Thank You for 2018: A Yearly Examen

It is New Year’s Eve, and I want to continue a tradition I have been doing for the past two years (2017, 2016), and that is to do a Yearly Examen, as suggested in an article from the Aleteia website.

The Examen is part of St. Ignatius of Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises wherein we reflect on the day we had. Below is a guide from Philip Kosloski:

  1. After placing yourself in God’s presence, first give thanks to God for all the many blessings received during the past year. Pass through each month, remembering the blessings that occurred.
  2. Pray for the grace to understand God’s divine providence.
  3. Next, review each month again and take notice of any feelings or movements that occur in your heart while doing this activity. Whatever you may feel (whether it was a good feeling or bad feeling), ask God to help you understand why an event happened.
  4. Fourth, ask pardon for any sins you committed, trusting fully in God’s mercy.
  5. Last of all look forward to the New Year think of ways that you can collaborate more with God’s loving plan for your life. (Article written by Philip Kosloski from

Tonko House’s The Dam Keeper 2018 calendar, signed by Erick Oh

The weather is cool, it has been lightly raining the whole day, our tiny home is quiet again from the Christmas celebrations with my Dad, Kuya Roland, and Kuya Ronald and his family Ate Kathy and Natalie. It is my Mom and I again, with our newly adopted street kittens Kat and Nip. The television plays The Beatles’ Let It Be, and I pause a short while from typing to let out a breath with my palms turned upward.


Have I let this year be the year it is?

I have.

And I have not.

Giving Thanks


There were moments I could not have controlled, instances that the wise thing to do was to let it be. And there were times I stood on my own two feet, stuck to my decision, and followed through, even if it meant putting myself into hot water again, into challenges, into pressure, into the process of trying to turn coal into a diamond.





This was the year I finally embraced art more than I should have in the previous years. I went the distance to create and finish time-bound projects, clients’ commissions, personal stories and artworks, exhibit works… 2018 was truly the year I obediently answered God’s call to make art that was life-giving, and this led me to newfound friends who were touched by what I created…


And it is truly humbling, and I cannot say thank You enough to God for giving the gift, for my Mom and Dad for supporting me in my journey as an artist and encouraging me, for people who I got to connect with online and offline because of art, for my clients who trusted me and extended their patience, understanding, and guidance, for people who brought my art and who gave kind words, for the ones who helped me establish myself in this career… Thank You all.


I joined a retreat too where I met souls too who longed for the Lord and wanted to serve Him in spite of being broken.

Although this was the year I did more art, this was also the year I went back to the workforce after doing freelance for a year and a half.

Blessings came too in our health; although we may have not been in perfect health most of the time, God proves to be the healer every time, partnered with the right habits to take care more of ourselves.

We made new friends who shared the same values, we rekindled old friendships, and we were given the opportunity to feed stray cats here in the city, and this actually led for us to meet the sweet kittens we have in our care now: Kat and Nip.


And then there is Christmas where we got to spend it all together as a family, with Kuya Roland and Kuya Ronald, Ate Kathy, and Natalie too. If I could turn back time, I would turn it back to this year’s Christmas when I felt so at peace, in joy, and in love.


And I embrace myself too for getting through this year. I am still here. And that is always a reason to be grateful for. To God, to my family, and to all those who comforted me when I needed it most.

Thank you too always to my Mom and Dad. You are both reasons for me to continue living, to continue fighting, to continue to be better. I’m far from being a good daughter, but I’ll do my best and learn every day.

Praying for God’s Providence

I had questions this year, like waiting for something that we wanted to happen for the longest time. And internal ones like deciding on something so quickly without careful thought.

And I go back to Let It Be, and the song says, “There will be an answer.” Perhaps today, I do not know, but soon, the reason, the answer, will show itself. And I will know why one thing had to happen.

Faith is needed to discover that answer.

Whatever circumstances I have right now, I know that the Lord is present, and He has lived my life already. I have nothing to worry about.

Feelings during Events


Being a very emotional person, I remember deeply what I feel when certain events occurred this year. We lost our last Golden Retriever Pumpkin, and we were very sad. But we were relieved, knowing that her hurting had ended, and she continued on to Rainbow Bridge already to meet with our loving pets who have also passed.



For the art events I joined for the first time, I felt both scared yet hopeful. Scared because I don’t know if people will like and buy what I create, hopeful because I feel in my heart that the art and stories within are inspired by the Holy Spirit, and my soul will hurt if I will not be able to bring them into reality from head and heart to paper.

In work, there were times I felt happy, there were times I felt anxious, worried, fearful because of the pressure. I did not believe in myself during those times, thinking that I won’t be able to carry my responsibilities well. But I am thankful for my Mom’s and Dad’s constant encouragements, my weary body and soul’s persistence, and God’s grace to bring me through all the work days.




And for the times that I am just with family or good close friends or our pets, I am happy. I am in joy. I am in peace. Simply being with them… can really help me breathe deeply.


This year’s Christmas has been truly special, and I was glad and thankful that my Dad and Kuya Roland were able to spend it with my Mom and I. I cried so hard when we got on the car after dropping Kuya and Dad off. I kept saying I missed them. Kuya Roland’s visit got me emotional and made me feel what it is like to be cared for by an older brother. We spent 12 days with him, longer than the times we got to spend with them in the recent years when we visited our relatives abroad, so I’ve gotten to know my cousin more, and he is very kind, caring, generous, and loving, and I missed him and my Dad, even up to now on New Year’s Eve. Growing far from my cousins, I hope that I get to know each of them more, and love them closely and deeply too.


I wish in my heart, ever since and today, that all families could be together. Why do we have to live separately? Why did we have to be far from one another? I know that it is inevitable, that someday, we really do have to live our own lives, but today, perhaps my naive heart still asks for togetherness, joy, peace, and love for all families.

Sins and Mistakes Committed

There were times I put myself first before others. There were times I did not want to be inconvenienced, so I ‘loved’ theoretically. There were times I could have done something nice for someone, but I did not. There were times I could have been more understanding, but I did not. There were times I could have responded quickly, but I didn’t, because my soul was doing its best to pick me up from my anxiety and fears. It is no excuse, but truth be told, I’m doing my best to be better.


I know so little still in being an artist, in being a leader and teammate, in being a daughter, in being a friend, in being myself… I’m sorry if I wasn’t able to help you or meet you where you were when you needed me, or for staying afar, for being too busy. God, I don’t know how to voice out my apology to You, but I say Your name in my head, and I know that You feel what I have in my heart.

Collaborating more with God’s Plan this 2019


I don’t know what the new year will hold, but what I pray today is for me to align my heart, will, and decisions to love.

May I not live my life out of fear, anxieties, and worries but out of following Christ, to be selfless, generous, and ready to serve God and other people (and animals and the environment!). May what I create be a reflection of who I am and who I believe in, and may I be given Jesus’ humility, so I will not forget to always point to the One who gave gifts to me. May I never lose sight of God, family, and love, and all the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Please keep me close, God, for I tend to stray.

Thank You for You, for 2018, and may You be with us always.


Here is a last free verse poem for New Year’s Eve which tells my mixed feelings about 2019. I am hopeful for us all.


“Happy was I the week the Savior Child was born
He was here, so was my family
And then the day ended and we said our ‘until next times’ to one another.
I asked myself early on not to cry,
yet when I saw my Mother cry,
I did too.

From where planes landed and departed,
I had my back turned, but I looked back, wanting to turn back time.

Everything good suddenly seemed possible during that time,
I felt braver because somebody loved me.
And yet I feel worried.
We are hours before the last day ends and the first day begins,
And I want to suspend time, spend this day twice, just to get ready.

I now know why I am scared of this new year
It is because I don’t believe I can make it
And that I have to keep depending on others’ belief in me.

There was a story of a boy who had 5 loaves and 2 fish,
and the Savior Teacher multiplied them to feed five thousand.
I stand here looking at my empty hands, saying, “I have nothing I can offer.

Please tell me, Lord – how can you multiply something that’s not there?

You can’t multiply nothing.”

Someone says it is time to pray Our Father,

and my Mother and Father both hold my empty hands.

People around me do the same.

You immediately fill my empty hands. I have something, someone. We have each other.

After the prayer, we said peace to each other. I put my hands together and say, “Your love, their love, and my love, may I always remember.”

And maybe this is enough to get me through the new year.”

2 thoughts on “Thank You for 2018: A Yearly Examen”

    1. Grace, I’m so sorry for the late reply! I’m glad to have met you too in person finally last year! May God bless you always! ❤


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