I previously wrote in one of my posts here in this blog that I recommend that we do some introspection or reflection before the month of December ends. When we do this exercise, we would most likely gain some insights or valuable lessons from the year that was. I did. Let me share a few of them with you here.
Take away #1 We may encounter many challenges, but our blessings still outnumber them.
2016 was not an easy year for me. Our stay-in maid left around early March. After that, I went back to hiring a stay-out maid who comes to our house to clean, do the laundry and iron our clothes. This went on for several months until the stay-out maid proved to be unreliable. She promises to come on certain days and then she wouldn't show up. She's simply inconsistent in fulfilling her commitments. There were days when I wished we just set our clothes to the laundry shop instead of waiting for her or believing that she would come. Anyway, I eventually fired her. I tried several cleaning agencies/companies until I found one that is relatively more sustainable and affordable in the long run.
Having no household help made it extra difficult for me to manage the house, care for my 3 kids, homeschool the 2 older ones, breastfeed the youngest, maintain my blogs, manage my business and finish my book projects. Yet, reviewing my 2016 helped me realize how amazingly blessed I was last year.
I had a lot of challenges, true. But I received and experienced more blessings.
For example, finding alternatives to our previous stay-in maid were still blessings. At least, I didn't have to do all the housework. Outsourcing these to someone else enabled me to channel my energy to more important tasks. Moreover, in the end, I found more acceptable and sustainable options that the first ones. And before the year ended, a friend of ours recommended her stay-out cleaner to me to do our laundry and clean our house also once a week. I was so happy when she shared this with me that I told her that this was one of the best Christmas gifts I got.
Another major blessing is that I was able to achieve my goal breastfeeding my youngest child for 2 years last November. My youngest hasn't tasted even a drop of milk formula. He has been breastfed on demand for 2 years! I'm so grateful that I had enough milk to provide for his needs. I'm also grateful that in spite of my busyness, I was able to honor my commitment to prioritize his needs. There was never a day that he did not breastfeed from me, even when I had to work out-of-town. This brings me to my next major blessing.
My work allowed me to be with my kids. This is one major blessing for our family. I got to work even with my kids around. I can work from home. I can bring my kids with me when I work outside. Not all parents can do this. But I had been doing this since I got married. I've been working from home for almost 10 years now. Wow! Now that I counted, I was even more amazed! I had been working freelance for this long and it has been both fulfilling and rewarding. I'm so thankful that we have this kind of lifestyle. I can be a hands-on parent while earning. I had been living my dream! This was something I dreamt of when I was still single.
We've also had a fruitful year in our homeschool. We usually do a couple of hours only of structured homeschool activity and yet we covered a lot in the past year. I was also glad that most of these were based on my kids' interests. We had numerous field trips (around 10 if I'm not mistaken) that were both fun and memorable. If you've been a regular reader of this blog since last year, you've read about most of them. (If this is your first time to read my blog, some of our field trips included going to Dr. Jose Rizal's town, Dino Play, Titans from the Ice Age, the Manila International Book Fair (MIBF) and Museo ng Katipunan.) In fact, because they were so many, I still have not blogged about all of them. Now, I wonder if there are other schools that have as many field trips as we have our homeschool. The great thing about these field trips is that these are related to my kids' interests and not something that someone or a school just thought would be beneficial for them. That's one of the advantages of homeschooling. We get to choose where we would bring the kids for field trips. Thus, we can bring them where they would be naturally interested or most likely to have fun. My 2 older boys even had the chance to join fun runs as part of their P.E. classes/activities last year. They joined the Crayola fun run towards the end of summer and the HOPE run for children with special needs towards year end.
We had a number of outings and trips or mini-vacations, too. Some of which were courtesy of my clients. Isn't that great? You've read about a few of them here also like our trip to Baguio and our outing to Enchanted Kingdom. We had a vacation at least once a quarter. Then, we had family outings in between. That's on top of our field trips! 2016 was indeed a year when we spent a lot of time bonding with each other through places that we visited.
And there were the fun and memorable birthday celebrations that I planned for my kids (like the Star Wars party I planned for my eldest child, the Superman and friends birthday party for my second child and the Daniel the Lion King for my youngest) and that of my parents and brother, plus the out-of-town birthday celebrations for me and my husband. You've read about a few of them here, too.
These are just some of my blessings for 2016. There are SO MUCH MORE! I had so much to be grateful for in 2016!
Take away #2 Nothing/No one can hinder us from fulfilling our divine destiny.
Our circumstance may be far from ideal or supportive at the least, but this cannot hinder us from fulfilling our divine destiny or what we are here on earth for. God will definitely find a way and help us fulfill the dreams that He planted in our hearts. It was not only I who experienced this truth last year. This was true for both me and my eldest son.
I have already mentioned earlier my challenges last year. Given my limited time to work on my business and passion projects, I was amazed and grateful that I got to achieve MANY of my dreams/goals.
Last year, my dream of becoming a children's book author came true. I was able to publish and launch my first children's book, Mommy Loves You Just the Same, here in my website (last May in time for the celebration of Mother's Day) and on Amazon (in time for Christmas). We even came up with merchandise inspired by and based on the characters of my children's book. We found the best supplier/partner for this and we started selling these items last year also. We even got good reviews and support from influencers like celebrities, fellow authors, mompreneurs and mom bloggers.
We finished some of the videos of the first H.O.P.E. Summit. Actually, we're almost done editing all of the videos. You can find them here in the Virtual HOPE Summit page. Some of the parents in our community already benefitted from them. These videos were already available for sale in our online shop since early last year.
My talks and workshops were well-received by my audiences and my clients were happy with my work. Even though I felt that I didn't have ample time to prepare for these last year since I had so much on my plate, I am in awe that the people I served through my core gifts were very happy with the results. How did I know that? Well, aside from their feedback on the post-program evaluation sheets, I had repeat clients and repeat invitations to either speak or run training programs and workshops.
As for my eldest son, Yanthy, although he didn't get to enroll during the school year (after their summer classes) with his previous piano teacher/mentor (his mentor had been busy staging musicals), he still learned A LOT of songs in the past year. His repertoire has grown exponentially in the past year. His very first piano mentor who is now in the U.S. is also impressed. He now knows how to play at least 20 Advent and Christmas songs on the piano. On top of that, he has learned at least 20 new songs for the Mass. I have yet to make a comprehensive list of the songs he now knows how to play on the piano to help us keep track. He learns so fast that documenting them is not easy. I love this good problem actually!
Yanthy has also served as the pianist in our parish for our daily evening Masses and the Children's Mass on Sundays faithfully in the past year. There were only a few instances when he was not able to serve. He chose to serve even when it was raining or when he needed to be on his own (I or his Dad cannot go to Mass with him because of sickness or traffic) or even on days when he wasn't eager to do it. He and our family have made it our priority and our hearts are filled with joy because of this service.
2016 was an awesome year for me and my family! I cannot deny that my awesome God was behind it. I know that if it were only up to me, I would have the strength to accomplish all these. But God made a way for me. He lined up the right people and the right events for me. He made what seemed impossible possible.
So, as I welcomed 2017, I was filled not only with thanksgiving for the year that was but also hope and joyful expectation for things to come. God reminded me through my introspection exercises that with determination, hard work, discipline combined with a lot of faith and grace from Him, nothing is impossible!