L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables went to me at a most opportune time, for I read and finished Anne Shirley’s story of growing up and learning, while I was (still am) gradually transitioning towards womanhood. I am 25 years old, yet I still do believe I am childish at times. My childishness can weigh more than my child-likeness.
The word ‘dare’ is something that you might have encountered first from the game Truth or Dare. If the bottle points towards you, you are asked “Truth or dare?”
If truth, you have to tell something about yourself or about what you feel; if dare, you have to do what the person who spun the bottle or what the group wants you to do.
But in an online challenge I recently joined aptly named #Dare to Share Instagram Challenge by teacher and design thinking advocate Arriane Serafico, it seems that you can both choose truth and dare: truth because we were encouraged to post photos and write captions that were naturally us, and dare because we were pushed outside of our comfort zone and do something brave (like sharing what truly matters to us and commenting on other people’s posts instead of silently tapping the heart icon!).
*Please halt if you haven’t watched Wonder Woman yet! This contains spoilers.
(Header Image Source: http://www.kadacinemas.com/news/wonder-woman-2017/)
It was drizzling.
The afternoon skies, instead of being golden or pink, were gray.
I held my closed umbrella; I did not open it. I wasn’t afraid of rain that time.
I was at Ayala Triangle, Makati, waiting for my old friend in college because we were going to jog together that Friday night. There were large prints of classical art paintings by Spanish artists displayed during that time in the park. This was the Museo del Prado Exhibit.
It was such an uncommon view – an outdoor museum in the middle of an open area with trees, a few passersby, faint yellow lights, and light rain. Nonetheless, it stirred within me a sense of peace.
But the sense of peace was taken over by delight when I spotted The Book Stop Project – a pop-up library here in the Philippines where architecture and love for books meet. It had a different design now: the shelves were underneath a flight of wooden steps where people could sit and read and talk with fellow book-lovers.
In retrospect, it reminds me of Harry Potter’s cupboard underneath the staircase – only the space of the shelves was bigger and perhaps more well lit.
This was my second encounter with The Book Stop Project; the first was with my friend Denise when we participated in a Blind Date with a Book.
After gazing at the paintings and reading their descriptions along with the Spanish translations (because I’m not giving up on my plans of learning Spanish!), I walked over to the pop-up library and began browsing familiar titles.
Many were paperbacks, and most books were unfamiliar to me until I found a name I’ve known for a long time written on the spine of a thin paperback: Madeleine L’Engle.
I took it from the shelf and saw that it was Meet the Austins.
It was November 2015. A gentle warm light poured in through the large windows behind us. Worship started and ended with bright hopes and serene tunes, lunch was delicious, and the day was only starting.
I listened intently to our speaker, Ms Rhiza Oyos, the founder of Pursuit Manila under Pursuit Community. It was my first time to attend one of their events upon the kind invitation of a dear friend, Denise.
She was sharing about a wise woman from the Bible, and she knew of her story through Lysa TerKeurst‘s The Best Yes book. This was how I was first introduced to this work that would eventually help me get my decision-making better.
2017 Reads: YOUNIQUE – Understanding Others by Understanding You by Jayson Lo
Back in college, our Editor-in-Chief Kuya Venz would share personality tests to the staff. I can’t recall if he was the one who introduced to us the Myers-Briggs Personality Test, but I do remember him teaching us about the Dominant, Supportive, Influential, and Analytical personalities.
I’m sure about the supportive and analytical terms, but for the other two, not so.
I remembered because the first time I answered something like it (on my first year as a staff writer), I was the Supportive type. Then when Kuya Venz graduated and came back after a few months to share the exam again, I changed to an Analytical type. I read somewhere before that these may change after some time, depending on the circumstances that could propel us to take on a new personality.
On the other hand, the first time I took the Myers-Briggs, I was an INFJ. That was in college, but during the time I was working already, I became an INFP. The interpretations and descriptions for these were accurate for me during those moments in my life.
I enjoy taking personality exams, because it helps me know more about myself. They serve as good references too for improving our interpersonal communication and relationships.
If You Feel Too Much: Thoughts on Things Found and Lost and Hoped For by Jamie Tworkowski
This book traveled from the US to Philippines shores, landed on the hands of a dear friend, and eventually made its way to me on September 3, 2016. The other night, I kept it close to me after I finished reading it.
Denise asked if I wanted to buy, so she could ship both our copies together. I said yes for three reasons:
- My friend is a strong advocate of healing for people who suffer from mental illnesses
Denise echoes beautiful virtues like healing and hope through her writings and art. Over coffee earlier this year, we met and she mentioned how mental illnesses aren’t taken so seriously here in the Philippines.
And then a few weeks ago, she posted something on Instagram about how she wanted to use art and healing together – to be an art therapist is the right term! (She also would want to be a professional book hunter – I think she already is; she knows so many hidden bookstores in different cities and online!)
I was touched by her heart to a beautiful cause like this (and To Write Love on her Arms), so I bought If You Feel Too Much too, to show my support to her vision and to people who went through this kind of difficulty in life.
She also told me about how she wanted to be an intern for To Write Love on her Arms. (If ever you’re reading this, Denise, I hope you try to apply someday!) 🙂
The Mountaintop School for Dogs and Other Second Chances by Ellen Cooney
Alaska, snowy mountains, wooden lodges and inns, second chances, sanctuaries, rescues, one 24-year-old short-haired girl, one boy who seems like a hobbit, a strict but soft innkeeper, and dogs.
If someone were to ask me the places I have traveled to, I would answer, “Including the ones in books?”
In this case, I have been to a Sanctuary for rescued abused dogs in Alaska. I have met Evie, Ellen Cooney’s protagonist; Giant George, the friendly and warm staffer from the Sanctuary; and Mrs. Auberchon, the keeper at the inn at the bottom of the mountain where the Sanctuary was located. I have met and played with the many dogs in the story too, dogs which Cooney so brilliantly weaved personalities to of their own.
I just finished reading this book at dusk today. It’s sad that I’ll be saying goodbye to the characters so soon. I will miss Shadow, Josie, Hank, Boomer, Alfie, Dapple, Dora, Tasha, and all the dogs in the story. It feels like I’ve been with them too, thanks to Cooney’s writing and deep take on giving life to these characters. She described a dog’s fur, unique spots and their placements, their temperaments, and breeds… I knew more breeds too from reading this book.
There’s one dog named Boomer who is like a butler in the Sanctuary. He’s an old Golden Retriever, and he mostly reminded me of our Twixie… She passed away last May. And I can still remember her little qualities that make her ‘her.’
I love her descriptions about the Sanctuary as well, because I can imagine so clearly the place that has served as the refuge for both humans and dogs.
This story started out when Evie found a job employment advertisement from a website which just said:
“Would you like to become a dog ?”
“Take Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will, all that I have and possess. Thou hast given all to me. To Thee, O lord, I return it. All is Thine, dispose of it wholly according to Thy will. Give me Thy love and thy grace, for this is sufficient for me.” – St. Ignatius Loyola
Julie shared a page to me in Facebook; it was called Ignatian Spirituality. I believe that was the second time I chanced upon St. Ignatius – the first probably when we were still in elementary school, reading our books about the Saints.
The third was when I was introduced to the writings of Fr. Jett Villarin, the current President of Ateneo de Manila University, because of a blogger I followed on Tumblr before who posted excerpts from Fr. Villarin’s homilies. If I remember correctly, the first ones I’ve ever read of his writings were Startle and Feathers.
Because I was moved by his writings and reflections, I came upon his book “Startle: Gathering Light from the Word of God” online. When I went to a local bookstore one time, I was glad to have found it, sitting comfortably in between other books.
I’ve underlined, highlighted, wrote on the margins and in between lines of this book, and I’ve written my favorite lessons on my brown journal so I wouldn’t forget. I gave my copy as a Christmas present to my cousin Paffy last 2014. I hope that he has learned from Fr. Villarin’s writings too, as much as I did.
Fr. Villarin, again, if I remember correctly, mentioned of St. Ignatius crying under the stars. I was re-introduced to this image again when I bought a copy of Fr. James Martin’s book entitled “The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything.” I’ve only read up to around 50-70 pages, then stopped for a while, thinking that I may have to read this on a more appropriate time.
Although it has been a long while since I last opened that book and read, I’ve come to understand more of Ignatian Spirituality. I had learned that its core is about finding God in everything, in every aspect of our lives. He isn’t just in Sundays within the Church, because He is a living and active God. He lives and thrives in our daily routines, in our chores, in our work, in our family relationships, in school, in friendships, in marriages – everything.
Because of this book, I got to learn more about St. Ignatius too, about how we was once a soldier of valor and of worldly pursuits, then he was injured in battle. This humbling and painful event in his life led him to read upon the saints like St. Francis of Assisi, how he and other saints gave away what the world branded as important and turned to a life of poverty and self-giving.
St. Ignatius was inspired by the lives and virtues of these saints and hoped to imbibe within him the same values. After much reflection and sharing of God’s revelations to him, St. Ignatius continued on his studies, then later on founded the Society of Jesus, or what we commonly know as the Jesuits.
And that’s what I knew of this Saint whom they call the Saint of Second Chances. I knew little of him still and of the Spiritual Exercises he had shared to others.
Then came the day I saw the trailer of Ignacio de Loyola.
I knew more of him through this film, about the man whose tears reflected the stars above him.