaming old dreams

“I dream my painting and I paint my dream.” ― Vincent van Gogh

This ability to dream is a gift as much as it is a choice. I wish I remember exactly when I first started to dream. And while I am confused whether it is the dream that happens when I sleep or the kind that is akin to a wish or fervent prayer that I am talking about, I still wish I knew.

One afternoon, our little girl woke up from a rather long nap and excitedly told me about a story which I thought was her afternoon nap dream. She said that “her Tatay was working hard; little girl was sleeping and Nanay was happy. BUT there were dinosaurs, tigers and iguana in the kitchen.” I laughed so hard that almost offended her. She could not understand why I found it so funny. I thought she was referring to the dinosaur laundry, tiger dishes that needed washing; and little iguana chores that badly needed to be done right away.” It was a funny dream.

I love funny dreams. I love them because most dreams are too serious that they become dreadful. I still remember the kindergarten graduation where everyone is expected to tell the world what he/she wants to become. Who cares if honestly the kid does not care or even understand. It is shameful (at least for the teachers and the parents) for one to stand in his/her best graduation dress and not say anything clever. And it has to be something impressive. Apparently no one tells any pre-schooler that being a doctor is not the only best thing in the world. And that people will forget anything one would say, so just say something clever anyway. I think I said something about dreaming of becoming a flight attendant. I don’t recall any wild clapping. I thought I said something really witty because I was the only one who wanted to be a flight attendant. I must be special.

I did not end up being one but I ended up dreaming other dreams. I dreamed of being a lawyer. Perhaps I just dreamed of sounding intelligent and being well dressed and I could not think of anyone else smarter than a lawyer. Secretly I thought that if given the chance (i.e. Scholarship) and if I worked hard (zero love life), there was a small good chance of becoming a good one. Maybe life has a sweet but cruel way of making me dream the right dreams. I got a generous scholarship (“just choose any law school you want and tell us what you need”) from my high school that has a foundation that gives scholarship to a selected few. I did not even take the entrance test for law school and a small voice even doubted if I could pass it. I worked other jobs, teaching and advertising. And while I enjoyed teaching, it was not my dream. While advertising was surprisingly exciting and fun, I thought I was not good at it. So I dreamed other dreams.

I dreamed of theaters, of writing, of speaking, of coaching, and of being good at something. And when I started working as a researcher then as a project manager, I dreamed of being a consultant who travels the world, talks intelligently and dresses smartly. I think everybody plainly wants to be good at something and to feel good about it. Then I dreamed of being a student again, of flying but not as a flight attendant but as a researcher, writer and speaker rolled into one.

I did a little bit of those but like many who are still dreaming, there is that shame and despair that existed side by side with hope and faith. It screams and reminds my heart to believe that I might be able to do something I really want to do. I guess, the dreaming that we do of whatever kind is a necessary ride to really get us from one point to the next. The pauses and the many detours all make us better dreamers, even when the dream fails.

I am writing this as I flip from one dream to another – to live in another country; to write a novella for that online writing class that will start next month; to go back to some meaningful work but still be with the little girl most hours of the day; to live by the beach for a month; and to write well, really well.

And there is always the dream to speak intelligently, to dress well and because I am a little too old to dream of becoming a flight attendant, to have a waistline of a young, cheerful, Asian flight attendant.

Oh, old dreams.

Here is the younger version of that dreamer finding inspiration in beautiful Hakone.