THIS IS WHAT SUCCESS AGAINST THE ODDS LOOKS LIKE

This is What Success Against the Odds Looks Like

Here is Baby Joy Nicolas Yap — a hero of a young girl who has turned life’s mishaps into a life purpose. It’s been five years since we first met. Now she’s taking the boards for social work. Seeing her reminds me that love, devotion, persistence, and desire are dominant forces that are life-changing.

FEATHER PASSES AWAY

Feather Passes Away

My dearest bunny Feather –who had the hairdo of Donald Trump –passed away earlier this month. My home feels lonely again..empty and forlorn. How did such a little spirit fill up a whole home, I don’t know..but she did. Rambunctious and strong willed; sweet and feisty, with definitely her own opinions. Its good to come home to someone when its been a long day at work. May we all have someone to come home to and whom we call our safe harbours.

Child sitting in a room corner

Hindi Itim Ang Puso Ko, Uhaw Lang

“If Christmas is about gifts and vacations, then the true joy of Christmas will dissipate after all the food has been eating and the gifts opened’. If I thought of the season this way, I would simply enjoy the celebration but it would not have a true memory’. Today, I see and feel the profoundness of the season as the birth and love of the savior. That He is born…that He is born.”

When I was in an abusive situation at home, I looked forward to Christmas because it was a time that I would not be yelled at, hit, I would be given food and shown some love. A time when I could have a new clothes and people would say kind things to me. A time when my abusers would leave me alone because they would visit other relatives and I could be alone and not be on guard…walking on eggshells. God was nothing to me. He did not have meaning…I did not feel his presence. As I reflect on this now, I see myself as being left out by God. I was callous to Him because I did not feel His presence. Pero Hindi itim ang puso ko, uhaw lang. I longed for love, kindness, and gentleness…even for a single day. And even with all the blessings I gained that day, it was never enough for the year of torture I lived through. Kaya para sa akin, yung time na yon, walang Diyos. At wala akong paki sa kanya.

—— Johnathan, survivor for years of Incest

These reflections are from my clients who come as they put their lives together after years of abuse. They have so much judgement of themselves—whether they are good people worthy of love; whether they there is something more out there for them. Thats the challenge of working abuse cases —its the breaking through the haunting belief that the life of abuse is ‘the way it should be.’ Darkness is all they know and so better that than being dead…better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know.

Thank you God for not judging us and see the whole story of our lives. To seeing though our pain and understanding that we blame You for the lack in our lives. May You continue to check in on us from time to time. We need your support if we are going to make it.

Passages are Pathways to New Ways Life

Duchess arrived at bunny heaven on December 26, 2017 at 12;02pm. Witnessing her journey for a couple of weeks brought me to reflect how life would be without her. She was a companion, a rock, a soft spot, a gentle light in good times. Someone nice to come home to at end of a wary day. My life would change without my alter-ego. I will now have to eat bananas with no one to share with, sleep till 8am and not wake up at 5am to let her out of her bedroom. No longer trek to a grocery store to by fresh vegetables every fortnight. Hard and lonely times are ahead.

But then again, because she was such a big spirit, her passing has left a huge gap that i can fill with a multitude of things —crafts, new program designs, and some challenging goals. All this energy I got from seeing her enjoying and trusting life to be good to her.

Then, I reflect on my clients and how it must be difficult to end relationships with their past —whether the relationship was healthy or unhealthy—and how difficult it is for them to imagine “what else can i do with my life…this is all I know?” How difficult it is to leave addition to sex, drugs, and alcohol because they were also a source of comfort at the same time a cause for pain. How difficult it is to run away from an abusive relationship—specially if it is all one knows —to cast ones net into the unknown. Whether it was abusive or addictive or not, it was all they knew and all they somehow found comfort and meaning of life within.

Reflecting on that now, it is no wonder why abused women stay in relationships that damn their life. A hell they know is simply better than the unknown. Coaxing them to step into the light a little at a time takes all their strength.

WHERE THERE IS HOPE

Where There Is Hope

Where do they turn to for hope?  Listening to their stories weekly through in a growth group. Cannot help but marvel of their tenacity, love, sacrifice, and compassion for those in the journey and for themselves. Theirs are stories of finding joy in service, calm in the storms of life, unending hope and faith in the face of death…and they do this every every day. Thank you God for angels who are imperfect for they teach us much more than heavenly beings

CO-HOST

Co-Host

Every time I sit with a new client, I mentally calculate the amount of work that needs doing to heal their spirit, make whole again. Basing the program on scientific journals of treatment plans and outcomes, I feel overwhelmed : 6 to 12 months of twice a week meetings to deal with anxiety or depression; bi-weekly meetings to change behaviour or unhealthy thought patterns; one to two years to work on bulimia;  Non-ending support and after care for PTSD and Bullied kids; minimum 1 year work plan for leadership development. These past few days showed those scientific journals wrong! For reasons definitely beyond my understanding and capacity as a helper, my most challenging clients have made great strides, growing leaps and bounds. The supervisor is now a manager; the daughter who was raped finally has placed her perpetuator in jail; the young man who lived in hate and anger has moved to forgiveness; the middle-aged woman who hid her rape in shame has let go of the secret. Is the secret sauce my brilliance? my fantastic program? maybe the assessment tools? From where I am sitting, it may  part explain. But from a scientific perspective, something or Someone has to account for that outlier result. It is quite possible that the miracles of the season I see means I was never ever ever working alone. And that gives me comfort.

This all brings me to reflect on Mathew 11: Is it you Lord who is to come or are we to wait on someone else? John asks as he languishes in prison for doing God’s work. And Jesus responds, “Go and report to John what you hear and see; the blind receive sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the Gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who does not take offense at me” (Mt. 11:4-5). He could have scolded them for doubting Him, but He does not. Instead, Jesus instructs the disciples of John to look around them, to see the suffering of so many being healed. The point behind this point seems to be that no one but the Messiah would be able to do those things.

IT DIDN’T GO AS PLANNED…BUT THAT IS OK

It Didn’t Go As Planned… But That Is OK

Fast working on my internship at PGH, the psyche ward. Part of training to learn how to support different needs of the clients I serve. The challenges that this set of clients provide are heart-wrenching and require me to dig deep into myself —far beyond my mind and intellect. They offer me growth in spirit, compassion, and the opportunity to learn about how to rise up from the ground.

With such cases as psychosis, depression, grief, anxiety, intellectual limitations, basic coaching techniques and concepts are rendered hopelessly inadequate and what must takes its place is empathy, compassion, kindness, love. For many of these cases, their lives were swimming along happily —despite normal (albeit highly stressful compared to a Makati Life) pressures. But for some reason, the stresses and problems seemed to have just piled up and they were unable to cope. Broken, shamed, stigmatized, and alone, they found solace in family and friends who stood by them and never forgot to remind them of who they were and remain to be right below the surface of the disease. And, because of this steadfast belief and kindness, they have been able to resurrect, find the strength to engage life…remember their beauty from within and pull out of the darkness.

Many times, people in the corporate world poo-poo compassion, empathy, kindness, friendships, relationships …making them seem inconsequential to the bottomline. But, from where I stand today, I find that these are the more potent strengths and places of power from which to lead. It does matter who is beside you, that you have a hand to hold, and that relationships are formed, and that you have someone to trust. Things never go the way they should all the time. But if you have the relationships to see you through, they make the challenge manageable.

DREAM BIG

Dream Big

At the end of  the day at work, I am so bushed.  It takes tons of  energy to lend some emotional and psychological strength  to my clients who need to engage their life and chase their dreams. Its a long process they go through to re-create their lives—sometimes it feels like 1 step forward and 2 steps back.

What keeps me going is my clients find the tenacity and resilience within themselves to keep fighting on. How do they do it when all odds seem against them? They focus on a BIG DREAM– a gargantuan goal, chisel it down to small projects and work the steps to get complete the challenge.  This challenge is not for the weak: they bravely challenge themselves to behave in new ways, question beliefs, engage projects outside their comfort zone. They stare down failure and are victors over them. I have never met such a brave bunch.

This is a picture captures their dance of victory. Towards the end of a long journey, they celebrate their triumphs in jubilation —dancing for they are freer than they have ever been.

As i witness the jubilation, I remember again why I have chosen this career. And, I am once again invigorated to press on.

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