The Gratitude Attitude 2012

I’m grateful to be here today, living my life the way I want to, surrounded by loved ones and friends (some virtual, some real). Some of my friends did not make it this far, and when I think about the million possibilities their lives could have taken, I am all the more grateful to be alive. To be free. To be whole and safe and loved.

As we bow our head in grateful thanks to our Creator, may we always be grateful for all our blessings and may we always see our challenges as life lessons. May we never forget to share, to forgive, and to love. May our pursuits of joy be tempered with concern for our fellowmen. And may we always be united in kinship and friendship- here’s to all of us!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!


Happiness is… (ix)

living the Gratitude Attitude,

even when it is sometimes difficult.

I admit it, despite my cheery and self- deprecating bluster, sometimes, even I find it hard to always be happy and grateful. Some days, I wake up already feeling overwhelmed by the day that lies ahead. There’s always one or more nagging worries running around through my head, and they can be crippling, these worries that seize me and keep me awake at night.

For the most part, there’s always a simmering anxiety about Alphonse. Even on really good days, which now number more than the bad, it isn’t easy to live without fear of the recent past returning. It gets even worse during bad days. In the past week, Alphonse was irritable and prone to meltdowns again. My anxieties mounted in the middle of Alphonse’s own fragile state. (Please pray for him, my friends.)

Still, it was A♥’s absence for an extended period of time last week that proved to be the tipping point. With my emotions all over the place, I gave in to my feelings of despair and longing and showed my broken heart for all to see. Somewhere in that episode of unusual lack of restraint, however, I realized something- that Thomas Fuller was right when he wrote that “no man can be happy without a friend, nor be sure of his friend until he is unhappy.” In those brief moments of unhappiness, I learned who my friends were. Thank you to all those who asked after me, who reassured me with their constant friendship.

One bright sunshine in those gloomy days came in the form of a precious gift from a new friend. Sometimes, in the middle of my tears, I would look at it and be forced to smile and be thankful as I reflected on the hands that made the gift with love and care and the hearts that gave willingly, without expectation of reciprocity. My grateful thanks to my friend Cynthia and her mom, Tita Zeny, always.


I will always be grateful for my friends, for their presence in my sometimes turbulent life. I will always be grateful for the Love that sustains me and my family, even when times are tough. And I will always look into my life with an attitude that takes nothing for granted. There is so much to be thankful for. Despite the dark, stormy clouds, the sun always comes out in the end.

The Gratitude Attitude 2010

For 28 years of Friendship  and 19 years of Marriage, each year filled with Love,

For Sons who fill our home with Life and Laughter, with Song and Joyful Shouts,

For Family who keep us afloat when life brings us down,

For Friends, old and new, who have kept us in mind and in heart through the years,

For a Home that shelters us through heat or rain,

For Work that fulfills and provides,

For good Health that’s worth more than all the world’s wealth,

For God whose merciful grace has given us Peace and Forgiveness,

I am forever grateful.


I woke up this morning to the rustling of the sheets. It was still dark out; there was no hint of light in the sky. I felt a movement in the room, and as I tried to focus my eyes, I saw Alphonse, sitting in the darkness, making happy, little noises. He didn’t even notice me wake up.

I was expecting him to run to the light switches and open all of them in one go, or even attempt to open the bedroom door which we lock at night to keep him from wandering, but no, this time, he stayed put at the foot of our bed. And then just as suddenly, he clambered over the bed, sidled up to me, and started giving me wet, sloppy kisses, all the while still making his happy, little noises.

As his lips brushed my cheeks, he suddenly whispered, “Ayayu (I love you).” He has not spoken these words in a while so I was surprised. “I love you too, baby,” I whispered back, as tears fell down my cheeks. He gave me one last kiss and then moved to the other side of the bed, where he did the same to his dad.

Later, snuggled between his dad and me, he smiled and went back to sleep.

This is what we call Thanksgiving.  

Being Thankful: The Seven Ups

It’s Thanksgiving Day tomorrow, and while we do not observe this occasion in my country, I feel that any opportunity to be grateful, thankful, and appreciative of the blessings in our lives is always worth celebrating wherever you may be in the globe. 

I’d like to share this wonderful message sent via email by my friend Melyn. I think it’s very appropriate as we reflect this weekend on the meaning of gratitude.  It’s easy to focus on the negatives, especially when there is so much of it in the world today. The world seems just about ready to turn upside down with acts of unspeakable cruelties and unimaginable horrors that it is so easy to simply give up. But to be truly grateful is to constantly view life as a gift from our Creator. To be grateful is to choose to live each day as a celebration of faith, love, and grace.  And to be truly grateful is to always stand for what is right.   

Decide to have a good day.
‘This is the day the Lord hath made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.’The best way to dress up is to put on a smile.
A smile is an inexpensive way to improve your looks.
‘The Lord does not look at the things man looks at.
Man looks at outward appearance,but the Lord looks at the heart.’

Say nice things and learn to listen.
God gave us two ears and one mouth,
so He must have meant for us to do twice as much listening as talking.

. . . for what you believe in.
Stand for something or you will fall for anything.
‘Let us not be weary in doing good; for at the proper time,
we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good…’

. . . to the Lord.
‘I can do everything through Christ who strengthens me’.

. . . for something higher.
‘ Trust in the Lord with all your heart ,
and lean not unto your own understanding.
In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path.’

. . . your Prayers.
‘Do not worry about anything; instead

Lessons from an MRI

I will try to update this blog for as long as I can. I am typing one-handed these days as the pain in my hands grow. I am working on rebuilding my strength and coping with pain without medication. Thank you to all my friends who have extended well wishes and sent me prayers. I feel your love, my friends. ~♥Kittymama  


MRI machine- designed to torture claustrophobes

I was set to undergo a cervical spine MRI that morning but panic and pain set in. As a plus-sized woman living in a normal-sized world, I barely fit in an MRI machine. A few moments after the technician slid me in, my neck, shoulders and arms started screaming in excruciating pain. I half -expected this; I hadn’t been able to lie down comfortably in weeks since my neck started bothering me. The position required for the test elicited a whole world of pain. I could literally see stars going supernova as waves of nausea rolled through me in succession.

Within seconds, I started panicking too, the feeling of being compressed weighing very heavily on my chest. I felt trapped, crushed, and squeezed in. It was almost like being buried alive.

I asked to be let out right away. I tried to stop from crying and tried to compose myself. I didn’t want anyone to think of me as a wussy. But even while thinking things through rationally, I simply could not will myself to do it. Pain and panic were already my best friends. In the end, I had to be sedated.


Why couldn't we have something like this instead?

I hate MRIs. Being severely claustrophobic certainly made things worse. My husband tried to calm me down, but it was no use, I was a wreck. Even with the prospect of sedation, the mounting anxiety was too overwhelming to control. A reminded me that I needed this- and he was right, of course, he almost always is– and told me to visualize something that would calm me down.

I fell into a deep sleep even before I was completely inside the MRI machine. But as I knew was bound to happen, I woke up during the procedure. I was jammed inside from my head to my thighs. I tried to wiggle the tips of my fingers to show the anesthesiologist that I was awake. Minutes passed and no one came to my aid. I was on the verge of losing it, as panic and pain came back with a vengeance. I felt like clawing my way out, of thrashing and kicking so I could slide back out, but I imagined A talking to me, telling me to calm myself. I breathed deeply and prayed. I closed my eyes, alternately praying and thinking of only soothing things. The next thing I knew, it was all over.

When A saw me a while after, wide-eyed and alert but still anxious and unsteady, he gave me a big hug. I told him what had happened midway through the procedure. And then I told him, that as I closed my eyes after praying, I suddenly thought of Sylvanian Families and imagined playing with them. Weird, but true. He gave a small laugh, then hugged me again.

SF 01

The Keats Family

We went out to dinner that night, my reward, he said, for “doing so well on my MRI test” (A always manages to reward me even for the simplest things — talk about positive reinforcement!). While we waited for the food, he excused himself to pick up a few things. He was gone unusually long but when he returned, he had two small packages which he handed to me. Lo and behold- there they were, my very first Sylvanian family (SF). I could hardly contain my tears. A few days later, on our 18th wedding anniversary, he gave me an entire village.

Robert Fulghum said that “If you break your neck, if you have nothing to eat, if your house is on fire, then you’ve got a problem. Everything else is inconvenience.” When seen from the perspective of the world’s current problems, of my own country’s problems, everything else — even my neck — is merely inconvenience. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned through the years, and even through the disasters of Ondoy and Pepeng, it’s that there is no better relief  for any kind of pain in the world than to receive Love. And this I’ve had real plenty from the one person who has loved me constantly for the past 27 years. I really can’t complain.


My fave accessory- a cervical collar!

So in the middle of this uphill climb to get well again, I concentrate on what keeps me going even on days when the pain is hardest to bear. I am loved. Always loved. Thank you, God.