My happy place 

Got lost in the woods then found my solace among the trees. I’ve been hiking a lot lately, and it has become my peaceful workout and motivation. Didn’t want to crop or edit the photo, as it captures the precise feeling of gathering my thoughts along the way.

Poignant, don’t you think?

I miss you, Trader Joe!

I miss your well-stocked shelves filled with delicious treats and healthy snacks.  I miss your meatless meatballs, soyaki glazes, mango salsa, wasabi chips and nuts, healthy frozen dinner options (Japanese fried rice, pad thai, mushroom truffle pizza ftw!) and yes I won’t lie – I definitely miss your “two-buck-chuck” wine.  I was never really a big fan of your cookie butter, but yes, I sure miss that too. I miss the intentionally one item trips that ended up taking an hour longer and $100 more of random purchases.

Now that I finally have the time to experimental cook and bake, it sure isn’t the same without you, Mr.Joe.  Not the same kind of soy or almond milk, not the same kind of nutty mixes, not the same rewards without your mint ice cream cookies or choco-orange slices. NOT.THE.SAME. UGH!

Oh you mecca of everything amazing, you were too good to me.

I miss you and everything about you, Trader Joe’s……even your lousy organic dishwashing soap that couldn’t even clean.



I’ve been back in the Philippines for about 2 weeks, and still don’t think I’ve fully adjusted to life and things here.  Not only is this a lifestyle change, but I’m also re-adapting to 3rd world habits and coming to terms with Mom’s illness. I’m sure it will feel “normal” eventually, but so far it still feels like an awkward vacation.

Here are a few anecdotes of my experience thus far

  • It’s been funny retraining myself to constantly think and speak in Tagalog again. I’ve always been fluent, but this time it feels like I’m always stumbling  for words.
  • Getting used to taking a bath with a bucket of water and “tabo” (scoop) again. I got so used to instant hot showers, it was a little frustrating to wait for for water to be heated.  Some days I just gave in and took a minute bath by splashing cold water on myself.
  • Fruits galore! So happy to be around so many choices of tropical fruits again. We eat papaya and Guyabano for breakfast; then lansones and rambutan for snack; and mango for dinner.
  • Driving here is a guaranteed test of focus and patience.  There are no 4 way stops, no specified lanes, and worst of all, no yielding for pedestrians. It took me awhile to realize that I needed to be just as aggressive and less courteous on the road for a safe drive home.
  • Since the parents are retired, I sort of feel like I am too.  But don’t worry, I’m committed to taking on projects or classes to keep me busy.
  • It’s also pretty evident that Mom and Dad need help around the house.  With Mom resting most of the time, dad does everything from shopping for food, cooking, cleaning, running medical errands and caring for mom. I admire Dad for hanging on and never complaining through it all.
  • It’s been great reconnecting with my childhood best friends. I’m grateful that we can easily catch up and relate after 16 years of a disconnect in between.

Quite a mouthful, huh?  Will add more later.

We matter more than we realize

Someone once told me “If you’ve enjoyed my company 1/100th as much as I enjoyed yours, I think I did pretty well.”  At first I thought it to be a rather exaggerated comment from an acquaintance I barely knew, but in retrospect, I really am grateful for the sincerity and gratitude it stems from.  Sadly (and probably ironically) it was mentioned by a coworker I’ve lost touch with, but still someone I am grateful to have known and spent time with.

As time comes closer for me to move, and as time with close friends runs limited I’ve been thinking a lot about human connections, our multitude of responsibilities with each other and the nuances of the roles we play.  It’s easy to forget how much of an impact we have on each other. Whether we interact as coworkers, as acquaintances, as friends, as family, it is important to remind ourselves that we matter more than we realize. Although there are always risks, heart aches, anxiety and changes through life it is always refreshing to remind ourselves (and each other) that we are blessed with people to love and sustain us through it all. After all, that is what genuinely keeps us alive.