Looking back on 2015, I would say this was my year of deeper understanding about who I really am and what I want to do next with my life.
To put my 2015 in perspective I’ll align it with what I think my previous years’ themes were. I’ll start with 2011 because it was just a pivotal year for me.
2011 - Awakening
2012 - Renaissance
2013 - Freedom
2014 - Movement-Stasis-Containment
2015 - Self
(*Note: Since I am writing this spontaneously, I want to keep note of what I’m feeling along the way. Right now, I’m stuck with 2014. I just realized, 2014 was a difficult year to look back to. Maybe I was not able to reflect well on this, that’s why. I can’t nail it with one word. I’m putting “Stasis-Movement-Containment” to signify how I look at it today. Explanation below. It’s significant for me because it sparked what I would say my best year ever since 2011 - this year, 2015.)
Since I am a historian by training, allow me to do a timeline. Quite structured, quite systematic, and scientific, I know, but it’s just how my mind works.
First, how my 2014 sparked my 2015.
2014 was a year of movement. I launched this blog I was thinking about since finishing my undergrad in 2013. My dreams for the blog were two-fold (sometimes conflicting). I wanted to make a lifestyle business out of it but at the same time, I wanted it to represent who I really was, to express myself, and to change my life through it. Obviously, this leads me to a lot of adventures. Post after post, then a mini-book, then a few followers, etc. Launching and maintaining the platform for a few months became my life and I enjoyed it a lot.
Then came a very pivotal struggle with my environment and my daily life in general. I was “moving” with my dream of being a writer/online entrepreneur but at the same time I felt “static” and “contained.” “Static” and “contained” because the process—my days, my weeks, my life in general—began to feel like a never-ending cycle of habits. Was this what working for myself looks like? Well, I realized, I was following the wrong advice, and that caused the suffering. Coupled with this feeling was the frustration that my environment was no longer serving my true and creative self. The neighborhood and the people around me were no longer making my inner life healthy. I had to leave. At least for a while.
So that sparked my 2015, my best year ever so far. And here it goes.
2015: A Year in Review
With money enough to support me for a month or two I embarked on a quest for life at Metro Manila—no plans whatsoever, I just wanted to leave home. I started to try freelancing but it didn’t work out so well so I realized I needed a day job to support me if I wanted to stay longer in my new home. I applied for two jobs and waited. Afraid that my money would be completely depleted before even getting a job, I decided to go home for a few weeks.
I was accepted as a Research Assistant at the University of the Philippines. The pay was good, the work was no hassle (not yet), and I had enough time to pursue my other interests and side projects. I immediately invested in a beautiful place to stay in—a spare room at a house within a subdivision, a quiet haven in the middle of a busy metropolitan.
I have to go back home again as our salaries were delayed. Because I was working for research funded by the government, I later realized I have to learn to cope with these possible delays in salaries. Good things definitely come with a price.
Summer. So hot. So humid. This is tropical life! I had to get back to Manila as salaries were released and work resumed.
Relatives from the United States returned for a month-long family reunion. I was not able to join them in every activity they set but I was there most of the time. The flexible job schedule made that possible. Overall, this month was a break from the challenges that came the months before. For the first time in a long time, I felt I was living the life I wanted.
I began investing time on my personal development again. Feeling grounded at my new environment and having had done what I had to do to sustain my lifestyle, I was ready to focus on taking care of myself again. Interestingly, the more I tried to take good care of my body and mind, the more I got sick. Rainy days came, I caught cold, never-ending headaches, and extra-extra weight. Hm…weird. The best part of June however was my first trip to the beautiful city (within a forest) of Puerto Princesa, Palawan.
July was the month that everything I never expected just happened. My health went spiraling down, my troubles with anxiety enveloped my days with no noticeable reasons, work began to feel a lot like “work,” and a working trip that finally made me realize how much I missed freedom. With just around 6 months in the job I thought I will be keeping for a long time, I resigned.
I got back home teary-eyed, embarrassed. But my family, my father specifically, talked me out of the embarrassment. He said he missed me while I was gone and that he wanted me to be around. So, I decided to keep my life a little simpler, back home, back to doing freelance work, back to serving my soul, back to serving my passions, back to serving others. I launched a new mini-book and earned my first dollars/pesos from it. I was very happy.
I noticed that during the entire month of August I was doing, doing, doing…creating, creating, creating…ah! the freedom!… I didn’t have this for over six months and I was so excited to get back to creating that my drive was so strong…and then…it suddenly vanished! September was about slowing down, reflecting on what to do next in life. Ironically, it began my eventual descent into full-time freelance writing. I am forever grateful to the universe for providing me clients in my first month as a serious freelancer. But more importantly, September started the transformation of my relationship with writing, care of, The Literati Writers.
As I was slowly seeing the value of transforming my relationship with writing into a more healthy practice, I simultaneously began developing a strong thirst for all things spiritual..again. I began going back to the feelings associated with my history of Christian work as an ex-young pastor and realized that I was not really an atheist or disbeliever or Darwinist or Marxist—I was a spiritual junkie, always was, unable to detach myself from the sublime soulful vessel that I am. That was the biggest revelation I had for a long time—the biggest achievement of my 2015! I began reading, studying, and reflecting on Eastern philosophical texts and began calling myself a “lightworker.”
As the year is slowly coming to a close, I began to see clearer and clearer, who I truly am and the path that I am about to walk through in the coming months. I had glimpses of ideas—creative, professional, and personal but I was generally lacking the drive to live again. Here I was back to feelings of stasis and containment. Realizing that this is temporary and that unlike before I don’t have to go through a drastic life change to feel “movement,” I embarked on two weeks of continuous travel and reconnecting with people. I went to Baguio City to see my sister, to visit a friend who was about to give birth, and to meet an Indian monk who talked to me about yoga, vegetarianism, and meditation. Then, I went to Baler, Aurora to surf and see the beautiful Dicasalarin Cove atop a lighthouse for a few days.
Dada (“brother”) doing his afternoon meditation while he fed me fried mongo seeds and other vegetarian foods.
With my fried Aina a month before she gave birth to a beautiful baby girl she named Hiraya, a Filipino word which means “imagination”.
Dicasalarin Cove atop the Lighthouse at Baler, Aurora
December was a month of “growth” for me professionally. Not “growth” as in making more money but growth in the sense that I am slowly understanding how I can make this freelance journey more soul-nourishing. I had to let go of some clients who were just not the right fit for me and instead focused on looking for people with whom I feel comfortable working with. This process involved getting crystal clear on the qualities of clients I am looking for and sticking to work with those people and only them. Spiritual-wise, I’m currently dwelling on the idea of the “divine in the ordinary” and more radical applications of “living in the present moment.” Honestly, this is quite a challenge as I have a strong drive to do, do, and do as any creative would confess. I recently climbed a mountain a day after Christmas. After that the journey is unknown and I like it that way.
Before climbing the summit of Mt. Pico de Loro at Ternate, Cavite.
To conclude this rather long piece, I would say that 2015 was really the year I listened intently to the true “Self” within me, within every one of us, within the very universe we say we live in. It was a year that I think I began my path towards self-realization, towards accepting my real identity as a spiritual person of a more rebellious kind.
While previous years were about getting back on track after what I went through in 2011, this year, this 2015, was different, because I really felt I was walking towards a higher realm. I was no longer just surviving or just recovering. I was already, despite seemingly tiny steps, flourishing! And I love this! Really, I love this! Just typing these words make me feel so good and proud about what my 2015 has become.
Honoring the Self. Serving others through the Self. Getting crystal clear of what you want. Moving. Connecting. Then stopping to just “be.” Then moving again. These are things I experience during this year. These are the things I want more out of 2016 and all the years to come!
Dear friend, you, the reader who cares about what I have to say, enough to read my story, my life, what happened to me as I traverse my own journey, I wish you a good year to come. May your path be filled the things you want more out of life! Thank you, thank you, thank you.