Tuesday, May 20, 2014

how a dusty guitar got its life back

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

over late monday lunch a few weeks ago, our son told us that they were going to have a talent showcase at peta where he was enrolled for the summer program. he had about one and a half weeks to practice, let alone make up his mind about what to play on his guitar. as a big fan of the ramones, the beatles, nirvana and metallica (did i mention he’s 12?), there could have been a lot of good choices for him.

but one and a half weeks?

let’s begin with a short, sad story of two guitars

one day, a very young boy loved music so much that he decided he wanted to become a guitarist more than anything in the world. his father, a musician in his own right, bought him his first electric guitar when he was seven and taught him how to play it. a couple of years later, a red ibanez came along so the boy had two guitars to practice with. everything was going okay until “9” happened and he got busy with other things in a child's world.

the two guitars, simply called black and red, were deserted in a corner of the boy’s room. the request of the parents for him to practice playing fell on deaf ears. 

fast forward to the summer of 2014, the boy had to do something for a talent showcase, but then he realized how rusty he had become with the guitar. that’s when he remembered what he had promised himself to do a long time ago—to practice playing the guitar until he became very good at it. that was when he picked up his ibanez and started strumming it again.

peta talent showcase

he was determined to play the ramones’ blitzkrieg bop, to which i remember saying, “blitzwhat?” and his father saying, “not yet.”

i left them to settle  it and decide on his performance. when my husband brought  titanium up, our son looked like he was ready to jump out of the window. we were also a bunch of 12-year old kids once and we know too well that if we had ideas running through our young skulls it would be fatal not to make it pull through.

we painstakingly explained why blitzwhatever was not a good idea at that time. my  husband and i are not theater people (and i realize at this very second how we don’t have such fantastic titles for ourselves like other people do.  i never quite understand what the hell a soccer mom is. is she a coach? a player? somebody who cheers for her kid even if he or she just perpetually runs away from the ball?) but we are teeming with appreciation for the arts and we know enough that a performer, any performer, has a very important job of communicating with the audience.

we were pretty sure that the other 16 people in his group had never heard of the ramones and may have heard about nirvana, metallica and the beatles like they’ve heard about a certain james or peter from the bible. when he asked a few people in his group later on, he found out that it’s true. you know, nirvana, james, peter.

happily reunited with their owner

one thing that we love about cole is that he is generally good-natured. he may argue with us at some point and there may even be a subtle struggle between his ideas and ours, but he listens to us. he has never raised his voice to prove his point, considering that he is a very opinionated person, nor has he (consciously) gone against our will.

in short, titanium did happen (he studied this acoustic version). the moment he gave us his nod of surrender, he began to practice for days no end and then gave what was an enjoyable performance for his “classmates” during the talent showcase. when he struck the first few chords everyone started singing with him until the end of the song. of course everyone knew the song and nobody had to ask blitzwhat?!

the talent showcase was exclusive to the kids of children’s theater 2a so parents were not allowed to watch. but when he came out smiling, i knew something went very, very right.

“papa was right,” cole told me with a sincere happy smile plastered on his face.

he knows he's far from becoming a great musician but the talent showcase reignited his love for his guitar. 

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peta titanium david guetta  ibanez guitar summer program nirvana homeschooling  ramones

Friday, May 16, 2014

PETA: the end of a short, meaningful journey

Friday, May 16, 2014
eymard street


my son and i enjoyed our early morning walks for five weeks in the relatively quiet eymard street in new manila. he was enrolled in the summer program of the philippine educational theater association (peta), which i learned they offered while i was searching for interesting plays to watch for the summer.

it took a bit of convincing before he said yes to giving theater a try. his doubts about it stemmed from the thought that it was a total disconnect from his world of comic books and whatever it was that occupied his enterprising 12-year-old brain. but as parents, there is one power that luckily works with our children. it’s called "convincing power" (you can do the sarcastic sheldon laugh now.)

on his first day, he could not stop thanking us for “pushing him just a bit” because the summer program proved to be everything that we promised it would be—fun.

there were times when my son and i walked briskly through eymard street because he was paranaoid about being late. i’ve been a mother for 12 years and i’m glad i still get my share of surprises. seriously, scared of being late? he wouldn't wake up early in the morning even i dropped a bomb in his room, so yes, surprised i was that he would wake up on his own at 5:30 am. he'd set his own alarm (nope, no bombs this time) and even made his own breakfast on some days when i’d  still be in the shower battling with my half-awake self.

i must say that his diligence did not only surprise me, it also saved our household from my hayena-resonating convulsions (except that mine’s  not really qualified as laughing) during mornings when he’d refuse to budge from the bed.

looking back at those five weeks, i have so much to be thankful for. the peta theater experience helped my 12-year-old in a lot of ways. it renewed his love for his electric guitar, he was happy with the people that he met and made friends with easily; it reignited his sense of diligence; it tested how well he could follow instructions from his teachers and proudly passed that; it was also a meaningful exercise for him to muster humility (a scarcity among 12-year olds) because he willingly listened to his peers when they coached him with his (initial) six-word liner, which he found arduous beyond our comprehension. peta was also a confirmation for him that teachers could be wonderful, talented, creative, fun and beautiful people who do not always subscribe to the idea that competition is the only way for learning to work.

the line, by the way, was: ayan na, ayan na ang balete! (translation not available here. please go somewhere else, thank you.)

when his teachers gave him more lines later on, we could not help but chide him: “how on earth did you even end up with more lines?!”

soul teachers. joan bugcat & pat liwanag

for me, as the proverbial fetcher (my peta ID said so), i also had my share of wonderful moments. for one, those early morning walks were refreshing especially that we didn’t have to go through busy streets nor elbow our way through a sea of people. there were a lot of greens to shortly rest our eyes on and as soon as we’d get to peta, i would exult in pride from having done my three-minute morning exercise, which to me earnestly counted.

i also bumped into another converse-donning mom and in the first three meetings we both agreed that we’d been friends for 10 years, but just didn’t know each other.

the last day before the recital, we decided to go earlier than usual to make our final early morning walk at eymard, which of course was shamefully and inappropriately overdramatic because it’s not exactly a road less traveled.  

we made friends with this guy.
the short street was named
after him.
what i loved about those walks was the quality of time that we spent just talking while heading towards peta. when my son gives me free, sincere access to his unadulterated thoughts, i listen. it warms my heart way better than any brew could. 

and the performance? he made it through without passing out. i honestly think he did really well, if you may ask.  

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Thursday, May 15, 2014

ways to let anxiety go

Thursday, May 15, 2014

if you will it, it will happen.

i wrote about morning anxiety in my last post. you can read it here. i had a long-term relationship with morning anxiety before i finally decided to stop letting it whip me around like an agile torero up on a raging bull. it wasn’t fair to my boyfriend and to our growing kids. letting anxiety rule over me felt like i was allowing my relationship with my family to wilt away while i willingly ingested the rubbish that anxiety was feeding me.

our earthly experiences have brought us gifts like happiness (too much or too little of it), fear (rational or not), sadness, anger (controlled or otherwise), disgust, anticipation, and some others that we sometimes claim we can’t name. these emotions have molded us into unique human beings—too unique sometimes that we end up not knowing our own selves.

i call fear, disgust, etc. “gifts” because without them, we’d be nothing but a blank canvass. 

if there is one thing that we are not designed to do is be that masochist gargantuan bowl that guzzles anything that comes our way. emotions will come the way bills do so it's clear that there’s no running away from it. since we can’t choose what life throws at us all the time, we need to find ways to anchor our ships when storms come. 

morning anxiety was one of the persistent storms in my life until i realized that there could be some way to ease my way out of it. better yet, turn my back away from it—completely.

helping yourself cope with morning anxiety will be far from a walk in the park, and will more be like being on a segway and not knowing what on earth you're doing. you’ll get better in time. it won’t work like magic, and it will challenge your will power.

as promised in my article “suffering from morning anxiety but don’t know why?”, none of these things will lead you to the doorsteps of a drug store, nor will i take you to a landing page where i can collect a fee so you could get “the tips”. like most of you, i’ve also fallen for marketing platforms by “creative” experts who give great advices—then ask for a fee. good thing i could never afford to pay for advice.

here are ways to help you cope with morning anxiety:

  hydrate. sounds like a silly advice on coping with anxiety, but well documented researches say that stress hormones called cortisol increase in level when you are dehydrated. sipping up will allow your body to function properly and keep it from getting stressed. i started feeling better in general when i started drinking more than a liter of water a day. but hey, whatever works for you, okay? just make sure you're hydrated.

  go easy on the joe. this is not entirely good news to coffee connoisseurs, but staying away from it will give you your much needed forty winks at night. a restful sleep will give your body a chance to recharge properly. water revs up the body better and faster than caffeine. it also does not cause a slump in your energy later in the day. if like me you can’t totally give coffee up, try your best to avoid the joe after 3 pm. 

  keep a journal. writing is still one of the most powerful tools in clearing up your mind. before you hit the sack at night, write down things that worry you and read it out loud. you’d be surprised at how less bothersome things could be if you put a voice to it. i keep a notebook where i write down short term goals, things i could get panicky about like budget and things “i think i might forget” and activities that i want to do. when i wake up in a panic attack feeling i’ve forgotten something, i go and check my notebook. it always eases me up.

  talk to yourself. make counter arguments with your own thoughts especially the long list of “what ifs” that time and again you’ve proven to be baseless and useless. remind yourself to stick to what is realistic, and if something you think is beyond your control (the airplane crashing, you losing a job because of a bad boss) then it’s beyond your control. period.  there is no use  fussing over it. i use the word “fine!” as an expletive and i always feel better after i say it out loud. 

  say “it is a great morning!” and believe it. when you wake up palpitating or in a panic attack and you don’t know why, accept this blissful ignorance. then tell yourself that if you can’t find the reason for you to stay in a panic mode then it’s useless staying all worked up for nothing.


kiss the sun. negative thoughts bind you in bed and that’s all the more reason why you have to push yourself out of bed and get out. sticking your head out the window where there’s sunshine helps a lot, if stepping out is too much. natural antidepressants in the brain called serotonin increase level in sunlight. good levels of serotonin will also give you a good night’s sleep.we get enough sunshine in the house, so i'm one lucky flower, but i still go out to get more of it.

  talk to a friend and make sure it’s the one who won’t hold your hand and overanalyze things with you. you will be sliding down a 45 degree slope with that one. we all have friends who always make us feel better in a truthful, sincere, honest way. call that one.

  tap your creative self. we’re not talking about creating exhibit-worthy artwork here. find ways to create something that will make you feel good. i like to pick up the paintbrush with my kids or other art materials sometimes. art is therapeutic and does wonders in ways you can’t explain.

    pamper yourself. if you live in the philippines, you’re lucky. the choices of spas with quality yet affordable services are aplenty. i’m pretty sure there’s one right around the corner from your home. if you hate massages (believe me, people like that are not fictional characters), there are other ways to be pampered. getting a good haircut is another simple way to refresh a weary soul. 

  go walking. it’s not only one of the most effective and safest exercises, it is also   beneficial in a number of ways. it’s calming and keeps your mind off negative thoughts as you engage your senses to what’s around you. 

  get quality sleep. it clears the mind, rejuvenates the body and does all the most wonderful things for your health.

     i’ve been free from the claws of morning anxiety for a little over a year now. i know you’ll get through this journey, too, if you grab it in the face, look it in the eye then wilfully throw it behind you. 

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