God Works

Yes, He does. In the most mysterious ways. I was in dire need of a push. I needed someone to tell me I wasn’t hitting a plateau, because it sure felt like it.

I had an entire weekend planned out. Go to work, watch some shows, catch up with friends, and be absolutely distracted. “Nope”, the universe said, “You’re not doing that.”

Oddly enough, God wanted me to sit my ass down and just LISTEN for once. How do you get me to cancel all my plans? Cue in the stomach flu. I spent the last few days at home stuck in bed with only my thoughts and an aching stomach to listen to. Of course, I had about a thousand things spiraling through my head at once – mostly negative things. I found myself questioning my priorities, my choices, my talent, and my passions.

Fast forward a little bit. After laying in bed contemplating life and binge-watching Queer Eye on Netflix for a day, I finally had some energy to get stuff done. I ended up having to make a quick trip to church to pick up a music book.

As I walk into the church, I notice it’s empty. My body all of a sudden gravitates to one of the pews and says, “SIT DOWN.” And in that moment something happened. I needed to pray. I needed to actually talk to God about what’s been going on in my head. I pick up one of the books in the pews and turn the page to that day’s gospel reading and reflection. The irony had me sitting there with chills.

So God, you gave me this far-from-delightful stomach virus to have my weekend revolve around this very moment? I was amazed. Everything I needed to hear all weekend was on that one page. Had I gone one day before, or two days before to pick up that book I would have missed this entire moment.

In the end I didn’t need someone to reassure me that I wasn’t a talentless human being – that was just me having low self-esteem and not believing in myself. I needed someone to tell me to “brush off” the resentment, regrets, and negativity that I have for myself. I needed to remember to trust in Jesus’ timing, not my own.

I promise I’m not contagious anymore an I don’t have the plague. Hugs are much needed. I’ll see you around.

 

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Where’d you go?

Damn, where have I been?

I’ll be honest. I pay for this URL every year but somehow completely forgot it existed. So hey, I’m back!

I’ve decided that while I have this in my possession, I’ll try and keep it as informal as possible. I think I was so caught up in my “brand” that it became too taxing and mentally exhausting to put up content. But I miss writing and I miss having an outlet.

So what brought me back? The stomach flu – which came at a really interesting time. Two days ago I woke up feeling worthless, yes, absolutely worthless. It’s the worst I’ve felt in a while and I COULDN’T FIGURE OUT WHY. So having the stomach flu forced me to stay home yesterday and reflect on why I feel this way.

I’ve been chasing this dream, a very specific dream, for the past two years. Those of you who know me well know that after I graduated I decided to change career paths, which was scary and to some people really weird. But I did it.

I had an audition a few days ago. The third audition for the same role I’ve been chasing after since I graduated. I figured, “Third time, I got this.” But of course I have to kick myself in the ass about it. I think the fact that I’m not absolutely perfect made me feel both mentally and physically sick this past weekend.

Am I okay? Yes, I’m okay. I think I go through this crazy mental block at least every other month. This time it had to take form in an actual virus, which is fine. Am I going to give up? No. I signed up for this crazy ass journey and I’m going to follow through!

Sorry, not sorry, that this post is all over the place. It feels good to be back and writing SOMETHING again. I love you all, I’ll write to you soon.

Love (2/5/2017)

So I know the title says “Sunday”, and I’m writing this on a Monday, but it’s the intention that counts, right? I fell asleep on my laptop last night and woke up this morning with a large puddle of drool where words were supposed to be. Oops!

Introducing my new weekly addition to this blog, Sunday Soul Sessions. Inspired by my Passion Planner gifted to me by my wonderful #yogang (aka my friends who I do yoga with). This planner has seriously been a game changer for me as I get back on track to chasing my dreams this new year.

A big part of the planner’s purpose is weekly reflection, which has helped me immensely. Not only do I reflect on what I can do better during the following week, but I reflect on the many things I can be thankful and proud of that happened during this week. So I thought, why not turn it into a weekly post that I can share with my wonderful followers? (Ps. I love all 21 of you!) So here goes nothing…

Sunday Soul Session: LOVE

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A few days ago, someone very close to me told me something along the lines of “the world doesn’t revolve around love”. Those few words really pierced something inside me because I can honestly say that throughout the entire existence of my being, I’ve understood the importance of love and putting love at the forefront of your life. The conversation left me confused and sad.

The next morning, I sat in front my little prayer altar in my room and turned on my new favorite meditation by Dr. Wayne Dyer (Thank you, YouTube!). What I love about this meditation are the affirmations. I’m a firm believer that thinking/saying positive things leads to actual positivity in your life. I went through the motions, chanting the affirmations as they went by, until one particular affirmation hit me like lightning in the best way possible.

“The very essence of my being

and the way to transform my life is love.”

Now, my definition of love has definitely changed over the years. In middle school, I thought love was defined by those really “emo” songs I would listen to on a daily. When I got to high school, I thought love was defined by the acceptance of my peers. When I got to college, I thought it was working hard to prove to myself of my capabilities. I didn’t LITERALLY think those were the definitions of love, but those are the things I revolved my life around during those times.

I’m in the next stage of my life now, still trying to define love to the best of my capabilities. Now I’m coming to realize that love isn’t something so easily definable, because it has a different meaning in each of our lives. Love for those around us, even those we despise. Love for the hard times. Love for the good times. Love for ourselves. Love for our mistakes. Love for our triumphs. Love for our family. Love for our friends. Love for our lovers. Love for the loud. The quiet. The confusion. The clarity.

When I find myself acting in love, the anger goes away. The self-doubt goes away. Fear goes away. And I welcome in the faith and hope, the radiance and light, and the stillness I need to move on. It all sounds so very cliché, but to me it makes so much sense. It’s nearly impossible to attract negativity in your life if your life is centered around love. I’m not saying that hardships and tragedies will not happen, because that’s life, but it’s the way we embrace those things that in the end define us and define how our lives are going to be.

-Holly

Post-Vacation and Putting my Dreams First (9/20/2016)

Coming back from vacation was hard. After six weeks of adventure and sunshine, coming back to little Walnut, CA put my internal clock and my mental state of mind in a rut. I was sleeping during the day and wide awake during the night. It was frustrating because the first thing I wanted to do when I got back home was start applying for jobs. For some reason, I felt like I didn’t quite have my life together, even though the whole point of  my trip to the Philippines and Bali was for me to have some clarity.

So I did a little purging. I painted the horrendous green and yellow walls of my room an off-white color. I nicely displayed all my new Balinese souvenirs throughout my room. I took down all my posters and artwork that I thought didn’t really speak to me anymore. The past two years, I’ve collected posters of concerts I’ve either worked on for Titan Radio or have attended to write reviews for. I used to display all my concert tickets on my cork board along with my backstage or press passes. And for some reason, they just didn’t speak to me like they used to, so I took them down and shoved them in my closet.

img_5378The horrendously green and yellows walls that used to plague my room.

I had no idea at the time, but in a sense it was me telling myself what I really wanted, and what I needed to do. But I didn’t see it, I just saw it as me getting rid of clutter in my room. So a week after I came back I finally started applying for jobs. I went in with the “as long as I apply to a shit-load of jobs, someone is bound to hire me” kind of mentality. I started applying to marketing jobs, event coordinating, social media, PR, basically anything that I had experience doing. I didn’t even bother to specifically apply to entertainment or music companies, which is what the last three years of my life has revolved around. I just wanted to work because I thought I had bills to pay and a car to buy.

One week later, a company called me in for an interview. Long story short, what I thought was going to be a creative marketing position turned out to be sales. I accepted the position initially, and ended up crying for the rest of the day. I blamed my small ink of depression on my mom, who pointed out if I went along with the job then I wouldn’t have time to sing anymore. I think the thought of not having time for singing put me in a state of angry shock. I realized this isn’t what I wanted to do at all. The next morning I called and declined the position. And from that point on, I decided I was going to be a Disney princess at Disneyland. I wasn’t going to put that small dream of mine in the backseat anymore. Am I going to be one for sure? I have no idea. I haven’t been to an audition in years. Do I care? No. Although the uncertainty is killing me, I just want to say that I tried.

I see my friends on Facebook, and I’m really proud of my friends who are working and doing what we all set out to do after college, but at the same time a little jealous. There’s still a little part of me that beats myself up about not “adulting” at this very moment. I’m always at a constant battle with my ego, one part telling me that I need to get my shit together and another part reminding me that I’m only 21-years-old with no bills to pay, so getting my shit together can wait. But my dreams can’t.

TRAVEL: Alvin’s Spirit Animal is a Whale Shark (Swimming with Whale Sharks in Oslob, Cebu 7/29/16)

Called “whales” because of their enormity, but still considered sharks because of their gills, whale sharks really are the most curious creatures. Friendly (and hungry), they happily swim towards the shores of Oslob, Cebu where they are fed food by the locals and swim with eager tourists.

My day started out like the few days before. I had a slight fever and my throat was killing me, however I was determined to get out of the room and start my next adventure. With our motorbikes, Josh and Alvin drove us one hour south to Oslob. It started raining, which slowed us down a little bit, but we made it just in time. 

After watching a short orientation and buying our tickets, we headed to shore and got in a very small blue banka (boat). We spent less than a minute on the boat and I already saw a few whale sharks swim underneath us. Many would pop their heads out of the water near the boats who would feed them. Josh and Alvin eagerly jumped in the water to swim with them. Hesitantly, I slowly got in the water, and to my left and right were huge whale sharks! Afraid to get too close to them, I clung onto the boat, which was still an extremely close view. One even passed right under me and gave my foot a high five. It was definitely an experience to remember. 


We ended the day in Moalboal to eat McDonalds (yes, we were craving western food) and pick up our laundry. Right as we were about to leave, a group of locals started yelling in our direction saying that our tire was flat. Turns out Josh had been riding with a flat tire. We drove about two kilometers and paid 60 pesos (a little over $1) to get his tire fixed. We finally got to Moalboal and were surprised to learn that our laundry wasn’t at the shop. One of the workers said that it wouldn’t be ready until the next day since they weren’t dry yet. I had been wearing the same pair of pants for the past five days, so the boys and I waited until they brought our clothes back, still a little damp since it was air-drying on a rainy day. 

Josh took me to see a doctor in Badian right after that. It turns out that I have tonsillitis, but I’m glad that’s all it is and that I have medicine for it. I paid 50 pesos (about a dollar) to see a doctor. There was no appointment needed and a very short wait time. Josh drove me back to Moalboal after that so we could pick up antibiotics at a pharmacy. I’m happy to say I’m well on my way to getting better. 

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT SWIMMING WITH THE WHALE SHARKS:

*Cost: 500 pesos (locals) and 1000 pesos (foreigners)

*Do not apply sunscreen prior to seeing them. It’s hazardous to the whale sharks, and you will have to wash it off prior. 

*Touching (or riding) is not allowed. They say it’s an offense of 4-6 months in jail. 

*Whale shark swimming is from 6AM-12PM.

*It’s best to go in the morning. There are a lot less people and a more intimate experience with the sharks. 

*Swimming/snorkeling time is approximately 30 minutes, and scuba diving is one hour. 

I had a wonderful time swimming with the sharks, however I did have my doubts while I was doing it. I did see trash floating in the water where we were, which I know can’t be good for them to be around. They say not to touch the whale sharks, however, they come so close that sometimes it’s inevitable if the waves are crashing too hard. It’s a great experience, but I hope someday soon they can make it a safer and better experience for the whale sharks.

TRAVEL: How I Survived Being Sick (7/28/16) 

We finally made it to our second destination, Badian, Cebu. After three straight days of having a fever, my temperature finally went back down to normal. A huge, huge thanks to Josh for taking such good care of me the past few days. From medicine and food runs, to keeping me warm when I had a bad case of chills, I’m so grateful to be traveling with such a loving companion! 

After arriving in Cebu City, we spent the night there, thinking we were going to leave first thing the next morning. However, I woke up with a worsened fever and was too sick travel. Alvin and Josh went on a medicine, fruit, and pandesal run right away. By 2PM, we finally left our Airbnb, but before we went to the bus station, I needed to get cheese for my pandesal. Pasteurized cheese is a must with my pandesal! (It’s good, I promise.) We took a three hour bus south to Badian with what seemed like the most crazy driver we’ve had so far who honked almost every ten seconds. By the time we got to Matutinao Resort, the sky was pitched black and we weren’t exactly sure where to go. But as usual, the locals were so friendly and helpful. We were settled in no time. 

The next morning, we finally got to appreciate our new little home to the fullest. Our room (that looks like a hut on the outside), hovers right on top of the water, with the most beautiful view of the stillest light blue sea (which I just learned is the Philippine Sea). Alvin got to enjoy some yoga on our patio, while I rested up since I was still feeling sick this morning. After, we took a trip about 20 minutes north to Moalboal to drop off our laundry and have brunch. The boys rented motorbikes that we plan on using for our trip to Oslob tomorrow and we found a spot to eat brunch overlooking the sea. During brunch, I saw at least three fish fly out of the water like a dolphin. Excited that I kept seeing them, the boys declared that “flying fish” was officially my “spirit animal”. 


We ended our day with a trip to Kawasan Falls, which is conveniently located right in front of our resort! We walked about 20-25 minutes until we finally reached the falls that Badian is known for. Although I haven’t seen many waterfalls, I can say that this one is pretty astounding.



Going here taught me how to appreciate from afar. Heeding my parents’ advice to stay away from water activities until I felt 100% better, the boys and I decided not to go in the water. If there’s anything I’ve learned from these past three days, it’s the importance of listening to your own body. Being a yogini, I figured I would have known this by now, but sometimes even I forget. During our stay in El Nido, I worked my body too hard and didn’t give it enough rest, even when my body was screaming for it. After our hike to Taraw Cliff, I knew I needed a break but still insisted on going out. Not listening to my body’s needs caused me to be sick for the next 4 days. 

If there’s any one singular advice that I would give to any traveler, it’s to know and listen to your own body’s needs. In yoga classes, instructors often say that “you are your own best yoga teacher”. Same goes here, only you can best diagnose your body during every instance of every day. 

MEDICATIONS YOU MUST PACK WHILE TRAVELING:

If it weren’t for my ever-so-loving (and cautious) mother, I wouldn’t have had all the supplies I needed to get well so quickly. Here’s what has saved me and the boys on our trip so far:

Vitamin C

Throat lozenges
Tylenol (or generic brand)

Advil (or generic brand) 

Pedialyte Rehydration Packets

DayQuil and NyQuil 

Allergy medicine (Benadryl, Loratadin, etc.)

Anti-diarrhea pills

Pepto-bismol

Calamine lotion (for mosquito bites)

Aloe Vera (for bites and sunburns) 

And of course, you should pack anything and everything you may personally need such as an an inhaler, additional ointments, etc. You may be concerned about it taking up room in your bag, but trust me when I say it is very, very worth it. Also, drink lots of warm liquids. I had sinigang (Filipino soup) three meals in a row, which was the perfect hot meal for me to have when I was sick. 

Ps. Thank you to my family for all your prayers and love! And to my mom for endless texts and calls about how I needed to eat kalamansi and papaya to flush out my toxins. Love you!

*Update: I finally went to the doctor and found out I have tonsillitis! If you ever need to see a doctor in the Philippines, ask a local where the nearest medical center/hospital is. I paid 50 pesos (a little over $1) to see a doctor and get a prescription. In most major cities there should be a pharmacy you can pick up from. 

TRAVEL: Patience, patience, patience (7/19/16)

Me, Alvin, and Josh leaving at LAX.

I’m glad to say that I’ve made it to the motherland safe and sound. These past two days have felt like a long week’s worth of traveling. What was supposed to be an 18-hour flight (including the 2-hour layover) ended up being around 21 hours due to a landing delay. We stopped in Tokyo for about 4-hours, which was great because Alvin and I got to eat free chicken katsu curry courtesy of All Nippon Airlines. We finally got to Manila, soon to realize that Josh was in a completely different airport than us! Frantic, I called him and Alvin and I quickly got a cab to go pick him up. We sifted through crazy Philippine traffic, reunited with Josh, and finally at 1AM got to our Airbnb. 

I’m writing this as I wait for my delayed flight to Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Philippines. We got here about three hours early, ate what I call the Pinoy version of Cheetos, and played psoy dos until we got tired of Alvin winning. And surprisingly, I feel okay waiting. I figured we came all the way here, and there’s no use in fidgeting when I can be seizing the opportunity to test and train my patience.

I definitely already feel more at ease here than I have ever felt. There’s no pressure here for me to thinking about finding a job, how I’m going to make car payments, and no utter feeling that I absolutely NEED to be doing something productive. And for that, I am already so grateful. Now, time to wait for another flight (of many more to come!). 


The view landing for our layover in Tokyo, Japan.

Waiting can definitely be hard while traveling though. Here are some ways to stay sane while waiting through traffic and delayed flights when traveling! 

Practice speaking the basics of the native language of the country you’re in. Josh, Alvin, and I are having fun brushing up on our Tagalog. I don’t know much, but the little I do know has definitely helped us out so far! 

Bring a good book. A couple good books. If you’re traveling with friends, pack some easy-read books that you all are interested in for you to trade off. it makes for really great conversation and insight.

Download new music before you leave for your trip. I always make sure to download at least 5 new albums I’ve been meaning to listen to. It’s great because you’re not distracted while listening, and get to really just sit, relax, and dissect the music. 

Pack a deck of cards. I tried placing a bet where the loser had to buy everyone a bottle of alcohol… And then I lost so I took that back. 

Snacks. Hungry Holly = Grumpy Holly = sucks for everyone.

Make stuff. I make friendship bracelets and I usually like to give them to people that I meet on the way. Some people doodle, crochet, or knit, and those are all great ways to keep busy.