Looking back: 14 for 2014

2014Here’s a reprint of my list in 2014 with comments added on how I fared sans the preface.  I actually didn’t ever go back to this list during the year (which I hope won’t happen to my #ThingsToDoIn2015), but it’s refreshing to look back and chime in now that the year it was meant to be for has ended.

IN 2014…

1.  I will be kinder to myself.  Charity, as they say, begins at home — but we always tend to forget ourselves.  After two years of self-flaggelation and of thinking the worst of me, I think I’m ready to move forward knowing I have learned my lesson from my failings and am a better person for it.

Kindness begets kindness and I hope to be able to give more of that after I give myself the same.

Done.  Although it took me a while to actually live it, I took these words to heart beginning the middle of the year when I would have normally just given up.  There were setbacks that would have ordinarily made me pull back, but instead, I reminded myself I WAS IMPORTANT, TOO.

2.  I will get rid of 5 items everyday to unclutter my life.  I tend to hold on to things longer than I should — and although I don’t consider myself to have had a deprived childhood, I am always thinking something worth throwing can become something or be used for another purpose later.  I’m always afraid that I might regret throwing something away.  End result: Clutter galore.  I have so far succeeded in starting one step at a time — trying to find things to put away or throw away when I sit at my desk at the start of a work day, and at home as I end it.

I have to work on this this year, as I barely got off the ground.  Hence, it’s making a come back in this year’s list of To Dos.

3.  I will be more organized and be less of a pack rat. Although related to the previous one, being organized is different from uncluttering.  I’d like to be more efficient at work by going back to practices I had gotten used to before and by trying to keep things in order.

First is the need for just one calendar to keep all relevant dates (like the school calendar, birthdays, etc.).  In the past, I had kept separate calendars and ended up getting confused and not being able to see everything together.  Thanks to the iPhone I now carry, I’m hoping to keep that all under control.  Same with notes and addresses.  I also want to create a hardcopy address book — another project in the making.

I want to see my journals all lined up and ready to pick up when I have an entry to write.  I want to have my art supplies — particularly the ones I use for jewelry making — more organized.  Putting them in individual organizers by plating (gold plated, antique brass, sterling silver, polymer clay) is a start, but because of the size of my stash needs a better approach.

Work in progress!

4.  I will try and learn to let go and forgive.  I am human, but I tell myself I was created to be better than just being one.  The past two years have been challenging and painful, and while I keep hearing that letting go and forgiveness will help me move forward, it hasn’t been quite easy.

Forgiveness is another journey that I must make, and while I can see my destination, I am trying to figure out how best to get there.

I want to be able to let go so that if something ends up hurting me, I wouldn’t be hurt as badly because I am holding on to that loosely.  I don’t want to hold it too loosely to let it go, though — just not too tightly that it would end up feeling like losing such a big part of me if it ends up not being meant for me.

There are many things that 2014 taught me, and while I had the best of intentions writing what I had written above, things turned out very differently.  And yet, as I mentioned in one of my year end posts, I have learned to give forgiveness — more for my benefit than the one forgiven — and it has been instrumental in helping me move forward.

5.  I will save more. My best motivation is to think more of myself.  With what I make, I should be comfortable and I’m getting there.  I want to be financially independent and to get back into sound economic shape.  I want to be ready for any eventuality and to be able to fend for myself money-wise.

I had a moderate degree of success in this regard but I intend to keep working on it in 2015.

6.  I will reopen and pursue my entrepreneurship with passion again. My life seems to have been in suspended animation for the last two years, leaving one of my personal accomplishments on the sidelines, withering away.  This year I promise to work more earnestly on my crafting and in selling my work through my Etsy Shop.

For starters, I’m reopening the store this week, even with just ten pieces for sale.  I am reworking my packaging and marketing, and will be gearing towards improving my craft by taking classes along the way.  I will try to do at least two fairs to be able to sell to the public directly, but not after feeling more confident about my work.

I also need to figure out if jewelry making is really the niche I want to attack or should it be papercrafting?  Should it be something else like repurposing or upcycling?  My heart and resources are really into jewelry making but I need to focus and begin again, and I hope that I can get this off the ground in the first 100 days of 2014.

I tried.  I guess there were just too many distractions in 2014 that kept me from focusing clearly on things beyond myself, and I am hoping that having regained my footing at this point in time, 2015 will enable me to reboot the store.

7.  I will try to read more. I am reading more right now and have committed to read the entire Bible in one year.  I also hope to finish the books that are just floating around my Kindle app from Steve Jobs’ biography to the latest from Grisham.  I am saddened that Tom Clancy is now on the other side, but I managed to enjoy Robert Ludlum despite his being gone, too.

I want to diversify my reading list and hopefully get at least 14 books down for 2014. (Wish me luck!)

I know I am starting to sound like a broken record because this is the one “resolution” or “to do in the coming year” that has appeared year in and year out on my lists.  It has been frustrating that I haven’t had the chance to even get to a level of “can do” or “will do” but it is a forever wish to be able to just immerse myself in reading as much as I can.

I’m hoping the History courses and the required readings, some of which are good non-fiction and not necessarily textbook materials, will actually help me move on and accomplish reading the six books for 2015 I’ve set as a goal.

8.  I will do more personal art. My projects had lain dormant and unattended and are now being resurrected with a newfound zest to express myself.  I have words, phrases, sayings I want to see executed in mini-canvasses.  I was inspired by the works for sale in the previous iteration of the Shops in Bryant Park this Christmas 2013.

One of my more ambitious ideas is to be able to produce a set of postcards I can sell to benefit my chosen causes.  I am seriously considering studying producing limited edition postcard sets from amateur photographers, particularly young Filipino camera enthusiasts whose talent need showcasing.

Another is to go to more art classes and maybe be able to draw a face by end of the year.  (My hand tends to go the way Picasso’s went — and I’m no Picasso.)

While I did a lot of personal art compared to 2013, 2014 saw a lot of “starts” that are still ongoing and will hopefully find fruition and conclusion in 2015.  This has been a true source of comfort and therapy, and I hope to continue with my altered book (now including 2015), and maybe even begin a new one sometime in the year.  I’m taking it a page at a time, and I’m quite happy with the progress I’ve made.

Again, I say I’m not an artist.  I’m a crafter.  No pressure.  It’s all for my own self-expression.

9.  I will be more thankful and celebrate life again. I am not quite there yet, but throughout the time I was being harshest on myself, I found hope in counting my blessings.  I learned to appreciate what I had in the face of what I thought I didn’t.  I guess it is what has helped me to be strong in the face of what seems like a huge chunk of my life being taken away from me, because I still felt there was something I had been given.

I have mourned, I have cried, I have wallowed in sadness and heartbreak.  I have to force myself out into the sunlight because I cannot let life’s disappointments get the better of me.  I will try and write my Five Things to be Happy about/Thankful for list more often as a constant reminder of my blessings.

I will celebrate life myself without waiting for others to celebrate it with me.  It is an acknowledgment of the blessings I have received, and the blessings others have given me.

While my Five things list has wallowed in limbo and has popped in and out throughout the year, I’m going to start a weekly reminder on my calendar to make sure I stop and write that list sometime during the week in 2015.  

I can, however, say I have made strides in being more thankful, even if my Thank You Postcard Project is still in the works.  I have made a pronounced effort to thank others directly by way of a note, an email, a text message (particularly during Thanksgiving), Instagram, a phone call, or a longhand letter when I can.  

And I don’t just say Thank you — I write a note explaining why I am saying thank you and what it means to me.  Sometimes it freaks people out, but I’d like to think I’m paying it forward.  I know how it is to be appreciated and acknowledged, and I’m hoping it spurs the ones I thank with the grace to thank others who make a difference in their lives in return.

10.  I will strive to stay healthy and become more fit. I managed to lose 20 lbs in the latter half of 2013 and I hope to lose even more in the next 6 months and get healthy.  As I grow older, I’ve realized that taking care of my body is becoming more of a necessity rather than an option.  Otherwise, my body parts might just start conking out on me.

Done!

11.  I will share more of my time and resources. I really prefer to give than raise funds but when the need is great, I don’t hesitate to put my name out there and ask for donations.  I have come to discover that although my own financial resources may be limited, I have a way of asking people that makes them want to give.  I did that for a friend who was trying to raise money for the victims of Typhoon Yolanda, being a native from Tacloban herself, and with one appeal and less than 38 hours, we raised $500, my measly donation included.

Coming from a third world country that is always in need even during its best days, I have realized my blessings are abundant enough for me to give more — not necessarily moneywise, but there are other ways to make a difference, and I’d like to make a difference in 2014.

I tried raising money for my mother’s annual Christmas party for the poor folks in her hometown of Barangay San Vicente in Bulan, Sorsogon, but the effort came a little late.  I promise to do better in 2015.  However, I did send my contribution which was enough to cover the party and allow the children a decent holiday party.

12.  I will put my “teacher” hat on. When I was in law school back in another lifetime, my classmates liked getting what we called case digests because they were good summations of otherwise long and complicated cases.  When a plot was too complicated, I’d take to the board and explain in simpler terms.  I also had a gift for giving textbook like definitions I pulled from context and stock knowledge.  It wasn’t that I was a genius, I just had this knack for explaining things without thinking you knew what I already knew.

My class is all but one person whose little brain I am trying to mold like my own, knowing he has the smarts and the aptitude and even more than I possessed.  My first debacle is learning American History in earnest, and the fact that it’s his favorite subject doubles the pressure on his poor mom. (Me!)  I also want to teach him cursive writing which is not offered here.  I have started already, trying to prepare my little guy for the Statewide tests happening in April.  I know I can do this, and I WILL do this.

Done.  He did much better in the 2014 tests which was a relief, but I have fallen greatly behind in teaching him cursive writing.  (Project for 2015!)

13.  I will enjoy New York City and do something “New York” at least once a month. I have been a New Yorker for almost 14 years now, and I’ve been thankful that whole time to live in one of the greatest cities in the world.  It is not lost upon me that both for Americans and the world outside our borders, New York City is THE destination to see.

Unfortunately, living here has made it ordinary despite its being extraordinary.  I wish I could do more to explore this wonderful city and I intend to do that from hereon.  Visit new places — like trying new things and new restaurants, even on my own.  Enjoying a play or two.. watching a concert once a year.. and maybe one day making it to the Opera or to Lincoln Center to watch the world renowned New York City Ballet.

I tried to do something towards the end of the year but my life has been constantly in flux.  I have put this on my 2015 list again and will hopefully be more successful and deliberate this coming year — actually accomplishing something.  Watch out for my updates so we can keep track together.

14.  I will be more fervent in my pursuit of a closer relationship with God.  It’s not just because I believe that we are never truly down and out — that when things seem to be at its worst, we receive or are blessed with something good or even greater.  Through the worst of times, I am forever grateful that I have never felt closer to God, and I have never felt his presence stronger in my life.  When I asked a question, he answered clear as day.

My journey in this respect is far from easy.  And I take that as His way of showing me that this is the most important relationship in my life because it is what takes the greatest amount of work.  While it may be the hardest to be good at, it is the most rewarding in the end.

Countless times, I found myself crying and lost in anger and pain — and the only thing that gave me comfort was the thought that He was holding my hand through it all.  I want to keep working at being a better person, and a more deserving daughter to Him.  It is such a struggle given all that I am going through, but I know I will make it because He is there with me.

I have tried and continue to try.. and will keep trying.  Sometimes we want to think that we can easily do something we so badly want, but our human nature intervenes and keeps us from doing just that.  But my faith has never waned, even when my heart was ready to throw the towel in.  It has kept me going through all the challenges I faced in 2014, and it is what I’m looking to to keep me moving forward this coming year.

———

So how did you do against your list, if you had one?

A matter of faith

Ash WednesdayI went for ash at a nearby parish which was a short walk from my building, like I had done the last 3 years.  There was this pair of ladies on the church stoop with a camera on a tripod, and I was curious but had secretly hoped they wouldn’t stop me for whatever it was they wanted to ask.  But stop me, they did.

They were doing market research and putting together a documentary in the process, and would I be willing to answer a few questions about Ash Wednesday for a talent fee of $10.  I don’t know what made me sign the release form pronto, but I said yes, took off my shades, and waited as they got set up with the rest of New York walking past me.   I was lucky that it was a sidestreet and not a main thoroughfare, but this being New York City, the traffic was pretty brisk during the lunch hour.

From the first question of what is Ash Wednesday to whether or not the Pope’s admonition about Ash Wednesday brought me here (and no, it did not — I go for my ash whoever the sitting pope is) — I’m glad I took the time to answer the questions, because it was a reaffirmation of what I have grown up to believe all my life about my religious leaning.

Like all other surveys and interviews, there is that question that sticks with you:  “How would you define faith?”  And spontaneously, I replied, “It’s believing in something or someone, a higher power or being even if you cannot see Him or physically feel him.”

That is the kind of faith that I am trying to teach my son, and it’s a kind of faith that you cannot give to someone if you don’t have it in your heart. 

I did a Lenten fast yesterday which was rare and not easy for me, but I made it through the day with a few slices of bread and water.  At night, I made do without the meat and had grilled cheese.  For the season, I’m trying to give up red meat.  So far, so good.

This Lenten season is more solemn to me for many reasons, and I want to make the most of this season or repentance and renewal and flesh out my relationship with God.  Faith has always been a very personal aspect of my existence, and while I wear my faith on my sleeve literally, what goes on and what I think and say to Him stays between Him and me. 

I am also trying to find the courage to forgive and to not let anger or pain crowd my heart.  It is not easy but I know it is the only way to find my way to inner peace and calm.  I try to be more introspective now, thinking before I say or do something — and reminding myself of what is right and just according to His word.  I am trying.  I am praying.

The past few months have seen me feeling closer to my God and I have never been more reassured of His presence in my life than at this time.  I feel blessed. 

I wish you all the blessing of that kind of presence and reassurance, and hope that the Lenten season will find you having a closer and more meaningful releationship with Him.

Art Journal Every Day: “Life isn’t fair but God is”

My journal entries are very raw and frank that is why while I used to share my journaling openly, I’ve opted to blur the journaling this time around. I’ve also used my entries to encourage myself to move forward and be more optimistic. For the most part, it’s a continuing effort. But at the end of the day, just seeing the entries that are already done gives me a sense of accomplishment. To me, it’s a very concrete manifestation of physically moving forward which helps me motivation-wise.

Art Journal Every Day: "Life isn't fair but God is"-close upsHere’s a layout that I rendered by doing layers of text. First, there’s a highlighter background rendering of the lyrics of a favorite song of mine by Rupert Holmes, “Touch and Go”.

There are two main lines here (totally unrelated to the song) but they are really visible only when you look closely it have the book in your hands.

On the left is the title of this post: “Life isn’t fair but God is.”
Art Journal Every Day: "Life isn't fair but God is"-close ups
Then under the main journal entry which I wrote using a black fine sharpie, I write “It will get better.”

Art Journal Every Day: "Life isn't fair but God is"-close ups

It’s very busy but that was the whole point of layering the texts with minimal drawings. I had started doodling these type of flower scribbles when I was in high school and haven’t really used them in any layout so I did on this one.

This is how it end up looking once done:
Art Journal Every Day: Life isn't fair but God is"

Til the next entry..

14 for 2014

14 in 2014Everyone is into making lists with the start of a new year upon us.  So here is mine.  I had written this down in one sitting in as spontaneous a way as possible in the order it occurred to me.

I like the way the list shaped up because it started with me, and ended with who should be the most important one to all of us.  Read on..

IN 2014…

1.  I will be kinder to myself.  Charity, as they say, begins at home — but we always tend to forget ourselves.  After two years of self-flaggelation and of thinking the worst of me, I think I’m ready to move forward knowing I have learned my lesson from my failings and am a better person for it. 

Kindness begets kindness and I hope to be able to give more of that after I give myself the same.

2.  I will get rid of 5 items everyday to unclutter my life.  I tend to hold on to things longer than I should — and although I don’t consider myself to have had a deprived childhood, I am always thinking something worth throwing can become something or be used for another purpose later.  I’m always afraid that I might regret throwing something away.  End result: Clutter galore.  I have so far succeeded in starting one step at a time — trying to find things to put away or throw away when I sit at my desk at the start of a work day, and at home as I end it. 

3.  I will be more organized and be less of a pack rat. Although related to the previous one, being organized is different from uncluttering.  I’d like to be more efficient at work by going back to practices I had gotten used to before and by trying to keep things in order. 

First is the need for just one calendar to keep all relevant dates (like the school calendar, birthdays, etc.).  In the past, I had kept separate calendars and ended up getting confused and not being able to see everything together.  Thanks to the iPhone I now carry, I’m hoping to keep that all under control.  Same with notes and addresses.  I also want to create a hardcopy address book — another project in the making.

I want to see my journals all lined up and ready to pick up when I have an entry to write.  I want to have my art supplies — particularly the ones I use for jewelry making — more organized.  Putting them in individual organizers by plating (gold plated, antique brass, sterling silver, polymer clay) is a start, but because of the size of my stash needs a better approach.

4.  I will try and learn to let go and forgive.  I am human, but I tell myself I was created to be better than just being one.  The past two years have been challenging and painful, and while I keep hearing that letting go and forgiveness will help me move forward, it hasn’t been quite easy.

Forgiveness is another journey that I must make, and while I can see my destination, I am trying to figure out how best to get there. 

I want to be able to let go so that if something ends up hurting me, I wouldn’t be hurt as badly because I am holding on to that loosely.  I don’t want to hold it too loosely to let it go, though — just not too tightly that it would end up feeling like losing such a big part of me if it ends up not being meant for me.

5.  I will save more. My best motivation is to think more of myself.  With what I make, I should be comfortable and I’m getting there.  I want to be financially independent and to get back into sound economic shape.  I want to be ready for any eventuality and to be able to fend for myself money-wise. 

6.  I will reopen and pursue my entrepreneurship with passion again. My life seems to have been in suspended animation for the last two years, leaving one of my personal accomplishments on the sidelines, withering away.  This year I promise to work more earnestly on my crafting and in selling my work through my Etsy Shop

For starters, I’m reopening the store this week, even with just ten pieces for sale.  I am reworking my packaging and marketing, and will be gearing towards improving my craft by taking classes along the way.  I will try to do at least two fairs to be able to sell to the public directly, but not after feeling more confident about my work.

I also need to figure out if jewelry making is really the niche I want to attack or should it be papercrafting?  Should it be something else like repurposing or upcycling?  My heart and resources are really into jewelry making but I need to focus and begin again, and I hope that I can get this off the ground in the first 100 days of 2014.

7.  I will try to read more. I am reading more right now and have committed to read the entire Bible in one year.  I also hope to finish the books that are just floating around my Kindle app from Steve Jobs’ biography to the latest from Grisham.  I am saddened that Tom Clancy is now on the other side, but I managed to enjoy Robert Ludlum despite his being gone, too.

I want to diversify my reading list and hopefully get at least 14 books down for 2014. (Wish me luck!)

8.  I will do more personal art. My projects had lain dormant and unattended and are now being resurrected with a newfound zest to express myself.  I have words, phrases, sayings I want to see executed in mini-canvasses.  I was inspired by the works for sale in the previous iteration of the Shops in Bryant Park this Christmas 2013. 

One of my more ambitious ideas is to be able to produce a set of postcards I can sell to benefit my chosen causes.  I am seriously considering studying producing limited edition postcard sets from amateur photographers, particularly young Filipino camera enthusiasts whose talent need showcasing.

Another is to go to more art classes and maybe be able to draw a face by end of the year.  (My hand tends to go the way Picasso’s went — and I’m no Picasso.)

9.  I will be more thankful and celebrate life again. I am not quite there yet, but throughout the time I was being harshest on myself, I found hope in counting my blessings.  I learned to appreciate what I had in the face of what I thought I didn’t.  I guess it is what has helped me to be strong in the face of what seems like a huge chunk of my life being taken away from me, because I still felt there was something I had been given.

I have mourned, I have cried, I have wallowed in sadness and heartbreak.  I have to force myself out into the sunlight because I cannot let life’s disappointments get the better of me.  I will try and write my Five Things to be Happy about/Thankful for list more often as a constant reminder of my blessings.

I will celebrate life myself without waiting for others to celebrate it with me.  It is an acknowledgment of the blessings I have received, and the blessings others have given me.

10.  I will strive to stay healthy and become more fit. I managed to lose 20 lbs in the latter half of 2013 and I hope to lose even more in the next 6 months and get healthy.  As I grow older, I’ve realized that taking care of my body is becoming more of a necessity rather than an option.  Otherwise, my body parts might just start conking out on me.

11.  I will share more of my time and resources. I really prefer to give than raise funds but when the need is great, I don’t hesitate to put my name out there and ask for donations.  I have come to discover that although my own financial resources may be limited, I have a way of asking people that makes them want to give.  I did that for a friend who was trying to raise money for the victims of Typhoon Yolanda, being a native from Tacloban herself, and with one appeal and less than 38 hours, we raised $500, my measly donation included.

Coming from a third world country that is always in need even during its best days, I have realized my blessings are abundant enough for me to give more — not necessarily moneywise, but there are other ways to make a difference, and I’d like to make a difference in 2014.

12.  I will put my “teacher” hat on. When I was in law school back in another lifetime, my classmates liked getting what we called case digests because they were good summations of otherwise long and complicated cases.  When a plot was too complicated, I’d take to the board and explain in simpler terms.  I also had a gift for giving textbook like definitions I pulled from context and stock knowledge.  It wasn’t that I was a genius, I just had this knack for explaining things without thinking you knew what I already knew. 

My class is all but one person whose little brain I am trying to mold like my own, knowing he has the smarts and the aptitude and even more than I possessed.  My first debacle is learning American History in earnest, and the fact that it’s his favorite subject doubles the pressure on his poor mom. (Me!)  I also want to teach him cursive writing which is not offered here.  I have started already, trying to prepare my little guy for the Statewide tests happening in April.  I know I can do this, and I WILL do this.

13.  I will enjoy New York City and do something “New York” at least once a month. I have been a New Yorker for almost 14 years now, and I’ve been thankful that whole time to live in one of the greatest cities in the world.  It is not lost upon me that both for Americans and the world outside our borders, New York City is THE destination to see.

Unfortunately, living here has made it ordinary despite its being extraordinary.  I wish I could do more to explore this wonderful city and I intend to do that from hereon.  Visit new places — like trying new things and new restaurants, even on my own.  Enjoying a play or two.. watching a concert once a year.. and maybe one day making it to the Opera or to Lincoln Center to watch the world renowned New York City Ballet.

14.  I will be more fervent in my pursuit of a closer relationship with God.  It’s not just because I believe that we are never truly down and out — that when things seem to be at its worst, we receive or are blessed with something good or even greater.  Through the worst of times, I am forever grateful that I have never felt closer to God, and I have never felt his presence stronger in my life.  When I asked a question, he answered clear as day.

My journey in this respect is far from easy.  And I take that as His way of showing me that this is the most important relationship in my life because it is what takes the greatest amount of work.  While it may be the hardest to be good at, it is the most rewarding in the end. 

Countless times, I found myself crying and lost in anger and pain — and the only thing that gave me comfort was the thought that He was holding my hand through it all.  I want to keep working at being a better person, and a more deserving daughter to Him.  It is such a struggle given all that I am going through, but I know I will make it because He is there with me.

Because I believe..

My “catch up” day is usually Monday, but because of the observance of Martin Luther King Day yesterday, I got a reprieve and had an additional day to laze around.

I don’t want to give a progress report on my list of things to do over the weekend because suffice it to say, I didn’t quite get anywhere with the list, but I did get to accomplish a lot. For starters, I have upped my list of items for sale in my shop from 8 to 24. (!) I had more to put up, but one thing about etsy listings is that timing, as well as volume, work together to increase a store’s visibility given the huge population of sellers and stores. So I’m trying to spread out the timing and volume of listings.

I didn’t get to bloghop much, but I did visit two or three favorite blogs this morning just to see what’s up with my usual reads. It’s not just to snoop around but sometimes, like today, I pick up a blog prompt or two. I don’t always leave a comment when I blog hop, often because I’m zipping in and out of a screen. And sometimes my thoughts are too long to leave as a comment, so I try to make it a blog post if I can.

I came across a young blogger currently in dire straights because of a choice of faith. I cannot say I empathize because I have been born and raised a Catholic and continue to be one, out of choice at this point, no longer by force of circumstance. I have always said that religion is a personal choice, and I have always been tolerant and accepting of other’s personal choices. I have friends who are born again Christians, protestants, agnostics and atheists. I always tell others that this open-mindedness is a result of having been subjected to a rather academic exposure to various religions as part of my 7th grade Religion classes with the nuns.

I live by the simple rule of thumb that I respect your choice of religion for as long as you respect mine. So the minute I hear that I will not be saved if I don’t accept your faith and beliefs, I tune out.

I have been fortunate to have had a solid Catholic education. Beyond the teachings of the Bible, I have had the chance to examine my faith against other religious beliefs, not to see that mine are better or the right ones, but to see the difference in the ways we recognize a higher power and show our devotion to our God, whoever He may be. I am trying to instill the same open-mindedness and religious tolerance in my son, more so since he is growing up in such a diverse mix of religious persuasions. Unlike his father and me, my son is in a secular school where religion is not part of the curriculum due to the separation of Church and state. He does go to religious education class, but there is only so much they can impart in almost two hours each Sunday and the succeeding eucharistic celebration. Still, I try. In my heart I wish he could benefit from the same religious upbringing that his father and I were blessed with in our formative years, but that was in another lifetime.

As a parent, we want our children to grow up nurturing the same faith in their hearts as we do in ours. But like most things, as a young mind starts to grow and develop into its own person, faith is something that we can try and help shape, but which in the end is a personal choice of the individual. I dream of having my son grow up to be a good Catholic Christian, but I cannot just wish that — I have to foster that and imbibe that into his life by being a good example of my faith and by teaching him about my faith. I cannot expect my son to go to Church if I don’t, so we try to go to mass more often now that he is cognizant of his responsibilities as a young Catholic. I try to teach him about Jesus’ role in our lives and why prayer is very important. I tell him as often as I can that I start my day by thanking God for giving me a son like him and asking Jesus to keep him safe and healthy always.

I have always said that there is only so much that we can control as parents, but those things that I can control and stir as his mother, I will do my best to keep a firm grip on. I know that when he goes out into the world and he hears about other faiths, he may choose another leaning. But I believe in my own resolve to teach him about my Catholic faith extensively to make his own faith steadfast — no matter what doubts or choices are put before him. I wouldn’t want to force religion upon him, but that is not going to be necessary if I succeed in making him love and live the faith I breathe.

I imagine it will not be easy for me to accept if he chooses some other body of beliefs to live by. In very elementary terms, we want to be sure we land in the same “heaven” or after life. But that’s over-simplifying things. But I always tell him all I want for him to be is a good person — in his mind and heart — and even when I’m gone, I know he will be fine.

Our personal choice as to how we worship our God comes with many responsibilities and challenges. It is no different from the disciples of old who were thrown to the lions literally and who were subjected to religious persecution. While wars helped to fight the advance of other faiths and fostered others to grow exponentially, as an individual, we are all tasked to take the humble route and bow our heads down in the face of dissent. Anger leads to hate — and no faith in its pure form fosters hatred. We have to live our faith with dignity and with humility — in total surrender. And part of that surrender is not giving in to hating others who do not choose the same faith as ours, even if they are forcing their faith and beliefs on us.

As a Christian friend used to say, sometimes it’s not always easy to do the Christian thing — but we have to go that way.

I have to admit that while I say I respect all faiths and ways of believing, I feel a tinge of sadness for those who do not have the faith to believe that there is a higher being whether he is the God I know or not. That is the essence of faith — believing that God is there, whether we see Him — feeling His presence even when we doubt. I had a Catholic friend in law school who invited me over to her house because the block Rosary was stopping by, and she didn’t know how to pray the rosary. I easily obliged, and I prayed. I feel blessed that He is a part of my life — and I want to give that gift to my son, too. I want to plant the seeds so that he may not share that agony of being torn between what he wants to believe and what I believe.

Because at the end of the day, my son is one reason I feel closer to my God. His very being and his pure heart has shown me God keeps me close to His heart.