To kickstart Friends on Channel Maddie, I asked my friend, Erin to write a lifestyle piece. Erin and I met in high school (I think I was in 9th grade?). We were part of the same sports team (go Bulldogs!) and we were in the same House (go Falcons!), and somewhere between those practises and after school hang-outs, we became good friends.
I truly enjoyed reading Erin’s piece and I feel like I got to know her better. Some parts made me laugh, some made my heart do that little tug. It also made me think about living in the moment, especially now that it feels like I’m just getting through the motions, to the extent that I’ve completely stopped hitting the pause button to reflect.
I’ll stop blabbing, since I suck at introductions, anyway. I hope you appreciate and take delight in reading such a special piece. ❤️
Hi there! How’s it going? My name is Erin. I’ve never written a proper blog post before (unfortunately, my Grade 8 Tumblr doesn’t count). So I would love to take this opportunity to introduce myself and share a few random thoughts about life, travel and lessons I’ve learned about living in the now.
At the moment, it’s a hot summer’s day and the blinds are only slightly covering me from the sun’s rays. My ceiling fan is on full blast, my little doggo on my left and Rupi Kaur’s latest poetry book on my right. I sigh heavily because today, my shoulders are slumped and feelings of writer’s block emerge. I was going to procrastinate and start this blog piece tomorrow but I stumbled upon this particular piece:
“‘i’m either romanticising the past
or I’m busy worrying about the future
it’s no wonder
i don’t feel alive
i’m not living
in the only moment that’s real
You see, I have been a diary writer type of person since I was 7 and I am now in my early twenties. When I lack perspective or happiness in the present, I would occasionally flick back to the pages of my younger self, who was always so optimistic about the world (without really knowing much about it).
Fast forward and here we are now, in this crazy realm of social media, technology, political unrest, climate change and to put the cherry on top – a crazy pandemic. More than ever, it has been quite a challenge for me to stay in the moment and meditate when there’s constant information being shoved at the forefront of my mind.
There’s a certain depth to writing – it’s emotional catharsis, reflection and vulnerability all in one. When my dear friend, Maddie, gave me this opportunity to write a blog post about myself and my current lifestyle, I took it as a sign from the universe. Why not share something in a way that’s different from a filtered and curated social media image, caption or video? (Heck, even my own personal diary!) Even more than that, Maddie has been my friend since 2009 and despite the long distance and busy lives we both lead, it meant a lot that she thought of me.
First of all, I currently live in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia and I’m a proud Filipina with a Spanish heritage (grandparents). I’m an avid traveller and have lived in places like Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Sydney and Baguio (this is where Maddie and I met!). Growing up, when someone would question my accent, ask where I’m from, get perplexed about my frizzy afro hair or why on earth I have moved around so much, I would simply state that I’m a third culture kid. So much so, I remember the times my family would pay for economy seating but instead, was given the whole freaking plane!
By the age of 6, I had already travelled 6 countries, had every toy I could ever ask for and was super spoiled to the point where I had my maid fired because I forced her to swing me off our level 20 balcony (Michael Jackson style). I convinced her to do it by fake crying and promising I wouldn’t tell anyone…only to lie and dob on her the very next day.
By the age of 7, I experienced a terrible home robbery in Papua New Guinea. I remember being with my mum and dad in their room and crying in silence because I knew my sister was alone in the other room. I remember my parents questioning about whether these robbers had knives, guns or if their motive was to kidnap us. I had never felt my chest so cold and my tiny heart beat so fast. My mum opened her window to wave in the hopes of grabbing the security guard’s attention below. Unarmed, my dad opened the bedroom door to peep and found the robbers with large machetes (thankfully) escaping towards the window they smashed open. A few months later, a similar scenario happened in the Philippines where my parents were in a vehicle with extended family to “pasyal.” I chose last minute not to join them and stayed in with my aunt. Later that evening, they hadn’t come home and I watched on the news that a bunch of hold-uppers stopped a vehicle on the road to fire gunshots out of nowhere. After all the worrisome waiting, outbound calls and cries for help, I discovered that I lost my uncle that day.
By the age of 8, I was on an overseas trip accompanied by my two younger sisters with no adults. By 11, I was living 6,314 km away from my mum. By 15, I worked my first job at Domino’s Pizza where my first shift involved some druggo attacking me, taking my sign and ripping it to pieces. I was also living in an all girls stuck-up boarding school at the time (ever seen the movie Wild Child?). By 17, when I graduated high school, I lived by myself for 4 years straight. I remember the early days when I lived on minimum part time wage whilst studying my double degree. My fridge broke down during a hot Queensland summer’s day and I couldn’t afford to replace it for about 3 months (the fact that I survived 3 months without a fridge BAFFLES me).
A fond memory of mine involves my extended family and I in Hong Kong Disneyland where we all went on this one ride together. We sat side by side and everyone was screaming and shouting from the adrenaline rush as we were very high off the ground. My eyes gazed across and saw my 70 year old grandma was totally unphased and looked like she was ready for a cup of tea! When we got off the ride, my grandma said “Yan lang? Tapos na? Grabe kayo! Naka-harness kayo, nagsisigaw pa rin na parang timang! Hindi naman nakakatakot yan” Basically saying that the ride was not scary and that we were being super dramatic. I remember thinking, “Damn! I’ve got a badass grandma who is absolutely fearless!!!” Little did I know, this particular moment would inspire me to skydive 5 years later!
I have been so fortunate to have travelled and experienced different places, people, food and cultures. If you haven’t stepped foot out of your hometown or can’t remember the last time you have done something for the first time, I truly recommend trying. I guarantee that nothing will make you feel more alive and present than discovering the wonders of stepping outside of your comfort zone. If you’re anything like me and doubt yourself at times, try to remember this: “the best thing about bravery is even a little is enough” – Beau Taplin.
You’re probably thinking, “What would I know about living in the moment? Us Gen Z/Millennials with short attention spans and instant gratification don’t know what we’re talking about! Plus, we’re living in a pandemic! How can being present be a lifestyle???” Well first, KAREN, thanks for judging. And second of all, I truly believe that this generation can and will create meaningful change – if we let them. An Ipos study conducted in 15 countries worldwide found that globally, young people are more optimistic about the future than older generations (despite facing much higher unemployment rates, more instability and lower wages than their predecessors). Today’s youth are entering adulthood confident that they can build a better future for themselves and for those that follow. For what it’s worth, I have high hopes that despite the current age of feeling “disconnected in a very connected world”, we are surprisingly also in the best position to better ourselves as individuals. I think that’s where it all starts anyway. The best part? We can start right now.
My days can get so crazy – working full time and studying my post-grad degree. Sometimes, my goals feel so unattainable because half the time, I would overthink and the other half, I would feel like I’m not good enough for anything or anyone. I know I’m not alone in this and I know it’s easier said than done. But if there’s anything I’ve learned in my psych degree, it’s that when life and people around you become overwhelming, it helps to find solitude in the present.
I’ve come to realise that part of being in the present requires self awareness of one’s own vices, proactively working on them and not being afraid or ashamed to ask for help. Living in the present is a mindset, a state of wellbeing, a practice and an awesome tool for living purposely and meaningfully. I also find that praying, living spiritually and being in a church where I can feel reverence helps as well.
I adopted my 2 furbaby pets approximately 3 years ago when I went through a tough breakup and a sudden loss of a family member. I had been through breakups and death before, but never at the same time. These events brought about similar levels of heartache and sorrow – only difference being that I was older with a few chips on my shoulder. I remember writing everything down and randomly telling myself that I would adopt pets because I wanted to take care of them as well as exert my energy in a positive and fulfilling way. I wrote about the time I took them home and feeling like somehow, out of the messiness I felt my life was at the time, they found me. My pets slept beside me and when I cried myself to sleep, they would lick my face to dry my tears. I also noticed how joyously present my dog would be when going on walks: his head held high, tail wagging, alert and taking it all in. He would be open to new sights, smells, sounds, people, and animals. Each walk is an adventure and each moment is a gift.
So to answer the title question in short… yes. Living in the moment or living in the present is a realistic lifestyle. It means you are aware of everything that is happening at that time in the space you are in and living in the fullness of it all, be it good or bad. It takes practice but without it, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.
Right now, it is 6:09pm on a Sunday arvo and my mind has eased, my shoulders are relaxed and I somehow feel like I’ve personified a delicious warm cup of coffee or a refreshing bubble bath. I’ve still got my doggo on my left waiting patiently and my Rupi Kaur book on my right. It doesn’t feel as hot anymore and I’m about to switch my full force fan to a lower setting. I find myself opening my blinds and looking out of my window because right now is the perfect time to watch the sunset.