Of Super Heroes and Sunshine

Sharing with you all an article I made for PMAP magazine for International Women’s Month 2019. May you be encouraged!

Push. Hustle. Grind. Juggle. I find that a lot is expected from professional, working women today. At work, she should be competent, strong for her tasks, relatable and reliable. At home, she must have an endless supply of love and patience to care for everyone she loves. She has to strike that ever elusive balance between professional and personal life, keep it all together and yet look gorgeous in selfies!

How I wish I can tell you that I’m like that – a mixture of Captain Marvel and Wonder Woman rolled into one, but I am definitely NOT.

I work in the ever evolving world of Human Resources where we deal with people and issues about people every day. In our world, every employee is our customer. We are expected to be kind, fair and have a ready smile when we implement policies and create various programs to attract, engage, inspire and retain the right talents in the organization to support our business goals.

I’m also a wife, mom, daughter, sister, relative and friend. I’m also a driver, braving the morning and evening traffic to go to and from work. There are days when I get overwhelmed because people count on me. And yet, when I look at my son, sleeping soundly at night, I just know that I have to always be at my best.

Let me share with you three things that help me. May you find it helpful too.

1. DO MORE OF WHAT FILLS YOU UP

You can give your best in everything when you’re recharged and filled up.

I read something inspirational every day and I hold on to my faith when times get tough. My long commute to and from work becomes a blessing when I listen to audiobooks and downloaded videos of favorite speakers, authors, teachers and thought leaders. Listening to them simply “lights” me up. I listen to different kinds of music too (mostly easy listening) and sing in the car when I feel like it. Watching calligraphy videos soothes me. I love getting hugs from my son.

What fills you up and makes you come alive? Do more of that.

2. KEEP LEARNING

Learning new things will stretch you but the benefits will far outweigh the effort. Instead of trying to control everything and feeling bad (because you really cannot control everything), be a learner instead and learn all you can. You’ll not only be wiser, you’ll be significant! You add more value to your workplace and relationships and get to help more people simply because you chose to learn, be stretched and be valuable. When was the last time you learned something new?

3. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF

Even a super hero needs a side kick. God rested on the 7th day. I remind myself to take care of “me” so I can be my best self. I once got sick for a couple of days after I pushed myself too hard to accommodate a very tiring schedule. I now know better. Take a break, treat yourself and give your body the care it deserves.

We don’t need super powers to juggle all our responsibilities. As we celebrate women in the workplace, offer a smile and an encouraging word to women colleagues and friends and watch it brighten their faces.

You may not be a super hero but you can be a bright ray of sunshine wherever you are.

Shane Bonza-Rapanut is the HR Lead for Learning and Organization Development in PHINMA. She’s passionate about learning and shares her thoughts at www.bloomblossomandgrow.wordpress.com.

Link: https://www.peoplemanager.ph/post/of-super-heroes-and-sunshine

Big Bang 2020!

The year started with much turmoil and controversies. The massive fire in Australia, Eruption of the Taal Volcano which affected hundreds of thousands of people and establishments, and the corona virus outbreak. As a mom, I tend to worry.

Despite what is happening, I still believe that this year is a great year. When we ended 2019, we all had high hopes for the coming year and that hope still applies today. I am personally believing that this year will be a year of ACCELERATION and STRENGTH. I believe that God is still faithful and will provide opportunities for us to fulfill our purpose.

ACCELERATION

I recently had my birthday and it is during those times when I get to look back and reflect on my past and look forward to where I am heading. I’ve read somewhere that plotting your life in 7-year increments help. As I look back, I’ve seen moments of weaknesses and regretful flaws and areas of indecisions, which I am not proud of. My progress was stalled until I learned my lessons. (I’ve forgiven myself). There were many opportunities lost and “stolen” and I realized that it is only by His grace that I am able to achieve most of my goals and eventually get to where I am now.

Acceleration is when you are propelled upward and are presented with opportunities to level up. It could be in the form of an assignment or a challenge that would force you to learn “on your feet”. It’s those “Big bang” moments, nothing short of miraculous, that suddenly leads you in another direction.

STRENGTH

I want to be strong – physically, mentally and spiritually. I want to “play with my strengths” and be more courageous and strong-hearted, ready to where He leads me.

May this year present us with many opportunities to level up and make us stronger as we choose to turn to God who is our helper, our strength, hope and protector.

XOXO,

Suzanne

Hard Lessons on Personal Finance

I’ve always wanted to write something about handling money.

I had several credit cards too soon and I wasn’t prepared to handle them. I was young and inexperienced then, going on shopping sprees and buying items I don’t really need. I learned the hard way.

I remember standing at a cash register, heart beating fast and unable to move because my card was declined and I have no cash with me! I experienced receiving reminders from collectors because I maxed out my line. I’ve been charged with penalty fees for failing to pay my account on time.

Fast forward to today, I always pay fully what I owe the bank each month. I’m sensitive to fees and charges so I pay my dues in advance. My credit rating improved a lot and banks often send me cards without me applying for them. So how did I get from A to B? Gory, hard lessons in handling money.

  1. LIVE SIMPLY. A simple life is a beautiful life. Refuse to accumulate stuff you don’t really need just to impress others. Be grateful for what you have.
  2. KNOW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN NEEDS AND WANTS. Before paying for the items in your cart, make a final check and ask yourself “Do I need it or do I want it? Buying can be emotional. Chances are, some of the items there are not really in the “needs” category.
  3. CATEGORIZE PURCHASES. Gas, Groceries and Medicines are paid via credit card. As much as possible, pay for other expenses in cash.
  4. GET YOURSELF OUT OF DEBT AS QUICKLY AS YOU CAN. Don’t lose hope when you are deep in debt. There are ways to get out but be faithful in paying for your “freedom.” What I did was transfer my balances to one or two cards to consolidate all my credit. A huge portion of my annual performance bonuses and other unexpected cash rewards went to credit card payment. I told myself – I am paying for my financial freedom. It was painful. It took years! But I am glad I made my choice then as I am reaping the benefits now.
  5. EDUCATE YOURSELF. Research and educate yourself about personal finance. Know where your money is going. Be aware of what gets money out of your pocket. Do more of what puts money in. Read books and get to know people who are financially free.
  6. ENLIST SUPPORT. Tell your close friends to support you towards your journey to financial freedom. They would know then why you can’t join them on shopping sprees and constant eat outs.
  7. PRAY. Yes, pray. Pray for guidance and wisdom. Be a good steward of what God has given you. Seek to honor Him through your finances.

It can be done! Financial freedom is possible if you make a conscious effort to go after it. What comes with it? The luxury of peace. Joy that comes when you slowly build your savings up and invest for your future. Generosity – being a source of blessings for others in need. Lastly, a story to share and encourage others who go through what you went through. It’s truly, madly, deeply worth it!

Unplugged and Play!

It is so true that technology is taking over family life with almost 63% of parents admitting they need to make an effort for face-to-face time.

Like Lukas, most kids nowadays spends most of their leisure time online with their gadgets. This is why we were truly happy when we learned that SM Masinag promotes undistracted family bonding with Unplugged and Play, an outdoor summer fair WITHOUT any gadgets – just pure fun activities for the entire family!

Happy to be here!
Excited Kiddos!

Unplugged and Play is an extra large playground for kids and their families to enjoy! It includes the following:

Ball Pit, Giant Obstacle Course and Huge Jousting Challenge
Extra Sticky Wall
Giant Soccer
Giant Dice and Board game on the Rights of Children – UNICEF
Extra Exciting Rapelling
SummerTreats and Surprises are up for grabs at various booths and bazaars
– Refreshments and Face Painting gigs

Catch Unplugged and Play at the following malls: SM City San Mateo on May 11 SM City Marikina on May 18.

TIPS: The event is open to all. Simply present single or accumulated receipts from any tenant in the mall for at least P1,000.
Little kids must be accompanied by an adult.
Kids MUST wear socks.

Unplugged and Play is one of the many exciting events of SM Supermalls for Everyday is Playday at SM Campaign.

My Faith Goals for 2019

January 2019 is almost ending and I just can’t help but feel that I haven’t really spent the time I needed to reflect on 2018 and really plan for 2019.

Churches and Fellowships I know have scheduled their annual  prayer and fasting to really set aside time to pray and seek God’s guidance throughout the year.  It is typical to create a list of to-do’s or craft a list of resolutions to start the year.  Similar to that, what we (me and my friends and church mates) do is to make a list of or FAITH GOALS.   These are goals, usually big ones that require us to stretch our faith and rely on God to see them accomplished.


Aside from my usual goals for myself and my family, my goal for the year is to:

1. CULTIVATE A GRATEFUL HEART

I tend to stress about things and would often need to remind myself to just be still and cast all my worries and cares to God through prayers.  We were never designed to carry so much burdens and loads.  We were even commanded NOT to worry!  What causes stress anyway? My stress comes from FEAR – fear that all things will not be up to par and go wrong. I realized, eventually, that I have to be grateful instead.  Being thankful gives me joy! Focusing on what I am blessed with diverts my focus off worries and fears that saps my energy and enthusiasm.

I began my 2019 Faith goal with a long list of things to be grateful for. And wow! They are many.  And so I decided to start my 2019 days reciting all the things, people, events I am blessed with!

2. NOURISH MY SOUL

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For this year, I want to have consistent quiet time to meditate, pray,   journal, commune with God.   Often, I have tried to accomplish tasks, pushing myself harder, when my inner gas tank is running empty.  This doesn’t have to be.  It’s not just about being more of an introvert, it’s more of connecting with God and letting Him fill you up – trading your sorrows with hope and your pains with His Joy. Call it recharging your inner strength so you can face the day bravely, serve others and be an inspiration to many instead of dragging them down.

3. BE OF SERVICE

I believe that we are called to serve. We are to be God’s hands to others and be a visible representation of Christ to them. For many years, I have been trying to discover myself. I’ve tried many things, changed jobs, listened to a lot of people, observed their ways, read many books and was charmed by many movies and stories. Ultimately, the question I would like to answer would be: How can I serve in a way that is me – with my strengths and skills and at the same time, my limitations too? I am willing but how? I have an idea for this year. I’ve started and started small and will continue to start new stuff for this year.

I am believing and praying that 2019 is a year of elevation and purpose. Dreams put on hold will push thru. Provision will flow simply because my hope is not on myself, my skills, my abilities – it is on God who created me and has a purpose for me – to bloom and blossom and grow so I can help others bloom, blossom and grow too.

Remember Who You Are

It has been a while since I last wrote something here. You see, a couple of months ago, I made a major decision.

After a lot of thought, sleepless nights and prayers, I decided to resign from a big global organization to join a local conglomerate / group of companies.  Normal with any life – changing decision, there were feelings of loss coupled with this huge excitement and anxiety of “new beginnings”.

Making the move and making a decision is a long process but central to my decision is my big WHY.  I had to search my heart and find out — who I am as a person, what my talents are,  WHAT I TRULY WANT,  the things I want to do and how I want my work days to be. Surprisingly, just when I was contemplating on these things, an opportunity presented itself.

 

I’m reminded of the movie, the LION KING.  Simba, afraid and far from home and his destiny, was reminded one night to remember who he is – a leader, an heir, a hope to his constituents.

Looking back, it was a bit nerve wrecking to leave comfort – my usual zone, my usual way of doing things – and replace it with the unknown. One thing I realized is that we can never be sure of what lies ahead.  We can either live in fear or in faith and I chose the latter. With much prayers and advice from people who love me,  I did it, tendered my resignation and moved on.

Was I scared? Yes!  Was it worth it? Yes!  Now, I’m happier and more true to myself!

To all of you who are contemplating on shifting jobs or careers, this list of things to consider might help.

A. PRACTICALS – Total Rewards Package:

  • Would it be a better move financially? (better to annualize and decide)
  • Benefits –  (HMOs, Leaves, Bonuses, Perks)  Would it support your family better? (Very important especially if you are married with kids )

B. Stability, Branding, Reputation

  • Know more about the company – values, line of Business
  • Reputation in the industry
  • Stability and years in the business (Depending on what you like, you could go for a start-up or a more traditional, stable company).

C. Career

  • Is it a better Career move for you? (Is it a promotion for you?)
  • Is there a career management plan for you? How will you advance, grow and be developed?

D. Personal Alignment (This is my main reason for moving)

  • Is it aligned to what you want to do?
  • Is it aligned to your skills, talents?
  • Is it aligned to what you want to become?
  • Is it a dream role?
  • Will the job make your heart sing?
  • Will there be joy in doing it?

E. People

  • Do you hear positive things about the people in the company?
  • Will you have a mentor / friend to guide you?

Note:  These are just considerations that helped me decide.  You are free to weigh pros and cons. Everyone’s decision tree is different.

 

Remember who you are. Be true to yourself –  Your God-given gifts, your talents, your skills.   Seek advice from people who love you, PRAY, listen and DESIGN YOUR LIFE the way you want it to be.

Create the life you want to have.

How about you? Care to share when you made a bold career move?  What did you consider?

 

Hugs,

Suzanne

My Two words for this year: Courage and Influence

My two words for the year, after much prayers, are COURAGE and INFLUENCE.

COURAGE. I feel in my heart that this year is the year to do things that I want to do.  To not be limited by fears, worries and concerns but to live, ever joyfully and enjoy the blessings God has given me.  Courage to smile freely, explore the world and live my OWN adventure and not someone else’s. Have the guts to follow my dream and follow through on my first step,  To keep moving despite self-doubt and harmful words – words that tear down dreams and fragile ideas and choose deliberately to heed Words that build, connect and strengthen

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INFLUENCE.  We are all created to shine and not be embarrassed by our talents, our vulnerability, our open hearts.   I believe that we are born not to live in the shadows, but to be a bright light reflecting the beauty of God, who made us wonderfully and fearfully with HIs loving hands.  I cannot count how many times I have been bashful and shy – shy of my talents, my thoughts, shy to raise my hand for a second longer. We are here to live our lives and touch others in ways that are subtle and loud.  We have to share beauty and love with our  minds, our hearts and thoughts through words, pictures, actions, writing… freely,  for keeping them would be a disservice to the world we live in.  Shy no more, but brave and living a life with spotlights for all people to see, and hopefully for others to praise God by seeing how we live and touch others as they, in turn, affect people around them, beautifully.

What about you?  What are your words for this year?

What my Yaris 2016 taught me


“Nice Car!” this is the usual reaction I get when people see my white Toyota Yaris 2016. I bought one 3 days before my birthday.

Toyota has been my family’s trusted car brand ever since so naturally, Toyota on top of my list.  And since Toyota is very much known for its durability, quality and reliability, it was the obvious choice for me. We visited several show rooms and I immediately fell in love with the Yaris.

 

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I was drawn to the classic, elegant, hip look. I have always loved hatchbacks as the streets are usually filled with Sedans.   Later on, I learned that the name Yaris is combination of a Greek word “Charis” which means beauty, grace and elegance and the German “Ya” which means “yes.”

I also came across a super cool and pretty Yaris commercial done by Katie Perry which all the more made me decide it is the car for me. You may click the link to see it.

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Our family needed a more reliable car so we opted to buy a new one.  Our 16-year old trusted Toyota XL named “Toyi” is still with us but there are times when repairs are needed so we had to have a new one.

It all started with a need, followed by online research and showroom visitations to see the actual unit. Choosing a bank to  help with the purchase is a challenge because there are so many choices! I decided to pay more for the downpayment so I can pay a smaller monthly amortization.  By the way, do note that there is a big price difference when you choose to talk to a dealer. With a dealer, you can have a car by paying a super low downpayment, with a higher monthly amortization.

I got my car via UnionBank.  My Relationship Managers – Mr. VJ Vergara and Geneberlaine Santiago Garde are so friendly and accommodating, especially when I had LOTS of questions.  (Oh, you may reach them at tel no. 667-6388 loc 8586 or via email gasantiago@unionbankph.com.) They referred me to a nice dealer, signed the needed documents with the hubby, paid the downpayment and got my car the next day!

 

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Proud and happy owner

But that is now what I want to talk about today. Here are 3 lessons learned.

1. BE SERIOUS ABOUT YOUR FAITH GOAL

A faith goal is a list of Goals that I do every start of the year.  I prayerfully list my goals and pray for them. My Faith goal list 2006 includes a new car, but I didn’t go for it, It was just there- a faith goal on paper–pero when I earnestly prayed for it (10 years after) and wanted it! VOOM! God caused things to fall into place! You really, really, really have to want it.

2. SOMETIMES GOD GIVES IT TO YOU NO SWEAT, BUT SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO SHOW HIM YOUR FAITHFULNESS 

In my case, I had to save and keep a portion of my salary and dedicate it to my dream. It went through the “boring” route of saving every payday pero I believe that God honored my little act of faithfulness and blessed it!  Also, there was an unexpected blessing which only God can do!

3. GOD SEES OUR HEART – My motivation– LOVE, SERVICE.

We have an old, sturdy car, Toyi, which we still use.  There are moments when the temp goes up so the Husband would park on the side of the road to put water in the radiator.  These are moments when I say a little prayer to God – “Lord, I know You will bless us with a New Car in Your time.”

I also resolved in my heart that we will have a new car to service my family who will be visiting from the US.  I will drive for them as a way of giving back, and showing my love.

I am done with my driving lessons and can now drive short distances.  May I have the courage and confidence to drive and park on my own.

Any driving tips for me? 

Yippee! I am now a happy car owner!

XOXO,
Shane

 

My Joy Resolutions

January is almost gone and here I am wondering how fast it went. I was so busy with work, one deadline after another, rolling out a program, minding and managing stakeholders.  Here I am, 4th week of the month with a headache, feeling tired.

What happened?  You may ask.  I lost it, I lost my inspiration, my creativity and my joy.  I dropped something without realizing it,  only to realize its loss after a thousand steps of chasing deadlines at work.  Now I’m tired, unhappy and feeling bland. I do not know, honestly, if you can relate with me.

My previous boss, a VP for Training and Development  just passed away. He was working out, had a stroke, was operated on and after a couple of weeks left us all.  He was always full of energy.  He is a true trainer, a learner, a lover of books.   His passing made me realize something – life is so short. Too short not to utilize your strengths. Too short not to choose to be happy everyday.  You never know when you’ll go so you make every moment count.

 

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             Joy can be found in appreciating little things

 

So, since this is the start of the NEW YEAR, I want to make a pact with myself and be gracious to my creative, inner child.

I resolve to:

NURTURE MY CREATIVE SELF

  • Create something and letting me be the final judge, saying to myself, “this is how I want it to look” and “Well done.”
  • Write
  • Colors – Water colors, doodle, calligraphy, drawing
  • Music – Keyboards, Singing.  I haven’t sang a decent song in ages!
  • Just pamper myself with peace, quiet and alone time
  • Read a good book and just chill

CONNECT WITH GOD MORE

  • Meditate on God’s goodness, beauty, grace
  • Read more and make time to see positives (positive+s literally)
  • Recharge my depleted “joy battery” and trade my “sorrows” for His joy
  • Bask in His love
  • Build a grateful and thankful attitude in life

PUT WORK IN ITS RIGHTFUL PLACE

  • My work is a blessing and a platform to showcase my talents
  • It is about my family
  • Family then work – it is actually not that complicated
  • Work 8 hours in the office and enjoy family once we go home
  • Work and life balance – it is not a myth! It simply boils down to management

For one, I am grateful for this time to blog – my first time for the year. I am aware that I have to make some changes starting now.  Some minor, others, major. But that is for another post.

If you can relate with me, please drop a line or two and please share how you go on feeling excited and glad that you don’t just exist, but live and thrive, and have that happy, zesty vibe.

XOXO,

Shane

Taking Gifting to the Next Level

Why don’t you give love on Christmas day?

We all know the song, and the truth – that it gets even better when the love  you give also comes with a present. I have always been a fan of “little things.” To me, what is important is that someone remembered and someone cared enough to give me a present. That thought alone makes my heart melt.

Don’t you just love it when Christmas is near? There’s that festive, happy mood everywhere! People are just extra kind and generous. Kids are excited, dreaming of toys and gadgets and counting the days before they get to open their presents.  It is just amazing that people from different backgrounds – Moms and dads, aunts and uncles, ninongs and ninangs, sweethearts and friends make lists and take time to buy presents to show that they care.

Christmas List for me and family

Six weeks away from Christmas and I constantly remind myself to finalize my list, choose with care and head to a nearby SM Mall to purchase them.  Note to self: Include myself in my Christmas list. Oh, how I often forget myself for Christmas. So for this year, I’m giving myself a gift.

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A red Asha love seat, Our Home

I’ve always wanted to buy a sofa that I can put in my nook, a special place in our house where I can read my favorite books, write and enjoy my quiet, quality time. More than a sofa, it tells me that there is one place in the house where I can just be myself and enjoy time with coffee and soft music in the background.

For my husband – an acoustic guitar.  I know he wants one.   I would love to have more music in the house and would like to expose our 4 year old son, Lukas, to love music as much as I do.  Consequently, The husband always wanted another baby and if it is God’s will,  why not? 🙂

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RJ Prairie Professional Folk Guitar

 

 

Lukas may wake up on Christmas morn with a new bike! Can’t wait to see how his eyes would sparkle when he sees it. He’s turning 5 next year and what is a little boy without a bike? Perhaps this can be an opportunity for all of us to have our own bikes and spend time outdoors with the family.

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Blue boy’s bike

 

Unconditional gifts

I believe that the best gifts are those which are given without any expectation of getting something in return, where the intent of the giver is just to be a blessing to others in need.  Unconditional gift-giving starts by sharing a piece of yourself.

Here’s sharing what my family have given others / done in the past:

  • Personally arranged Fruit basket
  • Spaghetti pack (pasta, spaghetti sauce) for families
  • A set of school supplies (paper, pencils, eraser, art paper, clear envelope) for school-aged children
  • Snack pack: Biscuits, noodles, powdered milk, crackers for children
  • Partner with UNICEF or World Vision by sponsoring a child or giving a monthly pledge

SM Christmas Bears of Joy 

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There is another way we can make a child happy. We can partner with SM Cares.  For Php 200.00, you get to keep one bear and donate the other to children from various orphanages and charitable institutions through the SM Cares program.  Imagine a child so happy, she got a cute, huggable teddy bear for Christmas. Truly, there’s joy in giving.

Gift giving can be a chore to deal with but with loving intention and care, can be a source of fulfillment.  The best ones are those we give just because.  I’m reminded of how God gave the best gift of all that first Christmas. He saw our need for a Savior and sent His son Jesus to us even when we are unable to reciprocate His love. Truly unconditional giving displayed in love.

Happy gift giving everyone!

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 “For more updates about this year’s “Merry SM Christmas” campaign, visit SM’s official Christmas microsite (https://www.smsupermalls.com/merrysmchristmas2015) and follow its official social media accounts at Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/smsupermalls), Twitter (https://twitter.com/smsupermalls), and Instagram (https://instagram.com/smsupermalls/); and get an insider access to all the fun happenings at SM Supermalls nationwide through Viber (http://chats.viber.com/SMsupermalls). Shoppers can actively share their holiday merriments inside the SM Supermalls by posting their photos on social media and adding the hashtag #MerrySMChristmas2015.”