Thursday, December 30, 2010

DECEMBER in a Catholic country!

Most people don't know that I started boycotting Christmas about 7 years ago - I'm just not a big fan of the commercialism of it all. And the fact that I don't consider myself Christian, but rather as someone who is a believer of all faiths; it's fair to say that it's hard to get into the religious aspect of the holidays. Yes, you can call me Scrooge if you'd like. However, having said that, it's almost impossible not to give in to the whole thing when this country has been counting down to Christmas day since September! So, I dusted off my Santa costume and decided, what the heck, might as well try to get into it...

The fun stuff:
  • There are lights everywhere. And I lurve lights. I'm generally distracted by shining bright things and they're on gates, coconut trees, windows, etc. I'm particularly a big fan of the Filipino "parols" (beautiful illuminated star-like things).
  • Christmas carolers - In the province and small towns, basically people just randomly walk around singing carols. Most are terrible, but some are pretty good and definitely entertaining.
  • Getting to spend it with family (bringing merienda for Nanay & crew) and the Dela Cruzes (Champagne and Celine).
  • Going to Church - Maybe fun isn't the right term, but in one I learned about Christian symbols and on Christmas eve there was a Nativity play. I think I've definitely topped up on the Christianity quota for the decade.
  • Be a good "Cruz" and hearing that I'm God-sent.
  • Getting boozy and going Christmas shopping. Thanks Dana and to the margaritas!
  • Finding my nanny Ate Ne (who took care of me since I was a baby til I was 20 - ok, by then she wasn't taking care of me so to speak but you get the point). That was an awesome reunion!
The stuff I miss:
  • My friends. I do get lonely and it's tremendously difficult to be neurotic when people don't know you very well...I miss how Yasmeen gets me, hearing inspiration from Chrissy, Astrid's giggles, drinking wine with Jen, traveling with Yuko etc....although I do have my very own psychiatrist here (lol. Thanks Bing)
  • Snow. Yup, I miss the cold. It's easy to forget it's winter when you're spending the holidays sweating.
  • Home - I've realized how much I truly do love Vancouver.
  • Xmas Dinner - Turkey, stuffing, Baileys and coffee, drinking with Duazel ;)
  • Not having scars on my legs from mosquito bites. I've spent a lot of money on OFF and I'm still being eaten to death.
Maligayang Pasko at Manigong Bagong Taon = Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Church Lights.

Finding my was like Make a Wish

With Celine loading on Filipino treats.

You don't need to be religious to have Faith.

Baby Jesus in lights.

Nanay's smile - the reason why I stayed here til the Holidays.

Proof that I got into the Christmas Spirit :)

2010 and the Reality of Traveling:

So the reality is that traveling for most of 2010 is this - It's both great and challenging at the same time. Sometimes it's glorious with moments of epiphanies and excitement. Other times there are also periods of boredom and frustrations. Its got its own set of challenges. Mostly, I try not to complain, especially since I'm well aware of the fact that luckily, "I'm living the life" so to speak! I feel enlightened by the things I'm learning. I've realized that I struggle a lot about mostly everything...but when I get to it, I do it BIG! Lol. That said, I appreciate the fact that I'm going to come out of all my travels wiser, smarter and definitely a much better person - more assured and definitely more worldly. Not bad things at all ;)

2010 was a tremendous year. It was very empowering having chosen to spend it traveling. I got to do most everything that I wanted to and it's amazing to have a year and actually feel fulfilled by how you've spent it. Among many things, I had the chance to:
  • Experience a vast and exciting new continent
  • Find zen and rediscover my zest for life, battle some demons and come out stronger and wiser
  • Eat and drink in one of my new favorite cities, Buenos Aires
  • Dance at the largest street party in the world during Carnival
  • Trek for 4 days and watch the sunrise in Machu Pichu
  • Learn about adaptability from the animals in the Galapagos
  • Pick up a few new skills and hobbies
  • See and be overwhelmed by the beauty of Iguazu Falls
  • Be challenged, touched and grow as a person
  • Live more freely, openly and honestly
  • Have some great conversations about everything - faith, God, purpose, sexuality, politics, drugs - the kind that make you a better person
  • Reconnect with loved ones and make new life long friends from around the world
With the year and this decade coming to an end, it's exciting to think about what 2011 will bring. I'm determined with greet the New Year working on health, happiness, love and while I'm at it, accomplish some goal setting and achieving. I wish for everyone to be blessed with all great things that make them feel fulfilled. I think we all want to live great lives feeling like we have purpose and passion. Although I'm no closer to any answers I thought I would to some of my questions, I have learned that if we all take the time to appreciate and be thankful for the chance to improve and truly take advantage of another day then we're pretty lucky. It's that sense of optimism and hope that I wish for everyone to have.

Happy New Year! Bring on 2011!!