One Man’s Trash Is Another Man’s Treasure

One Man’s Trash Is Another Man’s Treasure

I buy in bulk but I am not a hoarder. Nonetheless, I’ve accumulated things over the last 15 years that I’m not proud of.  These are things that I bought spur of the moment and regretted immediately after paying.  Too bad we don’t have return policy here in the Philippines.  Some are old clothes that don’t fit anymore or just excess things.  I discovered that I had five sunglasses and realized I didn’t need that money.  So I kept two, and sold three.

With the advent of Ebay, OLX, Carousell and FB groups, I started selling my old items last year.  It felt good to be able to purge the unwanted and unused items in my place instead of being reminded of my past weaknesses.  I looked through my drawers, cabinets and desks.  I evaluated which items I would use or keep and went on from there.  It was a mighty task to undertake and I knew I had to take it slow or else I may just give up entirely.

I looked at areas of my room by sections and evaluated what I wanted to declutter and whether I would give it away or sell it.  I did that everyday, a section at a time, and a few items at a time. Every day, I take picture of a few items and post them online during my downtime.  I’ve sold clothes, shoes, bags, accessories, old electronics and even extra hair curlers.   I’ve even sold my old and used makeup products. You name it, I’ve sold it.   So far, I’ve sold about USD4,000 worth of crap in my room.  It felt really really good!

I feel like it’s such an achievement to dispose of my old unwanted things and make money to boot.  But that just means that I need to be more circumspect with what I buy in the future.  It will be less work for me if I don’t have to sell it because I didn’t buy it in the first place.  I’m not yet done and I still have things that I want to sell.   But one day at a time.  And if something doesn’t sell right away, I just re-post the item until someone takes the bait.

This is also one way of recycling and repurposing items.  I feel that it is such a consumerist society and I didn’t want to add on to the wastage being produced especially with products that are made super fast and super cheap.  Everything is disposable.  We don’t need to dispose.  We can pass it on.  For a small fee.  It’s like I bought the item, paid rental for using it, and selling it for residual value.  Everyone wins.  Who am I kidding? I just want to sell it.  If I don’t sell my old crap, I don’t have space to buy my new crap.

I’m super grateful to the internet and how it was helped facilitate all this.  Who would’ve thought I’d be able to sell all my unwanted clutter.  Back then, the only recourse was to have a garage sale.  Now, I can do both.  I recently signed up for a group neighborhood garage sale.  I get a table to put all the stuff I want to sell for the day.  Seems like a good idea to work both strategies.

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Adios Retail Therapy

Adios Retail Therapy

I have come a long way to be able to say this.  Adios shopping! Who I am now is a complete turnaround from how I was ten years ago. Back then, I was in my banker job.  I was paid well with no financial responsibilities.  All the money went to my own expenses.  I shopped, I dined, I partied.  Whenever I was stressed or unhappy, I would go shopping to make myself feel better.  The relief lasted only for a short while, and the misery set in again.

I used retail therapy to comfort myself.  I was stressed at work and it felt like I was mad at the money I was getting paid with so I spent a lot of it.  I still saved a substantial amount, mind you.  But I bought a lot of crap.  Clothes, shoes, accessories, electronics, bags and jewelry.  You name it, I bought it.  Looking back now, the thrill of the hunt of what to buy was what made me happy.  After I bought the item, the elated feeling goes away. And you’re left with that empty feeling of what to buy next.

At work, we dressed up well and bought designer shoes and bags. I graduated to expensive watches.  It felt like we were trying to keep up with the Joneses, the clients.  Who were kidding?  They were the clients, they had millions of dollars in their savings account.  We were the bankers, it will never be the same.

I kept on buying until I stopped myself around five years ago.   I was on a trip and bought five designer handbags.  My tax refund alone was enough to buy another handbag.  I realized that this wasn’t me.  What was I doing?  I was ashamed of how I had become.  In the last five years I made a conscious effort to curb my inner consumer and buy only what I needed to.  I became more discriminating with where I spent my money on.   There was a time when I felt ashamed to be seen wearing designer items.  I tried to be as low-key as possible.  It was a far cry from how I was before.  But that was an extreme reaction too.

Would my life be better if I used a Chanel bag compared to a no-name bag?  Would I walk better and look better wearing a Christian Louboutin heels compared to heels I bought at Payless Shoe Source.  I have to admit, I do have both which I don’t use as much now.  They’re reminders for me of how I was in the past.  It also helps that I don’t buy as much now since I am dropping sizes in clothes so I didn’t want to buy something that will be too big for me in a month’s time.

I still shop but only for essentials and gifts.  I’m more discerning now of what I buy.  Do I want it or do I need it?  And I don’t do impulse purchases as much.   Maybe it’s age.  I find that I’d rather keep my money rather then buy something that I know I will lose interest in a few days later.

Adios retail therapy! You’ve helped me through my twenties and thirties.  It’s been good knowing you.  We’ve had some fun times together but it’s time to move on.  I am a mature, responsible adult now and I choose to make myself happy in other ways.

Support Groups

Support Groups

Last month, I signed up to this forum called 3 Fat Chicks.  I came across this website when I was massively researching about weight loss tips and tricks.  I’ve started, succeeded and failed at many diets or weight loss regimens my whole life. At many points in my life, I have put fitness and weight loss at varied degrees of importance.  The last time was 12 years ago when I wanted to prove to myself I could.  Back then I was only overweight 20 pounds.  Now, I still have 25 pounds to go before reaching normal weight.

The group has many separate subgroups where you can read what others wrote or you can post yourself.  I’ve introduced myself in the Introductions page, I’ve posted on the Weight Loss Support  page as well as other pages.  Being a part of this group helped me realized that I was not alone in need help with losing weight.  Yes, I know that there is a problem with obesity now. That doesn’t mean that everyone is trying to cut down and drop weight.  Reading about other people’s experiences made me realize that it is hard, and everyone is having a hard time trying to get to their goal weight.  You read about what other people are doing that are helping them on their journey and those that aren’t helpful.  You get to see how long it takes to lose X amount of weight.

Oftentimes, I get easily discouraged when it feels like the number on the scale isn’t dropping.  That’s most likely the time, I give up and start going back to bad eating habits.  What’s the point?  I put in all this work, but the weight isn’t coming off.  On this forum, you read about other people experiencing the same thing.  Other members encourage and give support and you end up doing the same because you can relate to how they feel and what they are going through.

Sometimes, the hardest is being honest with those closest to us.  I couldn’t tell my weight to my friends for the longest time since I was deathly embarrassed that I had allowed myself to go completely.  In the forum, I wasn’t afraid of being judged about my highest weight.  I could freely write how I felt about the whole weight loss process, how I felt, and how I just hate to work out but I just have to push myself.  The group is there for us to share our good days and bad days.

I end up checking the forum every few days to read about new joiners and new topics.  I update other members my weight loss progress and encourage others to power through.   I join challenges, set goals and mini goals, try new recipes to help make the whole journey more interesting. In the same way we seek support from our family and friends for many things,  a weight loss support group will make it easier to achieve our goal of a healthy lifestyle.

 

Happy vs. Joy

Happy vs. Joy

We live in a society wherein the primary objective is to be happy.  Whenever something happens, you ask yourself whether you are happy about it or not.  Before going to bed, you ask yourself whether it was a happy day or not.  It is this state of being that everyone constantly tries to achieve but it seems like the more we try to be happy, the more miserable we end up being.  Why is that so?

Let me quote my second favorite musical of all time, Wicked, and one of the more unappreciated songs sung by Glinda called, Thank Goodness.

(sung) That’s why I couldn’t be happier
No, I couldn’t be happier
Though it is, I admit
The tiniest bit
Unlike I anticipated
But I couldn’t be happier
Simply couldn’t be happier
(spoken) Well – not “simply”:
(sung) ‘Cause getting your dreams
It’s strange, but it seems
A little – well – complicated
There’s a kind of a sort of : cost
There’s a couple of things get: lost
There are bridges you cross
You didn’t know you crossed
Until you’ve crossed…

And if that joy, that thrill
Doesn’t thrill you like you think it will
Still –
With this perfect finale
The cheers and ballyhoo
Who
Wouldn’t be happier?
So I couldn’t be happier
Because happy is what happens
When all your dreams come true
Well, isn’t it?
Happy is what happens
When your dreams come true!

Without consulting dictionary or Google, happiness comes across to me as a feeling that arises based on external situations. According to the song, happiness happens when all your dreams come true.  Then what?  What happens next?  We become so focused on reaching that goal in order to be happy.  We tell ourselves that we will only be happy once we’ve done this, achieved that, gotten this and surpassed that. And when you do get it, you know you will be happy.  You should be.  But have you ever felt a bit let down even when your dream did come true? And that it wasn’t how you anticipated it to be?

I had to grapple with this concept the last few months. In the past, I always thought that being happy was the most important thing in the world.  It was only recently that I realized that I wasn’t really searching for happiness.  I mean yes, who wouldn’t want all their dreams to come true?  I still do.  But I based so much of my self-worth and well-being on external situations and events.  These would be whether I get promoted, get a good bonus, get married and/or have children.  If I achieve it, I’m happy. If not, then I’m not happy.  It’s all very external-based and conditional.  I needed to change my mindset into being happy all the time, whether or not my dreams come true.

I realized there was something that was more important to me than being happy.  And that is joy. Somewhere along the way of trying to achieve my dreams, I seemed to have lost my joie de vivre. I’ve become an automaton. In my search for happiness, I realized that what I was actually looking for was joy. It was what I didn’t know I needed and wanted.  It is that cheerful enjoyment of life that I was looking for.  Whether or not my dreams come true, I will still have that same zest and exuberance for life.  I just want to feel excited to be alive even if it meant doing something new or doing the same thing over and over.  I want to find that sense of joy and wonder again when I was a child.  I want to be amazed at and be in awe of everything. Joy to me is an inner happiness and is unrelated to any external event.  In my mind, that is just how I differentiated between happy and joy.  Joy comes from within whereas happy is derived from the outside.

I still have dreams that I want to achieve.  Whether or not I achieve them, should not affect the unqualified joy I have for living. Sure there will be happiness, sadness, disappointment, contentment and many other emotional states.  What I want to maintain constant is that unwavering vibrancy to life.  Can’t believe it took me a while to realize that.  But I’m still glad I did.

You Have To Get Good With Yourself

You Have To Get Good With Yourself

I’ve heard this line many times from well-meaning friends but it was only recently that I fully understood it. People always said that you need to live the life you want to live or that you need to be the person you want to attract.  Yes. All of it is true.

All these years, I thought I was all good. I mean I was normal, well-adjusted and sociable. I mean everyone had some sort of baggage right? Mine was me seeking approval from my parents, in trying to be the daughter they wanted me to be as against how I really am. Growing up, my sister was always the symbol of a good daughter. Feminine, docile and quiet. Whereas, I was headstrong, stubborn, loud and somewhat of a tomboy. I always wanted to change to the way they wanted me to be. The intent was there but it rarely lasted over an hour because it’s just too darn hard to be someone I’m not.

And that is me being a seeker. Seeking approval, love, and attention because I wasn’t good with myself. And plus, parents always knew better right? They always said that nobody would like me if I was chubby, loud, not feminine and not subservient. Growing up, I always felt that I wasn’t good enough.  So I compensated by getting good grades.  That was my salvation. At least I was good for something.  With that in mind, I just worked at being the “smarter” daughter to distinguish myself for not being girly enough.

The vicious cycle continued and spilled to other areas in my life. I always needed external validation.  I often felt restless and incomplete because I was always seeking something. With relationships, I felt unattractive because I was overweight  and had residual feelings of not being girly enough to attract anyone.  I needed validation from men to feel attractive.  I always felt the least attractive amongst my friends and saw myself as the duff.  At work, I sought to prove myself capable and move up the ranks in order to feel that I was good.  This way, I could still show that I was good for something.

Taking the time off made me realize this destructive behavior I’ve been doing my whole life was my biggest enemy.  How could I be happy when I couldn’t accept myself as I am now? How could I be happy when I placed my happiness in the hands of others? I needed to take back the power I had given to others and keep it for myself.  I needed to love myself as I am now instead of asking others to love me or approve of me.

Granted, it’s not easy completely letting go of decades of practiced behavior.  I know that whenever I think of what my parents, friends, or whoever else think, I just need to remind myself that what matters most is what I think.  And with that, everything else becomes easier because I accept and love myself as I am now. Accepting myself doesn’t mean staying stagnant and being complacent with how I am. I still want to improve and be the best person I can be but on my own terms and not dictated by other people.

I will build a life I love and be happy while I am single instead of waiting for my prince to show up.  I will accept myself and appreciate all the good, the bad, and the ugly.  I will work to heal myself for any issues I may have and not blame others.  I will also not condemn myself for mistakes and know that I’ve learned from them. I will appreciate my inner and outer beauty, compliment myself and accept compliments graciously. I will love and accept myself even if I may sometimes fail at doing all these.

 

Life Begins Now

Life Begins Now

It’s not my birthday yet but I decided to change the name of my blog to LIFE BEGINS NOW.  For the first two months of 2017, I was at a low point.  I felt lost and unsure of what to do.  The enormity of turning 40 while still single haunted me.  You can add in my feelings of un-attractiveness to the mix. I was miserable and felt like an utter failure.   It seemed like I failed myself, my family and mostly myself. I was my own worst enemy, my harshest judge and critic.  I had reached the ripe old age of almost forty with nothing to my name. (I exaggerate. I am healthy and so is my family and for that I am grateful.)  And that was why I named it “Confessions of an Almost 40-year old Single Woman.”  I was sad and that was how I saw myself.  Looking at it now with more positive eyes, it felt like I pitied myself.  There’s nothing wrong with 40 and single.  It was all in my mind.

Starting the blog was a way for me to “release” my thoughts.   If you had started reading the posts chronologically, you can sense the sadness and the emptiness.  But as the days went on, I took charge of my life and what is within my power to change things.  I embarked on a lifelong journey to eat healthy and concentrate on fitness. I started doing  more creating instead of just thinking.  I worked on my lip balm experimentation and my arts stuff.  As I planned my blog entries, I felt this sense of empowerment and fulfillment. I was being productive in reality and not just in my mind.

It has only been a month but the positive effects are evident.  I know that I wanted to change the name but I decided on Life Begins Now because I have this tendency to postpone life and happiness until a certain future event occurs like when I get married, when I have a family, when I get rich, when I get promoted or when I get thinner.  But life doesn’t work that way.  I can’t keep postponing happiness.  It has to begin NOW no matter how perfectly imperfect I am.  I choose to be happy and live in the NOW.

The Art of Living

The Art of Living

Break through all the barriers and feel that you are blessed. This is the one and only step you have to take. The rest will all happen.

-Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Two months ago, I attended a meditation course called The Art of Living. I was hesitant to attend at first but the program director encouraged me to give it a try. I did and I am so thankful to him. I did not know what it was but I knew I needed help in focusing and centering myself. I felt lost, sad, helpless and useless. This momentary lapse was so unlike me. Being part of the course helped me in so many ways. Aside from the breathing exercises, I was able to keep a network of like-minded and supportive group and we have weekly meditation practices that is open to anyone who wants to join.

This morning, the same program director who “nudged” me before sent a short video on Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and his tips on how to get rid of sadness. It was short but it really packed a punch. I knew I had to share the video because this is what happened to me. I was wallowing in my own self-inflicted misery and feeling sorry for myself. One day, I just woke up and told myself ENOUGH! Enough with this whole woe is me attitude. I have everything I could ever want and need. Fine. Almost everything. Why am I torturing myself with thoughts of what I don’t have or what could’ve been? Looking back, it was an experience I had to go through and I realized I never want to be like that again. Ever.

According to Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, in order to get rid of sadness you have to:

  1. You have to DO IT YOURSELF. Wake up and take responsibility for yourself. It is only in your own mind that you create your sadness. There is nobody who gives misery to others if they don’t take it.
  2. We have too much ambition. And we want too much. It is excessive desires that make you sad. You need to think of desires like a soccer ball. Kick the ball and say, “I DON’T CARE.” Drop the desires and sadness goes away.
  3. Invoke the valor in you. Be strong. Be brave. Be courageous. Face the sadness and confront it.
  4. Offer it to God or the Divine.

It has been two months since I finished the program. I will have to admit that I end up meditating only once a week but it is still very helpful and I try to join group sadhana on weekends once a month. I was also inspired to do more SEVA which is service. According to his book, seva is our own inner joy pouring forth into action.  When you are happy, you want to share that happiness in whatever form it takes.  I have since taken back control of my life from sadness and it has given me boundless happiness, hope and energy. I know I am not perfect. Life may not be perfect but I can handle it. Sri Sri said, Make room for imperfection. Think of it as the area in your house where you keep your garbage. You need that area to keep your entire house nice and clean, right?