Be present

I took a seminar a few years ago with a good friend of mine, and one of the main mantras the presenter kept repeating was, “Be Present.

I think that is so relevant, especially now since most of us have become so dependent on technology.  Waiting for the bus?  Pull out your Blackberry to BBM your friends, catching up on the latest news since you last spoke the night before.  On a train?  Watch movies or shows on your laptop to pass the time with laughter, rather than boredom.  Stuck in traffic?  Turn to your iPhone to post an angry update via Facebook about how stupid people shouldn’t be allowed to drive.

I’m guilty of all of the above and more.  We don’t take time to appreciate the moment anymore.  Last night while lying in bed trying to sleep, my mind was wandering down Thinking Too Much Lane.  Stepping foot back into the office after having been away for 3 weeks (horror!), how I have a new beautiful iPhone 4s waiting for me at home when I get back (an early birthday gift from my parents – YAY!!), planning our trip to the US for my friend’s wedding in September, visiting both Georgia and NYC (first time bridesmaid!).. My mind just wouldn’t stop!

Then it hit me.

I was in a warm bed, cuddled next to N, staying in a lovely house in the mountains of Lozere, France.  France!  I also have to highlight “cuddled next to N” because it’s not something he and I can take for granted, having been in a long distance relationship for most of our almost 2 years and 2 months together.  Our trip has given us 3 beautiful weeks together.  That’s the most time we have had with each other EVER since the start of our relationship.  I should be relishing in this time, feeling lucky, NOT anxious about things that haven’t even happened yet!  I brought myself back to the present, to the moment, listening to N’s heartbeat, feeling the rise and fall of his chest, and I slowly drifted off to sleep, lulled by the sound of his breathing.

I am reminded of this now, while on a 2.5 hour bus ride from Lozere to Clermand Ferrand.  If I was lost in my iPhone, or watching Modern Family on my laptop, I’d be inexcuseably missing out on the beautiful sights this part of the country has to offer.  The snow capped mountain tops, partially frozen rivers, horses standing valiantly upon white fields, long icicles hanging delicately from cliffs, small clusters of towns spread scenically over the landscape

Gorgeous.  Seeing and appreciating all this, with N sleeping in the crook of my elbow.

(Yes, he’s passed out.  He can sleep in any position, and it never ceases to make me chuckle.  This is one of the less entertaining ones, but I still couldn’t resist taking a photo).

If you look at the bigger picture, all those moments add up.  Look at how much we can, and do miss out on.  You can put a pause on technology, but no matter how advanced we get, we can’t ever put a pause on time.  We need to learn how to be present.  To be with, and live in the moment.  To appreciate where we are, who we are with, and what is happening right then and there.  This reminds me of another mantra that should we should all remember.  “This too shall pass.”  Whether things are great, or they could be better, the moment, and everything encompassing this moment, will pass.

So bring your eyes up, tune your brain to now, your senses, and release yourself to the moment.

(A side note:  I know it’s ironic of me to be typing about losing out on living in the moment, while on a bus, but when you get hit with the inspiration to write, you just gotta roll with the punch.  I’m going to stop now though because starting to feel ill from motion sickness, and I still have a 4 hour train ride to tackle after this.)

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I suck at packing

I’m not a light packer.  I’m not a fast packer.  I’m not an efficient packer.  I’m not even 100% focused when I’m packing.  I can pack for hours, staring at my clothes, and come out with the difference of two tops either being in or out.  I’m just crap at packing.  However, I’m proud to say that I am gradually improving over time (lots of it. I also stress gradually).

To give you a sense of where I was, let’s rewind back to 6ish+ years ago..  You know how you generally pack one outfit for the day, and another for the evening?  I used to pack so that I was fully prepared for whatever weather Mother Nature decided to throw at me.  Be it rain, sun, hot, cold, slightly chilly, mildly warm, breezy weather, etc, I had the clothes.  Now multiply that by the time of day – day attire, night attire, and number of days on the trip.  That’s just clothes.  I haven’t even mentioned my toiletries, towels, hairdryer, shoes, etc.  I was THAT bad.

My bestie packs for a whole weekend away, with her clothes, toiletries, a little blanket, PLUS a standard sized pillow, carrying everything in ONLY her pillowcase.  I only believe this because my own two eyes have seen this on many occasions.  She’s my idol (for many things including her gift for packing).  I aspire to one day pack almost as well as she does (I’ve already accepted the fact that I will never fit everything into one pillowcase, unless it’s a day trip).

Fast forward to today, and I have learned many little secrets.  A huge one is to roll clothes when you pack, as this allows you to pack more  😉  I also re-use clothes I’ve already worn, trained myself to go without a hairdryer, know that going away for 3 days doesn’t mean packing 3 pairs of jeans, become a little more stylish in order to mix and match a greater variety of looks.  I’ve also realised I’ve been underestimate the scarf.  This lifesaver can protect you from any type of “cold” that one can be exposed to in South East Asia.  It keeps your neck warm, or your shoulders, or can double up as a little blanket!  Genius.

As you know, N and I are leaving for a 3 week trip to France and Portugal next Friday night (well technically 5 minutes into Saturday morning).  It is bloody freezing in France, and freezing in Portugal (keep in mind I’m from South East Asia so anything below 23°C/74°F already requires a scarf/light jacket).  So at T-6 days from departure, with a general gist of what to expect with weather, and under strict orders from N that I am not allowed to bring too much or I will be forced to carry my own bags, I’ve begun preliminary packing of some clothes.  This is what I’m staring at so far:

This doesn’t include the 2 jackets I’m probably bringing (my coat for the bloody freezing cold, and a furry jacket for the freezing cold), my toiletries (I bring everything, including my own shower cap), 2 pairs of knee high boots (one black, one brown of course, and perhaps even my trainers), perhaps another scarf or two to make 3 or 4 (two for outdoors, one for indoors post showering so that it’s clean), other tops that are being washed..

Oh, did I mention that when in Portugal for a week and a half, we will be staying it N’s mum’s house, so will have access to a washing machine?

Yup, I already know.

Happy 2012!!!

Mabuhay from the Philippines!! I’ve been here with N and friends for the past week. Five days in Manila and four days in Puerto Galera. Here’s the view of from our lovely pool villa on top of the hill (just to make you jealous)..

I’ll write more when I get back.  In the meantime, wishing you all an awesome 2012, full of love, laughter, and good health!!

France

The one thing that you need the most, that you aren’t able to have in a long distance relationship. I just spent 10 beautiful days with my sweetheart in France – Paris, Nice, and Vence, and one night in London.

He introduced me to his mom, his close friends – most from childhood, and the large French chapter of his life. Everyone was so warm and loved me from the moment they met me because I’m the only one who has ever made him smile the way he does 😀

Prior to my current relationship, I always thought that long distance forced both parties to know each other in ways they wouldn’t normally know each other. What I mean by this, is that you are forced to communicate. You are forced to talk. I thought talking was the only key to making it work. My Mom always stressed how important it is to speak to your partner. To express the things you like and don’t like, and to be open with one another. The only downside to being in a long distance relationship, was the lack of physical intimacy. However, communicative and emotional intimacy would compensate this. Physical attractiveness diminishes over time, but to be emotionally attractive to someone takes constant work and maintenance. I thought that talking was the secret to making it work.

Since being in my relationship, N is starting to show me a different perspective..

Although the distance allows you to grow communicativily (yes, I’m making it a word), it is very difficult to grow together as a couple. When you are together, you are able to use both verbal and physical expression to show the other your love. One action can mean a thousand words. Trillions of words can be spoken within a day of spending time together. You need to see each other other’s expressions, experience new sights and sounds as a couple, learn and talk about the things you are able to go through together. Not just one side talking, the other listening, then SWITCH, the listener talks and the talker now listens. There is more interaction taking place between you two when you are together than you would notice. It’s taken for granted because many of us are blissfully unaware of this. There is nothing wrong with that. You are able to enjoy and live the same moment together. Not just explaining it to the other.

There is a married couple that both my boyfriend and I know, who have issues from time to time – as couples do. A brief background – the first 2 years of their marriage was long distance. It is now that they are getting used to living together in the same apartment. During this time, although they talk and visit, they have grown apart in some ways. He is used to spending his Friday nights out with his boys, and she is used to spending her nights out with her gang of friends. Both know each other’s groups and have spent time with them, but from what we’ve heard, even though the husband likes his wife’s friends and enjoys spending time with them, every time she invites him out, she almost has to go to the bar to drag him out by his boxers to bring him out with her friends. Same with her and his friends (except perhaps not by her boxers). Time apart has affected their growth with each other as a couple. They are too used to living their own lives, but just coming together to share the nights and mornings with one another. That’s no longer sharing a life to me.

I’m happy. I’m grateful for every moment I have with him. Every moment allows us to grow even faster and deeper towards each other. I’m so lucky. For the first time, I really feel like I’m lucky in love ❤