Thank You for Your Support

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This is my last message on this blog. I already wrote many of my life experiences and learnings. Still, I know I got way more things to learn.

Also, changes always needed. As part of these changes, I already bought my own domain name. I learned how to find a good web-host.

For my next blog posts, check my new blog @ mikel.space.

I got the mistake of not changing my domain name. Instead, I bought another one. Anyway, mistakes are part of learning.

I don’t know website migration. Okay, I know, but it’s not free. Not good timing for now. Wink. Instead, you can still follow me at my new blog. Thank you for your support — reading and commenting. I know it’s not a lot, but worth enough.

I hope I can connect with you more in the future. God bless you. 🙂

5 Lessons on Why Writing is More Than Sustaining

Sustaining yourself to write is not a challenge. Yes, you read it right. After years of writing, I came to another realization.

“Writing about a writer’s block is better than not writing at all.” ~Charles Bukowski
The real daunting challenges of writing is way more than sustaining.
In any activity either music, sports, or studying calculus (or say, especially calculus), we come to a point of questioning ourselves. Why am I doing this?
At first, it’s pure bliss. Pure joy and satisfaction. But, as like human relationships, we can continue and felt stuck. As if going nowhere.
There’s a point in our lives when the challenging goals turned into mundane tasks.
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The Island, the Tribe, and the Boat

Imagine you’re lost on an island. Yes, you now play the role of Tom Hanks in the movie “Cast Away.” But, a different version. In the movie, the main actor made his own boat.
As a merciful director, I don’t want to give you too much burden. I already made the boat for you. Plus, other weird twists. But, I don’t want to get ahead with the story.
Okay, back to the story.
Your airplane crashed in the middle of the ocean. You manage to get out of the plane. With the help of your life jacket, you float the whole pitched black evening, until you fall asleep. The next morning, you woke up in a soft bed, made of woven coconut leaves.
You saw a bunch of people dressed up in dried skins of different wild animals. An indigenous tribe saw you and thought you’re their god (small “g”). They all worship you. The tribe gives everything to please you. Every day is a feast. Every end of the day is a good night’s sleep. You really enjoyed the treatment of the tribe.
Two months later, you saw an abandoned boat along with paddles. It’s in great condition. Floating ashore and tied to a big rock. It’s as if God (big “G”) prepared the boat only for you.
Now, you have to decide to either wait for a rescue or sail alone with the boat.
Both situations have their own pros and cons.
If you wait for a rescue, you could live a carefree life. All your basic needs served on a wooden plate (yep, no silver plate in the island). If the rescue comes, great. If not, still, it’s “hakuna mutata.”
But, for the last three evenings, you’re crying. You can’t control your tears pouring down your cheeks.
You missed your home—your family and friends. You love the hospitality of the tribe. They even worship you. But, in your heart, you know you’re lying to the tribe. You know in yourself, you’re not meant to live in a lie.
A thought came to you. You then told yourself, “I should get out of the island!”
With the boat already in place, you can get the chance to come back home. Three seconds later, questions bombarded your thoughts. You asked yourself:
“Where’s the right direction to the nearest island?”
“How far is the nearest island? A mile or a thousand miles?”
“What if I encounter a storm?”
“If I found another island, how can I know if it is not isolated or occupied with another ancient tribe?”
You felt you’re losing your insanity as you heard an answer inside your head: “You’ll never know until you try.”
Yes, you felt dumb as you keep on talking to yourself. Later, you felt at peace. You remembered a truth you almost forgot out of too much worrying. Many times, you ignore it as you’re just afraid to let go of a life without any responsibilities.
You regained an awareness of this truth—you still have the freedom of choice.
For the whole day, you take the time to think on what decision to take.
Until you chose to escape the island. Besides, the boat is heaven-sent. You believe God is with you. The boat is His message. You believe He is giving you a chance to choose.
A chance to live a life you believe you deserve.
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Paddling At The Middle of the Ocean

After months of living with the tribe as their make-believe god, you learned their language a bit. Still, you need to speak with hand gestures to make a point.
Out of gratitude, you’re obliged to give the tribe a proper way to announce your plan. In the middle of the day, before sundown, you gathered the tribe.
You speak to the tribe. You used different hand gestures and facial expressions. After four times of repeating, you already felt stupid. The good thing, though, the tribe gets it.
The tribe felt sad. You felt the same way. After the sun went down, the tribe prepared a dance—a way to say goodbye. You and the tribe dance around the big bonfire. You make the most of the evening knowing this is your last. At least, on the island.
The next morning, the tribe brought foods and drinks. They also made a wooden raft to carry all the goods. You wondered how could the tribe know how to make a raft and yet remain inside the island. Taking the final glimpse of the island, you thought the tribe already have everything they need.
The boat couldn’t carry all the foods and drinks. You decided to use the raft instead. You take the paddles from the boat and brought them to the raft.
It’s time to go. Using the universal language of a hug, you relate to each member of the tribe your sincere gratitude. You can’t find another way to thank them enough.
After two days of sailing, you can still see the tip of the high mountains inside the island. You thought your progress is slow.
The following day, you can only see the water. Nothing more. Nothing less.
You see the same thing for the following five days. Before, you’re worried about your slow progress. Now, you wonder if you’re having any progress at all!
You can’t see where you came from. You have no idea on how much distance you are to your destination.
Your food and drinks are running out. Before, you miss your family and friends. Now, you also miss the tribe.
More days passed, you lose count of how many days you’re already paddling in the middle of the ocean. You’re beginning to lose your sanity. You’re tired of counting the stars every evening.
You began to doubt your decision.
The situation got worse as you approach a storm. Your raft destroyed into pieces. Still, you survived the storm. As a result, you got nothing to feed yourself. You’re now only holding a small wooden piece of your raft to remain afloat.
You lose hope and ready to die anytime soon. In this time of readiness, you felt an inner peace. You don’t have any regrets after all. Again, you remembered this truth—you still have a choice.
You can’t understand why. But, you loved what you did.
You’re losing strength, but you choose to hold on to a wooden piece of the raft. You know this is the only thing you can do. And you’ll do whatever it takes.
You hold on up to the last drop of your remaining energy. Until you lose consciousness.
Your final moment arrived. You died in the middle of the ocean.
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The Lessons of the Story

What’s the point of the story? You might ask, “why did you kill me in the story?” Haha…
Sorry for killing you. At least, it’s only in the story. 🙂
Maybe, I get tired of happy endings. Or, bitter of happy ever after fairy tale endings.
Please, don’t get me wrong, I do love happy endings. But, as every person has the story of his or her own, the same goes with happy endings.
“There is no way to happiness—happiness is the way.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh
Here are some of my takeaways with the story, lessons worth taking:
1. Find your purpose. I know this is a ridiculous cliche’. Saints, legends, philosophers, scientists and well-known artists already said this. I got hooked the first time I read the book of Rick Warren “The Purpose-Driven Life.”
But, come to think of it. From all heroes and heroines we know, the only difference they had, they found their life purpose. They live fantastic lives, knowing they found the reason of their existence, now they are willing to die to live out their purpose.
In the story above, you decided to go out the comforts of the island. In your heart, you’re not sure yet of your real identity. But, you’re sure you are not god. You can’t take living a life of a lie. You found a better reason—to come back to your loved ones.
2. Don’t wait for clarity. Now, this sounds counterintuitive. You might ask, “how could I find my purpose if I don’t have first the clarity?”
I love what St.Mother Teresa said, “I have never had clarity; what I have always had is trust. So I will pray that you will trust God.”
She knows her purpose, she wants to serve God. She took in her the calling to reach the poorest of the poor. But, she didn’t wait for the perfect time.
I find it surprising to know she only relies on trust as a start. On the second thought, it makes sense. If she waits for clarity, she’s dead before she starts doing God’s purpose for her life. Thus, she served the poorest of the poor.
Going back to the story above. After you decided to sail the ocean, you heard sudden questions in your head. Questions came out of lack of clarity. The only reasonable answer you came up with is: “You’ll never know until you try.”
You lack the clarity. But, for you, trust is enough to take action.
Clarity came after taking action. Not the other way.
3. Think positive, but remember the bills. To sustain your passion, you must not consider only about running out of ideas. For practical reasons, also consider about running out of money. To pay your bills. Electric bills, water bills and mortgages don’t complete the lists. For married couples, they need to provide the needs of their children. Different needs for working students. Same with single parents. It all depends on the situation.
If you’re the likes of William Randolph Hearst, son of a millionaire gold miner, then money doesn’t matterMr.Hearst rival Joseph Pulitzer’s daily newspaper. He got enough money to backed him up.
But, for the average Joe like you and me, at least in financial matters, we should take practical considerations.
Still, you can make your passion on the side.
In the story, you chose to use the raft filled with foods and drinks instead of the boat. The boat seems useless in the story, but realized, because of the boat, you got the idea to get out of the island.
Plan A, as good as it seems, still might fail. Remember this as well, you get the paddles from the boat. It means you can still get from the failure of the first attempt.
You make decisions for practical reasons. You know you won’t last long without basic necessities. Then you paddle and started your journey.
 
4. Follow your passions, not results. Joe Bunting, the man behind the blog The Write Practice, wrote a blog post entitled “How To Become a Writer: 3 Simple Steps.” At the last step, Joe wrote, “become acquainted with boredom, comfortable with writing-induced misery.”
As you start paddling away from the island until you lose sight of it, your excitement turned to boredom and worries.
Days paddling at the middle of the ocean, you’re not sure if you progressed at all. Then came a storm, you lose hope. All you can do now is hold to a piece of wood to survive.
But, you still love what you did. You know in your heart you’re just following your passions. You didn’t see the result of finding your home destinations, but your determination keeps you holding on.
Sad thing you die. I can tell you, though, you live before you die. Not vice-versa.
5. Find mentors and examples. I want to help people with my words. I know in myself, I got a lot of hard work to do. For now, I’m trusting the process of practicing writing.
I can only help you and extend my hand up to the extent of my success. I got nothing to show financially. Only the stubbornness of taking action to finally find my purpose. I hope you do the same, too.
In the story, you died because you’re alone in the middle of nowhere. But, you’re not alone and in the middle of nowhere, aren’t you?
In my last blog post, I wrote names of people who helped me to write and sustained it up to now.
You can start following these blogs:
The internet has thousands of blogs about writing, these for me I know can help you the most.
6. Bonus Lesson: Remember the simple truth—you always have a choice. Many things are out of our control. We never know what exactly the future holds. We can’t force people to tell only good things about us.
We can only control the process, but not the results.
I remembered I used to get hyped with get-rich-quick schemes. Now, even, if it’s true, I still consider the classic value of hard-work, perseverance, and humility. For me, the last give the most impact.
I always have this need to protect my ego. I felt the needs of my ego to feel safe and unchallenged.
I almost forgot the beauty of humility. Without it, I’m not willing to start as an amateur. A newbie. An outcast. Though I admit I still got mixed motives. Publishing a blog post a week increased my confidence as a writer. It boosted my ego. In the same time, humility keeps me on writing even it felt the opposite as my ego shreds into pieces due to the absence of readers.
It is a humbling experience, knowing how much effort it takes just to give a little of what we have. Steve Jobs said, “we’re here to put a dent in the universe.”
Get your hands dirty. Put the six lessons in your heart. Remember, actions preceded purpose.
For now, for you and me, just trust the process. Believe quantity will become quality.

When We Forget the Real Value of Our Education and What to Do Next?

The time is between six and seven in the evening. As part of my routine, I have to buy food from the market.

This is another night, same as the past nights. I bought food from a bearded guy. For basic conversation, I have to unload my tiny knowledge of broken Arabic.

Of course, I should pay the “bakala.” This is how people called the local convenience store. In Filipino version, it’s “Aling Puring Suking Tindahan.” Ah okay, it’s “tindahan” for short.

I have to take out my currencies of Rials with different sizes. Same as Euros, it gets bigger depending on the value.

“Shukran Sadiq,” I said it with a smile. This is a simple thank you greetings. It means “thanks, my friend” in broken Arabic.

I’m good to go.

It took me more than half an hour, sometimes even an hour to get back home. Sometimes, I’m alone. Sometimes, I’m with a fellow Filipino friend, who knows more how to cook. 🙂

Every single day, the bakalas should close at most five times. It depends on the length of their opening hours. Most people, stop for a while to pray. This is an Islamic tradition.

As a Christian, I admit I made me annoyed sometimes. But, I have my utmost respect and amazement for the commitment of our Muslim brothers and sisters. I learned from them the importance of prayers. They give proper priority in their prayer time.

For two years, I saw this tradition done without a miss. Even, in holidays. Or let say, especially in holidays.

Taking from my experience, bakalas are one of business establishments who have to close to give way for prayer time. Pharmacies, clinics, stores inside shopping malls, restaurants and hardware are some of the lists.

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The Kids Throwing Stones

“When a man is denied the right to live life he believes in, he has no choice but to become an outlaw” ~Nelson Mandela

Aware of the different culture, I learned timing is important. Or else, I have to wait. This is not bad actually. I take the time listen to a podcast. Or, find another Filipino (even non-Filipino, non-Muslim) to talk with.

Going to market is no big deal. Not at all. If only for these pesky kids.

Part of going to market is storming these bullies.

I had an old Filipino friend. He’s more than 60 years of age and told me stories about these kids. He told me these kids throw stones at him. It frustrates him as he can’t do anything about them. He knows he is in a foreign territory.

He had a good reason to get angry. But, that’s all he can do. As I’m listening, I’m thankful to God as it hasn’t happened to me.

Until.

It happens to me, as well. Once.

There are times these kids (not Filipinos, not sure if Saudi nationals) are riding bicycles. One of them would go fast towards my direction, then take an instant break an inch before he hits me.

One time, these kids are laughing and shouting at me. I didn’t understand a word. After I passed them, I heard stones falling to the ground near me.

They’re throwing stones at me!

I’m still thankful to God, I never get hit. Still, it hit me about reality.

I realized this has something to do with education. I mean, real education.

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The Saudi Arabian Kid Who Love Justin Bieber and Cristiano Ronaldo

Following the above story, you might guess where this place took place. Yes, I was in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Those were the days.

Specifically, the place is in Baish, inside Jazan (or Jizan) Province. I tell the specific place as I could only take a story from here. I can’t say if this is also happening in other parts of the country. Or if it does happen, I don’t know where are those other places.

I have a handful of valuable lessons living in KSA.

Also, a realization — the impact of education on the youth.

Before I get back to the Philippines, I go to a courier service to send back my things. I don’t want to carry a lot of baggage with me to the airport.

Unfortunately, the nearest one is miles away, located at the center of Jazan province. I don’t have my own car. I don’t even know how to drive. So, I have to bring these items of baggage. It took me two taxi rides.

After I finally finish doing the heavy liftings, only one more burden to bear.

I had a hard time looking for a taxi. It is dark as it was already past nine in the evening. Until one kid with his shiny car stopped in front of me.

The kid is a Saudi national. He told me, he doesn’t need my money which I believe. As far as I know, the government pays for the education of the local citizens.

“I just want to talk someone to practice my English,” the kid told me his agenda.

“Okay, I think I can help you,” I said out of desperation for a taxi ride. Besides the fact it’s a free ride.

Great deal, right? I suddenly remembered the stone-throwing kids, I get worried. What if this kid plays tricks on me? I took the risk, anyway. He seems harmless to me.

Then he keeps on talking.

“Do you like music?”

Follow-up with, “how about Justin Bieber? He is my favorite.”

He continues on talking, “my father doesn’t like me listening to this music.”

Then with one more question, “by the way, what’s your name?”

This time I have the chance to talk. “My name is Michael,” I respond with a basic answer.

“Oh, same like Michael Jackson? Do you know him?” There go his follow-up question again.

As he drives and started playing Justin Bieber’s songs, I can’t see how can I help him improve his English.He’s already fluent. It’s me actually who’s improving.

I told him stories of my life in the Philippines. The beautiful places and the culture of my beloved country.

He told his only sixteen years old taking up medicine. Then he brings out his personal views. His father doesn’t like his kind of music, especially rap songs of Eminem. He learned this song from America.

This is the unavoidable cause of going to a different culture. The kid gets immersed in another perspective of life. Same as I did for his own country.

Because the travel is long, he also has the time to tell me his plans of going to the Philippines. He already heard stories about the beautiful white-sand beaches.

He’s also a football fanatic. His greatest idol is Cristiano Ronaldo. He told the story of football legend. He told the story of his idol who rise from poverty to the best football player in the world.

The kid is nice and respectful. I never get bored. He is so kind, I felt guilty doubting him in the first place.

I want to apologize cause I can’t remember the name of the kid.

As I have to bid farewell, I insist on paying him back. But, he is more persistent in not taking it. I shake the hand of the kid.

“Shukran,” the only words I could say for the nice kid. It means “thanks.”

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What the Hell is Water?

When I was still in KSA, I told my story about the kids who throw stones at me. As expected, she’s so angry. I told her to understand the kids.

“Wala lang po silang matinong edukasyon (They don’t have the proper education),” I defend the kids.

“It is about the real value of a real education, which has almost nothing to do with knowledge, and everything to do with simple awareness” ~David Foster Wallace, 2005 Kenyon College commencement speech

In my last blog post, I put a video interpretation of David Foster Wallace’s commencement speech.

It starts with an older fish warning two younger fishes about the water. He says, “warning boys, how’s the water?”

Then one of young fish ask the other young fish, “what the hell is water?”

It is not hard to conclude that wealthy people have better behavior than the poor people. The first are more educated than the latter. Isn’t it?

It is easy to say the kid with a shiny car is more educated than those who throw stones to passersby.

Is education only means academic? Is a person uneducated if he or she doesn’t get a college diploma?

According to Merriam-Webster dictionary: “Education is the action or process of teaching someone especially in a school, college, or university.”

But, we see, then and again. Some illiterate poor people seems more educated than those who finish their formal education.

I read in a Facebook post saying: What’s the point of your education if you still throw garbage on streets to be ultimately picked up by an uneducated person working?

Yes, I’m still recovering from Facebook feed addiction.

I come to think about it. These trash in the street thrown by the so-called “educated” people and picked up by the humble “uneducated” trash collectors. Did you find it amusing?

Perhaps, the greatest epidemic is the entitlement mentality. Education is a great advantage, but it’s not an assurance. People seems entitled, especially the young generation.

The technology is not helping sometimes. Too much comfort trained us to believe in instant gratification. We lack patience and quit at the slightest pain of difficulties.

I also have the entitlement mentality at times. It is easy for me to blame and complain than took the responsibility. Honestly, I’m still recovering.

At least, we can start with this awareness.

As David Foster Wallace said, real education is more about simple awareness.

It is true, “common sense is not a common practice.” So, we should practice more common sense. It should start with me, then with you.

Then, hope for a positive ripple effect.

Don’t be the fish unaware of the water. Get simple awareness. Stop the entitlement mentality. Practice the obvious — service for a cause that struck your heart, increase your patience, care and respect to strangers, love for the environment, self-care, love for your family and friendships. Some of the few obvious things.

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My Hidden Agenda For This Blog Post

I say technology sometimes not helping. But, technology is like money, it’s neither good nor bad. The bible says “the love of money is the root of all evil.” Technology, like money, used wisely is good. If we are not careful enough, it will use us.

With today’s technology, almost anyone in the world could have access to education.

Because I have not yet get my Debit Card, I borrowed my sister’s Credit Card. Of course, with her permission. I bought an online course in Udemy “Freelance Writing For Beginners.”

I’m also reading articles from CopyBlogger about storytelling.

If you want free storytelling lessons, take this free course from Pixar’s “The Art of Storytelling.”

I’m still looking for a work abroad. I will not accept any freelance work unless I’m already an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) again.

I want to first know my schedules and how could I adjust. I know this tough. But, I’m aware enough to know that it would be worth it.

If you notice I put some stories. I also put a lot of dialogues, which I’m not sure if I put correct punctuations.

I’ll appreciate any corrections. I consider myself an eternal student. Real education never stops. Part of it is feedbacks.

So yep, you got it. I use this blog post to practice story telling. If I’m planning to make 2000 words weekly blog post, then learning to tell stories effectively is a must.

As usual, there’s always doubts. I thought I’m not good at telling stories verbally, what’s the difference in writing?

Well, I don’t know a lot of things. Some I need to learn through listening to podcast, talks, interviews and audiobooks. Some through reading with books and the digital counterparts. Some both through videos and online courses.

But, there are some better learned with an application. As the saying, you’ll never know until you try. By the way, practical lessons are the most valuable. Also, the most expensive to neglect.

I’m still learning the consequence of getting the education only for the sake of knowing. I made frustrations, directionless and scarcity mentality. The real value is the application of the lessons as part of our daily lives.

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” ~another Nelson Mandela quote

Real education strengthens our character. It changes us from first from our core. Then, it gains us powerful weapon to make a positive change in the world.

Seek real education. With God’s grace, I will.

I hope you do, too. God bless. 🙂

I’m Sorry for the Lack of Practical Stories of My Hobby Blog

It’s been a while since I came from Saudi Arabia. It’s an awesome experience to meet and hug again your loved ones after 26 months.

There’s just a problem creeping, though. I already filed an exit and promised the company and myself to never work again in the same country.

I’m applying again for another work abroad. All of my job applications are for Middle East countries except Saudi Arabia. Funny, I still got calls to work in the country I’m avoiding. Except, one I got last week from someone else’s referral — a company from Qatar.

I’m not against people working in Saudi Arabia. As an engineer, I’m starting to believe this country is the one where I could find the most opportunity. I’m grateful I got a lot of learning experiences in this rich country. The cultures and traditions taught me a lot of lessons.

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Photo Credit: Alan Crosthwaite via 500px cc

The Hobbyist Blogger Becoming A Beggar

I couldn’t get over to the story of Morrow. You could also check the story of Helen Keller. I’ve done a lot of hard decisions in life. But, compared to them, I would look like a crying kindergarten who accidentally dropped his candy.

How could I whine and complain always? There’s always something we can do, right?

I’m happy I already posted blog posts and typed thousands of words. Things unthinkable for me before.

I could congratulate myself. Or, I would say, I should. Relying on my emotions, it’s easy to tell myself I’m on a lonely journey.

Yes, I’ve done enough. But, I have to admit, typing on my laptop gave some sense of guilt.

Last Sunday evening, my mother took the first day of her part-time job. She told me her job is packing soaps in boxes. She did it to help amends the family financial needs.

I got few amounts of money left. In one or two months without a job, then I’m as rich as a beggar.

Here I am, jobless for months and still have the gall to write. For what? For a hobby of blogging?

Again, I’m not against anyone. If you’re also blogging as a hobby, go for it. Many times on this blog, I already mentioned to do your thing and you don’t need permission.

“And the most important possible thing you can do is do a lot of work — do a huge volume of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week, or every month, you know you’re going to finish one story. Because it’s only by actually going through a volume of work that you are actually going to catch up and close that gap. And the work you’re making will be as good as your ambitions.” ~Ira Glass

Many creative people quit as their taste is not yet satisfied. Impatience creeps in. Disillusioned to perfectionism, they quit.

How could we blame them? Difficult decisions are both physical and emotional. Our spirits crushed with seemingly impossible circumstances. Passion fades away in the face of the comfortable status quo.

I don’t know in how many different ways did I mentioned this on my blog — I want to create value for my readers. But, up to now, it seems the value I’m giving is only for myself.

I improved my writing skill. I get familiarized with grammar. I gained more self-confidence as a writer. But, for the reader, what did I give?

Now, I’m thinking if someone sent me an email or private message in Facebook Messenger, then I’ll get thrilled. But, only if it changes the life of someone. If someone would give compliments on how good my writing was, then I need to think of something else to do.

That was good by the way, but it’s time to create something more valuable not just for me.

It is also the time to create something to help me and my family live a decent life.

Avoid Disappointment in Writing

What is the best way to avoid disappointment in writing?

Write for yourself. Maybe, you felt alone in writing, in reality, you are not. Me? I’m writing for myself. I’m not disappointed and still continue on writing.

But, you should still remember to ask yourself, why? The deeper the why the better you can find a way.

“People lose their way when they lose their why.” ~Michael Hyatt

We should not neglect the seasons of our life. Are you a mother? Then don’t neglect your children.

Are you financially broke? Then don’t buy things out of your whims.

Are you jobless? Then find one.

Did your business shreds into pieces? Then stand-up and build another one.

All these things are obvious. This is why I got a mediocre blog. According to Jon Morrow, common sense advice is boring.

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Photo Credit: Mt. San Antonio College via 500px cc

Learn To Listen From Virtual Mentors

We couldn’t reinvent the wheel. Could we? For the ridiculous reason, it was invented thousands of years before. There are millions of websites about anything you can imagine. The best path to despair is learning from scratch. Someone who already has what you need. Or at least what you desire to have.

I tell you, if you need motivation, go to Brendon Burchard.

If you need practical Catholic (even non-Catholic) spiritual directions, go to Bro.Bo Sanchez.

If you are a Filipino looking for an online work, go to Jomar Hilario.

If you need to learn a lot or reignite your passion in writing, you can check  Jeff Goins’ blog.

For writing who give more emphasis on blogging, you can ask advice from Jon Morrow’s site SmartBlogger.

For publishing, creating an online platform (e.g. blog) and productivity, Michael Hyatt is the guy.

Most of them I learned from listening to podcasts.

Last week, I joined Michael Hyatt’s webinar about “10 Strategies To CRUSH The 4 Common Obstacles That Keep You From Creating Content Fast.” One of the things I learned is to set a minimum goal and blogging. I already did that before. I publish a blog post every week. But, affirmation from a thought leader is important for me.

Then one of the lessons I learned from a Jon Morrow’s blog post entitled “20 Ways to Be Just Another Mediocre Blogger Nobody Gives a Crap About” is to set at least 2000 words as a minimum.

So from now on, I’ll take blogging more seriously one step forward. Starting from this blog post, making a 2000-words weekly blog post.

It might sound ludicrous as I should find practical means of income first. But, this is my commitment now. I’ll risk sounding crazy as an anticipation of future regrets.

I might still sound egotistic as mostly I’m talking about myself. But, this is just a means to an end.

If you’re reading this blog post. I appreciate it from the bottom of my heart. Thank you for your patience with me.

Also yesterday, I sent a private message in one of the known copywriters in the Philippines, Carl Dexter Arceo. He is the go-to guy when it comes to finding an effective copywriter.

I asked him questions about the right career path. He suggests I first pursue article writing. So, I will do what he suggests.

I got another reason to blog more either there’s a reader or not. I’m still in the planting season and I don’t care if it takes long before I get the harvests.

I’ll just enjoy the journey of writing.

The Default Mode

What is default mode? It is the most likely thing average people do. When you are in the checkout line of the grocery, what are you thinking? What kind of things are you paying attention to?

Below is a video interpretation of Foster Wallace’s commencement speech. Watching this will give you a great understanding of what default mode really means.

In short, the default mode is the easy path. Complaining and blaming is so easy. It doesn’t take a special person to get mad in a routine and boring situation. But, it takes a real deal of effort to pay attention to what matter most at the moment. To make good use of our education that we are proud of.

The default mode is also the path of studying hard and get a high-paying job. Same as doing what is expected from us instead of the desires of our heart. As smartphones have factory default settings, so as our lives.

Are you in default mode?

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My Realization on Giving Value to Others

“And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” ~Matthew 22:39, NIV

Yesterday, most people, especially romantic couples celebrated Valentine’s Day. A great day to celebrate some of the couples’ romantic relationships.

For some, they called the day, SAD. Short for Single Awareness Day. By the way, I’m fully aware. Every day.

I never had any romantic relationship. If you’re looking for a late bloomer, you’re reading his writing now.

For someone who has a potential to gain a Guinness’ world record as the shyest (not sure if this word exists) person in the history of mankind, this is not a surprise. I’m always exaggerating with regards to my social awkwardness. I just do it for rhetorical effect. Or at least to give you an idea of how scared I was to talk to people.

I loved remembering the glorious past life of mine. It makes me feel grateful every time. I’m still afraid and always will. I acknowledge fear, but no need to overrate it.

I’m not bitter. I’m happy knowing lots of my friends enjoying the day. Almost a whole day, I’m just inside our house. I saw women’s Facebook posts of pictures of flowers given from a special guy.

I accept I’m weird. I just need to use this weirdness of mine in a good way.

“Never wish life were easier, wish that you were better.” ~Jim Rohn

It is my fault why I never had any romantic relationship. I’m not that old. But, some of the people of my age, I know who have already three or four children. Some are happily married and veteran in family matters.

It feels good though I could take advantage of my situation. 🙂

I’m at peace. I’m happy with what I have and whom I with — my family. But, I’m not content. Seems to contradict, but I tell you it’s not.

The great realization is: I can’t give what I don’t have. Unless I could love myself enough, I could not love someone else enough.

Same with writing. The reason this is hobby blog where I’m just talking to myself is I haven’t taken enough value.

At least, I’m thinking of getting the value that I can give to people I want to serve in the future.

Every day is a chance to love. Valentine’s Day or not, we must take awareness that life is beautiful and full of love. Take the imperfect love of broken people like you and me.

A relationship is a place of giving and not taking. But, to give, we must have something to offer.

As of now, this writing is only I can offer for you. If you want to suggest something, please leave a comment.

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An Ego-Booster or Stubbornness for the Sake of Love

The internet has all the answers. Another obvious thing to consider. The problem now is to whom to trust.

Then why there’s still a lot of people taking the time to put their thought in a blog?

If they really want to help, then why they just refer them to people who could really help?

By the way, these are the questions for myself. Instead of talking to myself and telling my stories with the same situations in a different way, I’ll just refer what helps me. And hopefully, it would help you too.

I suggest you check all the names I mentioned above. Some of them you might know already. These are names I followed for at least five years (except for John Morrow, whom I just discovered last month).

If you are a Filipino who want to know an (Overseas Filipino Worker) OFW who got the courage to come back and work in the Philippines for good, watch Jomar Hilario’s interview for Sheryl Tapon. She is also pursuing online work. She is from Singapore who has not yet any work but determined enough.

Talking about courage and determination? She is the man. Or I mean the woman.

I apologized if I make this blog as a means to “boost my ego.” Somehow I paraphrase it as to “boost my confidence.”

But, I will continue to blog no matter what. At least in my life, I could tell myself to get consistent once and for all.

I want to become more so I can give more. I want to love myself so I can love more. If I will risk an image of an idiot and stubborn, so be it. For the sake of love, we should risk it.

I’m not talking about the romantic love most people celebrated yesterday. But, the kind of love where I simply want the better life for someone.

I prayed anyone reading this blog more blessing and receive more of what he or she is looking for. And as a result, have more capacity to give more.

Forgive me of my egotistic approach in blogging. I’m a human still confuse, but still struggling to give. Learning to love the way God does — pure and unconditional.

Sorry for my lack of practical stories. The most practical thing I can suggest is to follow my mentors.

I’m afraid of continuing. I got a lot of practical reasons to consider first. But, I will always have the “practical” reasons. The question is, when will all these reasons disappear?

This is the solution for me now. I tell you, continue on pursuing what you’re supposed to do. You might get the label as egotistic, but it is only you who knows better.

Your intention matter. Your deepest why matter. If you have enough reason to continue, then there’s no excuse to stop. Maybe, stop for a while to rethink and reconsider your values and priorities. But, don’t stop entirely.

Yes, this is why it is possible to not have contentment and yet happy. This is what love is all about. Got the idea from Bro.Bo Sanchez.

Life is good. All ours for our taking. We just need to do something.

Learn from someone already have you wanted. Apply their lessons. Fail and improve. Then you will succeed. Believe in yourself and you’ve already done half of the job with success.

Praying for you, my beloved reader. 🙂

How A Guy Who Can’t Move Anything but His Face Slapped Me In My Face?

Yesterday, I was not able to write any to prepare a blog post this one whole week. Yes, one week’s passed and I got nothing to show you. Only today, ten in the morning I started to write.

This is my 36th blog posts. Not impressive for a two-year-old blog. If I just post every week from the birth of this blog, I already posted more than a hundred. But, the point is not how many words I already crafted.

The question is “am I able to help even just one reader with this blog?”

“In what way?” and “how could I help if I don’t?”

As of now, I only knew ONE I’m sure I already helped a lot. Myself.

Writing is my way of expressing myself in a way I can’t in a personal conversation.

I already said all my struggles as a writer. Even calling myself a writer is a struggle. I felt I’m just fooling myself.

Before, I’m typing in my old Samsung Galaxy Young. It has small screen enough for my small fingers. It is old, though the model has the word “Young.” After months of working abroad, at last, I was able to buy my own laptop. This thing I’m using now to blog is the most expensive tangible things I bought for myself. The most expensive are the seminars and online courses I took to improve my craft.

Many times I believe writing is an art. The danger in this belief is my prone to romanticizing writing too much. Writing is more of craft. And to improve any kind of craft, it takes a habit.

This week I planned on reading more instead of just writing. I have to improve and do something different. At least in this state of my maturity and courage.

Distractions and inconsistency are my internal demons. My personal quote came from St.Pare Pio, “pray, hope and don’t worry.” I even write in my short bio for my personal Facebook account: “Worry about nothing. Pray about everything. But, do something.”

Yet, I’m dead worried now about my career and future. Inconsistent in prayers. And compelled to do nothing.

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Jon Morrow Slapped Me In My Face

If you want to know the unique story of a former Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW). On what life in Saudi Arabia is about. Also, what it means to work abroad for the first time. Then you’re reading the right blog. You can check some of my blog posts. Or read my “About Me” page.

I’m writing and still continuing without significant earnings. This is frustrating yet challenging. Can you relate to me? Then read my blog and perhaps give me some comments and suggestions.

I can’t imagine enough how many writing and blogging tips lingers the cyberspace. There is enough information already for anyone to become successful.

Even for a disabled person. How disabled?

Well, he couldn’t move anything but his face? And he is a successful writer helping other writers. How about that?

After I read Jon Morrow’s story, I felt he slapped me hard in my face.

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ONE BIG HELP I Can Give, Not From Me

If there’s ONE BIG HELP this blog post hopefully can give you, I hope is this. Click here and read Jon’s story with valuable lessons.

I’m not selling you anything. Only a story of an incredible guy who’ve done it all despite all the odds.

After reading, if you’re like me, you would feel in your guts an awkward feeling.

You might ask questions.

“If he did, why couldn’t I”

Then realizations of how superficial our problems is. We always came up with excuses instead of solutions.

So if you’re pursuing your dream of writing, we can ask ourselves.

“Why am I doing this in the first place?”

Maybe, I need to rethink my answers. So are you?

You Don’t Have to Feel Guilty About Not Knowing Things

More than two years ago, I was applying to work abroad. It is fascinating I’m doing the exact thing now. Many know the challenge of finding a work abroad. Especially, for the first timers. This is my second time, but it was almost the same feeling. The same frustration and anxiety if I could pull it off again — find another work abroad. Hopefully, with higher pay.

This is the blog post I don’t want my potential employers to read. I’ll tell it to you anyway. For more than two years straight working in Saudi Arabia, I still don’t feel I’m confident enough. I’ve done things I have no idea I could do. I made a lot of arguments to defend myself. And yet, I felt those were not enough. I felt I’m still an undergraduate in B.S. Working Abroad.

Good thing I learned through life to do things afraid. To not rely too much on my confident feelings. And walk inside the unknown tunnel trusting there’s a light of hope at the end.

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When I Always Rely on a Miracle

The day I got accepted to a university is a miracle. I only took one entrance exam and bet my life on it.

The day I graduated from college is a miracle. I got a lot of incomplete subjects I completed in the nick of time. I also got a lot of exact passing grades. I’m distracted, lazy, dead shy, always late to class, and addicted to online games. I’m one of the most obscure and mediocre students in my university.

The day I passed my national board exam is a miracle. As an electrical engineering graduate, my next step is to pass the board exam. After months of reviewing, I expect not to pass the exam. I’m not even finished reading half of the review materials.

The day I got accepted for my first company is a miracle. Same as my college miracle, I also applied only in one company and bet my life on it. I also bet you have now the idea of how lazy I am.

Fast forward, the day I get a job abroad is a miracle. It just happens my neighbor owns a job agency. I don’t need the effort to apply online and make walk-ins in different agencies. No wonder I’m having a hard time now applying for work abroad.

In my subconscious mind, I’m telling myself miracle always happen. I rely on faith. Or, I can say I make a bad use of my faith. God grant me a lot of miracles in my life. Those I mentioned were a few on my list.

From the past few days, I’m a slacker. I got distracted and sleep more than I need to. I didn’t apply for work abroad. I relied on miracles – the supernatural one. I forgot the more important miracle of perseverance and discipline.

The Beauty of Not Asking Permission

To find work both local and abroad, you need the permission of the company. Many people want to climb the corporate ladder. The higher you ranked the more authority you get. It also means you have the permission to make the critical decisions for the company.

If you’re like me, you grew up in traditional schools and companies. We always follow instructions. We need permissions. I’m not telling you to leave your company. I’m still a sheep following orders. In fact, if you had notice, I’m still planning to work abroad. I’m sure I would need to follow orders from the company. I’m still a sheep. But, I know each one of us is a lion raised as a sheep. I’m searching for my lionheart. I bet writing will help me. I hope you find something for yourself.

Law and order make the world a better place. It is sad when we rely on them too much. The same as when we are relying on the supernatural miracle.

One of the reasons I continue to write in a blog is to exploit the opportunity to do something without permission. To make art. Now, I sound Seth Godin. I’m not him, never will. He just deeply influenced me.

Personal freedom is when we are able to do things on our own. Do things because we love to and not we have to. It is a beauty to do things without permission. And make the world a little bit better.

If I would listen to my daily opposing voice, I doubt if this blog is an art. Much more make a difference in the world. I watched a video interview about millennials (yes, I’m one of them). Simon Sinek, the interviewee said we are self-interested, narcissistic, unfocused, lazy and entitled. We are also impatience and addicted to instant gratification.

It is a great wake-up call for us. We want to make a difference in the world not knowing we should start first with ourselves. Find the balance between our digital and real lives.

We don’t need permission to make a difference in ourselves. It is an internal battle. It would either make or break us. We would always experience setbacks, but there’s always a chance to stand-up again.

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Why You Should Give Yourself Permission to Not Know Things?

If there’s a beauty in not taking permission, so there is in not knowing. I don’t know how to blog that could attract readers. Last week, I read a blog post entitled “20 Ways to Be Just Another Mediocre Blogger Nobody Gives a Crap About”. I felt I was slapped on my face. My fragile ego was crushed.

Seconds later, I realized I’m okay with it – be another mediocre blogger. Not because I accepted my lot in life. I know I’m a mediocre blogger, because of the things I didn’t know. Also because of the things I’m not willing to do.

I still need to work abroad and enjoy the title “Electrical Engineer.” Some people could say I should pursue my dreams of earning a living with writing. I’ve done a lot of things afraid. I make some courageous acts. When it comes to earning with writing and live my dreams, I don’t have that courage yet.

Some write about their expertise and knowing a lot about some things. I could only brag about how little I know about writing and life in general. Don’t get me wrong, I will still pursue writing. Hoping, I can make art. Hoping, I can make a difference no matter how small it is.

I also realized, writing is more of a habit than an art. It’s a regular thing done daily.

We see ignorance as some kind of weakness. Instead of feeling guilty, we should see it as an acknowledgment. All of us start as a beginner. In reality, giving yourself permission to not know is taking an opportunity for growth.

At the end of the article about mediocre blogger, it says…

“If you’re guilty of some of these mistakes, it just means you’re still in the beginning stages of the journey. Take your licks, do your best to learn from them, and never, ever lose faith in yourself.”

So if you’re like me, we are just in the beginning stage. Learn from our mistakes. Continue on asking questions. Stay curious. Someday, answers will come.

Believe in supernatural miracles. But, believe more in your ability to make miracles from your God-given power.

For now, keep on doing things without asking permission. And remember, you don’t need to know a lot. You don’t have to feel guilty.

You just need to start at something.

Seven Years Passed, Earned Less Than $100, Why I’m Still Writing?

In my first blog post, I wrote I first met my mentor Jomar Hilario. I read in the newsletter of Brother Bo Sanchez about internet marketing workshop.

I can say Brother Bo is arguably the most famous Catholic lay preacher in the Philippines. He is also well-known in many parts of the world. Most likely the one reading this blog post already knew him. If not, then type his name in Google search engine. You’ll find for yourself how he already conquered the cyberspace. All these to spread the message of the love of God.

When I was still in college, I first accidentally watched him preached on television. From then on, as many others, I never stop following him.

In the third quarter of the year 2009, I read Brother Bo wrote a blog post introducing Jomar teaching internet marketing, I get excited and afraid. It is timely as I’m looking for other means of income. But, I have no idea about internet marketing.

Also during this time, I’m already teaching engineering subjects as a part-time instructor in a university. Knowing how shy am I, this is unthinkable to some of my friends. Besides the fact, I’m an average college graduate.

Back to the story, I managed to find the right amount of money to attend the workshop. I can’t remember how I got enough money. I know I almost don’t have any money in my pocket.

After attending the workshop and meeting Jomar in person for the first time, I never stop following Jomar. Same as what I did with Brother Bo.

He suddenly became my internet marketing mentor. Later on, also a mentor in the world of online work.

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What I Did After Jomar’s Workshop

If you could meet me in person in the year 2009, I bet my life you wouldn’t even remember. I was an extremely timid and socially awkward person. Still, up to now, I still have these tendencies.

I created my first ever blog and don’t put my name on it. I don’t want any of my family, relatives, friends and acquaintances learn I did something I’m not known for. I need to protect my fragile ego. I can’t handle any kind of criticisms. Even a smirk from a stranger would frighten me.

Jomar told us, his students in the workshop, to create lots of blogs and put Google AdSense, that is one of the lessons. I also learned the email marketing and getting lists, which is still one of the most critical parts of internet marketing until now.

I already created more than 100 blogs mostly with just one blog post. In order to get money from Google AdSense, I should at least reach $100. Until now, I haven’t reached the requirement.

I Attended More and More of Jomar’s Seminars and Workshops

After my first encounter with my mentor, I continued on attending more of his seminars and workshops. Jomar realized many people including me are not ready for internet marketing. Later on, he conducted “Virtual Assistant Seminars” both online and offline.

I attended at least three of his “Virtual Assistant Seminars” including other seminars for advanced students. I even volunteered to assist him in many of his events. I also bought his online versions of his events.

For those who attended and/or downloaded the “Virtual Assistant Seminar,” there’s an assignment to make a blog with tutorials. We need to embed a PowerPoint presentation in each blog post. Make at least ten tutorials with at least 100 slides. I finished the assignments twice!

After more than 2,000 PowerPoint slides, I got two writing gigs. Yehey!

My first client is a Filipino. She asked me to create a blog for her business. Due to laziness and bad attitude, our working relationships ends quickly. I pretend I know things even if I don’t. I was also hard to get in touch, my client emailing me, but I don’t reply. I think I get paid only once. I can’t even remember how much, I just know it is low as I’m just starting. Well, why bother paying me again?

This is the great famine in the Filipino freelancing world. Many Filipino freelancers lack self-esteem. They don’t ask questions if they don’t know the work. They suddenly disappear.

In my case, I don’t disappear in an instant. But, I need to fix myself. I need to gain more self-confidence. Maybe, a massive amount of self-confidence. But, there’s more important than self-confidence. I’ll tell you later.

I got my second writing gig. He is a foreign client. I couldn’t remember his nationality. My first (also the last as of this writing) writing gig in oDesk (now Upwork), a freelancing platform.

I make guides for software, almost the same as I did with my 2,000+ PowerPoint slides. After I got paid for the first time in oDesk, I was so happy I make a screenshot of it. I told myself I can use this image in the future.

Check out below and get amazed on how much I earned.

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After that, I didn’t get paid again. It was project-based, after finishing the job, that’s it. From then on I didn’t get any online job. Ever.

I have also already taken 39 online exams inside oDesk, six of them have failed scores.

The year was 2012.

When Writing Is All That’s Left

I’d experienced sufferings in silence. From the story, you might imagine how secretive I was. No one even knows how much I failed just to get an online job.

I still keep on looking for an online job. I found another one, but this time the client asked me to write a sample article. After I submitted the article, all I got was nasty comments on how horrible my writings were. I’m not sure if I was scammed or given authentic pieces of advice. He criticized every paragraph of my writings.

The year was 2013. I already concluded online job, much more internet marketing is not for me. I just focus on my normal work.  Go back to the comfortable life. Mediocre, but at least less painful.

When I thought I’m done with pursuing an online work, I then discovered Jeff Goins in one of his Facebook Ads. I read his blog and got amazed of his writings. His strategy in getting readers is counter-intuitive. He said I should write just for the love of writing. Though there are lots more steps to do afterward.

Jeff influenced most of my blog posts. I can say he influenced my writing itself. He also created a community to challenge his followers to write 500 words a day for 31 consecutive days. I succeeded in writing for 31 days without a miss. I continue with the challenge. Now I’m on my 67th day. From day 32 up to now, there are two days of missed writing. I also got four consecutive days of missing my target of 500 words.

All that’s left of me now is writing. No earnings. Almost no readers. And I still loved what I did. I’m not disillusioned or in denial.

Yes, I’m frustrated I didn’t get any external results. I don’t have much to show to my family and my friends. For me, if there’s even just one person who could resonate with my story, then I’m satisfied enough.

More Important Than Self-Confidence

In the early years of my life, I thought I don’t amount to anything. Why I’m alive in the first place? I don’t have self-confidence and the backbone to pursue what I want in my life.

I have another confession to make. Until now, I struggle with self-confidence. The only difference now is I don’t take this too much of a big deal. Self-confidence is important. From my life experience, I know courage is more important.

Courage is not the absence of fear. I know I should continue on doing things afraid. I will not rely much on self-confidence. The habit of courage is what matter more.

My weekly blog post is my habit of courage. You should find your habit of courage. Don’t ask permission from someone. Most probably, you already know what to do.

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Failure is Part of the Game

I’m a Registered Electrical Engineer. I passed my licensure exam in the year 2008. My course has nothing to do with writing a blog. I didn’t join any writing organizations during my school days. I’m not a naturally gifted writer. I got lots of frustrations. I failed, most of the time, even before I start.

I got one more thing to clarify. I failed in earning through internet marketing and finding a sustainable online work because of my lack of commitment and wrong mindsets. I take full responsibility for my failures. My mentor, Jomar Hilario has nothing to do with my failures. He is one the most respected internet marketers. I couldn’t suggest him high enough.

Many of us, including me, put a lot of effort to avoid failures. In traditional schools and workplaces, failure is not an option. No wonder many of us avoid them at all cost.In social media, we show our lives as if everything is fine. If not, we rant as if the people around us and the government caused our messed-up lives.

My goal is not to fail. But, to succeed in pursuing our heart’s desires, failure is part of the plan. Because of our failures, we learn and unlearn new things. We learned to trust the process. Increase our faith. Be more compassionate. Be more loving. Be more human.

Yes, to fail is human. We are not the failures, we just failed.

Failure is not an option, it is compulsory. That’s how life works. We live in a broken world. Full of failures, yet full of hope. Imperfect, yet wonderful.

So, what do you think? Share your thoughts and let me learn from you. From your successes. Even from your failures. You can leave a comment.