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Smile with your eyes

Photo by miaymarch.com

Photo by miaymarch.com

I’ve always considered New Year as a symbol of hope and renewal. I welcomed 2015 with positive anticipation. And for the first time in six years, I get to spend it with my family. Unfortunately, as much as I wanted it to be my “kick-ass awesome year” ever, some things are just out of my hands. My yet to be resolved past mingled with dramatic changes in both my present and future professional and personal life.

If there is one word that can epitomise my life in the first quarter of 2015, it will be ESTUARY.

Amidst all these lies my resolve to empower myself.

Being a photography enthusiast — as you may have noticed from most of my Facebook and Instagram posts– I wanted this transitional stage in my life captured. This became more timely with my birthday turning me to the last year of my twenties.

As fate would have it, I bumped into the blog of Mia and saw her “Love you now, love you more after” photoshoot concept. Reading about this session felt like reading my thoughts on screen. She nailed what I had in mind.

“Smile with your eyes,” Mia asked me several times. It was my first professional photoshoot so I would have felt like a star in front of her lens. But no, all I had were unwelcomed thoughts flooding on me. I felt I was not okay yet. I didn’t want to pretend to be smiling sweetly but felt like in an emotional tornado inside – yep, going to Sydney in less than 3 months from now creeps me out like anything too. Change is always scary, huh! – The worst deception is that of our own self, indeed.

I was once asked what it is to be an empowered woman. My response was simple: an empowered woman is one who is able to make informed decisions for herself and is able to maximise her full potential.

And then it hit me.

Mary Antonette Abello

An empowered woman is one who is able to celebrate her strength and vulnerability; embrace her brokenness and nurture her inner power; forgive her past and high five the future as she can’t be truly bothered by it yet because being in the present moment is paramount. Amidst any storm she will carry on. She will choose selfless love over possession and integrity over personal gains. She will not be crippled by discrimination, abandonment nor injustice. She will rise, speak and act. She will respect herself.

She will smile with her eyes.

Cheers to womanhood! And this may just be a kick-ass awesome year after all!

P.S. If you are in Bangkok and up for a photoshoot for yourself or your family, then Mia (photographer) and Erika (make-up artist) is the team for you. What makes them different from those in the studio is the personal touch. They make sure you are comfortable and they allow you to take your time. And they are sooo fun to be with too!


One step forward, two steps backward

Pokhara Nepal

Me in Pokhara, Nepal (January 2013)

I don’t understand people who complain about something without doing anything about it – not that I am an exemption, of course.

There was this person who kept ranting about how miserable his life is and that his life would have been this or that had the situation been this or that. Clearly, he has an idea of what “better life” looks like yet remains reluctant to take significant steps because his thoughts were fixated on the barriers rather than on creating opportunities.

Unfortunately, most of us don’t know the value of TIME. A Japanese colleague once said, “the only thing that is fair in this world is TIME; we all get the same amount.” This statement struck me because I myself struggle with making the most of my time. You know, like right now at 1:30AM, I am still wide awake instead of hitting the sack.

These days, the world seems to have fallen short of optimistic people. There is always something to complain about. And most often, nothing changes because we are scared to stretch our boundaries a little bit or step out of our comfort zones. The moment we set foot out of that comfort line, fear of uncertainties would penetrate every corner of our heart forcing us to sprint back. The sad thing is that, we don’t realize how often we do this and how much time we have wasted.

As the cliché says, we take one step forward and two steps backward. And we still wonder why we aren’t going anywhere.


A motivation that came with a cake

Green tea cake life quoteOne of my favorite moments is having a cup of coffee or tea with a good book or over a good conversation.

This afternoon the sun was blazing like fire so I had a cold banana milk instead in a cute vintage-style café with my Irish friend. We talked about random things as well as how uncertainty could cripple some of our dreams.

A lot of people got stuck in their comfort zones because going to another country or getting a different job creates a jumbled image of the future. While she savored the adventure and lessons that came with living for a year in Thailand, her friend remained in Ireland doing the same partime job which will lead her to who knows where.

Staying in the same place or doing the same thing doesn’t give us certainty of the future. If one is happy with where s/he is and what s/he does, surely it is more than right to stay but being unhappy is a different case; something needs to change.

Stories about people losing their job or business in one blink isn’t something new. And while those people felt their future was secured, circumstances led them to a quandary. If we haven’t figured it out yet, at some point we should open our minds to the universal fact that nothing is certain in the future.

Life is fleeting to spend it doing the things that aren’t making us happy or not enabling us reach our full potential just because we are scared of change. As I looked back on my past decisions, I was happy to share with her that back then I just did what I wanted to do – came to Thailand without knowing what is in store for me – and that leap of faith brought me experiences I could have only dreamt of had I chosen to stay. This saying that came with our green tea cake motivated me once again to take risks and face life’s uncertainties head on.