5 Things You Can Do While in Quarantine

It’s been six weeks since the quarantine was implemented, I hope everyone is doing well. I think by now we are slowly starting to get used to this new normal (at least I am). Whether or not it is a good thing is irrelevant right now, as we all need to do our part in controlling the spread of the virus. Since we are spending more and more time at home these days, I can understand how it can drive a lot of people nuts. What was once a place for relaxation has now transformed to a place of stress (for those who are now required to work from home). I understand how that shift can affect our mental state, which is not a good addition to the anxiety and fear looming over us because of our current situation. To help take our minds off of the boredom/stress/anxiety/depression, here are five things that we can do while in quarantine:

Watch shows on Netflix/Amazon Video/Apple TV/Disney +/Whatever streaming platform you are subscribed to – this is probably the most obvious activity to do. In fact, six weeks into quarantine, I bet most of you have already watched TONS of shows. But just in case you haven’t done this yet, now is the perfect time to discover new shows or catch up on the shows that you have already started.

Read a new book – I know some people are not really into reading books but this can be a good break from staring at the screen for too long. I am still one of those people who prefer reading the physical book over an e-book. There’s something about finishing a book that makes you feel fulfilled and somehow smarter.

Cook or bake (or learn how to cook and/or bake) – during this lockdown I find myself enjoying cooking more and more. I have always considered cooking and/or baking as a therapeutic activity, so I find myself using this time to discover new dishes or to replicate recipes of the dishes that I enjoy eating. A lot of people seem to be into baking bread right now. I may jump into that bandwagon some time soon.

Exercise – I will admit that I have been very bad with working out lately. I putting this up here as a reminder to myself to work out even when I am at home. With gyms and studios being closed, this is one thing that I have neglected doing. I personally enjoy working out in a facility that is not my home as I never really associate my house as a place for exercise. Even with studios and gyms offering online classes, I am still yet to attend one of them. Maybe one day.

Start a new hobby – always wanted to learn how to crochet/knit/sew/garden/play a musical instrument/play a new boardgame/start a blog or a vlog? Now is the perfect time to do that. This is a special time that we hope never to go through again. But while we are going through it, why not use this gift in a positive and productive manner? Personally, I am glad I started this blog before the lockdown so at least I already have the basic layout done. Starting something is always the hardest, especially for a perfectionist like me. So by getting this blog started ahead of time, I can now use this time to write more entries instead of dawdling around or stressing over format.


So those would be my suggestions for quarantine activities. I know they are not the most original, but those are the ones that are most appealing to me. I hope that everyone is keeping themselves safe and healthy in these trying times. I know it sucks not to be able to go to parks or patios right now, especially since the weather is starting to get better here in Toronto. But let this experience teach us to be more patient, resilient, and enduring. It is now also up to us to make the most out of a sucky situation and turn it into a productive one.

Sending virtual hugs,

The Self-Love Photoshoot at Nuovo Artistic Photography

Apologies for the late update. This review has been sitting in my drafts folder for a while but I couldn’t bring myself to finish it. With everything that has been going on in the world right now, I have been under a lot of stress. I have been on a weird anxiety and depression see-saw that I have been struggling to shake off. As anyone with anxiety would tell you, the worst thing that you can do to them is to subject them to the unknown. Our brains are wired to constantly worry, so we always feel the need to plan: on our next course of action, our future, important (or unimportant decisions), etc. So this whole event is an enormous trigger for us. I understand and acknowledge that there are people out there who are going through bigger concerns: our overworked frontliners who are tirelessly tending to the sick and risking their own healths in the process, employees of essential services who still need to leave their houses to keep the establishments running, employees who have been laid off and have no other sources of income, the marginalized who do not have access to good public healthcare and basic sustenance, the list goes on. I get that… but I hope it doesn’t invalidate anybody else’s pain, because we are all affected by this pandemic one way or another.

So as I sit here with another episode of insomnia, I figured it would be best to just finish up this entry so I can start fresh and move on. Before I do, I would like to take this time to thank our healthcare workers all over the world who are doing their best to save the lives of those affected by this virus. I have a lot of friends and relatives who are working in this field so this is more personal and important to me. Thank you for everything that you do. I pray that you remain healthy and strong always… not just physically, but also mentally. This is not just physically taxing, but also mentally and emotionally exhausting. So also take the time to care for and look after yourselves. ❤

Alright. Now to proceed to the actual blog entry. This was an activity that I have done in early March, before the city and province announced community quarantine and the closure of non-essential services. The timing may not be ideal but I wanted to get this published before I start working on a new entry. Also, since a small businesses are greatly impacted by these current closures, I wanted to make sure that I still finish writing this review and show my support to our local enterprises. When all of this is over, please support your local establishments. They will need all the support that they can to bounce back.


The people who know me well know that I am almost always on Instagram. Especially when I am trying to get off my funk, I like looking at other people’s posts to motivate me and inspire me. I like getting inspiration from my feed, as it gives me something to look forward to. As I was going through the posts, I saw a contest hosted by Nuovo Artistic Photography for a $400 gift card towards a photoshoot and a free photo. I decided to join the contest, as really, what were my chances of winning? I guess I have forgotten about my luck on raffles.

A few days ago, I received a call from the studio advising me that I have won their contest. And since I had plenty of free time, I decided to book my appointment within that week. In retrospect, I’m glad I did that before establishments started shutting down and people were ordered to practice social distancing because of COVID-19.


THE STUDIO

Getting to the venue was pretty easy as I am quite familiar with the neighbourhood (I used to live in the area many many years ago). Located along Carlaw and Dundas, the studio is surrounded by many interesting places: cool cafes, fitness facilities, and yummy restaurants. The studio itself is breathtakingly beautiful, as you can see on their promotional video. Immediately I fell in love with the interior – the loft was gorgeous with its pretty chandelier, display photos, and art pieces. I was definitely digging the vibe.

THE PHOTOSHOOT

Arriving at my appointment, I was welcomed by Lindsay, who introduced herself as the photographer. She gave me a brief history of the studio, as well as the type of photoshoot that we will be doing. Essentially, it was a semi-nude shoot against a black background and red satin sheets as a cover up. The theme of the shoot is self-love. Prior to my appointment, I checked out their website and Instagram account to fully understand what I was getting myself into. Having done a boudoir photoshoot for my birthday a few years ago, I thought this would not be any different. Man, was I wrong. But I’m glad I was.

I came to my appointment wishing I was in much better shape. I still wasn’t over my bad funk phase and I have not worked out in weeks. The loss of appetite was a blessing in disguise, as it kept me at a decent weight but I was still definitely far from loving myself at that point. My self-esteem was at an all-time low. I was insecure, depressed, and anxious. I was glad that I was working with a female photographer, as Lindsay made me feel comfortable despite my undressed state. I never realized how vulnerable I felt until I was at the studio, with nothing but a red satin cloth to cover me up.

The shoot itself was pretty quick. We did a few poses and from different angles. Twenty minutes and we were done. It honestly felt quicker than that, as we were just casually chatting while I was having my pictures taken. After the shoot, I got dressed while Lindsay got my photos ready. I was very pleasantly surprised to see that the photos turned out well! I think I spent more time choosing the shots I wanted to keep vs. the actual photoshoot. So once all of that was done, we chatted about the process of when to get the photos, etc. We said our goodbyes and I was given roses before I left.

THE PHOTOS

Digital copy of the stainless print that I received

I received the digital copies a couple of days after the shoot, and the stainless steel print a few weeks later. I am so proud of how it all turned out. They offered to digitally edit the colour of the sheet if I wanted and if it was any other occasion, I would have opted to have it changed to purple as it is my favourite colour. However, I felt like the red resonated with me more at that time: it represented the strength I gained as I powered through my past issues, the power that I felt as I slowly triumphed over my obstacles, the love that surrounded and enveloped me, and the vulnerability that I still felt despite everything. The picture above encapsulated all that, so that’s the shot that got printed out. The rest of the digital copies, I will keep for myself to remember this special experience by.

RECOMMENDATION

Honestly, this experience meant a lot to me. It came at the perfect time when I was down and out. It was a time that I was unkind to myself, and I never gave myself the chance to heal and to accept love from people. But this whole event felt very empowering, and the final outputs were done so tastefully. It gave me a bit of my confidence back, as I saw the lady that other people see, and not the ugly, flawed, and incompetent being that I perceive myself to be. It’s a small paradigm shift, but at least it is still going towards the right direction. A small change is better than no change, after all.

I would definitely recommend this to anyone who would like to test the limits of their comfort zones, or just to anyone who would like to experience a unique activity. The studio offers different types of packages so they can definitely cater to your requests. Head over to their site and check out their portfolio, they won’t disappoint!


This entry ended up being longer than expected, but I wanted to make sure that I have properly documented the experience. If you got this far, thank you. I appreciate you taking the time and reading this review.

I know that times are tough right now, but I hope everyone is keeping safe. Please remember to avoid going out and leaving the house unless necessary. Let us all work together in fighting this pandemic. I hope things settle down soon enough. Please make sure that you are keeping yourselves physically, emotionally, and mentally healthy.

Sending my love and prayers,

Trying Out the Newest Viral Trend: Dalgona Coffee

As someone who has a shit ton of social media accounts (Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok. Twitter), it was very hard for me to miss this latest viral trend. In just one day I have been inundated with pictures and videos of people trying out the Dalgona Coffee recipe. Being that I have plenty of time on my hands, I decided to utilize my energy in satisfying my curiosity instead of fretting over the uncertainty that we are all currently facing. I wanted to put my own spin on the recipe so I added vanilla extract and cinnamon powder on my drink. If you are not about that flavour, you can easily skip those two ingredients. Here’s a video clip that I have created documenting the experience:

Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp instant coffee (I used Taster’s Choice)
  • 2 tsp white sugar
  • 2 tsp hot water
  • 1 cup milk of your choice (I used 2% milk)
  • Vanilla extract
  • Cinnamon powder

Steps:

  1. In a bowl, mix instant coffee, sugar, and hot water with a hand mixer, beater, or spoon until it is nice and frothy.
  2. Add vanilla extract to milk (heat milk if you prefer to serve the coffee hot, or pour over ice cubes if you prefer to serve it cold).
  3. Pour frothy coffee mixture over milk. Top with cinnamon powder.

I have tried this recipe both hot and cold. Being that it is still chilly here in Toronto, I opted to try it hot first, then iced in the afternoon. Personally, I preferred the drink cold, as it reminded me of warm summer days. But both are still tasty regardless of how you make it. I especially loved the smooth texture of the frothed coffee, and how the bitterness was tamed by the creaminess of the milk. Watching other people’s attempts at recreating this drink inspired me to try other variations of this concoction as well. I will try to see what I have available at home and document my experiment. Let me know if you end up trying it too, or if you have any suggestions on how else we can tweak this drink.

Keep safe, everyone. And please refrain from going outside unless it’s highly necessary. The sooner we contain this pandemic, the sooner we can go back to our normal lives. For now, we must all cooperate and adjust to this current reality and hope that this ends soon.

Sending lots of (virtual) hugs and love,

Happy Birthday to My Piscean Boo

My apologies for the hiatus, I went through another tough funk and it was particularly difficult to shake off. But today is a special day, and funk or not, I want to make sure that I get this post out as today is my boo’s birthday! Yay!

Lights Show at the Distillery District

Every year, for the three weeks between our birthdays, this guy has the nerve to call me a cougar. Well you can’t call me that now, can you?! I always tell him, our birthdays are bound by the same Billboard #1 song: Livin’ on a Prayer by Bon Jovi. So really, I can’t be considered a cougar since we still have the same song. Right?

Billboard #1 Song in 1987

All jokes aside, I hope you have an amazing birthday. I am very blessed to have you in my life. A lot of people are happy to have you in their lives as well. You are surrounded by people who love and support you, and I wish nothing but the best for you. I hope you continue to remain kind, caring, playful and understanding. I can’t wait to celebrate more birthdays with you, until we are both old and wrinkly. I know you would still call me cougar then, but I know I will be the less wrinkled one (because hello, Asian genes).

I love you boo! I’ll see you soon!

Real Talk: Dealing with Anxiety Attack Relapse

There was something else that I wanted to post today, but for some reason, I was unable to bring myself to finish the entry. Normally I would have posts written the day before and I just schedule them to be published the morning of the next day. I am still building my writing pipeline so I don’t have much completed entries that I could just schedule for publish even if I am not particularly productive for a day. I am finishing up this post today, February 28th, and will be publishing this as soon as I am done with the actual entry. Yesterday, as I was working on a post that I wanted to release before the week is done, I suddenly felt an overwhelming pressure on my chest. I couldn’t control the feelings of helplessness, antsiness, and despair that were bubbling inside me. I was having issues breathing, and I felt very incoherent. I tried to calm down and gather my thoughts and assess the situation and then I realized, I was having another anxiety attack.

That came as a big surprise and shock for me. It’s been a couple of months since my last episode, and I thought I was getting better. I tried so hard to get rid of my stressors, made sure I took it easy, saw my therapist, and loved myself more but here I was, sitting in the middle of the bed, trying to control myself from having another meltdown. It was so disheartening. With all the progress that I was making, it didn’t feel fair to go through this all over again. I didn’t want to resent myself for being so weak, because I knew that it would only spiral out of control from there. I’ve been there before, I know how it goes. If I stewed on those thoughts longer, I would find myself in another depressive hole. My anxiety and depression are married to one another.

According to this article, it is not uncommon for anxiety and depression to co-occur. I have experienced almost all of the symptoms for both conditions, and I am controlling these symptoms by following the treatment plans laid out by the article: CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), Talk Therapy, and Problem Solving Therapy. Although my depression still lingers, I was glad that my anxiety was getting better. Until I relapsed.

I composed myself and gathered my thoughts. I tried to think up of ways to get through the episode without getting worse. I thought I’d share the steps that worked for me, as it might come in handy for you later on. I am not a professional therapist but you can take it from someone who is currently battling these demons.


REALIZE YOUR TRIGGER/S

In my case, I knew what triggered me into having that anxiety attack. I was caught off guard, and I didn’t realize that I would still feel this strongly about this particular trigger. Turns out I still have residual feelings of hurt and disappointment towards the whole situation. My takeaway from my episode is that I still have to learn to let go. And perhaps I still need more time to heal and work on accepting the fact that some people are just so insensitive, entitled, self-centered, and vain forgiving… or at least forgetting. Hard to do when you’re the type who keeps grudges, and you have exceptional memory. Someone whack me with a rock. I think the only way for me to get through this is to get amnesia. But all jokes aside, I guess I have a long ways to go.

It is important to know what our triggers are. It is only through recognizing them that we are able to work on them. If we don’t even know what causes us grief, how can we avoid future episodes? We need to at least know what to to avoid, improve, or solve. One of my ways of coping and calming down is by doing research to understand myself better. I came across this article that talks about triggers: https://psychcentral.com/lib/top-relapse-triggers-for-depression-how-to-prevent-them/.

Do not dwell on self hate

It’s not hard to get to that state when you catch yourself relapsing. I was beating myself up for not being strong enough to prevent the anxiety attack from happening. It was so easy to turn all of these negative thoughts inwards, it felt like second nature. I still am my biggest critic and worst enemy, after all. Thoughts were coming in nonstop – of panic, despair, worst case scenarios. Once I realized what I was doing, I had to forcefully stop that train of thought. I recently read about grounding, and it somehow worked.

It took a lot of effort from me to do this, but it worked in redirecting my focus

Vent

Once the initial feeling of antsiness/helplessness/panic/despair has calmed down, I reached out to the people who were aware about this particular trigger. I texted my best friend and my cousin and told them what happened. They were very supportive and helped me to not feel like crap for feeling what I was feeling. They also proved to be very effective distractions who took my mind off of negative thoughts once I had my fill of venting. I also spoke to J about it much later on, I told him of my fears of relapse. I was so afraid that I have not changed at all from last year, despite all of my efforts of recovery. He reassured me that I was on the right track to healing, and that he could see how much I have grown and changed from last year. He told me to be patient, and that I shouldn’t rush myself to see the results. But he promised me that soon enough I will, and that he will be there with me through the process. I know I’ve said this before, but I will say it again: having a solid support system is crucial for people with mental health conditions. I am lucky to have mine around.

EXTRA: DO YOUR RESEARCH

Considering that my official diagnosis of GAD and MDD was just almost a year ago, I still do not know everything about how to live with my condition. I always find reading to be a therapeutic and relaxing activity, so I tried to peruse books and websites that talk about mental health conditions and how to overcome them. I feel that knowledge will be the best weapon that I could use as I battle with myself and my inner demons. Here are some that are accessible online:


Writing this entry took me longer than necessary. I have been writing this since 8pm last night, but somehow, despite the overwhelming emotions that I was feeling and my desire to tell my story, the words were not flowing easily. I still ended up ruminating (and stewing), and I was up all night writing on and off. I tried to sleep several times and postpone posting this entry but sleep is my ever elusive lover. It wasn’t until noon today that I have managed to sleep, when a big chunk of this entry was already written. Three hours later, I got up to write some more. Once I hit “publish”, I will close this laptop and leave my bedroom for the first time today. It is now almost 5pm, EST. J will take me out and give me hugs as promised, and I will try to get over yesterday’s episode like I have done other previous episodes. These are the life cards that I have been dealt with, and I’ll be damned if I end up losing this game. As they say, fall down seven times, rise up eight. I’m a sore loser so I guess I’ll just keep on getting up.

I continue to move forward,

Cooking Without a Recipe: Tomato Basil Pesto Chicken

So I am back with another randomly made up dish, this time using chicken and other ingredients from the fridge and pantry. I don’t think I have seen or tasted a dish like this before. I just tried to experiment and see if I could make something from scratch. Here are the ingredients:

  • Chicken
  • Coarse salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Cream (I used all purpose cream, but you can also use heavy cream if that’s what’s available)
  • Milk (we have 2% milk in the fridge)
  • Tomato paste
  • Basil pesto
  • Cornstarch

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 425F
  • Rinse chicken thoroughly
  • Rub chicken with coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Line baking tray with aluminum foil (to catch excess fat and make it easier to clean afterwards)
  • Bake in the oven until cooked and golden brown
Let chicken rest while sauce is being cooked
  • In a small saucepan, mix equal parts cream and milk, then bring to a simmer
  • Mix consistently so bottom doesn’t burn
  • Add basil pesto and tomato paste (proportions would depend on your preference)
  • In a separate small bowl, mix equal parts water and cornstarch to make a slurry
  • Slowly incorporate slurry in the sauce mixture, continuously mixing until sauce thickens
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Drizzle on top of baked chicken
  • Garnish with dried herbs
  • Extra sauce can be used as gravy
Waiting for the tomato basil sauce to thicken

This dish is best served with pasta tossed in grated parmesan cheese and truffle oil (or rice if you’re Asian). The tomato paste is a good tangy balance to the basil pesto, and the cream adds the luxurious texture. Also, baking the chicken is better than frying it, as you lose the extra fat in the process. It’s still moist, but not as fatty.

As always, let me know if you end up trying it. It was a big hit at home, so I hope you enjoy it too. Happy eating!

Cooking Without a Recipe: The Tuna-Spinach Fried Rice Edition

Let’s be honest, we have all gone through days when we feel too lazy to cook but have no desire of eating leftovers freshly nuked from the microwave. We’re also hungry that we need to eat something immediately. So we look in the fridge and realize that we don’t have anything instant to cook either, except for that pack of instant ramen that we want to save as a last resort. What to do now?

Well, when I found myself in such a predicament, I decided to whip up a meal made from whatever I could scavenge from our refrigerator and pantry. Here’s what I had:

I normally just eyeball everything, so I never measure unless I’m baking
  1. Leftover rice
  2. Can of tuna
  3. Egg
  4. Minced garlic
  5. Butter
  6. Lemon pepper seasoning
  7. Peri-Peri seasoning
  8. Baby spinach
  9. Ground pepper

If you ever find yourself in the same kind of bind and you have relatively similar ingredients in your home, I recommend that you try this out instead of reaching for that pack of instant ramen/Kraft Dinner/pancit canton. This is just as quick, but healthier. No salt or MSG either, so your kidneys will thank you.


STEPS

  1. Melt butter on medium heat
  2. Sauté minced garlic until slightly brown (I like my fried rice garlicky so I was quite generous on the amount that I used)
  3. Toss in tuna (make sure water has been drained prior to cooking it)
  4. Toss in leftover rice
  5. Beat egg in a separate bowl and slowly mix it in the pan with the rest of the ingredients
  6. Mix pan well until egg gets slightly cooked
  7. Toss in baby spinach (washed)
  8. Season with lemon pepper powder and fresh ground pepper
  9. Add peri-peri seasoning if you like your food spicy
  10. Add ground parsley or oregano to taste

Including prep time, this bowl only took me 10 minutes to cook. I was even able to make myself a pot of tea and a glass of calamansi juice. So this may even be quicker to make than a pack of noodles. I may have already mentioned this before, but I’m the type of cook who usually does not follow a specific recipe. For the most part, if I really like a certain dish, I would try to recreate it by just remembering the taste and figuring out the process on my own. If I fail the first time, that’s when I would research the recipe out. I also like experimenting with food, so unless I’m baking, I never measure my ingredients. I just eyeball them and make the necessary flavour adjustments afterwards. They seem to have been working very well so far. No one has complained about my cooking yet.

Let me know if you end up trying this out, or if there’s a particular dish that you want me to try cooking. I will eventually be posting other recipes that I have on this blog as well so watch out for that.

Until then, happy eating!

Pain Prevention for Desk Workers: The Importance of Proactive Self-Care

A few days ago, my mom took me out for a massage date as a late birthday present. It has been a couple of months since my last appointment and I have been feeling very sore lately. I used to get a massage at least once a week for injury prevention and treatment for my left shoulder pain (a lingering problem from my car accident in 2018). During my session, I was advised that my neck was shrinking and that my rhomboids are too stiff. We have deduced that it could be because of stress and of sitting in front of the computer for extended periods of time. Or it could be something else. I have only been in the office environment for 10 years, after all. Isn’t it a bit too early for my body to start showing signs of strain? Other people have been doing it longer and they seem to be fine. Needless to say, I was very concerned.

Despite the alarming news, I still think it’s a blessing in disguise that it got caught early on, otherwise I would be in a world of pain when I get older (as if I need more pain at night with my insomnia, sore shoulder, migraine, and ankle pain). The good news is that it’s not irreversible. But it made me realize how important it is to be proactive rather than reactive when it comes to self-care. So I did my research, and here are some tips that can help prevent muscle strains and alleviate stress. I know I’m not the only one experiencing this pain so I’m sharing it here.


Finding time to stretch or do some simple yoga poses at work will help release muscle tension and tightness

YOGA

Yoga has a lot of benefits: it helps you with your focus and concentration, keeps you in touch with your mind and body, flushes negative energy, and helps reduce stress and tension. Being busy at work, we may not have the luxury of time to attend a 60 or 90 minute practice session every day. But allocating even a few minutes in between our busy schedules would be better than doing nothing at all. To those with no previous yoga experience, here’s a good video to watch during a quick break:

DESK STRETCHES

If you feel too self-conscious to do yoga at work, or if you have less than 15 minutes, you can also try a few desk stretches. This can easily be done while reading emails, printing some documents, or even while making your way to the water cooler. A few reps at a time can help ease tension on your neck and shoulders. And while you’re standing, don’t forget to do some leg stretches as well. Tension also gets stored in the legs and we tend to forget stretching them out. Here are a few stretches that you can start doing in the office:

Incorporating these stretches daily goes a long way

MASSAGE

I am a big fan of massages. Even prior to my car accident, I always enjoyed a good deep tissue relaxation massage. Especially since I started working out, getting a massage at least once a month was my way of being kind to my muscles. After the accident, I needed the massages more often as my shoulder would just get so tense that it would keep me up at night and prevent me from getting a decent night’s sleep. Apart from easing muscle tension, massages also help with anxiety, headaches, etc. If you have massage benefits from work, it’s not a bad idea to incorporate this activity as a part of your self-care regimen. For those who have no work benefits, consider going to a massage therapy school and trying out their student clinics. The cost is cheaper compared to seeing an RMT, and you are helping students get more practice. They have supervisors who will ensure that you are receiving proper care, so this is a good alternative if you are on a budget.

Here are some schools that offer student clinics in Toronto: https://downtownwellness.ca/The-10-Best-Cheap-Massage-Clinics-in-Toronto.

You can read up more about the benefits of massage and stress management on this page: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/massage/art-20045743.


They say that defence is the best offence. I believe that it also applies to our bodies as well. If we take good care of it now, we will suffer less in the future (especially once we get older). With proper nutrition, enough exercise, and solid self-care habits, we are helping our future selves live comfortably. At the same time, there’s a correlation between our bodies to our mental health. Being physically healthy lends us energy to becoming mentally healthy as well. We can’t isolate one from the other. Self-love must be holistic. Hitting that perfect balance will help us enjoy our current selves.

Now excuse me while I stretch.

My Top Ten Favourite Romantic Movies

In the spirit of Love Month, I saw this blog prompt at The Sway and decided to try it out. So here’s my list of favourite romantic movies. I had a hard time ranking them, so these movies are not listed in any particular order. However, I did have three factors that I considered when I was writing them down:

  1. Amount of ears shed in the movie
  2. Amount of feels felt in the movie
  3. Amount of times I have rewatched the movie

I hope this list gets to inspire you to watch the movies if you haven’t yet. I will be providing links to the synopses as well, as this is definitely not an unbiased post. So without further ado, here we go:

  1. Ima, ai ni Yukimasu (Be With You) – I can’t say much about this movie without giving away important details. There’s a lot of beautiful components in this film, so I will try my best to not spoil it for anyone. It shows young husband coping with the death of his wife and raising their son on his own and a young boy trying to grow up fast enough for the sake of his father. This movie came highly recommended by a couple of Japanese friends, so it had to be good. I watched it with them over okonomiyaki and niku jyaga and it did not disappoint. It was so good that it got adapted into a TV series a few years later. Of course I watched that too, but the film holds a very special place in my heart. Did I cry in this movie? YES. Did I get a lot of feels? Yes, during the dating phase of Takumi and Mio. How many times did I watch this movie? About four times.
  2. Me Before You – Quirky Lou Clark takes care of handsome businessman Will Traynor, who has been recently paralyzed after a motorcycle accident. I loved the chemistry between the snarky Will and the perky Lou. I must admit, I was initially hesitant to watch this movie because the trailer looked cheesy and I have never read the book. I finally got persuaded by my sister, and I am glad I caved to her. Did I cry in this movie? Absolutely. Did I get a lot of feels? Yes. Although I think it was more because I swooning over Will. How many times did I watch this movie? Twice.
  3. 50 First Dates – You’re missing out in life if you haven’t seen this movie. The partnership between Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore just works. This is definitely my favourite movie with the both of them (sorry Wedding Singer fans). Did I cry in this movie? Yes, a bunch of times. Did I get a lot of feels? Yes. Everything Henry did for Lucy gave me feels. How many times did I watch this movie? Too many to count. I even own a copy of this movie on DVD.
  4. 27 Dresses – Always the bridesmaid, never the bride. I initially watched it for James Marsden, but I got hooked on how fluffy it made me feel too. Jane’s character was very relatable, especially with her Filofax. Did I cry in this movie? Not really. Did I get a lot of feels? Yes, it got me awww-ing a handful of times. How many times did I watch this movie? Once in the theatre, twice on DVD, and every time it airs on cable.
  5. Titanic – Another classic. I went through a Leonardo DiCaprio phase back in grade school because of this movie. I refused to watch Avatar because I did not want any James Cameron movie to overshadow Titanic. Jack was my dream boyfriend (and the King of My World). Did I cry in this movie? Many many many times. Did I get a lot of feels? More tears than feels, but yes, I felt feels. How many times did I watch this movie? Seven times in the theatres and every time it airs on cable.
  6. A Walk to Remember – I am glad I watched the movie first before I read the book, because I now prefer the novel over the movie adaptation. I remember watching this movie with my high school best friends. The plot was pretty predictable, but we were swooning over Shane West’s chest/shoulder/nose so it compensated for it. The soundtrack was amazing, and I bought the album after seeing the movie. Did I cry in this movie? Even after saying that it was predictable, yes, I still cried. Did I get a lot of feels? Absolutely. Especially when Landon was trying to fulfill the items on Jamie’s bucket list. How many times did I watch this movie? Twice in the theatres, and every time it airs on cable.
  7. The Fault in our Stars – This movie came out when I was piecing together a broken heart. I watched it with my sister and a girlfriend, and now I don’t remember if I was crying more because of the movie or because I was heartbroken. I did read the book some time later though, and I also cried when I read that. So it’s safe to say that it’s a good story altogether. Did I cry in this movie? Buckets. I cried buckets. Did I get a lot of feels? Yes. Innocent and pure love always gives me feels. How many times did I watch this movie? Once. I don’t think I can do that to myself again. I was bawling in the theatre.
  8. Kanojo wa Uso o Aishisugiteru (The Liar and His Lover) – Sato Takeru plays a moody musical genius who meets a girl several years younger with an amazing voice. He lies about his identity and… I won’t get into much detail. Like other Japanese movies, this story is pretty innocent, but still tugs at your heartstrings. Did I cry in this movie? Not really, but my heart was hurting for Takeru. Did I get a lot of feels? Yes. I squealed a lot too. How many times did I watch this movie? More than five times.
  9. Moulin Rouge – Come what may, I will love you until my dying day. This movie has all the ingredients of a good romance movie: star-crossed lovers, amazing cast, beautiful costumes, and an even better soundtrack. I cannot get over this movie. Did I cry in this movie? Hell yes. Did it give me feels? My heart would be made of stone if it didn’t. How many times did I watch this movie? Once in the theatre, and every time it airs on cable.
  10. Nae Meorisogui Jiugae (A Moment to Remember) – A young couple finds out that the girl has a rare case of Alzheimer’s. This is another movie that got me bawling. I tried rewatching the trailer as I was writing this entry and it hurt my heart all over again. It’s very well done though. Did I cry in this movie? A lot. Did it give me feels? Yes, it’s balanced enough that the movie makers gave you feels before the break your heart. How many times did I watch this movie? Just once, I don’t think I could put myself through it all over again.

So there you have it, that’s my list of my favourite romantic movies. As I was writing this entry I started thinking of the other movies that are deserving to be on this list too. But then it will be more than ten and against the prompt (LOL).

Although I think I have to add 13 Going on 30 as a special mention. It’s one of those movies that I will always watch whenever it’s on cable because it’s so light and fluffy and overall cute. I also get a little teary-eyed whenever I get to the part where Jennifer Garner confessed her feelings to Mark Ruffalo. I guess I have 11 favourite romance movies then?

Bawal Judgmental: Mga Saloobin ng Isang Milenyal na Tita

Tatagalugunin ko na ito, tutal mukhang sa mga Pilipino lang naman uso ito. Napansin ko lang, bakit parang mas madali para sa atin ang manlait kaysa sa pumuri? Parang napakadali para sa atin ang maging kritikal sa kapwa at makita ang kanilang mga pagkukulang. Kaliwa’t kanan ang mga tanong at komento na para bang kutsilyong nananaksak sa puso, na hindi naman inaalam ang tunay na kadahilanan:

“Tumaba ka yata?” o “Bakit ang payat mo, hindi ka ba pinapakain?”

“Hindi ka naman kagandahan.” o “Hindi ka naman katalinuhan.”

“Masyado kang maitim.” o “Masyado kang maputi.”

“Bakit wala ka pang jowa/asawa?” Tapos pag sinagot mo yung tanong, babanatan ka ng, “Siguro hindi ka mabenta.”

Kapag mabenta ka naman, “Ang dami mong lalake/babae. Malandi ka.”

“Kailan ka mag-aasawa/magkaka-anak?”

Nakaka-kamot lang ng ulo na ang mga tanong at komentong ito ay nanggagaling pa sa mga taong inaasahan mong nagmamahal sayo. Sila dapat yung mga taong nagpapakita ng malasakit sayo at sa iyong kapakanan, hindi yung umaapak at dumudurog sa iyong kumpiyansa sa sarili.

Dati iniisip kong normal lang ang ganitong pagtrato dahil ito na ang kapaligiran at kulturang kinalakhan ko. Bihira akong makarinig ng papuri. Parang palaging may pagkukulang. At kapag nakakarinig ako ng kwento ng ibang mga tao, aking napagtatanto na sila rin ay lumaki sa konsepto ng tough love. Ang paniniwala kasi, sa ganitong pamamaraan tayo magiging malakas. Tinuturuan tayong magkaroon ng matigas na dibdib (at makapal na mukha). At kung nasasaktan man ang iyong damdamin, ikaw ang may problema. Ikaw ang nasa mali, kasi tinutulungan ka lang nilang maging perpekto. Kaya para wala na silang maisusumbat pa, matututo kang manahimik at magkimkim na lamang.

Aaminin ko, may mga kapakinabangan din naman ang tough love. Dahil napalilubutan tayo ng mga kritikal na tao, natututo tayong maging mapagkumbaba. Ito ay dahil hindi uubra ang sariling ere sa taong mas nagmamagaling sayo. Unti-unti rin tayong nasasanay sa pagtanggap ng kritisismo. Natututo tayong tigasan ang ating mga dibdib para hindi tayo palaging nasasaktan.

Ngunit mas marami akong nakikitang problema sa ganitong klaseng pakikitungo. Una, hindi pare-pareho ang pagtanggap ng mga tao sa ganitong klaseng pagtrato. May mga taong mas sensitibo kung ikukumpara sa iba, at maaaring mas malaki ang negatibong epekto sa kanila ng ganitong istilo ng pagpapalaki at pakikisalamuha. Pangalawa, alam naman nating walang taong perpekto. At kahit anong gawin natin, walang tao sa mundong ito ang tunay na perpekto. Sayang ang oras kung puro pagsisita sa mga pagkukulang at pagkukumpara sa ibang tao ang inaatupag natin. Wala rin naman itong patutunguhan.

Siguro mahirap nang pakiusapang magbago ang mga mas nakatatanda sa atin. Kaya siguro para sa mga ka-edad o mas bata nalang ako makikiusap. Sana huwag nating ipagpatuloy ang ganitong klaseng ugali. Imbes na idaan sa lait, maari namang kausapin ng masinsinan ang kapwa. Maging sensitibo tayo sa damdamin ng ibang tao. At bago tayo pumuna ng iba, isipin natin kung ano ang mga pinag-daraanan nila.

Ang inyong reklamadorang tita,

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