Feminist Lens: What dreams are made of

I’m not the right person to talk about goal setting. I am just good at dreaming. I personally advocate to make your own dreams, follow your heart’s desire.

Dreams don’t only talk about the future but they also talk about our existing values, our interests, and our priorities.

I read an anecdote of a mother having a conversation with her son. Her son wrote in his homework that he wanted to be the driver of a train. The teacher corrected her son’s homework. She wrote : “To be a manager of the train station.”

Should the teacher correct the little boy’s dream? What if being a train operator is what the little boy really wanted to be?

I have heard many stories on how parents would like their children to be doctors, nurses, lawyers and how students struggle to finish a degree they don’t like.

If ever I become a mother, I will not insist my dreams to be my children’s dreams. They will be what they want to be.

This leaves me with a thought that we are not entitled to impose what people should aspire for. When people tell me what I should be and what I should want to have, I silently respond:
“Who are you to tell me what I should be?” “What do you know about my dreams.”

If I am not happy receiving unsolicited advice on how I should live my life, why should I do the same to others?

17425066_1478977972135711_7161015927487568673_n

A month ago, I facilitated a short activity for a group of women in the community. In our activity Buuin Natin Ang Ating Mga Pangarap, we ask each woman to make a vision board. The group was composed of full-time mothers living in Brgy. UP Campus. They cut out pictures from magazines and newspapers and put them all together in a cartolina. Some dreamed of having a business, owning a landline, and serving good food for their family. I take it as a sign of hope that somehow they have aspirations that will eventually make them entrepreneurs in their community. As expected, everyone mentioned having a good life for their family.

If you belong to the first wave of feminists, you would preach that you have the choice to work outside home. Do not let yourself be confined to the four corners of your home. You can be so much more than be a mother and a wife.

I was supposed to end the activity with the women by saying, “Have a dream outside home, outside family. Have a dream that you can call yours, not your husband’s dream, not your parents’ dream, not you family’s dream. “

But I just couldn’t remember if I really said it. Maybe I did not say it at all because deep down I questioned my position to encourage women to aim a little higher and “dream for yourself.” I had some introspection. Maybe these things are easy to say because I am young, single, childless, and middleclass.

I have enjoyed my single life and perhaps my motivation of the things I do is to reach self-actualization. Like other millennials, I constantly question my purpose in life. Sometimes, I subconsciously equate purpose with profession, paycheck, or any validation from the society. And again my formula is about me and my dreams.

But for some people, family is a strong motivation to keep a job, to get a promotion, to start a business, to take risks, to keep your momentum and zest in life. I rationalize this by saying,
“You make the most of your ability when you know that there are people around you who depend on you, like a captain of the ship, like a pilot, like a CEO.” For me, that is a form of empowerment. When you are able to produce milk for your child, when all the members of the house are well-fed, when you ensure accessibility and availability of resources not only for your family survival but for the development of their capacities, motherhood becomes a serious endeavor that requires management skills, with targets and deliverables.

If we ask most mothers what they dream of, the answers will always be about family. Should we as feminists, dream of enhancing and strengthening our personal relationships? Should it be part of our agenda to make better mothers and wives in the world?

Without being too theoretical, feminism wants women to be their best version of themselves and that covers many facets of a woman’s life

The purpose of the vision board activity is not to promote a new set of values but to find commonality in our dreams as a women’s organization. Because within these similarities, we draw strength from one another to reach great heights.

From a Ted Talk quote:

“Coming true is not the only purpose of a dream. Its most important purpose is to get us in touch with where dreams come from, where passion comes from, where happiness comes from. Even a shattered dream can do that for you.” – Lisa Bu

Why should we deprive ourselves from the joy of dreaming? Whether it’s small or big,for work or better life, whether it comes from a selfless notion of motherhood,  a dream is a reminder that we can be so much more than what we are today.

Worth Forgiving

moving forward

moving forward

There were nights that I could not sleep just because I could not forgive. Whether it was a mirror or a name, it reminded me of how unfair life was. I wanted to curse and use all the swear words that never came out of my mouth.

When I remember those nights, I feel nothing anymore. Looking back, the reasons were frivolous to extinguish anger and grudge. It is just a story, like everybody’s story of moving on and forgiving. When every detail of the story turns vague and blurry, this is how I know I have forgiven.

I am very much aware that people experience much worse in life. To say, “forgive”, is over simplified for someone who is going through a complicated life. When I think of how grave other people’s offenses are, is it possible to just forgive? Are they worthy of forgiveness?

It is easy to forgive when the offender realizes his mistake or when we see the offender punished.

When I think of what Jesus did in the cross,  it reaffirms the famous quote: “To err is human. To forgive is divine.”

This  passage is one of the many teachings of forgiveness in the Bible.

“When they came to the place called The Skull, there they crucified Him and the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left. But Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”

Luke 23:33-34

When a grown-up reads The Little Prince

11749875_10153346225557906_1700189197_oMy ex-room mate once told me: As you grow old, reading The Little Prince becomes more profound. So I pick up my 10-year old copy of The Little Prince and read all over again. When you gain more life experiences, you can find yourself in one of The Little Prince’s characters and in the book’s philosophies. I appreciate the book now, in my mid twenties. I guess when you’re a little older, you strangely get insights from the innocence of a child which The Little Prince symbolizes. Here are some of the things that The Little Prince remind me of:

We love numbers but numbers are just numbers

Our world is governed by numbers. For instance, we measure the country’s progress by GNP or GDP but it does not reflect the quality of life of most people. Money, school grades, salary, check, number of likes in Facebook are just numbers. Numbers cannot tell how happy you are.

We have to dig deeper to know its value

One of the most popular quote: “What is essential is invisible to the eye.” “ And another quote from the books says: “What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well” It’s easy to measure someone’s worth based on face value.  Often we pattern our lives with what society expects, what advertising sells.  Always choose substance over form. What holds value to you does not necessarily hold value to to most people.

Facts are just “good-to-know”. Life is not about facts but a collection of experiences.

I always thought that by reading more books, by studying, by listening to experts and scholars is enough to make me more knowledgeable. But experience is always irreplaceable. Thanks to technology, knowledge is accessible. It’s good to know the world through web pages but it’s just a small portion of our reality.

The obsession of power, status and accumulation are all meaningless. 

I have a similar blog post related to this. The Little Prince  cannot understand the obsession of  the king to rule, the fascination of the businessman to buy more stars. We do resemble some of the characters  he met in different planets. We may be the geographer who does not travel the places he records, and the lamplighter who is too useful but has no time to rest.

We choose the people we want to be part of our lives

We keep looking for the best set of people to be our friends. They are not unique people just like the rose of The Little Prince. He has a sad realization that his rose in his planet is just like the other roses on earth.  But when we “establish ties”, the way The Little Prince tamed the fox, we make them special. This reminds me of random question I shared with my friend: Do you think you marry the best guy in your life or the right person?

“There is no shop where you can buy friendship”

Period.   the littlpr Relationships are important

Relationships add zeal and meaning in our lives as explained by the fox to The Little Prince.

“My life is very monotonous,” the fox said. “I hunt chickens; men hunt me. All the chickens are just alike, and all the men are just alike. And, in consequence, I am a little bored. But if you tame me, it will be as if the sun came to shine on my life. I shall know the sound of a step that will be different from all the others. Other steps send me hurrying back underneath the ground. Yours will call me, like music, out of my burrow. And then look: you see the grain-fields down yonder? I do not eat bread. Wheat is of no use to me. The wheat fields have nothing to say to me. And that is sad. But you have hair that is the color of gold. Think how wonderful that will be when you have tamed me! The grain, which is also golden, will bring me back the thought of you. And I shall love to listen to the wind in the wheat…”

We love the difficult people

The rose of The Little Prince has an attitude problem. She always complains and she is pretty demanding. Not to mention, she is fragile and vulnerable but The Little Prince has been devoted to her.

People have different values and priorities

We choose what gives meaning to our lives. Yes, we can choose what drives us everyday to work, what makes our lives worth living for, what inspires us, what motives us, what makes us happy

“All men have stars,” [the prince said.] “but they are not the same things for different people. For some, who are travelers, the stars are guides. For others they are no more than little lights in the sky. For others, who are scholars, they are problems. For my businessman they were wealth. But all these stars are silent. You—you alone—will have the stars as no one else has them—” “What are you trying to say?” “In one of the stars I shall be living. In one of them I shall be laughing. And so it will be as if all the stars were laughing, when you look at the sky at night… You—only you—will have stars that can laugh!” (26.18-20)

Looking forward to watch The Little Prince movie

If “True Love” is True

Disney Maleficent Movie

Disney Maleficent Movie

My professor in one of my MA classes asked us, ” What do you think about romantic love?” I said, “I think romantic love is overrated.”

I was bitter but I was able to validate my opinion when Nicholas Sparks just filed a divorce. It was the worst heartbreak ever. If swallowing more personal heartaches could save his marriage, I would just to keep that fantasy.

If I am going to use my feminist lens, I think romantic love is used to oppress women. In fact the romantic love we know characterized by euphoric feelings is too modern. This true love is that kind of love that is pushed by Victorian era. The bourgeois ensured their bloodline by picking one woman for one man. It makes women long for male validation. It makes the ideal kind of love unattainable, inaccessible. It makes love an achievement when it should be free. As stated by Janis Ian, love was meant for beauty queens.

My academic reading reflects real life drama

My academic reading reflects real life drama

I don’t want people to think negatively about love but I am selling the principle of love in its basic and universal form. There are principles that are worth fighting for but the principle of love encompasses all principles that is good for humanity.

But what is love? My idea of love is theological and philosophical. They say love is a social construct. It means many things to many people. We are living in a world where we like to deconstruct ideas. But when someone tells you “I love you,” it’s one truth that you wish is absolute.

heart

found this on my way to school

I look back at the book of 1st Corinthians 13 and other passages in the Bible that show love to figure out if I am loving. I have heard this many times. When I was a kid, I whispered, “Oh that’s no-brainer! Isn’t it natural for a human being to love?” But growing old, watching people come and go, gaining experiences, losing trust, I just come to a conclusion love is expensive. I discover that only a few people can love me that includes my mom and dad and that my capacity to love others is also limited. And I have no problem with that. Knowing that only a few people can truly love me sets the bar on how I love people.

What I’d like to highlight in 1st Corinthians 13:  “It is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” “Self-seeking” means that we should not try to seek what we will gain or benefit from people. We love for the purpose of loving alone. If you are counting the rewards and perks of gaining people to love, that is not true love.

Love does not keep records of wrongs. Love does not have quota for how many mistakes the other makes. You just love and forgive those who make. We love not to prove that we are better, more righteous, smarter than the other. We choose love not to please ourselves but to please others.

Nothing is written in the book that love is mutual. As what Shakespeare said, “Love is not love that bends with the remover.”

The most beautiful and most difficult in the biblical view of love is the principle of sacrifice. Love calls for a sacrifice. When soldiers put their lives at risk, that is love.

Photo from Michael V  instagram

Photo from Michael V instagram

“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. “ – John 15: 13

The way Christ demonstrates love……

Photo from: heiscomingblog.wordpress.com

Photo from: heiscomingblog.wordpress.com

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we laid down our lives for our brothers and sisters. “-1 John 3: 16

Love is expensive. Love is not as shallow as giving extra food, extra cash, extra time. Love is not giving what we have in excess. Because when it is just an extra of what we have, there is no sacrifice. In Mark 12: 41- 44,  between the rich people who gave large amounts of money and a poor widow who only gave two small coins as offering, the poor widow has put more treasury than all others.

In the course of love, we make ourselves vulnerable. Christ made himself vulnerable. He became human and died for our sins. We love the unlovable. We love even our oppressors. We love the ugliest. We love the people who exploit us. I  have to agree if people say that Christianity is a religion of death and martyrdom.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?– Matthew 5: 43- 48

It does not matter who we love but how we love matters.

When Jean Valjean was dying , he and Cosette in Les Miserables, sang : “To love another person is to see face of God” There are many religious people who are vigilant in criticizing others but they forget how to love.

“He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. “-1 John 4: 8

So….Are you just a clanging cymbal?

Photo from Versifylife.com

Photo from Versifylife.com

Most of the time, I am.

Notes to my ever-changing self

happy jack

Photo taken in Isdaan, Laguna

I hear many voices in my head as I move forward from quarter life crisis.  These voices come from social pressure, unachievable ideals, and  unsolicited advice. To keep myself calm, I come up notes on how I should improve myself.

  1. If you’re not ready, then don’t
  2. Buy happiness if you can
  3. Gain survival skills
  4. Follow your heart (Yes, it works!)
  5. Forget others’ and your expectations
  6. Focus on improving yourself which means find fulfillment
  7. Include others in your journey
  8. Be useful
  9. Lend a hand
  10. Give your time to others
  11. Learn from others
  12. Build connections
  13. Share your dreams
  14. Avoid negative vibes
  15. Watch cartoons
  16. Listen to good music
  17. Focus on your strengths
  18. Count your blessings
  19. Instill faith and hope in others
  20. Never deny feelings
  21. Be vulnerable
  22. Be flexible
  23. Be open
  24. Never limit
  25. Never regret
  26. Keep values
  27. Enjoy liberty
  28. Pray
  29. Satisfy your inner being

To my 14-year-old Self

muni muni

To my 14-year-old self:

One day you will realize the things you believe important and attractive are trivial and superficial. Hence, take it easy. Forgive yourself when you can’t rewind, replace, redo. We are all unfinished products.

Find your own happiness. Your happiness should be independent from what your parents, your friends, or others think. It should be free from what society expects. Our capitalist culture has a way of reshaping our beliefs on happiness. Listen to your inner voice. It may not give you the best answers but it will give you the honest answers.

Fulfilling a childhood dream or a bucket list is more of an ego fulfillment than a calling. Ego fulfillment is all about yourself. It is a personal sense of accomplishment or sense of worth. Calling is not all about yourself. Calling is not unrequited love. It shouldn’t be I-love-music-but-music-hates-me. It means you want something that wants you back.

You will like to hear a lot of inspiring quotes about life like these: “If you work hard, you will succeed. If you are persistent, you will get it. If you can conceive it, you can achieve it. If you are very passionate, you will excel. If you are nice to people, they will not do harm to you.” Sorry to burst your bubble, life has no formula. We keep on finding ways to make it perfect but no one writes his own life like an equation. It is a result of many drafts. We can only plan life to a certain extent but there will always be a hand of God pointing you to where you should be.

Here are four top life events you have to go through.

From the lyrics of  Fix You– Coldplay

  1. When you try your best but don’t succeed
  2. When you get what you want but not what you need
  3. When you lose something you can’t replace
  4. When you love someone but goes to waste

Thus, when things don’t work out in favor of you, you learn to reinvent yourself.

If you make a mistake, do it with dignity. Be a professional actor. Don’t let other people know your weakness unless you can no longer keep it to yourself. Hide the things that haunt you. Be a swan, struggling underneath but graceful on the surface. It takes time to master this craft.

Savor every feeling whether it’s good or bad. If someone cuts you, let it bleed. Laugh if it tickles. Be amused even if you are the only one who can appreciate it. If someone tricks you, good for you. You just witness magic. If you hate something, punch the wind.

Fight for what you love, even if you are not sure it is worth fighting for. The only time you know it’s not worth fighting for when you lose the battle. Hence, you don’t know if you don’t try. We call this 1st level bravery. The second level of bravery is when you give up the things you used to dream and love after fighting a hard battle. Warriors do not mention the word “surrender”. But there is victory in surrender. It is something both heroes and losers shared.

Lastly, don’t be in a hurry to grow up.

Yours truly,

The Aging Self

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