Thursday, December 9, 2010

Laid-Back Negombo Trip!

Hubby and I have set a once-a-month out-of-town trip as one of our objectives in enjoying Sri Lanka and its neighboring countries.  For this month, the goal was the nearby seaside town of Negombo.  It is situated near the airport (around 30 minutes away) and north of Colombo (around 2 hours away).  We were planning to take our friends who were coming over there but their trip didn’t push through.  We said, what the heck, it’s also a simple celebration of our 2nd anniversary as a couple.

Negombo is often called “Little Rome” for 2 things according to my trusty Lonely Planet:

1)    This is a very catholic town – 75% of those who live here are Catholics in an otherwise Buddhist Sri Lanka.  And where there are Catholics, there are churches!
2)    Many of those who live here have relatives working in Italy.

So off to Little Rome we went.

This is it, pancit!
First to check out the Dutch Fort – I am a Lonely Planet sucker and I take their advice to heart.  As with the Pettah Experience ( and maybe with anything Dutch it pertains to in Sri Lanka, I was mildly disappointed.  I was thinking of a grand fort like Fort Santiago in Intramuros but it was just a tunnel leading to the town prison (why not! Haha!). 

We also checked out Angurukaramulla Temple – another Lonely Planet suggestion.  Where we were toured by a very peaceful Buddhist man (as in I couldn’t help but tell hubby how I thought how peaceful he looks – and hubby agreed).  It was an interesting education about Buddhist philosophy. 

We took the pick of Lonely Planet and had lunch at Lord’s.  It’s a cool, artsy, fartsy place frequented by tourists.  The food was quite good and the service was awesome.

We then wanted to get a nice afternoon massage.  Passing through Ayurveda Pavilions and checking them out in Lonely Planet (looks good) we decided to try some Ayurveda Massage.  Hubby and I chose a whole body massage, got checked by an Ayurvedic doctor and he then prescribed the kinds of oils that will be used.  The oils smelled like Chinese Herbal Tea – the ones prescribed by traditional Chinese doctors.  It was applied on you steaming hot! But the massage was heavenly.

Before heading home, we stopped by Ice Bear Guest House for the best German coffee in town (truly!) and some dessert.

As we were leaving town, we would stop by the churches we saw along the way!

And that capped off our laid-back Negombo trip.

Hmm… now where to in January?

Happily Serviced From Far Away!

I love how many services of our government are getting more systematic and efficient.

Before I left Manila, I had my driver’s license renewed.  I had to change to my married name and I couldn’t go to the mall offices.  I instead went to the QC LTO Branch along P. Tuazon (not the main office) and was finished with my renewal in around 2 hours.  Such a far cry from the old days where you need a friggin whole day just to get your license.  As if you have nothing better to do!

Now, I need to renew my passport.  I just needed to complete an online process to set up an appointment and go there on the designated time (  It seems really efficient – at least they have identified how many they can process in a day and will have to stick to it.  They even have all the requirements listed in the site and indicators of timeline.  Let’s cross our fingers that everything goes well with that when I go home next week!

Part of my requirements is getting my Marriage Certificate from NSO.  Another government office offering awesome service.  I’ve been happy with their e-census application where you an request for your documents online (, pay for it in their accredited banks and the docs will be delivered straight to wherever you want it to be.  Again with clear timelines and all.  Well, our marriage certificate happens to not be converted at the time of request – the ramification was it would take longer to process because it would entail some manual processing.  Lo and behold, I got a message telling me about the situation.  With again, clear timelines – albeit a new and extended one.  But I didn’t care – I would still have it in time for my passport renewal and I am not left wondering what the heck happened to it.  Plus they even sent me a notice when it has been dispatched already!  And that was within the new timelines!

So kudos to these government offices!  You are truly giving us the bang for the taxes we pay and making us proud to be a Filipino!  Not to mention satisfy efficiency freaks like me.  Now I just hope more government offices will follow in their footsteps!   

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

No Doctor Quack-Quacks!

Last week because of my hyperacidity I had to make a trip to the hospital.  At first I was trying to self-medicate but after a few days and without recovery in sight, I decided to get over myself and just go.  Needless to say I was afraid to make the trip, I just wasn’t really sure of the healthcare status here.   

We went to Lanka Hospitals, it’s just around the corner from where we live.  I wanted to be accompanied by hubby so I had my consultation in the E.R.  It was close to deserted, thank God no gory cases were in sight.  The surroundings was clean and orderly.  It reminds me of Medical City in the Philippines only a notch lower.  Apparently in the E.R. there were just 2 doctors.  One was already in and the other was on the way – seriously?  There were more people in the cashier than doctors!

We were entertained quick enough and the doctor who checked me was quite competent.  She looked tired (good Lord, who won’t be in that scenario?), asked me questions and wrote out a prescription.  Just like your normal doctor’s appointment!  Phew!  I felt good about the experience and fast forward to today, I think my acids are managed already.  And my tummy ready to take the food trip back home for the holidays!

We then went to the in-house pharmacy for the meds.  They had a pretty sound process.  And what I appreciated was the fact that they put each kind of medicine in an envelope and write the indication.  I just think it’s going beyond what is expected and yeah, it would really help to make the indications crystal clear amidst the plethora of medicines right?  

So on the whole, I was happy that for my first visit to the hospital I didn’t encounter any quack-quacks! 

Friday, December 3, 2010

Celebrating 2 Years Together in La Vida Lanka!

Today hubby and I celebrate 2 years as a couple.  We first got together early morning of December 3, 2008 in front of my parents’ house.  It was when he asked me if we could “make it official” as he brought me home after one of our dates.  It never fails to bring a smile to my face when I remember the moment.  If he asked me a day later, I would have killed myself out of anticipation.  Talk about patience.  Haha! 

A year later, we celebrated with a trip to breathtaking Batanes, Philippines.  It was one of our dream destinations and we couldn’t have set foot on the island with a better companion than each other.  We “got stuck in paradise” once more – the first one was when we couldn’t leave Bellarocca in Marinduque, Philippines because of strong winds.  This time was because of a botched Seair flight (I will not take them anymore if I can help it).  But at the end of the day, thank God we were able to spend an extra day in paradise, get the chance to buy art and just lounge around in such a beautiful place that is Fundacion Pacita (   

Today we’re celebrating livin’ la vida Lanka – happily married.  How time flies!  As I was preparing breakfast, a bag of Barefoot goodies greeted me! A surprise gift from hubby!  Hubby gets, well a surprise himself later when he comes home from work ;-) 

In as much as our wedding anniversary trumps our anniversary as boyfriend/girlfriend, I don’t think the latter doesn’t deserve even just a little remembrance or celebration.  It will always be a special day because it paved the way to where we are today.  It is always good remembering that.  And in just 2 short but sweet years, we are in the middle of starting out a new and continuing the love story in la vida Lanka!  

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Sweet Home Sri Lanka!

I’ve been staying at home more for quite some time now.  Like for a full day.  For the past month I’ve been going out everyday for various reasons.  But for now, I really do not need to do anything outside, so home it is!

I thought I’d have a hard time being a homebody.  I guess to me it heightens the fact that it is a different life now.  And going out somehow provided an escape to that feeling. But staying home surprisingly is quite pleasurable.  I organize my day like how I usually do – with Gantt Charts on Excel and a list of to do’s in my planner.  Now instead of meetings, presentations and whatnots, these are chores, writing and classes. 

Aside from Sinhala Class and in pursuit of continuous learning I’ve also enrolled myself in a certification course (done online via teleclasses – like conference calls, oh just like the good old days!).  It is my light and feeds my brain and my soul (more on this later!).  I relish in preparing for these classes – reading the materials and learning something new everyday.  It is also awesome that for a couple of hours a day, I am in a class with people from England, Korea, India, the US, Switzerland, France and Spain among others.  Staying at home suddenly opened me up to a bigger world out there! 

I’m working on a project related to the one above – again more on this later!

I have tons of books to read! 

I enjoy the privilege of the freedom to write with a potentially worldwide audience without the pain of editorial rejection.  Thank God for the advent of Blogging!

I can actually catch up on my favorite TV series – I’m a CSI freak and a big fan of Oprah.  I also found myself following Amazing Race Asia and so sad the hot Filipina-Aussie girls didn’t make it to the top 3.  Not hiring the taxi driver to follow in non-English speaking Korea was a big mistake ladies! 

I love it that I am able to keep in touch with my families and friends – whether they are in the Philippines or otherwise.  Yesterday I was chatting with my cousin in NY and when I was working – the opportunity to catch each other online was slim!  

My (salty) sauce, trying to correct with water... so it needs reduction.
I always try to cook something new at least once a week – yesterday was Lasagna (albeit on the salty side – my bad!).  And as I was stirring my humble sauce into reduction, I realized I am happy to be home.  And making a home for my husband.  I honestly do not know how long this happiness would last but who the F cares?  I have proven to myself that I can actually be truly happy without the identity I have always prided myself in.  That I am happy with just being who I am.  Sweet home Sri Lanka!  

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Microwave Fail!

The microwave oven has been conking out for quite some time now.  The display will suddenly say defrost.  As in it clicks on its own.  Thank God it doesn’t start on its own as well.  I even thought it was a ghost.  Really.  But since the microwave is not exactly brand new (it came with the “furnished” apartment including the old TV, so-so sala set and ghastly dining table – sorry may poot pa rin hanggang ngayon! Haha!) I thought it might just be entering into its last days.

And today, I think it really did.  With awesome timing I must say.  I was going to heat my lunch and I was terribly hungry – hyperacidity attack anyone?  And suddenly I couldn’t undo the defrost settings – which would normally be done by pressing “Clear.”  I unplugged the damned thing and plugged it again.  And guess what surprised me on the display: FAIL.  It really said FAIL! I swear I’ve never seen a microwave do that.

I tried not to think it was a personal attack on me.  I mean funny things can creep into your mind especially when you’re hungry.  Especially me – I go berserk when I’m hungry, really!  But really it was a fail! Haha!  I was super hungry and the microwave conks out just like that.  Fail talaga!  It was just too funny I couldn’t help but disturb hubby from work.  Aside from tell him the funny story, I also want to get him to get the landlord to change the old microwave they put in our apartment.  Barely a quarter here and the microwave dies, well, fails on you.  Totally unacceptable.

For now there is the oven to heat my lunch with!  And the good old stove.  Until we sort this thing out, Microwave is Fail! 

Oven For Now

Monday, November 29, 2010

In Sickness and In Health...

Today, I felt sick.  I’ve thrown up thrice – twice during Sinhala class and once when I got home.  Not in class though – thank God I was able to make it to the toilet!  It is because of a severe case of hyperacidity.  And NOT infanticipating as my mom would put it and my younger brother seriously listing it as his Christmas wish to Santa.

Anyway I was really out of it.  I have quite a number of things to do today but I slept through the afternoon.  When I woke up I didn’t quite know what to do with myself.  When I stood up my stomach felt queasy.  When I sat down it was a bit more manageable.  When I stood up again, there seem to be a newly opened theme park in my belly.  I drank medicine and shivered at the taste of water.  I knew that this was not good.  Add to the fact that I went to the toilet twice in the morning.  Now that makes it wrong up and down!  I even didn’t dare to eat lunch – just some softened (by time, in short luma na) crackers.

But through it all, I managed to cook rice, defrost the fish, and when I felt a little better fried it, sliced some tomatoes and set up the dining table for dinner.  I realized this is what being a housewife (with no helper) is all about.  But more importantly this is what being married is all about.  You do what you have to do, in sickness and in health.  Of course that could mean many other things but tonight it was because I knew hubby had a long day at work and in as much as I’m not feeling well I knew that he would have a more tiring day than I, would have to deal with terrible rainy rush hour traffic and would come home hungry.  I called him earlier today and asked him to buy some stuff (Gatorade, banana, etc.) and come home early so he could cook.  But as soon as I felt like I could have a normal time preparing the food, smelling the fish and all, I jumped right down to business.  I want dinner to be ready once hubby comes home.  I mustered all my strength to prepare food for him (and myself – thankfully they are being properly digested as I write this).  At that moment I realized that I was so married.  And with that small act of love, I actually lived true to my vow.

In sickness and in health, I am your wife.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Interview with the Housewives # 5: The Real Housewife of Orange County

The first time I got to know this lady during the Rihanna / Chris Brown concert in Manila sometime in November 2008.  My hubby and I were still dating then (oh how time flies!).  She is married to my hubby’s kabarkada.   After that concert, we would always go out.  Eat, drink, sing and be merry – just like what any normal barkada would do.  She was fun to be with (full of energy!), I like her authenticity and amazed at how her whole demeanor would change when she was with her lovely daughter.  Too bad she and her hubby moved to the US.  Like Academic Wife, The Real Housewife of Orange County (TRHOC) joined her hubby in pursuit of his academic dreams.  Which lead her to this so-called-life of being a housewife almost a year and a half now.  Prior to leaving Manila, TRHOC was a trainer/training consultant (for 3 years) and pre-school teacher (for 3 years too).  Here is her (our) story: 

The real housewife of Orange County with daughter H
LLVL: Why / How did you become a housewife?

TRHOC: I became a housewife primarily because my hubby is getting his MBA here in the US and (darned) visa restrictions prevent me from getting a job in this country (not that I haven't been looking, it's just a bit uphill because of the restriction). Also, we can't really get a nanny here so I need to take care of H since she isn't in school full-time just yet.

Editor’s Note:  Note one, H is TRHOC’s (almost) 4 year old lovely daughter.  Note two, why are those visa restrictions so limiting?  I am beginning to think it is one big mess of discrimination for spouses (usually women!) who tag along with their other half who gets the working / student visa!

LLVL:  Do you have any other occupation aside from being a housewife?

TRHOC: My hubby's executive PA. Does that count? Haha. I'm about to become a blogger soon ;)

Editor’s Note:  Lucky hubbies!  They get gorgeous and intelligent PA’s!  Right TRHOC?  Also, thank God for blogging.  Really.  I think it has given me sanity in this housewifedom.  It is my creative outlet and my connection to the rest of the world outside our humble abode!  So kudos to you TRHOC!  Blog, blog, blog!

LLVL:  How was the transition like for you shifting from your prior occupation to being a housewife?

TRHOC:  It was exciting and difficult at the same time. Exciting because we moved to a different country, so there's a lot of discovery and adventure that goes with the new role but it was difficult at times because the transition was compounded by homesickness :'( Thank heavens for TFC! Hehe.
Editor’s Note:  How I wish there was TFC here! I miss The Buzz…

LLVL:  What made it easy? Difficult?

TRHOC:  A really supportive hubby and family have made it easy. Being in a new and different place definitely has its plus points because there's so much to do and explore here. Plus, I love how Orange County and I guess the lifestyle here in general really caters to housewives, especially housewives with young children. There are plenty of resources to get help from and places to visit and things to do. Mostly, the difficulty would creep in via homesickness, as I mentioned earlier. Sometimes, no matter how great it gets here, there really is no place like home (or your home country).

LLVL:  What do you like best in being a housewife?

TRHOC: Having the TV on while I work, and by work I mean chores and whatnot ;) Haha, kidding! I'm not sure really. Being on my own schedule I suppose. I can dictate when and how to do things. I suppose you could say I like being my own boss ;)

LLVL: What are the challenges?

TRHOC: Missing the office dynamics, working with different people (or at least, working with people my age on a daily basis), pretty office clothes and shoes! Haha. H can be a challenge sometimes when she's sick or cranky.

LLVL: What things you do that help you enjoy being a housewife?

TRHOC: I always make sure to schedule some kind of alone time. Even if it's just at the end of the day when H is asleep and hubby is working on school stuff. I usually read a book or work on my laptop. My favorite kinds of alone time are going out for a run or running errands alone. Alone time keeps me sane ;)

LLVL: Any other tips to enjoy being a housewife?

TRHOC: Enjoy your time as a housewife right now, especially since it's just you and hubby (for now). Having a kid changes everything! In a good way of course. ;) But once the kids come, it isn't going to be like this until they're off to school and have their own lives. Also, as with anything in life, time management is key!

LLVL: Do you have plans of shifting back to a "working" life?

TRHOC: For sure!!! As soon as hubby has his MBA and is working steadily, it'll be my turn to work or study! So perhaps in a couple of years or so, give or take a few months, I can be a working mom again :)

LLVL: Any other words of wisdom?

TRHOC: Always be thankful, no matter where you are in life. Remembering that keeps me sane. Knowing and trusting that things are happening as they should keeps me focused and grounded. When difficult stuff arrives, see them as challenges. Oh and staying organized is a big help too! ;)

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, yes, let’s be thankful for where we are in life.  What I noticed from my own journey is, in as much as there are days in the dumps, figuring out why I am here, missing my old life, getting frustrated from being in a different environment at the end of the day, I am very, very thankful and I have a lot to be thankful for.  First, my hubby.  He is the best thing that ever happened to me.  I am lucky we have re-discovered each other at the time we did (we first met in grade school theater when I was 10 and he was 12 – seriously!).  Second, that we are starting our marriage this way.  Just us.  Family is great, but admittedly it could complicate a marriage (!).  Third, we are in such a beautiful and exotic country waiting to be discovered!  Fourth, we do get some expat perks (not much but enough)!  Fifth, I am in a space where I can re-define myself.  It is refreshing to step out of your old life and have the time and freedom to learn new things, do new things and transform yourself in the process.  And I through it all, I am with my man.  What more can you ask from life?

Goodbye “Quotable” Journal

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always kept a journal.  Back in the good old days it was still called a “diary.”  I like writing my thoughts down.  I like writing my prayers.  I like writing what strikes me in the things I read.  I like writing my goals down – they get to be accomplished that way.

Today, I wrote my last entry in my “quotable” journal (quotable is the brand). I felt sentimental and the moment was poignant.  As if I’m saying goodbye to a good friend.  What’s special about this journal?  Well the last 3 years have been short of saying transformational.  And my “quotable” journal was a witness through it.  3 years for a journal??? Well, I didn’t write everyday and it was mighty thick!

My Quotable Journal Cover from

My very first entry was a Birthday List for 2007.  Instead of New Year’s Resolution, I write a Birthday List.  Your birthday anyway is Your New Year. Back then I wanted to be more kind to myself and my body – get fear and anxiety out of my system, save (haha!), let go of a nasty habit.  I also wanted to defend my MA thesis – I’ve graduated now.  And I wanted to pray more – weekday masses (as much as possible) and daily prayer now a way of life.

It was where I wrote my subsequent birthday lists for 2008 and 2009. Which reminds me, I have to write one for this year!

It was also the repository of Elizabeth Gilbert’s words from Eat, Pray, Love (my bible!).  Because of that I learned to find “healing and peace that can only come from solitude.”  I learned my “way around loneliness…” and never used “another person’s body or emotions as a scratching post for your own unfulfilled desires.”  I was also able to “clear out all the space in your mind that you’re using right now to obsess about this guy, you’ll have a vacuum there, an open spot – a doorway.  And guess what the universe will do with that doorway?  It will rush in – God will rush in – and fill you with more love than you ever dreamed.  Stop using David to block that door.  Let it go.”  And rush in God did!

It was also where I wrote my notes on other books that help me shape my thinking like Julie Powell’s Julie and Julia, Marielle Guilliano’s Women, Work and the Art of Savoir Faire, Elizabeth Gilbert’s Committed and Cecilia Ahern's The Book of Tomorrow among others.

It was where I wrote my vision of my ideal man – and most importantly my non-negotiables.  And my husband ticked ALL of that.

It helped me find my way through a career situation.  It helped me find the next best step and take it.  It was where I wrote down Alicia Key’s Element of Freedom, something that was in my iPod and gave me strength to take that career step:

“And the day came
When the risk it took
To remain tight and closed in the bud
Was more painful
Than the risk it took to bloom.
This is the element of freedom.”

It was my prayer journal in my silent retreat Lent of 2010.

It was where I wrote my friend’s quote: “Life is too short NOT to be spent in the pursuit of dreams (Charisse Salinas).”

It was where I wrote that I wanted to run a race outside the country.  It didn’t mention a distance but I did my 1st Half Marathon in New York, August 2009.

It was where I wrote when I wanted to get married, to whom and my “get ready plan.”  I’m so anal that way. I got married way ahead of my timeline!  But most importantly I married the man God created for me.  He just didn’t tick my vision of an ideal man and my non-negotiables he exceeded it.  And I am thankful everyday that I cook for him, take care of him, hold his hand when we sleep, wake up to prepare his breakfast and get him ready for work and everything in between.

And it was where I wrote my daily prayers, tried to make sense of where I am and where I need to go.

True to the quotable cover, my journal witnessed how I:

Walk in the rain,
smell flowers,
stop along the way,
build sandcastles,
go on field trips,
find out how things work,
tell stories,
say the magic words,
trust the universe. 

-Bruce Williamson

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Creating a Sacred Space

It may not look like it but I’m actually quite a prayerful person.  I guess it is part of the quest for life’s meaning.  I’ve found consolation in personal prayers, daily masses, silent retreats (yes I can do magnum silencium), singing in the church choir, being part of campus ministry (in high school) and a religious community (Christian Life Community – both in high school and college).  As I started working, the frenzy of corporate life took center stage and prayer a back seat.  Until a dark moment in my life, prayer found it’s way back through a simple ladies’ room chat with a former officemate (still a very good friend).  Corporate life will always be hectic but at least somehow since that time on, prayer has been present.

One of the greatest gifts my housewifedom has brought is the luxury of creating a scared space in my day.  After preparing hubby’s baon, taking our breakfast and sending him off, I log on to (doing this before going to Facebook I admit is a challenge!).  This is a wonderful site run by the Irish Jesuits.  They have a simple prayer each day that you can do for around 10 minutes - just 10 easy and glorious minutes each day for spiritual nourishing. 

The prayer is done in six stages: The Presence of God, Freedom, Consciousness, The Word, Conversation, Conclusion.  A reading on prayer serves as a prelude.  Followed by a few words, to ask for grace, to be reminded of God’s presence (Presence of God, Freedom, Consciousness).  The day’s scripture is presented and a few points for reflection are suggested (The Word).  You then take your time to talk to God about what the scripture is telling you, or as in any prayer, whatever you want to say or not to say (Conversation).  The prayer is ended aptly with a Glory Be (Conclusion). 

I keep a journal where I write my prayers as well as some words that struck me from the site.  Here are those words from Sacred Space - they have provided me consolation.  Listen to them and maybe they are also saying something to you.

“I remind myself that there are things that God has to teach me yet, and ask for the grace to hear them and let them change me.”

“Let my heart respond to your love.” 

“…the Spirit breathes life into my most intimate desires, gently nudging me towards all that is good…”

“Teach me to slow down, to be still and enjoy the pleasures created for me.  To be aware of the beauty that surrounds me…”

“Savour life’s implications.”

“Help me Lord to be more conscious of your presence.  Teach me to recognize your presence in others.  Fill my heart with gratitude for the times Your love has been shown to me through the care of others.”

“I ask for the grace to be free of my own preoccupations and open to what God may be saying to me.”

“Dear Lord, grant that I may live as You intended, with complete confidence in Your loving care.”

“God is already with us in our desires.”

“All prayers involves some reaching out with childlike trust, even when the inner tone is chaotic or full of confusion.”

“All praying echoes the surrender of Jesus: not my will but Yours.”

“We ask for what we think is best, but we try to hand everything over to the One who knows even better.”

“When we pray, the heart learns something in its own strange way…”

“…I have understood something more deeply and on another level – about God, or about Love, or about myself, or about others…”

“…an important fruit of prayer is genuine peace and the courage to live.  And this can happen even without strong feelings.”

“Perhads only at the end is ‘something understood.’”

“…my horizon expands and attitudes get healed by being in the presence of God.”

Note:  Some quotes came from writers other than the Irish Jesuits.  I was not able to take note of their names.  My apologies for that.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Interview with the Housewives # 4: The Real Housewife of New York

One of the most surprising and comforting thing about being a housewife now was sharing the same experience with my bestest cousin.  My cousin and I have been close no matter the distance.  When she was still living in the Philippines, their family was based in Cebu while we are in Manila.  They then moved to New York but we would exchange letters (yes, good old handwritten snail mailed letters!) to keep in touch.  With Facebook, keeping in touch could never have been easier.  Now that we’re both housewives, we never wanted to be closer to each other than ever!  That would be too fun!  In as much as we’re separated by 10.5 hours and countless number of miles we share a similar story.  Here it is…

The Real Housewife of New York (TRHNY) has been a housewife for 7 months already.  There were a couple of circumstances that lead TRHNY to decide that housewifedom would be best for her.  First, TRHNY decided to leave her job for personal reasons (She was a Clinical Dietician and a Diet Tech for 6 years).  Shortly after that, she and her hubby wanted to travel and it didn’t make sense to find another job right away as she wouldn’t have time off for that vacation.  And third, they wanted to start a family (they are pregnant with their 1st!).  Aside from housewifely duties, she would assist her hubby with his photoshoot gigs (weddings and engagement portraits).   

LLVL:  How was the transition like for you shifting from your prior occupation to being a housewife?

TRHNY:  It was quite odd at first not waking up at 5am everyday for work, but because I already know that I'll be taking a break from my job, I had already planned my "things" to do.

LLVL:  What made it easy?

TRHNY:  What made it easy for me was having a very understanding husband who didn't think any less of me when I made the decision to stop working. 

Editor’s Note:  I love hearing about wonderful stories of the understanding husbands.  My husband is one and it is a joy being married to him!  I wish the same for all the women out there.  And I’m very happy my cousin is married to one!

LLVL:  What made it difficult?

TRHNY:  What made it difficult was that I no longer was receiving a paycheck biweekly, and that would mean I would have to "depend" on my husband for groceries and other expenses for the home.

LLVL:  This is such an issue for me.  When I earned and spent my own money, I felt free – free to do what I want with it. I don’t need to account for my expenses to anyone – which maybe the reason why I don’t do accounting at all! Haha! Now I live on a monthly allowance – which I budget and do the accounting – not because it is required but because I think it’s my duty to.  I am happy that within these boundaries I have the freedom to do with it as I wish.  Yesterday I was buying a binder for my files – I really wanted to buy the most expensive one because it was really the best fit for my needs among the lot.  I somehow felt guilty that I’m buying it.  It wasn’t too expensive (just most expensive), it was within budget, I still have more than enough for the week and I decided that better spend on a quality piece than a cheaper piece that wasn’t upto my standards.  If that was my own money, I wouldn’t have felt the guilt.  But I have a more philosophical take on this – I see it as God’s challenge for me to surrender.  I am a control freak really (that’s why my dad always reminds me to relax) and it is a huge blow to my ego to depend on someone for something.  But that is what marriage is about.  More than depending on someone for the money, but really the act of letting go of one’s self, one’s insecurities (and securities) and hang-ups.  It is about surrendering your life to your husband and allowing him to take care of you.  And once I’ve done that, I felt a lot of tension within me ease.  But it wasn’t all my doing.  One biggest factors of the shift is that the fact that my husband showed me he was happy to do it, that I shouldn’t fear and that it is, at the end of the day, ok. 

LLVL:  What do you like best in being a housewife?

TRHNY:  What I like best of being a housewife is having the opportunity to explore the art of cooking and baking.  I am a terrible cook (take my word for it), but I love baking desserts (this I must say is my strongest points).  It's a good thing that my husband is a dessert lover because even if the meals I cooked are not that good, I make him happy with the desserts I make :) 

LLVL: What are the challenges?

TRHNY:  The challenges I must say is to constantly find something to do so I don't get bored, and not rely on the days ahead of me as an excuse to be lazy.  For example:  Laundry and cleaning the house.  I can easily put that off because I know tomorrow I don't have any special plans, but I try to have a schedule for laundry and cleaning to avoid putting it off to another day.

LLVL:  What things you do that help you enjoy being a housewife?

TRHNY:  I read to keep me busy from novels to magazines, medical journals, news from the internet, recipe books.  I Facebook (who doesn't when we have so much time in our hands now... haha!).  I make time to meet my friends for lunch or dinner if they're available. I visit my family when they're off from work during the week.  I do yoga exercises. I go out with my husband to take photos on weekends if we don't have other things to do.  I watch TV.  If I'm not cooking, I'm whipping up desserts :)

LLVL: Any other tips to enjoy being a housewife?

TRHNY: 1) Keep yourself busy with the things you enjoy the most. 2) Do the things that you have always wanted to do, and never got the chance to do it because of your previous job. 3) Spice up intimacy with your husband. Surprise him with anything from a romantic candle lit dinner for two at home, a nice candle lit bubble bath (if you have a bathtub, if not, sneak in the shower with him), and put on a sexy lingerie in bed.  4) Stay away from shopping unless it's necessary (haha!). 

Editor’s Note:  Hmmm… now that’s a thought!

LLVL:  Do you have plans of shifting back to being a working girl?

TRHNY:  I do plan on possibly working part time or per diem after the baby is a bit older, since my husband and I decided that we are not hiring a sitter, it's quite impossible to work without worrying who's going to watch our child.  Of course when our child is of school age, I'll be going back to work full time, unless we plan for the 2nd baby right away :)

LLVL:  Any other words of wisdom?

TRHNY:  Have confidence in yourself.  Don't let other people think of you less just because you're no longer the "working girl" you used to be.  One day, all your savings will start to decrease, don't panic... just ask your husband nicely to provide a little cash:)  Being a housewife is not necessarily an easy task, so don't let your guard down and it doesn't mean that you're always home, that you forget about yourself.  Don't forget that you still have to look your best.

I love my cousin!  She is totally rockin’ being a housewife and reminding us all that just because we stay at home most of the time, we should look and be anything less than fabulous! 

So that’s it for this edition of the Interview with the Housewives!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Finding Lunuganga

One of the most interesting personalities I’ve met here in Sri Lanka is Geoffrey Bawa.  I’ve not personally met the guy and I will never do at least in this worldly life.  But I’ve met him in quite a few of his works.  One is the structure that houses Paradise Road’s Gallery Café, another is his own Colombo abode at #11 33rd Lane and now his famed estate Lunuganga (or Salt Garden). 

Lunuganga is in Bentota, around 2.5 hours drive south of Colombo (on the way to Galle).  It used to be a rubber plantation.  Upon returning from the UK, Mr. Bawa bought the land.  The garden was his architectural crib – it consumed him and transformed him from a lawyer to “one of the most important Asian architects of the 20th century (Lunuganga Primer).”  It became my objective to set foot in the bed of Bawa’s transformation.  One because truly, the estate is magnificent.  And two, I wanted to be where it all began.

Lunuganga is hard to find.  There are no signages going to the place.  The roads are fit for just one car.  And unpaved.  But it was worth the trip.

Upon entering the inner gate we were welcomed by the most amazing vista I’ve ever seen in my (approximately) 2 months in Sri Lanka.  

The architecture of the house and its rooms (there are quite a few scattered around the estate) is reminiscent of his own Colombo abode.  Maybe it was his way of bringing his Lunuganga to his everyday life?

But Bawa also brought the Italian Renaissance garden to the tropics as that was his main inspiration for the design of the place.  It was also a renaissance of sorts as aside from Bawa’s creation, his many artist friends also contributed interesting pieces and sculptures.

Aside from its sheer beauty, Lunuganga was also a smart creation.  It rested upon two sides of a national road (albeit a small one at that).  Bawa connected the two sides by a bridge – a bridge that quite naturally just rested straddling on either side to make one big estate.  Without having to bulldoze through the national road.

Aside from being such an architectural wonder, Lunuganga for me is a beautiful symbol of man’s ability to make himself who he wants to be and at the same time making the world a more beautiful place.  Who would have thought that a lawyer could be an architect?  To me they are two totally different disciplines.  Yet Bawa made the leap.  And that resonated with where I am now.  I am in my own Lunuganga, a beautiful cradle of transformation.  I too can make that leap.  I too can be unbounded from the kind of person who used to define me with who I want to be.  Right now, in my own terms.  I can make an abandoned rubber plantation into a beautiful Italian Renaissance garden.  And more…

So Lunuganga is my inspiration to carry on in my own rollercoaster of a journey of transformation.  I guess that’s the beautiful part of leaving your old life behind.  Because you have a big beautiful world to create and re-create.

How about you, have you found your Lunuganga?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Riding the Sigmoid Curve in La Lanka

Last week I’ve reached my all time low living in la Lanka.  It is NOT because of the service, good Lord no! (Service Næ ) but something deeper than that.  I really didn’t think much about moving here.  It was just the most natural thing in the world being with my hubby.  I knew it required a dying to self – it was a ginormous sacrifice leaving my life behind.  But it is very clear to me that my life was meant to be lived with hubby, wherever in the world that maybe.  And whatever it takes.  To date, that remains strong (it’s not been a while but still).  My biggest mistake was thinking that I will leave my life behind but pick up from where I left off.  Little did I know that this time, I would be starting from scratch. 

I’ve never been out of a job since graduating from college.  For 7 years of my adult life, my career is what defined me.  I was the HR girl who was focused on getting from point a to point b at work while at the same time juggling school and finally getting an M.A. in Industrial Organizational Psychology.  My life was so aligned.  Now that I found myself being a housewife, all that defined me before suddenly does not apply.  I left my life, but I’m not picking up where I left off.  Instead I am picking up pieces – anything I can get my hands on.

I jumped into embracing this profession.  Interviewing wonderful women who chose housewifedom and learning a lot from them!  I started enjoying the downtime this way of life provides.  As per Diplo Wife, “There is infinite joy to being a housewife if one is to explore all the other aspects of one's life and passions (aside from work).” 
One is writing.  I’ve always enjoyed writing.  I even wanted to seriously pursue it but of course it wasn’t going to pay as much as my old job was.  But lookie here, I am writing.  Writing to live but not for a living.  Also, as per Diplo Wife, “a group of fabulous friends to have ladies lunch with and talk to about the joys and pains of being an expat’s/diplomat’s wife” does not hurt a bit. I think I’ve found some fabulous women in my Sinhala class with whom I occasionally lunch with and share a couple of beers over.  Yes during lunch, why not?

The Academic Wife inspired me to take up a hobby.  And I seriously dove into it.  Even before arriving in Colombo, I have been searching for the perfect yoga center for me.  I wasn’t able to find the best one until I got here.  I tried yoga in a gym class which was enjoyable but another yoga center called out to me.  I was taught one-on-one by a wonderful Indian lady for 10 straight days.  A requirement for beginners.  Now I can do a headstand (albeit against the wall but staying there and breathing), shoulder stand and the plough without years of practice!  Which pushed me to take the Bajaj (public transpo) because some classes clashed with hubby’s schedule - a logistical concern with the car and driver.  Anyway I gained my mobility (albeit with some frustrations along the way) because of pursuing yoga.  And because of yoga itself I gained so much (more on this on a separate post later!). 

Farmer Wife said something that allowed me to let go and chill out.  Hubby will not love me because of gourmet meals and a perfect home.  He has loved me even before he knew how I would fare in that area.  Which made me enjoy cooking more and somehow a consolation in my daily life.  I cooked with my heart.  Not to impress but because it was the kind of food that fed the belly big time.  It also fed the soul – of those who eat but more so of the one who was doing the cooking.

The center of energy in our humble abode
Amidst all these, there was something terribly missing.  Doing all of these can only last a while.  In as much as there are other worldly pursuits that make up a person, for me there has to be some semblance of work into it.  Because at the end of the day, I know I love my profession and what I did.  Prior to leaving Manila I was hoping to find a job here.  I was more optimistic than realistic.  The frustration is because of the visa situation.  It is damn hard to get a working visa if your husband already has one.  I gave myself 3 months to find a job.  The job prospect is not a problem but the visa situation has not changed one bit.  It’s so near it’s almost here but yet so far.  It’s been halfway through my self-imposed timeline and I’m panicking inside.  I might need to accept that I will be a housewife for the whole duration of the assignment (yikes!).  Honestly my frame of mind was that it was a temporary arrangement.  But somehow deep inside I knew the possibility was real.  That’s why I had to soothe myself with the Interviews with the Housewives.
The couch for the potato...
Also something deep inside me is saying that there is actually something that God wants me to figure out, grasp and learn.  When things you think you want or need do not turn out easily, you know the universe is leading you to a detour.  It is frustrating when you don’t know what it is and no matter what you do it’s not getting to you.  I’m sure a bit of it is patience but I somehow I feel there is something else. 

And then the day of the dumps came.  The night before I was thinking about taking a big step.  I was talking about it with my husband and as always, he was all out support.  I was thinking about the timing, that I should the step when I get this job, so at least I could replenish the investment.  But in as much as that is perfectly practical, I knew it was not the right decision.  I decided to sleep on it.  And when I woke up, I immediately knew it was a terrible day that I didn’t want to go through.  I knew I was in the dumps because I didn’t want to go to yoga and I had to ask hubby to stay behind a little bit to cry things out with him.  The whole day I didn’t have the appetite for anything.  I didn’t want to clean (well that is always but on better days I push myself!), and all I wanted was to lie on the couch and watch tv.  Totally unheard of in my past life.  Back then if you feel shitty it doesn’t matter – you just have to get up and go.  But now, where do I need to get up and go to?  There was no Sinhala class that day, not even a grocery day and the one thing that could make me feel better is not until cooking for dinner.  So couch day it was!  I was surprised that I allowed myself that.  But I was just being true and now I have the luxury to.

Then the Sigmoid Curve came to mind.  The Sigmoid Curve is the learning curve.  There is a more mathematical explanation to it but please, let’s not go there.  It looks like this:

The Sigmoid Curve courtesy of
The 2 axes represent performance and time.  In the first curve, when you start there is generally a dip in performance.  Birth pains maybe?  It’s really like that when you learn something new, it’s a painful process as it requires you to clear out a bit of cognitive space to make way for something new.  And there are some things we just can’t let go and unlearn.  When we get the hang of it, what we learn then translates to performance and we steadily improve.  When we reach a certain level of comfort, the subject matter becomes second nature.  Cruising through life maybe?  Then the time comes when we feel we’ve plateaud.  Performance then dips because where you are at is not exciting anymore, it doesn’t push you because you’ve reached a place where the challenge that fueled you no longer exists. 

The trick is to start another curve – a totally different one.  As how you started the previous curve, there will always be a dip.  But your curve will no longer be where you initially started.  The beauty of this curve is that it has the capacity to go further up than you’ve experienced before.  And for me the Sigmoid Curve is a curve of life that we should strive for.  It is also a symbol of hope.   That #1, the dumps will not be forever.  And #2, you’re starting the process of a bigger, better and higher curve. 

That day of the dumps I made a decision to take a leap of faith into a new and exciting foray.  And for the first time in a while, something has taken hold of me in the area of “work.”  What that is, well you will soon find out! 
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