On Overwhelm

So we’re at that point again when you don’t know how to fit everything in 24 hours. Step by step. Take it one at a time. Prioritize. We’ll get the hang of this. The heart is still full. You’re okay. :)

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A Stroll Through My Garden

A Stroll Through My Garden
by Ofelia Y. Manapat
May 1996

Light is brightening my room, and so I get up, pray and have breakfast as fast as I can because I want to be in the garden. I pass through the kitchen, the Sampaloc and Caimito trees mingle with their branches with vines, orchids, and ferns hanging. As I enter the greenhouse the fish meet me. They know that I have a meal for them. Begonias and ferns give a cool and restive feeling.

The Bromeliads, Fireballs, Ojo Rojo, Crotons, red Santans and Purple Clover with lavender flowers make a perfect blend with the emerald lawn and hanging Bird’s Nest ferns, Spanish Moss or Buhok ni Esther, Buntot Pusa, Stag Horns, and yellow Oncidiums and the gorgeous Doña Aurora.

Towards the forest are the Anthuriums with different shapes and shades of red, pink and white. Nelson grew them from seed. He used to watch them and wondered why they grew so fast. Maybe it was our love that made them happy. He is still there to watch and care for the plants and me.

Palms, cycads, ferns, soft hued orchids, cymbidiums, fruit trees, and bamboo groves make a Paradise.

An old swing is still there. Our children, their cousins and their children shouted “Quiapo! Quiapo! Cubao! Cubao!” and swang and sang to their heart’s content and feasted on mulberries, banana, galo, duhat, santol and whatever fruits they picked.

An old bathtub was turned into a pond with lotus and fish. I like to pray here, meditate, and say the rosary, and think of the beauty that God made.

Our theme song was “Let’s Build a Stairway to the Sky.” We have more than one hundred fifty steps going up the hill, lined with green Bromeliads that turn red, ground orchids, a collection of Bougainvilleas of different colors.

I like to listen to the humming of birds. They make the sweetest tunes. I admire their colors. I saw one with a rich green, blue, and red like a parrot, some have yellow. Once Nelson and I watched a mother bird come back and forth to feed her baby.

Behind the house are modest African Violets of different colors. There are Spathiphyllums, Aglaonema, Dieffenbachia and ferns and Shefflera.

While I mingle with the plants I cut dry stems and leaves, sweep fallen leaves, move the plants here and there, watch for bugs and pests, add soil and pour some water over thirsty plants and then I realize that it is already past twelve.

A whole day is not enough in the garden. There is always something to do and so many to admire. I take another glance at the giant Amaryllis and the Dutch Man’s Pipe and enter the house before dark filled with jubilation. I wish Mama and Nelson and Louie were here.

~ the above text is taken from my late grandmother’s journal. Today would have been her 96th birthday. :) Happy birthday, Uwa! I love you everyday! :)

Another birthday post here (from 2013).

On Determination

So the Universe is testing me again. Push and Pull.

Just when you think you know the way to go, something shiny and tempting is placed right in front of you before you make a turn.

Crossroads. One road with all the prestige academia demands from a faculty in engineering: a big project, international collaboration, a living legend in the scientific community as mentor, publications. I’m sure there will be lots of it if I choose to commit to this person. All planned out. Secure. Just say yes. “ASAP.”

The other road demands I let go much of the “power” I have now to make more time for what I believe matters to me. This road is not yet constructed. I’m still figuring out how to manage it. Sometimes I fail and stumble, but I’ve spent six years on this road already– as a side project. I’ve been considering flipping the picture this year, i.e. make this unsure path my priority and the established road the side project.

The heart already knows what it wants, but it’s terrifying nonetheless. I let go of a shiny thing last year around this time, too. I did not regret it. HEED was born because I chose to stay on this road.

Yes, I will let this shiny thing go… again. It will be alright. It will be alright.

On Fiction

Non-fiction books have dominated my shelf for a couple of years now. Biographies, self-help books, books on productivity, psychology, and the like. I would often read them during my free-time as a form of rest and relaxation (R&R). But last month I (finally) realized that it’s still more of studying I was doing rather than resting.

Fortunately, it so happened that I bought fiction books from a local indie bookstore over the holiday break (as always, the cover attracted me; I tend to judge a book by its cover!). I’m on my fourth book now since Christmas. It is very refreshing to read fiction! It effectively allows me to detach from reality for a while, which I think is the point of a real R&R. I can literally feel the tension in my brain muscles slowly loosening and I almost forgot just how entertaining a well-written novel can be! Books on fantasy and adventure also seem to encourage creativity as it allows you to imagine more.

Have you been too busy lately? When was the last time you read a good fiction book? Maybe it’s time to grab one from your shelf again?

Happy reading!

On Responsibilities

“More is asked of us than most people, therefore we must strive to be better than most if we are to prove ourselves worthy of that responsibility…” – Nasuada, from the book Inheritance by Christopher Paolini

2017 was about beginnings. 2018 will be about growth.

I am still not used to introducing myself as an executive director, but it is one I need to learn to embrace and live out together with all the responsibilities attached to the title. I will commit new mistakes along the way that will teach me new lessons about leadership, public relations, and life in general, among others. It is daunting, but also exciting.

First meeting of the year was successful and productive. May we face our responsibilities throughout the year with as much vigor as when we started.

Cheers to 2018! :)

On Lectures & Grades

I have a dilemma. Creating lectures and checking exams and quizzes are increasingly difficult to do when you no longer see the point of these outdated teaching and assessment techniques. :(( Probably one of the reasons why I enjoyed handling the product design class this semester. Very minimal lectures. No written exams. But students have a tangible output.

Why am I still lecturing in class? Why am I still giving exams? Because of standardization in engineering education? The lectures I can replace with an alternative, but still easier said than done due to other faculty responsibilities. The written exams and quizzes are more challenging to remove because I need to convince other faculty members (at least one; my partner next sem) to remove it as well in order to comply with Washington Accord (sections of the same courses should have the same assessment techniques).

I’m still here struggling to finish checking an exam that happened two months ago. Soon I will calculate numbers that will “assess” student learning. But even those numbers are quickly losing meaning. I am currently a student in another school where we are not given grades, but I have learned so much in just one semester. Is it not possible to ditch the grade in university and just provide feedback on student work and have them learn not to get 100% or 1’s, but simply because they are curious to discover new things?

Then again, this might be just the idealistic me speaking. The struggle is real.