Las Palmas

Hola amigos,

I received some sad news last week that my grandpa in the Philippines, my Lolo, passed away. I am grateful that I was able to meet him once during my trip to the Philippines when I was ten and that he is no longer suffering, but a part of me is very sad that I wasn’t able to really know him. My prayers and thoughts are with him, Lola, my mom, and the rest of the family.

The long distances between family is the difficult part about being a mixed race baby with family in Asia, Europe, and both coasts of the U.S. Growing up I always envied my friends who would walk to grandma and grandpa’s house after school or have them at all their sports games and school events. That quality family gathering time just seems so dreamy to me. What is more precious in life than that? I hope one day if I have children, God willing, that they can grow up with their grandparents close by—to be there for all the milestones and transitions life will bring.

While there has been death, there has also been birth too, such is the dance of life… Earlier this week Encarna’s daughter Eva gave birth to a beautiful and healthy baby girl, Lucía. The excitement and pure joy coming from Encarna is radiant and overflowing and it is a pleasure to witness.

Last weekend, I took a little girls trip to the Canary Islands with Renee and Jo. Two nights in paradise at this adorable hostel called The Little Surf House. If you visit Las Palmas, I definitely recommend staying here. The owner is very friendly, its cheap and clean, and its only a few minutes walking from the ocean 🙂

Our main attraction for the weekend was the beach so we spent our days soaking up the tropical sunshine on the beach—toes in the sand, breathing in the glorious scent of the sea, taking pictures, admiring our surroundings, swimming, picnicking, and reapplying our sunscreen. The ocean was a gorgeous turquoise blue, so clear and refreshing. One of my favorite things we did together was hanging out on the rooftop terrace at night under the twinkling lights, just playing cards, chatting about life, and sipping tea. That is the sweet life. 

Love,

Manders

What if I let my worries and impatience and angst about the future go? What if instead, I got excited about the mystery? What if the unknown people, adventures, opportunities, and experiences around the corner made me feel a glow? A glow of joy, gratitude, and faith. How different would my daily experiences be? How much more free and light and relaxed and at peace I would feel if I just surrendered these details and trusted that what is meant for me, will happen in my life. Maybe these “hardships” were meant to make me the woman I am supposed to be? What if these are tests on my path to make me stronger? What if my heart being broken again and again was meant to break me wide open so that I can live with an open heart and an open mind? What if this was all part of a divine plan? What if this is all On Purpose?

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The Home Stretch

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Hola amigos,

My adventure in Madrid is soon coming to an end and I’ve had a mix of emotions about it. I feel grateful that I took this chance and was able to meet amazing people, travel, and create wonderful memories. It has been the most memorable, challenging, and insightful year of my life thus far. However, I feel so ready to fly back home for the summer and recharge my batteries. The countdown until July 3rd has begun. 

The truth is that I am really homesick and I miss my loved ones. It’s a constant void that I’ve had to live with since leaving last August and some moments the sadness and feelings of isolation is overwhelming. On one end, I have treasured the full throttle freedom, spontaneity, and newness of living abroad but the flip side of things is that it can also be an extremely lonely and isolating experience. Learning to enjoy the solitude of your own company and connect with strangers is a vital skill to cultivate, but there is nothing like having a community of people who knows you, loves you, and whom you can confide in and lean on after a tough day. 

My mindset now is to savor this last month I have living in Europe because I’m not sure if I’ll be returning after the summer. I am still waiting on my Placement location from the Spanish Ministry regarding my renewal application, but I chose not to renew in Madrid because my heart was calling me back to the beach 🙂 We shall see what happens in time and ultimately I am looking for an opportunity that aligns with my personal values and purpose in life. Where I will be and what I’ll be doing…is a mystery for now. 

One thing that I have challenged myself to do recently is to write down the things that I am grateful for each day in my journal because I really want to actively practice strengthening an attitude of gratitude. I think that gratitude plays a key role in connecting us to the present moment, opening us up to joy, and guiding us to inner peace. As I reflect more about my life, I realize that gratitude is the gateway to miracles, joy, peace, and abundance. It is the bridge to Love and a beautiful, wholehearted life. It is one of my anchors that keeps me grounded and aligned with myself and my purpose. It is not about trying to change anything, but more on accepting that who we are and what we have in this moment is enough. More than enough. 

Love,

Manders

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

How to Love

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I’ve been thinking about this concept of unconditional love a lot lately. What does it really mean to love unconditionally?

With friends, family, dates, or co-workers, sometimes I catch myself hoping that people will respond and behave how I want them to, but we all know that that is not how life works. We cannot control other people, nor is it fair for us to expect them to behave exactly how we want them to. So what are we supposed to do about it? Quality and authentic relationships are meant to support, inspire, and empower us to be our best selves. However, we all know that they can also poke us in our bruised areas and bring our most intimate insecurities to the surface. That is why surrendering, compassion, and forgiveness are vital elements for healthy relationships. These elements do not mean that we let people walk all over us; boundaries are necessary too and communicating our boundaries becomes easier when we are able to love and accept ourselves first.

Another important question we need to ask ourselves is what, if anything, are we trying to get from this relationship? Without realizing it, a lot of us are seeking to get something from people and this can be dangerous if we are seeking validation or looking to follow a superficial agenda.

Last night I watched this video on YouTube that blew my mind. It is called “People Love at Their Level of Consciousness” from Eckhart Tolle. I HIGHLY recommend watching this video to everyone. It is especially enlightening if you are looking to understand feelings of hurt and it touches upon how pain can be passed from one family generation to the next, if someone isn’t willing to awaken themselves and stop the pattern from continuing on. This is not easy stuff. It is like moving boulders within yourself and you’ll have to dive deeply inwards to get in touch with the sadness, anger, and whatever else might be present in order to release these emotions. However, this heavy-lifting inner work is crucial if we are to let go of old hurt stories so that we can carve a new path of love and peace for ourselves moving forward.

And it is so damn true…people can only love us from the level of consciousness they’re at. Unfortunately this means that we will not always receive the love we crave, the love we so dearly want. Most of the time, the ways in which people express their love to us or lack thereof, do not meet our expectations. That is the reality of life, love, and relationships. That doesn’t mean people can’t change with time or that your relationship with someone won’t evolve, but it does mean that we can’t ask more of a person than they are willing to give us at the moment. The question is…can we learn and choose to love people regardless of their level of consciousness, without expectation, and embrace people where they’re at in life?

Last thing, in dating I’ve noticed that there’s this “Keep your guard up” warning for girls and probably guys too, to protect ourselves from getting hurt. I’m not saying that every person you date deserves to hear your deepest stories, because I firmly believe that vulnerability requires the correct audience, people who will honor and hold your stories sacred, BUT in relationships and in life, there is no reward without taking a risk. Life is too short to not go all in. You might get rejected or your feelings might not be reciprocated, but that pain will not be nearly as painful as the pain you would feel if you didn’t speak from your heart and kept wondering what could have happened if you had taken a leap of faith. The walls that we put up to protect ourselves are the walls that are blocking our blessings. We must push forward in faith, not fear.

And no matter what ensues in our relationships, the greatest investment we can make is to invest in loving ourselves and pouring forth that love we so dearly crave from others, into ourselves. When we do this, it makes it easier for people to love us too.

“Do not chase people. Be yourself, do your own thing, and work hard. The right people—the ones who really belong in your life—will come to you and stay.”

-Will Smith

Embracing Pain and Filling the Void

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“The wound is the place where the light enters you.”

-Rumi

Chrysalis

I think that there is a script in our society, a kind of rule book that sets the norms for how we should experience and live our lives. Sometimes I feel there is not enough said on this topic of dealing with sadness and pain…however, sometimes there are these movie scripts forced upon us, seeped into our subconscious minds, that make us feel ashamed for not following the status quo. A lot of times we’re told to look away from the pain, our pain and other people’s pain. To stuff it down, forget about it, put a smiley-faced band-aid on it, fake it till you make it, and toughen up. But what does that accomplish? Its a recipe for disaster—its dehumanizing, robotic, and downright toxic for ourselves and the people around us. Contrary to popular belief, detaching from our feelings and emotions is disadvantageous…not a sign of strength. True strength and personal power is embracing our vulnerabilities: taking down that wall of armor that we’ve built up, showing up as our authentic and naked selves, and learning how to love and nurture ourselves in the midst of it all. Even if that means owning the fact that we’re discouraged, homesick, heartbroken, or whatever it may be. 

Since January I have been in this routine of traveling twice a month and also regularly dating while I’m in Madrid. I have really enjoyed both of these things, but now I am at a point where things are slowing down and I have time to reflect and be still. I was dating this amazing guy for a couple months and I completely fell in love with him. Long story short, he wasn’t ready for a relationship, so we stopped seeing each other. I have no regrets about it though because I feel good that I put myself out there with him. I treasure the time we spent together and the lessons in love that I learned from being with him. We still have a lot of respect for each other and I am thankful that he was my first love. I have cried my tears and I trust that everything happens for a reason, but as I come down from this high of constant traveling and dating, I feel a void of emptiness in my heart. Starting over sometimes feels like a daunting task, especially after there has been so much love and so much joy in a certain chapter of our lives…but the sun will come up again. I have a blank slate in front of me and it is time to Create once again. Time to place my energy and attention on my passions and continue to nurture my joy and inner peace. 

One of the greatest lessons I learned from my coach Joaquin is this idea of Creating Space—expanding our hearts to make room for all that arises on our path: the changing tides of feelings, emotions, thoughts, life experiences, the highs and the lows, everything. Only when we hold space and awareness for these things are we able to shed our layers and move forward in peace. Growth is not always a pretty process. It hurts, it stings, it can make you want to scream. But don’t block out these strong emotions because that only adds fire to the flame. Honor it, embrace it, open yourself up to the pain, let it run its course and then you can let it flow through you and pass along. Our emotions come and go like waves in the ocean. We just have to remember to let them go. Its important that we give ourselves the space and time to “bleed out” and heal from the hurt we’re experiencing, but it is equally important that we not let ourselves get consumed by that pain, it is just another wave, that will pass with time and surrendering and letting go. 

Sending you lots of love and I pray that we all learn to feed our joy and find peace amidst it all. 

 

Feria de Abril

Hola amigos,

Renee and I celebrated our final “puente” or long weekend of the school year by venturing down south to Cadiz and Sevilla. What made this trip extra special was that we were in Sevilla during the Feria de Abril festival. I’ll get to that later…first Cadiz. 

This trip started off with an adrenaline rush because I almost missed our train down to Cadiz. People who know me know that I am never late. I’m the person who gets places 20-30 minutes early and is normally waiting for the other person to arrive. So the bus driver in Móstoles wouldn’t let me on with my carry on suitcase, which was the 1st time that ever happened, so I had to wait another twenty minutes for the next bus. Thank goodness the next driver let me on, otherwise I was two seconds away from calling an Uber. At this point I had about 50 minutes until our train left and it normally takes 35-40 minutes to get to the station. Somehow I made it to the station with ten minutes to spare and I made it to security and was about to show my ticket on my phone, but I was grabbing my phone so tightly that it shut off and I had to enter my SIM pin #. I never shut my phone off, usually I just switch it on/off airplane mode to avoid this very situation. Due to the heat of the moment, I could not for the life of me remember the 4 digit # because it had been at least six months since I’d used it. I guessed once and no-go. I was explaining myself to the security guy and he said sorry you need to go downstairs to print your ticket. I had 8 minutes left and there was no way I was making it if I went downstairs. So, cursing to myself, I move aside and take a breath and try the pin 1 more time. Unlocked. Ufffffffhhhhhh. Sweet relief. I got on the train and found my seat next to Renee and I’m sure my face was flushed and I probably sounded like I had just finished running a marathon, but I was just glad that I made it. 

The train ride to Cadiz was about 4 hours long, but I love train rides because I find it so peaceful to just stare out at the landscape. When we got there, I immediately felt relaxed. There’s something different about being by the ocean. I always feel the shift in myself when I can smell that beautiful ocean breeze. Pure bliss. 

There was really good vibes in Cadiz…it got quite windy at some points, but the pace of life is very relaxed, slower, celebratory, and community-minded. A few of my favorite things were laying out on the beach, hanging out at our hostel’s rooftop patio, and going on a 3-hour bike tour of the city. The sand was incredibly soft and warm and squeezing your toes in the sand was a damn good foot massage. It felt AMAZING to be on a bike again…I forgot how freeing it feels to wander around on a bike. If you visit Cadiz, I highly recommend Las Bicis Naranjas for bike rentals and tours. Our tour guide was very sweet and it was very informative to be shown around the city by a local. I’m not going to lie, our hostel was pretty shitty in Cadiz but the best part was getting to veg on the rooftop couches at the end of the day and just chill. 

Now Sevilla. What a beautiful city! It felt like we stepped into another world, another time. This place is probably one of the most beautiful cities I’ve visited in Spain; in terms of architecture, cleanliness, quality of life, etc. It is a very posh and opulent looking place. Our time in Sevilla was a bit of a whirlwind. We walked 11 miles one day. We could have used one more night to explore the city more but considering we were only there for 2 nights, we did a lot. Our 1st night, we went to the Feria festival grounds to see the casetas and other traditional Sevilla things. Casetas are fancy tents/restaurants, with a dance floor, where people eat, drink, dance, chat, and be merry. One of my favorite parts of Feria de Abril was seeing the women and young girls dress up in exquisite gowns and accessories popular for this particular celebration. Absolutely stunning. I also found the Feria grounds interesting because it reminded me of the O.C. Fair back home, but with Spaniards. Half of the grounds consisted of the casetas, but the other half had game booths, roller-coasters, and food trucks. Seeing it made me miss home very much. 

Somehow Renee and I managed to slip into the Plaza de Toros for a bit and watch the horse carriages circling the stadium. I have no idea who the people in the carriages were, but they were very beautiful and well-dressed. This was my 1st time in a Toros stadium and it felt like we were in a movie. It was very traditional and very Spanish. That day we also visited the Real Alcázar and Catedral de Sevilla. Both places held so much beauty and eloquent architecture and design. The last place we visited that day was Plaza de España. Uffff. Another spot with indescribable beauty and magnificence. I had seen pictures beforehand and I was blown away by how breath-taking it is in person. Hands down the most beautiful plaza I have ever seen in my life. 

This trip really reminded me a lot about life… About being flexible, resilient, open, and choosing to make the best of a situation when things are deviating from our expectations. Learning to travel well correspondingly teaches you how to live well. We experienced some beautiful highs and also some lows too; así es la vida. No, things will not always go how you planned, there are many surprises to be encountered around every corner, but the beauty lies in our ability to wholeheartedly show up for life—to love the highs and also the lows, to laugh when we fall, to savor the present moment, embrace all people, and enjoy the journey. 

Love,

Manders

Mighty Companions

I love the quiet moments. When nothing is said but everything is known. Even without words we understand each other. We’re connected. You and me. I got your back and you have mine. We walk this path together. Two brave souls in search of something grand, something meaningful, something meant to be…

Shedding

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I feel whole now. I am no longer at war within myself. I feel like I have shed my layers, and continue to shed the skin that I no longer need—the parts of myself that are of the past, the baggage conveniently stored away because I thought it was easier that way. I have committed myself to charting a new course: a path of joy, peace, love, honesty, authenticity, courage, balance, and faith. I am done hiding behind my perfectionism, behind my social anxiety, behind my disciplined nature, behind all my fears, behind all the chains that have kept me bound. My restless soul and wild heart has been set free. I feel liberated and empowered and at home in this palace of peace that I’ve built within myself.

I’ve realized that all the answers were inside me all along. I was the one who held the knife over my head, but I’m also the one who holds the key to freedom and salvation. There is nothing like it. Being free means leaving the past behind and honoring the lessons we’ve learned. Being free means having faith in the Divine unfoldment of the future and trusting that we will be taken care of as long as we stay true to ourselves. Being free is wholeheartedly anchoring/grounding ourselves in the present moment and choosing to rise up with the spirit of Love, show up, and open ourselves up to the miracles and abundance available to us in the Now. Being free is choosing forgiveness. Forgiveness of ourselves and others. Being free is choosing to stand firm in love when the world is telling you to give in to fear. Being free is realizing that this journey we call life isn’t about ourselves, it’s about all of us, creating a world in which all our brothers and sisters on this planet can be loved and supported. Being free is being of service and recognizing that we all have a unique part to play. Being free is surrendering it all and embracing the dance of life. 

My hope is that we all create a palace of peace within ourselves and support one another as we experience the richness of life. Amen.

 

 

Swiss Family M

 

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Hola amigos,

for Semana Santa or “Easter” holidays, my mom and I reunited in Switzerland for our 1st mother-daughter vacation. We spent 11 days immersing ourselves in this opulent country—taking a leap back in time to revisit my mom’s old friends and life in Schaffhausen and also walking together in the present at a new stage in our relationship. 

It is difficult to capture the totality of this incredible adventure and put our experiences into words, but I shall try. 

In the beginning, we discovered, or “re-discovered” in the eyes of my mom, the city of Schaffhausen. There are really no words. Traveling to beautiful places is always a treat, but to me, connecting with genuine people and getting a sense of the authentic local life is priceless. We spent three nights there with my mom’s friend Martina and her family, visiting the local gems and catching up on life. This included going to the Rhein Fall, which is the largest waterfall in Europe, eating raclette, visiting my mom’s old work building and apartment area, admiring the watches in an IWC store, watching a water polo game, wandering the small towns along the Rhine River, and doing a girls trip to Zurich for a Foxtrail hunt in the rain. Our time spent in Schaffhausen was one of my favorite parts of the trip. It was fascinating for me to come to realize that my mom and I took similar paths after college and were both crazy enough to live and work abroad at 22. I also loved seeing my mom and Martina re-connect their friendship after 20+ years of not seeing one another. Very special to witness.  

Next location, we hopped on the train and spent the day in Bern. It was a charming city with cobblestone roads, bridges, ornate buildings, gorgeous river views, and their famous Zytglogge Clock Tower. After Bern, we took the train to Lausanne, a hilly town, and stayed there for 2 nights. Lausanne is in the French part of Switzerland and it felt like we were in France. One cool fact about Switzerland is that it has four national languages—French, German, Italian, and Romansh. It was very fun and sometimes tricky to remember what language to speak and to switch between Bonjour, Guten morgen, and Buongiorno. And depending on what part of the country you’re in, you can visibly see, hear, and feel the difference in culture based on your location. My favorite part of Lausanne was the cute pastry shop down the street from our hotel that we stopped at for breakfast a couple times. So delicious! Oh and I tried fondue for the 1st time here which was yummy too, but my tummy was not very happy about it. Cheese overload. While staying in Lausanne, we took the train for a day trip in Geneva. It was a little rainy and quite windy but another beautiful city with lovely architecture and bright-colored flowers. 

One of our favorite cities in Switzerland was Lucerne, where we spent two nights at the Hotel Mr. Pickwick Pub with a stunning view of the river. But before Lucerne, we got off the train at Interlaken, for a quick pit stop. It’s a small mountain town so we didn’t spend much time there, but we walked around for a couple hours and enjoyed the sunshine and nature. Lucerne was breathtaking! Most of the places throughout Switzerland share common qualities—lovely architecture, the river, lush nature, bright flowers, fresh air, grand mountains, elegant bridges, general cleanliness, but Lucerne just had a different feel to it. This place felt like heaven on earth. The white swans gliding along the river, the sky, the water fountains, the streets, the light…this place was handcrafted by God. One of the highlights was taking a cable car, the highest in the world, up to the top of Mount Pilatus, which is rumored to be the burial site of Pontius Pilate, hence the name, but who knows? We also went to only one museum during our entire trip, the Kunstmuseum in Lucerne, which was a fun mix of old and new art. 

Next on the list was our journey to Lake Lugano. We left Lucerne by boat to Fluelen, and then from Fluelen we took the Panoramic Express Train to Lugano. It was a five or six hour journey in total, but one of the most beautiful landscapes I have ever seen in my life. Peering at the quaint mountain towns, hearing the rush of the river, gazing at the regal and massive snow-capped mountains, looking at tunnel art, and taking it all in with my mom was the sweetest thing. We spent two nights in Lugano in the mountain town of Agra at a charming hotel/restaurant managed by a lovely couple. It was about twenty minutes by bus up the mountain and it was refreshing to get away from the bustle of the city and just hear the sound of the birds chirping and experience the simple life. The next day we took a two-hour boat tour around Lake Lugano and were once again mesmerized by the beauty of the water, mountains, towns, and vibrant colors. Afterwards, we got to see Lugano from above, at the top of Mount Brie. 

On Easter morning, we took the train to Zurich, where we stayed for our last night together. I was bummed that up until now we hadn’t done any hiking because my mom’s not really into that, but my wish got granted thanks to my mom’s old friend Charlie. It was a LOT of uphill and I’m proud of my mom for hanging in there, probably more than she expected, but oh well. However, the stunning views of all Zurich and neighboring cities was worth the climb. And getting to know my mom’s friend Charlie and hear them re-connect again was very cool. 

Switzerland is exquisite! Some of the most lush and vibrant nature I have come across. And getting to travel by train and boat was phenomenal. THANK YOU to Martina, Amadeo, Roman, Julia, and Charlie for everything and I hope to see you guys soon!

Lastly, Mommy you are the best. Exploring, laughing, chatting, and just being with you is a gift. Until next time!

Love,

Manders 

“When she started letting go, her vision became clearer. The present felt more manageable and the future began to look open and full of bright possibilities. As she shed the tense energy of the past, her power and creativity returned to her. With a revitalized excitement, she focused on building a new life where joy and freedom were abundant.”

-Yung Pueblo