Creativity 2018


At the start of every year since I was eight, I had been making New Year’s resolutions. At the end of January every year since I was eight, I also break them. Well, actually that is not entirely truthful. A few were broken mid-February — they were the lucky ones — while many did not even had the chance to be broken because they were not even started.

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Like most people who make New Year’s resolutions, if not all, I never managed to discipline myself enough to accomplish my yearly goals. While I have long accepted that this is part of our humanity and I have been making resolutions only for the sake of tradition (and to placate holiday guilt), I have decided to shake things up this year. Instead of making another set of certainly ill-fated resolutions, this 2018 I will be living by my Word of the Year.

This “resolution revolution” was first introduced by entrepreneur and founder of Uplevel YOUChristine Kane. In this alternative, you pick one word and you let it guide you to your aspirations and dreams for that year. You will live by your chosen word.

Word Art

In 2017, I ended my first year and started my second year in my first ever job. Being a workforce neophyte with a deep-seated insecurity regarding my skills and talents, I dedicated my 2017 as the year of building habits that will fortify good work ethics, in an effort to prove my worth to my own self. While aware that there is still a lot of room for improvement, I was more or less satisfied with the results of my efforts. However, it came with a price — I am slowly losing my lifeline.

Writing used to be my lifeline. When reality was frustrating and seemed hopeless, I could always turn to writing. But lately, I have been struggling to write for at least twenty minutes without being distracted.

Writing is my first love and I realized that despite the writer’s block that I am currently experiencing, I am still willing to fight for it, the same way I did when I started this blog. Thus, this 2018, my Word of the Year is Creativity.

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This 2018 I will live by creativity. Because of 2017’s creative drought, my 2018 will be spent trying to wake the hibernating right brain. I do not expect to be able to write again with the same passion as I did a few years ago because knowing myself, action does not happen in a snap (and that is why the word of the year is not Create). But at least, I expect to rekindle that passion, even if in a lesser intensity.

I have no detailed plan of action and I have no intention of making one. All I know is I need to go back to my old habits that used to elicit a lot of light bulb moments — i.e., reading a lot of books, visiting museums, taking long walks, etc. — without breaking the new ones I worked on in 2017.

It will be tough, I know. But who knows? Maybe cultivating creativity this year will also help me at work. After all, creativity is a necessary trait for teachers.

Cheers to 2018, the year of Creativity!

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God? I know you’re there.


November 8, 2017

We were discussing about earthquakes in class so naturally, I showed a documentary to my students. As the geologist narrated about the most destructive earthquakes the world has ever faced, one of my students mumbled to himself, “So where is God in all of these?”

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“Where is God in all of these?”

It was not meant to be answered, based on the way it was said, yet this has been the most difficult question I had to answer as a teacher.

Many have claimed that in the beauty of nature, we see the face of God. But face to face with nature’s wrath, where is God?

Always, I have staunchly upheld my faith. Despite strongly disagreeing with the Church’s comments on reproductive health and same sex marriage, I have remained a Roman Catholic. Despite my science education opening a world of truth for me, I still believe in God. But never have I found an evidence of God’s existence. You may think, how can I, a made scientist, believe in an entity whose existence I can never physically prove?

I can only sigh. I do not really know where God is in all of these. But there is comfort in trusting that somewhere, he must be there.

To not know


It is no secret that I do not know what I am doing most of the time. “Just do it” can easily be my life’s motto — I just do things without fully understanding the risks and consequences of my actions. But hey, if I do not just do things, I will never be able to get anything done. I would have never even lived at all.

This never came to me before — not knowing what you are doing is a crucial part of life. To not know is to have the capacity to learn. To learn is to know better. To know better is to keep moving forward. To keep moving forward is to live.

I do not know what I am doing most of the time. I must be living my life just fine.

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Tulala


29 September 2017

Finally, an unpopular — and therefore, empty — cafe.

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As I slurp my iced latte, I wonder how many Filipino words are not translatable into English. For instance, the word tulala. To be tulala, in the usual context, is to stare blankly ahead, mind wandering aimlessly in a different time and place, real or fictional. Sometimes, as in my case, it is simply thinking quietly. It annoys me that I cannot think of an English world that perfectly encapsulates this.

Just then, the barista (that’s what you call a person working in a cafe, right?) arrives with my bacon and eggs. He introduces himself and told me to look for him if I need anything. I heard him but I do not catch his name. Whatever. I never ask for anything extra, anyway.

I pick on my bacon and swirled the undone yolk of my sunny-side up with my spoon, wondering this time why people often ask me why I am tulala. I mean, why do they care? What’s so wrong about thinking? Apparently, for some people, thinking in virtual solitude is a crime.

My yolk-swirling is interrupted by the same guy, this time asking if the food is okay. I gave him half a smile and flashed him a thumbs-up. Honestly though, cafe food anywhere tastes the same to me. Whatever. Anyway, I am just here because I need a deserted place and some time to be tulala.

Being tulala keeps me sane, just as writing a ramble does.

Now I feel a little better.

Break-up Blues


This is what happens after a break-up.

First comes the overwhelming sense of empowerment. Finally, you are that single woman who needs no man in her life. You are independent. You are unstoppable.

Then, stealthily, loneliness creeps in. You are happy yet there is no one to come home to and tell why. Or you had a crappy day and there is no one to rant on. There is no one to share food with (and hell, food tastes so much better when shared).

Suddenly, you miss his soft hands and purring voice. You miss his scent.

There really is a price for choosing yourself. Is it worth it? I hope it is.

Shadow Syllabus


“Secret: I have to plan first and THEN abandon the plan while still remembering its outline.”

One of the skills I developed during my first year of teaching is flexibility. I find that when I strictly stick to my lesson plan, the students are not interested as much as when I let them direct the learning process on their own while I listen and comment, prodding them to figure things out on their own. So yeah, totally relate. ❤

Sonya Huber

  1. IMG_3738I’ll tell you exactly how to get an A, but you’ll have a hard time hearing me.
  2. I could hardly hear my own professors when I was in college over the din and roar of my own fear.
  3. Those who aim for A’s don’t get as many A’s as those who abandon the quest for A’s and seek knowledge or at least curiosity.
  4. I had bookmarked a citation for that fact, and now I can’t find it anywhere.
  5. The only way to seek knowledge is to open your hands and let your opinions drop, but that requires even more fear.
  6. The goals and outcomes I am required to put on my syllabus make me depressed; they are the illusion of controlling what cannot be controlled.
  7. I end up changing everything halfway through the semester anyway because the plan on paper is never what the living class ends up being about.

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Never Call Yourself a Writer, and Other Rules for Writing


Having read innumerable writing rules, I first thought the article is just another one about writing. However, I found one truth that I never realized, until now:

“Deep down, we all want to be poets.”

In the literati ladder, the poet occupies one of the highest rungs with his enigmatic way of making music with the pen as her instrument. Thus, which lover of words would not love a poet? Which aspiring penman would not look up to a poet and aspire to be one himself?

But alas! Not all of us can be poets. We can all write but not all of us can make verses sing because that is a gift poets are born with. Because poets are born, not made like the rest of us.

Still, we keep writing verses, hoping that with each poem we take one step up that ladder. A long way to go, yes, but still a little bit closer to that coveted spot because no matter what they say and what we know, deep down, we all want to be poets.

Sometimes, not even genetic endowment can restrain the desires of the heart.

BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

shawna kenneyBy Shawna Kenney

First thought, best thought; revise, revise, revise. Write first thing in the morning when the mind is alert; write at night and never while sober. Do it alone, in an office with the door closed, surrounded by books; write in coffee shops, surrounded by stimulating characters and conversation. Use traditional quotation marks and capitalization Unless You Are a ‘Genius.’ Journal in longhand; always type fast. Sentences longer than three or four lines are unacceptable and tedious, unless you are William Faulkner, William Beckett, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jamaica Kincaid, Virginia Woolf, John Updike, Charles Dickens, Gabriel García Márquez, David Foster Wallace or one of those other people who can get away with it. Short is good.

Write with an ideal reader in mind; fuck the audience. Never show anyone an early draft; find a workshop for feedback. Write to please everyone; quit workshop and hire an editor. Take classes…

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Should I stay?


For the past weeks I have been itching to write but I pushed away my notebook, afraid of polluting it with my melancholic musings (just as I did years ago when I was sad teenager). It was my New Year’s Resolution for 2017 to avoid negative thoughts and feelings and I have no intention of breaking it. After all, I deserve to be happy, right?

But I just can’t feel happy right now.

I knew that at some point, the honeymoon stage will end and doubt will come but I never expected it to come this early. I never thought that my students will ever break my heart.

Recently, several students claimed that they have learned nothing from me. It hurt. I am hurting so much that the all the maybes have resurfaced and have now made a monster who nibbles on this passion that I have held on to all my life.

Maybe I really suck at teaching.

Maybe I am not what they need.

Maybe I have been wrong all this time.

Maybe I screwed it all up again.

Maybe mom’s right — maybe, a medical school is where I truly belong.

Or maybe, I should pursue a career in science, just as I was trained to do.

I thought passion and determination was enough. I thought I was enough. But as it turns out, I am not. That hurts when you think you have given all that you can.

Lately, I have been thinking: Should I stay? Do I love them enough to stay? 

It’s December the 1st!


It’s December the 1st and I can’t believe how time can fly so fast! It seems like it was just yesterday that I was just moping, trying to figure out how I was going to graduate on time and now, I am doing the very thing that I had only wished for in the past. Still, there are quite a lot of 2016 goals that I failed to achieve (I really suck at New Year’s resolutions). For example:

  1. Avoid processed foods and soda. (But McDo float…)
  2. Read 50 books. (Current count is 39. There is no way I can finish 11 books in a month.)
  3. Blog at least once a week. (Got to explain this in a separate blog post.)

Recently, I have read several articles about bullet journals and I am thinking of jumping on the bandwagon. Do you think it might work? Your suggestions are very much welcome. 🙂

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Things I Like (in haikus)


Usually, I decide not to participate in Discover challenges because:

  1. I don’t think I am good enough to come up with a piece worthy of reading;
  2. I don’t have the luxury of time;
  3. and blogger’s block.

But this recent challenge, One, Two, Three!, mentioned one of the blogs that I absolutely love: Things We Like. In fact, I have my own list of things I like that was published more than a year ago. So in honor of this, I decided to make a series of haikus inspired by the entries in my list (which, by the way, still holds true even after more than a year has passed).

       1. The smell of rain

What is this strange scent,

Rain mingling with foliage?

Smells and feels like home.

2. Slow dances

We could have been more.

Your melody, I have loved

But you just don’t dance.

3. Having my hair combed

I nap as I feel

Mother’s fingers through my hair.

Life’s warm and lovely.

4. Handwritten letters and notes

Then, we wrote daily.

Now, we text and chat instead.

Really miss your script.

5. Books that keep me up all night

One last page became

One last chapter until it’s…

Oh, I’ve finished it.

6. Shopping in malls when it’s just a few hours from closing time

Go ahead and stand

On escalator’s left side.

No one’s seeing you.

7. Eating with bare hands

Rice is always best

With fish and Bicol express.

Now licking fingers.

8. Peanut butter cups and cupcakes

Bored but saved by some

Peanut butter fairy cakes.

Hello, calories!

9. Dresses with poofy skirts

It has been long since

I’ve been pretty and silly,

Twirling in a skirt.

10. Studying in the library when very few people are around

Empty library,

Says my short attention span,

Is heaven on earth.