On Possibility

como sundown

My son’s second question after meeting anyone for the first time has become the standard, “And what language do you speak?”

It’s no wonder that he’s gotta sort this one out from the start. From the Philippines to Germany and now northern Italy, he’s interacted—and reacted—in several languages.

We are raising bi-lingual children, observing how effortlessly they learn and form words, phrases, and sentences to communicate. I say “observe” because the truth is, we don’t have to “teach” much at all. It’s simply always German with their father; always English with me, consistently.

Karsten can switch, translate, and go from one language to the next in the same conversation with the two of us parents, without even thinking about it. His sister, although she doesn’t talk yet, makes it clear that she understands every word—in either language—and will soon catch up verbally.

Exploring the monastery at Piona
Exploring the monastery at Piona

I am also constantly amazed at the fearless way they will start communicating with random strangers. When going for walks, my son always tries to listen for the sound of other languages.

If it’s German, he’ll be so pleased: “Sie sprechen auch Deutsch!” (They also speak German!)

If English, he’ll talk about superheroes and space. “Do you watch Futurama and LEGO movie Batman?”

If Italian, he’ll use what little he knows: “Giocare con me!”(Play with me!)

He can recognize the sound of Dutch, but not how to speak it—only that his friend Anna, went back home to Amsterdam last month, and she is Dutch.

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He’s quick at translating one word to the next, one meaning to another in an entirely different language.

But usually, we have to explain the bigger words and their definitions. Kinda keeps me on my toes—or in my thinking head.

Yesterday, he asked me: “What does “Possibility mean?”

I had to pause and ponder a moment.

Possibility…

“When something is possible, it’s doable. It could happen. You could make it happen,” I replied.

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He spun contentedly on the swing while digesting in his busy brain, this new, five-syllable word. It sounds nearly the same in Italian: Possibile…yet very different in German: Möglichkeit

For me, the word POSSIBILITY carries so much hope.

It’s probable…it’s achievable. It’s reachable.

And I do believe it is important to teach our children to achieve, to reach, to do, and to dream.

Possibility starts with a dream, doesn’t it? When it’s possible, you don’t give up hoping. You don’t give up that dream.

Are you carrying possibility in your heart today?

Are you letting yourself reach for something you never thought possible before?

Are you doing, daring, and defying the odds?

And are you working at it with faith in your heart?

Well then, it WILL be possible for you!

…and speaking of possibilities, this week, my son begins his fifth school in a new country. With a new sprache/ lingua/language.

For sure it will be a challenge at first, but later, a guaranteed asset. Soon his world may be as diverse as the languages his tongue can speak. We’ll make it happen, one day at a time.

“tutti è possibile!”

 vercana

“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us. And the world will live as one.” –John Lennon

 

“Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all.”—Emily Dickinson

…so tell me, what does the word “POSSIBILITY” mean to you?

 

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For Alexandra

journal alexandraMy one and only daughter turns one year old today.

I haven’t considered buying her a material gift, first off because she’s too young to appreciate anything that isn’t edible—and second, because she’ll be getting a whole lot of presents from relatives at the big party in a few hours (she shares the same birth date as her German grandfather).

But I have decided to do one thing, starting now: I’ve begun a journal, just for her.

My thoughts, notes and musings to her. I want to record these memories, our times together, what she knew,journal2 what she loved, what she did, what she said (and how she said it), what she attempted, and what she accomplished…how she cried, how she touched my heart, how she frustrated me, and angered me, and loved me

…and how enormously I loved her.

baby girlOf course it will be many years till she reads it, but it’s important to start recording these moments now.

As I began to write in this journal, I realized it was also what I wanted as a child. I wanted to know my mother’s reflections…I never knew of her hopes or dreams—whether for myself or for her—and some of the early years of my life are lost with no record of those times (my mom and dad split up when I was five).

But it’s okay.

I have made my way through life with experience for a teacher, and I know now that my parents both love me unconditionally. Still, sometimes, I wish there were more of my mom (in those faraway moments of 1981) to remember.

So, I am gifting my daughter something I never had—insight to her mother’s feelings, dreams, and desires.

…unspoken thoughts, meant only for her.

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Whether she is 13 or 31, or 50 or past then, she will know that her imperfect mom still found a way to pursue a perfect love—the one she found with her.

And perhaps she will realize then, the incredible gift of life to my soul that she, my Alexandra, gave me.

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Defining Love

trek7I never thought he’d ask me this soon, but yesterday, he did:

“What is Love, mom?”

My bilingual, inquisitive three-year-old, who already knows the meaning of four-syllable words such as, Esophagus, Stabilizer, and Paragliding, quizzed me on the simplest yet deepest of English words.

“What is Love, mom?” o21

“Love is, like, when you care about someone or something a lot,” I began. “Love is how I feel about you.”

But then I paused. Maybe the explanation wasn’t as easy as I thought.

“When you love someone, you trust them. You believe them. They make you happy. They make you smile.”

No sooner had I answered, that I realized this was my “general”, easy idea of love.

And all throughout my life, love hasn’t been general, nor easy.

Each time I have loved—if I have loved deeply—it was always different. The love I felt for one person was never the same for another.

And definitely, the way I loved my son was something else entirely.

When my daughter came along, even though I had previously thought my heart was so full of love for my first child, it somehow found space to tank up even more for the new one. Overflowing, overwhelming, love.

I thought also, of the days, when the routine of living becomes frustrating, and I tell my son off with angry words. I become exasperated, and upset…but I don’t love him any less.

Every new day, I love him all over again. No matter what passed yesterday, no matter how naughty or disobedient or frustrated he made me.  I love him, because a parent’s love is unconditional.

o5And then I thought about the love that has kept me through the last four years of marriage. In the beginning, yes, this was the love of romantics, of extreme highs, of happy endings in colorful movies.

But now, it is the love that grows deeper with time—the love that, also unconditionally, forgives, forgets, and strives to be better every day.

It is love that communicates, or tries to.

Even when talking about issues is hard, when there are tears, and harsh words passed; when there are misunderstandings, and stupidity. After four years with a partner, you can be sure to have plenty of that.

It’s Love that knows, through those trying days, that this kind of love is hard to come by, and even harder to keep alive. Love that you work at to preserve—because it’s worth it.

Boys at play
Boys at play

And then, there’s the kind of love as written in the Epistle of 1st Corinthians 13:

“Love is patient…love does not envy, it is not puffed up in pride, does not behave unseemly, it seeks not her own, it is not easily provoked. It thinks no evil.”

If that is a perfect kind of love, then my own is far from ideal. I am always easily provoked! I think of my own and myself all too often. And evil thoughts? Well, that’s just human!

But the verses go on:

Love rejoices in the truth. It bears all things. It believes all things. It hopes all things. Love never fails.”

Could I love this way? Believing all the possibilities? Hoping, always? Can I bear my burdens bravely, because Love gives me the strength?

Yes, I can.

I must.

8 mosI held my son a little bit longer that day, treasuring his thoughtful heart, knowing he would grow up way too fast, ask even tougher questions, and maybe, I would never, ever have all the answers.

But the thoughts he prompted had made me search my own soul, made me get back to what, in the end, really matters in life.

Made me know that, often you can’t define LOVE, or put a meaning on it, or make sense of it.

Indescribable, incredible love: sometimes you just know it’s there, and it’s perfect.

And even when it’s imperfect, if it’s real Love, it’s beautiful.

Now, go pursue, preserve, and fight for yours.

The Great Thing About Travel, Change and Kids

ImageI’m eavesdropping on my son’s new class, hoping (and fretting) as any mother would, that he will adjust well.

But deep inside, I know it won’t be a problem. Because of our traveling lifestyle, our son has grown up a very friendly, outgoing child, with never any problems integrating into a new culture.

I was always amazed when in Italy, he would play with the neighborhood kids. They didn’t speak a word of each others’ language, yet they would enjoy playing on the street behind our house, or down by the lake for hours, and somehow understand each other.

That’s the beauty of being a child. When life changes the circumstances around you, you aren’t yet set in your habits, and can easily develop new ones.

The other day, as the taxi driver helped us unload groceries and bring them to our doorstep, my son spoke to him:

“Thanks, Manny,” he said aloud, “you’re quite busy today!” (He had asked him his name previously, during the ride home)

The small exchange between him and the taxi driver made me stop and think. Over the last few days, all I had associated the taxi drivers with was rip-off charges and speeding. And here was my three-year-old, contemplating the very busy day he had had.  

In the school room next door, I now overhear his teacher, introducing him to the class, who are all a year older: “This is your new classmate, be nice to him because he’s just a baby.”

“I’m not a baby, I’m a big boy,” he corrects her loudly.

I smile to myself; I have nothing to be anxious about. Integration comes naturally to this three-year-old. I hope he carries that confidence with him for the rest of his life.

Lago di Como
Italy, 2012. My son on the right side of the merry-go-around, with the blue sunhat.

Facing My Biggest Fear: Driving Lessons!

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Today is unusually dry and warm, like a summer spell in mid-October. I am excited, scared, confident, nervous, hopeful and trembling all at the same time.

Going through the motions of getting my student’s permit at the LTO (Land Transportation Office), I struggle to focus. Feeling half out of my body, it’s as if observing myself from a distance. (“Are you really doing this? At 32 years old? Isn’t that way too late?”)

There’s the confident, go-getter me, telling myself that after all those years of procrastinating, I’m finally going to drive and enjoy doing it….and then the born-in-the-year-of-the-chicken me, who will never forget the automobile accident of 2012 when we rear-ended a bus one rainy night in Tagaytay.

Pretty terrifying. This is what our van looked like in the aftermath:

van

That side of me is the one who has kept my other adventurous side from actually taking lessons, even though I picked up the leaflet for this driving school ten months ago.

It’s the part of me that notices, right away, the giant sign (but how can you miss it) in the LTO waiting area: “How to avoid being the victim of carnapping, kidnapping, or hijacking.” (Gee, thanks.)

But now I’m saying, no excuses. Every day is an opportunity to learn something new, to advance, to be a better me.

I go through the motions, sign the papers, scribble my signature, have my picture taken, pay the money, and receive my student’s permit.

But I know that the actual driving hours won’t be that easy.

Growing up in Asia, I never felt the need to get behind the wheel. Public transportation, although not super convenient or comfortable, is everywhere, on every street corner.

Later, working in East Africa, I still couldn’t drive; I simply hitch-hiked, chicken-bussed my way around, or found other modes of transportation–like this handsome fellow down by the Nile.

camel nile

But it was when we moved to Europe a few years ago that I realized, immobility was like living on another planet.

Becoming a parent changed everything.

I now feel stuck not being able to drive my kids anywhere, or pick them up from school.

I feel stuck when they are sick and we can’t take ourselves to the doctor.

I feel stuck, when I could be driving them places, giving them new adventures, taking them on the road.

So my kids have actually given me the jolt I needed to go and take those driving lessons.

That, and my husband’s non-encouragement.

His joking laughter at my announcement one day—four years into marriage—to finally learn to drive; his continual pointing out my clumsiness and forgetfulness. And, his unhelpful comments before I leave the house for driving school: “Don’t crash the student car!”

So I am out to prove him wrong.

Sometimes it just takes one person like that to make you do what they say can’t be done, right?

Here goes.

succeed

(Thanks to Martine de Luna for directing me to the above poster.)

Scared…

Confident…

Hopeful…

Nervous…

Trembling…

Determined to do this. For these little people; for myself.

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Wish me luck, will you? (And a little prayer!)

Barefoot Beach Strolls and Celebration

We are having a lot of fun at LSP these days–running monthly contests for our readers and contributors! Come say hi and read the winning entry by Althea Ceria, who just won an overnight stay at the luxury resort, The Farm in San Benito!

Our contest this month is sponsored by the Four Seasons resort in Bali, who are offering the lucky winner a beachfront dinner for two at Sundara in Jimbaran Bay! Read the details and join here.

September is off to a good start. I have been spending a lot of sundowns with my kids at the beach, enjoying the time now, while they are so young, so fun. They will grow quickly; the seasons and most likely our circumstances will change. I look out and know there are new things on the horizon.

It’s a good feeling, when you can’t wait for tomorrow.

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