You’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.
You’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.
I may not be a morning person, but I know based on experience that I am more productive if I start my day early. I get more things done, especially if I do them in the morning. Waking up at 6 a.m. and working at 7 a.m. is ideal for me and is not really difficult. But after having my daughter, I feel like my time is no longer my own. What time I start my day depends on what time she went to bed the night before and what time she wakes up in the morning.
My daughter usually wakes up at 8 a.m. and depending on the quality of sleep I had, I will sleep in with her until she wakes up or I will get out of bed early. Now, she’s been waking up an hour earlier and I’ve been getting a wee bit better sleep than before. Both situations – daughter waking up early and me getting a good night sleep – if will continue, will give me at least an extra hour every morning, which in turn will give me room to add a few things to my morning checklist.
Here’s what I’m thinking:
I know that I can’t always include all these in my morning routine, especially because my daughter’s sleeping habits are not yet well established. (I’m still hoping it will improve as she gets older.) But making it an intention to do as many things as I can in the morning is as good as doing them for now.
I mentioned in a previous post that we are currently paying for a residential lot where we hope to build our own house on someday. Actually, we are in the process of acquiring 2 lots. The other one is located just a few meters away from across my parents’ house. I got it through a local government program that allows people to purchase a small lot for a low price and at very easy installment payment plan.
Currently, we can’t build a house on the lot yet due to some conflicts with the municipal office, so it functions as a planting area while we wait for the kinks to be ironed out.
This is the outdoor space that temporarily fills in the lack of outdoor space on my parents’ house. The land is not yet flat/level, but as you can see, it is already filled with different types of plants. We have vegetables like okra, eggplant, malunggay, kangkong, camote tops, alugbati. My husband recently planted cherry tomatoes in a few pots. We also have fruit-bearing trees like mango, avocado, guyabano, calamansi and atis. Other plants that we have are papaya, tanglad (lemon grass), pandan, aloe vera plant, chinese malunggay, ube (purple yam), gabi (taro). We even have a lone pineapple plant in one corner.
Last week, due to my daughter’s insisting, we purchased two young rabbits and fashioned them a cage out of an old dog crate. This week, she’s hinting that she wants live chickens. But chickens will be troublesome for the plants, so we’re not giving in.
I want this place to be the place where my daughter can play. We bring her here every morning when the sun is still forgiving. I had wanted to put a swing or sand pit that she can play with during the afternoons, but seeing that there are many mosquitoes in the area, it might not be a good idea. Right now, I really just want to level the land so it will be easy for her to roam around, investigate the plants, chase the butterflies and play.
And maybe have plants that are more tidy (the ube vine is taking over so much space) so it won’t look bushy. My husband is thinking of building a small greenhouse where he can grow more plants in pots. I’m all for more potted herbs.
But eventually, we need to build a house here (it’s part of the requirements of the program). If it were up to me, I’ll just build a small bahay kubo (nipa hut) on the land and keep the plants where they are. Having a backyard and being able to plant organic produce is really a nice.
However, I also need to look at this lot as an investment and the long-term plan is to build a place that we can rent out eventually. At the moment, we still don’t have a go-signal for any type of constructions and we’re not also in hurry because we don’t have the money yet. So, whether we’re going to leave a backyard space or maximize the whole lot remains to be decided on. For now, we’ll just use it as it is, make a few slight improvements and appreciate the benefits that we get from this outdoor area.
One of my biggest wishes is to finally move out of my parents’ house, as any responsible adult should do. But that’s not the most practical thing for our young family to do right now (as I’ve discussed here), so I’m contemplating on doing a room makeover instead. The cheapskate in me feels that a room makeover is more of an aesthetic endeavor and not really a necessity. I have always considered it but have been putting it off for a long time, thinking it’s just a waste of money.
But overtime, as I look at the dirty floor and walls, the unsightly tangle of cords and cables, the chaos inside our bedroom, I become increasingly frustrated and stressed out. I long to have a room that is neat, organized and pleasing to look at. I understand how a harmonious color scheme can calm one’s mind and I yearn to feel that way when I’m in our bedroom. Deep inside, I know it’s not just purely aesthetic – a room makeover can be therapeutic and mentally stimulating – and I’m convincing myself that I need it.
And maybe if you see the room, you’ll see why. So here it is:
It was my bedroom since I was 9 years old. The first and last time it had a makeover was when I was in my twenties. Back then, it looked a lot worse, so you can imagine how happy I was when finally, I had a proper bedroom.
The floor is the same pink vinyl tiles, which are now old and worn out. A few weeks before I shot this, there was a colorful puzzle rubber mat on top of it (baby-proofing) which had become really dirty and dingy so it had to go. The walls were originally pink but we repainted it with green later on, something that I regret because it’s obviously the wrong color. Now, it’s just in an appalling state. The closet is still in this weird yellow shade, which is the same color of the door, that doesn’t go well with neither the walls nor the floor. Actually, none of the colors in the room complement each other.
A few years after I got married, we converted it into a home office (both my husband and I are working at home). Before then, it functioned as both a bedroom and a home office (yes, we somehow managed to fit a computer in there.) Then after I gave birth to my daughter, we changed it back to a bedroom. And this is where we’ve all been sleeping since.
When I started working at home again, I asked my husband to build me a floating standing desk. Previously, there was a regular desk there, but for baby-proofing reasons, we put it away. I also prefer the standing desk because, aside from avoiding the negative effects of sitting down for long hours everyday, I can also put more things under the table (mostly, an ever-growing collection of baby toys and knickknacks).
This bedroom is small, just a little over 2 sqm, and we’ve been trying to cram as many things as we can in the space, without the feeling of being overwhelmed with too many things (if that’s possible). So we shifted, transferred and switched out stuffs as our needs change. And whenever possible, we find storage solutions elsewhere. Like, when we built a closet in another room so we can put our clothes there and only my daughter’s clothes remain in the small closet that we have in the bedroom.
We trimmed down her toys, stashed some of them away for future use and removed their plastic containers in exchange for the space under my standing desk. Because as my daughter slowly transitioned from baby to toddler, we needed to add a small foam mattress beside our bed so that even if she’s sleeping in the same room with us, she’ll get a sense of sleeping separately on her own bed.
And also because all three of us can no longer fit in a double-sized bed. And that I’m going crazy putting away her toys several times everyday.
From the pictures, you can tell how jarring and disarrayed the room looks and that almost everything needs to be refreshed. I know this is a big undertaking and will need a substantial budget that’s why I’m hesitant to commit to it. But I also know, and I bet you will agree with me, that the room terribly needs some TLC. I’m sure my aesthetics-deprived self will thank me if I do decide to push through with this makeover. But I’m not over the fence yet.
I’ll update here if and when I find the courage to pull the trigger on this project.
At any given moment, you have the power to say: “This is not how the story is going to end.”
On a rainy day like this, the view outside my window can be beautiful. There’s a big Balete tree that hides all the unsightly, galvanized iron roofs of our neighbors, the air seems fresher, the plants are more alive and I can make believe that I’m in a nice, quiet community.
Then the sound of vehicles passing by brings me back to reality.
I have lived with my parents since I was born and we’ve been living here in the same house since I was 5 years old. I’m now 38.
When I was in my twenties, I thought I like it here. I thought I like this place, the proximity to relatives, the friends that our family have made among our neighbors. I thought being by the side of the road is good because I can go home late at night and not have to worry about walking alone in a dark alley or a dangerous empty street because the jeepney stops right in front of our house.
I didn’t mind the noise of the busy road then. I got used to it. I didn’t mind that there were occasional brawls and fights, that our next-door neighbor was prone to shouting and swearing at each other. I didn’t mind that some of our neighbors have total disregard for others and have no sense of urbanity.
I was in my twenties and was out of the house most of the time – in school, and after I graduated – at work, or during weekends – at the mall. So I was often only home at night to sleep. I didn’t experience the nuisances of the place where we live to the full extent. Maybe that’s why it was easy for me to ignore them.
When I got married, I still chose to live with my parents but dreamed of having our own place (we are currently paying for a lot in a gated community where we plan to build our house). By that time, I was already working at home and staying home all the time. Slowly, the condition of where we live reared its ugly head.
After my daughter was born, it was the only time when I was sure that I wanted to move out, to leave this place I’ve stayed in for almost 4 decades. I can no longer stand the issues that I was willing to turn a blind eye to before. But unfortunately, with the nature of my work and caring for a toddler, I am not as financially able to take risks and relocate, let alone afford a better place to move into.
Living with my parents, who shoulder most of the household expenses, I am certainly at an advantage. We also have the convenience of a household help who can double as my daughter’s nanny for a few hours in a day, and will allow me to work. In a culture where living with your parents even after you have your own family is tolerated, it makes sense for us to stay here.
But if there’s one thing that I badly want to change in my life, it’s moving out of my parents’ house. Aside from the obvious reason that I need to become a responsible adult and get out of my comfort zone, I also want my daughter to grow up in a safer, more child-friendly environment. Currently, my parents’ house has no yard. The small outdoor space that we have was converted into a car port when they bought a car. It’s been a challenge to find a place where my daughter can play outside. There’s no park nearby – park is a luxury where we live and usually can be found only in exclusive subdivisions.
But apart from the lack of outdoor space, my bigger issue is the kind of life we have here. Living close to known drug users and peddlers where it’s impossible to feel safe; living by the side of the road where the noise is non-stop and you will be jolted awake in the wee hours of the morning by motorcycles whizzing by at top speeds, or someone shouting or fighting; living in an area where you resigned to accept everything you complain about as part of the territory, and that you cannot do anything about them.
I am aware that there are people living in far worse conditions and far more dangerous places than we are. And it goes without saying that I’m grateful that we at least have a decent place to live in. But I also don’t think it’s wrong to aspire for a better quality of life, which includes a nicer community to live in. And the only way I can achieve that is by moving out.
So my goal is not just to move out for the sake of moving out, but to improve our lives. Hopefully the steps I’m taking bring us in that direction.
I’m not a morning person, and obviously, I don’t have a morning ritual. The first thing I do when I wake up is turn on my laptop. But there’s so much hullabaloo about morning rituals and a lot of successful people swear by the significant difference these habits have made in their lives. And being that I am currently in the mindset for change, I thought it’s time to give morning ritual a try. Or in my case, it’s more of a checklist than a ‘ritual’.
Mornings are hard for me, especially now that I have a daughter, whose activities influence how I go about my tasks. Usually, I get to the bigger stuff first, like work and her needs – eating, bathing, playing. But then I tend to forget the smaller but still important things. So I figured if I’d get them done first thing in the morning, neglecting them will not nag at me at the end of day.
So here are what I have on my morning checklist:
These items don’t seem a lot but my challenge really is to do them before 9 a.m. Now, that doesn’t seem difficult either but if you consider that I wake up at 8 a.m., or sometimes even a little later, and that in between the time I wake up and 9 a.m., is also the time when we have breakfast, these checklist items are all I can squeeze in the given timeframe.
While they may seem small in relation to the changes I want to have in my life, they help in conditioning myself to finish off tasks, big or small, right away and they give a sense of accomplishment knowing I’m doing everything I need to do everyday and not forgetting anything.
Ultimately, the goal is to turn them into habits such that they will become second-nature to me every morning.
But the bigger, more long-term goal is to be able to wake up much earlier, like 6 a.m. early, so I’d get to do more before the clock hits 9 a.m., which is the time I want to start working. Or maybe, I’d start working earlier instead. Whichever way it goes, finishing everything I need to do by noon is the ideal setup that I’m aiming for because I’d be able to spend the rest of the day playing and bonding with my daughter.
So checklist or ritual, or whatever changes that brings me closer to my goals, I’m all for trying it. In fact, it’s been a few days since I started and I think it’s working. I feel much better knowing I’m getting important things done and hopefully I’d be able to add more to my checklist and become more productive.
What if you wake up tomorrow with only the things you thanked God for yesterday…
Before writing this first post, I asked myself what is it that I want to blog about. Wanting to start a lifestyle blog, I know that there will be plenty of niches to choose from and I can easily pick a couple or more from those choices.
But I wanted to write about something that resonates well with me and my life. I know it’s inevitable that I will often write about things that other lifestyle bloggers have written about. Standing out, when a million others are already doing what you want to do, is going to be difficult. But if I find my own unique voice, and write, talk and develop this blog in that voice, somehow I know I have a chance to stand out in my own way.
So that’s what brought me to – change.
Right now, I’m in that mindset of change. I want changes in my life because it feels like for the past decade, I have stalled. I just stopped growing. I was afraid to get out of my comfort zone and so I didn’t. A few years later, I realized that’s one of the biggest mistakes I’ve ever done.
Being in my comfort zone, I had less challenges, a laid-back position, but a limiting environment. I surrounded myself with familiar things that I can control, things that would make life easier but would keep me in a stagnant state. It’s like being in a comfortable box. You know you’re safe inside, but you’re not going anywhere. After a long while, my comfort zone has become a prison that I built around myself.
I traded possibilities, growth and fortitude for familiarity, safety and ease. But we all know nothing great comes out of a comfort zone, so I have to get out of mine.
And that’s where I’m coming from now and how I want to position this blog – from the perspective of someone who wants to change her life, little by little, step by step. It will be a long journey but hopefully, I’ll be able to sustain the momentum and faithfully document the process because this blog is part of the changes that I want in my life.
So here’s to a new beginning and more changes!