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The book I will read every year

The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari inspirational book

It’s a brand new year once again and this season is always filled with enthusiasm, mood for a fresh start, ‘material detox’, renewal and resolutions. Every time I think of coming up with New Year resolutions however, I noticed that I keep repeating the same things over again, which is a sad indication that I was not able to stick with them. So I decided to break up with this tradition and just vowed to always keep a list. Mobile apps don’t work well with me when it comes to organizing my life so I always carry a small notebook where I can jot down pretty much everything as I can be very forgetful, though at work I can be a walking directory.

There is one thing though that I never failed to do every year despite my New Year resolutions failure and that is to read Robin Sharma’s The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari book. I got this book as a gift in Kathmandu in 2014 though strangely I never heard of it before then, even if I read a lot on meditation and was surrounded with meditators. Honestly though, I wasn’t very eager to read the book when I got it because I thought it is another story of a person who gave up everything to become a monk and promotes a life void of any form of attachments. But when I did read it, I finished it in a day! It’s not the typical story that I expected nor about how to empty your mind. Instead, it offers insights on how to live a simple but passionate life, what truly matters, and teaches us the value of time.

I resolved to read this book every year to constantly remind myself of the lessons it offers. I find it a good grounding especially when I feel I’m slipping out of direction because it also offers practical guides on how to live a life of purpose. I won’t talk so much about its contents so as not to influence your impressions of it. However, I’m happy to share some of my favorite quotes from the book.

“Never overlook the power of simplicity.”

“You truly cannot afford the luxury of a negative thought – not even one.”

“…the best thing you can do for yourself is move beyond it.”

“…never get into the petty habit of measuring your self-worth against other people’s net worth.”

“You will never be able to hit a target that you cannot see.”

“The only limits on your life are those that you set yourself.”

“Fear is nothing more than a mental monster you have created, a negative stream of consciousness.”

“Never forget the power of music. Spend a little time with it every day… When you feel down, play some music. It is one of the finest motivators I know of.”

“…truly enlightened people never seek to be like others.”

“Live for today – there will never be another one quite like it.”

“Slow things down. Enjoy the beauty and sacredness of all that is around you. You owe this to yourself.”

“There is a huge difference between making a lot of money and making a lot of life.”

“Starting today, learn more, laugh more and do what you truly love to do.”

Click here to see the list of the books I’ve read.

Cheap and artsy place to stay in Panglao, Bohol

Being a Boholana, I’ve traveled to Panglao island in Bohol several times mostly on day-trips to the beach, though on several occasions I stayed overnight and paid over a thousand pesos for accommodation. After living abroad for over 7 years, I found that the island has significantly changed. There are more hotels, restaurants and shops now. I always had this perception that accommodations there are all expensive because it is one of the most famous beach destinations in the country with its very fine white sand. Little did I know that there already exist cheaper options for backpackers.

A friend who traveled with me to Panglao suggested D’ Backpackers’ Barn; what I shame though coz I’m the one who’s from Bohol yet I don’t know much information. I was hesitant at first because it is so cheap – at 400 pesos (approx. 8 USD) per person for a dorm-type room for 4 people. I imagined a poorly maintained place with dirty toilets. I thought I’d stay somewhere else but got lazy to do the research myself and decided to stay there.

I fell in love with D’ Backpackers’ Barn right away. It’s definitely my kind of place, totally opposite to what I had imagined. It’s a place that has a ‘character’. I loved how artistic it is, with life quotes spread all over which got me all pumped up. I even asked the receptionist where they got their decorations and who did their lettering so I can get some for our house. I particularly loved the mini-living room. We spent the night talking there with my friends. It felt so comfy; the rustic feel of the decors added good vibes because I love anything vintage-like. Most of all, I loved having breakfast there and sipping my coffee while looking at the plants at their backyard. Oh, and their toilet is clean too!

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Totally forgot to take a photo of the room itself but you can check their Facebook page here.


What a weekend with a meditation guru looks like

Sometime back I wrote on how it’s like to be in a room with meditators and how I learned to let some battles go from a meditation teacher who used to be a monk. That meditation guru is Australian and I was lucky to catch him at home after years of traveling to teach meditation while I was doing my graduate studies in Sydney. He and his sister were very kind to welcome us in their home in Gosford and his friend who is also a meditator was very kind to drive us around.

It took me and my friend about an hour and 30 minutes by train from Sydney Central station to Gosford. I enjoyed the relaxing view on the way from the thick greenery to the distant mountain tops, wide flowing river and the vibrant blue sea; such sweet respite from the concrete jungle of Sydney. Though I haven’t had enough sleep the night before I was wide awake on the train to savor the natural scenery. Oh how I love long train rides.

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From the station we headed straight to Somersby Falls. I forgot I will be spending the weekend with a meditator and nature lover so instead of wearing pants and running shoes I wore a dress and boots which made it so hard to walk on slippery tracks that was about 250 meters long. The waterfalls wasn’t as huge as I expected but it was pretty. After we set our picnic we meditated for a few minutes. How lovely it was to meditate in a rainforest while listening to the sound of the waterfalls, the chirping birds and rustling of the leaves. It was made even sweeter by a cup of coffee afterwards. It was one of those moments when I wanted to scream, “I love my life!!!”

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After the picnic we drove around to see more of Gosford, headed to the farmers market to grab food then proceeded to a nearby park to eat our lunch. I haven’t taken much photo because being with meditators reminded me to disconnect from technology and be in the moment. I felt ashamed to be using my phone a lot, though I took some snaps while we rested for lunch and played with Australian pelicans (Pelecanus conspicillatus). Lying on the grass felt so nice. We talked a lot but there were also times when we just stayed silent to meditate and be more aware of our environment.

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Our last stop before heading home was Wyrrabalong National Park which offered a stunning view of the ocean below. At the Crackneck lookout we could see Shelly beach, which we visited the following morning. The Crackneck lookout has a picnic area and is a great spot for whale watching, too bad we didn’t bring binoculars! We walked deeper unto the park and climbed on a tree. Before leaving we did standing meditation guided by our guru surrounded with the lush vegetation.

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In the evening we cooked a healthy vegetarian meal, pasta with veggies. After we had eaten and washed the dishes, we stayed outside of the house to gaze at the sky. The light pollution wasn’t so bad in their village so we could see more stars. Our guru realizing we loved stargazing decided to take us to the nearest golf course. It was so dark on the way, I could barely see what I was stepping on but he walked that area with mindfulness several times so he knew where to go even if we couldn’t see much.

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When we reached the edge we laid on the ground and looked at the stars silently. We could hear the sound of the waves splashing on the shore below us. It was freezing cold but I didn’t mind. The moment was a wonderful reminder that whatever we are going through, life is beautiful and sweet if we just know how to slow down to appreciate it.

The next day we woke up before sunrise and walked to Shelly beach passing through the golf course we went the night before. We stood at where we laid before for a few minutes of meditation or to simply take it all in and take mental pictures of the natural beauty around us. We then descended to Shelly beach as the sun began to rise. Our guru shared memories he had of the place while growing up. He also brought to our awareness the sound of Kookaburra birds. The beach had fine sands but there were rocky areas too. I stood on one of the rocks to do standing meditation while the waves passed by me. We walked barefoot until we reached the foot of Wyrrabalong National Park. We threw stones to the sea and competed which one could throw the farthest. I laid down on the rocky shore and meditated for a long while until we left.

The spot we laid down the night before to stargaze

The spot we laid down the night before to stargaze

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When we walked back, the sun has gotten hot and the beach was crowded with people. It was a pleasant weekend and I loved seeing families, especially those with kids, enjoying it. When we arrived home, I baked a muffin for the first time. It wasn’t rocket science of course but being someone who is scared of burning the kitchen, I was happy with that little achievement. We traveled back to Sydney in the afternoon and luckily since it was Sunday, we only paid $2.5 for the train ride. We brought back with us lots of happy memories and a book that our guru wrote himself.

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It was a weekend of fun and many activities but above all it was a weekend of friendship, of being still and living in the present moment.