An after-dinner date after Valentine’s Day

It wasn’t too late. I didn’t have one on the 14th but at least I had a date after my dinner last Wednesday, a day after the Valentine’s Day.

I went home early that afternoon, watched the news, and took my dinner. Minutes passed after caressing my stomach, I decided to freshen up. That’s right. I should not forget my hygiene especially before going to bed. I could still feel my stomach that I put away my pillow and grabbed my laptop. Yes. I ended up to a date with my laptop and Fireproof is the movie that was.

“Fireproof doesn’t mean that fire will never come, but that when it comes, you’ll be able to withstand it,” one character in the movie said.

I had never thought but the movie was beyond the story of firemen risking their lives to stop fires to save lives and property. It was also about risking ones pride, addictions, and worldly attachments to save relationships, even an almost failed marriage.

In this month when people take special time to celebrate love with each one’s partner and special loved ones, I believe it is also a must to take special time to review how one and the other should fireproof their relationship, for couples – their marriage.

No, you’re right. I am no expert. I don’t have any degree for this particular topic or any experience in marriage. I don’t even have significant years of experience in a boy-girlfriend relationship. I am just to share to the memorable precious love-lines I listened to in my ‘after-dinner date after Valentine’s Day’.

My present credentials may not give enough merit for this article to be intended for the old couples and not-so old ones but I would have them as my main audience still because I go with inspirational speaker and Toastmaster Jef Menguin who said, in one of his blogs, that we should not say, “You can’t teach old dogs new tricks.” because people are not dogs and we are not teaching tricks – we teach ideas and principles of life.

Oh, well. So as not to talk much on credibility, let me just go on and share some lines from the movie for you and for me to read through and live with to fireproof our relationships – for the singles just like me, to fireproof our future marriage.

“…Although love is communicated in a number of ways, our words often reflect the condition of our heart. For the next day, resolved to say nothing negative to your spouse at all. If the temptation arises, she is not to say anything. It is better to hold your tongue than to say something you’re going to regret.

‘Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to get angry.’ – James 1:19

…It is difficult to demonstrate love when you feel little to no motivation. But love in its truest sense, is not based on feelings but a determination to show thoughtful actions even when there seems to be no reward.

Do at least one unexpected gesture as an act of kindness.

…Whatever you put your time, energy, and money into will become more important to you. It’s hard to care for something you’re not investing in.

Buy your wife something that says you were thinking of her today.

…Pray for her.

…Listen to her.

…Study her again.

When a man is trying to win the heart of a woman, he studies her. He learns her likes, dislikes, habits, and hobbies. But after he wins her heart and marries her, he often stops learning about her. If the man studies her before marriage was equal to a high school degree, he should continue to learn about her until he gains a college degree, a master’s degree, and ultimately a doctorate degree. It is a lifelong journey that draws his heart ever closer to hers.”

Yes; and the words clearly speak for themselves.

Let me just end this and say,

Save your relationship. Save your life.

Fireproof your marriage with the new FaD, F-idelity and F-aithfulness, a-nd D-ivinity. These three goes together. Divinity doesn’t mean you need to be pastor or priest or saint. It plainly means, living in God’s ways.

With this new FaD, we turn away from the old FAD, F-alse, A-spirations, and D-esires.

These, I no longer elaborate.

It was a question on my part to go on with this article in its content…

…with it is a great challenge to everyone.

It is something that shall be done.

It is meant for life.

PS: I am giving out a wonderful ebook this February 2012. Grab it now at www.sixstrings-youngmind.weebly.com

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Rays of Hope

Don’t lose hope.

We often tell this line to someone whose world seems to be falling down as we comfort him and tell him that the sun is still going to shine.

Emily Dickinson shares her poem that goes:

“Hope is the thing with feathers

That perches in the soul

And sings the tune without the words

And never stops at all.

And the sweetest in the gale is heard;

And sore must be the storm

That could abash the little bird

That kept so many warm.

I’ve heard it in the chilliest land

And on the strangest sea,

Yet never, in extremity,

It asked a crumb of me.”

How true it is to have this hope that rests in our soul.

How nice it is to have this hope that mends life sores.

How great it is to have this hope that gives music to our days when we feel so small.

But wait, if this hope rests in our soul, then why do many people lose them at all?

Why do people nab other people? Why do people forsake their sons and daughters? Why do people kill their neighbors?

People often lose their hope when they feel the world is tumbling down; when they lose their loved ones; when things are falling apart; when the world seems turning dark.

I, too, had some sad experiences that happened in my days and nights in the past that made my world seem so dark. These were the times that I had asked, “Is this how bad life is? Is this how dread the world is?”

But no matter how terrifying things were, no matter how terrorizing people were, no matter how horrifying events were – I did not give up, I did not lose hope.

I told myself, someday this will end, someday days will be brighter, someday life will be sweeter.

And yes! Thanks for that hope that stayed in my soul. Without it, I would have given up before.

And now, through the times I see, the terrors of life are fading away as I continue to hope and pray.

I would say that we vary in different things; we vary in experiences; we vary in terms of our problems.

But whatever trouble we are in, we shall face it, don’t lose hope, and go on living. Because every time we wake up, every time we see the sunrise, every time we see the light – we are reminded not to give up.

Every good thing that happens or arises is a ray of hope – reminding us not to lose hope.

Here are some lines from Oliver Goldsmith:

“Hope, like the gleaming taper’s light,

Adorns and cheers our way;

And still, as darker grows the night,

Emits a brighter ray.”

And so we declare: Let hope cheer us along the way as it emits a brighter ray each in every day.

Lessons from “The Last Song”

It was Sunday, January 9, 2011 at 2:50 PM and I just finished watching the movie “The Last Song” based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks.

The story of Ronnie, the main character, reminded me of some facts of life.

First, life on earth is temporary; life is so short – make the most out of it.

The scene stirred my soul as I watched the Ronnie’s father bid goodbye to earthly life. As for me, I lost my father in November 2010. Events like this remind us that things in this world are temporary. What does this mean to us? What does this call us to do? Are we going to simply breeze through the days of life?

I believe that we are called to make the most out of life. We are called to focus on what is essential. We are called to pursue significance. I like how Lloyd Reeb puts it in his book From Success to Significance. He said, “Success is great. But significance is lasting.” As we walk toward success, let us also take steps toward significance, toward the real meaning of life.

The movie, in this particular thought, had focused on family connections as it portrayed struggles in a daughter-father relationship. If there’s one form we can pursue to be significant is shown in this scenario. After all, life – they say – is about nurturing relationships.

Second, we commit mistakes but we need to forgive ourselves; we need to play our music again.

Ronnie comes to her mother crying with all the hurt inside of her. The heartfelt scene filled with tears and choking words goes, as the mother explained, “We’re not perfect… We make mistakes. We screwed up. But then we forgive and we move forward.”

With the human in us, we are vulnerable to committing mistakes. But we should not keep blaming ourselves for mistakes committed in the past. We have to move on. We must forgive ourselves and continue to live life the way it should be. We learn from the mistake and move forward. We have to play our music once again.

We can play our music once again through our gifts and talents, our abilities and skills. Whichever form of music you are capable of, you are meant to play it.

The problem with wallowing in previous mistakes is that it limits us from playing our music. To feel bad for mistakes in the past is normal but to stay down into the pit of shame and self-pity would not be healthy anymore. You would be robbing yourself and the world of the music you can share. Rise up from whatever pit you have fallen and recognize your talents. Talents are gifts that are to be developed and to be shared to the world around us. These are instruments toward the furtherance of the pleasures of life.

As the movie ended with a beautiful soundtrack, I was reminded that:

Third, we need someone to guide us, someone to lead us; we need someone to inspire us, someone to show us the beauty of life.

The song says it, “Everybody needs inspiration… cause there’s no guarantee that this life is easy.”

Life can be rough at times. It can get tough! But the Divine Father is here for us, and a lot of good people are here with us. The Good Lord shall bring forth wonderful people to guide us, to lead us, to inspire us, and to show us the beauty of life. He has been doing it many times in many ways in many forms.

There are events, experiences and encounters that serve as reminders for us to keep holding on. And all along, there is this Someone who keeps on singing our song. It is just right that we also do our part in singing our songs.

With these, we are reminded that life’s goodness shall live on beyond the singing of our last songs.

Live your dreams with love,

Chris Dao-anis

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Visit http://www.chrispoweracademy.com for details about inspiring books and empowering seminars.

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The Power of One

Each and every voice counts. Each and every vote counts. Each and every one matters.

All the way from the busy streets of Makati to the rocky roads of Benguet, I went home to cast my vote for the barangay elections – the result – my candidate toppled his rival with just one vote. Yes, one vote.

I do attribute the winning vote neither to my vote nor to any single vote of any other supporter. I do attribute this to the effort of each and every supporter that took the move, went out, and casted his/her vote.

In algebra, the value of one raised to the nth (say, any number from 1 to infinity; e.g. 999, 10000, 88000) power is one. Excluding negative integers, whatever its exponent is, the equivalent value is always one.

This shows that the value of one won’t increase if the multiplier is one itself. To increase its value, it must be added to another ‘one’ (i.e. 1 + 1 = 2) or to other positive numerical value (i.e. 1 + 5 = 6). After which, you can increase it exponentially by raising it to the desired power (i.e. 2 to the 3rd power = 8; 6 to the 6th power = 46,656). Behold the gargantuan result.

That’s in algebra. And it is similar with our encounters in different walks of life.

The value of one person may not be appreciated when he/she alone voices his ideals out, when he/she alone casts his vote, when he/she alone moves for society’s development. One’s effort shall be complemented by other people around so that results will be realized. While the power of one is so potent, its impact would be much felt when joined by other forces coming from others.

This suggests that everyone should contribute what he/she has in support for a common objective, which may be towards community development and betterment of life.

Hence, we are encouraged and challenged to continue participating in social discussions, in community endeavors, in nation building.

The scenario that I have just witnessed in this recently concluded barangay elections is just one of the numerous exemplifications of the power of one, not to the nth power – multiplying by itself alone, but when joined to the others then multiplying by themselves as a team.

The power of one is so powerful.

Use that power.

Participate not only in electoral process but in any sorts of social exercise.

You have a power.

You have a value.

Waste it not.

Strings of Life

You’ve heard it.

Life is like a wheel. Sometimes you are up, sometimes you are down.

Life is a song that is to be sung.

Life is a gift to that is to be treasured.

Life is a journey that is to be enjoyed.

Life’s comparisons and metaphors abound. In any experience and in anything, life’s lessons are found.

I would like to share some lessons of life that I’ve found – I call them the six strings of life. These six strings of life are life’s lessons from what I call “The Allegory of the Guitar.”

“Once upon a time, after making a fine guitar, the guitar maker told six things to the guitar:

1. You have six uniquely sounding strings;

2. You are meant to be played;

3. You are meant to be played with a song and with other instruments;

4. You are delicate;

5. You can be tuned and re-tuned; and

6. You are as good as how you are played.

After the guitar maker told these things to the guitar, the guitar went on his journey in the hands of excellent guitarists as it treasured the six strings of its being.”

We go through these six strings of life from “The Allegory of the Guitar” as we learn the lessons attached.

First, it has six strings; each sounds uniquely. Each string, yet sounding differently compared to the others, is tuned that way for a purpose. They are tuned the way they are so that when you press on a chord, they will sound in unison as each contributes to the creation of a harmonious sound.

Like each of the strings, we are unique. Each and every one of us is unique. Each of us has his/her own identity. Whatever ethnicity we belong, whatever family we belong, whatever appearance we show the world, whatever our possessions and positions are – that is our identity, that is where we stand, and that is where we start.

Each of us is born into this world, not for senseless things, but to accomplish things. We are made for a purpose. We are the way we are for a reason. So smile and be the way you are.

Second, it is meant to be played. For it to be called a guitar, it must be played.

Imagine a fine guitar just hanging on the corner – through the years it will gather dust on itself. It is seen to be a trash – a useless instrument.

Play it. As a song is to be sung, so is life to be lived.

Third, it is to be played in harmony with a song and with other instruments. Listen to that soothing music when it is played with a family of instruments and to that inspiring melody when a song is sang along with it.

Like the guitar, we are meant to be in harmonious relationship with others. We are meant to associate ourselves with others. We are meant to belong into this world. We are social beings and when we share our life with others, what a wonderful journey on earth we can have as we go along.

Fourth, it is delicate. Force struck upon a guitar may destroy its body. Too much cold or heat can make the strings loosen, can make the sound go off tune, and can get the guitar warp itself. A simple drop of the guitar on the floor may break its whole.

We are living a life that is delicate. As psychology teaches, we are shaped by our environment.

So be on guard.

We live in this world that is full of disturbing, horrifying, and terrifying life canyons that may lead us into darkness; that may get us behind bars; and that may totally break us.

Watch out.

Careful not be drowned into a life filled with oceanic remorseful waves.

Fifth, it can be tuned and retuned. Through numerous guitar sessions, the strings may go out of tune.

However, as long as the guitar is not broken, you can always retune. And lo, you can play it again with your song.

Through the days of our life, we may commit mistakes as we go along but we are not meant to stay in that canal where we have fallen.

Let us learn our lesson, stand up, and go on.

Sixth, it is as good as how it is played.

No matter how great the making of a guitar is, its greatness still depends on how it is played. While we are given a good life, a good gift from Above, our life still depends on how we live it.

As the saying goes, “Life is what you make it.”

Harmony, melody, music is well created when instruments are well played. It doesn’t mean you need to be an expert to do those strumming with sizzles and complicated chords. It is in playing the basics, combined with the songs of your heart, that is sang with feelings of love.

As we go along this journey of life, we recall these six strings of life as we recall the six characteristics of the guitar.

The guitar:

1. Has six uniquely sounding strings;

2. Is meant to be played;

3. Is meant to be played with a song and with other instruments;

4. Is delicate;

5. Can be tuned and retuned; and

6. Is as good as how it is played.

These pertain to the guitar and it also pertains to the way we live life.

So remember:

You are unique. You have your own purpose.

Live your life.

Share it with the people around.

Be careful. Guard your life.

If you need to change, go ahead change your life — because life is as good as how we live it.

So live your life.

Play it right.

Gems from an Umbrella Experience

I was walking home one rainy Thursday afternoon in the month of June.

It wasn’t raining that hard but the rain would be enough to wet you down, and perhaps, could cause you to catch cold and make you stay in bed for a couple of days.

I walked to the side so as not to disrupt the free-flowing pedestrians to get my umbrella out of my bag.

As I pulled up the zipper, I saw nothing but the pad at the bottom of the bag. The umbrella is not in my bag and thought I left it at the pad.

I then decided to take a cab. I pulled out my wallet, “Bad! I got no cash.”

I went to the closest automated teller machine to get some cash, purposefully, to pay the taxi driver as I would be taking one.

I pulled out my card, keyed in some digits, and waited for the cash. No cash was dispensed. I was upset.

I pulled out my other card, keyed in some digits, and waited for the cash. No cash was dispensed. I was more upset.

Still upset, I went out of the ATM booth, raised my palms to cover my head, and went to the walkway straight ahead.

I ran down through the underpass, stepped out of the escalator going up, and stood still just beside the guard.

I said to myself, “I’ll wait till the rain stops.”

Several minutes have passed, but the rain was still pouring hard.

I decided to take something out from my bag to cover my head and continue walking home straight.

I then opened my bag, not the main pocket that I already checked out, but now, the smaller one in front.

As I opened my bag, I was surprised and I think, I went mad. My umbrella was in the other pocket of my bag.

It’s a foolish thing, right?

Sadly, this happens most of the time in our lives – not exactly resembling the umbrella thing – but in the instances wherein we have the needed tools to get things done but we miss to recognize them that they are close at hand.

There are three points that I want to highlight in this foolish yet tickling-to-the-mind umbrella experience:

First, we tend jump into conclusion just by looking the issue at a single point of view.

Just like what I did – I opened the main pocket, the umbrella’s not there, and I concluded that it is nowhere.

People often miss to consider other points of view. People often miss to see the issues in different perspectives. People often miss to consider the things needed to be looked into for them to find a sound decision to jump to.

As a result, they make a faulty conclusion and then they take a faulty action.

Second, we tend to get upset in a given situation which when analyzed, is even a blessing, not bane.

They indeed should be thankful rather than be upset and wrathful.

In my rainy afternoon experience, I was upset when no cash was dispensed. I didn’t realize that with that event, I would be able to save a penny which may be enough to buy a burger at Mi-ki-dee or maybe a cup of tea from Chinatown’s specialty.

The other thing is being upset doesn’t even bring any good. It will just destroy your day. As the Law of Attraction would say, you will attract more things to upset you, more things to damage you, more things to kill you.

Lastly, we tend to look outside before looking within.

People tend to see what other people have and envy them. As a result, when they go out, they tend to go and try to bring them down or maybe get intimidated by them and feel down.

These three – jumping into a conclusion, getting upset in any given situation, and envying others rather than appreciating what’s within – all result to damaging effects in our lives.

We, then, are challenged to do otherwise.

That is to see all issues in all possible perspectives before drawing a conclusion; to look into the positive side of every given situation; and to look into what’s within, recognize those precious gems, develop them, and get out exuding.

The Three Sweet Sweats

Nothing beats being in the game.

This line came into my mind as I relearned three benefits of being in the game. This game may be a game in sports, a game at work, or any game in life.

Relating a recent encounter to a childhood experience gave me a fresh realization, a clear perspective, and a new learning.

When I was a child, my townspeople would usually organize games for the children during fiestas and Christmas. A lot of children would be participating in those games not only to enjoy the game itself but also to receive prizes and gifts. Every time a game is on, the other kids would run in a hurry toward the playground. I, on the other hand, just stood still, walked to the side, and sat on my butt.

I was a mere spectator then.

Last month, our firm had the PAlarong Pinoy wherein games like patintero and kadang-kadang were played. Together with some of my officemates, I sat on the side and watched the first game being played. When the next game was on, I jumped out of the bench and dashed toward the playground. I joined the patintero and played the dodge ball. I did some jumping on the left and shooting on the right.

I smiled, I laughed, and I shouted!

Truly, nothing beats being in the game.

I, hereto, humbly share the three benefits of being in the game, which I call “The Three Sweet Sweats.”

First, we learn new things as we do the real thing.

According to the Cone of Learning, developed and revised by Bruce Hyland from the material by Edgar Dale, we tend to remember our level of involvement – we learn 90% of what we say and do. It may be doing a dramatic presentation, simulating the real experience, or (on top of the list) doing the real thing.

Being in the game exposes us to the real thing. We face real situations, we solve real problems, and we achieve real results.

Second, we are made to belong into this social world as we are made part of a team.

We, people, are social beings. We need that sense of belongingness. We long for it. It is made part of human nature to seek for a group and live with it.

As they say, no man is an island, no man lives alone; or no woman is an island, no woman lives alone.

Being in the game make us part of a team – a member of a social group. As we play games side by side, we interact with the men and women of our land, and we get to belong in this social world of ours.

Third, we are made capable of sharing the experience as we face the real thing.

With the premise that we cannot share what we do not have, we then can say that we can share because we have. As we get into a situation, we submerge ourselves into the ocean of real life learning. When we have this experience, we are able to share it to the world with passionate enthusiasm, with exuding power, and (towards the end) with a sense of fulfillment.

These three sweet sweats of being in the game satisfy the needs of men and women to learn, to belong, and (towards the end) to share.

Nothing beats being in the game, indeed. If we want to learn, to belong, and to share, we need to be in the game. Again, this game may be a game in sports, a game at work, or any game in life.

So… will you be in the game?

Jumbled Episodes

Sometimes, it’s good to remember; other times, it’s good to forget.

One Saturday, we went to Wawa Dam in Rizal for the outreach program organized by the group “People Helping People.”

As I stepped out of the car, I was brought back to the past.

The green hills on the sides and the children gathered on the ground brought me to my childhood days, back to my hometown in the mountains of Benguet.

I recalled the days as I played with the other kids in the neighborhood. We chased each other like the natives would chase the pigs in their backyard.

We played war-games while unstoppably running around and untiringly shouting – Bang! Bang! Bang!

We played from the rising to the setting of the sun.

As the sun goes to hide its rays in the West, I would walk back home as my young body was embraced with terribly cool sweats.

I recalled the days when we were called to go to the rice fields, either to harvest rice or to till the soil for the next cropping.

When the sun is up, we would put on that hats made of vine; and when the rain comes, we would put on that plastic with a slit on the side as our rain coat to finish the tough job.

I recalled the days when we were summoned to pound rice with that indigenous mortar and pestle, like the tools of the Tabon Man. Though I was lazy to do so, I needed to. Not pounding rice would mean no rice on the pot, no rice on the plate.

I recalled the days when we climbed towering mountains and trekked through mossy forests.

One wrong step on the side means getting you killed. Slow moving pace means gathering a lot of leeches on your feet.

In spite of these leeches and perilous trails, nonetheless, is setting foot on the top of the mountain, casting your eyes to the magnificent beauty of nature, embracing the refreshing breeze blowing from the rivers below, hearing the rippling cascades of the waterfalls afar, and raising your hands like Moses over those enthusing grandeur gifts from Above.

Lastly, I recalled as I would imagine how busy the people were as they prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus, while my mother was about to deliver a child at the very tick of the clock at four of Christmas dawn.

Yes, it was. While most people were busy wrapping their gifts for their loved ones, my mother wrapped me, too, with her loving arms.

That was the first time I felt the warmth of the world in the midst of the chilling December breeze.

A lot of recalling can be done. Reminiscing the past can be invigorating, especially when you recall the day you were born. You shall realize that you are here for a reason.

As I remember these chapters of my past, I was reminded to move forward.

These jumbled episodes I had that Saturday in the mountains empowered me to go on – to go on holding onto my dreams, to go on climbing the hills and mountains of life, and to go on living the gift of life I have.

Thanks for those kids running around and the green mountains on the sides for bringing me to the past.

It is my hope that as I share these jumbled episodes of my life, may you be able to recall also your past and get into the future with refreshed and rejuvenated power.

As one character said – sometimes, it’s good to remember; other times, it’s good to forget.

Hence, there’s no need to remember all the things that came into your life, especially the bad ones. Just learn your lesson from those bad experiences, and leave them to the past.

Remember the good things of the past, gather strength from those jumbled episodes of your life, and move forward!