Monday Musings: I am first, not second.

Knock knock.

Who’s there?

Second place

Second place, who?

Exactly.

Mediocrity knocks on our door when we are in the middle of a long journey towards our dreams. It will tempt you to accept everything without a fight. We get distracted. Like a kid in a candy store, only planning to buy a lollipop at first, then getting lost in the idea of sugar rush. We go through different aisles and taste so many samples that we forget what we were really craving for. At the end of the day, we go home empty and lost.

Cut mediocrity before it seeps right into your blood. Second best is only good if you want to be forgotten.

“I’m not here to tell a joke. I’m here to pick a fight — a fight with second place.”- John Doman

Monday Musings: 10 Life Lessons Learned from Water

Water has several unique physical properties. These properties show us a lot of truths on how we should live our lives.

Water dominates our planet, you see it everywhere. It has shown its beauty, grandeur and power countless times. As simple as it looks, we have a lot to learn from it.

Water has several unique physical properties. These properties show us a lot of truths on how we should live our lives.

  • The atomic structure of a water (or dihydrogen monoxide) molecule consists of two hydrogen (H) atoms joined to one oxygen (O) atom. The unique way in which the hydrogen atoms are attached to the oxygen atom causes one side of the molecule to have a negative charge and the area in the opposite direction to have a positive charge. The resulting polarity of charge causes molecules of water to be attracted to each other forming strong molecular bonds. Water has both negative and positive. Like the movie “Inside Out”, it is necessary for us to have both joy and sadness. It cannot be all positive. We should use the difference to bind us closer to others.
  • Water has a high specific heat. Specific heat is the amount of energy required to change the temperature of a substance. Because water has a high specific heat, it can absorb large amounts of heat energy before it begins to get hot. It also means that water releases heat energy slowly when situations cause it to cool. Water’s high specific heat allows for the moderation of the Earth’s climate and helps organisms regulate their body temperature more effectively. Be slow to anger. Be patient to others and deal with conflict in a calm way.
  • Water in a pure state has a neutral pH. As a result, pure water is neither acidic nor basic. Water changes its pH when substances are dissolved in it. Rain has a naturally acidic pH of about 5.6 because it contains natural derived carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide. A reminder to stay true to who you are and yet be open to influences from others.
  • Water conducts heat more easily than any liquid except mercury. This fact causes large bodies of liquid water like lakes and oceans to have essentially a uniform vertical temperature profile. You should dissipate or lessen anger instead of making it worse. Refrain from pushing others to hatred, help them clear their minds.
  • Water molecules exist in liquid form over an important range of temperature from 0 – 100° Celsius. This range allows water molecules to exist as a liquid in most places on our planet. Adapt on with what is common, so you can seamlessly fit into most situations.
  • Water is a universal solvent. It is able to dissolve a large number of different chemical compounds. This feature also enables water to carry solvent nutrients in runoff, infiltration, groundwater flow, and living organisms. Act as a medium for change. Carry goodness and pass it on to others for them to thrive and grow into better people.
  • Water has a high surface tension. In other words, water is adhesive and elastic, and tends to aggregate in drops rather than spread out over a surface as a thin film. This phenomenon also causes water to stick to the sides of vertical structures despite gravity’s downward pull. Water’s high surface tension allows for the formation of water droplets and waves, allows plants to move water (and dissolved nutrients) from their roots to their leaves, and the movement of blood through tiny vessels in the bodies of some animals. Be fluid enough to change as the circumstance requires. People who refuse to bend usually break. Being flexible will help you go far.
  • Water molecules are the only substance on Earth that exist in all three physical states of matter: solid, liquid, and gas. Incorporated in the changes of state are massive amounts of heat exchange. This feature plays an important role in the redistribution of heat energy in the Earth’s atmosphere. In terms of heat being transferred into the atmosphere, approximately 3/4’s of this process is accomplished by the evaporation and condensation of water. The environment will change you into different persons in many times in your life, you will always go back to what is essentially you.
  • The freezing of water molecules causes their mass to occupy a larger volume. When water freezes it expands rapidly adding about 9% by volume. Water is the only substance on this planet where the maximum density of its mass does not occur when it becomes solidified.  When life gets tough, do not shrink out of fear or desperation. Make your self bigger than the situation and be stronger.

  • The rivers and sea remain lower than the mountains and yet they occupy most of the Earth. The real power of a king comes from humility. As the principle of wu wei puts it:

The rivers and seas are lords of a hundred valleys. This is because their strength is in lowliness; they are kings of them all. So it is that the perfect master wishing to lead them, he follows. Thus, though he is above them, he follows. Thus, though he is above them, men do not feel him to be an injury. And since he will not strive, none strive with him.

 As the legendary Bruce Lee puts it:

After spending many hours meditating and practicing, I gave up and went sailing alone in a junk. On the sea I thought of all my past training and got mad at myself and punched the water! Right then — at that moment — a thought suddenly struck me; was not this water the very essence of gung fu? Hadn’t this water just now illustrated to me the principle of gung fu? I struck it but it did not suffer hurt. Again I struck it with all of my might — yet it was not wounded! I then tried to grasp a handful of it but this proved impossible. This water, the softest substance in the world, which could be contained in the smallest jar, only seemed weak. In reality, it could penetrate the hardest substance in the world. That was it! I wanted to be like the nature of water.

Suddenly a bird flew by and cast its reflection on the water. Right then I was absorbing myself with the lesson of the water, another mystic sense of hidden meaning revealed itself to me; should not the thoughts and emotions I had when in front of an opponent pass like the reflection of the birds flying over the water? This was exactly what Professor Yip meant by being detached — not being without emotion or feeling, but being one in whom feeling was not sticky or blocked. Therefore in order to control myself I must first accept myself by going with and not against my nature.

Me and water
Nothing is weaker than water, but when it attacks something hard or resistant, then nothing withstands it, and nothing will alter its way.

Monday Musings: Leaving A Luggage Full of Excuses

How attached are you to your current lifestyle and habits? I have had a lot of moments where I refused to change because of fear of the unknown. If I tell you that I barely talk to people when I was a kid, you would laugh at me in disbelief but it is the truth.

I never wanted to talk to anyone not even to the Jollibee (Philippines’ most loved fast food chain) waitress could make me speak. I would simply ask my sister to speak for me. I just loved staying in my room or with my dogs. I enjoyed seclusion. It took me decades before figuring out that my safety net had been my cage. I needed to grow. I then left my little haven and put myself for the world to either love or criticise. It has been a rewarding bet and I have bloomed so much. There were times when I did not have stuff to protect me and there were times when having no excuses led me to do more. It is part of traveling through life.

We create our own shackles. The luggage full of excuses that we have carried, thinking it will serve as protection when the weather gets tough is only a burden in reality. Learn to let go. Travel light, you will soar faster.

My Wardrobe Checklist for Backpacking

Planning to go on a month-long trip? Follow my wardrobe checklist for backpacking.

I always worry about my luggage when traveling. My obsessive-compulsive side always want to make sure I do not bring too much and most of the time, I barely reach half of my luggage limit.

“The old school of thought would have you believe that you'd be a fool to take on nature without arming yourself with every conceivable measure of safety and comfort under the sun. But that isn't what being in nature is all about. Rather, it's about feeling free, unbounded, shedding the distractions and barriers of our civilization—not bringing them with us.” ― Ryel Kestenbaum, The Ultralight Backpacker: The Complete Guide to Simplicity and Comfort on the Trail
“The old school of thought would have you believe that you’d be a fool to take on nature without arming yourself with every conceivable measure of safety and comfort under the sun. But that isn’t what being in nature is all about. Rather, it’s about feeling free, unbounded, shedding the distractions and barriers of our civilization—not bringing them with us.”
― Ryel Kestenbaum, The Ultralight Backpacker: The Complete Guide to Simplicity and Comfort on the Trail

I am lucky to always travel light. When I went for Malaysia for Ms. SCUBA International 2013, I managed to fit in 25kgs. my heels, customes and even all my dive gears. The problem most ladies face when doing long-term travel is trying to fit everything into a small luggage. I can recall the sight of my Bb. Pilipinas 2013  co-candidates during our three-day stay in Shangri-La. I felt that I barely brought stuff since I only carried a medium-sized duffel bag while the rest brought ones as huge as dive equipment bags (TBH I will never know what was inside those bags).

This year, I went to Tacloban and packed for a month of volunteer work. A month-long wardrobe in a 50 L backpack? How did I survive?

Here is my list:

TOPS

You can try to have 2 of these in bright colours to add more life to your usual neutrals.
If you are doing PR work, best to have some dressy tops.

4 Tank Tops

4 Shirts – 2 short-sleeved and 2 long-sleeved

Choose ones made from light materials.

1 Windbreaker

Jeans can be heavy though.
You can mix both to create a juxtaposition of sophisticated and casual.

3 Pair of shorts

2 Long Pants/Trousers

1 Pair of Leggings

A-line is safest.

1 Long Skirt

3 Brassieres

You can also choose to bring Nubra (silicone adhesive bras), they are easy to wash and wear.
Basic Undies

4 Pairs of Underwear

1 Sarong/ Cover-up (30 Ways to Use Your Sarong)

Less space consumed by microfiber towels compared to standard cotton ones.

1Towel (Microfiber is best)

1 Pair of Sneakers or Rubber Shoes (Hiking shoes are not as good looking but they do their job well)

1 Pair of Flip-Flop

1 Pair of Ballerina Flats (For sophistacated moments.)

These are my basics and you can choose to add clothing items depending on where you will be doing volunteer work. If you are backpacking in the Philippines, I suggest you bring ones made of cotton because the humidity will make you sweat like a pig, a pair of joggers to keep out mosquitoes at night.

Having a hard time deciding which to take? Let George Clooney inspire you or check out this Pinterest Board.

Monday Musing : The Harshest Judge

How do you see yourself? When I started with psychology in university, our professor introduced me to the concept of Johari’s window. The window had four divisions each representing a different perspective of oneself. We had to make our version as a way to raise self-awareness.

Last week, a social experiment became viral. It spoke about how we perceive ourselves and our success.

Admittedly, I they asked me to score myself, I would also be like the participants. I am certain I would give myself a failing mark. This is because we tend to be our worst judge. While others see our success, we usually focus on our failures and we compare ourselves with colleagues and the rest.

Do not focus to much on one viewpoint. Remind yourself that there are 3 more views to be seen. Focus on weakness and work to improve it but do not let it imprison you. You are not bound to them, they are only temporary. Give yourself a break and be your number one advocate.

Wednesday Warriors: How to Start Project 333

Always shopping for clothes and never having enough in your closet? Life is easier with less. Ready for the challenge?

If you take a look at your closet now, how many pieces of clothing would you have in it? When was the last time you wore all of them? Can you live with only 33 items for 3 months?

Dressing dilemma.

Project 333 is a difficult one at least for the fashionistas who do not like to wear the same things. I, on the otherhand, was never a fan of owning to much clothes. That’s why I have a yearly check on all my clothes and donate the ones that I have not worn for more than 3 months. Wear ’em and throw ’em, most girls love this game. Buy clothes, wear them once or twice (some aren’t even worn at all) and them keep it inside the closet for ages. This project will make your wardrobe a lot less complicated. Life is easier with less. Ready for the challenge?

The Basics

When: Every three months
What: 33 items including clothing, accessories, jewelry, outerwear and shoes.
What not: these items are not counted as part of the 33 items – wedding ring or another sentimental piece of jewelry that you never take off, underwear, sleep wear, in-home lounge wear, and workout clothing.
How: Choose your 33 items, box up the remainder of your fashion statement, seal it with tape and put it out of sight.
What else: Consider that you are creating a wardrobe that you can live, work and play in for three months. Remember that this is not a project in suffering. If your clothes don’t fit or are in poor condition, replace them.

Here is an inspiration for you:

15 Looks with 13 Items
15 Looks with 13 Items

Quick Start Guides For Project 333

First Timers

  1. Take inventory.
  2. Working with your “I Love” pile of clothing, start to build your wardrobe. It will help to make a list on paper.
  3. Consider signature items like a trench coat or pair of boots. Your signature item might be your sunglasses. You will find that having one well made version of something will be far better than 10 of the knock-off.
  4. Once you start dressing with less, pay less attention to what you are wearing, or not wearing and more attention to something more important.
  5. You are welcome to incorporate some of the bonus rules listed below.
  • Use the first week of each phase if you need it to finish your collection and donation process.
  • Choose three additional items and put them aside in your closet. You may rotate these items in during the next three months, but three other items have to rotated out, and donated.
  • You may swap clothing with others participating in Project333. Post items on the Facebook page and connect with like minded fashionistas living with less.

    6.  Get connected and ask questions.

Hopefully this challenge will let you enjoy the freedom that comes with minimalism. I will be posting my take on minimal wardrobe from my month long travel next Wednesday.