Tag Archives: dayzeroproject

My Project365: January 2016

Only a week left and February is almost up! So, what happened in January? Here’s a snippet of my life in boxes.

 

Crafts, food, coffee, friends, lovelife and the most important aspect of my life – family. These are the things that keep me sane in this crazy world we live in. How about you? How do you document your life?

 

P.S. Based on the photos, I’m not a photographer – and you don’t have to be one to start your own Project365. So, go and capture your days in photos! 🙂

Manila City WalkaTour: Intramuros

Roadtrips and going to at least 10 tourist destinations in Metro Manila are included in my Day Zero Project list. I, together with my boyfriend Alex, started the roadtrips last January 30. Where else it may be? No other than Philippine’s capital city: Manila!

Our itinerary: Intramuros and Rizal Park. As shameful as it may sound, I don’t have any memory of ever touring these places in my 29 years of existence. I may have gone off in one of our school fieldtrips before but I can’t remember, hence, I’ve decided that Manila should be first in our series of Metro Manila walkatours.

I did my homework prior to our tour, so here’s a little bit of history. Intramuros is the oldest district of Manila. It is a city inside a defensive wall built by the Spaniards in the late 16th century. The fortification protected the city from foreign invaders. It is also known as the Walled City, as “intramuros” is a Latin word which means “within the walls”. It was damaged during World War II, was restored and became a National Historical Monument in 1951.

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Map of Intramuros

 

We met at 7:00am and rode a Pier-bound jeepney from my office building at West Avenue. We got off at Plaza de Roma, which is the starting point of our walkatour. Plaza de Roma, also known as Plaza Roma, is one of two major public squares in Intramuros, Manila. The plaza is considered to be the center of Intramuros.

The plaza is a prototype of the Spanish colonial city planning. Like in most old towns in the Philippines, where the church, the municipal hall and houses of key officials surround an open court or plaza, Plaza de Roma is surrounded by what used to be major government buildings.

 

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King Carlos VI Monument

 

 

Standing at the center of the plaza, cast in bronze, is the regal statue of King Carlos IV. The statue was locally made at Fort Santiago’s royal foundry or the maestranza. It was erected to honor the king for sending the first smallpox vaccine to the colony.

 

 

 

In front of Plaza de Roma is the Manila Cathedral. The Roman Catholic Basilica is the seat of the archbishop of the archdiocese of Manila and is located in the Intramuros district. It was originally built in 1581.

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Plaza de Roma, Manila Cathedral at the background

 

While taking pictures at the magnificent Manila Cathedral, we were approached by pedicab drivers and kalesa (horse-driven carriage) drivers who offered tours at PhP50 minimum to P300-500 per person. We refused all offers since we’ve decided to tour by foot. There are lots of vendors roaming around, selling various items like handmade accessories, rosaries, tourist maps, bottled water and pica-picas. We bought a pair of wooden bracelets and a pink beaded rosary for me.

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A kalesa at Plaza de Roma

 

Other buildings surrounding Plaza de Roma are Palacio del Gobernador (now Commission on Elections) to the west, and the Casas Consistoriales, also known as the Ayuntamiento de Manila (now houses the Bureau of the Treasury) to the east.

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Palacio del Gobernador
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Ayuntamiento de Manila

 

Walking southeast from Plaza Roma passing via the left wing of the Palacio del Gobernador is Postigo Street. This street is named after the gate at the end of the road –Postigo de Palacio.  This was the gate where Jose Rizal passed through from Fort Santiago on his way to his execution at Bagumbayan in 1896.

 

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On the wall of Baluarte Plano Luneta de Sta. Isabel
We climbed up the wall through the stairs beside the gate and walk down towards Baluarte Plano Luneta de Santa Isabel, passing by the San Ignacio Church ruins. We continued trailing the wall along Sta. Lucia St. until we reached Sta. Lucia Gardens.
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Wall along Sta. Lucia Street
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Sta. Lucia Street
We then went down to Galeria de los Presidentes dela Republica Filipina, a site where murals of past Presidents are displayed.
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Galeria de los Presidentes dela Republica Filipina
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Strolling down Sta. Lucia St., we then turned right to Real St. At the corner of Sta. Lucia and Real is the ECJ Building, formerly the site of Casa Nueva, or the provincial house of the Agustinian Order. When it was destroyed by a fire in 1932, a two-story Adamson University was constructed; this eventually was destroyed in 1945.
Farther down the street is the San Agustin Church & Museum  – the oldest building in the Philippines and the last genuine heritage symbol of Intramuros. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993. Note the missing bell tower, intricately carved doors, Chinese lions and amazing trompe o’l’oeil interior murals. We didn’t get to enter the museum though.
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At the cobblestoned street of General Luna across the massive San Agustin Church is Plaza San Luis – named after one of the original four barrios of Intramuros. The plaza consists of Casa Blanca, Casa Urdaneta, Los Hidalgos, El Hogar Filipino, and Casa Manila. The replica houses where constructed based from archival building plans representing domestic architecture built during the Spanish regime.
Its ground floor houses shops while the second and third floor was conceptualized as a lifestyle museum showcasing colonial furniture amassed from different ancestral houses. Inside the mini villas are restaurants, a cafe, souvenir shops, a museum, a hotel and a venue for events.


Passing the arched portal of the plaza, we were transported back to the Spanish colonial times; rough whitewashed adobe walls line up the arcades, pathways are paved with flagstones, and intricate latticed capiz (mother of pearl) windows rounds up the upper walls of the courtyards. Deep wells, fountains and turrets  are also featured along the maze-like passageways.
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A fine dine restaurant now occupies the second floor – Barbara’s, where one can dine like a mestizo.
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Aside from gift and specialty shops, the complex has a museum at Casa Manila – a Marcos reconstruction of a Spanish residence that showcases exquisite interiors . It contains late 19th century and early 20th century furniture found in a typical Filipino illustrado or the priviledged class home. Again, we weren’t able to enter the museum.
From Plaza San Luis, we passed by the residential areas until we reached Mapua Institute of Technology. We climbed up the wall again to Baluarte de San Francisco de Dilao where the canyons are located. Facing the Manila City Hall, it was built as defense against the Chinese population living near the walled city.
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Baluarte de San Francisco de Dilao
Our next stop is Baluarte de San Andres. Across Baluarte de San Andres is the former site of the mother house of the Augustinian Recollects known as the Yglesia y Convento de San Nicholas de Tolentino. The church was famous for its four-story bell tower of decreasing dimension and devotion to Nuestro Senor de la Pacencia. The site is now occupied by Manila Bulletin.
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Baluarte de San Andres
And this is a dead end, there’s a “no entry” sign from this part of the wall to Baluarte de San Diego. There is a sign post which reads: “Watch Out For Flying Golf Balls.”
It was almost 10:00 am and we haven’t eaten a decent breakfast yet except for a Dunkin’ Donut and brewed coffee so we decided to go down the wall and searched for the nearest place where we can eat. Avoiding fastfoods, we ended up at Dencio’s Diner and ate a hearty meal. We needed the nourishment for the second leg of our walkatour for the day: Rizal Park.
I will leave our Rizal Park adventure for my next post. 🙂

Project365: The Art of Documenting Your Life

I’ve been doing Project365 for 2 years now, since it’s included in my Day Zero Project list. But unfortunately, I never got to finish them. As a single mom working to raise two children, most of the time I get so busy that I forget to take a photo or forget to upload for days that they pile up and then I become lazy to update.

So, what is Project365? Simply put, Project 365 is  taking one photo a day for a year. Whether you’re using a fancy DSLR, or simply using your phone, you can start your own Project 365. There are a variety of great sites and even mobile applications you can use to share your photos, to find inspiration and keep up with other photographers’ efforts.

Why you should do it?

There are a lot of different reasons why you would choose to create your own Project 365.

  • It can serve as a photo diary, giving you a visual recording of an entire year in your life.
  • It can improve your photography, since after all, practice makes perfect.
  • In the process it will push you to learn more about your technique, about what your camera is capable of doing, lighting, composition and more.
  • It will make you more observant. When you know that you have to take a photo a day, you’ll notice a lot more around you. You’ll find yourself looking for photos everywhere, and seeing little things you wouldn’t have noticed otherwise.
  • Your ultimate masterpiece could be out there waiting for you. There are a lot of photographic opportunities and if you commit to taking a photo a day, you’re more likely to snap that perfect photo.

Starting your own Project365

  • Take a camera with you every where you go. It can be your SLR, a small compact camera or your phone.
  • Think ahead. Sometimes you’ll find an interesting shot without even trying, particularly if you’re out and about a lot. If you’re not, or if you’re having a slow day, it’s good to have a list of ideas that you can photograph. The list can include places, subjects, techniques you want to try and more. There are 30-day photo challenges always coming up online. You can use them.
  • Post your photo at the end of the day. Don’t be in a rush to get your photo up straight away. You never know if you’ll come across a better photo later in the day. By posting at the end of the day, you know you’re always going to put your best photo of the day.
  • If you see an interesting shot, take it.  You might think to yourself that it’s not worth it, but with digital photography, what do you have to lose? You might not find something else to shoot by the time the day comes to an end.
  • Look for inspiration. Keep up with your favourite photographers’ work, study the greats, keep up with other Project 365ers. There is no harm in seeing what other photographers are doing and emulating it.
  • Try different photography techniques. Try your hand at macro photography, see what it’s like to take night shots, and more. Play around with your angles and experiment with your lenses. Not only will this give you more ideas, it will also improve your technique and you’ll learn a lot more about how to use your camera.

Share your work with others

A huge motivating factor in keeping a Project 365 project going is to share it with others. Getting feedback and comments will definitely make you want to keep taking photos. There are several options available to you.

The famous one is 365Project  where you can upload one photo per calendar date directly on the site or through email. After uploading your photo you can select the date the photo was taken, add a description, title and tags. Browsing photos shared on 365Project can be done by date, popularity, tags and more. Members can follow one another, leave comments on photos and add them to your favourites.

Other Project365-specific websites are BlipfotoShuttercal, and Momentile. These sites also have their own dedicated iPhone and/or Android mobile apps.

You can also choose to use other service like Instagram, PicPlz or Molome mobile applications, photography sharing sites like Flickr23hq, or if you want a really slick experience, give 500px a try, and blogging platforms like WordPress, Tumblr, and Blogger. You can also create a specific album on Facebook, or on Google+ and upload one photo a day.

 My Project365 Journey

Because I’ve been inactive for months now, all the photos in my 365project.org account has been deleted. Good thing I also created albums during my Year 1 and Year 2 in my Facebook account. I’ve started the challenge again this year through my Instagram account, and I’m very much hoping that I’ll be able to finish it with flying colors this year.

Have you put together your own Project 365? Share the link with us in the comments.

BOOK REVIEW: Where Rainbows End

RATING: StarStarStarStarStar

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Title: Where Rainbows End (Love, Rosie)

Author: Cecelia Ahern

Genre: Romance, Chick Lit

Language: English

 

Plot:

From naughty children to rebellious teenagers, Rosie and Alex have stuck by each other through thick and thin. But just as as they’re discovering the joys of teenage nights on the town and dating disasters, they’re separated. Alex’s family move from Dublin to America – and Alex goes with them. For good.

Rosie’s lost without him. But on the eve of her departure to join Alex in Boston, Rosie gets news that will change her life forever – and keep her at home in Ireland.

Their magical connection sees them through the ups and downs of each others lives, but neither of them knows whether their friendship can survive the years and miles – or new relationships. And at the back of Rosie’s mind is whether they were meant to be more than just good friends all along. Misunderstandings, circumstances and sheer bad luck have kept them apart, but when presented with the ultimate opportunity, will they gamble everything for true love?

*****

Where Rainbows End (also known as Love, Rosie or Rosie Dunne) is Cecelia Ahern’s second book, published in 2004 after her number 1 bestseller P.S. I Love You. The story is told through letters, emails and instant messaging about the ever changing relationship between the two main characters, Rosie Dunne and Alex Stewart. Reading about Rosie and Alex from age 5 to 50, it felt like I knew them their whole lives – which is kind of true.

Cecelia Ahern gave me a sleepless and probably the longest night of my life so far. It’s been so long since I’ve bookbinged a novel for an entire night without even a blink for sleep. I just can’t put it down! Many times I’ve wondered why Cecelia was torturing me. What did I ever do to her? 50 freaking years! Imagine that! But then, love moves in mysterious ways. And yeah, clichè as it may sounds, everything happens for a reason, eventhough sometimes I want to punch fate right straight into its face!

I love Rosie with all my heart. She, along with all the other characters in the story, made me ride in a rollercoaster of emotions all throughout, making me laugh at their witty lines and bawling my eyes out the next moment. But most of the time I want to slap Rosie and twist Alex’s arms in frustration. WHY CAN’T BOTH OF YOU JUST FREAKING CONFESS YOUR BLOODY FEELINGS AND GET OVER IT AND LIVE FREAKING HAPPILY EVER AFTER?

I may sound exaggerated, but Ahern’s work dethroned Jodi Lynn Anderson’s Tiger Lily at the top of my Books-I-Love-And-Hate-At-The-Same-Time list. Maybe because it felt like reading my own story: being a single mom and all, and having a bestfriend (who is also my boyfriend, by the way) named Alex. I just wish I don’t have to wait for another 30 years before I get my happy ending. 😀

P.S. The book already has its movie adaptation shown last 2014, topbilled by Lily Collins and Sam Claflin.

 

 

 

 

Book Review: A Painted House

RATING: StarStar

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Title: A Painted House

Author: John Grisham

Genre: Suspense, Historical Fiction

Language: English

 

Plot:

Until that September of 1952, Luke Chandler had never kept a secret or told a single lie. But in the long, hot summer of his seventh year, two groups of migrant workers — and two very dangerous men — came through the Arkansas Delta to work the Chandler cotton farm. And suddenly mysteries are flooding Luke’s world.

A brutal murder leaves the town seething in gossip and suspicion. A beautiful young woman ignites forbidden passions. A fatherless baby is born … and someone has begun furtively painting the bare clapboards of the Chandler farmhouse, slowly, painstakingly, bathing the run-down structure in gleaming white. And as young Luke watches the world around him, he unravels secrets that could shatter lives — and change his family and his town forever….

*****
“The hill people and the Mexicans arrived on the same day. It was a Wednesday, early in September 1952. The Cardinals were five games behind the Dodgers with three weeks to go, and the season looked hopeless. The cotton, however, was waist-high to my father, over my head, and he and my grandfather could be heard before supper whispering words that were seldom heard. It could be a ‘good crop.’”

John Grisham is known for his legal thrillers and their film adaptations. The way he began his novel, A Painted House, it somehow told us it’s not one of his typical works. The novel is a historical fiction where there is no single lawyer involved but a lone policeman, set in rural Arkansas in 1952.

The novel is narrated in first person by Luke Chandler, a seven year old boy who sounded more of a teenage boy to me. The Chandler family are cotton farmers, and the novel chronicled their life from late summer to early fall, when they harvest their crop with the help of Mexicans and hill people. Luke is forced to grow up quickly, taking in responsibilities like waking up at the crack of dawn, picking cotton all day until his hands bled, and going to bed at almost midnight. This happens six days a week, Saturdays as exception since they only tend to the farm for half a day. We’ve experienced their simple joys like listening to a baseball broadcast while resting at night after supper, their despair with difficult harvest, their wariness of people from other regions, the town gossip and the ever present preachers. The farmers have to be tough, or they won’t survive.

Luke will hear things he shouldn’t hear and see things he shouldn’t see. These experiences will change him, as he battles between right and wrong. He realized that their farm where he grew up is not even safe, and that life is not as easy as he wants it to be.

Grisham introduced several characters that were engaging enough, although the plot did seem to drag a little bit. Throughout the book, I was pretty much on an everlasting search for the plot since the introduction at the back made it sound like it’s an interesting one.

After about six chapters, after Luke kept secrets after secrets, I thought that a concrete story will finally come around. But the author offered no resolution at all.  I did finish it, because Grisham did a good job of making me really curious how it will all turn out. The ending made me feel that there’s a sequel to it, because there were so many questions that were left unanswered, like what happened to all the characters that the author introduced to the readers.

Grisham’s narration is easy to read and very descriptive. This not his typical work. If you’ve never read Grisham until this book – PLEASE don’t judge him by it.

Frozen Will Melt You Away

RATING: StarStarStarStar

Disney has yet again created another blockbuster hit with Frozen, an animated fairy tale musical loosely adapted from Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen. Apart from the usual ingredients of a traditional Disney animation film -princesses and royalties, prince charmings, heroic heroes, beautiful castles, funny sidekicks, hateful villains, friendly creatures, catchy music perfect as LSS material-, it is somewhat different in more ways than one.

In case you haven’t watch it yet, here’s the trailer:

The Storyline:

Set in the kingdom of Arandelle, Princess Elsa (voiced by Idina Menzel) was born with the ability to turn into ice whatever she touches (somewhat a twist to Midas’ Golden Touch) and magically create snow with just her bare hands, shaming even the power of Narnia’s White Witch. She used to play with her younger sister, Princess Anna (voiced by Kristen Bell), turning the palace ballroom into a magical winter wonderland where they would skate and build snowmen. Until one unfortunate event where Elsa accidentally tripped and zapped Anna in the head. It nearly killed Anna, but thanks to the tribe of mystical, old trolls, she was saved. The troll leader made Anna forget about Elsa having the magical powers. The king and queen then decided to isolate the princesses from the outside world, causing Elsa to bottle up her powers and feelings, shutting her sister and everyone out in fear that she might harm them.

Years had passed, the two sisters grew ever more distant to each other, even during their parent’s death. However, on Elsa’s coronation day as Arendelle’s new queen, the gates of the palace were opened to people from all over. Extrovert Anna felt exhilarated by the thought of being able to mingle with others and having the chance to meet her one true love, as opposed to what Elsa was feeling. Because she knows she should, Elsa took every caution not to divulge her powers and let everyone know.

Everything was going smoothly, until Anna met Prince Hans (voiced by Santino Fontana) whom she claims she fell in love at first sight. When Anna introduced Elsa to Prince Hans, and asked for her blessing in marriage, Elsa stiffly said no. Unable to comprehend why her sister refused, Anna desperately grabbed Elsa’s hand and pulled off one of her protective gloves, causing her powers to manifest.

Scared, Elsa fled the kingdom into the Northern mountains, turning the vibrant summer into an eternal winter. Anna, taking all the blame for what happened, left the kingdom under Prince Hans’ custody and braved the wild in search for her sister.

In her journey, she met the mountain man Kristoff (voiced by Jonathan Groff), his reindeer sidekick Sven, the jolly Olaf the snowman (voiced by Josh Gad) and the group of rock-like trolls. Together, they found Elsa and convinced her to go back and undo the eternal winter she had cast over the kingdom. But to no avail, Elsa won’t budge, even creating giant Marshmallow the guardian to scare them away.

While confronting each other, Elsa accidentally zapped Anna, freezing her heart. Kristoff brought her to the troll leader, who said that only an act of true love would thaw her frozen heart. Thinking that it was Prince Hans’ true love’s kiss that would save Anna, Kristoff, who had fallen in love with her, decided to bring her back to the kingdom. Little did they know that Prince Hans is a gold digger who had an ulterior motive of taking over the kingdom. But as always, good prevails over evil. The sisters saved each other: Anna saving Elsa from Prince Hans’ sword, and Elsa thawing frozen Anna. In the end, Elsa finally discovered how to control her powers.

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What Makes It Different:
As I’ve said earlier, the flick encompasses the classic Disney trademark, but is somehow different. How different?

First off, the story itself. While it’s the usual royal characters, Disney gave us not only one but two princesses who are the exact opposite of one another: Anna, who is the quirky and optimistic one, and Elsa, who is frigid and introverted on the other hand. While the tale is about true love, it did not revolve solely around a princess falling in love with his prince charming who swept her through her feet to a happily ever after ending. The tale’s more about the love that binds two sisters together. Anna loves her older sister so much, and for years she’s been so puzzled and hurt why Elsa shut her out. Elsa loves Anna just as much, which is why she distanced herself. Elsa chose to live alone in the comforts of her own room, away from the people she loves to keep them safe. Anna risked her life more than once for her sister, and she eventually helped Elsa figure out how to control her magical powers.

The tale’s not much about staying young forever, but it’s more about growing up, becoming your own person, and learning not to be ashamed of yourself and how to accept your gift.

Another noteworthy point: Frozen doesn’t have the typical villain. Well, except for the Duke of Weselton who volunteered his two guards as Prince Hans gathered a search party for the princesses. He commanded them to “get rid of the monster” should they have the opportunity. The supposed-to-be Prince Charming, Prince Hans, turned out to be a villain in disguise towards the end. And I guess he very well deserved the straight punch on his face given by none other than Anna. Girl power at its finest! And last but not the least, Elsa herself. Her magical powers which is supposedly a natural gift became a curse, a destructive force so great she could kill easily by gesturing with her hand, creating sharp icicles, sheets of ice and snowstorm; and zapping everyone at the right spot, the heart. But Elsa is not the villain at all, she’s also the heroine.

November 1st, 2013 @ 20:51:56

The Lessons:
Frozen is indeed a story of love. It showed us that love not only makes everything better, it makes people better, too. We can never underestimate the power of love, much more the sacrificial kind. The tale showed this kind of love in all of its characters:
1. Kristoff, who’s fallen in love with Anna, takes her back to the kingdom to his fiancé Hans, hoping that “true love’s kiss” will thaw her frozen heart; 2. Olaf the snowman lights a fire and volunteers to stay with Anna to help keep her warm, even though he’ll melt. In Olaf’s words, “Some people are worth melting for”;
3. Sven the reindeer, who braved the snowstorm and almost got drowned in his attempt to bring Kristoff back to Anna;
4. Prince Hans, disregarding the villain he is, opens the castle’s doors to the country’s cold citizens, giving them warm clothing and piping hot food.
5. Anna chose her sister Elsa who is in danger over Kristoff who might be her true love’s kiss that could save her life, using her body to shield Elsa from Hans’ sword;
6. Elsa sacrificed her happiness and chose to stay away from her loved ones in order to protect them.

The tale also leaves us with real life lessons for us to ponder on:
1. Elsa:
– Each one of us are born with the potential to be great. But it takes a lot of courage to overcome your fear and unleash that potential.It may be big, just learn how to take control of it.
– Social alienation, bottling up emotions inside us and letting it all out at once can be very dangerous.
2. Anna:
– Look at love-at-first-sight with a bit of suspicion. It’s a big no-no to entrust your heart to someone you just met. True feelings and true relationships takes time to develop.
– We should try to accept and help people who are different from us, even if those differences can be a little scary.
3. Olaf: Being happy is like a ray of sunshine in dark times. You could ease the burden of someone by simply being there by his side.
4. Kristoff: True love isn’t measured by physical gestures. Love is putting someone else’s needs before yours. Love is letting go of the person you cared so much about for her to be truly happy.

Overall, Frozen is not a groundbreaking movie, but it did not became a top grosser for nothing. The movie’s aim is not just to entertain, it aims to give us the reality of the nature of family, friendship and relationship. It’s still the same feel-good classic Disney flick, layered with the messages of being true to one’s self and following your dreams, only much more mature and much poignant.

Here’s my favorite part where Elsa sang her heart out and let herself free.

“It’s never too…

“It’s never too late to be who you might have been.” – George Eliot

I left the world of blogging not long ago because of time constraints. Now, here I am starting all over again. It’s about time I return into doing what I love most: writing. I know I’m getting rusty and I hope that by taking the Zero to Hero challenge, I hope to jumpstart my blog and make it the best thing I’ve ever done in my whole writing career.

But starting over is not just about me going back to writing. It’s practically about me going back to life itself. When I had my first unplanned pregnancy only months after I was accepted at my first job and before I was even regularized, I felt like my dreams shattered into pieces. I was left out. My colleagues are busy spending their hard-earned money in things they love and I would have loved doing also: traveling, partying, and having the best times of their lives. And just when I thought I could bounce back again and catch up from where I’ve left off, I had my second pregnancy.

Sometimes I think of all the “what ifs”, but whenever I look at my two beautiful children; all of those what-if questions would just disappear. I would never, ever exchange them for some things temporary and worldly. After much thinking, I realized that real happiness depends solely on you: the way you see the world, the way you live your life, the way you define happiness itself.

So now, I’m catching up with life. I’m starting again to live the life I’ve always wanted: doing the things I love with the persons I love most. I have now with me two of my most loved persons in the whole wide world with whom I want to discover life together: my daughter Yessa and my son Yael.