A short goodbye. :)

It’s time to say goodbye to this wordpress.com site, but I call it a short goodbye, because I just moved my blog to a new home. :)

If you’re reading this in your email inbox or from an RSS reader, this would be a good time to drop by and visit, but read on to the bottom of this post because there are some extra subscription instructions for you to make sure that you’re getting the right updates.

As we all know, change isn’t easy, and it’s the same when it comes to blogs. Changing from a wordpress.com-hosted blog to a self-hosted blog is tough stuff, and I have yet to make it all work, so in the meantime, please please please be patient with me!

Some problems I’m currently working out on the new site include:

  • Broken links
  • Missing images
  • Links that take you back to this site
  • Links that take you back to this site and back on the new one again (I know, it’s mind-boggling!)

So until I get them fixed, you might encounter some of these problems. Sorry about that! Please give me a week or so to figure it out.

However, the good news is that the new site is easier to read, and it looks a whole lot better, if I do say so myself! :)

In the meantime, if you’ve been reading my blog through email or through an RSS reader, please make sure it’s getting the new feeds:

  • If you’re currently reading this post on your RSS reader, this means that you have the old feed. You can subscribe to the new feed here.
  • If you’re currently reading this post in your email inbox, you need to re-subscribe here.

And if you don’t know what RSS is, it’s okay, don’t worry about it. :)

Thank you so much for reading. I’ll be redirecting this old site in the coming days (let’s hope it works), so I hope to see you in the new site!

Here’s to more years together!

On waiting… (again)

Waiting can really bring out the worst in people. I’m not very good at waiting, and this is proven by the fact that I am writing about this yet again (if you missed it, I first wrote about it here).

When I find myself in a situation where I have to wait, not only do I get impatient, but I tend to become more distracted and more emotional. I try to find ways to take away the discomfort that I feel, and more often than not, I end up spending my time on things that aren’t very important. Anything that will numb my “pain” quickly.

I know it’s the same for some people, but maybe the distractions and temporary solutions differ. Not all methods are bad, but they’re probably not the wisest ideas either.

The sad reality is that the distractions and temporary solutions never fully heal us or take away the discomfort, because the discomfort is there for a reason. I find that it usually serves as a warning signal–a sign that something needs to be checked.

When I find myself in a time of waiting, that’s when my enemies come out to play:  my impatience, lack of focus, skewed perspectives, tendency to be overly anxious,  even my selfishness and self-centeredness. All sorts of stuff come out during times like these, and when I do take the time to stop and really take a good look at myself, I am disgusted and frustrated, but at the end of the day, I am also grateful. The sooner these things come out, the sooner I am humbled, and the sooner I am more willing (and wanting!) to step aside and let God do His work in me. I can’t make all of these recurring or surfacing issues go away on my own, but He is able. I just wish I would remember this sooner, and run to Him first, instead of wasting my time on other things. *Sigh*

I like the way King David put it:

“Going through the motions doesn’t please you,
a flawless performance is nothing to you.
I learned God-worship
when my pride was shattered.
Heart-shattered lives ready for love
don’t for a moment escape God’s notice.”
-Psalm 51:16-17 (MSG)

Can you relate? What have you seen in the mirror lately?

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What I’m Loving this Week: Blogs, Books, Music

1) A high-level leadership question by Steven Furtick – In this blog post, Furtick presents “a simple, high-level leadership question you can ask every day that could significantly enhance the way you lead.” He hit the nail on the head. Great advice.

2) Before You Make a Career Change by Maurilio Amorim – Because I went through a drastic career change (and some other smaller changes along the way), I totally agree with the points that he wrote. I especially like the last point. Good stuff!

3) The Hiding Weaver of Evidence by Emily Freeman on (In)courage – A beautiful post with beautiful photos. :)

4) NoiseTrade.com – I love free music! So much to choose from, and all you need to do is provide your email address. So far, they haven’t spammed me, so I’m a happy trader.

5) The OMF Lit Pre-Christmas Sale – One of my favorite times of the year! I love these OMF sales–they give big discounts on great books. One year, I helped my friend finish his Christmas shopping in the 2 hours we spent in the Boni outlet. Some of the books that I’ve read and liked recently that are included in the 30% introductory offer include Dug Down Deep by Joshua Harris and 10 Best Decisions a Woman Can Make by Pam Farrel.

What are you loving this week?

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TELL ME THURSDAY: Christmas is coming!

In the Philippines, we don’t celebrate the US thanksgiving holiday, for obvious reasons, so we skip right ahead to getting excited about Christmas!

Tell me:

1) What are you looking forward to the most this Christmas?
2) What’s on your Christmas wish list?

You go first! :)

Do you know someone in this photo?

I came across an old photo (or in this case, a collection of photos) and I thought that this would be a good time to jump in on a Tumblr tradition: GPOYW a.k.a. Gratuitous Picture Of Yourself Wednesday (it’s still Wednesday as I write and post this!)

So without further ado, here it is:

Can you spot me? Here’s a clue: I looked really uncomfortable (somebody didn’t like her outfit)!

I tried to connect this discovery to something deep and profound, and maybe even spiritual…but then I gave up. Haha. I just found this collection of photos cute and funny, so I thought I’d share it. Very 1980’s!

It’s a crazy long shot, but if you actually know someone in this picture (or YOU are in this picture), do let me know because that would be so AWESOME. :)

The Soundtrack to Our Lives

Some of my favorite soundtracks :)

I like listening to film scores. The music tells stories, just as much as the visuals do. I specifically like listening to the first and final tracks.

The first tracks are usually played in the beginning of the movie while the opening titles are appearing–there’s that feeling of hope and anticipation and excitement. I love music that makes you feel like anything can happen. In a way, there’s also a sense of history; it’s like the music lets you know that the story picks up from somewhere, and what will unfold next will be quite a journey. I love that.

Meanwhile, I like the final tracks because there’s some sort of happy ending (or at least you can tell which types of film scores I prefer). You can feel it in the music–there’s a sense of victory, triumph, and joy. A great score is one that leaves you with those feelings even after the music ends.

But a score will always be incomplete without the tracks in the middle. They’re not my favorite ones–they’re the ones filled with conflict, awkwardness, pain, and the like. When you listen to them on their own, without seeing the visuals–without context–it’s difficult to appreciate them at all. But we all know that we can’t take them out of the story. Without those tracks, the story would have no texture and the final tracks won’t have the same oomph.

As much as I love the beautiful first and final tracks, they can’t play all throughout the movie. A victory won’t exist without a battle, and moments of joy won’t stand out without seeing the moments of pain.

The same goes with life, though I often forget this. More often than not, I just want the good stuff to play on the background forever. But the truth is that there are going to have to be shifts and breaks–those are all part of my story. By faith, I know and believe that there is something even better to hold on to: the hope and the promise of a beautiful and wonderful final track.

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Gearing up for Christmas!

I’m excited that Christmas is just around the corner!

Christmas is a wonderful time to spread the love and cheer, and it’s also a great opportunity to create memories with loved ones. Today, I’m blogging about what our family has done in the past so you can get some ideas.

Every Christmas Eve, our Claudio clan comes together to celebrate. We exchange gifts and eat lots of food, like most families. Two Christmases ago, we decided to add something extra and share what we were most grateful for in the past year. In a clan of 30+ people, it helped us to get to know a little something more about each other and in the process, thank God for all the blessings He has showered on our family.

Last Christmas, we had extra time to spare, so I got an idea to do something fun. I recruited my art teacher friend Linny to help me make some plain top hats out of black cartolina (known in other countries as cardstock or construction paper), then I emailed our relatives to tell them to bring art materials and other props that could be glued. All we needed to prepare were some glue guns and we were ready!

When they arrived, each person picked a top hat (the men got the taller ones), and we challenged them to come up with a creative hat using any of the materials that were available. I was blown away by how creative everyone was!

Here are some photos from that night:

We made mini top hats for the kids

Even the adults were into it!

My nephew made his own hat

Talk about effective use of props!

More of the finished products:

This was the winning hat:

The kooky Claudio clan:

You’re welcome to try this out with your family this Christmas!

Meanwhile, we’re still figuring out what to do this year. Got any ideas to share? :)

What I’m Loving this Week: Learning Resources

I am currently overloaded with free learning materials. Thank God for generous people on the internet. Let me share some of the great resources I’ve come across lately:

1) Leadership and Influence Summit – 36 video talks that you can watch for free at your own time (before November 15). The speaker lineup includes Chris Brogan, Jon Acuff, Keith Ferrazzi, Erwin McManus, Mark Sanborn, Tim Elmore, Charlene Li, and a bunch of other great leaders. Some of the topics include The Power of Story, Planning for Success, the Ziglar Way, the E-Myth, Social Nation, Communicate to Lead, Generation iY, etc. Need I go on? Great stuff.

2) Tools and Resources from Generation iY / SaveTheirFutureNow.com – Author Tim Elmore came up with a book that I’ve been wanting to read called Generation iY. Until I get my hands on that book, I’ve been devouring all the informative and useful articles on their website–treasures for a teacher like me. If you’re a parent, educator, youth worker, employer, or anyone who interacts with young people on a regular basis, these resources will come in handy.

3) The Leader as Lifelong Learner, a guest post by Daniel Offer at Michael Hyatt‘s blog – This post reminds me of the entry that I wrote a couple of weeks ago, Do all leaders really have to be readers?In this blog post, Offer offers (I couldn’t resist) a strong argument in favor of reading books. As a book-lover myself, I couldn’t agree more. He gives some great strategies for those who struggle with reading.

Let me know if these resources helped you!

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TELL ME THURSDAY: Your Public Speaking Fears

As I mentioned yesterday, I’m working on a talk I’m doing next week and I could use your help!

Research has shown that most people would rather die than speak on stage. I can see how that’s possible!

Tell me: What are the challenges you face when speaking in public?

5 Reasons why Teaching & Speaking are like Kayaking & White-water Rafting

“You never paddle the same river twice.”

My uncle–the adventurer extraordinaire Anton Carag, Jr.–was in the middle of briefing our family about kayaking and white-water rafting when I stopped to write what he had just said. I had a feeling there was a deeper lesson in there somewhere.

Fast forward to today. I was busy developing a workshop that I’m giving next week to some students from the De La Salle-College of St. Benilde. As I was working on the talk outline, I realized that public speaking and teaching are both a lot like kayaking and white-water rafting.

1) Every river experience is different, just as every speaking opportunity is different.

If you’re someone who teaches and speaks on a regular basis, it’s easy to lose your passion and just go through the motions. And when I lose my passion, I often end up preparing less and I’m tempted to simply “wing it.” But just as every river explorer has to enter the river alert, focused, and ready, a teacher and speaker needs to enter every teaching space with the same attitude.

2) Preparation will be your best friend.

Practicing the fall

Before we started kayaking, we were given life vests and helmets to wear. After we put on our gear, Tito Anton briefed us on safety measures, then we were placed on kayaks near the river bed where we each had to practice falling.

To tell you the truth, I was relieved at this exercise. For starters, getting dunked into the river helped me get used to the cold water temperature, and it helped me simulate the experience and realize that it wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be.

In the same way, preparing and practicing a talk or a lesson can help lessen fears and help you prepare for possible obstacles. Am I boring myself in this portion of the talk? Then chances are my audience will start yawning, too. Do I need to insert a video or an activity to keep them engaged? Practicing and simulating helps me anticipate possible roadblocks and adjust as needed.

3) When you hit obstacles, you have to keep digging.

The river has a lot of rapids and boulders that can cause the raft or kayak to stop, fly, or flip. My first instinct would just be to stop paddling and grab on to whatever I can until the obstacles pass.

However, we were taught that when those rapids come, all the more we need to paddle harder. Or sometimes they would call out, “Dig!” because the intensity of the paddling that was required looks a lot like digging.

In the same way, it’s easy to just trail off and change the topic when you hit roadblocks in teaching or speaking. Your students or audience look like they’re tuning out, their eyes glaze over, and blank looks or confused faces stare back at you.

Instead of getting discouraged or resorting to rushing through the material, all the more we need to seize the opportunity to keep digging. It could mean asking questions to try to untangle what’s confusing the audience, or it could mean thinking of metaphors or analogies that will help the audience grasp your point better. Of course, the best time to do this would be during the preparation process, but in case you encounter obstacles in the middle of the action, don’t stop and don’t give up. Just keep on digging.

4)  Speaking and teaching can make you nervous and anxious, but it can be fun and exciting. Although you won’t get to experience that until you put yourself out there.

If you read my blog last week, you know that I wasn’t very excited at the thought of white-water rafting. I’m not a fan of open water, much less raging rapids. But now that I’ve tried it, I can say that I’m really glad I did. I had a lot of fun and I enjoyed going through the adventure with my family. It was definitely an experience to remember.

The Happy Survivors!

In the same way, I’ve often found myself absolutely dreading upcoming talks and workshops. But I’ve pushed myself to keep on doing it because, for starters, I’ve been blessed to be able to learn from teachers, mentors, experiences, and books, and my heart is to share the knowledge to help others. And I can’t help but feel joy when a student tells me that they learned a lot (or something like that). It makes every moment of anxiety and every hour spent preparing worth it. Besides, I’ve also learned that feeling nervous is normal. It helps keep me grounded, too!

5) You’ll want to pray all the way.

I’ve realized that it’s all the same with kayaking, white-water rafting, teaching, and speaking: the Lord will be my strength through and through. I stake my confidence on Him more than anything, because my skills and preparation could possibly fall short, but He never will. :)

Are you a teacher/speaker/adventurer? Is there anything else you can add to this list?

Special thanks to Tito Anton Carag and his awesome team from Adventures & Expeditions Philippines, Inc. (AEPI). If you’d like to know more about having your own Cagayan Valley adventure (kayaking/caving/rafting/watching the circadian flight of bats), you can contact AEPI at (078) 844-1298, 0917- 532-7480, or aepi@whitewater.ph. We had a great time taking in the beautiful sights, eating the delicious food, and experiencing the life-changing adventures! We flew to Tuguegarao via Cebu Pacific Air, but our flight home was canceled due to bad weather, so we took a 10-hour bus ride back to Manila via G.V. Florida Bus Transport. Despite the long trip, the ride was very comfortable. Their buses are new, the restroom was clean, and we got to recline and watch movies on-board. If you’re looking to save money, it’s a great alternative. Here are some other photos from the trip:


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