Lessons from the book “The Four Agreements”

 

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How did I find out about this book? It was several years ago when read an article from Cosmopolitan Philippines magazine written by a woman who was going through a heartbreak at one point in her life. The way she narrated everything and how this book has helped her move forward was so touching. The Four Agreements is an inspiring book written by the Mexican author Don Miguel Ruiz. According to Ruiz, these agreements are essential  in living a life of no regrets and less hurt.

Here are the Four Agreements and its implications in my life.

1. BE IMPECCABLE WITH YOUR WORD. Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

-This is very powerful to me in a way that I was reminded to use my ability to communicate into something that only promotes love and truth. I admit, it is so tempting  to speak against someone who has hurt or done us wrong but remembering this agreement put us in a peaceful place in our lives by not engaging into any negativity as it will do no good in us.

2. DON’T TAKE ANYTHING PERSONALLY. Nothing others do is because of you. What others say or do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.

– At least one day in our lives, we encountered a person who got angry at us, even if the reason is so pointless. I realized that behavior was demonstrated not because of me, but maybe because that person has her own issues and is going through something. But it doesn’t mean that I should be complacent. In my job where we work with the doctors, sometimes, they get angry because of work not being done competently. On my part, I should also make an effort not to be a stimulus for someone to get mad, however, if it happened, it shouldn’t take it personally.

Where else can I apply this agreement? In life, people come and go. We may have a lot of friends before, but as we move to our life’s journey, it seems like the communication with them is lessened and we hate to admit it, it seems like we are drifting apart. With this situation, we shouldn’t feel sad. We just have to accept that we are on a different stages of our lives right now, your best friend may have a family already and you are still figuring out things yourself. Let us just be happy that we met these people and had painted colors in our lives.

3. DON’T MAKE ASSUMPTIONS. Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

-We are all guilty of this. How many times did we assume or worry of something that is not yet happening? Assuming for the best and worst to come has its own consequences. I finally decided to just be a realist. Being real, in the moment, present, eye-opened with what’s there and not. I’m not saying that I do not assume anymore, but as much as I can, I try to avoid it.

4. ALWAYS DO YOUR BEST. Your best is going to change from moment to moment, it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgement, self-abuse and regret.

-For a life of no regrets and in everything we do, we should always do our best. The outcome: whether we win or lose, if it’s success or failure, it won’t matter anymore for as long as we did our best. I still feel dignified in times of failure when I know in my heart I did my best for that endeavor. It if wasn’t enough, let us strive to get better the next time.

*** I read this book three years ago when I was still in my previous job. It’s highly recommended that we go back to the lessons from the book that changed our lives because sometimes we get so caught up with everything that’s been happening in our lives. I admit that for the last 2 years, I forgot these lessons and seeing the book in my room reminded me of the wisdom that was introduced to me and that I should apply in my life.

This Year’s Holy Week

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This year’s celebration of Holy Week has only been the same as with the previous years. Nothing’s really special happened. Due to my crazy work schedule, I have no time to go home in Nueva Ecija or do an out of town travel alone, with friends or family and take a time off to reflect on being a Catholic. I only went to work (which I surprisingly enjoy lately), reviewed for my upcoming CBT nursing exam during free time and did the things I love like reading and writing.

Holy week is an important reminder for us Catholics to strengthen our faith. As this time of the year, we remember how Jesus was crucified and died on the cross to save us from all our sins. I may not be able to do Visita Iglesia just like other Filipinos, but I very well know in my heart that I believe in Jesus and to God. I understand that there are other people who don’t believe in a Higher Being. Regardless of religion, let us find something to believe in. I choose to believe and have faith. Because believing gives me HOPE. That I am where I am right now because of a purpose. That I was given this life to live because He has a plan for my life. And that gives me a different perspective of everything that I have gone through.

Two weeks ago, when I had to leave the church at the middle of the mass to go to work. This whole month of March has been a very busy one for me. With everything that I was dedicating my time on, I felt I neglected my time with Him. And so when I left at the middle of the mass to go to work, deep in my heart, I felt I needed more time with Him, to talk to Him, to tell Him how crazy things have been happening lately and just thank Him for all the great things coming.

This Easter Sunday is the time when Jesus has arisen. He died and became alive again. There might have been times in the past that we felt shattered for different reasons, but we should never give up. In my everyday randomness, I decide to believe that there’s a Higher Being who only has great things in store for His people. And that for me is what Holy Week means, keeping up with the FAITH.

My takeaway from the movie “Always Be My Maybe”

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During the first week of the released date of the movie ‘Always be my maybe’, I was able to watch it with my very good friend Coleen in Robinson’s Magnolia.

The story is about the relationship problems of twenty-something people. I think that single people in this age group can definitely relate to the story. For those who had broken up with their girlfriend or boyfriend, if you’re a guy or a girl who fell for someone and was left hanging, for people seeking for love and are hoping to find The One, this movie is for all of us. We can get a glimpse of what’s going on in a guy’s mind when he hangs out with a girl and a girl’s perspective about being treated special by a guy.

Why is this movie a hit? Because it is so real. I, personally, can relate to it. Not really in every scene but in being down at some point in my life and in being hurt. Relationship issue is always a very interesting topic because the development task for young adult is intimacy vs. social isolation. This adult task is about engaging into meaningful relationships with the opposite sex, finding a life partner, getting married and starting a family. Young adults want a movie that they can identify with.

During the night, after watching the movie, I silently reflected in my life and remembered my experiences in the past. I get to understand that sometimes in life, we hurt people unknowingly and unintentionally. I do not want lose the capacity to trust and to hope that one day, The One and I will be at the same place at the same time and our love story will begin. Just like the lead characters in this movie.

Sydney and the Small Stories

This post was really intended to be done two years ago after my trip to Australia. But because of procrastination, it took me two years after to post. Nevertheless, what is important is I am doing it now. The purpose of posting my travels and all the beautiful things that happened in my life is because I want to look back on those experiences in the future. When I am already 40 years old, I want to visit this blog and cherish what I did on my 20s. Indeed, it weren’t all joy. There were pain, struggles, challenges,  heartbreaks and tears. In a novel, a good story has all of these element to ignite the enthusiasm of the reader. My life is a book. I am the protagonist and everyone around me is part of my story. Okay, so much for the random thoughts. Sharing you now my pictures for me and my classmate’s epic trip to Sydney, Australia.

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The three rock formation as the three sisters.

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This is one of the scariest ride that I’ve tried in my life. This train goes up inside the dark mountain in a 55-degree angle. Me and my classmates really enjoyed this ride a lot because we didn’t expect that the train will go up in that angle. In the history of this ride, the train was really intended for coal mining, but since people wanted and enjoyed the train running inside the rocky interior of the mountain, it became a tourist attraction and the owners decided to stop coal mining and just made it a train ride. It is a must try!

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Here, we are exploring the Blue Mountains. It is called the Blue Mountains because the mountains are covered by the eucalyptus trees which are the primary food of the Koala bears. When the sun touches the eucalyptus trees, collectively, they became color blue or looked like color blue. Hence, the Blue Mountains. I was able to touch a eucalyptus tree and it smelled like a menthol candy. Our tour guide, his name’s Ken, was very informative. I think he’s been doing that job for more than 20 years already. He knows every story and details of the places we’ve visited. I admired him because I can sense that he takes pride in his job. He is happy being a tour guide.

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Here, I was outside the Katoomba coal mine.

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Enjoying the farm animals in Featherdale Wildlife Park. I was with my classmates, the sisters, Ruth and Diane and with a cute Australian child who was also touring with her parents. In the the Featherdale Wildlife Park, I had seen a lot of animals like Kangaroos, snakes, Koala bears, penguins, crocodiles, goats, cows, etc. I love going to zoos and interacting with animals that I don’t usually see everyday.

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Trekking and being one with nature. Sunlight, trees, grass, rock formation, soil, oh I loved it!

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So let’s move to the city, the famous landmarks of Sydney, the Sydney Harbour bridge and the Opera House.

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Me and my classmate, Mel, was able to walk around the opera house. It was such a unique architectural piece, really one of a kind. Beside it is The Royal Botanical Garden, a huge park where one can relax and spend the day feeling surreal.

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The Sydney Opera House is located in the Circular Quay train station. From there, Mel and I, decided to go to Manly beach riding a ferry. It took the ferry ride 30 minutes to arrive in our destination. That 30-minute ride was an awe for me. I was able to see the beauty of Sydney, the opera house, the bridge, the ocean, and the beach front.

 

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Mel and I, enjoying the beach.

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Basically, these are just some of the moments we had in Sydney. There was a lot but I can no longer put them into words. They are left in my heart and will just forever be cherished. How can one not miss this experience? This trip has changed my life forever. Several months after coming home, I quit my former job and pursued my profession now. Solely because I was able to reflect on this trip. I wondered why I lost my passion and why I gave up on my childhood dreams. With this experience, I stood up, tried again and is now pursuing my childhood dreams. I realized that what we dreamt of when we were a child is the same as our adult dreams. We really didn’t change.

This is such a heartfelt post. I am really an emotional person. Let’s all dream and pursue our heart’s desire. 🙂

Just Do It

My critical thinking class… Oh, I will never forget the semester when I took that subject in UST. I like my professor there, Ms. Dela Cruz. I may not remember all the topics in St. Thomas in Critical Thinking that she discussed but I very well remembered all the lessons in life that she shared with us, her students. One of it is the tagline of the brand, Nike, “Just do it”. She said that its message was beautiful and relevant in life. According to her, whenever we think of doing something but are faced in a dilemma of doing it or not, most often than not, we ended up not doing it. The only thing that’s stopping us is fear. She said that sometimes in life, we need to just do it. Just do it! Because the voice inside you is the only one that stops you from living the life you imagined. If your dreams are bigger than your fears, then you have to overcome your fears and… Just do it!

More than being able to think critically, I have a lot of life lessons learned. It’s funny because aside from the topics for the day that Ms. Dela Cruz were discussing, I was also jotting down quotable quotes from her book of life lessons. Just like these:

“Do not follow the majority, dare to be different! (She said this with conviction.)
Give and give until it hurts. Until it hurts no more. You will no longer feel the pain because you are one with it
.”

I just love the fact that every one of us has the opportunity to influence, motivate and inspire other people in one way or another, just like Ms. Dela Cruz. One of my dreams is to be able to do the same. I do not need to be a professor, teacher or a celebrity to influence others. I just have to be me. Maybe one of the reasons why I put up this blog and share the life changing lessons from the people that I have come across with in my life.

Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy: My Experience

Last week, I had undergone an operation called Lap Chole (Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy). In December 2015, it was confirmed that I have multiple cholelithiasis (gallstones) through ultrasound of whole abdomen following an extreme abdominal pain I had 1 day before.

The schedule of my Lap Chole was supposed to be on January 29, 2016, 7am. But because I had gallstones attack on January 19 which inhibited me to go to work and mild icteric sclera had been noted, my operation was moved earlier, January 25th. I had the operation in Chinese General Hospital and Medical Center, the hospital where I am currently working and was admitted in the area where I am assigned. Upon admission on January 24, Sunday, I underwent several laboratory tests (CBC, etc.), Chest Xray and ECG to check if I am ready for the operation. My surgeon, Dr. Nelson Lim also referred me to a cardiologist for Cardio-Pulmonary clearance.

On midnight, I was told not to eat and drink which is necessary to prevent aspiration of food in the lungs. Operation schedule was at 10am. An intravenous fluid (IV) was inserted on my left hand at 8am. At past 9am, OR personnel came in to bring me to OR. My co-nurses and resident doctors helped in providing moral support giving me good luck smiles, and encouraging words “Kaya mo yan Berna.” (You can do it Berna). I gave them a smile when deep inside, I was nervous. My mother and younger brother were in my room, mother was with me on the way to OR.

I was then brought to Operating Room 1 and was transferred to the OR table. Everyone was so kind, the OR orderly, the OR nurses, surgery resident and my surgeon, Dr. Nelson Lim. When we were waiting for the anesthesiologist to arrive, I was calm and observing the OR set up, monitors on my right side, and the preparation of instruments to be used. Dr. Nelson is the kindest, he came up to me and whispered, “Bernadette, don’t be nervous. Just close your eyes okay.” I nodded and smiled to Dr. When the anesthesiologist arrived, they prepared the induction of anesthesia. I was asked to do deep breathing while making me inhale for something. Then I fell asleep. A breathing tube (Endotracheal tube) was inserted in my mouth to help in breathing and also for the anesthesia. When I woke up, I was already in PACU (Post Anesthesia Care Unit). The first thing I asked Anna, the PACU nurse (whom I personally know because she had her training and volunteer days in the area where I am assigned), if Lap Chole was done and not Open Chole, and she said yes, only Lap Chole. I thank God right away. I asked her for the time. It was already past 3pm. I felt the pain in the post operative site but it was bearable. Then I vomited twice which was still the effect of anesthesia. The breathing tube was removed by the anesthesiologist even before I woke up. That’s why I didn’t even feel that I was intubated after all.

I was then transferred back to my room. During the night, my diet was resumed. I had soft diet that night, but I vomited thrice, probably still because of the effect of anesthesia. The following morning, I was feeling fine and the post operative pain became minimal. Third day post operative, I was able to go home. In Lap Chole, there is no wide incision to remove the gall bladder. Only 3 small holes in the abdomen and 1 in the navel.

Lap Chole is an elective operation, meaning it is not urgent and can be scheduled anytime the patient warrants. I immediately decided to go for an operation because I was symptomatic. Before, I had abdominal pain every week, sometimes bearable and sometimes not. I had 4 gallstones attack all in all, and in those times, I was in so much pain. I can’t go to work, I can’t do anything. I was just lying in my bed waiting for the pain to subside. Those were the times that I realized that there is no quality of life if a person is experiencing physical pain. A week after the operation, I was fine and just waiting for the wound (just a small one) to heal. The doctor advised for 1 month sick leave from work.

It’s not easy to share this experience to other people. But I am doing so because I thought there might be other people who want to know first hand experience of Lap Chole, because they, too, had been advised to undergo such operation.

If you also have gallstones, just pray and always remember that, “This, too shall pass”, you will be okay, you just have to trust God, your surgeon, the whole surgical team, and most of all, yourself, that you are making the right decision to undergo an operation; that this is for your own good. You too can do it! 🙂

Stand Up 2016

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Before anything else, I just want to greet you (my reader), A Happy New Year! For the last couple of years of blogging, I always think of a theme for the present year. For this year, I wanna call it “Stand Up 2016”.

2015 was such an amazing year for me. Just like every great story, I had experienced several failures and downside. But it was nothing compared to the joy, laughter, great memories, lessons, experiences and realizations that were added to my life. I had grown a lot.

And since there were downside most specifically in the last quarter of 2015, the only way for me to move forward is to “Stand Up”. No matter how optimistic a person is, there will be times when she feels like not standing up from her bed, not doing anything but to lie down, disregarding the plans for the days because she lost the drive. I remember myself several days ago in that exact situation. A subconscious mind then tells me, “Berna, stand up! Literally! Stand up from your bed!” Because that is the first step, the start of something.

Last November, I applied in a Pediatric Brain Injury Hospital in the UK but I didn’t make it. God knows how much I wanted the position. But the timing isn’t right. For I know the very reason why I wasn’t able to get it, it’s because I didn’t give my best during the whole application and interview. To be honest, I was not at my best self at that time. I had to learn from that experience and move forward. I have to “Stand Up”.

For us who went after the chance, took the risk but got hurt, please Stand Up. These actions are admirable.

For the health issues, disappointments, rejections, heartbreaks and pain last year, this 2016, can we all be brave enough to STAND UP and try again?

“Walang Forever” Movie Experience

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I just watched earlier the movie Walang Forever together with my 2 close friends. This post is not meant to give quick facts or information about the movie but to share feelings and emotions that I felt during and after watching the film.

I chose Walang Forever out of all the MMFF entries because I always go with the movie that I know I can relate to and because the title captured my imagination. What was this movie about? I wondered.

Being more than half past my 20s, the struggle at this age is about being in a relationship and finding “The One”. This is the age when a person is already a young professional, already certain of his/her career path, but having this certainty lacks him or her in another aspect which is the lovelife.

A year ago, I had a conversation with someone who had broken up with his long time girlfriend. I asked him with that experience, what has love taught him? He jokingly said, “Walang Forever!” I laughed and immediately replied, “Grabe ka naman.” He then gave a serious answer. He said, “You have to be the best person for each other.” It left questions in my mind. I didn’t ask him to elaborate more. I just thought that in the future, I’ll figure it out. This I still have to ponder in the days to come.

This is not a movie about bitterness of the characters over their failed relationship. It is romantic and hilarious and at the same time, a tear-jerker (my friends cried). I didn’t cry in the drama scenes because I was overwhelmed with the romantic and funny moments of the movie. I admit to giggle from time to time and had that smile on my face from the start till the end.

This is a different kind of love story. It’s timely, relatable and captivating. It is indeed a beautiful Filipino movie.

Lessons I Learned From the Movie ‘Inside Out’

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Earlier, I was able to watch the movie “Inside Out” by the Pixar Animation Studios. It was an animated movie that I thought was created for the kids but it did have a lot of lessons and realities that are applicable to life. The scenes were very relatable. When you watch the movie, you see yourself in some scenes. You remember yourself when you were a child.

It was a story of an 11 y/o girl named Riley Andersen and the emotions that she has in her mind: Joy, Sadness, Anger, Disgust and Fear. These emotions control Riley’s reaction and perception on the situations she encounters in her everyday life.

The story in the movie happens in real life. When a child was born, she was like a blank slate. In some scenes, it showed Riley’s significant moments that are called core memories which make up her personality. A child always grow up as a happy child until life’s circumstances got in the way that Sadness overpowers Joy.

I, personally, can relate in the movie. I silently reflected the time I lost the child-like behavior in me. When did I lose the characteristics of a child? The capacity to be joyful. Not only me, but also other people. The reality is that people change because of experiences.

It is true, what’s on the inside will manifest outside. That is the central message of the movie. And fear, they’re all in our heads. But just like the illustration in the film, negative emotions like sadness play an important role in a person. It has its purpose when used in the right moment.

I was captured by the moment when Riley broke down into tears telling her parents how she misses her hockey team, her friends, their home and backyard in Minnesota, her previous life. Change will happen in life and it is inevitable. Who wouldn’t relate in that scene as everyone did experience a change in one or more aspects in life. What is important is to have the courage to face anew.

This is a brilliant film. I salute the creator of the story. It will make us examine our lives and the emotions that we allow ourselves to take over. Might as well allow joy to take charge of our emotions for the rest of the day. 🙂

Beauty in Vulnerability

06/26/2015

Dear “Future The One”,

I have a lot of things to tell you. So while I still haven’t met you, I will write, and will just show this letter to you in the future.

You know what, I can’t sleep. Headache. Tears are on my eyes. I don’t have problems right now. Why tears? I just keep on wondering when will I see you, when will you enter my everyday, when will you be part of my life?

I won’t give up in believing that one of these days, soon, you will arrive. And the longingness, excitement, all the tears that has fallen through the years of waiting will be all worth it.

I want to tell you my everyday experiences, how adrenaline has taken over my entire self whenever there are emergencies happening in the workplace. I want to tell you the realizations I have everyday, from the simplest things like being grateful for waking up every morning to being appreciated at work. I want to tell my fears and worries, if there’s any. And above all, I want to tell you my dreams, my plans, my goals, the things that I’d like to learn like applying make up on myself and braiding my own hair. I want to tell you of my plans of working abroad, of the preparation for it, of the exams I have to take, of the nervousness and anxiety that I feel as that exam is nearing. I want to tell you all the failures I had in the past. Failures they maybe, but I also call them as redirection. I want to tell you of the amazing speech and life lessons I learned from Steve Jobs in the Stanford graduation ceremony. Basically, I have a lot of stories to tell. But just to be clear, I’m not talkative. I just have a lot of stories to tell. So please, hurry up! Find me! Talk to me! Don’t give up on us.

I’ll wait for you patiently.

Your “Future The One”,
Berna

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This is probably the most vulnerable thing that I will share. I learned through an inspirational speaker Brene Brown that there is beauty in vulnerability. It’s about being real of your feelings and not thinking of what others will say. The letter above was from one of the random thoughts I had sometime in June.

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Here are the lessons Brene Brown has shared in one of her speeches.

According to Brene Brown:

Connected people believe that what makes them vulnerable makes the beautiful. Connected people are willing to say “I love you” first and take relational risks. They are willing to get hurt. This is fundamental to a connected person.

Questions to ask ourselves:

*Am I willing to be vulnerable eventhough there is no guarantee?
*Am I willing to love with my whole heart?
*Can I practice gratitude and joy in the face of rejection? In the face of risk?
*Am I communicating to others that they are enough, even as they are?
*Do I believe I am enough? Do I believe I am worthy of love?
*Do I understand that my beliefs I am worthy of love directly connects with my ability to connect with and love others.
*Are you afraid to be vulnerable?
*Do you believe you are a safe person people can be vulnerable with?

In order for connection to happen, we must allow ourselves to be seen. We must overcome our shame. A sense of worthiness is connected to a sense of love and belonging. People who have strong sense of love and belonging believe they are worthy of love and belonging. What keeps us out of connection is the feeling we are not worthy of connection. People who are living out of a sense of worthiness are whole hearted.

Being whole hearted means:
1. Having courage. Courage means to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart. Whole hearted means we have the courage to be imperfect.

2. They have compassion for themselves, and therefore have compassion for others.

3. They have connection. As a result of accepting themselves and having courage to project who they really are, along with having compassion for themselves and others, they were able to be authentic, and therefore connect with others. They are willing to let go of the idea of who they should be in order to accept who they are.

P.S. Can we all be brave enough to be vulnerable?