Write Yourself Alive: Day 25 – Bucket List

Today’s Prompt: Write a “Very Serious Bucket List” with 21 things that you must do before you die. Life is short. Writing can help you create alternative realities, but it can also help you recreate the one you are currently living and add more life to your years. Commit, in writing, to live all the life you have left to the fullest.

Wing over England, July 2014.
Wing over England, July 2014.
  1. Make my parents proud. Really and truly.
  2. Be able to stop, step back, and say, “Yes, I am happy with where I’m at, and everything I’ve accomplished.”
  3. Make as many people as I can laugh.
  4. Learn how to play the cello.
  5. Bungee jump.
  6. Live in England. Not just visit, live. Work. Breathe. Be.
  7. See the Aurora Borealis in person.
  8. Extensively visit Middle Earth. I mean. New Zealand.
  9. Bask in midnight sun in Norway.
  10. Tour German, Austrian, and Hungarian Christmas markets.
  11. Roadtrip from Victoria to St. John’s.
  12. Step foot on six continents. (I love you Antarctica, but I won’t lose sleep over not paying you a visit).
  13. The Fat Duck. Noma. Arzak. The French Laundry. Alinea. Eleven Madison Park. I’ll keep these on one #. Point is: Mmm.
  14. Learn archery.
  15. Become a mom.
  16. (Professionally) record music.
  17. Get published.
  18. Pay off any debts I or my parents may ever have.
  19. Forgive, love, and accept myself not just in spite of any flaws but because of them.
  20. Spend as much time as I can with my best friend.
  21. Love. Love love love love love with all my heart.

Write Yourself Alive: Day 24 – To My Little One(s)

Today’s Prompt: A letter to your (future) children: If you already have them, think of them. If you don’t (yet) or never will, imagine them. What reflections or pieces of advice from your own imperfect human experience so far, would you give them? What are the most relevant life lessons you want them to remember? Write them a one- page heartfelt letter.

Note to self.
Sage advice.

Dear kiddo(s),

Hi! I hope you’ve had a good day today, and that you’re enjoying school and all the fun stuff that come with it. If you’re reading this, then it means you’re in your later teens (or you’ve found this old post on mom’s website…) and I’ve decided it’s the best time to hand you this letter. Maybe I’ve already told you this to your face, who knows. Here goes.

I love you. No matter what you’ve done, no matter what you’ve yet to do or not do, I love you and everything about you. You’re a gift in my life, and I’m blessed to have you. I truly am. It may not feel that way sometimes. I might be grouchy some mornings. We’ve surely had little tiffs by now. But even on the days that you may question it, I love you. Hell, the likelihood is that my love is what pushed me to do whatever it is that pissed you off in the first place! Be patient. I should have been more patient with my parents.

Let’s meet one another halfway. In patience, kindness, understanding. Everything you’re going through? I was there. I was experiencing it. I’m not an alien that was born an adult, you know. I was 17 once. Whether or not you believe me, I understand… or am trying my damn hardest to understand.

Do what you love. I’m not going to ask you to be a doctor or lawyer or teacher or physiotherapist or… [insert occupation here]. Find your passion. And I completely understand if you have no idea what the hell that is yet. I’m 26 now and I’m still not entirely sure myself. That’s okay. I’m going to do whatever I can to help you figure that out. Extracurriculars? Sure. Arts? Sports? You bet. Music? Hell yes. You might do something, and realize halfway through that you wanna do something entirely different. It’s okay. I’ll understand. I’ll help you as best as I can.

Travel the heck out of the world. By the time you’re at good traveling age, I’m hoping that technology will have made travel even easier than it currently is. I hope it’s more affordable and accessible. Travel the world. See the world. Explore cities and cultures. Do missionary work. Eat in pubs and holes-in-the-wall. Eat at Michelin starred restaurants. Look at art. Visit ruins. Understand yesterday in order to appreciate today and help tomorrow. I hope that by the time you read this, I’ll have done the same.

Ask me for help. It’s what I’m here for. It’s what I’m hoping for. I want to be a part of your life. Don’t ever think otherwise. At the same time, I’ll respect it if you don’t. Barring any life-scarring/threatening decisions, I’ll let you figure things out on your own if you’d rather do that.

Laugh. Smile. Drink lots of tea. Or coffee. Or orange juice. Or water. Whatever floats your boat. It’s these little things that will bring joy to your heart. Not the giant career, not the big salary. At the end of the day, it’s not about what you have. It’s about what you did, and who you did it with.

I’m sure there’s more to say, but I’ll keep this brief so you can get back to whatever it was you were doing before you read this. But before I go, remember this one big thing:

Love with all your heart.

I hope you do all things – living life included – with love and passion. Love as much as I love you – which is infinitely.


Mom 🙂

Write Yourself Alive: Day 23 – The Academic

Today’s Prompt: Write a two-three paragraph praise note about your favourite author, in the third person. Mention what is peculiar or special about their style, how you met or fell in love with their work and what their writing does to you, how they inspire you to write your own self alive. If they are still living, send it to them.

Standing in the Medieval Library of Merton College, open only to Mertonians and to the public by private tour. Dating back to the 14th Century, it is the oldest academic library in the world still in regular use, and was a go-to for Merton professor, JRR Tolkien. Oxford, UK, July 2014.
Standing in the Medieval Library of Merton College, open only to Mertonians and to the public by private tour. Dating back to the 14th Century, it is the oldest academic library in the world still in regular use, and was a go-to for Merton professor, JRR Tolkien. Oxford, UK, July 2014.

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien. Writer. Professor. Poet. He is the creator of a legendarium that has influenced readers, writers, and movie-goers around the world over the last six decades, and will continue to influence us for many years to come. Though Jen had known of The Hobbit book in her childhood, her upbringing in Manila (by two parents who aren’t fond readers) did not bring her in direct contact with Tolkien’s work until one night in December 2000, as she sat in a movie theatre. The film was so insignificant, in hindsight, considering she can’t recall what it was, but what she does recall was seeing this trailer before it:

Jen was amazed. The sad thing was that her first thought was, “It’s like Harry Potter, except bigger and more badass.” Yes, she’s well aware that she ought to be flogged for such a comparison (no disrespect to Potter, but the two are ultimately incomparable). Point being, her near-twelve year old self was entirely enraptured.

Fast-forward to January 2003. Weeks prior, she had just watched The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. It was only at this point that she finally knuckled down and read the book from cover to cover. Many late nights were spent (some with a flashlight under the blankets) as she read chapter upon chapter, wanting and needing to know what happened next to Frodo, to Aragorn, to the Rohirrim, to Faramir. She’s relieved, to be honest, that she chose to do so after seeing the first two films, rather than attempting it as an eleven year old. At fourteen, Jen had her brain wrapped around literature far better, and her personal interests were far more fixated on history. This interest is what helped her digest the text far better. It’s heavy, to be sure; it’s written in an encyclopaedic way – and that’s quite possibly what makes Jen so incredibly fond of it.

As a worldbuilder herself, Jen absolutely adored Tolkien’s attention to detail. While many would find themselves off-put by his writing style, perhaps taken out of the universe by his technical writing, she found herself all the more immersed in it. Tolkien’s work – rambles and overwriting and all – felt like a proper history, a proper record of the past. If you’d told her today that the Shire, Rohan, Gondor… these places and its peoples existed centuries ago, she’d say, “Well… that explains a lot.” Tolkien’s work feels real, regardless of the fact that it’s considered “high fantasy.”

Tolkien’s work is an inspiration to Jen. While she knows she doesn’t have the know-how to create a world – complete with languages, cultures, customs – the way he did, she can say that his books have allowed her to see the world in a different way. Everything is brighter, more colourful, wondrous, and in equal measures dark, intense, and awe-striking in Jen’s world view now, far more than it ever was before.