Mamma Mia! – The Best Feel-Good Musical Worth Watchin’ Now

It was a very tiring day after a bank shift (overtime) in Royal Eye Unit on Thursday, the 8th of March. I decided to work on my two days off so that I can earn on top of my monthly salary since I plan to do nothing on those days. Royal Eye Unit is the outpatient department in the hospital that caters ophthalmic services for diagnosis, management and treatment like cataract surgery and laser. It’s the busiest outpatient department in the whole hospital but the work is still manageable compared to the ward. I was tired after that shift and thought I’d like to try something new, that which can only be experienced in London. I’ve long set this plan to watch a musical in the West End however it’s always been pushed aside. So after that tiring bank shift in Royal Eye Unit, I surfed google for West End musicals and watched each trailer. I shortlisted four shows to watch which were Aladdin, Lion King, The Girl in the North County and Mamma Mia. I let go of Aladdin and Lion King because I told myself to only watch these shows with my special someone, loved ones, family or friends. The Girl in the North County is a bit serious and I might feel sad while watching it because I plan to watch alone. Then I watched the trailer of Mamma Mia again and read the reviews and it had wonderful ratings and I thought that this seems like a very fun and happy show. When I looked at the available seats, there was 1 seat left in the Balcony and thought this must have been for me. So I booked the show for Friday evening, 19.45 which costs £37.

So after my shift in Royal Eye Unit at 17.00 on the 9th of March, I immediately went home to my flat to change clothes and prepare myself to watch the musical. I didn’t even eat dinner in the flat and went straight ahead to central London. I ride the train from Norbiton to Waterloo Station which takes approximately 30 minutes. I felt really hungry upon arriving at Waterloo station so I ate quickly in Starbucks and ordered Mocha coffee and Bagel. I’m supposed to ride a bus to Novello Theatre which is the venue of this musical however, it was raining and I was having a hard time looking for the correct bus station using the app CityMapper. And since it is only 15 minutes left before the show starts, I booked an uber and in 10 minutes, I arrived in Novello Theatre, just in time for the start of the show.

Novello Theatre

The performance starts at exactly 19.45 with live music and Sophie (the main character) appeared in the stage with her friends. I didn’t watch the movie Mamma Mia that’s why I have no idea what the story is about. I only found out about it as I watch the flow of the events in the musical. I was telling myself, “Ah alright, so that’s the story, lovely!” I don’t want to spoil you readers but you might probably have watched the movie or read the description in the trailer already. The musical was very fun and it is true what I read in the reviews. If you’re looking for a show that gives good vibes, and if you want to laugh, sing with Abba songs (who doesn’t know any Abba songs?) with live music and vocals, this is the show to watch. And even though I watched it alone, the whole audience including me enjoyed the show, we were clapping while singing the songs Dancing Queen, Thank You For The Music, Mamma Mia, I Have a Dream and Slipping Through My Fingers.

The main character Sophie played by Georgina Castle is a spark of joy during the whole musical. It is evident that she enjoys performing and that her smile lightens up the whole theatre. And the whole casts as well, they were very fun, happy and full of energy. I sincerely enjoyed this show and I even called my friend to tell her about my experience. Now I’m planning to watch other musicals.

These were the performers. The photo I got from google link, http://mamma-mia.com/read-news.php?n=mamma-mia-london-welcomes-new-cast-2017

My face after the show. All smile and capturing photos of London at night.

Have you watched Mamma Mia? Please comment below your thoughts about the show.

Hillsong Church Easter Sunday

Today is the second of April, 2018. How fast the time flies? It’s almost the end of the first quarter of 2018 and I didn’t even notice. The holy week has just ended. As usual for us working in the hospital, we don’t have holidays, I mean the hospital never goes on holiday. It’s open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for the service of the people who are sick.

It was not known to a lot of people but I’ve been struggling in my life recently. And these struggles made me question life and God as well. I know this struggle is nothing compared to what others are experiencing but for me, this is already something that weakens, breaks and hurt me. This made me question life and God with a lot of why’s. Why do I have to experience this? Why do I need to be in this dilemma? Did I do something wrong? I’ve waited and worked hard for this, but suddenly, why do I have to choose between two options that I really love? I am just fulfilling my dream.

I’m a firm believer of God’s plan, but it doesn’t deny the fact that I am hurting. I was telling myself that I won’t be able to know why these things are happening now but in the future everything will fall into place. But knowing this doesn’t change the fact that presently, it hurts. I was hoping that the pain I’m feeling will be gone soon.

It was my first time to attend the Hillsong church. I told myself, why only now, I’ve been here in London for more than a year already. The venue was in Palladium theatre to accommodate larger audience for Easter Sunday. It was a long queue before we got inside the venue but we didn’t mind. During the service I remembered my SFC (Singles for Christ) days, singing praise and worship songs, praising Him, letting go and letting God. After the praise and worship part, there was a preaching followed by the presentation about the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In the presentation, they modernized the setting, but the story and the lessons are the same. It was a stellar performance with complete visual effects, lighting, singing and dancing of great performers. It was beautiful but I wasn’t really affected by the presentation, there was even a time in the play that I fell asleep not because the performance was bad or boring but because of lack of sleep the night before. I don’t know what happened but the following morning after I wake up, it was the first time that I didn’t feel the weight in my heart. I felt very at peace and trustful of the journey that I am right now. After all, love is supposed to be patient and kind. I went to work joyful and happy. I dealt with the patients with smiles and laughter, building rapports and uttering silly jokes (which is unusual of me). I hope this is the start of the moving forward process.

I’ll be fine.

Pinky Promise

Pinky Promise

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According to Wikipedia, pinky promise is the entwining of the pinkies of two people to signify that a promise has been made.

In every phase of our life, we will face a challenge.

This led me to a quote in my head about waiting. And that is, “Anything worth having is truly worthy waiting.” There is a time for everything. I have to wait for the right time to get married. Because it is also me who set the standards that, in the future when I get married, I promise myself that me and my future husband should be together after the wedding. I will be back. I will come home for good, definitely. But I need to wait for the right time. While waiting, I will study, acquire experiences, get myself ready and sufficient for when the times comes that I have to go back to the Philippines to settle for good, I am mentally, emotionally, physically and financially  ready and equipped to use my learnings in London to build a better life in the Philippines. I believe in my heart that there’s a lot of opportunities in my country. I will improve myself, build my confidence through speaking and remove my naivety that I still have even though I am already approaching my 30s. I know I have a lot of potentials, I just have to develop them and push myself to believe in myself.

I also need to remind myself when I’m feeling sad and homesick, “Think of what London and UK can offer you. It can be new and exciting experiences, it can be different insights about life you will acquire after travelling, it can be professional growth and expertise. There are hundreds of reasons to love what I do now and appreciate where I am right now.” Living independently to a different city teaches me to be more responsible knowing that I have the total liberty, enough money, freedom, unlimited and fast internet connection, exposure to good looking men and women, and with all these, it is knowing how to take responsibility for myself, sticking to my values and stopping myself from being tempted to life traps.

What will I do with the opportunity handed to me? I know I should use this to help and inspire others who are also dreaming in the small town, urban area or in their dark room at night. I have told myself, I don’t want to change. Living in a first world city, living a good life, sometimes it is inevitable to want to keep up with the trend and lifestyle. But I want to keep the simplicity in me.

That is my Pinky Promise. Before this, I have only done pinky promises when I was young. But looking back, these were the most honest, most sincere and most innocent promises we can ever give.

Watching “Zippos Circus”

After coming back from a vacation in the Philippines, I have told myself to be dedicated again to blogging because as an introvert, expressing myself through writing gives me so much joy. There are 3 things I bought in the store today to jumpstart blogging and they are: AA battery, extension cord, and light bulb. Yes, these are the 3 stuff that completed this going-back-to-blogging plan. I needed a AA battery to be used for my wireless mouse so that I can navigate the pointer easily. The light bulb is for the lamp that I requested from our exchange gift last Christmas. I needed a bedside lamp because if I am only using the ceiling light from my room, what happens is that whenever I study or write, I would always get sleepy because it is so dim. With the bedside lamp, it creates additional brightness making the environment conducive to writing. The extension cord is to be used to plug my bedside lamp. So, that’s it. Because of these 3 things, I am now back to blogging.

This is a very late post as this happened in June 2017. My first-time experience watching a circus has always been a topic I’d really want to share here on my blog.

When I was young, I used to watched cartoons on TV every morning on ABS-CBN channel 2. It was the time when I was still young and only need to attend the school in the afternoon so I usually watched TV in the morning. I stayed in our home in the province with my mother (my father was working abroad) and 2 younger brothers while 3 of my older siblings went to school. I remember watching the cartoons “The Dog of Flanders” and “Remi”. I can’t remember which one was it but one or few episodes was about a circus. That image still I can remember. From then on, I knew I wanted to see a real circus. So when I saw a flyer about Zippos Circus coming to Kingston Upon Thames for series of shows,  I asked my friend if she wanted to see the circus with me. She didn’t think twice and happily came with me.

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When we arrived, we saw a big tent that was set up in the Fairfield Recreational Park, my favourite part of town. There were a lot of trucks because that’s what the Zippos Circus do, they travel to different towns across the UK to perform. They stay in a specific place for a week and after the show, they move to another town. I thought this circus is exactly what I watched in the cartoons when I was young.

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Happy Vibe!

When we arrived, the circus was already starting. And the moment we stepped inside the tent, I’ve already felt the happy vibe and the feeling of being child and young at heart. Well, I’m still young but what I am saying is the feeling of being a 5-year-old watching and being amazed at acrobats, stunts, etc.

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We saw a popcorn and cotton candy stand. My friend and I looked at each other and laughed. We knew right away that we wanted to buy these kiddie snacks. So we bought 1 popcorn and  1 cotton candy and we shared. When we were taking pictures of our cotton candy, the circus host popped in to join. Haha. He also performed with birds doing tricks like basketball. Looking at him, it’s evident that he had been in a circus for most of his life.

Then we sat on our allotted seat, we were escorted inside by the member of the security. The show was very organized from the time we bought our ticket until the end of the show and when going out of the venue. A circus is indeed a happy place. I was there at the venue with a big smile on my face, being entertained and feeling the joy of a child. As what the circus host said after the show, “You are never too old to enjoy a circus.”

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This is one of the activities here in the UK that gave real joy in my life and a big smile on my face, a must watch show and a must have experience.

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How do I start all over again? Just like blogging, I am starting to live life again on my own terms. By the way, you will see me blogging again more frequently. I thought before that writing is my passion. But I have learned from Francis Kong (through Bianca Gonzales’ vlog) that hard work equates passion. If you are willing to work hard enough for something that you want, then you are passionate about it.

I know I am passionate about my relationship, I did my best but maybe it’s not enough. I am starting to live my life before I met him and rebuilding my future again. I have a lot of things supposedly that I wanna do with him like traveling. He also told me that he has wonderful future plans ahead for both of us.

This was my plan before. (I shouldn’t be looking back but this is the only way I can move forward). I’ll finish my 3-year contract here in London then go home in the Philippines to marry the love of my life. He was my first boyfriend. Before entering into a relationship, I thought everything will be smooth sailing; we will get through this thing called long distance relationship; I will make sure that we are happy and loving with each other all the time. Well, it’s not. Apparently, the expectation is different from reality. It’s an endless effort to try to be the best person for each other. When you know you have bad days when you are negative about life, when you are tired, when you feel unattractive and unloved, you expect that person to carry you through those times, to understand what you’re going through.

Now how do I start to build my future without him in it? Should I still go back in the Philippines or stay in London. I don’t know. And I don’t want to think about that yet. I want to be in the present. To be honest, I just wanna go with the flow right now. I feel so weak to go against the current waves of my life. My mind is so clouded with what-ifs, with what to do, etc. Of how can I get over this. Just like before, I found solace in writing. I might probably pour all my heart and emotions through writing again.

My message to self:

You’ve said this before if it’s meant to be, it will happen. Everything happens for a reason. You cannot control things. And what’s admirable about you is that you did your best. Remembering the fourth agreement in the book of  Don Miguel Ruiz ‘The Four Agreements’, he said ‘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-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.’ I can honestly say, I did my best. I have no regrets in all this. I am thankful to him for loving me and he is grateful to me for that as well.

It’s scary to be authentic about my emotions and situation. This is me showing vulnerability. But knowing that breakup is normal and everyone goes through this phase in life makes it easier for me to open up.

P.S. I took the photo from above in our house in Nueva Ecija. The quote that I remember from Star Wars: The Last Jedi sums up this photo and the feeling that I have now.

“Hope is like the sun. If you only believe it when you see it you’ll never make it through the night.”

 

My Go-To-Place: Fairfield Road

I still can’t believe everything that is happening to me now. Whenever I see London road signages, I keep asking myself “Is this really happening? Am I really in London?” It’s been more than 6 months when I arrived here to work and up until now, I feel like I’m still on cloud 9. It seems like I’m still dreaming.

I love walking in the streets of Kingston Upon Thames especially during this Springtime because of the green surroundings. Nature is in full bloom. This is my first time to witness four seasons and realized that each season offers something new and different. They all teach me lessons about life. Kingston library is located on Fairfield road. This road is my haven, my favorite place in town because of the establishments that are within the area such as the Kingfisher Leisure Centre (gym, swimming pool, children’s playground), Fairfield Recreational Ground (where anyone can play football, jog, have a picnic, train and play with your dogs and pets. Within the next two days, a circus will be held in this area. Oh, how excited I am! This is an authentic circus show. The one I only watched on TV when I was young. I imagine for the show to have lions, acrobats, performers crossing a rope, unicycle, etc. There’s also the Kingston Museum, when I visited it before, I’ve learned the history and seen the images of Kingston before the civilization, the paintings of the establishments and the clothing at that time. And of course, the reason why I am in Fairfield Road, the Kingston Libary. I went there to study for my exam because if I did it in my room, I will be tempted to sleep. When I sat in the chair inside the library with all other students and young professionals quietly studying, I can’t help but smile and reflect at that moment. I just feel so grateful that I was given this opportunity to work and live in London. Everything that I imagined doing and learning are in here. They have a lot of things to offer. I found classes on creative writing, digital photography, flower arrangement, European language, cooking, baking, gardening etc. They have this library where I can study, borrow books that range from English novels, fiction and nonfiction, biography, health, arts, cooking, history, IT, gardening. As I was tempted to check these books, I stopped and reminded myself what I was there for, which is to study for my exam. Then I smiled because I am grateful for all these. These are what makes me happy and interested in life. (Plus I have a loving boyfriend back home). That I want to learn more. I want to grow. I want to acquire skills. I want to improve because I believe that there’s a lot more I can offer. 

On the way to Kingston Library

My wide imagination was working. I could imagine anything while smiling. But I ditched that thinking because for now, my focus is on my examination and in passing it. Working and living abroad is definitely not easy, there are challenges but with all these, I am grateful.

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! 🙂