Where I am At – The road out of burnout

I used to get excited at (or at least liked) the thought of baking or cooking something I would love to eat — oat bread, brownies, gluten free pancakes, pesto sauce, etc. This morning, I suddenly craved for pesto, thought of making some pasta and homemade sauce, but then started to feel anxious. How am I going to make it when I don’t have basil leaves? I have to go to the grocery then. Seriously, I don’t feel like going to the grocery. Suppose I was able to get some, I’d have to put them in the blender with some nuts and garlic after I figure out how much ingredients to use. Hmmm. I don’t really feel like figuring things out right now. I don’t really feel like messing it up if I make a mistake. And best of all, I don’t really feel like cleaning up after I’m done. I was on leave for an entire week, sleeping and lazy-ing it off and I still feel tired. In fact, I think I’m mildly depressed and burnt out. (Did I get the spelling right?) The things I used to love to do, I dread doing. I have thought of pouring out my thoughts into my blog for several months and it’s just now that I was finally able to get myself writing.

What happened?

Some three years ago I started out on a strict diet due to a medical diagnosis that took me and my family by surprise. I didn’t want to get a surgery and so I went for the naturopathic alternative. On my first few months, my doctor put me on something similar to a ketogenic diet, but at the same time pescatarian. And then I shifted to a sugar-free, mostly whole foods, vegan diet. And then just months ago, to a mostly pescatarian but sometimes vegan diet. Last year, I also started working full time. I would prepare my food during weekends or sometimes week nights. I’d go to the wet market and/or grocery, and sometimes went the distance to get more affordable produce. I would even bake gluten free stuff. I studied recipes and did lots of trials and errors. I wasted money on failed recipes and vegetables that rotted inside the fridge because I had no more time (or energy) to prepare them. Sometimes my mom or my dad would help. Most of the time it’s all just me.

Sometime last year, I also started visiting an herbalist around 2-4 times per month. We were allowed 15 leaves per year (sick and vacation leaves combined). I used up most of them for my herbalist appointments. Durning the past few months, I would go on leave out of sheer tiredness mentally and emotionally. I dreaded meal times. I would often find myself without anything to eat during lunch break. I would end up cheating, e.g. eating something that’s not good for me, or overspending, e.g. consuming my budget weeks in advance. This lifestyle was hard on me emotionally as I would struggle with guilt and fear and desperation most meal times. At first, when I was still able to prepare my salads, fruits, and homebaked desserts, I had less guilt. But I struggled with my schedule and had very little time for anything else, even rest or sleep. When I slacked, I struggled with guilt and frustration and fear. Every. Time. It drained me. “No packed meal” when the clock strikes “time to eat” or when my tummy starts to rumble would send me to a mild panic. At other times, the dilemma was whether to cook or sleep. There are days when I would be so sleepy from my supplements or insomnia (yeah started to get this one too) and hungry at the same time that I either sleep my hunger off, wait ’til I’ve cooked up something (after going to the grocery), or just grabbed whatever’s available at the resto downstairs (aka cheat again).

The Cheating Dilemma
Photo by Charles 🇵🇭 on Unsplash

But when you come to think of it, it’s not all that bad. I struggled with overspending but I never ran out of cash. The worst thing I had to deal with financially was the fact that my savings before I started working looked almost the same as my savings today. At least, I did not get into debt! I couldn’t say though that my medical condition is way better. It worsened a little bit three months into my new job but gradually improved afterwards and then sort of reached a plateau with my lab tests improving or worsening a bit month after month. Recently though, I could feel a prominent mass in my abdomen and it is very distracting whenever I’m on my belly or on my back. It feels heavy and is very disturbing. It’s my new source of mild stress.

For like 2 months now, I have been cheating a lot on food that are bad for me. I think it’s the burnout and stress and frustration just weakening my will to resist “comfort foods.” It’s a vicious cycle.

Two months ago, I came across an article which listed the symptoms for burnout. I am proud to say I passed the test by 100%. (lol). For the first time in months, I found vocabulary for what I was going through. But the cause of burnout was not just my diet but also my work. No, I wasn’t overworked. In fact, I get to leave the office on time every single day, unless I choose to do a little bit of overtime just to not disrupt my flow when in the middle of a task.

The cause was the increase in administrative tasks. They were writing tasks with an administrative bent. And they were not very creative. I swear, if some people find “difficult” work difficult, I find “easy” work difficult. Months ago, work started to feel like slow death. I was tweaking templates. It felt like tracing stencil over and over. And although stencil is fun, applying the principle to writing makes no fun for me. The terrible part for me was I’m not even sure if I am “making a difference” and using my strengths and skills. Something in me was screaming out, “I’m not wired for this kind of work.” I thought that for sure someone else would be very happy to be doing what I was doing. Why not just give this job to someone who will be happy to take over it?

Don’t get me wrong. I am thankful for my job and I do not believe that work always has to be fun. But there is a certain monotony and loss of faith in what you do that will kill your passion and cause you to lose sight of what you’re good at. These are things that need to be resolved, not brushed aside. I am not a fan of complaining, nor am I a proponent of “find the perfect job” philosophy. There is no such thing as a perfect job and workplace. There is a place though where you will grow because the conditions are a “perfect” as there is enough discomfort that will stretch you and a certain comfort because you’re doing what you’re wired for. Notwithstanding, I would encourage honesty. Dissatisfaction with work should not always lead to burnout. Lack of quality rest might. Moreover, dissatisfaction with work may be resolved with acceptance or coping (for things that may be causing discomfort but are really good for you) or initiative (to cause change that may be good for your department or the entire organization).

But when you combine the two — dissatisfaction and lack of rest — you know it’s not headed somewhere good.

The interesting thing was around this time, God also spoke to me to start asking Him what’s in my heart. And just a month (or more) after I started praying (asking) a certain request to God, He answered it with a new job! This does not solve my burnout problem though, and my diet problem. But God has taken me thus far and I am believing for full recovery from burnout before I start in my new job roughly 5 weeks from now.

Now going back to the pesto sauce. After writing all this, I suddenly feel like whipping up some pesto doesn’t sound too tiring anymore. Maybe it’s because you listened to my rant. (Thank you very much.)

Yesterday, I was at the mall preparing my employment requirements. For the first time in months, I walked around the mall window shopping and just chillin’ like I’ve never done in such a long time. Imagine, for the past 12 months, all I did was work day in and day out that a leisurely walk in a mall was out of the question. Every time I would buy something, I always buy in a hurry. Hayst. So now I’m starting to re-learn a new rhythm. I need to rest and slow down and do things that put no pressure on me whatsoever. I am learning to be intentional on this. And I am learning to prioritize it.

I have also vowed to schedule a regular vacation from work regardless of whether I feel tired or not. It’s my personal campaign against burnout. It’s a workaholic’s rehabilitation program. And hopefully, it will become my new habit.

I’m not yet sure if I should do the pesto sauce because it’s raining hard outside and I don’t have a car to go to the grocery. In any case, I think I’ll just cheat again on some regular pastry with lots of sugar in it!

P.S. I’ve been praying for a cook who will prepare my meals for me! We (my family) prayed for it for months and finally found one! Oh happy day! God thank you for your faithfulness!

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Not in your push

It’s not in your push. You’re not strong enough to push that far. It’s not in your push. It’s in your position. And I want to position yourself inside of love this morning. And let the the confidence that you are loved by the One who created you straighten your back to stand in this day. – Steffany Gretzinger

 

The river less travelled

I would be exaggerating if say that the “road” to Palanan is difficult. The trip is lengthy, yes. The last leg had no roads, yes. But it is possible. Actually, I found crossing-the-river part most fun.

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He’s the son of the man running the boat. I kept taking photos of him to the point that he got conscious. I found him rather photogenic. I’ve always wanted a younger brother too…

Yet, it is still a road less travelled for both leisure seekers and church ministers. Here’s a summary of the journey:

  • 12 (or more, or less if the force is with you) -hour bus from Manila to Tuguegarao
  • 5-minute tricycle from bus stop to airport
  • 45-minute flight in a 15- or 20-seater from Tuguegarao Airport to Palanan Airport (with possible 2-hour flight delay depending on whether the plane from Palanan was able to get enough passengers to fly to Tuguegarao and vise-versa… Yes some flights are like jeepney rides, waiting for the seats to fill up)
  • 10-minute tricycle from the airport to the river
  • 25 to 40 minute motor boat from one side of the river to Dibungko, our destination. (If you’re going to Divilacan, a popular beach, it takes about 2 hours.)

Moreover, flights from Tuguegarao Airport to Palanan only happen 3x a week and they don’t jive with the Manila-Tuguegarao flights in case you want to take a plane to Tuguegarao.

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Yes. We paid P2,500 to risk our lives. No pun or boasting intended. The last time our host’s daughter took this flight (few years back), they almost didn’t make it.

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See that zigzag trail between the mountain ranges? That’s the river, Palanan River.

The flights are not cheap either. They cost P2,500 one way. And yes, they rarely leave on time. I spent roughly P8,000 for my trip back and forth last April 2017. By the way, these flights were also popular for having had crash landings.

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Sailing down the river. My favorite part.

 

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We docked here and climbed those steps to the village.

At the village, there aren’t millions of people, only a simple village. There’s no crusade or hotel or VIP rooms. When you go, you go not to be seen but to see. And to tell them that you see them. That they are not forgotten.

But for sure, there are some of us who love this kind of challenge. Like I said, it didn’t feel difficult at all when I first went there last year. The only struggle I had was the way back, with me needing to catch my Saturday morning class (for my graduate studies) back in Manila.

Why I’m Going Back

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The Walk Up. From the river, we climb these 100 something steps to get to the village. This used to be a hiking trail with no stairs way back when the first missionaries came here some two decades ago!

Well, first of, Duane, my former YWAM leader, a pioneer in the mission work in the said village, invited me again to come over. I was hesitant at first because of my health condition and my strict diet but the Lord touched my heart again and reminded me of how precious these people are to Him.

Let me tell you about a few of them whom I met there. Forgive me, I have been struggling with my ability to remember things because of my health condition. I may not remember some of the names correctly, but the faces, the faces for sure I will remember.

Ishmael

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I won’t tell which one but Ishmael is in this pic. 🙂

On one of my talks (It was about dreaming big in life), I asked for a few of them to share with the group what their dream is. One of them, a young man maybe around 17 years old, really wanted to share but we could all see that something was holding him back. He stood up and thought for a long time before he finally went up front.

After I handed him the mic, he said in Tagalog, “My dream is to be…(pause)… My dream is to be… (pause)… My dream is to be…(pause).” The teenagers laughed. The adults were stunned and wondered what was wrong. (Was he making fun of us or was he really struggling for the words?) I said, “Go on… what is your dream?”

He repeated the same lines over and over and over for what seemed like eternity. I am not exaggerating. I’ve heard people hesitate before, but not as much as this one. Just when I thought that he finally was going to say it, he would pause again and look down, or laugh, or hide his face in shame. It was such an awkward moment for him (and us) but he held on to the microphone.

He was ashamed to say his dream. After several tries and much encouragement, he finally says it — not a lot of words but just one.

“My dream is to become an architect. But it seems impossible.” And he said something to this effect, “I am ashamed to admit before people that someone like me should have a dream this big.”

We, the ones from outside Palanan were stunned. Perhaps, especially me, the first timer. I grew up a freakin’ dreamer. I dreamed of becoming an Olympian when I was in my teens. Then I dreamed of becoming a stage actress. Now I’m dreaming of becoming a rich, successful entrepreneur, and a pioneer in a certain brand of Christian publishing.

I don’t have much accomplishments. I didn’t make it to the Olympics, I didn’t even make it to Freestyle 6 in figure skating, my sport. I never got back to acting after one free elective in college. And I am having a hard time right now making a business plan. But I dream big even if the odds are against me. I still believe that I will reach my God-given dreams. Some of the ones I mentioned above were not really God-ordained, you know. Haha.

Seriously, I could not believe that this young man took more than 10 minutes to say that his dream is to become an architect. It broke my heart. But I don’t blame them. It was only a few years ago that they started to have their first college graduates. If I am not mistaken, just recently, their first college graduate who took up education became the very first teacher in the village who also came from the village. Whoever she is, she is a forerunner.

That’s Ishmael and his boldness in sharing his dream to the crowd inspired me. Actually, not just his boldness in sharing but his boldness in dreaming.

He is one of the reasons why I want to go back.

There are many more I want to tell you about. I’ll write about them in the coming days.

Perhaps, you are starting to feel like you want to go with me. I wouldn’t blame you. It really is worth the trip. They are worth the long (and expensive) trip. But in case you are not volunteering for this one, would you like to help me go back by sowing financially to my Mission Trip to Palanan, Isabela this April? Please do pray quickly about it and send me a message ASAP. I only have 3 weeks to go and I need to book some flights and notify our host about my plans. Thank you so much! Prayers are also welcome and needed!

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Jump shot on the last day of the youth camp. (Sorry I’m not really much of a photographer!)

 

I haven’t posted about the ministry work in Palanan yet. I’m sorry about the delay (to those who asked for updates!). But just wanna share a blessed time I had with a friend, and another friend, yesterday at Rustic Mornings in Marikina City PH.

It’s a really lovely breakfast place tucked behind the historic Shoe Museum of Marikina.

 

I had salad greens with roasted vegetables and my friend had bacon and hash browns with rice! They agreed to put stevia instead of sugar in my strawberry-mango slush. (I brought my own stevia powder packs.) Later around lunch (we were there at 9am), another friend of mine came to consult me about business/marketing stuff. 🙂 Then we started to pray before we leave. My friend is leaving for Cebu and this is our last meet up before she starts working there. And my other friend needed direction and wisdom, and when I started praying… it also started to pour! Our table was at the pavillion-ish area but thank God we didn’t get wet! We had to wait for the rain simmer down. Danielle was in such a mood to stay longer but I had house chores waiting for me. And we’re not sure if it would start raining hard again. If it does, we might end up getting stuck a long time at Rustic Mornings…. Not that it’s a bad place to get stuck at!

I wish I had taken more photos. It was such a lovely place. I’ve been planning to go there for quite some time now since we transferred to Marikina 8 years ago. So glad I finally made it. The salad and fruit slush were good. I couldn’t speak for the other items though coz I can’t taste them. You know how most salads taste almost the same. This one has a unique twist though with the roasted veggies on top. 🙂 And the sweet-ish balsamic vinaigrette dressing.

It felt nice when it rained. It was like we’re wonderfully stuck on an island, surrounded by shrubs, bamboo trees and other trees. I was also reminded of God’s healing rain. I need healing and so do my two other friends, I believe… We are all going through a challenging life season and I guess we also needed the refreshing from the rain. It’s like God saying my presence refreshing like the rain, spend time in my presence! Let’s get stuck on an island with God. Why not get “stuck” with God for a while and feel stranded in the beauty of His presence? 🙂 Sadly though, we had to leave soon. Spent the whole morning there and had to do ‘stuff’ at home. It was mid-afternoon!

 

Campfires and Masquerades Lyrics

Let me know your thoughts on this song’s lyrics. 🙂 I love the part that says, “Those who fear the grave, never find the truth”

Campfires and Masquerades
by Jason Upton

I remember a story
A story of a little boy
The story of a mother’s child
The story of all

I remember the middle of the darkness
Reaching out for a hand to hold
Reaching out for anything
That will lead me back home

I’m still here
I’m still waiting for you
After all these years

I remember the shadows
On the walls of my memory
They more around like reality
In this prison that we’ve made

And I remember the first born sunrise
Couldn’t stand to open my eyes
Like a blind man wandering
On the edge of his grave

I’m still here
I’m still waiting for you
After all these years
After all these years

Campfires and Masquerades
Come and go like cheap parades
When nothing’s lost and nothings’ changed
We like it that way

Our politicians have to lie
Because if they opened up our eyes
We’d kill them just like the others who tried
To pull us out of this cave

Maybe that’s why we’re so shaken
When our questions have the courage to
Come and drag us from our fiction
Those who fear the grave
Never find the truth

Everyday begins at midnight
If we’re ever gonna see the sun rise
Somebody’s gotta wake up
Before the morning comes

Somebody’s gotta wake up
Gotta wake up
Somebody’s gotta wake up
Before the morning comes…

 

 

 

Farm Animals – Palanan Page 5

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Four little pigs.

If you like the sound of snorting piggies outside your bedroom window early in the morning, then Dibungko is for you.

If you like to find them grazing at your back lawn, looking for food, then Dibungko is for you.

If you you like watching puppies feed in one batsa with piggies and duckies as if they’re adopted children of the big turkey walking around the place like a bully, then Dibungko is for you. 

The #farmanimals of #Dibungko in #PalananValley  #Palanan2017

Expect the Worst, Says the Optimist. But Not Anymore.

I was wrong again. Something is wrong with me. Or with the way I think.

I’m a negative-thinking optimist. Does that make sense? I hope for the best but I expect the worst. For the past few years, I have become more and more aware of this. And like a girl looking from the outside in, I watched myself prove my negative expectations wrong. To my joy, relief, and amazement. I proved that I was wrong in expecting bad things to happen. I doubt my worthiness too much. I doubt myself, too much. And here’s the evidence.

I want to start a magazine.

I am starting a magazine.

I am working hard and am getting close to getting this magazine started. I wanted to get in touch with the founder of another magazine in a similar niche. Perhaps, he or she could help me out. Perhaps, we could even work together. Besides, we’re both Christians and the magazine I have in mind also aims to glorify God.

Then, I started having negative thoughts about connecting with this person who I still don’t know who is. What if he’s not as good a person as I hope he would be? What if she takes advantage of my being a newbie instead of help me? What if…? Yeah, until I had forgotten the idea. That was a few years back.

Then weeks ago, I met up with her!

A common friend connected us. It turned out we have a lot of common friends! Friends I trust. Good friends. We should get along, right? I had forgotten that I had planned on setting a meeting with this person before. I didn’t realize that until (I think) we finally met up. (“Hey, I thought of this, but imagined it turning out really bad, years ago!”)

After that meeting, I rebuked myself. Thank you.

She was definitely a better person than I am. Based on my assessment. (Forgive me, I’m still struggling with being judgmental.) She’s more selfless, more hardworking, more stable, more mature, more… more… more… I was so wrong. And happy that I had been. 🙂

Meet-up-with-Janina-and-Tin

I think I’m gonna get in touch with her next week to ask her to mentor the team I’m starting.

And then there’s this other instance.

There was another person that kept popping in my head. Haha. You guessed it right, I thought that this person will reject me if I share my vision. I was so concerned and negative about it that I set aside the thought until a friend suggested that I get in touch with this man’s daughter. I thought, what the heck, I should probably reach out to them for help. He was thrilled about the concept. Wrong again.

leo carlo

Then last week, I sent a friend of mine a message saying, “I wanna reach out to this girl but she might not be interested in what I have to share.” That girl, it turned out, gave a resounding “yes.”

hannah

Then…

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I have changed a lot. The negativity I carry now is a lot less than what I used to carry around. Just imagine DOUBT personified. That would be me. Self-doubting. Rambling for worthiness. Brainwashing self that she’s cool, but running away from validation. What. In. The. World.

But hey. I have some victories too. There were actually times when I told myself the opposite. Like I would tell myself, “I’m gonna do awesome.” “Things could only get better!” “Good things are coming my way.” And they do. They do! I’m not talking about positive talk. I’m talking about aligning my mind to God’s word:

“For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

This is probably one of the most quoted scriptures in our day. I cling to it. I speak it. I chew it. I translate it into declarations over my life and my days.

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.” Psalm 23:6

How about, “Surely goodness follow every minute of every day of my life”? I try that every morning. Not because I have the power to make that happen but because the God who said it does.

Sometimes, negative thoughts still come barging in my head. I chase them away with God’s Word. Positivity only goes so far. But God’s Words are powerful. It changed my life. It changed my mind, the way I think (negatively). And though I’m still working on it, I know I’m headed to a better place now.