29 January, 2017

Making 2017 count

Gōng Xǐ Fā Cái - 恭禧发财! Four weeks into 2017, I'm celebrating my 'second' New Year. This also happens to be my sixth CNY since I joined the company, we'll call it Company M, where I'm connected with. A lot of you know that it's a Chinese-owned organization. Lucky me, this second New Year gives me a chance to write Making 2017 Count.Ü

I have been reading my 2016 year-end blog post these past couple of days and seeing the people who were with me in 2016 never fails to make me smile. Why am I saying this? I struggled the first two weeks of 2017 and I hated every minute of it. I usually am a positive and optimistic person. I easily adapt to change, except this one time. I was out of it the first few days and I am disappointed at myself for not being able to comfortably move forward with this one huge change that's happening right now. Late last year, someone I look up to and have gotten close with made a decision to choose a different path. It was a big blow for me plus other friends at work who were blessed to have gotten to know him beyond our professional lives

Happy 2017

We were like family and it took a lot of courage for me to face the reality of his decision. I was in denial for a while, but I knew that I owe it to myself to move past this. Step 1 was to allow myself to feel sad. Pain bonded the rest of the 'family' that he left behind. Once I started to act like a grown-up about it, I started to feel better. And now my new page is filled with excitement with a pinch of anxiety. I know that things happen for a reason even if the reasons always come after. Instead of toying with ideas of leaving and running away, I look forward to discovering whatever good is there for choosing to stay. Waiting was never one of my strongest points so I hope this comes to pass soon.

It can be easy to get sucked in by these things. It can be tempting to just leave yet once you remind yourself of the bigger picture, you see how pitiful an exit running away can be. We're just human and we can easily get seduced to self-destructive pleasures. So no matter how terrible a situation is, I always make a conscious effort to choose to see the good over the bad stuff. My Chinese zodiac forecast says that 2017 isn't going to be that nice for me. I almost threw a fit when someone told me about this. You see, I have tendency to over-think so to counter this and to continue to channel my energies to being positive, there are 2 things that I'd like to do for myself through my blog this year.

01. Making the Year Count
This is an annual, start of the year ( or start of the Chinese New Year in my case ) goal-setting post that I am reviving. Bloggers have different names for this, but a lot of us do it. I first did mine in 2014 when I stumbled upon a link-up hosted by Kelli Murray. After 2014, I missed the next two years.Ö

02. Things I Love Sundays.
This one is a count-your-blessings journal thing that I learned from Musings in Milan. Gratitude Journals have become a popular practice everywhere, even Oprah Winfrey has one.Ü I believe that gratitude does magic. I came across this article from Abundance & Happiness and it talked about how gratitude attracts happiness. You may want to check it out if you have extra net time, it's a good read.

What is something you want to change, or a goal you want to set for the New Year, and what is your plan for making it happen?
If there's one thing I failed miserably at last year, that was taking care of myself. I must have gained at least 7-lbs and it got to a point when some people would bluntly tell me how I got "rounder". Of course I was annoyed and I noticed how it was affecting my confidence. I was working out but I guess it wasn't so effective because I lost discipline with what I ate. Come mid-November, when I returned from my Japan trip, that's when I decided to first cut down on junk food. Despite my thyroid troubles, as of today, my total weight loss = 4.2 pounds.

Setting the confidence issue and vanity aside, I am doing this for myself. I have no plans of getting married and have no plans of having children. If I want to live a long life and for me to make my travel dreams come true, wellness is important. I intend to continue what I'm doing right now for at least 3 more months. If I stay on track, I'm guessing I'd lose at least 10 more pounds. Then I'd go back to training to tone these muscles. Wish me luck.Ü

Many people choose a word to reflect on, live by, or aspire to for the New Year. Let us know your word, how you decided upon it, and how you hope to incorporate it into 2017.
I started to think about this way back in December, but waited until after the first few days of the year for a word that would be most meaningful to me. This transition right now has a lot to do with this. I don't think I will ever be fearless, but I would like to be able to always choose to confront my fears and to act on them in both big & small ways. I bet you're shocked with what I just wrote. My family, friends, and people around me know me to be an extra-strong woman, but guys, supergirls get scared, too.Ö For whatever it'll be, I want my heart to remain strong and my spirit to stay brave with anything that life throws at me. So friends, the word that calls out to me the strongest for 2017 is Courage.

I will make 2017 count by: Live in Gratitude AND Spread the Love.
Peace + Love + Good Vibes. RUSS.

Making 2014 Count

19 January, 2017

Food Trip: The Best of 2016

Hello beautiful people! How are your first 3 weeks? I can't believe that another year's come and gone. It's time for my yearly round-up of my Top 5 comfort slash favorite munchies. You're probably wondering - what was I thinking?! I know, I know. Believe me, it was super difficult to narrow everything down to just 5 because of all the trips that we had last year plus I met new people who eventually became good friends. Food's clearly one of the foundations of our friendship. We've been successful in trying out a bunch of restaurants in Metro Manila, Tagaytay, and even as far as Baguio! Then there's P, who took a huge leap in 2016 when he started to explore beyond his usual bacon, spam, burger, and chicken meals. 2016 was definitely a great 'food year'.

Food Trip: The Best of 2016

What I'm sharing is not a comprehensive list, but it should be enough to make you want to try 'em in one of the restos near you. My Top 5 Food List for 2015 was based on goodies that I said I could eat everyday and I'll never get tired of having them. I tweaked 2016's list a bit. Many of the things I ate in 2016 each had a beautiful story behind it. My food round-up includes local favorites, things that I used to neglect, got to try, and now love. There are also healthy stuff that I should have started eating years ago. This list does not have anything sweet though. I used to be 'dessert girl', but towards the latter part of 2016, I made this lifestyle change: no rice, no Coke Light & Coke Zero, and if possible no super sweet desserts.

So, what do I have for you guys? From classic comfort food and healthier choices to delectable Asian flavors and something pretty fancy. I couldn't resist sharing them here in my blog. I hope that in one of your future travels, you get to try them too. Curious? Go ahead and feast your eyes as you join me in my Food Trip: The Best of 2016.

Peranakan Laksa
Discovered thru #SingaporeInvites in Joo Chiat, Singapore • Read: Laksa Love
Girlfriend Tip: You'll find the best & authentic Peranakan Laksa at 328 Katong Laksa.

Taking a break from holiday food.Ü Salad Stop's Big Bird is a winner 👌🏼

A photo posted by R U S S (@ruussso) on

Healthier Snacks from Salad Stop
My favorite branches are in Alabang Town Center & PowerPlant Mall in Makati.
Girlfriend Tip: Their serving is really generous that you can actually split it for 2 meals.

Smalls Bites and Light Refreshments
I'm a late bloomer. This is something that I started to enjoy come end of the year
Girlfriend Tip: Hotel Jen Manila has afternoon tea from 2:00PM to 4:00PM.
You get exclusive access to the Club Lounge if you're staying in a Club Room.

Japan's Favorite Ramen: Ichiran Ramen
Discovered in Japan's heaven for gastronomists, Osaka.Ü
Girlfriend Tip: Try not to get rattled when you're ordering via the ticket machine.

Beef that's Better than Kobe: Matsusaka Beef
There is absolutely no way that you should go on a trip to Japan & not try Matsusaka Beef.
Girlfriend Tip: Forget about your diet. You just need to have this with rice and sake.

Food has always been one of the reasons why I wanted to travel. Food and travel are like milk and cookies, they always go together. And, it's always a pleasure to eat good food. The discovery of new culinary experiences always give me a different kind of sensory thrill which I always found in every city and country that I go to.   Peace + Love + Good Vibes. RUSS.

Food Trip: The Best of 2015

31 December, 2016

I will never forget the good times, 2016

Conquer was my word for 2016. There were a few times when I thought that I wasn't going to be able to live by it. I picked a strong word, too strong, that there were days when I just wanted to be curled up in bed and not be bothered by anyone. Kinda like a shutdown I-dont-care situation. When I think about it, that would be me over-reacting. Well, just a little because 2016 is like all other years: it is full of challenges. And right now, as I look back, I feel good because aside from the bold things that this year threw at me, it also brought me so much joy, love, opportunities, clarity, and new friends.

Thank You, 2016

On Work
Huge accomplishments at work go with 2016. It wasn't a walk in the park, but I'm glad that I saw them through as these are things that I hold important in my career as a Marketing practitioner and branding enthusiast. None of it would have been possible without the help of the people who supported me and the guidance of one of the most brilliant men in Philippine real estate that I know. I'm still a workaholic and I don't see this as a bad thing. For me, it simply means that I continue to be focused, driven, and motivated. I am constantly bombarded with questions from friends and peers in the industry why I stuck it out with the company I'm with right now. It's simple: I still enjoy and love what I do. When you're in that kind of situation, you find ways to make things work. It isn't always about being nice because not everyone is going to like you. So what. That's made me do 2 things differently:

1) I let go of my fear to ask for help. Asking for help does not mean you're weak.
2) I took courage to speak my mind and to say the truth even if I know that it won't win me cookie points.

In 2016, GoD blessed me with new bosses and new peers that I was able to genuinely call 'family' in my second home. Every bump that we went through was easy because you know that there are strong people with good hearts who have your back. Ever heard of Jack Johnson's song, Better Together? It kind of describes how I feel towards them.Ü "It's always better when we're together. Yeah, we'll look at them stars when we're together."

On Being An Adult
I'm grateful for everything that's happened in 2016. I know I am a different person ... definitely a better me! I'm not as reactive and am now less combative. Since I value the relationships I have whether it's on a professional or personal level, at times when I know that that I have every right to be angry, I choose not to because I know that throwing a fit will neither change nor make the situation better. It took a while, but I'm glad to have mastered the art of walking away from unnecessary and irrelevant conflict.

On Life & Relationships
On days when I felt like giving up, it was the people who surrounded me that made me want to soldier on. I didn't want to let any of them down. I don't think I was ever the type of person who'd let others down. To conquer means to be able to gracefully roll with the punches and it does not mean that you have to face them alone. This is just one of the many life lessons I learned from one of my favorite people in the world, JFS. In the process, I learned to delegate, to be more patient, to choose my battles, and most importantly, to once again trust in the goodness of others.

With just a few minutes til 2017, let's time-hop a bit and revisit some of the moments of one of the happiest years of my life.

First Wedding This Year. Finding Love When You Least Expect It
This was the first wedding that I went to in 2016. When I was told
that France & Tin were getting married, I just knew that I can't miss seeing this union.
I would love to share more about their love story, but yeah, let's leave it at that.
What's important is they get their happy ending and their happily-ever-after.Ö

Maramaing Salamat, Singapore Tourism Board.
I was in Singapore ( again ) this year.Ü Do you guys remember the #SingaporeInvites contest
that I joined back in 2015? Yup, I was one of the 25 winners. The lovely people from STB
were instrumental to a sorta reunion with good friends that I have not seen in a looong time.
Traveling always brings people closer. We certainly can't wait to be back. • Read More

Metal Mouth Again. And there is nothing wrong with it.
There were people who said that I didn't need it because my teeth were straight,
but when you grew up being teased by people from the higher batch,
because of your teeth, you never really get over that trauma. When I noticed that
my teeth 'flared', I knew that I had to find a new ortho. So far, so good.

Missing these guys .... #GoodTimes

A photo posted by R U S S (@ruussso) on

Family Time is Always LOVE.
My Mom's older sister was in PH for the death anniversary of my grandmother.
One good thing that happens whenever there is a balikbayan is how there is always
extra-extra family time. I saw cousins that I have not seen in a while and boy,
they're all grown-up! How fun were the good ol' times when we were all little kids.

Manila's Fittest. Training for my First Kettlebell Tournament.
I remember how excited I was when my name was chosen to join Manila's Fittest.
KBs are my favorite and even if the training was almost gruesome, it felt great.
to get my groove back. Unfortunately, I got sick days before the tournament and was not
able to join. Sayang talaga. I bet it would have been an awesome experience.

Second Wedding This Year. #LesMikeHappyEnding
This wedding that we attended joins my Top 3 best weddings of couple friends.
I met the other friends of P. It's always great to meet the people he grew up with.

Unlikely Friends. Unexpected Friendships. Super Women Unite.
I always had this sort of 'shield' or 'wall' when it comes to people in Sales in our office.
This year, new and beautiful friendships were made. I don't know how it happened,
but it just happened. And I'm glad it happened. I really enjoy my time when I'm with
Susan G. & Frances J. Dinners take forever — the kind that you wish won't end.Ü

This just happened. 😜 #BW #BTS #PhotoShoot #Tagaytay #NoChoiceJustGrind

A photo posted by R U S S (@ruussso) on

Moldex360 Photo Shoot. This was one for the books.
We, Sir Joey Santos and I, fondly called this, our legacy. Months after the shoot,
our legacy is slowly happening. I'm proud of this and will definitely share with you
what we've done. I'm proud of it. I am also happy because this was instrumental
in giving me the opportunity to work with one of the best men in real estate in PH.

My First Mid-Autumn Festival.
This is a memorable event for P and I. He'd always invite me to go with him
to Mid-Autumn parties but I always make some lame excuse not to go.
This year, we went to our first Mid-Autumn Festival and wow, I enjoyed!
We came home with a lot of treats, prizes, and the Zhong Guan. • Read More

10.25.16 Sunset. All in a day's work.

A photo posted by R U S S (@ruussso) on

Another Career Milestone in My Real Estate Journey.
This is part of 'our legacy' that I mentioned earlier. This was at GRS, during my first-ever
drone shoot. It was one of the most stressful that I've done in my real estate career.
I remember how I was almost in tears during the first viewing of the corporate AVP.
This day, the universe ( except for DFA ) conspired to make this long overdue wish happen.

Fall 2016 🍂

A photo posted by R U S S (@ruussso) on

Japan Take 3, Yet Still So Many FIRSTS.
Japan will always have a special place in my heart. We are super lucky that we were able
to visit again this year. It's our third time in Japan and second time in Osaka,
yet it still feels like we're here the first time & it also never fails to teach us to expand
our perspectives. Thank you for making us experience the magic of FALL. See you in 2017.

Someone's always saying in goodbye in December.
December is supposed to be a month of smiles. Although for me, for the second year,
someone I look up to and have become really close had to say goodbye. Sniff. Sniff.
As I write this post, I obviously have not gotten over this person's decision to leave,
It still sucks, but life goes on. "Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end."

I end 2016 with a positive, thankful vibe the same way as I did last year and in previous years. I am taking a minute to not ask for anything but to continue to be grateful for the opportunities, for all the blessings, for everyone who's still in my life, for new friendships, and for everything that has been given to me. Despite some sad moments, 2016 has still been good to my family and I. Each time I feel like I can't go on any longer, I take time look at the bigger picture and realize that I still have no reason to complain. I promise to always do my best to be a good person even if others are not.Ü

To YOU ( the person reading this post ), I am happy that we counted another year of being virtually together. I wasn't able to blog that much this year, but I hope to write more often in 2017. I genuinely hope to meet you in person in one of my future travels. From my blog to yours, may you have a blessed, peaceful, and adventure-filled 2017 ahead. Happy New Year beautiful people! xoxo  ☮ Peace + ❥ Love + Good Vibes. RUSS.

2015: Purposeful
2014: Family
2013: Forgiveness